-chapter lxxxviii there was a knock at the door and a troopof children came in. they were clean and tidy, now. their faces shone with soap, and their hairwas plastered down; they were going to sunday school under sally's charge. athelny joked with them in his dramatic,exuberant fashion, and you could see that he was devoted to them all.his pride in their good health and their good looks was touching. philip felt that they were a little shy inhis presence, and when their father sent
them off they fled from the room in evidentrelief. in a few minutes mrs. athelny appeared. she had taken her hair out of the curlingpins and now wore an elaborate fringe. she had on a plain black dress, a hat withcheap flowers, and was forcing her hands, red and coarse from much work, into blackkid gloves. "i'm going to church, athelny," she said. "there's nothing you'll be wanting, isthere?" "only your prayers, my betty.""they won't do you much good, you're too far gone for that," she smiled.
then, turning to philip, she drawled: "ican't get him to go to church. he's no better than an atheist.""doesn't she look like rubens' second wife?" cried athelny. "wouldn't she look splendid in aseventeenth-century costume? that's the sort of wife to marry, my boy.look at her." "i believe you'd talk the hind leg off adonkey, athelny," she answered calmly. she succeeded in buttoning her gloves, butbefore she went she turned to philip with a kindly, slightly embarrassed smile. "you'll stay to tea, won't you?athelny likes someone to talk to, and it's
not often he gets anybody who's cleverenough." "of course he'll stay to tea," saidathelny. then when his wife had gone: "i make apoint of the children going to sunday school, and i like betty to go to church. i think women ought to be religious.i don't believe myself, but i like women and children to."philip, strait-laced in matters of truth, was a little shocked by this airy attitude. "but how can you look on while yourchildren are being taught things which you don't think are true?""if they're beautiful i don't much mind if
they're not true. it's asking a great deal that things shouldappeal to your reason as well as to your sense of the aesthetic. i wanted betty to become a roman catholic,i should have liked to see her converted in a crown of paper flowers, but she'shopelessly protestant. besides, religion is a matter oftemperament; you will believe anything if you have the religious turn of mind, and ifyou haven't it doesn't matter what beliefs were instilled into you, you will grow outof them. perhaps religion is the best school ofmorality.
it is like one of those drugs you gentlemenuse in medicine which carries another in solution: it is of no efficacy in itself,but enables the other to be absorbed. you take your morality because it iscombined with religion; you lose the religion and the morality stays behind. a man is more likely to be a good man if hehas learned goodness through the love of god than through a perusal of herbertspencer." this was contrary to all philip's ideas. he still looked upon christianity as adegrading bondage that must be cast away at any cost; it was connected subconsciouslyin his mind with the dreary services in the
cathedral at tercanbury, and the long hours of boredom in the cold church atblackstable; and the morality of which athelny spoke was to him no more than apart of the religion which a halting intelligence preserved, when it had laid aside the beliefs which alone made itreasonable. but while he was meditating a replyathelny, more interested in hearing himself speak than in discussion, broke into atirade upon roman catholicism. for him it was an essential part of spain;and spain meant much to him, because he had escaped to it from the conventionalitywhich during his married life he had found
so irksome. with large gestures and in the emphatictone which made what he said so striking, athelny described to philip the spanishcathedrals with their vast dark spaces, the massive gold of the altar-pieces, and the sumptuous iron-work, gilt and faded, theair laden with incense, the silence: philip almost saw the canons in their shortsurplices of lawn, the acolytes in red, passing from the sacristy to the choir; he almost heard the monotonous chanting ofvespers. the names which athelny mentioned, avila,tarragona, saragossa, segovia, cordova,
were like trumpets in his heart. he seemed to see the great gray piles ofgranite set in old spanish towns amid a landscape tawny, wild, and windswept. "i've always thought i should love to go toseville," he said casually, when athelny, with one hand dramatically uplifted, pausedfor a moment. "seville!" cried athelny. "no, no, don't go there.seville: it brings to the mind girls dancing with castanets, singing in gardensby the guadalquivir, bull-fights, orange- blossom, mantillas, mantones de manila.
it is the spain of comic opera andmontmartre. its facile charm can offer permanententertainment only to an intelligence which is superficial. theophile gautier got out of seville allthat it has to offer. we who come after him can only repeat hissensations. he put large fat hands on the obvious andthere is nothing but the obvious there; and it is all finger-marked and frayed.murillo is its painter." athelny got up from his chair, walked overto the spanish cabinet, let down the front with its great gilt hinges and gorgeouslock, and displayed a series of little
drawers. he took out a bundle of photographs."do you know el greco?" he asked. "oh, i remember one of the men in paris wasawfully impressed by him." "el greco was the painter of toledo. betty couldn't find the photograph i wantedto show you. it's a picture that el greco painted of thecity he loved, and it's truer than any photograph. come and sit at the table."philip dragged his chair forward, and athelny set the photograph before him.he looked at it curiously, for a long time,
in silence. he stretched out his hand for otherphotographs, and athelny passed them to him. he had never before seen the work of thatenigmatic master; and at the first glance he was bothered by the arbitrary drawing:the figures were extraordinarily elongated; the heads were very small; the attitudeswere extravagant. this was not realism, and yet, and yet evenin the photographs you had the impression of a troubling reality. athelny was describing eagerly, with vividphrases, but philip only heard vaguely what
he said.he was puzzled. he was curiously moved. these pictures seemed to offer some meaningto him, but he did not know what the meaning was. there were portraits of men with large,melancholy eyes which seemed to say you knew not what; there were long monks in thefranciscan habit or in the dominican, with distraught faces, making gestures whose sense escaped you; there was an assumptionof the virgin; there was a crucifixion in which the painter by some magic of feelinghad been able to suggest that the flesh of
christ's dead body was not human flesh only but divine; and there was an ascension inwhich the saviour seemed to surge up towards the empyrean and yet to stand uponthe air as steadily as though it were solid ground: the uplifted arms of the apostles, the sweep of their draperies, theirecstatic gestures, gave an impression of exultation and of holy joy. the background of nearly all was the sky bynight, the dark night of the soul, with wild clouds swept by strange winds of helland lit luridly by an uneasy moon. "i've seen that sky in toledo over and overagain," said athelny.
"i have an idea that when first el grecocame to the city it was by such a night, and it made so vehement an impression uponhim that he could never get away from it." philip remembered how clutton had beenaffected by this strange master, whose work he now saw for the first time. he thought that clutton was the mostinteresting of all the people he had known in paris. his sardonic manner, his hostile aloofness,had made it difficult to know him; but it seemed to philip, looking back, that therehad been in him a tragic force, which sought vainly to express itself inpainting.
he was a man of unusual character, mysticalafter the fashion of a time that had no leaning to mysticism, who was impatientwith life because he found himself unable to say the things which the obscureimpulses of his heart suggested. his intellect was not fashioned to the usesof the spirit. it was not surprising that he felt a deepsympathy with the greek who had devised a new technique to express the yearnings ofhis soul. philip looked again at the series ofportraits of spanish gentlemen, with ruffles and pointed beards, their facespale against the sober black of their clothes and the darkness of the background.
el greco was the painter of the soul; andthese gentlemen, wan and wasted, not by exhaustion but by restraint, with theirtortured minds, seem to walk unaware of the beauty of the world; for their eyes look only in their hearts, and they are dazzledby the glory of the unseen. no painter has shown more pitilessly thatthe world is but a place of passage. the souls of the men he painted speak theirstrange longings through their eyes: their senses are miraculously acute, not forsounds and odours and colour, but for the very subtle sensations of the soul. the noble walks with the monkish heartwithin him, and his eyes see things which
saints in their cells see too, and he isunastounded. his lips are not lips that smile. philip, silent still, returned to thephotograph of toledo, which seemed to him the most arresting picture of them all.he could not take his eyes off it. he felt strangely that he was on thethreshold of some new discovery in life. he was tremulous with a sense of adventure. he thought for an instant of the love thathad consumed him: love seemed very trivial beside the excitement which now leaped inhis heart. the picture he looked at was a long one,with houses crowded upon a hill; in one
corner a boy was holding a large map of thetown; in another was a classical figure representing the river tagus; and in thesky was the virgin surrounded by angels. it was a landscape alien to all philip'snotion, for he had lived in circles that worshipped exact realism; and yet hereagain, strangely to himself, he felt a reality greater than any achieved by the masters in whose steps humbly he had soughtto walk. he heard athelny say that therepresentation was so precise that when the citizens of toledo came to look at thepicture they recognised their houses. the painter had painted exactly what he sawbut he had seen with the eyes of the
spirit.there was something unearthly in that city of pale gray. it was a city of the soul seen by a wanlight that was neither that of night nor day. it stood on a green hill, but of a greennot of this world, and it was surrounded by massive walls and bastions to be stormed byno machines or engines of man's invention, but by prayer and fasting, by contritesighs and by mortifications of the flesh. it was a stronghold of god. those gray houses were made of no stoneknown to masons, there was something
terrifying in their aspect, and you did notknow what men might live in them. you might walk through the streets and beunamazed to find them all deserted, and yet not empty; for you felt a presenceinvisible and yet manifest to every inner sense. it was a mystical city in which theimagination faltered like one who steps out of the light into darkness; the soul walkednaked to and fro, knowing the unknowable, and conscious strangely of experience, intimate but inexpressible, of theabsolute. and without surprise, in that blue sky,real with a reality that not the eye but
the soul confesses, with its rack of lightclouds driven by strange breezes, like the cries and the sighs of lost souls, you saw the blessed virgin with a gown of red and acloak of blue, surrounded by winged angels. philip felt that the inhabitants of thatcity would have seen the apparition without astonishment, reverent and thankful, andhave gone their ways. athelny spoke of the mystical writers ofspain, of teresa de avila, san juan de la cruz, fray luis de leon; in all of them wasthat passion for the unseen which philip felt in the pictures of el greco: they seemed to have the power to touch theincorporeal and see the invisible.
they were spaniards of their age, in whomwere tremulous all the mighty exploits of a great nation: their fancies were rich withthe glories of america and the green islands of the caribbean sea; in their veins was the power that had come from age-long battling with the moor; they were proud, for they were masters of the world;and they felt in themselves the wide distances, the tawny wastes, the snow- capped mountains of castile, the sunshineand the blue sky, and the flowering plains of andalusia. life was passionate and manifold, andbecause it offered so much they felt a
restless yearning for something more;because they were human they were unsatisfied; and they threw this eager vitality of theirs into a vehement strivingafter the ineffable. athelny was not displeased to find someoneto whom he could read the translations with which for some time he had amused hisleisure; and in his fine, vibrating voice he recited the canticle of the soul and christ her lover, the lovely poem whichbegins with the words en una noche oscura, and the noche serena of fray luis de leon. he had translated them quite simply, notwithout skill, and he had found words which
at all events suggested the rough-hewngrandeur of the original. the pictures of el greco explained them,and they explained the pictures. philip had cultivated a certain disdain foridealism. he had always had a passion for life, andthe idealism he had come across seemed to him for the most part a cowardly shrinkingfrom it. the idealist withdrew himself, because hecould not suffer the jostling of the human crowd; he had not the strength to fight andso called the battle vulgar; he was vain, and since his fellows would not take him at his own estimate, consoled himself withdespising his fellows.
for philip his type was hayward, fair,languid, too fat now and rather bald, still cherishing the remains of his good looksand still delicately proposing to do exquisite things in the uncertain future; and at the back of this were whiskey andvulgar amours of the street. it was in reaction from what haywardrepresented that philip clamoured for life as it stood; sordidness, vice, deformity,did not offend him; he declared that he wanted man in his nakedness; and he rubbed his hands when an instance came before himof meanness, cruelty, selfishness, or lust: that was the real thing.
in paris he had learned that there wasneither ugliness nor beauty, but only truth: the search after beauty wassentimental. had he not painted an advertisement ofchocolat menier in a landscape in order to escape from the tyranny of prettiness?but here he seemed to divine something new. he had been coming to it, all hesitating,for some time, but only now was conscious of the fact; he felt himself on the brinkof a discovery. he felt vaguely that here was somethingbetter than the realism which he had adored; but certainly it was not thebloodless idealism which stepped aside from life in weakness; it was too strong; it was
virile; it accepted life in all itsvivacity, ugliness and beauty, squalor and heroism; it was realism still; but it wasrealism carried to some higher pitch, in which facts were transformed by the morevivid light in which they were seen. he seemed to see things more profoundlythrough the grave eyes of those dead noblemen of castile; and the gestures ofthe saints, which at first had seemed wild and distorted, appeared to have somemysterious significance. but he could not tell what thatsignificance was. it was like a message which it was veryimportant for him to receive, but it was given him in an unknown tongue, and hecould not understand.
he was always seeking for a meaning inlife, and here it seemed to him that a meaning was offered; but it was obscure andvague. he was profoundly troubled. he saw what looked like the truth as byflashes of lightning on a dark, stormy night you might see a mountain range. he seemed to see that a man need not leavehis life to chance, but that his will was powerful; he seemed to see that self-control might be as passionate and as active as the surrender to passion; he seemed to see that the inward life might beas manifold, as varied, as rich with
experience, as the life of one whoconquered realms and explored unknown lands. chapter lxxxix the conversation between philip and athelnywas broken into by a clatter up the stairs. athelny opened the door for the childrencoming back from sunday school, and with laughter and shouting they came in. gaily he asked them what they had learned. sally appeared for a moment, withinstructions from her mother that father was to amuse the children while she got teaready; and athelny began to tell them one
of hans andersen's stories. they were not shy children, and theyquickly came to the conclusion that philip was not formidable.jane came and stood by him and presently settled herself on his knees. it was the first time that philip in hislonely life had been present in a family circle: his eyes smiled as they rested onthe fair children engrossed in the fairy tale. the life of his new friend, eccentric as itappeared at first glance, seemed now to have the beauty of perfect naturalness.sally came in once more.
"now then, children, tea's ready," shesaid. jane slipped off philip's knees, and theyall went back to the kitchen. sally began to lay the cloth on the longspanish table. "mother says, shall she come and have teawith you?" she asked. "i can give the children their tea." "tell your mother that we shall be proudand honoured if she will favour us with her company," said athelny.it seemed to philip that he could never say anything without an oratorical flourish. "then i'll lay for her," said sally.she came back again in a moment with a tray
on which were a cottage loaf, a slab ofbutter, and a jar of strawberry jam. while she placed the things on the tableher father chaffed her. he said it was quite time she was walkingout; he told philip that she was very proud, and would have nothing to do withaspirants to that honour who lined up at the door, two by two, outside the sunday school and craved the honour of escortingher home. "you do talk, father," said sally, with herslow, good-natured smile. "you wouldn't think to look at her that atailor's assistant has enlisted in the army because she would not say how d'you do tohim and an electrical engineer, an
electrical engineer, mind you, has taken to drink because she refused to share herhymn-book with him in church. i shudder to think what will happen whenshe puts her hair up." "mother'll bring the tea along herself,"said sally. "sally never pays any attention to me,"laughed athelny, looking at her with fond, proud eyes. "she goes about her business indifferent towars, revolutions, and cataclysms. what a wife she'll make to an honest man!"mrs. athelny brought in the tea. she sat down and proceeded to cut bread andbutter.
it amused philip to see that she treatedher husband as though he were a child. she spread jam for him and cut up the breadand butter into convenient slices for him to eat. she had taken off her hat; and in hersunday dress, which seemed a little tight for her, she looked like one of thefarmers' wives whom philip used to call on sometimes with his uncle when he was asmall boy. then he knew why the sound of her voice wasfamiliar to him. she spoke just like the people roundblackstable. "what part of the country d'you come from?"he asked her.
"i'm a kentish woman. i come from ferne.""i thought as much. my uncle's vicar of blackstable.""that's a funny thing now," she said. "i was wondering in church just now whetheryou was any connection of mr. carey. many's the time i've seen 'im. a cousin of mine married mr. barker ofroxley farm, over by blackstable church, and i used to go and stay there often wheni was a girl. isn't that a funny thing now?" she looked at him with a new interest, anda brightness came into her faded eyes.
she asked him whether he knew ferne. it was a pretty village about ten milesacross country from blackstable, and the vicar had come over sometimes toblackstable for the harvest thanksgiving. she mentioned names of various farmers inthe neighbourhood. she was delighted to talk again of thecountry in which her youth was spent, and it was a pleasure to her to recall scenesand people that had remained in her memory with the tenacity peculiar to her class. it gave philip a queer sensation too.a breath of the country-side seemed to be wafted into that panelled room in themiddle of london.
he seemed to see the fat kentish fieldswith their stately elms; and his nostrils dilated with the scent of the air; it isladen with the salt of the north sea, and that makes it keen and sharp. philip did not leave the athelnys' till teno'clock. the children came in to say good-night ateight and quite naturally put up their faces for philip to kiss. his heart went out to them.sally only held out her hand. "sally never kisses gentlemen till she'sseen them twice," said her father. "you must ask me again then," said philip.
"you mustn't take any notice of what fathersays," remarked sally, with a smile. "she's a most self-possessed young woman,"added her parent. they had supper of bread and cheese andbeer, while mrs. athelny was putting the children to bed; and when philip went intothe kitchen to bid her good-night (she had been sitting there, resting herself and reading the weekly despatch) she invitedhim cordially to come again. "there's always a good dinner on sundays solong as athelny's in work," she said, "and it's a charity to come and talk to him." on the following saturday philip received apostcard from athelny saying that they were
expecting him to dinner next day; butfearing their means were not such that mr. athelny would desire him to accept, philipwrote back that he would only come to tea. he bought a large plum cake so that hisentertainment should cost nothing. he found the whole family glad to see him,and the cake completed his conquest of the children. he insisted that they should all have teatogether in the kitchen, and the meal was noisy and hilarious.soon philip got into the habit of going to athelny's every sunday. he became a great favourite with thechildren, because he was simple and
unaffected and because it was so plain thathe was fond of them. as soon as they heard his ring at the doorone of them popped a head out of window to make sure it was he, and then they allrushed downstairs tumultuously to let him in. they flung themselves into his arms.at tea they fought for the privilege of sitting next to him.soon they began to call him uncle philip. athelny was very communicative, and littleby little philip learned the various stages of his life. he had followed many occupations, and itoccurred to philip that he managed to make
a mess of everything he attempted. he had been on a tea plantation in ceylonand a traveller in america for italian wines; his secretaryship of the watercompany in toledo had lasted longer than any of his employments; he had been a journalist and for some time had worked aspolice-court reporter for an evening paper; he had been sub-editor of a paper in themidlands and editor of another on the riviera. from all his occupations he had gatheredamusing anecdotes, which he told with a keen pleasure in his own powers ofentertainment.
he had read a great deal, chieflydelighting in books which were unusual; and he poured forth his stores of abstruseknowledge with child-like enjoyment of the amazement of his hearers. three or four years before abject povertyhad driven him to take the job of press- representative to a large firm of drapers;and though he felt the work unworthy his abilities, which he rated highly, the firmness of his wife and the needs of hisfamily had made him stick to it. chapter xc when he left the athelnys' philip walkeddown chancery lane and along the strand to
get a 'bus at the top of parliament street. one sunday, when he had known them aboutsix weeks, he did this as usual, but he found the kennington 'bus full.it was june, but it had rained during the day and the night was raw and cold. he walked up to piccadilly circus in orderto get a seat; the 'bus waited at the fountain, and when it arrived there seldomhad more than two or three people in it. this service ran every quarter of an hour,and he had some time to wait. he looked idly at the crowd.the public-houses were closing, and there were many people about.
his mind was busy with the ideas athelnyhad the charming gift of suggesting. suddenly his heart stood still.he saw mildred. he had not thought of her for weeks. she was crossing over from the corner ofshaftesbury avenue and stopped at the shelter till a string of cabs passed by.she was watching her opportunity and had no eyes for anything else. she wore a large black straw hat with amass of feathers on it and a black silk dress; at that time it was fashionable forwomen to wear trains; the road was clear, and mildred crossed, her skirt trailing onthe ground, and walked down piccadilly.
philip, his heart beating excitedly,followed her. he did not wish to speak to her, but hewondered where she was going at that hour; he wanted to get a look at her face. she walked slowly along and turned down airstreet and so got through into regent street.she walked up again towards the circus. philip was puzzled. he could not make out what she was doing.perhaps she was waiting for somebody, and he felt a great curiosity to know who itwas. she overtook a short man in a bowler hat,who was strolling very slowly in the same
direction as herself; she gave him asidelong glance as she passed. she walked a few steps more till she cameto swan and edgar's, then stopped and waited, facing the road.when the man came up she smiled. the man stared at her for a moment, turnedaway his head, and sauntered on. then philip understood.he was overwhelmed with horror. for a moment he felt such a weakness in hislegs that he could hardly stand; then he walked after her quickly; he touched her onthe arm. "mildred." she turned round with a violent start.he thought that she reddened, but in the
obscurity he could not see very well.for a while they stood and looked at one another without speaking. at last she said:"fancy seeing you!" he did not know what to answer; he washorribly shaken; and the phrases that chased one another through his brain seemedincredibly melodramatic. "it's awful," he gasped, almost to himself. she did not say anything more, she turnedaway from him, and looked down at the pavement.he felt that his face was distorted with misery.
"isn't there anywhere we can go and talk?""i don't want to talk," she said sullenly. "leave me alone, can't you?" the thought struck him that perhaps she wasin urgent need of money and could not afford to go away at that hour."i've got a couple of sovereigns on me if you're hard up," he blurted out. "i don't know what you mean.i was just walking along here on my way back to my lodgings.i expected to meet one of the girls from where i work." "for god's sake don't lie now," he said.then he saw that she was crying, and he
repeated his question."can't we go and talk somewhere? can't i come back to your rooms?" "no, you can't do that," she sobbed."i'm not allowed to take gentlemen in there.if you like i'll met you tomorrow." he felt certain that she would not keep anappointment. he was not going to let her go."no. you must take me somewhere now." "well, there is a room i know, but they'llcharge six shillings for it." "i don't mind that.where is it?"
she gave him the address, and he called acab. they drove to a shabby street beyond thebritish museum in the neighbourhood of the gray's inn road, and she stopped the cab atthe corner. "they don't like you to drive up to thedoor," she said. they were the first words either of themhad spoken since getting into the cab. they walked a few yards and mildred knockedthree times, sharply, at a door. philip noticed in the fanlight a cardboardon which was an announcement that apartments were to let. the door was opened quietly, and anelderly, tall woman let them in.
she gave philip a stare and then spoke tomildred in an undertone. mildred led philip along a passage to aroom at the back. it was quite dark; she asked him for amatch, and lit the gas; there was no globe, and the gas flared shrilly. philip saw that he was in a dingy littlebed-room with a suite of furniture, painted to look like pine much too large for it;the lace curtains were very dirty; the grate was hidden by a large paper fan. mildred sank on the chair which stood bythe side of the chimney-piece. philip sat on the edge of the bed.he felt ashamed.
he saw now that mildred's cheeks were thickwith rouge, her eyebrows were blackened; but she looked thin and ill, and the red onher cheeks exaggerated the greenish pallor of her skin. she stared at the paper fan in a listlessfashion. philip could not think what to say, and hehad a choking in his throat as if he were going to cry. he covered his eyes with his hands."my god, it is awful," he groaned. "i don't know what you've got to fussabout. i should have thought you'd have beenrather pleased."
philip did not answer, and in a moment shebroke into a sob. "you don't think i do it because i like it,do you?" "oh, my dear," he cried."i'm so sorry, i'm so awfully sorry." "that'll do me a fat lot of good." again philip found nothing to say.he was desperately afraid of saying anything which she might take for areproach or a sneer. "where's the baby?" he asked at last. "i've got her with me in london.i hadn't got the money to keep her on at brighton, so i had to take her.i've got a room up highbury way.
i told them i was on the stage. it's a long way to have to come down to thewest end every day, but it's a rare job to find anyone who'll let to ladies at all.""wouldn't they take you back at the shop?" "i couldn't get any work to do anywhere. i walked my legs off looking for work.i did get a job once, but i was off for a week because i was queer, and when i wentback they said they didn't want me any more. you can't blame them either, can you?them places, they can't afford to have girls that aren't strong.""you don't look very well now," said
philip. "i wasn't fit to come out tonight, but icouldn't help myself, i wanted the money. i wrote to emil and told him i was broke,but he never even answered the letter." "you might have written to me." "i didn't like to, not after what happened,and i didn't want you to know i was in difficulties.i shouldn't have been surprised if you'd just told me i'd only got what i deserved." "you don't know me very well, do you, evennow?" for a moment he remembered all the anguishhe had suffered on her account, and he was
sick with the recollection of his pain. but it was no more than recollection.when he looked at her he knew that he no longer loved her.he was very sorry for her, but he was glad to be free. watching her gravely, he asked himself whyhe had been so besotted with passion for her."you're a gentleman in every sense of the word," she said. "you're the only one i've ever met."she paused for a minute and then flushed. "i hate asking you, philip, but can youspare me anything?"
"it's lucky i've got some money on me. i'm afraid i've only got two pounds."he gave her the sovereigns. "i'll pay you back, philip.""oh, that's all right," he smiled. "you needn't worry." he had said nothing that he wanted to say. they had talked as if the whole thing werenatural; and it looked as though she would go now, back to the horror of her life, andhe would be able to do nothing to prevent it. she had got up to take the money, and theywere both standing.
"am i keeping you?" she asked."i suppose you want to be getting home." "no, i'm in no hurry," he answered. "i'm glad to have a chance of sittingdown." those words, with all they implied, torehis heart, and it was dreadfully painful to see the weary way in which she sank backinto the chair. the silence lasted so long that philip inhis embarrassment lit a cigarette. "it's very good of you not to have saidanything disagreeable to me, philip. i thought you might say i didn't know whatall." he saw that she was crying again.
he remembered how she had come to him whenemil miller had deserted her and how she had wept. the recollection of her suffering and ofhis own humiliation seemed to render more overwhelming the compassion he felt now."if i could only get out of it!" she moaned. "i hate it so.i'm unfit for the life, i'm not the sort of girl for that.i'd do anything to get away from it, i'd be a servant if i could. oh, i wish i was dead."and in pity for herself she broke down now
completely.she sobbed hysterically, and her thin body was shaken. "oh, you don't know what it is.nobody knows till they've done it." philip could not bear to see her cry.he was tortured by the horror of her position. "poor child," he whispered."poor child." he was deeply moved.suddenly he had an inspiration. it filled him with a perfect ecstasy ofhappiness. "look here, if you want to get away fromit, i've got an idea.
i'm frightfully hard up just now, i've gotto be as economical as i can; but i've got a sort of little flat now in kennington andi've got a spare room. if you like you and the baby can come andlive there. i pay a woman three and sixpence a week tokeep the place clean and to do a little cooking for me. you could do that and your food wouldn'tcome to much more than the money i should save on her. it doesn't cost any more to feed two thanone, and i don't suppose the baby eats much."she stopped crying and looked at him.
"d'you mean to say that you could take meback after all that's happened?" philip flushed a little in embarrassment atwhat he had to say. "i don't want you to mistake me. i'm just giving you a room which doesn'tcost me anything and your food. i don't expect anything more from you thanthat you should do exactly the same as the woman i have in does. except for that i don't want anything fromyou at all. i daresay you can cook well enough forthat." she sprang to her feet and was about tocome towards him.
"you are good to me, philip." "no, please stop where you are," he saidhurriedly, putting out his hand as though to push her away. he did not know why it was, but he couldnot bear the thought that she should touch him."i don't want to be anything more than a friend to you." "you are good to me," she repeated."you are good to me." "does that mean you'll come?""oh, yes, i'd do anything to get away from this.
you'll never regret what you've done,philip, never. when can i come, philip?""you'd better come tomorrow." suddenly she burst into tears again. "what on earth are you crying for now?" hesmiled. "i'm so grateful to you.i don't know how i can ever make it up to you?" "oh, that's all right.you'd better go home now." he wrote out the address and told her thatif she came at half past five he would be ready for her.
it was so late that he had to walk home,but it did not seem a long way, for he was intoxicated with delight; he seemed to walkon air. chapter xci next day he got up early to make the roomready for mildred. he told the woman who had looked after himthat he would not want her any more. mildred came about six, and philip, who waswatching from the window, went down to let her in and help her to bring up theluggage: it consisted now of no more than three large parcels wrapped in brown paper, for she had been obliged to sell everythingthat was not absolutely needful.
she wore the same black silk dress she hadworn the night before, and, though she had now no rouge on her cheeks, there was stillabout her eyes the black which remained after a perfunctory wash in the morning: itmade her look very ill. she was a pathetic figure as she steppedout of the cab with the baby in her arms. she seemed a little shy, and they foundnothing but commonplace things to say to one another."so you've got here all right." "i've never lived in this part of londonbefore." philip showed her the room.it was that in which cronshaw had died. philip, though he thought it absurd, hadnever liked the idea of going back to it;
and since cronshaw's death he had remainedin the little room, sleeping on a fold-up bed, into which he had first moved in orderto make his friend comfortable. the baby was sleeping placidly."you don't recognise her, i expect," said mildred. "i've not seen her since we took her downto brighton." "where shall i put her?she's so heavy i can't carry her very long." "i'm afraid i haven't got a cradle," saidphilip, with a nervous laugh. "oh, she'll sleep with me.she always does."
mildred put the baby in an arm-chair andlooked round the room. she recognised most of the things which shehad known in his old diggings. only one thing was new, a head andshoulders of philip which lawson had painted at the end of the preceding summer;it hung over the chimney-piece; mildred looked at it critically. "in some ways i like it and in some ways idon't. i think you're better looking than that.""things are looking up," laughed philip. "you've never told me i was good-lookingbefore." "i'm not one to worry myself about a man'slooks.
i don't like good-looking men. they're too conceited for me."her eyes travelled round the room in an instinctive search for a looking-glass, butthere was none; she put up her hand and patted her large fringe. "what'll the other people in the house sayto my being here?" she asked suddenly. "oh, there's only a man and his wife livinghere. he's out all day, and i never see herexcept on saturday to pay my rent. they keep entirely to themselves.i've not spoken two words to either of them since i came."
mildred went into the bedroom to undo herthings and put them away. philip tried to read, but his spirits weretoo high: he leaned back in his chair, smoking a cigarette, and with smiling eyeslooked at the sleeping child. he felt very happy. he was quite sure that he was not at all inlove with mildred. he was surprised that the old feeling hadleft him so completely; he discerned in himself a faint physical repulsion fromher; and he thought that if he touched her it would give him goose-flesh. he could not understand himself.presently, knocking at the door, she came
in again."i say, you needn't knock," he said. "have you made the tour of the mansion?" "it's the smallest kitchen i've ever seen.""you'll find it large enough to cook our sumptuous repasts," he retorted lightly."i see there's nothing in. i'd better go out and get something." "yes, but i venture to remind you that wemust be devilish economical." "what shall i get for supper?""you'd better get what you think you can cook," laughed philip. he gave her some money and she went out.she came in half an hour later and put her
purchases on the table.she was out of breath from climbing the stairs. "i say, you are anaemic," said philip."i'll have to dose you with blaud's pills." "it took me some time to find the shops.i bought some liver. that's tasty, isn't it? and you can't eat much of it, so it's moreeconomical than butcher's meat." there was a gas stove in the kitchen, andwhen she had put the liver on, mildred came into the sitting-room to lay the cloth. "why are you only laying one place?" askedphilip.
"aren't you going to eat anything?"mildred flushed. "i thought you mightn't like me to have mymeals with you." "why on earth not?""well, i'm only a servant, aren't i?" "don't be an ass. how can you be so silly?"he smiled, but her humility gave him a curious twist in his heart.poor thing! he remembered what she had been when firsthe knew her. he hesitated for an instant."don't think i'm conferring any benefit on you," he said.
"it's simply a business arrangement, i'mgiving you board and lodging in return for your work.you don't owe me anything. and there's nothing humiliating to you init." she did not answer, but tears rolledheavily down her cheeks. philip knew from his experience at thehospital that women of her class looked upon service as degrading: he could nothelp feeling a little impatient with her; but he blamed himself, for it was clearthat she was tired and ill. he got up and helped her to lay anotherplace at the table. the baby was awake now, and mildred hadprepared some mellin's food for it.
the liver and bacon were ready and they satdown. for economy's sake philip had given updrinking anything but water, but he had in the house a half a bottle of whiskey, andhe thought a little would do mildred good. he did his best to make the supper passcheerfully, but mildred was subdued and exhausted.when they had finished she got up to put the baby to bed. "i think you'll do well to turn in earlyyourself," said philip. "you look absolute done up.""i think i will after i've washed up." philip lit his pipe and began to read.
it was pleasant to hear somebody movingabout in the next room. sometimes his loneliness had oppressed him. mildred came in to clear the table, and heheard the clatter of plates as she washed up. philip smiled as he thought howcharacteristic it was of her that she should do all that in a black silk dress.but he had work to do, and he brought his book up to the table. he was reading osler's medicine, which hadrecently taken the place in the students' favour of taylor's work, for many years thetext-book most in use.
presently mildred came in, rolling down hersleeves. philip gave her a casual glance, but didnot move; the occasion was curious, and he felt a little nervous. he feared that mildred might imagine he wasgoing to make a nuisance of himself, and he did not quite know how without brutality toreassure her. "by the way, i've got a lecture at nine, soi should want breakfast at a quarter past eight.can you manage that?" "oh, yes. why, when i was in parliament street i usedto catch the eight-twelve from herne hill
every morning.""i hope you'll find your room comfortable. you'll be a different woman tomorrow aftera long night in bed." "i suppose you work till late?""i generally work till about eleven or half-past." "i'll say good-night then.""good-night." the table was between them.he did not offer to shake hands with her. she shut the door quietly. he heard her moving about in the bed-room,and in a little while he heard the creaking of the bed as she got in.