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The Renewal - a 'lost' E.F.Benson short story re-discovered! E.F.Benson (Sketch by Patrick Hamill)
The efbenson.co.uk team are always on the lookout for Bensoniana we've not seen before, and so our interest was piqued when, in 2004, we saw a listing on the internet auction site eBay.com for a copy of "The Cosmopolitan" from November 1894 which, apparently, contained a story by one E.F.Benson.  We contacted the seller to ask the title of the story, and were told that it was entitled "The Renewal" - a story that does not appear in any of the collections or story listings currently known about.  We had to have it - luckily, our bid won, and the magazine duly arrived and was scanned 
It was not in the best of condition; a few pages were missing here and there, but the story itself was intact and in good enough condition that it could be scanned and run through an OCR program (OCR, or Optical Character Recognition, is a process whereby a scanned image can be processed by a computer and checked for text, which is then extracted.)
This text was then checked again for words and letters the computer may not have recognised, and then re-read to check for spelling and punctuation.  This we present for your enjoyment and interest, complete with the illustrations by W.T. Smedley. 

UPDATE 28.01.2008:
Although we are still carrying out research to confirm our suspicions, we believe we have found another previously unseen since original magazine publication E.F.Benson short story - this time, one of his 'Social Satires' from 1894.  Once we have confirmed that the discovery is indeed a 'Lost' story, we will post more details!

The story is still in copyright in the UK (until 2015) and other territories, and we reproduce it here without permission.  Should the Literary Estate of E.F.Benson, or official agents working for same, require that we remove this story, please email us, and we will gladly act accordingly.

The Cosmopolitan 1894
The Cover
THE RENEWAL
By E.F.Benson
(from "The Cosmopolitan" Vol. XVIII Number 1. November 1894) 
I.

ENGLAND boasts half a hundred country - houses more magnificent than Peveril, but it would be hard to name one more charmingly situated, or more typically English. Duquesne, in his "County History of Cornwall." published in 1771, and dedicated, with permission, to his most Gracious Majesty. George III, gives several engravings of it, and retails, at some length, the history of the Peverils. who have lived there, he tells us, since the reign of Queen Elizabeth. Sir Vivian Peveril, Knight, built the house, and Queen Bess once honored it by sleeping there. He was a great favorite of hers, and it is related that she played on the spinet, to the delectation of him, his wife, and the guests assembled, after dinner that evening. Under George II, the honor of a baronetcy was conferred upon the then head of the family, and in 1766 the son of the first baronet was created Baron Peveril by George III, to whom, as I have stated, Duquesne's "County History of Cornwall" is dedicated. 
Peveril stands about a mile from the north coast, and six miles north of Truro. Bygone Peverils, who sleep in marble peace in the church and church-yard of the village, have planted what must once have been a windswept down, with trees to harbor their pheasants, right as far as the edge of the sandstone cliff, against which the Atlantic lies and suns itself in summer, and on which it springs like a hungry tiger when the north winds in winter, or the westerly gale of autumn, have wakened it. The house itself lies in a furrow of the great down, and the roar of the waves comes to it, faintly and dreamily, increasing almost, by sense of contrast, its own immunity from the unquiet winds. A gray terrace runs along the south side of the house, built in the Georgian style, and, no doubt, was the work of the first Baron Peveril, who, perhaps, felt that his house ought to record the honors done to him.  While the Peverils were baronets, they could do without a terrace; but a peer was a peer. He seems to have been a pompous old gentleman, for he always insisted that the villagers should stand bareheaded when he passed; the mere raising of the hat was not sufficiently respectful. 
But it is not of Vivian Peveril, first Baron Peveril, that I mean to tell you, but of Vivian Peveril, fourth baron, and particularly of John Peveril, his younger brother, of John's wife, Lady Violet, and their little son, Jack. 
Lord Peveril was a bachelor, and John, who was first secretary in Her Majesty's embassy at Constantinople, usually spent some weeks of his leave at Peveril with his wife. Peveril was always glad to have them there, and took a great interest in Jack, as heir apparent to the property. 
John was leaving for London that evening, on his way to Constantinople, but Lady Violet and Jack were not coming with him, for the ostensible reason that the heat would be bad for the child, and for the unspoken reason that, for some time, they had found each other's company a little irksome. The marriage, for some undefinable reason, had been an unhappy one, and they had gradually drifted apart. Their courtship had been brief and ardent; the man had fallen in love with a beautiful girl, the girl had fancied herself in love with a handsome man. The world had said that it was a splendid match for the daughter of a penniless earl, for John Peveril was certain, on the one hand, to be heir to an enormous property, and, on the other hand, to rise to the top of his profession. 

The house lay blinking in the August heat, through its windows darkened with Venetian blinds, and over the terrace, ran a long strip of awning, in red and white stripes, under which, at this moment, Lady Violet and others were having tea.
Lady Violet stirred her tea languidly; the heat was very oppressive, and she felt sure there was a thunderstorm coining up.  Peveril, on the other hand, never found anything oppressive, and this hot summer was an unmixed boon for the farmers. Mrs. Riviere, who was the third, shared Lord Peveril's power of finding everything enjoyable, but Lady Violet found Mrs. Riviere even more oppressive than the approaching thunderstorm. However, Lord Stapleton was coming that evening, her husband was going away, and a thunderstorm would clear the air. 
It is darkest before dawn," she reflected, "and it is nearly morning!"  It was an inspiring thought, and she roused herself. 
"John and your husband haven't come in yet, have they?" she said to Mrs. Riviere.
"No, they are still fishing. Jack is with them, too.  I think Jack's a perfect darling.  So forward for his age, too, let's see - he's just seven, isn't he?''
"Jack was nine last birthday," remarked his mother.
"Only fancy! Yes, dear me! He's the image of his father!"
Lady Violet flushed just perceptibly, and turned to her brother-in-law.
"Peveril, I think I shan't go to see John off.  The heat is so oppressive.  So the wagonette will be all he wants. There's plenty of room for his luggage and his man inside!"
"Very good; I'm just going in, and I'll tell them the cart won't be wanted. Is your head bad, Violet?"
"Oh, no; I'm only hot, and rather tired."
"But Jack wanted to see his father off."
"I think Jack had better stop at home." said Lady Violet.  "It is an absurd custom, seeing people off."
Peveril said nothing in reply, and went indoors.  He had hardly gone in, when Mr. Riviere and the two others came back from the river. Jack caught sight of his mother at the far end of the terrace and ran toward her.  She frowned a little as he rushed noisily up to her, and drew her skirts away from his little, muddy boots. 
"Mummie, I caught two trouts; and may I have them for supper? Mr. Riviere helped me with one, but I caught the other all my very own self"
He ran off to the creel which his father had put down, and returned with two diminutive fish.
"Yes, dear, take them in to cook," said his mother: '' they are quite beautiful. And get nurse to change your boots and stockings. 
You are in an awful mess. Oh, Jack, do be careful! You've soiled my dress! Run along."
"Mummie, I'm going to the station to see father off. Will you come, too?"
"No, dear, you had better not go. It will be too late. You must have your supper, and go to bed."
John had strolled up by this time.
"Why shouldn't the boy go, Violet? He'll be back by half-past seven."
Lady Violet rose, without looking at her husband.
"Just as you like.  I don't think I shall come. Parting speeches are not in my line, nor in yours, I think.''
She walked slowly towards the house, but he followed her.
"There are several things I want to speak to you about," he said.
Lady Violet stopped.
"Well?"
"Let's walk to the end of the terrace."
"Are they not fit for publication?" she asked, looking towards Mr. Riviere.
''I do not choose to publish them. I haven't had a word with you for days. Firstly, when do you propose to join me?"
''I think I shall come out in November. We can get on alone till then, I should think."
"I hope so. Don't stop later than that, or else people will begin to talk. That would annoy me excessively.''
He spoke quite calmly, and without a touch of annoyance in look or voice. She glanced at him a moment without replying.
"Of course, we must not let that happen. If you think better, I will come a little earlier.''
"No. I think there is no need.  How long do you stop here?"
"About a fortnight; after that I shall go home.''
"Lord Stapleton comes to-night, does he not?"
Violet raised her eyebrows.
"Yes" she said, "he comes by the same train as you leave by.  Why?"
"It would annoy me excessively if people began to talk," he said
"It would annoy me, too.  But you needn't he nervous."
"I'm not nervous, or I shouldn't leave you behind here." he said. "Then there's Jack."
"Jack must go to school in September," she said.  "He can spend his Christmas at home, or here. It is absurd that he should follow us out to Constantinople for a couple of weeks'."
"I think you might put off his going to school for another term. He's only just nine. Then he could come out with you in November."
"I don't agree with you.  Jack is a great nuisance at Constantinople.  Now he is quite old enough to go to school. Consult Peveril if you like."
"I suppose that means you have already consulted him, and he agrees with you."
Violet bit her lip.
"That happens to be the case," she said, " but it doesn't make your saying it less offensive."
"I did not mean to be offensive," he said.  "The inference I drew was a very natural one."
Violet sat silent a moment, her gray eyes rested on her husband's face.
"I am not going to quarrel with you," she said. "There is nothing so bourgeois as quarrelling.  What shall we settle about Jack?"
"I have stated my opinion."
"And I mine. We disagree: we often do disagree, but there is always some arrangement possible. Peveril agrees with me. Would you like to consult anybody else?"
"I do not see what anybody else has got to do with it. I don't think it would do the boy any good to he sent in September; as far as his good is concerned, it would be equally satisfactory if he went at Christmas or Easter.  And I wish to have him at Constantinople.  I an very fond of Jack."
"He is reaching that age when children are tiresome. All children are cubs at certain ages, and the fact that he is my child doesn't blind me to the fact that he is a cub, too.  He will he very happy at school, and he will learn not to be a cub."
John Peveril looked at his watch.
"I cannot wait any longer, I am afraid," he said. "I have only just time to change and catch my train.  You must settle the matter as you please."
He turned to leave her. The sun was already near its setting, and the horizontal rays caught all the amber lights in her hair and turned them into gold.  Her cold, perfect mouth was slightly parted, and her eyebrows were drawn down frowning. He had never seen her look so beautiful, and had never felt her so utterly alien from him.
But before he quite turned, he spoke again.
"It is good-by, then," he said. "I can't say more about Jack, but I will leave you to do as you please. Violet, you are more beautiful than ever. Won't you say good-by to me!"
A sudden regret, which he had not felt for years, sprang up in his breast. Their alienation had been so gradual that he could not put his finger on any moment, or any day, and say: "here it began." They were both so accustomed to their mutual separation, that any change would have seemed unreal and almost unwished for. They lived their own lives, and they had become entirely used to their relations. But in spite of it all, his impulse was strong.  He was a man, she a very blatant woman, and nothing, not even tedium ennui, weary daily intercourse, can quite kill that legitimate spell. 
She turned to him with a look of surprise. 
"Yes, why should I not say good-by? Good-by, John. I hope it won't be too frightfully hot in Constantinople.  I shall see you again in November. Good-by!"
He kissed her lightly on the forehead, and went in.  But she remained where he had left her, and his regret woke in her a vague wonder. Could they not have made a better job of it all? Had they not lost something?  Yet, had it been in their power to keep what they had lost?
The mood did not last long, but no mood is without its effect. The least sound, the vibration of a bird's wing through the air, the chirp of a grasshopper in summer grass, sets in motion waves of sound which girdle the earth, and every thought that passes through our minds sets its mark there, and is always capable of growing up and bearing fruit. 
II.

Whether or no it was Violet's fault that people had an opportunity of talking about her and Lord Stapleton, it was at any rate to her credit that they did not avail themselves of that privilege.  Slander and gossip always passed her by with folded wing and mute tongue.  It may partly have been that the world in which she lived was a little afraid of her, but apart from that she was somehow one of those women who seems to defy criticism or comment.  "She may or may not have a heart," they said; "but she has a very beautiful head, and the colour of her hair is certainly natural."
She and Lord Stapleton were sitting out after dinner, that evening, on the terrace, and enjoying the cool air. The thunderstorm had broken while they were at dinner, and Violet's sense of oppression had taken wings with it, or with the wagonette which had carried her husband to the station.

"Yes, John went this afternoon," she was saying; "I shall follow him in November. I hate Constantinople."
"Why follow him in November, then," asked Lord Stapleton.
Violet turned towards him.   His boyish, beardless face was tanned by the weather, for he had just come home from a yachting tour. He was a young man of about thirty years of age, and perfectly imperturbable.
"Why?'' she echoed, "because - because I must. There are many very disagreeable things in life, and in Constantinople is one of them."
"I should have thought you were exactly the woman to deny that there need be any disagreeables in life, to say that all disagreeables are of one's own making."
"Certainly, all disagreeables are of one's own making.  Constantinople is of my own making."
"Will you let me take you there in the yacht?"
Violet laughed.
"I don't see why I shouldn't say 'yes' but I don't think I shall."
Stapleton bent forward towards her.
"Ah, do say 'yes','" he said.
"I expect I shall have to take Jack, too" she said. "His father wants him, and he was mean enough to say that he would leave it entirely to me, whether he came or not, so I suppose I shall have to take him. I do hate people giving me my own way in that manner. It means one has to do what they wish. But I'm afraid Jack wouldn't do for a chaperon in any case."
"I think he'd make a very good one," said Stapleton.
Violet leaned hack in her chair.
"I suppose I ought to be shocked at you making such a suggestion, but I'm not easily shocked. My emotions are not easily reused. It is a great misfortune."
"I don't think it is all a misfortune," said Stapleton; "just the contrary, in fact."
"I was speaking generally, not of this particular case," said Violet. "In general, it is a great misfortune. What it means is, that few things really interest me, or excite me.  It is more amusing to be shocked than to be indifferent. Doctors say that in a few generations we shan't have teeth or toes, because we never use then, and I don't think we shall have emotions, either You see, duelling has gone out. If one man makes love to another man's wife, they don't go out and shoot each other, but they lunch together at the club, and talk it over. Jealousy has gone out, and, I think, love is going out, too. There is a general deterioration of the emotions going on."
Stapleton was listening intently.
"I am not sure that I agree with you," he said.
"Oh, I am right, I am certainly right," she replied.  "This is rather an unconventional conversation; but it doesn't matter.  I am very fond of you. Why shouldn't I say so? I'm sure you have often told me you are very fond of me, and, what is more important, you interest me and amuse me. But-but-"
Stapleton flung himself back in his chair.
"There is always that 'but,'" he said. "Why shouldn't we cast everything to the winds? What on earth matters beside that?"
"Oh, my dear friend," said Violet, "a great deal matters! I was passionately in love with my husband when I married him, and now I was wondering, only this afternoon, what has happened to my love. Scientists tell us that nothing can perish - a thing seems to be destroyed, but it has only gone elsewhere. I wish, I sincerely wish, I could lay my hand on it again. It is delightful to be in love with your husband."
"Do you mean that?" he asked.
"Certainly, I mean it.  I never say things I do not mean, and, beside, the fact is so patently true."
Lord Stapleton rose.
"I had better not have come," he said.
Violet opened her eyes in wonder.
"What do you mean?" she asked. "To say that one wishes a thing was so, is equivalent to saying it is not. It is another instance of the decay of the emotions. Like our teeth, they don't last all our lives; only, unfortunately, we can't get a new set. We don't know where the manufactory is. If I knew that, I would go there to-morrow, and get a false set."
"A false set," he repeated.
Violet laughed.
"They would be quite as useful as the original set," she said, "and - and nobody could tell the difference. One would soon adjust oneself - they might be uncomfortable for a day or two, but not for long. Let's go indoors; they will be wondering where we are."
Violet woke next morning into a sense of quickened interests.  She was fond of Lord Stapleton, as she had told him; but, what was better, he amused her. She was quite certain that she was not in the least in love with him; he never quickened her pulse by one beat, and she liked him best when they talked of wholly indifferent things. She felt that, if she had been free, she would have married him, because the trial she had given to the plan of marrying the man she was in love with had failed.  Passion had burned itself out, and left, not friendliness, not even indifference, but almost aversion. When she was with her husband, she felt as she felt when her nerves were a little out of order; the least thing irritated her. If he left the door open, she wondered why he could not have shut it; if he shut it, she was annoyed that he had not left it as it was.
She did not even say, or think, that it was his fault - such things were nobody's fault. He was a standing cause of irritation to her, that was true; but her own sensibilities were just as much to blame - possibly the blame lay with them alone - as the qualities in him which irritated her.
"If one applies a match to a train of gunpowder," she thought, "it will go off. It was not the match which explodes, nor would the gunpowder explode without it.  It is simply the combination of the two, because they are made that way, and to call it their fault would be absurd."
And as November drew nearer, the prospect of Constantinople, from being distasteful, grew to be impossible. She had not sent Jack to school, but had determined to take him with her.  But one morning she wrote to her husband. "He is not stupid," she thought to herself; "he will understand what I mean very well." She said that she was sure Constantinople would not agree with her; it was very raw and unpleasant in winter, and she was thinking of remaining in England, and spending a month at St. Moritz.
"You have always trusted me," the letter went on, "and I am sure you will believe me now, when I tell you that it is not because I find England, or anyone in England, attractive, that I have decided not to come, but because I really cannot face the thought of spending another year at Constantinople.  Please make this clear to your chief, and others. I should think lungs, or something of the sort would answer the purpose.  I am going to St. Moritz.  I didn't send Jack to school, but intended to bring him with me out to Constantinople. He had, therefore, better join you at once. Francois will go with him. He is really at the cub age; but you don't seem to mind that. You see we don't get on very well together. I irritate you as much you irritate me, and we are clever enough to avoid any possibility of scandal. I should be infinitely annoyed if people began to talk, and I don't intend that they shall." John answered the letter at once. Every one was desolated - he most of all - that she was not coming; but, no doubt, she was wise to spend the winter at St. Moritz. Indeed, it would be criminal to come to Constantinople. Let Jack come at once - it was an excellent idea of hers.
Violet read the letter twice, and then put it down, and thought about it. He had fallen in with her wishes exactly; he had behaved exactly as she had hoped. He had not made unreasonable objections, or alluded to les convenances, in any way. But - but - what was it she did not like about the letter? If he had expressed any regret, if he had implied blame, she would have been furious "Every one is desolated - I most of all" that was where the sting came in; but why it stung her she could not say.
Anyhow, she had her own way. Jack was sent off at once, charmed at the prospect of seeing his father, and she was free. She would go abroad, she determined, early in December; several friends of hers were going to St. Moritz, and she would go with them.  That crisp, renovating cold was too delicious; she would skate all day, and there were always a certain number of amusing people there. She feIt like a boy who has been on the point of going back to school, when he hears- that an extra week of holiday has suddenly been given.
But her husband's letter - the more she thought about it, the stronger her feeling grew; and the stronger it grew, the more it puzzled her.  He had behaved charmingly; she did him the justice to confess that he almost always did behave charmingly, and yet she was angry with him. She had told him, quite plainly, that she wished not to be with him that winter, and he had replied that he thought her arrangement an admirable one. That, at least, was the meaning of it, if one stripped the husk off.  Yet, again, that vague feeling, half-of wonder, half of regret, came over her.
lII.

Jack went to school at Christmas, but before Easter an event had happened which brought John Peveril back to England. Early in February, Lord Peveril had been attacked by the prevalent influenza, which had settled on his lungs, and within a fortnight of the time he was taken ill, he was dead. His brother had come back from Constantinople, and Violet from St. Moritz, which she was not enjoying quite as much as she had intended to do. The air, no doubt, was charming, but one cannot remain in a state of permanent rapture over air. The skating was good: but when no one talked about anything but skating and consumption, from morning till night, it was apt to pall. Worst of all, Mrs. Riviere had been out there, and had driven Violet nearly wild.
She and her husband had gone to Peveril for the funeral, and after that came up to London. He had decided to throw up his profession and settle down in England. It would still be some years before he got an embassy, even with the best of luck, and the strictest observance of the decimation of only the fittest; meanwhile, it was hardly possible to leave everything, for an indefinite number of years, in the hands of an agent.
He and Violet did not, of course, go out at all, and one evening they were sitting alone, after dinner. Violet was more pleased to be in England again than she cared to say, and she was feeling particularly content.  Jack had gone back to school that afternoon, and it was of Jack she was thinking now.
"How he has grown," she said, "since last September."
Lord Peveril looked up from the paper be was reading.
"Who? Jack? I suppose you notice it more than I."
"I think you were right about him," she said.  "I remember you wanted to take him out with you, and I wanted to send him to school."
Peveril smiled.
"My dear Violet, what a concession!" 
She had risen from her seat, and was looking at a photograph of Jack, which had come home that day.
"He'll be exactly like you," she said, half to herself.
"He's more like poor Vivian, I think," said her husband.
Violet put the photograph down.
"Nonsense! He's not a bit like Vivian!  How did you enjoy Constantinople this winter?"
"Oh, it was like what it always is - the same people gave the same parties, and one tripped up against the same dogs in the same streets.  We all talked about exactly the same things as we talked about last year.  Those things don't ever amuse me much.  I expect you enjoyed yourself more at St. Moritz than you would have with me!"
"Possibly; but I don't know. St. Moritz bored me, rather. Every one who wasn't consumptive talked about combined figures, and every one who was, talked about temperature.  I bought a temperature thermometer, and took mine for a few days; but it was always normal."
"It's a great blessing to be normal," said he.
Violet walked up to the fire, and warmed her hands.
"I don't think I agree with you," she said.
Peveril put down his paper.
"I don't think you ever agree with me!"
Violet stopped quite still for a moment. The bitterness of her husband's tone surprised her.
"What is the matter?" she said, at length.
"Everything is the matter. I told you that the people at Constantinople all talked about the same things as they always did. That is not true: they talked about something they have never talked about before, and about which they will never talk again.  I did not mean to tell you, but you force it on me!"
"What was that?"
"They talked about you and Stapleton."
Violet flushed.
"You are intolerable. How dare you say such things to me?"
"I am telling you the truth."
"Then, why did you not tell me to come, and put a stop to it?"
"I did not suppose you would wish to come. And if I had sent for you, it would have implied that I thought there was some truth in it."
"But did you not stop it?" said VioIet.
"Naturally, they did not say these things to me; but, of course, in a place like that, they got round. When I heard of it, I stopped it."
"How did you stop it?"
"I insulted the man I knew had said it openly, and he challenged me."
"Challenged you? To a duel, do you mean?"
"That is the natural course in such cases," said Peveril.
Violet knelt down by him.
"John, why didn't you tell me? Tell me now."
"There is not much to tell.  I was not touched, but he will walk lame for a time."
Violet came a little nearer, and put her hand on his knee.
"Why did you do it? Did you know… and, oh, why didn't you tell me? Who was the man?"
"It doesn't concern you. If it did, I would tell you."
"John, you shouldn't have done it. Supposing you had been shot?"
"Don't make a scene, Violet. It is all over.  I could do no less.  You don't seem to realize ~"
He stopped suddenly, and rose, shaking her hand off rather roughly.  She remained where she was; but her eyes were troubled, and her mouth quivered a little at the corners.

"'Yes - what were you going to say?" 
"You don't seem to realise that I hold a certain position to you. If you imagine men can talk lightly of you, like that, without my interfering, you are wrong. I hold a certain place in your life, and nothing can alter that; and as long as I hold that place I shall do for you what I am bound to do. See, Violet, you are my wife.  You may regret it, but you can't help it now."
He stopped opposite to her, but came no nearer.
"But a duel!" she said. "It is so absurd - duelling has quite gone out."
"That is your theory, I know. I have proved that you are wrong."
Violet got up, and laid her hand tremblingly on his shoulder; but he stood quite still and made no sign.
"But it was so rash and absurd," she said.
"I could do nothing else.  When I married you it became my privilege to defend you from certain things, and also to keep myself from them, and it cannot ever be in your power to make that privilege less than a duty. It must always be my duty."
"Duty?" she echoed.  "What is duty? Surely, duty is a smaller thing than that?"
Two tears slowly gathered in her eyes. Her hand trembled more and more.  But he did not answer her, and after a moment she went on, speaking slowly, for the words were difficult.
"John, you should not have done it. You don't know about me…. I am not worth it. I am blameless about Stapleton - I needn't tell you that, need I? - but I have not been so loyal to you. I have not been tempted to be disloyal; the temptation simply has not met me; but I have remained loyal to you, I think, only because of that…. I have only once fallen in love; there has never been more than one man to whom I would have given myself. That was when I met you."
Her voice broke suddenly.
"Ah, my dear, help me! Oh, say you will help me!"…
The sobs she had been restraining over-mastered her, and she flung her arm around him in a passionate fit of weeping.
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