Chronicles of Clovis HTML version

The Music On The Hill
Sylvia Seltoun ate her breakfast in the morning-room at Yessney with a pleasant sense of
ultimate victory, such as a fervent Ironside might have permitted himself on the morrow
of Worcester fight. She was scarcely pugnacious by temperament, but belonged to that
more successful class of fighters who are pugnacious by circumstance. Fate had willed
that her life should be occupied with a series of small struggles, usually with the odds
slightly against her, and usually she had just managed to come through winning. And
now she felt that she had brought her hardest and certainly her most important struggle to
a successful issue. To have married Mortimer Seltoun, "Dead Mortimer" as his more
intimate enemies called him, in the teeth of the cold hostility of his family, and in spite of
his unaffected indifference to women, was indeed an achievement that had needed some
determination and adroitness to carry through; yesterday she had brought her victory to
its concluding stage by wrenching her husband away from Town and its group of satellite
watering-places and "settling him down," in the vocabulary of her kind, in this remote
wood-girt manor farm which was his country house.
"You will never get Mortimer to go," his mother had said carpingly, "but if he once goes
he'll stay; Yessney throws almost as much a spell over him as Town does. One can
understand what holds him to Town, but Yessney--" and the dowager had shrugged her
There was a sombre almost savage wildness about Yessney that was certainly not likely
to appeal to town-bred tastes, and Sylvia, notwithstanding her name, was accustomed to
nothing much more sylvan than "leafy Kensington." She looked on the country as
something excellent and wholesome in its way, which was apt to become, troublesome if
you encouraged it overmuch. Distrust of town-life had been a new thing with her, born of
her marriage with Mortimer, and she had watched with satisfaction the gradual fading of
what she called "the Jermyn-street-look" in his eyes as the woods and heather of Yessney
had closed in on them yesternight. Her will-power and strategy had prevailed; Mortimer
would stay.
Outside the morning-room windows was a triangular slope of turf, which the indulgent
might call a lawn, and beyond its low hedge of neglected fuchsia bushes a steeper slope
of heather and bracken dropped down into cavernous combes overgrown with oak and
yew. In its wild open savagery there seemed a stealthy linking of the joy of life with the
terror of unseen things. Sylvia smiled complacently as she gazed with a School-of-Art
appreciation at the landscape, and then of a sudden she almost shuddered.
"It is very wild," she said to Mortimer, who had joined her; "one could almost think that
in such a place the worship of Pan had never quite died out."
"The worship of Pan never has died out," said Mortimer. "Other newer gods have drawn
aside his votaries from time to time, but he is the Nature-God to whom all must come