IN THE LAST chapter, this chapter and to a considerable extent those that follow, down to the break made by Gilbert's illness and the war of 1914, it is unavoidable that the same years should be retraced to cover a variety of aspects. For their home was for both Gilbert and Frances the centre of a widening circle. Although I visited Overroads, it seems to me, looking back, I saw them just then much more frequently in London and elsewhere. Several times they stayed at Lotus, our Surrey home. The first time it was a week-end of blazing summer weather. Lady Blennerhassett was there--formerly Countess Leyden and a favourite disciple of Döllinger. I remember she delighted Gilbert by her comment on Modernism. "I must," she said, "have the same religion as my washerwoman, and Father Tyrrell's is not the religion for my washerwoman." We sat on the terrace in the sunshine and Lady Blennerhassett asked suddenly whether the soles of our boots were, like hers, without hole or blemish. We all looked very odd as we stuck our feet out and tried to see the soles. Gilbert, offered a wicker chair, preferred the grass because, he said, there was grave danger he might unduly "modify" the chair.
After a meeting of the Westminster Dining Society (the predecessor of the Wiseman), he wrote my mother an unnecessary apology:
DEAR MRS. WILFRID WARD--
I have wanted for some days past to write to you, but could not make up my mind whether I was making my position worse or better. But I do want to apologise to you for the way in which I threw out your delightful Catholic Dining Society affair the other day. I behaved badly, dined badly, debated badly and left badly; yet the explanation is really simple. I was horribly worried, and I do not worry well; when I am worried I am like a baby. My wife was that night just ill enough to make a man nervous, a stupid man, and I had sworn to her that I would fulfil some affairs that night on which she was keen. As she is better now and only wants rest, I feel normal and realise what a rotter I must have looked that night. As Belloc wrote in a beautiful epitaph--
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Publication information: Book title: Gilbert Keith Chesterton. Contributors: Maisie E. Ward - Author. Publisher: Sheed & Ward. Place of publication: London. Publication year: 1944. Page number: 229.
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