The Secret Places of the Heart
H. G. Wells
Part 3 out of 5
grey. "She'll agree to all that. She's been saying it right
across Europe. Rome, Paris, London; they're simply just done.
They don't signify any more. They've got to be cleared away."
"You let me tell my own opinions, Belinda," said the young
lady who was called V.V. "I said that if people went on
building with fluted pillars and Corinthian capitals for two
thousand years, it was time they were cleared up and taken
"Corinthian capitals?" Sir Richmond considered it and laughed
cheerfully. "I suppose Europe does rather overdo that sort of
"The way she went on about the Victor Emmanuele Monument! "
said the lady who answered to the name of Belinda. "It gave
me cold shivers to think that those Italian officers might
understand English. "
The lady who was called V.V. smiled as if she smiled at
herself, and explained herself to Sir Richmond. "When one is
travelling about, one gets to think of history and politics
in terms of architecture. I do anyhow. And those columns with
Corinthian capitals have got to be a sort of symbol for me
for everything in Europe that I don't want and have no sort
of use for. It isn't a bad sort of capital in its way, florid
and pretty, but not a patch on the Doric;--and that a whole
continent should come up to it and stick at it and never get
past it! . . ."
"It's the classical tradition."
"It puzzles me."
"It's the Roman Empire. That Corinthian column is a weed
spread by the Romans all over western Europe."
"And it smothers the history of Europe. You can't see Europe
because of it. Europe is obsessed by Rome. Everywhere Marble
Arches and ARCS DE TRIOMPHE. You never get away from it. It
is like some old gentleman who has lost his way in a speech
and keeps on repeating the same thing. And can't sit down.
'The empire, gentlemen--the Empire. Empire.' Rome itself is
perfectly frightful. It stares at you with its great round
stupid arches as though it couldn't imagine that you could
possibly want anything else for ever. Saint Peter's and that
frightful Monument are just the same stuff as the Baths of
Caracalla and the palaces of the Caesars. Just the same. They
will make just the same sort of ruins. It goes on and goes
"AVE ROMA IMMORTALIS," said Dr. Martineau.
"This Roman empire seems to be Europe's first and last idea.
A fixed idea. And such a poor idea! . . . America never came
out of that. It's no good-telling me that it did. It escaped
from it. . . . So I said to Belinda here, 'Let's burrow, if
we can, under all this marble and find out what sort of
people we were before this Roman empire and its acanthus
weeds got hold of us.'"
"I seem to remember at Washington, something faintly
Corinthian, something called the Capitol," Sir Richmond
reflected. "And other buildings. A Treasury."
"That is different," said the young lady, so conclusively
that it seemed to leave nothing more to be said on that
"A last twinge of Europeanism," she vouchsafed. "We were
young in those days."
"You are well beneath the marble here."
She assented cheerfully.
"A thousand years before it."
"Happy place! Happy people!"
"But even this place isn't the beginning of things here.
Carnac was older than this. And older still is Avebury. Have
you heard in America of Avebury? It may have predated this
place, they think, by another thousand years."
"Avebury?" said the lady who was called Belinda.
"But what is this Avebury?" asked V.V. "I've never heard of
"I thought it was a lord," said Belinda.
Sir Richmond, with occasional appeals to Dr. Martineau,
embarked upon an account of the glory and wonder of Avebury.
Possibly he exaggerated Avebury. . . .
It was Dr. Martineau who presently brought this disquisition
upon Avebury to a stop by a very remarkable gesture. He
looked at his watch. He drew it out ostentatiously, a thick,
respectable gold watch, for the doctor was not the sort of
man to wear his watch upon his wrist. He clicked it open and
looked at it. Thereby he would have proclaimed his belief
this encounter was an entirely unnecessary interruption of
his healing duologue with Sir Richmond, which must now be
But this action had scarcely the effect he had intended it to
have. It set the young lady who was called Belinda asking
about ways and means of getting to Salisbury; it brought to
light the distressing fact that V.V. had the beginnings of a
chafed heel. Once he had set things going they moved much too
quickly for the doctor to deflect their course. He found
himself called upon to make personal sacrifices to facilitate
the painless transport of the two ladies to Salisbury, where
their luggage awaited them at the Old George Hotel. In some
way too elusive to trace, it became evident that he and Sir
Richmond were to stay at this same Old George Hotel. The
luggage was to be shifted to the top of the coupe, the young
lady called V.V. was to share the interior of the car with
Sir Richmond, while the lady named Belinda, for whom Dr.
Martineau was already developing a very strong dislike, was
to be thrust into an extreme proximity with him and the
balance of the luggage in the dicky seat behind.
Sir Richmond had never met with a young woman with a genuine
historical imagination before, and he was evidently very
greatly excited and resolved to get the utmost that there was
to be got out of this encounter.
Sir Richmond displayed a complete disregard of the sufferings
of Dr. Martineau, shamefully compressed behind him. Of these
he was to hear later. He ran his overcrowded little car,
overcrowded so far as the dicky went, over the crest of the
Down and down into Amesbury and on to Salisbury, stopping to
alight and stretch the legs of the party when they came in
sight of Old Sarum.
"Certainly they can do with a little stretching," said Dr.
This charming young woman had seized upon the imagination of
Sir Richmond to the temporary exclusion of all other
considerations. The long Downland gradients, quivering very
slightly with the vibration of the road, came swiftly and
easily to meet and pass the throbbing little car as he sat
beside her and talked to her. He fell into that expository
manner which comes so easily to the native entertaining the
visitor from abroad.
"In England, it seems to me there are four main phases of
history. Four. Avebury, which I would love to take you to see
to-morrow. Stonehenge. Old Sarum, which we shall see in a
moment as a great grassy mound on our right as we come over
one of these crests. Each of them represents about a thousand
years. Old Sarum was Keltic; it, saw the Romans and the
Saxons through, and for a time it was a Norman city. Now it
is pasture for sheep. Latest as yet is Salisbury,--English,
real English. It may last a few centuries still. It is little
more than seven hundred years old. But when I think of those
great hangars back there by Stonehenge, I feel that the next
phase is already beginning. Of a world one will fly to the
ends of, in a week or so. Our world still. Our people, your
people and mine, who are going to take wing so soon now, were
made in all these places. We are visiting the old homes. I am
glad I came back to it just when you were doing the same
"I'm lucky to have found a sympathetic fellow traveller,"
she said; "with a car."
"You're the first American I've ever met whose interest in
history didn't seem--" He sought for an inoffensive word.
"Silly? Oh! I admit it. It's true of a lot of us. Most of us.
We come over to Europe as if it hadn't anything to do with us
except to supply us with old pictures and curios generally.
We come sight-seeing. It's romantic. It's picturesque. We
stare at the natives--like visitors at a Zoo. We don't
realize that we belong. . . . I know our style. . . . But we
aren't all like that. Some of us are learning a bit better
than that. We have one or two teachers over there to lighten
our darkness. There's Professor Breasted for instance. He
comes sometimes to my father's house. And there's James
Harvey Robinson and Professor Hutton Webster. They've been
trying to restore our memory."
"I've never heard of any of them," said Sir Richmond.
"You hear so little of America over here. It's quite a large
country and all sorts of interesting things happen there
nowadays. And we are waking up to history. Quite fast. We
shan't always be the most ignorant people in the world. We
are beginning to realize that quite a lot of things happened
between Adam and the Mayflower that we ought to be told
about. I allow it's a recent revival. The United States has
been like one of those men you read about in the papers who
go away from home and turn up in some distant place with
their memories gone. They've forgotten what their names were
or where they lived or what they did for a living; they've
forgotten everything that matters. Often they have to begin
again and settle down for a long time before their memories
come back. That's how it has been with us. Our memory is just
coming back to us."
"And what do you find you are?"
"Europeans. Who came away from kings and churches-@-and
"You feel all this country belongs to you?"
"As much as it does to you."
Sir Richmond smiled radiantly at her. "But if I say that
America belongs to me as much as it does to you?"
"We are one people," she said.
"Europe. These parts of Europe anyhow. And ourselves."
"You are the most civilized person I've met for weeks and
weeks." "Well, you are the first civilized person I've met in
Europe for a long time. If I understand you."
"There are multitudes of reasonable, civilized people in
"I've heard or seen very little of them.
"They're scattered, I admit."
"And hard to find."
"So ours is a lucky meeting. I've wanted a serious talk to an
American for some time. I want to know very badly what you
think you are up to with the world,--our world. "
"I'm equally anxious to know what England thinks she is
doing. Her ways recently have been a little difficult to
understand. On any hypothesis-that is honourable to her."
"H'm," said Sir Richmond.
"I assure you we don't like it. This Irish business. We feel
a sort of ownership in England. It's like finding your
dearest aunt torturing the cat."
"We must talk of that," said Sir Richmond.
"I wish you would."
"It is a cat and a dog--and they have been very naughty
animals. And poor Aunt Britannia almost deliberately lost her
temper. But I admit she hits about in a very nasty fashion."
"And favours the dog."
"I want to know all you admit."
"You shall. And incidentally my friend and I may have the
pleasure of showing you Salisbury and Avebury. If you are
"We're travelling together, just we two. We are wandering
about the south of England on our way to Falmouth. Where I
join a father in a few days' time, and I go on with him to
Paris. And if you and your friend are coming to the Old
"We are," said Sir Richmond.
"I see no great scandal in talking right on to bedtime. And
seeing Avebury to-morrow. Why not? Perhaps if we did as the
Germans do and gave our names now, it might mitigate
something of the extreme informality of our behaviour."
"My name is Hardy. I've been a munition manufacturer. I was
slightly wounded by a stray shell near Arras while I was
inspecting some plant I had set up, and also I was hit by a
stray knighthood. So my name is now Sir Richmond Hardy. My
friend is a very distinguished Harley Street physician.
Chiefly nervous and mental cases. His name is Dr. Martineau.
He is quite as civilized as I am. He is also a philosophical
writer. He is really a very wise and learned man indeed. He
is full of ideas. He's stimulated me tremendously. You must
talk to him."
Sir Richmond glanced over his shoulder at the subject of
these commendations. Through the oval window glared an
expression of malignity that made no impression whatever on
his preoccupied mind.
"My name," said the young lady, "is Grammont. The war whirled
me over to Europe on Red Cross work and since the peace I've
been settling up things and travelling about Europe. My
father is rather a big business man in New York."
"The oil Grammont?"
"He is rather deep in oil, I believe. He is coming over to
Europe because he does not like the way your people are
behaving in Mesopotamia. He is on his way to Paris now. Paris
it seems is where everything is to be settled against you.
Belinda is a sort of companion I have acquired for the
purposes of independent travel. She was Red Cross too. I must
have somebody and I cannot bear a maid. Her name is Belinda
Seyffert. From Philadelphia originally. You have that?
"And Hardy?" "Sir Richmond and Dr. Martineau."
"And-Ah!--That great green bank there just coming into sight
must be Old Sarum. The little ancient city that faded away
when Salisbury lifted its spire into the world. We will stop
here for a little while. . . . "
Then it was that Dr. Martineau was grim about the stretching
of his legs.
The sudden prospect which now opened out before Sir Richmond
of talking about history and suchlike topics with a charming
companion for perhaps two whole days instead of going on with
this tiresome, shamefaced, egotistical business of self-
examination was so attractive to him that it took immediate
possession of his mind, to the entire exclusion and disregard
of Dr. Martineau's possible objections to any such
modification of their original programme. When they arrived
in Salisbury, the doctor did make some slight effort to
suggest a different hotel from that in which the two ladies
had engaged their rooms, but on the spur of the moment and in
their presence he could produce no sufficient reason for
refusing the accommodation the Old George had ready for him.
He was reduced to a vague: "We don't want to inflict
ourselves--" He could not get Sir Richmond aside for any
adequate expression of his feelings about Miss Seyffert,
before the four of them were seated together at tea amidst
the mediaeval modernity of the Old George smoking-room. And
only then did he begin to realize the depth and extent of the
engagements to which Sir Richmond had committed himself.
"I was suggesting that we run back to Avebury to-morrow,"
said Sir Richmond. "These ladies were nearly missing it."
The thing took the doctor's breath away. For the moment he
could say nothing. He stared over his tea-cup dour-faced. An
objection formulated itself very slowly. "But that dicky," he
His whisper went unnoted. Sir Richmond was talking of the
completeness of Salisbury. From the very beginning it had
been a cathedral city; it was essentially and purely that.
The church at its best, in the full tide of its mediaeval
ascendancy, had called it into being. He was making some
extremely loose and inaccurate generalizations about the
buildings and ruins each age had left for posterity, and Miss
Grammont was countering with equally unsatisfactory
qualifications. "Our age will leave the ruins of hotels,"
said Sir Richmond. "Railway arches and hotels."
"Baths and aqueducts," Miss Grammont compared. "Rome of the
Empire comes nearest to it . . . . "
As soon as tea was over, Dr. Martineau realized, they meant
to walk round and about Salisbury. He foresaw that walk with
the utmost clearness. In front and keeping just a little
beyond the range of his intervention, Sir Richmond would go
with Miss Grammont; he himself and Miss Seyffert would bring
up the rear. "If I do," he muttered, "I'll be damned!" an
unusually strong expression for him.
"You said--?" asked Miss Seyffert.
"That I have some writing to do--before the post goes," said
the doctor brightly.
"Oh! come and see the cathedral!" cried Sir Richmond with
ill-concealed dismay. He was, if one may put it in such a
fashion, not looking at Miss Seyffert in the directest
fashion when he said this.
"I'm afraid," said the doctor mulishly. "Impossible."
(With the unspoken addition of, "You try her for a bit.")
Miss Grammont stood up. Everybody stood up. "We can go first
to look for shops," she said. "There's those things you want
to buy, Belinda; a fountain pen and the little books. We can
all go together as far as that. And while you are shopping,
if you wouldn't mind getting one or two things
for me. . . ."
It became clear to Dr. Martineau that Sir Richmond was to be
let off Belinda. It seemed abominably unjust. And it was also
clear to him that he must keep closely to his own room or he
might find Miss Seyffert drifting back alone to the hotel and
eager to resume with him. . . .
Well, a quiet time in his room would not be disagreeable. He
could think over his notes. . . .
But in reality he thought over nothing but the little
speeches he would presently make to Sir Richmond about the
unwarrantable, the absolutely unwarrantable, alterations that
were being made without his consent in their common
programme. . . .
For a long time Sir Richmond had met no one so interesting
and amusing as this frank-minded young woman from America.
"Young woman" was how he thought of her; she didn't
correspond to anything so prim and restrained and extensively
reserved and withheld as a "young lady "; and though he
judged her no older than five and twenty, the word "girl"
with its associations of virginal ignorances, invisible
purdah, and trite ideas newly discovered, seemed even less
appropriate for her than the word "boy." She had an air of
having in some obscure way graduated in life, as if so far
she had lived each several year of her existence in a
distinctive and conclusive manner with the utmost mental
profit and no particular tarnish or injury. He could talk
with her as if he talked with a man like himself--but with a
zest no man could give him.
It was evident that the good things she had said at first
came as the natural expression of a broad stream of alert
thought; they were no mere display specimens from one of
those jackdaw collections of bright things so many clever
women waste their wits in accumulating. She was not talking
for effect at all, she was talking because she was
tremendously interested in her discovery of the spectacle of
history, and delighted to find another person as possessed as
Belinda having been conducted to her shops, the two made
their way through the bright evening sunlight to the compact
gracefulness of the cathedral. A glimpse through a wrought-
iron gate of a delightful garden of spring flowers, alyssum,
aubrietia, snow-upon-the-mountains, daffodils, narcissus and
the like, held them for a time, and then they came out upon
the level, grassy space, surrounded by little ripe old
houses, on which the cathedral stands. They stood for some
moments surveying it.
"It's a perfect little lady of a cathedral," said Sir
Richmond. "But why, I wonder, did we build it? "
"Your memory ought to be better than mine," she said, with
her half-closed eyes blinking up at the sunlit spire sharp
against the blue. "I've been away for so long-over there-that
I forget altogether. Why DID we build it?"
She had fallen in quite early with this freak of speaking and
thinking as if he and she were all mankind. It was as if her
mind had been prepared for it by her own eager exploration in
Europe. "My friend, the philosopher," he had said, "will not
have it that we are really the individuals we think we are.
You must talk to him--he is a very curious and subtle
thinker. We are just thoughts in the Mind of the Race, he
says, passing thoughts. We are--what does he call it? --Man
on his Planet, taking control of life."
"Man and woman," she had amended.
But just as man on his planet taking control of life had
failed altogether to remember why the ditch at Avebury was on
the inside instead of the outside of the vallum, so now Miss
Grammont and Sir Richmond found very great difficulty in
recalling why they had built Salisbury Cathedral.
"We built temples by habit and tradition," said Sir Richmond.
"But the impulse was losing its force. "
She looked up at the spire and then at him with a faintly
But he had his reply ready.
"We were beginning to feel our power over matter. We were
already very clever engineers. What interested us here wasn't
the old religion any more. We wanted to exercise and display
our power over stone. We made it into reeds and branches. We
squirted it up in all these spires and pinnacles. The priest
and his altar were just an excuse. Do you think people have
ever feared and worshipped in this--this artist's lark--as
they did in Stonehenge?"
"I certainly do not remember that I ever worshipped here,"
Sir Richmond was in love with his idea. "The spirit of the
Gothic cathedrals," he said, "is the spirit of the sky-
scrapers. It is architecture in a mood of flaming ambition.
The Freemasons on the building could hardly refrain from
jeering at the little priest they had left down below there,
performing antiquated puerile mysteries at his altar. He was
just their excuse for doing it all."
"Sky-scrapers?" she conceded. "An early display of the sky-
scraper spirit. . . . You are doing your best to make me feel
thoroughly at home."
"You are more at home here still than in that new country of
ours over the Atlantic. But it seems to me now that I do
begin to remember building this cathedral and all the other
cathedrals we built in Europe. . . . It was the fun of
building made us do it. . . "
"H'm," she said. "And my sky-scrapers?"
"Still the fun of building. That is the thing I envy most
about America. It's still large enough, mentally and
materially, to build all sorts of things. . . . Over here,
the sites are frightfully crowded. . . . "
"And what do you think we are building now? And what do you
think you are building over here?"
"What are we building now? I believe we have almost grown up.
I believe it is time we began to build in earnest. For
good. . . ."
"But are we building anything at all?"
"A new world."
"Show it me," she said.
"We're still only at the foundations," said Sir Richmond."
Nothing shows as yet."
"I wish I could believe they were foundations."
"But can you doubt we are scrapping the old? . . ."
It was too late in the afternoon to go into the cathedral, so
they strolled to and fro round and about the west end and
along the path under the trees towards the river, exchanging
their ideas very frankly and freely about the things that had
recently happened to the world and what they thought they
ought to be doing in it.
After dinner our four tourists sat late and talked in a
corner of the smoking-room. The two ladies had vanished
hastily at the first dinner gong and reappeared at the
second, mysteriously and pleasantly changed from tweedy
pedestrians to indoor company. They were quietly but
definitely dressed, pretty alterations had happened to their
coiffure, a silver band and deep red stones lit the dusk of
Miss Grammont's hair and a necklace of the same colourings
kept the peace between her jolly sun-burnt cheek and her soft
untanned neck. It was evident her recent uniform had included
a collar of great severity. Miss Seyffert had revealed a
plump forearm and proclaimed it with a clash of bangles. Dr.
Martineau thought her evening throat much too confidential.
The conversation drifted from topic to topic. It had none of
the steady continuity of Sir Richmond's duologue with Miss
Grammont. Miss Seyffert's methods were too discursive and
exclamatory. She broke every thread that appeared. The Old
George at Salisbury is really old; it shows it, and Miss
Seyffert laced the entire evening with her recognition of the
fact. "Just look at that old beam!" she would cry suddenly. "
To think it was exactly where it is before there was a Cabot
Miss Grammont let her companion pull the talk about as she
chose. After the animation of the afternoon a sort of lazy
contentment had taken possession of the younger lady. She sat
deep in a basket chair and spoke now and then. Miss Seyffert
gave her impressions of France and Italy. She talked of the
cabmen of Naples and the beggars of Amalfi.
Apropos of beggars, Miss Grammont from the depths of her
chair threw out the statement that Italy was frightfully
overpopulated. "In some parts of Italy it is like mites on a
cheese. Nobody seems to be living. Everyone is too busy
"Poor old women carrying loads big enough for mules," said
"Little children working like slaves," said Miss Grammont.
"And everybody begging. Even the people at work by the
roadside. Who ought to be getting wages--sufficient. . . ."
"Begging--from foreigners--is just a sport in Italy," said
Sir Richmond. "It doesn't imply want. But I agree that a
large part of Italy is frightfully overpopulated. The whole
world is. Don't you think so, Martineau?"
"Well--yes--for its present social organization. "
"For any social organization," said Sir Richmond.
"I've no doubt of it," said Miss Seyffert, and added
amazingly: "I'm out for Birth Control all the time."
A brief but active pause ensued. Dr. Martineau in a state of
sudden distress attempted to drink out of a cold and empty
"The world swarms with cramped and undeveloped lives," said
Sir Richmond. "Which amount to nothing. Which do not even
represent happiness. And which help to use up the resources,
the fuel and surplus energy of the world."
"I suppose they have a sort of liking for their lives," Miss
"Does that matter? They do nothing to carry life on. They are
just vain repetitions--imperfect dreary, blurred repetitions
of one common life. All that they feel has been felt, all
that they do has been done better before. Because they are
crowded and hurried and underfed and undereducated. And as
for liking their lives, they need never have had the chance."
"How many people are there in the world?" she asked abruptly.
"I don't know. Twelve hundred, fifteen hundred millions
"And in your world?"
"I'd have two hundred and fifty millions, let us say. At
most. It would be quite enough for this little planet, for a
time, at any rate. Don't you think so, doctor?"
"I don't know," said Dr. Martineau. "Oddly enough, I have
never thought about that question before. At least, not from
"But could you pick out two hundred and fifty million
aristocrats?" began Miss Grammont. "My native instinctive
"Need not be outraged," said Sir Richmond. "Any two hundred
and fifty million would do, They'd be able to develop fully,
all of them. As things are, only a minority can do that. The
rest never get a chance."
"That's what I always say," said Miss Seyffert.
"A New Age," said Dr. Martineau; "a New World. We may be
coming to such a stage, when population, as much as fuel,
will be under a world control. If one thing, why not the
other? I admit that the movement of thought is away from
haphazard towards control--"
"I'm for control all the time," Miss Seyffert injected,
following up her previous success.
"I admit", the doctor began his broken sentence again with
marked patience, "that the movement of thought is away from
haphazard towards control--in things generally. But is the
movement of events?"
"The eternal problem of man," said Sir Richmond. "Can our
There came a little pause.
Miss Grammont smiled an enquiry at Miss Seyffert. "If YOU
are," said Belinda.
"I wish I could imagine your world," said Miss Grammont,
rising, "of two hundred and fifty millions of fully developed
human beings with room to live and breathe in and no need for
wars. Will they live in palaces? Will they all be healthy? .
. . Machines will wait on them. No! I can't imagine it.
Perhaps I shall dream of it. My dreaming self may be
She held out her hand to Sir Richmond. Just for a moment they
stood hand in hand, appreciatively. . . .
"Well!" said Dr. Martineau, as the door closed behind the two
Americans, "This is a curious encounter."
"That young woman has brains," said Sir Richmond, standing
before the fireplace. There was no doubt whatever which young
woman he meant. But Dr. Martineau grunted.
"I don't like the American type," the doctor pronounced
"I do," Sir Richmond countered.
The doctor thought for a moment or so. "You are committed to
the project of visiting Avebury?" he said.
"They ought to see Avebury, " said Sir Richmond.
"H'm," said the doctor, ostentatiously amused by his thoughts
and staring at the fire. "Birth Control! I NEVER did."
Sir Richmond smiled down on the top of the doctor's head and
"I think" said the doctor and paused. "I shall leave this
Avebury expedition to you."
"We can be back in the early afternoon," said Sir Richmond.
"To give them a chance of seeing the cathedral. The chapter
house here is not one to miss . . . . "
"And then I suppose we shall go on?
"As you please," said Sir Richmond insincerely.
"I must confess that four people make the car at any rate
seem tremendously overpopulated. And to tell the truth, I do
not find this encounter so amusing as you seem to do. . . . I
shall not be sorry when we have waved good-bye to those young
ladies, and resume our interrupted conversation."
Sir Richmond considered something mulish in the doctor's
"I find Miss Grammont an extremely interesting--and
stimulating human being.
The doctor sighed, stood up and found himself delivering one
of the sentences he had engendered during his solitary
meditations in his room before dinner. He surprised himself
by the plainness of his speech. "Let me be frank," he said,
regarding Sir Richmond squarely. "Considering the general
situation of things and your position, I do not care very
greatly for the part of an accessory to what may easily
develop, as you know very well, into a very serious
flirtation. An absurd, mischievous, irrelevant flirtation.
You may not like the word. You may pretend it is a
conversation, an ordinary intellectual conversation. That is
not the word. Simply that is not the word. You people eye one
another. . . . Flirtation. I give the affair its proper name.
That is all. Merely that. When I think--But we will not
discuss it now. . . . Good night. . . . Forgive me if I put
before you, rather bluntly, my particular point of view."
Sir Richmond found himself alone. With his eyebrows raised.
After twenty-four eventful hours our two students of human
motives found themselves together again by the fireplace in
the Old George smoking-room. They had resumed their overnight
conversation, in a state of considerable tension.
"If you find the accommodation of the car insufficient," said
Sir Richmond in a tone of extreme reasonableness, and I admit
it is, we can easily hire a larger car in a place like this.
I would not care if you hired an omnibus, said Dr. Martineau.
"I am not coming on if these young women are."
"But if you consider it scandalous--and really, Martineau,
really! as one man to another, it does seem to me to be a bit
pernickety of you, a broad and original thinker as you are--"
"Thought is one matter. Rash, inconsiderate action quite
another. And above all, if I spend another day in or near the
company of Miss Belinda Seyffert I shall--I shall be
extremely rude to her."
"But," said Sir Richmond and bit his lower lip and
"We might drop Belinda," he suggested turning to his friend
and speaking in low, confidential tones. "She is quite a
manageable person. Quite. She could--for example--be left
behind with the luggage and sent on by train. I do not know
if you realize how the land lies in that quarter. It needs
only a word to Miss Grammont. "
There was no immediate reply. For a moment he had a wild hope
that his companion would agree, and then he perceived that
the doctor's silence meant only the preparation of an
"I object to Miss Grammont and that side of the thing, more
than I do to Miss Seyffert."
Sir Richmond said nothing.
"It may help you to see this affair from a slightly different
angle if I tell you that twice today Miss Seyffert has asked
me if you were a married man."
"And of course you told her I was."
"On the second occasion."
Sir Richmond smiled again.
"Frankly," said the doctor, "this adventure is altogether
uncongenial to me. It is the sort of thing that has never
happened in my life. This highway coupling--"
"Don't you think," said Sir Richmond, "that you are attaching
rather too much--what shall I say--romantic?--flirtatious?--
meaning to this affair? I don't mind that after my rather
lavish confessions you should consider me a rather oversexed
person, but isn't your attitude rather unfair,--unjust,
indeed, and almost insulting, to this Miss Grammont? After
all, she's a young lady of very good social position indeed.
She doesn't strike you--does she?--as an undignified or
helpless human being. Her manners suggest a person of
considerable self-control. And knowing less of me than you
do, she probably regards me as almost as safe as--a maiden
aunt say. I'm twice her age. We are a party of four. There
are conventions, there are considerations. . . . Aren't you
really, my dear Martineau, overdoing all this side of this
very pleasant little enlargement of our interests."
"AM I?" said Dr. Martineau and brought a scrutinizing eye to
bear on Sir Richmond's face.
"I want to go on talking to Miss Grammont for a day or so,"
Sir Richmond admitted.
"Then I shall prefer to leave your party."
There were some moments of silence.
"I am really very sorry to find myself in this dilemma," said
Sir Richmond with a note of genuine regret in his voice.
"It is not a dilemma," said Dr. Martineau, with a
corresponding loss of asperity. "I grant you we discover we
differ upon a question of taste and convenience. But before I
suggested this trip, I had intended to spend a little time
with my old friend Sir Kenelm Latter at Bournemouth. Nothing
simpler than to go to him now . . . ."
"I shall be sorry all the same."
"I could have wished," said the doctor, "that these ladies
had happened a little later. . . ."
The matter was settled. Nothing more of a practical nature
remained to be said. But neither gentleman wished to break
off with a harsh and bare decision.
"When the New Age is here," said Sir Richmond, "then, surely,
a friendship between a man and a woman will not be subjected
to the--the inconveniences your present code would set about
it? They would travel about together as they chose?"
"The fundamental principle of the new age," said the doctor,
will be Honi soit qui mal y pense. In these matters. With
perhaps Fay ce que vouldras as its next injunction. So long
as other lives are not affected. In matters of personal
behaviour the world will probably be much more free and
individuals much more open in their conscience and honour
than they have ever been before. In matters of property,
economics and public conduct it will probably be just the
reverse. Then, there will be much more collective control and
much more insistence, legal insistence, upon individual
responsibility. But we are not living in a new age yet; we
are living in the patched-up ruins of a very old one. And
you-- if you will forgive me--are living in the patched up
remains of a life that had already had its complications.
This young lady, whose charm and cleverness I admit, behaves
as if the new age were already here. Well, that may be a very
dangerous mistake both for her and for you. . . . This
affair, if it goes on for a few days more, may involve very
serious consequences indeed, with which I, for one, do not
wish to be involved."
Sir Richmond, upon the hearthrug, had a curious feeling that
he was back in the head master's study at Caxton.
Dr. Martineau went on with a lucidity that Sir Richmond found
rather trying, to give his impression of Miss Grammont and
her position in life.
"She is," he said, "manifestly a very expensively educated
girl. And in many ways interesting. I have been watching her.
I have not been favoured with very much of her attention, but
that fact has enabled me to see her in profile. Miss Seyffert
is a fairly crude mixture of frankness, insincerity and self-
explanatory egotism, and I have been able to disregard a
considerable amount of the conversation she has addressed to
me. Now I guess this Miss Grammont has had no mother since
she was quite little."
"Your guesses, doctor, are apt to be pretty good," said Sir
"You know that?"
"She has told me as much."
"H'm. Well--She impressed me as having the air of a girl who
has had to solve many problems for which the normal mother
provides ready made solutions. That is how I inferred that
there was no mother. I don't think there has been any
stepmother, either friendly or hostile? There hasn't been. I
thought not. She has had various governesses and companions,
ladies of birth and education, engaged to look after her and
she has done exactly what she liked with them. Her manner
with Miss Seyffert, an excellent manner for Miss Seyffert, by
the bye, isn't the sort of manner anyone acquires in a day.
Or for one person only. She is a very sure and commanding
Sir Richmond nodded.
"I suppose her father adores and neglects her, and whenever
she has wanted a companion or governess butchered, the thing
has been done. . . . These business Americans, I am told,
neglect their womenkind, give them money and power, let them
loose on the world. . . . It is a sort of moral laziness
masquerading as affection. . . . Still I suppose custom and
tradition kept this girl in her place and she was petted,
honoured, amused, talked about but not in a harmful way, and
rather bored right up to the time when America came into the
war. Theoretically she had a tremendously good time."
"I think this must be near the truth of her biography," said
"I suppose she has lovers."
"You don't mean--?" "No, I don't. Though that is a matter
that ought to have no special interest for you. I mean that
she was surrounded by a retinue of men who wanted to marry
her or who behaved as though they wanted to marry her or who
made her happiness and her gratifications and her
condescensions seem a matter of very great importance to
them. She had the flattery of an extremely uncritical and
unexacting admiration. That is the sort of thing that
gratifies a silly woman extremely. Miss Grammont is not silly
and all this homage and facile approval probably bored her
more than she realized. To anyone too intelligent to be
steadily excited by buying things and wearing things and
dancing and playing games and going to places of
entertainment, and being given flowers, sweets, jewellery,
pet animals, and books bound in a special sort of leather,
the prospect of being a rich man's only daughter until such
time as it becomes advisable to change into a rich man's
wealthy wife, is probably not nearly so amusing as envious
people might suppose. I take it Miss Grammont had got all she
could out of that sort of thing some time before the war, and
that she had already read and thought rather more than most
young women in her position. Before she was twenty I guess
she was already looking for something more interesting in the
way of men than a rich admirer with an automobile full of
presents. Those who seek find."
"What do you think she found?"
"What would a rich girl find out there in America? I don't
know. I haven't the material to guess with. In London a girl
might find a considerable variety of active, interesting men,
rising politicians, university men of distinction, artists
and writers even, men of science, men--there are still such
men--active in the creative work of the empire.
"In America I suppose there is at least an equal variety,
made up of rather different types. She would find that life
was worth while to such people in a way that made the
ordinary entertainments and amusements of her life a
monstrous silly waste of time. With the facility of her sex
she would pick up from one of them the idea that made life
worth while for him. I am inclined to think there was someone
in her case who did seem to promise a sort of life that was
worth while. And that somehow the war came to alter the look
of that promise.
"I don't know. Perhaps I am only romancing. But for this
young woman I am convinced this expedition to Europe has
meant experience, harsh educational experience and very
profound mental disturbance. There have been love
experiences; experiences that were something more than the
treats and attentions and proposals that made up her life
when she was sheltered over there. And something more than
that. What it is I don't know. The war has turned an ugly
face to her. She has seen death and suffering and ruin.
Perhaps she has seen people she knew killed. Perhaps the man
has been killed. Or she has met with cowardice or cruelty or
treachery where she didn't expect it. She has been shocked
out of the first confidence of youth. She has ceased to take
the world for granted. It hasn't broken her but it has
matured her. That I think is why history has become real to
her. Which so attracts you in her. History, for her, has
ceased to be a fabric of picturesque incidents; it is the
study of a tragic struggle that still goes on. She sees
history as you see it and I see it. She is a very grown-up
"It's just that," said Sir Richmond. "It's just that. If you
see as much in Miss Grammont as all that, why don't you want
to come on with us? You see the interest of her."
"I see a lot more than that. You don't know what an advantage
it is to be as I am, rather cold and unresponsive to women
and unattractive and negligible--negligible, that is the
exact word--to them. YOU can't look at a woman for five
minutes without losing sight of her in a mist of imaginative
excitement. Because she looks back at you. I have the
privilege of the negligible--which is a cool head. Miss
Grammont has a startled and matured mind, an original mind.
Yes. And there is something more to be said. Her intelligence
is better than her character."
"I don't quite see what you are driving at."
"The intelligence of all intelligent women is better than
their characters. Goodness in a woman, as we understand it,
seems to imply necessarily a certain imaginative fixity. Miss
Grammont has an impulsive and adventurous character. And as I
have been saying she was a spoilt child, with no
discipline. . . . You also are a person of high intelligence
and defective controls. She is very much at loose ends. You--
on account of the illness of that rather forgotten lady, Miss
"Aren't you rather abusing the secrets of the confessional?"
"This IS the confessional. It closes to-morrow morning but it
is the confessional still. Look at the thing frankly. You, I
say, are also at loose ends. Can you deny it? My dear sir,
don't we both know that ever since we left London you have
been ready to fall in love with any pretty thing in
petticoats that seemed to promise you three ha'porth of
kindness. A lost dog looking for a master! You're a stray man
looking for a mistress. Miss Grammont being a woman is a
little more selective than that. But if she's at a loose end
as I suppose, she isn't protected by the sense of having made
her selection. And she has no preconceptions of what she
wants. You are a very interesting man in many ways. You carry
marriage and entanglements lightly. With an air of being
neither married nor entangled. She is quite prepared to fall
in love with you."
"But you don't really think that?" said Sir Richmond, with an
Dr. Martineau rolled his face towards Sir Richmond. "These
miracles--grotesquely--happen," he said. "She knows nothing
of Martin Leeds. . . . You must remember that. . . .
"And then," he added, "if she and you fall in love, as the
phrase goes, what is to follow?"
There was a pause.
Sir Richmond looked at his toes for a moment or so as if he
took counsel with them and then decided to take offence.
"Really!" he said, "this is preposterous. You talk of falling
in love as though it was impossible for a man and woman to be
deeply interested in each other without that. And the gulf in
our ages--in our quality! From the Psychologist of a New Age
I find this amazing. Are men and women to go on for ever--
separated by this possibility into two hardly communicating
and yet interpenetrating worlds? Is there never to be
friendship and companionship between men and women without
"You ought to know even better than I do that there is not.
For such people as you two anyhow. And at present the world
is not prepared to tolerate friendship and companionship WITH
that accompaniment. That is the core of this situation."
A pause fell between the two gentlemen. They had smoothed
over the extreme harshness of their separation and there was
very little more to be said.
"Well," said Sir Richmond in conclusion, "I am very sorry
indeed, Martineau, that we have to part like this."
CHAPTER THE SEVENTH
"Well," said Dr. Martineau, extending his hand to Sir
Richmond on the Salisbury station platform, "I leave you to
His round face betrayed little or no vestiges of his
"Ought you to leave me to it?" smiled Sir Richmond.
"I shall be interested to learn what happens."
"But if you won't stay to see!"
"Now Sir, please," said the guard respectfully but firmly,
and Dr. Martineau got in.
Sir Richmond walked thoughtfully down the platform towards
"What else could I do?" he asked aloud to nobody in
For a little while he thought confusedly of the collapse of
his expedition into the secret places of his own heart with
Dr. Martineau, and then his prepossession with Miss Grammont
resumed possession of his mind. Dr. Martineau was forgotten.
For the better part of forty hours, Sir Richmond had either
been talking to Miss Grammont, or carrying on imaginary
conversations with her in her absence, or sleeping and
dreaming dreams in which she never failed to play a part,
even if at times it was an altogether amazing and incongruous
part. And as they were both very frank and expressive people,
they already knew a very great deal about each other.
For an American Miss Grammont was by no means
autobiographical. She gave no sketches of her idiosyncrasies,
and she repeated no remembered comments and prophets of her
contemporaries about herself. She either concealed or she had
lost any great interest in her own personality. But she was
interested in and curious about the people she had met in
life, and her talk of them reflected a considerable amount of
light upon her own upbringing and experiences. And her liking
for Sir Richmond was pleasingly manifest. She liked his turn
of thought, she watched him with a faint smile on her lips as
he spoke, and she spread her opinions before him carefully in
that soft voice of hers like a shy child showing its
treasures to some suddenly trusted and favoured visitor.
Their ways of thought harmonized. They talked at first
chiefly about the history of the world and the extraordinary
situation of aimlessness in a phase of ruin to which the
Great War had brought all Europe, if not all mankind. The
world excited them both in the same way; as a crisis in which
they were called upon to do something--they did not yet
clearly know what. Into this topic they peered as into some
deep pool, side by side, and in it they saw each other
The visit to Avebury had been a great success. It had been a
perfect springtime day, and the little inn had been delighted
at the reappearance of Sir Richmond's car so soon after its
departure. Its delight was particularly manifest in the cream
and salad it produced for lunch. Both Miss Grammont and Miss
Seyffert displayed an intelligent interest in their food.
After lunch they had all gone out to the stones and the wall.
Half a dozen sunburnt children were putting one of the
partially overturned megaliths to a happy use by clambering
to the top of it and sliding on their little behinds down its
smooth and sloping side amidst much mirthful squealing.
Sir Richmond and Miss Grammont had walked round the old
circumvallation together, but Belinda Seyffert had strayed
away from them, professing an interest in flowers. It was not
so much that she felt they had to be left together that made
her do this as her own consciousness of being possessed by a
devil who interrupted conversations.
When Miss Grammont was keenly interested in a conversation,
then Belinda had learnt from experience that it was wiser to
go off with her devil out of the range of any temptation to
"You really think," said Miss Grammont, "that it would be
possible to take this confused old world and reshape it, set
it marching towards that new world of yours--of two hundred
and fifty million fully developed, beautiful and happy
"Why not? Nobody is doing anything with the world except
muddle about. Why not give it a direction? "
"You'd take it in your hands like clay?"
"Obdurate clay with a sort of recalcitrant, unintelligent
life of its own."
Her imagination glowed in her eyes and warmed her voice. "I
believe what you say is possible. If people dare."
"I am tired of following little motives that are like flames
that go out when you get to them. I am tired of seeing all
the world doing the same. I am tired of a world in which
there is nothing great but great disasters. Here is something
mankind can attempt, that we can attempt."
"And will? "
"I believe that as Mankind grows up this is the business Man
has to settle down to and will settle down to."
She considered that.
"I've been getting to believe something like this.
But-- . . . it frightens me. I suppose most of us have this
same sort of dread of taking too much upon ourselves."
"So we just live like pigs. Sensible little piggywiggys. I've
got a Committee full of that sort of thing. We live like
little modest pigs. And let the world go hang. And pride
ourselves upon our freedom from the sin of presumption.
"Not quite that!"
"Well! How do you put it?"
"We are afraid," she said. "It's too vast. We want bright
little lives of our own. "
"Exactly--sensible little piggy-wiggys."
"We have a right to life--and happiness.
"First," said Sir Richmond, "as much right as a pig has to
food. But whether we get life and happiness or fail to get
them we human beings who have imaginations want something
more nowadays. . . . Of course we want bright lives, of
course we want happiness. Just as we want food, just as we
want sleep. But when we have eaten, when we have slept, when
we have jolly things about us--it is nothing. We have been
made an exception of--and got our rations. The big thing
confronts us still. It is vast, I agree, but vast as it is it
is the thing we have to think about. I do not know why it
should be so, but I am compelled by something in my nature to
want to serve this idea of a new age for mankind. I want it
as my culminating want. I want a world in order, a
disciplined mankind going on to greater things. Don't you?"
"Now you tell me of it," she said with a smile, "I do."
"No. You've made it clear. It wasn't clear before."
"I've been talking of this sort of thing with my friend Dr.
Martineau. And I've been thinking as well as talking. That
perhaps is why I'm so clear and positive."
"I don't complain that you are clear and positive. I've been
coming along the same way. . . . It's refreshing to meet
"I found it refreshing to meet Martineau." A twinge of
conscience about Dr. Martineau turned Sir Richmond into a new
channel. "He's a most interesting man," he said. "Rather shy
in some respects. Devoted to his work. And he's writing a
book which has saturated him in these ideas. Only two nights
ago we stood here and talked about it. The Psychology of a
New Age. The world, he believes, is entering upon a new phase
in its history, the adolescence, so to speak, of mankind. It
is an idea that seizes the imagination. There is a flow of
new ideas abroad, he thinks, widening realizations,
unprecedented hopes and fears. There is a consciousness of
new powers and new responsibilities. We are sharing the
adolescence of our race. It is giving history a new and more
intimate meaning for us. It is bringing us into directer
relation with public affairs,--making them matter as formerly
they didn't seem to matter. That idea of the bright little
private life has to go by the board."
"I suppose it has," she said, meditatively, as though she had
been thinking over some such question before.
"The private life," she said, "has a way of coming aboard
Her reflections travelled fast and broke out now far ahead of
"You have some sort of work cut out for you," she said
"Yes. Yes, I have."
"I haven't," she said.
"So that I go about," she added, like someone who is looking
for something. I'd like to know if it's not jabbing too
searching a question at you--what you have found."
Sir Richmond considered. "Incidentally," he smiled, " I want
to get a lasso over the neck of that very forcible and
barbaric person, your father. I am doing my best to help lay
the foundation of a scientific world control of fuel
production and distribution. We have a Fuel Commission in
London with rather wide powers of enquiry into the whole
world problem of fuel. We shall come out to Washington
presently with proposals. "
Miss Grammont surveyed the landscape. "I suppose," she said,
"poor father IS rather like an unbroken mule in business
affairs. So many of our big business men in America are.
He'll lash out at you."
"I don't mind if only he lashes out openly in the sight of
She considered and turned on Sir Richmond gravely.
"Tell me what you want to do to him. You find out so many
things for me that I seem to have been thinking about in a
sort of almost invisible half-conscious way. I've been
suspecting for a long time that Civilization wasn't much good
unless it got people like my father under some sort of
control. But controlling father--as distinguished from
managing him!" She reviewed some private and amusing
memories. "He is a most intractable man."
They had gone on to talk of her father and of the types of
men who controlled international business. She had had
plentiful opportunities for observation in their homes and
her own. Gunter Lake, the big banker, she knew particularly
well, because, it seemed, she had been engaged or was engaged
to marry him. "All these people," she said, "are pushing
things about, affecting millions of lives, hurting and
disordering hundreds of thousands of people. They don't seem
to know what they are doing. They have no plans in
particular. . . . And you are getting something going that
will be a plan and a direction and a conscience and a control
for them? You will find my father extremely difficult, but
some of our younger men would love it.
"And," she went on; "there are American women who'd love it
too. We're petted. We're kept out of things. We aren't
placed. We don't get enough to do. We're spenders and wasters
--not always from choice. While these fathers and brothers
and husbands of ours play about with the fuel and power and
life and hope of the world as though it was a game of poker.
With all the empty unspeakable solemnity of the male. And
treat us as though we ought to be satisfied if they bring
home part of the winnings.
"That can't go on," she said.
Her eyes went back to the long, low, undulating skyline of
the downs. She spoke as though she took up the thread of some
controversy that had played a large part in her life. "That
isn't going on," she said with an effect of conclusive
Sir Richmond recalled that little speech now as he returned
from Salisbury station to the Old George after his farewell
to Martineau. He recalled too the soft firmness of her
profile and the delicate line of her lifted chin. He felt
that this time at any rate he was not being deceived by the
outward shows of a charming human being. This young woman had
real firmness of character to back up her free and
independent judgments. He smiled at the idea of any facile
passion in the composition of so sure and gallant a
personality. Martineau was very fine-minded in many respects,
but he was an old maid; and like all old maids he saw man and
woman in every encounter. But passion was a thing men and
women fell back upon when they had nothing else in common.
When they thought in the pleasantest harmony and every remark
seemed to weave a fresh thread of common interest, then it
wasn't so necessary. It might happen, but it wasn't so
necessary. . . . If it did it would be a secondary thing to
companionship. That's what she was,--a companion.
But a very lovely and wonderful companion, the companion one
would not relinquish until the very last moment one could
keep with her.
Her views about America and about her own place in the world
seemed equally fresh and original to Sir Richmond.
"I realize I've got to be a responsible American citizen,"
she had said. That didn't mean that she attached very much
importance to her recently acquired vote. She evidently
classified voters into the irresponsible who just had votes
and the responsible who also had a considerable amount of
property as well. She had no illusions about the power of the
former class. It didn't exist. They were steered to their
decisions by people employed, directed or stimulated by
"father" and his friends and associates, the owners of
America, the real "responsible citizens." Or they fell a prey
to the merely adventurous leading of "revolutionaries." But
anyhow they were steered. She herself, it was clear, was
bound to become a very responsible citizen indeed. She would
some day, she laughed, be swimming in oil and such like
property. Her interest in Sir Richmond's schemes for a
scientific world management of fuel was therefore, she
realized, a very direct one. But it was remarkable to find a
young woman seeing it like that.
Father it seemed varied very much in his attitude towards
her. He despised and distrusted women generally, and it was
evident he had made it quite clear to her how grave an error
it was on her part to persist in being a daughter and not a
son. At moments it seemed to Sir Richmond that she was
disposed to agree with father upon that. When Mr. Grammont's
sense of her regrettable femininity was uppermost, then he
gave his intelligence chiefly to schemes for tying her up
against the machinations of adventurers by means of trustees,
partners, lawyers, advisers, agreements and suchlike
complications, or for acquiring a workable son by marriage.
To this last idea it would seem the importance in her life of
the rather heavily named Gunter Lake was to be ascribed. But
another mood of the old man's was distrust of anything that
could not be spoken of as his "own flesh and blood," and then
he would direct his attention to a kind of masculinization of
his daughter and to schemes for giving her the completest
control of all he had to leave her provided she never married
nor fell under masculine sway. "After all," he would reflect
as he hesitated over the practicability of his life's ideal,
"there was Hetty Green."
This latter idea had reft her suddenly at the age of
seventeen from the educational care of an English gentlewoman
warranted to fit her for marriage with any prince in Europe,
and thrust her for the mornings and a moiety of the
afternoons of the better part of a year, after a swift but
competent training, into a shirt waist and an office down
town. She had been entrusted at first to a harvester concern
independent of Mr. Grammont, because he feared his own people
wouldn't train her hard. She had worked for ordinary wages
and ordinary hours, and at the end of the day, she mentioned
casually, a large automobile with two menservants and a
trustworthy secretary used to pick her out from the torrent
of undistinguished workers that poured out of the Synoptical
Building. This masculinization idea had also sent her on a
commission of enquiry into Mexico. There apparently she had
really done responsible work.
But upon the question of labour Mr. Grammont was fierce, even
for an American business man, and one night at a dinner party
he discovered his daughter displaying what he considered an
improper familiarity with socialist ideas. This had produced
a violent revulsion towards the purdah system and the idea of
a matrimonial alliance with Gunter Lake. Gunter Lake, Sir
Richmond gathered, wasn't half a bad fellow. Generally it
would seem Miss Grammont liked him, and she had a way of
speaking about him that suggested that in some way Mr. Lake
had been rather hardly used and had acquired merit by his
behaviour under bad treatment. There was some story, however,
connected with her war services in Europe upon which Miss
Grammont was evidently indisposed to dwell. About that story
Sir Richmond was left at the end of his Avebury day and after
his last talk with Dr. Martineau, still quite vaguely
So much fact about Miss Grammont as we have given had floated
up in fragments and pieced itself together in Sir Richmond's
mind in the course of a day and a half. The fragments came up
as allusions or by way of illustration. The sustaining topic
was this New Age Sir Richmond fore shadowed, this world under
scientific control, the Utopia of fully developed people
fully developing the resources of the earth. For a number of
trivial reasons Sir Richmond found himself ascribing the
project of this New Age almost wholly to Dr. Martineau, and
presenting it as a much completer scheme than he was
justified in doing. It was true that Dr. Martineau had not
said many of the things Sir Richmond ascribed to him, but
also it was true that they had not crystallized out in Sir
Richmond's mind before his talks with Dr. Martineau. The idea
of a New Age necessarily carries with it the idea of fresh
rules of conduct and of different relationships between human
beings. And it throws those who talk about it into the
companionship of a common enterprise. To-morrow the New Age
will be here no doubt, but today it is the hope and adventure
of only a few human beings.
So that it was natural for Miss Grammont and Sir Richmond to
ask: "What are we to do with such types as father?" and to
fall into an idiom that assumed a joint enterprise. They had
agreed by a tacit consent to a common conception of the world
they desired as a world scientifically ordered, an immense
organization of mature commonsense, healthy and secure,
gathering knowledge and power for creative adventures as yet
beyond dreaming. They were prepared to think of the makers of
the Avebury dyke as their yesterday selves, of the stone age
savages as a phase, in their late childhood, and of this
great world order Sir Richmond foresaw as a day where dawn
was already at hand. And in such long perspectives, the
states, governments and institutions of to-day became very
temporary-looking and replaceable structures indeed. Both
these two people found themselves thinking in this fashion
with an unwonted courage and freedom because the other one
had been disposed to think in this fashion before. Sir
Richmond was still turning over in his mind the happy mutual
release of the imagination this chance companionship had
brought about when he found himself back again at the
threshold of the Old George.
Sir Richmond Hardy was not the only man who was thinking
intently about Miss Grammont at that particular moment. Two
gentlemen were coming towards her across the Atlantic whose
minds, it chanced, were very busily occupied by her affairs.
One of these was her father, who was lying in his brass bed
in his commodious cabin on the Hollandia, regretting his
diminishing ability to sleep in the early morning now, even
when he was in the strong and soothing air of mid-Atlantic,
and thinking of V.V. because she had a way of coming into his
mind when it was undefended; and the other was Mr. Gunter
Lake on the Megantic, one day out from Sandy Hook, who found
himself equally sleepless and preoccupied. And although Mr.
Lake was a man of vast activities and complicated engagements
he was coming now to Europe for the express purpose of seeing
V.V. and having things out with her fully and completely
because, in spite of all that had happened, she made such an
endless series of delays in coming to America.
Old Grammont as he appeared upon the pillow of his bed by the
light of a rose-shaded bedside lamp, was a small-headed,
grey-haired gentleman with a wrinkled face and sunken brown
eyes. Years of business experience, mitigated only by such
exercise as the game of poker affords, had intensified an
instinctive inexpressiveness. Under the most solitary
circumstances old Grammont was still inexpressive, and the
face that stared at the, ceiling of his cabin and the problem
of his daughter might have been the face of a pickled head in
a museum, for any indication it betrayed of the flow of
thought within. He lay on his back and his bent knees lifted
the bed-clothes into a sharp mountain. He was not even trying
Why, he meditated, had V.V. stayed on in Europe so much
longer than she need have done? And why had Gunter Lake
suddenly got into a state of mind about her? Why didn't the
girl confide in her father at least about these things? What
was afoot? She had thrown over Lake once and it seemed she
was going to turn him down again. Well, if she was an
ordinary female person that was a silly sort of thing to do.
With her fortune and his--you could buy the world. But
suppose she was not all ordinary female person. . . . Her
mother hadn't been ordinary anyhow, whatever else you called
her, and no one could call Grammont blood all ordinary fluid.
. . . Old Grammont had never had any delusions about Lake. If
Lake's father hadn't been a big man Lake would never have
counted for anything at all. Suppose she did turn him down.
In itself that wasn't a thing to break her father's heart.
What did matter was not whether she threw Lake over but what
she threw him over for. If it was because he wasn't man
enough, well and good. But if it was for some other lover,
some good-looking, worthless impostor, some European title or
At the thought of a lover for V.V. a sudden flood of anger
poured across the old man's mind, behind the still mask of
his face. It infuriated him even to think of V.V., his little
V.V., his own girl, entertaining a lover, being possibly--
most shameful thought--IN LOVE! Like some ordinary silly
female, sinking to kisses, to the deeds one could buy and pay
for. His V.V.! The idea infuriated and disgusted him. He
fought against it as a possibility. Once some woman in New
York had ventured to hint something to him of some fellow,
some affair with an artist, Caston; she had linked this
Caston with V.V.'s red cross nursing in Europe. . . . Old
Grammont had made that woman sorry she spoke. Afterwards he
had caused enquiries to be made about this Caston, careful
enquiries. It seems that he and V.V. had known each other,
there had been something. But nothing that V.V. need be
ashamed of. When old Grammont's enquiry man had come back
with his report, old Grammont had been very particular about
that. At first the fellow had not been very clear, rather
muddled indeed as to how things were--no doubt he had wanted
to make out there was something just to seem to earn his
money. Old Grammont had struck the table sharply and the eyes
that looked out of his mask had blazed. "What have you found
out against her?" he had asked in a low even voice.
"Absolutely nothing, Sir," said the agent, suddenly white to
the lips. . . .
Old Grammont stared at his memory of that moment for a while.
That affair was all right, quite all right. Of course it was
all right. And also, happily, Caston was among the dead. But
it was well her broken engagement with Lake had been resumed
as though it had never been broken off. If there had been any
talk that fact answered it. And now that Lake had served his
purpose old Grammont did not care in the least if he was
shelved. V.V. could stand alone.
Old Grammont had got a phrase in his mind that looked like
dominating the situation. He dreamt of saying to V.V.: "V.V.,
I'm going to make a man of you--if you're man enough." That
was a large proposition; it implied--oh! it implied all sorts
of things. It meant that she would care as little for
philandering as an able young business man. Perhaps some day,
a long time ahead, she might marry. There wasn't much reason
for it, but it might be she would not wish to be called a
spinster. "Take a husband," thought old Grammont, "when I am
gone, as one takes a butler, to make the household complete."
In previous meditations on his daughter's outlook old
Grammont had found much that was very suggestive in the
precedent of Queen Victoria. She had had no husband of the
lord and master type, so to speak, but only a Prince Consort,
well in hand. Why shouldn't the Grammont heiress dominate her
male belonging, if it came to that, in the same fashion? Why
shouldn't one tie her up and tie the whole thing up, so far
as any male belonging was concerned, leaving V.V. in all
other respects free? How could one do it?
The speculative calm of the sunken brown eyes deepened.
His thoughts went back to the white face of the private
enquiry agent. "Absolutely nothing, Sir." What had the fellow
thought of hinting? Nothing of that kind in V.V.'s
composition, never fear. Yet it was a curious anomaly that
while one had a thousand ways of defending one's daughter and
one's property against that daughter's husband, there was no
power on earth by which a father could stretch his dead hand
between that daughter and the undue influence of a lover.
Unless you tied her up for good and all, lover or none. . . .
One was left at the mercy of V.V.'s character. . . .
"I ought to see more of her," he thought. "She gets away from
me. Just as her mother did." A man need not suspect his
womenkind but he should know what they are doing. It is duty,
his protective duty to them. These companions, these Seyffert
women and so forth, were all very well in their way; there
wasn't much they kept from you if you got them cornered and
asked them intently. But a father's eye is better. He must go
about with the girl for a time, watch her with other men,
give her chances to talk business with him and see if she
took them. "V.V., I'm going to make a man of you," the phrase
ran through his brain. The deep instinctive jealousy of the
primordial father was still strong in old Grammont's blood.
It would be pleasant to go about with her on his right hand
in Paris, HIS girl, straight and lovely, desirable and
unapproachable,--above that sort of nonsense, above all other
"V.V., I'm going to make a man of you. . . ."
His mind grew calmer. Whatever she wanted in Paris should be
hers. He'd just let her rip. They'd be like sweethearts
together, he and his girl.
Old Grammont dozed off into dreamland.
The imaginations of Mr. Gunter Lake, two days behind Mr.
Grammont upon the Atlantic, were of a gentler, more romantic
character. In them V.V. was no longer a daughter in the
fierce focus of a father's jealousy, but the goddess
enshrined in a good man's heart. Indeed the figure that the
limelight of the reverie fell upon was not V.V. at all but
Mr. Gunter Lake himself, in his favourite role of the perfect
An interminable speech unfolded itself. "I ask for nothing in
return. I've never worried you about that Caston business and
I never will. Married to me you shall be as free as if you
were unmarried. Don't I know, my dear girl, that you don't
love me yet. Let that be as you wish. I want nothing you are
not willing to give me, nothing at all. All I ask is the
privilege of making life happy--and it shall be happy--for
you. . . . All I ask. All I ask. Protect, guard,
cherish. . . ."
For to Mr. Gunter Lake it seemed there could be no lovelier
thing in life than a wife "in name only" slowly warmed into a
glow of passion by the steadfast devotion and the strength
and wisdom of a mate at first despised. Until at last a day
would come. . . .
"My darling!" Mr. Gunter Lake whispered to the darkness. "My
little guurl. IT HAS BEEN WORTH THE WAITING. . . ."
Miss Grammont met Sir Richmond in the bureau of the Old
George with a telegram in her hand. "My father reported his
latitude and longitude by wireless last night. The London
people think he will be off Falmouth in four days' time. He
wants me to join his liner there and go on to Cherbourg and
Paris. He's arranged that. He is the sort of man who can
arrange things like that. There'll be someone at Falmouth to
look after us and put us aboard the liner. I must wire them
where I can pick up a telegram to-morrow."
"Wells in Somerset," said Sir :Richmond.
His plans were already quite clear. He explained that he
wanted her first to see Shaftesbury, a little old Wessex town
that was three or four hundred years older than Salisbury,
perched on a hill, a Saxon town, where Alfred had gathered
his forces against the Danes and where Canute, who had ruled
over all Scandinavia and Iceland and Greenland, and had come
near ruling a patch of America, had died. It was a little
sleepy place now, looking out dreamily over beautiful views.
They would lunch in Shaftesbury and walk round it. Then they
would go in the afternoon through the pleasant west country
where the Celts had prevailed against the old folk of the
Stonehenge temple and the Romans against the Celts and the
Saxons against the Romanized Britons and the Danes against
the Saxons, a war-scarred landscape, abounding in dykes and
entrenchments and castles, sunken now into the deepest peace,
to Glastonbury to see what there was to see of a marsh
village the Celts had made for themselves three or four
hundred years before the Romans came. And at Glastonbury also
there were the ruins of a great Benedictine church and abbey
that had once rivalled Salisbury. Thence they would go on to
Wells to see yet another great cathedral and to dine and
sleep. Glastonbury Abbey and Wells Cathedral brought the
story of Europe right up to Reformation times.
"That will be a good day for us," said Sir Richmond. "It will
be like turning over the pages of the history of our family,
to and fro. There will be nothing nearly so old as Avebury in
it, but there will be something from almost every chapter
that comes after Stonehenge. Rome will be poorly represented,
but that may come the day after at Bath. And the next day too
I want to show you something of our old River Severn. We will
come right up to the present if we go through Bristol. There
we shall have a whiff of America, our new find, from which
the tobacco comes, and we shall be reminded of how we set
sail thither--was it yesterday or the day before? You will
understand at Bristol how it is that the energy has gone out
of this dreaming land--to Africa and America and the whole
wide world. It was the good men of Bristol, by the bye, with
their trade from Africa to America, who gave you your colour
problem. Bristol we may go through to-morrow and Gloucester,
mother of I don't know how many American Gloucesters. Bath
we'll get in somehow. And then as an Anglo-American showman I
shall be tempted to run you northward a little way past
Tewkesbury, just to go into a church here and there and show
you monuments bearing little shields with the stars and
stripes upon them, a few stars and a few stripes, the
Washington family monuments."
"It was not only from England that America came," said Miss
"But England takes an American memory back most easily and
most fully--to Avebury and the Baltic Northmen, past the
emperors and the Corinthian columns that smothered Latin
Europe. . . . For you and me anyhow this is our past, this
was our childhood, and this is our land." He interrupted
laughing as she was about to reply. "Well, anyhow," he said,
"it is a beautiful day and a pretty country before us with
the ripest history in every grain of its soil. So we'll send
a wire to your London people and tell them to send their
instructions to Wells."
"I'll tell Belinda," she said, "to be quick with her
As Miss Grammont and Sir Richmond Hardy fulfilled the details
of his excellent programme and revised their impressions of
the past and their ideas about the future in the springtime
sunlight of Wiltshire and Somerset, with Miss Seyffert acting
the part of an almost ostentatiously discreet chorus, it was
inevitable that their conversation should become, by
imperceptible gradations, more personal and intimate. They
kept up the pose, which was supposed to represent Dr.
Martineau's philosophy, of being Man and Woman on their
Planet considering its Future, but insensibly they developed
the idiosyncrasies of their position. They might profess to
be Man and Woman in the most general terms, but the facts
that she was the daughter not of Everyman but old Grammont
and that Sir Richmond was the angry leader of a minority upon
the Fuel Commission became more and more important. "What
shall we do with this planet of ours? " gave way by the
easiest transitions to "What are you and I doing and what
have we got to do? How do you feel about it all? What do you
desire and what do you dare?"
It was natural that Sir Richmond should talk of his Fuel
Commission to a young woman whose interests in fuel were even
greater than his own. He found that she was very much better
read than he was in the recent literature of socialism, and
that she had what he considered to be a most unfeminine grasp
of economic ideas. He thought her attitude towards socialism
a very sane one because it was also his own. So far as
socialism involved the idea of a scientific control of
natural resources as a common property administered in the
common interest, she and he were very greatly attracted by
it; but so far as it served as a form of expression for the
merely insubordinate discontent of the many with the few,
under any conditions, so long as it was a formula for class
jealousy and warfare, they were both repelled by it. If she
had had any illusions about the working class possessing as a
class any profounder political wisdom or more generous public
impulses than any other class, those illusions had long since
departed. People were much the same, she thought, in every
class; there was no stratification of either rightness or
He found he could talk to her of his work and aims upon the
Fuel Commission and of the conflict and failure of motives he
found in himself, as freely as he had done to Dr. Martineau
and with a surer confidence of understanding. Perhaps his
talks with the doctor had got his ideas into order and made
them more readily expressible than they would have been
otherwise. He argued against the belief that any class could
be good as a class or bad as a class, and he instanced the
conflict of motives he found in all the members of his
Committee and most so in himself. He repeated the persuasion
he had already confessed to Dr. Martineau that there was not
a single member of the Fuel Commission but had a considerable
drive towards doing the right thing about fuel, and not one
who had a single-minded, unencumbered drive towards the right
thing. "That," said Sir Richmond, "is what makes life so
interesting and, in spite of a thousand tragic
disappointments, so hopeful. Every man is a bad man, every
man is a feeble man and every man is a good man. My motives
come and go. Yours do the same. We vary in response to the
circumstances about us. Given a proper atmosphere, most men
will be public-spirited, right-living, generous. Given
perplexities and darkness, most of us can be cowardly and
vile. People say you cannot change human nature and perhaps
that is true, but you can change its responses endlessly. The
other day I was in Bohemia, discussing Silesian coal with
Benes, and I went to see the Festival of the Bohemian Sokols.
Opposite to where I sat, far away across the arena, was a
great bank of men of the Sokol organizations, an unbroken
brown mass wrapped in their brown uniform cloaks. Suddenly
the sun came out and at a word the whole body flung back
their cloaks, showed their Garibaldi shirts and became one
solid blaze of red. It was an amazing transformation until
one understood what had happened. Yet nothing material had
changed but the sunshine. And given a change in laws and
prevailing ideas, and the very same people who are greedy
traders, grasping owners and revolting workers to-day will
all throw their cloaks aside and you will find them working
together cheerfully, even generously, for a common end. They
aren't traders and owners and workers and so forth by any
inner necessity. Those are just the ugly parts they play in
the present drama. Which is nearly at the end of its run."
"That's a hopeful view," said Miss Grammont. "I don't see the
flaw in it--if there is a flaw."
"There isn't one, " said Sir Richmond. "It is my chief
discovery about life. I began with the question of fuel and
the energy it affords mankind, and I have found that my
generalization applies to all human affairs. Human beings are
fools, weaklings, cowards, passionate idiots,--I grant you.
That is the brown cloak side of them, so to speak. But they
are not such fools and so forth that they can't do pretty
well materially if once we hammer out a sane collective
method of getting and using fuel. Which people generally will
understand--in the place of our present methods of snatch and
wrangle. Of that I am absolutely convinced. Some work, some
help, some willingness you can get out of everybody. That's
the red. And the same principle applies to most labour and
property problems, to health, to education, to population,
social relationships and war and peace. We haven't got the
right system, we have inefficient half-baked systems, or no
system at all, and a wild confusion and war of ideas in all
these respects. But there is a right system possible none the
less. Let us only hammer our way through to the sane and
reasonable organization in this and that and the other human
affairs, and once we have got it, we shall have got it for
good. We may not live to see even the beginnings of success,
but the spirit of order, the spirit that has already produced
organized science, if only there are a few faithful,
persistent people to stick to the job, will in the long run
certainly save mankind and make human life clean and
splendid, happy work in a clear mind. If I could live to see
"And as for us--in our time?"
"Measured by the end we serve, we don't matter. You know we
"We have to find our fun in the building and in our
confidence that we do really build."
"So long as our confidence lasts there is no great hardship,"
said Sir Richmond.
"So long as our confidence lasts," she repeated after him.
"Ah!" cried Sir Richmond. "There it is! So long as our
confidence lasts! So long as one keeps one's mind steady.
That is what I came away with Dr. Martineau to discuss. I
went to him for advice. I haven't known him for more than a
month. It's amusing to find myself preaching forth to you. It
was just faith I had lost. Suddenly I had lost my power of
work. My confidence in the rightness of what I was doing
evaporated. My will failed me. I don't know if you will
understand what that means. It wasn't that my reason didn't
assure me just as certainly as ever that what I was trying to
do was the right thing to try to do. But somehow that seemed
a cold and personally unimportant proposition. The life had
gone out of it. . . . "
He paused as if arrested by a momentary doubt.
"I don't know why I tell you these things," he said.
"You tell them me," she said.
"It's a little like a patient in a hydropath retailing his
"No. No. Go on."
"I began to think now that what took the go out of me as my
work went on was the lack of any real fellowship in what I
was doing. It was the pressure of the opposition in the
Committee, day afterday. It was being up against men who
didn't reason against me but who just showed by everything
they did that the things I wanted to achieve didn't matter to
them one rap. It was going back to a home, lunching in clubs,
reading papers, going about a world in which all the
organization, all the possibility of the organization I dream
of is tacitly denied. I don't know if it seems an
extraordinary confession of weakness to you, but that steady
refusal of the majority of my Committee to come into co-
operation with me has beaten me--or at any rate has come very
near to beating me. Most of them you know are such able men.
You can FEEL their knowledge and commonsense. They, and
everybody about me, seemed busy and intent upon more
immediate things, that seemed more real to them than this
remote, theoretical, PRIGGISH end I have set for
myself. . . ."
"Go on," said Miss Grammont. "I think I understand this. "
"And yet I know I am right."
"I know you are right. I'm certain. Go on.
"If one of those ten thousand members of the Sokol Society
had thrown back his brown cloak and shown red when all the
others still kept them selves cloaked--if he was a normal
sensitive man--he might have felt something of a fool. He
might have felt premature and presumptuous. Red he was and
the others he knew were red also, but why show it? That is
the peculiar distress of people like ourselves, who have some
sense of history and some sense of a larger life within us
than our merely personal life. We don't want to go on with
the old story merely. We want to live somehow in that larger
life and to live for its greater ends and lose something
unbearable of ourselves, and in wanting to do that we are
only wanting to do what nearly everybody perhaps is ripe to
do and will presently want to do. When the New Age Martineau
talks about begins to come it may come very quickly--as the
red came at Prague. But for the present everyone hesitates
about throwing back the cloak."
"Until the cloak becomes unbearable," she said, repeating his
"I came upon this holiday in the queerest state. I thought I
was ill. I thought I was overworked. But the real trouble was
a loneliness that robbed me of all driving force. Nobody
seemed thinking and feeling with me. . . . I have never
realized until now what a gregarious beast man is. It needed
only a day or so with Martineau, in the atmosphere of ideas
and beliefs like my own, to begin my restoration. Now as I
talk to you--That is why I have clutched at your company.
Because here you are, coming from thousands of miles away,
and you talk my ideas, you fall into my ways of thought as
though we had gone to the same school."
"Perhaps we HAVE gone to the same school," she said.
"Disappointment. Disillusionment. Having to find something
better in life than the first things it promised us."
"But you--? Disappointed? I thought that in America people
might be educating already on different lines--"
"Even in America," Miss Grammont said, "crops only grow on
the ploughed land."
Glastonbury in the afternoon was wonderful; they talked of
Avalon and of that vanished legendary world of King Arthur
and his knights, and in the early evening they came to Wells
and a pleasant inn, with a quaint little garden before its
front door that gave directly upon the cathedral. The three
tourists devoted a golden half hour before dinner to the
sculptures on the western face. The great screen of wrought
stone rose up warmly, grey and clear and distinct against a
clear blue sky in which the moon hung, round and already
bright. That western facade with its hundreds of little
figures tells the whole story of God and Man from Adam to the
Last Judgment, as the mediaeval mind conceived it. It is an
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