The Arrow of Gold HTML version
It was past four o'clock before I left the house, together with Mills. Mr. Blunt, still in his
riding costume, escorted us to the very door. He asked us to send him the first fiacre we
met on our way to town. "It's impossible to walk in this get-up through the streets," he
remarked, with his brilliant smile.
At this point I propose to transcribe some notes I made at the time in little black books
which I have hunted up in the litter of the past; very cheap, common little note-books that
by the lapse of years have acquired a touching dimness of aspect, the frayed, worn- out
dignity of documents.
Expression on paper has never been my forte. My life had been a thing of outward
manifestations. I never had been secret or even systematically taciturn about my simple
occupations which might have been foolish but had never required either caution or
mystery. But in those four hours since midday a complete change had come over me. For
good or evil I left that house committed to an enterprise that could not be talked about;
which would have appeared to many senseless and perhaps ridiculous, but was certainly
full of risks, and, apart from that, commanded discretion on the ground of simple loyalty.
It would not only close my lips but it would to a certain extent cut me off from my usual
haunts and from the society of my friends; especially of the light- hearted, young, harum-
scarum kind. This was unavoidable. It was because I felt myself thrown back upon my
own thoughts and forbidden to seek relief amongst other lives - it was perhaps only for
that reason at first I started an irregular, fragmentary record of my days.
I made these notes not so much to preserve the memory (one cared not for any to-morrow
then) but to help me to keep a better hold of the actuality. I scribbled them on shore and I
scribbled them on the sea; and in both cases they are concerned not only with the nature
of the facts but with the intensity of my sensations. It may be, too, that I learned to love
the sea for itself only at that time. Woman and the sea revealed themselves to me
together, as it were: two mistresses of life's values. The illimitable greatness of the one,
the unfathomable seduction of the other working their immemorial spells from generation
to generation fell upon my heart at last: a common fortune, an unforgettable memory of
the sea's formless might and of the sovereign charm in that woman's form wherein there
seemed to beat the pulse of divinity rather than blood.
I begin here with the notes written at the end of that very day.
- Parted with Mills on the quay. We had walked side by side in absolute silence. The fact
is he is too old for me to talk to him freely. For all his sympathy and seriousness I don't
know what note to strike and I am not at all certain what he thinks of all this. As we
shook hands at parting, I asked him how much longer he expected to stay. And he
answered me that it depended on R. She was making arrangements for him to cross the
frontier. He wanted to see the very ground on which the Principle of Legitimacy was
actually asserting itself arms in hand. It sounded to my positive mind the most fantastic