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Chapter 1

DARE AND HAVILL.

Young Dare sat thoughtfully at the window of the studio in
which Somerset had left him, till the gay scene beneath became
embrowned by the twilight, and the brilliant red stripes of
the marquees, the bright sunshades, the many-tinted costumes
of the ladies, were indistinguishable from the blacks and
greys of the masculine contingent moving among them. He had
occasionally glanced away from the outward prospect to study a
small old volume that lay before him on the drawing-board.
Near scrutiny revealed the book to bear the title 'Moivre's
Doctrine of Chances.'

The evening had been so still that Dare had heard
conversations from below with a clearness unsuspected by the
speakers themselves; and among the dialogues which thus
reached his ears was that between Somerset and Havill on their
professional rivalry. When they parted, and Somerset had
mingled with the throng, Havill went to a seat at a distance.
Afterwards he rose, and walked away; but on the bench he had
quitted there remained a small object resembling a book or
leather case.

Dare put away the drawing-board and plotting-scales which he
had kept before him during the evening as a reason for his
presence at that post of espial, locked up the door, and went
downstairs. Notwithstanding his dismissal by Somerset, he was
so serene in countenance and easy in gait as to make it a fair
conjecture that professional servitude, however profitable,
was no necessity with him. The gloom now rendered it
practicable for any unbidden guest to join Paula's assemblage
without criticism, and Dare walked boldly out upon the lawn.
The crowd on the grass was rapidly diminishing; the tennis-
players had relinquished sport; many people had gone in to
dinner or supper; and many others, attracted by the cheerful
radiance of the candles, were gathering in the large tent that
had been lighted up for dancing.

Dare went to the garden-chair on which Havill had been seated,
and found the article left behind to be a pocket-book.
Whether because it was unclasped and fell open in his hand, or
otherwise, he did not hesitate to examine the contents. Among
a mass of architect's customary memoranda occurred a draft of
the letter abusing Paula as an iconoclast or Vandal by blood,
which had appeared in the newspaper: the draft was so
interlined and altered as to bear evidence of being the
original conception of that ungentlemanly attack.

The lad read the letter, smiled, and strolled about the
grounds, only met by an occasional pair of individuals of
opposite sex in deep conversation, the state of whose emotions
led them to prefer the evening shade to the publicity and
glare of the tents and rooms. At last he observed the white
waistcoat of the man he sought.

'Mr. Havill, the architect, I believe?' said Dare. 'The
author of most of the noteworthy buildings in this
neighbourhood?'

Havill assented blandly.

'I have long wished for the pleasure of your acquaintance, and
now an accident helps me to make it. This pocket-book, I
think, is yours?'

Havill clapped his hand to his pocket, examined the book Dare
held out to him, and took it with thanks. 'I see I am
speaking to the artist, archaeologist, Gothic photographer--
Mr. Dare.'

'Professor Dare.'

'Professor? Pardon me, I should not have guessed it--so young
as you are.'

'Well, it is merely ornamental; and in truth, I drop the title
in England, particularly under present circumstances.'

'Ah--they are peculiar, perhaps? Ah, I remember. I have
heard that you are assisting a gentleman in preparing a design
in opposition to mine--a design--'

'"That he is not competent to prepare himself," you were
perhaps going to add?'

'Not precisely that.'

'You could hardly be blamed for such words. However, you are
mistaken. I did assist him to gain a little further insight
into the working of architectural plans; but our views on art
are antagonistic, and I assist him no more. Mr. Havill, it
must be very provoking to a well-established professional man
to have a rival sprung at him in a grand undertaking which he
had a right to expect as his own.'

Professional sympathy is often accepted from those whose
condolence on any domestic matter would be considered
intrusive. Havill walked up and down beside Dare for a few
moments in silence, and at last showed that the words had
told, by saying: 'Every one may have his opinion. Had I been
a stranger to the Power family, the case would have been
different; but having been specially elected by the lady's
father as a competent adviser in such matters, and then to be
degraded to the position of a mere competitor, it wounds me to
the quick--'

'Both in purse and in person, like the ill-used hostess of the
Garter.'

'A lady to whom I have been a staunch friend,' continued
Havill, not heeding the interruption.

At that moment sounds seemed to come from Dare which bore a
remarkable resemblance to the words, 'Ho, ho, Havill!' It was
hardly credible, and yet, could he be mistaken? Havill
turned. Dare's eye was twisted comically upward.

'What does that mean?' said Havill coldly, and with some
amazement.

'Ho, ho, Havill! "Staunch friend" is good--especially after
"an iconoclast and Vandal by blood"--"monstrosity in the form
of a Greek temple," and so on, eh!'

'Sir, you have the advantage of me. Perhaps you allude to
that anonymous letter?'

'O-ho, Havill!' repeated the boy-man, turning his eyes yet
further towards the zenith. 'To an outsider such conduct
would be natural; but to a friend who finds your pocket-book,
and looks into it before returning it, and kindly removes a
leaf bearing the draft of a letter which might injure you if
discovered there, and carefully conceals it in his own pocket-
-why, such conduct is unkind!' Dare held up the abstracted
leaf.

Havill trembled. 'I can explain,' he began.

'It is not necessary: we are friends,' said Dare assuringly.

Havill looked as if he would like to snatch the leaf away, but
altering his mind, he said grimly: 'Well, I take you at your
word: we are friends. That letter was concocted before I
knew of the competition: it was during my first disgust, when
I believed myself entirely supplanted.'

'I am not in the least surprised. But if she knew YOU to be
the writer!'

'I should be ruined as far as this competition is concerned,'
said Havill carelessly. 'Had I known I was to be invited to
compete, I should not have written it, of course. To be
supplanted is hard; and thereby hangs a tale.'

'Another tale? You astonish me.'

'Then you have not heard the scandal, though everybody is
talking about it.'

'A scandal implies indecorum.'

'Well, 'tis indecorous. Her infatuated partiality for him is
patent to the eyes of a child; a man she has only known a few
weeks, and one who obtained admission to her house in the most
irregular manner! Had she a watchful friend beside her,
instead of that moonstruck Mrs. Goodman, she would be
cautioned against bestowing her favours on the first
adventurer who appears at her door. It is a pity, a great
pity!'

'O, there is love-making in the wind?' said Dare slowly.
'That alters the case for me. But it is not proved?'

'It can easily be proved.'

'I wish it were, or disproved.'

'You have only to come this way to clear up all doubts.'

Havill took the lad towards the tent, from which the strains
of a waltz now proceeded, and on whose sides flitting shadows
told of the progress of the dance. The companions looked in.
The rosy silk lining of the marquee, and the numerous coronas
of wax lights, formed a canopy to a radiant scene which, for
two at least of those who composed it, was an intoxicating
one. Paula and Somerset were dancing together.

'That proves nothing,' said Dare.

'Look at their rapt faces, and say if it does not,' sneered
Havill.

Dare objected to a judgment based on looks alone.

'Very well--time will show,' said the architect, dropping the
tent-curtain. . . . 'Good God! a girl worth fifty thousand
and more a year to throw herself away upon a fellow like that-
-she ought to be whipped.'

'Time must NOT show!' said Dare.

'You speak with emphasis.'

'I have reason. I would give something to be sure on this
point, one way or the other. Let us wait till the dance is
over, and observe them more carefully. Horensagen ist halb
gelogen! Hearsay is half lies.'

Sheet-lightnings increased in the northern sky, followed by
thunder like the indistinct noise of a battle. Havill and
Dare retired to the trees. When the dance ended Somerset and
his partner emerged from the tent, and slowly moved towards
the tea-house. Divining their goal Dare seized Havill's arm;
and the two worthies entered the building unseen, by first
passing round behind it. They seated themselves in the back
part of the interior, where darkness prevailed.

As before related, Paula and Somerset came and stood within
the door. When the rain increased they drew themselves
further inward, their forms being distinctly outlined to the
gaze of those lurking behind by the light from the tent
beyond. But the hiss of the falling rain and the lowness of
their tones prevented their words from being heard.

'I wish myself out of this!' breathed Havill to Dare, as he
buttoned his coat over his white waistcoat. 'I told you it
was true, but you wouldn't believe. I wouldn't she should
catch me here eavesdropping for the world!'

'Courage, Man Friday,' said his cooler comrade.

Paula and her lover backed yet further, till the hem of her
skirt touched Havill's feet. Their attitudes were sufficient
to prove their relations to the most obstinate Didymus who
should have witnessed them. Tender emotions seemed to pervade
the summer-house like an aroma. The calm ecstasy of the
condition of at least one of them was not without a coercive
effect upon the two invidious spectators, so that they must
need have remained passive had they come there to disturb or
annoy. The serenity of Paula was even more impressive than
the hushed ardour of Somerset: she did not satisfy curiosity
as Somerset satisfied it; she piqued it. Poor Somerset had
reached a perfectly intelligible depth--one which had a single
blissful way out of it, and nine calamitous ones; but Paula
remained an enigma all through the scene.

The rain ceased, and the pair moved away. The enchantment
worked by their presence vanished, the details of the meeting
settled down in the watchers' minds, and their tongues were
loosened. Dare, turning to Havill, said, 'Thank you; you have
done me a timely turn to-day.'

'What! had you hopes that way?' asked Havill satirically.

'I! The woman that interests my heart has yet to be born,'
said Dare, with a steely coldness strange in such a juvenile,
and yet almost convincing. 'But though I have not personal
hopes, I have an objection to this courtship. Now I think we
may as well fraternize, the situation being what it is?'

'What is the situation?"

'He is in your way as her architect; he is in my way as her
lover: we don't want to hurt him, but we wish him clean out
of the neighbourhood.'

'I'll go as far as that,' said Havill.

'I have come here at some trouble to myself, merely to
observe: I find I ought to stay to act.'

'If you were myself, a married man with people dependent on
him, who has had a professional certainty turned to a
miserably remote contingency by these events, you might say
you ought to act; but what conceivable difference it can make
to you who it is the young lady takes to her heart and home, I
fail to understand.'

'Well, I'll tell you--this much at least. I want to keep the
place vacant for another man.'

'The place?'

'The place of husband to Miss Power, and proprietor of that
castle and domain.'

'That's a scheme with a vengeance. Who is the man?'

'It is my secret at present.'

'Certainly.' Havill drew a deep breath, and dropped into a
tone of depression. 'Well, scheme as you will, there will be
small advantage to me,' he murmured. 'The castle commission
is as good as gone, and a bill for two hundred pounds falls
due next week.'

'Cheer up, heart! My position, if you only knew it, has ten
times the difficulties of yours, since this disagreeable
discovery. Let us consider if we can assist each other. The
competition drawings are to be sent in--when?'

'In something over six weeks--a fortnight before she returns
from the Scilly Isles, for which place she leaves here in a
few days.'

'O, she goes away--that's better. Our lover will be working
here at his drawings, and she not present.'

'Exactly. Perhaps she is a little ashamed of the intimacy.'

'And if your design is considered best by the committee, he
will have no further reason for staying, assuming that they
are not definitely engaged to marry by that time?'

'I suppose so,' murmured Havill discontentedly. 'The
conditions, as sent to me, state that the designs are to be
adjudicated on by three members of the Institute called in for
the purpose; so that she may return, and have seemed to show
no favour.'

'Then it amounts to this: your design MUST be best. It must
combine the excellences of your invention with the excellences
of his. Meanwhile a coolness should be made to arise between
her and him: and as there would be no artistic reason for his
presence here after the verdict is pronounced, he would
perforce hie back to town. Do you see?'

'I see the ingenuity of the plan, but I also see two
insurmountable obstacles to it. The first is, I cannot add
the excellences of his design to mine without knowing what
those excellences are, which he will of course keep a secret.
Second, it will not be easy to promote a coolness between such
hot ones as they.'

'You make a mistake. It is only he who is so ardent. She is
only lukewarm. If we had any spirit, a bargain would be
struck between us: you would appropriate his design; I should
cause the coolness.'

'How could I appropriate his design?'

'By copying it, I suppose.'

'Copying it?'

'By going into his studio and looking it over.'

Havill turned to Dare, and stared. 'By George, you don't
stick at trifles, young man. You don't suppose I would go
into a man's rooms and steal his inventions like that?'

'I scarcely suppose you would,' said Dare indifferently, as he
rose.

'And if I were to,' said Havill curiously, 'how is the
coolness to be caused?'

'By the second man.'

'Who is to produce him?'

'Her Majesty's Government.'

Havill looked meditatively at his companion, and shook his
head. 'In these idle suppositions we have been assuming
conduct which would be quite against my principles as an
honest man.'


Thomas Hardy