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HAT birds always sit facing the And in all these vicissitudes, I had seen
wind may be due to a dislike they that the bravery of which her friends have of ruffled plumage.
made so much was not bravery at all, but Wilmot Herraday was in this respect a mental facing the wind. The poverty very much like a bird. To her-she was was bad enough to make her curl closely of Irish ancestry, hence her odd name- within her wings (to carry out the simile), anything was better than that the smooth but what would have been, to her, a real feathers of her mind should be disturbed. ruffling of her plumage was the pity and Hence her mental attitude which had al- indignation of her friends, and this pity ways, in its apparent inconsistency to her she had with much skill avoided by smilpersonality, piqued my interest.
ing into the very teeth of the gale. She it In a very beautiful woman, who, I was who put down the carriage, who disknew, had throughout her girlhood been missed, in spirited and rapid succession, very much spoiled, her instant confront- the butler, her own maid, and Herraday's ing of any difficult issue seemed somehow valet. out of drawing. To me, as an ancient She it was who, one rainy October day, student of womankind, it was a source of inspected the little house near Buckingnever-failing surprise, and I had many ham Gate, and then, going on a 'bus to opportunities of observing the phenome- Waterloo Place, told the agents to prenon; for Herraday's affairs, apparently pare the lease. And once settled in her brilliant when he married, began to go new sphere, she it was whose unspoken, wrong shortly afterward, and their fourth but none the less spirited, declaration that wedding anniversary was spent by him in the house suited her in some ways even the Bankruptcy Court. Long before this, better than the other, actually convinced of course, their horses had undergone the many people that her come-down in life equine eclipse known as “putting down," was to her more or less of a lark. When the comfortable old house in Manchester her baby_died, people shook their humane Square left for a much smaller one near heads. Evidently her loss was not an irBuckingham Gate, and later Mrs. Herra- reparable one; poor Herraday took it day's beauty for some time illumined noth- much more hardly than she. ing more imposing than a fat off Victoria Probably, of all those that knew her Street.
(and she would hardly, in these early
days, have called me à friend), I was the
one, lasting only about two years. Duronly one to guess that all she had of ten- ing that time they went for a week-end to derness and softness she had given to the the castle or hall of one of the most youthpoor little girl who was so soon taken ful dukes, and Herraday never forgot from her. She would not, I guessed, be having his shooting-boots filled with turtlepitied; far preferable to her was the soup by his host and others of the arisstigma of heartlessness.
tocracy. She was less impressed. Blows of different kinds rained down The brilliant period came to an unon her henceforth in quick succession, and timely end through the suicide of Mrs. they were all faced in her own way. I, Herraday's only brother, and then it was looking on, and gradually coming into the
my turn, little place in her life that neither she nor Herraday's affairs at the time seemed I had made the slightest effort to create, rather better, and in the summer we all as gradually learned to understand the went over to a small place on the French peculiar quality of her courage. We coast and swam and loafed together very never mentioned it, she and I, until the comfortably, while I continued my studies episode of the Clandon letters, which hap- of Mrs. Herraday's character. pened many years later, and which I have It was while we were thus holidaying set out to relate.
that I received my promotion to the use But before this episode occurred many of her pretty Christian name. other things, none of them perhaps worthy "I can't very well call you Bill," she of individual notice, yet each helping to said, when in return I offered her the use construct the circumstances in which it, of my unromantic baptismal gift, “but I the episode, found us all. To name these will call you March, as Jim does." small happenings, her beauty, even in her My name is Marchington, so March is poverty, had proved too potent to allow in my case a kind of nickname. her living in obscurity, and after a brief When the small house had in its turn period of quiet, she again began going to be given up, it was to me she turned into the world, wearing, she told me, ab- to advise about the necessary fat, and surdly old frocks, and looking in them, I it was I who with her explored what told her, absurdly lovely. She was never seemed miles of these home-substitutes
, vain, and I really believe cared as little and finally found one that comparatively for her social furore as any woman could pleased her. possibly have done. Her ambition lay in Poor Herraday was now too depressed quite another direction.
to do more than put the reins entirely in Herraday was fairly well born, but not her hands and allow her to drive whitherat all what he called a "swell.”
soe'er she would. The Alat was horrible, of the word, in a serious way, as if it were of course, but it had a roof, and that, she a degree of rank, explains him well said, laughing, was something. Herraday enough. He was in the city, something after a bit began to pick up again, but he connected with foreign commerce, but would not make even a pretense of being more or less a banking affair, and he knew glad to see people, and that being the case, many men of his own standing, as well, it follows, of course, that people soon beof course, as many slightly above his own
gan to forget him. position.
It was a year, too, of several new beauWhen Englishmen are forced to cease ties, so that after a few efforts on the part knowing those slightly above their own of her friends Wilmot was allowed to position, society in these isles will have sink quietly into that limbo whither the ceased to be.
unsuccessful inevitably drift. The Powyses But as it happened, one of his sisters were the first to accept her wish for neg. had married a baronet of great wealth and lect. ancient name, and through these Powyses, And still she turned her face to the Mrs. Herraday was known and admired wind. by many people. During the middle period
I went to Australia the following winof her social brilliance (of which Herra
ter, and one thing out there leading to day was rather pleasingly proud) I saw another, I stayed on and on, drifting to little of them. But the period was a short India, and thence to Japan, and finally
reached London after more than two just two years before his death, so he was years' absence.
fifty-two. Every one knows his face, if It was in November, and the first thing only from his pictures, but to me, the litI did after a bath and a meal, was to tele- tle bronze bust by Aileen Duncan is far phone Wilmot Herraday to ask if I might more like him than any of his famous por. come to see her.
traits. An hour later I stood in her drawing- I studied his thin face carefully during room,- now a very spacious and delight the short half-hour I sat in reverential siful one, in Queen Anne's Gate.
lence, watching him drink his tea—he I had, of course, kept in touch with her took it, gourmets to the contrary, in deduring my absence, and I knew the main spite, with both sugar and milk. He refacts bearing on her life. She herself had fused the cream I offered him, and then written to me, over a year before, of Her- addressed his only remark to me. raday's final smash and defalcation. The "Nothing could improve Mrs. Herrapapers were more explicit, of course, and day's tea,” he said, with the little smile I had been very indignant at the misery that revealed his lower teeth. into which his cowardice had plunged his He and Wilmot were, I saw, on intibrave wife. But I had not dared episto- mate terms, so I shortly took my leave. larily, as I now did not verbally, to com- As I left the room I distinctly heard him miserate with her.
say: While I was in India, I had heard indi- "Well, I have the new chapters for rectly of his death, and my relief at his
you" having been removed by an accident at- I went off, in my surprise, without my tributable apparently only to the hand of umbrella, and had to come back for it, as God, had been very decidedly mixed with rain had set in. satisfaction, as 'to his definite departure Wilmot Herraday as Godfrey Clanfrom a world where he had been such a don's Egeria! The idea was 'almost too failure.
much for my mental digestion. It was Now, as Wilmot and I shook hands, I too amazing. Much as I liked her, much said simply, “I am so sorry for it all,” as I had always enjoyed her mind, it and she answered with a little sigh of re- seemed to me almost ridiculous. I had lief, “I know you are. Now- let me tell long known her ambition, “to know you about-this,” waving her hand at her worth-while people,” but it had been amnew splendors.
bition like that of a boy at the Zoo to It was years before we mentioned Jim know the lion behind the bars. Strong Herraday again, beyond an occasional ref- and high had been the bars, hitherto beerence, in relation to something long past, tween even the smaller kings of the desert to poor old Jim.
and Jim Herraday's wife- and yet, beI had no wish to ruffle her plumage. hold, here was the greatest roarer of them
But she was, I found, more talkative all, eating tea-cake from her hand! It than of old, and gave me many details as was amazing. to the death of an almost unknown uncle I went to my club and going into the of Jim's who, a short time before, had library got down several of his novels and left his very comforting fortune to her, looked into them. I suppose that no one “because she had been brave.” There was now since his death, disputes his claim a little place in Berkshire, I learned, as (made for, not by him— for the man never well as this house, and there was, besides, made any claim whatsoever) to being the over two thousand a year, so that in a greatest English novelist of his century. small way she was rich.
I had, of course, read all the books, and It was delightful hearing, and I was as I dipped into their pages that rainy eveexpressing my joy when the servant-maid ning in November, some of the phrases ushered in, in a way that showed me that brought back to me with a poignancy that the visitor was not a rare one, "Mr. Clan- was nearly painful, the delight I had felt don, Madame."
years ago when just making their acquainI had never seen him before, and I tance. never saw him again, but I naturally re- “Beverley” is perhaps still my favorite member him very well indeed. It was because of the exquisite loveliness of its
I looked up.
heroine, Grace Powell, but there is in “But-did he take a great fancy to you, “The Valletorts” a splendor of style or was it-- your literary tastes that drew which, never degenerating into the ornate, you together?” I asked, not without secret has a peculiar charm for me, and then- malice. “Paola," -- dear, naughty, sorry Paola, She gazed at me, innocent of underwith her gray parrot and her twinkling standing.
not literary at all, brown feet!
March,—as you ought to know. But I And the man who wrote these things, had read his books, and~" the man who had been any time the last "Told him which was your favorite, fifteen years England's greatest literary and why ?" glory, had brought his new chapters to be At this she glanced suspiciously at me, read by-Wilmot Herraday !
“You are being nasty,” she said, serenely. "Hello, Marchington, what are you “No, I had no such cheek. 1- will tell doing? Trying to read six-seven--books you the truth,” she added, simply; "he at once?"
just seemed to like me, and, of course, It was Kearney Blake, I did my very best to please him. He the stained-glass man.
is very fond of sweet things with his tea, "I have just met Clandon," I an- and there is a French shop near Soho swered, amused by a little feeling of van- Square where one gets the loveliest puffy ity that sprang up in my heart as I spoke, cakes filled with a kind of custard flavored "so I was looking into his books again.” with lemon, He eats any amount of “Wonderful chap, Clandon.
them." see, what was it I heard about him the
It was guile, but too instinctive to be other day? Oh, yes, going to marry disapproved; as well disapprove of the somebody-who was it now? Oh, yes, I color of her hair. know, poor old Jim Herraday's widow." “Then little by little,” she went on,
He bustled out and I remained for some "he began talking of his work. He is not time nearly as still as if some one had married, you know,- he lives in rooms in had me skilfully stuffed for an ornament St. James's Place,-and he likes to talk. I to the library. Clandon going to marry think, as he does so his own characters Wilmot Herraday !
become more clear to him. And I-I No, I could not believe it.
never interrupt.” I believed it so little that the very next I went away flattering myself that I day I asked her. To my surprise she did held the key to the enigma. She gave him not answer at once but remained, after a the lemon cakes he loved and she let him little start, gazing at her folded hands. talk shop, and -- best of all, she never in
At last she said, softly, "No, March, terrupted, I made up my mind to see old friend, I am not going to marry Mr. something of him, if I could. I, too, Clandon."
could listen and refrain from interruption. She spoke in the gentlest way, yet I But it was only a month or so after this could not, somehow, say any more. Lit- that he caught his now historic chill at tle by little, however, as time went on, I Windsor, and, as every one knows, he learned more about her friendship with was, after his subsequent illness, never the great man.
She was naturally proud again quite well. of it, and I liked her way of expressing “He comes every week, every Thursher pride. She had met him at a tea or day to dinner, and stays till half-past something at the Grafton Gallery, and eleven,” Mrs. Herraday informed me; then, a few days later, fate had thrown
"but only on one condition: that no one them together as they both came out of else shall be let in." the Queen's Hall after an afternoon con- So I was done for. cert of some kind. It was pouring, a Only once, and that once a year later, devastating rain that had emptied the
on his return from Majorca, where he streets of cabs so that the two were obliged vainly believed himself to have recaptured to wait in the doorway for nearly ten his lost health, did he consent to meet minutes.
some of her friends at dinner. I was “Then only one came, so he drove me asked, and I believe her pleasure in my home-and that 's the beginning."
pleasure to have been keen, but the very morning of the great event I slipped over a me a mirth that I fear was not altogether dust-pan on my landing and broke a small kindly. bone in my instep, a mishap that laid me I saw her a few days after their return, up for weeks.
and I at once became aware that she had Mrs. Herraday came to see me, bring- now identified herself with the moribund ing a pot of hyacinths (a flower I de- lion to a quite remarkable degree. test), and told me about the dinner. Ap- “We have come to see Sir Wilfred parently it had been an occasion of great Pye”; “We are staying only a few days”; brilliancy.
“We have to see Clinton and Protheroe.” “He talked-oh, March, he talked all These were some of her phrases— Clinton the time," she declared, a spot of red in and Protheroe being, of course, Clandon's either cheek, “and every one listened as if publishers. But before they could get he had been-well, I don't know what!" away to the south of France, death came, “How does he look?"
as all the world knows, very quietly, and "Oh, well, very delicate. And I fear the partnership, so incomprehensible to he's not so well as he had hoped, for he me, was dissolved. has written to say he can't come to-night I was in Paris at the time, and drew my -it 's Thursday, you know. I am so information about the funeral, from the sorry you were n't there."
press. “What did you wear?” I queried, try- The fuss about whether or no he should ing not to smell the hyacinths, which really be buried in Westminster Abbey, where, produce a queer little pain in my nose. to my mind, such distinguished ashes cer
She laughed, raising her beautifully tainly should have been placed was, of clear black eyebrows. “How funny! course, cut short by the declaration of Well, I wore white. A new frock, very Miss Clandon, his only surviving relative, smart, and -violets that Mr. Clandon that by his own wish he was to be buried sent me."
at Breezing-under-Hill in Essex, where “Instead of my roses," I said, exag- he was born. gerating the slight peevishness I really So to Breezing-under-Hill he was carfelt.
ried and laid to rest. I am told, that on “Ah, well-but, March, he was there the strength of this fact, three new inns and you were n't! Besides,” she added, have been built, and have prospered in truthfully, “I was so proud of the vio- that remote village. lets."
I know that Mrs. Herraday went to As the spring the second after my re- the funeral with Miss Clandon, and that turn home-went the way of all lovely His Majesty's representative was Sir things, Clandon's condition gave more and Claude Witherspoon; that the Prime more cause for alarm. He took a house Minister went in person; that wreaths on the Norfolk coast and did not come to were sent from several hundred distintown till the following October.
guished people, including a very fine one Wilmot wrote me three times from from the French Academy. Hereford Head, where she was apparently I also read Swinburne's splendid swinginstalled indefinitely, and her letters were ing ode and Kipling's rough, spirited, neat very sad, though very important.
verses that appeared in the “Times," and It appeared that a sister of Clandon's thrilled to the marrow (in the way that was there, and a couple of hospital nurses. is a secret of Kipling's) every one who
"I am not allowed to be very useful,” read them. she said, “but he likes me to be there, and The nation really mourned her great I read to him and sometimes sing. He is man and her mourning was, whether it is very weak.”
so as a rule, or not, dignified and timely. Another time she told me, "He has let But to me, Wilmot Herraday was natume see many of his unpublished manu- rally of the greatest interest, and I was, scripts. Some of them are very wonder- on my return to town, extremely disapful, and should certainly be published." pointed to find that she had left England
This amused me. That she should be for an extended stay in Sicily with Miss the judge as to which of Godfrey Clan- Clandon. don's works deserved publication caused “Mrs. James Herraday,” one of the