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Title: Polly the Pagan - Her Lost Love Letters
Author: Anderson, Isabel
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Polly the Pagan - Her Lost Love Letters" ***

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    [Illustration: _From an ideal portrait by DeWitt Lockman_
    _Polly_]


    POLLY THE PAGAN

    HER LOST LOVE LETTERS

    _BY_
    ISABEL ANDERSON

    WITH A FOREWORD BY
    BASIL KING


    THE PAGE COMPANY
    BOSTON
    MDCCCCXXII


    _Copyright, 1922,_
    BY THE PAGE COMPANY

    _All rights reserved_

    _Entered at Stationers’ Hall, London_

    Made in U. S. A.

    First Impression, September, 1922

    PRINTED BY C. H. SIMONDS COMPANY
    BOSTON, MASS., U.S.A.


     I dedicate this book with love to my cousin, Mary Brandegee,
     who is as dear to me as a sister.


     “_She vanished through the fingers like a card in the hands of
     a magician._”



FOREWORD


Of the many subjects open to the novelist none is more fertile in
interests than the international theme, and none more arresting in
appeal. Clash of character being the starting point of drama we have
it amplified in the international by both sympathy and dissonance.
Mutual attraction between individuals will sometimes overleap racial
differences in point of view; and yet racial differences in point of
view will always be at war with mutual attraction between individuals.
All contrasts, all complexities, are focussed on this single stage,
while one gets as nowhere else the conflict which each new-born
generation cannot but wage against the dictation of the ages. On this
crowded scene bring in that American element to which the dictation of
the ages means relatively nothing and the wealth of the dramatic field
becomes obvious.

It is curious, therefore, that it has been so little touched. It has
been entered, but not very far. The great Russian and French
novelists, with their concentration on the life immediately round
them, in the main ignore it. The English have worked it a little, but
not often, and not with much insight. The truth seems to be that the
European nations, with their strong lines of cleavage, have difficulty
in understanding each other, while they understand America not at all.
Steeped and dyed in their own national prepossessions they regard
other national prepossessions with indifference, amazement, or
hostility. There are exceptions to this statement, of course. I speak
only of general tendencies. The trend of events since the war even
more than the war itself brings home to us the fact that the European
mind is tribal.

The American mind is more open, as it is natural that it should be. It
has its national prepossessions; but it has them less exclusively.
Moreover, it is endowed to an unusual degree with the impulse of
curiosity. It likes to see, to know, to explore. Beyond any other type
of mind it regards a foreigner as a man and a brother, and not as a
foe. To the American a foreigner’s life, habits, prejudices, and
outlooks are of interest. He often likes them. He generally finds them
picturesque. He may think them foolish, but he never thinks them dull.
Being so busily occupied in creating a life for himself he enjoys
inspecting the lives other men have created for themselves, just as a
man who is building a house will examine with care the experiments of
a neighbor doing the same thing.

The international attracts the American, and yet even the American has
no broad international strain in his literature. The theme crops out
occasionally, but is never constant. Two or three writers have made it
specially their own, but they have founded no line. When we have
mentioned Hawthorne in one notable book, Henry James and Marion
Crawford in not a few from each, we have almost exhausted the list of
the great names of the past, while of the present there is practically
no one to quote.

The explanation, if we wanted one, might be found in lack of
authority. Though many writers travel in foreign countries few live in
them with sufficient intimacy to see below the surface. Against
outsiders continental European private life is guarded like a shrine.
The Latin countries in particular know little of the easy throwing
open of the home instinctive to the Anglo-Saxon, so that, as a rule, a
stranger steps within the seclusion of a French or Italian family only
by marriage or some unusual set of conditions.

And yet both marriage and the unusual set of conditions occur.

In the case of the former we who remain in America are not greatly
benefited, since few of the American women who marry into continental
Europe ever tell what they know for the information of compatriots.
The power of absorption of a highly organized social life, like that
of Italy, France, or Spain, is such that not many who enter it ever
come out of it again. They are held by a thousand social and domestic
tentacles, which have no counterpart in happy-go-lucky American
relationships. Amid their surroundings they may always remain alien,
and yet they are enclosed by them, as insects in amber.

It is to the unusual set of conditions that we owe most, and the
author of the novel of which these words are meant to be a prelude has
enjoyed those conditions to an exceptional degree. Diplomatic life has
the special advantage that it establishes close relations as a matter
of course. It admits one to the palace of which the chance traveller
sees only the windows and walls. It knows no slow approaches or
apprenticeships. Not only are the barred doors thrown open, but to the
most sealed society the foreigner in diplomacy is given the key.

Of this _entrée_ not merely to foreign houses and hearths but to
foreign points of view Mrs. Anderson has been always quick to perceive
the potentialities. Revealed by her other books as gifted with a power
of observation at once delicate and shrewd, she has shown a remarkable
faculty for reaching the significance of things beyond the objective
and the ceremonious. She knows the value of European stateliness as
set over against our American slap-dash; and she can also throw into
relief the human spontaneous qualities in our American slap-dash in
contrast to the calculated efforts of European stateliness. In her
game she plays the New World against the Old, and the Old World
against the New, in the spirit of comedy, not without its tragic
points. She uses her hemispheres like cymbals, for resonance and
clash, for emotion and conflict, and also for joy, for wonder, for
laughter, and for the leaping of the heart.

    BASIL KING.



THE LOST LADY


These letters and the journal of a young American girl travelling in
Europe came to me under circumstances as strange as they themselves
were unusual. Some of the letters were written on heavy blue
stationery without monogram or heading; some bore the names of various
continental hostelries: many were written on the embossed paper of the
United States Embassy at Rome. All were faded with age and were
without envelopes, definite dates, or identifying signatures.

They came into my possession in the following manner. I was in Paris
on leave that terrible Good Friday night of 1918, when the spring
drive was on. The Red Cross had ordered me to start for the front next
morning with some other nurses, and we were to leave at an early hour,
so I had paid my hotel bill, packed my bag, and gone to bed,
partly-clad, as was the custom in those exciting times.

But I had hardly got settled for sleep when the shrieking siren
announced an air raid. My room was on the top floor, and offered too
good a target, so I jumped out of bed, slipped into my uniform, seized
my bag, and ran out into the hall. It was in darkness, save for
flashes from pocket-torches. Half-dressed people were hurrying through
the corridor and groping their way down the staircase to the cellar
for safety.

As I passed an open door, I heard a woman call loudly, “Oh, won’t
somebody come and help me?” I went in to find, as I turned my
flashlight about the room, a pretty, golden-haired lady, an American,
with big deep blue eyes, struggling to get into a black dress. One of
her arms was in a sling and she was having trouble. She looked ill and
weak, but seemed a perfectly plucky and determined little person. I
slipped her heavy coat over her shoulders, wondering, at the time,
where I had seen her before. As we started for the door, she
remembered something she had left, and said, “Wait--take this,”
putting a small morocco bag into my hands, while she ran back to find
something she wanted.

“Hurry!” I begged, for the air raid was a bad one and I was alarmed.

“I will, I will,” she assured me. “You go down and I will join you in
a minute.”

“We’ll meet in the hotel cellar,” I answered.

Barely had I reached the first floor when there was a terrific crash;
the front door flew open and several panic-stricken people rushed in
from the street, seeking shelter. A bomb had struck near by.

Forgetting the woman upstairs (but still carrying the bags, hers and
my own) I ran out to see if I could be of any use to those who had
been hurt. Someone remarked as I passed, “Crazy American--imagine
going out now!”

Airplanes were buzzing overhead; searchlights were meeting in the sky
while anti-aircraft guns banged away. Bombs were bursting and shrapnel
was falling. It was the worst raid I had seen. “‘Crazy American’ was
right,” I told myself, and ducked into a low entrance marked “Cave.”
It led into a wine-cellar, and a number of people were already there,
all as unconcerned as if nothing had happened. The walls were lined
with dusty bottles and the place was dimly lighted by candles stuck
round here and there. Some of the people sat at tables playing cards,
while others, wrapped in blankets, were making themselves comfortable
on mattresses that lay about. The crashes continued, so I stayed there
till the dawn crept into a small window before I ventured back to the
hotel.

The building was still standing, but a great jagged opening had been
ripped through the upper stories. A watchman was on guard. Several
people had been killed, he said. The ambulance and police had come and
gone. The guests had scattered. It was clear that the owner of the
little bag was not there, and I had no time to search for her. The sun
was rising, and I was under orders to be at the railway station to
take a train that would leave in fifteen minutes. So I jumped into the
Metro and set off on my journey to the front, taking the stranger’s
bag with me.

During the days that followed, so busy that we could not believe
anything lay outside our crowded wards, I forgot both property and
owner. Only when I reached Paris several months later did I make an
effort to discover her. After consulting the police and the American
Embassy officials without result, I decided to break open the lock and
see if there was any clue inside to her identity.

The bag proved to be full of papers which I felt obliged to read. What
might they contain?--romance, scandals, and maybe military secrets?
There was a clipping about a mysterious Russian Prince masquerading
under the name of Kosloff, and a Red Cross badge and some secret
service insignia. Did these badges belong to the blonde lady herself
or to the Prince, or to her friend, the diplomat mentioned in the
letters? Well, we will see. I searched the lists of American Embassy
officials for the diplomat, but without success; I discovered that
their names were legion, and the Prince, too, I was unable to trace.

The difficulties lay in the fact that all the letters were signed with
nicknames--and with the death of so many people in the war and the
length of time which had evidently passed since they were written,
most of the avenues of identification had been blocked.

Nevertheless I put notices in several of the Paris papers asking for
information regarding a little fair-haired American woman who had
disappeared from the Grande Hotel du Nord during the night of the air
raid, leaving a black morocco bag in charge of a stranger. The only
three letters which I received in answer were as follows:

     Dear Madame,

      In reply to your advertisement in _Le Matin_, I would say that
      I think I saw the woman you refer to at the Café Russe on the
      Rue des Capuchins one evening in February. She was dining with
      a big blonde foreigner whom she addressed as Prince. Catching
      a word or two of their conversation that implied they knew
      more of the military situation than ordinary civilians should,
      my suspicions were aroused so when they left, I followed them.
      The man evidently noticed me and knew my game, for he put the
      lady in a taxi, telling the driver to go to the Grande Hotel
      du Nord, and then led me a chase, round corners and down alley
      ways, finally dodging into a crowded music hall where I lost
      him.

      She was so charming that I could not believe her guilty, and
      yet, her companion awakened deep distrust in me. I have often
      wondered if by chance she were a member of our own American
      secret service and he a German spy. I never saw her again,
      though if I did, I should know her at once. Since the hotel
      you mentioned was her destination, it may be that your lady
      and mine are one and the same. This is all the information I
      am able to give you, but I hope that even this faintest of
      clues may lead you a little farther in your search. I beg to
      remain

    Very truly yours,
    T---- F----.

    Captain of ---- Regiment,
    ---- Division of Infantry.


The second reply came from an American Y. M. C. A. worker who wrote:

     I think that I talked with the little lady described in the
     _Paris Herald_ while I was travelling by train from Amiens to
     Paris. She was in my compartment and carried a black morocco
     bag, like the one mentioned. She was dressed as a Salvation
     Army girl, but I could get nothing from her about her work or
     where she had been stationed, and though at the time this
     impressed me only as ordinary discretion, yet when I ran across
     her later in Paris, and found her wearing the Y. uniform, I
     stopped and spoke to her, and asked her if she had left off
     being a Sally, and why. She pretended not to know what I was
     talking about, and assured me she had never been anything but a
     Y. worker, and that she had never seen me before to her
     knowledge.

      I was convinced that she remembered me perfectly, for all her
      denials, and looked her up only to find that no one answering
      to her description was either on the Y. books or on the
      Salvation Army’s. The only surmise possible is that she was in
      disguise for some reason. With apologies for troubling you
      with this trifling information, I am

    Sincerely,
    S---- B----.

       *       *       *       *       *

The last letter was even more unsatisfactory, and came from a clerk in
the Grande Hotel du Nord. Translated, it runs as follows:

     Madame,

      I have seen your notice in the papers about the woman very
      fair-haired and petite, who disappeared from our hotel during
      the disaster of Good Friday night. She had arrived that
      evening. I remember thinking it was very late for a pretty
      woman to come alone, but as she was tired and her arm was in a
      sling, I admitted her without looking at her papers, although
      I took them to my room to go over in the morning. They were
      destroyed in the fire caused by the bomb, so I can give you no
      more information.

      I have, madame, the honor, etc., etc.

    JOSEPH M----.

Since surely somewhere in this great world there is a man or woman to
whom these letters will have poignant meaning, I have come to the
conclusion that it will be well, on the whole, to publish extracts
from them, hoping they will be claimed. I am doing so, leaving them
much as they were written, with some excisions and few changes, but
yet so no one except those concerned could possibly recognize them.

If by some miracle the little lady, who perhaps was Polly herself, and
who gave me her old love letters, still lives, I believe she will
want them. If she perished on that Good Friday night, or if for
reasons of her own, she wishes to remain silent, I hope to be forgiven
for publishing them but I feel that I have done only what was my duty.

    ISABEL ANDERSON.



_PART I_

_THE DOINGS AND MISDOINGS OF POLLY THE PAGAN_


POLLY’S JOURNAL[1]

    _Steamship Cleopatra_,
    _January_.

I don’t know where we are, somewhere on the Mediterranean on our way
back from Egypt. It is the middle of the night, but I must write down
what has happened, for it’s too exciting! Well! There’s a Russian
aboard, and he is a Prince--Aunt discovered that, trust her, she’s
absolutely set on my marrying a title. Anyhow we are all at the same
table and last night he and I walked on deck together. There was a
full moon, by the way, and really there aren’t any other nice young
men on board, except Checkers, and brothers don’t count, so of course
the Prince and I started a little flirtation. He’s as clever as he can
be--very cosmopolitan, rather a mysterious person, and big, with a
blonde moustache.

  [1] Written at the age of twenty. I. A.

But when I went back to my cabin and put on my rainbow negligée, the
one with the wing sleeves, and started over to Aunt’s cabin to bid
her goodnight,--why, what do you suppose? I went into the wrong
stateroom! Honestly, I was sure hers was 26, but it wasn’t, and the
minute I entered I saw I had made a mistake, for there stood the
Russian, still dressed and staring out of the porthole. Of course he
turned and looked at me; I tried to explain but stuttered in my
excitement. He proved to be nice about it, but rather silly, I
thought.

The worst of it was, though, that the boat lurched and swung the door
shut, and then, of all things, the knob fell off! Really, I was so
embarrassed and so furious with myself for being embarrassed, when it
was such a chance to show what a woman of the world I was, that my
hand shook and I could hardly get the knob into place again. But I
did, with the Prince’s help--only I must admit his help didn’t amount
to much--however he opened the door and bowed me out as if I were a
great lady.

On the whole he really behaved very well, but foreigners are so
different from Americans. I’m rather ashamed, so I’m going to dodge
him after this if I can.

       *       *       *       *       *


PRINCE BORIS TO POLLY

    _Steamship Cleopatra,
    The next morning._

My dear Mademoiselle Hummingbird,

In your negligée you looked like a humming bird and I do not know your
real name, so may I call you this? Here I am writing to you, weak,
weak man that I am. I have no other helper than my dictionary, and it
takes me a long time for the writing in English, but I feel you will
like it better.

Did I fish[2] much for you last evening? Fishing is not good for going
in the Heaven, they say, but I did one good action. The devil pushed
me very strongly to kiss you when you came into my cabin, but I bowed
you out. That was meritorious. (You can say, “Beautiful, indeed!” as
said Wellington, seeing the charge of the French Imperial Guards at
the battle of Waterloo.) I hope how God will give me good mark for
that in his golden book.

  [2] Intended for flirt.

I am reading much today, trying to forget you. The language in the
French books is very instructive to the mind but destructive to the
moral. The vice of the French or the bragging virtue of the
English--which is better? I finish this letter by begging you to walk
with me again in the moonlight. Send me a line if you will. I say
goodbye till tonight.

    BORIS.

P.S. You have given me very much pleasure. It is sufficient for me to
see and hear you. It make me pairfectly happy just so. I find you very
charming.

How shall I say it--like or love you? In French they have only the one
word, and the womans understand what they want. How you think? I like
lively American girl, not afraid of anything, not even of wicked man.

       *       *       *       *       *


PRINCE BORIS TO POLLY

    _Steamship Cleopatra,_
    _The following day._

Dear Mademoiselle Avis,

Did you leave me last night when I try to join you on deck because you
not like my letter or was it my foreign gesticulations which
frightened you or you find my funs stupid? You angry when I kiss your
hands in the moonlight perhaps? But why you not tell me your name and
where you live when home?

You said me you just American girl called Polly the Pagan, and you
would not interest me,--but you do interest me. Please do not be so
jingoist. Is not this word one of your Franklin’s?

Ah! I believe you disappear because it is that we sail in a magic boat
among the islands of the gods over water that is--what you call
him--fairy water which is bewitched, and at sunset reflect the
brilliant plumage of the phoenix and at night the silver of the lady
moon.

Maybe men are stupid and women wicked? Was it possible to be more bad
as Eve and more dull as Adam?

I say you goodbye, naughty girl.

    BORIS.

       *       *       *       *       *


POLLY’S JOURNAL CONTINUED

    _Rome,
    A week later._

I’m so glad we’re going to stay here in Rome for a while! Aunt has
taken the upper floor of an old palace, and we’re all nicely settled
for the spring. Up on the roof is our little terrace garden, so tiny
but so perfect, with its stone paths and its borders of pussy-faced
pansies and violets. In the corners are huge earthen jars bubbling
over with pink roses, and the trellis to one side is covered with
big-leaved vines where Cæsar, the mockingbird, hangs in his yellow
wicker cage in the shade and makes joyful noises.

The sky is always so blue and the sun so warm and golden up there, and
yet, it makes you cool just to let your eyes wander off to the
snow-capped mountains in the distance. The dome of St. Peter’s is not
far off, and the Vatican--I wonder what plans the clever old Pope is
devising over there.

Sometimes I stand by the stone balustrade and gaze down into the
narrow dark street far below, where there are small black creatures
scurrying and hurrying about, and the bad odors of the city come up,
and I hear faintly the shrill cries of the vendors. It is wonderful
way up there, in the sunshine, and still lovelier at night when the
great moon is sailing in the sky. I hope everybody down in the street
has a terrace to go to and be happy on, sometime in their lives.

There’s a little room off the roof garden where we go when the chill
of late afternoon creeps over Rome and drives us indoors. After the
sun has set behind the clouds, we start an open fire and make tea by
candle-light. It’s an artistic little nook, with old carved furniture
and brocades and sketches by well-known painters. A wonderful place
for beaux!

Just as I finished writing the last entry in my journal, Louisa, our
pretty Italian maid, with a great air of secrecy, brought me a sealed
letter that a foreign gentleman, so she said, gave her. My Roman
adventures have begun!

       *       *       *       *       *


PRINCE BORIS TO POLLY


My leetle Pagan,

May I come up? I see you on the terrace in the sunshine and in the
moonlight with arms outstretched to the heavens, worshiping the
elements. But you who worship nature, you give to the world yourself
the perfume of the rose, the sunshine playing among the leaves, the
song of the wild bird of the woods. I can imagine you dancing in the
forest to the strange notes of Pan. Nature is just, but often
ruthless. I pray civilization may not bring you ruin.

    BORIS.

       *       *       *       *       *


JOURNAL CONTINUED

I haven’t told a soul about yesterday’s letter, nor have I yet put
down my next thrilling adventure, but Aunt manages to keep a fairly
watchful eye on Checkers and me. Being twins, we are much alike and
always under suspicion of what Uncle John used to call “collusion.” So
far we’ve behaved very well, but when we do anything we should not,
she says, “There’s your uncle cropping out,” or “You’re as wild as
hawks; where do you two get these ways?” and then I answer her with
this song:

    “I’m a little prairie flower
      Growing wilder every hour;
    I don’t care what you say to me,
      For I’m as wild as I can be.”

Checkers has a little cart and horse such as the Roman swells drive;
he hunts in the Campagna, and everybody simply loves his American
slang. When people remark how much we are alike, he retorts, “Sure!
We’re twins, and she’s as close to me as my glove.”

But my adventure--well!. Yesterday I was out shopping alone when I
noticed a man was following me at a distance. I hurried home, not
daring to turn around, but he followed me all the way, and then
proceeded to walk up and down outside my window in Italian fashion. I
could only see the top of his silk hat, but I thought just for fun I
would throw him a rose. Aunt caught me at it and she certainly was
scandalized; hereafter I am never to go out alone.

Louisa, looking rather demure, came in this afternoon and announced
the American Secretary. And who do you think came with him? The
Russian Prince of the steamer. And that isn’t all, for it was he who
followed me home! Now that he has been properly introduced, Aunt has
forgiven him everything, and is all smiles. He talked to her most of
the time, not to me, and she says he is very agreeable. I adore his
broken English, but how is he going to smuggle letters to me, unless
maybe Louisa will continue to help?

Auntie is perking up and taking notice. She is certainly getting
frisky. Our good old Cart Horse, as she calls herself because she
thinks she does all the work, has come out of mourning and invested in
a lot of new, artistic clothes,--lovely colors, but floppy--that go
rather well with her reddish hair. She’s making a specialty of
artists, and of one artist in particular, a temperamental soul, dark
and handsome with wild hair called Don Peppi, who is painting her
portrait.

In the midst of a party last evening I was introduced to Captain Carlo
somebody--I’ve forgotten the rest of his name--who at once began a
desperate flirtation with me. Desperate indeed, for he’s a dashing
young Italian officer who wears his beautiful uniform most smartly,
and speaks good English and dances simply divinely. Checkers says he
hunts on the Campagna, and being a reckless rider, cuts quite a figure
there. I think he may be a close second to the Prince. When we were
leaving, he got our things for us, and he, and the American
Secretary, the Turkish Ambassador, “Pan,” they call him, and a Spanish
diplomat, Marquis Gonzaga, managed between them to put us properly in
our carriage. This is LIFE!

       *       *       *       *       *


PRINCE BORIS TO POLLY

    _Rome,
    February._


Cherished little Hummingbird,

I wish to know you better--you who throw me the red rose the color of
your lips when I so wickedly follow you home. Your skin it resemble
the pure white snow upon the steppes of Siberia, your hair the golden
doubloons found in the depth of the Spanish Main, and your blue eyes
the fairy sea on which we met. But when I draw near to catch you on
that boat _Cleopatra_ (has her spirit entered your soul to haunt me?)
I find you vanish through the fingers like a card in the hands of a
magician.

I inquire of you in Rome--no one know about hummingbirds--I am in
despair. Then the saints are kind. I see you on your terrace. I wait
at your door. I send you a letter by your maid. You not reply and you
not look at me when you pass by me in the street. I follow. But you
vanish again into the door of that dark palazzo. I ask the concierge
your name--he will not tell. Outside I wait, and the saints they are
still kind. Down from Heaven falls the rose!

Next day I see the Secretaire Americain, my old friend as I remember
at once. We meet on the street outside the palazzo--he say he goes in
there to make call on lovely American young lady. I take him by the
arm, I beg, I implore him to introduce me,--ah, I am so desperate!
Perhaps he have pity on one who suffer so much. He take me in and--I
have to talk to your Aunt. He speak all the time to you, and I have to
see you together and talk only to the Aunt. Are you willing I should
come again, Cleopatra girl? Post Scriptum. I come again anyway!

       *       *       *       *       *


JOURNAL CONTINUED

    _Rome,
    February._

The dashing Italian officer, Captain Carlo, with the piercing eyes and
the Roman nose, gave a dinner last night at the Grand Hotel. He’s not
exactly goodlooking but very attractive--almost as fascinating as the
Prince whose letters certainly do amuse me. Later the carriage was to
come to take me to the Duchess Sermoneta’s dance. Well! I made my
adieux and started to leave the hotel.

But alas, my carriage was not there, and I was quite disturbed when up
came the American Secretary and offered to take me in his brougham. I
was very glad to accept. Do you know I think I am going to like him!
He is dark and slender, clean-shaven and romantic-looking, and has
very distinguished manners.

We got to joking and he remarked he was love-proof. I wasn’t going to
be behind in a matter like that, so I replied promptly that I was,
too. “We can be awfully good friends, then, you and I,” he said; “it’s
perfectly safe.” I decided then and there that I would just see how
safe it was, for him, at least. I call him A. D. for American
Diplomat, he’s so very promising a young secretary.

At the ball there were princesses, duchesses, and all that. I met a
lot of them but saw more of Captain Carlo and A. D. than anyone else.
I stayed until about two o’clock, and then came the question as to how
I was to get home without any carriage, but my diplomat again came to
the rescue. Prince Boris was not there. Aunt says hereafter I am to
take Louisa with me.

       *       *       *       *       *

Roman society is well worth seeing, but I like country life better
with hunting and races and things like that. I concluded I wouldn’t go
to the next party, and told the Prince so flatly when he asked me for
the cotillion, but Aunt felt badly about it. I gave in and went. The
favors were lovely--I got fifteen--and A. D. was there. He has invited
us to dinner at his apartment. When he declared he was love-proof, I
wonder if he meant he was engaged. He is devoted to a clever American
divorcée, I hear. I will go for a walk with Sybil and talk him all
over. She’s a dear and my best friend; it’s good to have her here in
Rome this spring.

After a little drive on the Pincio, we dressed for A. D.’s party. He
has the loveliest rooms. The Dutch Secretary, “Jonkheer Jan,” Lord
Ronald Charlton, a British Secretary, very pale and thin, and the
Turkish Ambassador, the latter with a red fez on his head, and his
hands covered with jewelled rings, all were there. Afterwards we drove
on to a ball. The Prince appeared but I didn’t want to talk to him, so
when the gay little Spanish Marquis dashed up, I danced off and spent
the rest of the evening in the conservatory. He’s a dear, with
flashing black eyes, and curly hair, but a little too fat.

We stayed till dawn, and the long, long flights of stone steps at our
Palazzo seemed longer than ever at that hour. A. D. is coming to see
me tomorrow, and I don’t know why, but I don’t want to see him,
either.

       *       *       *       *       *

Aunt and I dined one night at the Grand with a big, wild-eyed American
from Pittsburg. He is rather excitable and erratic, but he cuts quite
a swath here. It was a magnificent dinner with all the Roman swells,
and I sat between Marquis Gonzaga and Captain Carlo and oh! what a
funny time I had! Each tried to go the other one better, and the
Marquis went a little too far. His broken Spanish-English allows him
to say almost anything. When I am angry he pretends he doesn’t
understand, so I pricked him with a pin in punishment and then he
kissed me right there at table. I was so ashamed. These foreigners do
the naughtiest things.

Captain Carlo is poor and Gonzaga is rich. The latter is a diplomat, a
gambler and very quick-tempered, but most Spaniards are that. Carlo is
an officer and a sportsman; he has some British blood. They are both
delightful gay young devils. The Prince was there, too, and it was
lots of fun to see him glower at the other men. He was very cross with
Gonzaga and went home early. A. D. I saw only for a few moments; I
like him even if he is calm and reserved beside the others. But he’s
an American!

The dinner went on and on in numberless courses with plenty of wine.
There were quantities of flowers with electric lights under them and
not only was all Rome present, but they say people were there who
didn’t even know their host by sight! Pittsburgo, as everybody calls
him, who certainly does love big and costly festivities, had hired an
orchestra. Then two other dinner parties joined his and we had a
dance, the liveliest I ever went to, though it made me think of some
jolly ones at home. We ran races and jumped chairs--a wild affair! I
haven’t had such a good time for ages, even though A. D. and the
Prince didn’t stay.

       *       *       *       *       *


PRINCE BORIS TO POLLY

    _Rome,
    February._

_Mon ange, je t’adore!_ Please not fish--no flirt, is it?--with
others. You are the most extraordinary and nicest little flirt I never
saw! Alas! but I suffer,--a sad inhabitant of this valley of tears,
and because you fish not with me alone.

I am curious to know you better. You have not told me enough of your
life. What you think is more interesting to me even than what you do,
because the secret agitations of the heart are more revealing than the
tumult of exterior life. I love to travel, but there is no strange
country which I should so like to visit as this mysterious region
which is your heart. I love novels, but there is no wonderful novel
which I so much should like to read as the closed book which is your
soul.

Do pity me who walk alone the desert of life. I want to take interest
in every one of your thoughts and all of your sorrows. I should like
to be Adam and give you all my ribs. I mind I have twenty-four, for
making twenty-four girls, all just like you! And I would keep them all
and not let them run in the world without me.

I had today one great excitement. The postman brought me a letter in a
woman’s handwriting. It was blue, blue like the sky, and had the
perfume of flowers. I felt at last had come the love letter from you I
have been waiting for so long. My heart throbbed, my brain was on
fire, but, alas! it was from another--not from a hummingbird, but a
gray Miss Mouse.

I am very furious--my servants have never seen me so terrible.

       *       *       *       *       *


JOURNAL CONTINUED

    _Rome,
    February._

Pittsburgo came to call and stayed forever and ever AMEN. He talked
most of the time about a beautiful Italian singer. Then A. D. and the
Prince arrived and we had tea, and it made me feel like old times when
I used to sit in the parlor at home and have beaux, knowing all the
time that Auntie was behind the screen. Those were good old times, but
they seem a long way off now. Finally Pittsburgo and A. D. went, and
Aunt invited the Prince to stay to dinner. Afterwards Aunt was so
tired she went off for a snooze. But if it had been the temperamental
Peppi that stayed, I don’t think she would have been so sleepy; or
maybe she wished to leave us alone.

Later we went to a charity bazaar at Baronessa Blanc’s, where there
were flunkies in beautiful liveries at every landing, and flowers and
tapestries. A. D. appeared upon the scene. He and I are getting to be
quite good friends, though I know he is terribly devoted to the pretty
divorcée with a Mona Lisa smile and a come-hither eye. Probably she
is the person he is engaged to, if he really is engaged. He has me
guessing.

The Prince is very cross with me. He makes me laugh, and tells me I
would flirt even with a pair of tongs. The more I see him, the more
mysterious he grows. He talks incessantly, and is as strange as the
Oriental cane he carries. He is not officially attached to the Russian
Embassy, at least, so A. D. says, and his best friends seem to be the
Turks. When he is not speaking broken English he uses French, but
that’s the diplomatic language everywhere.

The other night I started out with Louisa to a dinner at the French
Embassy. She’s the prettiest, dark-eyed, olive-skinned contadina you
ever saw, and while we were driving she chattered to me in the most
knowing way about the King and Queen and court, of their family life,
even telling me where the King has his washing done. She doesn’t know
why, but--strange to say--it is all sent to Milan! It appears she
knows intimately the Queen’s hairdresser. Louisa is trying to learn
English and delights in showing off. Much to our amusement, she
refers to Aunt as “he,” to Checkers as “she,” and to me as “it.”

Don Carlo, who has just recovered from the mumps, was at the affair. I
danced afterwards with the extravagant Pittsburgo. A. D. was terribly
devoted to Madame Mona Lisa, as we call her, and I don’t care if he
was! I walked through the great bare galleries and tapestried rooms
with the Princess Pallavicini and the Turkish Ambassador, who seemed
to know about my flirtation with the Cossack Prince. Somehow I felt
glad to escape and go on with Aunt to Mme. Leghait’s “impair”
reception where the very gayest of Roman society gathers on evenings
of odd dates.

       *       *       *       *       *

    _February 14._

St. Valentine’s Day! Just as I waked up, Louisa brought into my room a
large basket of the loveliest flowers. Never have I received such
beautiful ones or so many. With them was a note, “From your
Valentine,” but Louisa recognized A. D.’s man, whom he calls his
faithful Gilet, bringing them. It was very kind of him, of course,
but I wish he would let me alone, and send his old flowers to the
grass widow.

This afternoon Aunt and I hunted all over town for philopena presents.
I had lost one to A. D. and she to Peppi. When we got home, in came
Captain Carlo with his mother, who was oh, so beautiful. She went
soon, long before I had enough of gazing at her, but he stayed till A.
D. dropped in to rescue us.

After dinner Aunt and I put on black dominoes and masks, Checkers,
Peppi, and A. D. made themselves perfectly killing in Pierrot costumes
of black and white with white caps and fat-cheeked masks, and off went
the five of us to the Veglione. We had a box in the theatre, but it
was much more fun to go on the floor and dance. Whom should we see but
Pittsburgo and with him his Italian singer. He hadn’t the remotest
idea who we were. So I said all kinds of things to him, and got him
all mixed up and it was the best fun! How we did laugh when I pushed
him just a little and he tripped and rolled head first into the
fountain. I simply loved the whole affair.

Once in a while Checkers and I go for a drive in his little
two-wheeled cart with the absurd pony that looks like a broncho who
has missed his growth, and when we get way out on the Campagna we
burst into song:

    “Pull off your walking coat,
      Comb back your hair,
    Cut loose your corset string,
      Take in some air;
    Put on your bonnet, love,
      Don’t act a fool;
    See that your harness fits
      Same as a mule.”

We almost feel we are at Black Horse Farm again at home. Between
parties Sybil, Checkers, and I go sight-seeing, for Aunt says we must
learn something besides deviltry.

“So you think I’m enjoying myself too much over here, Auntie,” my twin
remarks. “Well, when I get home I’ll show you I’m not afraid of
work,--I’ll lie right down beside it, see if I don’t. But while I’m
here, I’m out for a good time.”

I’ve seen the Prince many times lately; he is most devoted. I love his
letters, he interests but he frightens me a little. My feelings are
so mixed I can’t write them down. When not with me, he spends much
time with Peppi and Madame Mona Lisa. I often see them prowling about
among the old paintings in the galleries.

       *       *       *       *       *


PRINCE BORIS TO POLLY

    _Rome,
    February._

Oh, Cleopatra child, present in my mind and heart is ever strange
emotion I felt on meeting enigmatic girl, the first time and all
times. But I have not progressed in detection of enigma, and it may be
I shall die without solving it. The more I think, the dearer she
becomes to me.

That night on the steamer the lady moon, how she danced on the fairy
water! When talking to you in the cabin of the ship, I felt like a
small boy, daring to do or say nothing. How stupid I have been that
night, how little I profit my time while you bewitch me. I told so few
things and I had so many to tell.

When you first appear in the doorway dressed like a rainbow in the sky
you looked more like a fairy goddess than earth woman. Were you
inhabitant of star? But what have you done in star for having fallen
down amongst us humans? Or was it penance enough that you fell?

I feel strong emotion in my being. As I think of you, the music of
Werther flows through my veins. All things of that first meeting rush
round me. How the sea was sparkling, the sky silver, the air sweet!

       *       *       *       *       *


JOURNAL CONTINUED

    _Rome,
    February._

This morning I thought I never should wake up--it was twelve o’clock,
but even then I felt tired. Yesterday was the last day of the
carnival, the last ball for me. Marquis Gonzaga sent me the loveliest
bunch of flowers, great orchids tied with a beautiful ribbon.

So much for the pleasant--now for the unpleasant. I got an anonymous
letter about Captain Carlo from an Italian girl who is in love with
him, saying she will kill me if I do not leave him alone. I can’t
imagine who she can be--I’ll try to do some detective work, be a
Sherlock Holmes, and find out. I think it would be fun and I’m sure
I’d be good at it. Living in Rome is like being in a play, it doesn’t
seem real at all.

But the climax came when another epistle arrived, this time a catty
note from the Mona Lisa divorcée saying she was soon to leave Rome and
A. D. to me, and she hoped “little Pagan Polly would enjoy herself.”
Checkers and I went off for a long drive through the Campagna. It was
good to get out into the country, away from all trouble. I wonder what
on earth will happen next?

What did happen was that the divorcée followed up her note by a call.
Louisa announced her just as I returned, and I heard Checkers greeting
her in the next room--“Good afternoon! Glad of your hand. Hope you
feel as good as new money.”

She laughed a little, but for all that, he hadn’t put her in a
pleasant frame of mind. When I went in to see her, I looked a little
surprised and asked her what I could do for her.

“You can let my friend alone,” she said.

“I do not know whom you mean,” I retorted.

“Oh yes you do! You can’t play innocence with me with your big blue
eyes and your nursery airs.”

That made me angry and I told her to be civil to me or she might be
ushered out. She fired up then, though she had tried to keep hold of
herself at first, and pointed to A. D.’s picture, asking sarcastically
if he had given it to me, and if she was to congratulate me on my
conquest. I saw she was afraid I was really engaged to him and was
trying to find out and I determined she should not.

So I hung my head and pretended to be dreadfully shy, and murmured she
might congratulate me if she wished to. Then I was sorry, for she
turned very white and then red.

“I don’t believe a word of it!” she choked, “and this is all the
congratulation you’ll get out of me!” She snatched his photograph off
the table and threw it into the fireplace, and as I did not know what
else to do, I rang for Louisa to show her the door, but before the
maid could come, Mona Lisa swept out, muttering to herself, “I’ll get
even with you yet.” That is the last glimpse I shall get of her, I
hope.

I went and told Aunt. The American Ambassador came to call in the late
afternoon and they were both closeted for about an hour. When I asked
her what they talked about, she said about A. D. and Mona, but she
wouldn’t tell me anything else. But I know that divorcée is trying to
make some mischief. Well, she may if she wants to. I don’t care. If A.
D. likes that kind of woman, he may have her.

Pittsburgo and Captain Carlo came for luncheon, and then later in came
the Prince for tea. Aunt insists on leaving us together every chance
she gets. But he is a trifle too impassioned, even for me. When he
left today, he said, “Why is it you are unkind? You say me not sweet
things, I who would kiss your feet. Naughty one, you are cold as March
to me when I want you to be like the month of May.” And that’s the way
he’s always going on.

After Marquis Gonzaga’s dinner, the other evening, I left while the
others were still dancing. Carlo was watching mournfully from the
balcony above and ran down to put me in my carriage, but round-eyed
Pittsburgo caught up with him, much to his disgust, so he did not have
the farewells to himself, and Louisa and I set off for home.

But when we reached the Palazzo, what do you suppose? There was Carlo
to open the door! He had gotten into another carriage and raced ahead
of us. He begged for the violets that I was wearing. I wouldn’t give
them then, but when I reached the upper landing, just out of deviltry,
I threw them out of the window to him. It’s a funny game, but this
isn’t the first time I’ve played it, nor the first time he has either,
for that matter. I wonder if I’ll get knifed by his Italian girl. I’ll
risk it, for it’s all such fun.

The dinner had been awfully uninteresting, and I had to have a little
bit of amusement. A. D. was to sit on one side of me but he never
came. I suppose he was with Mona Lisa. Also I spilt coffee over my new
dress and got rather cross. I didn’t sleep a wink all night.

       *       *       *       *       *

In the meanwhile I hadn’t forgotten about the anonymous letter warning
me to let Carlo alone, so one afternoon I showed the note to Boris
who was here calling and suggested that we do a little detective work
together. His eyes glittered and I told him he could be Doctor Watson,
but I should be Sherlock. As we sallied forth for a walk to talk it
over, we saw a pretty contadina sauntering up and down the street
outside the palazzo, and just on impulse, I said, “What do you make of
that, Watson?” She happened to glance up, and if ever there was a look
of hatred on a human face, she had it.

“I have seen her before,” remarked my companion.

“You have?” I gasped.

“Dining in a little trattoria with--”

“Anyone I know?”

Boris nodded and I guessed at once that he meant Carlo but preferred
not to say so definitely.

So I took the hint and kept a careful lookout for a few days, and sure
enough, there she was, hanging about or strolling past every time that
Carlo came to visit me. Once the captain who had just been calling on
me, stopped and spoke to her; he appeared to be angry. So I took the
Prince, who had dropped in, and we shadowed them home, quite
delighted with ourselves and our adventure, until they separated, he
striding away surlily and she looking after him until he turned the
corner. Then she went into a tumbled-down house.

“Signor, who lives there?” I asked of a neighbor lounging on his
steps.

“The gardener of Capitano Carlo,” he told me politely. So there was
all my evidence, and the next time we met I told my Italian Captain
about the letter and that I had discovered the author of it. He
admitted that I was probably right, and that it sounded like his
gardener’s daughter.

She was jealous of me, evidently, but he didn’t seem at all put out
about it,--in fact I think it rather tickled his vanity. People say
the poor girl is half mad about him.

Carlo is now in an army prison for having been seen at the Marquis’
dance when he was supposed to be on the sick list. He writes me he
will go to South Africa if I won’t be good to him.

This afternoon we got our things together to give our American
Dip--short for diplomat--a surprise party at his rooms. But he had
found out somehow or other, and as we entered we saw a large sign,
“WELCOME, SURPRISE PARTY,” and in other places there were drawings
representing “the joyous hand” and “the joyous eye,” and besides
these, a notice saying that suspicious people had been seen about the
place. He is very original and clever. The dinner was awfully jolly
and we had great fun as people always do at his parties. Thank Heaven,
Mona Lisa was not there.

After it was all over we drove to the Coliseum, for the moon was full.
A. D. and I wandered round; it was a beautiful night, the great
amphitheatre all gleaming silver. I hadn’t seen any old moonlit ruins
since Karnak on the Nile, and there wasn’t any nice young man to see
that with. He is such a dear, but a flirt, and I’m sure he’s engaged
to Madame Mona Lisa with the lovely gray cat’s eyes. I wish he were
half as devoted to me as the Prince is--no, I don’t either, but there
isn’t any rubber on my pencil, so I can’t erase it.

       *       *       *       *       *

What a country for love and romance! Even the Americans are affected
by it. Poor wild-eyed Pittsburgo shot and killed himself today in his
room in front of the portrait of the beautiful Italian singer. I am
terribly shocked and can hardly believe it is true. Some people
thought he was in love with me because he came so often to our
apartment, and just to make some fun, I wore his ring for a time. All
Rome is talking. Poor old Pittsburgo!

This evening I went to the American Embassy--a large dinner of thirty
or more people in a lovely big dining room, and with beautiful silver
plates and then gold plates--the first time in my life I ever ate from
gold plates. The Ambassador was specially nice to me. I tried to pump
him about Mona Lisa but didn’t get much. I wish she would leave Rome.
Our Dip is rather a puzzler--he just keeps me guessing. I don’t know
whether he is engaged to the divorcée or not. I must admit she’s
rather fascinating and she has had a sad history, he says. We went on
to the Princess Pallavacini’s evening reception--he spent the entire
time with Mona. Of course she and I didn’t speak or even bow. Aunt
likes him but still prefers a titled foreigner every time.

The Prince was at the reception, too, but I managed to spend most of
my spare time flirting with Marquis Gonzaga; he talks a lot but is not
so amusing as the Prince. Boris declares he is going to follow me
about Europe. Aunt is taking us first to Sorrento and then
Florence--after that, the Lord knows where! He is more ardent than
ever, so I bet Checkers a hat I’d make Boris propose before I left
Rome. I like him better than I did. Checkers says I’m getting used to
foreigners.

       *       *       *       *       *


PRINCE BORIS TO POLLY

    _Rome,
    February._

Darling Miss,

Have you really decide not to let me follow you? If it so, your heart
is darker than the Black Forest and you are more wicked as the bears
that live there, and if one of those bears eat you, I will say, “So
much the better.” But when they see you, I fear they will only lick
your hands. Perhaps it is you do not understand the tender language of
love belonging to the old countries, you who come from so far away new
America? Maybe only way to make you love me is with the rough language
of the savage and the hard hand of the brute. I would like to tear the
delicate feathers off the hummingbird to punish her. _Bozhe moi!_ But
I would like to beat you!

It has been said once I resemble D’Artagnan and perhaps you are afraid
of me, afraid of what Spaniards call a _furia francesa_. Perhaps you
feel I carry you off like a hero of antiquity--Paris, I think--took
Helena away.

You are making game of me. I am very furious. I have try lately to
console myself to find another woman, as much as it is possible like
my hummingbird. I look but cannot find her. I have treasure long time
the only thing I have had that was of you--the handkerchief. But today
the handkerchief it is gone and not to be found. I have sorrow like
for the loss of a dear friend.

Here I am alone, with thirty people in the hotel, and not one of them
hummingbirds. I am weary and think often of you. I would give them
all for having you.

       *       *       *       *       *


JOURNAL CONTINUED

    _Rome,
    March._

Hurrah! I have won the hat from Checkers. When the Prince came to say
goodbye, he proposed. “Some speed to that boy,” says Brother. Of
course I refused him. Oh, if Aunt knew, she would be madder than a wet
hen. But Boris swears he won’t take no for an answer, “You mock me
like wicked Pagan girl that you are. But I love Pagans. I meet you in
Paris before you sail for America.”

We are leaving Rome tomorrow. A. D. and I had a long talk on the
terrace and just a wee bit of nonsense. He wants to spend next Sunday
with us at Sorrento. I told him to come along. Thank Heaven the
divorcée has left Rome at last.

Carlo also asked to be allowed to come to Sorrento, but I don’t want
him to, and so there’s an end to that. He can have his Italian girl.
I wonder if Peppi will turn up, for Aunt’s portrait is finished and
she likes it. It ought to be good after those long sittings.

It has amused me to lead these foreigners all on, but it is dangerous
to play with fire. Gonzaga remarked today, “My mother says me marry my
cousin, a Spanish countess, but you, Miss Polly, you hear from me
again.” As to foreigners in general and Prince Boris in particular,
they certainly know how to flirt, but I wouldn’t trust them around the
corner. They like to tell naughty stories and pretend they’re dead in
love.

So the Roman season is over; the fun and the beaux and the parties and
the drives on the Campagna are things of the past, things for me to
remember when I’m old and gray. I’ve had a glorious time here and I’m
sorry it’s ended, but Aunt says we must travel again, and I must
study. The happy days for Checkers and me are over. I wonder if I will
experience some day “_une grande passion_” as they call it over here
and marry. Who knows?

I am not sure that I shall have much time to keep a journal after this
for it seems as if I’d promised to write to half the men in Rome.



_PART II_

_COURT AND COURTING_


A. D. TO POLLY

    _Rome,
    March._

My Easter greetings to you, dear Polly; I hope they may come in time.
I have been desolate since you left Rome, and am looking forward
eagerly to seeing you next Sunday at Sorrento. As I passed your
Palazzo, I glanced up and saw the flowers nodding their heads above
the walls of your terrace, and I met the Prince wandering about
outside, appearing decidedly forlorn, poor devil. I fear you treated
him badly. I felt more than a little forlorn myself thinking of you so
many miles away.

I went up with a picnic party among the Alban mountains today, first
to Frascati, then, after déjeuner, we climbed to the ancient city of
Tusculum, and the view was glorious. Way, way off lay Rome and the
great dome of St. Peter’s, and near it, I knew, was your Palazzo.

       *       *       *       *       *


POLLY TO A. D.

    _Sorrento,
    March._

We’ve been driving about all day, and have seen such a lot of people
we know at the hotel. Oh, isn’t it lovely here! And it will be even
nicer when you arrive. Of course you know Sorrento well. It’s very
fascinating to me,--the white oriental villas, the peacock blue of the
sea, and the gray-green olive orchards. We wanted to buy some olives,
but what do you suppose the storekeeper said?

“We have none.”

“But I thought this was the land of olives!”

“We have none,” he repeated. “Ship olives to Park and Tilford, New
York.”

When you come, I am going to take you over to Naples to see an
octopus. I know he was once a faithless lover, and has been changed
into a many-armed, flesh-colored monster by a water-siren whom he
failed to adore properly. Here he is, now, doomed to move forever in a
house of glass where humans come and point their finger at him.

So beware! Such is the wrath of--sirens.

At night we go out on the balcony to listen to some gay Neapolitan
songs sung by a handsome, dark-eyed fellow. He looks like the black
and frowzy-headed Peppi. Aunt threw him a handful of lire for that
reason, I believe. Then we watch the brightly-dressed peasants dance
the tarantella--I have bought some castenets, so when you get here,
I’ll dance for you!

You write of a picnic at Frascati. Was it as nice as ours?--when you
and round-faced Pan went, and the Prince, and lanky Jan, the Dutch
Secretary, and my friend Sybil with her straight black hair and her
flirtatious dark blue eyes? How we enjoyed the yellow wine, and
gobbled our sandwiches under the trees and told naughty stories and
sang lively songs. And on the way back wandered down that lovely
avenue of ilexes hand in hand!

Checkers wishes me to say he would give all his old boots to see you.
Aunt wants me to thank you for the photograph you sent her, ahem!
Please do not get spoiled if I add that I think you are very
good-looking.

       *       *       *       *       *


A. D. TO POLLY

    (_Telegram_)[3]
    _Rome,
    April._

I am coming to brave the wrath of one little siren tomorrow.

  [3] These and succeeding telegrams and cables must have been
      transmitted by telephone and jotted down since I found none
      on the regulation blanks. I. A.

       *       *       *       *       *


POLLY TO A. D.

    _Sorrento,
    April._

You have only just this minute gone. I wonder if you are thinking of
me--I don’t believe you are. I shall treasure the pretty gold pen you
gave me, to write you with. I am christening it now. Aunt calls me
Pliny--she says I write so much that she is sure I indite my letters
from the bath.

Will you hear my lesson? Although I have not been out of school very
long I find I have forgotten a lot and I have really enjoyed reading
about the very early days of Rome, of the Etruscan lords, the raids of
the Sabines and the Celts, and the sack of Rome by the Gauls, the
starting of the republic with the plebs and patricians, about
Hannibal, the Punic wars, and the Macedonian wars, and all kinds of
wars.

Checkers was tickled to death with my anonymous letter signed “Brown
Eyes.” He didn’t say a word, but has smiled ever since receiving it.
All women, he declares, are devils. I notice, however, like the
sailors, he discovers a pretty girl in every port. He’s as fickle,
looking this way and that, as a blade of grass in a high wind. I just
wrote some more nonsense, supposed to be from an Italian girl who had
seen him on the street and had fallen in love with the handsome
American boy. I wish he would fall in love with Sybil, however, but
they are such good friends that I do not so far see a glimmer of hope.

Now I am going to bed, but instead of dreaming of something pleasant,
for instance of you, I shall be wide awake and my head buzzing with
history and dates,--Goths taking the city of Florence,--where we go
tomorrow,--the visit of Charlemagne and the story of the Countess
Mathilde who ruled for over forty years, of endless feuds and battles
and Guelphs and Ghibellines of long ago. Now perhaps I can go to
sleep, having written you all this, and if you don’t remember your
history, you had better read it up.

As one of Checkers’ numerous girls once declared, “You are so
fascinating I can’t stop I writing!” This must be my case for here is
a very long letter. I wish we could stop in Rome on the way north, but
shall expect you for over Sunday in Florence.

       *       *       *       *       *


A. D. TO POLLY

    _Rome,
    May._

I feel lost and strange and don’t know what to do without you. Only
yesterday we were driving together in Florence across the river, up
the hillside, to that little church high above the valley where we had
our photographs taken together beneath the gnarled cypress. Then we
came rattling down the zigzag roadway, past the fruit trees in
blossom, and had tea and chocolate and beer, each according to his
taste, at the pastry cook’s, and then went back to the hotel and stood
on the little balcony, looking over the gleaming river Arno, and
beyond to the setting sun.

This pin I enclose for you--a baby Leo, a little relative of the Lion
of St. Mark’s, which you should be wearing, now that you will soon be
in Venice. I bought it today in a little shop as I was toiling up
toward the Pincian, where I listened to the music and watched the
people and the carriages go round and round. Groups of red-robed
Bavarian student priests and straggling bands of monks, brown-cowled,
with sandaled feet and ropes of rattling beads about their waists, and
children, rolling hoops so merrily.

Here, we are smothered in flowers, great baskets full on the streets
for sale, crimson and gold-colored, and the Campagna outside the wall
has its patches of poppies and cornflowers. Spring is very lovely in
Rome, but the season is fast coming to an end.

The garden party late this afternoon at the Spanish Embassy in the
Palazzo Barberini was quite fine,--the Palazzo itself is so glorious!
And the approach up the great staircase through the vast antecamera,
through the salons, and across the bridge into the gardens is
splendidly impressive! It was gay with bright dresses, and a military
band played dance music, though no one danced.

I recollect how you loved the place, but the garden was too damp to
stop in, so I made a circuit, then went back into the house where I
lost the little ghost that had walked with me among the flowers.

The Prince, Gonzaga and I traced our way to the buffet and drank a
glass of champagne together. Gonzaga was as lively as ever, but the
Prince still looks a bit gloomy.

And now for a confession. I have been to Signor Rossi’s studio and
asked for a photograph of his drawing of you. Do you mind? For I want
it very much. After this long letter, now who is fascinating?

       *       *       *       *       *


POLLY TO A. D.

    _Florence,
    June._

Yes, A. D. dear, I, too, am thinking of the balcony and the sunset
and everything connected with your visit here. I have ever so many
enchanting memories of Florence to carry away in my brain, so that in
time to come, they can be taken from out their gray cells in quiet
moments when I am by myself. Especially that stroll through the
Cascine gardens and into the park, where, in its wild hidden places,
we sat and talked,--the warm sunshine streaming through the trees and
the flowers springing up in the grass under our feet. And how
magnificent the Boboli gardens were, their arcades and statues peeping
from the hedges, and the long walk with its splendid vista looking out
beyond the Palace. Then our excursion to Fiesole, breakfast at the
little _osteria_, and shall you ever forget how we climbed up to the
monastery and walked bravely in, where women had no business, and when
the monks saw _me_, how they scuttled away, hiding their faces in
their sleeves!

But, by jinks, this sounds terribly like sentimentalizing! I will stop
at once and be prim and proper.

So you have forgotten what I look like? And have to go to Rossi to
get a photograph! Is it true, I wonder?--“_L’amour fait passer le
temps; le temps fait passer l’amour!_” How I wish I could have looked
in at the Spanish Embassy--to me, the Palazzo and the garden are just
bits out of the fairy tales of my childhood.

Many, many thanks for St. Mark’s little gold cousin of a lion. He is a
dear and I am now wearing him on my chain. I shall look for you next
Sunday in Venice.

       *       *       *       *       *


A. D. TO POLLY

    _Venice,
    June._

It seems very long since you went away, dear Polly, although it was
only the day before yesterday that you left. This morning I went into
St. Mark’s and sat at the foot of one of the great pillars, trying to
imagine that you and I were there together, and that the great iron
shutters were rolled out, and we were seeing again that glorious
golden screen set with onyx and aquamarine.

As I write I can hear the water of the Grand Canal gently lapping the
little terrace of the hotel, and the ripple and plash from a gondola
going past, and the cry of the boatmen. When I look out of the window
I see the saffron sails, patched and tipped with red and brown, or
lemon yellow pointed with faded blue, that come sailing home in the
late afternoon. Soon I shall venture forth by the little back
passages, along the streets, crossing the arching bridges, beneath the
loggia and then finally enter the piazza of St. Mark’s, so gorgeous in
color, as lovely as anything in the world.

Last night I tried to jolly myself by asking my colleague Charlton of
the British Embassy, who has come up here for a day or two, to dinner,
but he must have found me poor company, for my thoughts were in the
train going North with you. Later we took to the water, but--tell your
aunt that she may know I have reformed--I was home by eleven o’clock,
quite tired out.

There was a fête on the Grand Canal. A beautifully decorated barge
came gliding down with singers on board, while hundreds of gondolas
clustered about, and Bengal fires burned all along the terraces. It
was wonderfully weird and fairylike.

Out in the open water the “Stephanie” was illuminated, preparing to
start out at midnight, and the passengers were hanging over the rail
listening to a boatload of serenaders, as they did the evening we
paddled near and watched and listened. But your rooms at the hotel
were empty and as I looked up at them, there was no light nor anyone
standing on the balcony, and I realized how far away you had gone. I
hope you are safe and happy; I pray so.

The pocket case you gave me, dear Polly, is the handsomest in the
world. I have been flourishing it about a great deal to pay, or rather
overpay, gondoliers. I wish to recall the past days as vividly as
possible and so I have been making alone the excursions that we made
together. And it is funny, but I still draw ancient gondoliers, just
as we did.

       *       *       *       *       *


POLLY TO A. D.

    _Bayreuth,
    July._

What a heavenly night we had in Venice out in that gondola when we
stuck on the sand-bar and didn’t care at all, we were so happy. It got
later and later and the moon went down and not until the tide rose in
the early morning did we float away. When we arrived at the hotel, oh,
but wasn’t Aunt angry? She didn’t believe one word we said! I don’t
think she believes our story even now! She suddenly declared tickets
had been bought for the Wagner operas and that we must start the next
day. I never heard of those tickets before! Evidently she still wants
me to marry the Prince and does not approve of my flirting with you.

Even so, I am going to be good to you, for you were good to me in
Venice. I feel pretty blue now that those happy days are gone, and I
wouldn’t part with a memory,--from the merry-go-round at the Lido to
the sand-bar!

But I shall never hear the end of that evening. And I know that’s why
Aunt hurried us all to Bayreuth. Checkers has been making up naughty
verses about the sand-bar, but I shan’t repeat them to you! I doze off
at night thinking about the gondola, the serenades, the moon, the
funny old boatman who was so sleepy,--it was all like a bit out of
fairyland, my fairyland. And now I have waked up and found myself in a
bustling little German town, my fairyland vanished, and my fairy
prince gone!

       *       *       *       *       *


A. D. TO POLLY

    _Rome,
    July._

As we glided into the station yesterday (the last time, I had gone to
the station with you!) shoals of little urchins were swimming in the
water and tumbling in such comical ways that even Gilet couldn’t
retain his gravity and burst out laughing as the small rascals went
splashing and diving into the canal. Too soon we reached the station,
too soon the train ran out across the trestles, and too soon Venice
faded in the offing.

Friends came to meet me (the Consul General was the first to greet me
in Rome this morning), and all must think yours truly mad or in love,
for I am so excited and enthusiastic over my holiday. Do you know, it
is just a week since we came back from the Lido together, skirting the
lovely panorama of the city rising from the sea, when we had so much
to say to each other and a great happiness settled down upon me.

Write to me soon, dear, and tell me what you enjoyed most in Venice.

       *       *       *       *       *


POLLY TO A. D.

    _Bayreuth,
    July._

Such a heavenly day! Aunt and I are sitting on the balcony and
resting. The opera begins tomorrow. Most of the people are in church
and the street is quite quiet, and empty save for a few pretty peasant
girls in gay colors walking the streets. Lots of things have happened
since I last wrote; we drove over to a fair in a little town yesterday
which was very amusing,--cows and pigs, boots, pipes, and all kinds of
things for sale. Then we went into a little inn and had beer and
danced with the peasants. It was lively, but rather different from my
last ball at the American Embassy after the big dinner served on
silver and gold plates, and dancing with “Dips” and princes.

Aunt, my dear old cart-horse, tired me all out in Venice. She
instructed me properly like a well-brought-up American girl, and took
me about sightseeing with the Red Book in her hand, every minute you
were not there, into all the old churches until I feel I never want to
go to a sanctuary again.

You ask me what I liked best in Venice. Well! After you, sir, perhaps
the marvelous bronze horses. I never got tired of looking at them, the
most perfect ones in the world, and I adore horses. Did you know they
were first known to have crowned one of the triumphal arches in Rome?
They journeyed to Constantinople in the time of Constantine for the
Hippodrome, but Doge Enrico Dandolo brought them back to Venice when
he conquered Constantinople in 1204. But this was not all. Napoleon
wished them for his Arch in the Place du Carrousel and not until 1815
were they returned to San Marco by Francis I of Austria, to whose
portion Venice fell in the settlement. Now can you say the
humming-bird has not been sucking wisdom instead of sugar from the
flowers of Venice! And next best, perhaps, I enjoyed the paintings,
especially the auburn-haired Tintorettos, because Aunt too, has just
such beautiful hair.

       *       *       *       *       *


A. D. TO POLLY

    _Rome,
    July._

Jonkheer Jan has had a house warming in his new apartment in the top
of the huge Falconieri Palace, hanging high above the Tiber, with the
Farnesina opposite and the Janiculum, and the city far below. He has a
sunny terrace with the plants already climbing up a trellis and a
little set of rooms which he is beginning to furnish. Today several
congenial souls met up there for tea and music, and then looked out
over the city and the river which lay mapped out below us. He was
quite devoted to our blue-eyed Sybil.

I went yesterday to the Piazza del Quirinale to see the royal
processions come out of the palace and had a fine coign of vantage.
The fanfare blew and the soldiers presented arms, the cortège issued
out beneath the gate and slowly moved across the square and round the
corner out of sight. It was the day when the new Parliament was to be
inaugurated and the King and Queen were to go in state to open the
session, and the Ambassadors and Ministers had to attend in uniform.
There were outriders and cuirassiers and great gilded carriages of
state with lacqueys hanging on behind, and they made a fine show. The
music was gay and joyous, and the sun was shining brightly, but within
an hour it was raining in torrents and the return procession was
through a downpour. But by that time I had sought the protection which
the Embassy grants and was hard at work.

An American Admiral has come to Rome for a few days, leaving his
flagship at Naples. He wishes to be presented to the King and Queen
and so among other things I am busy about that. Last evening I went
over to see him and took him and his flag lieutenant, with whom I at
once struck up a great friendship, to Count L.’s reception in his
palace which lies low beneath the embankment of the river. Through
the courtyard we went, and up the stairway, into the suffocating
rooms, with little knicknacks about by the dozen, all in a mad
confusion. I tried to make the officers enjoy themselves and
introduced them to some girls. When it became too stiflingly crowded,
I steered them away, added dear old Rossi with his genial smile to the
party, and we went to a birreria in the Capo le Casé and had some
wiener wursts and beer; while we were there the Prince came in and the
German Counsellor of Embassy, and we all sat together some time. Then
through the moonlit streets we drove home.

       *       *       *       *       *


A. D. TO POLLY

    _Rome,
    July._

What, mademoiselle, do you think was one of the things which happened
after my return here from Venice? The Prince dropped in to see me, and
running after him came a messenger who handed him a letter--a letter
from you, my lady!--and I can tell you that although I was happy to
see your handwriting, it made me jump a bit and feel queer to think
it was from you and to him, and not to me. I had to sit tight for a
little while and say nothing.

But later came the missive I had looked for, the letter for _me_, dear
Pollykins, and I can tell you I read it eagerly and tried to make it
longer by going over it again. But no matter how many times I read it,
it is too short. Your letters will never be long enough, though they
be miles in length!

The Prince suggested an expedition--an ill-fated one--to Asturia.
Claiming to know the road, he captained it for a while. The affair
proved full of incident. The carriage got stalled in a bog, and one of
the horses literally pulled himself out of the rotten old harness. My
handkerchief and other parts of my attire were used to repair the
break. The Prince, in the middle of it all, calmly said he was tired
of the whole thing. So off he walked, leaving poor Charlton and me to
our fate.

I had almost to lift the team out of the frightful place we sank into,
and to keep encouraging the horses. Meanwhile, the winds from the
Pontine Marshes came blowing over toward us, and even some of the
flowers we picked were said by a passing fisherman to be very
poisonous. The sun was going down and finally it set, and the
interminable sands were still before us. I wrapped up in a newspaper
to keep warm, making a hole in a copy of the _Daily Chronicle_, and
putting my head through and wearing it like a cape, for I didn’t want
to be chilled after the terrific efforts of the afternoon. Finally we
reached home.

But the extraordinary thing is that Boris didn’t seem to be a bit
ashamed of his desertion, after having persuaded us off the road
because he “knew a short cut,” and leaving us in that unspeakable
pickle. He only chuckled over it. I half believe it was the reception
of your letter that made him so unaccountable. I can’t think he was
playing a trick on me. Anyway, I have begun to dislike him.

Bayreuth I am sure you are enjoying. I always think over my visits
there with great pleasure. Years afterward you will find yourself
vividly remembering that wonderful stage setting, and the sound of
that grand elevating music, rising, falling, in those glorious
harmonies. It will be unforgettable.

       *       *       *       *       *


POLLY TO A. D.

    _Bayreuth,
    July._

I have only a minute to write, as I must hurry and read “Siegfried,”
which is to be given this afternoon. Yesterday it was “The Valkyrie,”
which seemed endless,--I had seen it before, in Paris. But “The
Rhinegold” was simply beautiful. I am enjoying every minute of my stay
and only wish you could be here, too.

What a funny world this is! Speaking of Princes and one Prince in
particular, I will give you a little wish: “May the devil cut the toes
of all your foes, that you may know them by their limping!” Where do
you suppose we are going next? Not into a bog with Boris, you may be
sure. I don’t believe you can guess. Well! We start off tomorrow and
go to Baden Baden, then to the Hague, then England, end up in Paris.

       *       *       *       *       *


A. D. TO POLLY

    _Rome,
    July._

It is a fête day in Rome, and a grand review of the troops was held
by the King. About half-past six the regimental bands began to pass up
the Via Venti Settembre. I enjoyed the lively airs which I could
faintly hear from far away, growing louder and louder till under my
very window there was a great burst of melody, mingled with the swash
of marching feet, which went by and became fainter in the distance
again. The review was in the Piazza dell’Indipendenza and a large
holiday crowd had gathered there. The King came with a big staff, the
Queen in semi-state, in a carriage with _corazzieri_. There were not
many troops, but I always like to see the _carabinieri_ with their
three-cornered hats and tail coats and crossed belts. The
_bersaglieri_, too, are amusing and exciting, going on the run,
trailing their guns, with their fluttering cock-feather hats, and
their fanfare in front tooting a gay quickstep.

The Corso, also, was crowded with a procession of bare-headed
_contadini_ in carriages with banners, the prizes won lately at the
festival of the _Divina Amore_. The cathedrals were thronged, the
doors hung with crimson and gold curtains, and within, hundreds of
candles burning. Little girls in their confirmation dresses walked in
procession, the proud parents following. It was all really very gay.

The Ambassador who has been away the past week, returned, and we made
a long excursion to Bracciano, the small town on a rock jutting into
the lake. The great castle, once the stronghold of the Orsini, but now
belonging to Prince Odescalchi, rises high above the village.

We had brought our luncheon and champagne, and had it served in the
dining hall of the château. It was a very jolly luncheon and a good
one. Then, after a rest, we climbed over the castello, up into the
battlements and towers, and looked down at the vineyards and the lake
far below us, and out over the chestnut-wooded mountains which stretch
away to the northward. Although Prince Odescalchi passes some time
here, and although he is very rich, yet the halls and courtyards are
crumbling into ruins.

I experienced an exciting incident since I last wrote, which, thank
God! had no terrible results. For a time, however, I felt I was
looking down on a fatal panic. A fire broke out in a crowded theatre
where I was, and I am much more moved by it now than I was at the
time, when I took the affair coolly enough, though it was really
frightful.

It was a gala night at the Opera House Costanzi, where we attended the
masked ball in the carnival season, you remember. The house was
crowded, the pit and orchestra jammed, the boxes all taken and a
ballet with gay music and dancing was being performed--when suddenly
in the molding above the top row of boxes,--I was in one with some
colleagues--there was a phit! phiz-z-z, and a blue flame shot out and
ran sputtering along the woodwork.

For a moment there was a dead stillness, and only the crackling flame
along the electric wire could be heard. Then came a horrible cry which
still rings in my ears, and it seemed as if the whole audience rose in
a mass and rushed to the exits where it struggled and swayed and
choked. The orchestra, instead of being panic-stricken and scrambling
away, played the Royal March, which could just be heard above the din
of confusion. Actors rushed to the front of the stage and tried to
stop the mad stampede. Into the empty boxes, which had cleared in a
twinkling, we rushed and hung out over the balustrade, trying to whip
out the fire with our coats.

In a few moments, some police and firemen joined us and chopped the
burning wood with axes and swords till it fell in sparks about the
orchestra. Then it was a fight until it was put out at last, and the
curtain dropped. Suddenly, again, this time nearer the proscenium,
with its wings, scenes, and flies, there was a sputter, a flash, and
the fire broke out again in a different place, evidently from the same
dangerous wire. Another moment of intense stillness, and then the
firemen rushed along the gallery a second time and whipped and beat
out the flames. The curtain rolled slowly up, showing the great stage
with the ballet only half-dressed, looking anxiously about. The actors
pluckily tried to continue the performance; a few people stayed, but
we scarcely felt in the humor for our coats were scorched and our
hands black. There were no terrible results, but it might have been so
frightful, and the glimpse of the possibility has made me realize the
terror of such a catastrophe.

I have been dining with Prince Boris lately; we do not speak of you,
he, because he dares not, I, because I will not. I would rather think
of you silently.

The heat is becoming intense and I’ve not been feeling very well
lately.

       *       *       *       *       *


A. D. TO POLLY

    _Rome,
    July._

This evening the Girandola came off--or rather, went off, for it was
all fireworks, and very fine. The tribunes in the Piazza del Popolo
were crowded, and two bands of music played in the thronged square. It
was an astonishing sight when unexpectedly a powerful searchlight was
turned on, illuminating a sea of upturned faces.

As we sat waiting, a rocket went up over the sky from the Quirinal
Palace as a signal that the Royal Party had started. In a little while
another told that they were approaching; in a moment more Their
Majesties arrived in the royal box, the band played, bombs exploded
in a salute, and a thousand Roman candles shot up in the black night
and burst into a million stars. Soon there was a fizzing, and
gradually the gleaming outline of a huge cathedral, which they say can
be seen far out on the Campagna, was revealed. This is a design
retained from Papal days. All sorts of serpents and wheels and golden
rains followed. Then suddenly a fiery dart went hissing above the
heads of the people and smashed against a great column in the centre
of the square, flying into a dozen pieces, each of which ran on wires
to a corner of the piazza, and set off the Bengal lights.

And so the celebration ended in the midst of a great red glow. The
crowds went away in their thousands, down the Babuino, the Corso, the
Ripetta, and the huge searchlights were directed along each of these
streets, making them bright as day while the people moved along. But
Polly, perhaps like Mr. Dooley you think that “th’ doings iv a king
ain’t anny more interestin’ than th’ doings iv a plumber or a baseball
player.”

       *       *       *       *       *


POLLY TO A. D.

    _Baden Baden,
    July._

“I love you just as much as ever, dearest A. D.--Do you love me? Will
you be mine?” Checkers is dictating, so don’t be alarmed!

What a terrible fire that was! I am sure you were the hero of the
occasion. Thank heaven you were not injured!

About two weeks ago this time, you and I at the Lido were riding madly
on merry-go-rounds, seeing trained fleas, and throwing balls. Tonight
my twin and I are going to have a game. You know the old
saying--“Lucky at cards, unlucky at love.” I wonder if I shall win or
lose.

We got so desperate we asked two dreadful Americans to come up for
poker. Checkers is having even a more stupid time than I am, but he is
becoming very chummy with the proprietor, and was actually roped into
going to church, where he passed the plate with an air almost as fine
as yours!

I know he wants to send messages to you, for he often says, “Well, I
really am going to write to A. D. today.” Whether these letters ever
get off or not I do not know.

The other evening, however, was quite amusing, as the beer garden was
full of people, and there was a handsome Italian whom I thought I was
falling in love with; he gave a fascinating bicycle performance. I
bought his photograph, but after talking with him, I decided I did not
like him at all, and threw the picture away.

Signor Peppi is with us, as you know, and Aunt is happy. If they
aren’t engaged now, I think they will be soon. We all went to ride on
horseback today and came home nearly dead, though P. was plucky and
stuck it out. It is so nice to get on a horse again, you can’t imagine
how I enjoy it. I think it is next best to a gondola and a sand-bank.
I am sending you, by the way, a little silver gondola with my love.

P. S. Is there any news from Don Carlo in South Africa? Did the
gardener’s daughter follow him? And my little Spaniard, Gonzaga, how
is he?

       *       *       *       *       *


A. D. TO POLLY

    _Monte Catini,
    July._

Here I am at Monte Catini for a cure. The gods were good to me today,
little Polly, indeed they were, for I received a silver gondola and
oh, I am so happy! It is the prettiest little toy in the world, and a
reminder of the most wonderful evening ever spent. It shall stand on
my table before me, though I do not need anything to recall Venice and
what is always in my heart. Tell Checkers I will certainly be yours,
and I wish he would dictate oftener.

I am a little nearer to you than I was yesterday, and that of course
is what makes me feel better already. A complete cure would be to be
with you. But still, I’m not feeling very well yet, and long for you
to write often, whether you are tired, or travelling, or wish to, or
don’t!

All the way up to Florence on the train I thought of the time when you
were there, and how excited I got as I hurried up the stairs and
arrived at your rooms all out of breath,--though I hoped you wouldn’t
notice it. And this led me to thinking of the wonder of the spring in
Rome, and of the dance in the lovely Antici Mattei palace. Do you
remember how I stood keeping your place in the cotillion? Why I was
even jealous of poor Pittsburgo then, for I didn’t know he was in love
with the Italian singer. And how you came out and favored me--it was
the sweetest thing that was ever done. Meanwhile, journeying through
this age-old land, a snatch of verse goes running through my head.

    “Helen’s lips are drifting dust,
    Ilion is consumed with rust;
    All the galleons of Greece
    Drink the ocean’s dreamless peace;
    Stately empires wax and wane--
    Babylon, Barbary, and Spain;--
    Only one thing, undefaced,
    Lasts though all the worlds lie waste
    And the heavens are overturned.
    --Dear, how long ago we learned.”

So, thinking of you, the trip which promised to be tiresome and long,
turned into a very interesting journey. It occurred to me to stop over
at Orvieto, perched up on that great rock, jutting out of the plain, a
medieval but clean little town with very correct architecture, and of
course most famous for its cathedral, thought by some to be the most
beautiful in the world. I do not think it is, but then to me it was
chiefly a reminder, for seeing its mosaics and gorgeous façade, I
could only think of St. Mark’s, which we had visited together, and
which, accordingly, is to me the most glorious that I have ever seen.

In the sunlight of midday the church at Orvieto is brilliant but
glaring. The carvings are rich and handsome, but the mosaics are out
of place in its Gothic character. Inside are some very fine frescoes
by Signorelli, and oh, such a wonderful silver lamp!

Here I saw, too, the Podesta, and the Ospedale. The Duomo in itself is
rather insignificant, for its façade in Pisan style, with ascending
stories of little colonnades, is too small, but I liked the ancient
fortified tower, which has been turned into a campanile, with its
crown of pillared porticoes. Inside, in one of the chapels, is an
altar screen of silver, not to compare with the screen of gold and
carbuncle, aquamarine and precious stones of St. Mark’s, but with a
story in high relief of the Saviour and apostles and saints. It was
made in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries.

Just before leaving Rome, I called on the Minister of Foreign Affairs,
as our Ambassador was out of town. At these receptions the Dips are
seen at their best, with their most diplomatic manner, all meeting in
the anteroom, waiting for their turn to enter (ambassadors take
precedence), talking on anything but politics, yet smiling knowingly
as if they were bottling up most important state secrets, pretending
to be unruffled, though very excited. The time that each one remains
with the Minister of Foreign Affairs is carefully noted and commented
on.

It was amusing, for the Turkish Ambassador and the Greek Chargé smiled
and bowed and scraped in the outer room, and then went and probably
did all they could to harm each other in the private room of the
Minister. As we had nothing of importance to discuss just now, His
Excellency and I only passed compliments and assured each other of our
mutual and highest esteem and consideration, and expressed hopes that
everything would always be satisfactorily conducted and concluded
between us. As I came away, the French Chargé was disappearing
through the folding door--for an Ambassador, they would have opened
the double doors. It is mysterious to watch these disappearances into
a room where a Foreign Minister is hidden.

I dined with some Diplomats the night before I came away and it was a
sad sort of a meal. I think they’ll miss me, for each of them confides
in me about the peculiarities of the others. Really, the Prince is
behaving in a most extraordinary manner. The other night he began
running down France to a mild, new, little French Secretary--called
French women ugly, French society a sham, French institutions bosh,
and so attacked the poor astonished little gentleman at his own table
that the others had to break up the dinner and the conversation. I
can’t think what he was driving at. But whatever his faults, he is
very clever, and he and I still go to the _birreria_ together. As a
rule, he is a most agreeable talker, which makes his outburst the
other night all the more incomprehensible.

Today is quite a fête day in Monte Catini. The _contadini_ have been
coming down in swarms, and are standing about the crowded main square
beneath my windows, doing--nothing! But doing it so well. I really
think an Italian idles more complacently and contentedly and
picturesquely than any other mortal.

The little town is crowded with country folk celebrating the festival
of the Assumption, or the Madonna of Mid-August. The little cracked
bells of the tiny church have been tinkling and in front of the church
is a staging for a tombola. A train with excursionists and a band is
expected from Pistoja and they promise fireworks tonight.

The alleys beneath the trees are crowded with _contadini_ wearing
bright-colored kerchiefs on their heads, the women walking three and
four abreast, while the men (what hulking, skulking, awkward creatures
men are!) come lumbering after them, and there is a great cracking of
whips and shouting as the little carts go rapidly past. It makes a
very animated scene. About midday I think they’ll disappear, though,
for it is hot and the sun is beating down, while the distant hills
stand out in this wonderful Italian atmosphere as if seen through a
telescope, so distinctly visible are the white houses glowing on their
green sides and little towns perched on their tops.

Oh, Polly dear, when I think of you, the whole world seems different
to me! With you in my heart I take a greater delight and interest in
people and things, and feel new ambitions and enjoyments, looking at
all things objectively, like a spectator at a play. You have awakened
my sympathies so that I am excited when the villain comes sneaking
between the borders, and moved when the heroine weeps, and exultant
when the hero arrives in the nick of time, and virtue triumphs. In
other words, I care more for the world because of you.

The little gondola is in front of me on the table with its saucy
silver prow cocked up in the air, and its filigree cabin hood and its
precious cargo of reminders of the happy Venetian days, for when I
left Rome, although in light marching order, I couldn’t bear to leave
it behind, so brought it along in my pocket.

I am returning to Rome but just for a day or so.

       *       *       *       *       *


POLLY TO A. D.

    _Baden-Baden,
    August._

What a bad, bad child I am not to write oftener--does the fascinating
Mona Lisa correspond constantly? I feel quite guilty, after receiving
so many long and interesting letters from you. Well, I am very, very
sorry that you are not well, and only wish I were with you at Monte
Catini to take care of you.

A. D., what do you think? ! ! ! I have had another proposal--this one by
letter--since I saw you. From Gonzaga; but I wrote him he had better
marry his cousin the Countess and forget me. Aunt thinks it isn’t so
fine an offer, from a worldly point of view, as the Prince’s, (he
writes Aunt frequently) and she still has hopes of my changing my mind
and accepting him. If I married G. his mother would not approve of me,
an American. She would say I was too independent and had married him
for his title. Although life as the wife of a Spanish Diplomat spent
in the different capitals of Europe would be interesting, still I know
G. would not remain true to me for more than a few months, at most.

If I married Captain Carlo, well! I would hunt on the Campagna, join
the gayest set in Rome, and continue my flirtations. I would wear the
family jewels and keep the tapestries (unless we got hard up) and be
tolerated if I presented my lord and master with a son and heir. But
then he is far away in South Africa by now.

If I should marry Prince Boris, what would my life be? Ah! that is a
question. On the whole I might get more out of life by marrying a
foreigner and living in Europe, than an American and passing my time
maybe in a small western town, who knows?

Signor Peppi leaves this afternoon for Rome, and, I fear, without
making an offer to Aunt. I want to send you something by him, but he
has already lost his boots and cane as well as his overcoat, so no
telling how much of him will arrive there. However, I will risk
sending you a little gift.

I am just full of business. Aunt says I must learn to travel, so this
is the first trip I am to manage. I have been despatching telegrams in
all directions, buying tickets, reservations, and Baedekers, and so
forth, and I hope we shall get to the Hague all right.

Are you behaving yourself these days, sir?

       *       *       *       *       *


A. D. TO POLLY

    _Rome._

THE DIARY OF A DAY’S DOINGS[4]

A leaflet published under the _nom de plume_ of

    “An August Daily”
    (very august)

    Dedicated with love to Miss Pollykins.

  [4] Issued in response to a certain inquiry as to whether or not I am
      behaving myself.

Was awakened at the usual hour by the faithful Gilet, and as usual
turned over and went to sleep again. Up betimes, however, and reviewed
the morning news in the _Populo Romano_. Breakfasted on two eggs and a
cup of coffee.

Today tried for the first time a new-fangled egg-opener, which, I
concluded, would require practice and experience before using in
public. Shall have to have another napkin for the table at luncheon
time.

Then out and to the Embassy. Found the usual assortment of mail on my
desk, desiring audiences of Queen, or Pope; loan of money, or of
anything, and proposals of marriage, to which last item I sent printed
forms of reply.

Work.

More work.

Will you subscribe to this publication, dear Polly?

       *       *       *       *       *


POLLY TO A. D.

    _The Hague,
    August._

So you have made a flying trip to Rome, launched a daily paper, and
returned to Monte Catini. For that matter, I, too, have not been idle,
for we have had, since my last letter, a chapter of adventures,
really. You know I was going to take charge of this complicated trip.
Well! Fate was against me. We started off nicely from Baden-Baden, but
hadn’t gone far when a discussion arose with the guard as to where to
change cars. A station official settled that and hustled us into
another train. As we were feeling quite contented and having a good
snooze, we suddenly heard a great rumpus, and found our caboose had
broken down on a bridge. They flagged the Orient express which was
coming behind and hurried us out again into the dark with our bags and
put us aboard, but in the excitement Louisa, the maid, lost her
ticket.

At Strasbourg we had to change cars once more, and being late, we
simply dashed across the station with the guards flying behind and
yelling, “You have only one minute!” It really was awfully comical.
Arriving at Brussels early I had a splendid morning, seeing among
other things the Grande Place with its beautiful old buildings, and
visiting the Gallery Wiertz with all those marvellous but crazy
pictures.

Back to the train again, but alas! our troubles were not at an end.
Checkers stopped to pay the cabby and Aunt and I went into the
station. I was a little ahead with a bag in each hand when suddenly a
perfectly strange man came up and kissed me. I screamed, dropped
everything I was carrying and stared about me, only to see him run
away and look back, laughing. Did you ever hear of anything so saucy?

We got into the car somehow, but Checkers didn’t come and so we went
off without him. Aunt said someone must have cast an evil eye on us.
Such an amusing account as Checkers gave us later of his experience in
Brussels! It seems he had only three francs in his pocket, not enough
for the cab. The driver was furious and couldn’t understand his French
and thought he was trying to cheat him and demanded his arrest. A
sympathetic Englishman offered to “change him a crown,” which,
unfortunately, he didn’t possess. Finally he went to a banker’s and
got things straightened out and came on the next train. It is only
three-thirty now and I am wondering what will happen next. The
excitement can’t keep up much longer. The “Sensation Captain,” as they
now call me, has resigned.

Aunt sends her love but says the only thing she has against you so far
is the fear that she may become a confirmed dipsomaniac through
drinking your health so often. But it is really a silent toast to
Peppi, I think. Of course, if she wants to cherish an absurd
attachment for him it is none of my business, but she makes me just a
little tired!

       *       *       *       *       *


A. D. TO POLLY

    _Monte Catini,
    August._

Dear, dear Sensation Captain, what a day that was, to be sure, that
you wrote about. I have read and re-read your experiences and wish I
might have been along to share the perils by cabmen and the perils by
train! But you reached The Hague all the same while I was at this
ineffective distance. Oh, please let _me_ manage a trip some time for
my pretty Polly.

Your little gondola is here in my pocket, for we are inseparable
companions. Indeed I know of none more agreeable, since I cannot be
with you, for while the little boat is always suggesting something
pleasant, yet she permits me to do the talking; so we get on
swimmingly, or rather floatingly, the gondola and I.

I often think, dear, how at the big receptions last spring, I found
such delight in looking at you. Your manner toward all was so
charming. And do you remember the dinner at the American Embassy when
I didn’t sit next to the girl I wanted? But you didn’t seem to mind,
and flirted with the Prince, though every now and then you did look at
me just a little, didn’t you? And then afterwards, in the great
corridor, when the Ambassador was talking to you more affably than I
had ever seen him, I stood by and felt proud and didn’t know
why--though I do now, indeed!

I saw the Spanish Marquis yesterday. He looked at me suspiciously, but
perhaps it was just my imagination, because I knew you had refused
him. No one has heard from Don Carlo, but I believe the gardener’s
daughter _has_ followed him to South Africa.

As for my conduct in Monte Catini, I am doing pretty well, which is
the limit of opportunity in this Tuscan place among the Pistojan
hills. Anyhow, your Dip is thinking constantly of you, and looking a
good many times lately into the back of his timepiece (which Checkers
wanted to inspect, do you remember? and I wouldn’t let him). People
may think I am gazing at the face of my watch, but I watch another
face, I assure you!

       *       *       *       *       *


POLLY TO A. D.

    _The Hague,
    August._

Oh, A. D., such a funny time as we have had since arriving here! Our
bad luck still continues. First hotel, no rooms to be had; second
hotel, rooms but no meals; third, only one room left, and they were
surprised because Aunt, Checkers and I didn’t want to sleep in it all
together. “Why, it is a big one!” said the proprietor. How we laughed!
But we have a fine apartment now and are quite happy.

It has rained steadily all day and this morning we went to see the
“House in the Woods.” The practical, plump little Queen is away. I
suppose we shall spend most of the day in the picture galleries. The
Hague gives me the impression of being one huge gallery of more or
less immoral fat men and women carousing.

One thing is certain, this country is a paradise for cows, with its
green pastures. I do wish we had our cow here with us for she would
enjoy the grass so much.

Jonkheer Jan’s house is fine and large. They have a remarkable
collection of Delft ware, plates all over the walls, and tapestries,
splendid wood-carving in the hall, and no end of old Dutch silver.
Please tell him how we enjoyed meeting his mother and father, as he
was good enough to give us a letter of introduction to them.

But, oh, I am so homesick I don’t know what to do! Nearly a year away
from home. At first there was the excitement of seeing new places and
people, and I did enjoy travelling, but now it has worn off a little,
and you are so far away. That ought not to make any difference, I have
seen you so little, but I think it does. I haven’t flirted with a soul
for such a long time--not since I left you in Venice. Rather good for
me. But, A. D., how little we have really seen of each other! Here and
there last spring, just a glimpse at a party, a few words of society
nonsense, and perhaps a bit of a chat in the small room on the
terrace, and--your coming to Sorrento. I was so surprised that you
wanted to come.

But, to be sure, Mona Lisa had left Rome.

Then Florence and the sunsets, which I mention so often that Checkers
thinks them a bit worn out, but now that I have Venice to look back
on, the rest of it tends to fade away. And yet, we had only three days
together there.

Everything will be so different at home for me, and very likely you
will forget me if your divorcée returns to Rome. I am sure she cares
for you, and besides, she is fascinating, and you and Peppi think her
beautiful. Are you still devoted to her, I wonder, and do you write to
her, too? You never mention her in your letters. I suppose you know
just what you are doing, writing me so often?

What a long lecture I have given you, and you will probably say to
yourself, what foolishness I have written! But I’ve told you I always
write just what pops into my head. There’s a kiss for you here
somewhere; can you find it?

       *       *       *       *       *


A. D. TO POLLY

    _Monte Catini,
    August._

My darling, I am sorry you are homesick, for I know the misery of it,
and how strange scenes and peoples and places and ways have kept you
excited till now you feel weary. Believe me, Polly, I have spoken
truly, and your letter which came to me today is so sweet, yet it
troubles me a little with its doubt. Nevertheless, the kiss you send
quite takes the pain away.

Charlton of the British Embassy has not been at all well and has
joined me here to take the cure. The other day he said he had hoped
that you and I might like each other (like each other, indeed!) and at
this I laughed heartily.

I dined with him at his _locanda_ last evening and as usual he had
made all sorts of careful preparations and the dinner was the best the
landlady could provide, at a little special table beneath an arbor
with a trellis of American woodbine. We could hear in the distance a
band, for it was a fête day again. He treats me with so much ceremony
on these occasions--I am bowed in and bowed out by the whole
establishment in such a way that I feel quite set up. I get him to
talking on his hobby, coins, and then--I think of you. And so we are
both happy.

Your token has just been sent on to me here by Peppi, and entrusted to
the care of Charlton. The first words I blotted with it are the two
that begin this letter, “My darling.” I am so grateful for it, and you
know the thought that sent it is most precious. It means so much to
me. I truly was in need of a blotter, for both my old one and the
little one in my travelling bag have been used up by my many letters
to you. It is so nice to be thought of by one whom one wishes to be
thought of by!

I am reading of the Prince of Naples’ visit to Montenegro to see his
Princess, as interestedly as if I really had something depending on
it. Everyone knows all the details of the royal match. As Mr. Dooley
says, “Nowadays th’ window shades is up at th’ king’s house as well as
everywhere else. Th’ gas is lighted, and we see his Majesty stormin’
around because th’ dinner is late and brushin’ his crown before goin’
out.” I watch the _contadini_, too, when they come into this little
town,--the lovers,--and wonder at them and with them. For in these
things, you know, dear, prince and peasant meet.

Do not bother your little head about Mona Lisa; _you_ are a dear!

       *       *       *       *       *


A. D. TO POLLY

    _Monte Catini,
    August._

The papers today announce the engagement of the Prince of Naples. And
so they are happy, for I believe it is a genuine love affair.
Charlton says the Prince is a fine fellow because he is a numismatist,
a collector of coins, while I think him a fine fellow for choosing his
bride so, and doubtless we both are right. I wish them all luck, don’t
you?

Boris and I said goodbye before I left Rome for Monte Catini. He may
have an idea of how happy I am (he saw me enthusiastically so) but he
didn’t let on. Indeed he may not suspect we are writing to each other.
He is starting for Paris, but journeying there only indirectly. I
can’t help wondering whether he is going to see you, or going on one
of his strange private errands--perhaps a combination of both. You
know every naval or military attaché is really more or less of a spy.
However, he is not acknowledged as an attaché by his embassy. Rather
peculiar, on the whole.

Just before leaving Rome he fought a duel. It appears he was rude to
the Marquis Gonzaga, who they say, behaved like a gentleman in the
affair, and there was a rencontre at which, alas! the Marquis was
scratched, literally scratched, and honor (the Prince’s honor) was
satisfied. So they shook hands. What a farce!

I believe that, as usual in such cases, a woman’s name was mixed up in
it, but I do not know whose. I sincerely hope it was not yours. I
remember they had words about you the night of Pittsburgo’s dinner at
the Grand when Gonzaga tried to kiss you. Perhaps Boris will tell you
all about it.

       *       *       *       *       *


POLLY TO A. D.

    _London,
    September._

Here we are in your old lodgings on Half Moon Street, and very cosy we
find it. We arrived early this morning. The passage over from Holland
was very smooth and comfortable, and what do you suppose? ! ! ! Mr.
Easthope who keeps the lodgings handed me the dearest little bunch of
white pinks! I thought it very sweet of him, but when I found your
card tied to them, I thought it much sweeter. He appeared in a very
fine evening suit, ah! But he couldn’t look so fine as your Gilet. I
remember him at the pretty dinners in your rooms, as smooth and
dignified as a bishop. Those times seem so far away now--when shall I
see you again? In Paris? Yes, the Prince has written Aunt that he will
join us there. Whom could the duel have been about? Really _me_, do
you suppose?

Such a delicious little dinner we had tonight, it seemed like home,
with pretty flowers on the table, and we all drank your health. You
must have lived like a fighting cock here--how many years ago was it,
dear old A. D.?

Oh pooh! I don’t see how you can say the Prince of Naples’ engagement
is a true love affair. Why, he can’t marry anyone but a Princess, and
a Catholic one at that, can he? So it doesn’t leave him much choice.
After all, I don’t think it matters. My views have changed somewhat
after being so long in Europe. Why, there are a lot of happy marriages
over here that have been cooked up by the families!

Checkers wants to be remembered, but says his nose is out of joint
since I have taken up with you. Thank you for the flowers, telegrams,
messages--I love them all.

       *       *       *       *       *


A. D. TO POLLY

    _Monte Catini,
    September._

Oh how eagerly I read of your safe crossing and arrival in London,
dear! I am so glad you are at Easthope’s. I know every nook and corner
thereabouts, so I can think of you in familiar surroundings, passing
through the little hallway--isn’t it a sort of toy play-house? Have
you learned the postman’s rap yet? I can hear him now coming gradually
down the street from house to house, and finally knocking, bang, bang,
on the front door. And then when you go out, Easthope takes down his
whistle and gives a sharp toot, once for a growler, twice (two short
ones) for a two-wheeler, and from the rank on the other side of
Piccadilly, along the green park, there hurries a hansom and you get
in. Easthope closes the flap in front and then looks inquiringly to
know where he shall tell the cabby to go, or else the cabby himself
opens his little trap (on a rainy day letting in a rivulet) and waits
to be told--Eaton Square, Victoria Station, the stores, or the Gaiety
Theatre--and off you start, the little bells at the horse’s collar
ringing, down the street and into the stream of Piccadilly.

I can see you dining, or breakfasting with muffins and marmalade, the
table so spick and span, and Easthope so intelligent and thoughtful.
But then, he is one in a million, really. I wonder if there is the
same housemaid whom I used to hear before daylight beginning her work
sweeping and cleaning, in the way it was done a century ago. She was
so hard-working and so faithful!

It is not the same boy, I am pretty sure, that helps Easthope, for he
no sooner gets one trained up in the way he should go than some lodger
finds him so good that he takes him away, and Easthope patiently
begins to turn another lout into a footman,--a worm into a butterfly!

Go through Lansdowne Passage some day--it is a short and curious way
of getting to Bond and Dover Streets. Turn into Curzon Street to its
very end and walk through the passageway between Lansdowne House and
Devonshire House to Hay Hill. It is a mysterious little alley to be in
the heart of a great city, the scene of a murder, they say. In my
time it was kept and patrolled by a one-eyed, uncanny-looking old
sweeper who used to waylay me for pennies. When the sweep left, he
would leave his broom behind leaning against the wall to show he
intended to come back, and so maintained his right against any other
who might try to take his place. I send you a little silver broom, my
broom, dear. Take good care of it and don’t let anyone else carry it
away.

I have woven a gossamer web of thoughts, oh so beautiful and delicate
and fine, like threads of gold; and you are caught and tangled in it
and you struggle and struggle, and try to get away, but the meshes of
the web are too strong, and all in vain. Then I, like a ferocious
great spider, come quickly across the web and catch you, and there you
are to stay--in my arms! And so you try to escape and go to Paris and
the Prince, yet there you are in my arms--it is altogether puzzling
but true.

       *       *       *       *       *


POLLY TO A. D.

    _London,
    September._

Darling! There is no dictation about that this time, A. D., for
Checkers is out buying boots, neckties, and I know not what, for he
lunches with a fair charmer today, and is getting ready to do what he
calls “The Great Mash Act.” He is a dear old thing, all the same.

Such a lovely bunch of red roses and your darling little broom came
this morning,--yes, I am fond of you, and why shouldn’t I say so? I am
getting a little restless for you, I haven’t seen you for so long.

It is a pity to leave London even for a few days’ hunting in
Leicestershire, for this little apartment is so nice and Mr. Easthope
so kind--all on your account. I bought a lovely frame for your picture
and you don’t know how gordgeous you look, standing on my dressing
table where I can see you most all the time, think of you the rest,
and dream of you when I am asleep. Now, isn’t that sweet? I can’t help
laughing as I write, for you see I am not in the habit of saying such
things. I wonder if many girls have written you that--Mona Lisa, for
instance? I should think they all would! P. S. I am so ashamed--if you
were here, you would see me blush. Now you will laugh, but I spelt
gorgeous wrong. I asked Checkers who has just returned and I haven’t
time to re-write the letter. Aunt is out, brother is packing, and it
looks as if we were to move on again.

       *       *       *       *       *


A. D. TO POLLY

    _Monte Catini,
    September._

Charlton and I made an excursion to Lucca the other day and quite a
success it proved. Off we drove in the early morning, with pheasant
feathers and jangling bells on our horses, trotting by the trellised
vineyards, the vines wreathing between trees of mulberry, and the
great bunches of grapes beginning to grow purple, past brakes of cane,
between the walls of villas, up and over bridges where the rivers run
higher than the country, banked up by the levees, on through the
plain. In the distance rose the hills, deep blue behind and pale blue
in ranges beyond. We met the country people coming from the fair at
Borgo Buggiano--the greatest cattle market in Tuscany--driving
beautiful white and brindled cows. Soon we came to the town itself and
rattled along its flag-paved streets, making a great noise with
cracking whip and warning cries, and the _contadini_ crowded up
against the wall and stopped their business to watch us as we passed
the gay booths with displays of many colored, mottled, glazed earthen
ware, set forth, perilously near our wheels.

Then out into the country again, and on across flat green meadows from
which rise the ancient walls of Lucca with shaded avenues of
sycamores. We walked on the ramparts after luncheon and visited the
gallery of the Palazzo Ducale with its good Fra Bartolomeos, and the
cathedral filled with tinsel votive offerings of all kinds, and paper
flowers. There were preparations for a pilgrimage which is to adore
the Holy Image, a wooden likeness of the Saviour which Saint Somebody
rescued in Palestine once on a time and placed in a ship without oar
or rudder and set adrift. So the ship floated, miraculously directed
by Providence, to the shores of Italy, and wonderment came over the
people who saw the vessel mysteriously cruising up and down. They
tried to catch it, but it fled from them until one Archbishop of
Lucca, awakened from a warning dream, went out to find it. And the
moment the boat saw the aforesaid archpriest upon the shore it sailed
confidingly up to him and delivered its sacred image, which so came to
Lucca. This is quite like the House of the Virgin at Loreto which was
brought by a flight of angels through the air to that town--to be a
fruitful source of income, for hundreds of thousands of pilgrims visit
the place each year.

P. S. How I should like to run up to Paris, but the Ambassador would
not approve of my having leave again. I am more disappointed than you
can know, but I still hope to see you in America before long--am
returning to Rome.

       *       *       *       *       *


A. D. TO POLLY

    _Rome,
    September._

Think of it! The middle of September--and already it seems as if Rome
were taking on its preparations and spinning its web for the catching
of foreigners. One or two of the shops in the Via Condotti and the
Piazza di Spagna have taken down the shutters, and visitors have
already been seen looking into the windows. Next the antiquity dealers
will open, then the hotels, and after that--hurrah! I shall hope to
see you in New York.

The past day you have been constantly in my thoughts and my heart. Let
me see, where have I taken you? To the Embassy in the morning, into
the city to do some commissions, down the Quattro Fontane, down the
steep hill past the Barberini, cutting the corner of the piazza with
its glorious Triton blowing the fountain of spray high into the air,
and into the narrow little Triton Street--the wretched artery that
joins the two Romes--with its crowd of carriages and carts and people
moving slowly, and then to the right along the Due Macelli, and so to
the sunny Piazza di Spagna. Later in the afternoon while sitting in my
rooms, Jonkheer Jan came to see me, looking the same as ever, thin,
tall, and blonde, and stayed on till I was sure he would be late for
his dinner. Do you remember how he would come in late to see you,
always in a hurry, with smiles and excuses and profuse apologies,
twisting his ring around his finger?

The British secretaries have gone to Frascati in a body to stay till
repairs have been made on the Embassy. So I went out there “to dine
and sleep” as they call it in England, and enjoyed the little outing
very much. This morning I took an early train and came down the
hillside, between the groves of grotesque olive trees and across the
endless rolling Campagna half hidden in mauve-colored mist, with its
unholy charm, its lonely skeletons of towers and procession of
aqueducts, the great graveyard of the mighty Past.

How I should like to be in Leicestershire with you, though. You know I
feel like saying that the trip through the Trossachs, the visits to
Holland House and Knole Park, and the other things which you haven’t
been able to do this year, we can do some time together! I am almost
afraid to add, “Can’t we, shan’t we?” for fear you may answer back at
once “Indeed no! What _are_ you talking about?”

Isn’t the way they do things in England funny? The conventions are
amusing for a time--and pleasant too,--then they become chill and
monotonous, like the endless green hedges and woods and parks of
lovely England. But one gets tired, after seeing them day after day,
year after year, and I used to ache for a patch of American landscape
with its sunburnt yellow corn, its brown earth, its zigzag snake
fences of the south, and its whitewashed shanties with the real good
old-fashioned negro loafing about in tattered trousers and coat.

I have just received an amusing letter from Checkers in which he says;
“Give up the diplomatic service, old boy. Come to America and go into
business with me. You’ll be as good at it as a gold fish, for you’ve
been around the globe; you’ll make money cabbage, for you’ve got a
head.”

Who knows, I may.

       *       *       *       *       *


POLLY TO A. D.

    _Leicestershire,
    October._

“Bye baby bunting--papa’s gone a-hunting!” But I am letting the cat,
or rather the fox out of the bag.

You know we’re staying with friends at Kibworth. A carriage met us at
the station and brought us to Carlton Curlieu Hall, a fascinating old
house, part of it built in the fifteenth century and part Elizabethan,
with a garden, great trees, and a little pond. Near by are the stables
with nine hunters, and farther away is an old church with its
vicarage, and the village--a few low houses of red brick, some with
thatched roofs.

I had the bed-room Oliver Cromwell slept in the night before the
battle of Naseby. Most of these old houses have a ghost, but Oliver,
I’m sorry to say, didn’t appear.

We are having a ripping time. The Honorable Violet somebody or other
is here, among others. She is lady-in-waiting to the Queen, and a very
charming person. But I don’t know nearly so many Lords and Dukes and
things as you do. I used to detest such people, being an American,
but I find I have changed my mind. What few I have seen have been
perfectly delightful.

Well, the meet yesterday was just like some hunting-pictures we have
at home, with maybe two hundred people, the women and children mostly
on ponies, or driving two-wheeled carts. Then came the ride to cover,
and the drawing. The field was made up of all classes, statesmen,
parsons, peers, and farmers,--all the way from the Duchess of
Hamilton, homely in a brown habit and riding as hard as a man, to a
horse-dealer.

It was quite windy, and most of them said to each other as they
passed, “Good morning. It’s a beastly windy day!”

The hounds rushed in and out of the covers in the hope of finding a
fox, and the huntsmen hallooed and blew their horns. There wasn’t any
fox in the first cover, but at last one was discovered in the open,
and so the pack went scurrying, the huntsmen after them, and the
whips. To my surprise, instead of going straight over a hedge into the
next field, most of the men went galloping off toward a gate. I
didn’t know before that it was bad form to jump unnecessarily. Quite
different in America.

Helter-skelter through the back yards and gardens of the little
cottages we rode, scattering chickens and pigs and children right and
left, while the village people stood in their doorways and watched the
hunters stream past.

Then there was a check--the fox had hidden in one of the barnyards,
and the huntsmen, hounds, and all the small boys searched for him,
while everybody else stood round or walked about in the square in
front of the Bull Head Inn. Soon there was a halloo--the fox had been
found hiding in a hay mow. He was driven out, “broken up” and the
carcass given to the dogs, who yelped and barked and fought for the
pieces. The brush was given to me.

Now you can’t say I haven’t written you a long letter, dear old A.
D.,--but it was such a wonderful day that I just had to tell you all
about it.

       *       *       *       *       *


POLLY TO A. D.

    _Leicestershire,
    October._

Now for a confession! There are two young men here at the house party.
One is big and homely and loose-jointed but a good sort, while the
other is dark and very handsome and goes to Oxford. He gave me his
picture and asked if he couldn’t have mine for his watch. I told him I
was surprised that he didn’t have a girl’s photograph for his already.
Before I knew it, he had opened my watch and seen you. I didn’t know
exactly what to do, so I said you were my older brother. He swallowed
it all down seriously, and in fact remarked that he thought I looked
very much like you. I feel immensely flattered and only wish it were
true.

But I am not going to write you any more sweet letters. It isn’t
because I have changed one bit in my feelings toward you, but because
variety is the spice of life, and if you have too many nice things
written to you, you won’t appreciate them, and I have been good for a
long time now. Besides, you say you are not coming to Paris and I am
very cross.

Aunt sends her best wishes and says, “Men are April when they woo, and
December when they wed.” I’m afraid that is true to life--don’t you
think so?

       *       *       *       *       *


A. D. TO POLLY

    _Rome,
    October._

Oh, little Polly the Pagan, you say that variety is the spice of life
and accordingly you won’t write any more sweet letters for a time, so
I must hurry to tell you that spice is one of the things forbidden in
the diet of my cure, and so I know you won’t force me to take any. You
must, you _must_ write me real love letters, or something fatal may
happen to me.

Do you wish me to stop writing pretty things to you, now that you have
stopped writing them to me? Because, if that is the case, I--I can’t
do it! So you see, I plan to keep on pestering you day after day, and
you may say, oh, well, as long as it makes him happy, let him
continue. The Frenchwoman’s philosophy is that woman’s greatest
happiness is in making man happy. She may not really care for him,
but she will pretend to, if it makes his heart glad. That is pretty
good philosophy. Since you are soon to be in fair France, you should
consider the French point of view!

As for your Aunt’s quotation, “Men are April when they woo, December
when they wed,” why, that is easily explained. It means that fires
burn more hotly in the cold month and more steadily than in flowery
April.

Peppi and I had all yesterday evening together, and a very pleasant
time of it, too. I went over to his studio and found him. He made a
delightful picture, frowzy-haired but handsome in his bright blue
blouse, with his pallet in his hand, and his pet white goose following
him about, lifting her yellow beak to be fed, and spreading her snowy
wings. He explained he had purchased her for her feathery plumage to
help him in a picture he was painting of an angel. We dined at the
Cambrinus in the garden with colored lights where it was cool and
pretty. And then afterwards I took him to the circus. We meet there
almost every night. It is an epidemic here.

Oh, a most excellent circus that puts on a lot of style! The band
blared out the same old music, marches for the athletes to come
stalking in by and polkas to mark time for the horses, and a really
most beautiful creature, she looks a little like Mona Lisa, performed
on the trapeze--it was great, great fun.

As I can’t go up to Paris, isn’t it possible for you to sail home by
way of Naples so I can get a glimpse of you?

       *       *       *       *       *


POLLY TO A. D.

    _Leicestershire,
    October._

On coming back from a drive today, dear, we saw some gypsies camped by
the roadside, so we stopped and gave them the remains of our picnic
luncheon. They invited us into their tents and told our fortunes. An
old gypsy declared the cards said a gray-eyed woman with a mysterious
smile might give me trouble and that a handsome man in the south would
disappoint me. Now what do you think of that?

Say to Peppi that I hope he is not falling in love with that trapeze
girl for Aunt wouldn’t like it. But how about you?

You ask if I want you to stop writing sweet things to me,--why, of
course, I don’t. Every girl likes love letters. But you needn’t feel
obliged to, you know. We have a few days with the Prince in Paris,
then sail for home, sweet home.

Would we go home by way of Italy, you ask! Well, I don’t plan to run
all over the country after a certain young man. If he wants to see me,
he can come to Paris, and if he doesn’t, he needn’t! Now I can see you
laugh, but I don’t care!

       *       *       *       *       *


A. D. TO POLLY

    _Rome,
    October._

I beg to thank you, dear Miss Polly, for your gypsy fortune-telling
letter. Did the old gypsy mention by chance a blond Russian Prince? It
was most kind of you to think of me at all, so far away in hot Rome,
and indeed your letter brought a cool, refreshing air to temper the
_sirocco_ and hot sun here.

It has been a trying summer in Rome, and if it hadn’t been for some
happy excursions I have been able to make to Florence and Venice and
into the country and to the circus, I fear I should have found it
unbearable.

Pray forgive my thanking you for your long and very sensible letter
and for becoming almost confidential, and believe me, with my very
cordial regards to your aunt and brother, and my compliments, very
sincerely yours. _Why do you let the Prince join you in Paris, I’d
like to know?_

(Br-r-r-! Your letter made me shiver!)

       *       *       *       *       *


TELEGRAM: POLLY TO A. D.

    _Leicestershire, October._

Can’t you stand a little teasing?

       *       *       *       *       *


TELEGRAM: A. D. TO POLLY

    _Rome, October._

Not from you. Besides, letters are too short and you have been
flirting. What’s more, you are meeting the Prince in Paris. That is
what I don’t like.

       *       *       *       *       *


TELEGRAM: POLLY TO A. D.

    _Leicestershire, October._

What can you expect when I haven’t seen you all these months?

       *       *       *       *       *


TELEGRAM: A. D. TO POLLY

    _Rome, October._

More than I am getting.

       *       *       *       *       *


TELEGRAM: POLLY TO A. D.

    _Leicestershire, October._

Aren’t you unreasonable?

       *       *       *       *       *


TELEGRAM: A. D. TO POLLY

    _Rome, October._

I think not, under the circumstances.

       *       *       *       *       *


TELEGRAM: POLLY TO A. D.

    _Leicestershire, October._

?

       *       *       *       *       *


TELEGRAM: A. D. TO POLLY

    _Rome, October._

!

       *       *       *       *       *


TELEGRAM: POLLY TO A. D.

    _Leicestershire, October._

.

       *       *       *       *       *



_PART III_

_UNCERTAINTY_


CABLE FROM A. D.

    _Rome,
    November. Three weeks later._

Will you marry me? Uncertainty in our relations troubling me deeply.
Where do I stand? Heaven or Hell?

       *       *       *       *       *


CABLE FROM POLLY

    _New York,
    November._

Call it Heaven.

       *       *       *       *       *


A. D. TO POLLY

    _Rome,
    November._

I do call it Heaven, or I would if only you were here. As it is, the
doors are locked, for you are my golden key to happiness, to Paradise
itself. It seems ages since your last letter came. Don’t play with me
again, will you, dearest? Although your letters this summer have been
so sweet, I know what a little Pagan you are. Sometimes I wonder if
you have any conscience at all about me. If you have, I’ve not as yet
discovered it, but--my heart is in your keeping. Mona Lisa has
disappeared from my life.

Of course your Aunt is set on your marrying the Prince. That has been
plain all along,--how did he behave in Paris?--but you, my darling,
_who_ could have guessed whether or not you were ready to make up your
mind to settle down? So I delayed asking you to marry me--in so many
words. But now that we have quarrelled, I long to make up and have
everything settled. There is no peace left your lover till he knows
that you love him, once and always. This letter is serious because,
beneath it all, I am serious.

Your letters have been the key-notes to my days, and when they have
seemed confidential and affectionate, I have been very happy, and when
they have been less enthusiastic, I have been troubled and cast down.
So, they have enabled me to measure my own disposition. What I wish to
write you is this; that everything I ever told you or have written
you, was the truth.

I realize more and more as time goes on, and on, that my love goes
back farther into the past than I had dared to acknowledge to myself.

One day, you appeared in Rome and were stopping at your sunny Palazzo.
Over I went to see--your Aunt, of course. I recall so vividly just
where you stood in the little room, how you came frankly forward to
meet me, and how I made my call, with the Prince, whom I met on the
street just outside your door.

Then at your apartment and out in society, I saw you often; when you
came to dine with me, I determined just to be nice to you,--I know I
was flirting with Lisa,--but I had a sort of pride that you should
enjoy your stay in Rome, and wished to add what I could to it. I
thought your Aunt would be gratified, and frankly, I liked you. I
allowed myself to think that much.

Then came moments, Polly dear, when I felt a thrill, a glow, that I
couldn’t explain. Can I ever forget that evening when we were together
in the Coliseum, while the moon swam in the sky, and the great black
chasm of the excavations yawned below us, while the shadowy ruins
towered around and above us. I treasure in my heart the memory of the
rollicking fun of the escapade at the Carnival Ball, the Veglione,
with its confidences, and the privilege, too, of that drive from the
Duchess of Sermoneta’s, through the narrow streets, across the bridge,
when I saw you home, and those afternoons and evenings in the little
room in the roof garden, one after another. Each seemed more wonderful
and more complete to me, till that last night before you went away to
Sorrento, when I first spoke words of love. I was overwhelmed and
staggered, my pulses beat with a new strange gladness till I could
scarcely see you. How I got back to my rooms, I have forgotten.

I had determined not to make love to you in Rome, but I couldn’t help
it, I couldn’t help speaking as I did. Then came romantic days at
Sorrento and Florence and those enchanting dream moments in Venice.
Were they real, ah, tell me, were they true?

It is months now, dear, since we met in Venice. What perfect hours we
had there! So completely happy. I can feel you near me, next to me,
while far away, mysteriously, I seem even yet to hear the music and
the love songs.

    “And of all the happiest moments which were wrought
      Within the web of my existence, some
    From thee, fair Venice! have their colors caught.”

How bewitching you were! How unspeakably lovely the last evening was,
and how I treasure every little confidence you made me, as we glided
along over the placid lagoon, while about us rose the palaces, the
campanile, the churches, balconies, and arches, reflected below in the
mirroring waters. I could put out my hand and take yours, and turn and
look into the wonder of your eyes, my Polly! Some days are immortal,
the memory of them can never die. We may pass away, but still the
thought of those moments will live forever, for they are divine and
heavenly.

       *       *       *       *       *


POLLY TO A. D.

    _New York,
    November._

My A. D. Well, you are in a way mine now, aren’t you? How I hated all
those horrid telegrams we sent each other, and what a long time I
have gone without a letter from you.

I do know what I want! It’s you, you, but oh, things are so hard when
it comes to facing down Aunt. It is not any open opposition--that
would be something definite that I could fight, but she simply assumes
that I don’t mean it when I say I am engaged, and sits bland and
smiling, and pretty soon, makes a remark about Boris.

A. D., if you won’t come over soon to look after me, you’ve just got
to take the risks. Don’t forget I’m a little Pagan, who does enjoy
things, even the Prince. Come home and settle here at once if you love
me as much as you say you do. I am so happy you sent the cable,
because you are the only person in the world I love. So we are really
engaged now and going to be married soon and live happily ever after?

You want to know what I did those few days in Paris? Well, by jinks,
we were off on a shopping rampage most of the time. I went to Worth’s
and ordered some pretty clothes--the prevailing colors this year are
the hummingbird’s.

How did the Prince behave in Paris? On the whole very attentive, but
once in a while just a bit difficult to manage. He brought with him a
magnificent Russian wolf hound, who was very well-trained and would
obey no one but his master. One day Boris invited us all to his
apartment in the hotel to luncheon, but Aunt had such a bad headache
that she left in the midst of it, taking Checkers along to see her
safely back. He was going to return for me since we had more galleries
to inspect. As soon as the lift with them in it had disappeared, Boris
closed the door and smiled meaningly and when I asked him to open it,
he shook his head. I started to open it myself when the wolf hound,
who was lying before it, growled. First I thought it was a joke, but
when I saw the queer look in my host’s eyes, a cold creepy feeling of
fear came over me.

“Once before you were in my power,” he said, “in the stateroom on the
_Cleopatra_. I, a fool, let you go. Now I got dog, no fool any more.”

Backing away from him, I laughed, hysterically, “I came here to eat
and not to make love.”

“Did you?” he inquired, putting his face down close to mine and
taking hold of my shoulders.

I stared straight back at him, saying, “I am not afraid either of you
or your old dog.” At that moment, thank heaven, the door opened and in
came the waiter. I dashed out and downstairs, Boris following me and
protesting that he was only trying to make a little fun, but I am not
sure. Aunt says I made a fuss over nothing, and insisted that we all
go together to the circus with him that night, but you may be sure I
hung onto Checkers pretty closely. However, the Prince pointed out to
me the girl on the trapeze, the same one you had admired in Rome. She
was very beautiful--I am a little jealous for she looked like Mona.

Boris and I rode several times together and one day jumped our horses
in the Bois, much to the amusement of a female seminary that was
passing. I had a fine time and thought how the people at home would
laugh if they could see me--such a change was my smart riding habit
from my old duds at the farm, and with a Prince. Then the other day he
took me to the Luxembourg gallery to look at a curious sculpture of
the sphinx--the head of a beautiful woman on the body of a lioness,
with a man in her clutches, just their lips touching, everything
thrown away for that one kiss. It made me think of some verses I read
the other day,

    “Inviolate and immobile, she does not rise, she does not stir,
    For silver moons are naught to her, and naught to her the suns that
      reel.
    Come forth, my lovely seneschal! So somnolent, so statuesque!
    Come forth, you exquisite grotesque! Half woman and half animal!
    And did you talk with Thoth and did you hear the horn-mooned Io
      weep?
    And know the painted kings who sleep beneath the wedge-shaped
      pyramid?
    Lift up your large black satin eyes which are like cushions where
      one sinks,
    Fawn at my feet, fantastic Sphinx! and sing me all your memories!
    A thousand weary centuries are thine while I have scarcely seen
    Some twenty summers cast their green for Autumn’s gaudy liveries.”

The Prince said he believed I was somewhat like her. I told him
indignantly I wasn’t, but maybe I am ... and he tells me I _was_ the
cause of the duel!

       *       *       *       *       *


A. D. TO POLLY

    _Rome,
    November._

The top o’ the marnin’ to ye, Polly Darlin’! It would be very
inappropriate, wouldn’t it, if this came to you by evening delivery?
At any rate it is the top o’ the marnin’ here in Rome, and I am
pretending you are right next to me, my kitten-sphinx, and I’m
greeting you with a morning kiss in token of our peace, or is it an
armistice? Your letter makes me happy and yet your remarks about the
Prince trouble me. There is, however, one clear way out of your
difficulties, and that is to make our engagement known at once to
everyone. I do not want to urge the point too strongly, but doesn’t it
seem that circumstances have combined to make an announcement
desirable?

Putting aside all consideration of what people may say or think, I
feel it would be franker, more dignified, more true to yourself, to
others, to me, that the relation between us should be told. All kinds
of complications will arise if we keep it secret. Do not act hastily
on receiving this. Think it over carefully. Oh, I love you, Polly,
with my whole soul! But I can’t come home at once; my friend Charlton
is now seriously ill and Embassy matters are tied up. Under the
circumstances, I am glad you left Paris when you did. Did Boris see
you off?

How bustling and busy your getting away from the hotel must have
been,--the drive to the station through the gay streets, the
excitement at the train, the helter-skelter of passengers and porters
with their bags, baggage, boxes, baskets, and rugs. Then the steamer,
the good-byes, the buzz of the engine, the splash of water and a
realization at last that you were homeward bound!

It will seem odd to hear about Rome now that you are in America, about
the streets yellow with flooding sunshine, and crowded with carts from
the Campagna, and cabbies on their rattletrap carriages cracking their
whips and crying “ah!” in deep guttural tones at their horses,
instead of saying “Whoa!” or “Gee up!” in the proper American way.

Early one afternoon Charlton and I started out in an ancient cab and a
decrepit horse to go to the Piazza San Pietro, or perish in the
attempt. I had the enthusiasm and he the perseverance. Indeed we took
turns in exhibiting these qualities, for there came a time when he was
enthusiastic and I persevered. There were moments when the old horse
went so slowly that we thought he would never get there, but the
driver used the whip encouragingly. Finally we reached St. Peter’s,
surrounded by its huge colonnade, with its splashing fountains, went
up the broad terrace steps and beneath the great _loggia_, and into
the overwhelming interior with its vast distance, out of all
proportion to anything else in the world.

Inside the people were kissing the toe of St. Peter, while crowds
walked about and men were hammering away until the whole place
resounded with the work of putting up tribunes for some ceremonies.
But a great shaft of yellow sunshine came streaming down from the
dome, making the gloom golden, and above the hum of voices could be
heard the Pope’s angel chanting beautifully.

When I came out and looked over toward your palace and saw the tops of
the plants of the garden on the terrace, I could not resist going in
to see Peppi. You know he has lately taken your old apartment, in
memory of your Aunt, I suppose. Up the stairway we climbed till we
came to the door and rang. There was a great rattling of chains and
unbolting of locks; the door finally opened and we were told he was
home. He asked us to take pot luck with him, so we went up first on
the terrace and examined the roses, some poor weedy sunflowers, and a
few little pansies that looked pleadingly up at me while I stood in
the corner of the terrace where you stood that last night, Polly.

The sky was glorious; the sun had gone down and St. Peter’s and the
huge pile of the Vatican, with only here and there a twinkling light
in the darkness of the massive building, loomed up in silhouette
against a heaven of delicate brown which shaded into pale green. Above
us in a pure vault of blue, the crescent moon floated, all silver,
while in the opposite horizon, over the Alban Mountains and the
Appenines, great banks of clouds rolled up, black and threatening
beneath, reflecting the afterglow above, while forked lightning played
ceaselessly through them. Later the façade of the cathedral became
outlined in lights, although the dome was left in blackness, and all
the Borgo was hung with paper lanterns and was very gay and bright.
But I felt lonely without you.

D. V., it will not be long before I reach home! Already I can see the
beautiful bay, the boats passing and repassing, and the arrival of
Quarantine and Custom officials. The great city--greater New
York--faintly appearing through the morning mist, and the huge
buildings towering above the fog, like a city in the clouds. We pass
the statue, the busy ferry boats hurry beneath our great bow and--ah,
Polly, I must confess my eyes are tearful with the excitement and
happiness of the thought. My great anxiety to be with you should carry
the ship more quickly, though alas, in this practical age, it depends
more on the quality of the coal than on the burning anxiety of a
lover.

       *       *       *       *       *


PRINCE BORIS TO POLLY

    _Paris,
    December._

I followed you to Paris and showed you nightly and by day in the
restaurants and the Bois, and all the places of fashion, and everybody
he look with eyes of admiration at you and at me glances of envy. When
you smile with me, then I was for a moment happy. But though you
smile, you do not stay--you go away to America. You are like pretty
floating milkweed, you touch here and there in your travels. The wind
(your Aunt) blow you from place to place.

In sables from Siberia I would dress you and jewels from the Urals,
and take you to the opera at Moscow. We would travel in the East, and
you are so clever, you would help me in my secret missions. We would
decipher riddles and gather secret news. You would fascinate the great
ones of the earth, and they would tell you tales of State that would
help the great cause. What would you say, _ma petite_? Be my Princess
and let me carry you to my castle in the mountains; it is a little
savage among the Tartars, but I hope the hummingbird find it in her
heart to make her nest there with me some day.

Soon I meet you in America and we talk again.

       *       *       *       *       *


A. D. TO POLLY

    _Rome,
    December._

Your cable telling me of your willingness to announce our engagement
was received with inexpressible happiness. I did not realize that
making known our secret would bring such a new joy into my life. It
almost makes me burst from sheer felicity when people say pleasant
things. Dear old Checkers sent me an engagement book because, he
wrote, I was engaged! Beaming, round-faced Pan bustled in, with his
red fez on one side, and his fingers strung with all his jewelled
rings, to talk about you and my wonderful luck. He got as excited as I
did, and we both rattled on at the same time. Then we went out to
dinner and had a bottle of champagne. Up he got to drink our
healths,--can’t you see him?--reciting,

    “May your joys be as deep as the ocean,
      Your sorrows as light as its foam!”

But poor Charlton! I went in to tell him of our engagement and he gave
me the warmest congratulations. He doesn’t seem any better. Indeed,
Polly, I doubt if he is ever going to get well. I shall hurry
homewards as soon as possible, but I can’t leave him now. Pay no
attention to your Aunt’s obstacles, my dear, if they threaten our love
for each other, will you? Surely, surely, you will be true.

       *       *       *       *       *


PRINCE BORIS TO POLLY

    _Moscow,
    December._

Ah, the pleasure to have been with you in Paris! I think about it
every night and wish to have you near.

You say to me once, write about my country,--Russia, oh my Russia,
hail! You think only of bombs and Nihilists in _la Russie_, but we
have many good things, museums best in the world, artistes most fine,
ballet splendid, and Slavic music, ah, it make the blood stir. When I
go to opera, and lover makes love to his lady, then I think of--you.
Do you think of Boris walking the streets of Moscow, where roofs are
green as malachite and strange domes grow in the sky like vegetables?
Learn our history, about Ivan the Terrible, about Peter the Great, and
Catherine the great lover. Read, too, our literature, Turgeniev, close
to the heart, Pushkin, melancholy poet, and Artzibasheff ironical. No!
Me I read them to you some day with a tremble of the voice and then
you will surely fall in love with a Muscovite.

Your Aunt she write me come to New York. Perhaps you make me American
when I come over. Why you not say me come yourself? I remind me of the
proverb, “A thousand raps on the door but no salute or invitation from
within.” Your American diplomat he amuse himself very well in Rome. As
you know, he went often to the circus, to see pretty girl there who
look like your enemy, the lady of the gray eyes. That the reason he
not come to Paris, I think. He not want to see you both there at one
time.

       *       *       *       *       *


A. D. TO POLLY

    _Rome,
    December._

Behold me at my desk! I couldn’t bear this place, my own, if it had
not, on every hand, remembrances of you. Here in this very office, you
have sat. The last day or two in Florence, whither Embassy affairs
took me, brought thronging memories of our hours together there. This
morning as the train crawled across the Campagna in the weird twilight
of the moon just before dawn, I gazed out of the window and watched
the ruins rise out of the uncanny plain like tombstones of a dead
civilization,--spectres of decay and times long past. Think of all the
lovers they have looked on since first the aqueducts went marching off
to the hills in gigantic strides.

My precious, when the gray dawn was just breaking, I entered the Grand
Hotel, and then thought of you again, of the night I first called you,
Pollykins, by your own little name, right there in the doorway. Don’t
be disappointed in my letters, if from time to time they tell only
somebody’s feelings, and forget to mention what is happening. Now you
alone are my life. But write and let me know how _you_ feel.

       *       *       *       *       *


POLLY TO A. D.

    _Black Horse Farm on the Hudson,
    December._

Here we are at the Farm, Aunt, Checkers, and I. Although our
engagement may be announced in Rome, my stern relative says we must
wait until we’re settled a bit before announcing it in New York. I was
going to give a luncheon and tell everyone, but she suddenly dashed
away into the country with me in her wake, flying like Alice through
the Looking Glass after the Mad Queen.

You would like this place, dear,--an old Colonial house of brick with
wings and white trimmings, surrounded by great elms overlooking the
Hudson. The furniture is Chippendale, queer ancient panoramic wall
paper makes a background for some delightful eighteenth-century
prints, and fireplaces ablaze with logs are in every room. I’ve been
secretly wondering if we couldn’t have our honeymoon here. Do you
fancy the idea, dearest?

There is still a sheet of paper left right under my nose, staring up
as much as to say, “Why don’t you use me? Why not write more to your
secretary?” Well, it will have to be in pencil, for to use ink will
mean going down stairs where there are still people dashing about;
while up in my bedroom I am quite alone except for John Sullivan, our
bull pup.

Isn’t it perfectly pathetic to be left all solitary this long cold
winter with the only boy I love so far away?

P. S. Is Charlton really so ill that you do not like to leave him? No
other reason? You wrote that Mona Lisa had disappeared from your life.
Are you sure she has no successor?

       *       *       *       *       *


A. D. TO POLLY

    _Rome,
    December._

Your letter came yesterday telling of your visit to Black Horse Farm,
and as for spending our honeymoon there, it would be a bit out of
Paradise! But don’t, Polly, don’t, I beg of you, put off announcing
your engagement in New York. Think of the position it puts me in; as
you know, Rome is all agog with it. Ask your Aunt frankly why she is
so hesitant. Apparently she liked me, and she offered no objections in
Europe to what she must have known was coming. In any case she cannot
force you to accept the attentions of the Prince.

I wish, dearest, you might have been at the diplomatic reception at
the Court, at the Quirinal, the other evening. How sweet you would
have looked in your Court dress! I was overwhelmed, absolutely
overwhelmed by congratulations and good wishes. Even the ministers and
chiefs of missions seemed to know of my great happiness and took the
occasion to say nice things. The world does indeed love a lover. When
I reached my apartment I danced the Highland fling with two umbrellas
crossed together for swords, and felt like sliding down the banisters,
too!

At Court the reception is always a very fine function; first to rattle
through the entrance of the palace, across the court to the foot of
the broad staircase where the big _portiers_ in red liveries salute
and bow, then up the brilliantly-lighted, crimson-carpeted staircase
to the huge _antecamera_ hung with tapestries, a vast chamber where a
company of splendid _corazzieri_ in gleaming helmets and cuirasses
stand at attention and salute each Ambassador.

The reception-room is magnificent, and there the diplomats in their
uniforms, gaudy with all sorts of tinsel plaques, stars, crescents,
and gold embroidery, stand about till the approach of the Royalties is
announced. Then they bustle into line according to precedence--a
procession that reaches around the room, each Ambassador with his
staff behind him. Thereupon the King and Queen arrive! They bow; we
all bow. His Majesty shakes hands with the Ambassadors, and makes
conversation. One by one, the secretaries step forward and are
addressed, while the Queen speaks only to the Chiefs of Missions.
Meanwhile the Ladies-in-waiting stand in a row arranged opposite; so
do we all remain for over an hour and a half.

In conversation with Pan this evening he let it slip out that the
Prince was going to America before long on a secret mission. I have
no idea what he is up to. Don’t delay, my sweetheart, in announcing
our engagement--write me that you love me.

P. S. Really I do not know where Mona Lisa has gone, and I am
interested in nobody but you, dear.

       *       *       *       *       *


PRINCE BORIS TO POLLY

    _Moscow,
    December._

A silver plate I send you for bread and cellar for salt, so do
Russians give to the Tsar, the Little Father, in token of homage. As
the Cossacks say, “Feed the mouth, the eyes will not be bashful.” I
make you gifts, in other words, and you will be ashamed not to look on
me with kindness. Often I dream of your eyes, blue as lapis lazuli
from the Urals.

From Rome comes news,--you engaged to American diplomat. I cannot
believe serious--tell me not true. Lady from Virginia say once, often
American girls engage to two, three men all same time--is it so? It
may be. Turks and Chinese have several wifes, and lady Laplanders,
they have several husbands, _n’est ce pas?_ Is it you write no more
because you really serious engage? Your Aunt she say why no, of
course; you not know your own mind. Peppi say she wish title for you.
But I still wait that little Hummingbird welcome me to New York.

       *       *       *       *       *


POLLY TO A. D.

    _Black Horse Farm,
    Christmas Morning._

This morning, dearest, what should arrive but the most beautiful roses
in the world from you, and in the toe of my Xmas stocking, I found a
heavenly diamond engagement-ring! How can I ever thank you enough?
Polly is very proud and happy to wear it. Did Gilet put the little
cuff links I sent in your sock, or perhaps you didn’t hang one up in
the chimney?

A. D., I love you madly--yes, I do, you can’t know, you never will
know how much. Every day I want to be with you. Whenever I have a good
time I say to myself, “I wish my dear ‘Dip’ were here to enjoy it,
too.” America seems pretty empty with someone I love in beautiful
Italy.

Aunt wants news of Peppi, says she hasn’t heard from him lately. The
Prince sent me a lovely present, and wants to know if you and I are
seriously engaged.

I wish I could have seen you do the sword-dance! It takes a lot of
courage to tackle Aunt and get her to go back with us to New York and
tell of the engagement of a proud little Pagan to a dear diplomat.
Your father sent me a sweet letter from California.

       *       *       *       *       *


A. D. TO POLLY

    _Rome,
    Christmas Day._

In my dreams last night were all sorts of Christmas things--home and
mistletoe and you under it, my love. On my breakfast-tray this morning
lay your lovely cuff-links. A thousand thanks,--I shall wear them
every day.

The Christmas decorations at church were holly and palms. The greens
were dotted with oranges and apples, the high pillars wreathed with
ivy, the chancel and altar banked with flowers, for the Reverend Nevin
is very artistic in his arrangement of such things. I was so full of
gratitude and thanksgiving, so placidly content that even when an
awkward worshipper knocked my silk hat (Gilet’s shining pride) on the
floor and rumpled and broke it, I didn’t mutter, or even think a
wicked thing!

I said a little prayer for you, Polly dear. Then I hurried home, for
there were so many things to attend to,--as Checkers would remark,
“Merry Christmas, but not a dish washed!”

       *       *       *       *       *


A. D. TO POLLY

    _Rome,
    December 31._

Tell your Aunt that Peppi is looking better but still far from well.
He will not stay in bed and take care of himself, but keeps on
painting and painting behind locked doors. The endless rains this
autumn have been bad for him, though he seems gay and talks a
lot--calls me the birdcage, because I have caught the Hummingbird. For
me the place is full of memories of you--the terrace, the
sitting-room with the corner where you used to make tea, and where I
would sit, falling deeper and deeper in love, hour by hour.

This is the last day of the dear old year, a year blessed as no other
can be, for therein have I met my Polly, known her, loved her. Ah, old
year, you have been good to me passing belief! How many moments of
supreme happiness have you given me, days of bliss with my beloved,
nights of anxiety away from her, moments of doubt and fear, moments of
heavenly exaltation.

Think of the mystery of the years! I was born the Lord knows when; you
flew right down from heaven, and we loved so on this old earth. The
last words I shall ever write in this year are--I love you, Polly!

       *       *       *       *       *


POLLY TO A. D.

    _New York,
    December 31._

It is seven o’clock here and I somehow feel that you are thinking of
me--in Rome it must be midnight, the beginning of the New Year. If we
could only hold hands for just one little minute, it would make me so
happy. An hour ago I sent you a cable, so you’ll get my message with
your breakfast.

There’s just a moment left in which to write a line before dressing
for dinner. Then comes a ball to which I shall wear a frock all little
fluttering iridescent draperies, suggesting an airy hummingbird. Sybil
is spending the night here--it is months since I last saw her in Rome.
She is just as pretty and lively as ever, smoking cigarettes all the
time and using the same exaggerated language,--that you’re the
handsomest man that ever existed, that I’m “the luckiest girl in
Heaven or Hell.” She’s much excited over our betrothal and hopes we
may live a million years and have a thousand children!

Sybil went with me to ask Aunt to put an announcement in the papers,
to which my autocratic relative replied that she would see. Do you
suppose your Polly will have any partners now that she is engaged? For
rumors are leaking out, of course. Partners or no partners, if Aunt
doesn’t, I’ll put it in the papers myself, I will!

You wouldn’t believe it of me, would you, but I’m growing positively
sentimental. Half the time I live in a dream with you, dear, thinking
of you, wanting so much to please you, wondering what you would like
me to do. The little forget-me-not enclosed, carries a kiss.

       *       *       *       *       *


A. D. TO POLLY

    _Rome,
    New Year’s Day._

I love you with all my heart! These are the first words that I write
in the new year--just as you were the first thought in my mind as the
bells chimed out midnight. God guard us, my own, during the coming
months, and grant us His blessing!

New Year’s Eve, the municipality sends a band to serenade the
Embassies, a pretty custom, but I wandered over to your Palazzo
instead, to Peppi’s where we had a little supper and drank toasts to
the old year and the new one, to you and your Aunt. “Here’s to the
ladies,” sighed P.--“God bless ’em! We can’t do anything with ’em,
and we can’t do anything without ’em.”

At breakfast Gilet walked in on me with your cable of greetings in his
hand, so you see how timely it arrived. Thank you, my Sweetheart, for
the dear message which began our New Year. This morning is brilliant
and a _bersaglieri_ regiment has just gone past on a quick-step with
feathers waving, and the band of _carabinieri_ playing a lively air.
The movement and the music are entrancing but all is incomplete
without you.

_Later._

I have passed the afternoon very quietly, for the news of Charlton’s
death today has shocked me so. Poor old fellow! Accordingly I only
left a few cards officially and then went and sat a long time in the
Church of the Jesuits where vespers were being sung. The building was
outlined with candles, the effect fine, solemn and religious. The
aisles were thronged with people while organ-music and singing rose
and fell. Then I hurried back to my fireside, through the narrow
crowded streets, across the Corso with its endless files of carriages,
for the dread chill of Rome came on, and the men and women wrapped
their cloaks about them.

Now that poor Charlton is gone, I am sending in my resignation to the
President. I have decided to go into business, for a very good offer
has turned up that I hope you will approve. Moreover, the Ambassador
himself dispatched his own resignation yesterday. Mine will follow
close upon its heels “to take effect at the earliest convenience of
the Department of State,” and I added “an earnest request to be
relieved of my duties at the first opportunity as private matters of
an anxious and urgent nature call me home.”

If the Department either loves me much or hates me much, it will let
me off promptly. My feelings wouldn’t be hurt if a cablegram should
come marked _urgent_, and stating, “Your resignation accepted with
pleasure, and to take effect _at once_,” the last two words
underlined. I’d knock over the tables and chairs, slam the doors, and
go home so quickly that one wouldn’t have time to say “Jack Robinson!”
Then I would cry, “Gilet! Gilet! Where in thunder are you, Gilet? Pack
my things, throw them in helter skelter, pellmell, all in a heap. It
doesn’t matter--nothing matters, for we are going home!
Hip-hip-hurrah!” I am all excited at the mere thought. And if anyone
wondered at this indecent haste (“Haste which mars all decency of
act”), I’d say, “I am going back to my love,” and they would never
blame me.

       *       *       *       *       *


POLLY TO A. D.

    _New York,
    January._

Your photograph is beside me, and I have kissed it so many times today
and every day that it would be quite worn out if it weren’t for the
glass in front. The separation has made my love for you grow stronger
and finer, and shows me clearly that it is you and you only I love and
want. The weeks since we became engaged have found me very happy in
the knowledge that there was someone who would always take care of me,
someone whom I would look up to and respect. I am behaving so well for
me that soon I shall no longer be known as Polly the Pagan.

I was very sorry to hear of Lord Ronald Charlton’s death, for I know
you must miss him greatly. So you have sent in your resignation.
Splendid! I shall expect you shortly. Cable me when you leave.

Auntie says I ought not to announce my engagement here until you can
set a definite date to return. Won’t you do that for me?

       *       *       *       *       *


A. D. TO POLLY

    _Rome,
    January._

Fi, fo, fum! I should indeed like to be at “hum.” The days are
becoming longer, and so I find my only happiness in thinking that
before they begin to shorten again, I shall have come to you, my
angel, to love and to hold and to cherish you forever. But meantime my
letters are blue because I am blue, and I am a deep cerulean because
you are so far off. Why, being away from you is enough to make me turn
into a box of indigo. Blue indeed--I am Black!

To console myself I read and re-read your letters and daydream about
the future. Yes, I shall come and as soon as the State Department
will let me. It won’t be long now--not long, though I cannot as yet
set a date. I think May would be the prettiest time of the whole year
to be married in, and then go (as you suggest) to Black Horse Farm,
though nobody must know; afterwards we’ll cruise slowly South down
through the Spanish Main, across the Equator, skirting the coast of
Guiana, past Brazil. We’ll round the Horn together and see if we can
find the Enchanted Isles and other heavenly ineffable places. What do
you think of this plan, my darling?

Meantime, I have only your picture, as you have mine. In case you may
like to see the arrangement of my habitation, I have sketched it for
you. The little cross is where my altar is placed, the point to which
your devotee turns, not twice or thrice or four times a day, as do the
Mahometans toward their place of worship, but constantly in prayer and
thanksgiving. Your photograph is my Mecca and you are my little Pagan
goddess, part nymph, part naughty elfin sprite, and part some winged
flitting creature out of a fairy mythology not as yet discovered. But
here in this room you are my Lares and Penates--you are my Love.

Last night I said goodbye to your picture, and went off to the Court
Ball, where I saw many of our fair compatriots. It was a fine sight.
It makes me think of what Mr. Dooley said, “at coort rayciptions th’
Ambassadure iv England wore th’ gorgeous unyform iv his station, th’
Ambassadure iv France jingled with medals, th’ American Ambassadure
looked like a detictive at a fancy ball.” Three sides of the great
room were lined with rows of people who all bowed and curtseyed as the
King and Queen entered, while the orchestra played the Royal March.
The Queen danced in the Quadrille of Honor, and after that the music
struck up the first waltz and the moment arrived when, it may interest
you to know, I opened the Ball!

The Grand Master of Ceremonies asked me to dance with his daughter,
and so, bang! out in front of all the people I walked on my trembling
legs, bowed to her Majesty, and went across and asked the signorina.
Round and round the room we spun while all gazed upon us; at last some
others took the floor and the ball was on! It was about the most
trying thing that I have ever done; in fact we almost danced down the
King and the wife of the Prime Minister, and a few other dignitaries
who stood in our parabolic way. After things got started, I tried to
dance with all the American girls present but it was warm work. The
Queen and Mona Lisa, who has come back to Rome, to Peppi’s intense
joy--but don’t tell your aunt--were probably the two most remarkable
women there, both beautifully dressed, and they looked at each other,
as ladies will. My last Court Ball!

But my troubles are not over, for our Ambassador and his wife are to
receive the King and Queen; so I have that to arrange. The legend is
that the Queen has expressed a desire to go to the United States
Embassy. It is going to make a lot of work, of course, for Their
Majesties very seldom do this thing, though Embassies are, as you
know, among the few places which may entertain them. It should be a
fine function--the palace of our Ambassador is so magnificent--and I
hope it may be well done, though the preparation must needs be
tremendous. Only certain people can be asked, and great state
maintained. Oh, my darling, if you were only here to enjoy it!

A thousand invisible fibres are drawing me towards you ever and
always. But Polly, I am beginning to be uneasy. I had hoped surely to
go when the Ambassador left Rome, but now he says very emphatically
that it is my duty to stay here until a new secretary comes, and that
is the reason I have not heard from the State Department. I am, oh, so
disappointed. Trust me! Believe in me! Don’t let this separation, this
uncertainty bring about any misunderstanding between us, no matter how
slight. I have fought off a feeling of foreboding all day. Love me,
dearest, always.

       *       *       *       *       *


PRINCE BORIS TO POLLY

    _Moscow,
    February._

For America I start, though to Rome I must go on the way. I am
flattered that you say you read our Russian authors. But read a little
French poetry, too, some very beautiful but destructive to the morals.
My little blond rose, though very young, knows how to fish for
hearts--the Parisian need not teach her that, for she has already
caught many.

I have not written to you for days because you tell me you are
engaged, but if so, why is it American Diplomat he not go to you soon
like me? Is it a pretty divorcée holds him yet, as you say “with the
come hither eye?” She is much _éprise_ of him, I hear. But I should
not tell you this. That she has returned to Rome many weeks ago, you
know already, yes? I kiss your hand.

       *       *       *       *       *


A. D. TO POLLY

    _Rome,
    February._

Last night our Embassy Ball took place and the King and Queen came. It
was quite stately, the Palace is so spacious and imposing and the
Royalties were very gracious. At the last minute while we stood
waiting for the royal carriages to be announced, the French
Ambassadress arrived, saying that her lord had suddenly been taken ill
with (literally) _un mal à l’estomac_. So the plans for the
_Quadrille d’honneur_, which had been arranged with all sorts of
finality during the days beforehand, had to be done over, and alas! by
me. However, the invited guests had arrived, and the sheep separated
from the goats. The Ambassador and Ambassadress walked down to the
front door, beneath the vast entrance, while others of the official
family stood at the head of the staircase. A red carpet was rolled out
to the carriage and I had to go ahead and act as a sort of grand
master of ceremonies. The Queen and the Ambassador, the King and the
Ambassadress, followed by the Diplomatic Corps, moved down between the
lines of curtseying people to the ball-room where a throne on a raised
dais had been placed.

Gilet was stationed near the door so that I was able to signal to him
and start the band playing the Royal March, followed by a few bars of
the Star Spangled Banner. All stood until the Queen sat down. Then
came the Royal Quadrille, as at the Court Ball, and the waltzes and
“dancing in the barn” which Her Majesty wanted to see. At last Royalty
made a move, and they were escorted to the little salon where a small
table with two places had been set for the Queen and the Ambassadress,
and a small buffet at one side for the ladies of the court. The King
stood and drank a glass of wine with the Ambassador. Back again to the
ballroom--I thought they would never go, but at last they departed,
the host and hostess going down the stairs with Their Majesties
between the banks of flowers to the carriage.

Then the great dining-hall with its lofty ceiling and glittering
lights concealed in towering palm trees, was opened, for it was not
etiquette to serve the guests with supper while the King and Queen
remained. In a little while it looked as if a plague of locusts had
passed over the land. There was nothing left but bones and crumbs and
glasses and empty bottles. I never before felt so glad when a thing
was over! It has been a good deal of a strain for all of us.

This morning I feel like a boy just out of school. Although I only got
to bed at dawn, my forty winks have rejuvenated me, and I am as
chipper as can be. The echoes of the ball are very enthusiastic. It
appears now that the other embassies are trying to get Their
Majesties to go to them.

What do you think I am doing these afternoons? Why, riding horseback
like a little man! It took me days to find a respectable (looking)
horse, but at last I found at Ferini’s, near the Borghese villa, a
nice chestnut with two white stockings and a good deal of style when
she frisks about. Peppi calls her Mona Lisa. So, in the afternoons,
early or late, according to the amount of work I have to do, I may be
seen sallying forth, and an hour later, returning, the horse fresh and
without a hair unturned, but the rider pretty well done up.

But oh how I want to leave it all and come flying to you! Remember me
courteously to your Aunt. Does she still think of Peppi?

       *       *       *       *       *


POLLY TO A. D.

    _New York,
    February._

Every night I read your letters over and over. You are my love and my
sweetheart and I adore you. I can hardly believe such happiness is
coming to me, for there never was anyone so dear in all the world,
there never has been, there never will be. Your friends have been so
kind to me and your father has sent me such nice letters.

Oh by the way, whom are you riding horseback with? Mona Lisa? Ahem,
and the horse is called after her. So the grass widow is back in Rome,
and Peppi, you say, is cocking his eye at her? I think Aunt is too
busy with her charities lately to remember about her handsome artist
with his wild hair. She no longer wears floppy artistic gowns, she
really likes titles, and is getting quite excited over Prince Boris’
coming.

Now, A. D., I’ve got some news for you. Aunt just wouldn’t formally
announce our engagement, so I did! Yes, my dear! I sent a notice
myself to the papers, chuckling as I wrote it. Now it’s up to you. The
only thing for you to do, I warn you, is to come over as quickly as
you can and carry off your Pagan Polly, provided you still want her.

       *       *       *       *       *


A. D. TO POLLY

    _Rome,
    February._

Here I am at the office, receiving company in the mildest manner,
trying to soothe my dissatisfied countrymen, and do impossibilities of
one sort and another. I have already had several visitors this
morning. One was a young man who has had the cheerful but fruitful
experience of being buncoed out of several thousand francs at Naples
and is accordingly needy. I helped him out of the store of my wisdom
and out of the store of my bank account, and he has departed wiser if
somewhat sadder.

Last night Jan and I went again to Peppi’s studio. It seemed as if you
were really in the terrace room--you seemed to pervade the place with
its old tapestries and sketches, its rugs and easels and paints and
books of photographs, and the northern window letting in a flood of
moonlight. And there your shadow sat, while Jan played the piano
delightfully, gavottes, mazurkas, ballets.

I have adopted a plan which makes me the happiest of men. I carry the
last letter which I receive from you in my pocket until the next one
comes, and so I am never disappointed in not having a missive from
you. It is a splendid scheme, for then I always have something to
read. I shan’t want to give up the one I received today, though, when
the next one comes, for it is so nice. But then, the next one may be
still nicer.

       *       *       *       *       *


POLLY TO A. D.

    _Black Horse Farm,
    March._

At the farm again. It is lonely up here without you. The winter with
its drifting snow was fine, but now that is melting. The roads are
muddy and make such hard pulling for the horses that Checkers is
hitching up four while I write, and I plan to drive them.

How you would laugh if you could see me; I am the funniest looking
object--huge rubber boots, a queer-looking short skirt with half a
yard of tear down the side made by the bull pup, (he is the dearest
thing, though) an old brown jacket very much the worse for wear, a
Scotch tam, and Checker’s furry gloves--you know what I mean, the
lovely pussy ones. Now we are off!

_Later, a postscript._

This afternoon Checkers and I had a horseback ride and I can
sympathize with you after your Campagna rides, for I don’t feel as
spry as I might. Though, after all, you have Mona Lisa with you to
while away the time, and I?--Well, Boris is coming to America soon, so
you’d better be on your best behavior. It is midnight and I have
hopped into bed and spilt the ink; it’s high time I stopped writing
and went to sleep and to dream of--well, of one of you, anyway.

       *       *       *       *       *


PRINCE BORIS TO POLLY

    _Rome,
    March._

_Mon ange_, I am in Rome again, but will soon be in America with you.
American Secretary like me no more because I follow after you; he go
the other way, if possible, and I look in sky as if observing
interesting eclipse. It make me very angry--wish to pull his nose--my
heart is inky as the devil’s pit.

Your Aunt, she likes me, at least. The Carthorse she calls herself,
but not of your family surely, for you are like wild Arab colt. I try
without success to tempt you with sweets and with fresh dates of the
desert, but you not let me put on bridle. After Paris, my heart have
big hole. Now I run after you to America to try mend the hole.

You can be princess if you wish, and live in a country that will some
day soon be master of the world.

       *       *       *       *       *


A. D. TO POLLY

    _Rome,
    March._

Your letters, dear, from the farm bring the fine country air with
them. I can see the still cold moonlight on the pure white snow and
hear the ringing of the sleigh bells, I can see the old house, the
fire crackling up the chimney, and the cozy room with the old prints,
the warmth and geniality. Thank you, dear, for the picture.

But your mood changed, didn’t it, darling, when you got back from your
ride? I am sure your Aunt dropped some little bit of gossip, possibly
something the Prince or Peppi may have written, though I feared he had
quite forgotten her. He’s too deeply in love with Mona Lisa now to act
like a sensible person, and whatever he says is colored by his insane
jealousy of every other man in Rome who even looks on his divinity.
But I’m coming home, Polly. I’ll do anything to get away. I know you
want to live in America and so do I.

Last night was the ball at the Austrian Embassy to which came the King
and Queen. In a word--and a slang word at that--it wasn’t a patch on
our Embassy Ball. Their palace, for one thing, doesn’t compare with
ours, and then, notwithstanding all the etiquette and fuss of the
Austrians, all their punctiliousness, it didn’t go off so smoothly.
The fact is, it wasn’t so well done, and out of this I privately found
much gratification. The American function had been a great success,
while the reception of last night was rather a commonplace affair.

I stood around and watched the Austrian secretaries work--five or six
of them to do what I alone had done, and I delighted in seeing them
run about, and look sheepish or important, according to their natures,
as they did the more or less foolish things the occasion demanded. As
soon as their Majesties had gone, I departed, so got to bed at a
comparatively early hour. They had a cotillion afterwards which we had
the good sense not to undertake. Rather a funny thing was the fact
that a class of Americans who hadn’t been asked to our ball were
invited to this one!

I took a ride on my chestnut horse this afternoon--yes, the one Peppi
dubbed Mona Lisa. But don’t you worry about the real lady
Lisa--she--well, she just helps to pass the time away. Today as we
started out, great banks of clouds toward the East had gathered,
casting shadows on the hills, and these advanced till a glorious
double rainbow arched across the Campagna. It was all so beautiful
that we innocently rode right into the storm and were drenched in a
pelting rain.

The Embassy is humming with people calling, making inquiries, asking
for passports, demanding everything from a room in the best hotel to a
good store where an American can buy a pair of suspenders, and a
thousand and one other requests. Then the Ambassador is getting ready
to go away, so all is topsy-turvey. As soon as he goes, I shall begin
to pack my boxes--a few books and pictures; and then some evening when
the new secretary gets here, I shall quietly go to the station, take
the train, and ride rattling across the uncanny old Campagna for the
last time, and say goodbye to old Rome, goodbye! I follow your pesky
Prince!

       *       *       *       *       *


POLLY TO A. D.

    _New York,
    March._

Here I am, twenty-one years old and everything to make me happy except
two little things. One is I don’t like to have that grass-widow with
her gray cat’s eyes again in Rome. She’s much too smartly dressed, and
calculating, too, yes, she is, A. D. She just goes after what she
wants, then if it’s not obtainable, takes whatever else is handy. She
may be amusing, but even if you and Peppi do rave about her looks, I
don’t think she’s a bit pretty.

And this is the other thing. Aunt has inserted a denial of our
engagement, after the nice announcement I had put in the paper. That’s
why we darted up to the Black Horse Farm last week. To get me away so
I shouldn’t see it contradicted in the Sunday papers. But Sybil did
and sent it to me. What shall I do next?

I’m grateful anyway for the dearest sweetheart in the world; that’s
more than anyone else has! This morning the sun shining brightly into
my room awoke me, and the day has turned out glorious, not a cloud in
the sky. Don’t you hope our wedding-day will be like this? Louisa
decorated the breakfast table and on it were some birthday gifts--a
pair of pretty bedroom slippers, a work-bag from Grandmother (Ahem, I
sew so much!) and a pretty cardcase from Aunt, and a little silver
coffee pot, just big enough for two, from Checkers. Aunt sniffed when
Checkers explained elaborately the two it was meant for. I believe she
is still actually set on my becoming a Princess.

And then! There lay two letters and a cable--all three from you. They
got torn open first, even before I untied the great box that contained
your roses. I put away the letters till I could take them off to my
lair, to read and re-read secretly--such dear letters and such lovely
flowers. I’d like to kiss you and tell you so this very minute, but
you’re leagues and leagues away, so there’s something lacking to my
birthday after all.

After breakfast there was business to be attended to. Now I’m of age,
Aunt is no longer my guardian. (Do you suppose she’s heaving a sigh of
relief?) So forth I sallied into town with our business man, Mr.
French--we went in a cab--quite improper, don’t you think? And at such
an early hour! Well, we got to the office and were closeted together
for ages and ages while he talked and talked and read and read again
papers and documents, I signing them above and below and around about
until my wrist ached. Then a man with a red stamp came in to help
officiate till finally we got them all fixed up. After that Mr. French
took me to a safe where there was a little tin box; here we put the
precious papers with my John Hancock all over them, and after he had
given me two keys, he left me. And what do you suppose I did? Having
for the first time a little money of my own, I went to a jeweller and
bought a very pretty ring--for Sybil. Now are you disappointed? Never
mind. Something else was bought for somebody I won’t mention.

On coming home I found, well! ! ! There are no words enthusiastic enough
to thank you for the glorious great pearl on a chain to go about my
neck. But you know that these few poor inadequate thanks come from my
heart, and hidden somewhere in them are endless devotion and perfect
faithfulness to you.

       *       *       *       *       *


A. D. TO POLLY

    _Rome,
    March._

I enclose some photographs of the “meets” on the Campagna--of the pack
and the huntsmen and tent, and a group of onlookers--the princess of
San Faustino, the last Orsini, and Prince Solofra who seems to be
scratching his head and meditating on the past glories of the great
feudal families. Also one of your friends, Gonzaga, with the Countess
he is going to marry.

There is an attempt being made to revive the Carnival fêtes--the races
in the Corso--but the Veglione won’t be so much fun as last year, I
know. Every moment of that night together is unforgettable. Poor
erratic Pittsburgo, how you did tease him! And dear old Checkers!
There’ll never again be anything so funny as he was in that round
masque with its fixed grin, dancing about on the floor of the
Costanzi. But now it isn’t carnival for me. Who could feel gay when
his love is not here? So I am only an observer, while others sport and
play the fool, more or less amusingly.

The Corso has been crowded, and many of the balconies draped with
bright carpets, and wreathed with flowers. Through the throngs there
moved an irregular succession of fantastic figures, men on horseback,
dressed in red and yellow, heralds, groups of historic patriots and
warriors, and even Marcus Aurelius so ingeniously imitated that he
appeared exactly like the statue on the Capitol, which is supposed to
have left its pedestal and come down to enjoy the mirth. Then there
was a “char” with Venus--to whom as the Goddess of love, I took off my
hat and bowed,--drawn by tinsel cupids and snowy pigeons tugging away
at the ends of stiff wires. There were sacrificial chariots, too, and
floats of hanging gardens, and still more Roman statues,--

    “Priests and prophets of the ages,
    Vestals, augurs, pontiffs, mages,
    Brazen-belted, scarlet-shrouded,
    All their altars incense-clouded,
    Roman wealth of aeons massing
    Now in golden pageant passing.”

The people threw flowers and confetti and everything else they could
lay their hands on. Between certain hours there was complete license,
and a mask could hit or kiss or be as wild as he pleased. (You know,
dear, there _is_ a certain kind of kissing I do not disapprove of.)

Yesterday, too, was gay with crowds of people in the streets, for it
was the King’s birthday, and I was awakened by the music of marching
bands, in time to see from my window the Persian Ambassador starting
to call on the King at the Quirinal. The gala carriages made a fine
show with their caparisoned horses, the three liveried footmen behind
and bewigged coachman stuck up in front. This important Embassy had
traveled all the way from Persia to tell the King that a new Shah had
come to the throne, a bit of news we had learned by telegraph months
ago,--but such are the ways of monarchs. I wonder when the Ambassador
will arrive from America to announce the accession of the new
Administration! The evening found me dining at the Foreign Office in
honor of His Majesty’s birthday. It was a very splendid and stately
affair, the diplomats and officials all in uniforms of gold lace,
cocked hats, with swords and fine feathers, my simple, unadorned black
coat being the only one at the table. (However, the servants were
dressed like me, though to be sure, even some of them were decorated!)
It was a dinner of fifty, long and ceremonious, and afterwards we all
stood about while I watched the Greek and Turk dodging each other, and
taking turns in talking excitably to their fellow guests. Tomorrow
they will probably be at each other’s throats.

The Ambassadorial family has just left, with a good many people to see
them off, chiefly officials. I put some flowers in their compartment,
as I did when my darling Polly left Rome. I had hoped to be able to
leave with them, but, as I wrote you, I must wait until a new
Ambassador, or his Secretary, arrives before I can turn over the
affairs and leave. Oh, Polly, I am so sorry for this further delay.
You know how disappointed I am, and you will be patient with me, won’t
you, dear?

       *       *       *       *       *


PRINCE BORIS TO POLLY

    _Rome,
    March._

_Dushenka moya_, you do not know what these little words mean? Then
you cannot forbid that I call you that. Long time I am coming but had
much work to do. Now my passage at last is engage, and the boat that
bring me I hope she fly. So I fascinated you with my mysterious tales,
your letter says? Then shall I tell you more when we meet, about the
enchanted Princess with the beautiful golden hair, yes?

Ah, my poor little Hummingbird, I hear your young Diplomat he is
staying in Rome; there is no need, but then, oh la la! Always the
gray-eyed lady of Da Vinci is with him, and they tell me that every
day they go off into the Campagna and ride and ride and come back very
cheerful. I am angry for you. When I come, will you receive me kindly
like the true friend who will always remain your obedient Boris?

       *       *       *       *       *


POLLY TO A. D.

    _New York,
    March._

Thank Heaven your clever old Ambassador has finally departed, but I am
very cross that you didn’t come with him. Why wait for another
Secretary? Can’t someone else turn over those ridiculous “affairs?” If
you still linger in Rome, I shall complain to the Cruelty to Children
Society, because your staying there is making me pine away. Besides,
it may be months before your successor arrives. It isn’t by any chance
Mona Lisa who is keeping you? That day in Rome when she tore up your
picture, she said she would make trouble. Hateful thing, I wish she
were in Jericho or Halifax or anywhere except in Rome!

When do you think you’ll get back? Ever? And what about the date of
the wedding? Do you prefer the autumn? Put it off if you want to, or
shall we give it up entirely?

You might write me a little gossip. Do you see anything of Boris these
days, for I believe he’s been making Rome a flying visit? Don’t you
like him any more? I do. Does he still carry his fascinating Persian
cane? Aunt thought he was on his way to America, but like someone
else, he seems to care more about remaining in Rome than journeying
towards me. But now he writes he is starting.

       *       *       *       *       *


A. D. TO POLLY

    _Rome,
    March._

As to the date of the wedding, of course it rests with you, dear, to
fix it. It should be, if possible, a week or so after I get home but
as for waiting until autumn, I should die! Why not May--that time of
year would be lovely at the farm? My plan would be to make a festive
little program of pre-nuptial events and a small wedding in church and
then you and I would go away and leave everybody in the midst of it
all.

But my Polly will arrange everything quite perfectly, I’m sure. A poor
man, who is an awkward creature at best, is simply disorganized when
it comes to a wedding--and that wedding his own, whew! Nevertheless,
we’re talking about it, and just that alone makes me want to dance
another of my celebrated Highland flings. Make it May, and near the
latter part. I simply cannot fail to be relieved of my work in time to
reach home by that date.

Your letter hurt me. Nothing but duty keeps me in Rome, and you must
learn to trust me, and not tease and provoke me, because this
separation is quite as hard for me as it is for you. Your Prince is
here again, but is becoming impossible. I have seen little of him and
would like to see even less. Pan, dear Pan who never has a hard word
for anyone, much less for one of his own colleagues, tells me he is
the most malicious man he knows, that he likes trouble and does the
most abominable things. Even the Russians at his own Embassy seem to
be watching him closely. He couldn’t do much to trouble us, could he,
dear? Has he been writing, to you often, I wonder? And what about?
Tell me.

Polly, I write you everything! The other night, just Turkish Pan and
artist Peppi and Madame Mona Lisa came to a little dinner in my rooms.
While we were talking of not drinking, (I had planned to stop during
Lent) I said, with you in my mind, there were of course some toasts I
couldn’t resist. Quick as a wink Peppi lifted his glass with “To Mona
Lisa!” I was furious, but had to drink it. Dear kind bejewelled Pan
then raised his and said “Miss Polly.”

Of course Gilet had to refill my glass which he did with evident
delight, for he does not like a dry Lent. But to the second toast I
drank heel taps, you may be sure. Then my lady Lisa took an imitation
pansy from her dress, saying she knew that Miss Polly gave me fresh
ones, but while yours would fade, hers would last forever and bestowed
it upon me. Peppi, to my great amusement, looked daggers--he was just
like an angry spaniel with his fuzzy hair,--so I made a great show of
sentiment in accepting the flower.

Will you forgive me? not for breaking my Lenten sacrifice, for alas!
what is that to my little Pagan? You wouldn’t give up your tiny glass
unless you took it to pour a libation to some heathen god of mischief.
Forgive me for the first toast I drank, that’s all.

There is one thing also I must speak of. I have seen the gold St. Mark
lion I gave you on the Prince’s chain. I am sure it was the one,
because it had ruby eyes. Although we have not been speaking, I went
deliberately up to him and asked him where he got it. He looked
confused and said something about having picked it up in Paris. Then I
remarked, “I think some pretty American girl gave it to you.” He
laughed and replied, “Maybe, who knows?” And Peppi tells me today that
he has already sailed for New York. Will you kindly tell me why you
gave it to him?

Just what does this mean? The more I think of my lion, the more
indignant I am. To pay you back, I am going really to flirt with Mona.
I give you fair warning. What do you think of that?

       *       *       *       *       *


PRINCE BORIS TO POLLY

    _New York,
    March.
    Telegram._

Oh how happy I am to think I shall see you once again. Shall be with
you tomorrow.

       *       *       *       *       *


POLLY TO A. D.

    _New York,_
    _March._

I’m getting desperate. It is impossible to write you how I feel or
why, but I’m so alone except for Checkers. He said today, “Why young
’un, you’re getting restless,” and so I am. The Prince arrives
tomorrow--Aunt still continues to be queer about our engagement. So
you think I really gave the lion to the Prince? And you are flirting
with the dangerous Mona Lisa. Oh, everything seems topsy turvey!

       *       *       *       *       *


POLLY TO A. D.

    _Cable.
    New York,
    April 1st._

Breaking my engagement for reasons you can no doubt surmise.



_PART IV_

_THE PRINCE IN PURSUIT_


A. D. TO POLLY

    _Rome,
    April 1st._

On entering my room I saw a cable lying on my desk and eagerly sprang
forward, tore it open, only to stagger back and sink into a chair, for
it said, “Breaking my engagement for reasons you can no doubt
surmise.” Your name was signed.

I have gone over everything. Perhaps you thought I was really flirting
with the divorcée--perhaps the Prince has been at the bottom of
this--maybe you have felt unduly wounded at my delay in returning,
which you must know is not my fault.

Exactly what I intended to do I am not sure, but in my excitement I
telephoned Lisa. She said, “Come over at once,” and I went. She knows
absolutely no reason for your action, and begged my forgiveness if she
had unwittingly caused trouble between us. Thank Heaven there is one
loyal woman. Oh! Polly my Pagan, is it the Prince?

       *       *       *       *       *


A. D. TO POLLY

    _Cable from Rome,
    Evening, April 1._

Another cable was brought me late tonight. “April Fool!” it read.
Thank God. Polly, don’t do that again.

       *       *       *       *       *


A. D. TO POLLY

    _Rome,
    April 2d._

Your dear cablegram came this morning begging my forgiveness. You have
it, dearest, absolutely. Evidently somebody’s little conscience
troubled her about her naughty message of April first. You’ll get, I
fear, a pretty sharp letter which ought not, however, to offend you.
Anyway the last cable made me happy, and yet another, telling me that
the Senate had confirmed the nomination of the new Ambassador, made me
happier still and my heart lighter than it had been for weeks. At
least, someone is coming now.

But we’re doing the only thing to be done under the circumstances, and
my Polly, I know, expects every man to do his duty, doesn’t she? I
shall be home by May, you can be sure, even if I have to resort to the
desperate measure of deserting my post. But that would be a hard step
to take.

Yesterday I went about a bit--that is, this earthly shell of mine did,
while my heart and soul were with you, dear--first to take luncheon
with Peppi and to look at his curious copies of old masters. Do you
know, he has even taken to painting them on wood, exactly like the
fifteenth century--and his own Mona Lisa is uncannily like the one in
the Louvre. I told him so and he looked queerly at me. Some had been
boxed for sending and whose name do you think was blackly lettered on
them? The Prince’s--and the address somewhere down on New York’s east
side. Curious, isn’t it?

I didn’t stay long, being too distracted (my nerves are so strung up,
they make me the worst company in the world). So I wandered home
through the beautiful sunny streets, down past the foot of the Spanish
steps where we used to meet, past the fountain and the flower-sellers.
Write soon, won’t you?

       *       *       *       *       *


POLLY TO A. D.

    _New York,
    April._

Truly you lost no time in hurrying to your Mona Lisa with my
cablegram. Moreover, there’s a little doubt in your letter when you
ask, “Is it the Prince?” Can you blame me if--well, I’ll leave the
rest unwritten. In the meantime, Aunt is going to take Checkers, Sybil
and me to Louisville for the races, and then to Canada, just for a
brief camping trip. She says it’s to cheer me up, for I showed her
your letter and she’s much annoyed with you. Indeed it raised the poor
thing’s hopes that I was making the April Fool joke a reality. It did
come rather near to being serious. The Prince joins us at Louisville.
Strange about those pictures. I guess I’ll watch him.

Do you still think I really gave Boris your lion? Well, only to show
you how wrong you are about me, I will tell you that I did lose it in
Paris, but not until your letter came, did I have any idea the Prince
had it. I suppose he must have picked it up, and I am not at all sure
he even knew that it was mine. Now aren’t you ashamed?

I’m going right on, however, with preparations for the wedding in
spite of Aunt’s denials. A few presents are arriving, for I put a bold
face on to my friends and say we are engaged and you are coming soon.
We have a vase, a tea-set, a great silver bowl; so far that’s about
all. My old beaux are sending things, all except Boris, who seems to
think his constant presence is the one thing to bestow. I am working
on the wedding list,--it seems endless, and Aunt sniffs incredulously
when she sees me at it.

How long I’ve sat over this letter I don’t know, just dreaming of you
and thinking of Venice so many months ago. Now it is Spring and warm
and lovely; the flowers are in bloom and you are not here. Will any of
my dreams come true, I wonder?

       *       *       *       *       *


A. D. TO POLLY

    _Rome,
    April._

Sweetheart, on coming home I found a letter from the new Secretary
who is leaving Washington for Rome even before the Ambassador. I am
going to pack up at once and be ready to start as soon as he arrives.
Now you can settle on some date towards the end of May for the
wedding.

Hurrah! Gilet shall go around and get my bills in to pay them, the
butcher, the baker, the candlestick-maker. There must be some official
cards printed with a little p.p.c. in the lower left-hand corner ready
to leave. I must look up the dates of sailings of the ships for home,
say goodbye, give a lot of tips to porters, ushers, chambermaids,
_sommeliers_, and go to the station and so to you!

Peppi, who, I believe, is more and more hopelessly in love every day
with the lady Lisa, got up a party for her, and invited some painters,
sculptors, a few Dips and their wives, all to drive out for tea at the
excavation of the Villa Olivia. We met at the foot of our Spanish
Steps, and drove through the Porto del Populo across the Campagna,
along the valley of the Tiber by Cività Castellana, to the Villa
standing on a hill. After our tea and little cakes, we romped through
a wild Virginia reel. I danced with Mona while Peppi, sick with
jealousy, stared sombrely at me as if he wished to tuck a _stiletto_
beneath my fifth rib. It was a relief to come away, though, for the
lady’s gray eyes glittered when she asked me what further news you had
deigned to give me regarding your flirtation with the Prince. I trust
my Polly.

       *       *       *       *       *


PRINCE BORIS TO POLLY

    _Washington,
    April._

You ask me what I do--and what I think of North America? I busy and do
much work, travel and not think of any girls but you. Men I see in
street, without mustache, wear glasses, have dentist fill mouth with
gold, rush about madly and speak, “What say?” and “Sure!” and “Do
tell,” wear celluloid collar and ready-made suit and hang big cigar
from corner of mouth and--spit! Excuse my funs, dear.

People are lavish if you are Prince, turn somersaults on top of each
other to entertain you, but of foreigners suspicious more or less.
All American women have too much freedom and know too well how to
flirt, and too pretty they are for the heart of a man. Most of the men
are uneducate in art and languages and such things; they only know
business and politics.

Many buildings are handsome like in Paris and Berlin, but the cities
rising into the sky are astounding, abominable. The country and the
mountains so very beautiful, they are create to be a home for you, my
little wild bird.

Perhaps you not like me say such things but you ask me. I travel now
again from place to place. Your army is small, and your big guns burst
by each fire. Soon I will be with you at Louisville. Please tell your
Aunt that I kiss her hand, and your little hands, I kiss both.

       *       *       *       *       *


POLLY TO A. D.

    _Louisville, Ky.,
    April._

Such a wonderful trip as we have had on the train! We are now in the
land of the clayeaters, moonshine, and mountain feuds, in the region
of blue grass, fast horses, and pretty women. Every man is a colonel
and every woman a cousin. Our days are filled with hearty handshakes
and racy stories, our mouths cooled with mint juleps in silver frosted
cups, and our appetites satisfied with beaten biscuits and other
delicious Southern dishes.

Sports from all over the country have gathered here for the great
Derby--forty thousand or more were at the races--such a mixed crowd,
men in checked suits, painted ladies, blacks, whites, all together.
First we watched them making bets, then we strolled into the paddock
to see the race-horses being led round and round in an enclosed ring,
covered with blankets so that only their beautiful heads and bandaged
legs could be seen. Each one had his pony or stable companion, as he
is called. We hung over the railing and I did love it. Such a variety
of names the horses had--By Golly, Up Shot, Bungo Buck. The great race
we watched from a box in the grand stand. There was much excitement,
cheering, clapping, and money changing hands. On came the horses round
the track, faster and faster, till Speed Limit unexpectedly won the
race, leaving some people very sad and others wildly hilarious.

Checkers has won--not money on the races--but something else. And
what? A girl! Guess if you can--Sybil! ! ! And she is the dearest girl
in the world. Checkers is in kingdom come; he declares, “She’s as
pretty as a pair of pink boots and as enticing as a glass of Kentucky
moonshine. I can go to the races and lose; I can pick a horse with
nothing but a mane and a tail; can’t pick a clown in a circus, but I
can pick a blue-eyed doll all right!”

How did he ever do it? Why, those two scamps pretended, just to amuse
each other and everybody else, to have a mock engagement--Checkers
called it a “trial hitch.” He says it worked like magic and they’re
onto it for all time and that you must give him “the glad hand.” But
oh, how unexpected for the rest of us--they’ve known each other for
years. Seeing them so happy together makes me very lonely, A. D. I am
glad to hear the new secretary has started over.

The house where we are staying is quite beautiful--of gray stone built
in the château style, surrounded by formal gardens and terraces with
fountains and statues. Mrs. Courtney serves mint juleps every
afternoon in the gallery where superb tapestries hang on the walls,
and the enormous stone fireplace has logs as big as trees burning in
it. The German Ambassador, an old friend of Boris’, by the way, is
here, and also some racing swells.

Boris and I took a walk in the garden today and he pretended to tell
me the story of his life, how his father was a Russian, his mother a
German countess,--how he had lived in St. Petersburg till his father
died,--how (and then he became vague), he wandered from place to
place, but perhaps you know all this. He is passionately fond of
horses, “me much Cossack” he said, whereupon I proposed a ride.

My mare pulled a good deal and Boris tightened the bit, but as we
galloped along, both our mounts became excited and went faster and
faster. Nearing a sharp corner, I sang out a warning to the Prince who
was just behind. Then, suddenly his horse stumbled and fell. My mare
stopped for I turned off the road into a brook. Looking back, I saw
Boris lying on the ground very still, the horse standing by.

The terrifying thought swept over me that he had been killed and it
was my fault, but he was only stunned and his face considerably cut
and scratched. Though pretty well knocked out, Boris was game enough
to mount again, so back we rode. He is going to wear a scar, but says
it is nothing to the wound I have made on a more vital organ. Rather
neat, don’t you think so? Of course I have to be extra sweet to him on
account of the accident.

We had great fun at dinner, just a series of jokes and laughs.
Afterwards Mrs. Courtney went to the piano and we danced and danced
till the clock struck twelve. The whole house is like fairyland, it is
so wonderful, and oh, there’s a winding secret stairway that is very
mysterious. I can’t make out where it comes from or where it goes, but
in one place Mrs. Courtney can suddenly emerge into the library by
slipping back a concealed panel. The Prince is greatly intrigued with
it; I surprised him as he was trying to make a diagram of its
wanderings.

Aunt is still adamant against our marriage. She says I’m to wait till
we return to New York before even talking wedding or dreaming of
setting a date. But she doesn’t know what I’ve done! And that is,
I’ve despatched you a cablegram, suggesting the thirty-first of May,
tra-la! And added Checkers’ news. No more tonight, for I’m sleepy,
dear.

       *       *       *       *       *


A. D. TO POLLY

    _Rome,
    April._

I had been in bed some time, Polly my love, dozing and dreaming of
you, when I heard the door in the salon open and someone knocking
about in the dark, so I called out to know who it was. The half-asleep
_portier_ said, “Two telegrams, signor.” Up I got; up the light went,
too. Eagerly the yellow envelopes were torn open. One was yours,
“Hurry up! Come soon. How about May 31?”

For a moment I stood dazed, overwhelmed by the thought--my wedding
day! Then suddenly the realization in a great flood of happiness came
over me. Oh, indeed, I’ll hurry!

And the other cable? Aha! That was from my successor, the new
Secretary. He has already arrived in London and stopping there for a
few days’ business.

Checkers and Sybil have my congratulations. They certainly have sprung
a surprise.

       *       *       *       *       *


POLLY TO A. D.

    _New York,
    May._

Just back from Louisville and staying here for a couple of days before
starting for Canada. I am chuckling to myself and wondering how the
Prince and Aunt will like it, for they’ve never been camping before.
And I’m chuckling about something else, too. As soon as your letter
came, I ordered the invitations engraved, writing on from Louisville
to the stationer’s. Aunt has continued blandly obstinate, and deep
down in her heart she is still intending that this trip will give
Boris his best chance to make me change my mind--but we will see. I
asked her if we could be married as soon as you came back. She
tightened up her mouth with a crisp, “No!” Nevertheless, she can’t
stop me; I’m of age.

Then what do you think we did, Sybil, Checkers, and I? We went to our
Rector--your father’s old friend, you know he thinks everything of
your family--and he said he’d perform the ceremony. So we’ve secured
the church. We ordered the music and decorations--crimson azaleas.
Just an hour ago while Aunt was wrestling with a few last details
regarding the trip, Checkers took a traveling bag, filled it with the
invitations I had been surreptitiously addressing, and we went out and
mailed them, dancing around the mail-box till passers-by thought we
were utter lunatics.

Oh, A. D., do for goodness’ sake come home! I am so tired of waiting,
it seems as if it was impossible to stand it much longer. Don’t you
hope and pray we will live happily together? I wish we were married
now, that it was done, for in a way I do dread it. All I want is that
we may go far off into some little nook in the woods by ourselves away
from people.

Forgive this dismal letter but somehow everything makes me sad
tonight. Boris upsets me, I don’t know why. But I won’t be so any more
after you arrive. Do hurry.

But there’s one more thing, A. D., before this letter closes. The
Rector said I must tell Aunt our plans, and I promised to. I did try,
without any success, however. As we shall be traveling, she won’t see
the acceptances for some time. When I think of the inevitable
interview, I shake in my shoes. You’ll come dashing in, though, won’t
you, and rescue me?

       *       *       *       *       *


POLLY KEEPS A JOURNAL LETTER FOR A. D.

    _Island Lake,
    Algonquin Park,
    Canada._

No nice fat Embassy letter was waiting for me at the hotel, I am sorry
to say, but Aunt says we shall have time enough to get mail after the
camping-trip, so there was nothing forwarded for any of us. I am going
to keep this note-book with me and make a kind of diary, so as to jot
down everything that happens.

A glorious morning; we started off with guides, tents, and canoes, and
paddled through Cache Pond to Island Lake, our first camp, with only
two short carries. Boris insisted on having me and a guide in his
canoe. I won’t say I haven’t been flirting, but when my conscience
pricks me, I think of Mona Lisa in Rome with you, and go at it again.
Now aren’t you sorry?

The events have begun. We struck a nice little run of rapids, and just
when we got to the deepest part, the canoe slewed, hit a rock, and
then over it went, and we with it. The next thing I knew, someone was
dragging me up, blinking, choking, spluttering. I opened my eyes to
behold my rescuer, the Prince! Don’t you think, A. D., I should be
properly grateful to him? He saved my life--without an instant’s
hesitation, Aunt says. So you see you owe your future wife’s very
existence to him. I’ve _got_ to be sweet to him, haven’t I?

It is now near the end of our first day in the wilderness. I do
nothing but think how good it will be to see you again. I would like
so much to be in New York to greet you on the dock, but instead I’m
paddling with the Prince.

First day’s remarks by the party:

Sybil: “Oh! Ah! Heaven!”

Checkers: “Bully!”

Prince: “Bozhe moi!” (Whatever that means.)

Aunty: “This box has got soap! Not eggs!”

Polly: “I’m game for the next event!”

For supper we had beans, flapjacks, and tea. For beds, fir balsam.

I think that Aunt and Boris prefer the comforts of home. The Prince
certainly has her ear, and when I surprise them in one of their
long and confidential interviews, they act like a couple of
arch-conspirators. But he is very nice just now and it is my last
chance for a fling, isn’t it?

       *       *       *       *       *

We had a carry to Lake Kootchie, the second day, then a long portage
and four miles of paddling to the end of Big Smoke this morning, and
ended the day at Lake Bear. Checkers and Boris played cards on making
camp, and after gambling for a while, it looked as if the Prince saw
things were not going his way, so he stopped to arrange his fishing
tackle. Checkers screwed up his eyebrows at me and winked.

For supper--pea-soup, fish, and prunes.

Second Day’s remarks:

Sybil: “The loons are so jolly. I want to take one home.”

Checkers: “Every minute I like it better.”

Aunt: “The beds are so hard--sno-r-r-r-r-oh!”

Prince (gazing soulfully at me): “To rescue beautiful ladies--ah, it
is heaven.”

Confession: I let the Prince kiss my hand. After all, he saved my
life, you know. You weren’t here and I had to have somebody kiss it.

       *       *       *       *       *

Breaking camp at seven-thirty a short but pretty portage brought us to
the three Bonnecherre and then to Lake Rod and Gun where we are now
tenting. Butter-ball ducks flew by on the way, and we saw a few
partridges and deer, but not much big game, for moose are farther
north. Last night was an eventful one; wolves howled, the wind blew,
the rain descended. Suddenly our tent fell down amid loud cries for
help. Boris came to our rescue, but tripped over a rope and stood on
his head from whence issued a flood of Russian. Which, if I could have
understood it, would probably have paralyzed me for a week. Later a
muskrat came and ate up all our chocolate.

Third Day’s remarks at supper:

Aunt: “Oh, but I’m so tired! I didn’t sleep a wink last night.”

Checkers: “I’m hungry! I’d like to be the muskrat.”

Sybil: (Holding his hand under cover of her poncho) “I’m a frozen dog,
but I’m having the time of my life.”

Prince (_sotto voce_): “Only forty-eight hours more.”

Polly: “Can’t be too few for me.”

_Later._

A. D., I’ve made an awful mistake! I was too good to the Prince and he
took advantage of it. In fact he was pretty naughty. You see he
thought we were quite alone this afternoon, the others had gone
fishing, and before I knew what he was doing, he entered my tent and
had me in his arms, kissing my hair, my eyes, my mouth. I screamed and
one of the guides ran in. Boris cursed him for interfering, so I
simply asked the man to remain. There was nothing for the Prince to do
but walk out. Then the guide looked at me funnily and said that the
canoe didn’t tip over that time in the wind, that Boris had hired him
to upset it, the spot being fairly shallow and perfectly safe.
Apparently our Russian wanted to get the credit of an heroic rescue.
So you were right after all. He’s not to be trusted.

Also, there is a very queer thing that your little Sherlock Holmes has
just discovered. He’s had letters come to him over another name, not
in the least like his own. They fell out of his pocket when he was
struggling with me. I picked them up--one was marked up in the corner
with the name of some antique dealer. Can Boris be selling Peppi’s
pictures? Is that the mysterious “business” that takes him from one
big city to another? When you get back to Washington, ask about him at
the Russian Embassy. Oh give me a good straight American man, say I!

We’re about a hundred miles north of Toronto now. One day more and
then we leave for home.

       *       *       *       *       *

Fourth Day. A gray mist and an early start. I insisted on going in
Checkers’ canoe. Boris and I are not speaking. Our two mile portage
led to Rock Lake. Saw a bear and caught some trout and bass for
supper. Railway in sight. To celebrate our last meal we indulged in a
bonfire, had soup and a welsh rarebit, and gambled late into the night
by the light of candles stuck into broken bottles.

Fourth Day’s Remarks:

Aunt: “Fiddlesticks! What’s all this trouble about?”

Checkers: “Bow wow.”

Sybil: “Meow, meow.”

Polly: (Silence.)

Prince: (More silence.)

       *       *       *       *       *

Fifth Day. This morning the tents came down, fishing tackle was put
away, clothes shoved into the duffle bags for the last time. We
paddled across the lake to the hotel. Closing remarks by the Party:

Aunt: “Camp generally becomes passably comfortable just as one nears
the end of the trip.”

Prince: “How I love the railway.”

Sybil: “At the end of the last carry, still carrying on!”

Checkers: “Prince Tripp tripped up--a spring trip! Polly’s eyes have
been opened.”

Polly: “They’ve never been entirely shut. I only winked occasionally.”

These journal notes I am sending you with my love, care of the State
Department, Washington.

       *       *       *       *       *


A. D. TO POLLY

    _En Route,
    May._

Goodbye, Rome! I’m on the train at last, speeding away from the
Eternal City.

When I came home to dress for my farewell Roman dinner last evening,
there was a note on the table from the Doyen of the Ambassadors
stating that the King would receive at twenty-one hours and thirty
minutes. I hurriedly calculated this would be half-past ten, so calmly
went off to dine with some of my old pals, a sort of goodbye party,
thinking there would be plenty of time. Suddenly I had a lucid moment
and realized that twenty-one thirty meant half-past nine! I looked at
my watch--just twenty-eight minutes past. Whew, but I flew--took a
cab and galloped at full speed to the Quirinal, rushed up the great
staircase past the astonished lackeys, through the guard room into the
State Reception Rooms, got there, terribly out of breath, but--on the
minute!

It was a pretty sight, the Royal Circle in the Salon of the Mirrors.
We stood in a row,--“we few, we happy few, we band of brothers”--while
the King and Queen went as usual to each and talked. When he came to
me, I told him I was going home to be married, and got so enthusiastic
in telling how happy I was, how anxious and eager, how it was the only
thing which made me willing to leave His Majesty’s Court that he got
roused, too, and said really very pleasant things, and shook me by the
hand with a hearty good wish and good-bye, and strutted away most
amicably. To the Queen, also, I insisted on talking of my felicity,
and she said she had heard of it and wished us well. So! A Royal Pair
approves our wedding, if not an Aunt. You might point that out to your
title-loving guardian; perhaps she will think a little more kindly of
me.

Today before I left the Embassy, my successor arrived, and to him I
handed all the lire that were left, and papers and so forth. The
office had been thoroughly cleaned and dusted, a new carpet put down,
and new window-curtains put up. I showed him everything I could think
of, shook him by the hand, and just caught my train.

Now we are climbing the Italian Alps, which are wonderfully beautiful
in the afternoon sun, and in a little while we shall pass through the
tunnel of Mt. Cenis and out of Italy. Every day will bring me nearer
to you, dear Polly, and twenty thousand times more happy. Dearest, a
few weeks more, and we shall begin the first of our married life, and
you--my wife!

A telegram was handed me on the train just now which quite takes my
breath away, though its news does not surprise me as much as it will
you. Peppi and his little divorcée, gray eyes, Mona Lisa smile, and
all, were married today in Rome, with only Gonzaga, Pan, and Jonkheer
Jan at the wedding!

My dear, I am going to tell you something. The lady came to my rooms
quite unexpectedly the other day, and asked for tea, which Gilet made
for her, and then she just sat and looked at me with her inscrutable
smile and her mysterious eyes. Finally she got up and went over and
looked at your photograph for a long while, then turned and said,
“Your little Polly is very sweet, even if she doesn’t like me. Is it
true that you return for your wedding soon?”

“Quite true,” I replied.

“We’ve been very good friends, you and I,” she went on, “and I am
sorry to have you go. Goodbye.” She gave me her hand which I kissed,
for there were tears on her lashes, and I followed her down to put her
in the cab. She said with that usual cryptic look of hers, “I’ve made
up my mind to something this afternoon. Don’t be surprised when you
get word of it. Farewell.”

The man cracked his whip and off she went.

But still, there remains some mystery about her and about Peppi to be
unravelled yet. The two are married, so far, so good, but where does
the Prince come in? Surely he and she were conspiring about
something. She evidently wanted you to marry him, and she may have
thought then that I could be more devoted to her, who knows? Then,
too, there were those paintings, the copies of old masters, all packed
and addressed to Boris in New York. Peppi I trust, Lisa I pity, but
your Muscovite I believe is a rascal. Won’t we have a lot to talk
over? And think, too, dear, from now on I’ll be traveling every hour
toward you.

       *       *       *       *       *


A. D. TO POLLY

    _London,
    May._

This is the last way station, dearest, on my journey to New York and
you. I delight in these stages, the jump from Rome to Paris--Paris to
London--and London to Home!

The crossing from Paris was wretched, a great gale blowing up the
channel, but at least we were able to make it, which wasn’t the case
every day this week. England hasn’t changed much since my last visit.
I am always amused on landing to find everything exactly the
same--the same weather, the same incomprehensible accent and manner
of talking, the same points of view, the newspapers harping on the
same subjects, the same items in the society columns--everything so
conventional.

We were landed in the same old uncomfortable manner at Folkestone,
while the same crowds of mannish-looking women with great buns of hair
stood in line and stared, and men in knickerbockers and mackintoshes
stood sturdily in the wet gale and smoked bull-dog pipes, just as
pictures in “Punch” show they did a generation ago. Then in the same
cold compartment carriages we came speeding across the same country,
past the same roof tops, into the same Charing Cross station. And
behold, the atmosphere was made up of the same smoke and fog I learned
to know so well, and the lights burned dimly as of old.

The change from gay, well-lighted Paris, all en fête, to London,
sombre, melancholy, was just as great as ever, and just as complete.
And how small great but little Rome seems beside these huge,
up-to-date cities! I feel lost in them, and am terrified at the
crossings of the streets, and, like an elderly country woman, I pass
most of my time on the “Islands” in Piccadilly.

I have visited many of my former haunts, gone to the Embassy, seen
many old friends, and feel quite jollied up. I even went to a tea
yesterday, where some men and women stood around unintroduced, in the
delightfully awkward way which Du Maurier, alas, will no longer draw.
The evening found me dining at Prince’s Restaurant and later going on
to the Palace Varieties, where again I saw the pretty circus rider,
and although a certain person thought much of the performance, yet he
thought a great deal more of--you!

This morning I walked out--the London haze was pearly gray and
opalescent and a lozenge sun was in the sky, a beautiful day for
London--and I went down to the foot of Curzon Street and through
Lansdowne passage, and there, yes, there was my old friend the
cock-eyed sweeper, standing by his little pile of dust. I gave him a
shilling in my delight at seeing him again, and with his broom. Have
you kept my broom, I wonder?

It is still cold in London, and I try to keep warm with a foolish
little fire in a tiny grate. It is dismal enough, too, for candle
light. The British are afraid of “over heating,” as they call
it--which means really that they are careful of their coal. But then,
one is “stoking up” all day long in this climate, a heavy breakfast, a
heavier luncheon, the heaviest of dinners, with tea and toast and
muffins in the afternoon, and a supper at night.

Last night I had a dream which, although there wasn’t anybody to tell
it to before breakfast and so make it come true, I hope may be
realized. The only one to confide in, for Gilet was out on business,
was the fluffy-haired footman who wasn’t sufficiently sympathetic for
me to commune with. But indeed I am not superstitious, and the dream
was pleasant enough for me to think over to myself--because it was
about you!

Although this letter may go by the same steamer that I sail on, yet I
can’t help writing and sending you my love.

       *       *       *       *       *


POLLY TO A. D.

    _En route,
    May._

A. D., dearest, how exciting it must be for you about now, sighting
from the steamer deck that low-lying Long Island shore, Sandy Hook,
the channel, and beyond them, the beautiful bay. I can imagine your
father going to meet you on the busy, snubnosed, important little
tug,--but then, I think of so many things happening, for while we were
camping and your letters stopped, “thinks” were all I had to live on.

We are flying at sixty miles an hour, nearer and nearer to you. After
days of silence I found your two wonderful letters waiting for me when
we got back to civilization. The clerk at the hotel said Aunt had
given orders to hold them. I wonder if she did this on purpose, for
surely they could have been sent in to us by a guide. The Prince was
with me when I made my inquiries; I saw him trying to suppress a
smile. But he does not like my ignoring him and he is getting a bit
ugly. When I broke the news of Peppi’s marriage to Mona Lisa, both he
and Aunt seemed disturbed, and Boris acted quite upset, and as if he
had lost an ally. I left them talking it over. He certainly has Aunt
hypnotized. My twin wagered he would try for her hand next.

Checkers and Sybil spend their time on the train shamelessly making
love and telling me I must begin to inform Aunt about the wedding. I
screwed up my courage an hour ago and began, “The Rector says he’ll
perform the ceremony, Aunt--” but she broke in with “Whose ceremony?”

“Mine and A. D.’s,” I continued, trying to look determined.

“Humph!” she said, and closed her eyes, pretending to go to sleep.

When she awoke, I tackled her again. “I’ve engaged the church, Aunt,”
quoth I.

“What for?” said she.

“For the thirty-first,” I replied blandly while Checkers snickered.

“What are you talking about?” and by now Aunt was truly cross.

“The same thing,” I sighed, “our wedding.”

She muttered something about that ceremony never coming off and
departed for the observation car to join the Prince. But she looked
worried.

Checkers egged me on to begin again when she re-appeared. “As I was
saying, Aunt, when we were interrupted, everything’s all ready, you
know. Checkers will give me away. Sybil is to be maid of honor--she’s
to wear white lace and carry Lady Battersea roses--and the decorations
are to be wine-red azaleas--”

“Not another word!” she snapped, and I drew a long breath and stopped
for a few minutes to get ready for the next attack. After a pause,
“The thirty-first’s the day, you know,” I observed casually. Aunt
blinked.

“The wedding day,” piped up my brother. “Our Polly’s!”

“How about Boris?” she inquired. “You are a little fool not to become
a princess.”

I ignored this remark and continued, “Ricci is going to sing and St.
Laurent will be at the organ and--” I found I was addressing an empty
chair, for my relative had stalked off once more.

The next opportunity another bolt was shot at her. “My wedding dress
is ordered, and it’s a beauty! The veil will be four yards--”

“Porter!” shouted Aunt, and as that coffee-colored individual stopped
short, she started him on a long explanation of the route ahead of us,
while I withdrew, baffled and brooding, to re-read your letters. How
am I going to bring my guardian around finally?

Later I began again, “I think the reception at the house after the
ceremony should not be very large,” this apropos of nothing, “for by
the thirty-first a good many people will have left town, though, of
course they’d run up for a wedding like ours,--”

“Are you crazy?” she demanded. “We shan’t be home till the
twenty-eighth, and you can’t get your invitations engraved in time,
let alone sending them out.”

Checkers and Sybil drew near. “They’re all done and sent!” we
chorused.

“I mailed part of them!” proclaimed my brother.

“I, too!” piped up Sybil.

“When was all this?” cried Aunt.

“The day we left New York, so you see, you really can’t do anything
about it,” Checkers continued politely.

Aunt turned purple. “I don’t believe a word of it, and I shall not
countenance it,” whereupon she stamped her foot. And that’s the
situation now, dear.

       *       *       *       *       *


A. D. TO POLLY

    _Washington,
    May._

Behold me, dear, on my native soil, hungrily awaiting a love letter
from you, even though I am a little ahead of my schedule. I didn’t
cable, in order to surprise you, but nevertheless I hoped you might
guess the steamer from my letters. Father was on hand to greet me but
I was disappointed when I dashed up the gang plank not to see you on
the wharf and later to learn from your butler at the house you were
still hundreds of miles away. Then I came on to Washington at once to
report. All, everybody--customs-officers, collectors, bank-cashiers,
down to the smallest clerk in the Department, when I told them the
news, congratulated me heartily and added good wishes till I was as
happy as I could possibly be without you.

As soon as I hear you have arrived I will take the train to New York
and go to the Waldorf. Almost a year ago we began to love each other,
though the world did not know, and we kept our secret to ourselves.
Don’t worry. Everything will be all right. Aunt will have to come
round.

       *       *       *       *       *


POLLY TO A. D.

    _En route,
    May._

Dearest! Hurrah! You have arrived and we have just left Montreal on
our way to New York. Apparently Aunt left word for our mail to be
forwarded there, for when we got to the hotel, the clerk produced
simply a bushel-basketful. Of course you know what they all
were,--acceptances for the wedding! It was the last crushing blow. We
left her alone with them in her room, heaps in her lap, piles
scattered at her feet, and our vanquished relative sitting in their
midst like Caius Marius on the ruins of Carthage. A. D., has she
definitely succumbed, I wonder?--She remarked I was a stubborn little
heathen.

A few minutes ago, just before we crossed the border, the strangest
thing happened. Two officials came on board the train and began to go
through it, car by car, asking the names of the passengers, staring
into their faces, and making hasty rummages in their luggage. When
they came near us, the Prince started violently, then sauntered over
and sat down beside me without saying a word. His face was like chalk.

I inquired what the trouble was and if they were looking for anyone in
particular. They said a foreigner had been discovered doing a very
clever bit of rascality--stealing valuable old Masters from the
museums in several large cities, and leaving such admirable imitations
in their places that the theft hadn’t been detected for some time, and
no one could tell just how he had been operating. But certain letters
had helped furnish clues, and they had reason to think the man was on
the train.

Aunt called out, “All these people are in my party. We’ve been
camping,” and off started the official. As he moved away, he said to
his assistant, “No, I don’t believe Kosloff is on this train.” It was
my turn to look at the Prince. _Kosloff was the name on his letters!_

After the officials went out, I walked off astounded. Dear A. D., what
_should_ I have done? He is even worse than we thought, isn’t he?

       *       *       *       *       *


TELEGRAM TO A. D.

    _Care of the Department of State,
    Washington,
    May._

We reach New York the 28th. Plan dinner for wedding party the night of
the 30th. Invite ushers. Much love.

POLLY.

       *       *       *       *       *


PRINCE BORIS TO POLLY

    _New York,
    May._

The last days on the trip you speak little to me.

Yes I have played tricks and upset canoe but my love for you, that is
excuse. Why do you refuse to see me? I can to you easily explain the
pictures and the name Kosloff. If you intended to--what you call
it?--throw me down, why have you and your Aunt so encourage me? I ask
you that. Again I shall come to your door and you will grant me yet
one conversation. Bah! I am not a fool!

       *       *       *       *       *


A. D. TO POLLY

    _Washington,
    May._

Your journal notes and letters, my beloved, are before me, and I have
alternately boiled with rage at that Russian imposter, and grinned at
the thought of your baffled relative. You did exactly right, your
judgment was good and my faith in you complete. I am so glad you told
me fully about all the suspicious circumstances regarding the Prince,
_if_ he is a prince. How abominable of him to lay even a finger on
you. I should like to throttle him!

I called at the Russian Embassy and asked a few questions regarding
the creature, of course saying nothing that could possibly drag you
into the affair. The Ambassador was rather guarded, and said he knew
very little about him. The Prince had been in Washington, he had not
called at the Embassy, but it was known that he had dined more than
once at the German Embassy. The Ambassador’s attitude was curious and
left me wondering if Boris might not be in the pay of some country
other than Russia. But we shall see.

Something kept me from speaking about the counterfeit old Masters. And
it was well, for on returning to the hotel, I found a letter from
Peppi, anxiety in every line of it. Boris had taken some work to
America to sell for him on commission--as copies, honestly, he assured
Peppi, who believed him. But it was to be a secret, lest the Prince be
known to have disgraced his noble blood by descending to trade. Now
our artist is plainly worried and wants to be assured there is nothing
underhanded being done. Mona Lisa has evidently revealed something,
for she was intimate enough with Boris and clever enough to see he was
up to some rascality. I wrote our poor friend to have no further
dealings with the Russian; that was all I felt I could do. Nice
friends we have had!

Now you have told me your troubles, you have relieved your mind and
heart of all their anxieties, I hope. You can tell me anything in the
world, and find me absolutely true, for I love you with every drop of
blood in my body, and I would stake my soul on you.

Postscript: Have received your telegram. I will leave for New York
tomorrow, the thirtieth. Have sent invitations to ushers. We shall
meet at your house for dinner, and then at noon the next day your life
will be in my own safe keeping.

       *       *       *       *       *


POLLY MAKES A LAST ENTRY IN HER JOURNAL

    _Early morning, May 31st._

There are only a few hours left before A. D. and I shall be married
but I won’t try to write a word about how wonderfully happy I am, for
there is so much to put down! Something most extraordinary happened.
The Prince has been bothering me since we reached New York, by
calling at the door and sending in the most imperative messages. But I
refused flatly to see him, though Aunt maintained that he would
explain everything to all of us in a perfectly satisfactory manner.
Poor Aunt, she’s a dear, silly, old thing. I believe she’s actually
been in love with him all the time herself.

But yesterday, the thirtieth, Boris got the better of me. The butler
announced that Sister Beatrice, a nun whom I had known in Rome, wished
to see me. So naturally I told him to admit her, and in walked a
black-robed figure. Imagine my surprise and anger when under the veil
I saw the blue eyes of the Prince. He looked so like a naughty boy
that before I knew it, I laughed.

All of a sudden he became intensely serious and said that he had
really come to take me away, that he worshiped me, that he knew deep
down I loved him, too, that we must take the steamer that evening--the
Carpathia--he had reservations engaged--and that we could be married
on the boat, and he had everything arranged.

I showed him at once that he had made a mistake and ordered him to
go. An ugly vindictive look came over his face and then I realized how
desperate he was. He asked me if I thought he was such a fool as to
leave me in possession of certain information about himself; moreover
he declared he had to have money, that he was at the end of his rope.
I replied that I was sorry but could not help him again, that I might
have given him over to the officials on the train. Then he said
sneeringly I had better go with him, if I put a value on--life, for
instance, that he, a Russian, would stop at nothing. I rang the bell
and when the butler appeared, Boris saw that he had failed, and said,
“You will regret this hour,” and went out. Aunt met him in the hall
and after some whispered conversation, he departed. Later she left the
house. Nor did she come back the entire evening. My exasperating
relative! She had not planned to be at our dinner party, so I wasn’t
alarmed, though anything but jolly. Boris’s uncanny threat was echoing
in my ear amid all the joyousness and excitement and flowers, ringing
of bells and arrival of telegrams of congratulation. When everybody
had gone except A. D. and it was very late--we were sitting together
in the parlor near the front door,--I heard footsteps, and thinking it
must be Aunt returning, I peered out. There was a dark figure that
darted hastily up the front steps, apparently left a package and ran
swiftly down the street and out of sight. A premonition told me
something was wrong and that we were in danger. A. D. dashed out to
investigate.

“What’s this?” he said, picking up a box in the vestibule. Inside was
a ticking noise like an alarm clock.

“Maybe something the Prince sent,” I gasped. “He threatened to do
something desperate.”

“Run!” A. D. shouted and began to strip off the wrappings. Quick as a
flash he rushed into the house, out into the pantry, and dropped the
package into a pail of water. “A bomb--I’ve fixed it,” he told me,
“and it’s as harmless now as a plain box of gunpowder. But it was a
close call, the thing was set for one o’clock.” Just as we looked at
each other, the hall clock chimed once. A. D. caught me in his arms. I
laughed hysterically, and he asked, “Is it to be shown with the other
wedding gifts?”

We both went rather shakily into the parlor, but at that very moment,
Checkers came in, his face quite pale and sober. “Look what I found in
my room!” he said. It was a note from Aunt, saying that Boris and she
were going to elope, that she had always loved him and knew they would
be happy. “Scandalous!” he declared, “and what are we going to do
about it?”

“He’s a worse scoundrel even than I thought,” said A. D.

“Checkers, it’s up to you to stop her. Take a taxicab to the steamship
dock as quick as you can get there. Carpathia!” I shouted.

Checkers hurried out of the house while A. D. stayed on to comfort me
and talk over the next step we could take in case Checkers was too
late, and what people would say about the whole thing. At two o’clock
there was no word, and calling up the dock by telephone, we found that
the Carpathia had sailed at exactly one-thirty. Then I made A. D. go,
and went sorrowfully up to bed, but not to sleep, hoping that nothing
had happened to my twin.

Nor did he come back for hours. Finally, when it was almost daylight,
there was a tap at my door and Checkers tiptoed in and began, “I found
Aunt but she wouldn’t listen to me when I got to the dock. No go! She
wouldn’t budge and Boris was pouring out a torrent of Russian that
sounded to me like a bunch of fire crackers. The steamer sailed and I
stayed on board, still arguing. Finally I told Boris I’d hand him over
to the captain on any one of half a dozen charges that would put him
behind the bars till he was ninety. He gave me an ugly look and slunk
off,--I don’t know where for we didn’t see him again. Fortunately they
had not succeeded in getting a clergyman to marry them. At last Aunt
consented to return with me on the pilot boat on condition that
neither of us would ever mention Boris’s name to her again.”

“Where is she now?” I asked.

“Gone into her room and shut the door. Poor defiant old dame. Polly,
she’s ashamed of herself!” And Checkers went off to bed to make up his
lost sleep.

I shall try to forget the Prince too if I can, but he’s a strange,
fascinating and wicked person. Somehow I feel our paths will touch
again some day, and I have deep down in my heart a pagan yearning to
show him up in his real colors.

But that’s the end of it for now. A. D. will be with me soon. We’ll
forget our troubles and be happy. Let the Prince go hang, for we love
each other.

       *       *       *       *       *


A. D. TO POLLY

_An hour before the wedding._

Polly my darling, just a line of love. What a terrible night! Have
heard from Checkers. Thank heaven your Aunt returned. I shall not see
you now until you come up the aisle towards me, and I shall never go
away from you again. I am all excitement at the thought of the great
happiness that is to be mine today. Oh, my dearest, you have become
such a part of my life that I feel like rushing to your house for just
one more glimpse of you. From now on, I shall cherish you and protect
you. Until noon and then....



CONCLUSION


The journal and letters end abruptly here. Were they married? In all
probability, Checkers gave Polly away, with the lovely blackhaired
Sybil as maid of honor, while Aunt, subdued and chagrined, watched
them submissively from her front pew. But yet I should like to hear
about it from the little lady of the air raid of that Good Friday
night, and I should like to be able to give her love letters back to
her.

If the Red Cross badge found in the bag points a correct surmise A. D.
must have left the diplomatic service as he intended, and finally
entered the Red Cross during the war. The following clipping allows
another assumption which is, that lively Polly followed the bent that
allowed her to discover the author of the anonymous letter in Rome,
Carlo’s gardener’s daughter, as well as to detect the Prince in his
forgeries and thefts, and to develop during the war, into a very
clever secret service agent.

This was the clipping from an American paper also found in the bag.
“It has been said that in our land we do not use women spies as much
as they do in some other countries, but we cannot stop them if they
wish to work along this dangerous line, and we can only admire them
for what they accomplish. A case has just come to our attention of a
beautiful American woman trapping in Paris a clever and
long-sought-for spy.

“He was a Russian Prince, well-known in diplomatic circles, though
after his father’s death, his German mother returned to her native
land to bring up her boy and instil German sympathies in him. For a
number of years he was obscurely connected with the Turkish
Government.

“During the War this popular bachelor Prince had an apartment in
Paris. He was supposed to be just over the age limit for the army, so
he interested himself and worked for the betterment of the Russian
prisoners, being privileged therefore to send material across the
border into Germany. No one suspected him, and in the evenings he gave
gay little suppers in his quarters, which were well attended and much
enjoyed.

“Women of all kinds accepted his hospitality, often bringing their
husbands or lovers, generally just back from the front. They gathered
in his rooms like bees about a honey-pot and much war news was
exchanged or discussed. For some time a leak in high circles was
suspected, but it took a pretty American woman, who, it seems, had had
earlier reasons to distrust him, to get a dictagraph installed in his
rooms. Soon it was discovered that when indiscreet remarks were
dropped in his salon, the burden of them was mysteriously conveyed
into Germany through packages of food to Russian prisoners. She
surmised this first; later it was proved. The Prince was lunching at a
restaurant with the American lady when he was arrested.”

So the Polly whom I helped dress at the hotel and who gave me the bag
must surely be Polly of the letters but I did not place her in the
dark during the air raid although I, too, just a few days before the
fatal Good Friday, had been lunching at the same hostelry the very
hour the Prince was arrested. Suddenly there was a complete silence
in the room. I looked up. All heads were turned toward the table where
a blue-eyed man of Slavic type sat facing a fashionably dressed little
blonde. The excitement was intense; the scene, dramatic, as if they
were holding their pose for a tableau. He still sat there, the
gendarmes at his side, his expression unchanging, looking intently at
the woman opposite, while she returned his gaze not a whit less
steadily. Neither spoke. Suddenly he leaped to his feet and might have
gotten away had she not been too quick for him, and had flung herself
in front of him. He threw her off roughly but it was too late. The
gendarmes slipped on the handcuffs, and the woman followed them out,
her lips white with pain and her right arm hanging helplessly by her
side.

Then the dining room doors shut behind them and the room buzzed as if
invaded by a swarm of flies. I inquired of the head waiter what it was
all about, and he answered excitedly, “They have arrested a Russian
Prince! The police think he is a spy--but surely there is some
mistake.” Then he added, “Why, the Prince has been here on and off
for years--we know him well!”

“Who is the lady with him?” I inquired.

“I do not know,” he answered. “They say she is an American, but she
has never been at the restaurant before.”

“Is this the first thing of its kind that ever happened here?”

“No, once a few months ago we had an arrest--but this time the police
have surely made a mistake.” Shrugging his shoulders, he continued,
“Our police are sometimes stupid. We shall see the Prince here again
in a few days, you may be sure.”

But Boris never came back. After reading the letters and surmising who
he was, I became greatly interested and tried to trace him through the
interminable processes of the law. Everywhere I was baffled by blank
stares, and “Pardon, madame,” or “We do not recollect this case,
madame.” Perhaps he was swiftly and secretly executed. Who knows?
Surely he was Polly’s suitor in the Roman days of years ago. How they
renewed their friendship, I cannot surmise. Possibly the little
blonde lady may be in hiding for military reasons; perhaps our last
meeting was the hour of her death. But I am left a reluctant legatee
of her lover’s letters and those written by her gay young self.

ISABEL ANDERSON.



THE LADY FOUND


Dear Friend of Good Friday Night,

Can this book which is now being advertised really be made of extracts
from letters that were in my black bag, and that I thrust into the
hands of a certain kind person on the night when the German bombing
planes were making our hotel a place of peril? I verily believe they
are, and shall be so happy to have them again. I will call at the
publishers.

I tried without success to find you in the cellar where I crouched
with many others that dreadful Good Friday night when the building was
struck. The next morning I took an early train for Bordeaux to embark
for America, so I never saw any of the advertisements which the book
notices say that you inserted in the Paris papers.

When the war was ended, my husband, A. D. of the letters, went to
Russia with the American Red Cross, but alas! he has been thrown into
prison--perhaps the work of the Prince. The latter was released in
Paris through some pressure brought to bear by his influential
friends. My husband saw him in Moscow where Boris is at present in
high standing with the Soviet authorities. Our government is only just
now making an effort to have its citizens released, and I am starting
in a few days for Europe, hoping to meet A. D. at the frontier.

I hesitate about asking you to withdraw the book from publication at
this late date. Ordinarily I should feel ashamed to have
correspondence so personal go before the world, even anonymously. But
under these circumstances I feel differently. I should like to see the
Prince shown up in his true light. I feel that the American people
ought to be warned against their sense of indifference and false
security, and more and more publicity given to the true condition of
affairs, namely, that their countrymen do not receive the protection
of their own government, in Russia, in Mexico, and in other countries,
where _de facto_ administrations can throw any of their fellow
citizens into prison and keep them there months and years with
impunity.

Therefore you have my permission to publish the letters, and I sign
myself again, as you have been used to seeing me,

POLLY THE PAGAN.


THE END





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