IN LONDON

Jordan Kellock made no allusion whatever to Medora’s nocturnal
aberration as they ate together, but directed her as to his taste in
tea and was very anxious to know her own likes and dislikes in matters
of food.

“I’ll write final copies of my letters,” he said, “then we’ll go out
and get the ring.”

Could it be possible, she wondered, that a ring made any difference to
his mind? It seemed too childish; yet even the cleverest men retained a
streak of the boy. It was from the eternal boy, as exemplified in Ned,
that she had escaped. Was Kellock going to be boyish also? He had never
shown any sign of it.

She need not have feared.

He did not ask Medora to read the letters to Mr. Trenchard and Ned
Dingle; but he had finished them and posted them by ten o’clock and
then they set out.

He knew London and took Medora to the British Museum first. She had
waited for him to speak about the previous night, while he, apparently,
expected her to do so. She had changed her views as to his punishment
and believed that she had quite forgiven him. But this was not the case
and before the end of the day he found it out.

At the Museum he surprised her by the extent of his knowledge. She had
heard enough by the time they went to lunch and better liked the Park,
where they sat for a while in the afternoon. Medora saw wealth and
beauty and power pass by while Kellock commented.

“That’s the sort of thing we’re out to alter,” he said. But she was not
feeling in a socialistic mood.

“Why?” she asked. “Why shouldn’t there be beautiful horses and
beautiful clothes in the world?”

“It isn’t the horses and clothes. It’s where they come from, Medora.
The horses are bred for money, and the clothes are spun and made for
money. But who makes the money? Do the people that ride the horses and
wear the clothes make it? No—you and I make it. The workers make it.
You and I have just as much right to ride in a carriage as the Queen of
England.

“The wealth of the world is exploited,” he explained, “and the result
is poverty and superfluity. The world could get on perfectly well
without those horses and those clothes—yes, and those people; but it
couldn’t get on without us. We’re carrying on the work of civilisation,
not those dolls and puppets toying together. Poverty and wealth are
the result of the same vicious factor in our social system. They are
interdependent and spring from the same rotten roots. Banish poverty
and you do away with hunger and ignorance and misery and immorality
and other ills, all of which spring from it. And there’s only one
way to banish poverty, and that’s to banish wealth. Then you get a
self-respecting order of humanity instead of the present arrangement.
If the nation’s rich, the people are rich. It all comes back to brain
power, and the moment labour is strong enough in brain power, the rest
follows. The Trade Unions are only a first little instalment. In fact
they’re almost past their work now. We’ve gone beyond them. Syndicalism
says good-bye to the poor and good-bye to the rich. Then we shall get
face to face with reality.”

“And what becomes of all these handsome, dashing, prosperous people
then?” she asked.

“Nothing worse than what becomes of us. They will be left with a great
deal more than they deserve, because they’ve never lifted their fingers
to help the real good of the world. The revolution in this country,
when it comes, will be bloodless—merely a readjustment in conformity
with reason and justice. We’re out against the system, not against the
individual which battens on it. When we make war on rats and sparrows
and wood pigeons, we’re not quarrelling with the individual rat or
sparrow, but against the class. They’ve got to go, because they’re
unsocial and harm the community and take for themselves what was grown
and garnered for their betters. And that’s what the classes are doing.
They take for themselves what was earned by their betters.”

“Why are we their betters?”

“Because we justify our existence and they do not. Our lives are a
round of work; their lives are a round of luxury and pleasure. We earn
the money and they spend it. We save and they waste. Do they spend it
on the community? No. They spend it on themselves.”

“They’re taxed and all that.”

“So are we. And taxing is a wrong system anyway. All sources of wealth
ought to pour straight into the State and return to everybody in the
shape of dignified conditions of life. Money is the source of all
evil to people and it ought not to be handled by people, but by the
State. If you once knock the idea of money out of the human mind and
teach it to think in different values and occupy itself, not with mean
necessities and still meaner luxuries and possessions, but the things
of the soul—then you get on a higher plane at once.”

But she was more interested in things as they were. A man or two
obviously admired her, and the fact that she sat beside Kellock did not
seem to prevent their open admiration. This cheered her and put her
into good spirits.

“How cheeky the gentlemen are,” she said. “They don’t seem to have any
manners at all. They look at you that bold, as if they’d known you all
their lives.”

“Because they’re rich and know that money is power. These silk-hatted
brutes have got nothing better to do than to make eyes at every pretty
woman they pass. Many of them have never done a stroke of honest work
in their lives, and never intend to. They are lower than the tom cats
and yet—that’s the amazing thing—satisfied with themselves—pleased
with themselves—and treated as decent members of society by the
trash like them. I’d have them breaking stones if I could, instead of
insulting women with their goggling eyes.”

“I dare say some of them are dukes and earls, if we only knew it,” said
Medora.

“Very likely indeed,” he admitted; “they’re pretty much what you’d
expect dukes and earls to be.”

But even Medora felt this was crude.

“There’s plenty of good men among the Upper Ten,” she assured him. “You
think if a chap isn’t born in the gutter, he can’t be any good.”

This was the first of a succession of little snubs; though Jordan
hardly felt them at the time. But looking back afterwards, he realised
that Medora had her opinions and that, apparently, they did not always
echo his own.

He invited her to end the day where she pleased, and she chose a music
hall.

Here he was obviously and painfully ill at ease; and he was also
surprised to see the extent of Medora’s enjoyment. He felt absolute
astonishment to hear her laugh so heartily at comic songs on the old
familiar lines, and still more amazed that sentimental ditties of the
most puling description should have power to move her. She, for her
part, could not fail to see that the entertainment cast him down. Not
an item of the programme appealed to him and the smoke made him cough.

As they came out, he hoped she had enjoyed it.

“How could I with you so glum?” she asked.

“I wasn’t glum. That sort of thing rather misses me—that’s all. I’ve
not got the bent of mind for it.”

“You’re so clever, you never see anything to make you wonder, and so
wise, you never see anything to make you laugh,” she said.

His eyes grew rather round, but Medora was smiling and had not meant
the speech to be acerb.

“I see plenty to make me wonder in London. Who doesn’t? And I like
a good joke; but these stage people didn’t seem funny to me. And
honestly, the longer I live, the less I see to laugh at in the world,
for a thinking man with high resolves to better things. People laugh
for two reasons, I believe: to throw their neighbours off the scent of
the truth; or else because they are rattle-pated, light-minded fools,
with no more in them than an empty pot. The ‘empties’ make the most
noise, don’t they? All the same, I like to hear you laugh, because you
laugh honest and it means you’re happy. And God knows if there’s one
thing I want to make happy before everybody on earth, it’s you, Medora.”

She relented before this speech and took his arm. He was gallant
and very jealous for her. He was also very tender and gentle. She
acknowledged his consideration as they sat at supper; but he spoiled
all by explaining the very special reason for his care and attention.

“The position is a most delicate one,” he said, “and naturally I must
do nothing to make it more so. You’re at the mercy of the world now, in
a manner of speaking, Medora—a defenceless creature—not maid, wife
or widow, as they say. And so it’s up to me to be extra awake and very
quick to champion you in every way I can think.”

Medora felt that if this were indeed the case, Jordan and not she might
be said to stand in the limelight. She, in fact, must remain as much in
the shade as possible. But he proceeded and explained his future course
of action. It surprised her exceedingly.

“Talking of that and all I owe you for coming to me, you may be sure
I shall pay the debt in a proper manner, Medora. I honour you far too
much to treat you with anything but the greatest respect and delicacy,
I hope; and I certainly would demean myself, or you, to live with
you as a husband till we’re married. But let the world think as it
pleases—which is mostly evil—we shall know what we really are, and
we’ll always be—a self-respecting, high-minded pair. It’s easy enough
to be better than the world thinks you, because it judges others by
itself and the mass of people have a very base standard. The law
itself is disgusting and bestial in this matter. It sticks to the old,
shameful conditions and demands adultery before divorce. So there must
be evidence of that—we’re ordered to sink to furnishing evidence
of it; but we’re made of much too fine stuff to sink to the heathen
reality. We’re a cut above the dirty law—you and me. We want to live
our future lives on a plane of mutual respect and admiration. We don’t
mean all the future to be spoiled by the memory of human weakness.”

He made no other allusion to the previous night and Medora’s wonderful
eyes bent upon him with apparent adoration, while her wonderful heart
grew a little hard. She remembered that she had been married and he
never had.

“You’re a saint,” she said.

“Oh, no—only a clean-minded, honourable man, Medora.”

She fell asleep gently hating him that night; but after many hours of
dreamless slumber, she awoke in better spirits and found herself loving
Kellock again. He was a hero and somewhat abnormal, as heroes must be;
but, after all, she was a heroine, and should therefore find no supreme
difficulty in rising to the heights on which he moved. She saw indeed
that this would be necessary if she wished to be happy.

She met him radiantly next morning and he found her mood easy and
humble. He knew a man at Doulton’s Pottery, and when he suggested going
to see the famous works, she agreed.

“We shall be among our own sort there,” he said. “It will be good for
us. I don’t think sitting in Hyde Park watching the rich was good for
us. I may have said a bit more than I meant about them. They’re not all
worthless wasters, of course, and it’s quite true what you said, that
there may be a bit of class prejudice in me.”

“No, there isn’t—not a scrap,” she answered. “And if there is, they
deserve it. Nobody looks all round things like you do. You’ll live to
see it all altered no doubt, and do your bit to help alter it.”

“If I had my way, them that don’t work shouldn’t eat,” he declared.
“Work’s the saving of mankind, and you can’t be healthy-minded if you
sit and look on at life, any more than you can be healthy-bodied if you
take no exercise. We all owe a lot to every one else, and them that
won’t pay that debt and want to take all and give nought, are wicked
enemies to the State.”

At Doulton’s Medora was genuinely interested, and best she liked the
painting rooms.

“That’s beautiful work,” she said. “If I’d been brought up to that,
I’d have joyed in it, because there’s something to show for it, and
you’d know the flowers and ribbons you painted was brightening up other
people’s homes. But my work—just shifting paper and putting the zinc
between the sheets for the glazing rollers—there’s nothing to it.”

“Don’t you say that. All necessary work is fine if it’s done well, same
as you did it. But there’ll be no more of that sort of work for you.
Your place will be at home; and I shouldn’t be content for you just to
do housewife’s work neither, Medora. You’re going to be my right hand
and look after my papers and help me with the big things I hope to
do—not in the Mill, but out of it.”

“I never shall be clever enough.”

“Yes, you will. You’ll come to it when you get a grasp of all the
questions we’re out to solve. You’ll begin at the beginning, where I
did, and master the theory of socialism—the theories I should say,
because it’s a science that’s in the making and clever men are still
working out the details. There’s a lot of difference of opinion,
and so far as I can see, our leaders—the ‘intellectuals,’ as they
are called—don’t see eye to eye by any means yet. They’re all for
universal democracy, of course, and the government of the people by the
people and the redistribution of wealth and the uplift of the worker
and so on; but they differ as to how it’s to be done and how the mass
is to be brought out of slavery to the promised land. In fact no two of
’em think the same, strange to say.”

“It’s a big subject,” said Medora blankly.

“It’s the only subject.”

“I lay you’ve thought it all out.”

“I’ve got my ideas, and in our evenings I shall put ’em before you and
read you a lot I’ve written about it. We’ll go over it together, and
you’ll bring your own wits to work on it when you’ve mastered all the
different opinions.”

“I wish I was half as clever as you think,” she said.

“You don’t know what you can do till you try. The first thing is to get
interested in it and let it soak into you. Once you feel like I do,
that it is the only thing that really matters for the race, then you’ll
properly live for it.”

“I expect I shall,” replied Medora, with a fainting soul.

“There’s noble women giving up their lives to it, and I hope you’ll be
one of them some day.”

She began to experience the discomfort of the mountain climber, who
ascends into more rarefied air than he is accustomed to breathe. It was
not until she had enjoyed a good lunch and a bottle of lemonade that
Medora felt lighter-hearted.

They went to no more music halls, but Jordan took her to a play of
Shakespeare and a concert. They also visited the Mint, the Tower of
London and the Zoological Gardens. At the last she was interested
and happy. He improved every occasion. On one afternoon they went
to a meeting of the Labour Party and heard great lights discuss the
Internationale. Kellock flamed with enthusiasm afterwards and talked
ceaselessly till bed time. She had never seen him so excited. She
retired with a headache, bewildered and bored to tears.

Of personal matters the only interest centred in a communication from
Mr. Trenchard. As for Dingle, he did not answer Jordan’s letter. Nor
did he come to see Jordan, as Medora half hoped he might. She trusted
that some emotional scenes were to occur in the future; but if drama
lay in store for her, it would doubtless be at Dene, not in London.

She wrote to her mother justifying her conduct; but Lydia did not reply.

“I’ve lost mother,” said Medora, after three days’ silence. “She’s
not going to answer that nice letter I showed you. In fact I’ve lost
everybody but you. And I’d lose them all a hundred times over for you,
Jordan.”

“We must be patient,” he said. “We know we’re right, and those
that know they’re right can afford to be patient. The rest will be
brought to see it in process of time. They must be educated to the
truth. Everything depends on education, Medora. It works through
everything—in private affairs and public affairs alike. Ignorance
makes all the trouble in the world; and once the spread of education
brings the light, then we get a move on and see our way clear. It is
for you and me to show the people that we are sure of ourselves and set
them the example of how to behave.”

“We’ll live it down,” said Medora.

“No; we’ve got nothing to live down,” he declared.

“It’s for them to live down their ignorance of the case. And it is for
us to help them to do it and show them, day by day, that we were right
and they were wrong. But you can’t do big things without suffering big
things. I warn you there will be a lot at first who will side against
us—the sort that judge by the outside, as most do.”

“I dare say we’ll be sent to Coventry.”

“They may cabal against us like that. But the harder the opposition,
the greater the triumph when we show them what we are. We must look to
each other for our comfort and support and to our own hearts and good
conscience. I’m not afraid for myself. A man can weather anything if
he knows he is right. But for a tender creature like you, all full of
nerves and that, it will be harder. But you may trust me to be pretty
wide awake on your behalf, Medora. I’ll be sleepless to shield you and
come between you and every hard word. I’ll fight for you, I promise
you.”

“I know that,” she said. “The pinch will be before we’re married.
Afterwards they’ll soon calm down.”

Her affection and trust were unbounded. She believed that he would
fight for her, and she looked forward not a little to seeing him do so.

Through the atmosphere of the Metropolis, the people at Dene shrank
a little. She was prepared to return with a mind enlarged and a
perspective widened. No doubt she and Jordan would come to London
themselves some day, when he took his place among the leaders. But in
the meantime she would not for anything have missed the return to her
native village. Her new clothes alone must have sufficed to dictate
this step. He, too, at her wish, had bought some new clothes, and
though he hesitated at her choice, which led to rather more radiant
colours than Kellock was wont to wear, yet he told himself, very truly,
that in such a matter no principle was involved. He also felt that it
became him to fall in with his future wife’s wishes when and where it
was possible and reasonable to do so.

They visited the Arts and Crafts Exhibition, where the new Dene
water-mark pictures created daily admiration, completed their holiday
and so returned; and their homecoming was anticipated in various ways,
showing, though ignorance is the root of all evil, as Jordan never
wearied of declaring, that even ignorant hearts may soar to heights of
distinguished humanism.

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