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Chapter 4

WHEN he came out it was exactly as if he had been in custody, for
beside him walked a stout man with a big black beard, who, save
that he wore spectacles, might have been a policeman, and in whom
at a second glance I recognised the highest contemporary
enterprise.

"This is Mr. Morrow," said Paraday, looking, I thought, rather
white: "he wants to publish heaven knows what about me."

I winced as I remembered that this was exactly what I myself had
wanted. "Already?" I cried with a sort of sense that my friend had
fled to me for protection.

Mr. Morrow glared, agreeably, through his glasses: they suggested
the electric headlights of some monstrous modem ship, and I felt as
if Paraday and I were tossing terrified under his bows. I saw his
momentum was irresistible. "I was confident that I should be the
first in the field. A great interest is naturally felt in Mr.
Paraday's surroundings," he heavily observed.

"I hadn't the least idea of it," said Paraday, as if he had been
told he had been snoring.

"I find he hasn't read the article in THE EMPIRE," Mr. Morrow
remarked to me. "That's so very interesting - it's something to
start with," he smiled. He had begun to pull off his gloves, which
were violently new, and to look encouragingly round the little
garden. As a "surrounding" I felt how I myself had already been
taken in; I was a little fish in the stomach of a bigger one. "I
represent," our visitor continued, "a syndicate of influential
journals, no less than thirty-seven, whose public - whose publics,
I may say - are in peculiar sympathy with Mr. Paraday's line of
thought. They would greatly appreciate any expression of his views
on the subject of the art he so nobly exemplifies. In addition to
my connexion with the syndicate just mentioned I hold a particular
commission from THE TATLER, whose most prominent department,
'Smatter and Chatter' - I dare say you've often enjoyed it -
attracts such attention. I was honoured only last week, as a
representative of THE TATLER, with the confidence of Guy
Walsingham, the brilliant author of 'Obsessions.' She pronounced
herself thoroughly pleased with my sketch of her method; she went
so far as to say that I had made her genius more comprehensible
even to herself."

Neil Paraday had dropped on the garden-bench and sat there at once
detached and confounded; he looked hard at a bare spot in the lawn,
as if with an anxiety that had suddenly made him grave. His
movement had been interpreted by his visitor as an invitation to
sink sympathetically into a wicker chair that stood hard by, and
while Mr. Morrow so settled himself I felt he had taken official
possession and that there was no undoing it. One had heard of
unfortunate people's having "a man in the house," and this was just
what we had. There was a silence of a moment, during which we
seemed to acknowledge in the only way that was possible the
presence of universal fate; the sunny stillness took no pity, and
my thought, as I was sure Paraday's was doing, performed within the
minute a great distant revolution. I saw just how emphatic I
should make my rejoinder to Mr. Pinhorn, and that having come, like
Mr. Morrow, to betray, I must remain as long as possible to save.
Not because I had brought my mind back, but because our visitors
last words were in my ear, I presently enquired with gloomy
irrelevance if Guy Walsingham were a woman.

"Oh yes, a mere pseudonym - rather pretty, isn't it? - and
convenient, you know, for a lady who goes in for the larger
latitude. 'Obsessions, by Miss So-and-so,' would look a little
odd, but men are more naturally indelicate. Have you peeped into
'Obsessions'?" Mr. Morrow continued sociably to our companion.

Paraday, still absent, remote, made no answer, as if he hadn't
heard the question: a form of intercourse that appeared to suit
the cheerful Mr. Morrow as well as any other. Imperturbably bland,
he was a man of resources - he only needed to be on the spot. He
had pocketed the whole poor place while Paraday and I were wool-
gathering, and I could imagine that he had already got his "heads."
His system, at any rate, was justified by the inevitability with
which I replied, to save my friend the trouble: "Dear no - he
hasn't read it. He doesn't read such things!" I unwarily added.

"Things that are TOO far over the fence, eh?" I was indeed a
godsend to Mr. Morrow. It was the psychological moment; it
determined the appearance of his note-book, which, however, he at
first kept slightly behind him, even as the dentist approaching his
victim keeps the horrible forceps. "Mr. Paraday holds with the
good old proprieties - I see!" And thinking of the thirty-seven
influential journals, I found myself, as I found poor Paraday,
helplessly assisting at the promulgation of this ineptitude.
"There's no point on which distinguished views are so acceptable as
on this question - raised perhaps more strikingly than ever by Guy
Walsingham - of the permissibility of the larger latitude. I've an
appointment, precisely in connexion with it, next week, with Dora
Forbes, author of 'The Other Way Round,' which everybody's talking
about. Has Mr. Paraday glanced at 'The Other Way Round'?" Mr.
Morrow now frankly appealed to me. I took on myself to repudiate
the supposition, while our companion, still silent, got up
nervously and walked away. His visitor paid no heed to his
withdrawal; but opened out the note-book with a more fatherly pat.
"Dora Forbes, I gather, takes the ground, the same as Guy
Walsingham's, that the larger latitude has simply got to come. He
holds that it has got to be squarely faced. Of course his sex
makes him a less prejudiced witness. But an authoritative word
from Mr. Paraday - from the point of view of HIS sex, you know -
would go right round the globe. He takes the line that we HAVEN'T
got to face it?"

I was bewildered: it sounded somehow as if there were three sexes.
My interlocutor's pencil was poised, my private responsibility
great. I simply sat staring, none the less, and only found
presence of mind to say: "Is this Miss Forbes a gentleman?"

Mr. Morrow had a subtle smile. "It wouldn't be 'Miss' - there's a
wife!"

"I mean is she a man?"

"The wife?" - Mr. Morrow was for a moment as confused as myself.
But when I explained that I alluded to Dora Forbes in person he
informed me, with visible amusement at my being so out of it, that
this was the "pen-name" of an indubitable male - he had a big red
moustache. "He goes in for the slight mystification because the
ladies are such popular favourites. A great deal of interest is
felt in his acting on that idea - which IS clever, isn't it? - and
there's every prospect of its being widely imitated." Our host at
this moment joined us again, and Mr. Morrow remarked invitingly
that he should be happy to make a note of any observation the
movement in question, the bid for success under a lady's name,
might suggest to Mr. Paraday. But the poor man, without catching
the allusion, excused himself, pleading that, though greatly
honoured by his visitor's interest, he suddenly felt unwell and
should have to take leave of him - have to go and lie down and keep
quiet. His young friend might be trusted to answer for him, but he
hoped Mr. Morrow didn't expect great things even of his young
friend. His young friend, at this moment, looked at Neil Paraday
with an anxious eye, greatly wondering if he were doomed to be ill
again; but Paraday's own kind face met his question reassuringly,
seemed to say in a glance intelligible enough: "Oh I'm not ill,
but I'm scared: get him out of the house as quietly as possible."
Getting newspaper-men out of the house was odd business for an
emissary of Mr. Pinhorn, and I was so exhilarated by the idea of it
that I called after him as he left us: "Read the article in THE
EMPIRE and you'll soon be all right!"

Henry James

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