‘What exactly,’ I asked him, ‘do you mean by that?’
Jane yawned. ‘I’m going to take my things off,’ she said, and went out of the room and up the next flight of stairs to her bedroom. It was her contemptuous way of indicating that the situation was, in fact, no situation at all, but merely a rather boring conversation.
As, though I appreciated her attitude, I couldn’t agree with her, I repeated my question.
Hobart added to his smile a shrug.
TOLD BY LEILA YORKE
THE TERRIBLE TRAGEDY ON THE STAIRS
Love and truth are the only things that count. I have often thought that they are like two rafts on the stormy sea of life, which otherwise would swamp and drown us struggling human beings. If we follow these two stars patiently, they will guide us at last into port. Love—the love of our kind—the undying love of a mother for her children—the love, so gloriously exhibited lately, of a soldier for his country—the eternal love between a man and a woman, which counts the world well lost—these are the clues through the wilderness. And Truth, the Truth which cries in the market-place with a loud voice and will not be hid, the Truth which sacrifices comfort, joy, even life itself, for the sake of a clear vision, the Truth which is far stranger than fiction—this is Love’s very twin.
For Love’s sake, then, and for Truth’s, I am writing this account of a very sad and very dreadful period in the lives of those close and dear to me. I want to be very frank, and to hide nothing. I think, in my books, I am almost too frank sometimes; I give offence, and hurt people’s egotism and vanity by speaking out; but it is the way I have to write; I cannot soften down facts to please. Just as I cannot restrain my sense of the ridiculous, even though it may offend those who take themselves solemnly; I am afraid I am naughty about such people, and often give offence; it is one of the penalties attached to the gift of humour. Percy often tells me I should be more careful; but my dear Percy’s wonderful caution, that has helped to make him what he is, is a thing that no mere reckless woman can hope to emulate.
I am diverging from the point. I must begin with that dreadful evening of the 4th of September last. Clare was dining with a friend in town, and stopping at Jane’s house in Hampstead for the night. Percy and I were spending a quiet evening at our house at Potter’s Bar. We were both busy after dinner; he was in his study, and I was in my den, as I call it, writing another instalment of ‘Rhoda’s Gift’ for the Evening Hustle, I find I write my best after dinner; my brain gets almost feverishly stimulated. My doctor tells me I ought not to work late, it is not fair on my nerves, but I think every writer has to live more or less on his or her nervous capital, it is the way of the reckless, squandering, thriftless tribe we are.