PRIORY FARM

From Dene a mighty hill climbs southward to Cornworthy village. “The
Corkscrew” it is called, and men merciful to their beasts choose a
longer and more gradual ascent. But not a few of the workers engaged
at the paper mill tramped this zig-zag steep six days out of every
seven, and among these Lydia Trivett, the mother of Medora, could boast
twenty years of regular perambulation. Only on rare occasions, when
“Corkscrew” was coated with ice, did she take the long detour by the
little lake above the works.

She had lived at Ashprington until her husband died; then she and her
daughter came to live with her brother, Thomas Dolbear, of Priory Farm.
He was a bachelor then; but at forty he wedded; and now Medora had her
own home, while her mother still dwelt with Mr. Dolbear, his wife,
Mary, and their increasing family.

Lydia was a little brisk woman of fifty—the mistress of the rag house
at the mills. She was still comely and trim, for hard work agreed with
her. A very feminine air marked her, and Medora had won her good looks
from her mother, though not her affectation, for Mrs. Trivett was a
straightforward and unassuming soul. She had much to pride herself
upon, but never claimed credit in any direction.

Priory Farm stood under a great slope of orchard and meadow, upon the
crown of which the priory ruins ascended. The farm was at the bottom
of a hill, and immediately opposite climbed the solitary street of
Cornworthy village capped by the church. The church and the old
Cistercean ruin looked across the dip in the land at each other.

Now, on Sunday afternoon, Lydia, at the garden gate of her brother’s
house, started off six children to Sunday school. Five were girls and
one was a boy. They ranged from twelve years old to three; while at
home a two year old baby—another girl—remained with her mother. Mary
Dolbear expected her tenth child during the coming spring. Two had died
in infancy. She was an inert, genial mass of a woman, who lived only
for her children and the business of maternity. Her husband worshipped
her and they increased and multiplied proudly. Their house, but for
Lydia’s sleepless ministrations, would have been a pigstye. They were
indifferent to dirt and chose to make all things subservient to the
demands of their children.

“The cradle rules the world, so enough said,” was Tom Dolbear’s
argument when people protested at the chaos in which he lived. He was
a stout man with a fat, boyish face, scanty, sandy hair and a narrow
forehead, always wrinkled by reason of the weakness of his eyes. He had
a smile like a baby and was indeed a very childish man; but he knew his
business and made his farm suffice for his family needs.

In this house Lydia’s own room was an oasis in a wilderness. There one
found calm, order, cleanliness, distinction. She trusted nobody in it
but herself and always locked the door when she left for work.

It was regarded as a sacred room, for both Mary and her husband
reverenced Lydia and blessed the Providence that had sent her to them.
They treated her with the greatest respect, always gave way to her and
recognised very acutely the vital force she represented in the inert
and sprawling domesticity of their establishment. Once, when an idea
was whispered that Tom’s sister might leave him, Mary fell absolutely
ill and refused to eat and drink until she changed her mind and
promised to stay.

To do them justice they never took Lydia for granted. Their gratitude
flowed in a steady stream. They gave her all credit and all admiration,
and went their philoprogenitive way with light hearts.

Now Mrs. Trivett watched her nieces and nephew march together in their
Sunday best along the way to Sunday school. Then she was about to shut
the wicket and return up the garden path, when a man appeared on the
high road and a fellow worker at the Mill accosted her.

Nicholas Pinhey was a finisher; that is to say the paper passed
through his hands last before it left the works. With the multifarious
processes of its creation he had nothing to do; but every finished
sheet and stack of sheets touched his fingers before it entered the
world, and he was well skilled in the exacting duties of his own
department.

He was a thin, prim bachelor of sixty—a man of nice habits and
finicking mind. There was much of the old maid in him, too, and he
gossiped inordinately, but never unkindly. He knew the life history,
family interests and private ambitions of everybody in the Mill. He
smelt mystery where none existed and much feared the modern movements
and threats of labour. Especially was he doubtful of Jordan Kellock and
regarded him as a dangerous and too progressive spirit.

His interest in other people’s affairs now appeared; for he had come
to see Lydia; he had climbed “The Corkscrew” on Sunday from most
altruistic motives.

“The better the day the better the deed,” he said. “I’ve walked over
for a cup of tea and a talk, because a little bird’s told me something
I don’t much like, Mrs. Trivett, and it concerns you in a manner of
speaking.”

“You always keep to the point, Mr. Pinhey; and I dare say I know what
the point is for that matter. Come in. We can talk very well, because
we shall be alone in a minute.”

Nicholas followed her into the parlour, a room of good size on the left
hand side of the entrance. They surprised Mrs. Dolbear nodding beside
the fire. She liked Mr. Pinhey, but she was glad of the excuse to leave
them and retire to her own room.

She shook hands with the visitor, who hoped she found herself as well
as could be expected.

“Oh, yes,” she said. “I take these things from whence they come. I feel
no fear except in one particular.”

“I won’t believe it,” he declared. “You’ve got the courage to fight
lions and the faith to move mountains. We all know that. If the women
in general would come to the business of the next generation with
your fearless nature, we might hear less about the decrease of the
population.”

“It’s not my part I trouble about; it’s the Lord’s,” explained Mrs.
Dolbear. “If I have another girl, it’ll break Tom’s heart. Six maids
and one boy is the record so far, though of the two we’ve buried, one
was a boy. And such is my perfect trust in myself, if I could choose
what I want from the Almighty at this moment, it would be two men
children.”

“Magnificent!” said Mr. Pinhey.

“I take Lydia to witness I speak no more than the truth,” replied the
matron. “But these things are out of our keeping, though Tom read in a
paper some time since a remarkable verdict, that if a woman with child
ate enough green stuff, she might count on a boy.”

“That’s a painful subject,” said Lydia, “and you’d better not talk
about it, Polly.”

“It was painful at the time,” admitted Mrs. Dolbear, “because Tom’s one
of they hopeful men, who will always jump at a new thing like a trout
jumps at a fly. And what was the result? From the moment he hit on that
cussed paper, he fed me more like a cow than a creature with a soul.
’Twas green stuff morning, noon and night—lettuce and spinach—which
I hate any time—and broccoli and turnip tops and spring onions and
cauliflower and Lord knows what mess till I rebelled and defied the
man. I didn’t lose my temper; but I said, calm and slow, ‘Tom,’ I said,
‘if you don’t want me to be brought to a bed of cabbage next September,
stop it. God’s my judge,’ I said, ‘I won’t let down another herb of the
field. I want red meat,’ I told him, ‘or else I won’t be responsible.’
He argued for it, but I had my way and Lydia upheld me.”

“And what was the result in the family line if I may venture to ask?”
inquired Mr. Pinhey.

“The result in the family line was Jane Ethel,” answered Mrs. Dolbear;
“and where is Jane Ethel now, Lydia?”

“In her little grave,” answered Mrs. Trivett.

Her sister-in-law immediately began to weep.

“Don’t you cry, my dear, it wasn’t your fault. The poor baby was born
with death in her eyes, as I always said.”

Mrs. Dolbear sighed and moved ponderously across the room. She was
short and broad with a touzled head of golden hair and a colourless
face. But her smile was beautiful and her teeth perfect.

“I dare say you’ll want to talk before tea,” she suggested; “and I’ll
go and have a bit of a sleep. I always say, ‘where there’s sleep,
there’s hope.’ And I want more than most people, and I can take it any
time in the twenty-four hours of the clock.”

She waddled away and Mrs. Trivett explained.

“Polly’s a proper wonder for sleep. It’s grown into a habit. She’ll
call out for a nap at the most unseasonable moments. She’ll curl up
anywhere and go off. We shan’t see her again till supper I shouldn’t
wonder. Sit you down and tell me what you come for.”

“The work you must do in this house!” said Mr. Pinhey.

“I like work and this is my home.”

“A home I suppose, but not what I should call an abiding place,”
hazarded the man.

“I don’t want no abiding place, because we know, if we’re Christians,
that there’s no abiding place this side of the grave.”

“You take it in your usual high spirit. And now—you’ll forgive me if
I’m personal, Mrs. Trivett. You know the man that speaks.”

“You want to better something I’m sure, else you wouldn’t be here.”

“It is just as you say: I want to better something. We bachelors look
out on life from our lonely towers, so to say, and we get a bird’s eye
view of the people; and if we see a thing not all it might be, ’tis our
duty in my opinion to try and set it right. And to be quite frank and
in all friendship, I’m very much afraid your Medora and her husband
ain’t heart and soul together as they should be. If I’m wrong, then
thank God and enough said. But am I wrong?”

Mrs. Trivett considered some moments before answering. Then she replied:

“No, Nicholas Pinhey, you’re not wrong, and I wish I could say you
were. You have seen what’s true; but I wouldn’t say the mischief was
deep yet. It may be in our power to nip it in the bud.”

“You grant it’s true, and that excuses me for touching it. I know my
manners I hope, and to anybody else I wouldn’t have come; but you’re
different, and if I can prevail upon you to handle Medora, I shall feel
I have done all I can do, or have a right to do. In these delicate
cases, the thing is to know where the fault lies. And most times it’s
with the man, no doubt.”

“I don’t know about that. It isn’t this time anyway.”

Mr. Pinhey was astonished.

“Would you mean to say you see your own daughter unfavourable?” he
asked.

“You must know the right of a thing if you want to do any good,”
declared Lydia. “Half the failure to right wrong so far as I can see,
is owing to a muddled view of what the wrong is. I’ve hung back about
this till I could see it clear, and I won’t say I do see it clear yet.”

“I speak as a bachelor,” repeated Mr. Pinhey, “and therefore
with reserve and caution. And if you—the mother of one of the
parties—don’t feel you can safely take a hand, it certainly isn’t for
anybody else to try.”

“As a matter of fact, I was going to do something this very day. My
daughter’s coming to tea and I mean to ask her what the matter is.
She’s not prone to be exactly straight, is Medora, but seeing I want
nothing but her good, I hope she’ll be frank with me.”

The man felt mildly surprised to hear a mother criticise her daughter
so frankly.

“I thought a child could do no wrong in its parents’ eyes,” he said.

“Depends on the parent, Mr. Pinhey. If you want to help your child,
’tis no use beginning by taking that line. If we can do wrong, as God
knows we can, so can our children, and it’s a vain sort of love to
suppose they’re perfect. Medora’s got a great many good qualities, but,
like other pretty girls, she’s handicapped here and there. A right
down pretty girl don’t know she’s born most times, because everybody
in trousers bows down before her and helps to shut reality out of her
life.”

“It’s the same with money,” surmised Nicholas. “Let a young person
have money and they look at the world through tinted glasses. The
truth’s hidden from them, and some such go to their graves and never
know truth, while others, owing to chance, lose the stuff that stands
between them and reality and have a very painful wakening. But as to
beauty—you was a woman to the full as fair as your girl—yet look how
you weathered the storm.”

“No,” answered Lydia, “I never had Medora’s looks. In her case life’s
been too smooth and easy if anything. She had a comfortable home with
Tom here after her father died; and then came along a choice of two
good men to wed her and the admiration of a dozen others. She was in
two minds between Kellock and Dingle for a while; but her luck held and
she took the right one.”

“Are you sure of that?”

“Yes—for Medora. That’s not to say that Jordan Kellock isn’t a
cleverer chap than my son-in-law. Of course he is. He’s got more
mind and more sight. He has ideas about labour and a great gift of
determination; and he’s ambitious. He’ll go a long way further than
Ned. But against that you can set Ned’s unshakable good temper and
light heart. It’s grander for a man to have a heavy heart than a light,
when he looks out at the world; but they heavy-hearted, earnest men,
who want to help to set life right, call for a different fashion of
wife from Medora. If such men wed, they should seek women in their
own pattern—the earnest—deadly earnest sort—who don’t think of
themselves, or their clothes, or their looks, or their comforts. They
should find their helpmates in a kind of female that’s rare still,
though they grow commoner. And Medora ain’t that sort, and if she’d
took Kellock she’d have been no great use to him and he’d have been no
lasting use to her.”

“Dear me!” murmured Mr. Pinhey, “how you look into things.”

“Ned’s all right,” continued Mrs. Trivett. “He’s all right, for Medora;
and she ought to be all right for him. He loves her with all his heart
and, in a word, she doesn’t know her luck. That’s what I must try and
show her if I can. It’s just a sort of general discontent about nothing
in particular. You can’t have it both ways. Ned’s easy and likes a bit
of fun. He’s a good workman—in fact above the average, or he wouldn’t
be where he is. As a beaterman you won’t find his better in any paper
mill; but it ends there. He does his work and he’s reached his limit.
And away from work, he’s just a schoolboy from his task. He’s light
hearted and ought to be happy; and if she is not, he’ll worry a great
deal. But he won’t know what’s the matter, any more than Medora
herself.”

Mr. Pinhey’s conventional mind proceeded in its natural groove.

“To say it delicately, perhaps if a child was to come along it would
smooth out the crumpled rose-leaves,” he suggested.

“You might think so; but it isn’t that. They both agree there. They
don’t like children and don’t want them.”

“Well, I should be the last to blame them, I’m sure. It may not be true
to nature, but it’s true to truth, that the young married couples ain’t
so keen about families as they used to be.”

“Nature’s at odds with a good deal we do,” answered Lydia. “Time
was when a quiver full of young ones seemed good to the people. But
education has changed all that. There’s selfishness in shirking a
family no doubt; but there’s also sense. And the better the education
grows, the shorter the families will.”

They talked on until Medora herself arrived and the children came back
from Sunday school. Then Mrs. Trivett and a maid prepared the tea and
Mr. Pinhey, against his inclination, shared the meal. He noticed that
Medora was kind to the little ones, but not enthusiastic about them.
His own instincts made him shrink before so much happy and hungry youth
feeding heartily. The children scattered crumbs and seemed to create an
atmosphere of jam and a general stickiness around them. They also made
a great deal of noise.

Their mother did not appear and when Nicholas asked for their father,
the eldest daughter told him that Mr. Dolbear was gone out for the day
with his dogs and a ferret.

He whispered under his breath, “Ferreting on the Sabbath!”

After tea he took leave and returned home. Then Medora and her mother
went into the orchard with the children, and Mrs. Trivett, wasting no
words, asked her daughter what was vexing her.

“Say as much or as little as you please, my dear—nothing if I can’t
help you. But perhaps I can. It looks as though everybody but Ned sees
there’s something on your mind. Can’t you tell me what it is—or better
still, tell him?”

Medora flushed.

“There’s nothing the matter that can be helped,” she said. “Ned can’t
help being himself, I suppose, and if anybody’s talking, they ought to
be ashamed. It’s a cowardly, mean thing.”

“It’s not cowardly, or mean to want to put a wrong right and make
people better content. But nobody wants to interfere between husband
and wife, and the people are very fond of you both as you well know.
You say ‘Ned can’t help being himself.’ Begin there, then. You’ve been
married a year now and you didn’t marry in haste either. He was what he
is before you took him. He hasn’t changed.”

“I didn’t think he was such a fool, if you must know,” said Medora.

“What d’you mean by a fool?”

“Simple—like a dog. There’s nothing to Ned. Other men have character
and secrets and a bit up their sleeve. They count, and people know
they ain’t seeing the inside of them. Ned’s got no inside. He’s a boy.
I thought I’d married a man and I’ve married a great boy. I’m only
telling you this, mind. I’m a good wife enough; but I’m not a brainless
one and I can’t help comparing my husband to other men.”

“You always compare everything you’ve got to what others have got,”
answered Lydia. “When you was a tiny child, you’d love your toys till
you saw the toys of other children. Then you’d grow discontent. At
school, if you took a prize, it was poisoned, because some other girl
had got a prettier book than you; and everybody else’s garden was
nicer than ours; and everybody else had better furniture in their
houses and better pictures on their walls and better clothes on their
backs. And now it’s your husband that isn’t in it with other people’s
husbands. Perhaps you’ll tell me, Medora, what husbands round about
can beat Ned for sense and cheerfulness and an easy mind and the other
things that go to make a home comfortable.”

“Everybody isn’t married,” answered Medora. “I don’t look round and
compare Ned to other husbands. I’ve got something better to do. But I
can’t help seeing with all his good nature and the rest of it that he’s
a slight man—not a sort for woman to repose upon as something with
quicker wits—stronger, more masterful than herself.”

“Like who?” asked Mrs. Trivett.

“Well—I’m only speaking to you, mother—take yesterday. Jordan Kellock
asked us to go for a row in the gamekeeper’s boat and see the river—me
and Ned. And we went; and how could I help seeing that Jordan had the
brains? Nothing he said, for he’s a good friend and above smallness;
but while Ned chattered and laughed and made a noise, there was Jordan,
pleasant and all that; but you felt behind was strength of character
and a mind working and thinking more than it said; while my husband was
saying more than he thinks. And I hate to hear him chatter and then,
when he’s challenged, climb down and say he sees he was wrong.”

“You’ve got to take the rough with the smooth in human nature, Medora.
And it’s a bit staggering to hear you mention Kellock, of all men,
seeing the circumstances. If you feel like that, why didn’t you take
Kellock when you could?”

Medora’s reply caused her mother consternation.

“God knows why I didn’t,” she said.

The elder gave a little gasp and did not answer.

“It’s wrong when you have to correct your husband in front of another
man,” continued Medora; “but I’ve got my self respect I believe—so
far—and I won’t let Ned say foolish things before people and let
others think I’m agreeing with him. And if I’ve spoken sharp when
men or women at the works heard me, Ned’s got himself to thank for
it. Anyway Jordan knows I’m not without brains, and I’m not going to
pretend I am. I laughed at Ned in the boat yesterday, and he said after
that he didn’t mind my laughing at him, but he wouldn’t have it before
people.”

Mrs. Trivett left the main issue as a subject too big for the moment.

“You ought not to laugh at him before Mr. Kellock,” she said; “because
he’s one of them serious-minded men who don’t understand laughter. I’ve
seen a man say things in a light mood that had no sting in them really,
yet one of the humourless sort, listening, didn’t see it was said for
fun, and reported it after and made trouble. Kellock’s a solemn man and
would misread it if you scored off Ned, or said some flashy thing that
meant nought in truth. You know what I mean.”

They had strolled to the top of the orchard now, where the children
were playing in the Priory ruin. And here at dusk they parted.

“We’ll leave it till we can have another talk,” said Lydia; “seemingly
there’s more to talk about than I thought. Be patient as well as proud,
Medora. And don’t feel so troubled about Ned that you haven’t got no
spare time to look into your own heart and see if you’re satisfied
with yourself. Because very often in my experience, when we’re seeing
misfortune and blaming other people, if we look at home, we’ll find the
source of the trouble lies with ourselves and not them.”

Continue Reading

MAGIC PICTURES

Stopping only to wash his hands and brush his hair, Kellock left his
rooms and hastened up the coomb, where towered immense congeries of
buildings under the slope of the hills. Evening sunshine fell over the
western height which crowned the valley, and still caught the upper
windows of the factory; but the huge shadow quickly climbed upward as
the sun set.

A small house stood at the main gate of Dene Paper Mill, and at the
door sat a man reading a paper and smoking his pipe.

It was Mr. Trood, foreman of the works.

“Guvnor’s asking for you, Kellock,” he said. “Five o’clock was the
time.”

Jordan hurried on to the deserted mills, for the day was Saturday
and work had ceased at noon. Threading the silent shops he presently
reached a door on an upper floor, marked “Office,” knocked and was told
to enter.

On the left of the chamber sat a broad-shouldered man writing at a
roll-top desk; under the windows of the room, which faced north,
extended a long table heaped with paper of all descriptions and colours.

The master twisted round on his office chair, then rose and lighted a
cigarette. He was clean-shaved with iron-grey hair and a searching but
genial expression. His face shone with intelligence and humour. It was
strong and accurately declared the man, for indomitable perseverance
and courage belonged to Matthew Trenchard.

His own success he attributed to love of sport and love of fun. These
pursuits made him sympathetic and understanding. He recognised his
responsibilities and his rule of conduct in his relations with the
hundred men and women he employed was to keep in closest possible
touch with them. He held it good for them and vital for himself that
he should know what was passing in their minds; for only thus could he
discover the beginning of grievances and destroy them in the egg. He
believed that the longer a trouble grew, the more difficult it was to
dissipate, and by establishing intimate relations with his staff and
impressing upon them his own situation, his successes and his failures,
he succeeded in fixing unusual bonds.

For the most part his people felt that Trenchard’s good was their
own—not because he said so, but because he made it so; and save for
certain inevitable spirits, who objected on principle to all existing
conditions between capital and labour, the workers trusted him and
spoke well of him.

Kellock was first vatman at Dene, and one of the best paper makers in
England. Both knew their worth and each was satisfied with the other.

“I’ve heard from that South American Republic, Kellock,” said Mr.
Trenchard. “They like the new currency paper and the colour suits them.”

“It’s a very fine paper, Mr. Trenchard.”

“Just the exact opposite of what I’m after for these advertisements.
The public, Kellock, must be appealed to by the methods of Cheap Jack
at the fair. They love a conjuring trick, and if you can stop them
long enough to ask ‘how’s it done?’ you often interest them and win
them. Now samples of our great papers mean nothing to anybody but the
dealers. The public doesn’t know hand-made paper from machine-made.
What we’ve got to do is to show them—not tip-top paper, but a bit of
magic; and such a fool is the public that when he sees these pictures
in water-mark, he’ll think the paper that produces them must be out of
the common good. We know that it’s not ‘paper’ at all in our sense,
and that it’s a special brew for this special purpose; but the public,
amazed by the pictures, buys our paper and doesn’t know that the better
the paper, the more impossible such sleight of hand would be upon it.
We show them one thing which awakes their highest admiration and causes
them to buy another!”

All this Jordan Kellock very well understood, and his master knew that
he did; but Trenchard liked to talk and excelled in lucid exposition.

“That’s right,” said the vatman; “they think that the paper that can
take such pictures must be good for anything; though the truth is that
it’s good for nothing—but the pictures. If there was any quality to
the pulp, it could never run into such moulds as these were made in.”

He began to pick up the impressions of a series of large, exhibition
water-marks, and hold them to the windows, that their transparent
wonders might be seen.

“Real works of art,” he said, “with high lights and deep shadows
and rare half tones and colour, too, all on stuff like tissue. The
beaterman must give me pulp as fine as flour to get such impressions.”

“Finer than flour, my lad. The new moulds are even more wonderful. It
is no good doing what your father did over again. My father beat my
grandfather; so it’s my duty to beat him—see?”

“These are wonderful enough in all conscience.”

“And for the Exhibition I mean to turn out something more wonderful
still. Something more than craft—real art, my friend. I want the
artists. I want them to see what our art paper for water-colour work
is. They don’t know yet—at least only a handful of them.”

“But this is different. The pulp to do this sort of thing must be as
thin as water,” said Kellock.

“Fibre is the first consideration for paper that’s going to be as
everlasting as parchment; but these water-mark masterpieces are _tours
de force_—conjuring tricks as I call them. And I want to give the
public a conjuring trick more wonderful than they’ve ever seen in paper
before; and I’m going to do it.”

“No paper maker ever beat these, Mr. Trenchard,” declared Kellock. He
held up large sheets of the size known as “elephant.” They appeared
to be white until illuminated; then they revealed shades of delicate
duck-green, sunrise yellow, dark blue, light blue and umber.

A portrait by Romney of Lady Hamilton shone through the first, and
the solidity of the dark masses, the rendering of the fabric and the
luminous quality of the flesh were wonderfully translated by the
daylight filtering through.

“There can be no painted pictures like these,” said Matthew Trenchard
stoutly. “And why? Because the painter uses paint; I use pure daylight,
and the sweetest paint that ever was isn’t a patch on the light of day.
Such things as these are more beautiful than pictures, just because the
living light from the sky is more beautiful than any pigment made by
man.”

Kellock was too cautious to agree with these revolutionary theories.

“Certainly these things would be very fine to decorate our windows, if
we didn’t want to look out of them,” he admitted.

Then he held up a portrait of Her Majesty, Queen Victoria.

“Pure ultramarine blue, you see,” commented the master, “and the light
brings out its richness, though if you looked at the paper, you’d be
puzzled to find any blue in it. That’s because the infinitely fine
atoms of the colour would want a microscope to see their separate
particles. Yet where the pulp sank to the depths of the mould, they
collected in millions to give you those deep shadows.”

Kellock delayed at the copy of a statue: the Venus Victrix from
Naples—a work which certainly reproduced the majesty of the original
in a rounded, lustrous fashion that no reproduction on the flat could
echo.

“We can’t beat that, though it is fifty years old,” declared Kellock.

“We’re going to, however; and another statue is my idea. Marble comes
out grandly as you see. I’m out for black and white, not colour. I’ve
an idea we can get something as fine as the old masters of engraving,
and finer.”

“The vatman is nought for this work,” confessed Kellock. “He makes
paper in his mould and that’s all there is to it—whether for printing,
or writing, or painting. The man who matters is him who makes the
mould.”

“But we can help him; we can experiment at the vat and in the beating
engine. We can go one better in the pulp; and the stroke counts at the
vat. I reckon your stroke will be invaluable to work the pulp into
every cranny of such moulds as I’m thinking about.”

“I’ll do my best; so will Dingle; but how many men in England are there
who could make such moulds as these to-day?”

“Three,” replied Trenchard. “But I want better moulds. I’m hopeful that
Michael Thorn of London will rise to it. I go to see him next week, and
we put in a morning at the British Museum to find a statue worthy of
the occasion.”

“I can see a wonderful thing in my mind’s eye already,” declared
Kellock.

“Can you? Well, I never can see anything in my mind’s eye and rest
content for an hour, till I set about the way to see it with my body’s
eye.”

“We all know that, Mr. Trenchard.”

“Here’s my favourite,” declared the other, holding up a massive head of
Abraham Lincoln. “Now that’s a great work in my judgment and if we beat
that in quality, we shall produce a water-mark picture worth talking
about.”

“You ought to show all these too,” said Jordan Kellock.

“I shall—if I beat them; not if they beat me,” replied the other.
“I wanted you to see what my father and grandfather could do, so that
you may judge what we’re up against. But they’re going to be beaten at
Dene, or else I’ll know the reason why.”

“It’s good to see such things and worth while trying to beat them,”
answered the vatman.

“To improve upon the past is the business of every honest man in my
opinion,” declared Trenchard. “That’s what we’re here for; and that’s
what I’ve done, I believe, thanks to a lot of clever people here who
have helped me to do it and share what credit there may be. But I don’t
claim credit, Ned. It’s common duty for every man with brains in his
head to help push the craft along.”

“And keep its head above water,” added the listener.

Matthew Trenchard eyed him doubtfully and lighted another cigarette.

“Yes,” he admitted rather reluctantly. “You’re right. Hand-made paper’s
battling for its life in one sense—like a good many other hand-made
things. But the machine hasn’t caught us yet and it will be a devil of
a long time before it does, I hope.”

“It’s for us not to let it,” said Jordan—a sentiment the paper master
approved.

“I’m fair,” he said, “and I’m not going to pretend the machine isn’t
turning out some properly wonderful papers; and I’m not going to say it
isn’t doing far better things than ever I thought it would do. I don’t
laugh at it as my grandfather did, or shake my head at it as my father
used. I recognise our craft is going down hill. But we ain’t at the
bottom by a long way; and when we get there, we’ll go game and die like
gentlemen.”

They talked awhile longer; then the dusk came down, Kellock departed
and Trenchard, turning on an electric light, resumed his writing.

Continue Reading

BOW CREEK

How musical are the place names on the tidal water of Dart. Tuckenhay
and Greenway, Stoke Gabriel and Dittisham, Sharpham and Duncannon—a
chime of bells to the native ear that knows them.

To-day autumn rainbows burnt low on the ferny hills and set their
russet flashing. Then hailstorms churned the river into a flurry
and swept seaward under a grey cowl. They came with a rush of wind,
that brought scarlet leaves from the wild cherry and gold dust from
the larch; but soon the air cleared and the sun returned, while the
silver fret of the river’s face grew calm again to mirror far-off
things. Easterly the red earth arched low on the blue sky; west spread
cobweb-grey orchards, their leaves fallen, their last of apples still
twinkling—topaz and ruby—among the lichens of their ancient boughs.
Then broad, oaken hangers met the beech scrub and the pale oak foliage
was as a flame dancing above the red-hot fire of the beeches. Their
conflagrations blazed along the tideway and their reflected colour
poured down over the woods into the water.

Then elm trees rolled out along the river, and above them, in billows
mightier than they, sailed the light-laden clouds, that seemed to lift
another forest, bossed and rounded as the elm trees, and carry up their
image into the sky. But the cloud glory was pale, its sun touched
summits faint against the ardour of the earthborn elms.

At water’s brink, above Stoke Gabriel’s little pier and gleam of white
and rose-washed cots, black swine were rooting for acorns; while
westerly an arm of Dart extended up Bow Creek through such sunlight as
made the eyes throb and turn to the cool shadows. Another silver loop
and Duncannon cuddled in an elbow of the river; then, higher yet, the
hills heaved along Sharpham’s hanging woods turned from the sun. The
immense curtain of trees faced north in tapestry of temperate tones
painted with purple and grey and the twilight colours of autumn foliage
seen through shadows. The ash was already naked—a clean skeleton
against the dun mass of dying foliage—and other trees were casting
down their garments; but the firs and spruce made rich contrast of blue
and green upon the sere.

Beyond Sharpham, long river flats rolled out, where plover and gulls
sat on tussocks of reed, or rush, and curlew wheeled and mewed
overhead. Then opened a point, where, robbed of colour, all mist-laden,
amid gentle passages of receding banks and trees, there lifted the
church tower of Totnes, with Dartmoor flung in a dim arc beyond.

So Dart came, beside old, fern-clad wharves, through sedge-beds and
reed ronds to the end of her estuary under the glittering apron of a
weir. Then the pulse of the sea ceased to beat; the tide bade farewell,
and the salmon leapt from salt to fresh.

Worthy of worship in all her times and seasons; by her subtleties and
sleights, her sun and shadow; by her laughter and coy approaches;
by her curves and colours; her green hills and delight of woods
and valleys; by her many voices; her changing moods and little
lovelinesses, Dart is all Devon and so incomparably England.

A boat moved on Bow Creek, and in it there sat two men and a young
woman. One man rowed while his wife and the other man watched him.
He pulled a long, powerful stroke, and the little vessel slipped up
the estuary on a tide that was at flood, pondering a moment before the
turn. The banks were a blaze of autumn colour, beneath which shelving
planes of stone sank down to the water. The woman twirled an umbrella
to dry it from the recent storm. She was cold and shivered a little,
for though the sun shone again, the north wind blew.

“I’m fearing we oughtn’t to have come, Medora,” said the man who sat
beside her.

“Take my coat,” advised Medora’s husband. “It’s dry enough inside.”

He stopped rowing, took off his coat and handed it to his wife, who
slipped it over her white blouse, but did not thank him.

Medora Dingle was a dark-faced girl, with black hair and a pair of
deep, brown eyes—lovely, but restless—under clean, arched eye-brows.
Her mouth was red and small, her face fresh and rosy. She seemed
self-conscious, and shivered a little more than was natural; for she
was strong and hearty enough in body, tall and lithe, one who laboured
six days a week and had never known sickness. Two of her fingers were
tied up in cotton rags, and one of the wounds was on her ring finger so
that her wedding ring was not visible.

Presently Edward Dingle put down the oars.

“Now you can take it on, old chap,” he said, and then changed places
with his companion. The men were very unlike, but each comely after
his fashion. Dingle was the bigger—a broad-shouldered, loose-limbed
youth of five-and-twenty, with a head rather small for his bulk,
and a pleasant laughter-loving expression. He was fair and pretty
rather than handsome. His features were regular, his eyes blue, his
hair straw-coloured and curly. A small moustache did not conceal his
good-humoured mouth. His voice was high-pitched, and he chattered
a great deal of nothing. He was a type of the slight, kindly man
taken for granted—a man whose worth is under-valued by reason of his
unimportance to himself. He had a boundless good nature combined with a
modest mind.

Jordan Kellock stood an inch or two shorter than Dingle and was a
year or two older. He shaved clean, and brushed his dark, lustreless
hair off his high forehead without parting it. Of a somewhat sallow
complexion, with grey, deliberate eyes and a clean-cut, thin-lipped
mouth, his brow suggested idealism and enthusiasm; there was a light in
his solemn eyes and a touch of the sensitive about his nose. He spoke
slowly, with a level, monotonous accent, and in this also offered an
abrupt contrast to his companion.

It seemed that he felt the reality of life and was pervious to
impressions. He rowed with less mannerism, and a slower stroke than his
friend; but the boat moved faster than it had with Dingle at the oars,
for Kellock was a very strong man, and his daily work had developed his
breast and arms abnormally.

“A pity now,” said Ned, “that you didn’t let me fetch your thick coat,
Medora, like I wanted to.”

“You ought to have fetched it,” she answered impatiently.

“I offered, and you said you didn’t want it.”

“That’s like you. Throw the blame on me.”

“There’s no blame to it.”

“You ought to have just brought the thing and not bothered me about
it,” she declared.

Then her husband laughed.

“So I ought,” he admitted; “but it takes a man such a hell of a time to
know just what he ought to do where a woman’s concerned.”

“Not where his wife’s concerned, I should think.”

“Hardest of all, I reckon.”

“Yes, because a wife’s truthful most times,” replied Medora. “It’s no
good her pretending—there’s nothing to gain by it. Other women often
pretend that a man’s pleasing them, when he’s not—just for politeness
to the stupid things; but a man’s wife’s a fool to waste time like
that. The sooner she trains her husband up to the truth of her, the
better for him and the better for her.”

They wrangled a little, then Ned laughed again.

“Now Jordan will let on you and me are quarrelling,” he said.

Thus challenged, the rower answered, but he was quite serious in his
reply.

“Last thing I should be likely to do—even if it was true. A man and
his wife can argue a point without any feeling, of course.”

“So they can,” declared Medora. “And a proud woman don’t let even a
friend see her troubles. Not that I’ve got any troubles, I’m sure.”

“And never will have, I hope,” answered Kellock gravely.

The creek began to close, and ahead loomed a wharf and a building
standing upon it. The hills grew higher round about, and the boat
needed steering as her channel became narrower.

“Tide’s turning,” said Ned, and for answer, the rower quickened his
stroke.

They passed the wharf, where a trout stream from a coomb ran into the
estuary, then, ascending to the head of the boatable waters, reached
their destination. Already the tide was falling and revealing weedy
rocks and a high-water mark on either bank of the creek. To the right
a little boathouse opened its dark mouth over the water, and now they
slipped into it and came ashore.

Medora thanked Jordan Kellock warmly.

“Don’t you think I didn’t enjoy it because I got a bit chilly after the
hailstorm,” she said. “I did enjoy it ever so much, and it was very
kind of you to ask me.”

“The last time we’ll go boating this year,” he answered, “and it was a
good day, though cold along of the north wind. But the autumn woods
were very fine, I’m sure.”

“Properly lovely—poetry alive you might call them.”

“So I thought,” he answered as he turned down his sleeves and presently
put on his coat and tie again. The coat was black and the tie a subdued
green.

Ned made the boat ship-shape and turned to his wife.

“A good smart walk up the hill will warm you,” he said.

She hesitated and whispered to him.

“Won’t you ask Jordan to tea?”

“Why, certainly,” he answered aloud. “Medora’s wishful for you to come
to tea, old man. So I hope you will.”

“I should have liked to do it,” replied Kellock; “but I’ve promised to
see Mr. Trenchard. It’s about the moulds for the advertisements.”

“Right. He’ll want me, too, I reckon over that job.”

“He will without a doubt. In fact it’s more up to you than me.
Everything depends on the pulp.”

“So it does with all paper,” declared Ned.

“True enough. The beaterman’s master. For these fancy pictures for
exhibition you’ve got to mix stuff as fine as clear soup—just the
contrary of what you may call real paper.”

“Are you coming, Ned?” asked Medora. “I’ve got to get over to mother
to-morrow and I don’t want to go with a cold.”

“Coming, coming,” he said. “So long, Jordan.”

“Good-bye till Monday,” answered the other. Then he stood still and
watched the young couple tramp off together.

He gazed thoughtfully and when they disappeared up a steep woodland
path, he shook his head. They were gone to Ashprington village, where
they dwelt; but Mr. Kellock lived at Dene where the trout stream
descended from the hills to the river. He crossed from the boat-house
by a row of stepping-stones set athwart the creek; then he turned to
the left and soon found himself at the cottage where he lodged.

This man and Dingle had both loved Medora Trivett, and for some time
she had hesitated between them. But Ned won her and the loser, taking
his defeat in a large and patient spirit, continued to remain good
friends with both.

Mr. Kellock knew, what everybody guessed, that after a year of
marriage, the pair were not happy together, though why this should be
so none could at present determine.

Continue Reading

ARTHUR UPSON

WHEN a volume of verse by Mr. Arthur Upson, entitled _Octaves In An
Oxford Garden_, was first brought to my notice by a poet friend with
what seemed before reading it a somewhat extravagant comment as to its
art, it evoked a certain scepticism as to whether the poet in question
would be equally enthusiastic, had he read, marked, learned, and
inwardly digested some eighty or more volumes of verse within a given
period, thus rendering a more rarely flavored compound necessary to
excite anew the poetry-sated appetite; but Mr. Upson’s Octaves proved
to be a brew into which had fallen this magic drop, and moments had
gone the way of oblivion until the charm was drained.

The volume consists of some thirty Octaves written in Wadham Garden at
Oxford in the reminiscent month of September; and so do they fix the
mood of the place that one marvels at the restfulness, the brooding
stillness, the flavor of time and association which Mr. Upson has
managed to infuse into his musing, sabbatical lines. One regrets that
the term “atmosphere” has become so cheapened, for in the exigent
moment when no other will serve as well, he has the depressing
consciousness that virtue has gone from the word he must employ.
Despite this fact, it is atmosphere, in its most pervasive sense, that
imbues Mr. Upson’s Octaves, as the first will attest:

The day was like a Sabbath in a swoon.
Under late summer’s blue were fair cloud-things
Poising aslant upon their charméd wings,
Arrested by some backward thought of June.
Softly I trod and with repentant shoon,
Half fearfully in sweet imaginings,
Where lay, as might some golden court of kings,
The old Quadrangle paved with afternoon.

What else than a touch of genius is in those three words, “paved with
afternoon,” as fixing the tempered light, the drowsy calm, of the
place?

The Octaves are written in groups, the poems of each having a slight
dependence upon one another, so that to be quoted they require the
connecting thought. In many cases also the first or the second
quatrain of the Octave is more artistic than its companion lines, as
in the one which follows, where the first four lines hold the creative
beauty:

As here among the well-remembering boughs,
Where every leaf is tongue to ancient breath,
Speech of the yesteryears forgathereth,
And all the winds are long-fulfilléd vows—
So from of old those ringing names arouse
A whispering in the foliate shades of death,
Where History her golden rosary saith,
Glowing, the light of Memory on her brows.

This Octave illustrates also what may be made as a general statement
regarding its companions in the volume, that while the glamour may not
rest equally upon the poems, they do not lack charm and distinction
even in their less creative touches; and there are few in which there
does not lurk some surprise in the way of picturesque phrasing.

In the ordering of his cadences Mr. Upson shows a musician’s sense of
rhythm; note, for example, how the transposition in the following
lines enhances their melody and conveys in the initial one the sense
of a river flowing:

It was the lip of murmuring Thames along
When new lights sought the wood all strangely fair,
Such quiet lights as saints transfigured wear
In minster windows crept the glades among.
And far as from some hazy hill, yet strong,
Methought an upland shepherd piped it there,
Waking a silvern echo from her lair:
“Sweet Thames, run softly till I end my song!”

Mr. Upson not only obeys by artist instinct the laws of counterpoint,
but employs the word with the music in it, and his effects are
achieved by the innate harmony of his diction and the poetry in the
theme he is shaping. Take as an illustration of this his Octave upon
the “Roman Glassware Preserved in the Ashmolean.” Doubtless those
fragments of crystal, sheathed, by centuries in the earth, in a
translucent film through which shine tints of mother-of-pearl, have
met the eyes of many of us, but it needed a poet to deduce from them
this illustration:

Fair crystal cups are dug from earth’s old crust,
Shattered but lovely, for, at price of all
Their shameful exile from the banquet-hall,
They have been bargaining beauties from the dust.
So, dig my life but deep enough, you must
Find broken friendships round its inner wall—
Which once my careless hand let slip and fall—
Brave with faint memories, rich in rainbow-rust!

One notes in Mr. Upson’s work a restraint that is the apogee of good
taste. He conveys the mood, whether of love or other emotion, and
makes his feeling another’s, but the veil of the temple is never
wholly rent; one may but divine the ministries and sacrifices of its
altar. He is an idealist, not yet come to the place of disillusion;
though wandering at times near to the border of that chilly realm, he
wraps his seamless robe of dreams more closely about him and turns
back. Mr. Upson is not, however, an unthinking singer to whom all is
cheer because he has not the insight to enter into those phases of
life that have not yet touched him; on the contrary, his note is not a
blithe one, it is meditative, inclining to the philosophical, and
tinctured with a certain pensiveness.

Now and again the cosmos thrusts forward a suggestion which becomes
the motive of one of the Octaves, as when the garden breeze loosens
from the chink a

… measure of earth
To match my body’s dust when its rebirth
To sod restores old functions I forsook,—

which, in turn, induces a reflection upon the microcosm:

Strange that a sod for just a thrill or two
Should ever be seduced into the round
Of change in which its present state is found
In this my form! forsake its quiet, true
And fruitfullest retirement, to go through
The heat, the strain, the languor and the wound!
Forget soft rain to hear the stormier sound,—
Exchange for burning tears its peaceful dew!

Again one has the applied illustration both of the pains and requitals
that cling about the sod in its “strange estate of flesh,” in these
lines declaring that

Some dust of Eden eddies round us yet.
Some clay o’ the Garden, clinging in the breast,
Down near the heart yet bides unmanifest.
Last eve in gardens strange to me I let
The path lead far; and lo, my vision met
Old forfeit hopes. I, as on homeward quest,
By recognizing trees was bidden rest,
And pitying leaves looked down and sighed, “Forget!”

Mr. Upson has one of his characteristic touches in the words “old
forfeit hopes,” pictured as starting suddenly before one in the new
path that has beguiled him. In looking over the Octaves, which embrace
a variety of themes, one doubts if his selections have adequately
represented the finely textured lines, pure and individual diction,
and the ripe and mellow flavor of it all.

Mr. Upson’s work has had its meed of recognition abroad: his first
volume, _Westwind Songs_, contained a warmly appreciative introduction
by “Carmen Sylva,” the poet-queen of Roumania, and his drama, _The
City_, just issued in Edinburgh, is introduced by Count Lützow of the
University of Prague, a well-known scholar and authority upon Bohemian
literature. Taking a backward glance at the first volume before
looking at _The City_, one finds few of the ear-marks of a first
collection of poetry, which it must become the subsequent effort of
the writer to live down.

The lines “When We Said Good-Bye” are among the truest in feeling,
though almost too intimate to quote; and this sympathetic lyric,
entitled “Old Gardens,” has a delicate grace:

The white rose tree that spent its musk
For lovers’ sweeter praise,
The stately walks we sought at dusk,
Have missed thee many days.

Again, with once-familiar feet,
I tread the old parterre—
But, ah, its bloom is now less sweet
Than when thy face was there.

I hear the birds of evening call;
I take the wild perfume;
I pluck a rose—to let it fall
And perish in the gloom.

_Westwind Songs_, however, waft other thoughts than those of love.
There is a heavier freight in this “Thought of Stevenson”:

High and alone I stood on Calton Hill
Above the scene that was so dear to him
Whose exile dreams of it made exile dim.
October wooed the folded valleys till
In mist they blurred, even as our eyes upfill
Under a too sweet memory; spires did swim,
And gables rust-red, on the gray sea’s brim—
But on these heights the air was soft and still.
Yet not all still: an alien breeze did turn
Here as from bournes in aromatic seas,
As round old shrines a new-freed soul might yearn
With incense to his earthly memories.
And then this thought: Mist, exile, searching pain,
But the brave soul is free, is home again!

How fine is the imaginative thought of October wooing the valleys till
they blurred with mist, as one’s “eyes upfill under a too sweet
memory,” and still finer the touch of the “alien breeze” turning

Here as from bournes in aromatic seas.

So one might imagine the journeying winds blowing hither from Vaea,
and the intensely human soul of Stevenson yearning to the vital
sympathies of earth.

Mr. Upson has recently published in Edinburgh and America a poem-drama
entitled _The City_, and containing, as previously mentioned, a
scholarly introduction by Count Lützow of the Bohemian University of
Prague, who points out the historical and traditional sources of the
story.

The drama is embraced in one act, and covers a period of but one day,
from dawn to dusk; nevertheless, it is not wanting in incident, since
its operative causes reach their culmination in this period. The
“conditions precedent” of the plot, briefly summarized, show that
Abgar, King of Edessa, has married Cleonis, an Athenian, whose
foster-sister, Stilbe, having been an earlier favorite of the king, is
actuated by jealousy of the pair, and although dwelling as an inmate
of the royal household, plots with her lover, Belarion, against the
government of the king, ill at his palace outside the city and
awaiting the arrival of Jesus to heal him of his disease.

The subjects of Abgar have rebelled not only at his protracted absence
from the city, in dalliance, as they deem it, with the Athenian queen,
but because of measures of reform instituted by him which had done
despite to their ancient idolatries and desecrated certain shrines in
the public improvements of the city.

Not only had the king progressed beyond his day in the material
advancement of his realm, but his eager, swiftly conceiving mind had
imaged a spiritual ideal even more vital; and at the opening of the
drama he awaits the coming of the Nazarene to heal him, that he may
devote himself to the development of his people.

The scene opens at the dawn in the portico of the palace, where the
queen’s women, attired in white pepli, have spent the night singing
soft music to the accompaniment of the lyre to charm the fevered sleep
of the king. They are dismissed by Agamede, cousin of the queen, who
detains Stilbe to learn the cause of her discontent. Sufficient is
revealed to indicate that Belarion, the betrothed of Stilbe, whom the
oracle has declared a man of promise, is plotting against the life of
the king, aided in this design by Stilbe, who has been summoned almost
from the marriage altar to attend the queen.

The second scene takes place four hours later, in the palace garden,
and pictures the return of the messenger and his attendants sent to
conduct Jesus to Edessa. The opening dialogue occurs between Ananias,
the returned messenger, and the old and learned doctor of the court,
who details with elaborate minuteness the ministries of his skill
since the departure of the former to Jerusalem. While this dialogue is
characteristic, well phrased, and indirectly humorous, it is a
dramatic mistake to introduce it at such length, retarding the action,
which should be focused sharply upon the essential motive of the
scene,—the conveying to the queen the message of the Nazarene and the
incidents of his refusal. The literary quality of the dialogue between
the queen and Ananias has much beauty, being memorable for the picture
it conveys of Jesus among his disciples at Bethany, “a hamlet up an
olive-sprinkled hill,” where, guided by Philip, the Galilean, the
messenger found him. The description of the personality and manner of
Christ is a subtle piece of portraiture. To the question of Cleonis,—

Tell me of his appearance. What said he?

Ananias replies:

He had prepared this scroll and gave it me
With courteous words, yet, as I after thought,
Most singularly free from deference
For one who ranks with artisans. His look
Betrayed no satisfaction with our suit;
Yet did he emanate a grave respect
Which seemed habitual, much as Stoics use,
Yet kinder; and his bearing had more grace
Than any Jew’s I ever saw before.
As for his words, I own I scarce recall them,
And have been wondering ever since that I,
Bred at a Court and tutored to brave deeds,
Should be so sudden silenced. For I stood
Obedient to unknown authorities
Which spake in eye and tone and every move,
In that his first mild answer of refusal.

Ere the departure of the king’s embassy from Jerusalem, the tragic
drama of the crucifixion had been enacted and in part witnessed by
them, which Ananias also describes with graphic force; in it appears
an adaptation of the Veronica story. The lines well convey the picture:

As the way widened past the high-walled house
Of Berenis, the throng thinned, and I saw
Plainer the moving figure of the man
And the huge beam laid on him. Suddenly
From the great gate I saw a form dart forth
Straight towards him, pause, and seem to have some speech
With the condemned, as, by old privilege,
Sometimes the pious ladies do with those
Who tread the shameful road. Her speech was brief.
She turned, and, as I saw ’twas Berenis,
Towards me she came, and her eyes, wet with tears,
Smiled sadly, and she said these final words:

“Such shame a mighty purpose led him to,
Yet he shrinks not, but steadfast to this end
Inevitable hath he come his way.
A woman of my house was healed of him
By kissing once the border of his garment.
Take your King this, and say that as he dragged
His cruel but chosen cross to his own doom
Some comfort in its cooling web he found,
And left a blessing in its pungent folds.”

In the third scene of the drama, occurring in the afternoon, Abgar is
informed of the Healer’s refusal to accede to his request, but in the
presence of the queen and the attendants assembled in the royal
garden, the letter of the Nazarene, promising healing and peace, is
read to him by the returned envoy, and at length the linen, received
from the hand of Berenis, and upon whose folds the healing power of
Christ had been invoked, is given into the keeping of Abgar, through
whose veins, as by the visible touch of the divine hand, the current
of new life throbs and courses. The moment is fraught with intense
reality, which Mr. Upson has kept as much as possible to such effects
as transcend words. Just previous to the vital transformation Abgar
has said:

I have not yet resolved the Healer’s words
Into clear meaning; but their crystal soon
In the still cup of contemplation may
Give up its precious drug to heal our cares,—

but the supreme end was not wrought by contemplation, nor could its
processes be resolved by analysis, or other words be found to proclaim
it than the simple but thrilling exclamation:

I feel it now! All through these withered veins
I feel it bound and glow! O life, life, life!

From this period the incidents of the drama develop with all the
tensity of action which previous to this scene it has lacked, giving
to the close a certain sense of crowding when compared with the slow
movement of the previous scenes consisting chiefly of recital, well
told, but with little to enact, making the work to this point rather a
graphically related story than a drama. The incidents which come on
apace in the latter part of the play have, to be sure, been
foreshadowed in the earlier part, but one is scarcely prepared for the
swift succession of events, nor for their bloody character after the
sabbatical mood into which the earlier scenes of the work have thrown
him. If the drama covered a longer period, giving time between scenes
for the development of events, even though such development were but
suggested by a statement of dates, the impression of undue haste in
the climax would be obviated; but in the interval of one day, even
though all events leading to the issue have been working silently for
months or years, their culmination seems to come without due
preparation to the reader’s mind, and one is swept off his feet by
consummations with whose causes he had scarcely reckoned.

Immediately following the healing of Abgar, the queen’s cousin,
Agamede, enters breathless and announces to the king the plot on foot
to overthrow him, which inspires the king with a resolve to set forth
at once to the city. Upon the attempt of the queen to deter him, Abgar
relates a prophetic dream of his city and its destiny through him,
which is one of the finest conceptions, both in spiritual import and
elevation of phrase, contained in the drama. The dream is related as
having appeared to the king in three distinct visions, glimpsing his
city in its past, present, and future. It is too long to follow in
detail, but this glimpse is from the vision of the past, where

Through that wreck of fortress, mart and fane
And fallen mausoleum crowded o’er
With characters forevermore unread,
Only the wind’s soft hands went up and down
Scattering the obliterative sands.
I, led in trance by shapes invisible,
Approached a temple’s splendid architrave
Half sunk in sod betwixt its columns’ bases,
And there by sudden divination read
The deep-cut legend of that awful gate:

APPEASE WITH SACRIFICE THE UNKNOWN POWERS.

The next vision is of the city in its present state, “builded on like
dust,” but teeming with activity and material purpose, through which a
glimmering ideal begins to dawn:

They toiled, or played, or fought, or sued the gods,
Absorbed each in his own peculiar lust,
As if there were no morrow watching them;
Yet each was happier in the morrow-dream
Than ever in all achievéd yesterdays.

Then is revealed to the mind of Abgar the high commission intrusted to
him:

And as I looked, I saw a man who long
In upward meditation on his roof
Sat all alone, communing with his soul,
And he arose, and presently went down,
Down in the long black streets among his kind,
And there with patience taught them steadfastly;
But, for the restless souls he made in them,
They turned and slew him and went on their ways,
And a great fog crept up and covered all.

Here surely is keen spiritual psychology, that “for the restless souls
he made in them” they slew him. All martyrdoms are traced to their
source in this line, which holds also the suggestive truth as to the
final acceptance of that for which the prophet dies. Once having
planted the seed whose stirring makes the “restless soul,” its growth
is committed to the Law, and can no more be prevented than the shining
of the sun or the flowing of the tides. Abgar was granted a third
vision, of the city in its embodied ideal; its ultimate beauty and
achievement were given definite shape before him, and the recital ends
with the triumphal note:

Fear not for me: I go unto the city!

The last scene is enacted an hour later in the garden lighted only by
the moon, and opens with the lyric sung by Agamede to the blossoming
oleander-tree ’neath which her child lies buried. These are lines of a
pathos as delicate and spiritual as the moonlight, the fragrance, the
memory inspiring them:

Grow, grow, thou little tree,
His body at the roots of thee;
Since last year’s loveliness in death
The living beauty nourisheth.

Bloom, bloom, thou little tree,
Thy roots around the heart of me;
Thou canst not blow too white and fair
From all the sweetness hidden there.

Die, die, thou little tree,
And be as all sweet things must be;
Deep where thy petals drift I, too,
Would rest the changing seasons through.

Then follows a dialogue of warmly emotional feeling between the king
and queen, in the interval of waiting for the chariot and attendants
to be brought to the gate. All the physical side of the healing of
Abgar has now been resolved into its spiritual meaning, and he
reinterprets the words of the Nazarene’s message that of his infirmity
he shall know full cure and those most dear to him have peace; but
while Abgar speaks of his changed ideal, looking now to a “city which
hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God,” a clamor is heard
at the gate, and the body-slave rushes to the king with the tidings
that armed troops approach the palace, and begs him to flee in the
waiting chariot. Spurning thought of escape, the king and queen mount
the dais and stand calmly watching in the moonlight the heroic
spectacle of the approaching army. At this moment the queen’s women
rush into the garden, demanding flight; the conflict begins along the
wall; the gate bursts open, and Ananias retreats to the garden,
wounded, and shortly dies. A brief interval of quiet, but full of
portent, succeeds, when Stilbe, who had plotted with the king’s
enemies, rushes through the gate, pursued by the soldiers and bleeding
from wounds of their sabres. She is shot, apparently by the hand of
her former lover, Belarion, and falls dead at the king’s feet. Here
Mr. Upson leaves an unravelled thread of his plot, or at least one for
whose clew I have sought vainly. No cause has been shown for violence
toward her on the part of the soldiers whom she aids, nor on that of
her supposed lover and betrothed, Belarion. Why, then, she should
become his victim, or why he should look upon her dead body and
exclaim:

“Thus Fate helps out!”

is at least a riddle past my solving. If, as the results indicate,
Belarion has been using Stilbe as a tool to aid his ambitions, it
should scarcely have been related in good faith in the beginning of
the drama that their marriage was to be celebrated the week in which
the action of the play falls. If logical reasons exist for this change
of front, Mr. Upson should have indicated them more clearly.

The climax of the play follows immediately upon the death of Stilbe,
when the king, called to account by the insolent Belarion, in
righteous indignation strikes him down. It may be questioned whether
such a deed could follow so quickly upon the rapt spiritual state to
which the king had been lifted; but one inclines to rejoice that the
natural man, impelled by who shall say what higher force, triumphed,
ere the queen, pointing to the dead body of the trusted messenger,
Ananias, and repeating the Nazarene’s words, “Those most dear to you
have peace,”—demanded of the king his blade.

As they stand defenceless but assured, the soldiers, awed by the might
of some inner force in the king, shrink back, and the drama closes
with the victorious words,—

Together, Love, we go unto the city!

Though the play, looked upon from a dramatic standpoint, lacks in the
earlier scenes a certain magnetism of touch and vividness of action,
and in the last scene is somewhat overcharged with them, it has many
finely conceived situations which strike the golden mean, and the
characterization throughout is strongly defined. Its literary quality
must, however, take precedence of its dramatic in the truer appraisal.
In diction it shows none of the strained effort toward the supposed
speech of an earlier time, which usually distinguishes poetic dramas
laid far in the past, but has throughout a fitting dignity and
harmony, combined with ease and flexibility of phrase and frequent
eloquence of dialogue, especially in the passages spoken by Abgar.

It is a play rather of character and high motive than of plot, a piece
of sheer idealism, notable alike for its spiritual and its poetic
quality.

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GERTRUDE HALL

MISS GERTRUDE HALL is a poet of the intimate mood, the personal touch,
one who writes for herself primarily, and not for others. One fancies
that verses such as these were penned in musing, introspective moments
in the form in which they flitted through the mind, and were
indesecrate of further touch. They are as words warm upon the lips,
putting one in magnetic _rapport_ with a speaker; and their defects,
as well as distinctions, are such as spring from this spontaneity.
Frequently a change of word or line, readily suggested to the reader,
would have made technically perfect what now bears a flaw; but these
lapses are neither so marked nor so frequent as to detract from the
prevailing grace of the verse, and but serve to illustrate the point
in question,—their unpremeditated note and freedom from posing.

One is not so much arrested by the inevitable image and word in these
lyrics of the _Age of Fairygold_, as by the feeling, the mood, that
pervades them. It is not a buoyant mood, nor yet a sombre one, but
rather the expression of a varied impulse, a melody of many stops,
such as one might play for himself at evening, wandering from theme to
theme. The poems convey the impression of coming in touch with a
personality rather than a book, the veil between the author and reader
being impalpable; and this, their most obvious distinction, is a
quality in which many poets of the present day are lacking, either
from a mistaken delicacy in regarding their own inner life as an
isolated mood not of import to others, or in robbing it of personality
and warmth by technical elaboration.

One may confide to the world by means of art what he would not reveal
to his closest friend, and yet keep inviolate his spiritual selfhood;
but to withhold this disclosure, to become but a poet of externals, is
to abrogate one’s claim to speak at all; for a life, however meagre,
has something unique and essential to convey, and while one delights
in the artist observation, the vivid pictorial touch, it must not be
divorced from the subjective. The poems of Miss Hall are happily
blended of the objective and subjective; here, for illustration, is a
lighter note bringing one in thrall to that seductive, tantalizing
charm, that irresistible allurement, of the Vita Nuova of the year:

I try to fix my eyes upon my book,
But just outside a budding spray
Flaunts its new leaves as if to say,
“Look!—look!”

I trim my pen, I make it fine and neat;
There comes a flutter of brown wings.
A little bird alights and sings,
“Sweet!—sweet!”

O little bird, O go away! be dumb!
For I must ponder certain lines;
And straight a nodding flower makes signs,
“Come!—come!”

O Spring, let me alone! O bird, bloom, beam,
“I have no time to dream!” I cry;
The echo breathes a soft, long sigh,
“Dream!—dream!”

The beautiful lyric,

“Ah, worshipped one, ah, faithful Spring!”

tempers this blitheness to a pensive strain, though only as one may
introduce a note of minor in a staccato melody. In another bit of
verse celebrating the renewing year, and noting how joy lays his
finger on one’s lips and makes him mute, occur these delicate lines:

Thrice happy, oh, thrice happy still the Earth
That can express herself in roses, yea,
Can make the lily tell her inmost thought!

One nature lyric of two stanzas, despite the fact that its cadence
halts in the final couplet, is compact of atmosphere; and to one who
has been companioned by the pines, it brings an aromatic breath, full
of stimulus:

The sun in the pine is sleeping, sleeping.
The drops of resin gleam….
There’s a mighty wizard with perfumes keeping
My brain benumbed in a dream!

The wind in the pine is rushing, rushing,
Fine and unfettered and wild….
There’s a mighty mother imperiously hushing
Her fretful, uneasy child!

These lines give over pictures of mornings in the radiant sunlight of
the North, that cloudless, lifted air; and “The drops of resin gleam,”
has the same touch of transmutation that some suggestion of the brine
has for the exiled native of the seaboard.

Miss Hall’s themes are not sought far afield, but bring, in nearly all
the poems, a hint of personal experience; nature, love, spiritual
emotion, blending with lighter moods and fancies, comprise the record
of the _Age of Fairygold_. We have glanced at the nature verse; that
upon love is subtler in touch, but holds to the intimate note
distinguishing all of her work. The second of these stanzas contains a
graphic image:

Be good to me! If all the world united
Should bend its powers to gird my youth with pain,
Still might I fly to thee, Dear, and be righted—
But if thou wrong’st me, where shall I complain?

I am the dove a random shot surprises,
That from her flight she droppeth quivering,
And in the deadly arrow recognizes
A blood-wet feather—once in her own wing!

In her poem called “The Rival” human nature speaks a direct word,
particularly in the contradiction of the last stanza. The lines have
the quality of speech rather than of print:

This is the hardest of my fate:
She’s better whom he doth prefer
Than I am that he worshipped late,
As well as so much prettier,
So much more fortunate!

He’ll not repent; oh, you will see,
She’ll never give him cause to grieve!
I dream that he comes back to me,
Leaving her,—but he’ll never leave!
Hopelessly sweet is she.

So that if in my place she stood,
She’d spare to curse him, she’d forgive!
I loathe her, but I know she would—
And so will I, God, as I live,
Not she alone is good!

The ethical inconsistency of the above stanza, “I loathe her,” and
“Not she alone is good,” is so human and racy with suggestion of these
paradoxical moods of ours, that the stanza, together with its
companion lines, becomes a leaf torn from the book of life.

In its spiritual quality Miss Hall’s work shows, perhaps, its finest
distinction: brave, strong, acquiescent, inducing in one a nobler
mood,—such is the spirit of the volume. Its philosophy is free from
didacticism or moralizing; indeed, it should scarcely be called
philosophy, but rather the personal record of experiences touching the
inner life,—phases of feeling interpreted in their spiritual import.
These lines express the mood:

Then lead me, Friend. Here is my hand,
Not in dumb resignation lent
Because Thee one cannot withstand—
In love, Lord, with complete consent.

* * * * *

Lead. If we come to the cliff’s crest,
And I hear deep below—O deep!—
The torrent’s roar, and “Leap!” Thou say’st,
I will not question—I will leap.

The last stanza, in its vivid illustrative quality, is an admirable
expression of spiritual assurance.

Another brief lyric rings with the true note of valor, declaring the
eternal potency of hope, and one’s obligation to pass on his unspent
faith, though falling by the way:

Could I not be the pilgrim
To reach my saint’s abode,
I would make myself the road
To lead some other pilgrim
Where my soul’s treasure glowed.

Could not I in the eager van
Be the stalwart pioneer
Who points where the way is clear,
I would be the man who sinks in the swamp,
And cries to the rest, “Not here!”

From an Eastern Apologue Miss Hall has drawn a charming illustration
of the power of influence and association:

“Thou smell’st not ill, thou object plain,
Thou art a small, pretentious grain
Of amber, I suppose.”
“Nay, my good friend, I am by birth
A common clod of scentless earth….
But I lived with the Rose.”

In the poems of a blither note, Miss Hall excels, having a swift and
sprightly fancy and a clever aptness of phrase, which, in
_Allegretto_, her collection of lighter verse, reveals itself in
charming witticisms and whimsicalities. Her children’s poems are
delicate in touch and fancy, and quaintly humorous. Her lines, “To A
Weed,” in the second collection, tuck away a moral in their sprightly
comment; indeed, a bit of philosophy as to being glad in the sun and
taking one’s due of life, despite limitations, which renders them more
than the merry apostrophe they seem:

You bold thing! thrusting ’neath the very nose
Of her fastidious majesty, the rose,
Even in the best ordainéd garden bed,
Unauthorized, your smiling little head!

The gardener, mind! will come in his big boots,
And drag you up by your rebellious roots,
And cast you forth to shrivel in the sun,
Your daring quelled, your little weed’s life done.

* * * * *

Meantime—ah, yes! the air is very blue,
And gold the light, and diamond the dew,—
You laugh and courtesy in your worthless way,
And you are gay, ah, so exceeding gay!

You argue, in your manner of a weed,
You did not make yourself grow from a seed;
You fancy you’ve a claim to standing-room,
You dream yourself a right to breathe and bloom.

* * * * *

You know, you weed, I quite agree with you,
I am a weed myself, and I laugh too,—
Both, just as long as we can shun his eye,
Let’s sniff at the old gardener trudging by!

In the art of compression, in consistent and restrained imagery, in
clearness and simplicity, and in freedom from affectation, Miss Hall’s
work is altogether commendable. In technique she makes no ambitious
flights, employing almost wholly the more direct and simple forms and
metres, but these suit the intimate mood and singing note of her
themes better than more intricate measures. Technically her chief
defect is in the disregard which she frequently shows for the demands
of metre. I say disregard, for it is evident from the grace of the
majority of her work that she allows herself to depart from metrical
canons at her own will, with the occasional result of jagged lines
which may have seemed more expressive to Miss Hall than those of a
smoother cadence, but which are likely to offend the ear of one
sensitive to rhythm. These lapses are not, however, so frequent or
conspicuous as to constitute a general indictment against the work.

The reflective predominates over the imaginative in the _Age of
Fairygold_, notwithstanding the suggestion of the title. Indeed, there
is a subtly pensive note running through the volume, which remains in
one’s mind as a characteristic impression when the lighter notes are
forgotten. They are not poems of vivid color, imagination, nor
passion, though touched with all. They are not incrusted with verbal
gems, though the diction is fitting and graceful. They have no
daringly inventive metres, though the form is always in harmony with
the thought,—in short, the poems of Miss Hall are such as please and
satisfy without startling. They are leaves from the book of the heart,
and admit us to many a kindred experience. These lines, in which we
must take leave of them, carry the wistful, tender, sympathetic note,
which distinguishes much of her work:

Though true it be these splendid dreams of mine
Are but as bubbles little children blow,
And that Fate laughs to see them wax and shine,
Then holds out her pale finger—and they go:
One bitter drop falls with a tear-like gleam,—
Still, dreaming is so sweet! Still, let me dream!

Though true, to love may be definéd thus:
To open wide your safe defenceless hall
To some great guest full-armed and dangerous,
With power to ravage, to deface it all,
A cast at dice, whether or no he will,—
Still, loving is so sweet! Let me love still!

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