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Title: The Adventures of a Modest Man
Author: Chambers, Robert W. (Robert William), 1865-1933
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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[Illustration: Book Cover]






Works of Robert W. Chambers

       *       *       *       *       *

  The Adventures of a Modest Man
  Ailsa Paige
  The Danger Mark
  Special Messenger
  The Firing Line
  The Younger Set
  The Fighting Chance
  Some Ladies in Haste
  The Tree of Heaven
  The Tracer of Lost Persons
  A Young Man in a Hurry
  Maids of Paradise
  Ashes of Empire
  The Red Republic
  The Green Mouse
  The Reckoning
  The Maid-at-Arms
  The Haunts of Men
  The Mystery of Choice
  The Cambric Mask
  The Maker of Moons
  The King in Yellow
  In Search of the Unknown
  The Conspirators
  A King and a Few Dukes
  In the Quarter

       *       *       *       *       *

For Children

  Hide and Seek in Forest-Land


COPYRIGHT, 1900, 1911, BY

       *       *       *       *       *

Copyright, 1904, by Harper & Brothers
Copyright, 1904, 1905, 1910, by The Curtis Publishing Company






[Illustration: "'I realised that I was going to kiss her if she didn't
move.... And--she didn't.'"--[Page 276.]]


                  This volume packed with bric-à-brac
                    I offer you with my affection,--
                  The story halts, the rhymes are slack--
                    Poor stuff to add to your collection.
                      Gems you possess from ages back:
                      It is the modern junk you lack.

  We three once moused through marble halls,
    Immersed in Art and deep dejection,
  Mid golden thrones and choir-stalls
    And gems beyond my recollection--
      Yet soft!--my memory recalls
      Red labels pasted on the walls!

                  And so, perhaps, _my_ bric-à-brac
                    May pass the test of your inspection;
                  Perhaps you will not send it back,
                    But place it--if you've no objection--
                      Under some nick-nack laden rack
                      Where platters dangle on a tack.

  So if you'll take this book from me
    And hide it in your cupboards laden
  Beside some Dresden filigree
    And frivolously fetching maiden--
      Who knows?--that Dresden maid may see
      My book--and read it through pardie!

                                R. W. C.




  "Senilis stultitia quae deliratio appellari
  solet, senum levium est, non omnium."




  CHAPTER                                                           PAGE
            POT OF BLACK PAINT                                         1
    III. TROUBLE FOR TWO                                              25
            PRACTICES STYLE                                           42
      V. DREAMLAND                                                    58
     VI. SOUL AND BODY                                                74
    VII. THE BITER, THE BITTEN, AND THE UN-BITTEN                     85
   VIII. A MATTER OF PRONUNCIATION                                    98
     IX. FATE                                                        104
      X. CHANCE                                                      117
     XI. DESTINY                                                     129
    XII. IN WHICH A MODEST MAN MAUNDERS                              143
   XIII. A CHANCE ACQUAINTANCE                                       154
    XIV. A STATE OF MIND                                             168
     XV. FLOTSAM AND JETSAM                                          181
            HIMSELF A CHUMP                                          208
  XVIII. THE MASTER KNOT OF HUMAN FATE                               221
    XIX. THE TIME AND THE PLACE                                      234
     XX. DOWN THE SEINE                                              242
    XXI. IN A BELGIAN GARDEN                                         269
   XXII. A YOUTHFUL PATRIOT                                          287
  XXIII. ON THE WALL                                                 292
   XXIV. A JOURNEY TO THE MOON                                       303
    XXV. THE ARMY OF PARIS                                           316




  "'I realised that I was going to kiss her if she didn't
      move.... And--she didn't'"                          _Frontispiece_
  "'Give up my dead!' she whispered. 'Give up my dead!'"              40
  "Christmas Eve she knelt, crying, before the pedestal"              80
  "'Only one person in the world can ever matter to me--now'"        140
  "Beyond, rocking wildly in a gilded boat, sat two people and a
      placid swan"                                                   190
  "'I--I don't know,' she stammered; 'my shoe seems tied to yours'"  214



  _There is a little flow-urr_
  _In our yard it does grow_
  _Where many a happy hou-urr_
  _I watch our rooster crow;_
  _While clothes hang on the clothes-line_
  _And plowing has began_
  --_And the name they call this lit-tul vine_
  _Is just "Old Man."_

      _Old Man, Old Man_
  _A-growing in our yard,_
  _Every spring a-coming up_
  _While yet the ground is har-rrd;_
  _Pottering 'round the chickens' pan,_
  _Creeping low and slow,_
  _And why they call it Old Man_
  _I never asked to know._
  _I never want to know._

  _Crawling through the chick-weed,_
  _Dragging through the quack,_
  _Pussly, tansy, tick-weed_
  _Almost break his back._
  _Catnip, cockle, dock prevent_
  _His travelling all they can,_
  _But still he goes the ways he's went,_
  _Poor Old Man!_

      _Old Man, Old Man,_
  _What's the use of you?_
  _No one wants to see you, like_
  _As if you hadn't grew._
  _You ain't no good to nothing_
  _So far as I can see,_
  _Unless some maiden fair will sing_
  _These lines I've wrote to thee._
  _And sing 'em soft to me._

      _Some maiden fa-hair_
  _With_ { _ra-haven_  } _hair_
         { _go-holden_ }
  _Will si-hing this so-hong_
    _To me-hee-ee!_




"Hello, old man!" he began.

"Gillian," I said, "don't call me 'Old Man.' At twenty, it flattered me;
at thirty, it was all right; at forty, I suspected _double entendre_;
and now I don't like it."

"Of course, if you feel that way," he protested, smiling.

"Well, I do, dammit!"--the last a German phrase. I am rather strong on

Now another thing that is irritating-- I've got ahead of my story,
partly, perhaps, because I hesitate to come to the point.

For I have a certain delicacy in admitting that my second visit abroad,
after twenty years, was due to a pig. So now that the secret is out--the
pig also--I'll begin properly.

       *       *       *       *       *

I purchased the porker at a Long Island cattle show; why, I don't know,
except that my neighbor, Gillian Schuyler Van Dieman, put me up to it.

We are an inoffensive community maintaining a hunt club and the
traditions of a by-gone generation. To the latter our children refuse to

Our houses are what are popularly known as "fine old Colonial mansions."
They were built recently. So was the pig. You see, I can never get away
from that pig, although--but the paradox might injure the story. It has
sufficiently injured me--the pig and the story, both.

The architecture of the pig was a kind of degenerate Chippendale,
modified by Louis XVI and traces of Bavarian baroque. And his squeal
resembled the atmospheric preliminaries for a Texas norther.

Van Dieman said I ought to buy him. I bought him. My men built him a
chaste bower to leeward of an edifice dedicated to cows.

Here I sometimes came to contemplate him while my horse was being

That particular morning, when Van Dieman saluted me so suspiciously at
the country club, I had been gazing at the pig.

And now, as we settled down to our morning game of chess, I said:

"Van, that pig of mine seems to be in nowise remarkable. Why the devil
do you suppose I bought him?"

"How do I know?"

"You ought to. You suggested that I buy him. Why did you?"

"To see whether you would."

I said rather warmly: "Did you think me weak-minded enough to do
whatever you suggested?"

"The fact remains that you did," he said calmly, pushing the king's
knight to queen's bishop six.

"Did what?" I snapped.

"What you didn't really want to do."

"Buy the pig?"


I thought a moment, took a pawn with satisfaction, considered.

"Van," I said, "why do you suppose I bought that pig?"


"A man doesn't buy pigs to escape from _ennui_!"

"You can't predict what a man will do to escape it," he said, smiling.
"The trouble with you is that you're been here too long; you're in a
rut; you're gone stale. Year in, year out, you do the same things in the
same way, rise at the same time, retire at the same hour, see the same
people, drive, motor, ride, potter about your lawns and gardens, come
here to the club--and it's enough to petrify anybody's intellect."

"Do you mean to say that _mine_----"

"Partly. Don't get mad. No man who lives year after year in a Long
Island community could escape it. What you need is to go abroad. What
you require is a good dose of Paris."

"For twenty odd years I have avoided Paris," I said, restlessly. "Why
should I go back there?"

"Haven't you been there in twenty years?"



"Well, for one thing, to avoid meeting the entire United States."

"All right," said Van Dieman, "if you want to become an old uncle
foozle, continue to take root in Long Island." He announced mate in two
moves. After I had silently conceded it, he leaned back in his chair and
lighted a cigarette.

"It's my opinion," he said, "that you've already gone too stale to take
care of your own pig."

Even years of intimacy scarcely justified this.

"When the day comes," said I, "that I find myself no longer competent to
look after my own affairs, I'll take your advice and get out of Long

He looked up with a smile. "Suppose somebody stole that pig, for

"They couldn't."

"Suppose they did, under your very nose."

"If anything happens to that pig," I said--"anything untoward, due to
any negligence or stupidity of mine, I'll admit that I need waking
up.... Now get that pig if you can!"

"Will you promise to go to Paris for a jolly little jaunt if anything
does happen to your pig?" he asked.

"Why the devil do _you_ want _me_ to go to Paris?"

"Do you good, intellectually."

Then I got mad.

"Van," I said, "if anybody can get that pig away from me, I'll do
anything you suggest for the next six months."

"_À nous deux, alors!_" he said. He speaks French too fast for me to
translate. It's a foolish way to talk a foreign language. But he has
never yet been able to put it over me.

"_À la guerre comme à la guerre_," I replied carelessly. It's a phrase
one can use in reply to any remark that was ever uttered in French. I
use it constantly.

       *       *       *       *       *

That afternoon I went and took a good look at my pig. Later, as I was
walking on the main street of Oyster Bay, a man touched his hat and
asked me for a job. Instantly it occurred to me to hire him as night
watchman for the pig. He had excellent references, and his countenance
expressed a capacity for honest and faithful service. That night before
I went to bed, I walked around to the sty. My man was there on duty.

"That," thought I, "will hold Van Dieman for a while."

When my daughters had retired and all the servants were abed, I did a
thing I have not done in years--not since I was a freshman at Harvard: I
sat up with my pipe and an unexpurged translation of Henry James until
nearly eleven o'clock. However, by midnight I was asleep.

It was full starlight when I awoke and jumped softly out of bed.
Somebody was tapping at the front door. I put on a dressing-gown and
slippers and waited; but no servants were aroused by the persistent

After a moment I went to the window, raised it gently and looked out. A
farmer with a lantern stood below.

"Say, squire," he said, when he beheld my head, "I guess I'll have to
ask for help. I'm on my way to market and my pig broke loose and I can't
ketch him nohow."

"Hush!" I whispered; "I'll come down."

Very cautiously I unbarred the front door and stepped out into the
lovely April starlight. In the road beyond my hedge stood a farm-wagon
containing an empty crate. Near it moved the farmer, and just beyond his
outstretched hands sported a playful pig. He was a black pig. Mine was
white. Besides I went around to the pen and saw, in the darkness, my
Oyster Bay retainer still on guard. So, it being a genuine case, I
returned to the road.

The farmer's dilemma touched me. What in the world was so utterly
hopeless to pursue, unaided, as a coy pig at midnight.

"If you will just stand there, squire, and sorter spread out your
skirts, I'll git him in a jiffy," said the panting farmer.

I did as I was bidden. The farmer approached; the pig pranced between
his legs.

"By gum!" exclaimed the protected of Ceres.

But, after half an hour, the pig became over-confident, and the tiller
of phosphites seized him and bore him, shrieking, to the wooden crate in
the wagon, there depositing him, fastening the door, and climbing into
his seat with warm thanks to me for my aid.

I told the Brother to the Ox that he was welcome. Then, with heart
serenely warmed by brotherly love and a knowledge of my own
condescension, I retired to sleep soundly until Higgins came to shave me
at eight o'clock next morning.

"Beg pardon, sir," said Higgins, stirring his lather as I returned from
the bath to submit my chin to his razor--"beg pardon, sir, but--but the
pig, sir----"

"What pig?" I asked sharply. Had Higgins beheld me pursuing that
midnight porker? And if he had, was he going to tell about it?

"What pig, sir? Why, THE pig, sir."

"I do not understand you, Higgins," I said coldly.

"Beg pardon, sir, but Miss Alida asked me to tell you, that the pig----"

"WHAT PIG?" I repeated exasperated.

"Why--why--OURS, sir."

I turned to stare at him. "MY pig?" I asked.

"Yes, sir--he's gone, sir----"

"Gone!" I thundered.

"Stolen, sir, out o' the pen last night."

Stunned, I could only stare at Higgins. Stolen? My pig? Last night?

"Some one," said Higgins, "went and opened that lovely fancy sty, sir;
and the pig he bolted. It takes a handy thief to stop and steal a pig,
sir. There must ha' been two on 'em to catch that pig!"

"Where's that miserable ruffian I hired to watch the sty?" I demanded

"He has gone back to work for Mr. Van Dieman, sir. His hands was all
over black paint, and I see him a-wipin' of 'em onto your white picket

The calmness of despair came over me. I saw it, now. I had been called
out of bed to help catch my own pig. For nearly half an hour I had
dodged about there in front of my own house, too stupid to suspect, too
stupid even to recognize my own pig in the disguised and capricious
porker shying and caracolling about in the moonlight. Good heavens! Van
Dieman was right. A man who helps to steal his own pig is fit for
nothing but Paris or a sanitarium.

"Shave me speedily, Higgins," I said. "I am not very well, and it is
difficult for me to preserve sufficient composure to sit still. And,
Higgins, it is not at all necessary for you to refer to that pig
hereafter. You understand? Very well. Go to the telephone and call up
the Cunard office."

Presently I was in communication with Bowling Green.

That morning in the breakfast-room, when I had kissed my daughter Alida,
aged eighteen, and my daughter Dulcima, aged nineteen, the younger said:
"Papa, do you know that our pig has been stolen?"

"Alida," I replied, "I myself disposed of him"--which was the dreadful

"You sold him?" asked Dulcima in surprise.

"N--not exactly. These grape-fruit are too sour!"

"You gave him away?" inquired Alida.

"Yes--after a fashion. Is this the same coffee we have been using? It
has a peculiar----"

"Who did you give him to?" persisted my younger child.


"What man?"

"Nobody you know, child."


"Stop!" said I firmly. "It is a subject too complicated to discuss."

"Oh, pooh!" said Dulcima; "everybody discusses everything in Oyster Bay.
And besides I want to know----"

"About the pig!" broke in Alida.

"And that man to whom you gave the pig----"

"Alida," said I, with misleading mildness, "how would you like to go to

"Oh! papa----"

"And you, Dulcima?"

"Darling papa!"

"When?" cried Alida.

"Wednesday," I replied with false urbanity.

"Oh! The darling!" they cried in rapture, and made toward me.

"Wait!" I said with a hideous smile. "We have not yet left Sandy Hook!
And I solemnly promise you both that if either of you ever again ask me
one question concerning that pig--nay, if you so much as look askance at
me over the breakfast bacon--neither you nor I will ever leave Sandy
Hook alive!"

They have kept their promises--or I should never have trodden the deck
of the _S. S. Cambodia_, the pride of the great Cunard Line, with my
daughter Dulcima on one side and my daughter Alida on the other side of
me, and my old friend Van Dieman waving me adieu from a crowded pier,
where hundreds of handkerchiefs flutter in the breeze.

"_Au revoir et bon voyage!_" he called up to me.

"_Toujours la politesse_," I muttered, nodding sagely.

"That was a funny reply to make, papa," said Dulcima.

"Not at all," I replied, with animation; "to know a language is to know
when to use its idioms." They both looked a little blank, but continued
to wave their handkerchiefs.

"_À bien-tôt!_" called Alida softly, as the towering black sides of the
steamer slipped along the wooden wharf.

Van Dieman raised his hat on the pier below, and answered: "_À bien-tôt?
C'est la mort, jusqu'à bien-tôt! Donc, vîve la vie, Mademoiselle!_"

"There is no necessity in chattering like a Frenchman when you talk
French," I observed to Alida. "Could you make out what Van Dieman said
to you?"

"Y--yes," she admitted, with a slight blush.

I glanced at Dulcima. There was a mischievous light in her blue eyes.

"Pooh!" I thought; "Van Dieman is forty if he's a day."

While the ship slid on past Castle William and poked her nose toward the
forts at the Narrows, I watched the distant pier which we had left. It
was still black with people, moving like ants. And, as I looked, I
muttered ever: "Pooh! Van Dieman's forty. There's nothing in it, nothing
in it, nothing whatever."

Off Fort Hamilton I noticed that Alida had a tear in one of her brown
eyes. "There's nothing in it," I repeated obstinately.

Off Sandy Hook we ran into a sea-storm. In a few minutes many of the
passengers went below; in a few more minutes the remainder of the
passengers went below; and I was on the way below with my daughter Alida
on one arm and my daughter Dulcima on the other.

"There is nothing in it," I reflected, as the ship shuddered, pitched,
and we involuntarily began running down a toboggan slide, taking little
timorous steps. Then the deck flew up and caught the soles of our shoes
before we were ready to put our feet down. "Alida," I said, "do you feel

There was no mistaking the tears in her eyes now. "There's nothing in
it. There's nothing in anything," I muttered faintly. And I was right as
far as it concerned the passengers on the pitching _Cambodia_.





The second day we ran out of the storm. I remember on that day that I
wore a rather doggy suit of gray--a trifle too doggy for a man of my
years. In my button-hole reposed a white carnation, and as I strolled
into the smoking-room I was humming under my breath an air from "Miss
Helyet"--a thing I had not thought of in twenty years.

"Well, upon my word!" exclaimed a man who looked up from his novel as I
entered the doorway. "Gad! You haven't changed in twenty years!--except
that your moustache is----"

"Sure! And my temples, Williams! Besides, I have two grown-up daughters
aboard! How are you, anyway, you Latin Quarter come-back?"

We settled ourselves, hands still warmly clasped.

"You're not going back to Paris?" I asked.

"Why, man, I live there."

"By George, so you do! I forgot."

There was a silence--that smiling, retrospective silence which ends
inevitably in a sigh not entirely painful.

"Are any of the old men left there?" I asked.


"I--I suppose the city has changed a lot. Men who've been over since,
say so."

"It hasn't changed, radically."

"Hasn't it, Williams?" I asked wistfully.

"No. The old café is exactly the same. The Luxembourg Quarter will seem
familiar to you----"

"I'm not going there," I said hastily.

He smiled; I could see him doing it, askance. But my features remained
dignified and my attitude detached.

"I wonder," I began carelessly, "whether----"

"She got married," he said casually; "I'm glad. She was a sweet little

"She was exceedingly charming," I said, selecting a cigar. "And the


"I forget her name."

"Oh, you mean Delancy's?"


"I don't know whatever became of her," he said.

"Whatever became of Delancy?"

"Oh, he did what we all usually do--he came back, married, and spent the
better part of his life in trying to keep his daughter from marrying
that young Harroll."

"Sir Peter's son?"

"Yes. I was a guest at the Delancy's at the time, and I nearly died.
Harroll confided in me, Catharine Delancy confided in me, John Delancy
told me his woes. It's an amusing story. Do you want to hear it?"

"Go ahead," I said. "My sympathies are already with Delancy. I've a pair
of daughters myself, and I'm trying to shoo away every sort of man and
keep 'em for myself a little longer."

Williams smiled:

"Well, you listen to what those two did to John Delancy. It was some."

I lit my cigar; he lit his; and I settled back, looking at him
attentively as he began with a wave of his gloved hand, a story of
peculiar interest to a man with two unusually attractive daughters:

       *       *       *       *       *

Now, although Harroll had been refused a dozen times--not by Miss
Delancy, but by her father--the young man's naturally optimistic spirits
suffered only temporary depression; and a few evenings later he asked
for her again, making it a bakers' dozen--an uncanny record.

"No," said Mr. Delancy.

"Won't you let me have her when I become tenth vice-president of the
Half-Moon Title Guarantee and Trust----"

"No, I won't."

"When will you let me try for her?"

There was no reply.

"Well, sir," said the young man cheerfully, "there must be some way, of

"Really, Jim, I don't see what way," said Mr. Delancy, without emotion.
"I don't want you for a son-in-law, and I'm not going to have you.
That's one of the reasons I allow you the run of the house. My daughter
sees too much of you to care for you. It's a theory of my own, and a
good one, too."

"Why don't you want me for a son-in-law?" asked the young man, for the
hundredth time.

"Can you give me one single reason why I should want you?" asked Mr.
Delancy wearily.

Harroll stood buried in meditation for a few moments. "No," he said, "I
can't recall any important reasons at the moment."

"I can supply you with one--your sense of honor--but it doesn't count in
this case, because you wouldn't be in my house if you didn't have any."

Harroll looked at the fire.

"I've told you a hundred times that when my little girl marries, she
marries one of her own kind. I don't like Englishmen. And that is all
there is to it, Jim."

"Don't you like me?"

"I'm not infatuated with you."

"Well," said Harroll, slowly pacing the rug in front of the fire, "it's
curious, isn't it?--but, do you know, I think that I am going to marry
Catharine one of these days?"

"Oh, I think not," replied Mr. Delancy amiably. "And perhaps this is a
good opportunity to say good-by for a while. You know we go to Palm
Beach to-morrow?"

"Catharine told me," said the young man, placidly. "So I've wired for
quarters at The Breakers--for two weeks."

The two men smiled at one another.

"You take your vacation late," said Mr. Delancy.

"Not too late, I trust."

"You think you can afford Palm Beach, Jim?"

"No; but I'm going."

Mr. Delancy rose and stood thoughtfully twirling his monocle by the
string. Then he threw away his cigar, concealed a yawn, and glanced
gravely at the clock on the mantel.

"May I go in and say good-night to Catharine, sir?" asked young Harroll.

Mr. Delancy looked bored, but nodded civilly enough.

"And, Jim," he drawled, as the young man started toward the
drawing-room, "I wouldn't go to Palm Beach if I were you."

"Yes, you would, sir--if you were I."

"Young man," said Mr. Delancy, mildly, "I'm damned if I have you for a
son-in-law! Good-night."

They shook hands. Harroll walked into the drawing-room and found it
empty. The music-room, however, was lighted, and Catharine Delancy sat
tucked up in a deep window-seat, studying a map of southern Florida and
feeding bonbons to an enormous white Persian cat.

"Jim," she said, raising her dark eyes as he sauntered up, "you and
father have lately fallen into the disreputable habit of sitting behind
closed doors and gossiping. You have done it thirteen times in three
months. Don't be such pigs; scandal, like other pleasures, was meant to
be shared."

At a gesture of invitation he seated himself beside her and lifted the
Persian pussy to his lap.

"Well," she inquired, "are you really going with us?"

"I can't go when you do, but I'm going to The Breakers for a week or
two--solely to keep an eye on your behavior."

"That is jolly!" she said, flushing with pleasure. "Was father pleased
when you told him?"

"He didn't say he was pleased."

"He is always reticent," she said, quickly. "But won't it be too jolly
for words! We'll travel miles and miles together in bicycle-chairs, and
we'll yacht and bathe and ride and golf, and catch amber-jack and
sharks, and--you'll persuade father to let me gamble just once at the
club--won't you?"

"Not much! Where did you hear that sort of talk, Catharine?"

"Don't tweak Omar's tail and I'll tell you--there! you've done it again,
and I won't tell you."

He fell to stroking the cat's fur, gazing the while into space with an
absent eye that piqued her curiosity. For a year now he had acquired
that trick of suddenly detaching himself from earth and gazing
speculatively toward heaven, lost in a revery far from flattering to the
ignored onlooker. And now he was doing it again under her very nose.
What was he thinking about? He seemed, all at once, a thousand miles
removed from her. Where were his thoughts?

Touched in her _amour propre_, she quietly resumed the map of southern
Florida; but even the rustle of the paper did not disturb his
self-centred and provoking meditation.

She looked at him, looked at the map, considered him again, and finally
watched him.

Suddenly, for the first time in her life, she thought him dangerously
attractive. Surprised and interested, she regarded him in this new
light, impersonally for the moment. So far away had he apparently
drifted in his meditation that it seemed to her as though she were
observing a stranger--a most interesting and most unusual young man.

He turned and looked her straight in the eyes.

Twenty-two, and her first season half over, and to be caught blushing
like a school-girl!

There was no constraint; her self-possession cooled her cheeks--and he
was not looking at her, after all: he was looking through her, at
something his fancy focused far, far beyond her.

Never had she thought any man half as attractive as this old friend in a
new light--this handsome, well-built, careless young fellow absorbed in
thoughts which excluded her. No doubt he was so habituated to herself in
all her moods that nothing except the friendliest indifference could

To her consternation another tint of warm color slowly spread over neck
and cheek. He rose at the same moment, dropped the cat back among the
cushions, and smiling down at her, held out his hand. She took it, met
his eyes with an effort; but what message she divined in them Heaven
alone knows, for all at once her heart stood still and a strange thrill
left her fingers nerveless in his hand.

He was saying slowly, "Then I shall see you at Palm Beach next week?"

"Yes.... You will come, won't you?"

"Yes, I will come."

"But if you--change your mind?"

"I never change. May I write you?"

"Good-night.... You may write me if you wish."

"I will write, every day--if you don't mind."

"No--I don't mind," she said thoughtfully.

She withdrew her hand and stood perfectly still as he left the room. She
heard a servant open the door, she heard Harroll's quick step echo on
the stoop, then the door closed.

A second later Mr. Delancy in the library was aroused from complacent
meditation by the swish of a silken skirt, and glancing up, beheld a
tall, prettily formed girl looking at him with a sober and rather
colorless face.

"Father," she said, "I'm in love with Jim Harroll!"

Mr. Delancy groped for his monocle, screwed it into his left eye, and
examined his daughter.

"It's true, and I thought I'd better tell you," she said.

"Yes," he agreed, "it's as well to let me know. Ah--er--when and how did
it occur?"

"I don't know, father. I was feeding Omar bonbons and looking over the
map of South Florida, and thinking about nothing in particular, when Jim
came in. He said he was going to Palm Beach, and I said, 'How jolly!'
and he sat down and picked up Omar, and--I don't know how it was, but I
began to think him very attractive, and the first thing I

"Oh! So that's the way it happened?"

"I think it was, father."

"No doubt you'll outgrow it."

"Do you think so?"

"I haven't a doubt of it, little daughter."

"I have."

Mr. Delancy dropped his monocle and looked at the fire. The fire was all

"Do you--do you suppose that Jim is--does--thinks--knows----"

"I never speculate on what Jim is, does, thinks, or knows," said her
father, thoughtfully, stirring the embers and spoiling a perfectly good
fire. When he looked up again she had gone.

"One theory smashed!" observed Mr. Delancy. "I'll try another, with
separation as the main ingredient."

He sat down before the fire and lighted a fresh cigar, which wasn't good
for him.

"Must avoid making a martyr of Jim or there will be trouble," he mused.
"There remains another way--make a martyr of myself."

He sat swinging his monocle around his forefinger, gazing vacantly at
the pattern the shadows cast across the hearth.

"Avalon!" he said, abruptly. "Avalon! The 'back-to-nature' business,
'grass-cure' and all. It can't harm either Catharine or me, I fancy--or
any other pair of donkeys!"




_A Note Found by Young Harroll on his Dresser the Evening of his Arrival
at Palm Beach._

  "11.30 A.M.

     "DEAR JIM--Everything is spoiled, after all! Father's failing health
     has suddenly become a serious matter, and we are going to try the
     'nature cure,' or whatever they call it, at Avalon Island. I had no
     idea he was really ill. Evidently he is alarmed, for we have only
     been here six days, and in a few minutes we are to start for
     Avalon. Isn't it perfectly horrid? And to think that you are
     coming this evening and expecting to find us here!

      "Father says you can't come to Avalon; that only invalids are
      received (I didn't know I was one, but it seems I'm to take the
      treatment, too!), and he says that nobody is received for less
      than a month's treatment, so I suppose that bars you even if you
      were self-sacrificing enough to endure a 'nature cure' for the
      pleasure of spending two weeks with [_me_, crossed out] us.

      "I'm actually on the verge of tears when I think of all we had
      planned to do together! And there's my maid at the door, knocking.
      Good-by. You will write, won't you?


       *       *       *       *       *

_Mr. James Harroll to Miss Catharine Delancy, Avalon, Balboa County,


     "DEAR CATHARINE--Your father was right: they refuse to take me at
     Avalon. As soon as I found your note I telegraphed to Avalon for
     accommodations. It seems Avalon is an island, and they have to wait
     for the steamers to carry telegrams over from the mainland. So the
     reply has just reached me that they won't take me for less than a
     month; and my limit from business is two weeks or give up my
     position with your father.

      "Yesterday I came out here to Holy Cross Spring to shoot ducks.
      I'd scarcely begun shooting, at dawn, when along came a couple of
      men through the fog, rowing like the mischief plump into my
      decoys, and I shouted out, 'What the deuce are you about?' and
      they begged my pardon, and said they had thought the point
      unoccupied, and that the fog was thicker than several
      things--which was true.

      "So I invited them into the blind to--oh, the usual ceremony--and
      they came, and they turned out to be Jack Selden--the chap I told
      you about who was so decent to me in Paris--and his guide.

      "So we had--ceremonies--several of them--and Selden stayed to
      shoot with me over my decoys, and our bag was fifty-three, all big
      duck except fifteen bluebills.

      "Selden is a godsend to me. We're going to stay out here to-night
      at the lighthouse, and shoot all to-morrow if it doesn't blow too
      hard. It's blowing great guns now. I'm here in the lighthouse,
      writing in the glow of a lamp in the keeper's living-room, with
      his good little wife sewing by the fire and a half-dozen of his
      kids tumbling about on the floor. It's a pretty sight; I love
      children and firesides and that sort of thing. They've got hold of
      Selden now, and are making him tell stories of adventure. He's
      been all over the world, and is perfectly crazy to get married.
      Says he would prefer a widow with yellow hair and blue eyes. Do
      you know any? He's a nice chap."

      "Catharine, I wish I were in Avalon. They could put me in a
      strait-jacket and I wouldn't care as long as [_you were_, crossed
      out] I could be with [_you_, crossed out] your father and you in

      "It's growing late, and Selden and I should be on the
      ducking-grounds to-morrow before dawn. The keeper's wife says it
      will blow too hard, but Selden only smiles. He's a cool one, and
      if he has the nerve to go out I'll go, too.

      "With sincere regards to your father and every wish for his speedy
      recovery, I remain

  "Yours faithfully,

       *       *       *       *       *

_Lines Scribbled on the Leaf of a Note-book and Found in a Bottle in the
Pocket of an old Shooting-coat a Year Later._


     "CATHARINE--I think this is the end. Selden and I have been blown
     out to sea in a rowboat, and it's leaking. I only want to say
     good-by. Telegraph Selden's mother, Lenox, Massachusetts. I have
     nobody to notify. Good-by.


       *       *       *       *       *

_Telegram to James Harroll, Received and Opened by the Keeper while
Search-boats Were still Out after Mr. Harroll and Mr. Selden, Two Days


     "Don't run any risks. Be careful for our sakes. Terrible storm on
     the coast reported here. Wire me that you are safe.

  "Avalon, Florida."

       *       *       *       *       *

_Telegrams Addressed to Young Harroll, and Opened by the Keeper of the
Lighthouse after the Search-boats Had Returned._

No. 1.

     "Why don't you telegraph us? Your silence and the reports of the
     storm alarm us. Reply at once.


No. 2.

     "Wire Catharine, Jim. You surely were not ass enough to go out in
     such a storm.


No. 3.

     "For pity's sake telegraph to me that you are safe. I cannot sleep.


       *       *       *       *       *

_Telegram to Miss Catharine Delancy, Avalon, Florida._



      "Rowboat containing Mr. Harroll and Mr. Selden blown out to sea.
      Search-boats returned without finding any trace of them.

  "CASWELL, _Keeper_."

       *       *       *       *       *

_Telegram from Mr. Delancy to Keeper of Holy Cross Light._


      "Charter a fast ocean-going tug and as many launches as necessary.
      Don't give up the search. Spare no expense. Check mailed to you

      "I will give ten thousand dollars to the man who rescues James
      Harroll. You may draw on me for any amount necessary. Keep me
      constantly informed of your progress by wire.


       *       *       *       *       *

In from the open sea drifted the castaways, the sun rising in tropic
splendor behind them, before them a far strip of snowy surf edging green

Selden sat in the bow, bailing; Harroll dug vigorously into the Atlantic
with both oars; a heavy flood-tide was doing the rest. Presently Selden
picked up the ducking-glass and examined the shore.

Harroll rested his oars, took a pull at the mineral water, and sighed
deeply. "Except for the scare and the confounded leak it's been rather
amusing, hasn't it?" he said.

"It's all right.... Hope you didn't set that farewell message afloat."

"What message?"

"Oh--I thought I saw you scribbling in your notebook and----"

"And what?"

"And stick the leaf into the bottle of gun-oil. If I was mistaken,
kindly give me my bottle of gun-oil."

"Pooh!" said Harroll. "The storm was magnificent. Can't a man jot down
impressions? Open a can of sardines, will you? And pass me the bread,
you idiot!"

Selden constructed a sandwich and passed it aft. "When we near those
ducks," he said, "we'd better give them a broadside--our larder's
getting low. I'll load for us both."

He fished about among the cartridge-sacks for some dry shells, loaded
the guns, and laid them ready.

"Bluebills," observed Harroll, as the boat drew near. "How tame they
are! Look, Selden! It would be murder to shoot."

The boat, drifting rapidly, passed in among the raft of ducks; here and
there a glistening silver-breasted bird paddled lazily out of the way,
but the bulk of the flock floated serenely on either side, riding the
swell, bright golden eyes fearlessly observing the intruders.

"Oh, a man can't shoot at things that act like that!" exclaimed Selden
petulantly. "Shoo! Shoo--o!" he cried, waving his gun in hopes that a
scurry and rise might justify assassination. But the birds only watched
him in perfect confidence. The boat drove on; the young men sat staring
across the waves, guns idly balanced across their knees. Presently
Harroll finished his sandwich and resumed the oars.

"Better bail some more," he said. "What are you looking at?"--for
Selden, using the ducking-glass, had begun to chuckle.

"Well, upon my word!" he said slowly--"of all luck! Where do you suppose
we are?"

"Well, where the devil are we?"

"Off Avalon!"

"Avalon!" repeated Harroll, stupidly. "Why, man, it's a hundred miles
south of Holy Cross!"

"Well, we've made it, I tell you. I can see one of their dinky little
temples shining among the trees. Hark! There go the bells ringing for

A mellow chime came across the water.

"It can't be Avalon," repeated Harroll, not daring to hope for such
fortune. "What do you know about Avalon, anyway?"

"What I've heard."

"What's that?"

"Why, it's a resort for played-out people who've gone the pace. When a
girl dances herself into the fidgets, or a Newport matron goes to
pieces, or a Wall Street man begins to talk to himself, hither they
toddle. It's the fashionable round-up for smashed nerves and
wibbly-wobbly intellects--a sort of "back-to-nature" enterprise run by a
"doctor." He makes 'em all wear garments cut in the style of the humble
bed-sheet, and then he turns 'em out to grass; and they may roll on it
or frisk on it or eat it if they like. Incidentally, I believe, they're
obliged to wallow in the ocean several times a day, run races afoot,
chuck the classic discus, go barefooted and sandal-shod, wear wreaths of
flowers instead of hats, meditate in silence when the temple bells
ring, eat grain and fruit and drink milk, and pay enormous bills to the
quack who runs the place. It must be a merry life, Harroll. No tobacco,
no billiards, no bridge. And hit the downy at nine-thirty by the

"Good Lord!" muttered Harroll.

"That's Avalon," repeated Selden. "And we're almost there. Look sharp!
Stand by for a ducking! This surf means trouble ahead!"

It certainly did; the boat soared skyward on the crest of the swell; a
smashing roller hurled it into the surf, smothering craft and crew in
hissing foam. A second later two heads appeared, and two half-suffocated
young men floundered up the beach and dropped, dripping and speechless,
on the sand.

They lay inert for a while, salt water oozing at every pore. Harroll was
the first to sit up.

"Right?" he inquired.

"All right. Where's the boat?"

"Ashore below us." He rose, dripping, and made off toward the battered
boat, which lay in the shoals, heeled over. Selden followed; together
they dragged the wreck up high and dry; then they sat down on the sand,
eying one another.

"It's a fine day," said Selden, with a vacant grin. He rolled over on
his back, clutching handfuls of hot sand. "Isn't this immense?" he
said. "My! how nice and dry and solid everything is! Roll on your back,
Harroll! You'll enjoy it more that way."

But Harroll got up and began dragging the guns and cartridge-sacks from
the boat.

"I've some friends here," he said briefly. "Come on."

"Are your friends hospitably inclined to the shipwrecked? I'm about
ready to be killed with hospitality," observed Selden, shouldering gun
and sack and slopping along in his wet boots.

They entered a thicket of sweet-bay and palmetto, breast-high, and
forced a path through toward a bit of vivid green lawn, which gave
underfoot like velvet.

"There's a patient now--in his toga," said Selden, in a low voice.
"Better hit him with a piteous tale of shipwreck, hadn't we?"

The patient was seated on a carved bench of marble under the shade of a
live oak. His attitude suggested _ennui_; he yawned at intervals; at
intervals he dug in the turf with idle bare toes.

"The back of that gentleman's head," said Harroll, "resembles the back
of a head I know."

"Oh! One of those friends you mentioned?"

"Well--I never saw him in toga and sandals, wearing a wreath of flowers
on his head. Let's take a front view."

The squeaky, sloppy sound of Selden's hip boots aroused the gentleman in
the toga from his attitude of bored meditation.

"How do you do, sir?" said Harroll, blandly, "I thought I'd come to

The old gentleman fumbled in his toga, found a monocle, screwed it
firmly into his eye, and inspected Harroll from head to heel.

"You're rather wet, Jim," he said, steadying his voice.

Harroll admitted it. "This is my old friend, Jack Selden--the Lenox
Seldens, you know, sir." And, to Selden, he reverently named Mr.

"How do?" said Mr. Delancy. "You're wet, too."

There was a silence. Mr. Delancy executed a facial contortion which
released the monocle. Then he touched his faded eyes with the hem of his
handkerchief. The lashes and furrowed cheeks were moist.

"You're so devilish abrupt, Jim," he said. "Did you get any telegrams
from us?"

"Telegrams? No, sir. When?"

"No matter," said Mr. Delancy.

Another silence, and Harroll said: "Fact is, sir, we were blown out to
sea, and that's how we came here. I fancy Selden wouldn't mind an
invitation to dinner and a chance to dry his clothes."

Selden smiled hopefully and modestly as Mr. Delancy surveyed him.

"Pray accept my hospitality, gentlemen," said Mr. Delancy, with a grim
smile. "I've been ass enough to take a villa in this forsaken place. The
food I have to offer you might be relished by squirrels, perhaps; the
clothing resembles my own, and can be furnished you by the simple
process of removing the sheets from your beds."

He rose, flung the flap of his toga over one shoulder, and passed his
arm through Harroll's.

"Don't you like it here?" asked Harroll.

"_Like_ it!" repeated Mr. Delancy.

"But--why did you come?"

"I came," said Mr. Delancy slowly, "because I desired to be rid of you."

Selden instinctively fell back out of earshot. Harroll reddened.

"I thought your theory was----"

"You smashed that theory--now you've shattered this--you and Catharine
between you."

Harroll looked thoughtfully at Selden, who stood watching two pretty
girls playing handball on the green.

"Young man," said Mr. Delancy, "do you realize what I've been through in
one week? I have been obliged to wear this unspeakable garment, I've
been obliged to endure every species of tomfoolery, I've been fed on
bird seed, deprived of cigars, and sent to bed at half past nine. And
I'm as sound in limb and body as you are. And all because I desired to
be rid of you. I had two theories! both are smashed. I refuse to
entertain any more theories concerning anything!"

Harroll laughed; then his attention became concentrated on the exquisite
landscape, where amid green foliage white villas of Georgia marble
glimmered, buried in blossoming thickets of oleander, wistaria, and
Cherokee roses--where through the trees a placid lake lay reflecting the
violet sky--where fallow-deer wandered, lipping young maple buds--where
beneath a pergola heavily draped with golden jasmine a white-robed
figure moved in the shade--a still, sunny world of green and gold and
violet exhaling incense under a cloudless sky.

"I would like to see Catharine," he said, slowly, "with your
permission--and in view of the fate of the theories."

"Jim," said Mr. Delancy, "you are doubtless unconscious of the trouble
you have created in my family."

"Trouble, sir?" repeated the young man, flushing up.

"Trouble for two. My daughter and I believed you drowned."

Harroll stood perfectly still. Mr. Delancy took a step or two forward,
turned, and came back across the lawn. "She is sitting under that
pergola yonder, looking out to sea, and I'm afraid she's crying her eyes
out for something she wants. It's probably not good for her, either.
But--such as it is--she may have it."

The two men looked at one another steadily.

"I'm rather glad you were not drowned," said Mr. Delancy, "but I'm not
infatuated with you."

They shook hands solemnly, then Mr. Delancy walked over and joined
Selden, who appeared to be fascinated by an attractive girl in Greek
robes and sandals who was playing handball on the green.

"Young man," said Mr. Delancy, "there's always trouble for two in this
world. That young woman with yellow hair and violet eyes who is playing
handball with her sister, and who appears to hypnotize you, is here to
recuperate from the loss of an elderly husband."

"A widow with yellow hair and blue eyes!" murmured Selden, entranced.

"Precisely. Your train, however, leaves to-night--unless you mean to
remain here on a diet of bird-seed."

Selden smiled absently. Bird-seed had no terror for him.

"Besides," he said, "I'm rather good at handball."

A moment later he looked around, presumably for Harroll. That young man
was already half-way to the jasmine-covered arbor, where a young girl
sat, dry-eyed, deathly pale, staring out to sea.

The sea was blue and smiling; the soft thunder of the surf came up to
her. She heard the gulls mewing in the sky and the hum of bees in the
wind-stirred blossoms; she saw a crested osprey plunge into the shallows
and a great tarpon fling its mass of silver into the sun. Paroquets
gleaming like living jewels rustled and preened in the china-trees;
black and gold butterflies, covered with pollen, crawled over and over
the massed orange bloom. Ah, the mask of youth that the sly world wore
to mock her! Ah, the living lie of the sky, and the false, smooth sea
fawning at her feet!

Little persuasive breezes came whispering, plucking at the white hem of
her robe to curry favor; the ingratiating surf purred, blinking with a
million iridescent bubbles. The smug smile of nature appalled her; its
hypocrisy sickened her; and she bent her dark eyes fiercely on the sea
and clinched her little hands.

[Illustration: "'Give up my dead!' she whispered. 'Give up my dead!'"]

"Give up my dead!" she whispered. "Give up my dead!"


Dazed, she rose to her sandalled feet, the white folds of her robe
falling straight and slim.


Her voiceless lips repeated his name; she swayed, steadying herself by
the arm around her waist.

Then trouble for two began.

       *       *       *       *       *

As Williams ended, I looked at him with indignation.

"As far as I can see," I said, "you are acting as attorney for the
defense. That's a fine story to tell a father of two attractive
daughters. You needn't repeat it to them."

"But it happened, old man----"

"Don't call me 'old man,' either. I'll explain to you why." And I did,

After that I saw less of Williams, from choice. He has a literary way
with him in telling a story--and I didn't wish Alida and Dulcima to
sympathize with young Harroll and that little ninny, Catharine Delancy.
So I kept clear of Williams until we arrived in Paris.




"What was your first impression of Paris, Mr. Van Twiller?" inquired the
young man from East Boston, as I was lighting my cigar in the corridor
of the Hôtel des Michetons after breakfast.

"The first thing I noticed," said I, "was the entire United States
walking down the Boulevard des Italiens."

"And your second impression, sir?" he asked somewhat uncertainly.

"The entire United States walking back again." He lighted a cigarette
and tried to appear cheerful. He knew I possessed two daughters. A man
in possession of such knowledge will endure much.

Presently the stout young man from Chicago came up to request a light
for his cigar. "See Paris and die, eh?" he observed with odious

"I doubt that the city can be as unhealthy as that," I said coldly.

Defeated, he joined forces with the young man from East Boston, and they
retired to the terrace to sit and hate me.

My daughter Alida, my daughter Dulcima, and I spent our first day in
Paris "_ong voitoor_" as the denizen of East Boston informed me later.

"What is your first impression, Alida?" I asked, as our taxi rolled
smoothly down the Avenue de l'Opera.

"Paris? An enormous blossom carved out of stone!--a huge architectural
Renaissance rose with white stone petals!"

I looked at my pretty daughter with pride.

"That is what Mr. Van Dieman says," she added conscientiously.

My enthusiasm cooled at once.

"Van Dieman exaggerates," I said. "Dulcima, what do you find to
characterize Paris?"

"The gowns!" she cried. "Oh, papa! did you see that girl driving past
just now?"

I opened my guidebook in silence. I _had_ seen her.

The sunshine flooded everything; the scent of flowers filled the soft
air; the city was a garden, sweet with green leaves, embroidered with
green grass--a garden, too, in architecture, carved out in silvery gray
foliage of stone. The streets are as smooth and clean as a steamer's
deck, with little clear rivulets running in gutters that seem as
inviting as country brooks. It did not resemble Manhattan.


Paris is a big city full of red-legged soldiers.

Paris is a forest of pink and white chestnut blossoms under which the
inhabitants sit without their hats.

Paris is a collection of vistas; at the end of every vista is a misty
masterpiece of architecture; on the summit of every _monument_ is a
masterpiece of sculpture.

Paris is a city of several millions of inhabitants, every inhabitant
holding both hands out to you for a tip.

Paris is a park, smothered in foliage, under which asphalted streets
lead to Paradise.

Paris is a sanitarium so skillfully conducted that nobody can tell the
patients from the physicians; and all the inmates are firmly convinced
that the outside world is mad.

I looked back at the gilded mass of the Opera--that great pile of stone
set lightly there as the toe of a ballet-girl's satin slipper----

"What are you thinking, papa?" asked Alida.

"Nothing," I said hastily, amazed at my own frivolity. "Notice," said I,
"the exquisite harmony of the sky-line. Here in Paris the Government
regulates the height of buildings. Nothing inharmonious can be built;
the selfishness and indifference of private ownership which in New York
erects skyscrapers around our loveliest architectural remains, the City
Hall, would not be tolerated here, where artistic _ensemble_ is as
necessary to people as the bread they eat."

"Dear me, where have I read that?" exclaimed Alida innocently.

I said nothing more.

We were now passing through that wing of the Louvre which faces the
Carousal, and we turned sharply to the right under the little arc, and
straight past the Tuileries Gardens, all blooming with tulips and
hyacinths, past the quaint weather-stained statues of an epoch as dead
as its own sculptors, past the long arcades of the Rivoli, under which
human spiders lurk for the tourist of Cook, and out into the Place de la
Concorde--the finest square in the world.

The sun glittered on the brass inlaid base on which towered the
monolyth. The splashing of the great fountains filled the air with a
fresh sweet sound. Round us, in a vast circle, sat the "Cities of
France," with "Strasburg" smothered in crêpe and funeral wreaths, each
still stone figure crowned with battlemented crowns and bearing the
carved symbols of their ancient power on time-indented escutcheons, all
of stone.

The fresh wet pavement blazed in the sunshine; men wheeled handcarts
filled with violets or piled high with yellow jonquils and silvery

Violet, white, and yellow--these are the colors which Paris wears in
springtime, twined in her chaplet of tender green.

I said this aloud to Dulcima, who replied that they were wearing blue in
Paris this spring, and that she would like to know how soon we were
going to the dressmakers.

Now at last we were rolling up the Champs Elysées, with the Arc de
Triomphe, a bridge of pearl at the end of the finest vista in the world.
Past us galloped gay cavalry officers, out for a morning canter in the
Bois de Boulogne; past us whizzed automobiles of every hue, shape and

Past us, too, trotted shoals of people well diluted by our fellow
countrymen, yet a truly Parisian crowd for all that. Hundreds of
uniforms dotted the throngs; cuirassiers in short blue stable jackets,
sabres hooked under their left elbows, little _piou-piou_ lads, in baggy
red trousers and shakos bound with yellow; hussars jingling along,
wearing jackets of robin's-egg blue faced with white; chasseurs à
Cheval, wearing turquoise blue braided with black; then came the priests
in black, well groomed as jackdaws in April; policemen in sombre
uniforms, wearing sword bayonets; gendarmes off duty--for the Republican
Guard takes the place of the Gendarmerie within the walls of Paris;
smart officers from the Fontainebleau artillery school, in cherry-red
and black; Saint-Cyr soldiers in crude blues and reds, with the blue
shako smothered under plumes; then Sisters, in their dark habits and
white coifs, with sweet, serene faces looking out on the sinful world
they spend their lives in praying for.

"Dulcima," I said, "what particular characteristic strikes you when you
watch these passing throngs of women?"

"Their necks; every Parisienne is a beauty from behind--such exquisite
necks and hair."

"Their ankles," added Alida innocently; "they are the best-shod women in
the world!"

I had noticed something of the sort; in fact, there is no escape for a
man's eyes in Paris. Look where he will, he is bound to bring up against
two neat little shoes trotting along demurely about their own frivolous
business. One cannot help wondering what that business may be or where
those little polished shoes are going so lightly, tap! tap! across the
polished asphalt. And there are thousands on thousands of such shoes,
passing, repassing, twinkling everywhere, exquisite, shapely, gay little
shoes of Paris, pattering through boulevard and avenue, square, and
street until the whole city takes the cadence, keeping time, day and
night, to the little tripping feet of the Parisienne--bless her, heart
and sole!

"Of what are you thinking, papa?" asked Alida.

"Nothing, child, nothing," I muttered.

We left our taxi and mounted to the top of the Arc de Triomphe. The
world around us was bathed in a delicate haze; silver-gray and emerald
the view stretched on every side from the great Basilica on Montmârtre
to the silent Fortress of Mont-Valerien; from the vast dome of the
Pantheon, springing up like a silver bubble in the sky, to the dull
golden dome of the Invalides, and the dome of the Val-de-Grâce.

Spite of the Sainte Chapel, with its gilded lace-work, spite of the
bizarre Tour Saint-Jacques, spite of the lean monster raised by Monsieur
Eiffel, straddling the vase Esplanade in the west, the solid twin towers
of Nôtre-Dame dominated the spreading city by their sheer
majesty--dominated Saint-Sulpice, dominated the Trocadero, dominated
even the Pantheon.

"From those towers," said I, "Quasimodo looked down and saw the slim
body of Esmeralda hanging on the gibbet."

"What became of her goat?" asked Alida, who was fond of pets.

"That reminds me," began Dulcima, "that now we are safely in Paris we
might be allowed to ask papa about that----"

"There is a steamer which sails for New York to-morrow," I said calmly.
"Any mention of that pig will ensure us staterooms in half an hour."

Considerably subdued, the girls meekly opened their Baedekers and
patronized the view, while I lighted a cigar and mused.

It was my second cigar that morning. Certainly I was a changed man--but
was it a change for the better? Within me I felt something stirring--I
knew not what.

It was that long-buried germ of gayety, that latent uncultivated and
embryotic germ which lies dormant in all Anglo-Saxons; and usually dies
dormant or is drowned in solitary cocktails at a solemn club.

Certainly I was changing. Van Dieman was right. Doubtless any change
could not be the worse for a man who has not sufficient intelligence to
take care of his own pig.

"There is," said Dulcima, referring to her guidebook, "a café near here
in the Bois de Boulogne, called the Café des Fleurs de Chine. I should
so love to breakfast at a Chinese café."

"With chopsticks!" added Alida, soulfully clasping her gloved hands.

"Your Café Chinois is doubtless a rendezvous for Apaches," I said, "but
we'll try it if you wish."

I am wondering, now, just what sort of a place that café is, set like a
jewel among the green trees of the Bois. I know it is expensive, but not
very expensive; I know, also, that the dainty young persons who sipped
mint on the terrace appeared to disregard certain conventionalities
which I had been led to believe were never disregarded in France.

The safest way was to pretend a grave abstraction when their bright eyes
wandered toward one; and I did this, without exactly knowing why I did.

"I wish," said I to Dulcima, "that Van Dieman were here. He understands
all this surface life one sees in the parks and streets."

"Do you really wish that Mr. Van Dieman were here?" asked Alida, softly

I looked at her gravely.

"Because," she said, "I believe he is coming about the middle of May."

"Oh, he is, is he?" I said, without enthusiasm. "Well, we shall
doubtless be in the Rhine by the middle of May."

"My gowns couldn't be finished until June any way," said Dulcima, laying
her gloved fingers on Alida's chair.

So they were allies, then.

"I didn't know you had ordered any gowns," I said superciliously.

"I haven't--yet," she said coolly.

"Neither have I," began Alida; but I refused to hear any more.

"When you are at your modistes you may talk gowns until you faint away,"
said I; "but now let us try to take an intelligent interest in this
famous and ancient capital of European civilization and liberty----"

"Did you notice that girl's gown?" motioned Alida to Dulcima.

I also looked. But it was not the beauty of the gown that I found so

"I wonder," thought I--"but no matter. I wish that idiot Van Dieman were

       *       *       *       *       *

That evening, after my daughters had retired, I determined to sit up
later than I ought to. The reckless ideas which Paris inspired in me,
alarmed me now and then. But I was game.

So I seated myself in the moonlit court of the hotel and lighted an
unwise cigar and ordered what concerns nobody except the man who
swallowed it, and, crossing my legs, looked amiably around.

Williams sat at the next table.

"Hello, old sport," he said affably.

"Williams," I said, "guess who I was thinking about a moment ago."

"A girl?"

"No, of course not. I was thinking of Jim Landon. What ever became of

"Jim? Oh, he's all right."


"Very. You ought to have heard of him over there; but I suppose you
don't keep up with art news."

"No," I admitted, ashamed--"it's rather difficult to keep up with
anything on Long Island. Does Jim Landon live here?"

"In Normandy, with his wife."

"Oh, he got married. Was it that wealthy St. Louis girl who----"

"No; she married into the British Peerage. No, Landon didn't do anything
of that sort. Quite the contrary."

"He--he didn't marry his model, did he?"

"Yes--in a way."

"In a way?"

Williams summoned a waiter who shifted his equipment to my table.

"It's rather an unusual story," he said. "Would you care to hear it?"

"Does it portray, with your well known literary skill, the confusion of
a parent?" I inquired cautiously. "If it does, don't tell it."

"It doesn't."

"Oh. Nobody puts it all over the old man?"

"No, not in this particular instance. Shall I begin?"

"Shoot," I said.

He began with his usual graceful gesture:

       *       *       *       *       *

Landon was dead broke.

As it had not been convenient for him to breakfast that morning, he was
irritable. The mockery of handsome hangings and antique furniture in the
outer studio increased his irritation as he walked through it into the
rough, inner workshop, which was hung with dusty casts and dreary with
clay and plaster.

Here Ellis found him, an hour later, smoking a cigarette to deceive his
appetite, and sulkily wetting down the clay bust of a sheep-faced old
lady--an order of the post-mortem variety which he was executing from a
gruesome photograph.

"How," inquired Ellis, "is the coy Muse treating you these palmy, balmy

Landon swore and squirted a spongeful of water over the old lady's side

"My! my! As bad as that?" commented Ellis, raising his eyebrows. "I
thought you expected to be paid for that tombstone."

"Man, I've been eating, drinking, and sleeping on that tombstone all
winter. Last night I gnawed off the 'Hic Jacet' and washed it down with
the date. There's nothing left."

"You've--ah--breakfasted, dear friend?"

"That's all right----"

"_Have_ you?"

"No. But there's a man from Fourth Avenue coming to buy some of that
superfluous magnificence in the show studio. Besides, I'll be paid for
this old lady in a day or two-- Where are you going?"

"Out," said Ellis, briefly.

Landon, left alone, threw a bit of wet clay at the doorknob, stood
irresolutely, first on one foot, then on the other; then with a hearty
scowl at the sheep-faced old lady washed her complacent face with a
dripping sponge.

       *       *       *       *       *

"Williams!" I interrupted violently, "how do you know all those

"My Lord, man!" he retorted; "I write for a living. I've got to know

"Go on, then," I said.

He went on:

       *       *       *       *       *

A few moments later Ellis came in with rolls, milk and fruit.

"That's very decent of you," said Landon, but the other cut him short,

"Jim, who is the divinity I just met in your hallway? Yours?"

"What divinity?"

"Her hair," said Ellis, a little wildly, "is the color of Tuscan gold;
her eyes, ultra marine; and the skin of her is just pure snow with a
brushful of carmine across the lips--and the Great Sculptor Himself must
have moulded her body----"

Landon shrugged and buttered a roll. "You let her alone," he said.

"Reveal to me instantly her name, titles, and quality!" shouted Ellis,
unsheathing a Japanese sword.

"Her name," said Landon, "is O'Connor; her quality is that of a
shopgirl. She is motherless and alone, and inhabits a kennel across the
hall. Don't make eyes at her. She'll probably believe whatever the first
gentlemanly blackguard tells her."

Ellis said: "Why may I not--in a delicately detached and gayly
impersonal, yet delightfully and evasively irrational manner, calculated
to deceive nobody----"

"That would sound very funny in the Latin Quarter. This is New York." He
rose, frowning. Presently he picked up the sponge. "Better let a lonely
heart alone, unless you're in earnest," he said, and flung the sponge
back into a bucket of water, dried his hands, and looked around.

"Have you sold any pictures yet?"

"Not one. I thought I had a Copper King nailed to the easel, but Fate
separated us on a clinch and he got away and disappeared behind the bars
of his safe deposit. How goes the market with you?"

"Dead. I can live on my furniture for a while."

"I thought you were going in on that competition for the Department of
Peace at Washington."

"I am, if I have enough money left to hire a model."

Ellis rose, twirled his walking-stick meditatively, glanced at his
carefully brushed hat, and placed it gravely on his head.

"Soon," he said cheerfully, "it will be time for straw hats. But where
I'm going to get one I don't know. Poverty used to be considered funny
in the Quarter; but it's no idle jest in this town. Well--I'll let your
best girl alone, Jim, if you feel that way about it."

They laughed and shook hands.

In the corridor Ellis looked hard at the closed door opposite, and his
volatile heart gave a tortured thump; he twirled his stick and sauntered
out into Stuyvesant Square.





As winter faded into spring the first tracery of green fringed the
branches in Stuyvesant Square. The municipal authorities decorated the
grass with tulips and later with geraniums. Later still, cannas and
foliage plants were planted, over which two fountains spurted aqua

But in spite of tasteless horticulture it is a quaint old square, a
little sad and shabby, perhaps, yet mercifully green inside its two
iron-railed parallelograms. Above the great sycamores and elms the
truncated towers of St. George's brood heavily; along the short, leafy
reach of Rutherford Place an old-time Quaker meeting-house keeps gentle
vigil; northward, aged mansions peer at the square through time-dimmed
windows; south, above the Sisters of The Assumption, a painted Virgin
clasps her stone hands and looks down on the little children of the

Along the east side of the square runs Livingston Place; behind it an
elevated railroad roars; in front lies the square, shabby, unkempt, but
lovely always, when night lends to it her mystery. For at night the
trees loom gigantic; lights sparkle over lawn and fountain; the
illuminated dial of St. George's hangs yellow as a harvest moon above
the foliage; and the pleasant bell sounds from the towers, changing, for
a moment, the streets' incessant monotone to a harmony.

Into this square went Landon; oftener, as the summer grew hotter and
work grew scarcer.

Once, at the close of a scorching afternoon, his pretty neighbour from
across the corridor came slowly into the square and rested for a few
moments on the same bench he occupied.

So lovely and fresh and sweet she seemed in the early dusk that he, for
an instant, was tempted from his parched loneliness to speak to her; but
before he could bring himself to it she turned, recognized him, rose and
went back to the house without a second glance.

"We've been neighbours for a year," he thought, "and she has never been
civil enough to look at me yet--and I've been too civil to look at her.
I was an ass."

He was wrong; she had looked at him often, when unafraid that his eyes
might surprise her.

He was amusingly wrong. Waking, she remembered him; during the long day
she thought of him; at night, when she returned from business, the
radiance from his studio lamp streaming through the transom had for her
all the thrilling fascination that a lighted shop window, at Christmas,
has for a lonesome child passing in darkness.

From the dim monotony of her own life she had, at times, caught glimpses
through his open door of splendours scarcely guessed. In her eyes an
enchanted world lay just beyond his studio's threshold; a bright, warm,
mellow wonderland, indistinct in the golden lamplight, where only a
detail here and there half revealed a figured tapestry or carved
foliation--perhaps some soft miracle of ancient Eastern weaving on the
floor, perhaps a mysterious marble shape veiled in ruddy shadow--enough
to set her youthful imagination on fire, enough to check her breath and
start the pulses racing as she turned the key in her own door and
reëntered the white dusk of her own life once more.

The three most important events of her brief career had occurred within
the twelvemonth--her mother's death, her coming here to live--and love.
That also had happened. But she did not call it love; it did not occur
to her to consider him in any possible, tangible relation to herself.

She never even expected to know him, to speak to him, or that he could
possibly care to speak to her. As far as the east is from the west, so
far apart were their two worlds. For them the gusty corridor was wider
than interstellar voids; she had not even a thought that a miracle might
bridge the infinite from her tiny world to his, which seemed to her so
bright and splendid; she had never advanced farther than the happiness
of lying still after the day's work, and thinking, innocently, of what
she knew about him and what she timidly divined.

At such times, stretched across her bed, the backs of her hands resting
on her closed lids, she pondered on that alluring wonderland, his
studio--of the mystery that so fittingly surrounded his artist's life.
She saw him always amid the tints and hues of ancient textiles,
sometimes dreaming, sometimes achieving with fiery inspiration--but
precisely how or what he achieved remained to her part of his mystery.
She cherished only the confused vision of the youth of him, and its
glorious energy and wisdom.

He could be very human, too, she thought; and often the smile curved her
lips and cheeks at the recollection of the noisy gayety coming in gusts
through his transom on those nights when his friends were gathered
there--laughter and song--the incense of tobacco drifting into her own
white room from the corridor. She loved it; the odor seemed spicy with a
delicate hint of sweet-brier, and she opened her transom wider to let it

Usually she fell asleep, the distant uproar of gayety lulling her into
happier slumbers. And for days and nights afterward its recollection
made life easier and pleasanter, as though she lived with amusing
memories of events in which she herself had participated.

All day long, in a fashionable dry-goods shop, she sold cobweb finery
and frail, intimate, lacy stuffs to very fine ladies, who usually drew a
surprised breath at her beauty, and sometimes dealt with her as though
they were dealing with one of their own caste.

At night, tired, she looked forward to her return, when, behind her own
closed door, she could rest or read a little, or lie still and think of
Landon. But even in the daring magic of waking dreams she had scarcely
ventured any acquaintance with him; in dreamland they were as yet only
just aware of one another. He had lately--oh, breathless and audacious
imagination of hers!--smiled at her in the corridors of dreamland; and
she had been a good many days trying to decide what she was going to do
about it. In her phantom world matters were going well with her.

Meanwhile, except for the stupefying heat, the actual world was also
going well with her. She had saved a little money, enough to give her
ten days of luxury and fresh air when the time came. She needed it; the
city had been hard on her. Yet the pleasure of going was not unmixed;
for, as the day of her release drew nearer, she realized how, within the
year, he had, in her dreams, insensibly become to her a part of her real
life, and that she would miss him sorely. Which gave her courage to
hasten their acquaintance in dreamland; and so it came about that he
spoke to her one night as she lay dreaming, awake on her pillow; and she
felt her cheeks burn in the dark as though it had all been real.

Yet he was very gentle with her in dreamland--quite wonderful--indeed,
all that the most stilted vision of a young girl could desire.

Less unquiet, now that they knew each other, she looked forward to the
real separation with comparative resignation.

Then came that unexpected episode when she seated herself on the same
bench with him, unintentionally braving him in the flesh.

All that night she thought about it in consternation--piteously
explaining it to him in dreamland. He understood--in dreamland--but did
he understand in real life? Would he think she had meant to give him a
chance to speak--horror of crimson dismay! Would he think her absurd to
leave so abruptly when he caught her eye? And oh, she cared so much what
he might think, so much more than she supposed she dared care!

All day long it made her miserable as she moved listlessly behind the
counter; at night the heated pavements almost stunned her as she walked
home to save the pennies.

She saw no light in his studio as she slipped through the corridor into
her stifling room. Later, she bathed and dressed in a thinner gown, but
it, also, was in black, in memory of her mother, and seemed to sere her
body. The room grew hotter; she went out to the passage; no light
threatened her from his transom, so she ventured to leave her door open.

But even this brought no relief; the heat became unendurable; and she
rose at last, pinned on her big black hat of straw, and went out into
the dusk.

Through the gates of the square she saw the poor surging into the park.
The police had opened the scant bits of lawn to them. Men, women,
children, lay half-naked on the grass, fighting for breath. And, after
a little while, she crossed the street and went in among them.

The splash of the fountain was refreshing. She wandered at random, past
the illuminated façade of the Lying-in Hospital, past the painted
Virgin, then crossed Second Avenue, entered the gates again, and turned
aimlessly by the second fountain. There seemed to be no resting-place
for her on the crowded benches.

Beyond the fountain a shadowy sycamore stood in the centre of a strip of
lawn. She went toward it, hesitated, glancing at the motionless,
recumbent figures near by, then ventured to seat herself on the grass
and lean back against the tree. Presently, she unpinned her hat, lifted
a white face to the night, and closed her eyes.

How long she sat there she did not know when again she opened her tired

A figure stood near her. For a moment she confused dream and reality and
smiled at him; then sat up, rigid, breathless, as the figure stirred and
came forward.

She remembered attempting to rise, remembered nothing else very
distinctly--not even his first words, though his voice was gentle and
pleasant, just as it was in dreamland.

"Do you mind my speaking to you?" he was asking now.

"No," she said faintly.

He raised his head and looked out across the feverish city, passing one
thin hand across his eyes. Then, with a slight movement of his
shoulders, he seated himself on the ground at her feet.

"We have been neighbours so long," he said, "that I thought perhaps I
might dare to speak to you to-night. My name is Landon--James Landon. I
think I know your last name."

"O'Connor--Ellie O'Connor--Eleanor, I mean," she added, unafraid. A
curious peace seemed to possess her at the sound of his voice. There was
a stillness in it that reassured.

The silence between them was ringed with the distant roar of the city.
He looked around him at the shadowy forms flung across bench and lawn;
his absent glance swept the surrounding walls of masonry and iron, all
a-glitter with tiny, lighted windows. Overhead a tarnished moon looked
down into the vast trap where five million souls lay caught, gasping for
air--he among the others--and this young girl beside him--trapped,
helpless, foredoomed. The city had got them all! But he sat up the
straighter, giving the same slightly-impatient shake to his shoulders.

"I came," he said, "to ask you one or two questions--if I may."

"Ask them," she answered, as in a dream.

"Then--you go to business, do you not?"


He nodded: "And now I'm going to venture another question which may
sound impertinent, but I do not mean it so. May I?"

"Yes," she said in a low, hushed voice, as though a clearer tone might
break some spell.

"It is about your salary. I do not suppose it is very large."

"My wages? Shall I tell you?" she asked, so innocently that he flushed

"No, no!--I merely wish to--to find out from you whether you might care
to take a chance of increasing your salary."

"I don't think I know what you mean," she said, looking at him.

"I know you don't," he said, patiently; "let me begin a little farther
back. I am a sculptor. You know, of course, what that is----"

"Yes. I am educated." She even found courage to smile at him.

His answering smile covered both confusion and surprise; then perplexity
etched a crease between his brows.

"That makes it rather harder for me"--he hesitated--"or easier; I don't
know which."

"What makes it harder?" she asked.

"Your being--I don't know--different--from what I imagined----"



She laughed deliciously in her new-born confidence.

"What is it you wish to ask?"

"I'll tell you," he said. "I need a model--and I'm too poor to pay for
one. I've pledged everything in my studio. A chance has come to me. It's
only a chance, however. But I can't take it because I cannot afford a

There was a silence; then she inquired what he meant by a model. And he
told her--not everything, not clearly.

"You mean that you wish me to sit for my portrait in marble?"

"There are two figures to be executed for the new Department of Peace in
Washington," he explained, "and they are to be called 'Soul' and 'Body.'
Six sculptors have been invited to compete. I am one. We have a year
before us."

She remained silent.

"It is perfectly apparent, of course, that you are exquis--admirably
fitted"--he stammered under her direct gaze, then went on; "I scarcely
dared dream of such a model even if I had the means to afford--" He
could get no further.

"Are you really poor?" she asked in gentle wonder.

"At present--yes."

"I never dreamed it," she said. "I thought--otherwise."

"Oh, it is nothing; some day things will come out right. Only--I have a
chance now--if you--if you would help me.... I _could_ win with you; I
know it. And if I do win--with your aid--I will double your present
salary. And that is what I've come here to say. Is that fair?"

He waited, watching her intently. She had dropped her eyes, sitting
there very silent at the foot of the tree, cradling the big straw hat in
her lap.

"Whatever you decide to be fair--" he began again, but she looked up

"I was not thinking of that," she said; "I was only--sorry."


"That you are poor."

He misunderstood her. "I know; I wish I could offer you something beside
a chance----"

"Oh-h," she whispered, but so low that he heard only a long, indrawn

She sat motionless, eyes on the grass. When again she lifted them their
pure beauty held him.

"What is it you wish?" she asked. "That I should be your model for
the--this prize which you desire to strive for?"

"Yes; for that."

"How can I? I work all day."

"I could use you at night and on Saturday afternoons, and all day
Sunday. And--have you had your yearly vacation?"

She drew a quietly tired breath. "No," she said.

"Then--I will give you two hundred dollars extra for those ten days," he
went on eagerly--so eagerly that he forgot the contingency on which hung
any payment at all. As for her, payment was not even in her thoughts.

Through the deep, sweet content which came to her with the chance of
serving him, ran an undercurrent of confused pain that he could so
blindly misunderstand her. If she thought at all of the amazing
possibility of such a fortune as he offered, she knew that she would not
accept it from him. But this, and the pain of his misunderstanding,
scarcely stirred the current of a strange, new happiness that flowed
through every vein.

"Do you think I could really help you?"

"If you will." His voice trembled.

"Are you sure--quite sure? If you are--I will do what you wish."

He sprang up buoyant, transfigured.

"If I win it will be _you_!" he said. "Could you come into the studio a
moment? I'll show you the two sketches I have made for 'Soul' and

On the prospect of a chance--the chance that had come at last--he was
completely forgetting that she must be prepared to comprehend what he
required of her; he forgot that she could know nothing of a sculptor's
ways and methods of production. On the way to the studio, however, he
tardily remembered, and it rather scared him.

"Do you know any painters or sculptors?" he asked, keeping impatient
pace beside her.

"I know a woman who makes casts of hands and arms," she said shyly. "She
stopped me in the street once and asked permission to cast my hands.
Would you call her a sculptor?"

"N--well, perhaps she may be. We sculptors often use casts of the human
body." He plunged into it more frankly: "You know, of course, that to
become a sculptor or a painter, one has to model and paint from living

"Yes," she said, undisturbed.

"And," he continued, "it would be impossible for a sculptor to produce
the beautiful marbles you have seen--er--around--unless he could pose a
living model to copy from."

An unquiet little pulse began to beat in her breast; she looked up at
him, but he was smiling so amiably that she smiled, too.

Mortally afraid of frightening her, he could not exactly estimate how
much she divined of what was to be required of her.

He continued patiently: "Unless a student dissects he can never become a
surgeon. It is the same with us; our inspiration and originality must be
founded on a solid study of the human body. That is why we must always
have before us as perfect a living model as we can find."

"Do--do you think--" she stopped, pink and confused.

"I think," he said, quietly impersonal, "that, speaking as a sculptor,
you are as perfect and as beautiful a model as ever the old Greek
masters saw, alive or in their dreams."

"I--did not--know it," she faltered, thrilling from head to foot.

They entered the corridor together. Her breath came faster as he
unlocked his door and, turning up a lamp, invited her to enter.

At last in the magic world! And with _him_!

Figured tapestries hung from the golden mystery of the ceiling; ancient
dyes glowed in the soft rugs under foot; the mellow light glimmered on
dull foliations. She stood still, looking about her as in a trance.

"All this I will buy back again with your help," he said, laughingly;
but his unsteady voice betrayed the tension to which he was keyed. A
slow excitement was gaining on her, too.

"I will redeem all these things, never fear," he said, gayly.

"Oh--if you only can.... It is too cruel to take such things from you."

The emotion in her eyes and voice surprised him for one troubled moment.
Then the selfishness of the artist ignored all else save the work and
the opportunity.

"You _will_ help me, won't you?" he asked. "It is a promise?"

"Yes--I will."

"Is it a _promise_?"

"Yes," she said, wondering.

"Then please sit here. I will bring the sketches. They merely represent
my first idea; they are done without a living model." He was off,
lighting a match as he hastened. A tapestry fell back into place; she
lifted her blue eyes to the faded figures of saints and seraphim
stirring when the fabric moved.




As in a blessed vision, doubting the reality of it all, she sat looking
upward until his step on some outer floor aroused her to the wondrous

He came, holding two clay figures. The first was an exquisite winged
shape, standing with delicate limbs parallel, arms extended, palms
outward. The head was lifted a little, poised exquisitely on the perfect
neck. Its loveliness thrilled her.

"Is it an angel?" she asked, innocently.

"No.... I thought you understood--this is only a sketch I made. And this
is the other." And he placed on a table the second figure, a smooth,
youthful, sensuous shape, looking aside and down at her own white
fingers playing with her hair.

"Is it Eve?" she inquired, wondering.

"These," he said slowly, "are the first two sketches, done without a
model, for my two figures 'Soul' and 'Body'."

She looked at him, not comprehending.

"I--I must have a _living_ model--for these," he stammered. "Didn't you
understand? I want _you_ to work from."

From brow to throat the scarlet stain deepened and spread. She turned,
laid one small hand on the back of the chair, faltered, sank onto it,
covering her face.

"I thought you understood," he repeated stupidly. "Forgive me--I thought
you understood what sort of help I needed." He dropped on one knee
beside her. "I am so sorry. Try to reason a little. You--you must know I
meant no offense--that I never could wish to offend you. Look at me,
please; I am not that sort of a man. Can't you realize how desperate I
was--how I dared hazard the chance that you might help me?"

She rose, her face still covered.

"_Can't_ you comprehend?" he pleaded, "that I meant no offense?"

"Y-yes. Let me go."

"Can you forgive me?"


"And you cannot--help me?"

"H-help you?... Oh, no, no, no!" She broke down, sobbing in the chair,
her golden head buried in her arms.

Confused, miserable, he watched her. Already the old helpless feeling
had come surging back, that there was to be no chance for him in the
world, no hope of all he had dared to believe in, no future. Watching
her he felt his own courage falling with her tears, his own will
drooping as she drooped there--slender and white in her thin, black

Again he spoke, for the moment forgetting himself.

"Don't cry, because there is nothing to cry about. You know I did not
mean to hurt you; I know that you would help me if you could. Isn't it

"Y-yes," she sobbed.

"It was only a sculptor who asked you, not a man at all. You understand
what I mean?--only a poor devil of a sculptor, carried away by the
glamour of a chance for better fortune that seemed to open before him
for a moment. So you must not feel distressed or sensitive or

She sat up, wet eyed, cheeks aflame.

"I am thinking of _you_!" she cried, almost fiercely, "not of myself;
and you don't understand! Do you think I would cry over myself? I--it is
because I cannot help _you_!"

He found no words to answer as she rose and moved toward the door. She
crossed the threshold, turned and looked at him. Then she entered her
own doorway.

       *       *       *       *       *

And the world went badly for her that night, and, after that, day and
night, the world went badly.

Always the confusion of shame and dread returned to burn her; but that
was the least; for in the long hours, lying amid the fragments of her
shattered dreams, the knowledge that he needed her and that she could
not respond, overwhelmed her.

The house, the corridor, her room became unendurable; she desired to
go--anywhere--and try to forget. But she could not; she could not leave,
she could not forget, she could not go to him and offer the only aid he
desired, she could not forgive herself.

In vain, in vain, white with the agony of courage, she strove to teach
herself that she was nothing, her body nothing, that the cost was
nothing, compared to the terrible importance of his necessity. She knew
in her heart that she could have died for him; but--but--her courage
could go no further.

In terrible silence she walked her room, thinking of him as one in
peril, as one ruined for lack of the aid she withheld. Sometimes she
passed hours on her knees, tearless, wordless; sometimes sheerest fear
set her creeping to the door to peer out, dreading lest his closed door
concealed a tragedy.

And always, burning like twin gray flames before her eyes, she saw the
figures he had made, 'Soul' and 'Body.' Every detail remained clear;
their terrible beauty haunted her. Night after night, rigid on her bed's
edge, she stretched her bared, white arms, staring at them, then flung
them hopelessly across her eyes, whispering, "I cannot--O God--I
cannot--even for him."

And there came a day--a Saturday--when the silence of the house, of her
room, the silence in her soul, became insupportable.

All day she walked in the icy, roaring streets, driving herself forward
toward the phantom of forgetfulness which fled before her like her
shadow. And at the edge of noon she found herself--where she knew she
must come one day--seeking the woman who made plaster casts of hands and
arms and shapely feet.

For a little while they talked together. The woman surprised, smiling
sometimes, but always very gentle; the girl flushed, stammering,
distressed in forming her naïve questions.

Yes, it could be done; it had been done. But it was a long process; it
must be executed in sections, then set together limb by limb, for there
were many difficulties--and it was not pleasant to endure, even
sometimes painful.

"I do not mind the pain," said the girl. "Will it scar me?"

"No, not that.... But, another thing; it would be expensive."

"I have my vacation money, and a little more." She named the sum

Yes, it was enough. And when could she come for the first casts to be

She was ready now.

A little later, turning a lovely, flushed face over her bare shoulder:
"One figure stood like this," and, after a pause, "the other this
way.... If you make them from me, can a sculptor work from life casts
such as these?"

A sculptor could.

About dusk she crept home, trembling in every nerve. Her vacation had

She had been promoted to a position as expert lace buyer, which
permitted larger liberty. From choice she had taken no vacation during
the summer. Now her vacation, which she requested for December, lasted
ten days; and at the end of it her last penny had been spent, but in a
manner so wonderful, so strange, that no maid ever dreamed such things
might be.

[Illustration: "Christmas Eve she knelt, crying, before the pedestal."]

And on the last evening of it, which was Christmas Eve, she knelt,
crying, before two pedestals from which rose her body and soul as white
as death.

An hour later the snowy twins stood in his empty studio, swathed in
their corpse-white winding-sheets--unstained cerements, sealing beneath
their folds her dead pride, dead hope--all that was delicate and
intimate and subtle and sweet--slain and in cerements, for his sake.

And now she must go before he returned. Her small trunk was ready; her
small account settled. With strangely weak and unsteady hands she stood
before the glass knotting her veil.

Since that night together last summer she had not spoken to him, merely
returning his low greeting in the corridor with a silent little
inclination of her head. But, although she had had no speech with him,
she had learned that he was teaching at the League now, and she knew his
hours and his movements well enough to time her own by them.

He was not due for another hour; she looked out into the snowy darkness,
drawing on her gloves and buttoning the scant fur collar close about her

The old janitor came to say good-by.

"An' God be with you, miss, this Christmas Eve"--taking the coin
irresolutely, but pocketing it for fear of hurting her.

His fingers, numbed and aged, fumbling in the pocket encountered another

"Musha, thin, I'm afther forgettin' phwat I'm here f'r to tell ye,
miss," he rambled on. "Misther Landon wishes ye f'r to know that he do
be lavin' the house"--the old man moistened his lips in an effort to
remember with all the elegance required of him--"an' Misther Landon is
wishful f'r to say a genteel good luck to ye, miss."

The girl shook her head.

"Tell Mr. Landon good-by for me, Patrick. Say--from me--God bless
him.... Will you remember?... And a--a happy Christmas."

"I will, Miss."

She touched her eyes with her handkerchief hastily, and held out her
hand to the old man.

"I think that is all," she whispered.

She was mistaken; the janitor was holding out a note to her.

"In case ye found it onconvaynient f'r to see Misther Landon, I was to
projooce the letter, Miss."

She took it; a shiver passed over her.

When the old man had shambled off down the passage she reëntered her
room, held the envelope a moment close under the lighted lamp, then
nervously tore it wide.

"_You will read this in case you refuse to say good-by to me. But I
only wanted to offer you a little gift at Christmastide--not in
reparation, for I meant no injury--but in deepest respect for you. And
so I ask you once more to wait for me. Will you?_"

Minute after minute she sat there, dumb, confused, nerves at the
breaking point, her heart and soul crying out for him. Then the memory
of what was awaiting him in his studio choked her with fright. She
sprang to her feet, and at the same moment the outer gate clanged.

Terror froze her; then she remembered that it was too early for him; it
must be the expressman for her trunk. And she went to the door and
opened it.

"Oh-h!" she breathed, shrinking back; but Landon had seen his letter in
her hand, and he followed her into the room.

He was paler than she: his voice was failing him, too, as he laid his
gift on the bare table--only a little book, prettily bound.

"Will you take it?" he asked in a colorless voice; but she could not
answer, could not move.

"I wish you a happy Christmas," he whispered. "Good-by."

She strove to meet his eyes, strove to speak, lifted her slim hand to
stay him. It fell, strength spent, in both of his.

Suddenly Time went all wrong, reeling off centuries in seconds. And
through the endless interstellar space that stretched between her world
and his she heard his voice bridging it: "I love you--I love you
dearly.... Once more I am the beggar--a beggar at Christmastide, asking
your mercy--asking more, your love. Dear, is it plain this time? Is all
clear, dearest among women?"

She looked up into his eyes; his hands tightened over hers.

"Can you love me?" he said.

"Yes," answered her eyes and the fragrant mouth assented, quivering
under his lips.

Then, without will or effort of her own, from very far away, her voice
stole back to her faintly.

"Is all this true? I have dreamed so long--so long--of loving you----"

He drew her closer; she laid both hands against his coat and hid her
face between them.

He whispered:

"It was your unselfishness, your sweetness, and--_you_--all of
you--yes--your beauty--the loveliness of you, too! I could not put it
from me; I knew that night that I loved you--and to-day they said you
were going--so I came with my Christmas gift--the sorry, sorry

"Ah!" she whispered, clinging closer. "And what of my gift--my twin
gifts--there, in your studio! Oh, you don't know, you don't know----"


"No--you can never know how much easier it had been for me to die than
to love--as I have loved a man this day."

       *       *       *       *       *

"Confound you, Williams," I said, blinking.

But he did not hear me, sitting there in a literary revery, mentally
repolishing the carefully considered paragraphs with which he had just
regaled me.



"So--they're living in Normandy."


"Jim Landon and that girl, dammit!" I said, crossly.

"Yes--oh, yes, of course. Children--bunches of 'em--and all that."



"_Was_ she so pretty?"

"Certainly," he said, absently. "Don't bother me now; I've got an idea
for another story."




"Mais tout le monde," began the chasseur of the Hôtel des
Michetons--"mais, monsieur, tout le grand monde----"

"Exactly," said I, complacently. "Le grand monde means the great world;
and," I added, "the world is a planet of no unusual magnitude, inhabited
by bipeds whose entire existence is passed in attempting to get
something for nothing."

The chasseur of the Hôtel des Michetons bowed, doubtfully.

"You request me," I continued, "not to forget you when I go away. Why
should I not forget you? Are you historical, are you antique, are you
rococo, are you a Rosacrucian?"

The chasseur, amiably perplexed, twirled his gold-banded cap between his

"Have you," I asked, "ever done one solitary thing for me besides
touching your expensive cap?"

The chasseur touched his cap, smiled, and hopefully held out his large
empty hand.

"Go to the devil," I said gently; "it is not for what you have done but
for what you have not done that I give you this silver piece," and I
paid the tribute which I despised myself for paying. Still, his gay
smile and prompt salute are certainly worth something to see, but what
their precise value may be you can only determine when, on returning to
New York, you hear a gripman curse a woman for crossing the sacred
tracks of the Metropolitan Street Railroad Company. So, with my daughter
Dulcima and my daughter Alida, and with a wagon-load of baggage, I left
the gorgeously gilded Hôtel des Michetons--for these three reasons:

Number one: it was full of Americans.

Number two: that entire section of Paris resembled a slice of the

Number three: I wanted to be rid of the New York _Herald_. Surely
somewhere in Paris there existed French newspapers, French people, and
French speech. I meant to discover them or write and complain to the

The new hotel I had selected was called the Hôtel de l'Univers. I had
noticed it while wandering out of the Luxembourg Gardens. It appeared to
be a well situated, modest, clean hotel, and not only thoroughly
respectable--which the great gilded Hôtel des Michetons was not--but
also typically and thoroughly French. So I took an apartment on the
first floor and laid my plans to dine out every evening with my

They were naturally not favourably impressed with the Hôtel de
l'Univers, but I insisted on trying it for a week, desiring that my
daughters should have at least a brief experience in a typical French

On the third day of our stay my daughters asked me why the guests at the
Hôtel de l'Univers all appeared to be afflicted in one way or another. I
myself had noticed that many of the guests wore court-plaster on hands
and faces, and some even had their hands bandaged in slings.

I thought, too, that the passers-by in the street eyed the modest hotel
with an interest somewhat out of proportion to its importance. But I set
that down to French alertness and inbred curiosity, and dismissed the
subject from my mind. The hotel was pretty clean and highly
respectable. Titled names were not wanting among the guests, and the
perfect courtesy of the proprietor, his servants, and of the guests was
most refreshing after the carelessness and bad manners of the crowds at
the Hôtel des Michetons.

"Can it be possible?" said Alida, as we three strolled out of our hotel
into the Boulevard St. Michel.

"What?" I asked.

"That we are in the Latin Quarter? Why this boulevard is beautiful, and
I had always pictured the Latin Quarter as very dreadful."

"It's the inhabitants that are dreadful," said I with a shudder as a
black-eyed young girl, in passing, gave me an amused and exceedingly
saucy smile.

The "Quarter!" It is beautiful--one of the most beautiful portions of
Paris. The Luxembourg Gardens are the centre and heart of the Latin
Quarter--these ancient gardens, with their groves of swaying chestnuts
all in bloom, quaint weather-beaten statues in a grim semicircle looking
out over the flowering almonds on the terrace to the great blue basin of
the fountain where toy yachts battle with waves almost an inch high.

Here the big drab-colored pigeons strut and coo in the sunshine, here
the carp splash in the mossy fountain of Marie de Medici, here come the
nursemaids with their squalling charges, to sit on the marble benches
and coquette with the red-trousered soldiers, who are the proper and
natural prey of all nursemaids in all climes.

"What is that banging and squeaking?" asked Alida, as we entered the
foliage of the southern terrace. "Not Punch and Judy--oh, I haven't seen
Punch since I was centuries younger! Do let us go, papa!"

Around the painted puppet box children sat, open-mouthed. Back of them
crowded parents and nurses and pretty girls and gay young officers,
while, from the pulpit, Punch held forth amid screams of infantile
delight, or banged his friends with his stick in the same old fashion
that delighted us all--centuries since.

"Such a handsome officer," said Alida under her breath.

The officer in question, a dragoon, was looking at Dulcima in that
slightly mischievous yet well-bred manner peculiar to European officers.

Dulcima did not appear to observe him.

"Why--why, that is Monsieur de Barsac, who came over on our ship!" said
Alida, plucking me by the sleeve. "Don't you remember how nice he was
when we were so--so sea--miserable? You really ought to bow to him,
papa. If you don't, I will."

I looked at the dragoon and caught his eye--such a bright, intelligent,
mischievous eye!--and I could not avoid bowing.

Up he came, sword clanking, white-gloved hand glued to the polished
visor of his crimson cap, and--the girls were delighted.

Now what do you suppose that Frenchman did? He gave up his entire day to
showing us the beauties of the Rive Gauche.

Under his generous guidance my daughters saw what few tourists see
intelligently--the New Sorbonne, with its magnificent mural decorations
by Puvis de Chavannes; we saw the great white-domed Observatory, piled
up in the sky like an Eastern temple, and the beautiful old palace of
the Luxembourg. Also, we beheld the Republican Guards, _à cheval_,
marching out of their barracks on the Rue de Tournon; and a splendid
glittering company of cavalry they were, with their silver helmets,
orange-red facings, white gauntlets, and high, polished boots--the
picked men of all the French forces, as far as physique is concerned.

In the late afternoon haze the dome of the Pantheon, towering over the
Latin Quarter, turned to purest cobalt in the sky. Under its majestic
shadow the Boulevard St. Michel ran all green and gold with gas-jets
already lighted in lamps and restaurants and the scores of students'
cafés which line the main artery of the "Quartier Latin."

"I wish," said Alida, "that it were perfectly proper for us to walk
along those terraces."

Captain de Barsac appeared extremely doubtful, but entirely at our

"You know what our students are, monsieur," he said, twisting his short
blond moustache; "however--if monsieur wishes----?"

So, with my daughters in the centre, and Captain de Barsac and myself
thrown out in strong flanking parties, we began our march.

The famous cafés of the Latin Quarter were all ablaze with electricity
and gas and colored incandescent globes. On the terraces hundreds of
tables and chairs stood, occupied by students in every imaginable
civilian costume, although the straight-brimmed stovepipe and the
_béret_ appeared to be the favorite headgear. At least a third of the
throng was made up of military students from the Polytechnic, from
Fontainebleau, and from Saint-Cyr. Set in the crowded terraces like
bunches of blossoms were chattering groups of girls--bright-eyed,
vivacious, beribboned and befrilled young persons, sipping the
petit-verre or Amer-Picon, gossiping, babbling, laughing like dainty
exotic birds. To and fro sped the bald-headed, white-aproned waiters,
balancing trays full of glasses brimming with red and blue and amber

Here was the Café d'Harcourt, all a-glitter, with music playing
somewhere inside--the favorite resort of the medical students from the
Sorbonne, according to Captain de Barsac. Here was the Café de la
Source, with its cascade of falling water and its miniature mill-wheel
turning under a crimson glow of light; here was the famous Café
Vachette, celebrated as the centre of all Latin Quarter mischief; and,
opposite to it, blazed the lights of the "CAFÉ DES BLEAUS," so called
because haunted almost exclusively by artillery officers from the great
school of Fontainebleau.

Up the boulevard and down the boulevard moved the big double-decked
tram-cars, horns sounding incessantly; cabs dashed up to the cafés,
deposited their loads of students or pretty women, then darted away
toward the river, their lamps shining like stars.

It was truly a fairy scene, with the electric lights playing on the
foliage of the trees, turning the warm tender green of the chestnut
leaves to a wonderful pale bluish tint, and etching the pavements
underfoot with exquisite Chinese shadows.

"It is a shame that this lovely scene should not be entirely
respectable," said Alida, resentfully.

"Vice," murmured de Barsac to me, "could not exist unless it were made

As far as the surface of the life before us was concerned, there was
nothing visible to shock anybody; and, under escort, there is no earthly
reason why decent women of any age should not enjoy the spectacle of the
"BOUL' MICH." on a night in springtime.

An innocent woman, married or unmarried, ought not to detect anything
unpleasant in the St. Michel district; but, alas! what is known as
"Smart Society" is so preternaturally wise in these piping times o'
wisdom, that the child is not only truly the father of the man, but also
his instructor and interpreter--to that same man's astonishment and
horror. It may always have been so--even before the days when our
theatres were first licensed to instruct our children in object lessons
of the seven deadly sins--but I cannot recollect the time when, as a
youngster, I was tolerantly familiar with the scenes now nightly offered
to our children through the courtesy of our New York theatre managers.

Slowly we turned to retrace our steps, strolling up the boulevard
through the fragrant May evening, until we came to the gilded railing
which encircles the Luxembourg Gardens from the School of Mines to the

Here Captain De Barsac took leave of us with all the delightful and
engaging courtesy of a well-bred Frenchman; and he seemed to be grateful
for the privilege of showing us about over a district as tiresomely
familiar to him as his own barracks.

I could do no less than ask him to call on us, though his devotion to
Dulcima both on shipboard and here made me a trifle wary.

"We are stopping," said I, "at the Hôtel de l'Univers----"

He started and gazed at me so earnestly that I asked him why he did so.

"The--the Hôtel de l'Univers?" he repeated, looking from me to Dulcima
and from Dulcima to Alida.

"Is it not respectable?" I demanded, somewhat alarmed.

"--But--but perfectly, monsieur. It is, of course, the very best hotel
of _that_ kind----"

"_What_ kind?" I asked.

"Why--for the purpose. Ah, monsieur, I had no idea that you came to
Paris for _that_. I am so sorry, so deeply grieved to hear it. But of
course all will be well----"

He stopped and gazed earnestly at Dulcima.

"It is not--not _you_, mademoiselle, is it?"

My children and I stared at each other in consternation.

"What in heaven's name is the matter with that hotel?" I asked.

Captain de Barsac looked startled.

"Is there anything wrong with the guests there?" asked Dulcima, faintly.

"No--oh, no--only, of course, they are all under treatment----"

"Under treatment!" I cried nervously. "For what!!!"

"Is it possible," muttered the captain, "that you went to that hotel not
knowing? Did you not notice anything peculiar about the guests there?"

"They all seem to wear court-plaster or carry their arms in slings,"
faltered Dulcima.

"And they come from all over the world--Russia, Belgium, Spain,"
murmured Alida nervously. "What do they want?"

"Thank heaven!" cried De Barsac, radiantly; "then you are not there for
the treatment!"

"Treatment for what?" I groaned.


I wound my arms around my shrinking children.

"It is the hotel where all the best people go who come to Paris for
Pasteur's treatment," he said, trying to look grave; but Dulcima threw
back her pretty head and burst into an uncontrollable gale of laughter;
and there we stood on the sidewalk, laughing and laughing while passing
students grinned in sympathy and a cloaked policeman on the corner
smiled discreetly and rubbed his chin.

That evening, after my progeny were safely asleep, casting a furtive
glance around me I slunk off to my old café--the Café Jaune. I hadn't
been there in over twenty years; I passed among crowded tables, skulked
through the entrance, and slid into my old corner as though I had never
missed an evening there.

They brought me a Bock. As I lifted the icy glass to my lips, over the
foam I beheld Williams, smiling.

"Eh bien, mon vieux?" he said, pleasantly.

"By gad, Williams, this seems natural--especially with you sitting

"It sure does," he said.

I pointed toward a leather settee. "Archie used to sit over there with
his best girl. Do you remember? And that was Dillon's seat--and Smithy
and Palmyre--Oh, Lord!--And Seabury always had that other corner."... I
paused, lost in happy reminiscences. "What has become of Jack Seabury?"
I inquired.

"The usual."


"Oh, very much."

"Where does he live."

"In Philadelphia."

I mused for a while.

"So he's married, too," I said, thoughtfully. "Well--it's a funny life,
isn't it, Williams."

"I've never seen a funnier. Seabury's marriage was funny too--I mean his

I looked up at Williams, suspiciously.

"Is this one of your professional literary stories?"

"It's a true one. What's the harm in my enveloping it in a professional

"None," I said, resignedly; "go ahead."

"All right, mon vieux."





This is a story of the Mystic Three--Fate, Chance, and Destiny; and what
happens to people who trifle with them.

It begins with a young man running after a train. He had to run.

The connection at Westport Junction was normally a close one, but now,
even before the incoming train had entirely stopped, the local on the
other line began to move out, while the engineers of the two
locomotives, leaning from their cab windows, exchanged sooty grins. It
was none of their business--this squabble between the two roads which
was making the term, "Junction," as applied to Westport, a snare and a

So the roads squabbled, and young Seabury ran. Other passengers ran,
too, amid the gibes of newsboys and the patronizing applause of station

He heard them; he also heard squeaks emitted by females whose highest
speed was a dignified and scuttering waddle. Meanwhile he was running,
and running hard through the falling snow; the ice under foot did not
aid him; his overcoat and suit-case handicapped him; the passengers on
the moving train smiled at him behind frosty windows.

One very thin man smoking a cigar rubbed his thumb on the pane in order
to see better; he was laughing, and Seabury wished him evil.

There were only two cars, and the last one was already rolling by him.
And at one of the windows of this car he saw a pretty girl in chinchilla
furs watching him curiously. Then she also smiled.

It may have been the frank amusement of a pretty woman, and it may have
been the sorrowful apathy of a red-nosed brakeman tying the loose end of
the signal rope on the rear platform; doubtless one or the other spurred
him to a desperate flying leap which landed him and his suit-case on the
rear platform of the last car. And there he stuck, too mad to speak,
until a whirlwind of snow and cinders drove him to shelter inside.

The choice of cars was limited to a combination baggage and smoker and a
more fragrant passenger coach. He selected a place in the latter across
the aisle from the attractive girl in chinchilla furs who had smiled at
his misfortunes--not very maliciously. Now, as he seated himself, she
glanced up at him without the slightest visible interest, and returned
to her study of the winter landscape.

The car was hot; he was hot. Burning thoughts concerning the insolence
of railroads made him hotter; the knowledge that he had furnished
amusement for the passengers of two trains did not cool him.

Meanwhile everybody in the car had become tired of staring at him; a
little boy across the aisle giggled his last giggle; several men resumed
their newspapers; a shopgirl remembered her gum and began chewing it

A large mottled man with a damp moustache, seated opposite him, said:
"Vell, Mister, you runned pooty quvick alretty py dot Vestport train!"

"It seems to me," observed Seabury, touching his heated face with his
handkerchief, "that the public ought to do something."

"Yaw; der bublic it runs," said the large man, resuming his eyeglasses
and holding his newspaper nearer to the window in the fading light.

Seabury smiled to himself and ventured to glance across the aisle in
time to see the dawning smile in the blue eyes of his neighbor die out
instantly as he turned. It was the second smile he had extinguished
since his appearance aboard the train.

The conductor, a fat, unbuttoned, untidy official, wearing spectacles
and a walrus moustache, came straddling down the aisle. He looked over
the tops of his spectacles at Seabury doubtfully.

"I managed to jump aboard," explained the young man, smiling.

"Tickuts!" returned the conductor without interest.

"I haven't a ticket; I'll pay----"

"Sure," said the conductor; "vere you ged owid?"


"Vere do you ged _owid_?"

"Oh, where do I get _out_? I'm going to Beverly----"

"Peverly? Sefenty-vive cends."

"Not to Peverly, to Beverly----"

"Yaw, Peverly----"

"No, no; Beverly! not Peverly----"

"Aind I said Peverly alretty? Sefenty-vive----"

"Look here; there's a Beverly and a Peverly on this line, and I don't
want to go to Peverly and I do want to go to Beverly----"

"You go py Peverly und you don'd go py Beverly alretty! Sure!
Sefenty-vive ce----"

The young man cast an exasperated glance across the aisle in time to
catch a glimpse of two deliciously blue eyes suffused with mirth. And
instantly, as before, the mirth died out. As an extinguisher of smiles
he was a success, anyway; and he turned again to the placid conductor
who was in the act of punching a ticket.

"Wait! Hold on! Don't do that until I get this matter straight! Now, do
you understand where I wish to go?"

"You go py Peverly----"

"No, Beverly! Beverly! _Beverly_," he repeated in patiently studied

The large mottled man with the damp moustache looked up gravely over his
newspaper: "Yaw, der gonductor he also says Peverly."

"But Peverly isn't Beverly----"

"Aind I said it blenty enough dimes?" demanded the conductor, becoming

"But you haven't said it right yet!" insisted Seabury.

The conductor was growing madder and madder. "Peverly! Peverly!!
_Peverly!!!_ In Gottes Himmel, don'd you English yet alretty
understandt? Sefenty-vive cends! Und"--here he jammed a seat check into
the rattling windows-sill--"Und ven I sez Peverly it iss Peverly, und
ven I sez Beverly it iss Beverly, und ven I sez sefenty-vive cends so
iss it sefenty-vi----"

Seabury thrust three silver quarters at him; it was impossible to pursue
the subject; madness lay in that direction. And when the affronted
conductor, mumbling muffled indignation, had straddled off down the
aisle, the young man took a cautious glance at the check in the
window-sill. But on it was printed only, "Please show this to the
conductor," so he got no satisfaction there. He had mislaid his
time-table, too, and the large mottled man opposite had none, and began
an endless and patient explanation which naturally resulted in nothing,
as his labials were similar to the conductor's; even more so.





Turning to the man behind him Seabury attempted to extract a little
information, and the man was very affable and anxious to be of help, but
all he could do was to nod and utter Teutonic gutturals through a bushy
beard with a deep, buzzing sound, and Seabury sank back, beaten and

"Good Lord!" he muttered to himself, "is the entire Fatherland
travelling on this accursed car! I--I've half a mind----"

He stole a doubtful sidelong glance at his blue-eyed neighbor across the
aisle, but she was looking out of her own window this time, her cheeks
buried in the fur of her chinchilla muff.

"And after all," he reflected, "if I ask her, she might turn out to be
of the same nationality." But it was not exactly that which prevented

The train was slowing down; sundry hoarse toots from the locomotive
indicated a station somewhere in the vicinity.

"Plue Pirt Lake! Change heraus für Bleasant Falley!" shouted the
conductor, opening the forward door. He lingered long enough to glare
balefully at Seabury, then, as nobody apparently cared either to get out
at Blue Bird Lake or change for Pleasant Valley, he slammed the door and
jerked the signal rope; the locomotive emitted a scornful Teutonic
grunt; the train moved forward into the deepening twilight of the
December night.

The snow was now falling more heavily--it was light enough to see
that--a fine gray powder sifting down out of obscurity, blowing past the
windows in misty streamers.

The bulky man opposite breathed on the pane, rubbed it with a thumb like
a pincushion, and peered out.

"Der next station iss Beverly," he said.

"The next is Peverly?"

"No, der next iss _B_everly; und der nextest iss Peverly.

"Then, if I am going to Beverly, I get out at the next station, don't
I?" stammered the perplexed young fellow, trying to be polite.

The man became peevish. "Nun, wass ist es?" he growled. "I dell you
Peverly und you say Beverly. Don'd I know vat it iss I say alretty?"

"Yes--but _I_ don't----"

"Also, you ged owid vere you tam blease!" retorted the incensed
passenger, and resumed his newspaper, hunching himself around to present
nothing to Seabury except a vast expanse of neck and shoulder.

Seabury, painfully embarrassed, let it go at that. Probably the poor man
_had_ managed to enunciate the name of the station properly; no doubt
the next stop was Beverly, after all. He was due there at 6.17. He
looked at his watch. It was a quarter past six already. The next stop
_must_ be Beverly--supposing the train to be on time.

And already the guttural warning of the locomotive sounded from the
darkness ahead; already he sensed the gritting resistance of the brakes.

Permitting himself a farewell and perfectly inoffensive glance across
the aisle, he perceived her of the blue eyes and chinchilla furs
preparing for departure; and, what he had not before noticed, her maid
in the seat behind her, gathering a dainty satchel, umbrella, and
suit-case marked C. G.

So she was going to Beverly, too! He hoped she might be bound for the
Christmas Eve frolic at the Austins'. It was perfectly possible--in
fact, probable.

He was a young man whose optimism colored his personal wishes so vividly
that sometimes what he desired became presently, in his imagination, a
charming and delightful probability. And already his misgivings
concerning the proper name of the next station had vanished. He _wanted_
Beverly to be the next station, and already it was, for him. Also, he
had quite made up his mind that she of the chinchillas was bound for the

A cynical blast from the locomotive; a jerking pull of brakes, and, from
the forward smoker, entered the fat conductor.

"Beverly! Beverly!" he shouted.

So he, too, had managed to master his _P's_ and _B's_, concluded the
young man, smiling to himself as he rose, invested himself with his
heavy coat, and picked up his suit-case.

The young lady of the chinchillas had already left the car, followed by
her maid, before he stepped into the aisle ready for departure.

A shadow of misgiving fell upon him when, glancing politely at his
fellow-passenger, he encountered only a huge sneer, and concluded that
the nod of courtesy was superfluous.

Also he hesitated as he passed the fat conductor, who was glaring at
him, mouth agape--hesitated a moment only, then, realizing the dreadful
possibilities of reopening the subject, swallowed his question in

"It's _got_ to be Beverly, now," he thought, making his way to the snowy
platform and looking about him for some sign of a conveyance which might
be destined for him. There were several sleighs and depot-wagons
there--a number of footmen bustling about in furs.

"I'll just glance at the name of the station to be sure," he thought to
himself, peering up through the thickly descending snow where the name
of the station ought to be. And, as he stepped out to get a good view,
he backed into a fur-robed footman, who touched his hat in hasty

"Oh, Bailey! Is that you?" said Seabury, relieved to encounter one of
Mrs. Austin's men.

"Yes, sir. Mr. Seabury, sir! Were you expected----?"

"Certainly," nodded the young man gayly, abandoning his suit-case to the
footman and following him to a big depot-sleigh.

And there, sure enough, was his lady of the chinchillas, nestling under
the robes to her pretty chin, and her maid on the box with the
coachman--a strangely fat coachman--no doubt a new one to replace old

When Seabury came up the young lady turned and looked at him, and he
took off his hat politely, and she acknowledged his presence very
gravely and he seated himself decorously, and the footman swung to the

Then the chiming silver sleigh-bells rang out through the snow, the
magnificent pair of plumed horses swung around the circle under the
bleared lights of the station and away they speeded into snowy darkness.

A decent interval of silence elapsed before he considered himself at
liberty to use a traveller's privilege. Then he said something
sufficiently commonplace to permit her the choice of conversing or
remaining silent. She hesitated; she had never been particularly wedded
to silence. Besides, she was scarcely twenty--much too young to be
wedded to anything. So she said something, with perfect composure, which
left the choice to him. And his choice was obvious.

"I have no idea how far it is; have you?" he asked.

"Yes," she said coolly.

"This is a jolly sleigh," he continued with unimpaired cheerfulness.

She thought it comfortable. And for a while the conversation clung so
closely around the sleigh that it might have been run over had not he
dragged it into another path.

"Isn't it amazing how indifferent railroads are to the convenience of
their passengers?"

She turned her blue eyes on him; there was the faintest glimmer in their

"I know you saw me running after that train," he said, laughingly
attempting to break the ice.


"Certainly. And it amused you, I think."

She raised her eyebrows a trifle. "What is there amusing about that?"

"But you _did_ smile--at least I thought so."

Evidently she had no comment to offer. She _was_ hard to talk to. But he
tried again.

"The fact is, I never expected to catch your--that train. It was only
when I saw--saw"--he floundered on the verge of saying "you," but veered
off hastily--"when I saw that brakeman's expression of tired contempt, I
simply sailed through the air like a--a--like a--one of those--er you

"Do you mean kangaroos?" she ventured so listlessly that the quick flush
of chagrin on his face died out again; because it was quite impossible
that such infantine coldness and candour could be secretly trifling with
his dignity.

"It was a long jump," he concluded gayly, "but I did some jumping at
Harvard and I made it and managed to hold on."

"You were very fortunate," she said, smiling for the first time.

And, looking at her, he thought he was; and he admitted it so blandly
that he overdid the part. But he didn't know that.

"I fancy," he continued, "that everybody on that train except you and I
were Germans. Such a type as sat opposite me----"

"Which car were you in?" she asked simply.

"Why--in your car----"

"In _my_ car?"

"Why--er--yes," he explained; "you were sitting across the aisle, you

"Was I?" she asked with pleasant surprise; "across the aisle from you?"

He grew red; he had certainly supposed that she had noticed him enough
to identify him again. Evidently she had not. Mistakes like that are
annoying. Every man instinctively supposes himself enough of an entity
to be noticed by a pretty woman.

"I had no end of trouble of finding out where Beverly was," he said
after a minute.

"Oh! And how did you find out?"

"I didn't until I backed into Bailey, yonder.... Do you know that I had
a curious sort of presentiment that I should find you in this sleigh?"

"That is strange," she said. "When did you have it?"

"In the car--long before you got off."

She thought it most remarkable--rather listlessly.

"Those things happen, you know," he went on; "like thinking of a person
you don't expect to see, and looking up and suddenly seeing that very
person walking along."

"How does that resemble your case?" she asked.

It didn't. He realised it even before he began to try to explain the
similarity. It really didn't matter one way or the other; it was nothing
to turn red about, but he was turning. Somehow or other she managed to
say things that never permitted that easy, graceful flow of language
which characterised him in his normal state. Somehow or other, he felt
that he was not doing himself justice. He could converse well enough
with people as a rule. Something in that topsy-turvy and maddeningly
foolish colloquy with those Germans must have twisted his tongue or
unbalanced his logic.

"As a matter of fact," he said, "there's no similarity between the two
cases except the basic idea of premonition."

She had been watching him disentangle himself with bright eyes in which
something was sparkling--perhaps sympathy and perhaps not. It may have
been the glimmer of malice. Perhaps she thought him just a trifle too
ornamental--for he certainly was a very good-looking youth--perhaps
something in the entire episode appealed to her sense of mischief.
Probably even she herself could not explain just why she had thought it
funny to see him running for his train, and later entangling himself in
a futile word-fest with the conductor and the large mottled man.

"So," she said thoughtfully, "you were obsessed by a premonition."

"Not--er--exactly obsessed," he said suspiciously. Then his face
cleared. How could anybody be suspicious of such sweetly inquiring
frankness? "You see," he admitted, "that I--well, I rather hoped you
would be going to the Austins'."

"The _Austins'_!" she repeated.

"Yes. I--I couldn't help speculating----"

"About me?" she asked. "Why should you?"

"I--there was no reason, of course, only I k-kept seeing you without
trying to----"


"Certainly. I couldn't help seeing you, could I?"

"Not if you were looking at me," she murmured, pressing her muff to her
face. Perhaps she was cold.

Again it occurred to him that there was something foolish in her reply.
Certainly she was a little difficult to talk to. But then she was
young--very young and--close enough to being a beauty to excuse herself
from any overstrenuous claim to intellectuality.

"Yes," he said kindly and patiently, "I did see you, and I did hope that
you were going to the Austins'. And then I bumped into somebody and
there you were. I don't mean," as she raised her pretty eyebrows--"mean
that you were Bailey. Good Lord, _what_ is the matter with my tongue!"
he said, flushing with annoyance. "I don't talk this way usually."

"Don't you?" she managed to whisper behind her muff.

"No, I don't. That conductor's jargon seems to have inoculated me. You
will probably not believe it, but I _can_ talk the English tongue

She was laughing now--a clear, delicious, irrepressible little peal that
rang sweetly in the frosty air, harmonising with the chiming
sleigh-bells. And he laughed, too, still uncomfortably flushed.

"Do you think it would help if we began all over again?" she asked,
looking wickedly at him over her muff. "Let me see--you had an obsession
which turned into a premonition that bumped Bailey and you found it
wasn't Bailey at all, but a stranger in chinchillas who was going
to--_where_ did you say she was going? Oh, to the Austins'! _That_ is
clear, isn't it?"

"About as clear as anything that's happened to me to-night," he said.

"A snowy night does make a difference," she reflected.

"A--a difference?"

"Yes--doesn't it?" she asked innocently.

"I--in _what_?"

"In clearness. Things are clearer by daylight?"

"I don't see--I--exactly how--as a matter of fact I don't follow you at
all," he said desperately. "You say things--and they sound all
right--but somehow my answers seem queer. _Do_ you suppose that German
conversation has mentally twisted me?"

Her eyes above the fluffy fur of her muff were bright as stars, but she
did not laugh.

"Suppose," she said, demurely, "that _you_ choose a subject of
conversation and try to make sense of it. If you _are_ mentally twisted
it will be good practice."

"And you will--you won't say things--I mean things not germane to the

"Did you say German?"

"No, germane."

"Oh! Have _I_ been irrelevant, too?"

"Well, you mixed up mental clarity with snowy nights. Of course it was a
little joke--I saw that soon enough; I'd have seen it at once, only I
_am_ rather upset and nervous after that German experience."





She considered him with guileless eyes. He was _too_ good-looking, too
attractive, too young, and far too much pleased with himself. That was
the impression he gave her. And, as he was, in addition, plainly one of
her own sort, a man she was likely to meet anywhere--a well-bred,
well-mannered and agreeable young fellow, probably a recent
undergraduate, which might account for his really inoffensive
breeziness--she felt perfectly at ease with him and safe enough to
continue imprudently her mischief.

"If you are going to begin at the beginning," she said, "perhaps it
might steady your nerves to repeat your own name very slowly and
distinctly. Physicians recommend it sometimes," she added seriously.

"My name is John Seabury," he said, laughing. "Am I lucid?"

"Lucid so far," she said gravely. "I knew a Lily Seabury----"

"My sister. She's in Paris."

"Yes, I knew that, too," mused the girl, looking at him in a different
light--different in this way that his credentials were now
unquestionable, and she could be as mischievous as she pleased with the
minimum of imprudence.

"Do you ever take the advice of physicians," he asked naïvely, "about
repeating names?"

"Seldom," she said. "I don't require the treatment."

"I was only wondering----"

"You were wondering what C. G. stood for on my satchel? I will be very
glad to tell you, Mr. Seabury. _C_ stands for Cecil, and _G_ for Gay;
Cecil Gay. Is that lucid?"

"Cecil!" he said; "that's a man's name."

"How rude! It is _my_ name. Now, do you think your mental calibre
requires any more re-boring?"

"Oh, you know about calibres and things. Do you shoot? I _can_ talk
about dogs and guns. Listen to me, Miss Gay." The subject shifted from
shooting to fishing, and from hunting to driving four-in-hand, and
eventually came back to the horses and the quaint depot-sleigh which was
whirling them so swiftly toward their destination.

"Jack Austin and I were in Paris," he observed.


"Last year."

"I thought so."

"Why?" he asked.

"Oh, I suppose it was one of those obsessed premonitions----"

"You are laughing at me, Miss Gay."

"Am I? Why?"

"Why? How on earth is a man to know why? _I_ don't know why you do it,
but you do--all the time."

"Not _all_ the time, Mr. Seabury, because I don't know you well enough."

"But you know my sister!"

"Yes. She is a dear."

"Won't that introduce me? And, besides, you know Jack Austin----"

"No, I don't."

"Isn't that odd?" he said. "You don't know Jack Austin and I don't know
Mrs. Austin. It was nice of her to ask me. They say she is one of the
best ever."

"It was certainly nice of her to ask you," said the girl, eyes
brightening over her muff.

"I was in Europe when they were married," he said. "I suppose you were

"No, I wasn't. That sounds rather strange, doesn't it?"

"Why, yes, rather!" he replied, looking up at her in his boyish,
perplexed way. And for a moment her heart failed her; he _was_ nice, but
also he was a living temptation. Never before in all her brief life had
she been tempted to do to anybody what she was doing to him. She had
often been imprudent in a circumspect way--conventionally unconventional
at times--even a little daring. At sheer audacity she had drawn the
line, and now the impulse to cross that line had been too much for her.
But even she did not know exactly why temptation had overcome her.

There was something that she ought to tell him--and tell him at once.
Yet, after all, it was really already too late to tell him--had been too
late from the first. Fate, Chance and Destiny, the Mystic Three,
disguised, as usual, one as a German conductor; one as a large mottled
man; the other as a furry footman had been bumped by Seabury and jeered
at by a girl wearing dark blue eyes and chinchillas. And now the
affronted Three were taking exclusive charge of John Seabury and Cecil
Gay. She was partly aware of this; she did not feel inclined to
interfere where interference could do no good. And that being the case,
why not extract amusement from matters as they stood? Alas, it is not
well to laugh at the Mystic Three! But Cecil Gay didn't know that. You
see, even _she_ didn't know everything.

       *       *       *       *       *

"You will like Jack Austin," he asserted.


"I'm willing to bet----"

"Oh, wait till we know one another officially before we begin to make
wagers.... Still, I might, perhaps safely wager that I shall not find
your friend Jack Austin very agreeable to-night."

So they settled the terms of the wager; cigarettes versus the inevitable

"Everybody likes Jack Austin on sight," he said triumphantly, "so you
may as well send the cigarettes when you are ready;" and he mentioned
the brand.

"You will never smoke those cigarettes," she mused aloud, looking
dreamily at him, her muff pressed alongside of her pretty cheek. "Tell
me, Mr. Seabury, are you vindictive?"

"Not very."


"Well--no, I don't think so," he replied. "Why?"

"I'm much relieved," she said, simply.


"Because I've done a dreadful thing--perfectly dreadful."

"To me?"

She nodded.

Perplexed and curious, he attempted to learn what she meant, but she
parried everything smiling. And now, the faster the horses sped, the
faster her pulses beat, and the more uncertain and repentant she became
until her uncertainty increased to a miniature panic, and, thoroughly
scared, she relapsed into a silence from which he found it beyond his
powers to lure her.

For already a bright light was streaming out toward them from somewhere
ahead. In its rays the falling snow turned golden, every separate flake
distinct as they passed a great gate with the lodge beside it and went
spinning away along a splendid wooded avenue and then straight up toward
a great house, every window ablaze with light.

John Seabury jumped out and offered his aid to Cecil Gay as several
servants appeared under the porte-cochère.

"I had no idea that Jack Austin lived so splendidly," he whispered to
Miss Gay, as they entered the big hall.

But she was past speech now--a thoroughly scared girl; and she lost no
time in following a maid into the elevator, whither Seabury presently
followed her in tow of a man-servant.

"Luxury! Great Scott," thought Seabury. "This dubbing a palace a cottage
is the worse sort of affectation, and I'll tell Jack Austin so, too."

The elevator stopped; the doors clicked open; Seabury turned smilingly
to Cecil Gay, but she hurried past him, crimson-cheeked, head bent, and
he followed his pilot to his room.

"Dinner is hannounced at 'awf awfter height, sir," announced the man
with dignity.

"Thank you," said Seabury, watching a valet do sleight-of-hand tricks
with the contents of his suit-case. And when he was alone he hopped
nimbly out of his apparel and into a bath and out again in a high state
of excitement, talking to himself all the while he was dressing.

"Good old Jack! The Mrs. must have had the means to do this sort of
thing so well. I'm delighted!--de--lighted!... If ever a man deserved
affluence, it's Jack Austin! It suits him. It will do him good. It
becomes him.... Plucky fellow to go on grinding at the law!... Only
thing to do, of course--decent thing to do--self-respect and all
that.... But, by jingo!"--he looked about him as he stood buttoning his
collar. "Hah!" stepping to the wall and examining a picture--"Great
Jenkins!--why, here's a real Fortuny--in a _bedroom_!"

He cared for good pictures, and he stood before the exquisite aquarelle
as long as he dared. Then, glancing at his watch, he completed his
toilet, opened his door, and, scorning the lift, fled blithely down the
great staircase on pleasing bent--and on being pleased.

A big drawing-room, charmingly lighted, and gay already with the chatter
and laughter of a very jolly throng--this is what confronted him as a
servant offered him a tray containing cards.

"I don't see my name here," he said, examining the slim envelopes.

"Beg pardon, sir--what name, sir?"

"Mr. Seabury."

The servant looked and Seabury looked in vain.

"An oversight," commented the young fellow, coolly. "I'll ask Mrs.
Austin about it." And he walked in, and, singling out the hostess,
advanced with smiling confidence, thinking to himself: "She _is_ pretty;
Jack's right. But--but, by George!--she looks like Cecil Gay!"

His hostess received him very charmingly, saying that it was so good of
him to come; and he said it was so good of her to have asked him, and
then they said several similar things. He spoke of Jack--mentioning him
and continuing to another subject; and she smiled a trifle uncertainly.
Her smile was still more vague and uncertain when he laughingly
mentioned the dinner-cards; and she said it was a vexing oversight and
would be immediately arranged--glancing rather sharply at an amiable
gentleman standing near her. And this amiable gentleman came up to
Seabury and shook hands very cordially, and said several agreeable
things to which Seabury responded, until new arrivals separated him from
his hostess and the amiable gentleman, and he fell back and glanced
about him. And, after a little while an odd expression came into his
eyes; he stood very still; a slight flush slowly spread over his face
which had grown firmer. In a few moments the color went as it had come,
slowly; the faint glitter died out in his eyes.

There were several people he knew among the guests; he nodded quietly to
young Van Guilder, to Brimwell and others, then crossed to speak to
Catherine Hyland and Dorothy Minster. He was very agreeable, but a
little distrait. He seemed to have something on his mind.

Meanwhile his hostess was saying to her husband: "Who _is_ that, Jim?"
And her husband said: "You can search me. Didn't you ask him?" And his
wife responded: "He's talking to nearly everybody. It's curious, isn't
it?" Here she was interrupted by the flushed entrance of her unmarried
sister, Cecil Gay.

Meanwhile, Seabury was saying coolly: "I haven't seen Jack yet."

"Jack?" repeated Dorothy Minster. "Which Jack?"

"Jack Austin."

"Oh," said Miss Minster, who did not know him; "is he to be here?"

But Seabury only smiled vaguely. His mind, his eyes, his attention were
fixed upon a vision of loveliness in the foreground--a charmingly
flushed young girl who knew everybody and was evidently a tremendous
favorite, judging from the gay greetings, the little volleys of
laughter, and the animated stirring of groups among which she passed.

Watching her, quite oblivious to his surroundings, the servant at his
elbow was obliged to cough discreetly half a dozen times and repeat "Beg
pardon, sir," before he turned to notice the silver salver extended.

"Oh--thank you," he said, picking up an envelope directed, "Mr.
Seabury," and opening it. Then a trifle surprised but smiling, he turned
to find the girl whose name was written on the card. She was speaking to
the hostess and the amiable man who had first greeted him. And this is
what he didn't hear as he watched her, waiting grimly for a chance at

"Cecil! _Who_ is that very young man?"

"Betty, how should _I_ know----"

"Look here, Cis," from the amiable gentleman; "this is some of your

"Oh, _thank_ you, Jim!"

"Yes, it is. Who is he and where did you rope him?"


"Cecil! What nonsense is this?" demanded her hostess and elder sister.
"How did he get here and who is he?"

"I did _not_ bring him, Betty. He simply came?"


"In the depot-sleigh, of course----"

"With _you_?"

"Certainly. He wanted to come. He _would_ come! I couldn't turn him out,
could I--after he climbed in?"

Host and hostess glared at their flushed and defiant relative, who tried
to look saucy, but only looked scared. "_He_ doesn't know he's made a
mistake," she faltered; "and there's no need to tell him yet--is
there?... I put my name down on his card; he'll take me in.... Jim,
don't, for Heaven's sake, say anything if he calls Betty Mrs. Austin.
Oh, Jim, be decent, please! I _was_ a fool to do it; I don't know what
possessed me! Wait until to-morrow before you say anything! Besides, he
may be furious! Please wait until I'm out of the house. He'll breakfast
late, I hope; and I promise you I'll be up early and off by the seven
o'clock train----"

"In Heaven's name, who _is_ he?" broke in the amiable man so fiercely
that Cecil jumped.

"He's only Lily Seabury's brother," she said, meekly, "and he thinks
he's at the Austins'--and he might as well be, because he knows half the
people here, and I've simply _got_ to keep him out of their way so that
nobody can tell him where he is. Oh, Betty--I've spoiled my own
Christmas fun, and his, too! _Is_ there any way to get him to the
Austins' now?'

"The Jack Austins' of Beverly!" exclaimed her sister, incredulously. "Of
course not!"

"And you _let_ him think he was on his way there?" demanded her
brother-in-law. "Well--you--are--the--limit!"

"So is _he_," murmured the abashed maid, slinking back to give place to
a new and last arrival. Then she turned her guilty face in a sort of
panic of premonition. She was a true prophetess; Seabury had seen his
chance and was coming. And _that's_ what comes of mocking the Mystic
Three and cutting capers before High Heaven.




He had taken her in and was apparently climbing rapidly through the
seven Heavens of rapture--having arrived as far as the third unchecked
and without mishap. It is not probable that she kept pace with him: she
had other things to think of.

Dinner was served at small tables; and it required all her will, all her
limited experience, every atom of her intelligence, to keep him from
talking about things that meant exposure for her. Never apparently had
he been so flattered by any individual girl's attention; she was gay,
witty, audacious, charming, leading and carrying every theme to a
scintillating conclusion.

The other four people at their table he had not before met--she had seen
to that--and it proved to be a very jolly group, and there was a steady,
gay tumult of voices around it, swept by little gusts of laughter; and
he knew perfectly well that he had never had such a good time as he was
having--had never been so clever, so interesting, so quick with his wit,
so amusing. He had never seen such a girl as had been allotted to
him--never! Besides, something else had nerved him to do his best. And
he was doing it.

"It's a curious thing," he said, with that odd new smile of his, "what a
resemblance there is between you and Mrs. Austin."

"What Mrs. Austin?" began the girl opposite; but got no further, for
Cecil Gay was appealing to him to act as arbiter in a disputed Bridge
question; and he did so with nice discrimination and a logical
explanation which tided matters over that time. But it was a close call;
and the color had not all returned to Cecil's cheeks when he finished,
with great credit to his own reputation as a Bridge expert.

But the very deuce seemed to possess him to talk on subjects from which
she strove to lead him.

These are the other breaks he made, and as far as he got with each
break--stopped neatly every time in time:

"Curious I haven't seen Jack Aus----"

"Mrs. Austin _does_ resemble----"

"This is the first time I have ever been in Bev----"

And each time she managed to repair the break unnoticed. But it was
telling on her; she couldn't last another round--she knew that. Only the
figurative bell could save her now. And she could almost _hear_ it as
her sister rose.

Saved! But--but--_what_ might some of these men say to him if he
lingered here for coffee and cigarettes?

"You won't, will you?" she said desperately, as all rose.

"Won't--what?" he asked.


He rapidly made his way from the third into the fourth Heaven. She
watched him.

"No, indeed," he said under his breath.

She lingered, fascinated by her own peril. _Could_ she get him away at

"I--I wonder, Mr. Seabury, what you would think if I--if I suggested
that you smoke--smoke--on the stairs--now--with me?"

He hastily scrambled out of the fourth Heaven into the fifth. She saw
him do it.

"I'd rather smoke there than anywhere in the world----"

"Quick, then! Saunter over to the door--stroll about a little first--no,
don't do even that!--I--I mean--you'd better hurry. _Please!_" She cast
a rapid look about her; she could not linger another moment. Then,
concentrating all the sweetness and audacity in her, and turning to him,
she gave him one last look. It was sufficient to send him in one wild,
flying leap from the fifth Heaven plump into the sixth. The sixth Heaven
was on the stairs; and his legs carried him thither at a slow and
indifferent saunter, though it required every scrap of his self-control
to prevent his legs from breaking into a triumphant trot. Yet all the
while that odd smile flickered, went out, and flickered in his eyes.

She was there, very fluffy, very brilliant, and flustered and adorable,
the light from the sconces playing over her bare arms and shoulders and
spinning all sorts of aureoles around her bright hair. Hah! She had him
alone now. She was safe; she could breathe again. And he might harp on
the Austins all he chose. Let him!

"No, _I_ can't have cigarettes," she explained, "because it isn't good
for my voice. I'm supposed to possess a voice, you know."

"It's about the sweetest voice I ever heard," he said so sincerely that
the bright tint in her cheeks deepened.

"That is nicer than a compliment," she said, looking at him with a
little laugh of pleasure. He nodded, watching the smoke rings drifting
through the hall.

"Do you know something?" he said.

"Not very much. What?"

"If I were a great matrimonial prize----"

"You are, aren't you?"

"_If_ I was," he continued, ignoring her, "like a king or a grand


"I'd invite a grand competition for my hand and heart----"

"We'd all go, Mr. Seabury----"

"----And then I'd stroll about among them all----"

"Certainly--among the competing millions."

"Among the millions--blindfolded----"




"----Blindfolded!" he repeated with emphasis. "I would choose a
_voice_!--before everything else in the world."

"Oh," she said, rather faintly.

"A voice," he mused, looking hard at the end of his cigarette which had
gone out: and the odd smile began to flicker in his eyes again.

Mischief prompting, she began: "I wonder what chance I should have in
your competition? First prize I couldn't aspire to, but--there would be
a sort of booby prize--wouldn't there, Mr. Seabury?"

"There would be only one prize----"


"And that would be the booby prize; the prize booby." And he smiled his
odd smile and laid his hand rather gracefully over his heart. "You have
won him, Miss Gay."

She looked at him prepared to laugh, but, curiously enough, there was
less of the booby about him as she saw him there than she had
expected--a tall, clean-cut, attractive young fellow, with a well-shaped
head and nice ears--a man, not a boy, after all--pleasant, amiably
self-possessed, and of her own sort, as far as breeding showed.

Gone was the indescribably indefinite suggestion of _too_ good looks, of
latent self-sufficiency. He no longer struck her as being pleased with
himself, of being a shade--just a shade--too sure of himself. A change,
certainly; and to his advantage. Kindness, sympathy, recognition make
wonderful changes in some people.

"I'll tell you what I'd do if I were queen, and"--she glanced at him--"a
matrimonial prize.... Shall I?"

"Why be both?" he asked.

"That rings hollow, Mr. Seabury, after your tribute to my voice!...
Suppose I were queen. _I'd_ hold a caucus, too. Please say you'd come."

"Oh, I am already there!"

"_That_ won't help you; it isn't first come, first served at _my_
caucus!... So, suppose millions of suitors were all sitting around
twisting their fingers in abashed hopeful silence."


"_What_ do you think I'd do, Mr. Seabury?"

"Run. _I_ should."

"No; I should make them a speech--a long one--oh, dreadfully long and
wearisome. I should talk and talk and talk, and repeat myself, and pile
platitude on platitude, and maunder on and on and on. And about
luncheon-time I should have a delicious repast served me, and I'd
continue my speech as I ate. And after that I'd ramble on and on until
dinner-time. And I should dine magnificently up there on the dais, and,
between courses, I'd continue my speech----"

"You'd choose the last man to go to sleep," he said simply.

"_How_ did you guess it!" she exclaimed, vexed. "I--it's too bad for you
to know _everything_, Mr. Seabury."

"I thought you were convinced that I didn't know _anything_?" he said,
looking up at her. His voice was quiet--too quiet; his face grave,
unsmiling, firm.

"I? Mr. Seabury, I don't understand you."

He folded his hands and rested his chin on the knuckles. "But I
understand you, Miss Gay. Tell me"--the odd smile flickered and went
out--"_Tell me, in whose house am I?_"

Sheer shame paralyzed her; wave on wave of it crimsoned her to the hair.
She sat there in deathly silence; he coolly lighted another cigarette,
dropped one elbow on his knee, propping his chin in his open palm.

"I'm curious to know--if you don't mind," he added pleasantly.

"Oh--h!" she breathed, covering her eyes suddenly with both hands. She
pressed the lids for a moment steadily, then her hands fell to her lap,
and she faced him, cheeks aflame.

"I--I have no excuse," she stammered--"nothing to say for myself ...
except I did not understand what a--a common--dreadful--insulting thing
I was doing----"

He waited; then: "I am not angry, Miss Gay."

"N-not angry? You are! You must be! It was too mean--too

"Please don't. Besides, I took possession of your sleigh. Bailey did the
business for me. I didn't know he had left the Austins, of course."

She looked up quickly; there was a dimness in her eyes, partly from
earnestness; "I did not know you had made a mistake until you spoke of
the Austins," she said. "And then something whispered to me not to tell
you--to let you go on--something possessed me to commit this folly----"

"Oh, no; _I_ committed it. Besides, we were more than half-way here,
were we not?"


"And there's only one more train for Beverly, and I couldn't possibly
have made that, even if we had turned back!"

"Y-yes. Mr. Seabury, _are_ you trying to defend me?"

"You need no defense. You were involved through no fault of your own in
a rather ridiculous situation. And you simply, and like a philosopher,
extracted what amusement there was in it."

"Mr. Seabury! You shall not be so--so generous. I have cut a wretchedly
undignified figure----"

"You couldn't!"

"I could--I have--I'm doing it!"

"You are doing something else, Miss Gay."


"Making it very, very hard for me to go."

"But you can't go! You mustn't! Do you think I'd let you go--_now_? Not
if the Austins lived next door! I mean it, Mr. Seabury. I--I simply must
make amends--all I can----"

"Amends? You have."

"I? How?"

"By being here with me."

"Th-that is--is very sweet of you, Mr. Seabury, but I--but they--but
you--Oh! I don't know what I'm trying to say, except that I like
you--_they_ will like you--and everybody knows Lily Seabury. Please,
please forgive----"

"I'm going to telephone to Beverly.... Will you wait--_here_?"

"Ye-yes. Wh-what are you going to telephone? You can't go, you know.
Please don't try--will you?"

"No," he said, looking down at her.

Things were happening swiftly--everything was happening in an
instant--life, youth, time, all were whirling and spinning around her in
bewildering rapidity; and her pulses, too, leaping responsive, drummed
cadence to her throbbing brain.

She saw him mount the stairs and disappear--no doubt to his room, for
there was a telephone there. Then, before she realized the lapse of
time, he was back again, seating himself quietly beside her on the broad

"Shall I tell you what I am going to do?" he said after a silence
through which the confused sense of rushing unreality had held her mute.

"Wh-what are you going to do?"

"Walk to Beverly."

"Mr. Seabury! You promised----"

"Did I?"

"You did! It is snowing terribly.... It is miles and miles and the snow
is already too deep. Besides, do you think I--we would let you _walk_!
But you shall not go--and there are horses enough, too! No, no, no! I--I
wish you would let me try to make up _something_ to you--if I--all that
I can possibly make up."

"At the end of the hall above there's a window," he said slowly. "Prove
to me that the snow is too deep."

"Prove it?" She sprang up, gathering her silken skirts and was on the
landing above before he could rise.

He found her, smiling, triumphant, beside the big casement at the end of
the hallway.

"Now are you convinced?" she said. "Just look at the snowdrifts. Are you

"No," he said, quietly--too quietly by far. She looked up at him, a
quick protest framed on her red lips. Something--perhaps the odd glimmer
in his eyes--committed her to silence. From silence the stillness grew
into tension; and again the rushing sense of unreality surged over them
both, leaving their senses swimming.

"There is only one thing in the world I care for now," he said.


"And that is to have you think well of me."

"I--I do."

"--And each day--think better of me."


"And in the end----"

She neither stirred nor turned her eyes.

"--In the end--_Listen_ to me."

"I am wi-willing to."

[Illustration: "'Only one person in the world can ever matter to

"Because it will be then as it is now; as it was when even I didn't know
it--as it must be always, for me. Only one person in the world can ever
matter to me--now.... There's no escape from it for me."

"Do--do you wish to--escape?"

"Cecil!" he said under his breath.

       *       *       *       *       *

"They're dancing, below," she said leaning over the gallery, one soft
white hand on the polished rail, the other abandoned to
him--carelessly--as though she were quite unconscious where it lay.

"They are dancing," she repeated, turning toward him--which brought them
face to face, both her hands resting listlessly in his.

A silence, then:

"Do you know," she said, "that this is a very serious matter?"

"I know."

"And that it's probably one of those dreadful, terrible and sudden
strokes of Fate?"

"I know."

"And that--that it serves me right?"

He was smiling; and she smiled back at him, the starry beauty of her
eyes dimming a trifle.

"You say that you have chosen a 'Voice,'" she said; "and--do you think
that you would be the last man to go to sleep?"

"The very last."

"Then--I suppose I must make my choice.... I will ... some day.... And,
are you going to dance with me?"

He raised her hands, joining them together between his; and she watched
him gravely, a tremor touching her lips. In silence their hands fell
apart; he stepped nearer; she lifted her head a little--a very
little--closing her lids; he bent and kissed her lips, very lightly.

That was all; they opened their eyes upon one another, somewhat dazed. A
bell, very far off, was sounding faintly through the falling
snow--faintly, persistently, the first bell for Christmas morning.

Then she took the edges of her silken gown between thumb and forefinger,
and slowly, very slowly, sank low with flushed cheeks, sweeping him an
old-time curtsey.

"I--I wish you a Merry Christmas," she said.... "And thank you for
_your_ wish.... And you may take me down, now"--rising to her slim and
lovely height--"and I think we had better dance as hard as we can and
try to forget what our families are likely to think of what we've
done.... Don't you?"

"Yes," he said seriously, "I do."

       *       *       *       *       *

"And _that's_ what comes of running after trains, and talking to fat
conductors, and wearing chinchilla furs, and flouting the Mystic Three!"
added Williams throwing away his cigar.




"In my opinion," said I, "a man who comes to see Paris in three months is
a fool, and kin to that celebrated ass who circum-perambulated the globe
in eighty days. See all, see nothing. A man might camp a lifetime in the
Louvre and learn little about it before he left for Père Lachaise. Yet
here comes the United States in a gigantic "_mônome_" to see the city in
three weeks, when three years is too short a time in which to appreciate
the Carnavalet Museum alone! I'm going home."

"Oh, papa!" said Alida.

"Yes, I am," I snapped. "I'd rather be tried and convicted in Oyster Bay
on the charge of stealing my own pig than confess I had 'seen Paris' in
three months."

We had driven out to the Trocadero that day, and were now comfortably
seated in the tower of that somewhat shabby "palace," for the purpose of
obtaining a bird's eye view of the "Rive Droite" or right bank of the

Elegant, modern, spotless, the Rive Droite spread out at our feet,
silver-gray squares of Renaissance architecture inlaid with the delicate
green of parks, circles, squares, and those endless double and quadruple
lines of trees which make Paris slums more attractive than Fifth Avenue.
Far as the eye could see stretched the exquisite monotony of the Rive
Droite, discreetly and artistically broken by domes and spires of
uncatalogued "monuments," in virgin territory, unknown and unsuspected
to those spiritual vandals whose hordes raged through the boulevards,
waving ten thousand blood-red Baedekers at the paralyzed Parisians.

"Well," said I, "now that we have 'seen' the Rive Droite, let's cast a
bird's-eye glance over Europe and Asia and go back to the hotel for

My sarcasm was lost on my daughters because they had moved out of
earshot. Alida was looking through a telescope held for her by a friend
of Captain de Barsac, an officer of artillery named Captain Vicômte
Torchon de Cluny. He was all over scarlet and black and gold; when he
walked his sabre made noises, and his ringing spurs reminded me of the
sound of sleigh-bells in Oyster Bay.

My daughter Dulcima was observing the fortress of Mont-Valerien through
a tiny pair of jewelled opera-glasses, held for her by Captain de
Barsac. It was astonishing to see how tirelessly De Barsac held those
opera-glasses, which must have weighed at least an ounce. But French
officers are inured to hardships and fatigue.

"Is _that_ a fortress?" asked Dulcima ironically. "I see nothing but
some low stone houses."

"Next to Gibraltar," said De Barsac, "it is the most powerful fortress
in the world, mademoiselle. It garrisons thousands of men; its stores
are enormous; it dominates not only Paris, but all France."

"But where are the cannon?" asked Dulcima.

"Ah--exactly--where? That is what other nations pay millions to find
out--and cannot. Will you take my word for it that there are one or two
cannon there--and permit me to avoid particulars?"

"You might tell me where just one little unimportant cannon is?" said my
daughter, with the naïve curiosity which amuses the opposite and still
more curious sex.

"And endanger France?" asked De Barsac, with owl-like solemnity.

"Thank you," pouted Dulcima, perfectly aware that he was laughing.

Their voices became low, and relapsed into that buzzing murmur which
always defeats its own ends by arousing parental vigilance.

"Let us visit the aquarium," said I in a distinct and disagreeable
voice. Doubtless the "voice from the wilderness" was gratuitously
unwelcome to Messieurs De Barsac and Torchon de Cluny, but they appeared
to welcome the idea with a conciliatory alacrity noticeable in young men
when intruded upon by the parent of pretty daughters. Dear me, how fond
they appeared to be of me; what delightful information they volunteered
concerning the Trocadero, the Alexander Bridge, the Champ de Mars.

       *       *       *       *       *

The aquarium of the Trocadero is underground. To reach it you simply
walk down a hole in France and find yourself under the earth, listening
to the silvery prattle of a little brook which runs over its bed of
pebbles _above your head_, pouring down little waterfalls into endless
basins of glass which line the damp arcades as far as you can see. The
arcades themselves are dim, the tanks, set in the solid rock, are
illuminated from above by holes in the ground, through which pours the
yellow sunshine of France.

Looking upward through the glass faces of the tanks you can see the
surface of the water with bubbles afloat, you can see the waterfall
tumbling in; you can catch glimpses of green grass and bushes, and a bit
of blue sky.

Into the tanks fall insects from the world above, and the fish sail up
to the surface and lazily suck in the hapless fly or spider that tumbles
onto the surface of the water.

It is a fresh-water aquarium. All the fresh-water fish of France are
represented here by fine specimens--pike, barbels, tench, dace, perch,
gudgeons, sea-trout, salmon, brown-trout, and that lovely delicate
trout-like fish called _l'Ombre de Chevallier_. What it is I do not
know, but it resembles our beautiful American brook-trout in shape and
marking; and is probably a hybrid, cultivated by these clever French
specialists in fish-propagation.

Coming to a long crystal-clear tank, I touched the glass with my
finger-tip, and a slender, delicate fish, colored like mother-of-pearl,
slowly turned to stare at me.

"This," said I, "is that aristocrat of the waters called the 'Grayling.'
Notice its huge dorsal fin, its tender and diminutive mouth. It takes a
fly like a trout, but the angler who would bring it to net must work
gently and patiently, else the tender mouth tears and the fish is lost.
Is it not the most beautiful of all fishes?

  "'Here and there a lusty trout;
  Here and there a Grayling--'

"Ah, Tennyson knew. And that reminds me, Alida," I continued, preparing
to recount a personal adventure with a grayling in Austria--"that
reminds me----"

I turned around to find I had been addressing the empty and somewhat
humid atmosphere. My daughter Alida stood some distance away, gazing
absently at a tank full of small fry; and Captain Vicômte Torchon de
Cluny stood beside her, talking. Perhaps he was explaining the habits of
the fish in the tank.

My daughter Dulcima and Captain de Barsac I beheld far down the arcades,
strolling along without the faintest pretence of looking at anything but
each other.

"Very well," thought I to myself, "this aquarium is exactly the place I
expect to avoid in future--" And I cheerfully joined my daughters as
though they and their escorts had long missed me.

Now, of course, they all expressed an enthusiastic desire to visit
every tank and hear me explain the nature of their contents; but it was
too late.

"No," said I, "it is damp enough here to float all the fishes in the
Seine. And besides, as we are to 'see' the Rive Droite, we should
hasten, so that we may have at least half an hour to devote to the
remainder of France."

From the bowels of the earth we emerged into the sunshine, to partake of
an exceedingly modest luncheon in the Trocadero restaurant, under the
great waterfall.

Across the river a regiment of red-legged infantry marched, drums and
bugles sounding.

"All that territory over there," said De Barsac, "is given up to
barracks. It is an entire quarter of the city, occupied almost
exclusively by the military. There the streets run between miles of
monotonous barracks, through miles of arid parade grounds, where all day
long the _piou-pious_ drill in the dust; where the cavalry exercise;
where the field-artillery go clanking along the dreary streets toward
their own exercise ground beyond the Usine de Gaz. All day long that
quarter of the city echoes with drums beating and trumpets sounding, and
the trample of passing cavalry, and the clank and rattle of cannon.
Truly, in the midst of peace we prepare for--something else--we

"It is strange," said I, "that you have time to be the greatest
sculptors, architects, and painters in the world."

"In France, monsieur, we never lack time. It is only in America that you
corner time and dispense it at a profit."

"Time," said I, "is at once our most valuable and valueless commodity.
Our millionaires seldom have sufficient time to avoid indigestion. Yet,
although time is apparently so precious, there are among us men who
spend it in reading the New York _Herald_ editorials. I myself am often
short of time, yet I take a Long Island newspaper and sometimes even
read it."

We had been walking through the gardens, while speaking, toward a large
crowd of people which had collected along the river. In the centre of
the crowd stood a taxicab, on the box of which danced the cabby,

When we arrived at the scene of disturbance the first person I saw
distinctly was our acquaintance, the young man from East Boston,
hatless, dishevelled, all over dust, in the grasp of two agents de

"He has been run over by a taxi," observed De Barsac. "They are going to
arrest him."

"Well, why don't they do it?" I said, indignantly, supposing that De
Barsac meant the chauffeur was to be arrested.

"They have done so."

"No, they haven't! They are holding the man who has been run over!"

"Exactly. He has been run over and they are arresting him."

"Who?" I demanded, bewildered.

"Why, the man who has been run over!"

"But why, in Heaven's name!"

"Why? Because he allowed himself to be run over!"

"What!" I cried. "They arrest the man who has been run over, and not the
man who ran over him?"

"It is the law," said De Barsac, coolly.

"Do you mean to tell me that the _runner_ is left free, while the
_runnee_ is arrested?" I asked in deadly calmness, reducing my question
to legal and laconic language impossible to misinterpret.

"Exactly. The person who permits a vehicle to run over him in defiance
of the French law, which says that nobody ought to let himself be run
over, is liable to arrest, imprisonment, and fine--unless, of course, so
badly injured that recovery is impossible."

Now at last I understood the Dreyfus Affaire. Now I began to comprehend
the laws of the Bandarlog. Now I could follow the subtle logic of the
philosophy embodied in "Alice in Wonderland" and "Through the

This was the country for me! Why, certainly; these people here could
understand a man who was guilty of stealing his own pig.

"I think I should like to live in Paris again," I said to my daughters;
then I approached the young man from East Boston and bade him cheer up.

He was not hurt; he was only rumpled and dusty and hopping mad.

"I shall pay their darned fine," he said. "Then I'm going to hire a cab
and drive it myself, and hunt up that cabman who ran over me, by Judas!"

       *       *       *       *       *

That night I met Williams at the Café Jaune by previous and crafty
agreement; and it certainly was nice to be together after all these
years in the same old seats in the same café, and discuss the days that
we never could live again--and wouldn't want to if we could--alas!

The talk fell on Ellis and Jones, and immediately I perceived that
Williams had skillfully steered the conversation toward those two young
men--and I knew devilish well he had a story to tell me about them.

So I cut short his side-stepping and circling, and told him to be about
it as I wanted to devote one or two hours that night to a matter which I
had recently neglected--Sleep.

"That Jones," he said, "was a funny fellow. He and Ellis didn't meet
over here; Ellis was before his time. But they became excellent friends
under rather unusual circumstances.

"Ellis, you know, was always getting some trout fishing when he was over
here. He was a good deal of a general sportsman. As for Jones--well, you
remember that he had no use for anything more strenuous than a motor

"I remember," I said.





Well, then, the way that Ellis and Jones met each other--and several
other things--was this. It chanced to be in the northern forests, I
believe--both were fishing, neither knew the other nor was even aware of
their mutual proximity.

Then the wind changed abruptly, blowing now from the south; and with the
change of wind Ellis fancied that he smelled green wood burning. A few
minutes later he was sure of it; he stood knee-deep in the stream
sniffing uneasily, then he lifted his trout-rod, reeled in his line, and
waded silently shoreward, his keen nose twitching.

Ah! There it was--that misty bluish bloom belting a clump of hemlocks.
And the acrid odor grew, impregnating the filtered forest air. He
listened, restless eyes searching. The noise of the stream filled his
ears; he tightened the straps of his pack, shortened his trout rod,
leaving line and cast on, and crawled up the ravine, shoulder-deep in
fragrant undergrowth, until the dull clash of flashing spray and the
tumult of the falls were almost lost in the leafy depths behind.

Ranker, stronger, came the pungent odor of smoke; halting to listen he
heard the hissing whisper of green wood afire; then, crawling up over an
enormous boulder, he saw, just beyond and below, a man in tweeds,
squatting on his haunches, and attempting to toss a flapjack over a
badly constructed camp-fire.

The two young men caught sight of one another at the same instant;
alert, mistrustful, each stared at the other in questioning silence
while the first instinct of unpleasant surprise lasted.

"How are you?" said the man, cautiously.

"Good-morning," replied Ellis. "When the wind turned I scented your fire
down the stream. Thought I'd see what was burning."

"Are you up here fishing?" inquired he of the tweeds.

"Yes; came here by canoe to the forks below. I am out for a week by
myself. The Caranay water is my old-time trail.... Looks like a storm,
doesn't it?"

"Anything doing with the trout?"

"Not much; two in the falls pool that come an ounce short of the pound.
I should be glad to divide--if you are shy on trout."

Again they regarded one another carefully.

"My name," said the man by the fire, "is Jones--but that can't be helped
now. So if you'll overlook such matters I'll be glad of a trout if you
can spare one."

"My name is Ellis; help yourself."

The man by the fire glanced at the burnt flapjack, scraped it free from
the pan, tossed it into the bushes, and straightened to his full height.

"Come into camp, Mr. Ellis," he said, politely. The freemasonry of caste
operates very quickly in the wilderness; Ellis slid down the boulder on
the re-enforced seat of his knickerbockers, landing, with hob-nailed
shoes foremost, almost at the edge of the fire. Then he laid his rod
aside, slipped the pack to the ground, unslung his creel, and, fishing
out a handkerchief, mopped his sunburnt countenance.

"Anything else you're short of, Mr. Jones?" he asked, pleasantly. "I'm
just in from the settlements, and I can let you have a pinch of almost

"Have you plenty of salt?" inquired Jones, wistfully.

"Plenty; isn't there anything else? Bacon? Sugar?"


Ellis looked at him keenly; good woodsmen don't run short of matches;
good woodsmen don't build such fires.

"Certainly," he said. "Did you have an accident?"

"No--that is, several boxes got wet, and I've been obliged to sit around
this confounded fire for fear it might go out--didn't dare fish very far
from it."

He looked gloomily around, rubbed his forehead as though trying to
recollect something, and finally sat down on a log.

"Fact is," he said, "I don't know very much about the woods. Do you?
Everything's gone wrong; I tore my canoe in the Ledge Rapids yesterday.
I'm in a fix."

Ellis laughed; and his laugh was so pleasant, so entirely without
offence, that young Jones laughed, too, for a while, then checked
himself to adjust his eyeglasses, which his mirth had displaced.

"Can you cook?" he asked, so seriously that Ellis only nodded, still

"Then, for Heaven's love, would you, when you cook your own breakfast
over that fire, cook enough for two?"

"Why, man, I believe you're hungry," said Ellis, sharply.

"Hungry? Well, I don't know whether you would call it exactly hunger,
because I have eaten several things which I cooked. I ought not to be
hungry; I tried to toss a flapjack, but it got stuck to the pan. Fact
is, I'm a rotten cook, and I guess it's simply that I'm half starved for
a decent meal."

"Why, see here," said Ellis, rising to his feet, "I can fix up something
pretty quick if you like."

"I _do_ like. Yonder is my cornmeal, coffee, some damp sugar, flour, and
what's left of the pork. You see I left it in a corner of the lean-to,
and while I was asleep a porcupine got busy with it; then I hung it on a
tree, and some more porcupines invited their relatives, and they all
climbed up and nearly finished it. Did you suppose that a porcupine
could climb a tree?"

"I've heard so," said Ellis, gravely, busy with the stores which he was
unrolling from his own blanket. The guilelessness of this stray brother
appalled him. Here was a babe in the woods. A new sort of babe, too,
for, in the experience of Ellis, the incompetent woodsman is ever the
loudest-mouthed, the tyro, the most conceited. But this forest-squatting
innocent not only knew nothing of the elements of woodcraft, but had
called a stranger's attention to his ignorance with a simplicity that
silenced mirth, forestalled contempt, and aroused a curious respect for
the unfortunate.

"He is no liar, anyway," thought Ellis, placing a back-log, mending the
fire, emptying the coffee pot, and settling the kettle to boil. And
while he went about culinary matters with a method born of habit, Jones
watched him, aided when he saw a chance; and they chatted on most
animatedly together as the preparations for breakfast advanced.

"The very first day I arrived in the woods," said Jones, "I fell into
the stream and got most of my matches wet. I've had a devil of a time

"It's a good idea to keep reserve matches in a water-tight glass
bottle," observed Ellis, carelessly, and without appearing to instruct
anybody about anything.

"I'll remember that. What is a good way to keep pork from porcupines?"

Ellis mentioned several popular methods, stirred the batter, shoved a
hot plate nearer the ashes, and presently began the manufacture of

"Don't you toss 'em?" inquired Jones, watching the process intently.

"Oh, they can be tossed--like this! But it is easier for me to turn them
with a knife--like this. I have an idea that they toss flapjacks less
often in the woods than they do in fiction."

"I gathered my idea from a book," said Jones, bitterly; "it told how to
build a fire without matches. Some day I shall destroy the author."

Presently Jones remarked in a low, intense voice: "Oh, the fragrance of
that coffee and bacon!" which was all he said, but its significance was
pathetically unmistakable.

"Pitch in, man," urged Ellis, looking back over his shoulder. "I'll be
with you in a second." But when his tower of browned and smoking
flapjacks was ready, and he came over to the log, he found that his
host, being his host, had waited. That settled his convictions
concerning Jones; and that was doubtless why, inside of half an hour, he
found himself calling him Jones and not Mr. Jones, and Jones calling him
Ellis. They were a pair of well knit, clean-limbed young men, throat and
face burnt deeply by wind and sun. Jones did not have much hair; Ellis's
was thick and short, and wavy at the temples. They were agreeable to
look at.

"Have another batch of flapjacks?" inquired Ellis, persuasively.

Jones groaned with satisfaction at the prospect, and applied himself to
a crisp trout garnished with bacon.

"I've tried and tried," he said, "but I cannot catch any trout. When I
found that I could not I was horrified, Ellis, because, you see, I had
supposed that the forest and stream were going to furnish me with
subsistence. Nature hasn't done a thing to me since I've tried to shake
hands with her."

"I wonder," said Ellis, "why you came into the woods alone?"

Jones coyly pounced upon another flapjack, folded it neatly and inserted
one end of it into his mouth. This he chewed reflectively; and when it
had vanished according to Fletcher, he said:

"If I tell you why I came here I'll begin to get angry. This breakfast
is too heavenly to spoil. Pass the bacon and help yourself."

Ellis, however, had already satisfied his hunger. He set the kettle on
the coals again, dumped into it cup and plate and fork, wiped his
sheath-knife carefully, and, curling up at the foot of a hemlock,
lighted his pipe, returning the flaming branch to the back-log.

Jones munched on; smile after smile spread placidly over his youthful
face, dislodging his eyeglasses every time. He resumed them, and ate

"The first time my canoe upset," he said, "I lost my book of artificial
flies. I brought a box of angle-worms with me, too, but they fell into
the stream the second time I upset. So I have been trying to snare one
of those big trout under the ledge below----"

Ellis's horrified glance cut him short; he shrugged his shoulders.

"My friend, I know it's dead low-down, but it was a matter of pure
hunger with me. At all events, it's just as well that I caught nothing;
I couldn't have cooked it if I had."

He sighed at the last flapjack, decided he did not require it, and
settling down with his back against the log blissfully lighted his pipe.

For ten minutes they smoked without speaking, dreamily gazing at the
blue sky through the trees. Friendly little forest birds came around,
dropping from twig to branch; two chipmunks crept into the case of eggs
to fill their pouched chops with the oats that the eggs were packed in.
The young men watched them lazily.

"The simpler life is the true existence," commented Ellis, drawing a
long, deep breath.

"What the devil is the simpler life?" demanded Jones, with so much
energy that the chipmunks raced away in mad abandon, and the flock of
black-capped birds scattered to neigbouring branches, remarking in
unison, "_Chick-a-dee-dee-dee_."

"Why, you're leading the simpler life now," said Ellis, laughing, "are
you not?"

"Am I? No, I'm not. I'm not leading a simple life; I'm leading a
pace-killing, nerve-racking, complex one. I tell you, Ellis, that it has
taken just one week in the woods to reveal to me the complexity of

"Oh, you don't like the life?"

"I like it all right, but it's too complex. Listen to me. You asked me
why anybody ever let me escape into the woods. I'll tell you.... You're
a New Yorker, are you not?"

Ellis nodded.

"All right. First look on this picture: I live in the Sixties, near
enough to the Park to see it. It's green, and I like it. Besides, there
are geraniums and other posies in my back yard, and I can see them when
the laundress isn't too busy with the clothes-line. So much for the
_mise en scène_; me in a twenty-by-one-hundred house, perfectly
contented; Park a stone's toss west, back yard a few feet north. My
habits? Simple enough to draw tears from a lambkin! I breakfast at
nine--an egg, fruit, coffee and--I hate to admit it--the _Sun_. At
eleven I go down-town to see if there's anything doing. There never is,
so I smoke one cigar with my partner and then we lunch together. I then
walk uptown--_walk_, mind you. At the club I look at the ticker, or out
of the window. Later I play cowboy or billiards for an hour. I take one
cocktail--_one_, if you please. I converse." He waved his pipe; Ellis
nodded solemnly.

"Then," continued Jones, "what do I do?"

"I don't know," replied Ellis.

"I'll tell you. I call a cab--one taxi, or one hansom, as the state of
the weather may suggest--I drive through the Park, pleasantly aware of
the verdure, the squirrels, and the babies; I arrive at my home; I mount
to the library and there I select from my limited collection some
accursed book I've always heard of but have never read--not fiction, but
something stupefying and worth while. This I read for exactly one hour.
I then need a drink. I then dress; and if I'm dining out, out I go--if
not, I dine at home. Twice a week I attend the theatre, but I neutralise
that by doing penance at the opera every Monday during the season....
There, Ellis, is the story of a simple life! Look on _that_ picture. Now
look on _this_: Me in the backwoods, fly-bitten, smoke-choked, a
half-charred flapjack in my fist, a porcupine-gnawed rind of pork on a
stick, attempting to broil the same at a fire, the smoke of which blinds
me. Me, again, belly down, peering hungrily over the bank of a stream,
attempting to snatch a trout with a bare hook, my glasses slipping off
repeatedly, the spectre of starvation scourging on me. Me, once more,
frantic with indigestion and mosquitoes, lurking under a blanket, the
root of a tree bruising my backbone; me in the morning, done up, shaving
in icy water and cutting my chin; me, half shaved, searching for a scrap
of nourishment, gauntly prowling among cold and greasy fry-pans! Ellis!
_Which_ is the simpler life, in Heaven's name?"

Ellis's laughter was the laughter of a woodsman, full, infectious, but
almost noiseless. The birds came back and teetered on adjacent twigs,
cheeping in friendly unison; a chipmunk, chops distended, popped up from
the case of eggs like a striped jack-in-a-box, not at all afraid of a
man who laughed that way.

"_How_ did you ever come into the woods?" he asked at length.

"Lunatic friends and fool books persuaded me I was missing something. I
read all about how to tell a woodcock from a peacock; how to dig holes
in the ground and raise little pea vines, and how to make two blades of
grass grow where the laundress had set a devastating shoe. Then I tired
of it. But friends urged me on, and one idiot said that I looked like
the victim of a rare disease and gave me a shotgun--whether to shoot
myself or the dicky birds I'm not perfectly certain yet. Besides, as I
have a perfect hatred of taking life, I had no temptation to shoot
guides in Maine or niggers in South Carolina, where the quail come from.
Still, I was awake to the new idea. I read more books on bats and
woodchucks; I smelled every flower I saw; I tried to keep up," he said,
earnestly; "by Heaven, I did my best! And now, look at me! Nature hands
me the frozen mitt!"

Ellis could only laugh, cradling his knees in his clasped and sun-tanned

"I am fond of Nature; I admire the geraniums in my backyard," continued
Jones, excitedly. "I like a simple life, too; but I don't wish to pursue
a live thing and eat it for my dinner. The idea is perfectly obnoxious
to me. I like flowers on a table or in the Park, but I don't want to
know their names, or the names of the creatures that buzz and crawl over
them, or the names of the birds that feed on the buzzy things! I don't;
I know I don't, and I won't! Nature has strung me; I shall knock Nature
hereafter. This is all for mine. I'll lock up and leave the key of the
fields to the next Come-on lured into the good green goods by that most
accomplished steerer, Mrs. Nature. I've got my gilt brick, Ellis--I'm
going home to buy a card to hang over my desk; and on it will be the
wisest words ever written:

  "'Who's Loony Now?'"

"But, my dear fellow----"

"No, you don't. You're an accomplice of this Nature dame; I can tell by
the way you cook and catch trout and keep your matches in bottles. One
large and brilliant brick is enough for one New York man. The asphalt
for mine--and a Turkish bath."

After a grinning silence, Ellis arose, stretched, tapped his pipe
against a tree trunk, and sauntered over to where his rod lay. "Come on;
I'll guarantee you a trout in the first reach," he said, affably,
slipping ferrule into socket, disentangling the cast and setting the
line free.

So they strolled off toward the long amber reach which lay a few yards
below the camp, Jones explaining that he didn't wish to take life from
anything except a mosquito.

"We've got to eat; we'd better stock up while we can, because it's going
to rain," observed Ellis.

"Going to rain? How do you know?"

"I smell it. Besides, look there--yonder above the mountains. Do you see
the sky behind the Golden Dome?"




Up the narrow valley, over the unbroken sweep of treetops, arose tumbled
peaks; and above the Golden Dome, pushing straight upward into the
flawless blue of heaven, towered a cloud, its inky convolutions edged
with silver.

Jones inspected the thunderhead with disapproval; Ellis offered his rod,
and, being refused, began some clever casting, the artistic beauty of
which was lost upon Jones.

One trout only investigated the red-and-white fly; and, that fish safely
creeled, Ellis turned to his companion:

"Three years ago, when I last came here, this reach was more prolific.
But there's a pool above that I'll warrant. Shall we move?"

As they passed on upstream Jones said: "There's no pool above, only a

"You're in error," said Ellis, confidently. "I've known every pool on
the Caranay for years."

"But there is no pool above--unless you mean to trespass."

"Trespass!" repeated Ellis, aghast. "_Trespass_ in the free Caranay
forests! You--you don't mean to say that any preserve has been
established on the Caranay! I haven't been here for three years.... _Do_

"Look there," said Jones, pointing to a high fence of netted wire which
rose above the undergrowth and cut the banks of the stream in two with a
barrier eight feet high; "that's what stopped me. There's their
home-designed trespass notice hanging to the fence. Read it; it's worth

Speechless, but still incredulous, Ellis strode to the barrier and
looked up. And this is what he read printed in mincing "Art Nouveau"
type upon a swinging zinc sign fashioned to imitate something or other
which was no doubt very precious:


      Ye simple livers of ye simpler life have raised thys barrier
      against ye World, ye Flesh and ye Devyl. Turn back in Peace and
      leave us to our Nunnery.


"What the devil is that nonsense?" demanded Ellis hoarsely.

"Explained on our next tree," remarked Jones, wiping his eyeglasses

An ordinary trespass notice printed on white linen was nailed to the
flank of a great pine; and, below this, a special warning, done in red
on a white board:


      This property belongs to the Vassar College Summer School.
      Fishing, shooting, trapping, the felling of trees, the picking of
      wild flowers, and every form of trespass, being strictly
      forbidden, all violators of this ordinance under the law will be
      prosecuted. One hundred dollars reward is offered for evidence
      leading to the detection and conviction of any trespasser upon
      this property.


"Well?" inquired Jones, as Ellis stood motionless, staring at the sign.
The latter slowly turned an enraged visage toward his companion.

"What are you going to do?" repeated Jones, curiously.

"Do? I'm going to fish the Caranay. Come on."

"Trespass on Vassar?" asked Jones.

"I'm going to fish the Caranay, my old and favorite and beloved
stream," retorted Ellis, doggedly. "Do you suppose a dinky zinc
sign in this forest can stop me? Come on, Jones. I'll show you a
trout worth tossing this Caranay Belle to." And he looped on a
silver-and-salmon-tinted fly and waded out into the rapids.

Jones lighted his pipe and followed him, giving his views of several
matters in a voice pitched above the whispering rush of the ripples:

"That's all very well, Ellis, but suppose we are pinched and fined? A
nice place, these forests, for a simple liver to lead a simple life in!
Simple life! What? And some of these writers define the 'simple life' as
merely a 'state of mind.' That's right, too; I was in a state of mind
until I met you, let me tell you! They're perfectly correct; it is a
state of mind."

He muttered to himself, casting an anxious eye on the thundercloud which
stretched almost to the zenith over the Golden Dome and shadowed Lynx
Peak like a pall.

"Rain, too," he commented, wading in Ellis's wake. "There's a most
devilish look about that cloud. I wish I were a woodchuck--or a shiner,
or an earnest young thing from Vassar. What are we to do if pinched with
the goods on us, Ellis?"

The other laughed a disagreeable laugh and splashed forward.

"Because," continued Jones, wiping the spray from his glasses, "the
woods yonder may be teeming with these same young things from Vassar.
Old 'uns, too--there's a faculty for that Summer School. You can never
tell what a member of a ladies' Summer School faculty would do to you. I
dare say they might run after you and frisk you for a kiss--out here in
the backwoods."

"Do you know anything about this absurd Summer School?" asked Ellis,
halting to wait for his companion.

"Only what the newspapers print."

"And what's that? I've not noticed anything about it."

"Why, they all tell about the scope of the Vassar Summer School. It's
founded"--and he grinned maliciously--"on the simple life."

"How?" snapped Ellis, clambering up out of the water to the flat, sandy
shore of an exquisite pool some forty rods in length.

"Why, this way: The Vassar undergraduates, who formerly, after
commencement, scattered into all the complexities of a silly,
unprofitable, good old summer time, now have a chance to acquire
simplicity and a taste for the rudimentary pleasures and pursuits they
have overlooked in their twentieth-century gallop after the complex."

Ellis sullenly freed his line and glanced up at the clouds. It was
already raining on the Golden Dome.

"So," continued Jones, "the Summer School took to the woods along with
the rest of the simple-minded. I hear they have a library; doubtless it
contains the _Outlook_ and the Rollo books. They have courses in the
earlier and simpler languages--the dead 'uns--Sanskrit, Greek, Latin;
English, too, before it grew pin-feathers. They have a grand-stand built
of logs out yonder where the mosquito hummeth; and some trees and a pond
which they call a theatre devoted to the portrayal of the great
primitive and simple passions and emotions. They have also dammed up the
stream to make a real lake when they give tank-dramas like Lohengrin and
the Rheingold; and the papers say they have a pair of live swans hitched
to a boat--that is, a yellow reporter swears they have, but he was
discovered taking snapshots at some Rhine-wine daughters, and hustled
out of the woods----"

He paused to watch Ellis hook and play and presently land a splendid
trout weighing close to two pounds.

"It's an outrage, an infernal outrage, for such people to dam the
Caranay and invade this God-given forest with their unspeakable tin
signs!" said Ellis, casting again.

"But they're only looking for a simpler life--just like you."

Ellis said something.

"That," replied Jones, "is a simple and ancient word expressing tersely
one of the simplest and most primitive passions. You know, the simple
life is merely a "state of mind"; you're acquiring it; I recognize the

Ellis made another observation, more or less mandatory.

"Yes, that is a locality purely mythical, according to our later
exponents of theology; therefore I cannot accept the suggestion to go

"Confound it!" exclaimed Ellis, laughing, as he landed a trout, "let up
on your joking. I'm mad all through, and it's beginning to rain. When
that thunder comes nearer it will end the fishing, too. Look at Lynx
Peak! Did you see that play of lightning? There's a corker of a storm
brewing. I hope," he added, savagely, "it will carry away their
confounded dam and their ridiculous lake. The nerve of women to dam a
trout stream like the Caranay.... What was that you said?"

"I said," hissed Jones in a weird whisper, "that there are two girls
standing behind us and taking our pictures with a kodak! Don't look
around, man! They'll snap-shoot us for evidence!"

But the caution was too late; Ellis had turned. There came a click of a
kodak shutter; Jones turned in spite of himself; another click sounded.

"Stang!" breathed Jones as two young girls stepped from the shelter of a
juniper brush and calmly confronted the astonished trespassers.

"I am very sorry to trouble you," said the taller one severely, "but
this is private property."

Ellis took off his cap; Jones did the same.

"I saw your signs," said Ellis, pleasantly. Jones whispered to him: "The
taller one is a corker!" and Ellis replied under his breath: "The other
is attractive, too."

"You admit that you deliberately trespassed?" inquired the shorter girl
very gravely.

"Not upon you--only upon what you call your property," said Ellis,
gaily. "You see, we really need the trout in our business--which is to
keep soul and body on friendly terms."

No answering smile touched the pretty grey eyes fixed on his. She said
gravely: "I am very sorry that this has happened."

"We're sorry, too," smiled Jones, "although we can scarcely regret the
charming accident which permits us----"

But it wouldn't do; the taller girl stared at him coldly from a pair of
ornamental brown eyes.

Presently she said: "We students are supposed to report cases like this.
If you have deliberately chosen to test the law governing the protection
of private property no doubt our Summer School authorities will be
willing to gratify you before a proper tribunal.... May I ask your
names?" She drew a notebook from the pocket of her kilted skirt,
standing gracefully with pencil poised, dark eyes focused upon Jones.
And, as she waited, the thunder boomed behind the Golden Dome.

"It's going to rain cats and dogs," said Jones, anxiously "and you
haven't an umbrella----"

The dark-eyed girl gazed at him scornfully. "Do you refuse your name?"

"No--oh, not at all!" said Jones hastily; "my name is Jones----"

The scorn deepened. "And--is this Mr. Smith?" she inquired, looking at

"My name _is_ Jones," said Jones so earnestly that his glasses fell off.
"And what's worse, it's John Jones."

Something in his eye engaged her attention--perhaps the unwinking
innocence of it. She wrote "John Jones" on her pad, noted his town
address, and turned to Ellis, who was looking fixedly, but not
offensively, at the girl with the expressive grey eyes.

"If you have a pad I'll surrender to you," he said, amiably. "There is
glory enough for all here, as our admiral once remarked."

The grey eyes glimmered; a quiver touched the scarlet mouth. But a crash
of nearer thunder whitened the smile on her lips.

"Helen, I'm going!" she said hastily to her of the brown eyes.

"That storm," said Ellis calmly, "has a long way to travel before it
strikes the Caranay valley." He pointed with his rod, tracing in the sky
the route of the crowding clouds. "Every storm that hatches behind the
Golden Dome swings south along the Black Water first, then curves and
comes around by the west and sweeps the Caranay. You have plenty of time
to take my name."

"But--but the play? I was thinking of the play," she said, looking
anxiously at the brown eyes, which were raised to the sky in silent

"If you don't mind my saying so," said Ellis, "there is ample time for
your outdoor theatricals--if you mean that. You need not look for that
storm on the upper Caranay before late this afternoon. Even then it may
break behind the mountains and you may see no rain--only a flood in the

"Do you really think so?" she asked.

"I do; I can almost answer for it. You see, the Caranay has been my
haunt for many years, and I know almost to a certainty what is likely to
happen here."

"That is jolly!" she exclaimed, greatly relieved. "Helen, I really think
we should be starting----"

But Helen, pencil poised, gazed obdurately at Ellis out of brown eyes
which were scarcely fashioned for such impartial and inexorable work.

"If your name is not Smith I should be very glad to note it," she said.

So he laughed and told her who he was and where he lived; and she wrote
it down, somewhat shakily.

"Of course," she said, "you cannot be the _artist_--James Lowell Ellis,
_the_ artist--the great----"

She hesitated; brown eyes and grey eyes, very wide now, were
concentrated on him. Jones, too, stared, and Ellis laughed.

"_Are_ you?" blurted out Jones. "Great Heaven! I never supposed----"

Ellis joined in a quartet of silence, then laughed again, a short,
embarrassed laugh.

"You _don't_ look like anything famous, you know," said Jones
reproachfully. "Why didn't you tell me who you are? Why, man, I own two
of your pictures!"

To brown-eyes, known so far as "Helen," Ellis said: "We painters are a
bad lot, you see--but don't let that prejudice you against Mr. Jones; he
really doesn't know me very well. Besides, I dragged him into this
villainy; didn't I, Jones? You didn't want to trespass, you know."

"Oh, come!" said Jones; "I own two of your pictures--the Amourette and
the Corrida. That ought to convict me of almost anything."

Grey-eyes said: "We--my father--has the Espagnolita, Mr. Ellis." She
blushed when she finished.

"Why, then, you must be Miss Sandys!" said Ellis quickly. "Mr. Kenneth
Sandys owns that picture."

The brown eyes, which had widened, then sparkled, then softened as
matters developed, now became uncompromisingly beautiful.

"I am dreadfully sorry," she said, looking at her notebook. "I trust
that the school authorities may not press matters." Then she raised her
eyes to see what Jones's expression might resemble. It resembled
absolutely nothing.

After a silence Miss Sandys said: "Do you think Helen, that we are--that
we ought to report this----"

"Yes, Molly, I do."

"I'm only an architect; fine me, but spare my friend, Ellis," said
Jones far too playfully to placate the brown-eyed Helen. She returned
his glance with a scrutiny devoid of expression. The thunder boomed
along the flanks of Lynx Peak.

"We--we are very sorry," whispered Miss Sandys.

"I am, too," replied Ellis--not meaning anything concerning his legal

Brown-eyes looked at Jones; there was a little inclination of her pretty
head as she passed them. A moment later the two young men stood alone,
caps in hand, gazing fixedly into the gathering dimness of Caranay





"Ellis," said Jones, earnestly, as they climbed to the camp and stood
gazing at the whitening ashes of their fire, "the simple life is a state
of mind. I'm in it, now. And--do you know, Ellis, that--I--I could learn
to like it?"

Ellis prodded the back-log, and tossed on some dry sticks.

"Great Heaven!" breathed Jones, "did you ever see such eyes, Ellis?"

"The grey ones? They're very noticeable----"

"I meant--well, let it go at that. Here be two of us have lost a
thousand shillings to-day."

"And the ladies were not in buckram," rejoined Ellis, starting a blaze.
"Jones, can you prepare trout for the pan with the aid of a knife? Here,
rub salt in 'em--and leave all but two in that big tin--dry, mind, then
cover it and sink it in the spring, or something furry will come nosing
and clawing at it. I'll have things ready by the time you're back."

"About our canoes," began Jones. "I've daubed mine with white lead, but
I cut it up badly. Hadn't we better attend to them before the storm

"Get yours into camp. I'll fetch mine; it's cached just below the forks.
This storm may tear things."

A quarter of an hour later two vigorous young men swung into camp,
lowered the canoes from their heads and shoulders, carried the strapped
kits, poles and paddles into the lean-to, and turned the light crafts
bottom up as flanking shelters to headquarters.

"No use fishing; that thunder is spoiling the Caranay," muttered Ellis,
moving about and setting the camp in order. "This is a fine lean-to," he
added; "it's big enough for a regiment."

"I told you I was an architect," said Jones, surveying the open-faced
shanty with pride. "I had nothing else to do, so I spent the time in
making this. I'm a corker on the classic. Shall I take an axe and cut
some wood in the Ionic or Doric style?"

Ellis, squatting among the provisions, busily bringing order out of
chaos, told him what sort of wood to cut; and an hour later, when the
echoing thwacks of the axe ceased and Jones came in loaded with
firewood, the camp was in order; hambones, stale bedding, tin cans, the
heads and spinal processes of trout had been removed, dishes polished,
towels washed and drying, and a pleasant aroma of balsam tips mingled
with the spicy scent of the fire.

"Whew!" said Jones, sniffing; "it smells pleasant now."

"Your camp," observed Ellis, "had all the fragrance of a dog-fox in
March. How heavy the air is. Listen to that thunder! There's the deuce
to pay on the upper waters of the Caranay by this time."

"Do you think we'll get it?"

"Not the rain and wind; the electrical storms usually swing off,
following the Big Oswaya. But we may have a flood." He arose and picked
up his rod. "The thunder has probably blanked me, but if you'll tend
camp I'll try to pick up some fish in a binnikill I know of where the
trout are habituated to the roar of the fork falls. We may need every
fish we can get if the flood proves a bad one."

Jones said it would suit him perfectly to sit still. He curled up close
enough to the fire for comfort as well as æsthetic pleasure, removed his
eyeglasses, fished out a flask of aromatic mosquito ointment, and
solemnly began a facial toilet, in the manner of a comfortable house cat
anointing her countenance with one paw.

"Ellis," he said, blinking up at that young man very amiably, "it would
be agreeable to see a little more of--of Miss Sandys; wouldn't it? And
the other----"

"We could easily do that."

"Eh? How?"

"By engaging an attorney to defend ourselves in court," said Ellis

"Pooh! You don't suppose that brown-eyed girl----"

"Yes, I do! _She_ means mischief. If it had rested with the other----"

"You're mistaken," said Jones, warmly. "I am perfectly persuaded that if
I had had half an hour's playful conversation with the brown-eyed

"You tried playfulness and fell down," observed Ellis, coldly. "If I
could have spoken to Miss Sandys----"

"What! A girl with steel-grey eyes like two poniards? A lot of mercy she
would show us! My dear fellow, trust in the brown eye every time! The
warm, humane, brown eye--the emotional, the melting, the tender

"Don't trust it! Didn't she kodak twice? You and I are now in her
Rogues' Gallery. Besides, didn't she take notes on her pad? I never
observed anything humane in brown eyes."

Jones polished his nose with the mosquito salve.

"How do you know what she wanted my picture for?" he asked, annoyed.
"Perhaps she means to keep it for herself--if that grey-eyed one lets
her alone----"

"Let the grey-eyed one alone yourself," retorted Ellis, warmly.

"You'd better, too. Any expert in human character can tell you which of
those girls means mischief."

"If you think you're an expert--" began Ellis, irritated, then stopped
short. Jones followed his eyes.

"Look at that stream," said Ellis, dropping his rod against the lean-to.
"There's been a cloudburst in the mountains. There's no rain here, but
_look_ at that stream! Yellow and bank-full! Hark! Hear the falls. I
have an idea the woods will be awash below us in an hour."

They descended to the ledge which an hour ago had overhung the stream.
Now the water was level with it, lapping over it, rising perceptibly in
the few seconds they stood there. Alders and willows along the banks,
almost covered, staggered in the discolored water; drift of all sorts
came tumbling past, rotten branches, piles of brush afloat, ferns and
shrubs uprooted; the torrent was thick with flakes of bark and forest
mould and green-leaved twigs torn from the stream-side.

From the lower reaches a deer came galloping toward the ridges; a fox
stole furtively into the open, hesitated, and slunk off up the valley.

And now the shallow gorge began to roar under the rising flood; tumbling
castles of piled-up foam whirled into view; the amber waves washed
through the fringing beech growth, slopping into hollows, setting the
dead leaves afloat. A sucking sound filled the woods; millions of tiny
bubbles purred in the shallow overflow; here and there dead branches
stirred, swung and floated.

"Our camp is going to be an island pretty soon," observed Ellis; "just
look at----"

But Jones caught him by the arm. "_What_ is that?" he demanded shakily.
"Are there things like that in these woods?"

At the same instant Ellis caught sight of something in midstream bearing
down on them in a smother of foam--an enormous lizard-like creature
floundering throat-deep in the flood.

"What is it, Ellis? Look! It's got a tail ten feet long! Great Heaven,
look at it!"

"I see it," said Ellis, hoarsely. "I never saw such a thing----"

"It's opening its jaws!" gasped Jones.

Ellis, a trifle white around the cheekbones, stared in frozen silence at
the fearsome creature as it swept down on them. A crested wave rolled
it over; four fearsome claws waved in the air; then the creature righted
itself and swung in toward the bank.

"Upon my word!" stammered Ellis; "it's part of their theatrical
property. Lord! how real it looked out yonder. I knew it couldn't be
alive, but--Jones, see how my hands are shaking. Would you believe a man
could be rattled like that?"

"Believe it? I should say I could! Look at the thing wabbling there in
the shallows as though it were trying to move its flippers! _Look_ at
it, Ellis; see how it seems to wriggle and paddle----"

The words froze on his lips; the immense creature was moving; the scaled
claws churned the shallows; a spasm shook the head; the jaws gaped.

"Help!" said a very sweet and frightened voice.

Ellis got hold of one claw, Jones the other, almost before they
comprehended--certainly before, deep in the scaly creature's maw, they
discovered the frightened but lovely features of the grey-eyed girl who
had snap-shot them.

"Please pull," she said; "I can't swim in _this_!"

Almost hysterically they soothed her as they tugged and steered the
thing into the flooded forest.

"Mr. Ellis--please--_please_ don't pull quite so hard," she called out.

"Oh, did I hurt you?" he cried so tenderly that, even in the shock of
emotions, Jones was ashamed of him.

"No, you don't hurt me, Mr. Ellis; I'm all right inside here, but
I--I--you must not pull this papier-mâché dragon to pieces----"

"What do I care for the dragon if you are in danger?" cried Ellis,

But it was a frightened and vexed voice that answered almost tearfully:
"If you pull too hard on the pasteboard legs something dreadful may
happen. I--this dragon is--is about the only clothing I have on!"

Ellis dropped the flipper, seized it again, and gazed into the scared
eyes of Jones.

"For Heaven's sake, go easy," he hissed, "or the thing will come apart!"

Jones, in a cold perspiration, stood knee-deep in the flood, not daring
to touch the flipper again.

"You help here," he whispered, hoarsely. "If she stands up, now, you can
support her to camp, can't you?"

Ellis bent over and looked into the gaping jaws of Fafnir the Dragon.

"Miss Sandys," he said seriously, "do you think you could get on your
hind--on your feet?"

The legs of the monster splashed, groping for the bottom; Ellis passed
his arm around the scaly body; Fafnir arose, rather wabbly, and took
one dripping step forward.

[Illustration: "Beyond, rocking wildly in a gilded boat, sat two people
and a placid swan."]

"I fancy we can manage it now, Jones," said Ellis, cheerfully, turning
around; but Jones did not answer; he was running away, dashing and
splashing down the flooded forest. Beyond, rocking wildly in a gilded
boat, sat two people and a placid swan.

"Good Lord!" faltered Ellis, as the dragon turned with a little shriek.
"Is the whole Summer School being washed away?"

"No," she said excitedly, "but the dam broke. Helen and Professor Rawson
tried to save the swan-boat--we were giving tableaux from "Lohengrin"
and "The Rheingold"--and--oh! oh! oh! such a torrent came! Helen--there
she is in armour--Helen tried to paddle the boat, but the swans pulled
the other way, and they flapped so wildly that Helen called for help.
Then one of the Rhine-maidens--Professor Rawson--waded in and got
aboard, but the paddle broke and they were adrift. Then one of those
horrid swans got loose, and everybody screamed, and the water rose
higher and higher, and nobody helped anybody, so, so--as I swim well, I
jumped in without waiting to undress--you see I had been acting the
dragon, Fafnir, and I went in just as I was; but the papier-mâché dragon
kept turning turtle with me, and first I knew I was being spun around
like a top."

There was a silence; they stood watching Jones scrambling after the
swan-boat, which had come to grief in shallow water. Professor Rawson,
the Rhine-maiden, gave one raucous and perfunctory shriek as Jones
floundered alongside--for the garb of the normal Rhine-daughter is
scanty, and Professor Rawson's costume, as well as her maidenly
physique, was almost anything except redundant.

As for Helen, sometime known as brown-eyes, she rose to her slim height,
all glittering in tin armour, and gave Jones a smile of heavenly
gratitude that shot him through and through his Norfolk jacket.

"Don't look!" said Professor Rawson, in a voice which, between the
emotions of recent terror and present bashfulness, had dwindled to a
squeak. "Don't look; I'm going to jump." And jump she did, taking to the
water with a trifle less grace than the ordinary Rhine-maiden.

There was a spattering splash, a smothered squawk which may have been
emitted by the swan, and the next moment Professor Rawson was churning
toward dry land, her wreath of artificial seaweed over one eye, her
spectacles glittering amid her dank tresses.

Jones looked up at brown-eyes balancing in the bow of the painted boat.

"I can get you ashore quite dry--if you don't mind," he said.

She considered the water; she considered Jones; she looked carefully at
the wallowing Rhine-daughter.

"Are you sure you can?" she asked.

"Perfectly certain," breathed Jones.

"I am rather heavy----"

The infatuated man laughed.

"Well, then, I'll carry the swan," she said calmly; and, seizing that
dignified and astonished bird, she walked demurely off the prow of the
gaudy boat into the arms of Jones.

To Ellis and the grey-eyed dragon, and to Professor Rawson, who had
crawled to a dry spot on the ridge, there was a dreadful fascination in
watching that swaying pyramid of Jones, Lohengrin, and swan tottering
landward, knee-deep through the flood. The pyramid swayed dangerously at
times; but the girl in the tin armour clasped Jones around the neck and
clung to the off leg of the swan, and Jones staggered on, half-strangled
by the arm and buffeted by the flapping bird, until his oozing shoes
struck dry land.

"Hurrah!" cried Ellis, his enthusiasm breaking out after an agonizing
moment of suspense; and Miss Sandys, forgetting her plight, waved her
lizard claws and hailed rescuer and rescued with a clear-voiced cheer as
they came up excited and breathless, hustling before them the outraged
swan, who waddled furiously forward, craning its neck and snapping.

"_What is that?_" muttered Jones aside to Ellis as the dragon and
Lohengrin embraced hysterically. He glanced toward the Rhine-maiden, who
was hiding behind a tree.

"Rhine wine with the cork pulled," replied Ellis, gravely. "Go up to
camp and get her your poncho. I'll do what I can to make things
comfortable in camp."

The girl in armour was saying, "You poor, brave dear! How perfectly
splendid it was of you to plunge into the flood with all that pasteboard
dragon-skin tied to you--like Horatius at the bridge. Molly, I'm simply
overcome at your bravery!"

And all the while she was saying this, Molly Sandys was saying: "Helen,
how did you ever dare to try to save the boat, with those horrid swans
flapping and nipping at you every second! It was the most courageous
thing I ever heard of, and I simply revere you, Helen Gay!"

Jones, returning from camp with his poncho, said: "There's a jolly fire
in camp and plenty of provisions;" and sidled toward the tree behind
which Professor Rawson was attempting to prevent several yards of
cheese cloth from adhering too closely to her outline.

"Go away!" said that spinster, severely, peering out at him with a
visage terminating in a length of swan-like neck which might have been
attractive if feathered.

"I'm only bringing you a poncho," said Jones, blushing.

Ellis heard a smothered giggle behind him, but when he turned Molly
Sandys had shrunk into her dragon-skin, and Helen Gay had lowered the
vizor of her helmet.

"I think we had better go to the camp-fire," he said gravely. "It's only
a step."

"We think so, too," they said. "Thank you for asking us, Mr. Ellis."

So Ellis led the way; after him slopped the dragon, its scaled tail
dragging sticks and dead leaves in its wake; next waddled the swan,
perforce, prodded forward by the brown-eyed maid in her tin armor.
Professor Rawson, mercifully disguised in a rubber poncho, under which
her thin shins twinkled, came in the rear, gallantly conducted by Jones
in oozing shoes.




In the silence befitting such an extraordinary occasion the company
formed a circle about the camp-fire.

Presently Professor Rawson looked sharply at the damp dragon. "Child!"
she exclaimed, "you ought to take that off this instant!"

"But--but I haven't very much on," protested Molly Sandys with a shiver.
"I'm only dressed as a--a page."

"It can't be helped," retorted the professor with decision; "that dragon
is nothing but soaking pulp except where the tail is on fire!"

Ellis hastily set his foot on the sparks, just as Molly Sandys jumped.
There was a tearing, ripping sound, a stifled scream, and three-quarters
of a page in blue satin and lisle thread, wearing the head and shoulders
of a dragon, shrank down behind Professor Rawson's poncho-draped figure.

"Here's my poncho," cried Ellis, hastily; "I am awfully sorry I ripped
your gown--I mean your pasteboard tail--but you switched it into the
fire and it was burning."

"Have you something for me?" inquired Miss Gay, coloring, but calm; "I'm
not very comfortable, either."

Jones's enraptured eyes lingered on the slim shape in mail; he hated to
do it, but he brought a Navajo blanket and draped in it the most
distractingly pretty figure his rather nearsighted eyes had ever

"There," explained Ellis, courteously, "is the shanty. I've hung a
blanket over it. Jones and I will sleep here by the fire."

"Sleep!" faltered Molly Sandys. "I think we ought to be starting----"

"The forests are flooded; we can't get you back to the Summer School
to-night," said Ellis.

Professor Rawson shuddered. "Do you mean that we are cut off from
civilization entirely?" she asked.

"Look!" replied Ellis.

The ridge on which the camp lay had become an island; below it roared a
spreading flood under a column of mist and spray; all about them the
water soused and washed through the forest; below them from the forks
came the pounding thunder of the falls.

"There's nothing to be alarmed at, of course," he said, looking at Molly

The grey eyes looked back into his. "Isn't there, really?" she asked.

"Isn't there?" questioned Miss Gray's brown eyes of Jones's pleasant,
nearsighted ones.

"No," signalled the orbs of Jones through his mud-spattered eyeglasses.

"I'm hungry," observed Professor Rawson in a patient but plaintive
voice, like the note of a widowed guinea-hen.

So they all sat down on the soft pine-needles, while Ellis began his
culinary sleight-of-hand; and in due time trout were frying merrily,
bacon sputtered, ash-cakes and coffee exhaled agreeable odors, and
mounds of diaphanous flapjacks tottered in hot and steaming fragrance on
either flank.

There were but two plates; Jones constructed bark platters for Professor
Rawson, Ellis and himself; Helen Gay shared knife and fork with Jones;
Molly Sandys condescended to do the same for Ellis; Professor Rawson had
a set of those articles to herself.

And there, in the pleasant glow of the fire, Molly Sandys, cross-legged
beside Ellis, drank out of his tin cup and ate his flapjacks; and Helen
Gay said shyly that never had she tasted such a banquet as this forest
fare washed down with bumpers of icy, aromatic spring water. As for
Professor Rawson, she lifted the hem of her poncho and discreetly dried
that portion of the Rhine-maiden's clothing which needed it; and while
she sizzled contentedly, she ate flapjack on flapjack, and trout after
trout, until merriment grew within her and she laughed when the younger
people laughed, and felt a delightful thrill of recklessness tingling
the soles of her stockings. And why not?

"It's a very simple matter, after all," declared Jones; "it's nothing
but a state of mind. I thought I was leading a simple life before I came
here, but I wasn't. Why? Merely because I was _not_ in a state of mind.
But"--and here he looked full at Helen Gay--"but no sooner had I begun
to appreciate the charm of the forest"--she blushed vividly "no sooner
had I realised what these awful solitudes might contain, than,
instantly, I found myself in a state of mind. Then, and then only, I
understood what heavenly perfection might be included in that frayed and
frazzled phrase, 'The Simple Life.'"

"I understood it long ago," said Ellis, dreamily.

"Did you?" asked Molly Sandys.

"Yes--long ago--about six hours ago"--he lowered his voice, for Molly
Sandys had turned her head away from the firelight toward the cooler
shadow of the forest.

"What happened," she asked, carelessly, "six hours ago?"

"I first saw you."

"No," she said calmly; "I first saw you and took your picture!" She
spoke coolly enough, but her color was bright.

"Ah, but before that shutter clicked, convicting me of a misdemeanor,
your picture had found a place----"

"Mr. Ellis!"

"Please let me----"



A silence.

"Then you must speak lower," she said, "and pretend to be watching the

Professor Rawson gleefully scraped her plate and snuggled up in her
poncho. She was very happy. When she could eat no more she asked Jones
what his theory might be concerning Wagner's influence on Richard
Strauss, and Jones said he liked waltzes, but didn't know that the man
who wrote The Simple Life had anything to do with that sort of thing.
And Professor Rawson laughed and laughed, and quoted a Greek proverb;
and presently arose and went into the shanty, dropping the blanket
behind her.

"Don't sit up late!" she called sleepily.

"Oh, _no_!" came the breathless duet.

"And don't forget to feed the swan!"

"Oh, _no_!"

A few minutes later a gentle, mellow, muffled monotone vibrated in the
evening air. It was the swan-song of Professor Rawson.

Ellis laid fresh logs on the blaze, lighted a cigarette, and returned to
his seat beside Molly Sandys, who sat, swathed in her poncho, leaning
back against the base of a huge pine.

"Jones _is_ right," he said; "the simple life--the older and simpler
emotions, the primal desire--_is_ a state of mind."

Molly Sandys was silent.

"And a state of--heart."

Miss Sandys raised her eyebrows.

"Why be insincere?" persisted Ellis.

"I'm not!"

"No--no--I didn't mean you. I meant everybody----"

"I'm somebody----"

"Indeed you _are_!"--much too warmly; and Molly Sandys looked up at the
evening star.

"The simple life," said Ellis, "is an existence replete with sincerity.
Impulse may play a pretty part in it; the capacity for the enjoyment of
simple things grows out of impulse; and impulse is a child's reasoning.
Therefore, impulse, being unsullied, unaffected in its source, is to be
respected, cherished, guided into a higher development, so that it may
become a sweet reasonableness, an unerring philosophy. Am I right, Miss

"I think you are."

"Well, then, following out my theorem logically, what is a man to do
when, without an instant's warning, he finds himself----"

There was a pause, a long one.

"Finds himself where?" asked Molly Sandys.

"In love."

"I--I don't know," she said, faintly. "Doesn't the simple life teach him
what is--is proper--on such brief acquaintance----"

"_I_ didn't say the acquaintance was brief. I only said the love was

"Oh--then I--I don't know----"


He wanted to say "Molly," and he didn't want to say "Miss Sandys," and
he couldn't keep his mouth shut, so that was the phonetic result--a
muttering monotone which embarrassed them both and maddened him till he
stammered out: "The moment I saw you I--I can't help it; it's the
simplest thing to do, anyhow--to tell you----"


"You, M-M-Mo-Mi-M----" He couldn't say it.

"Try," she whispered, stifling with laughter.

"Molly!" Like a cork from a popgun came the adored yet dreaded name.

Molly turned scarlet as Miss Gay and Jones looked up in pure amazement
from the farther side of the camp-fire.

"_Don't_ you know how to make love?" she whispered in a fierce little
voice; "_don't_ you? If you don't I am going off to bed."

"Molly!" That was better--in fact, it was so low that she could scarcely
hear him. But she said: "Doesn't Helen Gay look charming in her tin
armour? She _is_ the dearest, sweetest girl, Mr. Ellis. She's my cousin.
Do you think her pretty?"

"Do you know," whispered Ellis, "that I am in dead earnest?"

"Why, I--I hope so."

"Then tell me what chance I stand. I am in love; it came awfully
quickly, as quickly as you snapped that kodak--but it has come to

"But I am not in--love.

"That is why I speak. I can't endure it to let you go--Heaven knows

"Only to New York," she said, demurely, and, in a low voice, she named
the street and the number. "In an interval of sanity you shall have an
opportunity to reflect on what you have said to me, Mr. Ellis. Being
a--a painter--and a rather famous one--for so young a man--you are, no
doubt, impulsive--in love with love--_not_ with a girl you met six hours

"But if I _am_ in love with her?"

"We will argue that question another time."

"In New York?"

She looked at him, a gay smile curving her lips. Suddenly the clear,
grey eyes filled; a soft, impulsive hand touched his for an instant,
then dropped.

"Be careful," she said, unsteadily; "so far, I also have only been in
love with love."

Stunned by the rush of emotion he rose to his feet as she rose, eye
meeting eye in audacious silence.

Then she was gone, leaving him there--gone like a flash into the
camp-hut; he saw the blanket twitching where she had passed behind it;
he heard the muffled swan-song of her blanket-mate; he turned his
enchanted eyes upon Jones. Jones, his elbows on the ground, chin on his
palms, was looking up into the rapt face of Helen Gay, who sat by the
fire, her mailed knees gathered up in her slim hands, the reflection of
the blaze playing scarlet over her glittering tin armour.

"Why may I not call you Helen?" he was saying.

"Why should you, Mr. Jones?"

The infatuated pair were oblivious of him. _Should_ he sneeze? No; his
own case was too recent; their attitude fascinated him; he sat down
softly to see how it was done.

"If--some day--I might be fortunate enough to call you more than

"Mr. Jones!"

"I can't help it; I love you so--so undauntedly that I have got to tell
you _something_ about it! You don't mind, do you?"

"But I _do_ mind."

"Very much?"

Ellis thought: "Is _that_ the way a man looks when he says things like
that?" He shuddered, then a tremor of happiness seized him. Molly Sandys
had emerged from the hut.

Passing the fire, she came straight to Ellis. "It's horrid in there.
Don't you hear her? It's muffled, I know, because she's taken the swan
to bed with her, and it's asleep, too, and acting as though Professor
Rawson's head were a nest-egg. I am not sleepy; I--I believe I shall sit
up by this delightful fire all night. Make me a nest of blankets."

Jones and Helen were looking across the fire at them in silence; Ellis
unrolled some blankets, made a nest at the foot of the pine full in the
fire-glow. Swathed to her smooth white throat, Molly sank into them.

"Now," she said, innocently, "we can talk. Helen! Ask Mr. Jones to make
some coffee. Oh, _thank_ you, Mr. Jones! Isn't this perfectly delicious!
So simple, so primitive, so sincere"--she looked at Ellis--"so jolly. If
the simple life is only a state of mind I can understand how easy it is
to follow it to sheerest happiness." And in a low voice, to Ellis: "Can
_you_ find happiness in it, too?"

Across the fire Helen called softly to them: "Do you want some toasted
cheese, too? Mr. Jones knows how to make it."

A little later, Jones, toasting bread and cheese, heard a sweet voice
softly begin the Swan-Song. It was Helen. Molly's lovely, velvet voice
joined in; Ellis cautiously tried his barytone; Jones wisely remained
mute, and the cheese sizzled a discreet tremolo. It was indeed the
swan-song of the heart-whole and fancy-free--the swan-song of the
unawakened. For the old order of things was passing away--had passed.
And with the moon mounting in silvered splendor over the forest, the
newer order of life--the simpler, the sweeter--became so plain to them
that they secretly wondered, as they ate their toast and cheese, how
they could have lived so long, endured so long, the old and dull
complexity of a life through the eventless days of which their hearts
had never quickened to the oldest, the most primitive, the simplest of

And so, there, under the burnished moon, soberly sharing their toasted
cheese, the muffled swan-song of the incubating maiden thrilling their
enraptured ears, began for them that state of mind in the inviolate
mystery of which the passion for the simpler life is hatched.

"If we only had a banjo!" sighed Helen.

"I have a jew's-harp," ventured Jones. "I am not very musical, but every
creature likes to emit some sort of melody."

Ellis laughed.

"Why not?" asked Helen Gay, quickly; "after all, what simpler instrument
can you wish for?" And she laughed at Jones in a way that left him

So there, in the moonlight and the shadows of the primeval pines,
Jones--simplest of men with simplest of names--produced the simplest of
all musical instruments, and, looking once into the beautiful eyes of
Helen, quietly began the simplest of all melodies--the Spanish Fandango.

And for these four the simple life began.

       *       *       *       *       *

I waited for a few moments, but Williams seemed to consider that there
was nothing more to add. So I said:

"Did they marry those two girls?"

He glanced at me in a preoccupied manner without apparently

"Did they marry 'em?" I repeated, impatiently.

"What? Oh, yes, of course."

"Then why didn't you say so?"

"I didn't have to say so. Didn't you notice the form in which I ended?"

"What's that got to do with it? You're not telling me a short story,
you're telling me what really happened. And what really happens never
ends artistically."

"It does when I tell it," he said, with a self-satisfied smile. "Let
Fate do its worst; let old man Destiny get in his work; let Chance fix
up things to suit herself. I wait until that trio finishes, then _I_
step in and tell the truth in my own way. And, by gad! when I get
through, Fate, Chance, and Destiny set up a yell of impotent fury and
Truth looks at herself in the mirror in delighted astonishment, amazed
to discover in herself attractions which she never suspected."

"In other words," said I, "Fate no longer has the final say-so."

"Not while the short-story writer exists," he grinned. "It's up to him.
Fate slaps your face midway in a pretty romance. All right. But when I
make a record of the matter I pick, choose, sort, re-assort my box of
words, and when things are going too rapidly I wink at Fate with my
tongue in my cheek and round up everybody so amiably that nobody knows
exactly what did happen--and nobody even stops to think because
everybody has already finished the matter in their own minds to their
own satisfaction."





After a while I repeated: "They _did_ marry, didn't they?"

"What do _you_ think?"

"I'm perfectly certain they did."

"Well, then, what more do you want?" he laughed.

"Another of your reminiscences disguised as fiction," I said, tinkling
my spoon on the edge of my tumbler to attract the waiter.

"Two more," I said, lighting a caporal cigarette, the penetrating aroma
of which drifted lazily through forgotten years, drawing memory with it
in its fragrant back-draught.

"Do you remember Seabury's brother?" he asked.

"Beaux Arts? Certainly. Architect, wasn't he?"

"Yes, but he came into a lot of money and started for home to hit a

"Little chump," I said; "I remember him. There was a promising architect

"Oh, I don't know. He is doing a lot to his money."


"Of course. Otherwise I should have said that his money is doing a lot
to him."

"Cut out these fine shades and go back to galley-proof," I said,
sullenly. "What about him, anyway?"

Williams said, slowly: "A thing happened to that man which had no right
to happen anywhere except in a musical comedy. But," he shrugged his
shoulders, "everybody's lives are really full of equally grotesque
episodes. The trouble is that the world is too serious to discover any
absurdity in itself. We writers have to do that for it. For example,
there was Seabury's brother. Trouble began the moment he saw her."

"Saw who?" I interrupted.

"Saw her! Shut up!"

I did so. He continued:

       *       *       *       *       *

They encountered one another under the electric lights in the wooden
labyrinth which forms the ferry terminal of the Sixth Avenue Elevated
Railroad, she hastening one way, he hurrying the opposite. There was
ample room for them to pass each other; it may have been because she was
unusually pretty, it may have been his absent-mindedness, but he made
one of those mistakes which everybody makes once in a lifetime: he
turned to the left, realised what he was doing, wheeled hastily to the
right--as she, too, turned--only to meet her face to face, politely
dodge, meet again, lose his head and begin a heart-breaking
contra-dance, until, vexed and bewildered, she stood perfectly still,
and he, redder than she, took the opportunity to slink past her and

"Hey!" said a sarcastic voice, as, blinded with chagrin, he found
himself attempting to force a locked wooden gate. "You want to go the
other way, unless you're hunting for the third rail."

"No, I don't," he said, wrathfully; "I want to go uptown."

"That's what I said; you want to go the other way, even if you don't
know where you want to go," yawned the gateman disdainfully.

Seabury collected his scattered wits and gazed about him. Being a New
Yorker, and acquainted with the terminal labyrinth, he very quickly
discovered his error, and, gripping suit-case and golf-bag more firmly,
he turned and retraced his steps at the natural speed of a good New
Yorker, which is a sort of a meaningless lope.

Jammed into the familiar ticket line, he peered ahead through the yellow
glare of light and saw the charming girl with whom he had danced his
foolish contra-dance just receiving her ticket from the boxed automaton.
Also, to his satisfaction, he observed her disappear through the
turnstile into the crush surging forward alongside of the cars, and,
when he presently deposited his own ticket in the chopper's box, he had
no more expectation of ever again seeing her than he had of doing
something again to annoy and embarrass her.

But even in Manhattan Destiny works overtime, and Fate gets busy in a
manner that no man knoweth; and so, personally though invisibly
conducted, Seabury lugged his suit-case and golf-bag aboard a train,
threaded his way into a stuffy car and took the only empty seat
remaining; and a few seconds later, glancing casually at his right-hand
neighbour, he blushed to find himself squeezed into a seat beside his
unusually attractive partner in the recent contra-dance.

That she had already seen him, the calm indifference in her blue eyes,
the poise of her flushed face, were evidence conclusive.

He shrank back, giving her all the room he could, set his bag of
golf-clubs between his knees, and looked innocent. First, as all New
Yorkers do, he read the line of advertisements opposite with the usual
personal sense of resentment; then he carelessly scanned the people
across the aisle. As usual, they resembled everybody he had never
particularly noticed; he fished out the evening paper, remembered that
he had read it on the ferryboat, stuck it into his golf-bag, and
contemplated the battered ends of his golf-clubs.

Station after station flashed yellow lamps along the line of car
windows; passengers went and passengers took their places; in one of the
streets below he caught a glimpse of a fire engine vomiting sparks and
black smoke; in another an ambulance with a squalid assemblage crowded
around a policeman who was emerging from a drug store.

He had pretty nearly succeeded in forgetting the girl and his
mortification; he cast a calmly casual glance over his well-fitting
trousers and shoes. The edge of a shoe-lace lay exposed, and he
leisurely remedied this untidy accident, leaning over and tying the lace
securely with a double knot.

Fourteenth, Eighteenth, Twenty-third, ran the stations. He gathered his
golf-bag instinctively and sat alert, prepared to rise and leave the car
with dignity.

"Twenty-eighth!" It was his station. Just as he rose the attractive girl
beside him sprang up, and at the same instant his right leg was jerked
from under him and he sat down in his seat with violence. Before he
comprehended what had happened, the girl, with a startled exclamation,
fell back into her seat, and he felt a spasmodic wrench at his foot

Astonished, he struggled to rise once more, but something held him--his
foot seemed to be caught; and as he turned he encountered her bewildered
face and felt another desperate tug which brought him abruptly into his
seat again.

"What on earth is the matter?" he asked.

[Illustration: "'I--I don't know,' she stammered; 'my shoe seems tied to

"I--I don't know," she stammered; "my shoe seems to be tied to yours."

"Tied!" he cried, bending down in a panic, "wasn't that _my_ shoe-lace?"
His golf-bag fell, he seized it and set it against the seat between
them. "Hold it a moment," he groaned. "I tied your shoe-lace to mine!"

"_You_ tied it!" she repeated, furiously.

"I saw a shoe-lace--I thought it was mine--I tied it fast--in a
d-d-double knot----"

"Untie it at once!" she said, crimson to the roots of her hair.

"Great Heavens, madam! I didn't mean to do it! I'll fix it in a

"Don't," she whispered, fiercely; "the people opposite are looking at
us! Do you wish to hold us both up to ridicule?" He straightened up,
thoroughly flurried.

"But--this is my station--" he began.

"It is mine, too. I'd rather sit here all night than have those people
see you untie your shoe from mine! How--how _could_ you----"

"I've explained that I didn't mean to do it," he returned, dropping into
the breathless undertone in which she spoke. "Happening to glance down,
I saw a shoe-lace end and thought my shoe was untied----"

She looked at him scornfully.

"And I tied it tight, that's all. I'm horribly mortified; this is the
second time I've appeared to disadvantage----"

"People in New York usually turn to the right; even horses----"

"I doubt," he said, "that you can make me feel much worse than I feel
now, but it's a sort of a horrible relief to know what a fool you think

She said nothing, sitting there, cooling her hot face in the breeze
from the forward door; he, numb with chagrin, stole an apprehensive
glance at the passengers opposite. Nobody appeared to have observed
their plight, and he ventured to say so in a low voice.

"Are you certain?" she asked, her own voice not quite steady.

"Perfectly. Look! Nobody is eying our feet."

Her own small feet were well tucked up under her gown; she instinctively
drew them further in; he felt a little tug; they both coloured

"This is simply unspeakable," she said, looking straight ahead of her
through two bright tears of mortification.

"Suppose," he whispered, "you edge your foot a trifle this way--I think
I can cut the knot with my penknife--" He glanced about him stealthily.
"Shall I try?"

"Not now. Wait until those people go."

"But some of them may live in Harlem."

"I--I can't help it. Do you suppose I'm going to let you lean over
before all those people and try to untie our shoes?"

"Do you mean to sit here until they're all gone?" he asked, appalled.

"I do. Terrible as the situation is, we've got to conceal it."

"Even if some of them go to the end of the line?"

"I don't care!" She turned on him with a hint of that pretty fierceness
again. "Do you know what you've done? You've affronted and mortified me
and humiliated me beyond endurance. I have a guest to dine with me: I
shall not arrive before midnight!"

"Do you suppose," he said miserably, "that anything you say can add to
my degradation? Can't you imagine how a man must feel who first of all
makes a four-footed fool of himself before the most attractive girl

"Don't say that!" she cried, hotly.

"Yes, I will! You are! And I dodged and tumbled about like a headless
chicken and ran into the wrong gate. I wish I'd climbed out on the third
rail! And then, when I hoped I'd never see you again, I found myself
beside you, and--Good Heavens! I lost no time in beginning my capers
again and doing the most abandoned deed a man ever accomplished on

She appeared to be absorbed in contemplation of a breakfast-food
advertisement; her color was still high; at times she worried her under
lip with her white teeth, but her breath rose and fell under the fluffy
bosom of her gown with more regularity, and the two bright tears in her
eyes had dried unshed. Wrath may have dried them.

"I wish it were possible," he said very humbly, "for you to see the

"Humour!" she repeated, menacingly.

"No--I didn't mean that, I meant the--the----"

"You did! You meant the humour of the situation. I will answer you. I do
_not_ see the humour of it!"

"You are quite right," he admitted, looking furtively at the edge of her
gown which concealed his right foot. "It is, as you say, simply ghastly
to be tied together by the feet. Don't you suppose I could--without
awakening suspicion--cut the--the laces with a penknife?"

"I beg you will attempt nothing whatever until this car is empty."

"Certainly," he said. "I will do anything in the world I can to spare

She did not reply, and he sat there nervously balanced on the edge of
his seat, watching the lights of Harlem flash into view below. He had
been hungry; he was no longer. Appetite had been succeeded by a gnawing
anxiety. Again and again warm waves of shame overwhelmed him,
alternating with a sort of wild-eyed pity for the young girl who sat so
rigidly beside him, face averted. Once a mad desire to laugh seized him;
he wondered whether it might be a premonition of hysteria, and
shuddered. It did not seem as though he could possibly endure it
another second to be tied by the foot to this silently suffering and
lovely companion.

"Do you think," he said, hoarsely, "at the next station that if we rose
together--and kept step----"

She shook her head.

"A--a sort of lock-step," he explained, timidly.

"I would if I thought it possible," she replied under her breath; "but I
dare not. Suppose you should miss step! You are likely to do anything if
it's only sufficiently foolish."

"You could take my arm and pretend you are my lame sister," he ventured.

"Suppose the train started. Suppose, by any one of a thousand possible
accidents, you should become panic-stricken. What sort of a spectacle
would we furnish the passengers of this car? No! No! No! The worst of it
is almost over. My guest is there--astounded at my absence. Before I am
even half-way back to Twenty-eighth Street she will have become
sufficiently affronted to leave the house. I might as well go on to the
end of the road." She turned toward him hastily: "Where is the end of
this road?"

"Somewhere in the Bronx, I believe," he said, vaguely.

"That is hours from Twenty-eighth Street, isn't it?"

"I believe so."

The train whirled on; stations were far between, now. He sat so silent,
so utterly broken and downcast, that after a long while she turned to
him with a hint of softness in her stern reserve.

"Of course," she said, "I do not suppose you deliberately intended to
tie our feet together. I am not absurd. But the astonishment, the horror
of finding what you had done exasperated me for a moment. I'm cool
enough now; besides, it is perfectly plain that you are the sort of man
one is--is accustomed to know."

"I hope not!" he said, devoutly.

"Oh, I mean--" She hesitated, and the glimmer of a smile touched her
eyes, instantly extinguished, however.

"I understand," he said. "You mean that it's lucky your shoe-laces are
tied to the shoe-lace of a man of your own sort. I hope to Heaven you
may find a little comfort in that."

"I do," she said, with the uncertain violet light in her eyes again.
"It's bad enough, goodness knows, but I--I am very sure you did not

"You are perfectly right; I mean well, as they say of all chumps. And
the worst of it is," he added, wildly, "I never before knew that I was
a chump! I never before saw any symptoms. Would you believe me, I never
in all my life have been such an idiot as I was in those first few
minutes that I crossed your path. How on earth to account for it; how to
explain, to ask pardon, to--to ever forget it! As long as I live I shall
wake at night with the dreadful chagrin burning my ears off. Isn't it
the limit? And I--I shouldn't have felt so crushed if it had been
anybody excepting you----"

"I do not understand," she said gravely.

"I do," he muttered.





The conversation dropped there: she gazed thoughtfully out upon the
Teutonic magnificence of One Hundred and Twenty-fifth Street by
gaslight; he, arms folded, relapsed into bitter contemplation of the
breakfast-food. So immersed he became in the picture of an unctuous
little boy stuffing himself to repletion under the admiring smirk of a
benevolent parent that he forgot his manacles, and attempting to stretch
his cramped leg, returned to his senses in a hurry.

"I think," she suggested, quietly, "that, if you care to stretch, I
wouldn't mind it, either. Can you do it discreetly?"

"I'll try," he said in a whisper. "Shall I count three?"

She nodded.

"One, two, three," he counted, and they cautiously stretched their legs.

"I now know how the Siamese twins felt," he said, sullenly. "No wonder
they died young."

She laughed--a curious, little laugh which was one of the most agreeable
sounds he had ever heard.

"I take it for granted," he said, "that you will always cherish for me a
wholesome and natural hatred."

"I shall never see you again," she replied, simply.

That silenced him for a while; he fished about in his intellect to find
mitigating circumstances. There was none that he knew of.

"Suppose--under pleasanter auspices, we should some day meet?" he

"We never shall."

"How do you know?"

"It is scarcely worth while speculating upon such an improbability," she
said, coldly.


She turned toward him. "You desire to know what my attitude would be
toward you?"

"Yes, I do."

"It would be one of absolutely amiable indifference--if you really wish
to know," she said so sweetly that he was quite sure his entire body
shrank at least an inch.

"By the way," she added, "the last passenger has left this car."

"By Jove!" he exclaimed, sitting bolt upright. "Now's our time. Would
you mind----"

"With the very greatest pleasure," she said, quickly; "please count one,
two, three."

He counted; there came a discreet movement, and from under the hem of
her gown there appeared a dainty shoe, accompanied by a larger masculine
companion. He bent down, his fingers seemed to be all thumbs, and he
grew redder and redder.

"Perhaps I can do it," she said, stripping off her gloves and bending
over. A stray tendril of bright hair brushed his cheek as their heads
almost came together.

"Goodness, what a dreadful knot!" she breathed, her smooth fingers busy.
The perfume of her hair, her gloves, her gown thrilled him; he looked at
her face, now flushed with effort; his eyes fell on her delicate hands,
her distractingly pretty foot, in its small, polished shoe.

"Patience," she said, calmly; "this knot must give way----"

"If it doesn't----"

"Madness lies that way," she breathed. "Wait! Don't dare to move your

"We are approaching a station; shall I cut it?" he asked.

"No--wait! I think I have solved it. There!" she cried with a breathless
laugh. "We are free!"

There was not an instant to lose, for the train had already stopped;
they arose with one accord and hurried out into the silvery Harlem
moonlight--which does not, perhaps, differ from normal moonlight,
although it seemed to him to do astonishing tricks with her hair and
figure there on the deserted platform, turning her into the loveliest
and most unreal creature he had ever seen in all his life.

"There ought to be a train pretty soon," he said cheerfully.

She did not answer.

"Do you mind my speaking to you now that we are----"

"Untethered?" she said with a sudden little flurry of laughter. "Oh, no;
why should I care what happens to me now, after taking a railroad
journey tied to the shoe-strings of an absent-minded stranger?"

"Please don't speak so--so heartlessly----"

"Heartlessly? What have hearts to do with this evening's lunacy?" she
asked, coolly.

He had an idea, an instinctive premonition, but it was no explanation to
offer her.

Far away up the track the starlike headlight of a train glittered: he
called her attention to it, and she nodded. Neither spoke for a long
while; the headlight grew larger and yellower; the vicious little train
came whizzing in, slowed, halted with a jolt. He put her aboard and
followed into a car absolutely empty save for themselves. When they had
gravely seated themselves side by side she looked around at him and said
without particular severity: "I can see no reason for our going back
together; can you?"

"Yes," he answered with such inoffensive and guileless conviction that
she was silent.

He went on presently: "Monstrous as my stupidity is, monumental ass as I
must appear to you, I am, as a matter of fact, rather a decent
fellow--the sort of man a girl need not flay alive to punish."

"I do not desire to punish you. I do not expect to know you----"

"Do you mean 'expect,' or 'desire'?"

"I mean both, if you insist." There was a sudden glimmer in her clear
eyes that warned him; but he went on:

"I beg you to give me a chance to prove myself not such a clown as you
think me."

"But I don't think about you at all!" she explained.

"Won't you give me a chance?"


"Somebody you--we both know--I mean to say----"

"You mean, will I sit here and compare notes with you to find out
whether we both know Tom, Dick, and Harry? No, I will not."

"I mean--so that--if you don't mind--somebody can vouch for me----"

"No," she said, decisively.

"I mean--I would be so grateful--and I admire you tremendously----"

"Please do not say that."

"No--I won't, of course; I don't admire anybody very much, and I didn't
dream of being offensive--only--I--now that I've known you----"

"You don't know me," she observed, icily.

"No, of course, I don't know you at all; I'm only talking to you----"

"A nice comment upon us both," she observed; "could anything be more
pitifully common?"

"But being tied together, how could we avoid talking about it?" he
pleaded. "When you're tied up like that to a person, it's per--permitted
to speak, you know----"

"We talked entirely too much," she said with decision. "Now we are not
tied at all, and I do not see what decent excuse we can have for
conversing about anything.... Do you?"

"Yes, I do."

"What excuse?" she asked.

"Well, for one thing, a sense of humour. A nice spectacle we should be,
you in one otherwise empty car, I in another, bored to death----"

"Do you think," she said, impatiently, "that I require anybody's society
to save myself from _ennui_?"

"No--but I require----"

"That is impertinent!"

"I didn't mean to be; you must know that!" he said.

She looked out of the window.

"I wonder," he began in a cheerful and speculative tone, taking courage
from her silence--"I wonder whether you know----"

"I will not discuss people I know with you," she said.

"Then let us discuss people I know," he rejoined, amiably.

"Please don't."

"Please let me----"


"Are you never going to forgive me?" he asked.

"I shall forget," she said, meaningly.



"Please don't----"

"You are always lingering dangerously close to the border of
impertinence," she said. "I do not wish to be rude or ungracious. I have
been unpardonably annoyed, and--when I consider my present false
situation--I am annoyed still more. Let me be unmistakably clear and
concise; I do not feel any--anger--toward you; I have no feeling
whatever toward you; and I do not ever expect to see you again. Let it
rest so. I will drop you my best curtsey when you lift your hat to me at
Twenty-ninth Street. Can a guilty man ask more?"

"Your punishment is severe," he said, flushing.

"My punishment? Who am I punishing, if you please?"


"What folly! I entertain no human emotions toward you; I have no desire
to punish you. How could I punish you--if I wished to?"

"By doing what you are doing."

"And what is that?" she asked rather softly.

"Denying me any hope of ever knowing you."

"You are unfair," she said, biting her lip. "I do not deny you that
'hope,' as you choose to call it. Consider a moment. Had you merely seen
me on the train you could not have either hoped or even desired ever to
know me. Suppose for a moment--" she flushed, but her voice was cool and
composed "suppose you were attracted to me--thought me agreeable to look
at? You surely would never have dreamed of speaking to me and asking
such a thing. Why, then, should you take unfair advantage of an accident
and ask it now? You have no right to--nor have I to accord you what you
say you desire."

She spoke very sweetly, meeting his eyes without hesitation.

"May I reply to you?" he asked soberly.

"Yes--if you wish."

"You will not take it as an affront?"

"Not--not if--" She looked at him. "No," she said.

"Then this is my reply: Wherever I might have seen you I should
instantly have desired to know you. That desire would have caused you no
inquietude; I should have remained near you without offense, perfectly
certain in my own mind that somehow and somewhere I must manage to know
you; and to that end--always without offense, and without your
knowledge--I should have left the train when you did, satisfied myself
where you lived, and then I should have scoured the city, and moved
heaven and earth to find the proper person who might properly ask your
permission to receive me. That is what I should have done if I had
remained thirty seconds in the same car with you.... Are you offended?"

"No," she said.

They journeyed on for some time, saying nothing; she, young face bent,
sensitive lips adroop, perhaps considering what he said; he, cradling
his golf-sticks, trying to keep his eyes off her and succeeding very

"I wonder what your name is?" she said, looking up at him.

"James Seabury," he replied so quickly that it was almost pathetic.

She mused, frowning a little: "Where have I heard your name?" she asked
with an absent-minded glance at him.

"Oh--er--around, I suppose," he suggested, vaguely.

"But I have heard it. Are you famous?"

"Oh, no," he said quickly. "I'm an architect, or ought to be. Fact is,
I'm so confoundedly busy golfing and sailing and fishing and shooting
and hunting that I have very little time for business."

"What a confession!" she exclaimed, laughing outright; and the beauty
that transfigured her took his breath away. But her laughter was brief,
her eyes grew more serious than ever: "So you are not in business?"


"I am employed," she said calmly, looking at him.

"Are you?" he said, astonished.

"So, you see," she added gaily, "I should have very little time to see

"You mean me?"

"Yes, you, for example."

"You don't work all the while, do you?" he asked.


"All the time?"

"I dine--at intervals."

"That's the very thing!" he said with enthusiasm.

She looked at him gravely.

"Don't you see," he went on, "as soon as you'll let me know you my
sister will call, and then you'll call, and then my sister will

She was suddenly laughing again--a curious laugh, quite free and

"Of course, you'll tell your sister how we met," she suggested; "she'll
be so anxious to know me when she hears all about it."

"Do you suppose," he said coolly, "that I don't know one of my own sort
whenever or however I happen to meet her?"

"Men cannot always tell; I grant you women seldom fail in placing one
another at first glance; but men rarely possess that instinct....
Besides, I tell you I am employed."

"What of it? Even if you wore the exceedingly ornamental uniform of a
parlor-maid it could not worry me."

"Do you think your sister would hasten to call on a saleswoman at
Blumenshine's?" she asked carelessly.

"Nobody wants her to," he retorted, amused.

"Or on a parlor-maid--for example?"

"Let her see you first; you can't shock her after that.... Are you?" he
inquired gently--so gently, so pleasantly, that she gave him a swift
look that set his heart galloping.

"Do you really desire to know me?" she asked. But before he could answer
she sprang up, saying: "Good gracious! This is Twenty-eighth Street! It
seems impossible!"

He could not believe it, either, but he fled after her, suit-case and
golf-bag swinging; the gates slammed, they descended the stairs and
emerged on Twenty-eighth Street. "I live on Twenty-ninth Street," she
said; "shall we say good-bye here?"

"I should think not!" he replied with a scornful decision that amazed
her, but, curiously enough, did not offend her. They walked up
Twenty-eighth Street to Fifth Avenue, crossed, turned north under the
white flare of electricity, then entered Twenty-ninth Street slowly,
side by side, saying nothing.





She halted at the portal of an old-fashioned house which had been turned
into an apartment hotel--a great brownstone mansion set back from the
street. A severely respectable porter in livery appeared and bowed to
her, but when his apoplectic eyes encountered Seabury's his shaven jaw
dropped and a curious spasm appeared to affect his knees.

She did not notice it; she turned to Seabury and, looking him straight
in the face, held out her hand.

"Good-night," she said. "Be chivalrous enough to find out who I
am--without sacrificing me.... You--you have not displeased me."

He took her hand, held it a moment, then released it.

"I live here," he said calmly.

A trifle disconcerted, she searched his face. "That is curious," she
said uneasily.

"Oh, not very. I have bachelor apartments here; I've been away from town
for three months. Here is my pass-key," he added, laughing, and to the
strangely paralyzed porter he tossed his luggage with a nod and a
pleasant: "You didn't expect me for another month, William, did you?"

"That explains it," she said smiling, a tint of excitement in her pretty
cheeks. "I've been here only for a day or two."

They were entering now, side by side; he followed her into the elevator.
The little red-haired boy, all over freckles and gilt buttons, who
presided within the cage, gaped in a sort of stupor when he saw Seabury.

"Well, Tommy," inquired that young gentleman, "what's the matter?"

"What floor?" stammered Tommy, gazing wildly from one to the other.

"The usual one, in my case," said Seabury, surprised.

"The usual one, in my case," said the girl, looking curiously at the
agitated lad. The cage shot up to the third floor; they both rose, and
he handed her out. Before either could turn the elevator hurriedly
dropped, leaving them standing there together. Then, to the
consternation of Seabury, the girl quietly rang at one of the only two
apartments on the floor, and the next instant a rather smart-looking
English maid opened the door.

Seabury stared; he turned and examined the corridor; he saw the number
on the door of the elevator shaft; he saw the number over the door.

"There seems to be," he began slowly, "something alarming the matter
with me to-night. I suppose--I suppose it's approaching dementia, but do
you know that I have a delusion that this apartment is mine?"

"Yours!" faltered the girl, turning pale.

"Well--it was once--before I left town. Either that or incipient lunacy
explains my hallucination."

The maid stood at the door gazing at him in undisguised astonishment.
Her pretty mistress looked at her, looked at Seabury, turned and cast an
agitated glance along the corridor--just in time to catch a glimpse of
the curly black whiskers and the white and ghastly face of the
proprietor peering at them around the corner. Whiskers and pallor
instantly vanished. She looked at Seabury.

"Please come in a moment, Mr. Seabury," she said calmly. He followed her
into the familiar room decorated with his own furniture, and lined with
his own books, hung with his own pictures. At a gesture from her he
seated himself in his own armchair; she sat limply in a chair facing

"Are these your rooms?" she asked unsteadily.

"I thought so, once. Probably there's something the matter with me."

"You did not desire to rent them furnished during your absence?"

"Not that I know of."

"And you have returned a month before they expected you, and I--oh, this
is infamous!" she cried, clenching her white hands. "How dared that
wretched man rent this place to me? How dared he!"

A long and stunning silence fell upon them--participated in by the
British maid.

Then Seabury began to laugh. He looked at the maid, he looked at her
angry and very lovely young mistress, looked at the tables littered with
typewriters and stationery, he caught sight of his own dining-room with
the little table laid for two. His gayety disconcerted her--he rose,
paced the room and returned.

"It seems my landlord has tried to turn a thrifty penny by leasing you
my rooms!" he said, soberly. "Is that it?"

She was close to tears, controlling her voice and keeping her
self-possession with a visible effort. "I--I am treasurer and secretary
for the new wing to--to St. Berold's Hospital," she managed to say.
"We--the women interested, needed an office--we employ several
typewriters, and--oh, goodness! What on earth will your sister think!"

"My sister? Why, she's at Seal Harbor----"

"Your sister was there visiting my mother. I came on to town to see our
architects; I wired her to come. She--she was to dine with me here
to-night! Sherry was notified!"

"My sister?"

"Certainly. What on earth did she think when she found me installed in
your rooms? And that's bad enough, but I invited her to dine and go over
the hospital matters--she's one of the vice presidents--and then--then
you tied our feet together and it's--what time is it?" she demanded of
her maid.

"It is midnight, mem," replied the maid in sepulchral tones.

"Is that man from Sherry's still there?"

"He is, mem."

Her mistress laid her charming head in her hands and covered her
agreeable features with a handkerchief of delicate and rather valuable

The silence at last was broken by Seabury addressing the maid: "Is that
dinner spoiled?"

"Quite, sir."

Her mistress looked up hastily: "Mr. Seabury, you are not going to----"

"Yes, I am; this is the time and the place!" And he rose with decision
and walked straight to the kitchen, where a stony-faced individual sat
amid the culinary ruins, a statue of despair.

"What I want you to do," said Seabury, "is to fix up a salad and some of
the cold duck, and attend to the champagne. Meanwhile I think I'll go
downstairs; I have an engagement to kill a man."

However, a moment later he thought better of it; _she_ was standing by
the mirror--his own mirror--touching her eyes with her lace handkerchief
and patting her hair with the prettiest, whitest hands.

"Kill him? Never: I'll canonize him!" muttered Seabury, enchanted.
Behind him he heard the clink of glass and china, the pleasant sound of
ice. She heard it, too, and turned.

"Of all the audacity!" she said in a low voice, looking at him under her
level brows. But there was something in her eyes that gave him
courage--and in his that gave her courage.... Besides, they were
dreadfully hungry.

       *       *       *       *       *

"You refuse to tell me?"

"I do," she said. "If you have not wit enough to find out my name
without betraying me to your sister you do not deserve to know my
name--or me."

It was nearly two o'clock, they had risen, and the gay little flowery
table remained between them; the salad and duck were all gone. But the
froth purred in their frail glasses, breaking musically in the
candle-lit silence.

"Will you tell me your name before I go?"

"I will not." Her bright eyes and fair young face defied him.

"Very well; as soon as I learn it I shall be more generous--for I have
something to tell you; and I'll do it, too!"

"Are you sure you will?" she asked, flushing up.

"Yes, I am sure."

"I may not care to hear what you have to say, Mr. Seabury."

They regarded one another intently, curiously. Presently her slender
hand fell as by accident on the stem of her wine-glass; he lifted his
glass: very, very slowly. She raised hers, looking at him over it.

"To--what I shall tell you--when I learn your name!" he said,

Faint fire burned in her cheeks; her eyes fell, then were slowly raised
to his; in silence, still looking at one another, they drank the toast.

       *       *       *       *       *

"Dammit!" I said, impatiently, "is that all?"

"Yes," he said, "that will be about all. I'm going home to bed."





My daughter Alida and my daughter Dulcima had gone to drive with the
United States Ambassador and his daughter that morning, leaving me at
the Hôtel with instructions as to my behaviour in their absence, and
injunctions not to let myself be run over by any cab, omnibus,
automobile, or bicycle whatever.

Considerably impressed by their solicitude, I retired to the
smoking-room, believing myself safe there from any form of vehicular
peril. But the young man from Chicago sauntered in and took a seat close
beside me, with benevolent intentions toward relieving my isolation.

I preferred any species of juggernaut to his rough riding over the
English language, so I left him murkily enveloped in the fumes of his
own cigar and sauntered out into the street.

The sky was cloudless; the air was purest balm. Through fresh clean
streets I wandered under the cool shadows of flowering chestnuts, and
presently found myself on the quay near the Pont des Arts, leaning over
and looking at the river slipping past between its walls of granite.

In a solemn row below me sat some two dozen fishermen dozing over their
sport. Their long white bamboo poles sagged, their red and white
quill-floats bobbed serenely on the tide. Truly here was a company of
those fabled Lotus-eaters, steeped in slumber; a dreamy, passionless
band of brothers drowsing in the sunshine.

Looking east along the grey stone quays I could see hundreds and
hundreds of others, slumbering over their fishpoles; looking west, the
scenery was similar.

"The fishing must be good here," I observed to an aged man, leaning on
the quay-wall beside me.

"_Comme ça_," he said.

I leaned there lazily, waiting to see the first fish caught. I am an
angler myself, and understand patience; but when I had waited an hour by
my watch I looked suspiciously at the aged man beside me. He was asleep,
so I touched him.

He roused himself without resentment. "Have you," said I, sarcastically,
"ever seen better fishing than this, in the Seine?"

"Yes," he said; "I once saw a fish caught."

"And when was that?" I asked.

"That," said the aged man, "was in 1853."

I strolled down to the lower quay, smoking. As I passed the row of
anglers I looked at them closely. They all were asleep.

Just above was anchored one of those floating _lavoirs_ in which the
washerwomen of Paris congregate to beat your linen into rags with flat
wooden paddles, and soap the rags snow-white at the cost of a few

The soapsuds from the washing floated off among the lines of the
slumbering fishermen. Perhaps that was one reason why the fish were
absent from the scenery. On the other hand, however, I was given to
understand that a large sewer emptied into the river near the Pont des
Arts, and that the fishing was best in such choice spots. Still
something certainly was wrong somewhere, for either the sewer and the
soapsuds had killed the fish, or they had all migrated up the sewer on
an inland and subterranean picnic to meet the elite among the rats of
Paris, and spend the balance of the day.

The river was alive with little white saucy steamboats, rushing up and
down the Seine with the speed of torpedo craft. There was a boat-landing
within a few paces of where I stood, so, when a boat came along and
stopped to discharge a few passengers, I stepped aboard, bound for
almost anywhere, and not over-anxious to get there too quickly. Neither
did I care to learn my own destination, and when the ticket agent in
naval uniform came along to inquire where I might be going, I told him
to sell me a pink ticket because it looked pretty. As all Frenchmen
believe that all Americans are a little mad, my request, far from
surprising the ticket agent, simply confirmed his national theory; and
he gave me my ticket very kindly, with an air of protection such as one
involuntarily assumes toward children and invalids.

"You are going to Saint Cloud," he said. "I'll tell you when to get off
the boat."

"Thank you," said I.

"You ought to be going the other way," he added.

"Why?" I asked.

"Because Charenton lies the other way," he replied, politely, and passed
on to sell his tickets.

Now I had forgotten much concerning Paris in my twenty years of absence.

There was a pretty girl sitting on the bench beside me, with elbows
resting on the railing behind. I glanced at her. She was smiling.

"Pardon, madame," said I, knowing enough to flatter her, though she had
"mademoiselle" written all over her complexion of peaches and
cream--"pardon, madame, but may I, a stranger, venture to address you
for a word of information?"

"You may, monsieur," she said, with a smile which showed an edge of
white teeth under her scarlet lips.

"Then, if you please, where is Charenton?"

"Up the river," she replied, smiling still.

"And what," said I, "is the principal feature of the town of Charenton?"

"The Lunatic Asylum, monsieur."

I thanked her and looked the other way.

Our boat was now flying past the Louvre. Above in the streets I could
see cabs and carriages passing, and the heads and shoulders of people
walking on the endless stone terraces. Below, along the river bank, our
boat passed between an almost unbroken double line of dozing fishermen.

Now we shot out from the ranks of _lavoirs_ and bathhouses, and darted
on past the Champ de Mars; past the ugly sprawling Eiffel Tower, past
the twin towers of the Trocadero, and out under the huge stone viaduct
of the Point du Jour.

Here the banks of the river were green and inviting. Cafés, pretty
suburban dance-houses, restaurants, and tiny hotels lined the shores. I
read on the signs such names as "The Angler's Retreat," "At the Great
Gudgeon," "The Fisherman's Paradise," and I saw sign-boards advertising
fishing, and boats to let.

"I should think," said I, turning to my pretty neighbor, "that it would
pay to remove these fisherman's signs to Charenton."

"Why?" she asked.

"Because," said I, "nobody except a Charentonian would ever believe that
any fish inhabit this river."

"Saint Cloud! Saint Cloud!" called out the ticket-agent as the boat
swung in to a little wooden floating pier on the left bank of the river.

The ticket-agent carefully assisted me over the bridge to the
landing-dock, and I whispered to him that I was the Duke of Flatbush and
would be glad to receive him any day in Prospect Park.

Then, made merry at my own wit, I strolled off up the steps that led to
the bank above.

There, perched high above the river, I found a most delightful little
rustic restaurant where I at once ordered luncheon served for me on the
terrace, in the open air.

The bald waiter sped softly away to deliver my order, and I sipped an
Amer-Picon, and bared my head to the warm breeze which swept up the
river from distant meadows deep in clover.

There appeared to be few people on the terrace. One young girl, however,
whom I had seen on the boat, I noticed particularly because she seemed
to be noticing me. Then, fearing that my stare might be misunderstood, I
turned away and soon forgot her when the bald waiter returned with an
omelet, bread and butter, radishes and a flask of white wine.

Such an omelet! such wine! such butter! and the breeze from the west
blowing sweet as perfume from a nectarine, and the green trees waving
and whispering, and the blessed yellow sunshine over all----

"Pardon, monsieur."

I turned. It was my pretty little Parisienne of the steamboat, seated at
the next small table, demurely chipping an egg.

"I beg _your_ pardon," said I, hastily, for the leg of my chair was
pinning her gown to the ground.

"It is nothing," she said brightly, with a mischievous glance under her

"My child," said I, "it was very stupid of me, and I am certainly old
enough to know better."

"Doubtless, monsieur; and yet you do not appear to be very, very old."

"I am very aged," said I--"almost forty-five." And I smiled a
retrospective smile, watching the bubbles breaking in my wine-glass.

Memory began to work, deftly, among the debris of past years. I saw
myself a student of eighteen, gayly promenading Paris with my tutor,
living a monotonous colourless life in a city of which I knew nothing
and saw nothing save through the windows of my English pension or in the
featureless streets of the American quarter, under escort of my tutor
and my asthmatic aunt, Miss Janet Van Twiller.

That year spent in Paris, to "acquire the language" in a house where
nothing but English was spoken, had still a vague, tender charm for me,
because in that year I was young. I grew older when I shook the tutor,
side-stepped my aunt, and moved across the river.

Once, only once, had the placid serenity of that year been broken. It
was one day--a day like this in spring--when, for some reason, even now
utterly unknown to me, I deliberately walked out of the house alone in
defiance of my tutor and my aunt, and wandered all day long through
unknown squares and parks and streets intoxicated with my own freedom.
And I remember, that day--which was the twin of this--sitting on the
terrace of a tiny café in the Latin Quarter, I drifted into idle
conversation with a demure little maid who was sipping a red syrup out
of a tall thin glass.

Twenty-seven years ago! And here I was again, in the scented spring
sunshine, with the same west wind whispering of youth and freedom, and
my heart not a day older.

"My child," said I to the little maid, "twenty-seven years ago you drank
pink strawberry syrup in a tall iced glass."

"I do not understand you, monsieur," she faltered.

"You cannot, mademoiselle. I am drinking to the memory of my dead

And I touched my lips to the glass.

"I wonder," she said, under her breath, "what I am to do with the rest
of the day?"

"I could have told you," said I--"twenty-seven years ago."

"Perhaps you could tell me better now?" she said, innocently.

I looked out into the east where the gold dome of the Tomb rose
glimmering through a pale-blue haze. "Under that dome lies an Emperor in
his crypt of porphyry," said I. "Deeper than his dust, bedded in its
stiff shroud of gold, lies my dead youth, sleeping forever in the heart
of this fair young world of spring."

I touched my glass idly, then lifted it.

"Yet," said I, "the pale sunshine of winter lies not unkindly on snow
and ice, sometimes. I drink to your youth and beauty, my child."

"Is that all?" she asked, wonder-eyed.

I thought a moment: "No, not all. Williams isn't the only autocratic
interpreter of Fate, Chance, and Destiny."

"Williams!" she repeated, perplexed.

"You don't know him. He writes stories for a living. But he'll never
write the story I might very easily tell you in the sunshine here."

After a pause she said: "Are you going to?"

"I think I will," I said. And my eyes fixed smiling upon the sunny
horizon, I began:

       *       *       *       *       *

Now, part of this story is to be vague as a mirrored face at dusk; and
part is to be as precise as the reflection of green trees in the glass
of the stream; and all is to be as capricious as the flight of that
wonderful butterfly of the South which is called Ajax by the reverent,
and The White Devil by the profane. Incidentally, it is the story of
Jones and the Dryad.

The profession of Jones was derided by the world at large. He collected
butterflies; and it may be imagined what the American public thought of
him when they did not think he was demented. But a large,
over-nourished and blasé millionaire, wearied of collecting pigeon-blood
rubies, first editions and Rembrandts, through sheer _ennui_ one day
commissioned Jones to gather for him the most magnificent and complete
collection of American butterflies that could possibly be secured--not
only single perfect specimens of the two sexes in each species, but
series on series of every kind, showing local varieties, seasonal
variations in size and colour, strange examples of albinism and
polymorphic phenomena--in fact, this large, benevolent and intellectual
capitalist wanted something which nobody else had, so he selected Jones
and damned the expense. Nobody else had Jones: that pleased him; Jones
was to secure specimens that nobody else had: and that would be doubly
gratifying. Therefore he provided Jones with a five-year contract, an
agreeable salary, turned him loose on a suspicious nation, and went back
to hunt up safe investments for an income the size of which had begun to
annoy him.

       *       *       *       *       *

"This part of the story is clear enough, is it not, my child?"

"Are _you_ Jones?"

"Don't ask questions," I said, seriously.

"The few delirious capers cut by Jones subsequent to the signing of the
contract consisted of a debauch at the Astor Library, a mad evening
with seven aged gentlemen at the Entomological Society, and the purchase
of a ticket to Florida. This last spasm was his undoing; he went for
butterflies, and the first thing he did was to trip over the maliciously
extended foot of Fate and fall plump into the open arms of Destiny. And
in a week he was playing golf. This part is sufficiently vague, I hope.
Is it?"

She said it was; so I continued:

       *       *       *       *       *

The Dryad, with her sleeves rolled up above her pretty elbows, was
preparing to assault a golf ball; Jones regarded the proceedings with
that inscrutable expression which, no doubt, is bestowed upon certain
creatures as a weapon for self-protection.

"Don't talk to me while I'm driving," said the Dryad.

"No," said Jones.

"Don't even say 'no'!" insisted the Dryad.

A sharp thwack shattered the silence; the golf ball sailed away toward
the fifth green, landing in a gully. "Oh, bother!" exclaimed the Dryad,
petulantly, as the small black caddie pattered forward, irons rattling
in his quiver. "Now, Mr. Jones, it is up to you"--doubtless a
classically mythological form of admonition common to Dryads but now

The Dryad, receiving no reply, looked around and beheld Jones, net
poised, advancing on tiptoe across the green.

"What is it--a snake?" inquired the Dryad in an unsteady voice.

"It is The White Devil!" whispered Jones.

The Dryad's skirts were short enough as it was, but she hastily picked
them up. She had a right to. "Does it bite?" she whispered, looking
carefully around in the grass. But all she could see was a strangely
beautiful butterfly settled on a blue wild blossom which swayed gently
in the wind on the edge of the jungle. So she dropped her skirts. She
had a right to.

Now, within a few moments of the hour when Jones had first laid eyes on
her, and she on Jones, he had confided to her his family history, his
ambitions, his ethical convictions, and his theories concerning the four
known forms of the exquisite Ajax butterfly of Florida. She had been
young enough to listen without yawning--which places her age somewhere
close to eighteen. Besides, she had remembered almost everything that
Jones had said, which confirms a diagnosis of her disease. There could
be no doubt about it; the Dryad was afflicted with extreme Youth, for
she now recognized the butterfly from the eulogy of Jones, and her
innocent heart began a steady tattoo upon her ribs as Jones, on tiptoe,
crept nearer and nearer, net outstretched.

The moment was solemn; breathless, hatless, bare-armed, the Dryad
advanced, skirts spread as though to shoo chickens.

"Don't," whispered Jones.

But the damage had been accomplished; Ajax jerked his pearl and ashen
banded wings, shot with the fiery crimson bar, flashed into the air, and
was gone like the last glimmer of a fading sun-spot.

"Oh, dear! Oh, dear!" cried the Dryad, clasping her highly ornamental
hands; "what on earth will you think of my stupidity?"

"Nothing," said Jones, resolutely, swallowing hard and gazing at the
tangled jungle.

"It was too stupid," insisted the Dryad; and, as the silence of Jones
assented, she added, "but it is not very nice of you to say so."

"Why, I didn't," cried Jones.

"You did," said the Dryad, tears of vexation in her blue eyes. "And to
pay for your discourtesy you shall make me a silk net and I shall give
up golf and spend my entire time in hunting for White Devils, to make

The suggested penance appeared to attract Jones.

"Give up golf--which I am perfectly mad about," repeated the Dryad,
"just because you were horrid when I tried to help you."

"That will be delightful," said Jones, naïvely. "We will hunt Ajax
together--all day, every day----"

"Oh, I shall catch--something--the first time I try," observed the
Dryad, airily. She teed up a practice ball, hit it a vicious whack,
followed its flight with narrowing blue eyes, and, turning placidly upon
Jones, smiled a dangerous smile.

"If I don't catch an Ajax before you do I'll forfeit anything you
please," she said.

"I'll take it," said Jones.

"But," cried the Dryad, "what do you offer against it?"

"Whatever I ask from you," he said, deliberately.

"You are somewhat vague, Mr. Jones."

"I won't be when I win."

"Tell me what you want--if you win!"

"What? With this caddie hanging around and listening?" The Dryad,
wide-eyed and flushed, regarded him in amazement.

Jones picked up a pinch of wet sand from the box, moulded it with great
care into a tiny truncated cone, set it on the tee, set his ball on top
of it, whipped the air persuasively with his driver once or twice, and,
settling himself into the attitude popularly attributed to the Colossus
of Rhodes, hit the ball for the longest, cleanest drive he had ever

"Dryad," he said, politely, "it is now up to you."

       *       *       *       *       *

Of all the exquisite creatures that float through the winter sunshine of
the semi-tropics this is the most exquisite and spirituelle. Long,
slender, swallow-tailed wings, tinted with pearl and primrose, crossed
with ashy stripes and double-barred with glowing crimson--this is the
shy, forest-haunting creature that the Dryad sought to snare, and sought
in vain.

Sometimes, standing on the long, white shell roads, where myriads of
glittering dragon-flies sailed, far away a pale flash would catch the
sun for an instant; and "Ready! Look out!" would cry the Dryad. Vanity!
Swifter than a swallow the Ajax passed, a pearly blurr against the glare
of the white road; swish! swish! the silken nets swung in vain.

"Oh, bother," sighed the Dryad.

Again, in the dim corridors of the forest, where tall palms clustered
and green live oaks spread transparent shadows across palmetto thickets,
far in some sunlit glade a tiny wing-flash would bring the Dryad's
forest cry: "Quick! Oh, quick!" But the woodland ghost was gone.

"Oh, bother, bother!" sighed the Dryad. "There are flowers--the
sparkleberry is in blossom--there is bloom on the China tree, but this
phantom never stops! Can nothing stop it?"

Day after day, guarding the long, white road, the Dryad saw the phantom
pass--always flying north; day after day in the dim forest, the
hurrying, pale-winged, tireless creatures fled away, darting always
along some fixed yet invisible aërial path. Nothing lured them, neither
the perfumed clusters of the China-berry, nor the white forest flowers;
nothing checked them, neither the woven curtain of creepers across the
forest barrier, nor the jungle walled with palms.

To the net of the Dryad and of Jones had fallen half a thousand jewelled
victims; the exquisite bronzed Berenice, the velvet and yellow
Palamedes, the great orange-winged creatures brilliant as lighted
lanterns. But in the gemmed symmetry of the casket the opalescent heart
was missing; and the Dryad, uncomforted, haunted the woodlands, roaming
in defiance of the turquoise-tinted lizards and the possible serpent
whose mouth is lined with snow-white membranes--prowling in contempt of
that coiled horror that lies waiting, S shaped, a mass of matted grey
and velvet diamond pattern from which two lidless eyes glitter

"How on earth did anybody ever catch an Ajax?" inquired the Dryad at
the close of one fruitless, bootless day's pursuit.

"I suppose," said Jones, "that every year or so the Ajax alights." That
was irony.

"On what?" insisted the Dryad.

"Oh, on--something," said Jones, vaguely. "Butterflies are, no doubt,
like the human species; flowers tempt some butterflies, mud-puddles
attract others. One or the other will attract our Ajax some day."

That night Jones, with book open upon his knees, sat in the lamplight of
the great veranda and read tales of Ajax to the Dryad; how that, in the
tropics, Ajax assumes four forms, masquerading as Floridensis in winter
and as Telamonides in summer, and how he wears the exquisite livery of
Marcellus, too, and even assumes, according to a gentleman named Walsh,
a fourth form. Beautiful pictures of Ajax illumined the page where were
also engraved the signs of Mars and of Venus. The Dryad looked at these;
Jones looked at her; the rest of the hotel looked at them. Jones read

Sleepy-eyed the Dryad listened; outside in the burnished moonlight the
whippoorwill's spirit call challenged the star-set silence; and far away
in the blue night she heard the deep breathing of the sea. Presently the
Dryad slept in her rocking-chair, curved wrist propping her head; Jones
was chagrined. He need not have been, for the Dryad was dreaming of him.

       *       *       *       *       *

There came a day late in April when, knee deep in palmetto scrub, the
Dryad and Jones stood leaning upon their nets and scanning the
wilderness for the swift-winged forest phantom they had sought so long.
Ajax was on the wing; glimpse after glimpse they had of him, a pale
shadow in the sun, a misty spot in the shadow, then nothing but miles of
palmetto scrub and the pink stems of tall pines.

Suddenly an Ajax darted into the sunny glade where they stood, and a
ragged, faded brother Ajax fluttered up from the ground and, Ajax-like,
defied the living lightning.

Wing beating wing they closed in battle, whirling round and round one
another above the palmetto thicket. The ragged and battered butterfly
won, the other darted away with the speed of a panic-stricken jacksnipe,
and his shabby opponent quietly settled down on a sun-warmed twig.

Then it was that inspiration seized the Dryad: "Mr. Jones, you trick
wild ducks into gunshot range by setting painted wooden ducks afloat
close to the shore where you lie hidden. Catch that ragged Ajax, place
him upon a leaf, and who knows?"

Decoy a butterfly? Decoy the forest phantom drunk with the exhilaration
of his own mad flight! It was the invention of a new sport.

Scarcely appearing to move at all, so cautious was his progress, Jones
slowly drew near the basking and battle-tattered creature that had once
been Ajax. There was a swift drop of the silken net, a flutter, and all
was over. In the palm of Jones's hand, dead, lay the faded and torn
insect with scarce a vestige of former beauty on the motionless wings.

Doubting, yet stirred to hope, he placed the dead butterfly on a
palmetto frond, wings expanded to catch the sun; and then, standing
within easy net-stroke, the excited Dryad and Jones strained their eyes
to catch the first far glimpse of Ajax in the wilderness.

What was that distant flash of light? A dragon-fly sailing? There it is
again! And there again! Nearer, nearer, following the same invisible
aërial path.

"Quick!" whispered the Dryad. A magnificent Ajax flashed across the
glade, turned an acute angle in mid-air, and in an instant hung hovering
over the lifeless insect on the palm leaf.

Swish-h! A wild fluttering in the net, a soft cry of excitement from the
Dryad, and there, dead, in the palm of the hand of Jones, lay the first
perfect specimen, exquisite, flawless, beautiful beyond words.

Before the Dryad could place the lovely creature in safety another Ajax
darted into the glade, sheered straight for the decoy, and the next
instant was fluttering, a netted captive.

Then the excitement grew; again and again Ajax appeared in the vicinity;
and the tension only increased as the forest phantom, unseeing or
unheeding the decoy, darted on in a mad ecstasy of flight.

No hunter, crouched in the reeds, could find keener excitement watching
near his decoys than the Dryad found that April day, motionless, almost
breathless, scanning the forest depths for the misty-winged phantom of
the tropic wilderness. One in six turned to the decoy; there were long,
silent intervals of waiting and of strained expectancy; there were false
alarms as a distant drifting dragon-fly glimmered in the sun; but one by
one the swift-winged victims dashed at the decoy and were taken in their
strength and pride and all their unsullied beauty. And when the sport of
that April morning was over, and when Denis, the Ethiopian, turned the
horses' heads homeward, Ajax Floridensis, Ajax Marcellus and Ajax
Telamonides were no longer mysteries to the Dryad and to Jones.

But there was a deeper mystery to solve before returning to the vast
caravansary across the river; and while they hesitated to attack it, I,
mademoiselle, having met and defeated Ajax in fair and open trial of
cunning and of wit, think fit to throw a ray of modern light upon this
archaic tale.

It is true that Ajax, of the family of Papilio, rivals the wind in
flight, and seldom, in spring and summer, deigns to alight. Yet I have
seen Ajax Telamonides alight in the middle of the roadway, and, netting
him, have found him fresh from the chrysalis, and therefore weak and
inexperienced. Ajax Floridensis I have taken with a net as he feasted on
the bunches of white sparkleberry on the edge of the jungle.

Rarely have I seen Ajax seduced by the wild phlox blossoms, but I have
sometimes caught him sipping there.

As for the decoy, I have used it and taken with it scores and scores of
Ajax butterflies which otherwise I could not have hoped to capture. This
is not all; the great Tiger Swallowtail of the orange groves can be
decoyed by a dead comrade of either sex; so, too, can the royal,
velvet-robed Palamedes butterfly; and when the imperial Turnus sails
high among the magnolias' topmost branches, a pebble cast into the air
near him will sometimes bring him fluttering down, following the stone
as it falls to the ground. These three butterflies, however, are
generally easily decoyed, and all love flowers. Yet, in experimenting
with decoys, I have never seen an Ajax decoy to any dead butterfly
except an Ajax; and the dead butterfly may be of either sex, and as
battered as you please.

It is supposed by some that butterflies can distinguish colour and form
at no greater distance than five feet; and experiments in decoying
appear to bear out this theory. Butterflies decoy to their own species,
even to faded and imperfect ones.

Of half a dozen specimens set out on leaves and twigs, among which were
Papilio Palamedes, Cresphontes, and Turnus, Ajax decoyed only to an
imperfect and faded Ajax, and finally, when among that brilliant array
of specimens a single upper wing of a dead Ajax was placed on a broad
leaf, Ajax came to it, ignoring the other perfect specimens.

Yet Ajax will fight in single combat with any live butterfly, and so
will Palamedes, Turnus, and Cresphontes.

If a female Luna moth is placed in a cage of mosquito netting and hung
out of the window at night she is almost certain to attract all the male
Luna moths in the neighbourhood before morning. In this case, as it is
in the case of the other moths of the same group, it is the odor that

But in the case of a dead Ajax butterfly it appears to be colour even
more than form; and it can scarcely be odor, because the Ajax
butterflies of both sexes decoy to a dead and dried butterfly of either
sex. With this abstruse observation, mademoiselle, I, personally, retire
into the jungle to peep out at a passing vehicle driven by an Ethiopian
known as Denis, and containing two young people of sexes diametrically
opposed. And I am pleasantly conscious that I can no longer conceal
their identity from you, mademoiselle.

"No," she said, "I know who they are. Please continue about them."

So I smiled and continued:

"And after all these weeks, during which I have so faithfully
accompanied you, are you actually going to insist that I lost my bet?"
asked the Dryad in a low voice.

"But you didn't, did you?" said the pitiless Jones.

"I let you catch the first Ajax. I might have prevented you; I might
have even caught it myself!"

"But you didn't, did you?" said the pitiless Jones.

"Because," continued the Dryad, flushing, "I was generous enough to
think only of capturing the butterflies, while all the time it appears
_you_ were thinking of something else. How sordid!" she added,

"You admit I won the bet?" persisted that meanest of men.

"I admit nothing, Mr. Jones."

"Didn't I win the bet?"


"Didn't I----"

"Goodness, yes!" cried the Dryad. "Now what are you going to do about

"You said," observed Jones, "that you would forfeit anything I desired.
Didn't you?"

The Dryad looked at him, then looked away.

"Didn't you?"



"Yes, I did."

"Then I am to ask what I desire?"

No answer.

"So," continued Jones in a low voice, "I do ask it."

Still no answer.

"Will you----"

"Mr. Jones," she said, turning a face toward him on which was written
utter consternation.

"Will you," continued Jones, "permit me to name the first new butterfly
that I capture, after you?"

Her eyes widened.

"Is--is _that_ all you desire?" she faltered. Suddenly her eyes filled.

"Absolutely all," said Jones simply--"to name a new species of butterfly
after my wife----"

However, that was the simplest part of the whole matter; the trouble was
all ahead, waiting for them on the veranda--two hundred pounds of
wealthy trouble sitting in a rocking-chair, tatting, and keeping tabs
upon the great clock and upon the trolley cars as they arrived in
decorous procession from the golf links.

       *       *       *       *       *

There was a long, long silence.

"Is--is that all?" inquired my little neighbour.

"Can't you guess the rest?"

But she only sighed, looking down at the lace handkerchief which she had
been absently twisting in her lap.

"You know," said I, "what keys unlock the meaning of all stories?"

She nodded.

"The keys of The Past," I said.

She sighed, looking down into her smooth little empty hands:

"I threw them away, long ago," she said. "For me there remains only one
more door. And that unlocks of itself."

And we sat there, thinking, through the still summer afternoon.





That evening I found Williams curled up in his corner at the Café Jaune.

"You are sun-burned," he said, inspecting me.

"A little. I've been in Florida."


"With the ghosts of years ago. But it seemed very realistic to me as I
sat in the sun and recalled it. Possibly it was even real enough to
sun-burn me a little."

He eyed me with considerable chagrin. Perhaps he thought that he had the
monopoly of poetic fancies. It was most agreeable to me to touch him
up. They're a jealous bunch, those whittlers of fact into fiction.

However, he brightened as he drew a letter from his pocket:

"You remember Kingsbury, of course?" he asked.


"And his friend Smith?"


"I've a letter here from Kingsbury. He expects to be in Paris this

"I'd like to see him," said I, "but I'm going home before Autumn."

"Haven't you seen him in all these years?"

"Not once."

"And you never heard----"

"Oh, go on, Williams, and tell your story. I'm perfectly willing to
listen. Cut out all that coy business and tear off a few page-proofs.
Besides," I added, maliciously, "I know how it's done, now."

"_How_ do you know?"

"Because I did a little in that line myself this afternoon. Let me tell
you something; there isn't a profession in all the world which can be so
easily and quickly acquired as yours. Therefore pin no more orders and
ribbons and stars and medals on yourself. The only difference between
you and your public is that they have no time to practice your
profession in addition to their own."

Which took him down a peg or two, until we both took down another peg or
two. But when I called the waiter and ordered a third, he became more

"You're a jollier," he said, "aren't you?"

"I did a little this afternoon. Go on about Kingsbury and Smithy. After
all, Williams, you really do it much better than I."

Which mollified him amazingly, and he began with a brisk confidence in
his powers of narration:

       *       *       *       *       *

When Kingsbury had finished his course at the University of Paris, there
appeared to be little or nothing further in the way of human knowledge
for him to acquire. However, on the chance of disinterring a fragment or
two of amorphous information which he might find use for in his
projected book, The Economy of Marriage, he allowed himself another year
of travel, taking the precaution to invite Smith--the flippancy of Smith
being calculated to neutralise any over-intellectual activity in

He needed a rest; he had had the world on his hands too long--ever since
his twentieth year. Smith was the man to give him mental repose. There
was no use attempting to discuss social economy with Smith, or of
interesting that trivial and inert mind in race suicide. Smith was
flippant. Often and often Kingsbury thought: "How can he have passed
through The University of Paris and remained flippant?" But neither
Sorbonne nor Pantheon produced marked effect upon Smith, and although it
is true that Paris horridly appealed to him, in the remainder of Europe
he found nothing better to do than to unpack his trout-rod and make for
the nearest puddle wherever they found themselves, whether in the Alps,
the Tyrol, the Vosges, or the forests of Belgium, where they at present
occupied a stucco-covered villa with servants, stables, hot-houses, and
a likely trout stream for Smith to dabble in, at a sum per month so
ridiculously reasonable that I shall not mention it for fear of
depopulating my native land.

Besides, they had the youthful and widowed Countess of Semois for their

And so it came about that, in this leafy, sunny land of cream and honey,
one very lovely morning, young Kingsbury, booted and spurred and still
flushed from his early gallop through the soft wood-roads of the forest,
found Smith at breakfast under the grape-arbour, immersed in a popular
novel and a bowl of strawberries.

"Hello," said Smith, politely, pushing the fruit across the table. "The
berries are fine; I took a corking trout an hour ago; we'll have it

"I saw the Countess," said Kingsbury, carelessly unbuttoning his gloves
as he stood there.

"Oh, you did? Well, which one is the Countess, the girl with the dark
hair, or that stunning red-haired beauty?"

"How could I tell? I couldn't ride up and ask, could I? They were
driving, as usual. The King was out, too; I wish he'd wear a decent

"With the moral welfare of two hemispheres on your hands, you ought not
to feel responsible for the King's derby," observed Smith.

Any exaggeration of fact always perplexed Kingsbury. He flattened out
his gloves, stuck his riding-crop into his left boot, and looked at
Smith through his monocle.

"For all the talk about the King," he said, "the peasantry salute him as
reverently as though he were their father."

To which Smith, in his flippancy, replied:

  "The children for their monarch pray,
    Each buxom lass and laddie;
  A thousand reasons good have they
    To call the King their daddy."

Kingsbury retired to make his toilet; returned presently smelling less
of the stables, seated himself, drowned a dozen luscious strawberries
in cream, tasted one, and cast a patronising eye upon the trout, which
had been prepared à la Meunière.

"Corker, isn't he?" observed Smith, contemplating the fish with
pardonable pride. "He's poached, I regret to inform you."


"Oh, not like an egg; I mean that I took him in private waters. It was a
disgusting case of poaching."

"What on earth did you do that for?"

"Now, I'll explain that in a minute. You know where our stream flows
under the arch in the wall which separates our grounds from the park
next door? Well, I was casting away on our side, never thinking of
mischief, when, flip! flop! spatter! splash! and, if you please, right
under the water-arch in the wall this scandalous trout jumped. Of
course, I put it to him good and plenty, but the criminal creature, on
purpose to tempt me, backed off down stream and clean through the arch
into our neighbour's water.

"'Is it poaching if I go over after him?' thought I. And, Kingsbury, do
you know I had no time to debate that moral question, because, before I
could reply to myself, I found myself hoisting a ladder to the top of
the wall and lowering it on the other side--there are no steps on the
other side. And what do you think? Before I could rouse myself with the
cry of 'Trespasser! Help!' I found myself climbing down into the park
and casting a fly with sinful accuracy.

"'Is it right?' I asked myself in an agony of doubt. But, alas,
Kingsbury, before I had a ghost of a chance to answer myself in the
negative I had hooked that trout fast; and there was the deuce to pay,
for I'd forgotten my landing-net!"

He shook his head, helped Kingsbury to a portion of the trout, and
refilled his own cup. "Isn't it awful," he said.

"It's on a par with most of your performances," observed the other,
coldly. "I suppose you continued your foolish conduct with that girl,

"What girl?"

"And I suppose you kissed her again! Did you?"

"Kiss a girl?" stammered Smith. "Where have you been prowling?"

"Along the boundary wall on my side, if you want to know. A week ago I
chanced to be out by moonlight, and I saw you kiss her, Smith, across
the top of the park wall. It is your proper rôle, of course, to deny it,
but let me tell you that I think it's a pretty undignified business of
yours, kissing the Countess of Semois's servants----"

"What the deuce----"

"Well, _who_ was it you kissed over the top of the wall, then?"

"I don't know," said Smith, sullenly.

"You don't know! It wasn't the Countess, was it?"

"Of course it wasn't the Countess. I tell you I don't know who it was."


"No, it isn't. What happened was this: I climbed up the niches to sit on
the wall by moonlight and watch the trout jump; and just as my head
cleared the wall the head of a girl came up on the other side--right
against the moon, so it was just a shadow--a sort of silhouette. It was
an agreeable silhouette; I couldn't really see her features."

"That was no reason for kissing them, was it?"

"No--oh, not at all. The way _that_ came about was most extraordinary.
You see, we were both amazed to find our two noses so close together,
and I said--something foolish--and she laughed--the prettiest,
disconcerted little laugh, and that moon was there, and suddenly, to my
astonishment, I realised that I was going to kiss her if she didn't
move.... And--she didn't."

"You mean to say----"

"Yes, I do; I haven't the faintest notion who it was I kissed. It
couldn't have been the Countess, because I've neither fought any duels
nor have I been arrested. I refuse to believe it could have been the
cook, because there was something about that kiss indescribably
aromatic--and, Kingsbury, she didn't say a word--she scarcely breathed.
Now a cook would have screamed, you know----"

"I _don't_ know," interrupted Kingsbury.

"No, no, of course--neither do I."

"Idiot!" said Kingsbury wrathfully. "Suppose it _had_ been the Countess!
Think of the consequences! Keep away from that wall and don't attempt to
ape the depravity of a morally sick continent. You shocked me in Paris;
you're mortifying me here. If you think I'm going to be identified with
your ragged morals you are mistaken."

"That's right; don't stand for 'em. I've been reading novels, and I need
a jar from an intelligence absolutely devoid of imagination."

"You'll get it if you don't behave yourself," said Kingsbury
complacently. "The Countess of Semois probably knows who we are, and ten
to one we'll meet her at that charity bazar at Semois-les-Bains this

"I'm not going," said Smith, breaking an egg.

"Not going? You said you would go. Our Ambassador will be there, and we
can meet the Countess if we want to."

"I don't want to. Suppose, after all, I had kissed _her_! No, I'm not
going, I tell you."

"Very well; that's your own affair," observed the other, serenely
occupied with the trout. "Perhaps you're right, too; perhaps the happy
scullion whom you honoured may have complained about you to her

Smith sullenly tinkled the bell for more toast; a doll-faced maid in cap
and apron brought it.

"Probably," said Kingsbury in English, "_that_ is the species you

Smith opened his novel and pretended to read; Kingsbury picked up the
morning paper, propped it against a carafe, sipped his coffee, and
inspected the headlines through his single eyeglass. For a few minutes
peace and order hovered over the American breakfast; the men were young
and in excellent appetite; the fragrance of the flowers was not too
intrusive; discreet breezes stirred the leaves; and well-behaved little
birds sang judiciously in several surrounding bushes.

As Kingsbury's eyes wandered over the paper, gradually focussing up a
small paragraph, a frown began to gather on his youthful features.

"Here's a nice business!" he said, disgusted.

Smith looked up indifferently. "Well, what is it?" he asked, and then,
seeing the expression on his friend's face, added: "Oh, I'll bet I

"This," said Kingsbury, paying him no attention, "is simply sickening."

"A young life bartered for a coronet?" inquired Smith, blandly.

"Yes. Isn't it shameful? What on earth are our women thinking of? Are
you aware, Smith, that over ninety-seven and three tenths per cent of
such marriages are unhappy? Are you? Why, I could sit here and give you

"Don't, all the same."

"Statistics that would shock even you. And I say solemnly, that I, as an
American, as a humanitarian, as a student of social economics----"

"Help! Help!" complained Smith, addressing the butter.

"Social economics," repeated the other, firmly, "as a patriot, a man,
and a future father, I am astounded at the women of my native land! Race
suicide is not alone what menaces us; it is the exportation of our
finest and most vigorous stock to upbuild a bloodless and alien
aristocracy at our expense."

Smith reached for the toast-rack.

"And if there's one thing that irritates me," continued Kingsbury, "it's
the spectacle of wholesome American girls marrying titles. Every time
they do it I get madder, too. Short-sighted people like you shrug their
shoulders, but I tell you, Smith, it's a terrible menace to our country.
Beauty, virtue, wealth, all are being drawn away from America into the
aristocratic purlieus of England and the Continent."

"Then I think you ought to see about it at once," said Smith, presenting
himself with another slice of toast.

Kingsbury applied marmalade to a muffin and flattened out the newspaper.

"I tell you what," he said, "some American ought to give them a dose of
their own medicine."


"By coming over here and marrying a few of their titled women."

Smith sipped his coffee, keeping his novel open with the other hand: "We
do that sort of thing very frequently in literature, I notice. There's
an American doing it now in this novel. I've read lots of novels like
it, too." He laid his head on one side, musing. "As far as I can
calculate from the romantic literature I have absorbed, I should say
that we Americans have already carried off practically all of the
available titled beauties of Europe."

"My friend," said Kingsbury, coldly, "do you realise that I am serious?"

"About what?"

"About this scandalous chase after titles. In the book on which I am now
engaged I am embodying the following economic propositions: For every
good, sweet, wholesome American girl taken from America to bolster up a
degenerate title, we men of America ought to see to it that a physically
sound and titled young woman be imported and married to one of us."

"Why a titled one?"

"So that Europe shall feel it the more keenly," replied Kingsbury
sternly. "I've often pondered the matter. If only one American could be
found sufficiently self-sacrificing to step forward and set the example
by doing it, I am convinced, Smith, that the tardy wheels of justice
would begin to revolve and rouse a nation too long imposed upon."

"Why don't you do something in that way yourself? There's a fine
physical specimen of the Belgian nobility in the villa next door."

"I don't know her," said Kingsbury, turning a delicate shell pink.

"You will when you go to the bazar. Stop fiddling with that newspaper
and answer me like a man."

But Kingsbury only reopened the newspaper and blandly scanned the
columns. Presently he began muttering aloud as he skimmed paragraph
after paragraph; but his mutterings were ignored by Smith, who,
coffee-cup in hand, was again buried in his novel.

"I've a mind to try it," repeated Kingsbury in a higher key. "It is the
duty of every decent American to improve his own race. If we want
physical perfection in anything don't we select the best type
obtainable? Why don't we do it in marrying? I tell you, Smith, this is
the time for individual courage, honesty and decency. Our duty is clear;
we must meet the impoverishment, which these titled marriages threaten,
with a restless counter-raid into the enemy's country. When a European
takes from us one of our best, let us take from Europe her best, health
for health, wealth for wealth, title for title! By Heaven, Smith, I'm
going to write a volume on this."

"Oh, you're going to _write_ about it."

"I am."

"And then what?" asked Smith taking the newspaper from Kingsbury and
opening it.

"What then? Why--why, some of us ought to give our country an example.
I'm willing to do it--when I have time----"

"Here's your chance, then," urged Smith, studying the society column.
"Here's all about the charity bazar at Semois-les-Bains this afternoon.
The Countess sells dolls there. Our Ambassador will be on hand, and you
can meet her easily enough. The rest," he added, politely, "will, of
course, be easy."

Kingsbury lighted a cigar, leaned back in his chair, and flung one
booted leg over the other.

"If I were not here in Belgium for a rest--" he began.

"You are--but not alone for bodily and mental repose. Think how it would
rest your conscience to offset that marriage which has irritated you by
marrying the Countess of Semois--by presenting to your surprised and
admiring country a superb and titled wife for patriotic purposes."

"I don't know which she is," retorted Kingsbury, intensely annoyed. "If
she's the tall girl with dark hair and lots colour I could manage to
fall in love easily enough. I may add, Smith, that you have an
extraordinary way of messing up the English language."

He arose, walking out toward the gate, where the smiling little postman
came trotting up to meet him, fishing out a dozen letters and papers.

"Letters from home, Smith," he observed, strolling back to the arbour.
"Here's one for you"--he laid it beside Smith's plate--"and here's one
from my sister--I'll just glance at it if you'll excuse me." He opened
it and read placidly for a few moments. Then, of a sudden a terrible
change came into his face; he hastily clapped his monocle to his eye,
glared at the written page, set his teeth, and crumpled it furiously in
his hand.

"Smith," he said, hoarsely, "my sister writes that she's engaged to
marry an--an Englishman!"

"What of it?" inquired Smith.

"What of it? I tell you my sister--my _sister_--_my_ sister--is going to
marry a British title!"

"She's probably in love, isn't she? What's the harm----"


For a full minute Kingsbury stood petrified, glaring at space, then he
cast his cigar violently among the roses.

"I have a mind," he said, "to get into a top hat and frock coat and
drive to Semois-les-Bains.... You say she sells dolls?"

"She's due to sell 'em, according to the morning paper."

For a few moments more Kingsbury paced the lawn; colour, due to wrath or
rising excitement, touched his smooth, handsome face, deepening the mask
of tan. He was good to look upon, and one of the most earnest young men
the gods had ever slighted.

"You think I'm all theory, don't you?" he said, nervously. "You shrug
those flippant shoulders of yours when I tell you what course an
American who honors his country should pursue. Now I'll prove to you
whether or not I'm sincere. I am deliberately going to marry the
Countess of Semois; and this afternoon I shall take the necessary
measures to fall in love with her. That," he added, excitedly, "can be
accomplished if she is the dark-haired girl we've seen driving."

"Now, I don't suppose you really intend to do such a----"

"Yes, I do! It sounds preposterous, but it's logical. I'm going to
practice what I expect to spend my life in preaching; that's all. Not
that I want to marry just now--I don't; it's inconvenient. I don't want
to fall in love, I don't want to marry, I don't want to have a dozen
children," he said, irritably; "but I'm going to, Smith! I'm going to,
for the sake of my country. Pro patria et gloria!"

"Right away?"

"What rot you talk, sometimes! But I'm ready to make my words mean
something; I'm ready to marry the Countess of Semois. There is no
possible room for doubt; any man can marry any woman he wants to; that
is my absolute conviction. Anyhow, I shall ask her."

"As soon as you meet her?"

"Certainly not. I expect to take several days about it----"

"Why employ several days in sweet dissembling?"

"Confound it, I'm not going to dissemble! I'm going to let her know that
I admire her the moment I meet her. I'm going to tell her about my
theory of scientific marriages. If she is sensible--if she is the woman
America requires--if she is the dark-haired girl--she'll understand." He
turned squarely on Smith: "As for you, if you were the sort of American
that you ought to be you would pick out some ornamental and wholesome
young Belgian aristocrat and marry her in the shortest time that decency
permits! That's what you'd do if you had a scintilla of patriotism in
your lazy make-up!"

"No, I wouldn't----"

"You would! Look at yourself--a great, hulking, wealthy, idle young man,
who stands around in puddles catching fish while Europe runs off our
loveliest women under your bovine nose. Shame on you! Have you no desire
to be up and doing?"

"Oh, of course," said Smith, unruffled; "if several passion-smitten
duchesses should climb over the big wall yonder and chase me into the

Kingsbury swung on his spurred heels and strode into the house.




Smith sauntered out to the terrace, looked at the sky, sniffed the
roses, and sat down in the shadow of a cherry tree, cocking his feet up
and resting his novel on his knees. Several hours later, aroused by the
mellow clash of harness and noise of wheels, he looked out over the
terrace wall just in time to catch a glimpse of the victoria of his
neighbour, gold and green livery, strawberry roans, flashing wheels and
all; and quite alone under her brilliant sunshade, the dark-haired girl
whom Kingsbury had decided to marry as soon as he could arrange to fall
in love with her.

"I fancy she's the Countess, all right," mused Smith; "but, to me, the
girl with red hair is vastly--more--more alluring----"

The sound of wheels again broke the thread of his sleepy meditation;
their dog-cart was at the gate; and presently he perceived Kingsbury,
hatted and gloved to perfection, get in, take the reins from the
coachman, loop his whip, assume the posture popularly attributed to
pupils of Howlett, and go whirling away through the lazy sunshine of a
perfect Belgian afternoon.

"The beast has lunched without me," muttered Smith, yawning and looking
at his watch. Then he got up, stretched, tinkled the bell, and when the
doll-faced maid arrived, requested an omelet à la Semois and a bottle of

He got it in due time, absorbed it lazily, casting a weatherwise eye on
the sky at intervals with a view to afternoon fishing; but the sun was
too bright; besides, his book had become interesting in a somewhat
maudlin fashion, inasmuch as the lovers must come to a clinch in the
next chapter or not at all.

"You can't tell in modern novels," he muttered; "a girl has a way of
side-stepping just as the bell rings: but the main guy ought to make
good within the next page or two. If he doesn't he's a dub!"

With which comment he sought his hammock for an hour's needed repose;
but he had slumbered longer than that when he found himself sitting bolt
upright, the telephone bell ringing in his ears.

Comfortably awake now, he slid from the hammock, and, entering the
house, stepped into the smoking-room.

"Hello!" he said, unhooking the receiver.

Kingsbury's voice replied: "I'm here in Semois-les-Bains, at the charity
bazar. Can you distinguish what I say?"

"Perfectly, my Romeo! Proceed."

"I'm in a fix. Our Ambassador didn't come, and I don't know anybody to
take me over and present me."

"Buy a doll, idiot!"

"Confound it, I've already bought ten! That doesn't give me the
privilege of doing anything but buying ten more. She's busy; about five
million people are crowding around her."

"Buy every doll she has! Put her out of business, man! Then if you can't
fix it somehow you're a cuckoo. Is the Countess the dark-haired girl?"


"How do you know?"

"Isn't she here selling dolls? Didn't the paper say she was going to?"

"Yes--but hadn't you better find out for certain before you----"

"I am certain; anyway, I don't care. Smith, she is the most

"All right; ring off----"

"Wait! I wanted to tell you that she has the prettiest way of smiling
every time I buy a doll. And then, while she wraps up the infernal thing
in ribbons and tissue we chat a little. I'd like to murder our
Ambassador! Do you think that if I bought her entire stock----"

"Yes, I do!"

"What do you think?"

"What you do."

"But I don't think anything at all. I am asking you----"

"Try it, anyhow."

"All right. Hold the wire, Smith. I'll report progress----"

"What! Stand here and wait----"

"Don't be selfish. I'll return in a moment."

The "moment" stretched into a buzzing, crackling half hour, punctuated
by impatient inquiries from Central. Suddenly an excited: "Hello,

"Hello, you infernal----"

"I've done it! I've bought every doll! She's the sweetest thing; I told
her I had a plan for endowing a ward in any old hospital she might name,
and she thinks we ought to talk it over, so I'm going to sit out on the
terrace with her--Smith!"


"Oh, I thought you'd gone! I only wanted to say that she is far, far
lovelier than I had supposed. I can't wait here talking with you any
longer. Good-by!"

"Is she the Countess?" shouted Smith incredulously. But Kingsbury had
rung off.





Smith retired to his room to bathe, clothed himself in snowy linen and
fresh tennis flannels, and descended again, book under his arm, to
saunter forth through heavy tangles of cinnamon-tinted Flemish roses and
great sweet-scented peonies, musing on love and fate.

"Kingsbury and his theories! The Countess of Semois will think him
crazy. She'll think us both crazy! And I am not sure that we're not;
youth is madness; half the world is lunatic! Take me, for example; I
never did a more unexpected thing than kissing that shadow across the
wall. I don't know why, I don't know how, but I did it; and I am out of
jail yet. Certainly it must have been the cook. Oh, Heavens! If cooks
kiss that way, what, _what_ must the indiscretion of a Countess
resemble?... She _did_ kiss back.... At least there was a soft,
tremulous, perfumed flutter--a hint of delicate counter-pressure----"

But he had arrived at the wall by that time.

"How like a woodland paradise!" he murmured sentimentally, youthful face
upraised to the trees. "How sweet the zephyr! How softly sing the
dicky-birds! I wonder--I wonder--" But what it was that perplexed him he
did not say; he stood eying the top of the wall as the furtive turkey
eyes its selected roost before coyly hopping thither.

"What's the use? If I see her I'll only take fright and skulk homeward.
Why do I return again and again to the scene of guilt? Is it Countess or
cook that draws me, or some one less exalted in the culinary confine?
Why, why should love get busy with me? Is this the price I pay for that
guileless kiss? Am I to be forever 'it' in love's gay game of tag?"

He ascended the steplike niche in the wall, peeped fearfully over into
his neighbour's chasse. Tree and tangle slept in the golden light of
afternoon; a cock-pheasant strutted out of a thicket, surveyed the
solitude with brilliant eyes, and strutted back again; a baby rabbit
frisked across the carrefour into the ferny warren beyond; and "Bubble,
bubble, flowed the stream, like an old song through a dream."

Sprawling there flat on top of the sun-warmed stucco wall, white
sunlight barring the pages of his book, he lifted his head to listen.
There was a leafy stirring somewhere, perhaps the pheasant rustling in
the underbrush. The sing-song of the stream threaded the silence; and as
he listened it seemed to grow louder, filling the woods with low,
harmonious sounds. In the shallows he heard laughter; in the pouring
waterfalls, echoes like wind-blown voices calling. Small grey and
saffron tinted birds, passing from twig to twig, peered at him
fearlessly; a heavy green lizard vanished between the stones with an
iridescent wriggle. Suddenly a branch snapped and the underbrush

"Probably a deer," thought Smith, turning to look. Close inspection of
the thicket revealed nothing; he dropped his chin on his hands, crossed
his legs, and opened his book.

The book was about one of those Americans who trouble the peace of mind
of Princesses; and this was the place to read it, here in the enchanted
stillness of the ancient Belgian forest, here where the sunshine spread
its net on fretted waters, where lost pools glimmered with azure when
the breeze stirred overhead--here where his neighbor was a Countess and
some one in her household wore a mass of gold-red hair Greek
fashion--and Aphrodite was not whiter of neck nor bluer eyed than she.

The romance that he read was designed to be thickly satisfying to
American readers, for it described a typical American so accurately that
Smith did not recognize the type. Until he had been enlightened by
fiction he never imagined Americans were so attractive to exotic
nobility. So he read on, gratified, cloyed, wondering how the Princess,
although she happened to be encumbered with a husband, could stand for
anything but ultimate surrender to the Stars and Stripes; and trustfully
leaving it to another to see that it was done morally.

Hypnotized by the approaching crisis, he had begun already to finger the
next page, when a slight crash in the bushes close by and the swish of
parting foliage startled him from romance to reality.

But he had looked up too late; to slink away was impossible; to move was
to reveal himself. It was _she_! And she was not ten feet distant.

One thing was certain: whether or not she was the shadowy partner of his
kiss, she could not be the Countess, because she was fishing,
unattended, hatless, the sleeves of her shirtwaist rolled up above her
white elbows, a book and a short landing-net tucked under her left arm.
Countesses don't go fishing unattended; gillies carry things. Besides,
the Countess of Semois was in Semois-les-Bains selling dolls to

The sun glowed on her splendid red hair; she switched the slender rod
about rather awkwardly, and every time the cast of flies became
entangled in a nodding willow she set her red lips tight and with an
impatient "_Mais, c'est trop bête! Mais, c'est vraiment trop_----"

It was evident that she had not seen him where he lay on the wall; the
chances were she would pass on--indeed her back was already toward
him--when the unexpected happened: a trout leaped for a gnat and fell
back into the pool with a resounding splash, sending ring on ring of
sunny wavelets toward the shore.

"Ah! _Te voilà!_" she said aloud, swinging her line free for a cast.

Smith saw what was coming and tried to dodge, but the silk line whistled
on the back-cast, and the next moment his cap was snatched from his head
and deposited some twenty feet out in the centre of the pool.

The amazement of the fair angler was equal to his own as she looked
hastily back over her shoulder and discovered him on the wall.

There is usually something undignified about a man whose hat has been
knocked off; to laugh is as fatal as to show irritation; and Smith did
neither, but quietly dropped over to her side of the wall, saying, "I'm
awfully sorry I spoiled your cast. Don't mind the cap; that trout was a
big one, and he may rise again."

He had spoken in English, and she answered in very pretty English: "I am
so sorry--could I help you to recover your hat?"

"Thank you; if you would let me take your rod a moment."

"Willingly, monsieur."

She handed him the rod; he loosened the line, measured the distance with
practiced eye, turned to look behind him, and, seeing there was scant
room for a long back-cast, began sending loop after loop of silken line
forward across the water, using the Spey method, of which none except an
expert is master.

The first cast struck half-way, but in line; the next, still in line,
slipped over the cap, but failed to hook. Then, as he recovered, there
was a boiling rush in the water, a flash of pink and silver, and the rod

"I--I beg your pardon!" he exclaimed aghast; "I have hooked your trout!"

"Play him," she said quickly. The elfin shriek of the reel answered; he
gave the fish every ounce the quivering rod could spare, the great trout
surged deeply, swerved, circled and bored slowly upstream.

"This fish is magnificent," said Smith, guiltily. "You really must take
the rod----"

"I shall not, indeed."

"But this is not fair!"

"It is perfectly fair, monsieur--and a wonderful lesson in angling to
me. Oh, I beg you to be careful! There is a sunken tree limb beyond!"

Her cheeks were the colour of wild roses, her blue eyes burned like

"He's down; I can't stir him," said Smith. "He's down like a salmon!"

She linked her hands behind her back. "What is to be done?" she asked

"If you would gather a handful of those pebbles and throw one at a time
into the pool where he is lying----"

Before he finished speaking she had knelt, filled her palms with golden
gravel, and stood ready at the water's edge.

"Now?" she nodded, inquiringly.

"Yes, one at a time; try to hit him."

The first pebble produced no effect; neither did the second, nor yet the

"Throw a handful at him," he suggested, and braced himself for the
result. A spray of gravel fell; the great fish sulked motionless.

"There's a way--" began Smith, feeling in his pockets for his key-ring.
It was not there.

"Could I be of any use?" she asked, looking up at Smith very

"Why, if I had something--a key-ring or anything that I could hang over
the taut line--something that would slide down and jog him gently----"

"A hairpin?" she asked.

"I'm afraid it's too light."

She reflected a moment; her bent forefinger brushed her velvet lips.
Then she began to unfasten a long gold pin at her throat.

"Oh, not that!" exclaimed Smith, anxiously. "It might slip off."

"It can't; there's a safety clasp. Anyway, we must have that trout!"

"But I could not permit----"

"It is I who permit myself, monsieur."

"No, no, it is too generous of you----"

"Please!" She held the pin toward him; he shook his head; she hesitated,
then with a quick movement she snapped the clasp over the taut line and
sent it spinning toward the invisible fish.

He saw the gold glimmer become a spark under water, die out in dusky
depths; then came a rushing upheaval of spray, a flash, the rod quivered
to the reel-plate, and the fight began in fury. The rod was so slim, so
light--scarce three ounces--that he could but stand on the defensive at
first. Little by little the struggle became give and take, then
imperceptibly he forced the issue, steadily, delicately, for the tackle
was gossamer, and he fought for the safety of the golden clasp as well
as for his honour as an angler.

"Do you know how to net a trout?" he asked presently. She came and stood
at his shoulder, net poised, blue eyes intent upon the circling fish.

"I place it behind him, do I not?" she asked coolly.

"Yes--when I give the word----"

One more swerve, a half circle sheering homeward, nearer, nearer----

A moment later the huge trout lay on the moss; iridescent tints played
over its broad surface, shimmering hues deepened, waxing, warning; the
spots glowed like rubies set in bronze.

Kneeling there, left hand resting on the rod, Smith looked up at her
over his shoulder; but all she said was: "Ah, the poor, brave thing! The
gallant fish! This is wrong--all wrong. I wish we had not taken a life
we cannot give again."

"Shall I put the trout back madame?"

She looked at him surprised.

"Would you?" she asked incredulously.

"If you desire it."

"But it is your fish."

"It is yours, madame."

"Will it live? Oh, try to make it live!"

He lifted the beautiful fish in both hands, and, walking to the water's
edge, laid it in the stream. For a while it floated there, gold and
silver belly turned to the sky, gills slowly inflating and collapsing.
Presently a fin stirred; the spasmodic movement of the gill-covers
ceased, and the breathing grew quiet and steady. Smith touched the
pectoral fins; the fish strove to turn over; he steadied the dorsal fin,
then the caudal, righting the fish. Slowly, very slowly, the great trout
moved off, farther, farther, sinking into cool, refreshing depths; there
was a dull glitter under the water, a shadow gliding, then nothing
except the green obscurity of the pool criss-crossed with surface

When Smith turned around the girl was pensively regarding the water. His
cap had stranded on a shoal almost at his feet; he recovered it, wrung
the drops from it, and stood twirling it thoughtfully in the sunlight.

"I've ruined it, haven't I?" she asked.

"Oh, no; it's a shooting-cap. Like Tartarin, I shall probably ventilate
it later in true Midi fashion."

She laughed; then, with the flushed composure of uneasiness: "Thank you
for a lesson in angling. I have learned a great deal--enough at least
to know that I shall not care to destroy life, even in a fish."

"That is as it should be," he replied coolly. "Men find little charm in
women who kill."

"That is scarcely in accord with the English novels I read--and I read
many," she said laughing.

"It is true, nevertheless. Saint Hubert save us from the woman who can
watch the spark of life fade out in the eye of any living thing."

"Are you not a little eccentric, monsieur?"

"If you say so. Eccentricity is the full-blown blossom of mediocrity."





There was a silence so politely indifferent on her part that he felt it
to be the signal for his dismissal. And he took his leave with a
formality so attractive, and a good humour so informal, that before she
meant to she had spoken again--a phrase politely meaningless in itself,
yet--if he chose to take it so--acting as a stay of execution.

"I was wondering," he said, amiably, "how I was going to climb back over
the wall."

A sudden caprice tinged with malice dawned in the most guileless of
smiles as she raised her eyes to his:

"You forgot your ladder this time, didn't you?"

Would he ever stop getting redder? His ears were afire, and felt

"I am afraid you misunderstood me," she said, and her smile became
pitilessly sweet. "I am quite sure a distinguished foreign angler could
scarcely condescend to notice trespass signs in a half-ruined old

His crimson distress softened her, perhaps, for she hesitated, then
added impulsively: "I did not mean it, monsieur; I have gone too

"No, you have not gone too far," he said. "I've disgraced myself and
deserve no mercy."

"You are mistaken; the trout may have come from your side of the

"It did, but that is a miserable excuse. Nothing can palliate my
conduct. It's a curious thing," he added, bitterly, "that a fellow who
is decent enough at home immediately begins to do things in Europe."

"What things, monsieur?"

"Ill-bred things; I might as well say it. Theoretically, poaching is
romantic; practically, it's a misdemeanor--the old conflict between
realism and romance, madame--as typified by a book I am at present
reading--a copy of the same book which I notice you are now carrying
under your arm."

She glanced at him, curious, irresolute, waiting for him to continue.
And as he did not, but stood moodily twirling his cap like a sulky
schoolboy, she leaned back against a tree, saying: "You are very severe
on romance, monsieur."

"You are very lenient with reality, madame."

"How do you know? I may be far more angry with you than you suspect.
Indeed, every time I have seen you on the wall--" she hesitated, paling
a trifle. She had made a mistake, unless he was more stupid than she
dared hope.

"But until this morning I had done nothing to anger you?" he said,
looking up sharply. Her features wore the indifference of perfect
repose; his latent alarm subsided. She had made no mistake in his

And now, perfectly conscious of the irregularity of the proceedings,
perhaps a trifle exhilarated by it, she permitted curiosity to stir
behind the curtain, ready for the proper cue.

"Of course," he said, colouring, "I know you perfectly well by

"And I you, monsieur--perfectly well. One notices strangers,
particularly when reading so frequently about them in romance. This
book"--she opened it leisurely and examined an illustration--"appears to
describe the American quite perfectly. So, having read so much about
Americans, I was a trifle curious to see one."

He did not know what to say; her youthful face was so innocent that
suspicion subsided.

"That American you are reading about is merely a phantom of romance," he
said honestly. "His type, if he ever did exist, would become such a
public nuisance in Europe that the police would take charge of
him--after a few kings and dukes had finished thrashing him."

"I do not believe you," she said, with a hint of surprise and defiance.
"Besides, if it were true, what sense is there in destroying the
pleasure of illusion? Romance is at least amusing; reality alone is a
sorry scarecrow clothed in the faded rags of dreams. Do you think you do
well to destroy the tinted film of romance through which every woman
ever born gazes at man--and pardons him because the rainbow dims her

She leaned back against the silver birch once more and laid her white
hand flat on the open pages of the book:

"Monsieur, if life were truly like this, fewer tears would fall from
women's eyes--eyes which man, in his wisdom, takes pains to clear--to
his own destruction!"

She struck the book a light blow, smiling up at him:

"Here in these pages are spring and youth eternal--blue skies and roses,
love and love and love unending, and once more love, and the world's
young heart afire! Close the book and what remains?" She closed the
covers very gently. "What remains?" she asked, raising her blue eyes to

"You remain, madame."

She flushed with displeasure.

"And yet," he said, smiling, "if the hero of that book replied as I have
you would have smiled. That is the false light the moon of romance sheds
in competition with the living sun." He shrugged his broad shoulders,
laughing: "The contrast between the heroine of that romance and you
proves which is the lovelier, reality or romance----"

She bit her lips and looked at him narrowly, the high colour pulsating
and dying in her cheeks. Under cover of the very shield that should have
protected her he was using weapons which she herself had sanctioned--the
impalpable weapons of romance.

Dusk, too, had already laid its bloom on hill and forest and had spun a
haze along the stream--dusk, the accomplice of all the dim, jewelled
forms that people the tinted shadows of romance. Why--if he had
displeased her--did she not dismiss him? It is not with a question that
a woman gives a man his congé.

"Why do you speak as you do?" she asked, gravely. "Why, merely because
you are clever, do you twist words into compliments. We are scarcely on
such a footing, monsieur."

"What I said I meant," he replied, slowly.

"Have I accorded you permission to say or mean?"

"No; that is the fashion of romance--a pretty one. But in life,
sometimes, a man's heart beats out the words his lips deliver untricked
with verbal tinsel."

Again she coloured, but met his eyes steadily enough.

"This is all wrong," she said; "you know it; I know it. If, in the woman
standing here alone with you, I scarcely recognise myself, you,
monsieur, will fail to remember her--if chance wills it that we meet

"My memory," he said in a low voice, "is controlled by your mind. What
you forget I cannot recall."

She said, impulsively, "A gallant man speaks as you speak--in agreeable
books of fiction as in reality. Oh, monsieur"--and she laughed a pretty,
troubled laugh--"how can you expect me now to disbelieve in my Americans
of romance?"

She had scarcely meant to say just that; she did not realise exactly
what she had said until she read it in his face--read it, saw that he
did not mean to misunderstand her, and, in the nervous flood of relief,
stretched out her hand to him. He took it, laid his lips to the fragrant
fingers, and relinquished it. Meanwhile his heart was choking him like
the clutch of justice.

"Good-by," she said, her outstretched hand suspended as he had released
it, then slowly falling. A moment's silence; the glow faded from the
sky, and from her face, too; then suddenly the blue eyes glimmered with
purest malice:

"Having neglected to bring your ladder this time, monsieur, pray accept
the use of mine." And she pointed to a rustic ladder lying half-buried
in the weedy tangle behind him.

He gave himself a moment to steady his voice: "I supposed there was a
ladder here--somewhere," he said, quietly.

"Oh! And why did you suppose--" She spoke too hurriedly, and she began
again, pleasantly indifferent: "The foresters use a ladder for pruning,
not for climbing walls."

He strolled over to the thicket, lifted the light ladder, and set it
against the wall. When he had done this he stepped back, examining the
effect attentively; then, as though not satisfied, shifted it a trifle,
surveyed the result, moved it again, dissatisfied.

"Let me see," he mused aloud, "I want to place it exactly where it was
that night--" He looked back at her interrogatively. "Was it about where
I have placed it?"

Her face was inscrutable.

"Or," he continued, thoughtfully, "was it an inch or two this way? I
could tell exactly if the moon were up. Still"--he considered the ladder
attentively--"I might be able to fix it with some accuracy if you would
help me. Will you?"

"I do not understand," she said.

"Oh, it is nothing--still, if you wouldn't mind aiding me to settle a
matter that interests me--would you?"

"With pleasure, monsieur," she said, indifferently. "What shall I do?"

So he mounted the ladder, crossed the wall, and stood on a stone niche
on his side, looking down at the ladder. "Now," he said, "if you would
be so amiable, madame, as to stand on the ladder for one moment you
could aid me immensely."

"Mount that ladder, monsieur?"

She caught his eyes fixed on her; for just an instant she hesitated,
then met them steadily enough; indeed, a growing and innocent curiosity
widened her gaze, and she smiled and lifted her pretty shoulders--just a
trifle, and her skirts a trifle, too; and, with a grace that made him
tremble, she mounted the ladder, step by step, until her head and
shoulders were on a level with his own across the wall.

"And now?" she asked, raising her eyebrows.

"The moon," he said, unsteadily, "ought to be about--there!"

"Where?" She turned her eyes inquiringly skyward.

But his heart had him by the throat again, and he was past all speech.

"Well, monsieur?" She waited in sweetest patience. Presently: "Have you
finished your astronomical calculations? And may I descend?" He tried to
speak, but was so long about it that she said very kindly: "You are
trying to locate the moon, are you not?"

"No, madame--only a shadow."

"A shadow, monsieur?"--laughing.

"A shadow--a silhouette."

"Of what?"

"Of a--a woman's head against the moon."

"Monsieur, for a realist you are astonishingly romantic. Oh, you see I
was right! You do belong in a book."

"You, also," he said, scarcely recognising his own voice. "Men--in
books--do well to risk all for one word, one glance from you; men--in
books--do well to die for you, who reign without a peer in all

"Monsieur," she faltered.

But he had found his voice--or one something like it--and he said: "You
are right to rebuke me; romance is the shadow, life the substance; and
_you_ live; and as long as you live, living men must love you; as I love
you, Countess of Semois."

"Oh," she breathed, tremulously, "oh,--you think _that_? You think _I_
am the Countess of Semois? And _that_ is why----"

For a moment her wide eyes hardened, then flashed brilliant with tears.

"Is that your romance, monsieur?--the romance of a Countess! Is your
declaration for mistress or servant?--for the Countess or for her
secretary--who sometimes makes her gowns, too? Ah, the sorry romance!
Your declaration deserved an audience more fitting----"

"My declaration was made a week ago! The moon and you were audience
enough. I love you."

"Monsieur, I--I beg you to release my hand----"

"No; you must listen--for the veil of romance is rent and we are face to
face in the living world! Do you think a real man cares what title you
wear, if you but wear his name? Countess that you are _not_--if you say
you are not--but woman that you _are_, is there anything in Heaven or
earth that can make love _more_ than love? Veil your beautiful true eyes
with romance, and answer me; look with clear, untroubled eyes upon
throbbing, pulsating life; and answer me! Love is no more, no less,
than love. I ask for yours; I gave you mine a week ago--in our first

Her face was white as a flower; the level beauty of her eyes set him

"Give me one chance," he breathed. "I am not mad enough to hope that the
lightning struck us both at a single flash. Give me, in your charity, a
chance--a little aid where I stand stunned, blinded, alone--you who can
still see clearly!"

She did not stir or speak or cease to watch him from unwavering eyes; he
leaned forward, drawing her inert hands together between his own; but
she freed them, shivering.

"Will you not say one word to me?" he faltered.

"Three, monsieur." Her eyes closed, she covered them with her slender
hands: "I--love--you."

       *       *       *       *       *

Before the moon appeared she had taken leave of him, her hot, young face
pressed to his, striving to say something for which she found no words.
In tremulous silence she turned in his arms, unclasping his hands and
yielding her own in fragrant adieu.

"Do you not know, oh, most wonderful of lovers--do you not know?" her
eyes were saying, but her lips were motionless; she waited, reluctant,
trembling. No, he could not understand--he did not care, and the
knowledge of it suffused her very soul with a radiance that transfigured

So she left him, the promise of the moon silvering the trees. And he
stood there on the wall, watching the lights break out in the windows of
her house--stood there while his soul drifted above the world of moonlit
shadow floating at his feet.


Half aroused, he turned and looked down. The moonlight glimmered on
Kingsbury's single eyeglass. After a moment his senses returned; he
descended to the ground and peered at Kingsbury, rubbing his eyes.

With one accord they started toward the house, moving slowly, shoulder
to shoulder.

"Not that I personally care," began Kingsbury. "I am sorry only on
account of my country. I was, perhaps, precipitate; but I purchased one
hundred and seven dolls of Mademoiselle Plessis--her private


"With whom," continued Kingsbury, thoughtfully, "I am agreeably in love.
Such matters, Smith, cannot be wholly controlled by a sense of duty to
one's country. Beauty and rank seldom coincide except in fiction. It
appears"--he removed his single eyeglass, polished it with his
handkerchief, replaced it, and examined the moon--"it appears," he
continued blandly, "that it is the Countess of Semois who is--ah--so to
speak, afflicted with red hair.... The moon--ahem--is preternaturally
bright this evening, Smith."

After a moment Smith halted and turned, raising his steady eyes to that
pale mirror of living fire above the forest.

"Well," began Kingsbury, irritably, "can't you say something?"

"Nothing more than I have said to her already--though she were Empress
of the World!" murmured Smith, staring fixedly at the moon.

"Empress of _what_? I do not follow you."

"No," said Smith, dreamily, "you must not try to. It is a long journey
to the summer moon--a long, long journey. I started when I was a child;
I reached it a week ago; I returned to-night. And do you know what I
discovered there? Why, man, I discovered the veil of Isis, and I looked
behind it. And what do you suppose I found? A child, Kingsbury, a winged
child, who laughingly handed me the keys of Eden! What do you think of

But Smith had taken too many liberties with the English language, and
Kingsbury was far too mad to speak.




I was smoking peacefully in the conservatory of the hotel, when a
bellboy brought me the card of Captain le Vicômte de Cluny.

In due time Monsieur the Viscount himself appeared, elegant, graceful,
smart; black and scarlet uniform glittering with triple-gold arabesques
on sleeve and Képi, spurs chiming with every step.

We chatted amiably for a few moments; then the Captain, standing very
erect and stiff, made me a beautiful bow and delivered the following
remarkable question:

"Monsieur Van Twillaire, I am come to-day according to the American
custom, to beg your permission to pay my addresses to mademoiselle,
your daughter."

I inhaled the smoke of my cigarette in my astonishment. That was bad for
me. After a silence I asked:

"Which daughter?"

"Mademoiselle Dulcima, monsieur."

After another silence I said:

"I will give you an answer to-morrow at this hour."

We bowed to each other, solemnly shook hands, and parted.

I was smoking restlessly in the conservatory of the hotel when a bellboy
brought me the card of Captain le Vicômte de Barsac.

In due time the Vicômte himself appeared, elegant, graceful, smart;
black, scarlet, and white uniform glittering with triple-gold arabesques
on sleeve and Képi, spurs chiming with every step.

We chatted amiably for a few moments; then the Captain, standing very
erect and stiff, made me a beautiful bow and delivered the following
remarkable question:

"Monsieur Van Twillaire, I am come to-day according to the American
custom, to beg your permission to pay my addresses to mademoiselle, your

I dropped my cigarette into the empty fireplace.

"Which daughter?" I asked, coldly.

"Mademoiselle Dulcima, monsieur."

After a silence I said:

"I will give you an answer to-morrow at this hour."

We bowed to each other, solemnly shook hands, and parted.

I was smoking violently in the conservatory of the hotel, when a bellboy
brought me a card of my old friend, Gillian Van Dieman.

In due time Van Dieman appeared, radiant, smiling, faultlessly groomed.

"Well," said I, "it's about time you came over from Long Island, isn't
it? My daughters expected you last week."

"I know," he said, smiling; "I couldn't get away, Peter. Didn't Alida

"Explain what?" I asked.

"About our engagement."

In my amazement I swallowed some smoke that was not wholesome for me.

"Didn't she tell you she is engaged to marry me?" he asked, laughing.

After a long silence, in which I thought of many things, including the
formal offers of Captains de Barsac and Torchon de Cluny, I said I had
not heard of it, and added sarcastically that I hoped both he and Alida
would pardon my ignorance on any matters which concerned myself.

"Didn't you know that Alida came over here to buy her trousseau?" he
inquired coolly.

I did not, and I said so.

"Didn't you know about the little plot that she and I laid to get you to
bring her to Paris?" he persisted, much amused.

I glared at him.

"Why, Peter," he said, "when you declared to me in the clubhouse that
nothing could get you to Paris unless, through your own stupidity,
something happened to your pig----"

I turned on him as red as a beet.

"I know you stole that pig, Van!"

"Yes," he muttered guiltily.

"Then," said I earnestly, "for God's sake let it rest where it is, and
marry Alida whenever you like!"

"With your blessing, Peter?" asked Van Dieman, solemnly.

"With my blessing--dammit!"

We shook hands in silence.

"Where is Alida?" he asked presently.

"In her room, surrounded by thousands of dressmakers, hatmakers,
mantua-makers, furriers, experts in shoes, lingerie, jewelry, and other
inexpensive trifles," said I with satisfaction.

But the infatuated man never winced.

"_You_ will attend to that sort of thing in the future," I remarked.

The reckless man grinned in unfeigned delight.

"Come," said I, wearily, "Alida is in for all day with her trousseau.
I've a cab at the door; come on! I was going out to watch the parade at
Longchamps. Now you've got to go with me and tell me something about
this temperamental French army that seems more numerous in Paris than
the civilians."

"What do you want to see soldiers for?" he objected.

"Because," said I, "I had some slight experience with the army this
morning just before you arrived; and I want to take a bird's-eye view of
the whole affair."

"But I----"

"Oh, we'll return for dinner and then you can see Alida," I added. "But
only in my company. You see we are in France, Van, and she is the _jeune
fille_ of romance."

"Fudge!" he muttered, following me out to the cab.

"We will drive by the Pont Neuf," he suggested. "You know the proverb?"

"No," said I; "what proverb?"

"The bridegroom who passes by the Pont Neuf will always meet a priest, a
soldier, and a white horse. The priest will bless his marriage, the
soldier will defend it, the white horse will bear his burdens through

As a matter of fact, passing the Pont Neuf, we did see a priest, a
soldier, and a white horse. But it is a rare thing not to meet this
combination on the largest, longest, oldest, and busiest bridge in
Paris. All three mascots are as common in Paris as are English sparrows
in the Bois de Boulogne.

I bought a book on the quay, then re-entered the taxi and directed the
driver to take us to the race-course at Longchamps.

Our way led up the Champs Elysées, and, while we whirled along, Van
Dieman very kindly told me as much about the French army as I now write,
and for the accuracy of which I refer to my future son-in-law.

There are, in permanent garrison in Paris, about thirty thousand troops
stationed. This does not include the famous Republican Guard corps,
which is in reality a sort of municipal gendarmerie, composed of several
battalions of infantry, several squadrons of gorgeous cavalry, and a
world-famous band, which corresponds in functions to our own Marine Band
at Washington.

The barracks of the regular troops are scattered about the city, and
occupy strategic positions as the armouries of our National Guard are
supposed to do. All palaces, museums of importance, and government
buildings are guarded day and night by infantry. The cavalry guard only
their own barracks; the marines, engineers, and artillery the same.

At night the infantry and cavalry of the Republican Guard post sentinels
at all theatres, balls, and public functions. In front of the Opera only
are the cavalry mounted on their horses, except when public functions
occur at the Elysées or the Hôtel de Ville.

In the dozen great fortresses that surround the walls of Paris,
thousands of fortress artillery are stationed. In the suburbs and
outlying villages artillery and regiments of heavy and light
cavalry have their permanent barracks--dragoons, cuirassiers,
chasseurs-à-cheval, field batteries, and mounted batteries. At Saint
Cloud are dragoons and remount troopers; at Versailles the engineers and
cuirassiers rule the region; and the entire Department of the Seine is
patrolled by gendarmes, mounted and on foot.

When we reached the beautiful meadow of Longchamps, with its grand-stand
covered with waving flags and the sunshine glowing on thousands of
brilliant parasols, we left the taxi, and found a place on what a New
Yorker would call "the bleachers." The bleachers were covered with
pretty women, so we were not in bad company. As for the great central
stand, where the President of the Republic sat surrounded by shoals of
brilliant officers, it was a mass of colour from flagstaff to pelouse.

The band of the Republican Guards was thundering out one of Sousa's
marches; the vast green plain glittered with masses of troops. Suddenly
three cannon-shots followed one another in quick order; the band ended
its march with a long double roll of drums; the Minister of War had

"They're coming," said Van Dieman. "Look! Here come the Saint-Cyrians.
They lead the march one year, and the Polytechnic leads it the next. But
I wish they could see West Point--just once."

The cadets from Saint-Cyr came marching past, solid ranks of scarlet,
blue, and silver. They marched pretty well; they ride better, I am told.
After them came the Polytechnic, in black and red and gold, the queer
cocked hats of the cadets forming a quaint contrast to the toy soldier
headgear of the Saint-Cyr soldiers. Following came battalion after
battalion of engineers in sombre uniforms of red and dark blue, then a
bizarre battalion of Turcos or Algerian Riflemen in turbans and pale
blue Turkish uniforms, then a company of Zouaves in scarlet and white
and blue, then some special corps which was not very remarkable for
anything except the bad fit of its clothing.

After them marched solid columns of line infantry, great endless masses
of dull red and blue, passing steadily until the eye wearied of the

Trumpets were sounding now; and suddenly, the superb French artillery
passed at a trot, battery after battery, the six guns and six caissons
of each in mathematically perfect alignment, all the gunners mounted,
and not a man sitting on limber or caisson.

In my excitement I rose and joined the roar of cheers which greeted the
artillerymen as battery after battery passed, six guns abreast.

"Sit down," said Van Dieman, laughing. "Look! Here come the cavalry!"

In two long double ranks, ten thousand horsemen were galloping
diagonally across the plain--Hussars in pale robin's-egg blue and black
and scarlet, Chasseurs-à-cheval in light blue and silver tunics,
Dragoons armed with long lances from which fluttered a forest of
red-and-white pennons, Cuirassiers cased in steel helmets and
corselets--all coming at a gallop, sweeping on with the earth shaking
under the thunder of forty thousand horses' hoofs, faster, faster,
while in the excitement the vast throng of spectators leaped up on the
benches to see.

There was a rumble, a rolling shock, a blast from a hundred trumpets.

Then, with the sound of the rushing of an ocean, ten thousand swords
swept from their steel scabbards, and a thundering cheer shook the very

       *       *       *       *       *

That evening we dined together at the Hôtel--Alida, Dulcima, Van Dieman,
and I.

Alida wore a new ring set with a brilliant that matched her shining,
happy eyes. I hoped Van Dieman might appear foolish and ill at ease, but
he did not.

"There is," said he, "a certain rare brand of champagne in the secret
cellars of this famous café. It is pink as a rose in colour, and drier
than a British cigar. It is the only wine, except the Czar's Tokay, fit
to drink to the happiness of the only perfect woman in the world."

"And her equally perfect sister, father and fiancé," said I. "So pray
order this wonderful wine, Van, and let me note the brand; for I very
much fear that we shall need another bottle at no distant date."

"Why?" asked Dulcima, colouring to her hair.

"Because," said I, "the French army is expected to encamp to-morrow
before this hotel."

"Cavalry or artillery?" she asked faintly.

"Both," said I; "so let us thank Heaven that we escape the infantry, at
least. Alida, my dear, your health, happiness, and long, long life!"

We drank the toast standing.


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