vorhänge wohnzimmer landhaus
howards end by e. m. forsterchapter 22 margaret greeted her lord with peculiartenderness on the morrow. mature as he was, she might yet be able tohelp him to the building of the rainbow bridge that should connect the prose in uswith the passion. without it we are meaningless fragments,half monks, half beasts, unconnected arches that have never joined into a man. with it love is born, and alights on thehighest curve, glowing against the grey, sober against the fire.happy the man who sees from either aspect the glory of these outspread wings.
the roads of his soul lie clear, and he andhis friends shall find easy-going. it was hard-going in the roads of mr.wilcox's soul. from boyhood he had neglected them. "i am not a fellow who bothers about my owninside." outwardly he was cheerful, reliable, andbrave; but within, all had reverted to chaos, ruled, so far as it was ruled atall, by an incomplete asceticism. whether as boy, husband, or widower, he hadalways the sneaking belief that bodily passion is bad, a belief that is desirableonly when held passionately. religion had confirmed him.
the words that were read aloud on sunday tohim and to other respectable men were the words that had once kindled the souls ofst. catharine and st. francis into a white- hot hatred of the carnal. he could-not be as the saints and love theinfinite with a seraphic ardour, but he could be a little ashamed of loving a wife."amabat, amare timebat." and it was here that margaret hoped to helphim. it did not seem so difficult.she need trouble him with no gift of her own. she would only point out the salvation thatwas latent in his own soul, and in the soul
of every man.only connect! that was the whole of her sermon. only connect the prose and the passion, andboth will be exalted, and human love will be seen at its height.live in fragments no longer. only connect, and the beast and the monk,robbed of the isolation that is life to either, will die.nor was the message difficult to give. it need not take the form of a good"talking." by quiet indications the bridge would bebuilt and span their lives with beauty. but she failed.
for there was one quality in henry forwhich she was never prepared, however much she reminded herself of it: his obtuseness.he simply did not notice things, and there was no more to be said. he never noticed that helen and frieda werehostile, or that tibby was not interested in currant plantations; he never noticedthe lights and shades that exist in the grayest conversation, the finger-posts, the milestones, the collisions, the illimitableviews. once--on another occasion--she scolded himabout it. he was puzzled, but replied with a laugh:"my motto is concentrate.
i've no intention of frittering away mystrength on that sort of thing." "it isn't frittering away the strength,"she protested. "it's enlarging the space in which you maybe strong." he answered: "you're a clever little woman,but my motto's concentrate." and this morning he concentrated with avengeance. they met in the rhododendrons of yesterday. in the daylight the bushes wereinconsiderable and the path was bright in the morning sun.she was with helen, who had been ominously quiet since the affair was settled.
"here we all are!" she cried, and took himby one hand, retaining her sister's in the other."here we are. good-morning, helen." helen replied, "good-morning, mr. wilcox.""henry, she has had such a nice letter from the queer, cross boy--do you remember him?he had a sad moustache, but the back of his head was young." "i have had a letter too.not a nice one--i want to talk it over with you:" for leonard bast was nothing to himnow that she had given him her word; the triangle of sex was broken for ever.
"thanks to your hint, he's clearing out ofthe porphyrion." "not a bad business that porphyrion," hesaid absently, as he took his own letter out of his pocket. "not a bad--" she exclaimed, dropping hishand. "surely, on chelsea embankment--""here's our hostess. good-morning, mrs. munt. fine rhododendrons.good morning, frau liesecke; we manage to grow flowers in england, don't we?""not a bad business?" "no. my letter's about howards end.
bryce has been ordered abroad, and wants tosublet it. i am far from sure that i shall give himpermission. there was no clause in the agreement. in my opinion, subletting is a mistake.if he can find me another tenant, whom i consider suitable, i may cancel theagreement. morning, schlegel. don't you think that's better thansubletting?" helen had dropped her hand now, and he hadsteered her past the whole party to the seaward side of the house.
beneath them was the bourgeois little bay,which must have yearned all through the centuries for just such a watering-place asswanage to be built on its margin. the waves were colourless, and thebournemouth steamer gave a further touch of insipidity, drawn up against the pier andhooting wildly for excursionists. "when there is a sublet i find that damage--" "do excuse me, but about the porphyrion.i don't feel easy--might i just bother you, henry?" her manner was so serious that he stopped,and asked her a little sharply what she wanted.
"you said on chelsea embankment, surely,that it was a bad concern, so we advised this clerk to clear out. he writes this morning that he's taken ouradvice, and now you say it's not a bad concern." "a clerk who clears out of any concern,good or bad, without securing a berth somewhere else first, is a fool, and i'veno pity for him." "he has not done that. he's going into a bank in camden town, hesays. the salary's much lower, but he hopes tomanage--a branch of dempster's bank.
is that all right?" "dempster!my goodness me, yes." "more right than the porphyrion?""yes, yes, yes; safe as houses--safer." "very many thanks. i'm sorry--if you sublet--?""if he sublets, i shan't have the same control. in theory there should be no more damagedone at howards end; in practice there will be.things may be done for which no money can compensate.
for instance, i shouldn't want that finewych-elm spoilt. it hangs--margaret, we must go and see theold place some time. it's pretty in its way. we'll motor down and have lunch withcharles." "i should enjoy that," said margaretbravely. "what about next wednesday?" "wednesday?no, i couldn't well do that. aunt juley expects us to stop here anotherweek at least." "but you can give that up now."
"er--no," said margaret, after a moment'sthought. "oh, that'll be all right.i'll speak to her." "this visit is a high solemnity. my aunt counts on it year after year.she turns the house upside down for us; she invites our special friends--she scarcelyknows frieda, and we can't leave her on her hands. i missed one day, and she would be so hurtif i didn't stay the full ten." "but i'll say a word to her.don't you bother." "henry, i won't go.
don't bully me.""you want to see the house, though?" "very much--i've heard so much about it,one way or the other. aren't there pigs' teeth in the wych-elm?" "pigs' teeth?""and you chew the bark for toothache." "what a rum notion!of course not!" "perhaps i have confused it with some othertree. there are still a great number of sacredtrees in england, it seems." but he left her to intercept mrs. munt,whose voice could be heard in the distance: to be intercepted himself by helen.
"oh, mr. wilcox, about the porphyrion--"she began, and went scarlet all over her face."it's all right," called margaret, catching them up. "dempster's bank's better.""but i think you told us the porphyrion was bad, and would smash before christmas.""did i? it was still outside the tariff ring, andhad to take rotten policies. lately it came in--safe as houses now.""in other words, mr. bast need never have left it." "no, the fellow needn't.""--and needn't have started life elsewhere
at a greatly reduced salary.""he only says 'reduced,'" corrected margaret, seeing trouble ahead. "with a man so poor, every reduction mustbe great. i consider it a deplorable misfortune." mr. wilcox, intent on his business withmrs. munt, was going steadily on, but the last remark made him say: "what?what's that? do you mean that i'm responsible?" "you're ridiculous, helen.""you seem to think--" he looked at his watch."let me explain the point to you.
it is like this. you seem to assume, when a business concernis conducting a delicate negotiation, it ought to keep the public informed stage bystage. the porphyrion, according to you, was boundto say, 'i am trying all i can to get into the tariff ring. i am not sure that i shall succeed, but itis the only thing that will save me from insolvency, and i am trying.'my dear helen--" "is that your point? a man who had little money has less--that'smine."
"i am grieved for your clerk.but it is all in the day's work. it's part of the battle of life." "a man who had little money," she repeated,"has less, owing to us. under these circumstances i do not consider'the battle of life' a happy expression." "oh come, come!" he protested pleasantly. "you're not to blame.no one's to blame." "is no one to blame for anything?""i wouldn't say that, but you're taking it far too seriously. who is this fellow?""we have told you about the fellow twice
already," said helen."you have even met the fellow. he is very poor and his wife is anextravagant imbecile. he is capable of better things. we--we, the upper classes--thought we wouldhelp him from the height of our superior knowledge--and here's the result!"he raised his finger. "now, a word of advice." "i require no more advice.""a word of advice. don't take up that sentimental attitudeover the poor. see that she doesn't, margaret.
the poor are poor, and one's sorry forthem, but there it is. as civilization moves forward, the shoe isbound to pinch in places, and it's absurd to pretend that anyone is responsiblepersonally. neither you, nor i, nor my informant, northe man who informed him, nor the directors of the porphyrion, are to blame for thisclerk's loss of salary. it's just the shoe pinching--no one canhelp it; and it might easily have been worse."helen quivered with indignation. "by all means subscribe to charities--subscribe to them largely--but don't get carried away by absurd schemes of socialreform.
i see a good deal behind the scenes, andyou can take it from me that there is no social question--except for a fewjournalists who try to get a living out of the phrase. there are just rich and poor, as therealways have been and always will be. point me out a time when men have beenequal--" "i didn't say--" "point me out a time when desire forequality has made them happier. no, no.you can't. there always have been rich and poor.
i'm no fatalist.heaven forbid! but our civilization is moulded by greatimpersonal forces" (his voice grew complacent; it always did when heeliminated the personal), "and there always will be rich and poor. you can't deny it" (and now it was arespectful voice)--"and you can't deny that, in spite of all, the tendency ofcivilization has on the whole been upward." "owing to god, i suppose," flashed helen. he stared at her."you grab the dollars. god does the rest."
it was no good instructing the girl if shewas going to talk about god in that neurotic modern way.fraternal to the last, he left her for the quieter company of mrs. munt. he thought, "she rather reminds me ofdolly." helen looked out at the sea."don't even discuss political economy with henry," advised her sister. "it'll only end in a cry.""but he must be one of those men who have reconciled science with religion," saidhelen slowly. "i don't like those men.
they are scientific themselves, and talk ofthe survival of the fittest, and cut down the salaries of their clerks, and stunt theindependence of all who may menace their comfort, but yet they believe that somehow good--and it is always that sloppy'somehow'--will be the outcome, and that in some mystical way the mr. basts of thefuture will benefit because the mr. basts of today are in pain." "he is such a man in theory.but oh, helen, in theory!" "but oh, meg, what a theory!""why should you put things so bitterly, dearie?"
"because i'm an old maid," said helen,biting her lip. "i can't think why i go on like thismyself." she shook off her sister's hand and wentinto the house. margaret, distressed at the day'sbeginning, followed the bournemouth steamer with her eyes. she saw that helen's nerves wereexasperated by the unlucky bast business beyond the bounds of politeness.there might at any minute be a real explosion, which even henry would notice. henry must be removed."margaret!" her aunt called.
"magsy! it isn't true, surely, what mr. wilcoxsays, that you want to go away early next week?" "not 'want,'" was margaret's prompt reply;"but there is so much to be settled, and i do want to see the charles'." "but going away without taking the weymouthtrip, or even the lulworth?" said mrs. munt, coming nearer."without going once more up nine barrows down?" "i'm afraid so."mr. wilcox rejoined her with, "good!
i did the breaking of the ice."a wave of tenderness came over her. she put a hand on either shoulder, andlooked deeply into the black, bright eyes. what was behind their competent stare?she knew, but was not disquieted. > howards end by e. m. forsterchapter 23 margaret had no intention of letting thingsslide, and the evening before she left swanage she gave her sister a thoroughscolding. she censured her, not for disapproving ofthe engagement, but for throwing over her disapproval a veil of mystery.helen was equally frank.
"yes," she said, with the air of onelooking inwards, "there is a mystery. i can't help it.it's not my fault. it's the way life has been made." helen in those days was over-interested inthe subconscious self. she exaggerated the punch and judy aspectof life, and spoke of mankind as puppets, whom an invisible showman twitches intolove and war. margaret pointed out that if she dwelt onthis she, too, would eliminate the personal. helen was silent for a minute, and thenburst into a queer speech, which cleared
the air."go on and marry him. i think you're splendid; and if anyone canpull it off, you will." margaret denied that there was anything to"pull off," but she continued: "yes, there is, and i wasn't up to it with paul. i can only do what's easy.i can only entice and be enticed. i can't, and won't attempt difficultrelations. if i marry, it will either be a man who'sstrong enough to boss me or whom i'm strong enough to boss.so i shan't ever marry, for there aren't such men.
and heaven help any one whom i do marry,for i shall certainly run away from him before you can say 'jack robinson.'there! because i'm uneducated. but you, you're different; you're aheroine." "oh, helen!am i? will it be as dreadful for poor henry asall that?" "you mean to keep proportion, and that'sheroic, it's greek, and i don't see why it shouldn't succeed with you. go on and fight with him and help him.don't ask me for help, or even for
sympathy.henceforward i'm going my own way. i mean to be thorough, because thoroughnessis easy. i mean to dislike your husband, and to tellhim so. i mean to make no concessions to tibby. if tibby wants to live with me, he mustlump me. i mean to love you more than ever.yes, i do. you and i have built up something real,because it is purely spiritual. there's no veil of mystery over us.unreality and mystery begin as soon as one touches the body.
the popular view is, as usual, exactly thewrong one. our bothers are over tangible things--money, husbands, house-hunting. but heaven will work of itself." margaret was grateful for this expressionof affection, and answered, "perhaps." all vistas close in the unseen--no onedoubts it--but helen closed them rather too quickly for her taste. at every turn of speech one was confrontedwith reality and the absolute. perhaps margaret grew too old formetaphysics, perhaps henry was weaning her from them, but she felt that there wassomething a little unbalanced in the mind
that so readily shreds the visible. the business man who assumes that this lifeis everything, and the mystic who asserts that it is nothing, fail, on this side andon that, to hit the truth. "yes, i see, dear; it's about halfwaybetween," aunt juley had hazarded in earlier years.no; truth, being alive, was not halfway between anything. it was only to be found by continuousexcursions into either realm, and though proportion is the final secret, to espouseit at the outset is to insure sterility. helen, agreeing here, disagreeing there,would have talked till midnight, but
margaret, with her packing to do, focussedthe conversation on henry. she might abuse henry behind his back, butplease would she always, be civil to him in company?"i definitely dislike him, but i'll do what i can," promised helen. "do what you can with my friends inreturn." this conversation made margaret easier. their inner life was so safe that theycould bargain over externals in a way that would have been incredible to aunt juley,and impossible for tibby or charles. there are moments when the inner lifeactually "pays," when years of self-
scrutiny, conducted for no ulterior motive,are suddenly of practical use. such moments are still rare in the west;that they come at all promises a fairer future. margaret, though unable to understand hersister, was assured against estrangement, and returned to london with a more peacefulmind. the following morning, at eleven o'clock,she presented herself at the offices of the imperial and west african rubber company. she was glad to go there, for henry hadimplied his business rather than described it, and the formlessness and vagueness thatone associates with africa had hitherto
brooded over the main sources of hiswealth. not that a visit to the office clearedthings up. there was just the ordinary surface scum ofledgers and polished counters and brass bars that began and stopped for no possiblereason, of electric-light globes blossoming in triplets, of little rabbit hutches facedwith glass or wire, of little rabbits. and even when she penetrated to the innerdepths, she found only the ordinary table and turkey carpet, and though the map overthe fireplace did depict a helping of west africa, it was a very ordinary map. another map hung opposite, on which thewhole continent appeared, looking like a
whale marked out for blubber, and by itsside was a door, shut, but henry's voice came through it, dictating a "strong"letter. she might have been at the porphyrion, ordempster's bank, or her own wine- merchant's. everything seems just alike in these days.but perhaps she was seeing the imperial side of the company rather than its westafrican, and imperialism always had been one of her difficulties. "one minute!" called mr. wilcox onreceiving her name. he touched a bell, the effect of which wasto produce charles.
charles had written his father an adequateletter--more adequate than evie's, through which a girlish indignation throbbed.and he greeted his future stepmother with propriety. "i hope that my wife--how do you do?--will give you a decent lunch," was his opening."i left instructions, but we live in a rough-and-ready way. she expects you back to tea, too, after youhave had a look at howards end. i wonder what you'll think of the place.i wouldn't touch it with tongs myself. do sit down!
it's a measly little place.""i shall enjoy seeing it," said margaret, feeling, for the first time, shy. "you'll see it at its worst, for brycedecamped abroad last monday without even arranging for a charwoman to clear up afterhim. i never saw such a disgraceful mess. it's unbelievable.he wasn't in the house a month." "i've more than a little bone to pick withbryce," called henry from the inner chamber. "why did he go so suddenly?""invalid type; couldn't sleep."
"poor fellow!""poor fiddlesticks!" said mr. wilcox, joining them. "he had the impudence to put up notice-boards without as much as saying with your leave or by your leave.charles flung them down." "yes, i flung them down," said charlesmodestly. "i've sent a telegram after him, and apretty sharp one, too. he, and he in person is responsible for theupkeep of that house for the next three years.""the keys are at the farm; we wouldn't have the keys."
"quite right.""dolly would have taken them, but i was in, fortunately.""what's mr. bryce like?" asked margaret. but nobody cared. mr. bryce was the tenant, who had no rightto sublet; to have defined him further was a waste of time. on his misdeeds they descanted profusely,until the girl who had been typing the strong letter came out with it.mr. wilcox added his signature. "now we'll be off," said he. a motor-drive, a form of felicity detestedby margaret, awaited her.
charles saw them in, civil to the last, andin a moment the offices of the imperial and west african rubber company faded away. but it was not an impressive drive.perhaps the weather was to blame, being grey and banked high with weary clouds.perhaps hertfordshire is scarcely intended for motorists. did not a gentleman once motor so quicklythrough westmoreland that he missed it? and if westmoreland can be missed, it will fareill with a county whose delicate structure particularly needs the attentive eye. hertfordshire is england at its quietest,with little emphasis of river and hill; it
is england meditative. if drayton were with us again to write anew edition of his incomparable poem, he would sing the nymphs of hertfordshire asindeterminate of feature, with hair obfuscated by the london smoke. their eyes would be sad, and averted fromtheir fate towards the northern flats, their leader not isis or sabrina, but theslowly flowing lea. no glory of raiment would be theirs, nourgency of dance; but they would be real nymphs. the chauffeur could not travel as quicklyas he had hoped, for the great north road
was full of easter traffic. but he went quite quick enough formargaret, a poor-spirited creature, who had chickens and children on the brain."they're all right," said mr. wilcox. "they'll learn--like the swallows and thetelegraph-wires." "yes, but, while they're learning--""the motor's come to stay," he answered. "one must get about. there's a pretty church--oh, you aren'tsharp enough. well, look out, if the road worries you--right outward at the scenery." she looked at the scenery.
it heaved and merged like porridge.presently it congealed. they had arrived.charles's house on the left; on the right the swelling forms of the six hills. their appearance in such a neighbourhoodsurprised her. they interrupted the stream of residencesthat was thickening up towards hilton. beyond them she saw meadows and a wood, andbeneath them she settled that soldiers of the best kind lay buried.she hated war and liked soldiers--it was one of her amiable inconsistencies. but here was dolly, dressed up to thenines, standing at the door to greet them,
and here were the first drops of the rain. they ran in gaily, and after a long wait inthe drawing-room sat down to the rough-and- ready lunch, every dish in which concealedor exuded cream. mr. bryce was the chief topic ofconversation. dolly described his visit with the key,while her father-in-law gave satisfaction by chaffing her and contradicting all shesaid. it was evidently the custom to laugh atdolly. he chaffed margaret, too, and margaret,roused from a grave meditation, was pleased, and chaffed him back.
dolly seemed surprised, and eyed hercuriously. after lunch the two children came down. margaret disliked babies, but hit it offbetter with the two-year-old, and sent dolly into fits of laughter by talkingsense to him. "kiss them now, and come away," said mr.wilcox. she came, but refused to kiss them: it wassuch hard luck on the little things, she said, and though dolly proffered chorly-worly and porgly-woggles in turn, she was obdurate. by this time it was raining steadily.the car came round with the hood up, and
again she lost all sense of space.in a few minutes they stopped, and crane opened the door of the car. "what's happened?" asked margaret."what do you suppose?" said henry. a little porch was close up against herface. "are we there already?" "we are.""well, i never! in years ago it seemed so far away." smiling, but somehow disillusioned, shejumped out, and her impetus carried her to the front-door.she was about to open it, when henry said:
"that's no good; it's locked. who's got the key?"as he had himself forgotten to call for the key at the farm, no one replied. he also wanted to know who had left thefront gate open, since a cow had strayed in from the road, and was spoiling the croquetlawn. then he said rather crossly: "margaret, youwait in the dry. i'll go down for the key.it isn't a hundred yards. "mayn't i come too?" "no; i shall be back before i'm gone."then the car turned away, and it was as if
a curtain had risen.for the second time that day she saw the appearance of the earth. there were the greengage-trees that helenhad once described, there the tennis lawn, there the hedge that would be glorious withdog-roses in june, but the vision now was of black and palest green. down by the dell-hole more vivid colourswere awakening, and lent lilies stood sentinel on its margin, or advanced inbattalions over the grass. tulips were a tray of jewels. she could not see the wych-elm tree, but abranch of the celebrated vine, studded with
velvet knobs, had covered the porch. she was struck by the fertility of thesoil; she had seldom been in a garden where the flowers looked so well, and even theweeds she was idly plucking out of the porch were intensely green. why had poor mr. bryce fled from all thisbeauty? for she had already decided that the placewas beautiful. "naughty cow! go away!" cried margaret to the cow, butwithout indignation. harder came the rain, pouring out of awindless sky, and spattering up from the
notice-boards of the house-agents, whichlay in a row on the lawn where charles had hurled them. she must have interviewed charles inanother world--where one did have interviews.how helen would revel in such a notion! charles dead, all people dead, nothingalive but houses and gardens. the obvious dead, the intangible alive,and--no connection at all between them! margaret smiled. would that her own fancies were as clear-cut! would that she could deal as high-handedlywith the world!
smiling and sighing, she laid her hand uponthe door. it opened.the house was not locked up at all. she hesitated. ought she to wait for henry?he felt strongly about property, and might prefer to show her over himself. on the other hand, he had told her to keepin the dry, and the porch was beginning to drip.so she went in, and the drought from inside slammed the door behind. desolation greeted her.dirty finger-prints were on the hall-
windows, flue and rubbish on its unwashedboards. the civilization of luggage had been herefor a month, and then decamped. dining-room and drawing room--right andleft--were guessed only by their wall- papers. they were just rooms where one couldshelter from the rain. across the ceiling of each ran a greatbeam. the dining-room and hall revealed theirsopenly, but the drawing-room's was match- boarded--because the facts of life must beconcealed from ladies? drawing-room, dining-room, and hall--howpetty the names sounded!
here were simply three rooms where childrencould play and friends shelter from the rain. yes, and they were beautiful.then she opened one of the doors opposite-- there were two--and exchanged wall-papersfor whitewash. it was the servants' part, though shescarcely realized that: just rooms again, where friends might shelter.the garden at the back was full of flowering cherries and plums. farther on were hints of the meadow and ablack cliff of pines. yes, the meadow was beautiful.
penned in by the desolate weather, sherecaptured the sense of space which the motor had tried to rob from her. she remembered again that ten square milesare not ten times as wonderful as one square mile, that a thousand square milesare not practically the same as heaven. the phantom of bigness, which londonencourages, was laid for ever when she paced from the hall at howards end to itskitchen and heard the rains run this way and that where the watershed of the roofdivided them. now helen came to her mind, scrutinizinghalf wessex from the ridge of the purbeck downs, and saying: "you will have to losesomething."
she was not so sure. for instance, she would double her kingdomby opening the door that concealed the stairs. now she thought of the map of africa; ofempires; of her father; of the two supreme nations, streams of whose life warmed herblood, but, mingling, had cooled her brain. she paced back into the hall, and as shedid so the house reverberated. "is that you, henry?" she called.there was no answer, but the house reverberated again. "henry, have you got in?"but it was the heart of the house beating,
faintly at first, then loudly, martially.it dominated the rain. it is the starved imagination, not thewell-nourished, that is afraid. margaret flung open the door to the stairs.a noise as of drums seemed to deafen her. a woman, an old woman, was descending, withfigure erect, with face impassive, with lips that parted and said dryly:"oh! well, i took you for ruth wilcox." margaret stammered: "i--mrs. wilcox--i?" "in fancy, of course--in fancy.you had her way of walking. good-day."and the old woman passed out into the rain. howards end by e. m. forsterchapter 24
"it gave her quite a turn," said mr.wilcox, when retailing the incident to dolly at tea-time."none of you girls have any nerves, really. of course, a word from me put it all right,but silly old miss avery--she frightened you, didn't she, margaret?there you stood clutching a bunch of weeds. she might have said something, instead ofcoming down the stairs with that alarming bonnet on.i passed her as i came in. enough to make the car shy. i believe miss avery goes in for being acharacter; some old maids do." he lit a cigarette."it is their last resource.
heaven knows what she was doing in theplace; but that's bryce's business, not mine.""i wasn't as foolish as you suggest," said margaret. "she only startled me, for the house hadbeen silent so long." "did you take her for a spook?" askeddolly, for whom "spooks" and "going to church" summarized the unseen. "not exactly.""she really did frighten you," said henry, who was far from discouraging timidity infemales. "poor margaret!
and very naturally.uneducated classes are so stupid." "is miss avery uneducated classes?" margaret asked, and found herself lookingat the decoration scheme of dolly's drawing-room."she's just one of the crew at the farm. people like that always assume things. she assumed you'd know who she was. she left all the howards end keys in thefront lobby, and assumed that you'd seen them as you came in, that you'd lock up thehouse when you'd done, and would bring them on down to her.
and there was her niece hunting for themdown at the farm. lack of education makes people very casual.hilton was full of women like miss avery once." "i shouldn't have disliked it, perhaps.""or miss avery giving me a wedding present," said dolly.which was illogical but interesting. through dolly, margaret was destined tolearn a good deal. "but charles said i must try not to mind,because she had known his grandmother." "as usual, you've got the story wrong, mygood dorothea." "i mean great-grandmother--the one who leftmrs. wilcox the house.
weren't both of them and miss avery friendswhen howards end, too, was a farm?" her father-in-law blew out a shaft ofsmoke. his attitude to his dead wife was curious. he would allude to her, and hear herdiscussed, but never mentioned her by name. nor was he interested in the dim, bucolicpast. dolly was--for the following reason. "then hadn't mrs. wilcox a brother--or wasit an uncle? anyhow, he popped the question, and missavery, she said 'no.' just imagine, if she'd said 'yes,' shewould have been charles's aunt.
(oh, i say,--that's rather good!'charlie's aunt'! i must chaff him about that this evening.) and the man went out and was killed.yes, i'm certain i've got it right now. tom howard--he was the last of them.""i believe so," said mr. wilcox negligently. "i say!howards end--howard's ended!" cried dolly. "i'm rather on the spot this evening, eh?""i wish you'd ask whether crane's ended." "oh, mr. wilcox, how can you?" "because, if he has had enough tea, weought to go.--dolly's a good little woman,"
he continued, "but a little of her goes along way. i couldn't live near her if you paid me." margaret smiled.though presenting a firm front to outsiders, no wilcox could live near, ornear the possessions of, any other wilcox. they had the colonial spirit, and werealways making for some spot where the white man might carry his burden unobserved. of course, howards end was impossible, solong as the younger couple were established in hilton.his objections to the house were plain as daylight now.
crane had had enough tea, and was sent tothe garage, where their car had been trickling muddy water over charles's. the downpour had surely penetrated the sixhills by now, bringing news of our restless civilization."curious mounds," said, henry, "but in with you now; another time." he had to be up in london by seven--ifpossible, by six-thirty. once more she lost the sense of space; oncemore trees, houses, people, animals, hills, merged and heaved into one dirtiness, andshe was at wickham place. her evening was pleasant.
the sense of flux which had haunted her allthe year disappeared for a time. she forgot the luggage and the motor-cars,and the hurrying men who know so much and connect so little. she recaptured the sense of space, which isthe basis of all earthly beauty, and, starting from howards end, she attempted torealize england. she failed--visions do not come when wetry, though they may come through trying. but an unexpected love of the island awokein her, connecting on this side with the joys of the flesh, on that with theinconceivable. helen and her father had known this love,poor leonard bast was groping after it, but
it had been hidden from margaret till thisafternoon. it had certainly come through the house andold miss avery. through them: the notion of "through"persisted; her mind trembled towards a conclusion which only the unwise have putinto words. then, veering back into warmth, it dwelt onruddy bricks, flowering plum-trees, and all the tangible joys of, spring. henry, after allaying her agitation, hadtaken her over his property, and had explained to her the use and dimensions ofthe various rooms. he had sketched the history of the littleestate.
"it is so unlucky," ran the monologue,"that money wasn't put into it about fifty years ago. then it had four--five-times the land--thirty acres at least. one could have made something out of itthen--a small park, or at all events shrubberies, and rebuilt the house fartheraway from the road. what's the good of taking it in hand now? nothing but the meadow left, and even thatwas heavily mortgaged when i first had to do with things--yes, and the house too.oh, it was no joke." she saw two women as he spoke, one old, theother young, watching their inheritance
melt away.she saw them greet him as a deliverer. "mismanagement did it--besides, the daysfor small farms are over. it doesn't pay--except with intensivecultivation. small holdings, back to the land--ah!philanthropic bunkum. take it as a rule that nothing pays on asmall scale. most of the land you see (they werestanding at an upper window, the only one which faced west) belongs to the people atthe park--they made their pile over copper- -good chaps. avery's farm, sishe's--what they call thecommon, where you see that ruined oak--one
after the other fell in, and so did this,as near as is no matter. "but henry had saved it; without finefeelings or deep insight, but he had saved it, and she loved him for the deed. "when i had more control i did what icould: sold off the two and a half animals, and the mangy pony, and the superannuatedtools; pulled down the outhouses; drained; thinned out i don't know how many guelder- roses and elder-trees; and inside the housei turned the old kitchen into a hall, and made a kitchen behind where the dairy was.garage and so on came later. but one could still tell it's been an oldfarm.
and yet it isn't the place that would fetchone of your artistic crew." no, it wasn't; and if he did not quiteunderstand it, the artistic crew would still less: it was english, and the wych-elm that she saw from the window was an english tree. no report had prepared her for its peculiarglory. it was neither warrior, nor lover, nor god;in none of these roles do the english excel. it was a comrade, bending over the house,strength and adventure in its roots, but in its utmost fingers tenderness, and thegirth, that a dozen men could not have
spanned, became in the end evanescent, till pale bud clusters seemed to float in theair. it was a comrade.house and tree transcended any similes of sex. margaret thought of them now, and was tothink of them through many a windy night and london day, but to compare either toman, to woman, always dwarfed the vision. yet they kept within limits of the human. their message was not of eternity, but ofhope on this side of the grave. as she stood in the one, gazing at theother, truer relationship had gleamed.
another touch, and the account of her dayis finished. they entered the garden for a minute, andto mr. wilcox's surprise she was right. teeth, pigs' teeth, could be seen in thebark of the wych-elm tree--just the white tips of them showing."extraordinary!" he cried. "who told you?" "i heard of it one winter in london," washer answer, for she, too, avoided mentioning mrs. wilcox by name. howards end by e. m. forsterchapter 25 evie heard of her father's engagement whenshe was in for a tennis tournament, and her
play went simply to pot. that she should marry and leave him hadseemed natural enough; that he, left alone, should do the same was deceitful; and nowcharles and dolly said that it was all her fault. "but i never dreamt of such a thing," shegrumbled. "dad took me to call now and then, and mademe ask her to simpson's. well, i'm altogether off dad." it was also an insult to their mother'smemory; there they were agreed, and evie had the idea of returning mrs. wilcox'slace and jewellery "as a protest."
against what it would protest she was notclear; but being only eighteen, the idea of renunciation appealed to her, the more asshe did not care for jewellery or lace. dolly then suggested that she and unclepercy should pretend to break off their engagement, and then perhaps mr. wilcoxwould quarrel with miss schlegel, and break off his; or paul might be cabled for. but at this point charles told them not totalk nonsense. so evie settled to marry as soon aspossible; it was no good hanging about with these schlegels eyeing her. the date of her wedding was consequentlyput forward from september to august, and
in the intoxication of presents sherecovered much of her good-humour. margaret found that she was expected tofigure at this function, and to figure largely; it would be such an opportunity,said henry, for her to get to know his set. sir james bidder would be there, and allthe cahills and the fussells, and his sister-in-law, mrs. warrington wilcox, hadfortunately got back from her tour round the world. henry she loved, but his set promised to beanother matter. he had not the knack of surrounding himselfwith nice people--indeed, for a man of ability and virtue his choice had beensingularly unfortunate; he had no guiding
principle beyond a certain preference for mediocrity; he was content to settle one ofthe greatest things in life haphazard, and so, while his investments went right, hisfriends generally went wrong. she would be told, "oh, so-and-so's a goodsort--a thundering good sort," and find, on meeting him, that he was a brute or a bore. if henry had shown real affection, shewould have understood, for affection explains everything.but he seemed without sentiment. the "thundering good sort" might at anymoment become "a fellow for whom i never did have much use, and have less now," andbe shaken off cheerily into oblivion.
margaret had done the same as a schoolgirl. now she never forgot anyone for whom shehad once cared; she connected, though the connection might be bitter, and she hopedthat some day henry would do the same. evie was not to be married from duciestreet. she had a fancy for something rural, and,besides, no one would be in london then, so she left her boxes for a few weeks atoniton grange, and her banns were duly published in the parish church, and for a couple of days the little town, dreamingbetween the ruddy hills, was roused by the clang of our civilization, and drew up bythe roadside to let the motors pass.
oniton had been a discovery of mr.wilcox's--a discovery of which he was not altogether proud. it was up towards the welsh border, and sodifficult of access that he had concluded it must be something special.a ruined castle stood in the grounds. but having got there, what was one to do? the shooting was bad, the fishingindifferent, and women-folk reported the scenery as nothing much. the place turned out to be in the wrongpart of shropshire, damn it, and though he never damned his own property aloud, he wasonly waiting to get it off his hands, and
then to let fly. evie's marriage was its last appearance inpublic. as soon as a tenant was found, it became ahouse for which he never had had much use, and had less now, and, like howards end,faded into limbo. but on margaret oniton was destined to makea lasting impression. she regarded it as her future home, and wasanxious to start straight with the clergy, etc., and, if possible, to see something ofthe local life. it was a market-town--as tiny a one asengland possesses--and had for ages served that lonely valley, and guarded our marchesagainst the kelt.
in spite of the occasion, in spite of thenumbing hilarity that greeted her as soon as she got into the reserved saloon atpaddington, her senses were awake and watching, and though oniton was to prove one of her innumerable false starts, shenever forgot it, nor the things that happened there. the london party only numbered eight--thefussells, father and son, two anglo-indian ladies named mrs. plynlimmon and ladyedser, mrs. warrington wilcox and her daughter, and lastly, the little girl, very smart and quiet, who figures at so manyweddings, and who kept a watchful eye on
margaret, the bride-elect, dolly wasabsent--a domestic event detained her at hilton; paul had cabled a humorous message; charles was to meet them with a trio ofmotors at shrewsbury. helen had refused her invitation; tibby hadnever answered his. the management was excellent, as was to beexpected with anything that henry undertook; one was conscious of hissensible and generous brain in the background. they were his guests as soon as theyreached the train; a special label for their luggage; a courier; a special lunch;they had only to look pleasant and, where
possible, pretty. margaret thought with dismay of her ownnuptials--presumably under the management of tibby. "mr. theobald schlegel and miss helenschlegel request the pleasure of mrs. plynlimmon's company on the occasion of themarriage of their sister margaret." the formula was incredible, but it mustsoon be printed and sent, and though wickham place need not compete with oniton,it must feed its guests properly, and provide them with sufficient chairs. her wedding would either be ramshackly orbourgeois--she hoped the latter.
such an affair as the present, staged witha deftness that was almost beautiful, lay beyond her powers and those of her friends. the low rich purr of a great westernexpress is not the worst background for conversation, and the journey passedpleasantly enough. nothing could have exceeded the kindness ofthe two men. they raised windows for some ladies, andlowered them for others, they rang the bell for the servant, they identified thecolleges as the train slipped past oxford, they caught books or bag-purses in the actof tumbling on to the floor. yet there was nothing finicky about theirpoliteness: it had the public school touch,
and, though sedulous, was virile. more battles than waterloo have been won onour playing-fields, and margaret bowed to a charm of which she did not wholly approve,and said nothing when the oxford colleges were identified wrongly. "male and female created he them"; thejourney to shrewsbury confirmed this questionable statement, and the long glasssaloon, that moved so easily and felt so comfortable, became a forcing-house for theidea of sex. at shrewsbury came fresh air. margaret was all for sight-seeing, andwhile the others were finishing their tea
at the raven, she annexed a motor andhurried over the astonishing city. her chauffeur was not the faithful crane,but an italian, who dearly loved making her late. charles, watch in hand, though with a levelbrow, was standing in front of the hotel when they returned.it was perfectly all right, he told her; she was by no means the last. and then he dived into the coffee-room, andshe heard him say, "for god's sake, hurry the women up; we shall never be off," andalbert fussell reply, "not i; i've done my share," and colonel fussell opine that theladies were getting themselves up to kill.
presently myra (mrs. warrington's daughter)appeared, and as she was his cousin, charles blew her up a little: she had beenchanging her smart traveling hat for a smart motor hat. then mrs. warrington herself, leading thequiet child; the two anglo-indian ladies were always last. maids, courier, heavy luggage, had alreadygone on by a branch-line to a station nearer oniton, but there were five hat-boxes and four dressing-bags to be packed, and five dust-cloaks to be put on, and to be put off at the last moment, becausecharles declared them not necessary.
the men presided over everything withunfailing good-humour. by half-past five the party was ready, andwent out of shrewsbury by the welsh bridge. shropshire had not the reticence ofhertfordshire. though robbed of half its magic by swiftmovement, it still conveyed the sense of hills. they were nearing the buttresses that forcethe severn eastern and make it an english stream, and the sun, sinking over thesentinels of wales, was straight in their eyes. having picked up another guest, they turnedsouthward, avoiding the greater mountains,
but conscious of an occasional summit,rounded and mild, whose colouring differed in quality from that of the lower earth,and whose contours altered more slowly. quiet mysteries were in progress behindthose tossing horizons: the west, as ever, was retreating with some secret which maynot be worth the discovery, but which no practical man will ever discover. they spoke of tariff reform.mrs. warrington was just back from the colonies. like many other critics of empire, hermouth had been stopped with food, and she could only exclaim at the hospitality withwhich she had been received, and warn the
mother country against trifling with youngtitans. "they threaten to cut the painter," shecried, "and where shall we be then? miss schlegel, you'll undertake to keephenry sound about tariff reform? it is our last hope." margaret playfully confessed herself on theother side, and they began to quote from their respective hand-books while the motorcarried them deep into the hills. curious these were, rather than impressive,for their outlines lacked beauty, and the pink fields--on their summits suggested thehandkerchiefs of a giant spread out to dry. an occasional outcrop of rock, anoccasional wood, an occasional "forest,"
treeless and brown, all hinted at wildnessto follow, but the main colour was an agricultural green. the air grew cooler; they had surmountedthe last gradient, and oniton lay below them with its church, its radiating houses,its castle, its river-girt peninsula. close to the castle was a grey mansion,unintellectual but kindly, stretching with its grounds across the peninsula's neck--the sort of mansion that was built all over england in the beginning of the last century, while architecture was still anexpression of the national character. that was the grange, remarked albert, overhis shoulder, and then he jammed the brake
on, and the motor slowed down and stopped. "i'm sorry," said he, turning round."do you mind getting out--by the door on the right?steady on!" "what's happened?" asked mrs. warrington. then the car behind them drew up, and thevoice of charles was heard saying: "get out the women at once." there was a concourse of males, andmargaret and her companions were hustled out and received into the second car.what had happened? as it started off again, the door of acottage opened, and a girl screamed wildly
at them."what is it?" the ladies cried. charles drove them a hundred yards withoutspeaking. then he said: "it's all right.your car just touched a dog." "but stop!" cried margaret, horrified. "it didn't hurt him.""didn't really hurt him?" asked myra. "no.""do please stop!" said margaret, leaning forward. she was standing up in the car, the otheroccupants holding her knees to steady her. "i want to go back, please."charles took no notice.
"we've left mr. fussell behind," saidanother; "and angelo, and crane." "yes, but no woman." "i expect a little of"--mrs. warringtonscratched her palm--" will be more to the point than one of us!" "the insurance company sees to that,"remarked charles, "and albert will do the talking.""i want to go back, though, i say!" repeated margaret, getting angry. charles took no notice.the motor, loaded with refugees, continued to travel very slowly down the hill."the men are there," chorused the others.
"men will see to it." "the men can't see to it.oh, this is ridiculous! charles, i ask you to stop.""stopping's no good," drawled charles. "isn't it?" said margaret, and jumpedstraight out of the car. she fell on her knees, cut her gloves,shook her hat over her ear. cries of alarm followed her. "you've hurt yourself," exclaimed charles,jumping after her. "of course i've hurt myself!" she retorted."may i ask what--" "there's nothing to ask," said margaret.
"your hand's bleeding.""i know." "i'm in for a frightful row from thepater." "you should have thought of that sooner,charles." charles had never been in such a positionbefore. it was a woman in revolt who was hobblingaway from him, and the sight was too strange to leave any room for anger.he recovered himself when the others caught them up: their sort he understood. he commanded them to go back.albert fussell was seen walking towards them."it's all right!" he called.
"it wasn't a dog, it was a cat." "there!" exclaimed charles triumphantly."it's only a rotten cat. "got room in your car for a little un?i cut as soon as i saw it wasn't a dog; the chauffeurs are tackling the girl." but margaret walked forward steadily.why should the chauffeurs tackle the girl? ladies sheltering behind men, mensheltering behind servants--the whole system's wrong, and she must challenge it. "miss schlegel!'pon my word, you've hurt your hand." "i'm just going to see," said margaret."don't you wait, mr. fussell."
the second motor came round the corner. "lt is all right, madam," said crane in histurn. he had taken to calling her madam."what's all right? the cat?" "yes, madam.the girl will receive compensation for it." "she was a very ruda girla," said angelofrom the third motor thoughtfully. "wouldn't you have been rude?" the italian spread out his hands, implyingthat he had not thought of rudeness, but would produce it if it pleased her.the situation became absurd.
the gentlemen were again buzzing round missschlegel with offers of assistance, and lady edser began to bind up her hand. she yielded, apologizing slightly, and wasled back to the car, and soon the landscape resumed its motion, the lonely cottagedisappeared, the castle swelled on its cushion of turf, and they had arrived. no doubt she had disgraced herself.but she felt their whole journey from london had been unreal.they had no part with the earth and its emotions. they were dust, and a stink, andcosmopolitan chatter, and the girl whose
cat had been killed had lived more deeplythan they. "oh, henry," she exclaimed, "i have been sonaughty," for she had decided to take up this line."we ran over a cat. charles told me not to jump out, but iwould, and look!" she held out her bandaged hand."your poor meg went such a flop." mr. wilcox looked bewildered. in evening dress, he was standing towelcome his guests in the hall. "thinking it was a dog," added mrs.warrington. "ah, a dog's a companion!" said colonelfussell.
"a dog'll remember you.""have you hurt yourself, margaret?" "not to speak about; and it's my lefthand." "well, hurry up and change."she obeyed, as did the others. mr. wilcox then turned to his son. "now, charles, what's happened?"charles was absolutely honest. he described what he believed to havehappened. albert had flattened out a cat, and missschlegel had lost her nerve, as any woman might. she had been got safely into the other car,but when it was in motion had leapt out--
again, in spite of all that they could say. after walking a little on the road, she hadcalmed down and had said that she was sorry. his father accepted this explanation, andneither knew that margaret had artfully prepared the way for it.it fitted in too well with their view of feminine nature. in the smoking-room, after dinner, thecolonel put forward the view that miss schlegel had jumped it out of devilry. well he remembered as a young man, in theharbour of gibraltar once, how a girl--a
handsome girl, too--had jumped overboardfor a bet. he could see her now, and all the ladsoverboard after her. but charles and mr. wilcox agreed it wasmuch more probably nerves in miss schlegel's case. charles was depressed.that woman had a tongue. she would bring worse disgrace on hisfather before she had done with them. he strolled out on to the castle mound tothink the matter over. the evening was exquisite. on three sides of him a little riverwhispered, full of messages from the west;
above his head the ruins made patternsagainst the sky. he carefully reviewed their dealings withthis family, until he fitted helen, and margaret, and aunt juley into an orderlyconspiracy. paternity had made him suspicious. he had two children to look after, and morecoming, and day by day they seemed less likely to grow up rich men. "it is all very well," he reflected, "thepater saying that he will be just to all, but one can't be just indefinitely.money isn't elastic. what's to happen if evie has a family?
and, come to that, so may the pater.there'll not be enough to go round, for there's none coming in, either throughdolly or percy. it's damnable!" he looked enviously at the grange, whosewindows poured light and laughter. first and last, this wedding would cost apretty penny. two ladies were strolling up and down thegarden terrace, and as the syllables "imperialism" were wafted to his ears, heguessed that one of them was his aunt. she might have helped him, if she too hadnot had a family to provide for. "every one for himself," he repeated--amaxim which had cheered him in the past,
but which rang grimly enough among theruins of oniton. he lacked his father's ability in business,and so had an ever higher regard for money; unless he could inherit plenty, he fearedto leave his children poor. as he sat thinking, one of the ladies leftthe terrace and walked into the meadow; he recognized her as margaret by the whitebandage that gleamed on her arm, and put out his cigar, lest the gleam should betrayhim. she climbed up the mound in zigzags, and attimes stooped down, as if she was stroking the turf. it sounds absolutely incredible, but for amoment charles thought that she was in love
with him, and had come out to tempt him. charles believed in temptresses, who areindeed the strong man's necessary complement, and having no sense of humour,he could not purge himself of the thought by a smile. margaret, who was engaged to his father,and his sister's wedding-guest, kept on her way without noticing him, and he admittedthat he had wronged her on this point. but what was she doing? why was she stumbling about amongst therubble and catching her dress in brambles and burrs?
as she edged round the keep, she must havegot to leeward and smelt his cigar-smoke, for she exclaimed, "hullo!who's that?" charles made no answer. "saxon or kelt?" she continued, laughing inthe darkness. "but it doesn't matter.whichever you are, you will have to listen to me. i love this place.i love shropshire. i hate london.i am glad that this will be my home. ah, dear"--she was now moving back towardsthe house--"what a comfort to have
arrived!""that woman means mischief," thought charles, and compressed his lips. in a few minutes he followed her indoors,as the ground was getting damp. mists were rising from the river, andpresently it became invisible, though it whispered more loudly. there had been a heavy downpour in thewelsh hills. howards end by e. m. forsterchapter 26 next morning a fine mist covered thepeninsula. the weather promised well, and the outlineof the castle mound grew clearer each
moment that margaret watched it. presently she saw the keep, and the sunpainted the rubble gold, and charged the white sky with blue.the shadow of the house gathered itself together and fell over the garden. a cat looked up at her window and mewed.lastly the river appeared, still holding the mists between its banks and itsoverhanging alders, and only visible as far as a hill, which cut off its upper reaches. margaret was fascinated by oniton.she had said that she loved it, but it was rather its romantic tension that held her.
the rounded druids of whom she had caughtglimpses in her drive, the rivers hurrying down from them to england, the carelesslymodelled masses of the lower hills, thrilled her with poetry. the house was insignificant, but theprospect from it would be an eternal joy, and she thought of all the friends shewould have to stop in it, and of the conversion of henry himself to a rurallife. society, too, promised favourably. the rector of the parish had dined withthem last night, and she found that he was a friend of her father's, and so knew whatto find in her.
she liked him. he would introduce her to the town.while, on her other side, sir james bidder sat, repeating that she only had to givethe word, and he would whip up the county families for twenty miles round. whether sir james, who was garden seeds,had promised what he could perform, she doubted, but so long as henry mistook themfor the county families when they did call, she was content. charles and albert fussell now crossed thelawn. they were going for a morning dip, and aservant followed them with their bathing-
dresses. she had meant to take a stroll herselfbefore breakfast, but saw that the day was still sacred to men, and amused herself bywatching their contretemps. in the first place the key of the bathing-shed could not be found. charles stood by the riverside with foldedhands, tragical, while the servant shouted, and was misunderstood by another servant inthe garden. then came a difficulty about a spring-board, and soon three people were running backwards and forwards over the meadow,with orders and counter orders and recriminations and apologies.
if margaret wanted to jump from a motor-car, she jumped; if tibby thought paddling would benefit his ankles, he paddled; if aclerk desired adventure, he took a walk in the dark. but these athletes seemed paralysed.they could not bathe without their appliances, though the morning sun wascalling and the last mists were rising from the dimpling stream. had they found the life of the body afterall? could not the men whom they despised asmilksops beat them, even on their own ground?
she thought of the bathing arrangements asthey should be in her day--no worrying of servants, no appliances, beyond good sense. her reflections were disturbed by the quietchild, who had come out to speak to the cat, but was now watching her watch themen. she called, "good-morning, dear," a littlesharply. her voice spread consternation. charles looked round, and though completelyattired in indigo blue, vanished into the shed, and was seen no more."miss wilcox is up--" the child whispered, and then became unintelligible.
"what's that?"it sounded like, "--cut-yoke--sack back--" "i can't hear.""--on the bed--tissue-paper--" gathering that the wedding-dress was onview, and that a visit would be seemly, she went to evie's room.all was hilarity here. evie, in a petticoat, was dancing with oneof the anglo-indian ladies, while the other was adoring yards of white satin.they screamed, they laughed, they sang, and the dog barked. margaret screamed a little too, but withoutconviction. she could not feel that a wedding was sofunny.
perhaps something was missing in herequipment. evie gasped: "dolly is a rotter not to behere! oh, we would rag just then!" then margaret went down to breakfast.henry was already installed; he ate slowly and spoke little, and was, in margaret'seyes, the only member of their party who dodged emotion successfully. she could not suppose him indifferenteither to the loss of his daughter or to the presence of his future wife. yet he dwelt intact, only issuing ordersoccasionally--orders that promoted the
comfort of his guests. he inquired after her hand; he set her topour out the coffee and mrs. warrington to pour out the tea. when evie came down there was a moment'sawkwardness, and both ladies rose to vacate their places."burton," called henry, "serve tea and coffee from the side-board!" it wasn't genuine tact, but it was tact, ofa sort--the sort that is as useful as the genuine, and saves even more situations atboard meetings. henry treated a marriage like a funeral,item by item, never raising his eyes to the
whole, and "death, where is thy sting?love, where is thy victory?" one would exclaim at the close. after breakfast she claimed a few wordswith him. it was always best to approach himformally. she asked for the interview, because he wasgoing on to shoot grouse tomorrow, and she was returning to helen in town."certainly, dear," said he. "of course, i have the time. what do you want?""nothing." "i was afraid something had gone wrong.""no; i have nothing to say, but you may
talk." glancing at his watch, he talked of thenasty curve at the lych-gate. she heard him with interest. her surface could always respond to hiswithout contempt, though all her deeper being might be yearning to help him.she had abandoned any plan of action. love is the best, and the more she letherself love him, the more chance was there that he would set his soul in order. such a moment as this, when they sat underfair weather by the walks of their future home, was so sweet to her that itssweetness would surely pierce to him.
each lift of his eyes, each parting of thethatched lip from the clean-shaven, must prelude the tenderness that kills the monkand the beast at a single blow. disappointed a hundred times, she stillhoped. she loved him with too clear a vision tofear his cloudiness. whether he droned trivialities, as today,or sprang kisses on her in the twilight, she could pardon him, she could respond."if there is this nasty curve," she suggested, "couldn't we walk to the church? not, of course, you and evie; but the restof us might very well go on first, and that would mean fewer carriages.""one can't have ladies walking through the
market square. the fussells wouldn't like it; they wereawfully particular at charles's wedding. my--she--one of our party was anxious towalk, and certainly the church was just round the corner, and i shouldn't haveminded; but the colonel made a great point of it." "you men shouldn't be so chivalrous," saidmargaret thoughtfully. "why not?"she knew why not, but said that she did not know. he then announced that, unless she hadanything special to say, he must visit the
wine-cellar, and they went off together insearch of burton. though clumsy and a little inconvenient,oniton was a genuine country house. they clattered down flagged passages,looking into room after room, and scaring unknown maids from the performance ofobscure duties. the wedding-breakfast must be in readinesswhen they came back from church, and tea would be served in the garden. the sight of so many agitated and seriouspeople made margaret smile, but she reflected that they were paid to beserious, and enjoyed being agitated. here were the lower wheels of the machinethat was tossing evie up into nuptial
glory.a little boy blocked their way with pig- tails. his mind could not grasp their greatness,and he said: "by your leave; let me pass, please."henry asked him where burton was. but the servants were so new that they didnot know one another's names. in the still-room sat the band, who hadstipulated for champagne as part of their fee, and who were already drinking beer. scents of araby came from the kitchen,mingled with cries. margaret knew what had happened there, forit happened at wickham place.
one of the wedding dishes had boiled over,and the cook was throwing cedar-shavings to hide the smell.at last they came upon the butler. henry gave him the keys, and handedmargaret down the cellar-stairs. two doors were unlocked. she, who kept all her wine at the bottom ofthe linen-cupboard, was astonished at the sight. "we shall never get through it!" she cried,and the two men were suddenly drawn into brotherhood, and exchanged smiles.she felt as if she had again jumped out of the car while it was moving.
certainly oniton would take some digesting.it would be no small business to remain herself, and yet to assimilate such anestablishment. she must remain herself, for his sake aswell as her own, since a shadowy wife degrades the husband whom she accompanies;and she must assimilate for reasons of common honesty, since she had no right tomarry a man and make him uncomfortable. her only ally was the power of home.the loss of wickham place had taught her more than its possession. howards end had repeated the lesson.she was determined to create new sanctities among these hills.
after visiting the wine-cellar, shedressed, and then came the wedding, which seemed a small affair when compared withthe preparations for it. everything went like one o'clock. mr. cahill materialized out of space, andwas waiting for his bride at the church door. no one dropped the ring or mispronouncedthe responses, or trod on evie's train, or cried. in a few minutes--the clergymen performedtheir duty, the register was signed, and they were back in their carriages,negotiating the dangerous curve by the
lych-gate. margaret was convinced that they had notbeen married at all, and that the norman church had been intent all the time onother business. there were more documents to sign at thehouse, and the breakfast to eat, and then a few more people dropped in for the gardenparty. there had been a great many refusals, andafter all it was not a very big affair--not as big as margaret's would be. she noted the dishes and the strips of redcarpet, that outwardly she might give henry what was proper.
but inwardly she hoped for something betterthan this blend of sunday church and fox- hunting.if only someone had been upset! but this wedding had gone off soparticularly well--"quite like a durbar" in the opinion of lady edser, and shethoroughly agreed with her. so the wasted day lumbered forward, thebride and bridegroom drove off, yelling with laughter, and for the second time thesun retreated towards the hills of wales. henry, who was more tired than he owned,came up to her in the castle meadow, and, in tones of unusual softness, said that hewas pleased. everything had gone off so well.
she felt that he was praising her, too, andblushed; certainly she had done all she could with his intractable friends, and hadmade a special point of kowtowing to the men. they were breaking camp this evening: onlythe warringtons and quiet child would stay the night, and the others were alreadymoving towards the house to finish their packing. "i think it did go off well," she agreed."since i had to jump out of the motor, i'm thankful i lighted on my left hand. i am so very glad about it, henry dear; ionly hope that the guests at ours may be
half as comfortable. you must all remember that we have nopractical person among us, except my aunt, and she is not used to entertainments on alarge scale." "i know," he said gravely. "under the circumstances, it would bebetter to put everything into the hands of harrod's or whiteley's, or even to go tosome hotel." "you desire a hotel?" "yes, because--well, i mustn't interferewith you. no doubt you want to be married from yourold home."
"my old home's falling into pieces, henry. i only want my new.isn't it a perfect evening--" "the alexandrina isn't bad--" "the alexandrina," she echoed, moreoccupied with the threads of smoke that were issuing from their chimneys, andruling the sunlit slopes with parallels of grey. "it's off curzon street.""is it? let's be married from off curzon street."then she turned westward, to gaze at the swirling gold.
just where the river rounded the hill thesun caught it. fairyland must lie above the bend, and itsprecious liquid was pouring towards them past charles's bathing-shed. she gazed so long that her eyes weredazzled, and when they moved back to the house, she could not recognize the faces ofpeople who were coming out of it. a parlour-maid was preceding them. "who are those people?" she asked."they're callers!" exclaimed henry. "it's too late for callers.""perhaps they're town people who want to see the wedding presents."
"i'm not at home yet to townees.""well, hide among the ruins, and if i can stop them, i will."he thanked her. margaret went forward, smiling socially. she supposed that these were unpunctualguests, who would have to be content with vicarious civility, since evie and charleswere gone, henry tired, and the others in their rooms. she assumed the airs of a hostess; not forlong. for one of the group was helen--helen inher oldest clothes, and dominated by that tense, wounding excitement that had madeher a terror in their nursery days.
"what is it?" she called. "oh, what's wrong?is tibby ill?" helen spoke to her two companions, who fellback. then she bore forward furiously. "they're starving!" she shouted."i found them starving!" "who? why have you come?""the basts." "oh, helen!" moaned margaret. "whatever have you done now?""he has lost his place. he has been turned out of his bank.yes, he's done for.
we upper classes have ruined him, and isuppose you'll tell me it's the battle of life.starving. his wife is ill. starving.she fainted in the train." "helen, are you mad?""perhaps. yes. if you like, i'm mad. but i've brought them.i'll stand injustice no longer. i'll show up the wretchedness that liesunder this luxury, this talk of impersonal forces, this cant about god doing whatwe're too slack to do ourselves."
"have you actually brought two starvingpeople from london to shropshire, helen?" helen was checked.she had not thought of this, and her hysteria abated. "there was a restaurant car on the train,"she said. "don't be absurd.they aren't starving, and you know it. now, begin from the beginning. i won't have such theatrical nonsense.how dare you! yes, how dare you!" she repeated, as angerfilled her, "bursting in to evie's wedding in this heartless way.
my goodness! but you've a perverted notionof philanthropy. look"--she indicated the house--"servants,people out of the windows. they think it's some vulgar scandal, and imust explain, 'oh no, it's only my sister screaming, and only two hangers-on of ours,whom she has brought here for no conceivable reason.'" "kindly take back that word 'hangers-on,'"said helen, ominously calm. "very well," conceded margaret, who for allher wrath was determined to avoid a real quarrel. "i, too, am sorry about them, but it beatsme why you've brought them here, or why
you're here yourself."it's our last chance of seeing mr. wilcox." margaret moved towards the house at this.she was determined not to worry henry. "he's going to scotland.i know he is. i insist on seeing him." "yes, tomorrow.""i knew it was our last chance." "how do you do, mr. bast?" said margaret,trying to control her voice. "this is an odd business. what view do you take of it?""there is mrs. bast, too," prompted helen.
jacky also shook hands. she, like her husband, was shy, and,furthermore, ill, and furthermore, so bestially stupid that she could not graspwhat was happening. she only knew that the lady had swept downlike a whirlwind last night, had paid the rent, redeemed the furniture, provided themwith a dinner and breakfast, and ordered them to meet her at paddington nextmorning. leonard had feebly protested, and when themorning came, had suggested that they shouldn't go. but she, half mesmerized, had obeyed.
the lady had told them to, and they must,and their bed-sitting-room had accordingly changed into paddington, and paddingtoninto a railway carriage, that shook, and grew hot, and grew cold, and vanished entirely, and reappeared amid torrents ofexpensive scent. "you have fainted," said the lady in anawe-struck voice. "perhaps the air will do you good." and perhaps it had, for here she was,feeling rather better among a lot of flowers."i'm sure i don't want to intrude," began leonard, in answer to margaret's question.
"but you have been so kind to me in thepast in warning me about the porphyrion that i wondered--why, i wondered whether--""whether we could get him back into the porphyrion again," supplied helen. "meg, this has been a cheerful business.a bright evening's work that was on chelsea embankment."margaret shook her head and returned to mr. bast. "i don't understand.you left the porphyrion because we suggested it was a bad concern, didn'tyou?" "that's right."
"and went into a bank instead?" "i told you all that," said helen; "andthey reduced their staff after he had been in a month, and now he's penniless, and iconsider that we and our informant are directly to blame." "i hate all this," leonard muttered."i hope you do, mr. bast. but it's no good mincing matters.you have done yourself no good by coming here. if you intend to confront mr. wilcox, andto call him to account for a chance remark, you will make a very great mistake.""i brought them.
i did it all," cried helen. "i can only advise you to go at once.my sister has put you in a false position, and it is kindest to tell you so. it's too late to get to town, but you'llfind a comfortable hotel in oniton, where mrs. bast can rest, and i hope you'll be myguests there." "that isn't what i want, miss schlegel,"said leonard. "you're very kind, and no doubt it's afalse position, but you make me miserable. i seem no good at all." "it's work he wants," interpreted helen."can't you see?"
then he said: "jacky, let's go.we're more bother than we're worth. we're costing these ladies pounds andpounds already to get work for us, and they never will.there's nothing we're good enough to do." "we would like to find you work," saidmargaret rather conventionally. "we want to--i, like my sister.you're only down in your luck. go to the hotel, have a good night's rest,and some day you shall pay me back the bill, if you prefer it."but leonard was near the abyss, and at such moments men see clearly. "you don't know what you're talking about,"he said.
"i shall never get work now.if rich people fail at one profession, they can try another. not i.i had my groove, and i've got out of it. i could do one particular branch ofinsurance in one particular office well enough to command a salary, but that's all. poetry's nothing, miss schlegel.one's thoughts about this and that are nothing.your money, too, is nothing, if you'll understand me. i mean if a man over twenty once loses hisown particular job, it's all over with him.
i have seen it happen to others.their friends gave them money for a little, but in the end they fall over the edge. it's no good.it's the whole world pulling. there always will be rich and poor."he ceased. "won't you have something to eat?" saidmargaret. "i don't know what to do. it isn't my house, and though mr. wilcoxwould have been glad to see you at any other time--as i say, i don't know what todo, but i undertake to do what i can for you.
helen, offer them something.do try a sandwich, mrs. bast." they moved to a long table behind which aservant was still standing. iced cakes, sandwiches innumerable, coffee,claret-cup, champagne, remained almost intact: their overfed guests could do nomore. leonard refused. jacky thought she could manage a little.margaret left them whispering together and had a few more words with helen.she said: "helen, i like mr. bast. i agree that he's worth helping. i agree that we are directly responsible.""no, indirectly.
via mr. wilcox.""let me tell you once for all that if you take up that attitude, i'll do nothing. no doubt you're right logically, and areentitled to say a great many scathing things about henry.only, i won't have it. so choose. helen looked at the sunset."if you promise to take them quietly to the george, i will speak to henry about them--in my own way, mind; there is to be none of this absurd screaming about justice. i have no use for justice.if it was only a question of money, we
could do it ourselves.but he wants work, and that we can't give him, but possibly henry can." "it's his duty to," grumbled helen."nor am i concerned with duty. i'm concerned with the characters ofvarious people whom we know, and how, things being as they are, things may bemade a little better. mr. wilcox hates being asked favours: allbusiness men do. but i am going to ask him, at the risk of arebuff, because i want to make things a little better." "very well.i promise.
you take it very calmly.""take them off to the george, then, and i'll try. poor creatures! but they look tried."as they parted, she added: "i haven't nearly done with you, though, helen.you have been most self-indulgent. i can't get over it. you have less restraint rather than more asyou grow older. think it over and alter yourself, or weshan't have happy lives." she rejoined henry. fortunately he had been sitting down: thesephysical matters were important.
"was it townees?" he asked, greeting herwith a pleasant smile. "you'll never believe me," said margaret,sitting down beside him. "it's all right now, but it was my sister.""helen here?" he cried, preparing to rise. "but she refused the invitation. i thought she despised weddings.""don't get up. she has not come to the wedding.i've bundled her off to the george." inherently hospitable, he protested. "no; she has two of her proteges with her,and must keep with them." "let 'em all come.""my dear henry, did you see them?"
"i did catch sight of a brown bunch of awoman, certainly. "the brown bunch was helen, but did youcatch sight of a sea-green and salmon bunch?" "what! are they out beanfeasting?""no; business. they wanted to see me, and later on i wantto talk to you about them." she was ashamed of her own diplomacy. in dealing with a wilcox, how tempting itwas to lapse from comradeship, and to give him the kind of woman that he desired!henry took the hint at once, and said: "why later on?
tell me now.no time like the present." "shall i?""if it isn't a long story." "oh, not five minutes; but there's a stingat the end of it, for i want you to find the man some work in your office.""what are his qualifications?" "i don't know. he's a clerk.""how old?" "twenty-five, perhaps.""what's his name?" "bast," said margaret, and was about toremind him that they had met at wickham place, but stopped herself.it had not been a successful meeting.
"where was he before?" "dempster's bank.""why did he leave?" he asked, still remembering nothing."they reduced their staff." "all right; i'll see him." it was the reward of her tact and devotionthrough the day. now she understood why some women preferinfluence to rights. mrs. plynlimmon, when condemningsuffragettes, had said: "the woman who can't influence her husband to vote the wayshe wants ought to be ashamed of herself." margaret had winced, but she wasinfluencing henry now, and though pleased
at her little victory, she knew that shehad won it by the methods of the harem. "i should be glad if you took him," shesaid, "but i don't know whether he's qualified.""i'll do what i can. but, margaret, this mustn't be taken as aprecedent." "no, of course--of course--""i can't fit in your proteges every day. business would suffer." "i can promise you he's the last.he--he's rather a special case." "proteges always are."she let it stand at that. he rose with a little extra touch ofcomplacency, and held out his hand to help
her up.how wide the gulf between henry as he was and henry as helen thought he ought to be! and she herself--hovering as usual betweenthe two, now accepting men as they are, now yearning with her sister for truth.love and truth--their warfare seems eternal. perhaps the whole visible world rests onit, and if they were one, life itself, like the spirits when prospero was reconciled tohis brother, might vanish into air, into thin air. "your protege has made us late," said he."the fussells will just be starting."
on the whole she sided with men as theyare. henry would save the basts as he had savedhowards end, while helen and her friends were discussing the ethics of salvation. his was a slap-dash method, but the worldhas been built slap-dash, and the beauty of mountain and river and sunset may be butthe varnish with which the unskilled artificer hides his joins. oniton, like herself, was imperfect.its apple-trees were stunted, its castle ruinous. it, too, had suffered in the border warfarebetween the anglo saxon and the kelt,
between things as they are and as theyought to be. once more the west was retreating, onceagain the orderly stars were dotting the eastern sky.there is certainly no rest for us on the earth. but there is happiness, and as margaretdescended the mound on her lover's arm, she felt that she was having her share. to her annoyance, mrs. bast was still inthe garden; the husband and helen had left her there to finish her meal while theywent to engage rooms. margaret found this woman repellent.
she had felt, when shaking her hand, anoverpowering shame. she remembered the motive of her call atwickham place, and smelt again odours from the abyss--odours the more disturbingbecause they were involuntary. for there was no malice in jacky. there she sat, a piece of cake in one hand,an empty champagne glass in the other, doing no harm to anybody."she's overtired," margaret whispered. "she's something else," said henry. "this won't do.i can't have her in my garden in this state.""is she--" margaret hesitated to add
"drunk." now that she was going to marry him, he hadgrown particular. he discountenanced risque conversationsnow. henry went up to the woman. she raised her face, which gleamed in thetwilight like a puff-ball. "madam, you will be more comfortable at thehotel," he said sharply. jacky replied: "if it isn't hen!" "ne crois pas que le mari lui ressemble,"apologized margaret. "il est tout a fait different.""henry!" she repeated, quite distinctly.
mr. wilcox was much annoyed. "i can't congratulate you on yourproteges," he remarked. "hen, don't go.you do love me, dear, don't you?" "bless us, what a person!" sighed margaret,gathering up her skirts. jacky pointed with her cake."you're a nice boy, you are." she yawned. "there now, i love you.""henry, i am awfully sorry." "and pray why?" he asked, and looked at herso sternly that she feared he was ill. he seemed more scandalized than the factsdemanded.
"to have brought this down on you.""pray don't apologize." the voice continued. "why does she call you 'hen'?" saidmargaret innocently. "has she ever seen you before?""seen hen before!" said jacky. "who hasn't seen hen? he's serving you like me, my dear.these boys! you wait--still we love 'em.""are you now satisfied?" henry asked. margaret began to grow frightened."i don't know what it is all about," she
said."let's come in." but he thought she was acting. he thought he was trapped.he saw his whole life crumbling. "don't you indeed?" he said bitingly."i do. allow me to congratulate you on the successof your plan." "this is helen's plan, not mine.""i now understand your interest in the basts. very well thought out.i am amused at your caution, margaret. you are quite right--it was necessary.i am a man, and have lived a man's past.
i have the honour to release you from yourengagement." still she could not understand.she knew of life's seamy side as a theory; she could not grasp it as a fact. more words from jacky were necessary--wordsunequivocal, undenied. "so that--" burst from her, and she wentindoors. she stopped herself from saying more. "so what?" asked colonel fussell, who wasgetting ready to start in the hall. "we were saying--henry and i were justhaving the fiercest argument, my point being--" seizing his fur coat from afootman, she offered to help him on.
he protested, and there was a playfullittle scene. "no, let me do that," said henry,following. "thanks so much! you see--he has forgiven me!"the colonel said gallantly: "i don't expect there's much to forgive.he got into the car. the ladies followed him after an interval. maids, courier, and heavier luggage hadbeen sent on earlier by the branch--line. still chattering, still thanking their hostand patronizing their future hostess, the guests were home away.
then margaret continued: "so that woman hasbeen your mistress?" "you put it with your usual delicacy," hereplied. "when, please?" "why?""when, please?" "ten years ago."she left him without a word. for it was not her tragedy: it was mrs.wilcox's. howards end by e. m. forsterchapter 27 helen began to wonder why she had spent amatter of eight pounds in making some people ill and others angry.
now that the wave of excitement was ebbing,and had left her, mr. bast, and mrs. bast stranded for the night in a shropshirehotel, she asked herself what forces had made the wave flow. at all events, no harm was done.margaret would play the game properly now, and though helen disapproved of hersister's methods, she knew that the basts would benefit by them in the long run. "mr. wilcox is so illogical," she explainedto leonard, who had put his wife to bed, and was sitting with her in the emptycoffee-room. "if we told him it was his duty to take youon, he might refuse to do it.
the fact is, he isn't properly educated.i don't want to set you against him, but you'll find him a trial." "i can never thank you sufficiently, missschlegel," was all that leonard felt equal to."i believe in personal responsibility. don't you? and in personal everything.i hate--i suppose i oughtn't to say that-- but the wilcoxes are on the wrong tacksurely. or perhaps it isn't their fault. perhaps the little thing that says 'i' ismissing out of the middle of their heads,
and then it's a waste of time to blamethem. there's a nightmare of a theory that says aspecial race is being born which will rule the rest of us in the future just becauseit lacks the little thing that says 'i.' had you heard that?" "i get no time for reading.""had you thought it, then? that there are two kinds of people--ourkind, who live straight from the middle of their heads, and the other kind who can't,because their heads have no middle? they can't say 'i.' they aren't in fact, and so they'resupermen.
pierpont morgan has never said 'i' in hislife." leonard roused himself. if his benefactress wanted intellectualconversation, she must have it. she was more important than his ruinedpast. "i never got on to nietzsche," he said. "but i always understood that thosesupermen were rather what you may call egoists.""oh, no, that's wrong," replied helen. "no superman ever said 'i want,' because 'iwant' must lead to the question, 'who am i?' and so to pity and to justice.he only says 'want.'
'want europe,' if he's napoleon; 'wantwives,' if he's bluebeard; 'want botticelli,' if he's pierpont morgan. never the 'i'; and if you could piercethrough him, you'd find panic and emptiness in the middle."leonard was silent for a moment. then he said: "may i take it, missschlegel, that you and i are both the sort that say 'i'?""of course." "and your sister too?" "of course," repeated helen, a littlesharply. she was annoyed with margaret, but did notwant her discussed.
"all presentable people say 'i.'" "but mr. wilcox--he is not perhaps--""i don't know that it's any good discussing mr. wilcox either.""quite so, quite so," he agreed. helen asked herself why she had snubbedhim. once or twice during the day she hadencouraged him to criticize, and then had pulled him up short. was she afraid of him presuming?if so, it was disgusting of her. but he was thinking the snub quite natural.everything she did was natural, and incapable of causing offence.
while the miss schlegels were together hehad felt them scarcely human--a sort of admonitory whirligig.but a miss schlegel alone was different. she was in helen's case unmarried, inmargaret's about to be married, in neither case an echo of her sister. a light had fallen at last into this richupper world, and he saw that it was full of men and women, some of whom were morefriendly to him than others. helen had become "his" miss schlegel, whoscolded him and corresponded with him, and had swept down yesterday with gratefulvehemence. margaret, though not unkind, was severe andremote.
he would not presume to help her, forinstance. he had never liked her, and began to thinkthat his original impression was true, and that her sister did not like her either.helen was certainly lonely. she, who gave away so much, was receivingtoo little. leonard was pleased to think that he couldspare her vexation by holding his tongue and concealing what he knew about mr.wilcox. jacky had announced her discovery when hefetched her from the lawn. after the first shock, he did not mind forhimself. by now he had no illusions about his wife,and this was only one new stain on the face
of a love that had never been pure. to keep perfection perfect, that should behis ideal, if the future gave him time to have ideals.helen, and margaret for helen's sake, must not know. helen disconcerted him by fuming theconversation to his wife. "mrs. bast--does she ever say 'i'?" sheasked, half mischievously, and then, "is she very tired?" "it's better she stops in her room," saidleonard. "shall i sit up with her?""no, thank you; she does not need company."
"mr. bast, what kind of woman is yourwife?" leonard blushed up to his eyes."you ought to know my ways by now. does that question offend you?" "no, oh no, miss schlegel, no.""because i love honesty. don't pretend your marriage has been ahappy one. you and she can have nothing in common." he did not deny it, but said shyly: "isuppose that's pretty obvious; but jacky never meant to do anybody any harm. when things went wrong, or i heard things,i used to think it was her fault, but,
looking back, it's more mine.i needn't have married her, but as i have i must stick to her and keep her." "how long have you been married?""nearly three years." "what did your people say?""they will not have anything to do with us. they had a sort of family council when theyheard i was married, and cut us off altogether."helen began to pace up and down the room. "my good boy, what a mess!" she saidgently. "who are your people?"he could answer this. his parents, who were dead, had been intrade; his sisters had married commercial
travellers; his brother was a lay-reader."and your grandparents?" leonard told her a secret that he had heldshameful up to now. "they were just nothing at all," he said,"--agricultural labourers and that sort." "so! from which part?" "lincolnshire mostly, but my mother'sfather--he, oddly enough, came from these parts round here.""from this very shropshire. yes, that is odd. my mother's people were lancashire.but why do your brother and your sisters object to mrs. bast?""oh, i don't know."
"excuse me, you do know. i am not a baby.i can bear anything you tell me, and the more you tell the more i shall be able tohelp. have they heard anything against her?" he was silent."i think i have guessed now," said helen very gravely."i don't think so, miss schlegel; i hope not." "we must be honest, even over these things.i have guessed. i am frightfully, dreadfully sorry, but itdoes not make the least difference to me.
i shall feel just the same to both of you. i blame, not your wife for these things,but men." leonard left it at that--so long as she didnot guess the man. she stood at the window and slowly pulledup the blinds. the hotel looked over a dark square.the mists had begun. when she turned back to him her eyes wereshining. "don't you worry," he pleaded."i can't bear that. we shall be all right if i get work. if i could only get work--something regularto do.
then it wouldn't be so bad again.i don't trouble after books as i used. i can imagine that with regular work weshould settle down again. it stops one thinking.""settle down to what?" "oh, just settle down." "and that's to be life!" said helen, with acatch in her throat. "how can you, with all the beautiful thingsto see and do--with music--with walking at night--" "walking is well enough when a man's inwork," he answered. "oh, i did talk a lot of nonsense once, butthere's nothing like a bailiff in the house
to drive it out of you. when i saw him fingering my ruskins andstevensons, i seemed to see life straight real, and it isn't a pretty sight. my books are back again, thanks to you, butthey'll never be the same to me again, and i shan't ever again think night in thewoods is wonderful." "why not?" asked helen, throwing up thewindow. "because i see one must have money.""well, you're wrong." "i wish i was wrong, but--the clergyman--hehas money of his own, or else he's paid; the poet or the musician--just the same;the tramp--he's no different.
the tramp goes to the workhouse in the end,and is paid for with other people's money. miss schlegel, the real thing's money andall the rest is a dream." "you're still wrong. you've forgotten death."leonard could not understand. "if we lived for ever what you say would betrue. but we have to die, we have to leave lifepresently. injustice and greed would be the real thingif we lived for ever. as it is, we must hold to other things,because death is coming. i love death--not morbidly, but because heexplains.
he shows me the emptiness of money. death and money are the eternal foes.not death and life. never mind what lies behind death, mr.bast, but be sure that the poet and the musician and the tramp will be happier init than the man who has never learnt to say, 'i am i.'" "i wonder.""we are all in a mist--i know but i can help you this far--men like the wilcoxesare deeper in the mist than any. sane, sound englishmen! building upempires, levelling all the world into what they call common sense.
but mention death to them and they'reoffended, because death's really imperial, and he cries out against them for ever.""i am as afraid of death as any one." "but not of the idea of death." "but what is the difference?""infinite difference," said helen, more gravely than before. leonard looked at her wondering, and hadthe sense of great things sweeping out of the shrouded night.but he could not receive them, because his heart was still full of little things. as the lost umbrella had spoilt the concertat queen's hall, so the lost situation was
obscuring the diviner harmonies now. death, life and materialism were finewords, but would mr. wilcox take him on as a clerk? talk as one would, mr. wilcox was king ofthis world, the superman, with his own morality, whose head remained in theclouds. "i must be stupid," he said apologetically. while to helen the paradox became clearerand clearer. "death destroys a man: the idea of deathsaves him." behind the coffins and the skeletons thatstay the vulgar mind lies something so
immense that all that is great in usresponds to it. men of the world may recoil from thecharnel-house that they will one day enter, but love knows better. death is his foe, but his peer, and intheir age-long struggle the thews of love have been strengthened, and his visioncleared, until there is no one who can stand against him. "so never give in," continued the girl, andrestated again and again the vague yet convincing plea that the invisible lodgesagainst the visible. her excitement grew as she tried to cut therope that fastened leonard to the earth.
woven of bitter experience, it resistedher. presently the waitress entered and gave hera letter from margaret. another note, addressed to leonard, wasinside. they read them, listening to the murmuringsof the river. howards end by e. m. forsterchapter 28 for many hours margaret did nothing; thenshe controlled herself, and wrote some letters. she was too bruised to speak to henry; shecould pity him, and even determine to marry him, but as yet all lay too deep in herheart for speech.
on the surface the sense of his degradationwas too strong. she could not command voice or look, andthe gentle words that she forced out through her pen seemed to proceed from someother person. "my dearest boy," she began, "this is notto part us. it is everything or nothing, and i mean itto be nothing. it happened long before we ever met, andeven if it had happened since, i should be writing the same, i hope.i do understand." but she crossed out "i do understand"; itstruck a false note. henry could not bear to be understood.she also crossed out, "it is everything or
nothing. "henry would resent so strong a grasp ofthe situation. she must not comment; comment isunfeminine. "i think that'll about do," she thought. then the sense of his degradation chokedher. was he worth all this bother? to have yielded to a woman of that sort waseverything, yes, it was, and she could not be his wife.she tried to translate his temptation into her own language, and her brain reeled.
men must be different, even to want toyield to such a temptation. her belief in comradeship was stifled, andshe saw life as from that glass saloon on the great western, which sheltered male andfemale alike from the fresh air. are the sexes really races, each with itsown code of morality, and their mutual love a mere device of nature to keep thingsgoing? strip human intercourse of the proprieties,and is it reduced to this? her judgment told her no. she knew that out of nature's device wehave built a magic that will win us immortality.
far more mysterious than the call of sex tosex is the tenderness that we throw into that call; far wider is the gulf between usand the farmyard than between the farm-yard and the garbage that nourishes it. we are evolving, in ways that sciencecannot measure, to ends that theology dares not contemplate."men did produce one jewel," the gods will say, and, saying, will give us immortality. margaret knew all this, but for the momentshe could not feel it, and transformed the marriage of evie and mr. cahill into acarnival of fools, and her own marriage-- too miserable to think of that, she tore upthe letter, and then wrote another:
dear mr. bast, i have spoken to mr. wilcox about you, as ipromised, and am sorry to say that he has no vacancy for you.yours truly, m. j. schlegel she enclosed this in a note to helen, overwhich she took less trouble than she might have done; but her head was aching, and shecould not stop to pick her words: dear helen, give him this.the basts are no good. henry found the woman drunk on the lawn. i am having a room got ready for you here,and will you please come round at once on
getting this?the basts are not at all the type we should trouble about. i may go round to them myself in themorning, and do anything that is fair. min writing this, margaret felt that she was being practical. something might be arranged for the bastslater on, but they must be silenced for the moment.she hoped to avoid a conversation between the woman and helen. she rang the bell for a servant, but no oneanswered it; mr. wilcox and the warringtons
were gone to bed, and the kitchen wasabandoned to saturnalia. consequently she went over to the georgeherself. she did not enter the hotel, for discussionwould have been perilous, and, saying that the letter was important, she gave it tothe waitress. as she recrossed the square she saw helenand mr. bast looking out of the window of the coffee-room, and feared she was alreadytoo late. her task was not yet over; she ought totell henry what she had done. this came easily, for she saw him in thehall. the night wind had been rattling thepictures against the wall, and the noise
had disturbed him."who's there?" he called, quite the householder. margaret walked in and past him."i have asked helen to sleep," she said. "she is best here; so don't lock the front-door." "i thought someone had got in," said henry. "at the same time i told the man that wecould do nothing for him. i don't know about later, but now the bastsmust clearly go." "did you say that your sister is sleepinghere, after all?" "probably.""is she to be shown up to your room?"
"i have naturally nothing to say to her; iam going to bed. will you tell the servants about helen?could someone go to carry her bag?" he tapped a little gong, which had beenbought to summon the servants. "you must make more noise than that if youwant them to hear." henry opened a door, and down the corridorcame shouts of laughter. "far too much screaming there," he said,and strode towards it. margaret went upstairs, uncertain whetherto be glad that they had met, or sorry. they had behaved as if nothing hadhappened, and her deepest instincts told her that this was wrong.
for his own sake, some explanation was due.and yet--what could an explanation tell her?a date, a place, a few details, which she could imagine all too clearly. now that the first shock was over, she sawthat there was every reason to premise a mrs. bast. henry's inner life had long laid open toher--his intellectual confusion, his obtuseness to personal influence, hisstrong but furtive passions. should she refuse him because his outerlife corresponded? perhaps.perhaps, if the dishonour had been done to
her, but it was done long before her day. she struggled against the feeling.she told herself that mrs. wilcox's wrong was her own.but she was not a bargain theorist. as she undressed, her anger, her regard forthe dead, her desire for a scene, all grew weak. henry must have it as he liked, for sheloved him, and some day she would use her love to make him a better man.pity was at the bottom of her actions all through this crisis. pity, if one may generalize, is at thebottom of woman.
when men like us, it is for our betterqualities, and however tender their liking, we dare not be unworthy of it, or they willquietly let us go. but unworthiness stimulates woman. it brings out her deeper nature, for goodor for evil. here was the core of the question.henry must be forgiven, and made better by love; nothing else mattered. mrs. wilcox, that unquiet yet kindly ghost,must be left to her own wrong. to her everything was in proportion now,and she, too, would pity the man who was blundering up and down their lives.
had mrs. wilcox known of his trespass?an interesting question, but margaret fell asleep, tethered by affection, and lulledby the murmurs of the river that descended all the night from wales. she felt herself at one with her futurehome, colouring it and coloured by it, and awoke to see, for the second time, onitoncastle conquering the morning mists. howards end by e. m. forsterchapter 29 "henry dear--" was her greeting.he had finished his breakfast, and was beginning the times.his sister-in-law was packing. she knelt by him and took the paper fromhim, feeling that it was unusually heavy
and thick.then, putting her face where it had been, she looked up in his eyes. "henry dear, look at me.no, i won't have you shirking. look at me.there. that's all." "you're referring to last evening," he saidhuskily. "i have released you from your engagement.i could find excuses, but i won't. no, i won't. a thousand times no.i'm a bad lot, and must be left at that."
expelled from his old fortress, mr. wilcoxwas building a new one. he could no longer appear respectable toher, so he defended himself instead in a lurid past.it was not true repentance. "leave it where you will, boy. it's not going to trouble us: i know whati'm talking about, and it will make no difference.""no difference?" he inquired. "no difference, when you find that i am notthe fellow you thought?" he was annoyed with miss schlegel here.he would have preferred her to be prostrated by the blow, or even to rage.
against the tide of his sin flowed thefeeling that she was not altogether womanly.her eyes gazed too straight; they had read books that are suitable for men only. and though he had dreaded a scene, andthough she had determined against one, there was a scene, all the same.it was somehow imperative. "i am unworthy of you," he began. "had i been worthy, i should not havereleased you from your engagement. i know what i am talking about.i can't bear to talk of such things. we had better leave it."
she kissed his hand. he jerked it from her, and, rising to hisfeet, went on: "you, with your sheltered life, and refined pursuits, and friends,and books, you and your sister, and women like you--i say, how can you guess thetemptations that lie round a man?" "it is difficult for us," said margaret;"but if we are worth marrying, we do guess." "cut off from decent society and familyties, what do you suppose happens to thousands of young fellows overseas?isolated. no one near.
i know by bitter experience, and yet yousay it makes 'no difference.'" "not to me."he laughed bitterly. margaret went to the side-board and helpedherself to one of the breakfast dishes. being the last down, she turned out thespirit-lamp that kept them warm. she was tender, but grave. she knew that henry was not so muchconfessing his soul as pointing out the gulf between the male soul and the female,and she did not desire to hear him on this point. "did helen come?" she asked.he shook his head.
"but that won't do at all, at all!we don't want her gossiping with mrs. bast." "good god! no!" he exclaimed, suddenlynatural. then he caught himself up."let them gossip. my game's up, though i thank you for yourunselfishness--little as my thanks are worth.""didn't she send me a message or anything?" "i heard of none." "would you ring the bell, please?""what to do?" "why, to inquire."he swaggered up to it tragically, and
sounded a peal. margaret poured herself out some coffee.the butler came, and said that miss schlegel had slept at the george, so far ashe had heard. should he go round to the george? "i'll go, thank you," said margaret, anddismissed him. "it is no good," said henry."those things leak out; you cannot stop a story once it has started. i have known cases of other men--i despisedthem once, i thought that i'm different, i shall never be tempted.oh, margaret--" he came and sat down near
her, improvising emotion. she could not bear to listen to him."we fellows all come to grief once in our time.will you believe that? there are moments when the strongest man--'let him who standeth, take heed lest he fall.'that's true, isn't it? if you knew all, you would excuse me. i was far from good influences--far evenfrom england. i was very, very lonely, and longed for awoman's voice. that's enough.
i have told you too much already for you toforgive me now." "yes, that's enough, dear.""i have"--he lowered his voice--"i have been through hell." gravely she considered this claim.had he? had he suffered tortures of remorse, or hadit been, "there! that's over. now for respectable life again"? the latter, if she read him rightly.a man who has been through hell does not boast of his virility.he is humble and hides it, if, indeed, it still exists.
only in legend does the sinner come forthpenitent, but terrible, to conquer pure woman by his resistless power.henry was anxious to be terrible, but had not got it in him. he was a good average englishman, who hadslipped. the really culpable point--hisfaithlessness to mrs. wilcox--never seemed to strike him. she longed to mention mrs. wilcox.and bit by bit the story was told her. it was a very simple story.ten years ago was the time, a garrison town in cyprus the place.
now and then he asked her whether she couldpossibly forgive him, and she answered, "i have already forgiven you, henry."she chose her words carefully, and so saved him from panic. she played the girl, until he could rebuildhis fortress and hide his soul from the world. when the butler came to clear away, henrywas in a very different mood--asked the fellow what he was in such a hurry for,complained of the noise last night in the servants' hall. margaret looked intently at the butler.
he, as a handsome young man, was faintlyattractive to her as a woman--an attraction so faint as scarcely to be perceptible, yetthe skies would have fallen if she had mentioned it to henry. on her return from the george the buildingoperations were complete, and the old henry fronted her, competent, cynical, and kind. he had made a clean breast, had beenforgiven, and the great thing now was to forget his failure, and to send it the wayof other unsuccessful investments. jacky rejoined howards end and duciestreet, and the vermilion motor-car, and the argentine hard dollars, and all thethings and people for whom he had never had
much use and had less now. their memory hampered him.he could scarcely attend to margaret who brought back disquieting news from thegeorge. helen and her clients had gone. "well, let them go--the man and his wife, imean, for the more we see of your sister the better.""but they have gone separately--helen very early, the basts just before i arrived. they have left no message.they have answered neither of my notes. i don't like to think what it all means.""what did you say in the notes?"
"i told you last night." "oh--ah--yes!dear, would you like one turn in the garden?"margaret took his arm. the beautiful weather soothed her. but the wheels of evie's wedding were stillat work, tossing the guests outwards as deftly as they had drawn them in, and shecould not be with him long. it had been arranged that they should motorto shrewsbury, whence he would go north, and she back to london with thewarringtons. for a fraction of time she was happy.
then her brain recommenced."i am afraid there has been gossiping of some kind at the george.helen would not have left unless she had heard something. i mismanaged that.it is wretched. i ought to--have parted her from that womanat once. "margaret!" he exclaimed, loosing her armimpressively. "yes--yes, henry?" "i am far from a saint--in fact, thereverse--but you have taken me, for better or worse.bygones must be bygones.
you have promised to forgive me. margaret, a promise is a promise.never mention that woman again." "except for some practical reason--never.""practical! you practical!" "yes, i'm practical," she murmured,stooping over the mowing-machine and playing with the grass which trickledthrough her fingers like sand. he had silenced her, but her fears made himuneasy. not for the first time, he was threatenedwith blackmail. he was rich and supposed to be moral; thebasts knew that he was not, and might find
it profitable to hint as much."at all events, you mustn't worry," he said. "this is a man's business."he thought intently. "on no account mention it to anybody."margaret flushed at advice so elementary, but he was really paving the way for a lie. if necessary he would deny that he had everknown mrs. bast, and prosecute her for libel.perhaps he never had known her. here was margaret, who behaved as if he hadnot. there the house.round them were half a dozen gardeners,
clearing up after his daughter's wedding. all was so solid and spruce, that the pastflew up out of sight like a spring-blind, leaving only the last five minutesunrolled. glancing at these, he saw that the carwould be round during the next five, and plunged into action. gongs were tapped, orders issued, margaretwas sent to dress, and the housemaid to sweep up the long trickle of grass that shehad left across the hall. as is man to the universe, so was the mindof mr. wilcox to the minds of some men--a concentrated light upon a tiny spot, alittle ten minutes moving self-contained
through its appointed years. no pagan he, who lives for the now, and maybe wiser than all philosophers. he lived for the five minutes that havepast, and the five to come; he had the business mind. how did he stand now, as his motor slippedout of oniton and breasted the great round hills?margaret had heard a certain rumour, but was all right. she had forgiven him, god bless her, and hefelt the manlier for it. charles and evie had not heard it, andnever must hear.
no more must paul. over his children he felt great tenderness,which he did not try to track to a cause: mrs. wilcox was too far back in his life.he did not connect her with the sudden aching love that he felt for evie. poor little evie! he trusted that cahillwould make her a decent husband. and margaret?how did she stand? she had several minor worries. clearly her sister had heard something.she dreaded meeting her in town. and she was anxious about leonard, for whomthey certainly were responsible.
nor ought mrs. bast to starve. but the main situation had not altered.she still loved henry. his actions, not his disposition, haddisappointed her, and she could bear that. and she loved her future home. standing up in the car, just where she hadleapt from it two days before, she gazed back with deep emotion upon oniton. besides the grange and the castle keep, shecould now pick out the church and the black-and-white gables of the george.there was the bridge, and the river nibbling its green peninsula.
she could even see the bathing-shed, butwhile she was looking for charles's new springboard, the forehead of the hill roseup and hid the whole scene. she never saw it again. day and night the river flows down intoengland, day after day the sun retreats into the welsh mountains, and the towerchimes, "see the conquering hero." but the wilcoxes have no part in the place,nor in any place. it is not their names that recur in theparish register. it is not their ghosts that sigh among thealders at evening. they have swept into the valley and sweptout of it, leaving a little dust and a
little money behind.