Saint's Progress eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 367 pages of information about Saint's Progress.
At the entrance to the Park she saw him, fifty yards in front, dawdling along.  And, as if she had been his shadow lengthened out to that far distance, she moved behind him.  Slowly, always at that distance, she followed him under the plane-trees, along the Park railings, past St. James’s Palace, into Pall Mall.  He went up some steps, and vanished into his Club.  It was the end.  She looked up at the building; a monstrous granite tomb, all dark.  An emptied cab was just moving from the door.  She got in.  “Camelot Mansions, St. John’s Wood.”  And braced against the cushions, panting, and clenching her hands, she thought:  ’Well, I’ve seen him again.  Hard crust’s better than no bread.  Oh, God!  All finished—­not a crumb, not a crumb!  Vive-la, vive-la, vive-la ve.  Vive-la compagnie!’


Fort had been lying there about an hour, sleeping and awake, before that visit:  He had dreamed a curious and wonderfully emotionalising dream.  A long grey line, in a dim light, neither of night nor morning, the whole length of the battle-front in France, charging in short drives, which carried the line a little forward, with just a tiny pause and suck-back; then on again irresistibly, on and on; and at each rush, every voice, his own among them, shouted “Hooray! the English!  Hooray! the English!” The sensation of that advancing tide of dim figures in grey light, the throb and roar, the wonderful, rhythmic steady drive of it, no more to be stopped than the waves of an incoming tide, was gloriously fascinating; life was nothing, death nothing.  “Hooray, the English!” In that dream, he was his country, he was every one of that long charging line, driving forward in. those great heaving pulsations, irresistible, on and on.  Out of the very centre of this intoxicating dream he had been dragged by some street noise, and had closed his eyes again, in the vain hope that he might dream it on to its end.  But it came no more; and lighting his pipe, he lay there wondering at its fervid, fantastic realism.  Death was nothing, if his country lived and won.  In waking hours he never had quite that single-hearted knowledge of himself.  And what marvellously real touches got mixed into the fantastic stuff of dreams, as if something were at work to convince the dreamer in spite of himself—­“Hooray!” not “Hurrah!” Just common “Hooray!” And “the English,” not the literary “British.”  And then the soft flower had struck his forehead, and Leila’s voice cried:  “Jimmy!”

When she left him, his thought was just a tired:  ’Well, so it’s begun again!’ What did it matter, since common loyalty and compassion cut him off from what his heart desired; and that desire was absurd, as little likely of attainment as the moon.  What did it matter?  If it gave her any pleasure to love him, let it go on!  Yet, all the time that he was walking across under the plane trees, Noel seemed to walk in front of him, just out of reach, so that he ached with the thought that he would never catch her up, and walk beside her.

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Saint's Progress from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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