The Project Gutenberg eBook of The Ghost Girl

This ebook is for the use of anyone anywhere in the United States and most other parts of the world at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this ebook or online at If you are not located in the United States, you will have to check the laws of the country where you are located before using this eBook.

Title: The Ghost Girl

Author: H. De Vere Stacpoole

Release date: October 21, 2008 [eBook #26986]

Language: English

Credits: Produced by Roger Frank and the Online Distributed
Proofreading Team at



Sea Plunder$1.30 net
The Gold Trail$1.30 net
The Pearl Fishers$1.30 net
The Presentation$1.30 net
The New Optimism$1.00 net
Poppyland$2.00 net
The Poems of François Villon
Translated by
 Boards$3.00 net
 Half Morocco$7.50 net











Copyright, 1918





U. S. A.





It was a warm, grey, moist evening, typical Irish weather, and Miss Berknowles was curled up in a window-seat of the library reading a book. Kilgobbin Park lay outside with the rooks cawing in the trees, miles of park land across which the dusk was coming, blotting out all things from Arranakilty to the Slieve Bloom Mountains.

The turf fire burning on the great hearth threw out a rich steady glow that touched the black oak panelling of the room, the book backs, and the long-nosed face of Sir Nicholas Berknowles “attributed to Lely” and looking down at his last descendant from a dusty canvas on the opposite wall.

The girl made a prettier picture. Red hair when it is of the right colour is lovely, and Phylice Berknowles’ hair was of the right red, worn in a tail—she was only fifteen—so long that she could bite the end with ease and comfort when she was in a meditative mood, a habit of perdition that no schoolmistress could break her of.

She was biting her tail now as she read, up to her 8 eyes in the marvellous story of the Gold Bug, and now, unable to read any more by the light from the window, she came to the fire, curled herself on the hearthrug and continued the adventures of the treasure-seekers by the light of the burning turf.

What a pretty face it was, seen by the full warm glow of the turf, and what a perfectly shaped head! It was not the face and head of a Berknowles as you could easily have perceived had you compared it with the portraits in the picture gallery, but of a Mascarene.

Phyl’s mother had been a Mascarene, a member of the old, adventurous family that settled in Virginia when Virginia was a wilderness and spread its branches through the Carolinas when the Planter was king of the South. Red hair had run among the Mascarenes, red hair and a wild spirit that brooked no contradiction and knew no fear. Phyl had inherited something of this restless and daring spirit. She had run away from the Rottingdean Academy for the Daughters of the Nobility and Gentry where she had been sent at the age of twelve; making her way back to Ireland like a homing pigeon, she had turned up one morning at breakfast time, quite unshaken by her experiences of travel and with the announcement that she did not like school.

Had her mother been alive the traveller would have been promptly returned, but Phyl’s father, good, easy man, was too much taken up with agrarian disputes, hunting, and the affairs of country life to bother much about the small affair of his daughter’s future and education. He accepted her 9 rejection of his plans, wrote a letter of apology to the Rottingdean Academy, and hired a governess for her. She wore out three in eighteen months, declared herself dissatisfied with governesses and competent to finish the process of educating and polishing herself.

This she did with the aid of all the books in the library, old Dunn, the rat-catcher of Arranakilty, a man profoundly versed in the habits of rodents and birds, Larry the groom, and sundry others of low estate but high intelligence in matters of sport and woodcraft.

Now it might be imagined from the foregoing that hardihood, self-assertion, and other unpleasant characteristics would be indicated in the manner and personality of this lover of freedom and rebel against restraint. Not at all. She was a most lovable and clinging person, when she could get hold of anything worth clinging to, with a mellifluous Irish voice at once soothing and distracting, a voice with pockets in it but not a trace of a brogue or only the very faintest suspicion. Yet when she spoke she had the Irish turn of words and she used the word “sure” in a manner strange to the English.

She had reached the point in the “Gold Bug” where Jupp is threatening to beat Legrand, when, laying the book down beside her on the hearthrug, she sat with her hands clasping her knees and her eyes fixed on the fire.

The tale had suddenly lost interest. She was thinking of her dead father, the big, hearty man who had gone to America only eight weeks ago and 10 who would never return. He had gone on a visit to some of his wife’s people, fallen ill, and died.

Phyl could not understand it at all. She had cried her heart out amongst the ruins of her little world, but she could not understand why it had been ruined, or what her father had done to be killed like that, or what she had done to deserve such misery. The Reverend Peter Graham of Arranakilty could explain nothing about the matter to her understanding. She nearly died and then miraculously recovered. Acute grief often ends like that, suddenly. The mourner may be maimed for life but the sharpness of the pain of that dreadful, dreadful disease is gone.

Phyl found herself one morning discussing rats with old Dunn, asking him how many he had caught in the barn and taking a vague sort of interest in what the old fellow was saying; books began to appeal to her again and the old life to run anew in a crippled sort of way. Then other things happened. Mr. Hennessey, the family lawyer, who had been a crony of her father’s and who had known her from infancy, came down to Kilgobbin to arrange matters.

It seemed that Mr. Berknowles before dying had made a will and that the will was being brought over from the States by Mr. Pinckney, his wife’s cousin in whose house he had died.

“I’m sure I don’t know what the chap wants coming over with it for,” said Mr. Hennessey. “He said it was by your father’s request he was coming, but it’s a long journey for a man to take at this season of the year—and I hope the will is all right.” 11

There was an implied distrust in his tone and an antagonism to Mr. Pinckney that was not without its effect on Phyl.

She disliked Mr. Pinckney. She had never seen him but she disliked him all the same, and she feared him. She felt instinctively that this man was coming to make some alteration in her way of life. She did not want any change, she wanted to go on living just as she was with Mrs. Driscoll the housekeeper to look after her and all the old servants to befriend her and Mr. Hennessey to pay the bills.

Mr. Hennessey was in the house now. He had come down that morning from Dublin to receive Mr. Pinckney, who was due to arrive that night.

Phyl, sitting on the hearthrug, was in the act of picking up her book when the door opened and in came Mr. Hennessey.

He had been out in the grounds overlooking things and he came to the fire to warm his hands, telling Phyl to sit easy and not disturb herself. Then, as he held a big foot to the warmth he talked down at the girl, telling her of what he had been about and the ruination Rafferty was letting the greenhouses go to.

“Half-a-dozen panes of glass out—and ‘I’ve no putty,’ says he. ‘Putty,’ said I to him, ‘and what’s that head of yours made of?’ The stoves are all out of order and there’s a hole in one of the flues I could get my thumb in.”

“Rafferty’s awfully good to the dogs,” said Phyl in her mellow voice, so well adapted for intercession. “He may be a bit careless, but he never does forget 12 to feed the animals. He’s got the chickens to look after, too, and then there’s the beagles, he knows every dog in the pack and every dog knows him—oh, dear, what’s the good of it all!”

The thought of the beagles had brought up the vision of their master who would never hunt with them again. Her voice became tinged with melancholy and Hennessey changed the subject, taking his seat in one of the armchairs that stood on either side of the fireplace.

He was a big, loosely-made man, an easy going man with a kind heart who would have come to financial disaster long ago only for his partner, Niven.

“He’s almost due to be here by now,” said he, taking out his watch and looking at it, “unless the express from Dublin is late.”

“What’ll he be like, do you think?” said Phyl.

“There’s no saying,” replied Mr. Hennessey. “He’s an American and I’ve never had much dealings with Americans except by letter. By all accounts they are sharp business men, but I daresay he is all right. The thing that gets me is his coming over. Americans don’t go thousands of miles for nothing, but if it’s after any hanky-panky business about the property, maybe he’ll find Jack Hennessey as sharp as any American.”

“He’s some sort of a relation of ours,” said Phyl. “Father said he was a sort of cousin.”

“On your mother’s side,” said Hennessey.

“Yes,” said Phyl. Then, after a moment’s pause, “D’you know I’ve often thought of all those people over there and wondered what they were like and 13 how they lived—my mother’s people. Father used to talk of them sometimes. He said they kept slaves.”

“That was in the old days,” said Hennessey. “The slaves are all gone long ago. They used to have sugar plantations and suchlike, but the war stopped all that.”

“It’s funny,” said Phyl, “to think that my people kept slaves—my mother’s people—Oh, if one could only see back, see all the people that have gone before one so long ago— Don’t you ever feel like that?”

Mr. Hennessey never had; his forebears had been liquor dealers in Athlone and he was content to let them lie without a too close inquisition into the romances of their lives.

“Mr. Hennessey,” said Phyl, after a moment’s silence, “suppose Father has left Mr. Pinckney all his money—what will become of me?”

“The Lord only knows,” said Hennessey; “but what’s been putting such fancies in your head?”

“I don’t know,” replied the girl. “I was just thinking. Of course he wouldn’t do such a thing—It’s your talking of the will the last time you were here set me on, I suppose, but I dreamed last night Mr. Pinckney came and he was an American with a beard like Uncle Sam in Punch last week, and he said Father had made a will and left him everything—he’d left him me as well as everything else, and the dogs and all the servants and Kilgobbin—then I woke up.”

“Well, you were dreaming nonsense,” said the 14 practical Hennessey. “A man can’t leave his daughter away from him, though I’m half thinking there’s many a man would be willing enough if he could.”

Phyl raised her head. Her quick ear had caught a sound from the avenue. Then the crash of wheels on gravel came from outside and her companion, rising hurriedly from his chair, went to the window.

“That’s him,” said the easy-speaking Hennessey.



He left the room and Phyl, rising from the hearthrug, stood with her hand on the mantelpiece listening.

Hennessey had left the door open and she could hear a confused noise from the hall, the sound of luggage being brought in, the bustle of servants and a murmur of voices.

Then a voice that made her start.

“Thanks, I can carry it myself.”

It was the newcomer’s voice, he was being conducted to his room by Hennessey. It was a cheerful, youthful voice, not in the least suggestive of Uncle Sam with the goatee beard as depicted by the unimaginative artist of Punch. And it was a voice she had heard before, so she fancied, but where, she could not possibly tell—nor did she bother to think, dismissing the idea as a fancy.

She stood listening, but heard nothing more, only the wind that had risen and was shaking the ivy outside the windows.

Byrne, the old manservant, came in and lit the lamps and then after a few minutes Hennessey entered. He looked cheerful.

“He seems all right and he’ll be down in a minute,” said the lawyer; “not a bit of harm in him, though I haven’t had time to tackle him over money affairs.” 16

“How old is he?” asked the girl.

“Old! Why, he’s only a boy, but he’s got all a man’s ways with him—he’s American, they’re like that. I’ve heard say the American children order their own mothers and fathers about and drive their own motor-cars and gamble on the Stock Exchange.” He pulled out his watch and looked at it; it pointed to ten minutes past seven; then he lit a cigar and sat smoking and smoking without a word whilst Phyl sat thinking and staring at the fire. They were seated like this when the door opened and Byrne shewed in Mr. Pinckney.

Hennessey had called him a boy. He was not that. He was twenty-two years of age, yet he looked only twenty and you would not have been particularly surprised if you had been told that he was only nineteen. Good-looking, well-groomed and well-dressed, he made a pleasant picture, and as he came across the room to greet Phyl he explained without speaking what Mr. Hennessey meant about “all the manners of a man.”

Pinckney’s manner was the manner of a man of the world of thirty, easy-going, assured, and decided.

He shook hands with Phyl as Hennessey introduced them, and then stood with his back to the fireplace talking, as she took her seat in the armchair on the right, whilst the lawyer remained standing, hands in pockets and foot on the left corner of the fender.

The newcomer did most of the talking. By a downward glance every now and then he included 17 Phyl in the conversation, but he addressed most of his remarks to Mr. Hennessey.

“And you came over by the Holyhead route?” said the lawyer.

“I did,” replied Pinckney.

“And what did you think of Kingstown?”

“Well, upon my word, I saw less of it than of a gentleman with long hair and a bundle of newspapers under his arm who received me like a mother just as I landed, hypnotised me into buying half-a-dozen newspapers and started me off for Dublin with his blessing.”

“That was Davy Stevens,” said Phyl, speaking for the first time.

Pinckney’s entrance had produced upon her the same effect as his voice.

You know the feeling that some places produce on the mind when first seen—

“I have been here before

But when or how I cannot tell

I know the lights along the shore—”

It seemed to her that she had known Pinckney and had met him in some place, but when or how she could not possibly remember. The feeling had almost worn off now. It had thrilled her, but the thrill had vanished and the concrete personality of the man was dominating her mind—and not very pleasantly.

There was nothing in his manner or his words to give offence; he was quite pleasant and nice but—but—well, it was almost as though she had met some 18 one whom she had known and liked and who had changed.

The little jump of the heart that his voice caused in her had been followed by a chill. His manner displeased her vaguely. He seemed so assured, so every day, so cold.

It seemed to her that not only did he hold his entertainers at a critical distance, but that he was somehow wanting in respectfulness to herself—Lunatic ideas, for the young man could not possibly have been more cordial towards two utter strangers and as for respectfulness, one does not treat a girl in a pigtail exactly as one treats a full-grown woman.

“Oh, Davy Stevens, was it?” said Pinckney, glancing down at Phyl. “Well, I never knew the meaning of peaceful persuasion till he had sold out his stock on me. Now in the States that man would likely have been President by this—Things grow quicker over there.”

“And what did you think of Dublin?” asked Hennessey.

“Well,” said the young man, “the two things that struck me most about Dublin were the dirt and the want of taxicabs.”

A dead silence followed this remark.

Never tell an Irishman that Dublin is dirty.

Hennessey was dumb, and as for Phyl, she knew now that she hated this man.

“Of course,” went on the other, “it’s a fine old city and I’m not sure that I would alter it or even brush it up. I should think it’s pretty much the same to-day as when Lever wrote of it. It’s a survival 19 of the past, like Nuremberg. All the same, one doesn’t want to live in a survival of the past—does one?”

“I’ve lived there a good many years,” said Hennessey; “and I’ve managed to survive it. It’s not Chicago, of course; it’s just Dublin, and it doesn’t pretend to be anything else.”

“Just so,” said Pinckney. He felt that he had put his foot in it; recalling his own lightly spoken words he felt shocked at his want of tact, and he was casting about for something to say about the sacred city of a friendly nature but not too fulsome, when Byrne opened the door and announced that dinner was served.



Phyl led the way and they crossed the hall to the dining-room, a room oak-panelled like the library and warm with the light of fire and candles.

Once upon a time there had been high doings in this sombre room, hunt breakfasts and dinners, rousing songs, laughter, and the toasting of pretty women—now dust and ashes.

Here highly coloured gentlemen had slept the sleep of the just, under the table, whilst the ladies waited in vain for them in the drawing-room, here Colonel Berknowles had drunk a glass of mulled wine on that black morning over a hundred-and-thirty years ago when he went out with Councillor Kinsella and shot him through the lungs by the Round House on the Arranakilty Road. The diminutive Tom Moore had sung his songs here “put standing on the table” by the other guests, and the great Dan had held forth and the wind had dashed the ivy against the windows just as it did to-night with fist-fulls of rain from the Slieve Bloom Mountains. Byrne had put the big silver candlesticks on the table in honour of the guest, and he now appeared bearing in front of him a huge dish with a cover a size too small for it.

He placed the dish before Mr. Hennessey and removed the cover, disclosing a cod’s “head and shoulders” 21 whilst a female servant appeared with a dish of potatoes boiled in their jackets and a tureen of oyster sauce.

Now a cod’s head and shoulders served up like this in the good old Irish way is, honestly, a ghastly sight. The thing has a countenance and an expression most forbidding and all its own.

The appearance of the old dish cover, clapped on by the cook in a hurry in default of the proper one, had given Phyl a turn and now she was wondering what Mr. Pinckney was thinking of the fish and the manner of its serving.

All at once and as if stimulated into life by the presence of the new guest, all sorts of qualms awoke in her mind. The dining arrangements of the better class Irish are, and always have been, rather primitive, haphazard, and lacking in small refinements. Phyl was conscious of the fact that Byrne had placed several terrible old knives on the table, knives that properly belonged to the kitchen, and when the second course, consisting of a boiled chicken, faced by a piece of bacon reposing on a mat of boiled cabbage, appeared, the fact that one of the dishes was cracked confronted her with the equally obvious fact that the cook in her large-hearted way had sent up the chicken with the black legs unremoved.

It seemed to Phyl’s vision—now thoroughly distorted—that the eyes of the stranger were everywhere, cool, critical, and amused; so obsessed was her mind with this idea that it could take no hold upon the conversation. Pinckney was talking of the States; he might just as well have been talking about 22 Timbuctoo for all the impression he made on her with her unfortunate head filled with cracked dishes, chickens’ black legs, Byrne’s awkwardness and the suddenly remembered crumb-brush.

It was twenty years old and it had lost half of its bristles in the service of the Berknowles who had clung to it with a warm-hearted tenacity purely Irish.

“Sure, that old brush is a disgrace to the table,” was the comment Phyl’s father had made on it once, just as though he were casually referring to some form of the Inevitable such as the state of the weather.

The disgrace had not been removed and it was coming to the table, now, in the hand of Byrne. Phyl watched the crumbs being swept up, she watched the cloth being taken off and the wine and dessert placed in the good old fashion, on the polished mahogany, then leaving the gentlemen to their wine, she retired upstairs and to her bedroom.

She felt angry with Byrne, with the cook, with Mr. Hennessey and with herself. Plenty of people had been to dinner at Kilgobbin, yet she had never felt ashamed of the ménage till now. This stranger from over the water, notwithstanding her dislike for him, had the power to disturb her mind as few other people had disturbed it in the course of her short life. Other people had put her into worse tempers, other people had made her dislike them, but no one else had ever roused her into this feeling of unrest, this criticism of her belongings, this irritation against everything including herself.

Her bedroom was a big room with two windows 23 looking upon the park; it was almost in black darkness, but the windows shewed in dim, grey oblongs and she made her way to one of them, took her place in the window-seat and pressed her forehead against the glass. The rain had ceased and the clouds had risen, but the moon was not yet high enough to pierce them. Phyl could just make out the black masses of the distant woods and the movement of the near fir-trees shaking their tops like hearse plumes to the wind.

The park always fascinated her when it was like that, almost blotted out by night. These shapes in the dark were akin to shapes in the fire in their power over the fancy of the gazer. Phyl as she watched them was thinking: not one word had this stranger said about her dead father.

Mr. Berknowles had died in his house and this man had buried him in Charleston; he had come over here to Ireland on the business of the will and he had come into the dead man’s house as unconcernedly as though it were an hotel, and he had laughed and talked about all sorts of things with never a word of Him.

If Phyl had thought over the matter, she might have seen that, perhaps, this silence of Pinckney’s was the silence of delicacy, not of indifference, but she was not in the humour to hold things up to the light of reason. She had decided to dislike this man and when the Mascarenes came to a decision of this sort they were hard to be shaken from it.

She had decided to dislike him long before she saw him. 24

What Phyl really wanted now was perhaps a commonsense female relative to stiffen her mind against fancies and give her a clear-sighted view of the world, but she had none. Philip Berknowles was the last of his race, the few distant connections he had in Ireland lived away in the south and were separated from him by the grand barrier that divides Ireland into two opposing camps—Religion. Berknowles was a Protestant, the others Papists.

Phyl, as she sat watching saw, now, the line of the woods strengthen against the sky; the moon was breaking through the clouds and its light increasing minute by minute shewed the parkland clearly defined, the leafless oaks standing here and there, oaks that of a summer afternoon stood in ponds of shadow, the clumps of hazel, and away to the west the great dip, a little valley haunted by a fern-hidden river, a glen mysterious and secretive, holding in its heart the Druids’ altar.

The Druids’ altar was the pride of Kilgobbin Park; it consisted of a vast slab of stone supported on four other stones, no man knew its origin, but popular imagination had hung it about with all sorts of gruesome fancies. Victims had been slaughtered there in the old days, a vein of ironstone in the great slab had become the bloodstain of men sacrificed by the Druids; the glen was avoided by day and there were very few of the country people round about who would have entered it by night. Phyl, who had no fear of anything, loved the place; she had known it from childhood and had been accustomed to take her worries and bothers there and bury them. 25

It was a friend, places can become friends and, sometimes, most terrific enemies.

The girl listening, now, heard voices below stairs. Hennessey and his companion were evidently leaving the dining-room and crossing the hall to the library. Going out on the landing she caught a glimpse of them as they stood for a moment looking at the trophies in the hall, then they went into the library, the door was closed, and Phyl came downstairs.

In the hall she slipped on a pair of goloshes over her thin shoes, put on a cloak and hat and came out of the front door, closing it carefully behind her.

To put it in her own words, she couldn’t stand the house any longer. Not till this very evening did she feel the great change that her father’s death had brought in her life, not till now did she fully know that her past was dead as well as her father, and not till she had left the house did the feeling come to her that Pinckney was to prove its undertaker.

There was something alike cold and fateful in the impression that this man had made upon her, an extraordinary impression, for it would be impossible to imagine anything further removed from the ideas of Coldness and Fate than the idea of the cheerful and practical Pinckney. However, there it was, her heart was chilled with the thought of him and the instinctive knowledge that he was going to make a great alteration in her life.

She crossed the gravelled drive to the grass sward beyond. The night had altered marvellously; nearly every vestige of cloud had vanished, blown away by 26 the wind. The wind and the moon had the night between them and the air was balmy as the air of summer.

Phyl turned and looked back at the house with all its windows glittering in the moonlight, then she struck across the grass now almost dried by the wind.

Phyl had something of the night bird in her composition. She had often been out long before dawn to pick up night lines in the river and she knew the woods by dark as well as by day. She was out now for nothing but a breath of fresh air, she did not intend to stay more than ten minutes, and she was on the point of returning to the house when a cry from the woods made her pause.

One might have fancied that some human being was crying out in agony, but Phyl knew that it was a fox, a fox caught in a trap. She was confirmed in her knowledge by the barking of its mates; they would be gathered round the trapped one lending all the help they could—with their voices.

The girl did not pause to think; forgetting that she had no weapon with which to put the poor beast out of its misery, and no means of freeing it without being bitten, she started off at a run in the direction of the sound, entering the woods by a path that led through a grove of hazel; leaving this path she struck westward swift as an Indian along the road of the call.

Her mother’s people had been used to the wilds, and Phyl had more than a few drops of tracker blood in her veins; better than that, she had a trace of the wood instinct that leads a man about the forest and 27 makes him able to strike a true line to the west or east or north or south without a compass.

The trees were set rather sparsely here and the moonlight shewed vistas of withered fern. The wind had fallen, and in the vast silence of the night this place seemed unreal as a dream. The fox had evidently succeeded in liberating itself from the trap, for its cries had ceased, cut off all of a sudden as though by a closing door.

Phyl paused to listen and look around her. Through all the night from here, from there, came thin traces of sound, threads fretting the silence. The trotting of a horse a mile away on the Arranakilty road, the bark of a dog from near the Round House, the shaky bleat of a sheep from the fold at Ross’ farm came distinct yet diminished almost to vanishing point. It was like listening to the country sounds of Lilliput. With these came the vaguest whisper of flowing water, broken now and again by a little shudder of wind in the leafless branches of the trees.

“He’s out,” said Phyl to herself. She was thinking of the fox. She knew that the trap must be somewhere about and she guessed who had set it. Rafferty, without a doubt, for only the other day he had been complaining of the foxes having raided the chickens, but there was no use in hunting for the thing by this light and without any indication of its exact whereabouts, so she struck on, determined to return to the house by the more open ground leading through the Druids’ glen.

She had been here before in the very early morning 28 before sunrise on her way to the river, Rafferty following her with the fish creel, but she had never seen the place like this with the moonlight on it and she paused for a moment to rest and think, taking her seat on a piece of rock by the cromlech.

Phyl, despite her American strain, was very Irish in one particular: though cheerful and healthy and without a trace of morbidness in her composition, she, still, was given to fits of melancholy—not depression, melancholy. It is in the air of Ireland, the moist warm air that feeds the shamrock and fills the glens with soft-throated echoes and it is in the soul of the people.

Phyl, seated in this favourite spot of hers, where she had played as a child on many a warm summer’s afternoon, gave herself over to the moonlight and the spirit of Recollection.

She had forgotten Pinckney, and the strange disturbance that he had occasioned in her mind had sunk to rest; she was thinking of her father, of all the pleasant days that were no more—she remembered her dolls, the wax ones with staring eyes, dummies and effigies compared with that mysterious, soulful, sinful, frightful, old rag doll with the inked face, true friend in affliction and companion in joy, and even more, a Ju-ju to be propitiated. That thing had stirred in her a sort of religious sentiment, had caused in her a thrill of worship real, though faint, far more real than the worship of God that had been cultivated in her mind by her teachers. The old Druid stone had affected her child’s mind in somewhat the same way, but with a difference. The 29 Ju-ju was a familiar, she had even beaten and punched it when in a temper; the stone had always filled her with respect.

There are some people the doors of whose minds are absolutely closed on the past; we call them material and practical people; there are others in which the doors of division are a wee crack open, or even ajar, so that their lives are more or less haunted by whisperings from that strange land we call yesterday.

In some of the Burmese and Japanese children the doors stand wide open so that they can see themselves as they were before they passed through the change called death, but the Westerners are denied this. In Phyl’s mind as a child one might suppose that through the doors ajar some recollections of forgotten gods once worshipped had stolen, and that the power of the Ju-ju and the Druids’ stone lay in their power of focussing those vague and wandering threads of remembrance.

To-night this power seemed regained, for she passed from the contemplation of concrete images into a vague and pleasant state, an absolute idleness of the intellect akin to that which people call daydreaming.

With her cloak wrapped round her she sat, elbows on knees and her chin in the palms of her hands giving herself up to Nothing before starting to resume her way to the house.

Sitting like this she suddenly started and turned. Some one had called her:

“Phylice!” 30

For a moment she fancied that it was a real voice, and then she knew that it was only a voice in her head, one of those sounds we hear when we are half asleep, one of those hails from dreamland that come now as the ringing of a bell that never has rung, or the call of a person who has never spoken.

She rose up and resumed her way, striking along the glen to the open park, yet still the memory of that call pursued her.


It seemed Mr. Pinckney’s voice, it was his voice, she was sure of that now, and she amused herself by wondering why his voice had suddenly popped up in her head. She had been thinking about him more than about any one else that evening and that easily accounted for the matter. Fancy had mimicked him—yet why did Fancy use her name and clothe it in Pinckney’s voice?—and it was distinctly a call, the call of a person who wishes to draw another person’s attention.

Pinckney had never called her by her name and she felt almost irritated at the impertinence of the phantom voice in doing so.

This same irritation made her laugh when she realised it. Then the idea that Byrne might lock the hall door before she could get back drove every other thought away and she began to run, her shadow running before her over the moonlit grass.

Half way across the sward, which was divided from the grass land proper by a Ha-ha, she heard the stable clock striking eleven.



When Phyl withdrew from the dining-room, Hennessey filled his glass with port, Pinckney, who took no wine, lit a cigarette and the two men drew miles closer to one another in conversation.

They were both relieved by the withdrawal of the girl, Hennessey because he wanted to talk business, Pinckney because her presence had affected him like a wet blanket.

His first impression of Phyl had been delightful, then, little by little, her stiffness and seeming lifelessness had communicated themselves to him. It seemed to him that he had never met a duller or more awkward schoolgirl. His mind was of that quick order which requires to be caught in the uptake rapidly in order to shine. Slowness, coldness, dulness or hesitancy in others depressed him just as dull weather depressed him. He did not at all know with what a burning interest his arrival had been awaited, or the effect that his voice had produced and his first appearance. He did not know how the dull schoolgirl had weighed him in a mysterious balance which she herself did not quite comprehend and had found him slightly wanting. Neither could he tell the extent of the paralyses produced in that same mind of hers by the cracked china, the old dish cover, 32 Byrne’s awkwardness, and the deboshed crumb-brush.

He should have kept to his first impression of her, for first impressions are nearly always right; he should have sought for the reason of so much charm proving charmless, so much positive attraction proving so negative in effect. But he did not. He just took her as he found her and was glad she was gone.

“And I believe,” said Hennessey, “the South is different now. It used to be all cotton before the war.”

“Oh, no,” said Pinckney. “Before the war there was a lot of cotton grown but we used to grow other things as well, we used to feed ourselves, the plantation was economically independent. The war broke us. We had to get money, so we grew cotton as cotton was never grown before; the South became a great sheet of cotton. You see, cotton is the only crop you can mortgage, so we grew cotton and mortgaged it. Of course the old-time planter is gone, everything is done now by companies, and that’s the devil of it—”

Pinckney was silent for a moment and sat staring before him as though he were looking at the Past.

“Companies, you see, don’t grow sunflowers to look at, don’t grow trees to shade them, don’t make love in a wild and extravagant manner and shoot other companies for crossing them in their affections—don’t play the guitar, in short.

“Companies don’t breed trotting horses and wear panama hats and put flowers in their buttonholes. The old Planter used to do these things and a lot 33 of others. He was a bit of a patriarch in his way, too—well, he’s gone and more’s the pity. He’s like an old house pulled down. No one can ever build it again as it was. The South’s a big industrial region now. Not only cotton—ore and coal and machinery. We supply the North and East with pig-iron, machinery, God knows what. Berknowles was very keen on Southern industries, regularly bitten. He was talking of selling off here and coming to settle in Charleston when the illness took him— and that reminds me.”

He took a document from his pocket. “This is the will. I’ve kept it on my person since I started for here. It’s not the thing to trust to a handbag. It’s in correct form, I believe. Temperley, our solicitor, made it out for him and it leaves everything to the girl when she’s twenty—but just read it and see what you think.”

He lit another cigarette whilst Hennessey, putting on his glasses and pushing his dessert plate away, spread the will on the table.

Pinckney watched him as he read it. Hennessey was a new order of being to him. This easy-going, slipshod, garrulous gentleman, fond of his glass of wine, contrasted strangely with the typical lawyer of the States. Flushed and not in his business mood, the man of law cast his eyes over the document before him, reading bits of it here and there and seeming not inclined to bother himself by a concentration of his full energies on the matter.

Then, suddenly, his eyes became fixed on a paragraph which he re-read as though puzzled by the 34 meaning of it. Then he looked up at the other over his glasses.

“Why, what’s this?” said he. “He has made you Phyl’s guardian. You!

Pinckney laughed.

“Yes, that was the chief thing that brought me over. He has made me her guardian, till she’s twenty, and he made me promise to look after her interests and see to all business arrangements. He said he had no near relations in Ireland, and he said that he’d sooner trust the devil than the few relatives he had, that they were Papists—that is to say Roman Catholics—he seemed to fear them like the deuce and their influence on the girl. I couldn’t understand him. I’ve never seen any harm in Roman Catholics; there are loads in the States and they seem to be just as good citizens as the others, better, for they seem to stick tighter by their religion. Anyhow, there you are. Berknowles had them on the brain and nothing would do him but I must come over to look after the business myself.”

Hennessey, with his finger on the will, had been staring at Pinckney during this. He looked down now at the document and then up again.

“But you—her guardian—why, it’s absurd,” said he. “You aren’t old enough to be a guardian, why, Lord bless my soul, what’ll people be doing next? A young chap like you to be the guardian of a girl like Phyl—why, it’s not proper.”

“Not only am I to be her guardian,” said Pinckney with a twinkle in his eyes, “but she’s to come and live under my roof at Charleston. I promised Berknowles 35 that—He was dying, you see, and one can refuse nothing to a dying man.”

Hennessey rose up in an abstracted sort of way, went to the sideboard, poured himself out a whisky and soda, took a sip, and sat down again.

“Extraordinary, isn’t it?” said Pinckney, tapping the ash off his cigarette. “All the same, you need not be worried at the impropriety of the business; there’s none, nothing improper could live in the same house with my aunt, Maria Pinckney. Vernons belongs to her though I live there.”

“Vernons,” put in the other. “What’s that?”

“It’s the name of our house in Charleston. It’s mine, really, but my father left it to Maria to live in; it comes to me at her death. I don’t want that house at all. I want her to keep it forever, but it’s such a pleasant old place, I like to live there instead of buying a house of my own. Vernons isn’t exactly a house, it’s more like a family tree—hollow—with all the ancestors inside instead of hanging on the branches.”

“But why on earth didn’t Berknowles make your aunt guardian to the girl?” asked Hennessey. “There’d have been some sense in that—a middle-aged woman—”

“I beg your pardon,” said Pinckney, “my aunt is not a middle-aged woman, she’s not fifteen.”

“Not what?” said Hennessey.

“Not fifteen—in years of discretion, though she’s over seventy as time goes. She has no knowledge at all of what money is or what money means—she flings it away, doesn’t spend it—just flings it away 36 on anything and everything but herself. I don’t believe there’s a charity in the States that hasn’t squeezed her, or a beggar-man in the South that hasn’t banked on her. She was sent into the world to grow flowers and look after stray dogs and be robbed by hoboes; she has been nearly seventy years at it and she doesn’t know she has ever been robbed. She’s not a fool by any manner of means, and she rules the servants at Vernons in the good old patriarchal way, but she’s lost where money is concerned. That’s why Berknowles wanted me to look after the girl’s interests. As for anything else, I guess Maria Pinckney will be the real guardian.”

“Well, I don’t know,” said Hennessey. He was confused by all these new ideas shot into his mind suddenly like this after dinner, he could see that Pinckney was genuine enough, all the same it irritated him to think that Philip Berknowles should have chosen a youth like this to be second father to Phyl. What was the matter with himself, Hennessey? Hadn’t he a fine house in Merrion Square and a wife who would have treated the girl like a daughter?

“Well, I don’t know,” said he. “It’s not for me to dispute the wishes of a client, but I’ve known Phyl since she was born and I’ve known her father since we were together at Trinity College and I’d have taken it more handsome if he’d left the looking after of her to me.”

“I wonder he didn’t,” said Pinckney. “He spoke of you a good deal to me, spoke of you as his best friend; all the same he seemed set on the idea of us 37 taking care of the girl. He fell in love with Charleston and he cottoned to us; then, of course, there were the family reasons. Phyl’s mother was a Mascarene; my mother was her mother’s first cousin. Vernons belonged to the Mascarenes, my mother brought it to my father as part of her wedding portion. The Pinckneys’ old house was lost to us in the smash up after the war. So, you see, Phyl ought to be as much at home at Vernons as I am. Funny, isn’t it, how things get mixed up and old family houses change hands?”

“And when do you want to take her away?” asked Hennessey.

“Upon my word, I’ve never thought of that,” replied the other. “I want to see things settled up here and to go over the accounts with you. Berknowles said the house had better be let—I should think it would be easy to find a good tenant—then I want to go to London on business and get back as quick as possible. She need not come back with me, it would scarcely give her time to get things ready. There’s a Mrs. Van Dusen, a friend of ours who lives in New York, she’s coming over in a month or so and Phyl might come with her as far as New York. It’s all plain sailing after that.”

“Well,” said Hennessey, folding up the will and putting it in his pocket. “I suppose it’s all for the best, but it’s hard lines for a man to lose his best friend and see a good old estate like Kilgobbin taken off to the States—Oh, you needn’t tell me, if Phyl goes out there she’s done for as far as Ireland is concerned. Sure, they never come back, the people 38 that go there, and if she does come back it’ll be with an American husband and he master of Kilgobbin. I know what America is, it never lets go of the man or woman it catches hold of.”

“You’re not far wrong there,” said Pinckney. “You see, life is set to a faster pace in America than over here and once you learn to step that pace you feel coming back here as if you were living in a country where people are hobbled. At least that’s my experience. Then the air is different. There’s somehow a feeling of morning in America that goes through the whole day—almost—here, afternoon begins somewhere about eleven.”

Hennessey yawned, and the two men, rising from the table, left the room and crossed the hall to the library.

Here, after a while, Hennessey bade the other good night and departed for bed, whilst Pinckney, leaning back in his armchair, fell into a lazy and contemplative mood, his eyes wandering from point to point.

All this business was very new to him. Pinckney had inherited his father’s brains as well as his money. He had discovered that a large fortune requires just as much care and attention as a large garden and that a man can extract just as much interest and amusement and the physical health that comes from both, out of money-tending as out of flower and vegetable growing. Knowing all about cotton and nearly everything about wheat, he managed occasionally to do a bit of speculative dealing without the least danger of burning his fingers. Self-reliant and self-assured, 39 knowing his road and all its turnings, he had moved through life up to this with the ease of a well-oiled and almost frictionless mechanism.

But here was a new thing of which he had never dreamed. Here was another destiny suddenly thrust into his charge and another person’s property to be conserved and dealt with. Never, never, did he dream when acceding to Berknowles’ request, of the troubles, little difficulties and causes of indecision that were preparing to meet him.

Up till now, one side of his character had been almost unknown to him. He had been quite unaware that he possessed a conscience most painfully sensitive with regard to the interests of others, a conscience that would prick him and poison his peace were he to leave even little things undone in the fulfilment of the trust he had undertaken so lightheartedly.

Possessing a keen eye for men he began to recognise now why Berknowles had not chosen the easy-going Hennessey to look after Phyl and her affairs, and he guessed, just by the little bit he had seen of Kilgobbin and the servants, the slipshoddedness and waste going on behind the scenes in the absence of a master and mistress.

Pinckney loathed waste as he loathed inefficiency and as he loathed dirt. They were all three brothers with Drink in his eyes and as he leaned back in the chair now, his gaze travelling about the room, he could not but perceive little things that would have brought exclamations from the soul of a careful housekeeper. The furniture had been upholstered, 40 or rather re-upholstered in leather some five years ago. There is nothing that cries out so much against neglect as leather, and the chairs and couch in the library of Kilgobbin, without exactly crying out, still told their tale. Some of the buttons were gone, and some of them hung actually by the thread in the last stage of departure. There was a tiny triangular rent in the leather of the armchair wherein Phyl had been sitting and another armchair wanted a castor. The huge Persian rug that covered the centre of the floor shewed marks left by cigar and cigarette ash, and under a Jacobean book-case in the corner were stuffed all sorts of odds and ends, old paper-backed novels, a pair of old shoes, a tennis racquet and a boxing glove—besides other things.

Pinckney rose up, went to the book-case and placed his fingers on top of it, then he looked at his fingers and the bar of dust upon them, brushed his hand clean and came back to his chair by the fire. He heard the stable clock striking eleven. The sound of the wind that had been raging outside all during dinner time had died away and the sounds of the house made themselves manifest, the hundred stealthy accountable and unaccountable little sounds that night evolves from an old house set in the stillness of the country. Just as the night jasmine gives up its perfume to the night, so does an old house its past in the form of murmurs and crackings and memories and suggestions. Notwithstanding Dunn’s attentions there were rats alive in the cellars and under the boarding—and mice; the passages leading to the kitchen premises made a whispering gallery where 41 murderers seemed consulting together if the scullery window were forgotten and left open—as it usually was, and boards in the uneven flooring that had been preparing for the act for weeks and months would suddenly “go off with a bang,” a noise startling in the dead of night as the crack of a pistol, and produced, heaven knows how, but never by daylight.

Even Pinckney, who did not believe in ghosts, became aware as he sat now by the fire that the old house was feeling for him to make him creep, feeling for him with its old disjointed fingers and all the artfulness of inanimate things.

He was aware that Sir Nicholas Berknowles was looking down at him with the terrible patient gaze of a portrait, and he returned the gaze, trying to imagine what manner of man this might have been and how he had lived and what he had done in those old days that were once real sunlit days filled with people with real voices, hearts, and minds.

A gentle creak as though a light step had pressed upon the flooring of the hall brought his mind back to reality and he was rising from his chair to retire for the night when a sound from outside the window made him sit down again. It was the sound of a step on the gravel path, a step stealthy and light, a real sound and no contraption of the imagination.

The idea of burglars sprang up in his mind, but was dismissed; that was no burglar’s footstep—and yet! He listened. The sound had ceased and now came a faint rubbing as of a hand feeling for the window followed by the sharp rapping of a knuckle on the glass. 42

“Hullo,” cried Pinckney, jumping to his feet and approaching the shuttered window. “Who’s there?”

“It’s me,” said a voice. “I’m locked out. Byrne’s bolted the front door. Go to the hall door, will you, please, and let me in?”

“Phyl,” said Pinckney to himself. “Good heavens!” Then to the other, “I’m coming.”

Byrne had left a lamp lighted in the hall and the guest’s candlestick waiting for him on the table. The lamp was sufficient to show him the executive side of the big front door that had been nearly battered in in the time of the Fenians and still possessed the ponderous locks and bars of a past day when the tenants of Kilgobbin had fought the pikemen of Arranakilty and Rupert Berknowles had hung seventeen rebels, no less, on the branches of the big oak “be the gates.”

Pinckney undid bolt and bar, turned the key in the great lock and flung the door open, disclosing Phyl standing in the moonlight. The contrast between the forbidding and ponderous door and the charming little figure against which it had stood as a barrier might have struck him had his mind been less astonished. As it was he could think of nothing but the strangeness of the business in hand.

“Where on earth have you been?” said he.

“Out in the woods,” said Phyl, entering quite unconcerned and removing her cloak. “A fox got trapped in the woods and I went to let it out and couldn’t find it, then that old fool Byrne locked the door; lucky you were up. I saw the light in the 43 library shining through a crack in the shutters and knocked.”

Pinckney was putting up the bar and sliding the bolts. He said nothing. Had Phyl been another girl, he might have laughed and joked over the matter, but care of Phyl’s well-being was now part of his business in life and that consideration just checked his speech. There was nothing at all wrong in the affair, and never for a moment did he dream of making the slightest remonstrance; still, the unwisdom of a young girl wandering about in the woods at night after trapped foxes was a patent fact which disturbed the mind of this guardian unto dumbness.

Phyl, who was as sensitive to impressions as a radiometer to light, noted the silence of the other and resented it as she hung up her old hat and cloak. She knew nothing of the true facts of the case, she looked on Pinckney as a being almost of her own age, and that he should dare to express disapproval of an act of hers not concerning him, even by silence, was an intolerable insult. She knew that she loathed him now.—Prig!

This was the first real meeting of these two and Fate, with the help of Irish temper and the Pinckney conscience, was making a fine fiasco of it.

Phyl, having hung up the hat and coat, turned without a word, marched into the library and finding the book she had been reading that day, put it under her arm.

“Good night,” said she as she passed him in the hall.

“Good night,” he replied. 44

He watched her disappearing up the stairs, stood for a moment irresolute, and then went into the library. He knew he had offended her and he knew exactly how he had offended her. There are silences that can be more hurting than speech—yet what could he have said? He rummaged in his mind to find something he might have said and could find nothing more appropriate than a remark about the weather and the fineness of the night. Yet a bald and decrepit remark like that would have been as bad almost as silence, for it would have ignored the main point at issue—the night-wandering of his ward.

He sat down again for a moment in the armchair by the fireplace and began to wrestle with the position in which he found himself. This was a small business, but if Phyl in the future was to do things that he did not approve of it would be his plain duty to remonstrate with her. An odious position for youth to be placed in. How she would loathe and hate him!

Pinckney, though a man of the world in many ways and a good business man, was still at heart a boy just as young as Phyl; even in years he was very little older than she, and the boy side of his mind was in full revolt at the job set before him by fate.

Then he came to a resolution.

“She can do jolly well what she pleases,” said he to himself, “without my interference. Aunt Maria can attend to that. My business will be to look after her property and keep sharks off it. I’m not going 45 to set up in business to tell a girl what she ought or oughtn’t to do—that’s a woman’s job.”

Satisfied with this seeming solution of the difficulty he went to bed.

Meanwhile, Phyl, having marched off with the book under her arm found, when she reached her room, that she had forgotten a matchbox, and, too proud to return to the hall for one, went to bed in the dark.

She lay awake for an hour, her mind obsessed by thoughts of this man who had suddenly stepped into her life, and who possessed such a strange power to disturb her being and fill it with feelings of unrest, irritation and, strangely enough, a vague attraction.

The attraction one might fancy the iron to feel for the distant magnet, or the floating stick for the far-off whirlpool.

Then she fell asleep and dreamed that they were at dinner and Mr. Hennessey was waiting at table. Her father was there and, before the dream converted itself into something equally fatuous she heard Pinckney’s voice, also in the dream; he seemed looking for her in the hall and he was calling to her, “Phyl—Phyl!”



Next morning came with a burst of sunshine and a windy, cloudless sky. Pinckney, dressing with his window open, could see the park with the rooks wheeling and cawing over the trees, whilst the warm wind brought into the room all sorts of winter scents on the very breath of summer.

This rainy land where the snow rarely comes has all sorts of surprises of climate and character. Nothing is truly logical in Ireland, not even winter. That is what makes the place so delightful to some minds and so perplexing to others.

Hennessey was staying for a day or two to go over accounts and explain the working of the estate to Pinckney.

He was in the hall when the latter came down, and gave him good morning.

“Where’s your mistress?” said Hennessey to old Byrne, as they took their seats at the breakfast table.

“Faith, she’s been out since six,” said Byrne. “She came down threatenin’ to skin Rafferty alive for layin’ fox thraps in the woods, then she had a bite of bread and butter and a cup of tea Norah made for her, and off she went with Rafferty to hunt out the thraps and take them up. It’s little she cares for breakfast.” 47

“I was the same way myself when I was her age,” said Hennessey to Pinckney. “Up at four in the morning and out fishing in Dublin Bay—it’s well to be young.”

“Look here,” said the young man, as Byrne left the room, “she was out till eleven last night in the woods; she knocked me up as I was sitting in the library and I let her in. I don’t see anything wrong in the business, but all the same, it’s not a particularly safe proceeding and I suppose a mother or father would have jawed her—I couldn’t. I suppose I showed by my manner that I didn’t approve of her being out so late, for she seemed in a huff as she went up to bed. My position is a bit difficult, but I’m hanged if I’m going to do the heavy father or careful mother business. If she was only a boy, I could talk to her like a Dutch uncle, but I don’t know anything about girls. I wish—”

Pinckney’s wish remained forever unexpressed, for at the moment the door opened and in came Phyl.

Her face was glowing with the morning air and she seemed to have forgotten the business of the night before as she greeted Pinckney and the lawyer and took her place at the table.

“Phyl,” said the lawyer, half jocularly, “here’s Mr. Pinckney been complaining that you were wandering about all night in the woods, knocking him up to let you in at two o’clock in the morning.”

Phyl, who was helping herself to bacon, looked up at Pinckney.

“Oh, you cad,” said her eyes. Then she spoke: 48

“I came in at eleven. If I had known, I would have called up Byrne or one of the servants to let me in.”

Pinckney could have slain Hennessey.

“Good gracious,” he said. “I wasn’t complaining. I only just mentioned the fact.”

“The fact that I was out till two,” said Phyl, with another upward glance of scorn.

“I never said any such thing. I said eleven.”

“It was my loose way of speaking; but, sure, what’s the good of getting out of temper?” put in Hennessey. “Mr. Pinckney wasn’t meaning anything, but you see, Phyl, it’s just this way, your father has made him your guardian.”

“My what!” cried the girl.

Oh, Lord!” said Pinckney, in despair at the blundering way of the other. Then finding himself again and the saving vein of humour, without which man is just a leaden figure:

“Yes, that’s it. I’m your guardian. You must on no account go out without my permission, or cough or sneeze without a written permit—Oh, Phyl, don’t be thinking nonsense of that sort. I am your guardian, it seems, and by your father’s special request, but you are absolutely free to do as you like.”

“A nice sort of guardian,” put in Hennessey with a grin.

“I am only, really, guardian of your money and your interests,” went on the other, “and your welfare. When you came in last night late, I was a bit taken aback and I thought—as a matter of fact, I thought it might be dangerous being out alone in this 49 wild part of the country so late at night, but I did not want to interfere; you can understand, can’t you? What I want you to get out of your mind is, that I am that odious thing, a meddling person. I’m not.”

Phyl was very white. She had risen from the table and was at the window.

Here was her dream come true of the bearded American who had suddenly appeared to claim her and Kilgobbin and the servants and everything.

Pinckney had not a beard, but he was an American and he had come to claim everything. The word guardian carried such a force and weight and was so filled with fantastic possibilities to the mind of Phyl, that she scarcely heard his soft words and excuses.

Phyl had the Irish trick of running away with ideas and embroidering the most palpable truths with fancies. It was an inheritance from her father, and she stood by the window now unable to speak, with the word “Guardian” ringing in her ears and the idea pressing on her mind like an incubus.

Hennessey had risen up. He was the first to break silence.

“There’s no use in meeting troubles half way,” said he vaguely. “You and Phyl will get along all right when you know each other better. Come out, the two of you, and we’ll go round the grounds and you will be able to see for yourself the state of the house and what repairs are wanting.”

“One moment,” said Pinckney. “I want to tell Phyl something—I’m going to call you Phyl because I’m your guardian—d’you mind?” 50

“No,” said Phyl, “you can call me anything you like, I suppose.”

“I’m not going to call you anything I like—just Phyl— Well, then, I want to tell you what we have to do. It’s not my wishes I have to carry out but your father’s. He wanted to let this house.”

“Let Kilgobbin!”

“Yes, that is what he said. He wanted to let it to a good tenant who would look after it till you are of age. I think he was right. You see, you could not live here all alone, and if the place was shut up it would deteriorate.”

“It would go to wrack and ruin,” said Hennessey.

“And the servants?” said Phyl.

“We will look after them,” said Pinckney, “the new tenant might take them on; if not, we’ll give them time to get new places.”

“Byrne’s been here before I was born,” said the girl, with dry lips, “so has Mrs. Driscoll. They are part of the place; it would ruin their lives to send them away.”

“Well,” said Pinckney, “I don’t want to be the ogre to ruin their lives; you can do anything you like about them. If the new tenant didn’t take them, you might pension them. I want you to be perfectly happy in your mind and I want you to feel that though I am, so to speak, the guardian of your money, still, that money is yours.”

She was beginning to understand now that not only was he striving to soothe her feelings and propitiate her, but that he was very much in earnest in this 51 business, and crowding through her mind came a great wave of revulsion against herself.

Phyl’s nature was such that whilst always ready to fly into wrath and easily moved to bitter resentment, one touch of kindness, one soft word, had the power to disarm her.

One soft word from an antagonist had the power to wound her far more than a dozen words of bitterness.

Filled now with absolutely superfluous self-reproach, she stood for a moment unable to speak. Then she said, raising her eyes to his:

“I am sure you mean to do what is for the best.—It was stupid of me—”

“Not a bit,” said the other, cheerfully. “I want to do the things that will make you happy—that’s all. I’m a business man and I know the value of money. Money is just worth the amount of happiness it brings.”

“Faith, that’s true,” said Hennessey, who had taken his seat again and was in the act of lighting a cigar.

“When I was a boy,” went on the other. “I was always kept hard up by my father. It was like pulling gum teeth to get the price of a fishing rod out of him. When I think of all the fun I might have bought with a few dollars, it makes me wild. You can’t buy fun when you get old; you may buy an opera house or a yacht, but you can’t buy the real stuff that makes life worth living.”

Phyl glanced out of the window at the park, then 52 as though she had found some inspiration there, she turned to Pinckney.

“If you don’t mind about the money, then why don’t you let me live here instead of letting the place? I can live here by myself and I would be happy here. I won’t be happy if I leave it.”

“Well,” said Pinckney, “there’s your father’s wish, first of all.”

“I’m sure if he knew how I felt, he wouldn’t mind,” said Phyl mournfully, turning her gaze again to the park.

“On top of that,” went on Pinckney, “there’s—your age. Phyl, it wouldn’t ever do; it’s not I that am saying it, it’s custom, the world, society.”

Phyl, like the hooked salmon that has taken the gaudy fly, felt a check and recognised that a Power had her in hand, recognised in the light-going and fair-speaking Pinckney something of adamant, a will not to be broken or bent.

She felt for a moment a revolt against herself for having fallen to the lure and allowed herself to come to friendly terms with him. Then this feeling faded a bit. The very young are very weak in the face of constituted authority—besides, there was always at the back of Pinckney her father’s wish.

“And then again, on top of that,” he went on, “there’s the question of your coming to live with us; your father wished it.”

“In America!” cried Phyl. “Do you mean I am to live in America?”

“Well, we live there; why not? It’s not a bad place to live in—and what else are you to do?” 53

She could not answer him. This time she saw that the bogey man had got her and no mistake. America to her seemed as far as the moon and far less familiar. If Pinckney had declared that it was necessary for her to die, she would have been a great deal more frightened, but the prospect would not have seemed much more desolate and forbidding and final.

He saw at once the trouble in her mind and guessed the cause. He had a rare intuition for reading minds, and it seemed to him he could read Phyl’s as easily as though the outside of her head were clear glass—he had cause to modify this cocksure opinion later on.

“Don’t worry,” he said. “If you don’t like America when you see it, you can come back to Ireland. I daresay we can arrange something; anyhow, don’t let us meet troubles half way.”

“When am I to go?” said Phyl.

“Sure, Phyl, you can stay as long as you like with us,” said Mr. Hennessey. “The doors of 10, Merrion Square, are always open to you, and never will they be shut on you except behind your back.”

Pinckney laughed; and a servant coming in to clear the breakfast things, Hennessey led the way from the room to show Pinckney the premises.



They crossed the hall, and passing through a green-baize covered door went down a passage that led to the kitchen.

“This is the housekeeper’s room,” said Hennessey, pointing to a half open door, “and the servants’ hall is that door beyond. This is the kitchen.”

They paused for a moment in the great old-fashioned kitchen, with an open range capable of roasting a small ox, one might have fancied. Norah, the cook, was busy in the scullery with her sleeves tucked up, and under the table was seated Susie Gallagher, a small and grubby hanger-on engaged in the task of washing potatoes. The potatoes were beside her on the floor and she was washing them in a tin basin of water with the help of an old nail-brush.

There was a horse-shoe hung up, for luck, on the wall over the range, and a pile of dinner plates, from last night’s dinner and still unwashed, stood on the dresser, where also stood a half-bottle of Guinness’ stout and a tumbler; an old setter bitch lay before the fire and a jackdaw in a wicker cage set up a yell at the sight of the visitors, that brought Norah out of the scullery to receive them, a broad smile on her face and her arms tucked up in her apron.

“He always yells like that at the sight of tramps or stray people about,” apologised the cook. “He’s 55 better than a watch-dog. Hold your tongue, you baste; don’t you know your misthress when you see her?”

“Rafferty caught him in the park,” said Phyl, “and cut his tongue with a sixpence so as to make him able to speak.”

They left the kitchen and came into the yard. A big tin can of refuse was standing by the kitchen door, and on top of all sorts of rubbish, potato peelings, cabbage stalks and so forth, lay the carcass of a boiled fowl. It was the fowl they had dined off the night before and it lay there just as it had gone from the table, that is to say, minus both wings and the greater part of the breast, but with the legs intact.

Pinckney stared at this sinful sight. Then he pointed to it.

“What’s that doing there?” he asked.

“Waitin’ to be took away be the stable boy, sor,” replied the cook, who had followed them to the door. “All the rubbish is took away in that ould can every mornin’.”

“Good God!” said Pinckney under his breath. The expression was shaken out of him, so to speak, and out of a pocket of his character which had never been fully explored, of whose existence, indeed, he was not particularly aware. This Irish expedition was to show him a good many things in life and in himself of which up to this he had been in ignorance. He had never been brought face to face with waste, bald waste without a hat on or covering of any sort, before. 56

“Haven’t you any poor people about here?” he asked.

“Hapes, sor.”

Pinckney was on the point of saying something more, but he checked himself, remembering that in the eyes of the servants he was here in the position of a guest.

He followed Hennessey across to the stable yard, where Larry, the groom, was washing the carriage that had fetched him from the station the night before.

“The servants won’t eat chicken,” said Phyl, in an apologetic way. She had noted everything and she guessed his thoughts. “They won’t eat game either—and they throw things away if they don’t like them—of course, it’s wasteful, but they do give things to the poor. Lots of poor people come here, every day nearly, but they don’t care for scraps—you see, it is insulting to give a poor person scraps, just as though they were animals. I remember the cook we had before Norah did it when she came first, and all the poor people stopped coming to the house. Said she ought to know better than to offer them the leavings.”


“Well, I don’t know,” said Phyl. “We’ve done it for hundreds of years.”

She closed her mouth in a way she had when she did not wish to pursue a subject further. Despite the fact that she had made friends with Pinckney, she was galled by his attitude of criticism. Guardian or no guardian, he was a stranger; relation or 57 no relation, he was a stranger, and what right had a stranger to dare to come and turn up his nose at the poor people or make remarks—he hadn’t said a word—about the wastefulness of the servants?

The redoubtable Rafferty was standing in the yard chewing a straw and watching Larry at work.

Rafferty was a man of genius, who had started as a helper and odd job person, and had risen to the position of factotum. He had ousted the Scotch gardener and insinuated a relation of his own in his place. There was scarcely a servant about the estate that was not a relation of Rafferty’s. Philip Berknowles had put up with a lot from Rafferty simply because Rafferty was an invaluable person in his way when not crossed. Everything went smoothly when the factotum was not interfered with. Cross him and there were immediate results ranging from ill-groomed horses to general unrest. He was a dark individual, half groom, half game-keeper in dress, a “wicked-looking divil,” according to the description of his enemies, and an exceedingly foxy-looking individual in the eyes of Pinckney.

“Rafferty,” said Mr. Hennessey, “I want to show this gentleman round. Let’s see the stables.”

Rafferty touched his cap and led the way, showing first the stalls and boxes where four or five horses were stabled, and then leading the way through the coach-house to the path from which opened the kitchen gardens.

They were immense and walled in with red brick, capable, one might fancy, of supplying the wants of three or four houses the size of Kilgobbin. 58

Pinckney noted this fact, also that the home farm to which the kitchen gardens led was apparently a prosperous and going little concern, with its fowls and chickens penned or loose, styes filled with grunting pigs, and turkeys gobbling and spreading their tails in the sun.

“Who looks after all this?” asked Pinckney.

“I do, sor,” replied Rafferty.

“What are the takings?”

“I beg your pardon, sor?”

“The profits, I mean. You sell these things, don’t you?”

“Kilgobbin isn’t a farm, sor, it’s a gintleman’s estate.”

Pinckney, not at all set back by this snub, turned and looked the factotum in the face.

“Just so,” said he, “but I’ve never heard of gentlemen growing pigs to look at; peacocks, maybe, but not pigs. However, we’ll have another look at the business later.”

He turned and they went on, Rafferty disturbed in his mind and much put about by the manner of the other in whom he began to divine something more than a casual guest, Phyl almost as much put out as Rafferty.

The idea that the factotum might have been robbing her father right and left never occurred to her; even if it had, it would not have softened the fact that a strange hand was at work in her old home turning over things, inspecting them, holding them up for comment.

She managed to drop behind as they left the farm 59 yard for the paddocks, then turning down the yew lane that led back to the house, she ran as though hounds were after her, reached the house, locked herself in her bedroom, and flung herself on the bed in a tempest of weeping, dragging a pillow over her head as if to shield herself from the blows that the world was aiming at her.

Phyl, without mother, brothers or sisters, had centred all her affection on her father and Kilgobbin; the servants, the place itself and all the things and people about it were part and parcel with her life, and the death of her father had intensified her love of the place and the people.

If Pinckney had only known, he might have put the business of the inspection of the property and the dealing with the servants into other hands, but Pinckney was young and full of energy and business ability; he was full of conscientiousness and the determination to protect his ward’s interests; he had scented a rogue in Rafferty, and at this very minute returning to the house with Hennessey, he was declaring his intention to make an overhaul of the working of the estate.

Rafferty was to appear before him and produce his accounts and make explanations. Mrs. Driscoll was to be examined as to the expenditure, etc.

He little knew the hornet’s nest into which he was about to poke his finger.



The grand inquisition began that evening after dinner—Phyl did not appear at dinner, alleging a headache—and Rafferty, summoned to the library, had to stand whilst Pinckney, seated at the table with a pen in his hand and a sheet of paper before him, went into the business of accounts.

Mark how the unexpected occurs in life. Rafferty, who had been pilfering for years, selling garden produce and keeping the profits, robbing corn from the corn bin in the stable, poaching and selling birds and ground game to a dealer in Arranakilty, receiving illicit commissions and so forth, had on the death of his master shaken off all restraint and prepared for a campaign of open plunder. The very last thing he could have imagined was the sudden appearance of an American business man on the scene, armed with absolute power and possessing the eye of a hawk.

“Your master asked me just before he died to look after this estate,” began Pinckney; “in fact, he has appointed me to act as guardian to Miss Berknowles, so I just want to see how things stand. Now, to begin with the horses. I want to know everything about the stables during the last—shall we say—six months. Who supplies the corn and the hay and the straw?” 61

“I’ve been gettin’ some from Faulkner of Arranakilty, sor, and some from Doyle of Bally-brack.”

“Don’t you grow any horse food on the estate?”

“We don’t grow no corn, sor.”

“Well, hay and straw?”

“You can’t get straw, sor, widout you grow corn.”

“I know that—but how about hay—surely you grow lots of grass?”

“We graze the grass, sor.”

“Do you let the grazing?”

“Well, sor, it’s this way; the masther was never very shtrict about the grazin’; we puts some of the horses out to grass, ourselves, and we lets poor folk have a bit of grazin’ now and then for their cattle, though master was never after makin’ money from the estate—”

“Just so. Have you the receipted bills for the fodder during the last six months?”

“Yes, sor. The master always sent me wid the money to pay the bills.”

“You have got the receipts?”

“The which, sor?”

“The bills receipted.”

“Bills, sure, what’s the good of keepin’ bills, sor, when the money’s paid. I b’lave they’re somewhere in an ould crock in the stable, at laste that’s where I saw thim last.”

“Well,” said Pinckney, “you can fetch them for me to-morrow morning, and now let’s talk about the garden.”

Rafferty, not knowing what Pinckney might discover 62 and so being unable to lie with confidence, had a very bad quarter of an hour over the garden.

Pinckney was not a man to press another unduly, nor was he a man to haggle about halfpence or worry servants over small peccadillos. He knew quite well that grooms are grooms, and will be so as long as men are men. He would never have bothered about little details had Rafferty been an ordinary servant. He recognised in Rafferty, not a servant to be dismissed or corrected, but an antagonist to be fought. It was the case of the dog and badger. Rafferty was Graft and all it implies, Pinckney was Straight Dealing. And Straight Dealing knew quite well that the only way to get Graft by the throat is to ferret out details, no matter how small.

So Rafferty was taken over details. He had to admit that he had “given away” some of the stuff from the garden and sold “a bit,” sending it up to Dublin for that purpose; but he was not to be caught.

“And the profits,” said Pinckney. “I suppose you handed them over to Mr. Berknowles?”

“No, sor; the master always tould me to keep any bit of money I might draa from anything I planted extra for me perkisites, that was the understandin’ I had with him.”

“And over the farmyard, I suppose anything you could make by selling any extra animals you planted was your perquisite?”

“Yes, sor.”

“Very well, Rafferty, that will do for to-night; get me those receipted bills to-morrow morning. 63 Come here at ten o’clock and we will have another talk.”

Rafferty went off, feeling more comfortable in his mind.

The word Perquisites might be made to cover a multitude of sins, but he would not have been so easy if he had known that Mrs. Driscoll had been called up immediately after his departure. Mrs. Driscoll was one of those terrible people who say nothing yet see everything; for the last year and a half she had been watching Rafferty; knowing it to be quite useless to report what she knew to her easy-going master, she had, none the less, kept on watching. As a result, she was now able to bring up a hard fact, a small hard fact more valuable than worlds of ductile evidence. Rafferty had “nicked”—it was the lady’s expression—a brand-new lawn mower.

“I declare to God, sir, I don’t know what he has took, for me eyes can’t be everywhere, but I do know he’s took the mower.”

“Why did you not tell Miss Phyl?”

“I did, sir, and she only said, ‘Oh, there must be a mistake—what would he be doin’ with it,’ says she. ‘Sellin’ it,’ says I. ‘Nonsense,’ says she. You see, sir, Rafferty and she has always been hand in glove, what with the fishin’ and shootin’, and the horses and such like, and she won’t hear a word against him.”

Mrs. Driscoll had called Rafferty a sly devil—he was.

At eleven o’clock next morning, Phyl, crossing the 64 stable yard with some sugar for the horses, met Rafferty. He was crying.

“Why, what on earth’s the matter, Rafferty?” asked the girl.

“I’ve got the shove, miss,” replied Rafferty, “after all me years of service, I’m put out to end me days in a ditch.”

“You mean you’re discharged!” she cried. “Was it Mr. Pinckney?”

“That’s him,” replied Rafferty. “Says he’s the masther of us all. ‘Out you get,’ says he, ‘or it’s I that’ll be callin’ a p’leeceman to put you,’ says he. Flung it in me face that I’d stolen a laan mower. Me that’s ben on the estate man and boy for forty year. A laan mower! Sure, Miss Phyl, what would I be doin’ with a laan mower?”

Phyl turned from him and ran to the house. Pinckney and Hennessey were seated in the library when the door burst open and in came Phyl. Her eyes were bright and her lips were pale.

“You told me you would keep all the servants,” said she. “Rafferty tells me you have dismissed him.”

“I should think I had,” said Pinckney lightly, and not gauging the mad disturbance of the other, “and it’s lucky for him I haven’t put him in prison.”

The word prison was all that was wanted to fire the mine. Pinckney stood for a moment aghast at the change in the girl.

“I hate you,” she cried, coming a step closer to him. “I loathe you—master of us all, are you? 65 Dare to touch any one here and I’ll burn the house down with my own hands—you—you—”

She paused for want of breath, her chest heaving and her hands clenched.

Then Pinckney exploded.

The good old fiery Pinckney blood was up. Oh, without any manner of doubt our ancestors are still able to speak, and it was old Roderick Pinckney—“Pepper Pinckney” was his nickname—that blazed out now. It was also the fire of youth answering the fire of youth.

“Damn it!” he cried. “I’ve come here to do my best—I don’t care—keep who you want—be robbed if you like it—I’m off—” He caught up all the sheets of paper he had been covering with figures and tore them across.

“Beast!” cried Phyl.

She rushed from the room and upstairs like a mad creature. The bang of her bedroom door closed the incident.

“Now don’t be taking on so,” said Hennessey. “You’ve both of you lost your temper.”

“Lost my temper—maybe. I’m going all the same. Right back to the States. I’m off to Dublin by the next train and you’d better come and finish the business there. You’d better have her to stay with you in Dublin. I don’t want to see her again. Anyhow, we’ll settle all that later.”

“Maybe that’s the best,” said Hennessey. “My wife will look after her till she’s ready to go to the States—if she wants to.” 66

“Please God she doesn’t,” replied the other.

Phyl did not see Pinckney again. He went off to Dublin by the two-ten train with Hennessey, the latter promising to be back on the morrow to arrange things.



Dublin can never have been a cheerful city. Even in the days when the butchers joined in street fights and hung their antagonists when caught on steel hooks—like legs of mutton—the gaiety of Dublin one may fancy to have been more a matter of spirits than of spirit.

Echoes from the days when the Parliament sat in Stephen’s Green come down to us through the works of Charles Lever, but the riotous gaiety of the old days when Barrington was a judge of the Admiralty Court, the Hell Fire Club an institution, and Count Considine a figure in society, must be taken with a grain of salt.

Mangan shows you the old Dublin as it was in those glorious times, and in the new Dublin of to-day the shade of Mangan seems still to walk arm in arm with the shade of Mathurin. Gloomy ghosts addicted to melancholy, noting with satisfaction that the streets are as dirty as ever, the old Public Houses still standing, that, despite the tramways—those extraordinary new modern inventions—the tide of life runs pretty much the same as of old. The ghosts of Mangan and Mathurin have never seen a taxi cab.

Dublin at the present day is a splendid city for old ghosts to wander in without having their corns 68 trodden on or their susceptibilities injured. Phyl had come to Dublin to live with the Hennesseys in Merrion Square.

“Never shall my door be shut on you except behind your back,” Hennessey had said, and he meant it.

The girl was worth several thousand a year; had she been penniless it would have been just the same.

You may meet many geniuses in your journey through life, many brilliant people, many beautiful people, many fascinating people, but you will not meet many friends. Hennessey belonged to the society of Friends, his wife was a member of the same community, and he would have been ruined only for his partner Niven, who was an ordinary lowdown human creature who believed in no one and kept the business together.

On the day of her arrival at Merrion Square and during her first interview with Mrs. Hennessey in the large, cheerless drawing-room where decalcomanied flower pots lingered like relics of the Palæolithic age of Art, Phyl kept herself above tears, just as a swimmer keeps his head above water in a choppy sea.

It was all so gloomy, yet so friendly, that the mind could not openly revolt at the gloom; it was all so different from the wind and trees and freedom of Kilgobbin, and Mrs. Hennessey, whom she had only seen once before, was so different, on closer acquaintance, from any of the people she had hitherto met in her little world.

Mrs. Hennessey, with a soul above dust and housekeeping, a faded woman, not very tidy, with 69 an exalted air, pouring out tea from a Britannia metal ware teapot and talking all the time about Willy Yeates, the Irish Players and Lady Gregory’s last play, fascinated the girl, who did not know who Willy Yeates was and who had never seen the Irish Players.

Nor could she learn from Mrs. Hennessey. It was impossible to get a word in edgeways with that lady. Sometimes, indeed, during a lull in her mind disturbance, she would remain quiet whilst you answered some question, only to find that she had totally forgotten the question and was not listening to your reply.

Phyl got so used to Mrs. Hennessey after a few days that she did not listen to her questions, and so the two being matched, they got on well together. Young people soon accommodate themselves to their surroundings, and in a month the girl had grown to the colour of her new life, at least, on the outside of her mind. It seemed to her that she had lived years in Merrion Square. Kilgobbin—Hennessey had managed to let the place—seemed a dream of her childhood. She saw no future, and rebellion was impossible; there was nothing to rebel against—except the dulness and greyness of life. No people could have been kinder than the Hennesseys; unfortunately they had numerous friends, and the friends of the Hennesseys did not appeal to Phyl.

A boy in her position would have adapted himself quickly enough, and been hail fellow well met with Mr. Mattram, the dentist of Westland Row, or the young Farrels, whose father owned one of the biggest 70 wine merchants’ businesses in the city; but the feminine instinct told Phyl that these were not the sort of people from whose class she had sprung, that their circle was not her circle and that she had stepped down in life in some mysterious way. This fact was brought sharply home to her by a young Farrel, a male of the Farrel brood, a hobbledehoy, good-looking enough but with a Dublin accent and a cheeky manner.

This immature wine merchant at a party given by Mrs. Hennessey had made love to Phyl and had tried to kiss her behind the dining-room door.

The recollection of the smack in the face she had given him soothed her that night as she lay tossing in her bed, and it was on this night and for the first time since she left Kilgobbin that the recollection of Pinckney came before her otherwise than as a shadow. He stood with the Hennessey circle as his background, a bright, good-looking figure and a gentleman to his finger-tips.

Why had she cast aside her own people—even though they were distant relations? What stupidity had caused her to insult Pinckney by telling him she hated him? She found herself asking that question without being able to answer it.

After all that fuss at Kilgobbin and Pinckney’s departure, Mr. Hennessey had proved to her that Rafferty was a rogue who deserved no quarter; the man had been dismissed, the whole business was done with and over, and now, looking back in cool blood, she was utterly unable to reconstruct and put together the reasons for the outburst of anger that had 71 severed her from the one kinsman who had put out his hand to help her.

She could no longer conjure up the feeling that Pinckney was an interloper come to break up Kilgobbin and spoil the home she had known from childhood.

Fate had done that. Kilgobbin was gone—let to strangers; Hennessey had taken over her guardianship pro tem, and it was entirely owing to herself that she was in her present position. She had no right to criticise the friends of the Hennesseys; she had deliberately walked into that circle from which she felt she never could escape now.

Just as Pinckney had discovered that guardianship was showing him traits in his character hitherto unknown to him, Phyl was discovering her woman’s instinct as regards social matters.

She recognised that once having taken her place amongst the Hennessey set, her position for life was fixed, as far as Ireland was concerned. She was branded.

The Berknowles were an old family, but she was the last of them. The relatives living in the south could be no help to her; they were poor, rabid Catholics and had fallen to little account, owing to unwise marriages and that irresponsible fatuous apathy in affairs which is the dry rot of Ireland and the Irish people. They were proud as Lucifer, but no one was proud of them.

If only Philip Berknowles had been a man to make fast friends amongst his own class, some of those friends might have come to his daughter’s rescue 72 now. But Berknowles had lived his own life since the death of his wife, an easy-going country gentleman in a county mostly inhabited by squireens and cottage folk, caring little for the convenances and with no taste for women’s society.

Thoughts born of all these facts, some of which were only half understood, filled the mind of the girl as she lay awake with the noise of that raucous party ringing in her ears; and when she fell asleep, it was only to awake with a sense of despondency weighing upon her and the odious Farrel incident waiting to follow her through the day.

About a week later, coming down to breakfast one morning, she found a letter on her plate. A letter with American stamps on it and the address, Miss Phylice Berknowles, Merrion Square, Dublin, Ireland, written in a firm, bold hand.

Mrs. Hennessey was not down and Mr. Hennessey had departed for the office, so Phyl had the breakfast table to herself—and the letter.

She knew at once whom it was from, even before she read the postmark, “Charleston.”

Pinckney, the man who had been in her thoughts during the past six or seven days, the man who had left Ireland righteously disgusted with her, the man to whom she had said, “I hate you!”

The scene flashed before her as she tore the envelope open, his sudden blaze of anger, the way he had torn the papers up, his departure. What was he going to say to her now? She flushed at the thought that this thing in her hand might prove to be his opinion of her in cold blood, a reproof, 73 a remonstrance—she opened the folded sheet—ah!

“Dear Phyl,

“Aunt Maria was greatly disappointed when I returned here without you, she had quite made up her mind that you were coming back with me. We both lost our temper that day, but I was the worse, for I said a word I shouldn’t have said, and for which I apologise. Aunt Maria says it was the Pinckney temper. However that may be, we shall be delighted to see you. Mrs. Van Dusen leaves on the 6th of next month. I am sending all particulars to Mr. Hennessey. You could meet Mrs. Van Dusen at Liverpool and go with her as far as New York. Let me have a cable to know if you are coming. Pinckney, Vernons, Charleston, U. S. A., is the cable address.

“Your affectionate guardian—also cousin—

R. Pinckney.

Then underneath, in an angular, old-fashioned hand, one of those handwritings we associate with crossed letters, rosewood desks, valentines and wafers:

“Be sure to come. I am very anxious to see you, and I only hope you will like me as much as I am sure to like you.

Maria Pinckney.

Phyl caught her breath back when she read this and her eyes filled with tears. It was the woman’s 74 voice that touched her, coming after Pinckney’s business-like and jerky sentences.

Then she sat with the letter before her, looking at the new prospect it had opened for her.

Was Pinckney still angry, despite his talk about the Pinckney temper; had he written not of his own free will but at the desire of Maria Pinckney? She read the thing over again without finding any solution to this question.

But one fact was clear. Maria Pinckney was genuine in her invitation.

“I’ll go,” said Phyl.

She rose up from the table as though determined then and there to start off for America, left the room, went upstairs and knocked at Mrs. Hennessey’s door.

That lady was sitting up in bed with a stocking tied round her throat—she was suffering from a slight attack of tonsilitis—and the Irish Times spread on her knees.

“Mrs. Hennessey,” said Phyl, “I have just had a letter from my cousins in America, and they want me to go out to them.”

“Want you to go to America!” said Mrs. Hennessey. “On a visit, I suppose?”

“No, to stay there.”

“To stay in America; but what on earth do they want you to do that for? Who on earth would dream of leaving Dublin to live in America! It’s extraordinary the ideas some people get hold of. Then, of course, they don’t know, that’s all that’s to be said for them. It’s like hearing people talking and talking of all the fine views abroad, and you’d 75 think they’d never seen the Dargle or the Glen of the Downs; they don’t know the beauty of their own country or haven’t eyes to see it, and they must go raving of the Bay of Naples with Kiliney Bay a stone’s throw away from them, and talking of Paris with Dublin outside their doors, and praising up foreign actors with never a word of the Irish Players. Dublin giving her best to them, and they with deaf ears to her music and blind eyes to her sons.”

“But, you see, Mrs. Hennessey, the Pinckneys are my relations.”

“Irish?” cried the good woman, absolutely unconscious of everything but the vision before her. “Those that can’t see their own land aren’t Irish. Mongrels is the name for them, without pride of heart or light of understanding.”

She was off.

With a far, fixed gaze and her mind in a state of internal combustion, she seemed a thousand miles away from Phyl and her affairs, fighting the battles of Ireland.

Phyl gathered the impression that, if she went to America Mrs. Hennessey would grieve less over the fact that she (Phyl) was leaving Merrion Square, than over the fact that she was leaving Dublin. She escaped, carrying this impression with her, went upstairs, dressed, and then started off for Mr. Hennessey’s office.

It was a cold, bright day and Dublin looked almost cheerful in the sunlight.

The lawyer looked surprised when she was shown into his private room; then, when she had told him 76 her business, he fumbled amongst the papers on his desk and produced a letter.

“This is from Pinckney,” said he. “It came by the same post as yours, only it was directed to the office. It’s the same story, too. He wants you to go over.”

“I’ve been thinking over the whole business,” said Phyl, “and I feel I ought to go.”

“Aren’t you happy in Dublin?” asked he.

“M’yes,” answered the other. “But, you see—at least, I’m as happy as I suppose I’ll be anywhere, only they are my people and I feel I ought to go to them. It’s very lonely to have no people of one’s own. You and Mrs. Hennessey have been very kind to me, and I shall always be grateful, but—”

“But we aren’t your own flesh and blood. You’re right. Well, there it is. We’ll be sorry to lose you, but, maybe, though you haven’t much experience of the world, you’ve hit the nail on the head. We aren’t your flesh and blood, and though the Pinckneys aren’t much more to you, still, one drop of blood makes all the difference in the world. Then again, you’re a cut above us; we’re quite simple people, but the Berknowles were always in the Castle set and a long chalk above the Hennesseys. I was saying that to Norah only last night when I was reading the account of the big party at the Viceregal Lodge and the names of all the people that were there, and I said to her, ‘Phyl ought to be going to parties like that by and by when she grows older, and we can’t do much for her in that way,’ and off she goes in a temper. ‘Who’s the Aberdeens?’ says 77 she. ‘A lot of English without an Irish feather in their tails, and he opening the doors to visitors in his dressing gown—Castle,’ she says, ‘it’s little Castle there’ll be when we have a Parliament sitting in Dublin.’”

“I don’t want to go to parties at the Viceregal Lodge,” said Phyl, flushing to think of what a snob she had been when only a few days back she had criticised the Hennesseys and their set in her own mind. These honest, straightforward good people were not snobs, whatever else they might be, and if her desire for America had been prompted solely by the desire to escape from the social conditions that environed her friends, she would now have smothered it and stamped on it. But the call from Charleston that had come across the water to her was an influence far more potent than that. That call from the country where her mother had been born and where her mother’s people had always lived had more in it than the voices that carried the message.

“Well,” said Hennessey, “you mayn’t want to go to parties now, but you will when you are a bit older. However, you can please yourself—Do you want to go to America?”

“I do,” said Phyl. “It’s not that I want to leave you, but there is something that tells me I have got to go. When I read the letter first this morning, I was delighted to think that Mr. Pinckney was not still angry with me, and I liked the idea of the change, for Dublin is a bit dreary after Kilgobbin and—and well, I will say it—I don’t care for some of the people I have met in Dublin. But since then 78 a new feeling has come over me. I think it came as I was walking down here to the office. It’s a feeling as if something were pulling me ever so slightly, yet still pulling me from over there. My father said that there was more of mother in me than him. I remember he said that once—well, perhaps it’s that. She came from over there.”

“Maybe it is,” said Hennessey.



The thing was settled definitely that night, Mrs. Hennessey resisting the idea at first, more, one might have fancied from her talk, because the idea was anti-national than from love of Phyl, though, as a matter of fact, she was fond enough of the girl.

“It’s what’s left Ireland what it is,” went on the good lady. “Cripples and lunatics, that’s all that’s left of us with your emigration; all the good blood of Ireland flowing away from her and not a drop, scarcely, coming back.”

“I’ll come back,” said Phyl, “you need not fear about that—some day.”

“Ay, some day,” said Mrs. Hennessey, and stared into the fire. Then the spirit moving her, she began to discant on things past and people vanished.

Synge, and Oscar Wilde and Willie Wilde, who was the real genius of the family, only his genius “stuck in him somehow and wouldn’t come out.” She passed from people who had vanished to places that had changed, and only stopped when the servant came in with the announcement that supper was ready.

Then at supper, lo and behold! she discussed the going away of Phyl, as though it were a matter 80 arranged and done with and carrying her full consent and approval.

During the weeks following, Phyl’s impending journey kept Mrs. Hennessey busy in a spasmodic way. One might have fancied from the preparations and lists of things necessary that the girl was off to the wilds of New Guinea or some region equally destitute of shops.

Hennessey remonstrated, and then let her have her way—it kept her quiet, and Phyl, nothing loath, spent most of her time now in shops, Tod and Burns, and Cannock and White’s, examining patterns and being fitted, varying these amusements by farewell visits. She was invited out by all the Hennesseys’ friends, the Farrels and the Rourkes, and the Longs and the Newlands, and the Pryces and the Oldhams, all prepared tea-parties in her honour, made her welcome, and made much of her, just as we make much of people who have not long to live.

She was the girl that was going to America. She did not appreciate the real kindness underlying this terrible round of festivities till she was standing on the deck of the Hybernia at Kingstown saying good-bye to Hennessey.

Then, as the boat drew away from the Carlisle pier, as it passed the guardship anchorage and the batteries at the ends of the east and west piers, all those people from whom she had longed to escape seemed to her the most desirable people on earth.

Bound for a world unknown, peopled with utter strangers, Ireland, beloved Ireland, called after her as a mother calls to her child. 81

Oh, the loneliness! the desolation!

As she stood watching the Wicklow mountains fading in the grey distance, she knew for the first time the meaning of those words, “Gone West”; and she knew what the thousands suffered who, driven from their cabins on the hillside or the moor, went West in the old days when the emigrant ship showed her tall masts in Queenstown Harbour and her bellying canvas to the sunset of the Atlantic.

At Liverpool, she found Mrs. Van Dusen, a tall, rather good-looking, rather hard-looking but exceedingly fashionable individual, at the hotel where it was arranged they should meet.

Phyl, looking like a lost dog, confused by travel and dumb from dejection, had little in common with this lady, nor did a rough passage across the Atlantic extend their knowledge of one another, for Mrs. Van Dusen scarcely appeared from her state-room till the evening when, the great ship coming to her moorings, New York sketched itself and its blazing skyscrapers against the gloom before the astonished eyes of Phyl. 82




Holyhead, Liverpool, New York, each of these stopping places had impressed upon Phyl the distance she was putting between herself and her home, making her feel that if this business was not death it was, at least, a very good imitation of dying.

But the south-bound express from New York was to show her just what people may be expected to feel after they are dead.

America had been for Phyl little more than a geographical expression. “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” “The Last of the Mohicans,” “The Settlers in Canada” and “Round the World in Eighty Days,” had given her pictures, and from these she had built up a vague land of snow and forests, log huts, plains, Red Indians, runaway negroes and men with bowie knives.

New York had given this fantastic idea a rough joggle, the south-bound express tumbled it all to pieces.

Forests and mountains and plains would have been familiar to her imagination, but the south-bound express was producing for her inspection quite different things from these. 84

New Jersey with its populous towns, for instance, towns she never could have imagined or dreamed of, filled with people whose existence she could not picture.

What gave her a cold grue was the suddenly grasped fact that all this great mechanism of life, cities, towns, roaring railways, agricultural lands, manufacturing districts filled with English speaking people—that all this was alien, knew nothing of Ireland or England, except as it might know of Japan or a dream of the past.

The people in the train were talking English—were English to all intents and purposes, and yet, as far as England and Ireland were concerned, she knew them to be dead.

It had been freezing in New York, a great rainstorm was blowing across the world as they crossed the Delaware; it passed, sweeping away east under the arch of a vast rainbow, even the rainbow seemed alien and different to Irish rainbows—it was too big.

Then came Philadelphia, where some of the dead folk left the train and others got in. One had an Irish voice and accent. He was a big man with a hard, pushful face and a great under jaw. Phyl knew him at once for what he was, and that he had died to Ireland long years ago.

Then came Wilmington and Baltimore, and then, long after sunset in the dark, a warmer air that entered the train like a viewless passenger, nerve soothing and mind lulling—the first breath of the South.

Next morning, looking from the windows of the 85 car, she saw the South. Vast spaces of low-lying land broken by river and bayou, flooded by the light of the new risen sun and touched by a vague mist from the sea, soft as a haze of summer, warm with light and everywhere hinting at the blue deep sky beyond.

Youth, morning, and the spirit of the sea all lay in that luminous haze, that warm light filled with the laziness of June; and, for one delightful moment, it seemed to Phyl that summer days long forgotten, rapturous mornings half remembered were here again.

The rumble of trestle and boom of bridge filled the train, and now the masts of ships showed thready against the hazy blue of the sky; frame houses sprang up by the track and fences with black children roosting on them; then the mean streets of the coloured quarter and now, as the cars slackened speed, came the bustle that marks the end of a journey. People were getting their light luggage together, and as Phyl was strapping the bundle that held her travelling rug and books, a waft of tepid, salt-scented air came through the compartment and on it the voice of the negro attendant rousing some drowsy passenger.

“Charleston, sah.”

She got out, dazed and numbed by the journey, and stood with the rug bundle in her hand looking about her, half undecided what to do, half absorbed by the bustle and movement of the platform.

Then, pushing towards her through the crowd, she saw Pinckney. 86

He had come to meet her, and as they shook hands, Phyl laughed.

He seemed so bright and cheerful, and the relief at finding a friend after that long, friendless journey was so great that she laughed right out with pleasure, like a little child—laughed right into his eyes.

It seemed to Pinckney that he had never seen the real Phyl before.

He took the bundle from her and gave it to a negro servant, and then, giving the luggage checks to the servant and leaving him to bring on the luggage, he led the girl through the crowd.

“We’ll walk to the house,” said he, “if you are not too tired; it’s only a few steps away—well—how do you like America?”

“America?” she replied. “I don’t know—it’s different from what I thought it would be, ever so much different—and this place—why, it is like summer here.”

“It’s the South,” said Pinckney. “Look, this is Meeting Street.”

They had turned from the street leading from the station into a broad, beautiful highway, placid, sun flooded, and leading away to the Battery, that chief pride and glory of Charleston.

On either side of the street, half hidden by their garden walls, large stately houses of the Georgian era showed themselves. Mansions that had slumbered in the sun for a hundred years, great, solid houses whose yellow-wash seemed the incrustation left by golden and peaceful afternoons, houses of old English solidity yet with the Southern touch of deep 87 verandas and the hint of palm trees in their jealously walled gardens.

“Oh, how beautiful!” said Phyl. She stopped, looked about her, and then gazed away down the street. It was as though the old stately street—and surely the Street of Other Days might be its name—had been waiting for her all her life, waiting for her to turn that corner leading from the commonplace station, waiting to greet her like the ghost of some friend of childhood. Surely she knew it! Like the recollection of a dream once dreamed, it lay before her with its walled gardens, its vaguely familiar houses, its sunlight and placidity.

Pinckney, proud of his native town and pleased at this appreciation of it, stood by without speaking, watching the girl who seemed to have forgotten his existence for a moment. Her head was raised as if she were inhaling the sea wind lazily blowing from the Battery, and bearing with it stray scents from the gardens by the way.

Then she came back to herself, and they walked on.

“It’s just as if I knew the place,” said she, “and yet I never remember seeing anything like it before.”

“I’ve felt that way sometimes about places,” said Pinckney. “It seemed to me that I knew Paris quite well when I went there, though I’d never been there before. Charleston is pretty English, anyway, and maybe it’s that that makes it seem familiar. But I’m glad you like it. You like it, don’t you?” 88

“Like it!” said she. “I should think I did—It’s more than liking—I love it.”

He laughed.

“Better than Dublin?”

It was her turn to laugh.

“I never loved Dublin.” She turned her head to glance at a peep of garden showing through a wrought iron gate. “Oh, Dublin!—don’t talk to me about it here. I want to keep on feeling I’m here really and that there’s nowhere else.”

“There isn’t,” said he, disclosing for the first time in his life, and quite unconsciously, his passion for the place where he had been born. “There’s nowhere else but Charleston worth anything—I don’t know what it is about, but it’s so.”

They were passing a wall across whose top peeped an elbow of ivy geranium. It was as though the unseen garden beyond, tired of constraint and drowsily stretching, had disclosed this hint of a geranium coloured arm.

Pinckney paused at a wrought iron gate and opened it.

“This is Vernons,” said he.



A grosbeak was singing in the magnolia tree by the gate and the warmth of the morning sun was filling the garden with a heart-snatching perfume of jessamine.

Jessamine and the faint bitterness of sun warmed foliage.

It was a garden sure to be haunted by birds; not large and, though well kept, not trim, and sing the birds as loud as they might, they never could break the charm of silence cast by Time on this magic spot.

In the centre of the lawn stood a dial, inscribed with the old dial motto:

The Hours Pass and are Numbered.

Phyl paused for a moment just as she had paused in the street, and Pinckney looking at her noticed again that uptilt of the head, and that far away look as of a person who is trying to remember or straining to hear.

Then a voice from the house came across the broad veranda leading from the garden to the lower rooms.

A female voice that seemed laughing and scolding at the same time.

“Dinah! Dinah! bless the girl, will she never learn sense— Dinah! Ah, there you are. How often have I told you to put General Grant in the 90 sun first thing in the morning?— You’ve been dusting! I’ll dust you. Here, get away.”

Out on the veranda, parrot cage in hand, came a most surprising lady. Antique yet youthful, dressed as ladies were wont to dress of a morning in long forgotten years, bright eyed, and wrathfully agitated.

“Aunt,” cried Pinckney. “Here we are.”

The sun was in Miss Pinckney’s eyes; she put the cage down, shaded her eyes and stared full at Phyl.

“God bless me!” said Miss Pinckney.

“This is Phyl,” said he, as they came up to the verandah steps.

Miss Pinckney, seeming not to hear him in the least, took the girl by both hands, and holding her so as if for inspection stared at her.

Then she turned on Pinckney with a snap.

“Why didn’t you tell me—she’s—why, she’s a Mascarene. Well, of all the astonishing things in the world— Child—child, where did you get that face?”

Before Phyl could answer this recondite question, she found herself enveloped in frills and a vague perfume of stephanotis. Maria Pinckney had taken her literally to her heart, and was kissing her as people kiss small children, kissing her and half crying at the same time, whilst Pinckney stood by wondering.

He thought that he knew everything about Maria Pinckney, just as he had fancied he knew himself till Phyl had shewn him, over there in Ireland, that there were a lot of things in his mind and character 91 still to be known by himself. This, as regards him, seemed the special mission of Phyl in the world.

“It’s the likeness,” said Miss Pinckney. “I thought it was Juliet Mascarene there before me in the sun, Juliet dead those years and years.” Then commanding herself, and with one of those reverses, sudden changes of manner and subject peculiar to herself:

“Where’s your luggage?”

“Abraham is bringing it along.”

“Abraham! Do you mean you didn’t drive, walked here from the station?”

“Yes,” said Pinckney shamefacedly, almost, and wondering what sin against the covenances he had committed now.

“And she after that journey from N’York. Richard Pinckney, you are a—man—I was going to have called you a fool—but it’s the same thing. Here, come on both of you—the child must be starving. This is the breakfast room, Phyl—Phyl! I will never get used to that name; no matter, I’m getting an old woman, and mustn’t grumble—mustn’t grumble—umph!”

She took Pinckney’s walking-stick from him and, with the end of it, picked up a duster that the mysterious Dinah, evidently, had left lying on the floor.

She put the duster out on the veranda, rang a bell and ordered the coloured boy who answered it to send in breakfast.

Phyl, commanded by Miss Pinckney, sat down to table just as she was without removing her hat.

The old lady had come to the conclusion that the 92 newcomer must be faint with hunger after her journey, and when Miss Pinckney came to one of her conclusions, there was nothing more to be said on the matter.

It was a pleasant room, chintzy and sunny; they sat down to a gate-legged table that would just manage to seat four comfortably whilst the urn was brought in, a copper urn in which the water was kept at boiling point by a red hot iron contained in a cylinder.

Phyl knew that urn. They had one like it at Kilgobbin and she said so, but Miss Pinckney did not seem to hear her. There were times when this lady was almost rude—or seemed so owing to inattention, her bustling mind often outrunning the conversation or harking back to the past when it ought to have been in the present.

Tea making, and the making of tea was a solemn rite at Vernons, absorbed her whole attention, but Pinckney noticed this morning that the hand, that old, perfect, delicately shaped hand, trembled ever so slightly as it measured the tea from the tortoise-shell covered tea caddy, and that the thin lips, lips whose thinness seemed only the result of the kisses of Time, were moving as though debating some question unheard.

He recognised that the coming of Phyl had produced a great effect on Maria Pinckney. No one knew her better than he, for no one loved her so well.

It was she who ordered him about, still, just as though he were a small boy, and sometimes as he 93 sat watching her, so fragile, so indomitable, like the breath of winter would come the thought that a day would come—a day might come soon when he would be no longer ordered about, told to put his hat in the hall—which is the proper place for hats—told not to dare to bring cigars into the drawing-room.

To Phyl, Maria Pinckney formed part of the spell that was surrounding her; Meeting Street had begun the weaving of this spell, Vernons was completing it with the aid of Maria Pinckney.

The song of the Cardinal Grosbeak in the garden, the stirring of the window curtains in the warm morning air, the feel of morning and sunlight, the scent of the tea that was filling the room, the room itself old-fashioned yet cheerful, chintzy and sunny, all the things had the faint familiarity of the street. It was as though the blood of her mother’s people coursing in her veins had retained and brought to her some thrill and warmth from all these things; these things they knew and loved so well.

“There’s the carriage,” said Miss Pinckney, whose ears had picked out the sound of it drawing up at the front door. “They know where to take the luggage. Richard, go and see that they don’t knock the bannisters about. Abraham is all thumbs and has no more sense in moving things than Dinah has’n dusting them. Only last week when Mrs. Beamis was going away, he let that trunk of hers slip and I declare to goodness I thought it was a church falling down the stairs and tearing the place to pieces.” 94

There was little of the stately languor of the South in Miss Pinckney’s speech. She was Northern on the mother’s side. But in her prejudices she was purely Southern, or, at least, Charlestonian.

Pinckney laughed.

“I don’t think Phyl’s luggage will hurt much even if it falls,” said he. “English luggage is generally soft.”

“It’s only a trunk and a portmanteau,” said Phyl, as he left the room, but Miss Pinckney did not seem to hear; pouring herself out another cup of tea (she was the best and the worst hostess in the whole world) and seeming not to notice that Phyl’s cup was empty, she was off on one of her mind wandering expeditions, a state of soul that sometimes carried her into the past, sometimes into the future, that led her anywhere and to the wrapt, inward contemplation of all sorts of things and subjects from the doings of the Heavenly Host to the misdoings of Dinah.

She talked on these expeditions.

“Well, I’m sure and I’m sure I don’t know what folk want with the luggage they carry about with them nowadays— The old folk didn’t. Not Saratoga trunks, anyhow. I remember ’swell as if it was yesterday way back in 1880, when Richard’s father and mother were married, old Simon Mascarene—he belonged to your mother’s lot, the Mascarenes of Virginia— He came to the wedding, and all he brought was a carpet-bag. I can see the roses on it still. He wore a beaver hat. They’d been out of fashion for years and years. So was he. 95 Twenty dollars apiece they cost him, and his clothes were the same. Looked like a picture out of Dickens. Your grandmother was there, too, came from Richmond for the wedding, drove here in her own carriage. She and Simon were the last of the Virginia Mascarenes and they looked it. Seems to me some people never can be new nor get away from their ancestors. If you’d dressed Simon in kilts it wouldn’t have made any difference, much, he’d still have been Simon Mascarene of Virginia, just as stiff and fine and proud and old-fashioned.”

“It seems funny that my people should have been the Virginia Mascarenes,” said Phyl, “because—because—well, I feel as if my people had always lived here—this feels like home—I don’t know what it is, but just as I came into the street outside there I seemed to know it, and this house—”

“Why, God bless my soul,” said Miss Pinckney, whose eyes had just fallen on the girl’s empty cup, “here have I been talking and talking, and you waiting for some more tea. Why didn’t you ask, child?—What were you saying? The Virginia Mascarenes— Oh, they often came here, and your mother knew this house as well as Planters. That was the name of their house in Richmond. But what I can’t get over is your likeness to Juliet. She might have been your sister to look at you both—and she dead all these years.”

“Who was Juliet?”

“She was the girl who died,” said Miss Pinckney. “You know, although Richard calls me Aunt, I am not really his aunt; it’s just an easy name for an old 96 woman who is an interloper, a Pinckney adrift. It was this way I came in. Long before the Civil War, the Pinckneys lived at a house called Bures in Legare Street. A fine old house it was, and is still. Well, I was a cousin with a little money of my own, and I was left lonely and they took me in. James Pinckney was head of the family then, and he had two sons, Rupert and Charles. I might have been their sister the way we all lived together and loved each other—and quarrelled. Dear me, dear me, what is Time at all that it leaves everything the same? The same sun, and flowers and houses, and all the people gone or changed— Well, I am trying to tell you— Rupert fell in love with Juliet Mascarene, who lived here. He was killed suddenly in ’61— I don’t want to talk of it—and she died of grief the year after. She died of grief—simply died of grief. Charles lived and married in 1880 when he was forty years old. He married Juliet’s brother’s daughter and Vernons came to him on the marriage. He hadn’t a son till ten years later. That son was Richard. Charles left Richard all his property and Vernons on the condition that I always lived here—till I died, and that’s how it is. I’m not Richard’s aunt, it’s only a name he gives me—I’m only just an old piece of furniture left with the house to him. I’m so fond of the place, it would kill me to leave it; places grow like that round one, though I’m sure I don’t know why.”

“I don’t wonder at you loving Vernons,” said Phyl. “I was just the same about our place in Ireland, 97 Kilgobbin—I thought it would kill me to leave it.”

“Tell me about it,” said Miss Pinckney. Phyl told, or tried to tell.

Looking back, she found between herself and Ireland the sunlight of Charleston, the garden with the magnolia trees where the red bird was singing and the jessamine casting its perfume. Ireland looked very far away and gloomy, desolate as Kilgobbin without its master and with the mist of winter among the trees.

All that was part of the Past gone forever, and so great was the magic of this new place that she found herself recognising with a little chill that this Past had separated itself from her, that her feeling towards it was faintly tinged by something not unlike indifference.

“Well,” said Miss Pinckney, when she had finished, “it must be a beautiful old place, though I can’t seem to see it— You see, I’ve never been in Ireland and I can’t picture it any more than the new Jerusalem. Now Dinah knows all about the new Jerusalem, from the golden slippers right up she sees it—I can’t. Haven’t got the gift of seeing things, and it seems strange that the A’mighty should shower it on a coloured girl and leave a white woman wanting; but it appears to be the A’mighty knows his own business, so I don’t grumble. Now I’m going to show you the house and your room. I’ve given you a room looking right on the garden, this side. You’ve noticed how all our houses here are built with their sides facing the street and their fronts 98 facing the garden, or maybe you haven’t noticed it yet, but you will. ’Pears to me our ancestors had some sense in their heads, even though they didn’t invent telegraphs to send bad news in a hurry and railway cars to smash people to bits, and telephones to let strangers talk right into one’s house just by ringing a bell. Not that I’d let one into Vernons. You may hunt high or low, garret or basement, you won’t find one of those boxes of impudence in Vernons—not while I have servants to go my messages.”

Miss Pinckney was right. For years she had fought the telephone and kept it out, making Richard Pinckney’s life a tissue of small inconveniences, and suffering this epitaph on her sanity to be written by all sorts of inferior people, “Plumb crazy.”

She led the way from the breakfast-room and passed into the hall.

The spirit of Vernons inhabited the hall. One might have fancied it as a stout and prosperous gentleman attired in a blue coat with brass buttons, shorts, and wearing a bunch of seals at his fob. Oak, brought from England, formed the panelling, and a great old grandfather’s clock, with the maker’s name and address, “Whewel. Coggershall,” blazoned on its brass face, told the time, just as it had told the time when the Regent was ruling at St. James’s in those days which seem so spacious, yet so trivial in their pomp and vanity.

Sitting alone here of an afternoon with the sun pointing fingers through the high leaded windows, Whewel of Coggershall took you under his spell, the spell of old ghosts of long forgotten afternoons, 99 spacious afternoons filled with the cawing of rooks and the drone of bees. English afternoons of the good old time when the dust of the post chaise was the only mark of hurry across miles of meadow land and cowslip weather. And then as you sat held by the sound of the slow-slipping seconds, maybe, from some door leading to the servants’ quarters suddenly left open a voice would come, the voice of some darky singing whilst at work.

A snatch of the South mixing with your dream of England and the past, and making of the whole a charm beyond words.

That is Charleston.

Set against the panelling and almost covering it in parts were prints, wood-cuts, engravings, portraits in black and white.

Here was a silhouette of Colonel Vernon, the founder of the house, and another of his wife. Here was an early portrait of Jeff Davis, hollow-cheeked and goatee-bearded, and here was Mayflower, the property of Colonel Seth Mascarene, the fastest trotting horse in Virginia, worshipped by her owner whose portrait hung alongside.

Phyl glanced at these pictures as she followed Miss Pinckney, who opened doors shewing the dining-room, a room rather heavily furnished, hung with portraits of long-faced gentlemen and ladies of old time, and then the drawing-room. A real drawing-room of the Sixties, a thing preserved in its entirety, in all its original stiffness, interesting as a valentine, perfumed like an old rosewood cabinet.

Keepsakes and Books of Beauty lay on the centre 100 table, a gilt clock beneath a glass shade marked the moment when it had ceased to keep time over twenty-five years ago, the antimacassars on the armchairs were not a line out of position; not a speck of dust lay anywhere, and the Dresden shepherds and shepherdesses simpered and made love in the same old fashion, preserving unaltered the sentiment of spring, the suggestion of Love, lambs, and the song of birds.

“It’s just as it used to be,” said Miss Pinckney. “Nothing at all has been changed, and I dust it myself. I would just as soon let a servant loose here with a duster as I’d let one of the buzzards from the market-place loose in the larder. Those water-colours were done by Mary Mascarene, Juliet’s sister, who died when she was fifteen; they mayn’t be masterpieces but they’re Mary’s, and worth more’n if they were covered with gold. Mrs. Beamis sniffed when she came in here—she’s the woman whose trunk got loose on the stairs I told you about—sniffed as if the place smelt musty. She’s got a husband who’s made a million dollars out of dry goods in Chicago, and she thought the room wanted re-furnishing. Didn’t say it, but I knew. A player-piano is what she wanted. Didn’t say it, but I knew. Umph!”

Miss Pinckney, having shown Phyl out, looked round the room as if to make sure that all the familiar ghosts were in their places, then she shut the door with a snap, and turning, led the way upstairs murmuring to herself, and with the exalted and far away look which she wore when put out. 101

Phyl’s room lay on the first landing, a bright and cheerful room papered with a rather cheap flower and sprig patterned paper, spring-like for all its cheapness, and just the background for children’s heads when they wake up on a bright morning.

A bowl of flowers stood on the dressing-table, and the open window shewed across the verandah a bit of the garden, where the cherokee roses were blooming.

“This is your room,” said Miss Pinckney. “It’s one of the brightest in the house, and I hope you’ll like it— Listen!”

Through the open window came the chime of church-bells.

“It’s the chimes of St. Michael’s. You’ll never want a clock here, the bells ring every quarter, just as they’ve rung for the last hundred years; they’re the first thing I remember, and maybe they’ll be the last. Well, come on and I’ll show you some more of the house, if you’re not tired and don’t want to rest.”

She led the way from the room and along the corridor, opening doors and shewing rooms, and then up a back stairs to the top floor beneath the attics.

The house seemed to grow in age as they ascended. Not a door in Vernons was exactly true in line; the old house settling itself down quietly through the years and assisted perhaps by the great earthquake, though that had left it practically unharmed, shewed that deviation from the right line in cornice and wainscoting and door space, which is the hall mark left on architecture by genius or age. The builders 102 of the Parthenon knew this, the builders of Vernons did not— Age supplied their defects.

Up here the flooring of the passages and rooms frankly sagged in places, and the beams bellied downwards ever so little and the ceilings bowed.

“I’ve seen all these bed-rooms filled in the old days,” said Miss Pinckney. “We had wounded soldiers here in the war. What Vernons hasn’t seen of American history isn’t worth telling—much. Here’s the nursery.”

She opened a door with bottle-glass panels, real old bottle-glass worth its weight in minted silver, and shewed Phyl into a room.

“This is the nursery,” said she.

It was a large room with two windows, and the windows were barred to keep small people from tumbling into the garden. The place had the air of silence and secrecy that haunts rooms long closed and deserted. An old-fashioned paper shewing birds of Paradise covered the walls. A paper so old that Miss Pinckney remembered it when, as a child, she had come here to tea with the Mascarene children, so good that the dye of the gorgeous Paradise birds had scarcely faded.

A beam of morning sun struck across the room, a great solid, golden bar of light. Phyl, as she stood for a moment on the threshold, saw motes dancing in the bar of light; the air was close and almost stuffy owing to the windows being shut. A rocking-horse, much, much the worse for wear stood in one corner, he was piebald and the beam of light just failed to touch his brush-like tail. A Noah’s Ark 103 of the good old pattern stood on the lid of a great chest under one of the windows, and in the centre of the room a heavy table of plain oak nicked by knives and stained with ink told its tale.

There were books in a little hanging book-case, books of the ‘forties’ and ‘fifties’: “Peter Parley,” “The Child’s Pilgrim’s Progress,” “The Dairy-Maid’s Daughter,” an odd volume of Harper’s Magazine containing an instalment of “Little Dorrit,” Caroline Chesebro’s “Children of Light,” and Samuel Irenæus Prime’s “Elizabeth Thornton or the Flower and Fruit of Female Piety, and other Sketches.” Miss Pinckney opened one of the windows to let in air; Phyl, who had said nothing, stood looking about her at the forsaken toys, the chairs, and the little three-legged stool most evidently once the property of some child.

All nurseries have a generic likeness. It seemed to her that she knew this room, from the beam of light with the motes dancing in it to the bird-patterned paper. Kilgobbin nursery was papered with a paper giving an endless repetition of one subject—a man driving a pig to market—with that exception, the two rooms were not unlike. Yet those birds were the haunting charm of this place, the things that most appealed to her, things that seemed the ghosts of old friends.

She came to the window and looked out through the bars. Across the garden of Vernons one caught a glimpse of other gardens, palmetto-tree tops, and away, beyond the battery, a hint of the blue harbour. Just the picture to fill an imaginative child’s 104 mind with all sorts of pleasant fancies about the world, and Phyl, forgetting for a moment Miss Pinckney, herself, and the room in which she was, stood looking out, caught in a momentary day dream, just like a child in one of those reveries that are part of the fairy tale of childhood.

That touch of blue sea beyond the red roofs and green palmetto fronds gave her mind wings for a moment and a world to fly through. Not the world we live in, but the world worth living in. Old sailor-stories, old scraps of thought and dreams from nowhere pursued her, haunted her during that delightful and tantalising moment, and then she was herself again and Miss Pinckney was saying:

“It’s a pretty view and hasn’t changed since I was a child. Now, in N’York they’d have put up skyscrapers; Lord bless you, they’d have put them up at a loss so’s to seem energetic and spoil the view. That’s a N’Yorker in two words, happy so long as he’s energetic and spoiling views—” Then gazing dreamily towards the touch of blue sea. “Well, I guess the Lord made N’Yorkers same as he made you and me. His ways are inscrutable and past finding out; so’r the ways of some of his creatures.”

She turned from the window, and her eye fell on the great chest by the other window.

Going to it, she opened the lid.

It was full of old toys, mostly broken. She seemed to have forgotten the presence of Phyl. Holding the chest’s lid open, she gazed at the coloured and futile contents.

Then she closed the lid of the chest with a sigh.



The South dines at four o’clock—at least Charleston does.

It was the old English custom and the old Irish custom, too.

In the reign of William the Conqueror people dined at eleven a.m. or was it ten? Then, as civilisation advanced, the dinner hour stole forward. In the time of the Georges it reached four o’clock. In Ireland, the most conservative country on earth, some people even still sit down to table at four—in Charleston every one does.

One would not change the custom for worlds, just as one would not change the old box pews of St. Michael’s or replace the cannon on the Battery with modern ordinance.

Richard Pinckney did not dine at home that day. He was dining with the Rhetts in Calhoun Street, so Miss Pinckney said as they sat down to table. She sniffed as she said it, for the Rhetts, though one of the best families in the town, were people not of her way of thinking. The two Rhett girls had each a motor-car of her own and drove it—abomination!

The automobile ranked in her mind with the telephone as an invention of the devil.

Phyl had not seen Richard Pinckney since the 106 morning and now he was dining out. Her heart had warmed to him at the station on the way to Vernons, and at breakfast he had appeared to her as a quite different person to the Richard Pinckney who had come to Kilgobbin, more boyish and frank, less of a man of the world. She had not seen him since he left the room at breakfast-time to look after her luggage. Miss Pinckney said he had gone off “somewhere or another” and grumbled at him for going off leaving his breakfast not quite finished, she said that he was always “scatter braining about” either at the yacht club or somewhere else.

Phyl, as she sat now at the dining-table with the dead and gone Mascarene men and women looking at her from the canvases on the wall, felt ever so slightly hurt.

Youth calls to youth irrespective of sex. She felt as a young person feels when another young person shows indifference. Then came the thought: was he avoiding her? Was he angry still about the affair at Kilgobbin, or was it just that he did not want to be bothered talking to her, looked on her as a nuisance in the house, a guest of no interest to him and yet to whom he had to be polite?

She could not tell. Neither could she tell why the problem exercised her mind in the way it did. Even at Kilgobbin, despite the fact of her antagonism towards him, Pinckney had possessed the power of disturbing her mind and making her think about him in a way that no one else had ever succeeded in doing. No one else had made her feel the short-comings in the household ménage at Kilgobbin, 107 no one else had made her so fiercely critical of herself and her belongings.

She did not recognise the fact, but the fact was there, that it was a necessity of her being to stand well in this man’s eyes.

When a woman falls in love with a man or a man with a woman, the first necessity of his or her being is to stand well in the eyes of the loved one, anything that may bring ridicule or adverse criticism or disdain is death.

Phyl was not in love with Richard Pinckney, nor had she been in love with him at Kilgobbin, all the same the sensitiveness to appearances felt by a lover was there. Her anger that night when he had let her in at eleven o’clock was due, perhaps, less to his implied reproof then the fact that she had felt cheap in his eyes, and now, sitting at dinner with Miss Pinckney the idea that he was still angry with her was obscured by the far more distasteful idea that she was of absolutely no account in his eyes, a creature to whom he had to be civil, an interloper.

Her cheeks flushed and her eyes brightened at the thought, but Miss Pinckney did not notice it. She had turned from the subject of the Rhetts and their automobiles to Charleston society in general.

“Now that you’ve come,” said she, “you will find there’s not a moment you won’t enjoy yourself if you’re fond of gadding about. All the society here is in the hands of young people, balls and parties! The St. Cecilias give three balls a year. I go always, not to dance but to look on. Richard is a 108 St. Cecilia—St. Cecilias? Why, it’s just a club a hundred-and-forty years old. There are two hundred of them, all men, and they know how to entertain. I have been at every ball for the last half century. Not one have I missed. Then there’s the yacht club and picnics to Summerville and the Isle of Palms, and bathing parties and boating by moonlight. If you are a gad-about you will enjoy all that.”

“But I’m not,” said Phyl. “I’ve never been used to society, much. I like books better than people, unless they’re—”

“Unless they’re what?”

“Well—people I really like.”

“Well,” said Miss Pinckney, “one wouldn’t expect you to like people you didn’t like—there’s no ‘really’ in liking, it’s one thing or the other—you don’t care for girls, maybe?”

“I haven’t seen much of them,” replied Phyl, “except at school, and that was only for a short time. I—I ran away.”

“Ran away! And why did you run away?”

“I was miserable; they were kind enough to me, but I wanted to get home—Father was alive then—I felt I had to get home or die—I can’t explain it—It felt like a sort of madness. I had to get back home.”

Miss Pinckney was watching the girl, she scarcely seemed listening to her—Then she spoke:

“Impulsive. If I wasn’t sitting here in broad daylight, I’d fancy it was Juliet Mascarene. What makes you so like her? It’s not the face so much, 109 though the family likeness runs strong, still, the face is different, though like—It’s just you yourself—well, I’m sure I don’t know, seems to me there’s a lot of things hid from us. Look at the Pringles, Anthony’s family, the ones that live in Tradd Street. If you put their noses together, they’d reach to Legare Street. It runs in the family. Julian Pringle, he died in ’70, he was just the same. Now why should a long nose run through a family like that, or a bad temper, or the colour of hair? I don’t know. The world’s a puzzle and the older one grows, the more it puzzles one.”

After dinner, Miss Pinckney ordered Phyl to put on her hat and they started out for a drive.

Every day at five o’clock, weather permitting, Miss Pinckney took an airing. She was one of the sights of Charleston, she, and the dark chestnut horses driven by Abraham the coloured coachman, and the barouche in which she drove; a carriage of other times, one of those deathless conveyances turned out in Long Acre in the days when varnish was varnish and hand labour had not been ousted by machinery. It was painted in a basket-work pattern, the pattern peculiar to the English Royal carriages, and the whole turn-out had an excellence and a style of its own—a thing unpurchasable as yesterday.

They drove in the direction of the Battery and here they drew up to look at the view. On one side of them stood the great curving row of mansions facing the sea, old Georgian houses and houses more modern, yet without offence, set in gardens 110 where the palmetto leaves shivered in the sea wind and the pink mimosa mixed its perfume with the salt-scented air. On the other side lay the sea. Afternoon, late afternoon, is the time of all times to visit this spacious and sunlit place. It is then that the old ghosts return, if ever they return, to discuss the news brought by the last packet from England, the doings of Mr. Pitt, the Paris fashions.

Looking seaward they would see no change in the changeless sea and little change in the city if they turned their eyes that way.

Miss Pinckney got out and they walked a bit, inspecting the guns, each with its brass plate and its story.

Far away in the haze stood Fort Sumter,—a fragment of history, a sea warrior of the past, voiceless and guarding forever the viewless. It may have been some recollection of the Brighton front and of the great harbour of Kingstown with the sun upon it, and all this seemed vaguely familiar to Phyl, pleasantly familiar and homely. She breathed the sea air deeply and then, as she turned, glancing towards the land, a recollection came to her of the story she had been reading that evening in the library at Kilgobbin—“The Gold Bug.” It was near here that Legrand had found the treasure. He had come to Charleston to buy the mattocks and picks—no, it was Jupp the negro who had come to buy them.

She turned to Miss Pinckney.

“Did you ever read a story called ‘The Gold Bug’ by Edgar Allan Poe?” she asked. “It is 111 about a place near here—Sullivan’s Island—that’s it—I remember now.”

“Why, I knew him,” said Miss Pinckney.

“Knew Edgar Allan Poe!” said Phyl.

“I knew him when I was a child and I have sat on his knee and I can see his face—what a face it was! and the coat he wore—it had a velvet collar—his teeth were beautiful, and his hair—beautiful glossy hair it was, but he was not handsome as people use that expression, he was extraordinary, such eyes—and the most wonderful voice in the world. I’m seventy-five years of age and he died in October ’49, and I met him three years before he died, so you see I was a pretty small child. It was at Fordham. He’d just taken a cottage there for his wife, who was ailing with consumption, and my aunt, Mary Pinckney, who was a friend of the Osgoods, took me there. It must have been summer for I remember a bird hanging in a cage in the sunshine, a bob-o’-link it was, he had caught it in the woods.

“Dear Lord! I wonder where that summer day’s gone to, and the bob-o’-link—’pears to me we aren’t even memories, for memories live and we don’t.”

They were walking along, Abraham slowly following with the carriage, and Miss Pinckney was walking in an exultant manner as though she saw nothing about her, as though she were treading air. Phyl had unconsciously set free a train of thought in the mind of Miss Pinckney, a train that always led to an explosion, and this is exactly how it happened and what she said. 112

“But his memory will live. Look right round you, do you see his statue?”

“No,” said Phyl, sweeping the view. “Where is it?”

“Just so, where is it? It’s not here, it’s not in N’York, it’s not in Baltimore, it’s not in Philadelphia, it’s not in Boston. The one real splendid writing man that America has produced she’s ashamed to put up a statue to. Why? Because he drank! Why, God bless my soul, Grant drank. No, it wasn’t drink, it was Griswold. The man who hated him, the man who crucified his reputation and sold the remains for thirty pieces of silver to a publisher, Griswold, Rufus Griswold—Judas Griswold that was his real name, and he hid it—”

Miss Pinckney had lowered her parasol in her anger, she shut it with a snap and then shot it up again; as she did so an automobile driven by a girl and which was approaching them, passed, and a young man seated by the girl raised his hat.

It was Richard Pinckney.

The girl was a very pretty brunette. This thing was too much for Miss Pinckney in her present temper; all her anger against Griswold seemed suddenly diverted to the automobile. She snorted.

“There goes Richard with Venetia Frances Rhett,” said she. “Ought to be ashamed of herself driving along the Battery in that outrageous thing; goodness knows, they’re bad enough driven by men, scaring people to death and killing dogs and chickens, without girls taking to them—”

She stared after the car, then signalling to Abraham, 113 she got into the barouche, Phyl followed her and they continued their drive.

That evening after supper Miss Pinckney’s mind warmed to thoughts of the good old days when motor-cars were undreamed of, and stirred up by the recollection of Edgar Allan Poe, discharged itself of reminiscences worth much gold could they have been taken down by a stenographer.

She was sitting with Phyl in the piazza, for the night was warm, and whilst a big southern moon lit the garden, she let her mind stray over the men and women who had made American literature in the ’50’s and ’60’s, many of whom she had known when young.

Estelle Anna Lewis of Baltimore, Nathaniel Hawthorne, William Cullen Bryant, Elizabeth Oakes Smith, Cornelius Mathews, Frances Sargent Osgood, N. P. Willis, Laughton Osborn. She had known Lowell and Longfellow, yet her mind seemed to cling mostly to the lesser people, writers in the Southern Literary Messenger, the Home Journal, the Mirror and the Broadway Journal.

People well-known in their day and now scarcely remembered, yet whose very names are capable of evoking the colour and romance of that fascinating epoch beyond and around the Civil War.

“They’re all dead and gone,” said she, “and folk nowadays don’t seem to trouble about the best of them, or remember their lines, yet there’s nothing they write now that’s as good—I remember poor Thomas Ward. ‘Flaccus’ was the name he wrote under, a thin skeleton of a man always with his head 114 in the air and his mind somewhere else, used to write in the Knickerbocker Journal; I heard him recite one of his things.

“‘And, straining, fastened on her lips a kiss,

That seemed to suck the life blood from her heart.’

“That stuck in my head, mostly, I expect, because Thomas Ward didn’t look as if he’d ever kissed a girl, but they are good lines and a lot better than they write nowadays.”

The wind had risen a bit and was stirring in the leaves of the magnolias, white carnations growing near the sun dial shook their ruffles in the moonlight, and from near and far away came the sounds of Charleston, voices, the sound of traffic and then, a thread of tune tying moonbeams, magnolias, carnations and cherokee roses in a great southern bunch, came the notes of a banjo, plunk, plunk, and a voice from somewhere away in the back premises, the voice of a negro singing one of the old Plantation songs.

Just a snatch before some closing door cut the singer off, but enough to make Phyl raise her head and listen, listen as though a whole world vaguely guessed, a world forgotten yet still warm and loving, youthful and sunlit, were striving to reach her and speak to her—As though Charleston the mysterious city that had greeted her first in Meeting Street were trying to tell her of things delightful, once loved, once known and forever vanished.

As she lay awake that night with the moonlight showing through the blinds, the whole of that 115 strange day came before her in pictures: the face of Frances Rhett troubled her, yet she did not know in the least why; it seemed part of the horribleness of automobiles and the anger of Miss Pinckney and the tribulations of Edgar Allan Poe.

Then the fantastic band of forgotten literati trooped before her, led by “Flaccus,” the man who didn’t look as if he had ever kissed a girl, yet who wrote:

“And, straining, fastened on her lips a kiss,

That seemed to suck the life blood from her heart.”



Phyl awoke to the early morning sunlight and the sounds of Charleston.

The chimes of St. Michael’s were striking six and through the summery sunlit air carried by the sea wind stirring the curtains came the cries of the streets and the rumbling of early morning carts.

Oh, those negro cries! the cry of the crab-seller, the orange vendor, the man who sells “monkey meat” dolorous, long drawn out, lazy, you do not know the South till you have heard them.

The sound of a mat being shaken and beaten on the piazza, adjoining that on which her window opened came now, and two voices in dispute.

“Mistress Pinckney she told me to tell you—she mos’ sholey did.”

“Go wash yo’ face, yo’ coloured trash, cummin’ here wid yo’ orders—skip out o’ my piazza—’clar’ to goodness I dunno what’s cummin’ to niggers dese days.”

Then Miss Pinckney’s voice as from an upper window:

“Dinah! Seth! what’s that I hear? Get on with your work the pair of you and stop your chattering. You hear me?”

When Phyl came down Richard Pinckney was in 117 the garden smoking a cigarette and gathering some carnations.

“They’re for aunt,” said he, “to propitiate her for my being late last night. I wasn’t in till one. I’m worse even than you, you see, and the next time you are out till eleven and I let you in and grumble at you, you can hit back. Have a flower.”

He gave her the finest in his bunch and Phyl put it in her belt. If she had any doubt as to the sincerity of his welcome his manner this morning ought to have set her mind at rest.

She stood looking at him as he tied the stalks of the flowers together and he was worth looking at, a fresh, bright figure, the very incarnation of youth and health and one might almost say innocence. Clear eyed, well-groomed, good to look upon.

“I generally pick a flower and put it on her plate,” said he, “but this morning she shall have a whole bunch—hope you slept all right?”

“Rather,” said Phyl, “I never sleep much the first night in a new place—but somehow—oh, I don’t know how to express it—but nothing here seems new.”

“Nothing is,” said he laughing, “it’s all as old as the hills—you like it, don’t you?”

“It’s not a question of liking—of course I like it, who could help liking it—it’s more than that. It’s a feeling I have that I will either love it or hate it, and I don’t know which yet, all sorts of things come back to me here, you see, my mother knew the place—do people remember what their mothers and fathers knew, I wonder? But, if you understood 118 me, it’s not so much remembering as feeling. All yesterday it seemed to me that I had only to turn some corner and come upon something waiting for me, something I knew quite well, and the smells and sounds and things are always reminding me of something—you know how it is when you have forgotten a name and when it’s lying just at the back of your mind—that’s how I feel here, about nearly everything—strange, isn’t it?”

“Oh, I don’t know,” said the practical Pinckney. “This place is awfully English for one thing, sure to remind you of a lot of things in Ireland and England, and then there’s of course the fact that you are partly American, but I don’t see why you should ever hate it.”

Indeed, I didn’t mean that,” said she flushing up at the thought that in trying to express herself she had made such a blunder. “I meant—I meant, that this something about the place that is always reminding me of itself might make me hate it.”

“Or love it?”

“Yes, but I can’t explain—the place itself no one could hate, you must have thought me rude.”

“Not a bit—not the least little bit in the world. Well, I believe you’ll come to love it, not hate it.”

“It,” said Phyl. “I don’t know that, because I don’t know what it is—this something that is always peeping round corners at me yet hiding itself.”

Richard!” came Miss Pinckney’s voice from the piazza where she had just appeared, “smoking cigarettes before breakfast, how often have I told you I won’t have you smoking before 119 breakfast—why, God bless my soul, what are you doing with all those carnations?”

He flung the cigarette-end away, but she refused to kiss him on account of the tobacco fumes, though she took the flowers.

Cigarettes, like telephones, automobiles, and the memory of Edgar Allan Poe, formed a subject upon which once started Miss Pinckney was hard to check, and whilst she poured out the tea, she pursued it.

“Dr. Cotton it was who told me, the one who used to live in Tradd Street, he was a relative of Dr. Garden the man that gave his name to that flower they call the gardenia—had it sent him from somewhere in the South, but I’m sure I don’t know where—New Orleans, I think, but it doesn’t matter. I was saying about Dr. Cotton, old Dr. Cotton of Tradd Street, he told me that the truth about young William Pringle’s death was that he was black when he died, from cigarette smoking, black as a crow. Used to smoke before breakfast, used to smoke all day, used to smoke in his sleep, I b’lieve. Couldn’t get rid of the pesky habit and died clinging to it, black as a crow. I can’t abide the things. Your father used to smoke Bull Durham in a corn cob, or a cigar, he’d a’ soon have smoked one of those cigarettes of yours as soon as he’d have been caught doing tatting. Don’t tell me, there’s no manhood in them, it’s just vice in thimble-fulls. I’d much sooner see a man lying healthily under the table once in a way than always half fuddled, and I’d sooner be poisoned out by a green cigar now and 120 then, than always having that nasty sickly cigarette smell round the place.”

“But good gracious, Aunt, I’m not a cigarette smoker, only once and away and at odd times.”

“I wasn’t talking about you so much as the young men of to-day, and the young women, they’re the worst, for they encourage the others to make fools of themselves, and if they’re not smoking themselves they’re sucking candy. Candy sucking and cigarette smoking is the ruin of the States. Those Rhett girls live on candy, and they look it—pasty faces.”

“Why!” said he, “what grudge have you got against the Rhetts now, Aunt—it’s as bad to take a girl’s complexion away as a man’s character—what have the Rhetts been doing to you?”

Miss Pinckney did not seem to hear the question for a moment, then she said, speaking as if to some invisible person:

“That Frances Rhett may be reckoned the belle of Charleston, that’s what I heard old Mr. Outhwaite call her, but she’s a belle I wouldn’t care to have tied round my neck. Belle! She’s no more a belle than I am, there are hundreds of prettier girls between here and the Battery, but she’s one of those sort that have the knack of setting young men against each other and making them fight for her; she’s labelled herself as a prize, which she isn’t. I declare to goodness the world frightens me at times, the way I see fools going about labelled as clever men, and women your grandfathers wouldn’t have cast an eye at going about labelled as beauties. I 121 do believe if I was to give myself out as a beauty to-morrow I’d have half the young idiots in Charleston after me, believing me.”

“They’re after you already,” said Pinckney, “only yesterday I heard young Reggy Calhoun saying—”

“I know,” said Miss Pinckney, “and I want no more of your impudence. Now take yourself off if you’ve finished your breakfast, for Phyl and I have work to do.”

He got up and went off laughing by way of the piazza and they could hear his cheery voice in the garden talking to the old negro gardener.

Miss Pinckney’s eyes softened. She was fiddling with a spoon and when she spoke she seemed speaking to it, turning it about as if to examine its pattern all the time.

“I don’t know what mothers with boys feel like, but I do want to see that boy safe and married before I go. He’s just the sort to be landed in unhappiness; he is, most surely; well, I don’t know, there’s no use in warning young folk, you may spank ’em for stealing the jam but you can’t spank ’em from fooling with the wrong sort of girl.”

Miss Pinckney had talked the night before of Phyl’s father and had proposed taking her this morning to the Magnolia cemetery to see the grave. She broke off the conversation suddenly as this fact strayed into her mind, and, rising up, invited Phyl to follow her to the kitchen premises where she had orders to give before starting.

“I always look after my own house,” said she, 122 “and always will. Fine ladies nowadays sit in their drawing-rooms and ring their bells for the servants to rob them and they aren’t any more respected. That’s what makes the Charleston negro the impudentest lump of blackness under the sun, that and knowing they’re emancipated. They’ve got to look on themselves as part of the Heavenly Host. Well, I’ll have no emancipated rubbish in my house, and the consequence is I never lose a servant and I never get impudence. They’ll all get a pension when they’re too old to work, and good food and good pay whilst they’re working, and I’ve said to them ‘you’re no more emancipated than I am, we’re all slaves to our duty and the only difference between now and the old days is I can’t sell you—and if you were idle enough to make me want to sell you there’s no one would buy such rubbish nowadays.’ Half the trouble is that people these times don’t know how to talk to coloured folk, and the other half is that they don’t want to talk to them.”

She led the way down passages to the great kitchen, stonebuilt, clean and full of sunlight. The door was open on to the yard and through an open side door one could get a glimpse of the scullery, the great washing up sink, generations old, and worn with use, and above it the drying dresser.

There were no new-fangled cooking inventions at Vernons, everything was done at an open range of the good old fashion still to be found in many an English country house.

Miss Pinckney objected to “baked meat” and the 123 joints at Vernons were roast, swinging from a clockwork Jack and basted all the time with a long metal ladle.

By the range this morning was seated an old coloured woman engaged in cutting up onions. This was Prue the oldest living thing in Vernons and perhaps in Charleston; she had been kitchen maid before Miss Pinckney was born, then cook, and now, long past work, she was just kept on. Twenty-five years ago she had been offered a pension and a cottage for herself but she refused both. She wanted to die where she was, so she said. So they let her stay, doing odd jobs and bossing the others just as though she were still mistress of the kitchen—as in fact she was. She had become a legend and no one knew her exact age, she was creepin’ close to a hundred, and her memory which carried her back to the slave days was marvellous in its retentiveness.

She had cooked a dinner for Jeff Davis when he was a guest at Vernons, she could still hear the guns of the Civil War, so she said, and the Mascarene family history was her Bible.

She looked down on the Pinckneys as trash beside the Mascarenes, and interlopers, and this attitude and point of view though well known to Miss Pinckney was not in the least resented by her.

But during the last few years this old lady’s intellect had been steadily coming under eclipse; still insisting on doing little jobs in a futile sort of way, silence had been creeping upon her so that she 124 rarely spoke now, and when she did, by chance, her words revealed the fact that her mind was dwelling in the past.

Rachel, the cook, a sturdy coloured woman with her head bound up in an isabelle-coloured handkerchief was standing by the kitchen table on which she was resting the fore-finger of her left hand, whilst with the right she was turning over some fish that had just been sent in from the fishmonger’s. She seemed in a critical mood, but what she said to Miss Pinckney was lost to Phyl whose attention was attracted by a chuckling sound from near the range.

It was Prue.

The old woman at sight of Phyl had dropped the knife and the onion on which she had been engaged. She was now seated, hands on knees, chuckling and nodding to the girl, then, scarcely raising her right hand from her knee, she made a twiddling movement with the fore-finger as if to say, “come here—come here—I have something to tell you.”

Phyl glanced at Miss Pinckney who was so taken up with what Rachel was saying about the fish that she noticed nothing. Then she looked again at Prue and, unable to resist the invitation, came towards her. The old woman caught her by the arm so that she had to bend her head.

“Miss Julie,” whispered Prue, “Massa Pinckney told me tell yo’ he be at de gate t’night same time ’slas’ night. Done you let on ’s I told yo’,” she gave the arm a pinch and relapsed into herself chuckling whilst Phyl stood with a little shiver, half of relief at her escape from that bony clutch, half of 125 dread—a vague dread as though she had come in contact with something uncanny.

She came to the table again and stood without looking at Prue, whilst Miss Pinckney completed her orders, then, that lady, having finished her business and casting an eye about the place on the chance of finding any dirt or litter, saw Prue and asked how she was doing.

“Well, miss, she’s doin’ fa’r,” replied Rachel, “but I’m t’inking she’s not long fore de new Jerusalem. Sits didderin’ dere ’n’ smokin’ her pipe, ’n’ lays about her wid her stick times, fancyin’ there’er dogs comin’ into de kitchen.”

“A dog bit her once way back in the ’60’s,” said Miss Pinckney; “they used to keep dogs here then. She don’t want for anything?”

“Law no, miss, she done want for nothin’; look at her now laffin’ to herself. Haven’t seen her do that way dis long time. Hi, Prue, what yo’ laffin’ at?”

Prue, instead of answering leant further forward hiding her face without checking her merriment.

“Crazy,” said Miss Pinckney, “but it’s better to be laughing crazy than crying crazy like some folk—here’s a quarter and get her some candy.”

She put the coin on the table and marched off followed by Phyl.

“She wanted to tell me something,” said Phyl as they were driving to the cemetery; “she beckoned me to her and took hold of my arm and whispered something.”

“What did she say?” 126

Phyl, somehow, could not bring herself to betray that crazy confidence.

“I don’t know, exactly, but she called me Miss Julie.”

“Oh—she called you Miss Julie,” said the other. Then she relapsed into thought and nothing more was said till they reached their destination.



Charleston’s Magnolia Cemetery like everything else about Charleston shows the touch of the War. Here the soldiers lie who fought so bravely under Wade Hampton and here lies the general himself.

Go south, go north, and you will not find a place touched by the War where you will not find noble memories, echoes of heroic deeds, legends of brave men.

Miss Pinckney was by no means a peace party and this thought was doubtless in her head as she stood surveying the confederate graves. There were relations here and men whom she had known as a child.

“That’s the War,” said she, “and people abuse war as if it was the worst thing in the world, insulting the dead. ’Clare to goodness it makes me savage to hear the pasty-faces talking of war and making plans to abolish it. It’s like hearing a lot of children making plans to abolish thunder storms. Where would America be now without the War, and where’d her history be? You tell me that. It’d just be the history of a big canning factory. These men aren’t dead, they’re still alive and fighting—fighting Chicago; fighting pork, and wheat, 128 and cotton and railway-stock and everything else that’s abolishing the soul of the nation.

“There’s Matt Carey’s grave. He had everything he wanted, and he wasn’t young. Now-a-days he’d have been driving in his automobile killing old women and chickens, or tarpoon fishing down ’n Florida letting the world go rip, or full of neur—what do they call it—that thing that gets on their nerves and makes crazy old men of them at forty—I’ve forgotten. He didn’t. He took up a gun and died like a lion, and he was a middle-aged business man. No one remembers him, I do believe, except, maybe me, clean forgotten—and yet he helped to put a brick into the only monument worth ten cents that America has got—The War.

“And some northern people would say ‘nice sort of brick, seeing he was fighting on the wrong side.’ Wrong side or right side he was fighting for something else than his own hand. That’s the point.”

She closed up her lips and they went on. Phyl found her father’s grave in a quiet spot where the live-oaks stood, the long grey moss hanging from their branches.

Miss Pinckney, having pointed out the grave, strayed off, leaving the girl to herself.

The gloomy, strange-looking trees daunted Phyl, and the grave, too young yet to have a headstone, drew her towards it, yet repelled her.

It was like meeting in a dream some one she had loved and who had turned into a stranger in a strange place.

Just as Charleston had dimmed Ireland in her 129 mind as a bright light dims a lesser light, so had some influence come between her and the memory of her father. That memory was just as distinct as ever, but grief had died from it, as though Time had been at work on it for years and years.

The Phyl who had stepped out of the south-bound express and the girl of this morning were the same in mind and body, but in soul and outlook they had changed and were changing as though the air of the south had some magic in it, some food that had always been denied her and which was necessary for her full being.

Miss Pinckney returned from her wanderings amongst the graves and they turned to the gate.

“It used to seem strange to me coming here when I was a girl,” said she. “It always seemed as if I was come to visit people who could never come to see me. I used to pity them, but one gets older and one gets wiser, and I fancy it’s they that pity us, if they can see us at all, which isn’t often likely.”

“D’you think they come back?” said Phyl.

“My dear child, if I told you what I thought, you’d say I was plum crazy. But I’ll say this. What do you think the Almighty made folk for? to live a few years and then lie in a grave with folk heaping flowers on them? There’s no such laziness in nature. I don’t say there aren’t folk who live their lives like as if they were dead, covered with flowers and never moving a hand to help themselves like some of those N’York women—but they don’t count. They’re against nature and I guess when they die they die, for they haven’t ever lived.” 130 Then, vehemently: “Of course, they come back, not as ghosts peekin’ about and making nuisances of themselves, but they come back as people—which is the sensible way and there’s nothing unsensible in nature. Mind you, I don’t say there aren’t ghosts, there are, for I’ve seen ’em; I saw Simon Pinckney, the one that died of drink, as plain as my hand same day he died, but he was a no account. He hadn’t the making of a man, so he couldn’t come back as a man, and he wasn’t a woman, so he couldn’t come back as a woman; so he came back as a ghost. He was always an uneasy creature, else I don’t suppose he’d have come back as anything. When a man wears out a suit of clothes he doesn’t die, he gets a new one, and when he wears out a body—which isn’t a bit more than a suit of clothes—he gets a new one. If he hasn’t piled up grit enough in life to pay for a new body, he goes about without one and he’s a ghost. That’s my way of thinking and I know—I know—n’matter.”

She put up her sunshade and they returned, driving through the warm spring weather. Phyl was silent, the day had taken possession of her. The scent of pink mimosa filled the air, the blue sky shewed here and there a few feather traces of white cloud and the wind from the sea seemed the very breath of the southern spring.

It seemed to Phyl as they drove that never before had she met or felt the loveliness of life, never till this moment when turning a corner the song of a bird from a garden met them with the perfume of jessamine. 131

Charleston is full of surprises like that, things that snatch you away from the present or catch you for a moment into the embrace of some old garden lurking behind a wrought iron gate, or tell you a love story no matter how much you don’t want to hear it—or tease you, if you are a practical business man, with some other futility which has nothing at all to do with “real” life.

It seemed to Phyl as though, somehow, the whole of the morning had been working up to that moment, as though the perfume of the jessamine and the song of the birds were the culmination of the meaning of all sorts of things seen and unseen, heard and unheard.

The message of the crazy old negress came back to her. Who was Miss Julie? and who was the Mr. Pinckney that was to meet her, and where was the gate at which they were to meet in such a secretive manner? Was it just craziness, or was it possible that this was some real message delivered years and years ago. A real lover’s message which the old woman had once been charged to deliver and which she had repeated automatically and like a parrot.

Miss Julie—could it be possible that she meant Miss Juliet—The Juliet Mascarene to whom she, Phyl, bore such a strong family likeness, could it be possible that the likeness had started the old woman’s mind working and had recalled the message of a half-a-century ago to her lips.

It was a fascinating thought. Juliet had been in love with one of the Pinckneys and this message was from a Pinckney and one day, perhaps, most likely 132 a fine spring day like to-day, Pinckney had given the negro girl a message to give to Juliet, and the lovers and the message and the bright spring day had vanished utterly and forever leaving only Prue.

The gate would no doubt be the garden gate. Phyl in all her life had never given a thought to Love, she had known nothing of sentiment, that much abused thing which is yet the salt of life, and Romance for her had meant Adventure; all the same she was now weaving all sorts of threads into dreams and fancies. What appealed to her most was her own likeness to Juliet, the girl who had died so many, many years ago. A likeness incomplete enough, according to Miss Pinckney, yet strong enough to awaken memories in the mind of Prue.



“Miss Pinckney,” said Phyl, as they sat at luncheon that day, “you remember you said yesterday that I was like Juliet Mascarene?”

“So you are,” replied the other, “though the likeness is more noticeable at first sight as far as the face goes—I’ve got a picture of her I will show you, it’s upstairs in her room, the one next yours on the same piazza—why do you ask me?”

“I was thinking,” replied Phyl, “that the old woman in the kitchen—Prue—may have meant Juliet when she called me Julie, and that it was the likeness that set her mind going.”

“It’s not impossible. Prue’s like that crazy old clock Selina Pinckney left me in her will. It’d tell you the day and the hour and the minute and the year and the month and the weather. A little man came out if it was going to rain and a little woman if it was going to shine. But if you wanted to know the time, it couldn’t tell you nearer than the hour before last of the day before yesterday, and if you sneezed near it, it’d up and strike a hundred and twenty. I gave it to Rachel. She said it was ‘some’ clock, said it was a dandy for striking and the time didn’t matter as the old kitchen clock saw to that. It’s the same with Prue, the time doesn’t matter, and they look up to her in the kitchen 134 mostly, I expect, because she’s an oddity, same as Selina Pinckney’s clock. Seems to me anything crazy and useless is reckoned valuable these days, and not only among coloured folk but whites—Dinah, hasn’t Mr. Richard come in yet?”

“No, Mistress Pinckney,” replied the coloured girl, who had just entered the room, “I haven’t seen no sign of him.”

“Running about without his luncheon,” grumbled the lady, “said he had a deal in cotton on. I might have guessed it.” Then when Dinah had left the room and talking half to herself, “There’s nothing Richard seems to think of but business or pleasure. I’m not saying anything against the boy, he’s as good and better than any of the rest, but like the rest of them his character wants forming round something real. It wasn’t so in the old days, they were bad enough then and drank a lot more, but they had in them something that made for something better than business or pleasure. Matt Curry didn’t go out and get killed for business or pleasure, and all the old Pinckneys didn’t fight in the war or fight with one another for business or pleasure. There’s more in life than fooling with girls or buying cotton or sailing yacht races, but Richard doesn’t seem to see it. I did think that having a ward to look after would have sobered him a bit and helped to form his character—well, maybe it will yet.”

“I don’t want to be looked after,” said Phyl flushing up, “and if Mr. Pinckney—” she stopped. What she was going to say about Pinckney was not clear in her mind, clouded as it was with anger—anger 135 at the thought that she was an object to be looked after by her “guardian,” anger at the implication that he was not bothering to look after her, being too much engaged in the business of fooling with girls and buying cotton, and a reasonable anger springing from and embracing the whole world that held his beyond Vernons.

“Yes?” said Miss Pinckney.

“Oh, nothing,” replied the other, trying to laugh and making a failure of the business. “I was only going to say that Mr. Pinckney must have lots to do instead of wasting his time looking after strangers, and if he hadn’t I don’t want to be looked after. I don’t want him to bother about me—I—I—” It did not want much more to start her off in a wild fit of weeping about nothing, her mind for some reason or other unknown even to herself was worked up and seething just as on that day at Kilgobbin when the woes of Rafferty had caused her to make such an exhibition of herself in the library. Anything was possible with Phyl when under the influence of unreasoning emotion like this, anything from flinging a knife at a person to breaking into tears.

Miss Pinckney knew it. Without understanding in the least the psychological mechanism of Phyl, she knew as a woman and by some electrical influence the state of her mind.

She rose from the table.

“Stranger,” said she, taking the other by the arm, “you call yourself a stranger. Come along upstairs with me. I want to show you something.” 136

Still holding her by the arm, caressingly, she led her off across the hall and up the stairs; on the first floor landing she opened a door; it was the door of the bedroom next to Phyl’s, a room of the same shape and size and with the same view over the garden.

Just as the drawing-room had been kept in its entirety without alteration or touch save the touch of a duster, so had this room, the bedroom of a girl of long ago, a girl who would now have been a woman old and decrepit—had she lived.

“Here’s the picture you wanted to see,” said Miss Pinckney leading Phyl up to a miniature hanging on the wall near the bed. “That’s Juliet, and if you don’t see the family likeness, well, then, you must be blind.—And you calling yourself a stranger!”

Phyl looked. It was rather a stiff and finicking little portrait; she fancied it was like herself but was not sure, the colour of the hair was almost the same but the way it was dressed made a lot of difference, and she said so.

“Well, they did their hair different then,” replied Miss Pinckney, “and that reminds me, it’s near time you put that tail up.” She sat down in a rocker by the window and with her hands on her knees contemplated Phyl. “I’m your only female relative, and Lord knows I’m far enough off, anyhow I’m something with a skirt on it, and brains in its head, and that’s what a girl most wants when she comes to your age. You’ll be asked to parties and things here and you’ll find that tail in the way; it’s good enough for a schoolgirl, but you aren’t 137 that any longer. I’ll get Dinah to do your hair, something simple and not too grown-up—you don’t mind an old woman telling you this—do you?”

“Indeed I don’t,” said Phyl. “I don’t care how my hair is done, you can cut it off if you like, but I don’t want to go to parties.”

“Well, maybe you don’t,” said Miss Pinckney, “but, all the same, we’ll get Dinah to look to your hair. Dinah can do most anything in that way; she’d get twice the wages as a lady’s maid elsewhere and she knows it, but she won’t go. I’ve told her over and again to be off and better herself, but she won’t go, sticks to me like a mosquito. Well, this was Juliet’s room just as that’s her picture; she died in that bed and everything is just exactly as she left it. It was kept so after her death. You see, it wasn’t like an ordinary person dying, it was the tragedy of the whole thing that stirred folk so, dying of a broken heart for the man she was in love with. It set all the crazy poets off like that clock of Selina Pinckney’s I was telling you of. The News and Courier had yards of obituary notice and verses. It made people forget the war for a couple of days. There’s all her books on that shelf and the diary the poor thing used to keep. Open one of the drawers in that chest.”

Phyl did so. The drawer was packed with clothes neatly folded. The air became filled with the scent of lavender.

“There are her things, everything she ever had when she died. It may seem foolish to keep everything like that, foolish and sentimental, and if she’d 138 died of measles or fallen down the stairs and killed herself maybe her old things would have been given away, but dying as she did—well, somehow, it didn’t seem right for coloured girls to be parading about in her things. Mrs. Beamis sniffed here just as she sniffed in the drawing-room, and she said, one night, something about sentiment, as if she was referring to chicken cholera. I knew what she meant. She meant we were a pack of fools. Well, she ought to know. I reckon she ought to be a judge of folly—the life she leads in Chicago. Umph!—Now I’m going to lie down for an hour, and if you take my advice you’ll do the same. The middle of the day was meant to rest in. You can get to your room by the window.”

She kissed Phyl and went off.

Phyl, instead of going to her room, took her seat in the rocker and looked around her. The place held her, something returned to it that had been driven away perhaps by Miss Pinckney’s cheerful and practical presence, the faint odour of lavender still clung to the air, and the silence was unbroken except for a faint stirring of the window curtains now and then to the breeze from outside. Everything was, indeed, just as it had been left, the toilet tidies and all the quaint contraptions of the ’50’s and ’60’s in their places. On the wall opposite the bed hung several water colours evidently the work of that immature artist Mary Mascarene, a watch pocket hung above the bed, a thing embroidered with blue roses, enough to disturb the sleep of any æsthete, 139 yet beautiful enough in those old days. There was only one stain mark in the scrupulous cleanliness and neatness of the place—a panel by the window, once white painted but now dingy-grey and scored with lines. Phyl got up and inspected it more closely. Children’s heights had evidently been measured here. There was a scale of feet marked in pencil, initials, and dates. Here was “M. M.,” probably Mary Mascarene, “2 ft. 6 inches. Nineteen months,” and the date “April, 1845,” and again a year later, “M. M. 2 ft. 9-1/2 inches, May, 1846.” So she had grown three and a half inches in a year. “J. M.”—Juliet without doubt—“3 feet, 3 years old, 1845.” Juliet was evidently the elder—so it went on right into the early ’60’s, mixed here and there with other initials, amongst which Phyl made out “J. J.” and “R. P.,” children maybe staying at the house and measured against the Mascarene children—children now old men and women, possibly not even that. It was in the kindly spirit of Vernons not to pass a painter’s brush over these scratchings, records of the height of a child that lingered only in the memory of the old house.

Phyl turned from them to the bookshelf and the books it contained. “Noble Deeds of American Women,” “Precept on Precept,” “The Dairyman’s Daughter,” and the “New England Primer”—with a mark against the verses left “by John Rogers to his wife and nine small children, and one at the breast, when he was burned at the stake at Smithfield in 1555.” There were also books of poetry, 140 Bryant, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, “Powhatan, a metrical romance in seven cantos by Seba Smith,” and several others.

Phyl did something characteristic. She gathered every single book into a pile in her arms and sat down on the floor with them to have a feast. This devourer of books was omnivorous in her tastes, especially if it were a question of sampling, and she had enough critical faculty to enable her to enjoy rubbish. She lingered over Powhatan and its dedication to the “Young People of the United States” and then passed on to the others till she came to a little black book. It was Juliet Mascarene’s diary and proclaimed the fact openly on the first page with the statements: “I am twelve years old to-day and Aunt Susan has given me this book to keep as my diary and not to forget to write each day my evil deeds as well as my good, which I will if I remember them. She didn’t give me anything else. I had to-day a Paris doll from Cousin Jane Pinckney who has winking eyes which shut when you lay her on her back and pantalettes with scallops which take off and on and a trunk of clothes with a little key to it. Father gave me a Bible and I have had other things too numerous for mension.

“Signed Juliet Mascarene.”

with never a date.


“I haven’t done any evil deeds, or good ones that I can remember, so I haven’t written in this book for maybe a week. Mary and I, we went to a party 141 at the Pinckneys to-day at Bures, the Calhoun children and the Rutledges were there and we had Lady Baltimore cake and a good time. Mary wore her blue organdie and looked very nice and Rupert Pinckney was there, he’s fourteen and wouldn’t talk to the children because they were too small for him, I expect. He told me he was going to have a pony same as Silas Rhett that threw him in the market place Wednesday last and galloped all the way to Battery before he was stopped, only his was to be a better one with more shy in it, said Silas Rhett ought to be tied on next time. Then old Mr. Pinckney came in and shewed us a musical snuff-box and we went home, and driving back Mary kicked me on the shin by axident and I pinched her and she didn’t cry till we’d got home, then she began to roar and mother said it was my ungovernable temper, and I said I wished I was dead.

“I shan’t go to any more parties because it’s always like that after them. Father told me I was to pray for a new heart and not to have any supper but Prue has brought me up a cake of her own making. So that’s one evil deed to put down—It’s just like Mary, any one else would have cried right out in the carriage and not bottled it up and kept it up till she got home.

“This is a Friday and Prue says Friday parties are always sure to end in trouble for the devil puts powder in the cakes and the only way to stop him is to turn them three times round when they’re baking and touch them each time with a forked hazel twig.”

Phyl read this passage over twice. The mention 142 of Prue interested her vastly. Prue even then had evidently been a favourite of Juliet’s.

She read on hoping to find the name of the coloured woman again, but it did not occur.

The diary, indeed, did not run over more than a year and a half, but scrappy as it was and short in point of time, the character of Juliet shone forth from it, uneasy, impetuous, tormenting and loving.

Many books could not have depicted the people round Vernons so well as this scribbling of a child. Mary Mascarene, quiet, rather a spoil-sport and something of a tale-teller, dead and gone Pinckneys and Rhetts. Aunt Susan, Cousin Jane Pinckney, Uncle George who beat his coloured man, Darius, because the said Darius had let him go out with one brass button missing from his blue coat. Simon Pinckney—the one whose ghost walked—and who “fell down in the garden because he had the hiccups,” these and others of their time lived in the little black book given by the miserly Aunt Susan “to keep as my diary and not to forget to write each day my evil deeds as well as my good.”

Towards the end there was another reference to Rupert Pinckney, the tragic lover of the future:

“Rupert Pinckney was here to-day with his mother to luncheon and we had a palmetto salad and mother said when he was gone he was the most frivulus boy in Charleston, whatever that was, and too much of a dandy, but father said he had stuff in him and Aunt Susan, who was here too, said ‘Yes, stuff and nonsense,’ and I said he could ride his pony without tumbling off like Silas Rhett, anyhow. 143

“Then they went on talking about his people and how they hadn’t as much money as they used to have, and Aunt Susan said that was so, and the worst of it is they’re spending more money than they used to spend, and father said, well, anyhow, that wasn’t a very common complaint with some people and he left the room. He never stays long in the room with Aunt S.

“I think the Pinckneys are real nice.”

“Mr. Simon Mascarene from Richmond and his wife came to see us to-day and stay for a week. They drove here in their own carriage with four brown horses and you could not tell which horse was which, they are so alike, they are very fine people and Mr. M. has a red face—not the same red as Mr. Simon Pinckney’s, but different somehow—more like an apple, and a high nose which makes him look very grand and fine.” The same Simon Mascarene, no doubt, that came to the wedding of Charles Pinckney in 1880 as old Simon Mascarene, the one whose flowered carpet bag still lingered in the memory of Miss Pinckney.

“Mrs. M. is very fine too and beautifully dressed and mother gave her a great bouquet of geraniums and garden flowers with a live green caterpillar looping about in the green stuff which nobody saw but me, till it fell on Mrs. M.’s knee and she screamed. There is to be a big party to-morrow and the Pinckneys are coming and Rupert.”

There the diary ended.

Phyl put it back on the shelf with the books. 144

She had not the knowledge necessary to visualise the people referred to, those people of another day when Planters kept open house, when slaves were slaves and Bures the home of the old gentleman with the musical snuff-box, but she could visualise Juliet as a child. The writing in the little book had brought the vision up warm from the past and it seemed almost as though she might suddenly run in from the sunlit piazza that lay beyond the waving window curtains.

There was a bureau in one corner, or rather one of those structures that went by the name of Davenports in the days of our fathers. Phyl went to it and raised the lid. She did so without a second thought or any feeling that it was wrong to poke about in a place like this and pry into secrets. Juliet seemed to belong to her as though she had been a sister, her own likeness to the dead girl was a bond of attraction stronger than a family tie, and Juliet’s mournful love story completed the charm.

The desk contained very little, a seal with a dove on it, some sticks of spangled sealing-wax, a paper knife of coloured wood with a picture of Benjamin Franklin on the handle and some sheets of note-paper with gilt edges.

Phyl noticed that the gilt was still bright.

She took out the paper knife and looked at it, and then held the blade to her lips to feel the smoothness of it, drawing it along so that her lips touched every part of the blade.

Then she put it back, and as she did so a little panel at the back of the desk fell forward disclosing 145 a cache containing a bundle of letters tied round with ribbon.

Phyl started as though a hand had been laid on her arm. The point of the paper knife must have touched the spring of the panel, but it seemed as though the desk had suddenly opened its hand, closed and clasping those letters for so many years. For a moment she hesitated to touch them. Then she thought of all the time they had lain there and a feeling that Juliet wouldn’t mind and that the old bureau had told its secret without being asked, overcame her scruples. She took the letters and sitting down again on the floor, untied the ribbon.

There were no envelopes. Each sheet of paper had been carefully folded and sealed with green wax, with the seal leaving the impression of the dove. There was no address, and they had evidently been tied together in chronological order. But the handwriting was the handwriting of Juliet Mascarene fully formed now.

The first of these things ran:

“It wasn’t my fault. I didn’t create old Mr. Gadney and send him to church to keep us talking in the street like that. I did not see you. You couldn’t have passed, and if you did you must have been invisible. I feel dreadfully wicked writing to you. Do you know this is a clandestine correspondence and must stop at once? You mustn’t ever write to me again, nor I mustn’t see you. Of course I can’t help seeing you in church and on the street—and I can’t help thinking about you. They’ll be making me try and stop breathing next. I don’t care a button 146 for the whole lot of them. It was all Aunt Susan’s doing, only for her my people would never have quarrelled with yours and I wouldn’t have been so miserable. I feel sometimes as if I could just take a boat and sail off to somewhere where I would never see any people again.

“It was clever of you to send your letter by P. This goes to you by the same hand.”

There was no signature and no date.

Phyl turned the sheet of paper over to make sure again that there was no address. As she did so a faint, quaint perfume came to her as though the old-fashioned soul of the letter were released for a moment. It was vervain, the perfume of long ago, beloved of the Duchesse de Chartres and the ladies of the forties.

She laid the letter down and took up the next.

“It is wicked of you. My people never would be so mean as to quarrel with your people or look down on them because they have lost money. Why did you say that—and you know I said in my last letter that I could not write to you again. I was shocked when P. pinched my arm as I was passing her on the stairs and handed me your note—Don’t you—don’t you—how shall I say it? Don’t you think you and I could meet and speak to one another somewhere instead of always writing like this? Somewhere where no one could see us. Do you know—do you know—do you, ahem! O dear me—know that just inside our gate there’s a little arbour. The tiniest place. When I was a child I used to play there with Mary at keeping house, there’s a seat just 147 big enough for two and we used to sit there with our dolls. No one can see the gate from the lower piazza, and the gate doesn’t make any noise opening, for father had it oiled—it used to squeak a bit from rust, but it doesn’t now and I’ll be there to-morrow night at nine—in the arbour—at least I may be there. I just want to tell you in a way I can’t in a letter that my people aren’t the sort of folk to sneer at any one because they have lost money.

“I am sending this by P.

“The arbour is just back of the big magnolia as you come in, on the left.”

Phyl gave a little laugh. Then with half-closed eyes she kissed the letter, laid it softly on the floor beside the first and went on to the next.

“Not to-night. I have to go to the Calhouns. It is just as well, for I have a dread of people suspecting if we meet too often. No one sees us meet. No one knows, and yet I fear them finding out just by instinct. Father said to me the other day, ‘What makes you seem so happy these times?’ If Mary had been alive she would have found out long ago, for I never could keep anything hid from her. I was nearly saying to him, ‘If you want to know why I am so happy go and ask the magnolia tree by the gate.’

“Sometimes I feel as if I were deceiving him and everybody. I am, and I don’t care—I don’t care if they knew. O my darling! My darling! My darling! If the whole world were against you I would love you all the more. I will love you all my life and I will love you when I am dead.” 148

Phyl’s eyes grew half blind with tears.

This cry from the Past went to her heart like a knife. The wind, strengthening for a moment, moved the window curtains, bringing with it the drowsy afternoon sounds of Charleston, sounds that seemed to mock at this voice declaring the deathlessness of its love. It was impossible to go on reading. Impossible to expose any more this heart that had ceased to beat.

The meetings in the arbour behind the magnolia tree, the kisses, the words that the leaves and birds alone could hear—they had all ended in death.

It did not matter now if the garden gate creaked on its hinges, or if watching eyes from the piazza saw the glossy leaves stirring when no wind could shake them—nothing mattered at all to these people now.

She put all the letters back in the bureau, carefully closing them in the secret drawer.



“Miss Pinckney,” said Phyl that night as they sat at supper, “when you left me this afternoon in Juliet’s room I stopped to look at the books and things and when I opened the bureau I touched a spring by accident and a little panel fell out and I found a lot of old letters behind it. It was wrong of me to go meddling about and I thought I ought to tell you.”

“Old letters,” said Miss Pinckney, “you don’t say—what were they about?”

“I read one or two,” said the girl. “I’d never, never have dreamed of touching them only—only they were hers—they were to him.”



“Love letters?”


Miss Pinckney sighed.

“He kept all her letters,” said she, “and they came back to her after he was killed. He was killed here in Charleston, at Fort Sumter, in the war; they brought him across here and carried him on a stretcher and she—well, well, it’s all done with and let it rest, but it is strange that those letters should have fallen into your hands.”

“Why, strange?” 150

“Why?” burst out Miss Pinckney. “Why I have dusted that old bureau inside and out a hundred times, and pulled out the drawers and pushed them in and it never shewed sign of having anything in it but emptiness, and you don’t do more’n look at it and you find those letters. It’s just as if the thing had deceived me. I don’t mind, and I don’t want to see them, they weren’t intended for other eyes than his and hers—and maybe yours since they were shewn you like that.”

“Was it wrong of me to look at them?” asked Phyl. “I never would have done it only—only—Oh, I don’t know, I somehow felt she wouldn’t mind. She seemed like a sister—I would never dream of looking at another person’s letters but she did not seem like another person. I can’t explain. It was just as though the letters were my own—just exactly as though they were my own when I found them in my hands.”

Phyl was talking with her eyes fixed before her as though she were looking across some great distance.

Miss Pinckney gave a little shiver, then supper being over she rose from the table and led the way from the room.

Richard Pinckney had dined with them but he was out for supper somewhere or another. They went to the drawing-room and had not been there for more than a few minutes when Frances Rhett was announced.

The Rhetts were on intimate enough terms with the Pinckneys to call in like this without ceremony; 151 Frances had called to speak to Miss Pinckney about some charity affair she was getting up in a hurry, but she had not been five minutes in the room before Phyl knew that she had called to look at her. To look at the girl who had come to live with the Pinckneys, the red headed girl. Phyl did not know that girls of Frances’ type dread red haired girls, if they are pretty, as rabbits dread stoats, but she did know in some uncanny way that Frances Rhett considered Richard Pinckney as her own property to be protected against all comers.

All at once and new born, the woman awoke in her instinctive, mistrustful and armed.

Frances Rhett, despite Miss Pinckney’s dispraise of her, was a most formidable person as far as the opposite sex was concerned. One of the women of whom other women say, “Well, I don’t know what he sees in her, I’m sure.”

A brunette of eighteen who looked twenty, full-blooded, full lipped, full curved, sleepy-eyed, she seemed dressed by nature for the part of the world and the flesh—with a hint of the devil in those deep, dark, pansy blue eyes that seemed now by artificial light almost black.

“Well, I’ll subscribe ten dollars,” said Miss Pinckney; “I reckon the darkie babies won’t be any the worse for a crêche and maybe not very much better for it. If you could get up an institution to distil good manners and respect for their betters into their heads I’d give you forty. I’m sure I don’t know what the coloured folk of Charleston are coming to, one of them nearly pushed me off the sidewalk 152 the other day, bag of impudence! and the way they look at one in the street with that sleery leery what-d’-you-call-yourself-you-white-trash grin on their faces s’nough to raise Cain in any one’s heart.”

“I know,” replied the dark girl, “and they are getting worse; the whip is the only thing that as far as I can see ever made them possible, and what we have now is the result of your beautiful Abolitionists.”

“Don’t call them my beautiful Abolitionists,” replied the other. “I didn’t make ’em. All the same I don’t believe in whipping and never did. It’s the whip that whipped us in the war. If white folk had treated black folk like Christians slavery would have been the greatest god-send to blacks. It was what stays are to women. But they didn’t. The low down white made slavery impossible with his whipping and oppression and we had to suffer. Well, we haven’t ended our sufferings and if these folk go on multiplying like rabbits there’s no knowing what we’ve got to suffer yet.”

Miss Rhett concurred and took her departure. “Now, that girl,” said the elder lady when Frances Rhett was gone, “is just the type of the people I was telling her about. No idea but whipping. She wouldn’t have much mercy on a human creature black or tan or white. Thick skinned. She didn’t even see that I was telling her so to her face. Wonder what brought her here this hour with her crêche. It’s just a fad. If they got up a charity to make alligator bait of the black babies so’s to sell the alligator skins to buy pants with texts on them for the Hottentots it’d be all the same to her. Something 153 to gad about with. I wish I’d kept that ten dollars in my pocket.”

Miss Pinckney went to bed early that night—before ten—and Phyl, who was free to do as she chose, sat for a while in the lower piazza watching the moon rising above the trees. She had a little plan in her mind, a plan that had only occurred to her just before the departure of Miss Pinckney for bed.

She sat now watching the garden growing ghostly bright, the sun dial becoming a moon dial, the carnations touched by that stillness and mystery which is held only in the light of the moon and the light of the dawn.

Phyl found herself sitting between two worlds. In the light of the northern moon in summer there is a vague rose tinge to be caught at times and in places when it falls full on house wall or the road on which one is walking. The piazza to-night had this living and warm touch. It seemed lit by a glorified ethereal day. A day that had never grown up and would never lose the charm of dawn.

Yet the garden to which she would now turn her eyes shewed nothing of this. Night reigned there from the cherokee roses moving in the wind to the carnations motionless, moon stricken, deathly white.

Sure that Miss Pinckney would not come down again, Phyl rose and crossed the garden towards the gate.

She wanted to see if the trysting place behind the magnolia and the bushes that grew about it were still there.

At the gate she paused for a moment, glancing 154 back at the house as Juliet Mascarene might have done on those evenings when she had an appointment with her lover. Then, pushing through the bushes and past the magnolia trees she found herself in a little half moonlit space, a natural arbour through whose roof of leaves the moonlight came in quavering shafts. She stood for a moment absolutely still whilst her eyes accustomed themselves to the light. Then she began to search for the seat she guessed to be there, and found it. It was between an oak bole and the wall of the garden, and the bushes behind had grown so that their branches half covered it. Neglected, forsaken, unknown, perhaps, to the people now living in Vernons it had lingered with the fidelity of inanimate things, protected by the foliage of the southern garden from prying eyes.

She pushed back the leaves and branches and bent them out of the way, then she took her seat, and as she did so several of the bent branches released themselves and closed half round her in a delightful embrace.

From here she could see brokenly the garden and the walk leading from the gate, with the light of the moon now strong upon the walk. The night sounds of the street just beyond the wall came mixed with the stir of foliage as the wind from the sea pressed over the trees like the hand of a mesmerist inducing sleep.

So it was here that Juliet Mascarene had sat with Rupert Pinckney on those summer nights when the world was younger, before the war. The war that had changed everything whilst leaving the roses untouched 155 and the moonlight the same on the bird-haunted garden of Vernons.

Everything was the same here in this little space of flowers and trees. But the lovers had vanished.

“For man walketh in a vain shadow and disquieteth himself in vain.” The words strayed across Phyl’s mind brought up by recollection. “He cometh up and is cut down like a flower, he fleeth as it were a shadow, and never continueth in one stay.”

The trees seemed whispering it, the eternal statement that leaves the eternal question unanswered.

The garden was talking to her, the night, the very bushes that clasped her in a half embrace; perfumes, moonlight, the voice of the wind, all were part of the spell that bound her, held her, whispered to her. It was as though the love letter of Juliet had led her here to show her as in a glass darkly the vainness of love in the vainness of life.

Vainly, for as she sat watching in imagination the forms of the lost lovers parting there at the gate, suddenly there came upon her a stirring of the soul, a joyous uplifting as though wings had been given to her mind for one wild second raising it to the heights beyond earthly knowledge.

“Love can never die.”

It was as though some ghostly voice had whispered this fact in her ear.

Juliet was not dead nor the man she loved, changed maybe but not dead. In some extraordinary way she knew it as surely as though she herself had once been Juliet.

Religion to Phyl had meant little, the Bible a book 156 of fair promises and appalling threats, vague promises but quite definite threats. As a quite small child she had gathered the impression that she was sure to be damned unless she managed to convert herself into a quite different being from the person she knew herself to be. Death was the supreme bogey, the future life a thing not to be thought of if one wanted to be happy.

Yet now, just as if she had been through it all, the truth came flooding on her like a golden sea, the truth that life never loses touch with life, that the body is only a momentary manifestation of the ever living spirit.

Meeting Street, the old house so full of memories, Juliet’s letters, the garden, they had all been stretching out arms to her, trying to tell her something, whispering, suggesting, and now all these vague voices had become clear, as though strengthened by the moonlight and the mystery of night.

Clear as lip-spoken words came the message:

“You have lived before and we say this to you, we, the things that knew you and loved you in a past life.”

A step that halted outside close to the garden gate broke the spell, the gate turned on its hinges shewing through its trellis work the form of a man. It was Pinckney just returned from some supper-party or club.

Phyl caught her breath back. Suddenly, and at the sight of Pinckney, Prue’s words of that morning entered her mind.

“Miss Julie, Massa Pinckney told me tell yo’ he 157 be at de gate t’night same’s las’ night. Done you let on as I told you.”

And here he was, the man who had been occupying her thoughts and who was beginning to occupy her dreams, and here she was as though waiting for him by appointment.

But there was much more than that. Worlds and worlds more than that, a whole universe of happiness undreamed of.

She rose from the seat and the parted bushes rustled faintly as they closed behind her.

Pinckney, who had just shut the gate, heard the whisper of the leaves, he turned and saw a figure standing half in shadow and half in moonlight. For a moment he was startled, fancying it a stranger, then he saw that it was Phyl.

“Hullo,” said he. “Why, Phyl, what are you doing here?”

The commonplace question shattered everything like a false note in music.

“Nothing,” she answered. Then without a word more she ran past him and vanished into the house.

Pinckney cast the stump of his cigar away.

“What on earth is the matter with her now?” said he to himself. “What on earth have I done?”

The word she had uttered carried half a sob with it, it might have been the last word of a quarrel.

He stood for a moment glancing around. The wild idea had entered his mind that she had been there to meet some one and that his intrusion had put her out.

But there was no one in the garden; nothing but 158 the trees and the flowers, wind shaken and lit by the moon, the same placid moon that had lit the garden of Vernons for the lovers of whom he knew nothing except by hearsay, and for whom he cared nothing at all.



When Phyl awoke from sleep next morning, the brightness of the South had lost some of its charm.

Something magical that had been forming in her mind and taking its life from Vernons had been shattered last night by Pinckney’s commonplace question.

This morning, looking back on yesterday, she could remember details but she could not recapture the essence. The exaltation that had raised her above and beyond herself. It was like the remembrance of a rose contrasted with the reality.

The whole day had been working up to that moment in the little arbour, when her mind, tricked or led, had risen to heights beyond thought, to happiness beyond experience, only to be cast down from those heights by the voice of reality.

The thing was plain enough to common sense; she had let herself be over-ruled by Imagination, working upon splendid material. Prue’s message, her own likeness to Juliet, Juliet’s letters, the little arbour, those and the magic of Vernons had worked upon her mind singly and together, exalting her into a soul-state utterly beyond all previous experience.

It was as though she had played the part of Juliet for a day, suffered vaguely and enjoyed in imagination what Juliet had suffered and enjoyed in life, 160 known Love as Juliet had known it—for a moment.

The brutal touch of the Real coming at the supreme moment to shatter and shrivel everything.

And the strange thing was that she had no regrets.

Looking back on yesterday, the things that had happened seemed of little interest. Sleep seemed to have put an Atlantic ocean between her and them.

Coming down to breakfast she found Pinckney just coming in from the garden; he said nothing about the incident of the night before, nor did she, there were other things to talk about. Seth, one of the darkies, had been ‘kicking up shines,’ he had given impudence to Miss Pinckney that morning. Impudence to Miss Pinckney! You can scarcely conceive the meaning of that statement without a personal knowledge of Miss Pinckney, and a full understanding of the magic of her rule.

Seth was, even now, packing up the quaint contraptions he called his luggage, and old Darius, the coloured odd job man, was getting a barrow out of the tool-house to wheel the said luggage to Seth’s grandmother’s house, somewhere in the negro quarters of the town. The whole affair of the impudence and dismissal had not taken two minutes, but the effects were widespread and lasting. Dinah was weeping, the kitchen in confusion; one might have thought a death had occurred in the house, and Miss Pinckney presiding at the breakfast table was voluble and silent by turns.

“Never mind,” said Pinckney with all the light-heartedness of a man towards domestic affairs. “Seth’s not the only nigger in Charleston.” 161

“I’m not bothering about his going,” replied Miss Pinckney. “He was all thumbs and of no manner of use but to make work; what upsets me is the way he hid his nature. Time and again I’ve been good to that boy. He looked all black grin and frizzled head, nothing bad in him you’d say—and then! It’s like opening a cupboard and finding a toad, and there’s Dinah going on like a fool; she’s crying because he’s going, not because he gave me impudence. Rachel’s the same, and I’m just going now to the kitchen to give them a talking to all round.”

Off she went.

“I know what that means,” said Pinckney. “It’s only once in a couple of years that there’s any trouble with servants and then—oh, my! You see Aunt Maria is not the same as other people because she loves every one dearly, and looks on the servants as part of the family. I expect she loves that black imp Seth, for all his faults, and that’s what makes her so upset.”

“Same as I was about Rafferty,” said Phyl with a little laugh.

Pinckney laughed also and their eyes met. Just like a veil swept aside, something indefinable that had lain between them, some awkwardness arising, maybe, from the Rafferty incident, vanished in that moment.

Phyl had been drawing steadily towards him lately, till, unknown to her, he had entered into the little romance of Juliet, so much so that if last night, at that magical moment when he met her on entering the gate—if at that moment he had taken her in his 162 arms and kissed her, Love might have been born instantly from his embrace.

But the psychological moment had passed, a crisis unknown to him and almost unknown to her.

And now, as if to seal the triumph of the commonplace, suddenly, the vague reservation that had lain between them, disappeared.

“Do you know,” said he, “you taught me a lesson that day, a lesson every man ought to be taught before he leaves college.”

“What was that?” asked Phyl.

“Never to interfere in household affairs. Of course Rafferty wasn’t exactly a household affair because he belonged mostly to the stable, still he was your affair more than mine. Household affairs belong to women, and men ought to leave them alone.”

“Maybe you’re right,” said Phyl, “but all the same I was wrong. Do you know I’ve never apologised for what I said.”

“What did you say?” asked he with an artless air of having forgotten.

“Oh, I said—things, and—I apologise.”

“And I said—things, and I apologise—come on, let’s go out. I have no business this morning and I’d like to show you the town—if you’d care to come.”

“What about Miss Pinckney?” asked Phyl.

“Oh, she’s all right,” he replied. “The Seth trouble will keep her busy till lunch time and I’ll leave word we’ve gone out for a walk.”

Phyl ran upstairs and put on her hat. As they 163 were passing through the garden the thought came to her just for a moment to show him the little arbour; then something stopped her, a feeling that this humble little secret was not hers to give away, and a feeling that Pinckney wouldn’t care. Dead lovers vanished so long and their affairs would have little interest for his practical mind.

The morning was warmer even than yesterday. The joyous, elusive, intoxicating spirit of the Southern spring was everywhere, the air seemed filled with the dust of sunbeams, filled with fragrance and lazy sounds. The very business of the street seemed part of a great universal gaiety over which the sky heat hazy beyond the Battery rose in a dome of deep, sublime tranquil blue.

They stopped to inspect the old slave market.

Then the remains of the building that had once been the old Planters Hotel held Phyl like a wizard whilst Pinckney explained its history. Here in the old days the travelling carriages had drawn up, piled with the luggage of fine folk on a visit to Charleston on business or pleasure. The Planters was known all through the Georgias and Virginia, all through the States in the days when General Washington and John C. Calhoun were living figures.

The ghost of the place held Phyl’s imagination. Just as Meeting Street seemed filled with friendly old memories on her first entering it, so did the air around the ruins of the “Planters.”

Then having paused to admire the gouty pillars of St. Michael’s they went into the church.

The silence of an empty church is a thing apart 164 from all other silences in the world. Deeper, more complete, more filled with voices.

As they were entering a negro caretaker engaged in dusting and tidying let something fall, and as the silence closed in on the faint echo that followed the sound they stopped, just by the font to look around them. Here the spirit of spring was not. The shafts of sunlight through the windows lit the old fashioned box pews, the double decked pulpit, and the font crowned with the dove with the light of long ago. Sunday mornings of the old time assuredly had found sanctuary here and the old congregations had not yet quite departed.

The occasional noise of the caretaker as he moved from pew to pew scarcely disturbed the tranquillity, the scene was set beyond the reach of the sounds and daily affairs of this world, and the actors held in a medium unshakable as that which holds the ghostly life of bees in amber and birds in marqueterie.

“That was George Washington’s pew,” whispered Pinckney, “at least the one he sat in once. That’s the old Pinckney pew, belonged to Bures—other people sit there now. This is our pew—Vernons. The Mascarenes had it in the old days, of course.”

Phyl looked at the pew where Juliet Mascarene had sat often enough, no doubt, whilst the preacher had preached on the vanity of life, on the delusions of the world and the shortness of Time.

Many an eloquent divine had stood in the pulpit of St. Michael’s, but none have ever preached a sermon so poignant, so real, so searching as that which the old church preaches to those who care to hear. 165

They turned to go.

Outside Phyl was silent and Pinckney seemed occupied by thoughts of his own. They had got to that pleasant stage of intimacy where conversation can be dropped without awkwardness and picked up again haphazard, but you cannot be silent long in the streets of Charleston on a spring day. They visited the market-place and inspected the buzzards and then, somehow, without knowing it, they drifted on to the water side. Here where the docks lie deserted and the green water washes the weed grown and rotting timbers of wharves they took their seats on a baulk of timber to rest and contemplate things.

“There used to be ships here once,” said he. “Lots of ships—but that was before the war.”

He was silent and Phyl glanced sideways at him, wondering what was in his mind. She soon found out. A struggle was going on between his two selves, his business self that demanded up-to-dateness, bustle, and the energetic conduct of affairs, and his other self that was content to let things lie, to see Charleston just as she was, unspoiled by the thing we call Business Prosperity. It was a battle between the South and the North in him.

He talked it out to her. Went into details, pointed to Galveston and New Orleans, those greedy sea mouths that swallow the goods of the world and give out cotton, whilst Charleston lay idle, her wharves almost deserted, her storehouses empty.

He spoke almost vehemently, spoke as a business man speaks of wasted chances and things neglected. Then, when he had finished, the girl put in her word. 166

“Well,” said she, “it may be so but I don’t want it any different from what it is.”

Pinckney laughed, the laugh of a man who is confessing a weakness.

“I don’t know that I do either,” said he.

It was rank blasphemy against Business. At the club you would often find him bemoaning the business decay of the city he loved, but here, sitting by the girl on the forsaken wharf, in the sunshine, the feeling suddenly came to him that there was something here that business would drive away. Something better than Prosperity.

It was as though he were looking at things for a moment through her eyes.

They came back through the sunlit streets to find Miss Pinckney recovered from the Seth business, and after luncheon that day, assisted by Dinah and the directions of Miss Pinckney, Phyl’s hair “went up.”

“It’s beautiful,” said the old lady, as she contemplated the result, “and more like Juliet than ever. Take the glass and look at yourself.”

Phyl did.

She did not see the beauty but she saw the change. Her childhood had vanished as though some breath had blown it away in the magic mirror. 167



In a fortnight Phyl had adjusted herself to her new environment so completely that to use Pinckney’s expression, she might have been bred and born in Charleston.

Custom and acquaintanceship had begun to dull without destroying the charm of the place and the ghostly something, the something that during the first two days had seemed to haunt Vernons, the something indefinable she had called “It” had withdrawn.

The spell, whatever it was, had been broken that night in the garden, when Pinckney’s commonplace remark had shattered the dream-state into which she had worked herself with the assistance of Prue, Juliet’s letters, the little secret arbour and the moonlight of the South.

One morning, coming down to breakfast, she found Miss Pinckney in agitation, an open telegram in one hand and a feather duster in the other.

It was one of the early morning habits of Miss Pinckney to range the house superintending things with a feather duster in hand, not so much for use as for the purpose of encouraging others. She was in 168 the breakfast room now dusting spasmodically things that did not require dusting and talking all the time, pausing every now and then to have another glance at the telegram whilst Richard Pinckney, unable to get a word in, sat on a chair, and Jim, the little coloured page, who had brought in the urn, stood by listening and admiring.

“Forty miles from here and ten from a railway station,” said Miss Pinckney, “and how am I to get there?”

“Automobile,” said Pinckney.

It was evidently not his first suggestion as to this means of locomotion, for the suggestion was received without an outburst, neither resented nor assented to in fact. They took their seats at table and then it all came out.

Colonel Seth Grangerson of Grangerson House, Grangerville, S. Carolina, was ill. Miss Pinckney was his nearest relative, the nearest at least with whom he was not fighting, and he had wired to her, or rather his son had wired to her, to come at once.

“As if I were a bird,” said the old lady. Grangerville was a backwater place, badly served by the railway, and it would take the best part of a day to get there by ordinary means.

“A car will get you there inside a couple of hours,” said Pinckney.

“As if he couldn’t have sent for Susan Revenall,” went on she as though oblivious to the suggestion, “but I suppose he’s fought with them again. I patched up a peace between them last midsummer, but I suppose the patches didn’t stick; he’s fought 169 with the Revenalls, he’s fought with the Calhouns, he’s fought with the Beauregards, he’s fought with the Tredegars—that man would fight with his own front teeth if he couldn’t get anything better to fight with, and now he’s dying I expect he reckons to have a fight with me, just to finish off with. He killed his poor wife, and Dick Grangerson would never have gone off and got drowned only for him—Oh, he’s not so bad,” turning to Phyl, “he’s good enough only for that—will fight.”

“Too much pep,” said Pinckney.

“I’m sure I don’t know what it is. They’re the queerest lot the Almighty ever put feet on, and I don’t mind saying it, even though they are relatives.” Turning to Phyl. “I suppose you know, least I suppose you think, that the Civil War was fought for the emancipation of the darkies and that they were emancipated.”


“Well, they weren’t—at least not at Grangersons. While the Colonel’s father was fighting in the Civil War, his first wife, she was a Dawson, kept things going at home, and after the war was over and he was back he took up the rule again. Emancipation—no one would have dared to say the word to him, he’d have killed you with a look. The North never beat Grangerson, it beat Davis and one man and another but it never beat Grangerson, he carried on after the war just as he carried on before, told the darkies that emancipation was nigger talk and they believed him. People came round telling them they were free, and all they got was broken heads. They 170 were a very tetchy lot, those niggers, are still what are left of them. You see, they’ve always been proud of being Grangerson’s niggers, that’s the sort of man he is, able to make them feel like that.”

“Silas helps to carry on the place, doesn’t he?” asked Pinckney.

“Yes, and just in the same tradition, only he’s finding it doesn’t work, I suspect. You see, the old darkies are all right, but when he’s forced to get new labour he has to get the new darkies and they’re all wrong, and he thrashes them and they run away. They never take the law of him either. I reckon when they get clear of Silas they don’t stop running till they get to Galveston.”

They talked of other things and then, breakfast over, Miss Pinckney turned to Richard.

“Well, what about that automobile?”

“I’ll have one at the door for you at ten,” said he.

She turned to Phyl.

“You’d better go with me—if you’d like to; you’d be lonely here all by yourself, and you may as well see Grangersons whilst the old man’s there, though maybe he’ll be gone before we arrive. We may be there for a couple of days, so you’d better take enough things.”

Then she went off to dress herself for the journey, and an hour later she appeared veiled and apparelled, Dick following her with the luggage, a bandbox and a bag of other days.

She got into the big touring car without a word. Phyl followed her and Pinckney tucked the rug round their knees. 171

“You’ve got the most careful driver in Charleston,” said he, “and he knows the road.”

Miss Pinckney nodded.

She was flying straight in the face of her pet prejudice. She was not in the least afraid of a break down or an overset. An accident that did not rob her of life or limb would indeed have been an opportunity for saying “I told you so.” She was chiefly afraid of running over things.

As Pinckney was closing the door on them who should appear but Seth—Seth in a striped sleeved jacket, all grin and frizzled head and bearing a bunch of flowers in his hand. He had not been dismissed after all. When Miss Pinckney had gone into the kitchen to pay him his wages he had carried on so that she forgave him. The flowers—her own flowers just picked from the garden—were an offering, not to propitiate but to please.

Pinckney laughed, but Miss Pinckney as she took the bouquet scarcely noticed either him or Seth, her mind was busy with something else.

She leaned over towards the chauffeur.

“Mind you don’t run over any chickens,” said she.

It was a gorgeous morning, with the sea mists blowing away on the sea wind, swamp-land and river and bayou showing streets and ponds of sapphire through the vanishing haze.

Phyl was in high spirits; the tune of Camptown Races, which a street boy had been whistling as they started, pursued her. Miss Pinckney, dumb through the danger zone where chickens and dogs and nigger 172 children might be run over, found her voice in the open country.

The bunch of flowers presented to her by Seth and which she was holding on her lap started her off.

“I hope it is not a warning,” said she; “wouldn’t be a bit surprised to find Seth Grangerson in his coffin waiting for the flowers to be put on him; what put it in to the darkey’s head to give me them! I don’t know, I’m sure, same thing I suppose that put it into his head to give me impudence.”

“You’ve taken him back,” said Phyl.

“Well, I suppose I have,” said the other in a resigned voice, “and likely to pay for my foolishness.”

Pinckney had said that it was only a two hours’ run from Charleston to Grangerville, but he had reckoned without taking into consideration the badness of some of the roads, and the intricacies of the way, for it was after one o’clock when they reached the little town beyond which, a mile to the West, lay the Colonel’s house.

Grangerville lies on the border of Clarendon county, a tiny place that yet supports a newspaper of its own, the Grangerville Courier. The Courier office, the barber’s shop and the hotel are the chief places in Grangerville, and yellow dogs and black children seem the bulk of the population, at least of a warm afternoon, when drowsiness holds the place in her keeping, and the light lies broad and steadfast and golden upon the cotton fields, and the fields of Indian corn, and the foliage of the woods that spread to southward, enchanted woods, fading away into an enchanted world of haze and sun and silence. 173

When the great Southern moon rises above the cotton fields, Romance touches even Grangerville itself, the baying of the yellow dog, darkey voices, the distant plunking of a banjo, the owl in the trees—all are the same as of old—and the houses are the same, nearly, and the people, and it is hard to believe that over there to the North the locomotives of the Atlantic Coast railway are whistling down the night, that men are able to talk to one another at a distance of a thousand miles, fly like birds, live like fish, and perpetuate their shadows in the “movies.”

Grangersons lay a mile beyond the little town, a solidly built mansion set far back from the road, and approached by an avenue of cypress. As they drew up before the pillared piazza, upon which the front door opened, from the doorway, wide open this warm day, appeared an old gentleman.

A very fine looking old man he was. His face, with its predominant nose, long white moustache and firm cleft chin, was of that resolute and obstinate type which seems a legacy of the Roman Empire, whose legionaries left much more behind them in Gaul and Britain than Trajan arches and Roman roads. He was dressed in light grey tweeds, his linen was immaculate—youthful and still a beau in point of dress, and bearing himself erect with the aid of a walking stick, a crutch handled stick of clouded malacca, Colonel Seth Grangerson, for he it was, had come to his front door, drawn by the sound of the one thing he detested more than anything in life, a motor car.

“Why, Lord! He’s not even in bed,” cried the 174 outraged Miss Pinckney, who recognised him at once. “All this journey and he up and about—it beats Seth and his impudence!”

The Colonel, whose age dimmed eyes saw nothing but the automobile, came down the steps, panama hat in hand, courtly, freezing, yet ready to explode on the least provocation. Within touch of the car he recognised the chief occupant.

“Why, God bless my soul,” cried he, “it’s Maria Pinckney.”

“Yes, it’s me,” said the lady, “and I expected to find you in bed or worse, and here you are up. Silas sent me a telegram.”

“He’s a fool,” cut in the old gentleman. “I had one of my old attacks last night, and I told him I’d be up and about in the morning—and I am. Good Gad! Maria, you’re the last person in the world I’d ever have expected to see in one of these outrageous things.” He had opened the door of the car and was presenting his arm to the lady.

“You can shut the door,” said Miss Pinckney. “I’m not getting out. The thing’s not more outrageous than your getting up like that right after an attack and dragging me a hundred miles from Charleston over hill and dale—I’m not getting out, I’m going right back—right back to Charleston.”

The Colonel turned his head and called to a darkey that had appeared at the front door.

“Take the luggage in,” said he. Miss Pinckney got out of the car despite herself, half laughing, half angry, and taking the gallantly proffered arm found herself being led up the steps of Grangersons, pausing 175 half way up to introduce Phyl, whom she had completely forgotten till now.

The Colonel, like his son Silas, as will presently be seen, had a direct way with women; the Grangersons had pretty nearly always fallen in love at sight and run away with their wives. Colonel Seth’s father had done this, meeting, marrying and fascinating the beautiful Maria Tredegar, and carrying her off under his arm like a hypnotised fowl, and from under the noses of half a dozen more eligible suitors, just as now, the Colonel was carrying Maria Pinckney off into his house half against her will. Phyl following them, gazed round at the fine old oak panelled hall, from which they were led into the drawing room, a room not unlike the drawing room at Vernons, but larger and giving a view of the garden where the oleanders and cherokee money and the crescent leaves of the blue gum trees were moving in the wind. Colonel Seth, despite the war, had plenty of roses and Grangersons was kept up in the old style. Just as in Nuremberg and Vittoria we see mediæval cities preserved, so to speak, under glass, so at Grangersons one found the old Plantation, house and all, miraculously intact, living, almost, one might say, breathing.

The price of cotton did not matter much to the Colonel, nor the price of haulage. This son of the Southerner who had refused to be beaten by the North in the war, cared for nothing much beyond the ring of sky that made his horizon. Twice a year he made a visit to Charleston, driving in his own carriage, occasionally he visited Richmond or Durham, 176 where he had an interest in tobacco; New York he had never seen. He loathed railways and automobiles, mainly, perhaps, because they were inventions of the North, that is to say the devil. He had a devilish hatred of the North. Not of Northerners, but just of the North.

The word North set his teeth on edge. It did not matter to him that Charleston was picking up some prosperity in the way of phosphates, or that Chattanooga was smelting ore into money, or that industrial prosperity was abroad in the land; he was old enough to have a recollection of old days, and from the North had come the chilly blast that had blown away that age.

A servant brought in cake and wine to stay the travellers till dinner time, refreshment that Miss Pinckney positively refused at first.

“You will stay the night,” said the Colonel, as he helped her, “and Sarah will show you to your rooms when we have had a word together.”

Miss Pinckney, sipping her wine, made no reply, then placing the scarcely touched glass on the table and with her bonnet strings thrown back, she turned to the Colonel.

“Do you see the likeness?” said she.

“What likeness?” asked the old gentleman.

“Why, God bless my soul, the likeness to Juliet Mascarene. Phyl, turn your face to the light.”

The Colonel, searching in his waistcoat pocket, found a pair of folding glasses and put them on.

“She gets it from her mother’s side,” said Miss 177 Pinckney, “the Lord knows how it is these things happen, but it’s Juliet, isn’t it?”

The Colonel removed his glasses, wiped them with his handkerchief, and returned them to his pocket.

“It is,” said he. Then in the fine old fashion he turned to the girl, raised her hand to his lips and kissed it.

“Phyl,” said Miss Pinckney, “would not you like to have a look at the garden whilst we have a chat? Old people’s talk isn’t of much interest to young people.”

“Old people,” cried the warrior. “There are no old people in this room.” He made for the door and opened it for Phyl, then he accompanied her into the hall, where at the still open door he pointed the way to the garden.



Outside Phyl stood for a moment to breathe the warm scented air and look around her.

To be treated like a child by any other person than Maria Pinckney would have incensed her, all the same to be told to do a thing because it was good for her, or because it was a pleasant thing to do, in the teller’s opinion, was an almost certain way of making her do the exact opposite.

The garden did not attract her, the place did.

That cypress avenue with the sun upon it, that broad sweep of drive in front of the house, the distant peeps of country between trees and the languorous lazy atmosphere of the perfect day fascinated her mind. She came along the house front to the right, and found herself at the gate of the stable yard.

The stable yard of Grangersons was an immense flagged quadrangle bounded on the right, counting from the point of entrance, by the kitchen premises.

There was stable room for forty horses, coach-house accommodation for a dozen or more carriages.

The car had been run into one of the coach-houses and the yard stood empty, sunlit, silent, save for the voices of the pigeons wheeling in the air, or strutting on the roof of the great barn adjoining the stables. 179

One of the stable doors was open and as Phyl crossed the yard a young man appeared at the open door, shaded his eyes and looked at her. Then he came forward. It was Silas Grangerson, and Phyl thought he was the handsomest and most graceful person she had ever seen in her life.

Silas was a shade over six feet in height, dark, straight, slim yet perfectly proportioned; his face was extraordinary, the most vivid thing one would meet in a year’s journey, and with a daring, and at times, almost a mad look unforgettable when once glimpsed. Like the Colonel and like his ancestors Silas had a direct way with women.

“Hallo,” said he, with the sunny smile of old acquaintanceship, “where have you sprung from?”

Phyl was startled for a moment, then almost instantly she came in touch with the vein and mood and mind of the other and laughed.

“I came with Miss Pinckney,” said she.

“You’re not from Charleston?”

“Yes, indeed I am.”

“But where do you live in Charleston? I’ve never seen you and I know every—besides you don’t look as if you belonged to Charleston—I don’t believe you’ve come from there.”

“Then where do you think I’ve come from?”

“I don’t know,” said Silas laughing, “but it doesn’t matter as long as you’re here, does it? ’Scuse my fooling, won’t you—I wouldn’t with a stranger, but you don’t seem a stranger somehow—though I don’t know your name.”

“Phylice Berknowles,” said Phyl, glancing up at 180 him and half wondering how it was that, despite his good looks, his manhood, and their total unacquaintanceship, she felt as little constrained in his presence as though he were a boy.

“And my name is Silas Grangerson. Say, is Maria Pinckney in the house with father?”

“She is.”

“Talking over old times, I s’pose?” said Silas.


“I can hear them. It’s always the same when they get together—and I suppose you got sick of it and came out?”

“No, they put me out—asked me wouldn’t I like to look at the garden.”

Already she had banded herself with him in mild opposition to the elders.

“Great—Jerusalem. They’re just like a pair of old horses wanting to be left quiet and rub their nose-bags together. Look at the garden! I can hear them—come on and look at the horses.”

He led the way to a loose box and opened the upper door.

“That’s Flying Fox, she’s mine, the fastest trotter in the Carolinas—you know anything about horses?”


“I thought you did, somehow. Mind! she doesn’t take to strangers. Mind! she bites like an alligator.”

“Not me,” said Phyl, fondling the lovely but fleering-eyed head protruding above the lower door.

“So she doesn’t,” said Silas admiringly, “she’s 181 taken to you—well, I don’t blame her. Here’s John Barleycorn,” opening another door, “own brother to the Fox, he’s Pap’s; he’s a bolter, and kicks like a duck gun. She’s got all her vice at one end of her and he at the other, match pair.” He whistled between his teeth as he put up the bars, then he shewed other horses, Phyl watching his every movement, and wondering what it was that gave pleasure to her in watching. Silas moved, or seemed to move, absolutely without effort, and his slim brown hands touched everything delicately, as though they were touching fragile porcelain, yet those same hands could bend an iron bar, or rein in John Barleycorn even when the bit was between the said J. B.’s teeth.

“That’s the horses,” said he, flinging open a coach-house door, “and that’s the shandrydan the governor still drives in when he goes to Charleston. Look at it. It was made in the forties, and you should see it with a darkey on the box and Pap inside, and all his luggage behind, and he going off to Charleston, and the nigger children running after it.”

Phyl inspected the mustard-yellow vehicle. Then he closed the door on it, put up the bar, and, the business of showing things over, did a little double shuffle as though Phyl were not present, or as though she were a boy friend and not a strange young woman.

“Say, do you like poetry?” said he, breaking off and seeming suddenly to remember her presence.

“No,” said Phyl. “At least—”

“Well, here’s some. 182

“‘There was an old hen and she had a wooden leg, She went to the barn and she laid a wooden egg, She laid it right down by the barn—don’t you think.’”

“Well?” said she, laughing.

“‘It’s just about time for another little drink—’ some sense in poetry like that, isn’t there? But all the drinks are in the house and I don’t want to go in. I’m hiding from Pap. Last night when he was ratty with rheumatism, he let out at me, saying the young people weren’t any good, saying Maria Pinckney was the only person he knew with sense in her head, called me a name because I poured him out a dose of liniment instead of medicine, by mistake—though he didn’t swallow it—and wished Maria was here. So I just sent Jake, the page boy, off with a wire to her; didn’t tell any one, just sent it. Come on and look at the garden—you’ve got to look at the garden, you know.”

He led the way past the barn to a farmyard, where hens were clucking and scratching and scraping in the sunshine; the deep double bass grunting of pigs came from the sties, by the low wall across which one could see the country stretching far away, the cotton fields, the woods, all hazed by the warmth of the afternoon.

“Let’s sit down and look at the garden,” said he, pointing to a huge log by the near wall—“and aren’t the convolvuluses beautiful?”

“Beautiful,” said Phyl, falling into the vein of the other. “And listen to the roses.”

“They grunt like that because it’s near dinner 183 time—they’re pretty much like humans.” He took a cigarette case from his pocket and a cigarette from the case.

“You don’t mind smoking, do you?”

“Not a bit.”

“Have one?”

“I daren’t.”

“Maria Pinckney won’t know.”

“It’s not her—I smoked one once and it made me sick.”

“Well, try another—I won’t look if you are.”

“They’ll—she’ll smell it.”

“Not she, you can eat some parsley, that takes the smell away.”

“Oh, I don’t mind telling her—it’s only—well, there.”

She took a cigarette and he lit it for her.

“Blow it through your nose,” he commanded, “that’s the way. Now let’s pretend we’re two old darkies sitting on a log, you push against me and I’ll push against you, you’re Jim and I’m Uncle Joseph. ‘What yo’ crowding me for, Jim,’” he squeezed up gently against her, and Phyl jumped to her feet.

He glanced up at her, sideways, laughing, and for the life of her she could not be angry.

“Don’t you think we’d better go and look at the garden?” said she.

“In a minute, sit down again. I won’t knock against you. It was only my fun. We’ll pretend I’m Pap, and you’re Maria Pinckney, if you like. You’ve let your cigarette go out.” 184

“So I have.”

“You can light it from mine.”

Phyl hesitated and was lost.

It was the nearest thing to a kiss, and as she drew back with the lighted cigarette between her lips, she felt a not unpleasant sense of wickedness, such as the virtuous boy feels when led to adventure by the bad boy. Sitting on a log, smoking cigarettes, talking familiarly with a stranger, taking a light from him in such a fashion with her face so close to his that his eyes— They smoked in silence for a moment.

Then Silas spoke:

“Do you ever feel lonesome?” said he.


“So do I.”

Silence for a moment. Then:

“I go off to Charleston when I feel like that—once in a fortnight or so—Where do you live in Charleston?”

“I live with Miss Pinckney—I thought you knew.”

“You didn’t say that. You only said you came with her.”

“Well, I live with her at Vernons. I’m Irish, y’ know. My—my father died in Charleston, and I came from Ireland to live with Miss Pinckney. Mr. Richard Pinckney is my guardian.”

“Your which? Dick Pinckney your guardian! Why, he’s not older than I am—that fellow your guardian—why, he wears a flannel petticoat.”

“He doesn’t,” cried Phyl, flinging away the cigarette, which had become noxious, and roused to 185 sudden anger by the slighting tone of the other. “What do you mean by saying such a thing?”

“Oh, I only meant that he’s too awfully proper for this life. He goes to Charleston races, but never backs a horse, scarcely, and one Mint Julep would make him see two crows. He’s a sort of distant relation of ours.”

Phyl was silent. She resented his criticism of her friend, and just in this moment the something mad and harum scarum in the character of Silas seemed shown up to her with electrical effect. Criticism is a most dangerous thing to indulge in, unless anonymously in the pages of a journal, for the right to criticise has to be made good in the mind of the audience, unless the audience is hostile to the criticised.

Then she said: “I don’t know anything about Mint Juleps or race courses, but I do know that Mr. Pinckney has been—is—is my friend, and I’d rather not talk about him, if you please.”

“Now, you’re huffed,” cried Silas exultingly, as though he had scored a point at some game.

“I’m not.”

“You are—you’ve flushed.”

Phyl turned pale, a deadly sign.

“I’d never dream of getting out of temper with you,” said she.

It was his turn to flush. You might have struck Silas Grangerson without upsetting his balance, but the slightest suspicion of a sneer raised all the devil in him. Had Phyl been a man he would have 186 knocked him off the log. He cast the stump of his cigarette on the ground and pounded it with his heel. Had there been anything breakable within reach he would have broken it. Her anger with him vanished and she laughed.

“You’ve flushed now,” said she.



When they came round to the front of the house they found Colonel Grangerson and Miss Pinckney coming down the steps.

They were going to the garden in search of Phyl.

“We’ve been looking at the horses,” said Silas, after he had greeted Miss Pinckney. “No, sir, I did not leave any of the doors open, but I’ve been looking for Sam with a blacksnake whip to liven him up. He left the grey without grooming after she was brought in this morning, and I was rubbing her down myself when this lady came into the yard.”

“I’ll skin that nigger,” cried the Colonel.

“I reckon I’ll save you that trouble, sir,” replied the son, as they turned garden-wards.

Silas had little use for “r’s” and said “suh” for “sir” and “wah” for “war.” He was also quite a different person in the presence of his father from what he was when alone or in the presence of strangers.

In the presence of his father, past generations spoke in his every word and action, he became sedate, deferential, leisurely. It was not fear of the elder man that caused this change, it was reflection from him.

The shadows were long in the garden, and away 188 across the pastures, glimpsed beyond the cypress hedge and bordering the cotton fields, the pond-shadows cast by the live oaks at noon had become river shadows, flowing eastward; the murmur of bees filled the air like a haze of sound, and here and there as they passed a bush coloured flowers detached themselves and became butterflies.

They sat down on a great old stone bench lichened and sun warmed to enjoy the view, and the Colonel talked of tobacco and politics and cotton, including them all in his conversation in the grand patriarchal manner.

Phyl understanding little, and half drowsed by the warmth and the buzzing of the bees and the voice of the speaker, had given herself up to that lazy condition of mind which is the next best thing to sleep, when she was suddenly aroused. She was seated between Miss Pinckney and Silas. Silas had pinched her little finger.

She snatched her hand away, and turned towards him. He was looking away over the pastures; his profile showed nothing but its absolute correctness. Miss Pinckney had noticed nothing, and the Colonel, who had finished with cotton, looking at his watch, declared that it was close on dinner time.

After supper that night, Phyl found herself in the garden. Silas had not appeared at supper; the Colonel had brought down a book of old photographs, photographs of people and places dead or changed, and he and Miss Pinckney became so absorbed in them that they had little thought for the girl.

She went out to look at the moon, and it was 189 worth looking at, rising like a honey coloured shield above the belt of the eastern woods.

The whole world was filled with the moonlight, warm tinted, and ghostly as the light of vanished days, white moths were flitting above the bushes, and on the almost windless air the voice of an owl came across the cotton fields.

Phyl reached the seat where they had all sat that afternoon. It was still warm from the all-day sunshine, and she sat down to rest and listen.

The owl had ceased crying, and through the league wide silence faint sounds far and near told of the life moving and thrilling beneath the night; the boom of a beetle, voices from the distant road, and now and then a whisper of wind rising and dying out across the garden and the trees.

A faint sound came from behind the seat, and before Phyl could turn two warm hands covered her eyes.

She plucked them away and stood up.

“I wish you wouldn’t do things like that,” she cried. “How dare you?”

“I couldn’t help it,” replied the other, “you looked so comfortable. I didn’t mean to startle you. I thought you must have heard me coming across the grass.”

“I didn’t—and you shouldn’t have done it.”

“Well, I’m sorry. There, I’ve apologised, make friends.”

“There is nothing to make friends about,” she replied stiffly. “No, I don’t want to shake hands—I’m not angry, let us go into the house.” 190

“Don’t,” said Silas imploringly. “He and she are sitting over that old album, comparing notes. I saw them through the window, that’s why I came to look for you in the garden. Do you know, I believe the Governor was gone once on Maria, years ago, but they never got married. He married my mother instead.”

Phyl forgot her resentment.

The faint idea that Colonel Grangerson and Maria Pinckney had perhaps been more than friends in long gone days, had strayed across her mind, to be dismissed as a fancy. It interested her to find Silas confirming it.

“Of course, I can’t say for certain,” he went on, lighting a cigarette. “I only judge by the way they go on when they’re together, and the way he talks of her. Say, do you ever want to grow old?”

“No, I don’t—ever.”

“Neither do I. I hope I’ll be kicked to death by a horse, or drowned or shot before I’m forty. I don’t want to die in any beds with doctors round me. I reckon if I’m ever like that I’ll drink the liniment instead of the medicine—same as I nearly drenched Pap—and go to heaven with a red label for my ticket. Sit down for a while and let’s talk.”

“No, I don’t care to sit down.”

“I won’t touch you. I promise.”

Phyl hesitated a moment and then sat down. She was not afraid of Silas in the least, but his tricks of an overgrown boy did not please her; it seemed to her sometimes as though his irresponsibility was less an inheritance from youth, than from some ancestor 191 ill-balanced to the point of craziness. If any other man of his age had acted and spoken to her as he had done she would have smacked his face, but Silas was Silas, and his good looks and seeming innocence, and something really charming that lay away at the back of his character and gave colour to this personality, managed, somehow, to condone his queerness of conduct.

All the same she sat a foot away from him on the seat, and kept her hands folded on her lap.

Silas sat for a while smoking in silence, then he spoke.

“Where’s this you said you came from?”


“You don’t talk like a Paddy a bit.”

“Don’t I?”

“Not a bit, nor look like one.”

“Have you seen many Irish people?”

“No, mostly in pictures—comic papers, you know, like Puck.”

“I think it’s a shame,” broke out Phyl. “People are always making fun of the Irish, drawing them like monkeys with great upper lips—but it’s only ignorant people who never travel who think of them like that.”

“That’s so, I expect,” replied Silas, either unconscious of the dig at himself or undesirous of a quarrel, “and the next few dollars I have to spare I’ll go to Ireland. I’m crazy now to see it.”

“What’s made you crazy to see it?”

“Because it’s the place you come from.”

Phyl sniffed. 192

“I hate compliments.”

“I wasn’t complimenting you, I was complimenting Ireland,” said Silas sweetly. She was silent, a white moth passing close to her held her gaze for a moment, then it flitted away across the bushes.

“Let’s forget Ireland for a moment,” said she, “and talk of Charleston. Do you know many people there?”

“I know most every one. The Pinckneys and Calhouns and Tredegars and Revenalls and—”


“Yes—but there are a dozen Rhetts; same as there’s half a hundred Pinckneys and Calhouns, families, I mean. What’s his name—Richard Pinckney, your guardian, is engaged to a Rhett.”

“He is not.”

“He is—Venetia Frances, the one that lives in Legare Street. Why, I’ve seen them canoodling often, and every one says they are engaged.”

“Well, he’s not, or Miss Pinckney would have told me.”

“Oh, she’s blind. I tell you he is, and she’ll be your guardian when he’s married her.”

“That she won’t,” said Phyl.

“How’ll you help it? A man and wife are one.”

“He’s only guardian of my property.”

“Well, Heaven help your property when she gets a finger in the pie; she’ll spend it on hats—sure.”

This outrageous statement, uttered with a laugh, left Phyl cold. The statement about Frances Rhett had disturbed her, she could not tell exactly why, for it was none of her business whom Pinckney might 193 choose to marry—still—Frances Rhett! It was almost as though an antagonism had existed between them since that afternoon when she had seen Frances first, driving in the car with Richard Pinckney.

She rose to her feet and Silas rose also, throwing away the end of his cigarette.

“Going into the house?” said he.


“Well, you’ll be off to-morrow morning, and I won’t see you, for I have to be out early, but I’ll see you in Charleston, though not at Vernons maybe, for I’m not in love with Richard Pinckney, and I don’t care much for visiting his house. But I’ll see you somewhere, sure.”

“Good-bye,” said she holding out her hand. He took it, held it, and then, all of a sudden, she found herself in his arms.

Helpless as a child, in his arms and smothered with kisses. He kissed her on the mouth, on the forehead, on the chin, and with a last kiss on the mouth that made her feel as though her life were going from her, he vanished. Vanished amidst the bushes whilst she stood, tottering, dazed, breathless, outraged, yet—in some extraordinary way not angry. Pulled between tears and laughter, resentment, and a strange new feeling suddenly born in her from his burning lips, and the strength that had held her for a moment to itself.

In one moment, and as though with the stroke of a sword, Silas had cut down the barrier that had divided her from the reality of things. He had kissed away her childhood. 194

Then throwing out her hands as though pushing away some presence that was surrounding her, she ran to the house. In the hall she sat down for a moment to recover herself before going into the drawing room, where Miss Pinckney and the Colonel were closing the book which held for them the people and the places they had known in youth, and between its leaves who knows what old remembrances, like the withered flower that has once formed part of a summer’s day.



They started at ten o’clock next morning for Charleston, the Colonel standing on the house steps and waving his hand to them as they drove off. Silas was nowhere to be seen, he had gone out before breakfast, so the butler said, and had not returned. Miss Pinckney resented this casual treatment.

“He ought to have been here to bid us good-bye,” said she, as they cleared the avenue. “He’s got the name for being a mad creature, but even mad creatures may show common courtesy. I’m sure I don’t know where he gets his manners from unless it’s his mother’s lot, same place as he got his good looks.”

“Why do you say he’s mad?” asked Phyl.

“Because he is. Not exactly mad, maybe, but eccentric, he swum Charleston harbour with his clothes on because some one dared him, and was nearly drowned with the tide coming in or going out, I forget which; and another day he got on the engine at Charleston station and started the train, drove it too, till they managed to climb over the top of the carriages or something and stop him—at least that’s the story. He’ll come to a bad end, that boy, unless he mends his ways. Lots of people say he’s got good in him. So he has, perhaps, but it’s just 196 that sort that come to the worst end, unless the good manages to fight the bad and get it under in time.”

Phyl said nothing. Her mind was disturbed. She had slept scarcely at all during the night, and her feelings towards Silas Grangerson, now that she was beyond his reach, were alternating in the strangest way between attraction and repulsion.

They would have repelled the thought of him entirely but for the instinctive recognition of the fact that his conduct had been the result of impulse, the impulse of a child, ill governed, and accustomed to seize what it wanted. Added to that was the fact of his entire naturalness. From the moment of their first meeting he had talked to her as though they were old acquaintances. Unless when talking to his father, everything in his manner, tone, conversation was free, unfettered by convention, fresh, if at times startling. This was his great charm, and at the same time his great defect, for it revealed his want of qualities no less than his qualities.

Do what she could she was unable to escape from the incident of last night, it was as though those strong arms had not quite released their hold upon her, as though Pan had broken from the bushes, shown her by his magic things she had never dreamed of, and vanished.

It was nearly two o’clock when they reached Vernons. Richard Pinckney was at home, and at the sight of him Phyl’s heart went out towards him. Clean, well groomed, honest, kindly, he was like a breath of fresh sea air after breathing tropical swamp atmosphere. 197

Strange to say Miss Pinckney seemed to feel somewhat the same.

“Yes, we’re back,” said she, as they passed into the dining-room where some refreshments were awaiting them, “and glad I am to be back. Vernons smells good after Grangersons. Oh, dear me, what is it that clings to that place? It’s like opening an old trunk that’s been shut for years. I told Seth Grangerson, right out flat, he ought to get away from there into the world somewhere, but there he sits clinging to his rheumatism and the past. I declare I nearly cried last night as he was showing me all those old pictures.”

“He’s not very ill then,” said Richard.

“Ill! Not he. It was that fool Silas sent the telegram. Just an attack of rheumatism.”

She went upstairs to change and the two young people went into the garden, where Richard Pinckney was having some alterations done.

On the day Phyl’s hair went up it seemed to Richard that a new person had come to live with them. Phyl had suddenly turned into a young woman—and such a young woman! He had never considered her looks before, to young men of his age and temperament girls in pigtails are, as far as the manhood in them is concerned, little more and sometimes less than things. But Phyl with her hair up was not to be denied, and had he not been philandering after Frances Rhett, and had Phyl been a total stranger suddenly seen, it is quite possible that a far warmer feeling than admiration might have been the result. As it was she formed a new interest in life. 198

He showed her the alterations he was making, slight enough and causing little change in the general plan of the garden.

“I scarcely like doing anything,” said he, “but that new walk will be no end of an improvement, and it will save that bit of grass which is being trodden to death by people crossing it, then there’s all those bushes by the gate, they’re going, those behind the tree,—a little space there will make all the difference in the world.”

“Behind the magnolia?”


“I wish you wouldn’t,” said Phyl.


“Because they have been there always and—well, look!”

She led the way behind the tree, pushed the bushes aside and disclosed the seat.

She no longer felt that she was betraying a secret. Her experience at Grangersons had in some way made Vernons seem to her now really her home, and Richard Pinckney closer to her in relationship.

“Why, how did you know that was there?” said Richard. “I’ve never seen it.”

“Juliet Mascarene used to sit there with—with some one she was in love with. I found some of her old letters and they told about it—see, it’s a little arbour, used to be, though it’s all so overgrown now.”

“Juliet,” said he. “That was the girl who died. I have heard Aunt Maria talk about her and she 199 keeps her room just as it used to be. Who was the somebody?”

“It was a Mr. Rupert Pinckney.”

“I knew there was a love story of some sort connected with her, but I never worried about the details. So they used to come and sit here.”

“Yes, he’d come to the gate at night and she’d meet him. Her people did not want her to marry him and so they had to meet in secret.”

“That was a long time ago.”

“Before you were born,” said Phyl.

He looked at her.

“Aunt is always saying how like you are to her,” said he, “but she’s mad on family likenesses, and I never thought of it. It may be a want in me but I’ve never taken much interest in dead relatives; but somehow, finding this little place tucked away here gives one a jog. It’s like finding a nest in a tree. How long have you known of it?”

“Oh, some time. I found a bundle of her old letters—” she paused. Richard Pinckney had taken his place on the little seat, just as one sits down in an armchair to see if it is comfortable, and was leaning back amidst the bush branches.

“This is all right,” said he, “sit down, there’s lots of room—you found her letter, tell us all about it.”

Phyl sat down and told the little story. It seemed to interest him.

“The Pinckneys lost money,” said he, “and that’s why the old Mascarene birds were set against her marrying him, I suppose. Makes one wild that sort of thing. What right have people to interfere?” 200

“Money seems everything in this world,” said Phyl.

“It’s not—it seems to be, but it’s not. Money can’t buy happiness after one is grown up. You remember I told you that over in Ireland; when candy and fishing rods mean happiness money is all right—after that money is useful enough, but it’s the making of it and not the spending it that counts,—that and a lot of things that have nothing to do with money. If the Mascarenes hadn’t been fools they’d have seen that a poor man with kick in him—and the Pinckneys always had that—was as good as a rich man, and those two might have got married.”

“No,” said Phyl, “they never could have got married, he had to die. He was killed, you know, at the beginning of the war.”

“You’re a fatalist.”

“Well, things happen.”

“Yes, but you can stop them happening very often.”


“Just by willing it.”

“Yes,” said Phyl meditatively, “but how are you to use your will against what comes unexpectedly. Now that telegram yesterday morning took me to Grangersons with Miss Pinckney. Suppose—suppose I had broken my leg or, say, fallen into a well there and got drowned—that would have been Fate.”

“No,” said Pinckney, “carelessness, the telegram would not have drowned you, but your carelessness in going too close to the well.” 201

“Suppose,” said Phyl, “instead of that, Mr. Silas Grangerson had shot me by accident with a gun—the telegram would have brought me to that without any carelessness of mine.”

“No, it couldn’t,” said Pinckney lightly, “it would still have been your own fault for going near such a hare-brained scamp. Oh, I’m only joking, what I really mean is that nine times out of ten the thing people call Fate is nothing more than want of foresight.”

“And the tenth time it is Fate,” said Phyl rising.



Next morning brought Phyl a letter. It came by the early post, so that she got it in her bedroom before coming down.

Phyl had few correspondents and she looked at the envelope curiously before opening it.

“Miss Berknowles,

at Vernons. Charleston.”

ran the address written in a large, boyish, yet individual hand. She knew at once and by instinct whom it was from.

“I’m coming to Charleston in a day or two, and I want to see you,” ran the letter which had neither address nor date, “but I’m not coming to Pinckneys. I’ll be about town and sure to find you somewhere. I can’t get you out of my mind since last night. Tried to, but can’t.”

That was all. Phyl put the letter back in its envelope. She was not angry, she was disturbed. There was an assurance about Silas Grangerson daunting in its simplicity and directness. Something that raised opposition to him in her heart, yet paralysed it. Instinct told her to avoid him, to drive him from her mind, ay and something more than instinct. The spirit of Vernons, the calm sweet soul of the place, that seemed to hold the past and the present, Juliet and herself, peace and happiness 203 with the promise of all good things in the future, this spirit rose up against Silas Grangerson as though he were the antagonist to happiness and peace, Juliet and herself, the present and the past.

Rose up, without prevailing entirely.

Silas had impressed himself upon her mind in such a manner that she could not free herself from the impression. Young as she was, with the terribly clear perception of the male character which all women possess in different degrees, she recognised that Silas was dangerous to that logical and equitable state of existence we call happiness, not on account of his wildness or his eccentricities, but because of some want inherent in his nature, something that spoke vaguely in his words and his actions, in his handsome face and in his careless and graceful manner.

All the same she could not free herself from the impression he had made upon her, she could not drive him from her mind, he had in some way paralysed her volition, called forces to his aid from some unknown part of her nature, perhaps with those kisses which she still felt upon the very face of her soul.

She came down to breakfast, and afterwards finding herself alone with Miss Pinckney, she took Silas’s letter from her pocket and handed it to her. She had been debating in her own mind all breakfast time as to whether she ought to show the letter; the struggle had been between her instinct to do the right thing, and a powerful antagonism to this instinct which was a new thing in her. 204

The latter won.

And then, lo and behold, when she found herself alone with Miss Pinckney in the sunlit breakfast room, almost against her will and just as though her hand had moved of its own volition, she put it in her pocket and produced the letter.

Miss Pinckney read it.

“Well, of all the crazy creatures!” said she. “Why, he has only met you once. He’s mad! No, he isn’t—he’s a Grangerson. I know them.”

She stopped short and re-read the letter, turned it about and then laid it down.

“Just as if he’d known you for years. And you scarcely spoke to him. Did he say anything to you as if he cared for you?”

“No, he didn’t,” said Phyl quite truthfully.

“Did he look at you as if he cared for you?”

“No,” replied the other, dreading another question. But Miss Pinckney did not put it. She could not conceive a man kissing a girl who had never betrayed his feelings for her by word or glance.

“Well, it gets me. It does indeed; acting like a dumb creature and then writing this— Do you care for him?”

“I—I—no—you see, I don’t know him—much.”

“Well, he seems to know you pretty well, there’s no doubt about one thing, Silas Grangerson can make up his mind pretty quick. He won’t come to Vernons, won’t he? Well, maybe it’s better for him not, for I’ve no patience with oddities. That’s what’s wrong with him, he’s an oddity, and it’s those sort of people make the trouble in life—they’re 205 worse than whisky and cards for bringing unhappiness. Years and years and years ago—I’m telling you this though I’ve never told it to any one else—Seth Grangerson, Silas’s father, seemed to care for me, not much, still he seemed to care. Then one day all at once he came into the room where I was, through the window, and told me to come off and get married to him, wanted me to go away right off. I was a fool in those days, but not all a fool, and when he tried to put his arm round my waist, my hand went up and smacked his face.

“We are good enough friends now, but I’ve often thought of what I escaped by not marrying him. You saw him and the life he’s leading at that out of the way place, but you didn’t see his obstinacy and his queerness, and Silas is ten times worse, more crazy—well, there, you’re warned—but mind you I don’t want to be meddling. I’ve seen so many carefully prepared marriages turn out pure miseries, and so many crazy matches turn out happily, that I’m more than cautious in giving advice. Seems to me that people before they are married are quite different creatures to what they turn out after they are married.”

“But I don’t want to get married,” said Phyl.

“No, but, seems to me, Silas does,” replied the other.



One bright morning three days later, as Phyl was crossing Meeting Street near the Charleston Hotel, whom should she meet but Silas.

Silas in town get up, quite a different looking individual from the Silas of Grangersons, dressed in perfectly fitting light grey tweed, a figure almost condoning one for the use of that old-time, half-discredited word “Elegant.”

“There you are,” said Silas, his face lighting up. “I thought it wouldn’t be long before I met you. Meeting Street is like a rabbit run, and I reckon the whole of Charleston passes through it twice a day.”

His manner was genuinely frank and open, and he seemed to have completely forgotten the incident of the kissing. Phyl said nothing for a moment; she felt put out, angry at having been caught like a rabbit, and not over pleased at being compared to one.

Then she spoke freezingly enough:

“I don’t know much about the habits of Charleston; you will not find me here every day. I have only been out twice here alone and—I’m in a hurry.”

“Why, what’s the matter with you?” cried Silas in a voice of astonishment.

“Nothing.” 207

“But there is, you’re not angry with me, are you?”

“Not in the least,” replied the other, quite determined to avoid being drawn into explanations.

“Well, that’s all right. You don’t mind my walking with you a bit?”


“I only came here last night, and I’m putting up at the Charleston,” said Silas. “Of course there are a lot of friends I could stay with but I always prefer being free; one is never quite free in another person’s house; for one thing you can’t order the servants about, though, upon my word, now-a-days one can’t do that, much, anywhere.”

“I suppose not,” said Phyl.

The fact was being borne in upon her that Silas in town was a different person from Silas in the country, or seemed so; more sedate and more conventional. She also noticed as they walked along that he was saluted by a great many people, and also, before she had done with him that morning, she noticed that the leery, impudent looking, coloured folk seemed to come under a blight as they passed him, giving him the wall and yards to spare. It was as though the impersonification of the blacksnake whip were walking with her as well as a most notoriously dangerous man, a man who would strike another down, white or coloured, for a glance, not to say a word.

She had come out on business, commissioned by Miss Pinckney to purchase a ball of magenta Berlin wool. Miss Pinckney still knitted antimacassars, and the construction of antimacassars is impossible 208 without Berlin wool—that obsolete form of German Frightfulness.

She bestowed the things on poor folk to brighten their homes.

When Phyl went into the store to buy the wool Silas waited outside, and when she came out they walked down the street together.

She had intended returning straight home after making her purchase but they were walking now not towards Vernons but towards the Battery.

“What do you do with yourself all day?” asked Silas, suddenly breaking silence.

“Oh, I don’t know,” she replied, “nothing much—we go out for drives.”

“In that old basket carriage thing?”

“With Miss Pinckney.”

“I know, I’ve seen her often—what else do you do?”

“Oh, I read.”

“What do you read?”


“Doesn’t Pinckney ever take you out?”

“No, I don’t go out much with Mr. Pinckney; you see, he’s generally so busy.”

Silas sniffed. They had reached the Battery and were standing looking over the blue water of the harbour. The day was perfect, dreamy, heavenly, warm and filled with sea scents and harbour sounds; scarcely a breath of wind stirred across the water where a three-master was being towed to her moorings by a tug.

“She’s coming up to the wharves,” said Silas. 209 “They steer by the spire of St. Philips, the line between there and Fort Sumpter is all deep water. How’d you like to be a sailor?”

“Wouldn’t mind,” said Phyl.

“How’d you like to take a boat—I mean a decent sized fishing yawl and go off round the world, or even down Florida way? Florida’s fine, you don’t know Florida, it’s got two coasts and it’s hard to tell which is the best. From Indian River right round and up to Cedar Keys there’s all sorts of fishing, and you can camp out on the reefs; one cooks one’s own food and you can swim all day. There’s tarpon and barracuda and sword fish, and nights when there’s a moon you could see to read a book.”

“How jolly!”

“Let’s go there?”

“How do you mean?”

“Oh, just you and I. I’m fed up with everything. We could have a boatman to help sail and steer.”

He spoke lightly and laughingly, and without much enthusiasm and as though he were talking to some one of his own sex, and Phyl, not knowing how to take him, said nothing.

He went on, his tone growing warmer.

“I’m not joking, I’m dead sick of Grangersons and Charleston, and I reckon you are too—aren’t you?”


“You may think so, but you are, all the same, without knowing it.”

“I think you are talking nonsense,” said Phyl hurriedly, 210 fighting against a deadly sort of paralysis of mind such as one may suppose comes upon the mind of a bird under the spell of a serpent.

“No one could be kinder than Miss Pinckney, and so no one could be happier than I am. I love Vernons.”

“All the same,” said Silas, “you are not really alive there. It’s the life of a cabbage, must be, there’s only you and Maria and—Pinckney. Maria is a decent old sort but she’s only a woman, and as for Pinckney—he doesn’t care for you.”

This statement suddenly brought Phyl to herself. It went through her like a knife. She had ceased to think of Richard Pinckney in any way but as a friend. At one time, during the first couple of days at Vernons, her heart had moved mysteriously towards him; the way he had connected himself through Prue’s message with the love story of Juliet had drawn her towards him, but that spell had snapped; she was conscious only of friendliness towards Richard Pinckney. Why, then, this sudden pain caused by Silas’s words?

“How do you know?” she flashed out. “What right have you to dare—” She stopped.

The blaze of her anger seemed to Silas evidence that she cared for Pinckney.

“You’re in love with him,” said he, flying out. The bald and brutal statement took Phyl’s breath from her. She turned on him, saw the anger in his face, and then—turned away.

His state of mind condoned his words. To a 211 woman a blow received from the passion she has roused is a rude sort of compliment, unlike other compliments it is absolutely honest.

“I am in love with no one,” said she; “you have no right to say such things—no right at all—they are insulting.”

A gull, white as snow, came flitting by and wheeled out away over the harbour; as her eyes followed it he stood looking at her, his anger gone, but his mind only half convinced by her feeble words.

“I didn’t mean to insult you,” he said; “don’t let us quarrel. When I’m in a temper I don’t know what I say or do—that’s the truth. I want to have you all for myself, have ever since the first moment I saw you over there at Grangersons.”

“Don’t,” said Phyl. “I can’t listen to you if you talk like that—Please don’t.”

“Very well,” said Silas.

The quick change that was one of his characteristics showed itself in his altered voice. His was a mind that seemed always in ambush, darting out on predatory expeditions and then vanishing back into obscurity.

They turned away from the sea front and began to retrace their steps, silently at first, and then little by little falling into ordinary conversation again as though nothing had happened.

Silas knew every corner of Charleston, and the history of every corner, and when he chose he could make his knowledge interesting. In this mood he was a pleasant companion, and Phyl, her recent experience 212 almost forgotten, let herself be led and instructed, not knowing that this armistice was the equivalent of a defeat.

She had already drawn much closer to him in mind, this companionship and quiet conversation was a more sure and deadly thing than any kisses or wild words. It would linger in her mind warm and quietly. Put in a woman’s mind a pleasant recollection of yourself and you have established a force whose activity may seem small, but is in reality great, because of its permanency.

They did not take a direct line in the direction of Vernons, and so presently found themselves in front of St. Michael’s. The gate of the cemetery was open and they wandered in.

The place was deserted, save by the birds, and the air perfumed by all manner of Southern growing things. Sun, shadow, silence, and that strange peace which hangs over the homes of the dead, all were here, ringed in by the old walls and the faint murmur of the living city beyond.

They walked along the paths, looking at the tombstones, and pausing to read the inscriptions, Phyl gradually entering into that state of mind wherein reality and material things fall out of perspective. The fragrant elusive poetry of death, which can speak in the songs of birds and the scent of flowers in the sunshine and the shade of trees more clearly than in the voice of man, was speaking to her now.

All these people here lying, all these names here inscribed, all these were the representatives of days 213 once bright and now forgotten, love once sweet and now unknown.

Then, as though something had led or betrayed her to the place, she paused where the graves lay half shadowed by a magnolia, she read the nearest inscription with a little catch of her breath. Then the further one. They were the graves of Juliet Mascarene and Rupert Pinckney, the dead lovers who had passed from the world almost together, whose bodies lay side by side in the cold bed of earth.

In a moment the spell of the little arbour was around her again, in a moment the pregnant first impression of Vernons had re-seized her, fresh as though the commonplace touch of everyday life had never spoiled it.

It was as though the spirit of Juliet and the spirit of the old house were saying to her “Have you forgotten us?”

Tears welled to her eyes. Silas standing beside her was saying something, she did not know what. She scarcely heard him.

Misinterpreting her silence, unconscious as an animal of her state of mind and the direction of her thoughts, the man at her side moved towards her slightly, seemed to hesitate, and then, suddenly clasping her by the waist kissed her upon the side of the neck.

Phyl straightened like a bow when the string is released. Then she struck him, struck him open handed in the face, so that the sound of the blow might have been heard beyond the wall. 214

His face blanched so that the mark on it showed up, he took a step back. For a moment Phyl thought he was going to spring upon her. Then he mastered himself, but if murder ever showed itself upon the countenance of man it showed itself in that half second on the countenance of Silas Grangerson.

“You’ll be sorry for that,” said he.

“Don’t speak to me,” said Phyl. “You are horrible—bad—wicked—I will tell Richard Pinckney.”

“Do,” said Silas. “Tell him also I’ll be even with him yet. You’re in love with him, that’s what’s the matter with you—well, wait.”

He turned on his heel and walked off. He did not look back once. As he vanished from sight Phyl clasped her hands together.

It was as though she had suddenly been shown the real Silas—or rather the something light and evil and dangerous, the something inscrutable and allied to insanity that inhabited his mind.

She was not thinking of herself, she was thinking of Richard Pinckney. She felt that she had been the unconscious means of releasing against him an evil force. A force that might injure or destroy him.



She came out of the cemetery. There was no sign of Silas in the street nor on the front of the church.

Phyl had a full measure of the Celtic power to meet trouble halfway, to imagine disaster. As she hurried home she saw all manner of trouble, things happening to Richard Pinckney, and all brought about through herself. Amidst all these fancies she saw one fact: He must be warned.

She found Miss Pinckney in the linen room. The linen room at Vernons was a treasure house beyond a man’s description, perhaps even beyond his true appreciation. There in the cupboards with their thin old fashioned ring handles and on the shelves of red cedar reposed damask and double damask of the time when men paid for their purchases in guineas, miraculous preservations. Just as the life of a china vase is a perpetual escape from the stupidity of servant maids and the heaviness of clumsy fingers, so the life of these cream white oblongs, in which certain lights brought forth miraculous representations of flowers, festoons and birds, was a perpetual preservation from the moth, from damp, from dryness, from the dust that corrupts.

A house like Vernons exists not by virtue of its 216 brick and mortar; to keep it really alive it must be preserved in all its parts, not only from damp and decay, but from innovation; one can fancy a gas cooker sending a perpetual shudder through it, a telephone destroying who knows what fragrant old influences; the store cupboards and still room are part of its bowels, its napery, bed sheets, and hangings part of its dress. The man knew what he was doing who left Miss Pinckney a life interest in Vernons, it was that interest that kept Vernons alive.

She was exercising it on the critical examination of some sheets when Phyl came into the room, now, with the wool she had purchased and the tale she had to tell.

Miss Pinckney carefully put the sheet she was examining on one side, opened the parcel and looked at the wool.

“I met Silas Grangerson,” said Phyl as the other was examining the purchase with head turned on one side, holding it now in this light, now in that.

“Silas Grangerson! Why, where on earth has he sprung from?” asked Miss Pinckney in a voice of surprise.

“I don’t know, but I met him in the street and we walked as far as the Battery and—and—”

She hesitated for a moment, then it all came out. To no one but Maria Pinckney could she have told that story.

“Well, of all the astounding creatures,” said Miss Pinckney at last. “Did he ask you to marry him?”

“No.” 217

“Just to run away with him—kissed you.”

“He kissed me at Grangersons.”

“At Grangersons. When?”

“That night. I went into the garden and he came out from amongst some bushes.”

“Umph— It’s the family disease— Well, if I get my fingers in his hair I promise to cure him. He wants curing. He’ll just apologise, and that before he’s an hour older. Where’s he staying?”

“No, no,” said Phyl, “you mustn’t ever say I told you. I don’t mind. I would have said nothing only for Mr. Pinckney.”

“You mean Richard?”


“What has he to do with it?”

Phyl did not hesitate nor turn her head away, though her cheeks were burning.

“Silas Grangerson thinks I care for Mr. Pinckney, he said he would be even with him. I know he intends doing him some injury. I feel it—and I want you to warn him to be careful—without telling him, of course, what I have said.”

Miss Pinckney was silent for a moment. She had already matched Phyl and Richard in her mind. She had come to a very full understanding of her character, and she would have given all the linen at Vernons for the certainty that those two cared for one another.

Frances Rhett rode her like an obsession. Life and nature had given Maria Pinckney an acquired and instinctive knowledge of character, and in the union of Richard and Frances Rhett she divined 218 unhappiness, just as a clever seaman divines the unseen ice-berg in the ship’s track. She smelt it.

“Phyl,” said she, “do you care for Richard?”

The question quickly put and by those lips caused no confusion in the girl’s mind.

“No,” said she. “At least— Oh, I don’t know how to explain it—I care for everything here, for Vernons and everything in it, it is all like a story that I love—Juliet and Vernons and the past and the present. He’s part of it too. I want to have it always just as it is. I didn’t tell you, but when that happened in the cemetery, I was looking at her grave; you never told me it was there with his. I came on it by accident and she was seeming to speak to me out of it. I was thinking of her and him, when—that happened. It was just as though some one had struck her and him. I can’t explain exactly.”

“Strange,” said Miss Pinckney.

She turned and began to put away with a thoughtful air the linen she had been examining. Then she said:

“I’ll tell Richard and warn him to keep away from that fool, not that there is any danger—but it is just as well to warn him.”

Phyl helped to put away the linen and then she went upstairs to her room. She felt easier in her mind and taking her seat on a cane couch by the window she fell into a book. The History of the Civil War. This bookworm had always one sure refuge in trouble—books.

Books! Have we ever properly recognised the 219 mystery and magic that lies in that word, the magic that allows a man to lead ever so many other lives than his own, to be other people, to travel where he has never been, to laugh with folk he has never seen, to know their sorrows as he can never know the sorrows of “real people”—and their joys.

Phyl had been Robinson Crusoe and Jane Eyre, Monte Cristo and Jo.

History which is so horribly unreal because it deals with real people had never appealed to her, but the history of the Civil War was different from others.

It had to do with Vernons.



After luncheon that day Phyl, having nothing better to do, went up to her room and resumed her book.

Richard Pinckney had not come in to luncheon, he rarely returned home for the meal, yet all the same, his absence made her uneasy. Suppose Silas Grangerson had met him—suppose they had fought? She called to recollection Silas’s face just after she had struck him, the insane malevolence in it, the ugliness that had suddenly destroyed his good looks. Silas was capable of anything, he would never forgive that blow and he would try to return it, of that she felt certain. He could not avenge himself on her but he could on Richard. He imagined that she cared for Richard Pinckney. Did she? The question came to her again in Miss Pinckney’s voice—she did not even try to answer it. As though it irritated her, she tossed the book she was holding in her hand to the floor and lay with her eyes fixed on the lace window curtains that were moving slightly to the almost imperceptible stirring of the air from outside.

Beyond the curtains lay the golden afternoon. Sometimes a bird shadow, the loveliest thing in shadow-land, would cross the curtains, sometimes a 221 note of song or the sound of a bird’s flight from tree to tree would tell that there was a garden down below. The street beyond the garden and the city beyond the street could be heard, but were little more evident to the senses than those things in a picture which we guess but cannot see.

Phyl, allowing her mind to be led by these faint and fugitive sounds, fell into a reverie. Then she fell asleep and straight way began to dream.

She dreamed that Miss Pinckney was in the room moving about dusting things, a duster in one hand, an open letter in the other. There was troublous news of some sort in the letter, but what it was Miss Pinckney would not say. Then the room turned into the piazza, where Juliet Mascarene was standing with her hands on the rail, looking down on the garden.

She seemed to know Juliet quite well and was not a bit surprised to see her there; she touched her but she did not turn. Phyl slipped her arm round Juliet’s waist and stood with her looking at the garden, and as they stood thus the most curious dream feeling came upon her, a feeling of duality, Juliet was herself, she was Juliet. Then as this feeling died away Juliet vanished and she was standing alone on the piazza.

Then she half woke, falling asleep again to be awakened fully by a sound.

A sound, deep, sonorous, now rhythmical, now confused. It was the sound of guns.

She had heard it once long ago on the Brighton coast, and now as she sat up every nerve and muscle 222 tense, and her mind filled with a vague dread, it came so heavily that the walls of Vernons shook.

She ran on to the piazza. There was no one there. The garden gate was wide open, there was no one in the garden, and she noticed, though without any astonishment, that some one had been at work in the garden altering the paths. A white butterfly was flittering above the flowers, and a red bird leaving the magnolia tree by the gate, flew, a splash of colour, across to the garden beyond.

These things she saw but did not heed. She was under the spell of the guns, the sound rose against the brightness of the day as a black cloud rises across the sky or a sorrow across one’s life, insistent, rhythmical, a pall of sound now billowing, now sinking, as though blown under by a wind.

She sought the piazza stairs and next moment was in the garden, then she found herself in the street.

Meeting Street was almost deserted. On the opposite side two stout, elderly and rather quaintly dressed gentlemen were walking along in the direction of the station, but away down towards the Charleston Hotel there was a crowd.

The sight of this crowd filled her with terror, a terror remote from reason, an impersonal terror, as though the deadliest peril were threatening not herself but all things and everything she loved.

She ran, and as she drew close to the striving mass of people she saw men bearing stretchers.

They were pushing their way through the crowd, making to enter a house on the right. 223

Then came a voice. The voice of one man shouting to another.

“Young Pinckney’s killed.”

The words pierced her like a sword, she felt herself falling. Falling through darkness to unconsciousness, from which she awoke to find herself lying on the cane couch in her room.

She sat up.

The curtains were still stirring gently to the faint wind from outside, on the floor lay the history of the Civil War open just as she had cast it there before falling asleep. The sound of the guns had ceased, and nothing was to be heard but the stray accustomed sounds of the city and the street.

She struggled to her feet and came out on the piazza. The garden gate was closed and the garden was unaltered. She had dreamt all that, then.

For a minute she tried to persuade herself that it was a dream, then she gave up the attempt. That was no dream. Everything in it was four square. She could still see the shadows of the two gentlemen who had been walking on the other side of the street, shadows cast clearly before them by the sun.

The first part of her experience had been a dream, all that about Miss Pinckney and Juliet. But right from the sound of the guns all had been reality. She had seen, touched, heard.

Glancing back into the room she saw the book lying on the floor, the sight of it was like a crystallising thread for thought.

She had seen the past, she had heard the guns of the war. 224

She went back into the room and took her seat on the couch and held her head between her hands. She recalled the terror that told her that everything she loved was in danger. When the man had cried out that young Pinckney was killed, it was the thought of the death of Richard Pinckney that struck her into unconsciousness. Yet she knew that what she had seen was the day of the death of Rupert Pinckney, that one of those figures carried on the stretchers was his figure, that her grief was for him.

Had she then experienced what Juliet once experienced, seen what she saw, suffered what she suffered?

Was she Juliet?

The thought had approached her vaguely before this, so vaguely and so stealthily that she had not really perceived it. It stood before her now frankly in the full light of her mind.

Was she Juliet, and was Richard Rupert Pinckney? She recalled that evening in Ireland when she had heard his voice for the first time, and the thrill of recognition that had passed through her, how, at the Druids’ Altar that night she had heard her name called by his voice, the feeling in Dublin that something was drawing her towards America. Her feelings when she had first entered Meeting Street and the garden of Vernons, Miss Pinckney’s surprise at her likeness to Juliet. Prue’s recognition of her, the finding of those letters, the finding of the little arbour—any one of these things meant 225 little in itself, taken all together they meant a great deal—and then this last experience.

Her mind like a bird caught in a trap made frantic efforts to escape from the bars placed around it by conclusion; the idea seemed hateful, monstrous, viewed as reality. Fateful too, for that feeling of terror in the vision had all the significance of a warning.

Then as she sat fighting against the unnatural, her imaginative and superstitious mind trembling at that which seemed beyond imagination, a miracle happened.

The thought of danger to Richard Pinckney brought it about. All at once fear vanished, the fantastic clouds surrounding her broke, faded, passing, showing the blue sky, and Truth stood before her in the form of Love.

It was as though the vision had brought it to her wrapped up in that terror she had felt for him. In a moment the fantasy of Juliet became as nothing beside the reality. If it were a thousand times true that she had once been Juliet what did it matter? She had loved Richard Pinckney always, so it seemed to her, and nothing at all mattered beside the recognition of that fact.

Perfect love casteth out fear, even fear of the supernatural, even fear of Fate.

“Richard,” said Miss Pinckney that night, finding herself alone with him, “that Silas Grangerson is in town and I want you to beware of him.” 226

“Silas,” said he, “why I saw him at the club, he’s gone back home by this, I expect, at least he said he was going back to-night. Why should I beware of him?”

“He’s such an irresponsible creature,” she replied. “I’m going to tell you something, and mind, what I’m going to tell you is a secret you mustn’t breathe to any one: he’s in love with Phyl.”


“Yes. I knew it wouldn’t be long before some one was after her. She’s the prettiest girl in Charleston, and she’s different from the others somehow.”

The cunning of the woman held her from praise of Phyl’s goodness and mental qualities, or any over praise of the goods she was bringing to his attention.

“Has he spoken to her about it?” asked he.

“I’m sure to goodness I don’t know what I’m about telling you a thing that was told to me in confidence,” said the other. “Well, you promise never to say a word to Phyl or to any one else if I tell you.”

“I promise.”

“Well, he’s—he’s kissed her.”

Richard Pinckney leaned forward in his chair. He seemed very much disturbed in his mind.

“Does she care for him?”

“I don’t believe she does—yet. They always begin like that; girls don’t know their minds till all of a sudden they find some man who does.”

“Well, let’s hope she never cares for Silas Grangerson,” said he rising from his chair. “You know what he is.” 227

He left the room and went out on the piazza where the girl was sitting. He sat down beside her and they fell into talk.

Richard Pinckney’s mind was disturbed.

Only the day before he had proposed to Frances Rhett and had been accepted. No one knew anything of the engagement; they had decided to say nothing about it for a while, but just keep it to themselves. The trouble with Pinckney was that Frances had, so to say, put the words of the proposal into his mouth. Frances had flirted with every man in Charleston; out of them all she had chosen Pinckney as a permanent attaché, not because she was in love with him but because he pleased her best. She matched him against the others, as a woman matches silk.

Pinckney had allowed himself to be led along; there is nothing easier than to be led along by a pretty woman. When the trap had closed on him he recognised the fact without resenting it. He was no longer a free man.

Phyl had told him this without speaking. For some time past he had been admiring her, and yesterday on returning in chains from Calhoun Street, Phyl picking roses in the garden seemed to him the prettiest picture he had seen for a long time, but it did not give him pleasure; it stirred the first vague uneasy recognition that his chains had wrought. He had no right to look at any girl but Frances—and he had been looking at her for a year without the picture stirring any wild enthusiasm in his mind.

Miss Pinckney’s revelation as to Silas had come 228 to him as a blow. He could not tell what had hit him or exactly where he had been hit. What did it matter to him if a dozen men were in love with Phyl? What right had he to feel injured? None, yet he felt injured all the same.

As he sat by her now in the lamp-lit piazza, the thought that would not leave his mind was the thought that Silas had kissed her.

Behind the thought was the feeling of the boy who sees the other boy going off with the ripest and rosiest apple.

And Phyl was charming to-night. Something seemed to have happened to her, increasing the power of her personality, her voice seemed ever so slightly changed, her manner was different.

This was a woman, distinct from the girl of yesterday, as the full blown from the half blown flower.

They talked of trifles for a while, and then he remembered something that he ought to have mentioned before. The Rhetts were giving a dance and they had sent an invitation to Phyl as well as Miss Pinckney.

“It will be here by the morning post, I expect,” said he. “You’d like to go, wouldn’t you?”

Phyl hesitated for a moment. “Is that—I mean is that young lady Miss Frances Rhett—the one who called here?”

“Yes,” cut in Pinckney, “those are the people. You’ll come, won’t you?”

“Is Miss Pinckney going?”

“She—of course she’s going, she goes to everything, and old Mrs. Rhett is anxious to meet you.” 229

“It is very kind of them,” said Phyl. “Yes, I’ll come.” But she spoke without enthusiasm, and it seemed to him that a chill had come over her.

Did she know of his entanglement with Frances Rhett? And could it be—

He put the question aside. He had no right to indulge in any fancies at all about Phyl as regarded himself.

Then Miss Pinckney came out on the piazza and Phyl rose to go into the house.



When Silas Grangerson left the cemetery of St. Michael’s he walked for half a mile without knowing or caring in what direction he was going.

Phyl had done more than slap his face. She had slapped his pride, his assurance of himself, and his desire for her all at the same time.

Silas rarely bothered about girls, yet he knew that he had the power to fascinate any woman once he put his mind to the work. He had not tried his powers of fascination on Phyl. It was the other way about. Phyl absolutely unconsciously had used her fascination upon him.

Something in her, recognised by him on their first meeting in the stable yard, had put away the barrier of sex. He had talked to her as if she had been a boy. Sitting on the seat beside her whilst the Colonel had been prosing over politics and tobacco, the prompting came to Silas to pinch her finger just for fun; when he had put his hands over her eyes that night it was in obedience to the same prompting, but at the moment of parting from her, a desire quite new had overmastered him.

He had kissed a good many girls, but never in his life had he kissed a girl as he kissed Phyl.

Something cynical in his feelings for the other 231 sex had always left him somewhat cold, but Phyl was different from the others, she had in some way struck straight at his real being.

When he left her that night at Grangersons he was almost as disturbed as she.

He scarcely slept. He was out at dawn and on his return after she had left he sat down and wrote the letter which Phyl received next morning.

Silas was in love for the first time in his life, but love with Silas was a thing apart from the love of ordinary men.

There was no worship of the object; the something that crystallises out in the form of love-letters, verses, bouquets, and candy was not there. He wanted Phyl.

He had no more idea of marriage than the great god Pan. If she had consented he would have taken her off on that yawl of his imagination round the world or down to Florida, without thought of the morrow or the convenances, or Society; but please do not imagine this rather primitive gentleman a chartered libertine. He would have married her as soon as not, but he had neither the genius nor the inclination for the courtship that leads by slow degrees up to the question, “Will you marry me?”

He wanted her at once.

As he walked along now with the devil awake in his heart, he felt no anger towards Phyl; all his rage was against Pinckney; he had never liked Pinckney, he more than suspected that Phyl cared for him and he wanted some one to hate badly. 232

He had walked himself into a reasonable state of mind when he found himself outside the Queen City Club. He went in and one of the first men he met was Pinckney.

So well did he hold himself in hand that Pinckney suspected nothing of his feelings. Silas was far too good a sportsman to shout at the edge of the wood, too much of a gentleman to desire a brawl in public. He was going to knife Pinckney, he was also going to capture Phyl, but the knifing of Pinckney was the main objective and that required time and thought. He did not desire the blood of the gentleman; he wanted his pride and amour propre. He wanted to hit him on the raw, but he did not know yet where, exactly, the raw was nor how to hit it. Time would tell him.

He was specially civil to his intended victim, and he went off home that evening plotting all the way, but arriving at nothing. He was trying to make bricks without straw. Pinckney did not drink, nor did he gamble, and he was far too good a business man to be had in that way. However, all things come to him who waits, and next morning’s post brought him a ray of light in the midst of his darkness.

It brought him an invitation to the Rhetts’ dance on the following Wednesday; nearly a week to wait, but, still, something to wait for.

“What are you thinking about, Silas?” asked old Seth Grangerson as they sat at breakfast.

“I’m thinking of a new rabbit trap, suh,” responded the son. 233

The rabbit trap seemed to give him a good deal of food for thought during the week that followed; food that made him hilarious and gloomy by turns, restless also.

Had he known it, Phyl away at Charleston, was equally restless. She no longer thought of Silas. She had dismissed him from her mind, she no longer feared him as a possible source of danger to the man she loved. Love had her entirely in his possession to torture as he pleased. She knew only one danger, the danger that Richard Pinckney did not care in the least for her, and as day followed day that danger grew more defined and concrete. Richard had taken to avoiding her, she became aware of that.

She fancied that she displeased him.

If she had only known!



Silas Grangerson came to town on the Wednesday, driving in and reaching the Charleston Hotel about five o’clock in the afternoon.

The Grangersons scarcely ever used the railway. Silas, often as he had been in Charleston, had never put foot in a street car; even a hired conveyance was against the prejudices of these gentlemen.

This antagonism towards public means of locomotion was not in the least the outcome of snobbishness or pride; they had come from a race of people accustomed to move in a small orbit in their own particular way, an exclusive people, breeders and lovers of horses, a people to whom locomotion had always meant pride in the means and the method; to take a seat in a stuffy railway car at so much a mile, to grab a ticket and squeeze into a tram car, to drive in a cab drawn by an indifferent horse would have been hateful to these people; it was scarcely less so to their descendants.

So Silas came to Charleston driving a pair of absolutely matched chestnuts, a coloured manservant in the Grangerson livery in attendance.

After dinner he strolled into the bar of the hotel, met some friends, made some bets on the forthcoming races and at eight o’clock retired upstairs to dress. 235

He was one of the first of the guests to arrive.

The Rhetts’ house in Legare Street was about the same size as Vernons and equally old, but it had not the same charm, the garden was much larger than that at Vernons, but it had not the same touch of the past. Houses, like people, have personalities and the house of the Rhetts had a telephone without resenting the intruder, electric everythings, even to an elevator, modern cookers, modern stoves, everything in a modern way to save labour and make life easy, and all so cunningly and craftily done that the air of antiquity was supposed not to be disturbed.

Illusion! Nothing is gained without some sacrifice; you cannot hold the past and the present in the same hand, the concealed elevator spoke in all the rooms once its presence was betrayed, the telephone talked—everywhere was evident the use of yesterday as a veneer of to-day.

However that may be, the old house was gay enough to-night with flowers and lights, and Silas, looking better perhaps than he had ever looked in his life, found himself talking to Frances Rhett with an animation that surprised himself.

Frances had never had a chance of leading Silas behind her chariot; to fool with her would have meant an expenditure of time and energy in journeys to Charleston quite beyond his inclination. This aloofness coupled with his good looks had set him apart from others.

But to-night he was quite a different being; to-night, in some mysterious way, he managed to convey 236 the impression, pleasing enough, that he had come to see her and her alone.

As they stood together for a moment, he led the talk into Charleston channels, asking about this person and that till the folk at Vernons came on the tapis.

“Is it true what I hear, that Richard Pinckney has become engaged to the girl who is staying there?” asked Silas.

Frances smiled.

“I don’t think so,” she replied. “Who told you?”

“Upon my word I forget,” said he, “but I judged mostly by my own eyes—they seemed like an engaged couple when I saw them last.”

New guests were arriving and she had to go forward to help in receiving them. Silas moved towards her, but in the next moment they had for a snatch of conversation, she did not refer to the subject, nor did he.

The Vernons people were late, so late that when they arrived they were the last of the guests; dancing was in progress and, on entering the ballroom, Richard Pinckney was treated to the pleasing sight of his fiancée whirling in the arms of Silas Grangerson.

Phyl, looking lovely in the simple, rather old-fashioned dress evolved for her by the combined geniuses of Maria Pinckney and Madame Organdie, produced that sensation which can only be evoked by newness, her effect was instantaneous and profound, it touched not only every one of these strangers but also Maria Pinckney and Richard. 237 They had come with her, but it was only in the ballroom that they recognised with whom they had come.

So with a book, a picture, a play, the producer and his friends only recognise its merits fully when it is staged and condemned or praised by the public.

A débutante fails or succeeds at first glance, and the instantaneous success of Phyl was a record in successes.

And Frances Rhett had to watch it and dance. The Inquisition had its torments; Society has improved on them, for her victims cannot cry out and the torments of Frances Rhett were acute. Not that she was troubling much about Richard Pinckney and what the poisonous Silas had said; she was not in love with Richard Pinckney, but she was passionately in love with herself. She was the belle of Charleston; had been for the last year; and one of her chief incentives to marriage was an intuitive knowledge that prestige fades, that the position of principal girl in any society is like the position of the billiard ball the juggler balances on the end of a cue—precarious. She wanted to get married and ring down the curtain on an unspoiled success, and now in a moment she saw herself dethroned.

In a moment. For no jeweller of Amsterdam ever had an eye for the quality of diamonds surer than the eye of Frances Rhett for the quality of other women’s beauty. At the first glance to-night, she saw what others saw, though more clearly than they, that it was the touch of the past that gave Phyl her cachet, a something indefinable from yesterday, 238 the lack of which made the other girls, by contrast, seem cheap.

Never could she have imagined that the “red-headed girl at Vernons” could gain so much from setting, a setting due to the instinct as well as the taste of “that old Maria Pinckney.”

She had always laughed at Maria, as young people sometimes will at the old.

When Richard came up to her a little later on, he found himself coldly received; she had no dances for him except a few at the bottom of the programme.

“You shouldn’t have been late,” said she.

“Well,” he said, “it was not my fault. You know what Aunt Maria is, she kept us ten minutes after the carriage was round, and then Phyl wasn’t ready.”

“She looks ready enough now,” said the other, looking at Phyl and the cluster of young men around her. “What delayed her? Was she dyeing her head? It doesn’t look quite so loud as when I saw her last.”

“Her head’s all right,” replied Pinckney, irritated by the manner of the other, “inside and out, and one can’t say the same for every one.”

Frances looked at him.

“Do you know what Silas Grangerson asked me to-night?” she said.


“He asked me were you engaged to her.”


“Miss Berknowles. I don’t know her well enough to call her Phyl.” 239

“He asked you that?”

“Yes, said every one was talking of it, and the last time he saw you together you looked like an engaged couple the way you were carrying on.”

“But he has never seen us together,” cried the outraged Pinckney; “that was a pure lie.”

“I expect he saw you when you didn’t see him; anyhow, that’s the impression people have got, and it’s not very pleasant for me.”

Richard Pinckney choked back his anger. He fell to thinking where Silas could have seen them together.

“I don’t know whether he saw us or not,” said he, “but I am certain of one thing; he never saw us ‘carrying on’ as you call it; anyhow, I’ll have a personal explanation from Silas to-morrow.”

Please don’t imagine that I object to your flirting with any one you like,” said Frances with exasperating calm. “If you have a taste for that sort of thing it is your own business.”

Pinckney flushed.

“I don’t know if you want to quarrel with me,” said he, “if you do, say so at once.”

“Not a bit,” she replied, “you know I never quarrel with any one, it’s bad form for one thing and it is waste of energy for another.”

A man came up to claim her for the next dance and she went off with him, leaving Pinckney upset and astonished at her manner and conduct.

It was their first quarrel, the first result of their engagement. Frances had seemed all laziness and honey up to this; like many another woman she began 240 to show her real nature now that Pinckney was secured.

But it was not an ordinary lovers’ quarrel; her anger had less to do with Richard Pinckney than with Phyl. Her hatred of Phyl, big as a baobab tree, covered with its shadow Vernons, Miss Pinckney, and Richard.

He was part of the business of her dethronement.

Richard wandered off to where Maria Pinckney was seated watching the dancers.

“Why aren’t you dancing?” asked she.

“Oh, I don’t know,” he replied. “I’m not keen on it and there are loads of men.”

Miss Pinckney had watched him talking to Frances Rhett and she had drawn her own deductions, but she said nothing. He sat down beside her. He had been wanting to tell her of his engagement for a long time past, but had put it off and put it off, waiting for the psychological moment. Maria Pinckney was a very difficult person to fit into a psychological moment.

“I want to tell you something,” said he. “I’m engaged to Frances Rhett.”

“Engaged to be married to her?”


Miss Pinckney was dumb.

What she had always dreaded had come to pass, then.

“You don’t congratulate me?”

“No,” she replied. “I don’t.”

Then, all of a sudden, she turned on him.

“Congratulate you! If I saw you drowning in 241 the harbour, would you expect me to stand at the Battery waving my hand to you and congratulating you? No, I don’t congratulate you. You had the chance of being happy with the most beautiful girl in the world, and the best, and you’ve thrown it away to pick up with that woman. Phyl would have married you, I know it, she would have made you happy, I know it, for I know her and I know you. Now it’s all spoiled.”

He rose to his feet. It was the first time in his life that he had seen Maria Pinckney really put out.

“I’ll talk to you again about it,” said he. Then he moved away.

He had the pleasure of watching Frances dancing the next waltz with Silas Grangerson, and Silas had the pleasure of watching him as he stood talking to one of the elderly ladies and looking on.

Silas’s rabbit trap was in reality a very simple affair, it was a plan to pick a quarrel with Richard through Frances, if possible; to make the imperturbable Pinckney angry, knowing well how easily an angry man can be induced to make a fool of himself. To keep cool and let Richard do the shouting.

Unfortunately for Silas, the sight of Phyl in all her beauty had raised his temperature far above the point of coolness. There were moments when he was dancing, when he could have flung Frances aside, torn Phyl from the arms of her partner and made off with her through the open window.

This dance was a deadly business for him. It was the one thing needed to cap and complete the strange fascination this girl exercised upon his mind, 242 his imagination, his body. It was only now that he realised that nothing else at all mattered in the world, it was only now that he determined to have her or die.

Silas was of the type that kills under passion, the type that, unable to have, destroys.

Preparing a trap for another, he himself had walked into a trap constructed by the devil, stronger than steel.

Yet he never once approached or tried to speak to Phyl. He fed on her at a distance. Fleeting glimpses of the curves of her figure, the Titian red of her hair, the face that to-night might have turned a saint from his vows, were snatched by him and devoured. He would not have danced with her if he could. To take her in his arms would have meant covering her face with kisses. Nor did he feel the least anger against the men with whom she danced. All that was a sham and an unreality, they were shadows. He and Phyl were the only real persons in that room.

Later on in the evening, Richard Pinckney, tired with the lights and the noise, took a stroll in the garden.

The garden was lit here and there with fairy lamps and there were coigns of shadow where couples were sitting out chatting and enjoying the beauty of the night.

The moon was nearing the full and her light cut the tree shadows distinctly on the paths. Passing a seat occupied by one of the sitting out couples, Pinckney noticed the woman’s fan which her partner 243 was playing with; it was his own gift to Frances Rhett. The man was Silas Grangerson and the woman was Frances. They were talking, but as he passed them their voices ceased.

He felt their eyes upon him, then, when he had got twenty paces or so away, he heard Frances laugh.

He imagined that she was laughing at him. Already angry with Silas, he halted and half turned, intending to go back and have it out with him, then he thought better of it and went his way. He would deal with Silas later and in some place where he could get him alone or in the presence of men only. Pinckney had a horror of scenes, especially in the presence of women.

Twenty minutes later he had his opportunity. He was crossing the hall from the supper room, when he came face to face with Silas. They were alone.

“Excuse me,” said Richard Pinckney, halting in front of the other, “I want a word with you.”

“Certainly,” answered Silas, guessing at once what was coming.

“You made some remarks about me to Miss Rhett this evening,” went on the other. “You coupled my name with the name of a lady in a most unjustifiable manner and I want your explanation here and now.”

“Who was the lady?” asked Silas, seemingly quite unmoved.

“Miss Berknowles.”

“In what way did I couple your name with her, may I ask?” 244

“No, you mayn’t.” Richard had turned pale before the calm insolence of the other. “You know quite well what you said and if you are a gentleman you will apologise— If you aren’t you won’t and I will deal with you in Charleston accordingly.”

Phyl was at that moment coming out of the supper room with young Reggie Calhoun—the same who, according to Richard that morning at breakfast long ago, was an admirer of Maria Pinckney.

She saw the two men, in profile, facing one another, and she saw Silas’s right hand, which he was holding behind his back, opening and shutting convulsively.

She saw the blow given by Pinckney, she saw Silas step back and the knife which he always carried, as the wasp carries its sting, suddenly in his hand.

Then she was gripping his wrist.

Face to face with madness for a moment, holding it, fighting eye to eye.

Had she faltered, had her gaze left his for the hundredth part of a second, he would have cast her aside and fallen upon his prey.

It was her soul that held him, her spirit—call it what you will, the something that speaks alone through the eye.

Calhoun and Pinckney stood, during that tremendous moment, stricken, breathless, without making the slightest movement. They saw she was holding him by the power of her eye alone; so vividly did this fact strike them that for a dazed moment it seemed to them that the battle was not theirs, that 245 the contest was beyond the earthly plane, that this was no struggle between human beings, but a battle between sanity and madness.

Its duration might have been spanned by three ticks of the great old clock that stood in the corner of the hall telling the time.

Then came the ring of the knife falling on the floor. It was like the breaking of a spell. Silas, white and bewildered-looking as a man suddenly awakened from sleep, stood looking now at his released hand as though it did not belong to him, then at Pinckney, and then at Phyl who had turned her back upon him and was tottering as though about to fall. Pinckney, stepping forward, was about to speak, when at that moment the door of the supper room opened and a band of young people came out chatting and laughing.

Calhoun, who was a man of resource, kicked the knife which slithered away under one of the seats. Phyl, recovering herself, walked away towards the stairs; Silas without a word, turned and vanished from sight past the curtain of the corridor that led to the cloakroom.

Calhoun and Pinckney were left alone.

“What are you going to do?” asked Calhoun.

“I am at his disposal,” replied the other. “I struck him.”

“Struck him, damnation! He drew a knife on you; he ought to be hoofed out of the club; he’d have had you only for that girl. I never saw anything so splendid in my life.” 246

“Yes,” said Pinckney, “she saved my life. He was clean mad, but thank God no one knows anything about it and we avoided a scene. Say nothing to any one unless he wants to push the matter further. I am quite at his disposal.” 247



When Silas reached the cloakroom he took a glance at himself in the mirror, then putting on his overcoat and taking his hat from the attendant he came back into the hall. Pinckney and Calhoun had just strolled away into the ballroom; there was no one in the hall, and without a thought of saying good-bye to his hostess, he left the house.

He felt no anger against Pinckney, nor did he think as he walked down Legare Street that but for the mercy of God and the intervention of Phyl he might at that moment have been walking between two constables, a murderer with the blood of innocence on his hands.

Not that he was insensible to reason or the fitness of things, he had always known and acknowledged that when in a passion he was not accountable for his acts; he admitted the fact with regret and also with a certain pride. To-night he might have felt the regret without any pride to leaven it but for the fact that his mind was lost to every consideration but one—Phyl.

All through his life Silas had followed with an iron will the line that pleased him, never for a moment had he counted the cost of his actions; just 248 as he had swum the harbour with his clothes on so had he plunged into any adventure that came to hand; he knew Fear just as little as he knew Consequence. Well, now he found himself for the first time in his life face to face with Fate. All his adventures up to this had been little things involving at worst loss of life by accident. This was different; it involved his whole future and the future of the girl who had mastered his mind.

Leaving Legare Street he reached Meeting Street and passed up it till he reached Vernons. The moon, high in the sky now, showed the garden through the trellis-work of the iron gate, and Silas paused for a moment and looked in.

The garden, seen like this with the moonlight upon the roses and the glossy leaves of the southern trees, presented a picture charming, dream-like, almost unreal in its beauty. He tried the gate. It was locked. On ordinary nights it would be open till the house closed, or in the event of Pinckney being out, until he returned, but to-night, owing to the absence of the family, it was locked.

Then, turning from the gate he crossed the road and took up his position in a corner of shadow. Five minutes passed, then twenty, but still he kept watch. There were few passers-by at that hour and little traffic; he had a long view of the moonlit street and presently he saw the carriage he was waiting for approaching.

It drew up at the front door of Vernons and he watched whilst the occupants got out; he caught a glimpse of Phyl as she entered the house following 249 Miss Pinckney and followed by Richard, then the door shut and the carriage drove away.

Silas left his concealment and crossed the road. He paced for a while up and down outside the door of Vernons, then he came to the garden gate again and looked in.

From here one could get a glimpse of the first and second floor piazzas and the windows opening upon them. He could not tell which was the window of Phyl’s room, it was enough for him that the place held her.

In the way in which he had crossed the road, in his uneasy prowling up and down before the house, and now in his attitude as he stood motionless with head raised there was something ominous, animal-like, almost wolfish.

As he stood a call suddenly came from the garden. It was the call of an owl, a white owl that rose on the sound and flitted softly as a moth across the trees to the garden beyond.

Silas turned away from the gate and came back down the street towards his hotel, arrived there he went straight to his room and to bed.

But he did not go to sleep. His head was full of plans, the craziest and maddest plans. Pinckney he had quite dismissed from his mind, the consciousness of having committed a vile action in drawing a knife upon an unarmed man was with him, and the knowledge that the consequences might include his expulsion from Charleston society, but all that instead of sobering him made him more reckless. He would have Phyl despite the Devil himself. He 250 would seize her and carry her off, trap her like a bird.

He determined on the morrow to return early to Grangersons and think things out.



Whilst he was lying in bed thinking things out, the folk at Vernons were retiring to rest.

Maria Pinckney knew nothing of what had occurred between Silas and Richard. Richard Pinckney, Phyl and Reggie Calhoun were the only three persons in Charleston, leaving Silas aside, who knew of the business and in a hurried consultation just before leaving the Rhetts they had agreed to say nothing.

Calhoun was for publishing the affair.

“The man’s dangerous,” said he; “some day or another he’ll do the same thing again to some one and succeed and swing.”

“I think he’s had his lesson,” said Pinckney; “he went clean mad for the moment. Then there’s the fact that I struck him. No, taking everything into consideration, we’ll let it be. I don’t feel any animosity against him, not half as much as if he’d stabbed me behind the back with a libel— He did tell a lie about me to-night but it was the stupid sort of lie a child might have told. The man has his good points as well as his bad and I don’t want to push the thing against him.”

“I don’t think he will do it again,” said Phyl.

She, like Richard, felt no anger against Silas; it 252 was as though they recognised that Silas was the man really attacked that night, attacked by the Devil.

They both recognised instinctively his good qualities. Miss Pinckney, it will be remembered, once said that it is the man with good in him that comes to the worst end unless the good manages to fight the bad and get it under in time. She had a terrible instinct for the truth of things.

“Well,” said Calhoun, “it’s not my affair; if you choose to take pity on him, well and good; if it were my business I’d give him a cold bath, that might stop him from doing a thing like that again. I’ll say nothing.”

Though Miss Pinckney was in ignorance of the affair she was strangely silent during the drive home and when Phyl went to her room to bid her good night, she found her in tears, a very rare occurrence with Miss Pinckney.

She was seated in an armchair crying and Phyl knelt down beside her and took her hand.

Then it all came out.

“I had hoped and hoped and hoped for him, goodness knows he has been my one thought, and now he has thrown himself away. Richard is engaged to Frances Rhett. He told me so to-night—well, there, it’s all ended, there’s no hope anywhere, she’ll never let him go, and she’ll have Vernons when I’m gone. She picked him out from all the other men—why?— Why, because he’s the best of the lot for money and position. Care about him! She cares no more for him than I do for old Darius. I’m sure I don’t know why this trouble should have fallen on 253 me. I suppose I have committed some sin or another though I can’t tell what. I’ve tried to live blameless and there’s others that haven’t, yet they seem to prosper and get their wishes—and there’s no use telling me to be resigned,” finished she with a snap and as if addressing some viewless mentor. “I can’t—and what’s more I won’t. Never will I resign myself to wickedness, and stupidity is wickedness, not even a decent, honest wickedness, but a crazy, sap-headed sort of wickedness, same as influenza isn’t a disease but just an ailment that kills you all the same.”

Phyl, kneeling beside Miss Pinckney, had turned deathly white. Only half an hour ago when the little conference with Calhoun had been concluded, Richard Pinckney had taken her hand. His words were still ringing in her ears:

“You saved my life. I can’t say what I feel, at least not now.”

He had looked straight into her eyes, and now half an hour later—This.

Engaged to Frances Rhett!

She rose up and stood beside Miss Pinckney for a moment whilst that lady finished her complaints. Then she made her escape and returned to her room—

As she closed the door she caught a glimpse of herself in the old-fashioned cheval glass that had been brought up by Dinah and Seth to help her in dressing for the dance and which had not been removed. Every picture in every mirror is the work of an artist—the man who makes a mirror is an 254 artist; according to the perfection of his work is the perfection of the picture. The old cheval glass was as truthful in its way as Gainsborough, but Gainsborough had never such a lovely subject as Phyl.

She started at her own reflection as though it had been that of a stranger. Then she looked mournfully at herself as a man might look at his splendid gifts which he has thrown away. All that was no use now.

She sat down on the side of her bed with her hands clasped together just as a child clasps its hands in grief.

Sitting like this with her eyes fixed before her she was looking directly at Fate.

It was not only Richard Pinckney that she was about to lose but Vernons and the Past— Just as Juliet Mascarene had lost everything so was it to happen to her. Or rather so had it happened, for she felt that the game was lost—some vague, mysterious, extraordinary game played by unknown powers had begun on that evening in Ireland when standing by the window of the library she had heard Pinckney’s voice for the first time.

The sense of Fatality came to her from the case of Juliet. Consciously and unconsciously she had linked herself to Juliet. The extravagant idea that she herself was Juliet returned and that Richard Pinckney was Rupert had come to her more than once since that dream or vision in which the guns had sounded in her ears. The idea had frightened her at first, then pleased her vaguely. Then she had dismissed it, her ego refusing any one else a share in 255 her love for Richard, any one—even herself masquerading under the guise of Juliet.

The idea came back to her now leaving her utterly cold, and yet stirring her mind anew with the sense of Fate.

When she fell asleep that night she passed into the dreamless condition which is the nearest thing we know to oblivion, yet her sub-conscious mind must have carried on its work, for when she awoke just as dawn was showing at the window it was with the sense of having passed through a long season of trouble, of having fought with—without conquering—all sorts of difficulties.

She rose and dressed herself, put on her hat and came down into the garden.

Vernons was just wakening for the day, and in the garden alive with birds, she could hear the early morning sounds of the city, and from the servants’ quarters of the house, voices, the sound of a mat being beaten and now and then the angry screech of a parrot. General Grant slept in the kitchen and his cage was put out in the yard every morning at this hour. Later it would be brought round to the piazza. He resented the kitchen yard as beneath his dignity and he let people know it.

Phyl tried the garden gate, it was locked and Seth appearing at that moment on the lower piazza, she called to him to fetch the key. He let her out and she stood for a moment undecided as to whether she would walk towards the Battery or in the opposite direction. Meeting Street never looked more charming 256 than now in the very early morning sunlight; under the haze-blue sky, almost deserted, it seemed for a moment to have recaptured its youth. A negro crab vendor was wheeling his barrow along, crying his wares. His voice came lazily on the warm scented air.

She turned in the direction of the station. The voice of the crab seller had completed in some uncanny way the charm of the deserted street and the early sunlight. She was going to lose all this. Vernons and the city she loved, Juliet, Miss Pinckney, the past and the present, she was going to lose them all, they were all in some miraculous way part of the man she loved, her love of them was part of her love for him. She could no longer stay in Charleston; she must go—where? She could think of nowhere to go but Ireland.

To stay here would be absolutely impossible.

As she walked without noticing whither she was going her mind cleared, she began to form plans.

She would go that very day. Nothing would stop her. The thing had to be done. Let it be done at once. She would explain everything to Miss Pinckney. She would escape without seeing Richard again. What she was proposing to herself was death, the ruin of everything she cared for, the destruction of all the ties that bound her to the world, the present and the past. It was the recognition that these ties had been broken for her and all these things taken away by the woman who had taken away Richard.

Presently she found herself in the suburbs, in a 257 street where coloured children were playing in the gutter, and where the houses were unsubstantial looking as rabbit-hutches, but there was a glimpse of country beyond and she did not turn back. She did not want breakfast. If she returned to Vernons by ten o’clock it would give her plenty of time to pack her things, say good-bye to Miss Pinckney and take her departure before Richard returned to luncheon—if he did return.

It did not take her long to pass through the negro quarter, and now, out in the open country, out amidst those great flat lands in the broad day and under the lonely blue sky her mood changed.

Phyl was no patient Grizel, the very last person to be trapped in the bog of love’s despondency. Abstract melancholy produced by colours, memories, or sounds was an easy enough matter with her, but she was not the person to mourn long over the loss of a man snatched from her by another woman.

As she walked, now, breathing the free fresh air, a feeling of anger and resentment began to fill her mind. Anger at first against Frances Rhett but spreading almost at once towards Richard Pinckney. Soon it included herself, Maria Pinckney, Charleston—the whole world. It was the anger which brings with it perfect recklessness, akin to that which had seized her the day in Ireland when in her rage over Rafferty’s dismissal she had called Pinckney a Beast. Only this anger was less acute, more diffuse, more lasting.

The sounds of wheels and horses’ hoofs on the road behind her made her turn her head. A carriage 258 was approaching, an English mail phaëton drawn by two high-stepping chestnuts and driven by a young man.

It was Silas Grangerson. Returning to Grangerson’s to make plans for the capture of Phyl, here she was on the road before him and going in the same direction.

For a moment he could scarcely believe his eyes. Then reining in and leaving the horses with the groom he jumped down and ran towards her.

After the affair of last night one might fancy that he would have shown something of it in his manner.

Not a bit.

“I didn’t expect to come across you on the road,” said he. “Won’t you speak to me—are you angry with me?”

“It’s not a question of being angry,” said Phyl, stiffly.

She walked on and he walked beside her, silent for a moment.

“If you mean about that affair last night,” said he, “I’m sorry I lost my temper—but he hit me—you don’t understand what that means to me.”

“You tried to—”

“Kill him, I did, and only for you I’d have done it. You can’t understand it all. I can scarcely understand it myself. He hit me.”

“I don’t think you knew what you were doing,” said Phyl.

“I most surely did not. I was rousted out of myself. I reckon he didn’t know what he was doing 259 either when he struck. He ought to have known I was not the person to hit. I’ll show you, just stand before me for a moment.”

Phyl faced him. He pretended to strike at her and she started back.

“There you are,” said he; “you know I wasn’t going to touch you but you had to dodge. Your mind had nothing to do with it, just your instinct. That was how I was. When he landed his blow I went for my knife by instinct. If you tread on a snake he lets out at you just the same way. He doesn’t think. He’s wound up by nature to hit back.”

“But you are not a snake.”

“How do you know what’s in a man? I reckon we’ve all been animals once, maybe I was a snake. There are worse things than snakes. Snakes are all right, they don’t meddle with you if you don’t meddle with them. They’ve got a bad name they don’t deserve. I like them. They’re a lot better citizens, the way they look after their wives and families, than some others and they know how to hit back prompt—say, where are you going to?”

“I don’t know,” said Phyl. “I just came for a walk—I’m leaving Charleston.”

She spoke with a little catch in her voice. All Silas’s misdoings were forgotten for the moment, the fact that the man was dangerous as Death to himself and others had been neutralised in her mind by the fact, intuitively recognised, that there was nothing small or mean in his character. Despite his conduct in the cemetery, despite his lunatic 260 outburst of the night before, in her heart of hearts she liked him; besides that, he was part of Charleston, part of the place she loved.

Ah, how she loved it! Had you dissected her love for Richard Pinckney you would have found a thousand living wrappings before you reached the core. Vernons, the garden, the birds, the flowers, the blue sky, the sunlight, Meeting Street, the story of Juliet, Miss Pinckney, even old Prue. Memories, sounds, scents, and colours all formed part of the living thing that Frances Rhett had killed.

“Leaving Charleston!” said Silas, speaking in a dazed sort of way.

“Yes. I cannot stay here any longer.”

“Going—say—it’s not because of what I did last night.”

“You—oh, no. It has nothing to do with you.” She spoke almost disdainfully.

“But where are you going?”

“Back to Ireland.”



Then, suddenly, in some curious manner, he knew. But he was clever enough, for once in his life, to restrain himself and say nothing.

“I will go this afternoon,” said she, as though she were talking of a journey of a few miles.

“Have you any friends to go to?”

Phyl thought of Mr. Hennessy sitting in his gloomy office in gloomy Dublin.

“Yes, one.”

“In Ireland?” 261


“Can’t you think of any other friends?”


“Not even me?”

“I don’t know,” said poor Phyl, “I never could understand you quite, but now that I am in trouble you seem a friend—I’m miserable—but there’s no use having friends here. It only makes it the worse having to go.”

“Do you remember the day I asked you to run off to Florida with me,” said Silas, “and leave this damned place? It’s no good for any one here and you’ve found it out—the place is all right, it’s the people that are wrong.”

Phyl made no reply.

“You’re not going back,” he finished.

She glanced at him.

“You’re going to stay here—here with me.”

“I am going back to Ireland to-day,” said Phyl.

“You are not, you are going to stay here.”

“No. I am going back.”

She spoke as a person speaks who is half drowsy, and Silas spoke like a person whose mind is half absent. It was the strangest conversation to listen to, knowing their relationship and the point at issue.

“You are going to stay here,” he went on. “If I lost you now I’d never find you again. I’ve been wanting you ever since I saw you that day first in the yard— D’you remember how we sat on the log together?—you can’t tramp all the way back to Charleston— Come with me and you’ll be happy always, all the time and all your life—” 262

“No,” said Phyl, “I mustn’t—I can’t.” Her mind, half dazed by all she had gone through, by the mesmerism of his voice, by the brilliant light of the day, was capable of no real decision on any point. The dark streets of Dublin lay before her, a vague and nightmare vision. To return to Vernons would be only her first step on the return to Ireland, and yet if she did not return to Vernons, where could she go?

Silas’s invitation to go with him neither raised her anger nor moved her to consent. Phyl was an absolute Innocent in the ways of the world. No careful mother had sullied her mind with warnings and suggestions, and her mind was by nature unspeculative as to the material side of life.

Instinctively she knew a great deal. How much knowledge lies in the sub-conscious mind is an open question.

They walked on for a bit without speaking and then Silas began again.

“You can’t go back all that way. It’s absurd. You talk of going off to-day, why, good heavens, it takes time even to start on a journey like that. You have to book your passage in a ship—and how are you to go alone?”

“I don’t know,” said Phyl.

His voice became soft. It was the first time in his life, perhaps, that he had spoken with tenderness, and the effect was perfectly magical.

“You are not going,” he said, “you are not; indeed, I want you far too much to let you go; there’s 263 nothing else I want at all in the world. I don’t count anything worth loving beside you.”

No reply.

He turned.

The coloured groom was walking the horses, they were only a few yards away. He went to the man and gave him some money with the order to return to Charleston and go back to Grangersons by train, or at least to the station that was ten miles from Grangerville.

Then as the man went off along the road he stood holding the near horse by the bridle and talking to Phyl.

“You can’t walk back all that way; put your foot on the step and get in, leave all your trouble right here. I’ll see that you never have any trouble again. Put your foot on the step.”

Phyl looked away down the road.

She hesitated just as she had hesitated that morning long ago when she had run away from school. She had run away, not so much to get home as to get away from homesickness.

Still she hesitated, urged by the recklessness that prompted her to break everything at one blow, urged by the dismal and hopeless prospect towards which the road to Charleston led her mind, held back by all sorts of hands that seemed reaching to her from the past.

Confused, bewildered, tempted yet resisting, all might have been well had not a vision suddenly risen before her clear, definite, and destructive to her reason. 264

The vision of Frances Rhett.

Everything bad and wild in Phyl surged up before that vision. For a second it seemed to her that she loathed the man she loved.

She put her foot on the step and got into the phaëton. Silas, without a word, jumped up beside her, and the horses started.



She had committed the irrevocable.

When the contract is signed, when the china vase is broken, all the regret in the world will not alter the fact.

It was not till they had gone ten miles on their way that the regret came, sudden and painful as the stab of a dagger.

Miss Pinckney’s kindly old face suddenly rose up before Phyl. She would have been waiting breakfast for her. She saw the breakfast room, sunny and pleasant, the tea urn on the table, the garden through the open window—

Then came the thought—what matter.

All that was lost to her anyhow. It did not matter in the least what she did.

She was running away with Silas Grangerson.

She had a vague sort of idea that they were running away to be married, that she would have to explain things to Colonel Grangerson when they got to the house and that things would arrange themselves somehow.

But now, she sat voiceless beside her companion, answering only in monosyllables when he spoke; a voice began to trouble her, a voice that repeated the half statement, half question, over and over again. 266

“You are running away to be married to Silas Grangerson?”

She was running away from her troubles, from the prospect of returning to Ireland, from the idea of banishment from Vernons. She was running away out of anger against the woman who had taken Richard. She was running away because of pique, anger and the reckless craving to smash everything and dash everything to pieces—but to marry Silas Grangerson!

“Stop!” cried Phyl.

Silas glanced sideways at her.

“What’s the matter now?”

“I want to go back.”

“Back to Charleston!”

“Yes, stop, stop at once—I must go back, I should never have come.”

Silas was on the point of flashing out but he shut his lips tight, then he reined in.

“Wait a moment,” said he with his hand on her arm, “you can’t walk back, we are nearly half way to Grangersons. I can’t drive you because I don’t want to return to Charleston. If you have altered your mind you can go back when we reach Grangersons, you can wire from there. The old man will make it all right with Maria Pinckney.”

Phyl hesitated, then she began to cry.

It was the rarest thing in the world for her to cry like this. Tears with her meant a storm, but now she was crying quietly, hopelessly, like a lost child.

“Don’t cry,” said he, “everything will be all right when we get to Grangersons—we’ll just go on.” 267

The horses started again and Phyl dried her eyes. They covered another five miles without speaking, and then Silas said:

“You don’t mean to stick to me, then?”

“I can’t,” said Phyl.

“You care for some one else better?”


“Is it Pinckney?”


“God!” said he. He cut the off horse with the whip. The horses nearly bolted, he reined them in and they settled down again to their pace.

The country was very desolate just here, cotton fields and swampy grounds with here and there a stretch of water reflecting the blue of the sky.

After a moment’s silence he began again.

There was something in Silas’s mentality that seemed to have come up from the world of automata, something tireless and persistent akin to the energy that drives a beetle over all obstacles in its course, on or round them.

“That’s all very well,” said he, “but you can’t always go on caring for Pinckney.”

“Can’t I?” said Phyl.

“No, you can’t. He’s going to get married and then where will you be?”

Phyl, staring over the horses’ heads as though she were staring at some black prospect, set her teeth. Then she spoke and her voice was like the voice of a person who speaks under mesmerism.

“I cared for him before he was born and I’ll care for him after I’m dead and there’s no use in 268 bothering a bit about it now. You couldn’t understand. No one can understand, not even he.”

The road here bordered a stretch of waste land; Silas gazed over it, his face was drawn and hard.

Then he suddenly blazed out.

Laying the whip over the horses and turning them so sharply that the phaëton was all but upset he put them over the waste land; another touch of the whip and they bolted.

Beyond the waste land lay a rice field and between field and waste land stood a fence; there was doubtless a ditch on the other side of the fence.

“You’ll kill us!” cried Phyl.

“Good—so,” replied Silas, “horses and all.”

She had half risen from her seat, she sat down again holding tight to the side rail and staring ahead. Death and destruction lay waiting behind that fence, leaping every moment nearer. She did not care in the least.

She could see that Silas, despite his words, was making every effort to rein in, the impetus to drive to hell and smash everything up had passed; she watched his hands grow white all along the tendon ridges with the strain. The whole thing was extraordinary and curious but unfearful, a storm of wind seemed blowing in her face. Then like a switched out light all things vanished.



Twenty yards from the fence the off side wheel had gone.

The phaëton, flinging its occupants out, tilted, struck the earth at the trace coupling just as a man might strike it with his shoulder, dragged for five yards or so, breaking dash board and mud guard and brought the off side horse down as though it had been poleaxed.

Silas, with the luck that always fell to him in accidents, was not even stunned. Phyl was lying like a dead creature just where she had been flung amongst some bent grass.

He rushed to her. She was not dead, her pulse told that, nor did she seem injured in any way. He left her, ran to the horses, undid the traces and got the fallen horse on its feet, then he stripped them of their harness and turned them loose.

Having done this he returned to the girl. Phyl was just regaining consciousness; as he reached her she half sat up leaning on her right arm.

“Where are the horses?” said she. They were her first thought.

“I’ve let them loose—there they are.”

She turned her head in the direction towards which he pointed. The horses, free of their harness, had already found a grass patch and were beginning 270 to graze. The broken phaëton lay in the sunshine and the cushions flung to right and left showed as blue squares amidst the green of the grass; a light wind from the west was stirring the grass tops and a bird was singing somewhere its thin piping note, the only sound from all that expanse of radiant blue sky and green forsaken country.

“How do you feel now?” asked Silas.

“All right,” said Phyl.

“We’d better get somewhere,” he went on; “there are some cabins beyond that rice field, I can see their tops. There’s sure to be some one there and we can send for help.”

Phyl struggled to her feet, refusing assistance.

“Let us go there,” said she. She turned to look at the horses.

“They’ll be all right,” said Silas; “there’s lots of grass and there’s a pond over there—they’d live here a month without harm.”

He led the way to the fence, helped her over, and then, without a word they began to plod across the rice field.

When they reached the cabins they found them deserted, almost in ruins. They faced a great tract of tree-grown ground. In the old plantation days this place would have been populous, for to the right there were ruins of other cabins stretching along and bordering an old grass road that bent westward to lose itself amongst the trees, but now there was nothing but desolation and the wind that stirred the mossy beards of the live oaks and the 271 rank green foliage of weeds and sunflowers. An old disused well faced the cabins.

Phyl gave a little shudder as she looked around her. Her mind, still slightly confused by the accident and beaten upon by troubles, could find nothing with which to reply to the facts of the situation—alone here with Silas Grangerson, lost, both of them, what explanation could she make, even to herself, of the position?

In the nearest cabin to the right some rough dry grass had been stored as if for the bedding of an animal. It was too coarse for fodder. Silas made her sit down on it to rest. Then he stood before her in the doorway.

For the first time in his life he seemed disturbed in mind.

“I’ll have to go and get help,” said he, “and find out where we are. It’s my fault. I’m sorry, but there’s no use in going over that. You aren’t fit to walk. I’ll go and leave you here. You won’t be afraid to stay by yourself?”

“No,” said Phyl.

“You needn’t be a bit, there’s no danger here.”

“I am thirsty,” said she.


He went to the well head. The windlass and chain were there rusty but practicable and a bucket lay amongst the grass. It was in good repair and had evidently been used recently. He lowered it and brought up some water. The water was clear diamond bright, and cold as ice. Having satisfied himself that it was drinkable he brought the bucket 272 to Phyl and tilted it slightly whilst she drank. Then he put it by the door.

“Now I’ll go,” said he, “and I shan’t be long. Sure you won’t be afraid?”

“No,” she replied.

“You’re not angry with me?”

“No, I’m not angry.”

He bent down, took her hand and kissed it. She did not draw it away or show any sign of resentment; it was cold like the hand of a dead person.

He glanced back as he turned to go. She saw him stand at the doorway for a moment looking down along the grass road, his figure cut against the blaze of light outside, then the doorway was empty.

She was never to see him again.

Outside in the sunlight Silas hesitated for a moment as though he was about to turn back, then he went on, striking along the grass road and between the trees.

Although he had never been over the ground before, he guessed it to be a part of the old Beauregard plantation and the distance from Grangerville to be not more than eight miles as the crow flies. By the road, reckoning from where the accident had occurred, it would be fifteen. But the lie of the place or the distance from Grangersons mattered little to Silas. His mind was going through a process difficult to describe.

Silas had never cared for anything, not even for himself. Danger or safety did not enter into his calculations. Religion was for him the name of a 273 thing he did not understand. He had no finer feelings except in relationship to things strong, swift and brilliant, he had no tenderness for the weakness of others, even the weakness of women.

He had seized on Phyl as a Burgomaster gull might seize on a puffin chick, he had picked her up on the road to carry her off regardless of everything but his own desire for her—a desire so strong that he would have dashed her and himself to pieces rather than that another should possess her.

Well, as he watched her seated on the straw in that ruined cabin, subdued, without energy, and entirely at his mercy, a will that was not his will rose in opposition to him. Some part of himself that had remained in utter darkness till now woke to life. It was perhaps the something that despite all his strange qualities made him likeable, the something that instinct guessed to be there.

It stood between him and Phyl. He was conscious of no struggle with it because it took the form of helplessness.

Nothing but force could make her give him what he wanted. The thing was impossible, beyond him. He felt that he could do everything, fight everything, subdue everything—but the subdued.

There was something else. Weakness had always repelled him, whether it was the weakness of the knees of a horse or the weakness of the will of a man. Phyl’s weakness did not repel him but it took the edge from his passion. It was almost a form of ugliness.

He had determined on finding help to send some 274 one back for Phyl; any of the coloured folk hereabouts would be able to pilot her to Grangersons. He was not troubling about the broken phaëton or the horses; the horses had plenty of food and water; so far from suffering they would have the time of their lives. They might be stolen—he did not care, and nothing was more indicative of his mental upset than this indifference toward the things he treasured most.

All to the left of the grass road, the trees were thin, showing tracts of marsh land and pools, and the melancholy green of swamp weeds and vegetation.

The vegetable world has its reptiles and amphibians no less than the animal; its savages, its half civilised populations, and its civilised. The two worlds are conterminous, and just as cultivated flowers and civilised people are mutually in touch, here you would find poisonous plants giving shelter to poisonous life, and the amphibious giving home to the amphibious.

The woods on the right were healthier, more dense, more cheerful, on higher ground; one might have likened the grass road to the life of a man pursuing its way between his two mysteriously different characters.

Silas had determined to make straight for home after having sent assistance for Phyl, what he was going to do after arriving home was not evident to his mind; he had a vague idea of clearing out somewhere so that he might forget the business. He had done with Phyl, so he told himself. 275

But Phyl had not done with him. He had been scarcely ten minutes on his road when her image came into his mind. He saw her, not as he had seen her last seated on the straw in the miserable cabin, but as he had seen her at the ball.

The curves of her limbs, the colour of her hair, her face, all were drawn for him by imagination, a picture more beautiful even than the reality.

Well, he had done with her, and there was no use in thinking of her—she cared for that cursed Pinckney and she was as good as dead to him, Silas.

An ordinary man would have seen hope at the end of waiting, but Silas was not an ordinary man, a long and dubious courtship was beyond his imagination and his powers. Courtship, anyhow, as courtship is recognised by the world was not for him. He wanted Phyl, he did not want to write letters to her.

There is something to be said for this manner of love-making, it is sincere at all events.

He tried to think of something else and he only succeeded in thinking of Phyl in another dress. He saw her as he saw her that first day in the stable yard at Grangersons. Then he saw her as she was dressed that day in Charleston.

Then he remembered the scene in the churchyard. He could still feel the smack she had given him on the face. The smack had not angered him with her but the remembrance of it angered him now. She would not have done that to Pinckney.

Turning a corner of the road he came upon a clear space and on the borders of the clearing to 276 the right some cottages. There were some half-naked pikaninnies playing in the grass before them; and a coloured woman, washing at a tub set on trestles, catching sight of him, stood, shading her eyes and looking in his direction.

Silas paused for a moment as if undecided, then he came on. He asked the woman his whereabouts and then whether she could sell him some food. She had nothing but some corn bread and cold bacon to offer him and he bought it, paying her a dollar and not listening to her when she told him she could not make change.

He was like a man doing things in his sleep; his mind seemed a thousand miles away. The woman packed the bread and bacon in a mat basket with a plate and knife and watched him turn back in his tracks and vanish round the bend of the road, glad to see the last of him. She reckoned him crazy.

He was going back to Phyl.

His resolution never to see her again had vanished. She was his and he was going to keep her, no matter what happened.

He would never part with her alive, if she killed him, if he killed her, what matter. Nothing would stand in his path.

He reached the turning and there in the sunlight lay the half ruined cabins and the well.

Walking softly he came to the door of the cabin where he had left Phyl. She was there lying on the straw fast asleep. It was the sleep that comes after exhaustion or profound excitement; she scarcely seemed to breathe. 277

Putting his bundle down by the door he came in softly and knelt down beside her. His face was so close to hers that he could feel her breath upon his mouth.

It only wanted that to complete his madness. He was about to cast himself beside her when a pain, vicious and sharp as the stab of a red hot needle struck him just above his right instep.



When Richard Pinckney came down to breakfast that morning, he found Miss Pinckney seated at the table reading letters.

“Phyl went out early and has not come back yet,” said she putting the letters aside and pouring out the tea.

“Gone out,” said he. “Where can she have gone to?”

Miss Pinckney did not seem to hear the question. She was not thinking of Phyl or her whereabouts. Richard’s engagement to Frances Rhett was still dominating her mind, casting a shadow upon everything. It was like a death in the family.

“I hope she’s not bothered about what happened last night,” went on Richard. “I didn’t tell you at the time, but I had—some words with Silas Grangerson, and—Phyl was there. Silas is a fool, but it’s just as well the thing happened for it has brought matters to a head. I want to tell you something—I’m not engaged to Frances Rhett.”

“Not engaged?”

“I was, but it’s broken off. I had a moment’s talk with her before we left last night. I was in a temper about a lot of things, and the business with Silas put the cap on it. Anyhow, we had words, and the thing is broken off.” 279

“Oh, dear me,” said Miss Pinckney. The joyful shock of the news seemed to have reduced her mind to chaos for a moment. One could not have told from her words or manner whether the surprise was pleasant or painful to her.

She drew her chair back from the table a little, and sought for and found her handkerchief. She dried her eyes with it as she found her voice.

“I don’t know, I don’t know, I’m sure. I’ve prayed all night that this might be, and now that the Lord has heard my prayer and answered it, I feel cast right down with the wonder of it. Had I the right to interfere? I don’t know, I’m sure. It seems terrible to separate two people but I had no thought only for you. I’ve spoken against the girl, and wished against her, and felt bad in my heart against her, and now it’s all over I’m just cast down.”

“She did not care for me,” said Pinckney. “Why she was laughing at me last night with him. They were sitting outside together, and when I passed them I heard them laughing at me.”

Miss Pinckney put her handkerchief away, drew in her chair, and poured herself out some more tea energetically and with a heightened colour.

“I don’t want to speak bad about any one,” said she, “but there are girls and girls. I know them, and time and again I’ve seen girls hanging themselves out with labels on them. ‘I’m the finest apple on the tree,’ yet no one has picked them for all their labels, because every one has guessed that they aren’t—That crab apple labelling itself a pippin 280 and daring to laugh at you! And that long loony Silas Grangerson, a man without a penny to bless himself with, a creature whose character is just kinks. Well, I’m sure—pass me the butter—laughing at you. And what were they laughing at pray? Aren’t you straight and the best looking man in Charleston? Couldn’t you buy the Rhetts twice over if you wanted to buy such rubbish? Aren’t you the top man in Charleston in name and position and character? Why, they’ll be laughing at the jokes in the N’York papers next—They’ll be appreciating their own good sense and cleverness and personal beauty next thing—They’ll be worshipping Bryan.”

“Oh, I don’t think they’ll ever get as bad as that,” said he laughing, “but I don’t think I care whether people grin at me or not; it’s only just this, she and I were never meant for each other, and I found it out, and found it out in time. You see the engagement was never made public, so the breaking of it won’t do her any harm. She would not let me tell people about it, she said it would be just as well to keep it secret for a while, and then if either of us felt disposed we could break it off and no harm done.”

“Meaning that she could break it off if she wanted to but you couldn’t.”

“Perhaps. When I went back last night and told her I wanted to be free, she flew out.”

“Said you must stick to your word?”

“Nearly that. Then I told her she herself had 281 said that it was open to either of us to break the business off.”

“What did she say to that?”

“Nothing. She had nothing to say. She asked why I wanted to break it off.”

“And you told her it was because of her conduct, I hope.”

“No. I told her it was because I had come to care for some one else.”

Miss Pinckney said nothing for a moment. Then she looked at him.

“Richard, do you care for Phyl?”


“Thank God,” said she.

The one supreme wish of her life had been granted to her. Her gaze wandered to the glimpse of garden visible through the open window and rested there. She was old, she had seen friend and relative fade and vanish, the Mascarenes, the Pinckneys, children, old people, all had become part of that mystery, the past. Richard alone remained to her, and Phyl. On the morning of Phyl’s arrival Miss Pinckney had felt just as though some door had opened to let this visitor in from the world of long ago. It was not only her likeness to Juliet Mascarene, but all the associations that likeness brought with it. Vernons became alive again, as in the good old days. Charleston itself caught some tinge of its youth. And there was more than that.

“Richard,” said she, coming back from her fit of 282 abstraction, “I will tell you something I’d never have spoken of if you didn’t care for her. It may be an old woman’s fancy, but Phyl is more to us, seems to me, than we think, she’s Juliet come back—Oh, it’s more than the likeness. I’m sure I can’t explain what I mean, it’s just she herself that’s the same. There’s a lot more to a person than a face and a figure. I know it sounds absurd, so would most things if we had never heard them before. What’s more absurd than to be born, and look at that butterfly, what’s more absurd than to tell me that yesterday it was a worm? Well, it doesn’t much matter whether she was Juliet or not, now she’s going to be yours, and to save you from that pasty—no matter she’s over and done with, but I reckon she’s laughing on the wrong side of her face this morning.”

Miss Pinckney rose from the table. The absence of Phyl did not disturb her. Phyl sometimes stayed out and forgot meals, though this was the first time she had been late for breakfast. Richard, who had business to transact that morning in the town looked at his watch.

“I’m going to Philips’, the lawyers,” said he, “and then I’ll look in at the club. I’ll be back to luncheon.”

An hour later to Miss Pinckney engaged in dusting the drawing-room appeared Rachel the cook.

Rachel was the most privileged of the servants, a trustworthy woman with a character and will of her own, and absolutely devoted to the interests of the house. 283

“Mistress Pinckney,” said the coloured woman closing the door. “Ole Colonel Grangerson’s coachman’s in de kitchen, an’ he says Miss Phyl’s been an’ run off with young Silas Grangerson dis very mornin’.”

Miss Pinckney without dropping the duster stood silent for a moment before Rachel. Then she broke out.

“Miss Phyl run off with young Silas Grangerson! What on earth are you talking about, what rubbish is this, who’s dared to come here talking such nonsense? Go on—what more have you to say?”

Rachel had a lot to say.

Phyl had met Silas on the road beyond the town. They had talked together, then Silas had sent the groom back to Charleston to return to Grangerville by train, and had driven off with Phyl. The groom, a relation of Dinah’s, having some three hours to wait for a train, had dropped into Vernons to pass the time and tell the good news. He was in the kitchen now.

Miss Pinckney could not but believe. She threw the duster on a chair, left the room and went to the kitchen.

Prue was still in her corner by the fireplace, and Colonel Grangerson’s coloured man was seated at the table finishing a meal and talking to Dinah who scuttled away as he rose up before the apparition of Miss Pinckney.

“What’s all this nonsense you have been talking,” said she, “coming here saying Miss Phyl has run away with Mr. Silas? She started out this 284 morning to meet him and drive to Grangersons; I’m going there myself at eleven—and you come here talking of people running away. Do you know you could be put in prison for saying things like that? You dare to say it again to any one and I’ll have you taken off before you’re an hour older, you black imp of mischief.”

There was a rolling pin on the table, and half unconsciously her hand closed on it. Colonel Grangerson’s man, grey and clutching at his hat, did not wait for the sequel, he bolted.

Then the unfortunate woman, nearly fainting, but supported by her grand common sense and her invincible nature, left the kitchen and, followed by Rachel, went to the library. Here she sat down for a moment to collect herself whilst Rachel stood watching her and waiting.

“It is so and it’s not so,” said she at last, talking half to herself half to the woman. “It’s some trick of Silas Grangerson’s. But the main thing is no one must know. We have got to get her back. No one must know—Rachel, go and find Seth and send him off at once to the garage place and tell them to let me have an automobile at once, at once, mind you. Tell them I want the quickest one they’ve got for a long journey.”

Rachel went off and Miss Pinckney left to herself went down on her knees by the big settee adjoining the writing table and began to wrestle with the situation in prayer. Miss Pinckney was not overgiven to prayer. She held that worriting the Almighty eternally about all sorts of nonsense, as some people 285 do who pray for “direction” and weather, etc., was bad form to say the least of it. She even went further than that, and held that praising him inordinately was out of place and out of taste. Saying that, if Seth or Dinah came singing praises at her bedroom door in the morning instead of getting on with their work, she would know exactly what it meant—Laziness or concealed broken china, or both.

But in moments of supreme stress and difficulty, Miss Pinckney was a believer in prayer. Her prayer now was speechless, one might compare it to a mental wrestle with the abominable situation before God.

When she rose from her knees everything was clear to her. Two things were evident. Phyl must be got back at any cost, and scandal must be choked, even if it had to be choked with solid lies.

To save Phyl’s reputation, Miss Pinckney would have perjured herself twice over.

Miss Pinckney had many faults and limitations, but she had the grand common sense of a clean heart and a clear mind. She could tell a lie with a good conscience in a good cause, but to hide even a small fault of her own, the threat of death on the scaffold would not have made her tell a lie.

She went to the writing table now and taking a sheet of paper, wrote:

Dear Richard,

Seth Grangerson is bad again, and I am going over there now with Phyl. We mayn’t be back 286 to-night. I am taking the automobile. We will be back to-morrow most likely.

Your affectionate Aunt,

Maria Pinckney.

She read the note over. If all went well then everything would be well. If the worst occurred then she could explain everything to Richard.

It was a desperate gamble; well she knew how the dice were loaded against her, but the game had to be played out to the very last moment.

Already she had stopped the mouth of slander by her prompt action with Colonel Grangerson’s coloured man, but she well knew how coloured servants talk; Grangerson’s man was safe enough, he was frightened and he would have to get back to Grangerville. Rachel was absolutely safe, Dinah alone was doubtful.

She called Rachel in, gave her the note for Richard and told her to keep a close eye on Dinah.

“Don’t let her get talking to any one,” said Miss Pinckney, “and when Mr. Richard comes in give him that note yourself. If he asks about Miss Phyl, say she came back and went with me. You understand, Rachel, Miss Phyl has done a foolish thing, but there’s no harm in it, only what fools will make of it if they get chattering. No one must know, not even Mr. Richard.”

“I’ll see to that, Miss Pinckney, an’ if I catch Dinah openin’ her mouth to say more’n ‘potatoes’ I’ll dress her down so’s she won’t know which end of her’s which.” 287

Miss Pinckney went upstairs, dressed hurriedly, packed a few things in a bag and the automobile being now at the door, started.

It was after one o’clock when she reached Grangersons.

Just as on the day when she had arrived with Phyl, Colonel Grangerson, hearing the noise of the car, came out to inspect.

He came down the steps, hat in hand, saw the occupant, started back, and then advanced to open the door.

“Why, God bless my soul, it’s you,” cried the Colonel. “What has happened?”

Miss Pinckney without a word got out and went up the steps with him.

In the hall she turned to him.

“Where is Silas?”

“Silas,” replied the Colonel. “I haven’t seen him since he went to Charleston to attend some dance or another. What on earth is the matter with you, Maria?”

“Come in here,” said Miss Pinckney. She went into the drawing room and they shut the door.

“Silas has run away with Phyl,” said she, “that’s what’s the matter with me. Your son has taken that girl off, Seth Grangerson, and may God have mercy upon him.”

“The red-headed girl?” said the Colonel.

“Phyl,” replied she, “you know quite well whom I mean.”

Colonel Grangerson made a few steps up and down the room to calm himself. Maria Pinckney 288 was speaking to him in a tone which, had it been used by any one else, would have caused an explosion.

“But when did it happen,” he asked, “and where have they gone? Explain yourself, Maria. Good God! Why the fellow never spoke to her scarcely—are you sure of what you say?”

Miss Pinckney told her tale.

“I came here to try and get her back,” said she, “thinking he and she might possibly have come here or that you might know their whereabouts—they have not come, but there is just the chance that they may come here yet.”

“But if they have run off with each other,” said the Colonel, “how are we to stop them—they’ll be married by this.”

Miss Pinckney who had taken off her gloves sat down and began to fold them, neatly rolling one inside the other.

Married,” said she.

The Colonel standing by the window with his hands in his pockets turned.

“And why not?” said he. “The girl’s a lady, and you told me she was not badly off. Silas might have done worse it seems to me.”

“Done worse! He couldn’t have done worse. I’d sooner see her dead in her coffin than married to Silas—There, you have it plain and straight. He’ll make her life a misery. Let me speak, Seth Grangerson, you are just going to hear the truth for once. You have ruined that boy the way you’ve brought him up, he was crazy wild to start with and you’ve 289 never checked him. Oh, I know, he has always been respectful to you and flattered your pride and vanity, he calls you sir when he speaks to you, and you are the only person in the world to whom he shews respect. I don’t say he acts like that from any double dealing motive, it’s just the old southern tradition he’s inherited; he does respect you, and I daresay he’s fond of you, but he respects nothing else, especially women. I know him. And I know her, and he’ll make her life a misery. If he’d left her alone she’d have been happy. Richard loves her, and would have made her a good husband. My mind was set on it, and now it’s all over.”

Miss Pinckney began to weep, and the Colonel who had been swelling himself up found his anger collapsing. She was only a woman. Women have queer fancies—This especial woman too was part of the past and privileged.

He came to her and stood beside her and rested his hand on her shoulder.

“My dear Maria,” said the Colonel, “youth is youth—There is not any use in laying down the law for young people or making plans for their marriages. Leave it in the hands of Providence. The most carefully arranged marriages often turn out the worst, and a scratch match has often as not turned out happily. Anyhow, you will stay here till news comes of them?”

“Yes, I will stay,” said Miss Pinckney.



At eleven o’clock that night, just as Miss Pinckney was on the point of retiring to bed the news came in the form of Phyl herself.

She arrived in a buggy driven by the farmer who owned the land through which the grass road ran.

She gave a little glad cry when she saw Miss Pinckney and ran into her arms.

Upstairs and alone with the lady, she told her story. Told her how she had met Silas on the road that morning, how, tired of life and scarce knowing what she did, she had got into the phaëton, how he had upset it and smashed it, how she had sheltered in the cabin whilst he went in search of help.

“Then I went to sleep,” said Phyl, “and when I woke up it was afternoon. He was not there, but he must have come back when I was asleep and left some food for me, for there was a bundle outside the door with some bread and bacon in it. Then I started off to walk and found a village with some coloured people. I told them I was lost and wanted to get to Grangersons. They were kind to me, but I had to wait a long time before they could find that gentleman, the farmer, and he could get a cart to drive me here.”

“Thank God it is all over and you are back,” said 291 Miss Pinckney. “But oh, Phyl! what made you do it?”

“I don’t know,” said Phyl.

But Miss Pinckney did.

“Listen,” said she. “You know what I told you about Richard and Frances Rhett—that’s all done with. He has broken off the engagement.”

Phyl flushed, then she hid her burning face on Miss Pinckney’s shoulder.

Miss Pinckney held her for awhile. Then she began to talk.

“We will get right back to-morrow early; no one knows anything and I’ll take care they never do. Well, it’s strange—I can understand everything but I can’t understand that crazy creature. What’s become of him? That’s what I want to know.”

This is what had become of him.

Kneeling beside Phyl the sudden sharp pain just above his instep made him turn. In turning he caught a glimpse of his assailant. It had been creeping towards the door when he entered and had taken refuge beneath the straw. He had almost knelt on it. Escaping, a movement of his foot had raised its anger and it had struck, it was now whisking back into the darkness of the cabin beyond the straw heap.

He recognised it as the deadliest snake in the South.

For a moment he recognised nothing else but the fact that he had been bitten.

His passion and desire had vanished utterly. 292 Phyl might have been a thousand miles away from him for all that he thought of her.

He rose up and came out into the sunlight, went to the well head, sat down on the frame and removed his shoe and sock. The mark of the bite was there between the adductor tendons. A red hot iron and a bottle of whisky might have saved him. He had not even a penknife to cut the wound out—He thought of Phyl, she could do nothing. He thought of the bar of the Charleston Hotel, and the verse of the song about the old hen with a wooden leg and the statement that it was just about time for another little drink, ran through his head.

Then suddenly the idea came to him that there might possibly be help at the village where he had obtained the food from the coloured woman. It was a long way off, but still it was a chance.

He put the sock in his pocket, put on the shoe and started. He ran for the first couple of hundred yards, then he slackened his pace, then he stopped holding one hand to his side.

The poison already had hold of him.

The game was up and he knew it. It was useless to go on, he would not live to reach the village or reaching it would die there.

And every one would pity him with that shuddering pity people extend to those who meet with a horrible form of death.

Death from snake bite was a low down business, it was no end for a Grangerson; but there in the swamp to the left a man might lie forever without being found out. 293

He turned from the road to the left and walked away among the trees.

The ground here sank beneath the foot, a vague haze hung above the marsh and the ponds. Here nothing happened but the change of season, night and day, the chorus of frogs and the crying of the white owl amidst the trees.



Miss Pinckney and Phyl left Grangersons next morning at seven o’clock to return to Charleston.

During the night the Colonel had sent after the horses and they had been captured and brought back. The broken phaëton was left for the present.

“I’ll make Silas go and fetch it himself when he comes back,” said the Colonel. “I reckon the exercise will do him good.”

“Do,” said Miss Pinckney, “and then send him on to me. I reckon what I’ll give him will help him to forget the exercise.”

On the way back she said little. She was reckoning with the fact that she had deceived Richard. Now that everything had turned out so innocently and so well she decided to tell him the bare facts of the matter. There was nothing to hide except the fact of Phyl’s stupidity in going with Silas.

Richard Pinckney was not in when they arrived but he returned shortly before luncheon time and Miss Pinckney, who was waiting for him, carried him off into the library.

She shut the door and faced him.

“Richard,” said Miss Pinckney, “Seth Grangerson is as well as you are. I didn’t go to see him 295 because he was ill, I went because of Phyl. She did a stupid thing and I went to set matters right.”

She explained the whole affair. How Phyl had met Silas, how he had persuaded her to get into the phaëton with him, the accident and all the rest. The story as told by Miss Pinckney was quite simple and without any dark patches, and no man, one might fancy, could find cause for offence in it.

Miss Pinckney, however, was quite unconscious of the fact that Silas Grangerson had attempted to take Richard Pinckney’s life on the night of the Rhetts’ dance.

To Richard the thought that Phyl should have met Silas only a few hours after that event, talked to him, made friends with him, and got into his carriage was a monstrous thought. He could not understand the business in the least, he could only recognise the fact.

Had he known that it was her love for him and her despair at losing him that led her to the act it would have been different.

He said nothing for a moment after Miss Pinckney had finished. Having already confessed to her his love for Phyl he was too proud to show his anger against her now.

“It was unwise of her,” he said at last, turning away to the window and looking out.

“Most,” replied she, “but you cannot put old heads on young shoulders. Well, there, it’s over and done with and there’s no more to be said. Well, I must go up and change before luncheon. You are having luncheon here?” 296

“No,” said he, “I have to meet a man at the club. I only just ran in to see if you were back.”

He went off and that day Miss Pinckney and Phyl had luncheon alone.



Richard Pinckney, like most people, had the defects of his qualities, but he was different from others in this: his temper was quick and blazing when roused, yet on rare occasions it could hold its heat and smoulder, and keep alive indefinitely.

When in this condition he shewed nothing of his feelings except towards the person against whom he was in wrath.

Towards them he exhibited the two main characteristics of the North Pole—Distance and Ice.

Phyl felt the frost almost immediately. He talked to her just the same as of old but his pleasantness and laughter were gone and he never sought her eye. She knew at once that it was the business with Silas that had caused this change, and she would have been entirely miserable but for the knowledge of two great facts: she was innocent of any disloyalty to him, he had broken off his engagement to Frances Rhett. Instinct told her that he cared for her, Miss Pinckney had told her the same thing.

Yet day after day passed without bringing the slightest change in Richard Pinckney.

That gentleman after many debates with himself had arrived at the determination against will, 298 against reason, against Love, and against nature to have nothing more to do with Phyl.

Old Pepper Pinckney, that volcano of the past had suffered a fancied insult from his wife; no one knew of it, no one suspected it till on his death his will disclosed it by the fact that he had left the lady—one dollar. The will being unwitnessed—that was the sort of man he was—did not hold; all the same, it held an unsuspected part of his character up for public inspection.

Richard, incapable of such an act, still had Pepper Pinckney for an ancestor. Ancestors leave us more than their pictures.

Having come to this momentous decision, he arrived at another.

One morning at breakfast he announced his intention of going to New York on business, he would start on the morrow and be gone a month. The Beauregards had always been bothering him to go on a visit and he might as well kill two birds with one stone.

Miss Pinckney made little resistance to the idea. She had noticed the coolness between the young people; knowing how much they cared one for the other she had little fear as to the end of the matter and she fancied a change might do good.

But to Phyl it seemed that the end of the world had come.

All that day she scarcely spoke except to Miss Pinckney. She was like a person stunned by some calamity.

Richard Pinckney, notwithstanding the fact that 299 he was to leave for New York on the morrow, did not return to dinner that night. Phyl went upstairs early but she did not go to her room, she went to Juliet’s. Sorrow attracts sorrow. Juliet had always seemed more than a friend, more than a sister, even.

There were times when the ungraspable idea came before her that Juliet was herself. The vision of the Civil War sometimes came back to her and always with the hint, like a half veiled threat, that Richard the man she loved was Rupert the man she had loved, that following the dark law of duplication that works alike for types and events, forms and ideas, her history was to repeat the history of Juliet.

She had saved Richard from death at the hands of Silas Grangerson, her love for him had met Fate face to face and won, but Fate has many reserve weapons. She is an old warrior, and the conqueror of cities and kings does not turn from her purpose because of a momentary defeat.

Phyl shut the door of the room, put the lamp she was carrying on a table and opened the long windows giving upon the piazza. The night was absolutely still, not a breath of wind stirred the foliage of the garden and the faint sounds of the city rose through the warm night. The waning moon would not rise yet for an hour and the stars had the sky to themselves.

She turned from the window and going to the little bureau by the door opened the secret drawer and took out the packet of letters. Then drawing 300 an armchair close to the table and the lamp she sat down, undid the ribbon and began to read the letters.

She felt just as though Juliet were talking to her, telling her of her troubles. She read on placing each letter on the table in turn, one upon the other.

The chimes of St. Michael’s came through the open window but they were unheeded.

When she had read through all the letters she picked out one. The one containing the passionate declaration of Juliet’s love.

She re-read it and then placed it on the table on top of the others.

If she could speak of Richard like that!

But she could do nothing and say nothing. It is one of the curses of womanhood that a woman may not say to a man “I love you,” that the initiative is taken out of her hands.

Phyl was a creature of impulse and it was now for the first time in her life that she recognised this fatal barrier on the woman’s side. With the recognition came the impulse to over jump it.

He cared for her, she knew, or had cared for her. She felt that it only required a movement on her side, a touch, a word to destroy the ice that had formed between them. If he were to go away he might never return, nay, he would never return, of that she felt sure.

And he would go away unless she spoke. She must speak, not to-morrow in the cold light of day when things were impossible, but now, at once, she 301 would say to him simply the truth, “I love you.” If he were to turn away or repulse her it would kill her. No matter, life was absolutely nothing.

She rose from her chair and was just on the point of turning to the door when something checked her.

It was the clock of St. Michael’s striking one.

One o’clock. The whole household would be in bed. He would have retired to his room long ago—and to-morrow it would be too late.

She could never say that to him to-morrow; even now the impulse was dying away, the strength that would have broken convention and disregarded all things was fading in her. She had been dreaming whilst she ought to have been doing, and the hour had passed and would never return.

She sat down again in the chair.

The moon in the cloudless sky outside cast a patch of silver on the floor, then it shewed a silver rim gradually increasing against the sky as it pushed its way through the night to peep in at Phyl. Leaning back in the chair limp and exhausted, with closed eyes, one might have fancied her dead or in a trance and the moon as if to make sure pushed on, framing itself now fully in the window space.

The clock of St. Michael’s struck two, then it chimed the quarter after and almost on the chime Phyl sat up. It was as though she had suddenly come to a resolve. She clasped her hands together for a moment, then she rose, gathered up the letters and put them away, all except one which she held in her hand as though to give her courage for 302 what she was about to do. She carefully extinguished the lamp and then led by the moonlight came out on to the piazza.

Charleston was asleep under the moon; the air was filled with the scent of night jessamine and the faint fragrance of foliage, and scarcely a sound came from all the sleeping city beyond the garden walls and the sea beyond the city.

As she stood with one hand on the piazza rail, suddenly, far away but shrill, came the crowing of a cock.

She shivered as though the sound were a menace, then rigidly gliding like a ghost escaped from the grave and warned by the cockcrow that the hour of return was near, she came along the piazza, mounted the stair to the next floor and came along the upper piazza to the window of Richard Pinckney’s bedroom.

The window was open and, pushing the curtains aside, she went in.



Richard Pinckney went to his room at eleven that night. He rarely retired before twelve, but to-night he had packing to do as Jabez, his man, was away and he knew better than to trust Seth.

He packed his portmanteau and left it lying open in case he had forgotten anything that could be put in at the last moment. Then he packed a kit-bag and, having smoked a cigarette, went to bed.

But he did not fall asleep. As a rule he slept at once on lying down, but to-night he lay awake.

He was miserable; going away was death to him, but he was going.

First of all, because he had said that he was going. Secondly, because he wanted to hit and hurt Phyl whom he loved, thirdly, because he wanted to torture himself, fourthly, because he loathed and hated Silas Grangerson, fifthly, because in his heart of hearts he knew what he was doing was wrong.

You never know really what is in a man till he is pinched by Love. Love may stun him with a blow or run a dagger into him without bringing his worst qualities to light whilst a sly pinch will raise devils—all the miserable devils that march under the leadership of Pique. 304

If he had not loved Phyl the fact of her going off with Silas for a drive after what had occurred on the night before would have hurt him. Loving her it had maddened him.

He was not angry with her now, so he told himself—just disgusted.

Meanwhile he could not sleep. The faithful St. Michael’s kept him well aware of this fact. He lit a candle and tried to read, smoked a cigarette and then, blowing the candle out, tried to sleep. But insomnia had him fairly in her grip; to-night there was no escape from her and he lay whilst the moon, creeping through the sky, cast her light on the piazza outside.

St. Michael’s chimed the quarter after two and sleep, long absent, was coming at last when, suddenly, the sound of a light footstep on the piazza drove her leagues away.

Then outside in the full moonlight he saw a figure. It was Phyl, fully dressed, standing with outstretched hands. Her eyes wide open, fixed, and sightless, told their tale. She was asleep.

She moved the curtains aside and entered the room, darkening the window space, passed across the room without the least sound, reached the bed, and knelt down beside it. Her hand was feeling for him, it touched his neck, he raised his head slightly from the pillow and her arm, gliding like a snake round his neck drew his head towards her; then her lips, blindly seeking, found his and clung to them for a moment.

Nothing could be more ghostly, more terrible, and 305 yet more lovely than that kiss, the kiss of a spirit, the embrace of a soul rising from the profound abysm of sleep to find its mate.

Then her lips withdrew and he lay praying to God, as few men have ever prayed, that she might not wake.

He felt the arm withdrawing from around his neck, she rose, wavered for a moment, and then passed away towards the window. The lace curtains parted as though drawn aside, closed again, and she was gone.

He left his bed and came out on the piazza. Craning over he caught a glimpse of her returning along the lower piazza and vanishing.

Coming back to his room he saw something lying on the floor by his bed; it was a letter; he struck a match, lit the candle and picked the letter up. It was just a folded piece of paper, it had been sealed, but the seal was broken, and sitting down on the side of the bed he spread it open, but his hands were shaking so that he had to rest it on his knee.

It was not from Phyl. That letter had been written many, many years ago, the ink was faded and the handwriting of another day.

He read it.

“Not to-night. I have to go to the Calhouns. It is just as well for I have a dread of people suspecting if we meet too often....

“Sometimes I feel as if I were deceiving him and everybody. I am, and I don’t care. Oh, my darling! my darling! my darling! If the whole world were against you I would love you all the more. I 306 will love you all my life, and I will love you when I am dead.”

It was the letter of Juliet to her lover.

He turned it over and looked at the seal with the little dove upon it. He knew of Juliet’s letters, and he knew at once that this was one of them, and he guessed vaguely that she had been reading it when sleep overtook her and that it had formed part of the inspiration that led her to him. But the whole truth he would never know.

A blazing red Cardinal was singing in the magnolia tree by the gate, butterflies were chasing one another above the flowers; it was seven o’clock and the blue, lazy, lovely morning was unfolding like a flower to the sea wind.

Richard Pinckney was standing in the piazza before his bedroom window looking down into the garden.

To him suddenly appeared Seth.

“If you please, sah,” said Seth, “Rachel tole me tell yo’ de train for N’York—”

“Damn New York,” said Pinckney. “Get out.”

Seth vanished, grinning, and he returned to his contemplation of the garden.

She must never know.—In the years to come, perhaps, he might tell her— In the years to come—

He was turning away when a step on the piazza below made him come to the rail again and lean over. It was Phyl. She vanished and then reappeared again, leaving the lower piazza and coming 307 right out into the garden. He waited till the sun had caught her in both hands, holding her against the background of the cherokee roses, then he called to her:


She started, turned, and looked up.