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Mr. Lauriston had promised his wife that he would not go far, She was all for packing up the moment she had finished breakfast, during which meal she had stated her case with such emphasis and conviction that there was positively no more to be said by anybody. Her husband, indeed, had mildly recorded his opinion that there was no harm in a young man's diving off his own house-boat at so early an hour in the morning, especially as that young man could not have known that there was a lady in the vicinity who might object to his so doing. But Mrs. Lauriston paid no attention to this view of the matter. The shock had gone too deep for argument or reason. It was one of those cases in which the marwellous gift of intuition, which is the special privilege of her sex, shows itself superior to all the ordinary methods by which other human beings proceed to action. Mrs. Lauriston knew it was right to move, so move she would; and her party would move with her. On this, therefore, there was no possibility of dispute, but in the matter of packing up and starting forth the united efforts of the party could effect some small modification. “Where,” asked her husband after conceding the main point, “are we to move to?” “And what,” asked Cicely, “is the good of beginning to pack up until we know that we can move somewhere?” “We had better find a place at once,” said Agatha. This suggestion seemed sensible and it was agreed that two search-parties should be sent out; one, consisting of Mr. Lauriston and Agatha, was to take the boat and go down stream, the other, consisting of Martin, was to go up stream along the bank.
Heports were made at lunch. Both parties had found spots that seemed suitable, and Martin had even found another farm which would supply them with provisions. They decided, therefore, to act on his report and to move the camp to a nook on the bank of another back-water Some two miles higher up and to charter the farmer's wagon for that purpose; it appeared that the lane would round to a point but a field away from the new camping-ground, a fact which materially lightened the task of transport. After this, Cicely, as has been seen, announced her intention of fishing and set out; when she had gone Mr. Lauriston in spite of the fatigues of the morning said something about a walk. a short one in deference to his wife's anxiety about the packing.
He was rather glad that he had not been obliged to meet Miss Cicely's expressive eyes as he mentioned what he was going to do; she knew too much, and he felt that she was amused at his behavior. However much one may absolve oneself to oneself, one still does not like one's righteous dealing to be regarded with amused suspicion by others. There might also in the back of his mind have been a hardly realized impression that his pretty niece a little despised what she must consider such crooked dealing. And so Mr. Lauriston set out for the house-boat a Second time unsuspected. His object in going may readily be guessed; he felt that he owed it to the hospitable young men at least to say good-bye. He had appreciated Charles's tact in not returning his call. It argued a rare power of sympathy in that young man that he had accepted the intimation, which it had been impossible to give in so many words, that Mr. Lauriston for domestic reasons must only be known as you know a man at the club, the house-boat being the club. Moreover, it need not necessarily be goodbye. Two miles are but two miles,< if one is aware of the fact; but if he merely disappeared without informing them that he was going they would not be aware of the fact, and then two miles are no better than two hundred, —and besides, they might feel hurt. Some such thoughts as these passed through his mind as he followed in Cicely's track rather later. He walked past the little holly-tree and the useful pollard without suspecting what secrets of Cicely's they could reveal, and when he reached the mill he turned to the left instead of to the right or he might have discovered yet more of her secrets. But at that moment Mr. Lauriston was fully occupied with his own. When he reached the house-boat he was disappointed to find it deserted. Even the faithful William, whom somehow he had come to regard as a kind of fixture like the fire-place, was absent. Mr. Lauriston went close to the vessel and coughed rather loudly, thinking that some one might be inside, but in vain. He wondered whether he should leave a card on the table to show that he had intended to do the right thing; but there were several objections to that course. A plain card might be taken as an invitation to return his call, as a sign that the domestic disabilties, so tactfully appreciated, had been removed, and that was far from being the case; he might put P. P. C. in the corner, but that would not be strictly true, and he did not want to take formal leave; he might scribble a line or two to explain matters, but a scribbled line or two have often constituted an incriminating document before now, especially to married men. No, Mr. Lauriston decided that he could not leave a card. Rather disconsolate he determined to ascend the knoll and gain the high road; his walk must be a real one after all. The ascent was steep, and he
stopped more than once to mop his brow and rest. About two-thirds of the way up he paused under the shade of a small spreading oak, and turned to glance at the view before him. Suddenly he became conscious that something was moving over his head and looked up. To his surprise lie saw a pair of white canvas shoes dangling over a branch some twenty feet above him. Allowing his eye to travel upwards he made out the figure of a man, whose face in the shadow he could not at first distinguish; presently, however, his eyes became more accustomed to the shade and he was able to trace the features of Sir Seymour Haddon, who appeared to be about to light a cigarette. “Hullo,” said Mr. Lauriston more than a little astonished. Charles paused in the lighting of his cigarette and looked down. “Hullo,” he returned. “Oh, it's Mr. Lauriston. How are you? It's a nice day, isn't it?” 'Mr. Lauriston felt a natural curiosity as to Charles's movements. He could not remember ever to have seen any person of mature age up in a tree before; and Charles, though fairly young, was certainly no longer a boy. “Are you—bird-nesting?” he asked doubtfully. “No,” said Charles, “I’m looking for a Gladstone bag.” “A what "' said Mr. Lauriston Innore astonished than ever. “A Gladstone bag,” returned Charles, “but it isn't here. Wait a minute: I'm coming down.” He quickly descended from his perch, letting himself down from branch to branch with an agility that Mr. Lauriston envied. “You haven't seen a Gladstone bag about, I suppose?” said Charles as he regained the earth. Mr. Lauriston denied having seen such a thing rather emphatically and cast a dubious eye on his interrogator. “I have mislaid
one," said Charles in explanation, cal sketch of the position they proposed He hesitated for a moment as to to occupy, which Charles faithfully whether he should take Mr. Lauriston committed to memory. "Two miles more fully into his confidence. But is no distance," commented Charles. after all, perhaps, he hardly knew him “You'll always know where to find suficiently well. The victim of a con- us. It'll be just far enough to make spiracy may be interesting but he is you thirsty." Charles spoke from his hardly heroic, and Charles wished to head rather than his heart; he himself be heroic in his relations with the had no objection to running or swimother camp. He decided not to be too ming one mile, but he hated walking expansive, though there was no harın two. in enlisting Mr. Lauriston's uncon- Mr. Lauriston was pleased.' This scious aid; in a case of this sort every was exactly the spirit in which he pair of eyes is of value. "If you had hoped to be met. “Thanks very should see a Gladstone bag anywhere much,” he said; "you may be sure I round here," he said nonchalantly, shall turn up again some fine day.” "you'll know it belongs to me."
Then in the generosity of his heart inMr. Lauriston promised hurriedly; spired perhaps by a sip of the cooling he was not sure whether Charles was beverage he added: "If you should intoxicated or mad, but in either case ever be in our neighborhood,-of course, it seemed wise to humor him, "Are you know," Mr. Lauriston realyou going anywhere in particular?" ized almost at once what he was sayasked the object of suspicion. "If not, ing and swallowed the rest of the sencome back and have a drink."
tence hurriedly. Mr. Lauriston did not refuse. When Charles, however, faithfully comone is doubtful of the sobriety or san. mitted the semi-invitation to memory, ity of a man whose physical strength though he had no immediate intention is at least twice as great as one's of availing himself of it; but the time, own, one does not refuse to oblige him he fondly reflected, would come and in trifles. Mr. Lauriston, moreover, when it did-a thought struck him. was thirsty. They soon reached the "By the way, if we should happen to encampment and seated themselves move too, you'll always be able to find comfortably each with a cooling bever- us. A houseboat can't be hidden very age in a long glass. Mr. Lauriston well.” accepted a cigarette, and soon forgot "Have you thought of moving?" Mr. bis suspicions of Charles's mental Lauriston asked. equilibrium. His host showed him "Oh, only some vague talk." Charles self eminently sane, and told him one dismissed the notion with a shrug. "It or two things connected with the City isn't probable, but one never knows." that were new to him; he did not “Well, I must be going back," said of course know that they were also Mr. Lauriston getting up slowly. new to Charles.
Charles accompanied him as far as Finally Mr. Lauriston reached a the stile. “There's always a chair, a point at which he could say that which glass, and a cigarette here," he said; he came to say. “We are moving our "don't forget. Oh and, I say, if you camp to another spot to-morrow," he should happen upon a Gladstone bag announced casually.
let me know, will you? I should be "Really?” said Charles. "Are you go awfully obliged." ing far away?"
Mr. Lauriston promised again and Mr. Lauriston gave a brief geographi- returned to his camp slowly, wonder
ing what on earth he meant. Was the young man a little touched? And yet
he had talked sensibly enough and even told him one or two new things about the City. Then it occurred to him that the words Gladstone bag might
be some new slang that he had not heard, might mean cigarette-case or something. And yet, a cigarette-case in an oak-tree! Mr. Lauriston was decidedly puzzled.
(To be continued.)
A PLEA FOR THE POPULAR IN LITERATURE.
Readers of foreign books upon English literature must surely have been struck by the conspicuous place which, in most of them, is assigned to Byron. In the volume by Professor Brandes' which deals with Wordsworth, Keats, Shelley, Coleridge, Scott, Landor, Moore, as well as the lesser stars of the early nineteenth century, one hundred and fifty pages out of three hundred and fifty are occupied with Byron. To this foreign critic, Byron is the true “passionate personality” of the English movement, the man who was in the main stream of the world's thought, and who is the final expression of the British poetic spirit of this period. In his closing summary he tells us that, while Wordsworth, Scott, Keats, Shelley, and Coleridge were all in their different degrees limited and provincial, Byron broke all bounds and flooded the world with his song.
Taine is no less enthusiastic. Byron is to him “the greatest and most English” of the men of his time—“so great and so English that from him alone we shall learn more truths of his country and his age than from all the rest together.” “Into what mediocrity and platitude,” he cries, “sinks the Faust of Goethe compared with Byron's Manfred!” Here are judgments which in certain striking respects run counter to modern criticism in this country. If one must not say that Byron is under a cloud, he is at all events counted to be one of the faultiest of great poets, and many modern writers speak of his vehement and ill-balanced opinions as fatal or, at least, a serious drawback to the true spirit of poetry. These foreign critics, however, sweep aside mere literary criticism and apply a test of character and energy which not only puts Byron at the head of the English movement, but makes him a supreme leader of European thought. Which of these judgments is more likely to stand the test of time need not be discussed at this moment. But the fact that foreign writers of eminence take this exalted view of Byron's place in literature, and take it by appealing to the substance of his poetry, surely suggests certain reflections on the literature and criticism of our own day. For it is precisely these qualities that Taine and Brandes find so admirable in Byron which have for some years past been in disrepute among English writers. No one in these days “breaks the silence with shrill notes which make the air ring.” The modern man of letters, on the contrary, is at special pains to disclaim the idea that he has a mission in life or anything momentous to say which is not already familiar to the man in the street. Moralizing, we are perpetually told, is fatal to literature, as of course it is, if by moralizing we mean the dull and unskillful hammering of the commonplace. The axiom, however, takes on a meaning which actually shuts off the literary artist from the greater matters of life and conduct. Books on style proceed from beginning to end on the assumption that the literary art consists wholly in the light choice of words and their scholarly arrangement in graceful patterns. And being thus preoccupied with word-craft, a great many modern writers find it easier to write good sentences than good chapters or good books. They lack what Frenchmen call the esprit de suite, that grasp of the whole and sense of orderly development which belong to the great theme in the hands of the master. The critic, meanwhile, judges not of what is said, but of how it is said, and is even apt to take the narrowest view of this accomplishment. It follows almost inevitably from this conception of the writer's art that the great mass of the public become estranged from literature. In these days we have writers with immense circulations whom the literary people declare to be of no account, and literary people of high accomplishment whom the great public refuses to consider. A small minority speak habitually of the literary art as if it were a secret process which is hidden from their neighbors, and their neighbors retaliate by showing complete indifference to what this minority calls literature. That this gulf must necessarily be fixed between the few and the many
in their appreciation of literature, and that the common people must demand common things while the men of letters cultivate subtleties and delicacies which the great majority cannot appreciate, is an assumption so frequently made that it has come to be regarded as an axiom of criticism; and the writings of the elect are full of lamentation and woe at the alleged narrowing of the circle in which their refined wares find acceptance. And yet, if one looks back on the history of literature, it is an assumption for which there is very little warrant; so little, indeed, that to insist on it seems, if one may judge from the past, to be the note of an inferior school, and not, as so many writers appear to take for granted, of the great schools—a note of Euphuism rather than of Elizabethanism. Judged by its power of surviving, Euphuism has no advantage over the most popular method in authorship. The stylists of the year before last are in the same grave with the popular novelists whom they despised, and the critic of to-day scarcely troubles even to drop a tear over them. For though style is, as Stevenson truly said, a great antiseptic, it can only do its work if there is a body worth preserving, and then it acts silently and imperceptibly. Of course, it is true that the mass of people look first to the thing said rather than to the manner in which it is said; but it is a mistake to suppose that the manner does not make its appeal to the reader because he is unable to analyze its virtues. Style in its perfection is like the sword in the Arabian Nights, which decapitated its victim, and left him unaware of what had happened. till he shook his head, and it rolled on to the floor. So far then, as it depends upon style, the virtue of being above the heads of the people belongs not to the best, but only to the second-best literature.