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Title: Modern Chronicle, a — Volume 05
Author: Churchill, Winston, 1871-1947
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Modern Chronicle, a — Volume 05" ***

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A MODERN CHRONICLE

By Winston Churchill


BOOK III


Volume 5.



CHAPTER I

ASCENDI

Honora did not go back to Quicksands. Neither, in this modern chronicle,
shall we.

The sphere we have left, which we know is sordid, sometimes shines in the
retrospect. And there came a time, after the excitement of furnishing the
new house was over, when our heroine, as it were, swung for a time in
space: not for a very long time; that month, perhaps, between autumn and
winter.

We need not be worried about her, though we may pause for a moment or two
to sympathize with her in her loneliness--or rather in the moods it
produced. She even felt, in those days, slightly akin to the Lady of the
Victoria (perfectly respectable), whom all of us fortunate enough
occasionally to go to New York have seen driving on Fifth Avenue with an
expression of wistful haughtiness, and who changes her costumes four
times a day.

Sympathy! We have seen Honora surrounded by friends--what has become of
them? Her husband is president of a trust company, and she has one of the
most desirable houses in New York. What more could be wished for? To jump
at conclusions in this way is by no means to understand a heroine with an
Ideal. She had these things, and--strange as it may seem--suffered.

Her sunny drawing-room, with its gathered silk curtains, was especially
beautiful; whatever the Leffingwells or Allisons may have lacked, it was
not taste. Honora sat in it and wondered: wondered, as she looked back
over the road she had threaded somewhat blindly towards the Ideal,
whether she might not somewhere have taken the wrong turn. The farther
she travelled, the more she seemed to penetrate into a land of
unrealities. The exquisite objects by which she was surrounded, and which
she had collected with such care, had no substance: she would not have
been greatly surprised, at any moment, to see them vanish like a scene in
a theatre, leaning an empty, windy stage behind them. They did not belong
to her, nor she to them.

Past generations of another blood, no doubt, had been justified in
looking upon the hazy landscapes in the great tapestries as their own:
and children's children had knelt, in times gone by, beside the carved
stone mantel. The big, gilded chairs with the silken seats might
appropriately have graced the table of the Hotel de Rambouillet. Would
not the warriors and the wits, the patient ladies of high degree and of
many children, and even the 'precieuses ridicules' themselves, turn over
in their graves if they could so much as imagine the contents of the
single street in modern New York where Honora lived?

One morning, as she sat in that room, possessed by these whimsical though
painful fancies, she picked up a newspaper and glanced through it,
absently, until her eye fell by chance upon a name on the editorial page.
Something like an electric shock ran through her, and the letters of the
name seemed to quiver and become red. Slowly they spelled--Peter Erwin.

"The argument of Mr. Peter Erwin, of St. Louis, before the Supreme Court
of the United States in the now celebrated Snowden case is universally
acknowledged by lawyers to have been masterly, and reminiscent of the
great names of the profession in the past. Mr. Erwin is not dramatic. He
appears to carry all before him by the sheer force of intellect, and by a
kind of Lincolnian ability to expose a fallacy: He is still a young man,
self-made, and studied law under Judge Brice of St. Louis, once President
of the National Bar Association, whose partner he is"....

Honora cut out the editorial and thrust it in her gown, and threw the
newspaper is the fire. She stood for a time after it had burned, watching
the twisted remnants fade from flame colour to rose, and finally blacken.
Then she went slowly up the stairs and put on her hat and coat and veil.
Although a cloudless day, it was windy in the park, and cold, the ruffled
waters an intense blue. She walked fast.

She lunched with Mrs. Holt, who had but just come to town; and the light,
like a speeding guest, was departing from the city when she reached her
own door.

"There is a gentleman in the drawing-room, madam," said the butler. "He
said he was an old friend, and a stranger in New York, and asked if he
might wait."

She stood still with presentiment.

"What is his name?" she asked.

"Mr. Erwin," said the man.

Still she hesitated. In the strange state in which she found herself that
day, the supernatural itself had seemed credible. And yet--she was not
prepared.

"I beg pardon, madam," the butler was saying, "perhaps I shouldn't--?"

"Yes, yes, you should," she interrupted him, and pushed past him up the
stairs. At the drawing-room door she paused--he was unaware of her
presence. And he had not changed! She wondered why she had expected him
to change. Even the glow of his newly acquired fame was not discernible
behind his well-remembered head. He seemed no older--and no younger. And
he was standing with his hands behind his back gazing in simple, silent
appreciation at the big tapestry nearest the windows.

"Peter," she said, in a low voice.

He turned quickly, and then she saw the glow. But it was the old glow,
not the new--the light m which her early years had been spent.

"What a coincidence!" she exclaimed, as he took her hand.

"Coincidence?"

"It was only this morning that I was reading in the newspaper all sorts
of nice things about you. It made me feel like going out and telling
everybody you were an old friend of mine." Still holding his fingers, she
pushed him away from her at arm's length, and looked at him. "What does
it feel like to be famous, and have editorials about one's self in the
New York newspapers?"

He laughed, and released his hands somewhat abruptly.

"It seems as strange to me, Honora, as it does to you."

"How unkind of you, Peter!" she exclaimed.

She felt his eyes upon her, and their searching, yet kindly and humorous
rays seemed to illuminate chambers within her which she would have kept
in darkness: which she herself did not wish to examine.

"I'm so glad to see you," she said a little breathlessly, flinging her
muff and boa on a chair. "Sit there, where I can look at you, and tell me
why you didn't let me know you were coming to New York."

He glanced a little comically at the gilt and silk arm-chair which she
designated, and then at her; and she smiled and coloured, divining the
humour in his unspoken phrase.

"For a great man," she declared, "you are absurd."

He sat down. In spite of his black clothes and the lounging attitude he
habitually assumed, with his knees crossed--he did not appear incongruous
in a seat that would have harmonized with the flowing robes of the
renowned French Cardinal himself. Honora wondered why. He impressed her
to-day as force--tremendous force in repose, and yet he was the same
Peter. Why was it? Had the clipping that even then lay in her bosom
effected this magic change? He had intimated as much, but she denied it
fiercely.

She rang for tea.

"You haven't told me why you came to New York," she said.

"I was telegraphed for, from Washington, by a Mr. Wing," he explained.

"A Mr. Wing," she repeated. "You don't mean by any chance James Wing?"

"The Mr. Wing," said Peter.

"The reason I asked," explained Honora, flushing, was because Howard is
--associated with him. Mr. Wing is largely interested in the Orange Trust
Company."

"Yes, I know," said Peter. His elbows were resting on the arms of his
chair, and he looked at the tips of his fingers, which met. Honora
thought it strange that he did not congratulate her, but he appeared to
be reflecting.

"What did Mr. Wing want?" she inquired in her momentary confusion, and
added hastily, "I beg your pardon, Peter. I suppose I ought not to ask
that."

"He was kind enough to wish me to live in New York he answered, still
staring at the tips of his fingers.

"Oh, how nice!" she cried--and wondered at the same time whether, on
second thoughts, she would think it so. "I suppose he wants you to be the
counsel for one of his trusts. When--when do you come?"

"I'm not coming."

"Not coming! Why? Isn't it a great compliment?"

He ignored the latter part of her remark; and it seemed to her, when she
recalled the conversation afterwards, that she had heard a certain note
of sadness under the lightness of his reply.

"To attempt to explain to a New Yorker why any one might prefer to live
in any other place would be a difficult task."

"You are incomprehensible, Peter," she declared. And yet she felt a
relief that surprised her, and a desire to get away from the subject.
"Dear old St. Louis! Somehow, in spite of your greatness, it seems to fit
you."

"It's growing," said Peter--and they laughed together.

"Why didn't you come to lunch?" she said.

"Lunch! I didn't know that any one ever went to lunch in New York--in
this part of it, at least--with less than three weeks' notice. And by the
way, if I am interfering with any engagement--"

"My book is not so full as all that. Of course you'll come and stay with
us, Peter."

He shook his head regretfully.

"My train leaves at six, from Forty-Second Street," he replied.

"Oh, you are niggardly," she cried. "To think how little I see of you,
Peter. And sometimes I long for you. It's strange, but I still miss you
terribly--after five years. It seems longer than that," she added, as she
poured the boiling water into the tea-pot. But she did not look at him.

He got up and walked as far as a water-colour on the wall.

"You have some beautiful things here, Honora," he said. "I am glad I have
had a glimpse of you surrounded by them to carry back to your aunt and
uncle."

She glanced about the room as he spoke, and then at him. He seemed the
only reality in it, but she did not say so.

"You'll see them soon," was what she said. And considered the miracle of
him staying there where Providence had placed him, and bringing the world
to him. Whereas she, who had gone forth to seek it--"The day after
to-morrow will be Sunday," he reminded her.

Nothing had changed there. She closed her eyes and saw the little dining
room in all the dignity of Sunday dinner, the big silver soup tureen
catching the sun, the flowered china with the gilt edges, and even a
glimpse of lace paper when the closet door opened; Aunt Mary and Uncle
Tom, with Peter between them. And these, strangely, were the only
tangible things and immutable.

"You'll give them--a good account of me?" she said. "I know that you do
not care for New York," she added with a smile. "But it is possible to be
happy here."

"I am glad you are happy, Honora, and that you have got what you wanted
in life. Although I may be unreasonable and provincial and--and Western,"
he confessed with a twinkle--for he had the characteristic national trait
of shading off his most serious remarks--"I have never gone so far as to
declare that happiness was a question of locality."

She laughed.

"Nor fame." Her mind returned to the loadstar.

"Oh, fame!" he exclaimed, with a touch of impatience, and he used the
word that had possessed her all day. "There is no reality in that. Men
are not loved for it."

She set down her cup quickly. He was looking at the water-colour.

"Have you been to the Metropolitan Museum lately?" he asked.

"The Metropolitan Museum?" she repeated in bewilderment.

"That would be one of the temptations of New York for me," he said. "I
was there for half an hour this afternoon before I presented myself at
your door as a suspicious character. There is a picture there, by Coffin,
called 'The Rain,' I believe. I am very fond of it. And looking at it on
such a winter's day as this brings back the summer. The squall coming,
and the sound of it in the trees, and the very smell of the wet
meadow-grass in the wind. Do you know it?"

"No," replied Honora, and she was suddenly filled with shame at the
thought that she had never been in the Museum. "I didn't know you were so
fond of pictures."

"I am beginning to be a rival of Mr. Dwyer," he declared. "I've bought
four--although I haven't built my gallery. When you come to St. Louis
I'll show them to you--and let us hope it will be soon."

For some time after she had heard the street door close behind him Honora
remained where she was, staring into the fire, and then she crossed the
room to a reading lamp, and turned it up.

Some one spoke in the doorway.

"Mr. Grainger, madam."

Before she could rouse herself and recover from her astonishment, the
gentleman himself appeared, blinking as though the vision of her were too
bright to be steadily gazed at. If the city had been searched, it is
doubtful whether a more striking contrast to the man who had just left
could have been found than Cecil Grainger in the braided, grey cutaway
that clung to the semblance of a waist he still possessed. In him Hyde
Park and Fifth Avenue, so to speak, shook hands across the sea: put him
in either, and he would have appeared indigenous.

"Hope you'll forgive my comin' 'round on such slight acquaintance, Mrs.
Spence," said he. "Couldn't resist the opportunity to pay my respects.
Shorter told me where you were."

"That was very good of Mr. Shorter," said Honora, whose surprise had
given place to a very natural resentment, since she had not the honour of
knowing Mrs. Grainger.

"Oh," said Mr. Grainger, "Shorter's a good sort. Said he'd been here
himself to see how you were fixed, and hadn't found you in. Uncommonly
well fixed, I should say," he added, glancing around the room with
undisguised approval. "Why the deuce did she furnish it, since she's gone
to Paris to live with Rindge?"

"I suppose you mean Mrs. Rindge," said Honora. "She didn't furnish it."

Mr. Grainger winked at her rapidly, like a man suddenly brought face to
face with a mystery.

"Oh!" he replied, as though he had solved it. The solution came a few
moments later. "It's ripping!" he said. "Farwell couldn't have done it
any better."

Honora laughed, and momentarily forgot her resentment.

"Will you have tea?" she asked. "Oh, don't sit down there!"

"Why not?" he asked, jumping. It was the chair that had held Peter, and
Mr. Grainger examined the seat as though he suspected a bent pin.

"Because," said Honora, "because it isn't comfortable. Pull up that other
one."

Again mystified, he did as he was told. She remembered his reputation for
going to sleep, and wondered whether she had been wise in her second
choice. But it soon became apparent that Mr. Grainger, as he gazed at her
from among the cushions, had no intention of dozing, His eyelids reminded
her of the shutters of a camera, and she had the feeling of sitting for
thousands of instantaneous photographs for his benefit. She was by turns
annoyed, amused, and distrait: Peter was leaving his hotel; now he was
taking the train. Was he thinking of her? He had said he was glad she was
happy! She caught herself up with a start after one of these silences to
realize that Mr. Grainger was making unwonted and indeed pathetic
exertions to entertain her, and it needed no feminine eye to perceive
that he was thoroughly uncomfortable. She had, unconsciously and in
thinking of Peter, rather overdone the note of rebuke of his visit. And
Honora was, above all else, an artist. His air was distinctly apologetic
as he rose, perhaps a little mortified, like that of a man who has got
into the wrong house.

"I very much fear I've intruded, Mrs. Spence," he stammered, and he was
winking now with bewildering rapidity. "We--we had such a pleasant drive
together that day to Westchester--I was tempted--"

"We did have a good time," she agreed. "And it has been a pleasure to see
you again."

Thus, in the kindness of her heart, she assisted him to cover his
retreat, for it was a strange and somewhat awful experience to see Mr.
Cecil Grainger discountenanced. He glanced again, as he went out, at the
chair in which he had been forbidden to sit.

She went to the piano, played over a few bars of Thais, and dropped her
hands listlessly. Cross currents of the strange events of the day flowed
through her mind: Peter's arrival and its odd heralding, and the
discomfort of Mr. Grainger.

Howard came in. He did not see her under the shaded lamp, and she sat
watching him with a curious feeling of detachment as he unfolded his
newspaper and sank, with a sigh of content, into the cushioned chair
which Mr. Grainger had vacated. Was it fancy that her husband's physical
attributes had changed since he had attained his new position of dignity?
She could have sworn that he had visibly swollen on the evening when he
had announced to her his promotion, and he seemed to have remained
swollen. Not bloated, of course: he was fatter, and--if possible pinker.
But there was a growing suggestion in him of humming-and-hawing
greatness. If there--were leisure in this too-leisurely chronicle for
what might be called aftermath, the dinner that Honora had given to some
of her Quicksands friends might be described. Suffice it to recall, with
Honora, that Lily Dallam, with a sure instinct, had put the finger of her
wit on this new attribute of Howard's.

"You'll kill me, Howard!" she had cried. "He even looks at the soup as
though he were examining a security!"

Needless to say, it did not cure him, although it sealed Lily Dallam's
fate--and incidentally that of Quicksands. Honora's thoughts as she sat
now at the piano watching him, flew back unexpectedly to the summer at
Silverdale when she had met him, and she tried to imagine, the genial and
boyish representative of finance that he was then. In the midst of this
effort he looked up and discovered her.

"What are you doing over there, Honora?" he asked.

"Thinking," she answered.

"That's a great way to treat a man when he comes home after a day's
work."

"I beg your pardon, Howard," she said with unusual meekness. "Who do you
think was here this afternoon?"

"Erwin? I've just come from Mr. Wing's house--he has gout to-day and
didn't go down town. He offered Erwin a hundred thousand a year to come
to New York as corporation counsel. And if you'll believe me--he refused
it."

"I'll believe you," she said.

"Did he say anything about it to you?"

"He simply mentioned that Mr. Wing asked him to come to New York. He
didn't say why."

"Well," Howard remarked, "he's one too many for me. He can't be making
over thirty thousand where he is."



CHAPTER II

THE PATH OF PHILANTHROPY

Mrs. Cecil Grainger may safely have been called a Personality, and one of
the proofs of this was that she haunted people who had never seen her.
Honora might have looked at her, it is true, on the memorable night of
the dinner with Mrs. Holt and Trixton Brent; but--for sufficiently
obvious reasons--refrained. It would be an exaggeration to say that Mrs.
Grainger became an obsession with our heroine; yet it cannot be denied
that, since Honora's arrival at Quicksands, this lady had, in increasing
degrees, been the subject of her speculations. The threads of Mrs.
Grainger's influence were so ramified, indeed, as to be found in Mrs.
Dallam, who declared she was the rudest woman in New York and yet had
copied her brougham; in Mr. Cuthbert and Trixton Brent; in Mrs. Kame; in
Mrs. Holt, who proclaimed her a tower of strength in charities; and
lastly in Mr. Grainger himself, who, although he did not spend much time
in his wife's company, had for her an admiration that amounted to awe.

Elizabeth Grainger, who was at once modern and tenaciously conservative,
might have been likened to some of the Roman matrons of the aristocracy
in the last years of the Republic. Her family, the Pendletons, had
traditions: so, for that matter, had the Graingers. But Senator
Pendleton, antique homo virtute et fide, had been a Roman of the old
school who would have preferred exile after the battle of Philippi; and
who, could he have foreseen modern New York and modern finance, would
have been more content to die when he did. He had lived in Washington
Square. His daughter inherited his executive ability, many of his
prejudices (as they would now be called), and his habit of regarding
favourable impressions with profound suspicion. She had never known the
necessity of making friends: hers she had inherited, and for some reason
specially decreed, they were better than those of less fortunate people.

Mrs. Grainger was very tall. And Sargent, in his portrait of her, had
caught with admirable art the indefinable, yet partly supercilious and
scornful smile with which she looked down upon the world about her. She
possessed the rare gift of combining conventionality with personal
distinction in her dress. Her hair was almost Titian red in colour, and
her face (on the authority of Mr. Reginald Farwell) was at once modern
and Italian Renaissance. Not the languid, amorous Renaissance, but the
lady of decision who chose, and did not wait to be chosen. Her eyes had
all the colours of the tapaz, and her regard was so baffling as to arouse
intense antagonism in those who were not her friends.

To Honora, groping about for a better and a higher life, the path of
philanthropy had more than once suggested itself. And on the day of
Peter's visit to New York, when she had lunched with Mrs. Holt, she had
signified her willingness (now that she had come to live in town) to join
the Working Girls' Relief Society. Mrs. Holt, needless to say, was
overjoyed: they were to have a meeting at her house in the near future
which Honora must not fail to attend. It was not, however, without a
feeling of trepidation natural to a stranger that she made her way to
that meeting when the afternoon arrived.

No sooner was she seated in Mrs. Holt's drawing-room--filled with
camp-chairs for the occasion--than she found herself listening
breathlessly to a recital of personal experiences by a young woman who
worked in a bindery on the East side. Honora's heart was soft: her
sympathies, as we know, easily aroused. And after the young woman had
told with great simplicity and earnestness of the struggle to support
herself and lead an honest and self-respecting existence, it seemed to
Honora that at last she had opened the book of life at the proper page.

Afterwards there were questions, and a report by Miss Harber, a
middle-aged lady with glasses who was the secretary. Honora looked around
her. The membership of the Society, judging by those present, was surely
of a sufficiently heterogeneous character to satisfy even the catholic
tastes of her hostess. There were elderly ladies, some benevolent and
some formidable, some bedecked and others unadorned; there were
earnest-looking younger women, to whom dress was evidently a secondary
consideration; and there was a sprinkling of others, perfectly gowned,
several of whom were gathered in an opposite corner. Honora's eyes, as
the reading of the report progressed, were drawn by a continual and
resistless attraction to this group; or rather to the face of one of the
women in it, which seemed to stare out at her like the eat in the tree of
an old-fashioned picture puzzle, or the lineaments of George Washington
among a mass of boulders on a cliff. Once one has discovered it, one can
see nothing else. In vain Honora dropped her eyes; some strange
fascination compelled her to raise them again until they met those of the
other woman: Did their glances meet? She could never quite be sure, so
disconcerting were the lights in that regard--lights, seemingly, of
laughter and mockery.

Some instinct informed Honora that the woman was Mrs. Grainger, and
immediately the scene in the Holland House dining-room came back to her.
Never until now had she felt the full horror of its comedy. And then, as
though to fill the cup of humiliation, came the thought of Cecil
Grainger's call. She longed, in an agony with which sensitive natures
will sympathize, for the reading to be over.

The last paragraph of the report contained tributes to Mrs. Joshua Holt
and Mrs. Cecil Grainger for the work each had done during the year, and
amidst enthusiastic hand-clapping the formal part of the meeting came to
an end. The servants were entering with tea as Honora made her way
towards the door, where she was stopped by Susan Holt.

"My dear Honora," cried Mrs. Holt, who had hurried after her daughter,
"you're not going?"

Honora suddenly found herself without an excuse.

"I really ought to, Mrs. Holt. I've had such a good time-and I've been so
interested. I never realized that such things occurred. And I've got one
of the reports, which I intend to read over again."

"But my dear," protested Mrs. Holt, "you must meet some of the members of
the Society. Bessie!"

Mrs. Grainger, indeed--for Honora had been right in her surmise--was
standing within ear-shot of this conversation. And Honora, who knew she
was there, could not help feeling that she took a rather redoubtable
interest in it. At Mrs. Holt's words she turned.

"Bessie, I've found a new recruit--one that I can answer for, Mrs.
Spence, whom I spoke to you about."

Mrs. Grainger bestowed upon Honora her enigmatic smile.

"Oh," she declared, "I've heard of Mrs. Spence from other sources, and
I've seen her, too."

Honora grew a fiery red. There was obviously no answer to such a remark,
which seemed the quintessence of rudeness. But Mrs. Grainger continued to
smile, and to stare at her with the air of trying to solve a riddle.

"I'm coming to see you, if I may," she said. "I've been intending to
since I've been in town, but I'm always so busy that I don't get time to
do the things I want to do."

An announcement that fairly took away Honora's breath. She managed to
express her appreciation of Mrs. Grainger's intention, and presently
found herself walking rapidly up-town through swirling snow, somewhat
dazed by the events of the afternoon. And these, by the way, were not yet
finished. As she reached her own door, a voice vaguely familiar called
her name.

"Honora!"

She turned. The slim, tall figure of a young woman descended from a
carriage and crossed the pavement, and in the soft light of the vestibule
she recognized Ethel Wing.

"I'm so glad I caught you," said that young lady when they entered the
drawing-room. And she gazed at her school friend. The colour glowed in
Honora's cheeks, but health alone could not account for the sparkle in
her eyes. "Why, you look radiant. You are more beautiful than you were at
Sutcliffe. Is it marriage?"

Honora laughed happily, and they sat down side by side on the lounge
behind the tea table.

"I heard you'd married," said Ethel, "but I didn't know what had become
of you until the other day. Jim never tells me anything. It appears that
he's seen something of you. But it wasn't from Jim that I heard about you
first. You'd never guess who told me you were here."

"Who?" asked Honora, curiously.

"Mr. Erwin."

"Peter Erwin!"

"I'm perfectly shameless," proclaimed Ethel Wing. "I've lost my heart to
him, and I don't care who knows it. Why in the world didn't you marry
him?"

"But--where did you see him?" Honora demanded as soon as she could
command herself sufficiently to speak. Her voice must have sounded odd.
Ethel did not appear to notice that.

"He lunched with us one day when father had gout. Didn't he tell you
about it? He said he was coming to see you that afternoon."

"Yes--he came. But he didn't mention being at lunch at your house."

"I'm sure that was like him," declared her friend. And for the first time
in her life Honora experienced a twinge of that world-old ailment
--jealousy. How did Ethel know what was like him? "I made father give him
up for a little while after lunch, and he talked about you the whole
time. But he was most interesting at the table," continued Ethel,
sublimely unconscious of the lack of compliment in the comparison; "as
Jim would say, he fairly wiped up the ground with father, and it isn't an
easy thing to do."

"Wiped up the ground with Mr. Wing!" Honora repeated.

"Oh, in a delightfully quiet, humorous way. That's what made it so
effective. I couldn't understand all of it; but I grasped enough to enjoy
it hugely. Father's so used to bullying people that it's become second
nature with him. I've seen him lay down the law to some of the biggest
lawyers in New York, and they took it like little lambs. He caught a
Tartar in Mr. Erwin. I didn't dare to laugh, but I wanted to."

"What was the discussion about?" asked Honora.

"I'm not sure that I can give you a very clear idea of it," said Ethel.
"Generally speaking, it was about modern trust methods, and what a
self-respecting lawyer would do and what he wouldn't. Father took the
ground that the laws weren't logical, and that they were different and
conflicting, anyway, in different States. He said they impeded the
natural development of business, and that it was justifiable for the
great legal brains of the country to devise means by which these laws
could be eluded. He didn't quite say that, but he meant it, and he
honestly believes it. The manner in which Mr. Erwin refuted it was a
revelation to me. I've been thinking about it since. You see, I'd never
heard that side of the argument. Mr. Erwin said, in the nicest way
possible, but very firmly, that a lawyer who hired himself out to enable
one man to take advantage of another prostituted his talents: that the
brains of the legal profession were out of politics in these days, and
that it was almost impossible for the men in the legislatures to frame
laws that couldn't be evaded by clever and unscrupulous devices. He cited
ever so many cases . . . "

Ethel's voice became indistinct, as though some one had shut a door in
front of it. Honora was trembling on the brink of a discovery: holding
herself back from it, as one who has climbed a fair mountain recoils from
the lip of an unsuspected crater at sight of the lazy, sulphurous fumes.
All the years of her marriage, ever since she had first heard his name,
the stature of James Wing had been insensibly growing, and the vastness
of his empire gradually disclosed. She had lived in that empire: in it
his word had stood for authority, his genius had been worshipped, his
decrees had been absolute.

She had met him once, in Howard's office, when he had greeted her
gruffly, and the memory of his rugged features and small red eyes, like
live coals, had remained. And she saw now the drama that had taken place
before Ethel's eyes. The capitalist, overbearing, tyrannical, hearing a
few, simple truths in his own house from Peter--her Peter. And she
recalled her husband's account of his talk with James Wing. Peter had
refused to sell himself. Had Howard? Many times during the days that
followed she summoned her courage to ask her husband that question, and
kept silence. She did not wish to know.

"I don't want to seem disloyal to papa," Ethel was saying. "He is under
great responsibilities to other people, to stockholders; and he must get
things done. But oh, Honora, I'm so tired of money, money, money and its
standards, and the things people are willing to do for it. I've seen too
much."

Honora looked at her friend, and believed her. One glance at the girl's
tired eyes--a weariness somehow enhanced--in effect by the gold sheen of
her hair--confirmed the truth of her words.

"You've changed, Ethel, since Sutcliffe," she said.

"Yes, I've changed," said Ethel Wing, and the weariness was in her voice,
too. "I've had too much, Honora. Life was all glitter, like a Christmas
tree, when I left Sutcliffe. I had no heart. I'm not at all sure that I
have one now. I've known all kinds of people--except the right kind. And
if I were to tell you some of the things that have happened to me in five
years you wouldn't believe them. Money has been at the bottom of it
all,--it ruined my brother, and it has ruined me. And then, the other
day, I beheld a man whose standards simply take no account of money, a
man who holds something else higher. I--I had been groping lately, and
then I seemed to see clear for the first time in my life. But I'm afraid
it comes too late."

Honora took her friend's hand in her own and pressed it.

"I don't know why I'm telling you all this," said Ethel: "It seems to-day
as though I had always known you, and yet we weren't particularly
intimate at school. I suppose I'm inclined to be oversuspicious. Heaven
knows I've had enough to make me so. But I always thought that you were a
little--ambitious. You'll forgive my frankness, Honora. I don't think
you're at all so, now." She glanced at Honora suddenly. "Perhaps you've
changed, too," she said.

Honora nodded.

"I think I'm changing all the time," she replied.

After a moment's silence, Ethel Wing pursued her own train of thought.

"Curiously enough when he--when Mr. Erwin spoke of you I seemed to get a
very different idea of you than the one I had always had. I had to go out
of town, but I made up my mind I'd come to see you as soon as I got back,
and ask you to tell me something about him."

"What shall I tell you?" asked Honora. "He is what you think he is, and
more."

"Tell me something of his early life," said Ethel Wing.

          .....................

There is a famous river in the western part of our country that
disappears into a canon, the walls of which are some thousands of feet
high, and the bottom so narrow that the confined waters roar through it
at breakneck speed. Sometimes they disappear entirely under the rock, to
emerge again below more furiously than ever. From the river-bed can be
seen, far, far above, a blue ribbon of sky. Once upon a time, not long
ago, two heroes in the service of the government of the United States,
whose names should be graven in the immortal rock and whose story read
wherever the language is spoken, made the journey through this canon and
came out alive. That journey once started, there could be no turning
back. Down and down they were buffeted by the rushing waters, over the
falls and through the tunnels, with time to think only of that which
would save them from immediate death, until they emerged into the
sunlight of the plain below.

All of which by way of parallel. For our own chronicle, hitherto
leisurely enough, is coming to its canon--perhaps even now begins to feel
the pressure of the shelving sides. And if our heroine be somewhat rudely
tossed from one boulder to another, if we fail wholly to understand her
emotions and her acts, we must blame the canon. She had, indeed, little
time to think.

One evening, three weeks or so after the conversation with Ethel Wing
just related, Honora's husband entered her room as her maid was giving
the finishing touches to her toilet.

"You're not going to wear that dress!" he exclaimed.

"Why not?" she asked, without turning from the mirror.

He lighted a cigarette.

"I thought you'd put on something handsome--to go to the Graingers'. And
where are your jewels? You'll find the women there loaded with 'em."

"One string of pearls is all I care to wear," said Honora--a reply with
which he was fain to be content until they were in the carriage, when she
added: "Howard, I must ask you as a favour not to talk that way before
the servants."

"What way?" he demanded.

"Oh," she exclaimed, "if you don't know I suppose it is impossible to
explain. You wouldn't understand."

"I understand one thing, Honora, that you're too confoundedly clever for
me," he declared.

Honora did not reply. For at that moment they drew up at a carpet
stretched across the pavement.

Unlike the mansions of vast and imposing facades that were beginning
everywhere to catch the eye on Fifth Avenue, and that followed mostly the
continental styles of architecture, the house of the Cecil Graingers had
a substantial, "middle of-the-eighties" appearance. It stood on a corner,
with a high iron fence protecting the area around it. Within, it gave one
an idea of space that the exterior strangely belied; and it was
furnished, not in a French, but in what might be called a comfortably
English, manner. It was filled, Honora saw, with handsome and priceless
things which did not immediately and aggressively strike the eye, but
which somehow gave the impression of having always been there. What
struck her, as she sat in the little withdrawing room while the maid
removed her overshoes, was the note of permanence.

Some of those who were present at Mrs. Grainger's that evening remember
her entrance into the drawing-room. Her gown, the colour of a rose-tinted
cloud, set off the exceeding whiteness of her neck and arms and vied with
the crimson in her cheeks, and the single glistening string of pearls
about the slender column of her neck served as a contrast to the shadowy
masses of her hair. Mr. Reginald Farwell, who was there, afterwards
declared that she seemed to have stepped out of the gentle landscape of
an old painting. She stood, indeed, hesitating for a moment in the
doorway, her eyes softly alight, in the very pose of expectancy that such
a picture suggested.

Honora herself was almost frightened by a sense of augury, of triumph, as
she went forward to greet her hostess. Conversation, for the moment, had
stopped. Cecil Grainger, with the air of one who had pulled aside the
curtain and revealed this vision of beauty and innocence, crossed the
room to welcome her. And Mrs. Grainger herself was not a little
surprised; she was not a dramatic person, and it was not often that her
drawing-room was the scene of even a mild sensation. No entrance could
have been at once so startling and so unexceptionable as Honora's.

"I was sorry not to find you when I called," she said. "I was sorry,
too," replied Mrs. Grainger, regarding her with an interest that was
undisguised, and a little embarrassing. "I'm scarcely ever at home,
except when I'm with the children. Do you know these people?"

"I'm not sure," said Honora, "but--I must introduce my husband to you."

"How d'ye do!" said Mr. Grainger, blinking at her when this ceremony was
accomplished. "I'm awfully glad to see you, Mrs. Spence, upon my word."

Honora could not doubt it. But he had little time to express his joy,
because of the appearance of his wife at Honora's elbow with a tall man
she had summoned from a corner.

"Before we go to dinner I must introduce my cousin, Mr. Chiltern--he is
to have the pleasure of taking you out," she said.

His name was in the class of those vaguely familiar: vaguely familiar,
too, was his face. An extraordinary face, Honora thought, glancing at it
as she took his arm, although she was struck by something less tangible
than the unusual features. He might have belonged to any nationality
within the limits of the Caucasian race. His short, kinky, black hair
suggested great virility, an effect intensified by a strongly bridged
nose, sinewy hands, and bushy eyebrows. But the intangible distinction
was in the eyes that looked out from under these brows the glimpse she
had of them as he bowed to her gravely, might be likened to the hasty
reading of a chance page in a forbidden book. Her attention was arrested,
her curiosity aroused. She was on that evening, so to speak, exposed for
and sensitive to impressions. She was on the threshold of the Alhambra.

"Hugh has such a faculty," complained Mr. Grainger, "of turning up at the
wrong moment!"

Dinner was announced. She took Chiltern's arm, and they fell into file
behind a lady in yellow, with a long train, who looked at her rather
hard. It was Mrs. Freddy Maitland. Her glance shifted to Chiltern, and it
seemed to Honora that she started a little.

"Hello, Hugh," she said indifferently, looking back over her shoulder;
"have you turned up again?"

"Still sticking to the same side of your horse, I see." he replied,
ignoring the question. "I told you you'd get lop-sided."

The deformity, if there were any, did not seem to trouble her.

"I'm going to Florida Wednesday. We want another man. Think it over."

"Sorry, but I've got something else to do," he said.

"The devil and idle hands," retorted Mrs. Maitland.

Honora was sure as she could be that Chiltern was angry, although he gave
no visible sign of this. It was as though the current ran from his arm
into hers.

"Have you been away?" she asked.

"It seems to me as though I had never been anywhere else," he answered,
and he glanced curiously at the guests ranging about the great,
flower-laden table. They sat down.

She was a little repelled, a little piqued; and a little relieved when
the man on her other side spoke to her, and she recognized Mr. Reginald
Farwell, the architect. The table capriciously swung that way. She did
not feel prepared to talk to Mr. Chiltern. And before entering upon her
explorations she was in need of a guide. She could have found none more
charming, none more impersonal, none more subtly aware of her wants
(which had once been his) than Mr. Farwell. With his hair parted with
geometrical precision from the back of his collar to his forehead, with
his silky mustache and eyes of soft hazel lights, he was all things to
all men and women--within reason. He was an achievement that civilization
had not hitherto produced, a combination of the Beaux Arts and the Jockey
Club and American adaptability. He was of those upon whom labour leaves
no trace.

There were preliminaries, mutually satisfactory. To see Mrs. Spence was
never to forget her, but more delicately intimated. He remembered to have
caught a glimpse of her at the Quicksands Club, and Mrs. Dallam nor her
house were not mentioned by either. Honora could not have been in New
York Long. No, it was her first winter, and she felt like a stranger.
Would Mr. Farwell tell her who some of these people were? Nothing charmed
Mr. Farwell so much as simplicity--when it was combined with personal
attractions. He did not say so, but contrived to intimate the former.

"It's always difficult when one first comes to New York," he declared,
"but it soon straightens itself out, and one is surprised at how few
people there are, after all. We'll begin on Cecil's right. That's Mrs.
George Grenfell."

"Oh, yes," said Honora, looking at a tall, thin woman of middle age who
wore a tiara, and whose throat was covered with jewels. Honora did not
imply that Mrs. Grenfell's name, and most of those that followed, were
extremely familiar to her.

"In my opinion she's got the best garden in Newport, and she did most of
it herself. Next to her, with the bald head, is Freddy Maitland. Next to
him is Miss Godfrey. She's a little eccentric, but she can afford to
be--the Godfreys for generations have done so much for the city. The man
with the beard, next her, is John Laurens, the philanthropist. That
pretty woman, who's just as nice as she looks, is Mrs. Victor Strange.
She was Agatha Pendleton--Mrs. Grainger's cousin. And the gentleman with
the pink face, whom she is entertaining--"

"Is my husband," said Honora, smiling. "I know something about him."

Mr. Farwell laughed. He admired her aplomb, and he did not himself change
countenance. Indeed, the incident seemed rather to heighten the
confidence between them. Honora was looking rather critically at Howard.
It was a fact that his face did grow red at this stage of a dinner, and
she wondered what Mrs. Strange found to talk to him about.

"And the woman on the other side of him?" she asked. "By the way, she has
a red face, too."

"So she has," he replied amusedly. "That is Mrs. Littleton Pryor, the
greatest living rebuke to the modern woman. Most of those jewels are
inherited, but she has accustomed herself by long practice to carry them,
as well as other burdens. She has eight children, and she's on every
charity list. Her ancestors were the very roots of Manhattan. She looks
like a Holbein--doesn't she?"

"And the extraordinary looking man on my right?" Honora asked. "I've got
to talk to him presently."

"Chiltern!" he said. "Is it possible you haven't heard something about
Hugh Chiltern?"

"Is it such lamentable ignorance?" she asked.

"That depends upon one's point of view," he replied. "He's always been a
sort of a--well, Viking," said Farwell.

Honora was struck by the appropriateness of the word.

"Viking--yes, he looks it exactly. I couldn't think. Tell me something
about him."

"Well," he laughed, lowering his voice a little, here goes for a little
rough and ready editing. One thing about Chiltern that's to be admired is
that he's never cared a rap what people think. Of course, in a way, he
never had to. His family own a section of the state, where they've had
woollen mills for a hundred years, more or less. I believe Hugh Chiltern
has sold 'em, or they've gone into a trust, or something, but the estate
is still there, at Grenoble--one of the most beautiful places I've ever
seen. The General--this man's father--was a violent, dictatorial man.
There is a story about his taking a battery at Gettysburg which is almost
incredible. But he went back to Grenoble after the war, and became the
typical public-spirited citizen; built up the mills which his own pioneer
grandfather had founded, and all that. He married an aunt of Mrs.
Grainger's,--one of those delicate, gentle women who never dare to call
their soul their own."

"And then?" prompted Honora, with interest.

"It's only fair to Hugh," Farwell continued, "to take his early years
into account. The General never understood him, and his mother died
before he went off to school. Men who were at Harvard with him say he has
a brilliant mind, but he spent most of his time across the Charles River
breaking things. It was, probably, the energy the General got rid of at
Gettysburg. What Hugh really needed was a war, and he had too much money.
He has a curious literary streak, I'm told, and wrote a rather remarkable
article--I've forgotten just where it appeared. He raced a yacht for a
while in a dare-devil, fiendish way, as one might expect; and used to go
off on cruises and not be heard of for months. At last he got engaged to
Sally Harrington--Mrs. Freddy Maitland."

Honora glanced across the table.

"Exactly," said Mr. Farwell. "That was seven or eight years ago. Nobody
ever knew the reason why she broke it--though it may have been pretty
closely guessed. He went away, and nobody's laid eyes on him until he
turned up to-night."

Honora's innocence was not too great to enable her to read between the
lines of this biography which Reginald Farwell had related with such
praiseworthy delicacy. It was a biography, she well knew, that, like a
score of others, had been guarded as jealously as possible within the
circle on the borders of which she now found herself. Mrs. Grainger with
her charities, Mrs. Littleton Pryor with her good works, Miss Godfrey
with her virtue--all swallowed it as gracefully as possible. Noblesse
oblige. Honora had read French and English memoirs, and knew that history
repeats itself. And a biography that is printed in black letter and
illuminated in gold is attractive in spite of its contents. The contents,
indeed, our heroine had not found uninteresting, and she turned now to
the subject with a flutter of anticipation.

He looked at her intently, almost boldly, she thought, and before she
dropped her eyes she had made a discovery. The thing stamped upon his
face and burning in his eyes was not world-weariness, disappointment,
despair. She could not tell what it was, yet; that it was none of these,
she knew. It was not unrelated to experience, but transcended it. There
was an element of purpose in it, of determination, almost--she would have
believed--of hope. That Mrs. Maitland nor any other woman was a part of
it she became equally sure. Nothing could have been more commonplace than
the conversation which began, and yet it held for her, between the lines
as in the biography, the thrill of interest. She was a woman, and
embarked on a voyage of discovery.

"Do you live in New York?" he asked.

"Yes," said Honora, "since this autumn."

"I've been away a good many years," he said, in explanation of his
question. "I haven't quite got my bearings. I can't tell you how queerly
this sort of thing affects me."

"You mean civilization?" she hazarded.

"Yes. And yet I've come back to it."

Of course she did not ask him why. Their talk was like the starting of a
heavy train--a series of jerks; and yet both were aware of an
irresistible forward traction. She had not recovered from her surprise in
finding herself already so far in his confidence.

"And the time will come, I suppose, when you'll long to get away again."

"No," he said, "I've come back to stay. It's taken me a long while to
learn it, but there's only one place for a man, and that's his own
country."

Her eyes lighted.

"There's always so much for a man to do."

"What would you do?" he asked curiously.

She considered this.

"If you had asked me that question two years ago--even a year ago--I
should have given you a different answer. It's taken me some time to
learn it, too, you see, and I'm not a man. I once thought I should have
liked to have been a king amongst money changers, and own railroad and
steamship lines, and dominate men by sheer power."

He was clearly interested.

"And now?" he prompted her.

She laughed a little, to relieve the tension.

"Well--I've found out that there are some men that kind of power can't
control--the best kind. And I've found out that that isn't the best kind
of power. It seems to be a brutal, barbarous cunning power now that I've
seen it at close range. There's another kind that springs from a man
himself, that speaks through his works and acts, that influences first
those around him, and then his community, convincing people of their own
folly, and that finally spreads in ever widening circles to those whom he
cannot see, and never will see."

She paused, breathing deeply, a little frightened at her own eloquence.
Something told her that she was not only addressing her own soul--she was
speaking to his.

"I'm afraid you'll think I'm preaching," she apologized.

"No," he said impatiently, "no."

"To answer your question, then, if I were a man of independent means, I
think I should go into politics. And I should put on my first campaign
banner the words, 'No Compromise.'"

It was a little strange that, until now--to-night-she had not definitely
formulated these ambitions. The idea of the banner with its inscription
had come as an inspiration. He did not answer, but sat regarding her,
drumming on the cloth with his strong, brown fingers.

"I have learned this much in New York," she said, carried on by her
impetus, "that men and women are like plants. To be useful, and to grow
properly, they must be firmly rooted in their own soil. This city seems
to me like a luxurious, overgrown hothouse. Of course," she added
hastily, "there are many people who belong here, and whose best work is
done here. I was thinking about those whom it attracts. And I have seen
so many who are only watered and fed and warmed, and who become
--distorted."

"It's extraordinary," replied Chiltern, slowly, "that you should say this
to me. It is what I have come to believe, but I couldn't have said it
half so well."

Mrs. Grainger gave the signal to rise. Honora took Chiltern's arm, and he
led her back to the drawing-room. She was standing alone by the fire when
Mrs. Maitland approached her.

"Haven't I seen you before?" she asked.



CHAPTER III

VINELAND

It was a pleasant Newport to which Honora went early in June, a fair city
shining in the midst of summer seas, a place to light the fires of
imagination. It wore at once an air of age, and of a new and sparkling
unreality. Honora found in the very atmosphere a certain magic which she
did not try to define, but to the enjoyment of which she abandoned
herself; and in those first days after her arrival she took a sheer
delight in driving about the island. Narrow Thames Street, crowded with
gay carriages, with its aspect of the eighteenth and it shops of the
twentieth century; the whiffs of the sea; Bellevue Avenue, with its
glorious serried ranks of trees, its erring perfumes from bright gardens,
its massed flowering shrubs beckoning the eye, its lawns of a truly
enchanted green. Through tree and hedge, as she drove, came ever changing
glimpses of gleaming palace fronts; glimpses that made her turn and look
again; that stimulated but did not satisfy, and left a pleasant longing
for something on the seeming verge of fulfilment.

The very stillness and solitude that seemed to envelop these palaces
suggested the enchanter's wand. To-morrow, perhaps, the perfect lawns
where the robins hopped amidst the shrubbery would become again the
rock-bound, windswept New England pasture above the sea, and screaming
gulls circle where now the swallows hovered about the steep blue roof of
a French chateau. Hundreds of years hence, would these great pleasure
houses still be standing behind their screens and walls and hedges? or
would, indeed, the shattered, vine-covered marble of a balustrade alone
mark the crumbling terraces whence once the fabled owners scanned the
sparkling waters of the ocean? Who could say?

The onward rush of our story between its canon walls compels us
reluctantly to skip the narrative of the winter conquests of the lady who
is our heroine. Popularity had not spoiled her, and the best proof of
this lay in the comments of a world that is nothing if not critical. No
beauty could have received with more modesty the triumph which had
greeted her at Mrs. Grenfell's tableaux, in April, when she had appeared
as Circe, in an architectural frame especially designed by Mr. Farwell
himself. There had been a moment of hushed astonishment, followed by an
acclaim that sent the curtain up twice again.

We must try to imagine, too, the logical continuation of that triumph in
the Baiae of our modern republic and empire, Newport. Open, Sesame!
seems, as ever, to be the countersign of her life. Even the palace gates
swung wide to her: most of them with the more readiness because she had
already passed through other gates--Mrs. Grainger's, for instance. Baiae,
apparently, is a topsy-turvy world in which, if one alights upside down,
it is difficult to become righted. To alight upside down, is to alight in
a palace. The Graingers did not live in one, but in a garden that existed
before the palaces were, and one that the palace owners could not copy: a
garden that three generations of Graingers, somewhat assisted by a
remarkable climate, had made with loving care. The box was priceless, the
spreading trees in the miniature park no less so, and time, the
unbribeable, alone could now have produced the wide, carefully cherished
Victorian mansion. Likewise not purchasable by California gold was a
grandfather whose name had been written large in the pages of American
history. His library was now lined with English sporting prints; but
these, too, were old and mellow and rare.

To reach Honora's cottage, you turned away from the pomp and glitter and
noise of Bellevue Avenue into the inviting tunnel of a leafy lane that
presently stopped of itself. As though to provide against the contingency
of a stray excursionist, a purple-plumed guard of old lilac trees massed
themselves before the house, and seemed to look down with contempt on the
new brick wall across the lane. 'Odi profanum vulgus'. It was on account
of the new brick wall, in fact, that Honora, through the intervention of
Mrs. Grainger and Mrs. Shorter, had been able to obtain this most
desirable of retreats, which belonged to a great-aunt of Miss Godfrey,
Mrs. Forsythe.

Mr. Chamberlin, none other than he of whom we caught a glimpse some years
ago in a castle near Silverdale, owned the wall and the grounds and the
palace it enclosed. This gentleman was of those who arrive in Newport
upside down; and was even now, with the somewhat doubtful assistance of
his wife, making lavish and pathetic attempts to right himself. Newport
had never forgiven him for the razing of a mansion and the felling of
trees which had been landmarks, and for the driving out of Mrs. Forsythe.
The mere sight of the modern wall had been too much for this lady--the
lilacs and the leaves in the lane mercifully hid the palace--and after
five and thirty peaceful summers she had moved out, and let the cottage.
It was furnished with delightful old-fashioned things that seemed to
express, at every turn, the aristocratic and uncompromising personality
of the owner who had lived so long in their midst.

Mr. Chamberlin, who has nothing whatever to do with this chronicle except
to have been the indirect means of Honora's installation, used to come
through the wall once a week or so to sit for half an hour on her porch
as long as he ever sat anywhere. He had reddish side-whiskers, and he
reminded her of a buzzing toy locomotive wound up tight and suddenly
taken from the floor. She caught glimpses of him sometimes in the
mornings buzzing around his gardeners, his painters, his carpenters, and
his grooms. He would buzz the rest of his life, but nothing short of a
revolution could take his possessions away.

The Graingers and the Grenfells and the Stranges might move mountains,
but not Mr. Chamberlin's house. Whatever heart-burnings he may have had
because certain people refused to come to his balls, he was in Newport to
remain. He would sit under the battlements until the crack of doom; or
rather--and more appropriate in Mr. Chamberlin's case--walk around them
and around, blowing trumpets until they capitulated.

Honora magically found herself within them, and without a siege. Behold
her at last in the setting for which we always felt she was destined. Why
is it, in this world, that realization is so difficult a thing? Now that
she is there, how shall we proceed to give the joys of her Elysium their
full value? Not, certainly, by repeating the word pleasure over and over
again: not by describing the palaces at which she lunched and danced and
dined, or the bright waters in which she bathed, or the yachts in which
she sailed. During the week, indeed, she moved untrammelled in a world
with which she found herself in perfect harmony: it was new, it was
dazzling, it was unexplored. During the week it possessed still another
and more valuable attribute--it was real. And she, Honora Leffingwell
Spence, was part and parcel of its permanence. The life relationships of
the people by whom she was surrounded became her own. She had little time
for thought--during the week.

We are dealing, now, in emotions as delicate as cloud shadows, and these
drew on as Saturday approached. On Saturdays and Sundays the quality and
texture of life seemed to undergo a change. Who does not recall the
Monday mornings of the school days of youth, and the indefinite feeling
betwixt sleep and waking that to-day would not be as yesterday or the day
before? On Saturday mornings, when she went downstairs, she was wont to
find the porch littered with newspapers and her husband lounging in a
wicker chair behind the disapproving lilacs. Although they had long
ceased to bloom, their colour was purple--his was pink.

Honora did not at first analyze or define these emotions, and was
conscious only of a stirring within her, and a change. Reality became
unreality. The house in which she lived, and for which she felt a passion
of ownership, was for two days a rented house. Other women in Newport had
week-end guests in the guise of husbands, and some of them went so far as
to bewail the fact. Some had got rid of them. Honora kissed hers
dutifully, and picked up the newspapers, drove him to the beach, and took
him out to dinner, where he talked oracularly of finance. On Sunday night
he departed, without visible regrets, for New York.

One Monday morning a storm was raging over Newport. Seized by a sudden
whim, she rang her bell, breakfasted at an unusual hour, and nine o'clock
found her, with her skirts flying, on the road above the cliffs that
leads to the Fort. The wind had increased to a gale, and as she stood on
the rocks the harbour below her was full of tossing white yachts
straining at their anchors. Serene in the midst of all this hubbub lay a
great grey battleship.

Presently, however, her thoughts were distracted by the sight of
something moving rapidly across her line of vision. A sloop yacht, with a
ridiculously shortened sail, was coming in from the Narrows, scudding
before the wind like a frightened bird. She watched its approach in a
sort of fascination, for of late she had been upon the water enough to
realize that the feat of which she was witness was not without its
difficulties. As the sloop drew nearer she made out a bare-headed figure
bent tensely at the wheel, and four others clinging to the yellow deck.
In a flash the boat had rounded to, the mainsail fell, and a veil of
spray hid the actors of her drama. When it cleared the yacht was tugging
like a wild thing at its anchor.

That night was Mrs. Grenfell's ball, and many times in later years has
the scene come back to Honora. It was not a large ball, by no means on
the scale of Mr. Chamberlin's, for instance. The great room reminded one
of the gallery of a royal French chateau, with its dished ceiling, in the
oval of which the colours of a pastoral fresco glowed in the ruby lights
of the heavy chandeliers; its grey panelling, hidden here and there by
tapestries, and its series of deep, arched windows that gave glimpses of
a lantern-hung terrace. Out there, beyond a marble balustrade, the lights
of fishing schooners tossed on a blue-black ocean. The same ocean on
which she had looked that morning, and which she heard now, in the
intervals of talk and laughter, crashing against the cliffs,--although
the wind had gone down. Like a woman stirred to the depths of her being,
its bosom was heaving still at the memory of the passion of the morning.

This night after the storm was capriciously mild, the velvet gown of
heaven sewn with stars. The music had ceased, and supper was being served
at little tables on the terrace. The conversation was desultory.

"Who is that with Reggie Farwell?" Ethel Wing asked.

"It's the Farrenden girl," replied Mr. Cuthbert, whose business it was to
know everybody. "Chicago wheat. She looks like Ceres, doesn't she? Quite
becoming to Reggie's dark beauty. She was sixteen, they tell me, when the
old gentleman emerged from the pit, and they packed her off to a convent
by the next steamer. Reggie may have the blissful experience of living in
one of his own houses if he marries her."

The fourth at the table was Ned Carrington, who had been first secretary
at an Embassy, and he had many stories to tell of ambassadors who spoke
commercial American and asked royalties after their wives. Some one had
said about him that he was the only edition of the Almanach de Gotha that
included the United States. He somewhat resembled a golden seal emerging
from a cold bath, and from time to time screwed an eyeglass into his eye
and made a careful survey of Mrs. Grenfell's guests.

"By George!" he exclaimed. "Isn't that Hugh Chiltern?"

Honora started, and followed the direction of Mr. Carrington's glance. At
sight of him, a vivid memory of the man's personality possessed her.

"Yes," Cuthbert was saying, "that's Chiltern sure enough. He came in on
Dicky Farnham's yacht this morning from New York."

"This morning!" said Ethel Wing. "Surely not! No yacht could have come in
this morning."

"Nobody but Chiltern would have brought one in, you mean," he corrected
her. "He sailed her. They say Dicky was half dead with fright, and wanted
to put in anywhere. Chiltern sent him below and kept right on. He has a
devil in him, I believe. By the way, that's Dicky Farnham's ex-wife he's
talking to--Adele. She keeps her good looks, doesn't she? What's happened
to Rindge?"

"Left him on the other side, I hear," said Carrington. "Perhaps she'll
take Chiltern next. She looked as though she were ready to. And they say
it's easier every time."

"C'est le second mari qui coute," paraphrased Cuthbert, tossing his cigar
over the balustrade. The strains of a waltz floated out of the windows,
the groups at the tables broke up, and the cotillon began.

As Honora danced, Chiltern remained in the back of her mind, or rather an
indefinite impression was there which in flashes she connected with him.
She wondered, at times, what had become of him, and once or twice she
caught herself scanning the bewildering, shifting sheen of gowns and
jewels for his face. At last she saw him by the windows, holding a favour
in his hand, coming in her direction. She looked away, towards the red
uniforms of the Hungarian band on the raised platform at the end of the
room. He was standing beside her.

"Do you remember me, Mrs. Spence?" he asked.

She glanced up at him and smiled. He was not a person one would be likely
to forget, but she did not say so.

"I met you at Mrs. Granger's," was what she said.

He handed her the favour. She placed it amongst the collection at the
back of her chair and rose, and they danced. Was it dancing? The music
throbbed; nay, the musicians seemed suddenly to have been carried out of
themselves, and played as they had not played before. Her veins were
filled with pulsing fire as she was swung, guided, carried out of herself
by the extraordinary virility of the man who held her. She had tasted
mastery.

"Thank you," she faltered, as they came around the second time to her
seat.

He released her.

"I stayed to dance with you," he said. "I had to await my opportunity."

"It was kind of you to remember me," she replied, as she went off with
Mr. Carrington.

A moment later she saw him bidding good night to his hostess. His face,
she thought, had not lost that strange look of determination that she
recalled. And yet--how account for his recklessness?

"Rum chap, Chiltern," remarked Carrington. "He might be almost anything,
if he only knew it."

In the morning, when she awoke, her eye fell on the cotillon favours
scattered over the lounge. One amongst them stood out--a silver-mounted
pin-cushion. Honora arose, picked it up contemplatively, stared at it
awhile, and smiled. Then she turned to her window, breathing in the
perfumes, gazing out through the horse-chestnut leaves at the green,
shadow-dappled lawn below.

On her breakfast tray, amidst some invitations, was a letter from her.
uncle. This she opened first.

   "Dear Honora," he wrote, "amongst your father's papers, which have
   been in my possession since his death, was a certificate for three
   hundred shares in a land company. He bought them for very little,
   and I had always thought them worthless. It turns out that these
   holdings are in a part of the state of Texas that is now being
   developed; on the advice of Mr. Isham and others I have accepted an
   offer of thirty dollars a share, and I enclose a draft on New York
   for nine thousand dollars. I need not dwell upon the pleasure it is
   for me to send you this legacy from your father. And I shall only
   add the counsel of an old uncle, to invest this money by your
   husband's advice in some safe securities." . . .

Honora put down the letter, and sat staring at the cheque in her hand.
Nine thousand dollars--and her own! Her first impulse was to send it back
to her uncle. But that would be, she knew, to hurt his feelings--he had
taken such a pride in handing her this inheritance. She read the letter
again, and resolved that she would not ask Howard to invest the money.
This, at least, should be her very own, and she made up her mind to take
it to a bank in Thames Street that morning.

While she was still under the influence of the excitement aroused by the
unexpected legacy, Mrs. Shorter came in, a lady with whom Honora's
intimacy had been of steady growth. The tie between them might perhaps
have been described as intellectual, for Elsie Shorter professed only to
like people who were "worth while." She lent Honora French plays,
discussed them with her, and likewise a wider range of literature,
including certain brightly bound books on evolution and sociology.

In the eighteenth century, Mrs. Shorter would have had a title and a
salon in the Faubourg: in the twentieth, she was the wife of a most
fashionable and successful real estate agent in New York, and was aware
of no incongruity. Bourgeoise was the last thing that could be said of
her; she was as ready as a George Sand to discuss the whole range of
human emotions; which she did many times a week with certain gentlemen of
intellectual bent who had the habit of calling on her. She had never, to
the knowledge of her acquaintances, been shocked. But while she believed
that a great love carried, mysteriously concealed in its flame, its own
pardon, she had through some fifteen years of married life remained
faithful to Jerry Shorter: who was not, to say the least, a Lochinvar or
a Roland. Although she had had nervous prostration and was thirty-four,
she was undeniably pretty. She was of the suggestive, and not the
strong-minded type, and the secret of her strength with the other sex was
that she was in the habit of submitting her opinions for their approval.

"My dear," she said to Honora, "you may thank heaven that you are still
young enough to look beautiful in negligee. How far have you got? Have
you guessed of which woman Vivarce was the lover? And isn't it the most
exciting play you've ever read? Ned Carrington saw it in Paris, and
declares it frightened him into being good for a whole week!"

"Oh, Elsie," exclaimed Honora, apologetically, "I haven't read a word of
it."

Mrs. Shorter glanced at the pile of favours.

"How was the dance?" she asked. "I was too tired to go. Hugh Chiltern
offered to take me."

"I saw Mr. Chiltern there. I met him last winter at the Graingers'."

"He's staying with us," said Mrs. Shorter; "you know he's a sort of
cousin of Jerry's, and devoted to him. He turned up yesterday morning on
Dicky Farnham's yacht, in the midst of all that storm. It appears that
Dicky met him in New York, and Hugh said he was coming up here, and Dicky
offered to sail him up. When the storm broke they were just outside, and
all on board lost their heads, and Hugh took charge and sailed in. Dicky
told me that himself."

"Then it wasn't--recklessness," said Honora, involuntarily. But Mrs.
Shorter did not appear to be surprised by the remark.

"That's what everybody thinks, of course," she answered. "They say that
he had a chance to run in somewhere, and browbeat Dicky into keeping on
for Newport at the risk of their lives. They do Hugh an injustice. He
might have done that some years ago, but he's changed."

Curiosity got the better of Honora.

"Changed?" she repeated.

"Of course you didn't know him in the old days, Honora," said Mrs.
Shorter. "You wouldn't recognize him now. I've seen a good deal of men,
but he is the most interesting and astounding transformation I've ever
known."

"How?" asked Honora. She was sitting before the glass, with her hand
raised to her hair.

Mrs. Shorter appeared puzzled.

"That's what interests me," she said. "My dear, don't you think life
tremendously interesting? I do. I wish I could write a novel. Between
ourselves, I've tried. I had Mr. Dewing send it to a publisher, who said
it was clever, but had no plot. If I only could get a plot!"

Honora laughed.

"How would I The Transformation of Mr. Chiltern' do, Elsie?"

"If I only knew what's happened to him, and how he's going to end!"
sighed Mrs. Shorter.

"You were saying," said Honora, for her friend seemed to have relapsed
into a contemplation of this problem, "you were saying that he had
changed."

"He goes away for seven years, and he suddenly turns up filled with
ambition and a purpose in life, something he had never dreamed of. He's
been at Grenoble, where the Chiltern estate is, making improvements and
preparing to settle down there. And he's actually getting ready to write
a life of his father, the General--that's the most surprising thing! They
never met but to strike fire while the General was alive. It appears that
Jerry and Cecil Grainger and one or two other people have some of the old
gentleman's letters, and that's the reason why Hugh's come to Newport.
And the strangest thing about it, my dear," added Mrs. Shorter,
inconsequently, "is that I don't think it's a love affair."

Honora laughed again. It was the first time she had ever heard Mrs.
Shorter attribute unusual human phenomena to any other source. "He wrote
Jerry that he was coming back to live on the estate,--from England. And
he wasn't there a week. I can't think where he's seen any women--that
is," Mrs. Shorter corrected herself hastily, "of his own class. He's been
in the jungle--India, Africa, Cores. That was after Sally Harrington
broke the engagement. And I'm positive he's not still in love with Sally.
She lunched with me yesterday, and I watched him. Oh, I should have known
it. But Sally hasn't got over it. It wasn't a grand passion with Hugh. I
don't believe he's ever had such a thing. Not that he isn't capable of
it--on the contrary, he's one of the few men I can think of who is."

At this point in the conversation Honora thought that her curiosity had
gone far enough.



CHAPTER IV

THE VIKING

She was returning on foot from the bank in Thames Street, where she had
deposited her legacy, when she met him who had been the subject of her
conversation with Mrs. Shorter. And the encounter seemed--and was--the
most natural thing in the world. She did not stop to ask herself why it
was so fitting that the Viking should be a part of Vineland: why his
coming should have given it the one and final needful touch. For that
designation of Reginald Farwell's had come back to her. Despite the fact
that Hugh Chiltern had with such apparent resolution set his face towards
literature and the tillage of the land, it was as the Viking still that
her imagination pictured him. By these tokens we may perceive that this
faculty of our heroine's has been at work, and her canvas already
sketched in.

Whether by design or accident he was at the leafy entrance of her lane
she was not to know. She spied him standing there; and in her leisurely
approach a strange conceit of reincarnation possessed her, and she smiled
at the contrast thus summoned up. Despite the jingling harnesses of
Bellevue Avenue and the background of Mr. Chamberlin's palace wall;
despite the straw hat and white trousers and blue double-breasted serge
coat in which he was conventionally arrayed, he was the sea fighter
still--of all the ages. M. Vipsanius Agrippa, who had won an empire for
Augustus, had just such a head.

Their greeting, too, was conventional enough, and he turned and walked
with her up the lane, and halted before the lilacs. "You have Mrs.
Forsythe's house," he said. "How well I remember it! My mother used to
bring me here years ago."

"Won't you come in?" asked Honora, gently.

He seemed to have forgotten her as they mounted in silence to the porch,
and she watched him with curious feelings as he gazed about him, and
peered through the windows into the drawing-room.

"It's just as it was," he said. "Even the furniture. I'm glad you haven't
moved it. They used to sit over there in the corner, and have tea on the
ebony table. And it was always dark-just as it is now. I can see them.
They wore dresses with wide skirts and flounces, and queer low collars
and bonnets. And they talked in subdued voices--unlike so many women in
these days."

She was a little surprised, and moved, by the genuine feeling with which
he spoke.

"I was most fortunate to get the house," she answered. "And I have grown
to love it. Sometimes it seems as though I had always lived here."

"Then you don't envy that," he said, flinging his hand towards an opening
in the shrubbery which revealed a glimpse of one of the pilasters of the
palace across the way. The instinct of tradition which had been the cause
of Mrs. Forsythe's departure was in him, too. He, likewise, seemed to
belong to the little house as he took one of the wicker chairs.

"Not," said Honora, "when I can have this."

She was dressed in white, her background of lilac leaves. Seated on the
railing, with the tip of one toe resting on the porch, she smiled down at
him from under the shadows of her wide hat.

"I didn't think you would," he declared. "This place seems to suit you,
as I imagined you. I have thought of you often since we first met last
winter."

"Yes," she replied hastily, "I am very happy here. Mrs. Shorter tells me
you are staying with then."

"When I saw you again last night," he continued, ignoring her attempt to
divert the stream from his channel, I had a vivid impression as of having
just left you. Have you ever felt that way about people?"

"Yes," she admitted, and poked the toe of her boot with her parasol.

"And then I find you in this house, which has so many associations for
me. Harmoniously here," he added, "if you know what I mean. Not a
newcomer, but some one who must always have been logically expected."

She glanced at him quickly, with parted lips. It was she who had done
most of the talking at Mrs. Grainger's dinner; and the imaginative
quality of mind he was now revealing was unlooked for. She was surprised
not to find it out of character. It is a little difficult to know what
she expected of him, since she did not know herself the methods, perhaps;
of the Viking in Longfellow's poem. She was aware, at least, that she had
attracted him, and she was beginning to realize it was not a thing that
could be done lightly. This gave her a little flutter of fear.

"Are you going to be long in Newport?" she asked.

"I am leaving on Friday," he replied. "It seems strange to be here again
after so many years. I find I've got out of touch with it. And I haven't
a boat, although Farnham's been kind enough to offer me his."

"I can't imagine you, somehow, without a boat," she said, and added
hastily: "Mrs. Shorter was speaking of you this morning, and said that
you were always on the water when you were here. Newport must have been
quite different then."

He accepted the topic, and during the remainder of his visit she
succeeded in keeping the conversation in the middle ground, although she
had a sense of the ultimate futility of the effort; a sense of pressure
being exerted, no matter what she said. She presently discovered,
however, that the taste for literature attributed to him which had seemed
so incongruous--existed. He spoke with a new fire when she led him that
way, albeit she suspected that some of the fuel was derived from the
revelation that she shared his liking for books. As the extent of his
reading became gradually disclosed, however, her feeling of inadequacy
grew, and she resolved in the future to make better use of her odd
moments. On her table, in two green volumes, was the life of a
Massachusetts statesman that Mrs. Shorter had lent her. She picked it up
after Chiltern had gone. He had praised it.

He left behind him a blurred portrait on her mind, as that of two men
superimposed. And only that morning he had had such a distinct impression
of one. It was from a consideration of this strange phenomenon, with her
book lying open in her lap, that her maid aroused her to go to Mrs.
Pryor's. This was Tuesday.

Some of the modern inventions we deem most marvellous have been fitted
for ages to man and woman. Woman, particularly, possesses for instance a
kind of submarine bell; and, if she listens, she can at times hear it
tinkling faintly. And the following morning, Wednesday, Honora heard hers
when she received an invitation to lunch at Mrs. Shorter's. After a
struggle, she refused, but Mrs. Shorter called her up over the telephone,
and she yielded.

"I've got Alfred Dewing for myself," said Elsie Shorter, as she greeted
Honora in the hall. "He writes those very clever things--you've read
them. And Hugh for you," she added significantly.

The Shorter cottage, though commodious, was simplicity itself. From the
vine-covered pergola where they lunched they beheld the distant sea like
a lavender haze across the flats. And Honora wondered whether there were
not an element of truth in what Mr. Dewing said of their hostess--that
she thought nothing immoral except novels with happy endings. Chiltern
did not talk much: he looked at Honora.

"Hugh has got so serious," said Elsie Shorter, "that sometimes I'm
actually afraid of him. You ought to have done something to be as serious
as that, Hugh."

"Done something!"

"Written the 'Origin of Species,' or founded a new political party, or
executed a coup d'etat. Half the time I'm under the delusion that I'm
entertaining a celebrity under my roof, and I wake up and it's only
Hugh."

"It's because he looks as though he might do any of those things,"
suggested Mr. Deming. "Perhaps he may."

"Oh," said Elsie Shorter, "the men who do them are usually little wobbly
specimens."

Honora was silent, watching Chiltern. At times the completeness of her
understanding of him gave her an uncanny sensation; and again she failed
to comprehend him at all. She felt his anger go to a white heat, but the
others seemed blissfully unaware of the fact. The arrival of coffee made
a diversion.

"You and Hugh may have the pergola, Honora. I'll take Mr. Deming into the
garden."

"I really ought to go in a few minutes, Elsie," said Honora.

"What nonsense!" exclaimed Mrs. Shorter. "If it's bridge at the
Playfairs', I'll telephone and get you out of it."

"No--"

"Then I don't see where you can be going," declared Mrs. Shorter, and
departed with her cavalier.

"Why are you so anxious to get away?" asked Chiltern, abruptly.

Honora coloured.

"Oh--did I seem so? Elsie has such a mania for pairing people
off-sometimes it's quite embarrassing."

"She was a little rash in assuming that you'd rather talk to me," he
said, smiling.

"You were not consulted, either."

"I was consulted before lunch," he replied.

"You mean--?"

"I mean that I wanted you," he said. She had known it, of course. The
submarine bell had told her. And he could have found no woman in Newport
who would have brought more enthusiasm to his aid than Elsie Shorter.

"And you usually--get what you want," she retorted with a spark of
rebellion.

"Yes," he admitted. "Only hitherto I haven't wanted very desirable
things."

She laughed, but her curiosity got the better of her.

"Hitherto," she said, "you have just taken what you desired."

From the smouldering fires in his eyes darted an arrowpoint of flame.

"What kind of a man are you?" she asked, throwing the impersonal to the
winds. "Somebody called you a Viking once."

"Who?" he demanded.

"It doesn't matter. I'm beginning to think the name singularly
appropriate. It wouldn't be the first time one landed in Newport,
according to legend," she added.

"I haven't read the poem since childhood," said Chiltern, looking at her
fixedly, "but he became--domesticated, if I remember rightly."

"Yes," she admitted, "the impossible happened to him, as it usually does
in books. And then, circumstances helped. There were no other women."

"When the lady died," said Chiltern, "he fell upon his spear."

"The final argument for my theory," declared Honora.

"On the contrary," he maintained, smiling, "it proves there is always one
woman for every man--if he cars find her. If this man had lived in modern
times, he would probably have changed from a Captain Kidd into a useful
citizen of the kind you once said you admired."

"Is a woman necessary," she asked, "for the transformation?"

He looked at her so intently that she blushed to the hair clustering at
her temples. She had not meant that her badinage should go so deep.

"It was not a woman," he said slowly, "that brought me back to America."

"Oh," she exclaimed, suffused, "I hope you won't think that curiosity"
--and got no farther.

He was silent a moment, and when she ventured to glance up at him one of
those enigmatical changes had taken place. He was looking at her gravely,
though intently, and the Viking had disappeared.

"I wanted you to know," he answered. "You must have heard more or less
about me. People talk. Naturally these things haven't been repeated to
me, but I dare say many of them are true. I haven't been a saint, and I
don't pretend to be now. I've never taken the trouble to deceive any one.
And I've never cared, I'm sorry to say, what was said. But I'd like you
to believe that when I agreed with with the sentiments you expressed the
first time I saw you, I was sincere. And I am still sincere."

"Indeed, I do believe it!" cried Honora.

His face lighted.

"You seemed different from the other women I had known--of my generation,
at least," he went on steadily. "None of them could have spoken as you
did. I had just landed that morning, and I should have gone direct to
Grenoble, but there was some necessary business to be attended to in New
York. I didn't want to go to Bessie's dinner, but she insisted. She was
short of a man. I went. I sat next to you, and you interpreted my mind.
It seemed too extraordinary not to have had a significance."

Honora did not reply. She felt instinctively that he was a man who was
not wont ordinarily to talk about his affairs. Beneath his speech was an
undercurrent--or undertow, perhaps--carrying her swiftly, easily,
helpless into the deep waters of intimacy. For the moment she let herself
go without a struggle. Her silence was of a breathless quality which he
must have felt.

"And I am going to tell you why I came home," he said. "I have spoken of
it to nobody, but I wish you to know that it had nothing to do with any
ordinary complication these people may invent. Nor was there anything
supernatural about it: what happened to me, I suppose, is as old a story
as civilization itself. I'd been knocking about the world for a good many
years, and I'd had time to think. One day I found myself in the interior
of China with a few coolies and a man who I suspect was a ticket-of-leave
Englishman. I can see the place now the yellow fog, the sand piled up
against the wall like yellow snow. Desolation was a mild name for it. I
think I began with a consideration of the Englishman who was asleep in
the shadow of a tower. There was something inconceivably hopeless in his
face in that ochre light. Then the place where I was born and brought up
came to me with a startling completeness, and I began to go over my own
life, step by step. To make a long story short, I perceived that what my
father had tried to teach me, in his own way, had some reason in it. He
was a good deal of a man. I made up my mind I'd come home and start in
where I belonged. But I didn't do so right away--I finished the trip
first, and lent the Englishman a thousand pounds to buy into a firm in
Shanghai. I suppose," he added, "that is what is called suggestion. In my
case it was merely the cumulative result of many reflections in waste
places."

"And since then?"

"Since then I have been at Grenoble, making repairs and trying to learn
something about agriculture. I've never been as happy in my life."

"And you're going back on Friday," she said.

He glanced at her quickly. He had detected the note in her speech: though
lightly uttered, it was unmistakably a command. She tried to soften its
effect in her next sentence.

"I can't express how much I appreciate your telling me this," she said.
"I'll confess to you I wished to think that something of that kind had
happened. I wished to believe that--that you had made this determination
alone. When I met you that night there was something about you I couldn't
account for. I haven't been able to account for it until now."

She paused, confused, fearful that she had gone too far. A moment later
she was sure of it. A look came into his eyes that frightened her.

"You've thought of me?" he said.

"You must know," she replied, "that you have an unusual personality--a
striking one. I can go so far as to say that I remembered you when you
reappeared at Mrs. Grenfell's--" she hesitated.

He rose, and walked to the far end of the tiled pavement of the pergola,
and stood for a moment looking out over the sea. Then he turned to her.

"I either like a person or I don't," he said. "And I tell you frankly I
have never met a woman whom I cared for as I do you. I hope you're not
going to insist upon a probationary period of months before you decide
whether you can reciprocate."

Here indeed was a speech in his other character, and she seemed to see,
in a flash, his whole life in it. There was a touch of boyishness that
appealed, a touch of insistent masterfulness that alarmed. She recalled
that Mrs. Shorter had said of him that he had never had to besiege a
fortress--the white flag had always appeared too quickly. Of course there
was the mystery of Mrs. Maitland--still to be cleared up. It was plain,
at least, that resistance merely made him unmanageable. She smiled.

"It seems to me," she said, "that in two days we have become
astonishingly intimate."

"Why shouldn't we?" he demanded.

But she was not to be led into casuistry.

"I've been reading the biography you recommended," she said.

He continued to look at her a moment, and laughed as he sat down beside
her. Later he walked home with her. A dinner and bridge followed, and it
was after midnight when she returned. As her maid unfastened her gown she
perceived that her pincushion had been replaced by the one she had
received at the ball.

"Did you put that there, Mathilde?" she asked.

Mathilde had. She had seen it on madame's bureau, and thought madame
wished it there. She would replace the old one at once.

"No," said Honora, "you may leave it, now."

"Bien, madame," said the maid, and glanced at her mistress, who appeared
to have fallen into a revery.

It had seemed strange to her to hear people talking about him at the
dinner that night, and once or twice her soul had sprung to arms to
champion him, only to remember that her knowledge was special. She alone
of all of them understood, and she found herself exulting in the
superiority. The amazed comment when the heir to the Chiltern fortune had
returned to the soil of his ancestors had been revived on his arrival in
Newport. Ned Carrington, amid much laughter, had quoted the lines about
Prince Hal:

          "To mock the expectations of the world,
          To frustrate prophecies."

Honora disliked Mr. Carrington.

Perhaps the events of Thursday, would better be left in the confusion in
which they remained in Honora's mind. She was awakened by penetrating,
persistent, and mournful notes which for some time she could not
identify, although they sounded oddly familiar; and it was not until she
felt the dampness of the coverlet and looked at the white square of her
open windows that she realized there was a fog. And it had not lifted
when Chiltern came in the afternoon. They discussed literature--but the
book had fallen to the floor. 'Absit omen'! If printing had then been
invented, undoubtedly there would have been a book instead of an apple in
the third chapter of Genesis. He confided to her his plan of collecting
his father's letters and of writing the General's life. Honora, too,
would enjoy writing a book. Perhaps the thought of the pleasure of
collaboration occurred to them both at once; it was Chiltern who wished
that he might have her help in the difficult places; she had, he felt,
the literary instinct. It was not the Viking who was talking now. And
then, at last, he had risen reluctantly to leave. The afternoon had
flown. She held out her hand with a frank smile.

"Good-by," she said. "Good-by, and good luck."

"But I may not go," he replied.

She stood dismayed.

"I thought you told me you were going on Friday--to-morrow."

"I merely set that as a probable date. I have changed my mind. There is
no immediate necessity. Do you wish me to go?" he demanded.

She had turned away, and was straightening the books on the table.

"Why should I?" she said.

"You wouldn't object to my remaining a few days more?" He had reached the
doorway.

"What have I to do with your staying?" she asked.

"Everything," he answered--and was gone.

She stood still. The feeling that possessed her now was rebellion, and
akin to hate.

Her conduct, therefore, becomes all the more incomprehensible when we
find her accepting, the next afternoon, his invitation to sail on Mr.
Farnham's yacht, the 'Folly'. It is true that the gods will not exonerate
Mrs. Shorter. That lady, who had been bribed with Alfred Dewing, used her
persuasive powers; she might be likened to a skilful artisan who blew
wonderful rainbow fabrics out of glass without breaking it; she blew the
tender passion into a thousand shapes, and admired every one. Her
criminal culpability consisted in forgetting the fact that it could not
be trusted with children.

Nature seems to delight in contrasts. As though to atone for the fog she
sent a dazzling day out of the northwest, and the summer world was
stained in new colours. The yachts were whiter, the water bluer, the
grass greener; the stern grey rocks themselves flushed with purple. The
wharves were gay, and dark clustering foliage hid an enchanted city as
the Folly glided between dancing buoys. Honora, with a frightened glance
upward at the great sail, caught her breath. And she felt rather than saw
the man beside her guiding her seaward.

A discreet expanse of striped yellow deck separated them from the wicker
chairs where Mrs. Shorter and Mr. Dewing were already established. She
glanced at the profile of the Viking, and allowed her mind to dwell for
an instant upon the sensations of that other woman who had been snatched
up and carried across the ocean. Which was the quality in him that
attracted her? his lawlessness, or his intellect and ambition? Never, she
knew, had he appealed to her more than at this moment, when he stood, a
stern figure at the wheel, and vouchsafed her nothing but commonplaces.
This, surely, was his element.

Presently, however, the yacht slid out from the infolding land into an
open sea that stretched before them to a silver-lined horizon. And he
turned to her with a disconcerting directness, as though taking for
granted a subtle understanding between them.

"How well you sail," she said, hurriedly.

"I ought to be able to do that, at least," he declared.

"I saw you when you came in the other day, although I didn't know who it
was until afterwards. I was standing on the rocks near the Fort, and my
heart was in my mouth."

He answered that the Dolly was a good sea boat.

"So you decided to forgive me," he said.

"For what?"

"For staying in Newport."

Before accepting the invitation she had formulated a policy, cheerfully
confident in her ability to carry it out. For his decision not to leave
Newport had had an opposite effect upon her than that she had
anticipated; it had oddly relieved the pressure. It had given her a
chance to rally her forces; to smile, indeed, at an onslaught that had so
disturbed her; to examine the matter in a more rational light. It had
been a cause for self-congratulation that she had scarcely thought of him
the night before. And to-day, in her blue veil and blue serge gown, she
had boarded the 'Folly' with her wits about her. She forgot that it was
he who, so to speak, had the choice of ground and weapons.

"I have forgiven you. Why shouldn't I, when you have so royally atoned."

But he obstinately refused to fence. There was nothing apologetic in this
man, no indirectness in his method of attack. Parry adroitly as she
might, he beat down her guard. As the afternoon wore on there were
silences, when Honora, by staring over the waters, tried to collect her
thoughts. But the sea was his ally, and she turned her face appealingly
toward the receding land. Fascination and fear struggled within her as
she had listened to his onslaughts, and she was conscious of being moved
by what he was, not by what he said. Vainly she glanced at the two
representatives of an ironically satisfied convention, only to realize
that they were absorbed in a milder but no less entrancing aspect of the
same topic, and would not thank her for an interruption.

"Do you wish me to go away?" he asked at last abruptly, almost rudely.

"Surely," she said, "your work, your future isn't in Newport."

"You haven't answered my question."

"It's because I have no right to answer it," she replied. "Although we
have known each other so short a time, I am your friend. You must realize
that. I am not conventional. I have lived long enough to understand that
the people one likes best are not necessarily those one has known
longest. You interest me--I admit it frankly--I speak to you sincerely. I
am even concerned that you shall find happiness, and I feel that you have
the power to make something of yourself. What more can I say? It seems to
me a little strange," she added, "that under the circumstances I should
say so much. I can give no higher proof of my friendship."

He did not reply, but gave a sharp order to the crew. The sheet was
shortened, and the Folly obediently headed westward against the swell,
flinging rainbows from her bows as she ran. Mrs. Shorter and Dewing
returned at this moment from the cabin, where they had been on a tour of
inspection.

"Where are you taking us, Hugh?" said Mrs. Shorter. "Nowhere in
particular," he replied.

"Please don't forget that I am having people to dinner to-night. That's
all I ask. What have you done to him, Honora, to put him in such a
humour?"

Honora laughed.

"I hadn't noticed anything peculiar about him," she answered.

"This boat reminds me of Adele," said Mrs. Shorter. "She loved it. I can
see how she could get a divorce from Dicky--but the 'Folly'! She told me
yesterday that the sight of it made her homesick, and Eustace Rindge
won't leave Paris."

It suddenly occurred to Honora, as she glanced around the yacht, that
Mrs. Rindge rather haunted her.

"So that is your answer," said Chiltern, when they were alone again.

"What other can I give you?"

"Is it because you are married?" he demanded.

She grew crimson.

"Isn't that an unnecessary question?"

"No," he declared. "It concerns me vitally to understand you. You were
good enough to wish that I should find happiness. I have found the
possibility of it--in you."

"Oh," she cried, "don't say such things!"

"Have you found happiness?" he asked.

She turned her face from him towards their shining wake. But he had seen
that her eyes were filled with sudden tears.

"Forgive me," he pleaded; "I did not mean to be brutal. I said that
because I felt as I have never in my life felt before. As I did not know
I could feel. I can't account for it, but I ask you to believe me."

"I can account for it," she answered presently, with a strange
gentleness. "It is because you met me at a critical time.
Such-coincidences often occur in life. I happened to be a woman; and, I
confess it, a woman who was interested. I could not have been interested
if you had been less real, less sincere. But I saw that you were going
through a crisis; that you might, with your powers, build up your life
into a splendid and useful thing. And, womanlike, my instinct was to help
you. I should not have allowed you to go on, but--but it all happened so
quickly that I was bewildered. I--I do not understand it myself."

He listened hungrily, and yet at times with evident impatience.

"No," he said, "I cannot believe that it was an accident. It was you--"

She stopped him with an imploring gesture.

"Please," she said, "please let us go in."

Without an instant's hesitation he brought the sloop about and headed her
for the light-ship on Brenton's reef, and they sailed in silence. Awhile
she watched the sapphire waters break to dazzling whiteness under the
westerning sun. Then, in an ecstasy she did not seek to question, she
closed her eyes to feel more keenly the swift motion of their flight. Why
not? The sea, the winds of heaven, had aided others since the dawn of
history. Legend was eternally true. On these very shores happiness had
awaited those who had dared to face primeval things.

She looked again, this time towards an unpeopled shore. No sentinel
guarded the uncharted reefs, and the very skies were smiling, after the
storm, at the scudding fates.

It was not until they were landlocked once more, and the Folly was
reluctantly beating back through the Narrows, that he spoke again.

"So you wish me to go away?"

"I cannot see any use in your staying," she replied, "after what you have
said. I--cannot see," she added in a low voice, "that for you to remain
would be to promote the happiness of--either of us. You should have gone
to-day."

"You care!" he exclaimed.

"It is because I do not wish to care that I tell you to go--"

"And you refuse happiness?"

"It could be happiness for neither of us," said Honora. "The situation
would be impossible. You are not a man who would be satisfied with
moderation. You would insist upon having all. And you do not know what
you are asking."

"I know that I want you," he said, "and that my life is won or lost with
or without you."

You have no right to say such a thing."

"We have each of us but one life to live."

"And one life to ruin," she answered. "See, you are running on the
rocks!"

He swung the boat around.

"Others have rebuilt upon ruins," he declared.

She smiled at him.

"But you are taking my ruins for granted," she said. "You would make them
first."

He relapsed into silence again. The Folly needed watching. Once he turned
and spoke her name, and she did not rebuke him.

"Women have a clearer vision of the future than men," she began
presently, "and I know you better than you know yourself. What--what you
desire would not mend your life, but break it utterly. I am speaking
plainly. As I have told you, you interest me; so far that is the extent
of my feelings. I do not know whether they would go any farther, but on
your account as well as my own I will not take the risk. We have come to
an impasse. I am sorry. I wish we might have been friends, but what you
have said makes it impossible. There is only one thing to do, and that is
for you to go away."

He eased off his sheet, rounded the fort, and set a course for the
moorings. The sun hung red above the silhouetted roofs of Conanicut, and
a quaint tower in the shape of a minaret stood forth to cap the illusions
of a day.

The wind was falling, the harbour quieting for the night, and across the
waters, to the tones of a trumpet, the red bars of the battleship's flag
fluttered to the deck. The Folly, making a wide circle, shot into the
breeze, and ended by gliding gently up to the buoy.



CHAPTER V

THE SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST

It was Saturday morning, but Honora had forgotten the fact. Not until she
was on the bottom step did the odour of cigarettes reach her and turn her
faint; and she clutched suddenly at the banisters. Thus she stood for a
while, motionless, and then went quietly into the drawing-room. The
French windows looking out on the porch were, as usual, open.

It was an odd sensation thus to be regarding one's husband objectively.
For the first time he appeared to her definitely as a stranger; as much a
stranger as the man who came once a week to wind Mrs. Forsythe's clocks.
Nay, more. There was a sense of intrusion in this visit, of invasion of a
life with which he had nothing to do. She examined him ruthlessly, very
much as one might examine a burglar taken unawares. There was the
inevitable shirt with the wide pink stripes, of the abolishment or even
of the effective toning down of which she had long since despaired. On
the contrary, like his complexion, they evinced a continual tendency
towards a more aggressive colour. There was also the jewelled ring, now
conspicuously held aloft on a fat little finger. The stripes appeared
that morning as the banner of a hated suzerain, the ring as the emblem of
his overlordship. He did not belong in that house; everything in it cried
out for his removal; and yet it was, in the eyes of the law at least,
his. By grace of that fact she was here, enjoying it. At that instant, as
though in evidence of this, he laid down a burning cigarette on a
mahogany stand he had had brought out to him. Honora seized an ash tray,
hurried to the porch, and picked up the cigarette in the tips of her
fingers.

"Howard, I wish you would be more careful of Mrs. Forsythe's furniture,"
she exclaimed.

"Hello, Honora," he said, without looking up. "I see by the Newport paper
that old Maitland is back from Europe. Things are skyrocketing in Wall
Street." He glanced at the ash tray, which she had pushed towards him.
"What's the difference about the table? If the old lady makes a row, I'll
pay for it."

"Some things are priceless," she replied; "you do not seem to realize
that."

"Not this rubbish," said Howard. "Judging by the fuss she made over the
inventory, you'd think it might be worth something."

"She has trusted us with it," said Honora. Her voice shook.

He stared at her.

"I never saw you look like that," he declared.

"It's because you never look at me closely," she answered.

He laughed, and resumed his reading. She stood awhile by the railing.
Across the way, beyond the wall, she heard Mr. Chamberlin's shrill voice
berating a gardener.

"Howard," she asked presently, "why do you come to Newport at all?"

"Why do I come to Newport?" he repeated. "I don't understand you."

"Why do you come up here every week?"

"Well," he said, "it isn't a bad trip on the boat, and I get a change
from New York; and see men I shouldn't probably see otherwise." He paused
and looked at her again, doubtfully. "Why do you ask such a question?"

"I wished to be sure," said Honora.

"Sure of what?"

"That the-arrangement suited you perfectly. You do not feel--the lack of
anything, do you?"

"What do you mean?"

"You wouldn't care to stay in Newport all the time?"

"Not if I know myself," he replied. "I leave that part of it to you."

"What part of it?" she demanded.

"You ought to know. You do it pretty well," he laughed. "By the way,
Honora, I've got to have a conference with Mr. Wing to-day, and I may not
be home to lunch."

"We're dining there to-night," she told him, in a listless voice.

Upon Ethel Wing had descended the dominating characteristics of the elder
James, who, whatever the power he might wield in Wall Street, was little
more than a visitor in Newport. It was Ethel's house, from the hour she
had swept the Reel and Carter plans (which her father had brought home)
from the table and sent for Mr. Farwell. The forehanded Reginald arrived
with a sketch, and the result, as every one knows, is one of the chief
monuments to his reputation. So exquisitely proportioned is its simple,
two-storied marble front as seen through the trees left standing on the
old estate, that tourists, having beheld the Chamberlin and other
mansions, are apt to think this niggardly for a palace. Two infolding
wings, stretching towards the water, enclose a court, and through the
slender white pillars of the peristyle one beholds in fancy the summer
seas of Greece.

Looking out on the court, and sustaining this classic illusion, is a
marble-paved dining room, with hangings of Pompeiian red, and frescoes of
nymphs and satyrs and piping shepherds, framed between fluted pilasters,
dimly discernible in the soft lights.

In the midst of these surroundings, at the head of his table, sat the
great financier whose story but faintly concerns this chronicle; the man
who, every day that he had spent down town in New York in the past thirty
years, had eaten the same meal in the same little restaurant under the
street. This he told Honora, on his left, as though it were not history.
He preferred apple pie to the greatest of artistic triumphs of his
daughter's chef, and had it; a glorified apple pie, with frills and
furbelows, and whipped cream which he angrily swept to one side with
contempt.

"That isn't apple pie," he said. "I'd like to take that Frenchman to the
little New England hilltown where I went to school and show him what
apple pie is."

Such were the autobiographical snatches--by no means so crude as they
sound that reached her intelligence from time to time. Mr. Wing was too
subtle to be crude; and he had married a Playfair, a family noted for
good living. Honora did not know that he was fond of talking of that
apple pie and the New England school at public banquets; nor did Mr. Wing
suspect that the young woman whom he was apparently addressing, and who
seemed to be hanging on his words, was not present.

It was not until she had put her napkin on the table that she awoke with
a start and gazed into his face and saw written there still another
history than the one he had been telling her. The face was hidden,
indeed, by the red beard. What she read was in the little eyes that swept
her with a look of possession: possession in a large sense, let it be
emphasized, that an exact justice be done Mr. James Wing,--she was one of
the many chattels over which his ownership extended; bought and paid for
with her husband. A hot resentment ran through her at the thought.

Mr. Cuthbert, who was many kinds of a barometer, sought her out later in
the courtyard.

"Your husband's feeling tiptop, isn't he?" said he.

"He's been locked up with old Wing all day. Something's in the wind, and
I'd give a good deal to know what it is."

"I'm afraid I can't inform you," replied Honora.

Mr. Cuthbert apologized.

"Oh, I didn't mean to ask you far a tip," he declared, quite confused. "I
didn't suppose you knew. The old man is getting ready to make another
killing, that's all. You don't mind my telling you you look stunning
tonight, do you?"

Honora smiled.

"No, I don't mind," she said.

Mr. Cuthbert appeared to be ransacking the corners of his brain for
words.

"I was watching you to-night at the table while Mr. Wing was talking to
you. I don't believe you heard a thing he said."

"Such astuteness," she answered, smiling at him, "astounds me."

He laughed nervously.

"You're different than you've ever been since I've known you," he went
on, undismayed. "I hope you won't think I'm making love to you. Not that
I shouldn't like to, but I've got sense enough to see it's no use."

Her reply was unexpected.

"What makes you think that?" she asked curiously.

"Oh, I'm not a fool," said Mr. Cuthbert. "But if I were a poet, or that
fellow Dewing, I might be able to tell you what your eyes were like
to-night."

"I'm glad you're not," said Honora.

As they were going in, she turned for a lingering look at the sea. A
strong young moon rode serenely in the sky and struck a path of light
across the restless waters. Along this shimmering way the eyes of her
companion followed hers.

"I can tell you what that colour is, at least. Do you remember the blue,
transparent substance that used to be on favours at children's parties?"
he asked. "There were caps inside of them, and crackers."

"I believe you are a poet, after all," she said.

A shadow fell across the flags. Honora did not move.

"Hello, Chiltern," said Cuthbert. "I thought you were playing bridge..."

"You haven't looked at me once to-night," he said, when Cuthbert had gone
in.

She was silent.

"Are you angry?"

"Yes, a little," she answered. "Do you blame me?"

The vibration of his voice in the moonlit court awoke an answering chord
in her; and a note of supplication from him touched her strangely. Logic
in his presence was a little difficult--there can be no doubt of that.

"I must go in," she said unsteadily, "my carriage is waiting."

But he stood in front of her.

"I should have thought you would have gone," she said.

"I wanted to see you again."

"And now?"

"I can't leave while you feel this way," he pleaded. "I can't abandon
what I have of you--what you will let me take. If I told you I would be
reasonable--"

"I don't believe in miracles," she said, recovering a little; "at least
in modern ones. The question is, could you become reasonable?"

"As a last resort," he replied, with a flash of humour and a touch of
hope. "If you would--commute my sentence."

She passed him, and picking up her skirts, paused in the window.

"I will give you one more chance," she said.

This was the conversation that, by repeating itself, filled the interval
of her drive home. So oblivious was she to Howard's presence, that he
called her twice from her corner of the carriage after the vehicle had
stopped; and he halted her by seizing her arm as she was about to go up
the stairs. She followed him mechanically into the drawing-room.

He closed the door behind them, and the other door into the darkened
dining room. He even took a precautionary glance out of the window of the
porch. And these movements, which ordinarily might have aroused her
curiosity, if not her alarm, she watched with a profound indifference. He
took a stand before the Japanese screen in front of the fireplace, thrust
his hands in his pockets, cleared his throat, and surveyed her from her
white shoulders to the gold-embroidered tips of her slippers.

"I'm leaving for the West in the morning, Honora. If you've made any
arrangements for me on Sunday, you'll have to cancel them. I may be gone
two weeks, I may be gone a month. I don't know."

"Yes," she said.

"I'm going to tell you something those fellows in the smoking room
to-night did their best to screw out of me. If you say anything about it,
all's up between me and Wing. The fact that he picked me out to engineer
the thing, and that he's going to let me in if I push it through, is a
pretty good sign that he thinks something of my business ability, eh?"

"You'd better not tell me, Howard," she said.

"You're too clever to let it out," he assured her; and added with a
chuckle: "If it goes through, order what you like. Rent a house on
Bellevue Avenue--any thing in reason."

"What is it?" she asked, with a sudden premonition that the thing had a
vital significance for her.

"It's the greatest scheme extant," he answered with elation. "I won't go
into details--you wouldn't understand'em. Mr. Wing and some others have
tried the thing before, nearer home, and it worked like a charm. Street
railways. We buy up the little lines for nothing, and get an interest in
the big ones, and sell the little lines for fifty times what they cost
us, and guarantee big dividends for the big lines."

"It sounds to me," said Honora, slowly, "as though some one would get
cheated."

"Some one get cheated!" he exclaimed, laughing. "Every one gets cheated,
as you call it, if they haven't enough sense to know what their
property's worth, and how to use it to the best advantage. It's a case,"
he announced, "of the survival of the fittest. Which reminds me that if
I'm going to be fit to-morrow I'd better go to bed. Mr. Wing's to take me
to New York on his yacht, and you've got to have your wits about you when
you talk to the old man."





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