Beyond

Beyond

BEYOND JOHN GALSWORTHY Part I I At the door of St. George's registry office Charles Clare Winton strolled forward in the wake of the taxi-cab that was bearing his daughter away with "the fiddler fellow" she had married. His sense of decorum forbade his walking with Nurse Betty--the only other witness of the wedding. A stout woman in a highly emotional condition would have been an incongruous companion to his slim upright figure moving with just that unexaggerated swing and balance becoming to a lancer of the old school even if he has been on the retired list for sixteen years. Poor Betty! He thought of her with irritated sympathy--she need not have given way to tears on the door-step. She might well feel lost now Gyp was gone but not so lost as himself! His pale-gloved hand--the one real hand he had for his right hand had been amputated at the wrist--twisted vexedly at the small grizzling moustache lifting itself from the corners of his firm lips. On this grey February day he wore no overcoat; faithful to the absolute almost shamefaced quietness of that wedding he had not even donned black coat and silk hat but wore a blue suit and a hard black felt. The instinct of a soldier and hunting man to exhibit no sign whatever of emotion did not desert him this dark day of his life; but his grey-hazel eyes kept contracting staring fiercely contracting again; and at moments as if overpowered by some deep feeling they darkened and seemed to draw back in his head. His face was narrow and weathered and thin-cheeked with a clean-cut jaw small ears hair darker than the moustache but touched at the side wings with grey--the face of a man of action self-reliant resourceful. And his bearing was that of one who has always been a bit of a dandy and paid attention to "form" yet been conscious sometimes that there were things beyond. A man who preserving all the precision of a type yet had in him a streak of something that was not typical. Such often have tragedy in their pasts. Making his way towards the park he turned into Mount Street. There was the house still though the street had been very different then--the house he had passed up and down up and down in the fog like a ghost that November afternoon like a cast-out dog in such awful unutterable agony of mind twenty-three years ago when Gyp was born. And then to be told at the door--he with no right to enter he loving as he believed man never loved woman-- to be told at the door that SHE was dead--dead in bearing what he and she alone knew was their child! Up and down in the fog hour after hour knowing her time was upon her; and at last to be told that! Of all fates that befall man surely the most awful is to love too much. Queer that his route should take him past the very house to-day after this new bereavement! Accursed luck--that gout which had sent him to Wiesbaden last September! Accursed luck that Gyp had ever set eyes on this fellow Fiorsen with his fatal fiddle! Certainly not since Gyp had come to live with him fifteen years ago had he felt so forlorn and fit for nothing. To-morrow he would get back to Mildenham and see what hard riding would do. Without Gyp--to be without Gyp! A fiddler! A chap who had never been on a horse in his life! And with his crutch-handled cane he switched viciously at the air as though carving a man in two. His club near Hyde Park Corner had never seemed to him so desolate. From sheer force of habit he went into the card-room. The afternoon had so darkened that electric light already burned and there were the usual dozen of players seated among the shaded gleams falling decorously on dark-wood tables on the backs of chairs on cards and tumblers the little gilded coffee-cups the polished nails of fingers holding cigars. A crony challenged him to piquet. He sat down listless. That three-legged whist--bridge-- had always offended his fastidiousness--a mangled short cut of a game! Poker had something blatant in it. Piquet though out of fashion remained for him the only game worth playing--the only game which still had style. He held good cards and rose the winner of five pounds that he would willingly have paid to escape the boredom of the bout. Where would they be by now? Past Newbury; Gyp sitting opposite that Swedish fellow with his greenish wildcat's eyes. Something furtive and so foreign about him! A mess--if he were any judge of horse or man! Thank God he had tied Gyp's money up--every farthing! And an emotion that was almost jealousy swept him at the thought of the fellow's arms round his soft-haired dark-eyed daughter--that pretty willowy creature so like in face and limb to her whom he had loved so desperately. Eyes followed him when he left the card-room for he was one who inspired in other men a kind of admiration--none could say exactly why. Many quite as noted for general good sportsmanship attracted no such attention. Was it "style" or was it the streak of something not quite typical--the brand left on him by the past? Abandoning the club he walked slowly along the railings of Piccadilly towards home that house in Bury Street St. James's which had been his London abode since he was quite young--one of the few in the street that had been left untouched by the general passion for puffing down and building up which had spoiled half London in his opinion. A man more silent than anything on earth with the soft quick dark eyes of a woodcock and a long greenish knitted waistcoat black cutaway and tight trousers strapped over his boots opened the door. "I shan't go out again Markey. Mrs. Markey must give me some dinner. Anything'll do." Markey signalled that he had heard and those brown eyes under eyebrows meeting and forming one long dark line took his master in from head to heel. He had already nodded last night when his wife had said the gov'nor would take it hard. Retiring to the back premises he jerked his head toward the street and made a motion upward with his hand by which Mrs. Markey an astute woman understood that she had to go out and shop because the gov'nor was dining in. When she had gone Markey sat down opposite Betty Gyp's old nurse. The stout woman was still crying in a quiet way. It gave him the fair hump for he felt inclined to howl like a dog himself. After watching her broad rosy tearful face in silence ...