Home
  By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon


We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: Devota
Author: Wilson, Augusta Evans
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
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 "Devota" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



[Illustration: _"Should the day ever arrive may I be there to paint the
real woman."_]



                                 DEVOTA

                        "_J'y suis, j'y reste_"

                                   BY
                          AUGUSTA EVANS WILSON
                         Author of "St. Elmo,"
          "At the Mercy of Tiberius," "A Speckled Bird," etc.

                            ILLUSTRATIONS BY
                             STUART TRAVIS

                             [Illustration]

                                NEW YORK
                          G. W. DILLINGHAM CO.



                          COPYRIGHT, 1907, BY
                        G. W. DILLINGHAM COMPANY
                          _issued June, 1907_

            _Devota_

                      Press of J. J. Little & Co.
                         Astor Place, New York



                             TO MY BROTHER
                           JOHN HOWARD EVANS



                             ILLUSTRATIONS

                                                                PAGE

    "Should the day ever arrive may I be there to
    paint the real woman"                         _Frontispiece_  45

    "'_J'y suis, j'y reste_.' He lives that historic motto!"      40

    An overwhelming sorrow seized and shook the lonely
    woman by the dial                                             80

    "Roy--my own Roy"                                            122



                                 DEVOTA


A TELEGRAM, Madam. The messenger waits for an answer."

The butler held out a silver salver, and Mrs. Rexford Churchill laid
aside her embroidery and took the ominous yellow envelope.

Glancing over the contents, her face brightened.

"No answer, Ramsay. Tell Hansel to take the dog-cart to the station in
ample time to meet the 5.42 train, as Miss Lindsay is coming. The trap
and victoria are in the hands of the fishing party who may be late
returning home."

The hostess turned toward her companion, an elderly woman whose white
hair was partly covered by a lace cap.

"This is certainly a charming surprise, and will be as welcome to you
and the Bishop as it is to me.

"Listen, Mrs. Roscoe:

    "'I sail on Saturday. Decided suddenly to run up for a night
    only to say good-bye. Expect me by 5.42 express. If bungalow is
    crowded put cot in nursery. Must return on 8.20 train to-morrow
    morning.

                                                   'DEVOTA LINDSAY.'

"When I planned this house party she promised to join us, but afterward
wrote cancelling the engagement, which she said she could not keep
because her uncle insisted on sailing abroad earlier than she had
anticipated. Only three days ago I received farewell notes and a box of
souvenirs for my children who simply worship her."

"Are you an old friend of Miss Lindsay?" asked the Bishop's wife,
peering over the top of her gold-rimmed glasses.

"I made her acquaintance about three years ago--under circumstances that
proved her an angel of mercy to me and mine. While in Switzerland, my
husband was called home on urgent business, leaving us to follow him a
few weeks later. Two days after we sailed, a frightful storm set in, and
I and my elder children were so sea-sick we could not hold up our heads,
even when my baby boy developed malignant diphtheria. His nurse deserted
us, fellow passengers shunned us as if we were lepers, and only the
steamer's surgeon ventured to assist in caring for the stricken child.
Then Miss Lindsay, though a total stranger, came to the rescue--gave up
her stateroom to my two children, Grace and Otto, whom she placed in
charge of her maid, an admirable woman of middle age, and, though we had
never met before, Miss Lindsay shared my room and nursed my baby day and
night. We were three days overdue, and when my husband met us at the
pier, he carried the older children to their grandmother, but that dear,
blessed girl, Devota Lindsay, went with me to the isolated ward of an
infirmary, and remained until my poor little one was pronounced well. Do
you wonder we have all lifted her to a pedestal as high as the
court-house clock tower?"

"Probably your great intimacy with Miss Lindsay enables you to fully
understand her character, which seems to most of us an enigma."

"My dear madam, an attempt at intimacy with her would prove as
satisfactory and responsive as a flirtation with the Sphinx. Dearly as I
love, and warmly as I admire her, I should never presume to intrude on
personal matters. Her beauty and gracious magnetism draw one very close,
yet I am always conscious that some invisible bar is never let down, and
that impalpable barrier hedges her from curious questioning. She is the
only woman I know who absolutely declines personal confidences, abhors
gossip, and never talks about herself. One afternoon at a 'reception,'
where a scandalous record was severely criticised by an intimate
associate of the indiscreet lady under fire, I heard Miss Lindsay say:
'That shrewd cynic's advice was wise, "Live with your friends
remembering they may one day be your enemies."' She certainly accepts
his rule of conduct."

"She has refused so many conspicuously eligible offers, that no one
believes she will ever marry, and it surely is regrettable that her
great fortune should not be consecrated to Christian philanthropy. Dr.
Bevan, her rector, dined with us recently, and he and the Bishop
deplored her complete indifference to church work. Dr. Bevan said he had
made her president of the 'Charity Guild,' and when he called to urge
upon her, acceptance of the responsible position that involved an
individual investigation of needy sufferers, she waved him off,
exclaiming: 'Slumming! Please be so kind as to excuse me from that
variety of church picnic, of Guild outing. Assess me as you think
proper, or as the charity needs demand, but "slumming" includes draggled
skirts, and soiled, defaced ideals; and no laundries exist for the
purification and repairing of besmirched ideals.' She seems utterly
incapable of any spiritual exaltation, and her rector assured us she
paid promptly her church and charity dues just as perfunctorily as her
real estate taxes, and her insurance policies----"

"Dr. Bevan appears to have forgotten the costly new reredos she erected
for us in St. Luke's," interrupted Mrs. Churchill.

"Not at all, my dear, but he deplores the fact that she gave it with no
more enthusiasm than she would have shown in ordering a new roof, or a
plate glass front for one of her office buildings."

"I fancy gushing enthusiasm in Miss Lindsay would surprise us quite as
much as a lava flow on the Jungfrau. This is the era of sensational fads
and whimsies, and of spectacular philanthropic feats, but I believe my
noble friend fondles no pet 'mission,' has no fetich--unless it be the
splendid pipe organ in her music room, or my own young barbarian Rex,
whose life she saved by careful nursing."

"Of course you know her family history is rather peculiar."

"She has never referred to it, but social gossip always traces outlines
as regards millionaires' domestic laundries."

"The facts are well known to a few persons. Hugh Lindsay, this woman's
father, was a remarkably handsome, dashing young man with barely money
enough to pay his tailor and board bills, when a rich college chum
carried him in his yacht to England. There he met Lady Shirley ----, who
had been betrothed by her father and mother to an elderly, gouty,
widowed earl, with the expectation that a marriage settlement would
enable her parents to reclaim a certain estate that was heavily
encumbered. The girl was young and headstrong, infatuated with Hugh
Lindsay, and one day at Monte Carlo, while her parents were in the
casino, Lady Shirley met Lindsay, whose friend's yacht was lying off
Monaco, and she ran away with the impecunious, good-looking young
athlete. An American clergyman went with them to the front of the Church
of Ste. Devota, and married them there--while the January festival
procession in honor of the saint thronged the church. That explains the
singular misnomer of your friend's baptismal label--Devota. The soul of
the girl martyr, whose burial was dove conducted, was supposed to hover
in benediction over the nuptial ceremony, hence the only child of this
marriage was christened Devota. Ludicrously inappropriate for a
character devoid of spirituality! Very naturally the bride's family
disowned so disobedient a child, and the young couple soon confronted
poverty. Lindsay went manfully to work as clerk in a law office, and
they lived humbly and quietly for nearly two years, when lo! his brother
Ormond died suddenly, leaving an enormous fortune in gold, silver and
copper mines located in a western territory. Ormond was a bachelor, an
adventurous prospector in regions where a great railroad was only partly
finished, and as he left no other heirs his vast estate was divided
between Hugh and another brother, Hollis Lindsay, giving millions to
each. Then began social exploitation and 'yellow journal' comments on
'princely expenditures' for town and country houses, yachts, etc., etc.,
all kept up on lavish lines of strictly English methods. Mrs. Lindsay's
titled parents suddenly remembered her existence, and made cordial
overtures for a reconciliation, which were spurned by the resentful
daughter who refused even an amicable correspondence. She was an
extremely beautiful and haughty woman, but most devotedly attached to
her handsome, loyal husband, and he never recovered from the shock of
her death. They were returning from a ride, and on the stone drive-way
near the front door, their only child Devota, about five years old, was
romping with her dog. Suddenly she darted from behind a clump of dense
shrubbery, and as her white skirts fluttered, Mrs. Lindsay's horse
shied, reared and threw her to the ground, killing her instantly. Hugh
Lindsay became a morose, morbid recluse, avoiding the sight of his poor,
innocent child whom he regarded as the cause of his wife's tragic death.
Three years later he died, leaving Devota to the guardianship of his
brother Hollis, who at once shut up the houses, sold yacht, horses and
hounds, and placed his niece in the hands of an old maid aunt, sister of
his mother. She lived in a small town in a distant part of this State
near the mountains. Devota was kept there in comparative seclusion,
trained by governesses and tutors until she was about eighteen; then
Hollis took her abroad, and as he has long been a globe-trotting
'scientist'--heaven save the mark!--the girl was dragged hither and yon
among byways and jungles, and only God knows what heathen holes. Hollis
Lindsay has no more religion than the Java "pithecanthropus" he declares
is the biological Adam, and which he accepts as his own ancestor."

"She is tenderly attached to her uncle, and, Mrs. Roscoe, I heard your
husband say Hollis Lindsay ranked high as a scholar and scientist,"
ventured Mrs. Churchill.

"Yes, more's the pity. Do you know what he has the effrontery to assert
as proof of his 'monism' sophistries?"

Mrs. Churchill bit her lip to restrain a laugh, and bent over her
embroidery hoop.

"No; and bless my poor ignorant soul, you must excuse me if I confess
that I don't much care; because we women never understand tiresome
wrangles over fossil bugs, snakes and beasts that were kind and decent
enough to crawl into the earth and become extinct before they had a
chance to worry us. The agreeable fact that appeals to my sympathy is
that Mr. Lindsay is an extraordinarily handsome man, a delightful
talker, and most charming host."

"As head of a Christian household, you will at least admit that it is
part of your duty to guard the sanctity of Bible records. Hollis Lindsay
declares Cain took for his wife 'a highly developed female animal,' of
course a beast; doubtless a monkey! Think of such a man as suitable to
guide the training of a young woman! It is monstrous that atheism should
prowl through the world, clothed in purple and fine linen, panoplied
with wealth and fashionable influence--and sowing poison at every step.
Heresy is just as contagious as smallpox--and vicious environment
produces depravity."

"But, Mrs. Roscoe, luckily there are exceptions. Sometimes it happens
that 'breed is stronger than pasture.' Romulus and Remus were baser than
beasts if they had not dearly loved and toddled after their four-footed
foster mother, yet no fable tells us they imbibed carnivorous tastes or
pranced around as weir wolves. Last winter I met an English gentleman in
Washington who told me something I should like to verify. He admired
Miss Lindsay immensely, but he censured severely her treatment of her
grandmother in London. Mrs. Roscoe, do you know the circumstances?"

"Yes, I have the facts from the wife of our minister who presented
Devota at Court. It appears that Lady Shirley's mother saw your friend
on that occasion, and so startling was the girl's resemblance to her own
lovely mother, that the dowager grandmother almost swooned at sight of
her. Next day she wrote a most affectionate note imploring the young
woman to come to her, and sent her carriage and maid to the hotel. The
note was read and returned with this cruelly curt response: 'I am
leaving London to-day. Permit me to say that the recognition withheld
from my mother will never be accepted by her child.' Can you imagine the
implacable, rancorous revenge that could so harshly reject overtures
from an aged, white-haired grandmother? That girl has the wrought-iron
will of Lady Shirley. Not long ago Horace Bingham told my son that when
it was reported a young English nobleman--lacking money to repair his
Elizabethan manor house--was trying to marry Miss Lindsay, Horace asked
her when she would wear the ancestral diamonds his lordship offered her,
and she replied icily: 'I do not buy my jewels from titled peddlers.'
There! I hear the Bishop coughing and he needs his lozenges."

As the door closed behind Mrs. Roscoe, her hostess laughed softly and
murmured:

"Dear old, pre-sanctified cat!"

An exceedingly pretty woman, dowered with a kind and sunny nature, Mrs.
Churchill was a devotedly tender wife and mother, loyally attached to
her church, and undeniably fond of her card club, opera box and gay
house-parties--the latter an unusually attractive feature of summer
sojourns at her villa, "The Oleanders."

Two hours later in the day, she sat before the oval mirror of her
dressing-room, watching the nimble fingers of the maid pile her black
hair into a towering pompadour, while Miss Lindsay leaned back in an
easy chair close to the onyx toilet table.

Behind the blue crest of a distant peak the sun had disappeared, but the
vivid light of afterglow streamed through the open window framed in
riotous clusters of _réve d'or_ roses; and beyond the eastern rock-bound
shore line stretched a breeze-dimpled yellow sea, where sail boats swung
like gigantic white butterflies over a wind-swept field of jonquils.

"Mrs. Churchill, where are the children? As I must leave after an early
cup of coffee in the morning, I should like to see as much as possible
of them this evening."

"All gone to a dog show in the village, and afterwards to a birthday tea
at the Whiteheads'. I tried to buy off Rex, and offered sundry bribes,
as he is rather too young yet; but he is such a persistent, wilful
little sinner, and besides, the governess, seconded by Grace and Otto,
stood security for his good behavior at the tea-party. There, Anice--my
head is sufficiently like the tower of Babel! Get things ready for Miss
Lindsay and shake out her dinner gown."

The maid fastened a diamond crescent in her mistress's hair and
withdrew.

"Now, why must you hurry away on that first train?"

"Uncle Hollis wishes to read a paper on the opening day of a congress in
Geneva, and any delay in our sailing day after to-morrow would cancel
his engagement. So many matters remain unfinished I decided only at the
last moment to run up for a night, and I very much doubt the wisdom of
coming at all." She rose, closed the door of the dressing-room and
resumed her seat.

"Miss Devota, how wonderfully well you look! Each year seems to add to
your fresh loveliness and you appear younger than when I first saw you.
Tell a needy friend how you manage to placate wrinkling, sallowing,
greying time?"

"My health is perfect; my hair and teeth remain very loyal, and as I
never insulted my complexion by any attempts to improve it, there seems
no grievance for it to redress. With thanks for your friendly
compliments let us dismiss my personality. Now, I owe you an explanation
which your clock warns me must be brief. I am sure you will not doubt my
sincere desire to see you all before going abroad--even when I tell you
that a very different motive compelled this visit. I came here
especially to see Governor Armitage, who, I am told, is still your
guest."

"Yes, he remains with us until Saturday; but you knew he would belong to
this house-party, for it was after I sent you a revised list of friends
who had accepted, that you suddenly declined joining us."

"At that time there existed no reason for any wish to meet him."

"Is it possible you have never seen him?"

"I have seen him several times; once or twice at the opera he sat quite
near my box--but I have not even a bowing acquaintance with him."

"You have not been to the State Capitol?"

"Not during his incumbency. You know all the horrible conditions that
surround our unfortunate friend Amy Clinton. The date of her husband's
execution is only five days distant, and every effort to delay it or
secure a pardon has failed. Poor Amy's baby is critically ill, and old
Mrs. Clinton is so prostrated since her unsuccessful journey to the
Governor, in her son's behalf, that neither she nor the wife can make a
farewell visit to the prison. This morning an urgent message over the
telephone called me to the Clinton home, where I found Amy frantic with
grief and dread. She showed me a telegram from her husband: 'I have no
hope. Chaplain says only one last chance; insists you send Devota
Lindsay to Governor. She may save me. For God's sake get her help.' Can
you imagine my painful perplexity? Amy could not give any reason for the
chaplain's belief--she said he was a new man in the prison work and she
could not recall his name. I tried to convince her it was utterly
impossible that I could succeed where vastly more powerful influences
had repeatedly failed; but in her frenzied condition she listened to no
refusal. Knowing the hopelessness of the attempt, I resisted all appeals
until she lifted her gasping baby close to my face, and almost screamed:
'Can you die in peace if you refuse to try to save my darling's father
from the gallows? Will you see her in her coffin disgraced because you
would not lift a finger?' So I am here, on a fool's errand, confronting
humiliating defeat."

Mrs. Churchill's eyes were full of tears, and leaning forward she softly
stroked Devota's beautiful hands.

"Oh, my dear--what a frightful ordeal for you! I would encourage you if
I dared, but while the Governor is bland as May sunshine he is simply
inexorable when once he decides a matter. Feminine wiles and feminine
wails make no more impression on him than summer dew on an iron-clad;
and his cool, smiling way of shieing at every suggestion of marriage
makes me absolutely sure that some pretty, vixenish kitten of a girl has
clawed and frazzled his heart strings. How I wish I could help you! Poor
Amy--it is heart-breaking to think of her awful fate."

"You can help me by manoeuvring to secure an opportunity for a brief
presentation of Amy's appeal."

Mrs. Churchill clasped and unclasped a jewelled serpent at her wrist,
and her brows contracted.

"That could easily be accomplished by his taking you in to dinner, but
unluckily I am handicapped by the Bishop's wife who arrived only this
morning and has precedence. Oh, the eternal unfitness of ecclesiastical
ingredients in secular pie!"

"I am very glad he escorts Mrs. Roscoe, because I could not possibly
broach my distressing business in the presence of a chattering dinner
party, and I must obtain a private interview."

"I have arranged to consign you during dinner, to the tender mercies of
your avowed naval worshipper, Captain Winstead, who is spending the week
with his mother, and comes to us for this evening. The Governor and his
secretary have exclusive use of the library, and sometimes they are shut
up there after dinner. We can watch his movements, and you must storm
the citadel and expel Mr. Walton who lives at his typewriter."

On the paved driveway beneath the window sounded the beating of horses'
hoofs, and a man's deep, mellow voice saying:

"I'm sorry I cannot yield to your wishes, and, my dear Churchill, you
should remember that you once gave me an agate seal inscribed--'_J'y
suis, j'y reste_.'"

Devota shivered and rose. Mrs. Churchill caught her hand.

"Those two have just returned from their daily horseback ride, when,
secure from eavesdroppers, they discuss State politics. Did you hear,
'_J'y suis, j'y reste_?' He lives that historic motto! My husband thinks
him the noblest man on earth, despite the fact that as an attorney for
various classes, Rexford prepares bills that the Governor sometimes
fights stubbornly. A great many years ago, before his political career
began, when he was almost obscure, a horrid scandal was hatched against
Royal Armitage, who it seems held some professional secret, and rather
than betray the real sinner he kept silence, and endured disgrace until
an unexpected death-bed confession fully cleared his character; and
since then the people in that part of the State have never been able to
do enough for him. This is his second term. Now run away and get ready
for battle. You must look your best to-night and have barely time to
dress. By the by, speaking of deadly battles, wait a minute. Do you mind
telling me why and how you dared to cross swords with my august and
formidable cousin, who has half the alphabet in capital letters dangling
like a kite's ragged tail after her name, Professor Hannah Barbara
Brown?"

[Illustration: "_'J'y suis, j'y reste.' He lives that historic motto!_"]

Miss Lindsay had reached the door, but paused and looked back over her
shoulder:

"As president of her college she wished me to endow a chair of Philology
and Etymology; and to convince me of the absolute necessity of 'broader
lines' of culture in education of girls, she commented on the surprising
ignorance of some women who do not know that the abusive word 'virago'
was a valued title of intellectual honor in the fifteenth century, and
that its twin horror 'termagant' originally designated a deity. In very
respectful terms I declined her scheme, on the ground that the new
dictatorship of big wigs in orthography--the prophets of revised
language--would soon leave no etymon for students to hunt down; 'fonetik
refawm' would end that scholarly game. I tried in vain to propitiate her
by offering to provide a chair of 'Household Economics, Sanitation and
Decoration'; but she deluged me with vitriolic sarcasm, and in closing
the correspondence, I ventured to quote a crusty old critic: 'If the
stockings are blue, the petticoat must be long.'"



                               CHAPTER II


When a master painter, crowned with international renown, had
unsuccessfully attempted a portrait of Devota Lindsay, he turned the
canvas head down with face to the wall, and vented his irrepressible
chagrin.

"Miss Lindsay will pardon me for declining to waste any longer her
patience, and my time in finishing a picture that can be merely a pretty
mask. Despite its classic lines and exquisite coloring the locked face
you show me, no more reflects your individual mentality and emotional
potentialities than some flawless alabaster mask. If you will permit a
frank analysis, I should say your habitual expression is that of
complete, well-trained repose, impervious to shocks; and even your
eyes--if windows of your soul--are deftly curtained with a radiant mist
defying scrutiny. If you will excuse the _argot_ of your own countrymen,
should the day ever arrive when you 'let yourself go,' may I be there to
paint the real woman! I shall destroy this baffling work, retaining only
the hand and arm, which you must grant me as some solace for defeat. The
day is not distant when you will recognize your wrist and fingers in my
'Egeria' signalling Numa."

Mature womanhood very rarely preserves the fresh and dainty tints
peculiar to girlish youth, and to-night as Miss Lindsay walked slowly
down the stairs, one might well have doubted the number of years that
had rolled so tenderly, leaving no credentials to line their passage.

Her dinner dress of heliotrope chiffon was cut square at the neck,
garnished with filmy Mechlin, and around her throat she wore a broad
collar composed of three rows of large fire opals, set in delicate
Venetian network of gold wire, from the center of which hung a Maltese
cross of diamonds. In her silk girdle was fastened a bunch of
long-stemmed double white violets. The slender handle of her circular
fan was studded with opals, and the disk glowed with its iridescent
border of peacock feathers.

Avoiding the main door of the long parlor whence came the hum and
chatter of many voices, she paused in an adjoining music-room, where a
lace-curtained arch-way permitted a view of the assembled guests. Above
the arch an electric light glared over her face and figure, enhancing
the golden shimmer of her hair, and the starry brilliance of the
long-lashed velvety hazel eyes. Cautiously lifting the outside edge of
the drapery, she looked at the various groups, and her gaze fastened on
one where the hostess, the Bishop's wife, and Mrs. Van Allen--a gay
young widow--clustered around the tall, athletic form of Governor Royal
Armitage.

At forty-three years of age he looked older; his massive, finely
modelled head and very regular features justified the generally conceded
epithet "handsome"; yet in repose his face was cold, and the sombre,
dark grey eyes rarely changed their brooding, _en garde_ expression,
even when the well-cut lips parted in a smile that disclosed a superb
set of teeth.

Devota studied the countenance for a moment, and crushed back a
half-uttered moan, while a tremor shook her; then lifted the lace
curtain and entered the drawing-room.

"Ah, Miss Lindsay, how welcome you are after we had abandoned all hope
of this pleasure! Following my example, our entire household wept over
your failure to come sooner. My wife tells me you know everybody here
except the Governor, and since you are strangers, I am glad it is my
privilege to make you both my debtor by an introduction."

Mr. Churchill drew her hand to his arm, and she bowed to right and left
to guests, as the host led her forward. The Governor was bending over an
engraving in Mrs. Roscoe's hand, but suddenly drew himself erect and
threw his head back proudly.

"Gov' Armitage, I am exceedingly glad to present you to Miss Lindsay,
our family mascot."

Both bowed impressively, and a deep, well-trained, manly voice answered:

"I assure you it is a pleasant surprise to find myself numbered among
those so fortunate as to claim Miss Lindsay's acquaintance."

The cold grey eyes looked steadily at Devota, but his face evinced no
more pleasure than the granite gargoyle on the roof.

"It is my privilege to remember that a great many years ago, when quite
young, I met your Excellency, but certainly I have no right to expect
that after the long lapse of time any recognition could occur."

"You are very gracious to recall a casual incident of 'auld lang syne'
that I dared not flatter myself you cared to remember; but that you have
not entirely forgotten it is as unexpected as it is complimentary."

The eyes of each probed deep, but neither flinched, and as Mrs.
Churchill arched her brows and pinched her husband's arm, Devota smiled,
and turning away held out her hand to Bishop Roscoe.

"My dear Miss Lindsay, I am glad to have an opportunity to wish you
Godspeed on the long tour you contemplate. When do you sail?"

"At dawn, day after to-morrow."

Mrs. Churchill's fan tapped the Bishop's wrist.

"It is your duty to lecture her soundly on her descent into the Bohemian
ranks of roaming 'bachelor girls,' who, running after tinsel kites they
call 'careers,' turn their backs on all home duties, forsake every form
of genuine feminine domesticity, cast family ties to the winds and herd
in tenements, boat-houses and mountain camps. Professional female
tramps!"

"I am very sure he will agree with me in thinking that Mrs. Churchill is
cruel in smothering her innocent friend under an avalanche of
opprobrious epithets. My sole 'family tie' happens to be Uncle Hollis,
and I hold fast to him, though to do so necessitates surrender of 'home
duties' in order to keep under his protecting wing. Not at all a
'bachelor girl' if you please; but having recently bidden a reluctant
and tearful adieu to my thirty-first birthday, I have deliberately
selected a very different and more subdued type of serene
old-maidhood--the effete and much-derided spinster of less degenerate
days, a hundred years ago-who studied Mrs. Chapone and Mrs. Opie, spent
all tender affections on pugs, canaries and knitting needles, sternly
confined hilarity within the prim boundary of the minuet, and revered
chaperons almost as devoutly as the 'Apostles' Creed.'"

The announcement of dinner rearranged the groups, and escorted by
Captain Winstead, Devota was seated at an unusually large circular table
where sixteen persons found ample room. There were no candelabra so
suggestive of childish "peek-a-boo" or the tinsel frippery of Christmas
trees, and the colored tapers of juvenile birthday fêtes; but from the
ceiling a flood of light fell from clustered electric globes upon glass,
silver and the snowy damask cloth, wherein woven wreathes of orchids
seemed to stand out as though embroidered in satin tissues. Neither tall
vase nor _bonbonnière_ impeded view of the entire table, and in the
center a long, low silver shell was filled with stephanotis and
amber-edged Farleyense fronds, while in front of each guest lay a
slender spray of daphne starred with bloom.

Mrs, Churchill sat between the Governor, assigned to Mrs. Roscoe, and
the Bishop, whose next neighbor was the vivacious young widow Mrs. Van
Allen, a recent donor to his favorite church of an old and very costly
silver sacrament service that Cellini was said to have embossed and
engraved.

Gradually the overture of general chatter diminished, and as
conversation became dialogues between individual couples, Devota found
it difficult to fix her attention upon Captain Winstead's remarks, to
which her replies were brief and perfunctory. Notwithstanding her
efforts to resist the impulse, her eyes turned often to the smiling face
of the man immediately opposite her, and she was aware that he
studiously avoided looking at her.

He was an amused listener during the progress of a spirited skirmish
between the hostess and Mrs. Roscoe on the subject of "bridge," which
the latter denounced as "social gambling leprosy," that was swiftly
bringing the morals of Monte Carlo into family circles, and all phases
of club life. Apparently claiming victory in the argument, the Bishop's
aggressive wife next opened fire on the Governor, because of his failure
to approve a bill framed to secure a large appropriation for
establishment of an additional State reformatory.

"It is hard to believe that you, sir, could turn a deaf ear to the cry
for help that calls to you from the criminal outcast children, whose
salvation should be your dearest aim. An enemy of reformatories at the
head of our State government is surely a mournful and disheartening
spectacle."

"Really, my dear madam, your indictment is so severe, you force me to
plead 'not guilty.' For a thorough, efficacious reformatory system I am
an earnest advocate, but my convictions relative to desirable methods
and conditions may not meet your entire approval. When I was vested with
necessary authority I made an exhaustive inspection of all State penal
and reform institutions, and found an ample reformatory centrally
located and well equipped along educational and industrial lines.
Regarding it as a vital question, I have very carefully studied reports
of various farms, schools, etc., from the days of Pourtalès' tragic
failure, and I trust you will pardon me if I frankly confess that
statistics of juvenile criminology do not encourage me to increase the
number of State reformatories. The urgent need of reform is too
appalling to be ignored, but the facts at my command do not warrant a
belief that herding youthful offenders at State compounds or similar
institutions accomplishes the desired result. A profound and noble
student of mankind admonishes us: 'Children have more need of models
than of critics.' Of course incurable moral degenerates must be denied
opportunity to prey upon their fellow-creatures, and for this sad class,
provision for seclusion is sufficient; but the 'cry of the children' now
ringing through our land is for parental guardianship--for the return of
domestic control. Madam, the best, the divinely appointed reformatories
are preventive as well as corrective, and God commissioned one in every
parent to whom He intrusted an immortal soul for mental and moral
training. No outflow rises higher than its source; as are the family
standards, usage and influence, such inevitably must be the trend of the
nation--the vast aggregation of those practically orphaned as regards
parental authority and guardianship. We are all glad to remember
distinguished exceptions to prevailing conditions, but how little
genuine home life remains to leaven the social masses? Do fathers and
mothers fully realize that they have abdicated their throne on the
hearthstone, now usurped by servants and tutors, and that some day the
souls of their neglected sons and daughters will be lost through their
failure to exert proper care, and watchful guardianship? As I walk the
streets of our cities the terrible truth becomes evident that parents
have gone out after strange club-gods, and the pavements are the real
nurseries of our boys and girls. America's most urgent national need is
the revival of home life."

"In order to promote the system of reform you advocate in opposition to
Mrs. Roscoe's darling scheme, has it never occurred to you that it might
be wise to establish in the Executive Mansion a model household, for the
imitation of our State where other experimental stations of various
character seem to be educational?" asked Mrs. Van Allen.

The Governor bowed and laughed as he replied:

"Your rosy suggestion is so alluring that my utter inability to adopt it
fills me with poignant regret. Instead of spending the past ten or
twelve years in trying to hypnotize some sweet woman into the belief
that I was worthy of her trust, I have unwisely devoted my entire
energies to other and far less charming pursuits, until confirmed old
bachelorship now absolutely bars the possibility of any change. Rest
assured no sour grapes mar my vineyard, and the hopelessly unattainable
is always invested with additional value. Knowing my defrauded
bachelorhood seems inevitably unalterable--are you not needlessly cruel
in dangling so tempting a pink sugar-plum beyond my grasp?"

"My dear child, don't soil your pretty fingers by stoning the prophets!"
said the Bishop, patting the bare, plump arm of his near neighbor.
"Armitage is right. He has diagnosed the social sarcoma that threatens
our national vitals. Instead of purifying and exalting the moral code,
the press, the politicians, even some of the clergy are ranting and
howling Jeremiads over 'cannibal trusts,' and corrupt corporate and
individual fortunes, and lashing Congress, State legislatures and even
the Judiciary to institute a crusade of covetousness, to rob the rich in
order that labor may hold its hands in idleness and batten on plunder.
An American twentieth-century recrudescence of Jacquerie freebooters!
Our youth must be trained in early years by parental precept and example
to understand and to hold sacred the legal line of boundary between
_meum et tuum_--and to obey God's law, 'Thou shalt not covet--anything
that is thy neighbor's'; but will fathers and mothers perform a duty
that may save this country from vicious wholesale spoliation?"

"Good heavens--my Right Reverend friend!" exclaimed Mrs. Churchill,
"Have you no pity for fathers who must fly kites in stock exchange, and
play poker at clubs, and bet on ball games? And where, oh, where, shall
mothers find time for 'bridge' and golf, vaudeville and bargain
counters?"

Bishop Roscoe shook a sprig of daphne at her smiling face, and looked
gravely into her twinkling eyes.

"If, as a privileged guest, I have dared to violate conventional canons
that govern 'table talk,' by obtruding ethics which certainly do not
contribute curry, horse-radish and Tabasco to the conversational menu, I
claim in extenuation of prandial heresy, the obvious fact that such
charming people as surround me to-day are not always in their pews, to
receive and assimilate the homiletic dose distributed once a week at the
ecclesiastical dispensary. Please do not vote me a bore if----"

"Just one moment of parenthesis, Bishop," interrupted Mr. Churchill.
"Possess your soul in patience. This wild craze of greedy, omnivorous,
grudging 'Have Nots' is no new phase of that variety of original sin
that claims something for nothing. Don't forget how long it has been
since Thurlow's snarl: 'Corporations have neither a soul to lose, nor a
body to kick.' Demagogues are persuading the disgruntled of all classes
that they are now kicking the vile, corrupt body of corporations, but an
inevitable reaction will be forced when it becomes evident that the
kicks are aimed at the cornerstone of civic equity--the universal and
inalienable right of every human being to the fruit of his labor, mental
or manual--whether that fruit be dividends of the capitalists, or daily
wages of miners, blacksmiths and ploughmen. This popular creed of
wholesale confiscation which teaches 'Love thy neighbor's goods more
than thy soul,' has reached its ultimatum in arranging even pre-natal
conditions whereby all children shall be born equal--not mentally, not
morally; oh, no! simply financially, in consequence of abolishing the
right of unlimited inheritance. Don't worry. The wave is nearing its
crest, and when it ebbs it will suck out as wreckage the political
charlatans that hope to float into office."

Captain Winstead's handsome black eyes sparkled mischievously.

"Party politics are as unsuitable on this occasion as would be a
shooting jacket worn at a Court function; but, Mrs. Churchill, I am sure
you will forgive me if I dare ask one question: Is not your husband a
Democrat?"

"Captain, your state of serene single blessedness is evidently the
result of fright engendered by cartoon fables depicting the abject
subjugation of husbands, by emancipated wives. Dismiss that termagant
scarecrow, for behold! my undaunted, conjugal Czar speaks for himself."

"Am I a Democrat? You very well know I have always been one, and I am
still clinging with grim, dogged fealty to the few precious fragments of
genuinely orthodox democracy, that survive the blows of disloyal
demagogic platform carpenters who raided recent national conventions.
Americans of all parties need to remember that their first duty as
citizens is allegiance to individual convictions of the morality of
public policies, instead of the existing mischievous custom of servile
submission to the ukase of committee and convention dictators. The
time-honored party name, Democracy, is disgraced by the effort to make
it mother a mongrel brood of socialists, whose wild antics and schemes
of universal confiscation would cause Thomas Jefferson to gasp. If he
could only leave his grave long enough to make one speech, he would
stamp out the clubs profaning his revered name, and scourge the
'populistic' leaders--now strutting under the standard of his stolen
mantle--as Christ emptied the polluted temple. The spectacle of the
so-called 'Democracy' of to-day would so sicken his wise, honest, sturdy
soul that, I verily believe, a spiritual somersault would land him close
to Metternich's axiom: 'All _for_, not _through_, the people.' The
constitutional basic, and virile principles of my dear old Party will
weather this dusty whirlwind of popular delusion, stirred up by ravening
socialist wolves, cloaked in Jeffersonian fleeces; and primitive,
genuine, untainted democracy must come to its own once more."

"Yours is a rosy view, Mr. Churchill, but who will undo the mischief
accomplished by American demagogues who are spurring the people into the
pitch and sulphur pit of rank, Godless communism? What remedy will
avail? Not schools, not colleges, not universities where athletics,
'higher criticism' and 'phonetic spelling' absorb attention to the
exclusion of Christian ethics--now thrown aside as obsolete as the
Ptolemaic system of astronomy. The decadent tendency of our people to
habitually seek excitement and diversion at public places of amusement,
has reduced the once attractive home to a mere economic residential
combination of refectory, dormitory and station for laundry delivery.
Interest in the outside world usurps domestic attachments, loosens
family ties and that interdependence of the members of the hearthstone
circle, that once made genuine, old-fashioned home life so potent a
factor in developing well-balanced, wholesome character, both individual
and national. It seems to me the dear old 'Home, Sweet Home' of other
days is now sadly transformed into the nest of _ennui_ and hysterical
unrest, whence all must flee who determine to 'have a good time'----"

The Bishop's homily was cut short by a sharp cry in the hall, the patter
of running steps,--and into the dining-room darted a red-haired child of
six years, followed by a panting nurse, flushed and trembling, who held
in one hand a discarded small slipper and silk sock.

Tiptoeing on his bare foot, the boy glanced swiftly around the circle,
and sped to the chair where Miss Lindsay sat. With a gurgling laugh he
threw himself against her, and pushing her chair slightly away from the
table, she put one arm around and drew him close to her.

"Rex, go back with Bertha," said his mother, beckoning to the
discomfited nurse who approached the table. Two little arms clung
desperately, and the large blue eyes brimmed with tears, while a sweet,
childish voice pleaded quaveringly:

"Oh, mamma, Miss 'Vota runs away before breakfast, and I must stay with
her! I'm so afraid of that awful sea--and Jonah's whale and the Devil's
fish--and slimy, pollywog, wriggling things that may catch her--and
please, mamma darling, you know she's just my very onliest sweetheart!"

Devota leaned forward, and with the assistance of Captain Winstead
lifted the boy to her lap.

"Mrs. Churchill, please let me keep him. He comes in with the other
sweets, and I beg for him as my one special _bonbon_. Be gracious to me,
will you not? I stand sponsor for his being 'seen and not heard.'"

Mrs. Churchill flushed, but instantly the Bishop raised his hand.

"Governor, veto that maternal sentence of banishment."

Governor Armitage smiled.

"This is the first time I have ever regretted the limitations of my veto
prerogative, but in recognition of Rex's indubitable taste in selection
of his 'onliest sweetheart,' I ask the privilege of signing Miss
Lindsay's petition for retention of her loyal lover."

A tender light shone in his eloquent grey eyes, but they were fixed on
the pretty boy's ruddy locks, rather than the golden head bending
against his long curls.

Mrs. Churchill motioned to the nurse to withdraw, and her lips twitched
as she replied:

"Can your Excellency, and your Reverence, magnanimously ignore the vivid
object lesson, so unexpectedly illustrative of your lectures on
neglected parental discipline? My young rebel would certainly prefer
your inconsistent leniency to my exacting domestic code. In honor of
your pet theory--that, like other distinguished doctrinaires, you both
decline to practise--I must ask you all to drink a toast once offered by
a cynical wit when dining at a table, which was similarly invaded by
marauders from the host's nursery. I propose to drink to 'King Herod.'"

She lifted her wine glass, but each guest laid a hand over theirs, and
in the midst of a chorus of protests the butler approached the Governor
and held out a salver on which lay two telegrams.

"If you please, sir, Mr. Walton says he thinks, sir, you must see these
at once."

Pushing aside his untasted pink ice, Governor Armitage took the yellow
envelopes, rose, bowed to his hostess, and said:

"Pardon my unceremonious desertion."

As he walked away, Mr. Churchill called to him:

"Come back to us for coffee and cigars. We shall wait for you."

He shook his head.

"Thank you; no. I will join you later."

As the ladies withdrew to the drawing-room, Mrs. Churchill paused at the
foot of the stairway, where the sullen nurse lingered.

"Go on, Bertha, and get Rex's bath ready. Miss Lindsay will take him
with her, as she wishes to see Grace and Otto."

Turning to Devota, whose arm encircled the boy's shoulder, she looked
steadily at both.

"Mrs. Churchill, you must do me the favor to set my fears at rest about
Rex. Promise me he shall have no reason to regret that he proved himself
my brave and loyal lover. Recollect I encouraged his rebellion."

The mother twined over one finger a red silk curl, and shook her free
hand warningly.

"You both deserve a sound, old-fashioned, hearty spanking, and I make no
rash promises; but as the pair of you seem equally culpable, I might be
embarrassed in administering justice. Good night, Rex. No, naughty boys
cannot kiss their mothers. Don't forget your prayers, you need them.
Now, Miss Devota, do not let my pretty imps, my tawny cub triad keep you
too long. Perhaps Providence is aiding your mission by calling the
Governor to the library. Better watch his door from the side hall. Good
luck to you, dear, when you beard the lion!"



                              CHAPTER III


A promise having been exacted that the "triad" should accompany her to
the early railway train, Devota went swiftly down a rear staircase to
the side corridor running in front of the library. The door was open,
and from the threshold she looked in. The room was well lighted; the
typewriting machine at rest, the desk covered with official documents,
and from a file at one side a sheaf of telegrams rustled as the air
surged through the window. The sole occupant of the apartment was the
secretary, Mr. Walton, seated before a tray-laden table. He had dined,
and was dallying with a gilded liqueur glass in which iced Chartreuse
sparkled like splintered emeralds.

Doubtless Governor Armitage was the centre of attraction in the
drawing-room, and the auspicious moment had passed beyond recall. A
premonition of defeat impaired her self-control, and shrinking from
observation, Devota walked down the corridor to an arched door, whence a
flight of steps led to the flower garden.

Avoiding the stone terrace in front, where an electric globe shone, she
turned into a winding path bordered on both sides with wheeled boxes
filled with tall pink oleanders in profuse bloom. A mid-summer full moon
lighted every corner of the sloping lawn, bringing into velvety relief
the shadow vignettes traced by leaf and vine across the smoothly clipped
grass, and adding a silvery lustre to beds of lilies that lifted their
white lips to drink from Hersé's cool, dripping palms.

Among Mr. Churchill's valued curios he numbered a quaint sun dial of
black lava, fashioned ages ago in an Ægean isle riven by volcanic
throes.

The gnomon had been destroyed, and erosion by time and storm partly
erased the Greek characters on the base, but doubtless some pagan Le
Nôtre once deemed it an ornamental altar to the great sun god. A prosaic
new gardener at "The Oleanders" found it more useful as a mere pedestal,
whereon he had placed a terra cotta vase filled with luxuriant
nasturtiums that wove over the whole a fringe of scarlet and orange.

Devota stood beside the dial, and silently wrestled with emotions
habitually held in bondage by an iron will. The night had grown very
still; only a faint breath of air now and then pilfered and strewed the
attar of oleanders and lilies, and from rock-ribbed shore rose the
solemn, monotonous ocean hymn, the immemorial recessional chanted by
shattered waves.

An overwhelming sorrow seized and shook the lonely woman standing by the
dial. She threw up her arms, as if in mute appeal to some tragic fate,
and her fingers gripped and wrung each other; then the clenched hands
fell upon the crown and garlands of nasturtiums, and she closed her eyes
to shut out torturing retrospective visions.

[Illustration: _An overwhelming sorrow seized and shook the lonely woman
by the dial_]

The pungent smoke of a cigar suddenly arrested her attention, and over
the sward slowly walked the Governor. As he passed a drooping deodar he
disappeared, but a moment later a great cluster of rose oleander smote
his bared black head, and he stood inhaling its fragrance. His upturned
face showed unusual pallor, and an expression of profound sadness that
failed to soften its dominant sombre sternness. An audible sigh escaped
him, and throwing away his cigar he moved forward toward the terrace.

The sight of the graceful figure immediately in front of him was
evidently an unpleasant surprise, and for an instant he wavered, tempted
to turn aside, then advanced. When quite near he bowed, and without
pausing, would have passed her, but she stepped at once to meet him.

Her voice was steady, though strained, and her words crisp and measured:

"If Governor Armitage can grant me a few moments in which to lay before
him a matter of importance to others, I shall be glad for reasons that
he will readily understand are not personal."

"If it is Miss Lindsay's wish, my time and services are certainly at her
command."

The moon shone full on both faces, and each had suddenly contracted and
hardened. The Governor threw back his head and folded his arms behind
him; Devota's right hand clutched the edge of the dial, and with her
left she drew from beneath the violets in her girdle a slip of telegram
paper.

"Having twice refused to become a member of Mrs. Churchill's house-party
for this week, I was much annoyed, perplexed and pained when most
unexpectedly I found myself reluctantly obliged to come here for a few
hours. In the midst of preparations for my long absence, I was summoned
to a grief-stricken family whose pitiable condition of abject misery and
terror no verbal picture can exaggerate. My old friend, Mrs. Ronald
Clinton, is prostrated by sickness and sorrow, and unable to leave the
room where her baby girl is critically ill, probably dying; while in the
same house the aged mother-in-law raving with brain fever calls for the
son who is sentenced to be hung next week. Neither his wife nor his
mother can visit the distant prison to say good-bye to the doomed man;
In her despair, Amy Clinton, having exhausted all other means of saving
her husband, has seized the fatuous belief that my prayer might possibly
have some effect. It was in vain that I refused to come, assuring her
that I was the very last person to send as envoy to your Excellency, who
had declined her own appeal when she knelt at your feet. She persisted
in her frantic pleadings because of an inexplicable telegram from Ronald
Clinton, telling her the prison chaplain was sure I could secure help
for him. On what grounds he based this preposterous advice Amy was
absolutely ignorant, as neither of us can learn even the name of the
chaplain. Knowing the futility of my mission, I yielded at last to her
frenzied prayers--I drank the cup of bitter humiliation--and as my last
sacrifice on the altar of friendship for a broken-hearted wife and
mother, I surrendered my self-respect, my womanly pride. Read this
message to the wife, and then I feel assured you will realize what a
terrible ordeal has finally forced me into your presence."

She held the telegram toward him, and taking the paper he read it
carefully more than once. Refolding it, he bowed and returned it, but
the locked lips yielded no comment. She tore the slip into shreds, and
her hands trembled as she asked:

"Can your Excellency imagine why this mournful and mortifying task was
laid on my unwilling shoulders, by the chaplain who is an utter
stranger?"

He looked intently into her beautiful eyes, and his voice lowered to a
key of icy sternness.

"If Miss Lindsay desires the name of the chaplain, I can gratify her
wish. Peyton Knox has recently officiated in the prison chapel."

A hot wave crimsoned her cheeks, and she shrank as if from a blow, but
as the color ebbed, she drew herself proudly to her full height.

"As any other total stranger claiming every citizen's right of petition,
I reluctantly intrude upon your leisure, and I appeal to you as a man,
as a gentleman, as the highest official of my State, to grant some mercy
to a doomed criminal. For humanity's sake--oh, Governor Armitage, for
the sake of a ruined and helpless family, I ask--I beg--that you will
pardon Ronald Clinton and save two women from insanity! Be merciful; oh,
be merciful, as every Governor can be if he so wills."

He watched her steadily, and once he drew a long, deep breath as if
sorely oppressed; but her anxiously searching gaze discovered no
relaxation. She suddenly leaned forward, and her exquisitely curved lips
quivered:

"You will not deny my prayer! You will pardon Ronald?"

Slowly he shook his head.

"Miss Lindsay, I shall never pardon him. At all costs I must be
absolutely just."

"You will not spare his life? when your office empowers you to set him
free? You cruelly elect to order his wife widowed, and his babes
disgraced!"

"Should I forget the widow and fatherless little ones of Norman Hewitt
whom Ronald Clinton deliberately and brutally murdered? The wrongs of
the dead are too often buried with him, and sickly sympathy--posing as
philanthropic Christian clemency--is lavished on branded Cains set free
to defy human and divine law, and repeat crimes that should have
forfeited their blackened lives."

"Your Excellency's standard of justice is more righteous than that of
Abel's God, Who instead of slaying his murderer granted him long life in
which to purify his guilty soul and mend his ways!"

"Disclaiming any approach to irreverence, permit me to remind you that
the experiment of pardon was not repeated; and the severest penal code
ever compiled came directly from the Divine lawgiver, whose chosen
people demanded 'a life for a life.'"

"Hanging poor Amy's husband could not compensate Mrs. Hewitt for the
loss of hers. The exaction of blood tax is a legal survival of savagery.
Justice is not the sole divine attribute--mercy is coordinate. Try to
remember that Talmudic prayer of Jehovah: 'Be it my will that my mercy
overpower my justice!' As Governor, the issue of life or death lies in
the hollow of your hand, and for the last time I beg of you not to
listen to the barbarous prompting of a cruel revenge. Think of the awful
responsibility of hurling an unprepared soul into eternity. Think of the
blessed relief that only you can give to tortured, despairing human
hearts who can look to no one but you for succor."

"I have never pardoned a convicted criminal, and I never will. I cannot
conscientiously exercise the 'gubernatorial prerogative' of riding
roughshod over the mature, deliberate verdict of twelve sane,
dispassionate men empowered to sift all testimony, and carefully guard
for their guidance only indubitable evidence. The sanctity of jury
verdicts has been so frequently violated by reckless use of pardoning
power, that the value of blood-bought jury trial has dwindled into a
mere mockery, an arena for spectacular professional jugglers. Ample
legal machinery has long been provided for the rehearing and unbiased
review of all criminal cases, whenever new witnesses or new and vital
facts cast any doubt on the wisdom or justice of judge and jury. Courts
of appeal and review should have power to correct wrongs that juries
sometimes inflict upon the innocent, but the preposterous assumption of
infallible prescience and 'altruistic clemency' by a President or a
Governor is an ideal aspiration that I do not permit myself to indulge.
This popular form of annulling jury verdicts is a fatal blow at the very
foundation of penal jurisprudence; and the exasperating quibbles of
subtle attorneys--the systematically delayed execution of verdicts and
the too frequent veto of death sentences--all contribute to the
deplorable increase of lynching. Pardon my taxing your patience for this
enumeration of my reasons for preferring to leave justice to competent
and unprejudiced courts."

She threw out one hand with a repellent gesture.

"Capital punishment is merely revengeful, judicial murder, utterly
futile as a corrective method. Taking a second human life avails nothing
as requital for the destruction of the first victim. It is indefensible
cruelty in an age pluming itself on higher humanitarian standards."

"Miss Lindsay, legal punitive statutes are not designed as retaliatory
sacrifices to revenge, but as deterrents to crime, simply because dread
of speedy retribution is the most powerful motive that can restrain the
criminal masses. Maudlin sentimentality that just now inveighs against
execution of judicial penal decrees, is a danger signal that points to
public degeneracy in a people who regard mawkish sympathy with culprits
as an advanced phase of civilization; and to whom the condonation of
crime is more humanitarian than its extirpation."

His slowly uttered words rang with the measured precision of a
sculptor's chisel upon stone, and the inquisitorial eyes, no longer
sombre, now glowed as they looked steadily into hers. For an instant a
spasm of keen pain shivered the composure of her haughty face, and her
voice rose into a bitter, half-strangled cry:

"No mercy from you! I might as well pray to that growling sea yonder,
watching hungrily for the next drowning wretch. I knew mine was a fool's
errand, yet pity conquered repugnance, and it seemed so incredible, so
monstrous that any man could coolly point to the gallows as sole answer
to the heart-rending petition of an almost frantic family."

He pressed a hand over his brow, pushed back the thick, close-cut black
hair, and after a moment he answered in an altered tone of profound and
tender regret:

"My fellow monster, the sea, is spared after-pangs that are my portion.
Do you imagine that any argument could avail to change my convictions of
official duty, when in a fiery ordeal I felt compelled to deny the
wailing wife who brought her pretty little ones to cry in their father's
behalf? Try to realize what must have been the feelings of a man not
wholly petrified, when he lifted from his office floor the kneeling form
of an aged, white-haired woman who could only gasp between sobs: 'As you
hope for mercy when your naked soul fronts God on His judgment seat,
spare my son's life! Remember the mother who cradled you in her
arms--for her sake, for God's sake, be merciful to me--save my boy from
the gallows.' Miss Lindsay, the terrible curse is that the wages of sin
are paid too often to the helpless innocent. I could not pardon Ronald
Clinton, whose crime was deliberately planned murder, but learning of
illness in his family, I sent a telegram at four o'clock to-day staying
the execution of his sentence until restoration to health permits his
mother and wife to spend a day with him in prison. Sometimes when I long
for rest, the vision of those heart-broken women and two lovely children
clinging to my knees, robs me of sleep."

"You spared him only long enough to say good-bye to those who, if
possible, would die to save him! Is that deemed a mercy--or refinement
of cruelty? Your telegram was sent at four o'clock? If news of the
reprieve had only arrived before I left my house, this needless journey
would have been averted; I should have been spared this keen humiliation
on the eve of quitting a country I shall probably see no more."

From a silvered sea rose the metrical rippling of waves crooning a
"_berceuse_" to drowsy lands cradled by foam-laced surf. For a moment
silence had followed the woman's words, and in that brief pause Governor
Armitage's luminous, watchful eyes noted a swift and subtle change. The
face whitened, hardened to its usual rigid coldness; all trace of
emotion vanished as utterly as the light from an extinguished lamp in
some lovely transparent globe, and the strained expression of her
unflinching eyes gave place to one of baffling, inflexible quietude; the
habitual mask temporarily loosened, was readjusted.

When she spoke her clear, even tone showed no hint of cadence that had
sunk it to passionate protest.

"In ending an interview intolerably repugnant to my womanly instincts,
permit me to say that, although conspicuously futile as regards the sole
object of this visit to Mrs. Churchill, I shall avail myself of the
unexpected opportunity to offer you an apology for the grievous wrong of
which I was once guilty. Simple justice demands this admission, and in
addition I frankly express my pleasure in finding that my judgment was
wholly erroneous. I tender sincere congratulations that your vindication
was so triumphant; and I bid your Excellency good-night."

As she turned away he threw out a detaining hand.

"Understanding fully what such gracious words cost you, I value them
correspondingly, and hope my thanks will be as acceptable as your
apology. Will you pardon me if I venture to ask, if you had known that
Peyton Knox was the chaplain who dictated the prison telegram, would
your sympathy for poor Clinton's family have sufficed to bring you into
my presence?"

"Certainly not."

"You had regained sufficient faith in my integrity to believe that in
matters involving conscientious scruples, I should prove callous even to
Miss Lindsay's appeals?"

The starry glint in his eyes brightened, and a bitter smile curled his
lips. She met his gaze with cool, proud calmness.

"The number of mangled offerings Governor Armitage has long laid before
the pet fetich he labels 'Duty,' allows no margin for any one to doubt
that the sacrificial axe needs no whetting for the next victim on the
official scaffold. That I was predestined to defeat I knew as well
before I came as now, but the sanctity of one's motive can sometimes
nerve one to drain even a loathsome draught."

Only a few feet of sward separated them, and while she stood apparently
as devoid of emotion as the sun dial, he knew from the quivering of the
diamonds in the cross, and the fiery flashes of the opals rising and
falling at her throat that her heart throbbed fiercely.

"Have you chanced to remember the day of the month, and that it is also
the thirteenth annual anniversary?"

"Yes, the thirteenth. Barring all superstition, which of course you
scout, how could this disagreeable meeting have failed to be unlucky? It
is true I have passed my springtime, but decrepitude has not yet
attacked my memory, and it warns me now that I have unduly trespassed on
your Excellency's time."

She bowed, stooped to gather up the train of heliotrope chiffon, and
moved in the direction of the house, but he stepped before her.

"One moment, Miss Lindsay. May I ask why you refused to marry Hoyte
Kingdon?"

"Refused to marry him? Can you think it possible any sane woman could be
so hopelessly fatuous as to decline an offer of his hand, of his exalted
position? How incredible the suggestion that an opportunity of marriage
so brilliant would not have been seized with avidity, by even the most
ambitious of husband hunters!"

"Hoyte told me of his persistent but unsuccessful effort to win your
affection."

A defiant gleam leaped into her eyes as she stood at bay, and in the
brilliant moonlight the coil of opals around her lovely neck seemed a
writhing serpent of flame.

"Though women are satirized as unworthy custodians of their suitor's
confidential proposals, it appears that manly friends have no
compunction in violating the seal of secrecy. Why did I fail to marry
Hoyte Kingdon? Since your Excellency indulges such sympathetic
solicitude in his behalf, it will comfort you to know that I sometimes
share your wonder at my lack of wisdom in ignoring a prize coveted by
many others. I respected Hoyte, admired his handsome personality, his
very brilliant talent, his diplomatic career; and certainly the position
he occupied as ambassador at Court was alluring to my ambition and
tempting in various aspects. I liked him immensely, and I wished very
much to love him, but despite my heroic efforts I could not find him
essential to my happiness. Is it not unfortunate that one cannot
successfully whistle love to come, as one signals to a terrier or a
roaming canary? Since the days of poor Psyche elusive love plays
hide-and-seek in devious and baffling ways. Hoyte now has a beautiful
and charming wife who makes him supremely happy and graces the
conspicuous diplomatic circle in which he has attained the highest
honors. We expect to spend Christmas with Hoyte and his wife after our
return from Bangkok. I am sure his guardian angel was alert when he
barred my heart against Ambassador Kingdon's magnetism."

Leaning forward, the Governor's eyes seemed to search her soul, and his
voice thrilled like a viol's chord.

"Did no tender, regretful memory hold fast the lock that refused to
yield?"

For an instant she put her hand upon the jewelled collar to loosen some
stricture that caught her throat, but her tone was firm, her eyes fixed
on his.

"Governor Armitage ought to know that women are not retrospective, that
like other butterflies the present suffices and we flee from 'regret' as
the real vampire that robs us of bloom and is so detrimental to curves
of beauty. We shrink from dead years--spectre-peopled--as one shuns
midnight prowls in a cemetery where graves may suddenly yawn over
fleshless horrors."

"Across the chasm of thirteen years you still prefer to make no signal
of reconciliation?"

"Scourged by a sense of justice quite as keen as your own, I have
apologized for a great wrong you once suffered at my hands. I owed you
that acknowledgment, and now the debt is cancelled fully, and the ghost
of that one regret is eternally at rest since I have the gratifying
assurance that the harsh misjudgment of an impulsive girl had no power
to spoil your life, or retard your eminently successful career."

"Failure in love affairs can 'spoil' no lives of those who maintain
consciousness of moral rectitude, and a justifiable self-respect; but
occasionally such keen disappointments prove beneficent tonics in
teaching a wise discrimination between sham and reality, shadow and
substance. Sooner or later men and probably women learn that the only
human tie that even death cannot dissolve, the one reliable chain that
no treacherous weak link can impair--is that binding the mother's heart
to her child. In desperately bitter trials mother-love is the
strengthening angel that sustains, and when the world turned its back
upon me, my blessed mother was my sole solace and defender."

"Because knowing something of the truth she could not doubt. To her at
least you had given facts withheld even from----"

"Pardon me. She was as absolutely ignorant as you, as all others who
accused me. When that whirlwind of slander overwhelmed me I told her
only what I made known to the woman who was my betrothed. When with
tears streaming over her face she took me in her arms and asked: 'My
boy, are you guilty?' I could say only that I was entirely innocent, but
bound by a solemn oath never to betray facts committed to me under seal
of professional confidence; facts that involved two broken-hearted women
and a noble old man, my friend in fatherless, needy boyhood whom I had
sworn to shield from disgrace and ruin. My mother lifted my face, looked
steadily into my eyes and raised one hand: 'My son, you swear to me on
your honor as a gentleman, on the honor of my boy Royal, that this is
true--that you would be a traitor to divulge the facts proving your
innocence?' She kissed me when that oath passed my lips, and from that
hour she abstained from all questioning; she clung tenderly to me,
believing in my innocence as she believed in the existence of her God.
You had the same assurance, all that I could honorably give. Mother-love
held through all assaults, no link gave way;--but yours? The chain
snapped at the first taut strain--crumbled like sand."

She had grown very white, and unconsciously her fingers lifted the
quivering fiery stones that bound her throbbing throat.

"Let the ashes of long dead injuries rest over all that once disquieted
you. If you had only trusted me I should have held the secret inviolate
even to the gates of death."

"The shameful secret was not mine to divulge. 'Trusted you?' I trusted
you to trust the honor of the man you had promised to make your husband.
When on my knees I swore to you that my innocence, temporarily
discredited, must inevitably be established some day by those for whose
sins I was branded, do you recollect quite all you gave me in return?
That thirteenth of July you hurled my ring at my feet, denounced me as a
despicable hypocrite--as a leper unfit to defile your presence; you
denied me even the right of acquaintanceship, vehemently forbade the
privilege of recognizing you by word or sign. Even then I partly forgave
your frantic, passionately bitter accusation, because I realized how
revolting to your pure, womanly instincts was the grievous slander. You
cast me out of your life as a disgraced villain who had forfeited all
right to associate with gentlemen. No alternative was mine; I submitted
to your cruel edict. Very soon the pall that seemed to blot out all hope
for me, was suddenly and strangely lifted by that tragic deathbed
revelation which cleared me of all blame, and left no shadow to sully my
name. I stepped back to the plane of honorable manhood. Since the day of
that complete vindication, twelve long years have passed. I waited, not
patiently, but I waited watching for some message, some signal from the
woman who had promised to become my wife, and who owed me a renewal of
confidence. Knowing me innocent you have elected to keep me under ban."

The concentrated bitterness of his deliberately uttered indictment, and
the merciless searchlight in his eyes had no power to shiver the pallid
rigidity of the face proudly uplifted.

"Having forfeited all claim to your kind or friendly remembrance, how
could you, who know my nature, expect me to invite intolerable
humiliation from your rejection of any overture I offered that involved
confession of wrong? I had no right to assume that a message from me
would be acceptable, and as far as I knew, your life was so serene and
satisfying that any echo thirteen years old would prove only an
intrusive discord. Our alienation was complete and you carefully shunned
any opportunity to end it."

"Had you allowed me the liberty of approach? I obeyed your command, I
followed the line you dictated, I rigidly refrained from word or letter
and I accorded you the silence you demanded. My mother urged me to
venture some overture for reconciliation, and just before her death I
found a letter she had addressed to you in my behalf. Self-respect
forced me to expostulate, and at her bedside I burned that letter. At
least I am entitled to your thanks that in no degree have I attempted to
invade the territory, from which I was so ignominiously ejected."

"In saying good-night, and also an eternal good-bye, I beg your
Excellency's acceptance of my thorough appreciation of, and thanks for
your courteous and consistent compliance with my wishes."

She turned away quickly, but his hand fell upon her shoulder.

"Devota! Devota!"

"Governor Armitage exceeds even his official rights, and usurps a
privilege I grant no man. Do not touch me.

He shook her gently as one might a wayward child, and her haughty repose
could no longer defy the tender, glowing eyes so close to her own.

"How much longer do you intend to impale us both on the iron cross of
your cruel, despotic pride? Since the responsibility for our meeting
here is yours, not mine, I will speak at last, and you shall listen. For
a time, after you forsook me, I bore up bravely, sustained by the belief
that my banishment was temporary, because I felt assured that
vindication, though tardy, was inevitable. Sooner than I dared to hope
that woful tragedy removed all suspicion from me, lifted me back at once
to the position of which my slanderers had robbed me, and I exulted in
the anticipation of our speedy reunion; watched the hour of every mail
delivery. After you went abroad the second time I realized that my doom
was permanent, that your proud obstinacy would prevent you from ever
lifting a finger to recall me, and then I grew desperately bitter. About
six years ago I was tempted to find some relief by a change of
conditions that were reducing me to callous cynicism. I set to work
diligently to cultivate an affection for a very lovely woman I thought
it possible I might win by persistent devotion. I longed to forget, to
supplant you, to cast you out of my life as completely as you had exiled
me; but despite all efforts when I tried to picture her as mistress of
my home, as sharing my name, my heart revolted. Your haunting face rose
before me, your dear, beautiful hands seemed to steal into mine as in
the days when they belonged to me. I abandoned such futile struggles and
accepted the lonely lot that could not be averted. So long as you
remained Miss Lindsay I had the right to recall all that was so precious
thirteen years ago. Then came the supreme trial; it was the general
opinion of your social world that Kingdon had won his suit, and that the
day of his marriage was not distant. I knew he was worthy, was the most
admired and envied man in our State, and it seemed incredible you should
not accept the glittering future he offered. You cannot realize the
maddening torture that seizes a man, when he thinks that the one woman
in all the world who holds his heart in the hollow of her hand will be
clasped in the arms of another entitled to call her his wife! So keen
was my suffering that I think the damned would not have changed places
with me. Then Kingdon suddenly altered the date of sailing, and in
bidding me good-bye told me you had twice rejected him. Business had
called me to your city, and after his farewell visit that night I could
not bear the noise and bustle of the hotel. I walked about the parks and
up and down the streets, and though the sleet was falling I wandered to
the avenue where your great stone house towers above all others.
Standing on the pavement in front I listened to the city clock clanging
two A.M. A light shone from an upper window; elsewhere all was dark.
Only granite walls shut me from sight of one whose precious lips had
felt the touch of mine. As I stood in the pelting sleet, over the
silence of the night I heard a sound that seemed to come from the
opening heavens. An organ roll thrilling that 'Adagio' no fingers but
yours had ever adequately interpreted to me. Our Adagio--yours and
mine--sanctified by blessed associations with the hallowed days of our
betrothal. As I listened, the dreary lost years rolled away as a black
curtain, and in the limelight of memory I saw again all our surroundings
on that last happy evening when you played for me; the misty purple of
mountain heights, the ferny gorges where scarlet rhododendrons flared
their torches, the clustering honeysuckle whose chalices swung in the
breeze, and you--my promised bride--seated at the piano, the sunset glow
burnishing your hair, your white dress and floating blue ribbons. I knew
your touch; the passionately tender, closing chords drifted like a
whisper from our past, like an answer from your soul to the call of
mine, and it told me why Kingdon could never claim you. Ah! tears
gathered, dripped; happy tears. I knew then you could not forget, and
since that night I have found grim comfort in the belief that only your
inexorable, merciless pride stood between us. Sweetheart of my young
manhood, darling of my lonely, weary old heart, will you crucify us both
until death ends all?"

She had withdrawn from his detaining hand, shrinking back to the support
of the dial, but the surging torrent of his words stirred frozen depths
never before beyond control. Tears glittered in her eyes, and her lips
fluttered like wind-swept rose leaves.

"You believe my pride separates us now? No, no; not pride. Can't you
understand that my bitter humiliation is the barrier that shuts me out?
The lofty distinction you have attained is the dividing wall I could
never scale. In the dark days of calumny I forsook you; when most you
needed loyalty I refused to share your disgrace. Now, as the popular
idol, at whose feet the noblest public tributes are laid, you must
accept my confession that I am not worthy to share your honors. I was
weighed in the balance and found wofully wanting. The verdict of the
scales thirteen years ago cannot be reversed by an eternity of regrets."

"Hush, hush! we bury the past. Twice at the polls the people gave me
their confidence, and gratefully I hold the solemn responsibility as a
precious trust to be sacredly guarded, but public applause is starving
diet to a hungry heart. My darling, between you and me remains no
question of confession or absolution, and to-night blots out those
terribly bitter years. It is my right to readjust the balance; in one
scale I lay all civic honors, the other holds my life-long Sweetheart
outweighing every other earthly treasure. I ask at your hands the one
blessing lacking in my career. Give me, oh, give me at last the only
real crown that can glorify a man's life--the tender love of a faithful,
pure wife! I will no longer be denied."

He stepped closer, took her cold, quivering hands in his warm palms, and
she hid her face against his arm.

[Illustration: "_Roy--my own Roy._"]

"You have suffered from my frantic accusations on that dreadful July
day, but you will never understand the intolerable bitterness of my
punishment, scourged all these dreary, mournful years by keen, torturing
self-reproach. Roy--my own Roy--I am not worthy, but the world is empty
and desolate for me without the one love of my life."



                           Transcriber Notes:

Passages in italics were indicated by _underscores_.

Small caps were replaced with ALL CAPS.

Throughout the document, the oe ligature was replaced with "oe".

Throughout the dialogues, there were words used to mimic accents of the
speakers. Those words were retained as-is.

The illustrations have been moved so that they do not break up
paragraphs and so that they are next to the text they illustrate. Thus
the page number of the illustration might not match the page number in
the List of Illustrations, and the order of illustrations may not be the
same in the List of Illustrations and in the book.

Errors in punctuation and inconsistent hyphenation were not corrected
unless otherwise noted.





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Devota" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

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



Home