Her father also had been sick and she had gone home, in country, over the weekend. Doctor had motored down from London to see her father. That night his chauffeur had been watching machinery which made electric light for this house in country. He watched too close, caught in fly-wheel he was killed.
She had never seen him but when she heard she cried. She cried all the weekend. Nothing had ever been near her before. No one had ever been badly hurt near her.
They said: ‘darling, but you never saw the poor man.’
She said: ‘I know,’ and cried.
They said: ‘darling, the doctor’s providing for his family.’
She said: ‘I know,’ and cried.
‘You never saw him, he can mean nothing to you,’ they said to her, and she said again and again, ‘to think of his dying!’
She cried all weekend, and she got quite weak. Doctor became quite worried over her. At last he told her mother was nothing physical the matter with her he was sure. What really was wanted he said was for something to do to be found for her, some work for her to do he said.
Her mother said work? What work could she do? It was true, she said, she had enjoyed enormously General Strike when she had carried plates from one hut to another all day, that was true enough, but what work could she do? Doctor said of course to be married would be the best thing for her but ‘in the interim’ he thought some kind of work was what she wanted, and he went away with hired chauffeur.
Another night. She had cleared table after supper. She went off out.
Jim Dale stayed a little, then he got up.
‘Where you goin’ Jim?’ Mr Gates said.
‘To the boozer,’ and he went off out.
‘Goin’ to the boozer, did you ‘ear that?’ said Gates to Mr Craigan, ‘that’s what she’s doing, she’s drivin’ a good lad to go and wet ‘is troubles. ‘E daint ever use to go before. And ‘e’s a good lad. Why can’t I give ‘er a clout?’
Mr Craigan was silent
‘It’s wicked I reckon,’ Mr Gates said. ‘Ah and she gave him a short week the other week, that day when Arthur was singing and he put on his coat and went out. An’ she don’t wash up of an evening even, but leaves it till morning. She’s got too much money, that’s what it is, and you can wager she pays for Bert Jones into the movies.’
Mr Craigan put wireless earphones over his head.
‘You and yer wireless,’ Gates softly said, ‘it’s enough to make anyone that lives with you light ‘eaded, listening like you might be a adder to the music. I’ll go and ‘ave one,’ he said. He got up, ‘I’ll go to the boozer and ‘ave one.’
Mr Gates went to public, to public where Tupe was.
Tupe drank with Gates and Gates with Tupe. ‘Yes,’ said Mr Tupe finishing story,’ ‘e said to her, them are one and nine.’
‘Them are one and nine, ‘e said to ‘er,’ Gates chimed, and this story was done. He drank of his beer in pot.
‘Ah,’ he said easing trousers, ‘that’s the ‘ang of ‘em. Females is like that right enough. Take our wench. What do she do with the money?’
‘ ‘Ow much d’you give ‘er Friday nights?’
Mr Gates drank again.
‘Mind, I’m not askin’ as some would,’ confidentially Mr Tupe said, ‘I’m not Paul bloody Pry.’
Because Mr Gates was a little drunk, he leaned, he whispered.
‘Strike!’ Tupe said, ‘You give ‘er all that much?’
‘Ah!’ said Mr Gates flattered, ‘we daint ever stint in our ‘ouse.’
‘Stint!’ said Mr Tupe, ‘I wonder ‘er wouldn’t choke you with grub on that money.’
‘I never did hold with stintin’ the grub, nor Craigan daint’
‘Nor I do. But on that money my old woman’d keep three kids as well and them’d ave more’n enough to eat. It’s wicked, Joe, ‘er’s twistin’ yer.’
‘Twistin’ is ‘er?’
‘All that money and ‘er says it goes in grub. You can bet it daint. I give our old woman three bob less’n that and there’s enough an’ more to eat in our ‘ouse, an’ ‘er gets ‘er own clothes and anything for the ‘ouse.’
Mr Gates banged fist then on table.
‘I’ll wager she pays for Bert Jones into the movie.’
‘Why in course she do. Look ‘ere Joe, what’s Craigan at in your ‘ouse.’
‘It ain’t my ‘ouse, it’s ‘is’n.’
‘What’s ‘e at, anyroad.’
In another public Mr Dale alone sat about, not drinking.
‘What d’you mean, what’s ‘e at?’
‘Do ‘im pay ‘er Friday nights,’ Mr Tupe said.
‘I think e’ do,’ said Mr Gates. They talked and Gates confided more in Tupe who got mysterious more and more. Each spoke in broader country accent they had come from to Birmingham, speaking louder.
Getting more drunk Gates forgot seriousness and said what good thing that Dale went to pub, which he did not do before, it would anger Mr Craigan. He was good lad, Gates said, he did not expeet you to do your own and three others’ work, like some expected. A drop of beer would do him good, say who would water was lion’s drink. But Craigan now, if you looked up two moments at work he was down your throat, and then in evenings, in their house it was like being in a hearse with wireless to it: ‘Dirty ice-faced ‘ermit,’ Gates said, holding sides, he was laughing at own image in a glass, ‘ ‘e’d listen to the weather reports so long that ‘e wouldn’t tell what it was doin’ outside, rainin’, snowing or sleet.’
Few young men go to public houses in Birmingham, then, only when they are married. So when Mr Dale went he was alone, nor did he want to talk.
Mr Gibbon said after he had done the Holy Roman Empire he felt great relief and then sadness at old companion done with. Mr Dale wanted to feel relief but felt only as if part of him was not with him, and sadness of a vacuum.
Griping sorrow was in void in him, but felt he could draw into him all winds of air for sympathy with him, that he must take hold on someone and clutch him so he would not go away and say all the sadness that was in his heart to him, and suck the sympathy back from that one.
But then he could not do all that (what would people think of him?) so he went to where was warmth and noise, were many people and talking, nor did he drink but sat over pot of beer hoping to be distracted.
— This is substance of what he wanted, though he did not know what he wanted.
Also young Mr Dupret was restless so he came to London, and Miss Glossop also came to be distracted.
They met at dinner party. They sat next each other. She did not remember him but soon they were talking. And from their mouths this time went words that seemed like to sink into each other’s eyes.
Soon he was saying what trouble parents were to their children and she got very interested.
(She thought mother was real cause of her not getting married. She would not let her do anything, when she enjoyed washing up — which she had never done but three times at picnics and the General Strike. She blamed mother for uselessness feeling she had just now, and but for that useless feeling she would not have cried when chauffeur was killed. So she got very interested.)
Then he said how his father was dying now, and how sad it was. How he had had to drag mother up here away for a rest He said the doctors told them would be months before he died yet. Now bending her face to his she shone out feeling over him.
‘It’s so awful,’ she said, ‘I can’t get used to the feeling of death. A doctor came to stay with us last week. His chauffeur got caught up in the thing that makes our electric light. He was killed. Poor man, he was dead at once and its so awful to think that it can happen to anyone. Of course its different for old people because they’re old, but young people like us, we might go and die any time.’
They talked so, all through dinner, and hostess noticed. She thought in her mind young people didn’t play the game nowadays but talked only on one side of them from soup till dessert if they were interested. ‘Mr Dupret has talked to Hannah all through dinner,’ she said in her mind, ‘and there’s poor Di next him absolutely starved. All she can do poor child is to listen to what’s going on across the grapes over on the other side of the table. Henry’s just as bad as the other boy, he won’t speak to her either.’
So he talked to her throughout dinner and when ladies went and port was sent round he did not join in conversation then, he did not talk because he was still finding more in feeling to say to her. When they got into cars to go on to this dance, they went in different cars. He sat silent thinking of presently when they sat out.
As she sat in car misery came back over her, he was so clever she thought, and she must have seemed so silly talking to him all dinner when it hadn’t been much, not worth all the notice it attracted, their talk. Also she felt fat.
When he came out of cloakroom he waited for her at foot of stairs in crowd of people. When she came out of cloakroom she looked happy as happy. Why, thought he, can this be for me? He pressed forward to her. She let him take her upstairs.
She hardly knew he was there, truth to tell!! As they had got out of motor-car, there, in doorway, just going in, Tom Tyler, back from Siam. Tom Tyler!! ‘Tom!’ she had screamed, ‘Annie!’ He was here!
As they went upstairs, so the music came nearer to them from room was dancing in.
Chandelier hung from ceiling on a level with half way upstairs. It was like bell-shaped, and crystal, cut in all manners, formed it. As they went up he looked at chandelier., Chatter of people going up and down past him and he thought this great brilliant thing, you are like her only she is not so cold, but how like you are, he thought, all these people ascending, descending, and then, as first tones of dance music came down through chatter about, chandelier thrilled all through and light tumbled down along it, like it was a bell and notes trembling from the clapper.
So, as they went upstairs, and she had put her arm on his (she did not know it), so happiness tumbled down his spine. They went slowly, were many people. All these were talking as these two went further so dance music got much louder and louder, and so she glided up into bliss:
Your eyes are my eyes
My heart looks through
sang the band: bliss again to be in London, and Tom Tyler being here, just think of it, bliss, and she said to notes of xylophone, darlings, she said, darlings.
And again, this was to be lucky night, was no one to receive them and they danced straight out into the room, marvellous band, Roberts, and she was thinking Dick was Tom Tyler.
Your eyes are my eyes
My heart looks through
‘Oh’ she whispered, ‘Oh’ and he felt quite transported.
Just then Mr Dupret in sleep, died, in sleep.
‘ ‘Ow are ye Albert?’
‘Middlin’ Aaron. The sweat was dropping from off me again last night from the pain.’
‘Them,’ said Mr Connolly nodding to group of men, (it was lunch hour in Dupret factory and men sat about) ‘them tell me the old gaffer am dead.’
‘Ah, he died in ‘is sleep. I can’t say it makes a deal of difference to me, I ain’t ever seen ‘im only the once. How old would ‘e be in your estimation?’
Mr Connolly said he had had fine innings and then they talked of young Dupret’s age. They said he was twenty-six and didn’t the old chap have him late on in life, seeing he was seventy-eight when he died.
‘It’s the food and the comfortable life,’ said Mr Milligan.
‘It am’ said Mr Connolly.
‘Ah’ Mr Milligan said, ‘the young chap’s no older than Bert Jones there that is just turned twenty-six.’
When Mr Dupret came back to office in London Mr Archer went in to him.
‘Mr Dupret, sir’ he said, ‘the office have asked me to come on behalf of them all to convey their condolences in your bereavement, which is also ours, sir, but to a smaller degree of course. It is an honour I very much appreciate, if I may say so, in that I did not have the — the honour to work under him as long as some who have been in this office all their lives. But every day we were here we were learning from him sir, every day, I am sure no one knows that better than I do. It was a pleasure to work for him Mr Richard, always a kind word for everyone. I remember once as I happened to be sharpening a pencil he came up behind me without I heard him. He put his hand on my shoulder and said,
“Archer, go on as you are going on now and you will be all right!” I don’t think I shall ever forget that, Mr Dupret, as long as it pleases our common father to spare me. The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away, sir.’
Mr Dupret, embarrassed, said wreath they had sent looked very beautiful on the coffin. Archer went away delighted.
Mr Dupret thought how like father to say that to Archer and make joke for himself out of it in a wry way, knowing Archer would never see barbed end of it. How like too, to be always mistaken in his best men, good men like Tarver he thought nothing of while men like Bridges he exalted in his own manner, though without ever praising them.
‘Well, Arthur, he’s dead,’
‘Yes’ said Mr Bridges to Mr Walters.
‘They weren’t there when it happened,’ said Mr Walters, ‘he died all of a sudden with none of his own to hold ‘is ‘and.’
‘Where was the young chap then? Wastin’ up in town?’
‘He took his mother up there, Arthur, to give her a change.’
‘Yes, he’s dead,’ said Bridges.
‘There was a fine man,’ Mr Walters said, loyal to those under him, you knew where you were with him.’
‘Yes,’ cried Mr Bridges, ‘yes and now we might be like in the desert with a pack of wolves as escort and at night when we lie down scorpions,’ he cried, ‘poisoned snakes for pillows.’
‘Not so loud Arthur.’
‘I don’t care who ‘ears me,’ shouted Bridges clinging on to mantelpiece. ‘I’d like to call ‘em all in and say to ‘em, we are like a flock that ‘as lost its shepherd with the night coming on. I loved that man. Why, I’d ‘ave laid down my life for ‘im. And now where are we, tell me that? ‘Ere, I’ll tell you what he’ll say. He’ll say we’re too old for our jobs. That gang in your office up there will be at ‘im all the time, and what am I to do, I got nothing put by, if I can’t ‘old this job I’ll have to go on the streets with the wife and die like any dog in a ‘ole.’
‘Arthur!’ said Mr Walters.
‘Aye,’ Bridges was out of himself, ‘aye and since I came ‘ere I’ve built this side up stone by stone and made a job of it. Waller, of the O.K., said to me only a week ago standing where you are now, he said you turn out better work here than I’ve seen in the trade. Now there’s a man of experience, mayn’t I take part of that on myself? No, it’s now as I might be a ‘orse or a dog turned off because their old man ‘as died, or like an Indian widder woman that is burned beside ‘er dead ‘usband.’
‘Well, there’s other firms.’
‘They wouldn’t take us on at our age.’
Walters quietly said he would work for young Mr Dupret as he had worked for father.
‘And so will I,’ Mr Bridges said, abating, ‘but you see what’s coming to us, ‘e’s gone out of ‘is way to make me a fool before my own men, you’ll see,’ (rising again) ‘he’ll bide ‘is time till ‘e can get us off without a pension, forcing us out of a living. And that’s what comes to a man that ‘as worked all ‘is life for another. My bones in my body they ache all day now but when I’ve worn ‘em out in ‘is service ‘e’ll sell ‘em as scrap to the rag and bone. That’s ‘ow it will be.’
‘You ought to take a day or two off Arthur.’ Then Mr Bridges began again at that, saying did he want him to starve right away. Suddenly he covered face in hands, he burst out into sobbing, and Walters sent for brandy.
Miss Gates went out in afternoon to buy food in shops and now was last sunshine of winter on the streets. She came into high road and trams went by her rocking, roaring sound came from them and sound of their bell like metals. Along line of shops which were on each side of this road women in dark clothes went in and out of them.
She passed by and black man passed by her. She had in mind to turn back and look at him. But she saw chest of tea in shop window. She stopped by it. She thought of film she had seen which was advertisement of a tea firm, she had seen in it black women that gathered the tea, and how delicate she had thought them and she remembered now, how delicate their arms and hands which did not seem touched by the hard labouring.
Were tins of pineapple in that shop window and she wondered and languor fell on her like in a mist as when the warm air comes down on cold earth; in images she saw in her heart sun countries, sun, and the infinite ease of warmth.
‘Well, Albert,’ said Mr Gates, who came to fetch chaplets, to Mr Milligan storekeeper,’ ‘ow are you feeling?’
‘Ah, and the old man’s looking ill and all.’
‘What — ‘Tis ‘im? Ah, ‘e came by the other day and I said to myself, I said, that man ‘as the shade of death on his face.’
‘I said as much to Jim, when ‘e went past. It’s a shame there couldn’t be a double funeral, the old gaffer and ‘im.’
Mr Milligan laughed.
‘Well, there’s double weddings, ain’t there,’ cried Mr Gates ‘and double beds bless my ‘eart,’ he said, ‘all for the enjoyment of mankind, so why shouldn’t we see two dirty sods put underground at one go off.’
‘They buried the old gaffer some time back. I don’t say I ‘ad anything against the man. But it’s marvellous the state these worryers get into, I don’t reckon I’ll be far out when I said Mr Bridges is done for.’
‘Ah, and look at our foreman, Andrew there, ‘e takes it ‘ome with ‘im. I’ll wager ‘is missus is a good moulder. I’ll wager ‘er ‘as to listen to ‘is troubles every night, ‘ow this job blowed and that’n run out.’
‘That’s right. But, come to look at it, wouldn’t Bridges and Tupe be all right in a ‘earse together.’
Mr Gates did not relish this.
‘I’d like ‘im dead,’ Mr Gates said carelessly. He meant Mr Bridges. He meant to keep off topic of Mr Tupe.
Milligan said indeed Tupe should be in a grave and Mr Gates asked for chaplets. When Mr Milligan came back he said to mark his words and that would be big changes in this factory soon. Yes, he said, they would see a lot different, whether for better or worse he couldn’t say.
Well, Mr Walters said in his mind, I must try and like the young chap, and he came into Mr Richard’s private office.
‘Good morning, Dick.’
‘Good morning’ Mr Dupret said cordially. ‘I hope you’re well.’
‘Pretty well thanks. But it’s marvellous what the weather’s been doing to people.’
‘Yes, two or three of my friends are down with the ‘flu. It’s a wonder we’re alive, Mr Walters.’
‘Yes, it is that, and I’m worried about Mr Bridges, Dick. He’s not as well as he ought to be, not by a long way. Everything seems to have got right on his mind lately. I shouldn’t wonder if he didn’t have a breakdown one of these days.’
‘Yes, he’s right down on his luck. A good deal of it was your father dying as he did — (as he did? wondered young Mr Dupret) — and then he takes everything to heart very much. I think we ought to send him on a holiday.’
Mr Dupret said he was sorry to hear that and who would take over if he did go away.
‘Cummings will take over.’
‘What about Tarver, Mr Walters?’
‘Cummings is senior to Tarver, Dick, it wouldn’t do to put the younger man over the older one.’
‘Wouldn’t it give him a useful experience of running the works. After all, Tarver is our coming man isn’t he, Walters?’
‘Well Mr Dupret,’ said Mr Walters, rage rising in him, ‘I don’t know that Tarver’s got the all round knowledge necessary for a works manager.’
‘What sort of a man is Cummings?’
‘He’s a real good man. He came to us as a lad and has been with us ever since. Mr Bridges has been bringing him on ever since he came here.’
‘Then what sort of age is he?’
‘He’d be round about fifty.’
‘Rather a long time to be bringing along, isn’t it Mr Walters?’
‘Engineering isn’t learnt in a day.’
‘Well,’ Mr Richard said importantly, ‘I think I’ll go down to the works for a day or two to see how things stand. I’m all for Mr Bridges going for a holiday but I don’t quite see my way clear yet about his temporary successor.’
Hoity toity Mr Walters thought and why wouldn’t he give him handle to his name, call a man ‘Walters’ who was old enough to be his father!
Mr Dupret picked up a letter.
‘Why haven’t these people had delivery yet?’
‘There’s been a heap of trouble in the iron foundry over that job, Dick. It’s an awkward job, but they’ve pretty well got it weighed up now since I went down there and saw it.’
‘Damn that iron foundry,’ Mr Dupret said.
‘Yes, I’ve said’ that many a time,’ said Mr Walters. One sentence, like a bell, knolled in Mr Richard’s mind, ‘Cummings will take over,’ sentence said confidently.
Lily came to go and meet Bert. She took short cut that was over piece of waste ground.
Night. Street lamps were lit over where she was going to. She walked across. She had done shopping and men had been fed at evening, now work was done and like as when gulls come and settle on the water so her spirit folded wings, so walked in quietness.
Night was mauve about her, mauve and cold. She only felt warmer.
So, wings folded, as the gull takes on motion of the sea, night flowed over her then in her.
Gathering coat she hugged arms round body and folded in night and buried face in it, in fur of her collar. And so containing it warmness rose in her, drowsed her mind, and came in little ball of warmth top of throat, behind her nose, breathed through her there, till she was drunk, and all of her was dyed in night.
She came nearer street lamps and then stumbled a little. Looking up she saw them, light sticking out from them, and as she came nearer so night left, excitement effervescing in her she put coat straight, and felt cold. When she stepped into cone of light of this lamp, night was outside and it might not have been night-time.
She met Bert at corner.
They kissed. Her warmth and his, their bodies straining against each other, became one warmth. Walking, his arm round her enclosed her warmth and his. So it came from his veins flowing into hers, so they were joined.
They walked from cone of light into darkness and then again into lamplight, nor, so their feeling lulled them, was light or dark, only their feeling of both of them which was one warmth, infinitely greater.
Tom Tyler was the life of the house-party. Before dinner he stood on his head; put a pin in the back of a chair and sitting on the chair leaned round it, bending his body into an arc and took the pin out in his mouth. Then when some other man did this, only not so quickly of course, Tom sent for a tumbler and filling this with water he put it on his forehead. He knelt down, he bent his body back in an arc from the knees, and soon was lying flat on his back with not a drop of water spilled, nor had he steadied the tumbler with his hands at any stage in the course of this delicate operation. No one could do it after him, many got soused with water in trying to do it, which only added to the general hilarity.
Hannah got quite hysterical with excitement.
Then he put an armchair in the middle of the floor and cushions at a little distance at the back of it, and he took a running leap and dived into the chair, turned a somersault on his head in it and landed with the chair onto the cushions. The chair was broken. That was a very good joke. Then they all played hunt the slipper.
All this was good clean fun. If anyone touched anyone it brought a bruise.
So it was all good clean fun. And when they were bored with hunt the slipper they sat in a circle, (Tom Tyler directed all this), and someone, man or woman was put in the middle and kept themselves very stiff and everyone, each one theoretically being for himself, everyone I say tried to push the person in the middle onto one of the others who were sitting. When that happened, amid screams, the person fallen on had to go in the middle. So boys fell across girls and then perhaps took a little time to get up, but it is quite true to say that there was nothing dirty in all this.
Hannah, for instance, did not even long for Tom to be pushed over her, nor did she even think of it, it’ was all — how shall I say, — all was like the clearness of an empty glass, with the transparency of light. Yet not transparent. You look into crystal globe and its round emptiness makes a core in it you can’t see through, there is nothing there only the transparency is confused. That was like Hannah Glossop when someone wasn’t talking to her, inoculating ideas.
When she went to dress for dinner she told maid she had never laughed so much in all her life.
Mr Bridges, on his leave, sat in sitting room of a lodging house at Weston. He was writing letter to Mr Walters. He looked up and onto the sea, grey under dark sky, incessantly moving, spotted with gulls. He had just written: What I won’t wear about this place is seeing a big ship go down and then when you’re sitting in the same place with nothing to do and not even a dog to speak to you see the same boat come back up again an hour later. There’s times I could go loony wondering what it was up to.
What were they doing at Works, he thought? Young chap would be down there now, and most likely he had only given him the week off so he might play hell with the place while he was away. Some fathers had awkward children by God and to hand the whole show over to them when you were dead, it was like cutting the throat of a whole crowd of people.
What would Tarver be at?
Mrs Bridges came in then.
‘She says it’s sixpence for a bath!’ she said.
‘Sixpence, eh?.’ said Mr Bridges. ‘You go tell her she’s in competition. Tell her I can get a wash for nothing in the sea there and if she don’t cut her prices she’ll lose the order.’
‘Oh, yes, you bathing in this cold.’
‘You tell her I’ve bathed every Christmas Day since ever I could swim.’
‘Why it aint November yet and you can’t swim, you know you can’t.’
‘How’ll she know that, eh? If it’s going to cost us a tanner for a bath I’ll wait till I get back to Brum before I wash the dust off me of this bloody ‘ouse.’
Women, he thought, would you believe it, they’d ruin you. Yes, thought Mrs Bridges, and little he’d think of it if it was for a pint.
Cummings, he went on in mind, was a good man, he’d taught him all he knew, but he didn’t like leaving works with him, not with Tarver and those sharks about. And he couldn’t ring up again, he’d rung up twice this morning already. The waiting till you got back, that was the rub of it, was like having your arteries cut and watching the life blood spouting out.
Richard Dupret came late to that house-party. He arrived in middle of fish course at dinner. He had warned hostess was only train he could come by, having to work late that day in London; but yet, as he passed by open door of dining room to go and dress and saw brilliance of lights there and clash and glitter of women’s dresses, and heard their laughing, he had a sickening in stomach.
Older woman asked hostess who was that young man that was arriving? and she said Richard Dupret.
‘Sylvia Dupret’s son?’
‘Yes my dear. It was her husband who died not so very long ago.’
‘Wasn’t he very rich?’
‘Yes very. Poor Sylvia it was quite dreadful for her, she was at the Embassy with a party when they telephoned through and Ian Lampson had to break it to her. Of course it wasn’t altogether unexpected but the doctors had said he might linger on for months.’
‘Didn’t she stay by him at all then?’
‘Oh yes, but she came up for a change.’
‘She oughtn’t to have left him, a woman shouldn’t do a thing like that Grizel. It looks so bad.’
‘Oh no, it’s very unkind when you say a thing like that Katie dear. It was unfortunate I admit but I don’t see how she could have helped it. He had been no more alive than a log for months.’
‘Did he regain consciousness before the end?’
‘Dear Katie, I don’t know whether he did or not.’ And they talked of something else, man sitting between them changed topic of conversation. But that woman thought obviously he had regained consciousness and that Grizel hadn’t liked to admit it.
When our Richard came down, others had finished. The men even had done with the port. He ate alone, nervousness growing in him and served by footman that was anxious to get to his meal, so hurried Mr Dupret through his courses. Why did she have no flowers on table? thought he in interval of nervousness. When he had had glass of port footman announced him into the room where now all houseparty was concentrated. Shutting door behind him footman yawned in the passage and went quickly to supper. Now dinner table lay in empty room like a grave that has dead flowers on it.
Small hush was as Mr Dupret went to greet hostess. He shook hands with older people. Mary came up and then he was in midst of his contemporaries, was introduced to two or three, and then saw Hannah Glossop.
Mr Tyler went on with his plan of a game. It was like ‘prisoner’s base’ only played in darkness and Mary, whose house this was, said they would take over the North Wing and turn out all lights, and play there.
All younger people went off. Walking with Miss Glossop Mr Dupret had now lost feeling of nervousness.
After breakfast assembled women in one room, men in another.
Older man was saying he had only seen woodcock on the ground once, which was by great bit of good fortune as he did not know what made him look in that direction but there it was, on the ground, twenty yards from him. He was saying this to Tom Tyler, who upheld that conversation.
Mr Dupret thought that was how it was, once he had been going upstairs with Hannah at a dance and chandelier which hung there had trembled as it might be at sound of the band which was beginning to play, so light on that chandelier was beginning to move. What difference is there, thought he, between my chandelier and his woodcock, one or the other moved one of us? And yet how much better if he could be excited at sight of woodcock on the ground for excitement over chandelier was at light moving over it, caused probably by someone stamping on the floor above. The woodcock was on ground by no agency of man, its being there was a natural phenomenon, and he thought his chandelier and how it moved him was a spurious emotion.
He thought this was a parable. Darkness he thought was merely opportunity for Tyler and Miss Glossop to play a game in, where to him it would be another thing. That seemed centre of it all to him. For in their games they sublimated all passions, all beliefs. That was why Tom Tyler cut him out with Miss Glossop, who did not care to talk. And so he saw these games they were always playing to be charades of the passions. So was there no other way to her heart?