The Price of Things
by Elinor Glyn
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Harietta had no imagination to be inflamed by terrible descriptions of things. She saw no actual horrors, therefore war to her was only a nuisance—nothing ghastly or to be feared. But it was a disgusting nuisance and caused her fatigue. She had continually to remember to simulate proper sympathy, and concern and to subdue her vivacity, and show enthusiasm for any agreeable war work which could divert her dull days. If she had not been more than doubtful of her reception in America, even as a Polish magnate's wife, she would have gone over there to escape as far as possible from the whole situation, and she had been bored to death now for several days. People were too occupied and too grieved to go out of their way now to make much of her, and she had been left alone to brood. Thus the advent of Verisschenzko, who thrilled her always, and a possible new admirer in Denzil, seemed a heaven-sent occurrence. Amaryllis and John were undesired but unavoidable appendages who had to be swallowed.

Denzil's type particularly attracted her. There was an insouciance about him, a debonnair sans gene which increased the charm of his good looks; he had everything of attraction about him which John Ardayre lacked.

Amaryllis, against her will, before the end of the dinner, was conscious of the fact also, though Denzil studiously avoided any conversation with her beyond what the exigencies of politeness required. He devoted himself entirely to Harietta, to her delight, and Verisschenzko and Amaryllis talked while John was left to Stanislass. But the very fact of Denzil's likeness to John made Amaryllis look at him, and she resented his attraction and the interest he aroused in her.

His voice was perhaps even deeper than John's, and how extraordinarily well his bronze hair was planted on his forehead; and how perfectly groomed and brushed and soldierly he looked!

He seemingly had taken the measure of Madame Boleski, too, and was apparently enjoying with a cultivated subtlety the drawing of her out. He was no novice it seemed, and there was a whimsical light in his eyes and once or twice they had inadvertently met hers with understanding when Verisschenzko had made some especially cryptic remark. She knew that she would very much have liked to talk to him.

Verisschenzko was observing Amaryllis carefully. There was a new expression in her eyes which puzzled him. Her features seemed to be drawn with finer lines and pale violet shadows lay beneath her grey eyes. Was it the gloom of the war which oppressed her? It could not be altogether that, because her regard was serene and even happy.

"Did I not know that nothing could be more unlikely, I should say she was going to have a child. What is the mystery?" He found himself very much interested. Especially he was anxious to watch what impression Denzil made upon her. He saw, as the dinner went on, that Amaryllis was aware that he was an attractive creature.

"There is the beginning of a chapter of necessary and expedient—romance—here," he decided. "If only Denzil is not killed." But what did his growing so pale on learning that she was his cousin mean...? that was not a natural circumstance—some deep undercurrents were stirred. And in what way was all this going to affect the lady of his soul?

They could not have any intimate conversation at dinner; they spoke of ordinary things and the war and the horror of it. Russia was moving forward, but Verisschenzko did not appear to be very optimistic in spite of this. There were things in his country, he told Amaryllis, which might handicap the fighting.

Stanislass Boleski looked extremely depressed. He had a hang-dog, strained mien and Verisschenzko's contemptuously friendly attitude towards him wounded him deeply. Once he had shone as a leader and chief in Stepan's life, and now after the stormy scene in the smoking-room at Ardayre, that he could greet him casually and not turn from him in anger, showed, alas! to where he had sunk in Verisschenzko's estimation—a thing of nought—not even worth his disapproval. The dinner to him was a painful trial.

John also was far from content. He had been longing to see Amaryllis, and yet the sight of her and her fond and insinuating words and caresses had caused him exquisite suffering. His emotions were so varied and complex. His prayer had been answered, but apart from his natural loathing for all subterfuge, every new tenderness towards himself which Amaryllis displayed aroused some indefinable jealousy. She had been so glad to see him and he had been conscious himself that he had been even unusually stolid and self-contained towards her. He knew that she grew disappointed and that probably the exalted sentiment which her letter had indicated that she was feeling had been chilled before she could put it into words.

All this distressed him, and yet he could not break through the reserve of his nature.

And now to crown unfortunate things, there was Denzil brought by fate and no one's manoeuvring into Amaryllis' company! Of all things he had hoped that they need not meet before he and his cousin should go to the Front. And it was all brought about by his own action in insisting that they had better dine at a restaurant, as the kitchenmaid, who always remained at Brook Street, had gone to see a wounded brother.

Amaryllis had sighed a little as she had consented, with the faint protest that they could have eaten something cold.

But on their drive to the Carlton she had become fondly affectionate again, nestling close to him, and then she had pulled out the carnation from her belt and held it for him to smell.

"I picked it in the greenhouse this morning, the last of them; I have had them all around me while there were any, because they remind me of you, dearest—and of everything divine."

John felt that he should always now hate that clove stuff for the hair and could no longer bear to use it.

He was perfectly aware that Denzil on his hostess' other hand was looking everything that a woman could desire, and that his easy casualness of manner would be likely to charm. He saw that Amaryllis, too, observed him with unconscious interest, and a feeling akin to despair filled his heart.

Life for him had always been difficult, and he was accustomed to blows, but this one was particularly hard to bear, because he really loved Amaryllis and desired happiness with her which he knew could never really be attained.

Only Harietta of the whole party was quite content. She intended to annex Stepan when they should be drinking coffee in the hall. She looked upon Denzil's conquest now as almost an accomplished fact, and so felt that she might let him talk to Amaryllis, since the Russian was her real object. His ugly rugged face and odd Calmuck eyes always attracted her.

"Why aren't you staying in the hotel, darling Brute?'" she whispered to him as they left the restaurant. "If you had been—"

"I am," said Verisschenzko, and leaving her for a moment he went and telephoned to his not unintelligent Russian servant at the Ritz to arrange about the transference of his rooms.

"She requires the most careful watching—I must waste no time."

And then he returned to the party in the hall.


Denzil Ardayre took up his letters which had been forwarded to him from the depot where he was stationed. He and Verisschenzko were passing through the hall of his mother's house, for a talk and a smoke in his sitting-room, after leaving the Carlton.

The house was in St. James' Place, a small, old building, the ground floor of which was given over to Denzil whenever he was in London. His mother was absent at Bath, where she spent a long autumn cure.

John's letter lay on the top, and Verisschenzko caught the look of interest which came into Denzil's face.

"Don't mind me, my dear chap," he remarked, "read your letters." And they went on into the sitting-room.

"I want just to look at this one—it is from John Ardayre whom we met to-night," and Denzil opened it casually—"I wonder what he is writing to me about, he did not say anything at dinner."

He read the short communication and exclaimed: "Good God!" and then checked himself. He was obviously stirred, and Verisschenzko watched him narrowly. Anything to do with John must concern Amaryllis, and therefore was of profound interest to himself.

"No bad news, I hope?" he said.

Denzil was gazing into the fire, and there was a look of wonderment and even rapture upon his face.

"Oh! No—rather splendid—" He felt quite the strangest emotion he had ever experienced in his life. His usual serene self-confidence and easy flow of words deserted him, and Verisschenzko, watching him, began to link certain things in his mind.

"Tell me, what did you think of your cousin, Lady Ardayre?" he asked casually, as though the subject was irrelevant.

"Amaryllis?" and Denzil almost started from a reverie. "Oh, yes, of course, she is a lovely creature, is not she, Stepan?"

Verisschenzko narrowed his eyes.

"I have told you that I adore her—but with the spirit—if it were not so, she would appeal very strongly to the flesh—Yes?—Did you not feel it?"

"I did."



"She is longing to understand life, she is groping; why do you not set about her education, Denzil?"

"That is the husband's business."

"Not in this case. I consider it is yours; you are the right mate for her. John Ardayre is a good fellow, but he stands for nothing in the affair. Why did you waste your time upon Harietta, when time is so short?"

"I was given no choice."

"But afterwards, in the hall?"

It was quite evident to Verisschenzko that the mention of Amaryllis was causing his friend some unexplainable emotion.

"You did not even exert yourself, then. Why, Denzil?"

Denzil lit a cigarette.

"I thought her awfully attractive—it is the first time I have ever seen her—as you know."

"And that was a reason for remaining silent and as stiff as a poker in manner! You English are a strange race!"

Denzil smiled—if Stepan only knew everything, what would he say!

"You were made for each other. If I were you, I would not lose a second's time!"

"My dear old boy, you seem quite to forget that the girl has a husband of her own!"

"Not at all, it is for that reason—just because of that husband. I shall say no more, you are quite intelligent enough to understand."

"You think it is all right then for a woman to have a lover?" Denzil smiled as he curled rings of smoke. "It is curious how the most honourable among us has not much conscience concerning such things."

Verisschenzko knocked off his cigarette ash and spoke contemplatively:

"The world would be an insupportable place for women, if he had! But whatever the moral aspect of the matter is in general, circumstances arise which alter the point, and that is where the absurd ticketing system hampers suitable action. A thing is ticketed 'dishonourable.' Pah! it is sometimes, and it is not at others—there is no hard and fast rule."

Denzil stretched himself—he was always interested in Verisschenzko's reasonings and prepared to listen with enjoyment:

"The general idea is that a man should not make love to another man's wife. Man professes this as a creed, and the law enforces it and punishes him if he is found out doing so. And if he acted up to this creed as he does about stealing goods and behaving like a gentleman over business matters, all might be well, but unfortunately that seldom occurs, because there is that strong; instinct which is the base of all things working in him, and which does not work in regard to any other point of honour—i.e., the unconscious desire to re-create his, species, so that this one particular branch of moral responsibility cannot be measured, judged, or criticised from the same standpoint as any other. No laws can. alter human nature, or really control a man's actions when a natural force is prompting him unless stern self-analysis discovers the truth to the man, and so permits his spirit to regain dominion. The best chance would be to resist the first feeling of attraction which a woman belonging to another man aroused before it had actually obtained a hold upon his senses—but the percentage of men who do this must be very small. Some resist—or try to resist the actual possession of the woman from moral motives, but many more from motives of expediency and fear of consequences. Then to salve conscience the mass of men ride a high moral stalking horse, and write and speak condemnation of every back-sliding, while their own behaviour coincides with the behaviour they are criticising. The hypocrisy of the thing sickens me; no one ever looks any question straight in the face, denuded of its man-made sophistries. And few realise that a woman is a creature to be fought for—it is prehistoric instinct, and if she can't be obtained in fair fight then you secure her by strategy. And if a man cannot keep her once he has secured her, it is up to him. If I had a wife, I should take good care that she desired no other man—but if I bored her, or was a cold and bad lover, I should not expect the other men not to try and take her from me—because I should know this was a natural instinct with them—like taking food. It would probably be no temptation to most of us to steal gold lying about in a room, even if we were poor, but a hideous temptation to refrain from eating a tempting dish if we were starving with hunger and it was before us—and if a woman did succumb to some new passion I should blame myself, not her."

Denzil agreed.

"Jealousy is a natural instinct, though," he said, "and although there would be not much profit in trying to hold a woman who no longer cared, one could not help being mad about it."

"Of course not—that is the sense of personal possession which is affronted. Vanity is deeply wounded, and so the power to analyse cause and result sleeps. But this attitude which men take up of neglecting a woman and then expecting her to be faithful still is quite ridiculous, and without logic; they are as usual fogged by convention and can't see straight."

Verisschenzko's rough voice was keen—compelling.

Denzil smiled.

"Another of your windmills to fight!"

"I am always fighting convention and shams. Get down to the meaning of a thing, and if its true significance coincides with the convention which surrounds it, then let that hold, but if convention is a super-imposed growth, then amputate it and study the thing without it."

"I suppose a man marries a woman nine times out of ten because he cannot obtain her in any other way; then when he has become indifferent by possession, he still thinks that she should remain devoted to him. You are right, Stepan, it is very illogical."

"Club the creature, or keep her in a cage if you want fidelity through fear, but don't expect it if you allow her to remain at large and neglected, and don't be such an ass as to imagine that your friends won't act just as you yourself would act were she some one's else wife. If a woman has that quality in her which arouses sex, married or single, I never have observed that men refrained from making love to her."

"All this means that you consider I am quite at liberty to make love to Amaryllis Ardayre!"


Denzil threw his cigarette end into the fire:

"Well, for once you are wrong, Stepan, in your usually perfect deductions," he got up from his chair. "There is a reason in this case which makes the thing an absolute impossibility; under no possible circumstance while John is alive could I make the smallest advance towards Amaryllis! There is another point of honour involved in the affair."

Verisschenzko felt that here was some mystery which he had yet to elucidate, the links in the chain were visible up to a point, but he then became baffled by the incontestable fact that Denzil had seen Amaryllis that evening for the first time!

"If this is so, then it is a very great pity," he announced, after a moment or two's thought. "Were the times normal, we might leave all to Fate and trust to luck, but if you are killed and John is killed, it will be a thousand pities for Ferdinand to be the head of the family. A creature like that will not enlist, he will be safe while you risk your lives."

Denzil went over to the window, apparently to get out a fresh box of cigars which were in a cabinet near.

"John writes to-night that there is the chance of an heir after all—so perhaps we need not worry," he said, his voice a little hoarse with feeling. "I was so awfully glad to hear this—we all loathe the thought of Ferdinand."

Verisschenzko actually was startled, and also he was strangely moved.

"When I saw my lady Amaryllis to-night that idea came to me, only as I believed it was quite an impossibility—I dismissed it—It is a war miracle then?" and he smiled enquiringly.


The cigar box was selected and Denzil had once more resumed his seat in a big chair before either of them spoke again.

"I perfectly understand that there is some mystery here, Denzil—and that you cannot tell me—and equally I cannot ask you any questions, but it may be that in the days that are coming I could be of assistance to you. I have some very curious information which I am holding concerning Ferdinand Ardayre in his activities. You can always count on me—" Verisschenzko rose from his chair, stirred deeply with the thoughts which were coursing through his brain.

"Denzil—I love that woman—I am absolutely determined that I shall not do so in any way but in spirit—I long for her to be happy—protected. She has an exquisite soul—I would have given her to you with contentment. You are her counterpart upon this plane—"

Denzil remained silent, he had never seen Stepan so agitated. The situation was altogether very unusual. Then he asked:

"Do you think Ferdinand will make some protest then?"

"It is possible."

"But there is absolutely nothing to be said, the fact of there being a child refutes all the old rumours."

"In law—"

"In every way," a flush had mounted to Denzil's forehead.

"You know Lemon Bridges?" Verisschenzko suggested.

"Yes—why do you ask?"

"He is a remarkably clever surgeon. It is said that he is also a gentleman; if this news surprises him he will not express his feelings probably."

Stepan was observing his friend with the minutest scrutiny now, while he spoke lazily once more as though upon a casual topic bent, and he saw that a lightning flash of anxiety passed through Denzil's eyes.

"I do not see how any one can have a word to say about the matter," and he lit his cigar deliberately. "John is awfully pleased—"

"And so am I—and so are you, and so will be the lady Amaryllis. Thus we can only wish for general happiness, and not anticipate difficulties which may never occur. When is the event to happen?"

"The beginning of next May," Denzil announced, without hesitation, and then the flush deepened, for he suddenly remembered that John had not mentioned any date in his letter!

The subject was growing embarrassing, and he asked, so as to change it:

"What is your friend, Madame Boleski, doing now, Stepan?"

"She is receiving news from Germany which I shall endeavour to have her transmit to me, and I have some suspicion that she is transmitting any information which she can pick up here to Germany, but I cannot yet be sure. When I am, then I shall have no mercy. She would betray any country for an hour's personal pleasure or gain. I have not yet discovered who the man was at the Ardayre ball—I told you about it, did I not? Just then more important matters pressed and I could not follow up the clue."

"She is certainly physically attractive, and all the things she says are so obvious and easy, she is quite a rest at a dinner, but Lord! think of spending one's life with a woman like that!" and Denzil smiled.

"There are very few women whom it would be possible to contemplate in calmness spending one's life with, because one's own needs change, and the woman's also. The tie is a galling bond unless it can be looked at with common sense by both—but I think men are quite as illogical as women over it, and of such an incredible vanity! It is because we have mixed so much sentiment into such a simple nature-act that all the bothers arise, and men are unjust over every thing to do with women. All men think, for instance, that a woman must not deceive her lover and, at the same time that she is appearing to be his faithful mistress, take another for her pleasure and diversion in secret. A man would look upon this and rightly as a dishonourable betrayal because it would wound his vanity and lower his personal prestige. But the illogical part is that he would not hesitate to do the same thing himself, and would never see the matter in the light of a betrayal, because the Creator has happily equipped him with a rhinoceros hide which enables him never to feel stings of self-contempt when viewing his own actions towards the other sex."

Denzil laughed aloud.

"You are hard on us, Stepan, but I dare say you are right."

"It is just custom and convention which make us think ourselves such gods. Had woman had the same chance always, who knows what she might not have become by now! Everything is ticketed, it is called by a name and put down under such and such a heading—women are 'weak' and 'illogical' and 'unreliable' and men are 'brave' and 'sound' and 'to be trusted'—tosh! in quantities of cases—and if so, why so? Women are wonderful beings in many ways—of a courage! The way they bear things so gladly for men—think of their suffering when they have children. You don't know about it probably, men take all this as a matter of course—but I saw my sister die—after hours of it—"

Denzil moved his arm rather suddenly and upset the glass of lemon squash on a little table near.

Verisschenzko observed this, but went on without a break:

"It is agony for them under the best conditions, and sometimes they become divine over it. Amaryllis will be divine—I hope John will take care of her—"

A look of concern came into Denzil's face, and Verisschenzko watched him. Could any one be more attractive as a splendid mate for Amaryllis, he thought. He crushed down all feeling of human jealousy. His intuition would probably reveal all the mystery to him presently, and meanwhile if he could forward any scheme which would be for the good of Amaryllis and the security of the family, he would do so.

"I must leave you now, old man," he said, looking at his watch. "I have a rendezvous with Harietta. I shall have to play the part of an ardent lover and cannot yet wring her neck."

When Denzil was alone, he stood gazing into the fire.

"That John should take care of her?"—but John was going out to fight—and so was he—and they might both be killed—What then?

"Stepan knows, I am certain," he thought, "and he is true as steel; he must stand by her if we don't come back."

And then his thoughts flew to the vision of her sitting opposite him at the table, with her sweet eyes turned to his now and then, the faint violet shadows beneath them and the transparent exquisiteness of her skin telling their own story by the added, fragile beauty. Oh! what unutterable joy to hold her in his arms and whisper passionate love words in her little ears, to live again the dream of her dainty head lying prone there on his breast. Every pulse in his being throbbed to bursting, seeming almost to suffocate him.

"Amaryllis—Sweetheart!" he whispered aloud, and then started at his own voice.

He paced up and down the room, clenching his hands. The family might go on, but the two members of it must endure the pain of renunciation.

Which was the harder to bear, he wondered—his part of hopeless memory and regret, or John's of forced denial and abstinence?

In all the world, no situation could be more strange or more cruel.

He had felt deeply about it before he had seen Amaryllis. He thought of the myth of Eros and Psyche. His emotions had been much as Psyche's before she lit the lamp. And now the lamp had been lighted—his eyes had seen what his arms had clasped, the reality was more lovely than his dream, and passion was kindled a hundredfold. It swept him off his feet.

He forgot war and the horror of the time, he forgot everything except that he longed for Amaryllis.

"She is mine, absolutely mine," he said wildly. "Not John's."

And then he remembered his promise, given before any personal equation had entered into the affair.

Never to take advantage of the situation—afterwards!

And what would the child be like? A true Ardayre, of course—they would say that it had harked back, perhaps, to that Elizabethan Denzil whom his father had told him was his exact portrait in the picture gallery at Ardayre.

He could have laughed at the sardonic humour of everything if he had not been too overcome with passionate desire to retain any critical sense.

Then he sat down and forced himself to realise what it meant—parenthood. Not much to a man, as a rule. He had looked upon those occult stirrings of the spirit of which he had read as romantic nonsense. It was a natural thing and all right if a man had a place for him to wish to have a son—but otherwise, sentimentality over such things was such rot!

And yet now he found himself thrilling with sentiment. He would like to talk to Amaryllis all about it, and listen to her thoughts, too. And then he remembered the many discussions with Verisschenzko upon the theory of re-birth and of the soul's return again and again until its lessons are learned on this plane of existence, and he wondered what soul would animate the physical form of this little being who would be his and hers.

And suddenly in his mental vision the walls of the room seemed to fade, and he was only conscious of a vastness of space, and knew that for this brief moment he was looking into eternity and realising for the first time the wonder of things.

* * * * *

Meanwhile Verisschenzko had returned to the Carlton and was softly walking down the passage towards the Boleskis' rooms. The ante-room door was at the corner, and as he was about ten yards from it a man came out and strode rapidly towards the lift down the corridor at right angles, but the bright light fell upon his face for an instant, and Verisschenzko saw that it was Ferdinand Ardayre.

He waited where he was until he heard the lift doors shut, and even then he paced up and down for a time before he entered the sitting-room. There must be no suspicion that he had encountered the late visitor.

"Darling Brute, here you are!" Harietta cried delightedly, rising from her sofa and throwing herself into his arms. "I've packed Stanislass off to the St. James' to play piquet. I have been all alone waiting for you for the last hour—I began to fear you would not come."

Verisschenzko looked at her, with his cynical, humorous smile, whose meaning never reached her. He took in the transparent garments which hardly covered her, and then he bent and picked up a man's handkerchief which lay on a table near.

"Tiens! Harietta!" he remarked lazily. "Since when has Stanislass taken to using this very Eastern perfume?" and he sniffed with disgust.

The wide look of startled innocence grew in Madame Boleski's hazel eyes.

"I believe Stanislass must have got a mistress, Stepan. I have noticed lately these scents on his things—as you know, he never used any before!"

"The handkerchief is marked with 'F.A.' I suppose the blanchisseuse mixes them in hotels. Let us burn the memento of a husband's straying fancies then; the taste in perfumes of his inamorata is anything but refined," and Verisschenzko tossed the bit of cambric into the fire which sparkled in the grate.

"I've lots of news to tell you, Darling Brute—but I shan't—yet! Have you come to England to see that bit of bread and butter—or—?"

But Verisschenzko, with a fierce savagery which she adored, crushed her in his arms.


On the Tuesday morning after the Carlton dinner, fate fell upon Denzil and Amaryllis in the way the jade does at times, swooping down upon them suddenly and then like a whirlwind altering the very current of their destiny. It came about quite naturally, too, and not by one of those wildly improbable situations which often prove truth to be stranger than fiction.

Amaryllis was settled in an empty compartment of the Weymouth express at Paddington. She had said good-bye to John the evening before, and he had returned to camp. She was going back to Ardayre, and feeling very miserable. Everything had been a disillusion. John's reserve seemed to have augmented, and she had been unable to break it down, and all the new emotions which she was trembling with and longing to express, had grown chilled.

Presumably John must be pleased at the possibility of having a son since it was his heart's desire; but it almost seemed as though the subject embarrassed him! And all the beautiful things which she had meant to say to him about it remained unspoken.

He was stolidly matter-of-fact.

What could it all mean?

At last she had become deeply hurt and had cried with a tremour in her voice the morning before he left her:

"Oh! John, how different you have become; it can't be the same you who once called me 'Sweetheart' and held me so closely in your arms! Have I done anything to displease you, dearest? Aren't you glad that I am going to have a baby?"

He had kissed her and assured her gravely that he was glad—overjoyed. And his eyes had been full of pain, and he had added that he was stupid and dull, but that she must not mind—it was only his way.

"Alas!" she had answered and nothing more.

She dwelt upon these things as she sat in the train gazing out of the window on the blank side.

Yes. Joy was turning into dead sea fruit. How moving her thoughts had been when coming up to meet him!

The marvel of love creating life had exalted her and she had longed to pour her tender visionings into the ears of—her lover! For John had been thus enshrined in her fond imagination!

The whole idea of having a child to her was a sacred wonder with little of earth in it, and she had woven exquisite sentiment round it and had dreamed fair dreams of how she would whisper her thoughts to John as she lay clasped to his heart; and John, too, would be thrilled with exaltation, for was not the glorious mystery his as well—not hers alone?

Now everything looked grey.

Tears rose in her eyes. Then she took herself to task; it was perhaps only her foolish romance leading her astray once more. The thought might mean nothing to a man beyond the pride of having a son to carry on his name. If the baby should be a little girl John might not care for it at all!

The tears brimmed over and fell upon a big crimson carnation in her coat, a bunch of which John had ordered to be sent her, and which were now safely reposing in a card-board box in the rack above her head.

Fortunately she had the carriage to herself. No one had attempted to get in, and they would soon be off. To be away from London would be a relief.

Then her thoughts flew to Verisschenzko; he had told her that circumstances in his country might require his frequent presence in England for the next few months.

She would see him again. What would he tell her to do now? Conquer emotion and look at things with common sense.

The picture of the dinner at the Carlton then came back to her, and the face of Denzil across the table, so like, and yet so unlike John!

If Denzil had a wife would he be cold to her? Was it in the nature of all Ardayres?

At the very instant the train began to move the carriage was invaded by a man in khaki who bounded in and almost fell by her knees, and with a cheery 'Just done it, Sir!' the guard flung in a dressing-bag and slammed the door, and she realised with conscious interest that the intruder was Denzil Ardayre!

"How do you do? By Jove. I am awfully sorry," and he held out his hand. "I nearly lost the train and I am afraid I have bundled in without asking leave. I am going down to Bath to say good-bye to my mother. I say, do forgive me if I startled you," and he looked full of concern.

Amaryllis laughed; she was nervous and overstrung.

"Your entrance was certainly sudden and in this non-stop to Westbury we shall have to put up with each other till then—shall you mind?"

"Awfully—Must I say that the truth would be that I am enchanted!"

Fortune had flung him these two hours. He had not planned them, his conscience was clear, and he could not help delight rushing through him. Two hours with her—alone!

There are some blue eyes which seem to have a spark of the devil lurking in them always, even when they are serious. Denzil's were such eyes. Women found it difficult to resist his charm, and indeed had never tried very hard. Life and its living, knowledge to acquire, work to do, beasts to hunt, had not left him too much time to be spoiled by them fortunately, and he had passed through several adventures safely and had never felt anything but the most transient emotion, until now looking at Amaryllis sitting opposite him he knew that he was in love with this dream which had materialised.

Amaryllis studied him while they talked of ordinary things and the war news and when he would go out. She felt some strong attraction drawing her to him. Her sense of depression left her. She found herself noticing how the sun which had broken through a cloud turned his immaculately brushed hair into bronze. She did a little modelling to amuse herself, and so appreciated balance and line.

Everything in Denzil was in the right place, she decided, and above all he looked so peculiarly alive. He seemed, indeed, to be the reality of what her imagination had built up round the personality of John in the weeks of their separation. Denzil believed that he was talking quite casually, but his glance was ardent, and atmosphere becomes charged when emotions are strong no matter how insignificant words may be. Amaryllis felt that he was deeply interested in her.

"You know my friend Verisschenzko well, it seems," she said presently. "Is not he a fascinating creature? I always feel stimulated when I am with him, and as if I must accomplish great things."

"Stepan is a wonder—we were at Oxford together—he can do anything he desires. He is a musician and an artist and is chock full of common sense, and there's not a touch of rot. He would have taken honours if he had not been sent down."

Amaryllis wanted to know about this, and listened amazedly to the story of the mad freak which had so scandalised the Dons.

She had recovered from her nervousness, she was natural and delightful, and although the peculiar situation was filling Denzil with excitement and emotion, he was too much a man of the world to experience any gene. So they talked for a while with friendliness upon interesting things. Then a pause came and Amaryllis looked out of the window, and Denzil had time to grow aware that he must hold himself with a tighter hand, a sense almost of intoxication had begun to steal over him.

Suddenly Amaryllis grew very pale and her eyelids flickered a little; for the first time in her life she felt faint.

He bent forward in anxiety as she leaned her head against the cushioned division.

"Oh! what is it, you poor little darling! what can I do for you?" he exclaimed, unconscious that he had used a word of endearment; but even though things had grown vague for her Amaryllis caught the tenderly pronounced 'darling' and, physically ill as she felt, her spirit thrilled with some agreeable surprise. He came nearer and pushing up the padded divisions between the seats, he lifted her as though she had been a baby and laid her flat down. He got out his flask from his dressing bag and poured some brandy between her pale lips, then he rubbed her hands, murmuring he knew not what of commiseration. She looked so fragile and helpless and the probable reason of her indisposition was of such infinite solicitude to himself.

"To think that she is feeling like that because—Ah!—and I may not even kiss her and comfort her, or tell her I adore her and understand." So his thoughts ran.

Presently Amaryllis sat up and opened her eyes. She had not actually fainted, but for a few moments everything had grown dim and she was not certain of what had happened, or if she had dreamed that Denzil had spoken a love word, or whether it was true—she smiled feebly.

"I did feel so queer," she explained. "How silly of me! I have never felt faint before—it is stupid"—and then she blushed deeply, remembering what certainly must be the cause.

"I am going to open the window wide," he said, appreciating the blush, and let it down. "You ought not to sit with your back to the engine like that, let us change sides."

He took command and drew her to her feet, and placed her gently in his vacant seat; then he sat down opposite her and looked at her with anxious eyes.

"I sit that way as a rule because of avoiding the dust, but, of course, it was that. I am not generally such a goose though—it is the nastiest feeling that I have ever known."

"You poor dear little girl," his deep voice said. "You must shut your eyes and not talk now."

She obeyed, and he watched her intently as she lay back with her eyes closed, the long lashes resting upon her pale cheeks. She looked childish and a little pathetic, and every fibre of his being quivered with desire to protect her. He had never felt so profoundly in his life—and the whole thing was so complicated. He tried to force himself to remember that he was not travelling with his wife whom he could take care of and cherish because she was going to have his child, but that he was travelling with John's wife whom he hardly knew and must take no more interest in than any Ardayre would in the wife of the head of the family!

He could have laughed at the extraordinary irony of the thing, if it had not been so moving.

Verisschenzko, had he been there and known the circumstances, would have taken joy in analysing what nature was saying to them both!

Amaryllis was only conscious that Denzil seemed the reality of her dream of John, and that she liked his nearness—and Denzil only knew that he loved her extremely and must banish emotion and remember his given word. So he pulled himself together when she sat up presently and began talking again, and gradually the atmosphere of throbbing excitement between them calmed. They spoke of each other's tastes and likings and found many to be the same. Then they spoke of books, and each discovered that the other was sufficiently well read to be able to discuss varied favourite authors.

An understanding and sympathy had grown up between them before they reached Westbury, and yet Denzil was really trying to keep his word in the spirit as well as the letter.

Amaryllis felt no constraint—she was more friendly than she would have been with any other man she knew so slightly. Were they not cousins, and was it not perfectly natural!

They talked of Oxford and of the effect it had upon young men, and again they spoke of Stepan and of the dream he and Denzil shared.

"You will go into Parliament, I suppose, when you come back from the war?" she remarked at last. "If you have dreams they should become realities...."

"That is what I intend to do. The war may last a long time though—but it ought to teach one something, and England will be a vastly different place after it, and perhaps the younger men who have fought may have a greater chance."

"You have pet theories, of course."

"I suppose so—I believe that the first great step will be to give the people better homes—the housing question is what I am going to devote my energy to. I am sure it is the root of nearly every evil. Every man and woman who works should have the right to a good home. I have two supreme interests—that is one, and the other is elimination of the wastrels and the unfit. I am quite ruthless, perhaps, you will think. But there is such a sickening lot of mawkish sentiment mixed up with nearly every scheme to benefit workers. I agree with Stepan who always preaches: Get down to the commonsense point of view about a thing. Prune the convention and religion and sentimentality first and then you can judge."

Amaryllis thought for a moment; her eyes became wide and dreamy, and her charmingly set head was a little thrown back. Denzil took in the line of her white throat and the curve of her chin—it was not weak. Why was it that women with the possibilities of this one always seemed to be some other man's property! He had never come across such charm in girls. Or was it that marriage developed charm?

They neither of them spoke for a minute or two, each busy with speculation.

"I want to do something," Amaryllis said at last, "not, only just make shirts and socks," and then the pink flushed her cheeks again suddenly as she remembered that she would not be fit for more strenuous work for quite a long time—and then the war would be over, of course.

Denzil thought the same thing without the last qualification. He was under no delusions as to the speedy end of strife.

He could not help visioning the wonderful interest the hope of a son would be to him if she really were his wife—how filled with supreme sympathy and tenderness would be the months coming on. How they would talk together about their wishes and the mystery and the glory of the evolution of life. And here she had blushed at some thought concerning it, and no words must pass between them about this sacred thing. He longed to ask her many questions—and then a pang of jealousy shook him. She would confide to John, not to him, all the emotions aroused by the thought of the child—then. He wondered what she would do in the winter all alone. Had she relations she was fond of? He wished that she knew his Mother, who was the kindest sweetest lady in the world. He said aloud:

"I would like you to meet my Mother. She is going to be at Bath for a month. She is almost an invalid with rheumatism in her ankle where she broke it five years ago. I believe you would get on."

"I should love to—it is not an impossible distance from us. I will go over to see her, if you will tell her about me—so that she won't think some stranger is descending upon her some day!"

"She will be so pleased," and he thought that he would be happier knowing that they were friends.

"Does she mean a great deal to you? Some mothers do," and she sighed—her own was less than emptiness—they had never been near, and now her stepfather and the step-family claimed all the affection her mother could feel.

"She is a great dear—one of my best friends," and his eyes beamed. "We have always been pals—because I have no brothers and sisters I suppose she spoilt me!"

"I daresay you were quite a nice little boy!" Amaryllis smiled—"and it must be divine to have a son—I expect it would be easy to spoil one."

Denzil clasped his hands rather tightly—she looked so adorable as she said that, her eyes soft with inward knowledge of her great hope. How impossible it all was that they must remain strangers—casual cousins and nothing more.

"It must be an awful responsibility to have children," he said, watching her. "Don't you think so?"

The pink flared up again as she answered a rather solemn "Yes."

Then she went on, a little hurriedly:

"One would try to study their characters and lead them to the highest good, as gardeners watch over and train plants until they come to perfection. But what funny, serious things we are talking about," and she gave a little, nervous laugh—"Like two old grandfather philosophers."

"It is rather a treat to talk seriously; one so seldom has the chance to meet any one who understands."

"To understand!" and she sighed. "Alas—How quite perfect life would be—" and then she stopped abruptly. If she continued her words might contain a reflection upon John.

Denzil bent forward eagerly—what had she been going to say?

She saw his blue attractive eyes gazing at her so ardently and some delicious thrill passed through her. But Denzil recovered himself, and leaned back in his seat—while he abruptly changed the conversation by remarking casually:

"I have never seen Ardayre. I would love to look at our common ancestors. My father used to say there was an Elizabethan Denzil who was rather like me. I suppose we are all stamped with the same brand."

"I know him!" Amaryllis cried delightedly. "He is up at the end of the gallery in puffed white satin and a ruff. Of course, you must come and see him; he has exactly the same eyes."

"The whole family are alive I believe—we were a tenacious lot!"

"If you and John both get leave at Christmas you must come with him and spend it at Ardayre—I shall have made your Mother's acquaintance by then, and we must persuade her too."

He gave some friendly answer—while he felt that John might not endorse this invitation. If the places were reversed, how would he himself act? Difficult as the situation was for him, it was infinitely harder for John. Then the train stopped at Westbury.


Denzil had got out to get some papers which he had been to hurried to secure at Paddington tipping the guard on the way, so that an old gentleman who showed signs of desiring to enter was warded off to another compartment. Thus when the train re-started, they were again left alone.

Amaryllis had partially recovered and was looking nearly her usual self, but for the violet shadows beneath her eyes. She glanced at the papers which he handed to her, and Denzil retired behind the Times. He wanted to think; he must not let himself slip out of hand. He must resolutely stamp out all the emotion that she was causing him; he despised weakness of any sort.

He thought of Verisschenzko's words about laws being powerless to control a man's actions, when a natural force is prompting him, unless he uses self-analysis, and so by gaining knowledge permits the spirit to conquer. He recollected that he had transgressed often without a backward thought in past days with other women, but now his honour was engaged even apart from his firm belief in Stepan's favourite saying, that a man must never sully the wrong thing. Then the argument they had often had about indulgences came to him, and the truth of the only possibility of their enjoyment being while they remained servants, not masters.

He had had his indulgences in the two hours to Westbury, and had very nearly let it conquer him, more than once, and now he must not only curb all friendly words and delightful dalliance with forbidden topics, but he must feel no more passion.

He made himself read the war news and try to visualize the grim reality behind the official phrasing of the communiques. And gradually he became calm, and was almost startled when Amaryllis, who had been watching him furtively and had begun to wonder if he was really so interested in his paper, said timidly:

"Will you pull the window up a little? It seems to be growing cold."

She noticed that his lips were set firmly and that an abstracted expression had grown in his eyes.

Then Denzil spoke, now quite naturally and about the war, and deliberately kept the conversation to this subject, until Amaryllis lay back again in her corner and closed her eyes.

"I am going to have a little sleep," she said.

She too had begun to realise that in more personal investigation of mutual tastes there lay some danger. She had become conscious of the fact that she was very interested in Denzil—and there he was, not really the least like John!

They were silent for some time, and were nearing Frome when he spoke. He had been deliberating as to what he ought to do? Get out and leave her, to catch his connection to Bath, or sacrifice that and see her safely to her destination and perhaps hire a motor from Bridgeborough?

This latter was his strong desire and also seemed the only chivalrous thing to do when she still looked so pale, but—

"Here we are almost at Frome," he said.

Her eyes rounded with concern. It would be horrid to be alone. She had left her maid in London for a few days' holiday.

"You change here for Bath," she faltered a little uncertainly.

He decided in a second. He could not be inhuman! Duty and desire were one!

"Yes—but I am coming on with you. I shall not leave you until I see you safely into your own motor. I can hire one perhaps then, to take me on the rest of the way."

She was relieved—or she thought it was merely relief, which made a sudden lifting in her heart!

"How kind of you. I do feel as if I did not like the thought of being by myself, it is so stupid of me—But you can't hire a motor from Bridgeborough which would get you to Bath before dark! They are wretched things there. You must come with me to Ardayre; it is on the Bath road, you know—and we can have a late lunch, and and then I'll send you on in the Rolls Royce. You will be there in an hour—in time for tea."

This was a tremendous fresh temptation. He tried to look at it as though it did not in reality matter to him more than the appearance suggested. Had there been no emotion in his interest in Amaryllis, he would not have hesitated, he knew.

Then it was only for him to conquer emotion and behave as he would do under ordinary circumstances—it would be a good test of his will.

"All right—that's splendid, and I shall be able to see Ardayre!"

It was when they were in Amaryllis's own little coupe very close to each other that strong temptation assailed Denzil. He suddenly felt his pulses throbbing wildly and it was with the greatest difficulty he prevented himself from clasping her in his arms. He tried to look out of the window and take an interest in the park, which was entered very soon after leaving the station. He told himself Ardayre was something which deserved his attention and he looked for the first view of the house, but all his will could only keep his arms from transgressing, it could not control the riot of his thoughts.

Amaryllis was conscious in some measure that he was far from calm, and her own heart began to beat unaccountably. She talked rather fast about the place and its history, and both were relieved when the front door came in sight.

There was a welcoming smell of burning logs in the hall to greet them, and the old butler could not restrain an expression of startled curiosity when he saw Denzil, the likeness to his master was so great.

"This is Captain Ardayre, Filson," Amaryllis said, "Sir John's cousin," and then she gave the order about the motor to take Denzil on to Bath.

They went through the Henry VII inner hall, and on to the green drawing-room, with its air of home and comfort, in spite of its great size and stateliness.

There were no portraits here, but some fine specimens of the Dutch school, and the big tawny dogs rose to welcome their mistress and were introduced to their "new relation."

She was utterly fascinating, Denzil thought, playing with them there on the great bear skin rug.

"We shall lunch at once," she told him, "and then rush through the pictures afterwards before you start for Bath."

They both tried to talk of ordinary things for the few moments before that meal was announced, and then some kind of devilment seemed to come into Amaryllis—nothing could have been more seductive or alluring than her manner, while keeping to strict convention. The bright pink colour glowed in her cheeks and her eyes sparkled. She could not have accounted for her mood herself. It was one of excitement and interest.

Denzil had the hardest fight he had ever been through, and he grew almost gruff in consequence. He was really suffering.

He admired the way she acted as hostess, and the way the home was done. He hardly felt anything else, though apart from her he would have been interested in his first view of Ardayre, but she absorbed all other emotions, he only knew that he desired to make passionate love to her, or to get away as quickly as he could.

"Are you going to remain here all the winter?" he asked her presently, as they rose from the table, "or shall you go to London? You will be awfully lonely, won't you, if you stay here?"

"I love the country and I am growing to love and understand the place. John wants me to so much, it means more to him than anything else in the world. I shall remain until after Christmas anyway. But come now, I want just to take you into the church, because there are two such fine tombs there of both our ancestors, yours and mine. We can go out of the windows and come back for coffee in the cedar parlour."

Denzil acquiesced; he wished to see the church. They reached it in a minute or two and Amaryllis opened the door with her own key and led him on up the aisle to the recumbent knights—and then she whispered their history to him, standing where a ray of sunlight turned her brown hair into gold.

"I wonder what their lives were," Denzil said, "and if they lived and loved and fought their desires—as we do now—the younger one's face looks as though he had not always conquered his. Stepan would say his indulgences had become his masters, not his servants, I expect."

"Verisschenzko is wonderful—he makes one want to be strong," and Amaryllis sighed. "I wonder how many of us even begin to fight our desires—"

"One has to be strong always if one wants to attain—but sometimes it is only honour which holds one—and weaklings are so pitiful."

"What is honour?" Her eyes searched his face wistfully. "Is it being true to some canon of the laws of chivalry, or is it being true to some higher thing in one's own soul?"

Denzil leaned against the tomb and he thought deeply: then he looked straight into her eyes:

"Honour lies in not betraying a trust reposed in one, either in the spirit or in the letter."

"Then, when, we say of a man 'he acted honourably,' we mean that he did not betray a trust placed in him, even if it was only perhaps by circumstance and not by a person."

"It is simply that'—keeping faith. If a man stole a sum of money from a friend, the dishonour would not be in the act of stealing, which is another offence—but in abusing his friend's trust in him by committing that act."

"Dishonour is a betrayal then—"

"Of course."

"Why would this knight"—and she placed her hand on the marble face, "have said that he must kill another who had stolen his wife, say, to avenge his 'honour'?"

"That is the conventional part of it—what Stepan calls the grafting on of a meaning to suit some idea of civilisation. It was a nice way of having personal revenges too and teaching people that they could not steal anything with impunity. If we analysed that kind of honour we would find it was principally vanity. The dishonour really lay with the wife, if she deceived her husband—and with the other man if he was the husband's friend—if he was not, his abduction of the woman was not 'dishonourable' because he was not trusted, it was merely an act of theft."

"What then must we do when we are very strongly tempted?" Her voice was so low he could hardly hear it.

"It is sometimes wisest to run away," and he turned from her and moved towards the door.

She followed wondering. She knew not why she had promoted this discussion. She felt that she had been very unbalanced all the day.

They went back to the house almost silently and through the green drawing-room window again and up the broad stairs with Sir William Hamilton's huge decorative painting of an Ardayre group of his time, filling one vast wall at the turn.

And so they reached the cedar parlour, and found coffee waiting and cigarettes.

There was a growing tension between them and each guessed that the other was not calm. Amaryllis began showing him the view from the windows across the park, and then the old fireplace and panelling of the room.

"We sit here generally when we are alone," she said. "I like it the best of all the rooms in the house."

"It is a fitting frame for you."

They lit cigarettes.

Denzil had many things he longed to say to her of the place, and the thoughts it called up in him—but he checked himself. The thing was to get through with it all quickly and to be gone. They went into the picture gallery then, and began from the end, and when they came to the Elizabethan Denzil they paused for a little while. The painted likeness was extraordinary to the living splendid namesake who gazed up at the old panel with such interested eyes.

And Amaryllis was thinking:

"If only John had that something in him which these two have in their eyes, how happy we could be."

And Denzil was thinking:

"I hope the child will reproduce the type." He felt it would be some kind of satisfaction to himself if she should have a son which should be his own image.

"It is so strange," she remarked, "that you should be exactly like this Denzil, and yet resemble John who does not remind me of him at all, except in the general family look which every one of them share. This one might have been painted from you."

He looked down at her suddenly and he was unable to control the passionate emotion in his eyes. He was thinking that yes, certainly, the child must be like him—and then what message would it convey to her?

Amaryllis was disturbed, she longed to ask him what it was which she felt, and why there seemed some illusive remembrance always haunting her. She grew confused, and they passed on to another frame which contained the Lady Amaryllis who had had the sonnets written to her nut brown locks. She was a dainty creature in her stiff farthingale, but bore no likeness to the present mistress of Ardayre.

Denzil examined her for some seconds, and then he said reflectively:

"She is a Sweetheart—but she is not you!"

There was some tone of tenderness in his voice when he said the word "Sweetheart" and Amaryllis started and drew in her breath. It recalled something which had given her joy, a low murmur whispered in the night. "Sweetheart!"—a word which John, alas! had never used before nor since, except in that one letter in answer to her cry of exaltation—her glad Magnificat. What was this echo sounding in her ears? How like Denzil's voice was to John's—only a little deeper. Why, why should he have used that word "Sweetheart"?

No coherent thought had yet come to her, it was as though she had looked for an instant upon some scene which awakened a chord of memory, and then that the curtain had dropped before she could define it.

She grew agitated, and Denzil turning, saw that her face was pale, and her grey eyes vague and troubled.

"I am quite sure that it is tiring you, showing me all the house like this, we won't look at another picture—and really I must be getting on."

She did not contradict him.

"I am afraid that you ought to go perhaps, if you want to arrive by daylight."

And as they returned to the green drawing-room she said some nice things about wanting to meet his mother, and she tried to be natural and at ease, but her hand was cold as ice when he held it in saying good-bye before the fire, when Filson had announced the motor.

And if his eyes had shown passionate emotion in the picture gallery, hers now filled with question and distress.

"Good-bye, Denzil—"

"Good-bye, Amaryllis—" He could not bring himself to say the usual conventionalities, and went towards the door with nothing more.

Her brain was clearing, terror and passion and uncertainty had come in like a flood.


He turned to her side fearfully. Why had she called him now?

"Denzil—?" her face had paled still further, and there was an anguish of pleading in it. "Oh, please, what does it all mean?" and she fell forward into his arms.

He held her breathlessly. Had she fainted? No—she still stood on her feet, but her little face there lying on his breast was as a lily in whiteness and tears escaped from her closed eyes.

"For God's sake, Denzil, have you not something to tell me? You cannot leave me so!"

He shivered with the misery of things.

"I have nothing to tell you, child." His voice was hoarse. "You are overwrought and overstrung. I have nothing to say to you but just good-bye."

She held his coat and looked up at him wildly.

"—Denzil—It was you—not—John!"

He unclasped her clinging arms:

"I must go."

"You shall not until you answer me—I have a right to know."

"I tell you I have nothing to say to you," he was stern with the suffering of restraint.

She clung to him again.

"Why did you say that word 'Sweetheart' then? It was your own word. Oh! Denzil, you cannot be so frightfully cruel as to leave me in uncertainty—tell me the truth or I shall die!"

But he drew himself away from her and was silent; he could not make lying protestations of not understanding her, so there only remained one course for him to follow—he must go, and the brutality of such action made him fierce with pain.

She burst into passionate sobs and would have fallen to the ground. He raised her in his arms and laid her on the sofa near, and then fear seized him. What if this excitement and emotion should make her really ill—?

He knelt down beside her and stroked her hair. But she only sobbed the more.

"How hideously cruel are men. Why can't you tell me what I ask you? You dare not even pretend that you do not understand!"

He knew that his silence was an admission, he was torn with distress.

"Darling," he cried at last in torment, "for God's sake, let me go."

"Denzil—" and then her tears stopped suddenly, and the great drops glistened on her white cheeks. Weeping had not disfigured her—she looked but as a suffering child.

"Denzil—if you knew everything, you could not possibly leave me—you don't know what has happened—But you must, you will have to since—soon—"

He bowed his head and placed her two hands over his face with a despairing movement.

"Hush—I implore you—say nothing. I do know, but I love you—I must go."

At that she gave a glad cry and drew him close to her.

"You shall not now! I do not care for conventions any more, or for laws, or for anything! I am a savage—you are mine! John must know that you are mine! The family is all that matters to him, I am only an instrument, a medium for its continuance—but Denzil, you and I are young and loving and living. It is you I desire, and now I know that I belong to you. You are the man and I am the woman—and the child will be our child!"

Her spirit had arisen at last and broken all chains. She was transfigured, transformed, translated. No one knowing the gentle Amaryllis could have recognised her in this fierce, primitive creature claiming her mate!

Furious, answering passion surged through Denzil; it was the supreme moment when all artificial restrictions of civilisation were swept away. Nature had come to her own. All her forces were working for these two of her children brought near by a turn of fate. He strained her in his arms wildly—he kissed her lips, and ears, and eyes.

"Mine, mine," he cried, and then "Sweetheart!"

And for some seconds which seemed an eternity of bliss they forgot all but the joy of love.

But presently reality fell upon Denzil and he almost groaned.

"I must leave you, precious dear one—even so—I gave my word of honour to John that I would never take advantage of the situation. Fate has done this thing by bringing us together; it has overwhelmed us. I do not feel that we are greatly to blame, but that does not release me from my promise. It is all a frightful price that we must pay for pride in the Family. Darling, help me to have courage to go."

"I will not—It is shameful cruelty," and she clung to him, "that we must be parted now I am yours really—not John's at all. Everything in my heart and being cries out to you—you are the reality of my dream lover, your image has been growing in my vision for months. I love you, Denzil, and it is your right to stay with me now and take care of me, and it is my right to tell you of my thoughts about the—child—Ah! if you knew what it means to me, the joy, the wonder, the delight! I cannot keep it all to myself any longer. I am starving! I am frozen! I want to tell it all to my Beloved!"

He held her to him again—and she poured forth the tenderest holy things, and he listened enraptured and forgot time and place.

"Denzil," she whispered at last, from the shelter of his arms. "I have felt so strange—exalted, ever since—and now I shall have this ever present thought of you and love women in my existence—But how is it going to be in the years which are coming? How can I go on pretending to John?—I cannot—I shall blurt out the truth—For me there is only you—not just the you of these last days since we saw each other with our eyes—but the you that I had dreamed about and fashioned as my lover—my delight—Can I whisper to John all my joy and tenderness as I watch the growing up of my little one? No! the thing is monstrous, grotesque—I will not face the pain of it all. John gave you to me—he must have done so—it was some compact between you both for the family, and if I did not love you I should hate you now, and want to kill myself. But I love you, I love you, I love you!" and she fiercely clasped her arms once more about his neck. "You must take the consequences of your action. I did not ask to have this complication in my life. John forced it upon me for his own aims, but I have to be reckoned with, and I want my lover, I claim my mate." Her cheeks were flaming and her eyes flashed.

"And your lover wants you," and Denzil wildly returned her fond caress, "but the choice is not left to me, darling, even if you were my wife, not John's. You have forgotten the war—I must go out and fight."

All the warmth and passion died out of her, and she lay back on the pillows of the sofa for a moment and closed her eyes. She had indeed forgotten that ghastly colossus in her absorption in their own two selves.

Yes—he must go out and fight—and John would go too—and they might both be killed like all those gallant partners of the season and her cousin, and those who had fallen at Mons and the battle of the Marne.

No—she must not be so paltry as to think of personal things, even love. She must rise above all selfishness, and not make it harder for her man. Her little face grew resigned and sanctified, and Denzil watching her with burning, longing eyes, waited for her to speak.

"It is true—for the moment nothing but you and my great desire for you was in my mind. But you are right, Denzil; of course, I cannot keep you. Only I am glad that just this once we have tasted a brief moment of happiness, and—Denzil, I believe our souls belong to each other, even if we do not meet again on earth."

And when at last they had parted, and Amaryllis, listening, heard the motor go, she rose from the sofa and went out through the window to the lawn, and so to the church again, and there lay on the steps of the young knight's tomb, sobbing and praying until darkness enveloped the land.


A day or two before Denzil sailed for France he dined with Verisschenzko. The intense preoccupation of the last war preparations had left him very little time for grieving. He was unhappy when he thought of Amaryllis, but he was a man, and another primitive instinct was in action in him—the zest of going out to fight!

Verisschenzko was depressed, his country was not yet giving him the opportunity to fulfil his hopes, and he fretted that he must direct things from so far.

They sat in a quiet corner of the Berkeley and talked in a desultory fashion all through the hors d'ouvres and the soup.

"I am sick of things, Denzil," Verisschenzko said at last. "I feel inclined to end it all sometimes."

"And belie the whole meaning of your whole beliefs. Don't be a fool, Stepan. I always have told you that there is one grain of suicide in the composition of every Russian. Now it has become active with you. Have another glass of champagne, old boy, and then you'll talk sense again. It is sickening to be killed, or maimed, or any beastly thing if it comes along with duty, but to court it is madness pure and simple. It's just rot."

"I'm with you," and he called the waiter and ordered a fine champagne, while he smiled, showing his strong, square teeth.

"They don't have decent vodka—but the brandy will do the trick," and in an instant his mood changed even before the cognac had come.

"It is the lingering trace of some other life of folly, when I talk like that—I know it, Denzil. It is the harking back to long months of gloom and darkness and snow and the howling of wolves and the fear of the knout. This is not my first Russian life, you know!"

"Probably not; but you've had some more balanced intervening ones, or I should have found you dead with veronal, or some other filthy thing before this, with your highly strung nerves! I am not really alarmed about you though, Stepan—you are fundamentally sane."

"I am glad you think that—very few English understand us—"

"Because you don't understand yourselves. You seem to have every quality and fault crammed into your skins with no discrimination as to how to sort them. You are not self-conscious like we are and afraid of looking like fools—so whatever is uppermost bursts out. If one of us had half your brains he would never have said an idiot thing completely contrary to his whole natural bent like that, just because he felt down on his luck for the moment."

Verisschenzko laughed outright.

"Go ahead, Denzil—let off steam! I'm done in!"

"Well, don't be such a damned fool again!"

"I won't—how is my Lady Amaryllis?"

Denzil looked at him keenly.

"Why do you ask?"

"Because she has written to me, and I am going down to see her—"

"Then you know how she is?"

"I guess. Look here, Denzil, do try and be frank with me. You are acquainted with me and know whether I am to be trusted or not. You are aware that I love her with the spirit. You and the worthy husband are off to be killed, and yet just because you are so damned reserved English, you can't bring yourself to do the sensible thing and tell me all about it so that if you go to glory I could look after her rights and—the child's—and take care of her. It is you who are a fool really, not I! Because I get a little drunk with my moods and talk about suicide, that is froth, but I should not bottle up a confidence because it's 'not the thing' to talk about a woman—even though it's for her benefit and protection to do so. I've more common sense. Some difficult questions might crop up later with Ferdinand Ardayre, and I want to have the real truth made plain to myself so that I can crush him. If you've some cards up your sleeve that I don't know of, I can't defend Amaryllis so well."

Denzil put down his knife and fork for a moment; he realised the truth of what his friend said, but it was very difficult for him to speak all the same.

"Tell me what you know, Stepan, and I'll see what I can do. It is not because I don't trust you, but it is against everything in me to talk."

"Convention again, and selfishness. You are thinking more about the Englishman's point of view than the good of the woman you love—because I feel partly from her letter that you do love her and that she loves you—and I surmise that the child is yours, not John's, though how this miracle has been accomplished, since it was clear that you had never seen her until the night at the Carlton, I don't pretend to guess!"

Denzil drank down his champagne, and then he made Verisschenzko understand in a few words—the Russian's imagination filled in the details.

He lit a cigarette between the course and puffed rings of smoke.

"So poor John devised this plan, and yet he loves her—he must indeed be obsessed by the family!"

"He is—he is a frightfully reserved person too, and I am sure has frozen Amaryllis from the first day."

"My idea was always for this, directly I went to Ardayre. I felt that mysterious pull of the family there in that glorious house. I thought she would probably simplify things by just taking you for a lover, when you met, as you are her counterpart—a perfect mate for her. I had even made up my mind to suggest this to her, and influence her as much as I could to this end—but lo! the husband takes the matter out of our hands and devises a really unique accomplishment of our wishes. Gosh! Denzil! it's John who's got the common sense and the genius, not we!"

"Yes, he has—so far, but he did not reckon with human emotion. He might have known that directly I should see Amaryllis I should fall in love with her, and he ought to have understood that that extraordinary thing, nature, might make her draw to me afterwards. Now the situation is tragic, however you look at it. John will have the hell of a life if he comes back; he can't help feeling jealous every time he sees the child, and the tension between him and Amaryllis, now that she knows, will be great. Amaryllis is wretched—she is passionate and vivid as a humming bird. Every hair of her darling head is living and quivering with human power for joy and union, and she will lead the famished life of a nun! I absolutely worship her. I am frantically in love, so my outlook, if I come back is not gay either. I wonder if we did well, after all, John and I, and if the family makes all this suffering worth while? Perhaps it would have been better to leave it to fate!" Denzil sighed and forgot to notice a dish the waiter was handing.

"It is perfectly certain," and Verisschenzko grew contemplative, "that the result of deliberately turning the current of events like that must have some momentous consequence. Mind you, I think you were right. I should have advised it as I have told you, because of that swine of a Turk, Ferdinand—but it may have deranged some plan of the Cosmos, and if so some of you will have to pay for it. I hate that it should be my lady Amaryllis. All her sorrow comes from your dramatically honourable promise. You can't make love to her now—because a man who is a gentleman does not break his word. Now if my plan had been followed, you would not have had this limitation and you could have had some joy—but who knows! A false position is a gall in any case, and it would have soiled my star, which now shines purely. So perhaps all is for the best. But have you analysed, now that we are on the subject, what it is 'being in love,' old boy?"

"It is divine—and it is hell—"

"All that! Amaryllis is the exact opposite to Harietta Boleski—in this, that she attracts as strongly as Harietta could ever do physically, and will be no disappointment in soul in the entre actes. Being in love is a physical state of exaltation; loving is the merging of spirit which in its white heat has glorified the physical instinct for re-creation into a godlike beatitude not of earth. A man could be in love with Harietta, he could never love her. A man could always love Amaryllis, so much that he would not be aware that half his joy was because he was in love with her also."

"You know, Stepan, men, women and every one talk a lot of nonsense about other interests in life mattering more, and there being other kinds of really better happiness, but it is pure rot; if one is honest one owns that there is no real happiness but in the satisfaction of love. Every other kind is second best. It is jolly good often, but only a pis aller in comparison to the real thing.

"And when people deny this, believing they are speaking honestly, it is simply because the real thing has not come their way, or they are too brutalised by transient indulgences to be able to feel exaltation.

"So here's to love!" and Denzil emptied his glass. "The supreme God—"

"Ainsi soit il," and Stepan drank in response. "Our toast before has always been to the Ardayre son, and now we drink to what I hope has been his creator!"

They were silent for some moments, and then Verisschenzko went on:

"When the state of being in love is waning, affection often remains, but then one is at the mercy of a new emotion. I'd be nervous if a woman who had loved me subsided into feeling affection!"

"Then define loving?"

"Loving throbs with delight in the flesh; it thrills the spirit with reverence. It glorifies into beauty commonplace things. It draws nearer in sickness and sorrow, and is not the sport of change. When a woman loves truly she has the passion of the mistress, the selfless tenderness of the mother, the dignity and devotion of the wife. She is all fire and snow, all will and frankness, all passion and reserve, she is authoritative and obedient—queen and child."

"And a man?"

"He ceases to be a brute and becomes a god."

"Can it last, I wonder?" and again Denzil sighed.

"It could if people were not such fools—they nearly always deliberately destroy the loved one's emotion by senseless stupidity—in not grasping the fact that no fire burns without fuel. They disillusionise each other. The joy once secured, they take no pains to keep it. A woman will do things when the lover is an acknowledged possession, which she would not have dreamed of doing while desiring to attract the man—and a man likewise—neither realising that the whole state of being in love is an intoxication of the senses, and that the senses are very easily wearied or affronted."

"Stepan—what am I going to do about Amaryllis? If I come back, it will be hell—a continual longing and aching, and I want to accomplish something in life; it was never my plan to have the whole thing held and bounded by passion for a woman. A hopeless passion I can understand facing and crushing, but one which you know that the woman returns, and that it is only the law and promises you have made which separate you, is the most awful torment." He covered his eyes with his hand for a moment. His face was stern. "And her life too—how sickening. You say you are going down to Ardayre to see Amaryllis—you will tell me how you find her. I have not written—I am trying not to feel."

"Are you interested about the coming child? I am never quite certain how much it matters to a man, whether we deceive ourselves and feel sentiment simply because we love the woman, whether the emotion is half vanity, or whether there is something in the actual state called parenthood? How do you feel?"

Denzil thought of his musings upon this subject after he had seen Amaryllis at the Carlton.

"It is hard to describe," he answered now, "it is all so interwoven with love for Amaryllis that I cannot distinguish which is which, or how I feel about the state in the abstract. Women have these mysterious emotions, I believe, but I do not think that they come to the average man, but if he loves it seems a fulfilment."

"I have two children scattered in Russia, begotten before I had begun to think of things and their meanings. I have them finely educated—I loathe them. I sicken at the memory of the mothers; I am ashamed when I see in them some chance physical likeness to myself. But how will you feel presently when you see the child, adoring the mother as you do? What will it say to you, looking at you with your own eyes, perhaps? You'll long to have some hand in the training of it. You'll desire to watch the budding brain and the expanding soul. You'll be drawn closer and closer to Amaryllis—it will all pull you with an invisible nature chain—"

"I know it,—that is the tragedy of the whole thing. Those delights will be John's—and I hate to think that Amaryllis will be alone for all these months—and yet I believe I would prefer that to her being with John. I am jealous when I remember that he has rights denied to me—so what must he feel, poor devil, when he remembers about me?"

"It is quite a peculiar situation. I wonder what the years will develop it into."

"If the child is a girl, the whole thing is in vain."

"It won't be a girl—you will see I am right. When will you and John get leave, do you suppose?"

"I don't know, but about Christmas, perhaps, if we are alive—"

"Do you want to see her again, then?"

"I long always to see her—but by Christmas—it would be nearly five months. I don't think I could keep my word and not make love to her—if I saw her—then."

"You will wish to hear about her—?"


After this they were both silent while the cheese was being removed. Verisschenzko was thinking profoundly. Here was a study worthy of his highest intuitive faculties. What possible solution could the future hold? Only one—that of death for either of the men concerned. Well, death was busy with England's best—it was no unlikely possibility—and as he looked at Denzil he felt a stab of pain. Nothing more splendid and living and strong could be imagined than his six foot one of manhood, crowned with the health of his twenty-nine years.

"I hope to God he comes through," he prayed. And then he became cynical, as was his habit, when he found himself moved.

"I am on the track of Harietta, Denzil. She has a new lover—Ferdinand Ardayre."

"What a combination!"

"Yes, but who the officer was at the Ardayre ball I cannot yet trace. Stanislass is quite a gaga—he spends his time packed off to play piquet at the St. James'—he has no bosse des cartes,—it is his burdensome duty."

"He does not feel the war?"

"He is numb."

"What will you do if you catch her red-handed?"

"I shall have her shot without a moment's compunction. It would be a fitting end."

"I don't know that I should have the nerve to shoot a woman—even a spy."

Verisschenzko laughed, and a savage light grew in his Calmuck eyes.

"My want of civilisation will serve me—if ever that moment comes."

Then their talk turned to fighting, and women were forgotten for the time.


Amaryllis came up to London the following week to say good-bye to John, so Verisschenzko did not go down to Ardayre to see her.

John's leave-taking was characteristic. He could not break through the iron band of his reserve, he longed to say something loving to her, but the more deeply he felt things the greater was his difficulty in self-expression. And the knowledge of the secret he hid in his heart made him still more ill at ease with Amaryllis. She too was changed—he felt it at once. Her grey eyes were mysterious—they had grown from a girl's into a woman's. She did not mention the coming child until he did—and then it was she who showed desire to change the conversation. All this pained John, while he felt that he himself was the cause—he knew that he had frozen her. He thought over his marriage from the beginning. He thought of the night when he had sat on the bench outside her window until dawn, of the agony he suffered, realising at last that the axe had indeed fallen, and that some day she must know the truth. And would she reproach him and say that he should have warned her that this possibility might occur? He remembered his talk with Lemon Bridges. He had been going to give him a definite answer that morning, but John had missed the appointment, so they spoke at the ball.

Would it have been better if he had let himself go and fondly kissed and netted Amaryllis? Or would that have been misleading and still more unkind? It was too late now, in any case. He must learn to take the only satisfaction which was left to him, the knowledge that there was the hope of a true Ardayre to carry on.

He talked long to his wife of his desires for the child's education, should it prove a boy, and he should not return, and Amaryllis listened dutifully.

Her mind was filled with wonder all the time. She had been through much emotion since the passionate outburst after Denzil had gone, but was quite calm now. She had classified things in her mind. She felt no resentment against John. He ought not to have married her perhaps, but it might be that at the time he did not know. Only she wondered when she looked at him sitting opposite her, talking gravely about the baby, in the library of Brook Street, how he could possibly be feeling. What an immense influence the thought of the family must have in his life. She understood it in a great measure herself. She remembered Verisschenzko's words upon the occasions when he had spoken to her about it, and of her duties towards it, and how she must uphold it. She particularly remembered that which he had said when they walked by the lake, and he had seemed to be transmitting some message to her, which she had not understood at the time. Did Verisschenzko know then that John must always be heirless and had he been suggesting to her that the line should go on through her? Some of the pride in it all had come to her before she had left the dark church after parting with Denzil. Perhaps she was fulfilling destiny. She must not be angry with John. She did not try to cease from loving Denzil. She had not knowingly been unfaithful to John—and now, she would be faithful to Denzil, he was her love and her mate. Indeed, even in the fortnight which elapsed between her farewell to him, and now when she was going to say farewell to John, she had many months of tender consolation in the thought of the baby—Denzil's son. She could revive and revel in that exquisite exaltation which she had experienced at first and which John had withered. Denzil far surpassed even the imagined lover into which she had turned John. So now Denzil had become the reality, and John the dream.

She felt sorry for her husband too. She was fine enough to understand and divine his difficulties.

She found that she felt just nothing for him but a kindly affection. He might have been Archie de la Paule—or any of her other cousins. She knew that her whole being was given to Denzil—who represented her dream.

She tried to be very kind to John, and when he kissed her before starting, the tears came to her eyes.

Poor good, cold John!

And when he had departed—all the de la Paule family had been there at Brook Street also—Lady de la Paule wondered at her niece's set face. But what a mercy it was the marriage was such a success after all and that there might be a son!

So both Denzil and John went to the war—and Amaryllis was alone. Verisschenzko had returned to Paris without seeing her—and it was the beginning of December before he was in England again and rang her up at Brook Street where she had returned for a week, asking if he might call.

"Of course!" she said, and so he came.

The library was looking its best. Amaryllis had a knack of arranging flowers and cushions and such things—her rooms always breathed an air of home and repose, and Verisschenzko was struck by the sweet scent and the warmth and cosiness when he came in out of the gloomy fog.

She rose to greet him, her face more ethereal still than when he had dined with her.

"You are looking like an angel," he said, when she had given him some tea and they were seated on the big sofa before the fire. "What have you to tell me? I know that you are going to have a child; I am very interested about it all."

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