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Chapter XVII

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« on: November 30, 2022, 06:14:57 am »


DELIA'S luggage was brought in by the hall porter, and she and Winnington stood waiting for the lift. Meanwhile Winnington happened to notice, through the open door of the mansions, a couple of policemen standing just outside, on the pavement, and two others on the further side of the street. It seemed to him they were keeping the house which Delia and he had just entered under observation.

The lift descended. There were in it four women, all talking eagerly in subdued tones. One was grey-haired, the others were quite young girls. The strained, excited look on all their faces struck Winnington sharply as they emerged from the lift. One of the girls looked curiously at Delia and her tall companion. The gray-haired lady's attention was caught by the policeman outside. She gave a little chuckle.

"We shall have plenty to do with those gentry to-morrow!" she said to the girl beside her, drawing her cloak round her so that it displayed a black and orange badge.

Delia approached her. "Is Miss Marvell here?"

They all stopped and eyed her.

"Yes, she's upstairs. She's just come back from the Central. But she's very busy," said the elder lady. "She won't see you without an appointment."

One of the girls suddenly looked at Delia, and whispered to the speaker.

"Oh, I see!" said that lady vaguely. "Are you Miss Blanchflower?"

"Yes."

"I beg your pardon. Miss Marvell's expecting you, of course. Do make her rest a bit if you can. She's simply splendid! She's going to be one of our great leaders. I'm glad you won't miss it after all. You've been delayed, haven't you?---by somebody's illness. Well, it's going magnificently! We shall make Parliament listen---at last. Though they'll protect themselves no doubt with any number of police---cowards!"

The eyes of the speaker, as her face came into the light of the hall lamp, sparkled maliciously. She seemed to direct her words especially to Winnington, who stood impassive. Delia turned to the lift, and they ascended.

They were admitted, after much ringing. A bewildered maid looked at Delia, and the luggage behind her, as though she had never heard of her before. And the whole flat in the background seemed alive with voices and bustle. Winnington lost patience. "Tell this man, please, where to take Miss Blanchflower's luggage at once. And where is the drawing-room?"

"Are you going to stay, Miss?" said the girl. "There's only the small bedroom vacant."

Delia burst out laughing---especially at the sight of Winnington's irate countenance.

"All right. It'll do quite well. Now tell me where Miss Marvell is."

"I mustn't interrupt her, Miss."

"This is my flat," said Delia good-humouredly---"so I think you must. And please shew Mr. Winnington the drawing-room."

The girl, with an astonished face, opened a door for Winnington, into a room filled with people, and then---unwillingly---led Delia along the passage.

Winnington looked round him in bewilderment. He had entered, it seemed, upon a busy hive of women. The room was full, and everybody in it seemed to be working at high pressure. A young lady at a central table was writing telegrams as fast as possible, and handing them to a telegraph clerk who was waiting. Two typists were busy beside her. A woman with a pale, abstracted face, lifted her eyes in a distant corner, and Winnington was suddenly aware of a flash of beauty---ghostlike, unconscious of itself. Another, evidently a journalist---plain, thin, and determined-looking---was writing near by, holding her pad on her knee, while a printer's boy, cap in hand, was sitting by her waiting for her "copy." Two other women were undoing and sorting rolls of posters. Winnington caught the head-lines---"Women of England, strike for your liberties!" "Remember our martyrs in prison!"---"Destroy property---and save lives!" "If violence won freedom for men, why not for women?" And in the distance of the room were groups in eager discussion. A few had maps in their hands, and others note-books, in which they took down the arrangements made. So far as their talk reached Winnington's ears, it seemed to relate to the converging routes of processions making for Parliament Square.

"How do you do, Mr. Winnington," said a laughing voice, as a daintily dressed woman, with fair fluffy hair, came towards him.

He recognised the sister of a well-known member of Parliament, a lady who had already been imprisoned twice for window-breaking in Downing Street.

"Who would have thought to see you here?" she said gaily, as they shook hands.

"Surprising---I admit! I came to see Miss Blanchflower settled in her flat. But I seem to have stumbled into an office."

"The Central Office simply couldn't hold the work. We were all in each other's way. So yesterday, by Miss Marvell's instructions, some of us migrated here. We are only two streets from the Central."

"Excellent!" said Winnington. "But it might perhaps have been well to inform Miss Blanchflower."

The flushed babyish face under the fashionable hat looked at him askance. Lady Fanny's tone changed---took a sharpened edge.

"Miss Blanchflower---you may be quite sure---will be as ready as anyone else to make sacrifices for the cause. But we don't expect you to understand that!"

"Nobody can doubt your zeal, Lady Fanny."

"Only my discretion? Oh, I've long left that to take care of itself. What are you here for?"

"To look after my ward."

Lady Fanny eyed him again.

"Of course! I had forgotten. Well, she'll be all right."

"What are you really preparing to do to-morrow?"

"Force our way into the House of Commons!"

"Which means---get into an ugly scrimmage with the police, and put your cause back another few years?"

"Ah! I can't talk to you, if you talk like that! There isn't time," she threw back, with laughing affectation, and nodding to him, she fluttered off to a distant table where a group of girls were busy making black and orange badges. But her encounter with him seemed to have affected the hive. Its buzz sank, almost ceased.

Winnington indeed suddenly discovered that all eyes were fixed upon him---that he was being closely and angrily observed. He was conscious, quickly and strangely conscious, of an atmosphere of passionate hostility, as though a pulse of madness ran through the twenty or thirty women present. Meredithian lines flashed into memory---

        "Thousand eyeballs under hoods
         Have you by the hair"--


and a shock of inward laughter mingled in his mind with irritation for Delia---who was to have no place apparently in her own flat for either rest or food---and the natural wish of a courteous man not to give offence. At the same moment, he perceived on one of the tables a heap of new and bright objects; and saw at once that they were light hammers, fresh from the ironmongers. Near them lay a pile of stones, and two women were busily casing the stones in a printed leaflet. But he had no sooner become aware of these things than several persons in the room moved so as to stand between him and them.

He went back into the passage, closing the door behind him.

The little parlour-maid came hurriedly from the back regions carrying a tray on which was tea and bread and butter.

"Are you taking that to Miss Blanchflower?"

"Yes, Sir."

"Shew me the way, please."

Winnington followed her, and she, after a scared look, did not attempt to stop him. She paused outside a door, and instantly made way for him. He knocked, and at the "Come in" he entered, the maid slipping in after him with the tea.

Two persons rose startled from their seats---Delia and Gertrude Marvell. He had chanced upon the dining-room, which, no less than the drawing-room, had been transformed into an office and a store-room. Masses of militant literature, copies of the Tocsin, books and stationery covered the tables, while, on the wall opposite the door, a large scale map of the streets in the neighbourhood of the Houses of Parliament had been hung over a picture.

It seemed to him that Delia looked ill and agitated. He walked up to her companion, and spoke with vivacity---"Miss Marvell!---I protest altogether against your proceedings in this house! I protest against Miss Blanchflower's being drawn into what is clearly intended to be an organised riot, which may end in physical injury, even in loss of life---which will certainly entail imprisonment on the ringleaders. If you have any affection for Delia you will advise her to let me take her to my sister, who is in town to-night, at Smith's Hotel, and will of course most gladly look after her."

Gertrude, who seemed to him somehow to have dwindled and withered into an elderly woman since he had last seen her, looked him over from head to foot with a touch of smiling insolence, and then turned quietly to Delia.

"Will you go, Delia?"

"No!" said Delia, throwing back her beautiful head. "No! This is my place, Mr. Mark. I'm very sorry---but you must leave me here. Give my love to Mrs. Matheson."

"Delia!" He turned to her imploringly. But the softness she had shewn on the journey had died out of her face. She stood resolved, and some cold dividing force seemed to have rolled between them.

"I don't see what you can do, Mr. Winnington," said Gertrude, still smiling. "I have pointed that out to you before. As a matter of fact Delia will not even be living here on money provided by you at all. She has other resources. You have no hold on her---no power---that I can see. And she wishes to stay with me. I think we must bid you good night. We are very busy."

He stood a moment, looking keenly from one to the other, at Gertrude's triumphant eyes blazing from her emaciated face, at Delia's exalted, tragic air. Then, with a bow, and in silence, he left the room, and the house.

---

It was quite dark when he emerged on Millbank Street. All the neighbourhood of the Houses of Parliament and the Abbey seemed to be alive with business and traffic. But Palace Yard was still empty save for a few passing figures, and there was no light on the Clock Tower. A placard on the railings of the Square caught his notice---"Threatened Raid on the House of Commons. Police precautions." At the same moment he was conscious that a policeman standing at the corner of the House of Commons had touched his hat to him, grinning broadly. Winnington recognised a Maumsey man, whom he had befriended in various ways, who owed his place indeed in the Metropolitan force to Winnington's good word.

"Hullo, Hewson--how are you? Flourishing?"

The man's face beamed again. He was thinking of a cricket match the year before under Winnington's captaincy. Like every member of the eleven, he would have faced "death and damnation" for the captain.

They walked along the man's beat together. A thought struck Winnington.

"You seem likely to have some disturbance here to-morrow?" he said, as they neared Westminster Bridge.

"It's the ladies, Sir. They do give a lot of trouble!"

Winnington laughed---paused---then looked straight at the fine young man who was evidently so glad to see him.

"Look here, Hewson---I'll tell you something---keep it to yourself! There'll be a lady in that procession to-morrow whom I don't want knocked about. I shall be here. Is there anything you can do to help me? I shall try and get her out of the crowd. Of course I shall have a motor here."

Hewson looked puzzled, but eager. He described where he was likely to be stationed, and where Winnington would probably find him. If Mr. Winnington would allow him, he would tip a wink to a couple of mates, who could be trusted---and if he could do anything to help, why, he would be "rare pleased" to do it.

"But I'm afraid it'll be a bad row, Sir. There's a lot of men coming---from Whitechapel---they say."

Winnington nodded and walked on,---aimlessly---thoughts and images swarming about him. The vision of Delia arrested---refused bail---in a police cell---or in prison---tormented him. All the traditional, fastidious instincts of his class and type were strong in him. He loathed the notion of any hand laid upon her, of any rough contact between her clean youth and the brutalities of a London crowd. His blood rushed at the thought of it. The mere idea of any insult offered her made him murderous.

He turned down Whitehall, and at a corner near Dover House he presently perceived a small crowd which was being addressed by a woman. She had brought a stool with her, and was standing on it. A thin slip of a girl, with a childish, open face and shrill voice. He went up to listen to her, and stood amazed at the ignorant passion, the reckless violence of what she was saying. It seemed indeed to have but little effect upon her hearers. Men joined the crowd for a few minutes, listened with upturned impassive faces, and went their way. A few lads attempted horse-play, but stopped as a policeman approached; and some women carrying bundles propped them against a railing near, and waited, lifting tired eyes, and occasionally making comments to each other. Presently, it appeared to Winnington that the speaker was no more affected by her own statements---appalling as some of them were---than her hearers. She appeared to be speaking from a book---to have just learnt a lesson. She was then a paid speaker? And yet he thought not. Every now and then phrases stood out---fiercely sincere---about the low wages of women, their exclusion from the skilled trades, the marriage laws, the exploiting and "selling" of women, and the like. And always, in the background of the girl's picture, the hungry and sensual appetites of men, lying in wait for the economic and physical weakness of the woman.

He waited till she had finished. Then he helped her down from her perch, and made a way for her through the crowd. She looked at him in astonishment. "Thank you, Sir,---don't trouble! Last night I was pelted with filth. Are you one of us?"

He shook his head, smiling.

"I didn't agree with you. I advise you to look up some of those things you said. But you speak very well. Good night."

She looked at him angrily, gathered up her skirt with a rattle, in a small hand, and disappeared.

He presently turned back towards Buckingham Gate, and in a narrow Westminster street, as he passed the side of a high factory building, suddenly there emerged from a doorway a number of women and girls, who had evidently been working overtime. Some of them broke at once into loud talk and laughter, as though in reaction from the confinement and tension of their work; some---quite silent---turned their tired faces to him as they passed him; and some looked boldly, provocatively at the handsome man, who on his side was clearly observing them. They were of all types, but the majority of the quite young girls were pale and stunted, shewing the effect of long hours and poor food. The coarse or vicious faces were few; many indeed were marked by a modest or patient gentleness. The thin line of hurrying forms disappeared into darkness and distance, some one way, some another; and Winnington was left to feel that in what he had seen---this every-day incident of a London street---he had been aptly reminded of what a man who has his occupation and dwelling amid rural scenes and occupations too readily forgets---that toiling host of women, married and unmarried, which modern industry is every day using, or devouring, or wasting. The stream of lives rushes day by day through the industrial rapids; some of it passing on to quiet and fruitful channels beyond the roar, and some lost and churned for ever in the main tumult of the river.

This new claim upon women, on the part of society, in addition to the old claims of home and motherhood---this vast industrial claim---must it not change and modify everything in time?---depress old values, create new? "The vote!---give us the vote! and all will be well. More wages, more food, more joy, more share in this glorious world!---that's what the vote means---give us the vote!" Such, in effect, had been the cry of that half-mad speaker in Whitehall, herself marked and injured by the economic struggle.

The appeal echoed in Winnington's heart. And Delia seemed to be at his side, raising her eager eyes to his, pressing him for admissions. Had he, indeed, thought enough of these things?---taken enough to heart this new and fierce struggle of women with life and circumstance, that is really involved in the industrial organisation of the modern world?

He passed on---up Buckingham Gate, towards the Palace. Turning to the left, he was soon aware of two contrasted scenes:--a dinner party going on at a well-known Embassy, cars driving up and putting down figures in flashing dresses and gold-encrusted uniforms, who disappeared within its open doors---and, only twenty yards away, a group of women huddled together in the cold, outside a closed fish-shop, waiting to buy for a few pence the broken or spoiled fish of the day. Then, a little further on, he suddenly plunged into a crowd coming down Grosvenor Place. He stopped to watch it, and saw that it accompanied a long procession of men with banners and collecting-boxes. The banner held by the leaders bore the words---"Unemployed and starving! Give us work or bread!" And Winnington remembered there was a dockers' strike going on in Limehouse, passionately backed and defended by the whole body of the local clergy.

A collector approached him. He emptied the silver in his pockets into the box, his eyes, meanwhile, examining the faces and forms in the procession. Young and old, sickly and robust, they passed him by, all of them marked and branded by their tyrant, Labour; rolled like the women amid the rocks and whirlpools of the industrial stream; marred and worn like them, only more deeply, more tragically. The hollow eyes accused him as they passed---him, with his ease of honoured life. "What have you made of us, your brethren?---you who have had the lead and the start!---you who have had till now the fashioning of this world in which we suffer! What is wrong with the world? We know no more than you. But it is your business to know! For God's sake, you who have intelligence and education, and time to use them, think for us!---think with us!---find a way out! More wages---more food---more leisure---more joy!---By God! we'll have them, or bring down your world and ours in one ruin together!"

And then far back, from the middle of the last century, there came to Winnington's listening mind the cry of the founders of English democracy. "The vote!---give us the vote!---and bring in the reign of plenty and of peace." And the vote was given. Sixty years---and still this gaunt procession!---and all through industrial England, the same unrest, the same bitterness!

The vote? What is it actually going to mean, in the struggle for life and happiness that lies before every modern community? How many other social methods and forces have already emerged, and must yet emerge, beside it! The men know it. They are already oppressed with its impotence for the betterment of life. And meanwhile, the women---a section of women---have seized with the old faith, on the confident cries of sixty years ago!---with the same disillusion waiting in the path!

He passed on, drawn again down Constitution Hill, and the Mall, back to the Houses of Parliament and the River. . . . The night was clear and frosty. He paused on Westminster Bridge, and leant over the parapet, feasting his eyes on that incomparable scene which age cannot wither nor custom stale for the heart of an Englishman. The long front of the Houses of Parliament rose darkly over the faintly moonlit river; the wharves and houses beyond, a medley of strong or delicate line, of black shadow and pale lights, ran far into a vaporous distance powdered with lamps. On the other side St. Thomas's Hospital, and an answering chain of lamps, far-flung towards Battersea. Between, the river, heaving under a full tide, with the dim barges and tugs passing up and down. "The Mississippi, Sir, is dirty water---the St. Lawrence is cold dirty water---but the Thames, Sir, is liquid 'istory!" That famous mot of a Labour Minister delighted Mark's dreaming sense. The river indeed as it flowed by, between buildings new and old, seemed to be bearing the nation on its breast, to symbolise the ever-renewed life of a great people. What tasks that life had seen!---what vaster issues it had still to see!

And in that dark building, like a coiled and secret spring ready to act when touched, the Idea, which ruled that life, as all life, in the end, is ruled. On the morrow, a few hundred men would flock to that building, as the representatives and servants of the Idea---of that England which lives "while we believe."

And the vote behind them?---the political act which chose and sent them there? Its social power, and all its ordinary associations, noble or ignoble, seemed suddenly to vanish for Winnington, engulfed in something infinitely greater, something vital and primitive, on which all else depended.

He hung, absorbed, over the sliding water, giving the rein to reverie. He seemed to see the English Spirit, hovering, proudly watchful, above that high roof beside the dark water-way, looking out to sea, and across the world. What indomitable force, what ichor gleaming fire, through the dark veins of that weary Titan, sustained him there?---amid the clash of alien antagonisms, and the mysterious currents of things? What but the lavished blood and brain of England's sons?---that rude primal power that men alone can bring to their country?

Let others solve their own problems! But can women share the male tasks that make and keep us a Nation, amid a jarring and environing host of Nations?---an Empire, with the guardianship of well-nigh half the world on its shoulders? And if not, how can men rightly share with women the act which controls those tasks, and chooses the men to execute them?

And yet!---all his knowledge of human life, all his tenderness for human suffering, rushed in to protest that the great question was only half-answered, when it was answered so. He seemed to see the Spirit of England, Janus-like, two-faced, with one aspect looking out to sea, the other brooding over the great city at its feet, and turned inland towards the green country and studded towns beyond. And as to that other, that home-face of England, his dreaming sense scarcely knew whether it was man or woman. There was in it male power, but also virgin strength, and mother love. Men and women might turn to it equally---for help.

No need for women in the home tasks---the national house-keeping of this our England? He laughed---like France---at the mere suggestion of the doubt. Why, that teeming England, north and south, was vying out for the work of women, the help of women! Who knew it better than he? But call in thought!---call in intelligence! Find out the best way to fit the work to the organism, the organism to the work. What soil so rich as England in the seed of political ideas? What nation could so easily as we evolve new forms out of the old to fit new needs?

But what need for patience in the process---for tolerance---for clear thinking! And while England ponders, bewildered by the very weight of her own load, and its responsibilities, comes, suddenly, this train of Mnads rushing through the land, shrieking and destroying.

He groaned in spirit, as he thought of Delia's look that day---of the tragi-comic crowd around her. Again his thoughts flew hither and thither, seeking to excuse, to understand her, and always, as it seemed, with her dear voice in his ears---trembling---rushing---with the passionate note he knew.

---

"Mr. Winnington!"

He looked up. An elderly woman, plain-featured, ill-dressed, stood beside him, her kind eyes blinking under the lamp overhead. He recognised Miss Dempsey, and grasped her by the hand.

"My dear lady, where have you sprung from?"

She hesitated, and then said, supporting herself on the parapet of the bridge, as though thankful for the momentary rest.

"I had to go in search of someone."

He knew very well what she meant. "You've found her?"

"Yes."

"Can anyone help?"

"No. The poor thing's safe--with good people who understand."

He asked no more about her errand. He knew very well that day after day, and week after week, her tired feet carried her on the same endless quest---seeking "that which was lost." But the stress of thought in his own mind found expression in a question which surprised her.

"Would the vote help you? Is that why you want it?"

She smiled. "Oh no! Oh dear, no!" she said with emphasis; after a moment, adding in a lower tone, scarcely addressed to her companion---"'It costs more---to redeem their souls!'" And again---"Dear Mr. Mark, men are what their mothers make them!---that is the bottom truth. And when women are what God intended them to be, they will have killed the ape and the tiger in men. But law can't do it. Only the Spirit." Her face shone a little. Then, in her ordinary voice---"Oh no---I want the vote for quite other reasons. It is our right---and it is monstrous we shouldn't have it!" Her cheeks flushed.

He turned his friendly smile upon her, without attempting to argue. They walked back over the bridge together.

------

The following day rose in wind and shower. But the February rain cleared away towards noon, and the high scudding clouds, with bright spaces between, suddenly began to prophesy Spring. From Hyde Park, down the Mall, and along Whitehall, the troops gathered and the usual crowd sprang up in their rear, pressing towards Parliament Square, or lining the route. Winnington had sent a note early to Delia by messenger; but he expected no reply, and got none. All he could do was to hide a motor in Dean's Yard, to hold a conference or two with the friendly bobby in Parliament Square, and then to wander about the streets, looking restlessly at the show. It duly passed him by---the Cinderella-coach, with the King and Queen of fairy-tale, the splendid Embassy carriages, the Generals on their gleaming horses, the Guards in their red cloaks---and all the rest. The Royalties disappeared up the carpeted stairs into the House of Lords, and after half an hour, while the bells of St. Margaret's filled all the air with tumult, came out again; and again the ermined Queen and the glistening King passed bowing along the crowd. Winnington caught hold of a Hampshire member in the crowd.

"When does the House meet?"

"Everything adjourned till four. They'll move the Address about five. But everyone expects a row."

Nothing for it but to wait and stroll, to spend half an hour in the Abbey, and take a turn along the Embankment. . . . And gradually, steadily the Square filled up, no one knew how. The soldiers disappeared, but policemen quietly took their places. All the entrances to the House of Commons were carefully guarded, groups as they gathered were dispersed, and the approaches to the House, in Old and New Palace Yards, were rigorously kept free. But still the crowd in Parliament Square grew and thickened. Girls, with smiling excited faces, still moved to and fro in it, selling the Tocsin. Everybody waited expectantly.

Then the chimes of the Abbey struck four. And as they died away, from a Westminster street, from Whitehall, and from Millbank, there arose a simultaneous stir and shouting. And presently, from each quarter appeared processions of women, carrying black and orange banners, making their way slowly through the throng. The crowd cheered and booed them as they passed, swaying to this side and that. And as each procession neared the outer line of police, it was firmly but courteously stopped, and the leaders of it must needs parley with the mounted constables who sat ready to meet them.

Winnington, jumping on the motor which he had placed opposite St. Margaret's, drew out some field-glasses, and scanned the advancing lines of women. The detachment coming from Whitehall seemed to be headed by the chiefs of the whole organisation, to judge from the glistening banner which floated above its foremost group. Winnington examined it closely. Gertrude Marvell was not there, nor Delia. Then he turned westwards. Ah, now he saw her! That surely was she!---in the front ranks of the lines coming from Millbank. For a moment, he saw the whole scene in orderly and picturesque array, the cordons of police, the mounted constables, the banners of the processions, the swaying crowds, Westminster Hall, the westering light on the Clock Tower:--the next, everything was tossed in wild confusion. Some savage impelling movement in the crowd behind---a crowd of men---had broken the lines of police. The women were through! He could see the scurrying forms running across the open spaces, pursued, grappled with.

He threw himself into the crowd, which had rapidly hemmed him in, buffeting it from side to side like a swimmer in troubled waters. His height, his strength, served him well, and by the time he had reached the southern corner of St. Margaret's, a friendly hand gripped him.

"Do you see her, Sir?"

"Near the front!--coming from Millbank."

"All right! Follow me, Sir. This way!"

And with Hewson, and apparently two other police, Winnington battled his way towards the tumult in front of St. Stephen's entrance. The mounted police were pressing the crowd back with their horses, and as Winnington emerged into clear ground, he saw a mle of women and police,---some women on the ground, some held between police on either side, and one group still intact. In it he recognised Gertrude Marvell. He saw her strike a constable in the face. Then he lost sight of her. All he could see were the steps of St. Stephen's entrance behind, crowded with members of Parliament. Suddenly another woman fell, a grey-haired woman, and almost immediately a girl who was struggling with two policemen disengaged herself and ran to help. She bent over the woman and lifted her up. The police at once made way for them, but another wild rush from behind seemed to part them---sweep them from view.

"Now, Sir!" said Hewson on tiptoe---"Hold on! They've got the old lady safe. I think the young one's hurt."

They pressed their way through. Winnington caught sight of Delia again, deadly white, supported by a policeman on one side, and a gentleman on the other. Andrews!---by George! Winnington cursed his own ill-luck in not having been the first to reach her; but the gallant Captain was an ally worth having, all the same.

Mark was at her side. She lifted a face, all pain and bitter indignation. "Cowards---Cowards!---to treat an old woman so!---Let me go---let me go back! I must find her!"

"She's all safe, Miss---she's all safe---you go home," said a friendly policeman. "These gentlemen will look after you! Stand back there!" And he tried to open a passage for them.

Winnington touched her arm. But an involuntary moan startled him. "She's hurt her arm"---said Andrews in his ear---"twisted it somehow. Go to the other side of her---put your arm round her, and I'll clear the way."

Delia struggled---"No---no!---let me go!"

But she was powerless. Winnington nearly carried her through the crowd, while her faintness increased. By the time they reached the motor, she was barely conscious. The two men lifted her in. Andrews stood looking at her a moment, as she sank back with Winnington beside her, his ruddy countenance expressing perhaps the most acute emotion of which its possessor had ever yet been capable.

"Good night. You'll take her home?" he said gruffly, and lifted his hat. But the next moment he ran back to say---"I'll go back and find out what's happened. She'll want to know. Where are you taking her?"

"Smith's Hotel," said Winnington---"to my sister." And he gave the order to the chauffeur. They set out. Mark passed his arm round her again, to support her, and she drooped unconsciously upon his shoulder. A fierce joy---mingled with his wrath and disgust. This must be---this should be the end! Was such a form made for sordid violence and strife? Her life just breathed against his---he could have borne her so for ever.

---

But as soon as they had revived her, and she opened her eyes in Mrs. Matheson's sitting-room at the hotel, she burst into a cry of misery.

"Where's Gertrude?---let me go to her! Where am I?"

As they wrestled with and soothed her, a servant knocked. "A gentleman to see you, Sir, downstairs."

Winnington descended, and found Andrews---breathless with news. Eighty women arrested!---Miss Marvell among the ringleaders, for all of whom bail had been refused. While the riot had been going on in Parliament Square, another detachment of women had passed along Whitehall, smashing windows as they went. And at the same moment a number of shop-windows had been broken in Piccadilly. The Prime Minister had been questioned in the Commons, and Sir Wilfrid Lang had denounced the "Daughters'" organisation, and the mad campaign of violence to which they were committed, in an indignant speech much cheered by the House.

---

The days that followed were days of nightmare both for Delia and those who watched over her. Gertrude Marvell and ten others went to prison, without the option of a fine. About forty of the rank and file who refused to pay their fines, or give surety for good behaviour, accompanied their leaders into duress. The country rang with the scandal of what had happened, and with angry debate as to how to stop the scandal in the future. The "Daughters" issued defiant broadsheets, and filled the Tocsin with brave words. And the Constitutionalists, who had pinned their hopes on the Suffrage Bill before the House, wrung their hands, and wailed to heaven and earth to keep these mad women in order.

Delia sat waiting---waiting---all these intolerable hours. She scarcely spoke to Winnington, except to ask him for news, or to thank him, when every evening, owing to a personal knowledge of the Home Secretary, he was able to bring her the very latest news of what was happening in prison. Gertrude had refused food; forcible feeding would very soon have to be abandoned; and her release, on the ground of danger to life, might have to be granted. But in view of the hot indignation of the public, the Government were not going to release any of the prisoners before they absolutely must.

Delia herself was maimed and powerless. How the wrenching of the arm had come about---whether in the struggle with the two constables who had separated her from Gertrude, or in the attempt to raise her elderly companion from the ground---she could not now remember. But a muscle had been badly torn; she wore a sling, and suffered constant and often severe pain. Neither Alice Matheson nor Lady Tonbridge---who had rushed up to town---ever heard her complain, except involuntarily, of this pain. Madeleine indeed believed that there was some atoning satisfaction in it, for Delia's wounded spirit. If she was not with Gertrude in prison, at least she too was suffering---if only a fraction of what Gertrude was enduring.

The arm however was not the most serious matter. As France had long since perceived, she had been overstrained in nursing Weston, and the events since she left Maumsey had naturally increased the mischief. She had become sleepless and neurasthenic. And Winnington watched day by day the eclipse of her radiant youth, with a dumb wrath almost as Pagan as that which a similar impression had roused in Lathrop.

The nights were her worst time. She lived then in prison, with Gertrude, vividly recalling all that she had ever heard from the "Daughters" who had endured it, of the miseries and indignities of prison life. But she also lived again through the events which had preceded and followed the riot; her quick intelligence pondered the comments of the newspapers, the attitude of the public, the measured words and looks of these friends who surrounded her. And there were many times when sitting up in bed alone, suffering and sleepless, she asked herself bitterly---"Were we just fools?---just fools?"

But, whatever the mind replied, the heart and its loyalty stood firm. She was no more free now than before---that was the horrible part of it! It was this which divided her from Winnington. The thought of how he had carried her off from the ugly or ridiculous scenes which the newspapers described---scenes of which she had scarcely any personal memory---alternately thrilled and shamed her. But the aching expectation of Gertrude's return---the doubt in what temper of mind and what plight of body she would return---dominated everything else.

At last came the expected message. "In consequence of a report from the prison doctors and his own medical advisers, the Home Secretary has ordered the immediate release of Miss Gertrude Marvell." Winnington was privately notified of the time of release, information which was refused to what remained of the "Daughters'" organisation, lest there should be further disturbance. He took a motor to the prison gate, and put a terribly enfeebled woman and her nurse into it. Gertrude did not even recognise him, and he followed the motor to the Westminster flat, distracted by the gloomiest forebodings.

Delia was already at the flat to receive her friend, having quietly---but passionately---insisted, against all the entreaties of Mrs. Matheson and Lady Tonbridge. Winnington helped the nurse and the porter to carry Gertrude Marvell upstairs. They laid her on the bed, and the doctor who had been summoned took her in charge. As he was leaving the room, Winnington turned back---to look at his enemy. How far more formidable to him in her weakness than in her strength! The keen eyes were closed, the thin mouth, relaxed and bloodless, shewed the teeth, the hands were mere skin and bone. She lay helpless and only half-conscious on her pillows, with nurse and doctor hovering round her, and Delia kneeling beside her. Yet, as he closed the door, Winnington realised her power through every vein! It rested entirely with her whether or no she would destroy Delia, as she must in the end destroy herself.

He waited in the drawing-room for Delia. She came at last, with a cold and alien face. "Don't come again, please! Leave us to ourselves. I shall have doctors---and nurses. We'll let you know."

He took her hands tenderly. But she drew them away---shivering a little.

"You don't know---you can't know---what it means to me---to us---to see what she has suffered. There must be no one here but those---who sympathise---who won't reproach---" Her voice failed her.

There was nothing for it but to go.

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