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The Manxman - A Novel - 1895
by Hall Caine
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From a recess covered by a shawl running on a string she took down her bodice. It was a pink blouse, loose over the breast, like hills of red sand on the shore, and loose, too, over the arms, but tight at the wrist. When she put it on it lit up her head like a gleam from the sunset, and her eyes danced with delight.

The skirt was a print, with a faint pink flower, the sash was a band of cotton of the colour of the bodice, and then came the solemn problems of the throat. It was round, and full, and soft, and like a tower. She would have loved to leave it bare, but dared not. Out of a drawer under the looking-glass she took a string of pearls. They were a present from Kimberley, and they hung over her fingers a moment and then slipped back. A white silk handkerchief, with a watermark, was chosen instead. She tied it in a sailor's knot, with the ends flying loose, and the triangular corner lying down her back.

Last of all, she took out of a box a broad white straw hat, like an oyster shell, with a silver-grey ribbon, and a sweeping ostrich feather.. She looked at it a moment, blew on it, plucked at its ribbon, lifted it over her head, held it at poise there, dropped it gently on to her hair, stood back from the glass to see it, and finally tore it off and sent it skimming on to the bed.

The substitute was her everyday sun-bonnet, which had been lying on the floor by the press. It was also of pale pink, with spots on its print like little shells on a big scallop. When she had tossed it over her black curls, leaving the strings to fall on her bosom, she could not help but laugh aloud.

After all, she was dressed exactly the same as on other days of life, except Sunday, only smarter, perhaps, and fresher maybe.

The sun-bonnet was right though, and she began to play with it. It was so full of play; it lent itself to so many moods. It could speak; it could say anything. She poked it to a point, as girls do when the sun is hot, by closing its mouth over the tip of her nose, leaving only a slumberous dark cave visible, through which her black eyes gleamed and her eyelashes shone. She tied the strings under her chin, and tipped the bonnet back on to her neck, as girls will when the breeze is cool, leaving her hair uncovered, her mouth twitching merrily, and her head like a nymph-head in an aureole. She took it off and tossed it on her arm, the strings still knotted, swinging it like a basket, then wafting it like a fan, and walking as she did so to and fro in the room, the floor creaking, her print frock crinkling, and she herself laughing with the thrill of passion vibrating and of imagined things to come.

Then she went downstairs with a firm and buoyant step, her fresh lithe figure aglow with young blood and bounding health.

At the gate of the "haggard" she met Nancy Joe coming out of the washhouse.

"Lord save us alive!" exclaimed Nancy. "If I ever wanted to be a man until this day!"

Kate kissed and hugged her, then fled away to the Melliah field.



XXI.

Philip, in Douglas, had received the following communication from Government House:—

"His Excellency will be obliged to Mr. Philip Christian if he will not leave the island for the present without acquainting him of his destination."

The message was a simple one: it said little, and involved and foreshadowed nothing, but it threw Philip into a condition of great excitement. To relieve his restlessness by giving way to it, he went out to walk. It was the end of the tourist season, and the Ben-my-Chree was leaving the harbour. Newsboys, burrowing among the crowds on the pier to sell a Manx evening paper, were crying, "Illness of the Deemster—serious reports."

Philip's hair seemed to rise from his head. The two things came together in his mind. With an effort to smudge out the connection he turned back to his lodgings, looking at everything that his eyes fell on in the rattling streets, speaking to everybody he knew, but seeing nothing and hearing nobody. The beast of life had laid its claws on him.

Back in his rooms, he took out of his pocket a packet which Auntie Nan had put in his hand when he was leaving Ramsey. It was a bundle of his father's old letters to his sister cousin, written from London in the days when he was studying law and life was like the opening dawn. "The ink is yellow now," said Auntie Nan; "it was black then, and the hand that wrote them is cold. But the blood runs red in them yet. Read them, Philip," she said with a meaning look, and then he was sure she knew of Sulby.

Philip read his father's letters until it was far into the night, and he had gone through every line of them. They were as bright as sunshine, as free as air, easy, playful, forcible, full of picture, but, above all, egotistical, proud with the pride of intellectuality, and vain with the certainty of success. It was this egotism that fascinated Philip. He sniffed it up as a colt sniffs the sharp wind. There was no need to make allowances for it. The castles which his father had been building in the air were only as hovels to the golden palaces which his son's eager spirit was that night picturing. Philip devoured the letters. It was almost as if he had written them himself in some other state of being. The message from Government House lay on a table at his right, and sometimes he put his open hand over it as he sat close under the lamp on a table at his left and read on:—

... "Heard old Broom in the House last night, and today I lunched with him at Tabley's. They call him an orator and the king of conversationalists. He speaks like a pump, and talks like a bottle running water. No conviction, no sincerity, no appeal. Civil enough to me though, and when he heard that father was a Deemster, he told me the title meant Doomster, and then asked me if I knew the meaning of 'House of Keys,' and said it had its origin in the ancient Irish custom of locking the muniment chests with twenty-four keys, whereof each counsellor kept one. When he had left us Tabley asked if he wasn't a wonderful man, and if he didn't know something of everything, and I said, 'Yes, except the things of which I knew a little, and of them he knew nothing.'... My pen runs, runs. But, Nannie, my little Nannie, if this is what London calls a great man, I'll kick the ball like a toy before me yet."

... "So you are wondering where I am living—in man-sion or attic! Behold me then in Brick Court, Temple, second floor. Goldsmith wrote the 'Vicar' on the third, but I've not got up to that yet. His rooms were those immediately above me. I seem to see him coming down past my door in that wonderful plum-coloured coat. And sitting here at night I think of him—the sudden fear, the solitary death, then these stairs thronged with his pensioners, the mighty Burke pushing through, Reynolds with his ear-trumpet, and big 'blinking Sam,' and last of all the unknown grave, God knows where, by the chapel wall. Poor little Oliver! They say it was a women that was 'in' at the end. No more of the like now, no more debts, no more vain 'talk like poor Poll:' the light's out—all still and dark."

... "How's my little Nannie? Does she still keep a menagerie for sick dogs and lost cats? And how's the parson-gull with the broken wing, and does he still strut like Parson Kis-sack in his surplice? I was at Westminster Hall yesterday. It was the great trial of Mitchell, M. P., who forged his father's will. Stevens defended—bad, bad, bad, smirking all the while with small facetiae. But Denman's summing up—oh! oh! such insight, such acuteness! It was wonderful. I had a seat in the gallery. The grand old hall was a thrilling scene—the dense throng, the upturned faces, the counsel, the judges, the officers of court, and then the windows, the statues, the echo of history that made every stone and rafter live—Oh, Nan, Nan, listen to me! If I live I'll sit on the bench there some day—I will, so help me God!"

When Philip had finished his father's letters, he was on the heights, and poor Kate was left far below, out of reach and out of sight. Hitherto his ambitions had been little more than the pale shadow of his father's hopes, but now they were his own realities.



XXII.

Next morning the letter came from Caesar inviting him to the Melliah, and then he thought of Kate more tenderly. She would suffer, she would cry—it would make his heart bleed to see her; but must he for a few tears put by the aims of a lifetime? If only Pete had been alive! If only Pete were yet to come home! He grew hot and ashamed when he remembered the time, so lately past, when the prayer of his secret heart would have been different. It was so easy now to hate himself for such evil impulses.

Philip decided to go to the Melliah. It would give him the chance he wanted of breaking off the friendship finally. More than friendship there had never been, except secretly, and that could not count. He knew he was deceiving himself; he felt an uneasy sense of loss of honour and a sharp pang of tender love as often as Kate's face rose up before him.

On the day of the Melliah he set off early, riding by way of St. John's that he might inquire at Kirk Michael about the Deemster.. He found the great man's house a desolate place. The gate was padlocked, and he had to clamber over it; the acacias slashed above him going down the path, and the fallen leaves encumbered his feet At the door, which was shut, he rang, and before it was opened to him an old woman put her untidy head out of a little window at the side.

"It's scandalous the doings that's here, sir," she whispered. "The Dempster's gone into 'sterics with the drink, and the lil farmer fellow, Billiam Cowley, is over and giving him as much as he wants, and driving everybody away."

"Can I speak to him?" said Philip.

"Billiam? It isn't fit. He'll blackguard you mortal, and the Dempster himself is past it. Just sitting with the brandy and drinking and drinking, and ateing nothing; but that dirt brought up on the Curragh shouting for beefstakes morning and night, and having his dinner laid on a beautiful new white sheet as clane as a bed."

From the ambush of a screen before an open door, Philip looked into the room where the Deemster was killing himself. The window shutters were up to keep out the daylight; candles were burning in the necks of bottles on the mantelpiece; a fire smouldered in a grate littered with paper and ashes; a coarse-featured man was eating ravenously at the table, a chop-bone in his fingers, and veins like cords moving on his low forehead—and the Deemster himself, judge of his island since the death of Iron Christian, was propped up in a chair, with a smoking glass on a stool beside him, and a monkey perched on his shoulder. "Turn them out, neck and crop, Dempster; the women are all for robbing a man," said the fellow; and a husky, eaten-out voice replied to him with a grunt and a laugh, "H'm! That's only what you're doing yourself, then, you rascal, and if I'd let the right one in long ago you wouldn't be here now—nor I neither, would I, Jacko?" The tail of the monkey flapped on the Deemster's breast, and Philip crept away with a shiver.

The sun was shining brightly outside the house, and the air was fresh and sweet. Remounting his horse, which was neighing and stamping at the gate, Philip rode hard to bring back a sense of warmth. At the "Fairy" he alighted and put up, and saw Grannie, who was laying tables in the mill.

"I'm busy as Trap's wife," she said, "and if you were the Govenar itself you wouldn't get lave to spake to me now. Put a sight on himself on the field yonder, the second meadow past the Bishop's bridge, and come back with the boys to supper."

Philip found the Melliah field. Two-score workers, men, women, and children, a cart and a pair of horses were scattered over it. Where the corn had been cut the day before the stubble had been woven overnight into a white carpet of cobwebs, which neither sun nor step of man had yet dispelled. There were the smell of the straw, the cawing of the rooks in the glen, the hissing to the breeze of the barley still standing, the swish of the scythe and the gling of the sickle, the bending and rising of the shearers, the swaying of the binders dragging the sheaves, the gluck of the wheels of the cart, the merry head of a child peeping out of a stook like a young bird out of the broken egg, and a girl in scarlet, whom Philip recognised, standing at the farthest hedge, and waving the corn band with which she was tieing to some one below.

Philip vaulted into the field, and was instantly seized by every woman working in it, except Kate, tied up with the straw ropes, and only liberated on paying the toll of an intruder.

"But I've come to work," he protested, and Caesar who, was plotting the last rigs of the harvest, paired him with Kate and gave him a sickle. "He's a David, he'll smite down his thousands/," said Caesar. Then cocking his eye up the field, "the Ballabeg for leader," he cried, "he's a plate-ribbed man. And let ould Maggie take the butt along with him. Jemmy the Red for the after-rig, and Robbie to follow Mollie with the cart Now ding-dong, boys, bend your backs and down with it."

Kate had not looked up when Philip came into the field, but she had seen him come, and she gave a little start when he took his place in his shirt-sleeves beside her. He used some conventional phrases which she scarcely answered, and then nothing was heard but the sounds of the sickle and the corn. She worked steadily for some time, and he looked up at her at intervals with her round bare arms and supple waist and firm-set foot and tight red stocking. Two butterflies tumbling in the air played around her sun bonnet and a lady-clock settled on her wrist.

Time was called for rest as Nancy Joe came through the gate bringing a basket with bottles and a can.

"The belly's a malefactor that forgets former kindness," said Caesar; "ate and drink."

Then the men formed a group about the ale, the older women drank tea, the children making bands were given butter-milk, and the younger women with babes went cooing and clucking to the hedge where the little ones lay nuzzled up and unattended, some asleep in shawls, some awake on their backs and grabbing at the wondrous forests of marguerites towering up beside them, and all crying with one voice at sight of the breast, which the mothers were as glad to give as they to take.

The rooks cawed in the glen, there was a hot hum of bees, and a company of starlings passed overhead, glittering in the sunlight like the scales of a herring.

"They're taiching us a lesson," said Caesar. "They're going together over the sea; but there's someones on earth would sooner go to heaven itself solitary, and take joy if they found themselves all alone and the cock of the walk there."

Kate and Philip stood and talked where they had been shearing quietly, simply, without apparent interest, and meanwhile the workers discussed them.

First the men: "He works his siggle like a man though."—"A stout boy anyway; give him practice and he'd shear many a man in bed." Then the women: "She's looking as bright as a pewter pot, and she's all so pretty as the Govenar's daughter too."—"Got a good heart, though. Only last week she had word of Pete, and look at the scarlet perricut." Finally both men and women: "Lave her alone, mother; it's that Ross that's wasting the woman."—"Well, if I was a man I'd know my tack."—"Wouldn't trust. It comes with Caesar anyway; the Lord prospers him; she'll have her pickings. Nothing bates religion in this world. It's like going to the shop with an ould Manx shilling—you get your pen'orth of taffy and twelve pence out."—"Lend's a hand with the jough then, boy. None left? Aw, Caesar's wonderful religious, but there's never much lavings of ale with him."

Caesar was striding through the stooks past Philip and Kate.

"Will it thrash well, Mr. Cregeen?" said Philip.

"Eight bolls to the acre maybe, but no straw to spake of, sir," said Caesar. "Now, boys, let the weft rest on the last end, finish your work."

The workers fell to again, and the sickle of the leader sang round his head as he hacked and blew and sent off his breath in spits until the green grass springing up behind him left only a triangular corner of yellow corn. Fore-rig and the after-rig took a tussle together, and presently nothing was standing of all the harvest of Glenmooar but one small shaft of ears a yard wide or less. Then the leaders stopped, and all the shearers of the field came up and cast down their sickles into the soil in a close circle, making a sheaf of crescent moons.

"Now for the Melliah," said Caesar. "Who's to be Queen?"

There was a cry for Kate, and she sailed forward buoyantly, fresh still, warm with her work, and looking like the afterglow from the sunset in the lengthening shadows from the west.

"Strike them from their legs, Kirry," cried Nancy Joe, and Kate drew up one of the sickles, swept her left arm over the standing corn, and at a single stroke of her right brought the last ears to the ground.

Then there was a great shout. "Hurrah for the Mel-liah!" It rang through the glen and echoed in the mountains. Grannie heard it in the valley, and said to herself, "Caesar's Melliah's took."

"Well, we've gathered the ripe corn, praise His name," said Caesar, "but what shall be done at the great gathering for unripe Christians?"

Kate lifted her last sheaf and tied it about with a piece of blue ribbon, and Philip plucked the cushag (the ragwort) from the hedge, and gave it her to put in the band.

This being done; the Queen of the Melliah stepped back, feeling Philip's eyes following her, while the oldest woman shearer came forward.

"I've a crown-piece, here that's being lying in my pocket long enough, Joney," said Caesar with an expansive air, and he gave the woman her accustomed dole.

She was a timid, shrinking creature, having a face walled with wrinkles, and wearing a short blue petticoat, showing heavy dull boots like a man's, and thick black stockings.

Then the young fellows went racing over the field, vaulting the stooks, stretching a straw rope for the girls to jump over, heightening and tightening it to trip them up, and slacking and twirling it to make them skip. And the girls were falling with a laugh, and leaping up again and flying off like the dust, tearing their frocks and dropping their sun-bonnets as if the barley grains they had been reaping had got into their blood.

In the midst of this maddening frolic, while Caesar and the others were kneeling behind the barley stack, Kate snatched Philip's hat from his head and shot like a gleam into the depths of the glen.

Philip dragged up his coat by one of its arms and fled after her.



XXIII.

Sulby Glen is winding, soft, rich, sweet, and exquisitely beautiful. A thin thread of blue water, laughing, babbling, brawling, whooping, leaping, gliding, and stealing down from the mountains; great boulders worn smooth and ploughed hollow by the wash of ages; wet moss and lichen on the channel walls; deep, cool dubbs; tiny reefs; little cascades of boiling foam; lines of trees like sentinels on either side, making the light dim through the overshadowing leafage; gaunt trunks torn up by winds and thrown across the stream with their heads to the feet of their fellows; the golden fuschia here, the green trammon there; now and again a poor old tholthan, a roofless house, with grass growing on its kitchen floor; and over all the sun peering down with a hundred eyes into the dark and slumberous gloom, and the breeze singing somewhere up in the tree-tops to the voice of the river below.

Kate had run out on the stem of one of the fallen trees, and there Philip found her, over the middle of the stream, laughing, dancing, waving his hat in one hand, and making sweeping bows to her reflection in the water below.

"Come back," he cried. "You terrible girl, you'll fall. Sit down there—don't torment me, sit down."

After a curtsey to him she turned her attention to her skirts, wound them about her ankles, sat on the trunk, and dangled her shapely feet half an inch over the surface of the stream.

Then Philip had time to observe that the other end of the tree did not reach the opposite bank, but dipped short into the water. So he barricaded his end by sitting on it, and said triumphantly: "My hat, if you please."

Kate looked and gave a little cry of alarm and then a chuckle, and then she said—

"You thought you'd caught me, didn't you? You can't, though," and she dropped on to a boulder from which she might have skipped ashore.

"I can't, can't I?" said Philip; and he twisted a smaller boulder on his side, so that Kate was surrounded by water and cut off from the bank. "My hat now, madam," he said with majestic despotism. 10

She would not deliver it, so he pretended to leave her where she was. "Good-bye, then; good evening," he cried over the laughter of the stream, and turned away a step bareheaded.

A moment later his confidence was dashed. When he turned his head back Kate had whipped off her shoes and stockings, and was ramming the one inside the other.

"What are you doing?" cried Philip.

"Catch this—and this," she said, flinging the shoes across to him. Then clapping his straw hat on the crown of her sun-bonnet, she tucked up her skirts with both hands and waded ashore.

"What a clever boy you are! You thought you'd caught me again, didn't you?" she said.

"I've caught your shoes, anyway," said Philip, "and until you give me my hat I'll stick to them."

She was on the shingle, but in her bare feet, and could not make a step.

"My shoes, please?" she pleaded.

"My hat first," he answered.

"Take it."

"No; you must give it me."

"Never! I'll sit here all night first," said Kate.

"I'm willing," said Philip.

They were sitting thus, the one bare-headed, the other with bare feet, and on the same stone, as if seats in the glen were scarce, when there came the sound of a hymn from the field they had left, and then it was agreed by way of mutual penalty that Kate should put on Philip's hat on condition that Philip should be required to put on Kate's shoes.

At the next moment Philip, suddenly sobered, was reproaching himself fiercely. What was he doing? He had come to tell Kate that he should come no more, and this was how he had begun! Yesterday he was in Douglas reading his father's letters, and here he was to-day, forgetting himself, his aims in life, his duties, his obligations—everything. "Philip," he thought, "you are as weak as water. Give up your plans; you are not fit for them; abandon your hopes—they are too high for you."

"How solemn we are all at once!" said Kate.

The hymn (a most doleful strain, dragged out to death on every note) was still coming from the Melliah field, and she added, slyly, shyly, with a mixture of boldness and nervousness, "Do you think this world is so very bad, then?"

"Well—aw—no," he faltered, and looking up he met her eye, and they both laughed.

"It's all nonsense, isn't it?" she said, and they began to walk down the glen.

"But where are we going?"

"Oh, we'll come out this way just as well."

The scutch grass, the long rat-tail, and the golden cushag were swishing against his riding-breeches and her print dress. "I must tell her now," he thought. In the narrow places she went first, and he followed with a lagging step, trying to begin. "Better prepare her," he thought. But he could think of no commonplace leading up to what he wished to say.

Presently, through a tangle of wild fuchsia, there was a smell of burning turf in the air and the sound of milking into a pail, and then a voice came up surprisingly as from the ground, saying:

"Aisy on the thatch, Miss Cregeen, ma'am."

It was old Joney, the shearer, milking her goat, and Kate had stepped on to the roof of her house without knowing it, for the little place was low and opened from the water's edge and leaned against the bank.

Philip made some conventional inquiries, and she answered that she had been thirty years there, and had one son living with her, and he was an imbecile.

"There was once a flock at me, and I was as young as you are then, miss, and all as happy; but they're laving me one by one, except this one, and he isn't wise, poor boy."

Philip tried to steel his heart. "It is cruel," he thought, "it will hurt her; but what must be, must be." She began to sing and went carolling down the glen, keeping two paces in front of him. He followed like an assassin meditating the moment to strike. "He is going to say something," she thought, and then she sang louder.

"Kate," he called huskily.

But she only clapped her hands, and cried in a voice of delight, "The echo! Here's the echo! Let's shout to it."

Her kindling features banished his purpose for the time, and he delivered himself to her play. Then she called up the gill, "Ec—ho! Ec—ho!" and listened, but there was no response, and she said, "It won't answer to its own name. What shall I call?"

"Oh, anything," said Philip.

"Phil—ip! Phil—ip!" she called, and then said pettishly, "No, Philip won't hear me either." She laughed. "He's always so stupid though, and perhaps he's asleep."

"More this way," said Philip. "Try now."

"You try."

Philip took up the call. "Kate!" he shouted, and back came the answer, Ate! "Kate—y!"—Ate—y.

"Ah! how quick! Katey's a good girl. Hark how she answers you," said Kate.

They walked a few steps, and Kate called again, "Philip!" There was no answer. "Philip is stubborn; he won't have anything to do with me," said Kate.

Then Philip called a second time, "Katey!" And back came the echo as before. "Well, that's too bad. Katey is—yes, she's actually following you!"

Philip's courage oozed out of him. "Not yet," he thought. Traa-dy-liooar—time enough. "After supper, when everybody is going! Outside the mill, in the half light of candles within and darkness without! It will sound so ordinary then, 'Good-bye! Haven't you heard the news? Auntie Nan is reconciled at last to leaving Ballure and joining me in Douglas.' That's it; so simple, so commonplace."

The light was now coming between the trees on the closing west in long swords of sunset red. They could hear the jolting of the laden cart on its way down the glen. The birds were fairly rioting overhead, and all sorts of joyous sounds filled the air. Underfoot there were long ferns and gorse, which caught at her crinkling dress sometimes, and then he liberated her and they laughed. A trailing bough of deadly nightshade was hanging from the broken head of an old ash stump, whose wasted feet were overgrown by two scarlet-tipped toadstools, and she plucked a long tendril of it and wound it about her head, tipping her sun-bonnet back, and letting the red berries droop over her dark hair to her face. Then she began to sing,

O were I monarch o' the globe, Wi' thee to reign, wi' thee to reign.

Radiant gleams shot out of her black pupils, and flashes of love like lightning passed from her eye to his.

Then he tried to moralise. "Ah!" he said, out of the gravity of his wisdom, "if one could only go on for ever like this, living from minute to minute! But that's the difference between a man and a woman. A woman lives in the world of her own heart. If she has interests, they centre there. But a man has his interests outside his affections. He is compelled to deny himself, to let the sweetest things go by."

Kate began to laugh, and Philip ended by laughing too.

"Look!" she cried, "only look."

On the top of the bank above them a goat was skirmishing. He was a ridiculous fellow; sometimes cropping with saucy jerks, then kicking up his heels, as if an invisible imp had pinched him, then wagging his rump and laughing in his nostrils.

"As I was saying," said Philip, "a man has to put by the pleasures of life. Now here's myself, for example. I am bound, do you know, by a kind of duty—a sort of vow made to the dead, I might say———"

"I'm sure he's going to say something," thought Kate. The voice of his heart was speaking louder and quicker than his halting tongue. She saw that a blow was coming, and looked about for the means to ward it off.

"The fairy's dubb!" she cried suddenly, and darted from his side to the water's edge.

It was a little round pool, black as ink, lying quiet and apparently motionless under a noisy place where the waters swirled and churned over black moss, and the stream ran into the dark. Philip had no choice but to follow her.

"Cut me a willow! Your penknife! Quick, sir, quick! Not that old branch—a sapling. There, that's it. Now you shall hear me tell my own fortune."

"An ordeal is it?" said Philip.

"Hush! Be quiet, still, or little Phonodoree wont listen. Hush, now hush!"

With solemn airs, but a certain sparkle in her eyes, she went down on her knees by the pool, stretched her round arm over the water, passed the willow bough slowly across its surface, and recited her incantation:

Willow bough, willow bough, which of the four, Sink, circle, or swim, or come floating ashore? Which is the fortune you keep for my life, Old maid or young mistress or widow or wife?

With the last word she flung the willow bough on to the pool, and sat back on her heels to watch it as it moved slowly with the motion of the water.

"Bravo!" cried Philip.

"Be quiet. It's swimming. No, it's coming ashore."

"It's wife, Kate. No, it's widow. No, it's——"

"Do be serious. Oh, dear! it's going—yes, it's going round. Not that either. No, it has—yes, it has———oh!"

"Sunk!" said Philip, laughing and clapping his hands. "You're doomed to be an old maid, Kate. Phonodoree says so."

"Cruel Brownie! I'm vexed that I bothered with him," said Kate, dropping her lip. Then nodding to her reflection in the water where the willow bough had disappeared, she said, "Poor little Katey! He might have given you something else. Anything but that dear, eh?"

"What," laughed Philip, "crying? Because Phonodoree—never!"

Kate leapt up with averted face. "What nonsense you are talking!" she said.

"There are tears in your eyes, though," said Philip.

"No wonder, either. You're so ridiculous. And if I'm meant for an old maid, you're meant for an old bachelor—and quite right too!"

"Oh, it is, is it?"

"Yes, indeed. You've got no more heart than a mushroom, for you're all head and legs, and you're going to be just as bald some day."

"I am, am I, mistress?"

"If I were you, Philip, I should hire myself out for a scarecrow, and then having nothing under your clothes wouldn't so much matter."

"It wouldn't, wouldn't it?" said Philip.

She was shying off at a half circle; he was beating round her.

"But you're nearly as old as Methuselah already, and what you'll be when you're a man——"

"Lookout!"

She made him an arch curtsey and leapt round a tree, and cried from the other side, "I know. A squeaking old croaker, with the usual old song, 'Deed yes, friends, this world is a vale of sin and misery.' The men's the misery and the women's the sin——"

"You rogue, you!" cried Philip.

He made after her, and she fled, still speaking, "What do you think a girl wants with a——Oh! Oh! Oo!"

Her tirade ended suddenly. She had plunged into a bed of the prickly gorse, and was feeling in twenty places at once what it was to wear low shoes and thin stockings.

"With a Samson, eh?" cried Philip, striding on in his riding breeches, and lifting the captured creature in his arms. "Why, to carry her, you torment, to carry her through the gorse like this."

"Ah!" she said, turning her face over his shoulder, and tickling his neck with her breath.

Her hair caught in a tree, and fell in a dark shower over his breast. He set her on her feet; they took hands, and went carolling down the glen together:

"The brightest jewel in my crown, Wad be my queen, wad be my queen."

The daylight lingered as if loth to leave them. There was the fluttering of wings overhead, and sometimes the last piping of birds. The wind wandered away, and left their voices sovereign of all the air.

Then there came a distant shout; the cheer of the farm people on reaching home with the Melliah.. It awakened Philip as from a fit of intoxication.

"This is madness," he thought. "What am I doing?" "He is going to speak now," she told herself.

Her gaiety shaded off into melancholy, and her melancholy burst into wild gaiety again. The night had come down, the moon had risen, the stars had appeared. She crept closer to Philip's side, and began to tell him the story of a witch. They were near to the house the witch had lived in. There it was—that roofless cottage—that tholthan under the deep trees like a dungeon.

"Have you never heard of her, Philip? No? The one they called the Deemster's lady?"

"What Deemster?" said Philip.

"This one, Deemster Mylrea, who is said to be dying."

"He is dying; he is killing himself; I saw him to-day,' said Philip.

"'Well, she was the blacksmith's daughter, and he left her, and she went mad and cursed him, and said she was his wife though they hadn't been to church, and he should never marry anybody else. Then her father turned her out, and she came up here all alone, and there was a baby, and they were saying she killed it, and everybody was afraid of her. And all the time her boy was making himself a great, great man until he got to be Deemster. But he never married, never, though times and times people were putting this lady on him and then that; but when they told the witch, she only laughed and said, 'Let him, he'll get lave enough!' At last she was old and going on two sticks, and like to die any day, and then he crept out of his big house unknown to any one and stole up here to the woman's cottage. And when she saw the old man she said, 'So you've come at last, boy; but you've been keeping me long, bogh, you've been keeping me long.' And then she died. Wasn't that strange?"

Her dark eyes looked up at him and her mouth quivered.

"Was it witchcraft, then?" said Philip.

"Oh, no; it was only because he was her husband. That was the hold she had of him. He was tempted away by a big house and a big name, but he had to come back to her. And it's the same with a woman. Once a girl is the wife of somebody, she must cling to him, and if she is ever false she must return. Something compels her. That's if she's really his wife—really, truly. How beautiful, isn't it? Isn't it beautiful?"

"Do you think that, Kate? Do you think a man, like a woman, would cling the closer?"

"He couldn't help himself, Philip."

Philip tried to say it was only a girl's morality, but her confidence shamed him. She slipped her moist fingers into his hand again. They were close by the deserted tholthan, and she was creeping nearer and nearer to his side. A bat swirled above their heads and she made a faint cry. Then a cat shot from under a gooseberry bush, and she gave a little scream. She was breathing irregularly. He could smell the perfume of her fallen hair. He was in agony of pain and delight. His heart was leaping in his bosom; his eyes were burning.

"She's right," he thought. "Love is best. It is everything. It is the crown of life. Shall I give it up for the Dead Sea fruit of worldly success? Think of the Deemster! Wifeless, childless, living solitary, dying alone, unregretled, unmourned. What is the wickedness you are plotting? Your father is dead, you can do him neither good nor harm. This girl is alive. She loves you. Love her. Let the canting hypocrites prate as they will."

She had disengaged her hand, and was creeping away from him in the half darkness, treading softly and going off like a gleam.

"Kate!" he called.

He heard her laughter, he heard the drowsy hum of the gill, he could smell the warm odour of the gorse bushes.

"But this is madness," he thought. "This is the fever of an hour. Yield now and I am ruined for life. The girl has come between me and my aims, my vows, my work—everything. She has tempted me, and I am as weak as water."

"Kate!"

She did not answer.

"Come here this moment, Kate. I have something to say to you."

"Bite!" she said, coming back and holding an apple to his lips. She had plucked it in the overgrown garden.

"Listen! I'm leaving Ramsey for good—don't intend to practise in the northern courts any longer—settling in Douglas—best work lies there, you see—worst of it is—we shan't meet again soon—not very soon, you know—not for years, perhaps——"

He began by stammering, and went on stuttering, blurting out his words, and trembling at the sound of his own voice.

"Philip, you must not go!" she cried. "I'm sorry, Kate, very sorry. Shall always remember so tenderly—not to say fondly—the happy boy and girl days together."

"Philip, Philip, you must not go—you cannot go—you shall not go!"

He could see her bosom heaving under her loose red bodice. She took hold of his arm and dragged at it.

"Won't you spare me? Will you shame me to death? Must I tell you? If you won't speak, I will. You cannot leave me, Philip, because—because—what do I care?—because I love you!"

"Don't say that, Kate!"

"I love you, Philip—I love you—I love you!"

"Would to God I had never been born!"

"But I will show you how sweet it is to be alive. Take me, take me—I am yours!"

Her upturned face seemed to flash. He staggered like one seized with giddiness. It was a thing of terror to behold her. Still he struggled. "Though apart, we shall remember each other, Kate."

"I don't want to remember. I want to have you with me."

"Our hearts will always be together."

"Come to me then, Philip, come to me!"

"The purest part of our hearts—our souls——"

"But I want you! Will you drive a girl to shame herself again? I want you, Philip! I want your eyes that I may see them every day; and your hair, that I may feel it with my hands; and your lips—can I help it?—yes, and your lips, that I may kiss and kiss them!"

"Kate! Kate! Turn your eyes away. Don't look at me like that!" She was fighting for her life. It was to be now or never.

"If you won't come to me, I'll go to you!" she cried; and then she sprang upon him, and all grew confused, the berries of the nightshade whipped his forehead, and the moon and the stars went out.

"My love! My darling! My girl!"

"You won't go now?" she sobbed.

"God forgive me, I cannot."

"Kiss me. I feel your heart beating. You are mine—mine—mine! Say you won't go now!"

"God forgive us both!"

"Kiss me again, Philip! Don't despise me that I love you better than myself!"

She was weeping, she was laughing, her heart was throbbing up to her throat. At the next moment she had broken from his embrace and was gone.

"Kate! Kate!"

Her voice came from the tholthan.

"Philip!"

When a good woman falls from honour, is it merely that she is a victim of momentary intoxication, of stress of passion, of the fever of instinct? No. It is mainly that she is a slave of the sweetest, tenderest, most spiritual and pathetic of all human fallacies—the fallacy that by giving herself to the man she loves she attaches him to herself for ever. This is the real betrayer of nearly all good women that are betrayed. It lies at the root of tens of thousands of the cases that make up the merciless story of man's sin and woman's weakness. Alas! it is only the woman who clings the closer. The impulse of the man is to draw apart. He must conquer it or she is lost. Such is the old cruel difference and inequality of man and woman as nature made them—the old trick, the old tragedy.



XXIV.

Old Mannanin, the magician, according to his wont, had surrounded his island with mist that day, and, in the helpless void of things unrevealed, a steamship bound for Liverpool came with engines slacked some points north of her course, blowing her fog-horn over the breathless sea with that unearthly yell which must surely be the sound whereby the devil summons his legions out of chaos.

Presently something dropping through the dense air settled for a moment on the damp rope of the companion ladder, and one of the passengers recognised it.

"My gough! It's a bird, a sparrow," he cried.

At the same moment there was a rustle of wind, the mist lifted, and a great round shoulder rose through the white gauze, as if it had been the ghost of a mountain.

"That's the Isle of Man," the passenger shouted, and there was a cry of incredulity. "It's the Calf, I'm telling you, boys. Lave it to me to know." And instantly the engines were reversed.

The passenger, a stalwart fellow, with a look as of pallor under a tawny tan, walked the deck in a fever of excitement, sometimes shouting in a cracked voice, sometimes laughing huskily, and at last breaking down in a hoarse gurgle like a sob.

"Can't you put me ashore, capt'n?"

"Sorry I can't, sir, we've lost time already."

There was a dog with him, a little, misshappen, ugly creature, and he lifted it up in his arms and hugged it, and called it by blusterous swear names, with noises of inarticulate affection. Then he went down to his berth in the second cabin and opened a little box of letters, and took them out one by one, and leaned up to the port to read them. He had read them before, and he knew them by heart, but he traced the lines with his broad forefinger, and spelled the words one by one. And as he did so he laughed aloud, and then cried to himself, and then laughed once more. "She is well and happy, and looking lovely, and, if she does not write, don't think she is forgetting you."

"God bless her. And God bless him, too. God bless them both!"

He went up on deck again, for he could not rest in one place long. There was a breeze now, and he filled his lungs and blew and blew. The island was dying down over the sea in a pale light of silver grey. An engineman and a stoker were leaning over the bulwark to cool themselves.

"Happy enough now, sir, eh?"

"Happy as a sand-boy, mate, only mortal hungry. Tiffin you say? Aw, the heart has its hunger same as anything else, and mine has been on short commons these five years and better. See that island there, lying like a salmon gull atop of the water? Looks as if she might dip under it, doesn't she? That's my home, my native land, as the man says, and only three weeks ago I wasn't looking to see the thundering ould thing again; but God is good, you see, and I am middling fit for all. I'm a Manxman myself, mate, and I've got a lil Manx woman that's waiting for me yonder. It's only an ould shirt I'm bringing her to patch, as the saying is, but she'll be that joyful you never seen. It's bad to take a woman by surprise, though—these nervous creatures—'sterics, you see—I'll send her a tally graph from the Stage. My sakes! the joy she'll be taking of that boy, too! He'll be getting sixpence for himself and a drink of butter-milk. It's always the way of these poor lil things—can't stand no good news at all—people coming home and the like—not much worth, these women—crying reglar—can't help it. Well, you see, they're tender-hearteder than us, and when anybody's been five years... Be gough, we're making way, though! The island's going under, for sure. Or is it my eyes that isn't so clear since my bit of a bullet-wound! Aw, God is good, tremen-jous!"

The breaking voice stopped suddenly, and the engine-men turned about, but the passenger was stumbling down the cabin stairs.

"If ever a man came back from the dead it's that one," said both men together.



PART III. MAN AND WOMAN



I.

Philip was vanquished, and he knew it, but he was not daunted, he was not distressed. To have resisted the self-abandonment of Kate's love would have been monstrous. Therefore, he had done no wrong, and there was nothing to be ashamed of. But when he reached Ballure he did not dash into Auntie Nan's room, according to his wont, though a light was burning there, and he could hear the plop and click of thread and needle; he crept upstairs to his own, and sat down to write a letter. It was the first of his love letters.

"I shall count the days, the hours, and the minutes until we meet again, my darling, and I shall be constantly asking what time it is. And seeing we must be so much apart, let us contrive a means of being together, nevertheless. Listen!—I whisper the secret in your ear. To-morrow night and every night eat your supper at eight o'clock exactly; I will do the same, and so we shall be supping in each other's company, my little wife, though twenty miles divide us. If any body asks me to supper, I will refuse in order that I may sup with you. 'I am promised to a friend,' I'll say, and then I'll sit down in my rooms alone, but you will be with me."

Tingling with delight, he wrote this letter to Kate, though less than an hour parted from her, and went out to post it. He was going upstairs again, steadily, on tiptoe, his head half aside and his face over his shoulder, when Auntie Nan's voice came from the blue room—"Philip!"

He returned with a sheepish look, and a sense, never felt before, of being naked, so to speak. But Auntie Nan did not look at him. She was working a lamb on a sampler, and she reached over the frame to take something out of a drawer and hand it to him. It was a medallion of a young child—a boy, with long fair curls like a girl's, and a face like sunshine.

"Was it father, Auntie?"

"Yes; a French painter who came ashore with Thurlot painted it for grandfather."

Philip laid it on the table. He was more than ever sure that Auntie Nan had heard something. Such were her tender ways of warning him. He could not be vexed.

"I'm sleepy to-night, Auntie, and you look tired too. You've been waiting up for me again. Now, you really must not. Besides, it limits one's freedom."

"That's nothing, Philip. You said you would come home after calling on the poor Deemster, and so——"

"He's in a bad way, Auntie. Drink—delirium—such a wreck. Well, good night!"

"Did you read the letters, dear?"

"Oh, yes. Father's letters. Yes, I read them. Good night."

"Aren't they beautiful? Haven't they the very breath of ambition and enthusiasm? But poor father! How soon the brightness melted away! He never repined, though. Oh, no, never. Indeed, he used to laugh and joke at our dreams and our castles in the air. 'You must do it all yourself, Nannie; you shall have all the cakes and ale.' Yes, when he was a dying man he would joke like that. But sometimes he would grow serious, and then he would say, 'Give little Philip some for all. He'll deserve it more than me. Oh, God,' he would say, 'let me think to myself when I'm there, you've missed the good things of life, but your son has got them; you are here, but he is on the heights; lie still, thou poor aspiring heart, lie still in your grave and rest.'"

Philip felt like a bird struggling in the meshes of a net.

"My father was a poet, Auntie, trying to be a man of the world. That was the real mischief in his life, if you think of it."

Auntie Nan looked up with her needle at poise above the sampler, and said in a nervous voice, "The real mischief of your father's life, Philip, was love—what they call love. But love is not that. Love is peace and virtue, and right living, and that is only madness and frenzy, and when people wake up from it they wake up as from a nightmare. Men talk of it as a holy thing—it is unholy. Books are written in praise of it—I would have such books burnt. When anybody falls to it, he is like a blind man who has lost his guide, tottering straight to the precipice. Women fall to it too. Yes, good women as well as good men; I have seen them tempted——"

Philip was certain of it now. Some one had been prying upon him at Sulby. He was angry, and his anger spent itself on Auntie Nan in a torrent of words. "You are wrong, Aunt Anne, quite wrong. Love is the one lovely thing in life. It is beauty, it is poetry. Call it passion if you will—what would the world be like without it? A place where every human heart would be an island standing alone; a place without children, without joy, without merriment, without laughter. No, no; Heaven has given us love, and we are wrong when we try to put it away. We cannot put it away, and when we make the attempt we are punished for our pride and arrogance. It ought to be enough for us to let heaven decide whether we are to be great men or little men, and to decide for ourselves whether we are to be good men and happy men. And the greatest happiness of life is love. Heaven would have to work a miracle to enable us to live without it. But Heaven does not work such a miracle, because the greatest miracle of heaven is love itself."

The needle hand of Auntie Nan was trembling above her sampler, and her lips were twitching.

"You are a young man yet, Philip," she faltered, "but I am an old lady now, dear, and I have seen the fruits of the intoxication you call passion. Oh, have I not, have I not? It wrecks lives, ruins prospects, breaks up homes, sets father against son, and brother against brother——"

Philip would give her no chance. He was tramping across the room, and he burst out with, "You are wrong again, Auntie. You are always wrong in these matters, because you are always thinking from the particular to the general—you are always thinking of my father. What you have been calling my father's fall was really his fate. He deserved it. If he had been fit for the high destiny he aspired to—if he had been fit to be a judge, he would not have fallen. That he did fall is proof enough that he was not fit. God did not intend it. My father's aspirations were not the call of a stern vocation, they were mere poetic ambition. If he had ever by great ill-fortune lived to be made Deemster, he would have found himself out, and the island would have found him out, and you yourself would have found him out, and all the world would have been undeceived. As a poet he might have been a great man, but as a Deemster he must have been a mockery, a hypocrite, an impostor, and a sham."

Auntie Nan rose to her feet with a look of fright on her sweet old face, and something dropped with a clank on to the floor.

"Oh, Philip, Philip, if I thought you could ever repeat the error——"

But Philip gave her no time to finish. Tossing his disordered hair from his forehead, he swung out of the room.

Being alone, he began to collect himself. Was it, in sober fact, he who had spoken like that? Of his father too? To Auntie Nan as well? He saw how it was; he had been speaking of his father, but he had been thinking of himself; he had been struggling to justify himself, to reconcile, strengthen, and fortify himself. But in doing so he had been breaking an idol, a life-long idol, his own idol and Auntie Nan's.

He stumbled downstairs in a rush of remorse, and burst again into the room crying in a broken voice, "Auntie! Auntie!"

But the room was empty; the lamp was turned down; the sampler was pushed aside. Something crunched under his foot, and he stooped and picked it up. It was the medallion, and it was cracked across. The accident terrified him. His skin seemed to creep. He felt as if he had trodden on his father's face. Putting the broken picture into his pocket, he turned about like a guilty man and crept silently to bed in the darkness.

But the morning brought him solace for the pains of the night—it brought him a letter from Kate.

"The Melliah is over at long, long last, and I am allowed to be alone with my thoughts. They sang 'Keerie fu Snaighty' after you left, and 'The King can only love his wife, And I can do the sa-a-me, And I can do the same.' But there is really nothing to tell you, for nothing happened of the slightest consequence. Good night! I am going to bed after I have posted this letter at the bridge. Two hours hence you will appear to me in sleep, unless I lie that long awake to think of you. I generally do. Good-bye, my dear lord and master! You will let me know what you think best to be done. Your difficulties alarm me terribly. You see, dear, we two are about to do something so much out of the common. Good night! I lift my head that you may give me another kiss on the eyes, and here are two for yours."

Then there were empty brackets [ ], which Kate had put her lips to, expecting Philip to do the same.



II.

Philip was going into his chambers in Douglas that morning when he came upon a messenger from Government House in stately intercourse with his servant. His Excellency begged him to step up to Onchan immediately, and to remain for lunch.

The Governor's carriage was at the door, and Philip got into it. He was not excited; he remembered his agitation at the Governor's former message and smiled. On leaving his own rooms he had not forgotten to order supper for eight o'clock precisely.

He found the Governor polite and expansive as usual. He was sitting in a room hung round with ponderous portraits of former Governors, most of them in frills and ruffles, and one vast picture of King George.

"You will have heard," he said, "that our northern Deemster is dead."

"Is he so?" said Philip. "I saw him at one o'clock yesterday."

"He died at two?" said the Governor.

"Poor man, poor man!" said Philip.

That was all. Not a tremble of the eyelid, not a quiver of the lip.

"You are aware that the office is a Crown appointment?" said the Governor. "Applications are made, you know, to the Home Office, but it is probable that my advice may be asked by the Secretary in his selection. I may, perhaps, be of use to a candidate."

Philip gave no sign, and the Governor shifted his leg and continued with a smile, "Certainly that appears to be the impression of your brother advocates, Mr. Christian; they are about me already, like wasps at a glue-pot. I will not question but you'll soon be one of them."

Philip made a gesture of protestation, and the Governor waved his hand and smiled again. "Oh, I shan't blame you; young men are ambitious. It is natural that they should wish to advance themselves in life. In your case, too, if I may say so, there is the further spur of a desire to recover the position your family once held, and lately lost through the mistake or misfortune of your father."

Philip bowed gravely, but said nothing.

"That, no doubt," said the Governor, "would be a fact in your favour. The great fact against you would be that you are still so young. Let me see, is it eight-and twenty?"

"Twenty-six," said Philip.

"No more? Only six-and-twenty? And then, successful as your career has been thus far—perhaps I should say distinguished or even brilliant—you are still unsettled in life."

Philip asked if his Excellency meant that he was still unmarried.

"And if I do," the Governor replied, with pretended severity, "and if I do, don't smile too broadly, young man. You ought to know by this time that the personal equation counts for something in this old-fashioned island of yours. Now, the late Deemster was an example which it would be perilous to repeat. If it were repeated, I know who would hear of the blunder every day of his life, and it wouldn't be the Home Secretary either. Deemster Mylrea was called upon to punish the crimes of drink, and he was himself a drunkard; to try the offences of sensuality, and he was himself a sensualist."

Philip could not help it—he gave a little crack of laughter.

"To be sure," said the Governor hastily, "you are in no danger of his excesses; but you will not be a safe candidate to recommend until you have placed yourself to all appearances out of the reach of them. 'Beware of these Christians,' said the great Derby to his son; and pardon me if I revive the warning to a Christian himself."

The colour came strong into Philip's face. Even at that moment he felt angry at so coarse a version of his father's fault.

"You mean," said he, "that we are apt to marry unwisely."

"I do that," said the Governor.

"There's no telling," said Philip, with a faint crack of his fingers; and the Governor frowned a little—the pock-marks seemed to spread.

"Of course, all this is outside my duty, Mr. Christian—I needn't tell you that; but I feel an interest in you, and I've done you some services already, though naturally a young man will think he has done everything for himself. Ah!" he said, rising from his seat at the sound of a gong, "luncheon is ready. Let us join the ladies." Then, with one hand on Philip's shoulder familiarly, "only a word more, Mr. Christian. Send in your application immediately, and—take the advice of an old fiddler—marry as soon afterwards as may be. But with your prospects it would be a sin not to walk carefully. If she's English, so much the better; but if she's Manx—take care."

Philip lunched with the Governor's wife, who told him she remembered his grandfather; also with his unmarried daughter, who said she had heard him speak for the fishermen at Peel. An official "At home," the last of the summer, was to be held in the garden that afternoon, and Philip was invited to remain. He did so, and thereby witnessed the assaults of the wasps at the glue-pot. They buzzed about the Governor, they buzzed about his wife, they buzzed about his dog and about a tame deer, which took grapes from the hands of the guests.

An elderly gentleman, sitting alone in a carriage, drove up to the lawn. It was Peter Christian Ballawhaine, looking feebler, whiter, and more splay-footed than before. Philip stepped up to his uncle and offered his arm to alight by. But the Ballawhaine brushed it aside and pushed through to the Governor, to whom he talked incessantly for some minutes of his son Ross, saying he had sent for him and would like to present him to his Excellency.

If Philip lacked enjoyment of the scene, if his face lacked heart and happiness, it was not the fault of his host. "Will you not take Lady So-and-so to have tea?" the Governor would say; and presently Philip found himself in a circle of official wifedom, whose husbands had been made Knights by the Queen, and themselves made Ladies by—God knows whom. The talk was of the late Deemster.

"Such a life! It's a mercy he lasted so long!"

"A pity, you mean, my dear, not to be hard on him either."

"Poor thing! He ought to have married. Such a man wants a wife to look after him. Don't you think so, Mr. Christian?"

"Why," said a white-haired dame, "have you never heard of his great romance?"

"Ah! tell us of that. Who was the lady?"

"The lady——" there was a pause; the white-haired dame coughed, smiled, closed her little ferret eyes, dropped her voice, and said with mock gravity, "The lady was the blacksmith's daughter, dearest." And then there was a merry trill of laughter.

Philip felt sick, bowed to his hosts, and left. As he was going off, his uncle intercepted him, holding out both hands.

"How's this, Philip? You never come to Ballawhaine now. I see! Oh, I see! Too busy with the women to remember an old man. They're all talking of you. Putting the comather on them, eh? I know, I know; don't tell me."



III.

Philip's way home lay through the town, but he made a circuit of the country, across Onchan, so heartsick was he, so utterly choked with bitter feelings. He felt as if all the angels and devils together must be making a mock at him. The thing he had worked for through five heavy years, the end he had aimed at, the goal he had fought for, was his already—his for the stretching out of his hand. Yet now that it was his, he could not have it. Oh, the mockery of his fate! Oh, the irony of his life! It was shrieking, it was frantic!

Then his bolder spirit seemed to say, "What is all this childish fuming about? Fortune comes to you with both hands full. Be bold, and you may have both the wish of your soul and the desire of your heart—both the Deemster-ship and Kate."

It was impossible to believe that. If he married Kate, the Governor would not recommend him as Deemster. Had he not admitted that he stood in some fear of the public opinion of the island? And was it not conceivable that, besides the unselfish interest which the Governor had shown in him, there was even a personal one that would operate more powerfully than fear of the old-fashioned Manx conventions to prevent any recommendation of the husband of the wrong woman? At one moment a vague memory rose before Philip, as he crossed the fields, of the lunch at Government House, of the Governor's wife and daughter, of their courtesy and boundless graciousness. At the next moment he had drawn up sharply, with pangs of self-contempt, hating himself, loathing himself, swearing at himself for a mean-souled ingrate, as he kicked up the grass and the turf beneath it But the idea had taken root. He could not help it; the Governor's interest went for nothing in his reckoning.

"What a fool you are, Philip," something seemed to whisper out of the darkest corner of his conscience; "take the Deemstership first, and marry Kate afterwards." But it was impossible to think of that either. Say it could be done by any arts of cunning or duplicity, what then? Then there were the high walls of custom and prejudice to surmount. Philip remembered the garden-party, and saw that they could never be surmounted. The Deemster who slapped the conventions in the face would suffer for it. He would be taboo to half the life of the island—in public an official, in private a recluse. An icy picture rose before his mind's eye of the woman who would be his wife in her relations with the ladies he had just left. She might be their superior in education, certainly in all true manners, and in natural grace and beauty, in sweetness and charm, their mistress beyond a dream of comparison. But they would never forget that she was the daughter of a country innkeeper, and every little cobble in the rickety pyramid, even from the daughter of the innkeeper in the town, would look down on her as from a throne.

He could see them leaving their cards at his door and driving hurriedly off. They must do that much. It was the bitter pill which the Deemster's doings made them swallow. Then he could see his wife sitting alone, a miserable woman, despised envied, isolated, shut off from her own class by her marriage with the Deemster, and from his class by the Deemster's marriage with her. Again, he could see himself too powerful to offend, too dangerous to ignore, going out on his duties without cheer, and returning to his wife without company. Finally, he remembered his father and his mother, and he could not help but picture himself sitting at home with Kate five years after their marriage, when the first happiness of each other's society had faded, had staled, had turned to the wretchedness of starvation in its state of siege. Or perhaps going out for walks with her, just themselves, always themselves only, they two together, this evening, last evening, and to-morrow evening; through the streets crowded by visitors, down the harbour where the fishermen congregate, across the bridge and over the head between sea and sky; people bowing to them respectfully, rigidly, freezingly; people nudging and whispering and looking their way. Oh, God, what end could come of such an abject life but that, beginning by being unhappy, they should descend to being bad as well?

"What a fuss you are making of things," said the voice again, but more loudly. "This hubbub only means that you can't have your cake and eat it. Very well, take Kate, and let the Deemstership go to perdition."

There was not much comfort in that counsel, for it made no reckoning with the certainty that, if marriage with Kate would prevent him from being Deemster, it would prevent him from being anything in the Isle of Man. As it had happened with his father, so it would happen with him—there would be no standing ground in the island for the man who had deliberately put himself outside the pale.

"Don't worry me with silly efforts to draw a line so straight. If you can't have Kate and the Deemstership together, and if you can't have Kate without the Deemstership, there is only one thing left—the Deemstership without Kate. You must take the office and forego the girl. It is your duty, your necessity."

This was how Philip put it to himself at length, and the daylight had gone by that time, and he was walking in the dark. But the voice which had been pleading on his side now protested on hers.

"Don't prate of duty and necessity. You mean self-love and self-interest. Man, be honest. Because this woman is an obstacle in your career, you would sacrifice her. It is boundless, pitiless selfishness. Suppose you abandon her, dare you think of her without shame! She loves you, she trusts you, and she has given you proof of her love and trust. Hold your tongue. Don't dare to whisper that nobody knows it but you and heir—that you will be silent, that she will have no temptation to speak. She loves you. She has given you all. God bless her!"

Affectionate pity swept down the selfish man in him. As the lights of the town appeared on his path, he was saying to himself boldly, "Since either way there is trouble, I'll do as I said last night—I'll leave Heaven to decide whether I'm to be a great man or a little man, and decide for myself whether I'm to be a true man or a happy man. I'll take my heart in my hand and go right forward."

In this temper he returned to his chambers. The rooms fronted to Athol Street, but backed on to the churchyard of St. George's. They were quiet, and not overlooked. His lamp was lit. The servant was laying the cloth.

"Lay covers for two, Jemmy," said Philip. Then he began to hum something.

Presently, in feeling for his keys, his fingers touched an unfamiliar substance in his pocket. He remembered what it was. It was the cracked medallion of his father. He could not bear to look at it. Unlocking a chest, he buried it at the bottom under a pile of winter clothing.

This recalled a possession yet more painful, and going to a desk, he drew out the packet of his father's letters and proceeded to hide them away with the medallion. As he did so his hand trembled, his limbs shook, he felt giddy, and he thought the voice that had tormented him with conflicting taunts was ringing in his ears again. "Bury him deep! Bury your father out of all sight and all remembrance. Bury his love of you, his hopes of you, his expectations and dreams of you. Bury and forget him for ever."

Philip hesitated a moment, and then banged down the lid of the chest, and relocked it as his servant returned to the room. The man was a solemn, dignified, and reticent person, who had been groom to the late Bishop. His gravity he had acquired from his horses, his dignity from his master; but his reticence he had created for himself, being a thing beyond nature in creature or man. His proper name was Cottier; he had always been known as Jemy-Lord.

"Company not arrived, sir," he said. "Wait or serve?"

"What is the time?" said Philip.

"Struck eight; but clock two minutes soon."

"Serve the supper at once," said Philip.

When the dishes had been brought in and the man dismissed, Philip, taking his place at the table, drew from his button-hole a flower which he had picked out of his water-bowl at lunch, and, first putting it to his lips, he tossed it on to the empty place before the chair which had been drawn up opposite. Then he sat down to eat.

He ate little; and, do what he would, he could not keep his mind from wandering. He thought of his aunt, and how hurt she had been the previous night; of his uncle, and how he had snubbed and then slavered over him; of the Governor, and how strange the interest he had shown in him; and finally, he thought of Pete, and how lately he was dead, and how soon forgotten.

In the midst of these memories, all sad and some bitter, suddenly he remembered again that he was supping with Kate. Then he struggled to be bright and even a little gay. He knew that she would be taking her supper at Sulby at that moment, thinking of him and making believe that he was with her. So he tried to think that she was with him, sitting in the chair opposite, looking across the table between the white cloth and the blue lamp-shade, out of her beaming eyes, with her rings of dark hair dancing on her forehead, and her ripe mouth twitching merrily. Then the air of the room seemed to be filled with a sweet presence. He could have fancied there was a perfume of lace and dainty things. "Sweetheart!" He laughed—he hardly knew if it was himself that had spoken. It was dear, delicious fooling.

But his eyes fell on the chest wherein he had buried the letters and the medallion, and his mind wandered again. He thought of his father, of his grandfather, of his lost inheritance, and how nearly he had reclaimed the better part of it, and then once more of Pete, crying aloud at last in the coil of his trouble, "Oh, if Pete had only lived!"

His voice startled and his words horrified him. To wipe out both in the first moment of recovered consciousness, he filled his glass to the brim, and lifted it up, rising at the same time, looking across the table, and saying in a soft whisper, "Your health, darling, your health!"

The bell rang from the street door, and he stood listening with the wine-glass in his hand. When he knew anything more, a voice at his elbow was saying out of a palpitating gloom, "The gentleman can't come, seemingly; he has sent a telegram."

It was Jem-y-Lord holding a telegram in his hand.

Philip tore open the envelope and read—

"Coming home by Ramsey boat to-morrow well and hearty tell Kirry Peat."



IV.

Somewhere in the dead and vacant dawn Philip went to bed, worn out by a night-long perambulation of the dark streets. He slept a heavy sleep of four deep hours, with oppressive dreams of common things swelling to enormous size about him.

When Jem-y-Lord took the tea to his master's bedroom in the morning, the tray was almost banged out of his hands by the clashing back of the door, after he had pushed it open with his knee. The window was half up, and a cold sea-breeze was blowing into the room; yet the grate and hearth showed that a fire had been kindled in the night, and his master was still sleeping.

Jem set down his tray, lifted a decanter that stood on the table, held it to the light, snorted like an old horse, nodded to himself knowingly, and closed the window.

Philip awoke with the noise, and looked around in a bewildered way. He was feeling vaguely that something had happened, when the man said—

"The horse will be round soon, sir."

"What horse?" said Philip.

"The horse you ride, sir," said Jem, and, with an indulgent smile, he added, "the one I ordered from Shimmen's when I posted the letter."

"What letter?"

"The letter you gave me to post before I went to bed."

All was jumbled and confused in Philip's mind. He was obliged to make an effort to remember. Just then the newsboys went shouting down the street beyond the churchyard: "Special edition—Death of the Deemster."

Then everything came back. He had written to Kate, asking her to meet him at Port Mooar at two o'clock that day. It was then, and in that lonesome place, that he had decided to break the news to her. He must tell all; he had determined upon his course.

Without appetite he ate his breakfast. As he did so he heard voices from a stable-yard in the street. He lifted his head and looked out mechanically. A four-wheeled dogcart was coming down the archway behind a mettlesome young horse with silver-mounted harness. The man driving it was a gorgeous person in a light Melton overcoat. One of his spatted feet was on the break, and he had a big cigar between his teeth. It was Ross Christian.

The last time Philip had seen the man he had fought him for the honour of Kate. It was like whips and scorpions to think of that now. Ashamed, abased, degraded in his own eyes, he turned away his head.



V.

In the middle of the night following the Melliah, Kate, turning in bed, kissed her hand because it had held the hand of Philip. When she awoke in the morning she felt a great happiness. Opening her eyes and half raising herself in bed, she looked around. There were the pink curtains hanging like a tent above her, there were the scraas of the thatched roof, with the cracking whitewash snipping down on the counterpane, there were the press and the wash-hand table, the sheep-skin on the floor, and the sun coming through the orchard window. But everything was transfigured, everything beautiful, everything mysterious. She was like one who had gone to sleep on the sea, with only the unattainable horizon round about, and awakened in harbour in a strange land that was warm and lovely and full of sunshine. She closed her eyes again, so that nothing might disturb the contemplation of the mystery. She folded her round arms as a pillow behind her head, her limbs dropped back of their own weight, and her mouth broke into a happy smile. Oh, miracle of miracles! The whole world was changed.

She heard the clatter of pattens in the room below; it was Nancy churning in the dairy. She heard shouts from beyond the orchard—it was her father stacking in the haggard; she heard her mother talking in the bar, and the mill-wheel swishing in the pond. It seemed almost wonderful that the machinery of ordinary life could be working away the same as ever.

Could she be the same herself? She reached over for a hand-glass to look at her face. As she took it off the table, it slipped from the tips of her fingers, and, falling face downwards, it broke. She had a momentary pang at that accident as at a bad omen, but just then Nancy came up with a letter. It was the letter which Philip had written at Ballure. When she was alone again she read it. Then she put it in her bosom. It seemed to be haunted by the odour of the gorse, the odour of the glen, of the tholthan, of Philip, and of all delights.

A faint ghost of shame came to frighten her. Had she sinned against her sex? Was it disgraceful that she had wooed and not waited to be won? With all his love of her, would Philip be ashamed of her also? Her face grew hot. She knew that she was blushing, and she covered up her head as if her lover were there to see. Such fears did not last long. Her joy was too bold to be afraid of tangible things. So overwhelming was her happiness that her only fear was lest she might awake at some moment and find that she was asleep now, and everything had been a dream.

That was Friday, and towards noon word came from Kirk Michael that the Deemster had died on the afternoon of the day before.

"Then they ought to put Philip Christian in his place," she said promptly; "I'm sure no one deserves it better."

They had been talking in low tones in the kitchen with their backs to her, but faced about with looks of astonishment.

"Sakes alive, Kirry," cried Nancy, "is it yourself it was? What were you saying a week ago?"

"Well, do you expect a girl to be saying the one thing always?" laughed Kate.

"Aw, no," said Caesar. "A woman's opinions isn't usually as stiff as the tail of a fighting Tom cat. They're more coming and going, of a rule."

Next day, Saturday, she received Philip's second letter, the letter written at Douglas after the supper and the arrival of Pete's telegram. It was written crosswise, in a hasty hand, on a half-sheet of note-paper, and was like a postscript, without signature or superscription:—.

"Most urgent. Must see you immediately. Meet me at Port Mooar at two o'clock to-morrow. We can talk there without interruption. Be brave, my dear. There are serious matters to discuss and arrange."

The message was curt, and even cold, but it brought her no disquiet. Marriage! That was the only vision it conjured up. The death of the Deemster had hastened things—that was the meaning of the urgency. Port Mooar was near to Ballure—that was why she had to go so far. They would have to face gossip, perhaps backbiting, perhaps even abuse—that was the reason she had to be brave. Why and how the Deemster's death should affect her marriage with Philip was a matter she did not puzzle out. She had vague memories of girls marrying in delightful haste and sailing away with their husbands, and being gone before you had time to think they were to go. But this new fact of her life was only a part of the great mystery, and was not to be explained by everyday ideas and occurrences.

Kate ran up to dress, and came down like a bud bursting into flower. She had dressed more carefully than ever. Philip had great expectations; he must not be disappointed. Making the excuse of shopping, she was setting off towards Ramsey, when her father shouted from the stable that he was for driving the same way. The mare was harnessed to the gig, and they got up together.

Caesar had made inquiries and calculations. He had learned that the Johannesburg, from Cape Town, arrived in Liverpool the day before; and he concluded that Pete's effects would come by the Peveril, the weekly steamer to Ramsay, on Saturday morning, The Peveril left Liverpool at eight; she would be due at three. Caesar meant to be on the quay at two.

"It's my duty as a parent, Kate," said he. "What more natural but there's something for yourself? It's my duty as a pastor, too, for there's Manx ones going that's in danger of the devil of covetousness, and it's doing the Lord's work to put them out of the reach of temptation. You may exhort with them till you're black in the face, but it's throwing good money in the mud. Just chuck! No ring at all; no way responsive!"

Kate was silent, and Caesar added familiarly, "Of course, it's my right too, for when a man's birth is that way, there's no heirship by blood, and possession is nine points of the law. That's so, Kate. You needn't be looking so hard. It's truth enough, girl. I've had advocate's opinion."

Kate had looked, but had not listened. The matter of her father's talk was too trivial, it's interest was too remote. As they drove, she kept glancing seaward and asking what time it was.

"Aw, time enough yet, woman," said Caesar. "No need to be unaisy at all. She'll not be round the Head for an hour anyway. Will you come along with me to the quay, then? No? Well, better not, maybe."

At the door of a draper's she got down from the gig, and told her father not to wait for her on going home. Caesar moistened his forefinger and held it in the air a moment.

"Then don't be late," said he, "there's weather coming."

A few minutes afterwards she was walking rapidly up Ballure. Passing Ballure House, she found herself treading softly. It was like holy ground. She did not look across; she gave no sign; there was only a tremor of the eyelids, a quiver of the mouth, and a tightening of the hand that held her purse, as, with head down, she passed on. Going by the water-trough, she saw the bullet-head of Black Tom looking seaward over the hedge through a telescope encased in torn and faded cloth. Though the man was repugnant to her, she saluted him cheerfully.

"Fine day, Mr. Quilliam."

"It was doing a fine day, ma'am, but the bees is coming home," said Tom.

He glowered at her as at a scout of the enemy, but she did not mind that. She was very happy. The sun was still shining. On reaching the top of the brow, she began to skip and run where the road descends by Folieu. Thus, with a light heart and a light step, thinking ill of no one, in love with all the world, she went hurrying to her doom.

The sea below lay very calm and blue. Nothing was to be seen on the water but a line of black smoke from the funnel of a steamship which had not yet risen above the horizon.



VI.

Philip put up his horse at the Hibernian, a mile farther on the high-road, and the tongue of the landlady, Mistress Looney went like a mill-race while he ate his dinner. She had known three generations of his family, and was full of stories of his grandfather, of his father, and of himself in his childhood. Full of facetiae, too, about his looks, which were "rasonable promising," and about the girls of Douglas, who were "neither good nor middling." She was also full of sage counsel, advising marriage with a warm girl having "nice things at her—nice lands and pigs and things"—as a ready way to square the "bobbery" of thirty years ago at Ballawhaine.

Philip left his plate half full, and rose from the table to go down to Port Mooar.

"But, boy veen, you've destroyed nothing,", cried the landlady. And then coaxingly, as if he had been a child, "You'll be ateing bits for me, now, come, come! No more at all? Aw, it's failing you are, Mr. Philip! Going for a walk is it? Take your topcoat then, for the clover is closing."

He took the road that Pete had haunted as a boy on returning home from school in the days when Kate lived at Cornaa, going through the network of paths by the mill, and over the brow by Ballajora. The new miller was pulling down the thatched cottage in which Kate had been born to put up a slate house. They had built a porch for shelter to the chapel, and carved the figure of a slaughtered lamb on a stone in the gable. Another lamb—a living lamb—was being killed by the butcher of Ballajora as Philip went by the shambles. The helpless creature, with its inverted head swung downwards from the block, looked at him with its piteous eyes, and gave forth that distressful cry which is the last wild appeal of the stricken animal when it sees death near, and has ceased to fight for life.

The air was quiet, and the sea was calm, but across the Channel a leaden sky seemed to hover over the English mountains, though they were still light and apparently in sunshine. As Philip reached Port Mooar, a cart was coming out of it with a load of sea-wrack for the land, and a lobster-fisher on the beach was shipping his gear for sea.

"Quiet day," said Philip in passing.

"I'm not much liking the look of it, though," said the fisherman. "Mortal thick surf coming up for the wind that's in." But he slipped his boat, pulled up sail, and rode away.

Philip looked at his watch and then walked down the beach. Coming to a cave, he entered it. The sea-wrack was banked up in the darkness behind, and between two stones at the mouth there were the remains of a recent fire. Suddenly he remembered the cave. It was the cave of the Carasdhoo men. He eould hear the voice of Pete in its rumbling depths; he could hear and see himself. "Shall we save the women, Pete?—we always do." "Aw, yes, the women—and the boys." The tenderness of that memory was too much for Philip. He came out of the cave, and walked back over the shore.

"She will come by the church," he thought, and he climbed the cliffs to look out. A line of fir-trees grew there, a comb of little misshapen ghoul-like things, stunted by the winds that swept over the seas in winter. In a fork of one of these a bird's nest of last year was still hanging; but it was now empty, songless, joyless, and dead.

"She's here." he told himself, and he drew his breath noisily. A white figure had turned the road by the sundial, and was coming on with the step of a greyhound.

The black clouds above the English mountains were heeling down on the land. There was a storm on the other coast, though the sky over the island was still fine. The steamship had risen above the horizon, and was heading towards the bay.



VII.

She met him on the hill slope with a cry of joy, and kissed him. It came into his mind to draw away, but he could not, and he kissed her back. Then she linked her arm in his, and they turned down the beach.

"I'm glad you've come," he began.

"Did you ever dream I wouldn't?" she said. Her face was a smile, her voice was an eager whisper.

"I have something to say to you, Kate—it is something serious."

"Is it so?" she said. "So very serious?"

She was laughing and blushing together. Didn't she know what he was going to say? Didn't she guess what this serious something must be? To prolong the delicious suspense before hearing it, she pretended to be absorbed in the things about her. She looked aside at the sea, and up at the banks, and down at the little dubbs of salt water as she skipped across them, crying out at sight of the sea-holly, the anemone, and the sea-mouse shining like fire, but still holding to Philip's arm and bounding and throbbing on it.

"You must be quiet, dear, and listen," he said.

"Oh, I'll be good—so very good," she said. "But look! only look at the white horses out yonder—far out beyond the steamer. Davy's putting on the coppers for the parson, eh?"

She caught the grave expression of Philip's face, and drew herself up with pretended severity, saying, "Be quiet, Katey. Behave yourself. Philip wants to talk to you—seriously—very seriously."

Then, leaning forward with head aside to look up into his face, she said, "Well, sir, why don't you begin? Perhaps you think I'll cry out. I won't—I promise you I won't."

But she grew uneasy at the settled gravity of his face, and the joy gradually died off her own. When Philip spoke, his voice was like a cracked echo of itself.

"You remember what you said, Kate, when I brought you that last letter from Kimberley—that if next morning you found it was a mistake———"

"Is it a mistake?" she asked.

"Becalm, Kate."

"I am quite calm, dear. I remember I said it would kill me. But I was very foolish. I should not say so now. Is Pete alive?"

She spoke without a tremor, and he answered in a husky whisper, "Yes."

Then, in a breaking voice, he said, "We were very foolish Kate—jumping so hastily to a conclusion was very foolish-it was worse than foolish, it was wicked. I half doubted the letter at the time, but, God forgive me, I wanted to believe it, and so——"

"I am glad Pete is living," she said quietly.

He was aghast at her calmness. The irregular lines in his face showed the disordered state of his soul, but she walked by his side without the quiver of an eyelid, or a tinge of colour more than usual. Had she understood?

"Look!" he said, and he drew Pete's telegram from his pocket and gave it to her.

She opened it easily, and he watched her while she read it, prepared for a cry, and ready to put his arms about her if she fell. But there was not a movement save the motion of her fingers, not a sound except the crinking of the thin paper. He turned his head away. The sun was shining; there was a steely light on the firs, and here and there a white breaker was rising like a sea-bird out of the blue surface of the sea.

"Well?" she said.

"Kate, you astonish me," said Philip. "This comes on us like a thundercloud, and you seem not to realise it."

She put her arms about his neck, and the paper rustled on his shoulder. "My darling," she said, "do you love me still?"

"You know I love you, but——"

"Then there is no thundercloud in heaven for me now," she said.

The simple grandeur of the girl's love shamed him. Its trust, its confidence, its indifference to all the evil chance of life if only he loved her still, this had been beyond him. But he disengaged her arms and said, "We must not live in a fool's paradise, Kate. You promised yourself to Pete——"

"But, Philip," she said, "that was when I was a child. It was only a half promise then, and I didn't know what I was doing. I didn't know what love was. All that came later, dearest, much later—you know when."

"To Pete it is the same thing, Kate," said Philip. "He is coming home to claim you——"

She stopped him by getting in front of him and saying, with face down, smoothing his sleeve as she spoke, "You are a man, Philip, and you cannot understand. How can you, and how can I tell you? When a girl is not a woman, but only a child, she is a different person. She can't love anybody then—not really—not to say love, and the promises she makes can't count. It was not I that promised myself to Pete—if I did promise. It was my little sister—the little sister that was me long, long ago, but is now gone—put to sleep inside me somewhere. Is that very foolish, darling?"

"But think of Pete," said Philip; "think of him going away for love of you, living five years abroad, toiling, slaving, saving, encountering privations, perhaps perils, and all for you, all for love of you. Then think of him coming home with his heart full of you, buoyed up with the hope of you, thirsting, starving, and yearning for you, and finding you lost to him, dead to him, worse than dead—it will kill him, Kate."

She was unmoved by the picture. "I am very sorry, but I do not love him," she said quietly. "I am sorry—what else can a girl be when she does not love a young man?"

"He left me to take care of you, too, and you see—you see by the telegram—he is coming home with faith in my loyalty. How can I tell him that I have broken my trust? How can I meet him and explain——"

"I know, Philip. Say we heard he was dead and——"

"No, it would be too wretched. It's only three weeks since the letter came—and it would not be true, Kate—it would revolt me."

She lifted her eyes in a fond look of shame-faced love, and said again, "I know, then—lay the blame on me, Philip. What do I care? Say it was all my fault, and I made you love me. I shan't care for anybody's talk. And it's true, isn't it? Partly true, eh?"

"If I talked to Pete of temptation I should despise myself," said Philip; and then she threw her head up and said proudly—

"Very well, tell the truth itself—the simple truth, Philip. Say we tried to be faithful and loyal, and all that, and could not, because we loved each other, and there was no help for it."

"If I tell him the truth, I shall die of shame," said Philip. "Oh, there is no way out of this miserable tangle. Whether I cover myself with deceit, or strip myself of evasion, I shall stain my soul for ever. I shall become a base man, and year by year sink lower and lower in the mire of lies and deceit."

She listened with her eyes fixed on his quivering face, and her eyelids fluttered, and her fond looks began to be afraid.

"Say that we married," he continued; "we should never forget that you had broken your promise and I my trust. That memory would haunt us as long as we lived. We should never know one moment's happiness or one moment's peace. Pete would be a broken-hearted man, perhaps a wreck, perhaps—who knows?—dead of his own hand. He would be the ghost between us always."

"And do you think I should be afraid of that?" she said. "Indeed, no. If you were with me, Philip, and loved me still, I should not care for all the spirits of heaven itself."

Her face was as pale as death now, but her great eyes were shining.

"Our love would fail us, Kate," said Philip. "The sense of our guilt would kill it. How could we go on loving each other with a thing like that about us all day and all night—sitting at our table—listening to our talk—standing by our bed? Oh, merciful God!"

The terror of his vision mastered him, and he covered his face with both hands. She drew them down again and held them in a tight lock in her fingers. But the stony light of his eyes was more fearful to look upon, and she said in a troubled voice, "Do you mean, Philip, that we—could—not marry—now?"

He did not answer, and she repeated the question, looking up into his face like a criminal waiting for his sentence—her head bent forward and her mouth open.

"We cannot," he muttered. "God help us, we dare not," he said; and then he tried to show her again how their marriage was impossible, now that Pete had come, without treason and shame and misery. But his words frayed off into silence. He caught the look of her eyes, and it was like the piteous look of the lamb under the hands of the butcher.

"Is that what you came to tell me?" she asked.

His reply died in his throat. She divined rather than heard it.

Her doom had fallen on her, but she did not cry out. She did not yet realise in all its fulness what had happened. It was like a bullet-wound in battle; first a sense of air, almost of relief, then a pang, and then overwhelming agony.

They had been walking again, but she slid in front of him as she had done before. Her arms crept up his breast with a caressing touch, and linked themselves behind his neck.

"This is only a jest, dearest," she said, "some test of my love, perhaps. You wished to make sure of me—quite, quite sure—now that Pete is alive and coming home. But, you see, I want only one to love me, only one, dear. Come, now, confess. Don't be afraid to say you have been playing with me. I shan't be angry with you. Come, speak to me."

He could not utter a word, and she let her arms fall from his neck; and they walked on side by side, both staring out to sea. The English mountains were black by this time. A tempest was raging on the other shore, though the air on this side was as soft as human breath. .

Presently she stopped, her feet scraped the gravel, and she exclaimed in a husky tone, "I know what it is. It is not Pete. I am in your way. That's it. You can't get on with me about you. I am not fit for you. The distance between us is too great."

He struggled to deny it, but he could not. It was part of the truth. He knew too well how near to being the whole truth it was. Pete had come at the last moment to cover up his conscience, but Kate was stripping it naked and showing him the skeleton.

"It's all very well for you," she cried, "but where am I? Why didn't you leave me alone? Why did you encourage me? Yes, indeed, encourage me! Didn't you say, though a woman couldn't raise herself in life, a man could lift her up if he only loved her? And didn't you tell me there was neither below nor above where there was true liking, and that if a woman belonged to some one, and some one belonged to her, it was God's sign that they were equal, and everything else was nothing—pride was nothing and position was nothing and the whole world was nothing? But now I know different. The world is between us. It always has been between us, and you can never belong to me. You will go on and rise up, and I will be left behind."

Then she broke into frightful laughter. "Oh, I have been a fool! How I dreamt of being happy! I knew I was only a poor ignorant thing, but I saw myself lifted up by the one I loved. And now I am to be left alone. Oh, it is awful! Why did you deceive me? Yes, deceive me! Isn't that deceiving me? You deceived me when you led me to think that you loved me more than all the world. You don't I It is the world itself you love, and Pete is only your excuse."

As she spoke she clutched at his arms, his hands, his breast, and at her own throat, as if something was strangling her. He did not answer her reproaches, for he knew well what they were. They were the bitter cry of her great love, her great misery, and her great jealousy of the world—the merciless and mysterious power that was luring him away. After awhile his silence touched her, and she came up to him, full of remorse, and said, "No, no, Philip, you have nothing to reproach yourself with. You did not deceive me at all. I deceived myself. It was my own fault. I led you on—I know that. And yet I've been saying these cruel things. You'll forgive me, though, will you not? A girl can't help it sometimes, Philip. Are you crying? You are not crying, are you? Kiss me, Philip, and forgive me. You can do that, can't you?"

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