THE MORNING'S WAR
C. E. MONTAGUE
This battle fares like to the morning's war,
When dying clouds contend with growing light."
Third Part of King Henry VI., Act ii. sc. 5.
HENRY HOLT AND COMPANY
HENRY HOLT AND COMPANY
Published August, 1913
. c ( . ,
" Escape. A garden plant growing wild in'thti ntids. A species
thus continued, in a soil and climate strange to it, may in time
exhibit remarkable changes in its characteristics."
Handbook of Botany.
IT may have looked less like a sowing of seed than
a casting of some weed into the fire when Frank
Browne, a sadly wild fellow, drained his last can in the
London of 1610, fell asleep full of beautiful thoughts
on a bench close to Ludgate and found, when next
things came clear, that he was ascending a hill, wet
with a fog that beaded his hair, in a light that could
only be dawn, and he with a musket in hand, wonder-
ing what could have sent him soldiering. Had he been
nabbed while he slept? Or was he there of his own
motion, a Maccabee saving his country, urged by some
vision that had visited his bench? It must have been
this second way ; he preferred it ; and there were such
calls; Joan of Arc might have had one, for all that
they said ; a lowly vessel, no doubt, but the hundred or
so that marched with him now looked lowly too ; if such
stones were to head any corners at all it must be
Heaven's, so clearly had this world's builders rejected
them all. The nude has its glories, and clothes that
cohere have theirs: here you saw neither, but a chill
turpitude: mangy cats looked so; for the very fleas,
in their shrinking coverts, the future must have a dis-
quieting air. It was surely a call that had come.
2 THE MORNING'S WAR
What a thing, he mused, dozing again as he tramped
up to Higl-gate, it is for a man to know what is what!
Here was he, Fortune's confidant, feeling with her in
her strange and right choice of tools, in her eye for
effect, her humor; a fool, in his place, might now
have been cracking a fool's jests — " Did powder not
want its food dressed? " and that sort of stuff, whereas
he — this it was to have breathed, though it were but
unstudiously, Oxford's quick air; it gave your mind
eyes. A sense of this great blessing glowed in Frank
like some fire-lit corner, a warm nook to bask in and
dream. Dream he did, till the hardest kick that his
young life had sustained awoke him to see a sergeant
bulging and bluish-red with wrath at a dreamer's mus-
ket dropped in the mud.
A kick may work fast on the generous mind : in an
instant Frank had kicked back. But the mind can
work faster yet on a kick : in less than that instant
Frank's mind running out, still in dream, to the doors
of the body to see who had knocked there so unkindly,
had caught at that unexplained shock and spun it
ligaments of meaning and cause, till, like a play's cli-
max, the crash was led up to; Frank saw it as just
the last term in the series of wise good turns that his
race had done him since he was a boy, the Benjamin of
a big house. He saw how his father had tried to teach
him to carry his wine, as was kind, and had cut him
adrift for carrying more, as was fair enough; and had
put him to no trade — what trade could he sweat at,
with his blood ? — but gave him, instead, as much money
as he could half live upon — for the heir of the house
must live too: Frank quite saw the justice of that —
and how the orifice of the family door in Soho had
long been narrowing to a slit proportioned inversely,
quite justly, to that smell which Frank carried about
him, on these suppliant calls, as of husks that swine
do eat, till at last the door opened, for once, strangely
wide, and a shape that he readily knew now for the
good genius of his father's house crossed the hall —
it neared him — Iwrribilc znsit, it ran — was a running
kick gathering momentum ? He turned in flight ; then
he awoke, having dreamed not wholly untruly.
Not that his friends would have kicked him, before
men. Their hearts would have bled to know that the
world knew that in that nest of nests a bad egg could
be laid. Yet Frank smelt to heaven : into the outer
darkness he had to pack, one way or other, and if in a
fog, it would become him. They did not feel this,
however, just now, being indeed all asleep, and that not
on their feet, like this wicked one, but supine, like the
just. All the tribe, except Frank, had great heads;
they would sit half the night drinking less than ap-
peared with a fuddlesome prince, or enduring the man-
ners of some boor or goose of a great man with places
to give, or refraining from throwing the first or any
subsequent stone at ladies whom kings delighted to
honor; and, these dues to charity paid, they would
sleep their ten hours apiece and look like good babies
till their untroubled gray eyes opened and sought the
sources of loaves and fishes again, as a child's seek
4 THE MORNINGS WAR
A dog may have been whipped pretty tame by its
owner and yet fly at the man who affronts that true
god. Frank had reciprocated the sergeant's kick, not
so much in wrath for himself — long tavern practice had
made him a thought lax as a sentinel of his private
honor — but lest the pure name of his house should
take a stain if even its scapegoat, stumping off into the
desert, accepted a kick gratis from a low man. But
all sergeants do not draw these distinctions; so it was
under arrest that Frank marched on from Highgate to
prosecute his conquests. He grieved at this : he hated
black looks; he classed them with unfilled cans. His
way to be at peace with men was a stream's way with
stones : when his devious flow brought him down on a
large and hard one, he gave, rounded him, and wound
on. By the time they had dipped down from Finchley
to ford the bogged hollow beyond and climb to the
houses capping Barnet Hill, Frank's spirit had broken
already, good-humoredly, to get round this boulder-
From Barnet the posse of scarecrows dropped again
to cross the wide scoop to Ridge Hill, and from Ridge
Hill the abbey church of St. Albans was seen huge on
its opposite height, its straight lines lifting out of the
cumulus clouds of tree-top round it. That was their
day's work, to reach St. Albans. It was a Sunday ;
nearly all day there was a ringing of bells, rising and
falling as each village came to the marchers' feet and
was passed, the peal behind them scarcely tinkling
away into silence before they crossed the rim of the
circle of music shaken out by the belfry that came next.
In his pleasures Frank was no bigot; he took any;
failing good wine, and then bad, he would get drunk
on things heard and seen. He swam luxuriously now
in a sense of Sabbatical, pastoral peace suave to
battered town ears. Bells stopped and a cock crowed ;
he heard it wonderfully far away. It cleared and the
birds burst out together, singing grace after rain, and
the bells went at it again, hill talking to hill about God
— so Frank imaged it; he was a rapturous Christian for
several hours ; peace on earth was the thing, and good-
will to sergeants. As they trailed uphill in the dark
into St. Albans, the two that had kicked at dawn
were made one by exchange of intimate thoughts
on the traits without which ale would scarcely be
Monday would launch them on the ruled, horrible
straightness of the Roman road north-westward, the
brown mud whitening on their boots till they dragged
balled heels out through the high nick in the chalk
sky-line, past Dunstable, and washed the white off in
the Hockley puddles. On Tuesday morning, no doubt,
they would sweat and swear up the long slant to Brick-
hill, still topped to-day by the tiny court of assize that
they saw, and let themselves down to the green floor
wetted or, as books say, drained by the Ouse. And
then the next day, and the next, and the next; one's
vision dims as they go; they recede towards Chester
and Ireland. From live men, of whom one would
always spit on his hand where his musket slipped, and
another at every halt would shift the rag on a raw toe,
they sink into a " force ' : and Frank's self into a
G THE MORNING'S WAR
' type," the common Reuben who, being unstable as
water, and much averse from it, could not excel.
Yet this Reuben was to beget in the West a dynasty
nearer to Levi's in function, and puissant enough in
body to make meetly leonine sons for the lion's whelp,
Judah. In the winter of 1887-8 a boat capsized on
Lough Neagh and one of the two men drowned was
a Father James Browne. They gave him a great
funeral, to vex the Protestants. Eight Brownes, rods
of the house of Frank, walked after the coffin, five of
them priests and all the eight men of a fine bony struc-
ture, like hunting horses, six feet one or two apiece,
and grand leapers and swimmers in youth, like the one
now drowned, who had swum half a mile towards
shore in his clothes, towing the boat by the painter,
keel upwards, with two boatmen praying and wailing
astride it, until the cold cramped the stout Father's
muscles up into knots and he sank in the act of absolv-
ing the men horsed on the keel.
The eight sat up a long time that night, gabbing
family history: even priests will, at a birth or funeral.
One of the clan had been all but made head of May-
nooth ; that was a great thing. The grayest was made
to retell how his father had told him in 1830 the way
that his father was carried home dying in 1798 with
his entrails exposed where the English had flogged him
upon the abdomen. The others listened as Christians,
about the year 100, might hear from an aged witness
how Christ's eyes had turned this way and that on the
Cross. And then the family manfully faced the black
fact of " souper " Browne that went thrice to the
Protestant church in the old Penal days, to save the
rich land that he had.
" x\h, then, if the souper were all," broke out Father
John, a child of impulse ; but even he checked at the
look he got from the rest. Grief behind grief, shame
beyond shame — if you probe far enough, in the
very best houses you may attain the unmention-
Patrick, the big grazier from Banaghan, plunged,
for escape, into talk of a great hope he had that the
family name might not be Browne at all, nor anything
English, but Brian itself. If one man would set foot
in a Protestant church to keep a hold of his land, what
would prevent another from stripping the very name
off his own back, or putting an English look on it, to
keep the life in him, God help him?
The seven strained hard to believe. No use ; a
savage honesty, that would have been looked on and let
whole civilizations founder for want of a lie, compelled
them. What hope could there be? For more than
two hundred and sixty years there had been tenant
Brownes on the books of Lord Dunster, beyond. And
there was the tough old tradition of that English
trooper ancestor; even his ring was here, on Father
Horace's hand ; broad gold with an oval engraved gem,
Greco-Roman, some Renaissance find, it had worn
thinner now on eight generations of little fingers, the
only finger an Irish Browne could put into it — thinner,
and yet, as evidence, it was still gross. They handed it
round. Father Horace translated the words inscribed
inside the gold band : —
8 THE MORNINGS WAR
" Francisco Browne, d.d. W.S. Londin. MDCVII."
Shakespeare himself might have given the thing to
a young Oxford wit, or enjoyer of wit, wild for the
They considered the letters. " London " — that was
deadly. " Ach, they're cut to the depth of a ditch,"
Patrick said gloomily, handing it back to the head of
the family. Wear it another hundred years and per-
haps — The head of the family rubbed it round ab-
sently on his finger.
They sought comfort from figures. The Frank of
the ring was said to have married some decent woman ;
their child would be half-Irish. That child's child, if
again there were no misalliance, would be Irish three
parts out of four ; its child, again, would have only one-
eighth of it English; the next, one-sixteenth. They
themselves would be Irish at least to the length of a
hundred and twenty-seven to one. Not a doubt, that
was why Father John, the first time that ever he spoke
the Gaelic, had felt that his tongue had not been a fit
for his mouth till that day.
Part of their bodies' history stared out of them. All
that was clay was glorious ; muscles modeled in potent
thongs that clenched and gave, gave and clenched,
musingly flicking under clear skins on which the red
lived and flitted; full eyes, bright and wild like a
caught animal's; heads not stuck on stumps of thick
poles, but lifted on swayed stems with the look that
some flowers have of reaching up at the sun, with a pull
on their moorings to earth. They walked like the
creatures of unjaded gait — blood horses, greyhounds,
red deer and some athletes when young — in whom each
step seems to be an inquisitive and shy caress offered
to the ground, as if the feel of the earth, its mass and
springiness, were a fresh marvel still.
The clay told of the pit from which it was dug.
Earth-loving earth, you might figure them crumbling
clods, from farms of their own, in affectionate hands,
alone with the tilth and the straining life in themselves
and the cutting leash of their Irish chastity. Some
tricks of look might have been caught from fathers
on whom the lines that old age found waiting for it to
fix had been drawn and redrawn as they peered with
half -closed eyes through the fog that ascends from
steaming and slipping droves, or along the last furrow
at twilight, or watched from under the drip of their
eaves the day-long beat, beat of rain that lodged the
year's oats or rotted the year's potatoes, their hearts
still somberly filial to the soil that their minds cried out
on : the niggard, the harridan, what did she do for a
So these eight felt, like their fathers; and after a
while, if you heard them talk, you might see what it
was that kept this bitter and disenchanted affection
short of despair and disablement. They were all
priests in a way ; more so than most priests ; they had
cowls in their dispositions ; they felt, with the positive-
ness of bodily sense, that to live was only to stand
awhile in a lobby, with everything, that men could have
come for, waiting beyond the next door. Gymnasts
will pass from one swinging trapeze to another, high
10 THE MORNING'S WAR
in the air : so these Brownes seemed to have let go the
common human idea — yours and mine, whatever we
say — of life as a whole and round thing, to be lived out
with a will; they had clutched at the thought of it all as
no more than a blank hour's wait in the cold for a dawn.
The new grip had swung them away from the old,
through naked space, and now they felt safe while the
grip held, but still redoubtably committed ; it gone, they
could see their way out of their minds. Black, beyond
soupers, would any one be who loosened another's
grasp; the mind had to search far for the likeness of
that last baseness. Rats that the Dutch hunt to death
lest they bore the hole that may flood a province?
No. Rats are innocents; they do not know. Say,
rather, a guard put in charge of a dike, who opens the
sluices by night to drown out country and friends.
THE MORNING'S WAR
" But they — their day and night are one.
What is't to them that rivulets run,
Or what concern of theirs the sun?
It seems as though
Their business with these things were done
INTO the lustrous peace that had hushed, one still
afternoon in September, the westward-turned ter-
race of Roc-a-Voir Inn, high on a sunned alp of the
Valais, there broke, as a boy's stone fractures the
pensive and unaware glass of a pond, the news that
some one was certainly coining uphill — might indeed
reach the inn in two hours. A waiter's eye, sleepily
roaming the landscape, had sighted a speck, one that
moved. Like a black fly it traversed a bleached shoot
of stones, three thousand feet under the terrace. A
speck, or two specks? Running in for the glass he
made sure. One speck, strictly speaking: one mon-
sieur only ; the other, simply a guide.
The waiter awoke the bureau; for there, too, in-
visible poppies were seeding. The faint buzz-uzz-uzz
of the voice of the landlady, totting up columns of
12 THE MORNING'S WAR
francs in her bower, had thinned down to stillness;
will failed her, the strong bee invaded by autumn, even
to index the dying year's honey ; she leant back, her
eyes slowly filming ; dozing, she mused on those other
dozers, four of them, out on the terrace, her summer's
lingering roses — the last, she half hoped, if the hope
were not sin ; were they gone, bees could sleep and not
dream of missed provender. Roused by the waiter she
mastered a sigh and heard him out benignly. Her
equity valued his dutiful soul. At eight thousand feet
any news is a thrill that should be in the gift of a land-
lady, no one less. He had done well ; he had not, while
she slept, usurped the prerogative. Issuing forth she
imparted the glass to the terrace. " Pardon ! A gen-
tleman — mounting — now, at the end of the season. It
is a resolute. He will be English."
So Madame tactfully said; for our own was the
speech that had drowsed, for some ten minutes past, on
the lips of the four semi-recumbents whose four iron
chairs, stilled for that space, now resumed their life's
task of scrunching the neatly-raked miniature desert of
round pebbles in which they stood. For the inn,
though high, was not rude; had it been so, it would
have been empty to-day; far from it, the legs of terrace
chairs waded here in pebbles as round, loose and dry
as any that crepitate under the planes of the first hotels
of Lausanne. The resumptive sound of scrunching
was loudest, as the recess had achieved deepest silence,
under the person of Gabriel Newman, a pink and
pleased man of about twenty-three, with thinning blond
hair plastered tight, in the fashion, and damply gloving
THE MORNING'S WAR 13
the skull, and with scarcely more lines or puffs as yet
on his forehead and cheeks than if he had lived well.
What with the gentle bend of the chin, the softly aqui-
line nose, the smoothly-filled cheeks and the bulge of the
eyes, and the curvilinear lines of the smile with which
he always talked, his shaven face might strike you
as just a little too rich a system of convexities, much as
Michelangelo's luxuriant " Drunken Bacchus " might
afflict a trainer. But any grazier would say that man
or beast could not have looked more evenly fed. One
thing this goodly frame wanted — a left leg; it used one
of wood, or else the faith fullest image that Nature
could carve, in her own flesh and bone, of that work of
man. No one knew which, nor had Newman been
known to admit, by so much as a wince or an oath —
though he had the latter within easy call — that he
walked with some pain on two sticks which were all
but crutches, still less that he ever had to halt when
minded to walk in the ways of his heart and in the
sight of his eyes.
This sovereign spirit had drooped for some instants :
a crossing shadow had chilled it. How unripe a
knowledge, how stumbling a reason, how shallow a
flow of conjecture did this Yankee paper from Paris,
that now sprawled despised on his knees, address to the
Autumn Handicaps, soon to stir England ! Newman
had mourned for his kind, that it should not do better.
Then Nature, good to her infants, had filled him that
bath of rose-tinted warmth from the west, and his eyes
had closed to be soothed by it, some unspent virtue of
luncheon assisting. Newman snored and care left
14 THE MORNING'S WAR
him. Guy Hathersage, basking more containedly beside
him, lifted one eyelid, as sleeping cats do at a sound,
and smiled to himself as the mouth of his friend fell
a-gape and the newspaper slipped to the ground from
his friend's slackening fingers. Simple system of or-
gans, Gabriel !
Guy let fall the eyelid and mused on that system.
To Guy it had charmless piquancy. Many things had,
and most people. If nothing excited him, plenty of
things made him slightly curious about them at first.
An olive-skinned slip of a man, full of grace, a swayed
osier to look at, Guy was bodily young for his twenty-
two years. His pretty brown eyes had, when he talked,
the quick, shy shift of a boy's when they will not be
still lest you catch the wild soul in them. Guy's mind,
however, was aged; friendlily, equably aged. Semi-
amused almost always, hardly ever delighted, from
people he looked for no thrill — only some neat, new
patness of proof that no miracles come to vary the
working, and ceasing to work, of the known springs
and checks in a shopful of watches of many shapes —
yet not so very many, and none novel, and most of
Thirty yards off — the younger men had been smok-
ing, and manners survived in the Hathersage family —
Guy's sister sat by their father, a sixty-year man with
a trim beard, not carved, but compendious by nature,
and now hemmed with gray, and so perfectly brushed
that you seemed to have seen no brushed beard before;
a man so well bred that each feature showed like a sign
in some new code specially made for the quick and safe
THE MORNING'S WAR 15
conveyance of fragile perceptions and courtesies;
round, opened eyes like a wren's, bright in an instant
with delicate ventures and fears; lips modeled as if
to shape ironies gently or soften a tone in mercy to
June, the girl of nineteen, had Guy's good looks,
or more; but not, you would say, his tireless good-
humor. At present she eyed with settled disfavor,
through almost closed lids, some three of the ten noblest
snow peaks in Europe. They stood up, beyond the
now blackening trench of the valley below, paraded like
Graces before this youthful she-Paris, and she found
them wanting, like some other things in the past month
of travel, her father's and hers. Venice and Paris,
Florence and Fiesole, Rimini, Vallombrosa, Ancona,
all were reviewed and rebuked. Paris was dust and
white faces and leaves early dead, and dresses tried on
— memory shuddered at thought of all that trying-on;
and then all that time in the train ; the waking in the
sleeping-car to see an old Frenchwoman, risen at grisly
dawn, remake her face of bluish white against the new
day; and what a day! — of perpetual pattering rain,
gazed upon numbly through streaming or misted panes
during long, nauseous dining-car meals that paused
much in their middles, but little between each one and
the next. And, all the way south from Lugano,
churches, galleries; galleries, churches, and always —
she hated herself for remembering — the voice of her
father, seemlily modulous, weaving its webs of picked,
relevant comment between her and so many things
which — she dimly suspected — had little to do with the
16 THE MORNING'S WAR
world he walked in, a world of culture fallen rather
a-weary, half-understanding everything, placing every-
thing, summoning up at the instance of every new
thing, or thing newly seen, its appropriate mood of
semi-emotion, as settled by balance of expert authority.
Webs of blown rain between her and the St. Gotthard
snows; webs of pertinent, passionless words between
her and Bellini's tranced sense of the wonder of
motherhood ; curtains of ordered, raptureless reverence
hung between her and that " Crucifixion " at Rome
just when it seemed as if — one instant more and she
might have held and made hers the strange, poignant
delight of knowing, really knowing, as one knows one's
headaches, what Christ had borne; everywhere wisps
of one cobwebby lawn or another drawn between some-
thing in her that desired to put itself forth and attain
completeness and something outside her that must,
surely, answer to this, some new visibleness awaiting a
quickened sight, like the many stars that must be
shining only just out of reach of one's eyes. She came
out of reverie frowning, to take Madame's offered
field-glass without curiosity.
" Far down, mademoiselle. Now ! Now ! — they
Two miles downhill a spot of black crossed swiftly
the whitewashed wall of a tiny wayside chapel.
" There ! There ! " Madame fretted lest June
miss the thrill. " Where the path runs out from un-
der the pines."
"Yes, yes; one has eyes." And then June, with
the glass at her eyes, bit her lip, vexed at her petulance.
THE MORNINGS WAR 17
Three days before she had prayed in that very chapel,
a little dourly, that she might be better-tempered.
Already the fleeting stain was off the white wall.
" How they run ! " she said to her father. How little
she cared if they flew.
"Two Oreads?' murmured the elder. 'Swift
as a horse up a steep hill.' He had always at call
some one else's apt word. When brought up against
a new thing he would act like a yachtsman touching a
pier, swinging out fenders wherever his paint might be
scraped against some reality's rude balks of timber.
Letters and art — to change the figure — this sensitive
soul had learned to spread like a gelatine film over all
its naked, soft surface, lest life, the neat strength of the
acid, bite through and engrave. ' Is it he that should
come? " he asked June.
"Father Power? No. He comes to-morrow.
Didn't I tell you the day? "
" Doubtless, my dear. You printed on dust — my
June could almost have shrieked at that mild, let-
tered playfulness. Then, at a thought of her own,
crossness collapsed in contrition. " Oh, father, it's I
that forget. I was to have ordered his room, and I've
not told Madame he is coming. Madame ! '
' Mademoiselle ? ' : The landlady listened. A friend
of her guest's, a cure from Ireland — " Catholic, Ma-
dame, like you too, and us " — was going to Rome, a
pilgrim ; he would be passing by train to-morrow,
down there in the valley, and wished to break the
journey. Could Madame receive him?
18 THE MORNING'S WAR
' But yes." Madame's gesture embraced in its
scope the two walkers now breasting the steep, and this
later clerical advent. ' It recommences, the season."
June had handed the glass to her father, whose
courtesy used it, not his desire. Two thousand eight
hundred feet lower the sun, as Mr. Hathersage looked,
caught the sweat on the guide's dripping face and on
a chest bared to get air. They shone ; they might have
been vizor and breastplate in Paradise. " Ah ! " said
the sensitive gentleman. Softly he shuffled across, to
leave the glass with Newman, and went indoors to read
Pascal in coolness.
" And deliver us from our daily bread."
IT was not in Newman to be surprised visibly. To
animate narratives, later, he might say that this or
that imbecility of a friend's had amazed him; but no
one, he justly boasted, had ever seen him knocked all of
a heap, like some poor lambs, by any impact of circum-
stance. So, when he had taken a long stare through
the glass and, putting it down, said " Gorlummy ! " it
was as a virtuoso in popular speech that he said it,
and not as one from whom the orison was really torn
by the shock of an idea's entry on the spirit.
Guy breathed a lazy " Amen."
" Know one Browne at Oxford? " asked Newman.
"Didyer? One Browne?"
" Yes. Year junior to me."
" I don't know about ' know.' I've met him, per-
" You'll meet him again. He's that Derby winner
that's belting uphill."
Guy took the glass, without ardor, and looked.
" The more shining face, or the less? "
" The unsweatiest. How's he to sweat, with the life
he led? Now, do you know" — Newman gathered
20 THE MORNING'S WAR
impressiveness — " that man would come into Pole's
rooms at Auriol dead sober — you see, you were always
supposed to be blind in Pole's rooms — and there he'd
be, making a fool of himself, sitting up in a chair,
among all of us."
' No. Just looking on. No, he isn't a pi man,
exactly. I do say that for him. A pi man I knew
took him on — about his soul, that sort of lay; found
he didn't believe a Jack thing. And yet, do you
know " — again Newman's manner grew graver — " I've
seen that man reading away at the Bible as if it were
some other book — as if he liked it."
; ' Ah? ' Guy encouraged the vein. It was sport to
see Newman, in sketching this newcomer, sketch him-
'* Caught him at it in bed," pursued Newman, " one
night I got lost. I was crossing the quad, time of
night when a path gets as broad as it's long. I fell
into his rooms and there he was, at it. I thought he
must be ill or something. 'What's wrong?' I said.
' Going to be hanged in the morning? ' I said, just to
cheer him. He let a yell. ' Wrong! I should think
not ! The man who wrote " Job " was all right. Lis-
ten, about all these beasts ! ' And off he went, spout-
ing whole chunks. It might have been the evening
" I give you the thanks of the Press."
" Press ? What ? Oh, I forgot that you own a rag
Three-sixteenths only — the merest shred of a —
THE MORNING'S WAR 21
must we say? — rag. So far has the will of a great-
aunt involved me. Don't stop. What did you say
when Browne — "
" Say? I bolted for my stable. Didn't seem right,
somehow, having a good time like that with the Bible.
Very next night I met Chadd — it was under Blunt's
table, I think ; anyhow, things had run a bit clear in
my head and I told him. It troubled Chadd fearfully.
' Why, for a skeptic to do it,' said Chadd, ' it's like
drawing a check on a bank you've no money at.'
Chadd cried to think of it. You see, although he could
take his drink like other people, Chadd was a serious
man, really — plowed in divinity, that sort of thing,
and a curate by now. ' Think of the sinfulness ' —
that's what he said — ' sheer false pretenses, like saying
' Gorblimey ! ' although you're an infidel." Well,
there's a good lot in that. Whajja think? '
' I was thinking," Guy said, with an air of innocent
dreaminess, " that I remembered Browne well. He
used to speak sweetly of you."
'Eh? What?' Newman pricked up disquieted
' He said, ' I just like the very notion of Newman '
— Browne was staring across through the smoke at
you; ' I like that honest hatred he has of learning and
poverty. He's such a spess ! ' Browne doated upon
you, like a collector. He told me a charming story;
he'd brought to your rooms some pundit who'd won
half the 'Varsity prizes, and you had said afterwards,
' One or two blighters like that were enough to ruin
a whole college.' "
22 THE MORNING'S WAR
" Well, what would you say, with that sort of owl
coming flapping round, when you had some hopes of
the freshers? "
' I should bleed for you. Browne, no doubt, did ;
or — " Guy dangled the unuttered words like a cast
of dry flies.
" Well ? " Newman rose to them.
" You know his trade? "
" Lord, no ! "
" Proud man! I do. I'm half in it."
"Mean he's a blooming reporter?"
" Novelist, journalist, dramatist — all the same thing,
you know; workers in fiction. You've read his
" Not heard of it."
' Yet the world does — and of a play that's just com-
ing. And now do you guess? "
" That at Pole's you were — possibly — sitting?"
" D'you mean he'd have the wickedness to — ? '
" These artists do use the model, you know."
Like a child, that without wilful cruelty tickles a
worm with a leaf, Guy fretted his friend. Newman
was only a book, the one nearest to hand, the library's
latest futility, sent to amuse if it could. Guy gave it
its chance, hoping little ; he languidly turned the pages ;
he opened the stout, vulgar soul at new chapters, its
boasts and pluck and lusts and tremors. Any paper-
knife served; Browne, this orient author, as well as
another. Guy really remembered Browne now — their
few meetings at Oxford, and then a slight gap while
THE MORNING'S WAR 23
Browne was obscure, and then how Guy had thought
they really must have Browne to dinner ; they always
had rising authors to dinner, on the off-chance that
they might be amusing. Blabbing to Newman what
Browne had said of him might not have been very nice,
now that Guy came to think of it. Still, if it made
any trouble, he would not have meant the trouble ; in-
deed, he would wish quite sincerely that harm had not
come, and would stand off a little and eye himself with
mild wonder and ask, without harshness, what could
have made him do it.
All the harshness the family had of that kind was
lodged in his sister, a true hanging judge of herself
when the mood was on her. Vexed that she had for-
gotten that room — she who had specially asked Father
Power to come — she was going assize at this moment,
hounding to judgment each poor little lapse from grace,
or from graciousness, during their month's stern chase
of civilized pleasure. How she had murmured! "Oh,
I am vexed! v " I've been so disappointed! ' " I've
had such a horrible time!" — one of these forms or
another seemed to have opened all her talks with her
father. " You feel relief now that it's fresher? " the
poor man had timidly asked, one moon-lit night, at the
end of a querulous day in the sunshine near Venice,
when ripples of water and ripples of music, indistin-
guishable in their rhythmic coolness, were lapping under
their gondola. June's answering snap — " I might, if
this frock didn't hurt me so under the arms " — came
back now to plague its inventor. Then that day of
shame at Perugia! Seeing her gaze from the hill,
24 THE MORNING'S WAR
out over blue Umbria, he had asked friendlily, nerv-
ously, what she was thinking, and she had brutally
dashed his hopes of fit local emotions with " I was just
wondering when my head means to stop aching." And
oh, the first morning at Florence ! — the start to walk
down from Fiesole, where they had stayed; how, as
they set out, his mind was happily fingering Dante and
Pater and Ruskin and Browning, and all the kind in-
terveners between its soft tissues and stark Middle
Ages or unbated Tuscany, until, scarcely over the
threshold, June had banished content with the desperate
saying: "I promise myself no pleasure at all from
this walk, the wind blows my hat so." That clay was
the nadir. On entering the windless Uffizi her father
had ventured tremblingly, " Now I hope you'll feel
better," and she had snarled, " Yes, so do I, I am
sure "; and at dinner had said, as she viciously shook
her napkin out, " This evening meal is one of the worst
plagues of the day " — a devil's grace. Grace after
meat too : her father had offered to read Michelangelo's
sonnets, out on the Fiesole terrace, the Val d'Arno
spread out below them in deepening purple and crim-
son, and she had said darkly : " It might help to make
us to forget what we've eaten." The thought of each
slip into some base sourness, and of his uncontrollable
wince, or taxed courtesy, pierced her with rusty skew-
ers. And yet, was she wrong? Wrong to wound
him, of course; why should he bear the sins of the
world ? But to find Europe dusty, dust underfoot and
a dust-filled air? — what else was it? Paris was dust
and white faces and — so the old wheels of bafflement,
THE MORNING'S WAR 25
rage, self-pity, self -censure, each turning the next with
its cogs, ground oillessly round in her mind.
Guy roused her. " I bring you a marvel," he said,
but his tone said that marvels were all an old fable.
The man coming up, he told her, was an acquaintance.
She looked up, incurious. " The marvel would be
if he weren't. Wasn't the man we ran down on
Lugano — the swimmer — your first fag at Harrow?
Or was that the godson of some one papa knew in
Parliament? Why, the beggar we found at Torcello
had cleaned boots at Rome, at the Embassy, when
Uncle Conrad was there."
" My poor sister, you touch on a fatal truth. One
friendly soul like papa can run through a whole fam-
ily's fortune of newness in people it meets. Papa
leaves us no lands undiscovered. We run our frail
shallops ashore, you and I, on some stranger — we hope
so, at least ; we leap from the bows ; all ardent, we run
up appropriate flags; tiptoe, we peer through the jun-
gle. And lo ! in the first clearing, embers ! Remains
of a bamboo erection, signs of a garden, of civiliza-
tion. Despair! — it is one of papa's disused resi-
dencies! Yet let me be just. It is not papa, it is
Newman, nay, it is I, who have met yonder climber."
" Climber? ' Climber or walker, little she cared.
She was girding within at Guy's irony. Why should
it play round their father's dear head? But had not
her own murmur started it? So the old wheels of
complaint and compunction jarred on while Guy spoke.
" So reason tells me. Thus : he that comes has a
guide. But no one takes guides to come here and no
26 THE MORNING'S WAR
further. What follows? They climb in the morn-
ing one of these evil eminences?"
He drew her eyes round to the snows of three tall
peaks to the south-east, behind and above the inn, and
now flushing to warmth in the first red of sunset. Up
there, for an eye that had its health, all was dressed
in illusion, to wear for an hour at most ; frost would
then model dead whiteness in iron where now the high
snowfields were soft laps edged with pink, restful to
lie in, it seemed ; sunny ledges and terraces, hoisted and
tilted for basking upon ; and all like some place happily
dreamt of, aglow with a visionary glamour; made, too,
like things in good dreams, without hardness of struc-
ture; fold yielded to fold, stair swelled convex or wave-
like to pass into stair; only, at the southernmost
peak's north-eastern corner — the Dent Rouge Guy told
her the peak was — there ran up a steep sky-line, a
framing ridge with its dark rocks half bare, a slanting
line of black dots like a route pricked out on a map,
with the fields of rose-tinted snow below it, and fields
of sun-searched blue air above. It looked as if it
must lead to some world's wonder. So, at least, June
dimly felt, not having the single eye's vision, and yet
having a blurred sense that it could be had, did one
know whither to strive.
Guy prattled on about Browne — " one of those
dragons of energy, enemies to peace " — how he would
drag three reluctants from bed on a midsummer Sun-
day at hours unthought of, mythical, before Oxford's
earliest bell, to scull and tow upstream right through
the sun's working day, unwinding strange coils of the
THE MORNING'S WAR 27
Isis among distant meads. " He says ' Come ' and one
cometh. I went myself once, I with my large use for
sleep, to maintain my amenity. How the man diva-
gates ! ' Guy was looking down through the glass.
The two moving spots on the side of the mountain, still
a long mile from the inn, would part for a while and
rejoin; the track of the one drew with a plodding pen-
cil the easiest upward route; the other drew loops on
each side of that line; it would turn aside, visit boul-
ders and gullies, or loiter at white broken water, and
then, coming back straight and fast, move again for a
while, by the side of the slow, even goer. ' Convince
yourself " — Guy gave his sister the glass — " that it is
not a lady exercising a dog."
' Is there a wind," she asked, looking, ' down
there? Here the air's fainting."
Guy looked. From the excursive figure's left hand,
hanging close to its side, a handkerchief, held by one
corner, streamed out horizontal behind him, like a
blown pennon. Guy took other evidence. " Not a
pine stirring. The breeze is his make. The wind
of his haste."
' Winds are to the tempestuous," their father said
softly, remelting into their company. Sunset was
come, and sunsets had their dues ; their place in Turner
was safe; they were in poetry's peerage; like saints
they were calendared ; no rude, startled act of adora-
tion was meet, but a liturgy, something apt from sensi-
bility's rubric, a collect fitted to hour and place, the
right choice among art's canonical forms of vespers.
" And now the sun had stretched out all the hills " —
28 THE MORNING'S WAR
he crooned it over twice, watching the black spike of
shade thrown down on the snow by each western peak ;
swiftly each shadow lengthened, its tip marching
down the far side of the valley, then lost for a time
in the valley's black bottom, then sighted again, rush-
ing up the slope on this side, past where they stood,
to the west-facing snows overhead. Higher and
higher up the rosy radiance was driven before these
invaders ; its rosiness seemed to be penned in and deep-
ened as space for it failed, as if the same portion of
dye were suffusing a lessening ground.
"And over piney tracts of Vaud
The rose of eve steals up the snow,"
the man of culture was murmuring, half-absently fin-
gering the words, like beads on a rosary.
Night involved the two travelers below. Far down
the mountain a spark struck itself, as it seemed, strug-
gled and blinked for a moment, then steadied itself
and burned on, a pin-prick of light in the wide pit
of blackness. They watched from the terrace for two
or three minutes, silent, till Guy's eye met June's.
Each saw that the other was waiting — Guy lazily
tickled and June in torment — until there should come
from their father the lines about lated travelers hasting
— what was it? — to gain timely inns.
" It's chilly. Do let us go in," she burst out, with
a shiver that was of the mind mainly. Her father
returned to Pascal with a lingering, discomforting
sense of dues not exhaustively paid. Guy agreed,
without hope of joy, to learn euchre from Newman.
THE MORNING'S WAR 20
June went to her room to write letters; doing that, she
could sometimes attain plumbless depths of absorption.
She wrote by her window; she wondered at first what
it meant, and how long she had sat, when she saw
shafts of lantern-light dashed this way and that on
the gravel outside and heard casual words in a voice
that seemed fresh as the plash of a laugh in the dark
from a boat coming home.
" Murmur of living,
Stir of existence,
Soul of the world ! "
E had all been fairly original works of crea-
tion," Guy wrote to a friend late that evening,
" all during the soup and up to halfway through the
fish (conceive it! They hoist fish up hither:
despiciunt montem pisccs — guess how my father
abounded!), and then the man Browne came in,
and lo! we were faded old replicas, prints from the
third state, and not good impressions at that, for here
was the real proof etching, all edge and luster, sham-
ing us. He goes about, liking things insanely ; pitches
himself like an infant at what amuses him. I can see
him yelling ' Bags I ! ' and annexing the Forum or
pouching the Vatican. Yet is he modest ; he bounds
not. June and my father, poor Newman and I, all sat
and blinked while he spilt out, as well as shyness would
let him, his cornucopious gains of travel — a prize-fight,
some new and more earth-shaking Rodin at Paris, the
way they act Ibsen at Munich, the way they make cider
near Caen — he gets drunk on the difference between it
and how they make cider in Devonshire. Quite a
sound type, you know, only a little cyclonic for us quiet
people. To-morrow, at earliest cock-crow, or sooner,
THE MORNING'S WAR 31
he whirls me up some sky-impaling mountain behind
the premises. In very truth, sir, I had as lief be
hanged, sir, as go, but June has an impulse to rush out
and do something violent ; also, the deuce knows why,
one feels that one would be out of the proper main
stream if one stayed — the same notion, no doubt, that
makes the dust follow motors. I had it, that Sunday
he tore you and me from our beds, our altars, our
simple, devout student life, to toil up the river all
That day on the Oxford river had come up at din-
ner — an obvious topic for people with few common
memories. Guv had begun it. Did Browne still se-
duce the devout — " ' little ones which believe,' like
me" — from prayers on Sundays? Or had he learnt
better? Had he ordered his millstone?
June shivered. Guy's jets of chaff could not hurt
those they were aimed at; his spirit had no drop of
vitriol in its aspersions; but why not take care what
he splashed by the way? In churches in Italy June
had not cared to see children gambol with dogs on the
steps of altars. It was uncivil.
Browne's eye caught her overstrained frown at the
venial ribaldry. He was surprised, and in that sur-
prise came the first clear impression he had of her,
body and mind — a Flora sitting in judgment, Hebe
turned Grand Inquisitor, a Rhadamanthine rose.
" The sin would have been not to go," Browne re-
plied, and unintendingly made Mr. Hathersage easy;
it gave him a cue; he could turn from Browne's and
Guy's to another going-a-Maying, more classic:
32 THE MORNING'S WAR
" ' Nay! not so much as out of bed?
When all the birds have matins said,
And sung their thankful prayers: Tis sin,
Nay, profanation to keep in.' "
He hummed the words lingeringly; so a bee hums
and hovers before folding wings on the one flower
that she was looking for.
Browne sucked in the sound of the lines ; they were
new to him. " That was just it, sir," he said. The
lines seemed to work on him; he set off eagerly, bun-
glingly, trying to tell how he had waked that day
early, to streets shining and silent, the first shadows
reaching to all lengths about them, in unfamiliar direc-
tions. His talk had no gloss or run, like a Hather-
sage's; more like the babbling of some one still in a
marvel's presence, interjecting broken surprise and
It was crude ; it was like some undressing begun
in public ; it might go to all lengths. June felt her
face tingle with shame, as one does, in one's safety, for
some rash taker of foolish odds. Oh, to have this
man away and to make Guy tell her it all. For Guy
had been there ; how Guy must have kindled ! Guy
had felt that auroral freshness and wonder ; only some
overflow from secret raptures of Guy's could have
animated this alien.
Guy, seeing some one begin to abound in a vein,
drew him on. They strung reminiscences — Godstow
at eight in the morning, mists on the move, the mead-
ows still littered with diamonds; and breakfast there,
on pink trout, by the door of the inn.
THE MORNING'S WAR 33
" We as pink as the trout," put in Guy, " from that
swim at the weir. My teeth chatter to think of it."
June looked at Guy still; she was glad of his lithe-
ness and full eyes, their mild brown enisled in clear
bluish white; no teeth were so white as his, either;
she saw his lips set for the dive, and how they would
rise laughing after it, out of the lasher's race. And
Guy could dissemble that ecstasy ! ' Then, above
Godstow? " she asked. " Do go on," she added impa-
" Oh. you tow miles and miles," Browne went on,
" with your head among the larks and your naked toes
feeling cowslips." He fumbled for some word, then
stumbled along. " The grass is in varnish — you know
the look ? Deep grass — the trees wade in it deeper
Many bathes, jocund meals, pipes in Elysium — the
girl grew aware of them, found them all good, of a
goodness not physical only, but poignant with some
fleeting and flower-like grace of young delight.
Lamely Browne told the day out — how the evening
was happy years long; " the sun found the right place
in the sky, and stayed there "; then home in the warm
dark, at rest on the rhythm of the oars. June held
her breath, fearing for Guy, lest some stupid man in
the boat — this Mr. Browne, perhaps — should speak
and drown the note of one drip from a blade on the
feather ; each note fell round and cool and lay whole
like a pearl on the cushion of silent night.
The talk, when June took it in next, was of pictures
— or books, was it? — talk, on her father's and
34. THE MORNINGS WAR
brother's side, modern, equipped, lightly glancing;
only, not eager. They mooned in the van of all the arts,
rode at will with the head of each column and pitied
its hopes and were kind to its middlingness; nothing
was left remarkable under their visiting eyes; and yet
they kept on, they marched over the waste, urged by
some habit of well-bred forbearance blent with some
unspent instinct of caste captaincy. And they had
solaces, privacies, tiny reserves of less deep disap-
pointment with somebody's work, here and there, that
had not been smirched with a fame too vulgar ; failing
others, you had Leopardi to read; Shakespeare, al-
though he wrote much else, had written the better of
the Sonnets; and there were the pictures of Maris,
" the Maris that counts," the right one of the three.
Browne had waved an audacious flag and w r as now
looking shamefaced, as youth does when wisdom re-
ceives its flags and clarion blasts with bland lassitude.
June, with a twinge of compassion for culture so half-
baked, had heard him throw out the raw notion that
now was the time to be living in : painting, sculpture,
the novel, the play — in every garden the roses, the
perfected roses, the pick, were, perhaps, only just
bursting; the day of days might be at hand and we,
the lucky men in the lottery, lucky beyond Pericleans,
Augustans, Elizabethans, we might have drawn the
great hour of all — high noon, high tide, high midsum-
mer. He tumbled it out like that, garishly. So there
followed a pause soft and deep, a bed of feathers and
sand held out for the arrow, so witlessly loosed, to
sink into harmlessly.
THE MORNING'S WAR 35
June felt with her kindred ; but also she now saw
their mood as if from without. It was like a dispirited
god's, sad-eyed and clement, bearing with mankind
after a Fall ; the world was like some storied place
whose story was forfeited ; it was to them a Stratford
that Shakespeare had never been near; a Westminster
Abbey detected as modern and, if you looked into it,
smart in design, nothing more. Essentiality was
gone. The trees had no hamadryads, poor things.
In mercy to Browne's raw gawkishness Guy led the
way round to themes that might — it was to be hoped —
let a mountaineer shine, if to shine were in him. Mr.
Hathersage helped ; he cited distinguished eulogists of
the open air, the life in the sun, of " enduring hard-
ness," a fashion raging just then among imitant minds.
Had Browne read Nature's last confidant? Some one
was named who had railed or pouted readably at roofs
and the tablecloth. Browne seemed to be at a loss.
" The man with a style," Guy explained, ' and a
cough, who was out two whole nights — you remem-
ber? He drove his pyjamas, piled on an ass, from a
sleeping-place under a bank of wild roses to one to
leeward of a clump of honeysuckles. You smile?
You alarm me. Is it not all moral beauty, as well as
Browne laughed. " When I was a boy, and slept
out, up the river, it used to be shirking one's tooth-
" ' Now I know,' ' Mr. Hathersage crooned, having
found what he sought, " ' the secret of the making of
the best people. It is to live in the open air and to eat
36 THE MORNING'S WAR
and sleep with the earth." He fancied he thought
so, but few men would more surely and swiftly come
in when it rained.
Browne launched off again, with his usual effort at
starting. ' It's very nice of the bards and sages, sir;
only mayn't they change hares next moment and go
whooping off on some other line — perhaps saying, this
time, that the true virile game is to stand up to soot
and germs in East Ends and Black Countries and — ?
Why — " Not alone that which goeth into the
mouth intoxicateth a man. Browne looked round the
table exaltedly, caught at the first eye that he lit on,
which chanced to be Newman's, and rushed ahead :
' Why, Newman, haven't there been in our time three
immense revolutions in collars, and — ? "
He meant no harm. For all that he noticed, New-
man might have been wearing no collar at all. But he
was. And in these matters of fashion Newman not
only followed the chase, but would sometimes ride
over the hounds; even now he was wearing a collar
that might in three months be a stroke of conformity
more consummately timed than to-day. So his heart
told him ; and, having insolences of his own to let off
on occasion, he thought he spied one in this unwitting
Mr. Hathersage saw how the coltish ears had flicked
back; he hurried to make a diversion with more book-
ish stuff about life far from books. Why not "go
back to Nature "? — that was the gist of it.
Browne, flushed and with eyes alight, caught the
thrown ball. "Back, sir? How far, though? To
THE MORNINGS WAR 37
tents and no meat from the butcher? Why stop at
that? Why not beech-mast and acorns?'
" Go the whole hog, as they say? " Mr. Hathersage
" Oh, doesn't our elderly friend, or aunt, Common
Sense — ?" Guy murmured, to lubricate speech in
Browne turned to Guy, joyously free ; one could not
quite rally the graybeard. " Common Sense comes
me cranking in? — yes. And then we bolt back to our
dear old complexities? Last month a little book
came out; I got it; a kind of tramp's manual; amateur
tramp, of course, with a check-book about him, done
up in oiled silk. All chapter one was a lyric — joy of
living; over-safety of this effete age; out upon offices,
dining out, Consols, fixed hours, libraries? — so on, ad
lib, till page forty. From there to the end it was all
how to rig up some wonderful tent, and to steam fish
and brew a quite ineffable punch, and buy the most
magical frying-pans, sleeping-bags, spirit-stoves — as if
poor, passionate man, when he'd once got a spirit-
stove, ever could stop on this side of a big, shiny
kitchen-range, tying his soul to the earth. Oh, I beg
pardon — " He turned with a start to the lady.
He thought she had made a sound.
She only said, " Please go on." But he was grav-
eled, aghast; he had let himself go, in the first words
that came — stupid ones, doubtless. Besides, on what
toes might he not have come down !
June did not like him; he was unrestful to do with;
he trumpeted; he was incalculable, though naif; to
38 THE MORNING'S WAR
have him ahout was like taking a walk in the park with
some one who might at any time leap upon one of the
green chairs and preach, at the top of a childlike voice,
some outlandish doctrine, and make your face hot for
him. Nor had he a physical right to be like that in
mind. He was not built for a crank. In body and
face he was mere standard youth, with that clean blue-
ness of eye and whiteness of tooth and puissancy of
neck and wrist, ripe brown with stored sunshine. He
ought to be merely commonplace-minded, like other
young British Apollos, running fountains of stock
banalities, desolators of garden-parties in Surrey ; then
she could contemn him at ease. As it was, he was an
irritant. But she had breeding and a quick mercy for
the abashed. She would set on his feet the floored
dancer of galliards. 'Why rough it at all, then?'
she asked, encouraging.
Browne looked round the table for help. Would no
one explain? They must all know how, better than
he. No one spoke. He had the lead and must keep
it, and fluency, like a summer-dried fountain, had
failed when the need was sorest. " Do you think,"
he said limply, " one does it to get at the feel of — well,
of not roughing it? "
'By contrast?' June's questioning look offered
' Well, by coming at it from behind, as it were —
from the time before comfort was yet thought of. I
found out one night " — the spasmodic flow quickened
a little — " the rare good invention a pillow is. We'd
been caught on the Weisshorn, Louis — my guide
THE MORNINGS WAR 39
here — and I. The first half of the night I lay
flat on a rock. Then I had a great notion and rested
my head on a rucksack with bottles, a loaf and a great
pair of boots in it. It was divine! "
" Voluptuary! " Guy breathed.
" Yes," said Browne, eagerly ; " simply."
" And I had thought you Antseus," Guy softly chid,
" coming to your mother for a kiss! "
" Kiss ? Dear old tigress ! The sport is to feel
your head's outside her mouth; and you can't if you
won't pop it in, just an inch or so. Try. Come up
the Dent Rouge to-morrow with Louis and me."
" Eh — ? " Guy ruefully scanned the proffered ad-
venture. June fixed amazed eyes on him. Could he
decline it? No, he could not; but a debility in him,
not a fervor, accepted. See a pith ball feebly dance
at the call of a piece of electrified glass — Guy was like
that, half animated by any impulse that fired those
who were nearest him. Gales that blew in their spirits
would set faint draughts stirring in his, light airs with
just enough motion to keep the miniature sails of his
will perceptibly flapping until he drifted rather than
steered across some new starting-line, not of his own
choosing. And meanwhile the idle and curious eye of
his mind was full of cool light; with amusement it
watched what he did, just as it took in traits in others,
virtues or failings, not wishing them anything else;
were they not parts of the scenery? 'I am the
clay," he said suavely to Browne, " thou art the
June had longed for his voice to come soon and be
40 THE MORNINGS WAR
ardent. When it came, lifelessly bland, she felt she
had to give up a hope and lose a memory. This, then,
was how Guy had gone up that magical and sacred
river, a pressed man suffering Eden; his banter was
not a mere veil; it was all of him. Dinner was over;
she rose bewildered with that effacement of an imag-
ined brother. Yet all was not loss; she, if not he, had
just lived with a will that old day of his, a day unlike
any that came now; it shone with a glamoursome
goodness of light, like some lustrous single days re-
membered since childhood or seen in stories told her of
Ireland by her own Irish mother, three years dead.
At a door leading straight to the terrace they passed
from the dining-room's heat into a night fresh as a
bath ; in it their voices splashed coolly. No wind blew,
but June felt the air all astir as a brimming river is,
at high tide, when it does not flow nor ebb, and yet
moves, fingering its banks and arranging its waters:
space was a vessel filled; it held something that groped
and strove to be felt ; and some sense in June strained
to take up the challenge; it craned, it shook itself out,
a floating film of absorbency, on the charged air. Al-
most — it seemed — overhead, that north-east ridge of
the Dent Rouge, the one by which Guy was to go, sped
up through the snows to the region where stars in the
high frost winked and flashed; they seemed to have life
and intention, such pulse had their fierce sparks, and
now and then one would dart to earth slantwise, or fall
headlong as Lucifer from the dome's roof. Behind
the inn a wood fire was burning ; sparks flying up from
it met those others and crossed them.
THE MORNING'S WAR 41
Angels of God, ascending and descending.'
Browne's voice, not far from her, made a note of
their look, for himself, but what he said fitted her feel-
ing, and carried it on, a feeling as if in this heaving
darkness some world-transforming whisper were steal-
ing close up to the line across which new sounds slip
into hearing. How not to miss it? What if the
chance should go by, like a passing ship's rope acci-
dentally trailed, brushing the face of one drowning
unnoticed? Panic beset her; she saw the ridge spring
like a new Jacob's ladder into a sky strangely opened.
" Guy " — she spoke low, drawing close to her
brother — " let me come."
"To-morrow? Up that unspeakable gradient?' 1
" Let me come with you," she said entreatingly.
"With me? Say instead of me. June, my poor
lamb, could you take Isaac's place on the altar ?' :
She stamped to hear his voice rippling along, tri-
fling. " You know I can't go with these strange men,
alone. And I must go."
Guy's shrug came out well in the starlight, as main
architectural outlines do.
" ' Some hae meat and winna eat,
And some hae nane, that want it.' "
He sighed the words mildly and then spoke of many
things needed by climbers which she had not got — an
ice-ax, snow-spectacles, great nails, so on.
She countered each point quickly. Axes? — a sheaf
of them stood for sale in the hall; blue spectacles too;
42 THE MORNING'S WAR
in the open wood-shed, at that very moment, the
porter was hanging new nails by candle-light into a
But the one guide, Guy feared, would not do for
the three of them. That checked her, an instant, but
" You must consult Mr. Browne," she doggedly said,
not yet yielding.
Joy ! Mr. Browne pooh-poohed the objection.
Why, he was — well, no, not a guide, but quite a porter;
he had the experience, though not the diploma. Be-
sides, the banger of nails in the wood-shed had both ;
they would take him ; Madame could well spare him,
" Oh, thank you! " June cried in a tone too elate —
so it sounded to her ; it gave her a twinge of shamed
pride ; why bare even the least space of her soul's
surface to any stranger?
" What hour to start ? " Guy asked Browne re-
" No hurry. Three'll do. We can't very well
climb the ridge itself before daylight, and that's not
till five, and it's only two hours' walk to the foot. If
they'll call us at two — "
Guy went to give orders. Browne and June were
alone. " How safe one's face feels in the dark! " he
said, quite simply, after a moment. The words
seemed to fall on that bare place in her and cover it, as
the naked are clothed in the innocence of others. He,
too, she was somehow aware, had winced, perhaps
flushed, with a sense of the twinge that had crossed
her, and then had been glad that no one could see him
THE MORNING'S WAR 43
wince, and now let it out unwittingly, like a child for
whom, in some abashed moment, to go into the dark
is to go into ease, and avow it. June wondered. Ex-
cept in a child she had never seen the penetrative kind
" Nur wo du bist sei alles, immer kindlich,
So bist du alles, bist uniiberwindlich."
Rough English Translation
" Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye
shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven."
AT five the guide halted to blow out the lantern;
dawn was an hour off yet, but the sky had
turned violet, blenching down eastwards into a thin
and cold blue, astringently sharp like the blue of
skimmed milk. Due east the longish crest of Mont
Bouquetin, seen across a wide glacier, bit its black edge
into this paleness.
Above the five climbers' heads there rose the ridge
of their hopes; first a snow slope, steep and a little
concave ; its profile rushed up in one soar, like the line
of light swept by a rocket ; above it the ridge seemed
to be of dark rock, its shape indistinct; yet higher, and
also lighter in color and so lifting spectrally out of the
twilight, the ridge rose as a twisted stake fence of wild
pinnacles; one or two failing stars blinked feebly
among them, yet still the ridge soared on and lost
itself up there. It looked endless to June, it felt end-
less to Guy, as the five, roped in file, kicked steps for
themselves up the rustling snow slope for an hour,
and then scrambled on up the tumbled dark rocks
THE MORNING'S WAR 45
above, Guy at times on all fours and asking himself,
without indignation, why he was there.
They found a good flat place and breakfasted.
While they ate dawn came, dewless and birdless, with
no pretty ways; a last star went out and then an un-
dazzling orb, its rim studded with short darts of light,
drew clear of the earth with even, purposeful speed.
Guy eyed it. " A somewhat bald pageant," he said
in a measured tone, like one eschewing severity.
Browne chuckled. ' The classical style, I sup-
" No, no. The romantic," June cried, and then
stopped, clutched by self-criticism. Rubbish! What
rubbish! Stock raptures of female effusiveness.
Then, as suddenly, came an impulse of salvage, to try
to lift into truth the word let fall by rote. ' Isn't
'romantic' what's splendid and strange? And just
Far down, in the glacier that curved round the foot
of their ridge, the straining ice creaked ; then it re-
settled. They heard it out, silently. Stillness re-
froze itself round them; all the air seemed a palace of
stillness, with only infinitesimal winds stealing about
its vacuous chambers. June heard, in her resting
body, some pulse or breath that the climb had fluttered ;
it rustled — a sound like crushed feathers; it seemed
as if the others must hear, but they heard their own.
Browne looked at her friendlily, curiously. " I
meant the sun," he explained — " the big, bare way
that he has with him — ' not trick't or flounc'd,' you
know, like — "
46 THE MORNING'S WAR
" Like our poor Surrey daybreaks? ' :
" Ones that are all wet eyelash and twittering lawn?
No. Surrey hasn't the trick."
" Trick ? " she asked, rather august, as she always
grew when she felt at a loss.
He was confounded. " Her own trick — oh, yes.
I only meant — not the classical one."
"What's that?" she asked, more clemently.
Still, a prostrating demand. " The classical
dodge?" He got the question confirmed, to gain
" Yes." She was waiting.
He had to plunge. " Isn't it— well, is it this— for
the sun, or the earth, or whatever it is, to be just its
bare self and yet take your breath away — like the old
boys who could say in their poems that somebody died,
or cried, and lo ! it's tragic?"
He inwardly groaned at himself; was that all he
could say, out of all that he meant? But in this air,
at this hour, ideas could pass and repass; it was a con-
ductor. Besides — though he could not know this — his
voice had self-attesting tones, in a word here and
there, of a zestful veracity, turns and returns of the
hound, nose to ground, caring about the scent only.
June thought. So the sun, the mere sun, was all that
to some people. And, strangely, a breath of that
gusto invaded her, some stir of the troubled delight of
sense put forth on things primal and vast, like the be-
ginning of worlds.
She came out of reverie shivering. Time to go on :
that was clear. And now, without slighting the
THE MORNING'S WAR 47
recreations of others, Guy made it known that his mind
was enriched with this sport to the height of its needs,
and that " brother body " craved ease. At eve, dewy
eve, he would freely accept any impressions the others
might bring back of the summit. June looked piteous
at this, and he made haste to add that, of course, he
would go down alone; the rest must go on. When
June's eyes signaled a refusal of this composition
Guy's brightened with silent, confidential laughter at
bourgeois prudishness, escorts, chaperons; they were
vieux feu, his looks said; they were not for the clean
of to-day. That moved her, and then he said the
slighter things that could be said ; unless she went on
he would go on and perish and leave his bones whiten-
ing, the ridge being no place for their transport. So
it was settled, except that the porter must go
back with Guy; the glacier below was not for lone
While Louis repacked broken victuals, Browne and
June silently watched the two others diminishing down
the snow ridge. June turned at a sound ; it was Louis,
pawing the ground, athirst for the enemy. ,
The guide advanced, first on the rope, the girl
second. That rope can do wonders ; currents of gay
comradeship spark along it ; sulks and reserves it con-
ducts harmlessly into the earth. Browne nodded to-
wards Louis as June was starting, her ten yards behind
him. " He'll sing in a moment," Browne whispered,
She too was merry, at ease, a surprise to herself.
" The band plays the corps into action ? Dear
48 THE MORNING'S WAR
Louis ! ' The three might have climbed together for
weeks, they were such friends. And, surely enough,
the lyric impulse was soon uncontainable.
" Montagnes d'Evolene,
Vous etes mes amours;
Ou j'ai regu le jour,"
Louis trolled till breath failed. It did soon. For the
ridge changed. So far it had been a fair causeway,
narrow enough but, from left edge to right, pretty
level, a gangway-plank running up steep but true.
Now it was taking a list to the left; the gangway's
left edge had somehow dipped down; to go on they
would first have to crawl up the slant to the higher
right edge of the plank, so to speak, and then work
up that as they might.
Louis diffused himself over the slabby slant, gur-
gling with joy like a fish-fed cat, made nondescript
movements, and in a few seconds sat puffing and crow-
ing astride of the sharp upper edge. June followed.
Arrived, she looked over the edge. It had no other
side to be seen; the crest that she clung upon beetled
out over a void, like an eave; all was cut away under
it. Holding on with one hand and her knees, June
searched about, scraped a stone out of a cleft and
dropped it over. It fell clear through air for two hun-
dred feet, then struck a wall of hard snow and spun
along down it, making a faint, distant hiss.
" Good — isn't it?" Browne, who had scrambled up
after her, panted out, breathless with haste and rap-
THE MORNING'S WAR 49
ture. The gaze of both followed the stone where it
still spun or slid or leapt on, now out of hearing, two
thousand good feet down the wall, until at the top of
its speed it was fielded extinguishingly by a waiting
crevasse, a shark's slit of a mouth with soft lips of
snow curved over parted ice teeth. At each hazard of
its descent Browne had made tiny noises uncon-
sciously, little grunts of happy absorption, holdings of
breath as the stone neared a rock or a hole, releases of
breath when it cleared them, almost a sigh when the
run ended. June heard these sounds while watching
the stone ; or rather — absurd, but it seemed so — hear-
ing them was watching the stone more absorbedly
than she had known that she could watch any-
Attention relaxed, they looked up and she saw in
his face a glee new to her ; yet she knew it ; she felt it
rise in her too — the glee of a safety no longer unfelt
or tasteless, like safety down there in the valley; now
it was made salt to the sense ; it was prized because
worked for; it glowed, a triumph for all the taut
muscles; it stood in relief, cut out on a beautiful back-
ground of risk; it was saved from being a matter of
course, taken for granted. She felt her world widen-
ing again; there were some, then, to whom such joys
were not fortuitous flashes ; they knew where to come
for them. What might one not know? — how to use
them, perhaps, as avenues up to yet other heights of
strange delight that no one had told her of.
" It is best," Louis said, with Greek moderation,
" not to slip here."
50 THE MORNING'S WAR
Overhead the ridge was a file of shattered towers:
it mounted wavering; now four or five of these towers,
one after another, would shoot straight up at the sky;
then some blast from the south would seem to have
caught a whole troop of them — all their tips swayed
to the north; like a row of blown flames they bent out
over space ; and then the blown look would pass and a
fifty-foot splinter of straight stone would shoot up
again. The party had been working into the north
while the sun had rounded towards south ; now they
were in their mountain's own shadow, but far above
them the staggering column of stone stakes emerged
into sunlight ; the topmost turrets had rest and basked
pensively. June looked at these. " How they muse ! "
she said aloud, though to herself.
( Yes." Browne for a moment considered her. No,
it was not gush ; she saw things, this girl ; in a town
she would know how high towers dream in hazes of
luminous dust, over unrest ful streets. He considered
Round or else over each of those sentinel spires the
climbers must go. Soon Louis was scaling the first;
from twenty feet up an obelisk, thirty feet high, his
boot nails gleamed over the heads of the others. His
toes ground off the rock a small hail of granules of
crushed ice that pattered on hats below and bit the
warm flesh at a sleeve. Soon it was June's turn.
How easy it was — just to let fall away, like a cloak
from the body, an incapacity put on — when could it
have been that she put it on ? It was no part of her.
Merely to live with a will in the reach of an arm up to
THE MORNING'S WAR 51
grasp a stone knob overhead, holding her breath, with
a child's gleeful cunning, to keep her chest close to the
rock while she did it. That was all.
From the top she watched Browne coming up. He
moved with bold care; each hold that he used was
tested with rigor, but, once tried, was utterly trusted,
and grasp passed into grasp to make one continuous,
sinuous, act of adhesion, the whole body working to-
gether in movements that sent rippling folds down the
back of his coat as the ordered power ran wave-like
along the muscles below.
From the obelisk's tip they dropped a few feet, on
its upper side, to a thin edge of snow that led to the
base of the pinnacle next on the ridge, some forty feet
on. Each side of this edge was a thousand-foot ice-
chute, and south winds had modeled the snow, as it
fell on the ridge, so that the edge had a jutting cor-
nice ; it curled over northward so that the pointed
shaft of an ax, driven straight down at the place that
looked at first fittest to walk on, made a clean hole that
showed daylight below and the cold bluish shine of
the ice-chute, three hundred feet under.
" A porter's job, Louis," said Browne, and, chang-
ing places, addressed himself to the traverse, hacking
the fair and false cornice away with his ax as he
went, and trimming and trampling the upright snow
edge to the width of a slim garden wall.
Soon he was thirty feet out from the start; halfway
across, but the rope was tightening between him and
June ; she must start before he was over. Louis un-
easily made himself fast; he adjured her to sit on the
52 THE MORNING'S WAR
edge, to bestride it and hoick herself on with the hands.
'Every one does it," he said, to square her pride;
'the best climbers; I myself, often." She did her
best not to. " It would make monsieur safer," Louis
urged. She weighed that. But, no. Comrades owed
not help alone but that help untarnished. She walked
lance-straight through mid-air — so it felt — to the
midst of the traverse and, planted there, kept fear at
bay for ten minutes, second by second, till Browne,
now across and on good rock, turned and saw her
neck lifting like some gracious symbol of pride.
The pinnacle next was easy; the one after, hard;
the one after that, impossible, frontally: Louis must
turn its flank cannily. Out of snow-covered ice the
pinnacle rose as a lower tooth from a gum, the gum
scarcely less steep than the tooth. But, just where the
stone tooth rose out of the snow, the snow swelled out,
gum-like, a little ; not that the ice which it covered was
less steep there than below; but a little more snow
could cling to it there, by freezing on to the unsunned
rock ; and so for a couple of feet from the base of the
tooth the gum only fell away convex, before dropping
sheer. By this hanging shelf the guide set out to steal
round the foot of the pinnacle, gingerly stamping the
snow at each step until it would form a hard tread,
frozen fast to the steep ice beneath. He was well out
of sight round the bulge when his shout came for June
to come carefully on. She committed herself to his
vestiges. Aubrey, well planted, paid out the rope to
her frugally. Warily coasting the swell of the tooth
she paused where it pushed her out furthest.
THE MORNING'S WAR 53
"What's it like?" Aubrey called. Could she be
She glanced back, a merry thought curling her lip.
" It's like walking on one stilt. It's made of an icicle,
with a hard snowball stuck on to its side, and that's
the stilt's step." So he saw she had gone clean
through fear, if she had felt it, and come out beyond,
to the mood in which people say, not " Surely, that's
not a ghost? " but " What a fine ghost, to be sure! ,:
Joyful yells proclaimed Louis restored to the ridge.
June, once round the bulge, almost ran up the neat
little stairway of steps he had made in the snow to its
crest, where he sat gaily reviling the circumvented
enemy. " Dog of a gendarme! " * he mocked, " and
easy, too ! But yes ! Absolutely ! ' : Louis had
courage, not chivalry. June laughed, glad to have
him so. In her old thoughts valor had always tow-
ered like some regal grace or tall plume. Frigid
image, uncompanionable ; beside it how good this stout
clay that blood warmed, all common, sun-baked and
dust-stained, that laid on in fight like a good one, and
boasted about it when done, and kicked at the slain
like a triumphing child !
Soon they lost count of separate towers topped or
turned. Above, there never seemed to be fewer to
pass; indeed, sometimes more; each time that the
next stretch of ridge became aquiline, file after file of
new pinnacles moved into sight as the climbers sur-
mounted the convexity; points that had looked as if
* The slang term of mountaineers for a pinnacle of rock
standing on a ridge.
54 THE MORNING'S WAR
the summit were there became taking-off places for
fresh upward leaps of the old spiky edge. The three,
from their black-frozen north, where no icicle lost
hold, looked out of Greenland into the Tropics. What
a noon must be blazing, up there ! While a wet glove
cased hard on the hand, they saw the highest turret-
tops bleach and ache in a shimmer of heat on a sky
blue as skies in a song.
' Much more of it, Louis? " asked Aubrey.
The guide gave the shrug of a guide. " Were the
ridge in condition — perhaps forty minutes. At pres-
ent — two hours, perhaps four, who knows ? ' :
The ridge was not in condition. Each chink in the
rocks had been stuffed with the flying flakes of some
snowstorm; the tiniest ledge had held its white pat,
with wind-beveled edges; and then these had half
melted and then refrozen. They were now ice, and
on these ledges capped with their little ice-cushions,
the party must find or make foothold; in those ice-
choked clefts they had to rummage for hold for their
Meal-time had come round. Huddled under a rock,
lest stones or ice fall from above, where the sun was
at work, they crouched on their heels ; they ate and
drank and their souls enjoyed good in their labor.
What a savor the salt had ; what goodness, to June, the
villainous red wine ! They drank, two by two, to the
health of the third; it seemed natural. In the world
there were only three persons ; all day their three lives
were being laid, turn by turn, in the keeping of each,
and held safe there with passionate care, and then
THE MORNINGS WAR 55
handed on, with lightsome trustfulness, to the next.
While they ate they said trivial things with a kind of
blithe gravity. All meals — the saying is old — are
sacraments really; only some vulgarization of them,
or of us, repels us at most times ; we cannot communi-
cate. This time there came no frustration.
" Hast thou entered into the treasures of the snow? "
Job xxxviii. 22.
EACH pinnacle now seemed worse than the last.
Two hours on from the place of their meal came
the hardest of all. It rose eighty feet from the ridge,
which was here of pure ice, blue and hard, its crest
about as wide as a plank. There was no going round
that pinnacle; right and left its sides fell smooth and
sheer into ice almost as sheer. Straight in front, too,
attack would be hopeless. The pinnacle straddled
across the ice plank, barring it, bulging out far to each
side of it, much as a chimney-stack does on the ridge
of a roof. For the first twelve feet of its height, just
where the plank led up to it, not a wrinkle of rough-
ness diversified the vertical stone.
There was only one chance. As far away to the
right as a tall stride from the ice plank might reach
out through space, Louis descried on the pinnacle's
face a ledge an inch wide and some eight inches long ;
not a flat ledge, alas ! — it sloped outwards a little and
had a poor edge; but there was no choice. And, five
feet above the ledge, two nearly upright fissures, ten
inches apart from each other and each about an inch
wide, could be seen ; for a couple of feet they ran
upwards till one of them widened to five or six inches.
And, yet two feet higher, this fissure held in its clutch
THE MORNING'S WAR 57
a small stone, lodged there during some downfall of
broken rock from above.
Sitting thirty feet off on the last rock before the
plank bridge, they considered it all. Could a hand only
get at that little jammed stone -nine feet up ! Were it
once grasped you might hang from it, safe while your
grasp held. And. while it held, sharp nails on the inner
edge of a right boot, thrust well out once more to the
right, might bite on another minute excrescence of
rock, another three feet out over space. If the nails
bit, the hands might then be invited to quit the jammed
stone, their one comfort and stay in the passage, and
grope for projections to grip, or depressions to occupy,
in certain bas-reliefs out, again, to the right, and
higher. Fondly remembered by Louis as having lain
within his reach when his right foot, in some other
year, had trusted itself to that second excrescence of
rock, these reliefs were now buried under the lower
end of a ribbon of loose snow that seemed to run up,
curving spirally round, towards the ridge at the back
of the tower, the party's one aim in life. Could they
once gain that snow, Louis averred, they were made;
beneath it were all sorts of good things. Trust him —
were he there he would stick his claws into all that
would be wanted.
They stood by for the venture. Louis walked the
plank of ice first, and then June. At its far end she
stood at his back, ready to close in and wait, steadied
against the pinnacle's base, as soon as he quitted the
ridge. Should he slip, and so fall down the right-
hand precipice, she was to jump down the one on the
58 THE MORNINGS WAR
left, that so they might both come to rest, hung to the
ridge by the rope, like a donkey's two panniers.
Browne was not to cross yet, but sit fast ; with a turn
of the rope twisted round a good firm wart of rock,
he would now be the caravan's saving point of ad-
hesion to absolute fixity. Also, while Louis climbed,
Browne, thus posted afar, would watch and might tell
him of boons to be reached by a groping finger-tip, out
of its owner's sight.
First, leaning out from the ridge, the guide, with his
extended ax, chipped the ice off the first one-inch
ledge ; he picked some out, too, but not much, from the
fissures above. He then slung his ax to his wrist and
glanced back at Browne. " You're fixed? " he asked,
Browne patted the stone wart and nodded.
' Eh, well — " said Louis and made the big step.
With pricked ears that read sounds like print, June
heard the rim of serrated steel round Louis' sole grind
as it bit on the tiny ledge; then give, with an ominous
scrape, for some infinitesimal distance upon it; and
then, finding an answering roughness, bite and hold
fast, while the guide, in the same swinging movement,
drew off his left foot from the ridge, reached up with
both hands, and committed the good of the cause to
what he might find in the two upright cracks. Then
the fighting began. Louis climbed with a wrestler's
quick, felicitous cunning at seeing the way to a new
grip, its use, and the time when its use would be past.
At one moment his arms would be crossed, and what
clamped him on to the vertical rock was only the
THE MORNING'S WAR 59
lateral pressure and counter-pressure of two open
palms pulling in towards each other from opposite
sides of an upright lamina of stone ; at another he used
only one of the vertical cracks for both hands, making
as if to tear it wider open, his fingers straining out-
wards sideways against its two opposite walls; and
once, as he went higher, he seemed to have no de-
scribable handhold or foothold at all, but to plaster
himself to the crag by the aggregate friction of elbows,
knees, toes, chin and palms, all nuzzling into shallow
depressions of its surface and feeling out any square
inch of more merciful gradient.
To June, standing steady on guard, there had come
now the exaltation of sober sense that danger brings
to the unafraid. In half-seconds she saw whole
ranges of practical things and could think out long
trains of cause and effect, compare and speculate; an
instant gave infinite leisure ; time, the old fetter, was
knocked off the mind. One trifle she noticed was
how, on that first ill-sloping inch of stone ledge, Louis'
boot had come down not square but with a slope too,
its sole parallel to the ledge's surface. Was that why
it slipped, just a little, at first?
" It's the right way; " Browne's voice came across
as she wondered. Odd — another obstruction gone
too? Did thought pick up thought without the old
signaling? "Gives the boot more bite," he said.
" More nails get a go at it."
She nodded, rejoicing at Louis, to see how each
trooper in that battalion of sinews could mind its own
work, and the captaining wits be left free to make for
CO THE MORNING'S WAR
this opening or that, like a chief who has only to run
on ahead at the enemy, knowing the breath of his
men will be hot on his neck as he draws near the
trenches. And all through the fight the guide
pshawed, groaned and swore to himself, making it up
to his spirit, for any pangs of daring in action, with
free leave to wallow in over-expression of fear and
disgust, as some surgeons will grunt and snarl their
way through big operations, or soldiers go blenching
or blubbering into an action that wins them a cross.
Once begun, the bout had to go quickly. Merely to
cling to the rock by such holds was hard work; to
hoist by them, harder; no one could keep it up long.
Besides, every grasp was on rock glazed with ice; the
climber raced oncoming numbness; the difficulty must
be passed before fingers lost feeling. And now
Browne saw that Louis was going to be checked. He
had reached the lower end of the ribbon of snow, but
he was only mounting it slowly and painfully, digging
his fingers and boot-toes searchingly in, but seeming
nowhere to find what he sought. He had overrated
their chance. The holds he had thought to find under
the snow were masked in ice ; till he was twenty feet
higher, at least, the most he could do — if he could do
that — would be not to slip; he could nowhere stand
squarely enough to resist any pull on the rope from
below. And already the rope was straightening be-
tween him and June. Soon it would tighten. Five
feet more and the guide would be held back, clinging
to some frozen crevice or knob with fingers themselves
freezing fast. The girl must then start up the worst
THE MORNING'S WAR 61
piece of all with no chance of help from the rope from
above; worse — with a certainty that if she slipped she
would drag the guide off. Then the two would fall
backwards through the air, till the rope held by
Browne would grow taut — for one instant only ; even
the best ropes have limits of strength.
One thing, he saw, could be done. The whole
length of their rope, being more than double the length
of the part between Louis and June, would give the
guide freedom to climb nearly up to the ridge and to
find on the way, if he could, some square foot of flat
rock or snow. Planted there, with the rope in both
hands, if they were still able to feel it, Louis might
stand a fair strain. It would mean Browne's quitting
their one firm anchorage. Still —
" All right there? " he asked June.
" Splendid." Her voice had a kind of glow.
" Good. I'm coming."
He walked the plank swiftly and faced her, he
poised on the ice ridge, she leaning her back against
the tower. " Louis needs rope," he said ; " may I untie
She worked the knot round on her chest into reach
of his hand. What a knot! — evil in kind and now
"Oh, Louis, Louis!' Browne apostrophized under
his breath as he tugged and picked at the tangle of
petrified hemp. " How he loves that wicked old over-
hand knot ! "
" The dear goose ! " June chid too, as over a nice,
naughty child. Both could speak thus, each knowing
62 THE MORNINGS WAR
the other loyal in mind to the comrade fighting above.
The knot gave at last, but only a little, and Louis
had climbed on, meanwhile, to the end of his tether;
the rope came down taut; not even so much of slack
was left as was needed to loosen the knot completely
and run the loop large, so as to lift it up over June's
arms. Twenty seconds would finish the job, but not
without ten or twelve inches more play in the rope;
and now Louis was straining up on it as though every
inch more it could yield was a lift towards deliverance.
They stared about with one quest in their eyes; was
there no stone, no lump of snow or ice, nothing to raise
up her feet those few inches for those twenty seconds ?
" Bend your knee. I'll stand on it," she suddenly
He could not reject the risk for her. They were
like one person now, a staunch one, in whom the
members do not tremble one for another. She found
means to hold fast while he closed in and pressed a
bent knee to the rock, and then to step up and stand
on his leveled thigh ; she balanced deftly, one hand
capping the ball of his shoulder and one pressed flat
against the smooth rock. Twenty seconds? — they
did it in ten. June had the noose slipped over her
head and one arm, and half over the other, when
Louis' voice, sharp with anxiety, came to them.
" Sir, I can hold here no longer. I must have more
rope. Untie the young lady."
" It's done, Louis. Pull away — much as you like,"
Browne shouted ; and June, from her perch on his
knee, looked up, calling, " Oh, well climbed, Louis !
THE MORNINGS WAR 63
Well climbed!" before Browne, with both hands on
her waist, set her down like a rose-vase too full of
water. She was unroped — a torment to him to see.
"Well played, you! Well played, you!' he kept
murmuring as he undid the knot tying himself at the
end of the rope and tied June there instead, to be
ready to start on a call from above.
It came soon. The guide, once let out of the leash,
had gone fast. A falsetto whoop of delight, a wild
scraping on rock by boot-nails which some solid hand-
hold had set free from care, and a shower of snow
kicked away from the long-coveted platform — all
brought the news of a fortress taken. June set out,
exulting to move again. Browne could steady her off
from the ridge; the tip of the shaft of his ax, stretched
out to rest on the first minute ledge, made the footing
there sure. Above it the tip of the ax could still, for
a few feet, be pressed up under a groping boot. But
she needed help little. In five minutes more she was
niched beside Louis on two square feet of flatness, un-
doing her end of the rope with numb hands — Louis'
were too numb now — to let down to Browne. Its
frozen kinks came to him dancing and curling in air
and, sped by the guide's entreaty to come fast, lest
their hands be frost-bitten, he tied on in haste, went off
with a rush and, on reaching the little stone jammed
in the crack, did not wait to grasp at it from its own
rear and base and so jam it only the more with his
pull. He grabbed at its top from outside and it came
right out in his hand : he hung from the rope.
Oh, Louis, I'm sorry," he groaned. His body
G4 THE MORNING'S WAR
began to rotate, spit-fashion, horribly. Then the rope
gave a little, and then he saw the guide's look of dread
as it slipped yet another inch through his dead fingers.
Above the point on the rope where Louis held it a
coil of it lay at June's feet. There was that much to
slip through his fingers, and then —
" Can you — ? ' The guide looked half round, but
June was before him — had twisted the rope, eighteen
inches above where he held it, round both of her hands
and was pulling up hard and straight from her heels,
as an oarsman drives from the stretcher. Browne saw
her face, busy and set, behind Louis' aghast one, and
then the rope held ; the four hands could just do it.
Three seconds more and Browne, swinging round with
a jerk to get his face to the rock, had thrust both hands,
open and edgewise, into the two upright cracks and
then clenched his fists till each hand was a lump large
enough to stick fast in the narrows.
" Right. Slacken a little," he called. Bending his
elbows the little he could, he drew up his body some
three or four inches, unclenched and took out his left
hand and again put it into the crack and reclenched it,
those three or four inches higher, then drew up his
body again and took out the right hand, and did it all
again, till at last a foot swung out to the right could
find hold. Not much of the skin of his knuckles was
left to complain when he reached his friends and found
Louis rubbing June's right hand with snow. Browne
groaned again, to see the groove the rope had indented
there, and how the flesh did not spring up when re-
THE MORNINGS WAR 65
She was quelled by the cold, quelled past trusting
her voice to sound buoyant. They all were. Oh, to be
out of that bitter black North — icy rock, rocky ice, and
that brutal pain in their fingers, an indistinct ache as of
crushed limbs; it bruised the spirit.
They re-roped in order and made their way on in
dead silence, each of their cowed hearts keeping its
numbness all to itself, lest it discourage the hearts that
each felt to be still uncowed in the others. June did
not look up; it seemed to be of no use; it was so long
since there had ever been sun in the world. Once, as
they struggled on over more of the old rocky teeth,
she had a queer fancy that some rock she touched with
her left hand was warm. Luxurious fancy ! She
checked it, almost in fear — was she growing light-
headed? Why, they were in shadow, in midwinter
rigors; Louis, above her, was audibly cutting steps up
a slant of hard ice, their old enemy. " Canst thou not
suffer and be silent? " June tried to say to herself, over
and over, like a prayer, holding despair off with the
words. Droning it, with her eyes on her feet, she
heard, as sounds fail away while a doze becomes sleep,
the hacking of Louis' ax growing less loud, the
strokes slower, more wide apart; they stopped; a rust-
ling noise, short, crisp, delicious, heard long ago in
some happier time, had succeeded them. Starting, she
looked up; she saw Louis, transfigured in sunshine,
stroll up a soft white bank bejeweled like dewed grass,
and then her own face was in heaven's good warmth,
bathed in it.
Louis was turning, his face one repose of beatitude.
66 THE MORNING'S WAR
" We are arrived ! " Louis said. Where he stood the
last incline died off on the crown of a huge cap of
snow, the roof of the mountain. It swelled, rose and
fell, like a down, a genial, incredible, softly-rolling
world to be found at the tip of that ladder thrust up
into the air.
"What must be the delight of a mind rightly touched, to gaze
on the huge mountain masses for one's show, and, as it were,
lift one's head into the clouds ! The soul is strangely rapt with
these astonishing heights." Conrad Gesner.
THEY dropped on the snow; every muscle ran
slack; the rope lay out loose; from rucksack
and pockets they spilt food, maps, bottles, corkscrews,
pell-mell, for the joy of doing things carelessly.
There they sat or lay, glorious, luxurious, replete
with mere remission of tensity, taking long, leisurely
pulls at the great tankard of their achieved safety:
it bubbled and sparkled.
" What o'clock? " June asked, out of depths of in-
difference. " Is it eleven yet? Hardly."
Louis smiled toward the sun.
" Three forty," said Browne. They all laughed.
So time goes when you live.
Louis half-heartedly put it that even the easy way
down, which they meant to take, needed daylight. The
others derided him.
" Eh, well ! " said Louis, and lit a pipe blissfully.
No flame from the struck match was seen in the sun-
light; only a quiver of smoke rising over it — straight,
the air was so still.
" Cost what cost, we must stay awhile," June smiled
to Louis, who wished to learn English.
68 THE MORNING'S WAR
The world, now a conquest of theirs, lay out below
like a great map spread on a floor. Almost under the
lowered sun Mont Blanc stood obtuse amidst arrowy
peaks, like a house among poplars. Eastward the
Matterhorn's bent tip, monstrous, a whim, and a child's
whim, not an architect's, brazened it out, its queer dis-
tinction killing lovelier rivals. Along the Rhone val-
ley's dark trench the eye felt its way down forty
miles till it hit on a speck of the Lake of Geneva's blue.
Eighty miles away snows on the Dauphiny Mountains
were shining, hoisted into mid-air on black plinths.
And southward the whole Lombard plain stretched and
lengthened out, endless, dim with deepening purples
of farness and of evening.
Browne picked out a point that he knew in the Mari-
time Alps ; it showed through a gap in the Graians.
' From there," he told June, " when the air has been
well washed with rain, you see Corsica — only a blur, of
course, rising out of the level shine when the sun's on
the Mediterranean." He turned, searched the north,
and found the dorsal fin of an Oberland mountain.
' From up there you see the Black Forest — right into
She gazed and gazed, thrilled with the feel of a new
reach in the one sense which up here was at work,
where all was blank for the rest. The last scent had
died off behind them eight hours ago, at some grass
with orchises on it; the last sound not made by them-
selves — the creak of a chough or some scared mar-
mot's whistle — had come scarcely higher. Sight's own
task had been simplified : not busy now with the near,
THE MORNING'S WAR 60
tumbled riches of lowlands, it put forth its strength
on sheer distance, and, stirred by its own strength and
drunk with it, took on new powers and visions of
" See that dip? " Browne pointed north-eastward.
She saw. " The St. Gotthard is there. The Rhine
and the Rhone and the Po are all there, scrambling for
water. It's thrown them like coppers; Adriatic and
North Sea fight for a snow flake."
June stared as one stares at the fire and tries to
recall some old view and to think out a path for the eye
through the banked mists that had bounded it. Now
the path opened; the bodily eye seemed aware of more
and yet more, till June could not tell sight from reverie.
Europe was lying before her unrolled; she stood at its
center and saw the mills there grind the powder that
spread Holland out on the sea and let Venice rise from
it ; reaching across to where the Bernina gleamed high
in the East, she could lean over pools where the waters
are gathered that moat Bulgaria and carry the grit
that redraws the Black Sea. Rivers appeared in all
their lengths, with their adventures, their dawdlings
and hastenings; the Rhine, after all its swayed ferry-
boats, lazy at last among tulips and windmills; the
Danube constricted to tear past Belgrade and Vienna,
between speeding walls, like a horse breaking through
a cordon. " What's that? " she cried.
The roar of a far-off explosion was reaching them,
dreamy and bodiless first, and then rounding and hard-
ening into fullness. A rattle of minor artillery fol-
70 THE MORNING'S WAR
lowed it, each crack, again, muffled at first as if some
muting membrane enwound it.
' See ! On Mont Bouquetin ! " Louis pointed.
Browne added, " Low down — near the glacier by-
Through a mile and a half of quivering glare June
saw a trail of black specks fall pausingly, second by
second, down a ledged precipice. " The everlasting
hills!" said Browne. Slowly the commotion ended;
the spilt scuttle of coal — so it looked — was coming to
rest at the foot of the crag, spoiling a snowfield. " A
thousand tons less of the Bouquetin now! "
Long after all was at rest, to the eye, the last blurred
report of rock smashing on rock droned across through
the heat to them. Then stillness twice as still as before
settled on all the immobile, glittering desert of stone
and snow, rising and falling, falling and rising. June
had felt something — not learnt, but felt; all of the
earth that seems hard and lasting was tumbling away,
over there, into rubbish ; she saw the hills as they are —
a last ruin almost, and how the tips of to-day's peaks
had lain in black bottoms of valleys. Something be-
fell her ; time went the way space had gone ; it shrank
into a thing excitingly small; fancy could grasp it and
play with it here, where the work of a million quarry-
ing frosts and suns lay out to be seen like a stone-
breaker's finished heap by a road.
Ecstasy caught her; the earth's convexity seemed
a thing real to sense; the foot braced itself to it; the
eye felt a glee at it ; poised on the ball spun in space,
June held her breath with delight at its revolution.
THE MORNING'S WAR 71
And then with a sudden tenderness she espied some-
thing. Down the bed of a valley a railway, a road and
a stream twisted their triple cable, the strands plaiting
over and under. It moved her oddly; the two tiny
threads, carefully fitted in with the third, had the
touching dearness of children's minute and fugitive
engineering. What was it that had put bars till now
between her and such good pangs and pleasures?
Between her, too, and her comrades of all times in this
place, her peers in drawing the lot for this high adven-
ture of being alive, ever since Alps were first Alps?
Where were the passes, she asked gaily, eagerly —
where were the old famous passes over to Italy ?
" Which of them first ? " Browne asked. He looked
at her in wonder. Her mouth, like a bud long kept
back, had broken into incredible bloom, a rose with the
many curves of all its soft-lipped petals not fixed and
assembled, but changing, successive, melting curve into
" The Mont Cenis, please." She had heard of it
He picked out two pretty high points in the distant
south-west. " The road runs just below them, a little
They fell to work, taking light from each other's
excitement; they set trains and pomps of old travelers
tramping across — Frankish kings on their way to be
crowned, and Holy Roman Emperors and other great
ones of the earth — Louis the Pious drawing rein on the
top of the pass and founding the guest-house, and
Charles the Bald dead on the way. Neither knew any
72 THE MORNING'S WAR
history, to speak of; only, in each of their minds, some
visible fact had stuck, here and there, at some time or
other, and then lain forgotten; now these emerged
from the closet, turned into morsels of livid, tingling
experience. The two capped reminiscences shyly,
afraid of swaggering.
" Didn't Henry the Fourth go that way to Ca-
nossa? " she asked, like a born Catholic.
Browne could believe it. And people, four hundred
years later, tobogganed. " A Duchess of Saxony —
fancy some dragonsome dowager — tearing across in
the snow, to help a Duke of Burgundy, was it? She
slid from the top down to — Lanslebourg, isn't it? '
She laughed. He had wanted her to, that the rose
might curl more petals. He looked at them. ' Then,
a mere hundred years after, Montaigne," he added,
when only to look would begin to be rude.
She grew serious again. " And, all the time, pil-
grims — long chains of black spots on the snow, both
ways, in and out — drawn in on Rome and sent out
from it, as people's blood is — " She stopped, her little
figure of speech taking fright at itself. So she looked
a little august again, and remote. She always did
when alarmed or abashed.
He did not know that. He only saw what looked
like a gesture of quick withdrawal into dim inner re-
cesses of orthodoxy. So that was her line, he reflected
lightly. He gave her time to come out; then they
began the game over again, picking out a fresh pass ;
the Genevre it was, a nick in a ridge a great way off;
they romped through the sights you might have seen, if
THE MORNING'S WAR 73
you had sat there by the road, with time done away
with — Caesar's bald crown, damply beaded perhaps,
coming up into sight, on his way to the taking of Gaul;
and drift on drift of rug-headed Lombards surging
across; and then the Franks pushing them back; and
Charlemagne crossing, it might be, to take in old Lom-
bard)' ; " and the Pope, Innocent the " Browne
was rollicking on.
" A Pope up there? " June checked for an instant :
the petals drew in as anemone petals will do, even for
a light cloud.
" A Pope and an Emperor," Aubrey rushed on, to
blow the cloud away; " Frederick the First and a king
or two — Charles the Eighth was it?— to fall upon
Italy; Louis the Thirteenth with Richelieu beside him;
and then a short pause, and a French army swings up
the road; it's off to Magenta, Solferino."
Europe's life marched in serried procession; it had
the color and clangor of one pageant, gone through
in an hour, as Europe's whole face had come within
sight, and the make and whirling of the earth into
reach of the body's senses. In that world transfigured
into radiant coherence they sat god-like, fingering their
treasures, till some peak a mile off in the west threw a
shadow that stole up the snow to their feet. Not two
hours till dark! Louis was fidgeting.
With stiff, happy muscles they stumped away over
the dome to its southern edge and began to lower them-
selves, ledge by ledge, down a rude natural staircase,
ruined and rock-strewn, leading down some thousands
of feet. Browne went first now, Louis last. They all
74 THE MORNING'S WAR
fell silent again as they plodded on, only with some
jocund word of companionship now and again, blithe
like a lamp lit in early twilight. Then the light thick-
ened, and the silence, and in the silence the reinsula-
tion of minds began. June felt a grasp giving way,
helplessly; could she not keep any hold on that untur-
bid and lightsome world? Would it be all gone that
night when in bed she tried to live back through the
day ? Was it going from Browne, too, she wondered ?
She peered at what she could see of him — only some
short curling hairs that had looked fair just now on
the back of a neck burnt brown. If the vision were
failing him, too, she was sorry and wished she could
help; and then in a spasm of angry shame she struck
her wish down. To think she could help, or had any
part in it all ! Vanity, vanity ! Why, it was his eye
that made things over again; what you saw with his
help was like what poets had worked on, or legends
grown to; it rose to the state of things primal or
storied; his mind took in a thought and appareled it,
somehow, by that very act with glamour or grandeur
or magical simpleness. What might it not do, that
power? Not merely things seen and touched might
now be fallen from grace and waiting in rust and dust
till the mind came that could break on them like the
dawn, that both sees life and gives it. Courage, con-
trol, charity, faith — no, he had not religion; she knew
by his courtesy when their talk neared it. But if he
did ever have it —
Their way was a zigzag now; in the last of the light
his face was in profile at one moment, then it came full
THE MORNING'S WAR 75
and then turned away again. If one were dead and in
some pallid heaven it would be good to escape for a
moment and see a face red and brown like poppies in
corn, and eyes with lids dropped at the outer end a
little, as if with looking through wind and rain into
distance, and wrists where the joint was a modeled
steel nut among swart, hairy straps, and a neck that
indexed a fit frame's whole volume of litheness. She
stumbled and, flushing unseen in the dusk, recovered
herself quickly and tried to fasten her eyes on the
path. But she looked on at Browne now and then:
she had to : she had to verify things about him — to see
what was well made and what not ; well or ill, they
were all rather touching, somehow, because they were
just what they were, as a baby's face is, for better or
worse. Soon it was only one outline she saw, and
then none; it was dark; they had relit the lantern and
Louis and Browne had changed places.
Nine o'clock and the inn still a good hour off. Ten,
and the turn of a corner brought its lights into sight,
some of them fixed, some four or five not; these swung,
rose and fell, flitting this way and that about the inn
door; one dived into darkness and then re-emerged
with two more beside it. All must be carried in hand
by a gathering company.
Louis sniffed wrathfully. " Euh ! A search party !
Sheep sent to look for lost sheep ! ' He yodeled de-
rision ; alas ! unheard, for the flitting lights drew into a
group and then out into a line, a relief-column mobil-
Louis ran over its probable units bitingly : cook of
76 THE MORNINGS WAR
the inn; under-boots — " Cretin de premiere force, je
vous dis franchement ! " ; head waiter — " boule de
suif, absolument! "; the brother of Mademoiselle;
and the good God alone knew what poor creatures be-
sides, " and to rescue — me, for example ! ' : But how to
stop the imbeciles ? " Monsieur, assist me ! ' : He
waved the lantern aloft, and all the might of his in-
dignation put itself into a bawl, Browne chiming in
The lights below ceased to move. Their stricken
immobility made each, to June, a symbol ; it stood for
a figure listening with held breath. Louis improved
his advantage by letting a yell that tore almost a visible
rent in Night's tympanum.
That did it: through space an answering shout
could be felt slowly winging; it came spent and small.
By now all intentness was gone from the lanterns
yonder. Some of them waved a response; all of them
moved, but not as before. The face of a remitted
purpose was drawn on the darkness with the same pen
of light that had drawn the braced look of a muster
and then the strained air of listeners. To June it was
thrillingly legible. Was it not ? — she was about to ask
Browne, but stopped. Bars that were melted at noon
were re-forming now, as icicles were. Browne stood a
little behind the lantern; silhouetted black, square,
monumental, he seemed withdrawn into enigma. She
left it unsaid, and they tramped on. Louis was silent
too, dourly figuring that under-boots to himself and
maturing jibes for emission at supper-time.
Two of the lanterns came up a few hundred yards
THE MORNING'S WAR 77
to meet theirs. One was in Guy's hand. ' Unhappy
young people! " his flute voice purled like one of the
many streams that had come into hearing again as they
descended; " a few minutes more and the emotions of
rescue were ours! The chef was translated; the eyes
of the under-boots had strange lights. And lo ! you
are safe all the time and our unheroism repossesses us."
" My dear rash young lady, the fright that you've
given us ! ' This came from the other lantern.
June turned in surprise. " Father Power ! You
here ! "
" At your bidding." His voice had a tinge of re-
" Oh, do forgive me ! ' : She had the contrition of
one at last fully waked, for the first incoherences of
arousal. " Tell me — about all this horribleness at
" To-night ! And you famished ! ' The priest's
voice was kind again.
" Yes — now." '
Browne, lingering at good-nights with Louis, heard
her insist. Two minutes later he trailed his battered
feet down the inn's long matted corridor, now a deli-
cious tunnel of warm light, bored into the mountain
night's solid, cold darkness. Through a door on one
side he saw June, with her tired eyes hugely, lucently
dark, leaning over a sitting-room table, her back
crushed under its load of exhaustion. She seemed to
be importuning the priest. Under the hanging oil
lamp her wide mountain hat half shadowed her face
into mystery. Hearing his step she looked up, rose
78 THE MORNINGS WAR
and said good-night and thanked him — " for such a
good day," with the civil stress formally lavished, as
if the lamplight dazed comradeship.
" What's this they're like? " he thought to himself,
meaning her dilated eyes. Something it was that he
knew ; it had attracted him once, or often. He went to
bed fumbling to find the lost likeness, and then thought
he had it, but was not sure. They had gleams like
deep water awash under lamp-lighted bridges on sum-
mer nights, when it seems good to dive into and swim
in. Was that it, or was she like some one he seemed
to know better than any one else in the world?
— yet he could not think whom. He fell asleep with it
'The dark places of the earth are full of the habitations of
cruelty." Psalm lxxiv. 20.
THE priest had been fencing. " We'll talk it all
over to-morrow," or " Wait and we'll have a
great talk in the morning," the fatherly man of forty-
five had replied to June's queries.
But June, like a child excited and tired past sleep,
grew fluent, elate, tried to find ways round his guard,
told him how she had been shown where the old
pilgrims' road ran, over the snows. " It's still now, up
there ; only the hot air quivering over the old roads to
Rome; no one on them — only that glass-colored
shiver, like a flame made out of water. It seemed like
an old thing burnt out, and all the time you were down
there in the train, rushing towards Italy." Almost
light-headed, she tried to be cunning, as tipsy men do.
He saw through it : any one could. " Ay, and a
right tired pilgrim. You'll let him rest now ? ,!
' I'm sorry. I didn't think. Just tell me one thing."
" About your poor bedesmen in Connaught? ' :
" Just how they were when you left? "
' God help them! But wait till the morning."
" But, Father—"
" To bed with you ! Off, now ! "
"I will, only—"
" Only you'd argue the point with your priest."
80 THE MORNINGS WAR
' No, but — did you know ? — there's the man here
that Cusheen belongs to? "
' How wouldn't I know, and I just after — ? No,
not a word till the morning."
" Guy knows Mr. Newman. They were out here
while father and I were in Italy. I made a plan. I
asked Guy to meet us. I hoped he might bring Mr.
Newman. He did, and then I wrote off to beg you to
" The diplomacy of you ! "
" I thought, if some one could tell Mr. Newman — "
" You've been at him? "
' I ! ' She glowed, a fierce Daphne. She canvass
the satyr ! But she made allowances. " You haven't
' That have I, these few hours back." She looked
at him quickly; there were things, then, that, priest
as he was, he could not see so surely as she.
He had a light too. He saw her seeing, and guessed
what she saw and all that it meant. ' You've a right,"
he said, " to feel as you did, and I with the thumbs of
me pricking and he a perch off." Official omniscience
must learn as it goes. " You must leave him to me to
deal with." By this time he felt, in good faith, that it
had been he that espied the goat legs, and she that had
missed them, as maidens, no doubt, ought to. " The
fact is, I hope that — "
" Yes? " She settled to listen.
He laughed, not to be caught. ' You'd wheedle
me on till I'd have it the weight of the world on my
mind that I'd talked the life out of you. Come now."
THE MORNING'S WAR 81
She fell into place at last, like a child long drilled,
under his benedictive hand. " Good-night to you
now," he said with an authentic paternal goodness,
rather touchingly out of place on comely features that
had not quite done with their youth. " The blessing
of God be upon you and stay with you."
June laid to rest limbs content with sane weariness;
with them the mind too fell backwards gently. Once,
for a moment, her whole body shuddered uncontrol-
lably; she had recalled a look of Newman's that flashed
into her mind a sudden knowledge of how Moors price
slave-girls, and Newman's smile when he talked to
herself — a smile not at anything said at the time, but
at something implied, as it seemed, to underlie all speech
between young women and men, some horrible winking
of whole sex at whole sex, a jauntily-hinted collusion
between demure female lures and leering male read-
iness. There in the dark her face burned loathingly.
Yet — oh, assuaging thought, to wash the bespattered
mind white — she knczu now that a girl of her age and
a strange man of Newman's could be in a wild
together, all through a long day that assayed them both
in some new way in each of its changeful hours, and
the girl not once feel that her sex was deranging com-
radeship. Knowledge of that kept the earth clean; it
preserved the stars.
• ••••• •
Guy, restored to his sphere, the terrace, had brought
together there the parish priest of Cusheen and its
owner. " And how're the wicked husbandmen?''
Newman had genially asked.
82 THE MORNINGS WAR
The priest took a measuring look at him. l That's
what he's like, then?' the look might have meant.
' You heard," he said, " of the hunger, a year back? '
" Hunger? Don't you believe it."
" Ah ! You were there? " You could not have told
it was not serious, eager inquiry.
"I! I was not. I've a use for my life. But there
wasn't a shot at Dan Joyce — you know Joyce, my
agent? — the whole blessed winter, and that's what
they do, the first thing, as soon as they're peckish."
Guy was beginning " My dear sir — " to Newman.
It seemed a waste not to let a light into his mind — so
as to find out what he would make of a hint of the way
that pastors regard murder done by their lambs.
But the priest's humility was much too proud to
take help against an infidel's boorishness. He made a
very slight opening movement with one hand, as if to
let fall through its fingers such specks of stray dirt as
the Newmans of this world; he went on, persistently
suave. " Mr. Newman, if you could be with us there,
but for the length of a day — "
' Last day I'd be anywhere, eh? No, sir; I let 'em
the land; I didn't promise to throw in the shootin'."
Any scorn that may have blazed inside Father
Power was smokeless. He raised no protest beyond
going on from that word of his own at which this being
had failed " — you'd see the potatoes are rotted, and
they not ripe."
" A man takes the risks of his business," said New-
man, his chronic smile stiffening as if it might end set
fast as a rigid sneer or bare-toothed snarl.
THE MORNING'S WAR 83
Still no tang of asperity soured the priest's tongue.
- I'm told," he said, " the great landlords in England
take a share in the risks of the farmers." An old hand
with the froward, he went about Newman, he tried to
get in, as though into a house shut in his face, patiently
trying each window. So ; that one was fast ; he went
to the next. " There isn't the food in the place, nor
money to buy it — and pay the rent too."
•' Don't fear for me. We'll shake the rent out of
" But," Guy was beginning, fearing a too early end
for this engaging passage of arms, " if the stone really
is bloodless — " when Newman cut cheerfully in.
" Joyce and I'll manage, so long as there's no
' humane ' bleaters about."
" I've the fear," said the priest, " that you'll have
half the land on your hands."
But Newman was off on a trail of his own. : ' Only
last Christmas some sickener from England came
nosing round at evictions. Contracts! — oh, he'd not
heard of them. ' Barbarity ' — that was his game. I
heard he had the wickedness to snivel about it in some
rag, up in the Black Country."
" Eh? " said Guy, playfully anxious.
" The Northerner — that was the name."
Guy enacted chagrin. " My heart told me. New-
man, 'tis mine — three-sixteenths of it."
" Keep 'em away from the other thirteen, then, or
you'll have 'em mangy."
" Your idea of property's rights is one-sided, my
friend." Guy's eyes roamed the air; his voice was the
84 THE MORNINGS WAR
very breath of idly provocative thought. " Think.
May not a paper, too, be some poor soul's, and that soul
have its yearning, also, for revenue — revenue not to be
had, perhaps, if the paper be not endeared to yet other
poor souls by giving them something to cry about? '
' Well, I don't want to be hard. Let 'em cry about
me when no one plays up with the rents."
' Did you know," Power asked, " that all the rent
paid you last Christmas was found by that English
reporter — the ' sickener ' ? "
' That's interesting," Newman said, with an air of
preparedness to face any nonsense that came. Guy
liked this duel between two contrasted forbearances.
Power continued : ' The people in England, away
in the north, when they read what he said of the state
we were in, made a fund up among them and sent it to
me, and no sooner had each of the tenants his share of
the cash than off he'd be to your agent to have the rent
paid and be done with it."
" Oh, they're great people. They'd not draw a
pound from the bank — "
" Is it savings, and they eating grass! " The priest
all but broke bounds.
" When they're sick — I believe you. They'd not
walk to Tubber post-office to draw out the bit they owe,
but they'd cadge on poor, soft-hearted lambs over here.
Well, they're free men, and I ain't a tyrant. As long
as I'm paid I don't care how they get it."
" You don't? " the priest asked, with intention.
" I do not."
" You'd not be against it? "
THE MORNING'S WAR 85
" Fd not take the trouble."
" Joyce did, last winter. He put a taboo on the
Northerner man till there wasn't a bed or a car he
could get in the place."
" He's a great mind, is Joyce."
" No, but it's you are magnanimous. Joyce put a
stop to a job that was doing you more good than any
one. Three- fourths of the rents the man from the
Northerner got out of England, and he'd not have
rested until he'd got all, and arrears, and food for the
people, if Joyce could have let him alone. I ask, would
you have him impeded again if he came back
"Well — ? ''' It was Newman's pride that no
passion, however sacred, should keep back from birth
whatever might live to be good business.
" I don't say he will," the priest said, " after the
way he was treated. Only, it's autumn now, the time
English papers can't tell what on earth to be at, and
they wanting to seem fit to read. God knows but we
might find one that would quit asking what age to
marry, or why go to church, and would give people all
the occasion to cry that anybody could want, with
telling the way it is at Cusheen." Something of frailty
did cling to the priest ; for disdains that he mastered
or hid he had to make up to himself with tiny oozings
of irony squeezed out now and again.
Guy noticed; it felt as if he had bitten an olive, the
epicure. Newman's palate told him of no taste; his
mind, though, descried still more clearly what might
turn out to be business, the fine gold of business, calling
86 THE MORNING'S WAR
out to be disengaged from such dross as attended it.
" Well," he said, " it depends — for one thing, on which
rag it is. Here's our friend owns an eighth of a rag
and a little bit over. Now if he'd give the office to all
the wild eighths to behave — "
Guy disclaimed power over the Northerner. Still
he might put up a prayer — he had never done it yet —
to the editor. So much he said, for he liked people's
plans to go forward ; it drew people out.
Newman proved that it did. " What I can not
stand," he said with some fervor, " is having ' human-
ity,' that sort of slime, daubed all over the place. I
don't so much mind if a tramp comes round begging.
You see, it's his game. Even a thief; well, it's all
right to set the dog on him; that's your game ; still, he's
sort of a man and a brother; he's playing to win, same
as yourself. But to have pure philanthropists poking
round — it's the true holy terror. You're not an arch-
angel, thank God " — Guy bowed to the eulogy — " only
I want to know where you come in — your paper, I
mean — the whole boiling of vulgar fractions. Excuse
country manners, but what I say is, if a man's straight
you ought to see where he comes in."
Guy reassured him gaily. Had Newman not heard
Father Power? What could profit a journal more than
to melt readers' hearts and then give them its shoulders
to weep upon, at its usual price ?
" You think, swelpyergud, it's an asset ? ' :
" Sterling," Guy testified gravely.
" Put it at that, for the moment. Next point — ■
who's your man ? Some mad idiot, same as last year,
THE MORNING'S WAR 87
running down us poor landlords ? Or some one who'd
not make a beast of himself, but would take a look
round with Dan Joyce and go into the facts and put it
down fair in the paper, how God hadn't come up to
time with the fruits of the earth, and would man
kindly see to it ? That's good religion. I'm not a pi
man, but I'm not against decent religion."
During this allocution the priest practised virtues,
and Guy's contentment was flecked by his considerate
sense of the priest's pangs of suppression ; so it seemed
to be for the best that the moment's awkward silence
which followed was broken by the all-seeing waiter.
"Pardon, messieurs! The caravan, which arrives!'
He offered the field-glass again and indicated the top
of the Dent Rouge.
It was the moment when June, from their hell of
cold, was to see Louis ascend into heaven. The priest
found the place with the glass. " I see only flashes of
light," he said. " One, then another, another, and
they timed like the ticks of a clock. Is it some kind
of a signal they're making? ' :
The waiter, elate to know better, expounded. ' The
guide's ax. He lifts it; he lets it fall; each time he
lifts it the sun strikes the steel."
Two specks of black, Father Power now saw,
attended the recurrent gleam. Its flashing stopped
suddenly. Then a third speck, Louis, lost till now in
the dazzle he made, was black on the snow. The
priest turned to Guy. " There are three of them in it? '
" My sister, a guide, and — " Browne, somehow,
seemed to need delicate definition.
88 THE MORNING'S WAR
'A porter?' The priest's voice did not lessen
Guv's sense of that need.
'His wicked pride says so," Guy laughed; "an
" Ah ! a relation of yours? "
' An Oxford acquaintance of Newman's and mine.
' Driftwood spars,' you know, ' that meet and pass,' as
my father would say."
" I see," said the priest, and tried to.
Newman was thoughtful too. Through the glass
he watched those three, who were not lame, come to
rest like happy gods, uplifted in visionary sunlight,
throned on the summit of the earth. A pang of ex-
clusion privily bit the unwhining cripple. They were
' in it," not he; it made them "a set," with mutual
bonds of their own, each bond a fresh blackball to him.
June, by herself, was null to him; Browne was null
too ; June as a girl whose rank put her beyond casual
pursuit, Browne as a poor grotesque, a curio of crazy
motives and valuations. Yet the tw T o, so void singly,
hurt him together : such pairs needed severance.
' A writer," Guy was telling the priest. Guy had
had an idea. Not people only but chance, too, had its
humors, its moods, its little fumblings at plans. Let
it, too, be helped to do its germs of amusingness jus-
tice, such as they were. "A novelist, dramatist, cer-
tainly; journalist, possibly." Guy trailed the words
One of the trout rose. "Journalist?" Power
asked; " on the Northerner, is it? "
" Not — yet, that I know of."
THE MORNIXG'S WAR 89
" You mean that he might be? "
Guy gave a shrug that said, " How can one tell, in
this ramshackle world? But perhaps we might try,"
and looked around at Newman. So did the priest.
Their eyes agreed, up to a point. As Newman lowered
the glass Guy began sweetly : " How can you thank
Father Power enough? He suggests the redoubtable
Browne — "
" Browne? ' The priest's voice was sharp.
" Our friend up aloft," Guy explained.
" Yes, yes, yes " — the priest hushed up his own
interjection. "Of course the name's common in
Guy took up his thread. " He suggests that if
Browne were asked nicely he might — with Mr. Joyce's
concurrence — do you that service."
" Eh? " Newman was grimly suspensive.
" The friend," Guy softly tripped on, " of your
youth; the artist — one who — you hoped, did you not?
— might do greater things if he turned, say, to land-
scape, or genre, to pathetic genre, than if, mistaking
his vein, he labored at portraiture."
Newman stared. It piqued Guy to plant notions
in him, floating the seeds to their place on flimsy
attached wings of irony. Newman saw only the thistle-
down flying, and while he thought "Rubbish!' the
Guy babbled on, half turning to Power. " For New-
man's friend, Browne, what a crisis! He stands at
crossways, with uncertain feet, like the hymned
maiden. A step to the right and he makes for the fame
90 THE MORNING'S WAR
of the novelist, satirist, artist in caricature; he lives
in London, in Surrey, in the great world, guying its
types. A step to the left and he may be shunted into
a siding — was it a parting of roads that he stood at
just now? Or of waters? Or railways? Newman, in
your pure prayers be my poor metaphors remembered.
Yet why talk of them in this your moment of distress
— your tragic choice for your friend? No, I turn
back ; I cannot do it ; I withdraw Father Power's sug-
gestion ; I say to you, ' Pause, Newman, pause ; con-
sider how, if the Northerner fasten but one claw in
your friend, his bright genius, from which you have
hoped so much, might be lost to portrait art — wasted,
perhaps, in padding for life those stodgy columns in
the obscure North."
" You mean, if he slobbers all right on a specimen
" You are hot on the trail of my fear."
" They'd take him on as one of their regular
bleaters ? "
" Say roarers. They tell of a dearth of young lions.
Editors scan the horizon of Libya anxiously."
" Well — " Weighing the matter, Newman looked
up again through the glass at the three infinitesimal
images of beatified rest. ' They're taking their time,"
he said almost acidly. " When do you want this thing
The priest hid his joy. " I'll be back at Cusheen
this day fortnight. Any time then." With a casual
air that was very well done he held out a hand for the
glass and looked through it. " It's desperately tiring
THE MORNINGS WAR 91
work for your sister," he said to Guy, putting it
" Well, we go home to-morrow," said Guy.
" Is it early to-morrow? "
" The afternoon."
" That's the way. Then there'll be time for your
sister to hear all the news of Cusheen. It was for it
she brought me."
The deuce she did, Newman reflected. Could no-
body let his affairs alone? Still, there were points in
this precious plan. It stank, in a way; a sniveling,
puling business, it reeked of ' good works " in the
sniffiest of inverted commas. But rents were rents,
come in how they might ; land your fish in a butterfly-
net, it would still be salmon. And caricature, that new
and beastly menace, might be kept off. And that little
gang of two up there might be pretty well broken up if
Browne could really be shipped off into the North,
where no one was heard of, and whites, he fancied,
soon sank almost into natives. So the three below,
with their variously mixed and qualified cross-wishes
and half-intentions, struck up between them a cold
league to mature that arrangement, and meanwhile the
sun left the tip of the Dent Rouge and the three on it
took motion and vanished towards the pit of shadow
"Even so quickly may one catch the plague?"
Twelfth Night, I. v.
IT was noon next day before June was alone. From
the inn she could see Browne flat on a rock, in the
flannels of ease, bathing in mist-filtered sunshine. She
had a mission and went to him straight, defying her-
self to find it hard, or furtively sweet: that way would
sentiment lie, the fen of treaclesome slime, a vain trap
to set for clear spirits. She would prove that : one clear
spirit, with something to ask of another, would ask
erectly, with fronting eyes.
She came to it soon. ' You've seen Father Power? '
He laughed. " Have I not ? And your brother, and
New r man. Such pulling of wires! — the whole inn
He was easier now to talk to ; people are, with whom
you have faced hardness, even in play. Yet June's
embassage halted. Before she came out she had known
what to say ; it was framed in her mind, and the words
picked. But now mere improvisations pushed in,
shoving aside those accredited envoys. ' You write? '
— an abrupt : You write?" — was one of the inter-
" I try," he said, a little abashed at the stand-and-
deliver tone under which she hid tremors : he did not
THE MORNING'S WAR 93
" To write — what ? " The thought crossed her that
" Father or Guy would not have said that "; but she
stuck to her question. Why not? She had not read
a word of his writing.
" That's the trouble," he said.
" Yes, between the gorgeous impossibilities."
" Impossibilities? "
" Pretty well."
"What are they?" She was sitting; she or her
dress made a settling gesture; her clothes seemed to
say, " Let us go into this."
He caught her mood cheerfully. "Well; number
one — you may write to — to bring news."
" What the great ones bring — the big ideas that no
one had thought of — new ways of taking things —
"Why not try that?" She smiled, with a waken-
ing sense of seeing what he could not see. Did he not
know that he had the touch — that he was king and
could cure the evil and raise eyes and ears from the
" To bring news you must have it. I haven't."
" I see." She laughed low, with a quick pleasure.
His self-undiscernment was like a child's, and a child
can be helped and not help others only. " Well, and
the other impossible? "
" That's to bring what isn't news now, though it
was — to tell people things that they heard long ago,
but don't know, they were told them so dully."
94 THE MORNINGS WAR
" That mountains are high, and that one sees from
them ? "
" Yes, and all the copy-book headings shining dis-
coveries, unexplored islands — "
" Sighted from mastheads at dawn." Her face
sparkled: her mind took the road with his; it ran on
" And even one's country worth liking ; "' he fol-
lowed, wondering. Why, she could understand any-
thing, even the simplest things. Wondering, he looked
at her. She had her hands round her knees as she
sat ; one of them held a raised sunshade. Her hat of
brown straw had a great brim, not closely woven; jets
of light pierced it; and now the sunshade, inattentively
held while the talk grew eager, drooped to one side
and would half recover itself, and droop again, so
that over her face light and shade flickered and chased
till her eyes were like water dancing in Venice between
sunlit walls, and her cheeks like ripe wheat across
which a wind puffs fleet shadows.
Time stopped, for him, as he looked ; but to her his
long look was physical touch, yet not loathsome. It
shook her to find that; she had to withdraw herself,
not from the look, but from her own abashed sense
that nothing within her resented it. " I have two
countries," she said, just to say something, to make
"England and — ? " There his voice hung for a
moment, lingering out the lease the unfinished speech
gave of a right to gaze at those scudding chequers of
light and half-light.
THE MORNING'S WAR 95
Again she broke it off. " Ireland."
" I have them too. Do they fight in yon? '
"No," she said offhand; and then, with less sure-
ness, " No. But I was never in Ireland."
" Xor I. And yet, isn't this odd? When yon speak
it seems as if I had come to some place that I know
better than England."
"Yon feel that, too? v They eyed each other
gravely, like children exchanging the marvels of their
vast experience, and so the sunshade swayed in a
slacker hand and the gleam and shadow flitted the
faster over her face till all that was she in it. all that
he would have liked to disengage from that fugitive
interposed fantasy, showed like a bright thing sunk in
rippled clear water; it baffled and broke and challenged
and eluded. In their unashamed wonder they looked
and looked on, with the web already forming over their
eyes that Nature, to gain her own splendid and pitiless
immortality, weaves from the red of the rose and the
honey of heather to mesh into its service the uncon-
scious senses of her soon-spent butterflies and
" How much are you Irish ? " he asked, in a voice
that, since he last spoke, had traveled and had ex-
" Half. It was my mother. And you — how
much ? "
" Oh, ninety-nine hundredths, no doubt."
She marveled. Only "no doubt"! And that dis-
missive " Oh " of indifference. " Surely your name
isn't Irish," she said.
96 THE MORNINGS WAR
" The odd one hundredth's name ; some trooper of
James — or Elizabeth — lost in the bogs."
" Don't you want to find out? " She chafed at his
incurious tone; it was part of a naive classlessness in
him, not like her own men's old Whig pose of out-
wardly equal membership in an implied republic of
the elect, but something that seemed, without any
malign intention, to show up that quaint concessive
irony as a mere masking and mincing class pride. Guy
and her father had felt it through all Browne's cru-
dities ; it had attracted them; in it their passionless
equity saw a thing they had tried to do, only it was
done better; and they were not jealous. But June was
for them. Why, if they walked on hidden cork legs
of race conceit, should any one else have flesh limbs?
"Couldn't you hunt up old records?" she too perti-
naciously asked; "old registers — the births and
" Ours were burnt with the churches, my father
said, in the Penal times."
June said, "You were Catholics, then?" her face
" All, till my father. He changed." The words
put out that light, and so he felt like a boor and he had
to go on saying something or other; to leave it there
seemed too blunt. "I don't know about it exactly;
my father would not talk about it — about religion at
all. He was generous. He wanted to leave me free."
" Poor little boy ! " she exclaimed, with a little
flinch of the lip at this picture of infant liberty.
" Oh, I was all right," he said sharply, disclaiming
THE MORNING'S WAR 97
pathetic interest ; his face was hot at the thought that
he might have seemed to claim it; that were indeed to
be the sorriest sneak of emotionalism — and a fraud,
too; what day of his childhood had not been happy
At his coldness the look shrank with which she had
spoken, a look like that of a friendly stranger bending
over a child whom some one has left free to earn itself
food. So he read it ; it seemed oddly easy to read, like
a page in a book known long ago. Oh, yes, of course
he remembered ; his mother had looked like that once.
It was after his father's death, when she was slipping
back terrified towards the fold that he knew they had
left together in their young courage. She had, by a
coincidence, used the same words — had said " Poor
little boy ! " as she kissed him good-night at a time
when, as he guessed, some children said prayers. And
now he must talk again, and that lightly, to soften the
seeming rebuff — what a bungler he was, and his talk a
mere train of efforts to mend blunder with blunder!
So the next moment he felt he had been too personal,
for he had said, " It's curious; you have a look of my
mother — a lift of the eyes."
She laughed mercifully. " As if the lower lid had
to be climbed by the pupil, for it to see over. Guy
always laughs at that trick. But you're wrong. It's
my mother that gave me it." There a pause left her
graver. " It was a wish of hers made me come out to
you now." He looked a question. She added, ' No;
she is dead long ago."
" So is mine."
98 THE MORNING'S WAR
She waited, feeling her way. He fetched no polite
rubbish to fill up the space. When blanks of silence
came, in the talk that ensued, they were left to run on
until words came again of themselves, as nature lets
the underground reservoirs refill at ease for each jet
of her intermittent streams. Nor did any abruptness
of either's trouble the other much. Swimming to-
gether, the thoughts of each dived where they would
and came up where they would.
She cast back to where they had started. ' You've
seen Father Power? "
" Yes, and all the intriguers. They have a great
scheme. They all want different things, and two of
them — oh, not your brother — are like dog and cat;
they stiffen with hating each other, at sight. And yet
they make out that if I came into the game, and also
some editor up in the North, they'll all win."
" So shall I." She got it out bravely. " I came to
ask you to do it."
They waited, and thought worked. They told
you," she presently asked, " all about the starvation? '
" Only a little. It seemed to — pain Newman."
She emitted scorn like a physical ray, a shaft of
fierce light with visible edges. As soon as she could
she spoke restrainedly.
" Households of people not sleeping all night with
the pain of being hungry. Babies crying and crying,
the way babies cry for a moment or two in nurseries
while a nurse rushes to warm the food for them — only,
those babies cry on and on, through whole days.
Nothing to give them. Their mothers just wait and
THE MORNING'S WAR 99
hear the crying grow weaker." Before the angry blaze
was quite sunk in her eyes her mouth was tremulous at
sight of her own circumstantial vision of these mis-
eries. He thought her arms moved a little, in some
rudimentary gesture of nascent instinct, as if to draw
in and pillow a small and troubled head on her breast ;
the unfixed opalesque luster of girlhood deepened
itself for the moment to one clear glow, constant and
warm, the radiance of something that, like the sun,
would mother all children all over the world.
"How you know the place!" Browne said
" In a way — yes. I'm never to see it, though. Oh,
I can't tell you why," she said, to his look of surprise;
she straightened and hardened a little, as some people
of spirit do when they call up affronting recollections.
An instant of this and again she had herself in hand
and could make for her aim. " But I was to help the
people there always — my mother wished that — and to
get other people to help them. Will you? J
What could he do but one thing? She looked at
him full, with a noble, frank importunacy, unflinching
and unwheedling; the effort was proudly forced to
look effortless, almost ; only the slightest ruffling of the
beauty of her petitioning lips betrayed it; roses full
blown and brave, a little vexed by the wind, had that
look, he thought. What could he do? Merely to say
" Yes " was nothing. He lied hard to make her be-
lieve that it was not she that had turned him ; his will
to unload her of debt to him rushed out to meet half-
way her resolve to incur it.
100 THE MORNING'S WAR
She saw, and had to give, too, what she had, if only
a confidence. ' Some one," she plunged at it, " did
these poor people a wrong; some one close to my
mother; at least, one of them was; there were two."
She broke off again, with a moment's lapse into small
petulance, that of her old, unfired days. She said,
" Oh, you can't understand; you aren't a Catholic."
Then ruth pricked her again for turning on him the
roughness of her own wrestle with her own task.
' Oh. I don't mean that; only, it was a baseness. I
don't know it all — I don't even know the worst per-
son's name. I was not to. Nobody spoke of them. It
was as if they'd been hung for murder."
He could not guess ; he scarcely tried to ; little the
whole enigma mattered to him, except for the flame
and the clouds that it brought to the girl's face, and the
combats that this and that impulse of frankness and
shame and pride and impatience lost or won on that
beautiful battlefield. How she changed! Her color
was changed; not the tint fixed, at least for an hour, on
cherries or pinks, but a rising and falling, a beating
pulse of tone, not beating by rule — or only by this one,
that through every change the blood was true to the
emotion; the lights on neck and brow signaled can-
didly. More; the flush was the very emotion; the look,
disdainful or kind, was thought itself; body and soul
and mind in her ran into one, like the thing a song
means and the way it is said and the tune that it is
sung to ; like the last note of a cadence the least of the
curls of sunned hair on her neck could thrill his sense
with the splendor of all of her. Looking at one, he
THE MORNING'S .WAR 101
asked, without caring to know, " Had they owned
the land, those two, and sold the poor wretches to
Newman ? "
"If that were all ! No. There have always been
Newmans out at Cusheen, and rainy years, and blights
on the potatoes. They're nothing. Oh, what a brute
I am ! " and her eyes, that had flung his suggestion off,
lit on him like a touch on the arm from a self-humbling
friend, " and you going there to help them against all
these plagues — of course they do matter; why, they're
the only ones my mother and I ever helped them with,
either. We owed it them ; they gave up freely a lot of
things — things they could live on — things that had
come from those — oh, can't vou see? ' She seemed to
cry out upon some slowness of wit in him that would
not abridge these pangs of revelation.
He made haste to say, : Yes, the Judas — some
Judas, with silver," not really guessing at all, nor car-
ing, except to smooth out of her forehead three lines
that had creased it strainedly, dragging the skin. As
to this mighty secret, why, the truth about other peo-
ple's family secrets was surely the dullest of all mice
born to mountains. But she was auriferous soil, the
true gold under dust; plaintive or cross about trifles,
royally genial when tried, her face, that would scowl
and flinch at the squeak of a chair on the floor, had
cleared like a sky when she had spied danger. Full
face she was a right Hebe, with that benign roundness
of outline, the curve of the chin sweeping round, soft
and full, from ear to ear. But as soon as she half
turned to profile, the Hebe was gone, with her mere
.102 THE .MORNING'S WAR
fruit-like plumpness; now, from the point of the chin
there sprang up to the further ear a curve noble and
strong as that line of sustinent, continent grace, the
outward stoop and lift of a vase or a sailing-ship's
bow or a column's capital. Rounding the chin it drew
in to a slight concave in passing the tip of the mouth,
and then, as if collecting its strength, it filled and
reached puissantly out and did not draw back till it
held the modeled mass of the brow resting supreme
on its glorious bracket ; glorious always, awesomely
queenly at times, as when she had said, " Can't you
see? " and had seemed to retreat into twilight thickets
of family chagrin, or of hurt faith, or of daughterly
loyalty. All twilit woods are enchanted if you peer
in from without. This one held menaces, even, in
some of the dim vistas, down which the girl receded
at times, beyond grasp or sight, a dryad whose oaks
might be everything to her, and no man anything. But
now she was clement again.
They talked plans — how he might have to go to
Brabburn, to see this editor-body of Guy's; Guy would
write to that worthy ; they both felt sure — so airy is
youth — that he must be a worthy, with all that the
word implies of bleared sight and numbed tentacles.
Were it so, Browne would still come back to London
before he went to Ireland — should the good man in the
North indeed desire him to. Then Browne must
certainly come to Up-Felday to stay for a night at
least. Her father and Guy, she said, insisted. June
was wholly the hostess now; she was affable with a
will. She acted as if for a wager, or rather by way of
THE MORNING'S WAR 103
argument with herself. If she were really shaken by
something in this man, could she press hospitality on
him as frankly as on any common ' person worth
knowing " ? No, clearly. And so she would prove she
" She is not fair to outward view
As many cities be."
BRABBURN is not a pretty city; nor is it Arcady
around her. When steam was first used to turn
wheels, a rash of towns broke out on the county's clear
moorland skin. The rash is almost confluent now ; all
that is left of " country " for ten miles round Brabburn
is patches of sooty grass going bald mangily, spots here
and spots there, some scraggy and worried remains
of thorn hedges, their failing powers of disjunction
eked out with barbed wire, and some wide puddles in
which, no doubt, cows of pastoral idyll, knee-deep
among water-lilies, mused on the hot days of a cen-
tury ago; now they are silted up with Swiss milk tins,
old pans, and barrel-hoops sticking half out. At night
all the main aggregations of urban light are tied to
one another by unbroken strings of lamps, and up and
down these slanting lines of beaded light the electric
tramcars flit, rather like shooting stars, visiting those
By day some parts of the earth are seen to have
been disemboweled in mining for coal, and part of the
entrails left to lie on the body's outside in a mess that
has caked hard and blackish ; the rain that ran down
the sides of these heaps, as Browne neared Brabburn,
made gullies or furrows of paler dirt-color, much as
THE MORNING'S WAR 10.5
sweat does on the face of a sweep. For the last four
miles the train ran level over low roofs, a mean sea
of ridged ripples of slate. Peering down into the
troughs between these he could spy now and then,
when the wind tore a hole in their lids of damp smoke,
a girl with a shawl on her head, or some whirled rag
of a child, jug in hand, holding back hard while the
storm blew her clothes before her over a shining wet
pavement. Clothes-lines, now empty and whipping the
air, crossed most of these streets, proclaiming that in
unconquerable minds cleanliness held desperately out
against the whole investing league of sodden air, sun-
lessness and hanging reek. " Many the wondrous
things, but the most wondrous is man." Browne,
compassionate but not depressed, hummed the old
descant of happy surprise that is fresh as often as
spring, and young' again whenever any one who has
read it feels the stir of his own youth.
At the train's last stop, two miles before Brabburn,
the door flew instantly open, and through this sluice
there surged into the carriage, with jubilant howls of
" Play up, Brabburn! " and " Good old City! " a spate
of pasty adolescence. They seemed to move not by
separate personal impulse; rather, to be molecular
units of tumbled froth in some turbid irruption of a
liquid seeking lower levels. All wore the same foot-
ball favor; their caps were cocked alike; they all
smoked cigarettes, and did it with the same technique ;
when the first ecstasy of capture was spent, each
seemed to let fall a slackened, but not weakly-made,
lower lip till there spilt over its edge, like a child's
106 THE MORNING'S WAR
wilfully unmastered saliva, a dribble of gross, but not
lascivious expletion, decking the tale of how Brabburn
City ought to have won, and how gracelessly Bowton
had beaten them, how venal the referee's judgments
("Talk aboul whistlin'!" "Bloody tram-driver!")
had proved him, how tragically Brabburn's paladin,
1 1 itch, had been out of form.
" Itch," one of them suddenly turned to Aubrey,
" 'e's one o' them fast lads, an' last week 'e bashed 'is
girl an' got a week an' only come out at eight this
mornin'. The seven nights on the boards done 'im no
good." He spoke as if Browne and he had been long
acquainted. And then Browne saw a thing he had
missed — that none of these youths knew the rest five
minutes ago, any more than he did. He had not heard
in the South this unhampered talk, with its instant
assumptions of some universal interests in life, and
also of every one's fitness to be accosted at sight as at
least a probationary comrade.
Censure passed on from Bowton's players to Bow-
ton's friends in the crowd. " Rough devils, they Bow-
ton fellies ! " said one critic, looking down as from
Versailles on an impolite world.
" 'Ear 'em taak, too ! ' said another. " Gawd
amighty, it's bleedin' awful."
A chorus of "Ah's " assented. Somebody went one
better. " Taak abaht Bowton!' he said. " Owd-
ham's place fer roughyeds. I see last train out, fer
Owdham way, Saturday neet. One chap come to
bookin'-office window. ' Gie's a ticket,' 'e says.
1 Wheer fer?' says clerk. ' Whoam,' says 'e.
THE MORNING'S WAR 107
' Wheer's 'ome?' says clerk. ' What th' 'ell's that to
thee? ' says t' roughyed. ' Righto! ' says clerk, ' 'ere's
tha ticket. I can see thee's fra Owdham.'
All laughed, saluting a truth. Browne was en-
chanted ; the prospect was widening; new social land-
scape, plane behind plane of unaffected manners,
opened out into the far distance. " Owdham's aal
reet," another went on, " but was th' ever at Blackston?
They don't mak' folk at aal — not to caal whole folk —
at Blackston. Nobbut offal an' boilin' pieces."
The talk passed to whippets, wild-fowling, rlower-
shows, contests between brass bands. Browne saw
another thing then; under their uniform of manner
and outward habit they could be furiously diverse.
Every one swore, contradicted, was bursting to back
some preference of his own. And then again they
would come together, naively, in some sudden unison
of gusto. A youth took out of the crown of his hat
a single bloom of some uncommon lily; he handed
it round. The connoisseurs wagged silent heads.
" There's a lot of work in them petals," the owner
claimed, and the others said " Ah! " allowing to Na-
ture's fret-saw the precious forced praise of experts,
not courtiers. Then, in the harshest, unsentimental
way, as if he were cursing a sudden twinge of pain in
his stomach, another youth interjected : — " Eh, but a'
wish March throstles 'ud start whistlin' ! " and. once
more, all said assentively, " Ah ! "
Browne shivered with pleasure. Northern England
was opening before him — the mills amid heather; the
soot on peat-moss and bracken ; the droves of " hands ' :
108 THE MORNING'S WAR
herded to work and back with whistle and hooter;
rocks of the prime sticking out in streets of slums at
the foot of high fells, where the townspeople seem at
first like so many house-sparrows twittering samely
from urban eaves, but break now and then into speech
that thrills like the unexpected call of a grouse; the
sane earthen humor and harsh pith of mind : the so-
Brabburn; the train stopped; here, too, were deli-
cious differences. The cabs were of the dark ages.
Browne's hansom, by two modes of jolting, reported
by turns two kinds of stone setts, the one small, rough,
iron-hard, the other large, softer, and worn into holes
that must be like small fonts; like fonts, too, these
cavities seemed to have been treasured. Yet this was
a city of wealth, spirit, great history, sometimes of
national leadership. Clearly it had its own notions
of what was worth having. Good place! Browne
was prepared to be kind to it. After all, why should
not some good come out of the provinces? Browne,
alone with his glee in the lightless cab, made an ex-
ultant grimace. His thoughts ran ahead ; they probed
for other surprises that might come. He was going
now to visit the Northerners editor, Mullivant. Mul-
livant might be uncommon? Not very likely, though.
An editor — that meant banality. No, it was hopeless.
Aubrey had never seen the Northerner, but he per-
ceived that it was hopeless. Still, a provincial editor
might have a house good to wake up in; a lawn to
look out on, red with the night's fall of beech leaves,
THE MORNING'S WAR 109
perhaps; a long view, possibly, up to dim Pennine
Revolving these things he was dropped on a grudged
ledge of footpath under a cliff of bald brick. Was the
cabman sure? They had not left the station three
minutes. Yes, that there was Middleton House, the
driver said, with a temperate note of contempt. White
faces, niched in dark shawls, flitted in and out at the
door, each of their owners adding an infinitesimal in-
crement of polish to the varnished dirt-stain at elbow
level on the yellow brick. One of them passed to the
cabman, now paid and swinging up to his box, an
audible jibe at the new castaway on such rocks as a
Brabburn tenement block. The cabman's wit reacted
with ribald fertility; Browne enjoyed it while climbing
the three pair of stairs, half in and half out of the
building, to Mullivant's rooms. No, Mr. Mullivant
wasn't in yet, said a middle-aged slattern, who lived
in the tenement next his and said that she " did " for
him ; she had come with the key when Browne knocked.
She let him in, first making sure that he was licensed
to come, lighted the lamp, introduced him with a ges-
ture to the general contents of the interior and left
Browne looked round, charmed. Life never failed;
its surprises bettered your hopes of its infinite vivacity.
The room was big and was all book-lined, except
where Samuel Palmer's tiny etching of Milton's lark
rising at dawn looked fair as the one star in a sky. A
terrier, curled up on the hearth like a whiting cooked,
glanced up out of sleep, whined out a loud yawn and
110 THE MORNING'S WAR
re-imbedded its head in its tail, disgusted that this was
not Mullivant. There were two tables and three
chairs. What else the room held looked as if it were
there because it had not been noticed. In a brown
Delft jar in one corner a parched sheaf of bulrushes
rustled dry in the draughts that soughed under the
door and puffed up the carpet in traveling patches of
convexity as they traversed the floor.
Browne snuffed up the scent of a mind that took its
own way absorbedly. There were books of price — the
Second Folio, Keats in first editions, the Vicar of
Wakefield the same, a Baskerville Virgil — and there
was that one heaven's window of a print, monoga-
mously loved, and there was the shocking carpet undu-
lating unimpeded; a wet gust whipped the panes, the
curtains bellied, the terrier rose as if levered up by the
blast, revolved twice on his basic area, still in the shape
of a couchant capital C, and again, on a lull, collapsed
into unquiet sleep; the bulrushes huddled and shud-
dered with small, sere crepitations. Mullivant must
have put them there five or ten years ago. Oh, happy
absence of mind ! Strung up to his pitch of to-day,
Browne could see what success in life meant — to be
taken up, blood, brain and heart, the whole man, into
some passion as strong as lust, only good, that will use
you up in a tranced unawareness of anything else as
being worth while.
Soon Mullivant came, not as people come into rooms
now, but as they did in the first tale of adventure that
your father told you, your thrilled expectancy robing
them. He was forty-three; he was six feet tall;
THE MORNING'S WAR 111
though lean, he weighed thirteen stone; his head thrust
and peered a little, as if his sight were shortening.
The body's air of decayed magnificence was confirmed
by its clothes, which were of fine stuff, finely cut in a
fashion dead for several years; coat and collar pro-
claimed the date of their owner's last note of what
other men wore. His face at first nearly appalled;
the beetling of his forehead merged on menace; the
quite black eyes questioned you grimly, keeping you off
meanwhile as with pitchforks ; and a strong, ugly nose
— the one ugly feature — and mighty chin contributed
liberally to the sum of awesomeness. Then, of a
sudden, all the awesomeness broke down. Some comic
vision, evoked by a phrase in their greetings, tickled
this dragon; his head flung back with a roar of laugh-
ter like an enormous boy's; the whole redoubtable
enigma of the face was solved into large, genial ele-
ments — huge good-will ; huge simplicity ; some shy-
ness, not egoistic, but humble; eager respect, like a
child's, for the unpacked contents of the next moment
or of a new friend.
They supped at a space cleared of books, talking,
of course, about Oxford at first, as both had been
there; and, as Browne had been there but the other
day, he talked about the men of genius in the place,
his good friends, the sinewy minds of junior dons and
the broad wings of the last moment's poets. Mulli-
vant listened and liked it : these ardors — so his look
said — ought to go on ; and Browne saw, in Mullivant's
mirroring eye and sneerless laugh, the young Theban
eagles fall on their feet, perhaps in the Treasury, and
112 THE MORNINGS WAR
no harm done, or build their eyries, like temple-haunt-
ing martlets, amid the Virginia creepers of rectories.
The meat, cooked by the slattern you heard of, was
not distinguishably mutton or beef, but just cooked
meat, something generic, that might have been the un-
flavored basis of all the kindly individual meats of
the earth. But both the eaters had harvesters' vitals,
and there was good wine, dating back like Mullivant's
coat, and talk flowed with it.
'You've written before? ' : Mullivant asked when
they had made friends and slowly fetched round to
business, with both pipes alight.
Browne's face must have grown a little expressive
at this. Had his firstling, his novel, not penetrated
" Oh, your yarn? " Mullivant laughed — a kind and
shy minor laugh that he had; it said and did many
things for him — met the shyness or fumbling of other
people halfway and comprehended all sorts of things
and made all kinds of allowances. " Yes; most jolly.
I liked your cheek in spinning it out of high spirits,
like that, without any observation behind 'em. All
right for once, you know; only — " Again the small
laugh let the point in unwoundingly. " Do write an-
other, some day, about real people. But what I was
meaning was stuff in our line."
Hurriedly Browne digested the note on his master-
piece. Yes, that was what he had tried to keep from
himself when people had praised it for what it was not
— that it was really no novel at all ; he had just let fly,
in the joy of his youth, and bluffed them. Praise
THE MORNING'S WAR 113
tasted good, and yet it was better to have this fellow-
workman's undeceived eye seeing how little one came
to, so far.
"Articles, essays, you know?" Mullivant asked.
"You've brought something? Good. Read — do you
mind? I'll not look at you."
What Browne now read out he had written in Lon-
don last night. Mullivant's invitation had asked for
" specimens " of his handiwork. Browne, surveying
his own past magnoperations, and musing on what
these newspapers were, had found in his desk nothing
so unclean and common that it could be trusted to tell
with an editor. Stooping to conquer, he took a trite
theme of the day, and, half ashamed and half gleeful,
penned on the spot some sagacious remarks not too
searching, he hoped, for " the general reader's " wits,
nor too nicely minted for that oaf's sense of form. The
stuff was certainly not quite, quite — so he felt while he
blotted the last page; still, some kinds of jeweler's
work could only be done in alloys : with an inward sigh
he owned it.
He now recited this goodly creation, sitting, to do
it, in the full light of the shaded lamp. Mullivant,
sunk in an arm-chair, in shadow, his face to the fire,
was perfectly still for the first few minutes. He then
shifted uneasily, like the terrier in the draught. Then
he quiesced again, for a shorter time, but his next
movement verged on convulsion, the springs of his
chair squeaking abruptly, as if all the thirteen stone
had fallen back on them together, after writhing or
bounding up two or three inches in uncontrollable
1U THE MORNING'S WAR
agony. Browne read on, but wished he were out of
the lamplight. Once, at a paragraph's end, he saw the
firelit silhouette of Mullivant's face staring at a fixed
point high on the wall as though he had toothache and
wanted to mesmerize himself into apathy. Again, at
some phrase in which Browne hoped he had caught the
tone of the trade, the audience let out a grunt of dis-
relish, not loud but deep. Browne shirked nothing
of what he had brought on himself. It was much. He
felt that a whole world was gaping at him, posed there
in limelight to show off his emptiness.
At last silence fell ; it lasted some moments, with
Mullivant still collapsed in his chair, the leaping light
of tiny flames dappling his crag of a face, and Browne
drawn back from the lamp, for darkness to cover him.
Speech had to come, soon or late. It came late. As
Mullivant's face turned at length, a coal fell in and
threw up a bigger flame, and Browne could see, with
poignant gratitude, the extraordinary ruthfulness of
his eyes. He began, " My dear boy," with a kind of
wrathful affection, as if a visitation endured together
had ripened friendship swiftly, " don't let me ever see
you do that again."
The patient muttered contritely ; he " feared he had
not got the tone " — he " had read newspapers too
Mullivant groaned. 'Too little! Within one half-
hour you've said that something or other advanced by
leaps and bounds, and something else should be more
honored in the breach than the observance, that some
one was out of touch with the age and somebody not in
THE MORNINGS WAR 115
contact with vital realities. A's taste was ' execrable,'
and B's satire ' scathing.' and C's public virtue a ' van-
ishing point,' and D's judgment ' conspicuous by its
absence.' And you think you don't read the papers! '
He worked himself up to a frenzy of tender brutality,
pulling and throwing about the misfitting vesture of
ready-made words in which Browne had dressed him-
self, thinking, poor wretch, to have the right uniform.
Mullivant first stripped away the re-dyed old feathers
of speech, the " mute, inglorious Miltons," the
" Frankenstein's monsters," the " Pyrrhic victories,"
the " Sisyphean labors," the " Homeric laughter."
" What d'you want with calico flowers from dust-
holes? " he cried, as he stamped on them. " ' French
esprit/ too, good Lord ! and ' German thoroughness,'
and ' Parthian darts,' and ' Chinese stagnation.' Why,
it's an international exhibition of used fireworks."
Then he ripped up the seams, or what should have
been seams, the pastings and tackings together with
sham-naive " ands " and " fors," and " as regards "
and "in relation to"; and, this done, he visited the
fundamental imbecilities of structure, the way that
clause knocked down clause and page unsaid page and
the whole came to nothing.
Browne felt naked, and yet, strangely, he did not
mind now. There was a saving kindness, almost a
praise, in the very way the stripping was done. It
seemed to imply that he was able to afford it; that
clothes were not the whole of him; that, these gone,
there would be something left which could see what
rubbish was and eschew it. In the half-light that is
116 THE MORNING'S WAR
good for confidences each could see that the other was
sorry and friendly, the battered trash uniting him who
had made to him who had rent it.
" Of course, if you want to be liked," said Mulli-
vant, tranquilly now, " you should write like that, just.
People love it. It's merely a fad not to give it 'em.
Sport, though — to make 'em read just what they hate."
" ' How if 'a will not stand '? " Browne delightedly
" Make him. Use your wit till people will take it
from you that they're fools almost as well as they take
it from lickspittles that they're all Solons. They'll
want lies and then you must sharpen and sharpen pre-
cision till it will tickle like irony. Or they'll want
whooping and brag, and then you must still down your
quietness till, with the blether that's going on all round,
it tells like an epigram." Mullivant pulled up, some-
what abashed; was he giving a lecture?
" They do stand it ? " Browne asked, wondering.
Mullivant made a grimace. " Of course, trash must
pay best, for a while yet — the whole of our time, no
doubt. And of course we have owners to feed, and
wolves to repel from several large, green doors in
" I know." Browne had seen Guy gracefully
browsing on three-sixteenths of what was left over
after the current expenses of Mullivant's honor had
been subtracted from current profits on Mullivant's
That was all right, for Mullivant. He was well
enough pleased that his fellow-owners — his own share
THE MORNING'S WAR 117
was a single sixteenth — should eat up their twenty
thousand pounds a year in peace, a good long way off,
and leave him and a friend to their whim of keeping
the paper decent. His life in a slum was quite cheap,
as well as delightful. But finance was not to be talked
about with this boy. Their talk ran again on the sport
of palming coherence and continence off on customers
who had come out to buy rant or slops — " ringing a
pig's nose, all over again, every morning, to drag him
along, and making him pay a penny a day for the
ring," Mullivant called it, but could not disguise his
love of the pig — " a most dear beast he is, really —
bound to turn out a god if we don't bedevil him
Then Mullivant really let himself go; his talk, as he
warmed, gained a headlong brilliancy; gleaming and
turbid, it tumbled along in flood, with audacious
ellipses, leaps from point to point, rapid assumptions
that this or that need not be labored, that compre-
hension was waiting, ready, in Browne's mind, needing
only a hail. And — good miracle of mental comrade-
ship — waiting it was ; the taxed wits in Browne girt
themselves up to keep pace, and did it; they rose to
it, even rose off the known ground and looked around
over new, exciting expanses with eyes that found they
could transcend old view-limiting hills. The firelight
flickered lower and mellower, quickening the adventur-
ing spirit. Browne's made long voyages. Once, at a
pause, he noticed the storm was over outside. He
looked at the clock. Three hours had passed, as
though in climbing a mountain. He said so.
118 THE MORNING'S WAR
" You care about mountains? Come for a walk in
the Pennine to-morrow," said Mullivant.
" Bruntwood is coming," Mullivant said as he lit
his guest bedward. " You ought to know Brunt-
" Your business manager, didn't you say? ' :
" Yes, it's he runs the paper, really."
That nobleness made simple as a fire."
W. B. Yeats.
IN the dead waste and middle of the night some
madman in wooden shoes came stamping along
the street and knocked furiously at every door. So it
seemed to Browne at his own violent awakening. Ten
minutes' silence ensued. Nobody seemed to resent the
outrage. Then two more wooden shoes could be
heard shuffling out of a house and pegging away down
the street ; others issued at lessening intervals until the
darkness, now blenching, dinned with the hammering,
tapping and slithering of wood on stone; the dots of
sound, running together, became a line and a thick
one. Then a turn came; the din slackened, the dots
were separable again. And then, when all seemed to
be subsiding there burst forth the strangest jangle
of cacophonies, a monstrous jostle of steam-blown
whistles, hooters, drones, sirens, buzzers, some a few
hundreds yards off, others a mile or two, all of them
shrilling, howling, or desperately holding out one note,
as if armadas of sinking ships were bellowing for help
in a fog.
Browne, sleepy and rueful, still had to laugh. It
seemed like some vast and primitive jest, a gigantic
skit on Oxford's bird-like clangor of morning bells.
120 THE MORNING'S WAR
Then, still and small through the uproar, a clock
struck, and one by one the dissonant choristers threw
up their parts, some with the unashamed bathos of a
note of deflation, some with a strident last snort flung
out ferociously on the aching air; one, that had not
struck in till the prime of discord was past, completed
its truculent cadence as a solo. Two or three last pairs
of clogs were heard fleeing down the street, as from
some pursuant wrath, and, next thing that he knew,
Browne was once more being awakened, this time by
Mullivant's rap on his door.
Day was come, blank and chill. Behind the squat
houses, and ten times as high, there bulked rectangular
frameworks looking like travesties of festal palaces,
all window, with every pane ablaze in each long tier of
their eight or nine piled stories. Breakfast done the
two walked to the station; Bruntwood would meet
them there. As they walked Mullivant solved for
Aubrey the riddle set him at dawn, explained the
" knocker-up's " trade and the separate voice with
which each mill or yard gave its own army the word
to fall in.
" Another marvel of ours — here ! ' Over the side
of a bridge Mullivant showed a little river running
thirty feet lower, between house walls, and still break-
ing over the rock of its bed as it had done when a
trout-stream. But it was opaque and stank, and it was
light blue. Aubrey stared.
" Orange to-morrow, perhaps," said Mullivant.
" Yesterday, mauve. It's too often mauve. Poor
THE MORNINGS WAR 121
" Does nobody murmur? " Browne asked.
"At all the mauve?"
"And the stink?"
" The old grumbler, the Northerner, does. It's
illegal, of course. But half the bench pollute rivers
themselves. So when a friend poisons all the fish in a
stream, or kills a few children with typhoid, they fine
him a shilling and sneer at the prosecutor. Bruntwood
noticed the game and gave me no rest till we set on the
Mullivant waved a hand towards the azure filth.
" Si monimentum quaeris " — he laughed. " Still, it
had some effect. It got Bruntwood blackballed at
Rose's, a club here."
That loitering almost lost them the train. It was
crowded. Brabburn Races had ended last night and
bookmakers, tipsters, three-card men and more direct
thieves were homing to London and Birmingham.
Browne and Mullivant parted, each to jump in where
he could; they would rejoin at Howden, the moorland
station for which they were bound; no doubt they
would meet Bruntwood there.
Browne found he had plumped into the thick of a
debate. His entry reduced its heat for one moment,
like a spoon plunged into boiling water; the last comer
into a full compartment seems to be, by some law of
our nature, an alien and suspect, until by lapse of time
and the silent operations of the soul he becomes in-
sensibly a brother-in-arms against any yet later en-
trant. But any warmth lost was restored swiftly.
122 THE MORNING'S WAR
Those were the happy first weeks of the Boer War, so
long desired, so ardently wooed; the spirited part of
the press was firing our hearts with daily assurances,
dear to the non-combatant heart, that the fight was
between heroes and ogres, and that the ogres had ugly,
flat-footed wives and ill-kept infants. Browne soon
perceived that four or five pillars of sport from Lon-
don, and two or three Northern workmen, had just
been fused into one substance by some effective story
of Boer barbarity. At first the only insoluble object
that could be seen was a little weasel-like man with
feet dangling well clear of the floor, a hard-bitten
sticker to proof, with the wizened calm and hus-
banded asperity found in some disputants long inured
to man's usage of strictly logical persons.
A clearly unfinished rebuke to this slave of reason
was now resumed by a London " bookie," a big, red,
personable varlet, over-dressed, vast-necked and triple-
chinned, with a belly that he swaggered like a medal,
and bibulous eyes, from which the aqueous part of
his liquor seemed to lip uncontainably over the lower
lids. ' Strikes me" he said, " yer little better'n a
"Do it?" said the weasel. "Well, it ain't the
" Oh, yn't it? " sneered the other.
' Point is," the drastic thinker rejoined, " is it right?
Jus' you keep to that. Is this war right ? Now then ! "
: Ark at 'im ! " the bookie appealed to men and
gods. 'Is it rahyt?' 'e says. Is 'is ahn country
rahyt?' : Sympathetic horror was legible on several
THE MORNING'S WAR 123
faces. Inspired by so much backing the big man
turned abruptly on the little one and asked him in
mock-confidential tones, as if parched with genuine
thirst for information — " 'Ere, mite, 'o\v much a week
d'yer git fer syin' that? "
" Eh, but that's it," put in a virtuous-looking work-
man, with conviction, raising his eyes from a paper
in which the upper half of the open page seemed to
be one tall stack of printed outcries.
"An' 'oo pyes 'im?" the bookmaker's clerk sup-
ported his principal.
The little man clearly felt lonely. Still, all he would
yield to unreason was to fall back on a general aspira-
tion which fools might mistake, if they chose, for
something other than a crusher to themselves. ' Well,
God defend the right," he said; " that's all I say."
The bookie almost shrieked, " Didn' I sye 'e was a
trytor? Garn! Prow-Bower!"
It was clear to public opinion, thus capably led,
that the little man had established the fact of his
villainy. " Wants 'is 'ead knocked orf," said a third
sporting expert, in a heavy fur coat and fantastically
discolored linen, speaking apparently in soliloquy.
" Arskin' fer it ! " said a fourth.
" Ow, choke 'im, fer Chrahyst's sike ! " said a fifth.
It looked as if there might be a mobbing. The little
man sat next but one to a window. Between it and
him sat a man in a Norfolk jacket. He was as tall and
as broad as the big bookie, but not at all so deep below
the waist; his face had an expression of slowly-travel-
ing but surely arriving good-sense which made
124 tup: mornings war
Browne, now that he noticed its wearer, think of the
Suffolk Punch breed of cart-horse and want to stroke
him gently on his roughly-t weeded shoulder and say,
" Good horse, Dobbin," feeling sure that to kick or
bite was not in him. For some time he had been de-
taching himself by degrees from the study of a large-
scale map open on his knees and taking in the drift
of the debate; and now, just when it promised to be-
come physical, he touched the menaced minority man
on the arm, heaved a gradual head towards the win-
dow, and said, in a tone at once phlegmatic and casual,
" Mind changing places with me? Bit of a draught."
The small man had complied before he knew
whether he was doing a good turn or getting one.
And somehow the change seemed to quench all hope
of a scuffle. It put the little man strangely far out of
reach. Beyond those puissant tweed thighs he was
lodged as if at the inner extremity of a cave.
The good cause had undergone a setback. While
the intervener re-immersed himself in his map the
patriot chief discreetly ascended from the particular
to the general. " Pineful," he said to the congregation
at large, " that's wot I call it — the wye forr'n gaowld
degrides a 'uman bein'. Pineful. Sime level as vermin
it degrides 'im. Nah, too, when our brive lads are
ficin' — well, yesterday I'd a said ficin' a few stinkin'
Bowers, but to-dye I sye ficin' a fow contemp'ible in
pint of stren'th an' currij', but a fow as refrines from
naow outrige on yoomanity — killin' the wounded, re-
fusin' all quarter, abusin' the wahyt flag. Wahy, it's
within mahy pers'n'l knowledge that the monsters in
THE MORNING'S WAR 125
femile shipe they call their women 'abitch'ly turn aht,
after battle, lahyk, just to mut'lite ahr dead, sime as
Afghan squaws do."
The man in the Norfolk put down a finger to keep a
place on his map, looked leisurely up and said in a
friendly tone, " Oh, that's not true, you know," as if
the other had dropped a pipe or a glove and would
like to be told.
The orator gaped. His eyes bewilderedly sized up
the culprit, his weight, height, probable reach, and also
his clothes; and the cringing instinct of class told the
bookie that he must make himself much more drunk
with words before he could effectively affront a social
better. So he spoke almost calmly : " Ahr f rien', I
see, is not a reader of ahr pytriotic press. More at
'ome, mye-be, with all them forr'n gutter rags 'at dily
charges our gallan' army with crahyms so 'orrible as
aownly exists in the diseased imaginytion of 'im that
" Killing the wounded, refusing all quarter, abusing
the white flag?' : Printed, it looks like a tu quoque;
as uttered by him of the tweeds it was like one
builder's friendly hint to another that he is forgetting
But the angel of wrath was now winging on too
grandly to fold his wings yet. " Ahr frien' does credit
to 'is teachers. I 'ope they knaow 'ah well 'e's doin'.
But wot are we to sye, my frien's, of one 'oo mikes the
en'my's cause 'is aown?"
' Wring 'is bleedin' neck," squealed a stunted
phthisical youth in the corner remotest from the pro-
126 THE MORNING'S WAR
posed beneficiary by the suggestion, whose eyes now-
settled on the youth, with an exploratory and con-
jectural expression wholly benevolent, while the more
gifted speaker, concerned for his climax, held up a
" Wite, I sye. Wite. Wot are we to sye of one
'oo comes 'ere in ahr midst, 'oldin' a brief for the
murd'rers of 'is countrymen? Wot — ? '
The sitter for this portrait, having framed by now
a conception of the bloody-minded consumptive,
turned to attend to the main stream of commination.
In the same helpful voice, as though he were wishing
his censors were making a better job of it, he asked,
" What was it I said, now? Try back, my dear sir."
But the bookie was soaring beyond human aid.
" Naow, my f rien', naow ! Naow use shufflin'. I sye,
wot maowtive can any man 'ave — wot maowtive bar
one — fer shieldin' the murd'rers of ahr brothers an'
sons — yours and mahyn, fellah-countrymen?' His
gestures expanded; he spoke to a nation.
"Ah?' The man in the Norfolk was more ani-
mated. " You have a son at the war? ' :
"Ah — if you aownly 'ad!" mocked the Cockney.
He gave a forensic sigh.
" I have two," said the other, without any sense of
value in the words as repartee. " One in Ladysmith.
Yours, sir — where ? "
The bookie fled off into figures of speech. " Yn't
we all sons of ahr country? Yn't we all brothers?
Yn't — ?' He was graveled for a moment.
The other went on from his own thought, " It
THE MORNING'S WAR 127
makes one wish one were surer that this war is just."
He looked round, as if to put a private experience into
the pool were the normal way of human intercourse.
Browne's eyes met his and offered, perhaps, a kind of
support, but the offer was not embraced; the other, it
seemed, would as soon stand alone — or at least not
make one in a " set," a tacit league of the civilized,
against poor brutes.
The rhetorician was fumbling back along the track
of his own eloquence for a good place to start from
afresh. "Did I sye 'murd'rers'? 'Ounds, I should
sye — 'ounds, savidges, 'oose dev'lish caowd degrides
'em b'laow all civ'lized bein's. An' sneaks, to that.
Curs, sime as 'ounds are."
The Norfolked man said in his slow way, " I can't
feel sure they were two thousand curs who beat those
five thousand of our men last week." Browne could
see that the man had no irony, no humor; he merely
imparted a difficulty ; he only wanted to know.
But at the words Browne could feel, too, that a
shudder traversed the company's soul. These non-
combatants had need that the enemy they were not
fighting should have every baseness. It was a faith
and, like many faiths, it flinched away from the fingers
of sincerity; it bleated or stormed to be spared any
glimpse of what might have to be faced if its own
creed were true. Why raise such questions at all ?
What could this man want, hanging about the safe?
If he was honest, why did he not go away? One little
thimble-rigger, wrung to the vitals, gasped out, " 'E's
pide for it."
128 THE MORNING'S WAR
" That's abaht it," groaned somebody else.
" 'Ow much a week for the two?" squeaked the
undersized youth, embracing- in one basilisk glance the
massive heretic and his own brother atomy ensconced
behind that infidel bulk.
And yet Browne felt indescribably, inexplicably
sure that in some uncorrupted layer of a few of their
minds there was germinating in the dark a dismaying
admission that this beast was braver than they, though
a beast, and clean, as salt water is clean, though nause-
ous. Those who had not the means in themselves to
find this in his face imagined other dread possibilities
there. His eyes, unapprehensive, seeking, appraising
perhaps, roamed slowly over the patriots' persons;
could he be weighing their relative rights to be thrown
through the window? "Ah, my frien's," the orator
again subsided into generalities, " if you noo all the
things I knaow abaht wot Bower gaowld is doin' — "
'In England? You think many Englishmen take
it?' The heathen's voice expressed an unexhausted
assurance that there must be something in what people
said, if you could get at it.
The bookie shrugged. He threw himself upon pub-
'Bribes?' 1 The other had rummaged out slowly
the unready word.
" I'm not argyin'. I'm simply tellin' yer." The
bookie looked anxious.
The other's eyes widened with interest. " You can
tell us ? Cases you know of ? "
" I tell yer I'm not argyin'," the bookie spluttered.
THE MORNINGS WAR 129
Who is not flustered to find his chaff inopportunely
taken for grain? A damp fell round these ardent
souls so chillily that at the next station the parched
little devotee of reason got out in peace.
When they started again the engine labored ; the
train was ascending a long mountain valley ; the line
contoured high on one flank, with a chain of dammed
lakes below in the bed of the dale, in the Northern
way ; every fit glen, up there, must become a town's
Public opinion was not silenced yet, only disquieted.
The bookie fell back from the firing line of debate,
but the virtuous British workman, good soul, lowered
his vociferous newspaper, challenged the troubler with
a look of " Frankly, come now, man to man," and
said, " After all, I s'pose you'd allow it would be right
your country's enemies should fight fair, like? ' :
Browne could see the thoughts muster, in answer,
like slow, intent children, before the words came.
" I'd go even further, I think. I'd say every one ought
to." As it was uttered it was not a snub, nor a cut-
ting retort, nor an uncutting platitude; rather, it was
like the rediscovery of a lost region, humbly communi-
cated by a diffident finder. So Browne thought, but
the rest were only the more disturbed. They gave it
up; their inward peace was menaced; where would it
end if we all were to look at things in that way, with
that disloyalty to accepted tacit precautions for taking
the sting out of truth? And yet, deuce take the man,
somehow he mattered. Browne read that much in
130 THE MORNING'S WAR
The quick grunts of the mounting engine stopped,
almost at a platform. Howden it was. Browne
jumped out at once and saw Mullivant coming to meet
him. No; to meet somebody else, seen over Browne's
shoulder. ' Morning, Bruntwood," Mullivant said,
with a look of content.
Browne looked round. ' Morning," the man in the
Norfolk jacket was answering, with a quiet, long-last-
ing smile of equally deep contentment.
' You didn't guess? " Mullivant asked of Browne.
' No. I knew Pistol at once, and Bardolph and
one or two others, but — "
" But not Sir Bors? " laughed Mullivant.
Bruntwood's look said, " What's this recondite allu-
sion? " His looks often did.
Mullivant beamed on the other's perplexity. " Only
a buffer in Tennyson,* rather like you."
*Possibly Mullivant thought of the lines in the " Holy Grail,"
a poem still much read at that time :
" Sir Bors it was
Who spake so low and sadly at our board ;
And mighty reverent at our grace was he ;
A square-set man and honest ; and his eyes,
An out-door sign of all the warmth within,
Smiled with his lips."
" This other Eden, demi-paradise,
. . . . this little world,
This blessed plot."
King Richard II., Act ii. Scene I.
AT the station they left the main valley and walked
^/V. for two hours up a tributary defile. It narrowed
and blackened till both its sides were steep slants of
dark shale, with the solid rock cropping out from it in
low vertical tiers of crag, each with its own refuse-
shoot of broken stone streaming away from its foot.
The sides converged at last to form a rough gully of
scree. Up it the three walkers stumbled and puffed, to
emerge above on the upper story of Northern England.
Color and form conspired to give Browne a sense of
soft undulation in this high moor. Purple and tan and
chocolate, grave green and clear green and greenish
gray, the unlevel carpet of mixed heather, bracken,
bilberries, many grasses and emerald weed, rose and
fell, mile beyond mile, the light and the dark in its
pattern sometimes stressing and sometimes rendering
less salient the modeling of the land, as the paint on
an actor's face deepens a dimple or erases a line.
Bruntwood and Mullivant seemed to know what
they were making for. Browne did not ask. There
is a good taste of their own about places you come to
132 THE MORNING'S WAR
without knowing how; they have the disconnection of
dreams from the cumbrance of all questions of access;
it only englamours their memory more to feel that you
could not by any means find your way back to them
now. An hour's wading through heather and bil-
berries led them out on to a plateau a little higher still.
It was springy ground, barer now, and peat-dark.
The two leaders gazed intently over this bog, seemed
to agree, and set off again towards a group of slight
swellings upon its surface.
They walked thus for another half hour, commu-
nicative grunts between Bruntwood and Mullivant
growing more frequent. Then these two stopped, cast
about for some minutes like hounds that have all but
got good scent, and finally came to a stand at a boss or
tussock of peat, perhaps a yard square and rising, like
thousands of similar tussocks round it, a couple of feet
above the bed of the eroded trenches that reticulated
the whole surface of the moss.
Mullivant stood on the boss. He kicked it, simu-
lating casualness. " Top of England — this hum-
mock," he said to Browne, with his little laugh a little
" Not, of course," Bruntwood said, word by word,
" the very highest point."
Mullivant's face delighted in the literal man.
'No," he said; "no disrespect to Scawfell. But the
ridge of the roof. See ! "
Browne's eyes followed the speaker's, and saw.
From the flooded outer cells at one side of the soaked
sponge under Mullivant's feet the brown bog-water
THE MORNING'S WAR 133
oozed out at his pressure and trickled a few inches
down its outer wall, a drop at a time, till it neared the
line of another broken drip from a few inches off.
The two came together with the pause and sudden em-
brace of raindrops meeting on a pane, and hurried on.
Three inches further another drop rushed to join them,
and then another and another, till in the bed of the
trench at the foot of the little peat wall there was
enough water moving to break on a stone in its way
with an infinitesimal plash, the first cry of an infant
" The Mersey ! " Mullivant said, with his face
kindling. The shyness of a child avowing a great find
was being burnt up by a child's ungovernable jubila-
tion. " Now come over here."
Browne stepped across the hummock and over the
little ditch on its far side, and turned to look. Out of
this wall of the hummock there welled slow drop after
drop, each remoistening for a second a track down the
wall to a tiny moat of wine-dark bilge at its foot, stag-
nant except at one end ; there, when the air stirred the
bilge, its ripples lipped over a chance dam formed in
the peaty trash and fell a few inches into a lower
reach of the trench. There was more water there ; it
had other feeders; at the far end it moved away
" If you might call the other the Mersey, then per-
haps you might call this the Trent! ' Bruntwood said
this and then exploded in a big laugh at the violence
of the verbal gambol that he had executed.
" Jump on the hummock," said Mullivant. ' All
134 THE MORNING'S WAR
jump. Make a flood in the German Ocean and Irish
Bruntwood roared. If he ever understood a figure
of speech it was as a tremendous practical joke, a big
guiltless lie by which you naturally take care that no
one shall be taken in. " Inundate Liverpool and
Hull ! " he said, in a tone to which notes of exclama-
tion can do no justice, and roared again.
Mullivant visibly doated on Bruntwood when
Bruntwood gave way like this to his temperament.
"Now, all together ! " Mullivant ordered, crowding the
three of them on to the big peaten footstool. All
three jumped as one man, till from each of its sides
the dark juice gushed and spurted; the minute cisterns
that caught it were all astir.
' Cease jumping! " said Mullivant, blowing. There
was a moment's pause, half awkward, but only half.
Browne was being initiated into something. He felt
and liked it. Each of the two wise babies was taking
him tacitly into the league that bound them, each
other's opposites as they were, and sent them up into
these moorland places to play at such games as tracing
pairs of rivers and seas to their first rivalry as suitors
for oozings from the gorged tissues of one cubic foot
of a bog. With a little glow of pride Browne felt he
was fit to come in. He had drunk before of the cup
of their drunkenness, upon the Dent Rouge, when
Europe unrolled itself like a scroll. How things be-
longed to each other ! How they closed in, all of them
good, as if to some one great end or high happiness!
What brought him here, to find elder brothers ? What
THE MORNING'S WAR 135
sent him and that girl who was now a figure in every
landscape of thought — what sent them up the moun-
tain together and lit the fire in his blood? Chance?
Accidents, then, could conspire, counsel and authorize.
Everything grew to one point; he was waved towards
it by hand after hand.
" Do you remember," Bruntwood asked Mullivant,
" that field near Naseby — the one where the Avon
starts, close to the church, and the Nen just over the
" And the Welland too, in the parson's cellar," said
Mullivant, " three miles away. What a place to be
buried in ! "
" Naseby ? " asked Aubrey.
Bruntwood explained. " Yes, the men, or at least
some of the men, that were killed in the fight. They
are in a big pit. The earth has sunk in a little."
" England's dead center, that place," Mullivant said
— " the tip top; she falls away from it all around."
" There are brambles round the pit," Bruntwood
toiled on at his own internal picture.
Mullivant rushed on with his. " The Trent, and
the Thames, and the Ouse, and the Stratford Avon all
come up to your feet. And Edgehill in sight — a long
ridge. Remember, Brunt, how it stuck up in the sun-
Bruntwood had finished his own small Naseby land-
scape within him at last. He emerged from absorp-
tion. "Yes, during the 'orgy,'" he said, surround-
ing the last word with laughter as though with vast
136 THE MORNING'S WAR
Some other huge joke, thought Browne, and glanc-
ing at Mullivant, saw its mildness and age in Mulli-
vant's look of affectionate mirth at the beloved dullness
of his friend. ' Bruntwood refers," he said, " to a
bu'st we once had, of topography."
" Yes? " Browne importuned.
' We walked all along England's spine. We began
at the Border and came South, keeping right up on the
main watershed, so that we never crossed a river.
That was the game. They all fell away, right and left,
before us. Down as far as the Peak we could go
pretty straight. Then we had to fetch a big bend to the
right — the west, you know — so as not to wet our feet
in the head of the Trent; then back to the left — the
east — to Naseby, to dodge round all the tips of the
Avon; and then west again, for a deuce of a way, to
keep up from the Thames, and so on. That was the
' Well, I'm blowed," said Browne, cordially.
Mullivant warmed. ' So were we. I found I had
never seen England till then. Bits of her I'd seen, of
course, but not her — the whole figure. We looked
down from the top into every Jack one of the water-
tight hollows she's made of, and saw what it was like,
and the river in each one like a big leafless tree — trunk
and branches and twigs ; when you touched a twig all
the tree came into sight, right down to the sails of
barges out on the H umber. Just look." He pointed
where, far out to their left, there ran, broken and dim,
a bar of high ground, a rib of England's skeleton, trek-
THE MORNING'S WAR 137
king crookedly away across lowland Yorkshire's
broad stretch of green. Browne saw.
" ' Little England ! ' cried Mullivant. " People
sneer at it ! Thank all your gods it's so small. Only
just small enough to be seen; still, it's possible. Beg
pardon, though; you're an Irishman."
" Is it lovers of different mistresses that would be
jealous? " said Browne; not that he had, as yet, a love
like this for any place. But he knew love when he saw
it; here was the real thing, in Mullivant's face and
voice — the ecstasy over visible traits of love's object,
the craving of sense to take it all in, round and
whole as a jewel, small and embraceable, apt to lovers'
Two Cordelias abetting each other to doat on one
wayward parent could scarcely have talked sentiment
less than Mullivant and Bruntwood did for the rest of
that day. Still, they would let out a reference now and
again to some old walk or ride; one or other would
look up a name here and there in the joint mental index
that they kept of their funded visions; and Browne,
now on the watch, would catch glimpses of Evesham
orchards as they are when the enamored eye sees
them dropping apples to float in Shakespeare's slow
Avon ; of Tudor houses knee-deep in the mists of win-
ter sunsets; and then, again, of the roaring Strand
with the air a dust of gold on fine afternoons; or of
the wind planing the South coast into shape with the
rub, rub of shingle pressed, always the one way, by the
Atlantic's hand; or the make of this great triple-lay-
ered Pennine arch, astride of North England — how
138 THE MORNING'S WAR
the crown of the arch was worn off till the edges of
all its coating layers showed raw — red rock and coal
and dark rock. Browne could shut his eyes and see
the layered floor crumple itself into hills.
Once, as they sat smoking after their sandwiches,
something political made its way into the talk. Then
the shocking last truth about Bruntwood came undis-
guisably out. He was a voluptuary; only, his secret
revels were all on equities, decencies, uncompelled
fairnesses. Old, platitudinous tags about conduct,
' Do as you would be done by," and so on, would go
to this hedonist's head like new wine. He would fix
ravenous teeth in some precept long dead, canonized
and moldering into dust, like " Blessed are the peace-
makers," and devour, whole, all that was left, no mat-
ter what it did in his vitals. Sayings of Christ's that
drop upon most men like the gentle rain from heaven,
pattering softly on the sound roof of the soul and
giving point and piquancy to the complacent snugness
within, would beat right into the unslated spirit of
this incomplete person, and search and scour the in-
terior. Browne began, as the day went on, to under-
stand the singleness of eye that fills the whole body of
a St. Francis with inadequately-shaded light. But
self-sacrifice? — not a bit of it. Keeping a newspaper
clean was his sport and hobby ; he let his mind run on
it always, just as another man will let his mind run,
even in working hours, on his high hopes of his golf.
He was a man of pleasure, unbridled.
Sometimes he wrote for the paper. It was not his
line ; his writing had almost every known imperfection.
THE MORNING'S WAR 139
But Mullivant made him, whenever he saw that Brunt-
wood's appetite was fastening on some relevant old
saw as if it had been brought down that morning from
Sinai, or up from Bethlehem, shining and salt as the
last paradox. There had just come such a season.
Bruntwood had now for some weeks been giving it
out in his club-footed style that a nation, even one's
own nation, may not be the better for doing a thing
that, if done by a man, would get him blackballed at
clubs. It was the kind of idea that skilled navigators
of life will chart and buoy out like a shoal, to keep their
craft well off it. Bruntwood had not that wit. Yet
the things the crank said seemed to count. Even the
wise found they could not just look the other way, as
they would like, when some discomforting truism dug
up by Bruntwood was awkwardly breaking the bands
of the grave, or some two and two were being joined
together that man for his peace had put asunder.
' If you or I," Mullivant said to Browne, late in
that day, when Bruntwood was out of hearing, " were
ever to sit down and write, with our admirable arts
of persuasion, that cheating at cards is not quite the
thing between nations, we should be prigs, and the
stuff dead as mutton. Bruntwood can do it, though;
does it as if he were telling you what's won the Derby.
People listen, too — swear, but listen. They have to.
The word's made flesh and dwells with 'em. They'd
ignore us. But him! Crusoe couldn't ignore the live
foot on the sand."
He spoke as if Bruntwood were not of his species.
Browne saw better. At least, in being weather-beaten
140 THE MORNING'S WAR
together, the dyes of the two had stained pretty deep
into each other. Bruntvvood's joy, behind all his
phlegm, in conceiving a duty or bearing a right re-
straint had at first tickled Mullivant, in his youth, then
rather touched him, then animated him. Once he had
thought of such things only as denials, voids, chills,
provender for the worst Nonconformists, a diet of east
wind; here was a marvel — a man whom they warmed
and lit. Bruntwood had gone to school, too, to his
friend the enjoyer of shapely utterance and imagina-
tive play. He had been wiled into making an idol, a
graven image of England, as seen on hundreds of such
days as this with the lover's transfiguring eye. Pool-
ing their whims together the two had made a joint fad
of a novel — or is it antiquated? — patriotism, remote
from the current modes of that virtue. For scarcely
any spite went to the making of it, and no fear at all ;
it had not been come at by trains of reasoning, nor
taken out of a book, nor was it a hot sense of having
the title-deeds to a fat estate, nor a caterer's impulse
to meet any demand his customers might make for
special emotions. It was mere, sheer affection. A
schoolboy attuned to the wisdom of the age could
show in a moment that people like these two were
nook-shotten, cast away far from the main march of
mind, and that lust is not lust if one's own nation
feels it, nor theft theft if there be no jail in which it
could cause her hair to be cut. To these truths the
two were impenetrable now. For one thing, they did
not know the ends of the earth and had never lived
on black, brown or yellow men. But what misled
THE MORNING'S WAR 141
them most was the way they knew England, every look
of her face and the shape of its bones. English
downs with dawn breaking over them seemed to put
up a troubling petition that they might not be befouled.
When clear-eyed men from Simla and Cairo would
show that Falstaff had erred and that it is not in men
but in nations that honor is a scutcheon only, the
two would feel a sick rage as though some brother,
who had not lived much at home, came in with a plan
for making the old mother get drunk or pick pockets.
No matter if people proved she would not be caught;
the two would not learn ; all they knew was that they
did not want the Thames of their youth to be a seam
in the face of a slut, or Land's End a cad's eye. When
our prudent rulers abandoned our wards for Abdul
Hamid to murder, Bruntwood felt as if the white-
walled dale where he fished in the Peak were plastered
with some physical filth of dishonor; Mullivant found
that something living was hanging its head in the
silent miles of river meadow up by Lechlade in the
The weather was changing all day ; hardy, raw air
in the morning, a child's secret delight to go out in ;
then two or three hours of sun and racing shadows;
then a whole sky cleared for one rickety tower of
storm-cloud, piled floor above floor, to stalk across the
hills, a mile off; while that was still lurching away
top-heavily into the east a pack of thinner vapors
rushed after it, overtook it, drew across it a gauzy,
smoke-colored curtain, shaded in lines that slanted
down eastwards, through which the towering stack
142 THE MORNINGS WAR
behind them showed black ; and then those dropping
veils had packed away in their turn, whipped in by
their own fussing rear-guard; many weathers, many
climates, all of them good, blowing changefully over
one island that Browne could see whole now, like a
raised map modeled in stone and laid, not quite flat,
on the ground — indeed with one corner sunk into it.
North-westward was nothing but stone — stone walls
to the stony fields, stone-gray cottages, stone inter-
leaving coal in the pits, stone sticking out rawly in
streets and twisting the tips of plows. South-east-
ward the plaque of stone dipped and dived down as a
sloping landing-stage slants into a high tide; a sea of
soft clays and sands closed level over it. It was all
one; he had seen affection, the only maker of Edens,
render it so.
In his room that night he could not go to bed for a
while, the good things that he had to think of thronged
in so throbbingly, tightening the hot forehead. He
had to stand at an open window to cool and breathe,
looking down on the rain-washed midnight city silent
under him. Presently from a neighboring window
there rose the choruses of a late party, some of the
voices half-tipsy and barbed with the poignancy of
expiring youth. Fugitive youth, fugitive poignancy,
mystical treasures flowing past in a stream. The
chorus trailed off into silence, a door slammed, good-
nights were heard in the resonant street; then silence
congealed till from a mile away there lifted into clear-
ness the ringing owl notes of the buffers of trucks
shunted at some siding. These, too, had beauty; it
THE MORNING'S WAR 143
rent and enchanted and cried out for rescue from its
own inarticulateness. All things had that riddlesome
beauty that numbed and evoked, half inspired and half
left you bewildered, dimly aware of wonderful things
to be done and noble, unavailable powers in you to do
them ; the powers wandered about helplessly seeking
the place to begin, the order to take, the one call for
them to obey in a universe of summoning clarions.
Now it came clear. From that racket of call and
cross-call, impulse and counter-impulse, his new
friends at Brabburn had found a way out ; they, at
least, were clear of the forest and marched along sing-
ing; they had pierced to the secret — he saw it now —
of all the every-day miracle-doers; like corn they could
make strength from clay, and could draw good cheer,
like vines, out of granite and rain. They were what
he had wished he might be, though it was not till now
that he knew he had wished it: they were the men; if
he might he would stand with them.
" Nearing, her god breathed on her, till she seemed
More tall and spoke, like gods, compellingly."
Virgil : iEneid, Book vi.
WHEN the End House door at Up-Felday was
opened to Browne at two the next day there
rose on his ear, like scent from a hottle uncorked, the
voice of his host from some room within : it was mur-
murous, suavely petulant, tinting mere space into an at-
mosphere. ' Figure it ! Now — in October ! A garden-
party ! ' The voice, with its soft suffusiveness, shed
itself out through some open door into the hall as the
smell of dried rose-leaves did. " Colchicum, what
things are done in thy name ! "
" Father, it isn't October at large; it's this October."
June's voice was no tint or shade, but a line, a couched
spring, a pulse, elasticity.
She must be at a window, Browne thought, with her
eyes on the red and gold of the garden. Late autumn
had burst into radiance ; London had glowed that
morning when he was crossing it; liquid light, with a
rosiness in it, had seemed to be washing about between
the houses, like water carried in a red wheel-barrow.
' Well, then, my dearest, since 'tis so,
Since naught remains but that we go — "
Runs it not thus? Let us catch cold, then, because it
THE MORNINGS WAR 145
is fine. Ah ! this is pleasant " — Mr. Hathersage, cross-
ing the library door-mat, had sighted the entering
"Will you come with us?" June was saying to
Browne a few minutes later, "or are you too tired?
Such a garden, the Anthons' ! — a piece of stage
scenery, crowded with prettinesses — the last cry in
quaintness, and all cut out of the side of a hill," she
pattered on, playing the cordial entertainer.
Browne could only half listen. He looked at her
clothes with a disconcertment. They were not the
ones that he knew. Of course not. Why should they
be ? Yet the change seemed to hold him off from her.
What she had worn had been part of her, part of her
manner at any rate, worn by her as she wore her looks
and remembered by him in all their gestures, and now
there was this estranging lodgment, of something that
might still be she, amidst new femininities.
Mr. Hathersage stood with a hand on the door.
" You go to the slaughter with us? "
Browne collected his wits. Yes, he would enjoy it.
June looked at her father. " I'll tell them — shall I
— to balance the cart for four? "
A faint little fussiness effervesced for a moment in
Mr. Hathersage, rounding and brightening his mild
eyes. " Perhaps Mr. Browne would bear with a coun-
try habit of ours — perhaps if we just drove ourselves
in the — "
June understood; so did Browne, when the time
to start came. The horse that had brought him up
from the station was standing again at the door, but
146 THE MORNINGS WAR
not in the shafts of the same goodly dog-cart. A
lowly, tarnished conveyance had taken its place, a
shallow hollow in basket-work, such as old ladies of
that period would sometimes use in the country. Some
touch of spickness or spanness seemed to have faded,
too, from the man who had driven Browne and who
stood at the horse's head now.
June drove them the two miles through lanes
scooped out of sand, under arching hedges of hazel.
Sunned sand and pine, gorse and heather with bees
still astir in them, sent up a warm, scented hum.
It was the heart of the choiceness of Surrey. Even
the blind had seen that: jimp huts and toy farms told
where solvent gropers after the beauty of life had
ceased groping awhile and thought they had found it;
two or three preposterous, pretty palaces, hooded with
hillsides of tile, tried to be seen wooing solitude.
' They bring us new and pleasant neighbors," said
Mr. Hathersage, eyeing without overt disrelish the
newest stack of gables and vanes, chimneys and
weather-boards, white paint and red. No vibration of
irony could be discerned in his voice; the old patrician
kept his disdain to himself to feed on: his hospitality
stopped short of sharing that dainty with Browne, the
last guest picked up from the highways or byways of
this coarse world.
Browne saw it and chafed at a self-assurance hoisted
and poised so high above the common vulgarities of
arrogance. Why, it was worse, it was arrogance twice
distilled, the quintessence, the finest coxcombry of ex-
clusion. So that was why they were sitting a foot
THE MORNING'S WAR 147
from the ground, on faded cushions. Shabbiness, the
foregoing of show, was a badge that he must have
made for his caste in this mid-Surrey world of
splashed money and shining and out-shining appoint-
ments. It was oppressive to think of that still, with-
drawn, innermost keep where pride lived by itself, un-
competing and effortless, so guarded away from the
strife without that it had the leisure to pamper its
own lonely and delicate love of itself with mock hu-
milities of surrender.
Just once, in that drive, it was as if a boy with some
warmer blood of merry mischief in him had lightly
mounted the coping of that frigid citadel, shaking de-
risive fists at an uncouth besieger. June, with a quick
laugh and pointing nod, drew their eyes as they passed
to an arched pole, eighteen inches high, at the foot of
the garden wall of a resplendent week-end cottage
with a double coach-house. In the wall there were
many doors, each with its title painted above it, to
guard against intrusive pollutions — " Visitors' En-
trance," " Coachman's Entrance," " Tradesmen's
Entrance." A cock, aloft on fastidious stilts, was
picking its way through the hole, and over the arch
some rustic wag had hastily chalked up " Fowls' En-
Browne laughed out; Mr. Hathersage laughed too,
a little, and wintrily. He saw the point of everything;
it was his life to do that; yet there was something in
him that half withheld itself from savoring a wit that
tasted so of the earth, as the delicate wonder and
doubt at the rude meals of health. June's laugh,
148 THE MORNINGS WAR
nipped by that touch of frost, turned to a fret on the
lips; she gave all her eyes to her driving; the jovial
human hail from the fortress walls was suppressed;
all that was left was a glimpse of hope that the garri-
son might not always be wholly at one with itself.
Perhaps the hope could be seen in his face when June
saw it next, for when she spoke it was more in her
father's vein than her father himself; she did penance
jealously, making occasions for it; she started a strain
of Olympian charity towards Sir Valentine Anthon,
the host they were going to.
Mr. Hathersage took it up, happy in mind again.
' Really a quite intelligent man, on some subjects.
An oculist, now retired, a little ' perplexed wi'
leisure,' perhaps. Let me advise you to ask him
about the French Emperor's eyes. An entertaining
" He is our Lord of the Manor," said June.
' So that really we owe him," her father said,
" what courtesy is in our power."
Thus did these two, though no longer quite one,
agree for the moment to shut Browne formally out of
their high Roman thoughts on the inrush of Vandal
and Hun, on the flushed arriving stockbrokers and law-
yers, or new-risen baronets shining uneasily in en-
larged skies. Such was Sir Valentine Anthon, a kind
little man bewildered with wealth and loss of function,
and straying about his great house and fine garden
like some cat bereft of its last kitten, looking for what
he had hoped, during fifty years' toil, that rest after
toil would be. Mr. Hathersage gave him, for some
THE MORNING'S WAR 149
twenty minutes, illusions of finding it, so benign is the
force of good manners.
June practised the great manner too. Lady Anthon
was lame ; she asked, would Miss Hathersage show Mr.
Browne their little attempt at gardening. June
showed off the money-made tit-bits with loyal gravity;
Browne must not miss the grotto, the Faun, the me-
chanical rainbow, Pomona's temple, the copper beech
that really was copper, with fountainous twigs ; turn
a tap and they played. Browne met her on that level.
Coldness and stiffness? — well, so let it be. So she
went on, giving the poor gauds their chance, and he
would not take it away. They walked and talked for
a while, with their tongues keeping step in the stiff,
Garden and house were perched like a golf -ball on a
hanging lie. Wealth, as if with one cut of a spade,
had sliced out for their site a flat step under the top of
a woody hill. "Look!' said June, suddenly, in a
new tone. They were on the terrace, the edge of that
step. A balustrade, late Italian and florid, held it in,
seeming to keep the whole place from slipping down-
hill. From the lawn, where people were playing, a
tennis-ball had just gone over the coping. They looked
over, watching it roll half a mile down steep turf, with
precarious persistence, now almost motionless, then
again quickening. It came to rest in a ditch.
Browne let his breath go. " In the crevasse ! " he
She laughed. For a moment they were on that other
150 THE MORNING'S WAR
" It's good here," he said, looking out, with rising
gusto; no mere exercise now. He backed away two
or three yards from the balustrade ; over it, then, the
first thing that his eye met was a windmill at work,
two miles away, low on the wide floor between two
ranges of downs. Beyond it, a mile further off, was
another windmill ; a third, yet a mile or two further
away, gleamed intermittently, like a revolving light,
some bright part of its sails, no doubt, catching the
westering sun at a certain point in each revolution.
The three mills measured the receding plain ; mile be-
hind mile it lay stilled with autumn and distance, only
the sails moving. He stood enriching it with his en-
" Is nothing flat to you? " she said, almost pettishly.
He laughed. " All that plain is ! "
She did not laugh. To her sense the flatness of flat
things was beginning to be re-filled with the power
to thrill that it had when she was a child and when
wood thrilled her fingers because it was tepid and iron
because it was cool. She felt she was worked on, and
some resistent sentinel within her stood to its arms.
She said, almost roughly, " How moral you are ! '
He was puzzled. " I moralize? "
' You ' find good in everything ' anyhow."
" Good fun? There is a good lot. Is it priggish to
" It's a rebuke to us others."
"Rebuke? No. Defiance. Avaunt, you ascetics.
It's you have the taint of saints about you."
"We, the incurious, unthankful — ?"
THE MORNINGS WAR 151
" You the people who give up, who lay clown, who
go without things.*'
" Things we don't want, we're so blind to them."
" By your own will, isn't it, so that then you can
walk through the fair and not gape at the things there,
and fiddles can play and you not want to dance ? '
" I love dancing."
" Oh, good ! Bad, I mean, and most welcome."
Slowly and not by regular steps they made their
way back towards frank friendliness, each trying the
mind of the other and finding that it had the right
resilience, that it could give where you touched and
then spring back into shape. " I suppose," she said,
without petulance now, " there's a time to dance and
a time to refrain from dancing."
" None to refrain from enjoying, one way or other.
Wouldn't that be as if Adam salted the garden? "
She was grave again. "Is that fair? I don't
mean to me, of course. I've never given anything up
in my life. All I've done is to fail to like splendid
things — Rome and the Alps and everything. Still, I
know there's a way of giving up things, at the right
time, that makes it what's most worth doing of all —
giving up food and health even, willingly? '
" Unsouredly? Do they love giving them up? "
" I'll ask you that when you've seen them? '
"Oh, it's your friends at Cusheen?"
" They could have been, not rich of course, but less
poor. They could have had help in their fishing.
They gave it all up."
'•Why on earth?"
152 THE MORNING'S WAR
She winced as if treated rudely. " Perhaps for no
reason on earth," she said, " but a good one else-
where — they may have supposed," and then she winced
worse at her own lapse towards crossness and rhetoric.
''' Oh, I can't tell you about it," she flurriedly said, and
colored, shamefaced or angry.
He looked away over the champaign, giving her
time. ' Two windmills — three," he counted slowly
aloud, lest silence should hang too heavily; " three and
— is it a fourth, but not working, up higher? '
She had collected herself. " That's the Mill on the
Hill. It's deserted. It has a great view on fine nights :
you see to the sea and to London — gleams on the
waves, and the glow over London. It links them."
"Oh, good!' : He thought of Mullivant's jewel-
some England, threaded on such strings.
She thought of the Dent Rouge. " You would like
it. Guy must arrange. You cross — when ? ' :
" To Dublin? To-morrow night."
" Guy must take you to-night. I must see him."
She looked round. ' He ought to be here ; he was to
have come here straight from town, with a friend."
" I see Newman coming, in custody."
With a quick flinch, as if snatching clear of some
foulness, June interposed a tall bush between them
and Newman, now hobbling nearer, the prey of a vol-
uble, loud lady.
' I think it so hard," the lady was saying, " to know
what to get taught to one's children — about religion,
THE MORNING'S WAR 153
you know — in the way of a special belief, you know.
If only Pip, our boy, were more like his father ! Dear
George was always so good and steady ; he never
needed any religious support."
There was no failing to hear it ; June's eyes and
Browne's met on the vision of George's established
soul, Browne's twinkling at sight of that fortress,
June's unamused, only scornful. The mother made no
pause. " The girls, of course, must be taught some-
thing. With all this spiritual trouble that there is,
even in quite nice novels, now, it may be so painful
for a young girl at dinner, or at a dance, if she has
nothing at all to say about that sort of thing."
" Feel out of it, eh? ' Newman filled up a pause
of an instant.
'So painfully! And then the world is so full of
pain already, I do want to spare my darlings any I
can ; only it's so hard to know what is right! ''
' Sure to be some little shilling book about it," said
Newman, " if only one knew. Or what d'you say
to — ? " The next words were blurred.
The lady broke in penetratingly : ' Oh, don't you
know? Dear Miss Hathersage is such a Catholic! '
June drew off at the name, with a hot cheek and
cold voice, hedged with proud privacies. ' There is
my brother," she said, " I'll go to him. Don't come."
For a moment or two her last words immobilized
Browne. They were imperious, as if she meant,
" There — it is talk about me. Hear the worst." What
did it matter to her, in her pride, that he should be
planted there, eavesdropping?
154 THE MORNING'S WAR
The lady was babbling on. " Why, she gets red if
you say Roman Catholic just. And, if she were I,
she'd simply go to a priest and ask him what to do,
and then do it, and then if it went wrong it wouldn't
be her fault. That's what's so nice for them. Oh,
it's so cruel to have to think out all these things for
oneself. I do really feel sometimes the Reformation
must have been all a mistake, they worry me so — or
was it the Renaissance when the Catholics split off
from the Church of England? "
" I 'spect both helped," said Newman, cautiously.
" They're sure to have," said the lady.
Browne had marked the later prattle too little to
smile. Able to move again now, he went to greet Guy,
whom June had left.
Yes, there was almost the fullest of moons to-night,
Guy said; Browne must certainly see the big view.
" Quite a thing not to be missed." Guy spoke as if no
one who had failed to see it could quite know how trite
the world was.
Sunset had reddened when June approached Aubrey,
people were leaving, dew falling. ' You heard? " she
imperiously asked, as if an hour had not passed.
"The ribaldry? Yes. And I've met Mr. Roads
since, the wonderful husband. He offered to buy me.
I fear I was rude."
She broke in. She was august with an exaltation
of wrath. " I want to tell you," she said, " what I —
wouldn't — couldn't just now. People like that woman,
rich, idle people — has Mr. Roads told you, they own
all the basest papers there are? — luxurious people —
THE MORNING'S WAR 155
oh, I know I'm one — may talk as she does, but at
Cusheen the women would see their sons drown before
they'd be helped by any one who had broken vows of
religion. And I love them for it, I love them. I'll tell
She paused, shaken, as if it were too difficult, even
now. But she looked taller, seemed to have straight-
ened out and shot up like a flame ; like a flame her
beauty rose too, flushed up into the cheek and blazed
in the eye ; it warmed and might burn, was splendor
and danger, lit from some lamp high out of sight and
rooting down for its strength to central fires of passion
under the earth. Browne was awed ; this was her real
life, then — so he mused ; she had hold of infinite things
by that old handle, odd-looking to him, of a creedful
of dogmas. What matter the shape of the handle,
though, if only it held? He said, "You are chival-
rous," letting the words go, unintended, like a held
She looked down from the height of her queenliness,
shamefaced a little. Had she been ranting? "We
ought to be," she answered humbly, touching the cord
of some lay fringe of a Roman Order that went round
her waist, "we belted knights;" she smiled ruefully.
Had she been boasting? That was her silencing
thought while Browne was thinking what an earth's
wonder she looked, with that noble confusion quench-
ing the glow still aflame where a noble pride had lit it !
She did not go on.
' The garden is empty ! " she cried in amazement.
She had come back to herself. A star was blinking
156 THE MORNINGS WAR
out bravely, alone in the violet vault over the darken-
ing weald. Her father was wrapping his throat in the
hall. They drove back through lanes of somber en-
chantment, where flat shapes of motionless trees lay
black on the crimson west whither the homing horse,
sped by his own single thought, hastened them eagerly.
" A man to whom God hath given riches, wealth, and honor,
so that he wanteth nothing for his soul of all that he desireth,
yet God giveth him not power to eat thereof."
Ecclesiastes vi. 2.
THE dining-room at the End House might have
made a kitchen in heaven, it was so cosily chaste
in its lowliness of attire, so purged of decorative sin.
White wood; many white tiles; white curtains — not
of lace; rush-bottomed chairs fastidiously simple; all
along one wall, a dresser, with plates on it, ranged like
their toiling kin elsewhere, but these had leisure and
were of breeding; some had histories; one recorded,
like a medal, an old sea-fight. Browne was now told
things about it not printed in books but only borne
down the stream of a ruling caste's gossip, its heir-
looms of intramural tattle — how that fight's hero, a
darling of credulous England's, had flown a white flag
in another battle, the next year, with an actress of
small parts, a notable pirate in that age. Mr. Hather-
sage told it with nice touches of irony, reticent sym-
pathy, allowance. " ' But on the field ' — how does it
go? ' ; He ended the tale with a modest sham-failing
of memory. " Is it —
" ' But on the field of love alone
The glory lies in flying ' ? "
158 THE MORNINGS WAR
He was talking his best to-night about the great
world that he knew. Through the glass that he put to
Browne's eyes it heaved into sight like some old moon,
waste and huge, a cold globe of spent craters. A
Queen's page, an attache, a member of Parliament,
cousin and private secretary to a Premier — he had
been all these; many good things, as men count, had
come up to him of themselves, to be tasted, and all had
proved themselves middling. He had been at the hubs
of the most dazzlingly whirling of wheels and had
found at each a core of slowness, not the concentration
of the speeding glory of the tire, but its retardation,
down to tedium. He flowed out in anecdotes now.
" ' If you want to love your kind,' : ' he would quote
between one and the next, " ' you must not expect too
much from them.' All his stories were, surely, re-
ductive of over-high hopes. He had known " every-
body worth knowing," had heard the most famously
saintly of laymen bully his wife, had opened the letter
in which a sage asked for a knighthood, and seen
earth-shaking statesmen pushed, pulled, or bodily
borne through their seismic labors by mute, inglorious
" Moses' arms were held up, after all," he would
add, in excuse. He had no spite, no bias of creed, class
or race. A Roman prelate was hero to one of the
stories: "To hell with you!' this divine had once
said to his Irish chaplain, from whom the story had
come with the note — " I never before heard his Grace
say the like of that, drunk or sober." Or some royal
duke was so frugal as not to give people enough to eat
THE MORNING'S WAR 159
when they dined at his house, nor light to eat it by;
" You used to be bidden to darkness and gnashing of
teeth." Wherever some illusion of some one's youth
might reasonably have perished, the round, rimmed,
hedge-sparrow eyes would brighten frostily for a mo-
As dinner went on, the rest fell silent, or only put in,
now and then, some ministering query. In pauses the
waiting butler seemed like stillness in motion ; light
airs had begun to roam round the house at dark;
they rose on the ear as if thrown into relief by those
feet's quietude. Guy was silent contentedly; surveys
of mankind, every man steeped in his humor, and none
momentous or rare, were the food Guy had been raised
on. Two brothers, still in the raising, were at table
too, boys of twelve and fourteen in mere count of
years and inches, but old already, in many parts of
the soul, as Ecclesiastes or autumn; grave, rational,
quenched, too skeptical even to disbelieve with a will,
they had outgrown both ardor and rudeness. They
cracked nuts sedately, and listened, and aged.
June had become silent too, more enigmatically.
Her eyes were open and blank as glassed seas, her lips
symbols unused; so, Brow T ne thought, might one paint
the face of Japheth or Shem when he would not see his
father's nakedness. Once their looks met, his
staunchly vacant, as if, for all he knew, she, too, might
be sere, like her family of yellow leaves, and not
merely loyal to them; her looks withheld as proudly
the least gleam of thanks to his eyes for offering her
no ray of comprehension. Outside, as their emptied
160 THE MORNINGS WAR
eyes met, the wind was sniffing at the house; a rose-
bough knocked on a pane lightly. He fancied her ears
caught at the sounds: could something in her be
stifling, in this distilled air, for that rude and strong
one? No sign. Her father's voice, like a clear, tiny
bell, tinkled on; Guy's laugh, with its musical, infinites-
imal chimes, still struck in to help out the case against
having one's breath ever taken away, and the little boys
listened and cracked more nuts without greed, and
ripened towards the grave.
Dinner over, the boys went to bed from the half-
lighted drawing-room where Mr. Hathersage shuffled
softly from point to point, with the flow of his talk
falling slack, till he faded away almost insensibly, like
a cadence, into his study; its rose-shaded lamp on a
letter-strewn table shown through an open door be-
yond a darkling second drawing-room, as harbor lights
shine across intervening seas. He left the doors open,
and so, from their own half-light, the rest saw through
the medial darkness to where he sat, image-like, in a
luminous niche. Soon Guy — he was sorry — must go
off to read Roman Law, with a coach shared by New-
man and him, at Brunt Farm, where Newman had
rooms. When Guy had gone, and some topic with
him, June plunged at another abruptly, with forced
airiness, like one who keeps things going for a wager.
"About Brabburn? Is it appalling?"
" It's glorious." He put it high, by instinct, to bind
himself over to fight out his line.
She said " Oh? " rather coldly, as if to ask, not " Is
THE MORNINGS WAR 161
that chaff?" but "What special line of chaff may
He tried to laugh. " A lepers' island, you'd heard ? '
" No, but — well, lusterless."
•• Waterloo was, till they fought there."
" But — Brabburn ! A by-word ! Tennyson, Ruskin,
Thackeray, Meredith even — how they all scorned it! '
She warmed to the conflict, finding it real.
So did he. " Dante scorned Genoa; yet Garibaldi
came from it." He winced at this slip — to a Catholic —
made in his heat. " Columbus too," he added hastily.
His visible twinge of compunction made her lower
her point till it passed. " Father," she said, " had a
friend, once, from Brabburn, a merchant. They were
both in Parliament then. He stayed here when I was
a child. Telegrams came for him all day ; the baker's
wife, who keeps the post-office, was ill afterwards. He
was ' nice ' ; a little wooden, but quite ' nice,' only — "
Browne, too, re-engaged. " Only — from Brabburn.
See how it clings. If you could say ' I am from Brab-
burn,' your friends would say in a strained, gentle
voice, ' Ah! — from Brabburn? ' and try to be kind to
you, as if you had said ' My grandfather was hanged '
and they said ' Oh? ' softly and quitted the subject —
stole out on tiptoe. Or they'd say ' Well, and how
do you like your life in Brabburn? ' to show they knew
you were a missionary and not really one of the can-
" Would that be a happiness? '
"The happiness; wouldn't it? Brabburn is Lon-
don before they'd built Westminster Abbey; Oxford
1G2 THE MORNING'S WAR
before universities came; it's pre-Shakespeare Strat-
ford. All the overblown flowers are seeding all round
it; it isn't out yet; it's coming. The big things are
all to be done there still — not just the crowding up
after they're done, the commemorating and gushing."
June had tinder for that spark; she could light at
the thought of being in at the painful birth of a great
glory. Yet she must muster against it what forces
she might ; she could not tell why ; some half-heard in-
ternal imperative set her throwing up dams against
some half-apprehended flood. " The big things? " she
" The undone ones."
"What are they?"
' If one could say, one could do them. They're all
novel, indefinable, aren't they, like building Rome —
till they're done? What's the South Pole like? To
say is to get there."
" One could sail south ; one could start anyhow.
But how start, even, at Brabburn? "
" Why not write every day in a newspaper for forty
"You disdain it?"
" Not what you're going to do, at Cusheen, just for
once. But then — "
'One mustn't wholly 'sink into a journalist'?
' Mere ephemeral writing,' and so on? Isn't that just
'Ah — from Brabburn!' over again? A whole craft,
almost, is unmade as yet, waiting, crying out to be
brought to life, as the place does."
THE MORNING'S WAR 1G3
" But can it be ever made noble? Think of the —
She named Roads' last triumph in marketing mean
ness fresh daily.
" Can flesh face steel? Think how sheep run from
She gave a small confident laugh which might have
meant, " Don't deliver your whole cause into my
hands by extravagance." " Don't say that the work is
like a soldier's," she said.
" No. Drums and bugles don't play while you're
" It's not facing death."
" The death-rate in Brabburn is thrice that of Alder-
" But— in war?"
" Brabburn babies died faster last summer than our
troops did at Colenso."
She chilled, hating the line of thought. " You be-
little brave men? "
" I honor them even up to the height of being sure
they chafe at the thought, when medals and orders
come — ' They burnt Joan of Arc ; they put Wallace to
death ; they lionize me.' Wasn't that General Neville
you spoke with, to-day, at the party, the old, sad
" My god-father; yes."
" I saw him in uniform once. You have, of course.
You remember his coat was too small for all the medals
and stars and crosses ? What a life to have had ! And
can't you fancy him now looking back over it, asking
himself is there any last crown of joy that he has
164 THE MORNING'S WAR
missed, and saying, ' Yes, one — to have had all those
things to do, and no one applaud '? "
She could not fancy it : sex, with its specialized gen-
erosity, would not let her; had their talk been of some
achievement and peril kept for women alone, she could
have done it : but then he could not have. Now he was
eager; he would not give in; and the lamp had burnt
propitiously low; the sinking fire looked old; he pressed
on: " Seems, somehow, as if a brave act began to go
bad as soon as praise forms on it — when the flies buzz
up and swarm on it — all the little timorous people.
They soil it ; they would have called the man a crank,
perhaps even a sneak, if they'd seen him go at it, at
first ; when it's done he's some one whose ship has
come in ; he has broken the bank ; he has come off, and
all cowards swear by him. They can be dodged,
though. I found that out at Brabburn. There's work
done that nobody daubs with praise, and people are
used up in doing it well, in the dark, and sneered at
for being staunch. They get battles to fight where
public opinion's for running away, and the man who
runs best is given a title : a man who ran till he
dropped might get a grave in the Abbey."
At each rhetorical sentence's end he thought " Have
I done for myself in her mind?" and then made the
next more provocative still, doggedly putting his all in
jeopardy, as a man searches a lonely house for armed
burglars, forcing himself from room to room. She
was not with him in sympathy; that he could see. To
her the martial qualities were of blood royal; they had
divine rights; she hated any upstart virtue that dared
THE MORNINGS WAR 105
to measure itself against them. And yet, he was giv-
ing himself away; she could see that; it challenged her
own spirit; besides, he had raised the image of a lost
battle fought out to the end ; and that thrilled, though
only an image. So she said, with some haughtiness,
yet half-relentfully : " Does the world contain such a —
journalist? " getting the last word out with a gulp at
its evil taste.
"Two, Bruntwood and Mullivant. You never
heard of them? "
" Though your brother employs them ? Good ! See
how nameless journalists are! '
She was forestalled. What he said was just what
she would have said, but she would have meant " In-
glorious trade ! " And now she could not say it. She
could not even think it. It was as though he had
looked past her, over her shoulders, to some one be-
hind, more generous, and she had turned to see who it
was and found that this other person was she herself,
her more real self, and that what she had taken to be
herself before was only a screen, an outworn, second-
rate version of her, put up for show or defense. ' But
what do they do that's so fine? " she asked hastily, in
her first chafing at this disablement of her outworks.
" Just sit at a desk every night, snubbing baseness.
It canvasses them."
"To do what?"
" To tell people they're right when they're not."
He held in the rhetoric now, a defiant instinct of
straightness shunning the use of the jockeying word
166 THE MORNINGS WAR
where it might not hinder, but help. " Not very thrill-
ing? ' He prompted her to be unmoved if she would.
' Well," she said suspensively, out of her inward
confusions of rearrangement, " no."
' No rushing out of the ranks, with armies ad-
" I suppose they're esteemed in their own profes-
sion," she ventured, attempting the austere tone proper
to safe assumption.
" You spoke of the ," he said. " That's the
head of the trade — Mr. Roads' last paper. How could
Mr. Roads esteem people who don't care to sell lies?
If praise soils, the game is clean as the sea. Oh, you
want Birkenhead decks? You'll get 'em to stand on,
but you'll be alone, or with one or two more, and the
rest of your corps sneering at you ' Crank ! ' ' Fad-
dist ! ' ' It's moral cowardice, really ! ' while they
swarm into the boats. It'll be keeping straight gratis
— just the bare bones of decency."
He spoke as if it were she at the cross roads: she
answered as if it were he; she tempted him.
" If you lived as a soldier you might die like one."
' A ball in the brain, you mean, at the head of a
charge ? "
" Would you give that up too ? "
: You'd have to. I don't believe Enoch miracles
come off in Brabburn. Cancer, a pain in the heart or
spine for a few years, a week's suffocation — there's
no bolting from them. You'd have to face death —
the true horrors of it, the ' natural ' ones." He still
forced the note of offense, lest he should shirk it. She
THE MORNING'S WAR 167
never hedged and he would not ; better be cleanly
maimed by the utter loss of her than gain toleration
by bating a jot of his distasteful ardors.
Surely enough her air was one of distaste. She
was chill ily bewildered. Not that, like quite vulgar
souls, she hugged in mean panic what was current —
the filed judgments and registered valuations. They
were worth something: spots of dry ground amid
waters, at least they gave foothold. But June had
the fortitude of equity; she could be harsh to her own
fears and coldly refuse to deny that footholds, even
one's own, may have to go sometimes, with none in
sight to take their places; a haughty fairness ruled
her and scorned the cheap conceit of finality in her own
old appraisements and took it for granted that what
any one else said for a view that was not hers must be
less than the most that he could say for it if he would.
But she was bewildered and disarranged. Things that
he said made queer new calls on her ; they assumed she
was a person, detached, like a nation, with frontiers,
a being autonomous, equal, free and yet novelly bur-
dened, bound to make out for herself what was right
and what wrong and to stand by whatever result she
came to. June dismayedly felt that she never yet had
been a person, only a piece of the flesh of a family, and
a cell in its brain. What thought of hers had she not
taken on trust? Which of her admirations had not
been formed by proxy? Was there, of all the things
she had said to-day, one that had not been spoken by
When June was dismayed her face and voice would
168 THE MORNING'S WAR
grow icy ; she looked most distantly regal when every-
thing in her was praying for help, or running to and
fro, seeking a life-belt, or abasing itself in deep dusts
of contrition. It was beyond Browne to read her
then. He did not see that the frozen aspect was help-
lessness steeling itself not to wince. He only saw her
austere and spiritually tall, looking securely out from
untold reserves of cold certitude.
So for a silent minute each of them thought how
awesomely strong a case it must be that could count
for so much in the other's mind, till Mr. Hathersage,
brushing the carpet's nap with soft feline pads, came
across to bring them a find from his night's reading,
a sight of the life of the old British India — how envoys
would set out on missions to courts many hundred
miles off, and not move in the heat of the day nor in
the dark of the night; a few miles on a walking ele-
phant's back before breakfast, and then the long day's
peace. He read to find such things and show them to
people, but also to keep up the good accent with which
he could talk to many kinds of learned men in the
dialects of their own several studies, as he talked
French and Italian. He read out cooingly, resting
himself on the thought of that quaint leisure, unlike
to-day's rackety haste.
They listened to the urbane treason to life; they did
not let their looks meet. She, as the helpless will
sometimes do, tried to be angry with Browne ; who,
after all, was this stranger, that he should be let into
knowledge of what was failing under her? Browne
caught no glimpse of that; for all he saw, she might
THE MORNING'S WAR 169
be heart and soul with her father now, and life, which
is always to-day, would never be anything to her,
either, but some bawling cad who must be endured with
only such compensations as irony has for its right
users. Then Mr. Hathersage yawned with a candor
so child-like that it was not rude; rather, a confidence;
he seemed to have gone, with his guest, behind Madam
Courtesy's back, and to trust his guest not to tell her.
" Youth, youth! " he crooned, with a little shiver, on
hearing about their plan for the mill : to go they were
only waiting for Guy. " ' Lusum it Maecenas, dor-
mitum ego,' he murmured, and crept up to bed as
June, moving about to replace a used book, stood
still for a second; she looked up, through a window
and through the glass roof of a greenhouse outside.
Browne's eyes, following hers, saw a round moon,
remote and abstract beyond the filtering screen of
double glass and interposed room, ride high in bare
" What a night ! ' he said. Indeed Lorenzo and
Jessica might have capped ecstasies in it.
She said " Yes," with a reluctance, as though her
mind flinched at the scent of some twilight idea not yet
made out, as horses will sweat and hold back, at night,
with a dim but positive sense of the approach of some-
thing of which all they know is the way their ears
twitch and their breath goes.
"A dream that a lion had dreamed
Till the wilderness cried aloud,
A secret between you two,
Between the proud and the proud."
W. B. Yeats.
THEY set out. It was calm now; in the stillness
they heard the owls calling and answering, far
off and near, in firm notes; one huge inquisitive fellow
came floating over their heads in a chain of linked
circles that moved with them, lying outspread on the
air without sound or effort. They passed through a
hamlet sleeping its deepest already against the coming
of daylight and work; only in one or two cottages,
ruled, as June knew, by babies, did lighted panes make
yellow squares against the milky radiance that filled
outer space. Past the hamlet they toiled up a path in
loose sand to the edge of the Hurtwood, a huge com-
mon, miles square, of pine, gorse and heather capri-
ciously patterned out, here a few acres of one, and
The first mile of the three to the mill they walked
almost silently. Guy smoked, by June's leave ; June
laved her cheeks in the cool air — they had dust and
heat on them, she felt ; dust of her father's and
brother's probing and peering about among things that
turned dusty under their hands at their incantatory
THE MORNING'S WAR 171
murmur of " Yes — everywhere cobwebs! " heat of her
inner fight against giving them up, those two — and
against not giving them up. Oh, it was all heat and a
maze, and unbearable things calling out to be done,
this way and that : impossibles had to be chosen among.
By the end of the mile she thought she had put
things in order within. She tested it — tried how well
she could make talk of trifles — of Italy, Oxford, the
Temple, where Guy now lived and Aubrey had meant
to. She thought she was getting on well. As they
walked, the mill, now in sight, black on the sky-line,
bulked always larger and higher. June pattered away
at her skimmy stuff; had Aubrey noticed, the air was
warm where the pines were, but it chilled at once where
the gorse began, and was it not sure to be fine all night ?
— the pheasants were roosting far out on the boughs.
She scarcely waited for answers. She clung nervously
to the lead, the social command, the hostess's suze-
rainty over people's relations.
The mill rose high out of pines, with tough old
heather under them, leathery stems and broomy
sprays ; feet caught in them or slipped on them ; it was
a breathless stumble up the last slope ; even June's vol-
uble trepidation was put to silence; before they had
reached the top Guy, the man of inaction, was puff-
ing. Arrived at the door he dropped on a long bench
beside it. Many farmers had polished the seat already
a century since, sitting there to talk of Boney and how
the great war went, while the meal that they had come
for was being ground out to the end.
" For me," fluted Guy, " enough of ambition.
172 THE MORNING'S WAR
J'y suis, j'y reste. In, you others; follow aloft the
phantom of aesthetic repletion. Here, below, man
wants but little — a warm coat, tobacco, woolly gloves
— the means of life and of contemplation. I have
them. In, my friends; leave me."
' Oh, Guy!" June broke out to upbraid, and then
stopped in dismay at her own dismay and trod down
as a weakness the instinct that had cried out.
In at the little unfastened door the two stooped,
with Guy's last benediction on their attire amid the
dusty hazards of the interior : forty years had the mill
been disused. They lit match after match; they picked
a way across the rotten boards of the floor to the first
of the three ladders leading up from story to story.
' Ought to be chockful of tramps," he said at one
pause. They listened. No sound came, of moving or
snoring. Each heard only the other's breath rise and
fall in its own rhythm. " Harvest late, perhaps."
: Yes, they'll be all in the barns," she said quickly,
wanting to know, by the sound of her voice, that she
was at ease. Strange things followed. In that domed
bell of bricks one's voice rang; hers, when so mag-
nified, seemed to herself like some private gesture spied
upon with a telescope. Why ? What were the words
themselves ? Nothing. That was the trouble : the null-
ness of words was ceasing to avail; screens were fall-
ing; speech, the old veil, without which the mind might
be naked and shamed, was lifting like mist.
They had to walk the floor daintily, not to drop
through to the cellarage. One board in two had been
stripped off, to cook some past wanderer's supper or to
THE MORNING'S WAR 173
warm supperless hands. The moon gave no help ; all
it did was to baffle, leaking through chinks of the shut-
tered windows to play freakish fantasies of spots and
streaks before their feet; once it tricked June into
putting a foot through the crumbling paste of lath and
plaster between two cross beams. She gave the slight-
est quick cry and then snatched back, before she stood
safe, the hand that she had held out and he taken.
" Oh, let us get up," she said oppressedly, " out of
this hole," and cut off his next words as if they might
hit her. " Do let us hurry," she pressed.
They hurried, and clambered at last out into the air
through a window-like door, and stood on a ledge of
lead that ran round the base of the roof, leaning their
backs against the lead dome, with the gawky sails
above and below them fixed at the angles which chance
first, and then rust more rigidly, had ordered for their
last quiescence. As they leant he heard her breath's
troubled stir ; it was like some small animal struggling
"You're fagged?" he asked, and, quick in alarm,
" No, no! " she jerked out, with impatience, not at
him, but at the wild Daphne in her that could have
leaped clear from their ledge into space. She chid it
down — vain, immodest timidity; shame on its presag-
" Look ! " she said, ruling her voice. " What we
came for ! ' She pointed. From east and south, a
mile or two off, there ran out to meet one another two
long-backed hills, black masses, and then they stopped
174 THE MORNING'S WAR
before meeting and dropped sHarply down to the floor
of the great southern weald, leaving between them a
space like the bright gap that is cut out of the dark
when the curtain goes up on a stage. The gap was
living with light ; beyond it the moon's full lamp hung
high over the plain, where ground mists, visionary in
this light, were afloat on illuminated meadows.
He made some sound, not of words, and she forced
a light tone. " Docs that mean you feel just a kind of
balked willingness to be charmed? The feeling one
has at a Baedeker place with three asterisks? I'm
sorry. I shouldn't have trumpeted so." She rushed
on; she had to be talking; what might not be heard
if a stillness came, what flood topping its banks?
Low, rolling pine music was round them : she clutched
at the topic. " Isn't it like the noise of London, far
off, heard from Kensington Gardens — the middle of
" Do you know, it never quite ceases? There's no
air so still? "
She kept her voice sounding. " Strange, how easy
it is to tell that soughing noise from the murmuring
of beeches! "
" Yes, or from dry grass when it shrills."
She had wished him to talk, but now, when he did,
there sprang up in her, sudden, touching, disarming, a
sureness that he too was doing what she was; he too
was far out at sea, as alone and unhelped as she, on his
own little improvised raft of words, the first comers to
THE MORNING'S WAR 175
hand, all that he had to put between self-mastery and
deep waters. Her peril drew back; she felt, for the
moment, sorry only for him ; she saw him a child that
has some need, or pain, but will not cry out.
" Look! The sea! ' Her voice was self-forgetful
for the first time. " Quick, while the gleam lasts."
She pointed out southward, but he did not look the
right way. " Quick — it's going," she said. Trying
eagerly to put him right, she touched his arm with a
He did not look, even then; he said to himself,
" The kind hand! " as if he were alone and caressing
a memory that enchanted. Half aroused from that, he
looked round and down and met eyes that were up-
turned and shone, bent on him, lost in him ; some film
was on them, like that on profoundly stilled pools, yet
they quivered; each little glistening lake vibrated un-
broken; they swayed as a moored boat sways in a
stream and yet is moored tautly. Then he too lost all
hold but that; all of him lived along the line of his gaze
into those deeps. Not like people who choose what to
do, or who think " This may be right," or " Thus far
may one go," they drew to each other. There was that
thing to do in the world, nothing else; the nobleness
of life was to do thus. Yet in this rush of their first
rapture each of their staunch souls was ruled by the
firm powers built up in itself through all its continent
youth, she to a gallant trust that would have given him
even her lips, and he to a passionate guard over pas-
sion; he kissed only the lids of her eyes as they closed
on the love that they had let in.
176 THE MORNING'S WAR
How long had they clung so? Neither could tell.
The rolling pine music had rolled on through lives and
round worlds. It is said that in dreams you may live
years in the instant in which you are awaked. Guy
had not called, the moon still hung where she did, when
each drew loose a little from the other's arms and
looked at the face which had once been unwon.
Speech had to come. She broke their descent to that
earth. " The sea ! " she said, letting them down on the
wings of a playfulness; " you never answered me."
" It was so long ago."
' I must show you again." She pointed to where,
through a rent torn in drift mist, a sheen was seen
dancing. " The moon on the Channel," she said, and
then, simply : " You have not religion. Yet you are
" I ! " he said, wondering.
" You're like God, the way a child is like a father.
You can do things in His way. ' The earth is His and
He made it,' and you can look at things and they're
new ; they're made at that moment, and the morning
and the evening are the first day." She spoke almost
wildly, as if she fluttered wild wings against the walls
of inexpressiveness that cage love.
He cherished her, soothing those wings. " Love, it
is love ; it is like that ; I felt it to-night — you remember,
at dinner, the way the wind prowled and whined round
the house. I caught myself laughing with glee at the
very thought of a house, a room, the first room ever
made — the cute little cube of still warmth safe and
snug in the middle of all the rush of coldness."
THE MORNINGS WAR 177
He laughed, and her mood drew in to his. ' And
I sat by my fire last night," she responded, " and sud-
denly felt a sort of glow of the triumph the man must
have had who first lit one."
" The jolly miracle ! "
" Yes, warming his toes."
" We're being born, really," he said. " The first
time was nothing — mere passing out of sleep into a
" Yes, all the dear hum and thud of the big world
thrown away, wasted on us."
" Yes, or only just booming and droning on into a
place in the ends of old dreams."
The two drifted down the same eddying current of
reverie ; each voice trailed the very rhythm of the
other. " But now — " As they breathed that together,
too, their eyes joined and were tangled again. She
nestled close, barring everything out of her heart but
the moment's indestructible joy. Let everything wait
but that; she had to be harvesting. Long afterwards,
over her head as it lay against him, his voice came to
her, from distances; he had come out of their trance;
he must have been — yes, she was sure he had been
turning back to what she had said : " religion " — she
heard the word and then " it's dim to me, all that
side," he was saying; "not ugly darkness, or cruel;
only an end that comes to light, harmlessly, the way it
does in the evening."
The words were being pressed out of him, one by
one, each of them hard sought, for the help it might
give to a frankness that tried not to hurt. She gave a
178 THE MORNING'S WAR
slight moan, not at his words, but at the breaking of
her ecstasy. He did not know that.
Aroused, she looked up with eyes wet with tender-
ness ; tenderness shook and lowered her voice, it had
possessed her so. He did not know. How could he
think love for him stronger than that mystic passion
of which he knew nothing except that half the world
seemed to be moved by it? He saw only the shock of
his creedlessness bruising her.
She saw part of his trouble and broke out in con-
solations, assurances, hopes — he might find faith at
Cusheen; there were miracles there — he would see;
one might happen to him. " When you come back I
shall look out from the walls for you, shading my eyes
with my hands. I shall know by the light round your
head." Her voice had that wildness again; she was
rapt, and he could not analyze. Her exaltation was
beautiful to him; he gloried in it; and yet in those
transports she seemed to be less his; lustrous, as visions
are, she took on, too, the precariousness of a vision
as if, when she knew him for what he was, she might
fade back, with her kind eyes still on him, into estrang-
ing brake and mist.
Panic seized him; he wanted her back; to hold her
he took her name, now his to caress, and played with it
— what name was like it — June, the sweet o' the year?
Why, his, she retorted; Aubrey, Aubrey, it had the
dawn in it — rose-colored mists, and the first lark, and
They flitted from this to that, not talking much
about love, nor like lovers in books, for there were no
THE MORNING'S WAR 179
readers there who had to understand them. They
rambled; they made little rushes hither and thither,
taking possession of new corners of Eden with little
happy, irrelevant, incoherent cries of discovery.
" Twelve o'clock and a starry night, but a wind
rising." Guy's voice came up to them, placid and cool
as spring water. He had strolled out from his bench ;
his cigarette's end could be seen, a pulse of light, rising
and falling. " Is London in sight, good people? '
Oh — London? They looked for it. Clouds had
mounted the north-east sky on the wind, their under
side sullenly flushed with a turbid glow, with more of
darkness in it than light. That was London, flaring
sootily up to heaven. More clouds rose fast ; the wind
roughened; the two shivered on their high perch.
They groped their way down in thickening darkness;
the moon was put out. But he held her hand now.
Blow wind, come blackness and winter, he held her
hand. All the way home the cries of the owls, the bark
of a fox, the far-away whistle of a night mail were
calls blown on bugles and clarions, tossing triumphantly
up and down, here clear on the crest and there lost in
the trough of the long waves of sound now heaving on
seas of murmuring pines.
" When that I was and a little tiny boy."
Twelfth Night, Act v. Sc. i.
BROWNE was legging it hard up and down the
deck before the mail boat cleared Holyhead Har-
bor and struck out for — well, for what? What was Ire-
land more than a word to him ? How would it feel to
be there ? Now that he asked, he found out that he had
not even a formed expectation. What a young ass he
must have been not to question his Irish parents more ;
they must have loved to talk about everything Irish,
yet scarcely a word of what they had said occurred to
him now as he went back the way they had come. He
rummaged his early memories. Vivid and small they
came back as his walk quickened, the things they used
to recall of their life before he was born — the in-
finitesimal flat at Florence, the vintage at Dijon, at
Bellinzona a grumpy innkeeper, the doctor at Paris
who talked bad metaphysics ; each recollection began
to shine out, as his mind warmed, like one small picture
on a bare wall. But almost everything Irish had
faded. Oral tradition went back no further than those
two years of foreign travel before he was born.
They must have come to England to nest for him.
That must have been why they pitched upon Strand-
on-the-Green, with mid-London and all its good
schools within reach, and bought the ugly small house
THE MORNING'S WAR 181
looking out sunnily on to the Thames which no one
could build over. Houses, of course, had been cheap
on that decayed waterway of moldering names —
Chiswick, Brentford, Isleworth, places with foreshores
lined with leavings of atrophied occupations, with fly-
blown taverns, ferries that only just paid; barge-
builders' wharves from which the ring of hammers,
turned to music by the liquid sounding-board, came
always slower than last year ; eyots with banks slipping
down and baring the roots of great trees, nobody
minding; stretches of ageing green mud between the
eyots and the mainland, with water-logged boats, and
bones of old barges, sticking half out of it. Shutting
his eyes he stood still for a moment; yes, he could
place each faded green summer-house, speckled with
burst paint blisters, rotting away at the river end of
the long-grassed garden of some house to let, the pleas-
ance, no doubt, in its day, of some Georgian cit.
He walked on, still more gaily; the vivid image of
melancholy things delights happy people, as firelight
gains a last charm from the sound of dripping eaves.
And merely to image anything was delight ; how one's
mind leaped about, running to this side and that, as
one walked, like a dog out with a man! He let it; he
looked on, amused, almost patronizing; it brought
half-forgotten old things to his feet for sport, as re-
trievers do — the first joy of the river, forbidden at
first, and how he had won the freedom of it by force
and fraud, the furtive wadings at first ; the perception,
when a ninth birthday brought manhood, that now
he must swim; the swift, guilty stripping among the
182 THE MORNINGS WAR
osiers in April; the drying with handkerchief and cap,
and then the return home, the detected damp curls
and blue nose and the slapping and putting to bed;
and, next day, more swimming practice, but just after
breakfast, so that all the rest of the morning might go
to running about at high speed and rolling down a
grass slope, to induce perspiration and dirt, for safety;
and how, with these precautions, the cause had
marched prospering till he could throw off at dinner,
as if by the way, the remark that now he could swim
right across at high tide. No storm had broken ; his
father had only asked him " What stroke ? " — a lum-
inous question. The duck never lived that would like
to hatch hens.
Recollection gamboled along, taking the order of
time — how, when once free of the river, he caulked
with red lead, penuriously saved up for, a marvelous
old canoe that a former tenant had left in a shed.
Why, aboard her he must have spent almost every
holiday hour for five or six years, ravished with the
perpetual entertainment of seeing the way rivers work
and the way they look while working — all the various
symbolic boilings and twirls of surface eddies over
different submerged objects; the wayward-seeming
tricks of silting and scouring that drew and re-drew
the lines of channels; the consternation of water-rats
when a great tide had flooded their holes and they had
to kill time by swimming and running about, with
their nerves all on edge, till the deluge had abated ;
the way the stream did not flow straight down its bed,
as you might have thought, but stumbled along like a
THE MORNING'S WAR 183
drunken man in a walled lane, first bumping into one
bank and then rebounding obliquely to cannon against
How splendid his father and mother had been, not
to set upon him and take away from him firmly the joy
of prying into his dear river's life, and prove her a
pest in a book, with a mileage and tributaries. At
twelve he had not read a word of geography, only the
JEncid with his father, and plenty of Horace, and
Telemaque with his mother, and Hugo's Quatre-vingt-
treize, and by himself, Don Quixote, in Jarvis's Eng-
lish, and Galland's Arabian Nights, Smollett, The
Newcomes, The Vicar of Wakefield and Robinson
Crusoe, read over and over again till he knew the
rhythms of every part that he liked, as one knew the
lines of a friend's shoulders.
This profane learning, unsicklied by any close traffic
with grammar or history, an Aubrey of twelve had
carried to Blackfriars, noblest of London's great day-
schools. London had opened then; London was his —
streets full of things to get a delighted sense of; fallen
horses to be watched with agonies of compassion, but
utter inability to miss the minutest detail of their
resurrection; drunken men, captive or yet free; fire
engines to pursue to any extremity; once an attempt
at suicide — a swollen bundle of clothes floating up on
the tide, and a boat making after it with the oars
bending! once a corpse on the Blackfriars foreshore,
stiff as a short stick and bloated beyond thought, with
a policeman on guard in his pride of official insensi-
bility. Oh, ample life !
184 THE MORNING'S WAR
Then the rise of the theater: first, the slow matur-
ing of plans for a Saturday afternoon when his parents
would not be at home to miss him, then the hard run
at noonday from school to the two hours' fight for his
place at the old Lyceum's gallery door; you fought
for your place in those days. It was Irving and Terry
in Much Ado About Nothing. How the world had
swelled! On the heels of the vast emotions, with
which he had perspired and shivered all that afternoon,
had come the first misgiving that some parts of life
were left out in the house in the river mists, where all
the talk was of what the Vatican was to do next, and
the terrible prices of things, and where no word seemed
to have come of this game of human gaiety sparking
at contact. People, he now saw, had friends to their
houses ; they danced ; some one made music. Much
Ado About Nothing proved that. He must learn to
dance now, at his ripe age of fourteen, as Claudio and
Benedick did, and other men of the world.
After some weeks of coming close up to the plunge
and then shying away, the explorer of life had pushed
irrevocably through a greasy baize door labeled
' Bellaggio : Dancing for Stage and Drawing-room,"
in a small street of blighted appearance, off Drury
Lane, and near Aubrey's way home, and had asked a
lady with a bluish face in high impasto what it would
cost to learn to dance " like other people," or, as he
alternatively defined it, " enough to go to parties."
A pact had ensued that imposed on Aubrey six months'
daily walking or running of four extra miles, to save
train fares, the bluish lady consuming the fruits of this
THE MORNINGS WAR 185
retrenchment, while Aubrey danced gravely for twelve
separate hours among knowing youths, giggling young
women, and persons who were there not wholly as de-
votees of the art. And all to what end? 'Little
idiot I was! " he could say to himself now, with kindly
contempt. For he had clean forgotten, like Robinson
Crusoe, to think how he should launch the craft when
it was fashioned. Dance he never so featly, where
should he do it? No other child had ever entered
the house at Strand-on-the-Green, nor any adult friend
either. The talent, new from the mint, must lodge
in him useless — so he had owned to himself with apol-
ogetic candor a day or two after the twelfth lesson
A sager inspiration had followed. To dance, two
were needed; music, heavenly music, was cultivable
by one. But what instrument ? Strings, for choice :
it was strings in that scene in Much Ado About Noth-
ing. And, conning advertisements hard, he had per-
ceived that the only serious stringed instrument really
in question, for men of his means, was the banjo. The
means — amassed during another six months — were
nine shillings; frugality at the mid-day meal-time
could no more. With these nine a remote Whitechapel
barber had had to be faced; he had announced an old
banjo at ten, but it fell to the nine after a desperate
set-to, in which Aubrey, half -dead with shyness, had
doggedly hung on, bringing into the field every ruse he
had seen his mother practise of late at the side door in
combat with hawkers.
When swords were dropped and the barber, like the
18G THE MORNING'S WAR
exalted spirit he was, had thrown in a sixpenny manual
of the instrument, Aubrey had limped home with the
spoils, covenanted and uncovenanted, making faces
with exultation in shadows where no one could see.
Only late on that day of triumph, when he would fain
have struck his lyre, had he run right up against a
second dead wall — he could not tell which note was
which; he had no "ear"; he never could even tune
the thing. For hours he strummed at the strings,
hoping dimly that recognizable melody might emerge,
and searching the book for some clue to the exit from
a perplexity which must surely have vexed the noviti-
ate of many masters. No use. At bed-time he had
hidden his banjo away, for good, in a dark corner,
well at the back of the loft, without internal whining;
at least he had not that shame to soil or sour the fun of
remembering all that foolishness now. Walking alone
he had picked himself up whenever he fell and had
rubbed his shins and gone on.
His shattered finances had sent him next to cheaper
fields than those arts. Once he had walked to Epsom,
a bare fourteen miles, stared all day, ravished above
earth, at races, the ring, the booths, the welshers,
three-card-men and tipsters, and stumped home at
night with his legs re-entering into his body, but his
mind brimming jocundly with the day's takings. For
milder joys there was the National Gallery; standing
for some time and thinking of nothing in presence of
the big Turner beside the big Claude would induce a
turbid, inarticulate solemnity and melancholy that felt
luxurious; there were the docks, where the sight of
THE MORNING'S WAR 187
bales labeled Bagdad and Balsora produced agreeable
sensations; and there were the parts of Mayfair that
came into The Neivcomes, preferably Park Lane,
where he would stand on the opposite curb, consider
the make of the houses, relish the forms of blinds or
the dusky gleam of a picture-frame caught by the sun,
and meditate possession later. Thence he would re-
turn home slowly, in measureless tranquil beatitude,
his senses, well fed as they were, still able to take light
refreshment en route from the sweet sea-like roar of
the Strand. That music would turn off and on when
two fingers placed on the ears were pressed down or
raised up, as though on the holes of a flute, or, with
both ears open, he hearkened musingly to the gentler
thud of the hoofs as the 'buses slowed down to form
queue through the gut, now gone, west of the island
church of St. Clement's. He trailed dusty feet home-
wards, with no dust on his spirits ; it would have been
laid by the blithe way the first lamps decked the first
twilight, or spirited away in some vesper rhythm of
thought set going by the whole restward trail of the
black-coated hosts homing for the night, looking so
extraordinarily different from their morning faces
He had had a regard for these beings. Safely as-
sured that they would not speak to him, he would pur-
sue their possible doings out of his sight, image with
regret the precipitate breakfast of one who had run
for the train, or lay out, for those who seemed rich,
delectable draft lives of going to races all day and
plays every night. He had tracked some of them into
188 THE MORNING'S WAR
their various churches. He had never been brought
to church, but it seemed to be one of the things that
people ran after, like going to races, and so he must
see to it. He had not known at first whether you paid
at the door, as in theaters, or when you left at the end,
as on Hammersmith Bridge, or when. So it was in
some fear of ejection, he being a very apostle for des-
titution just then, that he penetrated to one or two
shrines, apiece, of Anglicanism, Dissent, the Roman
Catholics, the Jews, and the conscious, pleased Athe-
ists. He preferred the Roman and Anglican modes,
putting the Anglican first, for the lovely sound of its
prayers. " Almighty God, the Father of all mercies,
we, Thine unworthy servants, do give Thee most hum-
ble and hearty thanks — " To hear this was like being
stroked on the hair when tired; it was not praying,
but having prayers answered. Still, the Roman use
had its virtues; for one, the remote, sinking hum of
some parts of the Mass, like the ambrosial softening
of a bumble bee's buzz as it passes out through the
window into hot sunshine; that golden droning made
one's own thoughts run sweetly, whatever they were;
it elevated inattention to itself into absorption in other
ideas, unlike the Nonconformist worship, which jolted
and exacted and kept you in torment lest the man
praying should not know what to say next, and be
Queer sort of being, Aubrey began to think, to offer
itself to June, for her to be with, all her life. A close
little animal, too. Not a word about those vast adven-
tures had he ever said to his father or mother. He
THE MORNING'S WAR 189
tried to remember now ; no, not one : it had not even
occurred to him. During meals the parents had nearly
always talked about household bills and Biblical critics.
He had listened and, somehow, never asked questions.
Neither had they. Unhelped and unhampered, his
mind had poked and peered about, this way and that,
touching things, stroking them, left alone with his
own sense of the feel of them. It had seemed natural
so. But why? It was odd, really; so he felt now. It
was not as if he had not cared for his parents, or they
for him. Affection between the three had been not,
perhaps, a caress, but a clutch, silent and almost grim ;
the inner flame had burnt up all outward profession,
it was so fierce. He thought how in his bed one night
at Strand-on-the-Green he had imagined one of them
dead, and remembered the pains he had taken before
breakfast next day to clear from his face the stains of
the night's shamefaced agonies. He had been ill the
month before and his father had sat by him, so unable,
for grief and fear, to play the cheerful, sick-visiting
elder that Aubrey, peering at the stern face from out
his blankets, had wondered whether his father was
thinking of killing him — quite justly, the way the cat
killed its young ones when they were sick and both-
ered her. " And I never saw ! Little brute ! '
He was sorry and yet he could not wholly regret
anything. To the man newly happy in love all his old
life is a chain of miracles miraculously linked. Had
but one link been not what it was, he might not have
ever met her. So all the links are treasures; he doats
on them all; queer things that some of them looked,
100 THE MORNING'S WAR
perhaps, at the time, they touch him now with their
dim and faithful striving, as of kind blind hands,
towards the divine end that has come. Aubrey was
not rent now when he saw, for the first time clearly,
how his own crescent needs had made passionate
misers of two generous people. The deck he walked
on was empty, the ship light ; elate on the sea she
skimmed like a plate thrown flat over the surface of
water, with preternatural-seeming buoyancy, helping
thought to be buoyant. The night was beautiful with
stars, and the sea only moved as the flesh does in sleep,
with the lovely heave of the measure of life. He was
not rent, but touched, as if by some old sad thing
turned to beauty in a book. In that way he saw how
his mother, at some point in talk over swollen school
bills, would leap up to lower the gas by which she
read Renan to his father, or would flinch away at the
last moment, jibe the conductor never so rudely, from
the halfpenny bus which she used to take sometimes
when much tired and parcel-laden with the day's for-
aging. He had ruled all that shopping ; his growth
had taught her to feel, like yachtsmen, for each breath
of favoring air that rippled the least patch of the mar-
ket, swiftly diverting her custom from her old grocer,
grown too grand, to the little man just setting up and
straining his prices to catch business. Aubrey and no
other, by kicking his toes through his boots, had shown
her how little the world's rough classification of but-
termen, one as dear and another as cheap, reflected
the undulant diversity of truth; one, when you came
to know, had fair eggs at the price, another charged
THE MORNING'S WAR 191
frightfully much for all but bacon, for butter you
threw your money away if you did not go to a third.
It was when Aubrey's plunging elbows and knees had
outgrown her tailoring that she foreswore certain
orders of shops altogether and bought from hawkers,
whose fish and greens she would beat down at her
door, steeling herself to assume a forced tactical calm
while the indignant adversary withdrew, at the crisis
of a bargain, almost to the garden gate, her prescient
heart saying he would come back, broken, to take the
penny off the plaice. What deceits she had learnt
from him. Her privy share in the household washing
had grown like a British Empire. Soon after the talk
of Aubrey's going to Oxford began she had annexed
to her sphere his father's white shirts and collars, the
laundry profession's last inch of ground in the house.
Not to wound Bridget the general servant's respect
for her place, the prey would be hidden till Bridget's
night out; the moment the garden gate clattered be-
hind her a guilty pair flew to the scullery, one to
wash, wring, dry and iron in tremulous haste; the
other — half seen by Aubrey through reek as he de-
scended with some stumper in /Eschylus for solution
— abetting the principal in the fraud by reading aloud
the last big German on Genesis.
Possibly some potential, semi-presentient father in
Aubrey helped to soften remorse in Aubrey the son.
We are all young gods in our turn and accept sacrifice
coolly from women and men. Perhaps it works round
to something roughly just in the end, and debts can be
paid, if not to those whom they were owed to. When
192 THE MORNING'S WAR
we, too, turn into worshipers, after our godhead has
lapsed, then we too would not have the smell of our
incense spoiled for the real gods, the new, young gods,
by their knowing how incense has to be scraped for,
sometimes. Aubrey had ceased walking; he stood in
the bows, leaning over, watching the ship's stem press
eagerly through the luminous water. The sound held
him; it was like that of some audible motion too swift
to go on, like the swish of a paper-knife quickly cut-
ting a page. Not agonizingly, nor yet sentimentally,
he wished that those two could be alive; he would have
been frank with them now ; he would have given away
every secret of that absurd, burrowing, surmising imp
that he had been; he would have liked them to know
he was theirs more, not less, for this new love ; and they
would surely have liked the thought of him here, with
the wind of the boat's speed cool on his face, as it
carried him through the mild night, back to their Ire-
Somewhere in the ship's vitals a bell struck ; the
engines stopped. Under the bows the cleaving sound's
insistency failed by degrees; the tall new page was
almost cut now. He watched till the prow scarcely
rippled the water. Then he looked up, and lo, it was
Ireland — lights on a pier; a lighted train waiting; be-
hind that, a sleeping town lightless and enigmatic in
morning twilight; behind that, again, all the reserve
of dark hills.
"I have been here before,
But when or how I cannot tell :
I know the grass beyond the door,
The sweet, keen smell.
The sighing sound, the lights around the shore."
D. G. Rossetti.
IN Aubrey's first letter June read : — " I had a new
joy when I landed. Every one talked in the way I
should have done if I had been in the place of him.
Porters and beggars and newspaper boys — they were
all I, put to those jobs. It's a strange place — I know
it better than any I ever was in. It isn't the brogue;
it's the way their minds catch a thing when it's thrown
them — the gesture, its naturalness. So it's like coming
home ; at home no one is odd.
" This hotel is the one that priests stay at; scarcely
a tweed coat at breakfast. The priests seem most
natural, to me, of all. Perhaps it's because they're
what English parsons are trying to be, only the par-
sons can't quite get it out, and so the priests are more
like them than they are themselves, as good portraits
are. The way the priests argue, the way they quote
Horace, the way they talk about their bishops, the
way they're nice to the heathen, and yet he's a heathen
— it's all part of something I seem to know as I never
knew England nor anything there, except you.
104 THE MORNING'S WAR
" All clay I have been clinging to side-cars, going
about to see people, show my first credentials, and get
others, and all that. I called on the great prelate — I
had a letter to him — and his welcome matched every-
thing else ; a courtly prince of your Church, and yet I
was mystically prepared for the thing he'd say next.
' You're an Irishman too ? ' he asked, towards the end.
I had felt it coming. ' The County Monaghan, is it? '
As if I could tell! My father never seemed to have
time to talk of things here. But I recollected just then,
by good luck, how my mother had let it out once that
a Cardinal Doran had been some remote cousin. I
couldn't forbear; I played my cardinal, proudly. I
think it did good. The Archbishop looked quite in-
trigued, and his chaplain, who'd hovered about all this
time, pulled up dead for a second as soon as I put my
trump down. No doubt it was just polite show of
interest — all the questions they asked after that.
They all have manners, your clergy. I told all I could,
by way of acknowledging it.
" The Chaplain has come round this evening.
They're wonderful. He had a plan, all made up, to
save me trouble by passing me on from one parish
priest to another, all through the whole West. I'm
starting to-morrow. I shall be like a bucket used at
Maynooth to put out a fire. There — see how I can
babble about the things that don't matter, and nothing
about the only great thing. I've tried, and given up.
" ' Dumbed by aiming utterance great,
Up to the miracle of my fate.'
THE MORNING'S WAR 195
" I have a great fear, too, of saying some things
the wrong way — lest the pain come up in your face,
and I not there to tell you the way I'd meant it."
The first time that June read the letter she felt she
must have missed the chief part of it out. After the
fifth or sixth reading she knew that what she had
missed was not there ; it was only a letter, and not he.
She had furtively hoped that, each time he wrote, it
would be, while she read, as if he were back; she
would be as she was when beside him she looked
along the line of his sight and bent up, for her own use
and delight, his communicable strength. No hope of
that, she saw, now; he was really gone; parted was
parted; letters would only animate thoughts of that
miracle ; they would not do it.
She scanned the letter first in her room, in a hurry,
half afraid of it, glancing over the pages of unread
words as if they were the upturned faces of a crowd
that might do to her she knew not what. Then it was
all read through in the garden among the crumbling
hollyhocks, and again on the caked field-path through
stubble as June walked to the village, and then, many
times, in the afternoon, in the secure solitude of the
Hurtwood pines, her horse standing wondering what
the delay was and bending round looks of mild chiding
at her long motionlessness. The gentleness of his re-
monstrances touched her at last; she put the letter
away, patted his neck and apologized; now they would
have a good gallop. She needed it ; she had grownchilly
before she looked up. She looked round; everywhere
196 THE MORNINGS WAR
brownness and fall, an ebb and a closing in. She had
exulted in it only yesterday; youth always does, when
its own flame is undamped ; morning and spring in the
blood delight in their own effortless victory over what-
ever it is that casts down the ageing year. But, just
now, a frightening thought blew up like a cloud, she
could not tell whence, and traversed her sky — that her
spirit had no valiant heat of its own at all, no high,
unborrowed will to live greatly; that she was like
water; it could be heated, but not heat itself; as soon
as you took it away from the fire, ardor began to die
out of it; so might hers, too, cool away to nothing in
that cold, extinguished moon-world of her father's and
Guy's. She wrote that night to Aubrey, among other
" Do go on loving me. You are cheated, I know ;
if you could see me, even for one glimpse, just as I
am, you'd leave me. You couldn't not do it. You'd
have to say, ' Fool that I've been! ' I hate to cheat
you, and yet I'm in fear, much more dreadful, lest
you get back your sight and just go.
"How tiny that Irish world is! My mother was
some most remote kinswoman of Cardinal Doran's too.
I'll work it out some day ; I'll write to my Aunt Kate —
she is a nun at Rathfarnham. She knows all family
history; she'll help.
" The days are short now ; the heather under the
mill was shiny with dew this afternoon although it
was sunny. Do love me very much — find some way of
THE MORNING'S WAR 197
loving me so that you would go on though you found
me out utterly."
Aubrey wrote next from Banturk, from a priest's
house : —
" I'm right on the edge of the world of trains, shops
and inns. From here you look out westward, over the
verge, and across wet hills, to where Cusheen must
be. Down with these endless wet hills; they're too
like the sea, with the sun setting beyond it, when
you're alone. I shiver a little; I want you here to
draw close to.
" It isn't a merry journey from Dublin. Things
appeared which I hadn't thought of ; and yet, when I
saw them, I knew them and felt half ashamed of hav-
ing been caught forgetting. I came by a night train
to Croom and woke in the bad light before dawn, the
chilled gray, like mist and ashes and fainting faces
and lead. There were crows standing still on the pal-
ings of stations we passed ; they watched the train in
and out; nobody noticed them. Nobody got in or out,
except two policemen with guns. As the light grew
I saw there were skeletons of villages lying about in
the fields, bones of old houses and churches, half out
of sight under nettles ; ivy was sprawling on them.
" I changed to a slower train at Croom and a slower
still at Kanteer. We reached Banturk before eight,
but the priest was waiting. The way they all befriend
me makes me ashamed ; when the next thing to do is
not certain, a good black-coated genie springs up and
108 THE MORNING'S WAR
directs. We walked up a slope to his house. At the top
I looked round and the train was some way off already,
scuttling back to the East with quick, aghast little
puffs, like a beast that had taken fright at the place.
" The priest, Father O'Keel, has his reserve ; per-
haps I seem English. Banturk was ' disturbed,' he
says, a few years ago. He took me a walk after break-
fast; he'd point to a cabin; 'the man of the house,'
he'd say, ' there, was convicted thrice \ ; or another had
served ten months; or ' When I was in Croom jail my-
self I'd see a good third of my people below in the
yard, at their exercise.' He described it aggressively,
almost, and unconfidentially. Poor man, he must have
thought me an Austrian. I told him what a full-
blooded Venetian I am. He did not quite warm, even
then — he only became more urbanely guarded.
" The potatoes are bad even here — ' not fit to offer
a goose, let alone a clean pig,' a man said. The soil is
famished; the bald slopes rise and fall, mile beyond
mile, treeless, featureless ; rain soaking into them week
after week; the wind blows it into the cabins. ' Will
that not content you?' Father O'Keel asked me.
' Two hundred souls in it, and fifty policemen; pig's
food, and that only, to eat for the winter; and next
week, or the week after that, the sheriff's men coming
to drive off any stock that's not starved on -them al-
ready. Will nothing do for you at all but Cusheen
itself? ' He had a dour ruth in his voice, as if it were
I that was going to be hurt. They're all kind here,
but it's shiversome. Keep close, comrade; let's keep
all the lights up in our hearts and the fire roaring."
THE MORNING'S WAR 199
June read it with a new glow. He had been shaken
by something; that grieved her. The way he wrote
made her see how his face would look if it were
haggard; it hurt her to think of him so. But he had
called out to her — it was the first time — as if she could
help in some need, and pain was lost in that joy, as a
mother's is when she first wakes in the night to a bit-
ter little cry for her ministration to some small neces-
sity. Then she scolded herself, as her way was. Had
she not wanted him strong? Had she not felt only
two days before that all her own strength was the
overflow of a few drops from the full vessel of his?
That was true, but so was the other; she craved his
strength, but also his weakness. Let the discord re-
solve itself how it could, she would not shrink from it ;
she would exult in the two clashing notes.
She walked about the lanes for hours that day, try-
ing to stow away into a tranquil place in her treasury
of gladnesses the uncontrollable ecstasy of that dis-
covery. It took long. That day was her richest, she
half knew that no more treasure could come; she had
climbed to the top-gallant of joy. As she came home
the moment's perfectness almost weighed on her; the
world seemed ripe ; it hung finished, lustrous, its great
time reached. A presentient light came ; she saw that,
ten years after, if she should walk in these lanes, she
might feel " how that oak has failed now," or think,
perhaps, that some young ash was a scraggy, poor
thing as yet, or wonder for what strolling lovers some
overblown flower had decked a great day. But not
now. Nothing was past its true prime now, or before
200 THE MORNING'S WAR
it; everything had lived only to be as it was then;
even the things gone to seed by the way could hardly
have their hearts in the past, or the very young things
be pushing towards to-morrow. People, too, of many
ages and kinds, all stood at the delicious crisis of their
lives; for this they had lived, old women with seamed
and drawn faces to be the perfected paintings of pa-
tience and waiting that they were now, and boys to be
running wild with their heels flinging up, for figures
of youth. The world stood up perfect, with no old
transports of joy to ache back at, nor far-off ends for
desire to live in; she stood as though at the middle of
a wheel, with all things and times and people run-
ning in on it like spokes, bent on it and centering
But the note of ecstasy, like that of agony, will not
be held. You may climb from peak to peak of joy,
but the way between them must dip. June was down
from the heights and out of the glow when the next
letter came — from Cusheen at last.
" I have crossed the moor to Cusheen. Such a
moor ! I don't know how wide — leagues and leagues ;
the only moor in the world ; ' a heath,' ' a blasted
heath ' — Shakespeare dreamt it, the time his mind
was just on the brink. We drove for five hours and
saw no one; not a goat, even. There was a wind; the
grass by the road whistled loud enough for a while,
then it dropped to a whine, and then thinned right
away into odd wisps of whimpering. Then it stopped
quite — not the wind ; it must have been the grass that
THE MORNING'S WAR 201
stopped; it starved by the road till the wind had none
left to play on. Then we came to Cusheen.
" Cusheen is not made of earth, like other places
that people live in. It's stone — one rumpled sheet of
it; some drift dirt in the wrinkles, of course, but the
rest just naked; it streamed and shone with rain, like
wet slates in moonlight. That's all I've seen yet. The
few hours I've been here the Father has not let me out
of his sight. He seems to fear I might be knocked
down by the sight of his parish unless he were there to
interpret God's ways. He's always with me — no, al-
ways a little way off; they all are; I'm coming to feel
like a child that has found its way into a wood full of
gnomes of some kind that won't come out and parley,
but peep and draw back and watch from behind trunks
of trees and whisper together and pass him on deeper
into the wood; it always opens a little in front and
closes in behind me. I avow it, I'm solitary, with this
cordon all round, wherever I move, and all with the
one manner — civil and helpful and that, but oh, their
paralyzing tact! It's as if I were going to be hanged
and they might have to hold me down yet. I'm not
of the fold, of course; that must be it.
" You see, I tell all, without shame; if I shiver you
hear the teeth chatter. Still, it is all, I think. I'll say,
after to-morrow. On into the wood to-morrow."
No letter came next day, or the next. Through
those two days June thought she was standing it well;
too well? — she asked herself once or twice, chidingly;
had she grown hard? At the end of the second day
202 THE MORNING'S WAR
panic broke with a rush through the wall on which she
had mounted guard with the staunchness that she had
taken for want of heart. The thing came in the dark;
she had put out her light, she was going resolutely to
sleep, when suddenly the darkness changed ; it ceased
to be innocent ; first an infinitesimal buzz was abroad,
the beat of a droning hot pulse; and then the be-
leaguering terror ran in on her — it came from all
round, it was like a multitude, it was everywhere, as
if the whole air were cellular and every cell of it a fear
for Aubrey, all of them pressing in at the beset brain
to possess it.
She must have slept at moments after that, for some
of the night's train of torments were dream, mostly
the fleet portrait-dreams that stab lovers and friends;
not illusions of action, with time passing, but fugitive
visions of something itself immobile or arrested, as if
she saw, through shifting breaks in a mist, one or
another poignant set look on the most dear face. At
times she saw him appealingly small, a child rendingly
alone with some trouble or frustrate plan. When she
awoke from that, fear itself had to wait while love
grew into twice itself by musing on all that she had
lost of him, the years before they met, when he must
have had a child's sky-darkening griefs and a boy's
dumbly-swallowed humiliations, and she not there.
Other dreams, too; one, monochromatic with dust, of
an end to the world ; every one else in this dream was
dead ; they had not loved enough ; only Aubrey and
she were alive, and he ill in a dim cell of a room under-
ground, out of a tunneled corridor; she tended him,
THE MORNING'S WAR 203
keeping his heart up, until, going out about some of
his needs, she returned to see the earth wall of the
room crumbling loose, and then the bed-clothes slip-
ping away into shapelessness too, like loose sand.
1 Yes, of course, they were spun out of dust, they
couldn't cohere," she was hurriedly telling herself in
the dream, and then saw that his hand, where it lay out
on the sheet, was trickling away into dust too; its dust
and the dust of the sheet streamed over the edge of
the bed together and made one heap on the floor; then
she looked for his face and awoke and lay panting
with the scream still stuck in her throat. And then
it all came again in another form, and then another.
She told him only the last of these, before the light
of release. Night throbbed through at length; as soon
as one bird piped it seemed fair to say, " I have fought
it through now," and to go to her eastern window to
wait for the sun, to make sure of the sun. There was
a little table there, with a candle on it and things for
writing. She wrote while she waited: — "I have
awaked from a freakish half-dream — that you were at
sea, or out on a wild heath, I couldn't tell which, and a
storm was coming. I heard it pass my window on
its way to you ; all the garden rustled and the poplars
must have shuddered white, I thought — a light was
thrown up on the ceiling, but I couldn't warn you, for
some reason, and then the rushing thing was gone past
and the dead leaves danced behind it like bits of paper
after a train; I was too late, it would reach you before I
could ; I couldn't warn you. How good to wake and look
out into the garden ! Ancient, immovable stillness out
204 THE MORNING'S WAR
there — nothing had stirred except in my crazy night-
mare. It was all right. The light in the east was just
beginning to draw the poplars in black, with an edge
like black lace, flat on a sky like a sheet, pearly blue — "
She wrote "was" and not "is"; her letter must
come as word of a little mischance wholly over, not as
a cry out of distress. Love may fear all things, in
secret, but hope of all things must ring in its voice.
So she resolved, but day lingered ; could she be even
sure that the candle was paling? Remember, the blood
was low — she had hardly slept, and it had been
autumn's first frost ; up from her bare feet to the knees
the cold numbed her, it deadened her fingers past writ-
ing. That undid her again ; for the writing had
helped; stoutly to seem to be of good heart is almost
to be of it. Losing the pen she lost hold of herself;
the leagued agues of the shuddering flesh and of ter-
rified tenderness shook her with paroxysms not to be
mastered at first, only kept from convulsive wailing
by dropping down on her knees to kill down thought,
to head it off, instant by instant, with set mechanic
exercises of prayer.
" I prayed for you to Mary, Mother of God," she
wrote on, when she could. That much, perhaps, she
would not hide. And then day came ; the undiscour-
aged miracle of morning broke over downs of dia-
monded gray. Friendly and faithful flame! Surely
no rocket answering a spent ship's burning cry could
ever have burst a ball of kinder fire against the domed
ceiling of night.
" Some veil did fall— I knew it all of yore."
D. G. Rossetti.
IT rained itself out in the night after Aubrey last
wrote. By dawn the clouds had lifted enough to
form a flat awning ; the eye saw uncannily far in the
stratum of clean- washed air between that dark roof
and the ground.
" A grand day for a view," said the priest, after
breakfast; "you'd like to step up to a place that I
have in my mind — not above a few perches from here.
You'll see every acre that's in it." He fingered his hat
nervously, though the words had been cold. A cold
nervousness had been freezing their talk over breakfast
into a few brittle, impotent icicle-stumps of polite con-
Inland the awning of cloud was impaled on a black
mountain. They walked a mile towards its foot, with
a civil fuss about who should go first at each stile.
Then Power turned. " Will you look now? " he said.
Aubrey did. As he turned, moor, mountain and
sea composed themselves into a unity, seemed to have
modeled themselves, like a clay that was its own sculp-
tor, into the image of — what was it? "Why, it's
like — " Aubrey stared at the effigy.
" Yes? " The priest waited.
" Like a bird's foot wading into the sea."
206 THE MORNING'S WAR
" Yes," said the priest, with a smile of wintry pa-
tience, as if one more child had done an old sum.
\ubrey thought he could see all the times that Power
had come to this spot to show English strangers his
cure of stone and brine and to watch straw fires of pity
Hare up for the moment in their eyes and voices.
" You're struck with the way the shank of the leg
comes down out of the clouds? And the size of the
bird you'd imagine above? Did you ever see claws the
equals of those? Or a match for the venomous clench
they have, into the bottom of the sea? "
Aubrey was looking. The seaward foot of the
mountain, Mulvrack, spread into five spined, convex
promontories, high and knuckle-like. Their aquiline
ends struck downwards into the silently tumbling
whiteness of distant waves, and between each of these
claws and the next was a webbing of lower land, half
submerged, its seaward end a fiord. To the side of one
of the rocky talons, a little below where the two watch-
ers stood, but high above the sea, there adhered a hud-
dle of pigmy haystacks.
" I've lost the village," said Aubrey.
" Didn't you take it for haystacks, now? " — Power
made some poor joke — " hard to find needles, ay, or
whole cabins, in haystacks." He must have made it
before ; his smile was a faded one.
Aubrey stared across with unreconciled eyes at the
kraal of mud huts, not even whitewashed; dirt-col-
ored, pendent, they seemed, from here, to stick like
swallows' mud nests to a wall. " But there are no
people ! " he said.
THE MORNING'S WAR 207
The priest pointed a great way down to the shore.
" You see the specks stirring below there? Half out
of the water?"
" Men? " Aubrey asked, with his eyes on them.
"Ay, and women; scraping the sea-weed off from
the rocks. Look, now." Aubrey's eye followed the
priest's pointing finger. Up from the little group of
amphibians a dotted line of other specks, all in motion,
ascended crookedly to a high place inland, just under
the awning of cloud, where the naked stone of the
mountain began to glisten with wet.
"Women, the climbing dots are," said the priest;
" they take the weed up on their heads. Then it's
laid on the slabs you see shining there."
" Ach, a seed'll strike root in it, all in good time."
Aubrey was puzzled ; a little hurt too. He thought :
" The man brought me out here to see how bad things
were. Now he makes light of them."
" There's an advantage," Power pursued. ' When
there's a frost on the peak there, and then sun in the
morning, you'd see the rock come rattling down from
above till it's ground into shale, ay, and that into
sand, almost, to mix with the weed, the way it would
soon nourish potatoes." He seemed to be arguing
now; and that not with Aubrey either, but with some
one standing beside or behind him. Power's look, too,
went that way — past Aubrey's shoulder, as though he
stood impeding the priest's view of some more taking
figure or scene, of the mind's making.
Aubrey groped for a clue ; dim work for a conscious
208 THE MORNING'S WAR
heathen; still, it absorbed and excited; it turned him
for the moment into a being of faculties happy in exer-
cise, gleefully nosing at new trails, because they are
trails, as a healthy dog does. He marveled; so the
priest could go into trance; the priest was the real
thing; he had the stare of the true visionary whose
soul is holding out to the last the high-pitched note of
some difficult beatitude. Could he be seeing, up there
where the rocks sent down from above came to rest,
and the weeds brought up from below were laid, his
God and his own race mystically leagued to broaden
the life-bearing earth ? Rare, glorious illusion, good to
think about. Aubrey admiringly left him possessed
until any more silence might seem like comment.
" Could they not fish? " he asked, to set their tongues
"Is it fish?" The Father looked at him sharply.
" Fish, on a coast the like of that? ' : A gesture almost
extravagant called to witness all the visible miles of in-
dented, harborless stone on which the rollers of the
Atlantic were breaking.
" Is that not a breakwater ? " Aubrey had fancied
he saw a low, ruler-drawn line that ran out from the
end of one of the claws set down into the sea, till it
almost met the tip of another, enclosing a tiny space
with no white fret in it.
" Not a boat is there in it," said Power, as if he were
contradicting a slander. " They did make an offer, a
long time back, at fishing of some description. Many
were drowned at it, one way and another. You'd hear
of their bodies found floating away in the North, dear
THE MORNING'S WAR 209
knows how far. How in the world would a curagh*
find the way in at a hole like the door of a house in the
dark night? " He spoke agitatedly, pressing his case
without any need that Aubrey could see, and then
abruptly dropping it. " Step with me this way a min-
ute," he said, and led the way, first uphill and then to
the right — the South, as the country priest called it.
In this way they crossed from the ridge of the upper
tendon of one of those stone claws to that of the next,
so that a new hollow came into sight beyond the new
ridge ; and, looking into the new hollow, Aubrey saw a
color he had not seen since Banturk. Between the
white breakers below and the faded velveteen brown of
the mountain moor above there stretched a huge mea-
dow of grass. It was luscious ; his eye loved the good
green ; how it must wave in summer, he thought, when
gusts blew in from the west and printed on it in fugi-
tive shadings the scud of their fan-shaped pressure !
Power was eyeing him. " Now, isn't that the good
land?" he asked, when Aubrey could take his eyes
from it. " Not a century back it was stone, as naked
as where they're working above. Their grandparents
made it the fat earth it is. They were put out of it
when it was done; they had to do it again, higher up,
and again higher up, and their children's children are
at it to-day."
" It's beastly," said Aubrey, flushing, the wrong was
so vivid. He had not known of such things.
The priest did not concur and did not dissent. He
*A curagh is a rude boat made of canvas stretched over a
framework of wood.
210 THE MORNING'S WAR
only went on. " Three pounds an acre they pay Mr.
Newman for letting them turn his rock into pasture,
for him to lease to a big grazier at Croom; that and a
half-crown apiece for leave to take the weed from his
ocean to do it with. If it should go on a thousand
years more there'll be cows to the tip of Mulvrack, and
not a tittle left of Cusheen but a few stones in the net-
tles. Isn't it natural? How would the honey be got
and nobody smoking the bees out that made it ? '
Aubrey was glad of the irony. It was of this world ;
it seemed to exhale from good human passions, sane
anger and scorn, homely and sound-seeming moods
after that other remote, warped mood of mystic acqui-
escence in things cruel and foul. And then, in a mo-
ment, the satisfaction was gone ; the priest's look had
seemed to dismiss his own sarcasm ; it had been noth-
ing to him, or only a means to keep Aubrey off, to
hold him in play outside, to amuse him, after his kind,
with trifles, while others unwound behind closed doors
the innermost coils of ecstasy. Aubrey, the black-
balled, the sentenced waiter in ante-rooms, tried to
muster a civil, cheerful defiance; he braced himself
to abide, in this rarefied air, by his vulgar judgments.
" It's beastly," he said, " beyond words."
The priest looked him over. Aubrey's eyes were
away on the fenced Eden of emerald ; still, he felt the
look through his skin, and what the look meant, as he
imagined — that he was a decent heathen, and that, in a
beast which must go on its belly all the days of its life,
it was something to have even the wish to put some
things right on the earth.
THE MORNING'S WAR 211
" There's a beauty about it, too," Power said, in a
tone of secure, proud understatement, as he might have
told a child, who could pick out an A, that there are
fine things in books. He looked Aubrey over again, as
if seeking some point on his person at which the right
arrow, if one could find it, might penetrate. ' Would
you believe it," he said, " that in this and five parishes
round there was never heard of a girl that went wrong
nor a theft but once only? ' Then he gave up, as if he
had suddenly seen or just remembered that it was of
no use. " Not but we're beggars," he broke off with a
little laugh of rather savage humility. " Beggars we
are and taking your help at this minute."
Aubrey could almost have fancied there was a faint
stress on the "your." "Taken for English again!'
he thought. To lighten the talk he told eagerly how
he was Irish ; he rummaged his mind for the few odd
shreds his father had told him about early days —
about the famine and cholera, most of them — how on
a country ride his horse would shy at a body here and
a body there, of those who had died on the road.
Queer man the priest was! He showed, with per-
fect civility, no trace of interest. He could not have
cared less if this sort of thing happened daily and
every one from England turned Irish on his hands.
He almost snatched, in fact, at another subject, forcing
it into connection by hurriedly taking up Aubrey's last
word. " A road beyond there — you came by it last
night — was made in the Famine; " and then Power
checked, with a bitten lip, as if it were not what he
would have said if he had waited.
212 THE MORNING'S WAR
They were walking already across rises and dips m
the shabby brown gloss of the moor, towards the raw
end of the road. It stopped a mile from Cusheen as if
its desire to get there had suddenly failed. From the
cut end of this artery any traffic that coursed it so far
had to spurt out on the open moor; thence the road
only pointed the way to its aim. From where the last
macadam lay, the two looked up the road inland; it
rose for a furlong or two, to a clear sky-line, and
there, drawn large and dark on the sky, was a singular
sight — a man descending swiftly on Cusheen, not on
the road, but beside it, in the rough of the moor, mak-
ing huge strides from tussock to tussock of boggy grass
and leaping springily across the drain trenches.
Power named him almost before Aubrey saw that
he was of middle-age, large-boned and fine-drawn with
hard work and spare feeding. " Horgan, a harvester,
back out of England."
The home-comer had to be greeted. " You're hav-
ing grand exercise, Horgan."
" I am that, your reverence. The drains on the
shoulder above there are the width of the world. And
the number! Three miles or four have I walked in
standin' leps, out of twenty that's in it from Croom."
" And what in the wide world is wrong with the
road? " Aubrey heard his own voice trail an answering
rhythm, as if it had picked up a tune it had liked once
and forgotten afterwards.
Horgan looked to the priest ; he seemed to implore
extrication. The priest gave no help; he looked
THE MORNING'S WAR 213
" Whethen," Horgan spluttered it out, " we med
up our minds, the whole four of us, three and twenty
years back, that we'd not put a fut to it — Francy Joyce,
an' Kilfoyle, an' Michael M'Gurk an' meself. God rest
the souls of the three of them; an', while I'll last,
please God, I'll keep off it enough for the set of us."
" Ah, you're a foolish fellow," the priest chid, with-
out harshness, as if a child had made itself ill with
some mad labor of love.
' Well, I'll be leggin' it home. From this out there's
no bother about it," said Horgan, eyeing with appro-
bation the roadless mile of bog that remained.
'Why was it?" asked Aubrey when Horgan was
For a moment the priest seemed to be choosing be-
tween words. The ones he chose were, " That man
was a cholera baby."
Odd phrase ! — and yet Aubrey knew it. Nothing
is lost from memory — only stored out of the way, and
the key of the drawer mislaid for a while. The key
turned in the lock. ' I've heard about cholera babies,"
he said, surprised that he could say it.
' Some one or other told me. He'd been to a cholera
hospital — some sort of barn, a fitted-up thing — and
two nurses were at a back door shaking the bodies of
dead babies out of their night-shirts on to a heap of
other small bodies they'd done with. The new bodies
slipped about on the heaped ones."
" Horgan was treated so."
"Thrown out for dead?"
214 THE MORNINGS WAR
" He was that. He was born in the Famine. They
went for the rent and found the father and mother
dead on the floor, and she with her mouth full of grass
she'd been chewing, the way she might have milk for
the child. I've heard the child was past crying; noth-
ing he'd do but keep his mouth open and move his head
this way and that, like a young bird starving. They
took it for cholera. So away he was brought and put
to bed in the cholera barns till the head of him ceased
moving, and then I'll engage they were in a hurry,
with this and with that, and there'd be another child
to put into the night-shirt."
" And then? " The priest was too much, with his
labored coldness of tone. Aubrey was modern enough;
anti-sentimentalism was good in his eyes, but not this
stony cataloguing of horrors. It was not honest cal-
lousness — that he was sure of ; nor yet a fair overture,
such as some men make when moved, for a compact
of understatement; it was a blind, a fence, another
implement of exclusion. And why? Aubrey chafed.
Need one be thought a petrified brute for not being a
" Some one was passing that thought there was life
in the child and took it home, wrapped it up warmly
and gave it nourishment — not a thing else did it need."
The priest's voice was slow and frozen; each word, as
it dripped, was like a drop added on to an icicle.
Still, Aubrey felt better now. He had a warming
sense of the deep, plain satisfactoriness of that other
man, who had eyes and a working pity and knew what
to do. " That was the kind of man to have passing,"
THE MORNING'S WAR 215
he grunted, trying to keep a firm lip. He added, in
thought, " And not a priest, or a Levite."
" He was the man," Power said with a gulp, " who
made the road at your feet."
" Made it be made. A Famine relief work. He
gave them no rest in Dublin till they'd set about it."
" Yet Horgan won't use it? "
" You've seen."
" Although that man made it ? "
" No, but because he did."
Aubrey stared blankly. It was not lifelike, all this
sailing dead against strong head winds of natural mo-
tive; it all belonged to the theater, or to old novels;
people in Victor Hugo, people who only existed to cap
a surprise or bring clown a curtain, might be like that.
The priest watched him. " Ach, don't I know," he
said. " that it's foolishness ! ' To the Greeks, foolish-
ness.' Still — " He stopped. His gesture was one
of despair of prevailing over a natural darkness like
night. It was as if he said, " There was I going to
talk about colors, and quite forgot you were born
blind." Then his courtesy came back in a compunc-
tious abundance. " You'd like to get on? " he asked
They left the amputated end of the road. The
Northerner's correspondent was plunged for the rest
of that morning in economic researches. They were
a joy and relief. If you just did them hard, some-
thing came. It was like rowing a boat. And if some-
thing good came it would seem good to Mullivant.
210 THE MORNING'S WAR
That was dead sure. There was still a world where
effect followed cause and the better was always pre-
ferred to the worse. As Aubrey went on with his
work he felt a hankering love for plain bread and thick
wool and stout timber. In the back of his mind he
made lists of such things, and of people like them,
plain people of whole-meal good sense and fleecy geni-
ality and oaken staunchness. Commonplace thoughts
for a " brilliant " young author; but he was in a queer
place and was not sure that its queerness was not in-
vading him; so he felt his way back to take hold of
things that any one can be sure of.
" It's that queer, what people will do for religion."
From the Hedge Schoolmaster's Lucretius.
AT the mid-day meal the cold was intense in their
talk. To Aubrey the priest's house had grown
horrible. Everywhere oil-cloth and oleographs of
saints and trashy stained glass in acrid blues and fero-
cious or sugary reds ; it worked like a morgue on Au-
brey; it gave him cramp in the jaws; the polite words
had to be ground out singly.
Still, he could get away soon to his room, to write,
to transfer to the Northerner's readers the blow
that Cusheen gave to the eye. He went at it hard and
it did him good ; it reassured him that there was still
work on which the will could put itself forth as the fist
does in punching a fixed ball, secure of an unevasive
resistance. The poor devils here were cut off as
though at the top of a burning house; the Brabburn
people had ladders; the thing was, to let them know.
As he wrote, the job bared itself down, in his sight, to
a quest of clear loudness and speed in a call for rescue.
Such work, while in hand, makes all things simple
and turns many courses to one. At least it arrests or
suspends perplexity and misgivings. There was June
— their way on together ran up into mists, as if it were
up Mulvrack ; well, wherever it went, they might hold
together not the less tightly for his having got this
218 THE MORNING'S WAR
tiling done. There was the priest, with his frigid sig-
naling to a fellow across estranging deeps ; it hurt to
be on such terms with any one; still, the priest was a
saint, surely enough, and a saint must have got hold
of Tightness, whatever queer end he gripped of it;
then, whatever was right must somehow be all of a
piece ; its bits must fit in together at last, like a puzzle
map, to make up one whole, though they looked hard
to assort, certainly. So, if this thing were worth
doing, at least he could stand no worse with Power
for putting it through.
He had heard that the post went at sunset. The
letter-box was below, Power said, as he gave Aubrey
tea some three hours later. It stood in the village
" square." " Will you give me your letters to post? ' ;
Power asked. " I'd as lief walk one way as the
No; Aubrey would have no marble pillars of
churches mobilizing themselves to run with his letters.
He said he wanted some air and a smell of the sea.
The priest said he would show him the way.
Aubrey's spirits were up, with the craftsman's heat
still aglow in his head. Was his host really free? he
asked eagerly. Yes. Would it tire the Father if they
went down to the shore now, instead of to-morrow, to
see the weed-gathering?
" Ach, is it tire?' : Aubrey liked the sound-limbed
priest's disdain of the idea. Power looked at his
watch. There was an hour till dark. Work would be
ceasing, but two or three of the creatures would be at
it yet ; John Devine certainly, while he could see ; John
THE MORNING'S WAR 219
was queer in the head, and never any great hand at the
work, and must stick to it longer before he'd have as
much done as another. Power talked on about this
John diffusely, as if perhaps he wanted to think about
something else and must run up a screen of words be-
hind which to do it.
The thin final segment of the sun was dropping be-
yond the high wall of fore-shortened sea when they
left the house; before they had gone the three hundred
yards to the Cusheen cabins the last ray was gone, the
wall of sea was cold black, fretted with cold white,
and the wind, which had never stopped, went whim-
pering about like a starved thing in the clear, colorless
light. Fugitive, apprehensive and cruel, in that light,
if in any, you might think that malice herself was
abroad ; it makes children impish. As Power
and Aubrey came into the " square " at one end — it
was no square, only a small space, a triangular gan-
glion made by the meeting of three rough tracks, with
hovels about it — two urchins of nine or ten were con-
fessing the influence of the hour. The hour itself was
told at the middle point of the " square," on a public
clock at the top of a small, neat column, an odd sight
in a west coast village. Suddenly one boy, possessed
by peremptory inspiration, picked up a handful of mud
and flung it, with the address of a marksman, full in
the white face of the clock. For a moment he mused
on the success of this defilement, before communicat-
ing it to his friend.
" Jemmy," he said, " I'm just after throwin' a gran'
slam of mud at th' ould divil's clock."
220 THE MORNINGS WAR
Jemmy reviewed the good work benignly. " Th'
ould divil!' he said with assenting aversion. Both
picked up more mud.
" Be off out of that," the priest called. They fled
to earth somewhere between the cabins, with rabbit
promptitude, but their voices were faintly heard con-
tumaciously chanting far off, " We'll hang ould
on a sour apple-tree." " Ould " — what ? What was
the name? Aubrey could not quite catch it where it
recurred in this litany of derision, and yet he thought
he had caught it the first time, and yet he could not
say now what it was that he thought he had caught,
so elvish, at times, are sense and recollection as well as
Father Power looked vexed; he walked faster, si-
lently, down towards the sea. The ground became
broken; it kept Aubrey's eyes on his feet for some
minutes. When he looked up the straight line he had
seen from above, ruled on the sea as though on paper,
was close below — a little stone pier, rude but sufficient,
holding a snug, minute haven. Not a craft was there
in it of any kind.
Aubrey turned to the Father, wondering. At the
pier's head a beacon was blinking into brightness, kind
and jocund in the first twilight, but strangely idle above
that boatless sea. Along the pier a man was walking
landward ; he must have lit the lamp.
" It was not the want of a light, then — ? " Aubrey
began. The priest could not have lied that morning.
There must be some honest clue to this riddle. Aubrey
was sure the priest had not lied.
THE MORNING'S WAR 221
Power opened his hands, as one throws up a game.
" I deceived you," he said; " I tried to."
" I'm not flint." He gave Aubrey a new look of
remote and melancholy kindness. It lasted some sec-
onds, as though it might stay there till more were said.
Then it wavered and fell off ; a gap seemed to break in
the straight line of a purpose. Still, he went on as if
through each stage of that mustering and flagging of
a resolve Aubrey's thought must have kept step with
his and would be where it stood when it found speech
again. " When he saw the rate they were drowned,
at the fishing, he sold a farm that he had at Kilmurry
and hired a party of masons and smiths from the town
and went out with them daily. Great work they had
at the start with the rock that the light is on, and it
only bare of the sea for one hour or two in the
"The breakwater, too — that man made it?'
Aubrey glanced up to where, high on the moor, the
contemned road ran white to its abrupt end.
" Ay did he, of strong stone. It'll last till there's
nothing but cows to look at it here, coughing out in
the fields that Cusheen'll be then — they or the one man
that's paid to be minding the lamp and keeping the
clock beyond at it for ever."
" He saw to that, too?"
" Ay, in his will. There's no end to it."
Aubrey digested it, looking about him. Behind
them six struck on the clock that had undergone the
lustral pollution — a tinkling chime, rather melodious;
222 THE MORNINGS WAR
it sounded innocent. Things were all in a tale. ' So
that put an end to their fishing? " he said, not needing
to be told.
" I don't say they're wise," Power said. " I've told
them they're fools. But they're holy." He spoke as
a parent might of a daughter who starved to keep
chaste. " Ah, then, aren't there terms," he broke out,
as though entreating Aubrey, for pity's sake, to see
through the dark, " on which you'd be offered good
things and have every right in the world to accept
them, and yet — " He made again that gesture of giv-
ing it up.
Aubrey thought, " My paganism again? Darkness
is darkness — that's what he means, I suppose." ' He
did it on terms, then? " he said.
" Not at the time. The terms came of what he did
after. Ah, wouldn't a man — " Power plunged off
again, giving himself to another quick gust of invited
passion, as if he must speak so, or not get words at
all — " wouldn't a man that had had an old coat, or a
new one itself, for a present from Judas throw it away,
and he stiff with the cold, the time he heard who had
sold the Lord God?"
" Isn't Judas set free for an hour, each Christmas,
for having given a leper a coat? '
" Ay, but how're we to know the leper didn't perish
of cold in the end liefer than make use of it after? ' :
Aubrey considered. He then said: "You say God
was betrayed in Cusheen? "
Power paused. The gust had sunk that had lifted
him. He spoke now as if in compunction, saying no
THE MORNING'S WAR 223
more than he must. " He was parish priest here for
eight years. See the place that it is. Wouldn't he be
entitled to feel he was trusted by God almost out of
His sight? And to break his vows then! And the
poor woman ! "
Aubrey's thoughts ran on the faster. Things rushed
to connect themselves, headlong. This was what June
had on her mind, here was the faith that did miracles,
the lives not to be taken as gifts from an apostate, the
wrong done to these people by that pair of whom one
shamed her by being of her blood. He thought it out,
first to himself for some way, and then, where the
roads of conjecture forked, out aloud. ' He was akin
to Miss Hathersage?"
" He was not," Power answered.
" He married her kinswoman? "
" No priest could marry."
"At law, I mean?"
" God marries; not law. Would He sanction a per-
"Still— at law?"
Power shrugged. " Does it matter? "
" To them, perhaps, not. But, say they had a
The priest was distressed ; Aubrey could see it. He
thought Power looked like a woman affronted by some
loose speech, and he was sorry. ' I understand," he
conceded hurriedly, " it would be, anyhow, only a child,
in your eyes, of illicit love?"
" Ay, and worse."
224 THE MORNING'S WAR
" Worse than that."
" Ay. Do you think any woman could go to con-
fession and she not able to speak to the priest the way
a motherless girl would speak to her father at home ? '
" Is that how all Catholics think? — the Hathersages,
for instance? "
"Think? Of the son?"
Oh, there was a child, then, Aubrey mused, still
piecing away in his mind.
The priest went on, picking words as with effort :
" They're proud, and they're pious? "
'What! Guy?' : Aubrey's mind, working within
at its inferences, came out for an instant to smile at
' Guy is a good practical Catholic. So is his father.
The women are that and more to it. The mother had
one other sister and " — so it was June's maternal aunt
that married this priest who broke free; Aubrey
caught it up swiftly — " the poor girl was taking her
vows at the time, at Rathfarnham; the shame almost
killed her. Mrs. Hathersage never could rest till she
died, for wanting to make it up to the creatures here
for the loss they were at by their piety. Now it's the
same with the girl. Not one of them all could have
lived but for hoping that all these years would fade out
the mark of dirt they had on them all. God knows
what they'd do if it ever came back on what's left of
" How could it? " Aubrey asked idly. His thought
was more practical. What a non-Catholic he was!
THE MORNING'S WAR 225
And, if this were true, that the priest was saying, what
a Catholic June ! There were hazards before them.
But hazards are challenges, opportunities; so they are
good. He felt strong and secure.
The priest was replying : " The world's not so large.
God knows how soon any person at all might meet
Really the man was fantastic, poor zealot, thought
Aubrey. " Well, there are pretty good odds against
it," Aubrey said cheeringly.
"Mind now," said Power; "it's slippery work on
these stones." They were down within reach of the
flying spray now; they walked over rounded rocks
slimy with weed. " Where at all is Devine? " said the
priest. On the way they had met other sheep of his
flock, gaunt and blue with long wading, and now
trailing dead feet uphill. " Not a one is left at it
He knows each one, as if they were not sheep
merely, but cows, Aubrey thought, as they pressed on,
over the splashed stones. The priest was quickening.
"Where in the wide world — ?' he muttered, and
then, again, " What were they all about, to leave him
in that way ? ' And then, " And he the creature he is,
as apt to do any one thing as another! ' He was run-
ning now, this way and that, slipping and using his
hands to keep up, with his hat pushed back from a
forehead hot with anxiety as well as haste ; from each
fresh stone that he topped he peered outward to where
the waves at its seaward base were thumping and
226 THE MORNING'S WAR
" I'll engage it was here he was working," said
Power, scrambling on to another smooth and high boss
with a wet nap of green; and, surely, from there they
saw a singular sight. Eight or ten yards out to sea,
as if drawn away from the rocks by a backwash, a
short, shapeless bundle of cloth was floating, most of
it under water, but part still emergent and dry and
looking unnatural there, and horrible. The priest gave
a sob and slid over the edge of the rock into eight feet
of water and struck out with short, clumsy strokes for
the bundle. Then Aubrey first saw that it was a man's
back, with the head and legs hanging down under
water. Luckily Aubrey had a good high take-off on
that rock; he could dive pretty well half the way
through the air, and, swimming hard from the instant
his own body was under, he opened his eyes to see
the drowning man bulk dim between them and the day-
light above, the pendent head and legs like the ends of
the golden fleece on a coat of arms. Aubrey came up
outside it and had the man fast by the back of the
clothes, with the drooping head held clear of the water,
when, as his eyes sought the shore, he felt a glow of
delight that almost made him cry. The priest was ar-
riving — the old brick! — the most absurd, beautiful
sight in the world, with his little, ineffectual strokes
and grave, intent look, and the black coat ballooning
high over his back with all the air from about the rest
of his person gone into it.
There was work for ten minutes, to bring the three
in to the little spit of stones, between bigger rocks,
where Devine had been scraping weed when a wave
THE MORNING'S WAR 227
took his tired feet from under him. Aubrey feared at
one moment that Power was done for; he had to be
helped; but on shore he toiled again like a good one
and knew what to do: how to empty the water out of
their man, where to rub, and the way the arms should
be worked to set the lungs going, if it could be done.
They labored absorbedly ; minutes it might have been
for, or hours, for all they could tell. No, though ; it
could not be hours : it was not dark yet when Devine
began to splutter and fight in their hands and wail in
the Gaelic, "Not into the sea again!' And when
Aubrey and Power were free to look at each other
across him, each had light to see that the other's face
was green with these last urgent minutes of terror.
That exchange gave them an instant of vast, flowless
pleasure; each found out the other, and lo! what he
found was himself. It was like one of the fugitive
beatitudes that visit a few moments of awaking, when
some happy thought comes first and nothing else is
remembered yet. Then they remembered other things,
as the awakened sleeper does.
They could not rest yet. Devine was burnt and
stabbed with pains as the blood moved again; he had
worked foodless all day and was for collapsing and
trying to sleep. He had to be hustled homeward and
finally shouldered by Aubrey, the priest trotting stoutly
beside the big younger man, showing the way through
the dusk and telling Devine, as hearteningly as his own
chattering teeth would permit, of the great glass of grog
that would surely be lawful for once, and he perishing.
It was dark when they left Devine's cabin; darker
228 THE MORNING'S WAR
than it would be soon, for clouds were packing away
and on the horizon a luminousness that spread as it
mounted showed where the moon — what was left of
the mighty moon of Mill Hill — was about to rise.
They had chattered till then, to keep Devine's mind
running on the right things, as a man makes a noise
to a horse while grooming it. Now they fell wholly
silent. It was a short way they still had to walk, but
rough; the priest knew every yard by its feel; Aubrey
did not; once he stumbled slightly over a stone. The
priest's arm was in his in a moment. ' God help you,
God help you! " he said in a voice of extraordinary
Aubrey laughed. ' No harm done." But when
they came into the lamplight within the priest's door,
there was still on the priest's face the look of hurt and
sore compassion that it must have had when he spoke,
for the voice had been that look made audible.
" Off and away with you now to your room," he
said ; they had kicked off their boots in the hall, on the
ugly oil-cloth, under the paraffin lamp and the oleo-
graphs of martyrs. Power was playing the brisk, im-
perious host, but it was a manner superimposed; that
other mood, of a tormented affection or pity, showed
Insensibly Aubrey reacted, resisted. He would not
be fathered; he was autonomous; he was all right.
Yes, he would change his clothes, he said, but no bed
or hot bottles for him ; he had liked the bathe.
Whisky? Yes, that would be jolly, and then he would
turn out and walk himself warm before supper.
"Far back, through creeks and inlets making,
Comes silent, flooding in, the main."
THERE was only one way Aubrey could walk : the
one road was to Banturk. He caught its raw
end by the white gleam on the blackening moor, and
strode along, always faster and faster. The blood
tingled back into fingers and toes ; into the brain too,
no doubt, for soon thought was astir and bubbling; it
danced and sang through him. What liquor the
priest's was ! — brown velvet and honey and amber and
Rembrandt and old fiddle varnish — trains of similes
for it tripped across the hot mind. And the priest,
what a staunch old Trojan ! Soft-hearted too — he had
gurgled over Devine like a mother cat. And decent to
Aubrey, the heathen, too. And then there were all his
ruthful withholdings and temperings of Athanasian
curses on that other heathen, the breakwater-builder.
What a man that must have been, too ! He would have
to tell June what he thought of that man.
Aubrey tried to figure him clearly, piecing him out
from the things that Power had said of him. They
were but small things — he felt that the more, now that
he made them all come back; they were false starts,
each had begun and then stopped, and each had been
230 THE MORNING'S WAR
said with a wince and a picking of phrases, as if some
sting had to be taken out in the wording. And yet this
man of the light and the clock and the road was real
and vivid, even poignantly real, as those people are
whom one knows best of all ; his takings of means to
ends were all touching, like those of a friend alone in a
house at night and seen from outside a window.
Aubrey could swear he knew just what that man had
felt when the infant Horgan re-embraced the grand
adventure of living. Why, Aubrey could hear what
the man's very voice had been like.
They were strange, these priests; they were all of a
piece, or a piece of them all was. O'Keel had his
touch of Power's own visible twinge of controlled
compunction towards Aubrey. All these priests had
had it, only each more than the last, ever since Aubrey
had landed. No, that was wrong; it was since the
time he saw the Archbishop. It had begun from the
moment of that little boast of his, surely harmless
enough, of his mother's kinship to one of their own
august selves, the Cardinal. Yet they were different
men, all these like-mannered priests. The mind could
not vision the archepiscopal chaplain going to work
as Power had done on the plain, humdrum, secular
job of landing Devine — mere physical sport for Au-
brey's young strength, as he knew, but a tax on cour-
age in those non-amphibians. O'Keel, again, would
not have looked just the way Power did, that time
when the boys scuttled off in the twilight between
cabin walls, singing, " We'll hang ould " — ould what
was it ? What was it ? He found he was importuning
THE MORNING'S WAR 231
his memory now as he might have asked a doctor
whether an illness of June's was mortal.
The man had been Aubrey's father. He walked
back to Cusheen knowing it. No one had told him.
The knowledge rose up in him like a night flood, fur-
tive and sudden. At one moment it seemed as if no
conscious suspicion or fear were pressing; the next,
all the dikes gave together ; the long effort, secret even
from his own sense, to bank out each trickling advance
of the oncoming deluge was quite over. " We'll hang
ould Browne " — why, one lobe, or whatever it was, of
his mind, had heard it clearly; the other had only just
managed to hush it up. And every look and tone of
these priests had been throwing the fact at his eyes and
ears. More than that, he felt now as if he had all but
known it since he was a child ; it was the only key that
there could ever have been to so many of the silences
The end gave him no pain at first. They say a good
bullet traveling fast will go through your vitals so
cleanly that you may be left not writhing nor even
bleeding much, but only musing, " I'm done for," or,
with detachment, " That other poor buffer that was
' I ' is done for," and taking in whatever there is to see
— high grass or cairned stones or things going on in
the sky — with the eager liking the spirit has for the
concrete things of which it is to take leave. So Aubrey
at first felt a kind of dry pity, as if for some man in
a semi-vivid book who had set out on his way whis-
tling, like other people, and then some brute of an un-
killed force had broken loose from the dark ages and
232 THE MORNING'S WAR
mauled him. He could not feel more than that yet ; he
was, indeed, unconsciously resting, as hunted fugitives
find a great peace at first when they are caught. But
the place at which he was hit had become already
curiously memorable. The first Cusheen cabin was
near; squat under its thatch it thrust a rude angle,
anyhow, out at the track, now no longer a road ; in a
window, a squalid, square port-hole in mud, a candle
just lit was struggling and blinking into steadier flame.
He had a rather hunger-like thought of the state of
those who were round that bleared light, to whom
nothing had happened.
The priest, crouching over the parlor fire, looked
up from his Latin A-Kempis when Aubrey came in.
The priest saw, directly. He made Aubrey sit in a
chair and stood behind him with both hands on his
shoulders. " You know ? " Power said.
The priest, in misery, pressed and stroked the big
shoulders. " Ah, you're the kind, bold fellow," he al-
most wailed. " You've been it this day, and will al-
The wheedling's beginning, thought Aubrey. He
made a hard voice. " You want me to skulk away
into the dark."
" Is it ' dark ' ? Isn't it two weeks only, or three,
since ever you set eyes on your cousins ? And is it out
of the sky the sun would be dropping now if they were
to go their own way from this out, and you yours? ' :
" Yes." Aubrey was beaten too weary to hold up
THE MORNING'S WAR 233
The priest's hands ceased for an instant to press
Aubrey's shoulders. Then they urged down again
warmly as if instant in some caressing adjuration, be-
fore he could muster the words he wanted. "They
say there was once a village in England, maybe the size
of Cusheen, and those that were in it found the Great
Plague had come to them, God knows how, all the
great way from London ; and what did they do but
shut themselves up from the world, the way it would
burn itself out in them only? Skulkers off into the
dark would any one say that they were? Or is it
heroes and martyrs? "
Aubrey listened and noted intently, ploddingly, with
an impassioned diligence. How would June see it
all? He had to make that out; he must take means to
that end. The Catholic June, the directress of her
whom he knew, was unknown to him, only surmised
and dimly feared as an estranging sea of un fathomed
depth. He must plumb it, if only conjecturally, by
taking soundings of Power and, through him, of these
devotees in the mass. He asked, in his matter-of-fact
way, " Something immodest, noisome — you'd feel I
was like that? "
The priest was in torment. " The acts of the
fathers, you know — they're ' visited.' "
" Oh, say ' sins ' if you like; it can't harm my father
with me." Aubrey returned to the quest. ' A Cath-
olic woman, we'll say — she'd feel the house stinking,
round her, with me in it? "
Again the poor priest shied away. The children
234 THE MORNINGS WAR
reap whirlwinds; isn't it nature? Ah, come away to
Over the food they talked about rents and the
orient hope of land purchase, and how kelp was burned
and the product sold to makers of — iodine, was it, or
some iodide ? Aubrey forgot which, and came back to
Power, just before bedtime, to get it right for the
Northerner. Lights were out in the house at eleven,
Aubrey's the last. In bed, with his journey-work
done, he let loose his imaging mind. It fell to, like a
draftsman long starved of paper; it drew him June
posed as she stood that time when she spoke of women
who would not take a gift of a son's life from a rec-
reant. How she glowed now in his vision, and grew
taller again, a very pillar of exaltation! He did not
reason now, but evoked sequent images, or they came ;
cause and effect rose before him in pictures of June —
June drawing in, like flowers at night, on a light word
from Guy about prayer; June awesome in towering
scorn of that ribald woman's chatter with Newman;
June crying, " I love them for it ; I love them " at
thought of these self-starvers, self-stunters here at
Cusheen, fantastic fakirs of a cramping superstition;
June as the June of those moments might look when
first she heard what he was, her neck lifting up, more
columnar, more white, its warm curves straightening
and chilled ; her eyes thrown on guard and looking out
at him over lids that had turned into estranging fences.
Moated and walled, she would gaze out and down.
She loved him, but what help was that? Probably
worse than none; love would only challenge her pride
THE MORNING'S WAR 235
to crush it ; he saw her fastidious, disdainful, pagan
really, like some one whim-driven by chivalric honor,
romantic unreason, inhaled irrevocably; she would
not wince while she paid any horrible tax on human
affection and happiness ; she would glory ; the knight's
soul in her would exult in its chance of peril and pain.
Why, it was for that he loved her; she would not be
June without her ardent yieldings to unenforceable
rule and her flushed, vibrant staunchness; like a flame
or a lance it burned and pierced up at — nothing, per-
haps; empty air, or air turbid with old myths, fables
of dead men that took life again and of unnatural
childbirth — horrible dregs of mycologist's stuff, like
Dionysus and Pan ; worse, because people soiled kind-
ness and courage and all the good things by trying to
make them " rest on " those vulgar credulities.
Reason with her? It was hopeless. Had June's
faith come of reason, reason might pierce to it. Rea-
son ! Why, she stood fenced with distrust of the brain,
the tool used in fashioning meanness; if she saw evi-
dence coming her doors would clang to ; she would not
even look while proof, the mountebank, contorted it-
self outside in the mud. If all the world came up to
show that her creed was a thing bygone and outworn,
her mettle would only be steeled to stand by it in
troubled days. That was June too — to be like that;
had he not loved her for being like that? He had
thought, what mattered the object of generous pas-
sion? — the passion itself was the thing; who would
not know how to choose between a cold world always
right and a blind one on fire with foolish loyalties?
236 THE MORNING'S WAR
Why, he loved her the more even now as he thought,
oh, she will carry it through. Proof of confusion
would make her faith only the more imperturbable; it
would be stronger for its cobweb flimsiness; any bul-
lets the mind could devise would glance off those
feathers and spend themselves uselessly on that light
His body was hot ; he must have walked slowly, or
stopped dead, for some longer time than he knew,
when he was hit; he had some little "chill," as they
call a shiversome glow that burns for relief in more
and more heat. He drew up his legs, drew the clothes
over his head; the body's fire began to burn like red
embers blown white, and the mind caught heat from it ;
whatever thought came was lit, at each return, with a
fiercer incandescence of clarity. He entered, he
thought he was entering, into June's steadfast horror
of him as he was; he heard it like music; it had the
mounting, passionate urgency of some great strain
drawn out on violins, one long, importunate scaling of
illimitable height ; he saw it a preternatural spire that
never ceased to reach up further at the retreating sky.
What to do, then? He did not even try, yet, to
resolve. All that he saw was many impossibles. He
could not write to June and not tell her. He could
bate nothing, to her, of the love and honor that he had
renewed here for his father. He could not relinquish
her — play the kind brute and tell her some stage lie —
that he did not love her really; that would be loath-
some; it reeked of pink sentiment, stuff for half-made
women to maunder over in books. And it must fail,
THE MORNING'S WAR 237
lies were so feeble; think of them both alive after the
clap-trap of self-immolation was done; the world
would not hold them both; from the ends of opposite
winds their souls would beckon and rush together.
Why, what was there to keep them apart? They were
all but touching now, her desire and his reaching out
to each other like visible breaths that pierce a frosty
air; between them was nothing impenetrable, even by
loveless stars. Rival impossibilities everywhere, and a
choice of dead walls. Only this much he settled, in
his pedestrian way; he must walk right up to those
walls and feel them all over with his hands.
Could he say that he was wretched ? He asked him-
self that. Self-pity, the sneak, had come whining
round him, eyeing him for a weak place, trying hard
to corrupt happy memories into sorry plaintive ones,
whispering maudlin questions — had he not been, when
a boy, a pitiful figure with his great projects lamely
framed in solitude, and their frustrations stolidly
borne in it? Had it not all come again, plan and
frustration ? Had he not been inoffensive ? And now
this foul beast of an unspent force had broken out of
its limbo and hit him. " Say, ' Oh, my God, why am I
forsaken?' just to yourself, here in the dark," the
whimpering tempter prompted. It made his mind
shudder to see how near to one's feet could be brought
the top of that greased slope down into pits of slime.
So he asked what he really felt. Misery? Nothing
like any misery ever ascribed, in any book that he
knew, to an ill-starred lover. Had no writer ever
known what it was ? — or was he unlike natural people ?
238 THE MORNING'S WAR
F or — he could not blink it — he had an exultation even
now; some part of him had wings and rose from this
new earth of vast pains and unbelievable crushings of
hope, and gloried, against all reason, in seeing its
vastness and strangeness outspread. It was anguish,
but vision too; it opened the burning heart of life.
And it was adventure, like all shipwrecks; it roused;
it gave things to do, or attempt ; and he was alive ; the
miraculous license to move, to watch, to do this and
not that, was still his; even to-night the next breath
always came, the ache of the instant before was over,
and some infinitesimal cell in his brain the stronger
to bear the next if he had borne the last with a will.
He had sweated the chill away now and lay at length,
tired and cool, hearing the endless, desolate splash
of the waves on the rocks below, where the priest had
"When we find an element in different contexts, it acquires
new meanings for itself, and it gives new meanings to the ele-
ments in these contexts. The element remains in a sense the
same, but it is also continually changing with every new con-
nection into which it is brought. The progress of knowledge
may therefore be represented as the pursuing of identities through
ever-increasing differences." R- L- Nettleship.
FOR two more days Aubrey worked on at Cusheen;
it helped him; at least it put off, illusively; work
that is hard and worth doing can make the doer feel
as if surely the rest of the world must be coming to
rights. On the third day, an hour before Aubrey left,
the priest received a telegram. They were at lunch :
Power passed it across. " It's to you," he said, " that
it ought to have been. I amn't the one that's drawn
water out of the rock."
It seemed that people had read in the Northerner
Aubrey's first screed from Cusheen and were sending
money in haste, and plenty of it — " More than
enough," Power said; " it's a grand thing for any man
to be able to write the way you could make them do
that, and they English."
Aubrey looked at him, trying to guess what he
meant. " I suppose," he thought, " it is * Damn them
both, father and son. Can't we ever be quit of their
cursed help?' or ' I won't be rough on him; I'll send
the money back quietly after he's gone.'
240 THE MORNING'S WAR
He told Power he wanted some help : he was going
to Dublin; he had to go into some things — family
things, of his own.
Alarm sprang up in the priest's face.
' Oh, I'll do it skulkingly," Aubrey assured him.
" It's only this," Power said humbly, " your aunt
that's a nun at Rathfarnham is delicate. Any shock
now — "
' I'll have a false name, if you wish. But I must
find out. They were my father and mother. Oh,
yes, I know, I know — " Aubrey waved away whole
cloud-armies of deprecatory fears and demurs half-
discerned in the looks of the priest. " But I must
see where they lived. I must see people who knew
them and knew their fathers and mothers — knew
everything. There must be people like that. They
both died before they were old. You can help me to
'' I'll do what I can. For God's sake, be careful.
It's not like the great world — this little country. It's
just the one village, and everything's known about
every one in it. The wonder is it was only the Arch-
bishop's chaplain that first had a notion of who in the
world you were."
1 I'll take any precaution you want. I'll be Mike
from Australia, a cousin's fifth cousin, burning to
work out a pedigree. May I take the addresses ? ' :
When shy men begin to be brazenly dogged, then
obstacles, if they are versed as priests are in the ways
of our froward hearts, are apt to take themselves out
of the way. Power gave Aubrey addresses. Some
THE MORNING'S WAR 241
were of his maternal kinsmen, O'Gormans and
Kennedys, cousins of whom he had not before heard
so much as the names.
Power annotated each name as it came: "a big
stockbroker in Dame Street ;" or " not a thing in the
world will he do but polo-playing from one year's end
to the next;" or "the greatest whisky-drinker in
Leinster, God help him, and he with a talent for bank-
ing if he could be steady." They seemed a poor lot,
full of money and indistinction. There were priests,
too, on Power's list; these were not of the family.
Aubrey stiffened, perhaps, at the first of their names.
Power winced. " You'll not hear a word," he said,
" that'd hurt you."
"You're telling them nothing?"
The priest held out to Aubrey the circular letter of
introduction that he had been writing to these divines.
Aubrey waived the perusal, but looked at Power sur-
prisedly. So the elfin cordon was broken a little at
last; the human child decoyed into the wood had even
made friends with one of its peering gnomes till it
would keep a small secret of his from the others. And
all, he fancied, because he had once had his wits about
him and knew how to swim. Curse all the caprice of
these mad assessments of people's conduct; the cards
that " made " among these devotees were as strange as
the cards that did not make. Still, this time unreason
had got him a thing he wanted; let that make its peace;
thanks to it, he would go on his quest as an unknown
crank delving at family history harmlessly; people
would humor him.
242 THE MORNING'S WAR
Power was pressing his last hospitality — cham-
pagne, of all things; a bottle was brought in, open,
with word that the car stood at the door. Aubrey was
glad of the wine. There must, anyhow, have been
discord between their dun thoughts and their acted
genialities of speeding host and of guest sorry to go.
But that they should pledge each other, at parting, in
that jocund heart's blood of unreserve — this lifted the
scene into barbaric grotesque; so Aubrey felt, and was
piqued to act the fantasy out in its own wild key; it
was easier so.
He took his last look at Cusheen as the outside car
went over the shoulder of the high moor. A dull
afternoon was closing in early; the place looked
effaced; all he could make out, for sure, was the petu-
lant white hem of foam fretting between the lead of
the sea and the lead of the land. He looked till it went
out of sight, and then sat very still on his side seat,
back to back with the driver, and stared straight be-
fore him with eyes nearly closed, seeking the half-
trance that may come of a dazed, bleared intentness of
sense, not on this thing or that, but on palpableness,
the whole range of it. Soon it came; there ceased to
be here a rock, there a cloud, there a wind-vexed
stump of a tree; there were not separate things any
longer, only a rush and a passing; not drifting objects,
but drift, motion set free to be a self of its own, not
a mere state of selves other than it. And he was se-
cure and snug; he was no object now, either; not a
person; only a sense, a perception, released from the
service of a possessor; it had no past to mind and no
THE MORNING'S WAR 243
future; all cables were cut and it floated off, a tissue
of disinterested sentience; it and that disengaged soul
of motion were all that was left of all that there ever
had been; and then they too began to lose their differ-
entness from each other: which was it that felt and
which that was felt? Foolish question! — so he mused
in his trance; why, all those old childish illusions of
subject and object were gone; act and consequence,
cause and effect, one's self of to-day and the self it
builds for to-morrow, yes and to-day and to-morrow
themselves, and oneself and that which had seemed to
be outside oneself — all the illusive haunting distinc-
tions that used to be matters of course were dried up
like early mists; nothing was left but clear conscious-
ness poised in a void; unhampered, unmoved, unre-
lated, a consciousness only of being penetratingly con-
scious. A god might be like that for ever, it has been
thought. Aubrey sat like a god of that kind for he
knew not how long; an hour, perhaps, or a second;
time does not count in those states.
Suddenly his divinity ended. Some solid with-
drew from behind his back: he turned in time to see
the driver alight, a loose heap, on the road ; he seemed
to have fainted and rolled off the car. Luckily he
had not taken the reins with him. Aubrey pulled up
the scandalized horse, which was for bolting, drove
back to the spot and found the man conscious now,
wriggling and groaning and soon well enough to feel
for the bump he had on his head and to rub it thought-
fully, sitting squat in the mud. Nothing but hunger
ailed him; he called the inopportune faint a " quare-
244 THE MORNING'S WAR
ness," confessed he had had it before, and sought to
pass it off as an innocent fad of the body's. Aubrey
came the priest over him, dourly tickled to find how
easy it came — bullied and tricked the truth out of
him, then drove the car into Banturk, with one hand
on this ragged genius of famine, to keep it in
They ate the best meal to be had at the public-
house near the station. The landlord had wine; it
seemed the thing to make the food stay on a starved
stomach. When they had eaten they sat half an hour
together to finish the bottle and smoke and await
Aubrey's train. The man expanded, was almost a
wit; he gave his history genially, seeing it with the
eye of tolerant humor, back to his wild youth in the
days of th' ould priest before Father Power, "him
that's in tormint, plase God."
Aubrey made no return of autobiography. But
he encouraged the willing witness; he kept up a grin
and put leading questions and drew replies that could
make him wince, though he was toughening. It was
good practice, he thought, for what he would have to
do now. Rather a dirty trick, though, when one came
to play it. It was too easy; this driver would rise
to any fly you could cast; he would say, with a happy
sense of hitting the mark, the last things that in his
good nature he would have said had Aubrey been
frank. Aubrey felt like a sneak, and a bruised one,
afterwards, as he sat in the train. But he would go
through with this; he did not have even to will it now;
it was the one road to be gone; the depth of the mud, or
THE MORNING'S WAR 245
the hits he might take on the shins, were things that
he might wish away, but as to the route, there was
He carried the quest right through. When once
he had made up his mind to soiled hands, the rest was
as easy as pumping that driver. His mother's broth-
ers and sisters and her own mother and father were
soon almost visible to him, immensely far off and im-
mensely clear. He saw their life as geologists see the
old tropical Thames with the hippopotami half sunk
in hot mud at noon, their beatified backs gently surg-
ing and sinking. James O'Gorman, his grandfather,
loomed out like a veritable monster of the prime. An
old priest at Merrion had known him. " A thoroughly
good practical Catholic; never missed Mass and would
walk all round Dublin after it, seeing was there a
ground rent for sale at a price a person could look at."
A gray chapel-keeper near Drogheda had kept James's
books when James set up in youth as a wine merchant.
"God help us all," he said, "when a pipe of sherry
was bottled and there was not in it the number of
bottles he'd hoped for." "Holidays, is it? He
neither gave them nor took them." " He hadn't a
prejudice in him. ' So long as a Protestant pays,'
he'd say, ' let God do the rest to him.' Pieced into
life in Aubrey's mind by a score of such touches, the
old O'Gorman got on his feet, exciting, redoubtable,
grisly, an Irishman of the breed that England has
raised for herself as the Christian has bred for himself
the stinged Jew. Aubrey could see him, acquisitive,
obstinate, all his pride stowed away in his bunkers
246 THE MORNING'S WAR
as coal for his engines; could even fancy minutely
how his flesh crawled, in secret, when some English-
man, driving a bargain, would lug in his " plain sense
of duty " every third minute, the horse smelling the
camel and loathing it, only not to the marring of in-
Then there was word to be had of how this dragon
had wived — " a grand thing it was for the two of
them, he with the money he'd made and she with a
fortune the fellow of it, that her father had made with
the great contriving he had with shares when the first
railways were made, and she with a turn for saving,
the equal of his. James's whole family couldn't bear
her stepping in — he'd done everything for them till
then — and you may engage she returned it in the way
she got shut of them cliver and clane, in a short time,
and her own people too, that had nothing to do but
have her tormented, asking for money, till she put a
stop to it. The end of it was they were left in a
great house in Merrion Square that they had, alone
with the children."
"They had children?' Aubrey dishonestly asked
the old clerk.
" They had. Three girls that are living, may be,
to this day, and two boys that were one as wild as the
other, God rest them. Dempsey's place was the death
Dempsey's : Aubrey's mind made a note which led
him to penetrate, the next night, to a small cube of
strong light and convivial stuffiness tucked away at the
far end of a burrow-like entry. Bloods of the present
THE MORNING'S WAR 247
age were sitting pleased on the ends of casks and a
landlord of forty years old was not concealing his own
belief that they were grand fellows; Dempsey to
Dempsey succeeds, and blood to blood.
" It was the one bit of pleasure that came to them,"
so the old clerk had gone on. " Never a card would
the mother have in the house, and scarcely a book,
nor give them a horse to ride, and they great at it;
' What could they do,' she'd say whenever they asked,
' but break its knees on the road or destroy it out
hunting?' Indeed, the hunting was what they both
wished to be at. And never a latch-key between them,
down to the day the last died. I lived in the house
at the time, and she'd lie awake every night of the
week to call out to each of the boys, and he crawlin'
upstairs on all fours, ' Did you bolt the front door
when you'd entered ? ' to show she was seeing the kind
of work they were about.
" When they were gone there was only the husband
in it for her to torment, besides women. Dear, but she
was the hard one; you'd be entitled to think her body
was all the one piece with her nails. Nothing would
do her, if James displeased her at all, but to take a
whole pack of the foreign bonds that he had, th' in-
stant minute he'd quitted the house, and have them
hid away on him and he coming home in the evening:
you'd hear him all through the darkness of night
walkin' about like th' unquiet dead in his pain and
callin' out, ' Give me my bonds,' on the stairs and
landin', in the deep voice he had, the moral, for all the
world, of blood cryin' out from the ground, until you'd
248 THE MORNING'S WAR
be frikened to hear, but herself, that was a great
sleeper, not mindin' at all.
" He died, at the end, of a pain in his bowels, the
sort they'd cut out of you now with a knife in the
time a horse would be wag-gin' his tail, but he didn't
over it. Great work she had with him, three nights or
four, sitting up in her clothes by the bed till she'd have
him persuaded to make a new will the way he'd leave
nothin' at all to the three girls for their own, but wait
till their mother'd see how they got on. Biddy Foy,
that was housekeeper then, and myself were kept
perishin' out in the cold at the door, to be witnesses,
while he'd be moanin' and yowlin' within, and herself
comin' back to it always, as soon as you'd hear for the
groans, that Kate, who'd just gone to the convent,
would not need a penny again in this world, and as for
" June's mother — so that was her name," Aubrey
" — why, in the state she was in since the brothers
had died on her, she'd be as apt as not to fling it away
to the poor, every sixpence; and God only knew what
wild work was the next thing Nora'd be at — "
Aubrey winced at his mother's name, though he had
seen it coming.
" — and she not at Mass for a month past; and
wasn't it only a poor lookout he'd have, where he was
goin', if he didn't give his mind to it now and see that
nothin' desprit was done with his money after? Great
talkin' she had, an' she not seemin' to be in a hurry at
all, or anxious itself, and it a close race, with the
THE MORNING'S WAR 249
stren'th to write goin' out of his body — I question will
I or any one else in the world see the finish to equal it.
She was a wonderful woman; she bate all, and he left
every penny to her, that was jinglin' with money
already, before he went shriekin' out of his senses. I
do assure you, Biddy and I had no sooner written our
names than we lep' down the stairs, a match for a
couple of greyhounds, holdin' our hands to our ears."
" Biddy Foy ? They tell me she's caretaker now at
Barnbrack, the great house in Wicklow that Mrs.
O'Gorman bought for herself when James had left her
the richest woman in Ireland. When she died it went
to the daughter Minnie that married an Englishman
from Dublin Castle; he was a Catholic though; the
mother took good care of that; she'd the earth and the
fullness thereof at that time and she wasn't the woman
to miss Heaven too, when the time for it came."
" Love, no one can beat you. You have at the rich ; you can
step over a sea ; there you are, at your work, in quiet houses out
in the country. There isn't the saint can say he's shut of you
surely, and what of the rest of us all, the May-flies we are. The
time you come in, understanding quits out of us."
From the Hedge Schoolmaster's Sophocles.
NEXT day Aubrey made for Barnbrack, a great,
frigid, classical house; like an iceberg astray
in the Gulf Stream, it rose white and cold, that mild
day, out of Wicklow's wild roses, fuchsias and lush
honeysuckles. None of these idlers climbed on its
actual walls; the lady's puissant reason had vetoed
that, " and they with nothing to do but bring earwigs
in at the window." Biddy Foy reported this judg-
ment to Aubrey ; and so the house stood naked as when
it was born, and was moated about, like the Roc-a-
Voir Inn, with loose stony gravel " the depth," as
Mrs. Foy said, " of the world; it'd break the heart of
a grub to set foot on it." She toddled over it pain-
fully, showing Aubrey the place.
She was a palpable relic, this Mrs. Foy, a lingering
trace like a blasted tree, or a glacier-marked stone in a
green dale, of the mightiness of old, spent forces.
When she took heart a little and let herself go, in her
talk, she made Aubrey think of the faint resurgent
stirrings of grass after the roller has done with it.
Now and then she would seem to be sure for some mo-
ments that Mrs. O'Gorman was wholly dead, and that
THE MORNING'S WAR 251
the souls of the living were their own once more.
Then would peep out " a wish she had in her mind,
for some reason or other," to live in a house that was
all " a smother of creepers." And then again, like
the poor Indian, she would see Mrs. O'Gorman in
clouds or hear her in the wind, and back would the
well-beaten subject come to her duty with " After all,
she was the wonderful woman," or <: There was the
depth in her sayings," or (steeling herself) " I often
wish I could have a talk with her now."
Biddy was vivid, if spiritless. She had been printed
upon by some gleams of the dreary splendor with
which the widow O'Gorman had celebrated till death
her triumphant return to " the land." Biddy, showing
the stables, partly undid a swathed carriage, a
monstrous piece, swung from the C springs of an-
tiquity. " Not a day but the mistress would set out
at two and be driven the whole country round, and she
very inclined to be sick in a carriage. She hoped she'd
conquer it yet. One man only she'd have on the box,
and two standing behind on a board, and the nakedest
dog you ever saw in your life, a mass of black spots,
legging along for dear life beneath. She'd not have
dog or cat near her, except in that situation only.
1 They'd not do a thing in the house but eat,' she'd say,
' and they won't do that properly.' She was a won-
derful woman at knowing the time to spend and the
time to let it alone. Not a servant would stay in the
house. ' They'd like to have more scope,' she said to
me once, ' in batter puddings, but where would it end
if I once began spoiling them? ' Yet she'd do things
252 THE MORNING'S WAR
in style when the time for it came. People in Dublin
itself will talk to this day of the way she buried the
master. She'd speak of it often herself. ' Would any
one ever believe,' she'd say to Miss Minnie, ' the
frightful price the man charged for the coffin? '
"Miss Nora? The new paint wasn't dry on the
house before she was off and away to England, or God
knows where in the wide world, to live in a poor
shabby way, as if she had no respect for herself.
Dear, but the mother hated her for it. She'd burn
every letter, fresh from the post, and it not opened,
and there was the row, I can tell you, the day Miss
Minnie let on, coming back from confession, the way
she had written, ay, and several times, to her sister.
Terrible fond of each other the two girls were, and I
don't rightly know that Miss Minnie ever had her
health after the writing was stopped on her. She'd
be in there in the drawing-room saying she only wished
to do this or do that and be minding the poor or
going off into the convent after Miss Kate, till her
mother'd be angry and say, ' Why, you fool,' she'd
say, ' why don't you go and get married?' Married
she was, in a twelvemonth. What with the two broth-
ers dead, and one sister with vows of poverty taken,
and one quit out of the place wholly, the girl w r as the
best match in Ireland. Not a tittle of love had she in
her, for all the signs I could see; she'd as lief marry
this one as that, and none at all better than any. The
mother did it; she'd never let her alone till she had
her engaged, and then, when the horrors of bein' mar-
ried were near, Miss Minnie would say why shouldn't
THE MORNING'S WAR 2.5.3
she suffer as well as another, and anyway hadn't she
promised? She had pride too, in a way of her own,
though she never could keep a stiff lip to the mother.
Too meek to please me. altogether.
" Miss Nora? — that was the wild Irish girl, as they
say. Not a thing came into her head but she'd say it.
The night Patrick, her last brother, had died, Father
Browne of Cusheen reached the house half an hour
too late, and what should she do but say to his face
that she wouldn't wonder if God weren't hard on the
boy at all, and he just after dying without the rites of
the Church? You'd be astonished to see the way the
priest took it. ' I'm thinking that too,' said he, ' a
good while back.' She was afraid when she'd spoken,
but, when he said that, I give you my word she looked
as if she were more frikened still because he had not
up and told her that it was no thing to be saying.
I'll engage she was thinking what work he might have
with the bishop, and not of herself at all. I was a
favorite of hers, but she was the worry. You couldn't
depend on her not to come home with her watch given
away to a tramper that told her some tale on the road,
the moral of those wild Fijians there in the paper,
that can't elevate their position because no one comes
and asks for a thing but they give it. The mistress
never forgave the way she got on. ' Step in here at
once,' she called to me over the stairs the day after
Miss Nora quit out of it. ' Sign that,' said she, ' and
mind what you're about with the ink on the furniture.'
It was a new will, you may depend, and she in a des-
perate hurry to see to it lest she should die in the night
254 THE MORNING'S WAR
and the daughter not be deprived of her fortune. Miss
Nora had come to me late on the evening before, and
she not able to sleep with the way her thoughts had
her tormented, what with her being wild, by that time,
to be out of the place, and not wanting to go from the
sister. ' Me heart's broke, Biddy,' she'd say the wan
moment — she'd talk like the country people to me —
and the next she'd be singing low to herself, ' My
heart in the far world is yearning to roam ' — it came
out of a song she'd heard Father Browne singing that
day. He was great at the singing. Midsummer eve
it was, and a strong light still in the sky and it after
ten at night, the way I could see the gleams come in
her eyes and go out again."
' Was it very like water under a bridge at night,"
Aubrey asked, " with a lamp on it? "
' Maybe it was, and the cheeks of her flushing
darker, and going light the next minute. She was the
beautiful woman for color. You'd see a little pink
cloud, like the light the sun 'ud send through the leaf
of a rose, and it crossing the width of her face like
the little shadows of clouds that do be running over
the side of a hill, or the patches flytin' about on a field
of corn with the little winds blowing."
" Yes, yes."
" You've seen her? "
" I've seen some one like it."
" There wasn't her aquil ever, if you could have
seen her that night, with her voice like a warm creature
nestled in her and she in a heave with the big wishes
she had, and that gleam in her eyes in the dark till
THE MORNING'S WAR 255
ycu'd think of the loveliest fearful wild thing in a
forest until you'd be terrified. That was the room, up
The two were fording the loose depths of gravel
back to the door, from a paintless and moldering
bench whence they had viewed the garden front of the
house. Death could not be stiller than this place where
passionate hearts had hurt with very fullness of life
in the June night's passionate dusk. It was afternoon
now, humid and motionless; sleep began to invade
Mrs. Foy, sleep and the fear that she might have said
more than enough about her old likings and wonder-
ments. What could the gentleman care about them?
So she became elegant and impersonal, took up a news-
paper lying about in the hall and, vaguely indicating
a page, began to make talk of wider interest. ' I see
from the paper that Belgium's a wonderfully indus-
trious country. The women that's in it are all bent
double with working. The men are idle — you'd see
them sittin' out at the doors — I don't know whether
it's that lager beer that they're at, or what?'
" Did you hear from Miss Nora again? '
" I did not, and she a great warrant to write, or
talk itself, about anything ever she saw till she'd have
you excited with wishing you'd seen it, the way I'd
liefer read one of her letters than ten of Miss Kate's,
that were all desiring your prayers and wondering
could nothing at all be done for Rev. Mother Su-
perior's toothache, and that only."
He lingered, making up questions. None of them
mattered much; at least, the direct answers did not —
256 THE MORNING'S WAR
only the gleams that would come now and then from
the glow of his mother's youth, retracted fitfully from
this old mirroring mind. They were enough to see
everything by. Imagination can piece out reality fast
when it works with passion, burning along each line
of conjecture and reaching mightily out to span breaks
of connection. Feeling back all the way through his
own youth to childhood, he read at every turn some
inscription illegible then, not even a matter of cu-
riosity; now explicit, voluminous. Why, his father
and mother had always been talking about and around
it all, every day till one of them died, in a code of
luminous silences, flashingly significant now, like let-
ters cut out of a stencil plate, where blankness is legi-
ble. Once he had seen a man at a fair stand flat
against a white board and another man throw two-
score of black knives that stuck in the board all round
him, a nail's breadth from hurting him, so that at last,
when the man stood away from the board, his figure
was drawn upon it, as unstabbed space. It was like
that. All his life the knives had been flying and now
the figures stood out; the void was graphic.
Where he did not know how this or that passage
had gone, he knew how it must have. He knew like
the back of his hand the old ruffian O'Gorman and
that fell, notable dragoness, with her stomachic crav-
ing for land and a hulking barouche and a Danish
dog to shank along after it; what a union of reason,
and what hell for its children ! He knew all about the
dismal large house in a sunken capital — all the un-
humanized, humorless social rising, the hatred of play
THE MORNING'S WAR 257
and mirth as unacquisitive things and doors into vice;
probably there had been frozen dinner-parties, where
every one kept his facial muscles jammed fast in a
selected position, implied his own proper share of im-
portance in everything that he said, and looked out for
faults in the entertainment, to talk about afterwards
with his wife. Poor devils of boys, his uncles, grow-
ing up tortured with hunger for all the unpaid dues
of their youth. Only the other day he had been young,
and the year's youth and the day's so working on his
that it seemed almost vile to be reading indoors; it
was self-mutilation; the sensuous blood had run bub-
bling, crying out to be slaked in ecstasies of union with
the June meadows and the sunned stream. He had
had these, and they had had Dempsey's and that mo-
ment of cheap magic, about the third glass, when all
the voices fuse into one mellow luster of sound, the hum
of an easier, more friendly world. Entering it so, they
were done for; they had been given no chance; " through
the pit infernal, down to the grave of McGinn and
Burns," he watched them slipping and tumbling.
When they had been executed by phthisis at last,
and the windows thrown up in the house for the
waxen smell to escape, all that were left became only
clearer; the father and mother putting it harshly to
God that the fault was not theirs; Kate cowering back
to the nunnery where she had cowered at school till a
few months before, perceiving now that outside its
palings there could be nothing but evil; Minnie numbly
fumbling away, for an anodyne, at good works; and
the other, the one that was all light and air, throb and
258 THE MORNING'S WAR
glow, flaming out at the tall young priest and gasping
to find that he had been changing too. Was that the
beginning of their great love? It might have been.
For they must have gazed at each other quite simply
when he had spoken; yes, both had done that — Aubrey
knew them; and there might have been a silence that
swore them comrades in consciousness of the great
ship sinking under them, and of the frailty of rafts,
and the width of the sea.
Then, of course, they had had to lose themselves,
separately, lest the mud that flies round unfrocked
priests should bespatter poor Kate or Minnie or some
other innocent — Minnie's possible children, perhaps.
That must have been why they lived all that time in
Italy, Switzerland, France, and then by the tidal
Thames' Babylonish waters. They were extinct there;
all the past part of them was; they had cut their lives
in two and become like a man and woman born
mature, alone and relationless as Adam and Eve, and
set on remaining so, bent on keeping clear for their
young one the newly-made world in which their old
world's marks would be rubbed off the slate and life
could be what the owner made it. So that was why
even he had never been told ; he was to start fair. As
if that were possible! Why, the mere fact that they
were in hiding at Strand-on-the-Green, and he not to
know it, had swelled and swelled till it ruled all their
ways with each other at home; it had planted crepus-
cular woods of reserve and annealed chilly steels of
hard self-reliance. He could see now the way that he
had been made, and why he had been so queerly fur-
THE MORNING'S WAR 259
tive in pushing his great schemes when a child, and
grotesquely stoic in taking defeats that need not have
come; what roundabout ways he had taken to scraps
of common knowledge that other children, no doubt,
got for the asking. He might be the same now ; prob-
ably was, for made is made and cannot go back; lie
might be walking as far round now, to run up against
a near dead wall in the end, as he was when he made
his idiotic attempts to dance and learn music; perhaps
he was standing now as far outside the world of scru-
ples and awes in which a young Catholic woman must
live, as he had been outside the whole universe of
social lightsomeness when he was paying dues to Si-
gnor Bellaggio. He must make surer, must go to places
where his warped mental sight might be helped — to
churches where there was Mass, or where veiled
women were flitting in to confess in chapels out of the
aisles. He dimly understood that his mind had lost the
unconscious bloom of its first health; it had to think
out possible aids and do repairs in itself and guard
against maladies. First he pored over June's letters
again, forcing himself to give weight to whatever he,
being made as he was, might have minded too little.
" I prayed for you to Mary, Mother of God." He
fixed on the words; he strove to prevent himself from
shirking; he strained till all the letter's passion was in
them, telling himself all the time that he could not
bend himself that way enough, could not hope ever to
figure, by any effort, all the depth and dream of June's
abandonment of her reason and will to the mystic rule
of her faith.
" O the sacrifice !
How ceremonious, solemn, and unearthly
It was i' the offering ! "
The Winter's Tale, Act iii., sc. I.
THE ante-chapel is large and ill-lit in the Chelsea
Church of the Holy Name; through the gap in
the screen that walls it off from the rest of the church
the crowd of last comers and born choosers of lower
seats look from obscurity into light, and, if they are
placed near the middle, see the thin veils of incense
pushing or dispersing up, a great way off, like the
smoke almost burnt into flame over a furnace. Au-
brey, sitting more at one side, could not see the altar;
all that was to be done there would be round a corner,
for him; he would have to infer its progress from
what the people did who could see; a wave of genu-
flection, no doubt, would roll out at the right moments
through the break in the screen and so unbrokenly on,
round its corners. He had been in this place when a
boy; at first, in those days he had wanted to find what
to think about people's squabblesome creeds and patent
rights in bliss or damnation; but soon he had let all
that rest; there were no ghosts, and dead people did
not get up, but why should not any one say they did,
if he liked? People often said their blood boiled, or
their tongues were tied; no doubt it was only meant
THE MORNINGS WAR 2G1
in that way. Christ's life was another matter — not
to be thought about in such places, but read and wept
over in secret with shamefaced agonies of love and
admiration for one who would be so hooted if he lived
now. That tragic and lovely life could have nothing
to do with the composed unction of priests as they
sprinkled the holy water — no more than the Psalm-
ist's rending cries of writhing self-pity could have
to do with the congregations who poured out the
words of them, looking so glad of their good clothes.
It had all been semi-private theatricals then, and not
to be treated rudely by any visitors; so he had blinked
up reverently towards the aspersing Roman brush and
had inwardly applauded the Anglican vicar of Coway,
near home, for that telling break and slow recovery
of his voice, as if with undisguisable effort, when he
had just said a moving thing in a sermon — that though
tenderness, was not easy for him at all; the youthful
Aubrey had once heard him rating the little soiled rag
of a girl from the workhouse who did the rough work
at the parsonage.
Music began, distant and muted like sounds of the
street heard in illness. Music had never said things
of its own to Aubrey — merely made his thoughts
fluent; recollection and anticipation ran where they
would, like our easily triumphing powers in dreams.
Now he was picturing June, still a child, as she must
have been on those old Sundays, nearing already the
heart of this mystic marvel, soaking its essences in till
all the tissues of mind and heart were charged and
stained with them unchangeably, while he had prowled
262 THE MORNING'S WAR
and peeped from outside like the boys round a tent
where there may be a circus. And all the time June
and he had been drawing nearer and nearer; that old
fancy of all lovers next filled him; he trembled, as all
of them do, to think how many miracles of choice and
of chance had conspired throughout their lives along
the two convergent lines, wavering, broken, uncertain,
rushing together at last. Had his parents not settled
in England, had he not been bitten with that mountain
mania, or not gone to Oxford, or had Guy and he not
met there — . Guy had attracted him oddly at Oxford
— the pretty boy, prettily spoken, prettily mannered,
amusingly, puzzlingly proof against the young sum-
mer's intoxicant loveliness. Guy had disturbed him
then; he remembered now how he had tried to put to
himself what it was about Guy or his ways that made
you want to hear what he would say next and to see
what he would do. They had said good-night in the
resonant Broad as the clock struck the quarter before
midnight; Aubrey had leant for a while out of his
window, cooling himself at the antique hoariness of
night shed on an Oxford moonlit and stone-cold.
What had worked in him, heated him, even then?
Groping impulses, instincts, a blind curiosity stirring
like seeds that push furtively up through the dark
clay, dim precognitions drawing him subtly towards
June the unseen, as two spars adrift far apart at even-
ing draw to each other strangely through all the night
and are locked together at dawn? Coincidence — was
there any such thing? Or was it only that there were
spaces uncharted as yet, across which soul could hail
THE MORNING'S WAR 263
soul, sending a ripple running over some unperceived
sea that was not a bar, but a bond?
Thought, shifting and eddysome, played round that
fancy awhile and then drifted on. The music was
rising and quickened his reverie. Then an intoning
yoice droned, with no care for what the words were,
as if sense were dross, and reason no more than the
mud on the earth is to one flying over it. Of course;
they must seem so to June, who was free of this air;
all the things he could say, the ways he could plead,
must seem ignobly ugly to her, no better than some
cretin's stuttering struggle to make clear his poor
soiled desires. He was excluded; rightly or wrongly,
what mattered it which? Perhaps they had got hold
of something, these mystics — the ones that cared
really. Perhaps it was all a mistake, an ageing world's
maudlin effort to have back the dreams of its youth.
What did it matter? He was excluded.
There came rolling out through the door in the
screen a chant or sung collect, the words of it poised
aloft on the tips of clear treble voices: —
"Gratiam tuam, quaesumus, Domine, mentibus nostris infunde,
Ut qui, angelo nuntiante, Christi filii tui incarnationem cog-
Per passionem ejus et crucem in Resurrectionis gloriam per-
He could have fallen down and worshiped the beauty
of cadences falling like those, stooping like humbled
queens, or floating like mists of high waterfalls down
through a sunlit air, or alighting on earth with a snow-
264 THE MORNING'S WAR
flake's hesitant tenderness. They were delight, and
yet hunger came from hearing them, thought ached
and craved at them — flowers in ripening corn were
like that; they preyed like lost loves; as if from some
house of barred doors, to which we had lost them,
they looked out through windows but never quite saw
us, their eyes were so drowsed with fumes of their
own beatitude. June was there, in that locked house
of mystical ardors whose speech was these melodies.
She had the key; she could hold the note of high rap-
ture; she could build for herself, out of this spilt
wealth of superb unreason; arch-like, it must lock its
splendors together in strength when the keystone she
had was put in ; palace-like it must rise, arch upon
arch of ordered, articulate ecstasy.
Then he saw her. He had just been thinking she
might be there, when some one moved out of a seat
far up the chapel, and there, in a space thus made,
was the profile that no other could ever be like. It
was upturned and grave; and behind it the light
blazed whitest, throwing up dark, from the throat to
the hair, the line from which the puissance and grace of
all perfect curves of vases and daffodils, cornice and
arch, must have come. She was watching the priest, he
felt sure; Aubrey's eyes strove to bore through the air
to reach hers; they seemed to do it; he fancied he saw
her looks change as she followed the Mass out through
its symbolist drama of abnegation transfigured into
glory. Eager pity, loyalty, triumph — the shadow or
light of each of these seemed to fall on her, cast by
the invisible celebrant at the altar. How he played
THE MORNING'S WAR 2G5
on her; what could cope with that power to fire and
thrill and persuade? While Aubrey gazed, the glow
appeared to whiten and also recede, with June in it,
drawing her back from the eye till she was a speck,
still with its outline poignantly fair, but remote in
He sat back when the service ended. Best wait
there and let her go first, he thought, and then slip
out himself and sneak off. Before he could know
what to say when they met, he would have to digest
all this, that he had just taken in. But priest and
assistants and choir had all to troop out through the
ante-chapel; so those who sat there must stand up and
watch the warm core of the rite breaking its shell,
like a tropical thing over-ripe, and shedding itself
abroad through the screen, still aglow and melodious
and odorous, spilling its sensuous affluence. June
passed, and then Aubrey waited on in the emptying
building; horrible emptiness, not a clean void, but in-
fested, deflowered, staling, all dust and used breath and
flat fumes from the cup of the rite's glorious drunken-
ness. People too — as the last of them left he thought
he could see illusion die out on their lips and eyes as
fast as a rose afterglow sinks to dead white on the
snow when real night comes. June would be different;
she would not change ; could he see her now she would
be still the staunch fanatic, shaming those weak ones.
Or might she — ? Oh, it was useless, all this putting
off; it was shirking; it only gave time for maudlin
delusion to sneak its way in; the firing line was wher-
266 THE MORNINGS WAR
ever June was; it was only there that the thing to do,
whatever it was, could be found. He rose and ran
after her, slipping and pressing through the thinned
rear of the leaving crowd.
She was in sight; that was good; she was alone,
walking fast. ' Miss Hathersage! " Aubrey called, at
her shoulder, hardening himself to forego the right,
lost or suspended, to say " June! "
She turned at the touch of the voice. She darted
a hand out, or both; both, he thought afterwards.
' You! " she cried; " Aubrey! " and looked as people
do at a thing just thrown up in the air, with wide eyes
and the lips apart, and the head back a little, so that
the light fell clear on her face; it had a flush so sud-
den and strong that it seemed to move over her cheeks
like a beautiful patch of red shadow.
" I saw you in that place," he said dully. All his
might had been put into that first effort to speak to her
coldly, and she had not even seen it; her generosity
could not perceive it.
'You'll come down to-morrow?' she eagerly
pressed him. 'Early? No? In the afternoon, then.
I go back to-night. You can't stay in the house.
It's being painted and father and Guy are away for
two days; I biouvac in my room and the drawing-
room, the only dry spots. You'll stay at Brunt Farm.
You don't know it, of course — our annexe, half a
mile off, a place like a Swiss hotel's — a dependance;
we put people there, to sleep, when there's no room at
home. We have not many bedrooms, you know."
She ran on, the little things that she had to say
THE MORNING'S WAR 267
tumbling over each other. Her eyes had no rest,
either; now they would glance past his neck on one
side and then on the other and then straight into his
face, most shiningly, and then drop as if hit, and then
lift and take light again. It was strange to Aubrey at
first; he did not recognize it — had never seen any one
else overjoyed, nor known that the word could ever
mean all that it claims, and that the first rush of a
happiness could be distraction and fritter its own ex-
pression away into incoherence. All the time she would
talk, breaking off and restarting and flitting from
this to that as if each theme were the only one in the
world for one moment, and trivial the next — Cusheen;
and Aubrey's play that had been performed — oh, tri-
umphantly — while he was there; and a first brief of
Guy's — or would that come later? — anyhow, a suc-
cess of some sort; and the trouble it was to hold up
their little secret — they really must give up their fur-
tive trinket of privacy now. She talked as if harm
might happen if there were a silence. " You'll find
other guests at the farm — Dr. Schweinfurth, the
African traveler, anthropologist, father's old friend;
he's writing a book on our wild English ways; and — "
her voice checked for the first time.
" Newman? " said Aubrey.
" Yes. He is still there. Guy seems to like him,
and father, too. They think I judge harshly."
" He comes to your house ? "
" Every day, when they're here. But now there's
a rest. And you're coming. You're coming. You're
coming." She had congealed for a moment; she
2G8 THE MORNINGS WAR
melted again, with a little fling of gladness, saying the
words over and over again as if at the first time she
had found something precious and then held it to
gaze at. ' Why did you not write any more?" she
suddenly asked in a voice that did not chide, and
scarcely inquired, but meant, " You might not write
for a year, you might not give a sign, and I would not
fear or doubt."
He stammered some lie about preoccupations. He
had a dry throat ; it had come on him while she talked.
He failed; he had come out to tell her the truth, but
the truth had changed — part of it had; for she was
not what he had then foreseen; the thing to be
wounded or crushed when he spoke was as much more
a thing to be guarded and spared than he could ever
have thought before, as life is more to be spared than
She did not wait for his last husky word; she broke
in with an inarticulate murmur of soft remonstrance
to soothe away the idea that she could exact excuses
from him; why, she had not half thanked him for
" all he had done " — it had made Cusheen rich, paid
all its rents and upset beside it a cornucopia of new
clothes and maize and seed potatoes. " Father Power
has written and told me everything — oh, yes, every-
Out of breath, her eyes dark with dilation, she
looked at him with a fond wildness. Everything!
Aubrey's teeth bit on the irony of it. Doubtless his
little swimming practice with Power was " every-
thing." Lithe, noble creature, generous and wild,
THE MORNINGS WAR 269
that did not yet know it was caged; it licked the bars
unsuspectingly. Aubrey turned from her, disabled
When they said good-by his hand returned her full
pressure. He groaned for it when she was gone. He
had done nothing yet, had drifted on, only.
" O that 'twere possible,
After long grief and pain.
To find the arms of my true love
Round me once again ! "
JUNE had two callers next day, before Aubrey-
came. First, Lady Roads, wife of the sovereign
vendor of baseness in print. Honor had found her
out since the day when she brought angry blood to
June's cheeks on the Anthons' lawn. It had not made
her unpractical. " I had to come, dear," she said; she
had been a small actress, and called people dears; " to
beg a thing of you."
" Tell me." In spite of the " dear " June thawed
to the distress in the voice.
"You darling! But if it's the slightest trouble
you'll send me straight home? — promise. It's this —
do you think you'll be seeing that dear Mr. Browne
who was with you — three weeks ago, is it?'
" He's coming to-day. Not to stay here. At the
farm. You don't know Brunt Farm ? " June rose ;
she wanted to turn her face away for a moment.
She went to the open door-window. " It's down
there," she said, pointing across bleaching stubble to
where a low roof basked in a sun-filled hollow.
" And then he'll be coming here. Might I come in,
THE MORNINGS WAR 271
some time when he's here, just to explain how
wretched my poor George is for having flown
out the way he did — oh, you don't know, of
course ? "
June remembered. Roads had coveted Aubrey for
a recruit to the gainful business of rotting England's
brain and heart towards their fall. June hearkened
" It was at dear Lady Anthon's. I thought you
must really have heard — George's voice does penetrate
so; not when he's arguing — George never argues; he
knows too well what people are; he only told Mr.
Browne the plain truth, because he thought he could
speak to him like a father — that he was just a young
man, with the world to face still."
"Was he not?"
"Then? Yes, of course. But George hadn't a
notion that Mr. Browne was going to come off, the
way he has done, with those letters that made people
send all the money, and now this play that everybody
is talking about? "
" Are they? ,: It was not straightforward of June.
She knew. But she could not help angling for even
the poorest take of the delicious praise.
" My dear, it's the boomiest boom. Even the stupid
old critics all say it's good — that's the queer thing — ■
and yet it's quite simple; George says that nobody else
would dare write that way, for fear of not seeming
to know enough. George and I saw it last night.
He almost cried in the box."
"Poor Mr. Browne! At his comedy?'
272 THE MORNING'S WAR
' No, but it hurt George so, not to be friends with
a person like that, when he might have been. ' Why,
he's a natural force,' George kept on saying, ' same
as springs that table waters come from. He's like a
mint running wild,' George said; ' it's Nature, fair
broke loose and spouting money, like the oil-wells.'
George does love to be at peace with Nature — just
as if we were still quite poor, he's so conscientious.
That moving stillness, the End House butler, mani-
festing itself near her elbow, startled the pleading
wife. Her own butler, the " Oh! " seemed to say, was
less still. Dr. Schweinfurth had called, the still but-
ler said. He would not come in yet; he had gone to
the library; there were a note and a parcel left for him
there by Mr. Hathersage.
June smiled. The old friend was free of the house.
: You know him? " she asked Lady Roads.
The man who knows all about the little, short
African savages? "
" Yes. He has torn himself from them now, for a
year, to discover England."
Then Aubrey came. June's back was turned to
the door, but she knew he was there, before she had
seen him or heard the name, whether it was that he
pressed through the air in a way that no one else had,
so that a ripple reached her which only he could have
shaped, or whether his tread alone was, like a voice,
There was a soft but full light in the room, not like
the murk of London yesterday, where one could only
THE MORNINGS WAR 273
make out the main signals run up in another's face by
the moment's quickened blood or a thrilled nerve;
here all the book of expression lay open. And in June
it had been filled; Aubrey saw she had grown in a
way that made the petulant girl of the Roc-a-Voir
dining-room seem a thing crude, like green fruit, to
remember. Her whole face had attained a more
serene oval ; every f rettish or querulous line that had
drawn it before must have let itself go. Yet her
forehead had pensiveness, not corrugative, but a
benign glow; not a shadow, and yet it foreshadowed;
he had not imagined till then how much of the maiden
mind may be already wedded, from when it is pledged,
and mothering to-morrow's world.
She was transparent, plane behind plane, far into
the deep place, behind her eyes, from which her soul
ran to embrace him; over that, not wholly hiding it,
played the hostess' frank kindness, done with a will —
he might have been some guest so little cared for that
courtesy, fearing to fail, filled the cup till it spilt. And
over all that, in its turn, there sparkled, for him only
to see, her affection's amusement to find itself flaunt-
ing that mask.
She said soon, " May I leave you two people a
moment ? Lady Roads has a mission to you," she
smiled to Aubrey, " and I a little one to Dr.
Schweinfurth. My father has left a gift for
Then she was gone, and the air flat, and the baro-
net's lady was losing no time. " Do tell me, now,
just what it's like, to wake up one morning and find
274 THE MORNING'S WAR
yourself famous?' And then, without pausing an
instant, " Sir George was so glad."
; ' Glad ? ' Aubrey echoed inanely, his eyes on
the crack of the door, shamelessly, like a turned-out
' So glad — and I know you would want to be just,
and I can't bear to see my poor darling suffer, the way
he was doing last night, when they cheered your play
so — the whole house was furious, I heard, the first
night, because you weren't there. It was his dread,
you know, lest he had wronged a great soul. There's
something so fine about George — he's so utterly
frank and good in that way — so ready always to
say ' I was wrong,' don't you know, like the
Prayer Book — ' erred and been deceived.' You
believe it, don't you? — if he could ever have dreamt
what last night would be like, or how splendid your
letters would be, in that dreadful paper, he couldn't
have said one word that could ever wound you. You
do believe that? "
He heard idly, as people look, from a blurring dis-
tance, at something that might be curious if it were
near. " Oh, yes, I do."
" Thank you, so much." She rambled on,
ending, "And you're friends with George? You'll
come — ? "
" Ah ! ,: He had jumped up. Dr. Schweinfurth
came, radiant. Big, blond and mild, he advanced with
effulgent moist eyes, one hand holding June's with a
gesture of unexhausted or still incompletely expressed
affection or thanks, the other holding a longish, slim
THE MORNING'S WAR 275
case of fine rosewood, lidded with plate glass and
brassy with purposeful locks like a jewel casket's.
Under his beard his lips moved each time he gave the
box a look of devotion. He simmered with rapture;
in happy, warm words it lipped over: "Your father's
liberal knowledge;" "his great intelligence;" "he
understands " — the Teuton's last, vastest eulogy.
June introduced them all, playfully puffing Aubrey
— " our new British dramatist." She was impelled to
say the last things that she would have said if he were
yet her known lover.
" Dramatist ? So ? " The German's eyes, willing
to be polite, but unable, wavered between Aubrey's
face and the rosewood.
June laughed and gave in to the child in the big
man. She looked at the box, to let him look too.
" My father was given it," June said, " by Major
Legard — you know Major Legard? "
" Know Legard ! Why, we were there — at the
same time — in Africa."
" Oh, then you would meet, of course," Lady Roads
babbled in, meaning no irony.
" Legard," Schweinfurth tolled momentously,
" has — Legard had" he amended, giving a jubilant tap
on the case's glass lid, " three of what nobody else in
Europe or Asia has. As for America, I cannot say.
Legard had three of the genuine, perfect war-arrows
used by the Malantu, with all the poison on. The
Malantu — you know about them?" His eye ranged
276 THE MORNING'S AVAR
" I am so sorry, I fear I don't," June said, for them
" The tribe was — the glory is gone, but it was — the
one fighting race in all the unspoiled part of Africa,
that had the two sitmma bona of primitive life to-
gether — good, thin tips of steel for its arrows, and
good, strong, quick poison to dip them in — poison to
kill, at the very worst, in an hour, often in only a half,
and to paralyze sooner, first the limbs, then the body,
last the brain also. At that stage of civilization, what
a thing for a people ! How they got the steel — that is
one of the wonders. And now Legard has given your
father one of the only three arrows! Love, indeed,
beyond love of brothers, when men make such gifts.
And your father has given it me ! "
He opened the case with musing tenderness, took
out the minute dart and held up its delicate tip. ' Per-
fect ! " he almost maundered. " Look at the poisonous
glaze, aqueous, turbid a little, as on a good Persian
vase. One tear in the skin, one prick, and — man is but
a shadow — do not waste your half hour in seeing the
doctor. Myths there have been, of old demi-gods, that
could throw off the poison. Myth is good, but, for
proof, the doctors have tried, first the poison and then
all the antidotes in the world, upon great dogs,
baboons, pigs, every beast most correspondent to man.
One, at last, by an accident, on himself. Useless!
They nothing could."
His eyes doted awhile on the tiny winged death.
Sir Bors might have looked at the Holy Grail so,
THE MORNING'S WAlt 277
Aubrey thought. Then, detaching his eyes, the great
man said to June, " I am glad I have come."
She laughed affectionately. Lady Roads held her
breath till the case closed again; the released air es-
caped in a little gasp, unaffected for once.
' It is rather awful, isn't it? " June said, in extenua-
tion of those flinching nerves. Her own had not
But Lady Roads was real no longer than she was
afraid. " So awful! " she prattled, making her voice
pretty again, " and yet the poor things had to do what
they could. Such a noble epitaph that, I do think —
' He did what he could '; I've always thought it was
what I should like for dear George. Well, I must
rush. Good-by, Dr. Schweinfurth; I have been so
much interested. Good-by, Mr. Browne, my husband
will be so glad. I'll write to you. Good-by, dear."
June would have been kissed had her prescient dread
of it not shed a quick mist of delicate coldness over
. Schweinfurth had stowed his treasure in some vast
inner pocket. He probed his coat's outer wall at short
intervals, lest the case should have missed the right
orifice. June went out with him into the hall when he
left. Her voice could be heard, round and full, as they
traversed it, then suddenly distant and thin, at the
opened front door.
Then it closed; her steps were returning, eager,
quickening as she came on. Aubrey had sat down.
He jumped up and went to the open door- window and
stood looking out, his back half turned to the room;
278 THE MORNING'S WAR
lie did not know why he did that ; he had not decided
to do it ; it was not a chosen step towards some other
step after it ; but he had done it when June, at his
shoulder, called him by name; he had foregone the
embrace that was his to take. He turned his head to
" Hamlet. I did love you once.
Ophelia. Indeed, my lord, you made me believe so.
Hamlet. You should not have believed me."
Hamlet, Act iii., sc. I.
JUNE had in her hand an unopened letter. She
must have picked it up in the hall on her way.
When Aubrey held back, her eyes fell to it. " From
my Aunt Kate," she said ; " from Rathfarnham ; the
answer to mine." She flicked the closed envelope on
to a table, to wait.
Aubrey looked out again, as her eyes rose. " It's
good here,'' he said. Over the undulant hills and used
cornlands the brown autumn stillness was shed like a
mood. He shammed admiration; it made an excuse
for flinching away from the sight of her face, where
the lights were a little sunk that her joy had hung out
for their festival.
"Is it?' : she asked quaintly, refusing to be de-
ceived. She put a light, deprecant touch on his arm.
" Tell me," she said, not quite as a mother prompts a
child to say out something it has on its mind, nor yet
as a child asks its father to tell it about the great
world, but still with a trace of the tenderness of the
one and the wist fulness of the other.
He turned to her sharply, in fear of softening.
280 THE MORNINGS WAR
" May we go out? "
She stepped into the garden, obedient. There was
a lawn under the windows. Flanking the lawn, on one
side, like an aisle, with a hedge between, was a plot of
flower-beds veined with a maze of pebbled path.
Looking over it, southward, a seat of red brick, an
Italianate toy, a piece of " taste," was canopied with
trailing vines. They had reached it before either
spoke, June awaiting an answer, Aubrey holding at
bay what had come and treasuring each unruined
With a gesture she made him sit there. She sat
down, too, with a space between them, both looking
out sunwards over the motionless, waiting flowers.
Each was a little turned in towards the other.
' Begin," she said, more like the mother now than
He made a gulping effort and then shied away at the
last, and only gave up delayful silence to clutch at
" Oh, I — caught the night mail out from Euston," he
pattered ; " another night mail west from Dublin — "
' Two nights with no sleep. You poor one."
"Oh, no; I slept."
" You woke early, in that ghastly light — like faint-
ing faces, you said. I know; it discourages; I awoke
too. No, I had been awake, thinking; you seemed so
indescribably little out there, like a child lost in a
She had not moved on the seat, but her voice and her
THE MORNING'S WAR 281
eyes had come nearer; like lights and bells of a haven
they offered rest. More than that ; she was enriched
again and ripened ; within her some rose of precarious
and poignant delight had burst into passionate bloom,
its petals aglow in her cheek and their curves on her
lips, a beauty that shed every sheathing, to spill round
the senses its odor and luster of treasuring tender-
What could he do, that had the passion himself of
the full, contained vessel of youth? Values were
changing, purposes melting, in this rose mist that he
swam in. One thing he could hold to — she must not
be cheated; she had to be told. But when she should
hear? He foresaw her face streaming as if with blood
from that blow r . Need he hasten her marring? Time,
in this yellowing garden, had lost motion. Not a leaf
rustled; the sun hung becalmed in still haze; the
earth's hastening was over. What was a minute, or
more, in that timeless world ?
" About Cusheen? " she asked.
"That dreadful place?' 1 he said, merely putting
her off to gaze at her as she still was.
He roused from his gazing, a little. He had to find
something to say, merely to keep both of the forking
roads untaken for one minute more. " Why didn't
you tell me about it?" he said, in a voice of forced
hardness. For softness would have been one of the
" I didn't know," she pleaded. " Tell me."
She almost whispered these words, with a quick
282 THE MORNING'S WAR
outstretch of her face — some infinitesimal part of an
inch, but it seemed to bring her whole body nearer, as
though the spirit that Hung itself towards his were
carrying with it its envelope. Aubrey lost strength
for a moment or two ; for that time their fate hung un-
certain ; it fluttered in air like a flake of snow that has
not alighted yet, over the ridge of the Andes; still
poised between Atlantic and Pacific, the flap of an
insect's wing might decide to which of two oceans it
shall go. Some breath of a gadding wind makes the
great choice for the flake ; in Aubrey there stirred the
remembrance of June in the Anthons' garden, the
devotee wounded. "Tell you what?' he asked,
" All that you found at Cusheen."
" Oh, I saw women hunting potatoes in little
patches of mud. They all coughed."
" Yes? " She did not harden at his hard voice. It
only moved her, as mothers awaked in the night are
moved at feeling sick babies beat and kick at the breast
with minute, troubled limbs.
" There were men who scraped weed off the rocks
and laid it on flat stones, to cheat seeds into thinking
them earth. Good work, good worm's work — you
know the big book about earthworms — Darwin's,
isn't it? That's Cusheen's history."
" All of it? " There was a silence. Then she said,
as a comrade says to a sure comrade who holds back a
little thing for an instant, " Don't keep me out of it
all. It hurts."
He had no hope but in rollicking hardness now.
THE MORNING'S WAR 283
" Oh, yes, things hurt; they're for that. I found that
Her hand went out and lit on his arm. " Aubrey,"
she said most softly, inviting his eyes.
He could double no more. Her challenging love
had brought him to bay under the dead wall to which
he had known they must come. " No, curse it ! " he
groaned, " I can't have you touch me," and let his arm
fall slack from under her hand.
Even then he had made no choice of a course. What
he did could hardly be said to be willed. Falling down
the face of a crag, he was grasping, not at the best
hold, but at anything. He stood up. " No; sit there,"
he ordered. Almost behind her he stood, to escape
seeing her eyes. ' Listen. The thing I found out was
— it's no use — my trying to love you."
: You don't ? ' It was hardly even a wail, for a
wail may have life, but this was the very ashes of pain.
She seemed to sink into herself and grow small, as the
faces of people expiring do, she was so pressed in
upon, from without, by mobbing griefs and shames.
1 Shall I go ? " he asked with some stupid impulse to
lie no more than he need, or at least to let silence do
the rest of the lying.
' Not yet." She got the words out as soon as, in
some dim war which she must be fighting within, she
had gained a moment's mastery. Then the war went
Unendurable silence ; he could not keep it. " Hate
me, hate me, hate me ! " he prompted her savagely.
284 THE MORNINGS WAR
" See what a brute ! You can't clo it yet as you should.
You must, when you see."
" No, no, no ! ' She was heard speaking far off, as
people are who, with matters of moment to heed, blow-
away almost absently any dust-specks of intrusion that
settle on them.
" You'll think of forgiving! " he jibed, straining to
bind himself over, to cut off retreat. ; You do, you
people that have religions. Forgive!'
" Wait ! " For a little longer she held off from her
the things that he said, while she mustered her own
battered remnant of will. Then she began : "Au-
" Still? " he said, at the name.
" Till you go — may I ? "
He relaxed guard a little ; she seemed to accept ; per-
haps it was all done now. He even began already to
look back as a Cain might do to all the time in which
he had not hurt Abel, and see his lost riches shining, a
great way off, like some old delight in a book. The
brutal lie severed them now, by his act; the flaming
sword stood at the gate ; he stared at it numbly, think-
ing, " I made it."
She was speaking. " You are you still, and I I,"
she began. She looked round and up and he saw in
her face a flicker yet of the light he had stamped upon.
He only half hardened again. ' No, we're stone
dead; I, at least; can't you see? Things that one does
may be death, and more than it; they put an end to
more than what stops when your body dies and your
soul hasn't groveled. Think? "
THE MORNING'S WAR 285
She rose, her eyes on him ; in them the flicker, that
Aubrey had thought to quench, was leaping again into
flame. 'As if I could think! Do a sum, all about
you? Count up what's good and bad in you and then,
if the bad things are more, give you up! I can't. It's
not like that. It's all just an aching awareness of your
being you and my wanting you and that I'm nothing
without you — no more than a fiddle would be, after
everybody was dead."
She spoke like an incarnation of love, unashamed,
unafraid, unexacting, unjudging, more self-surrender-
ingly his, to take and keep, than she ever had been.
He might have turned back, even then. But he was
distracted. He saw her as men in a falling fort, who
are shooting their wives and daughters to keep them
from more cruel ends, may look at faces that they have
only wounded in trying to kill. Murder's mad lust for
completion was frenzied the more by anguished tender-
ness. ' Damn it, I swear I don't love you," he
growled; 'I swear. Won't that do you? I thought
you were proud."
He went on ; he forced the brutality wildly, heaping
affronts on her, desperately trying to stun her before
the sight of her, with the blows falling upon her, could
break him. At last she went slack, her body shrinking
down on the seat. She did not weep, but looked out
lifelessly over the still flowers, as if sick with dull pain.
He stood there, sick too. All the garden was tense
with sick pain ; the still haze on the hills was the look
of a paralyzed animal put to the torture. " Shall I
go? " he said, when he could.
286 THE MORNING'S WAR
She just moved her head; he went, upon that. In a
convex mirror placed at the alley's end he saw her last,
a tiny figure of devastation, her face not yet in her
hands ; he was shut out from the right to see that.
"Death will find some way to untie or cut the most Gordian
knots of life." Sir Thomas Browne.
AT seven that evening supper was on at Brunt
Farm, in an antique kitchen, now a kitchen no
longer, but prized above parlors by amateurs of the
quaint. It was windowless, almost; the fireplace filled
a whole wall; the shut nail-studded door of the farm
was half the wall opposite. Candlelight made the place
snugly cavernous, deepened the sockets of people's
eyes and aspired intently up through the quiet air with
the straight, striving flame that can bring a few sec-
onds' trance if you gaze at it with a set will like its
own. Aubrey tried for that anodyne once, at a mo-
ment of silence. He and Schweinfurth were supping
alone ; Newman was out " to his tea," as the farmer's
wife told them, at Mr. Nick-Ross's.
The name recalled Oxford to Aubrey, his second
year there, and a Harrow freshman, a boy like a finely-
bred flower, the infantine grace of his urbane face
scarcely flecked then, sodden soon afterwards. Au-
brey remembered : he noticed that he remembered :
parts of him went on, just as they used to. Like one
who comes to himself after a fall, his mind moved a
little, felt at its limbs, bent a joint here and there,
wondering what would still work. Battered with loss,
288 THE MORNING'S WAR
rolled in the mud of his lying, still he did not want to
be broken: his instinct was loyal to life; like a torn
tissue in highly vascular flesh, an unquestioning im-
pulse, practical, plodding, strove already to build up
again tiny cell upon cell.
Kings may be blest, but the German was glorious.
" Like them that dream " did he eat wild duck and the
milk pudding of Britain. They were well cooked,
there was good claret too, and he was a traveler.
" It's good to be here," he said, with a fork upheld
tridentwise; nothing at Brunt Farm could revolt him
now, not the hill of manure that sloped to the duck-
pond and stained it sour brown, nor the stable where
John, the laborer, slept in his clothes among the feet
of his horses. All is well where your own Holy Grail
has appeared : his lay on the far end of the table, be-
yond the white cloth; his eyes sought it at times, to
drink rapture, leaving the meat that perisheth. Aubrey
listened, at first as the very sick look out from their
beds when a little better, pondering dully on having
the use of their reopened eyes. Then he talked; the
tongue worked of itself, it was queer how fluently —
more than if no blow had fallen. Soon he took or
found cues like a host ; he chattered along, making a
little, or nothing, go a shameless long way ; he retailed,
for twice what they were worth, little things he had
heard, it might be at third hand — how John, in his
cups, had once broken a leg and lain between hospital
sheets for some weeks in great misery, sleepless till he
could get his discharge and flee back to the fouled
straw, the crunch of the corn in the mangers, the
THE MORNING'S WAR 289
breath and sighing of heavy beasts in the night, the
stench and the buzzing flies.
•' Wise child that knows its own schlummerlied,"
Schweinfurth would babble back; " ' Schlaf, Kindlein,
schlaf,' say the flies, and John knoweth their voice as
your ship-boy in Shakespeare hears the imperious
surge saying, ' Hushaby." " Schweinfurth was maud-
lin with doating on his own treasure; he spilt his con-
tentment all round him, letting it fall, like the
warmth of a sun, on the bad and the good.
Aubrey could see what he himself was to this
beatified soul — some little figure intent on trifles, its
fugitive interests, its chatter of Johns and stable flies;
a small-talker, living for transiencies, he had to be
humored; small beer must be served out to keep him
in play, in harmless play, on the outer steps of the
door of the mansion of the intelligent. Aubrey could
see it all with a new clearness, frigid, transparent,
incredible, like an old view seen again through
strangely washed air on a rare, ninless evening after
rain. It would have made him drunk once, with de-
light; now he was cold, and that was strangest of all;
not anguished, but just cold, with opened eyes. He
wondered, was it like that to be old — to see so much
more and mind it so little; to find your old impedi-
ments gone, and nothing beyond them? He set his
voice going again. It ran on, undismayed by any thrill
of wonder, as if all talk were of things he had long
ago seen out to their ends. " I that used to be shy as a
sheep ! " he thought; speech, that used to come in short
spurts, precarious rushes, apt to be checked, he could
200 THE MORNING'S WAR
not tell when, by a suddenly collaring sense of the
staggering moment of what he was speaking about —
speech was effortless now, and his own voice sounded
to him like bells tinkling outside; the airy, shrewd stuff
that he gave off was heard by himself as if it came
from old colonels or dowagers. And people had tried
to describe calamities ! Could they have ever felt
them? Or was he somehow deficient? No tempest
of grief was raging in him; he could not say that grief
gnawed him, or that he was stunned. What he was
bearing was not like what he had ever read of a man
who had lost what he loved, or his honor ; his was no
taxing pang or high trial or call for sore effort; only
an unthrilled, sinister ease ; nothing mattered, nothing
resisted, no wheel in him all found good rough ground
to bite on; the thing that was gone was the push of the
water back on the oar, the exacting, enchanting chal-
lenge of hardness and hazard in all the things that had
ever had to be done.
They were now on Nick-Ross; mention of New-
man had led to him. Nick-Ross should have been
here, Aubrey vowed, to meet Schweinfurth. Yes, he
remembered; Nick-Ross was just off to East Africa.
"He also? Exploring?"
" Only big game, I'm afraid. He's a soldier, or
Schweinfurth pondered. He sought the connection,
"A soldier, then, not of profession? A voluntary? ' :
" No, no! In the Grenadier Guards."
Schweinfurth wondered again till Aubrey brought
a seeming solution. " He's out of them now."
THE MORNINGS WAR 291
"So?" The German's brow cleared. 'In your
army, too, is no room for idlers? "
"Cashiered? Dear no. Nick-Ross came into his
kingdom, his thirty thousand acres. His father had
died. And so farewell, as your German national poet,
your Shakespeare, says, to the great wars and the
"He is how old?"
" Say, twenty-five."
" He'll marry; be serious; perhaps hunt a pack of
his own; tell stories of camp and court after dinner —
he was a Queen's page once."
"Before being a soldier?" Schweinfurth was at-
" Yes. When a boy."
" It is a parallel ! " Schweinfurth's eyes sparkled.
He rose. " May I read you five words only, out of my
book? A book not yet out. On the Malantu." He
made for the door. Then he remembered. : You will
keep guard? ' He nodded his head towards the arrow
and hastened out.
Aubrey sat still for a moment and then went to the
arrow, took it out of the case and looked at it nar-
rowly. No thrill there, either; the tiny passport to
Lethe, easy and sure as Cleopatra's asp, stirred noth-
ing in him. He put it down listlessly. Schweinfurth
was back; he came in engrossed in a roll of proofs; he
was a man of successive absorptions, each of them ab-
solute. Smoothing a long slip of paper out, he read
aloud with zest: —
292 THE MORNINGS WAR
The Malantu. The men of the ruling class serve
as pages in youth. From eighteen to twenty-five they
are classed as Elmorans, or warriors. After that age
they marry, settle down, and live on their lands, which
are tilled for them by villains or landless churls. The
Elmorans spend the rest of their lives in hunting.
They live chiefly on meat, they do not drink water,
and it is a point of honor with them not to work.'
The reader looked up, happy. " A true analogy, sur-
vival perhaps. I will go and make a note." The new
interest engaged the whole man; as he went out he did
not so much as look at the arrow, his cynosure, of ten
minutes ago, left lying exposed by the listless Aubrey,
nor hear two nearing sounds, in the outer darkness —
the brisk tap, tap of Newman's two sticks as he
stumped up the flagged garden-path, and the lilt of a
music-hall song of the day, knowing, leering and cruel :
" They may wriggle, they may struggle, but I've got 'em in my
The tune gave a stagger, was lost for a few bars, and
then shambled on —
" — I shall have 'em by and by."
The tapping stopped; in the stillness Aubrey could
hear a hand wandering, exploring, over the outside of
the door, seeking the latch. Holding his breath,
Aubrey listened, and sickening thoughts came. Cruel,
gross hand, some time it might wander like that, in
the dark, besotted, cunning, deflowering, greedy, over
THE MORNING'S WAR 293
the face of a bride, over — oh, hell! Imagination, too,
had turned fluent; it raced, to no good, like a screw
out of water; its foul visions were physical, full, cir-
cumstantial; nothing would stop them — except, per-
haps, action. He jumped up and opened the
Newman stood black against a young moonrise, a
figure precariously planted now that the door, its
third prop, was withdrawn. Such was the tea of
Nick-Ross. But Newman carried liquor with skill
and a will. His tongue was almost itself; when he
sat, his legs need not count; the one Bacchic influence
not to be mastered was preoccupation, whole-souled
and indignant, with a small wrong.
" 'Straor'n'ry chap, Nick-Ross!' he opened on it
at once. " Been out to tea with Nick-Ross. Thought
I'd ask his advice. Thought Nick was a man of the
world. Would you b'lieve it — hadn't a needle in the
whole house? Man o' th' world!"
For a moment or two he scorned and mourned
silently. Then, "You got a needle, now?" Aubrey
was suddenly asked, as if to give the world one more
chance of amending itself.
"Pin, even? Not a tin pin, mind. Gol', silver,
some presh's metal ? "
Newman stared, at the other's curtness. ' Can't be
plagued, can't you, t'help fellow-creature? Oh, you're
all right. Your ship's come in. Y\ nat's human suf-
ferin' to you now you're famous and got pots of
294 THE MORNING'S WAR
money, and boards np with ' House Full ' all over the
place! No symp'thy, no 'maj 'nation — that's what's
th' matter 'th you — don't puchself in's place." New-
man was fumblingly loosening his left cuff. " What'd
you say " — he rolled back coat and shirt sleeve, ex-
posing a large " I " tattooed on that forearm — " what'd
you say to having a blame thing like that on your arm,
and you going courting? ' : Newman's aggrieved tone
seemed to put Heaven itself in the dock, with Aubrey.
'' And just when you're moving the one letter on and
wanting a ' J,' next thing in your game."
" Goo' strong un too. Just when you're pressing
the beauty, hitch up your cuff a bit, show her the one
loved letter, an' blushin'ly own your folly. ' You —
that is. Been done two years.' I tell you it fetches
'em — small things like that. Tact — sort o' chivalry.
Understan' now? "
"What?" Newman had said "J." "J!"
That this ' I ' has bloomin' well got to turn into
'How?' : It was not a question really; more like
an outstretched arm, or raised stick, to keep an alight-
ing vulture off for a moment more from the eyes of
one lying disabled.
' How? Grow a tail. Don' tadpoles do it? Drop
'em too, when they're done with; sensible beasts.
Something to last a fair fortnight — that's all I want.
No more everlasting debentures for me, way these
professionals let you in when they tattoo you — fast
dyes and every blame hole they prick like the shaft of
THE MORNINGS WAR 295
a pit. No, a nice drop of ink, a clean needle an' —
got s' much's a penknife?"
Newman drunkenly pondered his way to a chuckling
guffaw. " Gorlummy, I might 've borrowed a needle
from Miss June herself."
"She!" He had known it was coming and yet
had refused to know, or to figure June pestered by
Newman stared. "What's wrong with her?' :
Newman seemed quite anxious. ' Looks all right,
doesn't she? Quite decent people — father's side any-
how? 'Course I know," he added concessively, " she's
got her head bunged up with religion — philanthropy,
that sort of muck — but it'll come right when a chap
puts it straight to her — chap with a right to. Why,
it's the making of any woman that's all right at bot-
tom — marriage is." Reassurance came in like a glow
with the bracing exercise of shedding this wisdom.
Newman's eyes ranged round him complacently.
" Lummy, I've got it," he suddenly said, and strug-
gled on to his feet. The razor-bright point of the
arrow had caught the agitated gleam of a candle
blown askew, perhaps by the breath of this elo-
Aubrey watched silently, not choosing between
silence and speech, nor feeling that there was a choice.
He looked on as you look at history when it is writ-
ten, at some old working of fate, or the linked proc-
esses of suns, far out of your governance.
296 THE MORNING'S WAR
'Kim up." Newman lifted the arrow. "What-
ever dam surgeon has been in the place? Praise be!
'Sprov'dence; same old Godsprov'dence. Ram in the
bushes f'r Abr'am; food for young ravens; catering
done for sparrows; lancets free f'r any one wants
'em." He held the steel to the light with a tipsy aping
of circumspection and once more certified " 'Sprov'-
Newman had often said to friends, " When I see a
thing has got to be done, I do it." Laying the arrow
down on the table, its point punctiliously clear of all
possible dirt, the man of action took off his coat and
turned back his left sleeve, right to the elbow.
The " I " stood out monumental, blue-black on the
white expanse of the plump cripple's womanish arm.
To Newman himself, or the maundering liquor in him,
the letter seemed, as monuments do, to spring half-
recollections that had to be paused for and made clear
and whole. "Ivy — that's it. Rum little girl, Ivy;
long hair down her back. I was at Harrow then. Ivy
— a rum little beast — she went it blind afterwards,
somebody told me. They do."
" With a start," Aubrey let go his held breath
enough to put in; his eyes had ceased from even the
common blinking of nature; they had to miss nothing
Newman had picked up the arrow. He maundered
on, with it upheld in his right hand, his eyes still on
the " I," the remembrancer. " Weird bit of luck — it
did twice. 'Sprov'dence again. Ida — rotten name
Ida. Had her to mind some roses I grew in a little
THE MORNING'S WAR 297
garden at Kidlington — little house in the garden, of
course — my last year at Oxford — ' Ga-rrr-er ye roses
while ye may ' — decentish song she'd sing in the even-
ings — Midsu-rr-er evenings — moths coining blunder-
ing in at th' window, butting at everything. Silly rot,
really. Tebb — remember Tebb? — man we called
Splosh — took on the small holding afterwards — roses
and Ida — everything. All silly rot, if y'ask me. Gem-
married and put down the tandem, that's what I say;
go about 'n a carriage all over cushions an' tell the
man drive you dam slow, and a little brandy on the
front seat, case 'v acc'dent."
Tongue and limbs shared a finite measure of
soberness; they took turns at its use. As Newman's
voice trailed away into drivel, his right hand took a
good grasp of the arrow-. Pen-like, it impended over
the " I."
"Ink ready?" said Newman. "Oh. blast the
cuff! ' It had slipped down again till it half hid the
letter. "Prop it up, will you?' He held out the
" No." The reply was instant; it was not willed or
chosen; Aubrey himself wondered at it and at the
hoarse voice; the whole inside of his mouth must be
dry; he must have been gaping a long time at the drift
that was carrying this beast to extinction.
" Manners, m'young friend, manners," Newman
Aubrey had wet his tongue now. " Put it down,"
he commanded roughly.
Newman mimicked a nurse who must make a rude
298 THE MORNINGS WAR
child say its " Please." " PI . . ., pi . . .," he
' Put it down, blast you." Aubrey rose, furious
and red. he could not tell why. He wished Newman
dead; vermin ought to be dead; it was unreason to
keep them crawling about and stinking and stinging;
it was not fair to people; it was not loyal to June,
whom this pest was to plague. But it was like lust;
the impulse bore down all reason. He jumped up and
stood over Newman, bullying.
Newman was not a coward. And he was drunk.
He shrugged, tucked up the sleeve unhelped, and ad-
dressed himself to the work. The arrow's point
hovered over the " I," picking its first place to puncture
the skin. It had picked, but not touched it, when
Aubrey reached down, caught hold of the arrow be-
tween Newman's hand and the tip, and snatched it
away. But not easily. At the assault Newman's
fingers had tightened their grip; the smooth shaft had
slipped through Aubrey's hand till the barb checked
the slipping. The barb pierced the edge of his
clenched palm and tore its way through skin and flesh
as he dragged.
Aubrey looked at the tear, with his rage suddenly
gone. He must try to comprehend quickly, quickly;
that was all he could feel; he must comprehend the
things to be done in the hour at most, half hour per-
haps, that could now be heard running down head-
long in hurrying, creaking ticks of the farmer's cheap
clock. Had the clock bolted? Oh, no, of course, it
was his head that he had to keep.
THE MORNING'S WAR 299
Newman was spluttering, outraged. He sought an
oath big enough. " Well, I am — "
"You are. You'd not be if this — " Aubrey held
out the arrow in his whole hand. Some menial faculty
in him came to his mind's kitchen door to keep New-
man in play.
'You don't mean — !' Newman gaped at the
arrow, his pink face turning to tallow.
4 Poison : good, quick stuff — an hour or so."
'By God, what a let off! Hullo, though, it's run
into you. Suck it, man. I'll drive like hell for a
' No. He'd make the right faces — that's all — and
use up the time."
Newman calmed. 'What made you do it?' he
' The deuce knows." Aubrey had suddenly put
himself into motion, as if a thought that changed
much had occurred. He had let the arrow fall on the
table, had run for his boots and was head down, drag-
ging one on.
' If you'd told me — " The self-exculpatory im-
pulse was growing and groping in Newman. " You
just swore and grabbed at it."
'Yes, yes; most hasty," said Aubrey, knotting the
last lace. The words meant, " Oh, don't bother.
Take what you want." 'Good-night!' he called
back from the door, more friendlily.
"Going out! Where the—?"
The click of the gate at the garden's end followed
300 THE MORNING'S WAR
quick. The fellow was running. Newman flopped
into a chair, bewildered. " 'Straor'nary chap," he
mused quite aloud.
The door was flung open next moment, and Browne
plunged in, breathless. " Forgot the blamed thing,"
he panted. The arrow still lay on the table; he hur-
ried it into its case, turned the key and threw the key
over to Newman. ' Give it the German," said
Browne; " the beastly thing's his. It may be spoilt —
tell him I'm sorry — I can't wait."
He bolted out into the night again. Newman, who
had half risen, collapsed again into his chair. " Mos'
'straor'n'ry chap," he repeated, " I ever saw in my
"Has this been thus before?
And shall not thus time's eddying flight
Still with our lives our love restore
In death's despite,
And day and night yield one delight once more?"
D. G. Rossetti.
FROM the hole where the farm lay the lane ran
nearly level awhile; then it made the rest of the
rise in one sharp slope ; from its top to the End House
all would be easy. Aubrey ran hard ; the false start
had wasted a minute or more. He planned hard, as he
ran ; he would rush the slope, lest there should be any
steepness left when his legs began to give; on the flat
he might get along, even then, somehow.
As the lane rose it cut into gravel and sand — lane
and watercourse too, for three centuries' traffic and
rain. Over his head he saw on each side bare roots of
the hazel hedges that arched the way leafily, turning its
sandy trough into a tunnel, dark now, though the moon
could be seen caught in a tangle of boughs. He stum-
bled on, sweating and losing breath; each hundred
yards was great gain; five minutes more to the top of
the hill ; then another five ; that would be all. En-
chanting, the grip of clenched thighs on a slope, the
clip of the knees as they bow to take hold; always en-
chanting to him, not merely now, when he might make
302 THE MORNING'S WAR
too much of what he was losing, as people do. But
now, how enchanting! He could feel that, and smell
the hazels and sand deeply and slowly, and think about
trivial humors — how he would stagger the butler by
bursting in, hatless and hot ; and yet the whole time his
mind was on June, not thinking but just envisioning
her, sinking all sequent thought in mere ecstatic, mo-
tionless sense of the aspect, melting and kind, that he
was again free to call into her face, could he but reach
her. Death was coming, but then death was over, too,
in a way; passionate life and the passionate love of
life, which is life's heart, were astir and warm after
that Ice Age of numbness too dead to be even pain.
He was nearly up the hill now; the right and left
sky-lines of banked sand were dipping down to him,
hoisting the moon up the sky. Six yards more, and the
flat stretch would begin. But a strange thing happened.
He felt as if his body were not upright, but leant back,
at right angles to the lane's slope. Why, he might
topple backwards, he carefully thought. He forced his
head and shoulders well forward, and instantly fell on
his hands and one knee, scraping away cloth and skin.
He scrambled up, but nothing would balance now ; he
had to fall either forward or back. A field gate was
ahead on his left, six yards on, the coveted six yards.
He made a falling rush at it, threw his arms over the
top bar and hung by them rather than stood on his
So it was coming, but not sheer disablement yet.
His mind was unclouded ; more cloudless, perhaps, than
ever before; all powers were its, in new strength —
THE MORNING'S WAR 303
vision and passion and swiftly-building reason — as
though at the opened door of endless night the quick
spirit bent itself up to show what it might have done
yet in the sun. His arms were sound too, and his legs
to the knees. Walking was done with, but there was
all fours; he dropped to the ground and set off in-
stantly, scuttling on hands and knees, half in the sandy
dust and half on the wayside grass where the raw knee
flinched less. All the time he was calculating closely;
twenty more minutes at this pace should do it ; no, say
twenty-five, for his legs began to drag like a fly's that
have been in the cream. Still, his arms held out well ;
that was fine ; he shuffled on, almost elate, till a wrist
gave way and let him down, rolling first on his right
side and then on his back in the white dust. He wrig-
gled to rise, but the other arm gave, and both legs. He
tried to roll over and over, barrel-like, in the direction
he wanted to go, but he found that, even for this, live
limbs were needed, to make the trunk turn, and he was
a torso now, tied to dead weights.
He lay still in the dust, working it out. Three hun-
dred yards still to the house; two hundred and fifty
perhaps. Some one might pass in the moments left.
It would be miracle, almost; the hamlets were all
asleep; still, it was only just nine, and a moon-flooded
night ; some child might be ill and a father go that way
for the doctor. Some one might pass. But, were it a
winged Mercury, could it bring June word in time?
And would she come ? Oh, yes, she would come ; that
was safe; she had all the proud generosities. He must
be ready if any one passed; he must have his message
304. THE MORNING'S WAR
framed, and also his means to make a passer believe
that he was not drunk or an idiot, to lie in the
dirt and bid ladies come to him. That done, he
listened and listened, his ears becoming creative and
modeling dim shapes of the craved sounds of footsteps
and voices out of the chaos of infinitesimal whispers
that make up the breath of the earth in its sleep; then
back, with a rush, came the thought of his hoarded
minutes pouring themselves out to waste, and he was
convulsed with another effort to move, like a weaken-
ing horse that is lashed again after its stronger strug-
gles to move the cart have all failed. He strained till
cramp came and sweat matted his hair and made it
feel heavy; drops of sweat crawled on his face and
tickled like flies.
But the miracle happened — as if you were starving
and wished, without hope, that a gold coin might lie
in the mud at your feet — and it lay there. The spasm
was over ; the ears were again at their post, and lo !
while they had been away, sharing the body's agony,
sounds had found shape that did not need conjuring —
oncoming steps that rustled clear in the dust ; and then
breathing, shallow and quick; and another rustle,
rhythmic and, as he thought, quickening — the rub of
two parts of a dress on a woman walking and then
walking faster and then running: some country girl,
no doubt, scared at her night walk and wanting to get
it done. Would she faint when he spoke? To guard
against that waste of time he set about crooning, the
tuneless best way he could, some words of the first
song he could think of :
THE MORNING'S WAR 305
"Oh, you'll tak' the high road and I'll tak' the low road,
And I'll be in Scotland before you."
He heard her breath stop, her step check ; no cry,
though; and then she came on unfalteringly. ' Good
one ! " he thought, and hummed away :
" — me and my true love will never meet again
By the bonnie, bonnie banks of Loch Lomond."
She was near; she must see him now; he would
speak tranquilly, say he was suddenly ill, beg her to run
very fast to the End House, ask to see Miss Hather-
sage instantly, tell her —
Held down on his back he saw little but sky and
trees ; no road at all. The woman came on in shadow
at first; she heaved into sight an undelimited white-
ness, scaling the dome of his visible world as a white
cloud sails up a night sky. Then the moon fell on this
cloud, a white shaft on a white face; as she ran to the
voice and stooped down to him quickly, all of him that
had longed for her coming, his love and regret and
pity, cried out her name over and over, embracing it.
" Oh, June, June, June! "
On her knees, with one hand under his head and the
other pushing back his wet hair, she did not speak
words, and yet was not silent; a murmurous haze or
audible breath of tenderness shed itself on him. Help-
lessness made him, for that moment, hers utterly; she
had a rending joy like a mother whose wild son is
carried home to her ill and as full of needs again as
the infant she once nursed. She could not even ask
anything yet; she only sat in the dust with his head in
306 THE MORNINGS WAR
her lap, between her hands, pouring about him that
mist of caressing low sound.
" I was lying," he said; " I do love you."
" Ah ! " she said, strangely, as if she had known.
' I kept loving you more and more, all that time I
" Dear, kind one."
" We had been caught in a trap ; we had walked
right into it; we couldn't know; but it's all right now;
it's all right."
Yes, yes ! " she broke out in triumph.
' I thought about ways to get us both out of the
trap, together — to break the thing. There wasn't one
that I could see anywhere. Then I went mad and tried
just to cut you out of it, hacking you like a brute, any-
" Yes. I can't tell you it all—"
" I know it all."
' My dear love, my cousin." The shunned word
came, playful and tender. He took it in dazedly, try-
ing to grasp the changed world that it made. The dead
wall was down; it had never been there; he had lost
her for nothing; he had played traitor for nothing;
in his crazed fume at the farm he had thrown away life
for a striker's whim of not saying a plain word in time.
Oh, long list of his blindnesses!
June was speaking. " It was that letter — my Aunt
Kate's. I opened it when you were gone. Then I
guessed — no, I had a faint, sneaking hope — that this
THE MORNINGS WAR 307
might be why you were giving me up — that you wanted
to let me off, oh, my dear blind one ! Wasn't I shame-
less? — you'd kicked me away, and I let myself cling to
your boots, in my thoughts. But I couldn't go to you
and throw myself at you and say, ' I'm your cousin. I
know, but still will you take me ? ' I wasn't trying to
see you. I couldn't stay in — that was all. I wanted
to look at the house where you were, from a little way
off — there are trees on a knoll — I could not have been
seen, and then I'd have stolen away. And there were
you, coming to me, all the time, and it's all right in the
end." She was exalted; she threw up her head to
shake back a tress and he caught in her moon-filled eyes
a light wild and yet steadfast, a fit fire-signal of em-
barkation on love the adventure, the taxer of staunch-
ness, the violent rearranger of lives. So must his
mother have looked, on that other night.
She found earth again. " What a brute I am.
You're ill — you're hurt in some dreadful way — oh,
what is it?— and I doing nothing. I'll run, I'll bring
people to carry you." She moved, to rise.
He pressed his head down on her lap detainingly.
" Darling, I'm dying," he said, sorrowfully, feeling it
hard to have no arms to hold her in, while the words
She did not cry out, or flinch. All he felt was a
tightened clasp of her hands under and over his head,
as if they had felt it slipping away. She had con-
tracted a little, the whole of her body, and then be-
come taut, as does an attacked army whose outposts
draw in and stand fast.
308 THE MORNING'S WAR
He turned his head this way and that between her
hands, so as to rub against them softly, a kind of em-
brace. ' A fluke," he said, " a scratch, an accident at
the farm with that arrow."
" You didn't— !"
' No, no. I've loved living — even then ? You
understand? Newman had it. I snatched it away in
a temper and so I got scratched."
"Where? Show me, quickly."
He could not point to it; the outworks of life were
all down; only the captaining brain, cut off and in-
vested, held out still in its citadel. " Don't look for it,
June; the poison's gone far from it now; it may be
flowing into my brain or my heart ; let us love out our
minutes." He mustered the scattered parts of a
thought. " You didn't think of me the way the priest
" Oh, no, no."
" I was afraid. I thought of you at that party — the
way you looked when Mrs. Roads spoke."
" I was angry — I wasn't religious. I had been
shaken and doubting for ever so long. It made me all
the more furious when people who didn't believe were
ribald or pert — it's so holy and lovely whenever any
one does believe anything really, and stands by it.
Sometimes I wavered back, when I was tired or weak.
That morning I wrote to you — "
" Yes, my dear, dear." He did not need to recall
the words of her letter : " I prayed to Mary, Mother of
God." They had burnt into him. Without his mis-
reading of them he might not have blundered into all
THE MORNINGS WAR 309
this. "You wouldn't have minded the shame?' he
asked. " Cousin and wife of the son of a runaway
"And at Brabburn?' 1 She tenderly mocked.
Some pang traversed his body, enforcing a moment
of silence and closed eyes. She bent down, raising his
head a little. They stayed so, till her lips felt his eye-
" You kissed me," he murmured, musing in paradise.
" You fainted? You are in pain? "
" Pain ! No ! You kissed me. Isn't the mill some-
where here? ' : The mind, uneasy in its shaken house,
began to go hither and thither.
"There! There!" She lifted his head and
From the dark swell of the Hurtwood the sails rose,
dark too, against a sky white with strewn stars; the
ledge where they had first kissed was drawn black and
sharp on that ground. He was shaken; he found dying
hard, and she lost hold of her voice and tears and had
to be silent above his head, hiding a face crumpled like
a child's with pain, while the defrauded love in each of
them beat, alone and in secret, on the unhearing bars
of their cage.
So they remained, held apart by the resolution of
each not to break the strength of the other, till Aubrey
had suffered the whole of conscious death, to the last
sting it can plant in life-loving tissue. He had sunk
choking slowly through gray water that sang in the ear
and pressed in on the mouth and darkened through
dusk into night over his upturned eyes. Then all that
310 THE MORNING'S WAR
had fought and striven in him gave up, and rest came
on and on; it called, it invited, like a made bed after
nights of lying awake in day clothes; but no, it had not
a form, it was a glow, a suffusion, a luminousness that
brightened and spread; it was widening and paling
round him, but chiefly above, and he was a bubble of
air rising through gray water slowly, without effort or
will of his own, merely watching the light grow and
grow overhead as he drew to the surface and broke like
a bubble there; eyelids broke open, and June's face was
there, bent over the waters ; it filled his emerging eyes.
She had closed them, for she, too, had suffered his
death and had thought, as she drew those curtains,
could there be any mirrors so eager, ever again? And
now they were open ; they took the light ; they filled
themselves with her. She knew, without knowing
how, that he had come back with his life ; the gleam of
the salvaged treasure was in his face; and he knew too,
for the news shone in hers even before he felt in his
limbs the tingling reveille of the drugged troops of life.
Had he sweated the mortal drop out of his veins?
Had its lethal virtue gone stale? Or had some freak
of luck spiced his blood with its antidote? Or — but
what did it matter? He looked up at June. They had
come through, unbroken; they had not squared fate;
they had each kept pride clean, to bring to the other.
And no poor life was ahead; romance had begun it;
romance it would be; not the old fanfaronnading ro-
mance of the cheering lists and the sun on the plumes
— the trumpeting boy's paradise and the unassayed
girl's, but romance strung afresh to the pitch of the
THE MORNING'S WAR 311
grown strength of women and men, even of woman-
and-man, the unmanned unit, the two-chambered heart
of the race, the twin power-house of high desire and
will ; the romance of new, harder, unpraised feats to
do, of dark places to traverse without any fairy lamp
in the hand, of glamourless risks to affront, of all the
flintier flints that there were for steelier steel to strike
the old fire from.
She did not speak, nor did he, under that first rush
and oppression of instant and of waiting happiness.
Words must have been made by man for telling about
quite small delights only, and lighting the dim spaces
between people who did not know how to be friends ;
they might, with their poorness, have wronged that
morning flame of life and joy, or blurred the vision
that each lover had gained of the other's completing
Coningsby Dawson'. THE GARDEN WITHOUT WALLS
The story of a clean-souled rebel, whose Puritan conscience
was at war with his Pagan imagination ; who looked beyond
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Beulah Marie Dix's MOTHER'S SON
The story of the redemption in America of an unusually
charming German "toy soldier," who, when he ceases to
be one, faces death more than once. The author's " Betty-
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James Hopper's WHAT HAPPENED IN THE NIGHT
By one of America's foremost short-story writers. Tales
for their elders in which children appear. There is tragedy
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The further humorous adventures of " Martha By-the-Day."
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C. E. Montague'. THE MORNING'S WAR
This struggle between a devout Catholic and Pagan is not
a theological story, but one of love and often picturesque
adventure, sometimes in the Alps and at others in famished
Ireland. The ending is dramatic. $1.35 net.
Marjorie Patterson'. THE DUST OF THE ROAD
" Tony," a lovable young American enthusiast, invades
England and in a Shakespearian Touring Company (possibly
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without ever losing her sense of humor or her dog, the
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Julien Benda's THE YOKE OF PITY
The author grips and never lets go of the single theme
(which presents itself more or less acutely to many people) —
the duel between a passionate devotion to a career and the
claims of love, pity, and domestic responsibility.
"The novel of the winter in Paris. Certainly the novel of the year —
the book which everyone reads and discusses." — The London Times.
Victor L. Whitechurch's A DOWNLAND CORNER
By the author of The Canon in Residence.
"One of those delightful studies in quaintness which we take to heart
and carry in the pocket," — New York Times. $1.20 net.
H. H. Bashford's PITY THE POOR BLIND
The story of a young English couple and an Anglican priest.
" This novel, whose title is purely metaphorical, has an uncommon
literary quality and interest . . . its appeal, save to those who also
'having eyes see not,' must be as compelling as its theme is original."
— Boston Transcript. $1.35 net.
John Matter's THREE FARMS
An "adventure in contentment" in France, Northwestern
Canada and Indiana.
"A rare combination of philosophy and humor. The most remarkable
part of this book is the wonderful atmosphere of content which radiates
from it." — Boston Transcript. $1.20 net.
Dorothy Canfield's THE SQUIRREL-CAGE
A very human story of the struggle of an American wife
and mother to call her soul her own. 4th printing. Illustrated
by J. A. Williams.
"One has no hesitation in classing The Squirrel Cage with the best
American fiction of this or any season." — Chicago Record-Herald. $1.35
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UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA LIBRARY
Return to desk from which borrowed.
This book is DUE on the last date stamped below.
MOV 18 1947
APR 19 1961
THE UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA LIBRARY
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