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´╗┐Title: At the Sign of the Eagle
Author: Parker, Gilbert, 1860-1932
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 "At the Sign of the Eagle" ***

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By Gilbert Parker

          "Life in her creaking shoes
          Goes, and more formal grows,
          A round of calls and cues:
          Love blows as the wind blows.
          Blows! . . . "

"Well, what do you think of them, Molly?" said Sir Duke Lawless to his
wife, his eyes resting with some amusement on a big man and a little one
talking to Lord Hampstead.

"The little man is affected, gauche, and servile. The big one picturesque
and superior in a raw kind of way. He wishes to be rude to some one, and
is disappointed because, just at the moment, Lord Hampstead is too polite
to give him his cue. A dangerous person in a drawing-room, I should
think; but interesting. You are a bold man to bring them here, Duke. Is
it not awkward for our host?"

"Hampstead did it with his eyes open. Besides, there is business behind
it--railways, mines, and all that; and Hampstead's nephew is going to the
States fortune-hunting. Do you see?"

Lady Lawless lifted her eyebrows. "'To what base uses are we come,
Horatio!' You invite me to dinner and--'I'll fix things up right.' That
is the proper phrase, for I have heard you use it. Status for dollars.
Isn't it low? I know you do not mean what you say, Duke."

Sir Duke's eyes were playing on the men with a puzzled expression, as
though trying to read the subject of their conversation; and he did not
reply immediately. Soon, however, he turned and looked down at his wife
genially, and said: "Well, that's about it, I suppose. But really there
is nothing unusual in this, so far as Mr. John Vandewaters is concerned,
for in his own country he travels 'the parlours of the Four Hundred,' and
is considered 'a very elegant gentleman.' We must respect a man according
to the place he holds in his own community. Besides, as you suggest, Mr.
Vandewaters is interesting. I might go further, and say that he is a very
good fellow indeed."

"You will be asking him down to Craigruie next," said Lady Lawless,
inquisition in her look.

"That is exactly what I mean to do, with your permission, my dear. I hope
to see him laying about among the grouse in due season."

"My dear Duke, you are painfully Bohemian. I can remember when you were
perfectly precise and exclusive, and--"

"What an awful prig I must have been!"

"Don't interrupt. That was before you went aroving in savage countries,
and picked up all sorts of acquaintances, making friends with the most
impossible folk. I should never be surprised to see you drive Shon
McGann--and his wife, of course--and Pretty Pierre--with some other man's
wife--up to the door in a dogcart; their clothes in a saddle-bag, or
something less reputable, to stay a month. Duke, you have lost your
decorum; you are a gipsy."

"I fear Shon McGann and Pierre wouldn't enjoy being with us as I should
enjoy having them. You can never understand what a life that is out in
Pierre's country. If it weren't for you and the bairn, I should be off
there now. There is something of primeval man in me. I am never so
healthy and happy, when away from you, as in prowling round the outposts
of civilisation, and living on beans and bear's meat."

He stretched to his feet, and his wife rose with him. There was a fine
colour on his cheek, and his eye had a pleasant fiery energy. His wife
tapped him on the arm with her fan. She understood him very well, though
pretending otherwise. "Duke, you are incorrigible. I am in daily dread of
your starting off in the middle of the night, leaving me--"

"Watering your couch with your tears?"

"--and hearing nothing more from you till a cable from Quebec or Winnipeg
tells me that you are on your way to the Arctic Circle with Pierre or
some other heathen. But, seriously, where did you meet Mr.
Vandewaters--Heavens, what a name!--and that other person? And what is
the other person's name?"

"The other person carries the contradictory name of Stephen Pride."

"Why does he continually finger his face, and show his emotions so? He
assents to everything said to him by an appreciative exercise of his

"My dear, you ask a great and solemn question. Let me introduce the young
man, that you may get your answer at the fountain-head."

"Wait a moment, Duke. Sit down and tell me when and where you met these
men, and why you have continued the acquaintance."

"Molly," he said, obeying her, "you are a terrible inquisitor, and the
privacy of one's chamber were the kinder place to call one to account.
But I bend to your implacability. . . . Mr. Vandewaters, like myself, has
a taste for roving, though our aims are not identical. He has a fine
faculty for uniting business and pleasure. He is not a thorough
sportsman--there is always a certain amount of enthusiasm, even in the
unrewarded patience of the true hunter; but he sufficeth. Well, Mr.
Vandewaters had been hunting in the far north, and looking after a
promising mine at the same time. He was on his way south at one angle, I
at another angle, bound for the same point. Shon McGann was with me;
Pierre with Vandewaters. McGann left me, at a certain point, to join his
wife at a Barracks of the Riders of the Plains. I had about a hundred
miles to travel alone. Well, I got along the first fifty all right. Then
came trouble. In a bad place of the hills I fell and broke an ankle bone.
I had an Eskimo dog of the right sort with me. I wrote a line on a bit of
birch bark, tied it round his neck, and started him away, trusting my
luck that he would pull up somewhere. He did. He ran into Vandewaters's
camp that evening. Vandewaters and Pierre started away at once. They had
dogs, and reached me soon.

"It was the first time I had seen Pierre for years. They fixed me up, and
we started south. And that's as it was in the beginning with Mr. John
Vandewaters and me."

Lady Lawless had been watching the two strangers during the talk, though
once or twice she turned and looked at her husband admiringly. When he
had finished she said: "That is very striking. What a pity it is that men
we want to like spoil all by their lack of form!"

"Don't be so sure about Vandewaters. Does he look flurried by these

"No. He certainly has an air of contentment. It is, I suppose, the usual
air of self-made Americans."

"Go to London, E.C., and you will find the same, plus smugness. Now, Mr.
Vandewaters has real power--and taste too, as you will see. Would you
think Mr. Stephen Pride a self-made man?"

"I cannot think of any one else who would be proud of the patent. Please
to consider the seals about his waistcoat, and the lady-like droop of his

"Yet he is thought to be a young man of parts. He has money, made by his
ancestors; he has been round the world; he belongs to societies for
culture and--"

"And he will rave of the Poet's Corner, ask if one likes Pippa Passes,
and expect to be introduced to every woman in the room at a tea-party, to
say nothing of proposing impossible things, such as taking one's girl
friends to the opera alone, sending them boxes of confectionery, and
writing them dreadfully reverential notes at the same time. Duke, the
creature is impossible, believe me. Never, never, if you love me, invite
him to Craigruie. I met one of his tribe at Lady Macintyre's when I was
just out of school; and at the dinner-table, when the wine went round, he
lifted his voice and asked for a cup of tea, saying he never 'drank.'
Actually he did, Duke."

Her husband laughed quietly. He had a man's enjoyment of a woman's
dislike of bad form. "A common criminal man, Molly. Tell me, which is the
greater crime: to rob a bank or use a fish-knife for asparagus?"

Lady Lawless fanned herself. "Duke, you make me hot. But if you will have
the truth: the fish-knife business by all means. Nobody need feel
uncomfortable about the burglary, except the burglar; but see what a
position for the other person's hostess."

"My dear, women have no civic virtues. Their credo is, 'I believe in
beauty and fine linen, and the thing that is not gauche.'"

His wife was smiling. "Well, have it your own way. It is a creed of
comfort, at any rate. And now, Duke, if I must meet the man of mines and
railways and the spare person making faces at Lord Hampstead, let it be
soon, that it may be done with; and pray don't invite them to Craigruie
till I have a chance to speak with you again. I will not have impossible
people at a house-party."

"What a difficult fellow your husband is, Molly!"

"Difficult; but perfectly possible. His one fault is a universal sympathy
which shines alike on the elect--and the others."

"So. Well, this is our dance. After it is over, prepare for the

Half-an-hour later Mr. Vandewaters was standing in a conspicuous corner
talking to Lady Lawless.

"It is, then, your first visit to England?" she asked. He had a dry,
deliberate voice, unlike the smooth, conventional voices round him. "Yes,
Lady Lawless," he replied: "it's the first time I've put my foot in
London town, and--perhaps you won't believe it of an American--I find it
doesn't take up a very conspicuous place."

The humour was slightly accentuated, and Lady Lawless shrank a little, as
if she feared the depths of divertisement to which this speech might
lead; but a quick look at the man assured her of his common-sense, and
she answered: "It is of the joys of London that no one is so important
but finds the space he fills a small one, which may be filled acceptably
by some one else at any moment. It is easy for kings and princes even--we
have secluded princes here now--to get lost and forgotten in London."
"Well, that leaves little chance for ordinary Americans, who don't bank
on titles."

She looked up, puzzled in spite of herself. But she presently said, with
frankness and naivete: "What does 'bank on titles' mean?"

He stroked his beard, smiling quaintly, and said: "I don't know how to
put the thing better-it seems to fill the bill. But, anyway, Americans
are republicans; and don't believe in titles, and--"

"O, pardon me," she interrupted: "of course, I see."

"We've got little ways of talking not the same as yours. You don't seem
to have the snap to conversation that we have in the States. But I'll say
here that I think you have got a better style of talking. It isn't

"Mr. Pride said to me a moment ago that they spoke better English in
Boston than any other place in the world."

"Did he, though, Lady Lawless? That's good. Well, I guess he was only
talking through his hat."

She was greatly amused. Her first impressions were correct. The man was
interesting. He had a quaint, practical mind. He had been thrown upon his
own resources, since infancy almost, in a new country; and he had seen
with his own eyes, nakedly, and without predisposition or instruction.
From childhood thoroughly adaptable, he could get into touch with things
quickly, and instantly like or dislike them. He had been used to approach
great concerns with fearlessness and competency. He respected a thing
only for its real value, and its intrinsic value was as clear to him as
the market value. He had, perhaps, an exaggerated belief in the greatness
of his own country, because he liked eagerness and energy and daring. The
friction and hurry of American life added to his enjoyment. They acted on
him like a stimulating air, in which he was always bold, collected, and
steady. He felt an exhilaration in being superior to the rustle of forces
round him. It had been his habit to play the great game of business with
decision and adroitness. He had not spared his opponent in the fight; he
had crushed where his interests were in peril and the sport played into
his hands; comforting himself, if he thought of the thing, with the
knowledge that he himself would have been crushed if the other man had
not. He had never been wilfully unfair, nor had he used dishonourable
means to secure his ends: his name stood high in his own country for
commercial integrity; men said: he "played square." He had, maybe, too
keen a contempt for dulness and incompetency in enterprise, and he
loathed red-tape; but this was racial. His mind was as open as his
manners. He was utterly approachable. He was a millionaire, and yet in
his own offices in New York he was as accessible as a President. He
handled things without gloves, and this was not a good thing for any that
came to him with a weak case. He had a penetrating intelligence; and few
men attempted, after their first sophistical statements, to impose upon
him: he sent them away unhappy. He did not like England altogether:
first, because it lacked, as he said, enterprise; and because the
formality, decorum and excessive convention fretted him. He saw that in
many things the old land was backward, and he thought that precious time
was being wasted. Still, he could see that there were things, purely
social, in which the Londoners were at advantage; and he acknowledged
this when he said, concerning Stephen Pride's fond boast, that he was
"talking through his hat."

Lady Lawless smiled, and after a moment rejoined:

"Does it mean that he was mumming, as it were, like a conjurer?"

"Exactly. You are pretty smart, Lady Lawless; for I can see that, from
your stand-point, it isn't always easy to catch the meaning of sayings
like that. But they do hit the case, don't they?"

"They give a good deal of individuality to conversation," was the vague
reply. "What, do you think, is the chief lack in England?"

"Nerve and enterprise. But I'm not going to say you ought to have the
same kind of nerve as ours. We are a different tribe, with different
surroundings, and we don't sit in the same kind of saddle. We ride for
all we're worth all the time. You sit back and take it easy. We are never
satisfied unless we are behind a fast trotter; you are content with a
good cob that steps high, tosses its head, and has an aristocratic

"Have you been in the country much?" she asked, without any seeming

He was keen enough. He saw the veiled point of her question. "No: I've
never been in the country here," he said. "I suppose you mean that I
don't see or know England till I've lived there."

"Quite so, Mr. Vandewaters." She smiled to think what an undistinguished
name it was. It suggested pumpkins in the front garden. Yet here its
owner was perfectly at his ease, watching the scene before him with
good-natured superiority. "London is English; but it is very
cosmopolitan, you know," she added; "and I fancy you can see it is not a
place for fast trotters. The Park would be too crowded for that--even if
one wished to drive a Maud S."

He turned his slow keen eyes on her, and a smile broadened into a low
laugh, out of which he said:

"What do you know of Maud S? I didn't think you would be up in racing

"You forget that my husband is a traveller, and an admirer of Americans
and things American."

"That's so," he answered; "and a staving good traveller he is. You don't
catch him asleep, I can tell you, Lady Lawless. He has stuff in him."

"The stuff to make a good American?"

"Yes; with something over. He's the kind of Englishman that can keep cool
when things are ticklish, and look as if he was in a parlour all the
time. Americans keep cool, but look cheeky. O, I know that. We square our
shoulders and turn out our toes, and push our hands into our pockets, and
act as if we owned the world. Hello--by Jingo!" Then, apologetically: "I
beg your pardon, Lady Lawless; it slipped."

Lady Lawless followed Mr. Vandewaters's glance, and saw, passing on her
husband's arm, a tall, fascinating girl. She smiled meaningly to herself,
as she sent a quick quizzical look at the American, and said, purposely
misinterpreting his exclamation: "I am not envious, Mr. Vandewaters."

"Of course not. That's a commoner thing with us than with you. American
girls get more notice and attention from their cradles up, and they want
it all along the line. You see, we've mostly got the idea that an
Englishman expects from his wife what an American woman expects from her

"How do Americans get these impressions about us?"

"From our newspapers, I guess; and the newspapers take as the ground-work
of their belief the Bow Street cases where Englishmen are cornered for
beating their wives."

"Suppose we were to judge of American Society by the cases in a Chicago
Divorce Court?"

"There you have me on toast. That's what comes of having a husband who
takes American papers. Mind you, I haven't any idea that the American
papers are right. I've had a lot to do with newspapers, and they are
pretty ignorant, I can tell you--cheap all round. What's a newspaper,
anyway, but an editor, more or less smart and overworked, with an owner
behind him who has got some game on hand? I know: I've been there."

"How have you 'been there'?"

"I've owned four big papers all at once, and had fifty others under my

Lady Lawless caught her breath; but she believed him. "You must be very

"Owning newspapers doesn't mean riches. It's a lever, though, for tipping
the dollars your way."

"I suppose they have--tipped your way?"

"Yes: pretty well. But, don't follow this lead any farther, Lady Lawless,
or you may come across something that will give you a start. I should
like to keep on speaking terms with you."

"You mean that a man cannot hold fifty newspapers under his thumb, and
live in the glare of a search-light also?"

"Exactly. You can't make millions without pulling wires."

She saw him watching the girl on her husband's arm. She had the instinct
of her sex. She glanced at the stately girl again; then at Mr.
Vandewaters critically, and rejoined, quizzically: "Did you--make

His eyes still watching, he replied abstractedly. "Yes: a few handfuls,
and lost a few--'that's why I'm here.'"

"To get them back on the London market?"

"That's why I am here."

"You have not come in vain?"

"I could tell you better in a month or so from now. In any case, I don't
stand to lose. I've come to take things away from England."

"I hope you will take away a good opinion of it."

"If there'd been any doubt of it half an hour ago, it would be all gone
this minute."

"Which is nice of you; and not in your usual vein, I should think. But,
Mr. Vandewaters, we want you to come to Craigruie, our country place, to
spend a week. Then you will have a chance to judge us better, or rather
more broadly and effectively." She was looking at the girl, and at that
moment she caught Sir Duke's eye. She telegraphed to him to come.

"Thank you, Lady Lawless, I'm glad you have asked me. But--" He glanced
to where Mr. Pride was being introduced to the young lady on Sir Duke's
arm, and paused.

"We are hoping," she added, interpreting his thought, and speaking a
little dryly, "that your friend, Mr. Stephen Pride"--the name sounded so
ludicrous--"will join us."

"He'll be proud enough, you may be sure. It's a singular combination,
Pride and myself, isn't it? But, you see, he has a fortune which, as yet,
he has never been able to handle for himself; and I do it for him. We are
partners, and, though you mightn't think it, he has got more money now
than when he put his dollars at my disposal to help me make a few
millions at a critical time."

Lady Lawless let her fan touch Mr. Vandewaters's arm. "I am going to do
you a great favour. You see that young lady coming to us with my husband?
Well, I am going to introduce you to her. It is such as she--such
women--who will convince you--"


"--that you have yet to make your--what shall I call it?--Ah, I have it:
your 'biggest deal,'--and, in truth, your best."

"Is that so?" rejoined Vandewaters musingly. "Is that so? I always
thought I'd make my biggest deal in the States. Who is she? She is

"She is more than handsome, and she is the Honourable Gracia Raglan."

"I don't understand about 'The Honourable.'"

"I will explain that another time."

A moment later Miss Raglan, in a gentle bewilderment, walked down the
ballroom on the arm of the millionaire, half afraid that something gauche
would happen; but by the time she had got to the other end was reassured,
and became interested.

Sir Duke said to his wife in an aside, before he left her with Mr.
Vandewaters's financial partner: "What is your pretty conspiracy, Molly?"

"Do talk English, Duke, and do not interfere."

A few hours later, on the way home, Sir Duke said: "You asked Mr. Pride

"Yes; I grieve to say."

"Why grieve?"

"Because his experiences with us seem to make him dizzy. He will be
terribly in earnest with every woman in the house, if--"

"If you do not keep him in line yourself?"

"Quite so. And the creature is not even interesting."

"Cast your eye about. He has millions; you have cousins."

"You do not mean that, Duke? I would see them in their graves first. He
says 'My lady' every other sentence, and wants to send me flowers, and a
box for the opera, and to drive me in the Park."

Her husband laughed. "I'll stake my life he can't ride. You will have him
about the place like a tame cat." Then, seeing that his wife was annoyed:
"Never mind, Molly, I will help you all I can. I want to be kind to

"I know you do. But what is your 'pretty conspiracy,' Duke?"

"A well-stocked ranche in Colorado." He did not mean it. And she knew it.

"How can you be so mercenary?" she replied.

Then they both laughed, and said that they were like the rest of the


Lady Lawless was an admirable hostess, and she never appeared to better
advantage in the character than during the time when Miss Gracia Raglan,
Mr. John Vandewaters, and Mr. Stephen Pride were guests at Craigruie. The
men accepted Mr. Vandewaters at once as a good fellow and a very sensible
man. He was a heavy-weight for riding; but it was not the hunting season,
and, when they did ride, a big horse carried him very well. At
grouse-shooting he showed to advantage. Mr. Pride never rode. He went
shooting only once, and then, as Mr. Vandewaters told him, he got
"rattled." He was then advised by his friend to remain at home and
cultivate his finer faculties. At the same time, Mr. Vandewaters
parenthetically remarked to Sir Duke Lawless that Mr. Pride knew the
poets backwards, and was smart at French. He insisted on bringing out the
good qualities of his comrade; but he gave him much strong advice
privately. He would have done it just the same at the risk of losing a
fortune, were it his whim--he would have won the fortune back in due

At the present time Mr. Vandewaters was in the heat of some large
commercial movements. No one would have supposed it, save for the fact
that telegrams and cablegrams were brought to him day and night. He had
liberally salaried the telegraph-clerk to work after hours, simply to be
at his service. The contents of these messages never shook his
equanimity. He was quiet, urbane, dry-mannered, at all times. Mr. Pride,
however, was naturally excitable. He said of himself earnestly that he
had a sensitive nature. He said it to Mrs. Gregory Thorne, whose reply
was: "Dear me, and when things are irritating and painful to you do you
never think of suicide?" Then she turned away to speak to some one, as if
she had been interrupted, and intended to take up the subject again; but
she never did. This remark caused Mr. Pride some nervous moments. He was
not quite sure how she meant it. But it did not depress him as it might
otherwise have done, for his thoughts were running much in another
channel with a foolish sort of elation.

As Lady Lawless had predicted, he was assiduously attentive to her, and
it needed all her tact and cheerful frankness to keep him in line. She
managed it very well: Mr. Pride's devotion was not too noticeable to the
other guests. She tried to turn his attentions to some pretty girls; but,
although there were one or two who might, in some weak moments, have
compromised with his millions, he did no more than saunter with them on
the terrace and oppress them with his lisping egotism. Every one hinted
that he seemed an estimable, but trying, young man; and, as Sir Duke said
to his wife, the men would not have him at any price.

As for Mr. Vandewaters and Gracia Raglan, Lady Lawless was not very sure
that her delicate sympathy was certain of reward. The two were naturally
thrown together a good deal; but Miss Raglan was a girl of singular
individuality and high-mindedness, and she was keen enough to see from
the start what Lady Lawless suspected might happen. She did not resent
this,--she was a woman; but it roused in her a spirit of criticism, and
she threw up a barrier of fine reserve, which puzzled Mr. Vandewaters. He
did not see that Lady Lawless was making a possible courtship easy for
him. If he had, it would have made no difference: he would have looked at
it as at most things, broadly. He was not blind to the fact that his
money might be a "factor", but, as he said to himself, his millions were
a part of him--they represented, like whist-counters, so much pluck and
mother-wit. He liked the general appreciation of them: he knew very well
that people saw him in them and them in him. Miss Raglan attracted him
from the moment of meeting. She was the first woman of her class that he
had ever met closely; and the possibility of having as his own so
adorable a comrade was inspiring. He sat down sometimes as the days went
on--it was generally when he was shaving--and thought upon his intention
regarding Miss Raglan, in relation to his humble past; for he had fully
made up his mind to marry her, if she would have him. He wondered what
she would think when he told her of his life; and he laughed at the
humour of the situation. He had been into Debrett, and he knew that she
could trace her family back to the Crusades.

He determined to make a clean breast of it. One day he was obliged to
remain at the house in expectation of receiving important telegrams, and
the only people who appeared at lunch were Lady Lawless, Mrs. Gregory
Thorne (who was expecting her husband), Miss Raglan; Pride, and himself.
While at luncheon he made up his mind to have a talk with Miss Raglan. In
the library after luncheon the opportunity was given. It was a warm,
pleasant day, and delightful in the grounds.

After one or two vain efforts to escape, Mrs. Gregory Thorne and Lady
Lawless resigned themselves to the attentions of Mr. Pride; and for once
Lady Lawless did not check Mrs. Thorne's irony. It was almost a
satisfaction to see Mr. Pride's bewildered looks, and his inability to
know whether or not he should resent (whether it would be proper to
resent) this softly-showered satire.

Mr. Vandewaters and Gracia Raglan talked more freely than they had ever
done before.

"Do you really like England?" she said to him; then, waving her hand
lightly to the beeches and the clean-cropped grass through the window, "I
mean do you like our 'trim parterres,' our devotion to mere living,
pleasure, sport, squiring, and that sort of thing?"

He raised his head, glanced out, drew in a deep breath, thrust his hands
down in the pockets of his coat, and looking at her with respectful good
humour, said: "Like it? Yes, right down to the ground. Why shouldn't I!
It's the kind of place I should like to come to in my old days. You
needn't die in a hurry here. See?"

"Are you sure you would not be like the old sailors who must live where
they can scent the brine? You have been used to an active, adventurous,
hurried life. Do you think you could endure this humdrum of enjoyment?"

It would be hard to tell quite what was running in Gracia Raglan's mind,
and, for the moment, she herself hardly knew; but she had a sudden,
overmastering wish to make the man talk: to explore and, maybe, find
surprising--even trying--things. She was astonished that she enjoyed his
society so keenly. Even now, as she spoke, she remembered a day and a
night since his coming, when he was absent in London; also how the party
seemed to have lost its character and life, and how, when Mr. Pride
condescended, for a few moments, to decline from Lady Lawless upon
herself, she was even pleasant to him, making him talk about Mr.
Vandewaters, and relishing the enthusiastic loyalty of the supine young
man. She, like Lady Lawless, had learned to see behind the firm bold
exterior, not merely a notable energy, force, self-reliance, and
masterfulness, but a native courtesy, simplicity, and refinement which
surprised her. Of all the men she knew not a half-dozen had an
appreciation of nature or of art. They affected art, and some of them
went to the Academy or the private views in Bond Street; but they had
little feeling for the business. They did it in a well-bred way, with
taste, but not with warmth.

Mr. Vandewaters now startled her by quoting suddenly lines from an
English poet unknown to her. By chance she was turning over the Academy
pictures of the year, and came at last to one called "A Japanese Beauty
of Old Days"--an exquisite thing.

"Is it not fascinating?" she said. "So piquant and fresh."

He gave a silent laugh, as was his custom when he enjoyed anything, and
then replied:

"I came across a little book of verses one day in the States. A friend of
mine, the president of a big railway, gave it to me. He does some
painting himself when he travels in his Pullman in the Rockies. Well, it
had some verses on just such a picture as that. Hits it off right, Miss

"Verses?" she remarked, lifting her eyebrows. She expected something out
of the "poet's corner" of a country newspaper. "What are they?"

"Well, one's enough to show the style. This is it:

       "'Was I a Samurai renowned,
        Two-sworded, fierce, immense of bow?
        A histrion angular and profound?
        A priest? or porter? Child, although
        I have forgotten clean, I know
        That in the shade of Fujisan,
        What time the cherry-orchards blow,
        I loved you once in old Japan.'"

The verse on the lips of Mr. Vandewaters struck her strangely. He was not
like any man she had known. Most self-made Englishmen, with such a burly
exterior and energy, and engaged in such pursuits, could not, to save
themselves from hanging, have impressed her as Mr. Vandewaters did. There
was a big round sympathy in the tone, a timbre in the voice, which made
the words entirely fitting. Besides, he said them without any kind of
affectation, and with a certain turn of dry humour, as if he were
inwardly laughing at the idea of the poem.

"The verses are charming," she said, musingly; "and the idea put that way
is charming also. But do you think there would be much amusement in
living half-a-dozen times, or even twice, unless you were quite sure that
you remembered everything? This gentleman was peculiarly fortunate to
recall Fujisan, and the orange orchards--and the girl."

"I believe you are right. One life is about enough for most of us. Memory
is all very fine; but you'd want a life set apart for remembering the
others after awhile."

"Why do you not add, 'And that would bore one?' Most of the men I know
would say so."

"Well, I never used the word that way in my life. When I don't like a
thing, that ends it--it has got to go."

"You cannot do that with everything."

"Pretty much, if I set my mind to it. It is astonishing how things'll
come round your way if you keep on thinking and willing them so."

"Have you always got everything you wanted?" He had been looking off into
the grounds through the open window. Now he turned slowly upon her.

"So far I have got everything I set my mind to get. Little things don't
count. You lose them sometimes because you want to work at something
else; sometimes because, as in cards, you are throwing a few away to save
the whole game."

He looked at her, as she thought, curiously. In his mind he was wondering
if she knew that he had made up his mind to marry her. She was suddenly
made aware of the masterfulness of his spirit, which might, she knew, be
applied to herself.

"Let us go into the grounds," he added, all at once. Soon after, in the
shade of the trees, she broke in upon the thread of their casual
conversation. "A few moments ago," she murmured, "you said: 'One life is
about enough for most of us.' Then you added a disparaging remark about
memory. Well, that doesn't seem like your usual point of view--more like
that of Mr. Pride; but not so plaintive, of course. Pray do smoke," she
added, as, throwing back his coat, he exposed some cigars in his
waistcoat pocket. "I am sure you always smoke after lunch."

He took out a cigar, cut off the end, and put it in his mouth. But he did
not light it. Then he glanced up at her with a grave quizzical look as
though wondering what would be the effect of his next words, and a smile
played at his lips.

"What I meant was this. I think we get enough out of our life to last us
for centuries. It's all worth doing from the start, no matter what it is:
working, fighting, marching and countermarching, plotting and
counterplotting, backing your friends and hating your foes, playing big
games and giving others a chance to, standing with your hand on the
lynch-pin, or pulling your head safe out of the hot-pot. But I don't
think it is worth doing twice. The interest wouldn't be fresh. For men
and women and life, with a little different dress, are the same as they
always were; and there's only the same number of passions working now, as
at the beginning. I want to live life up to the hilt; because it is all
new as I go on; but never twice."

"Indeed?" She looked at him earnestly for a moment, and then added: "I
should think you would have seen lost chances; and doing things a second
time might do them better."

"I never missed chances," he replied, simply: "never except twice, and

"And then?"

"Then it was to give the other fellow a chance."

"Oh!" There was a kind of dubiousness in her tone. He noticed it. "You
can hardly understand, Miss Raglan. Fact is, it was one of those deals
when you can make a million, in a straight enough game; but it comes out
of another man--one, maybe, that you don't know; who is playing just the
same as you are. I have had a lot of sport; but I've never crippled any
one man, when my engine has been dead on him. I have played more against
organisations than single men."

"What was the most remarkable chance you ever had to make a million, and
did not?"

He threw back his head, smiling shrewdly. "When by accident my enemy got
hold of a telegram meant for me. I was standing behind a frosted glass
door, and through the narrow bevel of clear glass I watched him read it.
I never saw a struggle like that. At last he got up, snatched an
envelope, put the telegram inside, wrote my name, and called a messenger.
I knew what was in the message. I let the messenger go, and watched that
man for ten minutes. It was a splendid sight. The telegram had given him
a big chance to make a million or two, as he thought. But he backed
himself against the temptation, and won. That day I could have put the
ball into his wicket; but I didn't. That's a funny case of the kind."

"Did he ever know?"

"He didn't. We are fighting yet. He is richer than I am now, and at this
moment he's playing a hard game straight at several interests of mine.
But I reckon I can stop him."

"You must get a great deal out of life," she said. "Have you always
enjoyed it so?" She was thinking it would be strange to live in contact
with such events very closely. It was so like adventure.

"Always--from the start."

"Tell me something of it all, won't you?" He did not hesitate.

"I was born in a little place in Maine. My mother was a good woman, they
said--straight as a die all her life. I can only remember her in a kind
of dream, when she used to gather us children about the big
rocking-chair, and pray for us, and for my father, who was away most of
the time, working in the timber-shanties in the winter, and at odd things
in the summer. My father wasn't much of a man. He was kind-hearted, but
shiftless, but pretty handsome for a man from Maine.

"My mother died when I was six years old. Things got bad. I was the
youngest. The oldest was only ten years old. She was the head of the
house. She had the pluck of a woman. We got along somehow, until one day,
when she and I were scrubbing the floor, she caught cold. She died in
three days."

Here he paused; and, without glancing at Miss Raglan, who sat very still,
but looking at him, he lighted his cigar.

"Then things got worse. My father took to drinking hard, and we had
mighty little to eat. I chored around, doing odd things in the village. I
have often wondered that people didn't see the stuff that was in me, and
give me a chance. They didn't, though. As for my relatives: one was a
harness-maker. He sent me out in the dead of winter to post bills for
miles about, and gave me ten cents for it. Didn't even give me a meal.
Twenty years after he came to me and wanted to borrow a hundred dollars.
I gave him five hundred on condition that he'd not come near me for the
rest of his natural life.

"The next thing I did was to leave home--'run away,' I suppose, is the
way to put it. I got to Boston, and went for a cabin-boy on a steamer;
travelled down to Panama, and from there to Brazil. At Brazil I got on
another ship, and came round to San Francisco. I got into trouble in San
Francisco with the chief mate of the Flying Polly, because I tried to
teach him his business. One of the first things I learned in life was not
to interfere with people who had a trade and didn't understand it. In San
Francisco I got out of the situation. I took to selling newspapers in the

"There wasn't enough money in it. I went for a cabin-boy again, and
travelled to Australia. There, once more, I resigned my position, chiefly
because I wouldn't cheerfully let the Mate bang me about the
quarter-deck. I expect I was a precocious youth, and wasn't exactly the
kind for Sunday-school prizes. In Melbourne I began to speculate. I found
a ticket for the theatre where an American actor--our biggest actor
today--was playing, and I tried to sell it outside the door of the
theatre where they were crowding to see him. The man who bought it was
the actor himself. He gave me two dollars more than the regular price. I
expect he knew from my voice I was an American. Is there anything
peculiar about my voice, Miss Raglan?"

She looked at him quickly, smiled, and said in a low tone: "Yes,
something peculiar. Please go on."

"Well, anyway, he said to me: 'Look here, where did you come from, my
boy?' I told him the State of Maine. 'What are you doing here?' he asked.
'Speculating, said I, and seeing things.' He looked me up and down. 'How
are you getting on?' 'Well. I've made four dollars to-day,' I answered.
'Out of this ticket?' I expect I grinned. He suddenly caught me by the
arm and whisked me inside the theatre--the first time I'd ever been in a
theatre in my life. I shall never forget it. He took me around to his
dressing-room, stuck me in a corner, and prodded me with his forefinger.
'Look here,' he said, 'I guess I'll hire you to speculate for me.' And
that's how I came to get twenty-five dollars a month and my living from a
great American actor. When I got back to America--with him--I had two
hundred and fifty dollars in cash, and good clothes. I started a
peanut-stand, and sold papers and books, and became a speculator. I heard
two men talking one day at my stall about a railway that was going to run
through a certain village, and how they intended to buy up the whole
place. I had four hundred and fifty dollars then. I went down to that
village, and bought some lots myself. I made four thousand dollars. Then
I sold more books, and went on speculating."

He paused, blew his cigar-smoke slowly from him a moment; then turned
with a quick look to Miss Raglan, and smiled as at some incongruous
thing. He was wondering what would be the effect of his next words.

"When I was about twenty-two, and had ten thousand dollars, I fell in
love. She was a bright-faced, smart girl. Her mother kept a
boarding-house in New York; not an up-town boarding-house. She waited on
table. I suppose a man can be clever in making money, and knowing how to
handle men, and not know much about women. I thought she was worth a good
deal more to me than the ten thousand dollars. She didn't know I had that
money. A drummer--that's a commercial traveller--came along, who had a
salary of, maybe, a thousand dollars a year. She jilted me. She made a
mistake. That year I made twenty-five thousand dollars. I saw her a
couple of years ago. She was keeping a boarding-house too, and her
daughter was waiting on table. I'm sorry for that girl: it isn't any fun
being poor. I didn't take much interest in women after that. I put my
surplus affections into stocks and shares, and bulling and bearing. . .
Well, that is the way the thing has gone till now."

"What became of your father and your brother?" she asked in a neutral

"I don't know anything about my father. He disappeared after I left, and
never turned up again. And Jim--poor Jim!--he was shiftless. Jim was a
tanner. It was no good setting him up in business. Steady income was the
cheapest way. But Jim died of too much time on his hands. His son is in
Mexico somewhere. I sent him there, and I hope he'll stay. If he doesn't,
his salary stops: he is shiftless too. That is not the kind of thing, and
they are not the kind of people you know best, Miss Raglan."

He looked at her, eyes full-front, bravely, honestly, ready to face the
worst. Her head was turned away.

He nodded to himself. It was as he feared.

At that moment a boy came running along the walk towards them, and handed
Mr. Vandewaters a telegram. He gave the lad a few pence, then, with an
apology, opened the telegram. Presently he whistled softly, in a quick
surprised way. Then he stuffed the paper into his waistcoat pocket, threw
away his cigar, and turned to Gracia Raglan, whose face as yet was only
half towards him. "I hope your news is good," she said very quietly.

"Pretty bad, in a way," he answered. "I have lost a couple of
millions--maybe a little more."

She gasped, and turned an astonished face on him. He saw her startled
look, and laughed.

"Does it not worry you?" she asked.

"I have got more important things on hand just now," he answered. "Very
much more important," he added, and there was that in his voice which
made her turn away her head again.

"I suppose," he went on, "that the story you have just heard is not the
kind of an autobiography you would care to have told in your

Still she did not reply; but her hands were clasped tightly in front of
her. "No: I suppose not," he went on--"I--I suppose not. And yet, do you
know, Miss Raglan, I don't feel a bit ashamed of it, after all: which may
be evidence of my lost condition."

Now she turned to him with a wonderful light in her eyes, her sweet,
strong face rich with feeling. She put out her hand to his arm, and
touched it quickly, nervously.

"Your story has touched me inexpressibly," she said. "I did not know that
men could be so strong and frank and courageous as you. I did not know
that men could be so great; that any man could think more of what a woman
thought of--of his life's story--than of"--she paused, and then gave a
trembling little laugh--"of two millions or more."

He got to his feet, and faced her. "You--you are a woman, by heaven!" he
said. "You are finer even than I thought you. I am not worthy to ask you
what I had in my mind to ask you; but there is no man in God's universe
who would prize you as I do. I may be a poor man before sundown. If that
happens, though, I shall remember the place where I had the biggest
moment of my life, and the woman who made that moment possible."

Now she also rose. There was a brave high look in her face; but her voice
shook a little as she said: "You have never been a coward, why be a
coward now?"

Smiling, he slowly answered: "I wouldn't if I were sure about my

She did not reply, but glanced down, not with coquetry, but because she
could not stand the furnace of his eyes.

"You said a moment ago," she ventured, "that you have had one big moment
in your life. Oughtn't it to bring you good fortune?"

"It will--it will," he said, reaching his hand towards hers.

"No, no," she rejoined archly. "I am going. Please do not follow me."
Then, over her shoulder, as she left him: "If you have luck, I shall want
a subscription for my hospital."

"As many thousands as you like," he answered: then, as she sped away: "I
will have her, and the millions too!" adding reminiscently: "Yes, Lady
Lawless, this is my biggest deal."

He tramped to the stables, asked for and got a horse, and rode away to
the railway station. It was dinner time when he got back. He came down to
dinner late, apologising to Lady Lawless as he did so. Glancing across
the table at Mr. Pride, he saw a peculiar excited look in the young man's

"The baby fool!" he said to himself. "He's getting into mischief. I'll
startle him. If he knows that an army of his dollars is playing at
fox-and-geese, he'll not make eyes at Lady Lawless this way--little ass."

Lady Lawless appeared oblivious of the young man's devotional exercises.
She was engaged on a more congenial theme. In spite of Miss Raglan's
excellent acting, she saw that something had occurred. Mr. Vandewaters
was much the same as usual, save that his voice had an added ring. She
was not sure that all was right; but she was determined to know. Sir Duke
was amused generally. He led a pretty by-play with Mrs. Gregory Thorne,
of whom he asked the details of the day, much to the confusion, not
admirably hid, of Mr. Pride; lamenting now and then Mr. Vandewaters's
absence from the shooting.

Mr. Vandewaters was cool enough. He said that he had been playing at
nine-pins with railways, which was good enough sport for him. Soon after
dinner, he was handed two telegrams. He glanced slowly up at Pride, as if
debating whether to tell him something. He evidently decided against it,
and, excusing himself by saying he was off to take a little walk in Wall
Street, went away to the telegraph office, where he stayed three hours.

The magnitude of the concerns, the admirable stoicism with which he
received alarming news, his dry humour while they waited between
messages--all were so unlike anything the telegraph-clerk had ever seen,
or imagined, that the thing was like a preposterous dream. Even when, at
last, a telegram came which the clerk vaguely felt was, somehow, like the
fall of an empire, Mr. Vandewaters remained unmoved. Then he sent one
more telegram, gave the clerk a pound, asked that the reply be sent to
him as soon as it came, and went away, calmly smoking his cigar.

It was a mild night. When he got to the house he found some of the guests
walking on the veranda. He joined them; but Miss Raglan was not with
them; nor were Lady Lawless and Mr. Pride. He wanted to see all three,
and so he went into the house. There was no one in the drawing-room. He
reached the library in time to hear Lady Lawless say to Mr. Pride, who
was disappearing through another door: "You had better ask advice of Mr.

The door closed. Mr. Vandewaters stepped forward.

He understood the situation. "I guess I know how to advise him, Lady
Lawless," he said.

She turned on him quietly, traces of hauteur in her manner. Her
self-pride had been hurt. "You have heard?" she asked.

"Only your last words, Lady Lawless. They were enough. I feel guilty in
having brought him here."

"You need not. I was glad to have your friend. He is young and effusive.
Let us say no more about it.

"He is tragically repentant; which is a pity. There is no reason why he
should not stay, and be sensible. Why should young men lose their heads,
and be so absurdly earnest?"

"Another poser, Lady Lawless."

"In all your life you never misunderstood things so, I am sure."

"Well, there is no virtue in keeping your head steady. I have spent most
of my life wooing Madame Fortune; I find that makes a man canny."

"She has been very kind to you."

"Perhaps it would surprise you if I told you that at this moment I am not
worth ten thousand dollars." She looked greatly astonished. "I do not
understand," she said. She was thinking of what this might mean to Gracia

"You see I've been playing games at a disadvantage with some ruffians at
New York. They have combined and got me into a corner. I have made my
last move. If it comes out right I shall be richer than ever; if not I
must begin all over again."

Lady Lawless looked at him curiously. She had never met a man like him
before. His power seemed almost Napoleonic; his imperturbability was
absolute. Yet she noticed something new in him. On one side a kind of
grim forcefulness; on the other, a quiet sort of human sympathy. The one,
no doubt, had to do with the momentous circumstances amid which he was
placed; the other, with an event which she had, perhaps prematurely,

"I wonder--I wonder at you," she said. "How do you keep so cool while
such tremendous things are happening?"

"Because I believe in myself, Lady Lawless. I have had to take my measure
a good many times in this world. I never was defeated through my own
stupidity. It has been the sheer luck of the game."

"You do not look like a gamester," she said.

"I guess it's all pretty much a game in life, if you look at it right. It
is only a case of playing fair or foul."

"I never heard any Englishmen talk as you do."

"Very likely not," he responded. "I don't want to be unpleasant; but most
Englishmen work things out by the rule their fathers taught them, and not
by native ingenuity. It is native wit that tells in the end, I'm

"Perhaps you are right," she rejoined. "There must be a kind of genius in
it." Here her voice dropped a little lower. "I do not believe there are
many Englishmen, even if they had your dollars--"

"The dollars I had this morning," he interposed.

"--who could have so strongly impressed Gracia Raglan."

He looked thoughtfully on the ground; then raised his eyes to Lady
Lawless, and said in a low, ringing tone:

"Yes, I am going to do more than 'impress': I am going to convince her."

"When?" she asked.

"To-morrow morning, I hope," was the reply. "I believe I shall have my
millions again."

"If you do," she said slowly, "do you not think that you ought to run no
more risks--for her sake?"

"That is just what I mean to do, Lady Lawless. I'll settle millions where
they ought to be settled, drop Wall Street, and--go into training."

"Into training?" she asked.

"Yes, for a house on the Hudson, a villa at Cannes, a residence in
Grosvenor Square, and a place in Devonshire--or somewhere else. Then," he
added, with a twinkle in his eye, "I shall need a good deal of time to
cultivate accent."

"Don't!" she said. "You are much more charming as you are."

They passed into the drawing-room.

"Are these things to be told?" she asked, with a little suggestion in her

"I can trust your discretion."

"Even in such circumstances?" she asked. She paused, with a motion of her
fan back towards the room they had left.

"You have taught him a lesson, Lady Lawless. It is rough on him; but he
needs it."

"I hope he will do nothing rash," she said.

"Perhaps he'll write some poetry, and refuse to consider his natural

"Will you go and see him now?" she asked. "Immediately. Good night, Lady
Lawless." His big hand swallowed hers in a firm, friendly clasp, and he
shook it once or twice before he parted from her. He met Sir Duke Lawless
in the doorway. They greeted cheerfully, and then Lawless came up to his

"Well, my dear," he said, with an amused look in his face, "well, what

She lifted her eyebrows at him.

"Something has happened, Molly, I can see it in your face."

She was very brief. "Gracia Raglan has been conquered; the young man from
Boston has been foolish; and Mr. Vandewaters has lost millions."

"Eh? That's awkward," said Sir Duke.

"Which?" asked his wife.

Vandewaters found Mr. Pride in his bedroom, a waif of melancholy. He drew
a chair up, lighted a cigar, eyed the young man from head to foot, and
then said: "Pride, have you got any backbone? If you have, brace up. You
are ruined. That's about as mild as I can put it."

"You know all?"--said the young man helplessly, his hands clasped between
his knees in aesthetic agony.

"Yes; I know more than you do, as you will find out. You're a nice sort
of man, to come into a man's house, in a strange land, and make love to
his wife. Now, what do you think of yourself? You're a nice
representative of the American, aren't you?"

"I--I didn't mean any harm--I--couldn't help it," replied the stricken

"O, for God's sake, drop that bib-and-tucker twaddle! Couldn't help it!
Every scoundrel, too weak to face the consequences of his sin, says he
couldn't help it. So help me, Joseph, I'd like to thrash you. Couldn't
help it! Now, sit up in your chair, take this cigar, drink this glass of
whiskey I'm pouring for you, and make up your mind that you're going to
be a man and not a nincompoop--sit still! Don't fly up. I mean what I
say. I've got business to talk to you. And make up your mind that, for
once, you have got to take life seriously."

"What right have you to speak to me like this?" demanded the young man
with an attempt at dignity. Vandewaters laughed loudly.

"Right? Great Scott! The right of a man who thinks a damned sight more of
your reputation than you do yourself, and of your fortune than you would
ever have wits to do. I am the best friend you've got, and not the less
your friend because I feel like breaking your ribs. Now, enough of that.
This is what I have to say, Pride: to-night you and I are beggars. You
understand? Beggars. Out in the cold world, out in the street. Now, what
do you think of that?"

The shock to Mr. Pride was great. Mr. Vandewaters had exaggerated the
disaster; but he had done it with a purpose. The youth gasped "My God!"
and dropped his glass. Vandewaters picked it up, and regarded him a
moment in silence. Then he began to explain their financial position. He
did not explain the one bold stroke which he was playing to redeem their
fortunes: if possible. When he had finished the story, he said, "I guess
that's a bit more serious than the little affair in the library half an
hour ago?"

He rose to his feet. "Look here, Pride, be a man. You've never tried it
yet. Let me teach you how to face the world without a dollar; how to make
a fortune. Then, when you've made it, you'll get what you've never had
yet--the pleasure of spending money dug out of your own wits."

He carried conviction into a mind not yet all destroyed by effeminacy and
indulgence of the emotions. Something of the iron of his own brain got
into the brain of the young man, who came to his feet trembling a little,
and said: "I don't mind it so much, if you only stick to me,

A smile flickered about the corners of Vandewaters's mouth.

"Take a little more whiskey," he said; "then get into bed, and go to
sleep. No nonsense, remember; go to sleep. To-morrow morning we will
talk. And see here, my boy,"--he caught him by both arms and fastened his
eyes,--"you have had a lesson: learn it backwards. Good night."

Next morning Mr. Vandewaters was early in the grounds. He chatted with
the gardener, and discussed the merits of the horses with the groom,
apparently at peace with the world. Yet he was watching vigilantly the
carriage-drive from the public-road. Just before breakfast-time a
telegraph messenger appeared. Vandewaters was standing with Sir Duke
Lawless when the message was handed to him. He read it, put it into his
pocket, and went on talking. Presently he said: "My agent is coming from
town this morning, Sir Duke. I may have to leave to-night." Then he
turned, and went to his room.

Lady Lawless had heard his last words.

"What about your ranche in Colorado, Duke?"

"About as sure, I fancy, as your millionaire for Gracia."

Miss Raglan did not appear at breakfast with the rest. Neither did Mr.
Pride, who slept late that morning. About ten o'clock Mr. Vandewaters's
agent arrived. About twelve o'clock Mr. Vandewaters saw Miss Raglan
sitting alone in the library. He was evidently looking for her. He came
up to her quietly, and put a piece of paper in her lap.

"What is this?" she asked, a little startled.

"A thousand for your hospital," was the meaning reply.

She flushed, and came to her feet.

"I have won," he said.

And then he reached out and took both her hands.


   But I don't think it is worth doing twice
   He wishes to be rude to some one, and is disappointed
   I--couldn't help it
   Interfere with people who had a trade and didn't understand it
   Lose their heads, and be so absurdly earnest
   Scoundrel, too weak to face the consequences of his sin

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allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.