chapter cv the wages were paid once a month by thesecretary. on pay-day each batch of assistants, comingdown from tea, went into the passage and joined the long line of people waitingorderly like the audience in a queue outside a gallery door. one by one they entered the office. the secretary sat at a desk with woodenbowls of money in front of him, and he asked the employe's name; he referred to abook, quickly, after a suspicious glance at the assistant, said aloud the sum due, and
taking money out of the bowl counted itinto his hand. "thank you," he said."next." "thank you," was the reply. the assistant passed on to the secondsecretary and before leaving the room paid him four shillings for washing money, twoshillings for the club, and any fines that he might have incurred. with what he had left he went back into hisdepartment and there waited till it was time to go. most of the men in philip's house were indebt with the woman who sold the sandwiches
they generally ate for supper. she was a funny old thing, very fat, with abroad, red face, and black hair plastered neatly on each side of the forehead in thefashion shown in early pictures of queen victoria. she always wore a little black bonnet and awhite apron; her sleeves were tucked up to the elbow; she cut the sandwiches withlarge, dirty, greasy hands; and there was grease on her bodice, grease on her apron,grease on her skirt. she was called mrs. fletcher, but everyoneaddressed her as 'ma'; she was really fond of the shop assistants, whom she called herboys; she never minded giving credit
towards the end of the month, and it was known that now and then she had lentsomeone or other a few shillings when he was in straits.she was a good woman. when they were leaving or when they cameback from the holidays, the boys kissed her fat red cheek; and more than one, dismissedand unable to find another job, had got for nothing food to keep body and soultogether. the boys were sensible of her large heartand repaid her with genuine affection. there was a story they liked to tell of aman who had done well for himself at bradford, and had five shops of his own,and had come back after fifteen years and
visited ma fletcher and given her a goldwatch. philip found himself with eighteenshillings left out of his month's pay. it was the first money he had ever earnedin his life. it gave him none of the pride which mighthave been expected, but merely a feeling of dismay. the smallness of the sum emphasised thehopelessness of his position. he took fifteen shillings to mrs. athelnyto pay back part of what he owed her, but she would not take more than half asovereign. "d'you know, at that rate it'll take meeight months to settle up with you."
"as long as athelny's in work i can affordto wait, and who knows, p'raps they'll give you a rise." athelny kept on saying that he would speakto the manager about philip, it was absurd that no use should be made of his talents;but he did nothing, and philip soon came to the conclusion that the press-agent was not a person of so much importance in themanager's eyes as in his own. occasionally he saw athelny in the shop. his flamboyance was extinguished; and inneat, commonplace, shabby clothes he hurried, a subdued, unassuming little man,through the departments as though anxious
to escape notice. "when i think of how i'm wasted there," hesaid at home, "i'm almost tempted to give in my notice.there's no scope for a man like me. i'm stunted, i'm starved." mrs. athelny, quietly sewing, took nonotice of his complaints. her mouth tightened a little."it's very hard to get jobs in these times. it's regular and it's safe; i expect you'llstay there as long as you give satisfaction."it was evident that athelny would. it was interesting to see the ascendencywhich the uneducated woman, bound to him by
no legal tie, had acquired over thebrilliant, unstable man. mrs. athelny treated philip with motherlykindness now that he was in a different position, and he was touched by her anxietythat he should make a good meal. it was the solace of his life (and when hegrew used to it, the monotony of it was what chiefly appalled him) that he could goevery sunday to that friendly house. it was a joy to sit in the stately spanishchairs and discuss all manner of things with athelny. though his condition seemed so desperate henever left him to go back to harrington street without a feeling of exultation.
at first philip, in order not to forgetwhat he had learned, tried to go on reading his medical books, but he found it useless;he could not fix his attention on them after the exhausting work of the day; and it seemed hopeless to continue working whenhe did not know in how long he would be able to go back to the hospital.he dreamed constantly that he was in the wards. the awakening was painful. the sensation of other people sleeping inthe room was inexpressibly irksome to him; he had been used to solitude, and to bewith others always, never to be by himself
for an instant was at these momentshorrible to him. it was then that he found it most difficultto combat his despair. he saw himself going on with that life,first to the right, second on the left, madam, indefinitely; and having to bethankful if he was not sent away: the men who had gone to the war would be coming home soon, the firm had guaranteed to takethem back, and this must mean that others would be sacked; he would have to stirhimself even to keep the wretched post he had. there was only one thing to free him andthat was the death of his uncle.
he would get a few hundred pounds then, andon this he could finish his course at the hospital. philip began to wish with all his might forthe old man's death. he reckoned out how long he could possiblylive: he was well over seventy, philip did not know his exact age, but he must be atleast seventy-five; he suffered from chronic bronchitis and every winter had abad cough. though he knew them by heart philip readover and over again the details in his text-book of medicine of chronic bronchitisin the old. a severe winter might be too much for theold man.
with all his heart philip longed for coldand rain. he thought of it constantly, so that itbecame a monomania. uncle william was affected by the greatheat too, and in august they had three weeks of sweltering weather. philip imagined to himself that one dayperhaps a telegram would come saying that the vicar had died suddenly, and hepictured to himself his unutterable relief. as he stood at the top of the stairs anddirected people to the departments they wanted, he occupied his mind with thinkingincessantly what he would do with the money.
he did not know how much it would be,perhaps no more than five hundred pounds, but even that would be enough. he would leave the shop at once, he wouldnot bother to give notice, he would pack his box and go without saying a word toanybody; and then he would return to the that was the first thing.would he have forgotten much? in six months he could get it all back, andthen he would take his three examinations as soon as he could, midwifery first, thenmedicine and surgery. the awful fear seized him that his uncle,notwithstanding his promises, might leave everything he had to the parish or thechurch.
the thought made philip sick. he could not be so cruel. but if that happened philip was quitedetermined what to do, he would not go on in that way indefinitely; his life was onlytolerable because he could look forward to something better. if he had no hope he would have no fear. the only brave thing to do then would be tocommit suicide, and, thinking this over too, philip decided minutely what painlessdrug he would take and how he would get hold of it.
it encouraged him to think that, if thingsbecame unendurable, he had at all events a way out."second to the right, madam, and down the stairs. first on the left and straight through.mr. philips, forward please." once a month, for a week, philip was 'onduty.' he had to go to the department at seven inthe morning and keep an eye on the sweepers.when they finished he had to take the sheets off the cases and the models. then, in the evening when the assistantsleft, he had to put back the sheets on the
models and the cases and 'gang' thesweepers again. it was a dusty, dirty job. he was not allowed to read or write orsmoke, but just had to walk about, and the time hung heavily on his hands. when he went off at half past nine he hadsupper given him, and this was the only consolation; for tea at five o'clock hadleft him with a healthy appetite, and the bread and cheese, the abundant cocoa whichthe firm provided, were welcome. one day when philip had been at lynn's forthree months, mr. sampson, the buyer, came into the department, fuming with anger.
the manager, happening to notice thecostume window as he came in, had sent for the buyer and made satirical remarks uponthe colour scheme. forced to submit in silence to hissuperior's sarcasm, mr. sampson took it out of the assistants; and he rated thewretched fellow whose duty it was to dress the window. "if you want a thing well done you must doit yourself," mr. sampson stormed. "i've always said it and i always shall.one can't leave anything to you chaps. intelligent you call yourselves, do you? intelligent!"he threw the word at the assistants as
though it were the bitterest term ofreproach. "don't you know that if you put an electricblue in the window it'll kill all the other blues?"he looked round the department ferociously, and his eye fell upon philip. "you'll dress the window next friday,carey. let's see what you can make of it."he went into his office, muttering angrily. philip's heart sank. when friday morning came he went into thewindow with a sickening sense of shame. his cheeks were burning.
it was horrible to display himself to thepassers-by, and though he told himself it was foolish to give way to such a feelinghe turned his back to the street. there was not much chance that any of thestudents at the hospital would pass along oxford street at that hour, and he knewhardly anyone else in london; but as philip worked, with a huge lump in his throat, he fancied that on turning round he wouldcatch the eye of some man he knew. he made all the haste he could. by the simple observation that all redswent together, and by spacing the costumes more than was usual, philip got a very goodeffect; and when the buyer went into the
street to look at the result he wasobviously pleased. "i knew i shouldn't go far wrong in puttingyou on the window. the fact is, you and me are gentlemen, mindyou i wouldn't say this in the department, but you and me are gentlemen, and thatalways tells. it's no good your telling me it doesn'ttell, because i know it does tell." philip was put on the job regularly, but hecould not accustom himself to the publicity; and he dreaded friday morning,on which the window was dressed, with a terror that made him awake at five o'clock and lie sleepless with sickness in hisheart.
the girls in the department noticed hisshamefaced way, and they very soon discovered his trick of standing with hisback to the street. they laughed at him and called him 'sidey.' "i suppose you're afraid your aunt'll comealong and cut you out of her will." on the whole he got on well enough with thegirls. they thought him a little queer; but hisclub-foot seemed to excuse his not being like the rest, and they found in due coursethat he was good-natured. he never minded helping anyone, and he waspolite and even tempered. "you can see he's a gentleman," they said.
"very reserved, isn't he?" said one youngwoman, to whose passionate enthusiasm for the theatre he had listened unmoved. most of them had 'fellers,' and those whohadn't said they had rather than have it supposed that no one had an inclination forthem. one or two showed signs of being willing tostart a flirtation with philip, and he watched their manoeuvres with graveamusement. he had had enough of love-making for sometime; and he was nearly always tired and often hungry. chapter cvi
philip avoided the places he had known inhappier times. the little gatherings at the tavern in beakstreet were broken up: macalister, having let down his friends, no longer went there,and hayward was at the cape. only lawson remained; and philip, feelingthat now the painter and he had nothing in common, did not wish to see him; but onesaturday afternoon, after dinner, having changed his clothes he walked down regent street to go to the free library in st.martin's lane, meaning to spend the afternoon there, and suddenly found himselfface to face with him. his first instinct was to pass on without aword, but lawson did not give him the
opportunity."where on earth have you been all this time?" he cried. "i?" said philip."i wrote you and asked you to come to the studio for a beano and you never evenanswered." "i didn't get your letter." "no, i know.i went to the hospital to ask for you, and i saw my letter in the rack.have you chucked the medical?" philip hesitated for a moment. he was ashamed to tell the truth, but theshame he felt angered him, and he forced
himself to speak.he could not help reddening. "yes, i lost the little money i had. i couldn't afford to go on with it.""i say, i'm awfully sorry. what are you doing?""i'm a shop-walker." the words choked philip, but he wasdetermined not to shirk the truth. he kept his eyes on lawson and saw hisembarrassment. philip smiled savagely. "if you went into lynn and sedley, and madeyour way into the 'made robes' department, you would see me in a frock coat, walkingabout with a degage air and directing
ladies who want to buy petticoats orstockings. first to the right, madam, and second onthe left." lawson, seeing that philip was making ajest of it, laughed awkwardly. he did not know what to say. the picture that philip called up horrifiedhim, but he was afraid to show his sympathy."that's a bit of a change for you," he said. his words seemed absurd to him, andimmediately he wished he had not said them. philip flushed darkly."a bit," he said.
"by the way, i owe you five bob." he put his hand in his pocket and pulledout some silver. "oh, it doesn't matter.i'd forgotten all about it." "go on, take it." lawson received the money silently.they stood in the middle of the pavement, and people jostled them as they passed. there was a sardonic twinkle in philip'seyes, which made the painter intensely uncomfortable, and he could not tell thatphilip's heart was heavy with despair. lawson wanted dreadfully to do something,but he did not know what to do.
"i say, won't you come to the studio andhave a talk?" "no," said philip. "why not?""there's nothing to talk about." he saw the pain come into lawson's eyes, hecould not help it, he was sorry, but he had to think of himself; he could not bear thethought of discussing his situation, he could endure it only by determiningresolutely not to think about it. he was afraid of his weakness if once hebegan to open his heart. moreover, he took irresistible dislikes tothe places where he had been miserable: he remembered the humiliation he had enduredwhen he had waited in that studio, ravenous
with hunger, for lawson to offer him a meal, and the last occasion when he hadtaken the five shillings off him. he hated the sight of lawson, because herecalled those days of utter abasement. "then look here, come and dine with me onenight. choose your own evening."philip was touched with the painter's kindness. all sorts of people were strangely kind tohim, he thought. "it's awfully good of you, old man, but i'drather not." he held out his hand.
"good-bye."lawson, troubled by a behaviour which seemed inexplicable, took his hand, andphilip quickly limped away. his heart was heavy; and, as was usual withhim, he began to reproach himself for what he had done: he did not know what madnessof pride had made him refuse the offered friendship. but he heard someone running behind him andpresently lawson's voice calling him; he stopped and suddenly the feeling ofhostility got the better of him; he presented to lawson a cold, set face. "what is it?""i suppose you heard about hayward, didn't
you?""i know he went to the cape." "he died, you know, soon after landing." for a moment philip did not answer.he could hardly believe his ears. "how?" he asked."oh, enteric. hard luck, wasn't it? i thought you mightn't know.gave me a bit of a turn when i heard it." lawson nodded quickly and walked away.philip felt a shiver pass through his heart. he had never before lost a friend of hisown age, for the death of cronshaw, a man
so much older than himself, had seemed tocome in the normal course of things. the news gave him a peculiar shock. it reminded him of his own mortality, forlike everyone else philip, knowing perfectly that all men must die, had nointimate feeling that the same must apply to himself; and hayward's death, though he had long ceased to have any warm feelingfor him, affected him deeply. he remembered on a sudden all the goodtalks they had had, and it pained him to think that they would never talk with oneanother again; he remembered their first meeting and the pleasant months they hadspent together in heidelberg.
philip's heart sank as he thought of thelost years. he walked on mechanically, not noticingwhere he went, and realised suddenly, with a movement of irritation, that instead ofturning down the haymarket he had sauntered along shaftesbury avenue. it bored him to retrace his steps; andbesides, with that news, he did not want to read, he wanted to sit alone and think.he made up his mind to go to the british museum. solitude was now his only luxury. since he had been at lynn's he had oftengone there and sat in front of the groups
from the parthenon; and, not deliberatelythinking, had allowed their divine masses to rest his troubled soul. but this afternoon they had nothing to sayto him, and after a few minutes, impatiently, he wandered out of the room. there were too many people, provincialswith foolish faces, foreigners poring over guide-books; their hideousness besmirchedthe everlasting masterpieces, their restlessness troubled the god's immortalrepose. he went into another room and here therewas hardly anyone. philip sat down wearily.
his nerves were on edge.he could not get the people out of his mind. sometimes at lynn's they affected him inthe same way, and he looked at them file past him with horror; they were so ugly andthere was such meanness in their faces, it was terrifying; their features were distorted with paltry desires, and you feltthey were strange to any ideas of beauty. they had furtive eyes and weak chins.there was no wickedness in them, but only pettiness and vulgarity. their humour was a low facetiousness.
sometimes he found himself looking at themto see what animal they resembled (he tried not to, for it quickly became anobsession,) and he saw in them all the sheep or the horse or the fox or the goat. human beings filled him with disgust.but presently the influence of the place descended upon him.he felt quieter. he began to look absently at the tombstoneswith which the room was lined. they were the work of athenian stone masonsof the fourth and fifth centuries before christ, and they were very simple, work ofno great talent but with the exquisite spirit of athens upon them; time had
mellowed the marble to the colour of honey,so that unconsciously one thought of the bees of hymettus, and softened theiroutlines. some represented a nude figure, seated on abench, some the departure of the dead from those who loved him, and some the deadclasping hands with one who remained behind. on all was the tragic word farewell; thatand nothing more. their simplicity was infinitely touching. friend parted from friend, the son from hismother, and the restraint made the survivor's grief more poignant.
it was so long, long ago, and century uponcentury had passed over that unhappiness; for two thousand years those who wept hadbeen dust as those they wept for. yet the woe was alive still, and it filledphilip's heart so that he felt compassion spring up in it, and he said:"poor things, poor things." and it came to him that the gaping sight-seers and the fat strangers with their guide-books, and all those mean, commonpeople who thronged the shop, with their trivial desires and vulgar cares, weremortal and must die. they too loved and must part from thosethey loved, the son from his mother, the wife from her husband; and perhaps it wasmore tragic because their lives were ugly
and sordid, and they knew nothing that gavebeauty to the world. there was one stone which was verybeautiful, a bas relief of two young men holding each other's hand; and thereticence of line, the simplicity, made one like to think that the sculptor here hadbeen touched with a genuine emotion. it was an exquisite memorial to that thanwhich the world offers but one thing more precious, to a friendship; and as philiplooked at it, he felt the tears come to his eyes. he thought of hayward and his eageradmiration for him when first they met, and how disillusion had come and thenindifference, till nothing held them
together but habit and old memories. it was one of the queer things of life thatyou saw a person every day for months and were so intimate with him that you couldnot imagine existence without him; then separation came, and everything went on in the same way, and the companion who hadseemed essential proved unnecessary. your life proceeded and you did not evenmiss him. philip thought of those early days inheidelberg when hayward, capable of great things, had been full of enthusiasm for thefuture, and how, little by little, achieving nothing, he had resigned himselfto failure.
now he was dead.his death had been as futile as his life. he died ingloriously, of a stupid disease,failing once more, even at the end, to accomplish anything.it was just the same now as if he had never lived. philip asked himself desperately what wasthe use of living at all. it all seemed inane. it was the same with cronshaw: it was quiteunimportant that he had lived; he was dead and forgotten, his book of poems sold inremainder by second-hand booksellers; his life seemed to have served nothing except
to give a pushing journalist occasion towrite an article in a review. and philip cried out in his soul:"what is the use of it?" the effort was so incommensurate with theresult. the bright hopes of youth had to be paidfor at such a bitter price of disillusionment. pain and disease and unhappiness weigheddown the scale so heavily. what did it all mean? he thought of his own life, the high hopeswith which he had entered upon it, the limitations which his body forced upon him,his friendlessness, and the lack of
affection which had surrounded his youth. he did not know that he had ever doneanything but what seemed best to do, and what a cropper he had come! other men, with no more advantages than he,succeeded, and others again, with many more, failed.it seemed pure chance. the rain fell alike upon the just and uponthe unjust, and for nothing was there a why and a wherefore. thinking of cronshaw, philip remembered thepersian rug which he had given him, telling him that it offered an answer to hisquestion upon the meaning of life; and
suddenly the answer occurred to him: he chuckled: now that he had it, it was likeone of the puzzles which you worry over till you are shown the solution and thencannot imagine how it could ever have escaped you. the answer was obvious.life had no meaning. on the earth, satellite of a star speedingthrough space, living things had arisen under the influence of conditions whichwere part of the planet's history; and as there had been a beginning of life upon it so, under the influence of otherconditions, there would be an end: man, no
more significant than other forms of life,had come not as the climax of creation but as a physical reaction to the environment. philip remembered the story of the easternking who, desiring to know the history of man, was brought by a sage five hundredvolumes; busy with affairs of state, he bade him go and condense it; in twenty years the sage returned and his history nowwas in no more than fifty volumes, but the king, too old then to read so manyponderous tomes, bade him go and shorten it once more; twenty years passed again and the sage, old and gray, brought a singlebook in which was the knowledge the king
had sought; but the king lay on his death-bed, and he had no time to read even that; and then the sage gave him the history of man in a single line; it was this: he wasborn, he suffered, and he died. there was no meaning in life, and man byliving served no end. it was immaterial whether he was born ornot born, whether he lived or ceased to live.life was insignificant and death without consequence. philip exulted, as he had exulted in hisboyhood when the weight of a belief in god was lifted from his shoulders: it seemed tohim that the last burden of responsibility
was taken from him; and for the first timehe was utterly free. his insignificance was turned to power, andhe felt himself suddenly equal with the cruel fate which had seemed to persecutehim; for, if life was meaningless, the world was robbed of its cruelty. what he did or left undone did not matter.failure was unimportant and success amounted to nothing. he was the most inconsiderate creature inthat swarming mass of mankind which for a brief space occupied the surface of theearth; and he was almighty because he had wrenched from chaos the secret of itsnothingness.
thoughts came tumbling over one another inphilip's eager fancy, and he took long breaths of joyous satisfaction. he felt inclined to leap and sing.he had not been so happy for months. "oh, life," he cried in his heart, "ohlife, where is thy sting?" for the same uprush of fancy which hadshown him with all the force of mathematical demonstration that life had nomeaning, brought with it another idea; and that was why cronshaw, he imagined, hadgiven him the persian rug. as the weaver elaborated his pattern for noend but the pleasure of his aesthetic sense, so might a man live his life, or ifone was forced to believe that his actions
were outside his choosing, so might a manlook at his life, that it made a pattern. there was as little need to do this asthere was use. it was merely something he did for his ownpleasure. out of the manifold events of his life, hisdeeds, his feelings, his thoughts, he might make a design, regular, elaborate,complicated, or beautiful; and though it might be no more than an illusion that he had the power of selection, though it mightbe no more than a fantastic legerdemain in which appearances were interwoven withmoonbeams, that did not matter: it seemed, and so to him it was.
in the vast warp of life (a river arisingfrom no spring and flowing endlessly to no sea), with the background to his fanciesthat there was no meaning and that nothing was important, a man might get a personal satisfaction in selecting the variousstrands that worked out the pattern. there was one pattern, the most obvious,perfect, and beautiful, in which a man was born, grew to manhood, married, producedchildren, toiled for his bread, and died; but there were others, intricate and wonderful, in which happiness did not enterand in which success was not attempted; and in them might be discovered a moretroubling grace.
some lives, and hayward's was among them,the blind indifference of chance cut off while the design was still imperfect; andthen the solace was comfortable that it did not matter; other lives, such as cronshaw's, offered a pattern which wasdifficult to follow, the point of view had to be shifted and old standards had to bealtered before one could understand that such a life was its own justification. philip thought that in throwing over thedesire for happiness he was casting aside the last of his illusions. his life had seemed horrible when it wasmeasured by its happiness, but now he
seemed to gather strength as he realisedthat it might be measured by something else. happiness mattered as little as pain.they came in, both of them, as all the other details of his life came in, to theelaboration of the design. he seemed for an instant to stand above theaccidents of his existence, and he felt that they could not affect him again asthey had done before. whatever happened to him now would be onemore motive to add to the complexity of the pattern, and when the end approached hewould rejoice in its completion. it would be a work of art, and it would benone the less beautiful because he alone
knew of its existence, and with his deathit would at once cease to be. philip was happy. chapter cvii mr. sampson, the buyer, took a fancy tophilip. mr. sampson was very dashing, and the girlsin his department said they would not be surprised if he married one of the richcustomers. he lived out of town and often impressedthe assistants by putting on his evening clothes in the office. sometimes he would be seen by those onsweeping duty coming in next morning still
dressed, and they would wink gravely to oneanother while he went into his office and changed into a frock coat. on these occasions, having slipped out fora hurried breakfast, he also would wink at philip as he walked up the stairs on hisway back and rub his hands. "what a night! what a night!" he said."my word!" he told philip that he was the onlygentleman there, and he and philip were the only fellows who knew what life was. having said this, he changed his mannersuddenly, called philip mr. carey instead
of old boy, assumed the importance due tohis position as buyer, and put philip back into his place of shop-walker. lynn and sedley received fashion papersfrom paris once a week and adapted the costumes illustrated in them to the needsof their customers. their clientele was peculiar. the most substantial part consisted ofwomen from the smaller manufacturing towns, who were too elegant to have their frocksmade locally and not sufficiently acquainted with london to discover gooddressmakers within their means. beside these, incongruously, was a largenumber of music-hall artistes.
this was a connection that mr. sampson hadworked up for himself and took great pride in. they had begun by getting their stage-costumes at lynn's, and he had induced many of them to get their other clothes there aswell. "as good as paquin and half the price," hesaid. he had a persuasive, hail-fellow well-metair with him which appealed to customers of this sort, and they said to one another: "what's the good of throwing money awaywhen you can get a coat and skirt at lynn's that nobody knows don't come from paris?"
mr. sampson was very proud of hisfriendship with the popular favourites whose frocks he made, and when he went outto dinner at two o'clock on sunday with miss victoria virgo--"she was wearing that powder blue we made her and i lay shedidn't let on it come from us, i 'ad to tell her meself that if i 'adn't designedit with my own 'ands i'd have said it must come from paquin"--at her beautiful house in tulse hill, he regaled the departmentnext day with abundant details. philip had never paid much attention towomen's clothes, but in course of time he began, a little amused at himself, to takea technical interest in them.
he had an eye for colour which was morehighly trained than that of anyone in the department, and he had kept from hisstudent days in paris some knowledge of line. mr. sampson, an ignorant man conscious ofhis incompetence, but with a shrewdness that enabled him to combine other people'ssuggestions, constantly asked the opinion of the assistants in his department in making up new designs; and he had thequickness to see that philip's criticisms were valuable.but he was very jealous, and would never allow that he took anyone's advice.
when he had altered some drawing inaccordance with philip's suggestion, he always finished up by saying:"well, it comes round to my own idea in the end." one day, when philip had been at the shopfor five months, miss alice antonia, the well-known serio-comic, came in and askedto see mr. sampson. she was a large woman, with flaxen hair,and a boldly painted face, a metallic voice, and the breezy manner of acomedienne accustomed to be on friendly terms with the gallery boys of provincialmusic-halls. she had a new song and wished mr. sampsonto design a costume for her.
"i want something striking," she said. "i don't want any old thing you know.i want something different from what anybody else has." mr. sampson, bland and familiar, said hewas quite certain they could get her the very thing she required.he showed her sketches. "i know there's nothing here that would do,but i just want to show you the kind of thing i would suggest." "oh no, that's not the sort of thing atall," she said, as she glanced at them impatiently.
"what i want is something that'll just hit'em in the jaw and make their front teeth rattle." "yes, i quite understand, miss antonia,"said the buyer, with a bland smile, but his eyes grew blank and stupid."i expect i shall 'ave to pop over to paris for it in the end." "oh, i think we can give you satisfaction,miss antonia. what you can get in paris you can gethere." when she had swept out of the departmentmr. sampson, a little worried, discussed the matter with mrs. hodges."she's a caution and no mistake," said mrs.
hodges. "alice, where art thou?" remarked thebuyer, irritably, and thought he had scored a point against her. his ideas of music-hall costumes had nevergone beyond short skirts, a swirl of lace, and glittering sequins; but miss antoniahad expressed herself on that subject in no uncertain terms. "oh, my aunt!" she said.and the invocation was uttered in such a tone as to indicate a rooted antipathy toanything so commonplace, even if she had not added that sequins gave her the sick.
mr. sampson 'got out' one or two ideas, butmrs. hodges told him frankly she did not think they would do.it was she who gave philip the suggestion: "can you draw, phil? why don't you try your 'and and see whatyou can do?" philip bought a cheap box of water colours,and in the evening while bell, the noisy lad of sixteen, whistling three notes,busied himself with his stamps, he made one or two sketches. he remembered some of the costumes he hadseen in paris, and he adapted one of them, getting his effect from a combination ofviolent, unusual colours.
the result amused him and next morning heshowed it to mrs. hodges. she was somewhat astonished, but took it atonce to the buyer. "it's unusual," he said, "there's nodenying that." it puzzled him, and at the same time histrained eye saw that it would make up admirably. to save his face he began makingsuggestions for altering it, but mrs. hodges, with more sense, advised him toshow it to miss antonia as it was. "it's neck or nothing with her, and she maytake a fancy to it." "it's a good deal more nothing than neck,"said mr. sampson, looking at the
decolletage. "he can draw, can't he?fancy 'im keeping it dark all this time." when miss antonia was announced, the buyerplaced the design on the table in such a position that it must catch her eye themoment she was shown into his office. she pounced on it at once. "what's that?" she said."why can't i 'ave that?" "that's just an idea we got out for you,"said mr. sampson casually. "d'you like it?" "do i like it!" she said."give me 'alf a pint with a little drop of
gin in it.""ah, you see, you don't have to go to paris. you've only got to say what you want andthere you are." the work was put in hand at once, andphilip felt quite a thrill of satisfaction when he saw the costume completed. the buyer and mrs. hodges took all thecredit of it; but he did not care, and when he went with them to the tivoli to see missantonia wear it for the first time he was filled with elation. in answer to her questions he at last toldmrs. hodges how he had learnt to draw--
fearing that the people he lived with wouldthink he wanted to put on airs, he had always taken the greatest care to say nothing about his past occupations--and sherepeated the information to mr. sampson. the buyer said nothing to him on thesubject, but began to treat him a little more deferentially and presently gave himdesigns to do for two of the country customers. they met with satisfaction. then he began to speak to his clients of a"clever young feller, paris art-student, you know," who worked for him; and soonphilip, ensconced behind a screen, in his
shirt sleeves, was drawing from morningtill night. sometimes he was so busy that he had todine at three with the 'stragglers.' he liked it, because there were few of themand they were all too tired to talk; the food also was better, for it consisted ofwhat was left over from the buyers' table. philip's rise from shop-walker to designerof costumes had a great effect on the department.he realised that he was an object of envy. harris, the assistant with the queer-shapedhead, who was the first person he had known at the shop and had attached himself tophilip, could not conceal his bitterness. "some people 'ave all the luck," he said.
"you'll be a buyer yourself one of thesedays, and we shall all be calling you sir." he told philip that he should demand higherwages, for notwithstanding the difficult work he was now engaged in, he received nomore than the six shillings a week with which he started. but it was a ticklish matter to ask for arise. the manager had a sardonic way of dealingwith such applicants. "think you're worth more, do you? how much d'you think you're worth, eh?"the assistant, with his heart in his mouth, would suggest that he thought he ought tohave another two shillings a week.
"oh, very well, if you think you're worthit. you can 'ave it." then he paused and sometimes, with a steelyeye, added: "and you can 'ave your notice too."it was no use then to withdraw your request, you had to go. the manager's idea was that assistants whowere dissatisfied did not work properly, and if they were not worth a rise it wasbetter to sack them at once. the result was that they never asked forone unless they were prepared to leave. philip hesitated.
he was a little suspicious of the men inhis room who told him that the buyer could not do without him. they were decent fellows, but their senseof humour was primitive, and it would have seemed funny to them if they had persuadedphilip to ask for more wages and he were sacked. he could not forget the mortification hehad suffered in looking for work, he did not wish to expose himself to that again,and he knew there was small chance of his getting elsewhere a post as designer: there were hundreds of people about who coulddraw as well as he.
but he wanted money very badly; his clotheswere worn out, and the heavy carpets rotted his socks and boots; he had almostpersuaded himself to take the venturesome step when one morning, passing up from breakfast in the basement through thepassage that led to the manager's office, he saw a queue of men waiting in answer toan advertisement. there were about a hundred of them, andwhichever was engaged would be offered his keep and the same six shillings a week thatphilip had. he saw some of them cast envious glances athim because he had employment. it made him shudder.he dared not risk it.
> chapter cviii the winter passed.now and then philip went to the hospital, slinking in when it was late and there waslittle chance of meeting anyone he knew, to see whether there were letters for him. at easter he received one from his uncle.he was surprised to hear from him, for the vicar of blackstable had never written himmore than half a dozen letters in his whole life, and they were on business matters. dear philip,if you are thinking of taking a holiday
soon and care to come down here i shall bepleased to see you. i was very ill with my bronchitis in thewinter and doctor wigram never expected me to pull through.i have a wonderful constitution and i made, thank god, a marvellous recovery. yours affectionately, william carey. the letter made philip angry.how did his uncle think he was living? he did not even trouble to inquire.he might have starved for all the old man cared. but as he walked home something struck him;he stopped under a lamp-post and read the
letter again; the handwriting had no longerthe business-like firmness which had characterised it; it was larger and wavering: perhaps the illness had shakenhim more than he was willing to confess, and he sought in that formal note toexpress a yearning to see the only relation he had in the world. philip wrote back that he could come downto blackstable for a fortnight in july. the invitation was convenient, for he hadnot known what to do, with his brief holiday. the athelnys went hopping in september, buthe could not then be spared, since during
that month the autumn models were prepared. the rule of lynn's was that everyone musttake a fortnight whether he wanted it or not; and during that time, if he hadnowhere to go, the assistant might sleep in his room, but he was not allowed food. a number had no friends within reasonabledistance of london, and to these the holiday was an awkward interval when theyhad to provide food out of their small wages and, with the whole day on theirhands, had nothing to spend. philip had not been out of london since hisvisit to brighton with mildred, now two years before, and he longed for fresh airand the silence of the sea.
he thought of it with such a passionatedesire, all through may and june, that, when at length the time came for him to go,he was listless. on his last evening, when he talked withthe buyer of one or two jobs he had to leave over, mr. sampson suddenly said tohim: "what wages have you been getting?" "six shillings.""i don't think it's enough. i'll see that you're put up to twelve whenyou come back." "thank you very much," smiled philip. "i'm beginning to want some new clothesbadly."
"if you stick to your work and don't golarking about with the girls like what some of them do, i'll look after you, carey. mind you, you've got a lot to learn, butyou're promising, i'll say that for you, you're promising, and i'll see that you geta pound a week as soon as you deserve it." philip wondered how long he would have towait for that. two years?he was startled at the change in his uncle. when last he had seen him he was a stoutman, who held himself upright, clean- shaven, with a round, sensual face; but hehad fallen in strangely, his skin was yellow; there were great bags under theeyes, and he was bent and old.
he had grown a beard during his lastillness, and he walked very slowly. "i'm not at my best today," he said whenphilip, having just arrived, was sitting with him in the dining-room."the heat upsets me." philip, asking after the affairs of theparish, looked at him and wondered how much longer he could last. a hot summer would finish him; philipnoticed how thin his hands were; they trembled.it meant so much to philip. if he died that summer he could go back tothe hospital at the beginning of the winter session; his heart leaped at the thought ofreturning no more to lynn's.
at dinner the vicar sat humped up on hischair, and the housekeeper who had been with him since his wife's death said:"shall mr. philip carve, sir?" the old man, who had been about to do sofrom disinclination to confess his weakness, seemed glad at the firstsuggestion to relinquish the attempt. "you've got a very good appetite," saidphilip. "oh yes, i always eat well.but i'm thinner than when you were here last. i'm glad to be thinner, i didn't like beingso fat. dr. wigram thinks i'm all the better forbeing thinner than i was."
when dinner was over the housekeeperbrought him some medicine. "show the prescription to master philip,"he said. "he's a doctor too. i'd like him to see that he thinks it's allright. i told dr. wigram that now you're studyingto be a doctor he ought to make a reduction in his charges. it's dreadful the bills i've had to pay.he came every day for two months, and he charges five shillings a visit.it's a lot of money, isn't it? he comes twice a week still.
i'm going to tell him he needn't come anymore. i'll send for him if i want him."he looked at philip eagerly while he read the prescriptions. they were narcotics.there were two of them, and one was a medicine which the vicar explained he wasto use only if his neuritis grew unendurable. "i'm very careful," he said."i don't want to get into the opium habit." he did not mention his nephew's affairs. philip fancied that it was by way ofprecaution, in case he asked for money,
that his uncle kept dwelling on thefinancial calls upon him. he had spent so much on the doctor and somuch more on the chemist, while he was ill they had had to have a fire every day inhis bed-room, and now on sunday he needed a carriage to go to church in the evening aswell as in the morning. philip felt angrily inclined to say he neednot be afraid, he was not going to borrow from him, but he held his tongue. it seemed to him that everything had leftthe old man now but two things, pleasure in his food and a grasping desire for money.it was a hideous old age. in the afternoon dr. wigram came, and afterthe visit philip walked with him to the
garden gate."how d'you think he is?" said philip. dr. wigram was more anxious not to do wrongthan to do right, and he never hazarded a definite opinion if he could help it.he had practised at blackstable for five- and-thirty years. he had the reputation of being very safe,and many of his patients thought it much better that a doctor should be safe thanclever. there was a new man at blackstable--he hadbeen settled there for ten years, but they still looked upon him as an interloper--andhe was said to be very clever; but he had not much practice among the better people,
because no one really knew anything abouthim. "oh, he's as well as can be expected," saiddr. wigram in answer to philip's inquiry. "has he got anything seriously the matterwith him?" "well, philip, your uncle is no longer ayoung man," said the doctor with a cautious little smile, which suggested that afterall the vicar of blackstable was not an old man either. "he seems to think his heart's in a badway." "i'm not satisfied with his heart,"hazarded the doctor, "i think he should be careful, very careful."
on the tip of philip's tongue was thequestion: how much longer can he live? he was afraid it would shock. in these matters a periphrase was demandedby the decorum of life, but, as he asked another question instead, it flashedthrough him that the doctor must be accustomed to the impatience of a sickman's relatives. he must see through their sympatheticexpressions. philip, with a faint smile at his ownhypocrisy, cast down his eyes. "i suppose he's in no immediate danger?"this was the kind of question the doctor hated.
if you said a patient couldn't live anothermonth the family prepared itself for a bereavement, and if then the patient livedon they visited the medical attendant with the resentment they felt at having tormented themselves before it wasnecessary. on the other hand, if you said the patientmight live a year and he died in a week the family said you did not know your business. they thought of all the affection theywould have lavished on the defunct if they had known the end was so near.dr. wigram made the gesture of washing his hands.
"i don't think there's any grave risk solong as he--remains as he is," he ventured at last. "but on the other hand, we mustn't forgetthat he's no longer a young man, and well, the machine is wearing out. if he gets over the hot weather i don't seewhy he shouldn't get on very comfortably till the winter, and then if the winterdoes not bother him too much, well, i don't see why anything should happen." philip went back to the dining-room wherehis uncle was sitting. with his skull-cap and a crochet shawl overhis shoulders he looked grotesque.
his eyes had been fixed on the door, andthey rested on philip's face as he entered. philip saw that his uncle had been waitinganxiously for his return. "well, what did he say about me?" philip understood suddenly that the old manwas frightened of dying. it made philip a little ashamed, so that helooked away involuntarily. he was always embarrassed by the weaknessof human nature. "he says he thinks you're much better,"said philip. a gleam of delight came into his uncle'seyes. "i've got a wonderful constitution," hesaid.
"what else did he say?" he addedsuspiciously. philip smiled. "he said that if you take care of yourselfthere's no reason why you shouldn't live to be a hundred.""i don't know that i can expect to do that, but i don't see why i shouldn't see eighty. my mother lived till she was eighty-four." there was a little table by the side of mr.carey's chair, and on it were a bible and the large volume of the common prayer fromwhich for so many years he had been accustomed to read to his household.
he stretched out now his shaking hand andtook his bible. "those old patriarchs lived to a jolly goodold age, didn't they?" he said, with a queer little laugh in which philip read asort of timid appeal. the old man clung to life. yet he believed implicitly all that hisreligion taught him. he had no doubt in the immortality of thesoul, and he felt that he had conducted himself well enough, according to hiscapacities, to make it very likely that he would go to heaven. in his long career to how many dyingpersons must he have administered the
consolations of religion!perhaps he was like the doctor who could get no benefit from his own prescriptions. philip was puzzled and shocked by thateager cleaving to the earth. he wondered what nameless horror was at theback of the old man's mind. he would have liked to probe into his soulso that he might see in its nakedness the dreadful dismay of the unknown which hesuspected. the fortnight passed quickly and philipreturned to london. he passed a sweltering august behind hisscreen in the costumes department, drawing in his shirt sleeves.
the assistants in relays went for theirholidays. in the evening philip generally went intohyde park and listened to the band. growing more accustomed to his work ittired him less, and his mind, recovering from its long stagnation, sought for freshactivity. his whole desire now was set on his uncle'sdeath. he kept on dreaming the same dream: atelegram was handed to him one morning, early, which announced the vicar's suddendemise, and freedom was in his grasp. when he awoke and found it was nothing buta dream he was filled with sombre rage. he occupied himself, now that the eventseemed likely to happen at any time, with
elaborate plans for the future. in these he passed rapidly over the yearwhich he must spend before it was possible for him to be qualified and dwelt on thejourney to spain on which his heart was set. he read books about that country, which heborrowed from the free library, and already he knew from photographs exactly what eachcity looked like. he saw himself lingering in cordova on thebridge that spanned the gaudalquivir; he wandered through tortuous streets in toledoand sat in churches where he wrung from el greco the secret which he felt themysterious painter held for him.
athelny entered into his humour, and onsunday afternoons they made out elaborate itineraries so that philip should missnothing that was noteworthy. to cheat his impatience philip began toteach himself spanish, and in the deserted sitting-room in harrington street he spentan hour every evening doing spanish exercises and puzzling out with an english translation by his side the magnificentphrases of don quixote. athelny gave him a lesson once a week, andphilip learned a few sentences to help him on his journey. mrs. athelny laughed at them."you two and your spanish!" she said.
"why don't you do something useful?" but sally, who was growing up and was toput up her hair at christmas, stood by sometimes and listened in her grave waywhile her father and philip exchanged remarks in a language she did notunderstand. she thought her father the most wonderfulman who had ever existed, and she expressed her opinion of philip only through herfather's commendations. "father thinks a rare lot of your unclephilip," she remarked to her brothers and sisters. thorpe, the eldest boy, was old enough togo on the arethusa, and athelny regaled his
family with magnificent descriptions of theappearance the lad would make when he came back in uniform for his holidays. as soon as sally was seventeen she was tobe apprenticed to a dressmaker. athelny in his rhetorical way talked of thebirds, strong enough to fly now, who were leaving the parental nest, and with tearsin his eyes told them that the nest would be there still if ever they wished toreturn to it. a shakedown and a dinner would always betheirs, and the heart of a father would never be closed to the troubles of hischildren. "you do talk, athelny," said his wife.
"i don't know what trouble they're likelyto get into so long as they're steady. so long as you're honest and not afraid ofwork you'll never be out of a job, that's what i think, and i can tell you i shan'tbe sorry when i see the last of them earning their own living." child-bearing, hard work, and constantanxiety were beginning to tell on mrs. athelny; and sometimes her back ached inthe evening so that she had to sit down and rest herself. her ideal of happiness was to have a girlto do the rough work so that she need not herself get up before seven.athelny waved his beautiful white hand.
"ah, my betty, we've deserved well of thestate, you and i. we've reared nine healthy children, and theboys shall serve their king; the girls shall cook and sew and in their turn breedhealthy children." he turned to sally, and to comfort her forthe anti-climax of the contrast added grandiloquently: "they also serve who onlystand and wait." athelny had lately added socialism to theother contradictory theories he vehemently believed in, and he stated now:"in a socialist state we should be richly pensioned, you and i, betty." "oh, don't talk to me about yoursocialists, i've got no patience with
them," she cried. "it only means that another lot of lazyloafers will make a good thing out of the working classes. my motto is, leave me alone; i don't wantanyone interfering with me; i'll make the best of a bad job, and the devil take thehindmost." "d'you call life a bad job?" said athelny. "never!we've had our ups and downs, we've had our struggles, we've always been poor, but it'sbeen worth it, ay, worth it a hundred times i say when i look round at my children."
"you do talk, athelny," she said, lookingat him, not with anger but with scornful calm. "you've had the pleasant part of thechildren, i've had the bearing of them, and the bearing with them. i don't say that i'm not fond of them, nowthey're there, but if i had my time over again i'd remain single. why, if i'd remained single i might have alittle shop by now, and four or five hundred pounds in the bank, and a girl todo the rough work. oh, i wouldn't go over my life again, notfor something."
philip thought of the countless millions towhom life is no more than unending labour, neither beautiful nor ugly, but just to beaccepted in the same spirit as one accepts the changes of the seasons. fury seized him because it all seemeduseless. he could not reconcile himself to thebelief that life had no meaning and yet everything he saw, all his thoughts, addedto the force of his conviction. but though fury seized him it was a joyfulfury. life was not so horrible if it wasmeaningless, and he faced it with a strange sense of power.
chapter cix the autumn passed into winter. philip had left his address with mrs.foster, his uncle's housekeeper, so that she might communicate with him, but stillwent once a week to the hospital on the chance of there being a letter. one evening he saw his name on an envelopein a handwriting he had hoped never to see again.it gave him a queer feeling. for a little while he could not bringhimself to take it. it brought back a host of hateful memories.but at length, impatient with himself, he
ripped open the envelope. 7 william street, fitzroy square.dear phil, can i see you for a minute or two as soonas possible. i am in awful trouble and don't know whatto do. it's not money.yours truly, mildred. he tore the letter into little bits andgoing out into the street scattered them in the darkness."i'll see her damned," he muttered. a feeling of disgust surged up in him atthe thought of seeing her again. he did not care if she was in distress, itserved her right whatever it was, he
thought of her with hatred, and the love hehad had for her aroused his loathing. his recollections filled him with nausea,and as he walked across the thames he drew himself aside in an instinctive withdrawalfrom his thought of her. he went to bed, but he could not sleep; hewondered what was the matter with her, and he could not get out of his head the fearthat she was ill and hungry; she would not have written to him unless she weredesperate. he was angry with himself for his weakness,but he knew that he would have no peace unless he saw her. next morning he wrote a letter-card andposted it on his way to the shop.
he made it as stiff as he could and saidmerely that he was sorry she was in difficulties and would come to the addressshe had given at seven o'clock that evening. it was that of a shabby lodging-house in asordid street; and when, sick at the thought of seeing her, he asked whether shewas in, a wild hope seized him that she had left. it looked the sort of place people moved inand out of frequently. he had not thought of looking at thepostmark on her letter and did not know how many days it had lain in the rack.
the woman who answered the bell did notreply to his inquiry, but silently preceded him along the passage and knocked on a doorat the back. "mrs. miller, a gentleman to see you," shecalled. the door was slightly opened, and mildredlooked out suspiciously. "oh, it's you," she said. "come in."he walked in and she closed the door. it was a very small bed-room, untidy as wasevery place she lived in; there was a pair of shoes on the floor, lying apart from oneanother and uncleaned; a hat was on the chest of drawers, with false curls besideit; and there was a blouse on the table.
philip looked for somewhere to put his hat. the hooks behind the door were laden withskirts, and he noticed that they were muddy at the hem."sit down, won't you?" she said. then she gave a little awkward laugh. "i suppose you were surprised to hear fromme again." "you're awfully hoarse," he answered."have you got a sore throat?" "yes, i have had for some time." he did not say anything.he waited for her to explain why she wanted to see him.
the look of the room told him clearlyenough that she had gone back to the life from which he had taken her. he wondered what had happened to the baby;there was a photograph of it on the chimney-piece, but no sign in the room thata child was ever there. mildred was holding her handkerchief. she made it into a little ball, and passedit from hand to hand. he saw that she was very nervous.she was staring at the fire, and he could look at her without meeting her eyes. she was much thinner than when she had lefthim; and the skin, yellow and dryish, was
drawn more tightly over her cheekbones. she had dyed her hair and it was nowflaxen: it altered her a good deal, and made her look more vulgar."i was relieved to get your letter, i can tell you," she said at last. "i thought p'raps you weren't at the'ospital any more." philip did not speak."i suppose you're qualified by now, aren't you?" "no.""how's that?" "i'm no longer at the hospital.i had to give it up eighteen months ago."
"you are changeable. you don't seem as if you could stick toanything." philip was silent for another moment, andwhen he went on it was with coldness. "i lost the little money i had in anunlucky speculation and i couldn't afford to go on with the medical.i had to earn my living as best i could." "what are you doing then?" "i'm in a shop.""oh!" she gave him a quick glance and turned hereyes away at once. he thought that she reddened.
she dabbed her palms nervously with thehandkerchief. "you've not forgotten all your doctoring,have you?" she jerked the words out quite oddly. "not entirely.""because that's why i wanted to see you." her voice sank to a hoarse whisper."i don't know what's the matter with me." "why don't you go to a hospital?" "i don't like to do that, and have all thestoodents staring at me, and i'm afraid they'd want to keep me." "what are you complaining of?" asked philipcoldly, with the stereotyped phrase used in
the out-patients' room."well, i've come out in a rash, and i can't get rid of it." philip felt a twinge of horror in hisheart. sweat broke out on his forehead."let me look at your throat?" he took her over to the window and madesuch examination as he could. suddenly he caught sight of her eyes.there was deadly fear in them. it was horrible to see. she was terrified. she wanted him to reassure her; she lookedat him pleadingly, not daring to ask for
words of comfort but with all her nervesastrung to receive them: he had none to offer her. "i'm afraid you're very ill indeed," hesaid. "what d'you think it is?" when he told her she grew deathly pale, andher lips even turned, yellow. she began to cry, hopelessly, quietly at first and thenwith choking sobs. "i'm awfully sorry," he said at last. "but i had to tell you.""i may just as well kill myself and have done with it."he took no notice of the threat.
"have you got any money?" he asked. "six or seven pounds.""you must give up this life, you know. don't you think you could find some work todo? i'm afraid i can't help you much. i only get twelve bob a week.""what is there i can do now?" she cried impatiently."damn it all, you must try to get something." he spoke to her very gravely, telling herof her own danger and the danger to which she exposed others, and she listenedsullenly.
he tried to console her. at last he brought her to a sulkyacquiescence in which she promised to do all he advised. he wrote a prescription, which he said hewould leave at the nearest chemist's, and he impressed upon her the necessity oftaking her medicine with the utmost regularity. getting up to go, he held out his hand."don't be downhearted, you'll soon get over your throat."but as he went her face became suddenly distorted, and she caught hold of his coat.
"oh, don't leave me," she cried hoarsely."i'm so afraid, don't leave me alone yet. phil, please.there's no one else i can go to, you're the only friend i've ever had." he felt the terror of her soul, and it wasstrangely like that terror he had seen in his uncle's eyes when he feared that hemight die. philip looked down. twice that woman had come into his life andmade him wretched; she had no claim upon him; and yet, he knew not why, deep in hisheart was a strange aching; it was that which, when he received her letter, had
left him no peace till he obeyed hersummons. "i suppose i shall never really quite getover it," he said to himself. what perplexed him was that he felt acurious physical distaste, which made it uncomfortable for him to be near her."what do you want me to do?" he asked. "let's go out and dine together. i'll pay."he hesitated. he felt that she was creeping back againinto his life when he thought she was gone out of it for ever. she watched him with sickening anxiety."oh, i know i've treated you shocking, but
don't leave me alone now.you've had your revenge. if you leave me by myself now i don't knowwhat i shall do." "all right, i don't mind," he said, "but weshall have to do it on the cheap, i haven't got money to throw away these days." she sat down and put her shoes on, thenchanged her skirt and put on a hat; and they walked out together till they found arestaurant in the tottenham court road. philip had got out of the habit of eatingat those hours, and mildred's throat was so sore that she could not swallow.they had a little cold ham and philip drank a glass of beer.
they sat opposite one another, as they hadso often sat before; he wondered if she remembered; they had nothing to say to oneanother and would have sat in silence if philip had not forced himself to talk. in the bright light of the restaurant, withits vulgar looking-glasses that reflected in an endless series, she looked old andhaggard. philip was anxious to know about the child,but he had not the courage to ask. at last she said:"you know baby died last summer." "oh!" he said. "you might say you're sorry.""i'm not," he answered, "i'm very glad."
she glanced at him and, understanding whathe meant, looked away "you were rare stuck on it at one time,weren't you? i always thought it funny like how youcould see so much in another man's child." when they had finished eating they calledat the chemist's for the medicine philip had ordered, and going back to the shabbyroom he made her take a dose. then they sat together till it was time forphilip to go back to harrington street. he was hideously bored.philip went to see her every day. she took the medicine he had prescribed andfollowed his directions, and soon the results were so apparent that she gainedthe greatest confidence in philip's skill.
as she grew better she grew lessdespondent. she talked more freely."as soon as i can get a job i shall be all right," she said. "i've had my lesson now and i mean toprofit by it. no more racketing about for yours truly."each time he saw her, philip asked whether she had found work. she told him not to worry, she would findsomething to do as soon as she wanted it; she had several strings to her bow; it wasall the better not to do anything for a week or two.
he could not deny this, but at the end ofthat time he became more insistent. she laughed at him, she was much morecheerful now, and said he was a fussy old thing. she told him long stories of themanageresses she interviewed, for her idea was to get work at some eating-house; whatthey said and what she answered. nothing definite was fixed, but she wassure to settle something at the beginning of the following week: there was no usehurrying, and it would be a mistake to take something unsuitable. "it's absurd to talk like that," he saidimpatiently.
"you must take anything you can get.i can't help you, and your money won't last for ever." "oh, well, i've not come to the end of ityet and chance it." he looked at her sharply.it was three weeks since his first visit, and she had then less than seven pounds. suspicion seized him.he remembered some of the things she had said.he put two and two together. he wondered whether she had made anyattempt to find work. perhaps she had been lying to him all thetime.
it was very strange that her money shouldhave lasted so long. "what is your rent here?" "oh, the landlady's very nice, differentfrom what some of them are; she's quite willing to wait till it's convenient for meto pay." he was silent. what he suspected was so horrible that hehesitated. it was no use to ask her, she would denyeverything; if he wanted to know he must find out for himself. he was in the habit of leaving her everyevening at eight, and when the clock struck
he got up; but instead of going back toharrington street he stationed himself at the corner of fitzroy square so that he could see anyone who came along williamstreet. it seemed to him that he waited aninterminable time, and he was on the point of going away, thinking his surmise hadbeen mistaken, when the door of no. 7 opened and mildred came out. he fell back into the darkness and watchedher walk towards him. she had on the hat with a quantity offeathers on it which he had seen in her room, and she wore a dress he recognized,too showy for the street and unsuitable to
the time of year. he followed her slowly till she came intothe tottenham court road, where she slackened her pace; at the corner of oxfordstreet she stopped, looked round, and crossed over to a music-hall. he went up to her and touched her on thearm. he saw that she had rouged her cheeks andpainted her lips. "where are you going, mildred?" she started at the sound of his voice andreddened as she always did when she was caught in a lie; then the flash of angerwhich he knew so well came into her eyes as
she instinctively sought to defend herselfby abuse. but she did not say the words which were onthe tip of her tongue. "oh, i was only going to see the show. it gives me the hump sitting every night bymyself." he did not pretend to believe her."you mustn't. good heavens, i've told you fifty times howdangerous it is. you must stop this sort of thing at once.""oh, hold your jaw," she cried roughly. "how d'you suppose i'm going to live?" he took hold of her arm and withoutthinking what he was doing tried to drag
her away."for god's sake come along. let me take you home. you don't know what you're doing.it's criminal." "what do i care?let them take their chance. men haven't been so good to me that i needbother my head about them." she pushed him away and walking up to thebox-office put down her money. philip had threepence in his pocket. he could not follow.he turned away and walked slowly down oxford street."i can't do anything more," he said to
himself. that was the end.he did not see her again. chapter cx christmas that year falling on thursday,the shop was to close for four days: philip wrote to his uncle asking whether it wouldbe convenient for him to spend the holidays at the vicarage. he received an answer from mrs. foster,saying that mr. carey was not well enough to write himself, but wished to see hisnephew and would be glad if he came down. she met philip at the door, and when sheshook hands with him, said:
"you'll find him changed since you was herelast, sir; but you'll pretend you don't notice anything, won't you, sir? he's that nervous about himself."philip nodded, and she led him into the dining-room."here's mr. philip, sir." the vicar of blackstable was a dying man. there was no mistaking that when you lookedat the hollow cheeks and the shrunken body. he sat huddled in the arm-chair, with hishead strangely thrown back, and a shawl over his shoulders. he could not walk now without the help ofsticks, and his hands trembled so that he
could only feed himself with difficulty."he can't last long now," thought philip, as he looked at him. "how d'you think i'm looking?" asked thevicar. "d'you think i've changed since you werehere last?" "i think you look stronger than you didlast summer." "it was the heat.that always upsets me." mr. carey's history of the last few monthsconsisted in the number of weeks he had spent in his bed-room and the number ofweeks he had spent downstairs. he had a hand-bell by his side and while hetalked he rang it for mrs. foster, who sat
in the next room ready to attend to hiswants, to ask on what day of the month he had first left his room. "on the seventh of november, sir."mr. carey looked at philip to see how he took the information."but i eat well still, don't i, mrs. foster?" "yes, sir, you've got a wonderfulappetite." "i don't seem to put on flesh though."nothing interested him now but his health. he was set upon one thing indomitably andthat was living, just living, notwithstanding the monotony of his lifeand the constant pain which allowed him to
sleep only when he was under the influenceof morphia. "it's terrible, the amount of money i haveto spend on doctor's bills." he tinkled his bell again. "mrs. foster, show master philip thechemist's bill." patiently she took it off the chimney-pieceand handed it to philip. "that's only one month. i was wondering if as you're doctoringyourself you couldn't get me the drugs cheaper.i thought of getting them down from the stores, but then there's the postage."
though apparently taking so little interestin him that he did not trouble to inquire what phil was doing, he seemed glad to havehim there. he asked how long he could stay, and whenphilip told him he must leave on tuesday morning, expressed a wish that the visitmight have been longer. he told him minutely all his symptoms andrepeated what the doctor had said of him. he broke off to ring his bell, and whenmrs. foster came in, said: "oh, i wasn't sure if you were there. i only rang to see if you were." when she had gone he explained to philipthat it made him uneasy if he was not
certain that mrs. foster was withinearshot; she knew exactly what to do with him if anything happened. philip, seeing that she was tired and thather eyes were heavy from want of sleep, suggested that he was working her too hard."oh, nonsense," said the vicar, "she's as strong as a horse." and when next she came in to give him hismedicine he said to her: "master philip says you've got too much todo, mrs. foster. you like looking after me, don't you?" "oh, i don't mind, sir.i want to do everything i can."
presently the medicine took effect and mr.carey fell asleep. philip went into the kitchen and asked mrs.foster whether she could stand the work. he saw that for some months she had hadlittle peace. "well, sir, what can i do?" she answered. "the poor old gentleman's so dependent onme, and, although he is troublesome sometimes, you can't help liking him, canyou? i've been here so many years now, i don'tknow what i shall do when he comes to go." philip saw that she was really fond of theold man. she washed and dressed him, gave him hisfood, and was up half a dozen times in the
night; for she slept in the next room tohis and whenever he awoke he tinkled his little bell till she came in. he might die at any moment, but he mightlive for months. it was wonderful that she should look aftera stranger with such patient tenderness, and it was tragic and pitiful that sheshould be alone in the world to care for him. it seemed to philip that the religion whichhis uncle had preached all his life was now of no more than formal importance to him:every sunday the curate came and administered to him holy communion, and he
often read his bible; but it was clear thathe looked upon death with horror. he believed that it was the gateway to lifeeverlasting, but he did not want to enter upon that life. in constant pain, chained to his chair andhaving given up the hope of ever getting out into the open again, like a child inthe hands of a woman to whom he paid wages, he clung to the world he knew. in philip's head was a question he couldnot ask, because he was aware that his uncle would never give any but aconventional answer: he wondered whether at the very end, now that the machine was
painfully wearing itself out, the clergymanstill believed in immortality; perhaps at the bottom of his soul, not allowed toshape itself into words in case it became urgent, was the conviction that there wasno god and after this life nothing. on the evening of boxing day philip sat inthe dining-room with his uncle. he had to start very early next morning inorder to get to the shop by nine, and he was to say good-night to mr. carey then. the vicar of blackstable was dozing andphilip, lying on the sofa by the window, let his book fall on his knees and lookedidly round the room. he asked himself how much the furniturewould fetch.
he had walked round the house and looked atthe things he had known from his childhood; there were a few pieces of china whichmight go for a decent price and philip wondered if it would be worth while to take them up to london; but the furniture was ofthe victorian order, of mahogany, solid and ugly; it would go for nothing at anauction. there were three or four thousand books,but everyone knew how badly they sold, and it was not probable that they would fetchmore than a hundred pounds. philip did not know how much his unclewould leave, and he reckoned out for the hundredth time what was the least sum uponwhich he could finish the curriculum at the
hospital, take his degree, and live during the time he wished to spend on hospitalappointments. he looked at the old man, sleepingrestlessly: there was no humanity left in that shrivelled face; it was the face ofsome queer animal. philip thought how easy it would be tofinish that useless life. he had thought it each evening when mrs.foster prepared for his uncle the medicine which was to give him an easy night. there were two bottles: one contained adrug which he took regularly, and the other an opiate if the pain grew unendurable.this was poured out for him and left by his
bed-side. he generally took it at three or four inthe morning. it would be a simple thing to double thedose; he would die in the night, and no one would suspect anything; for that was howdoctor wigram expected him to die. the end would be painless. philip clenched his hands as he thought ofthe money he wanted so badly. a few more months of that wretched lifecould matter nothing to the old man, but the few more months meant everything tohim: he was getting to the end of his endurance, and when he thought of going
back to work in the morning he shudderedwith horror. his heart beat quickly at the thought whichobsessed him, and though he made an effort to put it out of his mind he could not. it would be so easy, so desperately easy. he had no feeling for the old man, he hadnever liked him; he had been selfish all his life, selfish to his wife who adoredhim, indifferent to the boy who had been put in his charge; he was not a cruel man, but a stupid, hard man, eaten up with asmall sensuality. it would be easy, desperately easy.philip did not dare.
he was afraid of remorse; it would be nogood having the money if he regretted all his life what he had done. though he had told himself so often thatregret was futile, there were certain things that came back to him occasionallyand worried him. he wished they were not on his conscience. his uncle opened his eyes; philip was glad,for he looked a little more human then. he was frankly horrified at the idea thathad come to him, it was murder that he was meditating; and he wondered if other peoplehad such thoughts or whether he was abnormal and depraved.
he supposed he could not have done it whenit came to the point, but there the thought was, constantly recurring: if he held hishand it was from fear. his uncle spoke. "you're not looking forward to my death,philip?" philip felt his heart beat against hischest. "good heavens, no." "that's a good boy.i shouldn't like you to do that. you'll get a little bit of money when ipass away, but you mustn't look forward to it.
it wouldn't profit you if you did."he spoke in a low voice, and there was a curious anxiety in his tone.it sent a pang into philip's heart. he wondered what strange insight might haveled the old man to surmise what strange desires were in philip's mind."i hope you'll live for another twenty years," he said. "oh, well, i can't expect to do that, butif i take care of myself i don't see why i shouldn't last another three or four."he was silent for a while, and philip found nothing to say. then, as if he had been thinking it allover, the old man spoke again.
"everyone has the right to live as long ashe can." philip wanted to distract his mind. "by the way, i suppose you never hear frommiss wilkinson now?" "yes, i had a letter some time this year.she's married, you know." "really?" "yes, she married a widower.i believe they're quite comfortable." chapter cxi next day philip began work again, but theend which he expected within a few weeks did not come.the weeks passed into months.
the winter wore away, and in the parks thetrees burst into bud and into leaf. a terrible lassitude settled upon philip. time was passing, though it went with suchheavy feet, and he thought that his youth was going and soon he would have lost itand nothing would have been accomplished. his work seemed more aimless now that therewas the certainty of his leaving it. he became skilful in the designing ofcostumes, and though he had no inventive faculty acquired quickness in theadaptation of french fashions to the english market. sometimes he was not displeased with hisdrawings, but they always bungled them in
the execution. he was amused to notice that he sufferedfrom a lively irritation when his ideas were not adequately carried out.he had to walk warily. whenever he suggested something originalmr. sampson turned it down: their customers did not want anything outre, it was a veryrespectable class of business, and when you had a connection of that sort it wasn'tworth while taking liberties with it. once or twice he spoke sharply to philip;he thought the young man was getting a bit above himself, because philip's ideas didnot always coincide with his own. "you jolly well take care, my fine youngfellow, or one of these days you'll find
yourself in the street."philip longed to give him a punch on the nose, but he restrained himself. after all it could not possibly last muchlonger, and then he would be done with all these people for ever.sometimes in comic desperation he cried out that his uncle must be made of iron. what a constitution!the ills he suffered from would have killed any decent person twelve months before. when at last the news came that the vicarwas dying philip, who had been thinking of other things, was taken by surprise.it was in july, and in another fortnight he
was to have gone for his holiday. he received a letter from mrs. foster tosay the doctor did not give mr. carey many days to live, and if philip wished to seehim again he must come at once. philip went to the buyer and told him hewanted to leave. mr. sampson was a decent fellow, and whenhe knew the circumstances made no difficulties. philip said good-bye to the people in hisdepartment; the reason of his leaving had spread among them in an exaggerated form,and they thought he had come into a fortune.
mrs. hodges had tears in her eyes when sheshook hands with him. "i suppose we shan't often see you again,"she said. "i'm glad to get away from lynn's," heanswered. it was strange, but he was actually sorryto leave these people whom he thought he had loathed, and when he drove away fromthe house in harrington street it was with no exultation. he had so anticipated the emotions he wouldexperience on this occasion that now he felt nothing: he was as unconcerned asthough he were going for a few days' "i've got a rotten nature," he said tohimself.
"i look forward to things awfully, and thenwhen they come i'm always disappointed." he reached blackstable early in theafternoon. mrs. foster met him at the door, and herface told him that his uncle was not yet dead. "he's a little better today," she said."he's got a wonderful constitution." she led him into the bed-room where mr.carey lay on his back. he gave philip a slight smile, in which wasa trace of satisfied cunning at having circumvented his enemy once more."i thought it was all up with me yesterday," he said, in an exhausted voice.
"they'd all given me up, hadn't you, mrs.foster?" "you've got a wonderful constitution,there's no denying that." "there's life in the old dog yet." mrs. foster said that the vicar must nottalk, it would tire him; she treated him like a child, with kindly despotism; andthere was something childish in the old man's satisfaction at having cheated alltheir expectations. it struck him at once that philip had beensent for, and he was amused that he had been brought on a fool's errand. if he could only avoid another of his heartattacks he would get well enough in a week
or two; and he had had the attacks severaltimes before; he always felt as if he were going to die, but he never did. they all talked of his constitution, butthey none of them knew how strong it was. "are you going to stay a day or two?"he asked philip, pretending to believe he had come down for a holiday. "i was thinking of it," philip answeredcheerfully. "a breath of sea-air will do you good."presently dr. wigram came, and after he had seen the vicar talked with philip. he adopted an appropriate manner."i'm afraid it is the end this time,
philip," he said."it'll be a great loss to all of us. i've known him for five-and-thirty years." "he seems well enough now," said philip."i'm keeping him alive on drugs, but it can't last.it was dreadful these last two days, i thought he was dead half a dozen times." the doctor was silent for a minute or two,but at the gate he said suddenly to philip: "has mrs. foster said anything to you?""what d'you mean?" "they're very superstitious, these people:she's got hold of an idea that he's got something on his mind, and he can't dietill he gets rid of it; and he can't bring
himself to confess it." philip did not answer, and the doctor wenton. "of course it's nonsense. he's led a very good life, he's done hisduty, he's been a good parish priest, and i'm sure we shall all miss him; he can'thave anything to reproach himself with. i very much doubt whether the next vicarwill suit us half so well." for several days mr. carey continuedwithout change. his appetite which had been excellent lefthim, and he could eat little. dr. wigram did not hesitate now to stillthe pain of the neuritis which tormented
him; and that, with the constant shaking ofhis palsied limbs, was gradually exhausting his mind remained clear.philip and mrs. foster nursed him between them. she was so tired by the many months duringwhich she had been attentive to all his wants that philip insisted on sitting upwith the patient so that she might have her night's rest. he passed the long hours in an arm-chair sothat he should not sleep soundly, and read by the light of shaded candles the thousandand one nights. he had not read them since he was a littleboy, and they brought back his childhood to
him.sometimes he sat and listened to the silence of the night. when the effects of the opiate wore off mr.carey grew restless and kept him constantly busy. at last, early one morning, when the birdswere chattering noisily in the trees, he heard his name called.he went up to the bed. mr. carey was lying on his back, with hiseyes looking at the ceiling; he did not turn them on philip.philip saw that sweat was on his forehead, and he took a towel and wiped it.
"is that you, philip?" the old man asked.philip was startled because the voice was suddenly changed.it was hoarse and low. so would a man speak if he was cold withfear. "yes, d'you want anything?"there was a pause, and still the unseeing eyes stared at the ceiling. then a twitch passed over the face."i think i'm going to die," he said. "oh, what nonsense!" cried philip."you're not going to die for years." two tears were wrung from the old man'seyes. they moved philip horribly.
his uncle had never betrayed any particularemotion in the affairs of life; and it was dreadful to see them now, for theysignified a terror that was unspeakable. "send for mr. simmonds," he said. "i want to take the communion."mr. simmonds was the curate. "now?" asked philip."soon, or else it'll be too late." philip went to awake mrs. foster, but itwas later than he thought and she was up already. he told her to send the gardener with amessage, and he went back to his uncle's room."have you sent for mr. simmonds?"
"yes." there was a silence.philip sat by the bed-side, and occasionally wiped the sweating forehead."let me hold your hand, philip," the old man said at last. philip gave him his hand and he clung to itas to life, for comfort in his extremity. perhaps he had never really loved anyone inall his days, but now he turned instinctively to a human being. his hand was wet and cold.it grasped philip's with feeble, despairing energy.the old man was fighting with the fear of
death. and philip thought that all must go throughthat. oh, how monstrous it was, and they couldbelieve in a god that allowed his creatures to suffer such a cruel torture! he had never cared for his uncle, and fortwo years he had longed every day for his death; but now he could not overcome thecompassion that filled his heart. what a price it was to pay for being otherthan the beasts! they remained in silence broken only onceby a low inquiry from mr. carey. "hasn't he come yet?"
at last the housekeeper came in softly tosay that mr. simmonds was there. he carried a bag in which were his surpliceand his hood. mrs. foster brought the communion plate. mr. simmonds shook hands silently withphilip, and then with professional gravity went to the sick man's side.philip and the maid went out of the room. philip walked round the garden all freshand dewy in the morning. the birds were singing gaily.the sky was blue, but the air, salt-laden, was sweet and cool. the roses were in full bloom.the green of the trees, the green of the
lawns, was eager and brilliant. philip walked, and as he walked he thoughtof the mystery which was proceeding in that bedroom.it gave him a peculiar emotion. presently mrs. foster came out to him andsaid that his uncle wished to see him. the curate was putting his things back intothe black bag. the sick man turned his head a little andgreeted him with a smile. philip was astonished, for there was achange in him, an extraordinary change; his eyes had no longer the terror-strickenlook, and the pinching of his face had gone: he looked happy and serene.
"i'm quite prepared now," he said, and hisvoice had a different tone in it. "when the lord sees fit to call me i amready to give my soul into his hands." philip did not speak. he could see that his uncle was sincere.it was almost a miracle. he had taken the body and blood of hissavior, and they had given him strength so that he no longer feared the inevitablepassage into the night. he knew he was going to die: he wasresigned. he only said one thing more:"i shall rejoin my dear wife." it startled philip.
he remembered with what a callousselfishness his uncle had treated her, how obtuse he had been to her humble, devotedlove. the curate, deeply moved, went away andmrs. foster, weeping, accompanied him to the door. mr. carey, exhausted by his effort, fellinto a light doze, and philip sat down by the bed and waited for the end.the morning wore on, and the old man's breathing grew stertorous. the doctor came and said he was dying.he was unconscious and he pecked feebly at the sheets; he was restless and he criedout.
dr. wigram gave him a hypodermic injection. "it can't do any good now, he may die atany moment." the doctor looked at his watch and then atthe patient. philip saw that it was one o'clock. dr. wigram was thinking of his dinner."it's no use your waiting," he said. "there's nothing i can do," said thedoctor. when he was gone mrs. foster asked philipif he would go to the carpenter, who was also the undertaker, and tell him to sendup a woman to lay out the body. "you want a little fresh air," she said,"it'll do you good."
the undertaker lived half a mile away.when philip gave him his message, he said: "when did the poor old gentleman die?" it occurred to him that it would seembrutal to fetch a woman to wash the body while his uncle still lived, and hewondered why mrs. foster had asked him to come. they would think he was in a great hurry tokill the old man off. he thought the undertaker looked at himoddly. he repeated the question. it irritated philip.it was no business of his.
"when did the vicar pass away?" philip's first impulse was to say that ithad just happened, but then it would seem inexplicable if the sick man lingered forseveral hours. he reddened and answered awkwardly. "oh, he isn't exactly dead yet."the undertaker looked at him in perplexity, and he hurried to explain."mrs. foster is all alone and she wants a woman there. you understood, don't you?he may be dead by now." the undertaker nodded."oh, yes, i see.
i'll send someone up at once." when philip got back to the vicarage hewent up to the bed-room. mrs. foster rose from her chair by the bed-side. "he's just as he was when you left," shesaid. she went down to get herself something toeat, and philip watched curiously the process of death. there was nothing human now in theunconscious being that struggled feebly. sometimes a muttered ejaculation issuedfrom the loose mouth. the sun beat down hotly from a cloudlesssky, but the trees in the garden were
pleasant and cool.it was a lovely day. a bluebottle buzzed against the windowpane. suddenly there was a loud rattle, it madephilip start, it was horribly frightening; a movement passed through the limbs and theold man was dead. the machine had run down. the bluebottle buzzed, buzzed noisilyagainst the windowpane. chapter cxii josiah graves in his masterful way madearrangements, becoming but economical, for the funeral; and when it was over came backto the vicarage with philip.
the will was in his charge, and with a duesense of the fitness of things he read it to philip over an early cup of tea. it was written on half a sheet of paper andleft everything mr. carey had to his nephew. there was the furniture, about eightypounds at the bank, twenty shares in the a. b. c. company, a few in allsop's brewery,some in the oxford music-hall, and a few more in a london restaurant. they had been bought under mr. graves'direction, and he told philip with satisfaction:"you see, people must eat, they will drink,
and they want amusement. you're always safe if you put your money inwhat the public thinks necessities." his words showed a nice discriminationbetween the grossness of the vulgar, which he deplored but accepted, and the finertaste of the elect. altogether in investments there was aboutfive hundred pounds; and to that must be added the balance at the bank and what thefurniture would fetch. it was riches to philip. he was not happy but infinitely relieved. mr. graves left him, after they haddiscussed the auction which must be held as
soon as possible, and philip sat himselfdown to go through the papers of the deceased. the rev. william carey had prided himselfon never destroying anything, and there were piles of correspondence dating backfor fifty years and bundles upon bundles of neatly docketed bills. he had kept not only letters addressed tohim, but letters which himself had written. there was a yellow packet of letters whichhe had written to his father in the forties, when as an oxford undergraduate hehad gone to germany for the long vacation. philip read them idly.
it was a different william carey from thewilliam carey he had known, and yet there were traces in the boy which might to anacute observer have suggested the man. the letters were formal and a littlestilted. he showed himself strenuous to see all thatwas noteworthy, and he described with a fine enthusiasm the castles of the rhine. the falls of schaffhausen made him 'offerreverent thanks to the all-powerful creator of the universe, whose works were wondrousand beautiful,' and he could not help thinking that they who lived in sight of 'this handiwork of their blessed maker mustbe moved by the contemplation to lead pure
and holy lives.' among some bills philip found a miniaturewhich had been painted of william carey soon after he was ordained. it represented a thin young curate, withlong hair that fell over his head in natural curls, with dark eyes, large anddreamy, and a pale ascetic face. philip remembered the chuckle with whichhis uncle used to tell of the dozens of slippers which were worked for him byadoring ladies. the rest of the afternoon and all theevening philip toiled through the innumerable correspondence.
he glanced at the address and at thesignature, then tore the letter in two and threw it into the washing-basket by hisside. suddenly he came upon one signed helen. he did not know the writing.it was thin, angular, and old-fashioned. it began: my dear william, and ended: youraffectionate sister. then it struck him that it was from his ownmother. he had never seen a letter of hers before,and her handwriting was strange to him. it was about himself. my dear william,stephen wrote to you to thank you for your
congratulations on the birth of our son andyour kind wishes to myself. thank god we are both well and i am deeplythankful for the great mercy which has been shown me. now that i can hold a pen i want to tellyou and dear louisa myself how truly grateful i am to you both for all yourkindness to me now and always since my marriage. i am going to ask you to do me a greatfavour. both stephen and i wish you to be the boy'sgodfather, and we hope that you will consent.
i know i am not asking a small thing, for iam sure you will take the responsibilities of the position very seriously, but i amespecially anxious that you should undertake this office because you are aclergyman as well as the boy's uncle. i am very anxious for the boy's welfare andi pray god night and day that he may grow into a good, honest, and christian man. with you to guide him i hope that he willbecome a soldier in christ's faith and be all the days of his life god-fearing,humble, and pious. your affectionate sister, helen. philip pushed the letter away and, leaningforward, rested his face on his hands.
it deeply touched and at the same timesurprised him. he was astonished at its religious tone,which seemed to him neither mawkish nor sentimental. he knew nothing of his mother, dead now fornearly twenty years, but that she was beautiful, and it was strange to learn thatshe was simple and pious. he had never thought of that side of her. he read again what she said about him, whatshe expected and thought about him; he had turned out very differently; he looked athimself for a moment; perhaps it was better that she was dead.
then a sudden impulse caused him to tear upthe letter; its tenderness and simplicity made it seem peculiarly private; he had aqueer feeling that there was something indecent in his reading what exposed hismother's gentle soul. he went on with the vicar's drearycorrespondence. a few days later he went up to london, andfor the first time for two years entered by day the hall of st. luke's hospital. he went to see the secretary of the medicalschool; he was surprised to see him and asked philip curiously what he had beendoing. philip's experiences had given him acertain confidence in himself and a
different outlook upon many things: such aquestion would have embarrassed him before; but now he answered coolly, with a deliberate vagueness which preventedfurther inquiry, that private affairs had obliged him to make a break in thecurriculum; he was now anxious to qualify as soon as possible. the first examination he could take was inmidwifery and the diseases of women, and he put his name down to be a clerk in the warddevoted to feminine ailments; since it was holiday time there happened to be no difficulty in getting a post as obstetricclerk; he arranged to undertake that duty
during the last week of august and thefirst two of september. after this interview philip walked throughthe medical school, more or less deserted, for the examinations at the end of thesummer session were all over; and he wandered along the terrace by the river-side. his heart was full. he thought that now he could begin a newlife, and he would put behind him all the errors, follies, and miseries of the past. the flowing river suggested that everythingpassed, was passing always, and nothing mattered; the future was before him richwith possibilities.
he went back to blackstable and busiedhimself with the settling up of his uncle's estate. the auction was fixed for the middle ofaugust, when the presence of visitors for the summer holidays would make it possibleto get better prices. catalogues were made out and sent to thevarious dealers in second-hand books at tercanbury, maidstone, and ashford. one afternoon philip took it into his headto go over to tercanbury and see his old school. he had not been there since the day when,with relief in his heart, he had left it
with the feeling that thenceforward he washis own master. it was strange to wander through the narrowstreets of tercanbury which he had known so well for so many years. he looked at the old shops, still there,still selling the same things; the booksellers with school-books, pious works,and the latest novels in one window and photographs of the cathedral and of the city in the other; the games shop, with itscricket bats, fishing tackle, tennis rackets, and footballs; the tailor fromwhom he had got clothes all through his boyhood; and the fishmonger where his unclewhenever he came to tercanbury bought fish.
he wandered along the sordid street inwhich, behind a high wall, lay the red brick house which was the preparatoryschool. further on was the gateway that led intoking's school, and he stood in the quadrangle round which were the variousbuildings. it was just four and the boys were hurryingout of school. he saw the masters in their gowns andmortar-boards, and they were strange to it was more than ten years since he hadleft and many changes had taken place. he saw the headmaster; he walked slowlydown from the schoolhouse to his own, talking to a big boy who philip supposedwas in the sixth; he was little changed,
tall, cadaverous, romantic as philip remembered him, with the same wild eyes;but the black beard was streaked with gray now and the dark, sallow face was moredeeply lined. philip had an impulse to go up and speak tohim, but he was afraid he would have forgotten him, and he hated the thought ofexplaining who he was. boys lingered talking to one another, andpresently some who had hurried to change came out to play fives; others straggledout in twos and threes and went out of the gateway, philip knew they were going up to the cricket ground; others again went intothe precincts to bat at the nets.
philip stood among them a stranger; one ortwo gave him an indifferent glance; but visitors, attracted by the normanstaircase, were not rare and excited little attention. philip looked at them curiously.he thought with melancholy of the distance that separated him from them, and hethought bitterly how much he had wanted to do and how little done. it seemed to him that all those years,vanished beyond recall, had been utterly wasted. the boys, fresh and buoyant, were doing thesame things that he had done, it seemed
that not a day had passed since he left theschool, and yet in that place where at least by name he had known everybody now heknew not a soul. in a few years these too, others takingtheir place, would stand alien as he stood; but the reflection brought him no solace;it merely impressed upon him the futility of human existence. each generation repeated the trivial round. he wondered what had become of the boys whowere his companions: they were nearly thirty now; some would be dead, but otherswere married and had children; they were soldiers and parsons, doctors, lawyers;
they were staid men who were beginning toput youth behind them. had any of them made such a hash of lifeas he? he thought of the boy he had been devotedto; it was funny, he could not recall his name; he remembered exactly what he lookedlike, he had been his greatest friend; but his name would not come back to him. he looked back with amusement on thejealous emotions he had suffered on his account.it was irritating not to recollect his name. he longed to be a boy again, like those hesaw sauntering through the quadrangle, so
that, avoiding his mistakes, he might startfresh and make something more out of life. he felt an intolerable loneliness. he almost regretted the penury which he hadsuffered during the last two years, since the desperate struggle merely to keep bodyand soul together had deadened the pain of living. in the sweat of thy brow shalt thou earnthy daily bread: it was not a curse upon mankind, but the balm which reconciled itto existence. but philip was impatient with himself; hecalled to mind his idea of the pattern of life: the unhappiness he had suffered wasno more than part of a decoration which was
elaborate and beautiful; he told himself strenuously that he must accept with gaietyeverything, dreariness and excitement, pleasure and pain, because it added to therichness of the design. he sought for beauty consciously, and heremembered how even as a boy he had taken pleasure in the gothic cathedral as one sawit from the precincts; he went there and looked at the massive pile, gray under the cloudy sky, with the central tower thatrose like the praise of men to their god; but the boys were batting at the nets, andthey were lissom and strong and active; he could not help hearing their shouts andlaughter.
the cry of youth was insistent, and he sawthe beautiful thing before him only with his eyes. chapter cxiii at the beginning of the last week in augustphilip entered upon his duties in the 'district.'they were arduous, for he had to attend on an average three confinements a day. the patient had obtained a 'card' from thehospital some time before; and when her time came it was taken to the porter by amessenger, generally a little girl, who was then sent across the road to the house inwhich philip lodged.
at night the porter, who had a latch-key,himself came over and awoke philip. it was mysterious then to get up in thedarkness and walk through the deserted streets of the south side.at those hours it was generally the husband who brought the card. if there had been a number of babies beforehe took it for the most part with surly indifference, but if newly married he wasnervous and then sometimes strove to allay his anxiety by getting drunk. often there was a mile or more to walk,during which philip and the messenger discussed the conditions of labour and thecost of living; philip learnt about the
various trades which were practised on thatside of the river. he inspired confidence in the people amongwhom he was thrown, and during the long hours that he waited in a stuffy room, thewoman in labour lying on a large bed that took up half of it, her mother and the midwife talked to him as naturally as theytalked to one another. the circumstances in which he had livedduring the last two years had taught him several things about the life of the verypoor, which it amused them to find he knew; and they were impressed because he was notdeceived by their little subterfuges. he was kind, and he had gentle hands, andhe did not lose his temper.
they were pleased because he was not abovedrinking a cup of tea with them, and when the dawn came and they were still waitingthey offered him a slice of bread and dripping; he was not squeamish and couldeat most things now with a good appetite. some of the houses he went to, in filthycourts off a dingy street, huddled against one another without light or air, weremerely squalid; but others, unexpectedly, though dilapidated, with worm-eaten floors and leaking roofs, had the grand air: youfound in them oak balusters exquisitely carved, and the walls had still theirpanelling. these were thickly inhabited.
one family lived in each room, and in thedaytime there was the incessant noise of children playing in the court. the old walls were the breeding-place ofvermin; the air was so foul that often, feeling sick, philip had to light his pipe.the people who dwelt here lived from hand to mouth. babies were unwelcome, the man receivedthem with surly anger, the mother with despair; it was one more mouth to feed, andthere was little enough wherewith to feed those already there. philip often discerned the wish that thechild might be born dead or might die
quickly. he delivered one woman of twins (a sourceof humour to the facetious) and when she was told she burst into a long, shrill wailof misery. her mother said outright: "i don't know how they're going to feed'em." "maybe the lord'll see fit to take 'em to'imself," said the midwife. philip caught sight of the husband's faceas he looked at the tiny pair lying side by side, and there was a ferocious sullennessin it which startled him. he felt in the family assembled there ahideous resentment against those poor atoms
who had come into the world unwished for;and he had a suspicion that if he did not speak firmly an 'accident' would occur. accidents occurred often; mothers 'overlay'their babies, and perhaps errors of diet were not always the result of carelessness."i shall come every day," he said. "i warn you that if anything happens tothem there'll have to be an inquest." the father made no reply, but he gavephilip a scowl. there was murder in his soul. "bless their little 'earts," said thegrandmother, "what should 'appen to them?" the great difficulty was to keep themothers in bed for ten days, which was the
minimum upon which the hospital practiceinsisted. it was awkward to look after the family, noone would see to the children without payment, and the husband tumbled becausehis tea was not right when he came home tired from his work and hungry. philip had heard that the poor helped oneanother, but woman after woman complained to him that she could not get anyone in toclean up and see to the children's dinner without paying for the service, and shecould not afford to pay. by listening to the women as they talkedand by chance remarks from which he could deduce much that was left unsaid, philiplearned how little there was in common
between the poor and the classes abovethem. they did not envy their betters, for thelife was too different, and they had an ideal of ease which made the existence ofthe middle-classes seem formal and stiff; moreover, they had a certain contempt for them because they were soft and did notwork with their hands. the proud merely wished to be left alone,but the majority looked upon the well-to-do as people to be exploited; they knew whatto say in order to get such advantages as the charitable put at their disposal, and they accepted benefits as a right whichcame to them from the folly of their
superiors and their own astuteness. they bore the curate with contemptuousindifference, but the district visitor excited their bitter hatred. she came in and opened your windows withoutso much as a by your leave or with your leave, 'and me with my bronchitis, enoughto give me my death of cold;' she poked her nose into corners, and if she didn't say the place was dirty you saw what shethought right enough, 'an' it's all very well for them as 'as servants, but i'd liketo see what she'd make of 'er room if she 'ad four children, and 'ad to do the
cookin', and mend their clothes, and washthem.' philip discovered that the greatest tragedyof life to these people was not separation or death, that was natural and the grief ofit could be assuaged with tears, but loss of work. he saw a man come home one afternoon, threedays after his wife's confinement, and tell her he had been dismissed; he was a builderand at that time work was slack; he stated the fact, and sat down to his tea. "oh, jim," she said. the man ate stolidly some mess which hadbeen stewing in a sauce-pan against his
coming; he stared at his plate; his wifelooked at him two or three times, with little startled glances, and then quitesilently began to cry. the builder was an uncouth little fellowwith a rough, weather-beaten face and a long white scar on his forehead; he hadlarge, stubbly hands. presently he pushed aside his plate as ifhe must give up the effort to force himself to eat, and turned a fixed gaze out of thewindow. the room was at the top of the house, atthe back, and one saw nothing but sullen clouds.the silence seemed heavy with despair. philip felt that there was nothing to besaid, he could only go; and as he walked
away wearily, for he had been up most ofthe night, his heart was filled with rage against the cruelty of the world. he knew the hopelessness of the search forwork and the desolation which is harder to bear than hunger. he was thankful not to have to believe ingod, for then such a condition of things would be intolerable; one could reconcileoneself to existence only because it was meaningless. it seemed to philip that the people whospent their time in helping the poorer classes erred because they sought to remedythings which would harass them if
themselves had to endure them without thinking that they did not in the leastdisturb those who were used to them. the poor did not want large airy rooms;they suffered from cold, for their food was not nourishing and their circulation bad;space gave them a feeling of chilliness, and they wanted to burn as little coal as need be; there was no hardship for severalto sleep in one room, they preferred it; they were never alone for a moment, fromthe time they were born to the time they died, and loneliness oppressed them; they enjoyed the promiscuity in which theydwelt, and the constant noise of their
surroundings pressed upon their earsunnoticed. they did not feel the need of taking a bathconstantly, and philip often heard them speak with indignation of the necessity todo so with which they were faced on entering the hospital: it was both anaffront and a discomfort. they wanted chiefly to be left alone; thenif the man was in regular work life went easily and was not without its pleasures:there was plenty of time for gossip, after the day's work a glass of beer was very good to drink, the streets were a constantsource of entertainment, if you wanted to read there was reynolds' or the news of theworld; 'but there, you couldn't make out
'ow the time did fly, the truth was and that's a fact, you was a rare one forreading when you was a girl, but what with one thing and another you didn't get notime now not even to read the paper.' the usual practice was to pay three visitsafter a confinement, and one sunday philip went to see a patient at the dinner hour.she was up for the first time. "i couldn't stay in bed no longer, i reallycouldn't. i'm not one for idling, and it gives me thefidgets to be there and do nothing all day long, so i said to 'erb, i'm just going toget up and cook your dinner for you." 'erb was sitting at table with his knifeand fork already in his hands.
he was a young man, with an open face andblue eyes. he was earning good money, and as thingswent the couple were in easy circumstances. they had only been married a few months,and were both delighted with the rosy boy who lay in the cradle at the foot of thebed. there was a savoury smell of beefsteak inthe room and philip's eyes turned to the range."i was just going to dish up this minute," said the woman. "fire away," said philip."i'll just have a look at the son and heir and then i'll take myself off."
husband and wife laughed at philip'sexpression, and 'erb getting up went over with philip to the cradle.he looked at his baby proudly. "there doesn't seem much wrong with him,does there?" said philip. he took up his hat, and by this time 'erb'swife had dished up the beefsteak and put on the table a plate of green peas. "you're going to have a nice dinner,"smiled philip. "he's only in of a sunday and i like to'ave something special for him, so as he shall miss his 'ome when he's out at work." "i suppose you'd be above sittin' down and'avin' a bit of dinner with us?" said 'erb.
"oh, 'erb," said his wife, in a shockedtone. "not if you ask me," answered philip, withhis attractive smile. "well, that's what i call friendly, i knew'e wouldn't take offence, polly. just get another plate, my girl." polly was flustered, and she thought 'erb aregular caution, you never knew what ideas 'e'd get in 'is 'ead next; but she got aplate and wiped it quickly with her apron, then took a new knife and fork from the chest of drawers, where her best cutleryrested among her best clothes. there was a jug of stout on the table, and'erb poured philip out a glass.
he wanted to give him the lion's share ofthe beefsteak, but philip insisted that they should share alike. it was a sunny room with two windows thatreached to the floor; it had been the parlour of a house which at one time was ifnot fashionable at least respectable: it might have been inhabited fifty years before by a well-to-do tradesman or anofficer on half pay. 'erb had been a football player before hemarried, and there were photographs on the wall of various teams in self-consciousattitudes, with neatly plastered hair, the captain seated proudly in the middleholding a cup.
there were other signs of prosperity:photographs of the relations of 'erb and his wife in sunday clothes; on the chimney-piece an elaborate arrangement of shells stuck on a miniature rock; and on each side mugs, 'a present from southend' in gothicletters, with pictures of a pier and a parade on them. 'erb was something of a character; he was anon-union man and expressed himself with indignation at the efforts of the union toforce him to join. the union wasn't no good to him, he neverfound no difficulty in getting work, and there was good wages for anyone as 'ad ahead on his shoulders and wasn't above
puttin' 'is 'and to anything as come 'isway. polly was timorous. if she was 'im she'd join the union, thelast time there was a strike she was expectin' 'im to be brought back in anambulance every time he went out. she turned to philip. "he's that obstinate, there's no doinganything with 'im." "well, what i say is, it's a free country,and i won't be dictated to." "it's no good saying it's a free country,"said polly, "that won't prevent 'em bashin' your 'ead in if they get the chanst."
when they had finished philip passed hispouch over to 'erb and they lit their pipes; then he got up, for a 'call' mightbe waiting for him at his rooms, and shook he saw that it had given them pleasure thathe shared their meal, and they saw that he had thoroughly enjoyed it. "well, good-bye, sir," said 'erb, "and i'ope we shall 'ave as nice a doctor next time the missus disgraces 'erself.""go on with you, 'erb," she retorted. "'ow d'you know there's going to be a nexttime?"