The Discoverer


CHARLES KINGSBURY OARE, in his chance and alien passage through the home of the Sheffords, caught Bridget in mid-flight (metaphorically speaking) from the schoolroom to the drawing-room. In other words, during one evening he had the disturbing experience of finding her a child and turning her — quite unintentionally — into a woman.

Charles was staying with his friend and publisher, Frederick Warley, and Warley had a placid, country-neighbor friendship with the Sheffords, which took him there to dinner three or four times a year. One of these times occurred during Charles’s visit, and so Charles was asked, too.

There were no other guests, and Bridget was the only one of the Shefford children old enough to come in to dinner. Warley was rather morose with a cold, and Charles, glancing at Mr. and Mrs. Shefford, decided that, unless he could manage to be very amusing himself, he was going to have a dull evening. Bridget he dismissed as a child, which indeed at that moment she still was. He noticed that her tallness was a little awkward and weedy (though with the rather pleasant, supple weediness of youth), and that her large child-eyes were more darkly blue than any he had ever seen. He also observed that she was entirely tonguetied with shyness, and likely to remain so. Then he forgot about her in the discovery that he need do nothing more than parade his ignorance of agriculture in order to amuse Mr. and Mrs. Shefford, and even Warley, to the point of tears. He clung to the fortunate subject, embroidering it with fantastic strokes of wit and occasional flashes of wisdom, so that it was rather like a scaffolding for one of his inimitable essays — and this indeed it eventually became, for Charles was not without his full complement of artistic frugality.

Altogether he had a very good time, and was surprised when he found, by the fact of Mrs. Shefford pushing back her chair, that the worst of dinner was over.

As he stood up his glance was attracted once more to Bridget, simply because she had not risen when her mother did. And then for one second he saw what he had done to her. Her eyes were still large and beautiful and darkly blue, but they were no longer the eyes of a child. Love, although innocent to the point of unawareness of itself, looked out of them, and Charles was horribly abashed.

Fortunately, no one else noticed anything; there was hardly time, and besides, no one else there had Charles’s gift for reading eyes. Mrs. Shefford touched her daughter’s shoulder as she passed, with a careless ‘ Wake up, Bridget!’ and the girl flushed and followed her.

But Charles knew what he had done, and no kind of reasoning could relieve him of a sense of responsibility. Of course, other girls had fallen in love with him, and Charles had not felt a need to minister to them in their sickness, but only dexterously to avoid them until they were better. This, however, was different: Bridget was not a girl but a baby! He ought not, before a baby nurtured in the Shefford atmosphere, to have succumbed to one of his inspired half-hours. For the Shefford atmosphere was of a prosaic density not to be pierced, and the baby (witness her eyes) was starving for the blue distances of dreams. Naturally, therefore, his half-hour had gone, by way of her head, to her heart.

Charles felt an urgent and chivalrous necessity to stand somehow between her and this particularly painful first tumble to which her babyhood would condemn her unless some one intervened. Why, she did not even know that she had a secret! How, then, was she to defend it from the eyes of mother, father, governess, brothers — Heaven knew whom — unless he came to the rescue?

‘I will see her every day I’m here,’ resolved Charles, in a fervor of remorse and altruism. ‘ I will talk to her like a father till she forgets I’m capable of being a lover. If that is n’t enough, I will let it be understood that I am another’s. I will — I don’t know what I will do, but somehow I am going to save that child from wasting time by making dreams about me in the depths of her dark blue eyes.’

The intentions of Charles were excellent, and his devotion to the task he had set himself unflagging. The result, however, staggered him, for the one exception to the things that Charles could see was the obvious. At the end of an industrious fortnight, reviewing his activities, he came, astounded, upon the result, which was, of course, that he loved Bridget. Equally of course, without a moment’s reflection he told her so, employing in the process vast reserves of that unrhymed poetry that was the secret of his already wonderful prose.

In return Bridget was as usual almost mute, but the blue of her eyes deepened and blazed (so that Charles was impelled, even at that critical instant, to liken them to phosphorescent seas). She clung to him fiercely, and for a moment looked as though she were really going to say something intimate that was long enough to be called a sentence. But nothing came of it. She buried her head suddenly in his coat-sleeve, and achieved, as though it were the most difficult sound in the language, the one word 1 Darling!'

Still, she achieved it with the pent intensity that was all her own, and Charles was entirely satisfied.

‘You know, Bridget,’ he explained later, ‘you ’re always keeping me waiting for some pearl to drop from your lips. I must say that it hardly ever drops, but when it does it is a pearl, anyway. You’ve got some kind of mysterious cleverness — no, not cleverness; it’s just chunks of unadulterated wisdom that you produce out of your inexperienced infancy. How do you manage it? ’

Bridget looked at him. There was great variety in her looks, and this was perhaps one of his favorites. It expressed a sort of wonder and awe, he thought, as though she were spellbound before the depth and brilliancy of the things he knew and said. Not that this had been one of his brilliant flashes, but probably it had reminded her of one of them. And being, after all, still a very young man (albeit he felt so infinitely older than Bridget) and exceedingly conscious of his gifts, he liked to feel that she admired in him the things he admired in himself. He knew, of course, that there was nothing stupid about Bridget’s silences; almost from the first he had recognized that her difficulty was not thought but expression. That difficulty, however, now as ever overcame her. After a moment of her pregnant dumbness she gave the subject up.

‘I’m supposed,’ she said instead, ‘to be going to France for a year, to finish. Next month.’

She laid the practical situation, as it were, before him, and invited him to deal with it. It brought him down with a rush — to that and kindred considerations.

‘The deuce you are!’ he murmured, perplexedly, and fell into an absorbed silence. Suddenly he looked up and laughed. He had just swallowed a rather bitter pill, but he had a sense of humor.

‘Do you know, I believe you’ll have to go to France, then?’ he said. ‘It does n’t show me up in a heroic light, does it? But, you see, I’ve got to find a way of earning enough for two, and I dare say it will take me quite a year to do it. At present I’ve got a certain income of fifty pounds, and a variable one, from writing, of somewhere about two hundred. Your people will probably point out that that was a thing I should have thought of before asking you to marry me. By the way, I did n’t forget to ask you to marry me, did I? And you said yes? Good! Then it only remains for me to go in and take my licking like a man.’

‘Oh, but daddy and mother won’t be horrid,’ Bridget said quickly.

‘Won’t they? What will they be, then?’

For things like this Bridget could find expression. ‘Just sensible,’ she answered rather forlornly; and thus in a word summed up the daily atmosphere in which Charles had found her perishing.

She was right. Mr. and Mrs. Shefford were eminently sensible over the matter. They were clear in their refusal to let Bridget marry Charles on his variable two hundred and fifty pounds and her dress allowance, but they made few other objections.

‘Mind you, Oare, I won’t have it called an engagement,’ said Mr. Shefford finally; ‘but if you still care for each other by the time you ’re earning five hundred a year, we shan’t have anything more to say. It does n’t harm any one to start on that. Meanwhile Bridget is too young, anyway. She can go to France as arranged, and in a year you can come and tell me how you’re getting on.’

‘I may write to her, sir?’ Charles asked.

‘Well—yes,’ agreed Mr. Shefford after a moment’s thought; for he was too sensible to add the spice of opposition.

‘But not too often,’ stipulated Mrs. Shefford, though not unkindly. ‘Otherwise Bridget will have no time to learn French.’

Charles grinned youthfully at this tribute to his eloquence.

‘Once a month,’ said Mr. Shefford.

The grin faded. ‘Once a—?’

Charles’s forlorn echo died away.

Yes,' Bridget’s father insisted rather sharply. ‘ You ’re on your honor, if you please.’

Charles turned slowly to go. At the door he threw back a whimsical look. ‘It is,’ he reported, ‘a hard bed,’ and waited for a moment hopefully.

But neither of them softened, because neither of them understood; verbal gymnastics were alien to the Shefford atmosphere.


Charles and Bridget were scrupulously honorable, but they were also lovers. Consequently, although their letters were posted only once a month, the contents of them had usually been written day by day, and partook of the nature of diaries. Charles in particular spent a great deal in postage. The thought of Bridget always stimulated his imagination, and his letters seemed to her (as indeed they were) wonderful and starry things. Later on she found, scattered among his essays and in the novel that he wrote that year, things that she recognized as having had their birth in these letters; but she was not resentful, as a smaller woman would have been. She believed passionately in his power, and was proud, though so inarticulately, that his letters to her should kindle his flame. Once kindled, she recognized that it could never be hers alone.

Of course she was not actually inarticulate. Her letters, too, were long, only she was unable, except by inference, to lay bare her heart in them. However, inference was always ample for Charles, and he saw, plainly and exultantly, how she received every impression of her days through a sort of medium of himself.

He worked very hard that year, but the result was not satisfactory. His first idea for doubling his income had seemed simplicity itself—to double his output. But in practice the simplicity disappeared.

Charles was by nature at all times his own sternest taskmaster. His habit was inexorably to put away each newly written thing for at least a month. Then, if he found nothing to correct, he sent it out; if he did, it suffered another period of detention. He did not depart from this rule now that he was writing more. But he found that on those second and third readings he destroyed a much larger proportion of his work than heretofore. His publisher and his editors, that is to say, still saw only his best work, but he himself saw a great deal more than usual of the second best. Before the end of the year the meaning of that had forced itself upon him: he could not increase the quantity of his output without decreasing the quality of it.

The quality! All the artist in Charles rose up and clung to the beautiful, elusive thing that was his quality. Perish the thought that it should be bartered for anything! It was his quality which had already hewn for him a tiny niche that he shared with no contemporary; his quality which, although his audience was still so small, saw to it that it was quite admirably fit. Not even for Bridget was he going to tamper with his quality.

What, then, was to be done? Fired by the news that Bridget was returning home six weeks earlier than arranged, to attend her grandmother’s funeral, Charles’s mind struck out another practical spark and elaborated it. Over the dinner that he was parentally permitted to share with Bridget before putting her into the train for home, he explained his scheme.

‘ Pot-boilers, Bridget. I’ve been reading the things, and I see what they’re made of. Now I’m going to make them. Not all the time, of course, but about a third of it, I reckon; I’ve been collecting statistics. Ferguson, for instance: you might call him a king of pot-boilers, might n’t you? Well, he writes about three a year, and his fifty-second has just been published. But a third of his income, or even less, will satisfy your people, so I shall write only one a year. Not under my own name, either, of course; I shall work up a separate and distinct pot-boiling name. What do you say to that for a scheme, my mute but magic maid?’

‘I’m not mute!’ protested Bridget, who could always be induced to rise to this if to no other bait. ‘ I’m only thinking.’

‘ You invariably are,’ he pointed out. ‘The trouble is to get the benefit of your thoughts.’

The trouble was apparently as great as ever. In a hundred subtle ways Bridget had grown, but this difficulty of expression was still with her. Partly, too, it came of her seeing so much in him, so little in herself.

‘Make an effort, Bridget!’ he implored extravagantly. ‘Come! It’s not so hard as all that to talk. A-B-C!’

‘Donkey!’ cried Bridget, beautifully flushed. But she made an effort. ‘Well, it’s only — Ferguson writes nothing else, does he?’

That was merely the beginning of her thought, but Charles pounced on it as it stood.

‘He doesn’t,’ he admitted. ‘But I am cleverer than Ferguson. Do I understand you to sit there and deny it? (You see how I’m getting the Fergusonian touch already.)’

So the rest of Bridget’s thought was lost in a smile. Charles, rhapsodizing over the smile, was unconscious of the loss. And Bridget could not have produced the rest of her thought except under the steadiest flow of encouragement; she could not yet believe it of sufficient value. Therefore, by the time her astounding news came, four days later, Charles was already valiantly wrestling with his first pot-boiler.

‘Darling,’ Bridget wrote, ‘a wonderful thing has happened. Grannie has left me all her money; it is £750 a year, so now you won’t need to write horrid old pot-boilers, will you? Do, do come soon. Your Bridget.’

Charles left his pot-boiler and went down to the Sheffords’. After the first surprise of it, Bridget’s letter made him feel very old and practical and worldlywise. What a child she was — to think that he could consent to live on her money!

He was quick to note a touch of coldness in his reception by Mr. and Mrs. Shefford, and attributed it to its right cause.

‘I hope you don’t misunderstand my coming down just now, sir,’ he said frankly to Bridget’s father, when they were alone. ‘The year you gave me is almost up, and I’ve come to tell you that I’m no nearer fulfilling your condition than I was. But I just want to say, too, that I’m still not dreaming of asking Bridget to marry me until I am earning about what you expected. I don’t mean to live on my wife’s money, and though perhaps it would not, even now, be a case of that actually, I quite recognize that our incomes ought to be at least something more like equal before we marry. I’ve just started on some work now, however, that ought to put that right pretty soon, I think.’

Mr. Shefford’s approval of this statement, and his increased liking for Charles in consequence, were obvious. Charles, in a glow of manly self-respect, went to find Bridget.

She listened carefully to a poetized version of what he had just said to her father, but Charles was not able, in her case, to observe any sign of approval or admiration. In fact, when he had finished her eyes filled slowly with tears.

‘ My lamb! ’ cried Charles, distracted, ‘what is it?’

Considerable pressure resulted eventually in Bridget’s saying what it was. ‘I don’t see — why we need—wait!’

Charles began all over again. When he had finished he found that he had effectually silenced Bridget, but he was still a little doubtful as to whether he had converted her. Her eyes, he thought, still entreated and even questioned him.

‘Look here!’ he cried, on an inspiration, ‘I can’t explain properly because I love you, and when you look at me like that I can’t remember what comes next. It’s not fair. But everybody knows, really, Bridget, except innocent lambs like you, that a thing of that sort simply is n’t done. I’ll send you — let me see — he’s a goner, of course, but I think he’ll serve all right for this—yes, I’ll send you a Stevenson, the one with his “Letter to a Young Gentleman ” in it. That puts the thing in a nutshell. You’ll read it, won’t you?’

Bridget nodded submissively. In her eyes now was again that look he loved, a look of rather troubled wonder, as though with her beautiful young humility she were reaching up, trying to grasp and share his thought.

Charles kissed her adoringly and, much refreshed, departed to battle with his pot-boiler.


It was in town, six months later, that he told her the result. Bridget had been shopping, and they were having tea together.

’I could n’t come down to tell you,’ he explained gloomily — ‘could n’t face your people just yet. Pot-boiling, Biddy, is off.’

‘Oh, my dear!’

Her little murmur of sympathy unloosed his confidence.

‘You might think, perhaps,’ he said, with young and bitter irony, ‘that my pot-boiler is rejected because it is too good, but you would be mistaken. It has been rejected by seven publishers because it is not good enough. Think of it, Bridget: not up to standard —Ferguson’s standard!’

Bridget winced in sympathy with his profound mortification, but she did not make the mistake of trying to comfort him. ‘Tell me, please,’ she said; and he told her.

‘Warley began it. Of course I never expected him to publish it; pot-boilers of any sort are n’t up to his standard. But he’s been such a brick to me all along over my work, and I owe him so much, that I thought it was only fair to show him what I’d been doing. And I did expect that he’d at least commend my businesslike common sense and advise me where to send the thing. Well, if you’ll believe me, Warley implored me to burn it.’

Bridget’s eyes grew soft. ‘He was thinking of your interests,’ she approved.

‘Oh, he wrapped his thoughts up beautifully in silver paper!’ Charles admitted. ‘I was hitching my star to a wagon—anybody could write pot-boilers, and so on. Well, I would n’t accept his verdict; I thought it was just because he’s such a — such a high-brow of a publisher; I thought others would jump at my pot-boiler. But in the end I’ve seen that what he meant is what all the others have quite frankly said.’

‘And that?’

‘And that is simply that anybody can’t; I can’t, for instance. Pleasant, is n’t it? I’ve pressed them to tell me where I fail, but they won’t or can’t. They admit that I’ve got all the ingredients right, and mixed them properly; but I gather that there is a mysterious something,—genius, I presume, — failing which even a pot-boiler remains without form and void; and that something I have n’t got.’

‘The idiots!’ flashed Bridget.

Then suddenly she leaned back and held herself very still. Charles received a curious impression that she was listening to some one else. Yet they had the room to themselves.

‘ So you see,’ he continued with a miserable lightness, ‘where we are landed once more — at the very beginning. I ’ve got to find some other way. Biddy, are you tired, or will you wait?’

She met his eyes with a great resolution that struggled triumphantly against her young shyness. ‘ I’m tired,’ she said, ‘and I won’t wait.’

But he knew that she did not mean what he had meant by the words.

‘ Charles,’ she inquired abruptly, ‘ did you enjoy writing it?’

‘Enjoy it? the pot-boiler ? Did I — ?’ His unusual lack of eloquence was his most eloquent answer.

‘ Well, but,’ she said thoughtfully, ‘ I expect Ferguson does.’

He was beginning to be able to fill in some of her always tremendous elisions. He achieved it now.

‘ By Jove!’ he said in a stunned way. ‘I see — I see! You mean that Ferguson’s pot-boilers are successful simply because they’re not merely pot-boilers — to him. They’re— they’re his highwater mark, low though it is. And so he can write them with a sort of — zest. It’s that zest, you mean, that I can’t supply?’

She nodded, coloring a little distressfully. It always abashed her to have Charles put into high-sounding words things that were to her very simple thoughts. But this, undoubtedly, was the thought that she had tried to communicate to him six months ago.

‘Biddy — Biddy,’ he said absorbedly. ‘One of your pearls. That explains it, of course — but it does n’t alter the facts. If I can’t pot-boil and can’t, without disaster, do more of my own work than I do at present, what, I ask you, is to happen next?’

‘We can get married,’ said Bridget, with astonishing new boldness, ‘on a mere thousand a year.’

Charles reflected. ‘Yes,’ he conceded ; ‘ put that way, it doesn’t sound bad. But it won’t do, Biddy — it won’t do. I sent you a book to read. Have you read it?’


‘“The first duty in this world,”’ quoted Charles sternly, ‘ “ is for a man to pay his way.” Did you happen to miss that sentence?’

‘No. But you would be able to pay your way as well as you ’re doing now.’

‘A disgraceful quibble, Biddy. I should n’t, and you know it. Your way, on £750 a year, would be an altogether superior thoroughfare to mine on a third of that sum. Either I should have to sacrifice my self-respect by letting you help me out in your street, or cripple you to the point of living on a third of your income in order that you might join me in mine. And even then — I seem to remember another sentence. “Words cannot describe how far more necessary it is that a man should support his family, than that he should attain to — or preserve — distinction in the arts.” I can’t now, it is true, hope to support you, for your grandmother has made that impossible, so that all the more I really must cling to supporting myself. You do see that, my pearl-maiden, don’t you?’

She looked back at him in mutinous silence. Charles professed to misunderstand it.

‘It’s consent, then, Biddy? You’ll wait for me a little longer?’

‘No — oh, no!’ Before the threat of that she forced herself once more to the difficult point of words. ‘It’s all wrong, Charles — the whole thing.’

‘The essay?’

‘Yes. There’s another sentence: he calls writing one of the “trades of pleasing.” And — and the whole thing is written round the idea that it is the artist’s business to amuse.’

‘Yes?’ he encouraged.

‘Well, but it is n’t.’

Again his mind was able to bridge every hiatus. ‘ Well, but it is n’t! ’ How on earth had he come to miss that obvious and fatal flaw in the Stevensonian argument, and everything that depended on it? It that were true — and of course it was —

‘Pearl-maiden!’ he murmured, but absently, for he was searching his pockets for pencil and paper. When he had found them he made a note or two. Then he looked up. ‘It appears,’ he explained happily, ‘that I’ve got to rewrite Stevenson’s essay for him.’

‘ Oh! ’ she cried eagerly. ‘ Can you? Tell me.’

‘Of course I can. Plain as a pikestaff — now. “An artist’s first duty is to do his work.” Is n’t that the peg it has to hang on?’

‘Yes, yes!’ she agreed with relief. ‘Oh, Charles, I’m so glad you’re so clever.’

‘Well, I’m—! What on earth has it to do with me? Is n’t it one of your pearls?’

Positively, she thought he was laughing at her, and shrank a little. ‘ Charles! — when you know I can’t write at all, or — or even talk.’

He was swiftly and tenderly grave. ‘No, you don’t write or talk much,’ he allowed, ‘but — the things you know! So that what really puzzles me is why you don’t write my books.’

She perceived that he was serious, and so bent her mind to reflect on that.

‘Why,’ she said, feeling her way to the solution, ‘ I just know things, I suppose. There’s nothing in that; I can’t even tell which are the important things I know. But you —’ She hesitated.


She made a diffident gesture. ‘Well, you discover things, don’t you?—the way you’ve just discovered that Stevenson is all wrong.’

He discovered things — of course! Bridget knew these same things, but her very familiarity with them put her at a disadvantage in describing them. It was he, the explorer, the discoverer, who could do that. For age-old truths came to him with all the shock of newness, of personal revelation, so that when he wrote about them they could seem, even to others, indeed new. He, in short, wrote about things because he could not believe they were less new to any one than to himself; Bridget did not write about them because she could not believe they were less familiar to any one than to herself. And suddenly, upon that discovery, came understanding of the look in her eyes that he had always loved — the look of troubled wonder. At last he gauged the source of her abiding astonishment: she was amazed, not by the things he did know but by the things he did n’t. Charles made a wry face and then laughed; in that instant of comprehension a considerable amount of conceit had fallen from him forever.

‘The bull’s-eye again, Biddy—for you,’ he said.

But Bridget, intent on her end, was superbly careless of her intellectual standing in his eyes. ‘ Then you do see, Charles? And it’s all right-about us?’

He drew a deep breath on that. He did see; but only one thing could justify his acting on what he saw.

‘I have got work to do, Biddy,’ he said, with a sort of fierce yet shy challenge. If she ever reflected over that, he felt that he could no longer believe it himself.

She did not reflect over it, and she, too, could bridge gaps. ‘ Of course,’ she answered simply. ‘It’s that that makes it all right. Then we will?’

‘Get married? Ah, Biddy, I do see, and yet — it is n’t easy to think of living even in part on your money!’

She gave that time to make on her any impression of which it was capable. Then she spoke. ‘Do you really think it matters so much about money?’ she suggested. ‘As long as there happens to be enough?’ She seemed to debate with herself, and then to decide reluctantly on a necessary addition. ‘To bother so much about it,’ she said, though still with her familiar selfdistrustful hesitancy, ‘is — rather vulgar, don’t you think?’

Vulgar! He had been vulgar. It was amazing how instantaneously she made him see it. His gesture was of defeat.

‘ Yes, you ’re right once more, Biddy. I surrender!’

‘But — but not against your will, Charles?’ She flushed sensitively.

The room being still empty, Charles was able without words to answer that. Bridget put her hat straight.

‘Charles! I must fly. I shall miss the train. But — have you thought? We’ll have to tell mother and daddy what we’ve decided, won’t we?’

He groaned in dismay. ‘Heavens, yes! I’d forgotten that. And they will think I’m a rotter. Why, I’ll have to eat all my words of a few months ago, Biddy! They’ll be sick about it, won’t they? And they won’t understand.’

We understand.’ Bridget kept, with that simple unconsciousness of hers, to the point.

‘Yes, but — you know, I ’ll never be able to make it intelligible to them,’ he protested ruefully. (Nevertheless, he expected her to hope great things of his eloquence.)

She did not. ‘No, you won’t,’ she admitted. Then the ghost of a smile visited her. ‘But, Charles—’


‘It’s our wedding.’

He made a dash for her hands, but they were swiftly in her muff. ‘ Charles, I must go.’ She was on her feet, rosy and exquisitely shy once more, like an escaping dryad. Charles took her to the station.

There were, after all, two or three minutes to spare. Bridget leaned out the window of the railway carriage, and her lips parted. She was wondering whether she might, without seeming to convict him of a lack of care for her, say a word about dates. Things were going to be rather difficult for her after this, while she lived at home. But that was one of the discoveries Charles had still to make — that, while he was to have the brief discomfort of breaking their decision to her parents, she would have the longer one of living in an atmosphere of misunderstanding and disapproval until her marriage. She hesitated, and Charles, who had been a little preoccupied, too, spoke first. It was that brief discomfort of the morrow that had been engaging his attention. For if there was one weakness to which Charles was more liable than another, it was a love of standing well with robustly practical people like Mr. Shefford. Just because he was above everything a poet, he was vain of the small successes that he had in any realm removed from poetry. In such a realm he had made Mr. Shefford like him, and now he was called upon at one blow to destroy that liking. Charles’s imagination summoned up the impending interview, and he felt that, while he could bear to lose Mr. Shefford, he really could not bear to see him go. So, in a moment of base cowardice, he spoke.

‘ Biddy — about your people. I suppose it would n’t do for you just to — just to —’

‘Tell them?’ Bridget lowered her eyes swiftly, fearful of their candor. ‘I will, of course — if you like.’

And then, to his dismay and annoyance, Charles found that he did n’t and could n’t like, for it would mean that he lost thereby, not, indeed, Bridget’s love, but most surely something of her respect — as well as all of his own.

‘No, of course; I did n’t mean it,’ he murmured, ashamed. ‘I’ll come down to-morrow.’

Here was another and a disconcerting discovery: that the things you discovered had to be acted upon — lived up to. His thoughts raced along new avenues, dismissing now the particular for the general; as ever, his discovery seemed to him a remarkable novelty, and his mind began to clothe it in the new images that would presently give it, for others too, the charm of Charles and of newness.

The train jerked forward, and Charles started into awareness of it. But still there clung about his eyes the slight bewilderment of one too swiftly transported from dreams.

‘Good-bye, pearl-maiden!’ he said, walking beside the train. ‘ To-morrow! ’

And Bridget, leaning a little farther out of her window, smiled at him with her beautiful, wordless comprehension of him and his needs.

‘Good-bye — darling! ’ she whispered, and dismissed without misgiving the matter of dates. Somewhere between his discoveries, she decided, she would be able to sandwich their marriage.