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Title: Katrine
Author: Lane, Enilor Macartney
Language: English
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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 "Katrine" ***

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[Illustration: "I HAVE WAITED ALL THESE YEARS"]



KATRINE

A Novel

BY

ELINOR MACARTNEY LANE

AUTHOR OF "NANCY STAIR" AND "MILLS OF GOD"



NEW YORK AND LONDON HARPER & BROTHERS PUBLISHERS

MCMIX



Copyright, 1909, by HARPER & BROTHERS.

_All rights reserved._

Published March, 1909.



    _To_ =Grant B. Schley=

    _Dear and great Friend! In_ =Katrine's= _fancied_ "Land"
      _You long have held your own much-honored place--
    Have met great Esmond; held kind Newcome's hand;
      And talked with merry Alan face to face;
    For there, where Loyalty was word of countersign,
      You entered, all unchallenged, for the land was thine!_

    _E.M.L._

    PARIS, 1909



CONTENTS

CHAP.                                                           PAGE
         PREFACE                                                  vii
      I. UNDER THE SOUTHERN PINES                                   1
     II. THE MEETING IN THE WOODS                                  15
    III. A KINDNESS WITH MIXED MOTIVES                             29
     IV. THE PROMISE IN THE ROSE GARDEN                            43
      V. FRANK FALLS FURTHER UNDER KATRINE'S INFLUENCE             50
     VI. DERMOTT GIVES A DINNER AT THE OLD LODGE                   63
    VII. KATRINE'S OWN COUNTRY                                     76
   VIII. FRANK YIELDS TO TEMPTATION                                88
     IX. THE TRUTH                                                 94
      X. TO TRY TO UNDERSTAND                                     104
     XI. KATRINE IS LEFT ALONE                                    113
    XII. THE REAL FRANCIS RAVENEL                                 121
   XIII. DERMOTT'S INTERVIEW WITH FRANK AT THE TREVOY             127
    XIV. DERMOTT DISCOVERS A NEW SIDE TO FRANK'S CHARACTER        137
     XV. JOSEF                                                    143
    XVI. MRS. RAVENEL UNWITTINGLY BECOMES AN ALLY OF KATRINE      152
   XVII. MCDERMOTT VISITS HIS FRENCH COUSIN                       160
  XVIII. KATRINE MEETS ANNE LENNOX                                172
    XIX. A VISION OF THE PAST                                     193
     XX. THE INFLUENCE OF WORK                                    212
    XXI. THE NIGHT OF KATRINE'S DÉBUT                             219
   XXII. FRANK AND KATRINE MEET AT THE VAN RENSSELAER'S           228
  XXIII. AN INTERRUPTED CONFESSION                                234
   XXIV. "I WILL TAKE CARE OF YOU"                                249
    XXV. KATRINE IN NEW YORK                                      271
   XXVI. DERMOTT MCDERMOTT                                        282
  XXVII. SELF-SURRENDER                                           299
 XXVIII. UNDER THE SOUTHERN PINES ONCE MORE                       303



PREFACE


It is difficult to tell the story of Irish folk intimately and
convincingly, the bare truths concerning their splendid recklessness,
their unproductive ardor, their loyalty and creative memories, sounding
to another race like a pack of lies.

When, therefore, I recall "The Singing Woman," Katrine; her beauty, her
fearlessness, her loyalty, her voice of gold--it seems as if only one
lost to caution and heedless of consequence would undertake her history
expecting it to be believed. But there is this advantage: the
newspapers, recording much of her early life, are still extant, her
Paris work discussed by Josef's pupils to this day, and her divine
forgetfulness the night she was to sing at the Metropolitan a known
thing to people of two continents; but unrecorded of her, till now, is
that, for love, like brave, mad Antony, she threw a world away.

It is impossible to tell the tale of Katrine without narrating side by
side the story of Dermott McDermott; and here trouble begins, for
Ireland would never allow anything written concerning him that was not
flattering, and the Irish people, especially in the regions of Kildare
and Athlone, have combined to make a saint of him. A saint of Dermott
McDermott! Heaven save the mark!

But of Frank Ravenel's life I can speak with truth and authority. I had
the story from his own lips under the pines and the stars of North
Carolina, fishing the Way-Home River, or sitting together on the
Chestnut Ridge, where Katrine and he first met. This was before he
became--before Katrine made him--the great man he is to-day.

       *       *       *       *       *

And two things linger with me--the first a conversation between Dermott
and Katrine at the Countess de Nemours'.

"Tell me," said Katrine: "do you think any woman ever married the man
who was kindest to her?"

"It's unrecorded if it ever occurred," Dermott answered.

       *       *       *       *       *

And a second, the truth of which is less open to dispute.

"Nora," Katrine asked, "could you ever have loved any but Dennis-your
first love?"

"No," answered Nora. "To an Irishwoman the drame comes but the wance."

E.M.L.



KATRINE

I

UNDER THE SOUTHERN PINES


Ravenel Plantation occupies a singular rise of wooded land in North
Carolina, between Way-Home River, Loon Mountain, and the Silver Fork.
The road which leads from Charlotte toward the south branches by the
Haunted Hollow, the right fork going to Carlisle and the left following
the rushing waters of the Way-Home River to the very gate-posts of
Ravenel Plantation, through which the noisy water runs.

Ravenel Mansion, which stands a good three miles from the north gate of
the plantation, is approached by a driveway of stately pines. The main
part is built of gray stone, like a fort, with mullioned windows, the
yellow glass of early colonial times still in the upper panes. But the
show-places of the plantation are the south wing (added by Francis
Ravenel the fourth), and the great south gateway, bearing the carved
inscription: "Guests are Welcome."

Long ago, when Charles II. was on his way to be crowned, a certain
English Ravenel--Foulke by name--had the good-luck to fall in with that
impulsive monarch, and for no further service than the making of a
rhyme, vile in meter and villainous as to truth-telling, to receive from
him an earldom and a grant of "certain lands beyond the seas."

Here, in these North Carolina lands, for nearly two hundred years,
Ravenel child had grown to Ravenel man, educated abroad, taught to
believe little in American ways, and marrying frequently with a far-off
cousin in England or in France.

They were gay lads these Ravenels, hard riders, hard drinkers, reckless
in living and love-making, and held to have their way where women were
concerned. Indeed, this tradition had ancient authority, for on the
stone mount of the sundial in the lilac-walk there had been chiselled,
in the year 1771, by some disgruntled rival perhaps:

    "The Ravenels ryde forth,
    Hyde alle ye ladyes gay;
      They take a heart,
      They break a heart,
    Then ryde away!"

The present owner of the plantation, Francis Ravenel, seventh of the
name, stood in the great doorway, dinner dressed, the night after his
return from the East, viewing this inscription with a humorous drawing
together of the brows.

He was handsome, as the Ravenel men had always been, with a bearing
which caused men and women, especially women, to follow him with their
eyes. Certain family characteristics were markedly his: the brown hair
and the wide gray eyes, which seemed to brood over a woman as though she
were the only one to be desired--these had belonged to the Ravenel men
for generations; but the shape of the head, with its broad brow, the
short upper lip and appealing smile, he had from his lady mother, who
had been a D'Hauteville, of New Orleans.

From the time of his majority, some five years before, the South had
been rife with tales of his wit, his love-making, and his lawlessness.
Whatever the cause, women were forever falling in love with him, and the
mention of his name from Newport News to New Orleans would but call
forth the history of another love-affair, in which, according to the old
inscription, he had taken a heart, had broken a heart, and then had
ridden away.

He awaited coffee and cigarettes in the great hail where the candles
had been lighted for the evening, although the sun was still above Loon
Mountain. Looking within he saw their gleams on vanished roses in the
old brocade; on dingy armor of those who had fought with Charlie Stuart;
on stately mahogany, old pewters, and on portraits of the fighting
Ravenels of days long gone. There was Malcom, who died music-mad; Des
Grieux, the one with ruff and falcon, said to be a Romney; and that
Francis, fourth of the name (whom the present Francis most resembled),
who had lost his life, the story ran, for a queen too fair and fond.

Mrs. Ravenel, adoring and tender, in lavender and old lace, the
merriest, gayest, most illogical little mother in all that mother-land
of the South, regarded Frank as he re-entered with a blush of pleasure
on her bright, fond face.

"Who has the Mainwaring place, mother?" he asked.

"A heavenly person," Mrs. Ravenel answered.

"Man, I suppose," Francis laughed.

Mrs. Ravenel nodded assent and repeated: "Heavenly! An Irishman; with
black hair, very black brows, pale like a Spaniard, about thirty--"

"Your own age," Frank interrupted, with a complimentary gesture.

--"who rides like a trooper, drinks half a glass of whiskey at a gulp,
and is the greatest liar I can imagine."

"It's enlightening to discover an adored parent's idea of a heavenly
person," Francis said, with an amused smile.

"He sends me flowers and writes me poetry. We exchange," she explained,
and there came to her eyes a delightfully critical appreciation of her
own doings.

"The heavenly person has--I suppose--a name?" Frank suggested.

"Dermott McDermott."

"Has the heavenly person also a profession?"

"He is"--Mrs. Ravenel hesitated a minute--"he is an international lawyer
and a Wall Street man."

"It sounds imposing," Frank returned. "What does it mean?"

"I don't know," his mother answered. "_I_ have enough of the artist in
me to be satisfied with the mere sound. His English--"

"His Irish," Frank interrupted.

--"is that of Dublin University, the most beautiful speech in the world.
He is here in the interest of the Mainwaring people, he says, who want
some information concerning those disputed mines. Added to his other
attractions, he can talk in rhyme. Do you understand? _Can talk in
rhyme_," she repeated, with emphasis, "and carries a Tom Moore in his
waistcoat-pocket."

There came a sound of singing outside--a man's voice, musical, with an
indescribably jaunty clip to the words:

    "I was never addicted to work,
      'Twas never the way o' the Gradys;
    But I'd make a most excellent Turk,
      For I'm fond of tobacco and ladies."

And with the song still in the air, the singer came through the shadow
of the porch and stood in the doorway--a man tall and well set-up, in
black riding-clothes, cap in hand, who saluted the two with his crop,
and as he did so a jewel gleamed in the handle, showing him to be
something of a dandy.

Standing in the doorway, the lights from the candelabra on his face and
the sunset at his back, one noticed on the instant his great freedom of
movement as of one good with the foils. His hair was dark, and his eyes,
deep-set and luminous as a child's, looked straight at the world through
lashes so long they made a mistiness of shadow. He had the pallor of
the Spanish Creole found frequently in the south of Ireland folk. His
mouth was straight, the upper lip a bit fuller than the under one, as is
the case when intellect predominates, and his hair was of a singularly
dull and wavy black. But set these and many more things down, and the
charm of him has not been written at all, for the words give no hint of
his bearing, his impertinent and charming familiarity, the surety of
touch, the right word, and the ready concession.

"I thought the evening was beautiful till I saw you, madam," he said,
with a sweeping salute. "I kiss your hand--with emotion." There was a
slight pause here as he regarded Mrs. Ravenel with open admiration. "And
thank you for the beautiful verses, asking that at some soon date you
send more of the flowers of your imagination to bind around the gloomy
brow of Dermott McDermott."

It was the McDermott way, this. A kiss on the hand and a compliment to
Madam Ravenel; a compliment and a kiss on the lips to Peggy of the
Poplars; but in his heart it was to the deil with all women--save
one--for he regarded them as emotional liars to be sported with and
forgotten.

As Mrs. Ravenel presented to each other these two men whose lives were
to be interwoven for so many years, they shook hands cordially enough,
but there was both criticism and appraisement in the first glance each
took of the other.

The contrast between them, as they stood with clasped hands, did not
pass unnoted by Mrs. Ravenel. The black hair, olive skin, the bluer than
blue eyes of Dermott, as he stood in the light of the doorway; his
alert, theatric, dominating personality; his superb self-consciousness;
the decision of manner which comes only to those who have achieved,
seemed to her prejudiced gaze admirable in themselves, but more
admirable as a foil to the warm brown of Frank's hair, to the poetic
gray of his eyes, his apparent self-depreciation, his easy acceptances,
and his elegant reluctance to obtrude on others either his views or his
personality.

Perhaps it was the prescience of coming trouble between them which
caused a noticeable pause after the introduction--a pause which Dermott
courteously broke.

"So this is the son," he said. "Sure," he went on, comparing them,
"ye've a right to be proud of each other! Ye make a fine couple, the two
of you. And now"--putting his cap, gloves, and riding-whip on the
window-ledge--"I'll have coffee if you'll offer it. Let me"--taking some
sugar--"eat, drink, and be merry, for to-morrow," he laughed--"why,
to-morrow I may have talked myself to death!"

Frank rose from his chair and stood by the chimney, regarding the
Irishman as one might have viewed a performer in a play, realizing to
the full what his mother had meant by the "charm of McDermott," for it
was a thing none could deny, for the subtle Celt complimented the ones
to whom he spoke by an approving and admiring attention, and conveyed
the impression that the roads of his life had but led him to their feet.

"To tell the truth," McDermott continued, noting and by no means
displeased by Frank's scrutiny, "I had heard ye were home, Mr. Ravenel,
and came early to see you with a purpose--two purposes, I might say.
First, I wanted to talk to you concerning Patrick Dulany, the overseer
whom I got for your mother last year. Ye've not see him yet?"

"I arrived only last night, Mr. McDermott," Francis answered.

"True, I'd forgotten. It's a strange life Patrick's had, and a sad one.
He's of my own college in Dublin, but a good dozen years older than I.
'Twas in India I knew him first. He's one of the Black Dulanys of the
North, and we fought side by side at Ramazan. What a time! What a time!
In the famous charge up the river, when we turned, I lost my horse, and
in that backward plunge my life was not worth taking. While I was lying
there half dead and helpless, this Dulany got from his old gray, flung
me across his saddle, and carried me nine miles back to the camp. Judge
if I love him!"

Mr. McDermott looked from the window with the fixed gaze of one
struggling with unshed tears.

"The next month he was ordered home, and soon after fell the bitter
business of the marriage in Italy. I stood up with him. She was the most
beautiful creature I have ever seen--save one; and a voice--God! I heard
her sing in Milan once. The king was there; the opera 'La Favorita.' She
was sent for to the royal box. We had the horses out of her carriage and
dragged it home ourselves. What a night it was! What a night it was!"

McDermott paused as in an ecstasy of remembrance.

"What was her name?" Francis asked.

"Ah, that"--he threw out his hand with a dramatic gesture--"'tis a
thing I swore never to mention. 'Tis a fancy of Dulany's to let it die
in silence."

"And she left him?" Mrs. Ravenel's voice was full of sympathy as she
spoke.

"For another!" Dermott made a dramatic pause, relishing his climaxes.
"And then she died."

"So, for his daughter's sake"--there was a curious hesitancy in his
speech just here, but he carried it off jauntily--"his daughter, a
primrose girl and the love of my life, I've come to ask that you be a
bit lenient with him, Mr. Ravenel, at the times he has taken a drop too
much, as your lady mother has been in the year past. I think you'll find
him able to manage, for, in spite of his infirmity, black and white fall
under his spell alike."

"If Frank has a fault, Mr. McDermott, which I do not think he has, it's
over-generosity. You need have no fear for your friend," Mrs. Ravenel
said, proudly, putting her hand on Frank's shoulder.

As her son turned to kiss the slender fingers, Dermott McDermott
regarded the two curiously.

"You're fortunate in having a son of twenty--" He hesitated.

"Of twenty-five," Francis finished for him.

"--so devoted to you, madam. Ye're twenty-five--coming or going?" he
inquired, with a laugh.

"On my last birthday--April."

An odd light shone in McDermott's eyes for a second before he said, with
a bow:

"Neither of ye look it; I can assure you of that. Well," he continued,
reaching for his cap and whip, "I must be going. Ye've found already,
haven't ye, Ravenel, that the sound of my own voice is the music of
heaven to my ears?" And then, as though trying to recollect: "I think I
said it was at Ramazan Dulany and I fought together?"

Francis nodded.

"God," McDermott cried, his face illumined, his eyes glowing, "I wish it
had been Waterloo! I've always carried a bruised spirit that I didn't
fight at Waterloo."

"Your loss is our gain, Mr. McDermott," Francis answered, with a smile.
"You'd scarce be here to tell it if you had."

"And that's maybe true," Dermott said, pausing by the doorway to put on
his gloves. "But I'd rather have fought at Waterloo, even if I were dead
now, so that I could tell you exactly how it felt--There"--he broke his
speech with a laugh--"I caught myself on the way to an Irish bull.

"Oh! Mr. Ravenel," he called back suddenly, as though the thought had
just come to him, "I've been waiting your coming to have a talk with
you--a business talk--but not to-night." He waved the matter aside with
a gay, outward movement of the hands. "Sometime at your pleasure." Again
the eyes of the two met, and this time each measured the other more
openly than before.

"I shall be glad to see you at any time, Mr. McDermott," Frank answered,
his words courteous enough, but his eyes lacking warmth; and the
intuitive Celt realized that in Frank he had met one whom he had failed
either to bewilder or to charm.

"Madam!" he cried, saluting. "Mr. Francis Ravenel, delightful son of a
delightful mother! The top of the evening to both of ye." And with a
considered manner he made a stage exit, and Frank and Madam Ravenel
heard the gay voice--

               "... most excellent Turk,
    For I'm fond of tobacco and ladies--"

coming back with the clatter of a horse's hoofs through the fading
sunlight over the dew of the daisies.

"Well," said Mrs. Ravenel, her eyes dancing with merry light, "isn't he
delightful?"

"Delightful!" Frank repeated. "Is he? I wonder. Shrewd, cool-headed,
cruel, I think--subtle as well."

"Nonsense," Mrs. Ravenel interrupted, with a smile which might not have
been so mirthful had she seen at that moment the man of whom she spoke.

Near the north gate McDermott had brought his horse suddenly to a walk.
There was no longer gayety in his manner or his face. The merry light
had left his eyes, and in its place shone a gleam, steady and cold, as
only the eye of the intellectual Irish can be.

"And so that is the son! An unco man for the lassies, like his father
before him." His eyelids drew together as he spoke. "Handsome, too--with
a knowledge of life. It's a pity!" he said. "It's a pity! But he may not
interfere. If he does, well--even if he does, the gods are with the
Irish!"



II

THE MEETING IN THE WOODS


Instead of entering the drawing-room after Dermott's departure, Frank
turned with some abruptness toward Mrs. Ravenel.

"I am going for a walk, mother," he said, with no suggestion that she
accompany him; and her intimate acquaintance with Francis, sixth of the
name, made her understand with some accuracy the moods of his son,
Francis seventh.

"You are handsomer than ever, Frank!" she exclaimed, as if in answer to
the suggestion.

"You spoil me, mother," he returned, with a smile.

"Women have always done that--" she began.

"And you more than any other," Frank broke in, kissing her, with a
deference of manner singularly his own.

"There may be truth in that," Mrs. Ravenel admitted, a fine sense of
humor marked by the grudging tone in which she spoke. "I remember that
only yesterday I was in a rage because the roses were not further open
to welcome you home."

"Nature _is_ unappreciative," he returned; and the gray eyes with the
level lids looked into the blue ones with the level lids, and both
laughed.

For a space Mrs. Ravenel contemplated him, the ecstasy of motherhood
illuminating the glance.

"You are quite the handsomest human being I ever saw, Frank--though I
think I said something like that before."

"You are, of course, unprejudiced, lady mother," he laughed back from
the lowest step.

"It's natural I should be--being only a mother," she explained, gayly.

"Ah," she went on, "I am so happy to have you at home with me! _Not_
happy at having asked those people down. They come on the
twenty-seventh."

"Whom have you asked?"

"The Prescotts."

"Good."

"The Porters and Sallie Maddox."

"Better."

"And Anne Lennox."

There was a silence.

"Did I hear you say 'best'?" Mrs. Ravenel inquired.

"By some wanderment of mind, I forgot it," Frank returned, lightly.

"I am always subtle in my methods," his mother continued. "Note the
adroitness now. Why don't you marry her, Frank?"

"Do you think she would marry me?"

"Don't be foolish. Anne is devoted to you, and you must marry someone.
You are an only son. There is the family name to be thought of, and
there must be a Francis eighth to inherit the good looks of Francis
seventh, must there not? And how I shall hate it!" she added,
truthfully.

Again a silence fell between them before Frank turned the talk with
intention in word and tone.

"About this new overseer?" he asked. "Satisfactory?"

"When not drunk--very."

"Does it"--he smiled--"I mean the drunkenness, not the
satisfaction--occur frequently?"

"I am afraid it does."

"What did McDermott say his name is?"

"Patrick Dulany."

"French, I suppose?" he suggested.

"By all the laws of inference," his mother returned, with an answering
gleam in her eye.

"There seems to have been a Celtic invasion of the Carolinas during my
absence. Has he a family?"

"Only a daughter." And as Frank turned to leave her Mrs. Ravenel asked,
lightly: "How long do you intend to stay here, Frank?"

"I have made no plans," he answered; but going down the carriageway he
said to himself, with a smile: "Mother shows her hand too plainly. The
girl is evidently young and pretty."

The plantation had never seemed so beautiful to him. The wild roses were
in bloom; the fringe-trees and dogwood hung white along the riverbanks;
the golden azaleas, nodding wake-robins, and muskadine flowers looked up
at them from below, while the cotton spread its green tufts miles and
miles away to a sunlit horizon.

Swinging along the road outside the park, the half-formed plan to visit
the overseer left him, and purposeless he climbed the hill to Chestnut
Ridge. Something in the occasion of his home-coming after a two years'
absence--his mother's reference to his marriage, his remembrances of
Anne Lennox--had brought back to his face its habitual expression of
sadness. And more than he would have acknowledged was a disquietude
caused by his instant resentment of the existence of Dermott McDermott.
Never in his life had he felt more strongly the need for companionship.
He had been loved by many women. He had never been believed in by any.

Passionate, proud, intolerant, full of prejudice, conscious by
twenty-six years' experience of a most magnetic power with women, he
came to the edge of the far wood as lawless a man, in as lawless a mood,
as the Carolinas had ever seen--a locality where lawless men have not
been wanting.

Suddenly, through the twilight, he heard a voice--a woman's
voice--singing, and by instinct he knew that the singer was alone and
conscious of nothing save the song.

At the top of the rise, under a group of beeches, with both arms
stretched along a bar fence, a girl stood, the black of her hair in
silhouette against the gold of the sky. He noted the slender grace of
her body as she leaned backward, and listened to her voice,
Heaven-given, vibrant, caressing--_juste_, as the French have
it--singing an old song.

He had heard it hundreds of times cheapened by lack of temperament, lack
of voice, lack of taste; but as he listened, though little versed in
music, he knew that it was a great voice that sang it and a great
personality which interpreted it. With the song still trembling through
the silence the singer turned toward him, and, man of the world and
many loves as he had been, an unknown feeling came at sight of her.

A flower of a girl--"of fire and dew," delicate features, nose
tip-tilted, a chin firmly modelled under the rounded flesh, and eyes
bright with the wonder and pride of life. She wore a short-waisted black
frock, scant of skirt and cut away at the neck. It was in this same
frock that the Sargent picture of her was painted--but that was years
afterward; and although she was motionless, one knew from her slender
figure and arched feet that she moved with fire and spirit. Her hair was
very dark, though red showed through it in a strong light, and her
cheeks had the dusky pink of an October peach. But it was the eyes that
held and allowed no forgetting; Ravenel always held they were violet,
and Josef, who saw her every day for years, spoke them gray; but Dermott
McDermott was firm as to their being blue until the day she visited him
about the railroad business, when he afterward described them "as black
as chaos," adding a word or two about her deil's temper as well. The
truth was that the color of them changed with her emotions, but the
wistfulness of them remained ever the same. Dermott, in some lines he
wrote of her in Paris, described them as "corn-flowers in a mist filled
with the poetry and passion of a great and misunderstood people," and
though "over-poetic," as he himself said afterward, "the thought was
none so bad."

Suddenly the languor seemed to leave her, and she stood alert, chin
drawn in, hands clasped before her, and began the recitative to the
"_Ah! Fors e lui_." Twice she stopped abruptly, taking a tone a second
time, listening as she did so, her head, birdlike, on one side with a
concentrated attention. After the last low note, which was round and low
like an organ tone, she resumed her old position with arms outstretched
upon the fence.

As Frank came up the path their eyes met, and he removed his hat,
holding it at his side, as one who did not intend to resume it. Standing
thus, he bore himself, if one might use the word of a man, with a
certain sweetness, an entire seeming self-forgetfulness, as though the
one to whom he spoke occupied his entire thought.

"It is Miss Dulany?" he inquired, with a smile which seemed to ask
pardon for his temerity.

"I am Katrine Dulany," the girl answered, gravely, for the readjustment
from the music and the silence was not easily made.

"I was fortunate enough to hear you sing. It almost made me forget to
say that I am Mr. Ravenel."

"I know," Katrine answered. "The plantation has expected your coming."

A silence followed, during which, with no embarrassment, she retained
her position, waiting for him to pass. The indifference of it pleased
him.

"I was going to see your father at the lodge. The roads are unfamiliar,
and the path, after two years' absence, a bit lonely." The sadness which
accompanied the words was honest, but it seemed for some more personal
sorrow than it was.

"My father is not well," Katrine said, hastily. "I am afraid you cannot
see him, Mr. Ravenel. May I ask him to go to you to-morrow instead?"
There was entreaty in her voice, and Frank knew the truth on an instant.

"I cannot have you carrying messages for me."

"Seeing that I offered myself"--she suggested, with a smile.

"--is no reason that I should trespass on your kindness, so I shall
carry my message myself." This quite firmly.

"I will sing again if you stay." She looked at him through her long
lashes without turning her head. "You see," she added, "I have made up
my mind."

"It's a premium on discourtesy," he answered, "but I yield."

Near the place where she stood there was a fallen log, and he seated
himself upon it, placing his hat on the ground as though for a continued
stay, regarding her curiously.

She was the daughter of his drunken overseer, a child in years, yet she
showed neither embarrassment nor eagerness; indeed, she conveyed to him
the impression that it was profoundly equal to her whether he went or
stayed.

"Tell me," he said, "before you sing, where have you studied?"

"I?" she laughed, but the laugh was not all mirthful. "In Paris, in
London, in Rome, in New York." There was bitterness in her tone. "I am a
_gamin_ of the world, monsieur."

"Tell me," he repeated, insistently.

She made no response, but stood, with her profile toward him, looking
into the sunset.

"Won't you tell me?" he asked again, his tone more intimate than before.

"Ah, why should I?" And then, with a sudden veering: "After all, there
is little to tell. I was born in Paris of poor--but Irish--parents." She
smiled as she spoke. "My mother was a great singer, whose name I will
not call. She married my father; left him and me. I do not remember her.
Since her death my father has been a spent man. We have wandered from
place to place. When he found work I was sent to some convent near by.
The Sisters have taught me. For three months I studied with Barili. I
have sung in the churches. Finally, Mr. McDermott, on the next
plantation, met us in New York, recommended my father for this work, and
we came here."

She turned from him as she ended the telling. "What shall I sing?" she
asked.

"'The Serenade.'"

"Schubert's?"

"There is but one."

"It is difficult without the accompaniments but I will try:

    "'All the stars keep watch in heaven
      While I sing to thee,
    And the night for love was given--
      Darling, come to me--
      Darling, come to me!'"

She ended, her hands clasped before her, her lithe figure, by God-given
instinct for song, leaned forward, and Francis Ravenel was conscious
that the passion in the voice had nothing to do with his presence; that
it was the music alone of which she thought, and for the first time in
his life he touched the edge of the knowledge that _a great gift sets
its owner as a thing apart_.

"Sometime," he said, "when you have become famous, and all the world is
singing your praises, I shall say, 'Once she sang for me alone, at
twilight, under the beeches, in a far land,' and the people will take
off their hats to me, as to one who has had much honor."

He smiled as he spoke. It was the smile or the praise of the song, or a
cause too subtle to name, that changed her. She had already seemed an
indifferent woman, a great artist, a careless _Bohémienne_ in her
speech; but for the next change he was unprepared: it was a pleading
child with wistful eyes who seated herself beside him, not remotely
through any self-consciousness, but near to him, where speech could be
conveniently exchanged.

"Mr. Ravenel," she began, "I had thought to keep it from you, but you
are different--the _most_ different person I ever saw." A dimple came in
her cheek as she smiled. "And so I am going to tell you everything." She
made a little outward gesture of the hands, as though casting
discretion to the wind. "My father drinks. It began with his great
sorrow. It is not all the time, but frequently. I had hoped that down
here he would be better. He is not, and you will have to get another
overseer. It is not just to you to have my father in charge. Only I
think that perhaps such times as he is himself some work might be found
for him. It is so peaceful here; I do not want to go away."

"You shall not go away."

The words were spoken quietly, but for the first time in her life
Katrine Dulany felt there was some one of great power to whom she could
turn for help, and her woman heart thrilled at the words.

"You mustn't feel about it as you do, either," Frank continued. "The
time has gone by for thinking of your father's trouble as anything
except a disease--a disease which very frequently can be cured."

"Ah!" she cried, "do you think it would be possible?"

"I have known many cases. Is your father good to you?" he asked,
abruptly.

"Sick or well, with money or without, he is the kindest father in the
world. Save in one way, it is always _for_ me he thinks."

Her hand lay on the log. It was small and white, and she was very
beautiful. Frank had seldom resisted temptation. This one he did not
even try to resist, and he placed his hand over hers.

"Katrine," he said, "I am not a particularly good man, but the gods have
willed that we meet--meet in strange moods and a strange way. I am a
better man to-night than I have ever been in my life. It's the music,
maybe, or the fringed gentian, or the whippoorwills." There was
love-making in every tone of his voice. "Whatever it is, it makes me
want to help you. May I? Will you trust me?"

She turned her hand upward, as a child might have done, to clasp his,
looking him full in the eyes as she did so.

"Utterly," she said.

"I have not always been considered trustworthy," he explained, lightly.

"People may not have understood you." There was a sweet explaining in
her voice.

"Which may have been, on the whole, fortunate for me," he answered, with
a curious smile.

"Don't," she said--"don't talk of yourself like that. I know you are
good, good, _good!_"

"Thank you," and again there came to him the throb in the throat he had
felt when their eyes first met. "Believe me," he said, "I shall always
try to be--to you," and as he spoke he raised her hand to his lips and
kissed it.

A noise startled him. Some one was approaching with uncertain footsteps
and a shuffling gait, and at the sound the girl's face turned crimson.

"Katrine, little Katrine, where are you?" a voice cried, thickly and
uncertainly, as a man came from under the gloom of the trees. There was
not a moment's hesitation. The child rose and put her arms around the
figure with a divine, womanly gesture, as though to shield him and his
infirmities from the whole world. It was the action of one ashamed to be
ashamed.

"Daddy," she said, laying her head against his shoulder, "this is Mr.
Ravenel!"



III

A KINDNESS WITH MIXED MOTIVES


In the walk home through the gloom of the night Frank Ravenel thought of
many things not hitherto considered in his philosophy. The women whom he
had known had presented few complexities to him. That he should be
giving a second thought to Katrine Dulany seemed humorous; but the more
he resolved to put her from his thoughts the more vivid the memory of
her became. He recalled his emotion when their eyes first met, and the
remembrance brought again the tightening of the throat which he had on
the hilltop. He could feel the clinging pressure of the slender hand,
could hear again the voice like a caress, and her words, "You are
good--good--good!" kept repeating themselves somewhere in the recesses
of his brain to the tune of an old song.

"Good!" he ejaculated. "God, if she only knew!"

He had stated to his mother at the outset of the walk that he had no
plans; but in reality his summer had been fairly well arranged before
his return, lacking only a few set dates to fill the time till October.
The party at Ravenel would be over in a fortnight, and then--the thought
of another woman who loved him and a certain husband yachting on the
Mediterranean crossed his mind for an instant with annoyance and a
little shame.

The girl on the hill had had a more disturbing effect than any one that
ever came into his life before. Looking down the vista of probable
events, he saw nothing but trouble for her if he remained at
Ravenel--saw it as reasonably and as logically as though he were
contemplating the temptation of another. An affair with the daughter of
his overseer, a very young person, was a manifest impossibility for him,
Francis Ravenel; his pride and such honor as he had where women were
concerned forbade it. But even as he reached this decision the voice of
gold came back to him:

    "And the night for love was given--
    Darling, come to me!"

How she could love a man! He recalled her gesture when she said: "I will
tell you everything"! The glance through the lashes--"I've a fancy for
my own way"! the forgetting of his presence for the song-singing and the
sunset, coming back to talk with him; a pleading child!

By the lake he paused, and, looking into the moonlit water, came to his
conclusions sanely enough. He would see her no more. There would be many
people for the next fortnight to occupy his time; the coming folks were
interesting. Anne Lennox would be there; the time would pass; he would
leave Ravenel; but as he dropped asleep a voice seemed to call to him
through the pines, and he knew he would not go.

The next morning before coffee he wrote to Dr. Johnston, the great
specialist in alcoholic diseases, urging him to come to Ravenel at his
earliest convenience. "There is a man to be helped," he wrote, "and
neither money nor brains are to be spared in the helping."

Through the breakfast the memory of Katrine was vividly with him. He
recalled, with the approval of an aristocrat in taste, the daintiness of
her movements, the delicacy of her hands as they lay open on the fence,
even her indifference to him, to him, who was in no wise accustomed to
indifference in women.

At twilight he went to the Chestnut Ridge, but Katrine was not there,
nor did she come. The following day he went again with a similar
resulting. The third day he saw her about noon on the river-bank, and
she waved her hand to him in a cavalier fashion, disappearing into a
small copse of dogwood, not to reappear. The thing had become amusing.

During this time he saw neither Dermott McDermott nor the new overseer,
whom he learned was at Marlton on affairs concerning a sawmill.

The fourth day after his meeting with Katrine a message from the great
doctor gave him the dignity of a mission, and he rode to the old lodge
to show her the letter, which said that Dr. Johnston would be at Ravenel
soon.

There was eagerness in his gait and eyes as he mounted his horse, and as
he rode down the carriageway standing in his stirrups, waving his cap to
his mother with a "Tallyho to the hounds," he had never looked handsomer
nor had more of an air of carrying all before him, as was right, she
thought, for a Ravenel.

The old gate-lodge on the Ravenel place stands on the north branch of
the road which leads to Three Poplar Inn. It is built of pale-colored
English brick and gray stones, and runs upward to the height of two
stories, with broad doorways and wide windows peeping through ivy which
covers the place from foundation to roof.

Frank remembered it as a drear-looking, lonesome place during the
occupancy of the former incumbent. Instead, he found a reclaimed garden;
hedges of laurel, trim and straight; old-fashioned flowers, snowballs,
gillybells, great pink-and-white peonies; and over the front on
trellises, by the gate and doorway, scrambles of scarlet roses against
the green and the ivied walls.

In the doorway Nora O'Grady, a short, wide woman of fifty or thereabout,
was singing at a spinning-wheel. She had a kind, yellow face with high
cheek-bones, and dark eyes which seemed darker by reason of the snowy
hair showing under a mob cap. Her chin was square and pointed upward
like old Mother Hubbard's, and she could talk of batter-cakes or home
rule with humorous volubility, and smoke a pipe with the manner of a
condescending duchess.

She had, as Frank found afterward, an excellent gift at anecdote, but a
clipping pronunciation of English by reason of having spoken nothing but
the Erse until she was grown. Added to this was an entirely illogical
ignorance of certain well-known words, and Katrine told him later that
once when Nora was asked if the dinner was postponed, she answered: "It
was pork."

For fifteen years this strange old creature and her boy Barney had
followed the seesawing fortunes of the Dulanys, accompanying their
gypsy-like sojournings with great loyalty and joyousness.

She rose from her spinning as Ravenel approached.

"Is Miss Katrine at home?" he inquired.

Nora dropped a courtesy, and with the tail of her eye observed,
labelled, and docketed Francis Ravenel.

"Will your lordship be seated," she said. "Miss Katrine will be back in
a minute. She's gone to ask after Miranda's baby. Nothin' seems able to
stop her from regardin' the naygurs as human beings. If 'twere not that
I know she'd be here immejit I'd go afther her mysel', and not keep your
lordship waitin'."

She motioned him to a wide settle on the porch with an alert
hospitality. In her heart she preferred Dermott McDermott to all
possible suitors for Katrine, but if this was another jo, as the Scotch
say, so much the better, for one might urge the other on, she thought,
with primitive sagacity.

"Would ye have a drop of Scotch?" she asked, and upon Francis declining
she reseated herself at her wheel, "with his permission," as she put it,
delighted, Celtlike, at the chance for conversation. "Ye're perhaps,"
she says, with some humor, "like the man in the old, old tale when a
friend asked him to take a drink. He said he couldn't for three reasons.
First, he'd promised his mother he never would drink; second, his doctor
had tould him he mustn't drink; and, third, he'd just had a drink."

Frank laughed back at the merry old woman as she sat at the whirring
wheel, her accustomed eyes scarcely glancing at the work in her scrutiny
of him.

"Dulany's not at home this day. I'm sorry," she went on. "He's off about
the sawmill of that triflin' Shehan man. Did ye hear that about his
telegraph, Mr. Ravenel? No? It's a funny tale. Ye know that old mill of
yours ain't worth more than a few hunder dollars. But Dulany saw an
advertisement for a new kind of machinery, and he wrote the firm to ask
them what it would cost to have it put in. They sint back the word: tin
thousand dollars, and would he plaze lit thim know immejit if it was
wanted. He didn't wait to write. He telegraphed:

     "'If a man had ten thousand dollars, what in hell would he want
     with a sawmill?'"

Frank laughed aloud again, uncomprehending the fact that the shrewd
little woman was deliberately holding him with her tales till Katrine
returned.

Inside the house he heard a note, struck suddenly, and repeated over and
over in a voice little above a whisper.

"She's come in the other way. I'll tell her your lordship's wantin'
her," said Nora O'Grady, disappearing.

He looked about him in great content. Things seemed so much as he
desired them to be--the roses, the old furniture, the spinning-wheel,
the coiffed peasant woman--that he waited for Katrine's coming, fearing
that she should be less beautiful than he remembered her.

With some surprise he heard a laugh (he had not thought of her as a girl
who laughed) so merry, so infectious that he found himself wondering
what caused it as the girl herself came through the doorway to greet
him, her rose face radiant, her eyes shining, her hand outstretched.

She was more loveworthy, more imperious, than he remembered her, a
thing which bewildered him as he thought of her entreating smile, and
her wistful and approving eyes.

She wore white, so simply made as to have something statuesque about the
lines of the gown, and cut from the throat to show the poise of the head
and the curls at the back of the neck.

"I could scarcely believe Nora when she said it was you. Father is at
Marlton. I was so lonely. It is good of you to come, even if only on
business. You are riding?" she asked, regarding his clothes.

"Yes," he answered. "I am going to the world's end."

"You will be sorry," she returned, quickly. "I have been there. Carolina
is better. Stay here!"

She seated herself beside him on the settle as she spoke, and the odor
of the red rose she wore at her breast came to him with the words.

He had taken off his hat and leaned his bare brown head against the high
back of the bench.

"You see," he began, his eyelids drawn together in his own way, his eyes
fastened upon some remote distance, "I, too, have been lonely. The only
companionable person within hundreds of miles has refused me her
society. I have been driven, as it were, to the world's end."

"Do you mean me?" Katrine asked, smiling, and looking at him with eyes
full of surprise.

"It is perhaps Nora to whom I refer," he suggested, whimsically.

"She is not always companionable--Nora," Katrine returned; "and to-day
she is not pleased with me, so I like her less than usual. She purposed
to cook nettles in the potatoes, and I remonstrated, and--I have not
absented myself from your society," she said, abruptly breaking her talk
after a woman's way.

"Then why didn't you watch the sunset from the Chestnut Ridge last night
and the night before and the night before that?" he asked.

"Why didn't I watch the sunset from the Chestnut Ridge?" she repeated
after him, as though not understanding; and then, with a slow, steady
smile, looking straight in his eyes, "The thought never occurred to me,"
she said.

No studied coquetry could have piqued him as this simple statement,
which he felt to be the plain truth. He had taken three long walks on
the off-chance of meeting a girl who apparently had forgotten his
existence, and although the thought was humorous it stirred in him a
determination to make his existence a remembered thing to her.

"But, if I had known," she explained, and the selflessness and sweetness
of her as she spoke touched him strangely--"if I had thought you wanted
to talk to me, I should have been glad to come."

Fortunately there remained to him a dignified explanation of his
suggestion.

"I thought you might come, not so much to see the sunsets as in the hope
of seeing me. I promised to help you when I could. I thought you might
be interested to know that I had kept my promise. If any one can help
your father it is Dr. Johnston." He gave the letter to her as he spoke.
"He is coming to Ravenel to-morrow."

In an instant her face softened; her eyes became suffused by a soft,
warm light, and she looked up at him through a sudden mist of tears.

"The interview must be arranged," he went on. But Katrine interrupted
him:

"Ah! It will be easy enough. Father is as anxious as I am to be himself
again. You do not know daddy, Mr. Ravenel," she explained, a proud
loyalty in her tone. "He has not been himself before you; but in Paris,
in Dublin, he was welcomed everywhere; his wit was the keenest, with
never an edge that hurt; his stories the brightest, and always of the
kind that made you love the people of whom they were told. He will be
home to-night. Will the doctor come here? I want to tell him
_everything_, and then, when he has seen father, you can tell me what to
do. You see, I haven't thanked you yet," she said, abruptly.

"To know that you are pleased is enough. Besides, I have, on some few
occasions, drifted into doing a kind act for the act's sake," he said;
adding: "Not often, it's true, but occasionally."

"You have made me, oh, so happy, and hopeful--as I have never been
before in all my life. It seems like one of the fairy stories in which
one's wishes all come true."

"And if it were given you to have whatever you wished, what would you
ask for, Katrine?"

"To have father well. And then," her face became illuminated, "to study
with Josef."

"Josef?" He repeated the great name interrogatively.

"You have not heard of him?" she asked, incredulously.

He made a sign in the negative.

"He is the greatest teacher in the world," she explained, as though
there could be no doubting.

"Which is perhaps the reason I have never heard of him," he answered,
with a smile. "From your enthusiasm I am led to judge it is music which
he teaches."

"Yes," she answered; "but he teaches more than that. I knew a girl in
Paris who studied with him. She was quite intricate and self-seeking
when she began. And in six months he had changed her whole nature. She
became elemental and direct, and," she put her hands together and threw
them apart with the gesture which he knew so well, "and splendid! Like
Shakespeare's women!" she finished.

"Gracious Heaven, hear!" said Frank. "And does this miracle-worker live
uncrowned?"

"Ah, don't!" she said, her sincerity and enthusiasm reproving his
scoffing tone. "You see"--there was sweetness and an apologetic note in
her voice as she continued--"I believe in him so much it hurts to have
you speak so. Josef says that when woman developed to the point of
needing more education, there was nothing ready to give her except the
same thing they gave men; that because certain studies had been proven
all right for them they were given ready-made to women, and they didn't
fit. He believes women should be trained to develop the thing we call
their instinct. He says it's the psychic force which must in the end
rule the world. One of the girls in Paris said 'he stretched your
soul.'"

"I shall not permit you to go to him," Frank interrupted, gravely.

She regarded him, a question in her glance. "Why?" she asked.

"Because if your soul was any larger, Katrine, there would be no room
for it here below. It crowds the earth a little as it is. No," he
finished, with conviction, "you shall never go to study with Josef.
Music is all right. But that soul-stretching"--he smiled at this
phrase--"that would be all wrong for you. I want you exactly as you
are."



IV

THE PROMISE IN THE ROSE GARDEN


A silence fell between them, broken only by the whirring of Nora's wheel
and the robin's chatter before Katrine inquired:

"Are you still bent on that expedition to that world's end?"

"I could," he returned, "be persuaded from it, or at least to postpone
it. If by any chance I were invited to luncheon in a certain garden--an
old-fashioned garden, with box and peonies, and," he raised his head to
look down over the flowers--"and some queer purple things like bells
whose name I have forgotten, under a trellis of roses, with--"

"Me," she interrupted, with a laugh. "We'll make a party, as the
children say. Nora will give us broiled chicken and yellow wine in the
long-necked glasses, and cake with nuts in it, and you," she stopped for
a second, the dimple in the left cheek showing itself, "will give all of
your nuts to me; for it is well to sacrifice for another," she said,
with a laugh, "and exceeding well," she added, "that I should have the
nuts."

Having ordered the luncheon, they went together down the gravelled
pathway to the grape arbor, which was grown over with sweet,
old-fashioned climbing roses, through which the sunlight filtered in
wavy lights on the quaint low rocker, the long rattan couch, the pillows
of gay hue, the table covered with books and sewing. Frank paused at the
archway and looked in.

"I have found it," he said.

"What?" she asked.

"The world's end," he answered.

"You must," she explained, "_really_ to appreciate this place, lie on
the couch so that you may see the wistaria on the gray wall. You should
then light a cigarette and have the table brought near, that you may
ring for what you want." She moved the table toward him as she spoke.
"And I will take this chair beside you. If you want me to talk to you I
shall do so; if you want me to sing, I will do that; or if the king
desires silence"--she made an obeisance before him as of great
humility--"I can even accomplish that, though it is difficult for a
woman," she added, with a laugh.

It was dangerous repayment of a kindness: this entire forgetfulness of
herself in her gratitude to him; this essence of the wine of flattery,
of Irish flattery, which has ever a peculiar bouquet of its own.

"You have a good friend in McDermott," Francis said, abruptly.

"Yes; he has been kind to us, most kind," Katrine answered.

"For old sake's sake?" Frank suggested.

"Scarcely for that. We never knew him until father met him quite by
accident in New York two years ago."

"Didn't they fight together in India?" Frank inquired.

"In India!" Katrine repeated. "Father was never in India. Will some one
have been telling you that McDermott and he fought together in India,
Mr. Ravenel?" she asked, in astonishment.

Frank sat upright, regarding her with amazement.

"Didn't your father save his life at Ramazan?"

It was Katrine's turn to be bewildered.

"I never heard of Ramazan," she said. "Where is it?"

"And he was not present at your father's marriage in Italy?"

Katrine shook her head; but to Ravenel's astonishment she began to wear
an amused smile as he repeated McDermott's tale to her bit by bit.

"I understand," she explained, "my father saved him from a horrible
attack of the measles in New York. They thought for weeks that he would
die."

"But why," Frank demanded, "didn't he say just that?"

"He couldn't!" Katrine stated, as simply and uncritically as a child.
"You see, he has the soul of an artist, and there's something about a
man of thirty dying of measles impossible for the artistic temperament
to contemplate. Ah!" she said, with gentle pleading in her voice for an
absent friend, "he's the greatest liar as well as the most truthful
person alive; but you've got to be Irish to understand how that thing
can be. He couldn't say my father saved him from the measles. The story
of India sounds better--and no one is hurt. Can't ye understand? The
gratitude for service rendered is the great thing; to remember a
kindness has been done; and whether he gives as reason for his gratitude
Ramazan or the measles, what is the difference? Do you know"--there came
an apologetic look and blush to her face as she spoke, "that I myself,
when it comes to things of the heart--" she ended the sentence with a
laugh and a gesture of self-depreciation. "There was once a little child
in Killybegs," she explained, "a girl, who wanted to be a boy, and she
cried all of the time because she wasn't. So I told her _she was a boy_,
and it comforted her for quite a year. You see, it made her happy."

"Oh," Francis laughed, "you incomprehensible Celts!"

"Incomprehensible, indeed!" she said. "Incomprehensible!"

A singing voice broke the talk, rolling strongly, vibrantly through the
leaves, a lawless, insistent voice, and Dermott McDermott, with the
reins loosened on his horse's neck, and his ardent eyes looking upward
to heaven's blue, rode by the other side of the privet hedge:

    "'War-battered dogs are we,
      Fighters in every clime,
    Fillers of trench and grave,
      Mockers be-mocked by time.
    War dogs hungry and gray,
      Gnawing a naked bone,
    Fighting in every clime
      Every cause but our own.'"

"Katrine," Frank said, as they listened to the singing die away, "what
is Dermott McDermott doing in the Carolinas? That story of the
Mainwaring titles is nonsense. He is here on some other business."

"I am not sure," she answered. "I cannot be certain, but I think it has
something to do with Ravenel. I think it has to do with you."

"With me?" Frank sat erect. "Do you know," he said, after some thought,
"absurd as it may seem, Katrine, I think so, too."

       *       *       *       *       *

The sun was far behind the pines when he rose to leave, flattered,
softened, with the remembrance of caressing gray eyes, of a voice full
of strange cadence, and speech with quaint humor and dramatic turns to
the sentences.

"Good-bye," he said, standing by the boxwood arch. "I am your debtor,
Miss Dulany, for one perfectly happy day."

"My debtor!" she repeated, looking at him through sudden tears. "I've
known rich men before now, men richer than you, Mr. Ravenel; and great
men, though none greater than yourself; and handsome men as well, though
here"--and the mutinous humor of her showed in the speech--"I can't
truthfully say I've ever seen any handsomer than you are this minute,
as you stand looking down at me. It's your eyes, or something in your
nature, perhaps, that sets you apart from others in your looks. But be
that all as it may, it's neither your riches nor your birth nor your
good looks that I am thinking about, but your kind heart. I shall never
forget you, never in all my life, for what you've done for me; and if
the time ever comes when you need a friend, for sometimes a man needs
the help that only a woman can give, will you remember me then, for I'll
come from the ends of the earth to serve you?" And before he was aware
of such an intention, in an ecstasy of gratitude, she raised his hand to
her lips and kissed it.



V

FRANK FALLS FURTHER UNDER KATRINE'S INFLUENCE


When Frank came out on the porch the next morning at Ravenel, he found
Patrick Dulany waiting on horse by the main steps. It was the first time
the two men had met in daylight, and with the keenest interest Mr.
Ravenel inspected his strange overseer; for in the week since his return
he had heard much of his wit and his ability.

He found him to be a large man with a broad face tanned to the hue of a
mulatto. His eyes were light blue with the fulness under them of people
who have gift in speech. His silver hair, of which he had a great
quantity, set strangely around his dark face, falling low over a brow
markedly intellectual. But it was the mouth and chin at which Ravenel
most wondered, for their lines were strong, the lips full and finely
chiselled, showing, one could have sworn, high birth and great
resolution.

His clothes were of tweed, with a riding-cap far back on his head, and
he rode with an excellent seat. Upon seeing Mr. Ravenel he dismounted,
removed his cap, and advanced with outstretched hand, in the manner of
one welcoming home an old friend.

"Twas the sawmill business that kept me from seeing you sooner, Mr.
Ravenel," he began. "But Katrine's been telling me of you, with some
worry, I think, in her gentle soul for fear that you may not understand
our friend McDermott."

Francis replied with a comprehending smile.

"Now that I've seen ye," said Dulany, "I know you'll understand. He has
a peculiarity of nature. He likes to arrange certain unimportant details
of life that they may sound better in the telling. But one has a small
knowledge of human nature if he discount McDermott because of this. In
Ireland his name is a household word. He's here to-day, gone to-morrow.
He works like a galley-slave; his word is as good as his bond when given
in honor. And 'tis for others he works always. Generous, he gives all,
all, all! his work, his brain, the money it earns, everything! His is a
great soul, a very great soul. There's not a man in America, barring the
President, who has his personal power. Quietly, his name unworded in
the newspapers, he holds Tammany in his hand. I can't tell you how
enthusiastic I am about him! Mines, politics, Wall Street, he's into
them all, a million ideas a minute! Helps the chap that's down. He helps
every one with whom he comes in contact. He has helped me."

His sadness of tone introduced the next statement better than words
could have done.

"Mr. Ravenel," he said, "I have a confession to make to you. I drink."
He looked Frank squarely in the face as he spoke, with no flinching. "Ye
may have heard it from one or another since ye've been back. It's been a
habit of mine for some time. I was not myself the other evening when I
met you on the hill. The worst of it is," and he spoke the words
brightly and bravely, "I've no excuse for it, if there can be found an
excusing for such a habit. The thing is growing upon me in this
solitude. I try, God alone knows how I try, for Katrine's sake, to
resist; but only those who have fought the thing can realize what its
temptations are. However, I've been thinking that if I drink too much,
or fail to suit you, it might make it easier for you to tell me to go,
if you knew it would be better for me that I went."

"I am hoping that you will not find it necessary to go, Mr. Dulany. The
plantation has never been in better shape."

"And I'm glad to hear you say that, sir," was the answer.
"Well"--hopefully--"things may change for the better in me, and so,
good-day," and spurring his horse he was off at a gallop down the broad
road, and Ravenel stood listening to the horse's hoofs clatter over the
bridge, strike the soft road under the pines, and die away in silence
before he turned into the bridle-path which led to the stables.

And a strange thing occurred but a few minutes after this interview,
when Frank made his daily visit to the stables. One of the head grooms
explained a horse's lameness to him as due to a bad place in the road
near the north gate which, he finished, would probably not be mended
until Mr. Dulany was over "his coming attack."

"Is he drinking again?" Ravenel asked.

"For three days past," the groom answered.

Francis made no comment whatever, but the next day he discovered the
man's suspicions justified, and the third, as he rode to Marlton, he saw
Katrine, a pale-faced, desolate little figure, sitting on the garden
bench, her head in her hands, the picture of despair. About five o'clock
Jerry drove to the station for Dr. Johnston, and the same evening after
the dinner Nora O'Grady's son, a red-haired, unkempt boy of seventeen,
brought a short letter from Katrine, asking that the doctor be sent as
soon as possible.

"Mr. Dulany is drinking?" Frank said, interrogatively, to the youth.

"Something fierce," was the laconic answer.

"Is he better this evening?"

"Worse. Heart's actin' up," the boy responded.

At the end of the week, after three days spent with the Dulanys, at the
old lodge, Dr. Johnston and Francis sat together at the dinner-table at
Ravenel. Mrs. Ravenel had left them, and the great doctor, in the
admirably restrained and cautious language of the scientific mind, gave
his findings in the case, as it were.

"Mr. Dulany's habits," the great doctor began, "I should say, after such
superficial investigation as I have been able to make, may be cured. One
thing I have noted with pleasure. He has lost none of his mental
integrity. He is capable of the truth concerning himself. Generally
those given to the alcoholic habit deny everything or secrete everything
concerning it when sober. Sometimes they are sentimental over it, given
to self-pity, with even a certain desire for dramatic effects in the
statements about themselves. Dulany is still, so far as I can judge,
honest. To-day he told me the history of himself, with a gay humor in
the telling. He is a descendant, it seems, of the great and the gifted.
There are lawless loves behind him, a picturesque ancestry, artistic
and, on the wrong side of the blanket, aristocratic as well."

"It is the ancestry of genius," Francis answered.

"It is the ancestry of Katrine Dulany," Dr. Johnston returned, looking
at Frank with an untranslatable smile.

A silence fell between them, broken at length by the doctor. "I have
decided to take Mr. Dulany to New York with me. I shall keep him near me
as long as is necessary. If there is no organic trouble, of which I have
some fear, the case will be simple enough, if there is the desire in him
to help me. He was keen to have his daughter go with him, but I told him
frankly it was better that she should not go. He leans too much on her.
He must strengthen his own will; he must learn to rely on himself."

As the doctor spoke it was not of Patrick Dulany that Francis thought,
but of Katrine. The people were coming on the twenty-seventh; it was
now but the seventeenth. He would have her to himself for ten days, ten
days of those caressing eyes, of the charming voice and open adulation,
and then? He closed his eyes to whatever lay beyond. He would go away to
keep his engagements and forget. He always had forgotten; he would, he
thought, be able always to forget.

And the ten days were his; days on the river fishing by the Indian
Rocks, or drifting with the current under the dogwoods' white, open
faces down to the falls; days with lunches in the rose-garden, and Abt
and Schubert songs under the pines at twilight, when their hands touched
in the exchange of a flower or a book and lingered in the touching; when
their eyes had learned the answering of each other with no spoken word.
And the question and answer were the same in the Garden of Eden, before
man and woman made their first great mistake and did the thing that was
intended for them to do.

For Frank this companionship was unutterably sweet. He enjoyed the small
and unimportant events of their intercourse; the way Katrine would save
flowers for him to wear, pinning them in his coat with a flushed cheek,
or read, with an ecstasy of appreciation, a line from some great writer,
marking a meaning he had never found, or laugh at his old
riding-clothes, his Southern prejudices, saying once: "To a _man_ of the
world like myself, these ideas seem trivial."

On one of these ten precious days the lawyers at Marlton telephoned him
to obtain an interview. The business was important, and he started
immediately for a conference with them. By the fence opening into the
main road from the lodge he found Katrine, in her high-waisted black
frock, looking out between the bars of the great swinging gate, with a
radiance about her, an inconsequential joy such as he had never seen
before in any human being. She had a letter tucked in her breast, and at
sight of him she touched it.

"He is getting better, better, better, and the doctor writes he may be
quite himself again," she said, with no salutation whatever, her face a
wonder to behold.

"I am rejoiced more than I can say, Katrine," he answered.

"You have been so good," she replied, gratefully.

"Thank you," he said, gravely, and though the words were trivial the
manner gave them significance.

"Were you coming to call on me?" Katrine inquired.

Frank shook his head. "The lawyers at Marlton are waiting for me."

"Stay with me," she said, opening her hand and showing some nuts, as
though they might be an inducement to remain. "It's lonesome. I've
finished practising. Stay with me!"

"Duty calls," he answered, looking down at her.

"Put your fingers in your ears! If you once listen to her, you can never
hear any other thing in life." She folded her arms on one of the bars of
the gate, resting her chin upon them, as she looked up at him. "If you
will stay with me," she hesitated, searching her mind for further
inducements, "I'll tell you tales of Killybegs and the Black Bradley
Brothers, who hid their sister in the 'pocheen' barrel"--she waited a
minute--"and of the wedding of Peggy Menalis on the old sea-wall."

He shook his head.

"And I'll sing you a funny little song that ends like this":

[Music notation]

She sang the tones out sweet and true as a bird. "Is she calling still?"
she asked.

"Who?" Frank asked, not following.

"Duty," she answered; and as she spoke she shut her eyes tight and drew
the lids together.

"Somehow, I don't hear her so plainly as I did," he returned, with a
laugh.

There was another pause, filled by a glance which made his heart throb.

"And if you stayed," she went on, at length, "I could tell you how nice
you are."

Frank smiled. "I don't hear her at all now--that Duty person," he said,
gayly.

"You are," she hesitated, "a very nice man."

He kept his eyes averted.

"One of the nicest I have ever known."

He fastened his eyes on the Chestnut Ridge.

"The nicest of all," she said, almost in a whisper, her eyes brimming
over with laughter.

At the words he sprang to the ground and stood beside her.

"And Duty?" she asked.

"I don't know whether it's Duty or not, but something tells me that
there's nothing in all the world of any importance except to stay with
you," he answered.

But with his acquiescence there came the veering in her moods for which
he had already learned to watch.

"Where were you going?" she asked.

"The lawyers telephoned for me from Marlton."

"They are waiting for you?"

"Yes."

"And you are going to keep them waiting because I asked you to stay?"

"Them or the whole world," he answered.

"King Francis," she said, with a courtesy, "must do no wrong. Here is a
flower--a horrible one, it is true, but the only one I have. Wear it,
and go to the lawyer men and think of me. Perhaps--this evening--" she
hesitated.

"May I come," he said, "early?"

       *       *       *       *       *

On the evening of the twenty-sixth they sat on the mahogany settle
together, in a moonless night, the lilacs and honeysuckle a-bloom around
them.

"All those people are coming to-morrow. I wish they were in some other
place," he ended, inadequately considering the vehemence of his tone.
"Do you, Katrine?" he asked.

She did not answer him.

"Do you, Katrine?" he repeated, insistently.

There was no response.

"Do you wish that we had these ten happy days to live over? Do you wish
that they might come again? Will you miss me?"

She turned toward him with a wistful look, letting her eyes rest in his
as she spoke. "I am sorry it is over. I shall miss you more than I can
say."

"Thank you." And then, with a mixture of whimsicality and earnestness he
continued: "Do you remember the talk we had the other day of Josef?"

"Yes."

"When you told me he believed women to have some undeveloped psychic
power which, with study, could be developed to revolutionize the world?"

"I didn't say it so clearly as that, but that is what he means."

"Do you believe it, Katrine?"

"I don't know, Mr. Ravenel."

"Do you believe that if you tried to help me, even if I were far away,
you could?"

"Again I don't know, Mr. Ravenel."

"I do," he said, in the tone of one thoroughly convinced. "I have been
thinking it over, and have come to the conclusion that Josef is right.
You could make me do anything, Katrine. Will you try? In these days to
come, when I am away with all those people, will you keep me from
temptation?"

She hesitated for a minute, not knowing whether he was jesting or not.

"Believe me," she said, at length, "I will try."



VI

DERMOTT GIVES A DINNER AT THE OLD LODGE


The following morning, as she stood clipping the roses, Dermott
McDermott leaned over the hedge.

"Will you marry me, Katrine?" he said, with no salutation whatever.

"Will you wait," she inquired, "till I've finished cutting the roses?"

"But I'm in earnest," he announced.

She held the clippers in her gloved hand to shade the sun from her eyes,
regarding him in her friendly, companionable way.

"Dermott," she said, "what makes you such a liar?" The word as she spoke
it of him seemed almost a compliment.

"You've been associating, I fear, with some narrow and confined spirit,
who repeats things exactly as they occurred. I've more imagination!" he
explained, with a laugh. "Why should I not change things a bit?" he
continued. "Every Irishman's got to have one of three vices: whiskey,
love-making, or lying. Mention me one of any distinction who had none of
these!"

"There was St. Patrick," Katrine suggested, a laugh held under her
eyelids.

"He's so remote you can prove nothing against him. Take another that I
have later news of."

"Wellington."

"He was never an Irishman."

"And Burke."

"And I'm thinkin', begging your pardon, Mistress Katrine, there was a
lady to be explained away in his case. No," he said, waving her
suggestion far from him, "all the Irish are alike. They've, as I say,
one of three vices. I lie, that's why I'm so interestin', especially to
the ladies. Suppose I say: 'Old Mrs. O'Hooligan was tripped by a dog in
the lane yesterday!' Who cares? Not one soul in a thousand! But instead,
with a gesture: 'Did ye hear of the startling adventure of Mrs.
O'Hooligan? She was coming home at midnight from a sick friend's' (it's
well to throw in a few sympathetic touches if ye can). 'Suddenly an
animal, a strange animal, came by, something like a mad bull' (of course
you can enlarge or diminish the animal as required; in the mist of night
I have found a black cat very telling). 'She saw the vision quite
plainly. It passed, touched her, there was a word in the air whose
significance she was unable to determine, and in the morning the friend
was well--or dead.' For conversational purposes it makes no difference."

He wore a broad smile as he spoke, looking down at her with great love
and devotion.

"Ye see, Mistress Katrine, the ladies like a little exaggeration.
There's Mrs. Ravenel likes me fine, and says it's my temperament; and
Peggy of the Poplars is crazy about me; and hundreds in the two
continents who'd marry me at a second's notice. I'm a great lover," he
laughed somewhat uneasily, keeping his eyes averted, and adding, "when I
don't care! Ye see, a woman doesn't mind a bit of exaggeration in a
man's love-making," he went on. "Now there was Antony, who threw a world
away. What's that! One world! I'd tell her I'd throw away a universe of
worlds. Why not be extravagant! It's all," he laughed again softly,
"it's all 'hot air,' anyway."

"And yet you're a truthful person, Dermott McDermott. There's none can
tell the truth more bravely or with greater nicety than you," Katrine
broke in.

"When I've need of it, and it's an affair of men," he answered. "Oh, I
still know Truth when I meet her. We've not fallen out altogether, but I
stick to it that she's very dry company. But this discussion, after all,
is merely academic," he said, with a droll smile. "I have come to you in
a perturbed state of mind. You have refused to marry me thousands of
times, it is true; but I am noble, and forgive. To-morrow I am having
some delicacies sent me from the North. My cook is a duffer. Now, I
thought, why can't Katrine Dulany and I have a little dinner, with Nora
to prepare it, Mr. Ravenel asked in, and all be happy together?"

"I don't think Mr. Ravenel can come. There are visitors at Ravenel
House," Katrine explained.

"He can-and I think he will-leave them for one evening," Dermott
answered.

       *       *       *       *       *

"I'm the only human being alive that ye've not hypnotized, Frank
Ravenel!" Dermott cried, with a laugh, as the three of them sat at
dinner at the Old Lodge the evening following this talk. "The only
person ye've ever known, probably, who did not fall under the charm of
the ways and the eyes of you." There was flattery in this of such a
subtle kind that Katrine looked quickly from one to the other, for with
woman's intuition she had long since felt the antagonism between them.

"Ye see," Dermott went on, "I underrated the South when I came here. You
Southerners understand people as I think no other folk on earth
understand them. That's your great strength," he said, addressing
himself entirely to Frank. "Now, in a business matter I might, though
I'm by no means sure of it, get the better of you." His eyes were bland
and frank as he spoke. "But where you would always have the advantage is
in knowing the people you may trust. It's a great gift that. The
greatest knowledge of all is to know people, and it seems to be an
instinct with you, Mr. Ravenel!"

Again Katrine looked from one to the other, mystified, as Francis sat
smiling under this flattery.

"Shouldn't there be accompanying laurel wreaths with this unsolicited
testimonial, Mr. McDermott?" he inquired, with a laugh.

In a second Dermott took warning, left the subject, and was galloping
over conversational fields furthest from compliments to Frank.

"About the trouble over your Senator here from North Carolina. I'd a
talk with the President concerning him, and it was mentioned, though
hiddenly, that the White House does not want him returned."

And later--

"The pork bill! Heavens! I saw McClenahan in the Senate about it, and I
said to him: 'If ye stand for the pork bill, ye'll not be returned to
the Senate next year. I'll see to it myself. I know your district. God!
How I know it! You can buy every vote in that part of the land of the
free and home of the brave for ten dollars, or less--and I've the money
to do it.' He didn't vote for it." McDermott finished with a jolly
laugh.

Again and again during the dinner he discussed his private affairs in
this manner, deferring to Ravenel, flattering him by asking opinions on
weighty subjects, listening to the answers with gloomy attentiveness,
bewildering, fascinating, dominating, by a perfectly conscious use of
every power he possessed.

At the mention of a coaching party which had passed Katrine's house the
day before, with Frank driving four-in-hand, he added a note of gayety
to the dinner, returning at the same time to the game he was playing
with Frank.

"I never see ye drive, Ravenel," he cried, "but I think of the olden
days. Ye've a style all your own when you hold the lines. Wait a
minute! Wait a minute! I'm seized with rhyme." He stood silent, his eyes
drawn together at the corners, his gaze concentrated, glass in hand,
before he began with a hypnotic look and great lightness of bearing to
recite, waiting every little while for the right word to come to him:

    "When Ravenel drives four-in-hand,
      There's something in his style and way
      That takes us to a by-gone day
    Of statelier times and manners grand:
          When ladies gay,
          In bright array,
      And patch and powder held their sway."

"I rather fancy that last!" he cried, repeating it:

          "When ladies gay,
          In bright array,
      And patch and powder held their sway.

    "When Ravenel drives four-in-hand,
      The days of chivalry return,
      Hearts with an old-time passion burn,
    And lords and ladies fill the Strand,
      Our thoughts in that old time abide
    When Raleigh lived
          And Rizzio died,
    And fair Queen Mary sinned and sighed--
          That olden land,
          That golden land,
    When Ravenel drives four-in-hand.

"To you, Mr. Ravenel!" he cried, draining his glass.

"Thank you, McDermott," Francis answered, with a pleased smile, "you
have, indeed, the gift of rhyme." And Katrine knew as Frank spoke that
his distrust of Dermott had been laid aside for the present, and that he
was in a state of mind to grant anything which Dermott might demand of
him.

The thought troubled her after she had left them together for the coffee
and cigars. She had believed for a long time, as she had told Frank in
the rose-garden, that Dermott was in Carolina on some business connected
with Ravenel, and she had an instinct that the affair was to be brought
to a head to-night.

From her place in the hall she could see that Dermott had brought his
chair around to Frank's side at the table, and she heard him say:

"You know--or probably, with your celestial indifference to business
affairs, Ravenel, you don't know that there is a small piece of land on
the other side of the Silver Fork which belongs to your estate. In
looking up some old titles I discovered it. It's like this." He drew a
note-book from his pocket, drawing as he talked. "Here's Loon Mountain.
Here's the Silver Fork. Here's the Way-Home River. Ye've the right, I
discover, to the land marked R. It's, as you know, of small value to
you, and I'm wanting it. It's a vagary of mine. I may be going to raise
eagles on it."

[Illustration]

At the words, Katrine, who had been retuning an old guitar, took alarm
and was alert on the instant. Striking it quickly, insistently, she came
to the door of the dining-room, which framed her beauty like a picture.

"I'm going to sing you an Irish song, a real Irish song!" she cried,
gayly, touching the strings. The men turned, and Francis, with the land
on the other side of the Silver Fork clear out of his mind at sight of
her, came near the doorway where she stood.

    "Come all ye men and fair maids
      And listen to my song,
    I'll sing of Bloomin' Caroline,
      Who never did a wrong.

                  SHE

    Beats the fragrant roses,
      She's admired by all aroun'.
    They call her Bloomin' Caroline,
      Of Edinboro Town."

She played an interlude carelessly.

    "Young Henry, being a Highland lad,
       A-courting her he came,
    And when her parents heard of it
       They did not like the same.

                  so

    She bundled up her costly robes,
       The stairs came tripping down,
    And away went Bloomin' Caroline
       From Edinboro Town."

Dermott had risen and stood by the far window, looking into the night.
Unseen by him, she touched Frank on the sleeve.

"Do not do anything he asks you to do to-night," she whispered, with
great intensity, and in a minute more was back at the singing.

    "They had not been in London
      For scarcely half a year--"

and before the song ended the two men were joining the refrain, taken
out of themselves by her beauty and charm.

For nearly a week after this she saw neither of them again, but her
honest soul was fretted by the word she had given against a true
friend; so, when she saw Dermott riding along the river-bank, she called
to him from the rocks upon which she sat.

"Dermott McDermott," she cried, "come here!"

He rode through the ferns and undergrowth toward her, as she stood
looking up at him with fearless eyes.

"I've done something I want to tell you, something you won't like, for
it was going against you; and it makes me feel that I've not been quite
loyal to you, you that's always been so good to me, too." The quick
tears filled her eyes as she spoke.

He dismounted to be nearer her, and, putting out his hand, said:

"There's nothing you could do that's not forgiven. You hold my heart in
the hollow of your hand. What did ye do, child?"

"The other night when I saw you turning Mr. Ravenel the way you wanted
by your flattery and your hypnotic presence, I knew ye wished him to do
something for you. I knew when you told him how clever he was--_cleverer
than you were yourself_--that it must be something very great to make
you admit a thing like that. And when you were not near I warned him
against selling you that land. I said: 'Don't do anything Dermott
McDermott wants you to do to-night." Here she broke into a storm of
weeping. "You see, he's been so kind to me," she explained.

Dermott stood looking at her with pity and admiration as he put his hand
gently on her shoulder.

"Ye did just what was right, little lady; just the thing that any sweet,
grateful woman should have done. You understood what I was doing,
thought a friend might be cajoled wrongly, and warned him against it.
I'm proud of ye for it!" he cried, with enthusiasm. "Proud of you!" he
repeated. "And besides," he added, with a laugh, "it didn't make the
slightest difference. He did it anyhow! We signed the papers to-day!"

"The papers for what?" she demanded.

"For that useless bit of land on the other side of the fork," he
responded.

"Dermott," she said, "you play fair, don't you? You wouldn't take
advantage of any one?"

"Wouldn't I?" he said. "If it were to help you, I'd outwit the deil
himself, Lady Katrine."



VII

KATRINE'S OWN COUNTRY


In the following fortnight Francis and Katrine met but three times.

One day, having grown restless, she went to walk, taking the road from
the plantation back into the mountains. Returning by the ford, she heard
laughter and the ring of horses' hoofs, and by a sudden turn of the road
came directly upon Frank, who, separated from a party, was riding beside
Anne Lennox. At first sight of her whom she knew instinctively to be a
rival, Katrine was reminded of a golden peony, for the pale-yellow hair,
bright hazel eyes shot with yellow light, and thick, creamy skin had
given Anne Lennox from early childhood a noticeable and flower-like
beauty. A long-limbed, slender, full-breasted, laughing woman, with
square shoulders and the carriage of one much accustomed to the saddle,
she looked with curiosity at Katrine, who was standing aside beneath the
elderberry-bushes to permit them to pass.

"As I was saying," Anne had just remarked, "when you act as you have
done since I have been here, Frank, it's always a woman. At Biarritz,
you remember, it was Mrs. Vaughn. That beast of a spring at Marno, it
was Mrs. McIntire. You might as well tell me who it is. You will in the
end."

"Upon my honor, Anne--" Frank began, with a laugh, when he met the clear
eyes of Katrine looking at him from below.

If there had been some coldness, some resentment at his lack of
attention to her, or implied jealousy at his devotion to another, he
could have understood it. But there was nothing of the kind. In those
eyes, which he believed the most beautiful in the world, there was
nothing but a glad light at seeing him, a bright smile of recognition in
which he could detect neither remembrance nor regret.

Anne Lennox turned her keen brown eyes backward to look at Katrine as
she crossed the bridge. "Frank Ravenel," she exclaimed, "if a girl who
looks like that lives near you, you have been making love to her! I
wonder if by any chance she could be _the_ woman!"

"She is the daughter of the new overseer," Frank answered; and his tone
implied, though the words were not spoken: "and by this reason out of
the class." The statement was made with misleading frankness, and Anne
Lennox, understanding his pride, put the affair from her mind.

The next time of meeting between Francis and Katrine was one morning on
the river road. Her cheeks flushed at sight of him, and there was an odd
reserve in her manner; but she never seemed more beautiful.

He stood, hat in hand, wondering at her silence, a bit amused.

"It is a pleasant day," he suggested, at length, remotely.

"It _is_ pleasant," she answered, with averted eyes.

"Unusual weather for this season, don't you think?" he went on, a bit of
teasing in his tone.

"I haven't thought of it," she said, concisely.

"Suppose you think about it now," he suggested, jesting still, but not
quite at ease concerning her mood.

Suddenly she turned toward him, her face suffused, her eyes troubled.

"Katrine," he cried, "what is the matter? Tell me! Let me help you!"

"I'm jealous," she said, simply.

"Jealous!" he repeated. "Of whom?"

"You."

She had clasped her hands in front of her, and stood with her chin drawn
in, looking at him from under a tangle of dusky hair.

"You poor child," he said, moving toward her.

"Don't!" she cried, backing away, "don't try to comfort me! I've always,
_always_ been like this. I cannot help it. Whenever I care for
anybody--oh, it never made any difference whether I had any right to
care or to be jealous! I just was; and it hurts!" She put her hands
suddenly over her heart and began to speak rapidly, as a child does when
accumulated trouble makes silence no longer possible. "I hated her when
I saw she was with you; far up the road, when I only knew she was a
woman; and when I saw her nearer I hated her more. She is so pretty,"
she explained. "Are you going to marry her?" she demanded.

"Not exactly," he answered, grimly.

"Good-bye!" she cried, dropping down the river-bank to the skiff.

"Katrine!" he called.

"I'm not coming back!" she cried through the bushes. "I'm never coming
back! Good-bye!"

Two days later there came from Ravenel House a polite note, cordial by
the book, asking that Miss Dulany come to them for dinner on the fifth;
and, it added, perhaps Miss Dulany might give them an opportunity to
hear her charming voice. It was written in the quaint, old-fashioned
hand of Mrs. Ravenel.

Katrine read it with a curious smile around her lips, answering while
the messenger waited. She "regretted extremely that a cold"; she paused
a minute in the writing to reflect on the way the cold had come; sitting
one damp afternoon in the rose-garden with the son of the writer of this
extremely polite invitation; "regretted extremely that this cold, which
seemed more persistent than such things generally were, prevented her
accepting Mrs. Ravenel's most kind invitation."

The third meeting was an intentional one on Frank's part. The people at
Ravenel had become unbearable, and with no thought save for Katrine's
society, he took a short cut through the laurel trees, crossed the river
in his canoe, and entered the lodge garden to find her sitting on the
broad steps of the house, her chin resting in her hands. There was an
exaltation in her little being, an alluring remoteness, an entire
concentration upon her own thoughts, which one sees in a child; and when
one saw her thus, dreaming hillward, one knew there were great ongoings
in that dusky head of hers.

At sight of him she bowed gravely, moving that he might have nearly all
the rug upon which she had been sitting, not minding the stones for
herself in the least. Her careless generosity spoke even in this
trifling act.

"You are bored?" she asked, after a silence which he seemed disinclined
to break.

"To extinction, little lady," he answered, puffing a cloud of smoke into
the hollyhocks. "You see, you have spoiled me for those others." There
was another pause. "And you?" he asked.

"I? Well, I practised, and planted some flowers, and made some things
for Miranda's baby, and then"--she hesitated, with an adorably shy look
full of that pathos, which made so many of her simplest statements seem
claims for protection, "and then I went over into 'My Own Land.'"

He regarded her for a minute, his approval of her showing in every line
of his handsome face. It was in these untouchable moods of her, when she
eluded him utterly, when she took him out of himself entirely, that he
found the most zest in intercourse with her.

"Is it a long journey to that land of yours?" he demanded, gravely,
"making believe" with her.

"Not long," she answered, "but sometimes difficult. I go down to a queer
gate; I never knew where I got that gate," she threw in, in an
explaining way; "and let down the bars and walk up a long driveway of
blue pines, and there I am!"

"Go on," he said, "though I think it shabby that you've never told me of
your property before now."

"I found this country; oh, years ago! Of course, I have changed it a
great deal. There was only one house at first, like Kenilworth Castle,
only much larger, with those heavenly, deep windows. And I have taken
all the people I liked to live there--"

"Jolly," he said; adding, hastily: "But not in the least a house-party
sort of thing, is it? where they play bridge and drink whiskey-sours?"

Katrine shook her head. "These people _live_ in My Country. I've stolen
some, but others come of their own accord. They are very great people.
Colonel Newcome is the host. You know him?"

"Adsum," Frank answered, softly, and Katrine flashed a smile of
appreciation back at him.

"And Henry Esmond," she went on, "I have a time with him. Of course, he
never really married that other woman and went to live in Virginia. He
adored Beatrice until the end, and is always trying to have her with
him. I've had it out with him!" She smiled again, as at a memory, and
extended one hand dramatically.

"'Henry Esmond,' I said (you know he's a little man, so I looked
straight in his eyes as I spoke), 'I will not have her here with her red
stockings and their silver clocks.'

"'Ye've listened to gossip of her,' says he.

"''Twas you yourself that rode after her and the King, when ye crossed
swords with his Majesty for her honor,' said I.

"'An event which never took place, believe me,' said he, with a bow, and
he bows like a king.

"'Ye lie like a gentleman,' said I, 'and I've pride in ye for it; but
Beatrice Esmond never comes in here.' And then I just told the truth to
him. 'I've had jealousy of her for many years, despite her morals,' I
explained."

Ravenel threw back his head and laughed.

"Oh, you women!" he cried. "Are there many ladies resident in that land
of yours?"

"Some; not many. Di Vernon, of course, and Mary Richling, and Dora,
whom David Copperfield never had sense enough to appreciate, and oh, the
children! Huckleberry Finn and Little Lord Fauntleroy! The Nigger Jim
tends the grounds, you know. And that divine Harold of the Dream Days!

"One awful day," she went on, "when everything seemed wrong," the quick
tears came to her eyes as she spoke, "and I was sick and disgraced
before people and wanted to die, I went into My Own Land, and there was
Jean Valjean at the bars waiting for me. He smiled as I came."

"'Cheer up, Little Irish Lady!' he cried, at sight of me, 'cheer up!
There is reason for everything in that Great Beyond that we'll
understand some day.' And that night, because of his strength, I went to
sleep comforted, and the next morning sang the 'Ah! Patria mia' quite
nobly. It was payment for the suffering, perhaps. Who can tell?"

"And whom," it was curious how Frank's jealousy showed in the question,
"whom do you like best of all these tenant folk of yours, Katrine?"

"Ye'll never tell?" She turned to look him full in the eyes. "Promise me
ye'll never tell; for if the word of it gets abroad there'll be no
keeping him in bounds, he's so filled with conceit of himself already."
She leaned toward Frank and whispered: "It's Alan Breck. Ah," she cried,
"you feel so fine and sure when ye're out with him! With his glittering
sword and his belt of gold, and the way he takes the centre of the stage
and the speech skin-fitted to the occasion. It's grand to be with him
then. But it's none of these that I love him for. Do you remember when
he says to Catriona: '_I'm a kind of henchman to Davie_,' she quoted
Alan's words with a deep-voiced enthusiasm, '_and whatever he cares for
I've got to care for, too. I'm not so very bonny, but I'm leal to them I
love_.' In My Land, that is all they care for. They are of all religions
and times and climes, but they are loyal, every one." And, turning to
him suddenly, she brought her wee bit of a fist down on the hard stone,
her cheeks flushed, her eyes glorious to see. "It's all there is, in My
Land or yours, that makes life worth while--_Loyalty_! The 'enduring to
the end.' _Even if one's none so bonny, he can be leal to them he
loves_!"

Frank threw his cigar away and moved nearer to her, holding out his hand
with an odd combination of "make-believe" and real pleading in his
voice.

"Katrine, dear," he said, "take me to live in that land of yours. I want
to let down the bars of the gate you don't know where you found, and go
up the pine driveway to meet Colonel Newcome. I want all that it means
to have those people for intimate friends."

"One must make one's own 'Land,'" Katrine answered. "And besides," with
a curious, lovable puckering of her eyelids, "men mustn't _dream_
things. Men must _do_."

There was a silence.

"Must they?" he asked, at length. "Why?"

"Did it ever occur to you," she asked, abruptly, "that you might
work--ever, I mean--when you were a boy?"

"Never for a second."

"You never felt that you would like to take a part in great affairs, as
other men do?"

"Why should I, Katrine? I have all the money I can possibly want. Life
is short. I come of a family who tire of living quickly. Say, for
instance, I live until I'm sixty. I probably sha'n't, you know, but
we'll say so for argument. One-third of the time I sleep, which reduces
the real living to forty years. Until the time of fifteen one doesn't
count, anyway. That gives me but twenty-five years of life. Now, I ask
you"--he threw back his head as he spoke, his face charming with a
humorous smile, an illuminated eye--"now, I ask you, if you would be so
hard-hearted as to desire me--with but twenty-five years at my disposal,
remember--to spend them in a treadmill of work when I might be spending
them under the pines and the beeches with you, Katrine--_with you_!"

She had clasped her knees, making of herself a magnetic bunch of color
and lovableness, and she let her eyes rest in his a moment before she
spoke. "Don't talk that way, will you? I like to think of you always as
a great man--a man of action, a man who helps."

They regarded each other steadily for a full minute before he said:

"It has begun."

"What?" she asked, mystified.

"That mental treatment you spoke of some time ago. You are having a
terrible effect on me, Katrine, and I find it extremely uncomfortable,"
he added, laughing.



VIII

FRANK YIELDS TO TEMPTATION


During the time of the house-party at Ravenel, Katrine gave vent to the
natural rebellion against her position but once. Dermott was away on
some business in New York; the daily letter from Dr. Johnston concerning
her father's condition had not arrived; and she had seen the gay people
from Ravenel coach past her as she sat alone on the Chestnut Ridge.

For nearly a week she had been sleeping badly, awakening every hour or
two through the night with something--something that could not be put
aside--pressing upon her soul.

Huddled in a sad little heap, in her white gown by the side of the bed,
one unbearable night she stretched her arms along the coverlet, sobbing
out to the everlasting silence the questionings as to what she had done
to be so neglected and set apart.

"What has been in my life but shame--shame which was not mine?" she
cried, as the horror of life with her drunken father came back to her.
"Why are some given everything," she demanded, "and I nothing? Where is
God's justice? What have I done; oh, what have I done?"

Out in the wooded silence a bird began to sing a mournful melody. Of the
greatness of night he sang, and dead morns, and dropping stars; of dear
forgotten things and loves that might have been, that may not be; of
passion and unfulfilled desires, and through the pines the song entered
her heart like a response. She listened, not as a girl listening to a
bird, but as one artist listens to another with a rapture of
appreciation. And the music comforted her. And later, in the midst of
great sorrow, she saw intended significance in the occurrence.

"It was an answer," she said, "to remind me that there will always be
that solace. Give me, oh God," she prayed, "power to make of all my
sorrow music for the world!"

The day following her midnight protest she heard from Nora and old Cæsar
that the guests at Ravenel had gone; heard as well that "old Miss and
Marse Frank were goin' shortly"; heard it with a stirring at her heart
of physical pain to which she had grown used.

On the evening of this day, a warm June evening, she expected him to
come, and dressed as though there were an engagement between them to
spend the evening together. In a thin white gown, low in the neck, with
a kerchief of filmy lace knotted in front, sleeves that fell away at the
elbow, with faint, pink roses at her breast, her black hair turned high
in a curly knot, she stood in the old rose-garden when he came.

He wore a light overcoat over his evening dress, and stood hatless by
the boxwood arch looking across at her.

"Katrine," he said, "little Katrine, I have come back to you."

His face was illumined as he spoke her name. The peculiar ability to
express more than he felt was always his, but at the instant he felt
more than he was able to express.

"I am glad," she answered, not moving toward him nor offering to shake
hands. It seemed enough that he was there.

"They have gone at last," he said; adding, piously: "Thank God!"

"You did not have a good time?" she asked.

"I did not."

"I am sorry," she said, baffling him by the serenity of her tone.

"There were two or three occasions which stand out with a peculiarly
horrible distinctness. One was the time we had an all-day picnic at
Bears' Den. Porter Brawley suggested it, and I hope he will suffer for
it in eternity. It rained."

Katrine laughed.

"And there was an evening when we had charades, for which nobody had the
least gift or training. It was the evening you were to come to us. Why
didn't you, Katrine?"

"I was not well," she answered. "But I shouldn't have come if I'd been
well, Mr. Ravenel."

She seemed to him so perfect, such an utterly desirable being, as she
sat with roses in her hand and the moonlight shining on her flower-like
face.

Neither noted the silence which fell between them, a silence which spoke
more than language could have done, for language had become, between
them, an unnecessary thing.

There was still no spoken word as they walked side by side along the
path which led to the house. At the turn into the wider way there was a
tall pine-tree, the boughs beginning high from the ground, the turf
beneath them covered with brown pine-needles. There was a bench here,
upon which they had often sat together. In the moonlight this place
under the tree was in a soft, warm glow. As they drew near it Frank
spoke in a voice scarcely above a whisper. "Sit here, just for a
minute?"

It seemed as though they were alone together in the world. In the
moonlit gloom under the pine they stood, near, nearer, and at length he
put his arm around her gently, not drawing her toward him, only letting
it lie around her waist, as though they had a right to be there, heart
to heart, in the stillness of the night. Standing thus, he felt her
tremble, noted her quickened breath, and the rise and fall of her breast
and shoulders because of his caress.

Although they could not see each other in the gloom, she knew his lips
sought hers. By an indefinable instinct she turned from him twice before
their lips met in a long kiss of passion and content. They kissed each
other again before he drew her down beside him on the garden bench in
the flower-scented dusk.

"You care?" she asked, in a whisper, her breath on his cheek.

"More than I thought I could care for anything in life," he answered.

       *       *       *       *       *

It was after ten when Nora's shrill voice recalled them to themselves.

Standing together, she asked, as she bade him good-night:
"You--are--going--away?"

For answer he clasped her slim white hands behind his throat and drew
her toward him.

"What do you think?" he said, his lips kissing hers in the speaking of
the words.

"I hope you will not go."

"I shall not." And then: "Oh, for a few days, perhaps, to take mother to
Bar Harbor; but I shall come back. And we'll have the whole long summer
together, you and I; you and I," he repeated. "Good-night. Kiss me,
Katrine!"

"Good-night," she said, raising her lips to his; and then, almost as
though it were a benediction, she added: "God keep you always just as
you are, beloved." And as he had done many times before, Francis Ravenel
felt powerless before this girl who gave all, asking nothing in return.



IX

THE TRUTH


Frank did not leave Ravenel even for the few days which he had mentioned
to Katrine as a possibility. Accompanied only by her maid, Mrs. Ravenel
started to Bar Harbor without him. June drifted into July, and still he
lingered at the plantation.

And all the summer days were spent with Katrine Dulany. At first he
believed that he would probably tire of the whole affair quickly. He was
surprised to find that he did not. He found her always new. There was an
elusive quality to her, days when she would barely permit him to touch
her hand, when she dazzled him by the audacity of her thinking; her
indifference to him, to him who was in no way accustomed to indifference
in women. And a few hours later, perchance, he would return to find a
girl with wistful eyes and speech of tenderness, with no thought "that
is not for the king," she told him once.

No word of marriage was spoken between them; if Katrine thought such an
event possible, she gave no sign, spoke no word concerning it. If he
came early, she welcomed him with shining eyes; if he were late, this
incomprehensible person bestowed upon him exactly the same smile and
glance she would have given had he come two hours before.

"I have kept you waiting for me, I am afraid," he said one day, when he
had kept an engagement he had made for ten o'clock at a quarter of
twelve.

That morning she had been studying; not tones, but German Church music,
and already she had realized, unformulatedly, the solace in the exercise
of a great gift; had found that she could forget trouble in the world of
inspired work; not for long, perhaps, but long enough to have peace of
mind restored to her and strength to go on for another day.

"It didn't matter," she said. "I practised. One forgets one is waiting
then."

Finally there arose in him an absurd jealousy of this gift of hers, of
the thing which seemed to console her even for his absence.

"I shall learn to hate your music," he said one night, when she had
drawn herself away from him to listen intently to the song of a
nightingale in the pines.

"Don't do that!" she said. "Ah, don't do that! Don't you see that it is
all I have for my own in life; all I shall ever have!"

And with some hidden, mental connection between his words and the act,
she began to sing in her great, lovely voice:

    "Ask nothing more of me, sweet,
    All I can give you I give.
      Heart of my heart, were it more,
    More shall be laid at your feet.
    Love that should help thee to live,
      Song that should bid thee to soar.
    All I can give you I give;
      Ask nothing more, nothing more."

She asked, neither by word nor look, for any expression concerning the
song; but as the last note died away seated herself beside him, chin in
hand, looking far past him into the night.

At two of the next morning he awakened with a start. He was alone in his
own rooms at Ravenel. Looking around in the half-light of the window, he
put his head back on the pillow with the air of one awakened from a
feverish dream. But sleep had vanished for the night. Conscience was
with him. The time had come for the reckoning; some settlement with
himself was required.

Where was he going, and where was he taking Katrine Dulany? Marriage was
out of the question. A person of his importance did not make a
mesalliance. He owed a duty to all the Ravenels who had preceded him, to
those who would follow. To marry suitably was the first duty in life;
perhaps it was the only one which he acknowledged. _Where was he going?_
He lay with open eyes, staring at the ceiling in the faint light of the
coming dawn, with a sense of physical sickness at the thought of giving
Katrine up, of letting her go out of his life forever. He had told her
he cared more for her than he had ever thought it possible for him to
care for any one. That was long since, back in the times before he had
known the sweetness of her. Now, with all the heart he had to give, he
had learned to love her, to long for her presence; she had touched a new
chord in his nature, one which he had never known before her coming.

He would not give her up; he could not. Why should he? She would be
happier with him, even though wrongfully his, than with a drunken
father in the forests of North Carolina. They would go to Paris
together. It would be years before he would care to marry. But at the
thought Katrine's eyes came back to him. _Francis the King!_ It was so
she spoke of him, and it was this complete trust that appealed to all
the best within him, as a tenderness born of her sweetness, her complete
loyalty, raised him beyond his own selfishness, and he resolved to save
her, save her even from himself.

With this fixed thought he rose early and, breakfastless, went out into
the dawn. He would go away and leave her. He would see her once more and
tell her the truth about himself. He would make it clear to her,
"damnably clear," he said to himself, with a set chin. She would be left
with no illusions concerning him. It would help her to forget to know
him as he really was. He felt it part of his expiation to tell her the
truth.

As he rode up the pathway to the lodge he was white to the lips. His
eyes were sunken. All the passion of which he was capable longed for
this woman whom he was about to surrender, perhaps to some other. He
winced at the thought of it.

She was sitting in the old arbor and turned suddenly at the sound of
his steps, an unopened book dropping from her hands at sight of him.

"What is the matter?" she asked, anxiously, at sight of his white face.
"Are you ill?"

"Katrine!" he cried, "it is shame--shame at what I have been doing;
shame at the way I have been treating you!"

She grew suddenly pale, and her lips parted as she stood with eyes
fastened upon him, waiting for him to go on.

"I wanted you to love me," he went on. "I wanted it from the first. As
time passed I learned to care so much that I thought of nothing else,
wanted nothing else, but to be near you. But never, never for one
instant, and, Katrine, it is of this you must think always, _never for
one instant did I intend to marry you!_"

She placed one hand against the bench for support, her face exquisitely
pale, her eyes darkened, her mouth drawn; but she regarded him steadily
and bravely as he continued.

"I might make excuses for my conduct; might even lie about there being
some obstacles, my mother's objections, the rest of the family, but I
don't want to do that. I want you to know the truth just as it stands,
to know me exactly as I am. My mother would object to my marrying you,
but if I did it she would in time become reconciled. I have my way with
her. The only thing that stands between us is my pride, family pride. It
is sending me away from you. I am going to-day, going to-day, because I
do not dare to stay."

Still she spoke no word, but sat looking away from him into the ocean of
roses.

"For God's sake, say something to me, Katrine!" he cried, at length.
"Tell me even that I am the contemptible cad you think me to be; only
say something. I cannot endure this. With every fibre of me I am longing
to take you in my arms, to kiss your eyes that have the ache in them.
God knows how I want you and how I am suffering!"

Her lips quivered for an instant before she controlled herself to speak.

"There seems nothing to say except 'Good-bye.'"

Her voice was infinitely sad and tender. There was neither anger nor
resentment in it, and she rose as though to leave him, but he held her
back. The great womanliness of her, the ability to suffer in silence,
and the dignity of such a silence touched him strangely. There was a sob
in his throat as he spoke.

"Forgive me!" he said. "Oh, say you forgive me, Katrine!"

"Dear," she answered--and as she spoke she put her hand on his brown
hair, as a mother might have done, "I don't want you to suffer like
this. I might have known, had I thought about it at all, that you would
never marry me. But it seemed so perfect as it was, I never thought at
all, I just," it seemed as though she were saying her worst to him, "I
just trusted you."

He flung out one arm as though to protect himself from a physical blow,
and a moan escaped him.

"Let me tell you about myself," she continued; "it will be best, for we
may never meet again. Oh, please God," she cried, suddenly, "we may
never meet again in this world!"

The tears were rolling down her cheeks, and she sobbed aloud as she
spoke. He reached his arms toward her, but she moved away, sitting
silent until she regained such composure as would permit her to go on.

"The first thing I remember in my life, I must have been about three,
was my father's beating his head against the wall of the room in which I
was sleeping because my mother had left him. After that I became used to
anything--to sudden moves in the dark; to being alone with him through
the long nights when he had been drinking; to poverty, to black poverty
that means not enough to eat nor enough clothes to keep one warm; to
years and years of want and despair and misery. As I grew older and went
to the convent schools, some of the girls invited me home with them. It
was because of my looks and my voice, you know." There was sweet
humility in the statement, as though apologizing for the fact that she
had been desired. "And they were quite kind. Their parents liked me, and
one of them, I remember, said: 'She has a beautiful manner, which is
wonderful considering she is little better than a child of the streets.'
I could not feel even then how I was to blame for my birth, seeing that
it was a thing arranged for me by the good God. But I learned what to
expect.

"As father grew worse and less able to care for himself, it was
necessary to have money. Mr. Ravenel, I have been a beggar in the
streets! I have sung in the streets, I! in the court-yards of the
hotels, for money to keep from starving! So you will see sorrow is no
new thing to me. I do not question it. I have had in my life three
perfectly happy months, perfectly happy. It is as much as a woman can
expect, perhaps, and though it kill me, though it kill me, I shall never
regret having known and loved you." She paused a minute. "When one has
to die it is best to go quickly, is it not? When there is some terrible
thing in life to do, it were best done quickly as well. Good-bye," she
said, putting out her hand.

He shook his head. "If I touch you I shall not go. Oh, Katrine, Katrine,
Katrine! Do you know what I am doing? I am going when I could stay,
stay, or take you with me! Will you remember it in the years to come,
when you are older and will understand what it means? Will you, oh, for
God's sake, Katrine, remember that there was still some little good in
me, that although I did not do the best I could have done for you, at
least I kept myself from doing the worst?"

A scarlet flush suffused her face at his words.

"Ah, don't!" she cried, putting out her hand, as though to ward off a
blow. "Don't! Don't say it! Don't even think it! Believe me, it could
never have been like that! I should have died first!"



X

TO TRY TO UNDERSTAND


She turned and left him, walking quietly along the narrow path through
the harrowed field under the silent pines. The feeling of death was upon
her. She wanted to cover her eyes, to blot out the sun, to run to some
friendly darkness to make her moan. She knew he was watching her,
however, and carried her head well up. She hoped that he could not see
that her hands were clinched. As she went on, her cheeks scarlet, her
carriage splendidly undejected, the wish came to her that she could
sing. It would prove to him that she had the will not to let this thing
crush her, not to be as other women might have been. But her sincere
soul put the thought aside because of its untruth. She had given him a
great honesty always, she would give it to him until the end. He knew
she suffered, but she desired him to know as well that she was brave,
that her spirit was unconquered, that she would do something rather
than weakly suffer in ineffectual rebellion.

On the crest of the hill she turned to look at him. He was standing with
his eyes fastened on her, the strained whiteness of his face marked out
against the black of his horse's mane.

Across the distance she had covered their eyes met. The slim little
figure in the black frock outlined against the blue of the sky, the wind
blowing the pines over her head, her dusky hair holding the sun, her
skirts, pushed backward by the wind, revealing her childish body full of
exquisite vitality. The tears stood big in her eyes, but hers was a
soldier's courage, the courage to face defeat, a thing goodly to see in
man or woman. Hastily she untied the scarlet kerchief she wore around
her throat and waved it to him, high, at arm's-length, like a flag of
victory.

"Ah, don't worry! It's all right!" she called. "Don't think about me!
Good-bye!"

At the back of the lodge, down by the brook, there was a place shut in
by bushes and roofed over by boughs, where she had often before hidden
her grief. Reaching this leafy room, she threw herself on the
pine-needles, moving her head from side to side as if in physical pain.
There was shame mixed with the grief. Remembered endearments came back
to her; his head had lain on her bosom one night when she had tried to
ease his pain by her small, cool hands. The place burned over her heart,
and she pressed her hand to her side as though to stanch a wound.

If there had been another reason for his conduct, she thought, any
reason save the one he gave! If a father had forbidden marriage between
them, or if he had feared the anger of his mother, her pride, at least,
would not have suffered. But he had made it clear, "damnably clear," as
he has stated it, that the only obstacle to his marrying her was his own
will.

But he had suffered, too. She had seen him white and haggard with
longing for her, and she knew pretence too well to doubt that thus far
she was the supreme attraction in his life. The thing that hung black
over all was the unchangeableness of the cause of her trouble. She could
never be anything but Katrine Dulany; he had decided that she was not
worthy to become Katrine Ravenel. Wherein, then, did these Ravenels
excel? Her rebellious Irish heart put questions for her clear head to
answer. Were they a generous, high-minded, clear-souled people?
Folk-tales, passed by word of mouth, of the ill doings of Francis sixth,
as well as Francis fifth of the name, told her they were not. Certain
dusky faces with the Ravenel mouth and chin had spoken to her of a moral
code before which her clean soul stood abashed. Were they more
intelligent, more dignified, more refined? The narrow-mindedness of them
answered these questionings in the negative. Were they; and here that
self-belief, which seems placed like a shell to protect all genius,
entered its own, demanding; were they of the specially gifted, as she
knew herself to be?

But through the turmoil of heated thought one idea became fixed,
however. She must leave Carolina and work; determinedly, doggedly; work
to save her reason. Unformulated plans were taking shape in her mind
even while she sobbed forth her grief. If she could but study, she
thought!

"There must"--and here she spoke aloud, her hands clinched in the
pine-needles--"must, _must_ be found some way to do it!"

And by some curious mental twist, as she made the resolution, there came
back to her the words of some old reading:

_"No great artistic success ever came to any woman, that had not its
root in a dead love."_

As she lay face downward, her body convulsed with weeping, it was
ordered that Dermott McDermott should take a short cut through that part
of the grounds to the boat-landing, on one of his lightning-like trips
to foreign parts. He had just encountered Frank riding like the wind,
his face haggard and drawn, and at the sight of Katrine's distress he
drew conclusions, with rage and a dancing madness in his eye.

"If ye've hurt her, Frank Ravenel, if I find when I come back ye've hurt
her, you'll answer to me for it! God! _how_ you will answer to me!" he
cried.

       *       *       *       *       *

There is this about life: that frequently when we think the worst has
happened it is but the forerunner of worse to come.

As Katrine lay tossed by misery and shame, Nora O'Grady, with her kilted
linsey-woolsey skirt turned up, her white kerchief loosened over her
bosom, and her brogans twinkling in her haste, came running along the
road, her face twitching with sorrow. Ever and anon in her speed she
dried her eyes on her apron and a moan escaped her.

"Poor heart!" she repeated. "Poor heart, she's enough to bear without
this coming to her the now!"

But pushing the branches aside, she spoke in simulated anger to
Katrine, a pretence which showed well the peculiar delicacy of her
class. It was not for the like of her, she reasoned, to know the truth
regarding Miss Katrine's relation with Mr. Ravenel; and yet she knew as
accurately as if the scene of the morning had taken place before her.
With clear, wise eyes she had dreaded such an ending the summer long.
Nothing, she reasoned, could further hurt Katrine's pride than to have
it known her love had been slighted, or to offer sympathy, no matter how
hiddenly. And so she feigned well an anger she was far from feeling, in
an intentional misunderstanding.

Looking down at the prostrate figure, she began, in a shrill voice:

"Honestly to God, Miss Katrine, ye'll hear another word of this! Crying
like a child in the middle of a lot of damp stickers because ye can't
have music as ye like! Just throw yourself round on this wet ground a
bit more an' mayhap He'll take away the voice He's given ye already!
Perhaps it's because ye cry for nothing that there's been something sent
ye to cry for!" And here her thought of suitable conduct was lost in
real grief.

"Ah, Miss Katrine! Miss Katrine! Your father," her voice broke and went
up in a wail, "your father's come home to ye--"

Katrine, who had arisen, stood with tear-stained face regarding her. "He
is--?" She could not go on with the question, but Nora answered it
without its being finished.

"He has not been drinking. Oh, Miss Katrine, he's past that! Can't ye
understand? The hand of God's upon him! He's called away, Miss Katrine.
Ye should have seen him as he crawled to the doorway and fell on it. I
got him to his own seat by the window, and he's wanting you, Miss
Katrine, he's wanting you sore! So I come, in part to tell you, but more
to have ye prepare yerself for the change in him, for his end's in
sight!"

Although she was trembling from head to foot and had grown ashen pale,
Katrine spoke calmly.

"He came alone?"

Nora shook her head in the affirmative.

"It seems, Miss Katrine, that there was some organic trouble; that the
great specialist, whose name is gone from me, warned him not to try the
cure. He said the other disease was too far along. But your father
wanted to be himself again. It was for you he wanted it. It was the
disgrace he was to you that was on his mind always."

"Ah!" she cried, "there was still enough of the old pride in him for
that! We must pretend not to understand that he is ill, we must try just
to seem glad that he is back home with us again."

When Katrine entered the room where her father sat, she found him, as
Nora had said, by the window, his head thrown back, his eyes closed; nor
did he open them at her coming, though by a poor movement of the hands
he made her understand his knowledge of her presence.

"Little Katrine," he said, while two great tears welled from under the
closed lids. "Little Bother-the-House! I have come back to you. There is
no one can help me except you."

Katrine made a swift movement to be near him. Kneeling, she drew his
poor, sorrowing head to her breast, and in the twilight these two, the
one so old and weak and loving, the other so young and desolate and
brave, clung to each other, blinded by the vision of the separation so
soon to be.

In nearly every crisis of life there comes some twist in affairs which
seems to turn the screws harder or sets them to making one flinch in a
new and unexpected place. In Katrine's case it was a turn which made
life so unbearable that there were times when she would be forced to
bite her lips and set her teeth to keep back a moan, while for hours at
a time Patrick Dulany iterated and reiterated the kindness, the
thoughtfulness, the goodness to him of Francis Ravenel.

"There was never a day, Katrine, while I was at the hospital, that I had
not a letter from him. Money was spent for me like water. The doctor
told me he had orders to spare nothing. Ay, there's not another man in
the world who would do for a stranger what Mr. Ravenel tried to do for
me. And sometimes he'd write drolly, you know his way, that he'd seen ye
somewhere, riding, mayhap, or in the garden, or had heard a note of your
music as he rode by; and the home feeling would come back to me, and I'd
take heart again."



XI

KATRINE IS LEFT ALONE


In the ten days before her father's death nothing seemed spared Katrine.
The hopeless life of the man was recounted to her hour by hour,
interspersed with the rereadings of Frank's letters, and, most of all,
with remorse at the desolate place he had prepared for her when he had
gone.

"But ye'll have a friend in Mr. Ravenel," he told her, earnestly. "One
who will help you, Katrine, and ye need have no fear to take his help.
He is one who has a high thought for women and would never betray a
trust. It's a great comfort to me to know ye've him, Katrine."

On the day before the end his grief was bitter to hear.

"My little wee lassie," he sobbed, "I'm leaving ye alone with nothing;
none to shield you, none to care, but just one friend. I'm going out,
and it's good I'm going. I would always have held you back, always have
been a drag to your name--for ye'll make a name! It's in you, as it was
in her." He stopped speaking, but after a little space began, with a
crooning, the glorious "Ah, Patria Mia," and it seemed to Katrine as
though her heart would stop beating in her sorrow, for she knew it was
her unknown mother of whom he thought.

"Ah," he whispered, at length, wiping his brow, "the music's gone from
me. In the whole matter with your mother, Katrine, I was at fault. I was
jealous of her gift, of the love she had for it, and made her life
miserable by my demandings." He placed his hand tenderly on her head as
he spoke. "Katrine," he said, solemnly, "with those we love it's never
enough to forgive and forget. One must forgive and try to _understand_.
To forget and forgive. Ah, Katrine, time helps us there! It does almost
all of the work, so it's little credit we need take either for the
forgiving or forgetting. But to try to understand! When those we love
have hurt us or injured us, to study why it was done: what inherited
weakness in them, what fault of their environment brought it about, to
study to understand, that's the real Christianity."

In the starry watches of the night, wide-eyed and grief-shaken, Katrine
took the lesson to heart both for father and lover; learned it with
heart and head as well; saw the disarming of criticism, the tolerance,
the selflessness which it would bring, and knew that it was good.

But, she demanded of herself, was she large-souled enough to acquire
such tolerance toward Francis Ravenel? Leaning on the window-ledge,
looking into the clouded darkness of the night, awaiting the hour to
give her father the potion that for a time relieved his pain, she went
over tenderly, bit by bit, the summer that had passed, that
flower-scented, love-illumined summer for which she felt she was to pay
with the happiness of a lifetime.

She lived again her first meeting with Frank under the beeches; the
recklessness of her own mood because of her father's drinking; Frank's
lonesomeness at his home-coming; the touching of hands on the old log;
the sympathy between them from the first, and at the end asked herself,
honestly, who was most to blame. She had done wrong to permit him to
kiss her the night under the pine-tree, but she would not have foregone
the memory of it for all the world had to offer.

On the last day about noon the pain left her father, and toward evening
he asked to be helped to his old place by the window, that he might see
the sun go down behind the mountains. "There's a letter of Mr.
Ravenel's I'd like you to see, Katrine," he said, motioning her to bring
him the carefully treasured bundle of Frank's writings.

After assisting him to find the desired letter, she sat at his feet with
a white face and fixed eyes as he read:

"I met Katrine to-day on the river-bank. She was well and beautiful and
happy. It makes me want to be a better man every time I see her. I want
to help to make her life happy--" The hand which held the letter
suddenly dropped lifeless.

"Father!" she cried. And again: "Oh, father, can you leave me like
this?" And as the truth came to her that she was alone, Nature was
merciful, and she fell unconscious by her father's body, with Frank's
letters lying scattered around her on the floor.

After her father's burial there followed the collapse which comes so
frequently to those women who have the power to bear great trials in
silence.

In the small, white bed, with vines reddening around the window and
shining into the room, Katrine lay, day after day, with the pallor of
death on her face and a horrible nausea of life, but with a merciful
benumbing of the power to suffer further. For more than a fortnight she
lay, worn out with the task of living, with a Heaven-sent indifference
to trouble past or to come.

But with the return of strength the problem of daily living was to be
solved. The little stock of money which she and Nora had between them
was used for the last sad needs of her father, and with Dermott
McDermott away she knew no one to whom she could turn.

"Don't you be minding troubles like these, though, Miss Katrine," Nora
sympathized. "Niver ye mind a bit! Ye're wanting to go away, and we'll
find the money to go. We've some bits of trinkets, an old watch or two,
and I'm a good hand at a bargain. And we'll not want to carry the
furniture on our backs like turtles, either. I know a woman in Marlton
whose heart's been set on the old sideboard for months back. We'll go
slow, Miss Katrine, but with your voice we've no great cause for worry,
my lamb. Look at the thing with sense, and trust to Nora; she'll manage
it all. And in a few weeks we'll be off to New York, that wicked old
place that I'm far from denyin' I like fine."

On the day before this departure there fell an event, small in itself,
yet so momentous in its outcome that in the story of Katrine it cannot
remain untold.

Sad and wide-eyed, she was sitting in her black frock, huddled close to
the big pine-tree at the foot of the garden, when Barney O'Grady, the
son of Nora, came out of the beech woods. He had been crying, and at
sight of Katrine he threw himself on the grass, breaking into a passion
of tears, and clutching at her skirt as a child might have done.

"Barney!" Katrine cried. "Barney, dear, what's your trouble?" and she
put a soft hand on the boy's tousled red hair.

"Mother's going to leave me here," he said, "and I want to go. I hate
it, hate it, hate it, here all alone! I want to go! I want to go!" he
moaned.

"Is it the money?" Katrine asked.

"Yes," the boy answered, "there's not enough for us all. And I'm to stay
with Mr. McDermott till I earn enough to come. And I want to go _now_."

"But if you should get in New York, what would you do?" Katrine
demanded.

"Newspaper work," was the answer. "I've the gift for it," he explained,
with an assured vanity, between his sobs.

She had known such lonesomeness and understood it, yet, with all the
willingness in the world to help the boy, she had not one penny which
she might call her own. Nora kept everything, and she reasoned if Nora
had made up her mind that Barney was to stay in North Carolina the
chances were heavy that there he would remain.

But the boy continued to sob appealingly, and Katrine, who had that real
intelligence which no sooner sees a desired end than it finds a way to
accomplish it, put her sorrow aside for practical thinking.

She reviewed her possessions rapidly, remembering, with a throb of pain,
some carved gold beads she had worn when "she found herself," at the age
of three. They had always seemed part of her, and, though no one had
told her, she knew they had belonged to her dead mother, "who went
away." But she felt little hesitation in giving them, if some one were
to be helped by the sacrifice.

"Wait, Barney," she cried, "here, where Nora can't see you! I'll be back
in a moment! They're just some old beads," she said, apologetically,
with a splendid dissimulation, as she gave them to the boy. "But old
Mrs. Quinby, at Marlton, tried to buy them of Nora once when they were
being mended. Offer them for sale now. And, Barney," she went on, "if
you could reconcile it to your conscience to keep it from your mother
that I've given them to you; if you could with no lying, and yet without
telling the truth--" She hesitated.

"Ye needn't worry, Miss Katrine," he answered, drying his eyes on his
sleeve. "It's been betwixt and between the truth with her all my life.
But if the time ever comes when I can serve ye--" He choked. "Ah!" he
cried, "words are poor things! But ye'll see!" And with this he was gone
at a breakneck run down the Swamp Hollow toward the Marlton road.

And the strangeness is that Katrine's hidden gift of old beads to a
half-grown Irish boy, in the woods of North Carolina, should wreck a
Metropolitan "first night," shake the money-market of two continents,
and change the destinies of many lives.



XII

THE REAL FRANCIS RAVENEL


On the afternoon of the day upon which Frank said good-bye to Katrine he
took the evening train North. It was his intention to see Ravenel no
more for a long time, certainly not while the Dulanys remained. He was
afraid of himself, for there came to him at every thought of the affair
a glow of admiration at the words Katrine had thrown back at him:

_"It could never have been like that. I should have died first."_

He had given her up, but the fight was not finished, and the struggle
went on constantly. In the silences of the night it was upon him again,
gripping him with a pain around the heart. The most unexpected
happenings would bring remembrances of her. The appealing gaze of an
Irish newsboy, or a hand-organ grinding out the "Ah! che la morte,"
which brought back the half-lighted piano and Katrine's singing in the
twilight; the dreariest; most sordid details of existence reminded him,
who needed no reminding, of the time that he himself had decreed should
be no more.

For three days he endured Bar Harbor before he fled to the Canadian
woods with no companion save a guide. He gave his address to none save
his mother, and for six weeks tramped until his body ached for rest;
rowed the sombre lakes for exhaustion and peace of mind, cursing the
fact that he was a Ravenel, and knowing full well that his conduct was
both foolish and illogical.

At the first stop for letters he found one from his mother, which
disturbed him more than any letter of hers had ever done before. She
wrote:

     DEAREST LADDY,--I am writing in much haste and some perturbation of
     mind for your advice. Last night, at the Desmonds', Nick van
     Rensselaer came to me after dinner for a chat. I knew he had
     something upon his mind when he wasted his time talking to a woman.

     And what do you think it was? The most astounding, impossible,
     quixotic, unlanguageable thing in the world! He wants to send
     Katrine Dulany abroad to study. He wants it to be done in my name,
     however, so that it will in nowise compromise her, and wishes to
     have all the credit of the kindness given to me. He says he does
     not want to be known in the matter at all; that the girl can regard
     the money as a loan, and return it to him if she becomes a great
     singer, of which resulting he seems to have no doubt.

     You see the part I shall be forced to take in the affair. I have
     asked him for a few days to consider the proposition, and am
     writing you for advice.

     When are you coming? Every one is asking about you.

     Lovingly always,
     MOTHER.

Lying on his back watching the crooked blue spots of the sky through the
tree-tops of a Canadian forest, Francis read this letter over and over,
and as he did so it seemed strange to him that he had not thought to
help Katrine in this way himself. If she ever found out that he had done
so she would probably never forgive him, but there were ways, he
reasoned, to arrange it so that she could never find out.

His decision being made, he acted upon it immediately, and that night
two letters, one addressed:

     MONSIEUR PAUL ROGALLE,
     de Rogalle, Dupont et Cie,
     Paris, France,

and another:

     M. JOSEF,
     Faubourg Saint Honoré,

were mailed by him at the neighboring posting-place of Pont du Coeur.

The morning after the writing of these letters Frank started farther
north, and heard nothing of the outside world for more than a month. At
North Point he found a bundle of letters, two from his mother, and
another from Doctor Johnston, enclosing the note which Katrine had
written him after her father's death.

He opened the doctor's first, and at sight of the enclosure his heart,
in the homely old phrase, came to his throat.

It was a sad letter, thanking the doctor for all he had tried to do,
speaking of her father's suffering at some length, parsimonious of
detail concerning her own life or future plans.

It was ten o'clock in the hunting-hutch. The night outside was starless,
the lamps flickered irregularly, the guides lay heavily asleep in their
blankets on beds of pine boughs in the corner. It was a strange place
for the birth of a man's soul, but as Frank Ravenel read the letter a
tenderness, a selfless tenderness, for the sad little writer of it came
to him. He had already protected her from himself--"somewhat late," he
confessed, with bitterness, and there had been some effort "not to do
the worst." But the feeling that held him as he read was different from
any he had had before. He dwelt on her lonesomeness in the world: the
long nights she must have passed alone watching the coming of death.
Unspeakable tenderness brought a sob to his throat and a pain over his
heart, as though suffering from a blow. The remembrance of her on the
wind-blown hill came back to him; the scarlet handkerchief waved against
the blue of the sky, and the brave call over the brown grass: "_Don't
think of me!_ Good-bye!" It seemed in some way to have been a cry of
victory.

He went to the door of the tent straining his eyes into the blackness.
Alone in the great woods with the night noises, under the silent stars,
things took on a different value. What was he compared to her?

Stripped of family and wealth, how would each measure before a judging
world. "She was so"--he hesitated in his mind for a word--"she was so
_square_," he said to himself. Wave after wave of pity swept over him as
memory brought back to him her vividness, the fervid speech, the humor,
the touch of her. He closed his eyes for a moment, she was in his arms,
there came the odor of her dusky hair, and for the first time in his
life he was a man.

"Grègoire!" he called to the sleeping guide.

"Oui, monsieur."

"The distance to the nearest railroad?"

"By land--it is sixty miles, m'sieu."

"By the lakes?"

"It is much shorter, but of an extreme dangerousness."

"We will go by the lakes."

"When, m'sieur?"

"To-night, Grègoire!"



XIII

DERMOTT'S INTERVIEW WITH FRANK AT THE TREVOY


In three days Frank reached New York, where he found mail at the club:
from the South; from the Western mines; from women inviting him; as well
as five or six messages by wire or mail from one Philip de Peyster,
soliciting an immediate interview. Even in his perturbed and planless
state these repeated demands made an impression on Frank, and in the
morning he telephoned that he was at the Trevoy for the day, and would
be pleased to see Mr. de Peyster at his convenience, suggesting the
luncheon-hour as a time when both might be free.

Having received no response to his message, at two o'clock he entered
the dining-room of the Trevoy alone. After ordering, he sat looking
indifferently from one group to another, and noted, with surprise, that
Dermott McDermott, with his back toward him, was at the next table
lunching with a number of men, who seemed, to Frank's quick eye, bent
on conciliation.

There was nothing in the Irishman's appearance to suggest the man of
fashion whom Frank had known in Carolina. His clothes were of rough
tweed, he wore an unpicturesque derby hat, and he had the
unconsciousness of self which comes from intense occupation with great
affairs.

Francis listened to the jolly laugh, the quick evasion, the masterful
voice, leading, cajoling; he knew the men were wanting something from
McDermott, and realized, as they did not, that it was something the
Irishman had determined not to give.

It was of Frank's own home they were speaking, disconnectedly, and in a
strange jargon: of Loon Mountain, Way-Home River, road-beds, cost of
production, capitalization, bridges.

As he sat wondering at them, their concentration, their unity of
thought, their enthusiasm, by one of those throws of fate, which go far
toward the making of our lives, Dermott's voice came to him clear and
scornful.

"I have heard much, I might say overmuch, recently, of family and
ancestors, and have sometimes wondered what those boasted ancestors
might think were they permitted to see the ineffective descendants who
bear their names with neither achievement nor distinction. Now take my
own case. My family was well and bitterly known in Ireland as far back
as the ninth century. And at the end it availed only enough money to get
me through college and over to America. But I've done some things, and
with the conceit of the self-made man I'm fond of mentioning them.
Directly or indirectly, five thousand people depend on me for daily
bread. It's helped the world that I've lived. It's not what a man is
born to, I ask. Family? To hell with family! The question is: What have
you done?"

If the words had been spoken directly to him, they could not have stung
Frank more than they did. What had he done? It was Katrine's question,
and he recalled the lovable, vibrant little figure on the lodge steps
demanding of him if he had no desire to work, no wish to take part in
the great constructive affairs of men.

The group at the next table rose with an approval of Dermott's final
words, and, cigars lighted, were going their several ways, when the
Irishman turned and, apparently seeing Frank for the first time, came
toward him with a smile, hand outstretched.

"It's good to see you again, Ravenel!" he cried. "If you're alone I'll
smoke at your table for a minute or two." He waved a farewell to the men
who awaited him. It was a farewell as well as a dismissal. "You've heard
the news of Dulany, I suppose?"

"Only a few days ago. I have been fishing in the Canadian woods. I can
scarcely say how sorry I am."

"Ah, well! Ah, well! Ye did all ye could for him," said McDermott,
genially, "and it's probably for the best. Everything is, you know," he
added. "But I thought you might be interested to hear something of the
little girl. She has just sailed for France. I saw her off.
_Transatlantique_--yesterday. She has gone to Paris to study with
Josef."

Both men scrutinized each other steadily for a short time, but at the
game they were now playing Francis was by far the keener.

"Mother wrote me nearly six weeks ago about somebody's suggesting such a
plan for Miss Dulany. Wait a minute," he continued, feeling in his
pockets, "here's her letter now."

He gave his mother's screed to McDermott, determined that the Irishman
should not suspect the part which he had taken in Katrine's affairs,
and was rewarded by seeing McDermott return the letter apparently
convinced.

"Nick van Rensselaer! So that's the way of it," he remarked. "Josef
simply wrote her to come, that everything had been arranged by some
great lady. There were no conditions save that she should write to her
unknown benefactor once a month. The money is to be repaid when Katrine
becomes a great singer.

"It's just as well--just as well!" Dermott said, after a silence,
peering into the cloud of smoke he had blown ceilingward, as though to
foretell the future. "Ye see, Mr. Ravenel, if she will so far honor me,
I'm intending some day to marry Katrine Dulany."

There was again the challenge of the eyes, but Frank's training stood
him well as he raised his brows with genuine surprise. "So?" he said. "I
think no one suspected in Carolina." "I hope not," McDermott returned.
"You see, she's but a child; eighteen years! And a man protects that age
from mistakes, as you, of course, know."

The lids came down over his inscrutable gray-blue eyes as McDermott
spoke.

"And, besides, I have had so little to offer her." There was real
humility in the tone now. "When the Almighty gives special attention to
the making of such a person as Katrine Dulany, it behooves the rest of
us mortals to respect His handiwork, doesn't it? I've some poor gifts,
some money, a nine-century-old name. There's a title, too, been lying
loose in the family since sixteen hundred and I forget what year. But I
want her to be sure of herself. As for the study with Josef, it will be
good for her, but the idea of Katrine on the stage is an absurdity. I've
a cousin in Paris--the Countess de Nemours, a very great lady, though I
say it as shouldn't," he said, with a laugh, "whom I am hoping to
interest in the little girl. She's no longer young. By-the-way, perhaps
you've met her! Her miniature hangs in the hail of Ravenel House."

"In the hall at Ravenel?" Francis repeated, in genuine surprise.

Dermott nodded. "Under the sconces on the left of the mantel-shelf."

"Ah!" Frank cried. "I remember, a beautiful girl in green. It was found
among my father's papers only last year. It was a relic of his life
abroad."

"Yes," Dermott answered, with a curious smile, "that's just what it was.
A relic of his life abroad. Well, good-bye and good luck to you," he
said, rising, and Francis noted anew the grace of movement, the
distinctive pallor, the humor of the great gray eyes as McDermott turned
suddenly to come back to him. "Forgive me, Ravenel," he said, taking his
hat and stick from a self-abasing waiter, "for dragging you into my
private affairs in the way I have done, but somehow I thought it might
interest you to know of my love for Katrine," and, humming an old song,
he went his devious Celtic way.

"Three seventeen! Three seventeen! Mr. Ravenel! Three seventeen!"
Dreaming over McDermott's story, Frank realized that a call-boy was
charging around the dining-room screaming his name and room number. "Mr.
Philip de Peyster."

"Hello, old man!" Frank cried, with genuine pleasure, as Mr. de Peyster
came forward. "I found so many messages from you, I fear the worst.
You're wanting me to stand up with you, I take it."

De Peyster shook his head. "Nothing so bad as that. I _have_ rather
overwhelmed you with messages and things, haven't I? It's only business,
however, not matrimony. I'm sorry, Frank," he added, laughing, "to let
you in for a business talk this way. I know how you hate it. Therefore,
I hurry. Ravenel Plantation lies between two large railroads. To get
from one to another it is necessary to make triangles. There were a
half-dozen of us here last spring who conceived the idea of building a
direct road along the south bank of the Silver Fork, joining the two
roads, like the middle line of the letter H. We believed that the growth
in that region of cotton mills, tanneries, and wood manufacture
warranted it. You know Dermott McDermott?" he asked, abruptly.

"Know him!" Frank answered. "The Almighty alone does that, I fancy. I am
acquainted with him."

"Whether he got word of the scheme, or whether by pure accident he went
South about the time the plans were maturing, no one knows; but he
bought a mica-mine, started a tannery, and secured, on the south side of
the Silver Fork, a tract of land which lies almost in the centre of our
proposed line. It's but ten or fifteen acres, but it goes from the
river's edge to Owl Mountain, and we are forced to buy from him, at his
own price, tunnel the mountain or go around it, a distance of twenty-two
miles, with two streams to bridge. A cheerful prospect! He is holding
the piece of land for which he paid ten or twelve hundred dollars,
probably, at forty-five thousand! About a week ago I discovered, through
O'Grady, that the title was in your name until quite recently."

"It was," Francis answered, with a queer smile, "it was; but, with
unusual business foresight, I sold it to Mr. McDermott myself for eleven
hundred dollars. He said he was going to raise eagles on it," he
explained, with a laugh.

The flowers, the lights, and the music of the night he had dined at the
lodge came back to him. He recalled a touch on his arm, an upturned face
with wistful gray eyes, and remembered Katrine's warning. As he did so a
great anger came to him at the way he had been used, and his newly
awakened manhood called to him for action. There should be another side
to the matter, he determined. McDermott's overheard misprisement of the
South! His statement of his intentions toward Katrine! The cut of the
words, "_She is but eighteen, and one protects that age_," came back to
him. There had never come a time in his life before when he would have
been in the mood to do the thing he now offered.

"Phil," he said, "there is another bank to the Silver Fork River."

"But it is in your own plantation, and we knew the hopelessness of any
proposition to you, Southerner that you are!"

"It would be at least nine miles from Ravenel House," Frank answered,
determinedly. "I find I have changed a great deal in my views of things
lately," and here he leaned forward on the table toward his friend. "De
Peyster," he said, "let us build the railroad together!"



XIV

DERMOTT DISCOVERS A NEW SIDE TO FRANK'S CHARACTER


The next morning news came to McDermott that his land on the Silver Fork
was no longer desired by the newly formed company. It was nearly a
fortnight, however, before he learned the railroad was to be built on
the Ravenel side of the river.

The information came with abruptness from John Marix, a gaminlike
broker, who encountered McDermott in the elevator to their mutual
offices.

"Say, McDermott," he cried, with a cheerful laugh, "Ravenel didn't do a
thing to you, did he? _He didn't do a thing to you!_" he repeated, with
a lively chuckle.

McDermott's eyes were bland on the instant. He did not understand the
little man's meaning. What he did understand, always understood,
however, was that he must never be taken off guard in the game of life.

"I am the football of the Street," he said, with a kind of cheerful
despondency. "Everybody does me!"

"Yes they do!" the other responded, derisively. "It's because you've
done everybody that we're glad somebody's got even for a minute!
But"--dropping the bantering tone--"this Ravenel is something of a
wonder. I was at the meeting of the new company to-day. He's full of the
scheme, knows every foot of the land, and is willing to put a whole
bunch of money into it. We've elected him president of the concern."

By the same afternoon the facts of the case were in McDermott's
possession, and the following morning, upon seeing Frank about to enter
the De Peyster offices, he advanced toward him, hand outstretched. He
was entirely unprepared for the manner in which he was received. Frank
nodded to him slightingly, with the scant courtesy he might have
accorded a domestic whom he disliked, and said, with directness, looking
him squarely in the eyes, "I don't care to shake hands with you,
McDermott."

Dermott regarded him steadily in return, the gray gleam in his eyes a
bit brighter, the lines of his mouth harder. Whatever the grave faults
of these two men may have been, there was not a whit of cowardice
between them as they stood facing each other.

"So!" said Dermott. "So!" And yet a third time he repeated "so!"--his
tone one of grave consideration. "Had another done what ye have just
done, Mr. Ravenel," he said, at length, "this little episode might not
have ended so gayly. But for you I have so slight a respect that there's
nothing you could do to me that would make me call ye to account for
it." And, raising his hat high and jauntily, he said, with a laugh:
"Good-morning, Ravenel!"

Frank turned white at the words, but the Irishman had disappeared in an
elevator, and any immediate action seemed impossible and theatric. In
the short time he had spent in New York he had learned many things, and
the narrow, tiled halls of an office building twenty-three stories high,
in Wall Street, did not seem the fitting background for a personal
encounter to which the hills of North Carolina might have lent
themselves with picturesqueness.

He sat thinking the matter over in the club that night with two things
fixed in his mind. First, that he would go to see Katrine in Paris
immediately; of the outcome of such a meeting he took no thought
whatever. Second, that he would put this railroad scheme through;
already the feeling of power, of the consciousness of unsystematized
ability, was stirring within him.

The affair with McDermott rankled, however, and it was with drawn brows
and tightened lips that he answered a telephone call--a call which
changed both of the plans which he had so carefully arranged.

His mother's doctor at Bar Harbor had rung him up to say Mrs. Ravenel
was seriously ill and wanted him to come to her at once. He started at
midnight, to find his mother in a high fever, unconscious of his
arrival, and facing an operation, as the only chance to save her life.

He had been to her always, as she herself put it, "a perfect son," and
for the next three months, which made the time well into December, he
proved the words true, living by her bedside, and allowing himself scant
sleep from the watching and service. It was when she was far toward the
recovery of her health and her old-time beauty that he spoke to her of
his newly formed intentions with characteristic unwordiness.

"I am going into business, mother," he said, "with Philip de Peyster."

She was knitting at the time, counting stitches on large needles, and
she went placidly on with the counting until the set was finished, when
she looked up pleasantly. "You think it will amuse you?" she asked, with
the kind interest which she might have shown concerning a polo game in
which he was to play.

"I am beginning to think a man should have some fixed duties in life,"
Frank explained.

"Yes, certainly," Mrs. Ravenel answered. "The Bible says something like
that, I believe. What are you thinking of doing?"

"Buying and selling things, like railroads and mines," he answered,
smiling at her indifference.

"I'm glad it's Phil de Peyster you are going to buy and sell things
with," Mrs. Ravenel said. "His mother was maid of honor at my wedding,
and a charming girl, Patty Beauregarde, of Charleston. And I am
delighted at anything you do to make you happy, Frank. I have thought
you have not been very gay of late. There is, perhaps, a trouble--"

"What an idea!" he answered.

"Will you have offices and things?" Mrs. Ravenel inquired, vaguely. "I
have always had ideas for office furnishings, you know."

"If you could see Phil's office, mother, I think you would weep. It's
very dirty, and he likes it. It's the dust of his great-grandfathers."

"Well, dearest," Mrs. Ravenel said, "if it amuses you, I'm glad you
thought of doing it," and she folded up her work and put it into her
bag. "Life's a rather dreary affair at best," she concluded, "and
anything that interests one is a positive boon."



XV

JOSEF


There is in the Faubourg St. Honoré, not far from the Hotel of the
Silver Scissors, an old house set far back in a court-yard of its own. A
gray stone wall, the height of the first two stories, protects both
garden and house from the eyes of the passer-by; and, save for the sound
of singing, the place seems uninhabited most of the time.

On a misty morning in late November Katrine clapped the knocker of this
old house with fear in her heart, for her future hung on the word of the
great teacher who lived here, Josef, whose genius, generosity, and
brutal frankness were the talk of the musical world. A Brittany peasant
woman opened the door with no salutation whatever, for the huge
Brigitte, in her white _coiffe_ and blue flannel frock, spoke in awed
whispers only, when the master was at home.

"Mademoiselle Dulany?" she asked.

Katrine nodded an affirmative.

"The master is expecting you," Brigitte said, leading the way up a wide
oak staircase to the second floor, which had been made into one great
room. It was a bare place, with no draperies and little furniture. Two
grand pianos stood at one end near a small platform, like a model-stand.
There were photographs of some great singers on the walls, and a few
chairs huddled together.

In the corner at a desk a woman was writing from the dictation of a man
who stood gazing out of the window. He turned at Katrine's entrance. She
has seen his picture frequently, and knew on the instant that it was
Josef, the greatest teacher in Europe--in the world.

"You may go, Zelie," he said to the woman. "I shall not need you till
to-morrow." And the dismissal over, he came forward toward Katrine as
she stood by the entrance, uncertain what to do.

He was a man about fifty years of age, below the medium height, heavily
built, and dressed in black, with a waistcoat buttoned to the collar
like a priest's. His hair was iron-gray, his eyes brown, and the pupils
of them widened and contracted when he spoke. He had a clean-shaven
face of ivory paleness, a sensuous mouth and chin, and when he looked
at Katrine she understood his power, for it seemed to her as though he
could see backward to her past and forward to all of her future.

Being alone with her, he motioned her to a seat by the window, near
which he remained standing.

"I have been hearing that you have a voice. I have heard great things
concerning it. I hope they are true." His tone implied that he had small
belief that they were. "You have a serious drawback. You are too rich."
She started at this. "The management of your income, however, is given
to me, as I suppose you know. Will you be so good as to remove your
jacket and hat, and walk up and down the room several times?"

Katrine obeyed.

"Good!" he said, at the first turn; and at the last, "_Very_ good!
Sing," he said, as abruptly as he had issued his former order.

In the after years she was given to making light of her choice, but the
command was scarcely spoken before she began, in her lovely, sonorous
voice, the song which it was her heritage to sing well:

    "'Tis the most distressful country that ever I have seen,
    They're hanging men and women there for wearing of the green."

As she sang the three great stanzas, Josef stood motionless, his lips
drawn, his eyes half shut, his face like a wooden man's; but his hands
trembled, and as she ended her singing he opened the piano and seated
himself in front of it. "Take the notes I strike," he said,
"little--very little--so--so--so!" he sang.

Up and down, over and over, listening with his head turned to one side
like a dog, he had her sing the tones, saying only, "Once more!" and
"yet again!" and "over--over--over!" At last, with a sigh, he closed the
instrument. "I am not one given to extravagance in language," he said,
"but you have the greatest _natural_ voice I have ever heard. It is
almost placed. Sit down a minute, I want to talk to you. Two kinds of
pupils I have had in my life: those with voice and no temperament, and
those with temperament and no voice. God seldom gives both; if He does,
it is the great artist that may be made. To be great one must have both.
But even with both given, one must have the ability to work, to work
like a galley-slave, to work when all the world is resting, at the dead
of night, in the small hours of the morning. When all the others have
let go, you must hold on, till your head is tired and your body aches
and you faint by the wayside; but you must never let go, you must learn
to endure to the end. You will understand me. It is the _mental_ part of
which I speak. I do not mean that you are to wear your voice or your
body out practising. It's something far harder. You must learn to
surrender yourself, to lose your life to have it!" He looked at her
keenly. She was drinking his words in, as it were, and the expression on
her face assured even him. "Do you want me," he said, suddenly coming
nearer, "to tell you about yourself; what I see in you?"

She bent her head, quivering from head to foot, before the power of this
man, who seemed uncanny in his knowledge.

"You have had some great sorrow. It is an unhappy love-affair. I
understand." Here he smiled his critical, unfathomable, remote smile.
"You are not yet eighteen, and have been capable of a great sorrow!
Child," he said, "thank God for it! You have a voice of gold. We will
make of that sorrow diamonds and rubies and pearls to set in the voice,
so that the world will stand at gaze before you. When you have real
insight you will know that nothing was ever taken from us that more was
not put in its place."

"Master," she said, with something of his own abruptness, "may I talk to
you a little, a very little, about myself?"

Already Josef realized the charm of her companionship as well as the
adoring humility with which her eyes shone into his and the
unquestioning way she placed herself under his direction. He nodded his
permission with a smile.

"I want to be taught in _everything_. I know so little. It is not book
studies I mean. I want to learn to be bigger, to think great thoughts. I
want, most of all, to develop the power to be happy, to make the people
around me happy. _Most_, I want"--she drew up her chest and made an
outward gesture with her arms, a gesture significant of her whole nature
in its indication of courage and generosity--"I want," she repeated, "to
grow soul!"

Josef laughed aloud. "Ah," he cried, "you funny, little, unusual thing!
I'm glad you've come to me. We will study, study, _and grow soul
together_, you and I. We will not accumulate facts to be laid on
shelves, like mental lumber, but grow bigger thoughts: see ourselves and
people clearer that the work may be broadened. And we will find our
ideals changing, changing, getting bigger, higher. And the little people
will fall away from us, like Punch-and-Judy shows, painlessly, with kind
thoughts, because we will have no further use for them. Wait! Trust the
master! Nothing makes one forget like a great art! In three--four years,
you will meet the man, and say: 'Ach, Heaven! is it for this I suffered?
Stupid me! Praise God things are as they are, and that I still have
Josef.'"

"I have thought sometimes," Katrine went on, "that men have many fine
traits, which, without becoming masculine, women might study to acquire.
I remember once I went to spend the day with a boy and a girl whose
mother punished them both for some slight misdemeanor. Afterward the
girl cried all the rest of the morning, but the boy went out and made a
swing, and in a little while was quite happy. I was only five, but I saw
then, and later, that women bear their sorrows differently from men. I
don't want to cry; I want to make swings."

"Very well. It is _very_ well," said the great man, and there was a mist
in his eyes as he looked at the valiant little creature. "It's a great
gospel--that! I wish I could teach it to every woman on earth. _Don't
cry! Make swings_!"

She had resumed her hat and jacket, and, with the lesson-day slip in her
hand, was at the farther door, when she turned with sweetest pleading in
her eyes. "Illustrious One!" she said, "I've not told you all. I've not
asked you what I really want to know."

Already there was between them that quick comprehension of each other
which exists for those people who have special gift.

"Well?" he said, waiting with a smile.

"You remember a pupil of yours named Charlotte Hopkins?"

"Very well, indeed."

"You changed her greatly."

"It is to be hoped so," he answered, with a laugh.

"She told me much of you: of your power, of your ability to make people
over. And she said you had studied in the East, and had learned how to
make people do your will, even when they were far away from you. Is it
true?"

"Some say so," he answered.

"It is not hypnotism?" she questioned.

"I'm no Svengali, if that's what you mean," he responded, grimly. "I'll
watch you, Katrine Dulany, and, if I find you worthy, some day I may
tell you more."

More moved by her personality than he had been by any other in the
twenty-five years of his teaching, he stood by the window and watched
her cross the court-yard below and disappear through the great iron
gates.

"Poor little girl!" he thought. "Beauty and gift and a divine despair.
Everything ready to make the great artist. And then the heart of a
woman, which is like quicksilver, to reckon with. I spoke bravely about
her forgetting, but I have doubts. Sometimes I wonder if it be possible
for a person with a fine and generous nature to become a really great
artist. Perhaps it is necessary to have great egotism and selfishness
for the arts' development. I wonder," he said, aloud; repeating, after a
minute's silence, "I wonder--"



XVI

MRS. RAVENEL UNWITTINGLY BECOMES AN ALLY OF KATRINE


After his mother's recovery Frank went back to New York immediately,
keen to arrange the railroad matters and get the actual work started. In
the first interview with De Peyster, however, he found that Dermott
McDermott was far from being out of the reckoning.

"It is rumored," said De Peyster, "that he is trying to elect himself
president of N.C. & T. road. If he succeeds he can control the traffic
in Carolina to such an extent that our line would be a failure, even if
built."

"Then," returned Frank, and any one who loved him would have gloried at
the set of his mouth and chin as he spoke, "he mustn't be allowed to be
president of the N.C. & T. We must buy up the proxies."

Before the end of the week, however, they were surprised again by the
news that McDermott had refused to consider the presidency of the N.C.
& T. road, even if tendered him, and had given out that he would sail
for Europe within a fortnight for an indefinite stay.

"But," De Peyster ended, as he repeated the news to Frank, "if you think
he's whipped you don't know him! I'm more anxious over this last move
than if he stayed right here and fought us openly. There is more to it
than we know."

In silence Frank held the same belief, though he reasoned that
McDermott's European trip could be well explained by his affection for
Katrine; and so the thought of Dermott away from New York disturbed him
far more than it did Philip de Peyster, but for very different reasons.

It was at Bar Harbor that he received the first letter from Katrine, in
accordance with the compact that she should write her benefactor once a
month. The letter had been forwarded from his Paris bankers, enclosed
with business letters in a great envelope.

With a throbbing heart he opened it. She had touched it; it had been
near her; one of those small, soft hands, with the dimples at the base
of the fingers, had penned the strange, small writing:

     DEAR UNKNOWN ONE,--There is little to tell. I go every day to
     Josef. He thinks it possible I may become a great singer.

     I wonder about you, and feel something like Pip in "Great
     Expectations," only I know how good and great you must be. Isn't it
     fine to be like a fairy princess, who can do anything for people
     she chooses? And to have the heart to help--ah, that is the best of
     all!

     In my mind, for we Irish imagine always, I have made you a stately
     lady, perhaps not very strong, who is much alone and has had a
     great sorrow, who helps the world because it is good to help. So
     every month I will send you letters of what I do and dream to do.
     If you are alone much, it may amuse you to read of my queer life
     here in Paris. If my letters bore you, you will not have to read
     them. I want only to show that I appreciate your help and your
     interest in me. To know Josef is the greatest thing, save one, that
     has come to my life. He gives me little slips of writing to pin up
     in my room to learn by heart. The last one read:

     "What is it that enables one to live through the dead calm which
     succeeds a passionate desolation? Good work and hard work. The way
     to live well is to work well."

     Ever gratefully yours,
     KATRINE DULANY.

Another letter came in the same mail, which Frank read with a distaste
for the writer of it, for the affair that made such a letter possible.
It was from another woman, but something in the fervent little soul
beyond the seas called to him, to the best in him, and he tore the other
note to pieces and wrote a line or two in answer which closed an affair
before it was well begun.

For two months he had carried a letter which he had written to Katrine
during the first week of his mother's illness. He took it from his
pocket and read it over now, wondering if it were wise to send it:

     "I heard of your great sorrow sixty miles from a railroad in the
     Canadian woods. I started that night to see if I could help you. To
     speak truth, Katrine, I don't know why I started to come to you,
     except that I could not stay away.

     "In New York I met McDermott, who told me you had sailed to study
     with Josef. This did not change my plans in the least. But there
     came the question of that land on the other side of the river which
     detained me for several days, and then my mother's dangerous
     illness.

     "I have been with her constantly since--the crisis is past, but she
     is still too ill for me to leave her. I am coming to you just as
     soon as I can. And I am going to ask you to forgive me, to take me
     and make whatever you can out of my worthless self. Whatever of
     good there is in me has come through you. You have given me belief
     in purity and selflessness and hope of achievement.

     "Don't remember me as I was; don't do that, Little One; only as I
     hope to be; as I hope you will help me to be. I am coming for your
     answer the first minute I can get away.

     "FRANCIS RAVENEL."

There had been many reasons for not sending this letter: his mother's
illness; his sudden plunge into business; but underneath all was the
fear, which grew larger day by day, that he might receive from Katrine
the rebuff which his conduct toward her so richly merited.

Uncertainly he held the letter, reviewing one of the curious turns that
life had taken in giving Katrine an ally in his mother.

On one of his week-end visits to Bar Harbor, where Mrs. Ravenel was
still staying, her old gayety had led her one evening to the teasing
subject of his marrying. He was standing by the open casement, looking
into the twilight over the sea, when he answered her, and he could not
hide the break in his voice as he spoke. "I have the misfortune to love
the wrong woman, mother!"

"Frank!" The cry of alarm and tenderness and protest touched him
strangely.

"Yes," he went on, "and it's a hard fight."

She came near, putting her hand tenderly on his cheek. "Ah," she said,
"my boy, my boy!"

He drew her to him, and for the minute he seemed, indeed, a boy again,
coming to this sure haven of comfort, to the place where he had never
been criticised or told that he was wrong. "Yes, lady mother, I'm hard
hit. I fell in love with one whom I didn't think it square to the family
to marry. We have never made mis-alliances, in this country or the
other. I believed, and I believe still, that a man owes it to his
descendants, to the furthest generation, to marry for them. I believed,
and I believe still, that marriage is far less a matter of personal
inclination than most people consider it to be. I believe that when a
man marries a woman he does not marry her alone, but all of her
ancestors, and that he may expect to see the maternal grandfathers
appearing again in his own grandchildren."

"Certainly, dear," Mrs. Ravenel acquiesced, in a tone which indicated
there could be but one opinion on such a subject.

"You know how firmly I have believed this always, mother!"

She pressed his hand for reply.

"I told her that I could never marry her. But the thing was too strong
for me--I went away from the place where she was. Oh," he cried, in a
heat of self-abasing, "I grow cold when I think what a cad I was! I hurt
her so! But I did, too late, what I thought was right, what I had been
trained to do."

Far into the night, lying sleepless, with his hands folded under his
head, there came a light tap at his door, and he knew his mother had
come to him. She wore a rose-colored dressing-gown, and at sight of it
he remembered, with tenderness, how she had always longed "to be
beautiful to him."

Kneeling by the bed, she put her gentle arms around his neck, laying her
soft cheek against his own. And the way everything in life falls down
before mother-love could surely never be shown better than in her talk
with him, in which she renounced almost every inherited belief to try to
make life happier for him.

"Onliest One!" she said. It was her baby name for him.

"Yes, Miss Cora," he answered. They were the first words, learned from
the negroes, that his childhood lips had ever formed.

"I couldn't sleep. You remember how I never could bear to see you
suffer. I seem to go mad, to lose all self-control if you are not happy.
And I came to tell you that it isn't true, that talk about marriage. I
know it. I knew it when I taught you all the foolishness about family
and position, and helped you to have the pride of Lucifer. Ah," she
cried, "I suffered enough to know it isn't true! There is just one thing
on earth that makes marriage endurable: a great and overmastering love.
Marriage is the one thing about which for the good of the race, for the
good of the race," she repeated, "we have a right to be divinely
selfish."

"Perhaps it's true, mother mine, but the knowledge comes too late."

"No, it hasn't, boy!" she answered. "It hasn't. If I were a man and
wanted a woman, I wouldn't let her wishes interfere in the matter. I
would carry her off, if necessary. It was a good, old-time way--that!"
she cried, earnestly.

"Mother! Mother! Mother!" Frank remonstrated, with a laugh, though with
tears in his eyes.

"And you will have her if you want her; for you are so beautiful and
dear and sweet, no woman could help loving you."

And with this biased assurance he fell asleep, as she sat by his bedside
with her hand on his cheek.



XVII

MCDERMOTT VISITS HIS FRENCH COUSIN


It was true that Dermott's sudden departure for Europe had troubled
Frank. But it would have disturbed him more had he known the truth, for
McDermott was not only bent upon seeing Katrine, but was stirring
another trouble for Frank, a trouble which McDermott felt had already
slept too long.

The week before the Irishman sailed (it was the very day upon which he
decided, with a laugh to himself, to give up the railroad fight and
allow the new company to build the road on the Ravenel land) he wrote
his French cousin, the Countess de Nemours, thus:

     BEAUTIFUL LADY WITHOUT MERCY,--I am writing in a perturbed state of
     mind, for I think I shall get for you a great fortune. You do not
     answer my letters, though I have written at the lowest estimate ten
     thousand times. I want the date of your first marriage securely
     stated in written evidence; also the dates of the birth and death
     of the child. I want every scrap of paper which you have,
     concerning that sad affair of thirty years ago, ready for me when I
     arrive in Paris two weeks from to-day.

     There is a little girl over there studying music in whom I want you
     to interest yourself. Her name is Katrine Dulany. She is with
     Josef.

     Yours of the Shamrock,
     DERMOTT MCDERMOTT.


The Countess de Nemours' house in Paris stood in the centre of the
street of the Two Repentant Magdalens. An iron door in a griffoned arch
opened into a sunny court-yard, where peacocks strutted by an old
fountain, and a black poodle, who was both a thief and a miser, snarled
at the passers-by.

On the right of the entrance, in a kind of sentry-box, Quantrelle the
Red acted as _concierge_. He was a man above the peasant class,
ridiculously long and spare, with an unbroken record for thirty years of
drunkenness and quarrelling. His narrow head was covered with irregular
tufts of scarlet hair, and in his forehead were heavy furrows which
curved down over the nose and waved upward and back to the temple. His
eyebrows were red tufts standing fiercely out over his little red-brown
eyes, and his nose, long, lean, and absurdly pointed, seemed peering at
his great teeth, yellowed by much smoking of cigarettes. He added to his
charms an attire intentionally bizarre, for he dressed himself, so to
speak, in character. And with these natural and achieved drawbacks to
his appearance he had the temper of a wasp, so that it was small wonder
that questionings were rife as to the reason of his retention, his
_overpaid_ retention, in the De Nemours' household. He had a wit of his
own, had Quantrelle. Frequently his pleasing fancy led him to admit
visitors when he knew Madame de Nemours to be absent, and, after
conducting them by some circuitous route to unexpected rooms, he would
leave them waiting until discovered by any chance domestic who happened
by. And when they were ushered forth to the street he would follow them
with a torrent of shrill apology, retiring, in a paroxysm of silent
laughter, behind the shutters of his little box. Why Madame de Nemours
endured his vagaries was indeed strange, for she was one who demanded of
every other domestic something of an over-obsequiousness in service. It
was a well-known fact, however, that he held an assured position in the
household, and that the Countess only smiled at his grimaces and
drinking, rewarding him with frequent gifts and holidays in the
country.

On the morning of Dermott's coming, Quantrelle the Red sat in his little
house peering out, monkeylike, expectantly, at the passers-by, and
craning his long neck to keep a constant eye on the corner around which
the Irishman was to arrive. As the brougham drew up to the curb the Red
One sprang to his feet, threw the iron doors wide apart, and stood
bowing double as McDermott entered.

"Ah, my Quantrelle!" he cried, gayly, at sight of the thin
grotesqueness. "Still in your old place; still taking care of madame!"

"Till the end," was the answer, with a serious note in the voice.

"You have not changed much in the three years since I saw you last,"
Dermott said, inspecting him closely.

"Nor you, monsieur," Quantrelle answered. "In fact, you have changed
little since twelve years ago, when I hid you and young Monsieur de
Chevanne on top of my box here, after some escapade, to keep you both
from the police." He scrutinized McDermott closely as he spoke. "And
it's not the money (which I know well you will give me anyhow) which
makes me say you are more beautiful than ever, monsieur. The same
elegant pallor; the same pursuit in the eye! Had I had your looks"; he
made a clucking sound in his cheek with his tongue; "and your clothes!
Always the blacks and grays and very elegant! They are not my colors,"
he drew himself to his straightest to exhibit his maroon coat and
trousers and wide green cravat with an assumed satisfaction; "but each
has his own style," he finished.

McDermott laughed. "You are sober, Quantrelle!"

"Distressingly so, monsieur!"

"And if I give you money you would use it for--" McDermott paused.

"Charity, monsieur," the Red One answered, his eyes drooped religiously.
He took the gold coin which Dermott gave him, tossed it into the
sunshine, and slipped it into his pocket with a bow. "You will notice, I
honor your integrity by not biting it to see if it be counterfeit."

"Knowing your character, it is indeed a compliment," McDermott said. "Au
revoir, my Quantrelle!"

"Au revoir, Monsieur l'Irlandais!"

And Dermott passed.

Inside he found the Countess waiting in the drawing-room, and she
greeted him with hands outstretched, kissing him on both cheeks in the
French fashion. Afterward she stood regarding him with a slow, sweet
smile, which came from one of the kindest hearts in the world.

"And this," she said, in a beautiful, quiet, warm voice, "is the Irish
cousin who has not been to see me for so very long!"

Although past fifty, she was tall and slight, with the grace of a girl.
Her hair, white and soft and wavy, was worn high in a style quite her
own; her skin was pink and white as a child's; her blue eyes shone with
tenderness, and they had a merry, dancing light in them continually. Her
face was of a delicate oval, with a nose slender, beautifully modelled,
and exceptionally high between the eyes. She wore a green-white dress of
cloth individual in its cut and very plain, with an old silver belt and
brooch to match. Her hands, fragile and beautiful as shells, were
ringless.

"It seems so perfectly flat to say that I am glad to see you, doesn't
it?" she asked, as Dermott smiled down at her.

"I like it just the same," he answered.

"When did you get in?" she inquired.

"I came over from Havre yesterday. I was busy with some English folk
about a mine, or I would have tried to see you last evening."

"And you will stay--" She paused.

"Ten days at most."

"Ah!" she said. "That's horrid! You will miss so many pleasant things! A
Bernhardt first night for one."

"I'm a horny-handed son of toil, beautiful cousin," he answered, "and I
have come on business only."

There was a pause, which Dermott felt the Countess was waiting for him
to break.

"Patricia," he said, a beautiful consideration for her in his voice, "I
want to spare you in every way I can in reviewing the bitter business of
your early marriage. I have written you only what was absolutely
necessary for you to know. I discovered by accident that your first
husband left quite an estate. If you were his wife and had a living
child at the time of his death, and if these facts can be established,
this property belongs to you. You have not as much money as you should
have. I shall get his estate for you--if I can."

"About the records?" she inquired.

"If you have them ready I shall go over to Tours to-morrow to make a
search for the sister of the priest."

"Dermott, dear," the Countess said, putting her hand on his shoulder
affectionately, "you are not going to make trouble for any one, are
you?"

"Am I not?" he answered, with a short laugh. "Am I not?"

She took a bundle of papers, which she had evidently prepared for him,
from a desk which stood between the windows, but made no motion to give
them to him.

"It's all so far in the past," she said, "no one can ever know what I
suffered. But I want no one else to suffer in order that I may have what
you term my rights."

"Patricia," Dermott answered, gravely, "the thing is all a bit in the
air as yet. Your first marriage will be difficult to establish. The
French law requires such absolute proof that I may not be able to obtain
it. Now, don't let us discuss the matter further, nor worry that kind
heart of yours." He patted her head affectionately as he spoke.

In the years past she had known him well enough to remember his moods,
and she gave him the papers in silence.

"About Mademoiselle Dulany," she continued. "Since your letter, I have
made inquiries concerning her. I shall be glad to know her, for her own
sake as well as yours."

"I'm going to ask a great favor of you for her, Patricia," he answered.
"You live in this great house alone. It would be better to have more
people about you. I want you to see much of her, for I am hoping that
some day she may be my wife."

He spoke the last word tenderly, a bit wistfully.

"Ah, Dermott," she cried, "I had no idea! I shall be so glad to do
anything I can! Why couldn't she come and stay with me?"

"That is like you," he answered, gratefully; "but such things can never
be arranged happily. They must grow. Wait until you meet her. I am to
see her to-night. I will bring her to you to-morrow, if I may."

"It is arranged, this marriage?" she asked, delighted at a bit of
romance.

"Not in the least," he answered, concisely.

"But she loves you?"

"On the contrary," he said, quietly, "she loves another."

"And you are hoping--" The Countess hesitated.

"Not hoping," Dermott answered, "determined."

"How old is she?"

"Nearly nineteen, and Irish."

"Irish girls are hard to change."

"But you loved your second husband, did you not?" Dermott inquired.

"I hope I was a good wife," the Countess answered, evasively, adding,
"But you remember our own Tom Moore!"

"'The wild freshness of morning--'?"

Dermott stood looking into the fire, his eyes drooped, his face
saddened.

"But there is something else to remember as well," Madame de Nemours
said, touching him on the shoulder and looking up at him admiringly.
"The half-gods go when the gods arrive. And you have everything in your
favor. You are so great a man and such a charming fellow, Dermott!"

       *       *       *       *       *

On the following day Katrine came alone to see Madame de Nemours,
Dermott having concluded wisely that his presence would be but a
drawback to any quick acquaintance between the two.

"I am Katrine," the girl answered, in response to the Countess' query.
"Mr. McDermott has been so kind as to send me to you."

"It came about in this way," the Countess explained, drawing Katrine to
a couch and still keeping her hand. "There was a time when I knew
Dermott, my cousin, very well. That was in Ireland, before he became the
great man he now is. Since that time we have written to each other
always, for he has been kind enough to give me his friendship. He came
yesterday. I was sad, and told him of my lonesomeness. It is best, is it
not, to be quite frank when two people are meeting as you and I are
doing? In spite of all this," and here she made a slight gesture to
include her luxurious surroundings, "I am quite a poor woman. And so
when I told Dermott that I was lonesome in this great house, with none
but servants, no companions, he spoke to me of you. He was quite
practical. He said that you spent much money as you were living. He told
me of your great beauty and your greater voice. I became very much
interested in you, and we arranged for this talk. Now that I have seen
you, I want you to come and live with me very much, _very_ much." She
was so charming in her kindness, this great lady! "But you may not
desire it. The situation is awkward for me." She smiled here, and a
humorous light danced in her eyes, for with all her graciousness she was
quite certain of her charm. "And so we will leave you to think it over
and tell Mr. McDermott, who will in turn tell the decision to me. That
will save my vanity from being hurt openly in case you do not come."

Impulsively, Katrine clasped both the Countess' hands in hers.

"I want to come very much," she said. "There was never any one with whom
I would rather be. I know now that you are the lady of whom Monsieur
Josef spoke to me once. 'Ach!' he said, you know his way, 'she is the
greatest lady in the world! It is not what she _does_, but what she _is_
so beautifully.'"

As Katrine spoke with the earnestness of voice and manner always her
own, the Countess leaned forward suddenly with a startled look.

"Who is it that you remind me of?" she cried, drawing her, black brows
together. "If I could only think! Who is it that you remind me of?"



XVIII

KATRINE MEETS ANNE LENNOX


During McDermott's ten days' stay in Paris, Katrine saw him constantly.
The evening after her first visit to the Countess he received with a gay
air of irresponsibility the news that she was to take up her residence
with Madame de Nemours, and though he personally assisted in the
establishing of herself and Nora in the queer old house, it was with the
manner of one in no way responsible for what was going forward.

Some sunny rooms on the third floor were given her, a great piano was
enthroned in a bright corner, gay flowers bloomed against the faded
tapestry, and the Countess urged her to choose from many pictures the
ones she desired for intimate friends.

She knew that McDermott visited Josef to speak of her, and that he
returned delighted with the visit; but in all of his attentions there
seemed even to the watchful eyes of the Countess more brotherly
kindness than the solicitude of a lover. On the night before his return
to the States he had a long talk with Madame de Nemours. His visit to
Tours had resulted in nothing, and it was with some depression of
spirits that he was making his farewells.

But the Countess was too much occupied with her new protégé to be
downcast over any mythical inheritance in America, and as she stood
under the lamps in the doorway bidding him farewell, she said, with
girlish enthusiasm: "Don't you think about it any more. I have enough to
live on nicely. And as for that glorious Katrine, I'll deave her ears
with your name! No praises. Ah, I'm too old and wise for that! It will
be this way. 'It's a pity,' I'll say, 'that Dermott is not
better-looking,' and she'll answer, 'Sure he's one of the handsomest men
in the world.' And the next day, 'How unfortunate he is so niggardly?'
'Niggardly!' she'll cry. 'He gives away everything he has. He's the soul
of generosity!' Ah, trust me!" the Countess ended. "She shall persuade
herself there's none other like you. And there's not!" she cried,
kissing her hand to him as he went down the steps.

Within the week after McDermott's leaving Paris there occurred two
events, seemingly remote from Katrine's existence, which later wrought
the greatest changes in her life.

The first of these was the alarming illness of Quantrelle the Red. After
a day of peculiarly unbearable conduct on his part, the other domestics
in the house had revolted, and late in the evening turned him out to
pass the night in his fireless sentry-box. For ten days after this
occurrence he hovered between life and death with an inflammation of the
lungs, during which period the De Nemours' household learned his real
power, for the Countess flew into a paroxysm of rage at his treatment,
discharged the cook and one of the upper maids, harangued the others,
sent for the best doctors in Paris, and herself assisted in the nursing,
taking little sleep or nourishment until the old fellow was well on his
way to recovery.

During all of this turmoil Katrine went quietly back and forth to her
lessons, in no way questioning the conduct of the Countess, for she
understood to the full that human hearts form attachments by no rule.

One evening during Quantrelle's convalescence, when the Countess was her
sunny self again, she offered, unasked, an explanation of her seemingly
singular conduct.

"Little person," she said, putting her hand on Katrine's shoulder, "you
mustn't judge too harshly my Irish temper. It was gratitude to
Quantrelle which made me act as I did. There were two years of my life
when I should have died but for him."

It was an amazing statement, and Katrine's face showed her astonishment.

"When I was sixteen," Madame de Nemours continued, "I was sent to a
convent school at Tours. Quantrelle's father was gate-keeper there, and
let me pass out the night I went to be married. I was only a child." The
Countess covered her face with both hands, as though to shut out some
horrid sight. "He was an American, a Protestant, and my father cursed
me. Two years after the marriage my husband deserted me. Perhaps," she
paused in her story, "perhaps Dermott has told you this?"

"He has never spoken of it to me," said Katrine.

"After my baby came," Madame de Nemours continued, "I was alone with
poverty and ill health, and for two years, _two years_," she repeated,
impressively, "Quantrelle, a long, thin-legged, red-haired boy, kept me
alive with the money he could earn and the scant assistance his mother
could lend him. It was eleven years later, four years after my baby's
death and my father's forgiveness, that I married the Count. Katrine,
darling, I gave him a great affection and entire devotion, but my heart
died with the first love. To have that first year over! Ah, there was
never another like him! You could never know, Katrine, how different he
was from others."

"It was long ago?" Katrine asked.

"Thirty years. Dermott has recently been demanding papers of me. It
seems there may be some property in America belonging to my first
husband which he can claim for me."

A premonition of the truth came to Katrine at the sound of Dermott's
name.


"And your first husband's name?" she inquired. "Will it pain you to tell
it?"

"Not at all," the Countess answered, with a sad smile. "It was Francis
Ravenel."

The sound of the name itself brought no shock to Katrine. She seemed to
have heard it before it was spoken, but she made no sign.

She knew it was Frank's father of whom Madame de Nemours spoke, and the
tales of him in North Carolina had more than prepared her for wild
doings in his student days. It seemed strange, however, that Frank had
never spoken of an early marriage of his father. But the more she
thought of it, the firmer became her belief that he had never known it.

It was not until the gray of the following morning that she comprehended
to the full the weighty significance of Madame de Nemours' early
marriage, and saw clearly the significance of Dermott's stay in
Carolina, with the direful resulting that might come to Frank from the
Irishman's investigations there.

"If Frank's father married in America, with a wife and child living in
France--" But here Katrine stopped in her thinking, putting the idea
from her mind as one too horrid to entertain.

The second apparently disconnected event which led by a circuitous route
to the death of Madame de Nemours, as well as to the discovery of that
missing witness for whom McDermott long had searched, was announced
quietly by the Countess herself one morning of the following May.

Looking up from the Paris _Herald_, she said to Katrine, "I see that
Anne Lennox has leased the old Latour Place in the Boulevard Haussmann
for an indefinite period."

The three months following the coming of Mrs. Lennox made no change in
their lives whatever. Katrine was aware that Madame de Nemours and Anne
exchanged visits of courtesy, each missing the other, but early in July
she went with the Countess and Josef to Brittany and spent the summer in
work, the world forgetting and by the world forgot.

And the divine days with Josef by the sea! His wisdom, his temper, his
splendid intolerance, his prophetic imaginings, as he stormed at the
imbecility of his kind!

"It's this damned idea of realism that's killing art!" he shrieked one
day, on the rocks at Concarneau. "Who wants things natural? If Jones and
Smith could be taught by reiterating life as it is, the race of fools
would soon become extinct. My neighbor loves his neighbor's wife, and
they go off together and there is murder done. Does the reading of this
in book or paper stop my going off with the woman I love if I have the
chance? Not a whit! Art must raise one's ideals. It's the only thing
that helps you, me, any one!"

Or, again, and this was at twilight, waiting under the old crucifix for
the herring-boats to come in: "Anybody with eyesight can imitate the
_actual_. The _real_! What has the creative mind to do with that? It is
not one great and innocent-minded girl you are to represent in
Marguerite, it is _all_ girlhood in its innocence and surrender."

And another time, on the way home from Pont-Aven:

"Women of detail, women who indulge themselves in soul-wearying
repetition of the little affairs of life, have driven more men to
perdition than all the Delilahs ever created."

And Katrine and he laughed together at his anathema, and went forward
into a dusky French twilight, singing as they went.

Around her room she pinned the written slips which he gave at every
lesson, Scripture which seemed perverted to uses other than its own:

     "He that endureth to the end, the same shall be saved.

     "Live with Goethe's Faust--learn it. You will understand Gounod's
     better.

     "All art comes from the same kind of nature. If you didn't sing
     yours, you would paint it, carve it, write it, play it out; for, if
     it is in you to create something artistic, nothing human can stop
     your doing it.

     "There are no mute, inglorious Miltons. Every one who has the
     qualifications for success succeeds."

As time passed the letters to her unknown benefactor became more and
more intimate in tone by reason of her race and youth. No answer ever
coming to any of them, it was as though her thoughts were written and
cast into the eternal silence.

Upon the second anniversary of her farewell to Francis Ravenel, which
was soon after her return from Brittany to Paris, she took from the
depths of an old trunk the mementos of that time which seemed to her so
far away. Such trifling things: a pine cross tied with blue ribbon; a
grass ring which he had made for her once in the barley-field; a note or
two; a book of collected poems, marked. Trifling things, indeed! but her
heart throbbed with the sense of his presence as she held them in her
hands.

In the next room Nora was clattering some tea things, making the plain,
homely bustle that frequently keeps one sane. Out-of-doors it was one of
Paris' divine gray days, with pinks and lavenders showing in the
shadows; but neither the in-door noise nor the outside beauty held her.
She was back in the Carolinas with her first love; there was the odor of
pine and honeysuckle in the Paris air, a harvest moon in the sky.

"To forgive and forget and understand."

On the impulse of the moment she decided to write her story to the
unknown with no names, telling the pain which haunted her always; the
pain which she felt would be hers until the end. Having finished the
narrative, she concluded:

     "I am trying to make it very clear to you. You have been, you are,
     so kind. But I want you to know about me exactly as I am. The world
     would say that this man did not treat me well. He had faults; he
     had ignorances; we are none of us perfect; he was not a great man.
     But he was just as I would have him."

And, womanlike, she added a postscript:

     "You send me too much money. Lessons in fencing, dancing,
     languages, music, cost a great deal. I have not been spending it
     all, although I have been helping an art student, who has almost
     starved himself to death in a room built on a roof, painting by
     candle-light.

     "P.P.S.--Also a girl who tried to drown herself because she cannot
     sing, but she writes beautifully. I will send you one of her poems,
     to show you she is worth helping.

[Illustration]

     "P.P.P.S.--Also a very poor rag-picker with, I think, twelve
     children. He looks even worse than this."

The routine of her life having been thoroughly established the preceding
winter, she fell easily again into the old lines. Every day she lunched
with Madame de Nemours. Sometimes, when engagements left them both free,
they dined together in quite a stately manner in the high, old tapestry
room, and once in a fortnight she was bidden to dinner with friends of
this great lady--Bartand, the dramatist; President Arnot; or Prince
Cassini, with his terrible vitality and schemes for universal
betterment.

One morning she was disturbed at her studies by a card from the
Countess, saying that Mrs. Lennox was below and wished to see her. She
had grown accustomed to the desire of strangers to be presented to her,
for, as Dermott had told her, the news of her voice was already
newspaper copy. In the drawing-room she found Madame de Nemours by the
window talking animatedly, in her pleasant, low voice, to a lady, young
and vivacious, wearing aggressive mourning.

"And this," the stranger cried, in a high, strong, musical voice, coming
forward, "is the Miss Dulany of whom I have been hearing such wonderful
things?" She waited for no response. "I have just been telling the
Countess that I almost met you at Ravenel House, in Carolina, over two
years ago. There was a house-party, and you refused to come."

Katrine flushed and turned pale again suddenly, as she realized that
this was the Mrs. Lennox whom, by current gossip, Frank was to marry,
and she lived over again in an instant, it seemed, the morning when she
had met them riding together by the ford at Ravenel.

"I was ill, I remember," Katrine explained, recovering herself;
"unfortunately ill, since I was prevented from meeting you." There was
both consideration and compliment in her tone.

"Everything has changed a great deal since then," Mrs. Lennox went on,
"with me as well as with others. I lost my mother the following winter,"
she glanced at her mourning as she spoke, "and Mrs. Ravenel has been
back to the old place but once, for a few weeks only. Mr. Ravenel (you
remember Mr. Ravenel?) has gone in for all sorts of things since then.
Nobody knows what came over him. Frank had never been one to tie himself
down, but he is a regular New York business man now. He buys mines and
sells them, and railroads and things." She laughed pleasantly. "It lacks
definiteness, I can see. And Nick van Rensselaer! I have just been
telling the Countess of him."

"I do not know Mr. van Rensselaer," said Katrine.

"What!" Mrs. Lennox cried, with amazement. "I thought you met him at
Ravenel! I understood he heard you sing there, and it was because of it
that he wanted to send you abroad to study."

"If it be Mr. van Rensselaer who has been so kind to me, I do not know
it," Katrine answered, in no small degree annoyed by this enforced
intimacy. "I have never seen him nor heard his name before in my life."

If Mrs. Lennox noted Katrine's manner she was in nowise deterred by it
from going deeper into the subject.

"Mrs. Ravenel told me," she continued, with excitement in her voice,
"that Nick van Rensselaer came to her at Bar Harbor, and asked the use
of her name if he furnished the means to send you abroad to study. He
said that he was especially anxious to remain unknown in the matter.
Mrs. Ravenel told me afterward that you had declined the offer because
of having inherited a fortune yourself. But, of course, I thought you
must have met him; in fact, I remember that Frank said he thought so,
too. By-the-way," she went on, rising to go, "he is coming over soon;
Mr. Ravenel, I mean." She looked conscious for a second, as though
preferring to keep something back, and then finished: "He will, of
course, call while he is here?"

"He may be so kind," Katrine answered, suavely.

"Good-bye," Mrs. Lennox said, holding out a slim, black-gloved hand
first to the Countess and then to Katrine. "I hope your studies will let
you come to me soon. I hear you are to make your début in the spring."

Katrine laughed. "That will be as Josef says."

"Good-bye again."

After Mrs. Lennox had left the room, Katrine and the Countess looked at
each other with questioning in the eyes of each.

"You lived at a place called Ravenel," Madame de Nemours asked, "and
never told me?"

"I did not think the name one you would care to hear," Katrine answered.

"Ah, you so sweet thing!" the Countess cried, impulsively, putting her
hand on the girl's cheek. "You were right. There are probably thousands
of Ravenels in America unconnected with my unfortunate life."

But Katrine, who had had her own surprises in the interview, inquired,
"Why did Mrs. Lennox, who is very beautiful, very wealthy, and of the
monde, take so much trouble to come here to tell me of a Mr. van
Rensselaer?"

"I didn't think she came for that alone," answered the Countess. "I
thought she wanted you to know that Monsieur Ravenel was coming over to
visit her."

Naturally, a marked change in Katrine's attitude toward her unknown
benefactor followed this talk with Anne Lennox. She had become
accustomed to think of "The Dear Unknown" as a lady, old and beneficent.
The new idea was startling. Thinking it over, she became convinced of
the extreme unlikelihood that two people should have become so greatly
interested in her voice at exactly the same time, and her conclusions
led to believing that Mrs. Lennox had probably given her a true version
of the affair. But if Nicholas van Rensselaer were her patron, instead
of some white-haired old lady down in Leeds or Kent or Surrey, as she
had imagined, her last letter must inevitably have told him, who had
spent so much time in North Carolina, of her love for Francis Ravenel.

The obviously honest thing to do was to write to Mr. van Rensselaer
immediately, to let him know that without effort or curiosity on her
part his identity had been revealed to her.

Her letter to him was short to abruptness. She stated briefly the manner
in which the information had come to her as well as her regret that his
wish to remain unknown had been thwarted. She hoped that her voice would
fulfill all the promise he thought it gave two years back; referred to
the personal nature of her last letter; spoke of her desire to repay in
full the money part of her obligation to him, realizing that the kind
thought could never be repaid in this world, and signed herself his
"grateful Katrine Dulany."

In a fortnight the answer came:

     MY DEAR MISS DULANY,--Your letter reached me but a few minutes ago,
     and I am feeling, since its arrival, like the ass that wore the
     lion's skin. Mrs. Lennox was entirely wrong in her statements. It
     is true that I proposed the arrangement, which she told you of, to
     Mrs. Ravenel, but that dear lady wrote me within the week that I
     was too late in my offer, and that another believer in your gift
     had anticipated the pleasure I had promised myself in helping to
     give to the world a great voice.

     I am extremely sorry that you are under no obligations to me. The
     confidences which you mention I assure you are entirely safe so far
     as I am concerned, for I never received a letter from you save the
     one which lies before me as I write.

     I have heard that you will sing at the Josef recital in May. May I
     count upon you to write me a line as to the exact time, so that I
     may have the pleasure of hearing you?

     If, meanwhile, there is any way that I can serve you, believe me
     that I shall be glad to do so, for I heard you sing "Ah! Fors e
     lui" one night, standing under the pines outside of your window,
     and my debt is great.

     Sincerely,
     NICHOLAS VAN RENSSELAER.

And it was a curious thing to note that this letter, caused by the
chatter of Anne Lennox, was the direct cause of Katrine's next meeting
with Frank, a meeting which, but for this correspondence which led to an
acquaintance with the Van Rensselaers, might never have taken place.

One evening, shortly after the receipt of this letter, Madame de Nemours
told Katrine a piece of news for which she was not unprepared.

"By-the-way," she said, "Mrs. Lennox was here to-day. Mr. Ravenel is
expected in Paris to-morrow. I have asked a party to dine with them on
Friday."

Katrine had just said good-night to the Countess, and was standing in
the doorway, candle in hand, with the light shining full on her face, as
Madame de Nemours spoke; but she received the news with no change of
face, no tremor of an eyelid. She felt it a loyalty to old love that the
Countess should be forever unable to recognize in Frank the man whom
they had discussed so often, namelessly; and of whom Madame de Nemours
had such a slighting opinion. The strangest thing of all was that she
had for this man's coming; this man for whose presence she had longed
day and night for two years; the remembrance of whose words could
thrill her and bring tears to her eyes or a smile to her lips; that for
this man's coming, she had no thought save regret that he was to come,
and determination not to meet him.

"I want to be sent away, Illustrious Master," she said, the following
afternoon, to Josef, when the lesson was over, and they stood together
looking at the sun going down over the gray mist of the Paris roofs. "I
am not well, and there is some one coming to Madame de Nemours' on
Friday whom I do not wish to meet."

Josef looked at her quickly.

"Mademoiselle Silence," he said, "I, who read voices as others read a
printed page, understand. You had better see him."

Katrine flushed crimson, but changed suddenly to such a whiteness that
Josef thought she would have fallen.

"Forgive me," he said, tenderly, putting his hand on her shoulder. "I am
the surgeon with the knife, but my work is almost done. Let me tell you
something. You have worked as I have never seen any one work before. I
have not praised much, but I have seen. Ah, I know! Tones, little, big,
staccato, breath, breath, breath! Over, and yet again over. And the
thinking a tone, which is the hardest of all. And the acting--to
conceive what a character's voice should be; to understand that the
timbre of Carmen's voice would not be that of Marguerite's; that the
soul of the voice must change for each character. To slave, to slave, to
slave, and suffer as you have done into the third year, is it not? None
other can know the value of it all as I know it, and at the end what has
the master done for you? Meet this man and you will find out. It is for
my reward I am asking, for I, too, have done something."

Katrine took the hand of the great teacher and kissed it lovingly.

"Something?" she said. "You have done all."

"Not all; a part, a very little part," he returned. "But meet the man,
my child, and you will see how much has been done by both of us. On
Saturday morning you will come to me. You will say, 'Prophetic man, I am
ashamed through all my being to have loved so slight a thing.' You will
find you have outgrown him, and he will have only the weight of the
Santa Claus, which children painlessly outgrow. And ever after you will
have toward him a kindly mother-feeling, for that is woman's way toward
their first loves."

Katrine shook her head. "I do not want to forget."

"No," said Josef, "you never have wanted to forget, and that has made it
hard for me. You have a strange creed of your own. But sometimes, when I
know beyond words that I have received a 'wireless' message from you
over the roof-tops, I begin to believe you dangerous, Katrine Dulany.
But your belief of 'mind-curing' people into being better has the seed
of truth in it which makes so many new creeds dangerous. You can make
yourself so great by fine thinking that the people who come in contact
with you understand and are uplifted."

"It is a thing more subtle, Greatness!" Katrine answered.

"It is not a thing more subtle, Obstinacy!" he returned, with a laugh.
"However, have your way! You are ordered, to Fontainebleau to-morrow.
Your voice is in rags, shall I say? You will stay for two weeks at the
house of Madame Lomard. You will lie in the open and breathe much. And
so, good-bye to you!"



XIX

A VISION OF THE PAST


Anne Lennox's residence in Paris was more closely connected with Frank
Ravenel than the world knew. In a letter which she had received from
Mrs. Ravenel, after her illness at Bar Harbor, that comfort-loving old
lady had written that she would like to go abroad for the winter if
there could be found some homelike place to stay.

Mrs. Lennox had grown tired of New York, and she quickly devised a plan
to take some of her servants with her, find a suitable establishment in
Paris, and ask Mrs. Ravenel to make her a prolonged visit. That Francis
would probably accompany his mother to Europe and visit her as
frequently as business made it possible was not overlooked in Anne
Lennox's calculations.

But Mrs. Ravenel, who was too fearful of her comfort to trust written
descriptions, asked her son to step over to Paris, as she jauntily put
it, and see Anne's home before she committed herself.

"She writes me," said Mrs. Ravenel, eyeing the invitation suspiciously,
"that she has taken a house like a palace. I lived in a palace once in
Venice. The walls were of marble, with moisture on them constantly, and
there was but four feet of rug on a tiled floor forty feet square. When
I asked for fire they brought me a china basket with three or four
semi-hot coals in it, and placed it in the exact centre of the room
where one was liable to trip over it. The experience cured me of
'dreaming to dwell in marble halls.' I want heat, electricity, and a
large bath of my own."

According to his mother's wishes, Frank had written to Anne that
business was bringing him to Paris, and that he would give himself the
pleasure of calling upon her some time within the following fortnight.
In the stately old house, which she had taken on the Boulevard
Haussmann, Anne awaited Frank's coming with more emotion than she
acknowledged to herself. She knew that he had arrived in Paris two days
before, had seen that he was at the Grand Club, and the day previous had
received from him a note asking permission to call at four. He had been
more than deliberate in his attentions, a deliberation to which she had
become accustomed. It was, in fact, part of his charm. Often, in past
years, he had hurt her so much by his coldness that his coming brought a
keener pleasure than the presence of a more ardent suitor might have
done, if he could with any exactness be termed a suitor at all.

Long before her ill-assorted marriage had been dissolved by the death of
her husband, Anne Lennox's name had been connected with that of Francis
Ravenel. But it was one of the few affairs of his life which had caused
no scandal, one which other women had slurred over with a laugh.

"Anne's all right, you know," they explained, "and really Frank and she
would have been very well suited to each other if they could have
married. At worst nothing but a flirtation; and who, knowing her
husband, can blame her?" These were the excuses framed for Mrs. Lennox
by her many friends. The death of her husband had brought the general
belief that a wedding between Frank and herself would naturally follow.
Nearly four years had elapsed, however, and marriage between them seemed
no nearer than it had ever done.

Frank's present visit to Paris, Anne Lennox knew, with some bitterness,
was a business one. He had made that disappointingly plain to her in his
letter. But as she awaited his coming in a white crêpe gown, which made
her seem so fair and young, she hoped the words might be spoken which
would bring to her the desired end.

With all the love of which her worldly heart was capable, she had loved
this man for years, for his wealth, his family, even for his reputed
successes with women, which would give added distinction to the charms
of the woman whom he finally selected for a wife.

After he had been announced she rose to greet him, and stood watching
him as he came slowly through the great hall, noticing the hangings as
he came. It was a slight thing, but a woman in love knows the value of
such signs.

"When did you come?" she asked.

"Three days ago." He offered no excuse for his tardy attention, adding
only, "You've a beautiful old place, Anne."

"You like it?" she asked. "I'm delighted. You are not easily pleased.
But you should see the De Nemours' place. Whenever I come back after
seeing it this place seems detestably new, as if it were just
varnished! It is with the Countess de Nemours that Miss Dulany lives."

She watched him with attentiveness.

"Yes!" he answered, in a tone which might either be asking or answering
a question, adding: "The New York papers are heralding many
complimentary things concerning her voice. Have you heard her sing?"

Anne shook her head. "She is hedged about like royalty. That dreadful
Josef prescribes every minute of her day. It must be a great bore to
live in the way she has done. I met her once, however. Do you know,
Frank, she had never heard of Nick van Rensselaer, and when I told her
he had wanted to send her abroad before her fortune came she seemed
amazed. Of course, your mother denied the fact that it was Mr. van
Rensselaer who enabled her to come; but I always believed it was he,
didn't you?"

"You are complimenting mother's veracity," Frank answered, laughing. "If
she said it was not Mr. van Rensselaer, as a dutiful son I am bound to
believe it, am I not?"

"Doubtless," Anne answered, smiling. "By-the-way, Madame de Nemours has
left with me an invitation for you to dine with her on Friday."

"Shall we hear Miss Dulany sing, do you suppose?" Frank asked, quietly,
unimportantly.

"I don't know. She has never dined with us when I have been there. I
believe she is allowed frivolities but once a fortnight. Perhaps--" But
before she finished a maid entered with Madame de Nemours' card. "You
can ask for yourself," Anne explained, glancing at the card. "Here is
the Countess in person."

It had grown dark in the room, and Frank stood in the shadow as he was
presented to the Countess, who had come with the hope of meeting him,
for Katrine's sudden resolve to go to Fontainebleau had not deceived her
at all. By that process of seemingly illogical reasoning by which women
arrive accurately at facts, she had come to the conclusion that Katrine
had gone away to avoid meeting either Anne Lennox or this Mr. Ravenel,
and a far less brilliant woman than Madame de Nemours would have
suspected Frank of being the man who had caused Katrine such pain in the
past. That she had lived on his plantation, and that there must have
been many opportunities for them to have been constantly together,
unnoted in a place twenty miles from any dwelling, made the thing doubly
sure. And so Madame de Nemours, by reason of her intuitions, met
Francis Ravenel upon the defensive for this girl whom she had learned to
love so deeply.

"I am in despair," the Countess said, after the greetings had been
exchanged. "Here am I giving a dinner to distinguished Americans," this
with a little complimentary gesture toward both of them, "on Friday, and
Katrine Dulany ordered off to Fontainebleau by that terrible Josef. 'You
are not well!' said he. 'Go on such a day, on such a train, to such a
place! Say this! Think this! Imagine this!' And the poor child went off
yesterday for a month to Fontainebleau, afraid to disobey. Do you know,
I am thinking," she went on, "of adopting this strange child, Katrine,
legally, just to circumvent Josef? For that, and other reasons," she
explained, laughing, "I am so sorry you are not to meet her, Mr.
Ravenel."

"I have met Miss Dulany frequently," Frank answered. "In Carolina, three
years ago. Every one there was interested in her voice."

"Yes," the Countess answered, "it will be like that always with her. If
I tell you something," she said, the light dancing in her eyes as she
spoke, "will you be very discreet about it? I am thinking of marrying
Katrine to my nephew, the Duc de Launay. He doesn't know it, being in
Africa, but I am determined to be firm with both. Think of those
splendid, great ways of hers! She should have been a duchess in the
Middle Ages, when she could have dressed in long, brocaded stuffs and
led armies or killed a king. You can see," she said, drawing her wraps
about her, "I am not quite sane on the subject of this Irish child, and
go before I become a regular bore. Good-bye, Mrs. Lennox; good-bye, Mr.
Ravenel. I am so glad to have you both for Friday night."

She rose, and as she did so Frank came forward to assist her with her
wraps. At sight of him, in the full light of the doorway, she drew back
for an instant, clutched at a curtain, gave another quick look, and
fell, with a white face, unconscious into Anne's supporting arms.

It was not long, however, before she recovered enough to be helped to
her carriage; but this fainting was followed by a protracted illness,
the Friday dinner was postponed indefinitely, and Katrine summoned
hurriedly home from Fontainebleau.

Naturally, Anne Lennox called and brought Frank with her to make
inquiries and to leave regrets. It was in this visit, as Frank stood
well in the sunshine admiring the old house, that Quantrelle, peering
from his box, saw him, and with an oath fell back into the shadow as
though hiding from an enemy. Peering from a crack in the door, he waited
Frank's departure, and after the carriage had driven away, seized a hat
and ran at a mad pace down the narrow street, upsetting children and
dogs as he ran.

       *       *       *       *       *

Josef protested impatiently that it was a badly chosen time for the
Countess to be ill, speaking as though Madame de Nemours had personally
selected it with criminal thoughtlessness of Katrine, whose début was
close at hand; for despite his protests, the girl took the position of
nurse, sitting up till all hours of the night, and neglecting her
lessons if the Countess needed or desired her services.

The great lady herself, after the danger seemed passed, lay in silence
day by day, neither questioning nor explaining. To Katrine, however,
explanations were unnecessary, for she understood that to Madame de
Nemours the sight of Frank had brought back, with terrible distinctness
that other Ravenel who had been summoned to his accounting years before.
Just how much Madame de Nemours knew of Frank's attitude to Katrine at
this time was never made clear, but she clung to her adopted child with
love and a new comprehension.

But no word passed between them at the time on the subject of either
Ravenel, nor did these two great ladies again speak to each other on the
subject of Francis Ravenel until the night of the Countess' death. But
it was doubtless the bond in suffering, no less than her great love,
which made the Countess write to Dermott, the first day of her
convalescence, the letter which is set below:

     "I am nearing the end, my dear Irish cousin, and would set the
     house in order before I go. What little I have (it is almost
     nothing, for the house goes back to the estate at my death and my
     income has never been large) I want to give to Katrine Dulany. I
     want her to have, in the old phrase, everything of which I die
     possessed. And of course I desire you to be the executor. Will you
     arrange the necessary papers and bring them with you when you come
     to hear her sing? And I'm hoping I may be still here to greet you
     and thank you once more for a lifetime of loyalty and devotion."

Sitting in his New York office, Dermott read the lines with a face
saddened and gray. But the smile, so peculiarly his own, filled with
cynicism and humor, came to his lips at its close.

"Talk of justice!" he said. "Why, poetry can't touch this! Things always
square themselves in the long run, though we may not live to see them do
it, but this is one of the times when poetic justice itself got on the
job."

Dermott answered this letter of Madame de Nemours in person as soon as
business made it possible. Katrine, who understood from the Countess the
significance of his coming, awaited him in the reception-room on the
second floor. The curtains were drawn; a fitful fire made the figures in
the tapestry advance and retreat; the candles in silver sconces lit up a
misty Greuze over the mantel-shelf. A great bowl of white roses filled
the room with fragrance, and Dermott thought, as he bent over Katrine's
hand, that it was all but an exquisite setting for the girl herself.

Nearly a year had passed since their last meeting, and naturally Dermott
expected some change in her. But Katrine was entirely unprepared for the
change in Dermott. She had known but the one side of him in Carolina. On
his previous visits to Paris, while grateful for his kindness, she was
preoccupied and sad. And so, of the serious-eyed man with the beautiful
pallor and grave courtesy, she had scant remembrance.

On the instant of his coming, however, she recollected memories of the
old days; recalled that underneath his bright and stagelike behavior
there had ever been a certain constant attention, a sweeping glance, a
quiet scrutiny of persons unaware of his observance, a memory of details
and words and dates in some degree inhuman, and in the first hand-clasp
she recognized the power she had not had the vision to see in the years
before.

With both hands in his and her breath caught in her throat with
gratitude, she said:

"If you think I'm going to try to thank you for all you've done for me
here in Paris, you're mistaken, Dermott. I'm not." And then, with a
quick catching of the breath: "I couldn't do it adequately, no matter
how I tried. I know it was you who arranged for me to live here with
Madame de Nemours; I know how you've been writing to Josef concerning my
studies; I know how your kindness has followed me everywhere. That's why
I can't thank you," she said, with dewy lashes and the deep note in her
voice which made her speech ever seem like a caress.

"I've done little," Dermott answered. "I hope, however, to do more."
There was significance in his words, and Katrine looked at him quickly,
to find him, however, gazing intently into the fire. "Tell me of
yourself," he said; "all of it: the work, the ambitions, and the
achievements. I have hungered at times for direct news of you. Already
your fame is newspaper talk. You are happy?" he asked, abruptly.

"Happier than I thought I ever could be again," she answered, with an
evasion.

"Once," he began, in a remote tone, "I was in Arabia with a native
serving-man whom I tried to persuade to follow me on a shooting-trip in
the desert. He said he couldn't go because he had a wife who wouldn't
leave him. 'I made the mistake of beating her once,' he explained to me,
'and after a man has struck a woman once she'll stick to him forever.'"

If he expected angry speech of hurt remonstrance because of the too
evident implication of the story, he was disappointed, for Katrine
raised her eyes to his with sad frankness. "I think it speaks a truth,
Dermott," she said. "Sometimes I wonder if there ever was a woman who
loved the man who was kindest to her." "It's unrecorded if it ever
occurred," he answered, moodily, taking another road in the
conversation on the instant. "Madame de Nemours wrote me that you are to
sing at Josef's recital next month."

"Yes, it is arranged."

"That will mean an opera engagement somewhere, will it not?"

Katrine laughed. "That's as may be. It depends on how I sing."

There was flattery in the answer. "It will mean Covent Garden if it
depends on that," Dermott said.

"Thank you," she replied; and in the conventionality of the response she
realized anew that the jesting-time was by between them and she had a
man to reckon with.

"To-morrow," he said, "Josef has written me that, with your permission,
I may hear you sing. Have I that permission, Katrine?"

"You have," she answered, noting the handsome line of the bent head and
shoulders.

"To-morrow at two?"

"To-morrow at two. And then," said Katrine, "you will see for yourself
what I've been doing, so there's no use discussing it, is there? Tell me
of yourself and Barney. Does the newspaper work go well?"

"He's doing splendidly. He's more than making good."

"And the land you purchased in North Carolina! Do the eagles flourish on
it?" she inquired.

"Not yet. But there's excellent clay there, and I've turned it into a
brick factory for the present. The truth is, I needn't have bought that
land. I suppose you've heard of the new railroad through Ravenel?" he
asked.

"Something," she said, "but not definitely."

"They're building it on the other side from the 'Eagle Tract,'" he
explained, smiling at the words. "Mr. Ravenel is practically putting the
thing through himself. Do you know, Katrine," he continued, "I think I
have underrated Ravenel. Sometimes in the last year, when I've seen him
clearing obstacles from his path," and the way Dermott knew how to
belittle a rival was plainly shown in the pitying tone he used here,
"I've almost admired him. I have sometimes thought if circumstances had
been different he might have even been something of a man."

But Katrine's utter honesty was a thing Dermott had not calculated upon.
"Dermott," she said, "I have always tried to be frank with you, haven't
I?"

"And at times," he broke in, with a smile, "have succeeded
discouragingly well."

"I want to be so still. Madame de Nemours has told me the story of
Ravenel."

McDermott waited, serene, inspiredly silent.

"But," Katrine went on, "I was a bit prepared for it. Almost the last
thing father said to me before he died was that you were planning
trouble for Mr. Ravenel."

McDermott waited still, but with a sterner look upon his keen and ardent
face.

"Madame de Nemours has told me you need only a paper and a certain
witness at Tours to carry out your purpose. Is it true?"

"It is."

"And that purpose is--" She hesitated.

"To see justice done to Madame de Nemours," he answered.

"It will mean that Mr. Ravenel has no right either to his home or his
name?"

The pleading and protest in her voice did not escape Dermott as he
answered:

"It will mean just that!"

"And nothing can move you from your purpose?"

"Nothing that I can now think of," he answered, adding with some
vehemence: "Katrine Dulany, is it that you know me so little? My cousin
suffered much. She was deserted by a scoundrel while little more than a
child. These things must be paid for. But if you think I'd do a crooked
thing in business to settle a grudge or belittle a rival, you don't know
me at all. There's none, not Ravenel himself, who will demand everything
proven beyond doubt sooner than I. I'll take every point I can honestly,
but the man who is not absolutely honest in business is a fool. Until he
learns to be honest from the higher reason, he should be honest from
selfishness. It pays. It's capital."

"Then you believe the cause just?"

"I believe that the present Ravenel's father married in America knowing
that he had a living wife and child in France."

Katrine stood, hand-clasped, looking straight into Dermott's eyes. But
what she saw was an old garden in Carolina, wind-blown pines, the
scarlet creepers around an old bench, and a man with blanched face and
restless eyes; what she heard, underneath Dermott's voice, were words
from the past:

_"I might lie to you, but the thing that separates us is family pride,
family pride. I am going away to-day, going because I do not dare to
stay!"_

"Nothing else in life could hurt Mr. Ravenel as this thing will if
proven," she said, at length.

"Naturally not," McDermott answered, succinctly; "but it is not proven
yet," he added, in an impartial tone, adding, "I have not been able to
find the witness I need."

Was it Katrine's imagination that made her think the door moved suddenly
as by human agency? Had some of the servants been listening? She paused
in her talk, and, looking into the hall, saw Quantrelle the Red pass
quickly up the stairs with his daily flower for Madame de Nemours.

"And, believing that Ravenel did not belong to Mr. Ravenel," she
continued, "you encouraged him to build the railroad?"

"I neither encouraged nor discouraged that enterprise," Dermott
answered. "Fate steered, and did it well."

"And Mrs. Ravenel?" The name, as she spoke it, was a remonstrance.

"Mademoiselle Dulany," Dermott answered, "indeed you've a wrong
conception of the matter. There is to be no stage play or newspaper work
in the case. It will be quietly adjusted. The Ravenels are not people to
permit any publicity. There will be compromises. Mrs. Ravenel, I hope,
need never know the facts in the case. There is none need ever know,
save Frank."

"You have never liked him, have you, Dermott?" Katrine asked, with
directness.

"Never," Dermott answered, with a frankness matching her own.

"Why?"

"Faith, and there are three excellent reasons," Dermott returned, with
something of his old manner: "He was himself; I was myself; and a
third," he paused, with all the power of his personality in his great
gray eyes, "a third," he repeated, "which I hope some time to explain to
you at great length, little Katrine."



XX

THE INFLUENCE OF WORK


Of Francis Ravenel at this time much could be written. In the first
months of his separation from Katrine, during all of the period of his
mother's illness, he remained firm in the intention expressed in the
unsent letter to visit her in Paris, ask her forgiveness, and make her a
formal offer of marriage. But quick on the heels of his return to New
York had followed the railroad business, to which Dermott McDermott's
insolence had added new reason for making the enterprise a successful
one.

But underneath the several postponements of visiting Katrine, the real
cause of them all, in fact, was a fear of the well-merited rebuff which
he might receive from her. He understood her pride well; and although he
believed that she had not ceased to love him, he doubted if he held her
respect, and many times, when instinct bade him go to her, he had
recalled the pleading tones of her voice in that last interview, when
she had cried: "We may never meet again! Ah, please God, we may never
meet again!"

Katrine's letters, which came to him with perfect regularity, kept him
closely in touch with her daily life in Paris. He looked anxiously in
them for any variation in her sentiments toward himself, but found none.

Reading one night in Firdousi, he discovered a passage which described
Katrine so perfectly to him that he put a marker between the pages of
the book, and kept it by his bedside to read at night as a pious person
might have kept the confession of his faith.

     "She was an elemental force," wrote the old poet, "and astonished
     me by her amount of life, when I saw her day after day radiating
     every instant redundant joy and grace on all around her. Though the
     bias of her nature was not to thought but to sympathy, yet was she
     so perfect in her own nature as to meet intellectual persons by the
     fulness of her heart, warming them by her sentiments, believing, as
     she did, that by dealing nobly with all, all would show themselves
     noble."

And there were sometimes bits of her letters which drove him wild with
regret for what he had done.

     "Is personal happiness, after all," she wrote once, "a very
     important thing? Nothing can ever make me suffer again as I have
     suffered, for I have learned to use a man's solace: work; work in
     which I can go far away from myself and be as impersonal as a
     problem in geometry. But I ask myself, Is that what was intended?
     Sometimes I seem to touch the edge of the knowledge that it is
     (perhaps) greater to be a sad, little, suffering, incompetent
     mother, than to be the person which trouble and music have made of
     me."

But in his self-abasement Frank failed to take into the accounting the
stupendous effect which the New York influences and the handling of
great affairs had had upon his own character. Day by day he had learned
more plainly the lessons of responsibility, of continued and
concentrated action, and even McDermott himself could not use Napoleon's
great question, "What has he done?" more meaningly than Frank himself
did now.

But with this new manhood came a finer comprehension of his baseness to
Katrine, and an emphasized doubt as to whether she ever could forgive
the miserable selfishness which he had displayed.

In his visits between the States and England (he made three during
Katrine's stay in Paris, besides the one in which he had met the
Countess de Nemours) he went from one side of the question to the other
in his thinking, wanting to visit Katrine, but realizing to the full
that Mademoiselle Dulany, a singer to the world, or Katrine, adopted
daughter of the Countess de Nemours, and a possible duchess, were worlds
removed from the little Irish girl who had loved him in the Carolina
woods. Fontainebleau! Fontainebleau! Since the day the Countess had told
him of Katrine's being there, the name repeated itself in his head like
a song. He remembered the silence of the great trees, the nightingales
at dusk among them, and dreamed of a day with Katrine there, hearing her
quaint humor, her daring speeches, her tenderness, her selfless view of
life, of herself, of everything in all the world save him.

At the Christmas-time of Katrine's last year in Paris, he received a
quaint illumination with the following note of explanation:

     MY DEAR UNKNOWN FRIEND,--I have thought this out and printed it,
     too. It is not very well done, but I have tried to make it sincere.
     Of course I got the idea of making prayers for myself from R.L.S.

     I am sending it to you with a heart full of hope that your
     Christmas may be a merry one.

     Affectionately,
     KATRINE DULANY.

He read and reread the printed lines, and finally had them framed and
hung by his bedside, where they were the first thing upon which his eyes
rested in the morning:

     "Grant me the ability to do some one thing well.

     "Give me sympathy for the suffering of others which has been
     brought to them by their own acts.

     "Grant that I may have courage for the weak and the friendship of
     those who demand the best of my nature.

     "Remove all doubts from me that there will be ultimate peace and
     happiness for every one.

     "Let fear of the consequences of a right act be far from me. Let me
     forget the words expediency, convention, and reward.

     "Grant me largeness of judgment, and silence for all weakness,
     especially that of woman.

     "And give me, each day, my daily work, with rest at night under
     some friendly stars."

       *       *       *       *       *

Early in April, after the lonesomest winter of his life, he received the
following letter from his mother, who was still in Paris with Anne
Lennox:

     MY DEAR, DEAR CHILD,--I have been going about a great deal, meeting
     old friends and making some new ones, which accounts for my not
     having written you last week. Anne's house is like a Union Station
     for repose and solitude. She has people in to luncheon and dinner
     and tea, and I suspect even for the _café au lait_ in the mornings.
     I enjoy it, however. One is seldom bored, though frequently
     exhausted. Why I am writing this dull introduction I cannot say,
     for I have more important things to tell.

     I have met Katrine Dulany.

     Anne and I went to the Countess de Nemours' reception on Friday
     night. We were all in a whirl of unfinished sentences when Miss
     Dulany entered. I wish you might have seen her, as she came toward
     us! Of course she was a very pretty child in North Carolina, but
     she has developed into something really remarkable. She wore white,
     décolleté, with her hair Madonna-wise. And she has such
     distinction! Such repose! Truly, Frank, she came in so quietly that
     she made every one else seem to enter on horseback.

     Coming directly toward me, she said: "Perhaps you do not remember
     me, Mrs. Ravenel! I am Katrine Dulany. My father was overseer of
     your plantation, in North Carolina, for nearly three years." It was
     as though Mary Queen of Scots had come to life and asked me if I
     remembered when she was my parlor-maid!

     And she stayed and talked to me with sweetest deference and an
     appeal in her eyes, and I went home quite exalted to think this
     much-desired person had singled me out for such marked attention.

     But during the night (and oh, my little, little boy! you will
     forgive me if what I write hurts you, won't you?) I awoke
     suddenly, and it seemed that everything was clear to me. I recalled
     your story of loving the woman whom you didn't think it right for
     you to marry, of your inexplicable stay at Ravenel through an
     entire summer, your depression afterward, and your sudden plunge
     into business. I couldn't help putting these things together and
     believing that this little Irish girl was the woman in the case.

     But if you don't want me to know, I _won't_ know. I never knew
     anything you didn't want me to. That's a mother's way. And don't
     say a word about the matter to me unless you care to. Believe me,
     boy of my heart, I will respect your silence.

     It is three months since you have been here. Miss Dulany sings on
     the 23d. Can't you come over? Every one is going, and we have taken
     a box. Do come.

     MOTHER.


Even to his mother Frank could not bring himself to mention Katrine's
name, and he avoided all explanations by cabling his reply:

     Will arrive in Paris on the 20th.--F.R.



XXI

THE NIGHT OF KATRINE'S DÉBUT


The yearly recital of Josef's pupils is an event to which Paris looks
forward with interest, for the great teacher makes of it always an
artistic triumph. That year there was more than usual excitement over
the event, because of the first appearance in public of Mademoiselle
Dulany, whose voice had been enthusiastically written of by every critic
whom Josef had permitted to hear her sing. Two of the greatest singers
of the world, old pupils of Josef, had been bidden to sing with her.
Campanali and Rigard, whose sonorous bass tones have thrilled two
continents, came gladly at the bidding of their old master, to whom they
owed so much. The opera was "Faust." The house was packed from pit to
dome, with seats in the aisles, and many great people.

The Countess, trembling with excitement, had with her in her box her old
friends the Townes, from London, for the event. In the next box the Duc
d'Aumale and a party of club men were making bets about the success of
the evening. In the next sat Francis Ravenel, with his mother and Anne
Lennox. He was more excited than he had believed it possible for him to
be over anything in life. The lights, the chatter of the gay throng, the
moving of the people in their visiting from place to place, the tuning
of the instruments, jarred upon his nerves frightfully and heightened
the tension at which he was. Outwardly, however, he appeared as unmoved
as if sitting alone at the club. His mother and Anne were recognizing
many acquaintances in the audience, and there was a constant procession
of men coming to the box to pay their respects. With every one the topic
was La Dulany. "Would she have stage fright?" Josef said not. "Will she
be as beautiful as rumor has said?" "It is a great undertaking for an
absolutely unknown débutante to sing with Campanali, who will, nay,
must, naturally take all the honors."

Meanwhile, Katrine, in her little white room at the Countess de
Nemours', had just written:

     DEAR UNKNOWN,--I have shut every one out of my room and shall see
     them no more until afterward. Can I do it? I have prayed God, who
     knows how I have suffered and worked and despaired and desired, to
     help me now. I have asked Him to remember what I have tried to do,
     to remember my self-denials, my surrender, my lonesome life, my
     broken heart, and give it me to do this one thing well.

     They will all be there, all those people who have heard of me, and
     Josef. Ah, for his sake, too, I have prayed to do greatly,
     inspiredly, the thing he would have me do! And _he_ will be there,
     too, I am told. He has crossed the ocean to hear me sing. Oh, dear
     God, just once, if never again, let him know me through my voice,
     know that I forgive and forget and understand!

     The carriage is ready. Good-bye, dear, dear room, dear old books,
     dear old scores! Good-bye, Dear Unknown!

     It is the last time I can write you of my hopes to be great.
     To-morrow you will know what I have done. But whether I go to
     success or failure, I kiss you with my heart full of love and
     gratitude, and so-good-bye!

     KATRINE.

       *       *       *       *       *

"There is Josef now; look, Mrs. Ravenel!" Mrs. Lennox cried, pointing to
a man who had just entered the stage box. "The man with the iron-gray
hair. And the eyes! Did you ever see such eyes? And who is that with
him? Great Heavens," she exclaimed, "it is that pervasive Irishman who
was down in North Carolina, Dermott McDermott!"

Josef, pale as a statue, had taken a place in the shadow of the box,
back from the reach of opera-glasses. His hands trembled, and at times
his lips twitched backward, as one who has lost control through too long
a strain.

"Do look out for him," Katrine had said to Dermott, the night before,
between tears and a smile. "I can get through it all right, but I am
fearful it may kill Josef. He takes me very seriously, you know."

A heavy knocking came. The leader took his place. The overture began,
and when the curtain rose Campanali received the genuine ovation which
was his due. At the conclusion of that great duet, "Be Mine the
Delight," there was the vision of Marguerite at the spinning-wheel, and,
after three years, Francis Ravenel saw Katrine, but in a blurred vision
with fold upon fold of gauze between them. Finally the soldiers and
maidens disappeared, and there came an expectant hush. One heard _now_!
The pause was marked, intentional, before there came toward the
footlights, in their most relentless glare, a girl with gladness and joy
in her very walk. Neither a heavy German peasant girl nor a French
soubrette. No dreary, timid, _mädchen_, but a glad young soul conscious
of nothing save joy, with the beauty in her face of youth and power as
she looked at the gay throng of the fair. Then, with the gaze of the
entire house upon her, her eyes encountered those of Faust. There was no
start of surprise, but, as though drawn to him by a law beyond control,
her eyes rested in his, and with no gesture, without a note sung, with
nothing but a change in expression, one understood great love had come
to her, the first love of a woman, which is never lived over nor
forgotten.

And Francis Ravenel, sitting back of the others in the box, recalled
that look and drew behind the curtains. In memory, soft arms were round
his throat as a voice, the same, yet not the same, sang:

    "No signor, not a lady am I,
    Nor yet a beauty,
    And do not need an arm
    To guide me on my way."

A golden voice, with tones so breathed they had the liquidness of the
bluebird's call, as Paris held its breath before the beauty and wonder
of it; a voice which Frank remembered amid the pine and honeysuckle
underneath the night blue of the Carolinas, saying:

"God keep you always just as you are, beloved."

       *       *       *       *       *

From the first scene to the clear end, when, in the divine trio,
Campanali, Rigard, and Katrine caught fire from each other and went mad
together, in that great, strong music where right triumphs, as the song
climbs higher and higher in its great insistence, it was such triumph as
no first performance had been in the memory of our generation, a success
that admitted no cavilling or question, a success indisputable and
unparalleled, and before the performance was ended the papers were
chronicling, for the ends of the earth, that a world star had arisen in
the firmament of song.

McDermott's face was an open book for all who cared to read. The one
woman on earth for him was triumphing, and his thoughts were all for
her, and Master Josef saw and noted even in his excitement and
trembling.

Frank, too, gloried in Katrine's success, but underneath the pleasure
there was a senseless jealousy, a resentment of the position in which it
placed her to him. And the conduct of Dermott McDermott during the
evening was another bitter morsel for his palate; for the Irishman
carried an air of ownership of everything, even of Josef; gave an
appraising and managerial attention to the audience; and bowed to
Katrine, when she smiled at him over a huge bunch of green orchids with
an Irish flag in the ribbons, with such an air of proprietorship that it
made the time scarcely endurable to Frank. But he played the game by a
masterly method, and drew nearer to Anne, looking into her eyes with the
devotion which he knew so well how to assume, despising himself as he
did so. But after the last _brava_ had been given and he had put his
mother into the brougham, saying, abruptly, that he preferred to walk,
his heart and head came to an unexpected encounter. He stood alone,
unnoting the passers-by, oblivious of the superfluous praise of
Katrine's voice which he heard in the broken talk, looking into the
distant sky at the two great towers of Notre Dame.

It was not far to the De Nemours' house. Although very late, it would
doubtless be filled with friends congratulating Katrine, and under the
circumstances, he reasoned, there could seem no precipitancy in calling
immediately to offer congratulations.

He found the house a blaze of light, with servants going back and forth
with arms full of flowers. In front there were many carriages and
fiacres. By the entrance arch were several newspaper men, one of whom
spoke Frank's name as he passed. Everywhere there was an air of bustle
and disorder. On the second floor he saw lights being carried from one
room to another, as though hurried preparations were being made.

Giving his card to the French servant, who had ushered him with an
important and excited manner into a small reception-room, he waited. His
heart throbbed like a school-boy's with his first love. In a minute he
would see her, would hold her hand. In his pocket he carried a letter,
one of Katrine's many letters, to "The Dear Unknown."

"I have not forgotten this old love," she had written, "I shall never
forget. I never close my eyes without thinking of him nor without a
prayer for him upon my lips."

Suddenly there came a laugh, a jolly, musical sound of real mirth, and
he heard Dermott's voice dominating and directing on the upper floor.
Immediately after there came a silence, and then, from the turn in the
stairs, he heard the same voice, with a touch of insolence, speaking to
the servant to whom he had given the card:

"Say to Mr. Ravenel that Mademoiselle Dulany regrets that it is
impossible for her to see him." And then, with a dramatic note, "Tell
him," the Irishman added, "she leaves within an hour to sing before the
Queen."



XXII

FRANK AND KATRINE MEET AT THE VAN RENSSELAER'S


In the three months which followed Katrine's great success, Frank heard
of her constantly, always with a curious self-belittling and a reviewing
of his own conduct, fine in its self-depreciation. He had betrayed the
great unspoken trust of the finest human being he had ever known, and
afterward dallied, for fear of rebuff to his vanity, from squaring the
account as well as he could by giving her a chance to refuse him openly.
He felt that he could never again be to her what he had been. Three
years of such work as she had done would change her ideals much.

He reflected, too, upon the changes in himself, one of the greatest
being his recognition of the sound virtues of Dermott McDermott. There
had been times when circumvention by this son of Erin had been so
masterly, so deft, so unexpected that Frank had felt like extending a
congratulating hand. Once he had actually laughed aloud, at a board
meeting, over an election which McDermott had dictated. But these things
assumed a new importance when he thought of Dermott's love for Katrine,
for the queer Celtic genius was singularly unattuned to failure in
anything, and never, in any matter save that of the railroad, could
Frank claim a complete victory. And those who believed the railroad
issue still unsettled were not wanting.

Soon after the Paris visit, Frank heard, through Anne Lennox, of the
death of Madame de Nemours. The letter reiterated, as well, that Katrine
had sung to England's good old Queen. Before this confirmation Frank had
doubted this statement as one of the outputs of Dermott's oriental
imagination.

In August, having had no letter from Katrine or his mother for over a
month, he accepted Nick van Rensselaer's invitation to Waring-on-the-Sea,
with no knowledge whatever as to the other members of the party. As he
was driven up the carriageway, under great New England pines, and saw
the shining sea and the far-off Magnolia hills, he thought, for the
first time, of other guests who would probably be there, and recalled
with annoyance how one meets the same people everywhere. After he had
dressed for dinner, he stood looking from the balcony of his room into
the twilight thinking of Katrine, and wondering why her monthly letter
had not arrived.

At the foot of the stairs he encountered Sally Porter, whom he had not
met since she had been his mother's guest at Ravenel, three years
before.

"Why, Frank Ravenel!" she cried, at sight of him. "I thought you were
in--where did we hear he was, mother?"

"Several places, my dear," her mother responded, placidly.

"Java, Japan, or Jupiter," Nick van Rensselaer broke in, coming forward
with outstretched hand. "How are you, old man!"

As Frank returned the grip he looked over Nick's shoulder to a merry
group which stood near the entrance to the music-room, and his amazed
eyes rested upon Katrine Dulany. A new Katrine, yet still the old. She
wore white lace. Her black hair was parted and rippled over the ears
into a low coil. There was even more the look of an August peach to her
than he remembered: dusky pink with decided yellow in the curve of her
chin, as he had once laughingly asserted. But the softness and uplifted
expression of the misty blue eyes were the same, and added to all was
the repose of manner which comes only from the consciousness of power or
of sorrows lived beyond.

For a moment he seemed unable to make any effort to go to her, and then
came to him an intense consciousness of himself, of her, and their
mutual past. As their eyes met, however, he discovered that whatever
embarrassment existed was his own, for Katrine saw him, seemed to make
sure that her eyes did not deceive her, and with a glad smile stretched
both hands toward him.

"Why, it's Mr. Ravenel!" she cried.

Her eyes rested in his as she spoke. "It has been three, oh, so many
years, since we have met," she began, with a smile.

"Don't," he answered, holding her hands. "It was only yesterday."

"Three yesterdays," she said, with the old "make-believe" look in her
eyes. "Half a week. Somehow it seems longer, doesn't it?"

"I was sorry to miss seeing you in Paris last May," Frank said. "I
wanted so much to congratulate you; but congratulations would have been
an old story even at that time."

"Everything was in such a ferment the night you called," she explained.
"Josef was quite beside himself, and I was rushing off somewhere, I
remember, and I didn't get the card until afterward," again the
perfectly frank, sweet look, "but I recall that it gave me pleasure to
know you came."

At dinner Francis found, with some annoyance, that he was placed between
Mrs. Dysart and Miss Porter, at the remote end of the table from
Katrine, whom he could see at Nick van Rensselaer's right, showing her
dimples and the flash of white teeth and scarlet lips as she told some
story of her own.

He noted how easily she was first, so sure of herself and her power, but
with a marked deference to the women as well as to the men who courted
her attention so openly. "Such considered conduct!" he commented to
himself, approvingly.

No chance came to him to talk to Katrine again that night, but,
analytical as he was of woman, he could discern no smallest sign that it
was by any design of hers, nor that she noted his presence more than
that of another. She neither avoided nor sought his glance, and it was
not until midnight that he had even a word alone with her.

"I am going to sing," she said, turning with a pretty smile toward a
group in which he was standing.

In a minute he came forward and led her to the piano. "The Serenade," he
said.

Her eyes gleamed through the long lashes as she looked away from him.

"Ah," she answered, "I seem to have outgrown it!"



XXIII

AN INTERRUPTED CONFESSION


On the fourth day, because of a nasty twist at polo, the doctor ordered
Frank to rest. Coaching and golf had left the house deserted as he lay
on the couch in the second hall, thinking of Katrine's masterly deftness
in avoiding him.

"I have never known another woman who could have done it so well," he
thought. "She seems to have neither resentment nor remembrance. It is as
though the whole affair had never been. I wonder--"

The noise of a door opening at the far end of the corridor disturbed his
reflections, and as though walking into his thought, Katrine came down
the hall.

She wore a house-gown of pale blue, low in the neck, with long, flowing
sleeves. Under her arm she carried a music-score in regular school-girl
fashion, and she was humming to herself as she came.

Frank lay perfectly still; his eyes closed as she approached him.

"I am not going to bid you a good-morning, seeing that I am obliged by
doctor's orders to do it in this position. It doesn't seem respectful,"
he explained.

The surprise, the dimples, the gay, low laugh seemed such a part of her
as she paused beside his couch.

"You are ill?" she asked. "Or," with a twinkle of the wide eyes, "didn't
you want to go on the coaching-party?"

"I took a fall at polo yesterday. I was not at dinner last night. I am
flattered at the way you have dwelt upon my absence."

"I dined at the Crosbys' or I might have spent a sleepless night
concerning it. There were a great many people there. Your friend,
Dermott McDermott, for one. He is coming here to-day." Her face was
illumined by the spirit of teasing as she spoke. "Only," she went on,
with a sweet and instant sympathy, "I am hoping you are not badly hurt
or suffering."

"There is nothing, absolutely nothing, the matter, except the doctor. He
is all broken up over the accident, and says I must lie here or
somewhere for two or three days to cure a wrench in my back which I
didn't have."

Katrine laughed as she turned to go.

"I was intending to study some," she said, looking down at her music.
"Will it annoy you?"

A quick, amused smile came to his face at the question, and he looked up
with eyes full of laughter as he answered:

"Certainly, I am naturally unappreciative of music."

"I didn't mean that," Katrine explained, smiling back at him as she went
along the corridor.

"Miss Dulany!" he called.

She turned toward him, her face waiting and expectant.

"As the German girl said in _Rudder Grange_, 'It is very loneful here.'"

"You mean," she asked, "that you would like to have me stay with you?"

"Nobody on earth could have stated my wish more accurately," he
answered, in a merry, impersonal tone, as though addressing some
imaginary third person.

She came back to him, drawing a low wicker chair near the couch and
putting her music on the floor beside her. "I shall be glad to stay if
you want me to. Shall we talk?" And here she took up the books he had
put beside him for amusement. "Balzac, Daudet." She made a little
disapproving gesture.

"You do not care for them?" he asked.

"They are not for me, those horrible realist folk. I like books where
things fall as they should rather than as they do; and the poetry where
beautiful things happen. Things as they aren't are what I care for in
literature."

He laughed. "We won't read," he said, "and _I_ sha'n't talk. You must.
All about yourself, the wonderful things that you have been living and
achieving. You will tell it all in just your own way, full of quick
pauses and sentences finished by funny little gestures."

This was dangerous walking, and he felt it on the instant.

But the Irish of the girl, the instinct to make a story, to entertain,
came at his demanding, bringing the old gleam back to her eyes.

"Ah!" she said, deprecatingly. "The tale of me! It would bore you, would
it not? It is just full of Josef and work and the Countess and Father
Menalis and a few great names, and then more work, with a little more
Josef," she added, with a smile. And then dropping into the warm,
sweet, intimate tones he remembered so well, she said, simply, "It was
hard, but glorious in a way, too," she added, after a moment's thinking,
"every morning to awaken with the thought of something most important to
do; work which one loves, lessons with this great, great soul who knows
why art is! The languages for one's art, the fencing for one's art, the
eating, breathing, dancing, thinking, living for one's art! With Josef's
eternal 'Think it over! Think it over!' and Paris with all of its
beautiful past! And there were lonesome days, too, when I felt I could
never do it, with sleepless nights of discouragements. Ah," she said,
the scarlet coming to her cheeks, "I have lived! It's a great thing to
say that, isn't it? But I have lived! One day, I remember, Josef was all
fussed up. It was a horror of a day, and he told me that maybe I would
never sing, that my temperament might not do, and I went home with
thoughts of suicide and didn't go back to him for nearly a week. Then he
sent for me. 'Where have you been?' he demanded, fiercely. 'I am going
to give it all up,' I answered. And he took me by the shoulders. 'My
God!' he cried, 'with a genius like yours, _could_ you give it up?' 'But
you said the last time I was here--' I began. 'Bah!' he interrupted,
putting his hand on my shoulder, 'you can't believe a word I say. I am a
great liar.' And we both cried a little, although, even then, he kept
telling me how bad crying was for the voice, and we did some Pagliacci
together, just as if nothing had happened."

"It must have been a wonderful life," Francis said, a great appreciation
in his voice.

"It was; I miss it here--some, although people are so kind. And you?"
she demanded. "Tell me about yourself."

"There is nothing to tell. Things are just the same with me. I suppose
they will never be much different."

"Mrs. Lennox told me last winter that you were doing quite wonderful
things in business."

He smiled, but made no explanation. "Are your engagements arranged as
yet, Katrine?" he asked.

"It is probable that I shall sing in St. Petersburg first. It is what I
want most if I sing in public next winter at all."

There was a pause.

"You have not changed so much as I had thought," he said, at length.

"More than I show, I am afraid," she answered.

"Oh," he returned, "even I can discern some changes. You are more, if I
wanted to be subtly flattering, I should say, you are more beautiful,
more of the world in appearance, and I know what the Countess meant when
she said you were becoming 'epic, grand, and homicidal,' or something
like that."

"How horrible!" she laughed.

"Not at all, only not as I remembered you." He spoke the words slowly,
against his will and his judgment, and in defiance of taste or conduct,
looking up as he did so into eyes which from their first glance, over
three years before in the woods in North Carolina, had been able to stir
him as no other eyes had ever done. And it seemed to him as though in
that look all conventions were dropped between them. "You were kind to
me then, Katrine."

She looked at him steadily, as a child might have done, with no
shrinking in her glance, with neither anger nor shame. "And you?" she
asked, wistfully. "Were you very kind to me?"

"I was not. God!" he said, "if you could only know how I have suffered
for the way I acted! To feel such shame as I have felt! Oh," he cried,
"nobody on earth could make me talk this way but you! There was always
between us a curious understanding, wasn't there, Katrine, even apart
from the other?" He finished vaguely.

"I knew you would suffer. I was sorry for that," she answered, gravely.

"Were you, truly? Were you big enough for that?"

"Well," and the sad smile with which the Irish so often speak of
personal grief came to her lips, "you see, I loved you. And when one
loves one wishes for happiness for the one beloved, does one not? Yes,"
she said, "I was honestly sorry to think that you would have even a
regret. I would have taken all the sorrow if I could."

"You loved me then?" His head was gone. He remembered only the sweetness
of her presence and the nearness of her. "You did love me then,
Katrine?"

She rose suddenly as though to leave him.

"Don't go," he said, reaching his hand toward her with pleading in his
tone.

She reseated herself, her face exquisitely pale. "Ah," she said, "you
know I loved you! I was so young, and it was all so terrible to me!
Please God, you may never suffer as I did! I have lain awake night after
night praying to die, or waking with dread at the knowledge that as soon
as consciousness came the horrible pain would return with it, and there
came the resentment to the great God for my birth, as though that could
make any real difference. But it was good for me. The very best thing in
all the world. Nothing else could ever have taught me as it did."

"Katrine!" he cried, and, the doctor's orders forgotten, he sat up and
leaned toward her "believe me, I have waited all these years to see you,
to talk with you! But unless two people are entirely honest, I knew the
thing would be impossible. I thought you would forgive me, would
understand as you grew older!"

"I understood then," she interrupted. "My whole life had trained me to
understand. I was not in the least critical of you. I am not now. You
followed your birth and your training. You had been taught no
self-control. Women had spoiled you. You had never had to consider
others. I want to be perfectly frank with you about it all. I never
deceived you in word, tone, or look. I shall not begin now. You were my
ideal man in everything. You know," she paused, an amused smile upon her
lips and her lids lowered, "you know I thought Henry of Agincourt, Wolfe
Tone, and Robert Bruce must have been like you, and I was grateful to
the good God for letting me live in your time and country."

She ceased speaking, and her eyes rested upon the far-away sea with the
remembering tenderness a woman might give to an old plaything of
childhood before she continued:

"It was from Josef, of course, that I had most help, always belittling
this affair, always trying to make me forget in work. I was too tired at
night to grieve; I had to sleep. 'Women,' he said, 'coddle their griefs!
They revel in hopeless passion! They nurse it! Remember,' he said,
'there are two ways to forget: weeping and making swings.' Well," she
finished, "he taught me to make swings."

"And you have forgotten?" Francis asked, standing beside her, magnetic,
compelling, taken out of himself.

Memories were drawing them together. Remembered kisses, words, spoken
lips to lips, and that elemental sweet attraction of man for woman,
which should be ranked with the other great elemental things like fire,
water, earth, and air. Katrine rose also, and they stood looking into
each other's eyes.

"No," she answered, quite steadily, "I have not forgotten. I never shall
forget. I would give my life to feel that you are the man I once
believed you to be, the man I believe you could have been."

"Will you be frank with me, Katrine?" he demanded.

"Have I ever been anything else?" she questioned, in return.

"You have avoided me since you came."

"Yes, only I hope not noticeably."

"No, it was well done, but why?"

"Can you ask?"

"I do ask."

"I did not want ever to see you again nor to talk to you as we are
talking now."

"Answer me, Katrine!" he cried, bending toward her. "Answer me! Why did
you never want to see me again?"

There still was the look in her eyes of sweetest frankness as she
answered: "There were many reasons before I saw you that first night why
I should never wish to see you again. But after that there was only
one--one--one that filled my mind. I am afraid."

"Afraid!" he repeated, with the man's look of the chase in his eye,
"afraid of what, Katrine?"

She had moved by the fireplace, and with a hand on the chimney-shelf
turned her eyes to meet his own, with the clear, unafraid look in them
of the olden times.

"When I first saw you here, the night I sang, I became afraid you were a
man whom I had simply overestimated in the past because of my youth. I
have avoided you ever since for fear I should find it to be true. I am
afraid you are a man who is simply 'not worth while.'" The words were
spoken softly, even with a certain odd tenderness, but they struck
Francis Ravenel like a blow in the face, and he set his lips, as a man
does in physical suffering.

"I think it is just," he said, at length. "I think that describes me as
I am: a man who is not worth while. Only, you see, Katrine, I was not
prepared to hear the truth from you." He grew white as he spoke. "In all
of your letters you spoke so divinely of that old-time love."

For an instant she regarded him with startled attention, her eyebrows
drawn together, both hands brought suddenly to her throat.

"My letters," she repeated, "my letters!" And then, her quick intuition
having told her all, "How could you do it? Oh, how could you do it?" she
cried, the tears in her eyes and the quick sobs choking her speech. "It
was you who sent me abroad to study! It is you to whom I am indebted
for all: Josef, the Countess, my voice! Ah, you let a girl write her
heart out to you, to flatter your--Oh, forgive me!" choking with the
sobs which had become continuous, "forgive me!" she cried, as she laid
her head on her arms by the corner of the chimney. "Forgive me!" she
repeated. "I said once (you will remember, I wrote it, too) that I would
try never to criticise you by word or thought. I want to be true to
that, even _now_. Only," she said, pressing her hand over her heart, "I
hurt so! The pain makes me say things I would rather not say. Oh, I
wonder if another man in all the world ever hurt a woman's pride as you
have hurt mine!"

"Katrine," Frank said, "God knows I never intended to tell you! There
was always the thought in my mind that you should never know, but you
hurt me so, I forgot. Oh, Katrine, forgive me!"

"I _am_ grateful," she interrupted, in her hurried, generous way,
"grateful for the kind thought for me; but I am angry, too, so angry
that I don't dare trust myself," she smiled through her tears, the
funny, heart-breaking smile. She gathered up her music. "Good-bye," she
said, "I shall try to go away in the morning." And with no offer of
handshaking she passed him, and he heard her softly close and lock the
door of her sitting-room.

He knew she would keep her word, knew that the morning would take her
from him, and the pain of hurt pride and wounded love goading him on, he
covered the distance to the bolted door.

"Katrine!" he called.

Within he heard the noise of sobbing, of quick breaths choked with pain.

"Katrine Dulany!" he repeated, with tenderness.

"Yes!" she answered from within.

"I want to speak to you."

There was no response.

"I must speak to you, Katrine."

He waited, fearing her new contempt, until the silence became
unendurable.

"Katrine," he said, "you will either come out or I will come in."

There was another silence before there came, at the end of the lower
corridor, a great commotion of quick orders given and executed, of
luggage being placed, and through it all a low singing as of one much at
home. It would be an awkward situation, he thought, for the servants to
find him clamoring at Miss Dulany's door, and as he moved toward the
window the singing grew nearer, breaking into a loud voice at the top of
the steps,

    "War dogs tattered and gray,
      Gnawing a naked bone,
    Fighting in every clime
      Every cause but our own,"

and Dermott the jaunty, the extremely elegant, in black riding-clothes,
with the jewelled crop of North Carolina days, stood in the afternoon
sunlight at the head of the great stairs.

"Ah, Ravenel," he cried, "I have been staying at the Crosbys', and heard
but last night from Miss Dulany that you were here! I accepted the
invitation Van Rensselaer hadn't yet given me to ride over and stay
awhile. I am," and here he had the superb impudence to adjust an
eyeglass for a complete survey of Frank, "I am interested in your doings
just now, Ravenel, very much interested," he repeated, with a smile.



XXIV

"I WILL TAKE CARE OF YOU"


After a brief exchange of incivilities with Dermott, Frank went to his
own room with a flushed cheek, a kindling eye, and something like a song
of victory singing low and strong in his heart. It was a strange mood to
follow such an interview, for there was scarcely a sentence of his
during the talk with Katrine of which he was not ashamed. The lack of
taste, of delicacy, the rawness of his conduct came back to him,
producing a singular sense of elation; for by them he realized that his
love was a thing stronger than himself; a thing which carried him along
with it; buffeted him, did with him as it would, while considered
conduct and the well-turned phrase stood pushed aside to watch the
torrent as it passed.

There had been times when he feared that his ancestry of inherited
self-indulgence had left him without the ability to desire anything
continuously or over-masteringly, feared that he was over-raced, with
no grasp nor feeling for the jugular vein of events. These had been
unworded doubts of his concerning himself in the three years past. But
after the talk with Katrine he knew himself capable of great love, of
love which was stronger than himself, and the new manhood in him gloried
in the surrender.

He dressed early, hoping to have a word with Katrine before the other
guests came down, but she was the last to enter the drawing-room before
dinner was announced. Standing by the doorway, he saw her coming along
the wide hall alone. She wore black, unqualified black, low and
sleeveless. Her hair, which seemed blacker than the gown, was worn high,
not in the loose curls he knew so well, but in some statelier manner,
with an old jewelled comb placed like a coronet, and she held herself
more aloof from him than ever before, her eyes avoiding his glance and
her cheeks exquisitely flushed.

But at sight of Dermott her bearing changed, and Frank saw with jealousy
that she went quickly toward the Irishman, holding out both hands and
saying, "Dermott," in a voice which seemed to have a sob in it as well
as a claim for protection.

During dinner Ireland was easily triumphant, for while Katrine sat at
Nicholas van Rensselaer's right, Dermott had been placed on her other
side, and Frank, sitting by deaf old Mrs. van Rensselaer, had abundant
time to mark McDermott's gift for society. "One might think him the
host," Ravenel thought, critically, noting that the laugh, the jokes,
the gallantries were ever in the Irishman's vicinity, and the head of
the table was easily where the McDermott sat.

When the ladies were leaving, Dermott took the situation in both hands,
as it were, by rising with them and turning a laughing face to the men,
who were calling his name.

"I'm going to join the ladies now, if they will have me!" he cried. "I
have less of their society than I like, belonging, as I do, to the
working-classes. And besides," he waved a hand, white and beautifully
slender, toward them, "I know you all, unfortunately well, as it is!"

A chorus of friendly insults were thrown after him, but he dropped the
curtain with no further word, and an hour later Frank encountered him
walking slowly up and down the terrace in the moonlight with Katrine.

They were talking earnestly, McDermott urging something which Francis
was glad to see Katrine was far from yielding. Twice he saw her shake
her head with great firmness, and once, as they came near him, he heard
her say, "I will not, Dermott," and, knowing the girl as he did, Frank
felt that, whatever the matter, it was settled with finality.

Try as he surely did, he found it impossible to have a word alone with
her that evening, and the next morning he learned from the servants that
her luggage was to be taken to the station the following day at an early
hour.

She was not at luncheon, and Frank was meditating on the possibility of
leaving with her on the early train, when a note was brought to him by
her maid.

     Would you care to walk with me now? [it read] I should like to tell
     you something before I leave.

     KATRINE DULANY.

This was surely the unexpected, and he waited for her on the portico
with the feeling that there was some mistake, and that the maid might
reappear any minute to ask the missive back again.

But Katrine herself came around the corner from the greenhouses and
called to him from below. She wore a black walking-skirt, a black
leather jacket, and a three-cornered black hat, and Frank involuntarily
compared this very aristocratic-looking young person with the little
girl in the short-waisted frocks he had known, so many years ago, it
seemed, in North Carolina.

In silence they went down the driveway to the beach road, along the path
to the cliffs. There was a chill in the sea-wind, for the afternoon sun
gave only a rose-red glow, but little warmth, as they stood looking at
the crumpled reflections in the water. "It is almost sunset," Frank
began, abruptly, drawing nearer to her. "It might almost be a North
Carolina sunset, mightn't it? I don't know, Katrine, what you want of
me, but I want, for the sake of that summer full of sunsets which we
knew together, that you should let me tell my story and judge me--finest
woman--that--ever--lived--judge me after the telling as it may seem just
for you to do!"

There was a piteous quiver of her lips as her eyes looked bravely into
his as she nodded an acquiescence.

"When I left you, Katrine, like the coward I was, that dreadful morning,
so long ago, I wandered around like an Ishmaelite, more wretched than I
believed it possible for a human creature to be, longing for you,
always, day and night, waking with a convulsion of pain in the gray of
the morning, but still obstinately determined to marry none but some one
whom my forebears would have considered 'suitable.'" He smiled at the
word.

"When the news came of your father's death I was in the Canadian woods.
I started home immediately; I had no fixed plan, except to see you, to
help you in some way. In New York I had a telegram saying that my mother
was very ill at Bar Harbor. There was nothing to do but to go to her, of
course. It was before this that she had sent me Nick van Rensselaer's
letter, and the idea came to me from that, that I might be the one to do
something to make your life a bit happier. You may think it was
reparation for the suffering I had caused you, but it was not. I
_couldn't_ let you go out of my life. In this way, I reasoned, I could
keep in touch with you for years. When I stipulated that you were to
write once a fortnight, I had no idea the letters would be anything but
simple statements of your daily life. You see, I forgot," he smiled
again, the charming, whimsical smile that seemed so much a part of him,
"that you were Irish and could do nothing impersonally.

"Immediately after mother's illness came the matter of the railroad,
and"--he hesitated--"Dermott McDermott. You see, Katrine, you had
stirred something in my nature I never knew before-ambition! That was
part, but the desolation that followed your out-going made action
necessary. Well, the new railroad was to be constructed through the
plantation, and I worked with all the energy I could to forget. You see
what you did for me, Katrine! And at every turn, circumventing,
obstructing, legislating against me, urging me on by mental friction,
was Dermott McDermott. Am I tiring you?" he asked, tenderly.

"No," she answered. "I am glad to know how it all was. Over there in
Paris, when I was alone, I often wondered."

"The interest in my own railroad naturally led to interests in the two
adjoining ones, and always, always, Katrine, there were those letters of
yours urging me on by your divine belief in me. That you loved me,
thought of me, wished me well, prayed for me,--a man has to be worse
than I ever was to fail to be helped by that. And your loyalty, the very
selflessness of your love, your willingness to be hurt if it would help
me--Katrine," he interrupted himself, "there were other women in my
life, but, one by one, I measured them up to the standard of you, and
they became nothing. I remember once, at the club, they brought me two
letters, one from you and one from another woman. It was the one in
which you wrote, _'I have not forgotten, I do not wish to forget. I want
to make of myself so great a woman that some day he may say, with pride,
"Once that woman loved me."'_ I disliked to know that your white letter
had even touched the other one, and that night the man I hope to make of
myself was born. If there be any achievement in my life that is worth
while, if I ever count for anything in the world's work, it is you who
have done it, you and the letters which you blame me so much for
permitting you to write."

She turned toward him, her face flushed and divinely illumined, anger
forgotten. "You mean it?" she said.

"As God hears, it is the truth."

"Then," she paused, "I am happier than I thought it possible I should
ever be in this life!"

"And you forgive me?"

"There is nothing to forgive."

"That gives me courage to go on," he said. "Do you remember," he put his
hand over hers as he spoke, and they both went back in thought to the
time he had laid his hand over hers on the fallen tree, the night of
their first meeting, "do you remember, Katrine, that when an alliance is
to be arranged for a great queen, it is she who must indicate her choice
and her willingness. You have become that, Katrine, a great queen! I'm
asking, with more humility in my heart than you can ever know, that you
choose--me!"

As she looked at him, her eyes were incredulous. "Don't let us talk of
such a thing," she said, abruptly, turning her small hand upward to meet
his in a friendly clasp.

"But, Katrine, it is the only thing in the world I care to talk about.
Oh," he said, "I know how hard it is for you, that you are going to make
it hard for me, that you are not going to believe me, nor in me. But,
whether you believe it or not, it is the white truth I tell you, that
ever since the first night I saw you I loved you, and wanted you for my
wife."

She sat on the brown rocks, her knees clasped in her slender arms,
looking through the sea-mist at the sun going down behind the Magnolia
Hills.

"Don't let us talk of it," she said, decisively; "the thing is utterly
impossible. Tell me about yourself instead: the new railroad; the work;
and Dermott McDermott." He turned, looking up at her curiously before
answering.

"The last four years of my life have contained something overmuch of
Dermott McDermott--" And then, the animosity gone from him, "Katrine,"
he cried, "in Heaven's name, what did I ever do to him? He seems to
spend his time trying to circumvent my plans. He hates me so that it
seems"--he waited for an appropriate word--"funny," he ended, with a
laugh. "I have sometimes thought he was in love with you. Is he in love
with you, Katrine?"

"Tell me about the railroad," she said, taking no note whatever of his
question. "I have heard many things of it."

"Well," he began, "there were many things to hear. One by one the men
who had pledged themselves 'went back on me,' as the Street phrase is,
which brought out all the obstinacy in me. I built it myself. It's a
success, and it's lucky," he ended, "for if it weren't I don't know
where I should have ended in a money way. I was desolate and, as you
told me cheerfully in one of the letters to the Great Unknown, 'full of
ignorances and narrow-mindedness.' There was never anything better came
to me, save one, than the work. I think it has made me better. I hope
so."

"It's queer, queer, queer, this little world, isn't it?" she demanded,
abruptly.

"It is, indeed."

"Here are we, together again, after many years, talking about ourselves,
just as we did in those other days."

The old Katrine was beside him, with the pleading, explaining, dependent
note in her voice, the same rapid, short sentences, the same shy look
which was ever hers when doing a kindness. "I must tell you the reason I
wrote the note. Last night I was very angry at you. I forgot Josef, who
showed me that anger is for fools only. Then Dermott came, and while we
were walking on the terrace I told him everything: that I owed you
money; that I wanted it paid at once. He is Madame de Nemours' executor.
She left me--not a great fortune, you know, but more than enough to
repay your loan to me. So much is simple. But there is more." She
hesitated before slipping her small, bare hand in his again. "Dermott
thinks he knows something which will cause you much sorrow and trouble.
He is not certain. He is waiting letters from France. And I wanted to
tell you that it will rest almost entirely with me to say what shall be
done about this bad news which may arrive. And I want you, when trouble
comes, to remember that once I said I would come from the end of the
earth to serve you--Well," she said, the look of unreckoning, honest,
_boyish_ loyalty in her eyes, "I will keep my word. You must not worry;
I will take care of you." It was like a mother's promise to protect a
child, and, save for the sweet confidence in her own powers, Frank, not
understanding, could have laughed aloud. "I want you to think of this
to-night, when Dermott talks to you--will you?--and to remember that the
matter is far from proven. Madame de Nemours herself did not believe
it."

"Katrine," he cried, impressed by her serious face and tone, "what is
this mysterious trouble that is coming to me? Can't _you_ tell me?"

"I have thought of that, but I believe that you would be happier in the
future to know that we had never discussed it together. I know _I_
should. It's all so foolish," she ended.

"You are really going to-morrow, Katrine?" he asked.

"Yes."

"Why?"

"It is better."

"For you?"

"For both of us."

"Ah, Katrine, why? You are a great enough woman to forgive. Can't you do
it? You have done so much already."

"I am afraid," she answered. "I suffered too much. It was too horrible.
Only," and she touched his shoulder gently, "you are not to think that I
don't care for you. It mayn't be in just the way that I used to do; but
nobody else could ever be to me what you have been. I don't believe a
woman, a real woman, ever loves twice in her life, do you?" She asked
the question with the manner distinctively her own, of comradeship, of
wanting to touch souls even on this question most vital to them both.

"I hope it's true of you, Katrine."

The gray sea broke in white lines on the shore beneath them; the gulls
uttered shrill, clattering cries above their heads, before Katrine rose.

"We must be going--on!" she said, looking seaward, her hands clasped in
front of her, her face saddened and white.

"But, Katrine," he cried, "look at me, Katrine! Nothing has been settled
between us. I have asked you to marry me. You say you will not. You
tell me you still care some little for me. It's a foolish situation. I
was a cad, an ignorant and colossally selfish cad, but I am humbled and
oh, I want you so!"

There was nothing but kindness and affection in her face as she stood
with appealing eyes looking up at him.

"Do you want me to tell you what I believe to be the truth?"

"Yes; but, Katrine, don't make it hurt too much," he said.

"I think," she spoke the words softly, "if I had gone out of your life,
had had no voice, had not succeeded, if the world had not spoken my name
to you, you would have forgotten me in a year. I believe it is not
Katrine Dulany, the daughter of your Irish overseer, whom you love, but
La Dulany, who happens to have a gift, the adopted daughter of the
Countess de Nemours, the woman whom you have heard the Duc de Launay
wishes to marry!"

"Oh, Katrine!"

"I don't want to hurt you! indeed, _indeed_ I don't," she repeated. "I
wanted you to know exactly what I think. Ah," she cried, "be fair! Do
you blame me?"

"No," he answered. "I blame you for nothing; but it is not true! I love
the soul of you, Katrine. And there has been between us love, love
stronger than ourselves or our foolish prejudices. I believe that
neither of us can forget, that something stronger than your will or mine
draws us together. I will not accept your refusal. And you will not
forget me! I mean to see to it that you shall not."

They returned to the house, through the incoming sea fog, in silence. At
the foot of the side-stair they shook hands and said "good-bye" softly.

He had not expected to see her again in the evening. But here he failed
to understand that the excitement under which she was laboring made
either solitude or inaction unendurable. She was among the first to come
down to dinner, and never, he reviewed the entire past before he came to
the conclusion, had he seen her more beautiful. She wore pink, modish in
the extreme, with many jewels--he recalled that he had never before seen
her wear jewels--and she seemed in sky-scraping spirits, her eyes alight
with fire and vivacity; and at the table he could hear the droll tones
of her voice before the laughter came; and altogether she went far
toward driving him daft by an apparent gayety at parting with him
forever.

Immediately after the ladies left the table Dermott touched Frank
lightly on the arm. "Could I have a few words with you in the gun-room?"
he asked. "It's the place where we shall be the least likely to be
interrupted."

Ravenel followed him, after a nod of acquiescence, and stood on one side
of a great chimney, which was filled with glowing logs, waiting for the
Irishman to speak. He was entirely unprepared, however, for the
consideration, even the impersonal kindness in Dermott's voice as he
said, "I'm afraid I'm letting you in for a pretty bad time, Ravenel."

Frank bowed. Even McDermott was forced to admire his serene manner.

"Miss Dulany told me last night of her obligation to you."

Frank waited with no change of expression for Dermott to proceed.

"She said she desired her money obligation to be paid immediately."

"It is an affair of small moment," Frank answered.

"You know, perhaps, that my cousin, Madame de Nemours, left her property
to Miss Dulany?"

"I heard of it at the time," Frank returned.

"And named me as executor," Dermott explained.

"A fact which escaped me," Ravenel answered, suavely.

"It has taken some time to settle the estate," Dermott continued,
"because of a certain claim which, if proven, makes the estate a very
valuable one. This claim nearly concerns you."

"Go on," Frank said, briefly, discourteously as well.

"I do not know," Dermott continued, "whether you are aware or not that
your father made an earlier marriage than the one with your mother."

An ominous chill passed over Frank, though he answered, bravely, "I was
not."

"When he was living at Tours he married a girl, an Irish girl, who ran
away from a convent to become his wife. She was but sixteen at the time.
Her name was Patricia McDermott, my cousin, afterward the Countess de
Nemours."

Frank continued to listen, but, although his eyes held keen apprehension
and his face was white, he showed a fine courage.

"My uncle, her father, was an ardent Roman Catholic," Dermott explained,
"a gloomy, overfed, and melancholy man who never forgave his daughter.
In a short time your father seemed to have"--Dermott coughed--"tired of
the affair," he explained, lightly, "and, his studies being finished, he
left his wife and child and returned to America. I do not desire to
dwell on the misery of my cousin and her child. She was cared for by
some poor folks; my uncle gave her a death-bed forgiveness; the child
died, and in process of time she married the Count de Nemours. After the
death of her second husband, she gave me full charge of her affairs, and
among her papers I found documents relating to this early marriage. The
year before your father's death I met him, quite by accident, in New
York. The name was familiar to me. I asked questions, found he was
married and had a son, yourself.

"Mr. Ravenel," Dermott changed his tone of recital to a more intimate
one, "to speak truth, the matter is inexplicable to me. Your father was
a brilliant man; a man of the world who, if he had no religious scruples
on the subject of bigamy, must have had respect for law. Why," Dermott
rose from the table by which he had been sitting, and stood directly
facing Frank--"why he should have made a second marriage, with a wife
and child living in France, is beyond explanation."

Frank drew back, his face colorless, his lips drawn, and, as the horrid
import of the news became clear, "Ah, God!" he whispered; and then, with
memory of his father uppermost, "It's a damned lie!" he cried.

"It may be," Dermott returned, calmly. "Most things are open to that
interpretation. I'm afraid, however, you will have difficulty in proving
it so. I have had the certificates of the marriage and of the birth of
the child for a long time, but international law requires much. I have
living witnesses. In Carolina, in looking up the matter," he spoke the
word vaguely, "I failed to find anything which would disprove the points
I have just placed before you. I was awaiting some letters from France
before explaining the case to you, when Katrine demanded that her debt
to you be paid immediately. There are many reasons why I do not wish to
pay that debt now, reasons which we, as men, can understand. She might
not comprehend them, and she certainly would not give the idea a straw's
weight if she did, having once made up her mind. Now I'm going to tell
her that I've paid her debt, Mr. Ravenel. It will comfort her. But with
the matter which I have revealed to you still a little unsettled, and
the markets in the state they are in, I cannot do my duty as executor
and fulfil her desires immediately. After all, it is a small amount, and
if my personal check--" He waited, and Ravenel spoke.

"Mr. McDermott, Miss Dulany's indebtedness to me is too slight to
consider. About this other terrible business, I shall search my father's
papers! It is necessary that I do everything I can to protect my
mother's name as well as my own."

"That's reason," Dermott agreed.

"As to Miss Dulany--"

Both men turned, for at the far end of the room Katrine stood, under the
swinging light of a Japanese lamp, regarding them.

She came rapidly toward them, her head a little forward, her cheeks
scarlet, and a gleam of temper in her eyes, which Frank had never seen,
but with which Dermott was not unfamiliar, and took a place between
them.

"See!" she cried, smiling, and there was never another woman in all the
world who had the appealing smile of Katrine Dulany. "Don't let us make
this all so dreadful. There is just some mistake," she said, with a
gesture of impatience; and from here she went on with a certain
terrifying ability, peculiarly her own, to come directly to a point.

"Oh," she said, with a gesture including them both, "you've done what I
asked you not to do, Dermott!" she said. "You've claimed a yet unproven
thing. I'm tired of the whole of it. It is better that we three should
understand one another altogether and not go talking by twos," and she
faced Dermott as she turned. "You may prove everything, and I'll never
believe a word of it! Give me Ravenel, and I'll return it to those to
whom it belongs. It's his," indicating Frank, "and his mother's, and
they shall keep it, no matter what you prove! As for me!" she laughed,
giving herself a shake as a bird does. "Hark!" she cried, raising one
finger. Softly, as a bird calls to the purpling east at dawn, she took a
note, listening intently, going up, up, up, till the tone, a mere thread
of gladness, reached high E, where it swelled, rounder and fuller, until
it seemed to fill all space, descending in a sparkling shower of
chromatics to lower G.

"Did you mark that?" she cried, in a defiant bit of appreciation of
herself. "What do I need with money? I can go out on the streets and
come back with hands full." And before they could answer she had
disappeared through one of the long windows of the piazza.

"And what do you think of that, now?" demanded Dermott of Frank, with a
touch of the brogue, as they stood together in some bewilderment,
looking after her.



XXV

KATRINE IN NEW YORK


The following morning, in a drizzling rain and wind from the east,
Dermott McDermott stood beside Katrine at the station, arranging for her
comfort, directing her maid, and wiring Nora in New York, lest she
should be unprepared for this hastily determined return to the city.

"I was sorry for Ravenel last night, Katrine," he said, with an earnest
sympathy in his tone. "I think I have never known a man who drew me to
him less; but that has nothing to do with the matter. I was sorry for
him," he repeated. "Isn't it a dreadful performance, this tragedy of
life?" he demanded, looking down at her intently, unmindful of noise of
luggage or the shrill voices of the passers to and fro. "But the thing
to do," he cried, straightening himself and raising his chest, "is to
show a brave front always! Never let the world know you're downed in
anything. So carry all off with a laugh and a song. Plant flowers on
the graves, flowers for the world to see, and for the great Power above
as well, that He may know we are not whining--that we're down here doing
the best we can."

They stood, hands clasped, on the platform as the train drew in, looking
into each other's eyes, and Katrine's lips trembled as she spoke the
word "good-bye."

"Sure it's not 'good-bye' at all," Dermott cried, changing his mood to
cheer her--"not 'good-bye' at all! I'll be in town in a day or two
bothering you with my visits and advice. And if anything definite turns
up about the Ravenel matter I'll write you. Do you know, Katrine, I felt
so sorry for him last night I'm almost hoping he can disprove
everything."

And Katrine found, as the train pulled out, that there was another who
had not been unmindful of her going, for Frank's man appeared from
nowhere, touched his hat with accented deference, gave her a letter in
silence, and disappeared into the blankness from which he came. But for
the envelope she held, Katrine might have believed him a vision that had
passed.

There was no formal beginning. The letter ran:

     I shall not see you again until I know the truth. You will
     understand the reasons. I am going to Ravenel to-day to make some
     investigations. Of the outcome of these I cannot speak.

     In all of this there is one thing sure. Everything may be changed
     in my life but my love for you.

     F.R.

It was still early in October when Katrine returned to New York and to
Nora, who was waiting for her in an old-fashioned apartment just off
Washington Square. The Irishwoman had driven a thrifty bargain for the
place, and in a well-contented spirit was setting up the household
goods.

There was a great porch at the rear of the rooms, with locust-trees in
the yard below, and Nora had already put flowers in pots about it, to
make a "nearly garden," she explained. Here, for over a month, Katrine
enjoyed the homemaking; the arranging of her Paris belongings; the
transformation of the shabby surroundings into a delightful spot of
restful color and peace.

The day after her arrival from the Van Rensselaer's, Nora announced,
with a twinkle in her eye, that there was a gentleman below whom she had
told to come right up, and Barney O'Grady entered before his mother had
ceased speaking.

Katrine greeted him with affectionate remembrance, smiling as she did
so at the change in this boy whom she had helped to New York. He was
flashily dressed, after the style of a college freshman, and conversed,
as she discovered, in a language known only to the New York newspaper
man, who, as some one told her later, has a "slanguage" all his own.

No one could have been more helpful than he, in their present situation,
however, and Katrine learned anew day by day the gratitude he cherished
toward her for the help given so long before.

Slender and tall, with red face and high cheek-bones, thin nose turned
upward, showing the inside of the nostril, and the lines like a
parenthesis mark on either side of the mouth, he scanned the world
alertly with his pale-blue eyes, scenting news like a human hunter-dog.

But he had many of the faults of his race, for with fine insight and
ability to forecast events, he fell short in the execution of his brave
schemes; failed to keep the respect of others after he had won it;
accepted insufficient proof on all subjects, relying dangerously on a
much-vaunted intuition, a fault in him which changed Katrine's whole
life. In a way, he had become a power in the newspaper world, and had,
as she discovered, a knowledge of the private affairs of prominent
people which seemed supernatural; and it was a habit of his to look over
the names in a newspaper, remarking cheerfully at intervals:

"There's another man that I could put in jail."

But there was an unworded matter which gave Katrine a kinder feeling
toward Barney than either her love for Nora or any past acquaintance
between them might have done, and this was his admiration for Frank
Ravenel.

If Barney had any knowledge, directly, through Nora, or indirectly
through his intuition, of the interwovenness of Katrine's life with
Ravenel's, he had the taste and the ability to conceal it.

But his literary temperament got the better of him where Katrine was
concerned, and before a week was past he set up a hopeless passion for
her, as she laughingly put it.

"He'd die for you, Miss Katrine," Nora explained one evening.

"Sure I don't doubt it for a minute, if there were enough people by to
see him do it," Katrine answered, with Irish comprehension.

With this over-informed person, her little French maid, whom Barney
called "Her Irresponsible Frenchiness," and Nora, Katrine spent a busy
month trying to forget her meeting with Frank entirely. In the daytime
she could do this, but at night she wondered much concerning him--if he
were back at Ravenel; if Dermott had proceeded in the bitter business
concerning the early marriage, with many plans for readjustments in case
he had done so.

Through Barney, who still clung to many of his North Carolina
associates, Katrine had news of Frank's return to Ravenel immediately
after the Van Rensselaer visit, and of a sudden journey to France
following close upon the heels of his return.

Early in November--it was the afternoon of the first snowfall--delayed
letters came from Josef containing the St. Petersburg contracts for her
signature. She was to have her première in May, and Josef wrote that he
would go up from Paris with her.

This arrangement was widely published at the time in London and Paris,
so that the claim afterward made that Katrine's Metropolitan engagement
was cancelled because of her divine forgetfulness the night she was to
sing for Melba can be proven utterly untrue.

In the mail containing the contracts came other letters, the most
important being one from Dermott, stating as an incident that her debt
to Frank had been cancelled, and as a matter of pronounced importance
that he was wearing a new green tie. He ended by saying that he would
give an account of his stewardship on January 1st, and that he hoped he
had done his duty to her and his dearly remembered cousin. He wrote no
word of Ravenel, neither of developments nor compromises, and Katrine
concluded not unnaturally that the matter had been allowed to rest.

But she reckoned without two important persons in this conclusion. The
first was McDermott, who, as he put it, "wasn't going to betray a trust
because a girl flouted him a bit"; and the second, Ravenel himself, who
was showing a fine honor and great courage in the quiet, unflagging
search he was making for the truth.

She saw McDermott but twice during this time, though he sent almost
daily messages or tokens of his remembrance. During his first visit he
mentioned, casually, however, the disturbed condition of Wall Street,
and that he was watching the money situation day and night with little
time for visiting.

His second coming was a fortnight later. In the afternoon Katrine had
been reading by the fire an old Italian tale of love and death. It
seemed hardly an epoch-making experience in her life, and yet there had
come to her, like the letting in of sudden light, the knowledge that
love was beyond and above reason, as religion is, as life itself, of
which love is the cause. She had worked to forget, had been taught how
to forget, yet she knew she had not forgotten, and that her listlessness
since her visit to Mrs. Van Rensselaer had been chiefly worry lest
trouble should come to Frank.

At five Nora brought in the tea-things, and Katrine closed the book over
which she had been dreaming.

"Nora," she began, for the Irishwoman was like a mother to her, "did you
ever forget your first love?"

"I did worse than that, I married him. Barney's the result," was the
answer.

"But you never could have married any one else but Dennis, could you?"
Katrine persisted.

"Niver!" the little old woman returned, with ready decision. "He bate
me, Miss Katrine, and misprized me, and came and wint as he listed, and
finally left me altogether; but I could never have chose another. It's
the way with Irishwomen, that! The drame of it niver comes but the
wance--niver but the wance," she repeated, looking into the fire, but
seeing the old sea-wall at Killybegs, with flowers on top of it, against
a cloudy sky, and a sailor boy with bold black eyes calling to her from
the boats.

And Katrine, her tea forgotten, repeated, "It's that way with
Irishwomen--the dream never comes but once."

At sunset the bitter wind which had been blowing all day long turned
into a gale, a rascal wind, which slapped a handful of sleet and ice,
hard as glass, on one side of your face, and scurried round the corner
to come back and strike harder from an entirely different direction.

The storm must have suited his mood in some way, for Dermott McDermott
chose to walk through it, arriving at Katrine's door breathless and
flushed, the fur of his coat gleaming with ice and snow. Here he found a
glowing fire, with the old mahogany settle on one side and the green
grandmother's chair on the other; the dull glow of old tapestry;
flowers; the odor of mignonette; and Katrine herself, in a scarlet gown,
delighted as a child at his coming. Perhaps it was the clatter and
roaring and discomfort without which accentuated the peace and happiness
within, and led him, more than he knew, to that precipitancy of conduct
which ended disastrously for him. As he sat in the great green chair
Katrine looked up at him from the settle, and something in the intensity
of his gaze made her make a quick gesture of warning to him before he
spoke.

"Will you marry me, Katrine?"

She looked again quickly, to see if he could be jesting. In North
Carolina it was his custom to ask her every day; but his sudden pallor
and the choked voice told how terribly he was in earnest.

She answered, with a note of despair in her voice, "I wish with all my
heart I could, Dermott."

"And why not?" he asked.

"It wouldn't be fair to you. There is some one else," she explained,
bravely, a great wave of coloring coming to her face at the confession.

"Whom ye will marry?" he asked.

She shook her head. "I think not. It seems as if I could almost say I
hope not."

"Dear," Dermott said, "I've loved you--always--ever since I've known
you. When you were just a wee bit girl in New York, six years ago, and
ye stood off the mob of boys who were baiting the old Jew--since then
I've taken every thought for you I could. And I'm asking you to believe
me when I tell you that I want your happiness more than my own. I've
felt always that you'll never succeed as a public singer, and here of
late, since I've known the St. Petersburg contracts were signed, I've
suffered in my thoughts of you. We'll just leave another suitor out of
the question. It's these public appearances of yours I dread at the
present. If stage life could be as it seems from the right side of the
footlights; if you knew nothing of the people or their lives, except as
Valentine or Siegfried, it would be different. But the meanness of it;
the little jealousies; the ignorant egotisms; I am afraid you can never
do it, you will despise it so."

He waited a little as though recalling stage life, in which he had taken
some active part, before he continued with a noble selfishness.

"And I dread this St. Petersburg experience! You, just a bit of a girl
alone, with nobody but an old Irishwoman and that Josef, who has a
rainbow in his soul but no common-sense in his head. So, whether you
care or not, I want you to know, to remember, if trouble comes, that
there's a man here in New York thinking always of you, _one who would
give his life to save you from pain_."



XXVI

DERMOTT MCDERMOTT

    "You who were ever alert to befriend a man,
    You who were ever the first to defend a man,
    You who had always the money to lend a man
    Down on his luck and hard up for a V.
    Sure you'll be playing a harp in beatitude
    (And a quare sight you will be in that attitude)
    Some day, where gratitude seems but a platitude,
    You'll find your latitude."


About Christmas-time the Metropolitan managers offered Katrine an
engagement for next season. In a lengthy interview with their extremely
courteous representative she explained her inability to accept the very
flattering terms by reason of the already signed St. Petersburg
contracts. Although there seemed no definite outcome from the interview,
the gentleman with whom it was held left her, as all did, charmed by her
sincerity, her enthusiasm, and her great generosity.

The following week Melba was indisposed, and the much-impressed
gentleman of the Metropolitan wrote to Katrine, asking if she would sing
for them in the great prima-donna's place.

She accepted the offer with small hesitation, asking no one's advice
about an unheralded début. She was too great an artist to desire
anything but stern criticism, and if she could sing greatly, she
reasoned, the public would be quick enough to discover it. The opera to
be given was "Faust." Her costumes were quite ready by reason of her
Paris début, and she went to the morning rehearsals with the same joy in
her work that she had known when studying with Josef.

About four of the afternoon, before the final rehearsal, it began to
snow persistently in small flakes which dropped evenly from a leaden
sky. Standing by the window, twisting the curtain-string unconsciously,
with her soul out in the storm, she became conscious of excited cries of
"Extra!" in the street below, and as though in accompaniment to them
there came an incessant ringing of the bell at the street door.

Nora being absent on some self-appointed business of her own, the maid
who had brought in the tea, and one of the very damp papers which the
boys were still crying below, left the room with some abruptness to see
what was demanded below and who was clamoring for admission.

Katrine, left alone, poured the tea herself, her eyes scanning the news
indifferently until they rested on some heavy black lines heading the
last column. Again and again she looked, hoping that the printing would
stay still, would stop seeming to dance up and down between the floor
and ceiling--stop long enough for her to get its dreadful import:

    =REPORTED ASSIGNMENT OF FRANCIS RAVENEL!=
           *       *       *       *       *
    =Combined Attack Made on M.S. and R. Railroad!=
           *       *       *       *       *
    =Mr. Ravenel Dangerously Ill at the Savoy!=
           *       *       *       *       *

Dangerously ill! Dangerously ill! Dangerously ill! The words began going
over and over in her brain, seeming to strike from within on her temples
in a kind of hammering that she felt would set her mad. She stood
helpless, her career, her work, her ambition gone from her in a divine
self-forgetting and desire to help, as his gayety, his charm, "his
difference" from all others came back to her. She made new excuses for
his conduct. She told herself, as a mother might speak of a child, that
he had been so spoiled. She remembered only the best of him--his
kindness to her father, his generosity to herself.

She had long since realized the weight of Frank's words the morning of
their parting.

"And remember, that if I did not do the best, I did not do the worst;
that I am going away when I might stay," and she knew, looking back on
her youth and trustfulness, how much truth there might have been in
those words. She clasped her hands to her head trying to think. The
throbbing in her head began to be followed by horrid sensations of
things around going far away to an immeasurable distance, and returning
again rapidly and horribly enlarged.

"Dangerously ill!" she repeated. "Dying, perhaps, alone in hotel rooms
with none but paid attendance."

Her throat became choked at thought of it. "Father in heaven," she
cried, her hands clasped together, "help me to help him! Don't let him
suffer!" she pleaded. "I promised to help him always. Help me to keep my
promise!"

       *       *       *       *       *

Outside, the controversy between the maid at the door and some other was
growing louder, and a demanding, forceful, insolent voice was insisting
upon seeing Katrine "immejit," as the frightened French girl came back
to the room in a panic of fear.

"A gentleman to see you, mademoiselle."

"I can see no one," Katrine answered, briefly, her face averted.

"He says his business is most important."

"Who is it, Marcelle?" she asked.

"It is Nora's son, mademoiselle, and he has been drinking; but if I were
you, I'd see him."

The significance of the girl's tone changed Katrine's former decision.

"Tell him to come in," she said.

Barney came as far as the doorway and stood leaning against the frame of
it, his eyes hot and angry, waving a newspaper wildly over his head.

"Of all the damned dirty businesses," he cried, "this is the damnedest
and dirtiest I ever got up against! 'Combined attack," he quoted,
striking the printed words with his fist. "Do you know the name of that
combination? Dermott McDermott, that's its name. There may be a few
others mixed up in it--Marix, for instance--for looks only. But it's
McDermott at the bottom; this same McDermott mother's always tellin' me
to imitate. Damned rascal! He's hated Mr. Ravenel and downed him
because be thinks you love him. Hit him when he's down, too!"

He was too excited to sit down, but walked back and forth, talking
loudly with excited gestures.

"Mr. Ravenel got back from Europe only three days ago, Tuesday, and in
the evening he sent for me to come to the Savoy. Miss Katrine, I've
never seen so dreadful a change in any one. He was like an old man. The
look of death was on him, and he said he'd sent for me to cheer him up
with my talk."

The boy was unable to continue for the sobs which shook him, and he
covered his face with his hands for a space before he could proceed.

"He'd found bad news in Europe, he told me, and wanted me to cheer him
up. I stayed the night with him, and in the morning when I called him he
did not answer, but just lay still and white, looking at me, unable to
speak. We got Dr. Johnston right away, and telegraphed Mr. Ravenel's
mother, who arrived the next day. Yesterday morning that hound Marix,
whose affairs are all mixed up with McDermott's, sent this note to me."

He extended a bit of yellow paper toward her, upon which was written:

     "Sell Ravenel stocks within the next twenty-four hours, and hold
     for the bottom to drop out of them."

"But I'll get even with him, this Marix!" Barney shrieked, in his rage.
"The only reason he gives me tips is because I know something
disgraceful of him! I'll publish him from one end of the country to the
other! I'll send him to the penitentiary! But I can't reach McDermott!
Oh," he cried, with clinched fists, "if I only could!"

"I can," Katrine said, quietly; asking, after a minute's doubting,
"You're sure it is Dermott McDermott who is at the foot of the trouble?"

"Who else has the money or the reasons to make such an attack?" he
demanded of her as an answer. "And Marix as good as told me McDermott
had some big deal on against the Ravenel interests last month."

She stood looking up at him, the folded yellow paper in her hand, driven
by race instinct to fight in the open, to get into the enemy's country,
especially if McDermott were the enemy.

With an angry light in her eyes she called for a storm-cloak and
demanded a cab, setting Nora and her remonstrances aside with abrupt
decision. Giving the cabman the address of McDermott's down-town
offices, she sat in the dark of the carriage with the paper Barney had
given her clutched in her hand, with neither consideration of the coming
interview nor formulated plans. In a vague way she knew that people
stared after her, as she went through the corridor of the great
building, the hood of her storm-cloak thrown back. Unminding, she rapped
at McDermott's private door. She had no misgiving about his being there.
She knew in some way, before she left her apartment, that he would be
there when she arrived.

"Come in!" he called, curtly.

She entered to find him alone, standing by the window looking
absent-mindedly over the snowy chimney-tops, as though projecting a
holiday.

"By all the saints at once!" he cried, gayly, at sight of her. "Here
have I been ruminating on the sins of the fathers; on the triumphant
fifth act, with vice punished and virtue rewarded at the fall of the
curtain, when you enter!" And here her silence and pallor and accusing
eyes stopped his talking. "What is it, Katrine?" he demanded.

"Did you bring this trouble to Mr. Ravenel?" she asked, her eyes filled
with a dangerous light which in a second was matched by the blaze in
his.

"Do you mean that ye think it was I who struck a man in the back in the
way this thing was done?" he cried, bringing his closed fist down on the
newspaper, which lay on the desk before him, in a splendid kind of
anger. "How little you know me, after all!" he said, reproach in his
voice. "How little ye know me! I've had neither art or part in it, nor
suspicion of it until to-day. You'll be wanting proof of it!" he went
on, a bit of scorn in his voice. "If so, mayhap the common-sense of the
situation will appeal to you, though I don't know." He was angry, and
she felt the brunt of it in these words. "Look you!" he continued. "Why
should I be ruining an estate that I'm trying to get possession of? It
would be a fool's part to play."

"Forgive me, McDermott!" she cried. "Oh, forgive me! I want no further
proof. Your face is enough for me. But I'm beside myself with grief."

"I suppose," he continued, "that you reasoned I was capable of this
because of that affair about the land on the other side of the river?"

"I did think of it," Katrine admitted. "Forgive me for it, Dermott, but
I did think of it!"

"Do you know for whom I bought that land, Katrine Dulany? For your
father--no less. It was got with the hope of helping him. It stands in
his name in the State records to-day."

"Oh, Dermott!" she pleaded, the Irish form of speech coming back to her.
"You'll just be forgiving me, won't you?" She put her hand on his sleeve
and looked up at him with imploring eyes. "You must know how great and
good I still believed you to be when I tell you that I came to you to
ask you to help him. I've some money--the Countess, you know," she
explained--"and I thought if you'd faith in my voice--and ye've said
often that ye have--that if"--she broke into a storm of weeping--"if
you'd just lend him the money that's needed I could sing the debt clear
in the years to come."

Dermott looked down at the bowed head upon his old desk, his eyes moist,
his lips twitching.

"Perhaps," he broke in, the angry light still in his eyes, "ye'll tell
me who accuses me of this business?"

For answer she extended toward him the yellow paper which Barney had
given her, signed with John Marix's initials.

"And so you believed Barney, although ye know his weakness for jumping
at conclusions? Ye must have believed him, for my name's not mentioned
here," he said, looking at the paper.

"He told me Mr. Marix had intimated to him that you were behind the
attack."

"Ah! and so it's Marix that's been misusing my name, is it?" he cried,
his eyes narrowed. "I'll settle with him!" And then, "Ye love Ravenel,
Katrine?"

"Yes," she answered: "there's just nothing else in life for me."

"And after all that's gone between him and me, you are asking _me to
help him_?"

"Dermott," she said, gravely, sobbing between the words, "I came to you
because I have always known the greatness, the selflessness of you, and
I trust you."

They stood in silence, not looking at each other.

"I have no one else," she went on. "There is no one else in the world I
trust as I do you."

He held himself more erect at the words, a great light in his face.

"You are the only one who has always, always been kind to me," she
continued, "and I'd give all there is of me to come to you, heart whole,
as your wife. But I can't do it, Dermott, I can't do it! I've tried; no
one knows how I tried to forget this love in my heart. I studied to
forget, worked to forget, _willed_ to forget, but"--and here she spoke
the truth of life--"when great love has once been between a man and a
woman, the man may forget, but the woman never. I've wealth and beauty,
they say, and gift, and they're all just nothing to me except to help
him. Before I'd been two days at the Van Rensselaer's it was just as it
had been in Carolina. It was only fear that kept me from saying I'd
marry him."

"He wants to marry you now? He has asked you?" Dermott spoke softly for
her sake, keeping from his voice the scorn he felt for Ravenel.

"Yes," she returned. "And I know all you're thinking; but it makes no
difference! When I think of him, ill, perhaps dying, his fortune gone,
and nameless, maybe, as well, I'd give my soul to save him!" she cried,
tear-eyed and pale, but glorious in self-abnegation.

She had risen and stood before him with eyes uplifted and unseeing. For
a moment only she stood thus, before, the strain of the time proving too
great for her to endure longer, she turned suddenly, and but for his
supporting arm would have fallen. For a little while her dear, dark head
lay against his breast, a moment never to be forgotten by him, though
with stoical delicacy he refrained from thoughts which might have
offended her could she have known them. He had grown very white before
she recovered herself, but the great light still shone in his eyes as he
placed a hand tenderly on her shoulder.

"Go home, little girl," he said. "Go home and be at peace. I give my
word to help him. I give my word that all, so far as I can make it, will
be well with him."

"Ah," she cried, "you are so good, so good!"

He made no answer whatever, standing gray-faced by the window, looking
into the storm without as she drew her cloak about her.

"Good-bye," she said.

"I'll take you to the carriage," he answered, quietly. "The storm is
still violent, I see."

Coming back to the office, he locked the door, drew the curtains, and
sat beside the dying fire alone. In the outer room he could hear the
click of poker dice, could even distinguish the voices of the players,
but they seemed far off. Life itself seemed slipping from him. Suddenly
he threw himself face downward on the rug in front of the fire and lay
shivering, catching his breath every little while in dry sobs,
impossible for any one to endure for long. Every little while he
clutched the edge of the rug in his sinewy hand, not knowing in his
agony what he did. The dreams and hopes of six years had been taken
from him, and a great imagined future built on those dreams as well. The
glory of his life had departed, and in his passionate misery there
seemed nothing ahead for him but gray skies and barren land and bitter
waters.

All night and far into the morning he lay. About five, the storm outside
having died away, the gray light began showing faintly at the window
edges, and with the coming of the dawn the soul of the man gripped him
and demanded an accounting. "Was this the way he helped?" he asked
himself, accusingly.

By chairs and desk, for his strength was spent, he reached a small
cabinet, and, finding a certain powder, took one, and, after a little
while, another. Then he felt his pulse, timing it by the watch as he did
so. Satisfied, he crossed the room to a safe, and with uncertain hands
placed package after package of papers on the desk in careful order.
Last, from an inner compartment, he took one labelled "Ravenel," and
stood looking at it with speculative eyes.

The case was so complete. Quantrelle and his brother, a curé of Dieppe,
of known integrity, had sworn themselves as witnesses, through an open
window, of Madame de Nemours' marriage. But what of it? Katrine could
never marry a man with a disputed name! Still looking at the bundle, he
struck a match. It flared up, sputtered, and went out, as though giving
him time for second thought. Resolutely he lighted another, set the
flame to the papers for a second time, and in an instant whatever
trouble they contained for Frank Ravenel was nothing but smoke in the
chimney.

"God forgive me!" he cried, as he sat down to write the following
letter:

     DEAR RAVENEL,--You will remember, I said in my last interview that
     the matter upon which we spoke could not be fully proven until I
     received further letters from France. They have come, and I hasten
     to write you that the marriage we spoke of was not a legal one, the
     witness, Quantrelle Le Rouge, being a great liar. It is thoroughly
     proven. Pray give yourself no more anxiety on the subject, and
     forgive me for doing what my duty prompted me to do. The thing is
     completely by with as far as I am concerned, and I have burned all
     of the papers relative to the matter. With best wishes for your
     complete restoration to health, I remain,

     Sincerely yours,
     DERMOTT MCDERMOTT.

He folded the letter and sealed it, a curious smile upon his lips as he
did so. Afterward he began looking over securities and making a list of
them in steady, fine writing for the work in the day to come.

About eight he went to his hotel, bathed, dressed himself for the day,
and neither of the facts that his heart was breaking, nor that he was
about to shake the money market of New York, prevented him from
regarding himself critically in the mirror to see if he showed
suffering, nor from changing his neck-scarf to one of gallant red.

Underneath the bitterness of his heart lay a desire to square accounts
with Marix. But it was part of his nature to excuse the weak, and on the
way down to Wall Street the remembrance of the broker's timid-looking
wife and the three little ones came to him. It was easy, after all, to
forgive. Marix was too unintelligent to understand that it paid to be
honest. "Perhaps," he reasoned, "God meant that even the fools and
traitors should be helped, too."

Going into the stock-room, he looked over the quotations of the day
before in an unimportant manner, waiting for Marix to come in.

"Hello! Hello!" he cried, at sight of him, with a genial laugh, putting
a hand on each of the little broker's shoulders and looking down at him
with warning eyes. "I'm going on the floor myself to-day. It's been a
long time since I've been there. Ravenel and I have come to an
understanding," his long, sinewy hands gripped Marix for a minute so
hard they made him wince, "and I'm going on to protect his interests."

The blue light of battle was in his eyes; his hat was far back on his
head and his hands thrust deep in his pockets as he waited for the gong
to call him to the fight. He saw that many were regarding him curiously,
and his cheeks flushed with the Celtic instinct to do the thing
well--dramatically well. He knew that, in the long night vigil, part of
him had died forever, but with chin well up, like a knight of old, he
went, at the sound of the great bell, to battle for the happiness of the
woman he loved.



XXVII

SELF-SURRENDER


When Katrine returned to her apartment after her visit to Dermott, she
found Nora, with an excited countenance, waiting for her at the door.
Finger on lip, she indicated a wish for Katrine to follow to her
bedroom.

"Miss Katrine," she said, closing the door by backing against it,
"there's one waiting for you. And you must think quick whether ye want
to see her--with all that it may mean to you--with the rehearsal
to-night. Though, poor lady, God knows her troubles! It's Mrs. Ravenel,"
she concluded.

"Alone?" Katrine asked.

"Yes, and with the tears streaming from her eyes and the look of death
on her face. Mr. Frank's dyin', they say. But I want you to think--to
think for yourself, Miss Katrine. Remember the night in Paris, when the
world hung on your voice! Think of the afternoon when the greatest
queen on earth kissed ye, after ye'd sung to her, with dukes and other
creatures standin' round admirin'! Think that, if your voice fails ye
to-night because of excitement and worry, it may be a check on your
whole career! Think of the beautiful clothes laid out for ye to wear,
and judge if it's worth while taking chances for a man who flung ye away
like a worn-out glove!"

"Oh, Nora!" cried Katrine, reproachfully, "how can any one think of a
voice in a time like this?"

As Katrine entered, Mrs. Ravenel turned from the fire by which she was
standing and came toward her with outstretched hands.

Her eyes were red with weeping, and there was a hurried, despairing note
in her voice as she spoke. "Katrine Dulany," she said, "I've come to you
for help." Years of thought could not have given her better words, and
the strong, young hands enfolded the cold ones of the suffering mother.

"If there is anything I can do for you, I will do it, oh, so gladly!"
Katrine answered.

"Frank is very"--Mrs. Ravenel hesitated, as though lacking courage to
speak her fears--"perhaps dangerously ill. For nearly two months the
trouble has been coming on--ever since he was at the Van Rensselaers'.
When he came back to me in North Carolina he had changed. He seemed
struggling to throw off some heavy burden. His old gayety was gone, and
he was always going to Marlton to look for records or asking me for more
of his father's papers. At times he seemed half distracted, and would
sit looking at me with brooding eyes with pity in them. But when he came
back from Europe, just two weeks ago to-day"--the poor lady's voice was
choked with sobs, and Katrine put a supporting arm around her with
beautiful tenderness as she waited for her to continue--"he looked so
ill I cried out at first sight of him. And he does not care to live! I
can't make it out. It's not the money trouble. Money could never worry
Frank. He cares too little for it! Last week," she went on, her voice
losing itself in sobs, "Anne Lennox wrote me of your being at the Van
Rensselaers', and of its being said there that Frank had asked you to
marry him and that you had refused. Then I remembered that he told me,
three years ago, of loving some one very greatly. Last night he became
delirious, and in the fever he called your name over and over again,
crying always, 'Oh, Katrine, forgive!' And that's what I've come to ask
you to do--to forgive--to forgive him and me for all the wrong I taught
him, for the weak and foolish way I brought him up--to forgive and come
to him."

"There is nothing not forgiven," Katrine said. "I would give my life to
save him," and the two clung to each other, weeping, before setting out,
wifehood and motherhood, to battle with death.

Well hidden by the curtains, Nora watched Katrine enter the carriage
after Mrs. Ravenel, realizing, with more anger than she had ever felt,
all that the going meant. She had hoped that after a few years of the
singing Katrine's heart would turn to Dermott, and as she saw her hopes
fade away she shook her head knowingly, with even a touch of vindictive
satisfaction.

"There are two kinds of men," she reflected, her eyes on the departing
carriage: "the man who wants a woman to put her head on his shoulder,
and the man who wants to put his head on a woman's shoulder. And when a
girl's fool enough to like the last kind best, she generally pays."



XXVIII

UNDER THE SOUTHERN PINES ONCE MORE


When Mrs. Ravenel and Katrine entered Frank's apartments they found Dr.
Johnston by the window of the sitting-room, and, with no spoken word,
Katrine knew he had been waiting for her to come. His face bespoke more
than professional anxiety; it bore a look of sorrow and the dread of
losing a dear friend.

According Katrine but a scant nod of recognition, he crossed to the door
of the sleeping-room, and, after looking in, made a gesture, stealthy
and cautious, for Katrine to enter.

The room was dark save for a night light. Frank's face was turned toward
her, his eyes closed. One hand, helpless, unutterably appealing, lay
outside the white cover, and at sight of him thus it seemed her heart
would break.

With a swift movement she knelt beside the bed, waiting to take the
poor, tired head upon her breast. As her eyes grew accustomed to the
light, she saw his lips tremble.

"Dear," she said.

There was silence, and then: "It is worth all--it is worth all--for
this," he whispered. "Touch me, Katrine!"

And she laid her cheek on his.

"Katrine?"

"Yes, dear."

"You will stay? I will try to sleep now if you will touch me. Katrine,
you will not slip away?"

"I shall stay until you are quite well, beloved."

At three in the morning he awoke with a shiver. "Where are you?" he
called. "Where are you, Katrine?"

"Here," she answered, laying a hand on his cheek.

"Ah, thank God!"

       *       *       *       *       *

It was over a month before Mrs. Ravenel and Katrine were able to take
Frank south, where he longed to be. The St. Petersburg engagement was
cancelled, and the Metropolitan manager, angry at Katrine's
forgetfulness to notify him that she could not sing the night Mrs.
Ravenel had come for her, made many caustic newspaper criticisms. But
both events seemed entirely unimportant to her, for Frank's paralysis,
which the doctors had believed but a temporary affair, did not leave him
as soon as had been hoped.

There was a splendid Celtic recklessness in the way she surrendered
everything for him, a generosity which Mrs. Ravenel saw with commending
eyes, believing it, by some strange mother-reasoning, to be but just.
But Frank was far from taking the same attitude in the matter. Almost
the first day he was able to be wheeled on the great piazza in the
sunshine he spoke to Katrine of the time she must soon leave, to keep
the St. Petersburg engagements.

"I have no St. Petersburg engagements," she explained, briefly. "I
cancelled them."

He sat with closed eyes, but she saw the tears between the lids as he
spoke. "I have not had the courage to tell you," he said, at length,
slowly, "before, but all that McDermott said is true, Katrine."

"Indeed!" Words could not explain the tone. She might have received news
of the Andaman Islanders as carelessly.

"You know what it means to me!" he said, after a silence.

"I know what you think it means to you," she answered.

"It means that I have and am nothing. When I think of mother--" He
looked at Katrine, with her radiant beauty, as she reached upward for an
early rose. "And your friend McDermott," he went on, "has done a strange
thing. This morning I opened my mail for the first time since my
illness. In it I found a letter from him, saying that it could be proven
that my father had never made an early marriage, and that Quantrelle was
a great liar. I don't understand it. I saw Quantrelle myself, as well as
his brother, when I was in France. There is not a doubt the marriage was
an entirely legal one, not the shadow of a doubt. Ah," he cried,
"Katrine, it seems to kill me when I think of it!"

"Francis Ravenel," she cried, the old smile on her face as she came
toward him and placed her hand caressingly on his cheek, "you told me
once, not long ago, to ask you to marry me. I do."

"Do what?"

"Ask you to marry me."

"And I refuse," he said, firmly. "I will not be married through pity."

"Oh, very well." She seated herself on some cushions on the top step,
humming softly, as though his words were of no moment whatever.

"You don't think I mean it, do you?" he demanded, at length.

She made no answer whatever.

"Katrine," he said, at length.

"Yes."

"What are you thinking of?"

"I've gone away," she answered. "I was not being treated very well, and
so I went away. I'm over in my Dreaming Land, My Own Country."

"Ah, come back to me!" he cried.

"Very well," she said, obligingly, though she made no movement toward
him. "I've been rebuilding the old lodge, in my thoughts, for Josef. It
will be such a wonderful place for him to rest in! He will want the
first floor made into one room. And Nora and I will come there in the
summer-time, when we're not singing. Perhaps you will come to visit us
sometime, Mr. Ravenel!" she said, politely.

"Katrine, Katrine!" he pleaded. "It would be so unfair to you."

"Nonsense," she returned, shortly. There was surely never anything
kinder or better in the world than this belittling of the whole matter.

"And I may never be strong again--"

"Then I can have my own way more," she laughed.

"And your voice--"

"Beloved," she said, gravely, "I can never give up my singing. Don't
think me vain when I say I sing too well to make it _right_ for me to
give it up. I don't believe that anybody who does a thing well, who has
the real gift, _can_ give it up. But that I shall never have to sing for
_money_ is a great happiness for me. I can sing for the poorer folk, for
the ones who really feel. Ah," she cried, "I've plans of my own, Josef
and I! And the study and the pain were to teach me how unimportant all
things are in this world save only love."

"Katrine! Katrine!" he cried, "you must help me to be square to you!" He
raised his hand, feeble from illness, in the manner of one who takes an
oath. "I solemnly swear that I will never do you the _injustice_--"

"Don't!" she cried, springing quickly to her feet and catching the
upraised hand quickly to her breast. "Don't!" Adding quickly, with a
laugh, "It's dreadful to commit perjury!"

Their hands were still clasped as Mrs. Ravenel came out to join them. In
the lavender gown, with her fair face smiling, and carrying a work-bag
of the interminable knitting in one hand, she did not look in the least
the emissary of fate she really was.

"Mr. de Peyster has sent some letters, Frank. He writes me that none of
them are of importance, but that you may care to look them over. And
they made me think of a great envelope of papers which I had meant to
send to you before you were taken ill. I found it just after you had
been looking up all those family affairs, before you went abroad! I put
them with my knitting, and naturally forgot. Your father gave it to me,
oh, so many years ago! and I put it in the cedar chest." She gave the
papers to Frank, talking in a gay, unimportant manner as she did so.
"Isn't that curious on the outside?" she demanded. "'_To be opened in
case my will is ever disputed._' Now, who did your father think would
ever dispute his will? I had been a faithful and," she laughed, "more or
less obedient wife for many years. And you were too small to dispute
anything except matters with your tutor. Don't look them over now,
dearest, they may worry you!"

Frank took the envelope with an inexplicable feeling of hope. That his
mother had forgotten important papers did not surprise him in the
least. She had once taken a mortgage held by his father and pasted it
over a place in a chimney where it smoked. She said herself that her
temperament was not one for affairs.

A quick exchange of glances passed between Frank and Katrine as he
excused himself to go to his room for rest, and then, alone at twilight,
he broke the seal upon the confession of that Francis who had preceded
him. To his utter confounding, he discovered in the envelope a
certificate of legal marriage between Francis Ravenel and Patricia
McDermott, duly witnessed and sealed. Wrapped with several letters which
had been exchanged between them was a detailed account of the
unfortunate affair in his father's crooked writing, and inside of all a
bill of divorce, which had been obtained in Illinois previous to the
elder Ravenel's marriage with the beautiful Julie D'Hauteville, of New
Orleans.

As Frank read the history of the boyish folly he felt that little
excusing was needed for his dead father, for the early marriage seemed
but an escapade of a spoiled and self-indulgent boy with a headstrong
and sentimental girl, neither of whom had taken a thought for the
future.

     "My wife renounced her faith to marry me [his father wrote]. The
     first year of our marriage, which was a legal one only, was one of
     great unhappiness, for at heart Patricia remained a Catholic still.
     She was depressed, suspicious, afraid of the future. Recriminations
     and quarrels were constant between us. Finally, I went to America
     with no farewell to my wife, to acquaint my father with my foolish
     act, and to ask him to make some suitable provision for us.
     Immediately following my departure, I discovered, my wife
     re-entered the Catholic Church. Soon afterward I heard that her
     father had extended his forgiveness, and that she had been welcomed
     back by her kinfolk in Ireland. Hearing nothing from her whatever,
     with the procrastination which was ever one of my great faults, I
     put off doing anything about the annulment of the marriage until
     the father of Quantrelle le Rouge wrote me that he had heard of her
     death as well as that of the child. But before my marriage to
     Mademoiselle D'Hauteville, I took the precaution to obtain a
     divorce quietly in Illinois. Even if Patricia were living and
     should marry again, I knew she needed no protection to make the
     marriage a valid one, as her Church had never recognized that she
     was married to me, the ceremony having been performed by a
     Protestant."

Frank laid aside the papers, and, with his head thrown back and his eyes
closed, sat in the gathering darkness thinking, with neither continuity
nor result, of that strange life--current which, the family history
claimed, connected him backward to the song-making minstrels of the time
of Charlemagne; to the gallant lovers in the time of the Stuarts; to the
self-indulgent and magnetic Ravenels of North Carolina.

What had they done? Dermott's question came back to him again and again,
and through the depression into which this thinking was leading him he
heard Katrine singing softly on the piazza underneath his window.

Like a child he rose and went to her. She was standing by one of the
great white columns looking into the shadowy pine-trees as he came. He
did not touch her. He had such fear of breaking utterly before her that
he said, with forced quietude of voice:

"I've changed my mind about marrying you, Katrine." In spite of his
effort to be calm, his voice broke into something like a sob as he spoke
her name.

"Yes," she said, realizing what the import of the papers must have been.

After he had told Katrine the important fact in his father's statement,
there came to him with a sudden suspicion of the truth the remembrance
of Dermott's letter, in which the Irishman had stated that whatever
documents he had held concerning the early marriage of the elder Ravenel
had been burned.

Taking the letter from his pocket, he gave it to Katrine, who read it in
the fading light and returned it wordlessly. She had turned her face
away that Frank might not see the glow of admiration she felt for that
Irish Dermott whom Frank could never understand.

"What do you think of the letter, Katrine?" Frank asked. "I fail utterly
to understand it. Dermott knew, when he wrote it, that my father had
made that early marriage. It had been proven beyond the shadow of a
doubt even to me. I feel sure that he knew nothing of a divorce or he
would have mentioned it."

"I think," Katrine said, softly, "that Dermott told a story. You
remember"--her voice broke a little--"you discovered long ago he didn't
always tell the truth."

"And you think, then," Frank insisted, "that when McDermott wrote this
letter," he made a motion with it as he spoke, "he still believed that
my father and mother were never legally married?"

"He believed just that," Katrine answered. "He told me so the day he
wrote the letter."

"But why did he write me what he believed to be an untruth? Why did he
burn papers which he must have believed to be valuable evidence?"

"It's a way of his," Katrine answered, vaguely.

"Katrine," Frank cried, "there is more to this! Why did McDermott do
this thing for me?"

"He told me he would help you."

"When?"

"The day I went down to Wall Street to ask him to stop the attack on
your firm, when you were so ill. It was the day I told him that I loved
you."

"And loving you himself, as he has always done, he did this for me?"

She made a sign of acquiescence.

"Ah!" he cried, the glow of enthusiasm in his eyes. "I have never
understood the man, but, before God, I honor and reverence him for what
he did. There is much of the hero in this strange Dermott McDermott."

"I have known that always," Katrine answered.

"And still you prefer to marry me?"

She was standing at a little distance from him, and as their eyes met
she nodded her curly head quickly, as a child might have done.

"Ah," he cried, opening his arms to her, "come to me, come to me, you
divine little soul! I'm not worthy, but God knows how I will try to be!"

And a little later: "It is cold for you here," he said. "Shall we go in,
Mrs. Francis Ravenel?"


THE END





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