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Henry, as he sat on his bed, looking before him out of the little window across to the corner gables of the Comedy Theatre, appeared very much the same crude and callow youth that he had seemed on going up to Oxford just before the war.

"Why, Millie, what has come to you lately? You're not at all as you used to be. You're always speaking contemptuously of people nowadays. And you're not looking well. You're tired, darling"

In such English weather the square English house was its loveliest. The Georgian wing with its old red brick, its square stout windows, was material, comfortable, homely, speaking of thick-set Jacobean squires and tankards of ale, dogs and horses, and long pipes of heavy tobacco. The little Elizabethan wing, where were the chapel and the empty rooms, touched Henry as though it were alive and were speaking to him. This old part of the house had in its rear two rooms that were still older, a barn used now as a garage with an attic above it that was Saxon.

Mary Cass had come in and very quietly had laid on her forehead a wet handkerchief with eau-de-cologne. Ah! That was better! That was cool. She faded away down into space where there was trouble and disorder and pain, trouble in which she had some share but was too lazy to inquire what.

"What do you mean, Bunny?" asked Millie.

"Moby-Dick."

FIRST BRUSH WITH THE ENEMY

"But you're not bad-lookin'," she said. "Not at all. It's an interestin' face. You look as though you were a poet or something. It's your clothes. Why do you dress so badly?"

She who had always been so proud and fearless was now full of fear. She knew that when he was not thwarted he was still[Pg 192] charming, ardent, affectionate, her loverand so she did not thwart him.

"You don't look that. I don't want to be inquisitive, butdid you know anything about these people before you came here?"

"If I weren't?" said Henry, blushing. Of all things he hated most to be called a prig.

"I must be going," he said. "Important engagement."

The other world could lightly be termed the world of the Imagination, and yet it was so much more, so much more than that. Christina belonged to it absolutely, and so did her horrible mother and the horrible old man Mr. Leishman. So did his silly story at Chapter XV., so did the old Duncombe letters,[Pg 206] so did the place Duncombe, so did Piccadilly Circus in certain moods, and the whole of London on certain days. So did many dreams that he had (and he did not want Mr. Freud, thank you, to explain them away for him), so did all his thoughts of Garth-in-Roselands and Glebeshire, so did the books of Galleon and Hans Andersen, and the author of Lord Jim, and la Motte, Fouqu, and nearly all poetry; so did the voice of a Danish singer whom he had heard one chance evening at a Queen's Hall Concert, and several second-hand bookshops that he knew, and many, many other things, moments, emotions that thronged the world. You could say that he was simply gathering his emotions together and packing them away and calling them in the mass this separate world. But it was not so. There were many emotions, many people whom he loved, many desires, ambitions, possessions that did not belong to this world. And Millie, for instance, complete and vital though she was, with plenty of imagination, did not know that this world existed. Could he only find a clue to it how happy he would be! One moment would be enough. If for one single instant the heavens would open and he could see and could say then: "By this moment of vision I will live for ever! I know now that this other world exists and is external, and that one day I shall enter into it completely." He fanciedindeed he liked to fancythat his adventure with Christina would, before it closed, offer him this vision. Meanwhile his state was that of a man shut into a room with the blinds down, the doors locked, but hearing beyond the wall sounds that came again and again to assure him that he would not always be in that roomand shadows moved behind the blind.