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Title: Eden - An Episode
Author: Saltus, Edgar, 1855-1921
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.

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                                         EDEN

                                      AN EPISODE

                                    BY EDGAR SALTUS


    "_Perduto è tutto il tempo che in amar non si spende._"
                                    --Tasso.


CHICAGO, NEW YORK, AND SAN FRANCISCO
BELFORD, CLARKE & COMPANY
PUBLISHERS

Copyright, 1888, by
EDGAR SALTUS


    _TO_ _E----H_ _AMICISSIMA_
    _New York, 15th May, 1888._



EDEN



I.


It was not until Miss Menemon's engagement to John Usselex was made
public that the world in which that young lady moved manifested any
interest in her future husband. Then, abruptly, a variety of rumors were
circulated concerning him. It was said, for instance, that his real name
was Tchurchenthaler and that his boyhood had been passed tending geese
in a remote Bavarian dorf, from which, to avoid military service, he had
subsequently fled. Again, it was affirmed that in Denmark he was known
as Baron Varvedsen, and that he had come to this country not to avoid
military service, but the death penalty, which whoso strikes a prince
of the blood incurs. Others had heard that he was neither Bavarian nor
Dane, but the outlawed nephew of a Flemish money-lender whose case he
had rifled and whose daughter he had debauched. And there were other
people who held that he had found Vienna uninhabitable owing to the
number of persistent creditors which that delightful city contained.

In this conflict of gossip the real facts were as difficult of discovery
as the truth about Kaspar Hauser, and in view of the divergence of
rumors there were people sensible enough to maintain that as these
rumors could not all be true, they might all be false. Among the latter
was Usselex himself. His own account of his antecedents was to the
effect that his father was a Cornishman, his mother a Swiss governess,
and that he had been brought up by the latter in Bâle, from which city
he had at an early age set out to make his fortune. Whether or not this
statement was exact is a matter of minor moment. In any event,
supposing for argument's sake that he had more names than are necessary,
has not Vishnu a thousand? And as for debts, did not Cæsar owe a hundred
million sesterces? But however true or untrue his own account of himself
may have been, certain it was that he spoke three languages with the
same accent, and that a decennary or so after landing at Castle Garden
his name was familiar to everyone connected with banks and banking.

At the time contemporaneous to the episodes with which these pages have
to deal John Usselex had reached that age in which men begin to take an
interest in hair restorers. In his face was the pallor of a plastercast,
his features were correct and coercive, in person he was about the
average height, slim and well-preserved. He carried glasses rimmed with
tortoise-shell. He wore a beard cut fan-shape and a moustache with
drooping ends. Both were gray. In moments of displeasure he smiled, but
behind the glasses no merriment was discernible; when they were removed
his eyes glowed luminous and shrewd, and in them was a glitter that
suggested a reflection caught from the handling and glare of gold. In
the financial acceptation of the term he was good; he was at the head of
a house that possessed the confidence of the Street, his foreign
correspondents were of the best, but in the inner circles of New York
life he was as unknown as Ischwanbrat.

Miss Menemon, on the other hand, had no foreign correspondents, but in
the circles alluded to she was thoroughly at home. Her father, Mr.
Petrus Menemon, was not accounted rich, but he came of excellent stock,
and her mother, long since deceased, had been an Imryck. Now, to be an
Imryck, to say nothing of being a Menemon, is to be Somebody. Miss
Menemon, moreover, was not quite twenty-two years of age. To nine people
out of ten she represented little else than the result of the union of
an Imryck and a Menemon; but to the tenth, particularly when the tenth
happened to be a man, she was as attractive a girl as New York could
produce. As a child she had not been noticeably pretty, but when, as
the phrase is, she came out, she was assuredly fair to see. She was
slight and dark of hair, her face was like the cameo of a Neapolitan
boy, but her eyes were not black, they were of that sultry blue which is
observable in the ascension of tobacco-smoke through a sunbeam; and
about her mouth and in the carriage of her head was something that
reminded you of the alertness and expectancy of a bird. She was not
innocent, if innocence be taken in the sense of ignorance, but she was
clean of mind, of eye, and of tongue. She had been better instructed
than the majority of society girls, or, if not better instructed, at
least she had read more, and this perhaps, because on emerging from the
nursery her father's first care had been to make her unafraid of books.

Petrus Menemon himself was a tall, spare man, scrupulous as to his
dress, and quiet of manner. In his face was the expression of one who is
not altogether satisfied, and yet wishes everyone else to be content. He
had an acquired ignorance which he called agnosticism. He enjoyed the
formidable reputation of being well-read; but it is only just to explain
that he was well read chiefly in the archaic sense--in the bores and
pedants of antiquity. Yet, if his taste was stilted, he made no effort
to inculcate that taste in his daughter; he gave her the run of the
library and allowed her to drag from the Valhalla of the back
books-helves what friends and relatives she chose. Indeed, his attitude
to her was one of habitual indulgence. By nature she was as capricious
as a day in February, a compound of sunlight, of promise, and of snow;
and when she was wilful--and she was often that--he made no effort to
coerce, he argued with her as one might with a grown person, seriously,
and without anger. And something of that seriousness she caught from
him, and with it confidence in his wisdom and trust in his love. To her
thinking no one in all the world was superior to that gentle-mannered
man.

When she left the nursery she was supplied with a governess, and as she
grew older, with masters of different arts and tongues. But as a child
she was often lonely, and the children whom she saw playing in the
streets were to her objects of indignant envy. On Sunday it was her
father's custom to take her to morning service, and afterward to her
grandmother, a lady who lived alone in a giant house in South Washington
Square, in the upper rooms of which the child was persuaded that coffins
lay stored in heaps. During these visits, which were continued every
Sunday until the old lady died, an invariable programme was observed:
the child repeated the catechism, recited a verse from the hymnal, after
which she was gratified with sponge-cake and a glass of milk, and then
was permitted to look at the pictures in a large Bible, in which, by way
of frontispiece, was an engraving of a man with a white beard, whom her
grandmother said was God. Such, with the exception of tiresome
promenades on Second Avenue, where her father's house was situated, such
were her relaxations.

And so it came about that in the enforced loneliness of her childhood
she ransacked a library in which the "Picara Justina" of Fray Andrs
Perez stood side-by-side with the Kalevala, a library in which works
stupid as the Koran and dead as Coptic touched covers with the "Idyls of
the King" and the fabliaux of mediæval France. Soon she had made friends
with the heroes and heroines that are the caryatides of the
book-shelves. In their triumphs she exulted; by their failures she was
depressed. At the age of thirteen she spoke of King Arthur as though he
were her first cousin. The next year she was in love with Amadis of
Gaul.

A little later she hung on the wall of her bedroom a bit of embroidery
of her own manufacture, a square piece of watered silk, on which in bold
relief stood the characters 60 H, a device understood by no one but
herself, one which her imagination had evolved out of the aridity of a
French copy-book, and which each night and each morning said to her,
_Sois sans tache_.

Indeed, her brain had been the haunt of many an odd conceit, the home of
fays and goblins. Her imagination was always a garden to her except
when it happened to be a morass. She had not only castles in Spain, she
had dungeons as well; and of them she was architect, mason, and
inhabitant too. It was her mood--a circumstance aiding--that dowered her
fancy with wings. Now she would be transported to new horizons where
multicolored suns battened on intervales of unsuspected charm, now she
would be tossed into the opacity of an abyss where there would not be so
much as a goaf for resting-place. Now Pleasure would lord the day, now
the sceptre would be held by Pain. As often as not the intonation of a
voice, the expression of a face, any incident however trivial would
suffice, and at once a panorama would unroll, with no one but herself
for spectator. As she grew older her mind became more staid, its changes
and convolutions less frequent. The goblins were replaced by glyptodons,
Perrault by Darwin. But the prismatic quality of her fancy remained
unimpaired. She garmented everyone with its rays. Those who were nearest
to her enjoyed the gayest hues; in others she looked steadfastly for the
best. And yet, in spite of this, or precisely on that account, no one
was ever better able to distort trifles into nuclei of doubt. In brief,
she was March one minute and May the next. Apropos of some
misunderstanding, her father said to her jestingly one day, "Eden, did
you ever hear of such a thing as hemiopia?" The girl shook her head.
"Well," he continued, "there is a disease of that name which affects the
eye in such a manner that only half the object looked at is seen. Don't
you think you had better consult an oculist?"

Meanwhile her education had been completed by Shakspere. Love she had
learned of Juliet, jealousy of Othello. But of despair Hamlet had been
incompetent to teach. She was instinct with generous indignations,
enthusiastic of great deeds, and through the quality of her temperament
unable to reason herself into an understanding of the base. When she
"came out" she found herself unable to share the excited interest which
girls of her age exhibited in Delmonico balls. At the dinners and dances
to which she was bidden, she was chilled at the discovery that
platitude reigned. As a rule, the younger men fought shy of her. She
acquired the reputation of making disquieting answers and remarks of
curious inappositeness. But now and then she met people that found her
singularly attractive and whose hearts went out to her at once, yet
these were always people with whom she fancied herself in sympathetic
rapport.

Among this class was a man who succeeded Amadis. His name was Dugald
Maule; he was six or seven years her senior, and by profession an
attorney and counsellor-at-law. It should be noted, however, that he did
not look like one. He looked like an athlete that had taken honors, a
man to be admired by women and respected by men. In private theatricals
he was much applauded. He had studied law in the hope of being judge,
and in being judge of pronouncing the death sentence. He could imagine
no superber rôle than that. To him, after months of self-examination,
Eden Menemon surrendered her heart. The surrender was indeed difficult,
but as surrenders go it was complete.

The threads by which he succeeded in attaching her to him it is
unnecessary to describe. Suffice it to say that little by little she
grew to believe that in him the impeccable resided. She had accustomed
herself to consider love in the light of a plant which if rightly tended
would bloom into a witherless rose. She had told him this, and together
they had watched the bud expand, and when at last it was fulfilled to
the tips he saw it in her eyes. That evening, when he had gone, the
sense of happiness was so acute that she became quasi-hysterical. The
joy of love, slowly intercepted and then wholly revealed, vibrated
through the chords of her being, overwhelming her with the force of an
unexperienced emotion, and throwing her for relief into a paroxysm of
tears. Then followed a day of wonder, in which hallucinations of delight
alternated with tremors of self-depreciation. It seemed to her that she
was unworthy of such an one as he. For, to her, in her inexperience, he
was perfection indeed, one unsulliable and mailed in right. And then,
abruptly, as such things occur, without so much as a monition, she read
in public print that he had been summoned as a co-respondent. To
overwrought nerves as were hers, the announcement was rapider in its
effect than a microbe. A fever came that was obliterating as the morrow
of steps on the sand. For a week she was delirious, and when at last she
left her room the expression of her face had altered. She felt no anger,
only an immense distrust of the validity of her intuitions. Had Dugald
Maule been in trouble, she would have, if need were, forsaken life for
his sake; but the Dugald Maule for whom she would have been brave had
existed only in her own imagination. It was this that brought the fever,
and when the fever went, disgust came in its place. It was then that the
expression of face altered. She looked like one who is done with love.
Presently, and while she was still convalescent, her father sent her
abroad with friends, and when she returned, Dugald Maule had to her the
reality of a bad dream, a nightmare that she might have experienced in
the broad light of an earlier day.

In the course of that winter it so happened that her father one evening
brought in to dinner a man whom he introduced as Mr. Usselex. Eden had
never seen him before and for the moment she did not experience any
notable desire to see him again. She attended, however, with becoming
grace to the duties of hostess, and as the conversation between her
father and his guest circled in and over stocks, she was not called upon
to contribute to the entertainment. When coffee was served she went to
her own room and promptly forgot that Mr. Usselex existed.

But in a few days there was Crispin again. On this occasion Eden gave
him a larger share of attention than she had previously accorded. There
were certain things that she noticed, there was an atmosphere about him
which differed from that which other men exhaled. In the tones of his
voice were evocations of fancies. He seemed like one who had battled and
had won. There was an unusualness in him which impressed and irritated
her simultaneously. It was annoying to her that he should intrude,
however transiently, into the precincts of her thought. And when he had
gone she took her father to task: "What do you have that man to dinner
for?" she asked. "Who is he?"

Mr. Menemon, who was looking out of the window, announced that it was
snowing, then he turned to her. "Eden," he said, "I am sorry. If you
object he need not come again. Really," he continued, after a moment, "I
wish you could see your way to being civil to him."

"Surely I am that," she answered.

To this Mr. Menemon assented. "The matter is this," he said. "While you
were abroad I became interested in a mine; he is trying to get me out of
it. He is something of a prophet, I take it. Though, as yet," he added
despondently, "his prophecies have not been realized."

"Then he is a philosopher," said Eden, with a smile; and her father,
smiling too, turned again to interview the night.

Thereafter Mr. Usselex was a frequent guest, and presently Eden
discovered that her annoyance had disappeared.

The people whom we admire at first sight are rarely capable of
prolonging that admiration, and when circumstances bring us into contact
with those that have seemed antipathetic, it not infrequently happens
that the antipathy is lost. It was much this way with Eden. Little by
little, through channels unperceived, the early distaste departed.
Hitherto the world had held for her but one class of individuals, the
people whom she liked. All others belonged to the landscape. But this
guest of her father's suggested a new category; he aroused her
curiosity. He left the landscape; he became a blur on it, but a blur on
which she strained her eyes. The antipathy departed, and she discovered
herself taking pleasure in the speech of one who had originally affected
her as a scarabæus must affect the rose.

She discerned in him unsuspected dimensions. He was at home in recondite
matters, and yet capable of shedding new light on threadbare themes.
During discussions between him and her father at which she assisted she
gained an insight into bi-metallism, free trade even, and subjects of
like import, the which hitherto she had regarded as abstract diseases
created for the affliction of politicians and editorial hacks. He was at
home too in larger issues, in the cunning of Ottoman tactics and the
beat of drums at Kandahar. Concerning King Arthur he was vague, but he
had the power to startle her with new perspectives, the possibilities of
dynamics, the abolition of time, the sequestration and conquest of
space. And as he spoke easily, fluently, in the ungesticulatory fashion
of those that know whereof they speak, more than once she fell to
wondering as to the cause of that early dislike. In such wise was
Desdemona won.

It so happened that one evening she chanced to dine with a friend of
hers, Mrs. Nicholas Manhattan by name, a lady whose sources of social
information were large. Among other guests was Alphabet Jones, the
novelist.

"Did you ever hear of Mr. Usselex?" Eden asked, over the sweets.

Mrs. Manhattan visibly drew on the invisible cap of thought. "Never
heard of him," she presently exclaimed, as one who should say, "and for
me not to have heard argues him unknown."

But Jones was there, and he slipped his oar in at once. "I know him,"
he answered. "He is the son of a shoemaker. No end of money! Some years
ago a cashier of his did the embezzlement act, but Usselex declined to
prosecute."

"Yes, that is like him," said Eden.

"Ah! you know him, then?" and Jones looked at her. "Well," he continued,
"the cashier was sent up all the same. He had a wife, it appeared, and
children. Usselex gave them enough to live on, and more too, I believe."

"He must have done it very simply."

"Why, you must know him well!" Jones exclaimed; and the conversation
changed.

Meanwhile winter dragged itself along, and abruptly, as is usual with
our winters, disappeared. In its stead came a spring that was languider
than summer. Fifth Avenue was bright with smart bonnets and gowns of
conservatory hues. During the winter months Mr. Menemon's face had been
distressed as the pavements, but now it was entirely serene.

It was evident to Eden that Mr. Usselex was not a philosopher alone, but
a prophet as well. Concerning him her store of information had
increased.

Toward the end of May her father spoke to her about him and about his
success with the mine. He seemed pleased, yet nervous. "I saw him this
afternoon," he said; "he is to be here shortly. H'm! I am obliged to go
to the club for a moment. Will you--would you mind seeing him in my
absence?" For a moment he moved uneasily about and then left the room.
Eden looked after him in wonder, and took up the _Post_. And as her eyes
loitered over the columns the bell rang; her face flushed, and presently
she was aware of Usselex' presence.

"What is this my father tells me?" she asked, by way of greeting.

"What is it?" he echoed; he had found a chair and sat like Thor in the
court of Utgarda.

"About the mine and all that."

The man eyed her enquiringly for an instant and picked at his cuff.
"Let me ask you a question," he said: "Did your father say nothing
except about the mine?"

"No, not that I remember, except to imply that you--that he--no, he said
nothing worth repeating."

"In finding you alone I supposed he had told you that--"

"That the mine--"

"That I love you."

In the corner of the room was a great colonial clock. Through the
silence that followed it ticked sleepily, as though yawning at the
avowal. Mr. Usselex had bent forward; he watched the girl. She was
occupied in tearing little slips from the paper which lay in her lap.
She did not seem to have heard him at all.

"Miss Menemon," he continued, "I express myself badly. Do not even take
the trouble to say that you do not care for me. It is impossible that
you should. You know nothing of me; you--"

"Oh, but I do though," the girl exclaimed. "The other day, a month or
two ago, I have forgotten, someone said your father was a shoemaker, and
what not about you beside. Oh, I know a great deal--"

"Then, Miss Menemon, you must know the penalty which is paid for
success." He straightened himself, the awkwardness had left him, and he
seemed taller than when he entered the room. "Yes," he continued, "the
door to success is very low, and the greater is he that bends the most.
Let a man succeed in any one thing, and whatever may be the factors with
which that success is achieved, Envy will call a host of enemies into
being as swiftly as Cadmus summoned his soldiery. And these enemies will
come not alone from the outer world, but from the ranks of his nearest
friends. Ruin a man's home, he may forget it. But excel him, do him a
favor, show yourself in any light his superior, then indeed is the
affront great. Mediocrity is unforgiving. We pretend to admire
greatness, but we isolate it and call that isolation Fame. It is above
us; we cannot touch it; but mud is plentiful and that we can throw. And
if no mud be at hand, we can loose that active abstraction, malice,
which subsists on men and things. No; had I an enemy I could wish him no
greater penance than success--success prompt, vertiginous, immense! To
the world, as I have found it, success is a crime, and its atonement,
not death, but torture. Truly, Miss Menemon, humanity is not admirable.
Men mean well enough, no doubt; but nature is against them. Libel is the
tribute that failure pays to success. If I am slandered, it is because I
have succeeded. But what is said of my father is wholly true. He did
make shoes, God bless him! and very good shoes they were. Pardon me for
not having said so before."

Eden listened as were she assisting at the soliloquy of an engastrimuth.
The words he uttered seemed to come less from him than from one unknown
yet not undevined. And now, as he paused for encouragement or rebuke, he
saw that her eyes were in his.

"Miss Menemon," he continued, "forget my outer envelope; if you could
read in my heart, you would find it full of love for you."

"Perhaps," she said, and smiled as at a vista visible only to herself. "I
will tell my father what you say," she added demurely.

With that answer Mr. Usselex was fain to be content. And presently, when
he had gone, she wondered how it was that she had ever cared for Dugald
Maule.

A week later the engagement of Miss Menemon to John Usselex was
announced. Much comment was excited, and the rumors alluded to were
industriously circulated. But comment and rumors notwithstanding, the
marriage took place, and after it the bride left her father's dingy
little house on Second Avenue for a newer and larger one on Fifth. Many
people had envied Usselex his wealth; on that day they envied him his
bride.



II.


It was late in November before Eden found herself in full possession of
her new home. Shortly after the ceremony she had gone to Newport, and
when summer departed she made for Lennox, which she deserted for
Tuxedo. It was therefore not until the beginning of winter that the
brown hollands were removed from her town residence.

During the intervening months she had been wholly content. She had not
led the existence of which at sixteen she had dreamed in the recesses of
her father's library, nor yet such an one as Dugald Maule had had the
ability to suggest. On the other hand, she had for her husband something
that was more than love. She regarded him as one of the coefficients of
the age. Among the rumors which her engagement created was one to the
effect that she was to be used as Open Sesame to doors hitherto closed
to him; and this rumor, like the others, some fair little demon of a
friend had whispered in her ear. But the possibility of such a _quid pro
quo_ had left her undisturbed. If a privilege paltry as that were hers
to bestow, there was indeed no reason why she should begrudge it.

It so happened, however, that she was not called upon to make the
slightest effort in that direction. Everybody discussed the marriage,
and at the wedding, as is usually the case, the front seats were
occupied by those who had said the most in its disfavor. At Newport
there was a fleeting hesitation. But the exclusion of the bride from
entertainments being practically impossible, and moreover, as it is not
considered seemly to invite a wife and overlook a husband, both were
bidden; and to the surprise of many it was discovered that Usselex had
not only as fine an air as many of the foreign noblemen that passed that
way, but that he even possessed a keener appreciation of
conventionalities. Added to this his wealth was reported to be fabulous.
What more could Newport ask? If his origin was more or less dubious,
were there not many whose origins were worse than dubious, whose origins
were _known_? Indeed, not everyone was qualified to throw a stone, and
gradually any thought of stone-throwing was dismissed. His opponents
became his supporters, and after the _villegiatura_ at Lennox and at
Tuxedo no further question was raised.

In returning to town therefore, Eden was wholly content. She had married
a man of whom she was proud, a man who, while subservient to her
slightest wish, had taught her what love might be. Altogether, the world
seemed larger, and she felt fully prepared to do her duty in that sphere
of life to which God had called her.

That sphere of life, she presently discovered, was to be co-tenanted by
her husband's secretary. Usselex had mentioned his existence on more
than one incidental occasion, but after each mention the actuality of
that existence had escaped her; and a week or so after her return to
town she found herself mediocrally pleased at learning that he would
probably be a frequent guest at her dinner-table.

In answer to the query which her eyebrows took on at this intelligence,
Usselex explained that now and then, through stress of business, he was
in Wall Street unable to provide the individual in question with his
fullest instructions, and for that reason it was expedient for him to
have the man of an evening at the house. Immediately Eden's fancy evoked
the confidential clerk of the London stage, a withered bookkeeper, shiny
of garment, awkward of manner, round of shoulder, square of nail,
explosive with figures, and covered with warts, and on the evening in
which the secretary was to make his initial appearance she weaponed
herself with a vinaigrette.

But of the vinaigrette she had no need whatever. The secretary entered
the drawing-room with the unembarrassed step of a somnambulist. His
manner was that of one aware that the best manner consists in the
absence of any at all. His coat might have come from Piccadilly, and
when he found a seat Eden noticed that the soles of his shoes were
veneered in black. In brief, he looked well-bred and well-groomed. He
was young, twenty-three or twenty-four at most. His head was massive,
and his features were pagan in their correctness. The jaw was a
masterpiece; it gave the impression of reservoirs of interior strength,
an impression which was tempered when he spoke, for his voice was low
and unsonorous as a muffled bell. His eyes were of that green-gray which
is caught in an icicle held over grass. And in them and about his mouth
something there was that suggested that he could never be brutal and
seldom tender.

At table he made no remark worthy of record. He seemed better content to
watch Eden than to speak. He ate little and drank less, and when the
meal was done and Eden left him to her husband and the presumable cigar,
she made up her mind that he was stupid.

"He is a German," she reflected; "with such a name as Adrian Arnswald he
must be. H'm. The only German I ever liked was a Frenchman, the author
of the Reisebilder. Well, there seems to be no bilder of any kind in
him." She picked up the _Post_ and promptly lost herself in a review of
the opera. "There," she mused, "I forgot Wagner. After all, as some one
said of the Scotch, you can do a good deal with a German if you catch
him young. Mr. Arnswald does not appear to have been caught in time."
She threw the paper from her and seated herself at the piano. For a
moment her fingers strayed over the keys, and then, in answer to some
evoking chord, she attacked the _Ernani involami_, than which few
melodies are richer in appeal. Her voice was not of the bravura quality,
the lower register was not full, and the staccati notes were beyond her
range; a professor from a conservatory would have disapproved of her
method as he would have disapproved of that of the ruiceñor. But then
the ruiceñor sings out of sheer wantonness, because it cannot help it;
and so did she.

And as she sang, anyone who had chanced that way would have accounted
her fair to see. Her gown was black, glittered with jet, about her
throat was a string of pearls, her arms were bare, the wrists
unbraceleted, and in her face that beauty of youth and of fragility
which refinement heightens and which eclipses the ruddier
characteristics of the buxom models of the past. An artist might not
have given her a second glance, a poet would have adored her at the
first. And as she still sang, Arnswald entered the room and approached
the piano at which she sat.

She heard his steps and turned at once expectant of Usselex. Then,
seeing that he was alone, "What have you done with my husband?" she
asked.

"Nothing," the young man answered. "Nothing at all. A gentleman, a
customer, I fancy, sent in his card, and I left him to him." He found a
seat and eyed her gravely. "If I disturb you--"

"Oh, you don't disturb me in the least. What makes you look as though
you came from another planet?"

"What makes _you_ look as though you were going to one?"

Mr. Arnswald is passably impertinent, thought Eden; but the expression
of his face was so reassuringly devoid of any non-conventional symptom
that she laughed outright at the compliment. "Do you care for music?"
she asked.

"Surely, Mrs. Usselex."

"Yes, of course. I forgot. All Germans do. Tell me, how long have you
been in this country? How do you come to speak German without an
accent?"

"I was born here, Mrs. Usselex."

"You were born here! I thought you were a German. Why didn't you tell
me?"

"You did not do me the honor to ask."

"But your father was, wasn't he?"

"No, my father was a Russian, I think."

"You think? Why do you say you think? Don't you know? I never knew
anyone so absurd."

"My father died when I was very young, Mrs. Usselex. I do not remember
him."

"But your mother could have told you--"

"If she didn't, Mrs. Usselex, it was because she had a good excuse."

"What was that?"

"She died also."

"Mr. Arnswald, I am sorry. I had no right to ask such thoughtless
questions. My mother died too. I do not remember her either. Truly you
must forgive me." And as she spoke she rose from the piano and reseated
herself at the lounge which she had previously vacated. "Tell me about
yourself," she added. "I am not asking out of idle curiosity."

"You are very good to express any interest, Mrs. Usselex. But really
there is little to tell. I used to live in Massachusetts, in Salem, with
my grand-parents and my sister. You can see Salem from here, and you can
understand what a boy's life in such a place must be. Afterwards I was
sent to school, and later I went abroad. When I returned Mr. Usselex
took me in his office. I have been there ever since. He has been very
kind to me, Mr. Usselex has."

"He says--how is it he puts it?--oh, he says you have the genius of
finance."

"I can only repeat that he is very kind."

To this Eden assented. "Yes, he is that," she said, and hesitated for a
moment. "Tell me," she added. "You said you were fond of music. Will you
go with us on Monday to the opera?"

This invitation was accepted with the same readiness as that with which
it was made. And presently the young man took his leave. When the
portière fell behind him, Eden felt a momentary uneasiness at the
unpremeditated invitation which she had just extended. One doesn't need
to be a German to be stupid, she mused, and felt sure that her husband
would disapprove. But when she told him he expressed himself as well
pleased.

The next day happened to be Sunday, and on that afternoon Mr. Arnswald
came to pay his dinner-call. Meanwhile Eden's imagination had been at
work. Now imagination is a force of which the action is as varied as
that of volition. There are organizations which it affects like a
dissolvent, there are others which it affects like wine. In some it
needs a spur, in others a curb. Give it an incident for incubator, and
according to the nature of the individual it will soar full-feathered
into space or addle in its own inaction. In Eden its gestation was
always abrupt. With a fact for matrix it developed as rapidly as a spark
mounts into flame. The fact in this instance was Arnswald.

When he left her the night before, she had gone again to the piano, her
fingers had fluttered like butterflies over the keys, then in answer to
some strain, an aria from the _Regina di Golconda_ had visited her--the
_Bel paese, ciel ridente_, which she had hummed softly to herself,
unconscious of any significance in the words. But presently she fell to
wondering about the fair land, the fairer sky which the song recalled.
Something there was that kept telling her that she had met Adrian
before. In his voice she had caught an inflection that was not
unfamiliar to her. In the polar-light of his eyes was a suggestion of
earlier acquaintance. His infrequent gestures brought her the shadow of
a reminiscence. And in his face there was an expression that haunted
her. For a while she struggled with memory. But memory is a magician
that declines to be coerced. Now and then it will pull its victim by the
sleeve, as it had pulled at Eden, yet turn to interrogate and a dream is
not more evanescent. But still she struggled with it. A silence, an
attitude, a combination purely atmospheric had evoked a charm, and
though memory declined to return and undo the spell, still she labored
until at last, conscious of the futility of the effort, or else wearied
by the endeavor, she consoled herself as in similar circumstances we all
of us have done with the mirage of anterior life.

The possibility of recognition she then put behind her, but the man
remained. There was a magnificence about him which disconcerted her, an
air that appealed. In some way his evening dress had seemed an
incongruity. She told herself that he would look better in a silken
pourpoint, and better still in the chlamys-robe of state. She decided
that he needed a dash of color, some swirling plume of red, and fell to
wondering what his life had been. It was evident to her that he had been
gently bred. About him the feminine influence was discernible, one no
doubt which begun at the cradle had continued ever since. In the absence
of a mother there had been someone else, a sister, perhaps, and a
procession of sweethearts to whom he had been swain. But the latter
possibility she presently dismissed. Love-making is the occupation of
those that have none, and Arnswald's hours were seemingly well-filled.
In Salem he might have left a combustible maiden, he might even have
found one in New York, but in that case Eden felt tolerably sure that he
had little time in which to apply the match. And then at once her fancy
took a tangential flight; a little romance unrolled before her--the
mating of Arnswald to some charming girl whom she would herself
discover, and the life-long friendship that would ensue.

On the following afternoon therefore, when the young man put in an
appearance, he was received with unaffected cordiality.

"I have been thinking about you," Eden announced, when he found a seat.
"I am glad you came, I want you to tell me more of yourself."

"I reproached myself for having exhausted your patience last evening,"
he answered.

"Then you deserve to be punished. You go with us to the opera to-morrow,
do you not? Very good, you must dine with us first. There is a friend of
mine whom you will meet there. I want you to like her."

"If she resembles you in any way that will not be difficult."

"He begins well," mused Eden, and a layer of cordiality dropped from
her. But presently she recovered it. Arnswald had been looking in her
face, and the change in its expression had not passed unobserved.

"I mean," he continued, "that there are people that make you like them
at first sight and you, Mrs. Usselex, are one of those people. When I
left you last evening I told myself that you exhaled a sympathy which is
as rare as it is delightful. I have met few such as you. As a rule the
people I have been brought in contact with have been hard and
self-engrossed. You are among the exceptions, and it is the
exception----"

Eden interrupted him. "Now that is nonsense," she said severely. "The
people whom we can like are not as infrequent as all that. Do you mean
to tell me that there is no one for whom you really care?"

Arnswald shook his head and smiled. "No, Mrs. Usselex," he answered, "I
don't mean to say that. There are some for whom I care very much. There
is even one for whom were it necessary I would lay down life itself."

At this Eden experienced a mental start. The possibility of mating him
to some charming girl whom she was herself to discover had suddenly
become remote. But she nodded encouragingly to the confidence.

"Yes," he continued, and into his polar-eyes came a sudden flicker.
"Yes, there is one whom I have recently come to know and who is to me as
a prayer fulfilled. Were I called upon to make a sacrifice for her, no
matter what the nature of that sacrifice might be, the mere doing of it
would constitute a well-spring of delight."

Eden smiled at the dithyramb as were she listening to some fay she did
not see. Arnswald had been looking at her, but now, as though ashamed of
the outburst, he affected a little laugh and dropped back into the
conventional. Presently he rose and took his polar-eyes away. When he
had gone Eden smiled again. "He may have the genius of finance," she
mused, "but he has the genius of love as well."



III.


Eden had but recently returned to town and the claims of mantua-makers
and milliners were oppressive. They took her time, they came to her in
the morning, and she, with the courtesy of kings, returned the visit in
the afternoon. But to little purpose. They were vexatious people, she
discovered. They deceived her wantonly. They promised and did not
fulfill. The live-long day they had irritated her, they had obtained her
confidence by false pretences, and now, after a round of interviews each
more profitless than the last, on reaching her house the dust of shops
was on her mantle, and she could have gone in a corner and sworn.

Moreover it was late, dinner would presently be served. Arnswald, she
learned, had already arrived, he was in the parlor with her husband, and
as she hurried to her room she told herself that she would have to dress
in haste, an operation which to her was always fertile in annoyance. An
entire hour was never too much. But her maid was agile, dexterous of
hand, and before the clock marked seven she was fully equipped, arrayed
for dinner and the opera as well.

On leaving the room, Eden left her vexation behind her. It had been
fleeting and inoffensive as the anger of a canary. And now, on
descending the stairs, she was in great good spirits again, the crimes
of mantua-makers and milliners were forgotten, and she prepared to meet
her husband and her guest. Half-way on her journey to the drawing-room,
however, she discovered that she was empty-handed; she had omitted to
take a fan and she called to her maid to bring her one. And as she
called the front door-bell rang. She hesitated a second, and called
again. But presumably the maid did not hear. Thereupon Eden re-ascended
the stairs and went back to her room.

The maid was busying herself in a closet and the fan was on the table;
Eden picked it up, and as she did so she noticed that one of the sticks
was broken. It took several minutes to find another which suited her
gown, and when she again descended the stair some little time had
intervened.

On reaching the parlor she drew the portière aside and peered into the
room. At the furthermost end stood Arnswald, his back turned to her, and
near him in a low arm-chair was her husband. He seemed to be reading
something, and it was evident that her entrance had been unobserved
either by him or by his guest.

For a second's space Eden stood very still. There was much of the child
in her nature, and during that second she meditated on the feasibility
of giving them both some little surprise. Then at once, as though
impelled by invisible springs, she crossed the room very swiftly, very
noiselessly, her fan and the fold of her dress in one hand, the other
free for mischief, and just when she reached the chair in which her
husband sat, she bent over him, from his unwarned fingers she snatched a
note, and with a rippling laugh that was like the shiver of sound on the
strings of a guitar, she waved it exultingly in the air.

Mr. Usselex looked up at once, but he had looked too late; the note had
gone from him. He started, he made a movement to repossess himself of
it, but Eden, with the ripple still in her voice, stepped back, laughed
again, and nodded to Arnswald, who had turned and bowed. "What is it?"
she cried; "what have you two been concocting? No, you don't," she
continued. Her voice was unsteady with merriment, her eyes wickedly
jubilant. Usselex had made another attempt to recapture the letter, and
flaunting it, Tantalus-fashion, above her head, she defied and eluded
him, gliding backwards, her head held like a swan's, a trifle to one
side. "No, you don't," she repeated, and still the laughter rippled from
her.

"Eden!" her husband expostulated, "Eden--"

"You shall not have it, sir; you shall not." And with a pirouette she
fluttered yet further away, the bit of paper held daintily and aloft
between forefinger and thumb. "Tell me this instant what you have been
doing all day. There, you needn't look at Mr. Arnswald. He won't help
you. Will you, Mr. Arnswald? Of course you won't."

Usselex, conscious of the futility of pursuit, made no further effort.
In his face was an anxiety which his fair tormentor did not see. Once he
turned to Arnswald, and Arnswald gave him an answering glance, and once
his lips moved, but whatever he may have intended to say the words must
have stuck in his throat. And Eden, woman-like, seeing that she was no
longer pursued, advanced to a spot just beyond his reach, where she
hovered tauntingly, yet wary of his slightest movement and prepared at
the first suspicion of reprisal to spread her wings in flight.

"And who do you suppose was here at lunch to-day? You must guess or you
shan't have your letter back. I'll give you just one minute. Oh! I saw
Laura Manhattan at Fantasia's. Don't forget that we are to dine with her
to-morrow. She came in to row about a dress. I was rowing, too. You have
no idea what a day I have had. You will have to give Fantasia a talking
to. Look at the frippery I have on. And she promised that I should have
something for to-night. There ought to be some punishment for such
people. Don't you think so, Mr. Arnswald? When people in Wall Street
don't keep their promises, they are put in jail, aren't they? Well, jail
is too good for that horrid old French-woman of a dressmaker, she ought
to have the thumb-screws, the rack, and the hot side of the fagot. I
will never believe her again, no, not even when I know she is telling
the truth. She is the most ornamental liar I ever encountered. It is my
opinion she would rather lie than not. Laura told me--but here, the
minute's up--you must guess, you must guess rightly, and you can only
guess once."

And Eden waved the letter again and laughed in her husband's beard.

The gown which she wore, and which she had characterized as frippery,
was an artful combination of tulle and of silk; it was colorless, yet
silvery, and in it Eden, bare of arm and of neck, looked a water nymph
garmented in sheen and foam. From her hair came an odor of distant
oases. In her eyes were evocations of summer, and beneath them, on her
cheeks and on the lobes of her ears, health had placed its token in
pink. The corners of her mouth were upraised like the ends of the Greek
bow, and now that she was laughing her lips suggested a red fruit cut
in twain. She was the personification of caprice, adorably constructed,
and constructed to be adored. Arnswald evidently found her appearance
alluring, for his eyes followed her every movement.

"Hurry up," she continued, as merrily as before; "the minute's gone."

Usselex may have been annoyed, but he affected to enter into the jest.
"Your father--" he hazarded, and stretched his hand for the note.

But Eden again retreated. "You have lost," she cried; "no one was here."
And finding herself at a safe distance, "I am a better guesser than
you," she added, "I can tell what is in this letter without reading it.
Now answer me, what will you give me if I do? What ought he to give me,
Mr. Arnswald? Prompt him, can't you? I have never seen anyone so
stupid."

"Give it to me, Eden; you shall make your own terms----"

"Ah! you capitulate, do you? It's too late! It's too late!" she repeated
in ringing crescendo. "You ought to have guessed;" and for greater
safety she held the letter behind her. "It's about stocks, Kansas-back
bonds, seven sights offered and nothing bid--I have guessed right, have
I not?"

"Eden--"

"Answer me; I have guessed right, I know I have." And laughing still,
she whisked the letter from behind her and held it to her eyes. "Why,
it's from a woman," she cried. "What is this? 'You have filled my life
with living springs.' Whose life have you filled?"

The merriment had deserted her lips, the color had gone from her cheeks.
The hand which held the letter fell with it to her side. In her face was
the contraction of pain. She looked at her husband. "Whose life is it
that you have filled?" she asked, and her voice, that had rippled with
laughter a moment before, became suddenly chill and subdued.

In the doorway before her the butler appeared in silent announcement
that dinner was served.

Arnswald made a step forward. "The letter is mine, Mrs. Usselex," he
said, "I--"

"Oh," she murmured, with a sigh that might have been accounted one of
relief. "Oh, it is yours, is it?" And eying him inquisitorially for a
second's space, she placed the letter in his hand.

"We may as well go in to dinner," she added at once, and with a glance
at her husband she led the way.



IV.


In Dogian days there was a Libro d'Oro in which the First Families of
Venice were inscribed in illuminated script. In New York there is also a
Golden Book, unwritten, yet voiced, and whoso's name appears thereon has
earned the cataloguing not from the idlesse of imbecile forefathers, but
from shrewdness in coping with the public, forethought in the Stock
Exchange, and prescience in the values of land and grain.

At the opera that night the aristocrats of the New World were in full
force. Among them were men who could not alone have wedded the Adriatic
but have dowered her as well. Venice in her greatest splendor had never
dreamed such wealth as theirs. There was Jabez Robinson, his wife and
children, familiarly known as the Swiss Family Robinson, the founder of
their dynasty having emigrated from some Helvetian vale. A lightning
calculator might have passed a week in the summing up of their
possessions. There was old Jerolomon, who through the manipulation of
monopolies exhaled an odor of Sing-Sing, the which had been so
attractive to the nostrils of an English peer that he had taken his
daughter as wife. There was Madden, who controlled an entire state.
There was Bucholz, who declared himself Above the Law, and who had
erupted in New York three decades before with the seven sins for sole
capital. There was Bleecker Bleecker, who each year gave away a pope's
ransom to charity and pursued his debtors to the grave. There was
Dunwoodie, whose coat smelled of benzine and whose signature was potent
as a king's. There was Forbush, who lunched furtively on an apple and
had given a private establishment to each one of his twelve children.
There was Gwathmeys, who had twice ruined himself for his enemies and
made a fortune from his friends. There was Attersol, who could have
bought the White House and whose sole pleasures were window-gardening
and the accord of violins.

On the grand-tier was Mrs. Besalul, on whom society had shut its door
because she had omitted to close her own. In an adjoining box was Mrs.
Smithwick, the bride of a month, fairer than that queen whose face was
worth the world to kiss, and who the previous winter had written a novel
of such impropriety that when it was published her mother forbade her to
read it. There was Miss Pickett, a débutante, who possessed the
disquieting ugliness of a monkey and who had announced that there was
nothing so immoral as ennui. There was Mrs. Bouvery, who claimed
connection with every one whose name began with Van. Mrs. Hackensack,
one of the few surviving Knickerbockers. The Coenties twins, known as
Dry and Extra Mumm. And there were others less interesting. Mrs.
Ponder, for instance, famous for her musicales, which no one could be
bribed to attend. Mrs. Skolfield, who was so icy in her manner that a
poet who had once ventured her way, had caught a cold in his head which
lasted a week. Mrs. Nevers, mailed in diamonds; Mrs. Goodloe, mailed in
pearls; and a senator's wife in a bonnet.

The only empty box in the house was owned by Mr. Incoul, then abroad on
his honeymoon.

And in and out through these boxes sauntered a contingent of men,
well-groomed, white of glove, and flowered as to their button-holes.
Among them was Harry Tandem, who had inaugurated silver studs. Brewster,
who had invented a new figure for the cotillion, and with him Harrison
Felton, the maëstro of that decadent dance. There was George Rerick, who
stuttered to the débutantes as he had stuttered to their mothers before
them. Furman Fellowes, who told fairy tales to impressionable young
girls, and who would presently get drunk in Sixth Avenue. Jack Rodney,
M. F. H., and Alphabet Jones, the novelist, in search of points.

As Eden entered the vestibule of her box the curtain had parted on the
second act. A Miss Bolten and her mother whom she had invited had
already arrived, and Arnswald, she noticed, went immediately forward to
salute them; then returning, he assisted her with her wrap. In a moment
the vestibule was invaded by Jones; and Eden, after a word or two to her
guests, settled herself in the front of the box and promenaded her
opera-glass about the house. The promenade completed, she lowered it to
the stalls. Near the orchestra a woman sat gazing fixedly at her. There
was nothing remarkable about the woman. She was as well dressed, as
young, and as pretty as were the majority of those present; it was the
singularity of her attitude that arrested Eden's attention. But that
attention she was not permitted to prolong. The adjoining box, the
occupants of which she had not yet noticed, was tenanted by Mrs.
Manhattan, who now claimed her recognition with some little feminine
word of greeting. On one side of Mrs. Manhattan was an elderly man whom
Eden did not remember to have seen before, and behind her stood Dugald
Maule.

"Eden," whispered Mrs. Manhattan, "I want you to know Mr. Maule's uncle;
he has been minister abroad you know;" and so saying, with a motion of
her head, she designated the elderly man at her side. "He says," she
added, "that you are the most appetizing thing he has seen."

At the brusqueness of the remark Eden started as from a sting. The old
gentleman leaned forward.

"Don't be annoyed, my dear," he mumbled; "I was in love with your
mother."

Then with an amiable commonplace the old beau bowed and moved back.

Maule bowed also, and presently, taking advantage of a _recitative_, he
left Mrs. Manhattan and entered Eden's box. He seemed at home at once.
He shook Mr. Usselex by the hand, saluted Miss Bolten and her mother,
ignored Jones, and dislodging Arnswald, took his seat.

"The season promises well," he whispered confidentially to Eden.

Jones, who had not accorded the slightest attention to Maule, was
discoursing in an animated fashion with Miss Bolten. On the stage in a
canvas forest a man stood, open-mouthed, raising and lowering his right
arm at regular intervals; and next to her Eden caught the motion of Mrs.
Manhattan's fan.

"No," she heard Jones say, "I have every reason to doubt that Shakspere
was the author of Hamlet. In the first place--"

"Ah!" murmured Miss Bolten. She did not appear particularly interested
in Jones or in the man on the stage. She was occupied in scrutinizing
the occupants of the different boxes. "And whom do you suspect?" she
asked, her eyes foraging an opposite _baignoire_.

"Another man with the same name," Jones answered, and laughed a little
to himself.

Eden tapped him on the sleeve. "Mr. Jones."

"Yes, Mrs. Usselex."

"Look in the orchestra, in the third row, the aisle seat on the left."

"Yes, Mrs. Usselex."

"There is a woman looking up here. She has just turned her head. Do you
see her?"

"That woman with the blonde hair?"

"Yes; do you know her?"

"No, I can't say I know her. But I know who she is--"

"Who is she?"

"She has an apartment at the Ranleigh. Her name is Mrs. Feverill. She is
a grass widow; rather fly, I fancy----"

"H'm;" said Eden, "I am sure I don't know what you mean by 'fly.' There,
it isn't necessary to explain----" She turned her head--"Mr. Arnswald,
would you mind getting me my cloak, there seems to be a draught."

Arnswald, who had been loitering in the rear of the box, went back into
the vestibule in search of the garment.

On the stage the tenor in green and gold was still gesticulating,
open-mouthed as before, and presently there came a blare of trumpets, a
shudder of brass, dominated by the cry of violins, and abruptly the
curtain fell.

Arnswald advanced with the cloak, and Jones stood up. The latter said
some parting word to Miss Bolten and to her mother, bent over Eden's
hand and left the box. Arnswald dropped in the seat which he had
vacated. It was evident at once that he and Miss Bolten had met before.
He had leaned forward, and was whispering in her ear.

"Eden," Maule began, "do you remember that ring you gave me?"

"Mr. Maule, you forget many things----"

"Why do you call me Mr. Maule? there was a time----"

"Yes, there was a time, as you say; but that time is no longer."

"You have something against me."

"I? Nothing in the world."

"Ah, but Eden, you have, though; that is evident: when I last saw
you----"

"The next day I learned your reputation. It is deplorable."

"When I last saw you you gave me a ring. A serpent with its tail in its
mouth. You said it meant eternity."

"Yes, I know I did; but----"

"Did it mean nothing as well?"

"A circle represents zero, does it not?"

"Eden, Eden, how cruel you can be! Will you not let me see you?"

"Certainly, I am at home on Saturdays."

"Yes, I know--Saturday is Fifth Avenue day. Eden, tell me, do you
remember Second Avenue?"

From the orchestra came a murmur, a consonance of harps and of flutes.
The curtain had parted again.

"No," she answered; "I have forgotten."

"Surely----"

"Yes, I have forgotten. It is good to forget. This is the last act, is
it not?"

"No, it is the prologue."

The speech was as significant as her own. For a second he was silent,
and bit his under lip. Then, as Jones had done before, he stood up.

"I will come," he muttered in her ear, "but not on Saturday."

"Good-night, Mr. Maule."

"Good-night, Mrs. Usselex."

With a circular salute to the other occupants, Maule left the box.
Presently it was invaded by other visitors of whom no particular
mention is necessary. At last there was a wail and final crash in the
orchestra. The opera was done.

On the way home Usselex questioned his wife. "Who is that man Maule?" he
asked.

"Miss Bolten is interested in him, I believe."

"I hope not," Usselex returned; "he has a bad face."



V.


The next morning Eden awoke in her great room that overlooked Fifth
Avenue. The night had been constellated with dreams, and now as they
faded from her there was one that lingered behind. Through a rift of
consciousness she had seen herself talking with feverish animation to
Arnswald, on some subject of vital importance, the which, however, she
was unable to recall; it had gone with the night, leaving on the camera
of memory only the tableau behind. For a little space she groped after
it unavailingly, and then dismissed it from her. But still the tableau
lingered until it became obscured by her own vexation. She felt annoyed
as at an impertinence. What right had Arnswald to trespass in her
dreams?

She rang the bell, and when in answer to the summons her maid appeared,
she gave herself up to the woman's ministrations. The annoyance faded as
the dream had done, and she fell to thinking of the day and of her
husband. At one there was a luncheon at which she was expected, and in
the evening there was a dinner at Mrs. Manhattan's. Her husband, she
knew, had gone to his office hours ago and would not return until late.
It had occurred to her before that he worked harder than his clerks;
even Arnswald seemed to have more leisure than he. But on this
particular forenoon, when her equipment was completed, but one idea
channeled her ruminations, and that was that if her husband worked
harder than his clerks, it was because of her.

She smiled a little at the thought, and then at herself in the mirror.
Truly the guests at the luncheon might have been recruited from the four
quarters of the globe, and few could be fairer than she. She was
contented with her appearance, not in any sense because it might
eclipse that of other women, but because he was proud of it, and because
his pride and laborious days were all in all for her. She gave to her
gown and to the arrangement of her hair that _coup de maître_ which no
maid, however expert, is able to administer, and presently had herself
driven up the avenue to the house at which she was to be entertained.

The luncheon, as the phrase is, went off very well. Made up of fresh
gossip and new dishes, it was stupid yet agreeable, as women's luncheons
are apt to be. But on leaving it Eden felt depressed. It was the first
of the kind which in her quality of married woman she had attended, and
as her carriage rolled down the avenue again, she wondered were it
possible that such things as she heard could be true, the story that had
been told about Viola Raritan, for instance, and the general agreement
following it that married men were the worst[1]. Surely, she told
herself, they might be, all of them indeed save one, who was above
reproach. As for her recent companions, they discredited virtue in
seeming to possess it. At the memory of things they had implied, the
color mounted to her cheeks.

[Footnote 1: The reader is referred to _The truth about Tristrem
Varick_.]

On the opposite sidewalk a girl was loitering. For a second, Eden,
through the open window, eyed her gown. She raised some flowers to her
face, and when she put them down again her face was white. Through the
window she had seen a cab pass, and in the cab her husband and a woman.

In a conflict of emotions such as visit those who learn the dishonor and
the death of one they cherished most, Eden reached her door. She left
the carriage before the groom had descended from the box, and hurried
into the house. There she entered the drawing-room and sought for a
moment to collect her thoughts. It was impossible, she kept telling
herself, that such a thing could be. She had been mistaken; it was not
her husband that she had seen, and if it were her husband then was he on
some errand as innocent as her own. But it was her husband. The effort
she was making to deceive herself was useless as broken glass. And as
for the woman with whom he was driving, what had he to do with her or
she with him? She was certain she had seen her face before.

In her nervousness she rose from her seat and paced the room, tearing
her gloves off and tossing them from her as she walked.

In the lives of most of us there are hours of such distress that in
search of a palliative we strive as best we may to cheat ourselves into
thinking that the distress is but a phase of our own individual
imagination, close-locked therein, barred out of real existence, and
unimportant and delusive as the creations of dream. And as Eden paced
the room she tried to feel that her distress was but a figment of fancy,
an illusory representation evoked out of nothing. She had been enervated
by the gossip of the lunch-table; a child startled by the possible
horrors of a dark closet was never more absurd than she. It was nonsense
to suppose that a man such as her husband could be capable of a vulgar
intrigue.

On the mantel a clock ticked dolently, as though in sympathy with her
woe, and presently to her inattentive ears, it rang out four times. In
an hour, she reflected, in two hours at most, he would return. She would
ask him where he had been, and everything would be explained. It was
nonsense for her to torment herself. Of course it would be explained,
and meanwhile----

And as she determined that meanwhile she would give the matter no
further thought the butler entered the room, bearing a note on a salver,
which he gave to her and withdrew. The superscription was in her
husband's handwriting and she pulled the envelope apart, confident that
the explanation for which she sought was contained therein. But in it no
explanation was visible. It was dated from Wall Street. "Dearest Eden,"
it ran, "I am detained on business. Send excuses to Mrs. Manhattan. In
haste, as ever, J. U."

"Detained on business," she repeated aloud very firmly and pressed her
hand to her head. She was calm, less agitated than she had been before.
It behooved her to determine what she should do. Seemingly, but one
course was open to her, and suddenly she perceived that she had stopped
thinking. Night had seized and surrounded her; it was of this, perhaps,
that she had spoken to Arnswald in her dream.

In the morning her faith had been unobscured, confident as a flower at
dawn. Then doubt had come, and now, as the afternoon departed, so did
all belief as well. It was no more hers to recall than the promise of an
earlier day. She had done her best to detain it, she had clutched it;
but she had questioned, and faith is impatient of coercion and restless
if examined. Save its own fair face it brings no letter of introduction;
welcome it for that, and it is at once at home; but look askance, and it
dissolves into a memory and a reproach. Eden had startled it,
unwittingly perhaps; but she had startled it none the less. It had
watched its opportunity as a guest illy treated may watch for his; and
when suspicion, like the lackey that it is, had held the door ajar, it
had eluded her and gone.

Automatically, as though others than herself guided her movement, Eden
touched a bell. "Harris," she said, when the man appeared, "go to Mrs.
Manhattan's and say that Mr. Usselex and myself are unavoidably
prevented from dining with her to-night. That will do." And this order
delivered, she resumed her former seat. Down the street she marked
advancing dusk. The sun had sunk in cataracts of champagne. Westward the
sky was like the apotheosis in Faust, green-barred and crimson, with
background of oscillant yellow. The east was already grey. Overhead was
a shade of salmon which presently disappeared. Then dusk came, and with
it a colorless vapor through which Night, cautious at first as misers
are, displayed one sequin, then another, till taking heart it unbarred
all its treasury to the world.

For some time after the man had gone Eden remained in the drawing-room.
She found her gloves and drew one on again, but the other she tormented
abstractedly in her hand. In her enforced inaction she fell to consoling
herself as children do, arguing with discomfiture as though its shadow
was ineffectual, as though trouble and she were face to face, and yet
too far removed one from another to ever really meet. An hour passed,
and still she sat unassured, restless of thought and conscious only that
an encroaching darkness had obscured a vista on which her eyes had loved
to dwell.

Truly the heart has logic that logic does not know, and as Eden let the
incidents of the afternoon and of the previous evening parade in dumb
show before her, something there was that kept whispering that she was
taking appearances for facts. She strove to listen to the whisper, but
the fantoches were froward and insistent; the sturdier her effort to
dispel them the closer they swarmed. Sometimes of their own accord they
would leave her, she would think herself done with them, her eyes filled
in testimony to her deliverance, and abruptly back they came. But still
the whisper persisted, it was growing potent, and its voice was clear.
It kept exhorting to patience, it exorcised appearances, and advanced
little pleas of its own.

Eden was only too willing to be guided. "I am impatient," she mused,
"but I will wait."

Another hour limped away, and though an hour limps it may leave a balm
behind. The lamps in the drawing-room had been lighted, but the servant
had come and gone unobserved. Eden was still closeted in herself.
"Surely, by eleven at the latest he will return," she reflected, "and
then all will be explained. It is a thankless task this of building
imaginary dungeons. There are hours in which I let fancies resolve
themselves into facts and the facts fossilize into skeletons." An
episode of her girlhood came back to her and she smiled. "Perhaps father
was right; I may have hemiopia, after all."

She stood up from her seat and was about to leave the room when she
heard the front door open, and in a second her husband's step.

Eden drew the portiére aside and looked out in the hall. Usselex had his
back to her. He was taking off his overcoat. She spoke to him and he
turned at once, one arm still unreleased. At last he freed himself and
came to her.

"You got my note, did you not?" he began. "I am sorry about this
evening. Could you not go to Mrs. Manhattan's without me? Something
always seems to turn up at the last moment."

"I hardly expected you so early," Eden answered. "I sent word to Laura."
She was looking at her husband, but her husband was not looking at her.
He seemed preoccupied and nodded his head abstractedly.

"Yes, yes," he muttered, with singular inappositeness. "Yes, of course.
But there," he added and turned again to the door, "I must hurry."

"Whom were you with this afternoon?" Eden asked.

It was as though she had checked him with a rein. He stopped at once and
glanced at her.

"Did you see me?" he inquired; and accepting her silence for answer he
continued at once: "It's a long story; I have hardly time to tell it
now."

Eden put her hand on his sleeve. "Tell it me," she pleaded.

For the moment he stood irresolute. "Tell me," she repeated, and moved
back, motioning him to a chair.

Usselex took out his watch. "I must hurry," he said again. "But there,"
he added tenderly, "since you wish it, a moment lost is small matter,
after all."

Again he glanced at her and hesitated as though expectant of a respite.
Eden had her everyday air; outwardly she was calm, but something in her
appearance, the twitch of an eyelid, the quiver of a nostril perhaps,
revealed her impatience.

Usselex shrugged his shoulders, and for a second, with a gesture that
was habitual to him, he plucked at his beard. "No," he repeated, "a
moment is small matter, after all. H'm. Eden, some years ago I went
abroad. During my absence a cashier whom I trusted, and whom I would
trust again, speculated with money that passed through his hands. It was
not until my return that I learned of the affair. But meanwhile, as is
usual in such cases, he was on the wrong side of the market. The money
which he had taken had to be accounted for. I had a partner then, and
the cashier confessed the defalcation to him; it was the only thing he
could do, and he promised, I believe, that if time were given him he
would make good the loss. The amount after all was not large--fifteen
thousand perhaps, or twenty at the outside. But my partner was not
lenient. He came of a line of New England divines, and had, if I
remember rightly, at one time contemplated studying for the ministry. In
any event he was then an elder in some up-town Presbyterian church. But
virtue is not amiable. Without so much as communicating with me he put
the matter in the hands of the authorities, and when I returned the
cashier was in Sing-Sing. Eden, you will hardly understand how sorry I
was. He had a wife dependent on him--he had children. He had been with
me longer than my partner had, and I liked him. Of the two I liked him
the better. What he took I have never been able to view as a theft. It
was what might be called a forced loan. Had I been here it would have
been different; but my partner was obdurate. You see, the fault, if
fault there were, was mine. The salary I gave him was small, and each
day I allowed temptation to pass between his hands. People say that we
should resist temptation. I agree with them; temptation should be
resisted; but when a rich man preaches that sermon to the poor, he
forgets that where temptation is vague to him it may be potent to his
hearer. Oh, I don't mean to uphold derelictions, but to my thinking
Charity is the New Testament told in a word. I think that forgiveness is
the essence of the teaching of every founder of an enduring creed.
However, that is not to the point. The fact remained, the cashier was
sent to Sing-Sing, and since then I have done what I could to get him
out. It was his wife that I was with to-day. Poor girl! I have been
sorry for her; she is but little older than you, and she has had trials
to bear such as might have sent another to worse than the grave." He
paused, and plucking again at his beard, he looked down at the rug. Eden
needed no assurance to feel that his words were heart-whole and sincere.
She moved to where he stood and touched him on the arm.

"Don't tell me any more," she said, and as she spoke there came to her
voice a tremulousness that was as unusual as it was sweet. "You must let
me help her, too."

"Yes, Eden, that I will. It is good of you to speak that way. It is not
only good, it is Edenesque. But let me tell you the rest. Governor
Blanchford is in town. I went yesterday to the Buckingham, where he is
stopping. He could only see me for a moment then, and this afternoon I
went again with her. I am to dine with him this evening. When he returns
to Albany I think the pardon will be signed." Again he paused and looked
at his watch. "I must dress," he added; "will you forgive me--?"

"Forgive you!" she cried, "it is your turn, now: forgive me."

Usselex moved from her, her hand still in his, and when their arms were
fully outstretched, he turned and holding her to him he kissed her on
either cheek.

As he left the room Eden could have danced with delight. She ran to the
piano and with one hand still gloved she struck out clear notes of joy.
Presently, she too left the room, and prepared for dinner. When the meal
was served she ate it in solitude, but the solitude was not irksome to
her; it was populous with recovered dreams. Among the dishes that were
brought her was one of terrapin, which she partook of with an art of her
own; and subsequently, in a manner which it must have been a pleasure to
behold, she nibbled at a peach--peaches and terrapin representing, as
everyone knows, the two articles of food which are the most difficult to
eat with grace.

Later, when the meal was done, Eden returned to the drawing-room. Mrs.
Manhattan was unregretted. The summer had been fertile enough in
entertainments to satiate her for a twelve-month. She had come and gone,
eaten and fasted, danced and driven, with no other result than the
discovery that the companionship of her husband was better than anything
else. To her thinking he needed only an incentive to conquer the
ballot. There was no reason why he should not leave Wall Street for
broader spheres. She had met senators by the dozen, and he was wiser
than them all. He might be Treasurer of State if he so willed, or
failing that, minister to the Court of St. James. Even an inferior
mission such as that to the Hague or to Brussels would be better than
the Street. It was inane, she told herself, to pass one's life in going
down town and coming up again merely that another million might be put
aside. An existence such as that might be alluring to Jerolomon or
Bleecker Bleecker, but for her husband there were other summits to be
scaled.

And as Eden, prettily flushed by the possibilities which her imagination
disclosed spectacular-wise for her own delight, sat companioned by
fancies, determining, if incentive were necessary, that incentive should
come from her, the portiére was drawn aside and the butler announced Mr.
Arnswald.

"I ventured to come in," he said, apologetically, "although I knew Mr.
Usselex was not at home. I wanted----"

"One might have thought your evenings were otherwise occupied," Eden
interrupted, a little fiercely. The intercepted note of the preceding
evening rankled still. That the young man should receive a letter from a
strange woman was, she admitted to herself, a matter which did not
concern her in the slightest. But it was impertinent on his part to
suffer that letter to be sent to him at her house.

"This evening, however, as you see----" he began blandly enough, but
Eden interrupted him again.

"What did you think of it last night?" she asked, with the
inappositeness that was peculiar to her.

"You are clairvoyant enough, Mrs. Usselex, to know untold what I
thought. It was of that I wished to speak to you. It is rare that such
an opportunity is given me."

"To hear Wagner?"

"No, not to hear Wagner particularly." He hesitated and looked down at
his pointed shoes, and at the moment Eden for the life of her could not
help thinking of a dissolute young god arrayed in modern guise. After
all, she reflected, it is probably the woman's fault.

"No, not that," he continued, and looked up at her again, his polar-eyes
ablaze with unexpected auroras. "Not that; but think what it is for a
man to love a woman, to divine that that love is returned, and yet to
feel himself as far from her as death is from life. Think what it must
be for him to love that woman so well that he would not haggle over ten
years, no, nor ten hundred years of years, could he pass an hour with
her, and then by way of contrast to find himself suddenly side by side
with her, listening to such music as we heard last night."

"Mr. Arnswald, you are out of your senses," Eden exclaimed. A suspicion
had entered her mind and declined to be dismissed.

"Am I not?" he answered. "Tell me that I am. I need to be told it. Yet
last night, for the first time, it seemed to me that perhaps all might
still be well. It was hope that I found with you, Mrs. Usselex; it was
more than hope, it was life."

And as his eyes rekindled, Eden told herself that his attitude could
have but one signification.

"I'll not play Guinevere to your Lancelot," she murmured. And turning
her back on him she left the room.



VI.


The following day was unstarred by any particular luncheon, or at least
by none at which Eden was expected. Her own repast she consumed in
solitude, and as she rose again from the table, Mrs. Manhattan was
announced.

Mrs. Manhattan was a woman of that class which grows rarer with the
days. She was very clever and knew how to appear absolutely stupid.
According to the circumstances in which she was placed, she could be
frivolous or sagacious, worldly, and sensible. In fact, all things to
all men. Born in Virginia, a Leigh of Leighton, she had married a rich
and popular New Yorker. After marriage, and on removing to Fifth Avenue,
she had the tact to leave her accent and her family tree behind. Her
husband's great-grandfather was lost in the magnificence of myth; her
own figured in Burke. If Nicholas Manhattan had been a snob--which he
was not--that fact would have constituted his sole grievance against
her. But from Laura Leigh, of a North country descent and a feudal
castle in Northumberland, never an allusion could be wrung. In marrying
a New Yorker she espoused all New York, its customs, its prejudices, its
morals, its vices, everything, even to the high pitch of its voice; and
so well did she succeed in identifying herself with it and with its
narrow localisms, that in a few years after her arrival, not to visit
and be visited by Mrs. Nicholas Manhattan was to argue one's self out
into the nethermost limbo of insignificance.

Had Mrs. Manhattan been any other than herself, Eden would have sent
back some femininely prevaricatory excuse. She was enervated still by
the emotions of the preceding day, and her desire for companionship was
slight. But Mrs. Manhattan was not only Mrs. Manhattan, she was a woman
for whom Eden entertained a quasi-filial, quasi-sororal affection. She
went forward therefore at once, her hands outstretched to greet.

On ordinary occasions it was Mrs. Manhattan's custom to salute Eden with
a kiss, but on this particular afternoon she contented herself with
taking the outstretched hands in her own, holding Eden, as it were, at
arms length.

"You abominable little beauty," she began, "what did you mean by leaving
me in the lurch last night? I came here expecting to find you in bed
with the doctor. _Mais pas du tout. Madame s'embellit à vu d'[oe]il._"

"Laura, dear," Eden answered, when they had found seats, "don't be
annoyed at me. I wanted very much to come. But you know the proverb: man
proposes----"

"--And woman accepts. Yes, I know; go on."

"Well, I simply couldn't help it."

"Couldn't help it! What do you mean by saying you couldn't help it?
Don't sit there with your back to the light; I want to look at you.
Eden, as sure as my name is Laura Leigh, something has gone wrong with
you. What business have you, at your age, to have circles under your
eyes?"

"Presumably because I was unable to get to your dinner. I am really
sorry, Laura. Did you have many people?"

"Of course I didn't. Nicholas won't let me give large dinners. There
were only eighteen of us. I suppose I could have got the Boltens to come
and take your place. But then you know how people are. Unless you invite
them a fortnight in advance they think they are asked to fill up--as
they are. H'm! I was mad enough. Nicholas was to have taken you in, and
by way of compensation you were to have had your old flame, Dugald
Maule, on the other side of you. Parenthetically, it is my opinion that
he loves you still--beyond the tomb, as they love in Germany. However,
that is not to the point; the dinner was a failure. Afterwards we all
went to the Amsterdams; all of us, that is, except Jones, who said he
had an engagement, which meant I suppose, that he was not expected."

"Jones, the novelist?"

"Yes, Alphabet Jones. Personally he is as inoffensive as a glass of
lemonade, but I can't bear his books. He uses words I don't understand,
and tells of things that I don't want to. Nicholas, however, will have
him."

And at the thought of her husband's tyranny, Mrs. Manhattan shrugged her
shoulders and gazed complacently in her lap.

"Laura, I don't believe your dinner was a failure."

"Well, not exactly a failure perhaps, but it is always upsetting to have
people at the last moment send word that they can't come. It is not only
upsetting, it's dangerous. It takes the flavor of the soup away. It
makes everything taste bad." And as Mrs. Manhattan said this she glared
at Eden with the ferocity of an irritated Madonna. "Now tell me," she
continued, "what was the matter with you?"

"Really, Laura, it was nothing. I can't tell you." She hesitated a
second and into the corners of her exquisite mouth there passed a smile.
"I saw my husband in a cab with--with----"

"A woman?"

Eden stared at her friend with the astonishment of a gomeril at a
contortionist. The smile left her lips.

"Did you see him too?" she asked.

"Why, no, you little simpleton, I didn't see him; but I haven't got a
husband of my own for nothing."

"Do you mean that your husband deceives you?"

"Deceives me? no, not a bit of it. He only thinks he does. Is that what
has been the matter with you?"

"Laura----"

"And was it because you caught your husband in a cab that you couldn't
come to dinner? But, heavens and earth! if other women were to act like
you no one would even dare to attempt to entertain. As it is," Mrs.
Manhattan grumbled to herself, "the Mayor ought to pass an ordinance on
the subject. He has little enough to do in return for his double
lamp-posts."

"No, Laura, how absurd you are!" Eden exclaimed. "John was detained on
business."

"Ah! I see." And Mrs. Manhattan looked at her in a gingerly fashion out
of the corner of one eye.

"Yes, he sent me word that he was detained on business and for me to
send word to you."

"That was most thoughtful of him. And it was after you got the note that
the cab episode occurred?"

"No, it was just before."

"Yes, yes, I can understand." Mrs. Manhattan paused a moment. To anyone
else save Eden the pause would have been significant. "H'm," she went
on, "business may mean other men's money, or it may mean other men's
wives. I do hope, though, you were sensible enough not to mention
anything about the lady and the cab."

"Oh, but indeed, I did. He explained the whole thing at once."

"From the cab window?"

"When he came back, I mean--in the evening."

"Some little time must have intervened."

"Yes, two hours, I should judge."

Mrs. Manhattan nodded. "Well," she said, with an air of profound
sapience, "no man ever talks to a woman for two hours unless he keeps
saying the same thing all the time."

"Laura, that is not like you. You know perfectly well that friendship
can exist between a man and a woman without there being any thought of
love-making."

"Oh, I know what you are going to say. But there is the difference
between love and friendship. To those who have witnessed a bull-fight,
the circus I hear is commonplace."

"You mean to imply that my husband was enjoying a bull-fight?"

"I don't mean anything of the sort. But what a way you have of reducing
generalities to particulars! No, I don't mean that at all. I am speaking
in the air. What I meant to imply was that love has consolations which
friendship does not possess."

"Laura, you don't understand. It is not a question of that. This woman's
husband has got into trouble and John was trying to get him out."

Mrs. Manhattan eyed her again in the same gingerly fashion as before.
"He said that, did he?"

Eden nodded.

"I hope you pretended to believe him."

"Pretended! Why, I did believe him. I believed him at once."

"Yes, that's a good way." Mrs. Manhattan tormented the point of her nose
reflectively. "I used to too," she added. "Now I simply don't see. That
I find even better. It makes everything go so smoothly. No arguments, no
recriminations, perfect peace. Nicholas, as you know, is the most
delightful man in the world. I have the highest respect for him. If he
took it into his head to leave the planet and me behind, I should feel
it my duty as a Christian woman to see that the trappings of my woe were
becoming to his memory. But--but, well, I should feel that I had been
vaccinated. I should feel that a minor evil had protected me from a
greater one. In other words, I would not marry again. It is my opinion,
an opinion I believe which is shared by a good many other people, that
a woman who marries a second time does not deserve to have lost her
first husband. Now, as I say of Nicholas, I have the greatest respect
for him. He is charming. I haven't the vaguest idea how he would get
along without me. I do everything for him, but I am careful not to exact
the impossible. We get along splendidly together. He makes the most
elaborate efforts to throw dust in my eyes, and I aid him to the best of
my ability, but I always know what he is up to. I can tell at a glance
where he is in any affair. The moment he gives up his after-dinner cigar
I can hear the fifes in the distance--he is making himself agreeable to
someone with whom he intends to pass the evening. The second stage is
when he comes in of an afternoon with a rose in his button-hole. That
means that he has been sending flowers and that the siege is
progressing. The third stage is when he begins to smoke again. That
means that the castle has capitulated and further diplomacy is
unnecessary. The fourth and final stage is when he says in an off-hand
way, 'Laura, I saw some stones this afternoon at Tiffany's.' That means
remorse and reward--remorse at his own wickedness, and reward for my
non-interference. There is nothing in the world that a man appreciates
more than that. Yes, I certainly do my duty. Nicholas, as you know, was
a widower when I married him. By his first wife he had one child and a
great deal to put up with. Whereas, now--why, Eden, what are you crying
about?"

"I am not crying." In a moment Eden had choked back a sob. Her eyes
flashed the more brilliant for their tears, but her voice had lost its
former gentleness, it had grown vibrant and resolute. "Laura, if he has
deceived me, I will leave him."

"If who has deceived you? Surely Nicholas----"

"Laura, I am in no mood for jest. Last night I believed my husband,
to-day I do not. If I can get proof, I leave him."

"That is what we all say, but we don't."

"If he has deceived me----"

"Eden, how foolish you are! No, but, Eden, you are simply childish. You
are sunshine one minute and tornado the next. Why, I haven't a doubt in
the world but that Mr. Usselex was trying to get the cab-lady's husband
out of trouble. I haven't the faintest doubt of it."

"Nor had I before you came."

"Oh, Eden, forgive me. What I said was idle chatter. There, do be your
old sweet self again."

Eden stood up and pinioned her forehead with her hands. "I wonder," she
exclaimed, "I wonder--Laura, do you know that it is of a thing like this
that hatred comes?"

"My dear, I had no idea that you were so much in love."

But as she spoke there came into Eden's face an expression so new and
unlike her own, that Mrs. Manhattan started. "Sit down," she said
coaxingly. "Do sit down." She took the girl's hands in hers and drew her
gently to the lounge on which she was seated. "Eden," she continued,
after a moment, "between ourselves, I think you are--how shall I say?--a
little--" And Mrs. Manhattan touched her forehead and nodded
significantly.

"I? Not a bit."

"So much the worse, then. It would be an excuse. Now listen to me. They
say that when a woman gets to be thirty the first thing she does is to
ignore her age, and that by the time she is forty it has escaped her
memory entirely. I am not forty yet, but I am old enough--well, I am old
enough to be wiser than you, and I say this--you can contradict it as
much as you please, but I will say it all the same--you have more pride
in yourself than love for your husband."

"Which means?"

"I mean this, that when pride gets the upper hand, love is bound to be
throttled. In some, pride is a screen; behind it they rage at their
ease: in others it is a bag of wind; prick it and behold, a tempest.
With you, just at present, it is a screen; haven't I seen you torment
your rings ever since I came in? Well, torment them, but for goodness
sake don't change the screen into a balloon. There is nothing as bad
form as that, and nothing as ineffectual. My dear, if you want to keep
your husband, think of yourself not first, but last, or, if you can't
think in that way, act as though you did."

"And be a hypocrite."

"Eden, you are impossible. Be a hypocrite? Why, of course you must be a
hypocrite. Hypocrisy is Christianity's most admirable invention. Banish
it, and what do you find? Not skeletons in the closet, but catacombs of
distasteful things. No, Eden, be a hypocrite. We all are; everyone
prefers it. There was a man once who got up in the morning with the idea
of telling everybody the truth. By sunset he was safe in an asylum.
People don't want the truth; they content themselves with sighing for
it; they know very well that when they get in its way, it bites. It is
vicious, truth is. It makes us froth at the mouth. If you haven't had
the forethought to cuirass yourself with indifference, truth can cause a
hydrophobia for which the only Pasteur is time. No, hypocrisy has had
the sanction of pope and prelate. Let us hold to it; let us hold to what
we may and not try to prove anything."

"What are you talking about then?"

"How irritating you are, Eden! I am talking about you. I am trying to
give you some advice. No one gave me any. I had to gather it on the way.
I come here, and finding you melancholy as a comic paper, I try to offer
the fruit of two decades of worldly experience, and instead of thanking
me, you ask what I am talking about." Mrs. Manhattan sank back in her
ample folds and laughed. "Don't you have any tea in this house?"

"You are right, Laura; I am irritating, I am absurd." As she spoke, she
left the lounge. The tragedy-air had departed. She rang the bell, gave
the order for tea, and during the remainder of Mrs. Manhattan's visit,
comported herself so sagaciously that she succeeded in casting dust in
that lady's eyes in a manner which would have thrown that lady's husband
into stupors of admiration.

When her friend at last decided to take herself and her experience away,
Eden remained in the drawing-room. Down the adjacent corner she saw the
sun decline. On the horizon it left an aigrette of gold. Then that
disappeared. Day closed its window, and Night, that queen who reigns
only when she falls, shook out the shroud she wears for gown.

How long Eden sat alone with her thoughts she could not afterwards
recall. For some time she was conscious only of a speck of dust which
Mrs. Manhattan had brought from the outer world and forgotten to remove.
It was such a little speck that at first Eden had pretended not to see
it, but when Mrs. Manhattan had been gone a few minutes it insisted on
her attention. She could not help eying it, and the more closely she
eyed it, the larger it grew. From dust it turned to dirt, from minim
into mountain. And presently it obscured her sight and veiled her mind
with shadows.

Strive as she might, she could not argue it away. She tried to reason
with herself, as a neurosthene, aware of his infirmity, may reason with
the phantasm which he himself has evoked. But this was a phantasm that
no argument could coerce. Did she say, You are unreal, it answered, I am
Doubt. At each effort she made to rout it, it loomed to greater
heights.

In the tremor that beset her she groped in memory for a talisman. She
recalled her husband's wooing of her, his attitude and indulgent
strength. Yet had not Mrs. Manhattan implied that men are double-faced?
She thought of his laborious days, yet had not Mrs. Manhattan defined
business as often synonymous with other men's wives? She recalled his
excuse and was mindful of Mrs. Manhattan's interpretation.

At each new effort the doubt increased, and still she kept arguing with
herself, until suddenly she perceived that she had stopped thinking.
Doubt was pushing her down into an abyss where all was dark, and still
she struggled, and still she struggled in vain; she was sinking;
strength was leaving her, for doubt is masterful, till with a start she
felt that she was safe. It was not in memory she found a talisman, but
in her heart. It was her love that worked the spell. Love, and
confidence in him whose name she bore. The mountain dissolved into
minim, the dirt into dust, and she took the speck and blew it back into
the shadows from which it had come.



VII.


That evening Eden and her husband dined alone. But it was not till
coffee was served and the servants left the room that either of them had
an opportunity of exchanging speech on matters other than such as were
of passing interest. For the rout which both were to attend that night
Eden had already prepared. It was the initial Matriarch's of the season,
and rumor had it that it was to be a very smart affair. On this occasion
the waiters, it was understood, were to be in livery; and an attempt had
been made to give the rooms something of the aspect and aroma which
appertains to a private house. As a consequence those of the gentler sex
who were bidden had given some thought to their frocks, while those who
were not had garmented themselves in their stoutest mantles of
indifference.

On receiving the large bit of cardboard on which the invitation was
engraved, Eden had at first determined to word and dispatch a regret.
Entertainments of that kind had ceased to appeal to her. At gatherings
of similar nature which she attended she had long since divided the male
element into the youths who wished to seem older than they looked, and
the mature individuals who wished to appear younger than they were;
while as for the women, they reminded her of Diogenes looking for a man.
On receiving the invitation she had, therefore, determined to send a
regret, but on mentioning the circumstance to her husband he had
expressed the desire that she should accept. He liked to have her
admired, and moreover, though the function itself might be tiresome,
still she owed some duty to society, and there were few easier ways in
which that duty could be performed. Accordingly an acceptance was sent,
and as a reward of that heroism Usselex had brought her a plastron of
opals.

That plastron she now wore. Her gown, which was cut a trifle lower on
the back than on the neck, was of a hue that suggested the blending of
sulphur and of salmon. Her arms were cased in _Suède_, into which she
had rolled that part of the glove which covers the hand. Save for the
wedding-token her fingers were ringless. She had nothing about her
throat. But from shoulder to shoulder, from breast to girdle, was a
cuirass of gems, flecked with absinthe and oscillant with flame. It was
barbaric in splendor, Roman in beauty; it startled and captivated. And
in it Eden looked the personified spirit of Bysance, a dream that had
taken form. Her husband let his eyes have all their will of her. Even
the butler was dazzled.

During the progress of the meal the presence of that person and of his
underlings prevented any conversation of reportable interest. But while
the courses were being served Eden noticed that her husband was in an
unusually sprightly mood. He touched on one topic of the day, presently
on another, and left that for a third. To each he gave a new aspect. It
was as though he were tossing crystal balls. Now, when an educated man
is not a pedant he can in discoursing about nothing at all exert a very
palpable influence. Mr. Usselex talked like a philosopher who has seen
the world. To many a woman there is nothing more wearisome than the
conversation of a man who has nothing to desire and nothing to fear.
That man is usually her husband. But with Eden it was different. She
listened with the pleasure of a convalescent. She was just issuing from
the little nightmare of the afternoon, and as he spoke, now and then she
interrupted with some fancy of her own; but all the while deep down in
the fibres of her being she felt a smart of self-reproach that mingled
with exultation. Her suspicions had vanished. They had been born of the
dusk and creatures of it. And she looked down through the opals into her
heart and over at her husband and smiled.

The butler and his underlings had departed. The meal was done. Usselex
smiled too. He left his seat and went behind her. He drew her head back,
bent over, and kissed her on the lips; then mirroring his eyes in hers,
he kissed her again, drew a chair to her side, and took her hand in his.

"Look at me, Eden," he said. "I love your eyes. Speak to me. I love
your voice. They say that at twenty a man loves best. They are wrong.
Youth is inconstant. It is with age a man learns what love can be. Do
you not think I know? Look at me and tell me. Eden, joy frightens.
Sometimes I wonder that I had the courage to ask you to be my wife.
Sometimes I fear you think me too old. Sometimes I fear you may regret.
But you must never regret. Any man you might have met could be more
attractive than I, but no one could care for you more; no one. Tell me;
you believe that, do you not?"

And Eden, turning her head with the motion of a swan, answered, "I know
it."

"Eden," he continued, "my life has not been pleasant. I have told you
little of it. In the lives of everyone there are incidents that are best
left buried. If I have been reticent it has not been from lack of
confidence; it has been because I feared to distress you. For years I
did not understand; the reason of pain is seldom clear. At times I
thought my strength overtaxed. I accused fate; it had been wilful to me.
It had beckoned me to pleasant places; when I reached them the meadows
disappeared, the intervales were quagmires, and the palace I had espied
was a prison, with a sword for bolt. I accused justice as I had accused
fate. Eden, men are not always sincere. There are people who do wrong,
who injure, wantonly, in sport. And so I accused justice: I had expected
it to be human; but justice is straight as a bayonet, and her breasts
are of stone. It was long before I understood, but when I saw you I did.
What I had suffered was needful; it was a preparation for you. No,
justice is never human, but sometimes it is divine."

He had been speaking in a monotone, his voice sinking at times into a
whisper, as though he feared some other than herself might hear his
words. Eden's hand still lay within his own, and now he stood up and led
her, waist-encircled, to the outer room. There they found other seats,
and for a moment both were silent.

"If I have not questioned you," Eden said, at last, "it has been for a
woman's reason. I am content. Had you a grief, I would demand to share
it with you. It would be my right, would it not? But of what has gone
before I prefer to remain in ignorance. It is not that I am incurious.
It is that I prefer to think of your life as I think of my own, that its
beginning was our wedding-day. I too am some times afraid. There are
things of which I also have been reticent. I remember once thinking that
to be happy was a verb that had no present tense. I do not think so
now," she added, after a moment; and to her exquisite lips the smile
returned. "There are so many things I want to tell," she continued.
"Before I met you I thought myself in love. Oh, but I did, though. And
it was not until after I had known you that I found that which I had
taken for love was not love at all. How did I know? Well--you see,
because that is not love which goes. And that went. It was for the man I
cared, not the individual. At the time I did not understand, nor did I
until you came. Truly I don't see why I should speak of this. Every
girl, I fancy, experiences the same thing. But when you came life seemed
larger. You brought with you new currents. Do you know what I thought?
People said I married you for money. I married you because--what do you
suppose, now? Because I loved you? But at that time I told myself I had
done with love. No, it was not so much for that as because I was
ambitious for us both. It was because I thought Wall Street too small
for such as you. It was because I discerned in you that power which
coerces men. It was because I believed in the future; it was because I
trusted you. Yes, it was for that, and yet this afternoon--What is it,
Harris?"

A servant had entered the room, bearing a letter on a tray.

"A letter for you, sir," he said.

Usselex took the note, opened the envelope, which he tossed on the
table, and possessed himself of the contents.

"Is the messenger waiting?" he asked.

"Yes, sir."

"Very good. Say I will be there immediately."

The man bowed and left the room.

"I am sorry, Eden--"

"What is it?"

"Nothing of any moment--a matter of business to which I must attend." He
glanced at the clock. "It is after ten," he added. "You will not want to
leave for Delmonico's before half-past eleven, will you? Very good; I
will be back long before then." He had risen from his seat, and now he
bent over and took her hand in his. "I am sorry I have to go. It is so
seldom we have an evening together. And I had counted on this."

Eden raised a finger warningly. "If you are not back in time," she said,
"I will send for Arnswald and go with him."

"I can trust him with you," he answered, and left the room. In a moment
he returned, hat in hand. "By the way, Eden, I forgot to ask--you have
sent out cards, have you not?"

"Yes, the world is informed that Mrs. John Usselex is at home on
Saturdays."

"Would you mind sending that announcement to some one whom you don't
know? It's just for the civility of the thing."

"Certainly. Who is it?"

"A Mrs. Feverill."

"Feverill? Mrs. Feverill." Eden contracted her eyebrows. "Where have I
heard that name before?"

"I don't think you have ever heard it."

Eden laughed. "She wears blue velvet, I am sure; but I will send the
card. Where does she live?"

Usselex bent over and touched her forehead with his lips. "That is good
of you," he said. "She will take it very kindly." And with that he moved
to the door.

"But what is the address?" Eden called after him.

"The Ranleigh," he answered; and from the hall he added, in a louder
tone, "I will be back in less than an hour."

"The Ranleigh," she repeated to herself. "The Ranleigh!" And then
suddenly the wall of the room parted like a curtain; to her ears came a
cry of violins, dominated and accentuated by a blare of brass. Mrs.
Manhattan was at her elbow. Behind her was Jones; beneath was a woman,
her face turned to hers. She caught the motion of Mrs. Manhattan's fan.
Beyond, in a canvas forest, stood a man, open-mouthed, raising and
lowering his right arm at regular intervals. And between the shiver of
violins and the shudder of trumpets, she heard some one saying, "Mrs.
Feverill, that is--rather fly. Stops at the Ranleigh." At once the music
swooned. The opera-house dissolved into mist, and Eden was in a
carriage, eying through the open window the cut of a passer's gown. In
her lap were some flowers; she raised them to her face, and as she put
them down again, a cab drove past, bearing her husband and the woman who
was considered fly. And this was the woman he wished her to receive! She
caught and pinioned her forehead in her hands. In the distance the
shadow of the afternoon loomed again, but this time more monstrous and
potent than before. And nearer and nearer it came--blacker than hate and
more appalling than shame; in a moment it would be on her; she would be
shrouded in it for evermore, and no defense--not one.

"No, no," she murmured. Her hands left her forehead. She clutched her
throat as though to tear some invisible grasp away. "No, no," she
murmured, "it cannot be."

"Look at me, Eden," some one was saying; "look at me; I love your eyes.
Youth is inconstant. It is with age--"

It was her husband reassuring her even in his absence. "Speak to me; I
love your voice." And memory, continuing its office of mercy, served as
ægis and exorcised advancing night. In her nervousness at the parried
attack, she left her seat and paced the room, the opals glittering on
her waist. "But he told me," she mused, "he told me that the woman's
husband was in trouble--that he was endeavoring to aid them both. What
did I hear when I first met him? There was a clerk or someone in his
office, a man whom he trusted who deceived him, who was imprisoned, and
to whose people he then furnished means for support. It is criminal for
me to doubt him as I have. Do I not know him to be generous? have I not
found him sincere?"

She shook out a fold of her frock impatiently. "A child frightened at
momentary solitude was never more absurd than I." For a little space
she continued her promenade up and down the room, leaving at each turn
some fringe of suspicion behind. And presently the entire fabric seemed
to leave her. To the corners of her mouth the smile returned. She went
back to the sofa and was about to resume her former seat when her eyes
fell on the envelope which her husband had tossed on the table.
Mechanically she picked it up and glanced at the superscription. The
writing was thin as hair, but the lettering was larger than is usual,
abrupt and angular. To anyone else it would have suggested nothing
particular, save, perhaps, the idea that it had been formed with the
point of a tack; but to Eden it was luminous with intimations. Into the
palms of her hands came a sudden moisture, the color left her cheeks,
for a second she stood irresolute, the envelope in her trembling hold,
then, as though coerced by another than herself, she ran to a bell and
rang it.

In a moment the butler appeared. To conceal her agitation Eden had gone
to the piano. There were some loose sheets of music on the lid and
these she pretended to examine. "Is that you, Harris?" she asked,
without turning her head. "Harris, that man that brought the note for
Mr. Usselex this evening was the one that came on Monday with the note
for Mr. Arnswald, was it not?"

"I beg pardon, ma'am."

Eden reconstructed the question and repeated it.

"It was a young person, ma'am," Harris answered. "A lady's maid, most
likely. She was here before on Monday evening, just before dinner,
ma'am. She brought a letter and said there was no answer. I gave it to
Mr. Usselex."

"To Mr. Arnswald, you mean."

"No, ma'am; it was for Mr. Usselex."

Eden clutched at the piano. Through the sheet of music which she held
she saw that note again. The handwriting was identical with the one on
the envelope. But each word it contained was a separate flame, and each
flame was burning little round holes in her heart and eating it away. It
was very evident to her now. She had been tricked from the first. She
had been lied to and deceived. It behooved her now to be very cool. It
was on business indeed that he had left her! Unconsciously she recalled
Mrs. Manhattan's aphorism about business and other men's wives, and to
her mouth, which the smile had deserted, came a sneer.

He is with her now, she told herself; well, let him be. In a sudden gust
of anger she tore the sheet of music in two, and tossing it from her,
turned.

At the door the butler still stood, awaiting her commands.

"You may go," she said, shortly. The shadow which twice that day she had
eluded was before her. But she made no effort now to escape. It was
welcome. She eyed it a moment. Her teeth were set, her muscles
contracted. Then grasping it as Vulcan did, she forged it into steel.

About her on either side were wastes of black, and in the goaf, by way
of clearing, but one thing was discernible, the fealty of Adrian. To
save her from pain he had taken the letter on himself; he had accepted
her contempt that he might assure her peace of mind. Through the dismal
farce which had been played at her expense his loyalty constituted the
one situation which was deserving of praise. With a gesture she
dismissed her husband; it was as though he had ceased to exist. It was
not him that she had espoused; it was a figure garbed in fine words. She
had detected the travesty, the mask had fallen, with the actor she was
done. She had never been mated, and now she was divorced. And as she
stood, her hands clenched and pendant, the currents of her thought
veering from master to clerk, the portière furthermost from her was
drawn aside, the butler appeared an instant in the doorway, he mumbled a
name, Dugald Maule entered the room, and the portière fell back.

"I made sure of finding you," he announced jauntily, as he approached.

He took her hand in his and raised it to his lips. In his button-hole
was a flower, and in his breath the odor of _Crême de Menthe_. It was
evident that he had just dined. "Your man tells me that Mr. Usselex is
not at home," he continued. "I fancied he might be going to the
assembly too. I see that you are. You look like a queen of old time. No,
but you are simply stunning."

He stepped back that he might the better enjoy the effect. Eden had sunk
on the lounge again. In and out from her skirt a white slipper,
butterflied with gold, moved restlessly.

"But you are pale," he added. "What is it?" He had scanned her face--its
pallor was significant to him; but it was the nervousness of the slipper
that prompted the question. To his thinking there was nothing more
talkative than the foot of a pretty woman.

Eden shrugged her shoulders. "I didn't expect you," she said; "I am sure
that I wouldn't have received you if I had."

"Ah, that is hardly gracious now."

"Besides, your reputation is deplorable."

"No one has any reputation, nowadays," Maule answered, with the air of a
man describing the state of the weather. "You hear the most scandalous
things about everyone. Who has been talking against me? A woman, I
wager. Do you know what hell is paved with?"

"Not with your good intentions, I am positive."

"It is paved with women's tongues. That is what it is paved with. What
am I accused of now?"

"As if I knew or cared. In my opinion you are depraved, and that is
sufficient."

"Why do you call me depraved? You are not fair. Depravity is synonymous
with the unnatural. Girls in short frocks don't interest me. Never yet
have I loitered in the boudoir of a cocotte. Corydon was not a gentleman
whom I would imitate. Neither was Narcissus. On the other hand, I like
refined women. I have an unquestionable admiration for a pretty face.
What man whose health is good has not? If capacity for such admiration
constitutes depravity, then depraved I am." He paused. "H'm," he
muttered to himself, "there's nothing of the Joseph about me."

But he might have continued his speech aloud. Eden had ceased to hear,
her thoughts were far away. He looked at her inquiringly.

"Something is the matter," he said at last. "What has happened?"

Eden aroused herself ever so little from her reverie. "Nothing," she
answered. "I wish you would go away."

"Something _is_ the matter," he insisted. "Tell me what is troubling
you. Who is there to whom you can turn more readily than to me? Eden,
you forget so easily. For months I was at your side. And abruptly, a
rumor, a whisper, a wind that passes took you from me. Eden, _I_ have
not changed. Nor have you ceased to preside over my life. It is idle and
useless enough, I know. With your aid it would have been less valueless,
I think; but such as it is, it is wholly yours. Tell me, what it is that
troubles you."

And Eden, influenced either by the caress of the words or that longing
which in moments of mental anguish forces us to voice the affliction,
though it be but to a wall, looked in his face and answered:

"A hole has been dug in my heart, and in that hole is hate."

"Hate? Why, hate is a mediæval emotion; you don't know what it means."
And as he spoke he told himself she was mad.

"Do I not? Ah, do I not?" She beat a measure on her knee with her
fingers, and her eyes roamed from Maule to the ceiling and then far into
space. "There is one whom I think of now; could I see him smitten with
agony such as no mortal ever felt before, his eyes filled with spectres,
his brain aflame--could I see that and know it to be my work, I should
lie down glad and willing, and die of delight."

She stood up and turned to him again. "Do I not know what hatred means?"

"Eden, you understand it so well that your conception of love must be
clearer still."

"Love, indeed!" She laughed disdainfully. "Why, love is a fever that
ends with a yawn. Love! Why, men used to die of love. Now they buy it as
they buy their hats, ready-made."

"Then I am in that fever now--Hush! here is your husband. The tenor
wasn't half bad, I admit. Mr. Usselex, I am glad to see you."

Maule had risen at Usselex's entrance and made a step forward to greet
him. "I stopped on my way to Delmonico's," he added, lightly. "I made
sure you were both going."

"Yes," Usselex answered. "The carriage is at the door now. We can give
you a lift if you care to."

He turned to Eden. "Shall I ring for your wrap?"

For one second Eden looked her husband straight in the eyes. And for one
second she stood dumb, impenetrable as Fate, then gathering the folds of
her dress in one hand, she answered in a tone which was perfectly
self-possessed, "I have changed my mind," and swept from the room.



VIII.


On reaching her room Eden bolted the door. The maid rapped, but she gave
no answer. Without was a whistling wind that parodied her anger. For a
moment she looked through the darkness for that lighthouse which is
Hope, but presumably she looked in vain. Then there came another rap,
and she heard her husband's voice. Misery had offered her its arm, and
she was silent. Her husband rapped again, entreating speech with her,
and still she made no answer. Presently she caught the sound of
retreating footsteps. She removed the opals, disrobed, undid her hair,
and accepting the proffered arm, she took Misery for bedfellow.

It was hours before she slept. But at last sleep came. In its
beneficence it remained until the morning had gone; then at noon-day it
left her, and she started with a tremor like to that which besets one
who awakes from a debauch. The incidents of the preceding days paraded
with flying standards before her. They were victors indeed. "_Væ soli!_"
they seemed to shout. They had been pitiless in their assault, and now
they exulted at her defeat. They jeered at their captive; and Eden, with
that obsession which captives know, thought only of release. In all the
chartless future, freedom was the one thing for which she longed. Her
wounds were many; they had depleted her strength; but in freedom is a
balm that cures. Her strength might be irrevocable and the cicatrices
not to be effaced, yet give her that balm, and come what sorrow could.
As for resignation, the idea of it did not so much as visit her.
Resignation is a daily suicide, and she had not enough to outlast the
night.

The hours limped. The afternoon was on the wane, and still she toyed
with sorrow until suddenly she bethought herself of the need of
immediate action. Usselex would presently return, but when he came again
to her room, he should find it empty. At once, then, she made her
preparations, and telling the startled maid to complete them, and to
follow with the boxes to her father's house, she started out on foot,
her wardrobe packed, and ready for removal.

As Eden hurried through the streets, she was conscious only that freedom
was her goal. Everything else she put from her. It was to her father she
turned; it was through him that freedom would be obtained; and as she
hurried she pictured the indignation with which he would hear her tale.
He, indeed, was one on whom she could lean. Whatever other men might be,
he, at least was above reproach. Had he not for twenty years been
faithful to a memory. Surely her mother when she lived must have enjoyed
that gift of gifts, perfect confidence and trust.

So far back in the past as her memory extended she saw him always
considerate, gentle of manner, courteous to inferiors, deferential to
women, unassuming, and exemplary of life. In very truth there was none
other in the world like him. And when at last she entered his house she
told herself she was safe, and when the door closed, that she was free.

She knew without inquiry where to find him, and hastened at once to the
library, breathless when she reached his chair. He had been dozing over
a book, but at the rustle of her gown, he started and rubbed his eyes.

"It's good of you to come," he said, by way of greeting. "Why, Eden, I
haven't seen you for two days. Sit down there and let me look at you.
It's odd; I was going to you after the funeral. You know about General
Meredith, don't you? He went off like that. He is to be buried this
afternoon."

Mr. Menemon stood up and hunted for a match with which to light a lamp.
"Yes," he continued, "he was only ill for twenty-four hours. Think of
that, now! To tell you the truth, I haven't been very bright myself. I
wanted to speak to you about it. All last winter I was more or less
under the weather, and for some time I have been planning a trip abroad.
Now that you have an establishment of your own, Eden, you won't want
me." And as he said this, he smiled.

"Father, I have more need of you than ever."

"Yes," he answered, "I was jesting. I know you will miss me; but I will
come back with the violets."

He had succeeded in lighting the lamp and, still smiling, he turned and
looked at her. "The father-in-law element," he continued, and then
stopped abruptly, amazed at the expression of his daughter's face. "What
is it, Eden?" he asked at last.

"If you go abroad, I go with you."

For a moment he eyed her, as though seeking, untold, to divine the
meaning of her words.

"Nothing has gone wrong, has it?" he asked.

"He has deceived me."

"Usselex?"

"Who else is there whose deception I would notice?"

"You are mistaken, Eden; it is my fault; he consulted me in the
matter----"

"He consulted _you_? But how is such a thing possible. He never could
have consulted you, and if he had you would not have listened."

"Ah! but I did though. Between ourselves I thought it not uninteresting.
After all, it was not his fault. I thought it unadvisable that you
should learn of it before marriage, and afterwards, well, afterwards, it
was immaterial whether you did or whether you didn't."

"Father, either it is not you that speak, or I am demented."

"There, my dear, don't take it so seriously. I can't call it an everyday
matter, of course, but such things do happen, and as I said before, a
man's a man for all of that. If he said nothing it was because--well,
Eden, how could he? Ask yourself, how could he?"

"You knew of this before my marriage and you permitted the marriage to
take place?"

"Well--er, yes, Eden. Frankly now, it was a difficult matter to discuss
with you. You see, it was this way: a young girl like yourself, brought
up as you have been, is apt to have prejudices which men and women of
the world do not always share. And this is a case in point. Even now
that you are married I can understand your disapproval, but----"

"Disapproval! Is that what you call it? Have you no other term? Father,
it seems to me that you are worse than he. Had anyone told me that you
could countenance such a thing I would have denied his sanity." She hid
her face in her hands and moaned dumbly to herself, "I am desolate,"
she murmured, "I am desolate, indeed."

"No, Eden, not that, not that. Eden, listen to me; there, if you only
listen to me a moment. Eden, it is not a thing that I countenance, nor
is it one of which I approve. But the fault is not his. It is in the
nature of some women that such things should be. It is a thing to be
deplored, to be overlooked. The old law held that the sins of the father
should be visited on the son; but we are more liberal now. Besides, it
is part of the past; what use is there----"

"Part of the past? I saw him with her the day before yesterday, and----"

"Why, she is dead."

"Father, of whom are you speaking?"

"Of his mother, of course; and you?"

"I am speaking of his mistress, whom he wishes your daughter to
entertain."

"Eden, it is impossible. I misunderstood you. What you say is absurd.
Usselex is incapable of such infamy."

"He is, then, and he has the capacity to have me share it too."

"But tell me, what grounds have you for saying----"

"On Monday I was at the opera. In the stalls was a woman that stared at
me----"

"Many another I am sure did that."

"And the next afternoon I saw him with her. He sent me a note saying he
was detained on business. When he returned he made some lame excuse,
which I, poor fool, believed. Previously I had intercepted a letter----"

"A letter?"

"Yes, a letter such as those women write. He pretended it was not for
him, and for the moment I believed that too. Oh, I have been credulous
enough."

"Eden, you must let it pass."

"Not I."

"Ah, but Eden, you must; you must let it pass. I will speak to Usselex."

"That you may, of course; but as for me, I never will."

"My child, you are so wrong. What can I say to you? Eden--"

"Father, he has deceived me. Wantonly, grossly, and without excuse.
Speak to him again, I never will--"

"Eden--"

"--And if I ever see him it will be in court. It was for victims like
myself that courts were invented."

At this speech Mr. Menemon stood up again, and paced the room; his head
was bent, and he had the appearance of one in deep perplexity. From time
to time he raised his hand and stroked his back hair. And as he walked
Eden continued, but her tone was gentler than before:

"Father, you can never know. As you say, there are things of which it is
not well to speak. But let me tell you: In marrying I thought my husband
like yourself, one whom I could believe, whom I could honor, and of whom
I should be proud. He was too old for me, people said. But my fear was
that I should seem too young for him. Others insisted that I knew
nothing of him, and all the while I hoped that he would not find me
lacking. I wanted to aid, to assist. I was ambitious. He seemed
possessed of the fibres of which greatness is the crown. I saw before
him a future, a career which history might note. I dreamed that with the
wealth which he had acquired and the power that was in him, he could win
recognition of men and fame of time. It would be pleasant, I thought, to
be the helpmate of such an one. How did it matter that he was an alien
if I were at home with him? Father, I was proud of him. I was glad to be
younger than he. What better guide could I find? Yes, I was glad of his
years, for I had brought myself to think that when two people equally
young and equally favored fall in love, it is nature that is acting in
them. Whereas I loved not the man, but the individual, and that, I told
myself, that is the divine. That is what I thought before marriage, and
now I detect him in a vulgar intrigue. Is it not hideous? It took him
six months to walk through my illusions, and one hour to dispel them.
See, I have nothing left. Nothing," she added pensively, "except
regret."

She remained silent a little space, then some visitation of that
renegade Yesterday that calls himself To-morrow, seemed to stir her
pulse.

"Father," she pleaded, "tell me; I can be free of him, can I not? You
will keep him from me? you will get me back my liberty again?"

Mr. Menemon had resumed his former place at the table, and sat there,
his head still bent. But at this appeal he looked up and nodded
abstractedly, as though his attention were divided between her and
someone whom he did not see.

"You are overwrought," he said. "Were you yourself, you would not speak
in this fashion about nothing."

A sting could not have been more sudden in its effect. She gasped; a
returning gust of anger enveloped her. She sprang from her seat as
though impelled by hidden springs. "Nothing?" she cried. "You call it
nothing to unearth a falsehood where you awaited truth, treachery where
honesty should be, deceit instead of candor! You call it nothing to
harbor a knight and discover him a knave, to give your trust
unfalteringly and find that it has reposed on lies! Nothing to be
jockied of your love, cozened of your faith! To wage a war with
blacklegs and mistake that war for peace! Do you call it nothing to
drown a soul, to make it a sponge of shadows that can no longer receive
the light? Is it nothing to hold out your arms and be embraced by Judas?
Is it nothing to be loyal and be gammoned for your innocence? Is it
nothing to be juggled with, to be gulled, cheated, and decoyed? Is it
nothing to grasp a hawser and find it a rope of sand? To pursue the real
and watch it turn into delusion? Nothing to see the promise vanish in
the hope? Is it nothing to take a mirage for a landscape, nothing to be
hoodwinked of your confidence, to see high noon dissolve into obscurest
night, a diamond into pinchbeck? Tell me, is it nothing to have trust,
sincerity, and love for heritage, and wake to find that you have pawned
them to a Jew? Do you think it nothing to be mated to a living perjury,
a felony in flesh and blood? Is this what you call nothing? Is this it?
Then tell me what something is."

For a moment she stared at her father, her lips still moving, her small
hands clenched, then, exhausted by the vehemence of her speech, she sank
back again into the chair which she had vacated.

"No, Eden, not that," her father answered; but he spoke despondently,
with the air of a man battling against a stream, and conscious of the
futility of the effort. "No, not that; you misunderstand. I mean this:
you have confounded suspicion with proof. Whoever this woman is,
Usselex's relations with her may be irreproachable. Mind you, I don't
say they are; I say they may be. I will question him, and he will answer
truthfully."

"Truthfully? You expect him to answer truthfully. In him nothing is
true, not even his lies."

"Eden, I will question him. If it is as you expect, he will tell me and
you will forgive."

"Forgive? yes, it is easy to forgive, but forget, never! Besides, he
will not tell the truth; he will deceive you, as he has deceived me."

"No, Eden," Mr. Menemon answered, "you are wrong." For a moment he
hesitated and glanced at her. "I suppose," he continued, "I may tell you
now. Perhaps it will help to strengthen your confidence."

Again he hesitated; but presently something of his former serenity
seemed to return. "H'm," he went on, "it's a long story and an odd one.
Previous to your engagement, Meredith was here. I wish, instead of lying
across the square in a coffin, he could be here now. However, he came to
see me one day. I happened to mention Usselex's name, and he told me
certain rumors about him. The next afternoon I went to Usselex on the
subject. 'I have already written to you on the matter,' he said; and
sure enough, when I got back here, I found the letter waiting. Would you
like to see it?"

Eden tossed her head. What had the letter to do with her?

"I will read it to you, then."

Mr. Menemon left his chair, went to a safe that stood in a corner,
unlocked it, and after a fumble of a moment, drew out a manuscript,
which he unfolded, and then resumed his former seat.

"It is not very long," he said, apologetically, and he was about to
begin to read it aloud when Eden interrupted him.

"Tell me what is in it, if you must!" she exclaimed; "but spare me his
phrases."

She had risen again and was moving restlessly about the room. Her father
coughed in sheer despair.

"Well, I will tell it to you," he said. "But Eden, do sit down. Do wait
at least until I can give you the gist of what he wrote."

"Go on; go on. Nothing matters now."

Hesitatingly and unencouraged, half to his daughter, and half to some
invisible schoolmaster, whose lesson he might have learned by rote, Mr.
Menemon fluttered the letter and sought some prefatory word.

"You see, Eden," he began, "this was sent me just before he spoke to
you, and just after he had acquainted me of his intentions. You
understand that, do you not?"

"Go on," she repeated.

"Well, from what I had heard, and what he practically substantiates
here, Usselex is a trifle out of the common run. His earliest
recollections are of Cornwall, some manufacturing town there; let me
see--" and the old man fumbled with the letter and with his glasses.
"Yes, yes; Market Dipborough, to be sure. Well, he was brought up there
by his mother, who was of Swiss extraction, and by his father, who was
at the head of a large shoe factory. I say his father and mother;
but--However, he was brought up there. Well, to make a long story short,
it appears that he was given a very good education; his people evidently
were people of some means, and it was expected that he would study for
the bar. He was put at some public school or other, the name is
immaterial, and when he was on the point of entering Oxford, the Swiss
lady or her husband, I forget which--at any rate, somebody died. Do you
follow me, Eden? Well, he then learned that instead of being the son of
the people by whom he had been brought up, he was not their son at all.
And now comes the curious part of it. It seems that the Swiss lady had
been, in years gone by, companion or governess, or something of that
sort, to the Grand-Duchess Thyra of Gothland, who, as you know, became
the wife of the King of Suabia. She died, by the way, a year or two ago.
However, the Swiss lady was her companion or something of the kind, and
in consequence was placed in close relations with her. In fact, she was,
I suppose, what you might call a confidante. In any event, the
Grand-Duchess happened to have for music-teacher a good-looking young
German who took her fancy. The result of it all was that the Swiss lady
agreed to pretend that the offspring was her own, and was handsomely
rewarded for her pains. She left Gothland with the child, and it was not
until she died that Usselex learned that instead of being her son, he
was grandson of the Emperor. He had the bar-sinister, of course, but the
ancestry was there all the same. I don't know that I or any other man
would envy him it; but perhaps it is better than none. However, as soon
as Usselex learned the facts, he packed up and came over here. Now you
have that part of his existence in a nutshell. What do you say to it?"
And Mr. Menemon coughed again, and glanced inquiringly at his daughter.

"I say he is so base I might have known he was of royal blood."

"Eden, you are singularly unjust."

"But what does his birth matter to me?" she cried. "It was not for the
presence or absence of forefathers that I put my hand in his. It was for
the man himself, for what he seemed to me, and when I find that I have
been mistaken in him, when in return for my love I get deceit, when he
leaves me for another woman, and has the infamy to ask me to receive
that woman, then I say, that whether he be the son of a serf or the son
of a king, our ways divide--"

"Eden--"

"Yes, our ways divide."

Urged by her irritation, she still paced the room, graceful as a leopard
is, and every whit as unconstrained. But now, abruptly she halted before
a portrait that hung from the wall. For a moment she gazed at it, then
pointing to it with arm outstretched, she turned.

"Tell me," she asked, her sultry eyes flashing with vistas of victory.
"Tell me how my mother would have acted, had such an indignity been put
on her. Tell me," she repeated, "and through your knowledge of her, so
will I act. Yes," she added, and then paused, amazed at the expression
of her father's face. It was as though some unseen hand had stabbed him
from behind. The mouth twitched in the contraction of sudden pain, the
nostrils quivered, and he bowed his head; then, his eyes lowered and
turned from her, he answered in a voice that trembled just a little and
yet was perfectly distinct:

"It was such a thing as this that marred your mother's life; let it not
mar your own."

For the moment Eden could not credit her hearing. The words seemed
meaningless. She had caught them in a crescendo of stupor. "It is
impossible," she murmured. She stared at her father, her eyes dilated,
her heart throbbing, and every sense alert. "It is impossible," she
repeated, beneath her breath. And as she stared, her father's attitude
accentuated the words, reiterating that the avowal which had been wrung
from him was not the impossible, but the truth. No, there was no
mistake. She had heard aright, and presently, as the understanding of it
reached her, she moved back and away from him. For the first time that
day the tears came to her eyes. "I have drunk of shame," she sobbed;
"now let me drink of death."



IX.


For some time father and daughter were silent. Eden suppressed her sob,
and Mr. Menemon fidgeted nervously in his chair. The funeral across the
way, he told himself, would be gayer than this, and for the moment he
regretted that he had not taken time by its bang and gone to other
lands. Grief was always distressing to him, and the grief of his
daughter was torment. The idea that Usselex had been derelict, he put
from him. He had an interpretation of his own for the incidents on which
he had been called to sit in judgment. Trivialities such as they left
him unaffected. His enervation came of an inability to cope with Eden.
She treated an argument like a cobweb. And besides, had he not in a
spasm of discouragement disclosed a secret which for two decades he had
kept close-locked and secure?

Truly, if Eden had come to him with a valid complaint, he would have
taken arms in an instant. He was by no means one to suffer a child of
his to be treated with contumely. The bit of lignum vitæ which served
him for a heart was all in all for her. A real grievance would have
enraged him more than anyone else. In spite of his apparent indifference
there was much of the she-wolf in his nature. He would have fought for
Eden, he would have growled over her, and shown his false teeth at any
assailant that might happen that way. But of danger there was not a
trace. Listen as he might he could not catch the faintest rumor of
advancing foes. And because she had met her husband in the street,
because a woman had stared at her and some idiotic note had come into
her hands, high-noon must change to night, and laughter into tears.

"She is her mother all over again," the old gentleman muttered. And in
his discomfiture he regretted the funeral, the confidence that he had
made, and fidgeted nervously in his chair.

And as he fidgeted, glancing obliquely the while at his daughter, and
engrossed in the torturing pursuit of some plea that should show her she
erred, and bring her to her senses again, Eden's earlier griefs crackled
like last year's leaves. In this new revelation they seemed dead indeed.
Of her mother she had not the faintest recollection; but there had been
moments when a breath, a perfume, something which she had just read, a
sudden strain, the intoning of a litany, an interior harmony perhaps, or
an emotion, had brought to her a whisper, the sound of her own name; and
with it for one second would come the shadowy reminiscence of an
anterior caress. For a second only would it remain with her, departing
as abruptly as it had come, but leaving her to stroll for hours
thereafter through lands where dreams come true. And at such times she
was wont to feel that could she but clutch that fleeting second and
detain it long enough to catch one further glimpse of the past, the key
of memory would be in it, and the past unlocked. But that second was
never to be detained; it was from her father only that she was able to
learn something of that which was nearest to her heart, and again and
again she had sat with him listening to anecdotes, absorbing repetitions
and familiar details with a renascent interest and a delight that no
other chronicles could arouse. On the subject of her mother she had
indeed been insatiable; she had wished to know everything, even to the
gowns she preferred and the manner in which she had arranged her hair;
and her father had taken evident pleasure in telling of one who had been
wife to him and mother to her, and whose life she now learned for the
first time he had marred.

Mr. Menemon meanwhile was still in pursuit of the plea; but nothing of
any cogency presented itself. In truth he had builded better than he
knew. Anger burns itself out; already its force was spent, and the
revelation he had made had affected his daughter like a douche. In his
ignorance, however, the safest and surest course that occurred to him
was to hold his tongue, send for Usselex, and leave him to settle the
matter as best he might. This course he was about to adopt, and he got
out some paper preparatory to wording the message when a servant
appeared with a card on a tray.

He picked it up, glanced at it, and then over at his daughter. She was
still leaning against the book-case, her back was turned, and her face
hidden in her arms. It seemed probable to him that she was unaware of
the servant's presence.

"Very good," he murmured, and motioned the man away. Again he glanced at
his daughter, but she had not moved, and noiselessly, that he might not
disturb her, he left the room.

Eden indeed had heard nothing. The revelation had been benumbing in its
unexpectedness, and as she leaned against the book-case, an immense pity
enveloped her, and she forgot her sorrow and herself. Her own distress
was trivial perhaps in comparison to what her mother had suffered, and
yet surely her father had repented. As she entered the house had she not
told herself that for twenty years he had been faithful to a memory. So
far back as she could remember, she had seen him compassionate of
others, striving, it may be, through the exercise of indulgence to earn
some little of it for himself. And should she refuse it now? He had
grieved; the stamp of it was on his face. She needed no one to remind
her of that, and that grief perhaps had effaced the fault. And if his
fault was effaceable, might not her husband's be effaceable as well? If
he would but come to her and let her feel that this misstep was one that
he regretted, she might yet forgive. It was as good to forgive as it was
to forget; and how beautiful the future still might be!

The indignation which had glowed so fiercely subsided; one by one the
sparks turned grey; the last one wavered a little and then disappeared.
She turned, her sultry eyes still wet, to where her father had sat. And
as she turned Mr. Menemon reëntered the room. She made no effort to
account for his absence; she was all in all in her present idea, and
she went forward to him at once.

"Did she forgive you?" she asked.

"Who?"

"My mother."

Mr. Menemon made no answer, but his face spoke for him.

"Then I will," she cried, and wound her arms about his neck. "I will
forgive you for her."

"There is another whom you must forgive as well," he answered, gently.

"But you assured me he had done no wrong."

"Nor has he, I think." He hesitated a second. "Come down-stairs," he
added; "we can discuss it better there." And taking her hand in his he
led her from the room.

On reaching the parlor below, he drew the portière aside that she might
pass, and then, as they say in France, he eclipsed himself. Eden entered
unattended. Her father, she supposed, was following her, and she was
about to address some remark to him, when before her, in the dim light
of twin candelabras, she perceived her husband.

Usselex was standing bolt upright, in the position of one who has come
not to render accounts, but to demand them. In his attitude there was
nothing of the repentant sinner, and at sight of him Eden felt herself
tricked. She turned in search of her father, but he had gone. Then,
seeing herself deserted, and yet disdaining retreat, she summoned the
princess air which was ever at her bidding, and crossed the room.

"Why have you left the house?" he began, abruptly.

To this Eden made no answer. She lowered the yellow shade of one candle
and busied herself with another.

"Why did you leave me last night?" he continued. And as she made no
reply, "Why," he asked, "why are you here?"

But still she was silent. To his questions she was dumb. It was as
though she had shut some door between him and her.

"Will you not speak?" he muttered.

And then, for the first time, she looked up at him, measuring him as it
were with one chill glance from head to heel. "If I remember rightly,"
she said, from the tips of her lips, "you left me for your mistress."

"It is false----" Usselex exclaimed. Presumably he was about to make
further protest, but the portière was drawn aside and he was
interrupted.



X.


As it afterwards appeared, Dugald Maule, on leaving the Usselex house
the preceding evening, had gone directly to the Assembly. On arriving,
he went up through the ferns to the vestiary, left his coat and hat, and
while putting on his gloves, gazed down from the balcony which Lander
occupies to the ball-room below.

A quadrille was in progress; a stream of willowy girls, fresh for the
better part, well-dressed and exceptionally plain, were moving about the
floor. They seemed serene and stupid, chattering amiably through pauses
of the dance; and beneath, on the dais, Maule divined the presence of
Mrs. Manhattan, Mrs. Hackensack, Mrs. Bouvery, the Coenties, and other
ladies of maturer years. He was sure they were smiling and fanning
themselves. They always were. And presently, when his gloves were
buttoned, he fell to wondering what he was doing there. The incidents of
the evening had supplied him with a quantum of thought which he had no
desire to dispense in platitude. He was not at all in a mood to mingle
with those whose chiefest ambition was to be ornate. In another minute
he recovered his coat, and to the surprise of the door-keeper went down
through the ferns again. In the memory of man no one before had ever
come to a subscription-ball and deserted it two minutes later. He must
be ill, Johnson reflected, and went on collecting tickets.

Maule, however, was not in any sense indisposed, and as evidence of it
he walked far up Fifth Avenue, and on through the outskirts of the Park.
It was his intention, self-avowed and dominant, that he would come to
some decision in regard to Eden before that walk was done.

Like many another before and since, he found his brain most active when
his legs were in motion. In working up a case for a client, many a time
during an entire day he had reviewed dust-bound books of yellow hue, but
the one point, the clinching argument that was to arrest attention and
win the cause, came to him in the exhilaration of the open air. The
inspiration that was to coördinate conflicting data rarely visited him
at his desk. It was in the fatigue of the flesh that his mind became
clairvoyant. It was then that he found the logic for his brief. And on
this particular evening, as he strode along he kept telling himself that
in all his practice there had been nothing to him as important as this.
It was his own case that he was preparing; and did it result in failure,
how could he venture to undertake one in which the interest would be
feigned and the recompense coin? If he could not plead his own case and
win, then might he take his shingle down.

The facts, such, at least, as they appeared to him, were evangelical in
their simplicity. Here was a girl who had given him her heart's first
love, a girl who had exalted him into an ideal, and then, suspecting
him of infidelity to her, had married the next comer out of pique. No
sooner did he have a chance of exchanging speech with her than she
confessed that she hated her husband.

"Now," he reflected, "when a woman takes a man sufficiently into her
confidence to admit that she hates her husband, that admission is
tantamount to an avowal of love for him. Such admission she has made to
me. Nothing conceivable could have been more explicit than her words."
And at the memory of them he nodded sagaciously to himself. "No other
girl," he continued, "no other in all the world, is as desirable as she.
St. Denis would have hypothecated his aureole to possess her. As I sat
with her to-night I felt mediæval from ears to heel. If our age were a
century or two younger I would have carried her off to a crenelated
castle, let down the draw-bridge, and defied the law. But my apartment
in the Cumberland is hardly a donjon; a hansom is not a vehicle suited
to an elopement; Lochinvar is out of fashion; and besides, she would not
have gone. No, she would not have gone; so the other objections are
immaterial. But then, there are girls who will not go at the asking, but
who will come without instigation. And Eden, I take it, is one of them.
It was six months before she would so much as let me touch the tips of
her fingers; she was afraid of a kiss as of a bee; and at the very
moment when I had given her up she threw herself in my arms: it is true,
she never repeated the performance, which was a pity; though had it not
been for that little affair of mine, we should in all probability be man
and wife to-night. After all, it is for the best, I suppose." And again
he nodded sagaciously.

"Yes," he repeated, "it is for the best. Someone--Shakspere, Martin
Luther, Tupper, or Chauncey Depew--said that there were some good
marriages, but none that were delicious; and I daresay that whoever said
it was right. Yes, certainly it is for the best. It may be sweet and
decorous, as I used to write in my copy-book, to die for one's native
land; but I will be shot if it is sweet and decorous to marry for it.
And practically that is what it amounts to. Men marry for the sake of
others, rarely for their own, and as for women, whatever their reasons
may be, _plaudite sed cavite, cives_! Eden, I am positive, married out
of pique. It is nonsense to think that she could have any large
affection for a man twice her age; and now that she is not only tired of
him, but hates him to boot, he ought to be gentlemanly enough not to
play the dog in the manger. No, it isn't that. I will admit that he is
well enough in his way, provided that way is out of mine. The difficulty
is that he doesn't seem to keep out of hers. Major premiss,
then--Eden-hates Usselex. Minor premiss--Usselex keeps her from me.
Ergo. Eliminate Usselex, and she is mine. The logic of that is
admirable; the only fault with it is that it doesn't give a hint as to
the manner in which Usselex is to be eliminated. He may eliminate
himself, it is true; but that is a possibility that it is hardly worth
while to count on. And, meanwhile, I know Eden well enough to be aware
that until he does she will decline to listen to me."

Maule had reached the upper part of the Avenue. The night was chill and
clear as our December nights are apt to be. There was a foretaste of
snow in the air, and in that foretaste a tonic. And suddenly the
cathedral loomed, huge, yet unsteepled, as though the designers had lost
heart in its carcass and faith as well. The sky seemed remote and
unneighborly. In the background the moon glinted in derision, and
directly overhead was a splatter of callous stars.

The scene did not divert the channel of his thoughts. He walked steadily
on, leaving behind him the dogma that time had fossilized and man had
forgot. He was indifferent to creeds. The apathy of the stars told him
nothing of worlds to which our own is unknown. In the derision of the
moon he did not see the sneer of a sphere that is dead. The foretaste of
snow in the air brought him no memory of the summer that had gone, and
when he reached the park the leafless trees that spring would regarment
left him unimpressed. The identity of birth and death, the aimlessness
of all we undertake, were matters to which he had never given a thought.
And had the beggar who presently accosted him been a thinker capable of
explaining that life is an exhalation, that we respire, aspire, and
expire, unconscious as is the tree of the futility of it all, Dugald
Maule would have dismissed him with the same indifferent shrug. He was
instinct with aims that end with self. His mind was centered on Eden,
and until he solved the problem she had suggested, he had no thought of
time that life devours or of time that devours life.

And as he tried to devise some form of campaign, suddenly he was visited
by an idea which he grasped and detained. It was, that if Eden hated her
husband a cause for that hatred must exist, and could he but discover it
he would then have something tangible wherewith to work. Certainly, he
told himself, it could not be money; nor did Usselex look like a man
that drank. "I wonder," he mused, "whether it can be that he treats her
badly. H'm. I know very little about Usselex. He may be Chesterfield one
hour and Sykes the next. There are plenty of men of that stamp. If he
is, that poor little thing deserves consolation. No, it can hardly be
that--Eden is too high-spirited to submit to brutality. She would leave
him at once, and everyone would approve. Whereas, if Usselex has got
himself entangled by some woman, Eden, out of sheer pride, would remain
where she is. Nothing can be more galling than the pity which is
manifested for a woman whose husband disports himself abroad. It is
shameful, the world says; and inwardly the world thinks, when a woman
wins a man and fails to hold him, the fault is not his, but hers. Eden
understands that, of course, and if there is a woman in the matter, that
is the reason why she continues to reside on the sunnyside of Fifth
Avenue. But then, it may not be that. I may be miles away. Though if it
is, nothing could be more favorable. It would be becoming of Eden to
keep her misfortune to herself, but it would be unwomanly on her part
not to desire revenge; and what better revenge could she have against
the man whom she married out of pique than in the arms of the man by
whom that pique was excited? But, bah! All this is pure conjecture. I
haven't a fact to go on. I know little or nothing of Usselex, and I
doubt very much whether Eden would be willing to supply me with any
information. The only thing for me to do is to cull a few facts, season
them to suit her taste, and serve hot. At this stage a false step would
be fatal. I must be careful of my cookery. To-morrow, in the absence of
facts, I will see what I can do in the way of condiments; _et alors, en
route pour Cythère_."

So mused Mr. Maule; then, having reached the end of his tether, he
turned back again in the direction of his home.

The next morning, however, the plan of campaign which he had been
devising was not a whit more tangible to him than it had been during his
midnight stroll. He drank some coffee hopefully, and tried to lose
himself in a damp copy of the _Times_. But in vain. The coffee brought
him no comfort, and through the columns of the paper came the sultriness
of Eden's eyes. The obituary of a famous general failed to detain his
attention. The intelligence that an emperor was moribund lent no zest
to the day. Mechanically his eyes scanned the Court Calendar; a case in
which he was to appear was numbered therein, but he let it pass
unnoticed. And presently, finding himself occupied in memorizing the
advertisement of a new soap, he tossed the paper from him and started on
his way down town.

It was late when he reached his office. In the corner of the room a fat
little man sat patiently twirling his thumbs, and on a desk were a
number of letters.

"What do you want?" Maule asked. His voice was gruff and inhospitable.

The fat little man started, and then fumbled in a pocket. "Dere was dot
morhgige----" he began.

"Come again, then," Maule interrupted; "I am busy."

"Dot morhgige--" the little man persisted.

"Go to hell with your mortgage," Maule shouted, and slammed a door in
his face.

This rite accomplished, he felt better. The brutality which he had
displayed to the corpulent dwarf pleasured him. He only regretted that
the man had not insisted further, that he might have kicked him down
the stairs. What was a mortgage to him, forsooth, when he had Eden for a
goal? The episode, trivial though it was, had stirred his pulse and left
the effect of a tonic. He smiled, and opened his letters. As he read
them his clerk appeared. With him he consulted for a minute and then
started for court. On his return there was the little fat man again, and
beating a tatoo on the window was Reginald Maule, ex-Minister to France.

"Well, Uncle Regy," he exclaimed, "how are you? Mr. Driscoll," he called
out to the clerk, "attend to that Dutch beast, will you? Uncle Regy,
step this way."

He led Mr. Maule into the inner office and graciously accepted a cigar.
He was in great good-humor again. While in court a luminous idea had
visited him, a plan of campaign which he proposed to elaborate at his
ease. It was alluring as spring, and instinct with promises of success.
Already he roamed in dreams forecast.

"Dugald," the uncle began, "I did not see you at the Matriarch's, last
night."

Until recently Maule had not seen his uncle for several years. But
during these years the uncle had not changed. He had the same agreeable
manner, the same way of seating himself, the same sarcastic fold about
his lips which Maule remembered of old. Even the cut of his waistcoat
was unaltered. Apparently nothing had happened to him; he had contented
himself with continuing to be.

"No," the nephew answered, and flicked the ashes from his cigar. "No,
something else turned up and----"

"Exactly. If I had met you there I should not have come here. Now, I
want a word with you in regard to the estate. Are you busy?" And the
ex-Minister settled himself in his chair with the air of a man confident
that, whatever else might demand attention, his own affairs would take
precedence.

Thereupon, for some little time, nephew and uncle discussed matters of
personal and common interest; and when at last these matters had been
satisfactorily determined, the afternoon had begun to wane. At last the
ex-Minister stood up to go.

"By the way," he said, his hand on the door, "who was it that Petrus
Menemon's daughter married? I looked for her last night. When I saw her
at the opera I could have sworn it was her mother. Same type, same eyes,
same carriage of the head. She made me feel twenty years younger, I give
you my word she did."

"She is pretty," Maule answered, negligently.

"Pretty? She is more intoxicating than the dream of a fallen angel. She
is better looking than her mother. Hum, hum. You don't see such women in
France. What did you say her name is?"

"She married a man named Usselex."

"Usselex? What Usselex?"

"What Usselex I can't tell you. But there seems to be only one, and she
caught him. He has more money than Incoul, Jerolomon, and Bleecker
Bleecker put together."

"You don't mean John Usselex, the banker?"

"Oh, but I do, though."

The ex-Minister opened the door and looked out into the outer room,
then, assured that no one was listening, he resumed his former seat,
crossed his legs, and meditatively beat his knee. In his face was an
expression which a psychologist would have admired, a commingling of the
vatic and the amused, accentuated by sarcasm.

"Well, what of it?" Maule asked shortly, perplexed at the mummery.

The ex-Minister leaned forward and for four or five minutes addressed
his nephew in a monotone. As he spoke Maule's perplexity changed to
surprise, then to bewilderment, and ultimately into jubilation. "Are you
positive of this?" he exclaimed. "Tell me that you are. You must be
positive!"

"I give you the facts--"

"I am off, then;" and he sprang from his seat. "I haven't a minute to
lose," he added; and taking his uncle by the arm he led him from the
office.

In the outer room the corpulent dwarf still sat. "Dere was dot
morhgige--" he stammered.

"Accepted," Maule shouted, and turned to the clerk. "Look over the
papers, will you? If they are right, get a check ready. As for you, my
slim friend," he said to the German, "remember that business men have
business hours." And laughing as though he had said something
insultingly original, he hurried down the stairs, and jumping into a
hansom, he presently rolled up town.

In a trifle over half an hour he was at Eden's door. "There is no time
like the present," he told himself, as he rang the bell. But when, in
answer to his ring, a servant appeared, he learned that Eden was not at
home.

"Does Mrs. Usselex dine out, do you know?" Maule asked.

"I don't think Mrs. Usselex is coming back, sir," was the answer.

"You mean that Mrs. Usselex will not return until late, I suppose."

To this the man made no reply; he scratched the end of his nose
reflectively. In his face was an expression that arrested Maule's
attention.

"What do you mean?" he asked, a sudden suspicion entering his mind.

But still the man made no answer. He raised his arms, the elbows
crooked, and assumed the appearance of an idiot.

"It is worth five dollars," Maule continued. "Here they are;" and with
that he extended a bill of the nation, which the servant took, and then,
glancing over his shoulder, whispered:

"Mrs. Usselex has gone to her father's, sir. I distrust something's
hup."

"That man ought to be dismissed," Maule decided, as he hurried down the
steps. "I say, cabby," he called to the hansom; "Second Avenue and
Stuyvesant Square."

"Damn it all," he muttered, as he seated himself in the vehicle. "I am
afraid I am late for the ball."

It took the hansom but a few minutes to reach its destination, and
presently the door of Mr. Menemon's house was opened. As Maule entered
he caught the sound of Eden's voice. "I want to see Mrs. Usselex," he
said, and without waiting for a reply, he pushed the portière aside.

"It is false," he heard Usselex exclaim.

For a second Maule hesitated. He would have preferred to have found Eden
alone. Indeed, the possibility of encountering her husband had not
occurred to him; but he felt that it was too late to recede, and visited
by that prescience which comes to the alert, he divined that the blow
which he intended to strike must be struck then or never. He let the
portière fall, and taking his courage in both hands, he stepped forward.
As he did so, Eden, in annoyance at the intrusion, moved back, and
Usselex, with a query on his tongue, turned to him. But before the
latter could frame his words, Maule had spoken.

"Mr. Usselex," he said, with the air of one ventilating a conventional
platitude, "are you aware that a man who insults a woman is a coward?"

At this speech Eden's hands fluttered like falling leaves; she made as
would she speak, but Usselex motioned to her to be silent, and flicking
a speck of dust from his sleeve as though the speck represented the
reproof, he answered in a tone as conventional as Maule's. "And are you
aware, sir, that a man who permits himself to interfere between husband
and wife is--"

But whatever he may have intended to say, the sentence remained
unfinished. Maule did not wait for its completion. He advanced yet
nearer to where Usselex stood, he looked him in the face, and without
raising his voice, he said: "This lady, Mr. Usselex, is not your wife,
nor are you her husband." Then, turning to Eden, he added with the grace
of a knight-errant, "Miss Menemon, allow me to present my
congratulations."

The old legends tell of disputants ossified by one glance of Jove's
avenging stare; and when Maule made his melodramatic announcement, both
Usselex and Eden stood transfixed and motionless with surprise. Of the
little group Maule alone preserved any semblance of animation. The palms
of his hands were moist, and he felt unable to control one of the
muscles of his face. But his emotion was not apparent. Outwardly he was
perfectly self-possessed, and admonished by that instinct which at times
warns us that every trace of feeling should be disguised, he succeeded
in heightening the illusion by means of his moustache, to which he
proceeded to give a negligent twirl.

And as he twirled it Eden seemed to recover from her stupor. To her
face, which had been blanched, the color returned. In her eyes came a
gleam as from a reflection caught from without. Her lips moved, and she
glanced from accuser to accused. And as she glanced, dumb and
ineffectual of speech, Mr. Menemon crossed the room.

"What is it you say?" he asked.

It was evident at once that of the scene--which if long in the telling
had in reality not outlasted a moment--he had stood as witness.

"What is it you say?" he repeated.

"I say that this man is a bigamist." And as Maule spoke he tossed his
head as though inviting possible contradiction. "I say," he continued,
"that Mr. John Usselex has a wife living in Paris."

Mr. Menemon smoothed the back of his head reflectively. "Dear me!" he
said; "that may all be. I daresay there are hundreds of John Usselexes.
You don't expect them to remain bachelors because one of their name-sake
gets married, do you?" And with that he nodded and turned with a smile
to his daughter. "He can't expect that, Eden, can he?"

But Eden's eyes were fixed on Usselex. Her attention was wholly centered
in him. Seemingly her father's words were unheeded. And the old
gentleman turned again to Maule.

"What evidence have you that this John Usselex is the John Usselex of
whom you speak?" he asked; and with the hand with which he had smoothed
the back of his head, he now began to caress his chin.

But before Maule could answer, Eden caught her father by the arm. "His
face!" she whispered quickly. "You can see it in his face." She pointed
to him; in her eyes was conviction, and in her voice no tremor of doubt.
"Look at him," she cried; "it is he."

Usselex turned to her in a manner which to those present was
uninterpretable, then his eyes sought Mr. Menemon's, and finally he
lowered them to the ground. His attitude was tantamount to admission,
and as such Eden construed it.

"Thank God!" she exclaimed. "O God! I thank you. I am free." She still
clutched her father's arm, and Maule made a movement toward her.

"Yes," he said, as he did so, "yes, Miss Menemon----"

But before he could reach her, Usselex barred the way. "By what right,
sir--" he began, very firmly, but Eden interrupted him.

"I told you once that I thought Miss Bolten was interested in him. Let
me tell you now he is in love with me."

"Eden, Eden--" her father murmured, reprovingly. Into Usselex' face came
an expression that a demon might have envied. For a second he fronted
Maule, his hand clenched. Then the fingers loosened again. The demon was
transformed into a quiet, self-possessed man, that looked like a monk, a
trifle valetudinarian at that.

"Madam," he said, "when a woman speaks in that way to the man whose name
she bears, there is but one thing for him to do, and that is to
withdraw." He bowed, and without further comment left the room.

"I don't bear your name," Eden called after him, but he had gone. "I
don't bear your name; I throw it to the mud from which it sprang."

"And you are right, Miss Menemon," Maule echoed. "You are right to do
so." And again he moved to her.

"Don't touch me," the girl cried; she was trembling. Evidently the
excitement had been too much for her. "Don't touch me," she repeated;
and drawing from him as from a distasteful thing, she added, with a look
of scorn that an insulted princess might have exhibited: "Though you
have not a lackey's livery, you have a lackey's heart."

"Eden, I beg of you--" Mr. Menemon began. But the girl had turned her
back, and divining the uselessness of any admonition, the old gentleman
addressed himself to Maule. "You will permit me to say, sir," he
continued, "that whatever your motive may have been, and whatever
evidence you may have, your announcement might have been conveyed a
trifle less unceremoniously. I bid you good afternoon."

"But----"

"I bid you good afternoon."

Maule twirled his moustache for a second, and then, with a glance at
Eden, he too left the room.

Hardly had he gone, when Eden threw herself on a lounge. In her ears was
the roar of water displaced. The flooring turned from red to black. Then
all was still; she had fainted.



XI.


As Eden, through thunderclaps, and zig-zagged flames of light, groped
back to consciousness again, it was with the intuition that some
calamity was waiting to greet her. Into the depths of her being, a voice
which refused to be hushed had been whispering, "Come." And Eden,
clinging to the fringes of night, strove to still the call. But the
phantom of things that were persisted and overcame her; it loomed
abruptly, with arms outstretched, forcing her against her will, to
reason with that in which no reason was.

For the moment she was benumbed, out-wearied with effort and enervated
by the strain and depletion of force. She wished herself unconscious
again, and looked back into the absence of sentiency from which she had
issued, as a pilgrim reëntering the desert may recall the groves of
Mekka and the silence of the Khabian tomb. It had been less a swoon to
her than a foretaste of peace, the antithesis of life compressed into a
second; and she longed for a repetition of the sudden suffocation of its
embrace. But memory had got its baton back, and the incidents of the
hour trooped before her gaze. She could not be free of them; they beat
at her heart, filling her thoughts to fulfillment itself. In their
onslaught they brought her new strength, the courage that comes to the
oppressed; and rising from the lounge on which she had fallen, she left
her father and his ministrations, and redescended into the past with
anger for aigrette and hatred for spur.

It was the room that she had occupied during her girlhood to which she
then went, and in the presence of the familiar walls, something reminded
her of the days in which she had believed that the ignoble bore a stigma
on their brow, that infamy of thought or deed left a visible sign. She
recalled the old legends with which her childhood had been charmed, the
combats of heroes with monsters, the struggles of lords with lies. In
those days indeed, evil had been to her an abstraction, a figure of
speech beckoned out of the remotest past, and unencounterable as the
giant bat that darkened the nights of prehistoric time. Then had come a
nearer acquaintance with it, the shudders that chronicles brought, and
the intimations of the fabliaux; but still it had been distant, a
belonging of the past incompetent of survival. And it was not until
within recent years that she learned that it had indeed survived. Even
then the tidings that reached her had as much consistency to her mind as
the news of cholera in Singapore. She could not picture that Orient
port, and the cholera she was sure would never attack her in her
father's house.

And now suddenly she was contaminated. She felt as one may feel who had
been lured into a lazar of lepers. Turn which way she might she could
never wash herself clean. She was degraded in her own sight, and tricked
by those whom she had trusted best. And no issue, not one. The dishonor
into which she had been trapped was a thing that clamored for redress,
and to that clamoring of her heart no answer was vouchsafed. "O God,"
she moaned, "is justice dead? Where are the thunderbolts you used to
wield? Have you wearied of vengeance? have you left it, Jehovah, to us?"

Her forehead was throbbing as it had never throbbed before. Above it
each individual hair seemed to be turning red. Her sultry eyes were
dilated; she was quivering from shoulder to heel. And as in her restless
anger she paced the room, before her on the wall glowed the device her
own hands had made--_Keep Yourself Pure_. For a second she stared at it,
the color mounting and retreating from her cheeks, and suddenly she tore
it down and trampled it under foot.

"Vengeance is there," she cried; and without even the hesitation of a
hesitation she bent over a table, and finding a sheet of paper, she
scrawled across it--_In telling you of Maule's love for me I omitted to
tell you of my own for Adrian._ This she addressed and then rang the
bell.

And as she stood waiting for a servant to come, there was a rap on the
door and her father entered. He looked at her for an instant and rubbed
his hands. "It is chilly here, Eden," he said; "had you not better come
down-stairs?"

"Is it worth while? It must be late. Where is Parker? has she not come
with my things?"

"Yes; it is almost six o'clock. Parker--"

"Six! I thought it was midnight. How long have I been here?"

"Three or four minutes at most. I had a note to write. So soon as I
could do so I followed you at once. You are quite yourself again, Eden,
are you not?"

"I can understand," mused Eden, "that there are years that count double
when there are moments that prolong themselves as have these." "Yes,"
she answered, aloud. "I am better. I will come with you."

She picked up the message she had written and left the room. In the
hallway was the servant for whom she had rung. "Take this to Fifth
Avenue," she said. "There is no answer, but see that it is delivered in
person."



XII.


"It is pleasanter here, is it not, Eden?" Mr. Menemon asked, when they
reached the sitting-room. "It makes one think of old times, doesn't it?
Do you remember--" And Mr. Menemon rambled on with some anecdote of days
long past.

Eden gazed at him wonderingly. His words passed her by unheeded. It was
bewildering to her that he could accept the tragedy so lightly, and as
he spoke she kept repeating to herself that Virginius was part of a
world long dead and derided. Truly, she could not understand. He seemed
conscious of no wrong doing. The position in which she was placed
excited him so little that he was able to discourse in platitudes. She
was not wife nor maid nor widow, and for the man who had taken her from
her home and inflicted on her a wrong that merited the penitentiary, her
father expressed no indignation, no sorrow even. He did not even attempt
to condole with her. And it was to him she had turned. Truly, she was
helpless indeed. Yet still she gazed at him, expectant of some sudden
outbreak, some storm of anger which, though it parodied her own, would
at least be in unison with it. Her fingers were restless and her mouth
was parched, a handkerchief which she held she twisted into coils, it
seemed to her that were no word of sympathy forthcoming she would
suffocate, as the traveler in the desert gasps beneath the oppression of
fair and purple skies.

And still Mr. Menemon rambled on. "I should have gone to his funeral,"
he said, "had you not come in. He is to be buried in Washington I hear.
Well, well! he was a brave man and a staunch friend. Yes, he was all of
that. Really, Eden, I ought to have gone. I suppose they will escort the
body to the station. Did you hear the drums when you went up-stairs? It
makes a man of my age feel that his turn may be next."

Mr. Menemon crossed the room and looked out of the window. "See, Eden,"
he continued; "there must be a whole regiment. Not his own, though. The
better part of that went down at Gettysburg. You remember, don't
you----"

With this Mr. Menemon turned with a haste he strove to conceal. "It's
almost dinner time," he added, inconsequently. "I will just change my
coat." And immediately he left the room.

For a moment Eden thought she heard his voice in the hall. Then all was
still again. She was wholly alone. She envied her father's friend who
lay in some catafalque across the square. And presently the sense of
desolation grew so acute that she threw herself prostrate on the lounge,
and clasping a cushion in her arms, she buried her face in its silk.

From the square beyond came a muffled roll, and on her shoulder the
touch of a hand. It was her father, she was sure. She half turned, her
cheeks wet with tears. "What is it?" she sobbed. "Father----"

"It is I, Eden." And through a rift of understanding there filtered the
sound of Usselex's voice. With the flutter of a bird surprised, she
looked up. She started, and would have risen, but the hand weighed her
down. She tried to move, and raising her arm as though to shield her
eyes from some distasteful sight, suddenly she extended it, and motioned
him back.

"Eden," he began.

"Don't speak to me!" she cried; and shaking herself from his hold, she
stood up and dashed the tears away. "Don't speak to me!" she repeated;
"and if anywhere within the purlieus of your being there is a spark of
shame, leave me, and never----"

"Eden, you are unjust."

"Ah, I am unjust, am I not? I am unjust, because I believed in you. I am
unjust, because I discover you in some coarse intrigue, I am unjust,
because I thought myself your wife. I am unjust, am I? Did you get my
note? Is it for that that you are here?"

"Eden, if you will listen a moment----"

"I have listened too long. Where is my father? Why is it you pursue me
here? Are you not satisfied with your work? You meet a girl who only
wishes to trust, and before her eyes you unroll a panorama of deceit.
Oh! you chose her well----"

"It cannot be that you believe that man, Eden----"

"The man I believed was you. What matters the testimony of others when I
find myself deceived----"

"Eden, you have deceived yourself. Last night I told you there were
things I had not wished to tell, not from lack of confidence, but
because----"

"Because you knew that did I hear them I would go."

"No, not that; but because I did not wish to cause you pain."

"Yes, protest. My father said you would. But the protest comes too
late. Besides, I do not care to listen."

And thereat she made a movement as though to leave the room. But this
Usselex prevented. He planted himself very firmly before her. His
attitude was arrestive as an obelisk and uncircuitable as a labyrinth.
Attention was his to command, and he claimed it with a gesture.

"You shall not go," he said; "you shall hear me."

She stepped back to elude him, but he caught her by the wrist.

"Look at me," he continued. "It took fifty years to make my hair gray;
one day has made it white."

Eden succeeded in disengaging herself from his grasp, and she succeeded
the more easily in that a servant unobserved by her, yet seen by
Usselex, had entered the room. He loosed his hold at once and glanced at
the man.

"What is it?" he asked. "No one rang."

"A letter, sir," the man answered; "it was to be delivered to you."

Usselex took the note and held it unexamined in his hand. Eden caught a
glimpse of the superscription. The writing was her own. It was, she
knew, the note which she had dispatched a half hour before. Meanwhile
the servant had withdrawn.

"When I came home this afternoon," Usselex continued, "and found that
you had gone, I could not understand----"

"You might have gone to the Ranleigh for information. Let me pass!"

"Why to the Ranleigh? surely----"

"To Mrs. Feverill, then, since you wish me to be explicit. Let me pass,
I say."

"It was of her I wished to tell you----"

"Was it, indeed? You were considerate enough, however, not to do so."

"Let me tell you now?"

"Rather let me go. I prefer your reticence to your confidence."

"Eden----"

"No, I have no need to learn more of your mistress----"

Usselex stepped aside. "She is my daughter," he said, sadly. "Go, since
you wish to."

--"Nor of your wife," she added, as he spoke.

"I have no other wife than you," he answered, and with the note which he
held in his hand he toyed despondently. As yet he had not so much as
glanced at the address.

Something, a light, an intonation, and influence undiscerned yet
sentiable, stayed her steps. She halted in passing and looked him in the
face. And he, seeing that she hesitated, repeated with an accent sincere
as that which is heard in the voice of the moribund, "No other wife than
you."

"You say that Mrs. Feverill is your daughter?" she exclaimed. It may be
that the average woman, conscious of her own mobility, is more
inattentive of the past than of the present. But however that may be,
the assurance which Eden had just received seemed to affect her less
than the preceding announcement. "You say that she is your daughter,"
she repeated. "Why, you told me--You said--"

"I have told you nothing. Will you sit a moment and let me tell you
now?"

Coerced and magnetized, the girl moved back and sank down again on the
lounge. Usselex still toyed absently with the note, and as he too found
a seat, for the first time she recalled its contents. Then a shudder
beset her.

"I ought perhaps," he began, "to have been franker in this matter. But
my excuse, if it be one, is that I was dissuaded by your father. Before
I ventured to ask you to marry me, I told my story to him, and he
counselled silence. What I say to you now he will substantiate. Shall I
ring and ask him to come here?"

His words reached her from inordinate distances, across preceding days,
and out of and through the note which he held in his hand; and with them
came the acutest pain. "He is telling the truth," she reflected, "and I
deserve to die."

"Shall I ring?" he repeated.

She started and shook her head. "No, no," she replied. "Go on."

"I thank you," Usselex returned. "I can understand that enough has
occurred to shake your confidence. In the circumstances, it is good of
you to be willing to receive my unsupported word. But bear with me a
moment. You will see, I think, that I have done no wrong."

As he spoke she had but one thought, to repossess herself of the note.
Could she but get it and tear it and set it aflame, out of the cinders
life might re-arise.

"You may remember," he continued, "what I said of myself, 'things have
not always been pleasant with me.' You knew as a child what it is to
lose a mother, but think what it must be to have a mother and have that
mother ignore your existence. Such a thing is hard, is it not? But of
her I will not speak; she is dead, poor woman; I hope she never suffered
as have I. The people by whom I was brought up I looked upon as my
parents. They had been paid to adopt me. When I discovered that, I was
old enough to make my own living. With that view I came to this country.
New York was different then. I should not care to land here now and
attempt to make a fortune without a penny to start with. But it is
true, I was young. I was a fair linguist, a rarity in those days, and it
was not long before I found a situation. When I had a little money put
by, I learned of an opening in Boston, and started in business there for
myself. Shortly after I became acquainted with a girl. She was very
beautiful; more so, I thought, than anyone I had ever seen. So soon as I
was in a position to marry she became my wife. We lived together for
three years. During that time I thought her affection as unwavering as
my own. She was an excellent musician, and much sought after, not alone
because of her talent, but because of her beauty as well. The
entertainments which she frequented I was often unable to attend. But I
was glad to have her go without me. I was proud of the admiration which
she aroused. One evening she left me, and did not return. For some time
her disappearance was unexplained. Ultimately I discovered that she was
in New York. She had deserted me for another man. I followed her and
obtained a divorce. Afterwards the man deserted her as she had deserted
me. Then she went abroad. Of her life there I can only judge by hearsay.
I believe that at one time she figured in an opera troupe. Now and then
she wrote, asking for money; but latterly she has ceased. It is a
surprise to me that she calls herself by my name. Perhaps she has done
so because she heard that I had prospered. The reflection of that
prosperity may have been of advantage to her. That, however, can easily
be stopped. But I am sorry, Eden, that you should have learned of it.
Even the children do not know; they think her dead. When she deserted
me, I left them with their grand-parents. In so doing I sought to
separate myself from everything connected with her, and I stipulated
that I would provide for their maintenance on condition that they were
kept in ignorance of their mother's existence and of mine. Some years
ago, however, first the grandfather, then the grandmother, died. I was
obliged to appear more prominently. My daughter had married; I took her
husband into my employ. It was of him I spoke the other day."

He hesitated and paused, his eyes fixed in hers. The phrases had come
from him haltingly, one by one, but each he had dowered with an accent
that carried conviction with it. With the note which he held in his
hand, he still toyed abstractedly.

"You understand now, do you not?" he asked. "You understand and
forgive?"

And Eden, as one who has weathered a storm and sees shipwreck imminent
in port bowed her head. "It is truth," she told herself. "If he reads
that note, he will kill me."

"You understand now, do you not?" he repeated. His voice was sonorous
and caressing as an anthem, and he bent nearer that he might see her
face.

"Too late!" she answered.

"No, Eden, not that. Look at me. You must not hide your eyes. In all the
world there are none as fair as they. Look at me, Eden. Tell me that you
forgive. I have pained you, I know; I have been stupid; but the pain has
been unwitting and the stupidity born of love. Look at me, Eden. See,"
he continued, and bent at her side, "See, I ask forgiveness on my
knees. Can you not give it me?"

"To you, yes, but never to myself." She spoke hoarsely, in a voice
unlike her own; her eyes were not in his, they were staring at something
in his hand, and as she stared, she seemed to shrink. The muscles of her
face were rigid. And Usselex, perplexed at the fixidity of her gaze,
followed the direction which her eyes had taken and saw that they rested
on the note which he still held, crumpled and forgotten. For a second he
looked at it wonderingly, "Why, it is from you," he exclaimed.

In that second, Eden, with the prescience that is said to visit those
that drown, went forward and back, into the past and into the future as
well. Amid her scattered yesterdays she groped for a promise. Of the
unanswering morrows she called for release, and as her husband stood up,
preparing to read what she had written, she felt herself the depository
of shame.

The next instant she was at his side. "Give it me," she murmured. Her
voice trembled a little, but she strove to render it assured. "Give it
me," she pleaded.

Usselex turned to her at once. "Certainly, if you wish it," he said.
"What is it about?"

He held the note to her, and she, with an affected air of indifference,
took it from him and tossed it into the grate.

"Nothing," she answered, and then, as though ashamed of the falsehood,
she looked him bravely in the face. "It was about your clerk."

"Adrian?" he asked. And as she nodded, tremulous still and unprepared
for further questions, he added, "I hope you like him."

"You hope I like him?"

"Yes, he is my son."

Eden's hands went to her throat and her eyes to the grate. The note was
already in a blaze.

"Yes," Usselex continued, "I have a bit of news for you. He is engaged
to Miss Bolton. For a long time her parents objected, but last night
they consented. It may be because he was at the opera with you. How
small people can be!" he added. "She is a nice girl, though. Adrian
told me this morning that he tried to speak to you about her the night I
dined with Governor Blanchford, but that you did not seem interested."

"God in Heaven!" gasped Eden, beneath her breath. "If these are your
punishments, what then are your rewards?"

Usselex had led her to a seat and taken her unresisting hand in his. For
some little time he talked to her, very gently, as it behooves the
strong to address the weak. And as he spoke, Mr. Menemon entered, and
seeing them hand-locked and side-by-side, he smiled cheerily to himself
with the air of a man who learns that all is well.

Usselex stood up at once, but for a little space Eden sat very still,
surprised as February at a violet, then rising, she went forward to the
window and looked out at the night. From the square beyond came the beat
of drums, and on the breeze was borne to her the shrill treble of
retreating fifes. And as she loitered at the window, conscious only of a
sense of happiness such as she had never known before, her father called
to her. She turned at his bidding. In the opposite doorway a servant
stood.

"Dinner is served," he said.

And presently Mr. Menemon, as was his custom, mumbled a grace and
thanksgiving to God.

     THE END.



POPULAR BOOKS

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YORK.


Memories of the Men Who Saved the Union

Lincoln, Stanton, Chase, Seward, Gen. Thomas, etc., with new portraits.
By Donn Piatt.

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Henry Ward Beecher

Christian Philosopher, Pulpit Orator, Patriot and Philanthropist.

A volume of representative selections from the Sermons, Lectures,
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       *       *       *       *       *

The Life of Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ

By Rev. John Fleetwood, D.D., with notes by Rev. T. Newton Brown, D.D.
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       *       *       *       *       *

Poems of Passion

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       *       *       *       *       *

Maurine, and Other Poems

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Studies in Social Life

A review of the Principles, Practices and Problems of Society. By George
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       *       *       *       *       *

Two Thousand and Ten Choice Quotations, In Poetry and Prose, from the
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       *       *       *       *       *

Mes Amours, Poems Passionate and Playful, By Selina Dolaro.

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       *       *       *       *       *

Ashes of The Future: The Suicide of Sylvester Gray

By Edward Heron-Allen.

     "Is the work of a very vigorous and cultivated pen as well as of a
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       *       *       *       *       *

Anti-Poverty and Progress

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       *       *       *       *       *

Forty Years on the Rail

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       *       *       *       *       *

The Politics of Labor

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Prince Coastwind's Victory, or the Fairy Bride of Croton Lake

By Mrs. Niles H. MacNamara. I Vol. illustrated.

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       *       *       *       *       *

The Truth about Tristrem Varick

By Edgar Saltus, author of "Mr. Incouls Misadventure," "The
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       *       *       *       *       *

It is the Law

A story of marriage and divorce in New York. By Thomas Edgar
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       *       *       *       *       *

Man and Labor

A Series of short and simple studies, by Cyrus Elder.

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The Confessions of a Society Man

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       *       *       *       *       *

Divorced

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Two Women in Black

By James Mooney. Mooney & Boland Detective Series. Profusely
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Shadowed to Europe

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The Vanderbilts

By W. A. Crofutt. Illustrated with portraits of the Vanderbilt
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       *       *       *       *       *

Her Desperate Victory

By Mrs. M. L. Rayne, author of "Against Fate," "What a Woman Can
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       *       *       *       *       *

Love's Ladder

A Novel. By W. DeWitt Wallace.

     "This story is a powerful one and rivets the attention from
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       *       *       *       *       *

The Veteran and His Pipe

Being the famous articles from the Chicago _Inter Ocean_.

     "Of even more importance than many of the more pretentious volumes
     which aim to set aright the story of a campaign."--_Chicago Times._

       *       *       *       *       *

Legends and Superstitions of The Sea

By Lieut. Bassett of the U. S. Navy, with numerous fine
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     "A valuable work of reference."--_United Service Magazine, New
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     "Entertaining to read and valuable as a book of reference."--The_
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       *       *       *       *       *

Ingersollia

Gems of Thoughts from the Lectures, Speeches and Conversations of
Col. Robert G. Ingersoll, with portrait.

       *       *       *       *       *

The Kentucky Housewife

A collection of Recipes for Cooking. By Mrs. Peter A. White.

       *       *       *       *       *

The Every-Day Cook Book

By Miss M. E. Neill. Economical, Reliable, Excellent.

       *       *       *       *       *

Ten Minute Sketches--Essays Humorous, Satirical, Sentimental and
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By Chas. H. Ham.

       *       *       *       *       *

A Man of Destiny. Letters to Grover Cleveland, President Elect

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       *       *       *       *       *

Why We are Democrats; Or, the Principles and Policies of the
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       *       *       *       *       *

Seneca's Morals: "A Happy Life," "Benefits," "Anger," and
"Clemency"

Translated by Sir Roger L'Estrange.

       *       *       *       *       *

A History of the United States

In Chronological Order from A. D. 482 to the present time (1886).

       *       *       *       *       *

The Truth about Alcohol

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       *       *       *       *       *

Needles and Brushes, and How to Use Them

Directions for Embroidery and Fancy Work, with 150 illustrations.

       *       *       *       *       *

Tennyson's Birthday Book

Edited by Emily Shakespeare.

       *       *       *       *       *

The Tariff.

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     present tariff fight will find this volume invaluable.

       *       *       *       *       *

Bancroft's History of the Colonization of the United States

By George Bancroft. Two vols. in one

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Fifty Years a Queen; or, Great Britain under Queen Victoria

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       *       *       *       *       *

Eating and Living

Diet in relation to Age and Activity. By Sir Henry Thompson

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       *       *       *       *       *

Treasures New and Old; or, Many Thoughts For Many Hours

Selections in Prose and Poetry. By Alice L. Williams. Illustrated with
64 full-page illustrations, by Irene Jerome.

       *       *       *       *       *

Laurel Leaves

Poems, Stories and Essays. By Henry W. Longfellow and others. With 75
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       *       *       *       *       *

Lotus Leaves

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       *       *       *       *       *

Papyrus Leaves

A companion to "Laurel Leaves" and "Lotus Leaves," comprising Poems,
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artists.

       *       *       *       *       *

New Stories from an Old Book

(Biblical Characters with Modern Titles.) By Rev. H. L. Hammond
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       *       *       *       *       *

Painters of the Italian Renaissance

By Edith Healy. Illustrated by 25 original copperplate engravings or
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       *       *       *       *       *

The Story of Manon Lescaut

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THE MOST POPULAR LINE OF HUMOROUS BOOKS PUBLISHED.

Bill Nye's Chestnuts, Old and New.

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Baled Hay, By Bill Nye.

Forty Liars and Other Lies, By Bill Nye.

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       *       *       *       *       *

GEO. W. PECK'S POPULAR BOOKS.

How Private Geo. W. Peck put down the Rebellion, Or, The Funny
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Peck's Bad Boy and his Pa, No. 2

Peck's Sunshine

Peck's Fun

Peck's Boss Book

Peck's Compendium of Fun

       *       *       *       *       *

Lime Kiln Club

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       *       *       *       *       *

Eli Perkins' Wit, Humor and Pathos

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A Tramp Actor

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OUR FAMOUS CAXTON LIST OF POPULAR BOOKS.

200 VOLUMES.

WORKS OF ADVENTURE.

    Adventures Among The Indians. By W. H. Kingston.
    Beauchampe. By W. Gilmore Simms.
    Border Beagles. By W. Gilmore Simms.
    Cast Up By The Sea. By Sir Samuel Baker.
    Charlemont. By W. Gilmore Simms.
    Confession. By W. Gilmore Simms.
    Deep Down. By R. M. Ballantyne.
    Deerslayer (The). By Fenimore Cooper.
    Don Quixote. By Miguel Cervantes.
    Erling, The Bold. By R. M. Ballantyne.
    Eutaw. By W. Gilmore Simms.
    Fire Brigade, The. By R. M. Ballantyne.
    Forayers (The). By W. Gilmore Simms.
    Giant Raft (The). By Jules Verne.
    Guy Rivers. By W. Gilmore Simms.
    Hunting In The Great West. By G. O. Shields.
    Katharine Walton. By W. Gilmore Simms.
    Last of The Mohicans (The). By Fenimore Cooper.
    Mellichampe. By W. Gilmore Simms.
    Mysterious Island, (The.) By Jules Verne.
    Partisan (The). By W. Gilmore Simms.
    Pathfinder (The). By Fenimore Cooper.
    Perilous Adventures, By Land and Sea. By John Frost, LL.D
    Rifle and Hound In Ceylon. By Sir Samuel Baker.
    Richard Hurdis. By W. Gilmore Simms.
    Robinson Crusoe. By Daniel Defoe.
    Scout (The). By W. Gilmore Simms.
    Secret Dispatch (The). By James Grant.
    Southward Ho! By W. Gilmore Simms.
    Spy (The). By Fenimore Cooper.
    Swiss Family Robinson. By Wyss & Montolieu.
    Thrilling Scenes Among The Indians. By T. M. Newson.
    Tour of The World In Eighty Days. By Jules Verne.
    Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea. By Jules Verne.
    Vasconselos. By W. Gilmore Simms.
    Woodcraft. By W. Gilmore Simms.
    Wigwam and Cabin (The). By W. Gilmore Simms.
    Young Foresters (The). By W. H. Kingston.
    Yamassee. By W. Gilmore Simms.

DETECTIVE STORIES.

    File 118. By Emile Gaboriau.
    Gilded Clique (The). By Emile Gaboriau.
    In Peril Of His Life. By Emile Gaboriau.
    Lerouge Case (The). By Emile Gaboriau.
    Monsieur Lecoq. By Emile Gaboriau.
    Mystery of Orcival. By Emile Gaboriau.
    Other People's Money. By Emile Gaboriau.

ESSAYS AND BELLES LETTRES.

    Alhambra. By Washington Irving.
    Astoria. By Washington Irving.
    Crown of Wild Olive and Queen of The Air. By John Ruskin.
    Ethics of The Dust and A Joy Forever. By John Ruskin.
    Heroes and Hero Worship. By Thomas Carlyle.
    Sartor Resartus. By Thomas Carlyle.
    Sesame and Lilies and Unto This Last. By John Ruskin.
    Sketch Book. By Washington Irving.

ETIQUETTE, ETC.

    Complete Letter Writer. By Thomas W. Handford.
    Ladies' Etiquette.
    Ladies' Family Physician. By Pye Henry Chavasse.
    Needles and Brushes, Embroidery and Fancy Work.
    Stoddard's Readings and Recitations. By R. H. and Elizabeth Stoddard.

FABLES AND FAIRY TALES.

    Æsop's Fables, 100 Illustrations.
    Andersen's Fairy Tales. By Hans Christian Andersen.
    Arabian Nights (The).
    Grimm's Popular Tales. By The Brothers Grimm.
    Gulliver's Travels and Baron Munchausen. By Dean Swift and R. E. Raspe.

FICTION.

    Adam Bede. By Geo. Eliot.
    Admiral's Ward. By Mrs. Alexander.
    Airy Fairy Lilian. By "The Duchess."
    All In A Garden Fair. By Besant & Rice.
    Arundel Motto (The). By Mary Cecil Hay.
    Beauty's Daughters. By "The Duchess."
    Belinda. By Rhoda Broughton.
    Beyond Pardon. By Bertha M. Clay.
    Broken Wedding Ring (A). By Bertha M. Clay.
    Called Back and Dark Days. By Hugh Conway.
    Cardinal Sin (A). By Hugh Conway.
    Children of The Abbey. By Maria Roche.
    Daughter of Heth (A). By Wm. Black.
    Doris. By "The Duchess."
    Dora Thorne. By Bertha M. Clay.
    Dick's Sweetheart. By "The Duchess."
    Dunallan. By Grace Kennedy.
    Earl's Atonement (The). By Bertha M. Clay.
    East Lynne. By Mrs. Henry Wood.
    Eugene Aram. By Bulwer Lytton.
    Endymion. By Benjamin Disraeli.
    Faith and Unfaith. By "The Duchess."
    Felix Holt. By Geo. Eliot.
    For Lilias. By Rosa N. Carey.
    Green Pastures and Picadilly. By Wm. Black.
    Great Expectations. By Chas. Dickens.
    Heart and Science. By Wilkie Collins.
    Henry Esmond. By Wm. M. Thackeray.
    Her Desperate Victory. By Mrs. M. L. Rayne.
    Her Mother's Sin. By Bertha M. Clay.
    Ione Stewart. By Miss E. Linn Linton.
    Ishmaelite (An). By Miss M. E. Braddon.
    Jane Eyre. By Charlotte Bronte.
    John Halifax, Gentleman. By Miss Mulock.
    Kenelm Chillingly. By Bulwer Lytton.
    King Arthur. By Miss Mulock.
    King Solomon's Mines. By H. Rider Haggard.
    Ladies Lindores. By Mrs. Oliphant.
    Lady Audley's Secret. By Miss M. E. Braddon.
    Lady Branksmere. By "The Duchess."
    Love Works Wonders. By Bertha M. Clay.
    Macleod of Dare. By Wm. Black.
    Madcap Violet. By Wm. Black.
    Maid of Athens. By Justin McCarthy.
    Margaret and Her Bridesmaids. By Julia Stretton.
    Mental Struggle, (A). By "The Duchess."
    Mill On The Floss. By Geo. Eliot.
    Molly Bawn. By "The Duchess."
    Mrs. Geoffrey. By "The Duchess."
    New Magdalen (The). By Wilkie Collins.
    Old Myddelton's Money. By Mary Cecil Hay.
    Oliver Twist. By Charles Dickens.
    Our Mutual Friend. By Charles Dickens.
    Parisians (The). By Bulwer Lytton.
    Paul and Virginia, Rasselas and Vicar of Wakefield. By St.
      Pierre, Johnson & Goldsmith.
    Phantom Fortune. By Miss M. E. Braddon.
    Phyllis. By "The Duchess."
    Portia; or, By Passions Rocked. By "The Duchess."
    Princess of Thule (A). By Wm. Black.
    Repented at Leisure. By Bertha M. Clay.
    Romola. By Geo. Eliot.
    Rossmoyne. By "The Duchess."
    Shandon Bells. By Wm. Black.
    She. By H. Rider Haggard.
    Strange Story (A). By Bulwer Lytton.
    Strange Adventures of a Phaeton. By Wm. Black.
    Sunrise. By Wm. Black.
    Sunshine and Roses. By Bertha M. Clay.
    Tale of Two Cities (A). By Charles Dickens.
    That Beautiful Wretch. By Wm. Black.
    Three Feathers. By Wm. Black.
    To The Bitter End. By Miss M. E. Braddon.
    Tom Brown's School Days. By Thomas Hughes.
    Tom Brown At Oxford. By Thomas Hughes.
    Two On A Tower. By Thos. Hardy.
    Under Two Flags. By Ouida.
    Vanity Fair. By Wm. Thackeray.
    Wanda. By Ouida.
    Wilfred Cumbermede. By Geo. Macdonald.
    Woman's Temptation (A). By Bertha M. Clay.
    Wooing O't. By Mrs. Alexander.
    Yolande. By Wm. Black.
    Zanoni. By Bulwer Lytton.

HISTORICAL ROMANCES.

    Bride of Lammermoor. By Sir Walter Scott.
    Guy Mannering. By Sir Walter Scott.
    Heart of Midlothian. By Sir Walter Scott.
    Ivanhoe. By Sir Walter Scott.
    Kenilworth. By Sir Walter Scott.
    Last Days of Pompeii. By Bulwer Lytton.
    Redgauntlet. By Sir Walter Scott.
    Rienzi. By Bulwer Lytton.
    Rob Roy. By Sir Walter Scott.
    Scottish Chiefs. By Jane Porter.
    Thaddeus of Warsaw. By Jane Porter.
    Waverley. By Sir Walter Scott.
    Willy Reilly. By Wm. Carleton.


HISTORY AND BIOGRAPHY.

    Dickens' Child's History of England.
    Washington and Marion (Life of).
    Webster (Life of). By Samuel Smucker, LL.D.

HUMOROUS FICTION.

    Charles O'Malley. By Charles Lever.
    Handy Andy. By Samuel Lover.
    Harry Lorrequer. By Charles Lever.
    Rory O'More. Samuel Lover.

RELIGIOUS AND DEVOTIONAL.

    From Year to Year. By Alice Carey.
    Imitation of Christ. By Thos. á Kempis.
    Is Life Worth living. By W. H. Mallock.
    Pilgrim's Progress (The). By John Bunyan.

SEA TALES.

    Cruise of The Black Prince (The). By Commander Cameron
    Five Years Before The Mast. By W. B. Hazen.
    Jack In The Forecastle. By Hawser Martingale.
    Mark Seaworth. By W. H. Kingston.
    Midshipman (The). By W. H. Kingston.
    Peter The Whaler. By Sir Samuel Baker.
    Pilot (The). By Fenimore Cooper.
    Pirate (The). By Sir Walter Scott.
    Red Eric (The). By R. M. Ballantyne.
    Round The World. By W. H. Kingston.
    Salt Water. By Sir Samuel Baker.
    Sea Queen (A). By W. Clark Russell.
    Tom Cringle's Log. By Michael Scott.
    Two Years Before The Mast. By R. H. Dana, Jr.

SHORT STORIES.

    Dickens' Christmas Stories.
    Dickens' Shorter Stories.
    Dickens' Story Teller.
    Ethan Brand. By Nathaniel Hawthorne and others.
    Fern Leaves. By Fanny Fern.
    Half Hours With Great Authors.
    Half Hours With Great Humorists.
    Half Hours With Great Novelists.
    Half Hours With Great Story Tellers.
    Poe's Tales. By Edgar Allan Poe.
    Shadows and Sunbeams. By Fanny Fern.
    True Stories From History. By Hugh DeNormand.

TRAVEL.

    Eight Years' Wanderings In Ceylon. By Sir Samuel Baker.
    Hyperion. By H. W. Longfellow.
    Outre Mer. By H. W. Longfellow.



Some New and Popular Books.

    A Dream and a Forgetting.
      By Julian Hawthorne.

    Rents in Our Robes.
      By Mrs. Frank Leslie, a brilliant review of modern society and
        manners by one of their most noted exponents.

    A Slave of Circumstances.
      By E. DeLancy Pierson.

    The Romance of a Quiet Watering Place.
      An extraordinary study of human nature, by Nora Wardell.

    His Way and Her Will.
      A pen-and-ink miniature of Eastern society, by A.X.

    The Land of the Nihilist: Russia.
      By W. E. Curtis. Illustrated with over 100 drawings.

    The Lone Grave of the Shenandoah.
      By Donn Platt.

    The Political Oratory of Emery A. Storrs.
      From Lincoln to Garfield.
        By Isaac E. Adams.

    The Protective Tariff.
      What it Does for Us! By Gen'l Hermann Lieb.

       *       *       *       *       *

Belford's Magazine

Edited by DONN PIATT.


A Magazine devoted to Politics, Poetry, General
Literature, Science and Art.

    Belford's Magazine advocates the extinguishment of the surplus
    by a reduction of the present iniquitous and burdensome
    Tariff in the direction of Free-Trade or of a tariff for revenue
    purposes only; such reform to be effected in the interests of the
    farmers, the workingmen and the great mass of the population, as
    opposed to the manipulators of rings and trusts and other monopolists
    whom the present tariff enables to accumulate vast fortunes
    at the expense of the community.

    The department of Fiction is exceptionally full. Instead of a
    serial story dragging its slow length through several months, and
    exhausting the patience of the reader, a complete novel is
    published, and each issue also contains one or more stories. In all
    the departments the very best talent has been enlisted.

SOME OF THE CONTRIBUTORS:

    David A. Welles,
    Hon. Frank H. Hurd,
    Prof. W. G. Sumner,
    J. S. Moore (Parsee Merchant),
    Hon. John G. Carlisle,
    Henry Watterson,
    Henry George,
    Julian Hawthorne,
    General Hermann Lieb,
    Edgar Saltus,
    John James Piatt,
    Thos. G. Shearman,
    General H. V. Boynton,
    Sarah B. M. Piatt,
    Edgar Fawcett,
    Joel Benton,
    Ella Wheeler Wilcox,
    Rev. Geo. C. Lorimer,
    E. Heron-Allen,
    Coates-Kinney,
    James Whitcomb Riley,
    Soule Smith ("Falcon"),
    Gertrude Garrison, Etc.





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