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Chapter XVIII

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« on: November 30, 2022, 10:32:04 pm »

GREAT is the power of martyrdom!---of the false no less than the true---and whether the mind consent or no.

During the first week of Gertrude Marvell's recovery---or partial recovery---from her prison ordeal, both Winnington and Delia realised the truth of this commonplace to the full. Winnington was excluded from the flat. Delia, imprisoned within it, was dragged, day by day, through deep waters of emotion and pity. She envied the heroism of her friend and leader; despised herself for not having been able to share it; and could not do enough to soothe the nervous suffering which Gertrude's struggle with law and order had left behind it.

But with the beginning of the second week some strange facts emerged. Gertrude was then sufficiently convalescent to be moved into the drawing-room, to see a few visitors, and to exchange experiences. All who came belonged to the League, and had been concerned in the Parliamentary raid. Most of them had been a few days or a week in prison. Two had been hunger-strikers. And as they gathered round Gertrude in half-articulate worship, Delia, passing from one revealing moment to another, suddenly felt herself superfluous---thrust away! She could not join in their talk, indeed, except perfunctorily; the increasing violence of it often left her cold and trembling with a strange and poisonous excitement; and she soon recognised, half in laughter, half bitterly, that, as one who had been carried out of the fray, like a naughty child, by her guardian, she stood in the opinion of Gertrude's visitors on a level altogether inferior to that of persons who had "fought it out."

This, however, would not have troubled her---she was so entirely of the same opinion herself. But what began to wound her to the quick was Gertrude's own attitude towards her. She had been accustomed for so long to be Gertrude's most intimate friend, to be recognised and envied as such, that to be made to feel day by day how small a hold---for some mysterious reason---she now retained on that fierce spirit, was galling indeed. Meanwhile she had placed all the money realised by the sale of her jewels,---more than three thousand pounds---in Gertrude's hands for League purposes; her house was practically Gertrude's, and had Gertrude willed, her time and her thoughts would have been Gertrude's also. She would not let herself even think of Winnington. One glance at the emaciated face and frame beside her was enough to recall her from what had otherwise been a heavenly wandering.

But she was naturally quick and shrewd, and she soon made herself face the fact that she was supplanted. Supplanted by many---but especially by one. Marion Andrews had not been in the raid---Delia often uneasily pondered the why and wherefore. She came up to town a week after it, and was then constantly in Gertrude's room. Between Delia, and this iron-faced, dark-browed woman, with her clumsy dress and her brusque ways, there was but little conversation. Delia never forgot their last meeting at Maumsey; she was often filled with dire forebodings and suspicions; and as the relation between Gertrude and Miss Andrews became closer, they grew and multiplied.

At last one morning Gertrude turned her back on invalid ways. She got up at her usual time; she dismissed her nurse; and in the middle of the morning she came in upon Delia, who, in the desultory temper born of physical strain, was alternately trying to read Marshall's "Economics of Industry" and writing to Lady Tonbridge about anything and everything, except the topics that really occupied her mind.

Delia sprang up to get her a shawl, to settle her on the sofa. But Gertrude said impatiently---

"Please don't fuss. I want to be treated now as though I were well---I soon shall be. And anyway I am tired of illness." And she took a plain chair, as though to emphasise what she had said. "I came to talk to you about plans. You're not busy!"

"Busy!" The scornful tone was a trifle bitter also, as Gertrude perceived. Delia put aside her book, and her writing-board, and descended to her favourite place on the hearth-rug. The two friends surveyed each other.

"Gertrude, it's absurd to talk as though you were well!" cried Delia. "You look a perfect wreck!"

But there was more in what she saw---in what she felt---than physical wreck. There was a moral and spiritual change, subtler than any physical injury, and probably more permanent. Gertrude Marvell had never possessed any "charm," in the sense in which other leaders of the militant movement possessed it. A clear and narrowly logical brain, the diamond sharpness of an astonishing will, and certain passions of hate, rather than passions of love, had made the strength of her personality, and given her an increasing ascendancy. But these qualities had been mated with a slender physique---trim, balanced, composed---suggesting a fastidious taste, and nerves perfectly under control; a physique which had given special accent and emphasis to her rare outbreaks of spoken violence. Refinement, seemliness, "ladylikeness"---even Sir Robert Blanchflower in his sorest moments would scarcely have denied her these.

In a measure they were there still, but coupled with pathetic signs of some disintegrating and venomous influence. The face which once, in its pallid austerity, had not been without beauty, had now coarsened, even in emaciation. The features stood out disproportionately; the hair had receded from the temples; something ugly and feverish had been, as it were, laid bare. And composure had been long undermined. The nurse who had just left had been glad to go.

Gertrude received Delia's remark with impatience. "Do please let my looks alone! As if you could boast!" The speaker's smile softened as she looked at the girl's still bandaged arm, and pale cheeks. "That in fact is what I wanted to say, Delia. You ought to be going home. You want the country and the garden. And I, it seems---so this tiresome Doctor says---ought to have a fortnight's sea."

"Oh"---said Delia, with a sudden flush. "So you think we ought to give up the flat? Why can't I come with you to the sea?"

"I thought you had begun to do various things---cripples---cottages---schools---for Mr. Winnington," said Gertrude drily.

"I wanted to---but Weston's illness stopped it---and then I came here."

"Well, you 'wanted to.' And why shouldn't you?"

There was a silence. Then Delia looked up---very pale now---her head thrown back. "So you mean you wish to get rid of me, Gertrude!"

"Nothing of the sort. I want you to do---what you clearly wish to do."

"When have I ever shewn you that I wished to desert you---or---the League?"

"Perhaps I read you better than you do yourself," said Gertrude, slightly reddening too. "Of course you have been goodness---generosity---itself. But---this cause wants more than gifts---more than money---it wants a woman's self!"

"Well?" Delia waited.

Gertrude moved impatiently. "Why should we play the hypocrite with each other?" she said at last. "You won't deny that what Mr. Winnington thinks---what Mr. Winnington feels---is infinitely more important to you now than what anybody else in the world thinks or feels?"

"Which I shewed by coming up here against his express wishes?---and joining in the raid, after he had said all that a man could say against it, both to you and to me?"

"Oh, I admit you did your best---you did your best," said Gertrude sombrely. "But I know you, Delia!---I know you! Your heart's not in it---any more."

Delia rose, and began slowly to pace the room. There was a wonderful virginal dignity---a suppressed passion---in her attitude, as though she wrestled with an inward wound. But she said nothing, except to ask---as she paused in front of Gertrude---

"Where are you going---and who is going with you?"

"I shall go to the sea, somewhere---perhaps to the Isle of Wight. I dare say Marion Andrews will come with me. She wants to escape her mother for a time."

"Marion Andrews?" repeated Delia thoughtfully. Then, after a moment---"So you're not coming down to Maumsey any more?"

"Ask yourself what there is for me to do there, my dear child! Frankly, I should find the society of Mr. Winnington and Lady Tonbridge rather difficult! And as for their feelings about me!"

"Do you remember---you promised to live with me for a year?"

"Under mental reservation," said Gertrude quietly. "You know very well, I didn't accept it as an ordinary post."

"And now there's nothing more to be got out of me? Oh, I didn't mean anything cruel!" added the girl hastily. "I know you must put the Cause first."

"And you see where the Cause is," said Gertrude grimly. "In a fortnight from now Sir Wilfrid Lang will have crushed the Bill."

"And everybody seems to be clamouring that we've given them the excuse!"

Fierce colour overspread Gertrude's thin temples and cheeks.

"They'll take it, anyway; and we've got to do all we can---meetings, processions, way-laying Ministers---the usual things---and any new torment we can devise."

"But I thought you were going to the sea!"

"Afterwards---afterwards!" said Gertrude, with visible temper. "I shall run down to Brighton to-morrow, and come back fresh on Monday."

"To this flat?"

"Oh no---I've found a lodging."

Delia turned away---her breath fluttering. "So we part to-morrow!" Then suddenly she faced round on Gertrude. "But I don't go, Gertrude---till I have your promise!"

"What promise?"

"To let---Monk Lawrence alone!" said the girl with sudden intensity; and laying her uninjured hand on a table near, she stooped and looked Gertrude in the eyes.

Gertrude broke into a laugh. "You little goose! Do you think I look the kind of person for nocturnal adventures?---a cripple---on a stick? Yes, I know you have been talking to Marion Andrews. She told me."

"I warned you," said Delia, with determination---"which was more to the point. Everything Mr. Lathrop told me, I handed on to you."

There was an instant's silence. Then Gertrude laid a skeleton hand upon the girl's hand---gripping it painfully. "And do you suppose---that anything Mr. Lathrop could say, or you could say, could prevent my carrying out plans that seemed to me necessary---in this war?"

Delia gasped. "Gertrude!---you mean to do it!"

Gertrude released her---almost threw her hand away.

"I have told you why you are a fool to think so. But if you do think so, go and tell Mr. Winnington! Tell him everything!---make him enquire. I shall be in town---ready for the warrant."

The two faced each other.

"And now," said Gertrude---"though I am convalescent---we have had enough of this." She rose tottering---and felt for her stick.

Delia gave it her. "Gertrude!" It was a bitter cry of crushed affection and wounded trust. It arrested Gertrude for a moment on her way to the door. She turned in indecision---then shook her head---muttered something inarticulate, and went.


That afternoon Delia sent a telegram to Lady Tonbridge who had returned to Maumsey---"Can you and Nora come and stay with me for three months? I shall be quite alone." She also despatched a note to Winnington's club, simply to say that she was going home to-morrow. She had no recent news of Winnington's whereabouts, but something told her that he was still in town---still near her.

Then she turned with energy to practical affairs---arrangements for giving up the flat, dismissing some servants, despatching others to Maumsey. She had something of a gift for housekeeping, and on this evening of all others she blessed its tasks. When they met at dinner, Gertrude was perfectly placid and amiable. She went to bed early, and Delia spent the hours after dinner in packing, with her maid. In the middle of it came a line from Winnington---"Good news indeed! I go down to Maumsey early, to see that the Abbey is ready for you. Don't bother about the flat. I have spoken to the agents. They will do everything. Au revoir!"

The commonplace words somehow broke down her self-control. She sent away her maid, put out the glaring electric light, and sat crouched over the fire, in the darkness, thinking her heart out. Once she sprang up suddenly, her hands at her breast---"Oh, Mark, Mark---I'm coming back to you, Mark,---I'm coming back---I'm free!"---in an ecstasy.

But only to feel herself the next moment quenched---coerced---her happiness dashed from her. If she gave herself to Mark, her suspicions, her practical certainty must go with the gift. She could not keep from him her haunting belief that Monk Lawrence was vitally threatened, and that Gertrude, in spite of audacious denials, was still madly bent upon the plot. And to tell him would mean instant action on his part: arrest---prison---perhaps death---for this woman she had adored, whom she still loved with a sore, disillusioned tenderness. She could not tell him!---and therefore she could not engage herself to him. Had Gertrude realised that?---counted upon it?

No. She must work in other ways---through Mr. Lathrop---through various members of the "Daughters" Executive, who were personally known to her. Gertrude must be restrained---somehow---by those who still had influence with her.

The loneliness of that hour sank deep into Delia's soul. Never had she felt herself so motherless, so forlorn. Her passion for this elder woman during three years of fast-developing youth had divided her from all her natural friends. As for her relations, her father's sister, Elizabeth Blanchflower, a selfish, eccentric old maid, had just acknowledged her existence in two chilly notes since she returned to England; while Lord Frederick, Winnington's co-executor, had in the same period written her one letter of half-scolding half-patronising advice, and sent a present of game to Maumsey. Since then she understood he had been pursuing his enemy the gout from "cure" to "cure," and "Mr. Mark" certainly had done all the executors' work that had not been mere formality.

She had no friends, no one who cared for her!---except Winnington---her chilled heart glowed to the name!---Lady Tonbridge, and poor Weston. Among the "Daughters" she had acquaintances, but no intimates. Gertrude had absorbed her; she had lived for Gertrude and Gertrude's ideas. And now she was despised---cast out. She tried to revive in herself the old crusading flame---the hot unquestioning belief in Women's Rights and Women's Wrongs---the angry contempt for men as a race of coarse and hypocritical oppressors, which Gertrude had taught her. In vain. She sat there, with these altruistic loves and hates---premature, artificial things!---dropping away; conscious only, nakedly conscious, of the thirst for individual happiness, personal joy---ashamed of it too, in her bewildered youth!---not knowing that she was thereby best serving her sex and her race in the fore-ordained ways of destiny. And the wickedness of men? But to have watched a good man, day by day, had changed all the values of the human scene. Her time would come again---with fuller knowledge---for bitter loathing of the tyrannies of sex and lust. But this, in the natural order, was her hour for hope---for faith. As the night grew deeper, the tides of both rose and rose within her---washing her at last from the shores of Desolation. She was going home. Winnington would be there---her friend. Somehow, she would save Gertrude. Somehow---surely---she would find herself in Mark's arms again. She went to sleep with a face all tears, but whether for joy or sorrow, she could hardly have told.


Next morning Marion arrived early, and carried Gertrude off to Victoria, en route for Brighton. Gertrude and Delia kissed each other, and said Good-bye, without visible emotion.

"Of course I shall come down to plague you in the summer," said Gertrude, and Delia laughed assent---with Miss Andrews standing by. The girl went through a spasm of solitary weeping when Gertrude was finally gone; but she soon mastered it, and an hour later she herself was in the train.

Oh, the freshness of the February day---of the spring breathing everywhere!---of the pairing birds and the springing wheat---and the bright patches of crocus and snowdrops in the gardens along the line. A rush of pleasure in the mere return to the country and her home, in the mere welling back of health, the escape from daily friction, and ugly, violent thoughts, overflowed all her young senses. She was a child on a holiday. The nightmare of the Raid---of those groups of fighting, dishevelled women, ignominiously overpowered, of the grinning crowd, the agonising pain of her arm, and the policeman's rough grip upon it---began to vanish "in black from the skies."

Until---the train ran into the long cutting halfway between Latchford and Maumsey, above which climbed the steep woods of Monk Lawrence. Delia knew it well. And she had no sooner recognised it than her gaiety fell---headlong---like a shot bird. She waited in a kind of terror for the moment when the train should leave the cutting, and the house come into view, on its broad terrace carved out of the hill. Yes, there it was, far away, the incomparable front, with its beautiful irregularities, and its equally beautiful symmetries, with its oriel windows flashing in the sun, the golden grey of its stone work, the delicate tracery on its tall twisted chimneys, and the dim purples of its spreading roofs. It lay so gently in the bosom of the woods which clasped it round---as though they said---"See how we have guarded and kept it through the centuries for you, the children of to-day."

The train sped on, and looking back Delia could just make out a whitish patch on the lower edge of the woods. That was Mr. Lathrop's cottage. It seemed to her vaguely that she had seen his face in the front rank of the crowd in Parliament Square; but she had heard nothing of him or from him since their last talk. She had indeed written him a short veiled note, as she had promised to do, after Gertrude's first denials, repeating them---though she herself disbelieved them---and there had been no reply. Was he at home? Had he perhaps discovered anything more?

When she alighted at Maumsey, with her hand in Winnington's, the fresh colour in her cheeks had disappeared again, and he was dismayed anew at her appearance, though he kept it to himself. But when she was once more in the familiar drawing-room, sitting in her grandmother's chair, obliged to rest while Lady Tonbridge poured out tea---Nora was improving her French in Paris---and Winnington, with his hands in his pockets, talked gossip and gardening, without a word of anything that had happened since they three had last met in that room; when Weston, ghostly but convalescent, came in to shew herself; when Delia's black spitz careered all over his recovered mistress, and even the cats came to rub themselves against her skirts, it was impossible not to feel, for the moment, tremulously happy, and strangely delivered---in this house whence Gertrude Marvell had departed.

How vivid was the impression of this latter fact on the other two may be imagined. When Delia had gone upstairs to chat with Weston, Lady Tonbridge looked at Winnington---

"To what do we owe this crowning mercy? Who dislodged her?"

Winnington's glance was thoughtful. "I guess it has been her own doing entirely. But I know nothing."

"H'm.---Well, if I may advise, dear Mr. Mark, ask no questions. And"---his old friend put a hand on his arm---"May I go on?" A smile, not very gay, permitted her.

"Let her be!" she said softly, with a world of sympathy in her clear brown eyes. "She's suffered---and she's on edge." He laid his hand on hers, but said nothing.


The days passed by. Winnington did as he had been told; and Madeleine Tonbridge seemed to see that Delia was dumbly grateful to him. Meanwhile in the eyes of her two friends she made little or no advance towards recapturing her former health and strength. The truth, of course, was that she was consumed by devouring and helpless anxiety. She wrote to Lathrop, posting the letter at a distant village; and received no answer. Then she ascertained that he was not at the cottage, and a casual line in the Tocsin informed her that he had been in town taking part in the foundation of an "outspoken" newspaper---outspoken on "the fundamental questions of sex, liberty, and morals involved in the Suffrage movement."

But a letter to the Tocsin office, addressed "To be forwarded," produced no more result than her first. Meanwhile she had written imploringly to various prominent members of the organisation in London, pointing out the effect on public opinion that must be produced all through Southern England by any attack on Monk Lawrence. She received two cold and cautious replies. It seemed to her that the writers of them were even more in the dark than she.

The days ran on. The newspapers were full of the coming Woman Suffrage Bill, and its certain defeat in the Commons. Sir Wilfrid Lang was leading the forces hostile to the Suffrage, and making speech after speech in the country to cheering audiences, denouncing the Bill, and the mad women who had tried to promote it by a campaign of outrage, "as ridiculous as it was criminal." He was to move the rejection of it on the second reading, and was reported to be triumphantly confident of the result.

Winnington meanwhile became more and more conscious of an abnormal state of nerve and brain in this pale Delia, the shadow of her proper self, and as the hours went on, he was presently for throwing all Madeleine's counsels aside, and somehow breaking through the girl's silence, in the hope of getting at---and healing---the cause of it. He guessed of course at a hundred things to account for it---at a final breach between her and Gertrude---at the disappointment of cherished hopes and illusions---at a profound travail of mind, partly moral, partly intellectual, going back over the past, and bewildered as to the future. But at the first sign of a change of action, of any attempt to probe her, on his part, she was off---in flight; throwing back at him often a look at once so full of pain and so resolute that he dared not pursue her. She possessed at all times a great personal dignity, and it held him at bay.

He himself---unconsciously---enabled her to hold him at bay. Naturally, he connected some of the haunting anxiety he perceived with Monk Lawrence, and with Gertrude Marvell's outrageous speech in Latchford market-place. But he himself, on the other hand, was not greatly concerned for Monk Lawrence. Not only he---the whole neighbourhood was on the alert, in defence of the famous treasure-house. The outside of the building and the gardens were patrolled at night by two detectives; and according to Daunt's own emphatic assurance to Winnington, the house was never left without either the keeper himself or his niece in it, to mount guard. They had set up a dog, with a bark which was alone worth a policeman. And finally, Sir Wilfrid himself had been down to see the precautions taken, had especially ordered the strengthening of the side door, and the provision of iron bars for all the ground-floor windows. As to the niece, Eliza Daunt, she had not made herself popular with the neighbours or in the village; but she seemed an efficient and managing woman, and that she "kept herself to herself" was far best for the safety of Monk Lawrence.

Whenever during these days Winnington's business took him in the Latchford direction, so that going or coming he passed Monk Lawrence, he would walk up to the Abbey in the evening, and in the course of the gossip of the day, all the reassuring news he had to give would be sure to drop out; while Delia sat listening, her eyes fixed on him. And then, for a time, the shadow almost lifted, and she would be her young and natural self. In this way, without knowing it, he helped her to keep her secret, and, intermittently, to fight down her fears.

On one of these afternoons, in the February twilight, he had been talking to both the ladies, describing inter alia a brief call at Monk Lawrence and a chat with Daunt, when Madeleine Tonbridge went away to change her walking dress, and he and Delia were left alone. Winnington was standing in the favourite male attitude---his hands in his pockets, and his back to the fire; Delia was on a sofa near. The firelight bickered on the black and white of her dress, and on the face which in losing something of its dark bloom had gained infinitely in other magic for the eyes of the man looking down upon her.

Suddenly she said---"Do you remember when you wanted me to say---I was sorry for Gertrude's speech---and I wouldn't?"

He started. "Perfectly."

"Well, I am sorry now. I see---I know---it has been all a mistake."

She lifted her eyes to his, very quietly---but the hands on her lap shook.

His passionate impulse was to throw himself at her feet, and silence any further humbleness with kisses. But he controlled himself.

"You mean---that violence---has been a mistake?"

"Yes---just that. Oh, of course!"---she flushed again---"I am just as much for women---I am just as rebellious against their wrongs---as I ever was. I shall be a Suffragist always. But I see now---what we've stirred up in England. I see now---that we can't win that way---and that we oughtn't to win that way."

He was silent a moment, and then said in a rather muffled voice---"I don't know who else would have confessed it---so bravely!" His emotion seemed to quiet her.

She smiled radiantly. "Does it make you feel triumphant?"

"Not in the least!"

She held out both hands, and he grasped them, smiling back---understanding that she wished him to take it lightly. Her eyes indeed now were full of gaiety---light swimming on depths. "You won't be always saying 'I told you so'?"

"Is it my way?"

"No. But perhaps it's cunning on your part. You know it pays better to be generous."

They both laughed, and she drew her hands away. In another minute, she had asked him to go on with some reading aloud while she worked. He took up the book. The blood raced in his veins. "Soon, soon!"---he said to himself, only to be checked by the divining instinct which added---"but not yet!"


Only a few more days now to the Commons debate. Every morning the newspapers contained a crop of "militant" news of the kind foreshadowed by Gertrude Marvell---meetings disturbed, private parties raided, Ministers waylaid, windows smashed, and the like, though in none of the reports did Gertrude's own name appear. Only two days before the debate, a glorious Reynolds in the National Gallery was all but hopelessly defaced by a girl of eighteen. Feeling throughout the country surged at a white-heat. Delia said little or nothing, but the hollows under her eyes grew steadily darker, and her cheeks whiter. Nor could Winnington, for all his increasing anxiety, devote himself to soothing or distracting her. An ugly strike in the Latchford brickfields against non-union labour was giving the magistrates of the county a good deal of anxiety. Some bad outrages had already occurred, and Winnington was endeavouring to get a Board of Trade arbitration,---all of which meant his being a good deal away from home.

Meanwhile Delia was making a new friend. Easily and simply, though no one knew exactly how, Susy Amberley had found her way to the heart of the young woman so much talked about and so widely condemned by the county. Her own departure for London had been once more delayed by the illness of her mother. But the worst of her own struggle was over now; and no one had guessed it. She was a little older, though it was hardly perceptible to any eye but her mother's; a little graver; in some ways sweeter, in others perhaps a trifle harder, like the dipped sword. Her dress had become less of a care to her; she minded the fashions less than her mother. And there had opened before her more and more alluringly that world of social service, which is to so many beautiful souls outside Catholicism the equivalent of the vowed and dedicated life.

But just as of old, she guessed Mark Winnington's thoughts, and by some instinct divined his troubles. He loved Delia Blanchflower; that she knew by a hundred signs; and there were rough places in his road,---that too she knew. They were clearly not engaged; but their relation was clearly, also, one of no ordinary friendship. Delia's dependence on him, her new gentleness and docility were full of meaning---for Susy. As to the causes of Delia's depression, why, she had lost her friend, or at any rate---to judge from the fact that Delia was at Maumsey, while Miss Marvell remained, so report said, in London---had ceased to agree or act with her. Susy divined and felt for the possible tragedy involved. Delia indeed never spoke of the militant propaganda; but she often produced on Susy a strange impression as of someone listening---through darkness.

The net result of all these guessings was that the tender Susy fell suddenly in love with Delia---first for Mark's sake, then for her own; and became, in a few days of frequent meetings, Delia's small worshipper and ministering spirit. Delia surrendered, wondering; and it was soon very evident that, on her side, the splendid creature, in her unrevealed distress, pined after all to be loved, and by her own sex. She told Susy no secrets, either as to Winnington or Gertrude; but very soon, just as Susy was certain about her, so she---very pitifully and tenderly---became certain about Susy. Susy loved---or had once loved---Winnington. And Delia knew very well whom Winnington loved. The double knowledge softened all her pride---all her incipient jealousy, away. She took Susy into her heart, though not wholly into her confidence; and soon the two began to walk  the lonely country roads together hand in hand. Susy's natural tasks took her often among the poor. But Delia would not go with her. She shrank during these days, with a sick distaste, from the human world around her---its possible claims upon her. Her mind was pre-engaged; and she would not pretend what she could not feel.

This applied especially to the folk on her father's estate. As to the neighbours of her own class, they apparently shrank from her. She was left coldly alone. No one called but Susy, France and his wife, and Captain Andrews. Mrs. Andrews indeed was loud in her denunciation of Delia and all her crew. Her daughter Marion had abominably deserted all her family duties, without any notice to her family, and was now---according to a note left behind---brazenly living in town with some one or other of the "criminals" to whom Miss Blanchflower, of course, had introduced her. But as she had given no address she was safe from pursuit. Mrs. Andrews' life had never been so uncomfortable. She had to maid herself, and do her own housekeeping, and the thing was scandalous and intolerable. She filled the local air with wailing and abuse.

But her son, the gallant Captain, would not allow any abuse of Delia Blanchflower in his presence. He had begun, indeed, immediately after Delia's return, to haunt the Abbey so persistently that Madeleine Tonbridge had to make an opportunity for a few quiet words in his ear, after which he disappeared disconsolate.

But he was a good fellow at heart, and the impression Delia had made upon him, together with some plain speaking on the subject from Lady Tonbridge, in the course of a chance meeting in the village, roused a remorseful discomfort in him about his sister. He tried honestly to find out where she was, but quite in vain. Then he turned upon his mother, and told her bluntly she was herself to blame for her daughter's flight. "Between us, we've led her a dog's life, mother---there, that's the truth! All the same, I'm damned sorry she's taken up with this business."

However, it mattered nothing to anybody whether the Captain was "damned sorry" or not. The hours were almost numbered. The Sunday before the Tuesday fixed for the Second Reading came and went. It was a foggy February day, in which the hills faded from sight, and all the world went grey. Winnington spent the afternoon at Maumsey. But neither he nor Madeleine seemed to be able to rouse Delia during that day from a kind of waking
dream---which he interpreted as a brooding sense of some catastrophe to come.

He was certain that her mind was fixed on the division ahead---the scene in the House of Commons---and on the terror of what the "Daughters"---Gertrude perhaps in the van---might be planning and plotting in revenge for it. His own feeling was one of vast relief that the strain would be so soon over, and his own tongue loosed. Monk Lawrence was safe enough! And as for any other attempt at vengeance, he dismissed the notion with impatient scorn.

But meanwhile he said not a word that could have jarred on any conviction or grief of Delia's. Sometimes indeed they touched the great subject itself---the Movement in its broad and arguable aspects; though it seemed to him that Delia could not bear it for long. Mind and heart were too sore; and her weary reasonableness made him long for the prophetic furies of the autumn. But always she felt herself enwrapped by a tenderness, a chivalry that never failed. Only between her and it---between her and him---as she lay awake through broken nights, some barrier rose---dark and impassable. She knew it for the barrier of her own unconquered fear.

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