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But it looks as though Mrs. Allison and Max- said George, smiling. «She seemed as conwell between them had somehow found a way vinced as ever.)) out.
«Who sent Mrs. Allison to that place? * How's the mother ? »
Barham, I suppose. He always sends his pa
I • You see, she has gone abroad, too-to tients there. They say he's in league with the Bad Wildheim. In fact, Lord Ancoats has hotel-keepers.) taken her.»
George stared. What was the matter with « That's the place for heart, is n't it?» her? What made her throw out these jerky said his mother, abruptly. «There 's a man sentences with this short, hurried breath. there that cures everybody.»
Suddenly Lady Tressady turned. « I believe so," said George. «May we « George!» come to business, mother? I have brought « Yes, mother. He stepped nearer to her. these papers for you to sign, and I must get She caught his sleeve. to the House in good time.»
«George,» -- there was something like a sob Lady Tressady seemed to take no notice. in her voice, — « you were quite right. I am She got up again restlessly, and walked to ill. There, don't talk about it. The doctors the window.
are all fools. And if you tell Letty anything How do you like my dress, George? Now about it, I'll never forgive you.» don't imagine anything absurd! Justine made George put his arm round her, but was not, it, and it was quite cheap.)
in truth, much disturbed. Lady Tressady's George could not help smiling-all the repertory, alas! had many rôles. He had more that he was conscious of relief. She known her play that of the invalid at least would not be asking him to admire her dress as effectively as any other. if there were fresh debts to confess to him. « You are just overdone with London and
« It makes you look wonderfully young,» the heat,» he said. «I saw it at once. You he said, turning a critical eye, first upon the ought to go away.” elegant gown of some soft, pinky stuff in She looked up in his face. which his mother had arrayed herself, then «« You don't believe it?» she said. upon the subtly rouged and powdered face Then she seemed to stagger. He saw a above it. You are a marvelous person, terrible drawn look in her face, and, putting mother. All the same, I think the heat must out all his strength, he held her and helped have been getting hold of you, for your eyes her to a sofa. are tired. Don't racket too much.)
« Mother!” he exclaimed, kneeling beside He spoke with his usual careless kindness, her, « what is the matter?» laying a hand upon her arm.
Voice and tone were those of another man, Lady Tressady drew herself away, and and Lady Tressady quailed under the change. turning her back upon him, looked out of She pointed to a small bag on a table near the window.
her. He opened it, and she took out a box • Have you seen any more of the Max- from which she swallowed something. Graduwells ? » she said over her shoulders.
ally breath and color returned, and she began George gave a slight involuntary start. to move restlessly. Then it occurred to him that his mother was « That was nothing,” she said, as though to making conversation in an odd way.
herself -- nothing--and it yielded at once. «Once or twice,” he said reluctantly, in Well, George, I knew you thought me a humreply. « They were at the Ardaghs' the other bug.» night, of course.)
Her eyes glanced at him with a kind of «Oh, you were there ? » Lady Tressady's miserable triumph. He looked down upon voice was sharp again. «Well, of course. her, still kneeling, horror-struck against his Letty went as your wife, and you ’re a mem- will. After a life of acting, was this the ber of Parliament. Lady Ardagh knows me truth-this terror which spoke in every quite well-but I don't count now; she used movement, and in some strange way had to be glad enough to ask me.”
seized upon and infected himself? " It was a great crush and very hot,» said He urgently asked her to be frank with George, not knowing what to say.
him; and with a sob she poured herself out. Lady Tressady frowned as she looked out It was the tragic, familiar story that every of the window.
household knows. Grave symptoms, suddenly « Well! And Lady Maxwell—is she as ab- observed, the hurried visit to a specialist, his surd as ever ? »
verdict and his warnings. « That depends upon one's point of view,) «Of course he said at first I ought to give tell you.
up everything and go abroad-to this very Lady Tressady made a face like a spoiled same place-Bad-what-do-you-call-it? But I child. told him straight out I could n't and would n't «I don't think she 'll come,” she said. «Of do anything of the sort. I am just eaten up course I know from the first she took an unwith engagements. And as to staying at home godly dislike to me. Though, if it had n't and lying up, that 's nonsense- I should die been for me-well, never mind. Yes, you of that in a fortnight. So I told him to give can ask her, George-do. I'll wait and see me something to take, and that was all I if she comes. she comes, perhaps I 'll stay could do. And in the end he quite came in. It would amuse me to hear what she has round, - they always do if you take your own been doing. I'll behave quite nicely-there!» line, -and said I had much better do what And, taking up her fan, Lady Tressady suited me, and take care. Besides, what do lightly tapped her son's hand with it, in her any of them know? They all confess they ’re most characteristic manner. just fumbling about. Now surgery, of course He rose, seeing from the clock that he - that 's different. Battye » (Battye was should only just have time to drive quickly Lady Tressady's ordinary medical adviser) back to Letty if he was to be at the House in «does n't believe all the other man said. I time for an appointment with a constituent knew he would n't. And as for making an in- which had been arranged for one o'clock. valid of me, he sees, of course, that it would « I will send Justine to you as I go out,» he kill me at once. There, my dear George; don't said, taking up his hat, « and I shall hear of make too much of it. I think I was a fool to you from Letty this evening.”
Lady Tressady said nothing. Her eyes, And Lady Tressady struggled to a sitting bright with some inner excitement, watched position, looking at her son with a certain him as he looked for his stick. Suddenly she hostility. The frown on her white face said, «George, kiss me!) showed that she was already angry with him Her tone was unsteady. Deeply touched for his emotion-this rare emotion, that she and bewildered, the young man approached had never yet been able to rouse in him. her, and, kneeling down again beside her,
He could only implore her to be guided by took her in his arms. He felt a quick, sobbing her doctor- to rest, to give up at least some breath pass through her; then she pushed him of the mill-round of her London life, if she lightly away, and, putting up the slim, pinkwould not go abroad. Lady Tressady listened nailed hand of which she was so proud, she to him with increasing obstinacy and excita- patted him on the cheek. bility.
« There-go along! I don't like that coat « I tell you I know best! » she said passion- of yours, you know. I told you so the other ately, at last. «Don't go on like this; it wor- day. If your figure were n't so good you ’d ries me. Now look here.) She turned upon positively look badly dressed in it. You him with emphasis. «Promise me not to tell should try another man.) Letty a word of this. Nobody shall knowshe least of all. I shall do just as usual. In TRESSADY hailed a hansom outside, and drove fact, I expect a very gay season. Three back to Brook street. On the way his eyes (drums) this afternoon, and a dinner-party saw little of the crowded streets. So far he
-it does n't look as though I were quite had had no personal experience of death. forgotten yet, though Letty does think me His father had died suddenly while he was at an old fogy.
Oxford, and he had lost no other near relaShe smiled at him with a ghastly mixture tive or friend. Strange! this grave, sudden of defiance and conceit. The old age in her sense that all was changed, that his careless, pinched face, fighting with the rouged cheeks half-contemptuous affection for his mother and the gaiety of her fanciful dress, was piti- could never again be what it had been-supful.
posing, indeed, her story was all true. But in « Promise,” she said. «Not a word-to the case of a character like Lady Tressady's her.»
there are for long recurrent, involuntary George promised, in much distress. While skepticisms on the part of the bystander. It he was speaking she had a slight return of seems impossible, unfitting, to grant to such pain, and was obliged to submit to lie down persons le beau rôle they claim. It outrages again.
a certain ideal instinct, even, to be asked to « At least,” he urged, « don't go out to-day. believe that they, too, can yield, in their Give yourself a rest. Shall I go back and ask measure, precisely the same tragic stuff as Letty to come round to tea? »
the hero or the saint.
Letty was at home, just about to share her Those, on the other hand, who were urging lunch with Harding Watton, who had dropped the House to a yet sterner vigilance in proin. Hearing her husband's voice, she came tecting the worker-even the grown man out to the stair-head to speak to him. But from his own helplessness and need, who beafter a minute or two George dashed down lieved that law spells freedom, and that the again to his study, that he might write a hur- experience of half a century was wholly on ried note to a middle-aged cousin of his mo- their side-these friends of a strong cause
ther's, asking her to go round to Warwick were also at their best, on their mettle. OwSquare early in the afternoon, and making ing to the wide-spread flow of a great reacexcuses for Letty, who was “very much tion, the fight had become a representative engaged.” For Letty had met his request contest between two liberties-a true battle with a smiling disdain. Why, she was simply of ideas. a crowded up » with engagements of all sorts Yet George, sitting below the gangway beand kinds!
side his leader, his eyes staring at the ceil« Mother is really unwell,» said George, ing and his hands in his pockets, listened to standing with his hands on his sides, looking it all in much languor and revolt. He himself down upon her. He was fuming with irrita- had made his speech on the third day of the tion and hurry, and had to put a force on debate. It had cost him endless labor, only himself to speak persuasively.
to seem to him in the end-by contrast with « My dear old boy!»-she rose on tiptoe the vast majority of speeches made in the and twisted his mustache for him— «don't course of the debate, even those by men we know all about your mother's ailments by clearly inferior to himself in mind and trainthis time? I suppose she wants to give me a ing-to be a hollow and hypocritical performscolding, or to hear about the Ardaghs, or to ance. What did he really think and believe? tell me all about the smart parties she has What did he really desire? He vowed to been to, or something of the sort. No, really; himself once more, as he had vowed at Ferth, it's quite impossible—this afternoon. I know that his mind was a chaos, without convicI must go and see her some time; of course I tions, either intellectual or moral; that he will.)
had begun what he was not able to finish; and She said this with the air of some one mak- that he was doomed to make a failure of his ing a great concession. It was, indeed, her parliamentary career, as he was already makfirst formal condonement of the offense of- ing a failure of coal-owning, and a failurefered her just before the Castle Luton visit. He curbed something bitter and springing
George attempted a little more argument that haunted his inmost mind. But his efand entreaty, but in vain. Letty was rather fort could not prevent his dwelling angrily puzzled by his urgency, but quite obdurate. for a minute on the thought of Letty laughAnd as he ran down the stairs he heard her ing with Harding Watton---laughing because laugh in the drawing-room, mingled with he had asked her a small kindness and she Harding Watton's. No doubt they were mak- had most unkindly refused it. ing merry over the « discipline » which Letty Yet she must help him with his poor mofound it necessary to apply to her mother-in- ther. How softened were all his thoughts law.
about that difficult and troublesome lady! As
it happened, he had a good deal of desultory In the House of Commons the afternoon was medical knowledge, for the problems and once more given up to the adjourned debate perils of the body had always attracted his on the second reading of the Maxwell bill. pessimist sense; yet it did not help him much The House was full, and showing itself to at this juncture. At one moment he said advantage. On the whole, the animation to himself, « Eighteen months-she will live and competence of the speeches reflected eighteen months »; and at another, « Battye the general rise in combative energy and the was probably right: Barham took an unneceswide kindling of social passions which the sarily gloomy view; she may quite well last bill had so far brought about both in and out as long as the rest of us.» of Parliament. Those who figured as the defenders of industries, harassed beyond bear- SUDDENLY he was startled by a movement ing by the Socialist meddlers, spoke with beside him. more fire, with more semblance, at any rate, « The honorable member has totally misof putting their hearts into it, than any men understood me, cried Fontenoy, springing of their kind had been able to attain since to his feet and looking eagerly toward the the « giant » days of the first factory debates. Speaker.
The member who was speaking on the gov- tainly, of which he had not had ample inforernment side smiled, put on his hat, and sat mation before. Under the fresh spur of the down. Fontenoy flung out a few stinging talk that occupied th: Maxwell circle he had sentences, was hotly cheered both by his own made one or two rounds through some dismal supporters and from a certain area of the regions in Whitechapel, Mile End, and HackLiberal benches, and sat down again trium- ney, where some of the worst of the home phant, having scored an excellent point. industries to which, at last, after long hesi
George turned round to his companion. tation on the part of successive governments,
«Good!” he said, with emphasis. « That Maxwell's bill was intended to put an end, rubbed it in!
crowded every house and yard. He saw some But when the man opposite was once more of it in the company of a lady rent-collector, on his legs, doing his best to undo the im- an old friend of the Maxwells, who had charge pression which had been made, George found of several tenement blocks where the trousers himself wondering whether, after all, the and vest trade was largely carried on; and he point had been so good, and why he had been welcomed the chance of one or two walks in so quick to praise. She would have said, of quest of law-breaking workshops with a young course, that it was a point scored against inspector who could not say enough in praise common sense, against humanity. He began of the bill. But if it had been only a question to fancy the play of her scornful eyes, the of fact, George would have felt, when the eloquence of her white hand moving and rounds were done, merely an added respect quivering as she spoke.
for Fontenoy, perhaps even for his own party How long was it-one hurried month only as a whole. Not a point raised by his guides -since he had walked with her along the but had been abundantly discussed and realriver at Castle Luton? While the crowded ized--on paper, at any rate-by Fontenoy and House about him was again listening with at- his friends. The young inspector, himself a tention to the speech on behalf of the govern- hot partizan, and knowing with whom he had ment from one of the senior London members to deal, would have liked to convict his comwhich had just brought the protesting Fonte- panion of sheer and simple ignorance; but, on noy to his legs; while his leader was fidgeting the contrary, Tressady was not to be caught and muttering beside him; while to his left napping. As far as the trade details and the crowd of members about the door was statistics of this gruesome slop-work of East constantly melting, constantly reassembling, London went, he knew all that could be Tressady's mind withdrew itself from its sur- shown him. roundings, saw nothing, heard nothing but Nevertheless, cool and impassive as his the scenes of a far-off London and a figure manner was throughout, the experience in the that moved among them.
main did mean the exchange of a personal for How often had he been with her since a paper and hearsay knowledge. When, inCastle Luton? Once or twice a week, cer- deed, had he or Fontenoy or any one else tainly, either at St. James's Square or in the ever denied that the life of the poor was an East End, in spite of Parliament and Fonte- odious and miserable struggle, a scandal to noy and his many engagements as Letty's gods and men? What then? Did they make husband. Strange phenomenon--that little the world and its iron conditions? And yet saion of hers in the far East! For it was this long succession of hot and smelling dens; practically a salon, though it existed for pur- this series of pale, stooping figures, toiling poses the Hôtel Rambouillet knew nothing of. hour after hour, at fever pace, in these stifling He found himself one of many there; and like back-yards, while the June sun shone outside, all salons, it had an inner circle. Charles reminding one of English meadows and the Naseby, Edward Watton, Lady Madeleine ripple of English grass; these panting, diPenley, the Levens--some or all of these sheveled women slaving beside their huswere generally to be found in Lady Maxwell's bands and brothers amid the rattle of the neighborhood, rendering homage or help in machines and the steam of the pressers' one way or another. It was touching to see irons, with the sick or the dying, perhaps, in that girl, Lady Madeleine, looking at the the bed beside them, and their starved childocker or the shirt-maker with her restless dren at their feet-sights of this sort, thus greenish eyes, as though she realized for the translated from the commonplace of reports first time what hideous bond it is-the one and newspapers into a poignant, unsavory true commonalty--that crushes the human truth, had at least this effect: they vastly family together.
quickened the personal melancholy of the Well, and what had he seen? Nothing, cer- spectator; they raised and drove home a num
ber of piercing questions which, probably, his own misfortune. Had he not rushed upon George Tressady would never have raised, his marriage with less care-relatively to the and would have lived happily without raising, weight of the human interest in such a matif it had not been for a woman and a woman's ter-than an animal shows when it mates? charm.
Letty's personal idiosyncrasies even-her For that woman's solutions remained as way of entering a room, her mean little dedoubtful to him as ever. He would go back vices for attracting social notice, the stubto that strange little house where she kept born extravagance of her dress and personal her strange court, meet her eager eyes, and habits, her manner to her servants, her sharp be roused at once to battle. How they had voice as she retailed some scrap of slanderargued! He knew that she had less hope ous gossip- her husband had by now ceased than ever of persuading him even to modify to be blind or deaf to any of them. Indeed, his view of the points at issue between the his senses in relation to many things she said government and his own group. She could not and did were far more irritable at this mohope for a moment that any act of his would ment-possibly far less just-than a stranbe likely to stand between Maxwell and de- ger's would have been. Often and often he feat. He had not talked of his adventures to would try to recall to himself the old sense Fontenoy-would rather, indeed, that Fonte- of charm, of piquancy. In vain. It was all noy knew nothing of them. But he and she gone; he could only miserably wonder at the knew that Fontenoy, so far, had little to fear past. Was it that he knew now what charm from them.
might mean, and what divinity may breathe And yet she had not turned from him. To around a woman? her personal mood, to her wifely affection even, he must appear more plainly than ever «I SAY, where are you off to?» as the callous and selfish citizen, ready and Tressady looked up with a start as Fonteglad to take his own ease while his brethren noy rose beside him. perished. He had been skeptical and sarcas- «Good opportunity for dinner, I think,» tic; he had declined to accept her evidence; said Fontenoy, with a motion of the head he had shown a persistent preference for the toward the man who had just caught the drier and more brutal estimate of things. Speaker's eye. « Are you coming? I should Yet she had never parted from him without like a word with you." gentleness, without a look in her beautiful George followed him into the lobby. As the eves that had often tormented his curiosity. swing-door closed behind him, they plunged What did it mean? Pity ? Or some unspoken into a whirlpool of talk and movement. All comment of a personal kind she could not the approaches to the House were full of folk. persuade her womanly reticence to put into Everybody was either giving news or getting words? Or, rather, had she some distant it; for the excitement of a coming crisis was inkling of the real truth-that he was be- in the air. This was Friday, and the division
. , ginning to hate his own convictions—to feel on the second reading was expected on the that to be right with Fontenoy was nothing, following Monday. but to be wrong with her would be delight? «What a crowd, and what a temperature! »
What absurdity! With a strong effort he said Fontenoy. «Come out upon the terrace pulled himself together, steadied his rushing a moment.» pulse. It was like some one waking at night They made their way into the air, and as in a nervous terror, and feeling the pressure they walked up and down Fontenoy talked in of some iron dilemma from which he cannot his hoarse, hurried voice of the latest aspect free himself-cold vacancy and want on the of affairs. The government would get their one side, calamity on the other.
second reading, of course; that had never For that cool power of judgment in his own been really doubtful, though Fontenoy was case which he had always possessed did not certain that the normal majority would be a fail him now. He saw everything nakedly and good deal reduced. But all the hopes of the coldly. His marriage was not three months heterogeneous coalition which had been slowly old, but no spectator could have discussed its forming throughout the spring hung upon the results more frankly than he was now pre- committee stage, and Fontenoy's mind was pared to discuss them with himself. It was now full of the closest calculations as to the monstrous, no doubt. He felt his whole posi- voting on particular amendments. For him tion to be as ugly as it was abnormal. Who the bill fell into three parts. The first part, could feel any sympathy with it or him? He which was mainly contined to small amendhimself had been throughout the architect of ments and extensions of former acts, would