Rest Harrow

Rest Harrow

REST HARROW MAURICE HEWLETT -WEATHERS WITH ILLUSTRATIONS BY FRANK CRAIG THI KANNICTHI CONTENTS BOOK I OF THE NATURE OF A PROLOGUE DEALING WITH A BRUISED PHILOSOPHER IN RETIREMENT BOOK II SANCHIA AT WANLESS HALL BOOK III INTERLUDE OF THE RECLUSE PHILOSOPHER BOOK IV SANCHIA IN LONDON BOOK V OF THE NATURE OF AN EPILOGUE DEALING WITH DESPOINA ILLUSTRATIONS Wrote deliberately to each of her sisters The hum of cities and buzz of dinner tables . . sound in his ears not at all. The housekeeper! This--person! He had eloquence he thought as he watched her he had won. But he was anxious. She was such a deep one. Ploughman in the vales would sometimes see his gaunt figure on the sky- line. "Well Sanchia" he said "here I am." The great music went sobbing and chiding through her frame like wounded nightingales. Senhouse came back to her bedside and put a little flower into her hand [Illustration: Wrote deliberately to each of her sisters.] BOOK I OF THE NATURE OF A PROLOGUE DEALING WITH A BRUISED PHILOSOPHER IN RETIREMENT I An observant traveller homing to England by the Ostend-Dover packet in the April of some five years ago relished the vagaries of a curious couple who arrived by a later train and proved to be both of his acquaintance. He had happened to be early abroad and saw them come on. They were a lady of some personal attraction comfortably furred who descending from a first-class carriage was met by a man from a third- class bare-headed free in the neck loosely clad in grey flannel trousers which flapped about his thin legs in the sea-breeze a white sweater with a rolling collar and a pair of sandals upon brown and sinewy feet uncovered by socks: these two. The man's garniture was extraordinary but himself no less so. He had a lean and deeply bronzed face hatchet- shaped like a Hindoo's. You looked instinctively for rings in his ears. His moustache was black and sinuous outlining his mouth rather than hiding it. His hair densely black was longish and perfectly straight. His eyes were far-sighted and unblinking; he smiled always but furtively as if the world at large amused him but must never know it. He seemed to observe everything except the fact that everybody observed himself. To have once seen such a man must have provided for his recollection; and yet our traveller who was young and debonnaire though not so young as he seemed first recognised the lady. "Mrs. Germain by George!" This to himself but aloud "Now where's she been all this time?" The frown which began to settle about his discerning eyes speedily dissolved in wonder as they encountered the strange creature in the lady's company. He stared he gaped then slapped his thigh. "Jack Senhouse! That's the man. God of battles what a start! Now what on earth is Jack Senhouse doing playing courier to Mrs. Germain?" That was precisely the employment. His man had handed the lady out of her compartment entered it when she left it and was possessing himself of her littered vestiges while these speculations were afloat. Dressing-case tea-basket umbrellas rugs and what not he filled his arms with them handed them over to expectant porters then smilingly showed their proprietress the carriage ridded. He led the way to the steamer deposited his burdens and saw to the bestowal of others fetched a chair wrapped her in rugs found her book indicated her whereabouts to a mariner in case of need. All this leisurely done in the way of a man who has privilege and duty for his warrants. Enquiring then with an engaging lift of the eyebrows whether she was perfectly comfortable and receiving with a pleasant nod her answering nod of thanks he left her and returned to the train. Tracked through the crowd and easily by his height bare head and leisurely motions he was next seen shouldering a canvas bag on his way back to the boat. Jack's belongings his bag of tricks; Jack all over the same inexhaustible Jack! It was delightful to our traveller to find Jack Senhouse thus verifying himself at every turn. He was for the steerage it appears--and of course he was!--where depressed foreigners share with bicycles motor cars and newly boiled pigs the amenities of economical travel. In this malodorous and slippery well his interested friend saw him sit down upon his bundle roll a cigarette and fall into easy conversation with an Italian voyager who having shaved was now putting on a clean collar and a tartan necktie. The traveller Mr. William Chevenix who had watched him so long a well- dressed and cheerful Englishman of some five-and-thirty summers with round eyes in a round and rosy face now assuring himself that he would be damned if he didn't have it out with the chap descended the companion picked his way through the steerage and approached the seated philosopher. He saw that he was known and immediately. Nothing escaped Senhouse. "How d'ye do how d'ye do?" He held out his hand. Senhouse rose and grasped it. The Italian took off his hat and strolled away. "I'm very well thanks" he said. "Have you noticed those shores beyond the canal? Samphire there just as we have it at home. Leagues of samphire." The younger man looked in the direction indicated cheerfully and blankly. "'The samphire by the ocean's brim'" he said lightly. "I attach no importance to it whatever but it's very like you to lift one into your privacy at a moment's notice. I'm all for the formalities myself so I observe that I haven't seen you for years. Years! Not since--why it must be eighteen." "It's precisely eight" said Senhouse "and I've been abroad for four of them." His friend inspected him with candid interest. "At your old games I take it. You've filled England with hardy perennials and now you're starting on Europe. Great field for you. You'll want a pretty big trowel though. A wheelbarrow might be handy I should have said." Senhouse fired. "I've been planting the Black Forest you see. Great games. They gave me a free hand and ten thousand marks a year to spend. I've done some rather showy things. Now I want to go to Tibet." The other's attention had wandered. "I saw you come on board" he said. "I watched you play the Squire of Dames to a rather pretty woman whom I happen to know. She was a Mrs. Germain in those days." "She still calls herself so" Senhouse said. He was staring straight before him out to sea. The steamer was under way. "Married a queer old file in Berkshire who died worth a plum. Goodish time ago. They called him Fowls or Fowls of the Air. So she's still a widow eh?" Senhouse nodded. "She's his widow." Then he asked "You know her? You might go and amuse her. I can't because of these bonds." He exhibited his sockless feet with a cheerful grin. "Oh I shall you know" he was assured. "You're not dressy enough for Mrs. Germain. She'd never stand it." "She doesn't" said Senhouse. "She dislikes a fuss and thinks me rather remarkable." "Well" said the other "I think she's right. You always were a conspicuous beggar. Now look at me. Think I'll do?" Senhouse peered at him. "I think you are exactly what she wants just now" he said. "Go in and approve yourself Chevenix." Mr. Chevenix the spick and span had something on his mind however which he did not know how to put. He continued to reflect upon Mrs. Germain but only by way of marking time. "She used to be very good fun in my young days. And she made things spin in Berkshire they tell me. I know she did in London--while it lasted. What's she doing? There was a chap called Duplessis I remember." "There still is" Senhouse said but in such a manner as to chalk No Thoroughfare across the field. Chevenix perceived this rather late in the day and ended his ruminations in a whistle. "She kept him dangling--" he had begun. Instead of pursuing he said abruptly "I say you remember Sancie Percival of course." A change came over Senhouse's aspect which a close observer might have noticed. He was very quiet hardly moved; but he seemed to be listening with all his senses listening with every pore of his skin. "Yes" he said slowly. "Yes I do; I'm not likely to forget her. She was my dearest friend and is so still I hope." The solemnity of his intended message clouded Mr. Chevenix's candid brow. "She's still at Wanless you know." Senhouse set a watch upon himself. "No doubt she is" he said. "She's well?" The other probed him. "She's never made it up with her people. I think she feels it nowadays." Senhouse asked sharply "Where's Ingram?" "Ingram" said Chevenix "is just off for a trip. He's to be abroad for a year. India." Senhouse shivered. "Alone?" "Well without her anyhow. He always was a casual beggar was Nevile." He could see now that he was making a hit. "Got old Senhouse where he lives" he told himself and then continued. "Fact is I've been out with him as far as Brindisi. He asked me to. I had nothing to do. But I want to see Sancie Percival again. I was awfully fond of her--of the whole lot of them." He reflected as .a man might deliberate upon familiar things and discover them to be wonders. "What a family they were by Jove! Five--of-- the--loveliest girls a man could meet with. Melusine what a girl she was! Married Tubby Scales--fat chap with a cigar. Vicky now. How about Vicky? She was my chum you know. She's married too. Chap called Sinclair--in the Guides. But Sancie beat them all in her quiet way. A still water-- what?" Senhouse his chin clasped in his bony hands contemplated the sea. His face was drawn and stern. There was a queer twitching of the cheek-bones. "Got him by Jove!" said Mr. Chevenix to himself and pushed on. "I say I wish you'd go and see her" he said. Senhouse got up and leaned over the bulwarks. He was plainly disturbed. Chevenix waited for him nervously but got nothing. Then he said "The fact is Senhouse I think that you should go. You were the best friend she ever had." Senhouse turned him then a tragic face. "No I wasn't" he said. "I think I was the worst." Chevenix blinked. "I know what you mean. If it hadn't been for you and your confounded theories you imply that she--" "I don't know--" Senhouse began. "God only knows what she might have done. She was not of our sort you know. I always said that she was unhuman." "That's the last thing she was" said Chevenix neatly. Senhouse scorned him. "You don't know anything about it" he said. "What are the doings of this silly world of our makeshift appearances to the essentials? Antics-- filling up time! You speak as if she gave Ingram everything and lost it. She did but he never knew it--so never had it. Ingram had what he was fitted to receive. Her impulse her impulsion were divine. She has lost nothing--and he has gained nothing." "If you talk philosophy I'm done" cried Mr. Chevenix. "Well I say to you my boy Go and see her. She's so far human that she's got a tongue and likes to wag it I suppose. I don't say that there's trouble and I don't say there's not. But there are the makings of it. She's alone and may be moped. I don't know. You'd better judge for yourself." Senhouse trembling from his recent fire turned away his face. "I don't know that I dare. If she's unhappy I shall be in the worst place I ever was in my life. I don't know what I shall do." "That's the first time you ever said that I'll go bail" Chevenix interrupted him. But Senhouse did not hear him. "I did everything I could at the time. I nearly made her quarrel with me-- I dared do that. I went up to Wanless and saw Ingram. I hated the fellow I disapproved of him feared him. He was the last man in the world I could have tackled with a view to redemption. He was almost hopelessly bad according to my view of things. Fed by slaves from the cradle hag-ridden by his vices; a purple young bully a product of filthy sloth scabbed with privilege. I saw just how things were. She pitied him and thought it was her business to save him. She did nobly. She gave herself for pity; and if she mistook that for love the splendid generosity of her is enough to take the breath away. The world ought to have gone down on its knees to her--but it picked up its skirts for fear she might touch them. What a country! What a race! Well feeling towards her as I did and loathing him I urged him to marry her--to make her his property for life. Dead against my conviction mind you but what else could I do? God help me I played the renegade to what I sincerely believed. I couldn't see her done to death by a world of satyrs." "Of course you couldn't my dear man" cried Chevenix. "Girls of her sort must be married you know." "I don't know anything of the kind" replied Senhouse fiercely; "but I loved her. You may put it that I funked. I did--and to no purpose." "If you were to see her now" Chevenix put in "you could do some good. She'll be pretty lonely up there." Senhouse got up. "I'll see her" he said. "Whatever happens." "Right" said Chevenix. "That's a good man. That's what I wanted of you. I'll tell her that you're coming. Now I'm going to do the civil to Mrs. Germain." Senhouse had turned away and was leaning over the bulwarks lost in his thoughts. He remained there until the passage was over. Mr. Chevenix having approached the lady with all forms observed made himself happy in her company as indeed he did in all. "Now this is very jolly Mrs. Germain I must say. I'm a companionable beggar I believe; and here I was in a ship where I didn't know a living soul until I met you and Senhouse. Didn't even know that you knew Senhouse. Queer fish eh? Oh the queerest fish in the sea! But you know all that of course." Mrs. Germain a brunette with the power of glowing coloured becomingly and veiled her fine eyes with somewhat heavy and heavily-fringed eye-lids. "Oh yes" she said "I have known him for a long time." "Met him abroad I suppose--tinkering round as he does. The everlasting loafer artist tinker poet gardener. 'Pon my soul he's like the game we used to do with cherry-stones round the pudding plate. Don't you know? Soldier sailor tinker tailor and all the rest. He's all those things and has two pair of bags to his name and lives in a cart and's a gentleman. Not a doubt about that mind you Mrs. Germain." She smiled upon him kindly. "None at all" she said. "I like him extremely." "You would you know" said Chevenix his tones rich in sympathy. "All women do. You couldn't help it. You've got such a kind heart. All women have. Now I've known Senhouse himself five or six years but I've known about him for at least eight. I used to hear about him from morn to dewy eve once upon a time from one--of--the--loveliest and most charming girls you ever met in your life. Did you know her? A Miss Percival-- Sanchia Percival. We used to call her Sancie. Thought you might have met her perhaps. No? Well this chap Senhouse would have gone through the fire for her. He would have said his prayers to her. Did you ever see his poems about her? My word! He published 'em after the row you know. He as good as identified her with--well we won't mention names Mrs. Germain but he identified her with a certain holy lady not a hundred miles from the Kingdom of Heaven. Blasphemous old chap--he did though." Mrs. Germain toying with her scent-bottle was interested. "I never heard him speak about a Miss Percival" she said. She used a careless tone but her flickering eyelids betrayed her. "You wouldn't you know" he told her with the same sympathetic earnestness. "There was too much of a row. He was cut all to pieces. I thought he'd go under; but he's not that sort. Who called somebody--some political johnny--the Sea-green Incorruptible? Oh ask me another! You might call old Senhouse the Green-tea Irrepressible; for that was his drink (to keep himself awake all night writin' poems) and there never was a cork that would hold him down--not even Sancie Percival. No no out he must come--fizzling." "I see" said Mrs. Germain still looking at her fingers in her lap. "I'm very much interested. You mean that he was very much--that he paid her a great deal of attention?" Chevenix stared roundly about him. "Attention! Oh heavens! Why three of his letters to her would fill _The Times_ for a week--and he kept it up for years! She used to get three a week--budgets! blue-books! For simple years! Attentions!" He shook his head. "The word's no good. He paid nobody anything at all when she was in the same county. He used to sit listening to her thrilling the waves of air. He used to hear her voice in the wind-- and when it changed he used to fire off his answers!" Mrs. Germain laughed--whether at Chevenix or his preposterous hero is not to be known. "You are rather absurd" she said. "Mr. Senhouse never gave me the idea of that sort of person. Why did they never--?" Chevenix narrowed his eyes to the merest slats. "_Marry?_" he said in an awed whisper. "Is that what you mean?" Mrs. Germain showed him her soft brown orbs which for two seasons had been said to be the finest pair of dark eyes in London. "Yes" she said "I do mean that. How clever of you to guess!" Chevenix bowed to her. "Not at all" he said. "I'm quite good at that kind of thing. You have to be if you knock about. Besides that's the whole point. Bless you! He would just as soon have married Diana of the Ephesians. He said so. I heard him. He would have thought it an insult to hint at it. Didn't I tell you that he was a poet?" "Yes" the lady said quickly. "You did. But I suppose poets occasionally marry." "Not that sort" Chevenix pronounced with a shake of the head. "At least they don't marry the right person. They never do. Or there are two or three persons. Look at Shelley. Look at Dante. I happen to know all about both of 'em. Senhouse drank 'em up--and gave 'em out like steam. He thought no end of Dante and Shelley. As a matter of fact he didn't believe in marriage as a game--as a kind of institution you know. He thought it devilish wrong--and said so--and that's where the trouble was. Marry Sancie! I wish to heaven he had. There'd have been no trouble at all. They were made for each other. She loved his fun--and was easy with him you see. She was queerish too--a shy young bird; but she was quite at home with him. No no. The trouble really began with him putting her out of conceit with marriage. And then she didn't care for him in that sort of way then. And then--well the less said the better." "Oh" said Mrs. Germain absorbed by the devolutions of the tale. "Oh!" "'Oh's the sort of expression one used at the time" said Chevenix. "There wasn't much else to be said. It was a holy row." He mused he brooded and said no more. Luckily for him he discovered Dover at hand and escaped. Mrs. Germain was put into a first-class carriage by two attendant squires provided with tea and a foot-warmer; and then Chevenix bowed himself away and Senhouse disappeared. She had a novel on her knees but read little. She looked out of window frowning and biting her red lip. When she reached Victoria she tightened both lips and you saw that so compressed they made a thin red line straight above a square chin. Her charm and favour both lay you then discovered in expression. Senhouse hatless and loose-limbed stood at the door to help her out. She accepted his services and was put into a cab. "Where's he to take you?" he asked her pleasantly. She said at once "To Brown's Hotel." Then before she got in with a hand unperceived by the general just touching his arm "Jack I want to speak to you but not to-night. Will you come in the morning please? I am rather tired and shall dine early and go to bed. Is my maid here?" She looked about. "Oh I suppose she's seeing to the luggage. You might find her and tell her where to come to." Senhouse smiled and nodded. "Certainly. All these things shall be done. Anything else before you go off?" She hesitated for a minute then said "Yes there _is_ one more thing. ...