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The dark tower


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Title:TheDarkTower
Author:PhyllisBottome
Illustrator:J.H.GardnerSoper
ReleaseDate:June18,2008[EBook#25829]
Language:English

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THEDARKTOWER



BYPHYLLISBOTTOME
WITHILLUSTRATIONSBY
J.H.GARDNERSOPER
NEWYORK
THECENTURYCO.
1916
Copyright,1916,by
THECENTURYCO.
Published,September,1916

DauntlesstheslughorntomylipsIset,
andblew"ChildRolandtothedarktowercame."
—RobertBrowning

TO
W.W.D.H.
"GodforbidthatIshoulddothisthing.
Ifourtimebecome,letusdiemanfullyforourbrethren
Andletusnotstainourhonour."
IMaccabees,ix,10.


"Ishallneverbedangerousforyou,MissRivers,"hesaidgently


CONTENTS
PARTI
CHAPTERI
CHAPTERII
CHAPTERIII
CHAPTERIV
CHAPTERV
CHAPTERVI
CHAPTERVII
CHAPTERVIII
CHAPTERIX
CHAPTERX
CHAPTERXI


CHAPTERXII
CHAPTERXIII
PARTII
CHAPTERXIV
CHAPTERXV
CHAPTERXVI
CHAPTERXVII
CHAPTERXVIII
CHAPTERXIX
CHAPTERXX
CHAPTERXXI
CHAPTERXXII
PARTIII
CHAPTERXXIII
CHAPTERXXIV
CHAPTERXXV
CHAPTERXXVI


CHAPTERXXVII
CHAPTERXXVIII
CHAPTERXXIX
CHAPTERXXX
CHAPTERXXXI


LISTOFILLUSTRATIONS
"Ishallneverbedangerousforyou,MissRivers,"hesaidgently
"You may have to take her as a daughter-in-law, though," Winn remarked
withoutturningroundfromthesideboard.
Inhishearttherewasnothinglefttowhichhecouldcompareher
"Idon'twantachance,"whisperedClaire
"You'vegottolive,"saidWinn,bendinggrimlyoverhim;"You'vegottolive!"


THEDARKTOWER


PARTI


CHAPTERI
Winn Staines respected God, the royal family, and his regiment; but even his
respectforthesethreethingswasinmanywaysacademic:herespectednothing
else.
Hisfather,AdmiralSirPeterStaines,hadneverrespectedanything;hewentto
church,however,becausehiswifedidn't.Theywerethatkindoffamily.
LadyStaineshadhadtwelvechildren.Sevenofthemdiedaspromptlyastheir
constitutionsallowed;thefivesurvivors,shoutedat,quarreledover,andsoundly
thrashed,torethemselvesthroughaviolentchildhoodintoaracketyyouth.They
were never vicious, for they never reflected over or considered anything that
theydid.
Winngotdrunkoccasionally,assaultedpolicemenfrequently,andcouldcarrya
smallponyundereacharm.CharlesandJames,whowereinthenavy,followed
inthefootstepsofSirPeter;thatistosay,theyexploredallpossibleaccidentson
seaorashore,andsoughtforafightasifitwereamislaidcrownjewel.
Dolores and Isabella had to content themselves with minor feats and to be
known merely as the terrors of the neighborhood, though ultimately Dolores
succeededinmakingahandsomesplashbyrunningawaywithaprize-fighting
groom. She made him an excellent wife, and though Lady Staines never
mentionedhernameagain,itwasrumoredthatSirPetermethersurreptitiously
atTattersall'sandtookheradviceuponhishorses.
Isabella,shockedandoutragedbythissisterlymischance,married,inthefaceof
allprobability,areluctantcurate.Hesubsidedintoafamilylivinggiventohim
bySirPeter,andtriedtodieofconsumption.
Isabellatookentirecontroloftheparish,whichsheruledasifitwereaquarterdeck.Shedidnotuseherfather'slanguage,butsheinheritedhisvoice.Itrang
overboys'clubsandintomothers'meetingswiththepenetrationandvolumeofa
megaphone.
LadyStainesheartilydislikedbothherdaughters,andsheappearednottocare
verydeeplyforhersons,butofthethreeshehadadecidedpreferenceforWinn.


Winnhadawickedtemper,anunshakablenerve,andhadinheritedthestrength
ofSirPeter'smusclesandthesledge-hammerweightofLadyStaines'swit.He
hadbeenexpelledfromhisprivateschoolforunparalleledinsolencetothehead
master; a repetition of his summing up of that gentleman's life and conduct
delighted his mother, though she assisted Sir Peter in thrashing him for the
result.
It may have contributed to his mother's affection for him that Winn had left
Englandatnineteen,andhadreachedthirty-fivewithonlytwosmallintervalsat
home.
HisfirstleavehadkeptthemallbusywithwhattheStainesconsideredawholly
unprovokedlawsuit;amanwhomWinnhadmostunfortunatelyfeltithisdutyto
flingfromabusintothestreet,havingtheweak-mindeddebilitytobreakhisleg
hadthefurtheraudacitytoclaimenormousdamages.TheStainesfoughtthecase
enblocwithsplendidzeal,andfieryeloquence.Itwouldprobablyhaveresulted
better for their interests if they had not defied their own counsel, outraged the
respectable minds of the jury, and insulted the learned judge. Under these
circumstancestheylosttheircase,andtherestofWinn'sleavewastakenupin
theFamily'scongenialpursuitoflayingtheblameoneachother.
ThesecondandmorefatalvisitheraldedWinn'smarriage.Hehadnothadtime
tomarrybefore.Itwouldnotbetruetosaythatwomenhadplayednopartinhis
experiences,buttheparttheyhadplayedwasneitherexaltednordurable.They
figuredinhisimaginationasaninferiortypeofgame,tiresomewhencaptured.
His life had been spent mainly in pursuit of larger objects. He had been sent
straightfromSandhursttoSouthAfrica,wherehehadfoughtwithviolenceand
satisfactionfortwoyears,winningtheD.S.O.,abrokennose,andacutacross
the face. When the fighting was over, he obtained leave for a two-years'
exploring expedition into the heart of West Africa. Ten men had gone on this
expedition, and two survived. Winn never talked of these experiences, but he
onceadmittedtoafriendthattheearlystudyofhissisters'charactershadsaved
himinmanyawkwardmoments.Hehadknownhowtoappealtofemalesavages
withtheunerringtouchofexperience.
From West Africa he was called to the Indian frontier, where he put in seven
yearsinvariegatedandextremelyusefulservice.Hereceivedhismajorityearly,
and disappeared for two years into Tibet, Manchuria, and China. After that he
came back to England for polo, and met Estelle Fanshawe. She was lovely,
gentle,intenselyvain,andnotverytruthful.


Lady Staines disposed of her at once as "a mincing ninny." The phrase
aggravated Winn, and his fancy deepened. It was stimulated by the fact that
Estelle was the belle of the neighborhood and had a large supply of ardent
admirers.Itwasalmostlikerunningaracewiththeoddsagainstyou.Winnwas
not a conceited man, and perhaps he thought the odds more against him than
theyactuallywere.Hewasthesecondsonofamanwhowasimmenselyrich,
(thoughSirPeterwasreportedstingytohischildren).Everybodyknewwhothe
Staines were, while the Fanshawes after every effort and with nearly every
attractionhadnotbecomeapartofpublicknowledge.Besides,Estellehadbeen
madelovetoforsometime,andWinn'swaywasundeniablydifferentfromthat
ofherotheradmirers.
Hemetheratadance,andinsistedupondancingwithherthewholeevening.He
took her card away from her, and scored off all her indignant partners. In the
intervalofthesedecisiveactionshemadelovetoherinasteady,definiteway
thatwasdifficulttolaughatandimpossibletoturnaside.
Whenhesaidgood-nighttoherhetoldherthathewouldprobablycomeandsee
her soon. She went away in a flutter, for his words, though casual, had had a
sharplysignificantsound;besides,hehadverynearlykissedher;ifshehadbeen
moretruthful,shewouldhavesaidquite.
She didn't, in thinking it over, know at all how this had happened, and she
generallyknewpreciselyhowthesethingshappened.
LadyStainestoldhersonatbreakfastafewmorningslaterwhatshethoughtof
MissFanshawe.
"She'sagirl,"sheobserved,knockingthetopoffheregg,"whowilldevelopinto
a nervous invalid or an advanced coquette, and it entirely depends upon how
muchadmirationshegetswhichshedoes.Ihearshe'sreligious,too,inasilly,
egotisticalway.Sheoughttohaveherneckwrung."
SirPeterdisagreed;theyheardhimintheservants'hall.
"Certainly not!" he roared; "certainly not! I don't think so at all! The girl's a
damnedprettypiece,andtheman'soneofmybesttenants.He'sonlyjustcome,
andhe'sdonewonderstotheplacealready.AndIwon'thavetheboycrabbedfor
fancyinganeighbor!It'sverynaturalheshould.Youneverhaveawomaninthe
housefittolookat.Whothedevildoyouexpectyourboystomarry?Negresses
orbar-maids?"


"Gentlewomen," said Lady Staines, firmly, "unless their father's behavior
preventsthemfrombeingaccepted."
Winn said nothing. He got up and began cutting ham at the sideboard. His
motherhesitatedamoment;butasshehadonlyrousedoneofhermen,shemade
afurthereffortinthedirectionoftheother.
"The girl's a mean-spirited little liar," she observed. "I wouldn't take her as a
housemaid."
"You may have to take her as a daughter-in-law, though," Winn remarked
withoutturningroundfromthesideboard.

"Youmayhavetotakeherasadaughter-in-law,though,"Winn
remarkedwithoutturningroundfromthesideboard

Sir Peter grunted. He didn't like this at all, but he couldn't very well say so
withoutappearingtoagreewithhiswife,athinghehadcarefullyavoideddoing
forthirtyyears.
LadyStainesroseandgatheredupherletters.
"You'reofage,"shesaidtoherson,"andyou'vehadaboutasmuchexperience
of civilized women as a European baby has of crocodiles, and you'll be just
aboutassafeandcleverwiththem.Asforyou,Peter,praydon'ttroubletotell
mewhatyouthinkoftheFanshawesinayear'stime.You'veneverhadatenant
youhaven'thadalawsuitwithyet,andthistimeyou'llbeaddingWinn'sdivorce
proceedings to your other troubles. I should think you might begin to save
towardthedamagesnow."
SirPeter'soathsaccompaniedhiswifeacrossthedining-roomtothedoor,which
hersonopenedceremoniouslyforher.Theireyescrossedlikeswords.
"IfIgetthatgirl,you'llbenicetoher,"Winnsaidinalowvoice.
"Aslongasyouare,"repliedLadyStaines,withagrimsmile.Hedidnotbang


thedoorafterher,asshehadhoped;instead,hewenttoseethegirl.


CHAPTERII
It was eleven o'clock when Winn arrived at the Fanshawes. Estelle was barely
dressed, she always slept late, had her breakfast in bed, and gave as much
troubleaspossibletotheservants.
However,whensheheardwhohadcalledtoseeher,shesentforabasketand
someroses,andfiveminuteslaterstrolledintothedrawing-room,withherhat
on,andtheflowersinherhands.
Hermotherstayedinthegardenandnervouslythoughtoutthelunch.
WinnseizedthebasketoutofEstelle'shands,tookherbythewrists,anddrew
hertothewindow.
She wasn't frightened of him, but she pretended to be. She said, "Oh, Major
Staines!"Shelookedassoftandinnocentasacream-fedkitten.Winnclearedhis
throat.Itmadehimfeelratherreligioustolookather.Hedidnotofcoursesee
herasakitten;hesawherapproximatelyasanangel.
"Lookhere,"hesaid,"myname'sWinn."
"You'rehurtingmywrists,"shemurmured.Hedroppedthem."Winn,"shesaid
underherbreath.
"Isay,"hesaidafteramoment'spause,"wouldyoumindmarryingme?"
EstelleliftedherfineChinablueeyestohis.Theyweren'tsoft,buttheycould
sometimeslookverymysterious.
"Oh,"shesaid,"but,Winn—it'ssosudden—sosoon!"
"Leave's short," Winn explained, "and besides, I knew the moment I looked at
you, I wanted you. I don't know how you feel, of course; but—well—I'm sure
youaren'tthekindofgirltoletafellowkissyou,areyou,andmeannothing?"
Estelle's long lashes swept her cheeks; she behaved exquisitely. She was, of
course,exactlythatkindofgirl.
"Ah,"shesaid,withalittletrembleinhervoice,"ifIdomarryyou—willyoube


kindtome?"
Winntrembled,too;heflushedveryred,andsuddenlyhedidthefunniest,most
unlikelythingintheworld:hegotdownonhiskneesbesideher,andtakingboth
herhandsinhis,hekissedthem.
"I'llbelikethisasmuchaseveryou'llletme,"hesaidgravely.
Hehadagreatcravingforsweetness,delicacy,andgentleness;hebegantotell
herinlittleshort,abruptsentenceshowunworthyhewasofher,notfittotouch
herreally—hewasafraidhe'dbeenhorriblyrough—anddonelotsofthingsshe
wouldhavehated(heforgottomentionthathe'deverdoneanythingworthdoing
aswell);heexplainedthathedidn'tknowanywomenabitlikeher;thereweren't
any, of course, really like—but she knew what he meant. So that he expected
she'dhavetoteachhimalot—wouldshe—ifshedidn'tmind,andoverlookhis
beingstupid?
Estellelistenedthoughtfullyforafewminutes,thensheaskedhimifhedidn't
thinkeightbridesmaidswouldbebetterthanfour?
Hegotupfromhiskneesthen.
He didn't like discussing the wedding, and he got bored very soon and went
away, so that Mrs. Fanshawe didn't need to have the special lunch she had
ordered,afterall.
They were to have a very short engagement, and Estelle decided on four
bridesmaids and four pages; she was so small herself that children would look
prettierandmoreinnocent.
There was something particularly charming about a young wedding, and they
weretohaveacelebrationfirst—Estellewasmostparticularaboutthat—anda
weddingbreakfastafterwardsofcourse.Winnwasextraordinarilykindtoher;he
lethersettleeverythingshelikedandgaveherexactlytheringshewanted—an
immense emerald set with diamonds. He wasn't in the least particular about
where they spent the honeymoon, after making a very silly suggestion, which
Estelle promptly over-ruled, that they might go to the East Coast and make a
studyoffortifications.
HeagreedthatLondonwoulddojustaswell,withtheaters,andhecouldlookup
amanheknewattheWarOffice.CertainlytheyshouldgototheRitzifEstelle
likedit;butitwasrathernoisy.


Theonepointhedidmakewastohaveayoungofficerheliked,whohadbeen
with him in China, Lionel Drummond, as his best man, instead of his cousin
LordArlington. His brotherswere outofthequestion,as hecouldn'thaveone
without having a row with the other. Estelle wanted Lord Arlington, but when
shepressedthepoint,Winngaveheramostextraordinarysharplookandsaid,"I
thought I told you I wanted that boy Drummond?" It was a most peculiar and
disconcertinglook,wellknownintheStainesfamily.Troubleusuallyfollowed
veryquicklyuponitsheels.Estelleshiveredandgaveinandwasrewardedbya
diamondbrooch.
Thisshowedherhowimportantshiveringwasgoingtobeinhermarriedlife.
The only really disagreeable time Estelle had during her engagement was the
shorthalfhourinwhichLadyStainesfulfilledhermaternalduties.
Itwasa rainydayandLadyStaineshadwalkedtwomilesacrossthefieldsin
whatlookedlikeacricketcap,andawaterproof.
She cleaned her boots as carefully as she could in the hall. They were squaretoedandhob-nailedandmostunsuitableforadrawing-room.
Mrs. Fanshawe literally quailed before them. "You shouldn't have parquet
floors," Lady Staines remarked, holding out her hand; "in the country, it's the
ruin of them unless you wear paper soles," she glanced searchingly at Mrs.
Fanshawe's and Estelle's feet. "And that of course is the ruin of your feet.
Probablyyou'velivedinLondonallyourlives?"
Mrs.Fanshawefoundherselfinthepositionofapologizingforwhathadhitherto
beenherproudestboast.LadyStaineslookedtolerantlyaroundher."London'sa
poor place," she observed, "and very shoddy. When my friends the Malverns
livedhere,theyhadoldoakandrathernicechintzes.Iseeyougoinforcolor
schemes and nicknacks. I hope Estelle won't find Staines uncomfortable;
however,sheprobablywon'tbewithusoften."
Sheturnedtoherfuturedaughter-in-law."YouareEstelle,mydear,ain'tyou?"
shedemanded."AndIdaresayyoucan'tspeakawordofFrenchinspiteofyour
finename.Canyou?"
Estelle hesitated and blushed. "Not very much, I'm afraid," she truthfully
murmured. It flashed through her mind that with Lady Staines you must be
truthfuliftherewasanypossiblechanceofyourbeingfoundout.


"Hum!"saidLadyStainesthoughtfully."Ican'tseewhatpeoplespendsomuch
oneducationfornowadays.Ireallycan't!Andyou'regoingtomarrymysecond
son, ain't you?" she demanded. "Well, I'm sure it's very kind of you. All the
Staineshavetempers,butWinn'sisquitetheworst.Idon'twanttoexaggerate,
butIreallydon'tthinkyoucouldmatchitinthisworld.Hegenerallykeepsit,
too!Hewasanasty,murderous,littleboy.IassureyouI'veoftenbeatenhimtill
hewasblackandblueandnevergotawordoutofhim."
Mrs.Fanshawelookedhorrified."ButmydearLadyStaines,"sheurged,"surely
youtriedkindness?"
LadyStainesshookherhead."No,"shesaid,"Idon'tthinkso,Idon'tthinkIam
kind—very.Buthe'sturnedoutwell,don'tyouthink?He'stheonlyoneofmy
sonswho'sgothonors—a'D.S.O.'forSouthAfrica,andaC.B.forsomethingor
other, I never know what, in China; and he got his Majority extraordinarily
young for special services—or he wouldn't have been able to marry you, my
dear,forhisfatherwon'thelphim.Hedoesn'tgetdrunkasoftenastheothertwo
boys,either;infact,onthewhole,Ishouldcallhimsatisfactory.Andnowhe's
chosenyou,andI'msurewe'reallverygratefultoyoufortakinghiminhand."
Mrs. Fanshawe offered her visitor tea; she was profoundly shocked, but she
thoughtthatteawouldhelp.LadyStainesrefusedit."No,thankyouverymuch,"
shesaid."ImustbegettingbacktogiveSirPeterhis.Ishallbelateasitis,andI
shallprobablyhearhimswearingalldownthedrive.Weshallallbeseeingmore
thanenoughofeachotherbeforelong.Butthere'snousemakingafussaboutit,
is there? We're a most disagreeable family, and I'm sure it'll be worse for you
thanforus."
Estelleaccompaniedherfuturemother-in-lawtothedoor.Shehadnotbeenas
muchshockedashermother.
LadyStaineslaidhersmallneathandonthegirl'sarm.Shelookedathervery
hard,buttherewasasparkofsomekind,behindthehardness;iftheeyeshadn't
beenthoseofLadyStaines,theymightalmosthavebeensaidtoplead.
"Iwonderifyoulikehim?"shesaidslowly.
Estellesaid,"Oh,dearLadyStaines,believeme—withallmyheart!"
LadyStainesdidn't believeher,but shesmiled good-humoredly."Yes,yes,my
dear, I know!" she said. "But how much heart have you got? You see his


happinessandyoursdependonthat.ThewomanwhomarriesaStainesoughtto
haveagooddealofheartandallofitoughttobehis."
Estelleputonanairofprettydignity."Ihaveneverlovedanyonebefore,"she
asserted with serene untruthfulness (she felt sure this fact couldn't be proved
againsther),"andWinnbelievesinmyheart."
"Doeshe?"saidhismother."Iwonder.Hebelievesinyourprettyface!Well,itis
pretty,Iacknowledgethat.Keepitasprettyasyoucan."
She didn't kiss her future daughter-in-law, but she tapped her lightly on the
shoulderandtrudgedbackwithheaderectthroughtherain.
"It'sabadbusiness,"shesaidtoherselfthoughtfully."He'srushedhisfenceand
there'saditchontheothersideofit,deepenoughtodrownhim!"


CHAPTERIII
Winnwanted,ifpossible,ahomewithoutrows.Heknewverylittleofhomes,
andnothingwhichhadmadehimsupposethisideallikelytoberealized.
Stillhewentonhavingit,hidingit,andhopingforit.
Oncehehadcomeacrossit.Itwasthetimewhenhehaddecidedtoundertakea
missiontoTibetwithoutagovernmentmandate.HewantedyoungDrummond
togowithhim.Thejobwasanawkwardanddangerousone.Certainauthorities
hadwarnedWinnthatthough,iftheresultsweresatisfactory,itwouldcertainly
becountedinhisfavor,shouldanythinggowrongnohelpcouldbesenttohim,
and he would be held personally responsible; that is he would be held
responsibleifhewerenotdead,whichwasthemostlikelyoutcomeofthewhole
business.
It is easy to test a man on the Indian frontier, and Winn had had his eye on
Lionel Drummond for two years. He was a cool-headed, reliable boy, and in
some occult and wholly unexpressed way Winn was conscious that he was
stronglydrawntohim.Winnofferedhimthejob,andevenconsented,whenhe
was on leave, to visit the Drummonds and talk the matter over with the boy's
parents. It was then that he discovered that people really could have a quiet
home.
Mrs.Drummondwasawomanofagreatdealofcharacter,verygreatgentleness,
and equal courage. She neither cried nor made fusses, and no one could even
haveimaginedhermakinganoise.
Itwasshewhovirtuallysettled,afteraprivatetalkwithWinn,thatLionelmight
accompanyhim.TheextraordinarythingthatMrs.DrummondsaidtoWinnwas,
"Yousee,Ifeelquitesurethatyou'lllookafterLionel,whateverhappens."
Winn had replied coldly, "I should never dream of taking a man who couldn't
lookafterhimself."
Mrs.Drummondsaidnothing.ShejustsmiledatWinnasifhehadagreedthat
he would look after Lionel. General Drummond was non-committal. He knew
theboywouldgetonwithoutthemission,buthealsoseemedtobeinfluenced


bysomeabsurdideathatWinnwastobeindefinitelytrusted,sothathewould
say nothing to stopthem. Lionelhimselfwaswildwithdelight,and thewhole
affairwasmanagedwithoutsuspicion,resentment,orhostility.
The expedition was quite as hard as the authorities had intimated, and at one
pointitverynearlyprovedfatal.Abadattackofdysenteryandsnowblindness
brought Lionel down at a very inconvenient spot, crossing the mountains of
Tibetduringablizzard.Therestofthepartysaidwithsometruththattheymust
goforwardorperish.Winnsentthemontothenextsettlement,keepingbacka
few stores and plenty of cartridges. He said that he would rejoin them with
DrummondwhenDrummondwasbetter,andifhedidnotarrivebeforeacertain
datetheyweretopushonwithouthim.
They were alone together for six weeks, and during these six weeks Winn
discoveredthathewasquiteanewkindofperson;foronethinghedeveloped
into a first-rate nurse, and he could be just like a mother, and say the silliest,
gentlestthings.Noonewastheretoseeorhearhim,andtheboywassoillthat
he wouldn't be likely to remember afterwards. He did remember, however, he
rememberedallhislife.ThestoresranoutandtheyweredependentonWinn's
rifleforfood.Theymeltedsnowwatertodrink,andthereweredayswhentheir
chanceslookedpracticallyinvisible.
Somehoworothertheygotoutofit,theboygrewbetter,theweatherimproved,
andWinnmanaged,thoughtheexactmeanswereneverspecified,todragLionel
on a sledge to the nearest settlement, where the rest of the party were still
awaitingthem.
Afterthattheexpeditionwassuccessfulandthefriendshipbetweenthetwomen
final. Winn didn't like to think what Mrs. Drummond would say to him when
they got back to England, but she let him down quite easily; she gave him no
thanks, she only looked at him with Lionel's steady eyes and said, smiling a
little,"Ialwaysknewyou'dbringhimbacktome."
WinndidnotaskLioneltostayatStainesCourtuntilthewedding.Noneofthe
Staineswentinmuchformakingfriends,andhedidn'twanthismothertosee
thathewasfondofanyone.
The night before the wedding, however, Lionel arrived in the midst of an
altercationastowhohadorderedthemotortomeetthewrongtrain.
This lasted a long time because all the Staines, except Dolores, were gathered


together,anditexpandedunexpectedlyintoanattackonCharles,theeldestson,
whosenamehadbeencoupledwiththatofaladywhoseprofessionalaptitudes
weredescribedasthoseofamanicurist.Therewasamomentwhenmurderofa
particularly atrocious and internecine character seemed the only possible
outcometothediscussion—thenCharlesinawhitefuryfoundthedoor.
BeforehehadgoneoutofearshotSirPeteraskedLionelwhathisfatherwould
do if presented with a possible daughter-in-law so markedly frail? Sir Peter
seemedtobelaboringunderthedelusionthathehadbeenweaklyfavorableto
his son's inclinations, and that any other father would have expressed himself
moreforcibly.Lionelwassavedfromtheawkwardnessofdisagreeingwithhim
byanunexpectedremarkfromLadyStaines.
"A girl from some kind of a chemist's shop," she observed musingly. "I fancy
she'stoogoodforCharles."
Sir Peter, who was fond of Charles, said the girl was probably not from a
chemist's shop; and described to the horror of the butler, who had entered to
preparethetea-table,justwhatkindofaplacesheprobablywasfrom.
LadyStaineslookedatWinn,andsaidshedidn'tseethatitwasmuchworseto
marryamanicuregirlthanonewholookedlikeamanequin.Theywereneither
ofthemtypeslikelytodocredittothefamily.Winnrepliedthat,asfarasthat
went,badclothesandgoodmoralsdidnotalwaysgotogether.Hewasprepared
apparently with an apt illustration, when Isabella's husband, the Rev. Mr.
Betchley,askedfeeblyifhemightgoup-stairstorest.
Itwasquiteobvioustoeverybodythatheneededit.
The next morning at breakfast the manicure girl was again discussed, but in a
veiledwaysoasnotreallytoupsetCharlesbeforethewedding.
WinnescapedimmediatelyafterwardswithLionel.Theywentforawalk,most
ofwhichwasconductedinsilence;finally,however,theyfoundalog,tookout
theirpipes,andmadethemselvescomfortable.
Lionel said, "I wish I'd seen Miss Fanshawe; it must be awfully jolly for you,
Winn."
Winnwassilentforaminuteortwo,thenhebegan,slowlygatheringimpetusas
hewenton:"Well—yes,ofcourse,inasenseitis.Imean,IknowI'mawfully
luckyandallthat,only—yousee,oldchap,I'mfrightfullyignorantofwomen.I


knowonesortofcourse—ajollysightbetterthanyoudo—butgirls!Hangitall,
Idon'tknowgirls.That'swhatworriesme—she'ssuchalittlething."Hepaused
amoment."Ihopeit'sallright,"hesaid,"marryingher.Itseemsprettyroughon
themsometimes,Ithink—don'tyou—Ifancyshe'sdelicateandallthat."Lionel
nodded."Itdoesseemratherbeastly,"headmitted,"theirhavingtohaveahard
time,Imean—butiftheycareforyou—Isupposeitworksoutallright."Winn
paidnoattentiontothisfruitlessoptimism.HewentonwithhisstudyofEstelle.
"She's—she'sreligioustoo,youknow,that'swhywe'retohavethatotherservice
first.Ratherniceidea,Ithink,don'tyou,what?Makesitabitofastrainforher
though I'm afraid, but she'd never think of that. I'm sure she's plucky." Lionel
alsowasquitesureEstellemustbeplucky.
"Fancyyougettingmarried,"Lionelsaidsuddenly."Ican'tseeitsomehow."
"I feel it funny myself," Winn admitted. "You see, it's so damned long, and I
never have seen much of women. I hope she won't expect me to talk a lot or
anythingofthatkind.Herpeople,youknow,chatterlikesomanymagpies—just
oozesoutof'em."
"Wemustbeoff,"Lionelsaid.
Theystoodup,knockedtheashesoutoftheirpipes,andpreparedtowalkon.
ItwasamildJuneday,smallvaguehillsstretchedbehindthem,andbeforethem
soft,lawn-likefieldsfellawaytotheriver'sedge.
Everywhere the green of trees in a hundred tones of color and with delicate,
innumerableleafshadows,laiduponthelandscape,thefragranceandlightness
ofthespring.
They were in a temperate land, every yard of it was cultivated and civilized,
immensely lived on and understood. None of it had been neglected or was
dangerousorstrangetotheeyeofman.
Simultaneouslythethoughtflashedbetweenthemofotherlandsandofsharper
vicissitudes; they saw again bleak passes which were cruel death traps, and
above them untrodden alien heights; they felt the solemn vastness of the
interminable, flawless snows. They kept their eyes away from each other—but
they knew what each other was feeling, adventure and danger were calling to
them—theoldstingandthrillofanunendingtrail;andthenfromalittlehollow
intheguardedhillsrangouttheweddingbells.


Lionellooked alittleshylyathischief."Iwonder,"he said,asWinnmade no
response, "if we can ever do things—things together again, I mean—I should
liketothinkwecould."Winngavehimaquicklookandmovedhastilyahead
overthefieldpathtowardthechurch."Whythedevilshouldn'twe?"hethrew
backatLioneloverhisshoulder.


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