On the Strength of a Likeness by
If your mirror be broken, look into still water; but have a
care that you do not fall in.
Next to a requited attachment, one of the most convenient things that a
young man can carry about with him at the beginning of his career, is an
unrequited attachment. It makes him feel important and business-like, and
blasè, and cynical; and whenever he has a touch of fever, or
suffers from want of exercise, he can mourn over his lost love, and be
very happy in a tender, twilight fashion,
Hannasyde's affair of the heart had been a godsend to him. It was four
years old, and the girl had long since given up thinking of it. She had
married and had many cares of her own. In the beginning, she had told
Hannasyde that, "while she could never be anything more than a sister to
him, she would always take the deepest interest in his welfare." This
startlingly new and original remark gave Hannasyde something to think over
for two years; and his own vanity filled in the other twenty-four months.
Hannasyde was quite different from Phil Garron, but, none the less, had
several points in common with that far too lucky man.
He kept his unrequited attachment by him as men keep a well-smoked
pipe—for comfort's sake, and because it had grown dear in the using.
It brought him happily through one Simla season. Hannasyde was not lovely.
There was a crudity in his manners, and a roughness in the way in which he
helped a lady on to her horse, that did not attract the other sex to him.
Even if he had cast about for their favor, which he did not. He kept his
wounded heart all to himself for a while.
Then trouble came to him. All who go to Simla know the slope from the
Telegraph to the Public Works Office. Hannasyde was loafing up the hill,
one September morning between calling hours, when a 'rickshaw came down in
a hurry, and in the 'rickshaw sat the living, breathing image of the girl
who had made him so happily unhappy. Hannasyde leaned against the railings
and gasped. He wanted to run downhill after the 'rickshaw, but that was
impossible; so he went forward with most of his blood in his temples. It
was impossible, for many reasons, that the woman in the 'rickshaw could be
the girl he had known. She was, he discovered later, the wife of a man
from Dindigul, or Coimbatore, or some out-of-the-way place, and she had
come up to Simla early in the season for the good of her health. She was
going back to Dindigul, or wherever it was, at the end of the season; and
in all likelihood would never return to Simla again; her proper
Hill-station being Ootacamund. That night Hannasyde, raw and savage from
the raking up of all old feelings, took counsel with himself for one
measured hour. What he decided upon was this; and you must decide for
yourself how much genuine affection for the old Love, and how much a very
natural inclination to go abroad and enjoy himself, affected the decision.
Mrs. Landys-Haggert would never in all human likelihood cross his path
again. So whatever he did didn't much matter. She was marvelously like the
girl who "took a deep interest" and the rest of the formula. All things
considered, it would be pleasant to make the acquaintance of Mrs.
Landys-Haggert, and for a little time—only a very little
time—to make believe that he was with Alice Chisane again. Every one
is more or less mad on one point. Hannasyde's particular monomania was his
old love, Alice Chisane.
He made it his business to get introduced to Mrs. Haggert, and the
introduction prospered. He also made it his business to see as much as he
could of that lady. When a man is in earnest as to interviews, the
facilities which Simla offers are startling. There are garden-parties, and
tennis-parties, and picnics, and luncheons at Annandale, and
rifle-matches, and dinners and balls; besides rides and walks, which are
matters of private arrangement. Hannasyde had started with the intention
of seeing a likeness, and he ended by doing much more. He wanted to be
deceived, he meant to be deceived, and he deceived himself very
thoroughly. Not only were the face and figure the face and figure of Alice
Chisane, but the voice and lower tones were exactly the same, and so were
the turns of speech; and the little mannerisms, that every woman has, of
gait and gesticulation, were absolutely and identically the same. The turn
of the head was the same; the tired look in the eyes at the end of a long
walk was the same; the stoop-and-wrench over the saddle to hold in a
pulling horse was the same; and once, most marvelous of all, Mrs.
Landys-Haggert singing to herself in the next room, while Hannasyde was
waiting to take her for a ride, hummed, note for note, with a throaty
quiver of the voice in the second line, "Poor Wandering One!" exactly as
Alice Chisane had hummed it for Hannasyde in the dusk of an English
drawing-room. In the actual woman herself—in the soul of
her—there was not the least likeness; she and Alice Chisane being
cast in different moulds. But all that Hannasyde wanted to know and see
and think about, was this maddening and perplexing likeness of face and
voice and manner. He was bent on making a fool of himself that way; and he
was in no sort disappointed.
Open and obvious devotion from any sort of man is always pleasant to
any sort of woman; but Mrs. Landys-Haggert, being a woman of the world,
could make nothing of Hannasyde's admiration.
He would take any amount of trouble—he was a selfish man
habitually—to meet and forestall, if possible, her wishes. Anything
she told him to do was law; and he was, there could be no doubting it,
fond of her company so long as she talked to him, and kept on talking
about trivialities. But when she launched into expression of her personal
views and her wrongs, those small social differences that make the spice
of Simla life, Hannasyde was neither pleased nor interested. He didn't
want to know anything about Mrs. Landys-Haggert, or her experiences in the
past—she had traveled nearly all over the world, and could talk
cleverly—he wanted the likeness of Alice Chisane before his eyes and
her voice in his ears. Anything outside that, reminding him of another
personality, jarred, and he showed that it did.
Under the new Post Office, one evening, Mrs. Landys-Haggert turned on
him, and spoke her mind shortly and without warning. "Mr. Hannasyde," said
she, "will you be good enough to explain why you have appointed yourself
my special cavalier servente? I don't understand it. But I am
perfectly certain, somehow or other, that you don't care the least little
bit in the world for me." This seems to support, by the way, the
theory that no man can act or tell lies to a woman without being found
out. Hannasyde was taken off his guard. His defence never was a strong
one, because he was always thinking of himself, and he blurted out, before
he knew what he was saying, this inexpedient answer, "No more I do."
The queerness of the situation and the reply, made Mrs. Landys-Haggert
laugh. Then it all came out; and at the end of Hannasyde's lucid
explanation Mrs. Haggert said, with the least little touch of scorn in her
voice, "So I'm to act as the lay-figure for you to hang the rags of your
tattered affections on, am I?"
Hannasyde didn't see what answer was required, and he devoted himself
generally and vaguely to the praise of Alice Chisane, which was
unsatisfactory. Now it is to be thoroughly made clear that Mrs. Haggert
had not the shadow of a ghost of an interest in Hannasyde. Only ... only
no woman likes being made love through instead of to—specially on
behalf of a musty divinity of four years' standing.
Hannasyde did not see that he had made any very particular exhibition
of himself. He was glad to find a sympathetic soul in the arid wastes of
When the season ended, Hannasyde went down to his own place and Mrs.
Haggert to hers, "It was like making love to a ghost," said Hannasyde to
himself, "and it doesn't matter; and now I'll get to my work." But he
found himself thinking steadily of the Haggert-Chisane ghost; and he could
not be certain whether it was Haggert or Chisane that made up the greater
part of the pretty phantom.
* * * * *
He got understanding a month later.
A peculiar point of this peculiar country is the way in which a
heartless Government transfers men from one end of the Empire to the
other. You can never be sure of getting rid of a friend or an enemy till
he or she dies. There was a case once—but that's another story.
Haggert's Department ordered him up from Dindigul to the Frontier at
two days' notice, and he went through, losing money at every step, from
Dindigul to his station. He dropped Mrs. Haggert at Lucknow, to stay with
some friends there, to take part in a big ball at the Chutter Munzil, and
to come on when he had made the new home a little comfortable. Lucknow was
Hannasyde's station, and Mrs. Haggert stayed a week there. Hannasyde went
to meet her. As the train came in, he discovered what he had been thinking
of for the past month. The unwisdom of his conduct also struck him. The
Lucknow week, with two dances, and an unlimited quantity of rides
together, clinched matters; and Hannasyde found himself pacing this circle
of thought:—He adored Alice Chisane, at least he had adored
her. And he admired Mrs. Landys-Haggert because she was like Alice
Chisane. But Mrs. Landys-Haggert was not in the least like Alice
Chisane, being a thousand times more adorable. Now Alice Chisane
was "the bride of another," and so was Mrs. Landys-Haggert, and a good and
honest wife too. Therefore he, Hannasyde, was ... here he called
himself several hard names, and wished that he had been wise in the
Whether Mrs. Landys-Haggert saw what was going on in his mind, she
alone knows. He seemed to take an unqualified interest in everything
connected with herself, as distinguished from the Alice-Chisane likeness,
and he said one or two things which, if Alice Chisane had been still
betrothed to him, could scarcely have been excused, even on the grounds of
the likeness. But Mrs. Haggert turned the remarks aside, and spent a long
time in making Hannasyde see what a comfort and a pleasure she had been to
him because of her strange resemblance to his old love. Hannasyde groaned
in his saddle and said, "Yes, indeed," and busied himself with
preparations for her departure to the Frontier, feeling very small and
The last day of her stay at Lucknow came, and Hannasyde saw her off at
the Railway Station. She was very grateful for his kindness and the
trouble he had taken, and smiled pleasantly and sympathetically as one who
knew the Alice-Chisane reason of that kindness. And Hannasyde abused the
coolies with the luggage, and hustled the people on the platform, and
prayed that the roof might fall in and slay him.
As the train went out slowly, Mrs. Landys-Haggert leaned out of the
window to say good-bye—"On second thoughts au revoir, Mr.
Hannasyde. I go Home in the Spring, and perhaps I may meet you in
Hannasyde shook hands, and said very earnestly and adoringly—"I
hope to Heaven I shall never see your face again!"
And Mrs. Haggert understood.