DIFFERENT DRUMMERS

MARJORIE BOWEN December 15 1922

DIFFERENT DRUMMERS

MARJORIE BOWEN December 15 1922

DIFFERENT DRUMMERS

MARJORIE BOWEN

"If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer."

THE big limousine drew up at the side of the low churchyard wall, a woman alighted wrapped in smoky blue-black furs and ash-coloured veils; she stood by the old lych-gate, gazing at the graves.

Behind the squat Norman church the winter sky, hard blue, massed with snow clouds, showed light without radiance; two-days’-old snow lay hard in the corners of the wall and at the bottom of the headstones.

A man also descended from the limousine which drove away.

There was no one about, but these two standing by the church-yard; the pale sun that had no warmth and the faint shadow tracery from the leafless trees was over

' “Why have you brought me here?” asked Miss Considine. “In the hope that change of scene would make me change my mood?”

“Is it forbidden to try to make you change your mind not your mood?” he asked, handsome, ruddy, self-assured in his youth and health, but diffident in the presence of the beloved he could not win.

“Not my mind, nor my mood, but my heart,

Harry dear.”

She opened the lych-gate.

“This is where some of my mother’s people are buried, isn’t it? I have always been too busy to come,” she said simply. “Graves don’t frighten me, but they' don’t interest me either.”

“Come and see these, though, there’s a story, too—you must—you promised me to-day,” he said encouragingly.

“Only to-day,” she warned him, “because it is Christmas Day and—don’t look sentimental, I wasn’t thinking of anything like that.—only there

is nothing better to do, nothing that interests me anyway. can t argue

THEY walked together along the rounded brick path where the yew trees cast a black shade intermittently.

“That is what I am good for—to fill up a half day when you have nothing better to do!” he said rather sadly.

“No,” said Miss Considine gravely. “The house-party is rather dull—and I like you—and I’m .sorry, and I’m going away in two days and that is why I came.”

“I wish you could understand me,” he said desperately.

“You don’t —you don’t trouble to—”

She turned her lovely face, so modern and yet so eternal in its delicate, serene exquisiteness, towards him, and her dark blue eyes were very serious.

“I can't," she said. “And you can’t understand me— you know what Thoreau says? About the different drummers? Yours and mine beat such a different measure!” ,,

“They don’t really—I could make you happy—

“Marching in your time?” she interrupted, You

This is the love story of a radiant girl—and of that other girl, dead so many, many years, who also heard a different drummer.

—you just couldn’t!” They were walking round the heavy buttresses of the little church, the ends of her furs trailed on the brick path, and the ends of her veil fluttered against the gray masonry.

“You beat me with words,” said the young man doggedly. “Feminine quips! I I think there is only one drummer really— just the beat of the universe. I love you. Don’t despise it too much.”

Despite herself she was stirred, almost thrilled; she liked him so much-—so much better than any of the others and he offered a great deal.

But not enough for a woman like Marianne Considine; she was beautiful, young and wealthy—spoilt, perhaps, and very modern and, above everything, a great singer. She had made her début last season and had at once joined the -immortal group of prima donnas; a lyric soprano, another Giulia Grisi—the world, quite literally, at her feet—could she even consider giving up even to become the wife of such a dear friend, such a fine man, as Harry Dobree? For his drummer beat to a very definite rñarch— if she married she must not sing in public—and there were other restrictions, limitations, ah, she knew,— men were all “old-fashioned” when they fell in love.

Still she was sorry—she was sailing for New York with the New Year, she was leaving this house-party where she was being lionized, in two days, all full with local festivities, she resolved to give him this afternoon and be gracious about it.

So she took that easy and charming feminine refuge, a pretty laugh, and asked him to find the tombs of her ancestors—“De Couc.v” she smiled ‘‘really! like a novelette—’

STRANGE you never came here before," he said sombrely. She did not think it was, she had been brought up in Paris, and her life had been very full, very

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Different Drummers

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brilliant, very industrious, she had always meant to come, and that was why she had accepted an otherwise not very attractive offer to Graylings Manor, and why she had asked, in her gentle yet autocratic way, an invitation for Harry.

“I thought I would like to come here first with you,” she said. “You resemble —a De Coucy—I think! Something medieval and serious.”

Yet she had left their expedition entirely in his hands, refusing to give a preference, pretending that, after all, she did not want to go to the grave-yard, and asking, when they arrived, “Why did yoú bring me here?”

She was that kind of woman, full of soft caprices and changing humours.

A robin hopped before them along the slanting graves, keeping ever that pace in front as if it led them, then pausing by a great tree of holly which stood stiffly like a sentinel over a plain stone of decent simplicity on which was one word and one date:

1780.

Marianne Considine smiled tenderly.

“Is it a name? A prayer? Written in the certainty of grace or the hope of it? Look at the robin, Harry, and the Holly Tree!”

“Come into the church,” he said.

They entered by the sunken door into the dark and beautiful interior.

Through the still gloom showed the white, red and green of the Christmas wreaths, the outlines of the heavy squat pillars and low arches; every stone beneath their feet showed a coat-of-arms.

In the chancel were several fair and costly monuments, dimmed by damp and polished by time, on which lay warriors and ladies, with dogs and cushions, and kneeling figures and pious scrolls, again and again, the chevrons and mullets on different shaped shields.

All De Coucys, there.

The proud house was extinct; Miss Considine’s mother had been the last of her race, and she was but a distant scion of the main line.

Marianne Considine smiled a little and sighed a little, and the young man was quite silent.

It was she who said—“Let us go.”

WHEN they were out again in the pale sunlight, she suggested that they should return, but he confessed to having sent the car away for a couple of hours at

“Where do you mean to go?” she asked. “Sit there among the graves?”

“I’ll get you tea, somewhere.”

“Never! Christmas Day! Everything is closed. And I don’t want tea.”

They stood straight and tall, young and handsome, on the close withered sward that still showed faintly green, so alike in youth and good looks, so far apart in thoughts; the woman thinking of her triumphs to come, of the great old world still unexplored; he just thinking of her— and her folly—as he called it.

“I wish I could wipe away two hundred years,” he said suddenly. “You couldn’t have defied, me then—you’d just have had to come—there would have been nothing else for you to do.”

“The cave man touch!” smiled Miss Considine. “It’s queer to hear you, Harry, talk that old stuff.”

He caught her up quickly.

“Old stuff—yes! So is the robin and the holly-tree add Christmas Day—such old stuff that we are ashamed to mention them, but they are real, just the same, aren’t they?” ■

She looked round her slowly.

“Yes—real enough,” she conceded. Somehow she felt uneasy, slightly disturbed.

“Let us find this miraculous tea,” she added.

He led the way to the gate.

“Seriously,” he said. “Don’t you ever intend to fall in love?”

Miss Considine drew the silky blue fur closer round her slender throat.

“I can only say what the wicked Marquis said to the virtuous dame who protested that she loved her husband— ‘C’esl bizarre, mais ce n’est pas défendu!’ ” “Don’t,” said Harry Dobree.

QUITE near the churchyard, just at the turn of the road, under the big bare elms, was a peculiar looking house, which had a look of shattered dignity with its plastered-up windows and clusters of twisted chimneys, and odd gables, and half-fallen ancient red brick wall.

There appeared no vestige of life about the place save the few bright berries in the garden, and a curly white dog on a chain, but the young man, with the girl a smiling accomplice, knocked at the low heavy sunken door.

An old man opened it to them, and with the placid patience of the aged peasant,. granted their request for tea.

He was just going to have his own meal, he said, before going across to the afternoon service.

His slow step ushered them into a commodious room, panelled in carved compartments of dark shining oak, and opening on to a wide staircase with massive balustrades richly carved in various devices.

He was a pensioned gardener, he said, of a great family that was now no more, and he and his grand-daughter were living in this old house as caretakers until tv e recent purchaser dismantled it.

The atmosphere of the old apàrtment was as strange as that of the church; a large wood fire burned on the open hearth; Miss Considine sat beside it, on the ancient smooth settle and drank the tea and ate the cakes the shy young granddaughter brought; she threw back her furs and unloosened the veil from her delicate head and drew her fine hands out of the long soft gloves.

The old man, whose pale blue eyes were embedded in a thousand crimped wrinkles, looked at her; the perfume of Roman hyacinth she used was stirred by the warmth and touched the winter with the sense of spring.

THE young man also looked at her; he leant against the flat old chimneypiece and the firelight was ruddy on the warm brown tints of his face and head and neck; the old man chattered gently, garrulous, absorbed in the past; odd little stories and anecdotes, queer little phrases and chuckles came faintly out of his twisted old mouth, like smoke from a pyre of aromatics, preserving dead relics.

“There is a strange tomb-stone here,” said Miss Considine, her low voice sounding very beautiful after the ancient’s

rasping whistle. “Just ‘Grace’—do you know anything about it?”

He knew.

“This were her house—when my father was a child, and his father worked for the great house and that is a mighty number of years ago.”

“Her house! Then Grace was a woman?” asked Miss Considine.

“She was. This was the finest estate in the country then,—the deer park and thegardens! You can’t think how fine it was, ma’am. And she was the Earl’s cousin, and brought up with the heir.” “The penny novelette again,” smiled Miss Considine.

“But—again—real,” put in the young man emphatically.

“It were real enough,” piped the old man. “My grand-father worked for the Earl—nothing left now but tombs, and they’re mouldering fast.”

“And what was the story of Grace?”— asked Mr. Dobree.

“You could put it in a sentence—she was to marry the young lord, her cousin, but her head was turned with vanity, being nought but a light-minded female, and she must needs go up to court to show herself off, one of the Queen’s maids she was, with all the men after her—and he, he married some decent body, and she got into trouble, what it was I be’nt rightly understood, but she came back here and lived hid in a cottage, just to see him going to and fro.”

“And he never knew?” asked Miss Considine.

“No, he didn’t ever know. Only my grand-people knew and when she was fretted to death they buried her, just as she said, with that one word on her tomb, which it might mean anything.”

“Mercyi, she meant, and pity,” murmured Miss Considine, quickly.

“It were her name,” said the old man. Your different drummer again!” remarked Mr. Dobree quietly. “She must have cared for the chap.”

“Obviously,” smiled the lady.

“Old Stuff!” he exclaimed. “But.it comes round, true, again and again, like the snow;—look!’

He pointed to the thick diamond panes where a little scurry of snow was scattering against the glass.

Miss Considine rose.

“We must not keep you, I hear the church bells.”

“You’re kindly welcome to the shelter as long as you care to take it—Lucy’ll show you the Lady Grace’s room upstairs, if you like, ma’am.”

“Please.”

She followed the blushing girl in her Christmas finery, up to the old shut-away room, with one window walled up and the rusty ivy over the other, and the dipping floor and heavy door.

The ringing of the church-bells sounded as if they came from very far away.

“The cottage she came back to hide in was took down some years ago,” murmured the girl awkwardly. “Quite near the old gates it was, where she could see him coming and going like.”

“You think it’s true?” asked Miss Considine. “Like the robins and the holly? So true that you get tired of it— supposing it is!—your first love! Your real love!—don’t you think it might break your heart if you let him go —for any-thing?”

She smiled whimsically, drawing on the long loose scented gloves.

The girl blushed deeper, not quite understanding.

Miss Considine went downstairs.

“This house is sad, Harry,” she said. “Let us go to the Church till the car

comes—”

“That stale stuff?” he asked, not moving.

Miss Considine buttoned her coat and twisted the ash-coloured veils round her delicate head.

“It really happens, you know, you said so,” she remarked. “Come outside, Harry dear.”

He followed her into the garden.

“Look!” she said slowly. “Real snow!” she looked up at him, “and real love.”

“Mine—yes.”

The snow-flakes drifted lightly over

“And mine,” she answered. “Yes— really.”

“The drummer?” he asked unsteadily. “Has he changed his march?”

“I can’t hear him,” she replied swiftly. “Oh, my dear—don’t ever lei me.”