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and we have all these Tommies now; they take up a good deal of time. It must be curious, having it all over, all that weight of anxiety."

"It is, it is," said little Mrs. Thornton, eagerly, with her look of gratitude for finding some one with whom to talk about it. "It's almost like losing a limb. I feel crippled, as well as Clive. Is n't it absurd? But it's almost like loss. And one is dazed with the relief of it."

"How long have you been married?" I asked.

"Only a year and a half," she told me, and that Clive's mother and hers had been great friends, and that she had often gone to stay with his people in the country, so that she had always known him. Her mother had died when she was a child and her father only two years ago. She had lived in London with her father, who had been an artist. She was just twenty. And after she had told me about herself, she asked me about Jack, and I found myself telling her all about him and about those plans of ours for living together in London if he ever comes back.

THE party at Compton Dally was small, and they were all there, except Sir Francis, who was an old family friend and who was paying a long visit, to help Vera with her Tommies. The only other officer besides Captain Thornton was poor Colonel Appleby, a pale, frightened, middle-aged man invalided home with nervous shock. At dinner that night Lady Dighton, who is the embodiment of lassitude and acquiescence, had him, and Mrs. Travers-Cray had Sir Francis, and Vera had Captain Thornton, so that Percival fell to the share of Mollie Thornton, and I wondered how she liked him. If she was already feeling herself out of it, to have Percival at dinner would n't make her feel herself in; quite the reverse. Percival's appearance is always summed up to me by the back of his head: the wedge of fat, red neck above his high collar, the sleek, glittering black hair, and the rims of his red ears curving forward on each side. The back of his head seems really as

characteristic as the front, though that is jovial and not unkindly. Percival looks sly over his food, and looks over his wine. like the sort of man who is going to tell a story that no one else will find at all amusing. He told Mollie several such stories that night, I inferred, though she was evidently neither shy nor shocked; it was in the quality of her quiet, observant little smile that I read her tolerant endurance.

Milly, Vera's girl, just seventeen and just promoted to late dinner, sat on Mollie's other hand and did not, as far as I observed, address her once during the meal. But, then, Milly never makes efforts unless they are plainly useful. All Vera's beauty has been spoiled in her by the Dixon admixture, and yet she is a most engaging-looking little minx, with broad, bold, black, idle eyes and a blunted nose and auburn hair and a skin of roses and carnations. Vera had seen to that. Poor Vera is quite fond of the child, a halfvexed, half-ironic, constantly rebuffed tenderness. But Milly says to me, "Mother is such a bore, you know," and likes me far better, who make no claim upon her and who, she must feel, like her very little. She will soon take flight, however, when a sufficiently advantageous occasion presents itself. The war has been a sad blow to her projects, and what I like in Milly is the fact that she has never uttered a word of complaint as to the shattering of her girlish gaieties. However, to get back to Mollie Thornton, I don't think she could have enjoyed her companions at dinner.

After dinner I go and amuse the Tommies and talk to the nurses until bedtime, but, before I went, I observed that Vera, after her wont with the detrimental belongings of a guest, had placed Mollie in a corner with a book and the urgent, smiling murmur: "By a friend of mine. Quite, quite beautiful. I know you'll

love it." It is a book called "Spiritual Control," with a portrait of its author, who is a stock-broker, a sleek, stalwart, satisfied person whom Vera characterizes, why I can't think, except that she had him once to stay after hearing his lecture, as

her "friend." A great many people find the book inspiring; Vera, as a matter of fact, does n't, and she found Mr. Cuthbert Dawson a terrible bore. I inferred from her giving poor Mrs. Thornton "Spiritual Control" to read where she placed her.

When I came back an hour later she was still in her corner with "Spiritual Control," but she was n't reading it. She had drawn the curtain at the window where she sat, and was looking out at the splendid, dramatic moonlight. Sir Francis and Colonel Appleby were reading the evening papers, Lady Dighton and Leila. Travers-Cray talked together while they knitted, Milly had disappeared, and at the farthest end of the great room, on its farthest sofa, Vera, pale and pearly, was talking to Captain Thornton.

"Well," I said, "how is your spirit? Is it more controlled?"

Mrs. Thornton looked up at me, and after a moment her smile of understanding merged into one of friendly enjoy

ment.

"How do you manage," she said, "to be so austere in the daytime and so splendid at night? You make me think of a Venetian princess in that brocade."

"It is nice, is n't it?" I said. “And made by the littlest of dressmakers. I'm clever at clothes. But tell me how you like Mr. Cuthbert Dawson."

"Well, he is very cheerful and sincere," said Mrs. Thornton, kindly; "but I don't seem to get much out of it. I'm really too tired and stupid to read to-night."

"And it's time your husband was in bed," I said. "One of the nurses is coming for him.”

No one could have said that there was any creature comfort lacking in Mrs. Thornton's reception at Compton Dally. Captain Thornton, as the invalid, had a larger room, but Mrs. Thornton's room, next it, was quite as charming a one, pink and gray, with old French prints and hangings of toile de Jouy. She went up to the prints for a moment of silent appreciation before turning to me with a sigh, half pleasure and half wistfulness.

"How lovely everything is here! Papa would have been in rapture over those Cochins. I shall enjoy my sleep to-night." And then,-it was her only sign of awareness,-"I suppose I'm to be allowed to go and say good night to Clive when nurse has done with him."

My study at Compton Dally, where I type and write and do accounts, opens on the west terrace, and from my bureau I seemed, at most hours of the days that followed, to have a view of Mollie Thornton's little figure wandering, as it were, on the outskirts, not plaintive,there was never a touch of plaintiveness, -but passive. With her sewing or knitting or a book she sat a good deal under the shade of the cedar that stands at the corner of the terrace, and she spent a good deal of time drifting up and down the vistas of the lawns and park watching birds, a binocular in her hand. She was certainly a most comfortable person to relegate, since she never looked melancholy and usually contrived to seem occupied, and Vera, when she passed behind her on the terrace on her way to the dream-garden, Captain Thornton beside

Mrs. Thornton looked down the long her, would pause and put her hand on room at her husband.

"If only I 'd had the Red Cross training," she said, "I could have taken care of his leg then. I suppose I must n't ask to be allowed to. Is n't it quite early?" she added. "He's enjoying the talk with Lady Vera."

"It 's half-past ten, and we are strict with our invalids. Here is nurse now. I'll come up with you and see that you are comfortable."

her shoulder and say, "Happy, dear?" in the most dulcet tone. And when Mrs. Thornton, lifting those meditative eyes, answered, "Yes, thank you," Vera, all bland benevolence, would say, "That 's right," and pass on. Leila Travers-Cray and Lady Dighton sometimes exchanged a few friendly remarks with her, and she read the morning papers to Colonel Appleby when his eyes hurt him; but she was relegated far, far away as completely as

any human being could be who could in. any way count as a guest.

I was very busy and had not much time to be with her, though all the time I had was hers; but I knew accurately what she was feeling. I related it always with that dreadful Victoria platform, with those moments of pain and yet of rapture which we had both known, when we had felt ourselves, in our suffering, stand for England, and lifted up in accepting sacrifice to the august and beautiful spirit that claimed our dearest. One would expect, after that transcendent suffering, to find as transcending a joy; but how was joy possible to a young wife caught into what might be to her husband a fairy-land or a paradise, but to her a cruel and complicated machine where her only part was to turn round with the other wheels and pretend to like it? I knew that it must not be taken too seriously. It was only to last for six weeks, and then she would have her Clive back again; yet while it lasted it must make the months of suffering passed through seem happy by comparison. There had then been nothing between them but distance and the fear of death; and now everything was between them-everything Vera stood for; her house, her friends, her smile, her pearls, her dream-garden.

On morning after morning I saw Vera leading him away to it, with her armful of books, and Chang, her Pekingese, trotting at her heels. I perfectly understood Vera's state of mind in regard to Captain Thornton. There was no occasion for commonplace jealousy. He merely made her feel cheerful and rejuvenated. Every thing she had to show and tell him was new to him. She became new to herself, poor old Vera! and gained from the quiet regard of his sane and simple eyes-handsome eyes under straight, dark brows-a sense of freshness and worth in everything. She liked him better than any of the wounded heroes she had yet had. Some of them had been merely stupid, and one or two had been gloomy, sardonic men-men of her own world, to whom nothing she had to say would seem new. Clive Thornton was neither stupid nor sardonic,

and he was simple enough to accept Vera's fancy tricks-her talk of dreaming dreams and solitude-as part of an angel's manner, and he was just clever enough to be able to appreciate anything she had to say. I could quite see how endearing Vera must find his steady gaze and his considering silences. Even with my vigorous espousal of his wife's side I never felt angry with him. His not seeing that she was unhappy was part of the same innocence that made him not see that Vera was a cat. Mollie, besides, took quite as much care to conceal her unhappiness as Vera to behave like an angel. It never crossed his mind that his wife was relegated; it never crossed his mind that they were separated. He did not feel separated; they were both, as far as he knew, in fairy-land together. And yet I knew it might not all be so trivial and transient as it seemed. A new standard was being formed for him; a new idea of what it was to be an angel. It was possible that all unconsciously he would no longer think of Mollie as one when he left Compton Dally; and when I took this in I began to gather up my

weapons.

I found Mollie one afternoon sitting on the bench under the willow-tree where we had had our first talk. She had her knitting, but her hands were still, and she was gazing before her at the water. If she were not a tragic figure, it was only because there are some things sadder than tragedy. She had faced everything, been through everything, she had gone down into the Hades where so many of us were still living, and now she found herself balked and menaced by commonplace daylight. Tragedy is, in some ways, an easy thing to bear.

"Well, what are you doing here by yourself?" I asked her, advancing. There was a look on her face, startled and steadied, that showed me what she had been thinking about in the fancied security of her solitude. But she managed at once the vague smile that concealed so much, and said that she had been, as usual, resting. "I seem to find out every day more and more how tired I was," she added.

"You did n't care to go with the others, motoring?" I took my place beside her. "You'd have liked Marjorams. It's a lovely old place. Some people think it beats Compton Dally, though, naturally, I'm not one of them."

"I'm sure you 're not," said Mollie, laughing a little. "That was one of the things that first struck me about youhow you loved it. I felt that you were a fiercely loyal person."

"I think I am-narrow loyalties, but fierce ones," I said. "But you have n't answered my question."

"About motoring? I don't care much about it, you know. And there really was n't room enough for me."

I knew there had n't been; but I was deliberately eschewing tact.

"Has Captain Thornton gone?" I inquired, knowing, also, that he had n't.

"No; Lady Vera is reading to him in the flagged garden," said Mollie in the voice that showed me how little she had to learn about spiritual control. "Lady Vera is going to take him out for a run in her two-seater before dinner. He enjoys that a great deal more than the big motor."

"It's far pleasanter, certainly," I agreed. And I went on: "They are reading, you mean, in the dream-garden. You must n't forget that it's a dream-garden -where one goes to be alone."

She looked round at me quickly, and after a moment I saw that she faintly colored. She said nothing, leaving it to me to follow up my graceless gibe. I was quite ready to follow it up.

"As a matter of fact," I said, knitting the loops along the side of my heel, “Vera hardly ever is alone there. It's always, with Vera, a solitude à deux. She's not at all the sort of woman for real solitude. She is the sort of woman who likes to feel, or, rather, to look lonely and not to be ' alone."

To this, after a pause, Mollie said:

"She is very charming; Clive finds her very charming." And, forced to it, apparently, by my crudity, she added, "Are n't you fond of her, then?"

"No, I'm not; not particularly," I said. "Especially not just now. Vera is not at her best, to my mind, when she is being angelic to young married men."

Mollie Thornton now blushed deeply. "I am perfectly contented that she should be angelic to Clive," she said.

"You are very loyal," I returned. "But you'll own that he is getting more out of it than you are. It's a place, Compton Dally, for wounded heroes rather than for a wounded hero's wife."

"Do you mean," she asked after a moment, "that I ought n't to have come?" She had indeed owned to everything in the bewilderment of the question. I laughed at it.

"Ought n't to have been with your husband at a time like this! Even Vera could hardly ask that, could she? And that's my quarrel with her; that it's the time of all times that you should be together and that she never lets you see him, practically."

She looked away, and after a moment I saw that her eyes had filled with tears. "He has n't an idea of it," she said at last.

"That fact does n't make you happier, does it?"

"He thinks I 'm as happy as he is. He thinks that we are together in it all, and that she is an angel to me, too," said Mollie. "She always is an angel to me when she sees me."

"All men are rather stupid when it comes to knowing whether their wives are happy," I remarked. "I think your Clive is a great dear; but I like you best because you see things and he does n't. You, for instance, see that Vera is n't an angel, though she may look like one.'

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"He has no reason to think anything else, has he?" said Mollie, and I saw that I had brought her to the point to which I had intended to bring her. "I don't let him guess that I 'm not happy; it would be horrid of me if I did, for it would only mean that he 'd feel at once that we must go away, and all this loveliness would be over for him. A stuffy little flat in Bayswater is n't a very alluring alternative;

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