The Secret Places of the Heart
H. G. Wells

Part 2 out of 5

He spoke as if he slammed a door viciously. And indeed he had
slammed a door. The doctor realized that for the present
there was no more self-dissection to be got from Sir

For some time Sir Richmond had been keeping the boat close up
to the foaming weir to the left of the lock by an occasional
stroke. Now with a general air of departure he swung the boat
round and began to row down stream towards the bridge and the
Radiant Hotel.

"Time we had tea," he said,

Section 6

After tea Dr. Martineau left Sir Richmond in a chair upon the
lawn, brooding darkly--apparently over the crime of the
carbuncle. The doctor went to his room, ostensibly to write
a couple of letters and put on a dinner jacket, but really to
make a few notes of the afternoon's conversation and meditate
over his impressions while they were fresh.

His room proffered a comfortable armchair and into this he
sank. . . A number of very discrepant things were busy in his
mind. He had experienced a disconcerting personal attack.
There was a whirl of active resentment in the confusion.

"Apologetics of a rake," he tried presently.

"A common type, stripped of his intellectual dressing. Every
third manufacturer from the midlands or the north has some
such undertow of 'affairs.' A physiological uneasiness, an
imaginative laxity, the temptations of the trip to London--
weakness masquerading as a psychological necessity. The Lady
of the Carbuncle seems to have got rather a hold upon him.
She has kept him in order for three or four years."

The doctor scrutinized his own remarks with a judicious

"I am not being fair. He ruffled me. Even if it is true, as I
said, that every third manufacturer from the midlands is in
much the same case as he is, that does not dismiss the case.
It makes it a more important one, much more important: it
makes it a type case with the exceptional quality of being
self-expressive. Almost too selfexpressive.

"Sir Richmond does, after all, make out a sort of case for
himself. . . .

"A valid case?"

The doctor sat deep in his chair, frowning judicially with
the fingers of one hand apposed to the fingers of the other.
"He makes me bristle because all his life and ideas challenge
my way of living. But if I eliminate the personal element? "

He pulled a sheet of note-paper towards him and began to jot
down notes with a silver-cased pencil. Soon he discontinued
writing and sat tapping his pencil-case on the table. "The
amazing selfishness of his attitude! I do not think that
once--not once--has he judged any woman except as a
contributor to his energy and peace of mind. . . . Except in
the case of his wife. . . .

"For her his habit of respect was formed before his ideas
developed. . . .

"That I think explains HER. . . .

"What was his phrase about the unfortunate young woman with
the carbuncle? . . . 'Totally Useless and unnecessary
illness,' was it? . . .

"Now has a man any right by any standards to use women as
this man has used them?

"By any standards?"

The doctor frowned and nodded his head slowly with the
corners of his mouth drawn in.

For some years now an intellectual reverie had been playing
an increasing part in the good doctor's life. He was writing
this book of his, writing it very deliberately and
laboriously, THE PSYCHOLOGY OF A NEW AGE, but much more was
he dreaming and thinking about this book. Its publication was
to mark an epoch in human thought and human affairs
generally, and create a considerable flutter of astonishment
in the doctor's own little world. It was to bring home to
people some various aspects of one very startling
proposition: that human society had arrived at a phase when
the complete restatement of its fundamental ideas had become
urgently necessary, a phase when the slow, inadequate,
partial adjustments to two centuries of changing conditions
had to give place to a rapid reconstruction of new
fundamental ideas. And it was a fact of great value in the
drama of these secret dreams that the directive force towards
this fundamentally reconstructed world should be the pen of
an unassuming Harley Street physician, hitherto not suspected
of any great excesses of enterprise.

The written portions of this book were already in a highly
polished state. They combined a limitless freedom of proposal
with a smooth urbanity of manner, a tacit denial that the
thoughts of one intelligent being could possibly be shocking
to another. Upon this the doctor was very insistent. Conduct,
he held, could never be sufficiently discreet, thought could
never be sufficiently free. As a citizen, one had to treat a
law or an institution as a thing as rigidly right as a
natural law. That the social well-being demands. But as a
scientific man, in one's stated thoughts and in public
discussion, the case was altogether different. There was no
offence in any possible hypothesis or in the contemplation of
any possibility. Just as when one played a game one was
bound to play in unquestioning obedience to the laws and
spirit of the game, but if one was not playing that game
then there was no reason why one should not contemplate the
completest reversal of all its methods and the alteration and
abandonment of every rule. Correctness of conduct, the doctor
held, was an imperative concomitant of all really free
thinking. Revolutionary speculation is one of those things
that must be divorced absolutely from revolutionary conduct.
It was to the neglect of these obvious principles, as the
doctor considered them, that the general muddle in
contemporary marital affairs was very largely due. We left
divorce-law revision to exposed adulterers and marriage
reform to hot adolescents and craving spinsters driven by the
furies within them to assertions that established nothing and
to practical demonstrations that only left everybody
thoroughly uncomfortable. Far better to leave all these
matters to calm, patient men in easy chairs, weighing typical
cases impartially, ready to condone, indisposed to envy.

In return for which restraint on the part of the eager and
adventurous, the calm patient man was prepared in his
thoughts to fly high and go far. Without giving any
guarantee, of course, that he might not ultimately return to
the comfortable point of inaction from which he started.

In Sir Richmond, Dr. Martineau found the most interesting and
encouraging confirmation of the fundamental idea of THE
PSYCHOLOGY OF A NEW AGE, the immediate need of new criteria
of conduct altogether. Here was a man whose life was
evidently ruled by standards that were at once very high and
very generous. He was overworking himself to the pitch of
extreme distress and apparently he was doing this for ends
that were essentially unselfish. Manifestly there were many
things that an ordinary industrial or political magnate would
do that Sir Richmond would not dream of doing, and a number
of things that such a man would not feel called upon to do
that he would regard as imperative duties. And mixed up with
so much fine intention and fine conduct was this disreputable
streak of intrigue and this extraordinary claim that such
misconduct was necessary to continued vigour of action.

"To energy of thought it is not necessary," said Dr.
Martineau, and considered for a time. "Yet--certainly--I am
not a man of action. I admit it. I make few decisions.

"The chapters of THE PSYCHOLOGY OF A NEW AGE dealing with
women were still undrafted, but they had already greatly
exercised the doctor's mind. He found now that the case of
Sir Richmond had stirred his imagination. He sat with his
hands apposed, his head on one side, and an expression of
great intellectual contentment on his face while these
emancipated ideas gave a sort of gala performance in his

The good doctor did not dislike women, he had always guarded
himself very carefully against misogyny, but he was very
strongly disposed to regard them as much less necessary in
the existing scheme of things than was generally assumed.
Women, he conceded, had laid the foundations of social life.
Through their contrivances and sacrifices and patience the
fierce and lonely patriarchal family-herd of a male and his
women and off spring had grown into the clan and tribe; the
woven tissue of related families that constitute the human
comity had been woven by the subtle, persistent protection of
sons and daughters by their mothers against the intolerant,
jealous, possessive Old Man. But that was a thing, of the
remote past. Little was left of those ancient struggles now
but a few infantile dreams and nightmares. The greater human
community, human society, was made for good. And being made,
it had taken over the ancient tasks of the woman, one by one,
until now in its modern forms it cherished more sedulously
than she did, it educated, it housed and comforted, it
clothed and served and nursed, leaving the wife privileged,
honoured, protected, for the sake of tasks she no longer did
and of a burthen she no longer bore. "Progress has
TRIVIALIZED women," said the doctor, and made a note of the
word for later consideration.

"And woman has trivialized civilization," the doctor tried.

"She has retained her effect of being central, she still
makes the social atmosphere, she raises men's instinctive
hopes of help and direction. Except," the doctor stipulated,
"for a few highly developed modern types, most men found the
sense of achieving her a necessary condition for sustained
exertion. And there is no direction in her any more.

"She spends," said the doctor, "she just spends. She spends
excitingly and competitively for her own pride and glory, she
drives all the energy of men over the weirs of gain. . . .

"What are we to do with the creature?" whispered the doctor.

Apart from the procreative necessity, was woman an
unavoidable evil? The doctor's untrammelled thoughts began to
climb high, spin, nose dive and loop the loop. Nowadays we
took a proper care of the young, we had no need for high
birth rates, quite a small proportion of women with a gift in
that direction could supply all the offspring that the world
wanted. Given the power of determining sex that science was
slowly winning today, and why should we have so many women
about? A drastic elimination of the creatures would be quite
practicable. A fantastic world to a vulgar imagination, no
doubt, but to a calmly reasonable mind by no means fantastic.
But this was where the case of Sir Richmond became so
interesting. Was it really true that the companionship of
women was necessary to these energetic creative types? Was it
the fact that the drive of life towards action, as
distinguished from contemplation, arose out of sex and needed
to be refreshed by the reiteration of that motive? It was a
plausible proposition: it marched with all the doctor's ideas
of natural selection and of the conditions of a survival that
have made us what we are. It was in tune with the Freudian

doctor's silver pencil; "SEX MAY BE ALSO A RENEWAL OF ENERGY

After some musing he crossed out "sex" and wrote above it
"sexual love."

"That is practically what he claims, Dr. Martineau said. "In
which case we want the completest revision of all our
standards of sexual obligation. We want a new system of
restrictions and imperatives altogether."

It was a fixed idea of the doctor's that women were quite
incapable of producing ideas in the same way that men do, but
he believed that with suitable encouragement they could be
induced to respond quite generously to such ideas. Suppose
therefore we really educated the imaginations of women;
suppose we turned their indubitable capacity for service
towards social and political creativeness, not in order to
make them the rivals of men in these fields, but their moral
and actual helpers. "A man of this sort wants a mistress-
mother," said the doctor. "He wants a sort of woman who cares
more for him and his work and honour than she does for child
or home or clothes or personal pride. "But are there such
women? Can there be such a woman?"

"His work needs to be very fine to deserve her help. But
admitting its fineness? . . .

"The alternative seems to be to teach the sexes to get along
without each other.

"A neutralized world. A separated world. How we should jostle
in the streets! But the early Christians have tried it
already. The thing is impossible.

"Very well, then, we have to make women more responsible
again. In a new capacity. We have to educate them far more
seriously as sources of energy--as guardians and helpers of
men. And we have to suppress them far more rigorously as
tempters and dissipaters. Instead of mothering babies they
have to mother the race. . . . "

A vision of women made responsible floated before his eyes.

"Is that man working better since you got hold of him? If
not, why not? "Or again,--Jane Smith was charged with
neglecting her lover to the common danger. . . . The
inspector said the man was in a pitiful state, morally quite
uncombed and infested with vulgar, showy ideas. . . ."

The doctor laughed, telescoped his pencil and stood up.

Section 7

It became evident after dinner that Sir Richmond also had
been thinking over the afternoon's conversation.

He and Dr. Martineau sat in wide-armed cane chairs on the
lawn with a wickerwork table bearing coffee cups and little
glasses between them. A few other diners chatted and
whispered about similar tables but not too close to our
talkers to disturb them; the dining room behind them had
cleared its tables and depressed its illumination. The moon,
in its first quarter, hung above the sunset, sank after
twilight, shone brighter and brighter among the western
trees, and presently had gone, leaving the sky to an
increasing multitude of stars. The Maidenhead river wearing
its dusky blue draperies and its jewels of light had
recovered all the magic Sir Richmond had stripped from it in
the afternoon. The grave arches of the bridge, made complete
circles by the reflexion of the water, sustained, as if by
some unifying and justifying reason, the erratic flat flashes
and streaks and glares of traffic that fretted to and fro
overhead. A voice sang intermittently and a banjo tinkled,
but remotely enough to be indistinct and agreeable.

"After all," Sir Richmond began abruptly," the search for
some sort of sexual modus vivendi is only a means to an end.
One does not want to live for sex but only through sex. The
main thing in my life has always been my work. This
afternoon, under the Maidenhead influence, I talked too much
of sex. I babbled. Of things one doesn't usually . . . "

"It was very illuminating," said the doctor.

"No doubt. But a temporary phase. It is the defective bearing
talks. . . . Just now--I happen to be irritated."

The darkness concealed a faint smile on the doctor's face.

"The work is the thing," said Sir Richmond. So long as one
can keep one's grip on it."

"What," said the doctor after a pause, leaning back and
sending wreaths of smoke up towards the star-dusted zenith,
"what is your idea of your work? I mean, how do you see it in
relation to yourself--and things generally?"

"Put in the most general terms?"

"Put in the most general terms."

"I wonder if I can put it in general terms for you at all. It
is hard to put something one is always thinking about in
general terms or to think of it as a whole. . . . Now. . . .
Fuel? . . .

"I suppose it was my father's business interests that pushed
me towards specialization in fuel. He wanted me to have a
thoroughly scientific training in days when a scientific
training was less easy to get for a boy than it is today. And
much more inspiring when you got it. My mind was framed, so
to speak, in geology and astronomical physics. I grew up to
think on that scale. Just as a man who has been trained in
history and law grows to think on the scale of the Roman
empire. I don't know what your pocket map of the universe is,
the map, I mean, by which you judge all sorts of other
general ideas. To me this planet is a little ball of oxides
and nickel steel; life a sort of tarnish on its surface. And
we, the minutest particles in that tarnish. Who can
nevertheless, in some unaccountable way, take in the idea of
this universe as one whole, who begin to dream of taking
control of it."

"That is not a bad statement of the scientific point of view.
I suppose I have much the same general idea of the world. On
rather more psychological lines."

"We think, I suppose, said Sir Richmond, of life as something
that is only just beginning to be aware of what it is--and
what it might be."

"Exactly," said the doctor. "Good."

He went on eagerly. "That is precisely how I see it. You and
I are just particles in the tarnish, as you call it, who are
becoming dimly awake to what we are, to what we have in
common. Only a very few of us have got as far even as this.
These others here, for example . . . ."

He indicated the rest of Maidenhead by a movement.

"Desire, mutual flattery, egotistical dreams, greedy
solicitudes fill them up. They haven't begun to get out of

"We, I suppose, have," doubted Sir Richmond.

"We have."

The doctor had no doubt. He lay back in his chair, with his
hands behind his head and his smoke ascending vertically to
heaven. With the greatest contentment he began quoting
himself. "This getting out of one's individuality--this
conscious getting out of one's individuality--is one of the
most important and interesting aspects of the psychology of
the new age that is now dawning. As compared with any
previous age. Unconsciously, of course, every true artist,
every philosopher, every scientific investigator, so far as
his art or thought went, has always got out of himself,--has
forgotten his personal interests and become Man thinking for
the whole race. And intimations of the same thing have been
at the heart of most religions. But now people are beginning
to get this detachment without any distinctively religious
feeling or any distinctive aesthetic or intellectual impulse,
as if it were a plain matter of fact. Plain matter of fact,
that we are only incidentally ourselves. That really each one
of us is also the whole species, is really indeed all life. "

"A part of it."

"An integral part-as sight is part of a man . . . with no
absolute separation from all the rest--no more than a
separation of the imagination. The whole so far as his
distinctive quality goes. I do not know how this takes shape
in your mind, Sir Richmond, but to me this idea of actually
being life itself upon the world, a special phase of it
dependent upon and connected with all other phases, and of
being one of a small but growing number of people who
apprehend that, and want to live in the spirit of that, is
quite central. It is my fundamental idea. We,--this small
but growing minority--constitute that part of life which
knows and wills and tries to rule its destiny. This new
realization, the new psychology arising out of it is a fact
of supreme importance in the history of life. It is like the
appearance of self-consciousness in some creature that has
not hitherto had self-consciousness. And so far as we are
concerned, we are the true kingship of the world.
Necessarily. We who know, are the true king. . . .I wonder
how this appeals to you. It is stuff I have thought out very
slowly and carefully and written and approved. It is the very
core of my life. . . . And yet when one comes to say these
things to someone else, face to face. . . . It is much more
difficult to say than to write."

Sir Richmond noted how the doctor's chair creaked as he
rolled to and fro with the uneasiness of these intimate

"I agree," said Sir Richmond presently. "One DOES think in
this fashion. Something in this fashion. What one calls one's
work does belong to something much bigger than ourselves.

"Something much bigger," he expanded.

"Which something we become," the doctor urged, "in so far as
our work takes hold of us."

Sir Richmond made no answer to this for a little while. "Of
course we trail a certain egotism into our work," he said.

"Could we do otherwise? But it has ceased to be purely
egotism. It is no longer, 'I am I' but 'I am part.'. . . One
wants to be an honourable part."

"You think of man upon his planet," the doctor pursued. "I
think of life rather as a mind that tries itself over in
millions and millions of trials. But it works out to the same

"I think in terms of fuel," said Sir Richmond.

He was still debating the doctor's generalization. "I suppose
it would be true to say that I think of myself as mankind on
his planet, with very considerable possibilities and with
only a limited amount of fuel at his disposal to achieve
them. Yes. . . . I agree that I think in that way. . . . I
have not thought much before of the way in which I think
about things--but I agree that it is in that way. Whatever
enterprises mankind attempts are limited by the sum total of
that store of fuel upon the planet. That is very much in my
mind. Besides that he has nothing but his annual allowance of
energy from the sun."

"I thought that presently we were to get unlimited energy
from atoms," said the doctor.

"I don't believe in that as a thing immediately practicable.
No doubt getting a supply of energy from atoms is a
theoretical possibility, just as flying was in the time of
Daedalus; probably there were actual attempts at some sort of
glider in ancient Crete. But before we get to the actual
utilization of atomic energy there will be ten thousand
difficult corners to turn; we may have to wait three or four
thousand years for it. We cannot count on it. We haven't it
in hand. There may be some impasse. All we have surely is
coal and oil,--there is no surplus of wood now--only an
annual growth. And water-power is income also, doled out day
by day. We cannot anticipate it. Coal and oil are our only
capital. They are all we have for great important efforts.
They are a gift to mankind to use to some supreme end or to
waste in trivialities. Coal is the key to metallurgy and oil
to transit. When they are done we shall either have built up
such a fabric of apparatus, knowledge and social organization
that we shall be able to manage without them--or we shall
have travelled a long way down the slopes of waste towards
extinction. . . . To-day, in getting, in distribution, in use
we waste enormously. . . .As we sit here all the world is
wasting fuel fantastically."

"Just as mentally--educationally we waste," the doctor

"And my job is to stop what I can of that waste, to do what I
can to organize, first of all sane fuel getting and then sane
fuel using. And that second proposition carries us far. Into
the whole use we are making of life.

"First things first," said Sir Richmond. If we set about
getting fuel sanely, if we do it as the deliberate,
co-operative act of the whole species, then it follows that
we shall look very closely into the use that is being made of
it. When all the fuel getting is brought into one view as a
common interest, then it follows that all the fuel burning
will be brought into one view. At present we are getting fuel
in a kind of scramble with no general aim. We waste and lose
almost as much as we get. And of what we get, the waste is

"I won't trouble you," said Sir Richmond, "with any long
discourse on the ways of getting fuel in this country. But
land as you know is owned in patches and stretches that were
determined in the first place chiefly by agricultural
necessities. When it was divided up among its present owners
nobody was thinking about the minerals beneath. But the
lawyers settled long ago that the landowner owned his land
right down to the centre of the earth. So we have the
superficial landlord as coal owner trying to work his coal
according to the superficial divisions, quite irrespective of
the lie of the coal underneath. Each man goes for the coal
under his own land in his own fashion. You get three shafts
where one would suffice and none of them in the best possible
place. You get the coal coming out of this point when it
would be far more convenient to bring it out at that--miles
away. You get boundary walls of coal between the estates,
abandoned, left in the ground for ever. And each coal owner
sells his coal in his own pettifogging manner... But you know
of these things. You know too how we trail the coal all over
the country, spoiling it as we trail it, until at last we get
it into the silly coal scuttles beside the silly, wasteful,
airpoisoning, fog-creating fireplace.

"And this stuff," said Sir Richmond, bringing his hand down
so smartly on the table that the startled coffee cups cried
out upon the tray; "was given to men to give them power over
metals, to get knowledge with, to get more power with."

"The oil story, I suppose, is as bad."

"The oil story is worse. . . .

"There is a sort of cant," said Sir Richmond in a fierce
parenthesis, "that the supplies of oil are inexhaustible--
that you can muddle about with oil anyhow. . . . Optimism of
knaves and imbeciles. . . . They don't want to be pulled up
by any sane considerations. . . ."

For some moments he kept silence--as if in unspeakable

"Here I am with some clearness of vision--my only gift; not
very clever, with a natural bad temper, and a strong sexual
bias, doing what I can to get a broader handling of the fuel
question--as a common interest for all mankind. And I find
myself up against a lot of men, subtle men, sharp men,
obstinate men, prejudiced men, able to get round me, able to
get over me, able to blockade me. . . . Clever men--yes, and
all of them ultimately damned--oh! utterly damned--fools.
Coal owners who think only of themselves, solicitors who
think backwards, politicians who think like a game of cat's-
cradle, not a gleam of generosity not a gleam."

"What particularly are you working for?" asked the doctor.

"I want to get the whole business of the world's fuel
discussed and reported upon as one affair so that some day it
may be handled as one affair in the general interest."

"The world, did you say? You meant the empire?"

"No, the world. It is all one system now. You can't work it
in bits. I want to call in foreign representatives from the


"No. With powers. These things interlock now internationally
both through labour and finance. The sooner we scrap this
nonsense about an autonomous British Empire complete in
itself, contra mundum, the better for us. A world control is
fifty years overdue. Hence these disorders. "

"Still--it's rather a difficult proposition, as things are."

"Oh, Lord! don't I know it's difficult!" cried Sir Richmond
in the tone of one who swears. "Don't I know that perhaps
it's impossible! But it's the only way to do it. Therefore, I
say, let's try to get it done. And everybody says, difficult,
difficult, and nobody lifts a finger to try. And the only
real difficulty is that everybody for one reason or another
says that it's difficult. It's against human nature. Granted!
Every decent thing is. It's socialism. Who cares? Along this
line of comprehensive scientific control the world has to go
or it will retrogress, it will muddle and rot. . . ."

"I agree," said Dr. Martineau.

"So I want a report to admit that distinctly. I want it to go
further than that. I want to get the beginnings, the germ, of
a world administration. I want to set up a permanent world
commission of scientific men and economists--with powers,
just as considerable powers as I can give them--they'll be
feeble powers at the best--but still some sort of SAY in the
whole fuel supply of the world. A say--that may grow at last
to a control. A right to collect reports and receive accounts
for example, to begin with. And then the right to make
recommendations. . . . You see? . . . No, the international
part is not the most difficult part of it. But my beastly
owners and their beastly lawyers won't relinquish a scrap of
what they call their freedom of action. And my labour men,
because I'm a fairly big coal owner myself, sit and watch and
suspect me, too stupid to grasp what I am driving at and too
incompetent to get out a scheme of their own. They want a
world control on scientific lines even less than the owners.
They try to think that fuel production can carry an unlimited
wages bill and the owners try to think that it can pay
unlimited profits, and when I say; 'This business is
something more than a scramble for profits and wages; it's a
service and a common interest,' they stare at me--" Sir
Richmond was at a loss for an image. "Like a committee in a
thieves' kitchen when someone has casually mentioned the

"But will you ever get your Permanent Commission?"

"It can be done. If I can stick it out."

"But with the whole Committee against you!"

"The curious thing is that the whole Committee isn't against
me. Every individual is . . . ."

Sir Richmond found it difficult to express. "The psychology
of my Committee ought to interest you. . . . It is probably a
fair sample of the way all sorts of things are going
nowadays. It's curious. . . . There is not a man on that
Committee who is quite comfortable within himself about the
particular individual end he is there to serve. It's there I
get them. They pursue their own ends bitterly and obstinately
I admit, but they are bitter and obstinate because they
pursue them against an internal opposition--which is on my
side. They are terrified to think, if once they stopped
fighting me, how far they might not have to go with me."

"A suppressed world conscience in fact. This marches very
closely with my own ideas."

"A world conscience? World conscience? I don't know. But I do
know that there is this drive in nearly every member of the
Committee, some drive anyhow, towards the decent thing. It is
the same drive that drives me. But I am the most driven. It
has turned me round. It hasn't turned them. I go East and
they go West. And they don't want to be turned round.
Tremendously, they don't."

"Creative undertow," said Dr. Martineau, making notes, as it
were. "An increasing force in modern life. In the psychology
of a new age strengthened by education--it may play a
directive part."

"They fight every little point. But, you see, because of this
creative undertow--if you like to call it that--we do get
along. I am leader or whipper-in, it is hard to say which, of
a bolting flock. . . .I believe they will report for a
permanent world commission; I believe I have got them up to
that; but they will want to make it a bureau of this League
of Nations, and I have the profoundest distrust of this
League of Nations. It may turn out to be a sort of side-
tracking arrangement for all sorts of important world issues.
And they will find they have to report for some sort of
control. But there again they will shy. They will report for
it and then they will do their utmost to whittle it down
again. They will refuse it the most reasonable powers. They
will alter the composition of the Committee so as to make it


"Get rid of the independent scientific men, load it up so far
as Britain is concerned with muck of the colonial politician
type and tame labour representatives, balance with shady new
adventurer millionaires, get in still shadier stuff from
abroad, let these gentry appoint their own tame experts after
their own hearts,--experts who will make merely advisory
reports, which will not be published. . . ."

"They want in fact to keep the old system going under the
cloak of YOUR Committee, reduced to a cloak and nothing

"That is what it amounts to. They want to have the air of
doing right--indeed they do want to have the FEEL of doing
right--and still leave things just exactly what they were
before. And as I suffer under the misfortune of seeing the
thing rather more clearly, I have to shepherd the conscience
of the whole Committee. . . . But there is a conscience
there. If I can hold out myself, I can hold the Committee."

He turned appealingly to the doctor. "Why should I have to be
the conscience of that damned Committee? Why should I do this
exhausting inhuman job? . . . . In their hearts these others
know. . . . Only they won't know. . . . Why should it fall
on me?"

"You have to go through with it," said Dr. Martineau.

"I have to go through with it, but it's a hell of utterly
inglorious squabbling. They bait me. They have been fighting
the same fight within themselves that they fight with me.
They know exactly where I am, that I too am doing my job
against internal friction. The one thing before all others
that they want to do is to bring me down off my moral high
horse. And I loathe the high horse. I am in a position of
special moral superiority to men who are on the whole as good
men as I am or better. That shows all the time. You see the
sort of man I am. I've a broad streak of personal vanity. I
fag easily. I'm short-tempered. I've other things, as you
perceive. When I fag I become obtuse, I repeat and bore, I
get viciously ill-tempered, I suffer from an intolerable
sense of ill usage. Then that ass, Wagstaffe, who ought to be
working with me steadily, sees his chance to be pleasantly
witty. He gets a laugh round the table at my expense. Young
Dent, the more intelligent of the labour men, reads me a
lecture in committee manners. Old Cassidy sees HIS opening
and jabs some ridiculous petty accusation at me and gets me
spluttering self-defence like a fool. All my stock goes down,
and as my stock goes down the chances of a good report
dwindle. Young Dent grieves to see me injuring my own case.
Too damned a fool to see what will happen to the report! You
see if only they can convince themselves I am just a prig and
an egotist and an impractical bore, they escape from a great
deal more than my poor propositions. They escape from the
doubt in themselves. By dismissing me they dismiss their own
consciences. And then they can scamper off and be sensible
little piggy-wigs and not bother any more about what is to
happen to mankind in the long run. . . . Do you begin to
realize the sort of fight, upside down in a dustbin, that
that Committee is for me?"

"You have to go through with it," Dr. Martineau repeated.

"I have. If I can. But I warn you I have been near breaking
point. And if I tumble off the high horse, if I can't keep
going regularly there to ride the moral high horse, that
Committee will slump into utter scoundrelism. It will turn
out a long, inconsistent, botched, unreadable report that
will back up all sorts of humbugging bargains and sham
settlements. It will contain some half-baked scheme to pacify
the miners at the expense of the general welfare. It won't
even succeed in doing that. But in the general confusion old
Cassidy will get away with a series of hauls that may run
into millions. Which will last his time--damn him! And that
is where we are. . . . Oh! I know! I know! . . . . I must do
this job. I don't need any telling that my life will be
nothing and mean nothing unless I bring this thing
through. . . .

"But the thanklessness of playing this lone hand!"

The doctor watched his friend's resentful black silhouette
against the lights on the steely river, and said nothing for

"Why did I ever undertake to play it?" Sir Richmond appealed.
"Why has it been put upon me? Seeing what a poor thing I am,
why am I not a poor thing altogether?"

Section 8

"I think I understand that loneliness of yours, said the
doctor after an interval.

"I am INTOLERABLE to myself."

"And I think it explains why it is that you turn to women as
you do. You want help; you want reassurance. And you feel
they can give it."

"I wonder if it has been quite like that," Sir Richmond

By an effort Dr. Martineau refrained from mentioning the
mother complex. "You want help and reassurance as a child
does," he said. "Women and women alone seem capable of giving
that, of telling you that you are surely right, that
notwithstanding your blunders you are right; that even when
you are wrong it doesn't so much matter, you are still in
spirit right. They can show their belief in you as no man
can. With all their being they can do that."

"Yes, I suppose they could."

"They can. You have said already that women are necessary to
make things real for you."

"Not my work," said Sir Richmond. "I admit that it might be
like that, but it isn't like that. It has not worked out like
that. The two drives go on side by side in me. They have no
logical connexion. All I can say is that for me, with my
bifid temperament, one makes a rest from the other, and is so
far refreshment and a renewal of energy. But I do not find
women coming into my work in any effectual way. "

The doctor reflected further. "I suppose," he began and
stopped short.

He heard Sir Richmond move in his chair, creaking an

"You have never," said the doctor, "turned to the idea of

Sir Richmond grunted and made no other answer for the better
part of a minute.

As Dr. Martineau waited for his companion to speak, a falling
star streaked the deep blue above them.

"I can't believe in a God," said Sir Richmond.

"Something after the fashion of a God," said the doctor

"No," said Sir Richmond. "Nothing that reassures."

"But this loneliness, this craving for companionship. . . ."

"We have all been through that," said Sir Richmond. "We have
all in our time lain very still in the darkness with our
souls crying out for the fellowship of God, demanding some
sign, some personal response. The faintest feeling of
assurance would have satisfied us."

"And there has never been a response?"

"Have YOU ever had a response?"

"Once I seemed to have a feeling of exaltation and security."


"Perhaps I only persuaded myself that I had. I had been
reading William James on religious experiences and I was
thinking very much of Conversion. I tried to experience
Conversion. . . ."

"Yes? "

"It faded."

"It always fades," said Sir Richmond with anger in his voice.
"I wonder how many people there are nowadays who have passed
through this last experience of ineffectual invocation, this
appeal to the fading shadow of a vanished God. In the night.
In utter loneliness. Answer me! Speak to me! Does he answer?
In the silence you hear the little blood vessels whisper in
your ears. You see a faint glow of colour on the
darkness. . . . "

Dr. Martineau sat without a word.

"I can believe that over all things Righteousness rules. I
can believe that. But Righteousness is not friendliness nor
mercy nor comfort nor any such dear and intimate things. This
cuddling up to Righteousness! It is a dream, a delusion and a
phase. I've tried all that long ago. I've given it up long
ago. I've grown out of it. Men do--after forty. Our souls
were made in the squatting-place of the submen of ancient
times. They are made out of primitive needs and they die
before our bodies as those needs are satisfied. Only young
people have souls, complete. The need for a personal God,
feared but reassuring, is a youth's need. I no longer fear
the Old Man nor want to propitiate the Old Man nor believe he
matters any more. I'm a bit of an Old Man myself I discover.
Yes. But the other thing still remains. "

"The Great Mother of the Gods," said Dr. Martineau--still
clinging to his theories.

"The need of the woman," said Sir Richmond. "I want mating
because it is my nature to mate. I want fellowship because I
am a social animal and I want it from another social animal.
Not from any God--any inconceivable God. Who fades and
disappears. No. . . .

"Perhaps that other need will fade presently. I do not know.
Perhaps it lasts as long as life does. How can I tell?"

He was silent for a little while. Then his voice sounded in
the night, as if he spoke to himself. "But as for the God of
All Things consoling and helping! Imagine it! That up there--
having fellowship with me! I would as soon think of cooling
my throat with the Milky Way or shaking hands with those



Section 1

A gust of confidence on the part of a person naturally or
habitually reserved will often be followed by a phase of
recoil. At breakfast next morning their overnight talk seemed
to both Sir Richmond and Dr. Martineau like something each
had dreamt about the other, a quite impossible excess of
intimacy. They discussed the weather, which seemed to be
settling down to the utmost serenity of which the English
spring is capable, they talked of Sir Richmond's coming car
and of the possible routes before them. Sir Richmond produced
the Michelin maps which he had taken out of the pockets of
the little Charmeuse. The Bath Road lay before them, he
explained, Reading, Newbury, Hungerford, Marlborough, Silbury
Hill which overhangs Avebury. Both travellers discovered a
common excitement at the mention of Avebury and Silbury Hill.
Both took an intelligent interest in archaeology. Both had
been greatly stimulated by the recent work of Elliot Smith
and Rivers upon what was then known as the Heliolithic
culture. It had revived their interest in Avebury and
Stonehenge. The doctor moreover had been reading Hippisley

Neither gentleman had ever seen Avebury, but Dr. Martineau
had once visited Stonehenge.

"Avebury is much the oldest," said the doctor. They must have
made Silbury Hill long before 2000 B.C. It may be five
thousand years old or even more. It is the most important
historical relic in the British Isles. And the most
neglected. "

They exchanged archaeological facts. The secret places of the
heart rested until the afternoon.

Then Sir Richmond saw fit to amplify his confessions in one

Section 2

The doctor and his patient had discovered a need for exercise
as the morning advanced. They had walked by the road to
Marlow and had lunched at a riverside inn, returning after a
restful hour in an arbour on the lawn of this place to tea at
Maidenhead. It was as they returned that Sir Richmond took up
the thread of their overnight conversation again.

"In the night," he said, "I was thinking over the account I
tried to give you of my motives. A lot of it was terribly out
of drawing."

"Facts?" asked the doctor.

"No, the facts were all right. It was the atmosphere, the
proportions. . . . I don't know if I gave you the effect of
something Don Juanesque? . . ."

"Vulgar poem," said the doctor remarkably." I discounted


"Intolerable. Byron in sexual psychology is like a stink in a

Sir Richmond perceived he had struck upon the sort of thing
that used to be called a pet aversion.

"I don't want you to think that I run about after women in an
habitual and systematic manner. Or that I deliberately hunt
them in the interests of my work and energy. Your questions
had set me theorizing about myself. And I did my best to
improvise a scheme of motives yesterday. It was, I perceive,
a jerry-built scheme, run up at short notice. My nocturnal
reflections convinced me of that. I put reason into things
that are essentially instinctive. The truth is that the
wanderings of desire have no single drive. All sorts of
motives come in, high and low, down to sheer vulgar
imitativeness and competitiveness. What was true in it all
was this, that a man with any imagination in a fatigue phase
falls naturally into these complications because they are
more attractive to his type and far easier and more
refreshing to the mind, at the outset, than anything else.
And they do work a sort of recovery in him, They send him
back to his work refreshed--so far, that is, as his work is

"At the OUTSET they are easier," said the doctor.

Sir Richmond laughed. "When one is fagged it is only the
outset counts. The more tired one is the more readily one
moves along the line of least resistance. . . .

"That is one footnote to what I said. So far as the motive of
my work goes, I think we got something like the spirit of it.
What I said about that was near the truth of things. . . .

"But there is another set of motives altogether, "Sir
Richmond went on with an air of having cleared the ground for
his real business, "that I didn't go into at all yesterday."

He considered. "It arises out of these other affairs. Before
you realize it your affections are involved. I am a man much
swayed by my affections."

Mr. Martineau glanced at him. There was a note of genuine
self-reproach in Sir Richmond's voice.

"I get fond of people. It is quite irrational, but I get fond
of them. Which is quite a different thing from the admiration
and excitement of falling in love. Almost the opposite thing.
They cry or they come some mental or physical cropper and
hurt themselves, or they do something distressingly little
and human and suddenly I find they've GOT me. I'm distressed.
I'm filled with something between pity and an impulse of
responsibility. I become tender towards them. I am impelled
to take care of them. I want to ease them off, to reassure
them, to make them stop hurting at any cost. I don't see why
it should be the weak and sickly and seamy side of people
that grips me most, but it is. I don't know why it should be
their failures that gives them power over me, but it is. I
told you of this girl, this mistress of mine, who is ill just
now. SHE'S got me in that way; she's got me tremendously."

"You did not speak of her yesterday with any morbid excess of
pity," the doctor was constrained to remark.

"I abused her very probably. I forget exactly what I
said. . . ."

The doctor offered no assistance.

"But the reason why I abuse her is perfectly plain. I abuse
her because she distresses me by her misfortunes and instead
of my getting anything out of her, I go out to her. But I DO
go out to her. All this time at the back of my mind I am
worrying about her. She has that gift of making one feel for
her. I am feeling that damned carbuncle almost as if it had
been my affair instead of hers.

"That carbuncle has made me suffer FRIGHTFULLY. . . . Why
should I? It isn't mine."

He regarded the doctor earnestly. The doctor controlled a
strong desire to laugh.

"I suppose the young lady--" he began.

"Oh! SHE puts in suffering all right. I've no doubt about

"I suppose," Sir Richmond went on, "now that I have told you
so much of this affair, I may as well tell you all. It is a
sort of comedy, a painful comedy, of irrelevant affections."

The doctor was prepared to be a good listener. Facts he would
always listen to; it was only when people told him their
theories that he would interrupt with his "Exactly."

"This young woman is a person of considerable genius. I don't
know if you have seen in the illustrated papers a peculiar
sort of humorous illustrations usually with a considerable
amount of bite in them over the name of Martin Leeds?

"Extremely amusing stuff."

"It is that Martin Leeds. I met her at the beginning of her
career. She talks almost as well as she draws. She amused me
immensely. I'm not the sort of man who waylays and besieges
women and girls. I'm not the pursuing type. But I perceived
that in some odd way I attracted her and I was neither wise
enough nor generous enough not to let the thing develop."

"H'm," said Dr. Martineau.

"I'd never had to do with an intellectually brilliant woman
before. I see now that the more imaginative force a woman
has, the more likely she is to get into a state of extreme
self-abandonment with any male thing upon which her
imagination begins to crystallize. Before I came along she'd
mixed chiefly with a lot of young artists and students, all
doing nothing at all except talk about the things they were
going to do. I suppose I profited by the contrast, being
older and with my hands full of affairs. Perhaps something
had happened that had made her recoil towards my sort of
thing. I don't know. But she just let herself go at me."

"And you?"

"Let myself go too. I'd never met anything like her before.
It was her wit took me. It didn't occur to me that she wasn't
my contemporary and as able as I was. As able to take care of
herself. All sorts of considerations that I should have shown
to a sillier woman I never dreamt of showing to her. I had
never met anyone so mentally brilliant before or so helpless
and headlong. And so here we are on each other's hands! "

"But the child?

"It happened to us. For four years now things have just
happened to us. All the time I have been overworking, first
at explosives and now at this fuel business. She too is full
of her work.

"Nothing stops that though everything seems to interfere with
it. And in a distraught, preoccupied way we are abominably
fond of each other. 'Fond' is the word. But we are both too
busy to look after either ourselves or each other.

"She is much more incapable than I am," said Sir Richmond as
if he delivered a weighed and very important judgment.

"You see very much of each other?"

"She has a flat in Chelsea and a little cottage in South
Cornwall, and we sometimes snatch a few days together, away
somewhere in Surrey or up the Thames or at such a place as
Southend where one is lost in a crowd of inconspicuous
people. "Then things go well--they usually go well at the
start--we are glorious companions. She is happy, she is
creative, she will light up a new place with flashes of
humour, with a keenness of appreciation . . . . "

"But things do not always go well?"

"Things," said Sir Richmond with the deliberation of a man
who measures his words, "are apt to go wrong. . . . At the
flat there is constant trouble with the servants; they bully
her. A woman is more entangled with servants than a man.
Women in that position seem to resent the work and freedom of
other women. Her servants won't leave her in peace as they
would leave a man; they make trouble for her. . . . And when
we have had a few days anywhere away, even if nothing in
particular has gone wrong--"

Sir Richmond stopped short.

"When they go wrong it is generally her fault," the doctor

"Almost always."

"But if they don't?" said the psychiatrist.

"It is difficult to describe. . . . The essential
incompatibility of the whole thing comes out."

The doctor maintained his expression of intelligent interest.

"She wants to go on with her work. She is able to work
anywhere. All she wants is just cardboard and ink. My mind on
the other hand turns back to the Fuel Commission . . . ."

"Then any little thing makes trouble."

"Any little thing makes trouble. And we always drift round to
the same discussion; whether we ought really to go on

"It is you begin that?"

"Yes, I start that. You see she is perfectly contented when I
am about. She is as fond of me as I am of her."

"Fonder perhaps."

'I don't know. But she is--adhesive. Emotionally adhesive.
All she wants to do is just to settle down when I am there
and go on with her work. But then, you see, there is MY

"Exactly. . . . After all it seems to me that your great
trouble is not in yourselves but in social institutions.
Which haven't yet fitted themselves to people like you two.
It is the sense of uncertainty makes her, as you say,
adhesive. Nervously so. If we were indeed living in a new age
Instead of the moral ruins of a shattered one--"

"We can't alter the age we live in," said Sir Richmond a
little testily.

"No. Exactly. But we CAN realize, in any particular
situation, that it is not the individuals to blame but the
misfit of ideas and forms and prejudices."

"No," said Sir Richmond, obstinately rejecting this pacifying
suggestion; "she could adapt herself. If she cared enough."

"But how?"

"She will not take the slightest trouble to adjust herself to
the peculiarities of our position. . . . She could be
cleverer. Other women are cleverer. Any other woman almost
would be cleverer than she is."

"But if she was cleverer, she wouldn't be the genius she is.
She would just be any other woman."

"Perhaps she would," said Sir Richmond darkly and
desperately. "Perhaps she would. Perhaps it would be better
if she was."

Dr. Martineau raised his eyebrows in a furtive aside.

"But here you see that it is that in my case, the fundamental
incompatibility between one's affections and one's wider
conception of duty and work comes in. We cannot change social
institutions in a year or a lifetime. We can never change
them to suit an individual case. That would be like
suspending the laws of gravitation in order to move a piano.
As things are, Martin is no good to me, no help to me. She
is a rival to my duty. She feels that. She is hostile to my
duty. A definite antagonism has developed. She feels and
treats fuel--and everything to do with fuel as a bore. It is
an attack. We quarrel on that. It isn't as though I found it
so easy to stick to my work that I could disregard her
hostility. And I can't bear to part from her. I threaten it,
distress her excessively and then I am overcome by sympathy
for her and I go back to her. . . . In the ordinary course of
things I should be with her now."

"If it were not for the carbuncle?"

"If it were not for the carbuncle. She does not care for me
to see her disfigured. She does not understand--" Sir
Richmond was at a loss for a phrase--"that it is not her good

"She won't let you go to her?"

"It amounts to that. . . . And soon there will be all the
trouble about educating the girl. Whatever happens, she must
have as good a chance as--anyone. . . . "

"Ah! That is worrying you too!"

"Frightfully at times. If it were a boy it would be easier.
It needs constant tact and dexterity to fix things up.
Neither of us have any. It needs attention. . . . "

Sir Richmond mused darkly.

Dr. Martineau thought aloud. "An incompetent delightful
person with Martin Leeds's sense of humour. And her powers of
expression. She must be attractive to many people. She could
probably do without you. If once you parted."

Sir Richmond turned on him eagerly.

"You think I ought to part from her? On her account?"

"On her account. It might pain her. But once the thing was

"I want to part. I believe I ought to part."


"But then my affection comes in."

"That extraordinary--TENDERNESS of yours?"

"I'm afraid."

"Of what?"

"Anyone might get hold of her--if I let her down. She hasn't
a tithe of the ordinary coolheaded calculation of an average
woman. . . . I've a duty to her genius. I've got to take care
of her."

To which the doctor made no reply.

"Nevertheless the idea of parting has been very much in my
mind lately."

"Letting her go FREE?"

"You can put it in that way if you like."

"It might not be a fatal operation for either of you."

"And yet there are moods when parting is an intolerable idea.
When one is invaded by a flood of affection.". . . . And old
habits of association."

Dr. Martineau thought. Was that the right word,--affection?
Perhaps it was.

They had come out on the towing path close by the lock and
they found themselves threading their way through a little
crowd of boating people and lookers-on. For a time their
conversation was broken. Sir Richmond resumed it.

"But this is where we cease to be Man on his Planet and all
the rest of it. This is where the idea of a definite task,
fanatically followed to the exclusion of all minor
considerations, breaks down. When the work is good, when we
are sure we are all right, then we may carry off things with
a high hand. But the work isn't always good, we aren't always
sure. We blunder, we make a muddle, we are fatigued. Then the
sacrificed affections come in as accusers. Then it is that we
want to be reassured."

"And then it is that Miss Martin Leeds--?"

"Doesn't," Sir Richmond snapped.

Came a long pause.

"And yet--

"It is extraordinarily difficult to think of parting from

Section 3

In the evening after dinner Dr. Martineau sought, rather
unsuccessfully, to go on with the analysis of Sir Richmond.

But Sir Richmond was evidently a creature of moods. Either he
regretted the extent of his confidences or the slight
irrational irritation that he felt at waiting for his car
affected his attitude towards his companion, or Dr.
Martineau's tentatives were ill-chosen. At any rate he would
not rise to any conversational bait that the doctor could
devise. The doctor found this the more regrettable because it
seemed to him that there was much to be worked upon in this
Martin Leeds affair. He was inclined to think that she and
Sir Richmond were unduly obsessed by the idea that they had
to stick together because of the child, because of the look
of the thing and so forth, and that really each might be
struggling against a very strong impulse indeed to break off
the affair. It seemed evident to the doctor that they jarred
upon and annoyed each other extremely. On the whole
separating people appealed to a doctor's mind more strongly
than bringing them together. Accordingly he framed his
enquiries so as to make the revelation of a latent antipathy
as easy as possible.

He made several not very well-devised beginnings. At the
fifth Sir Richmond was suddenly conclusive. "It's no use," he
said, "I can't fiddle about any more with my motives

An awkward silence followed. On reflection Sir Richmond
seemed to realize that this sentence needed some apology. "I
admit," he said, "that this expedition has already been a
wonderfully good thing for me. These confessions have made me
look into all sorts of things-squarely. But--

"I'm not used to talking about myself or even thinking
directly about myself. What I say, I afterwards find
disconcerting to recall. I want to alter it. I can feel
myself wallowing into a mess of modifications and

"Yes, but--"

"I want a rest anyhow. . . ."

There was nothing for Dr. Martineau to say to that.

The two gentlemen smoked for some time in a slightly
uncomfortable silence. Dr. Martineau cleared his throat twice
and lit a second cigar. They then agreed to admire the bridge
and think well of Maidenhead. Sir Richmond communicated
hopeful news about his car, which was to arrive the next
morning before ten--he'd just ring the fellow up presently to
make sure--and Dr. Martineau retired early and went rather
thoughtfully to bed. The spate of Sir Richmond's confidences,
it was evident, was over.

Section 4

Sir Richmond's car arrived long before ten, brought down by a
young man in a state of scared alacrity--Sir Richmond had
done some vigorous telephoning before turning in,--the
Charmeuse set off in a repaired and chastened condition to
town, and after a leisurely breakfast our two investigators
into the springs of human conduct were able to resume their
westward journey. They ran through scattered Twyford with its
pleasant looking inns and through the commonplace urbanities
of Reading, by Newbury and Hungerford's pretty bridge and up
long wooded slopes to Savernake forest, where they found the
road heavy and dusty, still in its war-time state, and so
down a steep hill to the wide market street which is
Marlborough. They lunched in Marlborough and went on in the
afternoon to Silbury Hill, that British pyramid, the largest
artificial mound in Europe. They left the car by the roadside
and clambered to the top and were very learned and
inconclusive about the exact purpose of this vast heap of
chalk and earth, this heap that men had made before the
temples at Karnak were built or Babylon had a name.

Then they returned to the car and ran round by a winding road
into the wonder of Avebury. They found a clean little inn
there kept by pleasant people, and they garaged the car in
the cowshed and took two rooms for the night that they might
the better get the atmosphere of the ancient place. Wonderful
indeed it is, a vast circumvallation that was already two
thousand years old before the dawn of British history; a
great wall of earth with its ditch most strangely on its
inner and not on its outer side; and within this enclosure
gigantic survivors of the great circles of unhewn stone that,
even as late as Tudor days, were almost complete. A whole
village, a church, a pretty manor house have been built, for
the most part, out of the ancient megaliths; the great wall
is sufficient to embrace them all with their gardens and
paddocks; four cross-roads meet at the village centre. There
are drawings of Avebury before these things arose there, when
it was a lonely wonder on the plain, but for the most part
the destruction was already done before the MAYFLOWER sailed.
To the southward stands the cone of Silbury Hill; its shadow
creeps up and down the intervening meadows as the seasons
change. Around this lonely place rise the Downs, now bare
sheep pastures, in broad undulations, with a wart-like barrow
here and there, and from it radiate, creeping up to gain and
hold the crests of the hills, the abandoned trackways of that
forgotten world. These trackways, these green roads of
England, these roads already disused when the Romans made
their highway past Silbury Hill to Bath, can still be traced
for scores of miles through the land, running to Salisbury
and the English Channel, eastward to the crossing at the
Straits and westward to Wales, to ferries over the Severn,
and southwestward into Devon and Cornwall.

The doctor and Sir Richmond walked round the walls, surveyed
the shadow cast by Silbury upon the river flats, strolled up
the down to the northward to get a general view of the
village, had tea and smoked round the walls again in the warm
April sunset. The matter of their conversation remained
prehistoric. Both were inclined to find fault with the
archaeological work that had been done on the place. "Clumsy
treasure hunting," Sir Richmond said. "They bore into Silbury
Hill and expect to find a mummified chief or something
sensational of that sort, and they don't, and they report
nothing. They haven't sifted finely enough; they haven't
thought subtly enough. These walls of earth ought to tell
what these people ate, what clothes they wore, what woods
they used. Was this a sheep land then as it is now, or a
cattle land? Were these hills covered by forests? I don't
know. These archaeologists don't know. Or if they do they
haven't told me, which is just as bad. I don't believe they

"What trade came here along these tracks? So far as I know,
they had no beasts of burthen. But suppose one day someone
were to find a potsherd here from early Knossos, or a
fragment of glass from Pepi's Egypt."

The place had stirred up his imagination. He wrestled with
his ignorance as if he thought that by talking he might
presently worry out some picture of this forgotten world,
without metals, without beasts of burthen, without letters,
without any sculpture that has left a trace, and yet with a
sense of astronomical fact clear enough to raise the great
gnomon of Silbury, and with a social system complex enough to
give the large and orderly community to which the size of
Avebury witnesses and the traffic to which the green roads

The doctor had not realized before the boldness and
liveliness of his companion's mind. Sir Richmond insisted
that the climate must have been moister and milder in those
days; he covered all the downlands with woods, as Savernake
was still covered; beneath the trees he restored a thicker,
richer soil. These people must have done an enormous lot with
wood. This use of stones here was a freak. It was the very
strangeness of stones here that had made them into sacred
things. One thought too much of the stones of the Stone Age.
Who would carve these lumps of quartzite when one could carve
good oak? Or beech--a most carvable wood. Especially when
one's sharpest chisel was a flint. "It's wood we ought to
look for," said Sir Richmond. "Wood and fibre." He declared
that these people had their tools of wood, their homes of
wood, their gods and perhaps their records of wood. "A peat
bog here, even a few feet of clay, might have pickled some
precious memoranda. . . . No such luck. . . . Now in
Glastonbury marshes one found the life of the early iron
age--half way to our own times--quite beautifully pickled."

Though they wrestled mightily with the problem, neither Sir
Richmond nor the doctor could throw a gleam of light upon the
riddle why the ditch was inside and not outside the great

"And what was our Mind like in those days?" said Sir
Richmond. "That, I suppose, is what interests you. A vivid
childish mind, I guess, with not a suspicion as yet that it
was Man ruling his Planet or anything of that sort."

The doctor pursed his lips. "None," he delivered judicially.
"If one were able to recall one's childhood--at the age of
about twelve or thirteen--when the artistic impulse so often
goes into abeyance and one begins to think in a troubled,
monstrous way about God and Hell, one might get something
like the mind of this place."

"Thirteen. You put them at that already? . . . These people,
you think, were religious?"

"Intensely. In that personal way that gives death a nightmare
terror. And as for the fading of the artistic impulse,
they've left not a trace of the paintings and drawings and
scratchings of the Old Stone people who came before them."

"Adults with the minds of thirteen-year-old children.
Thirteen-year-old children with the strength of adults--and
no one to slap them or tell them not to. . . . After all,
they probably only thought of death now and then. And they
never thought of fuel. They supposed there was no end to
that. So they used up their woods and kept goats to nibble
and kill the new undergrowth. DID these people have goats? "

"I don't know," said the doctor. So little is known."

"Very like children they must have been. The same unending
days. They must have thought that the world went on for ever-
just as they knew it--like my damned Committee does. . . .
With their fuel wasting away and the climate changing
imperceptibly, century by century. . . . Kings and important
men followed one another here for centuries and centuries. .
. . They had lost their past and had no idea of any future. .
. . They had forgotten how they came into the land . . . When
I was a child I believed that my father's garden had been
there for ever. . . .

"This is very like trying to remember some game one played
when one was a child. It is like coming on something that one
built up with bricks and stones in some forgotten part of the
garden. . . . "

"The life we lived here," said the doctor, has left its
traces in traditions, in mental predispositions, in still
unanalyzed fundamental ideas."

"Archaeology is very like remembering," said Sir Richmond.
"Presently we shall remember a lot more about all this. We
shall remember what it was like to live in this place, and
the long journey hither, age by age out of the south. We
shall remember the sacrifices we made and the crazy reasons
why we made them. We sowed our corn in blood here. We had
strange fancies about the stars. Those we brought with us out
of the south where the stars are brighter. And what like were
those wooden gods of ours? I don't remember. . . . But I
could easily persuade myself that I had been here before."

They stood on the crest of the ancient wall and the setting
sun cast long shadows of them athwart a field of springing

"Perhaps we shall come here again," the doctor carried on Sir
Richmond's fancy; "after another four thousand years or so,
with different names and fuller minds. And then I suppose
that this ditch won't be the riddle it is now."

"Life didn't seem so complicated then," Sir Richmond mused.
"Our muddles were unconscious. We drifted from mood to mood
and forgot. There was more sunshine then, more laughter
perhaps, and blacker despair. Despair like the despair of
children that can weep itself to sleep. . . . It's
over. . . . Was it battle and massacre that ended that long
afternoon here? Or did the woods catch fire some
exceptionally dry summer, leaving black hills and famine? Or
did strange men bring a sickness--measles, perhaps, or the
black death? Or was it cattle pest? Or did we just waste our
woods and dwindle away before the new peoples that came into
the land across the southern sea? I can't remember. . . . "

Sir Richmond turned about. "I would like to dig up the bottom
of this ditch here foot by foot--and dry the stuff and sift
it--very carefully. . . . Then I might begin to remember

Section 5

In the evening, after a pleasant supper, they took a turn
about the walls with the moon sinking over beyond Silbury,
and then went in and sat by lamplight before a brightly fussy
wood fire and smoked. There were long intervals of friendly

"I don't in the least want to go on talking about myself, "
said Sir Richmond abruptly.

"Let it rest then," said the doctor generously.

"To-day, among these ancient memories, has taken me out of
myself wonderfully. I can't tell you how good Avebury has
been for me. This afternoon half my consciousness has seemed
to be a tattooed creature wearing a knife of stone. . . . "

"The healing touch of history."

"And for the first time my damned Committee has mattered
scarcely a rap. "

Sir Richmond stretched himself in his chair and blinked
cheerfully at his cigar smoke.

"Nevertheless," he said, "this confessional business of yours
has been an excellent exercise. It has enabled me to get
outside myself, to look at myself as a Case. Now I can even
see myself as a remote Case. That I needn't bother about
further. . . . So far as that goes, I think we have done all
that there is to be done."

"I shouldn't say that--quite--yet," said the doctor.

"I don't think I'm a subject for real psychoanalysis at all.
I'm not an overlaid sort of person. When I spread myself out
there is not much indication of a suppressed wish or of
anything masked or buried of that sort. What you get is a
quite open and recognized discord of two sets of motives."

The doctor considered. "Yes, I think that is true. Your
LIBIDO is, I should say, exceptionally free. Generally you
are doing what you want to do--overdoing, in fact, what you
want to do and getting simply tired."

"Which is the theory I started with. I am a case of fatigue
under irritating circumstances with very little mental
complication or concealment."

"Yes," said the doctor. "I agree. You are not a case for
psychoanalysis, strictly speaking, at all. You are in open
conflict with yourself, upon moral and social issues.
Practically open. Your problems are problems of conscious

"As I said."

"Of what renunciations you have consciously to make."

Sir Richmond did not answer that. . . .

"This pilgrimage of ours," he said, presently, "has made for
magnanimity. This day particularly has been a good day. When
we stood on this old wall here in the sunset I seemed to be
standing outside myself in an immense still sphere of past
and future. I stood with my feet upon the Stone Age and saw
myself four thousand years away, and all my distresses as
very little incidents in that perspective. Away there in
London the case is altogether different; after three hours or
so of the Committee one concentrates into one little inflamed
moment of personality. There is no past any longer, there is
no future, there is only the rankling dispute. For all those
three hours, perhaps, I have been thinking of just what I had
to say, just how I had to say it, just how I looked while I
said it, just how much I was making myself understood, how I
might be misunderstood, how I might be misrepresented,
challenged, denied. One draws in more and more as one is used
up. At last one is reduced to a little, raw, bleeding,
desperately fighting, pin-point of SELF. . . . One goes back
to one's home unable to recover. Fighting it over again. All
night sometimes . . . . I get up and walk about the room and
curse . . . . Martineau, how is one to get the Avebury frame
of mind to Westminster?"

"When Westminster is as dead as Avebury," said the doctor,
unhelpfully. He added after some seconds, "Milton knew of
these troubles. 'Not without dust and heat' he wrote--a great

"But the dust chokes me," said Sir Richmond.

He took up a copy of THE GREEN ROADS OF ENGLAND that lay
beside him on the table. But he did not open it. He held it
in his hand and said the thing he had had in mind to say all
that evening. "I do not think that I shall stir up my motives
any more for a time. Better to go on into the west country
cooling my poor old brain in these wide shadows of the past."

"I can prescribe nothing better," said Dr. Martineau.
"Incidentally, we may be able to throw a little more light on
one or two of your minor entanglements."

"I don't want to think of them, said Sir Richmond. "Let me
get right away from everything. Until my skin has grown



Section 1

Next day in the early afternoon after a farewell walk over
the downs round Avebury they went by way of Devizes and
Netheravon and Amesbury to Stonehenge.

Dr. Martineau had seen this ancient monument before, but now,
with Avebury fresh in his mind, he found it a poorer thing
than he had remembered it to be. Sir Richmond was frankly
disappointed. After the real greatness and mystery of the
older place, it seemed a poor little heap of stones; it did
not even dominate the landscape; it was some way from the
crest of the swelling down on which it stood and it was
further dwarfed by the colossal air-ship hangars and
clustering offices of the air station that the great war had
called into existence upon the slopes to the south-west. "It
looks," Sir Richmond said, "as though some old giantess had
left a discarded set of teeth on the hillside." Far more
impressive than Stonehenge itself were the barrows that
capped the neighbouring crests.

The sacred stones were fenced about, and our visitors had to
pay for admission at a little kiosk by the gate. At the side
of the road stood a travelstained middle-class automobile,
with a miscellany of dusty luggage, rugs and luncheon things
therein--a family automobile with father no doubt at the
wheel. Sir Richmond left his own trim coupe at its tail.

They were impeded at the entrance by a difference of opinion
between the keeper of the turnstile and a small but resolute
boy of perhaps five or six who proposed to leave the
enclosure. The custodian thought that it would be better if
his nurse or his mother came out with him.

"She keeps on looking at it, " said the small boy. "It isunt
anything. I want to go and clean the car."

"You won't SEE Stonehenge every day, young man," said the
custodian, a little piqued.

"It's only an old beach," said the small boy, with extreme
conviction. "It's rocks like the seaside. And there isunt no

The man at the turnstile mutely consulted the doctor.

"I don't see that he can get into any harm here," the doctor
advised, and the small boy was released from archaeology.

He strolled to the family automobile, produced an EN-TOUT-CAS
pocket-handkerchief and set himself to polish the lamps with
great assiduity. The two gentlemen lingered at the turnstile
for a moment or so to watch his proceedings. "Modern child,"
said Sir Richmond. "Old stones are just old stones to him.
But motor cars are gods."

"You can hardly expect him to understand--at his age," said
the custodian, jealous for the honor of Stonehenge. . . .

"Reminds me of Martin's little girl," said Sir Richmond, as
he and Dr. Martineau went on towards the circle. "When she
encountered her first dragon-fly she was greatly delighted.
'0h, dee' lill' a'eplane,' she said."

As they approached the grey old stones they became aware of a
certain agitation among them. A voice, an authoritative bass
voice, was audible, crying, "Anthony!" A nurse appeared
remotely going in the direction of the aeroplane sheds, and
her cry of "Master Anthony" came faintly on the breeze. An
extremely pretty young woman of five or six and twenty became
visible standing on one of the great prostrate stones in the
centre of the place. She was a black-haired, sun-burnt
individual and she stood with her arms akimbo, quite frankly
amused at the disappearance of Master Anthony, and offering
no sort of help for his recovery. On the greensward before
her stood the paterfamilias of the family automobile, and he
was making a trumpet with his hands in order to repeat the
name of Anthony with greater effect. A short lady in grey
emerged from among the encircling megaliths, and one or two
other feminine personalities produced effects of movement
rather than of individuality as they flitted among the
stones. "Well," said the lady in grey, with that rising
intonation of humorous conclusion which is so distinctively
American, "those Druids have GOT him."

"He's hiding," said the automobilist, in a voice that
promised chastisement to a hidden hearer. "That's what he is
doing. He ought not to play tricks like this. A great boy who
is almost six."

"If you are looking for a small, resolute boy of six," said
Sir Richmond, addressing himself to the lady on the rock
rather than to the angry parent below, "he's perfectly safe
and happy. The Druids haven't got him. Indeed, they've failed
altogether to get him. 'Stonehenge,' he says, 'is no good.'
So he's gone back to clean the lamps of your car."

"Aa-oo. So THAT'S it! " said Papa. "Winnie, go and tell Price
he's gone back to the car. . . . They oughtn't to have let
him out of the enclosure. . . ."

The excitement about Master Anthony collapsed. The rest of
the people in the circles crystallized out into the central
space as two apparent sisters and an apparent aunt and the
nurse, who was packed off at once to supervise the lamp
cleaning. The head of the family found some difficulty, it
would seem, in readjusting his mind to the comparative
innocence of Anthony, and Sir Richmond and the young lady on
the rock sought as if by common impulse to establish a
general conversation. There were faint traces of excitement
in her manner, as though there had been some controversial
passage between herself and the family gentleman.

"We were discussing the age of this old place," she said,
smiling in the frankest and friendliest way. "How old do YOU
think it is?"

The father of Anthony intervened, also with a shadow of
controversy in his manner. "I was explaining to the young
lady that it dates from the early bronze age. Before
chronology existed. . . . But she insists on dates."

"Nothing of bronze has ever been found here," said Sir

"Well, when was this early bronze age, anyhow?" said the
young lady.

Sir Richmond sought a recognizable datum. "Bronze got to
Britain somewhere between the times of Moses and Solomon."

"Ah! " said the young lady, as who should say, 'This man at
least talks sense.'

"But these stones are all shaped," said the father of the
family. "It is difficult to see how that could have been done
without something harder than stone."

"I don't SEE the place," said the young lady on the stone. "I
can't imagine how they did it up--not one bit."

"Did it up!" exclaimed the father of the family in the tone
of one accustomed to find a gentle sport in the intellectual
frailties of his womenkind.

"It's just the bones of a place. They hung things round it.
They draped it."

"But what things?" asked Sir Richmond.

"Oh! they had things all right. Skins perhaps. Mats of
rushes. Bast cloth. Fibre of all sorts. Wadded stuff."

"Stonehenge draped! It's really a delightful idea;" said the
father of the family, enjoying it.

"It's quite a possible one," said Sir Richmond.

"Or they may have used wicker," the young lady went on,
undismayed. She seemed to concede a point. "Wicker IS

"But surely," said the father of the family with the
expostulatory voice and gesture of one who would recall
erring wits to sanity, "it is far more impressive standing
out bare and noble as it does. In lonely splendour."

"But all this country may have been wooded then," said Sir
Richmond. "In which case it wouldn't have stood out. It
doesn't stand out so very much even now."

"You came to it through a grove," said the young lady,
eagerly picking up the idea.

"Probably beech," said Sir Richmond.

"Which may have pointed to the midsummer sunrise," said Dr.
Martineau, unheeded.

"These are NOVEL ideas," said the father of the family in the
reproving tone of one who never allows a novel idea inside
HIS doors if he can prevent it.

"Well," said the young lady, "I guess there was some sort of
show here anyhow. And no human being ever had a show yet
without trying to shut people out of it in order to make them
come in. I guess this was covered in all right. A dark
hunched old place in a wood. Beech stems, smooth, like
pillars. And they came to it at night, in procession, beating
drums, and scared half out of their wits. They came in THERE
and went round the inner circle with their torches. And so
they were shown. The torches were put out and the priests did
their mysteries. Until dawn broke. That is how they worked

"But even you can't tell what the show was, V.V." said the
lady in grey, who was standing now at Dr. Martineau's elbow.

"Something horrid," said Anthony's younger sister to her
elder in a stage whisper.

"BLUGGY," agreed Anthony's elder sister to the younger, in a
noiseless voice that certainly did not reach father.
"SQUEALS! . . . ."

This young lady who was addressed as "V.V." was perhaps one
or two and twenty, Dr. Martineau thought,--he was not very
good at feminine ages. She had a clear sun-browned
complexion, with dark hair and smiling lips. Her features
were finely modelled, with just that added touch of breadth
in the brow and softness in the cheek bones, that faint
flavour of the Amerindian, one sees at times in American
women. Her voice was a very soft and pleasing voice, and she
spoke persuasively and not assertively as so many American
women do. Her determination to make the dry bones of
Stonehenge live shamed the doctor's disappointment with the
place. And when she had spoken, Dr. Martineau noted that she
looked at Sir Richmond as if she expected him at least to
confirm her vision. Sir Richmond was evidently prepared to
confirm it.

With a queer little twinge of infringed proprietorship, the
doctor saw Sir Richmond step up on the prostrate megalith and
stand beside her, the better to appreciate her point of view.
He smiled down at her. "Now why do you think they came in
THERE?" he asked.

The young lady was not very clear about her directions. She
did not know of the roadway running to the Avon river, nor of
the alleged race course to the north, nor had she ever heard
that the stones were supposed to be of two different periods
and that some of them might possibly have been brought from a
very great distance.

Section 2

Neither Dr. Martineau nor the father of the family found the
imaginative reconstruction of the Stonehenge rituals quite so
exciting as the two principals. The father of the family
endured some further particulars with manifest impatience, no
longer able, now that Sir Richmond was encouraging the girl,
to keep her in check with the slightly derisive smile proper
to her sex. Then he proclaimed in a fine loud tenor, "All
this is very imaginative, I'm afraid." And to his family,
"Time we were pressing on. Turps, we must go-o. Come,

As he led his little flock towards the exit his voice came
floating back. "Talking wanton nonsense. . . . Any
professional archaeologist would laugh, simply laugh. . . ."

He passed out of the world.

With a faint intimation of dismay Dr. Martineau realized that
the two talkative ladies were not to be removed in the family
automobile with the rest of the party. Sir Richmond and the
younger lady went on very cheerfully to the population,
agriculture, housing and general scenery of the surrounding
Downland during the later Stone Age. The shorter, less
attractive lady, whose accent was distinctly American, came
now and stood at the doctor's elbow. She seemed moved to play
the part of chorus to the two upon the stone.

"When V.V. gets going," she remarked, "she makes things come

Dr. Martineau hated to be addressed suddenly by strange
ladies. He started, and his face assumed the distressed
politeness of the moon at its full. "Your friend," he said,
"interested in archaeology? "

"Interested!" said the stouter lady. "Why! She's a fiend at
it. Ever since we came on Carnac. "

"You've visited Carnac?"

"That's where the bug bit her." said the stout lady with a
note of querulous humour. "Directly V.V. set eyes on Carnac,
she just turned against all her up-bringing. 'Why wasn't I
told of this before?' she said. 'What's Notre Dame to this?
This is where we came from. This is the real starting point
of the MAYFLOWER. Belinda,' she said, 'we've got to see all
we can of this sort of thing before we go back to America.
They've been keeping this from us.' And that's why we're here
right now instead of being shopping in Paris or London like
decent American women."

The younger lady looked down on her companion with something
of the calm expert attention that a plumber gives to a tap
that is misbehaving, and like a plumber refrained from
precipitate action. She stood with the backs of her hands
resting on her hips.

"Well," she said slowly, giving most of the remark to Sir
Richmond and the rest to the doctor. "it is nearer the
beginnings of things than London or Paris."

"And nearer to us, " said Sir Richmond.

"I call that just--paradoxical," said the shorter lady, who
appeared to be called Belinda.

"Not paradoxical," Dr. Martineau contradicted gently. "Life
is always beginning again. And this is a time of fresh

"Now that's after V.V.'s own heart," cried the stout lady in


Back to Full Books