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racy and are aware that all things which is an absurdity. change, you should take some account of I am spared describing, and you are the direction in which your civilization is spared reading about, the ancestry, the esgrowing. In this story you will discover tate, and the solid characteristics of Coloa dreadful example of what may happen nel and Mrs. Teddington Fyles, because if American institutions should grow in a you have read about them already in sevcertain direction in which at present they eral standard English novels. Or, at any are not growing. Just as in another story rate, you pretend to have read about them, I could give you a dreadful example of because you keep those books in expensive what may happen if they keep on in the bindings on your shelves. (The story is direction in which they really are grow- not interesting unless the reader is well ing.
bred enough to maintain this pretense.) The names and pedigrees of the persons The ancestral home was in Sussex ; there in this episode would grace any drawing- was a proper acreage, gate, lodge, keeper, room table, printed in the best of our pub- head gardener with unconscious humor, lications. For though not people of title, and a very beautiful distribution of everythey were of the same blood with people thing vegetable that flourishes in a damp of title whom they called by their Chris- climate where the sun is not vulgarly and tian names, and all that there was in Eng- nakedly in evidence half the days of the lish tradition, birth, and breeding, coupled year. Colonel Fyles had been educated at with sufficient wealth, was theirs; so that Eton, or, to be more accurate, he had they possessed everything worth having in passed through Eton and acquired the title this world except imagination, music, and "a public-school man,” which is a man your sense of the ridiculous. I take some who has been to a school that is closed to credit to myself for writing about them the public outside of those who have at a time when the pages of our most sound incomes. It is a title without which polite periodicals are filled with accounts the title of duke or prince is valueless. of people who probably black their own There is nothing you can say to an Engboots, dine at midday, and take twice of lishman so sure of putting him abjectly in
his place as to suggest, if it be true, that They were products of that finished civ- he is not a public school man. No man ilization which a century of undisputed who is not a public school man appears in national supremacy, of wealth, and of this story except to wear a livery and to do natural solidity has made, from one point things which are strictly menial. of view, the finest in the world. That And so, since you already have an intipoint of view is England's; and on the mate acquaintance with Colonel Fyles, whole I agree with it. I am forced to, who was of course retired on half-pay and because, seeing that the same supremacy who had a pink skin, iron-gray hair, and and wealth and a like blood-quality are was turned five and fifty, I move to his molding our own institutions, I should wife Alice, née Glaston, a family which otherwise despair of the future, which was quite everything it ought to be, and
which possessed the wealth without which sible, I am glad to say, for any woman refinement is only a pose. When I say to be more chaste than Alice Fyles was, wealth, I do not mean anything vulgar, even when there was nothing to be chaste like a million pounds; I mean sufficient to about. You had only to hear her play the pay for proper wines and annual subscrip- above accompaniments, preferably from tions and to maintain the parklike aspect near a door, to be convinced of that. of its acres without ostentation and with- Still further to differentiate Alice as out strain. You generally find an account well as Colonel Fyles, who was her second of Alice in about the third chapter of a husband, let me add that, within their two-volume novel, where she is apt to great circle, they belonged to the segment appear as a secondary character, being too which does not keep a house in town and authentic to fill the rôle of a heroine, does not keep hunters in the country, nor heroines being more like what people yet lead a social life of endless gaiety. In would wish them to be, or would them- other words, they could afford not to do selves wish to be, than like what people those things, which you, with ten times are.
their income, could not, unless your name For instance, Alice's beauty lacked exists. By which I mean if it exists in something which the British mind does Debrett, not in the sailing-list of the not readily distinguish with a name.
ne. Her Mayflower. You must see that no person features were fairly regular, her hair was of note had any reason to come over in the abundant and ash-blonde, and she had the Mayflower and leave his note behind him. long Norman face which keeps one from Colonel and Mrs. Fyles —“Mrs." is really being thought a nonconformist. But her more a distinction than “Lady” – would carriage was on the doubtful authority of have been in the circles where they moved Rossetti and Burne-Jones-a forward because it is rarer- lived the domestic lite leaning of the head, a compression of the of the early Victorian period, as shown in lungs, and rounded shoulders, all of which the best steel engravings of those times, brought her weight upon her heels. except that the children were replaced by Bluntly, she had no life in her toes, such more dogs. But the upholstery was the as goes with a woman of a lively and well- same: the drawing-room was hung in regulated self-consciousness.
maroon, with a salmon-colored Turkish must not assume from this anything carpet and two hundred and eighty-five against one of the old county families of objects of art and uselessness arranged in Sussex. Nor must you assume that you or such a manner that no person wanting in your daughter could arrive on your or her perfect drawing-room composure would toes in all the places where the Glastons be wise to attempt its navigation. I once went on their heels, even if you have a fell down half a light of stairs and quite million dollars. It would come to nearer out of the most solemn picture while ata million pounds, unless you possessed tempting to tow a lady from a first-floor some renown which had acquired a British drawing-room to a ground floor dininghall-mark. For England is the most room past two threatening ebony statues democratic country in the world; by which of Moorish chieftains. Such scenes are I mean that England has long proved only vulgar, especially if accompanied by what other democracies are still striving the least trace of American accent. Nothto prove, that all men are equal at birth, ing is more distressing on the part of a and at birth only.
new-comer than a display of anything like Alice could play the accompaniment to eagerness when there is food in the wind. ballads on the piano; she could do a Now, since this story is likely to begin water-color sketch of the paddock, includ- at any moment, let me explain that within ing birds, but not cattle; and she could their great circle there were differences of embroider with deep-green silk on bright- opinion in matters of taste. The hunting pink satin. She could dig in the garden and other sets spoke of the Fyleses as inwith a trowel, and she knew how to talk clined to be merely rustic; and the Fyleses to the lower classes. She had negative spoke of them with the suggestion that ideas on all the great subjects of the hour they overdid in some directions, which is even before they were introduced to pub- a pretty strong thing to say. But while lic notice. And as to virtue, it is not pos- this is to show that you must not take the
Fyleses as typical of all English life, it is occurrence savors of Aippancy and a gento be understood that these differences did eral lack of solidity in those concerned. not affect their calling-list or their pew in in common with every one I wish this the parish church or decrease the amount story were about something else. Butthey were expected to subscribe to local When her first husband, Major charities. A specimen of their days was Topham-Hampton, died, I shall call something like this:
him Topham for euphony,- Mrs. TopColonel Fyles would breakfast on ba- ham had behaved as a widow should. And con and eggs at nine; would smoke his when the year of her mourning had expipe and read “The Times." He would pired, she had her black things put away then write a letter to “The Times" in in the camphor-chest and went to Bath. opposition to some suggested change in a It was at Bath that she had met Topham, public institution, and for two hours which formed a habit. Bath, although it would exercise his horse. Lunch and a suffers from comparison with itself in the nap would occupy him until three-thirty, days of Beau Nash, and from the modern and visitors and tea would occupy him taste for foreign watering-places, still until six, unless he motored to tea else- continues a resort for people of a certain where with Alice. He would then dress conservatism. And it is not surprising for dinner,- it is a pity I must explain to that there she met Colonel Fyles. Topyou that this meant for him a dinner- ham, too, had been a public-school man, of jacket and for her a full décolletée,-and course, – the paste of his adolescence had after that noiseless function, during which been dried in the same Etonic matrix, -they would confirm to each other what he had served in India, and he wrote his they had said at dinner the night before, objections to "The Times" on a breakfast he would play chess with Alice until she of eggs and bacon. It did not startle was defeated or he felt inclined to yawn. Alice, then, that at the same spot among You may ask what Alice was doing all the ruins of the Roman tepidarium under day. She was doing the things which I the concert hall Fyles should briefly say previously said she could do.
the same thing that Topham briefly had If this seems a quiet life, it must be said. The affair with Fyles passed along remembered that Colonel Fyles had seen with the same restraint as had the affair years of service in India. He had retired with Topham; and in a few months Coloonly after the Boer War, during which at nel Fyles had fitted into the same duties one time he had commanded three regi- under the same roof that had sheltered ments of infantry in a rather important Topham with a calm that could be apengagement that would have resulted in proached by no people on earth other than the utter rout of the enemy had the enemy those on this island. Perhaps you begin been up to public-school form or had it to appreciate, if never before, what it is acted with any sense of tradition, as Colo- to live in order and peace and propriety nel Fyles afterward explained in the Boer in the most finished civilization in the camp. But unfortunately the enemy con- world, where everything is standardized sisted of men of no class and of no breed- and where, if anything is lost, you can ing; in fact, foreigners. Such men exactly duplicate it with little delay. In Colonel Fyles are absolutely fearless, and fact, nothing happened that would affect will stand up to be shot at by anything but the outward composure of a well-trained ridicule or the accusation of seeming in butler until three years after this marriage, bad form. If there ever comes a war in when one evening Colonel Fyles tripped which all the combatants are
on the carpet at the half-landing of the Colonel Fyles, no one will be left alive on main staircase, and, being already vexed at either side, and the war will have to be having left his cigarette-case up-stairs, fought over again by a lot of cowards. swore. It was a mild oath, and there was
It seems regrettable that, after her sec- every justification for it, the carpet being ond marriage, what is so out of place as totally in the wrong. Colonel Fyles the supernatural should have introduced would have thought no more about it had itself at Glaston Angle, which Alice in- he not looked up and seen his wife's first herited early in life. The supernatural husband, the late Major Topham, gazing belongs in the Scriptures; elsewhere its at him from the head of the stairs.
I put it to you as suddenly as it was put And surely the wife of their bosom must to Colonel Fyles. I can't stop to argue be on both their sides. Major Topham the point of probability. If you don't be also had lived three years in this house. lieve in the reimbodiment of spirits, you As many of his Indian trophies as of Colare one who requires the evidence of his onel Fyles caught your hair or feet in this own senses, and you probably have no house. The situation was more than delifaith in anything, which is worse than cate, even if there were to be considered being a nonconformist. Colonel Fyles only the feelings of their wife. had never seen Major Topham or even If you have lived all your life in surany portrait of Major Topham. Alice roundings which obey fixed laws, and had plenty of storage-room and a reason- where, within reasonable bounds, nothing able amount of tact. But the colonel happens but the expected, and nothing is knew at once that this was the major. expected which has not been invited, you The apparition was so obviously a Briton, can understand the very great pain and a public-school man, a soldier, a chess- responsibility there is in facing a situation player, and a letter-writer. There the absolutely new and unheard of. But if major stood, as a man at the head of his
you are a compatriot of mine, if you live own stairs, so slim, so iron-gray, so retired in God's own country, where your chances on half-pay, and so with an air of taking of being smashed up in a train, burned up the presence of another retired officer for in a hotel, murdered in the streets, or granted, that Colonel Fyles could not in otherwise violently assisted along your good form but take the major for granted. destiny are statistically between fifteen And since they never had been introduced and twenty times as great as they are in to each other, Colonel Fyles, by virtue of England, then you are born inured to sudhis rank, passed up the remaining stairs, den emergencies, and I don't suppose you bowed to the major, who bowed in re- can understand the plight of a man like turn, and then the colonel went to his Colonel Fyles, faced by perhaps the only room, while the major went down-stairs, emotional situation which by no manner each with a calm you can imagine only of means can be reduced to pounds sterif you have very little imagination.
ling. But not a mental calm. When I think He quietly descended the stairs and of what the colonel thought and what he looked through the crack of the drawingthought a public-school man ought to room door. Major Topham and their think and most of all of what he thought wife sat bowed and motionless over the other people might think, I am not sure chess-board-the carved chessmen Topham but that I am writing a novel. Vajor himself had brought from Bengal. The Topham's presence was so irregular, two sat motionless, staring at the board, uncustomary, so unprearranged, - these Alice with her pale-blue eyes and beautiare very strong English words, - and yet, ful blankness of expression, untouched by so perfectly within propriety. For what suspicion that it was Topham, and not earlier thing should a late husband do Fyles, who sat across from her. Why than call upon his wife after having should she suspect? Fyles bitterly asked changed his damp clothes ? Colonel Fyles himself. Was not Topham all that he, found the damp clothes in his own dress- Fyles, was? Iron-gray hair, public school, ing-room, or in what he had been led by half-pay, objection to any alteration of the marriage-service to believe was his own existing institutions — they were all too dressing-room, and the colonel's spare eve- patently there. Fyles had left his men in .ning suit had gone down-stairs to the bad order; he had been thinking about his drawing-room, where Alice was bending cigarette-case. “Rather a muddle," Fyles over an unfinished game of chess. For smiled to himself, to counterbalance any several moments Colonel Fyles did what smile that might ever be smiled at him. his adolescent training had taught him was He saw Topham reach for a cigarette in certain to be good form in matters of men- the empty silver box without turning an tal strain, which was nothing.
eve to it, saw his fingers hunting about You must admit that the situation was within the box as accurately as if they had delicate. The law was on both their done this every night for the last four sides. Good form was on both their sides. years instead of moldering in the grave.
Fyles would not have believed his senses things subtly are and subtly are not what had he not known that Topham was a they are called or seem on this island, public-school man and above the pretense whence foreigners have worked out of having returned from the grave when phrase, “British hypocrisy," a jealous he had not. Presently Topham leaned back. term for that good form which all other
“Rather a muddle,” Topham smiled. peoples have something too bourgeois in Fyles could see Alice's eyes examine Top their nature successfully to imitate. If ham, still without inquiry or doubt. She you have a taste for these distinctions,
conanswered as a good wife always does, sym- sider the word "England." It is spelled pathetically, even if a little tired: “Yes, "Eng”-land, it is pronounced "Ing"-land, dear." Fyles walked out of the house, and it means “Angle"-land. To rememand they did not hear him.
ber this will help you to understand many Fyles paced up and down the grass, and English equations; and if you are ascended meditated some ten or twelve pages of this from the Mayflower, it may help you to print. Through the curtains he saw their understand yourself. game go on until Topham said “Check" Colonel Fyles locked himself in and and Alice acknowledged "Checkmate." went to sleep on a lounge, hoping that Then, in the hall, he saw Topham shake somehow in the morning Topham, or the hands with their wife, saw her pick up her illusion, or whatever it is, would have blue skirts and mount the stairs, her long vanished. He slept less well than usual; train picturesquely dragging behind her: if he had been an overwrought American that was the way Alice always parted he would not have slept at all. In the from her husbands at this hour. A light morning he looked over the balusters and came from her window; then presently a heard the swish of Alice's gown, heard her light from Fyles's own window, or Top- greeting to Topham, accompanied by ham's window, or whichever window you nothing less than a kiss, -surely a legitithink it rightly was. The butler locked up mate one,--and then heard their descent for the night, leaving Alice's second hus- to the breakfast-room. Colonel Fyles band out on the damp grass. Men of less made a dash, half-dressed, to the husdelicacy would have thrown a pebble at band's room, to get into his riding-togs. Alice's window in their anxiety for a They were gone. Topham had them on. word with her as to the future; and I sup- Fyles sat on the bed and perspired until pose it will be impossible to prevent this the up-stairs maid begged his pardon, exstory falling into hands which would have plaining that she had thought she had seen heaved a brick at the Topham window, if him go down-stairs. He hurriedly dressed such a thing as a loose brick could have for town; the servants must not know. been found in those three hundred-odd He stole out when no one saw him, went acres. But Colonel Fyles was a public- to the station on foot, and ate his breakschool man, and for some time he did fast at his club in Piccadilly at eleven nothing. Then he went around to see if o'clock. the dogs would recognize him, a step in- Major Topham ate his bacon and eggs, volving no constraint upon the feelings of or their bacon and eggs; in fact, the finana delicate woman.
The dogs did recog- cial situation was such that the eggs and nize him, though I do not know for what. bacon really belonged to Alice. He They barked so that the butler opened a smoked a pipe, read “The Times," and door through which the colonel strolled wrote a letter protesting against any rein as if he did not know that Topham now duction in the defenses of the empire. He was sound asleep in the Topham-Fyles lunched, napped, teaed, entertained the chamber.
canon and his lady with as much lucidity Colonel Fyles paced the carpet in a as avoids seeming to wish to appear clever ; room on the top floor in the wing farthest and if there was the slightest sense of from the servants' quarters. On no ac- altered fact in the mind of Alice, be sure count must the servants ever know; that she was too well bred to betray it. Then is, must they ever know in such a way Topham did a thing which you may think that they would seem officially to know. lies on debatable ground: he answered to There is in this a most important distinc- the name of Fyles. tion that runs all through English life: "Fyles," said the canon, standing in his