The Inheritors
by Joseph Conrad
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"Like a love-sick boy—like a damn love-sick boy," I growled at myself. My sense of humour was returning to me. There began a pilgrimage in search of companionship.

London was a desert more solitary than was believable. On those brilliant summer evenings the streets were crowded, were alive, bustled with the chitter-chatter of footsteps, with the chitter-chatter of voices, of laughter.

It was impossible to walk, impossible to do more than tread on one's own toes; one was almost blinded by the constant passing of faces. It was like being in a wheat-field with one's eyes on a level with the indistinguishable ears. One was alone in one's intense contempt for all these faces, all these contented faces; one towered intellectually above them; one towered into regions of rarefaction. And down below they enjoyed themselves. One understood life better; they better how to live. That struck me then—in Oxford Street. There was the intense good-humour, the absolute disregard of the minor inconveniences, of the inconveniences of a crowd, of the ignominy of being one of a crowd. There was the intense poetry of the soft light, the poetry of the summer-night coolness, and they understood how to enjoy it. I turned up an ancient court near Bedford Row.

"In the name of God," I said, "I will enjoy ..." and I did. The poetry of those old deserted quarters came suddenly home to me—all the little commonplace thoughts; all the commonplace associations of Georgian London. For the time I was done with the meanings of things.

I was seeking Lea—he was not at home. The quarter was honeycombed with the homes of people one knows; of people one used to know, excellent young men who wrote for the papers, who sub-edited papers, who designed posters, who were always just the same. One forgot them for a year or two, one came across them again and found them just the same—still writing for the same papers, still sub-editing the same papers, designing the same posters. I was in the mood to rediscover them in the privacies of their hearths, with the same excellent wives making fair copies of the same manuscripts, with the same gaiety of the same indifferent whiskey, brown or pale or suspicious-looking, in heavy, square, cut-glass stoppered decanters, and with the same indifferent Virginian tobacco at the same level in the same jars.

I was in the mood for this stability, for the excellent household article that was their view of life and literature. I wanted to see it again, to hear again how it was filling the unvarying, allotted columns of the daily, the weekly, or the monthly journals. I wanted to breathe again this mild atmosphere where there are no longer hopes or fears. But, alas!...

I rang bell after bell of that gloomy central London district. You know what happens. One pulls the knob under the name of the person one seeks—pulls it three, or, it may be, four times in vain. One rings the housekeeper's bell; it reverberates, growing fainter and fainter, gradually stifled by a cavernous subterranean atmosphere. After an age a head peeps round the opening door, the head of a hopeless anachronism, the head of a widow of early Victorian merit, or of an orphan of incredible age. One asks for So-and-so—he's out; for Williams—he's expecting an increase of family, and has gone into the country with madame. And Waring? Oh, he's gone no one knows where, and Johnson who used to live at Number 44 only comes up to town on Tuesdays now. I exhausted the possibilities of that part of Bloomsbury, the possibilities of variety in the types of housekeepers. The rest of London divided itself into bands—into zones. Between here and Kensington the people that I knew could not be called on after dinner, those who lived at Chiswick and beyond were hyperborean—one was bound by the exigencies of time. It was ten o'clock as I stood reflecting on a doorstep—on Johnson's doorstep. I must see somebody, must talk to somebody, before I went to bed in the cheerless room at the club. It was true I might find a political stalwart in the smoking-room—but that was a last resort, a desperate and ignominious pis aller.

There was Fox, I should find him at the office. But it needed a change of tone before I could contemplate with equanimity the meeting of that individual. I had been preparing myself to confront all the ethically excellent young men and Fox was, ethically speaking, far from excellent, middle-aged, rubicund, leery—a free lance of genius. I made the necessary change in my tone of mind and ran him to earth.

The Watteau room was further enlivened by the introduction of a scarlet plush couch of sumptuous design. By its side stood a couple of electric lights. The virulent green of their shades made the colours of the be-shepherded wall-panels appear almost unearthly, and threw impossible shadows on the deal partition. Round the couch stood chairs with piles of papers neatly arranged on them; round it, on the floor, were more papers lying like the leaves of autumn that one sings of. On it lay Fox, enveloped in a Shetland shawl—a good shawl that was the only honest piece of workmanship in the torn-tawdry place. Fox was as rubicund as ever, but his features were noticeably peaked and there were heavy lines under his eyes—lines cast into deep shadow by the light by which he was reading. I entered unannounced, and was greeted by an indifferent upward glance that changed into one of something like pleasure as he made out my features in the dim light.

"Hullo, you old country hawbuck," he said, with spasmodic jocularity; "I'm uncommon glad to see you." He came to a jerky close, with an indrawing of his breath. "I'm about done," he went on. "Same old thing—sciatica. Took me just after I got here this afternoon; sent out one of the messengers to buy me a sofa, and here I've been ever since. Well, and what's brought you up—don't answer, I know all about it. I've got to keep on talking until this particular spasm's over, or else I shall scream and disturb the flow of Soane's leader. Well, and now you've come, you'll stop and help me to put the Hour to bed, won't you? And then you can come and put me to bed."

He went on talking at high pressure, exaggerating his expressions, heightening his humorous touches with punctuations of rather wild laughter. At last he came to a stop with a half suppressed "Ah!" and a long indrawing of the breath.

"That's over," he said. "Give me a drop of brandy—there's a good fellow." I gave him his nip. Then I explained to him that I couldn't work for the Hour; that I wasn't on terms with de Mersch.

"Been dropping money over him?" he asked, cheerfully. I explained a little more—that there was a lady.

"Oh, it's that," Fox said. "The man is a fool ... But anyhow Mersch don't count for much in this particular show. He's no money in it even, so you may put your pride in your pocket, or wherever you keep it. It's all right. Straight. He's only the small change."

"But," I said, "everyone says; you said yourself...."

"To be sure," he answered. "But you don't think that I play second fiddle to a bounder of that calibre. Not really?"

He looked at me with a certain seriousness. I remembered, as I had remembered once before, that Fox was a personality—a power. I had never realised till then how entirely—fundamentally—different he was from any other man that I knew. He was surprising enough to have belonged to another race. He looked at me, not as if he cared whether I gave him his due or no, but as if he were astonished at my want of perception of the fact. He let his towzled head fall back upon the plush cushions. "You might kick him from here to Greenland for me," he said; "I wouldn't weep. It suits me to hold him up, and a kicking might restore his equilibrium. I'm sick of him—I've told him so. I knew there was a woman. But don't you worry; I'm the man here."

"If that's the case ..." I said.

"Oh, that's it," he answered.

I helped him to put the paper to bed; took some of the work off his hands. It was all part of the getting back to life; of the resuming of rusty armour; and I wanted to pass the night. I was not unused to it, as it happened. Fox had had several of these fits during my year, and during most of them I had helped him through the night; once or twice for three on end. Once I had had entire control for a matter of five nights. But they gave me a new idea of Fox, those two or three weird hours that night. It was as if I had never seen him before. The attacks grew more virulent as the night advanced. He groaned and raved, and said things—oh, the most astounding things in gibberish that upset one's nerves and everything else. At the height he sang hymns, and then, as the fits passed, relapsed into incredible clear-headedness. It gave me, I say, a new idea of Fox. It was as if, for all the time I had known him, he had been playing a part, and that only now, in the delirium of his pain, in the madness into which he drank himself, were fragments of the real man thrown to the surface. I grew, at last, almost afraid to be alone with him in the dead small hours of the morning, and longed for the time when I could go to bed among the uninspiring, marble-topped furniture of my club.


At noon of the next day I gave Fox his look in at his own flat. He was stretched upon a sofa—it was evident that I was to take such of his duties as were takeable. He greeted me with words to that effect.

"Don't go filling the paper with your unbreeched geniuses," he said, genially, "and don't overwork yourself. There's really nothing to do, but you're being there will keep that little beast Evans from getting too cock-a-hoop. He'd like to jerk me out altogether; thinks they'd get on just as well without me."

I expressed in my manner general contempt for Evans, and was taking my leave.

"Oh, and—" Fox called after me. I turned back. "The Greenland mail ought to be in to-day. If Callan's contrived to get his flood-gates open, run his stuff in, there's a good chap. It's a feature and all that, you know."

"I suppose Soane's to have a look at it," I asked.

"Oh, yes," he answered; "but tell him to keep strictly to old Cal's lines—rub that into him. If he were to get drunk and run in some of his own tips it'd be awkward. People are expecting Cal's stuff. Tell you what: you take him out to lunch, eh? Keep an eye on the supplies, and ram it into him that he's got to stick to Cal's line of argument."

"Soane's as bad as ever, then?" I asked.

"Oh," Fox answered, "he'll be all right for the stuff if you get that one idea into him." A prolonged and acute fit of pain seized him. I fetched his man and left him to his rest.

At the office of the Hour I was greeted by the handing to me of a proof of Callan's manuscript. Evans, the man across the screen, was the immediate agent.

"I suppose it's got to go in, so I had it set up," he said.

"Oh, of course it's got to go in," I answered. "It's to go to Soane first, though."

"Soane's not here yet," he answered. I noted the tone of sub-acid pleasure in his voice. Evans would have enjoyed a fiasco.

"Oh, well," I answered, nonchalantly, "there's plenty of time. You allow space on those lines. I'll send round to hunt Soane up."

I felt called to be upon my mettle. I didn't much care about the paper, but I had a definite antipathy to being done by Evans—by a mad Welshman in a stubborn fit. I knew what was going to happen; knew that Evans would feign inconceivable stupidity, the sort of black stupidity that is at command of individuals of his primitive race. I was in for a day of petty worries. In the circumstances it was a thing to be thankful for; it dragged my mind away from larger issues. One has no time for brooding when one is driving a horse in a jibbing fit.

Evans was grimly conscious that I was moderately ignorant of technical details; he kept them well before my eyes all day long.

At odd moments I tried to read Callan's article. It was impossible. It opened with a description of the squalor of the Greenlander's life, and contained tawdry passages of local colour.

I knew what was coming. This was the view of the Greenlanders of pre-Merschian Greenland, elaborated, after the manner of Callan—the Special Commissioner—so as to bring out the glory and virtue of the work of regeneration. Then in a gush of superlatives the work itself would be described. I knew quite well what was coming, and was temperamentally unable to read more than the first ten lines.

Everything was going wrong. The printers developed one of their sudden crazes for asking idiotic questions. Their messengers came to Evans, Evans sent them round the pitch-pine screen to me. "Mr. Jackson wants to know——"

The fourth of the messengers that I had despatched to Soane returned with the news that Soane would arrive at half-past nine. I sent out in search of the strongest coffee that the city afforded. Soane arrived. He had been ill, he said, very ill. He desired to be fortified with champagne. I produced the coffee.

Soane was the son of an Irish peer. He had magnificent features—a little blurred nowadays—and a remainder of the grand manner. His nose was a marvel of classic workmanship, but the floods of time had reddened and speckled it—not offensively, but ironically; his hair was turning grey, his eyes were bloodshot, his heavy moustache rather ragged. He inspired one with the respect that one feels for a man who has lived and does not care a curse. He had a weird intermittent genius that made it worth Fox's while to put up with his lapses and his brutal snubs.

I produced the coffee and pointed to the sofa of the night before.

"Damn it," he said, "I'm ill, I tell you; I want ..."

"Exactly!" I cut in. "You want a rest, old fellow. Here's Cal's article. We want something special about it. If you don't feel up to it I'll send round to Jenkins."

"Damn Jenkins," he said; "I'm up to it."

"You understand," I said, "you're to write strictly on Callan's lines. Don't insert any information from extraneous sources. And make it as slashing as you like—on those lines."

He grunted in acquiescence. I left him lying on the sofa, drinking the coffee. I had tenderly arranged the lights for him as Fox had arranged them the night before. As I went out to get my dinner I was comfortably aware of him, holding the slips close to his muddled eyes and philosophically damning the nature of things.

When I returned, Soane, from his sofa, said something that I did not catch—something about Callan and his article.

"Oh, for God's sake," I answered, "don't worry me. Have some more coffee and stick to Cal's line of argument. That's what Fox said. I'm not responsible."

"Deuced queer," Soane muttered. He began to scribble with a pencil. From the tone of his voice I knew that he had reached the precise stage at which something brilliant—the real thing of its kind—might be expected.

Very late Soane finished his leader. He looked up as he wrote the last word.

"I've got it written," he said. "But ... I say, what the deuce is up? It's like being a tall clock with the mainspring breaking, this."

I rang the bell for someone to take the copy down.

"Your metaphor's too much for me, Soane," I said.

"It's appropriate all the way along," he maintained, "if you call me a mainspring. I've been wound up and wound up to write old de Mersch and his Greenland up—and it's been a tight wind, these days, I tell you. Then all of a sudden ..."

A boy appeared and carried off the copy.

"All of a sudden," Soane resumed, "something gives—I suppose something's given—and there's a whirr-rr-rr and the hands fly backwards and old de Mersch and Greenland bump to the bottom, like the weights."

The boom of the great presses was rattling the window frames. Soane got up and walked toward one of the cupboards.

"Dry work," he said; "but the simile's just, isn't it?"

I gave one swift step toward the bell-button beside the desk. The proof of Callan's article, from which Soane had been writing, lay a crumpled white streamer on the brown wood of Fox's desk. I made toward it. As I stretched out my hand the solution slipped into my mind, coming with no more noise than that of a bullet; impinging with all the shock and remaining with all the pain. I had remembered the morning, over there in Paris, when she had told me that she had invited one of de Mersch's lieutenants to betray him by not concealing from Callan the real horrors of the Systeme Groenlandais—flogged, butchered, miserable natives, the famines, the vices, diseases, and the crimes. There came suddenly before my eyes the tall narrow room in my aunt's house, the opening of the door and her entry, followed by that of the woebegone governor of a province—the man who was to show Callan things—with his grating "Cest entendu ..."

I remembered the scene distinctly; her words; her looks; my utter unbelief. I remembered, too, that it had not saved me from a momentary sense of revolt against that inflexible intention of a treachery which was to be another step toward the inheritance of the earth. I had rejected the very idea, and here it had come; it was confronting me with all its meaning and consequences. Callan had been shown things he had not been meant to see, and had written the truth as he had seen it. His article was a small thing in itself, but he had been sent out there with tremendous flourishes of de Mersch's trumpets. He was the man who could be believed. De Mersch's supporters had practically said: "If he condemns us we are indeed damned." And now that the condemnation had come, it meant ruin, as it seemed to me, for everybody I had known, worked for, seen, or heard of, during the last year of my life. It was ruin for Fox, for Churchill, for the ministers, and for the men who talk in railway carriages, for shopkeepers and for the government; it was a menace to the institutions which hold us to the past, that are our guarantees for the future. The safety of everything one respected and believed in was involved in the disclosure of an atrocious fraud, and the disclosure was in my hands. For that night I had the power of the press in my keeping. People were waiting for this pronouncement. De Mersch's last card was his philanthropy; his model state and his happy natives.

The drone of the presses made the floor under my feet quiver, and the whole building vibrated as if the earth itself had trembled. I was alone with my knowledge. Did she know; had she put the power in my hand? But I was alone, and I was free.

I took up the proof and began to read, slanting the page to the fall of the light. It was a phrenetic indictment, but under the paltry rhetoric of the man there was genuine indignation and pain. There were revolting details of cruelty to the miserable, helpless, and defenceless; there were greed, and self-seeking, stripped naked; but more revolting to see without a mask was that falsehood which had been hiding under the words that for ages had spurred men to noble deeds, to self-sacrifice, to heroism. What was appalling was the sudden perception that all the traditional ideals of honour, glory, conscience, had been committed to the upholding of a gigantic and atrocious fraud. The falsehood had spread stealthily, had eaten into the very heart of creeds and convictions that we lean upon on our passage between the past and the future. The old order of things had to live or perish with a lie. I saw all this with the intensity and clearness of a revelation; I saw it as though I had been asleep through a year of work and dreams, and had awakened to the truth. I saw it all; I saw her intention. What was I to do?

Without my marking its approach emotion was upon me. The fingers that held up the extended slips tattooed one on another through its negligible thickness.

"Pretty thick that," Soane said. He was looking back at me from the cupboard he had opened. "I've rubbed it in, too ... there'll be hats on the green to-morrow." He had his head inside the cupboard, and his voice came to me hollowly. He extracted a large bottle with a gilt-foiled neck.

"Won't it upset the apple cart to-morrow," he said, very loudly; "won't it?"

His voice acted on me as the slight shake upon a phial full of waiting chemicals; crystallised them suddenly with a little click. Everything suddenly grew very clear to me. I suddenly understood that all the tortuous intrigue hinged upon what I did in the next few minutes. It rested with me now to stretch out my hand to that button in the wall or to let the whole world—"the ... the probity ... that sort of thing," she had said—fall to pieces. The drone of the presses continued to make itself felt like the quiver of a suppressed emotion. I might stop them or I might not. It rested with me.

Everybody was in my hands; they were quite small. If I let the thing go on, they would be done for utterly, and the new era would begin.

Soane had got hold of a couple of long-stalked glasses. They clinked together whilst he searched the cupboard for something.

"Eh, what?" he said. "It is pretty strong, isn't it? Ought to shake out some of the supporters, eh? Bill comes on to-morrow ... do for that, I should think." He wanted a corkscrew very badly.

But that was precisely it—it would "shake out some of the supporters," and give Gurnard his patent excuse. Churchill, I knew, would stick to his line, the saner policy. But so many of the men who had stuck to Churchill would fall away now, and Gurnard, of course, would lead them to his own triumph.

It was a criminal verdict. Callan had gone out as a commissioner—with a good deal of drum-beating. And this was his report, this shriek. If it sounded across the house-tops—if I let it—good-by to the saner policy and to Churchill. It did not make any difference that Churchill's was the saner policy, because there was no one in the nation sane enough to see it. They wanted purity in high places, and here was a definite, criminal indictment against de Mersch. And de Mersch would—in a manner of speaking, have to be lynched, policy or no policy.

She wanted this, and in all the earth she was the only desirable thing. If I thwarted her—she would ... what would she do now? I looked at Soane.

"What would happen if I stopped the presses?" I asked. Soane was twisting his corkscrew in the wire of the champagne bottle.

It was fatal; I could see nothing on earth but her. What else was there in the world. Wine? The light of the sun? The wind on the heath? Honour! My God, what was honour to me if I could see nothing but her on earth? Would honour or wine or sun or wind ever give me what she could give? Let them go.

"What would happen if what?" Soane grumbled, "D—n this wire."

"Oh, I was thinking about something," I answered. The wire gave with a little snap and he began to ease the cork. Was I to let the light pass me by for the sake of ... of Fox, for instance, who trusted me? Well, let Fox go. And Churchill and what Churchill stood for; the probity; the greatness and the spirit of the past from which had sprung my conscience and the consciences of the sleeping millions around me—the woman at the poultry show with her farmers and shopkeepers. Let them go too.

Soane put into my hand one of his charged glasses. He seemed to rise out of the infinite, a forgotten shape. I sat down at the desk opposite him.

"Deuced good idea," he said, suddenly, "to stop the confounded presses and spoof old Fox. He's up to some devilry. And, by Jove, I'd like to get my knife in him; Jove, I would. And then chuck up everything and leave for the Sandwich Islands. I'm sick of this life, this dog's life.... One might have made a pile though, if one'd known this smash was coming. But one can't get at the innards of things.—No such luck—no such luck, eh?" I looked at him stupidly; took in his blood-shot eyes and his ruffled grizzling hair. I wondered who he was. "Il s'agissait de...?" I seemed to be back in Paris, I couldn't think of what I had been thinking of. I drank his glass of wine and he filled me another. I drank that too.

Ah yes—even then the thing wasn't settled, even now that I had recognized that Fox and the others were of no account ... What remained was to prove to her that I wasn't a mere chattel, a piece in the game. I was at the very heart of the thing. After all, it was chance that had put me there, the blind chance of all the little things that lead in the inevitable, the future. If, now, I thwarted her, she would ... what would she do? She would have to begin all over again. She wouldn't want to be revenged; she wasn't revengeful. But how if she would never look upon me again?

The thing had reduced itself to a mere matter of policy. Or was it passion?

A clatter of the wheels of heavy carts and of the hoofs of heavy horses on granite struck like hammer blows on my ears, coming from the well of the court-yard below. Soane had finished his bottle and was walking to the cupboard. He paused at the window and stood looking down.

"Strong beggars, those porters," he said; "I couldn't carry that weight of paper—not with my rot on it, let alone Callan's. You'd think it would break down the carts."

I understood that they were loading the carts for the newspaper mails. There was still time to stop them. I got up and went toward the window, very swiftly. I was going to call to them to stop loading. I threw the casement open.

* * * * *

Of course, I did not stop them. The solution flashed on me with the breath of the raw air. It was ridiculously simple. If I thwarted her, well, she would respect me. But her business in life was the inheritance of the earth, and, however much she might respect me—or by so much the more—she would recognise that I was a force to deflect her from the right line—"a disease for me," she had said.

"What I have to do," I said, "is to show her that ... that I had her in my hands and that I co-operated loyally."

The thing was so simple that I triumphed; triumphed with the full glow of wine, triumphed looking down into that murky court-yard where the lanthorns danced about in the rays of a great arc lamp. The gilt letters scattered all over the windows blazed forth the names of Fox's innumerable ventures. Well, he ... he had been a power, but I triumphed. I had co-operated loyally with the powers of the future, though I wanted no share in the inheritance of the earth. Only, I was going to push into the future. One of the great carts got into motion amidst a shower of sounds that whirled upward round and round the well. The black hood swayed like the shoulders of an elephant as it passed beneath my feet under the arch. It disappeared—it was co-operating too; in a few hours people at the other end of the country—of the world—would be raising their hands. Oh, yes, it was co-operating loyally.

I closed the window. Soane was holding a champagne bottle in one hand. In the other he had a paper knife of Fox's—a metal thing, a Japanese dagger or a Deccan knife. He sliced the neck off the bottle.

"Thought you were going to throw yourself out," he said; "I wouldn't stop you. I'm sick of it ... sick."

"Look at this ... to-night ... this infernal trick of Fox's.... And I helped too.... Why?... I must eat." He paused "... and drink," he added. "But there is starvation for no end of fools in this little move. A few will be losing their good names too.... I don't care, I'm off.... By-the-bye: What is he doing it for? Money? Funk?—You ought to know. You must be in it too. It's not hunger with you. Wonderful what people will do to keep their pet vice going.... Eh?" He swayed a little. "You don't drink—what's your pet vice?"

He looked at me very defiantly, clutching the neck of the empty bottle. His drunken and overbearing glare seemed to force upon me a complicity in his squalid bargain with life, rewarded by a squalid freedom. He was pitiful and odious to my eyes; and somehow in a moment he appeared menacing.

"You can't frighten me," I said, in response to the strange fear he had inspired. "No one can frighten me now." A sense of my inaccessibility was the first taste of an achieved triumph. I had done with fear. The poor devil before me appeared infinitely remote. He was lost; but he was only one of the lost; one of those that I could see already overwhelmed by the rush from the flood-gates opened at my touch. He would be destroyed in good company; swept out of my sight together with the past they had known and with the future they had waited for. But he was odious. "I am done with you," I said.

"Eh; what?... Who wants to frighten?... I wanted to know what's your pet vice.... Won't tell? You might safely—I'm off.... No.... Want to tell me mine?... No time.... I'm off.... Ask the policeman ... crossing sweeper will do.... I'm going."

"You will have to," I said.

"What.... Dismiss me?... Throw the indispensable Soane overboard like a squeezed lemon?... Would you?... What would Fox say?... Eh? But you can't, my boy—not you. Tell you ... tell you ... can't.... Beforehand with you ... sick of it.... I'm off ... to the Islands—the Islands of the Blest.... I'm going to be an ... no, not an angel like Fox ... an ... oh, a beachcomber. Lie on white sand, in the sun ... blue sky and palm-trees—eh?... S.S. Waikato. I'm off.... Come too ... lark ... dismiss yourself out of all this. Warm sand, warm, mind you ... you won't?" He had an injured expression. "Well, I'm off. See me into the cab, old chap, you're a decent fellow after all ... not one of these beggars who would sell their best friend ... for a little money ... or some woman. Will see the last of me...."

I didn't believe he would reach the South Seas, but I went downstairs and watched him march up the street with a slight stagger under the pallid dawn. I suppose it was the lingering chill of the night that made me shiver. I felt unbounded confidence in the future, there was nothing now between her and me. The echo of my footsteps on the flagstones accompanied me, filling the empty earth with the sound of my progress.


I walked along, got to my club and upstairs into my room peaceably. A feeling of entire tranquillity had come over me. I rested after a strife which had issued in a victory whose meaning was too great to comprehend and enjoy at once. I only knew that it was great because there seemed nothing more left to do. Everything reposed within me—even conscience, even memory, reposed as in death. I had risen above them, and my thoughts moved serenely as in a new light, as men move in sunshine above the graves of the forgotten dead. I felt like a man at the beginning of a long holiday—an indefinite space of idleness with some great felicity—a felicity too great for words, too great for joy—at the end. Everything was delicious and vague; there were no shapes, no persons. Names flitted through my mind—Fox, Churchill, my aunt; but they were living people seen from above, flitting in the dusk, without individuality; things that moved below me in a valley from which I had emerged. I must have been dreaming of them.

I know I dreamed of her. She alone was distinct among these shapes. She appeared dazzling; resplendent with a splendid calmness, and I braced myself to the shock of love, the love I had known, that all men had known; but greater, transcendental, almost terrible, a fit reward for the sacrifice of a whole past. Suddenly she spoke. I heard a sound like the rustling of a wind through trees, and I felt the shock of an unknown emotion made up of fear and of enthusiasm, as though she had been not a woman but only a voice crying strange, unknown words in inspiring tones, promising and cruel, without any passion of love or hate. I listened. It was like the wind in the trees of a little wood. No hate ... no love. No love. There was a crash as of a falling temple. I was borne to the earth, overwhelmed, crushed by an immensity of ruin and of sorrow. I opened my eyes and saw the sun shining through the window-blinds.

I seem to remember I was surprised at it. I don't know why. Perhaps the lingering effect of the ruin in the dream, which had involved sunshine itself. I liked it though, and lay for a time enjoying the—what shall I say?—usualness of it. The sunshine of yesterday—of to-morrow. It occurred to me that the morning must be far advanced, and I got up briskly, as a man rises to his work. But as soon as I got on my legs I felt as if I had already over-worked myself. In reality there was nothing to do. All my muscles twitched with fatigue. I had experienced the same sensations once after an hour's desperate swimming to save myself from being carried out to sea by the tide.

No. There was nothing to do. I descended the staircase, and an utter sense of aimlessness drove me out through the big doors, which swung behind me without noise. I turned toward the river, and on the broad embankment the sunshine enveloped me, friendly, familiar, and warm like the care of an old friend. A black dumb barge drifted, clumsy and empty, and the solitary man in it wrestled with the heavy sweep, straining his arms, throwing his face up to the sky at every effort. He knew what he was doing, though it was the river that did his work for him.

His exertions impressed me with the idea that I too had something to do. Certainly I had. One always has. Somehow I could not remember. It was intolerable, and even alarming, this blank, this emptiness of the many hours before night came again, till suddenly, it dawned upon me I had to make some extracts in the British Museum for our "Cromwell." Our Cromwell. There was no Cromwell; he had lived, had worked for the future—and now he had ceased to exist. His future—our past, had come to an end. The barge with the man still straining at the oar had gone out of sight under the arch of the bridge, as through a gate into another world. A bizarre sense of solitude stole upon me, and I turned my back upon the river as empty as my day. Hansoms, broughams, streamed with a continuous muffled roll of wheels and a beat of hoofs. A big dray put in a note of thunder and a clank of chains. I found myself curiously unable to understand what possible purpose remained to keep them in motion. The past that had made them had come to an end, and their future had been devoured by a new conception. And what of Churchill? He, too, had worked for the future; he would live on, but he had already ceased to exist. I had evoked him in this poignant thought and he came not alone. He came with a train of all the vanquished in this stealthy, unseen contest for an immense stake in which I was one of the victors. They crowded upon me. I saw Fox, Polehampton, de Mersch himself, crowds of figures without a name, women with whom I had fancied myself in love, men I had shaken by the hand, Lea's reproachful, ironical face. They were near; near enough to touch; nearer. I did not only see them, I absolutely felt them all. Their tumultuous and silent stir seemed to raise a tumult in my breast.

I sprang suddenly to my feet—a sensation that I had had before, that was not new to me, a remembered fear, had me fast; a remembered voice seemed to speak clearly incomprehensible words that had moved me before. The sheer faces of the enormous buildings near at hand seemed to topple forwards like cliffs in an earthquake, and for an instant I saw beyond them into unknown depths that I had seen into before. It was as if the shadow of annihilation had passed over them beneath the sunshine. Then they returned to rest; motionless, but with a changed aspect.

"This is too absurd," I said to myself. "I am not well." I was certainly unfit for any sort of work. "But I must get through the day somehow." To-morrow ... to-morrow.... I had a pale vision of her face as it had appeared to me at sunset on the first day I had met her.

I went back to my club—to lunch, of course. I had no appetite, but I was tormented by the idea of an interminable afternoon before me. I sat idly for a long time. Behind my back two men were talking.

"Churchill ... oh, no better than the rest. He only wants to be found out. If I've any nose for that sort of thing, there's something in the air. It's absurd to be told that he knew nothing about it.... You've seen the Hour?" I got up to go away, but suddenly found myself standing by their table.

"You are unjust," I said. They looked up at me together with an immense surprise. I didn't know them and I passed on. But I heard one of them ask:

"Who's that fellow?" ...

"Oh—Etchingham Granger...."

"Is he queer?" the other postulated.

I went slowly down the great staircase. A knot of men was huddled round the tape machine; others came, half trotting, half walking, to peer over heads, under arm-pits.

"What's the matter with that thing?" I asked of one of them.

"Oh, Grogram's up," he said, and passed me. Someone from a point of vantage read out:

"The Leader of the House (Sir C. Grogram, Devonport) said that...." The words came haltingly to my ears as the man's voice followed the jerks of the little instrument "... the Government obviously could not ... alter its policy at ... eleventh hour ... at dictates of ... quite irresponsible person in one of ... the daily ... papers."

I was wondering whether it was Soane or Callan who was poor old Grogram's "quite irresponsible person," when I caught the sound of Gurnard's name. I turned irritably away. I didn't want to hear that fool read out the words of that.... It was like the warning croak of a raven in an old ballad.

I began desultorily to descend to the smoking-room. In the Cimmerian gloom of the stairway the voice of a pursuer hailed me.

"I say, Granger! I say, Granger!"

I looked back. The man was one of the rats of the lower journalism, large-boned, rubicund, asthmatic; a mass of flesh that might, to the advantage of his country and himself, have served as a cavalry trooper. He puffed stertorously down towards me.

"I say, I say," his breath came rattling and wheezing. "What's up at the Hour?"

"I'm sure I don't know," I answered curtly.

"They said you took it yesterday. You've been playing the very devil, haven't you? But I suppose it was not off your own bat?"

"Oh, I never play off my own bat," I answered.

"Of course I don't want to intrude," he said again. In the gloom I was beginning to discern the workings of the tortured apoplectic face. "But, I say, what's de Mersch's little game?"

"You'd better ask him," I answered. It was incredibly hateful, this satyr's mask in the dim light.

"He's not in London," it answered, with a wink of the creased eyelids, "but, I suppose, now, Fox and de Mersch haven't had a row, now, have they?"

I did not answer. The thing was wearily hateful, and this was only the beginning. Hundreds more would be asking the same question in a few minutes.

The head wagged on the mountainous shoulders.

"Looks fishy," he said. I recognised that, to force words from me, he was threatening a kind of blackmail. Another voice began to call from the top of the stairs—

"I say, Granger! I say, Granger...."

I pushed the folding-doors apart and went slowly down the gloomy room. I heard the doors swing again, and footsteps patter on the matting behind me. I did not turn; the man came round me and looked at my face. It was Polehampton. There were tears in his eyes.

"I say," he said, "I say, what does it mean; what does it mean?" It was very difficult for me to look at him. "I tell you...." he began again. He had the dictatorial air of a very small, quite hopeless man, a man mystified by a blow of unknown provenance. "I tell you...." he began again.

"But what has it to do with me?" I said roughly.

"Oh, but you ... you advised me to buy." He had become supplicatory. "Didn't you, now?... Didn't you.... You said, you remember ... that...." I didn't answer the man. What had I got to say? He remained looking intently at me, as if it were of the greatest moment to him that I should make the acknowledgment and share the blame—as if it would take an immense load from his shoulders. I couldn't do it; I hated him.

"Didn't you," he began categorically; "didn't you advise me to buy those debentures of de Mersch's?" I did not answer.

"What does it all mean?" he said again. "If this bill doesn't get through, I tell you I shall be ruined. And they say that Mr. Gurnard is going to smash it. They are all saying it, up there; and that you—you on the Hour ... are ... are responsible." He took out a handkerchief and began to blow his nose. I didn't say a single word.

"But what's to be done?" he started again; "what's to be done.... I tell you.... My daughter, you know, she's very brave, she said to me this morning she could work; but she couldn't, you know; she's not been brought up to that sort of thing ... not even typewriting ... and so ... we're all ruined ... everyone of us. And I've more than fifty hands, counting Mr. Lea, and they'll all have to go. It's horrible.... I trusted you, Granger, you know; I trusted you, and they say up there that you...." I turned away from him. I couldn't bear to see the bewildered fear in his eyes. "So many of us," he began again, "everyone I know.... I told them to buy and ... But you might have let us know, Granger, you might have. Think of my poor daughter."

I wanted to say something to the man, wanted to horribly; but there wasn't anything to say—not a word. I was sorry. I took up a paper that sprawled on one of the purple ottomans. I stood with my back to this haggard man and pretended to read.

I noticed incredulously that I was swaying on my legs. I looked round me. Two old men were asleep in armchairs under the gloomy windows. One had his head thrown back, the other was crumpled forward into himself; his frail, white hand just touched the floor. A little further off two young men were talking; they had the air of conspirators over their empty coffee cups.

I was conscious that Polehampton had left me, that he had gone from behind me; but I don't think I was conscious of the passage of time. God knows how long I stood there. Now and then I saw Polehampton's face before my eyes, with the panic-stricken eyes, the ruffled hair, the lines of tears seaming the cheeks, seeming to look out at me from the crumple of the paper that I held. I knew too, that there were faces like that everywhere; everywhere, faces of panic-stricken little people of no more account than the dead in graveyards, just the material to make graveyards, nothing more; little people of absolutely no use but just to suffer horribly from this blow coming upon them from nowhere. It had never occurred to me at the time that their inheritance had passed to me ... to us. And yet, I began to wonder stupidly, what was the difference between me to-day and me yesterday. There wasn't any, not any at all. Only to-day I had nothing more to do.

The doors at the end of the room flew open, as if burst by a great outcry penetrating from without, and a man appeared running up the room—one of those men who bear news eternally, who catch the distant clamour and carry it into quiet streets. Why did he disturb me? Did I want to hear his news? I wanted to think of Churchill; to think of how to explain.... The man was running up the room.

"I say ... I say, you beggars...."

I was beginning to wonder how it was that I felt such an absolute conviction of being alone, and it was then, I believe, that in this solitude that had descended upon my soul I seemed to see the shape of an approaching Nemesis. It is permitted to no man to break with his past, with the past of his kind, and to throw away the treasure of his future. I began to suspect I had gained nothing; I began to understand that even such a catastrophe was possible. I sat down in the nearest chair. Then my fear passed away. The room was filling; it hummed with excited voices. "Churchill! No better than the others," I heard somebody saying. Two men had stopped talking. They were middle-aged, a little gray, and ruddy. The face of one was angry, and of the other sad. "He wanted only to be found out. What a fall in the mud." "No matter," said the other, "one is made a little sad. He stood for everything I had been pinning my faith to." They passed on. A brazen voice bellowed in the distance. "The greatest fall of any minister that ever was." A tall, heavy journalist in a white waistcoat was the centre of a group that turned slowly upon itself, gathering bulk. "Done for—stood up to the last. I saw him get into his brougham. The police had a job.... There's quite a riot down there.... Pale as a ghost. Gurnard? Gurnard magnificent. Very cool and in his best form. Threw them over without as much as a wink. Outraged conscience speech. Magnificent. Why it's the chance of his life." ... And then for a time the voices and the faces seemed to pass away and die out. I had dropped my paper, and as I stooped to pick it up the voices returned.

—"Granger ... Etchingham Granger.... Sister is going to marry Gurnard."

I got on to my hands and knees to pick up the paper, of course. What I did not understand was where the water came from. Otherwise it was pretty clear. Somebody seemed to be in a fit. No, he wasn't drunk; look at his teeth. What did they want to look at his teeth for; was he a horse?

* * * * *

It must have been I that was in the fit. There were a lot of men round me, the front row on their knees—holding me, some of them. A man in a red coat and plush breeches—a waiter—was holding a glass of water; another had a small bottle. They were talking about me under their breaths. At one end of the horseshoe someone said:

"He's the man who...." Then he caught my eye. He lowered his voice, and the abominable whisper ran round among the heads. It was easy to guess: "the man who was got at." I was to be that for the rest of my life. I was to be famous at last. There came the desire to be out of it.

I struggled to my feet.

Someone said: "Feel better now?" I answered: "I—oh, I've got to go and see...."

It was rather difficult to speak distinctly; my tongue got in the way. But I strove to impress the fool with the idea that I had affairs that must be attended to—that I had private affairs.

"You aren't fit. Let me...."

I pushed him roughly aside—what business was it of his? I slunk hastily out of the room. The others remained. I knew what they were going to do—to talk things over, to gabble about "the man who...."

It was treacherous walking, that tessellated pavement in the hall. Someone said: "Hullo, Granger," as I passed. I took no notice.

Where did I wish to go to? There was no one who could minister to me; the whole world had resolved itself into a vast solitary city of closed doors. I had no friend—no one. But I must go somewhere, must hide somewhere, must speak to someone. I mumbled the address of Fox to a cabman. Some idea of expiation must have been in my mind; some idea of seeing the thing through, mingled with that necessity for talking to someone—anyone.

I was afraid too; not of Fox's rage; not even of anything that he could do—but of the sight of his despair. He had become a tragic figure.

I reached his flat and I had said: "It is I," and again, "It is I," and he had not stirred. He was lying on the sofa under a rug, motionless as a corpse. I had paced up and down the room. I remember that the pile of the carpet was so long that it was impossible to walk upon it easily. Everything else in the room was conceived in an exuberance of luxury that now had something of the macabre in it. It was that now—before, it had been unclean. There was a great bed whose lines suggested sinking softness, a glaring yellow satin coverlet, vast, like a sea. The walls were covered with yellow satin, the windows draped with lace worth a king's ransom, the light was softened, the air dead, the sounds hung slumbrously. And, in the centre of it, that motionless body. It stirred, pivoted on some central axis beneath the rug, and faced me sitting. There was no look of inquiry in the bloodshot eyes—they turned dully upon me, topaz-coloured in a blood-red setting. There was no expression in the suffused face.

"You want?" he said, in a voice that was august by dint of hopelessness.

"I want to explain," I said. I had no idea that this was what I had come for.

He answered only: "You!" He had the air of one speaking to something infinitely unimportant. It was as if I had no inkling of the real issue.

With a bravery of desperation I began to explain that I hadn't stumbled into the thing; that I had acted open-eyed; for my own ends ... "My own ends." I repeated it several times. I wanted him to understand, and I did explain. I kept nothing from him; neither her coming, nor her words, nor my feelings. I had gone in with my eyes open.

For the first time Fox looked at me as if I were a sentient being. "Oh, you know that much," he said listlessly.

"It's no disgrace to have gone under to her," I said; "we had to." His despair seemed to link him into one "we" with myself. I wanted to put heart into him. I don't know why.

He didn't look at me again.

"Oh, that," he said dully, "I—I understand who you mean.... If I had known before I might have done something. But she came of a higher plane." He seemed to be talking to himself. The half-forgotten horror grew large; I remembered that she had said that Fox, like herself, was one of a race apart, that was to supersede us—Dimensionists. And, when I looked at him now, it was plain to me that he was of a race different to my own, just as he had always seemed different from any other man. He had had a different tone in triumph; he was different now, in his despair. He went on: "I might have managed Gurnard alone, but I never thought of her coming. You see one does one's best, but, somehow, here one grows rather blind. I ought to have stuck to Gurnard, of course; never to have broken with him. We ought all to have kept together.—But I kept my end up as long as he was alone."

He went on talking in an expressionless monotone, perhaps to himself, perhaps to me. I listened as one listens to unmeaning sounds—to that of a distant train at night. He was looking at the floor, his mouth moving mechanically. He sat perfectly square, one hand on either knee, his back bowed out, his head drooping forward. It was as if there were no more muscular force in the whole man—as if he were one of those ancient things one sees sunning themselves on benches by the walls of workhouses.

"But," I said angrily, "it's not all over, you can make a fight for it still."

"You don't seem to understand," he answered, "it is all over—the whole thing. I ran Churchill and his conscious rectitude gang for all they were worth.... Well, I liked them, I was a fool to give way to pity.—But I did.—One grows weak among people like you. Of course I knew that their day was over.... And it's all over," he said again after a long pause.

"And what will you do?" I asked, half hysterically.

"I don't just know," he answered; "we've none of us gone under before. There haven't been enough really to clash until she came."

The dead tranquillity of his manner was overwhelming; there was nothing to be said. I was in the presence of a man who was not as I was, whose standard of values, absolute to himself, was not to be measured by any of mine.

"I suppose I shall cut my throat," he began again.

I noticed with impersonal astonishment that the length of my right side was covered with the dust of a floor. In my restless motions I came opposite the fireplace. Above it hung a number of tiny, jewelled frames, containing daubs of an astonishing lewdness. The riddle grew painful. What kind of a being could conceive this impossibly barbaric room, could enshrine those impossibly crude designs, and then fold his hands? I turned fiercely upon him. "But you are rich enough to enjoy life," I said.

"What's that?" he asked wearily.

"In the name of God," I shouted, "what do you work for—what have you been plotting and plotting for, if not to enjoy your life at the last?" He made a small indefinite motion of ignorance, as if I had propounded to him a problem that he could not solve, that he did not think worth the solving.

It came to me as the confirmation of a suspicion—that motion. They had no joy, these people who were to supersede us; their clear-sightedness did nothing more for them than just that enabling them to spread desolation among us and take our places. It had been in her manner all along, she was like Fate; like the abominable Fate that desolates the whole length of our lives; that leaves of our hopes, of our plans, nothing but a hideous jumble of fragments like those of statues, smashed by hammers; the senseless, inscrutable, joyless Fate that we hate, and that debases us forever and ever. She had been all that to me ... and to how many more?

"I used to be a decent personality," I vociferated at him. "Do you hear—decent. I could look a man in the face. And you cannot even enjoy. What do you come for? What do you live for? What is at the end of it all?"

"Ah, if I knew ..." he answered, negligently.


I wanted to see her, to finish it one way or another, and, at my aunt's house, I found her standing in an immense white room; waiting for me. There was a profusion of light. It left her absolutely shadowless, like a white statue in a gallery; inscrutable.

"I have come," I said. I had it in my mind to say: "Because there is nothing for me to do on earth." But I did not, I looked at her instead.

"You have come," she repeated. She had no expression in her voice, in her eyes. It was as if I were nothing to her; as if I were the picture of a man. Well, that was it; I was a picture, she a statue. "I did it," I said at last.

"And you want?" she asked.

"You know," I answered, "I want my...." I could not think of the word. It was either a reward or a just due. She looked at me, quite suddenly. It made an effect as if the Venus of Milo had turned its head toward me. She began to speak, as if the statue were speaking, as if a passing bell were speaking; recording a passing passionlessly.

"You have done nothing at all," she said. "Nothing."

"And yet," I said, "I was at the heart of it all."

"Nothing at all," she repeated. "You were at the heart, yes; but at the heart of a machine." Her words carried a sort of strong conviction. I seemed suddenly to see an immense machine—unconcerned, soulless, but all its parts made up of bodies of men: a great mill grinding out the dust of centuries; a great wine-press. She was continuing her speech.

"As for you—you are only a detail, like all the others; you were set in a place because you would act as you did. It was in your character. We inherit the earth and you, your day is over.... You remember that day, when I found you—the first day?"

I remembered that day. It was on the downland, under the immense sky, amid the sound of larks. She had explained the nature of things. She had talked expressionlessly in pregnant words; she was talking now. I knew no more of her to-day, after all these days, after I had given up to her my past and my future.

"You remember that day. I was looking for such a man, and I found you."

"And you ..." I said, "you have done this thing! Think of it!... I have nobody—nothing—nowhere in the world. I cannot look a man in the face, not even Churchill. I can never go to him again." I paused, expecting a sign of softening. None came. "I have parted with my past and you tell me there is no future."

"None," she echoed. Then, coldly, as a swan takes the water, she began to speak:

"Well, yes! I've hurt you. You have suffered and in your pain you think me vile, but remember that for ages the virtue of to-morrow has been the vileness of to-day. That which outstrips one, one calls vile. My virtue lies in gaining my end. Pity for you would have been a crime for me. You have suffered. And then? What are you to me? As I came among you I am to-day; that is where I am triumphant and virtuous. I have succeeded. When I came here I came into a world of—of shadows of men. What were their passions, their joys, their fears, their despair, their outcry, to me? If I had ears, my virtue was to close them to the cries. There was no other way. There was one of us—your friend Fox, I mean. He came into the world, but had not the virtue to hold himself aloof. He has told you, 'One goes blind down here.' He began to feel a little like the people round him. He contracted likings and dislikings. He liked you ... and you betrayed him. So he went under. He grew blind down here. I have not grown blind. I see as I saw. I move as I did in a world of ... of the pictures of men. They despair. I hear groans ... well, they are the groans of the dead to me. This to you, down near it, is a mass of tortuous intrigue; vile in its pettiest detail. But come further off; stand beside me, and what does it look like? It is a mighty engine of disintegration. It has crushed out a whole fabric, a whole plane of society. It has done that. I guided it. I had to have my eyes on every little strand of it; to be forever on the watch."

"And now I stand alone. Yesterday that fabric was everything to you; it seemed solid enough. And where is it to-day? What is it to you more than to me? There stood Virtue ... and Probity ... and all the things that all those people stood for. Well, to-day they are gone; the very belief in them is gone. Who will believe in them, now that it is proved that their tools were people ... like de Mersch? And it was I that did it. That, too, is to be accounted to me for virtue."

"Well, I have inherited the earth. I am the worm at the very heart of the rose of it. You are thinking that all that I have gained is the hand of Gurnard. But it is more than that. It is a matter of a chess-board; and Gurnard is the only piece that remains. And I am the hand that moves him. As for a marriage; well, it is a marriage of minds, a union for a common purpose. But mine is the master mind. As for you. Well, you have parted with your past ... and there is no future for you. That is true. You have nowhere to go to; have nothing left, nothing in the world. That is true too. But what is that to me? A set of facts—that you have parted with your past and have no future. You had to do the work; I had to make you do it. I chose you because you would do it. That is all.... I knew you; knew your secret places, your weaknesses. That is my power. I stand for the Inevitable, for the future that goes on its way; you for the past that lies by the roadside. If for your sake I had swerved one jot from my allotted course, I should have been untrue. There was a danger, once, for a minute.... But I stood out against it. What would you have had me do? Go under as Fox went under? Speak like him, look as he looks now.... Me? Well, I did not."

"I was in the hands of the future; I never swerved; I went on my way. I had to judge men as I judged you; to corrupt, as I corrupted you. I cajoled; I bribed; I held out hopes; and with every one, as with you, I succeeded. It is in that power that the secret of the greatness which is virtue, lies. I had to set about a work of art, of an art strange to you; as strange, as alien as the arts of dead peoples. You are the dead now, mine the art of an ensuing day. All that remains to you is to fold your hands and wonder, as you wondered before the gates of Nineveh. I had to sound the knell of the old order; of your virtues, of your honours, of your faiths, of ... of altruism, if you like. Well, it is sounded. I was forever on the watch; I foresaw; I forestalled; I have never rested. And you...."

"And I ..." I said, "I only loved you."

There was a silence. I seemed for a moment to see myself a tenuous, bodiless thing, like a ghost in a bottomless cleft between the past and the to come. And I was to be that forever.

"You only loved me," she repeated. "Yes, you loved me. But what claim upon me does that give you? You loved me.... Well, if I had loved you it would have given you a claim.... All your misery; your heartache comes from ... from love; your love for me, your love for the things of the past, for what was doomed.... You loved the others too ... in a way, and you betrayed them and you are wretched. If you had not loved them you would not be wretched now; if you had not loved me you would not have betrayed your—your very self. At the first you stood alone; as much alone as I. All these people were nothing to you. I was nothing to you. But you must needs love them and me. You should have let them remain nothing to the end. But you did not. What were they to you?—Shapes, shadows on a sheet. They looked real. But were they—any one of them? You will never see them again; you will never see me again; we shall be all parts of a past of shadows. If you had been as I am, you could have looked back upon them unmoved or could have forgotten.... But you ... 'you only loved' and you will have no more ease. And, even now, it is only yourself that matters. It is because you broke; because you were false to your standards at a supreme moment; because you have discovered that your honour will not help you to stand a strain. It is not the thought of the harm you have done the others.... What are they—what is Churchill who has fallen or Fox who is dead—to you now? It is yourself that you bemoan. That is your tragedy, that you can never go again to Churchill with the old look in your eyes, that you can never go to anyone for fear of contempt.... Oh, I know you, I know you."

She knew me. It was true, what she said.

I had had my eyes on the ground all this while; now I looked at her, trying to realise that I should never see her again. It was impossible. There was that intense beauty, that shadowlessness that was like translucence. And there was her voice. It was impossible to understand that I was never to see her again, never to hear her voice, after this.

She was silent for a long time and I said nothing—nothing at all. It was the thought of her making Fox's end; of her sitting as Fox had sat, hopelessly, lifelessly, like a man waiting at the end of the world. At last she said: "There is no hope. We have to go our ways; you yours, I mine. And then if you will—if you cannot forget—you may remember that I cared; that, for a moment, in between two breaths, I thought of ... of failing. That is all I can do ... for your sake."

That silenced me. Even if I could have spoken to any purpose, I would have held my tongue now.

I had not looked at her; but stood with my eyes averted, very conscious of her standing before me; of her great beauty, of her great glory.

* * * * *

After a long time I went away. I never saw her again. I never saw any one of them all again. Fox was dead and Churchill I have never had the heart to face. That was the end of all that part of my life. It passed away and left me only a consciousness of weakness and ... and regrets. She remains. One recognises her hand in the trend of events. Well, it is not a very gay world. Gurnard, they say, is the type of the age—of its spirit. And they say that I, the Granger of Etchingham, am not on terms with my brother-in-law.

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