The waters of change were foaming in, carrying the promise of new forms only when their destructive flood should have passed its full. He sat there, subconscious of them, but with his thoughts resolutely set on the past—as a man might ride into a wild night with his face to the tail of his galloping horse. Athwart the Victorian dykes the waters were rolling on property, manners, and morals, on melody and the old forms of art—waters bringing to his mouth a salt taste as of blood, lapping to the foot of this Highgate Hill where Victorianism lay buried. And sitting there, high up on its most individual spot, Soames—like a figure of Investment—refused their restless sounds. Instinctively he would not fight them—there was in him too much primeval wisdom, of Man the possessive animal. They would quiet down when they had fulfilled their tidal fever of dispossessing and destroying; when the creations and the properties of others were sufficiently broken and defected—they would lapse and ebb, and fresh forms would rise based on an instinct older than the fever of change—the instinct of Home.
“Je m’en fiche,” said Prosper Profond. Soames did not say “Je m’en fiche”—it was French, and the fellow was a thorn in his side—but deep down he knew that change was only the interval of death between two forms of life, destruction necessary to make room for fresher property. What though the board was up, and cosiness to let?—some one would come along and take it again some day.
And only one thing really troubled him, sitting there—the melancholy craving in his heart—because the sun was like enchantment on his face and on the clouds and on the golden birch leaves, and the wind’s rustle was so gentle, and the yewtree green so dark, and the sickle of a moon pale in the sky.
He might wish and wish and never get it—the beauty and the loving in the world!
THE DARK FLOWER
by John Galsworthy
“Take the flower from my breast, I pray thee,
Take the flower too from out my tresses;
And then go hence, for see, the night is fair,
The stars rejoice to watch thee on thy way.”
—From “The Bard of the Dimbovitza.”
He walked along Holywell that afternoon of early June with his short gown drooping down his arms, and no cap on his thick dark hair. A youth of middle height, and built as if he had come of two very different strains, one sturdy, the other wiry and light. His face, too, was a curious blend, for, though it was strongly formed, its expression was rather soft and moody. His eyes—dark grey, with a good deal of light in them, and very black lashes—had a way of looking beyond what they saw, so that he