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Title: Edgar Saltus: The Man
Author: Saltus, Marie
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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[Illustration: MARIE SALTUS]


[Illustration: EDGAR SALTUS

in the Year 1890]


EDGAR SALTUS: _THE MAN_

by

MARIE SALTUS


... "_even the weariest river
Winds somewhere safe to sea._"



1925
Pascal Covici · Publisher
Chicago

Copyright 1925
Pascal Covici · _Publisher_
CHICAGO



_To the Ego using the personality_,

EDGAR SALTUS

_Peace and Progress_.



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS


Marie Saltus, Edgar Saltus                       _Frontispiece_

                                                 _Facing Page_

Francis Henry Saltus                                        6
      Father of Edgar Saltus.

Edgar Saltus                                               10
   At Two Years of Age, sitting on the Lap of His
        Mother, Eliza Evertson Saltus.

Edgar Saltus                                               12
  Sixteen Years of Age.

Fac-simile of Document given to Marie Saltus              116

Fac-simile of Letter sent to Marie Saltus                 128

Fac-simile of Telegram sent to Marie Saltus               214

Mrs. J. Theus Munds                                       270
  The Daughter of Edgar Saltus, and Her Little Son.

Marie Saltus                                              310
  Sitting at the Table on which her Husband wrote
  his Books, burning Incense before a Siamese Buddha,
  and meditating on a Stanza from the Bhagavad-Gitâ.



FOREWORD


Without the explanation of reincarnation, the riddle of Edgar Saltus would
rival that of the Sphinx. Super-developed in some things, correspondingly
deficient in others, he presented an exterior having the defects of his
finest qualities, suffused with complexes and contradictions.

Amusements and interests looked upon as pleasurable by the many, bored him
in the extreme. With likes and dislikes shared and understood by few, he
lived in a world of his own. This world was inhabited by creatures of the
imagination--delightful beings--too delightful to be real, who, having the
merit of being extinguishable at will, never remained to bore him.

To write a proper biography one should have perspective. It is lacking
here. That in itself makes the writing difficult. Many of those associated
with Mr. Saltus' life are incarnate, and not all of them are willing to be
dragged into the limelight of publicity by the point of the pen.

Where it will not offend, names are given. Where the possibility of
annoyance suggests itself, initials only are used. It circumscribes one
more than a little.

A brief hundred years should elapse between the passing of an interesting
personality and the putting into print of his life. It would follow here,
but for the fact that so many mythical and malicious tales have been
circulated about Edgar Saltus since his death that the necessity for giving
the facts, good, bad, and indifferent, and putting an end to the weird,
wild, and fantastic stories seems urgent.

From an article published in The Bookman one would believe the astonishing
fact that Mr. Saltus made a practice of sitting "on a sort of baldachined
throne dispersing cigarettes ten inches long and reading Chinese poetry."
From the same source it was stated that he had a "salon, and was attended
by some lady of his choice--not necessarily the same." As a final kick it
was stated that he dyed his moustache.

Every newspaper in the country reprinted the article. What they did not
reprint was a letter from me (in The Bookman also) denying the fabrications
and giving the truth.

In a foreword of appreciation to a bibliography of Mr. Saltus' books, I was
fortunately able to blue pencil the following, before it saw the darkness
of print: "Edgar Saltus, neglected and alone, died in an obscure
lodging-house in the East Side of New York." The author is a delightful man
writing out of the fulness of his admiration. He put in only what he had
been told.

Every day brings in new and wilder tales than the preceding one. They are
so fantastic they would be amusing, were they not tragic.

If the public is sufficiently interested to pass along and embellish these
grotesque stories, will they not be equally interested to know the truth?

When the writing of this biography was first attempted, an effort was made
to give the life of Edgar Saltus without using the uninteresting "I" and
"me." The effort failed. So much of his life had been silhouetted against
my own for over twenty years, that any attempt to remove the background
injured the picture, and it was reluctantly put back there.

In giving many of the high lights and incidents of Mr. Saltus' later life,
the desire has been to speak only of those in which he was the dominating
figure. Many amusing events in which he was somewhat subsidiary, have been
in consequence omitted.

With the desire to keep my personality in the background as much as
possible, it is brought forward only when needed to throw some incident or
characteristic of Mr. Saltus into relief.

It is a painful process to tear the veil from one's life and write fully
and freely--almost brutally at times, with the heart's blood. Less would be
useless. One must tell all or nothing.

A few years ago we had skeletons. Every respectable family had
one--sometimes two. They were locked in cupboards, or carefully put away in
bureau drawers with lavender and old laces. When spoken of, it was in
whispers and with profound respect. All that has changed. With the new
psychology nothing is hidden. Everything must be aired in the light. One
may be behind anything but the times. That is fatal.

That Edgar Saltus was unable to hit it off with two charming and cultured
wives does not reflect on either of them. On the contrary. No normal woman
could live with him for a week without friction. By normal, I refer to the
woman who as a rule does the things that are expected of her, leaves undone
those she is not expected to do, and has plenty of health in her.

The very fact that a woman was in the main like others, irritated Mr.
Saltus. It was enough for any one to say to him, "It is considered the
proper thing to do this or that," to send him into a rage. No act was too
erratic or too independent to please him, provided it revealed and
developed the individuality of the doer.

As he looked upon sports of all kinds as outlets for primitive egos,
amusements also, unless draped with interesting psychological problems,
and gatherings of humans as an abomination and a stench to his nostrils,
most women, in spite of the charm of his manner and the brilliance of his
mind, would find little in common with him.

A boy at heart, adoring tricks, games and fairy stories, he did not want to
be recalled to the things of earth. Impractical as he was, he could not
endure practical people, accepting the blunders and forgetfulness of one
even less so than himself with patience and grace. If five minutes before
the dinner hour I would rush home and say:

"Too sorry dear, but I forgot to order anything for dinner. There is
nothing in the house" (it happened more than once, but his reply was always
the same)--

"Never mind, little puss. Thank God your mind is in the clouds--not in the
kitchen. Let's go around the corner."

"Around the corner" meant to a tiny place called the Cozy frequented by
Columbia students. Fortunately it was only a few yards from our home.

What he could not forgive was stupidity, and the desire to please Mrs.
Smith and Mr. Jones and wonder what the neighbors would or would not think
about things. This, however, he was never called upon to endure.

Only a person fundamentally the same and sharing his peculiar dislikes
could have had a chance of success. A woman less temperamental and
high-strung than himself would yield anything for peace. Yielding to Mr.
Saltus was fatal. A mental ascendency on his part, no matter what the
circumstances, and the beginning of the end was in sight.

There is a rather pathetic side to his biography. During the writing of it,
Mr. Saltus seems to have been at my elbow all the time, a highly amused and
almost disinterested critic. The writing of a biography had been a joke
between us.

Asked by him once if I felt I had been in any way the gainer for my
experiences of life with him, and what I would do in the future to keep my
mind occupied if he passed on, I answered:

"Enormously the gainer. I could start a home."

"Would you make it into a training house for husbands--or turn it into a
zoo?" he inquired.

"Neither. 'The Saltus Shelter for Scoundrels' would be the result. A sign
in the window would inform the world that the superintendent, Marie Saltus,
was a post-graduate on scoundrels." (It was a sobriquet Mr. Saltus was fond
of applying to himself.) "It will be a wonderful home. Here is the first
rule. 'Do all the things you ought not to do. Leave undone all the things
you should do. All the comforts of home assured.'"

Mr. Saltus laughed, and added:

"Never pick up anything. Drop cigars and cigarettes on the floor. It will
improve the carpets. Find fault with everything. Swear and make a row
whenever you can."

To that I added that the waiting-list would be so long that the old
scoundrels would be fighting among themselves to get in. The idea amused
Mr. Saltus very much. Every day or two he would come up with a new
suggestion.

"See here, Mowgy, I have another rule for the old scoundrels. Having served
such an apprenticeship with me," he said, "you will have the home
overflowing in a week. Draw the line. Take no one under seventy-five and
have tea with them only on Sundays in August."

The Saltus Shelter for Scoundrels became a pet theme. A diet was drawn up
for the inmates by Mr. Saltus, and a course of reading outlined. The
by-laws grew and were embellished.

This was during the last winter of his life, when failing health kept him
indoors much of the time. To take him out of himself, it became necessary
to supply food for the imagination.

"Suppose you became ill and you had to leave the old scoundrels to their
fate? What then?" he inquired one day.

"That is provided for. If the Saltus Shelter is shattered, I will sit down
and write your biography."

"That will fall flatter. No one will read it," he said.

"Yes, they will. I will call it. 'The Annals of Ananias.' It will be your
punishment for having written 'Madame Sapphira,' and people will fall over
themselves to read it, for I will tell the worst."

He took notice of that.

"Wow! Wow! Will you tell about the time I got a piece of chocolate when I
thought I was securing an opera glass, and how I threw it away, hitting a
bald man on the head?"

"Of course. Didn't I say the worst?"

"Surely you won't mention the time I kicked the dog and smashed up the
cut-glass?"

"Yes, I will, and how you played the hose on poor Jean, and all the other
demoniacal things you have done."

At that he would say, "Wow--Wow," again, but the idea amused him, and
scarcely a day passed without inquiries about the biography.

"You won't tell the worst really, will you, Mowgy? You will not mention the
time I got squiffy, or the time I pretended I was a crazy man and miawed in
the trolley car?"

"When I say everything, I mean everything."

"Then you must tell about the time in Paris when you tried to murder me,
and when, mistaking a strange man for me, you wrote him such a villainous
letter."

"Concerning these you are safe. There is too much about myself in those
incidents to interest people. Like Cæsar, the good will be interred with
your bones."

"No one will believe there could have been such a demon. They will say the
remarkable thing about it is that you have survived."

We joked about it a great deal during the winter, Mr. Saltus suggesting
incidents to be included or omitted.

When after his death one publisher after another urged me to give them a
biography, I did not know whether to laugh or to weep.

Could I? The words we had said repeated themselves. His wistful spirit
seemed to stand at my side--laughing. He could take a joke on himself so
well.

During the writing of it he has seemed to be beside me--amused, but caring
less, if anything, what any one might say or think about it. It was all
trivial.

When engaged in writing a book it was Mr. Saltus' custom to sharpen dozens
of pencils and have them at hand. Writing rapidly, he would discard one
after another as they became dull, till the last was reached. These he
sharpened again, and started in to repeat the process. After his death I
collected a box full and kept them. It is with the same pencils that these
words are being written. They have come straight from his hand to mine. His
emanations seem to have permeated them.

It has not been an easy task, but it is truthful. The worst, as well as the
best, has been given. His friends will find that the eager and aspiring
spirit they admired was even bigger than they knew.

To the verdict of any human he was--and still must be--indifferent. It did
not touch him in the flesh. It cannot reach him in the spirit. To him at
the last one thing alone mattered, through the sum total of his life's
experiences--the ability to know himself, and knowing that self to
co-operate with his evolution. To turn from the illusory to the
illimitable, seeking only the way; that was what mattered.

Realizing at the last that all the wisdom of the world could be epitomized
in a single sentence, he found strength in that. "He attaineth peace into
whom all desires flow as rivers into an ocean, which, being full, remaineth
unaffected by any."



EDGAR SALTUS, THE MAN



CHAPTER I


From the very beginning Edgar Saltus was none of the things that he
appeared to be and a hundred that no one ever suspected. Having a nature
with a curious complex of the super-feminine, Edgar Saltus took unto
himself a prerogative usually assigned to it, and, snipping off a few
years, gave the date of his birth to "Who's Who," as 1868.

Late in life, when confronted with the family Bible in which the date had
been correctly set down, and with a photograph of himself as a baby on
which his mother had proudly recorded the same, he admitted, reluctantly it
must be confessed, that he had juggled things a bit. In those days births
were not recorded as they now are.

His irritation at the detection being construed as shame over his act, he
laughed. The annoyance was at himself for omitting, when he had the chance,
to knock off a few more objectionable years. The glorious gift of seeming
as young as he looked had been offered by fate, and lost.

As a matter of fact Edgar Saltus was born in New York City, some time
during the night of October 8, 1855.

When, later in life, he became interested in occultism, and the possibility
of having an astrological chart was suggested, there was no one living who
could tell him the exact hour. Trivial as it may seem, he would have given
much to ascertain it. The Libra qualities assigned to those born in October
were all his. This fact made him keen to know how they would be modified or
increased by that of the sign rising at the hour of his birth.

It delighted him to brush aside many annoying happenings with the remark
that all Libra people were volatile, evanescent, and often irritable; were
born so, and could not escape their limitations. Upon these occasions he
would end up with the statement that however objectionable the sign, it was
less so than that of Scorpio rising with the Sun in Taurus (which was
mine). That, he declared, only a philosopher could understand and hit it
off with. He had a splendid ally in the stars.

Edgar Saltus had the good fortune, or the bad luck, as one looks at it, to
be born the son of a brilliant father. Francis Henry Saltus not only
brought into being the first rifled steel cannon ever made, but perfected a
number of other inventions as well. For this he was decorated by almost all
the crowned heads of Europe. Queen Victoria knighted him and presented his
wife with a marvelous Indian shawl. He was given the Legion of Honour of
France, the Order of Isabella the Catholic, of Spain--the Order of Gustavus
Vasa of Sweden, and the Order of Christ of Portugal. For having chartered a
ship, loading it with provisions and sending it to the starving people of
the Canary Islands during a famine, he was given the inheritable title of
Marquise de Casa Besa by the King of Portugal as well. The title, however,
he never used.

From Solomon Saltus back to the time of the Emperor Tiberius, the men of
the Saltus family appear to have left a mark either of gore or glory upon
their generation. Francis Henry Saltus did not purpose to do less. An
omnivorous reader, a student and a philosopher, with some queer twists to
his curious mentality, he passed on the lot--twists included--not only to
his son by a former wife, Francis Saltus Saltus, named after himself, but
to the little Edgar as well.

Concerning Francis Saltus Saltus, volumes might be written. A genius, and
ambidextrous, he could write sonnets with one hand and compose operas with
the other. Without instruction he could improvise on any musical instrument
and learn any language with equal facility.

He did all this as a bird sings, joyously, and with so little effort that
one was appalled at his genius. A clearer case of subconscious memory never
existed. He learned nothing, but he remembered everything. To know where he
had acquired it and how would be interesting.

[Illustration: FRANCIS HENRY SALTUS

Father of Edgar Saltus]

His ability was supernormal, yet anything once written (he never made a
revised copy) was tossed aside--fait accompli. A new thought or a fleeting
melody called him elsewhere.

What he lacked was the concentration, the patience, the sustained interest
in his creation, to go over his work, rearrange, polish and put it into
shape to live. Details were deadly. What he had written--he had written.
With an indifference proportionate to his genius, he yawned--and lighted a
cigarette.

That lack was tragic. It meant a niche in the gallery of "might have beens"
instead of the high place in the Hall of Fame, where he really belonged,
and where, had he but condescended to care, he could have flamed as a
volcano in active eruption.

Frank was in his sixth year when little Edgar made his début. These four,
Francis Senior and Junior, with Edgar and his mother, constituted the
family.

A descendant of a line of illustrious Dutch admirals, Eliza Evertson, after
two rather unhappy love affairs, married Francis Saltus. She had passed her
first youth. Brave she must have been, to risk her happiness with a
brilliantly eccentric husband, and take upon herself the upbringing of his
even more erratic son.

Until Edgar was seven the experiment was fairly successful. Eliza Saltus,
witty, quick at repartee, and interestingly sarcastic, took her place in
the "family party" which constituted the social set in those days. New York
was a small place. Everybody who was anybody, knew everybody else.

Tall, fair, and distinguished looking, wearing his honors and decorations
as lightly as a boutonniere, Francis Saltus was a splendid foil for the
brunette beauty and vivacious spirits of his wife. During these early years
together they traveled a great deal, and the problem of peace did not
present itself. Eliza Evertson was a person not easily submerged. In a
large home in West Seventeenth Street, none too cheerful at best, filled
with massive Italian furniture of carved olive wood, these four struggled
for a time to keep together and form a family.

Of those early years Mr. Saltus always told with sadness--how his mother
fought against the influence of Frank, who, even at pre-adolescence,
evinced many of the peculiarities and angles which developed rapidly with
the years.

Resentful over the father's preference for his first-born, the little Edgar
became the idol of his mother's heart, giving to her his deepest affection
in return. Francis Saltus' pride in the elder son outweighing every other
sentiment, he could see no fault in him, in spite of his habit of getting
up when he pleased, eating at odd times, composing on the piano at two a.
m., or bringing all kinds of queer people to the house at any hour of the
day or night.

Whether or not the stepmother exercised the tact which would have oiled the
machinery of things, one cannot know. Good mothers are seldom
philosophers. The fact that Frank was over-indulged and given plenty of
money by an adoring father, who scarcely noticed her own small son, must
have hurt her independence and pride. That she could see only his faults,
and nothing of his genius, cemented the bond between the father and Frank
as nothing else could have done. Blond, handsome, debonair, Frank Saltus
charmed as he breathed. Only his stepmother was impervious to his
fascinations.

The little Edgar combined the Greek features of his father and half-brother
with the dark eyes and olive coloring of his mother. High-strung, timid,
and so nervous that a slight hesitancy marred his speech at times, the
child lived in fear of offending his father by a refusal to repeat his
mother's warnings against Frank, and the fear of enraging his mother by his
unwillingness to repeat his father's comments.

[Illustration: EDGAR SALTUS

At Two Years of Age, sitting on the Lap of His Mother

ELIZA EVERTSON SALTUS]

The battle-ground of a ceaseless conflict between his parents, the boy
developed a quality negative in one sense, dangerous in another. He was
afraid to repeat anything of a disagreeable nature or admit an unpleasant
truth. Forced to the wall he avoided truth,--made a jest of it if he could,
or, as a last resource, denied it pointblank. It is the fear of danger and
discord and the hanging back from it that injures. On the firing-line death
may be in waiting, but fear has fled.

To get the right slant on Edgar Saltus' life as a whole, this early
training--or lack of it--must be taken into consideration. This almost
physical disability to tell the truth, if that truth were disagreeable, was
equaled by his inability to bear pain. At any excess of it he fainted. It
followed him throughout life. Rarely did he get into a dentist's chair
without fainting.

With so many charming and endearing qualities, an understanding needing no
words, a tenderness greater by far than that possessed by most women, one
can but speculate as to what a rare and radiant being he would have been
minus the handicap concerning truth, which, with all its ramifications,
penetrated and disintegrated much of his life and the lives closest to
him.

Unable to make a go of it as a family, divorce in those days being looked
upon as disgraceful, Francis Saltus took his first-born abroad, while Edgar
was sent to St. Paul's School at Concord, New Hampshire. Never again did
they attempt to live as a family. During vacations young Edgar went to his
mother. An occasional call on his father was all that was required of him.

According to his own account he was always at the foot of his class and not
popular. Uninterested in sports, abhorring all forms of "get together"
societies, living very much in a world of his own imagining, he was as
inconspicuous as he was unhappy. Slightly undersized, slim, straight, and
well-proportioned, with his clear-cut features, dark oriental eyes, and
olive skin, he looked and felt out of place in a western world,--as perhaps
he was.

[Illustration: EDGAR SALTUS

Sixteen Years of Age]

Girls took to him on sight, wrote to him, sent him locks of their hair, and
suggested meeting him. His first flirtation was with a girl from New Haven.
That her name was Nellie was all he remembered of the episode.

During the summer vacations he had a succession of flirtations. A dip into
them would be like turning a page of "Who Was Who" a generation ago. One
irate father, thinking he had called too often upon his young daughter, put
it to him straight.

"Young man, you have made yourself very much at home in this house. What
are your intentions?"

"To leave," he replied quickly, as he made for the door.

Another occasion was more complicated. This time it was the girl herself, a
girl he had vowed to work and wait for forever if necessary. Suggesting
that they omit the waiting and do the working upon their respective
parents, the girl persuaded him to elope, very much against his will. It
was the last thing he wanted. To love and run was far more to his fancy.
Letting drop the fact of what they contemplated where it would percolate
quickly, he drove off with the bride-to-be in a dog-cart.

During this drive his wits got to working. At one parsonage after another
they stopped, young Edgar getting out and inquiring at the door, only to
drive on again. After an hour or so the girl's father overtook them. The
elopement was off; the would-be bride in tears. Instead of inquiring for a
clergyman to marry them, he had very politely inquired the way to the next
village.

A danger escaped is always a ready theme for conversation, and it amused
him more than a little to tell of this episode with the comment:

"No woman could drag me to the altar, I could slide like water through a
crack and vanish."

So he could. A more ingenious man at evading anything he disliked never
existed. While agreeing with every appearance of delight, he was concocting
a clever escape. He always managed to slip through, as he said.

Of his father and brother he saw but little during these years. The latter
had to his credit a volume of verse, "Honey and Gall," and half a dozen
operas, one of which he had conducted himself.

On the table near my hand is a copy of "Honey and Gall," an original, bound
in green. On the fly-leaf in Frank's characteristic hand is written:

                    EDGAR E. SALTUS

     With the love and good wishes of his most affectionate
     brother,

                F. S. SALTUS.

No resentment there. A spirit of love, tolerance, and interest is exhaled.
In the book are many marginal notes in the same handwriting. Changes,
interpolations, and corrections emphasise the beauty of the lines. The pity
of it is that they were put there too late, but the soul of the author
stares one in the face. Between the pages pressed flowers rest, souvenirs
of shadow or sunshine. During the years the paper has not only become
discolored but has reproduced the outline of the blossoms. The book is
like a living thing, so close does it bring the author. Emanations of his
personality rise from the pages like perfume, compelling the sympathy and
understanding he needed so uniquely.

One poem especially--"Pantheism"--tears the veil from his Greek features,
revealing an Oriental in masquerade. Neither pagan nor Christian in the
accepted sense, the musk-scented mysticism of eastern philosophy rises from
it like incense. Out of place in the conventional environment of New
York,--subconscious memory rising to the surface of his waking
consciousness, he writes of other lives and loves, and anterior
experiences,--putting his deepest and most profound beliefs into words. No
other poem in the book strikes the same chord, or has as many marginal
notes by the author.

Too handsome, too much sought after by women, too well supplied with money
to have an incentive to work, he sank into something of a psychic stupor.
He knew nothing of the feminine as revealed by mother, sister or wife. To
him, alone and misunderstood, Silence offered her arm. Silence is a dynamic
force but it offers peace. One can but hope that he was given his full
share.

Brilliant, handsome, with a manner irresistible to women, Frank Saltus was
reaching the high noon of his life. So facile was his pen, so limitless the
scope of his erratic genius, that young Edgar sank into the shadow of him.
Tragically pathetic is the fact, that, despite the superabundance of his
gifts, he failed to bring any one of them to the perfection that could have
made him immortal. There may have been philosophy even in this.

Among the other poems in the volume is one to his most intimate
friend,--Edgar Fawcett. This friendship not only lasted his lifetime, but
was stretched to include the younger Edgar, whose close association with
the poet continued until the latter's death.

In spite of their real admiration and regard for Fawcett, both Edgar and
Frank Saltus enjoyed teasing and tormenting him enormously. His vulnerable
places were so much exposed. Though timid with women, nevertheless he
fancied they were in love with him. With inimitable skill, Frank Saltus
composed letters purporting to come from passionate young heiresses who
were in love with him. One especially wrote frequently and at length.
Fawcett not only answered them, but, rushing to his rooms, read them aloud
to Frank. More letters followed.

"What am I to do," he asked, "when women persecute me like this? Even you
have not received such letters as mine."

The brothers agreed with him. While pretending to be annoyed by them
Fawcett was really living in rapture. Nothing like it had brushed against
his life before. As fast as the letters were sent out, did Fawcett come in
to read them to their creator. It began to pall. One could not keep on
writing them indefinitely. Something had to be done. The heiress who could
not live without him threw out vague hints of suicide. Hectic and
harrowed, Fawcett came to Frank's rooms and burst into tears. After that
the letters ceased. Fawcett could not be comforted. Some helpless and
beautiful being had died for love of him. This incident became the episode
of his life, and he passed over without knowing the truth.

According to Mr. Saltus, there was something charming and childlike about
Edgar Fawcett. A rejected manuscript sent him into hysterics. He kept an
account book, alphabetically arranged. If you offended him, a black mark
went against your name. If you pleased him, a mark of merit was
substituted.

From an old note-book of Mr. Saltus is copied the following: "Edgar Fawcett
has to pay higher wages to his valet than anyone else, because he reads his
poems to him." In another place is written: "Idleness is necessary to the
artist. It is the quality in which he shines the best. Be idle, Fawcett.
Let others toil. Be idle and give us a rest."

None the less the brothers had an affectionate admiration for him. Edgar
Saltus dedicated "Love and Lore"

                  To
             Edgar Fawcett.
    Perfect poet, ... perfect friend.



CHAPTER II


His school days in the States over, Edgar Saltus went abroad with his
mother for an indefinite time. Europe became their headquarters during what
must have been the most constructively interesting part of his early life.
Heidelberg, Munich, the Sorbonne, and an elderly professor supplementing
certain studies did their best for him. At an age when the world seemed his
for the taking, with brilliant mind, unusual physical attractiveness, the
ability to charm without effort, and sufficient means, his path was if
anything too rosy.

The pampered only child of an adoring mother, he had only to express a wish
to have it gratified. He became selfish and self-centered as the result.
His motto was "Carpe diem," and he carefully contrived to live down to it.

During a summer in Switzerland without his mother Mr. Saltus met a charming
young girl of semi-royal birth, whom we will call Marie C----, and eloped
with her. Her furious family followed, overtaking them in Venice. As she
was unable, because of her exalted station, to be married by a priest
without credentials and permission, the ceremony had been omitted for the
moment. That complicated matters. Marie was whisked off to a convent,
where, the year following, she died. As usual the woman paid. Meanwhile, a
young and charming Venetian countess did her best to console the explorer
in hearts.

On the heels of this episode came his mother. Funds were stopped, and to
the chagrin of the countess who had braved disgrace, her charmer was taken
back to Heidelberg.

With an insight and interest almost paternal, the old professor who had
tutored him at times gave Mr. Saltus a lesson he never forgot. Realizing as
he must have that the youth had a quality of fascination seldom
encountered, a quality likely to lead to his early ruin if not
circumscribed, he assigned himself the job. Taking him to an exhibit where
wax figures representing parts of the human body in different stages of
disease were set up for a clinic, he let it do its work.

Illness, ugliness, unsightliness of any kind, had a horror for Mr. Saltus.
It was an intrinsic part of his inner essence. That exhibit nearly did for
him. It made him ill for a week,--the most profitable illness he ever had
in his life. Never in his wildest and least responsible moments did he have
an affair with any woman other than of his own class.

A student of the classics, with Flaubert sitting on the lotus leaf of
perfection before his eyes, it soon became the desire of his heart to meet
some of the great ones of letters. Even then the young Edgar was trying his
hand at it.

Through the friendship of Stuart Merrill, a young American poet living in
Paris, he had the supreme bliss of being presented to Victor Hugo. The
anticipation of it alone made him tremble. It was to him like meeting the
Dalai Lama in person. Reverently he approached the great one repeating, as
he did so, the Byzantine formula, "May I speak and live?"

The magnificent one condescended to permit it. From a great chair which
resembled a shrine and in which he looked like an old idol, he deigned to
speak to his admirer. Mr. Saltus left his presence with winged feet.

The author of "Poèmes Antiques," Leconte de Lisle, was another to whom the
youthful aspirant was on his knees. Through Stuart Merrill again he was
admitted to Olympus.

"You are a church. You have your worshipers," he told the poet. Leconte de
Lisle listened, or pretended to listen, with indifference. That attitude of
his appealed as much to Mr. Saltus as his poems. It was the way genius
should act, he reflected.

Another meteor crossing his orbit was Verlaine. It was at the Café François
Premier that they met. Shabby, dirty, and a little drunk, he talked
delightfully as only poets and madmen can. He talked of his "prisons" and
of his "charity hospitals," quite unaffectedly and as a landed proprietor
speaks of his estates. One of these Edgar Saltus visited. It was an
enclosure at the back of a shop in a blind alley, where he had a cot that
stood not on the floor, for there was no floor, but on the earth.

Of Oscar Wilde and Owen Meredith, he had at that time only a peep in
passing. His particular chums were the Duke of Newcastle and Lord Francis
Hope. Among the interesting personalities with whom he became friends was
the Baron Harden Hickey. In what way he became a Baron was never elucidated
to Mr. Saltus' satisfaction. Poet, scholar, and crack duelist, his sword
was as mighty as his pen. At my hand is a book of his called "Euthanasia,"
and inscribed in his writing are the words:

                        To
    Edgar Saltus............................the unique,
             From his extravagant admirer
                                          H. H.

Harden Hickey had ambitions. One of them was to found a monarchy at
Trinidad and rule there. He was nothing if not original. The post of Poet
Laureate he offered to Edgar Saltus. Owing to the intervention of the
Powers, the project failed. Harden Hickey killed himself. Such friends in
any event were not commonplace.

Deciding at last that he must have some kind of an occupation, his mother
having on his account drawn liberally from her principal, Mr. Saltus
decided to return to the United States. Once there he entered Columbia Law
School. Terse, clear, and versatile with his pen, the law seemed more or
less to beckon. Plead he could not; owing to his acute nervousness and his
slight hesitancy of speech that was out of the question. The uninteresting
but necessary technical side of the law could alone be his. In some
climates and altitudes Mr. Saltus' speech became almost a stammer. In
others it vanished. Never was it unpleasant, and many thought it rather
fascinating. People affected him in this way. Most of them got on his
nerves, and the peculiar hesitancy followed, while with those to whom he
was accustomed, he could talk for hours without a trace of it. Even as a
youth his disinclination to meet people, his horror of crowds, and his
desire to be alone a great deal were becoming marked characteristics. So
also was the quality he had developed as a child, the increasing inability
to face a disagreeable issue.

During his life in Germany, Schopenhauer had been his daily food. From his
angle religions were superstitions for the ignorant and credulous. They
offered nothing. With Schopenhauer came Spinoza. Between them the Columbia
student became saturated like a sponge.

At intervals Mr. Saltus had tried his hand at verse as well as prose. A
sonnet written in Venice and published afterward under the title of
"History" was among his first. Timidly, almost apologetically, he took it
to his brother Frank.

"Splendid! Better than anything I ever did," was the unexpected praise. "I
write more easily, but it is too much fag for me to polish my work. You
are slower, but you scintillate. Go in for letters. It is your place in the
scheme of things."

Thus encouraged, and by the brother who was the flame of the family, Edgar
Saltus took up his pencil in earnest. Fundamentally, both Edgar and Frank
Saltus were alike. They seemed to be oriental souls functioning for a life
in occidental bodies, and the clothes pinched. Neither could endure
routine, nor could they tolerate the prescribed and circumscribed existence
of the western world. It was difficult to internalize in an environment
both objective and external. They were subtle, indolent, exotic, living in
worlds of their own, as far removed from those with whom they brushed
elbows as is the fourth dimension.

Frank let himself go the way of least resistance, without effort or desire
to fit in with his environment. Having traveled everywhere, and exhausted
to its limit every emotion and experience, bored to tears with the world
outside of his imagination and finally even with that within, he
stimulated what remained with alcohol and drugs. As the mood took him he
composed, tossing off sonnets and serenades like champagne, carelessly and
without effort, a Titan with the indifference of a pigmy. What he might
have been, had he forced his furtive and fertile fancy to grapple with the
tedium of sandpaper and polish, only an extension of consciousness could
reveal.

Writing of him in those days James Huneker said:

"He had the look of a Greek god gone to ruin. He was fond of absinthe and I
never saw him without a cigarette in his mouth. He carved sonnets out of
solid wood and compiled epigrams for Town Topics as a pastime. He composed
feuilletons that would have made the fortune of a boulevardier. He was a
ruin, but he was a gentleman. Edgar Saltus was handsome in a different way,
dark, petit maitre."

Of Frank Saltus' multiple love affairs one alone cut deep enough to leave
an imprint. Under the title "To Marie B--," he wrote one of his best
poems.

Curiously enough, the name Marie had been that of Edgar's first and
unfortunate love. So convinced was he that no one with that name could
survive close association with a Saltus, that from the first hour of our
acquaintance he refused to call me by it, using a contraction I had lisped
as an infant in trying to pronounce Marie, Mowgy. It was the last word he
spoke on earth.

The son of a brilliant father and brother of a genius, Edgar Saltus was
made conscious of his supposed inferiority by the world at large. To his
mother, in spite of her indulgent idolatry of him, must be given the credit
that he, too, did not sink into an apathy and dream his life away. The
worst side of his brother's character was held always before him, as well
as his inability to earn anything with all his talents, and the fact that
he, Edgar, was an Evertson as well as a Saltus was used effectively. As far
as she could she fought the soft, sensual streak in his nature, the
oriental under its mask. Too late to grapple with his fixed habit of
avoiding the ugly, unpleasant, and the irksome, she hammered in the lesson
of dissipated talents and a wasted life. So well was this done that Edgar
Saltus, to use his own words, "By the grace of God and absent-minded
professors," managed to take his degree as a Doctor of Law.

With that in one pocket and a sonnet in the other, he cut loose to have a
little fling before starting in for a career at the bar. That career never
materialized.

With a mother always a part of the upper ten, he was soon submerged by
balls, receptions, and festivities. His ability to fraternize being limited
and superficial and the necessity for a great deal of solitude fundamental,
it was not long before the desire to express himself with his pen
reasserted itself, and a number of sonnets was the result. Few knew
anything of the hours he put in pruning, polishing, and sandpapering them.
Albert Edwin Shroeder, a friend reaching back to the Heidelberg days, knew
the most, but even with him Edgar Saltus was reticent about his work. It
may be mentioned in passing that Shroeder was an intimate friend of Frank
Saltus, as well. His admiration for the brothers expressed itself in many
ways. Among Mr. Saltus' effects are letters from him and some books. On the
fly-leaf of one is written, "To the Master from his servant A. Shroeder."
On another, "To the unique, from one who admires him uniquely." This
friendship lasted until Mr. Shroeder's death.

Other intimate friends were Clarence and Walter Andrews. Of his escapades
with them Mr. Saltus was never weary of telling, the tendrils of their
friendship being long and strong. Of those who knew him in these halcyon
days Walter Andrews alone survives. Sitting at my side, as he very
graciously offered to do, he drove with Mr. Saltus' only child, his
daughter, Mrs. J. Theus Munds, and myself, to Sleepy Hollow Cemetery and
saw the ashes of his oldest friend returned to the earth.

Not fitted by nature for the cut and dried, the literal and the precise,
longing more and more to express himself in writing, he let the law linger.
Having already several stories to his credit, the possibility of making
letters his profession appealed strongly to Mr. Saltus. Money in itself
meant nothing to him. It went through his hands as through a sieve. To be
free from rules and routine, free to express himself, that alone mattered,
and that, despite the inroads made into their capital, he could do.

Law books were consigned to the trash baskets. Paper and pencils took their
place, and it was not long before the results took on a golden hue.

At that epoch, his star rising to the ascendent and Fame flitting before
him as a will-o'-the-wisp urging him on, he met one of New York's most
beautiful young matrons--Mme. C----. An American herself of old
Knickerbocker stock, married to a nobleman, she represented youth, beauty,
charm, and position, added to which she had a brilliant mind.

A serious love affair resulted. Vainly did Mrs. Saltus urge her son to
marry and settle down. Vainly did the family of Mme. C----warn her of
possible perils ahead. So handsome in those days that the papers referred
to him as the "Pocket Apollo," so popular that girls fought for his favor,
Mr. Saltus had a triumphal sail through a social sea as heady as champagne.

From his own account and a diary of Mme. C----'s found after his death, the
affair must have cut deep. Quoting from it one reads:

"Edgar called to-day. There is no one like him in the world. He is the
unique. I adore him to madness."

Again one reads:

"Edgar is the center of my being. Never can I cease to love him. That is
certain. But should he ever cease to love me--? It is unthinkable. I cannot
contemplate it--and live."

Once again:

"They tell me that this cannot go on. I have children. Oh, my God! Can I
tear him out of my heart--and live?"

There is no doubt whatever but that the devotion was very sincere on both
sides. It ended, nevertheless, owing no doubt to the fine qualities of Mme.
C----, who, putting the happiness of others before her own, went abroad and
lost herself there for a time.

Proud, arrogant, accustomed to having his own way at any cost, selfish and
self-centered as the result of his indulgent childhood, during which he had
never exercised the least self-control, it was a new experience to Edgar
Saltus. Taking what he wanted when he wanted it and because he wanted it,
without the least thought of others, save perhaps his mother, he had built
up on his weaknesses, in ignorance of, and not recognizing, his strength.
The affair of Mme. C---- hurt.

Little wonder it was that when a pretty and petite blonde girl swam into
the maelstrom of his environment, he made a grab for her. Pert and
piquant, her face upturned in the waltz, he whispered the lines beginning:
"Helen, thy beauty is to me" ... following it up as only he could. In
addition to her own attractiveness, Helen Read had a father who was a
partner of J. Pierpont Morgan. She was no small catch, and there were many
out with fishing tackle and bait.

On the surface it looked like an ideal match. All the gifts of the gods
were divided between them. Besides, every one approved of it. That in
itself should have warned them of disaster.

The year 1883 turned a new page, Edgar Saltus breaking into matrimony and
into print almost simultaneously. Houghton, Mifflin and Company having
agreed to bring out his translation of Balzac, the horizon opened like a
fan. The microbe of ink having entered into his blood, he conceived the
idea of putting Schopenhauer and Spinoza before the public in condensed and
epigrammatic form. To their philosophy he determined to add his own. "The
Philosophy of Disenchantment" and "The Anatomy of Negation" began brewing
in the caldron of his mind.

A note-book in which is condensed material for writing these books is
perhaps the most interesting bit of intimate work Mr. Saltus left behind
him, revealing as it does an Edgar Saltus unknown and unsuspected by the
world. In it is no man giving out savories and soufflés with both hands,
taking the world as a jest, a game, and an amusement. It reveals the
serious and sober student, hiding behind a mask of smiles, subtleties, and
cynicism; the soul of a seeker, a soul very like that of his brother Frank.
So out of tune was it with its environment, so little understood, and so
little expecting to be, that wrapping itself in a mantle of impenetrability
and adjusting its mask, no one knew what existed behind it.

The note-book itself is most characteristic of Mr. Saltus. In it are
sonnets many of which have been published,--notes for his work,--drafts of
letters he expected to write,--quotations from various sources and
epigrams of his own and others jumbled together. Some of these are written
with his almost copper-plate precision, and the rest jotted down late at
night, perhaps after he had dined and wined well. These are mere scratches,
which only one familiar with his hand could decipher.

Youth flames from a leaf on which he has written:

               Edgar Saltus.
    A.M., Ph. D., K.S.K., etc., etc., etc.

The pomposity of this amused him very much during his later years. The
following quotations reveal what has been referred to as his oriental soul
floundering in the dark, seeking expression in a language new to his
tongue. Taken at random a few of the quotations are as follows:

"There are verses in the Vedas which when repeated are said to charm the
birds and beasts."

"All that we are is the result of what we have thought."

"Having pervaded the Universe with a fragment of Myself,--I remain."

"Near to renunciation,--_very near_,--dwelleth eternal peace."

As material for a book on agnosticism it is amusing,--his agnosticism being
in reality only his inability to accept creed-bound faiths. The quotations
are proof, however, that germinal somewhere was an aspiration for the
verities of things. Unable to find them, the ego drew in upon itself,
closing the door. Behind that door however it was watching and waiting with
a wistful yearning. Years later, after reading one stanza from the Book of
Dzyan, it flung open the door and emerged, to bathe in the sunlight it had
been seeking so long.

At the bottom of the page of quotations from the Gitâ is a footnote: "True
perhaps but utterly unintelligible to the rabble."

It was not long after his marriage that turning a corner he saw Fame
flitting ahead of him, smiling over her shoulder. The newspapers began to
quote his witticisms, as for example:

Hostess--"Mr. Saltus, what character in fiction do you admire most?"

Saltus--"God."

His books, considered outrageous to a degree, began to sell like hot cakes.
To quote again from a newspaper clipping of that day:

Depraved Customer--"Do you sell the books of Edgar Saltus?"

Virtuous Bookseller--"Sir, I keep Guy de Maupassant's, The Heptameron, and
Zola's, but Saltus--never."

Edgar Saltus was made.



CHAPTER III


To go back a little. It was shortly after his marriage to Helen Read that
the conventional trip to Europe followed. Added to the selfishness which
the circumstances of his life had fostered abundantly, Edgar Saltus had a
number of odd and well developed twists. Illness in any form was abhorrent
to him, contact with it unthinkable, and even to hear about it
objectionable. When his young wife suffered from neuralgia--a thing which
not infrequently happened--he put on his hat and walked out. The idea of
schooling himself to bear anything he disliked was as foreign as Choctaw.

High-tempered, moody, impatient to a degree seldom encountered, and with
the preconceived idea that he was entirely right in everything, he set sail
on the matrimonial sea. Two episodes will make clear why the shoals were
encountered so soon. Realizing then how oblique had been his angle, the
story of his life must be thrown forward, as they say in filmdom, to 1912
and then back again to the earlier episode.

We were traveling in a _wagon-lit_ from Germany to Paris. After he had
tucked me in for the night I noticed that Mr. Saltus had removed only his
coat and his shoes, and was going to bed practically clothed. That alone
made me take notice. We had not been married long at the time, but I was
acquainted with his habits. Better than any human I ever knew, he loved to
be _en negligée_. He could slide out of his clothes and into a
dressing-gown like an eel.

This extraordinary behavior was further emphasized when, in spite of his
hatred of speaking to people, servants especially, I heard him whispering
at the door to the guard. At such radical conduct, I asked what it was all
about. His reluctance to answer made me even more insistent. With his
cleverness at evasions and his agility at inventing explanations off the
bat, he put me aside with the suggestion that he had asked for more
covering. Knowing his ways and his wiles backward and forward, I laughed.
Explain he must. Then he said that we would be crossing the frontier in the
early hours of the morning, and, as it would be necessary for him to get
out and open our luggage for inspection, he had remained dressed. Realizing
that it was difficult for me to sleep under any conditions, and fearful
lest I be annoyed by it, he had told the man not to knock, but to come in
quietly and touch him instead. It was consideration for me, nothing else.

The explanation apparently covered everything. Drawing up his blankets he
said, "Good-night."

Instead, however, of the usual deep breathing to follow, presently I heard
him laughing, laughing heartily, and trying to suppress it. When questioned
he could only say:

"If Helen could see me now! Good Lord!"

When he had repeated it three or four times, I sat up and told him he could
tell the worst. This is what he said:

"When Helen and I were traveling this same route and we realized that the
frontier meant getting up in the night and the horrors of the customs, I
suggested that she be a sport, and toss up a coin to see which of us should
take on the job."

"Horrors!" I interjected. "How could you even think of such a thing?"

"How could I? There you have it. How could I? I did, all the same. We were
both young and healthy. I didn't see why my sex should be penalized. We
threw, and it fell to her."

Another "Horrors" came from the opposite bed. "But of course you did not
let her when it came to the scratch? You remembered that you were supposed
to take care of her?"

"What I remember only too well is that I did let her do it. She spoke
French beautifully and she did it quite uncomplainingly. What a brute I
was! I cannot believe that I was ever that sort of being."

"Suppose we toss up now?" I suggested.

Mr. Saltus laughed. "You! Why, little Puss, I would sit up all night with
joy, rather than have you wakened. You go out and attend to the customs!"
He laughed again. "If Helen could see me now! What a hell of a life I must
have led her!"

The other episode occurred during the last years of his life, when we were
living in the apartments where Mr. Saltus died. His bed-room and study were
at the end of a long hall, removed from the noise of the front door, the
elevator, and the telephone, where he could work in quiet.

Uninterrupted quiet was a vital essential to him. Distractions of any kind,
no matter how well meant or accidental, sent him into hysterics and ended
his work for the day, and he begged me never to speak to him unless the
house was on fire. Sometimes through carelessness I did interrupt him as he
went from his study to his bed-room, asking him a question or telling him
of something which had occurred, but when working in his study he was left
in peace.

One morning, however (it was while he was writing on "The Imperial Orgy"),
something happened which at the moment seemed so vital, that, impulsively
and without realizing what the effect would be, I burst into his study
without warning and started to tell him.

The effect on him was of such a nature that the errand was forgotten. With
a yell like that of a maniac, Mr. Saltus grabbed his hair, pulling it out
where it would give way. Still screaming, he batted his head against the
walls and the furniture; and finally giving way utterly, he got down and
hit his head on the floor.

None of it was directed against me--the offender, yet no woman could have
been blamed for running out of the house. Ten minutes later, when he had
been put to bed like a small boy, given a warm drink, and had an electric
pad applied to his solar plexus, his one request was that I sit beside him
and read extracts from the "Gitâ."

His action was pitiful, tragic.

"Poor child! No one but yourself could understand and put up with such a
demon," he said. "I should be taken to the lethal chamber and put out of
the way. And yet I could not help it."

The realization that he, an old man then, a student of Theosophy, the first
precept of which is self-restraint, could have given way as he had, hurt
him cruelly. Understanding and sympathy brought him to himself rapidly.
Otherwise he would have been ill.

Mr. Saltus was an unconscious psychic. With those he loved he needed no
explanation of anything. He understood even to the extent of answering
one's unspoken thoughts many times. So psychic was he, that his
disinclination to be in crowds or meet many people came from the fact that
they devitalized him, leaving him limp as a rag. When writing a book, as he
himself often expressed it, he was in a state of "high hallucinatory
fever," giving out of his ectoplasm very much as a materializing medium
gives it out in a séance, to build up a temporary body for the spirit.

It is a well-known scientific fact that any interruption during the process
of materialization causes repercussion on the body of the medium, the
velocity being such that illness, if not insanity, may result.

While creating a book, Mr. Saltus was in very much the same condition, the
finer forces of his etheric body being semi-detached from the physical. He
could not help it any more than he could help the color of his eyes.
Lacking discipline and self-control from his youth, he could not, after his
formative years, coordinate his forces so as to grapple with this
limitation effectively.

During an interval of reading the "Gitâ" on this occasion he told me the
following:

"In the early days when I was first married to Helen Read, I was writing on
a novel. She had no idea how interruptions affected me--nor did I realize
myself how acute anything of the kind could become. I was in the middle of
an intricate plot. Helen, who out of the kindness of her heart was bringing
me a present, opened the door of my study and came in more quietly than you
did. Before she could open her mouth to say a word, I began to scream and
pull at my hair. Rushing to an open window I tore the manuscript, on which
I had been working so long, into fragments and threw them into the street.
Whether she thought I had gone suddenly insane and intended to kill her,
she did not stop to say. When I looked around she had fled."

For a girl reared in an atmosphere of conventional respectability, as they
were in those days, it must have been an insight into bedlam. Once again he
made the remark:

"If Helen could see me now, I would seem natural to her. My next life is
apt to be a busy one, paying my debts to her and to others."

In view of all this, and of the flirtations he kept up on every side, she
must have had a tolerance and a patience seldom encountered.

After Balzac and "The Philosophy of Disenchantment" and "The Anatomy of
Negation" were off the press, novel after novel fell from his pen, and the
newspaper articles quoted previously were appearing. In "A Transaction in
Hearts" Mr. Saltus put some of his own experiences, but so changed that the
public could not connect him with the plot. His literary bark was launched
and under full sail. He could touch the garment of Fame, and the texture
was soft and satisfying.

One of his novels was dedicated to E--R, his mother-in-law Emmaline Read.
Another to V. A. B. was to his friend Valentine (or Vally) Blacque. E--W
was to Miss Edith son, who later in life became the wife of Mr. Francis H.
Wellman, a genius in his own field. Shroeder and Lorillard Ronalds were
remembered as well.

During a summer abroad Mr. Saltus conceived the idea of writing "Mary
Magdalen." The circumstances connected with it are interesting. He was
dining in the rooms of Lord Francis Hope one evening. Oscar Wilde was
another guest. After their liqueurs and cigars the latter sauntered about,
looking at some of the pictures he fancied. One representing Salome
intrigued him more than a little. Beckoning to Mr. Saltus, he said:

"This picture calls me. I am going to write a classic--a play--'Salome.' It
will be my masterpiece."

Near it was a small picture of the Magdalen.

"Do so," said Mr. Saltus, "and I will write a book--'Mary Magdalen.' We
will pursue the wantons together."

Acting on the impulse, Mr. Saltus took rooms in Margaret Street, Cavendish
Square, where, within walking distance of the British Museum, he could
study his background for the story.

Mornings spent in research, afternoons in writing, with a bite of dinner at
Pagani's in Great Portland Street, made up his days. There were
interruptions, to be sure. One of them was a girl named Maudie, who lived
somewhere in Peckham. She joined him now and again at dinner. Asked to
describe her, he said he had forgotten even her last name, but remembered
that he had written of her, "She had the disposition of a sun-dial." This
may have assisted to keep him in a good humor.

Many years later Mr. Saltus took me to see the rooms he had occupied during
this time, with their queer old open fireplace, great four-poster bed,
canopied on all sides, and the old desk at which he had spent so many happy
hours. Working hours were happy hours to him, always. He had a sentiment
for the place, and once when I was in London alone I stopped there, taking
his old rooms for a time, and visiting the landmarks associated with that
part of his life. That I should do this touched him profoundly.

During the writing of "Mary Magdalen" he met many interesting people. Among
them was Owen Meredith, then British Ambassador to France. In connection
with him a rather amusing incident occurred. Dining one evening at the
home of Lady B----, Mr. Saltus was vis-a-vis with Owen Meredith. In the
course of the dinner the hostess gave the poet a novel, and asked him to
translate an epigram on the fly-leaf which was written in Greek.

Looking at it he said:

"My eyes are not what they once were. Give it to our young friend here,"
meaning Mr. Saltus.

The passage that had stumped him stumped Mr. Saltus as well, but he refused
to be caught. Glancing at it, he exclaimed:

"It is not fit to be translated in Lady B----'s presence."

At that both the rogues laughed.

In a monograph called "Parnassians Personally Encountered," Mr. Saltus
tells of this episode, as also of his meeting with other celebrities of the
day. Of Oscar Wilde he saw a great deal. The rapid-firing battery of his
wit, his epigrams, which gushing up as a geyser confused and astounded the
crowd, enchanted him. At the then popular Café Royal in Regent Street,
Wilde and himself, with a few congenial men, spent many an evening.

There was much in the mental companionship of Mr. Saltus and Wilde which
sharpened and stimulated each, making their conversation a battle-ground of
aphorisms and epigrams. According to Mr. Saltus, in spite of his abnormal
life, Wilde's conversation, barring its brilliancy, was as respectable and
conventional as that of a greengrocer. Neglecting to laugh at a doubtful
joke tossed off by one of his admirers, he was asked somewhat sarcastically
if he were shocked.

"I have lost the ability to be shocked, but not the ability to be bored,"
was the reply.

Vulgarity sickened him. Vice had to be perfumed, pagan, and private to
intrigue him. His conversation was immaculate. Many incidents concerning
Wilde are given in Mr. Saltus' monograph, "Oscar Wilde--An Idler's
Impressions." They give a new slant on his many-sided personality. One
episode is especially illuminating.

With Mr. Saltus, Wilde was driving to his home in Chelsea on a bleak and
bitter night. Upon alighting a man came up to them. He wore a short jacket
which he opened. From neck to waist he was bare. At the sight Mr. Saltus
gave him a gold piece, but Wilde, with entire simplicity, took off his own
coat and put it about the man. It was a lesson Mr. Saltus never forgot.



CHAPTER IV


The next vital experience in Mr. Saltus' life was his divorce from Helen
Read. Hopelessly unsuited to be the husband of any woman who expected to
find a normal, conventional and altogether rational being, his marriage
with her was doomed to failure from the first.

From his rooms on Fifth Avenue, at a large Italian table of carved olive
wood (the same table on which I am writing these lines), he turned out
novels like flapjacks, entertaining his acquaintances in the intervals.

Among the friends of the first Mrs. Saltus was a girl belonging to one of
the oldest and best families in the country. Spanish in colouring, high
bred in features, a champion at sports and a belle at the balls, she was
sufficiently attractive to arrest the attention of a connoisseur. Owing to
her friendship with his wife, she saw a great deal of Mr. Saltus also.
Their acquaintance, however, had begun many years before, when as a youth
in Germany he had met the girl and her family. Too young at that time to
think of marriage they had been semi-sweethearts.

It was only to be expected, then, that his side of the story was put
forward with all the cleverness of a master of his craft, and what man, no
matter how much in the wrong, does not consider himself much abused? In
this case, he gained not only a sympathetic listener, but an ally.

Tea in his rooms perhaps,--a luncheon in some quiet and secluded restaurant
to talk it over, and tongues began to wag. That wagging was more easily
started than stopped. It gained momentum. Before it reached its height,
Mrs. Saltus brought an action for divorce, naming her one-time friend as
one of the co-respondents. Willing to agree to the divorce, provided the
name of the girl was omitted, Mr. Saltus struck the first opposition of his
life. Bitter over her friend's "taking ways",--forgetting perhaps that
even in court circles the American habit of souvenir hunting had become the
fashion,--she may have thought a husband superior to a bit of stone from an
historic ruin, or a piece of silver from a sanctuary. Possibly in those
days they were.

Many years later, when asked by Mr. Saltus as a joke, what I would do, in
case some woman lured him from our fireside, I read him the account of a
Denver woman, who, hearing that her husband was about to elope with his
typist, appeared at the office. She was on the lookout for bargains. Facing
the offenders she agreed to let them go in peace with her blessing, if the
typist would promise to provide her with a new hat. Hats were scarce and
expensive. Husbands, cheap and plentiful, were not much in exchange.
Commenting on it the paper said, "The woman who got the hat, was in luck."

This episode and the newspaper article about it occurring many years later,
there was nothing to suggest the idea to the first incumbent. Besides,
being the daughter of a many times millionaire, she was probably well
supplied with hats.

At this time, Edgar Saltus was at the height of his fame. The newspapers
reeked with the scandal. There were editions after editions in which his
name appeared in large type. To protect the name of the alleged
co-respondent Mr. Saltus fought tooth and nail. However much he had been at
fault in his treatment of Helen Read, his intentions now were to be
chivalrous in the extreme, to protect the girl who had been dragged into
such a maelstrom.

Every witticism he had sent out was used against him. His amusing reply
"God", spoken of previously, became a boomerang. Having once been asked
what books had helped him most, he replied "My own." From that joke a
colossus of conceit arose.

The history of that suit was so written up and down and then rewritten, as
to be boring in the extreme. After a great deal of delay, of mud-throwing,
and heart-breaking, the name of her one-time friend having been withdrawn,
and all suggestion of indiscretion retracted, a divorce was given to Helen
Read. She was a free woman again,--free to forget, if she could, the hectic
experience of marriage with a man fundamentally different from those who
had entered her life.

After the divorce Mr. Saltus threw himself into his work. "Mme. Sapphira"
was the immediate result. Aimed at his first wife, in an attempt to
vindicate himself,--with a thin plot, and written as it was with a purpose,
it not only failed to interest, but reacted rather unpleasantly upon
himself. His object in writing it was too obvious.

It was his custom in those days to begin writing immediately after his
coffee in the morning. That alone constituted his breakfast,--a pot of
coffee and a large pitcher of milk, with a roll or two or a few thin slices
of toast. Cream and sugar he detested. Accustomed to this breakfast during
his life abroad, it was a habit he never changed. The same breakfast in
the same proportions, was served to him until his last day.

Writing continuously until about two p. m., he would stop for a bite, and
then go at it again until four. Hating routine and regularity above all
things, his copy alone was excepted. It was his habit to write a book in
the rough, jotting down the main facts and the dialogue. The next writing
put it into readable form, and on this second he always worked the hardest,
transforming sentences into graceful transitions,--interjecting epigrams,
witticisms and clever dialogue, and penetrating the whole with his
personality. The third writing (and he never wrote a book less than three
times) gave it its final coat of varnish. Burnishing the finished product
with untiring skill, it scintillated at last.

Poetry came more easily to him than prose. He had to school himself at
first to avoid falling into it. On his knees before the spirit of Flaubert,
he pruned and polished his work.

At four, it was his custom to go for a walk Never interested in
sports,--walking only because he recognized the necessity for keeping
himself in physical trim, it was Spartan for him to do something he
disliked, and to keep on doing it. Pride kept him on the job. The "Pocket
Apollo" could not let himself go the way of least resistance. Shortly
before this time his brother Frank, who, at the last, had become a physical
wreck, had passed on. Outwardly this appeared to affect Mr. Saltus but
little. In reality it touched the vital center of his hidden self. A
photograph of Frank Saltus on a Shetland pony, against which the child
Edgar was leaning, hung in the latter's room forever after. The likeness
between them is striking. It is the only picture extant of Frank as a
child.

Not long after the divorce, and while he was still much in the limelight,
Mr. Saltus met at a dinner party a married woman,--a Mrs. A----. Well
known, wealthy, once divorced and the heroine of many romances, she took
one look at the "Pocket Apollo", and decided that she had met her fate.

During this time Mr. Saltus had become engaged to Miss Elsie Smith, a
talented, charming and high-bred girl belonging to one of the oldest New
York families, and expecting to marry her the following year, he was not
seeking an affair. Seeking or not the affair followed him, and was the
cause, indirect but unmistakable, of the wrecking of what might have been a
happy life with his second wife. Quoting Mr. Saltus, it began in this way.

The day after the dinner, while serving tea in his rooms to his fiancée, a
knock came at the door. That was unprecedented. No one was better
barricaded against intrusion than he. Not only were lift men and bell boys
well paid, but instructed in a law more drastic than that of the Medes and
Persians. It was to the effect, that the people he wanted to see he would
arrange to have reach him. Others who called,--no matter whom or what their
errand--were to be told that he was in conference with an Archbishop. If
they still persisted, they were to be told that he was dead.

This fancy of his continued throughout life, as attendants in the Arizona
Apartments must well remember. Nothing angered him more than infringement
of these rules. Unless summoned, no servant--no matter what the
occasion--dared to approach him.

By what guile, subterfuge or bribe Mrs. A---- had turned the trick, Mr.
Saltus had forgotten. After repeated knocking he decided to go to the door,
which he did, with hell-fire in his eyes, as his fiancée stepped behind a
portiere.

Determined to throttle the intruder he flung open the door. Cool and fresh
as a gardenia Mrs. A---- walked in. It was an awkward moment. In that
instant he no doubt remembered some of the careless compliments of the
night before. Going up to him, Mrs. A---- looked into his eyes and said:--

"I love you, and I have come to tell you of it. Dine with me tonight."

That was more awkward still. Even his ingenuity was taxed. Kissing her
hand, telling her that she had dragged him from the heroine of a novel so
abruptly that he was not normal, and promising to dine with her that
evening, he bowed her out. No one else could have managed it so cleverly.

The lady of the first part then reappearing he laughed. Telling her that
his promise to Mrs. A---- was the only way of sending her off, he sat down
at once and wrote her a letter, saying that it would be impossible for him
to dine with her after all. This he gave to his fiancée, asking her to send
it by a messenger on her way home.

It was well done. Knowing that his mail was bursting with letters from
love-sick women,--knowing also that no scrap-book, however large, could
hold the letters, locks of hair and photographs, that poured in on him
daily, and accepting it as a part of a literary man's life,--she accepted
this as well. They laughed over the episode and brushed it aside.

As a matter of fact Mr. Saltus played fair. He did not go to dine, but as
soon as he was alone, he sent another note less formal than the first,
asking Mrs. A---- to return the former note unopened, and saying that
though dinner was impossible, he would give himself the pleasure of calling
afterward.

This he did, and it turned the scales of his life. Questioned next day by
his fiancée as to whether or not he had changed his mind and gone to
dinner, he denied it vigorously. After that both ladies were invited for
tea, great care being taken, however, that they should never meet again.

The following summer Mrs. A---- with a party of friends went abroad. Mr.
Saltus joined them, safe in the knowledge that his fiancée was away with
her family, where, being decidedly persona non grata, he could not be
expected to follow. The summer passed and again he joined Mrs. A---- and
her friends in Cuba. Spring saw him in New York again. A year had elapsed,
during which he saw his fiancée occasionally and Mrs. A---- often.

From two letters written by Mrs. A----, which, used as book-marks, were
found between the leaves of an old novel after Mr. Saltus' death, a love
that counted no cost--passionate and paralyzing--oozes from the pages. "How
could I live if you should cease to love me?" was asked again and again.

Cease he did, however. There are those so constituted that they can drift
out of an affair so gradually that it is over without any perceptible
transition. It was that way with Edgar Saltus. Mercurial to a degree,
easily put off by something so slight no one else would have been
susceptible to it, when he was done--he was done. As he himself expressed
it, he could not "relight a burnt-out cigar."

That affair over, he remembered the ring he had given and the girl to whom
he was engaged. In spite of living in a social world poles apart from Mrs.
A----, and in spite of absence and travel, rumors of the affair had
filtered to his fiancée. Straightforward herself, scorning subterfuge as
weakness, she asked him to tell her the truth. With righteous indignation
Mr. Saltus denied it in toto, declaring it was an invention intended to
discredit him in her eyes. It was in this that he made the mistake of his
life.

Talking it over with me years afterward, he admitted that had he told her
the truth, loving him as she did, she would probably in the end have
forgiven him. It was the streak of fear--fear of a moment's unpleasantness,
which he might have faced then and there and surmounted--which was his
undoing. Taking the easiest way for the time being, he reiterated his
denials.

In glancing over the scenario of Edgar Saltus' life, this act, at the
pinnacle of his popularity and fame, may in the region behind effects have
set in motion forces which tore the peplum of popularity from him, and in
spite of his genius pushed him into semi-obscurity at the last.

His denials accepted, and there being no reason for delay, he married Elsie
Smith in Paris in 1895. It should have been a happy marriage, the two
having sufficient in common and neither being in their first youth. Its
rapid failure is therefore all the more pathetic.

Going from Paris to the south of France, the first mishap was that of
breaking his ankle. Unable to stand pain, Mr. Saltus fainted three times
while it was being set. That rather disgusted his wife. This accident led
to their first misunderstanding, when, in answering a telegram from Mrs.
Saltus Sr., news of the accident was excluded. Unwilling to hear anything
of an unpleasant nature himself, Mr. Saltus was equally unwilling to tell
any one he loved of a disagreeable episode. The memory of his early life
and training was at the bottom of this, and from one aspect it was a most
lovable quality.

Asked by Mr. Saltus why she had spoken of the accident, his wife replied
that she had but told the truth. At this Mr. Saltus flew into a rage,
declaring, as he used to put in his copy, "Truth must be pleasant, or else
withheld."

The incident was slight, but that which followed was not so. He being
unable because of his ankle to get about freely, and wanting some
cigarettes from a trunk, Mrs. Saltus volunteered to get them. She got the
shock and surprise of her life as well. Carelessness over his personal
effects was a characteristic of Mr. Saltus'. That carelessness was his
undoing upon this occasion. Beside the cigarettes lay a letter from Mrs.
A----. His wife read it. There and then she knew she had married him as the
result of a fabrication. A scene followed. Furious at his detection, Mr.
Saltus upbraided her for reading a letter not intended for her eyes. It was
the beginning of the end.

In one of Mr. Saltus' note books is the copy of a letter sent to his wife
shortly after the episode:

     Elsie:--

     To be quite candid with you I cannot be candid. I
     cannot write to you as I used to do. I no longer know
     what you will keep to yourself, what you will repeat,
     nor yet how you will distort my words. The flow of
     confidence is checked. An artery has been severed....
     If reading has given you any idea of what a battle is,
     you will remember that in the excitement of danger men
     may be shot and slashed and not notice their wounds
     until the fight is at an end.

     Not until I got here did I realize what you had done in
     telling your mother you had married me under
     compulsion. Then I discovered that during the fight
     which I had entered single handed for your sake, I had
     been shot--shot from behind, shot by you.

     There has been a great change in the weather, from
     being very hot it has become quite cool. I hope you are
     well and enjoying yourself.

                                As ever,
                                  E. S.



The letter speaks for itself. In the same note book are entries made during
the same time:--

    May 3rd, 1896.

    Problem:--"Which is harder; for a woman to live under
    the same roof with a man whom she detests, or for a man
    to live under the same roof with a woman who detests
    him?"

    "Every day she invents some new way of being
    disagreeable."

    "Love should have but one punishment for the
    wrongdoer,--that is, forgiveness."

    "Injuries are writ in iron,--kindnesses scrawled in
    sand."

Again November 13th.

    "Elsie having told me:--

    1. That I can ask nothing of her.

    2. That her affairs are no concern of mine.

    3. That hereafter she will give no orders for me:

    We lead separate lives,--but into my life I open
    windows. Against her own she closes doors."

One cannot at this day know or judge the inner ethics of it all. Mr.
Saltus' side only has been poured into my ears. One thing, however, is
certain. Mrs. Saltus, who suffered deeply at his hands, considered herself
more than justified in all that she did.

The fool blames others for the tragedies of life. The sage blames no one.
He knows that everything which happens is but the result of causes beyond
his control. He learns from suffering and defeat. With Epictetus he says
"We should wish things to be as they are."



CHAPTER V


Returning to the United States with his wife, Edgar Saltus took an
apartment in the Florence in East 18th street, where, on an upper floor,
his mother had lived for some time. Though their relations were strained to
the breaking point, a link held them. Mrs. Saltus expected to become a
mother in the autumn of 1897.

It was at this juncture that Mr. Saltus thought of journalism. His
popularity as a novelist as well as his exchequer had dwindled. This was
directly due to his divorce, the fighting of which had been expensive both
in coin and character. Journalism held out a hand. A literary man should,
he believed, be able to tackle anything with his pen.

The New York Journal, as the American was then called, gave him his first
assignment. It was to go to Sing Sing prison and, seeing a murderer
electrocuted, write it up from his unique angle. That, for a man who could
not hear about a cut finger without shuddering! It might have been a
knock-out the first day. All night he fought with himself. To refuse the
first assignment meant having the door of journalism shut in his face. To
go and faint at the sight, might mean worse.

With characteristic ingenuity he mapped out a plan. "Go to Sing Sing
prison? With pleasure." Imagination being one of his greatest assets, he
sat up all night picturing and then writing the scene, taking a new slant
on it, peppering his copy with witticism and metaphors; and the work was
done. One might suppose he had supped on electrocutions.

Stuffing the copy in his pocket he went,--went to the death house, and in
spite of his trembling legs, went with the officials near the chair itself.
Then he closed his eyes. Next morning his article appeared, the editor
complimenting him; "Edgar Saltus only could have seen so much in so
little," he said.

Thereafter he was launched as a journalist, writing Sunday specials almost
continuously. With this, and with Collier's Weekly, for which he edited a
column called The Note Book, and a history which he was compiling for
Collier's also, Mr. Saltus' working hours were ten out of the twenty-four,
and his output greater than at any time since he had flowered into print.

Working continuously when indoors, taking his meals at the old Everett
House, then on the upper corner of Union Square, he lived in a world of his
own, accepting things as they were.

Writing of him at that time Town Topics said:--

"Time deals gently with Edgar Saltus. In spite of his arduous literary
labours he is the same Edgar he was fifteen years ago. Slick, dark, jaunty.
He has not taken on flesh and preserves the slim youthful shape of years
ago. Tripping up the Avenue a day or two ago in his new straw hat and blue
serge suit it was hard to believe that he was not a summer man of this
year's vintage. How does he do it? Concerning his work a pretty woman once
said to him, 'Mr. Saltus, I never know what construction to put on your
books.' 'Put the worst,' was the author's reply."

The following summers he spent with his mother at Narragansett Pier. Second
only to Newport in that day, it was a most fashionable resort. Smartness
and beauty vied with each other not only in Sherry's Casino but in the
large hotels which no longer exist. The smart set absent from Newport were
to be found at the Pier. Bar Harbor excepted, there was no where else to go
and swim--in the swim.

At this epoch, in addition to his fame as a novelist and journalist, Mr.
Saltus added that of being a Don Juan and a Casanova rolled into one, with
a bit thrown in for good measure. They paled beside the reputation
enveloping him. A whisper followed his footsteps. It was to the effect that
not only had his first wife been glad to escape with her life but that his
second was but waiting the psychological moment to follow suit.

Young girls were warned against being seen with him. Elder women had to be
restrained from flinging themselves in his way. When he appeared in the
Casino, he at once became the center of interest. This was understandable,
for he was startlingly handsome. A few years over forty,--his thick black
hair parted in the center,--his chiselled features emphasized by the tilt
of his head,--his small moustache twisted to a hair,--he gazed upon the
world through eyes of pansy purple, which, while contemptuous, were
saddened by all that he had suppressed in silence. Slight, scrupulously
turned out, a walking stick always in his hand, he stood in relief against
the other men at the Pier--an Olympian in a world of mortals.

A connection of my family,--a childhood playmate of my cousins, and a
companion in youth of my eldest half-brother, Mr. Saltus was hurled into my
life by a huge wave. We were in bathing at the time.

Spending that summer at Narragansett with my brother, happy in the vacation
from school, where I misused the time for practicing music in scribbling, I
imagined myself an embryonic Ouida. In the circumstances a Ouidaesque hero
seemed worth bothering with.

"Here, Edgar,"--my brother caught Mr. Saltus by the arm--"disabuse this kid
of the idea that she can learn to write."

Mr. Saltus turned, but a wave was quicker. It took him like a top, spinning
him around and around, depositing him finally at my feet. He attempted to
rise. The undertow thought otherwise. With his accustomed facetious
flattery, he asked:

"What do I get for lying at the feet of a child?"

"A kick," was the reply, action following the words.

Our introduction was effected. Going up on the beach we sat down on the
sand. It was a brilliant July morning.

"So you think you would like to write, Bambina? Don't. Take fatherly
advice. A woman's sole duty in life is to charm and do nothing. Only old
scoundrels like myself should work. Behold the result."

"You were badly brought up," he was told.

"How would you have tackled the job?" he inquired.

"Taking you down would have suited me much better."

That amused him. He laughed.

"Of course. It is only from babes like you that age learns now-a-days. How
is it that you are the one of your family I meet last?" He hesitated.
"No--not last,--for I seem always to have remembered you. Long ago you
closed a door and left me in darkness. Now you open it again and smile. You
should never do anything but smile,--and yet you have--oh, I don't know
what! You take me back to Rome--back and back through lives and lives--if
such were true."

I hastened to reassure him.

"Such things are true, surely. From the time I was able to think at all, I
remembered many events from former lives. I have no recollection of knowing
you, however."

"But you believe that you lived before? I'll tell you what I have never
mentioned to any one. From an agnostic it would not ring true. If I have
written anything which will live it is 'Imperial Purple.' The reason is
simple. If there is anything in your theory at all, I lived in Rome. I was
an eye-witness of the killing of Cæsar. The story of it ran off my pen.
Text books were needless. I wrote as I remembered, and truth penetrates.
Later I tried to write of Greece, and failed. It was mechanical. There was
no subconscious memory to help me. A pretty theory,--that is all. When a
bee dies it ceases to hum."

Joining my brother and myself Mr. Saltus lunched at the Casino. Later in
the afternoon, overtaking us on the road with his bicycle, he joined us
again. So satisfied and overbearing was his exterior, so arrogant his
veneer, that it was with difficulty one could penetrate it and see the
over-indulged and pampered little boy, full of fun and longing to
play,--sympathetic and full of sentiment, hiding the best beneath the
worst,--fearful of being misunderstood,--of being his real self. Coming
face to face with a little girl more pampered and self-willed even than
himself gave him a shock.

That evening, a woman friend of my brother's making a fourth, we were Mr.
Saltus' guests for dinner at the Casino. In those days Sherry's old Casino
was a fairyland of fashion, beauty and smartness. It presented a brilliant
scene at that moment.

In faultless evening clothes, his dark colouring emphasized by the expanse
of shirt front, Mr. Saltus looked what he may have been,--an Oriental,
trying to adapt himself to a foreign environment. He was, on the contrary,
silhouetted against it.

Dinner over, my brother took his friend to watch the dancing. We were
supposed to follow. At Mr. Saltus' suggestion, however, we turned and went
to the upper turret of the Casino. From there we stood and looked down upon
the panorama below. It was an interesting sight. At tables shaded by
immense coloured umbrellas made visible by multiple electric lights, the
murmur of well turned out men, talking to beautiful women, rose like the
hum of bees.

The orchestra, which was unusually fine, muted their violins with the
plaintive strains of the Liebestod. Mr. Saltus could not tell one note from
another, nor could he play on any musical instrument, but he had an ear as
sensitive to the slightest discord as a composer's. The Liebestod spoke a
language he understood. That language was mine also. It spoke even more
clearly to me,--saturated as I had been with Wagner and the various motifs
of his masterpieces since babyhood. Music moved me profoundly.

When he turned at last, it was to see tears in my eyes. He said nothing.
There is that in silence which is more forceful than words. That also was
a language he understood. The orchestra ceased. The hum began again, but
from a far distant ball-room there filtered the faint but unmistakable
notes of "Love's Dream After the Ball." July twilights are long. Still
silent, we watched a sky of coral and jade melt into a night spattered with
stars.

A school girl, with little knowledge of men save that gleaned from Scott
and Ouida, it was no wonder that at his first words I had the surprise of
my life.

In true Ouidaesque style Mr. Saltus took a fold of my gown in his hand,
dropped to his knees, and kissing it said:--

"All my life I have been a rudderless ship seeking harbour. Now I am home.
I come a weary and sinful pilgrim to knock at the portals of paradise."

Indignant in the belief that I was considered too young to be treated as an
equal,--regarding him, in spite of his extreme beauty, as too old to be
thinking seriously about the future, I received his words with a blaze of
anger. A hasty and dignified exit was called for. That, however, was not
easy to make. His back against the gate, Mr. Saltus went on talking. He
said a great deal and he said it well.

Only that morning a woman sitting on the veranda of the hotel where we were
stopping, had entertained the other old women who were knitting, with the
recital of Mr. Saltus' life and his misdeeds. One remark constantly
interjected had amused me:--

"He boasts that every novel he has written has been dug from a woman's
heart."

This I threw at him like a bomb. He took it standing. He had to stand to
control the gate which was the sole exit from the turret. Thereupon, and in
spite of my efforts to go, he told me the story of his life in brief,
pouring it out as rapidly as he could, admitting his mistakes and wrong
doing,--confessing three-fold the iniquities which had been put to his
discredit by the public. Carrying it up to date, he admitted that though he
was under the same roof with his wife, he was not living with her, and
that he wanted to be free to start life over again.

"You are so young, I can almost bring you up," he said.

"Bring me up, indeed!" I exclaimed. "You will dig no experience out of my
heart. The shadow of your personality shall never cloud my life." That
seemed such a fine phrase at the time. Still indignant and fearful of being
considered an ignorant child, I became silent. That was the way a Ouida
heroine should act.

Disregarding both my silence and my resentment, Mr. Saltus went on
talking:--

"I don't like your name. It means sorrow, and every Marie who has
encountered the Saltus family has suffered from it. You shall be the
exception. I will use the name you invented when as a baby you tried to
pronounce it,--Mowgy. That is your name, and being such a pert little puss
I will add that for good measure,--Mowgy-Puss. Now what animal will you
attach to me?"

While speaking, Mr. Saltus had released his hold on the gate. He was
anxious to know what animal I would assign to him. Afterward he confessed
that he had expected me to say a lion. That would have pleased him too
well. Distracting his attention from the exit, I moved nearer to it.
Answering "A skunk!" I emphasized it with a sudden bolt through the gate
and rushed down stairs to the Casino.

An avalanche overwhelmed us there. Our absence having become prolonged, my
brother, with Archibald Clavering Gunter, who warned him of my danger with
every step, had searched not only the Casino but the sands. There was a
heated scene. The friendship of years snapped like a wish-bone, and I was
dragged back to the hotel.

There it might have ended,--would probably have ended, and the biography of
Edgar Saltus have fallen into other hands than mine to write, but
well-intentioned friends and relatives assisted things so super-abundantly,
that what might have died a natural death took on new life and flourished.

Forbidden to speak to Mr. Saltus under penalty of being sent home to my
father, it became at once an interesting romance. The following morning
there was not a dowager in the hotel unacquainted with my misdeed, and none
omitted to add their warning and advice. Hearing of the adventure, and that
I was taking a land-slide to perdition and was hell-bent, friends called to
warn and save me. Dear old Gunter with genuine kindness of heart came also.

"I am a very busy man just now," he said, "but if you are determined to
learn how to write, and will wait till I get this novel off my mind, I will
take you in hand and see what I can make of you."

Everyone did their duty. The only one not offering advice was the hotel
cat. Not permitted for a moment to leave my brother's side I seemed safe
and secure. It was all in the seeming, for Mr. Saltus was a very ingenious
man. The early afternoon papers from New York used to reach the Pier about
three, boys taking them to all the hotels on the front. One stopped at
ours. We were sitting on the veranda at the time, my brother buying a paper
as usual. With a knowing wink the newsboy shoved another into my hand.
While every one else was reading I unfolded it. A note from Mr. Saltus fell
out. It suggested that after I was supposed to be in bed that evening, I
slip out, go down a back staircase and meet the writer at a place on the
beach he designated. It was urgent. It was more. It suggested that if I did
not appear he would drink himself into delirium, and then come to the hotel
and have it out with my brother.

Youth is credulous. I met him at the place suggested. After that the
newsboy served as a postman. Letters came and went. There was a thrill in
doing it under their noses. It came out at last, however. I was returned to
my father minus a character and the family warned to watch me very closely.

So fate went on weaving its web, and the karmic links of anterior lives
reached out, binding our destiny.



CHAPTER VI


Autumn came, and the paw of the tiger that destiny is, reached out. It was
a paw of velvet, however. I was called to the telephone one afternoon to
speak to my violin teacher. Such a call was not unexpected. It had all been
arranged beforehand, and it was Mr. Saltus saying "Hello!" None of the
family had seen my violin teacher or heard his voice. All they knew was
that I practiced many hours a day. The arrangement worked to perfection. If
I went off for my lessons a little earlier than necessary, it was
unnoticed. The bicycle was useful also, being considered a healthful and
needed exercise. I was encouraged to ride every afternoon, and Mr. Saltus
and I would meet on the Riverside for a chat.

Barring his little daughter, Elsie, of whom Mr. Saltus was exceedingly
fond, he made no mention of his family life, nor did I. This was in
pre-flapper days. The world was very old-fashioned. Bachelor girls and the
rights of the individual were not talked about, or even thought of. Strange
as it may seem in this emancipated era, any friendship between a married
man and a young girl was looked upon not only as disgraceful, but
impossible.

We talked it over. Realizing that while he remained under the roof with his
wife, he owed her more than he could ever pay, realizing too that any
indiscretion of mine must react upon a greatly beloved father, I closed the
episode--or thought I had.

Within a few days after this Mrs. Francis Henry Saltus, Mr. Saltus' mother,
called and invited me to tea at her home. There, at least, one would be
free from censure. Other invitations followed and were accepted.

If there was a being on earth whom Mr. Saltus truly loved it was his
mother. His deference to her and his solicitude for her were beautiful. It
would have been tragic otherwise, considering how her entire life had been
devoted to him. He was her little boy even then,--naughty, perhaps, but her
idol. As a matter of fact his mother understood him as little as others
did. Love, however, is somewhat psychic. She never took his atheism
seriously. Many a time she would interrupt some of his remarks to say:--

"This is not the real Edgar. It may take time, but he will come out of it
all at the last."

Mr. Saltus often referred to this when, as she predicted, he did "come out
of it."

So frequently was I a guest in his mother's drawing-room that it was
difficult for my family to debar Mr. Saltus from our home. His interest in
my father's library being accepted as evidence of his fitness, he was
permitted to call. Better, they thought, for me to receive him under their
roof than meet in secret, where unpleasant construction might be put upon
it.

Like the proverbial camel, his nose once safely in the tent of the enemy,
the rest followed. He was accepted as a friend of the family.

No one could enjoy a joke more readily than Mr. Saltus' mother.
Quick-witted, clever at repartee, she was delighted when any one had the
temerity to brave her son and give him back tit for tat. While I was having
tea with them one afternoon Mr. Saltus outlined what he thought should be
my study for the next few months, ending with the remark that a slip of a
girl did not know what was good for her.

Unhesitatingly came the reply--"A slip will not be instructed by a snip."

Mr. Saltus was slightly undersized for a man. The remark rather hurt him,
but his mother burst into a laugh. From that day until his death he was
Snipps or Snippsy to me always. So fond did he become of the name that he
used it almost entirely when writing or speaking of himself. Upon
occasions, when annoyed at something he did I used the name of Edgar, he
was hurt and indignant and could not be himself again until the other name
was restored. Adopting from me a child language I always used with my pets
he would say:--

"I be a good Snipps! (imitating a dog begging); I'm old dog Tray--ever
faithful."

"Associating with a child has put you back where you belong," his mother
once said to him. "You are nothing but a bad little boy, grown up."

Strangely enough, it was not so much a romantic attachment as fundamental
qualities in common, that made possible the bond between a young girl and a
middle-aged man. In meeting a temperament like his own, but in exaggerated
form, it meant not only a common language, but an uncommon thing on his
part,--that of revealing to himself his high-strung nervous excitability
and absent-mindedness in the mirror of those qualities in another. In
attempting to soothe the nerves of another, he forgot his own. In
remembering to pick up handkerchiefs, gloves and purses, dropped under
chairs and tables and forgotten, he gradually began to look after and take
care of another even more helpless in that respect than himself.

With a girl, never popular at school, because of her desire for silence
and solitude, having more interest in reading than in games, he felt
himself to be absolutely at home. As I was looked upon as abnormal and
unnatural even by my family, the understanding and sympathy of such a
brilliant man, with a wealth of information on every subject under heaven
at his finger-tips, turned him into my Alma Mater.

About this time an incident occurred which was not only characteristic of
Mr. Saltus' weakest side, but so far-reaching in its effects that no
biography would be complete without it.

Admiring letters from women were his daily diet. As a rule he ignored them.
At one time I started to make a scrap-book of them for him, calling it The
Dollymops Daily. When a week or so would go by without bringing in a fresh
batch of them, Mr. Saltus was told that his stock was going down and that
he should have a care to his moustache.

Among these letters was one from England, from a Dorothy S----. With it was
the photograph of a high-bred and pretty girl. Her letter was different
from the average one. Mr. Saltus answered it, and a correspondence began
between them. Knowing of him only through his stories and articles in the
newspapers, in ignorance that he was not only a married man but a father as
well, she assumed that he was neither, and she wrote him to the effect that
she was sure he was her affinity, and all the rest of it.

That was the time to have eased off, but Mr. Saltus did not. Her letters
interested him. She was too far away to cause him inconvenience, for the
moment at least, and material for stories might result.

Answering again he brushed aside the possibility of future unpleasantness,
and sent her an inexpensive ring. The girl took this very seriously.
Replying to his vague compliments, she formally accepted him and sent him a
ring in return, which he brought up to me as a joke.

Vainly was he blackjacked and scarified by me in her behalf. The affair
amused him. Having let her assume that he was an unmarried man, he would
not face the momentary unpleasantness of writing her the truth and putting
the matter straight, at the price of a little humiliation.

Horrified, however, at the way she had taken it, and fearing possible
results, he wrote to her saying that he was en route to South America on an
assignment for a newspaper, and hoped it would end there. Far from it.
After several unanswered letters, the girl's mother, having ascertained in
some way that he was still in New York, sent him a note by registered mail
telling him that her daughter, always delicate, had gone utterly to pieces
over his silence, and asking the reason of it.

The more involved it became the less inclined was Mr. Saltus to face it,
confess the truth and admit that he had replied for amusement only. No
amount of hammering at him could make him realize that he was playing with
the affections of a human being who might suffer in consequence. It had
been only a diversion to him. He could not see why it should not be the
same to her. Weeks passed. Another letter from the mother saying that the
girl had gone into rapid tuberculosis and was in the south of France, again
urged him to write her. This last appeal sent Mr. Saltus almost into a fit.

"For God's sake tell the truth and have it over with," he was urged again
and again. It seemed to be beyond him. What he had begun only as an
amusement, without a thought of harm, had developed into a monster waiting
to devour him.

When he finally answered the letter it was to say that he was in the
bankruptcy court, utterly penniless, and, in the circumstances, thought it
best to drop out of her life.

"Now," he said, "they will not think me worth following up."

After that the letters ceased and he heard nothing more, and it was several
years before the dénouement occurred.

On the heels of this episode came a crushing grief. Mrs. Francis Henry
Saltus, Mr. Saltus' mother, died, very suddenly. The shock stunned him. It
took him into a realm hitherto unknown--even unthought of, and it was long
before he could readjust himself to life.

Even in his grief his strong strain of indifference to values, custom or
common-sense kept to the fore. From the pot-pourri of his deep love for his
mother, lack of attachment to material things, united with oriental
atavism--he insisted that the body of his mother be buried with all her
large and valuable jewels upon it, as the Egyptians surrounded the Ka with
all the trappings and trifles of life.

There is no danger in giving out this fact. The exact spot where Mrs.
Saltus is buried (unmarked by a stone, for Mr. Saltus did not believe in
such things) is known only to myself and to the cemetery authorities. It is
some little distance from the cemetery in which the ashes of her son now
rest. Unfortunate it is, that one he loved so deeply could not have been
buried in the same plot.

From the shock of this death Mr. Saltus' health went to pieces, and the
following spring saw him off to Europe. I was abroad also that year, but in
another part of the continent, and it was months before we met again.

On this trip, however, Mr. Saltus made one of the few acquaintances
destined to last until the end of his life. Among those at the Captain's
table, and seated next to him, was a Miss G----. Young, beautiful, and
belonging to one of the best families from whom Ambassadors had been
chosen, nimble of tongue and optimistic of spirit, she did much to drag him
from the extreme depression into which he had been submerged by his
mother's passing.

Spiritual, unselfish, always thinking and doing for others, she represented
a type of woman never encountered by him before. She saw the best in him
and ignored the worst. To penetrate the depths of his depression, finding
an agnostic hard soil to saturate, she finally persuaded him to go and
consult a medium. With the open mind which Mr. Saltus always had, he agreed
to do so, and, upon his return to New York in the autumn, he sought out
and went to a Margaret Stewart, a woman celebrated in her day as a
remarkable psychic.

What she told him was rather upsetting to the firm philosophy of his life.
It suggested possibilities. Not only did he receive a curiously
characteristic message, purporting to come from his mother, but certain
things concerning his home life and his future were predicted. These
predictions included myself, and were to the effect that Mr. Saltus would
ultimately be enabled to marry me and have his happiest years late in life.
He lost no time in rushing up to my home with this news.

Assuming at first to "pooh-pooh" spiritualism as moonshine, his interest
nevertheless increased. On the lookout for frauds, yet hoping as well to
get something concrete to tie to, he went from medium to medium and from
séance to séance. Critical, curious and cautious, unwilling to accept the
phenomena presented, he was yet more unwilling to give up the quest.

After months of experimenting along these lines, his decision, based on
what he had both seen and heard, was that though the major part of it was
fraudulent,--and the identity of the entity giving the message open to
question,--there was proof, to his mind at least, of the persistence of
personality after death. That granted, a larger question presented itself.
Accepting life to be continuous, the bee did not cease to hum as he had so
long affirmed. On the contrary,--the belief in reincarnation became almost
a necessity. The pros and cons of this subject with all its ramifications
were thrashed out. Mr. Saltus hated arguments. He would agree with any one
on any subject rather than expend the energy to controvert them. On this
subject, however, he reversed himself.

Reminding him of what he had told me about Rome, we talked it over from
every angle. It intrigued his imagination more than any subject on earth.

It was at this time that Mrs. Saltus and himself, having lived separate
lives under one roof to little purpose, disagreed further. Mr. Saltus
wanted her to divorce him. Thinking perhaps that she had suffered
sufficiently at his hands and having had enough of matrimony, she had no
desire for the divorce or for further experiments. Besides, there was the
little girl--Elsie.

Loving her devotedly, although children in general bored and annoyed him
beyond expression, Mr. Saltus used to quote her childish prattle with
pride. A pussie cat became a 'puff-tat' because of her, and it was her tiny
hands which until then had held them together.

An incident aggravating the estrangement caused Mrs. Saltus to take the
little girl, and leave the apartment. Incidentally, she left his life
forever. Nothing can be said to put Mr. Saltus in the right in this affair.

That wrong was not deliberate, however. He would not have harmed a hair of
her head on purpose. It was the result of the one weak link in his
character. As a matter of fact Mrs. Saltus had been too indulgent and
forgiving. These qualities, charming in themselves, gave a temperament
such as his, an exaggerated latitude to develop the domineering and
irritable nature inherent in him.

The wonder is not that Mrs. Saltus left him. It is that she remained so
long. They never lived under the same roof again. Deciding that the moment
had come to press his desire for divorce, Mr. Saltus followed,--found her
and asked for it. His wife saw in it nothing desirable for her, and
refused. Possibly she did not need a new hat, or had not heard of the
Denver woman's method of getting it. She had agreed to his many wishes for
the last time.

Moving from the Florence, Mr. Saltus took what remained of the old Italian
olive-wood furniture, belonging to his early home in Seventeenth Street,
and his books, and took an apartment in the Park Madison, around the corner
from the Manhattan Club. This club had been a semi-home to him for
years,--a general headquarters both to write in and to receive letters, and
it offered quiet and good food as well.

Moving on short notice, his belongings were tossed into the apartment any
which way, to be put into order later,--a later which never arrived. With a
few books in book-cases and more piled in various corners of the
living-room, the latter semi-covered by draperies which were never put to
use again, and various pieces of clothing he did not need on top of this,
he started in to create a new atmosphere in which to work.

The apartment was small and his furniture was massive. The vital essential
was there however, for it faced the south and he had the sun all day.
Permitting the maids only to make up his bed,--forbidding them under the
most direful threats to attempt any cleaning or dusting of the place, lest
some valuable paper or manuscript be lost or mislaid, he managed 'By the
grace of God,' as he himself expressed it, to get on somehow.

Though only a step away from the Manhattan Club, few knew where he lived.
In later years, with the same desire to conceal his residence, lest some
one invade his privacy, he gave the Park Madison, 25 Madison Avenue, as his
address. The building had been torn down then, so he was safe in giving it,
and no one but those he chose to tell had the faintest idea where he lived.
Door-men and bell boys of the Park Madison were bribed and threatened as
before, never to let any one into his apartment or even to admit that he
lived there. No hermit could have enjoyed better seclusion.



CHAPTER VII


The material for "Historia Amoris" having been put into shape for use, Mr.
Saltus began to study along a new line. Puzzled and confused as to what he
really believed, he agreed to study the sacred books of the East. None were
omitted,--the Zend-Avesta, the Upanishads, the Vedas, the Mahabharata--with
its jewel the Bhagavad-Gitâ,--the Egyptian Book of the Dead,--the Talmud
and the Koran.

Between their leaves he found a new world. Thereafter he was forever
digging for jewels,--which when found dazzled him with their beauty. With
the enthusiasm Balboa may have felt at discovering an unknown ocean, Mr.
Saltus went up the heights to the Garden of God, steeping himself in the
perfume of occult and esoteric lore. Subconsciously, he had found food for
his soul.

Rushing uptown to my home he would explain as soon as admitted:

"I have unearthed a gem. Listen."

Then the ideas and ideals of beauty I had so often put before him were
handed back to me. Seeing them in print had made them real and impersonal.
The Gitâ, which hitherto he had but dimly and imperfectly understood, after
that epitomized the double-distilled wisdom of the world to him.

One phrase from the Egyptian Book of the Dead moved him profoundly and made
him think along a new line. It referred to the soul in the Court of Amenti,
pleading for admission to the heaven world. "I have not talked abundantly.
I have not been anxious. I have harmed no heart. No one have I made weep."
The last phrase cut.

"Pre-suppose," he would say, "that your dream of reincarnation is true. My
God! What a debt would confront me next life! I hope it is all a myth."

It was at this time that the effects of his careless letters to the English
girl came home with a shock. Rushing up to my house one evening, white and
shaken with emotion, he said that a young man had called to see him at the
Manhattan Club, just as he was finishing dinner. After introducing himself
as a brother of Dorothy S----, he told Mr. Saltus that the girl had, after
his last letter, gone into a decline and died. He himself was not only ill,
but in want, with a wife to take care of. After exhausting every effort to
get employment in the States, he had reluctantly turned to the man he
considered an enemy with a debt to pay.

Mr. Saltus was horrified. Put on the rack by me in no uncertain
fashion,--realizing at last that what had been play to him had been a
tragedy to another, he found that phrase from the Book of the Dead
repeating itself. Like an embodied thing it walked by his side during the
day and sat on his pillow at night, whispering in his ear during the hours
of darkness, "Behold me! I am your work."

Needless to say that the brother and wife were looked after not alone by
him, but by my family as well. Scourged by the episode Mr. Saltus suffered
keenly. I suggested to him after a time, more or less with a view to lift
his mind from depression, that I would assist him in selecting and
condensing notes on the vital points of the sacred books of the East. Mr.
Saltus decided that he could compress them into a single volume. "The Lords
of the Ghostland" was created in the world of thought. The actual writing
of it took a comparatively short time. The preparation and condensing of
the material spread over years.

Among Mr. Saltus' peculiarities was an almost prenatal fear of dogs. His
mother had been terrified at them, and his childhood had been spent not
only without pets of any kind, but filled with fear of them. As he grew
older he became rather fond of cats, but the dog complex remained. Cats
could be patted, petted and put down. Dogs on the contrary growled, and had
been known to bite,--it being somewhat uncertain whether they would do one
or the other--or both.

When taking his walks Mr. Saltus would go to the extreme edge of the
sidewalk to avoid a dog, if happening to be alone he had no one to
interpose between him and it. Argument on the subject was useless. There
was but one way of reaching him effectively. This was to ignore his fears
and act as though they did not exist.

Our house was never without pets, nor were they confined to any particular
spot. Drawing-room chairs were theirs or not as they fancied, and wagging
tails greeted the incoming guests. No exception was made of Mr. Saltus, and
no pet put aside to make place for a pampered human. When he came, he had
to take things as he found them, pets included.

When I was taking a dip into Eliphas Levi, the phrase "Libertines love
cats" jumped from the page. The ammunition was too good to be lost. Every
time his fear of dogs cropped out, this quotation was hurled at him like a
bomb. It did its work most effectively. Timidly and reluctantly at first,
Mr. Saltus began to make overtures. The dogs, with unerring instinct
scenting his concealed antagonism, refused to be friends. That hurt more
than a little, but it helped. The substratum of his early training began to
crumble as his interest in animals and occultism increased.

Taking a phrase from the Book of the Dead, Mr. Saltus decided on the
euphonious title "Lords of the Ghostland." The writing of that volume
marked his transition from materialism to the realization that there were
higher realms of thought as yet unexplored by him. The new book was
building up on the ruins.

At the time he began writing the book I went abroad.

Believing that upon his taking the initiative and seeking a divorce, Mrs.
Saltus would strike back and secure it herself, Mr. Saltus brought a suit
against her, asking at the same time for the custody of his little
daughter. This act being looked upon with disapproval by my family, and his
friendship as more dangerous than dynamite, the ocean was hailed as a
splendid moat between a skilled sheik and a young girl. It meant another
summer abroad for me.

Mr. Saltus was in a state of collapse and despair. He could neither work
nor sit still.

"The anchor of my life is being torn up," he exclaimed. "I cannot go on and
live."

During the time which had elapsed since the summer in Narragansett Pier he
had drifted away a great deal from his old friends. Barring Miss G----,
with whom he dined every Sunday and saw frequently, Bob Davis, who was too
busy to give him much time, and James Huneker were his only friends. The
influence of Miss G---- had done much to make Mr. Saltus' viewpoint on life
happier. She enjoyed the stimulus of his mind, and with unselfish kindness
she introduced him to those who could further his interests and made her
home a place where he could bring his mending and his difficulties. Her
atmosphere was one of peace, and he sorely needed it.

That atmosphere was lacking in my home. Tolerated only because he was
regarded as less dangerous within than without, he was offered neither
meals nor mending. From me he received not peace but the sword, and that
sharpened and thrust into vulnerable places. His copy was criticised, his
viewpoint scorned, and his personality put under a searchlight that left
him seared and shaken.

In spite of all this the diet must have been full of vitamines, for he was
loth to relinquish it. As he himself used to put it, "Many of the prisoners
released from the Bastile returned there of their own free will, so
wretched were they in a world to which they had become unaccustomed."

The fact that I was really going abroad staggered him. Imitating a cat I
had at the time, he walked about the drawing-room exclaiming, "Miaw! Wow!
Wow! Poor Snippsy goes crazy. Oh Wowsy wee! Wowsy wee!" To be wowsy was the
last word of sadness in the vernacular of cats.

His suit for divorce failed. Mrs. Saltus, obviously aware of his motives,
saw no reason to fall in with them, and the attempt was not calculated to
reflect credit on himself. The newspapers were none too kind. Any man who
tries to divorce his wife is unpopular. Neither fish nor fowl, married nor
free, his position was an ambiguous one, calculated to involve others in
possible complications. Friends were not backward in throwing the worst
light and the blackest possibilities upon the screen.

This was in 1903. In those old days children did not bring up their parents
in the way they do now,--taking the center of the floor and holding forth
on their right to go to the devil in the way which pleases them best. Young
girls were supposed to skim lightly over the friendship of quasi-married
men. Extraordinary as it may seem in these days, it was not considered
proper at all. That prejudice was shared by my family.

Coming to the house the evening before I sailed, so unnerved that he could
not speak for tears, Mr. Saltus put a sheet of paper in my hands. So
unusual was it that the original is reproduced on the next page. It
read:--

     25 Madison Avenue.

     In the event of my death I direct that Marie F. Giles
     shall have full possession in, and power over, my
     remains. I further direct that said remains be
     cremated, and the ashes given to the said Marie F.
     Giles.

                      (Signed) EDGAR SALTUS.

"There," he said, "I have written this in triplicate. One copy is in the
Trust Company, and one in the hands of my attorney. It is like death--like
dying rather, to have you where I cannot hear your voice. If I survive, it
will be because I am convinced that nothing but death can separate us. If I
die--swear that you will keep my ashes and have them buried with yours.
Husbands may come and go--but I am an eternal part of you."

[Illustration: Fac-simile of Document given to Marie Saltus]

The paper, combined with what he said, touched me profoundly. It seemed
such a hopeless muddle. Only the belief that sorrow and adversity are the
soil in which the soul grows, offered consolation, and at the time even
that seemed meager. No one reaches the Land of Promise save on feet weary
and blistered by scorching sand--for always it is surrounded by desert. In
that emptiness and silence the ego finds the strength, poise and power to
endure. We are all taken into the desert at one time or another. That alone
which matters is what we bring back.

The following day Mr. Saltus was among those who saw me off. That
leave-taking brought him to a realization of the verities and the
non-essentials, as nothing else could have done. Letters followed like
sea-gulls. They punctuated the days and haunted the nights.

    My darling child:--(Mr. Saltus wrote)

    It was so dear of you to have left for me a letter. To
    have left two. I could have kissed the postman. You are
    the sweetest child in the world. That is it, you see.
    You have made me love you so that I am helpless and
    hopeless without you. I am trying to be brave and work,
    but no Puff-tat and all work is like death.... I do so
    hope that you are happy though missing your Snipps a
    little. You won't forget me--Mowgy? It would do for me
    if you should. There have been days without
    number--nights without end--when I would give everything
    the world can offer for a touch of your blessed hand in
    mine and for the sound of your angel voice, my darling.

    God bless and keep you, little girl. Always I am waiting
    and working for you. It must not be in vain.

    All my love always. Your

                            EDGAR.

"Lords of the Ghostland" took on shape very slowly. Mr. Saltus seemed
unable to focus his mind on anything. Well he knew that the relatives with
whom I was stopping abroad had lined up a lot of eligibles,--many of whom I
already knew. They ranged from an Italian Prince, with a time-worn title
and a moth-eaten tumble-down palace, to an English millionaire of recent
vintage. They were a job lot, accumulated to offset and counteract his
influence. Anchored and handicapped by a wife and child and a reputation
none too immaculate, he saw his position with clarity, and he wrote:--

    My own darling:--

    There is no little Mowgy any more. No little Puff-tat to
    miaw and to say 'Quicksy' when you wanted anything. I
    say it now. For God's sake return quicksy or poor Snipps
    goes under. I do so hope you are happy, but don't drink
    champagne or dine alone with men. Remember that you are
    only a child,--my child, and should anything separate us
    it would be as if a bullet had been put through my head.
    Should anything happen to me you need blame yourself
    only for having made me love you so absolutely. Hell has
    no more horrors than those in which I am groping now. If
    I can only get the syndicate running properly and the
    divorce. I have said I will yield everything but
    alimony.

    Then, dearest, we can go to London and take the little
    house in Brook Street you told me of. I am ill,--too ill
    to work any more. Don't let anything or anybody come
    between us unless you want my death. Others can give
    you everything--everything but understanding. Trust the
    man to whom you are the center of the universe.

                          Eternamente,
                                  EDGAR.

Careful and painstaking in the writing of letters to editors and friends,
Mr. Saltus invariably wrote to me on a yellow copy pad and in pencil. In
twenty years the writing against the tinted background has become
indistinct, but, poor as it is, a fac-simile of one of his letters will be
given. The sheets on these pads were large, and as a rule his letters
covered ten or twelve of them. For the sake of brevity only the shortest
are quoted, and these not in full.

These letters which poured in several at a time on every steamer, rose as a
smoke between the eligibles and himself, as he expected them to do. He
seemed to need me so badly. Above and beyond every other sentiment he
inspired was the desire not only to protect him from the outside
world--that was simple--but to protect him against the greater danger:
himself and his weaknesses.

Disregarding the wishes and plans of those with whom I was stopping,
November saw me on the Celtic en route for New York.

The following spring found things in statu quo. "Lords of the Ghostland"
was no nearer completion and Mr. Saltus as far from free as before. Another
European trip was arranged for me. I was to sail on the Celtic early in
May. Once again Mr. Saltus was disconsolate, and as before the "wows" and
lamentations began. Toward the last however he appeared to accept it with a
great deal of philosophy. Among the crowd of "well wishers" at the boat
with arms full of fruit, flowers, pillows and sweets, was Mr. Saltus. He
had said good-bye the night before with surprising calmness. The lessons of
the Gitâ seemed to have been absorbed at last.

Before any of the others left the boat, he got up, made a gracious and
formal farewell and went away. That was as it should be. Family and friends
were delighted to see him go.

Half an hour later, as the boat was making its way down the bay, from
somewhere behind my deck-chair a faint but unmistakable 'miaw' pierced the
vibration of the propeller. I turned. Cap in one hand and steamer rug in
the other, there stood Mr. Saltus, smiling at my bewilderment.

"I am the cat who came back," he said laughing, "and I am going to sit at
your side and purr for a whole blissful week, and the future can take care
of itself."

Though it carried conflict and confusion into the party with me, one cannot
be ejected from a ship for effrontery. The weather was perfect, the water
like glass, and the sunshine uninterrupted. Mr. Saltus was so carefree and
happy that he romped and played like a child. He would attempt to hide and
then jump out from an unexpected place. He pretended to lose my books and
find them in queer corners. He played hide-and-seek and would run up the
companion-way like a boy, saying he was going to catch me by the ankles.

Upon reaching London however he found himself de trop again. From the home
of Lady C----, where I was stopping, to his hotel in Victoria Street one
could walk without fatigue. A taxi could make it in five minutes. With the
exception however of a few formal dinners Mr. Saltus was not urged to
consider himself at home there. On the contrary, he was given to understand
that his presence was a decided embarrassment and that free from his
influence I would probably annex one of the eligibles, who, outclassing
him, he was told, in name, money and position, were always pushed to the
fore.

All this he knew, but what was more important, he knew me, and the others
did not. Hunting up his old rooms in Margaret Street, Cavendish Square, he
re-engaged the suite he had occupied years before while writing "Mary
Magdalen." Announcing that he expected to remain all summer, he put in his
mornings at the British Museum studying cuneiform.

What Mr. Saltus did with his mornings did not concern Lady C---- in the
least. She was determined however that the balance of his time should be as
harmless. Months before we had planned to spend our summer in Germany that
year. In order that he should not conflict with these arrangements, a
fortnight later saw us all in Homburg. For reasons of finance Mr. Saltus
was unable to follow. He could write however, and he could send wires, and
he did both rather continuously. After one of the eligibles joined our
party he frequently wrote twice a day.

It was in Paris during the end of August, that he crossed our orbit again.
We were stopping at the Elysée Palace Hotel, and he at the St. James and
Albany. I had advised him of our plans in time.

However unwelcome he had been before, it was hospitality compared to the
hostility he encountered then, when members of the Diplomatic Corps, King's
Messengers and the younger sons of the nobility were welcomed. The absence
of money and the existence of a wife combined to put him in the category
of undesirable things. It was an unpleasant situation all around.

To thrash it out every day was too much of a fag. It was easier to say
nothing and do as one pleased, and Paris is wonderfully adapted to teas and
tête-à-'têtes.

The autumn found me in London with Lady C---- again, and Mr. Saltus in his
old rooms in Margaret Street once more. Sitting at the table where he had
written "Mary Magdalen" he tried to work as before, but the Muse had fled.

It was during this time that he first met Mr. G. F. Monkshood, who, under
the name of Hatchard, embellished Piccadilly with a fascinating and unique
bookshop. Monkshood it was who had brought out a small volume called "Wit
and Wisdom of Edgar Saltus." In it were compiled epigrams, phrases and
quotations from all of his earlier books. The subtle compliment pleased Mr.
Saltus very much. He had encountered so little appreciation. Mr. Monkshood
and himself were congenial souls. In the funereal shelter of the Blenheim
Club they drank and dined and devoured one another. Added to his other
accomplishments, Mr. Monkshood was a poet. Verses written to "The Lady of
the Opals" and signed by himself have smiled for years from a scrap-book of
mine.

The knowledge that he must return almost immediately to the States
stupefied Mr. Saltus. He was like a man who had been sand-bagged. He could
not speak of it without breaking down, and yet he had not the means to live
there in idleness. He used to refer to this time as his crucifixion. We
have to suffer terribly before we can learn how not to suffer at all. That
lesson from the Gitâ we could see the beauty of and the necessity for, but
we had not acquired it then. On the fly-leaf of "The Light of Asia" Mr.
Saltus had written, however, "The swiftest beast to bear you to perfection
is suffering."

The week before leaving was the hardest for him. He did not want to talk.
He could not, in fact. Riding on the tops of 'busses to the extreme limits
of London in all directions was his only diversion. Time and again we spent
a whole afternoon on one in silence.

In the middle of September Mr. Saltus left for the States. When he finally
got on the boat train for Southampton he was like a man starting for
Siberia for life. One thing alone comforted him. I agreed to leave Lady
C---- in a few weeks and take over his old rooms in Margaret Street. It
seemed to him that some emanations of his personality persisted there, and
he wanted to think of me in his old haunt.

Once more letters eight and ten pages long came on each steamer, and Mr.
Saltus hated to write letters. Sometimes there were cables of over a
hundred words. The hopelessness of it all was acute. From every angle it
was going around in circles and getting nowhere. One always returned to
where one left off. Disgrace--even destruction lurking on one side: on the
other, the necessity for cutting him out of my life like a cancer.

Upon his return he wrote:--

    My dear darling Mowgy:

    It is like death,--like dying, rather, to be here
    without you. I said it would be like prison, but it is
    worse. The sky is as blue as your own dear eyes. The
    weather is absolutely tropical. Were you here there
    would be pleasure in mere existence. But you are not
    here, my darling, and I seem to be able to be conscious
    only of that,--only that my little girl is far, far
    away. I have heart for nothing. Yesterday I passed the
    Astoria, and at the knowledge that there was no chance
    of seeing you there, tears came to my eyes. Never can I
    enter the place until you return, and now when will that
    be? I think you would agree to come very soon if you
    could realize what all this means to me. From the time I
    kissed you last up to this moment I have done nothing
    but plan for your return. From that time up to now, not
    for an instant have you been absent from my thoughts. It
    is not merely that I love you, dear; I cannot live
    without you. Do you remember you asked me what I
    should do and how I should act were I to lose you? I
    told you I did not know. But, dear, I know now. It is
    not wholly for that reason that I want you back. It is
    first because I am so anxious and worried about you;
    second because I can do better for you here. Without you
    it will be as though I were dying by inches. But with
    you here I can work and I can win. I rather thought that
    I should have a line from your mother, but there was
    nothing. My father, by the way, who is here at the
    Murray Hill Hotel, will not outlive the winter, or it
    may be another month or two. Then, dear, in all the
    world I shall have not a relative,--not a tie. There
    will be only you. You alone, dear, whom I love alone in
    all the world. Come to me on the Oceanic,--cable me that
    you will and then not even death shall part us,

                         Your EDGAR.

[Illustration: Fac-simile of Letter sent to Marie Saltus]

Letters like this poured in by every steamer. One did not know what to do
or how to act. His pathetic words swam before my eyes and interposed
between myself and the eligibles. In January Mr. Saltus fell ill--or said
he was ill. His letters and cables became incoherent. Then they ceased. A
note came to me from the physician who was attending him. In it he asked if
I could tell him if Mr. Saltus had any relatives or friends who could be
called upon. He painted a pathetic case. From his letter the delirium
tremens looked up and leered.

The letter had its effect. Mr. Saltus followed it up with a cable saying
that he expected to die. That was too much. Advising my family from
Liverpool of my intentions, and cabling him at the same time, I sailed.

Mr. Saltus met me at the pier. He was looking pale and thin, but in no
dying condition. It was the old story over again. There was no unpacking of
trunks for me however. I was off again to Mexico City in a few weeks and he
was alone as before, to continue going around in circles which ended where
they began.



CHAPTER VIII


There is nothing more delightful than travel, but roaming the world like a
Peer Gynt is not the same thing. Amusing at first, it finally gets on the
nerves,--and living in trunks for years is highly disorganizing. The
letters which followed me to Mexico City from Mr. Saltus said that his
father was going downhill rapidly.

Never close to his younger son in any sense, during his last days, however,
Francis Saltus turned to him more and more, relied on him and was comforted
by his presence. While Mr. Saltus' letters threw out hints of coming to
Mexico, where he hoped the New York Journal would find some work for him to
do,--his father's unwillingness to have such a distance between them, and
the real necessity for his presence within telephone distance, put an end
to that. Letters of introduction were sent by him, however, to his old
friend Eli Goddard, who was then living in Cordova, and to his
brother-in-law, Prince Poniatowski. Their visits to the home of my cousins
were duly recorded and sent to him, but they failed to keep him in a
cheerful mood.

However, the home,--the understanding, and the unselfish interest of Miss
G---- did much to keep him from moods and melancholy. No woman Mr. Saltus
knew up to that time was a more uplifting influence than she. Calm,
dependable, her feet well on the earth, her emanations were sweet and
soothing. The occasions on which Mr. Saltus saw his young daughter were
holidays to him. To take her to the Plaza Hotel for tea and a chat was
enough to brighten an entire week for him.

Of Bob Davis, Mr. Saltus saw quite a bit during this time. He is one of the
few men whom Mr. Saltus really loved.

"Bob," he used to say, "is unique. There is no one like him. He stimulates
me like champagne."

Many were the lunches and dinners they had together. Mr. Davis was
particularly fond of apple pancakes. Whenever he came to the Manhattan Club
they were ordered for his especial benefit, and Mr. Saltus used to address
him when writing to him as "Your Highness, The Duke of Apple-Pancake." He
was lunching with Bob Davis when one of his peculiarities crept out. A
number of letters and telegrams were brought to him. Never by any chance
did Mr. Saltus open letters unless from the postmark or the handwriting he
could be sure from whom they had been sent. That was not all,--he had to be
equally convinced that they contained no unpleasant news. Letters in
unknown handwriting were consigned unopened to the trash basket. If he
happened to be in his rooms when sorting them, and one or more were in the
doubtful class, they were tossed into a bureau drawer to be considered
later. In this way he lost not only cheques but many interesting
communications. People who wrote to him must have gone on wondering why no
reply was ever forthcoming. They will know now.

Letters from editors were unmistakable. They could be identified from their
envelopes. My writing, and that of his closest friends, he could take in at
a glance. Why take chances on the rest? What he did not know could not
worry him. There was serenity in an unopened letter. Any unpleasantness in
a note, however slight it might be, upset him to such an extent that he
could not concentrate his mind or write a line of copy that day.

On the occasion of this luncheon with Bob Davis, Mr. Saltus took in his
letters at a glance,--decided that there was nothing he cared to take a
chance on, and picking them up unopened he tore the lot into fragments. In
telling of it he said:--

"Bob always thought I was a bit queer. Now he must be certain that I am
quite mad."

This habit, instead of decreasing, grew with the years. He had a horror of
opening letters of any kind for some time before he died,--the courage of
youth having left him. After his death, his daughter and I spent two
afternoons going through one of his old trunks and some bureau drawers.
Hundreds of unopened letters, many with special delivery stamps on them,
were opened, read and destroyed by us. Several of them contained cheques
years old. It was incredible to his daughter that any one could have kept
them unopened during so many years. It was a fancy to which I had become
accustomed. He had not kept them because he was interested in them. He had
been too much occupied and too indifferent to destroy them.

Spring came, and the summer followed. Quoting from a letter of his, Mr.
Saltus wrote:

     "There is green on the trees and the joy of springtime,
     but there is nothing in my heart but despair. When is
     this nightmare to end? When you were in Margaret Street
     I could picture you. I was a part of it all. Now it is
     chaos. Letters from Mexico City, from Orizaba and
     Cuernavaca, and the devil knows where, tell me that
     you are surrounded by beauty,--the beauty of living
     things. Colour you say is the consciousness of nature.
     Only the consciousness of desolation and despair is
     mine."

     The rainy season is the time to leave Mexico. Joining a
     party, among whom was a friend of Eli Goddard's, a very
     charming Spaniard, and still moving on like the
     Wandering Jew, I went north through Los Angeles and
     Santa Barbara to San Francisco. Spaniards are very
     gallant. In writing of this one I perhaps emphasized
     him overmuch. Telegrams of worry and warning followed.
     A fortnight after I reached the St. Francis Hotel a
     wire from Mr. Saltus read:--"My father died yesterday.
     Leaving for San Francisco next week. Eternamente.

                                           SNIPPSY."

A small inheritance from his father making finances less of a
pre-occupation, Mr. Saltus was free to go and come as he pleased. It was in
June when he appeared at the St. Francis Hotel. Even there the shadow
followed. He was not welcomed by our little party. With an indifference
and high-handedness almost amusing, Mr. Saltus turned not only the tables
but the chairs upon them. He treated them like dirt, refusing to dine and
finally even to speak to them. Between the lot I was like the Biblical baby
with two mothers, minus a Solomon in the background.

An amusing and characteristic episode happened when he had been there but a
short time. There was--and I believe is--a funny little restaurant in San
Francisco called Coppa's. It looked like a spoonful of old England dropped
there by mistake. Quaint mottoes, sketches and epigrams--the souvenirs of
artistic and satisfied souls--decorated the walls. The Cheshire Cheese is
something of a first cousin by comparison. Here, Jack London, Anna
Strunsky, now Mrs. William English Walling, and other celebrities used to
dine and linger. In that city of bohemian cafés this little place stood
alone.

Mr. Saltus hated restaurants. For some reason, the nearness of so many
people perhaps, they got on his nerves. In any event, restaurants put him
on edge to such an extent that he invariably quarrelled not only with the
waiters, but with those who were with him, if they objected to his manner
of carrying on. For this reason, it was something of a penance to go into a
restaurant with him. To include him in a party going to Coppa's, one had
first to proceed as follows:--

"If you go, will you be a good Snipps and not fight with the waiters?"

"I'll be a good Snipps. I'll take what you tell me and be thankful."

"Will you wear your muzzle and not jerk at the lead?"

"I'm old dog Tray--ever faithful."

"Old dog traitor--ever faithless you mean. I know your tricks, but come
along then."

He came. Coppa's was almost full, but by some turn of the tables we found
ourselves seated in the center of the room. That was enough to start Mr.
Saltus off. Restaurants were bad enough at best, even in a secluded
corner. In the middle of a room of closely packed tables--? He began as
usual.

"It's far too crowded. Mr. Me doesn't want to stay. Let's leave the others
and go somewhere else."

The muzzle as well as the menu was ignored and forgotten. When Mr. Saltus
began to growl it was preliminary only, but I knew the signs--knew, too,
what might be expected to follow.

As he ceased speaking a sudden cramp took possession of my right foot, and
my exclamation of surprise distracted his attention for the moment. It was
my turn to growl. A low shoe was kicked off during the growling and the
meal began. All at once a sympathetic cramp in the other foot compelled his
attention to be directed to me again while the remaining shoe was removed.
It may be mentioned in excuse that it was the fashion to wear ridiculously
high and narrow shoes at the time.

We had gone as far as the soup, which Mr. Saltus was sipping mechanically.
As the meal progressed my difficulties did also. Try as I might, the
offending shoes could not be forced on my feet again. Then the fun began.
Distracted by it all, Mr. Saltus accepted chicken and salad unmurmuringly,
in forgetfulness of his surroundings.

"You will have to sit here until every one goes or some one can fetch you a
larger pair of ties." This remark was from one of our conservative friends,
and it met with the approval of the others. Mr. Saltus was becoming restive
again by this time.

"Not at all," I answered. "It's unfortunate to be sure, but get up and go I
shall in my stocking feet. There is no law making shoes obligatory,--and
besides, the people in this place are bohemians."

"All the more reason not to imitate them," was the reply.

That was enough to make the crowded little restaurant a most enchanting
place to Mr. Saltus. Tables and people became non-existent to him. I was
going to defy the lot, and that delighted him to such an extent that good
humour covered him like a garment. He even smiled at the waiters. Any show
of independence on my part, provided it did not conflict with him, was a
treat. Half rising in his seat he exclaimed:--

"Right you are, Mowgy. What the devil do you care for a pack of
nincompoops?"

The anguish of the others in the party at being seen leaving a restaurant
with a shoeless girl amused and delighted him. It could have been done
quietly and unnoticed but for his love of a joke. Our friends were
sufficiently horrified as it was, but for the dénouement they were quite
unprepared. Realizing their discomfiture and revelling in it, Mr. Saltus
made a dive under the table. That was not uncommon, for, knowing my habit
of letting gloves, handkerchiefs and pocket-books fall from my lap
unnoticed, he had trained himself to look. That was the old dog Tray, as he
called himself. When he reappeared upon this occasion it was with the
offending shoes held before him as a votive offering, and leading the
procession he carried them through the restaurant into the street. Queer
people with odd fancies were no novelty at Coppa's. This however was an
innovation. Some one started clapping, and with one accord the roomful of
people took it up. I was laughing, but our friends were scarlet with rage.
We hailed a passing taxi.

"What the devil do you care what people think?" Mr. Saltus exclaimed.
"Sheep and swine follow, but you cannot make either of Mowgy,--thank God."

After that pleasurable and ingratiating episode he was not tormented by
invitations from my friends. It was too bad that Anna Strunsky was not in
the restaurant that evening, for she would have been amused. We had the
pleasure of meeting her not long after this and were enchanted with her
cleverness and charm.

Mr. Saltus' interest in spiritualism had flagged. Hearing that Miller, the
materializing medium, was holding séances in San Francisco, he determined
to go. This we did. Bold in a restaurant, or when he was crushed in a
crowd, where a blow from him frequently prefaced a word, he was a child
when encountering phenomena of this kind. Sitting silent and almost sullen
in a corner, he shrank within himself,--keen to see, hear and investigate,
yet frightened as a baby in the dark. Miller seemed to affect him more than
others had done.

"I'm frightened," he said. "If a spook should come and ask for me,--you
answer it."

With clenched and clammy hands he sat and shivered, and when a form
purporting to be that of his mother appeared and gave the name of Eliza
Saltus, he whispered to me:--

"Speak."

"Speak yourself," I said. "I refuse to play the part of a phonograph all
the time. It is for you, not me, that the spirit is here."

The shimmering form came closer. It almost brushed Mr. Saltus' knee. He
shut his eyes and reiterated imploringly:--

"Speak, Mowgy! For God's sake speak to it!"

The shadowy form had held together as long perhaps as it could. The
ectoplasm may have given out or his condition of mind influenced it. In any
event the form flickered. With his eyes still closed Mr. Saltus clutched me
by the arm:--

"Has it gone?" he whispered.

As he spoke the form flickered again and went out. It was a long time
before he wanted to go to a séance again.

During his stay in San Francisco he was guest of honour at the Bohemian
Club, and he met there many interesting people. A brief visit to
Carmel-by-the-Sea brought his Californian trip to a close. The State
interested him. He liked the quiet,--the almost perpetual sunshine, and
above all, the absence of convention and the freedom enjoyed by everyone.
It was with regret that he left the sunshine and the silence to chafe under
the vibrations and noise of New York.

Once again pathetic letters raced across the continent. He had no home and
no anchor. Mrs. Saltus and his daughter were living permanently abroad. His
hours with the latter had been his oases in a desert of loneliness. Now,
barring Miss G----, Dr. Kelley and occasionally Bob Davis, he had almost no
friends. Upon reaching New York he finished a series of articles on Russia,
for Munsey's Magazine which later formed the basis of his "Imperial Orgy."

In the late autumn the failing health of my father recalled me to New York.
Mr. Saltus was finishing the last chapter of "Lords of the Ghostland." No
other book he ever wrote was strung out over so long a time, or took so
many hours of research. He brought the manuscript to my home, returning the
next day for the praise and patting on the back he felt that he deserved.

"What do you think of it?" he asked. The small boy always appeared at such
moments.

"The King of France and twice ten thousand men,--rode up a hill and then
went down again," was the reply.

"What do you mean? Is there no climax?"

"Just that. You take the reader from protoplasm to paradise,--you lead him
through labyrinths, mazes and mysteries, and leave him just where you
started. If you cannot give the reader a ladder give him a straw,--but give
him something."

We are all tenacious with the children of our brain, Edgar Saltus
especially so, but in this instance he took the criticism willingly. That
last chapter he re-wrote four times, amplifying the idea of the continuity
of life and the possibility of reincarnation, which he referred to as the
"supreme Alhambra of dream." What he offered then was not his belief, but a
theory and a suggestion. The last chapter curiously enough was the part of
the book receiving the highest praise from the critics, who with one accord
said that he had struck a new and exalted note. A few years later he was
wringing his hands because he could not re-write "Lords of the Ghostland"
in the light of what he then knew. Over and over again he lamented this
fact.

"If I had not been so pig-headed,--so dense. Having the chance to turn out
a masterpiece,--a thing that would have lived,--I passed it by. I saw only
in a restricted circle, when had I but looked up, a limitless horizon of
wonder and wisdom stretched before me."



CHAPTER IX


In the spring of 1907, the death of my father left me a nervous and
physical wreck. Though never close friends, and knowing quite well of his
disapproval, Mr. Saltus admired his splendid intellect and broad vision.

There are those who make tragedies out of trifles, and others to whom most
events however important mean nothing at all. To the latter, when touched
by an overwhelming grief, the world and everything in it become as shadows
on glass.

Because of his sensitiveness and his super-susceptibility to suffering, Mr.
Saltus was sympathetic to a degree. He had begun to see the beauty of
service, and during that time he devoted himself to my family in every way
that he knew how.

The autumn found me in California again, a nervous wreck, and so ill with
acute gastritis, that death seemed but hiding around the corner. With an
elderly friend of the family I always addressed as Aunt, and whose
interests made it necessary for her to live in California for a time, we
went from place to place, settling for the winter in a bungalow at Coronado
Beach. If one must die, why not peacefully and pleasantly in the sunshine?

November brought Mr. Saltus to the Coronado Hotel. He had been mapping out
a plot for "Daughters of the Rich." San Diego and Coronado enchanted him.

"My _next novel_ shall open here," he exclaimed.

So it did. The opening chapter of "The Monster" introduces the reader to
the Hotel del Coronado and the bay.

The bungalow occupied by us was none too large for two women and a maid. It
had however a large attic room. Mr. Saltus gave it one look, and, in his
own words, "miawed at the door and begged." It looked the background for a
scribbler, with odd nooks and corners to hide manuscripts and curious old
tables to write on. Once seen, nothing would do but he must have it. He
declared that a djinn who lived there specialized in helping old scoundrels
to scribble. I added that a horrible hourla lived there as well and that he
made a practice of changing men into horned toads. (Horned toads are
plentiful in Coronado.)

All this made him very insistent. California had always appealed to Mr.
Saltus. It offered a _special inducement_ then, for under the laws of the
State a divorce could be secured for abandonment. He thought that a man not
worth changing for a hat was not worth keeping at all, and after a year's
residence he could take the initiative in the matter,--hat or no hat. An
attorney was consulted and retained. California was to be his home for a
year at least.

In the circumstances Mr. Saltus was very anxious to settle down. He had
wandered so much, and he was tired of it. A few trunks in an apartment
hotel cannot be called a home. His popularity as a novelist had waned.
Public opinion was against him, not only because of the publicity
incidental to so many divorce suits, but because there had grown up and
around him the belief that he was a free-thinker and lover, irritable and
erratic,--a man who had few friends and a multitude of enemies.

However little he let all this affect him on the surface, Mr. Saltus was
too acutely sensitive not to feel it, and it cut deep. Like a wounded
animal seeking shelter, his one desire was to get as far away as he could
from a world which, knowing but little of his real self, criticised and
condemned him. To come in contact only with the things of nature and of
beauty,--to live in the sunshine far from the haunts of men and the sordid
struggle of a great city, was to him the ideal.

In view of all this, and after much cajoling on his part, and his constant
reiteration that for three females,--one old, one ill and one
negligible,--a handy man about the house was a necessity, he was accepted.
The prospect of Mr. Saltus being handy with anything but a pen or a knife
and fork was remote. None the less, the attic shortly became his habitat,
the djinn and the hourla his familiar spirits, and the plot of "The
Monster" began fermenting in his mind.

It was a new world to the man accustomed for years to the limelight of
publicity, and the diversions of a metropolis, to live for months on a
narrow strip of sand, ministering to the wants of an elderly widow and an
invalid, who at best could walk only a short three minutes to the sands at
the ocean front, and spent most of her time resting in a hammock.

It must be said of him however that he came to the scratch with flying
colours. Unaccustomed as he had been in his youth to look upon anything
other than "Will it please me or will it not?" he began to put in practice
one of life's most difficult lessons,--unselfishness. In his desire to
serve another and quite unconscious of the result, he began to build up
some of the qualities in which he had been deficient so long. Having
constituted himself a handy man and old dog Tray, in a place where servants
are scarce as rubies, he kept burning and replenished the fire in the
living-room. He also, in spite of the hours spent in using his eyes to
write, would read aloud to the invalid whenever he was requested.

Strangely enough he was extremely happy in doing these things. Although the
Hotel del Coronado was only a five minutes' walk from the bungalow it
offered no attraction to him. Barring a daily dip in the ocean and the
occasional necessity for going over to San Diego, he could not be persuaded
to leave the grounds.

Winter wore away, and with the approach of spring the invalid emerged from
the shadow of death; and old dog Tray remained at his post. Among Mr.
Saltus' most marked characteristics were two fears,--that of losing his
luggage and getting some contagious disease. In neither case could any
amount of reasoning touch him. The luggage complex put him to no end of
inconvenience at times. When trunks could not be taken in a taxi, he
frequently insisted upon driving with the express-man to the railway
station. Then fear put out tentacles. Would the luggage be put on the
train? If it was, would it be carried past its destination? Every railroad
journey found him wandering like an earthbound spirit between his seat and
the luggage van. It was a form of obsession. Many a time he would greet me
in the morning with the announcement:--

"I had a terrible nightmare last night. What do you suppose it was?"

"That you had lost your trunks," was the first and usually the correct
reply.

"Yes, I had lost them. They dematerialized and I was wandering through the
train and express vans till I went mad. Then I awoke. It was awful."

Toward the end of his life, when Theosophy had done its work for him, and
he realized that all possessions are anchors and encumbrances, this fear
became modified,--but he never quite overcame it. It was the same with
disease, or rather contagion. Having a horror of all forms of illness, he
had the subconscious idea that if there was anything to be caught he would
be in for it.

When in his last days he was so desperately ill with gastritis, he looked
upon it as karma striking him in the face for shrinking as he had from
others. Myself excepted, he rushed from people who were ill as from an
earthquake.

This particular spring an epidemic of bubonic plague broke out in San
Francisco. It was supposed to have been carried there by rats from China.
As cats eat rats they also came under the ban of suspicion. The newspapers
dripped with it. Mr. Saltus read them with horror. Ships from San Francisco
might dock at San Diego. He had more nightmares. Behind him as he sought
his lost luggage an army of rodents followed. There was no talking him out
of it. The plague with all its attendant complications was hovering above
us.

Coronado has a large winter colony as well as permanent residents,--eastern
people who come in for the season and take houses. Their departure often
means a number of homeless and discarded cats. Mr. Saltus was shocked by
the cruelty of this. One of the vagrants with particularly long whiskers
and a piteous miaw I had nicknamed "Jean Valjean." Where he slept was his
own secret, but where he ate was usually out of my hand. When not referring
to him by his name, Mr. Saltus called him "the table boarder," and he
concerned himself not a little over Jean's well being.

Rumours of the bubonic plague changed that in an instant, and Jean became
overnight the dangerous carrier of the most deadly germs, unfit for the
society of humans and to be driven from the door. It was too ridiculous for
argument. To have yielded an inch to Mr. Saltus in such a thing would have
forfeited my mental ascendency forever, an exceedingly bad thing for him in
every way. Had he been yielded to less during his formative years it would
have been a blessing both to himself and to others, and would have made
possible a little yielding to him in later life. As it was, it was
hazardous to give in, even if he had a certain amount of right on his side.
When he had none, it was suicidal.

Laughing at his fears, ridiculing the idea of poor Jean carrying the
plague, and assuring him that demons and devils were particularly immune, I
refused to accept his hallucination about the cat. He was told to attend to
his work and his writing, and not interfere with the running of the house.

Diplomacy was one of Mr. Saltus' strong points. He appeared to agree with
me. Coming around the corner of the piazza the following afternoon however,
when supposed to be on the sands, I was in time to see him with the hose in
his hand, the nozzle turned so as to send a straight and powerful stream of
water. This he was playing on Jean, who, terrified at such unlooked-for
hostility in place of his usual plate of food, let out piteous howls and
fled up a eucalyptus tree.

Hell has no fury like a woman defied. Dropping the hose when he saw me Mr.
Saltus turned,--but he had no chance to escape or explain. Seizing the
nozzle I let him have it full in the face, and as he ran I followed,
soaking him through and through till he got out of range. It was a tense
moment. Swearing and raging, he shook himself and fled to his attic room.
When he emerged, an hour later, it was with suitcases in his hand.

"After treatment like this I am going to the Hotel del Coronado, and I will
send for my trunks. Never in my life have I been subjected to such an
indignity. Here I am,--growing grey in your service and less than a stray
cat in your eyes."

"Good-bye and good luck," I answered. "If having led two unfortunate women
a devil's dance hasn't taught you anything you are hopeless. Had one of
them played a hose on you ages ago, I would not have been obliged to now.
Don't come back for your trunks. I will send them."

That took him off his feet entirely. He had in mind a scene in which, after
repentance and apologies on my part, he would graciously consent to forgive
me. Incidentally it would mean the banishment of Jean. Dismissed in that
way, there was nothing for him to do but go. With a suitcase in either hand
he started for the hotel. Years later he told me that he had put his
suitcases on the sand, and sitting down on one of them, had taken stock of
himself. For the good part of two hours he sat there, till the sun dropping
behind Point Loma, and the chill which followed, reminded him of the
passing of time. A man can do a great deal of thinking in two hours.

Meanwhile, from the tiptop of the highest of trees poor Jean sent out
frantic appeals for help and rescue. However easy it is for cats to climb
trees, getting down is different. They have been known to starve to death
in one. When dishes of dainties and fish failed to dislodge him more than
a limb or two lower, we realized that it was impossible for him to get
down, and the maid announced that the sun was setting and the rapidly
vanishing twilight called for speed. The highest kind of an extension
ladder was borrowed and opened to its utmost capacity. It barely reached
the limb below the one to which the frightened cat clung. The slender
ladder, swaying somewhat more than was comfortable as one ascended, the
tall tree and the dark combined, were not tempting. Several small boys
started up very bravely but came down less so. Not one of them got half-way
to the top, although I kept raising the price for valour till it reached
five dollars, and the terrified Jean increased his appeals for help. There
seemed to be no alternative. Putting on my riding breeches I was starting
up the ladder when a voice as pitiful as Jean's cracked the silence.

"My God, Mowgy, come off that ladder!"

Mr. Saltus pushed me aside and started up. He had never been on a ladder
before. With his teeth set and three women doing their best to steady it,
he finally got to the top, and by stretching his arm to the utmost caught
Jean by the tail, and dropped him--not, as he intended, into my arms, but
on the top of my head.

The episode was closed. The cat was saved, and by the following morning the
bubonic scare _transformed_ itself into a comedy. Descending from the djinn
and the hourla of the attic, Mr. Saltus greeted me with the following
limerick:--

    On the sands where a blonde girl was stopping
    To the rescue of Jean she came hopping,
      Waved the hose in the air--
      And said "I don't care,
    If I do get my Snippsikins sopping."

"There," he said, "is an example of an anapæst. If a sprinkling can produce
this, next time I will turn out an entire poem. There's nothing like water,
and plenty of it, to make genius grow. Give Jean a saucer of cream. No
skimmed milk for this." Mr. Saltus laughed and resumed, "You are the first
feminine thing to face me and put me to rout--My hat's off to you."

I laughed at this, it seemed so ridiculous.

"Let me tell you a story," he went on. "There was before your day a
prize-fighter,--a powerful fellow,--six feet of brawn. He could knock
anyone into a cocked hat in the first round. Even his friends were rather
afraid of him. One day a delegation of them went to his house to suggest a
new fight. His wife was opposed to this. She wanted him to accompany her on
a vacation. It was she who met the friends at the door, and told them
definitely that her husband was going to take a rest and would not consider
their offers. They turned away, but one of the party,--a Peeping Tom sort
of a chap, crept back, and looked in through a crack in the shutters. What
he saw was a revelation. The prize-fighter was emerging from under the bed.
The frail scrap of a wife was standing in the center of the room, with one
slender finger upraised. Shaking this she said, 'Stay where you are till
they are a safe distance off. I'll kill you if you come out before.'"

This story, whether he made it up or not, amused Mr. Saltus enormously, and
when thereafter, entering into the spirit of it, I would put up a finger,
it never failed to make him laugh like a boy. The playfulness which had
been inhibited so long had full fling now, and he adored to have me pretend
I was going to chastise him for something, declaring, as he afterward put
in his copy, "When a woman ceases to quarrel with a man she ceases to love
him." With his almost uncanny intuition he got the motive underlying every
act.

It was during this spring that the framework on which Mr. Saltus afterward
built "The Gardens of Aphrodite" grew. Much of it was written when sitting
in the rose garden under a palm tree, the offending Jean purring at his
feet. Notes on which he constructed "Oscar Wilde,--An Idler's Impression,"
were gathered together as well, and reminiscences used in "Parnassians
Personally Encountered" were jotted down and put into shape to use.

There was something soothing and yet stimulating in the song of the surf on
the sands, reaching him as it did through the branches of acacia trees. In
"the enchanted garden," as he called the small green handkerchief-like
patch of grass, Mr. Saltus evolved, co-ordinated and put in shape the
material from which he drew largely ever after.

A few weeks later he was en route for New York, to break up such home as he
had there and return to the coast with his things, having decided to make
California his home indefinitely. A ranch in the middle part of the State
welcomed me. It was a heavenly spot,--no neighbors within miles, and plenty
of animals and flowers for company.

From that ranch came two little creatures,--one particularly, destined to
have a larger place and a greater influence in Mr. Saltus' life than most
of the humans he encountered. Taken from their respective mothers at an
age when their eyes were just open, so young that they had to learn to lap
by nibbling my fingers dipped in milk, Fifi the kitten and Toto the
shepherd dog puppy were annexed from a neighbor, and given to one ready to
shield them with her life.

In the late summer these little ones with Auntie and myself were settled
again. This time it was in a large house in Los Angeles with a delightful
garden, situated in what was then the extreme upper limit of the city.
Beyond it were vacant fields. Hollywood was in the distance. It was taken
with a view to giving Mr. Saltus a bed-room with study adjoining in a wing
of the house, off by itself, and shortly after we moved in, he joined us.

Mr. Saltus was not an easy, if an interesting man to keep house with.
Ringing of the telephone sent him almost into hysterics. Trades people and
servants talking under his windows incited him to murder.

The sound of a vacuum cleaner was the last straw. Waving his arms like a
dervish he would appear in working attire,--hair on end, light blue flannel
shirt open at the neck, and make what I called a few "cursery remarks."
Late in the afternoon only, when he left the house for his walk--he did not
care what transpired during his absence--could the maid get in to make up
his rooms. Even then he accepted it because he was compelled to submit. His
study was as closely guarded as a Bluebeard's den. No one entered it--and
no one wanted to, for cigar butts and ashes were the rose-leaves scenting
his sanctum.

When working on a novel Mr. Saltus was living in another world. He knew
where his things were, but no other, unless possessed of second sight,
could have hazarded a guess. Under cigar butts, half burned cigarettes,
piles of manuscripts, note-books and pencils, which were scattered all over
the floor, anything might be hidden, and often was. Until he had finished a
novel or other prolonged work, any attempt at clearing up would have been
fatal, not only to himself but to the sanity of the one who did the
cleaning. With the knowledge that most literary men were "litterers" the
room was divested of anything which could be injured before it was turned
over to him.

Unfitted for housekeeping both by temperament and inclination, and having
none of the responsibility of it, I could look on and laugh. In later years
the laugh was not quite as spontaneous.

In spite of the extreme untidiness of his study, Mr. Saltus was
scrupulously particular about his person, changing his linen several times
a day after a tub and a shower. In fussing over his linen he was almost as
fearful as over losing his luggage or getting a disease. Whenever the
laundryman was late in arriving he was sure that it was lost forever. His
worry was not so much over replacing the things, as over the fact that to
do so he must go into a shop. Linen and luggage fears arose from the same
cause.

The laundry terror persisted also until the end of his life. All these
peculiarities must have been trying to normal women. He recognized it
himself fully, and used to say:--

"I'm a panicky pup, and I know it; and only a pampered puss could put up
with me. If she should turn me out I'd go 'round and 'round in circles like
a mad dog till some one took me to the pound and dropped me in the lethal
chamber."



CHAPTER X


Deprived of pets as he had been during his childhood, Mr. Saltus responded
to his new playmates in a surprising way, taking over their education, as
he called it, from the first. Fifi was taken into the inner recesses of his
study to serve as a paperweight. Rigging up a tight-rope in the garden, he
taught her to walk on it, to stand on her hind legs, play ball and jump
through a hoop.

When his eyes became tired with writing he amused himself hour after hour
playing with his new toys. With his fancy for alliterations Fifi became
"Pasy's pride and pleasure Puss." In the album of snapshots are many of
"E---- and his angels," as I called them.

Then a sad thing happened. From eating some poisoned meat put out for
gophers by a neighbor, both little creatures became violently ill, and in
spite of the best doctors and care, Fifi died. I did not mourn alone. Mr.
Saltus wept like a baby and could not write a word for days. Until the end
of his life he kept referring to her, imitating the inflection of her miaws
when deprived of sardines, of which she was inordinately fond.

After this the puppy came in for all the attention. During her recovery
from the poison she was brought up to sleep on the foot of my bed,--a habit
she saw fit never to change, for she slept there for the rest of her life.

With a patience little expected from him, Mr. Saltus taught her to run a
yard or two in front of him so that he could watch her, and taught her to
walk on her hind legs and various other accomplishments. With the training
and understanding of her, the fear of dogs left him. He began to pat
strange animals on their heads and take an interest in work in their
behalf. The puppy, Toto, went with him for walks as soon as she was able to
toddle on before him, but she usually returned in his arms.

The reason for entering so fully into his habits and association with this
little being is because, like a thread of pure gold, she was woven into the
fabric of his existence from the first, becoming at the last one of the
most vital considerations of his life.

During a brief stay in Pasadena the year before, I had made the
acquaintance of a Mr. and Mrs. Colville. The former was an exceptional
character, combining the enthusiasm of a scholar and the erudition of a
sage. He was a critic, a philosopher and a Theosophist. His wife was, and
is, one of the noblest and most selfless beings on earth.

This acquaintance was passed on to Mr. Saltus. From the moment he saw them
they exercised a profound influence on his life. Inclined as he was to take
the tempo of his likes and dislikes from me, his immediate admiration for
these two was exceptional. The occultism to which he had hitherto listened
with rather indifferent ears took on new interest. He bought "The Ancient
Wisdom," by Annie Besant, the "Secret Doctrine," and a number of other
Theosophical books. What was more, he studied them.

The little bungalow of the Colvilles in Pasadena became a kind of magnetic
pole. To discuss higher metaphysics and occultism with the husband, and
observe its practical application by his wife, constituted a treat. Mrs.
Colville could tear Mr. Saltus to pieces. She could put her finger on the
weak links in his character, suggesting methods by which they might be
strengthened with unerring intuition. He not only accepted it with the
simplicity of a child, but he thanked her for it. Never in his life had he
met a woman of her kind before, and he loved her for her selflessness and
the poise she radiated. His confidence and trust in her were such that on
the day preceding his death he urged me to write to her and ask her to take
him into her meditations. With all that may be said against Mr. Saltus by
his critics, the fact of his not only recognizing, but immediately
responding to spiritual greatness justified the confidence put in him by
myself when a child. It proved beyond question, that with a different early
environment and training, he would have developed the splendid qualities
latent until the end of his life.

Work upon "The Monster" was under way at this time, and over his books Mr.
Saltus was very much like a mother with her child. He might suggest that a
novel of his own was full of flaws,--but woe to the outsider who ventured
to criticise so much as a comma in its construction. It gave him perhaps
the shock of his literary life, when, after a discussion, Mrs. Colville
said to him:--

"You are a brilliant man,--an artist and a stylist. You are a poet, an
historian and an essayist; but a novelist--never. Your psychology of humans
is oblique, your plots improbable when not impossible, and your characters
ink."

In moments of wrath I had flung the same words in his face and been told,
"Ignorance, when it speaks, speaks loudly."

Instead of the explosion I expected, it took Mr. Saltus off his feet. He
sat down. His affection and admiration for the Colvilles could not be
called in question after that, and he began at once to take stock of
himself seriously.

The lease of the house we were occupying having expired, another one on
Grand View Street off Westlake Park was taken. The beauty of this little
park, and the pleasure of sitting out under the palm trees, book in hand,
Toto lying at his feet, soothed and relaxed Mr. Saltus amazingly. The idea
of rewriting "The Monster" and weaving Theosophy into it suggested itself.
Mrs. Besant spoke in Los Angeles at this time and we attended a private
lecture. He heard her speak many times again in London in the Queen's Hall,
but from that first glance he declared her to be in his estimation the most
wonderful woman incarnate on earth to-day. "The Monster" was put aside in
order that he might have more leisure to study Theosophy.

Mr. Saltus was now in his fifty-fifth year, and for the first time he
began to show symptoms of breaking. Extreme irritability with attacks of
giddiness were followed by periods of depression. His Theosophical studies
helped him to keep his poise. The physician who was consulted gave no cause
for alarm. He said that Mr. Saltus was undergoing certain physiological
changes and that he must abstain from prolonged mental work. A rough draft
of "The Monster," including a certain amount of Theosophy, was in hand, so
he said he would do no more creative work for a time.

That time was a long one. Mr. Saltus never did any entirely original work
again. His creative faculty became semi-detached from his work in a desire
to study. He wrote several novels after the lapse of years, but each of
them was elaborated and improved from central situations he had used before
either in novels or in short stories. In many of these, as in "Lords of the
Ghostland," Mr. Saltus felt that he had not made the most of his material,
and the desire to re-write, amplify and do justice to the subject in a new
and big way was tucked away in a corner of his mind. During the last years
of his life, when the necessity for finding forgetfulness of the physical
was paramount, the opportunity to use this material presented itself.

At the end of that summer we went on to Warner's Hot Springs. Mr. Saltus
was left at loose ends, and he went to a hotel, hoping to join us again
when we decided on a house for the winter.

While we were at the Hot Springs Mr. Saltus met a young girl, Miss S----.
So weird, wild and fantastic are the stories which have been circulated
about her, so malicious and untrue, that in justice to all, a plain
statement of the facts is called for. It was during this stay at Warner's
Hot Springs that a letter from Mr. Saltus referred to meeting a young girl.
So seldom did he meet anyone sufficiently worth mentioning that I was
interested. In the letter he said that he had been introduced to a girl,
Miss S----, who reminded him very much of myself. This was, he explained,
not only because of her features but her nature, which was highly
emotional, and that she adored animals to such a degree that I would find
in her a kindred soul. I was much interested and wrote him that I would
like to meet her.

Mr. Saltus' next letter was from San Francisco, where, at the request of
the Examiner, he had gone to write up the Portola Festival. His next
letter, however, was from Los Angeles again, giving the news that the Los
Angeles Examiner had retained him to write a series of editorials to boom
Southern California. Urging us to return, he said that he could not work
without a background and was like a man without arms or legs. Telegrams and
long distance telephone messages followed.

Soon afterward we took a house in Los Angeles again, centrally located in
what was then a fashionable location in Pico Heights, and Mr. Saltus got to
work at once. It was neither sustained nor creative like that of writing a
novel. It consisted in compiling information and statistics and presenting
them in entertaining and acceptable form. The final draft of "The Monster"
was done and ready for the typist. The compiling of material for two-page
editorials each week kept him so occupied that his usual afternoon walks
with Toto were shortened or neglected altogether. All his life he had
walked a great deal. It was his way of keeping fit. With the physiological
change in his constitution his desire to walk decreased, and the beginning
of the breakdown began without either of us suspecting it. An inveterate
smoker always, he then consumed almost twice as many cigarettes a day as
before,--strong Cuban ones of the most insidious kind. This, too, was
paving the way for the obscure and deadly disease which later gripped him
like a vise.

Up to the time of going to California to live, Mr. Saltus' life had, in
spite of its colourfulness, been more or less sad. There was a wistfulness
in his eyes,--a reaching-out for something stronger than human ties to
build on. The note-book to which I have previously referred, and which he
compiled for writing "The Philosophy of Disenchantment" and "The Anatomy of
Negation," was filled with quotations from the Gitâ. This meant something
deeper than copy to him. Upon meeting Mr. and Mrs. Colville, the inner
yearning which had been inhibited so long became suddenly objective, taking
on the concrete form of study along esoteric lines.

All this time he was studying "The Secret Doctrine," going over each stanza
slowly, thoughtfully, weighing each word and its meaning--searching for
gold.

He burst into my room one day without knocking,--a thing he never omitted
to do. I realized that only an internal earthquake could have caused such
forgetfulness. Throwing a book into my lap, he sank into a chair and
exclaimed:--

"Blind,--blind and conceited ass that I have been! All my life I have been
searching for truth. Now I have found it. Life's problems are over."

Taking the book from my hand he said:--

"Listen to this. 'Said the Flame to the spark, thou art myself,--my image
and my shadow. I have clothed myself in thee,--and thou art my vahan, until
the day be with us, when thou shalt re-become myself,--and others
thyself,--and me.'"

He read the stanza three times very slowly, his emotion so intense that
tears stood in his eyes. At that moment he touched the highest pinnacle of
his life. It was his Mount of Transfiguration. As soon as he was
sufficiently master of himself to speak, he said:--

"Let me send your name and my own this very day to Adyar to join the
Theosophical Society?"

I had never been affiliated with organizations or cults,--my understanding
of the occult having been more or less born with me and intuitive rather
than academic; but, delighted at the unfolding of his higher nature, I
agreed at once to his suggestion.

He saturated himself with Theosophy as one might with a disinfectant after
long exposure to infection. From that hour he was another being; his
perception of values and his attitude toward life became readjusted. The
polarity of his angle on everything shifted, and the axis of his being,
responding to the change, swung back to its real home. It was like melting
the ice of Spitzbergen and restoring to it the tropical beauty and verdure
it once enjoyed. In this way Mr. Saltus became imbued with the magnitude of
his discovery--or rather his recovery of it.

It has been said by his critics, that, in becoming a Theosophist, Mr.
Saltus stepped down from the Olympian heights, became mundane, and did not,
as I have suggested, ascend the Mount of Transfiguration. Constructive
criticism of any description is helpful, but it is open to question whether
or not this touches the crux of the matter. The fact that his imaginative
faculty became somewhat transmuted into channels not wholly literary, gives
critics this chance.

It has been said that I persuaded him to become a Theosophist. Nothing is
further from the truth, for, while I believed much that is called
Theosophy, I had scarcely dipped into a book on it, and our chats on these
lines had been more or less personal, one saying to the other, "Perhaps we
were brother and sister or twins in our last life," suggesting various
amusing combinations of relationship.

I never tried to persuade him to accept anything. It would have been not
only foolish and futile, but would have defeated its purpose.

Though his acceptance of it came suddenly, it was the culmination of remote
causes, too deep for either his critics or his friends to see.

It has been said also of Tolstoi that when he turned to religion he turned
from greatness. This may be true in a sense. It resolves itself into the
question "What is greatness?" That Mr. Saltus' keen interest in occultism
over-shadowed and coloured every act and thought of his life thereafter,
is undeniably true; but what it took from him in one sense it gave to him
in another. It gave him what he had been unconsciously seeking,--the
ability to build up a series of sequences in his mind, and in the
acceptance of them to find peace. Peace and progress were his pole stars.
Who can say how little or how great are such objectives? If any change took
place in his creative potentialities, it was because he deliberately
allowed it.

From that hour a new world opened before his eyes, a world of endless
vistas,--of delightful study and research,--of new thinking, reconstruction
and regeneration, Mr. Saltus' one lament being:--

"Why has it taken me so long?"

Destroying the finished copy of "The Monster," he set about rewriting it
entirely from his new viewpoint, and thereafter until the day of his death
he wrote nothing untinged by the philosophy that had become an essential
part of his consciousness.

This new and complete distraction was a godsend, for Mr. Saltus was far
from well and he was inclined to be terrified over the least symptom of
anything out of the common. Abstract reading and study took him out of
himself and bridged many an hour with pleasure and profit.

Coming in the house one day Mr. Saltus said:--

"When I was down-town I charged a box of sweets on your bill."

"Did you?" I replied. "Since when have you developed the taste?" Puddings
and candies of any kind he had always avoided.

"They were not for myself but for the young girl, Miss S----, I wrote you
about. She is now connected with the Library and I see quite a little of
her, for I go there often to get books and collect data for my articles.
Having been educated abroad she speaks French like a native, and being
unusually intelligent she has helped me a great deal."

Occupied as I was at the time with organizing a theatrical entertainment
for the benefit of The Los Angeles Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to
Animals,--having to see and secure all the talent, I put off an invitation
to bring her to the house for tea or to dine until the affair was over.
Unfortunate omission! More unfortunate yet was my remark:--

"Remember Dorothy S----."

That was an episode Mr. Saltus wanted least of all to be reminded of. It
sealed his lips more effectually than cement. When a few weeks later I
inquired about his friend, he said that she had moved and that he had no
idea what had become of her. Moved she had, but only a block or two. Once
again his inability to face anything holding the remotest possibility of
unpleasantness tangled him in an unnecessary deception.

During the holidays a telegram announcing the death of Mrs. Saltus in Paris
reached him. This was only a few days before the preliminary papers in the
divorce were to be issued.

In all justice to Mr. Saltus it must be said that he sincerely regretted
the final separation came this way. It hit him between the eyes. From his
new angle on life,--his belief that, reincarnation being a necessity, he
must meet every ego he had in any way wronged and pay his debt to each,
appalled him. However much he had attempted to justify himself in the past
he did so no longer. The sudden passing over of one so closely connected
with his early life--to whom he realized that he had never been all that he
should--struck home. He went about the house softly and silently, passages
of the Gitâ penetrating him like flame and steel.

His first impulse was to go East to meet his young daughter upon her return
from abroad. The memory of her had become a beautiful dream to him. From
that dream he was most anxious to awake and enjoy the reality. Her mother's
wishes had been very explicit in the matter. She left the little girl to
the guardianship of an aunt, with provisions in her will calculated to
curtail the young girl's best interests in case her father took her. Over
and over we thrashed the matter out between us. He had the law of the land
on his side.

Persuaded at last that the only restitution he could make the mother for
anything she had endured because of him, was through the child, he wrote
his daughter asking her desire in the matter. Upon her replying that she
wanted to carry out her mother's wishes, much against his will, Mr. Saltus
yielded.

There was another thing he yielded also. Against my firm refusal to go to
the altar or the courthouse until a proper time elapsed, he talked in vain.

"Contending with you is like biting into granite," he said with annoyance,
"and my poor teeth are being worn away."

"It is harder to be the granite," I told him. "I would be so much happier
transformed into pliable putty."

"Why not try it for a pleasant change?" he inquired.

"Because, for your sake, I cannot. You are not granite to me,--you are a
piece of marble out of which I am trying with chisel in my hand to release
the something concealed there."

"Your chisel is sharp and the process is a painful one."

"So it is," I admitted, "and I do not know to which of us it is the more
so. Shall I put it down and rest?"

Mr. Saltus smiled.

"No, little Puss. You are the instrument of karma. Keep on chiseling. You
believe in me, and if you think there is something worth while, awaiting
release--do not falter. Only the one who sees it can set it free."



CHAPTER XI


Made irritable by the state of his health, accentuated by the delay in his
plans, Mr. Saltus was in a mood to fly off at a fleabite. One does not
realize the underlying cause of things at the time they occur. It takes
perspective to throw them into relief.

Los Angeles, which never does anything by halves or in a small way, was
undergoing one of its periodical hydrophobia scares. As a matter of fact,
this disease is almost non-existent in the State of California. No matter
about that. Some poor half-starved, beaten and abused animal driven to
extremity had turned in self-protection upon a tormentor, and the cry went
up that a mad dog had bitten a child. That was enough. The papers, always
on the lookout for a sensation, took it up, piling on the agony, till in
twenty-four hours they had created a monster out of a myth.

Results showed how slight after all has been man's evolution from ignorance
and brutality. All unmuzzled dogs were ordered to be shot in the streets on
sight. Civilised England would believe such a thing possible in equatorial
Africa only. Protests were powerless. The people having been worked into a
frenzy of fear, it was not easily allayed. What followed is too harrowing
to be told. Had a few fanatical humans, and the owners of the unmuzzled
dogs been put painlessly and permanently out of the way, real justice would
have been served. Our Toto, guarded every moment night and day, was the
exception. The incinerators were kept working all the time disposing of the
innocent and helpless victims of madmen.

Because of these conditions several stray dogs were given temporary shelter
under my roof, and kept on a veranda giving off of my bed-room, situated on
the second floor. A passing policeman could not reach up to them and they
could wag their tails in safety.

How it happened, if ever known, I have forgotten,--but it happened. One of
the dogs, a bull-terrier, managing to slip from the veranda and through my
bed-room to the hall, went down stairs on an exploring expedition. Coming
in that evening with his latch-key Mr. Saltus met the dog at the front
door. The animal, grateful for food and protection, came forward to take a
sniff of the intruder and ask his intentions. Had Mr. Saltus spoken to him
and gone on naturally, as one belonging there should have done, there would
have been no trouble. His old fear of dogs gaining momentary ascendency,
combined unfortunately with his annoyance at having so much attention
diverted from himself. Without a word he gave the dog a kick. According to
canine philosophy a man having the right to be there would not have done
such a thing. That act settled his status. The terrier caught him by the
leg and made his protest felt, in his desire to protect the one who had
rescued him.

There was no uncertainty of Mr. Saltus' intentions then. Screaming and
cursing, he tore up to my sitting-room.

"One of your damned dogs has taken a slice out of my leg."

The story of the dog and his deviltry was told between vituperations. He
was done for. Hydrophobia was sure to develop before morning. The dog must
be sent to the pound at once. As I have said before, there could be no half
way in dealing with Mr. Saltus. Had he been sympathized with in the least,
it would have been fatal. It was a nerve-racking affair. Useless was the
attempt to put it to him from any angle other than his own. Not only had he
been badly lacerated, but outrageously treated by me in that his demands
were not immediately acted upon. Refusal to see in him a martyr, piled
faggots on the flame of his wrath, and vowing that either the dog or
himself should leave the house that night, he threw the challenge in my
face.

There was no need to repeat it. A telephone was on the table near my hand.
I called a taxi, telling them to be at the house in half an hour. After
that inferno was let loose. Nothing more outrageous was included in the
annals of crime.

"Here I am,--growing grey in your service,--turned into the street. I am an
IT,--a THING,--my individuality has been submerged. You have grafted all
your ideas upon me, moulding me into your likeness. I am not allowed to
think."

"If you are moulded in my image it's a devilish botch I have made of it.
Had you been moulded into something human a little earlier in life, you
could not have wrecked existence for the two women rash enough to take your
name. I have escaped with my sanity,--thank God. Now go."

Storming and swearing at the way he was abused, Mr. Saltus disappeared,
returning after fifteen minutes with a suitcase in either hand. The dogs
sat in a row to watch him go.

"I'll come back for my trunks and my books to-morrow," he told me, "and I
would like to know your plans for the future."

"Inasmuch as they no longer include yourself they cannot interest you," I
said. "When you leave this house you leave my life forever."

It was hard to say that to one who, however inflammable and vituperative on
the surface, was at heart only a very much spoiled and frightened little
boy, long accustomed to giving orders and carrying things with a high hand.
A reversal of the order took him out of his bearings. Only a profound
understanding of his nature made the success of the experiment possible.

Slamming the door behind him he left the sitting room and went down stairs.
The taxi was waiting. Reaching the garden he turned to look back at the
house, only to see the shades drawn down, the lights in my sitting room go
out, and hear my voice through the French windows saying:--

"Come, my lambs! Come, Toto! You are all that I have in this wicked
world."

After that there was silence. Then came a hum of voices from outside and
the taxi drove off. With a fair certainty of what the dénouement would be,
I kept on a wrapper and lay down on the sofa to rest. Nearly an hour
passed. Then the dogs on the veranda began to bark. This said volumes. It
said in dog language that some one was entering the house. Soon after there
was a creaking noise in the hall. Then silence again. Sniffing a friend,
Toto, who slept in my room, went to the door and whined.

"Come back," I called; "there must be a burglar in the house. I will
telephone to the police."

After that announcement there came a gentle tap on the door, and a voice
whispered:--

"Please let me in for a moment. I want to speak to you once more."

Switching on the lights I opened the door, and Mr. Saltus came in.

"Forgive me, little girl," he said. "I'm a devil. I'm all you say I am, but
I have not wrecked your life, Mowgy. If I am less to you than a dog you
never saw till yesterday I have failed,--totally failed. All the same I
have never wanted anything but to see you smile. Try me again."

By that time there were two of us weeping, with Toto jumping up upon us
licking our hands; taking on, as she did, our vibrations as might a
delicately constructed instrument.

The following day I went to Mr. Saltus and said:--

"I'm dreadfully sorry over what occurred last night, and while there is no
possible danger I want you to have your wound attended to."

"Don't worry over that," he said. "I had it cauterized this morning.
Anyway, it did its work. That poor dog was trying to protect the house. He
and I are on the same job and we will make friends."

They made up, and to such an extent that when after a few days a home was
found for the stray, Mr. Saltus had to be persuaded to let him go.

Neither Mr. Saltus nor those nearest to him realized that his nervous
system was undergoing a change. Had this been recognized, the episode which
followed would in all probability never have occurred. Mention of it is
made because a great deal was said about it at the time, it being given out
that Mr. Saltus had tried to kill me. This episode, unpleasant as it is,
marked the last time that he ever lost control of himself.

It began in the dining-room after dinner while Mr. Saltus was enjoying his
usual cigar. Some chance remark,--a hasty answer, more fuel, and the fuse
was fired. Once again he was an It,--a Thing,--a submerged _entity_,
deprived of his child and acting as a nursemaid to dogs. The more I tried
to soothe him the more vehement he became. Distressed beyond words Auntie
left the room and went upstairs, declaring that she would pack her things
and leave the house the next morning, and that we could fight it out and
find each other out,--she was done. Repeated efforts to calm him had only
the contrary effect. To leave him alone for a time seemed the only
solution. Picking up the leash to fasten it to Toto's collar, with the idea
of going for a walk while Mr. Saltus cooled down, was misunderstood by him.
Seizing a carving knife from the serving table, and pulling the leash
suddenly out of my hands, he dragged Toto behind him into the butler's
pantry and locked the door. It was the cook's evening off. From his place
of security he announced that he was going to cut Toto's throat and then
his own. Turning on a faucet so that the water would trickle ever so
slightly and suggest the dripping of blood, he became silent.

Had I argued or pleaded with him one cannot know what the result would have
been. Silence on my part,--silence absolute and unbroken,--was the only
course. A more horrible half-hour than that, Dante and Goya together could
not have imagined. At the end of that time the door opened and Mr. Saltus,
with Toto wagging her tail behind him, reappeared. Relief at knowing that a
tragedy was averted was such that I could only sink into a seat. Thereupon,
possibly because I had said nothing, Mr. Saltus picked up tumblers and
decanters from the sideboard and smashed them against the walls like so
many eggshells, still vowing that he was going to kill himself. While in
the pantry he had, instead of cutting his throat, consumed a whole bottle
of gin. That strengthened his arm and his courage.

To leave him in such a condition would have been brutal. To remain was
hazardous, for he brandished the knife and went on screaming. The night
wore on, and the effects of the gin began to change their character.
Deciding the time had come for a determined stand, I went up to him, and
took the knife out of his hand. In his amazement at my effrontery he
offered little resistance, although he still screamed of his wrongs. It was
no time to argue. Neighbours hearing the racket telephoned to the police
that a lunatic was in the house and was trying to kill some one. An officer
was sent to the door to inquire. That had a sobering effect. Kicking the
broken glass out of his way Mr. Saltus finally decided to go to his room.
By this time the sun was rising (not setting) upon his wrath.

At noon I went to consult our friend Dr. Hazeldine, a metaphysician as well
as a physician, and he returned with me to the house. Mr. Saltus, he said,
was in a very critical condition. Unable to eat, thrashing about in his bed
like a spirit in torture, he presented a tragic picture, and the doctor
decided to remain at the house until he could bring him around. This he
did; but when the bringing was accomplished, bag, baggage and dog, I left
the house, and saying "Good-bye forever," went down to San Diego.

That was more effectual than the visit of the police had been, knowing as
he did that threats were not in my line. Letters and telegrams followed
like shadows of sin. They were answered, but in no way to offer
encouragement. Clearly and firmly he was told that his conduct justified
much that had been said against him, and though two women had escaped with
their lives and sanity a third would be walking into a padded cell and
taking on a life sentence voluntarily.

The reaction on Mr. Saltus was serious. He became really ill and his
letters frantic. A novice still in Theosophy, accepting its theory of life,
but ignoring its personal application, this lapse of his acted like an
auger. It cut its way into the center of his consciousness, and in the
realization of his failure, there was stimulated the dormant aspiration to
re-create himself. A page from one of his letters is indicative of this:

".... _De profundis clamavi._ Don't make me die insane. In writing to you I
have said everything that a human being can. If there was an assurance
unexpressed it was through no fault of mine. Your answer was that your
faith in me is shattered. I once said that if you had a child by a negro I
would forgive you and console you too. Yet your faith in me is shattered.
Child----child,--you are not to blame. If after all my love and care of
you, you could write me that, it is because I have in the past betrayed the
faith of other people. No,--you are not to blame. You are my own hands
striking me in the face. As I measured it to others it is meted now to me.
I may be your cross but you are crucified to me, and death alone can tear
the nails from your hands. Even then it will leave the stigmata."

It was a difficult situation to cope with, for what he said was quite true.
The ties which bind one to another are spun out of threads like
cobwebs,--so gossamer in texture, so frail and unsubstantial, that they
seem a thing one can brush aside with a touch. They are so fine,--they
appear to have emerged from nothing,--a memory, an incident, a sorrow
shared and forgotten,--but they persist. Delicate as they are, they are
spun from the center of one's being. Turned, twisted and plaited by the
hand of fate, they become cables of steel. Reason may tell one they can be
broken, but the soul knows better. Nothing in life can tear them completely
asunder.

It was one of these frail threads which held now. Stronger ones by far,
fashioned during the years, were there, but they fell apart. It was the
frailest one which persisted. On the walls of memory was a picture. It was
that of a man sitting on the top of a 'bus, sad and silent at the thought
of returning to the States in a few days. It was early evening and we were
going out to the extreme end of London,--Muswell Hill,--to compel
distraction from the thoughts which pressed upon him from all sides. The
'bus was crowded, and we could not get a seat together. Mr. Saltus' however
was directly behind my own, so we could talk to one another. Going up the
hill toward Islington the 'bus swayed a bit, and I found myself swinging
from side to side. In so doing a slight pull seemed to come from behind.
Looking down I saw that Mr. Saltus was leaning forward and holding a piece
of my frock in his hands. He was unaware that I noticed it, nor did we ever
refer to it later. It was such a little thing. Nothing worth speaking
about, but it was his hand on the fold of my frock that held,--had held
during the years, and held now.

When he wired that he was following to San Diego I was silent and let him
come. It was then he realized how totally alone he was in the world, and
how dependent also. My home was broken up and we were both wanderers.
Though we were living at different hotels and I refused to discuss the
matter with him, Mr. Saltus' conversation was directed to me through Toto.

"Come here, Toto," he said. "I didn't really hurt you, did I? I'm not
always a devil. I have intervals of goodness. Go 'woof, woof' to Mummy and
tell her I will go and die if she throws me into the ashcan."

This was followed by a series of "wows" and the remark:

"Don't give Snippsy up to the dog-catchers. Snippsy likes to be a
subordinate entity. He isn't happy otherwise."

He was miserable and sincere, but self-preservation is a difficult thing to
fight. The upshot of it was that Mr. Saltus agreed to go East for a month
or two, leaving me in California to get my nerves in shape again. He was on
probation, or, as he expressed it, "saved from the pound."

It was horrible to see him go, and yet we both needed perspective, being
too excited to act or even think sanely, as the episode over Toto had made
clear. Two highly temperamental people, no matter how devoted to one
another, act and react at times to their mutual disadvantage.

Standing beside the Los Angeles Limited, which was to take him back via
Chicago, Mr. Saltus slipped an envelope in my hand. Upon opening it a
letter enclosing a poem fell out. That poem, under the title of "My Hand in
Yours," was published later.

As Mr. Saltus discovered on the train, our minds had been working along
similar lines, for I had slipped letters in various pockets in his coats
and others in satchels, to cheer him at intervals on the return trip.



CHAPTER XII


To New York Mr. Saltus went, returning to San Diego in less than three
months. He was still thin and nervous and had done no writing at all. In
the interval, the penetrating influence of his philosophy had done its
work, and he was taking the matter of his own evolution seriously.
Allusions to Jean or the incident of the broken glass, were like burning
raw flesh.

It was mid-winter when he returned, but no one would have suspected it from
the June-like sunshine and roses. Taking long walks with Toto, with whom he
loved to play hide-and-seek, he would go off for hours, resting in Balboa
Park on the return trip.

In speaking of this afterward to Miss G----, she said that Mr. Saltus had
looked so ill upon his return to New York that she thought he was in for a
nervous breakdown. In the circumstances, the peace and quiet of San Diego
were very restful to him.

Then the question of the future presented itself again, and he asked:--

"When are you going to absorb me?" That was the way he jestingly put it.
And then he asked:--

"Where shall we live?"

"California or London," I told him. "If one could combine the attractions
of the two,--the climate of the former and the culture and comfort of the
latter, heaven would not seem so vague a place. Take your choice, but New
York--_jamais!_"

Mr. Saltus hated New York also,--hated clubs, although one had been more or
less his headquarters for years. The old members of it were all dead, and
he was not a man to make new friends. Barring the convenience of a club it
was a horror to him. It was then agreed that he should return to the East,
arrange his affairs and meet me in Montreal, where we would take the leap
into matrimony and sail to England direct.

An incident occurred toward the end of March, shortly before Mr. Saltus
left for New York, which indicated, more than anything else, how radical
had been the change in him. We were invited for tea at the home of a
friend, Mrs. Butler. As her home was at a distance from the center of the
city it was decided that I should take a trolley, while for the benefit of
the exercise, Mr. Saltus would walk with Toto. Before separating however,
he accompanied me to the fifth floor of a shop, where I made a few
purchases. Reaching the street I left him with the assurance that he would
rejoin me again in twenty minutes at Mrs. Butler's house. Toto, as usual,
was a few feet in front of us, and, as it afterward developed, was unaware
of the exact spot where we divided forces. It was over in a minute. I
jumped into a trolley and disappeared.

Mrs. Butler's was reached. The twenty minutes doubled and redoubled, yet
look as one might no sign of man or dog could be seen. That something had
happened,--to the dog most likely,--seemed probable. It was a tense
waiting. The rapid twilight of the south was closing like a fan, when,
silhouetted against the distant skyline, a pygmy, preceded by an animated
dot, developed into a man and a dog.

It was a tale with no wag that he poured into my ears.

"When you left and jumped into the trolley," he said, "I became suddenly
aware that I was alone. Toto had vanished. Inquiries were futile and
fruitless. No one had seen her. She appeared to have dematerialized in a
flash. I went to both the hotels and to all the places where we were in the
habit of stopping. The result was the same."

"And what then?"

"I stood in the middle of the street and wowed. I was sure that Totesy Babe
had been killed or stolen. It was horrible. I could not face you alive."

It would have taken courage without a doubt.

"What did you decide to do,--run away?"

"No,--I thought of that, but to run, meant out of your life. To return
without Toto would amount to the same thing. It was a case of 'Which way I
fly is hell.... Infinite wrath and infinite despair.' There was no
alternative but the Bay for me. Living, even if I remained in your life,
Toto would have stood forever between us. Dead, you would think kindly of
me and mourn for me also. It was the lesser evil."

"And then?"

"It seemed too bad to be true. A last hope remained. Returning to Marston's
where we had separated, I questioned the door man. Yes, he had seen a black
and white dog going in alone over an hour ago. The elevator man came next.
He had let a dog off at the fifth floor, supposing she accompanied a
customer. The mystery became less opaque. Toto was sitting under the
counter where she had seen you last. The shop was closing and the
assistants were puzzled what to do, as she refused to move and bared her
teeth when any one came near her."

There was no faking his seriousness. Mr. Saltus was in a state of collapse.
The way he reacted to this episode made whole the broken glass, and put a
sponge over the incident forever.

In a week or so, arrangements being made for us to meet and be married in
Montreal, he returned to the East. The Montreal idea had merits. As we had
decided to live under British laws it was as well to be married under them.
Mr. Saltus' former matrimonial knots had been tied in New York and Paris.
He wanted to try a new place for luck. Owing to his divorce from Helen Read
he could not be married in New York State in any event. Besides, he wanted
to avoid a thing which loomed like a menacing monster in his
path,--publicity. The newspapers had been none too lenient over his first
offense. With the attempt to secure a divorce from his second wife, all the
past had been resurrected and flung in his face in none too complimentary a
way. His imagination visualized the headlines over a third marriage.
"Saltus Lures Third Victim to the Altar." "Bluebeard Put to Blush." "At the
Close of a Misspent Life Saltus Takes Third Wife to Nurse Him in His
Declining and Reclining Years."

Spring merged into summer. Letters from Mr. Saltus, then in New York,
inquiring when we should meet in Montreal, suggested also that we should
sail from there direct to England.

An incident occurring at this time was so vital and far-reaching in my
estimation that an indefinite postponement of our marriage seemed the only
solution. I wrote him to that effect,--wrote also that I contemplated a
trip to China and the far East. This was not done on impulse or in anger,
and knowing that I was not given to threats, and that my reasons were
substantial, Mr. Saltus took it like a death-blow. Four days journey apart,
he was powerless to get to me before I could carry it into effect.

Telegrams stormed in. Though upsetting in the extreme, they were
unanswered. Self-preservation lifting its head again, suggested retreat. It
was a mirage however. A preservation excluding him would have been
momentary only, for wherever I might hide I knew he would find me if he
spent his life in the search. The hand holding the fold of my frock held it
still. His last telegram, so characteristic that it is given here, broke
down my resistance:--

Miss Marie Giles,
The Woodward,
Los Angeles, California.

Am wiring fifth time. If you have any affection for Snipps don't let it be
in vain. Try send some helpful message, only send it quick. If not Snipps
goes under. This is the last despairful cry of love and grief eternal. God
bless you little girl.

E.

[Illustration: Fac-simile of Telegram sent to Marie Saltus]

That broke me up entirely. A wire that I would start for Montreal at a
certain date, was followed by my arrival there. Mr. Saltus was at the
station. He was still thin but looking better. With a foresight scarcely to
be expected he had arranged everything for our accommodation at the Windsor
Hotel, dog included, and an application had been sent to the Board of
Agriculture and Fisheries to take Toto into England. Over the details of
our marriage however he had struck a snag. It was our desire to have the
ceremony performed in the Roman Catholic Church, a form in which I had been
educated. The ritual of the Church appealed very strongly to Mr. Saltus, as
he believed it contained not only all the beauty and mysticism of the
ancient mysteries but to his mind all the beauty and truth of Christianity
as well. Owing to technicalities over his first marriage, and some
uncertainty regarding baptism, this was found to be impossible. It was a
severe disappointment to us both. A civil marriage was then decided upon.
That, too, was out of the question. The Province of Quebec being under
ecclesiastical law, we appeared to have struck an impasse, and a trip to
Toronto seemed inevitable.

It was the middle of August and the heat was frightful. I told Mr. Saltus
to make any arrangements he pleased provided I did not have to run around
myself.

The following day he came up to me in Dominion Square, where I was sitting
for a breath of air, reading a detective story, with Toto lying at my feet.

"Come along,--we are going to get married," he said, "and we have only time
to walk to the church comfortably."

Mr. Saltus was never behindhand when he had decided to go anywhere. When
starting to catch a train one could be sure that an hour at least would be
spent at the station, while he walked restlessly to and fro fuming at the
slowness of the clock.

"Let me go to the hotel to change my frock, and get rid of this detective
story," I said.

"Change nothing. Come along as you are. You can put on all the frills after
you cremate me,--if you have the courage to try it again."

He began pulling on my arm. It was nothing if not casual. After all, Toto
was not concerned over our looks, and there was no one else but the
clergyman, to whom we were complete strangers. Up Dorchester Street we
sauntered. We were half an hour ahead of time as it was. Mr. Saltus fumbled
in his pocket and brought out a ring. That was the most amusing and least
expected part of it all. Time and again he had expressed himself on the
subject of wedding rings with scorn. To him they appeared to be symbols of
eternity between people for whom an eternity of misunderstanding was at
that moment beginning. His views were my own. No symbol of servitude would,
I had often remarked, weigh down a finger of mine. He handed it to me in
silence, and in silence I looked at it, an unobtrusively thin band of gold
with our initials, and the date and the word "Eternamente" inside. Smiling,
I returned it and said nothing.

"It's going to hurt me cruelly if you won't wear it," he said at last. "I
know I have made fun of such things, but this is my last wedding, and this
is different. It means something more than I supposed a marriage could." He
broke off and inquired, "By the way, what are you going to do with Babe
when we get to the church?"

Toto was trotting along a few feet in front of us.

"Take her to the wedding, of course. She can sit between us."

"However lightly you may be taking this, it's a serious affair to me," he
said, "and much as I love her I don't think it the thing to take a dog into
a church."

"What isn't the thing for her isn't the thing for me, either," he was told.
"You can have both of us, or neither. Speak up."

We walked on a bit, and then looking at each other we began to laugh.

"I'll put on your symbol of servitude and Babe goes to our wedding,--what
do you say?"

"Right-O," Mr. Saltus agreed with a laugh. "It's the usual thing,--a mother
accepting life-long punishment for the sake of her child."

We were at the door of the church then. Dr. Scott, who was substituting
that summer at the American Presbyterian Church, met us with his witnesses,
and giving the dog even a more cordial welcome than ourselves, performed a
brief ceremony. Only when it was over did we realize that the detective
story was still in my hand. It is to be hoped that Dr. Scott believed it a
prayer book.

Unexpected events rearranged our plans. We did not sail from Montreal, but
six weeks later I went from New York, and Mr. Saltus joined me in London in
January. Thereafter during the next two years Mr. Saltus crossed and
recrossed the ocean as if it were a ferry, living in an apartment hotel
when in New York and when in London wherever I happened to be stopping.

It was in the spring of 1914 when upon returning from a winter in Algeria
and joining Mr. Saltus on the return route, I agreed to try the experiment
of housekeeping. A maisonette in Nevile Street, Onslow Gardens, was the
result of our search. For two such absent-minded and non-observing people,
impatient of petty details, to attempt anything practical was braver than
wise. English servants do not venture suggestions unasked. There were meals
when I remembered to order them. Sometimes there was too much, and more
often nothing at all. On these occasions it was convenient to live between
the Brompton and Fulham Roads. I was always apologetic and distressed when
we had to go out for a meal, but Mr. Saltus' remarks were invariably the
same:--

"I hate practical women. Any fool can feed my body. I never expected you to
develop into a housekeeper and I would hate you if you did. Smile and be
yourself."

There are not many men who would say that--on an empty stomach. A
cook-housekeeper came to our rescue at last. Mr. Saltus was writing a
series of articles for Harper's Bazaar at the time,--ultra-feminist
articles. They were called "The Reflections of Floraline Schopenhauer." The
writing of them amused and interested him very much. It was not creative
work. It was a new figure on which to drape the ideas, witticisms and
epigrams he had stored up in a note-book; and they were amazingly clever.
In discussing them and women in general, I remembered his friend of the Los
Angeles days and said:

"Did you never hear what became of that clever girl? It's queer that you
lost all track of her."

"No," he said, "I believe she went to France to live."

The subject dropped there. With his obsessing fear of the possibility of
unpleasantness, added to the memory that he had denied all knowledge of her
when in San Diego, he would not, or could not, face the fact--simple
enough if he had not complicated it for himself--that the friendship had
continued. He might have told me that he had seen her again in New York and
coached her a bit in writing, where, with her clever pen and unusual
ability, she had forged ahead into a position of great responsibility.

Having once more the comfortable background of a home, Mr. Saltus took up
his studies in occultism, spending hours in the Theosophical Library in
Tavistock Square poring over the "Pistis Sophia." That again opened up
vistas and visions of a far-reaching character. From the Theosophical
Headquarters it was but a step to the British Museum, and the holy of
holies where rare books are loaned to responsible students within the
enclosure. This spot was always the Mecca toward which Mr. Saltus
gravitated.

Leaving our apartment about eleven o'clock each morning, he would take a
'bus to Piccadilly Circus, and walk the rest of the way to Museum Street.
On the return trip he walked all the way, trying to get in better physical
trim through exercise.

Coming home one day he made the first allusion to the twinges in his legs
which increased rapidly in both inconvenience and pain.

"I'm getting to be a good-for-nothing old scoundrel," he announced at
dinner one night. "I, who used to walk from Los Angeles to Hollywood with
ease, am in for something. I cannot understand what causes the pain and
discomfort in my legs. I'm ready for the ashcan. You will never get a hat
for me."

"Don't you believe it. If you have any fears concerning your value I will
get up a sale and auction you off."

"I don't want to be auctioned off. Men are scarce in England and a fat
woman might bid me in. Even if you want to get rid of me, Babe wants me."

"Neither you nor Babe need distress yourselves. Your absence will not be
prolonged. The fat woman will drop you back on the door-step as damaged
goods and I can auction you off all over again. It will be an endless
procedure."

Joking with me was a diversion that Mr. Saltus loved. We were always living
with imaginary people concerning whom he would ask hypothetical questions.
One was as follows:--

"What would you do if a fat woman came in with a bag in her hand, and tried
to put me in it and take me away?"

"'Madame,' I would say, 'if you are trying to steal my little Snippsy, let
me assure you, that though men may be scarce, hats are more so. A smart
autumn model in exchange is my price.'"

At that Mr. Saltus would exclaim:--

"I would not go. I would scream and bite her, and she would be glad to let
me drop."

"Not at all," I always replied, "for I would tell her that you have been
expecting hydrophobia all these years and it has at last shown itself.
Then she would carry you off to the lethal chamber with all speed."

That remark always called forth a series of "Wows" in various keys. This
story with variations was gone over and over, and as a rule was followed by
one from me. Mr. Saltus was disappointed when it was not.

"What would you do," I asked, "if, upon going into your study you found a
giant elemental sitting at your desk tampering with your copy?"

Woe to the typist who had the temerity to change even a comma in Mr.
Saltus' work. It was enough to incite him to murder.

"I would go mad,--seize the elemental and my vibrations alone would tear
him to atoms."

"But suppose he was an all-powerful elemental,--a black magician, and he
said that he was going to edit everything you wrote in the future?"

"Then," Mr. Saltus always said, "I would rush to the window, open it and
jump out into the fourth dimension in the akasha."

The episode of the elemental ended there till the next telling. So much of
Mr. Saltus' life had been sad and unsatisfying that the desire to dip for a
time into make-believe was soothing and diverting to him. It was a region
in which we spent many an hour.



CHAPTER XIII


During his stay in London, a year before, Mr. Saltus had made the
acquaintance of a friend of mine,--a very remarkable woman, Mrs. M----, a
lady of foreign birth and high social position, married to a Britisher.
Unique as a mother, untiring in the service of humanity, and possessing
extraordinary supernormal powers, she gave him, firsthand and from personal
investigation, information and understanding of so unusual a character,
that Mr. Saltus regarded the privilege of knowing her as an unmerited
blessing. She gave him also a curious old talisman--a tiny Rosicrucian
cross that had once belonged to a world-renowned occultist. So frail and
worn had it become by centuries of use, that twice it had been backed with
gold to hold it together. It was the last earthly possession his hand
relinquished in death.

Figuratively and literally, Mr. Saltus sat at Mrs. M----'s feet and
absorbed what she gave him. Her influence on his life was more vital and
far-reaching than that of any other human he ever met.

"Triple ass that I was," he said over and over again after he met her. "I
sent out 'Lords of the Ghostland' when I knew nothing. Had I but waited
till now I could have written a masterpiece. Instead of that I turned out a
skeleton,--no meat, no truth, no insides."

This fretted him constantly.

"If I live long enough," he said, "I will undo 'The Philosophy of
Disenchantment' and 'The Anatomy of Negation,' as well as 'Lords of the
Ghostland,' and epitomize all I have digested into a single volume and call
it 'The History of God.' Then I will sing my _Nunc dimittis_, go to Adyar
and put my pen at the service of Mrs. Besant."

It was a far step for the man who had once written, "There is no help here
or anywhere." Years of study, reinforced by the chastening effect of
thinking for another less practical and more highly strung than himself,
had done much for him, but the increasing application of Theosophy to his
daily life had done more. As far as he could, he made himself
over--recognizing and combatting his weaknesses with heroic courage. Though
the remnants of his fundamental fears remained and cropped up at unexpected
times and places, they were modified to a remarkable degree. One could not
anticipate them however, and occasionally they led to rather amusing
results.

It was after a prolonged period of insomnia and a nervous breakdown,
super-induced by circumstances entirely unconnected with Mr. Saltus, and
after I had been in bed for weeks, that one of these lapses occurred. He
was an angel during this trying time, rushing up to Covent Garden daily to
get me peaches (a luxury in England) and taking his meals on a tray at my
bedside, after which he read aloud to me as long as I cared to have him do
so. It was after a peaceful evening passed in this way, that one of his
fears reappeared for a moment, and in such a way that one with less
understanding of his psychology would have been very angry.

Mr. Saltus' bed-room opened off my own, and it was our custom to leave the
door ajar in case I should need something during the night. He was asleep
and I was resting when a low "woof" came from the foot of my bed. Another
"woof!" and then a growl followed. Toto was trained to be quiet and did not
"woof" without cause. I sat up and listened. Light footsteps were audible
from the drawing-room down stairs. I waited a moment or two to make sure,
and then, speaking quite naturally but loudly enough to waken him, I
said:--

"Get up, Snippsy. I think there are burglars down-stairs."

What followed was enough to frighten even the most hardened criminal. With
a blood-curdling shriek, Mr. Saltus sprang from his bed, and slamming the
door between our rooms locked it,--locking as well the other door giving
on to the hallway. So unexpected was it, and so sudden, that it took me a
moment to realize that instead of going to the rescue, he was, as he
afterward admitted, curled up in bed, with the covering pulled over his
head.

Somebody had to do something. Getting out of the bed I had not left for
weeks, with Toto leading the way, I turned on the drawing-room lights from
a switch, and tottered down stairs. The intruder was quite harmless,--a man
who occupied a tiny pied-à-terre on the ground floor. He had mislaid his
matches, and being on a friendly footing with us had, as he thought, come
up noiselessly to help himself from our smoking-stand.

When with shaking legs I managed to get up the stairs again, Mr. Saltus met
me on the landing. He had gained control of his nerves and was coming down
to look after me. It was my hand which locked the door between our rooms
that time, after calling him a "spineless jellyfish," an epithet which he
had heard many times before and which always called forth the same
reply:--

"Were our spines of the same rigidity we would have killed one another
years ago."

None the less Mr. Saltus was none too keen for me to ask those of our
friends who dropped in for tea, if they wanted to hear how he routed the
burglar. How ever the telling of this affair sounds, it was not the result
of fear in the accepted sense of the word. It was a condition of Mr.
Saltus' nerves only.

A day or so later, a specialist having been called in to see me, he
suggested that pernicious anæmia might be aggravating my illness, and that
transfusion of blood might be necessary. Mr. Saltus bared his arm in an
instant, insisting that no time be lost and that his blood and no other be
taken. It was however found to be a wrong diagnosis. Brave he always was,
when there was no sudden impact on his nervous system.

Mr. Saltus loved London, the city, the life and the people. He loved even
the greyness of it,--loved the British Museum and the parks, but most of
his old friends had passed on. One interesting figure silhouetted against
the background of England,--one whom Mr. Saltus had known until then only
through correspondence,--was T. P. O'Connor, M.P. Having seen quite a bit
of him, and most pleasurably, the previous winter in Algeria, our first
outing after I was able to be about, was to have tea on the Terrace at the
House of Commons with him.

"I've read everything you have written," he told Mr. Saltus with a
handshake.

"That you have survived it is the more amazing," Mr. Saltus answered.

Tea and time were consumed and forgotten. They were at home with each other
in a moment, and Mr. Saltus was enchanted by "Tay Pay's" wit and charm.
They laughed and chatted like two boys in a tuck-shop.

It was upon returning from the House that afternoon that Mr. Saltus
complained again of the pain in his legs.

"I walk less and less easily each day," he said. "What can be coming over
me? Am I going to be paralyzed?"

A physician was consulted the following day, and a liniment prescribed, but
the pain went on increasing. A few days after, and while Mr. Saltus was
much depressed over his condition, we were invited to a dinner, which he
accepted. Barring myself, the guests were all celebrities of various
kinds,--playwrights, authors, actors, musicians and lecturers, with Mr.
Saltus the visiting comet. It was not until the taxi was at the door to
take us that he announced:--

"Mr. Me, won't go."

There were no extenuating circumstances to excuse him, nor did he attempt
to find or fake them. Past experience had shown him how transparent they
were to me.

"I'm not up to the mark. I'm incapable of being a rapid-firing battery of
wit, wisdom and epigrams," he announced.

"You should have realized your limitations sooner," I said, "for you
cannot evade a dinner at the twelfth hour, when you are the guest of
dishonour as well. We are already late. It's outrageous."

"Outrageous or not, I'm not going. You never do anything that is expected
of you. Why should I? The less people see of me the better they will think
of me. You must go and get me out of it as well as you can. Take a leaf out
of my book and invent something."

That was too much.

"I won't have to invent, to tell them you are a lunatic resting from a
lucid interval. No wonder there is no stampede for your work. You wrap
yourself in impenetrability and expect the world to be clairvoyant. It
won't do. I will be Balaam's ass no longer. You must bray for yourself."

His braying was the usual "Wow! Wow! Please extract poor Snippsy. He'll
take Totesy Babe for a walk in Kensington Gardens every day and be such a
good boy ever after. Why do you care how I treat others? I'm always old
dog Tray to you."

What could one do with such a man? He had to be taken "as is," the way they
label goods on bargain counters, or not at all. I could have insisted, and
taken him willing or not, for more than he disliked being dragged out
against his will did he hate to have me seriously provoked with him. But
what would have been the use? He would have gone had I insisted, but
acquitted himself in such a way that his absence would have been
preferable.

This was not the first time that such a thing had occurred.

When I was living in California he had refused to come to the dining-table
in my own house, and gone to bed while the guests were arriving. Fate was
against him, however, in that instance. I invented a fairy tale to cover
his absence and all would have been well, but while the maid was passing
coffee in the drawing-room Mr. Saltus remembered a bottle of gin in the
pantry. No one answering his ring, he slipped down the back stairway to
secure it, and tripping, fell down the entire length, with such a thud that
guests as well as servants were in doubt if a burglar or an earthquake was
responsible. With one accord they rushed in the direction of the sound and
discovered him in extreme negligée, to his even more extreme embarrassment.
This was an episode he did not like referred to, but upon this second
offense it was dragged out again in all its details!

"No white woman should have married you," I exploded, "and I have only
myself to blame with two sad examples to warn me. Good-night."

It was no rare treat to appear at a dinner of celebrities after the guests
were seated, minus the star who was my sole reason for being included, and
take it as if I were lapping up cream. To be casual was no joke. I entered
with the remark, that, being an assemblage of egos answering to the
classification genius, they alone could appreciate the temperamental
spells of unknown origin afflicting the species--and be tolerant to a
fellow in crime. To sit down and pretend to enjoy it topped the treat.

A fortnight later saw us at the Granville Hotel, Ramsgate, for the week
end. As he had been there less frequently than myself, and knew fewer
people, some one referred to Mr. Saltus as "Mrs. Saltus' husband." That
amused him enormously.

"They have me in my proper place here," he exclaimed. "They know I am a
subordinate entity."

A greater surprise was, however, awaiting him when a child on the sand
called out:--

"Look,--there is Toto's Papa!"

That sent Mr. Saltus into a fit of laughter. He always enjoyed a joke on
himself so much. The sea air which is supposed to induce sleep was our
reason for going to Ramsgate, but even sea air handicapped by the noise of
slamming doors and loud talking in the halls, seemed useless. I complained
of this before going to my room, and Mr. Saltus said that he would speak
to the manager of the hotel and see what could be done about it.

The following morning, upon going out with the dog, I almost fell over Mr.
Saltus. He had sat on a chair with his back against my door all night in
order to urge those who passed to be quiet. That offset the incident of the
burglar and the dinner with interest, yet he did not feel that he had done
anything exceptional. He was himself,--that was all. The latent sweetness
and unselfishness in his character developed along lines uniquely his own.
He was an entity who could not be taken apart and analyzed. He had to be
accepted as a whole or not at all. He had his weaknesses,--they were near
the surface and but imperfectly concealed. He had also a nobility, a
fineness and a greatness of soul I have never seen equalled by any human,
at any time, anywhere.

A day or two later the world was shaken by the word _WAR_. Rumours of it
had been in the air for some time,--not a world war to be sure, but a
civil one in Ireland. Leading Home Rule members of Parliament had been in
nightly conference with the Prime Minister, and from what our friend "Tay
Pay" had let drop, we anticipated anything but what eventuated. No one in
unprepared England dreamed of war. The idea was too bizarre, too theatrical
to be true. Everyone was talking about it, but no one really believed it
possible, except perhaps those few who, having an extension of
consciousness, could penetrate the veil of the seeming of things.

Mr. Saltus with myself was in a cinema, when, during an interval between
pictures, there was flashed upon the screen the message, "Great Britain
sends ultimatum to Germany." The audience, spell-bound at first and silent,
let out an enthusiastic "Hurrah!" Mr. Saltus gripped me by the arm and
whispered:--

"If this is true it means not only a world war but the breaking up of our
home here, and my return to the States, for it may last for years, and no
one knows how the stock market may jump and whether ruin camps on the
door-step." (What little Mr. Saltus had was in stocks and bonds.)

British as he was in sympathy and inclination--wishing, as he had said many
times, that karma would bring him back next life as an English country
gentleman,--Mr. Saltus threw himself into the spirit of what followed, in a
way that no one could have foreseen. Countermanding the orders given the
maid never go to his room unless the house was on fire, he told her to
bring the morning papers at whatever hour they were delivered, which was
usually before seven, and thereafter during the day to take up all the
extras she could secure. "Floraline Schopenhauer" was put aside, and a
sonnet, "Caligula Germanicus," was the immediate result.

The summer advanced, and so did the march toward Paris. Then, in common
with all Americans in England, he began to rage against the United States
and its apparent apathy. His inability to do anything was irksome. To
stand on the balcony giving off of our drawing-room and watch the first raw
recruits march past, made it difficult for him to restrain himself. With a
Union Jack fastened to Toto's collar he would go out for his usual walk in
Kensington Gardens, and come back raging at his uselessness. Backed by a
wife proud of her British ancestry and growing more and more indignant each
day at the United States Government, Mr. Saltus finally decided to become a
naturalized British subject. Incidentally, this was what Henry James did a
little later on. That he did not take out these papers (which, had it been
done, would have saved me a series of unpleasant incidents) was owing to
the fact that such small possessions as he had were in the United States,
and that, writing for the magazines and newspapers published in New York,
he was dependent on the good-will of the American public. It was taking a
chance to swap countries during a war. A blacklisting of his work was
within the possibilities.

At the beginning of the war people were seen in restaurants and theatres a
great deal. The slogan "Business as usual" meant the keeping alive of their
morale. That phase of it passed Mr. Saltus unnoticed. Not half a dozen
times during his life in London did he go out of an evening. They were all
alike, prefaced by a short walk to give our dog some exercise, followed by
an hour or two of studying the Quabala. Such a life would have been not
only deadly to the normal woman, but would have sent her rushing to Reno.
So seldom was Mr. Saltus asked by me to go anywhere, and so certain was he
that if asked it would be worth while, that he never questioned where I was
taking him. Like the little boy who when he was good was very good indeed
and when he was bad was horrid, Mr. Saltus took the hurdle from one to the
other at intervals. It was about seven to five, the balance, however, being
in his favour.

Among his mental twists was a very pronounced one. Willing enough to
entertain now and again provided the people were interesting, he was
unalterably opposed to having anyone, no matter who, sleep under our roof
for even a single night. Strangers irritated him, and friends if they
remained too long did so as well. One incident shows how embarrassing it
could become at times.

Among my friends was a beautiful and talented girl, Miss H----, who lived
in the country, and for whom Mr. Saltus had expressed much admiration. She
came up to London one afternoon. It was in the early days of the war, when
hotels and boarding-houses were packed with Americans waiting to sail for
home. In these circumstances she could find no place to stop; and, knowing
we had a maisonette of some size, she called me on the telephone and asked
if I could put her up for the night, suggesting very considerately that she
would occupy the chesterfield in the drawing-room on the floor below our
sleeping rooms. Well acquainted with Mr. Saltus' peculiarities, I would
have invented an excuse, but his admiration for her had been so often
expressed that I believed she would prove the exception, so, deciding to
chance it, I told her to come. Upon his return from a walk I told him what
had occurred. The clouds gathered. Didn't I know that no one, princess or
queen, would be welcome to stay over a night? His house was his castle. To
everyone else he had to be Edgar Saltus, the author. With me only could he
be Snippsy and take his comfort. Argument sent him into a rage. Told at
last that she positively must come, he ran upstairs and packed his
suitcases.

"If she comes I go to a hotel."

"That is impossible," I told him. "She would have gone to one herself if
she could have secured a room anywhere. The poor girl only asks to sleep
down stairs in the drawing-room."

"If I can't get a room I'll sleep on a park bench or the ground. It's
summer and it won't kill me. The men at the front have much worse."

There was no bluff about it.

"Call her up," he urged, "and tell her I am a lunatic whose worst mania is
killing people in their sleep."

"It's likely that she would believe a tale that wagged like that, and she
would hate you forever afterward."

"What the devil do I care?" he screamed. "Let her hate all she likes
provided she stays away."

"Call her yourself," I said, "and tell her so. It's your funeral, not
mine."

Straight to the telephone he went and did so, not in the language he had
used to me. It was apologetic and diplomatic in the extreme, but it let her
know very definitely that she could not come. She did not come, and she
never darkened our door again; and there is very little doubt in my mind
but that she regarded me as the culprit and Mr. Saltus as the scapegoat
forced to do an unpardonable act. She probably concluded upon thinking it
over that I looked upon her as more dangerous than the woman with the sack
she had heard us joke about, and that I was afraid she might carry him off
more effectually.

I had let Mr. Saltus turn himself out of the house when we were in Los
Angeles because a principle was involved and the life of a defenceless
animal jeopardized. There was no question of that in this case, for humans
speak or shriek their need; besides, Miss H---- was a very charming girl
and had other acquaintances in London.

So Mr. Saltus slept in peace under his own roof and the chapter was
closed.



CHAPTER XIV


On the heels of this episode was one of another character. Among Mr.
Saltus' many charming qualities was an especially endearing one. With
persons he loved, the passing of years seemed to leave no trace whatever,
and he could see no difference in their personal appearance. In his eyes,
until the hour of his death, I remained the fragile and impertinent child
to whom he had stretched out his hand on the sands of Narragansett Pier,--a
helpless and impractical creature in a world of scheming scoundrels.

In his eyes I had not a fault. It was not that he was in ignorance of my
limitations and undesirable qualities; these he saw with clarity, but he
believed that every virtue had its negative aspect as well,--the defects of
its qualities, as he expressed it,--and to divert or eliminate these was to
impair the desirable attributes behind them. In consequence any
shortcomings of mine were regarded as indications only of the most
superlative virtues, and not to be tampered with. No woman could ask more
of a man than to accept her limitations and incapacities as evidences of
her extraordinary worth. This hallucination was a pleasing one, but it had
its negative side as well. Nothing could convince Mr. Saltus that every
male creature was not laying plans to entice me away from him. The fact
that for long periods at a time I was not only ill, but looked too frail to
attract anything more than sympathy, counted for nothing. The fact that the
majority of men could not run fast enough from a woman possessing my
defects was unconvincing to him. Over and over he was told that the
qualities which attracted him would antagonize the average man from the
start. He was still convinced that I was a fragile and unsuspecting child
in a world of vultures and demons. It must be said, however, that Mr.
Saltus was too much of a philosopher ever to ask me to do or to omit
anything. My freedom of action was limitless and his trust absolute, and he
never questioned any of my actions except as a joke.

Among our acquaintances was a Turkish diplomat, T---- Bey. Occasionally, as
is the custom in England, I had tea with him or he with us, and now and
again I went with him for a walk in the Gardens. The fact that he looked
enough like Mr. Saltus to be a twin brother had first called him to my
attention. He was perhaps ten years younger, but they looked about of an
age.

Besides the fat woman and the elemental, there was another joke we had
rehearsed for years. It was as follows, and leads directly to the incident
concerning T---- Bey.

"If you had not been such a black devil I would not have fancied you," I
used to tell him.

"I'm not a black devil. I'm a good little slavey."

"No,--you're a little dark E" (making a pun on his name), "and your
complexion is your stock in trade."

"I thought it was my wheedling ways?"

"No, indeed! And if I ever disappear, look about for a man a shade or two
darker than yourself and miaw around the neighborhood."

"Any man darker than I will have a touch of the tar brush."

"Perhaps you have a bit yourself. Remember, an ancestress of yours came
from Port Royal, Jamaica. I have often suspected the worst."

This joking always amused him so much that when en route to Africa the year
before I had written him saying that it was with delightful anticipations I
neared the home of his ancestors. That letter brought the query, "Which,
monkeys or blacks?" To which I replied that they would be "high
monkey-monks of some kind."

Much as he enjoyed this chaffing with me, T---- Bey stuck somewhat in his
throat when I joked about him. Accustomed to his habit of
non-interference--for, as he remarked, "Dogs can be trained, but cats have
to have their own way in everything"--I was amazed when he said:--

"If you don't mind, and can see your way to it, I would rather you did not
go alone to restaurants with T---- Bey."

"Of course not if you prefer," was my immediate reply. It was a trivial
matter, too unimportant for discussion. An hour later, however, when going
into the Ritz for tea with some friends from the country, I found T---- Bey
was included. That was quite all right. What was not so was the fact, that
while tea was being served an urgent telephone call made it necessary for
my friends to leave at once. T---- Bey and I were left alone having our tea
together. To get up and go, no matter what the excuse, would have been an
insult. There was nothing to do but to remain and explain the circumstances
afterward to Mr. Saltus. That explanation was never given or asked. As we
were finishing our tea Mr. Saltus walked into the room, saw us, and coming
forward smiling with outstretched hand asked if he might join us. This he
did, chatting all the time as delightfully as he could. Being asked by
T---- Bey if he knew I was in the Ritz, he answered lightly, but with an
underlying meaning:--

"My _intuitions_ about Mrs. Saltus are uncanny. If she has as much as a
headache I know it. If she is perplexed I feel it, and if she is vexed with
me without giving a sign of it, her vibrations tear me to pieces and I
cannot endure it."

On the way home I started to tell him how it had all come about, but he
stopped me short.

"Leave explanations to strangers,--love understands. That you were there
after what you said this morning, is in itself proof that it was
accidental."

He would not listen to a word and the subject dropped then and there. It
was perhaps because of his laxity in this respect that my regard for truth
was adamant. It was in consequence characteristic of Mr. Saltus to avoid
any discussion with me in which I might be forced to ask:--

"Do you want to hear the unvarnished truth?"

"No--no, varnish it,--varnish it, if it will hurt, which truth is more than
likely to do. I would rather hear pleasing lies, even if I cannot believe
them."

That was Mr. Saltus in the raw. He could not face truth, if either to hear
it or to tell it was likely to cause pain or unpleasantness. Running
parallel to this peculiarity was another, oriental in its courtesy, unusual
in its application,--his attitude of deference toward me. Asked by T. P.
O'Connor to express his views on a subject he had not considered until that
moment he said:--

"Have you asked Mrs. Saltus what she thinks?"

"No," said T. P., "I'm asking you. It's your angle and opinion I want."

"My opinion is a zero. I haven't considered the subject at all. Ask Mrs.
Saltus for hers. After this we will be sure to discuss it, and whatever I
may say off hand, I am sure to accept her views in a week or two anyway.
Ask her now, it will save time."

Not only was his attitude highly deferential but most embarrassing at
times. Upon one occasion I was asked by a foreign diplomat how it felt to
live with a genius. Before I could reply Mr. Saltus took us both off our
feet by cutting in:--

"Don't ask the poor girl something she does not know, and cannot answer. If
you want to know about living with a genius, ask me."

The diplomat's understanding of English was imperfect, and this was too
much for him. He may be still trying to decipher the reply.

During the years Mr. Saltus had become an adept with animals. Through his
affection for Toto he had absorbed their psychology. It was he now who
rushed into the street to pick up a horse's feed-bag and restore it to its
place. Seeing an injured cat near Museum Street, and being unable to get
any one to help him, he discarded an armful of books and, calling a taxi,
carried the victim in his arms to the Cat Shelter at Camden Town.

With autumn came the query, What and where? The war had been gaining
momentum. Obviously it was unwise to remain too long away from the base of
supplies. Certain also it was that if we tore up our home, taking
everything back to the States, it would mean remaining there. With one of
us remaining in England a home might be resurrected. It was in consequence
decided that Mr. Saltus should return to New York, and rejoin me after
things looked a bit clearer. The pain in his legs increased so that he
walked less and less each day, but when he saw how it worried me he
pretended that he was getting better and had never been as well in his
life. In his anxiety to spare me and his desire to avoid telling
disagreeable things he made a frightful mistake. Had I known the truth,
never would I have let him return alone.

Leaving England was always a tug at his heart-strings. He was reluctant to
put an ocean between us and reluctant to turn his back on possible service.
Little did either of us dream, however, that he was leaving his beloved
British Museum for the last time. In Waterloo Station once more, the
station in which he had said so many "good-byes," we said au revoir again.

Upon his return to New York Mr. Saltus took rooms near the Manhattan Club
and began to write a few articles on the origin of the war. Since "The
Monster," he had attempted nothing of a sustained or exhausting character.
It was not long before his letters became filled with anxiety over the
distance between us, and he began to write--jestingly, to be sure--of acute
indigestion, which, gripping him suddenly and sharply, had dropped like a
vulture out of the air. As he expressed it, "Karma has me, not by the
heels, at last, but by the solar plexus first." Added to the distress in
his legs, which he finally admitted, were these attacks, so sharp and
severe that after the slightest exertion he had to sit down faint from the
pain. Had the war been over he was in no condition to take a journey. Miss
G----afterward told me that he had greatly minimized the seriousness of his
condition in writing me of it. Still his hope of returning to England
persisted. The letters which followed me to Scotland, Ireland and back to
England again were full of it.

Barring the little apartment in Washington Heights where Miss S---- made
him welcome, offering such assistance and comfort as she could, and Miss
G----, who suggested physicians and did all she could for his benefit, he
went nowhere and saw no one. Had I known of the kindness and assistance so
freely given by Miss S----, it would have relieved my mind concerning him.
Unfortunately it was only after his death that I was able to thank her for
all this.

By 1916 Mr. Saltus realized his condition better, and reading between the
lines of his letters I offered to return. Passage was taken, but because
of the unrestricted submarining the boat was at the last moment withdrawn.
Owing to the censor, cables as well as letters were delayed. The worry of
it all made Mr. Saltus go down hill rapidly. In connection with this an
incident occurred which affected Mr. Saltus horribly, and through no fault
of either his or mine. It is so touching, so indicative of his finest
sweetness and most endearing qualities, that it is not out of place here.

During the summer of 1913 we had met a very interesting Hindu of exalted
position. A mutual interest in occultism drew us together, and thereafter
he became one of our play persons, Mr. Saltus teasing me with the remark:--

"When you elope with I----, it will give me an excuse for following you to
India, and India is the Mecca of my dreams."

"If it comes to the worst and you can see it no other way, I will do my
best to accommodate you," was the usual reply.

One can joke over a matter face to face, but war and distance give it
another complexion. In a letter of mine, solely to amuse him, I mentioned
that I had been out for tea with I----, and ended with the remark, "So
don't give up your hope of India."

It was Mr. Saltus' custom as well as my own to write in the upper left-hand
corner of our letters, "via Mauretania," or via this or that fast boat, in
order that our letters would go the speediest way. Owing to the censor they
were delayed at best, and then arrived five or six at a time. After this
letter with the joke concerning I----, I wrote again almost at once, with
"via Mauretania" in the corner as usual. Repairs being necessary, this
particular boat was withdrawn for a fortnight, and my letter stupidly held
over till its next crossing. All of this neither of us knew. What Mr.
Saltus did know was that ten days went by without a line from me: a thing
so unprecedented that it bowled him over completely. During this time I
went down to Brighton for a week, which delayed my next letter, and caused
the cables which came from him to be opened, delayed, and reopened, before
reaching me, for resorts on the sea were under special scrutiny. Hearing
nothing from his cables, Mr. Saltus sent others to two friends, neither of
which were delivered, as the friends happened to be in France at the time.
When these finally reached me in a bundle I was both horrified and
overcome. Rushing to the cable office I sent the following: "No one but
Snipps. Written constantly. At Brighton for the weekend. Eternamente.
Mowgy." This I believed would set his mind at rest. Worse was to follow.
After being held for some time the cable was not only returned to me, but
it was discovered that I had omitted to register as a foreigner, and I was
regarded with a certain amount of suspicion. Snipps, Mowgy, and
Eternamente, were not English words, and I was required to explain them. It
was a terrible mess. In the meantime a letter came from Mr. Saltus. So
extraordinary is it,--so unlike the letter of the average male,--that its
words are burned into my heart. That letter alone lifted him beyond and
above the majority of his sex. After telling of his anxiety and the absence
of letters it reads as follows:--

"... Do not think I am scolding you--and don't let me worry you either. I
am not physically ill. I have only had a shock, and that prevents me from
working. A few days ago I wrote you that I supposed I had not heard because
the ships were delayed by storm and fog. Well, I waited hopefully. The
storm passed, the fogs lifted and the ships came in. No letter. That was
the shock, and was horrible. I cabled to the Brunswick, cabled also to the
American Express and to Miss F----, and received no reply. My eyes look
dreadfully, all blurred and red. I am not ill, but I might just as well be.
I don't know when I will have the courage to look in my letter box. You
will never know how horrible it is to look in and find it empty. It is as
though I had a crack over the head, and a blow in the stomach. But there,
little kit-cat, provided you are not hurt or ill no matter about me.
Anyway, God willing and God grant it, I will get an answer to this. In
cabling say only, "Well, and safe, Mowgy." Don't send it deferred rates,
for every hour of waiting is agony. It ought to reach me on the second by
noon. If it doesn't? Well, Mowgy, then in that case remember this. Always,
whatever you do or omit, I shall love you just the same. Always whatever
you do I will forgive it. You are my little world and will be until the
end. And just this, my darling: try and write that you forgive me for
anything I have done or said which I ought not to. Remember that you are my
all and that you can always return to me without thought of censure on my
part. My little girl--if I could only stop crying. E."

This incident upset me frightfully. It proved that Mr. Saltus must be in a
critical condition mentally, to be imagining such wild and impossible
things, and that he needed care. There was still no sign of the war coming
to an end, and whether or not a home in England would be advisable under
the changed conditions was open to question, for we were suffering acutely,
not only for food, but for light, heat and other necessities.

Risking the submarines and the unforeseen, I sailed for the States. Mr.
Saltus met me at the dock. Lack of exercise had made him too stout by far,
he looked puffy, and every few feet he had to stop, for between the pain in
his legs and the flatulence he was in bad shape.

He took me to the Hotel Broztel in East 27th Street, not only because it
was only around the corner from his rooms, but because he had ascertained
that our dog would be welcome there.

Mr. Saltus' usual method of assuring Toto's reception was an amusing one.
Going to the office of the hotel, wherever we happened to be, he would say
to the room clerk:--

"I want to know if there is any objection to children?"

He was of course assured that there was none.

"But my child is not like other children," he would say. "She has a fancy
for running about in the organism of a dog. That is all there is of dog
about her,--the rest is far more human than yourself."

At that stage in the conversation the man at the desk would begin looking
around to see if there was a keeper with him, and if help could be obtained
quickly. When this uneasiness became apparent, I would stroll up with Toto,
who, putting her paws on the desk, woofing and going through her paces,
would so intrigue the room clerk that he would forget Mr. Saltus and decide
that the crazy owners of such a clever creature could be accommodated.

In connection with hotels and Toto, Mr. Saltus had an original way of
putting our names on the register. It savoured of sarcasm and a slap at me
in the bargain, but he always insisted that it was neither, and insisted
upon the following:--

    Mrs. Edgar Saltus and Dog     New York City
         Edgar Saltus             New York City



CHAPTER XV


It was during my stay at the Hotel Broztel that an incident occurred, small
in itself, but so characteristic of Mr. Saltus that it is included in order
to show his many-sidedness. As I have said before, Mr. Saltus and I when by
ourselves never chatted in rational English. From the early days of our
acquaintance, when for the first time he was brought in contact with pets,
he adopted as his own, and never relinquished, the baby language in which I
always addressed them, and it became ours. He not only delighted in using
it, but the vocabulary increased after he took it over. This is easily
accounted for when one realizes the muted days of his early life, so filled
with dread and discord, when he was afraid to play like other children,
afraid to say anything, and with no outlet in the way of pets, on which he
could expend his natural playfulness and lavish his love.

In writing of our various conversations, the language which we invariably
used when alone has been omitted, for the reason that it would be difficult
to understand, and that the deciphering of it would confuse and delay the
meaning. In my estimation it added to Mr. Saltus' charm and was a key to
the simplicity of his real nature, but to the public it would appear
trivial, if not absurd. One incident, however, is amusing.

Coming into my rooms one day, Mr. Saltus exclaimed:--

"What drivelling fools some men make of themselves! Here I have been for
ten minutes at the Manhattan, trying to get you on the telephone. The wires
were crossed, and I had to listen to drivel of the most nauseous kind
between a man and a woman. He, anyway, should be shot. A woman may be
forgiven for twaddle--but a man never."

"What did they say?" I asked.

"Oh--the man kept calling her honey-bunch, cutikins, and lollypop. It was
rot of the worst kind. Then she replied, calling him sugar plum and tootsy
wootsy and tiddley-winks. Lord, what fools some people make of themselves!"

He went out on some business after a while. Later in the day my telephone
rang. It was Mr. Saltus on the wire. Here is the conversation which
followed:--

"Miaw, Miaw, little Puss."

"Miaw."

"Little fur smoothed down and little taily waving in the air?" (I was
always supposed to be a Persian kitten.)

"Miaw."

"Wants to lap up keemy and nibbst fish at the Prince George for your
din-din?"

"Miaw!"

"Baby Totesikins love her Pasy and want din-din also? Lift her up to
answer."

(Toto lifted in my arms to the telephone, long practice having made her
adept.)

"Baby wants nice bickies?"

"Woof! Woof!"

"Loves, Pasy?"

"Woof." (Toto put down.)

"There, little Puffikins, Snippsy orders nice din for both. Says he good
old dog Tray. Says he satisfactory scoundrel."

Laughter.

"What are you laughing at?"

"At drivel of the most nauseous kind between a man and a woman. He at least
ought to be shot."

Laughter from the other end.

Never until that moment had Mr. Saltus realized what our conversation must
sound like to an outsider and an uninitiate. It brought us both up with a
jerk. Thereafter Mr. Saltus wrote "tolerance," and, underlining the word,
added it to a list he had made.

During the time Mr. Saltus had been alone in New York, one of his greatest
distractions and relaxations was taking his daughter Elsie, a débutante,
for tea or for luncheon. Tall, graceful, oriental in colouring like
himself, he not only admired her for her beauty but enjoyed her new and
refreshing angle on life. Chatting with her was both restful and
stimulating to him. In one sense she was a complete stranger to him, having
lived apart for so many years. In another, she was so close that everything
concerning her, no matter how slight, was of profound importance. As he had
no near relatives and saw nothing whatever of his many cousins, she
represented the only tie of blood in the world.

The circumstances were unfortunate. Living with a sister of her mother's,
who, obviously, could not be expected to welcome him with outstretched
arms, she met her father as a rule in restaurants. That was formal and less
conducive to intimacy than seeing a parent in moments of rest and
relaxation. Accepting this as the inevitable result of things, Mr. Saltus
looked forward to the time when in a home of her own he would feel free to
visit his daughter early, often and informally, and reach the bedrock of
her very charming self. This seemed about to be realized, when, soon after
her début, she became engaged to one of the finest, most dependable and
altogether delightful of men,--J. Theus Munds,--and a date for the wedding
was set.

[Illustration: MRS. J. THEUS MUNDS

The Daughter of

EDGAR SALTUS

And Her Little Son]

Any idea of going to the wedding reception was beyond Mr. Saltus' wildest
dreams. Added to his abhorrence of crowds and festivities he was too ill
for such an affair. A look into the church was the most he was capable of.
Had father and daughter understood one another better, what followed need
never have happened. Invitations were sent to us--but for the church only.
Cards to the reception were omitted. A whip lash across his face would have
hurt Mr. Saltus less. It bowled him over. Nothing would have induced him to
go in any event, but the knowledge that he, her father, was purposely
omitted was a knife in the back. Appreciating why his presence would have
been not only unwelcome but an embarrassment, he expected others to have
understood that he would have looked upon the invitation as an act of
courtesy only.

Vainly I tried to put it before him as I saw it, explaining and extenuating
the omission. It failed to have the desired effect. Mr. Saltus took it that
I, too, was turning against him. It was a hopeless muddle. Had his daughter
been older at the time, and more experienced, and had she known him better,
it could have been avoided so easily. Had she gone to him explaining the
situation, he would not only have urged her to omit him but entered
sympathetically into her viewpoint. The invitations were not sent out by
her, and she could not, without directly offending her aunt, have given one
over her head. Acting as many another has when in doubt, she did nothing
and was silent, believing that in the years to come it would be explained
and made right between them. Mr. Saltus never overlooked it. Not until he
lay in his coffin and that closed forever, did she come under the same roof
with him again.

The following winter Mr. Saltus just escaped pneumonia, and was weakened by
its effects, so we decided to try housekeeping again. It was a brave
venture. He wanted his meals when he wanted them. A set time for anything
irritated him beyond endurance. Handicapped by a wife who frequently forgot
that the ordering depended upon herself, and who was lost in abstract space
when she should have found her way to the grocers or even to the telephone
in time, it was beginning under difficulties.

Having a fancy for the atmosphere of Columbia University, which was his
Alma Mater, we took an apartment in The Arizona, 508 West 114th Street,
directly opposite the oval. It savoured of the country out there, adding
the convenience of being between Riverside Drive and Morningside Park,
where, his increasing lameness permitting, Mr. Saltus was able to go and
rest. With the realization of his age and infirmities his desire to get
away from the world increased by leaps and bounds, for not only did he wish
to avoid people, but he even disliked to have them know where he lived.
Long accustomed to being taken for my father, that did not trouble him.
But walking painfully with a stick, and stopping at intervals to take
peppermint for the acute indigestion, which attacked him when in motion,
humiliated him intensely. The sympathy in the faces of those who passed
him, a sympathy sometimes expressed in words, was more agonizing even than
the pain. In order to keep his home a secret retreat, where, like a wounded
animal, he could hide in silence, he continued giving the Manhattan Club as
his address.

While formerly Mr. Saltus had enjoyed having me take a walk with him, he
now avoided it. Toto only was permitted to accompany him.

"My God," he would exclaim when questioned, "I may be a cripple, but I am
not blind. I can see what people are thinking--'That poor girl tied to an
old derelict!'"

Ridiculous as this was, Mr. Saltus could not be persuaded out of it. For
the same reason he refused to get into a street car with me. To sit, and
let me stand beside him, as might happen if the car were crowded, was a
chance he did not mean to take.

Specialists diagnosed his trouble as Reynous disease, an affliction most
unusual in this part of the world,--of slow growth, but leading inevitably
to a wheeled chair. The prospect appalled him. My father had been confined
to one for many years, and Mr. Saltus knew what it meant.

"Karma has taken my legs from under me," he exclaimed again and again.

I invented cases of cure for him, but in my absence one day he consulted a
physician, who had not been coached in the matter, and he told him the
truth. The blow was terrific. Realizing that he must keep his mind occupied
or go under, he started to write "The Paliser Case." The plot was not new.
It was "The Perfume of Eros" in a new frock. He was not writing so much to
create as to fight the constant pain in his legs. His condition was an
embarrassing one to his pride. When the pain attacked him, he had to sit
down there and then, or fall down. To be compelled to rest on copings,
doorsteps or curbstones, as the case might be, was tragic, and yet it was
more tragic to remain a prisoner in the house. My mother gave him a small
camp chair, and this upon occasions he took with him in case of
emergencies.

One specialist after another was called, for between the indigestion and
his legs, he was in perpetual torture. Rebellious at first, at what seemed
a tragic and trivial end to his eventful life, Mr. Saltus brought his
philosophy into concrete use, realizing that the lesson of patience was
what he needed most, and was now in a position to acquire. With the
acceptance of his afflictions as karma, and adjusting his mind to the idea
of the wheeled chair, it lost its power to hurt him. Removing from my
bureau a card I had stuck in the glass, he put it in his. It was a
quotation from the Gitâ, which read:--"Taking as equal pleasure and pain,
gain or loss, victory or defeat, thou shalt not incur sin." From that hour
he complained no longer, although complications and sorrow piled on in
rapid succession.

Before telling of them, another incident should be given in its proper
sequence. In giving some of Mr. Saltus' clothes to a tailor for pressing, a
letter fell out of one of the pockets. It was a note from his Los Angeles
friend Miss S----, of whom he had told me that he had lost all trace. Sent
from abroad, it was directed to the Manhattan Club. It was not the simple
note or the friendship which angered me at the moment, but his stupid and
needless denials regarding it. Although I knew, better than anyone else
could have done, how impossible it was for him to face momentary
unpleasantness, this was too much. I went to him and said,

"Well, Snipps, you are a clever prevaricator, but in this you have been a
plain ass. A spineless jellyfish must give place to it. Judas and Ananias
combined could take lessons from you with profit. Here you are ready to
cross the river Styx and take the remnants of a misspent life into
Avitchi." (The lower astral plane. Its lessons and condition were a subject
which tormented Mr. Saltus more than a little. Darkness always appalled
him, and he dreaded detention there.)

It was a cruel thrust on my part, said on the impulse of the moment. Mr.
Saltus went white to the lips.

"That you can say such a thing over nothing!" he gasped. "I could not risk
the reminders of Dorothy S----, which you would have treated me to had I
told you."

His usual comeback about the "subordinate entity" and the "submerged It,"
failed him then. The lower astral plane with all its horrors, then
uppermost in his mind, was recalled by my chance remark. He went off into
hysterics, of so serious a nature that it ended by his going to bed.
Complicating his other disabilities was heart trouble, and he was taking
nitroglycerine at the time. There was nothing to do but put a sponge over
the incident and make light of it.

This I did, so convincingly that a few days later he began to call:--

"Little Anny feels ill," or "Little Anny wants to come in and sit down
beside you,"--"Anny" being his abbreviation for Ananias.

It is a pity that Mr. Saltus was never frank with me over this friendship.
Knowing my faults and limitations as no one else could, he knew also that
smallness was not one of them, and that bigness and fineness on his part
always engendered in me the desire to meet it in kind.

Had he but told me how greatly Miss S----had ministered to his comfort
during my absence in England, when he was ill and alone,--how she had
overseen his mending, and, studying the needs of a dyspeptic, had prepared
meals for him in her little apartment many a time, I would have been
sympathetic.

Miss S---- came into Mr. Saltus' life shortly after his illness in Los
Angeles, to which I have referred, and at the moment when he was turning
from the material to the spiritual. The understanding of occultism, which
came to him in a blinding flash, was such that he could think and talk of
little else. Miss S----, whose unusual personality and fluid mind rendered
her susceptible to new impacts, was very much interested in what he told
her along these lines. As she has put it to me since Mr. Saltus' death, "He
came into my life like a Buddha, bringing enlightenment."

With thirty-five years' difference in their ages, and meeting him only when
he was past middle life, she saw in him a great teacher--and he saw in her
a rarely sensitive soul full of possibilities.

These potentialities were developed after Miss S---- went to New York, and
soon placed her in a position of importance and responsibility.

She could not see in Mr. Saltus, as I did, a being who step by step had
mounted a ladder of light on the rungs of his dead selves. She saw only
the finished product, for the process of refinement, by which his greater
qualities had been separated from the lesser, covered a long period of
years.

Some of those who read this biography will say that Mr. Saltus may have
been glad to escape at times from a home where animals were given so much
attention. This remark has in fact been made to me by those who can judge
only from the surface of things. The fabric of this criticism is, however,
less substantial than moonlight. During the latter years of Mr. Saltus'
life much of Miss S----'s time was spent abroad. When Mr. Saltus saw her,
as he did frequently during her intermissions in New York, he but left his
home environment to go into a similar one. High-strung, nervous and
temperamental, Miss S---- had the animal complex as strongly as I. Her
apartment was never without one or two pets whose comfort, well being and
happiness were her constant pre-occupation. Had he found these conditions
under his own roof unpleasant, he would not have gone out of his way to
duplicate them elsewhere.

Not long after Mr. Saltus' death, Miss S----and myself visited the
Bide-a-Wee Home for Animals, of which I was a director. On our return home
we noticed a poor lost cat trying to cross the street through densely
congested traffic. With one accord we stood still, holding our breath, our
hands clenched in agony, till the cat reached the further side in safety.
Our reactions were not only immediate, but identical.

I make no attempt to go into the whys and wherefores of it all, nor do I
offer an explanation. The facts are as I have stated. An elucidation of
them is work for a psychiatrist.



CHAPTER XVI


Toward the end of 1918, and after a short and unexpected illness, our Toto,
who had walked beside us for over ten years, passed over. To write of it
even now is acute pain. The loss was like that of an only and uniquely
beloved child. We were stunned, and in spite of my philosophy I went to
pieces as I had never done in my life. It was over this heart-breaking
event that Mr. Saltus displayed his extraordinary qualities.

"I wish you would have little Totesy's body cremated and her ashes kept and
mingled with mine," he said.

Astonishment brought the reply,

"I never realized that you loved her so deeply."

"Nor did I until now, but it is not only that. Husbands may come and go,
but there can never be but one Toto," he said. "With whom do you wish to
be buried?"

I was silent.

"There, you have answered me," he said after a pause. "I am sure you are
planning to be buried in the Dogs' Cemetery in Hartsdale. Do as I ask. Let
Toto's ashes and mine be mingled,--then, no matter where you go or what you
do in the future, yours too will rest with mine at the last."

His wishes were carried out, and the ashes of the little being we loved so
deeply are mixed with his own. Under a modest head-stone on which is
engraved his name and the word "Eternamente," but a few feet from the
monument covering the remains of his brother Frank, their ashes rest
waiting to include my own.

This death cast a profound sadness over us. From comparative health, I went
into a state of collapse and prolapsis such as I had never suffered before.
Too ill and too indifferent even to speak, unless absolutely necessary,
our apartment became a place of silence. It was the most awful winter of
our lives, but to his credit it must be said that Mr. Saltus not only never
uttered a complaint but pretended all the time that his legs were rapidly
getting better.

An unfortunate lease chained us to the depressing surroundings. It scourged
Mr. Saltus' very soul to see me in such a condition and be powerless to
help, for all he ever asked of me was to smile. When I could not do that,
his world became night. He would sit beside my bed, the foot of which was
elevated to an uncomfortable degree, and chat at length and delightfully on
the interesting mysteries of antiquity in his effort to divert my mind.

It was then he started on "The Imperial Orgy." Taking some articles he had
written for Munsey's Magazine years before as a base, he undertook, with
the aid of some up-to-date books and notes he had gathered together during
the years, to make a volume. Writing was not as easy as it had once been.
It required an effort he had never before experienced. Added to this, he
took on a new job. For a man of letters it was an extraordinary thing.
Unacquainted with any detail of housekeeping, hating the petty,
uninteresting trifles necessary to it, it was a far step for him to
undertake ordering the meals and going to market. Upon occasions when for
one cause or another the maid failed to appear of a morning, he even made
my tea and toast and brought them to my bedside.

All the time he pretended to have a fancy for this. The shops on Amsterdam
Avenue in the immediate vicinity of our apartment got to know him well. Now
and again he would come in and say:--

"I went into a shop around the corner and a young lady jumped into my arms,
licked my nose and tickled my ear with her tail. Don't tell me I am not a
winner with the women."

I had to smile at that. The "young lady" was an Angora cat who embellished
a shop in the neighborhood. To the amusement of her owner and the
customers, she would jump on Mr. Saltus' shoulders as soon as he appeared,
and, wrapping herself about his neck like a scarf, would purr loudly. That
cat pleased him enormously, and he was never tired of telling me about her.
It was her purr which made him a constant patron of the shop.

Mr. Saltus had a profound interest in the enigmas of the past, and knowing
I was keen also, he would sit on the foot of my bed and chat for hours
concerning the Gates of Babylon, the astrological orientation of the
Pyramids, Tyre, Carthage and the Incas. He was at his best during these
times,--profound, epigrammatic and cynical by turns. The pity of it is that
he had no audience but myself. He could have held any assemblage
spell-bound for any length of time.

It was at this sad time, and during my breakdown which followed, that Mr.
Saltus gave fullest expression to the understanding, sympathetic and tender
side of his nature. These qualities he always possessed in a superlative
degree, and they were the leaven which made him unique among men. So
certain was I always of his attitude toward me, that it was my habit to run
to him with a cut finger or an obsolete word. Whatever the case, my needs
were answered immediately.

When I turned to him as usual, but with a breaking heart, he comforted me
as he alone could. Night after night, when sleep dissolved into a mirage,
he sat by my bed and read aloud to me. Algernon Blackwood was a great
favorite with both of us. Some novel of his was always on Mr. Saltus' desk.
I could not count the times he read the short stories in "Dr. Silence"
aloud to me, and after reading discussed the various themes on which they
were constructed. Talbot Mundy is another for whom Mr. Saltus had a great
admiration, and his books were substituted when we began to know "Dr.
Silence" by heart. He never asked me if I would like to have him read to
me, or what particular books I fancied. He always knew, and brought the
volume suited to my mood of the moment. Swinburne sang and scintillated
through him many and many an evening, and no one could give the lights and
shades, the flow and flavour of his verse, as Mr. Saltus did. He adored
Swinburne. At other times Keats' "Nightingale" trilled in the twilight.

This was when I could be read to and diverted, but there were times when I
was too ill and miserable to listen. Then Mr. Saltus would take me on his
lap and rock me as one would a child, singing little songs he made up as he
rocked. He had done this often during the years, but never with such
tenderness as at this time.

A friend of mine to whom I gave a rough draft of this biography to read,
said:

"Did you never do anything but quarrel with Mr. Saltus?"

That remark surprised me into reading it over in a new light. Then I saw
what she meant. So much of our life together was quiet, uneventful and
peaceful, that to bring out Mr. Saltus' many-sidedness, I have given
prominence to incidents of various kinds--exceptional happenings, rather
than our everyday life. As a matter of fact our life together was
exceptionally harmonious.

It has been said by my critics, and with a great deal of truth, that I am
the last woman on earth Mr. Saltus should have married. No one appreciates
this fact better than I do--and this in spite of our similar tastes and
temperament. A genius should never marry. There is that in his nature which
not only unfits him for the limitations of conventional existence, but
diverts and distracts his imaginative faculty and creative ability. If a
genius marries at all, it should be to find not only a pillow for his
moods, eccentricities and weariness, but a being who, merging her
personality in his, supplements, and that unconsciously, such qualities as
he may need in his work. The wife of a genius should lead his life
alone--be able to anticipate his needs and supply them, so unobtrusively
that he accepts her services without knowing it.

Although anxious to do this, I could not. It was temperamentally
impossible, however much I tried to bring it about. Many factors were at
the base of this inability,--my frailty as a child and the continuous care
given to me in consequence; added to this was the disparity in our ages,
which tinged Mr. Saltus' attitude toward me with that of a father. His
former unhappy marriages had left their mark, and made him desire to be
father, mother, husband and protector to me.

Coming into my life at the age and in the way he did, he was Edgar Saltus
the man, never the author, to me, his work being lost in his personality.
This was what he wanted, and, as he frequently expressed it:--

"To the world I am Edgar Saltus the author, but thank God, I can be merely
Mr. Me to you."

Times without number I tried to make myself over into the kind of wife a
literary man should have, but with the same results. However much I tried
to conceal these efforts, Mr. Saltus would see them and say:--

"Do stop trying to be somebody else, and be my little girl again. You think
you know the kind of a woman I should have married. Perhaps you do, but I
would have killed her ages and ages ago. Do be yourself. I wouldn't have
you changed by a hair."

However much he was deluded, it was by himself, for I always told him that
I was the last woman in the world he should have selected.



CHAPTER XVII


During this winter the distress in Mr. Saltus' legs increased to such a
degree that it took him ten minutes to walk from the Arizona to the corner
of Amsterdam Avenue, a distance of only a few yards. Most of the time he
went in a taxi, but even getting out of one and walking the length of the
hall to the elevator, was so tiresome and so painful that he had to sit in
the lobby for fifteen minutes or more before coming upstairs.

Speaking of elevators, brings back Mr. Saltus' chronic objection to meeting
people. It had increased with the years so as to become almost an
obsession. He would wait any length of time in the lobby of the Arizona,
rather than get in an elevator if there was anyone else in it. He was
afraid someone might speak to him. When I had visitors (which, owing to my
illness and his aversion, was infrequent) he would shoot past the
living-room and down the hall to his study, forcing his tortured legs to
such activity that it often took him hours to recover from the effects of
it.

A year passed after the death of our beloved Toto,--a year so like inferno,
that even to think of it makes me shudder. With Mr. Saltus' helplessness it
was a toss-up which of us was in the worse condition. I looked up one day
to find him weeping. When questioned he said:--

"I wish we could die together, before you lose your reason entirely. While
I live I can take care of you no matter what happens, but after----? It's
killing me to watch you open bureau drawers and stand there striving to
think why you opened them: to see you grasp the top of your head trying to
remember. All these years you have surmounted everything. Now only, you
cannot make the grade, poor child. Death should be meaningless to one who
understands it as you do. Cannot you make your philosophy concrete?"

It was hard, but it made me take notice. A strait-jacket and a padded cell
sprang into the perspective with his words, and the selfishness of sorrow
stared me in the face. For the first time I realized what, in my
indifference to everything, I had become, and it stunned me. While this was
sinking in he spoke again:--

"I will be with little Toto so soon, and we will wait together until you
come over. You know as well as I do that your tears are vitriol on her
spirit, retarding her evolution. For God's sake never agonize over me,
unless you want to keep me earthbound and in prison."

Not one man in a million would have lived under the conditions he accepted
in silence for over a year. The average good husband would have left and
asked for a divorce. Mr. Saltus not only never complained, but was
concerned only for me. From that hour I decided to pull myself together.

By the time "The Imperial Orgy" was finished, Mr. Saltus was in such bad
shape that it was hazardous for him to leave the house alone. Twice he
dropped in the street with heart attacks. The "flu" epidemic coming on, his
infection-complex swam into evidence again. He ceased going in public
conveyances, and took a taxi whenever he thought it necessary to go out. A
handkerchief saturated with camphor held to his nose, he took the chance
now and again. Although he carried a card with his name and address in his
pocket, it was always with dread that I saw him leave the apartment. A
flask of whisky was in another pocket, a bottle of peppermint and tablets
of nitroglycerin were in a third, and yet he was really in no shape to go
at all.

It was after a sudden heart attack in the street, that I decided he must
remain indoors till physicians could tell more definitely about his
condition. The "flu" epidemic offered the chance I had been looking for.
Had I come into the open and told him I was fearful he might be brought
home in an ambulance, he would have died there and then at my feet. The
impossibility of telling him anything unpleasant was a handicap. I was
obliged to keep up the pleasing fiction that he was getting better every
day, and to say that the increasing lameness and pain were but results of
the treatment he was undergoing to effect a permanent cure. Any
over-anxiety on my part would have been disastrous. Knowing his reactions,
I said quite casually one day:--

"You must have to wait longer to pick up taxis these days."

"Why?" he asked in surprise.

"Because in default of enough ambulances, they are in such demand taking
patients to the hospitals."

The implication was successful--Jean, the tree and the bubonic plague
became as trifles compared to an infectious taxi.

"Great Heavens! I never thought of that," he exclaimed. "Are you sure?"

"I know only what I read and hear, but it may not be true," I said.

That was enough. It was weeks and weeks before Mr. Saltus could be
persuaded to leave the apartment. Meanwhile, the plot of "The Ghost Girl"
was occupying his mind. Though the central situation was one he had used
before, in a short story called "A Bouquet of Illusions," he hoped to
justify his use of it again by his amplification of it.

When the plot was mapped out, he announced that he was ready to start work,
and "the kennel" could be cleaned up. "The kennel" referred to his study,
which I have described elsewhere, and which at that time resembled a cross
between a junk-shop and an ash-heap. It was cleaned only between novels,
the débris of one being removed to make a place for another.

During this time Mr. Saltus was undergoing treatments of various kinds with
no apparent improvement. Day after day we went from one specialist to
another, seeking and hoping. It was tragic, and he was very brave about it,
smiling and joking about his condition, worrying because it worried me.

When the weather was inviting we would walk the short block to Morningside
Park and sit there an entire afternoon, enjoying the green. Trees
interested Mr. Saltus,--old trees especially. When we sat down our seat
became the magic carpet, and we alighted among the druids in an enchanted
wood. We followed their festivals, picked out their occult symbols and
searched for the mistletoe. We found ourselves surrounded by the spirits of
the trees, and became a part of an evolution other than human. Nature
spirits, gnomes and fairies peeped in and out of the shrubs, as Mr. Saltus'
imagination soared on delightfully. There was no pain in this world,--no
mundane muddle to mess it up. Living more or less in a subjective universe,
our rambles in thought were better tonics than medicine to him. Pan lived
again, while nymphs and satyrs chased through the brush at our feet.

Day after day we sat there on the same seat and in a dream world, till the
sun beginning to sink, and the chill in the air which followed, recalled
Mr. Saltus to aching legs and a man-made world.

Realizing as I did then that his condition was critical, it seemed the
moment to effect a reconciliation with his daughter. The long hours he had
to spend shut in an apartment would have been brightened by her presence.
During this time we had written one another at intervals, and she knew that
I would do my best to bring it about. Photographs of her in various places
in our rooms, although not referred to by Mr. Saltus, helped to keep her in
mind. One day, while we were on the subject of parents and children, I
thought the psychological moment had arrived, and, reversing the role a
stepmother is supposed to take, I led up to the subject, suggesting that I
ask Mrs. Munds and her husband up to see him. Ill as he was, Mr. Saltus
flamed.

"Thou too, Brutus!" he exclaimed. "You, too, are going to fail me at last?
That I have lived to this!"

It was the one subject on which he could not talk rationally. From his
reaction I could see how much he loved her, for only a great affection can
be hurt so deeply.

"If you want to kill me, send for her. I will know then that my case is
hopeless, and between you it most certainly will be."

It was futile to persist. I could not make him see that she had not put him
out of her life deliberately. That was his view of it. Having been put out,
he refused to go back. In his condition arguments reacted badly upon his
heart.

There was a time when the papers meant much to Mr. Saltus. For an hour, at
least, every morning he would absorb them with his coffee and rolls. They
meant not only material for articles, but links with the world from which
he was shut off. With his increasing disability his interest in the papers
waned, and he would scan the headlines only and read a few book reviews.
There was one reviewer who especially interested him. Frequently of a
Sunday morning he would call out:--

"Anything worth while in the paper to-day?"

This meant one thing. If there was a book review or an article by Benjamin
de Cassères it was worth while, and that part of the paper was taken in to
him. If not, it could wait until he had an idle moment during the day. Mr.
Saltus admired de Cassères' work very much. He used to chuckle over it, and
say:--

"That man was born a hundred years too soon."

The pity was that, admiring each other as they did, they never met. The
hermit habit had so encroached with the years, that it had become
impossible for Mr. Saltus even to think of meeting people in the flesh,
however much he admired them in the spirit. His world becoming subjective
more and more each day as he internalized, objective existence became
shadowy and unsatisfying. With entire unselfishness he concerned himself
more and more for me, always a frail and fragile being in his eyes, one
possessing little physical strength to fight her way alone in a sordid and
selfish world. The fear of it haunted him.

"I'm a pretty ill man, am I not, Mowgy?" he asked me one day. "It will not
kill me to die, but I should be prepared."

"Indisposed for the moment," I told him. "Now that you can eat and grow
young again, I may have to take out an insurance at Lloyd's against someone
stealing you."

This remark, no matter how often I made it, pleased him. He hated the idea
of being old in my eyes, almost as much as hearing disagreeable things. The
pleasing lies he loved were tonics, and I had to be very diplomatic with
him.

"Yes, I am on the mend a bit,--but you never know."

Subconsciously he knew that he could not live long at best, but objectively
he was always talking of getting better and planning for the future. On
this occasion, however, he kept repeating "You never know" several times,
following it with the remark:--

"I've been an incident to you,--a big one, but only an incident after all."

It was not like him to repeat himself, and I asked what he meant by it.
What follows I have put in and taken out of this biography several times.
There is too much concerning myself in it to be of interest to the public,
and yet the unusual nature and quality of Mr. Saltus' mind are nowhere more
forcefully exemplified.

"You might be my child. You may marry again some day?" he said.

"I might be struck by a comet or tumble on the third rail, with more
probability. Jamais! Having broken you in has taken me to the door of the
asylum. No more experiments. My arm is tired from wielding a
cat-o'-nine-tails."

"Quite so, but all literary men are not 'litterers,' and all men are not
literary. You might select more wisely next time."

"Disabuse your mind of that," I told him. "Such small wisdom as I have
acquired has been paid for too dearly. Besides, there is only one Snipps,
and no one else would understand me."

"That's it," he said. "I was awake half of last night thinking about it.
It's an awful thing to leave a helpless little girl all alone in a world of
demons and vultures. The possibility haunts me."

"Then take your medicine like a good boy and stay here to look after me,"
he was told. "If it comes to a wheeled chair, I will wheel it, and we will
go to California and live under blue skies and rose bushes, or to India,
and sit at Mrs. Besant's feet."

This comforted him. Although he spoke constantly of dying, and quite as a
matter of course, it was to be contradicted. He knew it was possible, but
never did he admit that it was probable. The next day opened with a
surprise. On my breakfast tray was the following, carefully written in Mr.
Saltus' best copper-plate hand:--


THE TEN COMMANDMENTS FOR MY SUCCESSOR.

Read, mark, learn and inwardly reject.

     1.--Thou shalt have no other God before or behind
     Mowgy. She will be supreme or nothing. Safety first.

     2.--Few people will ever understand Mowgy. You will get
     the key quickly or never. If you haven't it,--run.

     3.--Mowgy must have her own way entirely and in all
     things. It makes her ill to be contended with. Besides,
     her way is usually the best in the end. Save trouble
     and take it first.

     4.--Mowgy can never be questioned. The slightest
     interrogation irritates her beyond expression. Let her
     alone. She is too frank for comfort. She will tell you
     everything sooner or later, and you will wish she
     hadn't.

     5.--Mowgy never remembers anything you ask her to do,
     unless it is vital or concerns animals. Don't expect
     it. On the plane where she lives, trifles do not
     exist. She forgets her own requirements. How can she
     remember yours?

     6.--Mowgy is no housekeeper. Her intentions, not the
     results, are excellent. If she remembers to order meals
     be thankful. If she doesn't, be thankful that she is as
     she is. Keep accounts at the nearest restaurants and
     shut up.

     7.--Mowgy is truthful. Don't ask her a question unless
     you want the unvarnished truth. It is better to take it
     varnished.

     8.--Mowgy never picks up anything. Absent-mindedness
     only. Look carefully under chairs and tables before
     leaving a place. Gold bags, money, jewelry or important
     papers may be on the floor. She will drop you if you
     are not on the alert to avoid it.

     9.--Mowgy does not live on this plane. Understand that
     clearly. She cannot be made to conform to the image and
     likeness of others. Don't try. You would not like her
     if you could make her over. Let well enough alone.

     10.--The foregoing are Mowgy's limitations from the
     normal viewpoint. You must be abnormal or this will not
     apply to you. If she takes you it will be to make you
     over. The process is crucifying but curative. You will
     wonder how you ever managed to live without her. She
     has a world of her own, and it is the best world I know
     of to live in. If you have a chance to get there, make
     a fight for it. She is the only one of her kind on
     earth. My blessing, E. S.

Such a document! Though written in jest, there was an undercurrent of
seriousness about it. One could not read it unmoved. From that paper alone
a psychologist could rebuild Edgar Saltus as he was. To me it is the most
characteristic bit of writing he left behind him.



CHAPTER XVIII


The manuscript of "The Ghost Girl" finished, one might have supposed Mr.
Saltus would take a rest, particularly as his heart became worse so rapidly
that nitroglycerin was necessary most of the time. Carl Van Vechten had
written of him so charmingly in The Merry-Go-Round, and with so much
insight, that Mr. Saltus was encouraged to keep on working, as it was the
only way in which he could lose himself for the time.

Sending the manuscript of "The Ghost Girl" to a typist at Columbia, he
suffered another periodical cleaning of his "kennel" and started in on the
outline of another novel. That also was an enlarged and amplified rendering
of an earlier book, torn to pieces and baked en casserole with an occult
sauce, to its enormous and entire benefit. He was not reminded of the fact
that the central situation had been used before. He was borrowing from
himself, to be sure, and it was quite permissible, but in other
circumstances I would have urged him to let his original creation stand. As
it was I was glad to see him begin it as soon as "The Ghost Girl" was off
his hands, realizing that he must have mental food and constant
distraction.

The lease on our apartment bothered Mr. Saltus. During the years "things"
had become relative to both of us. They had not only lost all value but
they had become transformed into fetters. To get rid of the encumbrance of
"things," and be free to pack a suitcase and go at will, was an intriguing
idea to him. In discussing it, and the process of elimination necessary to
reach the desired results, we agreed to get rid of all but two
articles,--the carved olive-wood table at which he had written most of his
books, and the arm-chair in which our little Toto had died. Mr. Saltus did
not live to see it, but "things"--all the things we wanted to get rid of
and forget,--are scattered now to the winds in every direction,--all but
the table and the chair.

[Illustration: MARIE SALTUS

Sitting at the Table on which her Husband wrote his Books, burning Incense
before a Siamese Buddha and meditating on a Stanza from the Bhagavad Gitâ.

From a Painting by Hope Bryson, 1925.]

That chair, were it endowed with speech, could tell volumes. The same
insight which expressed itself throughout so understandingly in regard to
my devotion to Toto did so again, and in so touching a way, that it is the
most vivid and enduring memory I have of Mr. Saltus.

The attacks of heart irregularity increasing, it became necessary for me to
feel his pulse at intervals and give him the tablets of nitroglycerin. As
soon as he felt one coming on he struggled through the hall into my room,
to sink into that arm-chair and put his hand out.

"Quick,--quick,--_Mowgy_. _Feel_ my pulse," he said, many and many a time.
"I think I'm sinking. Shall I take my medsy?" as he always called his
medicine.

It was a serious responsibility for a novice. Night or day, whenever he
felt an attack coming on, he went over the same route, and sank into the
same chair. It seemed such a waste of effort, when with a word he could
have called me to him. When I suggested as much he smiled, but continued
the slow and painful journey through the hall to my room. Upon one occasion
the effort to get there was such, that his hands were like ice and his lips
blue when he reached me. Sinking into the chair he looked at me, but the
hand he extended was not for me to feel his pulse, but to take in mine.
There was no need for words to tell me that he thought he was dying, having
used, as he believed, his last ounce of strength to reach his goal. With
the touch of his hand came the consciousness, clear as clairvoyance, that
it was his intention to die in that particular chair--if he could; and the
significance of it brought the tears to my eyes. He was determined that the
poignant memories of Toto, associated with the chair, should be so
interwoven with his own, that her chair as well as her ashes should become
indissolubly a part of himself. No touching act of his whole life so
stretched out and reached the inner recesses of my being as that one. It
wiped out a multitude of lesser things as the sun obliterates candle light.
With unerring intuition, he knew how this would penetrate more and more
with the years, till it would become indelibly stamped on my heart.

This, and one other incident, small in itself yet colossal in its
significance, and showing the sweet and sympathetic side of his nature,
stand in relief against his subsidiary weaknesses. Shortly before his
death, my father had, at Mr. Saltus' request, given him a small canvas, a
daub of daisies painted by me at the age of seven, and, crude as it was,
retained by an unusually devoted parent. Mr. Saltus was particularly
attached to it, and it hung in the room beside his bed. Over and over I
begged him to let me destroy the hideous thing, but he was up in arms at
the suggestion, replying every time:--

"After a while you can, for no one but Snipps shall have those daisies.
When I die I want you to put them in my hands and have them cremated with
me."

The day before his passing he referred to it again, exacting a promise that
I would do so,--and it was carried out. Though the subject of death was
constantly on his tongue, and he outlined the details he wanted carried out
for his funeral, it was more in the way of precaution than anything else,
that being a marked characteristic of his.

Sitting in the arm-chair by the window in my bed-room the month before his
passing, he looked out into the splendid immensity of the June sky and
chatted freely and happily about the Great Adventure.

"What a lot I must make good next life!" he exclaimed again and again. "I
did not realize the verities for so long. The light came late, but I cannot
lose it now, and I will build better next time."

His tortured body had become a prison to him.

"I'm tired of these old clothes," he told me over and over again. "I want
a new deal, to begin as a little boy once more. But in the interval of
freedom on the other side, I want to roam at will through the Halls of
Learning, to feed my soul with the food of the mental plane." That was his
prayer.

The cynic, the satirist, the jester with life, as the world believed him to
be,--false faces all--dissolved, and the real ego emerged, to play
hide-and-seek no longer. The timidity, the humility, to conceal which he
had assumed so much that he was not, spoke now:--

"Don't let a curious public come here to gaze at me after I am out of my
body. Let me be forgotten. I have done nothing worth while. It will be my
mistakes by which I will be remembered, if at all. Since I began to take
myself seriously in hand, I have lived in semi-obscurity. Let me go in the
same way. Don't put our address in the newspapers for a curious crowd to
come here. Have a simple Theosophical service over my old clothes,--and
for God's sake no black anywhere,--on yourself or about the place."

Assured by me that I would do so, he went on:--

"You have suffered so much that you are numb and immune. Let the sunshine
in and let the canary sing. Help my departing spirit by your poise and
power. Keep everyone away, and bury my ashes with your own hands."

Though talking of his transition almost constantly, Mr. Saltus was very
much like the woman who, being asked if she believed in ghosts, said, "No,
but I'm dreadfully afraid of them." Every hour or two he would refer to
what we would do when he regained his health. Rosy pictures of a rose
garden in California were painted, and delightful dreams of sitting under a
banyan tree at Mrs. Besant's feet took shape from the smoke of his
cigarettes.

Meanwhile the manuscript of Mr. Saltus' last novel, "The Golden Flood," was
sketched in the rough up to the middle of chapter twelve. The words did
not drop from his pen as they had once done. Weariness and effort crept in.
Though work to him was still a song, death was the refrain. Midsummer came.
Mr. Saltus, too ill by far to be taken into the country, seemed
nevertheless a little better.

He took a fancy for sitting on the roof of our apartment house. Taking up
camp chairs and pillows I arranged to make it comfortable for him, and he
sat there for hours, reading or chatting with me.

Toward the middle of July unusually hot weather made this lofty sitting
room doubly acceptable to him, for our apartment, being on the top of the
house, was painfully hot all night, though electric fans were kept running
at high speed in his bed-room and study. In these circumstances the cool
air of the roof offered freshness and relief.

Evening after evening we sat there looking down upon the city below, where
multiple electric lights and illuminated signs fought for supremacy, and
above to where the stars pierced the softness of evening. The height, the
silence, and the stars particularly, took us back more than twenty years to
the turret of the old Narragansett Casino, from which we had first looked
at them together, and we returned there many times in our chats.

"How much we have had to learn since those days," Mr. Saltus remarked the
last time we sat there. "It's taken bludgeoning blows, but, after all, we
have absorbed something, don't you think?" He sighed.

"Yes," I said. "Our personalities thought they wanted so many things, but
our egos knew we wanted only to grow, and so gave us the chance."

The mysteries and beauties of Infinity seemed to fall from the stars like
blessings. Sometimes we sat there till midnight chatting over the splendors
of space, cause and cosmos, kalpas of time, and creations yet to be
cradled. However far we wandered in dimensional space, greater and vaster
became the vistas beyond.

It is possible that these intimate talks on the abstract gave Mr. Saltus
the interior poise to greet the liberating angel who even then was knocking
at our door.

The end came suddenly and unexpectedly, and from a cause long supposed to
be dormant. It began with a severe chill. Anything can begin that way, and
I was not alarmed. Neither was the physician, who, in the absence of Dr.
Darlington, was called in. Other chills, however, of greater intensity,
followed in rapid succession. They were frightful, each one seeming as if
it would be the last. Septic poisoning, super-induced by an internal
abscess, developed into acute Bright's disease. Unable at any time to stand
intense pain, he found this agony. Opiates were given, but owing to his
absorption being so slow they failed to make it endurable. A hospital was
the place to have taken Mr. Saltus, and St. Luke's was at the corner of our
street. He could have been moved without much distress and I could have
been near him. Though he fought to his utmost against crying out under his
pain, at the suggestion of a hospital he shrieked:--

"I won't go to St. Luke's, and if you bring a nurse in my room I will kill
her. When Toto died and you were almost out of your mind, I kept you beside
me and nursed you. You cannot force me to go."

Much as it would have added to his comfort, and necessary as it was in his
case to have specific care, the idea of a hospital had to be abandoned. It
was hysteria, but in his condition he had to be humored. Had I brought in a
nurse against his will, he, she, or both, would have been found dashed to
pieces on the pavement outside; and our apartment being on the top floor,
the risk was too great.

Mr. Saltus was not an easy man to take care of, for from no other hand than
mine would he take food or medicine, nor would he let me leave his side for
a moment. The responsibility of turning into a nurse one with such limited
knowledge was not the best thing for him, but it was impossible to do
otherwise. To keep his chart, give his medicine and hypodermics, and try to
make him believe that he was getting better every moment, was difficult.

Though Mr. Saltus spoke of death as if he were playing hide-and-seek with
it, it was offset by his lament:--

"Poor child, poor child! I am killing you, but I cannot help it, for you
are the only one I can let touch me. When Snippsy gets well he will be so
good that you will not like him. I'm paying a frightful karma. The Masters
of Wisdom must be hastening my evolution."

Though he spoke of recovery, it was only while I sat beside him. Upon an
occasion when, anxious to be sure of an important prescription being filled
accurately, I suggested going to the chemist's at the corner and leaving
him with my mother, with whom Mr. Saltus was perfectly at home, he screamed
so loudly that people in a neighboring apartment rushed in to offer
assistance.

"Don't leave me! Don't leave me! I might die while you are away," he called
out.

His illness lasted but eight days. On July 30th at three in the afternoon I
saw death in his face, although neither the physician nor my mother
expected it so soon. To keep him cheered and comforted was all that could
be done. His horror of disagreeable things was such that, although he asked
me many times a day if I thought he might die, I persistently told him that
he was getting better.

It was my desire to send for Mr. Saltus' daughter, that she might see him
again before the end, but fearing his reaction I did not.

At nine that night he was a little easier. The morphine was then for the
first time able to deaden his agony.

"For God's sake lie down on the sofa and rest," he urged, looking at my
haggard face.

Long accustomed to insomnia, I was able, as one can under great excitement,
to go without sleep and almost without food for a week, but it was
beginning to tell, and my hands and lips quivered.

"Do lie down. You look as if you were going to die, poor child," he urged
again.

Shaking my head, for speech was beyond me, I sat still. The clock, set in
the middle of bottles, pills and restoratives which had to be given at
intervals during the night, ticked on.

"What of the morphine?" Mr. Saltus asked. "I am easier now; but for the
morning? Have you enough?"

Again I smiled and nodded. That he could speak of a morrow was tragic.

The end came at three a. m., July 31st, while it was still dark, and was
quite painless. Conscious until the last, it is doubtful if until then Mr.
Saltus realized that he was passing out of the body. Efforts to give him
nitroglycerin were futile.

Grasping the tiny Rosicrucian cross he always wore about his neck, which
symbolized all that he aspired to, he put his other hand in mine.

"Mowgy!" He could say no more. It was his last word, as, casting off the
fetters of the flesh, he passed onward into the larger life, where "even
the weariest river winds somewhere safe to sea."





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