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Title: Ainslee's magazine, Volume 16, No. 2, September, 1905
Author: Various
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Ainslee's magazine, Volume 16, No. 2, September, 1905" ***

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Transcriber’s note: The Table of Contents was created by the Transcriber
and placed in the Public Domain.



CONTENTS


  The Maintenance of Jane                       1
  To A Roadside Cedar                          26
  The Deluge: A Story of Modern Finance        27
  Conversations With Egeria                    43
  Mis-Mated Americans                          46
  Aftermath                                    48
  The Golden Apple                             49
  The Master of the Dido                       62
  Mrs. Evremond                                71
  The Dog Star                                 81
  As It Ended                                  88
  The Tears of Undine                          89
  Now’s The Time O’ Year                      102
  Pride of Race                               103
  The Princess’ Kingdom                       116
  The Most Exclusive City in America          125
  The Gate                                    131
  The Way of a Man                            132
  The Incompatibility of the Catherwoods      144
  Dramatic Flashes From London & Paris        150
  For Book Lovers                             156



AINSLEE’S

  VOL. XVI.      SEPTEMBER, 1905.      No. 2.



THE MAINTENANCE OF JANE

By

MARGARET G. FAWCETT

[Illustration]


CHAPTER I.

The total,” began Jacob Willoughby, adjusting his _pince-nez_ and
regarding with near-sighted attention the scrap of paper he had
selected from a little white heap on the table in front of him--“the
total is just four thousand five hundred and seventy-six dollars and
ninety-seven cents.”

The figures froze the features of the Willoughby connection into
immobility for a second, but only for a second.

“I agreed to buy her wraps,” spoke up crisply Miss Willoughby, a maiden
lady of vinegary aspect, who sat on the extreme edge of the horsehair
and mahogany chair and glowered at the white heap on the table. “Read
the bill, Jacob.”

Obediently Jacob searched through the heap and extracted another
scrap. “Total, one thousand five hundred and forty-three dollars and
eighty-three cents,” he announced, ponderously.

If she hadn’t been a Willoughby, one would have said that the lady
of vinegary aspect snorted. All the Willoughbys, however, prided
themselves on never doing anything low. “_That_ for wraps,” muttered
this one, acidulously. “And she wheedled a set of sables out of Jacob
at Christmas time.”

Mr. Willoughby coughed deprecatingly and avoided the eye of his wife,
a woman with an appallingly firm chin who sat opposite him. She now
spoke sharply. “It’s Jacob’s ridiculous lack of backbone that’s to
blame for all this foolish extravagance,” she declared. “Why did he
consent in the first place to Jane’s furnishing that expensive flat?
Why did he get us to agree to divide the expense of her clothes among
us, and make us the victim of her spendthrift habits? For what she
calls _lingerie_”--Mrs. Jacob Willoughby pronounced the French word
with ineffable scorn, as though it suggested a multitude of moral
lapses--“she has run up a bill of---- What’s the amount, Jacob?”

Her husband, who was beginning to look crushed, searched with pathetic
haste through the white drift of papers, selected another slip and
readjusted his _pince-nez_. Suddenly a wave of red swept over his
distressed features.

“Well?” queried his wife, sharply.

“She’s--she’s itemized it!” murmured the unresourceful Jacob, faintly.

Thomas Willoughby, bachelor, who was a trifle hard of hearing, but
whose other faculties were very sharp, leaned forward and put his hand
behind his ear. “What say?” he demanded, querulously. “Speak up louder,
man, can’t you?” Thomas, who was sixty, regretted his affliction
chiefly because it so frequently prevented his hearing the recital of
some fresh deviltry of Jane’s.

Mrs. Jacob now interposed. “The total’s on the other side,” she said,
eying her husband suspiciously, and, with a guilty air, he hastily
reversed the paper. “The amount is eight hundred and seventeen dollars
and sixteen cents,” he informed his auditors, lifelessly.

“And just for one season,” supplemented Mrs. Willoughby. “It’s more
than I spend--it’s more, I’m sure, than any of us spend”--she surveyed
the Willoughby connection virtuously--“in five years.”

“Oh, well,” gurgled the youngest and most attractive of the Willoughbys
that were present, a placid, fair-haired woman, to whom any account
of Jane and her doings always read like a page out of a thrilling
novel, “she’s only twenty-four, you know, and it costs more to live in
New York than in the country.” The lady sighed. Her country home was
luxurious, but in her soul she longed for the flesh pots represented
by a New York season. Her husband, however, devoted to his Alderney
cows, his Berkshire hogs and his fancy fowls, put his foot down firmly
whenever the subject of a town house, or even a brief month at one of
the quieter hotels, was mentioned.

“Of course it costs more to live in New York,” snapped Miss Willoughby,
“and I’ve contended all along that Jane has no business keeping up that
flat in town. In the first place, ’tisn’t proper. A young woman with
her flighty ideas and without a chaperon or any female relation to give
her countenance! Mark my words”--with acrid emphasis--“Jane will yet
trail the Willoughby name in the dust.”

“Why doesn’t she marry again?” queried the Willoughby bachelor,
impatiently. “Deuce take it, De Mille’s been dead a year and six
months. Is the girl determined to wear widow’s weeds forever. Gad!”
he chuckled, shrilly, “I’d marry her myself to-morrow if I wasn’t
sixty and her uncle. Not,” he added, hastily, for he, like most of the
Willoughbys, was notoriously close-fisted, “that I countenance her
extravagance. But she needs a husband’s discipline.”

The depressed Jacob Willoughby here saw an opportunity to put in a word
in vindication of himself.

“You all know perfectly well,” he began, with dignity, “that when De
Mille up and died, just when his affairs were in the most critical
condition, and when a little firmness on his part would have kept him
alive long enough to save something out of the wreck for his widow,
Jane declared that she wouldn’t be bored with another husband, and
that if the connection couldn’t support her in the style to which she
was accustomed, she would go on the stage. When I said she might spend
her time with us, visiting each of us in turn, you know she flatly
refused, and insisted upon an apartment. She said that, though He
was a Willoughby Himself”--Jacob repeated this Janeism with peculiar
relish--“God never intended relations to be lived with, that they were
generally people you’d have nothing to do with if the accident of birth
hadn’t made them cousins, uncles and aunts.” As a matter of fact, when
Jane had uttered this impertinence, she had excepted Jacob, but the
senior Willoughby was too wise to hint at the exception in the presence
of his wife, who was also a Willoughby.

“You should have been firm,” she observed, witheringly. “That threat
about her going on the stage was all nonsense.”

“It was not nonsense,” retorted her husband, with unexpected spirit,
“and I had to think of the bishop.”

Jacob’s retort told as he meant that it should, and a painful pause
ensued. It was the bachelor Willoughby who broke it. “Well,” he
exclaimed, pettishly, drawing out his watch, “Jane will be here in five
minutes, and dinner in half an hour. The question is, what are we going
to do?”

“We are going to tell her,” snapped Miss Willoughby, “that the
apartment must be given up, and that she must live with each of us
in turn. Since she’s here--or will soon be here--she can remain a
while with you, Susan, and then she can come to me. In the meantime,
Jacob can see about subletting her apartment. Hark! There’s wheels!
Now”--turning to her brother--“be firm, Jacob. Let us”--encouragingly,
and glancing in turn at each of the Willoughbys, who, strange to
relate, looked ill at ease, if not frightened--“let us all be firm.”

The door opened and everybody started. But it was only the butler.

“A telegram for you, sir,” he said to Mr. Jacob Willoughby, extending
a yellow slip. The latter took it and hastily opened it. “It’s from
Jane,” he announced, glancing up. Did the other Willoughbys imagine it
or did his voice express relief?

“Read it,” commanded his wife, crisply.

    You dear, good people, I’m the biggest wretch on earth. Did so want
    to get to you before the house party broke up, but there’s the
    Reffolds’ dinner for to-night which I had entirely forgotten. Hope
    to get down for a week end later. Love to all.

            JANE.

For fully half a minute not a sound was heard in the stuffily furnished
Willoughby library. Then Miss Willoughby, in a voice ominously calm,
asked: “Will you kindly tell us the number of words in that telegram,
Jacob?”

“Total, fifty,” murmured Jacob, reluctantly, dropping the yellow slip
on the white heap and surveying it ruefully.

“Fifty!” echoed the Willoughby connection, feebly.

Susan Willoughby, Jacob’s wife, was the first to regain her mental
equilibrium. “You will write this evening, Jacob?” she questioned, with
stony composure.

“I will write this evening,” responded her husband, firmly.

The bachelor Willoughby suddenly chuckled. The outraged connection
stared at him in astonishment. “I--I was just thinking,” he giggled,
“that economy doesn’t seem to be Jane’s strong point.”

At its best, the Willoughby connection’s sense of humor was the reverse
of keen, and the situation was not one, in their opinion, that invited
levity. But whatever crushing blow threatened the frivolous member--and
Mrs. Susan Willoughby and Miss Willoughby both looked primed--was
happily averted by the opportune reappearance of the butler.

“Dinner is served,” he announced, solemnly, and Jacob Willoughby sprang
with alacrity to offer his arm to the most attractive of the female
Willoughbys.

“I will summon the bishop to wrestle with Jane,” announced Susan,
magisterially, as she led the way to the dining room. And the
connection realized that Jane had, indeed, become a problem.


CHAPTER II.

Jane balanced her spoon on the brim of the shell-like cup and smiled at
Mr. Scott.

“Yesterday, Billie, I received another of those Willoughby
epistles--about my extravagance, you know.”

“The idea of anybody thinking you extravagant,” murmured Mr. Scott,
with an adoring glance.

“Oh, as to that,” observed Jane, airily, “I admit I’m extravagant, but
I’m purposely so. Listen, my child, and I’ll tell you the story of my
life. But first let me put a drop more rum in your tea.” Mr. Scott held
out his cup.

“It does taste of tea,” he admitted. “And you know I’ve always cracked
up the flavor of your--er--tea, Jane.” She dropped the rum out of a
silver filigree bottle with an amethyst in the stopper.

“You see,” she continued, thoughtfully, “before my eyes were opened or
my teeth cut, those Willoughby relations of mine married me to De Mille
because he had money. He was--oh, well, Billie, he was the biggest
bore I ever met. However, I saw as little of him as possible, but
you can imagine that I did my best to make life miserable for those
Willoughbys who blighted my youth. What _are_ you laughing at, Billie?
Well, De Mille got into financial difficulties, and selfishly took
to his bed. I got the best nurse in town, and went to see him every
day. Yes, I did. It was good for me, of course!”--Jane’s conversation
usually took the form of a monologue. “Finally, he had the good taste
to die. When one of the Willoughbys, who came up to town to help me
bear my grief, came in and told me that he had passed to a better land,
I said: ‘Well, God knows best.’” Mr. Scott tittered. “Aunt Susan--that
was the Willoughby--assured the family that I was showing a beautiful
spirit. As a matter of fact, I really could have danced up and down,
I was so relieved. You see, Billie, if the man had ever pretended to
love me, I should not have been such a wretch. But he just wanted a
good-looking woman to preside over his house, and he wanted to marry
into the Willoughby family, and the Willoughby family wanted to get
me married to money and off their hands, so it was just a disgraceful
bargain, about which your humble servant had no more to say than the
dress goods on a bargain counter. When it was discovered that De Mille
had left me nothing but debts, I refused to worry, and informed my
beloved relations that my support was their business. Otherwise, the
stage for Jane, and the Willoughbys’ view of the stage is very similar
to the devil’s view of holy water.”

“Well, they’ve got plenty of this world’s goods,” commented Mr.
Scott, who was quite content to have Jane do most of the talking, an
arrangement that suited her to perfection.

“They’re rolling in wealth!” she exclaimed, filling her own cup. “But
they’re as close as bark on a tree, and how to bring them to time after
De Mille’s death kept me awake nights. I made up my mind to get even
with them for marrying me off like a slave, and the first thing I did
was to order the most expensive mourning New York affords. I still
cling to it, for black is _so_ becoming to me.”

“I should think it was,” said Mr. Scott, fervently. “You are simply
ravishing in that cap.”

“The cap was my own idea,” observed Jane, sweetly. “The real lace ones
are so stunning and so--er--expensive. But where was I? Oh, yes. The
Willoughbys held a mass meeting, or convocation, or something, to talk
me over. Finally it was decided that they would pay my bills among
them--if I was not too extravagant--and that I should spend my time
with each of them in turn, handed around from house to house like a
poor relation. But it was at that point in their proceedings that Jane
rose and gave them an ultimatum.”

“I put my money on Jane,” spoke up Mr. Scott, promptly.

“You won’t lose,” answered that young woman. “I rose, wiped my
eyes with a handkerchief--black border, two inches; price, three
dollars--and spoke my mind. I said that I had married to suit them,
and that henceforth I would live to suit myself; that I was perfectly
willing they should pay my bills, but that I intended to take an
apartment in town and go on living as before. I said it was not my
fault that my poor, dear husband--I shed a tear or two--had met with
financial reverses and was not able to leave me anything. I said,
further, that I would not be dictated to about the size of my bills,
that everyone knew I was not extravagant--yes, Billie, I said that with
a straight face--and that I was in deep grief, and could not bear any
more discussion of my affairs, and so I would just take my leave and
send in the bills.”

“Bet they were paralyzed,” observed Billie.

“That’s not the word for it. I left them gasping for breath. But they
hate gossip, and that’s where I had them. They hate to be called mean,
though being mean doesn’t worry them. That’s the way with some people,
you know. So I rented this apartment, moved my things in, drew a few
checks on uncle Jacob--the best of the lot, by the way--and here I have
lived in my deep grief.”

Jane smiled at Mr. Scott and leaned back in her chair.

“That’s the first chapter,” he said.

“Yes,” she answered, “and yesterday’s letter, which I’m coming to, is
the beginning of the second. This letter informed me that my bills were
becoming outrageously large, that I needed a chaperon--fancy a widow in
her first grief needing a chaperon, Billie--and the long and short of
it is that I must give up this apartment and go and live among them as
originally proposed.

“Well?” queried Mr. Scott.

“Well, what?” demanded Jane. “You certainly didn’t for a moment think I
would do it?”

“No,” he responded. “There’s a very simple way out, you know. Marry me
and let the Willoughbys go to----”

“Thunder,” finished Jane. “Oh, Billie, I do appreciate the fact that
you love me and want me. And if I loved you, I’d live in a cottage
with you--though I hate cottages--and work like a slave. But the awful
fact must be faced that I do not love you. I am horribly fond of you,
though, Billie, and I wish I could marry you, but I never could make
you understand how I hate being married. I was knocked down to the
highest bidder, and the experience was too disagreeable to permit me to
marry again or to fall in love with anyone.”

“But you’re flirting awfully with Kingston and Maitland--and there’s
Dick Thomas--oh, Jane, it’s pretty tough on me!” The boy--for Mr. Scott
wasn’t much more--looked as though he were going to cry.

“Fiddlesticks!” exclaimed Jane, contemptuously. “Nothing in the world
would induce me to marry one of those men--or any other. Freedom
is the breath of life to me, Billie, but I must have my little
recreations. You can’t understand--no man can--how flirting to a woman
is a justifiable evening up of the sufferings that some women have to
endure. Why, I’m leading Jack Maitland an awful existence because he
flirted desperately with Betty Lockwood, who loves him to distraction.
I’m doing it for Betty’s sake, and it’s good for him. Betty married
Maurice just out of pique.” Jane put down her cup. “I’m really trying
to do good, in my own way, Billie.”

“You should join the Humane Society,” observed Mr. Scott, sarcastically.

“The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children will rescue
you from my clutches if you persist in coming here all the time,” she
retorted, severely. “I’ll tell you what I am going to do”--changing the
subject, swiftly. “I’ll answer the Willoughby epistle in person. I’ll
go down to Rosemount to-morrow and tell them things that I hope will
do them good. I do not intend to reduce my bills, or live with them.
Whenever I get a letter from them like this last one, I go out and buy
something.”

“What did you buy yesterday?” queried Mr. Scott, with lively interest.

“A pair of high-boys--genuine colonials! I’ve no place for them here,
of course, but the Willoughbys needed them for a lesson.”

“Let me drive you down to Rosemount in my car,” said Mr. Scott, with
sudden inspiration.

“Um--I’d like the car and the chauffeur, but you, Billie, cannot come.
It might cause gossip.”

“Let ’em talk, who cares?” exclaimed Mr. Scott, defiantly.

“I do,” said Jane, decidedly. “No, you can’t come, Billie, but if
you’ll have the car here to-morrow, at ten, I’ll drive down in it, stay
all night, and come back the next day.”

“I’m afraid they’ll persuade you to live with them,” murmured Mr.
Scott, miserably.

“To think that you would say that to me,” said Jane, reproachfully. “I
intend to live alone from this time on. I hate living with anybody.”

“Wait until you’re in love!” warned Billie.

“Yes, I’ll wait,” responded his hostess, briskly. “A woman who has
had my luck would be an ungrateful wretch if she permitted herself to
become entangled again. Why, it isn’t one woman in ten who marries for
money whose husband dies in two years. No wonder I’ve clung to deep
mourning. It’s an expression of thankfulness--of the warmest gratitude
on my part. No one can say of me, Billie, that I do not realize my
blessings!”

Mr. Scott rose and tried to kiss Jane’s hand, but she put it
determinedly behind her.

“Respect my mourning, my child,” she said, rebukingly.

After Mr. Scott had taken his departure, she ordered two suit cases
packed, gave orders to her two servants about the care of the
apartment during her absence, and telegraphed a lengthy message to the
Willoughbys.


CHAPTER III.

It was a glorious May day. Jane, whose sound digestion and general
superlatively good health enabled her always to front life genially,
even when she was most convinced that it was nothing but a heartless
farce, was in rollicking spirits. She let Johnson, Billie’s chauffeur,
take full charge of the car, while she lay back luxuriously, humming
snatches of gay song or planning fresh audacities that would humble the
proud spirit of the Willoughbys. But silence for any length of time
when there was somebody to talk to was always irksome to Jane.

“You have heard of Elijah, of course?” she observed, presently, to the
smug-faced driver.

“Mrs. Carruth’s man, mum?” he asked, stolidly.

“Goodness, no, Johnson!” exclaimed Jane, in a horrified voice.
“Though, really”--judiciously--“if Polly insists on his keeping up
that awful pace with her car, I think he, too, will go to heaven in
a chariot of fire. But”--this to the chauffeur--“I was not referring
to Mrs. Carruth’s man, Elihu, but to Elijah, a Bible character. Don’t
you”--severely--“read your Bible, Johnson?”

“Well, mum,” began Johnson, cautiously, “seeing as how I didn’t take
much to books when I was a kid, and seeing as how big words always
kind of floor me now, I don’t go in much for readin’, ’cept about the
sports in the papers.”

“They should publish the Bible in words of one syllable,” reflected
Jane. “I must speak to the bishop about it. Elijah, Johnson, was a
prophet who went to heaven in a chariot of fire. I’ve always liked to
think that it was a kind of superior motor car, and that it took Elijah
several days to reach his destination, and that he had a perfectly
delicious time whizzing up through the air, past the stars and the
moon, and I wouldn’t be a bit surprised, Johnson, if he leaned out
and jabbed at the moon as he passed, just to see what it was really
made of. Personally, I take no stock in what the scientists tell us,
and I’ve often thought that if Elijah had come back and told about
his ride, they wouldn’t have a leg to stand on. Now, it’s my private
opinion, Johnson, that the world is flat, as flat as a--goodness
gracious, what’s that!”

“It’s somethin’ gone wrong, mum,” said Johnson, resignedly. “There
was a bolt I was suspectin’ of this morning, but Mr. Scott said
that on no account was you to be kept waitin’, and that, bolt or no
bolt, I was to be at your door at ten sharp. An’ you’ll remember,
mum”--reproachfully--“that I waited in front of those steps one hour by
th’ watch Mr. Scott gave me Christmas, and if it wasn’t for the fact
that every minute I was expectin’ to see you come runnin’ down them, I
could have put in a new bolt----”

“Of course it’s all my fault, Johnson,” interrupted Jane, “but I never
was on time in my life, and I’m too old to begin now. Here’s a nice
secluded bit of road where you can overhaul the car, and I’ll just walk
about a bit for exercise. But don’t let it take long, Johnson, for I’m
simply famished, and we have to go ten miles yet before we get any
luncheon.”

By this time the driver was under the car, and only a pair of
tremendous boots was visible. After giving them an amused look, Jane
divested herself of her motor rig, shook out her skirts, and, with
a parting warning to Johnson to blow the horn when he was ready,
sauntered slowly down the country road, which reminded her of one of
the picturesque lanes in English Surrey.

“It’s a queer thing,” she communed with herself, as she walked along,
“that the first day I’m in the country I adore it, and resolve firmly
never, never to leave it again; and the second day I begin to pick
flaws in it, and take notice of all the hideous little creeping things,
and the third I loathe it, and feel that I will die instantly if I
can’t get back to where there are lots of people and a great deal of
noise and plenty of dirt. I suppose I----”

Jane’s saunter and reflections both came to an abrupt end, for a
turn in the lane had disclosed to her a man sitting on a log by the
roadside, munching hungrily at an appetizing-looking sandwich, the most
appetizing one, the hungry Mrs. De Mille instantly decided, that she
had ever seen. Beside the man was a small hamper of straw, and leaning
against the log was a bottle. He was reading out of a small book, and
utterly oblivious, apparently, to his surroundings. He finished in a
few bites the sandwich, and, without lifting his eyes, thrust his hand
in the hamper, drew forth another, and proceeded deliberately to devour
that, too. More and more envious grew Jane’s eyes as she watched the
rapid shrinking of the thing she most coveted just then. The second
sandwich disappeared like its predecessor, and once more the long,
brown hand sought the hamper. Another sandwich was drawn forth, it was
raised to the man’s mouth, but before he had a chance to take a bite
Jane cried out, impulsively: “Oh, please don’t eat them _all_!”

The man looked up, bewildered, and then, catching sight of Jane, sprang
to his feet and pulled off his cap. “I--beg your pardon,” he began,
uncertainly; “did you speak?”

“Yes,” calmly answered Mrs. De Mille, who was always prepared to back
her own imprudent impulses. “I asked you to please not eat that other
sandwich. I’m terribly hungry!”

A smile lighted up the man’s serious face. “Oh, there are more in the
hamper,” he answered. “My appetite is big enough, but it is not as big
as Mrs. Moore thinks it is. Please help yourself.” He held out the
hamper.

“Thanks,” said Jane, taking a sandwich and beginning to devour it
hungrily. “If Mrs. Moore made these,” she observed, presently, “I think
she has very good taste--in sandwiches.”

“It’s her specialty,” he responded. “Everybody, you know, has a
specialty. But won’t you be seated?” With a gesture he indicated the
log, and Jane, frankly delighted with her adventure, seated herself.

“Have they?” she queried, helping herself to another sandwich. “Now, I
wonder what mine is?”

The man regarded her with interest. “If you have just fallen from the
sky----” he began.

“No, it was a motor car,” interrupted Jane. “That is, I didn’t fall
from it, but something happened to a bolt. The chauffeur is working at
it down the road a bit. I didn’t stay to examine it, for I always get
a smudge on my nose when I look at the works of a motor car. Perhaps
that’s my specialty--getting smudges on my nose.” She looked at the man
and smiled. “It isn’t a very useful one, is it?”

“There are practical specialties and ornamental specialties,” he
observed, “and it’s----”

“Oh, well, you know getting a smudge on one’s nose is neither
ornamental nor practical,” broke in Jane, with a laugh. Then, changing
the subject quickly: “It’s awfully good of you to feed the hungry.”

“Pray let me give drink to the thirsty, too,” he said. Picking up a
small silver cup, he walked over to a brook that purled behind them,
rinsed it out and, coming back, filled it from the bottle of wine that
rested against the log.

Jane drank it gratefully. “I never in my life had a more delicious
meal,” she said, quite truthfully. Then she looked at him
inquisitively. “Do you live some place around here, or did your car
break down, too?” she asked.

“I’m not so lucky as to own a car. I’m stopping for a time at
Rosemount--the village, you know.”

“Oh, then, perhaps you know the Willoughbys,” said Jane. “The
Willoughbys, of Willoughby Hall.”

“Do they live in an ugly mass of architecture on a hill, and does the
lady look like a grenadier and the man like a drummer boy in his first
engagement?”

Jane threw back her head and laughed. “That’s Aunt Susan and Uncle
Jacob to a T,” she exclaimed. The man flushed with embarrassment.

“I beg your pardon,” he said. “Of course I had no idea they were
relatives of yours.”

“You haven’t offended me,” Jane hastened to assure him. “I know they’re
impossible, though Uncle Jacob really means well. I’m on my way down
there now.”

“For a visit?” queried the man, who was staring at her in an impersonal
sort of way that rather piqued her.

“Not if I know myself, and I flatter myself I do,” she responded,
decidedly. “No, I’m going down to give them--Aunt Susan particularly--a
piece of my mind.”

“Lucky Aunt Susan!” commented the man, still regarding her with that
air of detached interest.

“You say that because you’ve never had a piece of my mind,” observed
Jane, darkly. “Because I’m desperately poor----”

“Poor!” exclaimed the man, disbelievingly, as his eye took in the
details of her exceedingly smart get-up.

“As poor as a church mouse,” said Jane, impressively. “I’m supported
by contributions made by the Willoughby connection, and because my
bills for the past season have been a--a trifle large, they wrote me an
abusive letter. Fancy!”

“Fancy!” echoed the man, absent-mindedly. “Why don’t you----”

But an explosive blast on a horn interrupted him. Jane rose hastily.
“That’s Johnson,” she said. “I must go. But how are you going to get
back to Rosemount?” she demanded.

“Oh, I’ll pick up one of the market gardeners along the road,” he
answered, indifferently. “Besides, I came out on a quest, and I can’t
return until it is successfully consummated.”

“A quest!” echoed Jane, and promptly sat down again. “It sounds
interesting,” she said; “tell me about it.”

“I’m looking for a heroine,” he explained.

“A heroine!” repeated Mrs. De Mille, blankly, wondering for the first
time if he was as sane as he looked.

“Yes, for a book, you know,” he said, in a matter-of-fact way. “I
scribble for a living, and lately my publishers have complained that I
never draw a real flesh-and-blood woman. I’ve determined to put one in
the new book I’m writing.”

“So you’re strolling around the country in search of one,” mused Jane.
“I should think you’d stand a better chance of finding one in town.”
There was another blast on the horn, short and angry this time, but
Mrs. De Mille waved it airily aside.

“I can’t work in town,” he answered. “I’ve just come back from Alaska,
and it seems so shut-in there.” He nodded in the direction of the
skyscrapers of New York.

“What would a heroine have to do?” queried Jane. “I mean a model
heroine?”

“Oh, just give me a chance to study her, and let me pay her for it,”
he answered, coolly. “I work in a small bungalow, and if she’d give
me some sittings----” But once more the voice of the horn broke in--a
long, reproachful, plaintive note this time. Mrs. De Mille rose,
reluctantly. “I really must go, or Johnson will ruin his voice,” she
said. Then she had a sudden inspiration. “You’re going to Rosemount,”
she said to the man. “Why can’t we take you there? I’d like to do
something to pay for that delicious meal.”

“You’ve paid me a thousandfold by accepting it,” he answered, quickly.
“I couldn’t think of putting you to any trouble.”

“It isn’t any trouble,” she answered, positively. “There’s plenty of
room in the car.” The man’s face showed signs of yielding.

“Come,” she commanded, imperiously; and he stooped and gathered up the
hamper and his book and followed her down the road.

“Johnson,” Mrs. De Mille called to the chauffeur, who was sitting in
the car like patience on a monument, but without the smile, “this
gentleman has saved me from starvation, and he’s now going to save you;
for in this hamper, Johnson, are three of the most delicious sandwiches
you ever ate. Hustle them down as quickly as you can, and then we’ll
repay his generosity by giving him a lift to Rosemount.”

When the car was well under way, Jane turned impressively to her new
acquaintance. “And now I want to ask you,” she said, “if you think I’d
do for the heroine?”

“It’s been my wish ever since I first set eyes on you,” he answered,
calmly. “I’m in great luck.”

“And the Willoughbys,” said Jane, cheerfully, “will be in a rage, so
it’s a delightful arrangement all around.”


CHAPTER IV.

Mrs. Willoughby and Miss Willoughby--the latter had driven over from
her country home to discuss Jane--sat in the library listening to the
shrieks of laughter that floated across the hall from the music room,
laughter interspersed with the sharp yelping of a dog and bars of music.

“They’ve kept that up,” said Mrs. Willoughby, crisply, “since luncheon.”

“What did you say his name was?” asked Miss Willoughby, whose patent
disgust made her look more vinegary than ever.

“She calls him Dick,” said aunt Susan, disdainfully. “His last name is
Thomas. A flighty idiot, who talks with a lisp.”

“Where’s the bishop?” demanded the guest, suddenly.

“He’s packing,” answered her sister-in-law, with an air of repressed
anger. “Jane took him out in a motor car, some man’s motor car that
she came down in, and he came back looking much upset, and said he had
to pack and return to town immediately. And he had promised to stay two
days!”

“Must have been her doings,” commented Miss Willoughby.

“I don’t know,” said Aunt Susan, drearily. “He did say something about
fleeing temptation.”

“The hussy!” Miss Willoughby’s voice expressed virtuous scorn. “Wait
until she comes to me.” She closed her lips, grimly.

“I was going to tell you about that,” said her hostess. “Jane has what
she calls _a job_.”

“A--a job!” echoed Miss Willoughby, faintly.

Susan Willoughby nodded her head, vigorously. “That’s what she calls
it,” she said, indignation revealed in every monosyllable. “She’s hired
out as a model!”

Miss Willoughby shrieked and fumbled feebly for her smelling salts.

“Oh, I don’t mean the--er--_Trilby_ kind, you know,” said Mrs.
Willoughby, hastily. “Some wretched creature whom she picked up with
on her way down here is writing a book, and he’s offered to pay her if
she’ll let him study her in order to get material for his heroine.”

“I never heard of such a thing!” gasped Miss Willoughby. “It isn’t
respectable, and you don’t need to try to convince me that it is. What
does Jacob say?”

“Jacob!” There was indescribable contempt expressed in Mrs.
Willoughby’s voice as she uttered the name. “Jane simply twists him
around her little finger.”

Miss Willoughby rose suddenly, with the air of one having made up her
mind to perform an unpleasant task.

“Where are you going?” demanded her hostess.

“To tell Jane what I think of her conduct and to warn----”

But before the spinster had a chance to finish her sentence, the door
across the hall was flung open suddenly, and Jane, laughter in her
eyes and on her lips, her hair disheveled, emerged. Under her arm
was tucked a yelping skye terrier, and close behind her followed an
immaculately attired and rather good-looking young man, who appeared to
be thoroughly enjoying himself. As usual, Jane was talking.

“You’re not musical, Bijou, and it’s a waste of time trying to make
you musical! Here Mr. Thomas and I have spent the greater part of an
hour trying to impress upon you the difference between Wagner and
ragtime, but it’s been a miserable failure. I want to think you have a
soul, Bijou, though the bishop doesn’t believe you have, but after the
painful lack of discrimination you have just shown--Aunt Mary! When in
the world did you come, and _what_ a delightful surprise!”

Jane, who had suddenly espied her two aunts, unceremoniously dropped
the skye terrier and darted into the library, leaving the young man
hovering uncertainly in the doorway. She seized the spinster’s two
mitt-clad hands and kissed her heartily on each withered cheek. Then
she stood back a pace or two and surveyed her with rapt admiration.

“I’m terribly jealous of you, Aunt Mary,” she exclaimed. “Look at
your complexion! Peaches and cream!”--as a matter of fact, it more
closely resembled sole leather, but Miss Willoughby brightened up,
nevertheless. “And your figure! What in the world have you been doing
to your figure? Such curves!”

The spinster, conscious of the strange young man in the doorway,
blushed painfully.

“My dear----” she began, in a stage whisper, motioning stealthily in
the direction of Mr. Thomas.

“Oh, pardon me,” said Jane, willfully misunderstanding her aunt’s
meaning. “Aunt Mary, this is Mr. Thomas. I shall have to ask you to
entertain him for a while, for I have a business engagement.” She
pulled out a tiny, jeweled watch and gave an exclamation. “Half an hour
late! Dick, what is it they do to working people when they are half
an hour late? Though why, indeed, I should ask you I don’t know, for
I’m sure you never did half an hour’s real work in your life! Oh, yes,
dock them--that’s it, isn’t it? I thought of yacht, for I knew the term
was nautical, and then I instantly thought of ‘docked’”--triumphantly;
Jane was always intensely interested in her mental processes. “Did you
know I had become a working person, Aunt Mary? Earning my living by
the sweat of my brow, and that sort of thing?” Miss Willoughby smiled,
weakly. “Well, ta, ta,” continued Jane. “Remember”--shaking a warning
finger at the spinster--“Mr. Thomas is young and unsophisticated, and
I’ll not have his young affections trifled with.”

“Oh, I thay----” began Mr. Thomas, protestingly, and making a motion as
though he were bent on accompanying Mrs. De Mille.

“No, Dickie,” she said, firmly, “bosses don’t like to have young men
a-followin’ of their gells.” This was said with an inimitable cockney
accent that caused Mr. Thomas to grin appreciatively. Jane made a
wicked _moue_ at him, nodded to her aunts and hurried away, leaving the
two ladies speechless, and the guest she had thrust upon them looking
decidedly uncomfortable.

As she sauntered down the road that led past the bungalow which had
been erected in the rear of the Moore cottage, and which her new
acquaintance had pointed out as his workshop, Jane looked as though she
hadn’t a care in the world. As a matter of fact, however, she was not
without her misgivings in regard to the outcome of the engagement she
had entered into. She had done it chiefly to torment the Willoughbys,
but she was honest enough to admit to herself, as she walked leisurely
on, that the man himself had aroused her curiosity, and that this had
something to do with her obeying that reckless impulse to offer herself
as a model.

“He’s doubtless a counterfeiter or a gentleman burglar who’s planning
to steal the Willoughby spoons,” she communed with herself, cheerfully,
“and it’s very likely that he’ll insist on my becoming his accomplice,
and then Aunt Mary will have a chance to say: ‘Didn’t I tell you Jane
would come to a bad end.’ I really believe they’d----”

But the quaint-looking bungalow had suddenly loomed up in Mrs. De
Mille’s path, and put an end to her reflections. Half hesitatingly she
knocked on the door, and it was instantly thrown open by the man whom
she chose to call her employer.

“Please don’t tell me I’m late,” she said, as she gave him her hand and
stepped across the threshold. “Being late, you know, is a weakness one
is born with, I think, like not being able to spell, or having a thirst
for strong drink. In town they call me ‘the late Mrs. De Mille.’ The
only occasion I was ever known to be on time was at poor De Mille’s
funeral. Billie Scott said---- But how delightfully cozy it is here!”

Jane paused and surveyed the room with interest. It was simply
furnished with some good rugs, several well-filled bookcases, two or
three comfortable-looking chairs, and a long table that apparently
served for a desk, for it was covered with papers; but there was a
cheerful fire in the great fireplace--a comfort that Mrs. De Mille
appreciated, for the day, though bright, was chilly--and in front of
this was a tea table, on which a copper kettle was singing merrily over
a blue, alcohol flame.

“I’m glad you like it,” said the man, gravely. “Can I take your hat and
jacket?”

“Oh, I’ll just toss them over this chair,” said Jane, carelessly,
suiting the action to her words. “I hope you’re not one of those people
who must have everything just so. De Mille was like that. He found me
a terrible trial. His idea of a well-ordered existence was a place for
everything and everything in its place. I don’t mind having a place
for everything, you know, but I think having everything in its place
robs life of a great deal of uncertainty, and it’s the uncertainty that
makes it fascinating, don’t you think?”

“When I was a little chap,” said the man, pulling forward a chair for
Jane and taking one himself near the table, “I had to look out not
only for myself, but also for my mother, who sewed when she could, to
support herself and me, but who was crippled with rheumatism most of
the time. Our next meal was always a matter of uncertainty. My idea
of heaven then was a place where the future was absolutely certain.
No”--reflectively, as he leaned over to poke the fire--“I don’t believe
I want any more uncertainties in mine.”

Mrs. De Mille stared at him with lively curiosity in her eyes, and
noted approvingly the strong, clean contour of his jaw, and his long,
lean, brown hands. “He may have been born poor, but he was also born a
gentleman,” she reflected, shrewdly. Aloud she said:

“Do you know that I haven’t the remotest idea what your name is?”

“How very remiss of me!” he exclaimed, looking up from the fire. “It’s
John Ormsby.”

“Oh,” said Jane, “you’re the man who writes men’s books. Why,” she
continued, severely, “have you ignored my sex?”

He smiled. “I have already told you,” he said, “that I don’t know
enough about you to put you in a book.”

“You’ve chosen a bad specimen to study,” she retorted. “I give you fair
warning.”

“As to that,” he answered, with an indifference that nettled Jane,
“I’m not at all particular about the type. My publishers demand a real
flesh-and-blood creation, but they didn’t specify the type.”

“He’s downright brutal,” said Jane, to herself, but rather enjoying the
novelty of seeing an opportunity for a pretty speech to her ignored.
“You’ll have to instruct me in my duties,” she said, smilingly. “Now,
if there was only such a thing as a Handy Manual for authors’ models
that I could get and read up in, my course would be plain sailing. As
it is, I’m all at sea.”

“Oh, all you have to do is to talk,” said the man, encouragingly. “I’m
going to make you a cup of tea.” He began to handle the tea things
deftly.

“Talk and tea,” commented Jane, thoughtfully. “It sounds easy. I
believe I’ve got what Billie Scott would call a ‘snap.’”


CHAPTER V.

MY DEAR DENEEN: The Labrador trip sounds good to me, and as soon as
the book is off my hands, which will be about the time you fellows
are ready to start, I reckon I’ll be wid ye. The old spring fever has
again seized hold of me, and I’m fairly sweating for a whiff of the
open. I wrote you a squib shortly after I arrived, and the ragged kid
to whom I gave it to post swears by all that’s unholy--he knows nothing
holy--that he posted it, but I suppose it represented too promising
spitball material to be wasted on a village post office. This is the
worst place to get anything done. Every villager regards himself as
an American from “wayback,” and scorns to turn an honest penny by
running or walking an errand. But it’s a jolly place to write in. I’m
boarding with a queer old couple by the name of Moore, who take summer
boarders during July and August, and who, for the convenience of the
town folk, have built a bungalow a short distance from the house.
It’s quite decently furnished with books and rugs and a fireplace,
and my credentials were so good that the Moores have turned it over
to me for a workroom. The book I’m at work on is a deliberate attempt
to pander to the depraved taste of _hoi polloi_. Yet, I confess it
without shame, I’m tremendously interested in it. I find myself reading
over and over again parts I’ve written--not with a view to improving
them, but because I think they’re so good. Sounds maudlin, doesn’t
it? But it’s the gospel truth. And the book is all about a woman!
Smoke that in your pipe, old man! I, who have heretofore scorned all
feminine frumperies, find myself dissecting frills and analyzing
chiffons. Whence cometh this superior knowledge? do I hear you ask with
a suspicious leer? Whisper! I have a model, and I’m learning about
women from her. Kipling’s idea, you see, but put into respectable and
strictly business-like practice. For an hour or so every afternoon she
gives me “sittings” in the bungalow. She’s no ordinary paid hireling,
mind you, but a fine New York lady, who seems to have accepted the job
partly because she desired a new experience, and partly to displease
some rich but close-fisted relatives upon whom she’s dependent, but
whom she appears to be leading a life. I was tramping about the country
one day shortly after I came down here, and while I was having a bite
by the roadside, a tailor-made vision with hungry eyes and a wistful
air suddenly appeared out of the nowhere and demanded a sandwich. She
accepted my invitation to sit down and share what I had, and then she
insisted on giving me a lift, and on the way to Rosemount artlessly
discussed her deceased husband and her relatives--in short, told me
several chapters out of the story of her life. I suppose she’s about
the most frivolous specimen of the frivolous sex. Her male admirers
are numerous, and some of them trail down from town every day. The
morning after she arrived--she came down in a motor car, and it is to a
lost bolt that I owe my introduction--I met her out in the car gazing
soulfully into the eyes of an elderly party with a clerical collar and
an Episcopal air. She told me afterward it was Bishop ----, and informed
me quite calmly that he had fled to town to save his immortal soul,
his wife being in Europe. Said her relatives were scandalized, a fact
that seemed to please her very much. Last night I walked down to the
village to get some medicine for my landlord, who had eaten something
that disagreed with him and was in a rather bad way. It was as dark as
pitch, and I had a lantern. I flashed it as I came around a turn in
the road, and found myself face to face with my model and two young
men. Each had hold of one of her hands, and each looked idiotically
blissful. She seemed the least confused of the bunch, and said
“good-evening” quite calmly. I don’t suppose there’s another bundle of
such contradictions in the universe. She has all the aplomb of a woman
of the world, and all of the _naïveté_ of an unspoiled child. No sort
of companion for a man, you understand, but vastly amusing. She speaks
of her deceased husband with the most brutal frankness, and makes no
pretense of regarding his passing as anything but a happy release for
her. For all her apparent spontaneity, I’ve an idea that at heart this
model of mine is as hard as rocks. But as I’ve already told you, she’s
teaching me a lot, and the book is progressing, and if it’s a success,
half the royalties go to her. That is only fair.

Keep me posted about arrangements for your trip. I’m writing now at
white heat, and should have the book ready for my publishers within a
fortnight. And then, old pal, for Labrador and the open and real, real
life.

  Yours,
            JOHN ORMSBY.


CHAPTER VI.

DEAR BETTY: I’m inclosing that cold-cream recipe you asked for. It’s
warranted to give you a perfect complexion, keep your hair in curls,
your hat on straight and your temper amiable. I’m glad to hear that
you and Maurice have had an understanding, and that everything is all
serene. If you have to be in love with somebody, I honestly think it’s
much better to be in love with your husband. De Mille, of course, was
out of the question, but fortunately I’ve never felt the necessity
of being in love with anyone, and, now that I’ve reached the age of
twenty-four, it’s not probable that I ever will. Confidentially, Betty,
I never could see what you saw in Maitland. His eyes are good, I grant
you, but he’s so terribly sentimental. I’ve flirted with him, so I know
him. Next to living with a man, there’s nothing like a good flirtation
to put you on to all his good and bad qualities. Your husband is worth
a hundred of him. I _know_.

My dear, I’m earning my own living, and, according to the Willoughbys,
it’s the most extravagant thing I’ve done in the whole course of my
extravagant career. You see, every time I remember I’m a working woman,
I feel independent, and order a lot of new things, and the bills have
been rather stiff, I’ll admit. But you know how miserly the Willoughbys
are! Aunt Susan suggested that I figure up how much I’m going to get
and try to live on it, but I declined most emphatically. I never was
good at doing sums, and I don’t propose to begin to subtract and add
at this late day. Besides, I haven’t the remotest idea how much I’m
going to receive, for I refuse to let Mr. Ormsby mention the matter.
Money matters are _so tiresome_. But I’m forgetting that you know
nothing about my _job_. I’m a model--a literary man’s model. You’re
in with that literary set, so I suppose you’ve read his books. I
read one--Billie Scott raved so about it that I simply had to--but
there wasn’t a woman in it, just a lot of horrid men, that smoked and
swore when they weren’t fighting, and that fought when they weren’t
swearing and smoking. It seems that Mr. Ormsby’s publishers have
insisted upon his turning over a new leaf and writing something about
women, and, knowing nothing about our sex, Betty, he conceived the
strictly original idea of employing a model. I came down to Rosemount
in Billie’s motor car, and picked him--Mr. Ormsby--up and took him
along with me. We had quite a romantic meeting. I found him eating his
luncheon by the roadside, and insisted on his sharing it with me. I
give him “sittings” every afternoon in an adorable bungalow that he’s
fitted up as a workshop. He explained to me, in the beginning, that he
might have picked out some woman of his acquaintance and studied her,
but that he considered it wouldn’t be honorable--that with a hired
model he felt absolutely independent. I really can’t endure him, but
I’ve resolved to stick this out to the bitter end. I feel like a little
wiggly bug pinned to a piece of cardboard, with a pair of sharp, cold,
gray eyes analyzing every wiggle. This Ormsby is shockingly lacking in
_savoir faire_, and so far as flirting is concerned, he doesn’t know
the a, b, c’s of the game.

I began this letter yesterday afternoon, before dinner, with the hope
of getting it out in the evening mail, but Billie and Ernie Francis
came down from town and stopped to dinner. I’m sure the Willoughbys
have never been so gay in their lives--we’ve had company every day
since I’ve been down here--but I can’t see that it has improved Aunt
Susan’s disposition much. Something occurred last night that I suppose
has shoved me a peg further down in Mr. Ormsby’s estimation. Not that
I care! After dinner, Billie and Ernie and I went for a walk down to
the village. It was very dark coming back, and, walking between them,
naturally I didn’t resent it when each took one of my hands. There’s
something so _comforting_ about the grasp of a strong man’s hand.
Haven’t you often thought so, Betty? If I ever marry again, I intend to
pick out a man who will be able to hold my hand in a nice way when I’m
dying.

Unfortunately, as we came around a bend in the road, a lantern was
flashed at us. It was Ormsby, and you can’t imagine the look of disgust
on his face when he took in the situation. As though it were any
business of his! I had a wretched evening, for Billie and Ernie were
furious because I permitted each to hold my hand. They have _such queer
ideas_ of propriety! How little real pleasure one gets out of life,
Betty! Louise has sent me down one of those _bébé_ hats--a perfect
dream. I intend to wear it to church to-morrow morning and give the
villagers a treat.

By the way, dear, if you’ve any old clothes to dispose of, send them
down here. I’ve discovered a poor family--father out of work, mother
sick, baby three days old. They are absolutely destitute. I’ve ordered
a beautiful christening robe for the baby, and have had the bill sent
to Uncle Jacob. I intend to be its godmother. But why will those people
insist on having so many children, Betty? Six in this family! _Fancy!_
I’ve a good mind to write to the President, and insist on his providing
for them. This man, even when he works, doesn’t make enough to support
two--to say nothing of six. The baby is quite pretty, except that
its nose is inclined to spread. I’ve explained to the mother how, by
pinching it every day, she can get it into quite a respectable shape.
You see, the baby’s a girl, and much will depend upon its nose. If
mine were Roman instead of _retroussé_, I would probably have been a
bluestocking and respected by Mr. Ormsby. Not that I care, though!

  Lovingly,
            JANE.

P. S.--I wish you’d leave an order at a bookstand to have all his books
sent down. Have them sent c. o. d. to Uncle Jacob.


CHAPTER VII.

There were three things in the culinary line that the sum of Jane’s
accomplishments included--nut salad, rarebit and tea. After her first
visit to the bungalow she had taken upon herself the task of brewing
the cup that cheers, an arrangement that suited Ormsby perfectly,
for she looked very pretty fussing with the tea things, and he
was not above taking what he called an “academic interest” in her
attractiveness.

“If one can only do a few things, naturally, all one’s vanity is
centered in them,” she was observing to him now, by way of explaining
her fondness for tea making. “I fancy I regard my talent as a mother
regards her only child. If she has a number of children, she’s
uncertain, of course, whether Ann’s blue eyes are the most beautiful
in the world or Jimmie’s brown ones, and she can’t decide whether to
thrust Susie upon the attention of visitors, that they may admire her
golden curls, or whether to give raven-locked Lucy the center of the
stage. With one child or one accomplishment it’s different; you simply
_have_ to concentrate your admiration on that. You won’t take two
lumps?”

Ormsby shook his head firmly, and Jane handed him his tea. “It’s just
tea with one lump; it’s nectar with two,” she observed, regretfully.
“Speaking of children,” she continued, as she poured herself out a cup,
“have you seen the new Larson baby?”

“I’m sorry to say I have not,” said Ormsby, gravely.

“It’s a dear,” observed Jane, enthusiastically. “I think it will be the
beauty of the Larson family.”

“If the Larson family occupy that cottage near the grove, and if all
the children who play about there are Larson children, I fancy the
baby wouldn’t require much in the way of looks to be the beauty of the
Larson family,” he commented, dryly.

“What a nasty remark!” exclaimed Jane, indignantly. “They all have
their good points when you come to study them. And you can’t imagine
how amusing they are. I’ve been helping them along a bit lately, and
between their extravagant gratitude and the Willoughbys’ indignation at
the size of the bills, I’ve been having no end of a good time.” Jane
leaned back and smiled. Ormsby frowned. A good time! That apparently
was the aim and end of her existence. Aloud he said:

“Are you never serious, Mrs. De Mille?”

“Not very often; what’s the use?” responded Jane, promptly.

“I should imagine that a woman who has had the”--he hesitated for an
instant--“the sad experience you have had would show the effect of
it.” Ormsby was really ashamed of this remark, but Jane’s flippancy
frequently goaded him on to say things he regretted. But she did not
look offended.

“Sad experience?” she repeated, puzzled. “Oh, you mean the Willoughbys?”

Her employer smiled in spite of himself. He quickly regained his air of
grave composure, however. “No, I don’t mean the Willoughbys; I mean the
death of your husband,” he said, rebukingly.

“Oh, that!” exclaimed Jane, smiling sweetly. “Why, you see, that’s
really the reason why I’m so gay now. When De Mille was alive, I was
always so solemn. He had no sense of humor--it really takes two to see
a joke, you know--and consequently I was depressed most of the time.
Since his passing away”--Jane thought this sounded well--“I laugh most
of the time--the reaction, I suppose.”

Ormsby handed his cup for some more tea. “No sugar this time,” he said,
coldly. Jane looked at him wistfully.

“I suppose I’m a disappointment to you--as a heroine, I mean,” she
remarked, almost humbly. “Perhaps”--regarding him tentatively--“if you
had known I was not serious you would not have engaged me.”

Ormsby shrugged his shoulders. “You answer my purpose very well,”
he answered, indifferently, blissfully unaware that Jane’s fingers
were itching just then to box his ears. “But you know,” he went on,
determinedly, “woman should take some things seriously.”

“I do,” responded Jane. “I take you seriously.”

Ormsby ignored her and continued: “Life is not a huge joke, you know.
It----”

“You remind me of my first husband,” interrupted Jane, frowning. “He
talked like that.”

“First?” he queried. Jane blushed. Then she said, defiantly: “Is it so
improbable that I shall marry again?”

“Oh, that reminds me,” he said, with that air of impersonal interest
which, in the beginning, had secretly infuriated Mrs. De Mille, and
which now unaccountably depressed her. “Will you allow me to ask you a
question?”

“Certainly,” she answered; “ask me anything you like.”

“I want to know,” he said, with great deliberation, “whether you have
ever been in love?”

Jane stared at him with wide-open eyes. “Don’t think,” he continued,
hastily, “that I have any desire to pry into your personal affairs, but
for the sake of my book----”

“Oh, the book, by all means,” she answered, rather hardly. “No, I’ve
never been in love. However”--flippantly--“I trust I will fall in love
some day. It will be a new experience, at least. You see, ever since I
was a very little girl I have been jobbed out----”

“Jobbed out!” exclaimed the puzzled Ormsby.

“Passed around from one Willoughby to the other,” explained Jane,
impatiently. “My father was the improvident one of the Willoughby
connection, and he married an equally improvident but awfully pretty
girl, my mother. They died within a short time of each other”--Jane
caught her breath, but continued without a trace of feeling in her
voice--“when I was just two years old. The Willoughbys married me to De
Mille when I was nineteen. There you have the story of my career in a
nutshell.” She rose abruptly. “I must be going,” she said, picking up
her hat.

“Just a minute,” interposed Ormsby, almost pleadingly, motioning her to
resume her seat. Jane sat down again and looked at him expectantly. His
manner seemed to have changed suddenly. His cold gray eyes had taken
on a softer, a more human, expression, and they fastened themselves on
hers with such an intent gaze that, though she tried to meet it boldly,
she found her own glance wavering, and the hot color surged up in her
face.

“Supposing, Mrs. De Mille,” he began, apparently unmindful of her
confusion, “that a chap different from the sort you’d been accustomed
to, one with less polish and with his own way--perhaps a most
uncertain one--to make, should come to you and tell you that he loved
you--no, wait!” Jane’s lips had parted, as though she were about to
speak. “And supposing you felt,” he continued, “that in spite of the
man’s uncouthness he was capable of making you love him, if only
you consented to give him a chance, do you think----” He paused and
studied her for a second with even a more intent gaze, but her eyes
were downcast, and her trembling fingers were rapidly tying and untying
knots in her lace handkerchief.

“Look at me, please,” he said, authoritatively. Reluctantly, Mrs. De
Mille raised her eyes. Her soul shone in them.

“Do you think that if that man told you that your life with him might
be a hard one, that the _wanderlust_ was in his bones, and that when it
took possession of him he had to fare forth, come what might, you would
have the courage to put your hand in his--_don’t stir_.”

She had turned down, but had not extinguished, the alcohol flame, and
an impulsive gesture had brought the lace which hung from the sleeve
of her gown in contact with it. Before she had the remotest inkling of
what had happened, Ormsby was at her side, smothering the flame with
his hands. It was all over in an instant. His quickness had saved her
from even the slightest burn, and also from a realization of her danger
until that danger was past. She leaned back in her chair feeling rather
faint, while Ormsby walked over to a small cabinet, took from it a
bottle and rubbed some of its contents on his hands, afterward knotting
his handkerchief carelessly around the right one.

“You are burnt!” exclaimed Jane, jumping up as though to go to his
assistance.

“A mere trifle,” he answered, indifferently. “It doesn’t even sting.”

She looked at him tremulously. “Your presence of mind saved my life,”
she said, in a voice that was not quite steady.

“Oh, that’s nothing,” he replied, rather awkwardly.

“Perhaps not,” said Jane, smiling at him with a suggestion of her old
flippancy, “but it’s a great deal to me, you know. It’s the only one I
have. Cats can afford to be indifferent in the face of peril until they
have exhausted eight of their lives, at any rate, but the rest of us,
having only one poor little life, naturally treasure it.”

Ormsby frowned. Wouldn’t she be serious in the face of death, even?
Then he remembered the interrupted conversation.

“The alcohol spoiled the pretty little situation I had arranged for my
book,” he said, smiling.

“Your book!” echoed Jane, staring at him.

“Yes, you know the question I was about to ask you. Your answer was
rather important to me, but you can give it some other time. I advise
you now to go straight home and lie down. There must have been some
nervous shock.”

“You’re mistaken,” said Jane, who was in truth looking very pale. “I
never felt less nervous in my life, and we mustn’t let the book suffer.
Now, if you’ll repeat the question--I’m afraid”--penitently--“I wasn’t
paying much attention to what you were saying.”

“Oh, well, I fancy you caught the idea of the sort of man I sketched.
Would you give up everything for his sake, if you loved him?”

Jane rose and deliberately pinned on her hat, leisurely consulting a
tiny chatelaine mirror after she had done so. Then she looked at Ormsby
maliciously.

“Give up! Thank you, no! You see, all my life I’ve been giving up
things I couldn’t wrest from the Willoughbys or De Mille.

“Not any more in mine, if you please. I should say to that misguided
and frightfully sentimental young man: ‘Mend your ways, become rich and
famous, and then come back and Jane will consider you.’” She picked up
her gloves and walked toward the door of the bungalow.

“_Au revoir_,” she said; “so good of you to have saved my life.”

“At least,” observed Ormsby, sarcastically, as he hastened to open it
for her, “nobody can accuse you of being inconsistent.”

“Billie Scott would shriek if he heard you say so,” observed Jane, as
she calmly nodded good-by.


CHAPTER VIII.

Billie Scott had come down for the week end, and he and Jane were
motoring.

“What’s up, Jane?” he remarked, suddenly, breaking a lengthy pause in
the conversation. “You don’t seem like your usual self.”

“Whom do I seem like?” she inquired, flippantly. Then she went on,
indignantly: “Whenever I keep still for a minute or two, or in some
other way act like a rational being, everyone is sure there is
something up.”

“I merely thought,” observed Mr. Scott, pacifically, “that there might
be something worrying you.”

“Nothing worries me except the careless manner in which you drive this
car,” answered Jane, sharply for her. “Please put me down at Mrs.
Larson’s, Billie.”

“Shall I wait for you?” he asked, as he steered the machine in the
direction of the cottage.

“No, indeed”--determinedly--“and, by the way, I think you had better go
back to town----”

“But I came down to stay over Sunday,” he cried, in an injured voice.

“I know,” said Jane, “but the Willoughbys like a quiet Sunday, and so
do I.”

Mr. Scott whistled.

“Terribly considerate of the Willoughbys’ feelings,” he commented,
sarcastically. “I suppose I may stop at the house for my bag?”

The car had pulled up in front of the Larson cottage, and Jane jumped
lightly out. She was instantly surrounded by a troop of dirty, noisy
children, but she turned from them and smiled sweetly up at the sulky
Mr. Scott. “Dear old Billie,” she said, sweetly; “don’t mind me. It’s
true I’m not quite myself these days. I think the Willoughbys must be
getting on my nerves. Go home and I’ll write you.”

“Oh, Jane, if you would only let me----”

But Mrs. De Mille ruthlessly interrupted him.

“Don’t be sentimental, Billie,” she said, quickly; “and please remember
that I’ll not be proposed to every time we meet. Ta! ta!” She gave him
her hand, withdrew it quickly and hastened into the Larson cottage.

“Damn!” said Mr. Scott, under his breath. Then he got out, bribed with
a shower of coin the Larson brood to keep out of his path, and drove
drearily away.

Mrs. Larson was an angular, sallow-faced, stoop-shouldered woman, who
had seen so much of the dark side of life that she had reached the
stage where she couldn’t be persuaded there was any other.

“He’s laid off again, miss,” she announced, darkly, to Jane, who
found her scrubbing in the disordered kitchen. Mrs. Larson never used
anything but the personal pronoun to designate her spouse, so Jane knew
instantly whom she meant.

“Why, what’s the matter now?” she asked, in dismay. “I thought he was
going to like his new work. Was he discharged?”

“No, miss, he was not!” In spite of her dejection, Mrs. Larson’s voice
revealed a note of pride. “But it was inside work, and he ain’t used
to inside work, and he says as how he don’t suppose at his age he ever
will get used to it.”

“But surely he could endure it for a little while, until something
else turned up!” exclaimed Jane, who was finding the Larsons a heavy
responsibility. “What in the world will you do now?” A discussion of
the problem of existence, however, was beyond the ability of Mrs.
Larson, so she scrubbed for a while in apathetic silence, while Jane
thought hard and anxiously.

“He’d like to be a shover,” finally volunteered her hostess.

“A shover!” exclaimed Mrs. De Mille, who was absolutely sure that
the leisurely Larson’s view of life was incompatible with any form
of employment that called for shoving. His wife nodded her head. “He
always was a master hand for going swift, and he thought if he could
get a place like Mr. Johnson’s----”

“Oh!” said Jane, suddenly comprehending, “I see. Does he know anything
about machinery or about driving a car?”

Mrs. Larson shook her head despondently. “Nothin’, miss. It’s just his
fondness for goin’ swift that made him think of it.”

“It’s just like him to wish to ‘go swift’ at somebody else’s expense,”
thought Jane, scornfully, but she felt a delicacy about expressing her
opinion of Larson to his wife, so another sorrowful pause ensued. It
was broken by a lusty yell from the new Larson baby in the next room.

“Let me go to her,” said Jane, rising quickly, and Mrs. Larson
indifferently acquiesced. Babies were no novelty to her and she could
not understand her guest’s enthusiasm. Mrs. De Mille returned to the
kitchen with the baby in her arms and seated herself near the open
window. The youngest scion of the house of Larson was dressed in an
expensive but dirty robe, and Jane looked at its mother reproachfully.

“You should not let her wear her christening robe every day, Mrs.
Larson,” she protested.

“I know, miss,” answered Mrs. Larson, apologetically, “but she don’t
appear to sleep comfortable in nothin’ else.” Jane sighed, but,
she reasoned humbly, it was not for her to preach economy to the
improvident Larsons. The fact of the matter is that Mrs. De Mille was
feeling in an exceedingly chastened mood these days, and even Aunt
Susan found little cause for complaint. To-day as she sat “clucking”
softly to the Larson baby, which crowed happily in response, she felt
that even her bedraggled and weary-looking hostess had obtained from
life something more worth while than it had vouchsafed her, and a wave
of self-pity swept over her.

“Goo-goo!” shrieked the baby, in an ecstasy of delight, and, flinging
up a dimpled fist, it clutched determinedly at the lace at Jane’s
throat. The magnetic touch of the tiny fingers proved Mrs. De Mille’s
undoing, and, to the astonishment and disgust of the youngest Larson,
she burst into tears.

“Land sakes!” exclaimed Mrs. Larson, dropping her scrubbing brush
and hastening to the side of her guest. “Did it jab you in the eye?”
She made an effort to take her offspring from Jane, but the latter
resisted.

“It--it isn’t the baby’s fault,” she sobbed, feeling that she was
acting in a very ridiculous way, but unable to control herself. “I was
just wishing I had a baby of my own.”

“Oh!” said Mrs. Larson, understandingly, and then her red and ugly
arms, which her sleeveless waist revealed, were slipped about Jane,
and the two women mingled their tears exactly as though no gulf of
opportunity and education yawned between them.

Larson had been pointed out to John Ormsby as the only man in Rosemount
who was not above doing an errand, provided he was well paid for it,
and Ormsby had started out in search of him. He took a short cut to the
Larson cabin, approaching that humble domicile by way of the rear, and
while he was still within half a block of the premises he recognized
the graceful curve of Mrs. De Mille’s back through the open window.
With no consciousness of eavesdropping, he strained his ears to catch
her words as he came nearer, for invariably he found her gay stream of
nonsense stimulating. But the look of anticipation changed to one of
profound surprise as the dwindling distance between him and the cottage
made him spectator of the little scene enacted in the Larsons’ untidy
kitchen.

“By Jove!” he murmured, in his bewilderment. The disgusted and
temporarily neglected Larson infant, who was hanging over Jane’s
shoulder while that lady and its mother wept, caught a glimpse of the
man outside, and, perhaps, recognized in his look of astonishment a
reflex of its own feelings.

“Ah, goo,” it called out, tearfully, waving one hand feebly but
sympathetically.

“By Jove!” muttered Mr. Ormsby again, and then turned suddenly, and
made his way with surprising but quiet dispatch down the path up which
he had come. The Larson baby, choosing to regard his retreat in the
light of a desertion, raised a lusty howl, which instantly brought Jane
and his mother to their senses.

Ormsby meanwhile had repaired to the bungalow. From the drawer of the
table which he used for a desk he took a bundle of closely written
sheets and began to thumb them over, pausing here and there to read a
passage. The more he read, the more dissatisfied he looked, and finally
he rolled the papers up again and thrust them contemptuously on the
table. Then he took out his pipe, filled it and lighted it, and puffed
away in silence for a while. Presently he removed it and looked once
more at the manuscript lying on the table.

“By Jove!” he ejaculated once more, and then replaced his pipe and went
on smoking.

Half an hour later Mrs. Moore, the venerable dame with whom he boarded,
found him still sitting before the table, staring thoughtfully at
the manuscript, his pipe out. She gave him a telegram and watched
him inquisitively while he read it. “I have to run up to New York
to-morrow,” he said, without looking up. “Have an early breakfast,
please.”

His landlady, who never spoke unless it was absolutely necessary,
nodded solemnly and withdrew, and Ormsby took out some paper and
began to write a note. When he had finished he read it over and then
deliberately tore it up. Five other notes which he wrote shared the
same fate. Finally he indited a brief one and addressed it to Mrs. De
Mille. It informed her tersely that he had been called to town and
would not return for three days. Sealing it, he went to the door of the
bungalow, and, after whistling vigorously for five minutes, succeeded
in attracting the attention of a tow-headed youngster, who was walking
leisurely up the dust road.

“Take this up to Willoughby Hall at once,” ordered Ormsby, sternly,
slipping a coin into the grimy paw.

“Yep,” answered the boy, cheerfully, and obediently trotted off in
the direction of the architectural monstrosity on the hill, Ormsby
relentlessly following him with his eyes until he was out of sight.
Alas! A grove of firs intervened between the bungalow and the house on
the hill, and it was in this grove that the tow-headed urchin dropped
responsibility, thrust the note and coin in his pocket and “skinned”
a tree for a nest. The coin was spent that very night, but it was not
until a week later that, looking for a grasshopper he had carefully
stowed away in his pocket, the recreant one came across Ormsby’s note.
The discovery was timely, for he was in need just then of a bit of
paper to polish his agate bottle, a new treasure.


CHAPTER IX.

It was raining; not spasmodically, with a suggestion of lifting skies
between frenzied outbursts, but steadily, drearily, insistently. Jane,
sitting up in bed, drew the down coverlet cozily about her bare neck
and half-clad arms, while she despondently looked out through the
window at the dripping landscape.

“Rain is bad enough in the city,” she mused, “but it’s simply
impossible in the country. There, at least, you can get away from it,
but here it seems to be all over.” There was a tap on the door.

“Come,” she called, and a maid entered with an appetizing breakfast on
a tray. “Good-morning, Blanche,” said Jane. “Tell me what you do on a
rainy day. You and Johnson won’t be able to walk out this evening.”

“We sits in the kitchen, miss,” said the little maid, primly, blushing
to the roots of her mouse-colored hair. “Cook goes to bed early.”

“Very obliging of cook,” commented Jane, as she sipped her coffee. “And
that reminds me, Blanche, I want to ask you a question, and I want you
to answer me truthfully. Are you trifling with Johnson?”

“Me, miss?” The maid’s face grew redder than ever, but she tossed her
head. “I’m not triflin’. Mr. Johnson keeps a-sayin’ as how he’s very
fond o’ me, but I tells ’im he’s a city chap and says the same to all
th’ gurls.”

“You’re right, Blanche, all the Johnsons are a bad lot,” said Jane,
pessimistically. “However”--for the little maid’s face looked suddenly
downcast--“I believe Johnson is one of the best of them, and that his
intentions are serious.” The maid beamed. “And I would feel sorry to
have you trifle with him, because I feel responsible for him while he’s
down here. Avoid the reputation of being a flirt, Blanche.” Jane looked
pensive. “It’s the hardest in the world to live down.”

“Yes’m,” said the maid, politely. “Is there anythink I can do for you?”
She adored Jane, and spent hours trying to do her hair the way Mrs. De
Mille did hers.

“No, I think not. Have the Willoughbys had breakfast?”

“Hours ago, miss,” answered Blanche. Jane smiled. This breakfast in bed
represented one of her most memorable victories over Aunt Susan, and
imparted a particularly delicious flavor to her coffee and rolls.

“Well, take the tray; I’ll get up in an hour or so,” said Jane,
deliberately composing herself for another nap.

She dreamed of the bungalow and of Ormsby, and, when she finally
dressed, it was with the defeated feeling of one who has striven hard
to put certain thoughts out of her head, but who finds that they have
taken possession even of her dreams.

She saw Uncle Jacob and Aunt Susan for the first time at the luncheon
table. The rain was still falling with what Jane called disgusting
pertinacity.

“Of course you’re not going out a day like this,” said Mrs. Willoughby,
in the disapproving voice she seemed to reserve for Jane and her
husband. By “out” she meant the bungalow. Until Aunt Susan had spoken,
Mrs. De Mille had made up her mind that a visit to the bungalow on such
a day was out of the question, and that Ormsby would not expect her.
Now, however, she found herself saying, perversely: “Out! Of course
I’m going out. A woman who works for a living cannot afford to mind a
little rain. I have an appointment at the bungalow with Mr. Ormsby, and
I have to keep it.”

Aunt Susan sniffed. “The neighbors are commenting----”

Jane held up a reproachful finger. “No gossip, aunt!” she said,
rebukingly. “Don’t you think that living in the country has a
tendency--_just a slight tendency_--to make people too deeply
interested in their neighbors’ affairs?” Jane looked excessively
virtuous. “I’d hate, Aunt Susan, to have you degenerate. But one has to
be _so_ careful!”

Mrs. Willoughby deigned no response, and finished the meal in stony
silence. Uncle Jacob, who found himself unable to carry on a peaceful
conversation with Jane and his wife both present, stealthily perused
the columns of a belated city paper he held on his knee.

Immediately after her luncheon, Jane went to her room and got together
her rainy-day things. When she sallied forth presently, she wore a
coquettish-looking cap, a short, mannish coat and a skirt that was
short enough to reveal not only a pair of the thinnest and most
absurdly small Louis Quinze shoes, but a good bit of thin silk stocking
as well. Jane, as she tripped along, surveyed her feet ruefully. “I
know he’ll say something sarcastic about my shoes,” she mused, “and
they are ridiculous for a day like this, and I’ve no doubt they do
show I haven’t a scrap of common sense--though I know women who never
wear anything but common-sense shoes who haven’t any common sense to
boast of. It’s simply a question of whether you’re athletic or not.
Besides, I can explain to him that I really did try to wear a pair of
Blanche’s, but they slipped off when they were buttoned up, and he’ll
have to admit that it’s much better for me to arrive at the bungalow
in my own shoes, even though they’re more ridiculous, than in my
stocking feet--which would have been the case had I worn Blanche’s.
I’ll tell----” Jane pulled herself up sharp with a sudden, angry flush.
“I don’t know,” she said out loud, sharply, “why you’re always trying
to placate him, Jane De Mille! Where’s your independence gone to?” Then
she fixed her eyes firmly on the distant horizon and her thoughts on a
new summer gown and marched independently on.

To find the bungalow locked was like a blow to her, and when she
faced about to return home she felt suddenly very cold, very wet, very
miserable and very forlorn. Then she recollected that he had told her
once that there was always a key under the mat in case she should come
to the bungalow when he wasn’t there, and, reluctant to return to the
dreariness of the Willoughby house, she searched for this, and, finding
it, thrust it in the keyhole and opened the door. There was no fire in
the fireplace, but there was material for one beside it, and, kneeling
down in front of the cavernous opening, Jane laboriously constructed
one and held out her hands gratefully to the warmth when the flames
darted forth. She surveyed the room over her shoulder and was chilled
afresh by its deserted air. “Can he have gone away without a word?” she
wondered, and paled at the thought.

“It’s no use denying you’re in a very bad way about this Ormsby, Jane
De Mille,” she reflected, pensively surveying the dancing flames.
“You’re rapidly losing all your independence, and, what’s worse, your
self-respect. And you haven’t the remotest reason for believing that he
cares a scrap for you.”

She rose presently, and, moving his chair over to the fireplace, sat
down in it and held out first one and then the other little high-heeled
boot to dry. “If he loved me,” she observed to herself, “I really
wouldn’t mind wearing thick soles and low heels.”

Her shoes dry, she began to move restlessly about the room. Now, it
is a curious fact that Jane had never expressed and never felt any
curiosity about the book Ormsby was writing, though she knew that she
was furnishing the material for the heroine. In spite of herself,
almost unconsciously, indeed, at first, she had become so absorbed
in the writer that the book became of secondary importance. Today,
however, his absence made everything that was intimately associated
with him of interest to her, since they served, in a way, as a
substitute for him. She picked up his pipe and held it caressingly
against her cheek, and then, with a guilty start, set it down again.
She dropped her head on an open book he had evidently been reading,
and her eyes were dewy when she raised it. She came upon, finally, the
bundle of papers he had tossed contemptuously on the table the night
before, and recognized it as the manuscript upon which he had been
working. She regarded it thoughtfully for a while and then her face
brightened.

“Why, how stupid of me!” she exclaimed, aloud, and, going back to his
chair, she seated herself in it once more and smoothed out the sheets.

“He can’t possibly object to my reading it,” she reasoned, “since I’m
in it, and it’s soon to be public property.” She stared at the title.
“‘A Woman,’” she read aloud--“that’s me, I suppose. Why”--with an odd,
breathless little laugh--“it will be exactly like seeing for the first
time a portrait done of yourself by some great painter--one of those
artists who pay more attention to the soul than to the hair or the
mouth or the eyes. I’ll see myself as somebody else sees me. It’s--it’s
going to be terribly exciting.”

Yet, in spite of the curiosity she professed, Jane did not begin at
once to read. Instead, she dropped the manuscript in her lap and
stared for a while into the fire, her chin propped on her hand. Her
thoughts ran on something like this: “You’ve never had such an awfully
good time, Jane De Mille, though you’ve put up what Billie would call
a pretty stiff bluff. You’ve never had anybody to really and truly
care for you, unless it be Uncle Jacob, though plenty of people have
admired you for what good looks you have or because you didn’t bore
them. But if you should _discover_ that somebody loved you for yourself
alone, thought you a little better, perhaps, than you really are, you
know--why, it’s just possible----” A catch in her breath put a stop to
her reflections, and she unrolled the manuscript and began to read.

The fire was dying down, but, tenacious of life as some very old man
who has prolonged his years through will power alone, it shot forth
unexpected flames at infrequent intervals. These lighted up Jane’s
face, and such changes did they reveal with each succeeding appearance
that they might have been the withering years. The patter of the rain
on the roof, the rustle of the sheets as they fell from her hand and
fluttered to the floor, the occasional sputter of the fire--these for
the next two hours were the only sounds heard in the bungalow. When
the last page joined the others that lay scattered about in disorder
on the floor, Mrs. De Mille stared for a few seconds straight ahead of
her, and then, with a quivering sigh, buried her head on the arm of the
chair and began to cry.

       *       *       *       *       *

It lacked half an hour of dinner time, and Jacob Willoughby sat alone
in the stuffy library. The owner of Willoughby Hall was not what could
be called sentimental, but in the twilight hour, and especially when
the weather necessitated an open fire, he was apt, if Susan Willoughby
was in a remote part of the house, to let his thoughts stray back to a
time when she was not, so far as Jacob Willoughby was concerned, and
when a slim young creature, addicted to pink and blue muslins, but with
neither family nor prospects, was the sun of his days, the moon and
stars of his nights. He had been sensible and never regretted it--that
is, hardly ever. To-night, however, the dancing flames that glorified
the dull room reminded him of the grace of his boyhood’s love, and the
dreary splash, splash, of the rain outside, of the gray monotony of the
years that lay behind him and of those other dull and purposeless years
that stretched out before him.

And when presently a pale Jane broke in upon this reverie, Jacob was
forced to brush his hands across his eyes twice to make sure it was
Jane and not the slim young creature to whom he had brought the early
crocuses in the springtime of his youth. Neither knew exactly how it
happened, but Jane found herself sobbing out her story on Uncle Jacob’s
broad bosom, and feeling strangely comforted by the tender pressure of
his pudgy hand upon her shoulder. When she cried out that she could
not stand it to have that hateful book come out, and to listen to the
comments upon it, it was Uncle Jacob who suggested that a trip abroad
might accomplish wonders in the way of making her forget both the man
and the book. Not that he believed it--he lied gallantly there--but he
had his reward in seeing the face he loved brighten somewhat.

And when Jane stole away with a check in her hand, leaving him to
explain to Aunt Susan her absence from dinner and her early departure
in the morning, in spite of the ordeal that lay before him, there was a
warm glow underneath the white vest, a glow which even the approaching
grenadier-like tread of Aunt Susan could not dispel.


CHAPTER X.

It was the last Tuesday in November, and Mrs. Hardenburgh was giving
the first of her usual series of at-homes. An inveterate lion hunter
was this clever woman of sixty-odd summers, whose hair was as thick
and golden as a débutante’s, and whose complexion as pink and white.
This afternoon she was in a particularly complacent mood, for she had
arranged a piquant double attraction for her guests. When, however, by
six o’clock, both attractions had failed to materialize, the faintest
suggestion of a frown appeared on her remarkably smooth brow. Five
minutes later the appearance of a newcomer had dispelled it, and the
hostess was her humorous, smiling self.

The newcomer was Jane--Jane in a gown every line of which spoke Paris,
in a dream of a hat that sat on her proud little head like a coronet;
Jane, in short, in a perfect get-up and in radiant health and spirits.
Personally, we’d prefer to set it down that she looked pale, distrait;
that “concealment, like a worm i’ the bud,” etc.; but it would not
be true. Whatever the suffering within--and there was a rather deep,
intent look about the eyes--Mrs. De Mille presented an unconquered,
nay, a self-satisfied, front to this little New York world, and was
looking her very best.

As she made her way slowly down the long room to where her hostess
stood, it occurred to her that she was causing something of a
sensation. At first she modestly ascribed it to the fact that she had
been away for six months, and that this was her first public appearance
since her return. It dawned upon her presently, however, that the
rooms were filled with strangers, principally, and as the interest
deepened rather than lessened with her slow advance, she was forced to
acknowledge to herself that something beside her lengthened absence
was responsible for the attention she was receiving. The more puzzled
she grew, the more confidently she carried herself, and when a very
young bud in a very high treble agitatedly remarked to a _blasé_ youth:
“She’s not a bit disappointing, is she?” it expressed in words the
verdict of the rooms.

After greeting Mrs. Hardenburgh, the first familiar face Jane
encountered was Mr. Scott’s.

“So you’ve gone and gotten yourself engaged, faithless one?” she
observed, reproachfully, after they had shaken hands.

“Oh, I say, Jane----” he began, in exactly the same tone with which he
was wont, in the past, to preface one of his numerous proposals.

Jane regarded him with mock horror. “Billie, Billie, don’t tell me
you are going to propose!” she exclaimed, disapprovingly. “One rather
expects proposals from the married men nowadays, but from newly engaged
ones, fie! fie!”

Mr. Scott colored high. “You can’t think how the sight of you makes my
heart beat,” he said, agitatedly.

“Nonsense!” retorted Jane, snubbingly. “Point out your girl instantly.”

Pulling himself together with a palpable effort, Mr. Scott indicated a
sparkling brunette, one of a group of débutantes who were watching Jane
with intense interest.

“Why, she’s adorable!” exclaimed Mrs. De Mille. “Present me.” And Mr.
Scott, looking suddenly very proud, offered his arm.

“I’ve read the book,” murmured the little brunette, ecstatically, after
Jane had offered her felicitations. “It must be beautiful to be written
about like that.”

Mrs. De Mille stared and then grew pale. “The book!” she echoed. “I--I
don’t know what you mean!”

“Why, I thought----” began Mr. Scott’s pretty fiancée, looking as
though she regretted her own impulsiveness. But before she had a chance
to explain, a tall and extremely well-dressed young matron bore down
upon Jane and triumphantly carried her off.

“How well you’re looking, Betty,” observed Jane, surveying her friend
rather wistfully, when they were seated in a quiet corner.

“That’s because I’m so happy,” answered that lady, promptly. “Maurice
is such a dear! And now, Jane, tell me, when is the engagement to be
announced?”

Mrs. De Mille opened her eyes very wide. “Engagement!” she cried. “I
don’t know what you’re talking about. Whose engagement?”

“Why, yours and Mr. Ormsby’s,” retorted her friend. “Every line of the
book shows he’s desperately in love with you. Did you refuse him?”

Jane clutched Mrs. McClurg’s hand. “Is that awful book out, and does
everybody think it’s me?” she demanded, in a voice that trembled in
spite of her effort to control it.

Mrs. McClurg looked at her in astonishment. “Awful book!” she
exclaimed. “I don’t know what you’re talking about. Mr. Ormsby’s
novel is the success of the year, and the heroine is an _extremely
flattering_ picture of you. All your friends have recognized it, and
they all agree with me.”

Jane rose. “If my friends think I’m the heartless and idiotic creature
that book pictures, then I have no friends,” she said, coldly.
“Good-by, Betty.” She turned to go, but Mrs. McClurg caught her hand.

“I don’t believe you’ve read the book, Jane de Mille,” she said. “The
heroine is not heartless. She’s a perfectly adorable creature, and
everybody--all the women envy you.”

“I haven’t seen the book,” admitted Jane, “but I read the manuscript,
and my recollection is that the author placed me a good deal lower than
the angels, to state it mildly. I never want to see it.”

“I can’t understand; there must be some mistake!” exclaimed Mrs.
McClurg. “Just wait here a minute.” She glided out from behind the
screen of palms, and, after a brief absence, came back to the nook
with a small, quietly bound little book in her hand. “Read that!” she
commanded, triumphantly, opening it and pointing to the title-page.

Reluctantly Jane raised her eyes and took in the brief contents. “The
Woman, by John Ormsby,” she read, and then, underneath, a single line,
“To her who inspired it,” and underneath that again this fragment of
verse:

  Lean penury within that pen doth dwell
    That to his subject lends not some small glory;
  But he that writes of you, if he can tell
    That you are you, so dignifies his story;
  Let him but copy what in you is writ,
    Not making worse what nature made so clear,
  And such a counterpart shall fame his wit,
    Making his style admired everywhere.

“Betty.” Jane lifted her head and looked at her friend with sudden
inspiration.

“Well,” retorted Mrs. McClurg, not too enthusiastically, for it had
just occurred to her that Mrs. De Mille had concealed a great deal.

“I want to sneak, and I want to take this book with me,” explained the
latter, shamelessly. “I don’t believe I have read it. Can you--will you
cover my retreat?”

Mrs. McClurg looked only half appeased and dubious. “Mr. Ormsby is
coming here this afternoon,” she said, severely. “I happen to know that
Mrs. Hardenburgh has been rejoicing at the thought that you were to
meet here in her drawing room.”

“Neat little arrangement,” observed Jane, ironically. Then she became
suddenly frightened. “I must go at once,” she said. “Oh, Betty, don’t
you see that I can’t see him here? Help me, there’s a good girl, and
come to me to-morrow--I have the same apartment, you know--and I’ll
tell you _everything_.”

And Mrs. McClurg, who was by no means hard-hearted, relented. When the
big doors finally closed upon Jane, she gave a sigh of relief, but it
ended with a gasp, for she found herself face to face with John Ormsby,
who, immaculately attired, was ascending the brownstone steps.

“How d’ye do?” said Mrs. De Mille, airily, extending her hand and
hoping fervently at the same time that the book which she had tucked
away underneath her arm was invisible.

He took her hand, but did not respond to her salutation, only gazed
hungrily into her face.

“Where in the world have you been hiding yourself?” he demanded,
finally, when Jane, with an effort, had removed her hand.

“Sounds as though I were a criminal,” commented Jane. “Did you miss any
spoons at the bungalow?”

He did not answer, only continued to stare at her, and so she went on,
nervously: “I’ve been in Paris chiefly. Some people don’t like Paris in
the summer time, but I adore it. But you’re Mrs. Hardenburgh’s lion. I
mustn’t detain you. _Au revoir!_” She started down the steps, but he
followed her determinedly. “If you think I’m going to lose sight of you
after my long search, you’re mistaken,” he said, quietly.

“Mrs. Hardenburgh will be furious, and you will be very impolite, if
you don’t go in at once,” said Jane, tucking the little book further
out of sight.

“I loathe those things,” he answered, disrespectfully. “I only
consented to come because I was told you might be there. But if
Paradise was just inside, and----”

“Hades,” interrupted Jane, demurely.

“And you were outside, nothing would induce me to go in.”

“The inference is so odious I refuse to be flattered,” she said, “but
you never were good at making pretty speeches. If you’re coming with
me”--briskly--“you’ll have to walk. I’m economizing. Uncle Jacob is
giving me an allowance, and I’m living on it.”

“But you’re rich, or almost rich, in your own right,” said Mr.
Ormsby, as they walked along. “The book promises to be preposterously
successful, and half the royalties are yours, you know.”

Jane grew suddenly frigid. “I beg that you will not refer to that
wretched affair,” she said, haughtily. “I have not read your book, and
I am not interested in it.”

Mr. Ormsby’s face became very downcast. “I was in hopes that you had
read it, and that it would explain----”

“There is really nothing to explain,” interrupted Jane. “I acted on a
reckless impulse, and was bored for my pains. I have no wish to read
your book, though”--civilly--“I’m glad for your sake it promises to be
a success.”

Mrs. De Mille’s fall followed fast on the heels of her little
exhibition of pride. A boy hurrying by with a bundle jostled her arm,
and the book she had been endeavoring to conceal fell to the pavement.
In stooping to recover it, Mr. Ormsby recognized it, but he returned it
to her without comment, and Jane perversely chose to feel affronted at
his silence.

“I met a friend at Mrs. Hardenburgh’s who was quite enthusiastic about
the book, and to please her I consented to take it home to read,” she
exclaimed, coldly.

“I would not bother myself about it, if I were you; it’s a poor thing,”
he returned, just as coldly. They walked for a square in silence, a
silence that, strange to relate, was not broken first by Jane but by
her companion.

“I have an explanation to make, and, in spite of the risk I run of
further offending you, I must make it,” he said, distantly. “When I
wrote that first absurd sketch I did not understand you. I thought that
you were as frivolous and as heartless as you appeared on the surface.”

“Indeed!” commented Jane, tilting her chin scornfully.

“And then something happened----” he paused.

“What was it?” she asked, eagerly, and bit her lip in vexation at
herself for displaying curiosity.

“I’m not going to tell you that,” he responded, coolly, “but it helped
me to an understanding of you. And then I was called to New York, and I
found when I got back that you had been at the bungalow--you left your
handkerchief there, you know--and that you had read the sketch, for
the papers were scattered about the floor, and I realized that----” he
hesitated.

“You realized what?” said Jane, defiantly.

“That I loved you,” he concluded, quietly.

The acknowledgment was so unexpected that it disconcerted Mrs. De
Mille, and she had nothing to say.

“I suppose _that_ bores you, too?” he said, half ironically.

“This is where I live,” was her only response. They had reached the
entrance to a smart uptown apartment house, and Jane paused. Her tone
was not exactly a dismissal one, and, as she faced him, Ormsby stared
at her anxiously.

“Is there--can there be any hope for me----” he began.

“While there’s life there’s hope, you know,” retorted Jane,
frivolously. “But I was just about to suggest that if you’re quite
certain you don’t want to go back to Mrs. Hardenburgh’s, I’ll give you
a cup of tea.”

Her tone was noncommittal, but as she led the way to the elevator, she
looked back at him over her shoulder and laughed softly, and a great
joy transfigured John Ormsby’s face.



[Illustration]

TO A ROADSIDE CEDAR


  ’Tis not for thee in ancient walks to throw
    Thy pointed shadows o’er the sculptured stone,
    Where marble fixes some immortal moan
  Of art; nor, gathering gloom where waters flow
  Past groves Lethean, crypts of human woe,
    To lift thy cheering spires. Thy lot is strown
    In newer, happier climes and lands unknown
  To classic realms of storied pomps and show.

  For thou, dear gnomon of the passing hour,
    Green sentinel of sunny lanes and fields,
      Whose sturdy watch defies harsh winter’s knell,
      Art guardian of the humblest homes, where dwell
    The simple folk, the yeomanry that wields
  In peopled might all that men crave of power!

            HARVEY MAITLAND WATTS.



_The_ DELUGE

A STORY _OF_ MODERN FINANCE

_By_

DAVID GRAHAM PHILLIPS

[Illustration]


XXIII.

Next day Langdon’s stocks wavered, going up a little, going down a
little, closing at practically the same figures at which they had
opened. Then I sprang my sensation--that Langdon and his particular
clique, though they controlled the Textile Trust, did not own so much
as one-fiftieth of its voting stock. True “captains of industry”
that they were, they made their profits not out of dividends, but
out of side schemes which absorbed about two-thirds of the earnings
of the Trust, and out of gambling in its bonds and stocks. I said in
conclusion:

    The largest owner of the stock is Walter G. Edmunds, of Chicago--an
    honest man. Send your voting proxies to him, and he can take the
    Textile Company away from those now plundering it.

As the annual election of the Trust was only six weeks away, Langdon
and his clique were in a panic. They rushed into the market and bought
frantically, the public bidding against them. Langdon himself went to
Chicago to reason with Edmunds--that is, to try to find out at what
figure he could be bought. And so on, day after day, I faithfully
reporting to the public the main occurrences behind the scenes. The
Langdon attempt to regain control by purchases of stock failed. He and
his allies made what must have been to them appalling sacrifices. But
even at the high prices they offered, comparatively little of the stock
appeared.

“I’ve caught them,” said I to Joe--the first time, and the last,
during that campaign that I indulged in a boast.

“If Edmunds sticks to you,” replied Joe.

But Edmunds did not. I do not know at what price he sold himself.
Probably it was pitifully small; cupidity usually snatches the instant
the bait tickles its nose. But I do know that my faith in human nature
got its severest shock. “You are down this morning,” said Thornley,
when I looked in on him at his bank. “I don’t think I ever before saw
you show that you were in low spirits.”

“I’ve found out a man with whom I’d have trusted my life,” said I.
“Sometimes I think all men are dishonest. I’ve tried to be an optimist
like you, and have told myself that most men must be honest or
ninety-five per cent. of the business couldn’t be done on credit as it
is.”

Thornley smiled, like an old man at the enthusiasm of a youngster.
“That proves nothing as to honesty,” said he. “It simply shows that men
can be counted on to do what it is to their plain interest to do. The
truth is--and a fine truth, too--most men wish and try to be honest.
Give ’em a chance to resist their own weaknesses. Don’t trust them.
Trust--that’s the making of false friends and the filling of jails.”

“And palaces,” I added.

“And palaces,” assented he. “Every vast fortune is a monument to the
credulity of men. Instead of getting after these heavy-laden rascals,
Matthew, you’d better have turned your attention to the public that has
made rascals of them by leaving its property unguarded.”

Fortunately, Edmunds had held out, or, rather, Langdon had delayed
approaching him, long enough for me to gain my main point. The uproar
over the Textile Trust had become so great that the national Department
of Commerce dared not refuse an investigation; and I straightway began
to spread out in my daily letters the facts of the Trust’s enormous
earnings and of the shameful sources of those earnings. Thanks to
Langdon’s political pull, the President appointed as investigator one
of those rascals who carefully build themselves good reputations to
enable them to charge higher prices for dirty work. But with my facts
before the people, whitewash was impossible.

I was expecting emissaries from Langdon, for I knew he must now be
actually in straits. Even the Universal Life didn’t dare lend him
money, and was trying to call in the millions it had loaned him. But
I was astounded when my private door opened and Mrs. Langdon ushered
herself in.

“Don’t blame your boy, Mr. Blacklock,” cried she, gayly, exasperatingly
confident that I was as delighted with her as she was with herself. “I
told him you were expecting me and didn’t give him a chance to stop me.”

I assumed she had come to give me wholly undeserved thanks for
revenging her upon her recreant husband. I tried to look civil and
courteous, but I felt that my face was darkening--her very presence
forced forward things I had been keeping in the far background of my
mind. “How can I be of service to you, madam?” said I.

“I bring you good news,” she replied--and I noted that she no longer
looked haggard and wretched, that her beauty was once more smiling
with a certain girlishness, like a young widow’s when she finds her
consolation. “Mowbray and I have made it up,” she explained.

I simply listened, probably looking as grim as I felt.

“I knew you would be interested,” she went on. “Indeed, it means almost
as much to you as to me. It brings peace to _two_ families.”

Still I did not relax.

“And so,” she continued, a little uneasy, “I came to you immediately.”

I continued to listen as if I were waiting for her to finish and depart.

“If you want, I’ll go to Anita.” Natural feminine tact would have saved
her from this rawness; but, convinced that she was a “great lady” by
the flattery of servants and shopkeepers and sensational newspapers and
social climbers, she had long since discarded tact as worthy only of
the lowly and of the aspiring before they “arrive.”

“You are too kind,” said I. “Mrs. Blacklock and I feel competent to
take care of our own affairs.”

“Please, Mr. Blacklock,” she said, realizing that she had blundered,
“don’t take my directness the wrong way. Life is too short for pose and
pretense about the few things that really matter. Why shouldn’t we be
frank with each other?”

“I trust you will excuse me,” said I, moving toward the door--I had not
seated myself when she did. “I think I have made it clear that we have
nothing to discuss.”

“You have the reputation of being generous and too big for hatred.
That is why I have come to you,” said she, her expression confirming
my suspicion of the real and only reason for her visit. “Mowbray and
I are completely reconciled--_completely_, you understand. And I want
you to be generous, and not keep on with this attack. I am involved
even more than he. He has used up his fortune in defending mine. Now
you are simply trying to ruin me--not him, but _me_. The President is a
friend of Mowbray’s, and he’ll call off this horrid investigation, and
everything’ll be all right, if you’ll only stop.”

“Who sent you here?” I asked.

“I came of my own accord,” she protested. Then, realizing from the
sound of her voice that she could not have convinced me with a tone so
unconvincing, she hedged with: “It was my own suggestion, really it
was.”

“And your husband permitted _you_ to come to _me_?”

She flushed.

“And you have accepted his overtures when you knew he made them only
because he needed your money?”

She hung her head. “I love him,” she said, simply. Then she looked
straight at me, and I somehow liked her expression. “A woman has no
false pride when love is at stake,” she said. “We leave that to you
men.”

“Love!” I retorted, rather satirically, I imagine. “How much had your
own imperiled fortune to do with your being so forgiving?”

“Something,” she admitted. “You must remember I have children. I must
think of their future. I don’t want them to be poor. I want them to
have the station they were born to.” She went to one of the windows
overlooking the street. “Look here!” she said.

I stood beside her. The window was not far above the street level. Just
below us was a handsome victoria, coachman, harness, horses, all most
proper, a footman rigid at the step. A crowd had gathered round--in
those stirring days when I was the chief subject of conversation
wherever men were interested in money--and where are they not?--there
was almost always a crowd before my offices. In the carriage sat
two children, a boy and a girl, hardly more than babies. They were
gorgeously overdressed, after the vulgar fashion of aristocrats and
apers of aristocracy. They sat stiffly, like little scions of royalty,
with that expression of complacent superiority which one so often sees
on the faces of the little children of the very rich--and some not so
little, too. The thronging loungers were gaping in true New York “lower
class” awe; the children were literally swelling with delighted vanity.
If they had been pampered pet dogs, one would have laughed. As they
were human beings, it filled me with sadness and pity.

“For their sake, Mr. Blacklock,” she pleaded, her mother love wholly
hiding from her the features of the spectacle that most impressed me.

“Your husband has deceived you about your fortune, Mrs. Langdon,” I
said, gently. “You can tell him what I am about to say, or not, as
you please. But my advice is that you keep it to yourself. Even if
the present situation develops, as seems probable, develops as Mr.
Langdon fears, you will not be left without a fortune--a very large
fortune, most people would think. But Mr. Langdon will have little or
nothing--indeed, I think he is practically dependent on you now.”

“What I have is his,” she said.

“That is generous,” replied I, “but is it prudent? You wish to keep
him--securely. Don’t tempt him by a generosity he would only abuse.”

She thought it over. “The idea of holding a man in that way is
repellent to me,” said she, obviously posing for my benefit.

“If the man happens to be one that can be held in no other way,” said
I, moving significantly toward the door, “one must overcome one’s
repugnance--or be despoiled and abandoned.”

“Thank you,” she said, giving me her hand. “Thank you--more than I
can say.” She had forgotten entirely that she came to plead for her
husband. “And I hope that you will soon be as happy as I am.”

I bowed, and when there was the closed door between us, I laughed, not
at all pleasantly. “This New York!” I said aloud. “This New York that
dabbles its slime of sordidness and snobbishness on every flower in the
garden of human nature.” I took from my inside pocket the picture of
Anita I always carried. “Are _you_ like that?” I demanded of it. And it
seemed to answer: “Yes, I am.” Did I tear the picture up? No. I kissed
it as if it were the magnetic reality. “I don’t care what you are,” I
cried. “I want you! I want you!”

“Fool!” you are saying. Precisely what I called myself. And you? Is it
the one you _ought_ to love that you give your heart to? Is it the one
that understands you and sympathizes with you? Or is it the one whose
presence gives you visions of paradise and whose absence blots out the
light?

I loved her. Yet I would have torn out my life before I would have
taken her on any terms that did not make her wholly mine.


XXIV.

Now that Updegraff is dead, I am free to tell of our relations.

My acquaintance with him was more casual than with any other of “The
Seven.” From the outset of my career I made it a rule never to deal
with understrappers, always to get in touch with the man who had the
final say. Thus, as the years went by, I grew into intimacy with
the great men of finance where many with better natural facilities
for knowing them remained in an outer circle. But with Updegraff,
interested only in enterprises west of the Mississippi and keeping
Denver as his legal residence and exploiting himself as a Western man
who hated Wall Street, I had a mere bowing acquaintance. This was not
important, however, as each knew the other well by reputation. Our
common intimacies made us intimates for all practical purposes.

Our connection was established soon after the development of my
campaign against the Textile Trust had shown that I was after a big
bag of the biggest game. We happened to have the same secret broker;
and I suppose it was in his crafty brain that the idea of bringing us
together was born. Be that as it may, he by gradual stages intimated to
me that Updegraff would convey me secrets of “The Seven” in exchange
for a guarantee that I would not attack his interests. I do not know
what his motive in this treachery was--probably a desire to curb the
power of his associates in industrial despotism. Each of “The Seven”
hated and feared and suspected the other six with far more than the
ordinary and proverbial rich man’s jealous dislike of other rich men.
There was not one of them that did not bear the ever-smarting scars of
vicious wounds, front and back, received from his fellows; there was
not one that did not cherish the hope of overthrowing the rule of Seven
and establishing the rule of One. At any rate, I accepted Updegraff’s
proposition; thenceforth, though he stopped speaking to me when we
happened to meet, as did all the other big bandits and most of their
parasites and procurers, he kept me informed of every act “The Seven”
resolved upon.

Thus I knew all about their “gentlemen’s agreement” to support the
stock market, and that they had made Tavistock their agent for
resisting any and all attempts to lower prices, and had given him
practically unlimited funds to draw upon as he needed. I had Tavistock
sounded on every side, but found no weak spot. There was no rascality
he would not perpetrate for whoever employed him; but to his employer
he was as loyal as a woman to a bad man. And for a time it looked as
if “The Seven” had checkmated me. Those outsiders who had invested
heavily in the great enterprises through which “The Seven” ruled were
disposing of their holdings--cautiously, through fear of breaking the
market. Money would pile up in the banks--money paid out by “The Seven”
for their bonds and stocks, of which the people had become deeply
suspicious. Then these deposits would be withdrawn--and I knew they
were going into real estate investments, because news of a boom in real
estate and in building was coming in from everywhere. But prices on the
Stock Exchange continued to advance.

“They are too strong for you,” said Joe. “They will hold the market up
until the public loses faith in you. Then they will sell out at boom
prices, as the people rush in to buy.”

I might have wavered had I not been seeing Tavistock every day. He
continued to wear his devil-may-care air; but I observed that he was
aging swiftly--and I knew what that meant. Fighting all day to prevent
breaks in the crucial stocks; planning most of the night how to prevent
breaks the next day; watching the reserve resources of “The Seven” melt
away. Those reserves were vast; also, “The Seven” controlled the United
States Treasury, and were using its resources as their own; they were
buying securities that would be almost worthless if they lost, but if
they won, would be rebought by the public at the old swindling prices,
when “confidence” was restored. But there was I, cannonading away from
an impregnable position; as fast as they repaired breaches in their
walls, my big guns of publicity tore new breaches. No wonder Tavistock
had thinner hair and wrinkles and the drawn look about the eyes, nose
and mouth.

With the battle thus raging doubtfully all along the line, on the
one side “The Seven” and their armies of money and mercenaries and
impressed slaves, on the other side the public, I in command, you
will say that my yearning for distraction must have been gratified.
If the road from his cell were long enough, the condemned man would
be fretting less about the gallows than about the tight shoe that was
making him limp and wince at every step. Besides, in human affairs it
is the personal, always the personal. I soon got used to the crowds, to
the big headlines in the newspapers, to the routine of cannonade and
reply. But the old thorn, pressing persistently--I could not get used
to that. In the midst of the adulation, of the blares upon the trumpets
of fame that saluted my waking and were wafted to me as I fell asleep
at night--in the midst of all the turmoil, I was often in a great and
brooding silence, longing for her, now with the imperious energy of
passion, and now with the sad ache of love. What was she doing? What
was she thinking? Now that Langdon had again played her false for the
old price, with what eyes was she looking into the future?

Alva, settled in a West Side apartment not far from the ancestral white
elephant, telephoned, asking me to come. I went, because she could and
would give me news of Anita. But as I entered her little drawing room,
I said: “It was curiosity that brought me. I wished to see how you were
installed.”

“Isn’t it nice and small?” cried she. “Billy and I haven’t the
slightest difficulty in finding each other--as people so often have
in the big houses.” And it was Billy this and Billy that, and what
Billy said and thought and felt--and before they were married, she had
called him William, and had declared “Billy” to be the most offensive
combination of letters that ever fell from human lips.

“I needn’t ask if _you_ are happy,” said I, presently, with a dismal
failure at looking cheerful. “I can’t stay but a moment,” I added, and
if I had obeyed my feelings, I’d have risen up and taken myself and my
pain away from surroundings as hateful to me as a summer sunrise in a
death chamber.

“Oh!” she exclaimed, in some confusion. “Then excuse me.” And she
hastened from the room.

I thought she had gone to order, or perhaps to bring, the tea. The long
minutes dragged away until ten had passed. Hearing a rustling in the
hall, I rose, intending to take leave the instant she appeared. The
rustling stopped just outside. I waited a few seconds, cried, “Well,
I’m off. Next time I want to be alone, I’ll know where to come,” and
advanced to the door. It was not Alva hesitating there; it was Anita.

“I beg your pardon,” said I, coldly.

If there had been room to pass I should have gone. What devil
possessed me? Certainly in all our relations I had found her direct
and frank; if anything, too frank. Doubtless it was the influence of
my associations downtown, where for so many months I had been dealing
with the “short-card” crowd of high finance, who would not play the
game straight even where that was the easy way to win. My long, steady
stretch in that stealthy and sinuous company had put me in the state of
mind in which it is impossible to credit any human being with a motive
that is decent or an action that is not a dead-fall. Thus the obvious
change in her made no impression on me. Her haughtiness, her coldness,
were gone, and with them had gone all that had been least like her
natural self, most like the repellent conventional pattern to which her
mother and her associates had molded her. But I was saying to myself:
“A trap! Langdon has gone back to his wife. She turns to me.” And I
loved her and hated her. “Never,” thought I, “has she shown so poor an
opinion of me as now.”

“My uncle told me day before yesterday that it was not he, but you,”
she said, lifting her eyes to mine. It is inconceivable to me now that
I could have misread their honest story; yet I did.

“I had no idea your uncle’s notion of honor was also eccentric,” said
I, with a satirical smile that made the blood rush to her face.

“That is unjust to him,” she replied, earnestly. “He says he made you
no promise of secrecy. And he confessed to me only because he wished to
convince me that he had good reason for his high opinion of you.”

“Really!” said I, ironically. “And no doubt he found you open wide to
conviction--_now_.” This a subtlety to let her know that I understood
why she was seeking me.

“No,” she answered, lowering her eyes. “I knew--better than he.”

For an instant this, spoken in a voice I had long given up hope of
ever hearing from her, staggered my cynical conviction. Then I said,
mockingly: “Doubtless your opinion of me has been improving steadily
ever since you heard that Mrs. Langdon has recovered her husband.”

She winced as if I had struck her. “Oh!” she murmured. If she had been
the ordinary woman, who in every crisis with man instinctively resorts
to weakness’ strongest weakness, tears, I might have a very different
story to tell. But she fought back the tears in which her eyes were
swimming and gathered herself together. “That is brutal,” she said,
with not a touch of haughtiness, but not humbly, either. “But I deserve
it.”

“There was a time,” I went on, swept in a swift current of cold
rage--“there was a time when I would have taken you on almost any
terms. A man never makes a complete fool of himself about a woman but
once in his life, they say. I have done my time--and it is over.”

She sighed wearily. “Langdon came to see me soon after I left your
house and went to my uncle,” she said. “I will tell you what happened.”

“I do not wish to hear,” replied I. “I have been waiting impatiently
ever since you left for news of your plans.”

She grew white, and my heart smote me. She came into the room and
seated herself. “Won’t you stop, please, for a moment longer?” she
said. “I hope that, at least, we can part without bitterness. I
understand now that everything is over between us. A woman’s vanity
makes her belief that a man cares for her die hard. I am convinced
now--I assure you I am. I shall trouble you no more about the past. But
I have the right to ask you to hear me when I say that Langdon came,
and that I myself sent him away; sent him back to his wife.”

“Touching self-sacrifice,” said I, ironically.

“No,” she replied. “I cannot claim any credit. I sent him away only
because you and Alva had taught me how to judge him better. I do not
despise him as do you; I know too well what has made him what he is.
But I had to send him away.”

My comment was an incredulous look and shrug. “I must be going,” I said.

“You do not believe me?” she asked.

“In my place, would you believe?” replied I. “You say I have taught
you. Well, you have taught me, too--for instance, that your years and
years on your knees in the musty temple of conventionality before false
gods have made you--fit only for the Langdon sort of thing. You have
forgotten how to stand erect, and your eyes cannot bear the light.”

“I am sorry,” she said, slowly, hesitatingly, “that your faith in me
has died just when I might, perhaps, have justified it. Ours has been a
pitiful series of misunderstandings.”

“A trap! A trap!” I was warning myself. “You’ve been a fool long
enough, Blacklock.” And aloud I said: “Well, Anita, the series is ended
now. There’s no longer any occasion for our lying or posing to each
other. Any arrangements your uncle’s lawyers suggest will be made.”

I was bowing, to leave without shaking hands with her. But she would
not have it so. “Let us be friends, at least,” she said, stretching
out her long, slender arm and offering me her hand.

What a devil possessed me that day! With every atom of me longing for
her, I yet was able to take her hand and say, with a smile that was, I
doubt not, as mocking as my tone: “By all means, let us be friends. And
I trust you will not think me discourteous if I say that I shall feel
safer in our friendship when we are both on neutral ground.”

As I was turning away, her look, my own heart, made me turn again. I
caught her by the shoulders. I gazed into her eyes. “If I could only
trust you, could only believe you!” I cried.

“You cared for me when I wasn’t worth it,” she said. “Now that I am
more like what you once imagined me, you do not care.”

Up between us rose Langdon’s face--cynical, mocking, contemptuous.
“Your heart is _his_! You told me so! Don’t _lie_ to me!” I exclaimed.
And before she could reply I was gone.

Out from under the spell of her presence, back among the tricksters
and assassins, the traps and ambushes of Wall Street, I believed
again; believed firmly the promptings of the devil that possessed me.
“She would have given you a brief fool’s paradise,” said that devil.
“Then what a hideous awakening!” And I cursed the day when New York’s
insidious snobbishness had tempted my vanity into starting me on that
degrading chase after “respectability.”

“If she does not move to free herself soon,” said I, to myself, “I will
put my own lawyer to work. My right eye offends me. I will pluck it
out.”


XXV.

“The Seven” made their fatal move on treacherous Updegraff’s
treacherous advice, I suspect. But they would not have adopted his
suggestion had it not been so exactly congenial to their own temper
of arrogance and tyranny and contempt for the people who meekly, year
after year, presented themselves for the shearing with fatuous bleats
of enthusiasm.

“The Seven,” of course, controlled, directly or indirectly, all but a
few of the newspapers with which I had advertising contracts. They also
controlled the main sources through which the press was supplied with
news--and often and well they had used this control, and surprisingly
cautious had they been not so to abuse it that the editors and the
public would become suspicious. When my war was at its height, when
I was beginning to congratulate myself that the huge magazines of
“The Seven” were empty almost to the point at which they must sue for
peace on my own terms, all in four days forty-three of my sixty-seven
newspapers--and they the most important--notified me that they would no
longer carry out their contracts to publish my daily letter. They gave
as their reason, not the real one, fear of “The Seven,” but fear that I
would involve them in ruinous libel suits. I who had _legal_ proof for
every statement I made; I who was always careful to understate! Next,
one press association after another ceased to send out my letter as
news, though they had been doing so regularly for months. The public
had grown tired of the “sensation,” they said.

I countered with a telegram to one or more newspapers in every city and
large town in the United States:

    “The Seven” are trying to cut the wires between the truth and the
    public. If you wish my daily letter, telegraph me direct and I will
    send it at my expense.

The response should have warned “The Seven.” But it did not. Under
their orders the telegraph companies refused to transmit the
letter. I got an injunction. It was obeyed in typical, corrupt
corporation fashion--they sent my matter, but so garbled that it was
unintelligible. I appealed to the courts. In vain.

To me it was clear as sun in cloudless noonday sky that there could be
but one result of this insolent and despotic denial of my rights and
the rights of the people, this public confession of the truth of my
charges. I waited for the cataclysm.

Thursday--Friday--Saturday. Apparently all was tranquil; apparently
the people accepted the Wall Street theory that I was an “exploded
sensation.” “The Seven” began to preen themselves; the strain upon
them to maintain prices, if no less than for three months past, was
not notably greater; the crisis would pass, I and my exposures would
be forgotten, the routine of reaping the harvests and leaving only the
gleanings for the sowers would soon be placidly resumed.

Sunday. Roebuck, taken ill as he was passing the basket in the church
of which he was the shining light, died at midnight--a beautiful,
peaceful death, they say, with his daughter reading the Bible aloud,
and his lips moving in prayer. Some hold that, had he lived, the
tranquillity would have continued; but this is the view of those who
can not realize that the tide of affairs is no more controlled by
the “great men” than is the river led down to the sea by its surface
flotsam, by which we measure the speed and direction of its current.
Under that terrific tension, which to the shallow seemed a calm,
something had to give way. If the dam had not yielded where Roebuck
stood guard, it must have yielded somewhere else, or might have gone
all in one grand crash.

Monday. You know the story of the artist and his statue of Grief--how
he molded the features a hundred times, always failing, always getting
an anti-climax, until at last, in despair, he gave up the impossible
and finished the statue with a veil over the face. I have tried again
and again to assemble words that would give some not too inadequate
impression of that tremendous week in which, with a succession of
explosions, each like the crack of doom, the financial structure that
housed eighty millions of people burst, collapsed, was engulfed. I
cannot. I must leave it to your memory or your imagination.

For years the financial leaders, crazed by the excess of power
which the people had in ignorance and over-confidence and slovenly
good-nature permitted them to acquire, had been tearing out the honest
foundations on which alone so vast a structure can hope to rest solid
and secure. They had been substituting rotten beams painted to look
like stone and iron. The crash had to come; the sooner the better--when
a thing is wrong, each day’s delay compounds the cost of righting it.
So, with all the horrors of Wild Week in mind, all its physical and
mental suffering, all the ruin and rioting and bloodshed, I still can
insist that I am justly proud of my share in bringing it about. The
blame and the shame are wholly upon those who made Wild Week necessary
and inevitable.

In catastrophes the cry is, “Each for himself!” But in a cataclysm
the obvious wise selfishness is generosity, and the cry is, “Stand
together, for, singly, we perish.” This was a cataclysm. No one could
save himself, except the few who, taking my often urged advice and
following my example, had entered the ark of ready money. Farmer and
artisan and professional man and laborer owed merchant; merchant owed
banker; banker owed depositor. No one could pay because no one could
get what was due him or could realize upon his property. The endless
chain of credit that binds together the whole of modern society had
snapped in a thousand places. It must be repaired, instantly and
securely. But how--and by whom?

I issued a clear statement of the situation; I showed in minute detail
how the people, standing together under the leadership of the honest
men of property, could easily force the big bandits to consent to an
honest, just, rock-founded, iron-built reconstruction. My statement
appeared in all the morning papers throughout the land. Turn back to
it; read it. You will say that I was right. Well----

Toward two o’clock Inspector Crawford came into my private office,
escorted by Joe. I saw in Joe’s seamed, green-gray face that some new
danger had arisen. “You’ve got to get out of this,” said he. “The mob
in front of our place fills the three streets. It’s made up of crowds
turned away from the suspended banks.”

I remembered the sullen faces and the hisses as I entered the office
that morning earlier than usual. My windows were closed to keep out the
street noises; but now that my mind was up from the work in which I had
been absorbed, I could hear the sounds of many voices, even through the
thick plate glass.

“We’ve got two hundred policemen here,” said the inspector. “Five
hundred more are on the way. But--really, Mr. Blacklock, unless we can
get you away, there’ll be serious trouble. Those damn’ newspapers.
Every one of them denounced you this morning, and the people are in a
fury against you.”

I went toward the door.

“Hold on, Matt,” cried Joe, springing at me and seizing me. “Where are
you going?”

“To tell them what I think of them,” replied I, sweeping him aside. For
my blood was up, and I was enraged against the poor cowardly fools.

“For God’s sake, don’t show yourself,” he begged. “If you don’t care
for your own life, think of the rest of us. We’ve fixed a route through
buildings and under streets up to Broadway. Your electric is waiting
for you there.”

“It won’t do,” I said. “I’ll face ’em--it’s the only way.”

I went to the window, and was about to throw up one of the sunblinds
for a look at them; Crawford stopped me. “They’ll stone the building
and then storm it,” said he. “You must go at once, by the route we’ve
arranged.”

“Even if you tell them I’m gone, they won’t believe it,” replied I.

“We can look out for that,” said Joe, eager to save me and caring
nothing about consequences to himself. But I had unsettled the
inspector.

“Send for my electric to come down here,” said I. “I’ll go out alone
and get in it and drive away.”

“That’ll never do!” cried Joe.

But the inspector said: “You’re right, Mr. Blacklock. It’s a bare
chance. You may take ’em by surprise. Again, some fellow may yell and
throw a stone, and----” He did not need to finish.

Joe looked wildly at me. “You mustn’t do it, Matt!” he exclaimed.
“You’ll precipitate a riot, Crawford, if you permit this.”

But the inspector was telephoning for my electric. Then he went into
the adjoining room, where he commanded a view of the entrance. Silence
between Joe and me until he returned. “The electric is coming down the
street,” said he.

I rose. “Good,” said I. “I’m ready.”

“Wait until the other police get here,” advised Crawford.

“If the mob is in the temper you describe,” said I, “the less that’s
done to irritate it, the better. I must go out as if I hadn’t a
suspicion of danger.”

The inspector eyed me with an expression that was highly flattering to
my vanity.

“I’ll go with you,” said Joe, starting up from his stupor.

“No,” I replied. “You and the other fellows can take the underground
route, if it’s necessary.”

“It won’t be necessary,” put in the inspector. “As soon as I’m rid of
you and have my additional force, I’ll clear the streets.” He went to
the door. “Wait, Mr. Blacklock, until I’ve had time to get out to my
men.”

Perhaps ten seconds after he disappeared, I, without further words, put
on my hat, lit a cigar, shook Joe’s wet, trembling hand, left in it my
private keys and the memorandum of the combination of my private vault.
Then I sallied forth.

I had always had a ravenous appetite for excitement, and I had been in
many a tight place; but for the first time in my life I had a sense of
equilibrium between my internal energy and the outside situation. As I
stepped from my street door and glanced about me, I had no feeling of
danger. The whole situation seemed so simple. There stood the electric,
just across the narrow stretch of sidewalk; there were the two hundred
police, under Crawford’s orders, scattered everywhere through the
crowd, and good-naturedly jostling and pushing to create distraction.
Without haste, I got into my machine. I calmly met the gaze of those
thousands, quiet as so many barrels of gunpowder before the explosion.
The chauffeur turned the machine.

“Go slow,” I called to him. “You might hurt somebody.”

But he had his orders from the inspector. He suddenly darted ahead
at full speed. The mob scattered in every direction, and we were in
Broadway, bound up town full-tilt, before I or the mob realized what he
was about.

I called to him to slow down. He paid not the slightest attention. I
leaned from the window and looked up at him. It was not my chauffeur;
it was a man who had the unmistakable but indescribable marks of the
plainclothes policeman. “Where are you going?” I shouted.

“You’ll find out when we arrive,” he shouted back, grinning.

I settled myself and waited--what else was there to do? Soon I guessed
we were headed for the pier off which my yacht was anchored. As we
dashed on to it, I saw that it was filled with police, both in uniform
and in plain clothes. I descended. A detective sergeant stepped up
to me. “We are here to help you to your yacht,” he explained. “You
wouldn’t be safe anywhere in New York--no more would the place that
harbored you.”

He had both common sense and force on his side. I got into the launch.
Four detective sergeants accompanied me, and went aboard with me. “Go
ahead,” said one of them to my captain. He looked at me for orders. “We
are in the hands of our guests,” said I. “Let them have their way.”

We steamed down the bay and out to sea.

       *       *       *       *       *

From Maine to Texas the cry rose and swelled: “Blacklock is
responsible! What does it matter whether he lied or told the truth? See
the results of his crusade! He ought to be pilloried! He ought to be
killed! He is the enemy of the human race. He has almost plunged the
whole civilized world into bankruptcy and civil war.” And they turned
eagerly to the very autocrats who had been oppressing and robbing
them. “You have the genius for finance and industry. Save us!”

If you did not know, you could guess how those patriots with the
“genius for finance and industry” responded. When they had done, when
their program was in effect, Langdon, Melville and Updegraff were the
three richest men in the country, and as powerful as Octavius, Anthony
and Lepidus after Philippi. They had saddled upon the reorganized
finance and industry of the nation heavier taxes than ever, and a
vaster and more expensive and more luxurious army of their parasites.
The people had risen for financial and industrial freedom; they had
paid its fearful price; then, in senseless panic and terror, they flung
it away. I have read that one of the inscriptions on Apollo’s temple
at Delphi was, “Man, the fool of the farce.” Truly, the gods must have
created us for their amusement; and when Olympus palls, they ring up
the curtain on some such screaming comedy as was that. It

  “Makes the fancy chuckle, while the heart doth ache.”


XXVI.

My enemies caused it to be widely believed that Wild Week was my
deliberate contrivance for the sole purpose of enriching myself. Thus
they got me a reputation for almost superhuman daring, for Satanic
astuteness at cold-blooded calculation. I do not deserve the admiration
and respect which my success-worshiping fellow-countrymen lay at my
feet. True, I did greatly enrich myself; but _not until the Monday
after Wild Week_.

Not until I had pondered on men and events with the assistance of
the newspapers my detective protectors and jailers permitted to be
brought aboard--not until the last hope of turning Wild Week to the
immediate public advantage had sputtered out like a lost man’s last
match, did I think of benefiting myself, of seizing the opportunity to
strengthen myself for the future. On Monday morning I said to Sergeant
Mulholland: “I want to go ashore and send some telegrams.”

The sergeant is one of the detective bureau’s “dress-suit men.” He is
by nature phlegmatic and cynical. His experience has put over that a
veneer of weary politeness. We had become great friends during our
enforced inseparable companionship. For Joe, who looked on me somewhat
as a mother looks on a brilliant but erratic son, had, as I soon
discovered, elaborated a wonderful program for me. It included a watch
on me day and night, lest, through rage or despondency, I should try
to do violence to myself. A fine character, that Joe! But, to return,
Mulholland answered my request for shore leave with a soothing smile.
“Can’t do it, Mr. Blacklock,” he said. “Our orders are positive. But
when we put in at New London and send ashore for further instructions,
and for the papers, you can send your telegrams.”

“As you please,” said I. And I gave him a cipher telegram to Joe--an
order to invest my store of cash, which meant practically my whole
fortune, in the gilt-edged securities that were to be had for cash at a
small fraction of their actual value.

This on the Monday after Wild Week, please note. I would have helped
the people to deliver themselves from the bondage of the bandits.
They would not have it. I would even have sacrificed my all in
trying to save them in spite of themselves. But what is one sane man
against a stampeded multitude of maniacs? For confirmation of my
disinterestedness, I point to all those weeks and months during which
I waged costly warfare on “The Seven,” who would gladly have given me
more than I now have, could I have been bribed to desist. But when I
was compelled to admit that I had overestimated my fellow-men, that the
people wear the yoke because they have not yet become intelligent and
competent enough to be free, then and not till then did I abandon the
hopeless struggle.

And I did not go over to the bandits; I simply resumed my own
neglected personal affairs and made Wild Week at least a personal
triumph.

There is nothing of the spectacular in my make-up. I have no belief
in the value of martyrs and martyrdom. Causes are not won--and in my
humble opinion never have been won--in the graveyards. Alive and afoot
and armed, and true to my cause, I am the dreaded menace to systematic
and respectable robbery. What possible good could have come of mobs
killing me and the bandits dividing my estate?

But why should I seek to justify myself? I care not a rap for the
opinion of my fellow-men. They sought my life when they should have
been hailing me as a deliverer; now they look up to me because they
falsely believe me guilty of what I regard as an infamy.

My guards expected to be recalled on Tuesday. But Melville heard what
Crawford had done about me, and straightway used his influence to have
me detained until the new grip of the old gang was secure. Saturday
afternoon we put in at Newport for the daily communication with the
shore. When the launch returned, Mulholland brought the papers to me,
lounging aft in a mass of cushions under the awning. “We are going
ashore,” said he. “The order has come.”

I had a sudden sense of loneliness. “I’ll take you down to New York,”
said I. “I must put my guests off where I took them up.”

As we steamed slowly westward I read the papers. The country was
rapidly readjusting itself, was returning to the conditions before the
upheaval. The “financiers”--the same old gang, except for a few of the
weaker brethren ruined and a few strong outsiders who had slipped in
during the confusion--were employing all the old, familiar devices for
deceiving and robbing the people. The upset milking-stool was righted,
and the milker was seated again and busy, the good old cow standing
without so much as shake of horn or switch of tail. “Mulholland,” said
I, “what do you think of this business of living?”

“I’ll tell you, Mr. Blacklock,” said he. “I used to fuss and fret a
good deal about it. But I don’t any more. I’ve got a house up in the
Bronx, and a bit of land round it. And there’s Mrs. Mulholland and
four little Mulhollands and me--that’s my country and my party and my
religion. The rest is off my beat, and I don’t give a damn for it. I
don’t care which fakir gets to be President, or which swindler gets to
be rich. Everything works out somehow, and the best any man can do is
to mind his own business.”

“Mulholland--Mrs. Mulholland--four little Mulhollands,” said I
reflectively. “That’s about as much as one man could attend to
properly. And--you are ‘on the level,’ aren’t you?”

“Some say honesty’s the best policy,” replied he. “Some say it isn’t.
I don’t know, and I don’t care, whether it is or it isn’t. It’s _my_
policy. And we six seem to have got along on it so far.”

I sent my “guests” ashore the next morning. “No, I’ll stay aboard,”
said I to Mulholland, as he stood aside for me to precede him down the
gangway to the launch. I went into the watch pocket of my trousers and
drew out the folded two one-thousand-dollar bills I always carried--it
was a habit formed in my youthful, gambling days. I handed him one of
the bills. He hesitated.

“For the four little Mulhollands,” I urged.

He put it in his pocket. I watched him and his men depart with a heavy
heart. I felt alone, horribly alone, without a tie or an interest. Some
of the morning papers spoke respectfully of me as one of the strong
men who had ridden the flood and had been landed by it on the heights
of wealth and power. Admiration and envy lurked even in sneers at my
“unscrupulous plotting.” Since I had wealth, plenty of wealth, I did
not need character. Of what use was character in such a world except as
a commodity to exchange for wealth?

“Any orders, sir?” interrupted my captain.

I looked round that vast and vivid scene of sea and land activities. I
looked along the city’s titanic sky-line--the mighty fortresses of
trade and commerce piercing the heavens and flinging to the wind their
black banners of defiance. I felt that I was under the walls of hell
itself.

“To get away from this,” replied I to the waiting captain. “Go back
down the Sound--to Dawn Hill.”

Yes, I would go to the peaceful, soothing country, to my dogs and
houses and those faithful servants bound to me by our common love for
the same animals. “Men to cross swords with, to amuse oneself with,”
I mused. “But dogs and horses to live with.” I pictured myself at the
kennels--the joyful uproar the instant instinct warned the dogs of my
coming; how they would leap and bark and tremble in a very ecstasy of
delight as I stood among them; how jealous all the others would be as I
selected one to caress.

“Send her ahead as fast as she’ll go,” I called to the captain.

As the _Albatross_ steamed into the little harbor, I saw Mowbray
Langdon’s _Indolence_ at anchor. I glanced toward Steuben Point--where
his cousins, the Vivians, live--and thought I recognized his launch
at their pier. We saluted the _Indolence_; the _Indolence_ saluted
us. My launch was piped away and took me ashore. I strolled along the
path that wound round the base of the hill toward the kennels. At the
crossing of the path down from the house, I paused and lingered on the
glimpse of one of the corner towers of the great showy palace. I was
muttering something--I listened to myself. It was: “Mulholland, Mrs.
Mulholland and the four little Mulhollands.” And I felt like laughing
aloud, such a joke was it that I should be envying a policeman his
potato patch and his fat wife and his four brats, and that he should be
in a position to pity me.

You may be imagining that, through all, Anita had been dominating my
mind. That is the way it is in the romances; but not in life. No doubt
there are men who brood upon the impossible, and moon and maunder away
their lives over the grave of a dead love; no doubt there are people
who will say that, because I did not shoot Langdon or her or myself,
or fly to a desert, or pose in the crowded places of the world as the
last scene of a tragedy, I therefore cared little about her. I offer
them this suggestion: A man strong enough to give a love worth a
woman’s while is strong enough to live on without her when he finds he
may not live with her.

As I stood there that summer day, looking toward the crest of the
hill, at the mocking mausoleum of my dead dream, I realized what the
incessant battle of the Street had meant to me. “There is peace for
me only in the storm,” said I. “But, thank God, there is peace for me
somewhere.”

Through the foliage I had glimpses of some one coming slowly down the
zigzag path. Presently, at one of the turnings half-way up the hill,
appeared Mowbray Langdon. “What is he doing here?” thought I, scarcely
able to believe my eyes. “Here of all places!” And then I forgot
the strangeness of his being at Dawn Hill in the strangeness of his
expression. For it was apparent, even at the distance which separated
us, that he was suffering from some great and recent blow. He looked
old and haggard; he walked like a man who neither knows nor cares where
he is going.

He had not seen me, and my impulse was to avoid him by continuing on
toward the kennels. I had no especial feeling against him; I had not
lost Anita because she cared for him or he for her, but because she did
not care for me. Simply that to meet would be awkward, disagreeable
for us both. At the slight noise of my movement to go on, he halted,
glanced round eagerly, as if he hoped the sound had been made by some
one he wished to see. His glance fell on me. He stopped short, was for
an instant disconcerted; then his face lighted up with devilish joy.
“You!” he cried. “Just the man!” And he descended more rapidly.

At first I could make nothing of this remark. But as he drew nearer and
nearer, and his ugly mood became more and more apparent, I felt that
he was looking forward to provoking me into giving him a distraction
from whatever was tormenting him. I waited. A few minutes and we were
face to face, I outwardly calm, but my anger slowly lighting up as
he deliberately applied to it the torch of his insolent eyes. He was
wearing his old familiar air of cynical assurance. Evidently, with
his recovered fortune, he had recovered his conviction of his great
superiority to the rest of the human race--the child had climbed back
on the chair that made it tall and had forgotten its tumble. And I was
wondering again that I, so short a time before, had been crude enough
to be fascinated and fooled by those tawdry posings and pretenses. For
the man, as I now saw him, was obviously shallow and vain, a slave to
those poor “man-of-the-world” passions--ostentation, and cynicism,
and skill at vices old as mankind and tedious as a treadmill, the
commonplace routine of the idle and foolish and purposeless. A clever,
handsome fellow, but the more pitiful that he was by nature above the
uses to which he prostituted himself.

He fought hard to keep his eyes steadily on mine; but they would waver
and shift. Not, however, before I had found deep down in them the
beginnings of fear. “You see, you were mistaken,” said I. “You have
nothing to say to me--or I to you.”

He knew I had looked straight to the bottom of his real self, had seen
the coward that is in every man who has been bred to appearances only.
Up rose his vanity, the coward’s substitute for courage. “You think I
am afraid of you?” he sneered, bluffing and blustering like the school
bully.

“I don’t in the least care whether you are or not,” replied I. “What
are you doing here, anyhow?”

It was as if I had thrown off the cover of a furnace. “I came to get
the woman I love,” he cried. “You stole her from me. You tricked me.
But, by God, Blacklock, I’ll never pause until I get her back and
punish you.” He was brave enough now, drunk with the fumes from his
brave words. “All my life,” he raged arrogantly on, “I’ve had whatever
I wanted. I’ve let nothing interfere--nothing and nobody. I’ve been too
forbearing with you--first because I knew she could never care for you,
and then because I rather admired your pluck and impudence. I like to
see fellows kick their way up among us from the common people.”

I put my hand on his shoulder. No doubt the fiend that rose within me,
as from the dead, looked at him from my eyes. He has great physical
strength, but he winced under that weight and grip, and across his face
flitted the terror which must come to any man at first sense of being
in the angry clutch of one stronger than he. I slowly released him--I
had tested and realized my physical superiority; to use it would be
cheap and cowardly. “You can’t provoke me to descend to your level,”
said I, with the easy philosophy of him who clearly has the better of
the argument.

He was shaking from head to foot, not with terror, but with impotent
rage. How much we owe to accident! The mere accident of my physical
superiority had put him at hopeless disadvantage; had made him feel
inferior to me as no victory of mental or moral superiority could
possibly have done. And I myself felt a greater contempt for him
than the discovery of his treachery and his shallowness had together
inspired.

“I shan’t indulge in flapdoodle,” I went on. “I’ll be frank. A year
ago, if any man had faced me with a claim upon a woman who was married
to me, I’d probably have dealt with him as your vanity and what you
call ‘honor’ would force you to try to deal with a similar situation.
But I live to learn, and I’m, fortunately, not afraid to follow a new
light. There is the vanity of so-called honor; there is also the demand
of justice--of fair play. As I have told her, so I now tell you--she
is free to go. But I shall say one thing to you that I did not say to
her. If you do not deal fairly with her, I shall see to it that there
are ten thorns to every rose in that bed of roses on which you lie. You
are contemptible in many ways--perhaps that’s why women like you. But
there must be some good in you, or possibilities of good, or you could
not have won and kept _her_ love.”

He was staring at me with a dazed expression. I rather expected him
to show some of that amused contempt with which men of his sort
always receive a new idea that is beyond the range of their narrow,
conventional minds. For I did not expect him to understand why I was
not only willing, but even eager, to relinquish a woman whom I could
hold only by asserting a property right in her. And I do not think he
did understand me, though his manner changed to a sort of grudging
respect. He was, I believe, about to make some impulsive, generous
speech, when we heard the quick strokes of iron-shod hoofs on the path
from the kennels and the stables--is there any sound more arresting?
Past us at a gallop swept a horse, on his back--Anita. She was not in
riding-habit; the wind fluttered the sleeves of her blouse, blew her
uncovered hair this way and that about her beautiful face. She sped on
toward the landing, though I fancied she had seen us.

Anita at Dawn Hill; Langdon, in a furious temper, descending from the
house toward the landing; Anita presently riding like mad--“to overtake
him,” thought I. And I read confirmation in his triumphant eyes. In
another mood, I suppose my fury would have been beyond my power to
restrain it. Just then--the day grew dark for me, and I wanted to hide
away somewhere. Heartsick, I was ashamed for her, hated myself for
having blundered into surprising her.

She reappeared at the turn round which she had vanished. I now noted
that she was riding without saddle or bridle, with only a halter round
the horse’s neck--then she did see us, had stopped and come back as
soon as she could. She dropped from the horse, looked swiftly at me, at
him, at me again, with intense anxiety. “I saw your yacht in the harbor
only a moment ago,” she said to me. She was almost panting. “I feared
you might meet him. So I came.”

“As you see, he is quite--intact,” said I. “I must ask that you and he
leave the place at once.” And I went rapidly along the path toward the
kennels.

An exclamation from Langdon forced me to turn in spite of myself. He
was half kneeling, was holding her in his arms. At that sight, the
savage in me shook himself free. I dashed toward them with I knew not
what curses bursting from me. Langdon, intent upon her, did not realize
until I sent him reeling backward to the earth and snatched her up.
Her white face, her closed eyes, her limp form made my fury instantly
collapse. In my confusion I thought she was dead. I laid her gently
on the grass and supported her head, so small, so gloriously crowned,
the face so still and sweet and white, like the stainless entrance to
a stainless shrine. How that horrible fear changed my whole way of
looking at her, at him, at her and him, at everything!

Her eyelids were quivering--her eyes were opening--her bosom was rising
and falling slowly as she drew long, uncertain breaths. She shuddered,
sat up, started up. “Go! go!” she cried. “Bring him back! Bring him
back! Bring him----”

There she recognized me. “Oh!” she said, and gave a great sigh of
relief. She leaned against a tree and looked at Langdon. “You are still
here? Then tell him.”

Langdon gazed sullenly at the ground. “I can’t,” he answered. “I don’t
believe it. Besides--he has given you to me. Let us go. Let me take you
to the Vivians’.” He threw out his arms in a wild, passionate gesture;
he was utterly unlike himself. His emotion burst through and shattered
pose and cynicism and hard crust of selfishness like the exploding
powder bursting the shell. “I can’t give you up, Anita!” he exclaimed
desperately. “I can’t! I can’t!”

But her gaze was all this time steadily on me, as if she feared I
would go, should she look away. “I will tell you myself,” she said
rapidly, to me. “We--uncle Howard and I--read in the papers how they
had all turned against you, and he brought me over here. He has been
telegraphing for you. This morning he went to town to search for you.
About an hour ago Langdon came. I refused to see him, as I have ever
since the time I told you about at Alva’s. He persisted, until at last
I had the servant request him to leave the house.”

“But _now_ there’s no longer any reason for your staying, Anita,” he
pleaded. “He has said you are free. Why stay when _you_ would really no
more be here than if you were to go, leaving one of your empty dresses?”

She had not for an instant taken her gaze from me; and so strange were
her eyes, so compelling, that I seemed unable to move or speak. But
now she released me to blaze upon him--and never shall I forget any
detail of her face or voice as she said to him: “That is false, Mowbray
Langdon. I told you the truth when I told you I loved him!”

So violent was her emotion that she had to pause for self-control.
And I? I was overwhelmed, dazed, stunned. When she went on, she was
looking at neither of us. “Yes, I loved him almost from the first--from
the day he came to the box at the races. I was ashamed, poor creature
that my parents had made me! I was ashamed of it. And I tried to hate
him, and thought I did. And when he showed me that he no longer cared,
my pride goaded me into the folly of trying to listen to you. But I
loved him more than ever. And as you and he stand here, I am ashamed
again--ashamed that I was ever so blind and ignorant and prejudiced as
to compare him with”--she looked at Langdon--“with you. Do you believe
me now--now that I humble myself before him in your presence?”

I should have had no heart at all if I had not felt pity for him. His
face was gray, and on it were those signs of age that strong emotion
brings to the surface after forty. “You could have convinced me in no
other way,” he replied, after a silence, and in a voice I should not
have recognized.

Silence again. Presently he raised his head, and with something of his
old cynicism bowed to her. “You have avenged much and many,” said he.
“I have often had a presentiment that my day of wrath would come.” He
lifted his hat, bowed to me without looking at me, and, drawing the
tatters of his pose still further over his wounds, moved away toward
the landing.

I, still in a stupor, watched him until he had disappeared. When I
turned to her, she dropped her eyes. “Uncle Howard will be back this
afternoon,” said she. “If I may, I’ll stay at the house until he comes
to take me.”

A weary, half-suppressed sigh escaped from her. I knew how she must
be reading my silence, but I was still unable to speak. She went to
the horse, browsing near by; she stroked his muzzle. Lingeringly she
twined her fingers in his mane, as if about to spring to his back!
That reminded me of a thousand and one changes in her--little changes,
each a trifle in itself, yet, taken all together, making a complete
transformation.

“Let me help you,” I managed to say. And I bent, and made a step of my
hand.

She touched her fingers to my shoulder, set her narrow, graceful foot
upon my palm. But she did not rise. I glanced up; she was gazing
wistfully down at me. “Women have to learn by experience just as do
men,” said she forlornly. “Yet men will not tolerate it.”

I suppose I must suddenly have looked what I was unable to put into
words--for her eyes grew very wide, and with a cry that was a sigh and
a sob and a laugh and a caress all in one, she slid into my arms and
her face was burning against mine.

“Do you remember the night at the theater,” she murmured, “when your
lips almost touched my neck?--I loved you then--Black Matt!--_Black
Matt!_”

And I found voice; and the horse wandered away.

       *       *       *       *       *

What more?

How Langdon eased his pain and soothed his vanity? Whenever an old
Babylonian nobleman had a misfortune, he used to order all his slaves
to be lashed, that their shrieks and moans might join his in appeasing
the god who was punishing him. Langdon went back to Wall Street, and
for months he made all within his power suffer; in his fury he smashed
fortunes, lowered wages, raised prices, reveled in the blasts of a
storm of impotent curses. But you do not care to hear about that.

As for myself, what could I tell that you do not know or guess? Now
that all men, even the rich, even the parasites of the bandits, groan
under their tyranny and their taxes, is it strange that the resentment
against me has disappeared, that my warnings are remembered, that I am
popular? I might forecast what I purpose to do when the time is ripe.
But I am not given to prophecy. I will only say that I think I shall,
in due season, go into action again--profiting by my experience in the
futility of trying to hasten evolution by revolution. Meanwhile----

As I write, I can look up from the paper, and out upon the lawn, at
a woman--what a woman!--teaching a baby to walk. And, assisting her,
there is a boy, himself not yet an expert at walking. I doubt if you’d
have to glance twice at that boy to know he is my son. Well--I have
borrowed a leaf from Mulholland’s philosophy. I commend it to you.


THE END.

[Illustration]



CONVERSATIONS WITH EGERIA

_Woman’s Trump Card?_

By MRS. WILSON WOODROW

[Illustration]


The senator and Egeria sat in the rich man’s tent--a marble palace by
the sea--and the little nook in the supper room upon which they had
fastened their desire was at last untenanted. Now they slipped into the
recently vacated chairs with a smile of content into each other’s eyes
across the board.

“A moment ago,” said the senator, unfolding his napkin, “we gazed
at those who slowly sipped their coffee and wished that our belief
still held its lost Paradise--Hell--that we might mentally consign
them thither. A moment since we were the people, hungry, clamorous,
watching them ‘spill the bread and spoil the wine.’ In the twinkling
of an eye our attitude changed. We now look with indifferent scorn
upon the waiting mob, and advise them if they have no bread to eat
cake. What a range of experience it gives us! We are one with the labor
agitator elevated to the presidency of a trust. We are the men in the
saddle--after us, the deluge!”

“We are the conquerors, at any rate,” observed Egeria. “Ours is this
delicate _pâté_, this soft, smooth wine. _Vive le_ rich man! May he
entertain oftener! It is unsurpassed.”

“Save by Nature,” returned the senator. “You have failed to notice that
she too entertains to-night. What a fête! The sea dashing the froth of
its ‘night and its might’ against the wall, that arch of honeysuckle,
sweeter than a bank of violets, and yonder pale siren, the moon! Fair
to-night, I drink to you!”

“After all,” mused Egeria, “the high gods bestowed on Nature a woman’s
privilege--the last word. Art may declaim, Science explain, Religion
dogmatize; but Nature has the last word.”

“And the last word, the one word, the eternal word, is ‘beauty,’” he
amended.

Egeria shrugged her shoulders. “A matter of surfaces. The mask nature
wears to hide her hideous processes of decay. As the lovely heroine of
a recent novel says, ‘the beauty that rules the world is lodged in the
epidermis.’”

“A superficial and essentially feminine point of view,” commented the
senator. “Beauty”--with a wave of the hand--“is a matter of the soul.
The skin-deep variety is not worth considering.”

“But most women would pay the price of a pound of radium for that
infinitesimal depth,” she returned, flippantly.

“Your sex is hardly a judge of what constitutes feminine beauty.” There
was condescension in the senator’s tone. “Here, I can prove the point
for you. Grant me your indulgence and I will tell you a little story.”
The senator rather fancied himself as a _raconteur_.

“There was once a woman who was regarded by all the men of her
acquaintance as ugly, stupid and tiresome, and by all the women
who knew her as beautiful, brilliant, fascinating and altogether
delightful. Their different points of view led to so much discussion
and bickering that they finally decided to submit the matter to a
referee, a wise old fellow, who, after a very thorough acquaintance
with the world and its works, had elected to spend the remainder of his
days in seclusion.

“The philosopher kindly consented to decide the matter, and
consequently gave the lady in question due study. Ultimately he
announced his decision.

“‘Both sides are right,’ he said. ‘She is the ugliest, stupidest, most
aggressive creature on earth; but masculine indifference and dislike
have thrown such a halo about her that all women see her as beautiful
and charming.’”

During the recital of this tale, a flush had risen on Egeria’s cheek,
and she tapped her foot with growing impatience upon the floor. Barely
had he finished when she cried, explosively:

“I hate men! Your fable proves nothing but the ineffable conceit of
your sex!”

The senator pursued his advantage. “I saw a similar remark in a book I
was reading the other day”--pleasantly. “‘I hate men,’ said one woman
to another; ‘I wish they were all at the bottom of the sea.’

“‘Then,’ replied the woman to whom she spoke, ‘we would all be
purchasing diving bells.’

“But”--hastily, as Egeria half rose--“you really don’t consider women
judges of what constitutes feminine beauty?”

“The only judges. We are not dazzled, hypnotized, by a mere matter of
exquisite coloring, the fugitive glance of too expressive eyes. We
are able to bring a calm, unbiased scrutiny to bear upon it, to fully
analyze it. _We_ do not confuse beauty with charm.”

“Are the two, then, distinct?” he pondered.

“Are they distinct?” repeated Egeria, scornfully. “Are they distinct?
Some one--a man, of course--has said that if Cleopatra had been without
a front tooth the whole history of the world would have been changed;
and Heine, you remember, when asked about Madame de Staël, remarked
that, had Helen looked so, Troy would not have known a siege. Absurd!
The sirens of this world who have swayed men’s hearts and imaginations
have never been dependent on their front teeth or their back hair. If
Cleopatra had lost a whole row, Antony and every other man who knew her
would have insisted that women in the full possession of their molars
were repulsive.”

“Ah!” cried the senator, triumphantly, “your words justify me. Beauty
is some subtle essence of the soul, as I said.”

A faint, malicious sparkle brightened Egeria’s eyes. “Really, now,
would you call the sirens of this world soulful creatures? They were
and are psychologists, intuitive diviners of a man’s moods, capable of
meeting him on every side of his nature; but----”

“Do you mean,” interrupted the senator, his eyes reflecting the sparkle
of hers, “that their dominion over us is through an intellectual
comprehension of our moods?”

“Good heavens, no!” disclaimed Egeria, in shocked tones. “Who said
anything about the intellectual faculties of woman? I hear enough of
them at my club. What I am trying to get at is that beauty without
charm has always received a very frigid appreciation. Men prate of it,
adore it, yawn, and--leave it. Of the two, they infinitely prefer charm
without beauty. Now, senator, what is it you really admire in women?”

“I will tell you if you tell me first what women really admire in men?”

“Ah!” cried Egeria, with complacency, “there we have the advantage of
you. We show twice the solid, substantial reasons for the faith that
is in us that you do. Woman admires in man masculinity, virility; then
brains, ability, distinction. She may loudly profess her devotion to
‘the carpet knight so trim.’ ‘Such a dear, thoughtful fellow, so sweet
and sympathetic!’ But her secret preference is profoundly for the one
who is ‘in stern fight a warrior grim, in camp a leader sage.’ She has
not altered since the Stone Age, not in the least degree. When she was
dragged by the hair from her accustomed cave to make a happy home in
a new one, do you fancy she gave a thought to the recent companion of
her joys and sorrows who was lying somewhere with his head stove in?
Not she. Her pity was swallowed up in admiration for the victor, who,
lightly ignoring the marks of her teeth and nails, haled her along to
his den. It is to the strong men of this earth that the heart of woman
goes out.

“Printed articles on the home,” she went on, with light derision,
“are always urging husbands to show the same tender attention and
loving courtesies to their wives after marriage as before. In reality,
nothing would so bore a woman. Man is an idealist; woman is intensely
practical. She would infinitely prefer to have him out winning the
bread and butter and jam than sitting at her feet, penning sonnets
to her eyebrow. After an experience of the before-wedded, tender
courtesies, she would exclaim: ‘John, please don’t be such a fool. I am
so sick of this lovey-dovey business, that I would really enjoy a good
beating.’

“You see, she knows instinctively that ‘man’s love is of his life, a
thing apart,’ and that, if he prefers showing her lover-like attentions
to ranging the court, camp, church, the vessel and the mart, she has a
freak on her hands. But how I run on; and you haven’t told me yet what
it is that men admire in women?”

“Beauty,” still insisted the senator, enthusiastically. “Goodness,
truth, constancy, amiability!”

Egeria looked at him with reproach. “Do you really mean it?”--earnestly.

“Of course I do”--surprised at her tone.

“I dare say any man to whom I put the question would answer in the
same way.” Her eyebrows expressed resignation. “Stay, I will phrase it
differently; why do you think you love a particular woman?”

The senator could not resist the opportunity. “Because she is
you!”--gallantly.

“Stop trifling.” Egeria was becoming petulant. “This is a serious
matter. Now, answer properly; why do you think you love a particular
woman?”

“Because”--emphatically--“I imagine her, rightly or wrongly, to be the
possessor of those qualities I have enumerated.”

Egeria sighed. “And you still stick to it?”

“Of course I do,” he responded, with assurance.

She shook her head. “Nonsense! Men are less exacting than you
think--and more. They ask neither beauty nor grace nor unselfishness of
woman; they demand but one thing--you must charm me. For me you must
possess that indefinable quality we call magnetism. Emerson puts it all
in a nutshell, voices the essentially masculine point of view:”

  I hold it of little matter
  Whether your jewel be of pure water--
  A rose diamond, or a white--
  But whether it dazzle me with light.

“But,” combated the senator, “you must admit that Solomon had ample
opportunity to make a study of your sex, and he reserved all his praise
for the good woman, averring that her price was above rubies.”

Egeria’s smile was faintly cynical. “That was in his capacity as
philosopher. As mere man, he gave the rubies and an immortal song to a
Shulamite girl who looked at him with youth in her smile and laughter
in her eyes.”

“A tribute to beauty,” contested the senator.

“Not at all. Because she fascinated him.”

“And the secret of fascination is beauty,” he triumphed.

She refused to admit it. “The secret of fascination lies with the woman
who can convince a man that under no circumstances could she possibly
bore him.”

The senator was still argumentative. “I continue to maintain that
beauty is some subtle essence of the soul.”

“But the last word, the one word, the eternal word,” quoted Egeria,
rising, “is that beauty is----”

“What?” he questioned, eagerly.

“In the eye of the beholder.”



MIS-MATED AMERICANS

_By_ Julien Gordon

(Mrs. Van Rensselaer Cruger)

[Illustration]


Mr. Henry James is inclined to pity American women, because their
men--husbands and lovers--are not up to their level of fastidious
refinement.

We are inclined to ask Mr. James to what American women he alludes.

Living in a center which makes history, among men of monumental
achievement, of vast intellectual resource, and of comprehensive
judgment, I confess that when I first encountered some of these men
they seemed to me so lacking in the charms of the drawing room that I
asked myself: “How can their women stand them?” When, however, I had
made the acquaintance of some of these women, or ladies, the query in
my soul became: “How can they stand their women?”

Mating and reproduction are largely animal processes, requiring
little play of the imagination. If they did, race suicide would never
have been heard of. The heroine of “The Garden of Allah” pins a pale
Christ over her bed on her wedding night. It has been a late fashion
for English and French writers--Verlaine, Mallock, Oscar Wilde, and
even that rare genius Robert Hichens--to intermingle religion and
spirituality with the sexual instinct. The fact remains that nothing
can be more sane or simple, and it only touches fanatical frenzy in
minds which border hysteria and decadence.

We believe that the average American, being absolutely sane, finds his
mate. He is even persuaded, when she has invested in a diamond brooch
and a brocaded front, that she has become a woman of rare elegance,
belonging to that type which energetic newspaper reporters depict as a
“leader.” The illusion is no doubt calming. Social ambition is salient
among politicians and ambassadors, and a good American who expects
Paradise desires his wife and daughters to be “all right.” He is
quickly and conveniently persuaded that they are. The enormous egotism
of the man of success is large enough to cover, with its gilded wing,
family ramifications in its spasms of self-laudation.

It has become a habit to speak of American women as superior to all
others, and in Europe the legend is beginning to hold. But in what
does this superiority consist? Push, aplomb, finery, what? We cannot
concede that it lies in exceptional accomplishments, or in any rare
degree of scholarship. American women are not often accomplished, are
not frequently even linguists; being usually satisfied with one foreign
tongue, and that a very wretched French. We have few amateur musicians;
and women artists of the force of Janet Scudder or Mrs. Leslie Cotton
can be counted on the fingers of one hand. Our literary women are
not ornamental, and are skillfully excluded from drawing rooms. Our
feminine poets are usually dishevelled. If we throw out a dozen women
in each of our large Eastern cities who have had the advantage of
birth, breeding, position and wealth, the rank and file are like the
rank and file of any other nation--a little brighter, perhaps; keener,
more alert, better groomed, but harder--and often less fascinating. Our
women lack the high vitality and repose of the English--weak nerves
make for fidgetiness--the subtle seduction of the Austrian, the soft
sweetness of the Italian. French women are deteriorating, their present
social upheavals being responsible for this change.

Nevertheless, American girls have married well in Europe; principally
for their ducats, sometimes for their beauty, only very occasionally
for love.

The Latins love readily, particularly when they scent income. The
English, more sincere, play their game openly. They demand “dots” at
the altar, and--get them. However, as I have said, social ambition is
a trait of our new life. It is a wholesome trait and has its use. Only
by contact with a high civilization can a new people become civilized.
Intermarriage is the easiest method.

We are told that American women who have married foreigners adore their
exotic existence and could not be persuaded to return. Is it their
husbands whom they adore? Are all their _ménages_ exceptionally happy?
What they do like is the graceful ease of an existence which appeals to
fancy and a career which women over here do not attain. For, in fact,
American women are overshadowed by their men. _La femme politique_ is
almost, if not quite, unknown in America, as is _la femme artiste_ or
_la femme littéraire_. There are no literary women in the United States
who wield any social power whatsoever. In America talent is rather a
social handicap to a girl or woman, and an escape into a wider field is
tolerated only by our extremely conservative society when balanced by
some peculiar prestige of early environment or personal allurement. We
have no drawing rooms here like that of Madeleine Lemaire, in Paris,
or like that of a certain cosmopolitan, Corinne of Venice, now, alas!
closed forever. In the salons of the artist French woman one encounters
English women of rank, the “little duchesses,” the big ambassadresses,
men of note in every calling, diplomats, statesmen, scientists and
writers.

Our great men have usually married, in their youth, their first love,
and, be it said to their credit, have remained, if not always true to
this village ideal, at least outwardly loyal. They are not ashamed of
past virtue. Their wives, thrown suddenly into a world of which they
know nothing, should surely be excused some solecisms. Occupied in the
cares of rearing children, of providing for large families on small
rations, they have hardly had the leisure to cultivate their minds and
manners. We will not allude to grammar and intonation. It would be too
much to ask!

These women do not demand that a man appeal to the imagination. They
have none. The lover is at once sunk into the father. In fact, they
address their husbands as “father” or “papa”--sometimes, indeed, as
“pa” pronounced paw in moments of caressing emphasis. What would these
women do with a handsome, dashing troubadour, who warbled ditties in
feathered cap and doublet? They do not want a tenor about the house,
they want their bills paid. “Pa” sees to that. She is eminently
practical. Her husband talks little to her of his ambitions, schemes
or success, but he signs the check. That check is the epitome of his
brain’s travail. If in his arid life he sometimes longs for a higher
companionship, and is drawn into the net of some cleverer siren,
his wife remains ignorant of the fact. She is entirely trusting--a
convenient quality and one which men superlatively admire.

No, Mr. James, Americans on the whole are well matched. Look beyond
the few dainty women of fashion who have personally petted you--women
accustomed to the homage of men of the world, and who have danced
at the courts of kings. To these we are willing to add a handful of
brilliant young students who obtain degrees from Vassar, Wellesley,
Smith and Bryn Mawr, are an ornament to the Normal and Barnard College,
and distance male competitors at Cornell University.

May one of these be President some day! We quote the wish of a gallant
member of the Cabinet. We hope that they have low voices, speak
admirable English, and feel sure they never smoke cigarettes and never
say “Damn!”

The camp, however, is very wide. The tents are spread, innumerable,
over the hills and valleys of our fair country. Lift their flapping
curtains, Mr. James. Peep in and you will find content--enough.



[Illustration]

AFTERMATH


  If I should go to you in that old place.
    (God knows, dear heart, we trod it smooth and straight!)
  And lifting up to yours a tear-worn face,
    Should whisper, “Darling, it is not too late,
    For life and love can soon unbar the gate,”
  You would say “No,” e’en though your lips were dumb--
  Fear not: I shall not come.

  If you should gather up the poor, pale shreds
    Of what is left and bring them here to me,
  Saying, “Fate tangled. Let us mend the threads
    And weave a web more beautiful to see,”
    All weeping, I would cry, “It may not be.”
  And I would cast it by with hands all numb--
  Nay, Sweet; you will not come.

  We each have learned the lesson rapt apart,
    The better task Fate set us ere the noon.
  The storms of Life have beat across my heart
    And scourged its madden’d throbbing into tune.
    Who would have looked for moth and rust so soon?
  Nay, Patience, Sweet! God will bend down some day
  And lift your hand to wipe my tears away.

            MARGARET HOUSTON.



THE GOLDEN APPLE

BY AGNES and EGERTON CASTLE

[Illustration]


The orchard was on a hill, the farmhouse lay at the foot. There was a
long field, in spring a palace of cowslips, between the orchard and the
house.

This September dawn Pomona came through it and left a dark track of
green along the dew-bepearled grass. Little swaths of mist hung over
the cowslip field, but up in the orchard the air was already clear. It
was sweet with the scent of the ripe fruit, and the tart, clean autumn
pungency left by the light frost.

Pomona shifted the empty basket that she had borne on her head to the
ground, and began to fill it with rosy-cheeked apples. Some she shook
from the laden boughs, some she picked up from the sward where they had
fallen from the tree; but she chose only the best and ripest.

A shaft of sunlight broke over the purple hills. It shone on her
ruddy hair and on her smooth cheek. She straightened herself to look
out across the valley at the eastern sky; all sights of nature were
beautiful to her and gave her a joy that, yet, she had never learned to
put into words, hardly into thoughts. Now, as she stood gazing, some
one came along the road that skirted the orchard, and, catching sight
of her, halted and became lost in contemplation of her, even as she of
the sunrise pageant.

As evidently as Pomona, in her homespun skirt and bodice, belonged to
the farmhouse, so did he to the great castle near by. The gentleman
had made as careful a toilet for his early walk as if he had been
bound for St. James. His riding coat was of delicate hue, and laces
fluttered at his wrists and throat. His black lovelocks hung carefully
combed on either shoulder from under his beplumed hat. A rapier swung
at his side, and, as he stood, he flicked at it with the glove in
his bare hand. He had a long, pale face and long eyes with drooping
lids and haughty eyebrows; a small upturned mustache gave a tilt of
mockery to the grave lips. He looked very young, and yet so sedate and
self-possessed and scornful that he might have known the emptiness of
the world a hundred years.

Pomona turned with a start, feeling herself watched. She gazed for a
moment in surprise, and a deep blush rose in her cheeks; then, still
staring, she made a slow country courtesy. Off went the befeathered
hat; the gentleman returned her salutation by a profound bow. Then he
leaped the little ditch into the orchard and threaded his way through
the trees toward her. She watched him come; her great eyes were like
the eyes of a deer, as shy, as innocent.

“Good-morrow, sir,” said she with another courtesy, and then corrected
herself quickly--“good-morrow, my lord.” For, if he came from the
castle, he was surely a lord.

“Good-morrow, madam,” returned he, pleasantly. His glance appraised her
with open admiration.

What a glorious creature! What proportions; what amber and red on those
smooth cheeks, what ruddy radiance in that sun-illumined hair! What a
column of a throat, and how white the skin where the coarse kerchief
parted above the laced bodice! What lines of bust and hip, of arm and
wrist; generous but perfect! A goddess! He glanced at the strong,
sunburned hands; they were ringless. Unowned, then, as yet, this superb
nymph.

His long eyes moved at their pleasure; and she stood waiting in repose,
though the color came and went richly on her cheek. Then he bowed
again, the hat clasped to his bosom.

“Thank you,” said he, and replaced his beaver with a turn of the wrist
that set all the gray and white plumes rippling round the crown.

“Sir?” she queried, startled, and on her second thought--“my lord?”

At this he broke into a smile. When he smiled, his haughty face gained
a rare sweetness.

“Thank you for rising thus early, and coming into the orchard, and
standing in the sun rays, and being, my maid, so beautiful. I little
thought to find so fair a vision. ’Twill be a sweet one to carry forth
with me--if it be the last on earth.”

Her wits were never quick to work. She went her country way, as a rule,
as straight and sweetly and unthinkingly as the lilies grow.

To question why a noble visitor at the castle--and a visitor it must
be, since his countenance was unfamiliar--should walk forth at the dawn
and speak as if this morning saunter were to death, never entered her
head.

She stammered: “Oh, sir!” to his compliment, and paused, her lip
quivering over the inarticulate sense of her own awkwardness.

“Have you been gathering apples?” quoth he, still smiling on her.

“Ay, sir,” she said; “to make preserve withal;” and faltered yet again,
“my lord.”

“Ay,” approved he. “It has a fair sound in your mouth. Would I were
your lord! What is your name?”

She told him “Pomona.” Whereat he laughed, and repeated it as if he
liked the sound. Then he looked at the east, and behold, the sun had
risen, a full ball of crimson in a swimming sea of rose. The light
glimmered upon his pale cheek, and on the fine laces of his shirt,
redly, as if with stains of new blood.

“I must hence,” he said, and his voice had a stern, far-away sound.
“Farewell, Pomona; wilt thou not wish me well?”

“My lord?”

“Wilt thou not?”

“Oh, indeed, my lord, I do.” And she was moved, on a sudden, she knew
not why, and the tears gathered like a mist in her eyes. “With all my
heart,” she said.

He made her a final bow, bending till his curls fell over his face.

“I thank you.”

She watched him walk away from her in and out the apple trees with his
careless stride, and leap the little ditch again; and so on down the
road.

And when he was lost to her sight, she still stood looking at the point
where the way dipped and vanished and she had seen the last flutter of
the gray feathers.

After a while she drew a long sigh and passed her hands over her eyes,
as if she were awakening from a dream. Then she began mechanically to
fill her basket once more. All the ruddiness faded from the sky. The
sun swam up into the blue, and a white brilliance laid hold of the dewy
valley. Delicate gossamer threads floated high above the apple trees,
against the vault of ever-deeper blue. Somewhere from the hidden folds
of the land a church bell began to chime. Then all at once Pomona
dropped her basket, and while the apples rolled, yellow, green and red,
in all directions, she set off running in the direction the gentleman
had taken.

Why she ran, she knew not, but something drove her with a mighty
urgency. Her heart beat thickly, and her breath came short, though, as
a rule, there was no maid in the countryside that could run as she did.
When she came to the foot of the hill she paused, and there, by the
bramble brake, where the firwood began, she saw, lying on the lip of
the baby stream, a gauntleted gray glove. She turned into the wood.

The pine needles were soft under her feet. The pine stems grew like the
pillars of a church aisle, and the air was sweeter with their fragrance
than any incense that was ever burned.

And after, but a little way, where the forest aisle widened into a
glade, she came on the grand riding coat tossed in a heap; across it
was flung an empty scabbard. And beyond, outstretched at the foot of a
tree---- Pomona stopped short. Now she knew why she had had to run so
fast!

He lay as if asleep, his head pillowed upon a branching root; but
it was no slumber that held him. His features, whiter than ivory,
were strangely sharpened and aged, blue shadows were about nostrils
and mouth, the parted lips under the mocking mustache were set in a
terrible gravity; they were purple, like dead red roses. Between the
long, half-open lids the eyeballs shone silver. It was not now God’s
lovely sunrise that stained the white cambric of his shirt. From where
it had escaped from his relaxed hand a long, keen-bladed sword gleamed
among the pine needles.

Pomona knelt down. She parted the ruffled shirt with a steady hand; his
heart still beat, but below it was a wound that might well cause death.
She sat back on her heels and thought. She could not leave him to call
for help, for he might die alone; neither could she sit useless beside
him and watch him go. She took her resolution quickly. She rose, then
bending, she braced herself and gathered him into her arms as if he had
been a child. He was no taller than she, and slight and lean of build.
She was used to burdens. But she had not thought to find him so heavy.
She staggered and shifted him for an easier grip; and then, as his
pallid head lay loose and languid against her shoulder, the half-open
eyelids fluttered, the upturned eyes rolled and fixed themselves. He
looked at her; dark, dark as eternity was his gaze. She bent her head,
his lips were moving.

“Pomona!”

It was the merest breath, but she knew it was her name. Nearer she bent
to him; a flicker as of a smile came upon those purple-tinted lips.

“Kiss me, Pomona!”

She kissed him, and thought she drew from his cold mouth the last sigh.
But now she was strong. She could have gone to the end of the earth
with this burden in her arms.

His black hair, dank and all uncurled, fell over her bare arm. With the
movement his wound opened afresh, and as she pressed him against her
she felt his blood soak through her bodice to the skin. Then her soul
yearned over him with an indescribable, inarticulate passion of desire;
to help him, to heal him! If she could have given her blood to him she
would have given it with the joy with which a mother gives life to the
babe at her breast.

Pomona was mistress of herself and of her farm, and lived alone with
her servants. Though she was a firm ruler, these latter considered her
soft on certain points. They had known her, before this, carry home a
calf that had staked itself, a mongrel cur half-drowned. But a murdered
gentleman, that was beyond everything!

“Heavens ha’ mercy, mistress,” cried Sue, rising to the occasion, while
the others gaped, and clapped their hands, and whispered together.
“Shall I fetch old Mall to help you lay him out?”

“Fool,” panted Pomona, “bring me the Nantes brandy!”

       *       *       *       *       *

Earl Blantyre woke from a succession of dreams, in which he had had
most varied and curious experiences; known strange horrors and strange
sweetnesses, flown to more aërial heights than any bird, and sunk to
deeper depths than the sea could hold; fought unending combats and lain
in peace in tender arms.

He woke. His eyelids were heavy. His hand had grown so weighty that
it was as much as he could do to lift it. And yet, as he held it up,
he hardly knew it for his own; ’twas a skeleton thing. There was a
sound in his ears which, dimly he recognized, had woven into most of
his dreams these days, a whirring, soothing sound, like the ceaseless
beating of moth’s wings. As he breathed deeply and with delicious ease,
there was fragrance of herbs in his nostrils. A tag of poetry floated
into his mind--

  I know a bank where the wild thyme blows.

He turned his head and went to sleep again and dreamed not at all.

Pomona lighted the lamp, and, shading it with her hand, came, with soft
tread, into the guest chamber. He was still asleep. She set down the
light, mended the fire with another log, peeped into the pan of broth
simmering on the hob, and then sat to her spinning wheel once more.
Suddenly the wool snapped; she started, to find that he was holding
back the curtain with a finger and thumb, and had turned his head on
the pillow to watch her; his eyes gleamed in the firelight. She rose
and came to him quickly.

“So you were spinning,” he said. His voice was very weak, but how
different from those tones of dreadful clearness, of hoarse muttering,
with which she had been so sadly familiar.

Pomona knelt beside him and put her hand on his forehead, on his wrist.

“Thank God!” she said.

“By all means,” he answered, peering at her amusedly. “Natheless, why?”

“Nay, you must not speak,” she bade him, and rose to pour the soup into
a bowl.

He watched her while she stirred and tasted and added salt. He was
smiling. When she lifted him, pillows and all, propped against her
strong arm, and held the bowl to his lips at a compelling angle, he
laughed outright. It was rather a feeble thing in the way of laughs,
but to Pomona it was as wonderful and beautiful an achievement as a
child’s first word in the mother’s ear.

“Drink,” she said, firmly, while her heart throbbed in joy.

“Now you must sleep,” she added, as she settled him with extraordinary
art. But sleep was far away from those curious wandering eyes.

“Bring the light closer and come to the bed again.”

His voice had gained strength from Pomona’s fine broth, and it rang in
command. Without another word she obeyed him. As she sat down on the
little oaken stool, where he could see her, the light fell on her face,
and from behind her the fire shot ruddily in her crown of hair.

“I remember you now,” said he, lifting himself on his elbow. “You
stood in the sunrise gathering apples for preserve; you are the nymph
of the orchard.”

He fell back, with a sigh of satisfaction. “And your name is Pomona,”
said he.

The girl, her capable, work-marked hands lying folded on her knee, sat
in absolute stillness; but her heart was beating stormily under the
folds of her kerchief.

The sick man’s beard had grown close and fine round chin and cheeks
during these long dreams of his. His hair lay in a mass on one
shoulder; it had been carefully tied back with a riband, and in all
that black setting the pallor of his countenance seemed deathlike. Yet
she knew that he was saved. He lay a while, gazing at the beflowered
ceiling of the great four-post bed, and by and by his voice came
sighing.

“And after that, what hap befell me? Help me to remember.”

“I found you in the wood,” said she, slowly. “You were lying wounded.”

He interrupted her with a sharp cry.

“Enough! I mind me now. Was I alone?”

“Quite alone, my lord.”

“And my sword?”

There was a current of evil eagerness running through the feeble voice.

“Your sword, my lord?”

“Pshaw! was it clean, child? Bore it no sign upon the blade?”

“There was blood on it,” said Pomona, gravely, “to a third of the
length.”

The duelist gave a sigh.

“That is well,” said he, and fell once more into silence, striving to
knit present and past in his mind.

After a while he shifted himself on his pillows so that he again looked
on her.

Then his eyes wandered round the dark paneling, on the polished surface
of which the firelight gleamed like rosy flowers. He touched the coarse
sheet, the patchwork quilt, then lifted the sleeve of the homespun
shirt that covered his thin arm, and gazed inquiringly from it to the
quiet woman.

“How do I come here? Where am I?” queried he, imperiously.

“I brought you; you are in my house,” she answered him.

“You brought me?”

“Ay, my lord.”

“You found me wounded,” he puzzled, drawing his haughty brows together,
“and you brought me here to your house? How?”

“I carried you,” said Pomona.

“You carried me!”

The statement was so amazing and Lord Blantyre’s wits were still so
weakened that he turned giddy and was fain to close his eyes and allow
the old vagueness to cradle him again for a few minutes.

Pomona prayed that he might be sleeping, but as she was stealthily
rising from his bedside he opened his eyes and held her with them.

“You carried me, you brought me to your own house? Why?”

“I wanted to nurse you,” said poor Pomona.

She knew no artifice whereby she could answer, yet conceal the truth.
But it was as if her heart were being torn from her bit by bit.

His eyes, hard and curious, softened; so did the imperious voice.

“How did you keep them out?”

“Keep them out?”

She was beautiful, but she was dull.

“My kinsfolk, from the castle.”

Pomona stood like a child caught in grave fault.

“They do not know,” she answered, at last.

It was his turn to ejaculate in amazement. “Not know!”

“I did not want them,” said she, then, doggedly. “I did not want any
fine ladies about, nor physicians with their lancets. When my father
was cut with the scythe, they sent a leech from the castle, who blooded
him, and he died. I did not want you to die.”

She spoke the last words almost in a whisper, then she waited
breathlessly. There came a low sound from the pillows. His laugh that
had been music to her a minute ago now stabbed her to the heart. She
turned, the blood flashing into her cheeks; yet his face grew quickly
grave; he spoke, his voice was kind.

“Stay. I want to understand. You carried me, all by yourself, from the
wood; is it so?”

“Ay.”

“And no one knows where I am, or that you found me?”

“No. I went down to the wood again and brought back your coat and your
sword and scabbard and your gloves. I forbade my people to speak. None
of the great folk know you are here.”

“And you nursed me?”

“Ay.”

“Was I long ill?”

“Fourteen days.”

“I have been near death, have I not?”

“You have, indeed.”

“And you nursed me!” he repeated again. “How did you learn such
science?”

“My lord, I have loved and cared for the dumb things all my life. There
was the calf that was staked----” She stopped; that laugh was torture.

“Go on, Pomona!”

“I bathed your wound in cold water over and over till the bleeding
stopped, and then, when the fever came, I knew what brew of herbs would
help you. One night I thought that you would die----”

“Go on, Pomona!”

“You could not breathe, no matter how high I laid you on the
pillows----”

“Ay! Why dost thou halt again? What didst thou then?”

“I held you in my arms,” she said. “You seemed to get your breath
better that way, and then you slept at last.”

“While you held me?” he proceeded. “How long did you hold me in your
arms, Pomona?”

“My lord,” she said, “the whole night.”

Upon this he kept silence quite a long time, and she sat down on her
stool again and waited. She had nursed him and saved him, and now he
would soon be well; she ought surely to rejoice, but, she knew not why,
her heart was like lead. Presently he called her; he would be lifted,
shifted, his pillows were hot, his bedclothes pressed on him. As she
bent over him, the fretful expression suddenly was smoothed from his
features.

“I remember now,” he said, with a singular gleam in his eyes. “I
remember, Pomona; you kissed me.”

       *       *       *       *       *

My Lord Blantyre began now to have more consecutive recollections of
that time of dreams; and when the night came he felt mightily injured,
mightily affronted, to find that the shadow of the watcher in the
rushlight against the wall belonged to a bent and aged figure, was a
grotesque profile, instead of the mild gray angel that had soothed him
hitherto. So deep seemed the injury, so cruel the neglect, that the
ill-used patient could not find it in him to consent to sleep, but
tossed till his bed grew unbearable, pettishly refused to drink from
Mall’s withered hand, was quite positive that the pain in his side was
very bad again, and that his angry heart beats were due to fever.

It drew toward midnight. Again Mall brought the cooling drink and
offered it patiently. Like an old owl she stood and blinked. Her
toothless jaws worked.

He made an angry gesture of refusal; the cup was dashed from her hand
and fell clattering on the boards. She cried out in dismay, and he in
fury.

“Out of my sight, you Hecate!”

Then suddenly Pomona stood beside them. So soft her tread that neither
had heard her come.

“Lord, be good to us! The poor gentleman’s mad again,” whimpered Mall,
as she went down on her knees to mop.

Pomona was in a white wrapper, well starched; the wide sleeves spread
out like wings. Her hair hung in one loose plait to her knees.

“You look like a monstrous, beautiful great angel,” cried he. Her hand
was on his pulse. He was as pleased and soothed as a naughty infant
when it is lifted from its cradle and nursed.

She stood, and seemed encircled by the fragrance of the sacrificed cup,
lavender and thyme and other sweet and wholesome herbs.

She thought he wandered, yet his pulse was steadying down under her
finger into a very reasonable pace for a convalescent. She looked down
at him with puzzled eyes.

“What is it, my lord?”

“Prithee,” said he, “though you live so quiet here, my maid, and keep
your secrets so well, you would have known, would you not, had there
been a death at the castle?”

“Surely, my lord,” she said, and bent closer to comfort him. “Nay, it
must be that you have the fever again, I fear. Nay, all is well with
your kinsfolk. Mall, haste thee with another cup of the drink. Is the
wound painful, my good lord, and how goes it with the breathing?”

As he bent he caught her great plait in both his hands and held it so
that she could not straighten herself.

“It would go vastly better,” cried he, “I should breathe with infinite
more ease, my sweet nurse, and forget that I had ever had a gaping
hole to burn the side of me, could you but tell me that there had been
even a trifle of sickness at the house beyond. Come, my sword was red,
you know! It was not red for nothing! Was not Master Leech sent for in
haste to draw more blood? The excellent physician, thou mindest, who
helped thy worthy father so pleasantly from this world.”

She would have drawn from him in soft sorrow and shame, for she
understood now, but that his weak fingers plucked her back. Truly there
seemed to be a devil in his eyes. Yet she was too tender of him not to
humor him, as the mother her spoiled child.

“Hast heard, Mall, of aught amiss at the castle?” quoth she, turning
her head to address the old woman at the fire.

“There was a gentleman out hunting with the Lady Julia o’ Thursday,”
answered the crone, “as carried his arm in a sling, I heard tell;
though he rode with the best of them.”

“Faugh!”

Lord Blantyre loosed Pomona’s tress and lay back sullenly. He drank the
cup when she held it to his lips, in the same sullen silence; but when
she shook his pillows and smoothed his sheet and cooed to him in the
dear voice of his dream: “Now, sleep,” he murmured, complainingly: “Not
if you leave me!”

Pomona’s heart gave a great leap, and a rose flush grew on her face,
lovelier than ever sunrise or fireglow had called there.

“I will not leave you, my lord,” she replied. Her voice filled the
whole room with deep harmony.

He woke in the gray dawn, and there sat Pomona, her eyes dreaming,
her hands clasped, her face a little stern in its serene, patient
weariness. He cried to her sharply, because of the sharpness with which
his heart smote him:

“Hast sat thus the whole night long?”

“Surely!” said she.

“Well, to bed with you, then,” he bade her, impatiently. “Nay, I want
nought. Send one of your wenches to my bell, some Sue or Pattie, so it
be a young one. And you--to bed, to bed!”

But she would not leave him till she had tested how it stood with him,
according to her simple skill. As her hand rested on his brow, “Why
Pomona?” queried he.

“My lord?”

“Pomona. ’Tis a marvelous fine name, and marvelous fitting to a nymph
of the orchard. Pomona!”

“Indeed,” she answered him, in her grave way, “Sue or Pattie would
better become me. But my mother was book-learned, sir, and town-bred,
and had her fancies. She sat much in the orchard the spring that I was
born.”

“Ay,” he mused. “So thy mother was book-learned and fanciful!” Then
briskly he asked her: “Wouldst thou not like to know my name, Pomona?
Unless, indeed, you know it already?”

She shook her head.

“Why, what a woman are you! In spite of apples, no daughter of Eve at
all?”

She still shook her head, and, smiling faintly, “To me it could make no
difference,” she said.

“Well, now you shall know,” he said, “and take it to your maiden
dreams. I am Rupert, Earl of Blantyre.”

“What,” she cried, quickly, “the----” she broke off and hesitated. “The
great Earl of Blantyre,” she pursued, then, dropping her eyes: “The
king’s friend!”

His laugh rang out somewhat harsh.

“What, so solitary a nymph, so country hidden, and yet so learned of
the gossip of the great world?”

“People talk,” she murmured, crimsoning as in the deepest shame.

“And you know what they call me? No! Not the Great Earl, hypocrite, the
Wicked Earl! You knew it?”

She bent her head.

He laughed again. “Why, now, what a nightmare for you! Here he lies,
and, oh! Pomona, you have prolonged his infamous career!”

       *       *       *       *       *

The Wicked Earl was an angelic patient for two days. On the third
he was promoted to the oak settle, wrapped in a garment of the late
farmer’s, of which he made much kindly mirth. It was a golden day of
joy in the lonely farmhouse.

On the fourth morning, however, he wakened to a mood of seriousness,
not to say ill-temper. His first words were to request writing paper
and a quill, ink and the great seal that hung on his watch chain.

Pomona stood by while he wrote; helped him with paper and wax. She saw
into how deep a frown his brows were contracted, and her heart seemed
altogether to fail her. She expected the end; it was coming swiftly,
and not as she expected it.

“May I trespass on your kindness so far as to send a horseman with this
letter to the castle?” said he, very formally.

She took it from him with her country courtesy.

“You will be leaving us, my lord?”

He glanced at her through his drooping lids.

“Can I trespass forever on your hospitality?”

She went forth with the letter quickly, without another word.

It was but little after noon when there came a great clatter into the
simple farmyard that was wont to echo to no louder sounds than the
lumbering progress of the teamsters and their wagon, or the patient
steps of Pomona’s dairy cows. A great coach with four horses and
running footmen had drawn up before the farm porch. A man in dark
livery, with a sleek, secret face, slipped down from the rumble,
reached for a valise and disappeared round the house. The coach door
opened, and the Lady Julia Majendie descended, followed by no less a
person than my Lord Majendie himself, who was seldom known to leave his
library, much less to accompany his daughter out driving. His presence
marked a great occasion. And with them was a very fine lady, a stranger
to any of the farm, a little lady with dark hair in ringlets and high
plumes to a great hat, and a dress that shone with as many pale colors
as a pigeon’s breast. She sniffed, and “Oh!” cried she in very high,
loud tones, pressing a vinaigrette to her nose, “can my poor brother be
in such a place, and yet alive?”

“Hush, madam,” said Lord Majendie, somewhat testily, for Pomona stood
in the door. “I am sure we owe nought but gratitude to this young
woman.”

He was a gaunt, snuffy, untidy old man, in a dilapidated wig, but his
eyes were shrewd and kindly behind the large, gold-rimmed spectacles.
He peered at Pomona, pale and beautiful.

Lady Julia had evidently inherited her father’s short sight, for she,
too, was staring through an eyeglass. She carried it on a gold chain,
and when she lifted it to one eye her small fair face took an air of
indescribable impertinence.

She interrupted father and friend, coming to the front with a scarcely
perceptible movement of pointed elbows:

“Bring us instantly to Lord Blantyre.”

“This way an it please you,” said Pomona.

She led them in, and there in the great kitchen, well within the glow
from the deep hearth, propped on patchwork cushions, wrapped in blue
homespun, lay the invalid.

The ladies were picking their steps across the flags with a great
parade of lifting silken skirts; the worthy old scholar, Lord Majendie,
was following, with an expression of benign, childlike interest,
but all three seemed struck by the same amazement, almost amounting
to consternation. Lord Blantyre lifted his pallid, black-bearded
countenance and looked at them with a gaze of uncompromising ill-humor.

“Good Lord, brother!” exclaimed the little lady with the ringlets, at
last. She made a faint lurch against Lady Julia.

“If your sisterly feelings are too much for you, and you are
contemplating a swoon, pray be kind enough to accomplish it elsewhere,
Alethea,” said Lord Blantyre.

“Oh, my excellent young friend! Oh, my dear lord! Tut! tut! tut! I
should hardly have known you,” ejaculated the old man. “You must tell
us how this has come about; we must get you home. Tush! you must not
speak. I see you are yet but weakly. My good young woman, this has been
a terrible business--nay, I have no doubt he does your nursing infinite
credit, but why not have let us know? Tut! tut!”

Before Pomona could speak, and, indeed, as she had no excuse to offer,
the words were slow in coming, her patient intervened, curtly.

“I would not permit her to tell you,” quoth he.

She glanced at him, startled; his eyes were averted.

“Oh, my lord, this is cruel hearing for us,” minced Julia.

She might have spoken to the wall for all the effect her smile and ogle
produced on him. She turned her glass upon Pomona, and ran it up and
down her till the poor girl felt herself so coarse, so common, so ugly,
that she could have wished herself dead.

“Pray, Lord Majendie,” said Blantyre, “is Colonel Craven yet with you?”

Lady Alethea tossed her head, flushed and shot a look, half defiance,
half fear, at her brother.

He propped himself up on his elbow, turned and surveyed her with a
sneering smile.

“How pale and wasted art thou, my fair Alethea! Hast been nursing the
wounded hero, and pining with his pangs? Or is’t, perchance, all fond
fraternal anguish concerning my unworthy self? Oh, see you, I know what
an uproar you made about me all over the countryside, what a hue and
cry for the lost brother.”

“A plague on it, Julia,” said Lord Majendie, scratching his wig
perplexedly and addressing his daughter in a loud whisper, “what ails
the fellow? Does he wander, think you?”

But Lady Alethea seemed to find a meaning in the sick man’s words, for
she tossed her head once more, and answered sharply:

“No, brother, I made no hue and cry for you, for ’tis not the first
time it has been your pleasure to play truant and leave your loving
friends all without news. How was I to know that you were more sorely
hurt than Colonel Craven? He left you, he told us, standing by a tree,
laughing at his pierced arm. You are not wont to come out of these
affairs so ill.”

That they were of the same blood could not be doubted, for it was the
very same sneer that sat on both their mouths.

“And pray, since we must bandy words,” she went on, gaining yet more
boldness, “why did you thus keep me willfully in suspense?”

“Because,” said he, sweetly, “I was too ill for thy nursing, my
Alethea.”

“I presume,” said she, “you had a nurse to your fancy?”

Her black eyes rolled flashing on Pomona. The earl made no reply.

“Let me assure your lordship,” put in his would-be host here, quickly,
“that Colonel Craven is gone.”

”’Tis well, then,” replied Blantyre, ceremoniously, “and I will,
with your permission, this very night avail myself of your offer of
hospitality for a few days, but you will, I fear, have to send a
litter for me. To sit in a coach is yet beyond me.”

And while the good-natured nobleman instantly promised compliance, Lord
Blantyre, waving away further discourse with a gesture, went on wearily:

“Let me beg of you not to remain or keep these ladies in surroundings
so little suited to their gentility. And the sooner, my good lord,
you can dispatch that litter, the sooner shall you have the joy of my
company. Farewell, Julia, for but a brief space. I trust that you and
Colonel Craven enjoyed the chase the other day. We shall meet soon
again, sister; pray you bear up against our present parting.”

Both the ladies swept him such very fine courtesies that the homely
kitchen seemed full of the rustle of silk. Lady Julia Majendie had a
little fixed smile on her lips.

The farm servants were all watching at the windows to see the great
ladies get into their coach, to see it wheel about with the four horses
clattering and curvetting. Pomona and Lord Blantyre were alone. She
stood, her back against the wall, her head held high, not in pride,
for Pomona knew no pride, but with the natural carriage of her perfect
strength and balance. Her eyes looked forth, grieving yet untearful,
her mouth was set into lines of patient endurance. He regarded her
darkly.

“I go this evening, Pomona.”

“Ay, my lord.”

The tall wooden clock ticked off a heavy minute.

“Is my man here?” asked Lord Blantyre. “Bid him come to me, then, to
help me to my room.”

His lordship’s toilet was a lengthy proceeding, for neither his
strength nor his temper was equal to the strain. But it was at length
accomplished, and, perfumed, shaven, clothed once again in fine linen
and silk damask, wrapped in a great furred cloak, Lord Blantyre sat in
the wooden armchair and drank the cordial that Pomona had prepared him.

He was panting with his exertions, his heart was fluttering, but
Pomona’s recipes were cunning; in a little while he felt his pulses
calm down and a glow of power return to him, and with the help of his
cane and his servant he was able to advance toward the door.

“The young woman is outside, waiting to take leave of your lordship,”
volunteered the sleek Craik.

His master halted, and fixed him with an arrogant eye.

“The young woman of the farm,” explained the valet, glibly, “and,
knowing your lordship likes me to see to these details, I have brought
a purse of gold--twenty pieces, my lord.”

He stretched out his hand and chinked the silken bag as he spoke.

“For whom is that?” asked Lord Blantyre.

The man stared.

“For the young woman, my lord.”

Lord Blantyre steadied himself with the hand that gripped the speaker’s
arm; then, lifting the cane with the other, struck the fellow across
the knuckles so sharply that with a howl he let the purse fall.

“Pick it up,” said the Wicked Earl. “Put it into your pocket, and
remember, for the future, that the servant who presumes to know his
master’s business least understands his own.”

The litter was brought to the door of his chamber, and they carried him
out through the kitchen to the porch; and there, where Pomona stood
waiting, he bade them halt and set it down. She leaned toward him to
look on him, she told herself, for the last time. Her heart contracted
to see him so wan and exhausted.

“Good-by, Pomona,” said he, gazing up into her sorrowful eyes,
distended in the evening dimness. He had seen a deer look at him thus,
in the dusk, out of a thicket.

“Good-by, my lord,” said she.

“Ah, Pomona,” said he, “I made a sweeter journey the day I came here!”

And without another word to her he signed to the men, and they buckled
to their task again.

Her heart shuddered as she watched the slow procession pass into the
shadows. They might have been bearing a coffin. With the instinct
of her inarticulate grief, she went to seek the last memory of him
in his room. By the light of a flaring tallow candle, she found Lord
Blantyre’s man repacking his master’s valise. He looked offensively at
her as she entered.

“Young woman,” said he, shaking his head, “you have taken a very great
liberty.”

Then, picking up the coarse white shift and surveying it with an air of
intense disgust, ”’Tis a wonder,” quoth he, “his lordship didn’t die of
this.”

       *       *       *       *       *

“I fear, my fair Julia, that fondly as I should love it, I shall never
call you sister.”

Julia turned at the fleer and flung a glance of acute anger at her
friend.

“If you had not been yourself so determined to have the nursing of
Colonel Craven’s wound, my dearest Alethea,” responded she, sweetly,
“the friendly desire of your heart might be in a better way of
accomplishment. And, oh!”--she fanned herself and tittered--“I pity
you, my poor Alethea, I do, indeed, when I think of those wasted
attentions.”

Lady Alethea had her feelings less under control than her cool-blooded
friend. Her dark cheek empurpled, her full lips trembled.

“My woman tells me,” proceeded Julia, “that the creature Craik, your
brother’s man, hath no doubt of my lord Blantyre’s infatuation.
‘Pomona!’ he will call in his sleep. Pomona! ’Tis the wench’s name. I
wish you joy of your sister-in-law, indeed.”

Lady Alethea wheeled upon her with an eye of fire.

“Need my brother wed the woman because he calls upon her name?” she
mocked.

“If I know my lord your brother, he might well wed her even because
he need not,” smiled the other. “Now you are warned. ’Tis none of my
concern, I thank my Providence! You will be saved a dairymaid at least.”

Alethea’s wavering color, her flurried breath, bore witness to
discomposure.

“My Lord Blantyre,” pursued Lady Julia Majendie, relentlessly, “has
ever taken pleasure in astonishing the world.”

Lady Alethea clinched her hands.

“Your father rules here; let him transport the slut!”

“Nay,” said Julia. She placed her hand upon the heaving shoulder, and
looked at her friend with a singular light in her pale yet brilliant
eyes. “Do you think to break a man of a fancy by such measures? ’Twould
be as good as forging the ring. Nay, my sweet, I can better help thee;
ay, and give thee an hour’s sport besides.”

And, as Alethea raised questioning eyes, Julia Majendie shook her
silver-fair ringlets and laughed again.

“Leave it to me,” quoth she.

       *       *       *       *       *

“Will Mistress Pomona favor the Lady Julia Majendie with her company at
the castle?”

This was the message carried to the farmhouse by a mounted servant. He
had a pillion behind him on the stout palfrey, and his orders were, he
said, to bring Mistress Pomona back with him.

Pomona came running out, with the harvest sunshine on her copper hair;
her cheek was drained of blood.

“Is my lord ill again?” she queried, breathlessly.

The man shook his head; either he was dull or well drilled.

Pomona mounted behind him without a second’s more delay, just as she
was, bareheaded, her apron stained with apple juice, and her sleeves
rolled up above her elbows. She had no thought for herself, and only
spoke to bid the servant hurry.

For a fortnight she had heard no word of her patient. In her simple
heart she could conceive no other reason for being summoned now than
because he needed her nursing.

But when she reached the castle and was passed with mocking ceremony
from servant to servant, the anxious questions died on her lips; and
when she was ushered, at length, into a vast bedchamber, hung with
green silk, gold fringed, and was greeted by Lady Julia, all in green
herself, like a mermaid, smiling sweetly at her from between her pale
ringlets, she was so bewildered that she forgot even to courtesy. She
never heeded how the tire-woman, who had last received her, tittered as
she closed the door.

“A fair morning to you, mistress,” said Lady Julia. “I am sensible of
your kindness in coming to my hasty invitation.”

“Madam,” faltered Pomona, and remembered her _révérence_; “I am ever at
your service, honorable madam. I hope my lord is not sick again.”

“My father?” mocked the mermaid, running her white hand through her
curls. But Pomona neither understood nor practiced the wiles of women.

“I meant my Lord Blantyre,” said she.

“Oh, the lord earl, your patient; nay, it goes better with him. Oh,
he has been sadly, sadly. We have had a sore and anxious time; such a
wound as his, neglected----” she shook her ringlets.

Pomona’s lip suddenly trembled, she caught it between her teeth to
steady it.

“Ah,” said Julia, interrupting herself and turning on her chair, “here
comes the Lady Alethea.”

Alethea entered, mincing on high-heeled shoes, her cherry lips pursed,
her dark eyes dancing, as if a pair of mischievous sprites had taken
lodging there. She gazed at Pomona, so large, so work-stained, so
incongruous a figure in the bright, luxurious room. Her nostrils
dilated. She looked as wicked as a kid.

“My brother,” said she, addressing her friend, though she kept staring
at Pomona, “has heard of this wench’s arrival. He would speak with her.”

“I will go with you, even now,” said Pomona.

Both the ladies shrieked; so did the maid who had followed Lady Alethea
into the room.

“My good creature! In that attire?”

“My brother, so fastidious, so suffering!”

“And she,” cried the tire-woman, taking up the note, “still with the
stench of the saucepan about her! Positively, madam, the room reeks.”

If Pomona carried any savors beyond those of lavender and the herbs she
loved, it was of good sweet apples and fragrant burnt sugar. But she
stood in her humiliation, and felt herself more unfit for all the high
company than the beasts of her farmyard.

“You must not take it unkindly, child,” said Lady Julia, with her
cruel little laugh and her soft voice, “but my Lord Blantyre, you see,
hath ever a great distaste of all that is homely and uncomely. He hath
suffered extraordinarily in that respect of late. We must humor him.”

Truly Pomona was punished. She marveled now at herself, remembering
what her presumption had been.

“I will go home, madam, if you permit me.”

Again the ladies cried out. To thwart the invalid--’twas impossible.
Was the girl mad? Nay, she would do as they bid? ’Twas well, then.
Lady Julia, so kind was she, would help to clothe her in some better
apparel and make her fit to present herself. The while the Lady Alethea
would return to her post of assiduous nurse, and inform his lordship of
Pomona’s speedy attendance.

Pomona gave herself into their hands.

Lord Blantyre lay on a couch in the sunshine. A fountain played merrily
to his right; to his left his sister sat demurely at embroidery. In
spite of her ladyship’s melancholy account, the patient seemed to have
gained marvelously in strength. But he was in no better humor with the
world than on the last day of his stay at the farm.

He tossed and fretted among his rich cushions.

“She tarries,” he said, irritably, for the twentieth time. “You are all
in league to plague me. Why did you tell me she was coming?”

“My good brother,” answered the fair embroideress, tilting her head
to fling him the family sneer, “I pray you curb your impatience, for
yonder comes your siren.”

Here was Julia, indeed, undulating toward them, and, after her, Pomona!

Lord Blantyre sat up suddenly and stared. Then he fell back on his
cushions and shot a look at Alethea, before which she quailed.

Stumbling in high heels that tripped her at every step, she who had
been wont to move free as a goddess; scarce able to breathe in the
laced bodice that pressed her form out of all its natural shapeliness,
and left so much of her throat bare that the white skin was all crimson
in shame down to the borrowed kerchief; her artless, bewildered face
raddled with white and red, her noble head scarcely recognizable
through the bunching curls that sat so strangely each side of it--what
Pomona was this?

“Here is your kind nurse,” fluted Lady Julia. “She had a fancy to
bedizen herself for your eyes. I thought ’twould please you, my lord,
if I humored the creature.”

“Everyone is to be humored here,” thought poor Pomona, vaguely.

“Come to his lordship, child,” bade Julia, her tones tripped up with
laughter.

Pomona tottered yet a pace or two, and then halted. Taller even than
the tall Lady Julia, the lines of her generous womanhood took up the
silken skirt to absurd brevity, exposing the awkward-twisting feet.
Nymph no longer was she, but a huge painted puppet. Only the eyes were
unchanged, Pomona’s roe-deer eyes, grieving and wondering, shifting
from side to side in dumb pleading. Truly this was an excellent jest of
Lady Julia Majendie’s!

It was strange that Lady Alethea, bending closer and closer over her
work, should have no laughter left after that single glance from her
brother’s eyes; and that Lord Blantyre himself should show such lack of
humorous appreciation. There was a heavy silence. Pomona tried to draw
a breath to relieve her bursting anguish, but in vain--she was held as
in a vise. Her heart fluttered; she felt as if she must die.

“Pomona,” said Lord Blantyre, suddenly, “come closer.”

He reached and caught up his sister’s scissors from her knee, and,
leaning forward, snipped the laces that strained across the fine
scarlet satin of Pomona’s cruel bodice.

“Now breathe,” ordered he.

And while the other two were staring, unable to credit their eyes,
Pomona’s prison fell apart, and over her heaving bosom her thick white
shift took its own noble folds.

Then the woman in her awoke and revolted. She flung from her feet the
high-heeled shoes, and with frenzied hands tearing down her mockery of
a headdress, she ran to the fountain and began to dash the paint off
her face. The tears streamed down her cheeks as she laved them.

“Sweet and gentle ladies,” said the Wicked Earl--his tones cut the air
like a fine blade--“I thank you for a most excellent demonstration of
the superiority of high breeding. May I beg you both to retire upon
your triumph, and leave me to deal with this poor, inferior wretch,
since you have now most certainly convinced me she can never aspire to
such gentility as yours?”

Alethea rose, and, scattering her silks on one side, her embroidery
on the other, walked straight away down the terrace, without casting
a look behind her. Julia ran after her with skipping step, caught her
under the arm, and the laughter of her malice rang out long after she
had herself disappeared.

“Pomona,” said Lord Blantyre.

Often he had called to her, in feverish complaint, or anger, or
pettishly, like a child, but never in such a tone as this. She came to
him, as she had always come; and then she stood in shame before him,
her long hair streaming, the tears rolling down her cheeks, her hands
folded at her throat, her shapely feet gripping the ground in Julia
Majendie’s green silk stockings. Slowly his gaze enveloped her. All
at once he smiled, and then, meeting her grieving eyes, he grew grave
again, and suddenly his haughty face was broken up by tenderness. He
caught one dripping twist of hair, and pulled her toward him, after his
gentle-cruel fashion. She fell on her knees beside him and hid her face
in his cushions.

“Kiss me, Pomona,” said he.

“Oh, my lord,” she sobbed, “spare me; I am only a poor girl.”

Many a time she had dreamed, since the morning in the orchard, that she
was carrying that bleeding body, her lips on the dying roses of his
lips, but never, in her humility, had she, even in her sleep, thought
of herself as in his arms. This was no dream, and yet so he clasped her.

He bent his dark head over her radiant hair, his voice dropped words
sweeter than honey, more healing than balm, into her heart, that was
still so bruised that it could scarce beat to joy.

“When I first beheld you in the orchard, I was sorry that I might
have to die, Pomona, because you were in life. You carried me in your
arms and kept my soul from passing, by the touch of your lips. When
the fever burned me you brought me coolness--you lifted me and gave
me breath. All night you held me. Patient, strong Pomona! You bore
with all my humors. You came to me in the night from your sleep, all
in white, like an angel, your bare feet on the boards. Oh, my gentle
nurse, my humble love, my mate, my wife!”

She raised her head to gaze at him. Yet she took the wonder like a
child, not disclaiming, not questioning.

“Oh!” she said, with a deep, soft sigh.

He fondly pushed the tangled hair from her brow.

“And shall a man make shift with sham and hollow artifice when he can
possess truth itself? They put paint on your cheeks, my Pomona, and
tricked you out in gauds, and behold, I saw how great was the true
woman beside the painted doll!”

He kissed her lips, and then he cried:

“Oh, golden apple, how is the taste of thee sweet and pure!”

And, after a silence, he said to her, faintly, for he was still weak
for such rapture:

“Lift me, my love, and let me lie a while against your woman’s heart,
for never have I drawn such sweet breath as in your arms.”



THE MASTER OF THE DIDO

BY ELIZABETH DUER

[Illustration]


A certain great corporation was digging up New York and setting
microbes loose in quarters too aristocratic to suffer inconvenience
with patience, and so there were a general boarding up of front doors
and windows, a rush to Europe or to watering places; and my elders, who
were just recovering from the grip, decided that Southstrand in the
month of May was preferable to pneumonia in town. Therefore I--Kate
Russell--was sent on ahead to open my mother’s cottage at that gay
little resort, in spite of my uncle Barton Hay’s warnings against such
an unchaperoned proceeding, and mamma’s distrust of my housekeeping
powers. She was not strong enough to undertake it herself, but to
intrust the sacred rites of cleaning and unpacking to the supervision
of a girl of twenty seemed to her abnormal; while uncle Barton felt
that no unmarried woman should be given such liberty.

My uncle had condescended to live with us since my father’s death, and,
while he was too set in his ways to do anything for anybody, we were
much attached to him, and let him bully us, as most women do the one
man in the house.

“Julia,” he said, addressing my mother, “you are surely not going to
send Kate off alone to that jumping-off place, Southstrand! If some
young fellow elopes with her, you’ll have yourself to thank.”

“This is the twentieth century, Barton,” said mamma, laughing; “young
women do not elope nowadays. They may defy parents and divorce
husbands, but they don’t elope.”

“Don’t they?” snorted uncle Barton. “I say they do! When I was at
Nassau this winter, a young Englishman, without two cents to jingle on
a tombstone, eloped with old Stanbury Steel’s daughter. They borrowed
his friend Lord Battleford’s steam yacht--you must remember about
Battleford--started round the world a poor lieutenant on some English
man-of-war, and came back to find half a dozen relations dead, and a
title and fortune waiting for him. Well, as I was saying, they got him
to lend them his yacht, touched at Miami to get married, and were off
before old Steel could catch ’em. Mark my words, Julia, girls are not
to be trusted.”

This last remark switched them back to the starting point, and they
finally agreed to let me go.

The swallow that does not make summer came to us disguised as one warm
day, and mamma dispatched me on my mission, although before I could
pack and get off the weather had turned chilly, with a wind from the
east.

I was allowed a bodyguard of two servants--the most incompetent in the
house, and therefore the most easily spared: old Murphy, a preserved
supernumerary, who, having been my father’s valet, was kept on through
sentiment, and Bridget, the housemaid, also elderly and very irritable.

We reached our little, airy, seaside home at sundown--only there
wasn’t any sun--and found the fires, lighted by the women who had been
cleaning, most agreeable after a chilly drive from the station. The
wind was howling and rattling through the cracks of the window frames,
and actually made its way between the boards of the floor. There was
nothing to oppose its fury; it could sweep up uninterruptedly from the
Antilles or across from Europe, and that night it seemed to come from
both directions at once, and make whirling eddies on our south piazza.

Murphy served me a nice little repast on a tray, so that I did not
have to leave the library fire, and I amused myself with my novel till
half-past nine, and then rang the bell.

“I am going to bed, Murphy,” I said. “You may lock up.”

“Me and Bridget’s going ourselves, ma’am,” he answered.

“See that all the shutters are securely fastened,” I added. “The
cleaners left some of them open, but they should be closed such a night
as this.”

“Make yourself easy, Miss Kate,” he said, patronizingly. “Me and
Bridget knows the ways of them _weemen_.”

And so, drowsy with the narcotic of sea air, my household went to bed.

As I undressed, I heard the first splash of rain. It didn’t come
pattering like a shower, but in a wild dash against the side of the
house, as if the wind had caught the crests of all the waves and was
hurling them landward.

A line of a hymn I used to repeat to mamma in my childish days came
back to me as I laid my head on the pillow:

  Guard the sailors tossing on the deep blue sea.

Truly they would need guarding that night, I reflected; but as
sentiment rarely interferes with inclination, my sympathy for the
tempest-tossed sailors did not prevent my going to sleep promptly and
remaining in that state of oblivion for hours.

About three o’clock--possibly a little earlier--I waked up with a
beating heart; some unusual noise had disturbed me, and I raised myself
on my elbow to listen. It came again--my shutter, banging like a sledge
hammer. If anyone thinks it is pleasant to get out of a warm bed to
wrestle with a recalcitrant shutter in the teeth of an Atlantic gale,
they don’t know the south shore of Long Island--that is all! I waited
for a moment, selfishly hoping Bridget might hear and come to my aid,
but Bridget was no such goose--and I got up to help myself.

As is often the case on the coast, the rain was fitful; sometimes it
came in torrents, and then for half an hour it would cease. Just now
the wind was the only aggressor, and as I stood shivering and looking
out through my shutterless window toward the sea, up through the
blackness ran a tiny trail of fire that burst into a star and fell.

Amazement was my first sensation, and then terror! A ship was drifting
on the bar and signaling for help, and perhaps I was the only living
soul who had seen it! I knew the life-saving crew were close at
hand--their station stood across the road opposite to our cottage--but
with the exception of the two men on duty, making their dreary patrol
of the beach, they were probably asleep in their beds, and those two
might be several miles to the east or the west, at the end of their
beat, while the helpless creatures on the bar sent their flashing
prayer for aid.

Hastily lighting my reading lamp, I set it in my window; that much of
comfort should be theirs--they should know that one landlubber was up
and stirring in their behalf. Next I ran to Bridget’s room and shook
her till she waked. Her irritation yielded to the excitement of the
moment, and she undertook to get Murphy up and to join me as soon as
possible.

I had come up to Southstrand well provided with warm, rough clothing,
and I dressed as rapidly and suitably as I could to go out in the
storm. Bridget, in spite of a sharp tongue, had the kind-heartedness of
her nation, and needed no second bidding to make up the kitchen fire
and unpack the blankets.

“Sure they’ll need something to warm their drownded bodies if they
come ashore,” she declared. “So have the whisky handy, Miss Kate, for
belike they’ll want it.”

I had pushed my curly mane into a tam, and buttoned a waterproof coat
over my short skirts, and I now opened the back door and went out
before Bridget realized what I meant to do. She came roaring after
me, horrified at my venturing alone into the night, but I was beyond
recall, halfway over to the life-saving station.

Trust our coast crews for good service. Except for one solitary Triton
in his sou’wester, every man of the crew was already on the beach, and
this one was only making the place snug before rushing after them. He
started when I addressed him, for I came upon him softly.

“So you knew about the vessel!” I exclaimed, standing in the doorway of
the great barn of a place where the apparatus for rescue is kept--the
boat and the life car and mortar, the breeches buoy and the life
belts--most of which was now on the beach.

The man looked at me with ill-disguised impatience.

“I want to shut that door, lady,” he said.

Evidently I had to make my choice between being squeezed flat or
getting out of the way.

In a moment he emerged through a smaller door, and began striding
toward the beach, and I, nothing daunted by his surliness, ran beside
him. We passed through a cleft between the sand dunes and over the
heavy sands of the upper beach, and as we ran my indifference to the
storm seemed to win me a reluctant esteem, for he condescended to
answer some of my questions.

He said they judged the vessel to be a small one, that she would
probably drift over the bar with the tide that had just turned to come
in, and would go to pieces near shore; that they would try to launch
the lifeboat, but he didn’t believe they would succeed in such a surf,
and he guessed they would have to shoot a line over her and use the
breeches.

I could only hear about half his words, for they were carried away by
the wind, which tore across the beach so laden with loose sand that
it lashed our faces like a whip. I thanked him for his information,
and asked his name, and then I told him mine, and tried to prove the
sincerity of my wish to help.

“I am Miss Russell, and this is my house,” I said, pointing to the
lighted windows of the cottage a few hundred feet away. “You may call
on me for blankets or bedding, or refreshment of any kind--good luck to
you, Mr. Herrick. I shall stand here and watch.”

“We’ll do all we can,” he said, shaking his head, “but the chances to
save them folks out there looks pretty poor to me.”

Here he left me, and directed his steps toward the swinging lanterns
that marked the spot where his companions were busy. They had run their
large surf boat to the edge of the waves, and were making strenuous
efforts to launch it, but in the darkness and in such a sea it was
little short of madness. Every time there was a momentary lull, the
men, with their hands grasping the gunwales, rushed waist-deep into the
water, but before they could scramble into the boat, a great roller
would drive it and them back on the beach, and they were beginning to
lose heart.

Half an hour had passed since the stranded vessel had signaled, and I
began to fear that all was over, when close--quite close--a blue light
burned, and we saw her plainly only a few hundred yards from the shore.
I was standing as near the tide line as I dared, and in my excitement
was frequently caught by the invading waves and wet to my knees--but
what do such things matter in the presence of a tragedy?

While I looked I became conscious that the figures of the life-saving
crew were dimly visible, and far across the sea a gray light crept into
the sky; the day was breaking, and one element of terror was gone.

Our men abandoned the idea of using their boat, and they drew it out
of reach of the waves, and dragged their mortar into position. By this
time it was light enough for us to see the vessel, and a sorry sight
she was. She was pointing up the coast, her bowsprit gone and her
forward mast broken about halfway down; she listed terribly to leeward,
and every third or fourth wave washed entirely over her deck. Her crew
were in the rigging of the mainmast; we thought we could make out six.
She was a little craft to have ventured upon a voyage, for no pleasure
boat would be off Southstrand at that season of the spring unless
returning from southern or European waters, and there was something in
her appearance that pronounced her a yacht even to my inexperienced
eyes.

Bang went the mortar! But in the uncertain light the aim must have
missed, for I saw the men hauling back the line and coiling it with
lightning speed. My heart beat to suffocation; I felt as if it were
tied to the end of that slender cord, and was now being dragged through
the fury of the sea.

Once more they sighted and fired, and as they stood grouped, watching
the effect, I ventured to join them. My friend Herrick had a glass, and
was reporting his observations. Out of the rigging a man swung down to
the deck--the line had evidently crossed the ship! Now came a moment
of intense excitement--would he get it before a monster wave washed
it away, or would both he and the life line be swept off before the
eyes of his comrades in the rigging? Whatever happened, he had written
himself a hero in one woman’s heart.

“He’s got it!” I heard Herrick shout, and in confirmation we could see
him climbing back on the mast, while another man seemed to be aiding
him in making the line fast. We could distinguish even distant objects
now; the day was coming on apace.

At that moment a mountainous wave struck the yacht, making her careen
so violently that the mast seemed to touch the sea, and when she
righted herself the lowest man was gone!

Without knowing it, I must have sobbed aloud, for Herrick laid a rough
hand on my shoulder.

“This ain’t no place for women,” he said, though not unkindly. “You
had better go home, Miss Russell.”

“I’ll not go home,” I answered, angrily, and then I, in my turn,
grasped his arm.

“What is that in that wave?” I almost screamed, and he answered, with
an oath I dare not set down:

“It’s a man!”

Most of the life-saving men were busy paying out the heavy line that
was to support the breeches buoy to and from the sinking ship, but one
young fellow heard Herrick’s shout, and followed him to the edge of the
waves. They were already in their cork belts, and Herrick now fastened
a rope round his waist and gave the coil to his companion as he waited
for the incoming surge. The two stood like a pair of leashed greyhounds
prepared to spring.

On came the roller--not a wall of water, like many that had preceded
it, but low, swift and sweeping, with a nasty side twist--and in its
foam, sometimes tossed high, sometimes hidden in the spray, came its
human burden.

Herrick ran forward to meet the wave, and plunged under as it broke,
while we on shore watched with throbbing hearts his game with death. It
seemed an even chance whether he would snatch his prey from the sea, or
be trampled himself in its cruel pounding. The agony of the moment made
it seem interminable, and I think I must have lost consciousness, for
I found myself on the sands with my head against the lifeboat, and, a
hundred feet away, Herrick and the man he had saved were stretched side
by side.

I never saw anything as humanly perfect as that sailor. He was a young
man--decidedly under thirty--with the regularity of feature we usually
consider Greek, and a look of repose beautiful to behold. Dignity,
tenderness and a soft languor all mingled in the expression of his face.

I could not believe that he was dead, such a little time had elapsed
since he had been swept from the vessel, and I knelt beside him and
began to rub his cold hands between my own.

The hands were good--too good for a seafaring man, and with feminine
precipitance I jumped to the conclusion that this beautiful,
fair-haired Viking was the owner of the yacht, and no sooner had this
idea entered my mind than romance was busy weaving a web round my
heart. The lower part of his face was bronzed by exposure, but the
forehead was white as a child’s, and above it the short hair grew low,
and ruffled itself in little rings as the water dripped from it. I
knew if ever the eyes met mine they would be blue, and I gazed as if
the force of my will could compel them to disclose their secret to me.
Perhaps it did--for suddenly the lids trembled, then opened, and a
pair of blue-gray eyes looked sternly in my face. The expression was
defiant, as if the spirit had been braced to meet danger, but in a
second the hard look vanished, and the eyes seemed to smile before they
slowly shut, as if the effort had cost all remaining vitality.

Herrick’s companion was just starting to run for help when that
redoubtable person sat up and then staggered to his feet. He had only
had the wind knocked out of him, and was his own sturdy self in a few
minutes, with a wealth of invectives that broke rudely upon my exalted
mood. He called to his companion to get to work if he didn’t want the
man to die on their hands, and added, crossly:

“We can’t do anything here with a woman lookin’ on. Just carry him over
to the station, and we’ll cut these wet clothes off him and give him a
show at the fire, and I guess he’ll pull round all right.”

They hoisted him over the shoulder of the younger man, and bore him
off, leaving me humiliated by my disabilities for usefulness. I stood
rooted to the spot where I had knelt beside the sailor, a flood of
pity and admiration filling my heart, and a passionate wondering
whether life or death were to be the portion of the man whose beauty
and courage had so moved me. Herrick’s rough kindness seemed to me
sacrilege.

In the meantime the breeches buoy had made one trip and landed its
first passenger, a monkey-like old sailor with gold earrings and black
whiskers surrounding his flat face. He spat the salt water from his
mouth, and with as little concern as if he were furling a sail he lent
a hand to the coast crew in their work of rescue.

I approached the group to repeat the offer I had already made to
Herrick of fire and refreshment at my cottage, and overheard the old
fellow’s replies to certain questions our men put to him concerning the
yacht and the man who had been washed overboard.

“That was our captain,” he said. “I’ve sailed with worse--durned sight
worse! Got him, did you? Name is Holford--yacht _Dido_--coming from
Nassau by way of Bermuda--here she comes!”

This last was in reference to the breeches, which was freighted for the
second time.

The wind was going down as the day advanced, and the waves seemed less
vicious. To my shame, I found my interest in the rescue of my fellow
creatures had dwindled since the Viking had been borne off, and I
became keenly aware of my bodily discomfort. I was wet to the skin
and exhausted to the last degree, and hardly had the strength to drag
myself home. Before going to my room, however, I dispatched Murphy over
to the station with blankets and hot coffee, together with a bottle
of whisky, and I charged Bridget to let me know his report of Captain
Holford.

It was a long time before she brought me any news, and then it was
interspersed with characteristic scoldings.

“Why didn’t I come before? Glory be to goodness, this day and this
night, child. How can I be everywhere at once? People running in for
hot drinks, and half-drowned creatures sopping the kitchen with sea
water; it’s half dead I am! The captain of the ship? Well, Murphy says
he’s alive, but he guesses he’s hurt internal, and the doctor’s been
and taken him over to that little house across the field, where he can
be more quiet and have a room to himself. You drink this hot tea, Miss
Kate, and get into your bed, if you don’t want to be sick after this
night’s work.”

She set down the tea and walked off, disapprobation expressed in every
line of her retreating figure. When she reached the stairs I heard her
mutter:

“Young ladies running out with the men in the middle of the night.
’Tain’t my idea of manners, and I guess it won’t be Mrs. Russell’s
either, when I tell her what Miss Kate’s been up to.”

If I had been a boy I should have said something forcible to Bridget.

       *       *       *       *       *

A severe cold kept me in my room for two days, and made me humble
enough to swallow Bridget’s nostrums as well as her reproaches, for the
dread that she might send for my mother and put an end to future free
action on my part held me enslaved.

The gale blew itself out, and nature remembered that the month was May.
May at Southstrand meant buttercups as large as daisies, and, in the
woods, clustering masses of pink azaleas. The beach grass on the dunes
waved silver in the south wind, the fields and meadows intensified
their spring freshness by a cunning shading of velvet greens, and the
blue of the sky melted into the sea.

During the hours of my imprisonment I had thought but one thought, seen
but one vision--the face of my sailor captain as he lay on the beach,
and I asked myself how I dared to thus idealize a stranger. Not for
a second did I doubt his place in life. Class prejudice was mine to
an overmastering extent, but I told myself that such beauty of body
could only be the home of what I was pleased to call _the soul of a
gentleman_. For narrowness of vision commend me to that which has only
seen life through plate-glass windows and lace curtains. Thanks to a
new influence, mine broadened and matured with the ripening summer.

The morning of the third day I ventured out, and naturally directed
my steps to the life-saving station to ask news of the yacht’s crew.
Herrick was just outside with his bicycle, prepared to skim off to the
village to spend his leisure hours with his family, but he courteously
waited to greet me and answer my questions.

The rescued men had been sent to New York. The captain had attended to
that, for, while he was unable to be moved just yet owing to injuries
he had received, he was able to give his orders and see that they were
carried out.

“Doesn’t he mourn the wreck of his yacht?” I asked, and Herrick
answered:

“Lor’, miss! ’Tain’t nothin’ to him; he’s only the sailing master. The
_Dido’s_ owned by a rich man, who is off on his wedding trip, and sent
the yacht home from Nassau with this young fellow.”

Only the sailing master! My lips kept whispering it, and my brain would
not take it in. It meant that I--Katherine Russell, the fastidious
daughter of tradition, of all exclusiveness--had fallen in love with
a sailing master, and, what was far worse, I had fallen in love
unsolicited. What would my mother say--and uncle Barton? Uncle Barton,
who was always rolling that magic word, “gentleman,” under his tongue,
and despising others. Of course they need never know, but my secret
hurt me.

Desperate diseases require desperate remedies, and as I walked along
the lanes in a passion of rage at my own weakness, I determined to see
this man and let him destroy his own image in my heart. I was in love
with a creature of my own creation--I knew neither his mind nor his
speech--perhaps his first words would dispel the illusion and set me
free.

Across the field was the little house that harbored him, open doored
and cheerful in the sunshine, and I boldly turned my face thither.
As I approached, the farmer’s wife came out of her henhouse with her
apron full of fresh eggs, and I affected to wish to buy some for my
housekeeping, and strolled with her to the porch.

“I’ll put them in a basket for you, Miss Russell,” she said, pausing.
“I am sorry I cannot ask you inside to wait, but my parlor is let to
the captain of that wrecked vessel, and he’s still too sick to leave
his bed.”

As she spoke a towering figure filled the doorway and a deep voice said:

“Oh, no, he isn’t, Mrs. Price, for here he is, and hungry enough to beg
for one of those eggs for a second breakfast.”

He was dressed in a blue flannel shirt, such as the village shops
furnished, a pair of dark trousers, also village made, and a coat which
must have been lent to him by the farmer: and he wore them with an air
that was regal.

Now that I was face to face with my folly, I recovered my senses, and,
while I felt puzzled by the contradictions he presented, I was brave
enough to take advantage of opportunity.

“You must allow me to congratulate you upon your rescue and that of
your crew, Mr. Holford,” I said. “You had a narrow escape.”

“The congratulations are due to the gallantry of your coast guards,” he
answered, with enthusiasm.

“I am sorry about the yacht,” I continued; “she is still holding
together, for one mast thrusts itself out of the water at low tide and
looks so pathetic.”

“A monument to bad seamanship,” he said, impatiently. “It is the last
boat I shall ever attempt to sail.”

“But isn’t sailing your occupation?” I asked, aghast at his easy way of
laying down his livelihood. “There must be plenty of gentlemen needing
sailing masters, even if this one especial yacht has gone to the
bottom.”

He stared at me blankly, and then a quizzical look came into his eyes,
as he answered:

“Few gentlemen care to employ an unsuccessful sailing master; indeed, I
am not sure but that my license will be revoked. No, no, the ocean has
thrown me upon the land, and I mean to take the hint.”

“It seems hard to begin life all over again,” I said, sympathetically.

He impressed me as a man gently nurtured, who had adopted a profession
for which he was not originally intended.

“You mustn’t waste too much compassion on me,” he replied. “I have
no one dependent upon me, and, besides, I am not at the end of my
resources. I possess a few acres of farm land. There is nothing to
prevent my turning myself into a son of the soil.”

At this juncture Mrs. Price came back with the eggs, and I turned to
go, feeling the conversation was becoming almost too personal.

“Good-by,” I said. “I am glad you are better. Is there anything I can
do for you?”

He came painfully after me down the path; the muscles of his back had
been hurt and he moved stiffly.

“Two things if you will,” he said, with rather a saucy smile: “tell me
where I have seen you before, and lend me some books.”

This was getting on a little too fast. If he had been my social equal,
if we had possessed friends in common, he could not have been more
assured in his manner.

“I have never spoken to you before in my life,” I said, coldly. “I will
send you some books, Mr. Holford.”

Again the merriment flashed into his eyes, and he stood in my path.

“You would prefer me with manners cold as my hands were the other day
when you chafed them for me on the beach. You see, I remember--and I
prefer you with a red Tam o’ Shanter on your curly locks. Oh, don’t
be vexed!” he added, with entreaty in his voice. “I do not mean to be
impertinent, but I have been haunted by a vision, and the impression is
intensified by reality.” He drew aside to let me pass, and I hurried
down the path, more in love with this impudent, outrageous stranger
than before.

I sent Murphy with the books; a choice collection of direct
narratives--Conan Doyle, Clark Russell stories, that I considered
suited to a taste more practical than scholarly--but as an
afterthought I added a novel I had just read, a psychological problem
as to one’s right to dispose of life in the manner to give the richest
fulfillment to present desires at the expense of future wreck or death.

I was thoroughly disingenuous with myself, for my only object in
sending that book was to mark its effect, to welcome its discussion,
and yet I pretended I never wished to see Mr. Holford again.

       *       *       *       *       *

Perhaps it was not altogether my fault that we met every day, and
sometimes twice a day, in that week allotted to his recovery. If I
strolled up the beach when my house duties were over, I was sure to be
waylaid by Mr. Holford on my return, and he leaned so heavily on his
cane, and entreated me so earnestly to sit down for a moment and rest,
that common humanity made me accede to his request.

I had a shrewd suspicion that Bridget was always dogging my footsteps,
and once or twice I surprised a flitting figure disappearing round
the piazza when Captain Holford walked home with me, but as she never
ventured to remonstrate openly, I did not suppose she would presume to
write about me to mamma.

This went on for six glorious days, and we talked of everything on
earth, and even exchanged views of the trans-celestial, and the rest
of the time we talked of ourselves, and again of ourselves. He drew
from me my thoughts and hopes, the monotonous story of a sheltered
girl’s life, and the shrinking and longing--so oddly mixed--with which
she viewed the impending future; and in return he talked much of his
feelings, but little of his past, though vaguely I guessed that a great
financial change had come to him not very long ago, and I understood
how painful explanations might be, and admired his uncomplaining
courage.

At our last meeting, for he was going away the next day, we discussed
that burning question of what an enlightened conscience owes to
others--to prejudice and class distinction as against its larger
usefulness and happiness.

We were seated near the top of a sand dune with the Atlantic murmuring
at our feet, and behind us the merry little village settling down to
rest after the labors of the day. Mr. Holford had been talking of
youth, its sensuous keenness to pain or pleasure, and saying that
worldly prudence meant sacrificing life at its flood of physical
development to the dreary protection of its decay.

“We must go hungry,” he concluded, disdainfully, “while we have the
teeth to eat, in order that our mumbling old age may be regaled with
banquets it is past enjoying.”

His reasoning seemed to me fallacious.

“If youth is restrained,” I said, “it is only in the cause of
self-respect. What civilized being wishes to be a burden to others?”

“Civilization means hardened selfishness,” he said. “It conjugates all
its tenses with _to have_, seldom with _to be_.”

I asked myself whether this bitterness was a protest against the social
barrier between us, and I said, reproachfully:

“I don’t like you in this mood. You are hard.”

“The sordid side of life has been thrust upon me,” he said, sadly. “I
have known poverty and riches, and I have suffered almost as much from
one as the other, till I hate such influences. Why, even you--a girl of
twenty--would deny your best impulses if you fell in love with a man
below you in position. Look into my eyes and tell me if I have guessed
the truth?”

I looked into his eyes and saw something that made the color mount to
my cheeks and set my heart thumping.

“A girl doesn’t own her own life, Mr. Holford,” I managed to answer.
“She only owns a little part of herself called her heart, and that
seems of small consequence to her elders.”

“Her elders!” he repeated, scornfully. “There spoke the conventional
girl. We will not talk in quibbles any longer. I love you. I am an
honorable man, and therefore worthy of the woman I love. I can support
you in decent comfort. Will you marry me?”

He held out that handsome brown hand to me, and I put mine in it.

“I will love you,” I said, “because I cannot help myself, but I will
not marry you without my mother’s consent, because it would make me
miserable. You have loved me in spite of my classbound education, now
win me openly and honorably or go your way.”

I sprang to my feet, meaning to leave him, but he caught my frock like
a naughty child, and held me while he scrambled painfully to his feet.

“God bless you, Kate,” he said, “you are right, as usual. As long as
you love me for my very self, it makes little difference that your
mother may probably accept me for a different reason. Tell me once more
that you love the poor sailing master of the _Dido_--that if left to
yourself, you would share his fortunes, no matter how humble--and then
I will tell you the truth.”

And I told him; indeed, it was sweet to make the confession, with no
one to share it but the crickets in the beach grass, and a belated bird
calling to her mate, and when I had satisfied his craving to be loved,
I claimed his promise.

“Now what have you to tell me?” I demanded, for he had stung my woman’s
curiosity.

“Only that Holford is no longer my name,” he said, smiling; “at least
only a part of it. Several years ago, by a strange turn of fortune,
I----”

He stopped abruptly, for mamma appeared on the top of the sand hill and
fluttered down upon us like an avenging angel.

“Kate!” she exclaimed. “What are you doing here? And who is this person
with whom you are on such intimate terms that he holds your hands while
he talks to you? My daughter seems unable to answer me,” she continued,
turning to my lover; “perhaps you will favor me with some account of
yourself?”

“With pleasure,” he said, his eyes dancing wickedly. “Miss Russell
could not tell you my name because she doesn’t know it herself. I
am----”

And here he was again interrupted by uncle Barton sliding down the sand
hill and landing heavily.

“Great Scott!” he grumbled, “I’ve a ton of sand in each shoe! I hope
I did not hurt you, sir--why, can it be? What the devil are you doing
here, Battleford? Do you know my sister, Mrs. Russell? This is Lord
Battleford, Julia, whom I met at Nassau.”

At this point his wits revealed to him that Lord Battleford was the
castaway sailor whose attentions to me had alarmed Bridget into writing
to my mother for help, and he turned upon the young gentleman with
rancor.

“You don’t seem to need any introduction to my niece, Lord Battleford,”
he said, loftily, while his face flushed with turkey-cock rage, “and
I beg to inform you that I think it a deuced ungentlemanlike thing
on your part to compromise a girl with clandestine meetings and
flirtations in the absence of her family, and I tell you plainly the
whole thing has got to stop.”

“Not so fast, if you please, Mr. Hay,” said my sailor, laughing. “I
have won a wife who likes me for what I _am_ irrespective of what I
_have_, and I hope you and Mrs. Russell are not going to spoil our
romance by refusing your consent. Speak up, Kate,” he said, turning
to me; “tell these discreet people that I am something better than a
title--a man you have learned to love.”

And so I had to make a second confession of the state of my heart, and
mamma succumbed in two minutes to Battleford’s charms--or those of his
title--but I heard Uncle Barton still scolding as he helped her up the
sand dune.

“Oh, yes, he’ll make a she-earl of Kate--countess, I mean--but he’ll
take her away from us, and I fancy you will yet regret the day you
trusted her out of your sight, when the ocean lies between us and our
little girl.”

But she didn’t! For in giving me to Battleford she not only had me
often with her, but gained the dearest of sons.



MRS. EVREMOND

By

Mrs. John Van Vorst

& Marie Van Vorst

[Illustration]


When Mrs. Evremond found herself actually in her carriage it seemed
to her that it would never go fast enough, although Heaven knows she
was indifferent to the speed of her vehicles as a rule, there being
no reason why she should hasten--no place she especially cared to
arrive at, no excitement or element of it in her quiet life. But this
afternoon she was conscious of every rotation of the wheels.

When the Arc de Triomphe had been passed and in and out among
automobiles and tramways her little yellow-wheeled brougham crossed
the Etoile and began the descent, suddenly, with the inconsequence
marking a woman’s emotions as clearly as it stamps her reasonings,
Mrs. Evremond decided the coachman was driving at a ridiculous rate.
After all, she hoped never to reach the Place de la Concorde--never to
traverse the Pont Royal and leave for the Latin Quarter and the other
side of the river--the _insouciant_ world of the Bois and American
Paris. She had no desire to find the obscure street in which her
husband had his studio--which street was, however, the direction she
had given her footman, and it was toward No. 15 bis, Passage du Maine,
that with such useless speed she was being driven.

They reached and passed the Elysée Palace Hotel. Mrs. Evremond blew
through the tube at her side, the brougham drew up to the curb, stopped
and she got out.

“You may go home. I shall not need you again to-day,” she directed,
and, turning to the avenue, she began to walk down the Champs
Elysées. She might at least be mistress of her own gait; walk with
short, feverish little steps or retard her pace to keep harmony
with her alternate rapid or halting reflections, for her mind, as
she walked, went back over the past six months of her married life
with a persistence, a clearness, that denoted how important were the
details, how ineffaceable were the marks her experiences had made
upon her, how intensely she felt what she had lived, how seriously
she had taken life, how absorbed she was in the man to whom she had
attached herself--how desperately she loved her husband. The vividness
with which she thought of him had the precision of a fresh image. The
impulsive rush of herself toward the harbor her conception of him made
proved, by its very force and freshness, that thinking of him like this
was a new thing. She had lived with him, existed by his side, for six
years, and had never thought about him, around him, as she did to-day.

She gasped. “Perhaps if I had thought about him a little more and loved
him a little less, _this_ might not have happened!”

The happening, so distressing to her, which had caused her, at an
unusual hour, to ring for her carriage, dress and fly from the house on
an expedition she knew to be close to ill-breeding in its likeness to
melodrama and its distinct opposition to codes of expedient, had been
finding a letter--the world-worn story that comes to each woman with a
new pang.

As Mrs. Evremond reached the Rond Point, she asked herself: “What am I
really going to do? What do I expect to see and find, and how shall I
act when I find it?”

Women constantly commit the platitude--if such an expression can be
used--of thinking they are acting on certain occasions contrary to
their characters, out of gear with their codes. Mrs. Evremond was not
an impulsive temperament. Unaccustomed to crises or events that called
for the quick decision of more brilliant and self-sufficient minds, she
had found herself face to face with a problem, and was acting with a
precipitation that made her dizzy, and a promptitude that suggested she
had been brought into contact with just such difficulties many times
before.

The well-bred gentlewoman had seized, without second thought, the
letter lying open at her feet, read it, gasped over it, paled over it,
hated and disbelieved it--crushed it in her hand, and, with the now
crumpled sheet between glove and palm, she was on her way to verify its
purport; to make sure of the fact which women, if they would but know
it, are many times happier in ignoring; to prove to herself what? That
her husband was unfaithful to her; that she must either “cease to love
him”--by the operation of one of those unbalancing _coups de foudre_
which, we are told, turn honey to gall and love to hate in the human
breast at one revolution--or that with the discovery she must also
acknowledge, no matter _what_ he did, she would love him still, and
would, therefore, curse an enlightenment which should only give her a
useless bitter grief to suffer for the rest of her life.

She stopped still at the Place de la Concorde. She never walked alone
in the streets of Paris at this hour, and the aspect of the city was
new to her. In the early winter twilight the Place shone through the
mingled mists of evening, and the golden hazy scintillations haloing
the yellow lamps. The sunset had left the sky over the Tuileries still
red, and above the river the heavens darkened and grew cold, but the
bridge lights beckoned. Her hands were in her muff, her cheeks red
with exercise, and her eyes, which had wept more tears in the last
few hours than they would acknowledge to have seen for many months,
stung in the sharp air. She stood irresolute. Behind her the Champs
Elysées stretched to the apex at the Arc. It would be a quiet, restful
walk home. Should she not take it, return and force herself to learn
the lesson--that it is folly to be too wise? As she clasped her
hands together in her muff the letter crushed upon her palm; she set
her lips, drew a sharp breath, and resumed her walk, turning across
to the Pont de la Concorde, traversing it quickly, a graceful, agile
pedestrian among the many foot passengers, unobserving of the admiring
eyes of those whose chase is beauty.

After a very long walk, Mrs. Evremond gained the boulevard she sought,
turned into a dark little street, into a still darker alley.

The old _concierge_ met her at the _loge_, a peasant _gardienne_,
blear-eyed and wearing the white cap of her province. She blinked at
madame, and under the thick lace veil Mrs. Evremond had worn to shield
her emotion from the curious, the old woman did not recognize her
tenant’s wife.

“Monsieur told me that he is expecting madame,” she said, familiarly.
“He will not be long. Madame will go in----”

Without reply, she passed the woman and went up to her husband’s room.

Expecting her? No, that she knew was not the case--he was expecting
another; even the old _portière_ was in his wretched secret, while she
alone, perhaps, of all Paris had been ignorant.

As she crossed the threshold of the studio she seemed to enter the
apartment of a perfect stranger, so far away from her the last few
hours had served to put him. The room was cold. She opened the door
of the little stove, and, finding the fire laid, put a match to the
kindling; in a moment the sharp crackling of the wood met her ears with
a friendly domestic voice whose language was to her ears cruelly that
of the hearth and home. If what the missive implied were true, her
husband had loved another woman for many months. He had met her here
in this place which the wife looked upon as sacred to his art; whose
precincts she had respected with fidelity, believing them devoted to
his work, and fearing to be obtrusive.

The studio had indeed been sacred, but to an unlawful love.

Her first impulse was to throw her muff down, unwind the fur from her
neck and make herself as comfortable as she could in the gloom of the
spacious room; but instead she walked restlessly about, taking in the
details of decoration, the attractive disorder, with unseeing eyes.
Behind that large screen Maurice’s models dressed and undressed--women
of the people, women of the streets, of course, of the lowest, most
degrading type; face to face with them, alone with them, he had passed
hours of his life with them for years. She had never been jealous of
them, she had never thought of them; she had regarded them in the same
light with easels, and paint, and studio equipment.

Why had she not been jealous of them? They were women, and if Maurice
was so unattached that he was either a prey or a victim, or a seeker
of such affairs as this which she now believed she had discovered,
why should she not take it for granted that there were many and
varied experiences of which she had been the unconscious dupe? She
shuddered--anger and distrust whispered her to hate her husband, to
despise his weakness and never to forgive him.

In her lonely promenade she peopled the room with incidents and scenes
which did her wrong, and proved to what extent she had unnerved
herself, what rein she gave to jealousy and fear. She had lighted
a lamp, and in its light took out the crumpled piece of paper from
her glove and re-read it again. It was a love letter, the warm and
confident letter of a woman who loves to the man who loves her. At its
close it gave him rendezvous for half-past five o’clock at 11 bis,
Passage du Maine.

As Mrs. Evremond’s eyes followed the lines among the wrinkles of the
crumpled page, her eyes brimmed over again with tears, her knees
trembled, she felt herself actually ready to fall. With the return
of her tears came a softening of her anger--a relief of her unnerved
state, of her suffering--for a second she wept silently. At the moment
when her control was beyond her power she thought she heard a sound on
the stairway, and her heart stopped beating very nearly--the blood
flew to her face.

A sense of shame overcame her--shame for herself, for him and for the
other woman. What a horrible thing to follow and spy upon her husband!
What scene did she meditate? What tirade should spring to her lips? It
showed, indeed--the fact of her presence--how degrading was the whole
matter, if it could bring her to this. And the woman who bravely had
come all the way from her home to find out what she dreaded, now that
enlightenment was at hand, longed to run from it, and wished herself a
thousand miles away. _If it were true, she would rather die than know._
If it were not true, how she would loathe herself for her presence here!

The steps ceased, and in the consoling silence Mrs. Evremond regained
her natural balance--and swung true. She turned from the table near
which she had been standing, and more hurriedly than she had entered
left the studio--almost ran past the _loge_ of the old _concierge_, and
unseen by her slipped out of the open gate, called a passing cab and
crept into it, guiltily, closing the door upon what she felt was her
dishonor.

       *       *       *       *       *

Whereas Mrs. Evremond’s life was made up of monologue reflection, of
days of solitude and lately of lonely evenings, Mr. Evremond was seldom
alone. Weariness and ennui possessed him as soon as he was face to face
with his thoughts in solitude, and he, therefore, arranged his life, in
as much as possible, to avoid his ego, which, for some reason or other,
he cared never to entertain _en tête-à-tête_!

He gave rendezvous for the morning hours to his men friends, so that
even while he painted he was attended by one or another of a dozen
intimates, who amused and diverted him. When these failed, he would
even call in the curtain hanger or a carpenter for some impromptu
task, and the necessity of sharing the burden of his personality he
attributed to his sociability. It was innocent enough that the mere
noise of a carpenter’s plane, the tap, tap, of an upholsterer’s
hammer, should be company to him, yet this need of another’s presence
had been the demoralization of his character. So long as there was
somebody with him, he put off the moment of reckoning with himself, the
salutary confession productive of the efforts which count in a man’s
life. And so the inward voice of conscience had been drowned by the
voice of human companions.

Evremond was pleased with the world and disgusted with himself. Good
health and a love of beauty caused him perpetual enjoyment, whereas
his moral insensibility, the deadening of his ego, deprived him of all
happiness. He had too long stifled his yawns with a smile to be capable
now of tears or laughter, and his attitude was a menace to his wife’s
contentment. In the best hours of Mrs. Evremond’s married life, she had
felt between her husband and herself that breach of solitude which, no
matter by whom, _must be filled_.

She was six years younger than her husband, whom, without knowing, she
loved passionately and timidly. Silent as he was, indifferent, as a
rule, and always preoccupied, nevertheless he depended upon her. She
was the blank page at the end of a book, the instant’s repose for the
emotions--she was a habit--she was his wife.

Evremond was at the close of an affair; on his part, an affair not
of business, but of the heart. For the past three months he had made
desperate love to a woman not his wife. She had denied him nothing. And
now it was over. Their meetings had taken place at her house and his
own studio, he had seen her in her own boudoir, he had driven with her
in the broad light of day through hidden alleys in the Bois. They had
made sentimental journeys to the Louvre. Together they had sat in the
public gardens of the Tuileries. For three long months they had amused
themselves and each other. And now the affair was ended. Evremond
was ready to yawn upon it already. Already the memory was becoming
indistinct, blent with memories of other adventures so like to this
one that it would require a useless effort to distinguish it. But this
time there was something different in the ending of the romance, the
happy ending reserved for sensitive readers.

This afternoon at five they had met and parted in his studio, a
sundering of friendship by mutual consent, with adieux into which
both had tried to put feeling enough to justify the hours they had
consecrated to each other.

After she had gone he lingered in the familiar room. A long glass
screen reflected the dying embers that had fallen red against the iron
hearth of the stove. A certain perfume brought with a rush to his mind
moments that now became intolerable to him. As he impatiently put the
scenes from him, between the stove and the mirror, the mirror in which
Evremond could not, try as he would, imagine himself alone, he saw a
small gray spot on the polished floor. A handkerchief--no, a glove! He
stooped, picked it up, and, as though in defiance of the bolder odors
of heavier scent that hung in the air, a faint breath like an appeal
came from the bit of _suède_ which held still the imprint of a woman’s
hand. His heart seemed to stop as he turned the object over in his
hand. It was a small gray glove, distinctly not the property of the
woman to whom he had said good-by.

He picked it up and smoothed it out; there was something in it--a bit
of crumpled paper over whose ruffled surface ran the words of love and
the appeal which had brought him to his last rendezvous. He could not
believe his eyes! This was his wife’s glove! It meant, then, that she
had found the letter which he had evidently carelessly let fall, and
she had read the ridiculous sheet of paper whose words and expressions
gave him now a sort of wearied nausea. She had come to the studio
to confirm her doubts, she had seen them enter together, of course.
She knew everything, then, everything--everything except that it was
over--all that should never have been was ended. But that would not
clear him in her eyes.

Much disturbed and sick at heart, he went out into the streets and
walked slowly along, somewhat like a man in a dream, lighting one
cigarette after another, following, as it were, the leading of the tiny
light that faded and glowed at the end of the paper cylinder. He walked
on until the small house in which he lived near the Avenue du Bois was
not more than fifteen minutes distant, then he wandered away from it,
his thoughts following an irregular route.

       *       *       *       *       *

As Mrs. Evremond got into her cab without giving an address, the
coachman waited for a second, then leaned down from his box and asked
her where he should drive her.

Home--she had none! Why, the term was a farce! It had meant a place
shared by her husband and herself--he had dishonored it, blighted it
forever in her eyes. She would go at once to her mother’s, and from
there write him her conditions--they were hers to make, she knew--he
would not put forth any plea; she would never see him again.

She gave the coachman an address in Passy, and the speaking of the
number and street out into the dark put finality to what she did. He
received it with a “_Bien, madame_,” as casual and cheerful as if she
had given him a point of happy meeting instead of neutral ground on
which to decide for misery. She sank back in the _fiacre_, white and
shaking, and watched the lights of the interminable streets mark her
as she passed, and the unconcerned passersby, whom she envied in their
apparent freedom from an hour of agony.

She had been betrayed; horribly, cruelly, disloyally left for another
woman. At first the jealous bitterness of it obscured all other
feeling. She was only conscious of a desire to escape--to put miles
between herself and her husband and to be free. He had then not loved
her for long, and she had believed herself cherished. Now she believed
she had only been uneasily watched. No doubt, even the few occasions
on which he had showed her marked affection--notably after some
unintended indifference on her part--were to be attributed to his
uneasiness, to the assuaging of his conscience. That to such caresses
she had been dupe was a fatal obstacle to any reconciliation.

It was her hour to choose between her rights as a wife and her divine
right as a woman, and as she mused, hidden in the corner of the little,
rattling carriage, Mrs. Evremond saw only the first. The reality from
which she was fleeing brought its flood of indignant shame to her face,
and she began to despise the ignorance which had placed her in the way
of being so easily deceived. She scorned her trust in her husband, and
the beautiful qualities of confidence and belief grew to appear as the
most pitiable dupes--a rage of humiliation filled her as she realized
her blindness during the most poignant moments of her husband’s
treachery. Her constancy, her very loyal love, made her pitifully
ridiculous in her own eyes.

That a man’s betrayal has power to waken such heat of passion and
base humiliation as this in a gentle breast is too unfortunately the
case. Evremond’s excuses for tardy entrances, his evading of little
attentions to herself which would have involved the devotion of several
hours, how puerile and trifling they seemed!--how bald and flagrant
they appeared to her illumined understanding! Worst of all it was to
feel that whatever love she had innocently shown her husband during
these few months had for him no value; had only served to assure him
that his wife was suspicionless--at ease; that she was successfully
duped, and he might more fearlessly continue on his way. She would set
him free--leave him to love whatever woman he chose without the sin of
a dishonored vow. He would be at liberty--there would be no trace of
her left in his life. And for herself? What would it mean for her? She
must well think of it now.

With the completeness a supreme moment of grief alone is capable to
accomplish, she saw in a flash her past filled with Maurice and her
future without him. With an audible cry, quickly stifled, she leaned
forward in the little vehicle, and stretched her hands before her as if
she would seize the first, then shrank back, covering her face as if
she would shut out the latter.

“I don’t believe he loves her more than me!” she cried, to her wounded
soul. “I don’t _believe_ it; there is something in me still that tells
me he cares for me--and there is _nothing_ in me to tell me that I do
not love my husband--nothing to help me to take the stand of pride and
jealousy. I love him--and I always shall.”

Ah, she loved him! There was no doubt about that. And how deeply
inevitably it shamed her now to acknowledge it. Her history is the
repetition of many a woman’s, and of women less one-minded, less
unselfish, more warped by petty jealousies, whose frequency has become
habit. But this, the first jealous hour of Mrs. Evremond’s life, was
met by a storm of love, in which it was beaten down to the ground as,
with a rush, came over her the accumulated tenderness of years, never
checked, spontaneously allowed to live in her heart, if never shown
to her husband. Instantly purged by its holiness--spiritualized by
its unselfishness--she began to wonder if the fault did not lie with
herself.

“It is never one-sided,” she thought. “He really loved me very much
once--why should he stop loving me? If I have not been able to keep my
husband’s love, part, at least, of the fault must be mine?”

It is rare that when a height is reached, after a painful climb, that
the vision is dimmed; the reward of the struggle is sight. Whether or
not she fatuously blamed herself, whether or not a stronger-minded
woman, zealous for her rights and keen to the sense of hurt honor,
would be able to detect _any_ fault in the years of the gentle life,
the wife, examining herself, believed she saw clear.

She had too readily accepted as a matter of course the idea that
devotion promised at the altar is a commodity given over in sacred
form and secure from all assaults; hers without future effort. She
had slipped into married life too easily, too calmly, and now she
thought stupidly, without varying, or seeking to amuse, distract
or entertain--without eternally charming the man whom she had once
charmed. For her restless and vacillating husband--he was this in her
eyes as she mused--she had discovered nothing new in six years. She
was a fixture to him--an article of furniture, one with the home,
indispensable perhaps as the home itself, but only because, like
inanimate things, she had been useful and had made no claim. If she now
sought him in judicial manner and demanded confession, renunciation,
and all the rest of it, what power remained with her still? Having
brought her this far in her musings, the _fiacre_ drove up and stopped.
Looking out she saw the _grille_ and the iron lamps hanging lit on
either side the posts of the gate, and back of it the garden and her
mother’s home. But the sight of this destination brought only a chill
to her and no comfort. It was no welcome asylum; she had no desire to
fly to her mother’s arms, to weep and pour out her grief. She felt no
need of a confidant. She wanted to find some basis of her unchanged
loyalty to rest upon--a natural resting place--some strength to take
her to her own door.

Her grief, her contemplation of the disaster to her faith in her
husband, had left her shaken in all but her love. She loved him, and
any life without him was intolerable for her to face. “But,” she
reflected, “however much I may prefer a future with him to no matter
what life without him, it does not follow that he would decide in the
same way.” Yet for some intangible reason she believed it.

She had arrived at the hour which presents itself sooner or later in
the life of every married woman, the hour of combat whose issue decides
the limit for all future relations.

If she should go to him to-night--wounded vanity recalcitrant--she
might stipulate conditions that should forever sunder their lives.
Sunder their lives she believed for a passing fantasy, for a weakness,
for a caprice on his part. If, on the contrary, she went to him with
forgiveness, the very fact that there _was_ such need, that he was
forced to receive it, would leave a scar. It requires more grace to
forget forgiveness than to forgive. She knew her husband’s nature--it
would rankle and corrode. She shrank from the ordeal of an explanation,
of any rôle that would link her with this _liaison_.

At all events, descent here at the friendly home was impossible. She
gave her own address, Rue Leonard de Vinci, and directed a return
through the Bois de Boulogne. The coachman, thinking he was driving
a disappointed lady from a _rendezvous manqué_, said: “_Très bien,
madame!_” with less cheerfulness than he had shown at the first
instructions. Turning briskly through Passy to La Muette, and entering
the Bois at that gate, he drove her along at a jogging pace toward
home. Home--it had become this once again; not as yet destroyed and
marred by torturing questions and recriminations--never, please God, so
to be by her! If it had any sacredness, she would try to save it still;
if the link were not too fragile, she would mend it; if there were a
hearthstone left she would, if she might, kindle some warmth upon it
still.

“Perhaps,” she mused, “happiness is ended for my husband and me; at all
events, I will not seek its destruction. Perhaps he wants to leave me
and be free. He must prove it to me. He has not proved it yet. Perhaps
I can learn to be to him more than any other woman can ever be--can
charm him to me again as I did when I was a girl. I can try with all my
heart.”

She let down the glass of the little window and leaned out. The air
was sweet with the smell of the damp winter woods--the trees clustered
like phantoms close to the road--there had been an ice storm, and the
glistening tops of the pines shone in the night like fairy trees in
crystal urns. A few stars were out, big and bright in a sky faintly
blue; as Mrs. Evremond lifted her face to them they seemed to shine on
her as never before. She looked up into the heavens with a childlike
sweetness, and perhaps, in her hope and her goodness, with as pure a
faith as prayer ever carried. She was possibly deserted definitely by
the man she loved. She had been betrayed by him. She had never suffered
in her life as to-day. She could never so suffer again.

We all possess the power to make those who love us suffer just so far.
Evremond had come all at once to the high-tide mark of his limit. He
could never cause her such keen pain again, and he paid the penalty.
She loved him not less but differently, with a tenderness that comes
only when we have ceased to lean--to repose; with a protection that
only comes when we are conscious of weakness; with renunciation that
only comes when we see and accept the destruction of the ideal, the
death of illusion, and take up with courage the reality and embrace it
instead.

“He shall never know that I know,” she murmured, “unless he wishes to.
He has a right to his life; he has a right to love where he likes, not
by law, but because of his nature. If he loves me still, if he wants
to go on as we are, he will make me feel it to-night. I shall know
to-night, and for all our future he shall decide.”

       *       *       *       *       *

Mrs. Evremond was a methodical woman of reasonable habits, and not
given to tardy wanderings about shops or prolonged absences from her
home. She was on this night very late indeed. The long time Evremond
waited for her confirmed his most unpleasant fears. He had come in
about six and gone to the salon to wait her probably speedy entrance.
Then, with the nervous impatience of a person who had every reason to
dread, and every reason to hope for, the arrival of the expected, he
watched the clock mercilessly mark hour after hour. At eight--never had
she been out so late before--he said, definitely:

“She has left me--there is no doubt about it. She knows everything, and
she never wants to see me again.”

Such a fact as the termination of their married relations, in the most
extreme moments of his interest in another, he had never thought of--he
had never wished for. He had always considered his wife suited to him,
understanding his idiosyncrasies, patient and a pleasant background,
but never had he supposed that the naked truth of the loss of her--or
the risk of the loss of her--would fill him with dismay.

Not caring to suggest significance in her absence by questioning the
servants, he waited in the salon without giving orders to retard the
dinner. Every passing cab that showed evidence of drawing up to the
curbstone made him go to the window, only to see the vehicle roll
unconcernedly past. His wife had left the house at five o’clock in her
carriage, which had been sent back from the Champs Elysées; this was
all he knew save that she had been to his studio half an hour before
his rendezvous, and had there dropped her glove with the compromising
letter. The end, then, of his conventional commonplace married life was
to be a kind of tragedy; the public were to have their taste offended
by his delinquencies--or to remain indifferent to the subject.

At all events, the poignancy of the affair was reserved for himself
alone. Consistent with his self-absorbed nature, he pictured but one
sufferer. He allotted to his wife righteous anger, disgust and a
jealous pride--which, nevertheless, he justified--and nothing else.
With surprise and vexation he discovered that he was suffering, and,
unused to pain of any kind, annoyed and ill at ease with his conscience
and his fate, he could have snapped at his irritation like an animal at
a tantalizing wound.

If she were, indeed, gone, then his home was wrecked in consequence of
his passing passion for a woman he had always thought in no wise equal
to the wife whom he had dishonored, whom he, nevertheless, discovered
he treasured and valued and could not lightly lose. What folly--what
poor logic--what false judgment! Neither logic nor judgment entered
into the case, and he knew it, nor did an overwhelming temptation of
a grand passion justify even remotely his behavior in his eyes; he
admitted his weakness, his facile drifting, when he took no means to
stem the tide, his half-cynical pastime. It looked to have cost him
dear.

As sentiments whose characters have changed in the unalterable
and fickle moment of time, when love is love no more and desire
non-existent, become as unpleasant and safe as they were secret and
dangerous, so he thought of his late friendship with anger and held
it cheap, a priceless imitation for which perhaps he had given a pure
jewel in stupid exchange.

If she did not come in by nine o’clock he would go to her, to her
mother’s, where she had undoubtedly taken refuge in the sudden storm
that had driven her from her own doors. Once there, facing her,
what should he say? She was so simple, so direct, so honest, so
unworldly. He was too intelligent not to comprehend all that occasion
would require of his duplicity, subtleties, to dupe her, to make her
believe--what? He could _not_ make her now believe anything but the
truth. Her entire confidence had spared him hitherto the necessity of
lying to her. He owed her that.

As he said this to himself, the debt of everything that he owed came
very practically to his mind. All the peace he had known; agreeable
and courteous companionship whenever he had sought it; the grace and
comfort of a well-ordered household; and, if anything further, he had
for a long time been too careless to foster it, unheedful of its value.
If she were only a habit, she was a fixed one, more steadfast than any
other hitherto formed. What should he say to her? Since he could not
trick her to regard the situation with anything but disgust and anger,
he would tell her the truth and plead weakness without love and beg her
forgiveness. His nature twinged at this, a burning flush made him hot
all over. A distaste of the cowardice in such confessions nauseated
him. If she forgave him, if he made a clean breast of it in loyalty to
her and disloyalty to the other, things would never be the same again.
Between them there would always be his weakness and her nobility.
Before humiliations such as these some natures do not shrink. Evremond
shivered at it with all his sensibility and pride.

“Not,” he acknowledged, “that I am too beastly proud to own up, but
that I dread the result to us both. _Que faire?_”

At nine o’clock, his nerves on the rack, his control gone, he
telephoned to the little hotel, 75 Rue Docteur Blanche.

“Mrs. Evremond has not been at her mother’s for several days--who
wished to know? Was there anything wrong?”

“Nothing.”

He put up the receiver--a new thought seized him horribly. Why had
he supposed this the one and only solution--the quiet solution to
his wife’s problem, the sequence to her discovery? What if she had
suddenly, surprisingly, taken it to heart, and it had unnerved her? He
had not thought of her or her feelings. She loved him--she had loved
him, he knew it well--dearly.

“What if she had----” he exclaimed, aloud, white with emotion. Then:
“Nonsense,” he exclaimed, “she is not hysterical--she is control
itself.”

What was she? Really, what did he know of her accurately; when had he
seen her obliged to face any crisis in her quiet life?

He rang violently, and when the man came in, asked:

“When did madame go out, did you tell me? Tell me again.”

“At five. Charles drove madame a little way on the Champs Elysées, and
was then dismissed.”

She had been gone then five hours. There was no house of an intimate
friend to which she could have gone for advice or even familiar
confidence. She had no _intimes_, no enthusiasms; she lived, and he
knew it, for him and her home absolutely. She had built a simple,
healthful existence around him.

In this, his first solitude, his first long soliloquy, the state of
Evremond’s mind altered as did his countenance. He grew stilled,
almost appalled, at what might come to his knowledge now, at any
moment, and facts magnified by his vivid imagination became ghosts to
him--every one.

He went from the salon to her rooms--the pretty rooms of the woman of
wealth and good taste, where every article of toilet and furniture
spoke charmingly of the mistress. Mrs. Evremond’s dinner dress lay out
on the bed; her maid stood in the window looking out. With a word about
madame’s being very late to-night, she left the room discreetly.

Neither dressing table nor bureau nor secretary had any letter for
him. There was no evidence of a hasty departure, no melodramatic
chaos in the tranquil rooms that, with bright wood fires and shut-in
invitingness, waited her return. She had gone out, as usual, but not as
usual had she returned.

These rooms, to whose voices he had been for months deaf and
indifferent, spoke to him now so insistingly that he turned away from
them, not able to bear their appeal.

Back in the salon the clock marked the quarter after nine--at half-past
he would go out to the prefecture of the police--and what then? Did
this mean that he discarded the idea of a voluntary flight from him?
No--she was, of course, safe. She had simply left him without a word or
sign. He could do nothing--but suffer and wait.

In her withdrawal, in his certainty of loss of her, she grew infinitely
precious in his eyes and, above all the rest of the world, for the
first in a long time she took her rightful place. If anything sinister
had occurred he knew the whole face of life would be altered for him
forever. If she had left him, he determined to move heaven and earth to
win her back to him--and just here he turned sharply at the opening of
the salon door.

He sprang toward her--his white and drawn face wore a look of fear and
suffering that at the sight of her altered to a welcome and relief, and
with a tenderness such as had never greeted Emily Evremond in her life
before, he cried her name:

“_Emily!_” He stammered it and stopped. The face of his wife was so
different to what he would have looked for it to be, her coming was so
little what he had planned for, that he had no words at command.

“I am late. I am awfully late--I did not realize it was half-past nine.
Have you dined, Maurice?”

She laid her muff and furs down. She had only one glove on--a gray
_suède_ glove; she drew it slowly off, her other hand was bare.

“_Dined!_” echoed her husband. “Why, I’ve been waiting for you here
since six o’clock. I’ve been horribly anxious. Emily, where on earth
have you been?” He might have said, “Where in heaven?” for her face was
heavenly. He knew her for a pretty woman, a graceful woman, but the
face of his wife, as she stood looking at him, quiet, unemotional, was
of a divinity that made him marvel. He felt more infinitely far away
from her than if she had not returned to him.

“I am sorry,” she said. “I had some things to do, and I did not realize
the time. You must be starved, Maurice.”

What things--what had she done and planned further to do? That tears
and reproaches and accusations were not in the rôle she had given
herself, he saw. Any opening of the subject by him he felt would be a
grave mistake. If she said nothing he would ignore that she knew. She
did not, of course, know yet that he had found her glove, even if she
had purposely left it--how could she be sure that he would return?
Perhaps she did not know that she had lost it, or where. His heart
leaped at the respite--the little respite it was--his color came back,
and the possibility of a natural attitude.

She had gone over to the mirror and was taking off her hat tranquilly,
instead of going to her own room. She arranged her hair deftly and
lightly with a touch here and there. Maurice watched her, and the
light on her hands and on the jewels of her engagement ring and the
plain round of her wedding ring. Her hands were small; on one hand all
day she had worn a gray glove, and between it and her palm had lain the
letter with its cruel flaunting to her of his treachery and his sin.
And she returned to him like this--gentle, controlled!

He drew a deep breath. “What pluck!” he thought. “What a woman!” He
adored her, and all that her unspoken forgiveness meant, all that her
grace conceded, worked in him a change--a conversion. Maurice Evremond
was a different man to the one who had left her that very morning--she
had won her husband.

And she, for her part, was under the spell of his greeting. She wanted
never to forget his face until its pallor and its transfiguration,
until its significance, were fixed upon her heart. He had believed her
gone--and he cared. He answered her question unconsciously without
speaking a word. If he loved her ever so little, she would win the
rest. She would supersede any other woman in the world with him. She
turned with a smile to find his eyes fixed on her.

“Let’s go in to dinner as we are, Maurice, it’s so late.”

Evremond came to her, put his arms around her; for the thousandth part
of a second he felt her shrink. He drew her close. Under his touch her
face suffused like a bride’s. He saw now, as he held her, the marks of
tears on her eyes; the illuminating of her spirit had concealed them
until now, but the human touch brought her to life.

The sharp drawing of the cord, as the curtains were pulled back between
salon and dining room, made them start apart as the _maitre d’hôtel_
summoned them to a repast already two hours late.

“_Madame est servie._”

[Illustration]



The DOG STAR

By Joseph C. Lincoln

[Illustration]


It commenced the day after we took old man Stumpton out codfishin’. Me
and Cap’n Jonadab both told Peter T. Brown that the cod wa’n’t bitin’
much at that season, but he said cod be jiggered. “What’s troublin’ me
jest now is landin’ suckers,” he says.

So the four of us got into the _Patience M._--she’s Jonadab’s
catboat--and sot sail for the Crab Ledge. And we hadn’t more’n got our
lines over the side than we struck into a school of dogfish. Now, if
you know anything about fishin’ you know that when the dogfish strike
on it’s “good-by, cod!” So when Stumpton hauled a big fat one over the
rail I could tell that Jonadab was jest ready to swear. But do you
think it disturbed your old friend, Peter Brown? No, sir! He never
winked an eye.

“By Jove!” he sings out, starin’ at that blamed dogfish as if ’twas
a gold dollar. “By Jove!” says he, “that’s the finest specimen of a
Labrador mack’rel ever I see. Bait up, Stump, and go at ’em again.”

So Stumpton, havin’ lived in Montana ever sence he was five years old,
and not havin’ sighted salt water in all that time, he don’t know but
what there is sech critters as “Labrador mack’rel,” and he does go at
’em, hammer and tongs. When we come ashore we had eighteen dogfish,
four sculpin and a skate, and Stumpton was the happiest loon in
Ostable County. It was all we could do to keep him from cookin’ one of
them “mack’rel” with his own hands. If Jonadab hadn’t steered him out
of the way while I sneaked down to the Port and bought a bass, we’d
have had to eat dogfish--we would, as sure as I’m a foot high.

Stumpton and his daughter, Maudina, was at the Old Home House, at
Wellmouth Port. ’Twas late in September, and the boarders had cleared
out. Old Dillaway--Ebenezer Dillaway, Peter’s father-in-law--had
decoyed the pair on from Montana because him and some Wall Street
sharks were figgerin’ on buyin’ some copper country out that way that
Stumpton owned. Then Dillaway was too sick, and Peter, who was jest
back from his weddin’ tower, brought the Montana victims down to the
Cape with the excuse to give ’em a good time alongshore, but really
to keep ’em safe and out of the way till Ebenezer got well enough to
finish robbin’ ’em. Belle--Peter’s wife--stayed behind to look after
papa.

Stumpton was a great tall man, narrer in the beam, and with a
figgerhead like a henhawk. He jest enjoyed himself here at the Cape.
He fished, and loafed, and shot at a mark. He sartinly could shoot.
The only thing he was wishin’ for was somethin’ alive to shoot at, and
Brown had promised to take him out duck shootin’. ’Twas too early for
ducks, but that didn’t worry Peter any; he’d a-had ducks to shoot at if
he bought all the poultry in the township.

Maudina was like her name, pretty but sort of soft and mushy. She had
big blue eyes and a baby face, and her principal cargo was poetry. She
had a deckload of it, and she’d heave it overboard every time the wind
changed. She was forever orderin’ the ocean to “roll on,” but she
didn’t mean it; I had her out sailin’ once when the bay was a little
mite rugged, and I know. She was jest out of a convent school, and you
could see she wasn’t used to most things--includin’ men.

The fust week slipped along, and everything was serene. Bulletins from
Ebenezer more encouragin’ every day, and no squalls in sight. But ’twas
almost too slick. I was afraid the calm was a weather breeder, and sure
enough, the hurricane struck us the day after that fishin’ trip.

Peter had gone drivin’ with Maudina and her dad, and me and Cap’n
Jonadab was smokin’ on the front piazza. I was pullin’ at a pipe, but
the cap’n had the home end of one of Stumpton’s cigars harpooned on the
little blade of his jackknife, and was busy pumpin’ the last drop of
comfort out of it. I never see a man who wanted to git his money’s wuth
more’n Jonadab. I give you my word, I expected to see him swaller that
cigar remnant every minute.

And all to once he gives a gurgle in his throat.

“Take a drink of water,” says I, scared like.

“Well, by time!” says he, p’intin’.

A feller had jest turned the corner of the house and was headin’ up in
our direction. He was a thin, lengthy craft, with more’n the average
amount of wrists stickin’ out of his sleeves, and with long black hair
trimmed aft behind his ears and curlin’ on the back of his neck. He
had high cheek bones and kind of sunk-in black eyes, and altogether he
looked like “Dr. Macgoozleum, the Celebrated Blackfoot Medicine Man.”
If he’d hollered: “Sagwa Bitters, only one dollar a bottle!” I wouldn’t
have been surprised.

But his clothes--don’t say a word! His coat was long and buttoned up
tight, so’s you couldn’t tell whether he had a vest on or not--though
’twas a safe bet he hadn’t--and it and his pants was made of the
loudest kind of black-and-white checks. No nice quiet pepper-and-salt,
you understand, but the checkerboard kind, the oilcloth kind, the kind
that looks like the marble floor in the Boston post office. They was
pretty tolerable seedy, and so was his hat. Oh, he was a last year’s
bird’s nest _now_, but when them clothes was fresh--whew! the northern
lights and a rainbow mixed wouldn’t have been more’n a cloudy day
’longside of him.

He run up to the piazza like a clipper comin’ into port, and he sweeps
off that rusty hat and hails us grand and easy.

“Good-mornin’, gentlemen,” says he.

“We don’t want none,” says Jonadab, decided.

The feller looked surprised. “I beg your pardon,” says he. “You don’t
want any--what?”

“We don’t want any ‘Life of King Solomon’ nor ‘The World’s Big
Classifyers.’ And we don’t want to buy any patent paint, nor sewin’
machines, nor clothes washers, nor climbin’ evergreen roses, nor
rheumatiz salve. And we don’t want our pictures painted, neither.”

Jonadab was gittin’ excited. Nothin’ riles him wuss than a peddler,
unless it’s a woman sellin’ tickets to a church fair. The feller
swelled up until I thought the top button on that thunderstorm coat
would drag anchor, sure.

“You are mistaken,” says he. “I have called to see Mr. Peter Brown; he
is--er--a relative of mine.”

Well, you could have blown me and Jonadab over with a cat’s-paw. We
went on our beam ends, so’s to speak. A relation of Peter T.’s; why, if
he’d been twice the panorama he was we’d have let him in when he said
that. Loud clothes, we figgered, must run in the family. We remembered
how Peter was dressed the fust time we met him.

“You don’t say!” says I. “Come right up and set down, Mr--Mr.----”

“Montague,” says the feller. “Booth Montague. Permit me to present my
card.”

He dove into the hatches of his checkerboards and rummaged around, but
he didn’t find nothin’ but holes, I jedge, because he looked dreadful
put out, and begged our pardons five or six times.

“Dear me!” says he. “This is embarrassin’. I’ve forgot my cardcase.”

We told him never mind the card; any of Peter’s folks was more’n
welcome. So he come up the steps and set down in a piazza chair like
King Edward perchin’ on his throne. Then he hove out some remarks about
its bein’ a nice morning’, all in a condescendin’ sort of way, as if
he usually attended to the weather himself, but had been sort of busy
lately, and had handed the job over to one of the crew. We told him all
about Peter, and Belle, and Ebenezer, and about Stumpton and Maudina.
He was a good deal interested, and asked consider’ble many questions.
Pretty soon we heard a carriage rattlin’ up the road.

“Hello!” says I. “I guess that’s Peter and the rest comin’ now.”

Mr. Montague got off his throne kind of sudden.

“Ahem!” says he. “Is there a room here where I may--er--receive Mr.
Brown in a less public manner? It will be rather a--er--surprise for
him, and----”

Well, there was a good deal of sense in that. I know ’twould surprise
_me_ to have such an image as he was sprung on me without any notice.
We steered him into the gents’ parlor, and shut the door. In a minute
the horse and wagon come into the yard. Maudina said she’d had a
“heavenly” drive, and unloaded some poetry concernin’ the music of
billows, and pine trees, and sech. She and her father went up to their
rooms, and when the decks was clear Jonadab and me tackled Peter T.

“Peter,” says Jonadab, “we’ve got a surprise for you. One of your
relations has come.”

Brown, he did looked surprised, but he didn’t act as he was any too
joyful.

“Relation of _mine_?” says he. “Come off! What’s his name?”

We told him Montague, Booth Montague. He laffed.

“Wake up and turn over,” he says. “They never had anything like that in
my fam’ly. Booth Montague! Sure ’twa’n’t Algernon Coughdrops?”

We said no, ’twas Booth Montague, and that he was waitin’ in the
gents’ parlor. So he laffed again, and said somethin’ about sendin’
for Laura Lean Jibbey, and then we started.

The checkerboard feller was standin’ up when we opened the door.
“Hello, Petey!” says he, cool as a cucumber, and stickin’ out a foot
and a ha’f of wrist with a hand at the end of it.

Now, it takes consider’ble to upset Peter Theodosius Brown. Up to
that time and hour I’d have bet on him against anything short of an
earthquake. But Booth Montague done it--knocked him plumb out of water.
Peter actually turned white.

“Great----” he began, and then stopped and swallered. “_Hank!_” he
says, and set down in a chair.

“The same,” says Montague, wavin’ the starboard extension of the
checkerboard. “Petey, it does me good to set my lamps on you.
Especially now, when you’re the reel thing.”

Brown never answered for a minute. Then he canted over to port and
reached down into his pocket. “Well,” says he, “how much?”

But Hank, or Booth, or Montague--whatever his name was--he waved his
flipper disdainful. “Nun-nun-nun-no, Petey, my son,” he says, smilin’.
“It ain’t ’how much?’ this time. When I heard how you’d rung the bell
the first shot out the box and was rollin’ in coin, I said to myself:
‘Here’s where the prod comes back to his own.’ I’ve come to live with
you, Petey, and you pay the freight.”

Peter jumped out of the chair. “_Live_ with me!” he says. “You Friday
evenin’ amateur night! It’s back to ‘Ten Nights in a Barroom’ for
yours!” he says.

“Oh, no, it ain’t!” says Hank, cheerful. “It’ll be back to Popper
Dillaway and Belle. When I tell ’em I’m your little cousin Henry and
how you and me worked the territories together--why--well, I guess
there’ll be gladness round the dear home nest; hey?”

Peter didn’t say nothin’. Then he fetched a long breath and motioned
with his head to Cap’n Jonadab and me. We see we weren’t invited to
the family reunion, so we went out and shut the door. But we did pity
Peter; I snum if we didn’t!

It was ’most an hour afore Brown come out of that room. When he did he
took Jonadab and me by the arm and led us out back of the barn.

“Fellers,” he says, sad and mournful, “that--that plaster cast in a
crazy-quilt,” he says, referrin’ to Montague, “is a cousin of mine.
That’s the livin’ truth,” says he, “and the only excuse I can make is
that ’tain’t my fault. He’s my cousin, all right, and his name’s Hank
Schmults, but the sooner you box that fact up in your forgetory, the
smoother ’twill be for yours drearily, Peter T. Brown. He’s to be Mr.
Booth Montague, the celebrated English poet, so long’s he hangs out at
the Old Home; and he’s to hang out here until--well, until I can dope
out a way to get rid of him.”

We didn’t say nothin’ for a minute--jest thought. Then Jonadab says,
kind of puzzled: “What makes you call him a poet?” he says.

Peter answered pretty snappy: ”’Cause there’s only two or three jobs
that a long-haired image like him could hold down,” he says. “I’d call
him a musician if he could play ’Bedelia’ on a jews’-harp; but he
can’t, so’s he’s got to be a poet.”

And a poet he was for the next week or so. Peter drove down to
Wellmouth that night and bought some respectable black clothes, and the
follerin’ mornin’, when the celebrated Booth Montague come sailin’ into
the dinin’ room, with his curls brushed back from his forehead, and his
new cutaway on, and his wrists covered up with clean cuffs, blessed
if he didn’t look distinguished--at least, that’s the only word I can
think of that fills the bill. And he talked beautiful language, not
like the slang he hove at Brown and us in the gents’ parlor.

Peter done the honors, introducin’ him to us and the Stumptons as
a friend who’d come from England unexpected, and Hank he bowed and
scraped, and looked absent-minded and crazy--like a poet ought to. Oh,
he done well at it! You could see that ’twas jest pie for him.

And ’twas pie for Maudina, too. Bein’, as I said, kind of green
concernin’ men folks, and likewise takin’ to poetry like a cat to fish,
she jest fairly gushed over this fraud. She’d reel off a couple of
fathom of verses from fellers named Spencer or Waller, or sech like,
and he’d never turn a hair, but back he’d come and say they was good,
but he preferred Confucius, or Methuselah, or somebody so antique that
she nor nobody else ever heard of ’em. Oh, he run a safe course, and he
had _her_ in tow afore they turned the fust mark.

Jonadab and me got worried. We see how things was goin’, and we didn’t
like it. Stumpton was havin’ too good a time to notice, goin’ after
“Labrador mack’rel” and so on, and Peter T. was too busy steerin’
the cruises to pay any attention. But one afternoon I come by the
summerhouse unexpected, and there sat Booth Montague and Maudina, him
with a clove hitch round her waist, and she lookin’ up into his eyes
like they were peekholes in the fence ’round paradise. That was enough.
It jest simply _couldn’t_ go any further, so that night me and Jonadab
had a confab up in my room.

“Barzilla,” says the cap’n, “if we tell Peter that that relation of his
is figgerin’ to marry Maudina Stumpton for her money, and that he’s
more’n likely to elope with her, ’twill pretty nigh kill Pete, won’t
it? No, sir; it’s up to you and me. We’ve got to figger out some way to
git rid of the critter ourselves.”

“It’s a wonder to me,” I says, “that Peter puts up with him. Why don’t
he order him to clear out, and tell Belle if he wants to? She can’t
blame Peter ’cause his uncle was father to an outrage like that.”

Jonadab looks at me scornful. “Can’t, hey?” he says. “And her
high-toned and chummin’ in with the bigbugs? It’s easy to see you never
was married,” says he.

Well, I never was, so I shet up.

We set there and thought and thought, and by and by I commenced to
sight an idee in the offin’. ’Twas hull down at fust, but pretty soon I
got it into speakin’ distance, and then I broke it gentle to Jonadab.
He grabbed at it like the “Labrador mack’rel” grabbed Stumpton’s hook.
We set up and planned until pretty nigh three o’clock, and all the next
day we put in our spare time loadin’ provisions and water aboard the
_Patience M._ We put grub enough aboard to last a month.

Just at daylight the mornin’ after that we knocked at the door of
Montague’s bedroom. When he woke up enough to open the door--it took
some time, ’cause eatin’ and sleepin’ was his mainstay--we told him
that we was plannin’ an early-mornin’ fishin’ trip, and if he wanted to
go with the folks he must come down to the landin’ quick. He promised
to hurry, and I stayed by the door to see that he didn’t git away. In
about ten minutes we had him in the skiff rowin’ off to the _Patience
M._

“Where’s the rest of the crowd?” says he, when he stepped aboard.

“They’ll be along when we’re ready for ’em,” says I. “You go below
there, will you, and stow away the coats and things.”

So he crawled into the cabin, and I helped Jonadab git up sail. We
intended towin’ the skiff, so I made her fast astern. In ha’f a shake
we was under way and headed out of the cove. When that British poet
stuck his nose out of the companion we was abreast the p’int.

“Hi!” says he, scramblin’ into the cockpit. “What’s this mean?”

I was steerin’ and feelin’ toler’ble happy over the way things had
worked out.

“Nice sailin’ breeze, ain’t it?” says I, smilin’.

“Where’s Mau--Miss Stumpton?” he says, wild like.

“She’s abed, I cal’late,” says I, “gittin’ her beauty sleep. Why don’t
_you_ turn in? Or are you pretty enough now?”

He looked fust at me and then at Jonadab, and his face turned a little
yellower than usual.

“What kind of a game is this?” he asks, brisk. “Where are you goin’?”

’Twas Jonadab that answered. “We’re bound,” says he, “for the Bermudas.
It’s a lovely place to spend the winter, they tell me,” he says.

That poet never made no remarks. He jumped to the stern and caught hold
of the skiff’s pointer. I shoved him out of the way and picked up the
boat hook. Jonadab rolled up his shirt sleeves and laid hands on the
centerboard stick.

“I wouldn’t, if I was you,” says the cap’n.

Jonadab weighs pretty close to two hundred, and most of it’s gristle.
I’m not quite so much, fur’s tonnage goes, but I ain’t exactly a canary
bird. Montague seemed to size things up in a jiffy. He looked at us,
then at the sail, and then at the shore out over the stern.

“Done!” says he. “Done! And by a couple of ‘come-ons’!”

And down he sets on the thwart.

“Is there anything to drink aboard this liner?” asks Booth Hank
Montague.

       *       *       *       *       *

Well, we sailed all that day and all that night. Course we didn’t
reelly intend to make the Bermudas. What we intended to do was to
cruise around alongshore for a couple of weeks, long enough for the
Stumptons to git back to Dillaway’s, settle the copper bus’ness and
break for Montana. Then we was goin’ home again and turn Brown’s
relation over to him to take care of. We knew Peter’d have some plan
thought out by that time. We’d left a note tellin’ him what we’d done,
and sayin’ that we trusted to him to explain matters to Maudina and her
dad. We knew that explainin’ was Peter’s main holt.

The poet was pretty chipper for a spell. He set on the thwart and
bragged about what he’d do when he got back to “Petey” again. He said
we couldn’t git rid of him so easy. Then he spun yarns about what him
and Brown did when they was out West together. They was interestin’
yarns, but we could see why Peter wa’n’t anxious to introduce Cousin
Henry to Belle. Then the _Patience M._ got out where ’twas pretty
rugged, and she rolled consider’ble, and after that we didn’t hear much
more from friend Booth--he was too busy to talk.

That night me and Jonadab took watch and watch. In the mornin’ it
thickened up and looked squally. I got kind of worried. By nine o’clock
there was every sign of a no’theaster, and we see we’d have to put
in somewheres and ride it out. So we headed for a place we’ll call
Baytown, though that wa’n’t the name of it. It’s a queer, old-fashioned
town, and it’s on an island; maybe you can guess it from that.

Well, we run into the harbor and let go anchor. Jonadab crawled into
the cabin to git some terbacker, and I was for’ard coilin’ the throat
halyard. All to once I heard oars rattlin’, and I turned my head; what
I see made me let out a yell like a siren whistle.

There was that everlastin’ poet in the skiff--you remember we’d
been towin’ it astern--and he was jest cuttin’ the painter with his
jackknife. Next minute he’d picked up the oars and was headin’ for the
wharf, doublin’ up and stretchin’ out like a frog swimmin’, and with
his curls streamin’ in the wind like a rooster’s tail in a hurricane.
He had a long start ’fore Jonadab and me woke up enough to think of
chasin’ him.

But we woke up fin’lly, and the way we flew round that catboat was a
caution. I laid into them halyards, and I had the gaff up to the peak
afore Jonadab got the anchor clear of the bottom. Then I jumped to the
tiller, and the _Patience M._ took after that skiff like a pup after a
tomcat. We run alongside the wharf jest as Booth Hank climbed over the
stringpiece.

“Git after him, Barzilla!” hollers Cap’n Jonadab. “I’ll make her fast.”

Well, I hadn’t took more’n three steps when I see ’twas goin’ to be a
long chase. Montague unfurled them thin legs of his and got over the
ground somethin’ wonderful. All you could see was a pile of dust and
coat tails flappin’.

Up on the wharf we went and round the corner into a straggly kind of
road with old-fashioned houses on both sides of it. Nobody in the
yards, nobody at the windows; quiet as could be, except that off ahead,
somewheres, there was music playin’.

That road was a quarter of a mile long, but we galloped through it so
fast that the scenery was nothin’ but a blur. Booth was gainin’ all the
time, but I stuck to it like a good one. We took a short cut through a
yard, piled over a fence and come out into another road, and up at the
head of it was a crowd of folks--men and women and children and dogs.

“Stop thief!” I hollers, and ’way astern I heard Jonadab bellerin’:
“Stop thief!”

Montague dives headfust for the crowd. He fell over a baby carriage,
and I gained a tack ’fore he got up. He wa’n’t more’n ten yards ahead
when I come bustin’ through, upsettin’ children and old women, and
landed in what I guess was the main street of the place and right
abreast of a parade that was marchin’ down the middle of it.

Fust there was the band, four fellers tootin’ and bangin’ like fo’mast
hands on a fishin’ smack in a fog. Then there was a big darky totin’ a
banner with “Jenkins’ Unparalleled Double Uncle Tom’s Cabin Company,
Number 2,” on it in big letters. Behind him was a boy leadin’ two
great, savage-lookin’ dogs--bloodhounds, I found out afterward--by
chains. Then come a pony cart with Little Eva and Eliza’s child in it;
Eva was all gold hair and beautifulness. And astern of her was Marks,
the Lawyer, on his donkey. There was lots more behind him, but these
was all I had time to see jest then.

Now, there was but one way for Booth Hank to git acrost that street,
and that was to bust through the procession. And, as luck would have
it, the place he picked out to cross was jest ahead of the bloodhounds.
And the fust thing I knew, them dogs stretched out their noses and took
a long sniff, and then bu’st out howlin’ like all possessed. The boy,
he tried to hold ’em, but ’twas no go. They yanked the chains out of
his hands and took after that poet as if he owed ’em somethin’. And
every one of the four million other dogs that was in the crowd on the
sidewalks fell into line, and such howlin’ and yappin’ and scamperin’
and screamin’ you never heard.

Well, ’twas a mixed-up mess. That was the end of the parade. Next
minute I was racin’ across country with the whole town and the Uncle
Tommers astern of me, and a string of dogs stretched out ahead
fur’s you could see. ’Way up in the lead was Booth Montague and the
bloodhounds, and away aft I could hear Jonadab yellin’: “Stop thief!”

’Twas lively while it lasted, but it didn’t last long. There was a
little hill at the end of the field, and where the poet dove over
t’other side of it the bloodhounds all but had him. Afore I got to the
top of the rise I heard the awfullest powwow goin’ on in the holler,
and thinks I: “They’re eatin’ him alive!”

But they wa’n’t. When I hove in sight Montague was settin’ up on the
ground at the foot of the sand bank he’d fell into, and the two hounds
was rollin’ over him, lappin’ his face and goin’ on as if he was their
grandpa jest home from sea with his wages in his pocket. And round
them, in a double ring, was all the town dogs, crazy mad, and barkin’
and snarlin’, but scared to go any closer.

In a minute more the folks begun to arrive; boys first, then girls and
men, and then the women. Marks come trottin’ up, poundin’ the donkey
with his umbrella.

“Here, Lion! Here, Tige!” he yells. “Quit it! Let him alone!” Then he
looks at Montague, and his jaw kind of drops.

“Why--why, _Hank_!” he says.

A tall, lean critter, in a black tail coat and a yaller vest and
lavender pants, comes puffin’ up. He was the manager, we found out
afterward.

“Have they bit him?” says he. Then he done jest the same as Marks; his
mouth opened and his eyes stuck out. “_Hank Schmults_, by the livin’
jingo!” says he.

Booth Montague looks at the two of ’em kind of sick and lonesome.
“Hello, Barney! How are you, Sullivan?” he says.

I thought ’twas about time for me to git prominent. I stepped up, and
was jest goin’ to say somethin’ when somebody cuts in ahead of me.

“Hum!” says a voice, a woman’s voice, and toler’ble crisp and vinegary.
“Hum! it’s you, is it? I’ve been lookin’ for _you_!”

’Twas Little Eva in the pony cart. Her lovely posy hat was hangin’ on
the back of her neck, her gold hair had slipped back so’s you could see
the black under it, and her beautiful red cheeks was kind of streaky.
She looked some older and likewise mad.

“Hum!” says she, gittin’ out of the cart. “It’s you, is it, Hank
Schmults? Well, p’r’aps you’ll tell me where you’ve been for the last
two weeks? What do you mean by runnin’ away and leavin’ your----”

Montague interrupted her. “Hold on, Maggie, hold on!” he begs. “_Don’t_
make a row here. It’s all a mistake; I’ll explain it to you all right.
Now, please----”

“Explain!” hollers Eva, kind of curlin’ up her fingers and movin’
toward him. “Explain, will you? Why, you miser’ble, low-down----”

But the manager took hold of her arm. He’d been lookin’ at the crowd,
and I cal’late he saw that here was the chance for the best kind of
an advertisement. He whispered in her ear. Next thing I knew she
clasped her hands together, let out a scream and runs up and grabs the
celebrated British poet round the neck.

“Booth!” says she. “My husband! Saved! Saved!”

And she went all to pieces and cried all over his necktie.

And then Marks trots up the child, and that young one hollers: “Papa!
papa!” and tackles Hank around the legs. And I’m blessed if Montague
don’t slap his hand to his forehead, and toss back his curls, and look
up at the sky, and sing out: “My wife and babe! Restored to me after
all these years! The heavens be thanked!”

Well, ’twas a sacred sort of time. The town folks tiptoed away, the
men lookin’ solemn but glad, and the women swabbin’ their deadlights
and sayin’ how affectin’ ’twas, and so on. Oh, you could see that show
would do bus’ness _that_ night, if it never did afore.

The manager got after Jonadab and me later on, and did his best to pump
us, but he didn’t find out much. He told us that Montague b’longed to
the Uncle Tom’s Cabin Company, and that he’d disappeared a fortni’t or
so afore, when they were playin’ at Hyannis. Eva was his wife, and the
child was their little boy. The bloodhounds knew him, and that’s why
they chased him so.

“What was you two yellin’ ‘Stop thief!’ after him for?” says he. “Has
he stole anything?”

We says: “No.”

“Then what did you want to get him for?” he says.

“We didn’t,” says Jonadab. “We wanted to git rid of him. We don’t want
to see him no more.”

You could tell that the manager was puzzled, but he laffed.

“All right,” says he. “If I know anything about Maggie--that’s Mrs.
Schmults--he won’t git loose ag’in.”

We only saw Montague to talk to but once that day. Then he peeked out
from under the winder shade at the hotel and asked us if we’d told
anybody where’d he been. When he found we hadn’t, he was thankful.

“You tell Petey,” says he, “that he’s won the whole pot, kitty and all.
I don’t think I’ll visit him again, nor Belle, neither.”

“I wouldn’t,” says I. “They might write to Maudina that you was a
married man. And old Stumpton’s been prayin’ for somethin’ alive to
shoot at,” I says.

The manager give Jonadab and me a couple of tickets, and we went to the
show that night. And when we saw Booth Hank Montague paradin’ about the
stage and defyin’ the slave hunters, and tellin’ ’em he was a free man,
standin’ on the Lord’s free soil, and so on, we realized ’twould have
been a crime to let him do anything else.

“As an imitation poet,” says Jonadab, “he was a kind of mildewed
article, but as a play actor--well, there may be some that can beat
him, but _I_ never see ’em!”



[Illustration]

AS IT ENDED


  God planned me for a butterfly,
    But I was marred i’ the making;
  What is it that old Omar says
    Of the Potter’s hand a-shaking?
  Ah, no, not that, the colors ran,
    The form turned out awry,
  And so I’m what they call a man
    Who’d be a butterfly.

            FARRINGDON DAVIS.



_The TEARS of UNDINE_

By

Edith Macvane

[Illustration]


In the morning young Glyn lost his steamer, so he was forced to spend
the whole day at Pemaquid; in the afternoon he lost his heart, so he
was forced to stay there for his entire vacation.

This is the way it happened.

After luncheon he went out to sit all by himself on the end of the
pier, with a book on “Recent Developments in Dairy Machinery”; for
Glyn was a young patent lawyer, a very rising one, in the city of New
York; and, as he had failed to find one familiar face in this far-away
Maine resort, it seemed to him that he could do nothing better with
his time of waiting than devote it to his business. So he sat deep in
study, lifting an eye occasionally to the granite cliffs, the dark,
ancient fir trees, and the bay with its distant rim of purple-shadowed
hills; while the old fisherman beside him smoked his pipe placidly, and
the noisy crowd of bathers in by the shore splashed one another with
screams of mirth. The student sighed occasionally, for, though a lawyer
and a good one, he was still young; then he reproved himself for his
sighing, for he aimed to be rather superior, and was also, as a matter
of fact, rather shy.

Suddenly a shower of scattering drops fell cold upon his neck and
glittered upon the page before him. He started and looked up; the sky
was blue and cloudless, his ancient neighbor as placid as the day
itself. Then it seemed to him that he heard a laugh, the merest tinkle
of a laugh, from somewhere below the wharf; and, starting to his feet
and looking downward, he beheld a mermaid floating in the water beneath
him.

She lay slim and green upon the gentle harbor swell, her white arms
outstretched, her eyelids closed, her wet, upturned face framed by the
floating wreaths of dark hair that coiled and rippled in the water
about her. Suddenly she threw up her hands and sank slowly, vanishing
with a cloud of little bubbles. Glyn started back, horror-smitten. He
was not much of a swimmer, even in the warm waters of the Sound; and
this North Atlantic water chilled his very eyes with its icy-green
transparency.

Nevertheless, under the racial impulse of the life-saver, he threw off
his coat and swung his arms preparatory to a jump. Suddenly the hoary
and languid old sea dog by his side reached out a slow, restraining
hand.

“Don’t go wettin’ yourself for nothing young fellah! That girl, she’s a
fish. Watch and see her come up again.”

In a cold perspiration of anxiety the young man waited for a
fulfillment of these words. The suspense seemed endless, till suddenly,
and at an amazing distance, the waters heaved and parted, and the
swimmer’s sleek dark head emerged like a seal’s. Back she came to the
wharf, swimming with strokes like those of an oarsman--easy, long and
sure. At the end of the pier she paused and clung to the foot of the
slippery green steps that ran down the side of the piles, and, resting
her chin upon her clasped arms, she glanced up at the two men above
her like a severe and dripping cherub. The old fisherman returned to
his line, but the student, flinging away his book, ran down the oozy
staircase to meet her.

“May I--may I be of any assistance to you?” he inquired, with eager
politeness.

She continued to look up at him with the same disapproving air. “You
didn’t jump in after me, did you?” she observed, suddenly.

“Well, no,” returned Glyn, somewhat dazed at this greeting. “You see, I
was told that you could swim.”

She glared up at the unobserving fisherman. “That was Ben--old
tattle-tale!” she hissed; then, turning back to the young man, she
inquired, with sudden pathos: “And how should you have felt if I had
never come up again?”

“Like a murderer,” replied Stephen Glyn, solemnly. The answer seemed to
please her, for she relaxed her frown. “Oh, well, you are all right,
anyway,” she was good enough to observe, as she loosed her hold upon
the step and swam slowly away to the shore.

So when the afternoon steamer left Pemaquid, one hour later, it left
without Stephen Glyn.

He told himself that the air of this sea-girt promontory was just the
thing for him: good chance to learn to swim; quiet place, capital
chance to study and get at the bottom of those dairy implements. As
for the girl--she was pretty to look at, to be sure, with her big
green eyes and the glancing motions of her long white hands beneath
the water. But still what did the prettiness of a passing girl matter
to a prosaic fellow like him? “Besides,” as Stephen added, wisely, to
himself, “I’m too old for nonsense, and too young for business--so
what’s the use?”

And so, being in this indifferent frame of mind, he spent an hour in
putting on his newest English flannels and the very latest thing in
pale green shirts, and then, upon descending to the dining room, he
bribed the waiter to give him a seat at the next table to his casual
acquaintance of the pier; merely, as he told himself, out of curiosity
to see how she looked with her hair dry.

In spite of all this indifference, there was a distinct sinking at
Glyn’s heart when at last she came, passed by him, seated herself at
her table without even a glance in his direction. She seemed in high
spirits, she ate with a remarkable appetite, and she talked and laughed
incessantly with the large, pink-faced lady on her right and the jolly
youth in a blue necktie on her left. All Glyn’s honest Harvard blood
rose and boiled within him at the sight of that blue necktie--merely,
he assured himself, at the thought of recent football scores. As for
the girl, what did it matter to him if she let a dozen Yale men tell
her jokes and crack her lobster claws for her?

It must be confessed, however, even by the most disapproving and
indifferent critic, that she was charming to look upon, with her thick
hair--yellow with greenish lights--and her warm, white skin, tanned by
the sun to the pale brown of coffee with cream in it. So after dinner,
when a half dozen other youths had dispossessed the Yale man of his
monopoly, Glyn strolled up to him and inquired whether he had not seen
him at New London the month before.

The Yale man replied to these overtures of friendship with the offer of
his cigarette case, his name and the secrets of his heart. “I’m Martin,
’05,” he confided. “Ever been in New Haven? Best place on earth! I
say, how do you like Pemaquid--how long are you going to stay? There
are some ripping girls here. At least, there’s Elfie May, that girl I
sat next to at the table. Notice her? A queen, isn’t she? And you just
ought to see her swim! But she throws a fellow down so. I guess I’ll
go home to-morrow.” The blithe face drew down into sudden sadness--ah,
poor little Yale man!

“The girl that sat next to you at dinner,” mused Glyn. “Ah, yes. I
think I noticed her--rather good-looking, yes. New York girl?”

“No, Boston. Want me to introduce you?”

“If you will be so kind,” returned Glyn, with elation, and a sudden
softening of his heart toward the blue. Martin went over to the far
end of the piazza, where Miss May sat trailing her indifferent gaze
across her little court of admirers, and laughing lazily at their
witticisms and their compliments. As the Yale man spoke to her, Glyn
saw her glance flash for a brief instant in his direction, and he
started forward to meet his new friend halfway upon his return. But oh,
disappointment! “I’m so sorry,” said the pleasant little chap from New
Haven, “but she says no! I don’t know why, but she said it, just like
that--no!”

“It doesn’t matter in the least,” returned Glyn. “And thank you so much
for taking all that trouble.” He spoke gayly, but his hand trembled as
he tried to strike a light upon the side of his match case. “Here, let
me give you some fire, old chap,” cried his new acquaintance, genially.

That night Glyn did not sleep very well. Not that he cared one scrap
for a snub from a disagreeable, spoiled child! But deep down he
recognized what it was--the regretful ache, the yearning, baffled
tenderness that had newly filled his heart. He writhed in recollection
of the repulse he had received, and then forgot the pain in delight as
that glance came back to him, those eyes raised to him from the water,
eyes so thickly fringed, with dark irids rimmed in clear sea green.

Dawn broke early and brilliant; after that there was no sleep for
the restless newcomer, and suddenly it occurred to him that the best
plan--the most enjoyable and the most independent--would be to hire
a craft and go out for a day’s deep sea fishing, far from the jars
and distractions of the hotel. For though, like many sailors, he had
but little skill in swimming, he was excellent at managing a boat,
and fishing was one of his favorite sports. A descent to the pier, in
the long-shadowed quiet of the early morning, proved this plan easy
of fulfillment. Old Ben, the fisherman of the day before, was there
clearing out his tiny sloop, the _Fried Cod_. For a mildly exorbitant
sum he agreed to let the boat to the New York man for the day, provide
tackle, throw in bait, and give all necessary directions to the
fishing grounds.

So Glyn had a day of long-shore sport, of long waiting, of rolling in a
hot and oily sea, finally of hauling in fat, plobby fish--cod and hake,
which lacked blood to make even a decent fighting struggle for their
lives. Then in the calm of the sunset the _Fried Cod_ drifted back with
the tide into the little harbor on the nose of the rocky promontory.
Her skipper worked lazily at the sweeps, keeping a dazzled eye out
ahead over the glassy reflection of the golden west which fronted
him. Suddenly, as he floated in between the breakwaters, it seemed to
him that he saw the head of a swimmer silhouetted blackly against the
sunlit water, approaching him from the shore in a wake of fire.

“Sloop ahoy!” called a slow, soft voice. Glyn jumped up, his heart
beating, and with a few more vigorous side strokes the swimmer shot to
the side of the little craft and blinked two clear wet eyes up at its
skipper.

“Please, may I come aboard for a moment?”

Glyn forgot all past injuries as he bent over the side of the boat,
beaming upon the face upturned to him from its aureole of ripples.

“Oh, I can climb up all right,” she cried, in answer to his offers of
aid, and with a quick, vaulting motion she swung herself up over the
gunwale of the little sloop. Seating herself upon the thwart, she threw
back her long, wet locks from her face, and shot a glance, half serious
and wholly sweet, at the young man before her.

“I’ve been waiting for you all day,” she said, plaintively. “Why didn’t
you come in sooner?”

Glyn regarded her in amazement.

“Well, you could hardly expect me to believe that I was wanted,” he
retorted, in a slightly aggrieved tone, remembering his wrongs of last
night.

She began to laugh softly--a long, noiseless chuckle that moved even
Glyn’s watchful dignity to a smile. “Oh, you mean last night.” Glyn
noticed that her voice was deep and smooth, with just the faintest
suspicion of hoarseness, and deep, mellow tones and overtones that
vibrated richly through its inflections. “Last night, you see, is just
what I want to explain,” she went on. “You see, that little Martin
thing has such a funny way of dropping his jaw when one says no to him,
that I just couldn’t resist. And, besides, you see, I didn’t want to
have him introducing us--little calf! So, if you don’t mind, I’ll just
introduce myself: Elfrida May, that’s my name.”

Glyn looked at her seriously as he set his tiller for a course to the
anchorage near the pier. “Thanks very much,” he returned, “but, if you
don’t mind, I should rather make believe it was Undine.”

“Undine!” she cried. “Who was Undine?”

“You don’t know about poor little Undine? Very well, then, I’ll tell
you her story some time. Now you must let me introduce myself, too.”

“Oh, I know your name, Mr. Glyn,” she cried, artlessly, and, extending
her wet hand, she gave him a hearty grip, like a man’s.

Suddenly her eye roved to the floor of the little cockpit, and her face
took on suddenly its severe lines of the day before. “Ah, they are
dead!” she whispered, in a kind of horrified way; then stooping, she
picked up one of the fish--a small cod, curved in a rigid bow from nose
to tail. She stroked its slippery back tenderly. “Poor little thing!”
she mourned.

Glyn stared at her bewildered. “Don’t you approve of fishing?” he asked.

“No, I don’t!” she replied, with vehemence. “I won’t eat them, even
canned! I’d feel like a cannibal! Poor things! To drown in the lovely
green water--that wouldn’t be bad. But to be pulled out of the sea, and
drown in the air, think how horridly unpleasant! Do you mind if I put
them back again, please?” she asked, anxiously.

“Certainly not,” replied Glyn, though, as a matter of fact, he was
particularly fond of fresh boiled cod, and also proud of his morning’s
catch.

One by one the tender-hearted pirate dropped the motionless things
softly into the sea; they sank heavily, and then rose, floating
with white bellies upturned. Her eyes, as she regarded them, were
surprisingly soft and tender. “Poor things,” she murmured, “they can’t
swim any more, but I am sure that they must rest easier so. Thank you,
Mr. Glyn, for giving them back to me.”

And so their friendship began, in bewilderment and mutual good will.

Now, much can happen in a month, and as July drew near to a close
Stephen no longer tried to disguise from himself the change that had
come into his life. The question that unceasingly knocked at his brain
was no longer “Do I care for her?” but “Does she, oh, can she possibly,
care for me!” The very intensity with which he put this question to
himself made him delay, from day to day, the crucial test of putting
it to the only person that could decide it for him. So he relieved his
feelings by sending every week to Maillard’s for a huge box wrapped in
silver paper; and every morning he waited with impatient heart upon the
pier for the coming of that slim and dancing figure with the long green
silk legs, the cream-white arms and the flying strands of pale yellow
hair, that fell to the hem of the short green petticoat.

Her skill in the water was to him a constant wonder, a constant
delight. His own attempts at diving and swimming he soon gave up,
finding this northern water too cold for him; and so, in spite of
Elfrida’s gibes, he sat on the dock and watched her as she took
backward somersaults and dead-man dives and went down below in search
of sinking clam shells. Her high jump from the piles, holding up her
little skirt with a dainty hand, and winking blithely as she descended,
was a thing long to be remembered for sheer mirth, for frank, childish
joy. Yet it was then that Stephen sighed as he regarded her. After
all, was it a woman he loved, with a warm human heart to respond to
his own; or a careless mermaid, a cold creature, whose sole joy was
thus dancing, plunging, flashing through the foam of the white, curling
waves?

So far as he could judge, there was no real affection in her heart
except this for her friend, the sea. Toward her mother, a heavy, placid
woman with literary pretensions, Elfrida was kind in an impersonal,
far-off sort of way; to the other girls in the hotel--who respected her
for her high dives and hated her for her monopoly of the few men at
Pemaquid--she seemed indifferent, with a kind of mocking politeness;
while toward her little court of admirers she showed a capricious
tyranny, at times almost savage. To these things even the adoring eyes
of Stephen Glyn could not be blind; and one day when, owing to a severe
headache of her mother’s, she was obliged to forego her swim, and
appeared at dinner a muttering thundercloud, it was impossible for even
the most ardent of adorers to pass by these signs without a sigh.

True, she had shown a tender heart toward the lifeless cod and hake;
and sometimes, as she looked at the sea, in the uproar of a summer
squall or in the silvery silence of a fog, Glyn would be startled by
the look that suddenly crept into her eyes.

“Ah!” she breathed one evening, as they sat together watching the
sunset from the pier. “Ah, it wouldn’t be hard to die, would it, if
one could lie at the bottom of the sea?” Glyn grunted uncomfortably in
answer, and tried to look as though he agreed with this sentiment.

The next day, when they were out canoeing together, Elfrida surprised
him by reverting suddenly to one of the first conversations of their
acquaintance. “You said you were going to tell me about Undine,” she
said, “but you haven’t--not a word.”

Glyn sighed as he regarded her. She had been unusually tantalizing,
not to say aggravating, that afternoon, and his honest heart was sore
within him. But what better mood, what better occasion, for relating
the story of the unfortunate water nymph, from the time she first
appeared in the hut of the old fisherman, a light-hearted, soulless
child, to the unhappy hour when, abandoned by the man she loved, she
vanished silently into her native element--“a woman gifted with a
soul, filled with love and heir to suffering.”

It was but recently that Stephen had read the story, and he told it
well, for, though a lawyer, he was in love, and he had a poetical soul.
Elfrida listened in silence, her face turned away, her hand trailing in
the still water beside her. After the story-teller had finished, there
was a pause.

“Well,” said Stephen, disappointed, “didn’t you like it?”

Elfrida glanced up at him--a quick, irresolute glance, quite unlike
her usual frank gaze. She seemed about to speak, but to Glyn’s
disappointment she turned away her head again, so that her face was
hidden from him. With her trailing hand she drew a long, dripping spray
of brown seaweed from the water.

“What did Undine gain, after all,” she said, “by leaving the sea?”

“She learned how to love, and she won a soul,” responded Stephen,
leaning toward her. “Don’t you think that she was the gainer, after
all?”

She suddenly flung away the seaweed. “No, I don’t!” she cried,
passionately. “In the sea she had freedom and happiness! But love--what
did she find it, after all, but a miserable slavery? And she got her
heart broken in the end. No, indeed, you can’t make me pity her--she
was just silly, your Undine!”

Nothing more was spoken as they paddled to the shore. Glyn was hurt,
disappointed; and Elfrida kept her face still turned away.

The next morning, however, Glyn was more disappointed than ever; for
when he came down to breakfast he failed to find the one face that he
desired to see. From Mrs. May he learned that Elfrida had gone out for
a day’s sail with young Martin and two or three others. So he moped
about all day, smoking and trying to read his “Dairy Machinery,” now
sadly rusty. And from time to time he was drawn unwillingly into the
universal discussion on costumes for the coming dance and masquerade.

Toward evening Elfrida and her companions returned. In spite of her
day’s amusement, her face wore its severe expression, and she glanced
at him without a smile as she passed him on the piazza.

“You’ve been here all day, I suppose,” she said, with an inflection of
resentment in her tone. “Just think, a great big man like you afraid to
go into the sea!”

Before Glyn could open his mouth to defend himself she was gone. But
after dinner she came to him with a shy, suspicious air, and a touch of
mystery that was explained by her first words.

“See here,” she said, softly, “this masquerade. I’ve been thinking it
over, and I think if I can manage it, I want to go as Undine, you know.”

Stephen was filled with delight. “And you’ll let me help plan your
dress?” he cried.

Elfie nodded, and offered her ideas on the subject to the approval
of his authority. The young man listened, offered suggestions here
and there, and then, with a sudden backward thought, he remembered
a trinket in his possession--a little pearl bracelet, a trifle, but
beyond anything appropriate to the costume in hand. Within himself he
resolved to send home immediately for it, and to present it to Elfrida
on the night of the dance.

In the days that followed it seemed to him that he saw strangely little
of her, and the little that he did see was less than satisfactory. Her
absence from the piazza, and her refusals to go paddling with him, she
excused on the plea of being busy with her new costume. But even on the
pier at the bathing hour she seemed to shun him, or noticed him only
with jeers and gibes at what she called his laziness.

“Ah, can anybody have a soul that is afraid of the sea?” she cried.
“Come, Mr. Martin, let us race over to the monument!” With a splash and
a flounce the two set out together, the green bathing dress and the
triumphant blue; while Glyn sat alone on the wharf with a leaden heart
and rage at his soul.

This state of affairs had very little altered when at last the day of
the dance arrived. A hundred times in the interim had Stephen resolved
to give up the whole affair and go home; but then he decided to wait
and see this new Undine in the flesh. To his anxiety, the bracelet had
not yet arrived; nor did it come until the last post on the evening
of the dance, after everybody had gone upstairs to dress. In joyful
relief, Stephen slipped the little box in the pocket of his improvised
admiral’s costume, and ran downstairs to the hall to wait for the
coming of his Undine.

Elfrida did not appear till late, when the room was filled with
whirling harlequins and Pompadours and Swiss peasant maidens. The
admiral stood by the door, waiting for her, his little box in his
hand and his heart in his mouth. Finally, as though she had been on
the watch to avoid him, he saw her enter the hall by one of the long
windows opening from the veranda without. In spite of his vexation, he
could not but smile with sheer pleasure at the sight of her, as her
eyes and her white teeth flashed a smile upon the room. In her pale,
sea-green draperies, dragging heavily at the hem with a fragile border
of urchin shells, her creamy neck and shoulders bare, her flowing
yellow hair bound and wreathed with strands of dark, wet seaweed--oh,
she was pretty, indeed! Stephen sprang forward.

“Good-evening, Undine! Here--I have something for you, will you let me
give it to you? A little ornament to complete your costume.”

“You may give it to me later,” she replied, with an indifference that
chilled and baffled him; and he watched her miserably as she swung
off into the two-step with a tall, sunburned youth from Boston--a
conceited-looking pup, Glyn told himself, in a vain attempt at
consolation.

The evening was half over before he managed to get near her again. “Our
dance, Mr. Glyn,” she cried, taking his arm and smiling up at him. Her
eyebrows, which, in spite of her fair hair, were black and thickly
ridged, were arched high in the mocking expression that he hated to see
upon her face. She was in wild spirits, gay with the evening’s success,
fluttered with a reckless and inconsequent laughter that set the
fibers of her lover’s heart quivering painfully.

“Let’s go down on the breakwater,” she said, “instead of dancing. It’s
so hot here.” Bewildered and obedient, Stephen followed her, and a few
moments later they were sitting side by side at the end of the moonlit
pier.

“Doesn’t the water look nice?” cried Elfie, bending over it lovingly.
“For two cents, I’d jump into it this very moment.”

“Please don’t!” expostulated Stephen, in alarm. She turned her bright
eyes toward him.

“What did you say you had for me?” she said.

Half shamefacedly, Stephen drew from his pocket the little box that
he had received a few hours before. “Just a trifle,” he said, “that
I picked up in Swabia a few years ago. See!” He opened the cover and
took out a slender string of fresh-water pearls set in silver, some
milk-white, some shimmering prismatically in the moonlight.

“Oh, how lovely!” cried Elfie, with artless delight. “And they’re for
me?”

“If you’ll take them,” replied Stephen, hurriedly. “You see, they are
perfectly valueless little things--but the reason I wanted you to wear
them was because, you see, they really belong to you. These pearls are
found in one of the headwaters of the Danube, in Undine’s own country.
The peasants say they are the drops that Undine wept after she had
returned heartbroken to her water world. And so they call these pearls
the tears of Undine. Will you have them, Undine?”

He bent toward her tenderly, and she held out her hand with a
constrained gesture. “This Undine doesn’t intend to shed any tears
of her own,” she answered, “and so, I suppose, that these drops will
save her a lot of trouble. Thanks! Yes, do clasp it on. Thank you very
much.” She tried to pull her hand away, but Stephen retained it in his
own.

“I love you. Don’t you care a bit for me, Elfie?” he blurted,
desperately. “Elfie, will you be my wife?”

She snatched her hand away this time, and scrambled to her feet. “Oh,”
she cried, “_don’t_ be silly, _don’t_ be sentimental--here by the
lovely, sensible sea, too!” Stephen rose and stood staring at her, and
she went on with a hurried laugh: “Thank you very much, Mr. Glyn, and
now that I have had a proposal, I shall always be a bachelor-lady, and
shan’t ever have to worry about being an old maid. And the pearls are
lovely, but I never intend to marry anyone--and now, oh, _do_ let’s go
into that dear black water.”

She stood, a lovely, pale figure in the moonlight, embarrassed,
half-laughing, while her green eyes shot out and streamed a reckless
gleam at the young man standing dejected before her. “Do you dare me?”
she cried.

Stephen saw that in her present daredevil mood she was equal to
anything. “No, please don’t!” he cried. “This time of night, in all
those long draperies, it wouldn’t be safe--please don’t!”

“Not safe for Undine?” she laughed, defiantly. “Pooh, who’s afraid?”
Stephen put out his hand to restrain her, but she laughed again--one of
her long, silent chuckles. “Such a grand chance to show off. I’m not
going to miss it!” she cried, and, eluding Stephen’s touch, she sprang
like a long, silvery streak over the edge of the breakwater into the
phosphorescent blackness beneath. In wrath and anxiety, the young man
waited until her head emerged in a whirlpool of silvery fire.

“You are quite safe, Elfie?” he called, anxiously.

Her wild, careless laughter answered him. “Come in, the water’s fine.
Come in; oh, come in! I dare you! I dare you!”

She swam off toward the moonlight with powerful side strokes, hardly
diminished by her encumbering drapery. “I dare you!” she cried again.

No flesh and blood, not even of the most prudent young lawyer in New
York, could withstand such a challenge. Heedless of consequences,
Stephen flung himself over into the dark. The water was cold, his
clothes were heavy; but he struck out valiantly. “Come on, oh, come
on!” called the voice, far away on the surface of the water, and he
strained every tendon to follow. A canoe drifted out slowly from
somewhere--he didn’t know where--then it seemed to draw nearer, or
else to disappear--he didn’t know which. The water was icy cold, his
breath drew thick, his limbs, unaccustomed either to the cold or to
the unwonted strain, were wrenched with a sudden muscular agony, and
seemed to pass from his ownership and his control. Still, in the white
moonlight before him, the black streak that he was following moved
steadily along. He cursed himself as an effeminate monkey--“beaten by a
girl!”

Then girls and Undines, farming implements and crystal palaces, whirled
and shimmered dimly before his eyes. All he wanted was to rest--just
a chance to rest! And, throwing out both arms, he gave himself up
helplessly to the water.


II.

It was late the next morning when Martin thrust his cheerful little
face in at the door of Stephen Glyn’s room at the hotel.

“Well, how are you to-day?” cried the newcomer. “Gee, that was a narrow
squeak you had last night, and no mistake!”

Stephen woke with a start, and turned in a dim and growing amazement
at the stiffness of his limbs, the painful heaviness of his breath.
Slowly, as the little Yale man sat chattering by his bed, the troubled
events of the night before came back to him--the foolhardy plunge
from the breakwater, the interval of blank nothingness, the agonized
struggle back into life, the hands working at his chest and his limbs;
then the slow opening of his eyelids under the frightened face of young
Martin, bending over him.

“Yes, I did make an ass of myself, and no mistake,” he mused, aloud, in
a hoarse and broken voice.

“Nonsense!” cried Martin. “A cramp--why, that’s likely to come over
anybody. No one could laugh at you for having a cramp; though Miss
May----” he stopped short, with a half-embarrassed laugh.

“What about Miss May?” asked Stephen, trying to conceal the agitation
he felt.

“Why, nothing. Only, I met her just now going out to sail with some
of the fellows. They all stopped to ask how you were. She didn’t say
a word--stood there looking queer, somehow. So I told them you were
feeling better this morning with all the water pumped out of you; and
she began to laugh; didn’t say a word, just stood and laughed, till,
upon my word, I thought she was going to cry. She’s a funny one and no
mistake--half fish, I call her.”

Glyn was silent. So this was the way that his narrow escape from
drowning appeared to Elfrida--to her for whom he had risked not only
his life, but his dignity as well.

“Can I do anything for you, old chap?” asked the other, with
good-natured solicitude.

“Thanks, I think you have done quite enough for me already.”

“Pshaw!” cried Martin, rising in the alarm of approaching thanks. “It
was nothing. And now I’ve got to be going downstairs. As for you, my
boy, you’d better lie still to-day. You don’t want to get pneumonia out
of this, do you?”

But in spite of timely warnings, in spite of aching limbs and a dizzy
head, it was not very long after this that Stephen rose, dressed
himself and went slowly downstairs. From the few people sitting about
on the piazza waiting for lunch--ladies with toy poodles, old gentlemen
with newspapers--Glyn received congratulations on his escape, and
remarks of a more or less trying facetiousness. Of course Elfrida was
not there; of course she had not yet returned from her sail. And even
if she had, what difference should it make to him?

So he strolled down on the rocks toward the breakwater with a rather
slow and uncertain step. His heart was sore within him. The future
was dim; in the present, one fact only stood out with dreary
distinctness--he had given the best love of his life where return was
not only denied, but, from the nature of things, impossible. As well
toss a rose in a monkey cage as bestow a living heart on a perverse and
freakish child like Elfrida, who regarded the gift merely as the means
of a moment’s amusement, to be picked to pieces and then tossed to the
ground. After all, was she a woman, or, as Martin had said, a wild
creature, half human and half fish, for the possession of whom it was
useless to contend with her cold and tempestuous lover, the sea?

He caught himself almost shaking his fist in a helpless rage of
jealousy at the little green waves that lapped at his feet. “Rubbish!”
he said to himself, in scorn at the fanciful absurdity of his notion.
But then, as the scene of last night came back to him, he shook his
head in mournful bewilderment.

A light clatter of stones on the breakwater above his head roused him
from his reverie. Looking up, he saw a white figure hurrying silently
along. “Good-morning,” he called, with a wild hope that his thoughts
had translated themselves into the wild, living embodiment. There was
no answer. “Miss May, is that you?” he called again.

There was a moment’s pause, then Elfrida’s face, white and severe,
appeared over the stone coping. “I didn’t intend that you should hear
me pass,” she said, frowning. “It was these hateful old stones that
gave me away.”

Glyn’s heart contracted. Was his presence so disagreeable to her,
then, that she chid the very stones that betrayed her presence to
him? Then concern for his own pain was lost in sudden concern for the
unsteadiness of her position.

“Take care, please! Those stones are loose where you are standing, I
can see from below here.”

She smiled willfully. “Thank you, Mr. Glyn, I am quite secure. You see,
this breakwater is a friend of mine. It would never go back on _me_.”

In her words, as in her smile, Glyn found an echo of that laughter
with which earlier in the day she had greeted Martin’s story of his
narrow encounter with death. “Yes,” he replied, with a bitter sinking
of the heart, “I did make rather an ass of myself last night, didn’t I?”

She laughed abruptly, but made no reply. Glyn stood looking up at her
as she stood on the barrier of loose stones above his head--shading her
eyes with the book that she held in her hand, looking out over the sea.
A sense of his own helplessness rocked Glyn’s soul in a sudden rage. He
wanted her, oh, he wanted her, as she stood there, cold and immovable,
defended at every point by her own scornful ignorance of common human
emotion, unassailed even by the twin lords of mankind, Love and Death,
which had so newly brushed closely past her.

Suddenly she started and turned to meet his gaze with half-startled,
inscrutable eyes. “The tide is on the turn,” she said, in a
quick-breathed undertone--then the stone under her foot slipped and
settled, she flung out her arms to steady herself, and barely recovered
her balance as she swayed for an instant on the edge of the rough stone
parapet. In wild anxiety Glyn sprang forward, heedless of her book,
which fell fluttering past his head.

“Take care!” he cried. “Take care!”

She smiled down at him, her lips a little white, but otherwise
perfectly composed. “It’s too bad,” she said. “From the first day I met
you, I am always frightening you to death, Mr. Glyn.”

Was she thinking of his failure of the night before? Glyn’s heart
quivered with mortification. “Yes,” he said; “it’s easy to frighten me,
you see.”

She laughed again--a little, quick, troubled laugh. “But I didn’t come
down here to see you, you know, Mr. Glyn,” she said. “I was going out
on the end of the breakwater to read for a little while, till lunch
time--I didn’t expect to see you, you know.”

Why need she disclaim so eagerly any wish to see him? thought Glyn to
himself. Not much danger of his flattering himself to the contrary. So
he bowed with as much composure as he could muster.

“Certainly,” he replied; “and I am very sorry to have intruded upon
your solitude. But let me see, your book--it fell past me just now, I
think.”

He turned to search among the bowlders which lay strewed about him.
Suddenly Elfrida’s voice came to him, strained and high.

“Mr. Glyn,” she said, “please don’t take any trouble about my book.”

He paused, perplexed. “It’s no trouble, Miss May, I assure you. Look! I
can see it there between the bowlders in the seaweed--a new book, isn’t
it? Here, let me give it to you.”

He took a step toward it. “Mr. Glyn!” cried Elfrida. “You mustn’t--you
mustn’t! I forbid you to touch my book!”

Glyn turned and gazed up at her. She was leaning down toward him from
the rough masonry above, her hands stretched out, her face flushed to
a bright crimson, her eyes sparkling, wide open, filled with anger and
with something else besides--misgiving and something that was almost
like fear.

“Mr. Glyn!” she repeated, violently. “Please go away now, please! And
let me come down and pick up my book myself!”

Glyn looked up at her, at her face, wild, beautiful and threatening,
bent down toward him. So her scorn for him was so deep, her detestation
so entire, that he was not to be permitted to touch so much as the book
that had fallen from her hand.

Now, at last, beyond a doubt, he had his answer. He stood silent
for a moment, looking dumbly first at the half-soaked volume almost
hidden among the seaweed, then at the head above him, so lovely and so
carelessly terrible, bright and golden against the blue background of
the sky.

“Miss May,” he said, “believe me, I had no intention of intruding on
you. I beg your pardon, and--good-by, Elfie!”

       *       *       *       *       *

Now, the solitary steamer that calls at Pemaquid makes her single trip
in the morning; the overland route to the distant railway station is
so hilly and rough as to be almost impossible to the few aged horses in
the village; hence there are difficulties in the way of anybody who is
resolved to take his departure from Pemaquid immediately after lunch.
“It’s too bad,” drawled old Ben, in sympathetic reply to Stephen’s
eager inquiries, “but, you see, down East here nobody ain’t ever in a
hurry. We hev all the time they is. In the West, of course, I know it’s
different. I suppose, naow, in N’ York you have a train every hour in
the day, don’t you?”

Stephen stood helpless. To remain another day in Pemaquid, after what
had happened, was to him an impossibility; and yet how to escape? His
eye fell on a small fishing schooner at the end of the wharf, the only
boat of seagoing size that the place boasted. Her sails were hoisted
and two men were working at her anchor. A sudden idea came to Stephen.
“Couldn’t I hire that boat,” he said, “to sail me over to Boothbay
Harbor?”

Old Ben began to laugh. “Couldn’t you hire a whale?” he said. “That
boat, she’s the _Twin Sisters_, and she belongs to my brother-in-law,
Jabez Hooper, and he’s sot in his ways, like the old monument over
there. This is the day he’s goin’ swordfishin’ in her; and now he’s
p’inted her nose for ’Tit Menan, it would take more money than you
could find in six pots o’ gold to git him to p’int her to the west’ard
for you instead.”

Stephen grasped eagerly at the idea. A few more weeks away from his
work--what did it matter now, after all, in the emptiness of the dog
days? “Swordfishing? Just the thing! Do you think he’d take me with
him?”

“_As_ a passenger?” asked the cautious Ben.

“A passenger? Certainly. I’ll pay him anything in reason.”

To this proposition the old longshoreman gave a grudging and
indifferent assent; then gleefully pushed out in a dory to arrange
terms with his relative and wrangle about the amount of commission
which his own enterprise was to receive; while Stephen went back to
the hotel to pack up a few necessaries for the trip and arrange with
the landlady for the storage of his luggage till his return.

A hurried inquiry brought forth the information that Martin had gone
out sailing, together with most of the others. “Miss May, she’s gone,
too,” remarked the woman, with the faint and flickering ghost of a
smile. “They’ll all be _real_ sorry to find you turn up missin’ when
they come back, I’m sure of that.”

Glyn left a hastily scribbled note for Martin, and hurried down to the
pier, with strength restored to his limbs and hope to his heart by
this unlooked for and novel means of escape. On the deck of this rough
fishing boat he might escape from the fancied chains which had weighed
him down to the unmanly servitude here in Pemaquid. Here on the sea
he might find “the world of men for a man”; the world of hand-to-hand
struggle with forces unchanged since the earth was made; the wind, the
water, the sharp necessities of the chase. Here, if anywhere, was the
path of deliverance from the chimera of Unfulfilled Desire.


III.

It was nearly three weeks later that the _Twin Sisters_ rounded
Allen’s Island--traveling, as her skipper said, “with a bone in her
mouth”--and set her homeward course across the windy and sparkling
waters of Muscongus Bay. In the stern the steersman flung his weight on
the wheel; in the bow lay Stephen, his hand closed upon the helplessly
fluttering leaves of his “Dairy Machinery,” his eyes fixed upon the
mound of glittering green foam that swept in perpetual advance of the
vessel’s bow.

Through his mind flitted a shifting retrospect of these last weeks upon
the sea--the rushing voyage through rock-sown bays and windy fairways;
the days of creaking rise-and-fall upon the heavy swell of a dead
and scorching sea, or of groping for buoys through the blind white
fog; nights under the starlight, nights when the wild summer rain had
driven him for shelter to the hot and evil-smelling cabin of the little
schooner. And, above all, the ceaseless watch for the great fish that
they had come to hunt, the tense excitement of the signal, the swift
dark flight of the harpoon; then the breathless chase of the flying
keg that marked the flight of the frenzied monster across the sea.
In their wild hunts Stephen had shown a reckless audacity, a rapidly
acquired skill, that gradually commanded the respect of the cynical and
indifferent Captain Jabez himself. “Y’ain’t so bad, for a rusticator,”
was his outspoken praise. Stephen sighed in helpless irritation; after
all, what was the use of pretending to himself that it was the respect
of his fellow man for which he exerted himself in these strenuous
exertions to show nautical strength and skill? What was the use, after
all, of leaving Pemaquid at all, so long as the very sea foam itself
brought him a fantastic vision of white arms flashing from the water,
and each curling green wave recalled to him a pair of eyes deeper and
more transparent than the sea itself?

“Spoony!” hissed Stephen, in fierce self-contempt, when suddenly the
skipper raised a languid cry from the stern.

“There’s the old p’int, Stephen, if you want to see it.”

Sure enough, there were the high brown walls of Pemaquid, bare to the
wind and the surrounding ocean. In spite of himself, Stephen’s heart
leaped up as he regarded it.

The wind calmed down with the approaching sunset as the _Twin Sisters_
floated slowly in between the breakwaters, recalling to Stephen that
first evening when his boat had been met and boarded by a wandering sea
nymph. This time the mirrored sunset was empty and bare, the harbor was
silent.

“Reckon they’re all busy with their fried lobster an’ hot biscuit, up
to the hotel,” remarked Captain Jabez, sourly, as he surveyed their
catch, laid out upon the deck--seven great swordfishes, black and
shapeless, like elongated kitchen stoves, their skin still glistening
from their icy bed in the vessel’s hold. “I thought we’d git a dozen,”
he remarked, discontentedly. “Mind, I tell you, it’s just my luck. A
catch like that makes me feel like all my folks was sick to home.”

Suddenly from the end of the breakwater a white figure started up, her
eyes shielded with a book, her hair reddened brilliantly by the sinking
sun.

“For the law’s sakes!” exclaimed Captain Jabez. “See, there’s
what’s-her-name, the fish girl, waitin’ to see us land!”

Stephen turned; the world was warm and smiling. Was she really waiting
for him? He waved his hat and cried to her. For a moment she stood,
white, slim and motionless; then, with a single gesture, lifeless and
perfunctory, she turned and walked slowly up to the hotel.

“Of course,” said Stephen to himself, in vain mockery at his own pain.
After all, what did it matter? Tomorrow he would leave it forever, this
cold and alluring coast of Maine; and with paved streets and the rush
of work would come forgetfulness.

Martin welcomed him warmly at the hotel. “Gee, you’re as brown as
a nut,” he said, “and old Jabez says you’re the best hand he ever
had--worth any two of these native loafers about here. Say, come and
sit at my table, and tell us about your trip.”

So, after Glyn had changed to the garb of civilization, he came down
and ate his supper, listening to the merry chatter of the little Yale
man. Elfrida bowed to him as he entered, but left the table soon after
he sat down. “I am going down to the breakwater, to look at those poor
swordfish that you killed,” she said, with some reproach, as she passed
by him. Her face was severe and unsmiling; it seemed to Glyn that she
was paler than usual, and her large eyes were faintly shadowed with
dark circles beneath their lids.

“What’s the matter with Miss May?” he asked Martin, abruptly.

The other turned his eyes from her retreating figure. “Oh, yes, I
forgot you’d been away. We’ve had great excitements since you were
gone, here at little Pemaquid.”

“What was the matter?” cried Stephen, while a thousand terrible
possibilities rose in his mind.

Martin began to laugh. “Oh, nothing very thrilling, that I could see.
But that girl--you know she’s a queen, but she’s half a freak, too--the
good half! Anyone that tries to understand her will have his job cut
out for life.”

Glyn raised his cup of tea carelessly. “But what did you say it was
that happened?”

“Why, this is the way it was--see if it doesn’t make you tired!
Everybody was talking about it. You remember that time last month when
you came so near your end, going in with her the night of the dance,
she never made a sound. And last week, when she lost a little trifling
bracelet in swimming--gee! she burst out crying right there on the pier
before everybody!”

A wild thought flitted into Stephen’s mind. “What kind of a bracelet
was it?” he inquired, with elaborate indifference.

“Nothing very much, to make a girl cry like that--a girl like Elfie,
too, the cold, superior, athletic kind. But, then, she’d been acting
queer for some time, didn’t you notice? No, it was since you went
away--nervous and quiet, and ready to snap your head off if you spoke
to her, always sitting down there on the breakwater, reading--Elfie
reading! Just fancy that! Gee! I never saw a girl change so quick
before.”

Stephen went on with his supper. “Well, did she find her bracelet?” he
inquired, carelessly.

“After the harbor was turned inside out--that’s the excitement, you
see. The whole town was out every day. Then she offered a reward--fifty
dollars; then a hundred. She wanted to send to Portland for divers.
But an old native chap found it at low tide--old Ben, you know, that
is always fishing there on the dock. So she paid him, on the nail--a
hundred plunks. And her mother said she couldn’t have any autumn
clothes, and she said she didn’t care one scrap.”

Stephen lit a cigarette with elaborate pains. “So, I suppose,” he
observed, tentatively, “that it was quite an elaborate bit of jewelry.”

“That’s the joke. A hundred dollars would have bought a dozen like
it--just clam pearls and silver. Say, it’s a peachy evening. Let’s go
and look up some of the crowd, and have a marshmallow toast on the
beach.”

Glyn rose. “I’m sorry, Martin, I have to go down and help my skipper
ashore with our catch. See you later--business, you see.”

“Three cheers for the bold fisherman!” grinned Martin, as Stephen
rushed from the hall with an eagerness which did credit to his sense of
duty toward Jabez.

Twilight was drawing down, damp and dusky, over rocks and harbor, as
Stephen hurried down to the breakwater. With swift precaution, he
stepped along over the loose stones--no one was there. He looked about
in desperate search. Then, in a little rocky nook at the extreme point,
he caught the glint of a familiar yellow head.

“Elfie!” he called, softly, as he hastened toward her. Her white
form rose up; she stood there looking at him, her book still in her
hand--looking at him silently.

As he joined her she laughed, a little, nervous laugh. “Oh, Mr. Glyn,
is that you?” she said. “And have you come to tell me about your
cruise?”

For a moment Stephen stood at a loss. Here before those clear cool
eyes, what Martin had told him seemed so absurd, so impossible. His
eyes fell upon the book in her hand. Suddenly, as he read the title in
the fading light, his heart beat again high and quick.

He put out his hand and gently took the volume from her. “I see that
you have been reading about Undine,” he said, tentatively.

She flushed a bright rose color; it was the second time he had ever
seen her color change. “Ah!” she cried, in a pale reflection of her old
mocking defiance. “The story you told me about--I’m sorry, you know,
but, really, I don’t find it very interesting.”

Stephen looked at her. “Elfie----” he said, but she stretched out
her hand in sudden embarrassment. “Give it back to me, please,” she
whispered. “I didn’t mean to be reading it now. Give it to me, please.”

For a moment Stephen stared at her, bewildered at this sudden intensity
of appeal. With her old impulsiveness, she flung out her arm to snatch
the betraying volume from his grasp. The laces of her sleeve fell back,
and there about her wrist Stephen beheld a bracelet--a string of large,
irregular pearls, rimmed and linked in silver.

He dropped the book and seized the hand in both of his own.

“So you still think of me sometimes, Elfie?”

She glanced up at him, frowning.

“Why did you go away without saying good-by to me last month?” she
asked, with her old air of severity.

“I didn’t want to bother you. I knew you didn’t care.” Beneath the
rigid inquisition of her gaze, Stephen stumbled over his words.

“You thought I didn’t care!” She turned her eyes away from him, and
twisted the bracelet upon her wrist. “Do _you_ care?” she asked,
abruptly.

“Elfrida, you know why I had to come back. You know that I care about
nothing else in the world but just you--dear, dearest little Elfie!”

She stepped back. “And yet,” she said, with a catch in her voice, “you
went away and left me.”

“But, Elfie dear, what else could I do? After you had laughed at me,
after you had refused to let me touch as much as your book when you
dropped it here on the beach!”

She began to laugh brokenly. “Don’t you understand?” she said, softly.
“I wasn’t going to let you know how silly I was. I couldn’t let you see
that I had sent for the book for myself--just because I wanted to read
again the story that you had told to me.”

“Elfie! My own dear Elfie!”

She raised her hand. “No, Stephen, one moment! Listen to me.” She
leaned toward him a little, standing there white and slender in the
gathering dusk, while Stephen listened eagerly. The little waves lapped
and gurgled through the rocky spaces of the breakwater; all about them
was the quiet evening of the sea.

“Last month, when you told me about Undine, I hated you,” she said,
passionately; “because I thought you meant that she was _me_, all the
time. And I was bound to show you that I wasn’t weak and silly like
that, and that I didn’t care a single scrap! And I didn’t care then,
either--not till that night when I was such a beast to you, and made
such a fool of myself, and you almost died--all my fault! So next day I
was so ashamed of myself, I didn’t dare even to speak to you, until I
had told you I was sorry. And just then I was so afraid you’d see that
book, that I made you go away--little fool! As though _that_ made any
difference!” She paused a moment. “And then in the evening I came back
and found that you were really gone away, without a single word!”

She raised her eyes to him slowly, and, to his amazement, he saw that
they were bright with the transparent wetness of tears.

“Do you remember,” she whispered, brokenly, “how--that night--I told
you that I never intended to shed any tears--planning to live like a
little brute? And you gave me these pearls, and told me they were the
tears that Undine had wept, after her soul had been given to her. Oh,
Stephen! There’s not a night since that night that I haven’t cried
myself to sleep thinking of you. So now I know that I have a soul, and
I have a heart. And the heart is all yours, if you want it, Stephen!”



[Illustration]

NOW’S THE TIME O’ YEAR


  Now’s the time o’ year when the deep skies seem
  (Look where you will) like the dream of a dream;
  Toss of gold, floss of gold, weed-tip and tree,
  And purple like the twilight for the lone late bee.

  Now’s the time o’ year when the cider-stills run
  Amber--luscious amber--in the round red sun;
  And the bloom on the grape’s like the bloom on the cheeks
  Of a maid at the tryst when a low voice speaks.

  Now’s the time o’ year when the hill-crests call,
  And the clear rill-music has a tinkling fall;
  Piper of the South Wind, play up, play!
  Your hand in mine, love, let us away!

            CLINTON SCOLLARD.



PRIDE of RACE

By P. S. Carlson

[Illustration]


At luncheon Bishop Chalmers, ensconced snugly between his hostess,
the handsome widow, Mrs. Patricia Danvers, and her equally charming
daughter, Miss Isabel, sublimated from the seclusion of boarding school
to society two seasons before, listened quietly to the many laudatory
comments on his sermon of the previous evening.

The sermon had been delivered in the large and fashionable city church
of St. Barnabas. Ostensibly it had been on “Charity”; principally it
was a plea for aid for the bishop’s struggling diocese in the South.
The bishop had received the invitation to preach from the rector of
the rich congregation, a classmate at the theological seminary, who
occupied a seat at the left of the hostess.

The rector was wifeless, as was the bishop, and after Mrs. Danvers had
satisfied herself that she had paid due deference to the bishop she
left him to the tender mercies of the daughter.

Mrs. Danvers, Patricia Hardesty that was, had begun life with a
devotion to the church, especially its representatives in this mundane
sphere. Her impoverished family, painfully aware that dollars were
far scarcer than devotion, insisted on her giving up her maidenly
intention of wedding a clergyman and urged on her the necessity of
marrying Horace Danvers, by no means religious, many years her senior
and “interested in cotton.” Now that the cotton had been shelved for
all time by the death of the husband, leaving a magnificent golden
fleece in its stead, her devotion to “the cloth” had reasserted itself.
Witness the bishop as a guest, the presence of the rector.

To the mind of the widow, worldly-minded, even if a devotee, the rector
was the far more desirable prospective _parti_. The bishop was too
small to fit her ideal. Her fancy was for large blond men who, in the
pulpit, have the appearance of Greek gods brought up to date by the
saving grace of the surplice. The rector was one of these.

Although Bishop Chalmers was below medium height, with anything but a
robust figure, he had a striking face. It was clean-shaven, ascetic and
of cameo-like clearness. The nose itself was indicative of ancestry,
the mouth was sensitive yet strong, and his blue eyes were remarkable
for their depth and expression of sadness. His silvery gray hair belied
his age, not yet fifty years. Pride of vocation and of race showed
itself in every feature.

The adoring women of his diocese were accustomed to describe the bishop
as one who was never known to smile.

“When his wife died he lost interest in everything but his life work,”
they were accustomed to say. “He reveres her memory as that of a saint.
Her death cast a shadow over his life, poor little bishop!”

That was not the underlying cause of his sadness. In the ecclesiastical
closet--a sanctum the interior of which none might see--a skeleton was
concealed.

As Mrs. Danvers glanced to her right with uninterrupted speech to the
rector, she smiled with satisfaction to see that the daughter was
cleverly holding the attention of the distinguished guest.

The girl had taken up the subject-thread of conversation where her
mother had dropped it.

“In your sermon I was greatly impressed by the story you told of the
unknown donor who each year sent you the large sum of money for your
diocesan work,” she was saying. “It appears so strange that anyone
should wish to conceal identity where such good work is concerned. You
have no intimation as to his or her identity?” she asked.

The bishop shook his head.

“Not the slightest. The nearest I have approached is to learn the name
of the bankers through whom the annual donation is made. It is a good
seed sown in a fruitful field, and some day the sower will reap harvest
an hundredfold,” he declared, reverently.

Of course Miss Isobel was properly impressed. She said nothing for a
little. She was a bright, butterfly sort of creature, whose veil of
innocence and apparent ingenuousness hid a nature which delighted in
sacrificing dignity and reserve to her mischief-making propensities.
She was of the kind ever ready to revert to the subject of round dances
or divorce with a High Church dignitary.

This idiosyncrasy asserted itself when she said to her listener, with
her well-feigned air of irresponsibility:

“Bishop, I should greatly like to have the pleasure of taking you this
afternoon for a spin in my runabout, had I not an engagement to see the
Derby run. Besides my promise to go, my favorite jockey is to ride in
this race, and I cannot miss the chance of winning or losing kid gloves
or bonbons on his horse. I suppose it is very sinful,” she sighed,
resignedly, glancing with challenging eyes at the bishop.

Emboldened, though disappointed, perhaps, by the fact that he did
not appear shocked or surprised, she continued in a tone wherein
earnestness and raillery were mingled:

“Could you reconcile your conscience so far as to accompany me to such
a sinful place as the race course, bishop?”

For a time, so long that the silence grew painful, the bishop made
no sign that he had heard. She noted a look on his face--was it one
of offended dignity or simple disgust at her daring? She could not
determine. Already she had framed an apology, when he said, without
lifting his eyes:

“Is it really so sinful?” continuing, quickly: “I do not doubt that it
is, and, perhaps, it may strike you as being strange and unworthy of my
calling, but for just once I should like to see the inside of a race
course.”

For some reason the statement struck a chord of sympathy in the girl’s
heart. It was in the nature of a confession.

“It is a beautiful sight, bishop,” she hastened to reply, thinking
of nothing less inane as her mind struggled to find reason for his
admission. “The horses, with their coats like satin, the jockeys in
their bright colors, the excited throng of spectators and the velvety
greensward. One jockey is a special favorite among the girls of the
‘horsy’ set,” she continued, now fairly advanced in her stride,
figuratively speaking. “He’s a darling!”--ecstatically. “I surely
believe half the women attend the races simply to see him ride, and
all of them make wagers on his mounts.” She paused for a moment and
glanced at the bishop. He did not appear offended. “When his horse
wins and he returns to the judges’ stand they cheer him and wave their
handkerchiefs, and some even throw kisses at him. He doesn’t notice it,
though, for he never even smiles, but only looks up at the Blaisdell
box.”

“Blaisdell?” echoed the bishop.

“Yes, ex-Secretary Blaisdell. Rumor says that Bettina Blaisdell wants
to marry him, but, of course, the family couldn’t countenance such a
thing--her becoming the wife of a jockey. It is reported he is of an
excellent family, however, and rides under a _nom de course_.”

“And this name--what is it?” inquired the bishop, scarcely above a
whisper. Feverishly, almost, he appeared to wait for an answer.

“Nowell--of course it is an assumed one----”

She would have said more, but the words were checked on her lips, and
she was staring at her companion in undisguised astonishment. His head
was bowed over, and the hand, one finger of which held the episcopal
ring, was trembling violently. In a moment he had regained composure.

“Tell me of this race,” he said, in his accustomed well modulated
voice. “Does this--jockey”--the word came with an effort--“ride for Mr.
Blaisdell altogether? Is it the Blaisdell who was once in the Cabinet?”

Eagerness was evinced in his voice, his expression, the attitude in
which he leaned toward his fair informant.

“Ex-Secretary Blaisdell--the one formerly in the senate, you know.
He is more interested in the ponies now than in politics,” she said,
dropping unconsciously into slang. “He was thinking of selling off all
his race horses, when he discovered this jockey, who is said to get a
princely salary. Mr. Blaisdell treats him almost as a son.”

The bishop winced.

“And this particular race--you call it the Derby, I believe?” he
ventured.

“It’s the greatest racing event of the year. The papers this morning
were full of it. Secretary Blaisdell has set his heart on winning it
with Nowell and Ixion, his favorite race horse. He is tipped by all the
papers, and will be the favorite. That is, it is believed he has the
best chance of winning, you know,” she explained. “Ixion and Nowell are
a winning combination.”

“Where is the race to take place?” persisted the bishop.

“At the Ravenswood Park race course,” answered the girl, and then,
impulsively: “Why, bishop, I might almost be tempted to believe that
you are going! Why not let me take you?” she pleaded, coaxingly, with
sweet, pursed-up lips and chin stuck out coquettishly toward him.

She pictured to herself what a sensation she would create with a bishop
on parade at the races. Well she knew that not a few would be there who
would recognize them both, and she could imagine herself the cynosure
of the eyes of hundreds of churchgoers transformed into racegoers on
this Derby day.

The idea was positively entrancing! With glowing eyes and cheeks
flushed at the thought, Miss Danvers awaited the bishop’s reply. It was
merely a shake of the head, without comment on her daring.

Then the mother, having overheard the latter part of the conversation,
turned to her daughter with gentle reproof:

“I’m surprised at you, Isobel, having the audacity to extend such an
invitation to a bishop. It’s shocking bad taste, really. I’m ashamed of
you.”

Naturally the conversation drifted into other channels.

During the rest of the meal the bishop was strangely distracted. On
more than one occasion his hostess found it necessary to address the
same remark to him, whereat he excused himself somewhat lamely for his
inattention.

After they had risen from the board he pleaded some matter that needed
his especial care, and retired to his chamber. Probably a half hour
later Mrs. Danvers and the rector, who remained to talk over church
affairs, saw the bishop descend the main stairway near the drawing room.

“He wishes to be alone still. I can tell by his expression,” said the
rector. “I know him like a book. A queer man in some ways, but no
better anywhere. Inclined too much to melancholy, and a trifle too
straitlaced for his advanced age, perhaps.”

In his own chamber the bishop had gone over in his own mind, not once,
but a hundred times, the question, at the present the one momentous to
him above all others, should he visit the race course that afternoon to
see the Derby run? A thousand reasons had suggested themselves why he
should not do so. One why he should stood forth clearly and plainly.
When all had been turned over in his mind, something told him “Go!”

But how should he go? As he was, his clothes of severe clerical cut
singling him out for the sneers of the unrighteous? He would not
deny his Master. In his own heart he knew that his presence at the
race course meant no intent of desecration of his calling, though he
believed horse racing was one of the unpardonable sins.

So his mind was settled that he should go!

At the street corner he bought a newspaper. In it he read that the
great Derby would be decided about four P. M. By inquiring casually, he
learned that the race course was not many minutes distant.

Hailing a passing cab, he asked, in a voice in which he endeavored to
hide the shame he felt:

“To the race course, please. Shall I be in time for the Derby race?”

The half-intoxicated driver looked him over carefully before replying,
with a leer:

“All the time you want. I’ll take you right there as cheap as anybody,
and I’ll give you a tip besides! If this wasn’t my busy day I’d be
inside there, too, quick.”

He pointed his whip indefinitely. “Take my tip, sir,” he added,
insinuatingly, holding to the swinging door. “Don’t bet a penny on
Ixion. Hotspur is the goods to-day. He’ll beat Ixion a mile. You mind
what I’m telling you. I’ve got inside information.”

The bishop’s soul was filled with disgust as he stepped inside.

The cabby slammed to the door, whirled the vehicle sharply around and
started.

By and by they ran out of the street into an open space with large
gates in front, through which people were passing by the uniformed
gatekeepers. The bishop could catch the flutter of flags in the air;
men and boys were selling sheets of paper and bawling loudly in his
ears. Many cabs and carriages and automobiles were “parked” about the
inclosure. He paid the driver, who again took occasion to tell him, in
a hoarse whisper:

“Take my tip; you won’t be sorry. Bet it all on Hotspur.”

On either side of the gates the bishop saw booths at whose windows men
were selling tickets. Approaching a booth, he tendered a five-dollar
bill, receiving in return a badge and three dollars. For a moment he
hesitated, and looked at the grinning countenance of the ticket seller.

“How much is--this?” he faltered, holding up the badge.

“Grand stand, two dollars; that’s a grand-stand badge.”

The window shut down with a bang, and the small man in black passed
through the turnstile, holding out the badge dumbly to the gatekeeper.
The man tore off something and handed the larger portion back to him.

As the bishop passed inside he saw a man attach the--to him--badge of
iniquity to the lapel of his coat. He himself held the gaudy bit of
pasteboard as if its very touch was defiling, and then tossed it on the
ground.

Presently he found himself in front of a stand a quarter of a mile
long, black with people. So many never had he seen gathered together at
one place.

A band was playing back near the grand stand. Men and women jostled
him, laughing, chatting, paying no attention. He heard a young man
near him say: “Get your program--one dime,” and gave ten cents for the
narrow-leaved “racing card.” He stood holding it mechanically in his
hand. Though his eyes rested on the verdant green of the infield, they
did not see it. They were looking back into the past of little more
than four years before. The racegoers shouldered him heedlessly. He
hardly realized the discomfort, he had forgotten the place to which he
had come, the sights and scenes of the race course on this great Derby
day were forgotten.

How well he remembered the other, the day when the crushing blow had
fallen on his heart! That had been the real reason for his sadness.

Until that morning, four years before, as fresh in memory as yesterday,
the bishop had thought his only son, at college, would follow in the
footsteps of the father. He recollected tearing open the missive in the
beloved handwriting, and reading the letter which had burned deeply
into his memory and his soul.

As he stood looking back into the past, isolated, though surrounded by
thousands, he went over it again:

    DEAR FATHER: Your last letter, in which you suggested that it
    was high time I had made the choice of a profession, set me to
    thinking. As a result I have made my decision.

    Father, you know how fond I have been of horseflesh. Do you
    remember--but of course you do--when I rode in the tournament
    three years ago, the youngest knight there, I captured the prize
    and crowned the queen of beauty? You seemed very proud of me then,
    and when I crowned mother the queen you complimented me on my good
    taste.

    Near the college grounds is a race course, with training stables
    attached. Owing to my fondness for thoroughbreds, during the
    winter I have become acquainted with one of the trainers. I told
    him I could ride, and he let me exercise one of his best racers.
    He says that I have an excellent seat and hands, and has asked me
    to go with him as an apprentice boy, after which I will become a
    first-class jockey--a big thing nowadays. I think I am exceedingly
    fortunate in having such an opportunity.

    You know, father, I never have been very studious. I would rather
    sit in the saddle all day than be perched on a stool in an office
    for a few hours. I have heard you yourself say that a man cannot
    succeed in his vocation unless he is in sympathy with it.

    Please don’t oppose me in my choice, for I know I shall make a
    great name for myself in the turf world, as you are known in that
    of the church. Hoping to hear from you soon and favorably, I am,

  Affectionately, your son,
            LIONEL.

At first the little bishop had been highly indignant at his son. The
idea of his presuming to couple his own name, as one in the direct line
of apostolic succession, with that of a jockey! Surely his son was
bereft of his senses.

From wrath the father had changed to heartsickness. Rather in anything
else would he have his son engaged than in such a pursuit. He had in
mind his own brother, the pride of his mother’s heart, the idol of the
family, who, through that same love of horseflesh, had fallen so low
that he was either an outcast or the occupant of an unmarked grave in
the Western country.

His answer to the letter had been this:

    MY DEAR SON: I am sure that you have not reflected deeply on the
    course which you write me you are bent on pursuing. I cannot
    consider it as a serious resolve, but regard it rather as the
    result of sudden impulse on your part induced by the promptings of
    a man who would lead you away from all that is good and proper to
    something which is most sinful, degraded and pernicious.

    If, after seeing your father in his priestly vestments, you can
    array yourself in the trappings of Satan--the jockey’s colors--you
    are not the son I have fondly imagined.

    I will not pretend to coerce you in the matter. Yet I counsel you
    well to consider fully before you take the final step.

    Of course if you persist in your wild determination, in future all
    communication between us must cease. I can advise you no further.

    I am glad your dear mother is not alive to share in the pain which
    your communication has caused me.

            YOUR DISAPPOINTED FATHER.

The bishop had hoped, rather than expected, that his son would turn
from his resolve. He knew the breed! From the time when their ancestor,
Hugh de Chalmers, had started forth to the Crusades, not one had ever
retreated. And this same De Chalmers, knighted for some deed of valor
on the field of battle, had chosen his coat of arms, which had remained
to the house through the vicissitudes of generations. And this coat
of arms consisted of field _gules_, horse _argent_, with the motto:
“_Ubique honor et equus_” (“Wherever honor and his horse should lead
him”). Always the horse had been associated with the Chalmers race, for
good or bad, it seemed.

After the two letters there had been no others. The lives of father and
son were as those of persons unknown to one another.

The little bishop, sadder than ever--more sanctified, the women of
his flock said--went about his work with renewed vigor, if it were
possible. They did not know of the derelict.

And the son? Never until this day had the father heard of him.

Try as hard as he had done, the bishop could not put from him the
desire, the consuming, yearning wish, once more to look on the face
of his only child, even if engaged in his ungodly pursuit. The bishop
considered this would be his only chance; he was certain his heart was
affected.

Suddenly he came to himself. He was here, but as yet he had seen no
horses or jockeys. His son was apparently as far away from him as he
had been when he first had become a professional rider. The bishop had
supposed men and women, horses and jockeys, were all wallowing together
in one slough.

Neither did Bishop Chalmers distinguish the face of an acquaintance.
Vaguely he had supposed he would be seen by some who had heard him
preach the night before, and who would express astonishment at meeting
him there. Where was Miss Danvers?

If he had only known, he would have been aware that the people who
would recognize him were in their boxes or grand-stand seats, or in the
paddock, where society condescends to jostle elbows with stable boys,
proving the truth of the adage enunciated by a true sage: “On the turf,
and beneath it, all men are equal.” At least, the bishop was saved from
explanation.

It was just after the third race he had arrived. Even now that he had
come, he saw no prospect of accomplishing his design. He knew nothing
of a paddock.

Looking about him helplessly, his black garments contrasting strangely
with the bright costumes of the women, and the “horsy” garb of the
male portion, his eyes rested on the figure of a man near him. He
was a big, burly fellow, with a good-natured Irish face, the most
noticeable feature of which was a huge red mustache. Certainly here
was one who could help him, for the man’s attire was as typical of his
calling as the bishop’s own. A glittering diamond pin in the shape of a
horse’s head was in the cravat, a horseshoe watch charm rested on the
double-breasted waistcoat of “loud” pattern.

Chalmers’ eyes caught those of the turf gambler as the latter lifted
them, after making an apparently satisfactory calculation on the back
of his program.

“I beg your pardon, sir,” said the bishop. “I--er--as you possibly may
guess, I am not well versed in racing matters. Would you please enable
me to understand a few things? I believe a jockey named Nowell----” he
paused, interrogatively.

“Nowell is it, Blaisdell’s crack jock, ye are askin’ about, now,
father?” inquired the man, with an expression of mild surprise.
Evidently he mistook the bishop for a priest.

“Yes. Somebody said--I understood he was to ride in the Derby to-day,”
continued the bishop, anxiously.

“I see ye ain’t used to racin’ at all, at all, now, father,” laughed
the man, good-humoredly. “If ye were, sir, ye would have seen his name
on the official jockey board over beyant. Do ye see it now, father? The
numbers have been up so long they’ll be takin’ them down shortly. Over
beyant, father.”

The bishop’s eyes followed the outstretched finger across the track to
where he saw opposite “No. 1” on the board the name “Nowell” in large
letters, with other numbers and names below it.

“Let me show ye, father,” said the man, taking the program and turning
over the leaves rapidly.

“There ye are--foorth race, the Derby--No. 1, Ixion. That’s the horse
Nowell rides. It’s No. 1 on the board, an’ I’m hopin’ he’ll be No. 1 at
the finish.”

“Do you attend the races regularly?” asked the bishop, hesitatingly.

“That’s about the size av it, father,” acknowledged the other. “I’m
what ye call a ‘regular.’ I don’t suppose annywan is known better about
the tracks in this section than Miles Halloran. I play the ponies
for a livin’. Mebbe ye’d be scoldin’ me, now, father?” he inquired,
indulgently.

The question was ignored.

“Perhaps you can tell me about this jockey Nowell?” the bishop asked
again. “Do you know him?”

“Little Nowell?” repeated the man. “I reckon not. Nobody knows him but
Blaisdell and the horses. They say his own father don’t know him. But
that don’t keep me from playin’ his mounts, father. I’ve been backin’
him ever since he started to ride. That’s why I’m all to the good. I
don’t know him, but sure I can tell ye av him, an’ nothin’ but good.
He’s as straight as a string.”

“Do you mean that he rides sitting straight up in the saddle?” inquired
the bishop, misunderstanding.

“No, no, sir; not that. Sure, if all the boys were like him the bookies
would go out of business, I’m thinkin’.”

“Bookies?” repeated the bishop. “Will you kindly elucidate what you
mean by bookies?”

“Sure, the bookmakers.”

“Bookmakers--publishers, do I understand you to mean?” inquired the
bishop, failing to see the connection between publishers and the race
course.

“No, no, father; the layers what takes your long green, your dough,
your yellow backs--the ones ye make your bet with, ye know.”

“Oh!” said the bishop.

“This little jock, Nowell, as I was sayin’,” continued Halloran, “is
pounds better than any rider in the country.”

Once more the bishop failed to comprehend.

“Pounds? Do you mean in the nature of dollars and cents? Do I
understand that his services are so much more valuable than those of
any other rider?”

The ill-concealed pride of a father was manifest.

Unable to hide his merriment longer at the dense ignorance displayed
by his interrogator, the race-track _habitué_ gave vent to a series of
chuckles, ending with spasmodic gasps which threatened to choke him.
Finally he said:

“When we say that a horse is so many pounds better than another, we
mean that he can pick up so much more weight than another one carries
and win out. It’s made by lead carried in the saddle pad. Now, this
Darby to-day----”

“Go on, I think I understand,” said the bishop, faintly. “About the
Derby----”

“Now, in this here Darby--it’s a mile and a half race--all the horses
are three-year-olds, and they carry the same weights.”

“Ah, yes, I see, I see. Then Nowell should win?”--tentatively.

Halloran meditated, frowning deeply.

“Ye seem to take uncommon interest in this jock, sir----” he began.

“You are quite right, Mr. Halloran,” said the bishop. “I--I knew him
well some years ago. It was before he became a jockey. His--his mother
and father I was well acquainted with.”

“Well, annywan that has been a friend av that lad is all right. I’m
goin’ to put ye wise to somethin’. It’s only track gossip, but I
believe there’s truth in it. It’s this”--he paused a moment before
continuing, impressively: “Nowell will win if he gets through alive.
It’s a mighty rough passage he’ll have this day. If he finishes with
his neck safe, he’ll have the saints to thank at the end.”

The bishop’s face blanched. He could not understand.

“Is there a plot against his life? Can such a thing be allowed?” he
demanded.

“Ye see, it’s this way--all the other jocks is jealous of Nowell, one
of them in particular. That’s the Dago, Satanelli. ‘Little Satan,’ they
call him, and he’s one of the devil’s own imps. He’s next to Nowell in
winning mounts. He rides the second favorite, Hotspur, and it’s said
Hotspur’s owner, Cantrell, has promised Satanelli two thousand dollars
if he beats Ixion. He don’t have to win--come in ahead of Ixion, that’s
all. More’n that, I hear each one of the other jocks has been slipped
a hundred-dollar bill if he does all he can to beat Ixion. It’s easy
money, you see. They’ll try to beat Nowell now if they have to put him
over the fence to do it.”

“I am truly grateful to you for your information,” was the bishop’s
reply. “What you say is a terrible state of affairs. Could you not find
time to warn him--Nowell, I mean?”

“Why, he knows it, all right, father. Bless your soul, he’s wise as to
what’s goin’ on.”

“And still he will go into this death trap set for him! Where can I
find the officials?” implored the bishop. “Certainly they cannot be
aware of the existing state of things. Mr. Halloran, won’t you help me?”

At the instant the clear notes of a bugle rang out. The bishop and his
companion were separated. In some unaccountable manner the air appeared
surcharged with electricity. For a second the noise and clamor of the
grand stand, the babble of thousands of tongues, were succeeded by a
strange stillness.

Again the noise began, but now it was more subdued--the vast crowd
seemed to be under a spell. Wondering and bewildered, feeling that he
had lost his mainstay, conscious that the crisis was near at hand,
Bishop Chalmers looked about him.

He was brought to himself by a friendly hand on the shoulder, a rough
but kindly voice in his ear:

“I slipped into the bettin’ ring to put down an extra wad, father.
It looks now like everywan thinks Nowell will get through all right.
All the big plungers is bettin’ on him, and they know what’s afoot. I
thought maybe the little church might be needin’ some money now, and I
put down a bet for ye,” he said, with a sly smile.

“Thank God!” was the bishop’s fervent ejaculation. But he was not
referring to the wager.

“That was the call to the post, father,” said Halloran. “Come down here
by the rail, so ye can get a good look at the boy. It’s the only chance
ye’ll have. Right here, up against the rail, with me.”

Leaning over the rail, forgetful of all else, the bishop watched in the
direction indicated by his companion for the horses and riders. Soon he
saw them trooping out of the paddock gate on the track, in single file,
a brave show. He thought he recognized the figure on the leading horse.
A mist came before his eyes.

“That’s him--the wan on the big chestnut in front, No. 1, that’s
Nowell. Ye’ll be havin’ a good look presently,” whispered the Irishman.
“That’s him--the jock with the blue jacket, brown sash, brown cap.”

The bishop’s highly imaginative brain had preconceived this first
glimpse of his son. He imagined the boy he had known would be
transformed into a rough, profane creature, with heartless laughter and
obscene jest to catch the applause of the crowd--young in years, old in
crime, a tool of gamblers and blacklegs.

What the father saw, as with trembling fingers he clutched the rail
near the judges’ stand, was a bright-faced young man, or, rather, a
youth, with the father’s calm, deep blue eyes looking out from under
the peak of his jockey cap straight ahead, fearless and confident.

The face had lost its boyish laughter--it wore an earnest,
business-like expression. The father felt a thrill of--was it pride?
His son was still a Chalmers, going to what might prove his death with
unmoved countenance, just as his cavalier ancestor had gone generations
before.

The horses--twelve of them--“a big Derby field,” some one said--passed
by in parade, one after the other, on their way to the starting post,
a half-mile distant around the circular track on which the Derby was
to be run. There had been yells for Ixion and Nowell, handclapping and
cheering, but the jockey had ridden on without noticing the favor with
which he was received; past the grand stand, the field stand and around
the turn.

At last the bishop was roused from his contemplation by the voice of
Halloran. The plunger explained to him the manner of starting, the
positions at the post. Most of it was meaningless to the bishop. He
endeavored to understand. It had been his intention first to remain
only until he had seen his son, and then go. The startling information
given him had changed that.

Nervously expectant, imbued with the general feeling of suspense,
Chalmers stood by the side of Halloran, the big Irishman peering
through field glasses, shifting uneasily, and muttering to himself
incoherently. The bishop watched silently, trying to pick out the blue
and brown colors from the jumble of others, a prayer in his heart for
one in peril of sudden death.

Would it never end? For minutes and minutes, each one of which added
its load of misery to the watcher’s heart, the bishop saw the twisting
and turning, the perverse actions of the racers as the starter
tried to line them up behind the frail barrier. The wait was nerve
racking--would it continue to torture the heart and brain for hours?

A something like a white ribbon flashed upward. For the infinitesimal
part of a second--silence.

A roar as of relief from the vast multitude, a cry so concerted that
the thousands might have rehearsed it for weeks, sharp, short, distinct
and crescendo: “They’re off!”

The tension was broken.

A simultaneous darting forward of the released level line of racers.

A flirt downward of a glaringly yellow flag.

Already the rumble of hoofbeats was heard, approaching closer each
fraction of a second. Now the flying racers had reached a position
opposite the grand stand. The leaders were sweeping by the bishop and
his companion with their marvelous, frictionless, space-devouring
strides. A sharp exclamation came from Halloran, a jubilant expression:
“I told ye Nowell would get off well. He’s second now, an’ takin’ it
easy.”

Even the inexperienced eye of the bishop had picked out
instantaneously, well to the fore, the blue and brown of his jockey son.

They had swept past the paddock; they were making the first turn to the
back stretch. The grand-stand spectators had risen in their excitement,
the occupants of the packed lawn were tip-toe with expectation, eyes
strained to lose no move of the Derby contenders well advanced in the
struggle for the great prize.

Halloran gave an inarticulate cry--a burst of dismay and sympathy came
from the backers of the favorite.

“Bumped into, by----!” was the Irishman’s sharp exclamation, coupled
with a fierce oath. One of the flying racers, urged on to terrific pace
by its rider, with no thought of saving for the heartbreaking finish,
had struck Ixion on the quarter with his shoulder. For a moment the
favorite was seen to falter and fall back; the next, under the superb
handling of his rider, he had regained his stride and recovered the
ground lost to the leaders.

The bishop had merely guessed something had happened. He was brought to
full realization by Halloran saying, impersonally:

“They’re up to their devil’s tricks early in the game. They don’t care
for foulin’ in this Derby.”

Some man alongside answered, with a sneer:

“I guess they’ll fix Blaisdell’s kid-glove jock to-day. I see his
finish. The other boys will see to him, all right--his uppishness.”

Halloran, letting fall the glasses from his face, grabbed the strap,
turned on the speaker like a tiger, and said in a tone of deepest
menace:

“Ye know me, Cantrell. Another word the like av that, an’ I’ll brain ye
right in the presence of his riverence, here. Don’t forget that little
jock is a friend av him an’ av me.”

The man was silent.

“Watch yerself, Nowell,” the big fellow cautioned, as if the jockey was
in earshot. “It’s all right in the straight. Watch yourself on the last
turn for home; it’s there they’ll try to do the dirty work.”

Down the back stretch they raced in a compact bunch, the blue and brown
on the rail, the black horse of Satanelli, like an avenging demon,
hanging on to Ixion’s quarter, the rest close behind, ready to aid in
the devilish work cut out for them by the chief conspirator.

In reality it took but a few seconds, though it seemed minutes, until
the far turn was reached. Here the blue and brown, the all yellow of
Satanelli, the violets and greens and pinks and blacks and reds and
all the other colors of the jockeys, became merged in a maze to the
bishop. Whether the positions had changed, how his son was faring, he
could only guess by the disjointed utterances of the man beside him.
Halloran, on tiptoe, breathing heavily, and with head turning slowly,
followed the movements of the racers. The bishop had a sensation
of faintness steal over him. For a space he feared he would lose
consciousness.

“Oh! Mother of mercies!”--from Halloran. “They pinched him off at the
far turn! Bumped into again! He’ll never win now. If the stewards don’t
take action now----”

A heavy foot was raised and stamped the ground savagely.

His breath coming in gasps, the bishop watched the expression of the
other to try and read the fate of his son. To him the race itself was
as a closed book.

Around the far turn they had swept, and the bishop, looking at the
other’s face, listening intently, caught the words:

“They’ve got Ixion pocketed. He’ll never get through. If he tries,
they’ll put him over the fence, sure. Ye young devils, ye’ve done your
work well.”

Now they had reached the turn for home. They had rounded it. A black
horse, with the all yellow, was in the lead, a jockey, white and black
checks, was alongside, half a length away, both at the whip. Two
lengths back, in the middle of the ruck, seemingly hopelessly beaten,
apparently shut off with no chance to get through, was the blue and
brown.

Between Ixion and the rail two horses nearly on even terms with him; in
front Satanelli on Hotspur, and Blashford, the second choice, carrying
the black and white “magpie” colors; on Ixion’s whip side a beautiful
brown filly, with gray and magenta, the filly so tired she was ready to
lean against Ixion’s heaving flank.

So with those in the “first flight,” the racers came down the stretch
in a whirlwind finish, the vast crowd, in a frenzy of excitement,
shouting frantically, hysterically, the names of the two leaders,
Hotspur and Blashford, for it seemed certain one or the other was sure
to win. Halloran was silent.

Suddenly the brown filly halted perceptibly in her stride. Now she
had fallen back! The racer in front of Ixion, slightly to his right,
running gamely and true under the now added incentive of pricking steel
in side, had drawn slightly away from under the nose of Ixion, and was
pressing hard the two leaders, with evident intention of capturing a
portion of the purse. An open gap of daylight showed between the colt
in front of Ixion and the completely fagged filly. It was but a chance,
but it meant freedom. It was the one thing remaining for Nowell and
Ixion.

Rising in his saddle, crouching forward, whip lifted and falling with
one lash only, Nowell reined Ixion sharply to the right.

A horse less royally bred than Ixion, an animal with more temper
and less courage than this thoroughbred, after the buffeting he had
received during the race, would have sulked, or responded at best
with feeble effort. Not so with the Blaisdell thoroughbred, under the
skillful guidance of a premier jockey.

Ixion checked his stride, almost landing on his haunches, and, with a
plunge which threatened to throw his rider over his head, had found
an opening, on the extreme outside, it is true, but an unobstructed
path to the finish. With tremendous leaps and bounds the horse was
recovering his lost ground.

Another second and Ixion’s clean-cut head, outstretched until the
upper lip was lifted, baring the grinning teeth, was seen with that
of Blashford, fallen back three-quarters of a length behind Hotspur,
as yet showing no diminution of his wonderful speed under the cruel
rawhide and steel of Satanelli.

Scarcely before that jockey realized it--probably the first intimation
he had of his rival’s nearness was the crowd yelling Ixion’s name--the
racer had drawn up to Hotspur, changing places with Blashford, now
dropping further behind.

Head and head Ixion and Hotspur hung together for a couple of strides.

As a man transformed from a paralyzing grief to sudden great unexpected
joy, Halloran was dancing up and down like a madman, pounding the rail
with a huge fist.

Ixion and Hotspur were nose and nose. Once more, only, nearing the
finish line, did Nowell strike his horse with the whip, and the racer,
as if understanding the need, lengthened his stride, passing Hotspur by
the small space of a man’s hand at the finish, and winning by so much.

At the instant, with a shrill yell of rage, all the ferocity of his
Latin nature roused by defeat when victory seemed assured, Satanelli
jerked his right rein, so that his horse “bored” against Ixion, at the
same time hitting viciously at that racer’s head with his whip.

His mighty stride as yet unchecked, Ixion swerved, stumbled, fell to
his knees and rolled to one side, on the jockey.

Snorting wildly, the colt regained his feet and rushed on as the rest
of the field, contesting for third place, rushed up to the finish.

Two of the leading horses jumped clean over the prostrate figure of
the jockey in blue and brown; the flying hoofs of another struck it
and rolled the body of the little rider to one side. The others,
sufficiently far behind, avoided it altogether.

Yells of exultation at the winning of the favorite were checked. They
were changed to groans of sympathizing men, screams of terror-stricken,
white-faced, fainting women.

When the bishop came to himself he was in the center of the track,
kneeling down by his unconscious son, holding the head of the
unfortunate in his hands. Uniformed men were by him.

Through a little gate opening from the judges’ stand hurried a large,
distinguished-looking man, with gray mustache.

He had the unmistakable air of authority as he stood over the jockey’s
form, his uncased field glasses, with the case itself, dangling by his
side. The others moved away, all but the bishop. The elderly man, to
whom the others gave way, would have lifted the boy in his arms, but
the bishop would not release his hold.

“Pardon me, sir; let me have him,” said the gentleman, with something
of austerity, as if hinting that the presence of a clergyman was more
superfluous than necessary. “What he needs now most of all is prompt
medical attention. He is my jockey.”

“And he is my son, sir; my only child,” was the response of the
kneeling, dark-garbed figure. He permitted the large man to lift the
boy in his arms.

As the ambulance drove sharply on the course, the large man, still
clasping the jockey in his arms, looked hard at the anguished face.

It was a brief but all-comprehensive glance. The next instant he had
lifted a foot on the step, and with the assistance of the surgeon had
deposited the insensible boy on the stretcher inside.

“Drive direct to Fordham,” he commanded. “I will follow immediately.”

Only then did he turn to the bishop.

“I am William T. Blaisdell. You say the boy is your son? You are----?”

His eyes roved over the other’s ministerial dress.

“I am Bishop Chalmers, sir. This young man is my son, my only child,”
he repeated, quietly.

“How is it that his name is Nowell? He told me that was his right one?”
said the owner, doubtingly.

“It is his own middle name, and his mother’s maiden one,” was the low
reply.

“Come with me, bishop,” said Blaisdell, his face softening. “He is a
son of whom any father might be proud. Let us hope his injuries are not
serious. My automobile is outside here, and we will go direct to the
hospital.”

During the swift ride to the hospital, in the wake of the ambulance,
Bishop Chalmers, as to a father confessor, unbosomed himself to the
quiet, self-contained man beside him. When he had finished the
recital, concluding with the remark that he had misjudged his son, and
the two men had looked into one another’s eyes, the father saw that
Blaisdell’s were filled with tears.

“You have misjudged him sadly,” was Blaisdell’s reply. “No one in any
capacity was ever truer to his trust than your son, bishop.

“None ever lived a cleaner life, I know. He had offers innumerable to
ride for men who would have paid him extra thousands for retainers. The
methods of some on the turf are questionable. As in any other business,
it depends altogether on the man. Your son preferred to ride only for
me, because he knew that always my horses were ridden to win.”

He was silent a little.

“Although your son received from me a retaining fee of fifteen thousand
dollars a year, he seemed to spend but little money,” he continued.
“Each year, at his request, I deposited my personal check, payable
to him, for the whole amount with my bankers, Relyea & Farnum. As he
seemed to spend little, and, like myself, never ventured a wager, it
must have accumulated to a good round sum. I always supposed hitherto
that the boy had others dependent on him.”

Cringing in his seat, positively cringing, at this latest revelation,
Bishop Chalmers heard.

To think how he had mistaken his son! Relyea & Farnum, bankers? Their
names were familiar. Now the bishop knew who furnished the seed for his
harvest. On this point alone could he not reveal the truth to Blaisdell.

“It was remarkable how he could handle horseflesh,” continued the
latter, in a matter-of-fact tone. “No one else could ride Ixion. I
verily believe he would have pined away in any other profession. He
was not perfectly happy unless he was about horses. Honest? Why,
bishop, the whole racing public be----” He checked the word, smiling to
himself. He had started to say “bets on him.” “The whole racing public
believes in him,” he declared, gravely.

“‘In whatsoever calling,’” murmured the bishop.

The patient had been taken into the operating room, was the report that
awaited Blaisdell and the bishop on their arrival at the hospital.
Nothing was known regarding his condition. Blaisdell whispered to the
obsequious interne who met them:

“I am ex-Secretary Blaisdell. Your patient is the son of Bishop
Chalmers here, and in my employ. You will greatly oblige me by sending
for my surgeon, Dr. Abercrombie. Leave no stone unturned to save the
boy. And, by the way, doctor----”

The departing physician returned to Blaisdell’s side.

“If--er--when he regains consciousness--you might tell him that his
father, Bishop Chalmers, is waiting to see him. The news might prove of
benefit.”

In the hallway, too excited and interested to remain quiet in the
reception room, the bishop and ex-Secretary Blaisdell paced up and
down. A few minutes they had passed thus, conversing together gravely,
when the click of small, dainty heels, the rustle of a woman’s skirts,
were heard on the bare floor.

A tall girl, with light hair; a lovely, highbred creature, gowned in
the most approved of summer “creations,” the perfume of whose presence
nullified the odor of anæsthetics and antiseptics--a young lady whose
features were strikingly like those of Blaisdell--the light of whose
blue eyes was dimmed by weeping, threw herself, sobbing, into his arms.

“How did you get here, Bettina?” Blaisdell asked her, with something of
reproof in his tone.

“I saw it--the--oh, it was too terrible!” she cried. “I asked where
they had taken him, and followed directly. They said you were here.”

Her eyes rested on the bishop, standing near.

“Is it--is it so bad as that, father?” she cried, sobbing anew. “Oh,
don’t tell me he is----”

She could not bring herself to say the word.

“This is Bishop Chalmers, daughter,” was Blaisdell’s reply.

“Bishop Chalmers!” gasped the girl, with wide-open eyes. “Why, bishop,
I heard you preach on ‘Charity’ last night.”

“On ‘Charity,’ which I so badly lacked--that which I thought I
possessed, but which I had so little of for my own son,” said the
bishop. “The boy whom you knew simply as Nowell was my son, Miss
Blaisdell--Lionel Nowell Chalmers. His father”--he cleared his
throat--“was so uncharitable as to deny him the privilege of calling
him father.”

“To think that he was the son of a bishop, and now it’s too late! Oh,
why would not he tell us!” she cried, reproachfully.

She had burst into a fresh fit of sobbing. Blaisdell, one arm thrown
affectionately around the waist of the weeping girl, placed the other
on the bishop’s shoulder.

“Your son and my daughter were in love with one another,” he said,
simply. “I have no son, and the boy was much at my house. I trusted
him fully in everything. I saw the growing attachment between the two.
I was certain that he came of good people, but, as a father, and on
account of my social position, I had to be sure. I asked him, as he
loved Bettina and she him, to tell me who his father was.

“He would not,” continued Blaisdell, after a pause. “I felt sure he
had some excellent motive for keeping his secret. I did not press him
further, and there the matter rested.”

A pent-up sob came from the soul of the bishop. “So much it would have
meant to him,” he said, and added, softly, as if to himself: “As the
father, in his priestly vestments, would not recognize the son in his
Satan’s trappings, so the son could not acknowledge the father. Oh,
Lord, spare him to us yet a while.”

The door opened and a nurse appeared on the threshold. She looked
curiously at the group.

“Jockey Nowell is conscious and asking for his father, the bishop,” she
stated, with unintentional emphasis on the last word, and then added,
in a coldly professional tone:

“He will recover, the physicians say, but his injuries will probably
prevent him from riding again--at least not for a very long while.”

Blaisdell drew a sharp breath. His face was troubled.

“That means my retirement from the turf,” he said, with a sigh. “I have
lost the one jockey I could trust.”

“And I have gained--a son,” breathed the bishop, starting forward.

Pausing, he took the sobbing girl by the hand.

“You will see him later, daughter,” he whispered.

His face radiant with a smile it had not known for years, the little
bishop followed the nurse down the passage.

A door opened and closed noiselessly behind them.

[Illustration]



The PRINCESS’ KINGDOM

By William J. Locke

[Illustration]


That there once was a real Prince Rabomirski is beyond question. That
he was Ottilie’s father may be taken for granted. But that the Princess
Rabomirski had a right to bear the title many folk were scandalously
prepared to deny. It is true that when the news of the prince’s death
reached Monte Carlo, the princess, who was there at the time, showed
various persons, on whose indiscretion she could rely, a holograph
letter of condolence from the czar, and later unfolded to the amiable
muddle-headed the intricacies of a lawsuit which she was instituting
for the recovery of the estates in Poland; but her detractors roundly
declared the holograph letter to be a forgery, and the lawsuit a
fiction of her crafty brain. Princess, however, she continued to style
herself in Cosmopolis, and princess she was styled by all and sundry,
and little Ottilie Rabomirski was called the Princess Ottilie.

Among the people who joined heart and soul with the detractors was
young Vince Somerset. If there was one person whom he despised and
hated more than Count Bernheim--of the holy Roman empire--it was the
Princess Rabomirski. In his eyes she was everything that a princess, a
lady, a woman and a mother should not be. She dressed ten years younger
than was seemly; she spoke English like a barmaid, and French like a
cocotte; she gambled her way through Europe from year’s end to year’s
end, and, after neglecting Ottilie for twenty years, she was about to
marry her to Bernheim. The last was the unforgivable offense.

The young man walked up and down the Casino terrace of
Illerville-sur-Mer, and poured into a friend’s ear his flaming
indignation. He was nine-and-twenty, and, though he pursued the
unpoetical avocation of sub-editing the foreign telegrams on a London
daily newspaper, retained some of the vehemence of undergraduate
days when he had chosen the career--now abandoned--of poet, artist,
dramatist and irreconcilable politician.

“Look at them!” he cried, indicating a couple seated at a distant
table beneath the awning of the café. “Did you ever see anything so
horrible in your life? The maiden and the Minotaur. When I heard of the
engagement today I wouldn’t believe it until she herself told me. She
doesn’t know the man’s abomination. He’s a byword of reproach through
Europe. The live air reeks with the scent he pours upon himself. There
can be no turpitude under the sun in which the wretch doesn’t wallow.
Do you know that he killed his first wife? Oh, I don’t mean that he cut
her throat. That’s far too primitive for such a complex hound. There
are other ways of murdering a woman, my dear Ross. You kick her body
and break her heart and defile her soul. That’s what he did. And he has
done it to other women.”

“But, my dear man,” remarked Ross, elderly and cynical, “he is
colossally rich.”

“Rich! Do you know where he made his money? In the cesspool of European
finance. He’s a Jew by race, a German by parentage, an Italian by
upbringing, and a Greek by profession. He has bucket shops and low-down
money lenders’ cribs and rotten companies all over the Continent. Do
you remember Sequasto & Co.? That was Bernheim. England’s too hot to
hold him. Look at him now he has taken off his hat. Do you know why he
wears his greasy hair plastered over half his damned forehead? It’s to
hide the mark of the beast. He’s anti-Christ! And when I think of that
Jezebel from the Mile-End Road putting Ottilie into his arms, it makes
me see red. By heavens, it’s touch and go that I don’t slay the pair of
them!”

“Very likely they’re not as bad as they’re painted,” said his friend.

“She couldn’t be,” Somerset retorted, grimly.

Ross laughed, looked at his watch and announced that it was time
for _apéritifs_. The young man assented, moodily, and they crossed
the terrace to the café tables beneath the awning. It was the dying
afternoon of a sultry August day, and most of Illerville had deserted
tennis courts, _tir aux pigeons_ and other distractions to listen
lazily to the band in the Casino shade. The place was crowded;
not a table vacant. When the waiter at last brought one from the
interior of the café, he dumped it down beside the table occupied by
the unspeakable Bernheim and the little Princess Ottilie. Somerset
raised his hat as he took his seat. Bernheim responded with elaborate
politeness, and Princess Ottilie greeted him with a faint smile. The
engaged pair spoke very little to each other. Bernheim lounged back
in his chair, smoking a cigar, and looked out to sea with a bored
expression. When the girl made a casual remark he nodded rudely
without turning his head. Somerset felt an irresistible desire to
kick him. His external appearance was of the type that irritated
the young Englishman. He was too handsome in a hard, swaggering,
black-mustachioed way; he exaggerated to offense the English style
of easy dress; he wore a too devil-may-care Panama, a too obtrusive
colored shirt and club tie; he wore no waistcoat, and the hems of
his new flannel trousers, turned up six inches, disclosed a stretch
of tan-colored silk socks, clocked with gold, matching overelegant
tan shoes. He went about with a broken-spirited poodle. He was
inordinately scented. Somerset glowered at him, and let his drink
remain untasted.

Presently Bernheim summoned the waiter, paid him for the tea the girl
had been drinking, and pushed back his chair.

“This hole is getting on my nerves,” he said, in French, to his
companion. “I am going into the _cercle_ to play _écarté_. Will you go
to your mother, whom I see over there, or will you stay here?”

“I’ll stay here,” said the little Princess Ottilie.

Bernheim nodded and swaggered off. Somerset bent forward.

“I must see you alone to-night--quite alone. I must have you all to
myself. How can you manage it?”

Ottilie looked at him anxiously. She was fair and innocent, of a
prettiness more English than foreign, and the scare in her blue eyes
made them all the more appealing to the young man.

“What is the good? You can’t help me. Don’t you see that it is all
arranged?”

“I’ll undertake to disarrange it at a moment’s notice,” said Somerset.

“Hush!” she whispered, glancing round. “Somebody will hear. Everything
is gossiped about in this place.”

“Well, will you meet me?” the young man persisted.

“If I can,” she sighed. “If they are both playing baccarat, I may slip
out for a little.”

“As at Spa.”

She smiled, and a slight flush came into her cheeks.

“Yes, as at Spa. Wait for me on the _plage_ at the bottom of the Casino
steps. Now I must go to my mother. She would not like to see me talking
to you.”

“The princess hates me like poison. Do you know why?”

“No, and you are not going to tell me,” she said, demurely. “_Au
revoir._”

When she had passed out of earshot, Ross touched the young man’s arm.

“I’m afraid, my dear Somerset, you are playing a particularly silly
fool’s game.”

“Have you never played it?”

“Heaven forbid!”

“It would be a precious sight better for you if you had,” growled
Somerset.

“I’ll take another _quinquina_,” said Ross.

“Did you see the way in which the brute treated her?” Somerset
exclaimed, angrily. “If it’s like that before marriage, what will it be
after?”

“Plenty of money, separate establishments, perfect independence and
happiness for each.”

Somerset rose from the table.

“There are times, my good Ross,” said he, “when I absolutely hate you.”

       *       *       *       *       *

Somerset had first met the Princess Rabomirski and her daughter three
years before, at Spa. They were staying at the same hotel, a very
modest one, which, to Somerset’s mind, ill accorded with the princess’
pretensions. Bernheim was also in attendance, but he disposed his
valet, his motor car and himself in the luxurious Hôtel d’Orange,
as befitted a man of his quality; also he was in attendance not on
Ottilie, but on the princess, who at that time was three years younger
and a trifle less painted. Now at Illerville-sur-Mer the trio were
stopping at the Hôtel Splendide, a sumptuous hostelry, whose season
prices were far above Somerset’s moderate means. He contented himself
with the little hotel next door, and hated the Hôtel Splendide and all
that it contained, save Ottilie, with all his heart. But at Spa, the
princess was evidently in low water from which she did not seem to be
rescued by her varying luck at the tables. Ottilie was then a child
of seventeen, and Somerset was less attracted by her delicate beauty
than by her extraordinary loneliness. Day after day, night after night,
he would come upon her sitting solitary on one of the settees in the
gaming room, like a forgotten fan or flower, or wandering wistfully
from table to table, idly watching the revolving wheels. Sometimes she
would pause behind her mother’s or Bernheim’s chair to watch their
game; but the princess called her a little _porte-malheur_ and would
drive her away. In the mornings or on other rare occasions, when the
elder inseparables were not playing roulette, Ottilie hovered round
them at a distance, as disregarded as a shadow that followed them in
space of less dimensions, as it were, wherever they went. In the Casino
rooms, if men spoke to her, she replied in shy monosyllables and shrank
away. Somerset, who had made regular acquaintance with the princess
at the hotel and who took a chivalrous pity on her loneliness, she
admitted first to a timid friendship and then to a childlike intimacy.
Her face would brighten and her heart beat a little faster when she
saw his young, well-knit figure appear in the distance; for she knew
he would come straight to her and take her from the hot rooms heavy
with perfumes and tobacco on to the cool balcony and talk of all manner
of pleasant things. And Somerset found in this neglected little sham
princess what his youth was pleased to designate a flower-like soul.
Those were idyllic hours. The princess, glad to get the embarrassing
child out of the way, took no notice of the intimacy. Somerset fell in
love.

It lasted out a three years’ separation during which he did not hear
from her. He had written to several addresses, but a cold post office
returned his letters undelivered, and his only consolation was to piece
together from various sources the unedifying histories of the Princess
Rabomirski and Count Bernheim, of the holy Roman Empire. He came to
Illerville-sur-Mer for an August holiday. The first thing he did when
shown into his hotel bedroom was to gaze out of the window at the beach
and the sea. The first person his eyes rested upon was the little
Princess Ottilie issuing, alone as usual, from the doors of the next
hotel.

He had been at Illerville a fortnight--a fortnight of painful joy.
Things had changed. Their interviews had been mostly stolen, for the
Princess Rabomirski had rudely declined to renew the acquaintance and
had forbidden Ottilie to speak to him. The girl, though apparently
as much neglected as ever, was guarded against him with peculiar
ingenuity. Somerset, aware that Ottilie, now grown from a child into
an exquisitely beautiful and marriageable young woman, was destined
by a hardened sinner like the princess for a wealthier husband than a
poor newspaper man with no particular prospects, could not, however,
quite understand the reason for the virulent hatred of which he was
the object. He overheard the princess one day cursing her daughter in
execrable German for having acknowledged his bow a short time before.
Their only undisturbed time together was in the sea during the bathing
hour. The princess, hating the pebbly beach, which cut to pieces
her high-heeled shoes, never watched the bathers, and Bernheim, who
did not bathe--Somerset, prejudiced, declared that he did not even
wash--remained in his bedroom till the hour of _déjeuner_. Ottilie,
attended only by her maid, came down to the water’s edge, threw off her
peignoir, and, plunging into the water, found Somerset waiting.

Now, Somerset was a strong swimmer. Moderately proficient at all games
as a boy and an undergraduate, he had found that swimming was the
only sport in which he excelled, and he had cultivated and maintained
the art. Oddly enough, the little Princess Ottilie, in spite of her
apparent fragility, was also an excellent and fearless swimmer. She
had another queer delight for a creature so daintily feminine--the
_salle d’armes_--so that the muscles of her young limbs were firm
and well-ordered. But the sea was her passion. If an additional bond
between Somerset and herself were needed, it would have been this. Yet,
though it is a pleasant thing to swim far away into the loneliness of
the sea with the object of one’s affections, the conditions do not
encourage sustained conversation on subjects of vital interest. On
the day when Somerset learned that his little princess was engaged to
Bernheim he burned to tell her more than could be spluttered out in ten
fathoms of water. So he urged her to an assignation.

At half-past ten she joined him at the bottom of the Casino steps. The
shingly _plage_ was deserted, but on the terrace above the throng was
great, owing to the breathless heat of the night.

“Thank Heaven you have come,” said he. “Do you know how I have longed
for you?”

She glanced up wistfully into his face. In her simple cream dress and
burnt straw hat adorned with white roses round the brim, she looked
very fair and childlike.

“You mustn’t say such things,” she whispered. “They are wrong now. I am
engaged to be married.”

“I won’t hear of it,” said Somerset. “It is a horrible nightmare--your
engagement. Don’t you know that I love you? I loved you the first
minute I set my eyes on you at Spa.”

Princess Ottilie sighed, and they walked along the boards behind the
bathing machines, and down the rattling beach to the shelter of a
fishing boat, where they sat down, screened from the world, with the
murmuring sea in front of them. Somerset talked of his love and the
hatefulness of Bernheim. The little princess sighed again.

“I have worse news still,” she said. “It will pain you. We are going to
Paris to-morrow, and then on to Aix-les-Bains. They have just decided.
They say the baccarat here is silly, and they might as well play for
bonbons. So we must say good-by to-night--and it will be good-by for
always.”

“I, too, will come to Aix-les-Bains,” said Somerset.

“No, no,” she answered, quickly. “It would only bring trouble on me,
and do no good. We must part to-night. Don’t you think it hurts me?”

“But you must love me,” said Somerset.

“I do,” she said, simply, “and that is why it hurts. Now I must be
going back.”

“Ottilie,” said Somerset, grasping her hands, “need you ever go back?”

“What do you mean?” she asked.

“Come away from this hateful place with me--now, this minute. You need
never see Bernheim again as long as you live. Listen. My friend Ross
has a motor car. I can manage it--so there will be only us two. Run
into your hotel for a thick cloak, and meet me as quickly as you can
behind the tennis courts. If we go full speed we’ll catch the night
boat at Dieppe. It will be a wild race for our life happiness. Come!”

In his excitement he rose and pulled her to her feet. They faced each
other for a few glorious moments, panting for breath, and then Princess
Ottilie broke down and cried bitterly.

“I can’t, dear, I can’t. I must marry Bernheim. It is to save my mother
from something dreadful. I don’t know what it is--but she went on her
knees to me, and I promised.”

“If there’s a woman in Europe capable of getting out of her
difficulties unaided it is the Princess Rabomirski,” said Somerset. “I
am not going to let you be sold. You are mine, Ottilie, and, by Heaven!
I’m going to have you. Come.”

He urged, he pleaded, he put his strong arms around her as if he would
carry her away bodily. He did everything that a frantic young man
could do. But the more the little princess wept, the more inflexible
she became. Somerset had not realized before this steel in her nature.
Raging and vehemently urging, he accompanied her back to the Casino
steps.

“Would you like to say good-by to me to-morrow morning, instead of
to-night?” she asked, holding out her hand.

“I am never going to say good-by,” cried Somerset.

“I shall slip out to-morrow morning for a last swim--at six o’clock,”
she said, unheeding his exclamation. “Our train goes at ten.” Then she
came very close to him.

“Vince, dear, if you love me, don’t make me more unhappy than I am.”

It was an appeal to his chivalry. He kissed her hand and said:

“At six o’clock.”

But Somerset had no intention of bidding her a final farewell in the
morning. If he followed her the world over he would snatch her out
of the arms of the accursed Bernheim and marry her by main force. As
for the foreign telegrams of the _Daily Post_, he cared not how they
would be subedited. He went to bed with lofty disregard of Fleet Street
and bread and butter. As for the shame from which Ottilie’s marriage
would save her sainted mother, he did not believe a word of it. She
was selling Ottilie to Bernheim for cash down. He stayed awake most of
the night plotting schemes for the rescue of his princess. It would be
an excellent plan to insult Bernheim and slay him outright in a duel.
Its disadvantages lay in his own imperfections as a duelist, and for
the first time he cursed the benign laws of his country. At length he
fell asleep; woke up to find it daylight and leaped to his feet in a
horrible scare. But a sight of his watch reassured him. It was only
five o’clock. At half-past he put on a set of bathing things and sat
down by the window to watch the hall door of the Hôtel Splendide. At
six out came the familiar figure of the little princess draped in her
white peignoir. She glanced up at Somerset’s window. He waved his
hand, and in a minute or two they were standing side by side at the
water’s edge. It was far away from the regular bathing place marked
by the bathing cabins, and further still from the fishing end of the
beach, where alone at that early hour were signs of life visible. The
town behind them slept in warmth and light. The sea stretched out blue
and unrippled in the still air. A little bank of purple cloud on the
horizon presaged a burning day.

The little princess dropped her peignoir and kicked off her straw-soled
shoes and gave her hand to her companion. He glanced at the little
white feet, which he was tempted to fall down and kiss, and then at
the wistful face below the blue-silk foulard knotted in front over the
bathing cap. His heart leaped at her bewildering sweetness. She was the
morning incarnate.

She read his eyes, and flushed pink.

“Let us go in,” she said.

They waded in together, hand in hand, until they were waist deep. Then
they struck out, making for the open sea. The sting of the night had
already passed from the water. To their young blood it felt warm. They
swam near together, Ottilie using a steady breast stroke and Somerset a
side stroke, so that he could look at her flushed and glistening face.
From the blue of the sea and the blue of the sky and the light blue of
the silk foulard, the blue of her eyes grew magically deep.

“There seems to be nothing but you and I in God’s universe, Ottilie,”
said he. She smiled at him. He drew quite close to her.

“If we could only go on straight until we found an enchanted island
which we could have as our kingdom!”

“The sea must be our kingdom,” said Ottilie.

“Or its depths. Shall we dive down and look for the ‘ceiling of amber,
the pavement of pearl,’ and the ‘red gold throne in the heart of the
sea’ for the two of us?”

“We should be happier than in the world,” replied the little princess.

They swam on slowly, dreamily, in silence. The mild waves lapped
against their ears and their mouths. The morning sun lay at their backs
and its radiance fell athwart the bay. Through the stillness came the
faint echo of a fisherman on the far beach hammering at his boat.
Beyond that and the gentle swirl of the water there was no sound. After
a while they altered their course so as to reach a small boat that lay
at anchor for the convenience of the stronger swimmers. They clambered
up and sat on the gunwale, their feet dangling in the sea.

“Is my princess tired?” he asked.

She laughed in merry scorn.

“Tired? Why, I could swim twenty times as far. Do you think I have no
muscle? Feel. Don’t you know I fence all the winter?”

She braced her bare arm. He felt the muscle; then relaxing it by
drawing down her wrist, he kissed it very gently.

“Soft and strong--like yourself,” said he. Ottilie said nothing, but
looked at her white feet through the transparent water. She thought
that in letting him kiss her arm, and feeling as though he had kissed
right through to her heart, she was exhibiting a pitiful lack of
strength. Somerset looked at her askance, uncertain. For nothing in the
world would he have offended.

“Did you mind?” he whispered.

She shook her head and continued to look at her feet. Somerset felt a
great happiness pulse through him.

“If I gave you up,” said he, “I should be the poorest-spirited dog that
ever whined.”

“Hush!” she said, putting her hand in his. “Let us think only of the
present happiness.”

They sat silent for a moment, contemplating the little red-roofed town
of Illerville-sur-Mer, which nestled in greenery beyond the white sweep
of the beach, and the rococo hotels and the Casino, whose cupolas
flashed gaudily in the morning sun. From the northeastern end of the
bay stretched a long line of sheer white cliff as far as the eye could
reach. Toward the west it was bounded by a narrow headland running far
out to sea.

“It looks like a frivolous little Garden of Eden,” said Somerset, “but
I wish we could never set foot in it again.”

“Let us dive in and forget it,” said Ottilie.

She slipped into the water. Somerset stood on the gunwale and dived.
When he came up and had shaken the salt water from his nostrils, he
joined her in two or three strokes.

“Let us go round the point to the little beach the other side.”

She hesitated. It would take a long time to swim there, rest and swim
back. Her absence might be noticed. But she felt reckless. Let her
drink this hour of happiness to the full. What mattered anything that
could follow? She smiled assent, and they struck out steadily for
the point. It was good to have the salt smell, and the taste of the
brine, and the pleasant smart of the eyes; and to feel their mastery of
the sea. As they threw out their flashing white arms and topped each
tiny wave, they smiled in exultation. To them it seemed impossible
that anyone could drown. For the buoyant hour they were creatures of
the element. Now and then a gull circled before them, looked at them
unconcernedly, as if they were in some way of his kindred, and swept
away into the distance. A tired white butterfly settled for a moment
on Ottilie’s head; then light-heartedly fluttered away seaward to its
doom. They swam on and on and they neared the point. They slackened for
a moment, and he brought his face close to hers.

“If I said: ‘Let us swim on for ever and ever,’ would you do it?”

“Yes,” she said, looking deep into his eyes.

After a while they floated restfully. The last question and answer
seemed to have brought them a great peace. They were conscious of
little save the mystery of the cloudless ether above their faces and
the infinite sea that murmured in their ears strange harmonies of love
and death--harmonies woven from the human yearnings of every shore and
the hushed secrets of eternal time. So close were they bodily together
that now and then hand touched hand and limb brushed limb. A happy
stillness of the soul spread its wings over them and they felt it to be
a consecration of their love. Presently his arm sought her, encircled
her, brought her head on his shoulder.

“Rest a little,” he whispered.

She closed her eyes, surrendered her innocent self to the flooding
rapture of the moment. The horrors that awaited her passed from her
brain. He had come to the lonely child like a god out of heaven. He had
come to the frightened girl like a new terror. He was by her side now,
the man whom of all men God had made to accomplish her womanhood and to
take all of soul and body, sense and brain, that she had to give. Their
salt lips met in a first kiss of passion. Words would have broken the
spell of the enchantment cast over them by the infinite spaces of sea
and sky. They drifted on and on, the subtle, subconscious movement of
foot and hand keeping them afloat. The little princess moved closer
to him so as to feel more secure around her the circling pressure of
his arm. He laughed a man’s short, exultant laugh, and gripped her more
tightly. Never had he felt his strength more sure. His right arm and
his legs beat rhythmically, and he felt the pulsation of the measured
strokes of his companion’s feet, and the water swirled past his head
so that he knew they were making way most swiftly. Of exertion there
was no sense whatever. He met her eyes fixed through half-shut lids
upon his face. He lost count of time and space. Now and then a little
wave broke over their faces and they laughed and cleared the brine from
their mouths and drew more close together.

“If it wasn’t for that,” she whispered once, “I could go to sleep.”

Soon they felt the gentle rocking of the sea increase and waves broke
more often over them. Somerset was the first to note the change.
Loosening his hold of Ottilie, he trod water and looked around. To his
amazement, they were still abreast of the point, but far out to sea.
He gazed at it uncomprehendingly for an instant, and then a sudden
recollection smote him like a message of death. They had caught the
edge of the current against which swimmers were warned, and the current
held them in its grip and was sweeping them on while they floated
foolishly. A swift glance at Ottilie showed him that she, too, realized
the peril. With the outgoing tide it was almost impossible to reach the
shore.

“Are you afraid?” he asked.

She shook her head. “Not with you.”

He scanned the land and the sea. On the arc of their horizon lay the
black hull of a tramp steamer going eastward. Far away to the west was
a speck of white, and against the pale sky a film of smoke. Landward,
beyond the shimmering water, stretched the sunny bay, and the Casino
was just visible. Its gilt cupolas shot tiny flames. The green-topped
point, its hither side deep in shadow, reached out helplessly for them.
Somerset and Ottilie still paused, doing nothing more than keeping
themselves afloat, and they felt the current drifting them ever seaward.

“It looks like death,” he said, gravely. “Are you afraid to die?”

Again Ottilie said: “Not with you.”

He looked at the land, and he looked at the white speck and the puff of
smoke. Then suddenly his heart leaped with the thrilling inspiration of
a wild impossibility.

“Let us leave Illerville and France behind us. Death is as certain
either way.”

The little princess looked at him wonderingly.

“Where are we going?”

“To England.”

“Anywhere but Illerville,” she said.

He struck out seaward, she followed. Each saw the other’s face white
and set. They had current and tide with them, they swam steadily,
undistressed. After a silence she called to him.

“Vince, if we go to our kingdom under the sea, you will take me down in
your arms?”

“In a last kiss,” he said.

He had heard--as who has not?--of love being stronger than death. Now
he knew its truth. But he swore to himself a great oath that they
should not die.

“I shall take my princess to a better kingdom,” he said, later.

       *       *       *       *       *

Presently he heard her breathing painfully. She could not hold out much
longer.

“I will carry you,” he said.

An expert swimmer, she knew the way to hold his shoulders and leave his
arms unimpeded. The contact of her light young form against his body
thrilled him and redoubled his strength. He held his head for a second
high out of the water and turned half round.

“Do you think I am going to let you die--now?”

The white speck had grown into a white hull, and Somerset was making
across its track. To do so he must deflect slightly from the line of
the current. His great battle began.

He swam doggedly, steadily, husbanding his strength. If the vessel
justified his first flash of inspiration, and if he could reach her,
he knew how he should act. As best he could, for it was no time for
speech, he told Ottilie his hopes. He felt the spray from her lips upon
his cheek, as she said:

“It seems sinful to wish for greater happiness than this.”

After that there was utter silence between them. At first he thought
exultingly of Bernheim and the Princess Rabomirski, and the rage of
their wicked hearts; of the future glorified by his little princess of
the unconquerable soul; of the present’s mystic consummation of their
marriage. But gradually mental concepts lost sharpness of definition.
Sensation began to merge itself into a half-consciousness of stroke
on stroke through the illimitable waste. Despite the laughing morning
sunshine, the sky became dark and lowering. The weight on his neck grew
heavier. At first Ottilie had only rested her arms. Now her feet were
as lead, and sank behind him; her clasp tightened about his shoulders.
He struggled on through a welter of sea and mist. Strange sounds sang
in his ears, as if over them had been clamped great sea shells. At each
short breath his throat gulped down bitter water. A horrible pain crept
across his chest. His limbs seemed paralyzed, and yet he remained above
the surface. The benumbed brain wondered at the miracle.

The universe broke upon his vision as a blurred mass of green and
white. He recognized it vaguely as his kingdom beneath the sea, and, as
in a dream, he remembered his promise. He slipped round. His lips met
Ottilie’s. His arms wound about her, and he sank holding her tightly
clasped.

       *       *       *       *       *

Strange things happened. He was pulled hither and thither by sea
monsters welcoming him to his kingdom. In a confused way he wondered
that he could breathe so freely in the depths of the ocean. Unutterable
happiness stole over him. The kingdom was _real_. His sham princess
would be queen in very truth. But where was she?

He opened his eyes and found himself lying on the deck of a ship. A
couple of men were doing funny things to his arms. A rosy-faced man in
white ducks and a yachting cap stood over him with a glass of brandy.
When he had drunk the spirit, the rosy man laughed.

“That was a narrow shave. We got you just in time. We were nearly right
on you. The young woman is doing well. My wife is looking after her.”

As soon as he could collect his faculties, Somerset asked:

“Are you the _Mavis_?”

“Yes.”

“I felt sure of it. Are you Sir Henry Ransome?”

“That’s my name.”

“I heard you were expected at Illerville to-day,” said Somerset. “That
is why I made for you.”

The two men who had been doing queer things with his arms wrapped him
in a blanket and propped him up against the deck cabin.

“But what on earth were you two young people doing in the middle of the
English Channel?” asked the owner of the _Mavis_.

“We were eloping,” said Somerset.

The other looked at him for a bewildered moment and burst into a roar
of laughter. He turned to the cabin door and disappeared, to emerge a
moment afterward followed by a lady in a morning wrapper.

“What do you think, Marian? It’s an elopement.”

Somerset smiled at them.

“Have you ever heard of the Princess Rabomirski? You have? Well, this
is her daughter. Perhaps you know of the Count Bernheim, who is always
about with the princess?”

“I trod on him last winter at Monte Carlo,” said Sir Henry Ransome.

“He survives,” said Somerset, “and has bought the Princess Ottilie from
her mother. He’s not going to get her. She belongs to me. My name is
Somerset, and I am foreign subeditor of the _Daily Post_.”

“I am very pleased to make your acquaintance, Mr. Somerset,” said Sir
Henry, with a smile. “And now, what can I do for you?”

“If you lend us some clothes, and take us to any port on earth save
Illerville-sur-Mer, you will earn our eternal gratitude.”

Sir Henry looked doubtful. “We have made our arrangements for
Illerville,” said he.

His wife broke in:

“If you don’t take these romantic beings straight to Southampton, I’ll
never set my foot upon this yacht again.”

“It was you, my dear, who were crazy to come to Illerville.”

“Don’t you think,” said Lady Ransome, “you might provide Mr. Somerset
with some dry things?”

       *       *       *       *       *

Four hours afterward Somerset sat on deck by the side of Ottilie, who,
warmly wrapped, lay on a long chair. He pointed to the far-away coast
line of the Isle of Wight.

“Behold our kingdom!” said he.

The little princess laughed.

“That is not our kingdom.”

“Well, what is?”

“Just the little bit of space that contains both you and me,” she said.

[Illustration]



THE MOST EXCLUSIVE CITY IN AMERICA

By

Anne Rittenhouse

[Illustration]


The mighty colony of rich tourists who go South with the birds have
begun to love two quaint, historic Southern cities. One hears gossip
and anecdote of them in the Fifth Avenue clubs and the Philadelphia and
Chicago drawing rooms. Many a man has become instantly _persona grata_
in Northern centers because he registered from one of these towns.

Each city has recognized this advent of an army of Northerners in a
different way--a way which indicates the heart and soul of the people.
Charleston sits and smiles behind its jalousie blinds--a conservative
relic of Huguenot days. Augusta leaps eagerly forward to meet them,
commercially, if not always socially.

The difference between these two cities lying so close together,
separated by the great yellow Savannah River, which leisurely picks
its way among the rice savannas, is understood but not defined by
the tourists. They are more desirous to enter into the social life,
of these two places than they are of any other winter resort, for,
while the South is honeycombed with Northern hotels, they are usually
laid along the lines that will make capital for promoters. Beyond the
climate and the visitors, there is nothing.

Palm Beach is an imitation of Monaco. It is not a city. It is without
history. New Orleans is the quaintest city alive in America, but its
horizon is broader, its basis more substantial, than any other Southern
city, and it is not such a Mecca for the casual traveler. Neither is
Richmond, with all its history and picturesque tradition.

Atlanta is the Chicago of the South, and is too busy with its future
to remember it has not a cobwebbed past. Aiken, the best-known cottage
resort of the South, is a suburb of Augusta. It is but a village in the
pines.

This is the reason Charleston and Augusta stand with the Northerners
for character study, history and individual charm. Yet thousands of
travelers, eager as they are about it, know almost nothing of the core
of these two cities. They dwell lovingly on the quaint houses of the
one and the great street of the other, but the blinds are jealously
down. The wooden shutters of the domestic life are kept closed.
So they miss that which is most exquisite, most appealing, in any
city--personality.

Charleston is, without doubt, the most exclusive city in America.
It gives nothing out to the stranger beyond its physical beauty and
tempered climate. One keen observer said of it: “It has only one
equal--a German principality, where almost everyone is royal and
noble and all intermarried. Other places and social codes exist, of
course--New York, Chicago, Denver--but not for Charleston.”

A small child of that city was asked where Charleston was placed.
Proudly she said, “It is between the Cooper and the Ashley Rivers,
which join and _form_ the ocean.”

When the Bostonian speaks grandly of the _Mayflower_, the Huguenot of
Charleston smiles. He is remembering that Jean Ribaut landed a Huguenot
emigration in Port Royal fifty-eight years before the Puritans landed
in Massachusetts Bay. The Knickerbocker has no boast to make before
the South Carolinian, because the Dutch settled New York over half a
century later than Port Royal was begun.

Charleston was settled by aristocrats from France, and later from
England--men who came from the court and wore the garments and spoke
the language of the world’s highest circle. Like New Orleans, it sprang
into life as a cultured community. It had not the struggle upward for
social position. The great names it held then are its first names
to-day. And the world recognizes the bearers of these names as those
who have the hallmark of admission into the reserved social corners of
America.

The St. Cecilia Society exists in all its former charm and
exclusiveness. It is the oldest dancing club in America, as far as the
Charlestonian has any record, although the Philadelphian claims this
honor for the Quaker City’s famous Assemblies. It has not changed in
one iota since the early days of the eighteenth century, and, as far as
possible, the names of its managers have continued the same.

Josiah Quincy, who went to Charleston in 1773, says of the city, in
his diary: “It far surpasses all I ever saw or ever expect to see in
America.”

As early as January, 1734, Charleston had its drama, which was probably
the first theatrical performance in America. Its citizens went to
college in England; and Mr. Snowden, who knows his Charleston as
Thackeray knew his London, says South Carolina headed all the colonies
in the list of the London Inns of Court, and up to the time of the
Revolution had forty-five law students there.

When the Philadelphian speaks serenely of the Liberty Bell, the
Charlestonian smiles and remembers that in 1765 South Carolina took
the first step for a Continental Union, and that in Charleston was
formulated the first independent constitution in any of the colonies;
also that she furnished three of the signers of the Declaration of
Independence--Arthur Middleton, Thomas Heyward and Thomas Lynch, Jr.
To the world of art it gave Charles Fraser, the great miniaturist;
and Malbone also did his work there. The private houses held
Gainsboroughs, Stuarts, Romneys and Wests in the eighteenth century.

These are a few of the reasons that give the Charlestonian that serene
pride in self, country and relatives. This serenity broods over the
city; and the shock of wars, earthquakes, tidal wave and stupendous
fires has not shaken it.

Its laws of behavior and its rules of society are without change.
Whatever happens in the rest of the world need not be followed there.
There is a story told of the sexton of the famous old St. Michael’s,
the notable church, and of Crum, the negro whom President Roosevelt
made collector of the port. Crum brought several Northerners in a
carriage to the door. It was at an hour when no one was allowed in the
church. Crum insisted upon going in and taking his guests to the belfry
to see the famous bells. The sexton declined to allow it.

The negro collector drew himself up and said to the sexton:

“You surely don’t know who I am. My name is Crum.”

“Well, you could be the whole loaf and you wouldn’t be allowed in St.
Michael’s,” was the laconic answer.

It is easily inferred that the sexton was none too sorry to give a
verbal blow to the negro collector who persuaded white men from the
North to be his guests.

The Charleston negro who belongs to “the quality” shares and echoes his
master’s pride of birth and social tradition. The man who for decades
has delivered invitations for all the exclusive parties prides himself
on knowing every person worth speaking to in the city. A certain
Northern woman, who was kindly received in Charleston, gave a large
ball. She asked this colored man to carry the invitations for her. In
looking over the list, he made several suggestions concerning people
who should be crossed out, and those who should be put on.

The Northern woman asked if he was quite sure he knew where all these
people lived. His answer was delightful.

“Madam,” he said, “if there is any person in Charleston who lives
where I don’t know, that person shouldn’t be invited to your ball.”

Another colored retainer of a famous family has a stiff-necked belief
that nothing can happen to such aristocracy. A fire broke out in an
adjoining house on a back street, burned through the dividing fence
and destroyed the carriages in the stable. The master upbraided the
old negro for allowing it to happen when he could easily have removed
the traps. He said: “Massa, who’d ever t’ink dey fire would come in we
yard!”

Another negro butler, who dominated the household of a certain judge,
was serving at table one day when a second judge from up the State was
present. Both men were equally well-born of an ancient and honorable
ancestry, but the up-country man had not the graces of table etiquette.

When the fish course was served, he said to his host:

“Judge, I’d like to have some rice with this fish.”

“Did you hear the judge?” was asked the negro butler by the host.

The man gave a certain look at his master, then one of extreme
annoyance at the guest. Leaning over, he whispered distinctly in the
ear of the up-country judge:

“We don’t serve rice with fish in Charleston.”

The inner life of this Huguenot city is little known to the public,
because Charleston won’t have it known. The same exclusiveness and
privacy pervade her social and domestic system in the beginning of the
twentieth as in the eighteenth century.

No detailed description of this feeling could so firmly fix it in the
mind of the stranger as a remark made by a member of one of the oldest
families in the city. When a certain history of the Revolution was
published, it had a chapter on the part played in it by men of South
Carolina. Included in this was an intimate description of the bravery
of a Charleston general. An ancestor of this man wrote at once to the
publisher:

“You will be so kind as to leave out in your next edition all allusions
to my ancestor, General ----. What he did in the Revolution is a purely
private and family matter, and we do not wish it boldly displayed for
the public to read.”

In the next edition of the book the career of the Charlestonian was
left out!

This pride, however, works in another way. The well-born Charlestonian
expects the world to know who he is and whence he sprang.

This story is told--possibly as a joke, by Charlestonians--of an
elderly man at the head of a family a member of which signed the
Declaration of Independence. He presented a check to be cashed at a
bank in another Southern city. The cashier told him he would have to be
identified. To which he replied: “My God, has it come to this, that a
M----n must be identified in America!”

Socially, Charleston exercises a spell over the visitor. A famous
Northern lawyer, who went South last winter for the first time, could
not make up his mind to step off the train into the Charleston station
because of his rebellious feeling against that first shot at Sumter;
so he went on to Florida. Coming back, he determined to conquer his
prejudice and take a look at the Battery and St. Michael’s. He remained
for days. His observant criticism for once failed him.

“What people! What culture! What society!” This was all he could say,
but his exclamation points grew larger and longer after each phrase.

The first evidence of social quaintness in the town is the way the
first families live. Here comes the strain of French blood. The
venerable houses are placed among dense foliage, the side, never the
front, of the house facing the street. In this side are the parlor and
upper bedroom windows, which are never open to the public streets, but
covered with wooden shutters. Instead of a front doorbell to ring,
there is a small gate with a bell. This you tinkle, and a servant lets
you in. There is a long piazza running the full side length of the
house, which is often used as a sitting room. The piazza is usually
protected by jalousie blinds. If the formal caller finds it deserted,
he is shown in the reception room, with closed shutters, but in the
warm days all informal entertaining is done on the piazza.

A Western visitor said he knew it would not be as hard for a stranger
to pass St. Peter as to get by one of the heirloom butlers at a
Charleston gate.

Some of these houses are nearly two centuries old, and in many of
them the family name has been unchanged in that time. To sit on those
“galleries” of the Charleston aristocracy in the fragrant days of early
spring is one of the social memories that cling for life. There are the
wonderful voices of the people who are talking. The accent is without
imitation. It stands aloof as a study in folklore from any other accent
in the South. It is a perceptible mixture of French and English,
impossible to imitate or classify.

The air is salty with the breezes that drift past Sumter from the sea,
and keen with roses, jasmine and magnolias. The Spanish moss, trailing
to the ground from sturdy oaks, is silver in the moonlight, mysterious
in the shadow.

The pathways called residence streets are lines between lawns and
flowers. There is something here of the atmosphere of New Orleans,
something of the pungent odor and nerve-soothing softness, but the
Charlestonian is reposeful and the Creole is nervous and _staccato_.

You feel that here is a corner where things need not change, where
evolution is not worship, where the strenuous life is not considered
and may be thought a trifle vulgar.

It is not the simplicity of the simple-minded, not the stolid repose
of the uneducated. It is the calmness of those who have helped to
make history, who have achieved much, and who, believing they have no
superiors, are not made restless with social ambition.

The stranger who can lead those on the “galleries” to talk of days that
have gone, of characters who exist, of quaint traditions that are kept,
is fortunate. He has lifted a veil that hides much that is delightful
and unique.

It is told of the Charlestonian by his neighbors, that he often
criticises some improvement in another part of the South with the
remark, “If that change is progress, I want to progress backward.”

Charleston protects her age and her traditions against all newcomers.
She is not poor, she has few vagrants, she is not without a solid bank
account, she is the greatest phosphate shipping port in the world, but,
as a New York editorial writer said of her, “no tragedy that has passed
over her, or no change that has been made in America, has ever been
able to interrupt her prosperity or discourage her fixed purpose to be
comfortable.” She would no more change her architecture, or willingly
introduce new blood into her best families, than she would uproot the
gravestones of her first inhabitants, who rest in St. Michael’s, or
remove the shells of the bombardment from her walls.

Her manners, her society, her behavior in drawing room, ballroom and
street, are those of an older and more elegant world. Why should she
change? The girls in all other parts of the South may go unchaperoned
to balls, but she does not allow her girls to do it. Neither does the
exclusive Philadelphian nor the Knickerbocker of New York.

Other clubs use their windows as lounging places for the curious,
where idle men may sit and stare at the parade of women who pass on
the street. Charleston considers this vulgar. The front windows of its
club have drawn blinds. It is also regarded as beneath a gentleman to
mention a woman’s name in the club.

Promoters can talk all they wish, but, charm they never so wisely, they
can’t persuade the Charlestonian to welcome with delight a horde of
unidentified tourists. Cottages are rented here and there for writers
and artists and quiet people, but Charleston shakes her head when
approached on the subject of huge hotels which will accommodate the man
with millions from the swarming centers of America. She does not want
her streets, her shops or her atmosphere invaded by aliens.

It is almost impossible to think of her graciously accepting new blood
and new customs. The most notable person who came there would, if
accepted, owe his reception to the fact that one of her own had said
something of him. In this she has her counterpart in the creole of New
Orleans.

General John B. Gordon described this feeling in the French city with
a story of the Civil War. A Virginia soldier was boasting of General
Robert E. Lee during the first year of the war.

“Lee? Lee? I think I have heard General Beauregard speak well of Lee,”
answered the Creole zouave, as he rolled his cigarette.

Even the best lovers of innovation should eagerly desire Charleston to
retain its serenity. New ways would mean tearing down old places, not
at once, but in the end. And this would mean historical desecration.

St. Michael’s, its famous Episcopal church, should never be swamped by
incongruous buildings, as New York’s famous old churches have been.

It is to be preserved not only because of its socially exclusive
congregation, but because of the manifold troubles it has outlived.

Among its own people it is jestingly referred to as the Chapel of
Ease of the St. Cecilia Society, but every South Carolinian ardently
loves the old building. It was first opened for service in 1761, and
is still the finest piece of church architecture in the South. In
1782 the English took possession of the bells, and sent them to Great
Britain. The next year they were bought and sent back to Charleston.
When General Sherman was an unwelcome guest in 1865, two bells were
stolen and the rest made useless. These were sent to England, and a new
set recast by the firm which had made them in 1764. The same patterns
were exactly followed, and the bells replaced in 1867. During the great
earthquake of 1886, the bells and belfry were fearfully shaken, but no
harm came.

Augusta is not without her fine old past, too, but she is sharply
different in her modern standpoint from her sister city across the
Savannah. She gives Charleston the same adjective that New York kindly
bestows on Philadelphia--the word “slow.”

Augusta is a modern. She eagerly discusses and adopts that which is
new. She says of the Huguenot city that she “is joined to her idols,
let her alone.” And while she may now and then run after new gods, she
valiantly protects herself from any such reputation, and refers to
Atlanta, the capital city, as “new, so new.”

If Charleston says, “Oglethorpe--adventurers,” too often, Augusta
daringly answers back that the morals of the court of Louis were not
quite swamped in the French _émigrés_ by Calvinism.

But it is a merry war, a family tiff, in which let the outsider beware
of interfering.

Back of the rows of oaks are some splendid specimens of the finest
early architecture for residence purposes; spacious homes, with
rounded, vaulting white columns to support the arched façades which
project over the windows of the second story.

In one of the great houses a ball was given last winter, where six
spacious rooms on the lower floor were thrown open to the dancers, two
square halls were given over to foliage, loungers and orchestra, and
about three hundred guests were easily seated for an elaborate course
supper.

These Augustans know how to entertain. They are a prosperous
people, and they spend willingly and widely in New York on all the
paraphernalia that goes to enhance the modern table. The women buy
their clothes in New York whenever possible, and important dressmaking
and tailor firms think it worth while to open up for part of the season
at the two hotels that lure the Northern traveler. It is not the
Northerner they cater to, but the Augustans.

Their social life is lavish and strenuous. The St. Valentine Ball,
held once a year, is their oldest and most exclusive social function.
While it has on its list the first families, still it is not such an
institution as Charleston’s St. Cecilia, and there is constant talk of
its being dissolved. It has an exclusive series during the season of
dinner dances at its Country Club, which is one of the handsomest in
the South.

Far from discouraging tourists’ hotels, Augusta is anxious for
them. When the winter emigrants from the ice-swept North come well
recommended, they are received into the fashionable life of the place.
These people are always dazed at the magnitude and charm of the social
life. Less the millionaire splendor, a season in Augusta is quite as
time-absorbing as one in New York or Boston.

A New York bride who went there for two weeks on her honeymoon last
year attended five balls and dances, twelve luncheons, ten afternoon
teas and as many suppers, with a dozen invitations for morning card
parties. The bridegroom naïvely remarked, “I’ve never been on a
honeymoon before, but this one doesn’t seem like the real thing.”

It is almost certain that no town with equal population in the East
compares socially with the brilliancy of private life in this town on
the Savannah.

The tea and sandwich afternoon “at homes” of the East are
poverty-stricken affairs in the mind of an Augusta hostess.

“I wouldn’t treat a casual caller worse than that,” one of them
remarked, after looking at the fare provided at a smart Northern
afternoon affair, where the daughter of the house was being introduced
to society.

At an Augusta “tea” one receives the daintiest dishes the markets
offer, with wines and punch, prepared so as to follow out some
artistic color scheme. Massive silver, candelabra, mahogany, lace and
embroidered damasks, and profusion of Southern flowers, make these
dining rooms a pungent memory with those who have had the good fortune
to be asked behind the closed shutters.

Augusta is so modern in its desires and endeavors that it makes two
tourists’ hotels, which crown its hills, a part of its social life. One
is in Georgia, one in South Carolina, for the city is built on both
sides of the Savannah River; and in these are given smart dinners and
dances by the residents.

It is true they often refer to the guests of the hotels and to the
Aiken cottagers as “the Yankee millionaires,” as though they belonged
to another flag, and knew not the star-spangled banner. But if these
people have anything to teach, Augusta wants to learn it.

Commercially, she is rapidly going ahead in an extensive cotton and
manufacturing business, but her business streets do not give any idea
of how progressive is her financial and personal element. There is
still the _dolce far niente_ to be expected in every Southern town
except Atlanta and Richmond. The victorias still stop in front of drug
stores and wait for the clerks to bring soda water out to the occupants
on thirsty days; even occasionally one sees an ox team on the central
street; but the personal element, the people, have a zestful, sprightly
contact with modern life, and leap forward to meet its requirements
and demands. The Augustan is modernizing himself and his home. Rapid
transit in the business atmosphere may come later. It is bound to come,
for the soul of the people has reached out toward it. It now remains
merely a question of money; and Augusta is frankly striving after
money, and making it.

The Easterner and Westerner do not see beneath the surface of the
seeming commercial indolence. They are used to their own spick and span
little towns, filled to the brim with bustle, noise, activity and the
whoop-la of American get-ahead-of-your-neighbor atmosphere.

It may be that this will never be quite duplicated in a sub-tropical
climate. But the business is there, even if the men do walk slowly.

The tourist, looking at commercial externals only, naturally marvels at
the gowns of the women, the artistic and lavish homes, the unbridled
entertaining and the constant touch its richer members keep with New
York, nearly nine hundred miles away. Its people discuss the last play,
the best opera and the newest dishes at Sherry’s as easily as they
do home gossip. Naturally, this is not true of all the people, but it
fairly represents the attitude of the leading set.

The New York trip has been made easy by the “Yankee millionaires,” who
have made Augusta part of an elaborate railway and hotel system.

Of course there remains--and praise be that it is so--those of the old
_régime_. They are not altogether carried away by this elated modern
spirit. They do not entertain tourists or the passing cottager. They
are not quite sure but the new spirit may bring the Newport morals.
They recoil from the constant phrase, “They do it in New York.”

They remind the imitative younger generation that a well-born
Southerner has nothing to learn in manners and morals, and that
progress is not always improvement.

They point to Charleston as the dignified ideal of all that is old and
best.

They sigh, and say, “Things are not as they used to be.”

To which _Punch_ would again reply, “They never were.”



[Illustration]

THE GATE


  I who had wandered a weary mile, harkened a voice and knocked.
    Lo, Love answered, with song and smile,
    Though the wind of autumn mocked;
  All in the dawn I beheld Love’s face, set in a rose of flame--
    Oh, song is sweet in a lonely place
    And Love called me by name!

  “Stay while the rose and the song are one, linger with Love for a day!”
    “And what of the heart at set of sun
    When it fares on its lonely way?”
  “Nay, bide with Love in the flower of dawn, only the dawn with me!”
    “And what of the heart when it wanders on?
    And what of the night to be?”

  “Think not of night, but of Love’s fair face, thine for a golden morn!”
    Oh, song is sweet in a lonely place,
    But I turned to the rock and thorn.
  For had I lingered a fleeting while, what of the Road of Years?
    I, who had wandered a weary mile,
    Fared on to the Well of Tears.

            VIRGINIA WOODWARD CLOUD.



THE WAY OF A MAN

_By_ Robert Adger Bowen

[Illustration]


The beach was comparatively deserted. After the week-end, which had
been unusually gay, the few scattered groups gathered under the hired
umbrellas, with here and there the flash of an individual crimson or
green parasol, scarcely served to populate the stretch of hot sand.

Near his stand, the Harvard student who was serving as life-guard
during the summer months stood, bronzed and athletic, talking to a
young fellow whose scant bathing costume revealed the lines and muscles
of an Antinous.

“It is the day like this that strains my nerves,” the guard was saying.
“When the surf is filled with people, even if some one goes under,
there are a score of hands to give rescue, but that girl out there now,
beyond the breakers, makes me uneasy.”

“Swims like a fish,” responded the Antinous. “I’ve watched her for
days.”

“But she isn’t a fish, and if the realization came to her out there in
the water, she’d be altogether like a woman.”

“Since you are ill at ease about her, suppose I swim out, just to
relieve your mind?”

The guard nodded. There was the suspicion of a smile about his lips,
but he continued to watch the woman in question.

The distance to which the venturesome swimmer had gone was greater than
had been apparent from the beach, and before Merrington had made half
of it, the eyes of all those upon the sand and of those in the surf
were upon the woman and himself. Only the swimmers themselves remained
oblivious of the general interest.

Merrington swam on with the free, easy strokes of one to whom deep
water conveys no terrors. The very touch of the sea was tonic that
July morning, and he stretched his sinuous limbs with the overbounding
energy and delight of a perfect manhood. The thought of danger, even to
another, seemed an absurd thing to him, so sang the lusty blood in his
veins. Yet he swam with unerring, cleaving strokes after the woman, who
still went outward.

It was not until he had almost overtaken her that it occurred to him
that it might be necessary to formulate an excuse for his following.
The action had been so direct as to admit of no misunderstanding.
Consequently, as she turned, and found him near her, Merrington spoke.

“Miss Selwyn, if you will pardon me, it is not without danger that you
come so far out from shore. My name is Merrington--Geoffrey Merrington.”

She flushed slightly under the clear tan of her skin; then she bowed
her crimson ’kerchiefed head gravely.

“Thank you for your trouble, but I have never been drowned yet.”

“Nor have I,” he affirmed, laughing, keeping stroke with her. “Nor do I
want to be to-day.”

For answer, she turned her back upon him, and deliberately swam
seaward. Merrington followed.

“Miss Selwyn,” he said, presently, when her audacity sent queer
sensations about his heart, “may I remind you that this coast has many
counter-currents? Believe me, you should not venture out further--not
half so far.”

If she heard, she made no sign of doing so. Merrington, with an
added determination, cast a glance to shore, where he could see small
forms standing together in a way that, even at that distance, spelled
anxiety. He caught a glimpse of the guard, erect upon his observation
stand. Then he threw out his splendid limbs in strokes that sent him
beyond the girl, and, turning, faced her.

“Miss Selwyn, the entire beach is watching us. They will send a boat
for us in a moment, and compel our return.”

At that she looked him squarely in the eyes, the fire in her own
blazing into full wrath.

“This is an unwarrantable liberty.”

Merrington smiled. It had frequently been said that his smile made him
irresistible for any purpose he might have in mind. In all her anger,
Jacqueline was conscious of the full-throated tones of his voice.

“It has the highest warrant--that put upon it by Miss Selwyn herself.”

Perhaps it was his words, or, more probably, the masterful man himself,
that made her color vividly. Merrington held his clear, bold eyes upon
her as she hesitated.

“If I promise you to return now, will you leave me?” she asked, slowly.

“No, Miss Selwyn.”

“Look!” she commanded, imperiously, pointing to the shore.

When Merrington turned his face a second later there was no sign of the
girl. It seemed to him minutes before he caught sight of the familiar
crimson head, freshly risen from the sea, some distance off. His own
existence was apparently forgotten.

At this point of the game something altogether unexpected came over
the youth, favored of gods and man, and accustomed to getting what he
would. The remembrance of the scorn in the dark eyes that had flashed
into his stung him. The recollection of the defiance in the face and a
something bewitching in the taunting curves of the full lips, sent a
fire that was far from unpleasant through his blood. He stretched out
the supple muscles of his arms, and gave chase.

“That was very neatly done, Miss Selwyn,” he said, when his vigorous
action had brought them together again. “I think I may safely promise,
however, that you will not outwit me again.”

She raised her eyebrows ever so slightly. He was sure there was a
twinkle in the downcast eyes, but it was equally evident that the
girl did not intend to encourage his presumption by any speech. As he
watched her with a swiftly increasing interest, she turned over upon
her back with a complacence that was a rebuke, floating unconcernedly
past him.

Merrington followed. That he was being remorselessly snubbed for his
pains was giving him a novel sensation of self-pity that did not seem
to affect his genial humor very acutely. It served to keep him silent,
however. When Jacqueline sat up suddenly, the first thing that she saw
was Merrington’s gleaming eyes looking into her own. He had been so
near to her, when she unexpectedly faced him, that she could not ignore
his presence. Had he spoken, she might have used silence to positive
purpose. As it was, she said, coldly:

“You are strangely persistent.”

“I am never conquered,” he boasted.

For a brief moment she let her glance sweep over him as he lay in the
transparent shadow of the waves. A sense of vexation at his superb
virility, at his assured mastery of the situation, left her trembling.
Merrington misconstrued the reason.

“You are becoming chilled. We are a long way from the shore. If you
were to have a cramp now!”

“You’d have the cheap distinction of being a hero of the beach,” she
ejaculated, uncompromisingly rude.

“The poor opinion of the beach would not affect me in the least,” he
laughed, softly, “if you did not share it.”

“Mr. Merrington,” she flashed, “if you will swim back to the shore, I
shall follow you at an agreeable distance.”

“You have given me the slip once,” he said, slowly. “I am acting _ex
officio_; I fear I must be the judge of the agreeableness of the
distance.” Abruptly his banter fell from him. The dancing light in his
large eyes darkened into intensity. “Won’t you let me see you safely
in, Miss Selwyn?”

“Have your own way, then,” she said, with swift impatience, turning
toward the land. Merrington kept but an arm’s-length between them.

As they came out of the water, a little distance apart, a tall woman
separated herself from a group standing to one side, and bore down upon
Jacqueline.

“What a fright you have given us!” she cried. “I came down to the
beach to find you, and found instead everyone watching your rescue in
mid-ocean. Who was your deliverer?”

“Be sensible, Peggie. I do not know who it was that drove me in by his
officious intrusion.”

“Intrusion! Good gracious, Jacqueline, do you think you own the
Atlantic?”

Mrs. Le Moyne turned to look at the man, who, having accomplished his
purpose, was making his way to the stand of the guard once more. She
gave a little cry of surprise, which arrested his attention.

“Geoffrey! Where in the world did you come from?”

“Peggie!” Merrington cried, gleefully. “You don’t mean to say you’re
here?”

“I never make useless remarks, Geoffrey. How good you are looking! Of
course I needn’t introduce you now to Miss Selwyn. Jacqueline, this is
Mr. Merrington, my only and best cousin.”

Jacqueline bowed stiffly, without looking up. She was wringing the
water from the skirt of her suit.

“Of course,” Mrs. Le Moyne laughed, “it’s absurd to introduce people
that have been across seas together, but Jacqueline said she didn’t
know you, Geof. When did you come down, and where are you? But it
doesn’t matter. You must come to my cottage. I am just next door to
Jacqueline--plenty of room for you.”

Merrington looked at the girl, who apparently did not hear. In a
moment she turned, and joined the group which Mrs. Le Moyne had
forsaken.

“She will never forgive me for intruding upon her out there,”
Merrington said, indicating the sea by a sidewise motion of his head.
“She was really in danger, but wouldn’t acknowledge it.”

“And you want her to forgive you! I can see that with half an eye. What
a boy you are still, for all your body and legs! Have you let her see
that you care for her?”

“Hold on, there,” he laughed, folding his arms as he stood dripping
before her. “Don’t be in such a hurry.”

She looked him over carefully.

“Of course you made love to her more or less earnestly,” she said,
frankly. “It may only have been with your eyes, but it is a tendency
you can’t resist. The only trouble is, you never mean it.”

“If I did, Peggie, she would have none of me, and I did not mean to,
because----”

“Why?”

“I should rather do it to better purpose later on.”

“Really!” laughed his cousin. “That is the first time I’ve ever known
you willing to put any purpose in the indulgence.”

The gravity of his manner made her serious also.

“Peggie, old girl, this is the first time the indulgence has become a
necessity.”

Mrs. Le Moyne glanced over the wide beach, and above, at the almost
deserted board walk. Her party had withdrawn under the shade of the
promenade, and the bathers had all disappeared. She and Merrington were
alone except for a few outstretched figures, their faces covered with
newspapers. She turned to her companion.

“Go and get on some clothes,” she said, a hint of amusement about her
eyes. “It’s absurd to talk love to a man in such a state of nature as
his bathing suit.”


II.

Merrington had not been slow to avail himself of Mrs. Le Moyne’s
invitation to transfer his things from the hotel to her cottage. Any
hesitation he might have felt at abandoning the bachelor freedom of the
public hostelry was quite overcome when she pointed out to him, from
the windows of the room she offered, a view of the Selwyn cottage, just
across a plot of trimly kept grass.

For the first few days the move did not seem to profit him any in his
desire to see more of Jacqueline. Once he had met her on her way to the
beach, and she had given him a bare nod of recognition. Now and again
he caught glimpses of her on the neighboring veranda, but she never let
her glances stray in the direction of Mrs. Le Moyne’s cottage. Several
times when he had passed her on the board walk at the promenade hour,
she had not cared to notice him, and never with anything but a bow so
formal as to make it evident that she did not cut him entirely merely
because of his cousin’s introduction. Merrington knew, for the first
time in his enviable life, the pangs of misprized love.

His cousin was watching the course of his malady with interest.

“What do you know about Jacqueline?” she asked him one morning, as they
sat upon their veranda, and in response to his reiterated determination
to conquer that young lady’s aversion and make her his wife.

Merrington leaned forward, his boyish face radiant, the bronze of his
skin dark against the white suit he wore. His cousin let her eyes rest
on him with an admiration he was too modest to detect.

“Nothing and everything,” he returned, after a time. “She is the most
striking girl I’ve ever seen. She is plucky and daring and defiant.”

“Charming qualities for a wife! Is that all?”

“I can’t put the rest in words,” he answered, coloring swarthily.

Just then the latch of the Selwyns’ front gate clicked, and Jacqueline
appeared on the shaded street. Peggie came to a speedy resolution.

“Jacqueline!” she cried. “Wait a minute until I get my hat. I want to
join you.”

As the girl stopped at the foot of the path, Merrington went briskly
toward her. She met him with grave annoyance.

“We have become near neighbors, Miss Selwyn.” There was not a trace of
nervousness in the clear tones.

“That is a seaside perquisite. Asbury, especially, makes the whole
world kin.”

He could not have said that she was rude, but every word was a rebuff
and a disclaimer of intimacy. His instinct told him it was not rudeness
of which she was accusing him. So much, at least, had his introduction
to her wrought. The reflection made him smile genially, and she noted
how dazzling his even teeth were in his suntanned face.

“Miss Selwyn, I wish you would forgive me.”

“Really there is nothing to forgive. Do you think Mrs. Le Moyne has
forgotten me?”

“I am sure she has not. Do you know that is the first friendly remark
you have made me?”

He saw her brows arch themselves slightly while her glance sought him
an instant.

“To be frank with you,” she said, “I do not know that I meant it to be
particularly friendly.”

“It wasn’t, but you have been so particularly unfriendly.”

She flushed, turning long before she needed to greet Peggie, who came
leisurely down the walk with book and parasol, and tossed a cap to
Merrington.

“We are all going to listen to the music, isn’t that it?” she asked.
“The orchestra is really worth hearing this year--too good, indeed, for
the crowd that goes to the pavilions.”

“I am going in the water,” Jacqueline said, laying an accent of defense
on the pronoun. They walked on together, Peggie in the middle.

“Let us all go,” Merrington urged. “It is a gorgeous day. The sea is
absolutely singing to us.”

When they reached the board walk, the sea stretched out before them
resplendent in the sun. There were a few bathers at the upper lines,
but lower down, the beach could be seen already dotted by the patrons
of the more central baths. In the glare of the hot sun the walk was
empty, but in the grateful coolness of the pavilions many had gathered
to hear the music. Peggie espied an acquaintance on the platform above
them, and ran thither. Jacqueline was plainly provoked.

“If Peggy deserts us,” Merrington said, sententiously, “why should we
not desert Peggie?”

Jacqueline frowned.

“Need I detain you?” she asked. “I was coming here alone when your
cousin stopped me. That is, I mean, I was going in the water. I had no
intention of stopping in this sunless dampness.”

“I hate it, too. Why should we stop?”

The girl looked at him intently, her heart quickening with an emotion
that she could not have defined, so complex was it, indeed, of
many emotions. Mingled with her anger and annoyance was an almost
imperceptible tremor of fear which made her catch her breath.

Merrington waited patiently for her answer. There was nothing in the
bold squareness of his youthful attitude to betoken the uncertainty
of mind in which she was holding him. On the contrary, he smiled with
well-assumed assurance, his eyes frankly admiring in their gaze.
Jacqueline spoke, suppressing partially her irritation:

“How dull you must be finding the time! Do you know no one down here?”

“I have forgotten time and people.” The meaning in his look and voice
sent the blood to the girl’s face. She glanced about her uneasily, but
Peggie’s back, and the animation with which she was talking to her
friends, gave no encouragement. She turned, impulsively.

“Come,” she said, imperiously enough. “We will go in the water for a
little while.”

To Merrington’s surprise, when he appeared on the beach in his
swimming suit, Jacqueline was already in the surf. This tacit
avoidance of him banished the smile from his lips for a moment as her
more positive combativeness had not been able to do.

That he was really in love at last, Merrington knew beyond the
possibility of a doubt. He knew it, because in all the twenty-six years
of his petted life he had never experienced anything like this peaceful
elation underlying all the tremor of his senses. Jacqueline disdained
him; he recognized that fact, but it caused him no more genuine
annoyance than the breaking upon him, when he entered the surf that was
now rolling in before him, of the waves which his manhood delighted to
buffet and overcome. For much favoring had never spoiled the sweetness
of his character, and he met resistance with a healthy determination.

He strolled into the surf, and a great billow lifted Jacqueline into
his arms. He held her firmly as another followed close upon.

“I hate the surf,” she gasped, blinded and helpless. “It does exactly
with you what you do not want.”

“Do you think so? Now rise to this one.”

He lifted her over a magnificent roller, turning to watch it break, and
sweep inward the less daring bathers near shore.

“Why did you not wait for me?” he asked.

“I never for a moment thought it necessary.”

He looked delighted.

“Is it very hard for you to accept the inevitable, Miss Selwyn?”

“In what way, Mr. Merrington?”

“In the way of my devotion?”

She hesitated, not daring to take him seriously. He still held her
hands, and the depth of the water at its smoothest was up to her neck
as they stood.

“We must look like a pair of jumping-jacks from the shore,” she said,
with a swift remembrance of his deserved punishment at her hands, and
of their present position. His strong muscles never seemed to tire
of lifting her to each succeeding billow. She hardly knew how her
reticence had slipped from her, but now, at the risk of being bowled
over by a wave, she released her hands from his. He turned back with
her.

“Do not let me take you in,” she said, politely formal. “You have had
no swim at all.”

“There is always the ocean,” he replied.


III.

It was easier for Jacqueline to assure herself that she would
discourage Merrington’s obvious attentions than it was in fact possible
for her to do so. With every meeting she was finding it harder to hold
her own against him.

It was his imperturbable good nature that defeated her. If she could
have provoked him to anger or even to moodiness, she would have found
it easier to forgive his original offense. Moreover, underlying all of
the determined deference of his bearing to her, there was that which
brought an undefined thrill of fear, that touch of primitive mastery in
his wooing with which a man of strong virility may yet transfuse his
personality through the pallid conventions of the centuries. It was but
a small consolation that she could still deny him the invitation to
call upon her at her father’s house, without which even so frequent an
intercourse as theirs had become remained but a street acquaintance.

Things had reached this pass when, one Saturday afternoon, Jacqueline
found herself threading her way among the crowds that packed the
station awaiting the incoming trains from New York, bringing their
loads of week-end guests. As she wedged her way to the front, a little
bewildered by the jam, she espied Merrington’s broad shoulders at the
outermost edge of the crowd. At the same instant he saw her, and in a
moment was beside her.

“This is worse than the breakers,” he said, with a nod of his capped
head at the surging crowd, “and almost as dangerous, and, of course,
you are to be found at the outer verge.”

“Do you think they all have friends coming? What an elastic place it
is!”

“Mere idle curiosity brings many of them, a summer idleness to see new
faces. It brought me.”

“I came to meet a cousin,” she said, a little sharply.

“Then I shall be handy with bag and baggage. Even in these days, I
believe, ladies carry things when they travel.”

Jacqueline looked at his gray eyes with an expression that baffled him.
At length she spoke.

“My cousin happens to be a man. He doubtless will carry the regulation
dress-suit case, which he is quite able to manage himself.”

Merrington let her irony pass unnoticed.

“How little you have allowed me to learn about you,” he said, holding
her sunshade so as to break the glare in her eyes, “and we have known
each other--how long?”

“Over two weeks,” she replied, instantly, and then shut her lips tight,
coloring crimson.

“And it seems to me for always. Do you think time has anything to do
with feelings of intimacy?”

“Oh, yes. There is the summer-time intimacy which the cool weather
and return to town put an end to.” She leaned past him with regained
composure, looking down the cinder-strewn tracks, over the shining
rails of which heat devils shimmered upward.

“You are thinking of the summer girl and her beaux,” he said, softly.
“I wasn’t.”

“Neither was I.”

“Tell me about your cousin,” he asked, demurely. “Isn’t it strange that
you and Peggie should both have cousins?”

“My cousin is a very nice man. He is not a bit like you.” Then her
audacity wavered. “He is very blond. Is the train late?”

“I hope so.”

“I hope not.”

It was not, and in a minute more it rolled in, distractingly long and
overflowing with eager passengers.

“How shall I ever find him?” Jacqueline cried, in dismay. “He may be
already out of a dozen cars and lost in the mob, and he doesn’t know
the way.”

“What is he like?” Merrington asked.

“Oh, he is tall, like you, and square-shouldered and very good-looking,
only his hair isn’t like yours.”

“Then I’m to look for some one like me with blond hair, is that it?”

“Of course not,” she exclaimed, indignantly. “He isn’t at all like you,
but you offered to help, and you are tall.”

Merrington, curiously happy, he could not just know why, looked around
over the sea of people.

“There is some one I know with yellow hair,” he said, presently.

“I wouldn’t acknowledge it if I did,” Jacqueline replied, with stiff
propriety, but for once Merrington was unmindful of her words, and was
waving his hand with facile grace above his head.

“There’s Dick, now!” the girl cried, as a tall, blond young fellow bore
down upon them; then she stood still in amazement as the two men seized
hands. “You two know each other!” she exclaimed.

“Know each other! I should say we did. Didn’t we ‘do’ Europe together
for a year, and then dine with each other the night we got home? How’s
that for a test, Jack?”

“Splendid,” Jacqueline responded, but she was not feeling very
comfortable.

When they reached the waiting trap, and Merrington had helped
Jacqueline up, Brinton turned to his friend.

“Where are you staying?”

“My cousin, Peggie Le Moyne, is down here. I am with her.”

In spite of her reluctance, Jacqueline spoke.

“Mrs. Le Moyne’s cottage is next door to ours, Dick.”

“Good!” exclaimed Brinton. “I say, Jack, have him over to dinner
to-night.”

Jacqueline turned to Merrington. “Will you come?” she asked, a lovely
smile adding to the beauty of her blushes.

Merrington hesitated. He felt that the invitation had been forced.

“Peggie will spare you,” Jacqueline urged, “and old friends do not turn
up every day.”

“Thank you,” said Merrington. “I will come.”


IV.

“You are a very lucky young man,” said Peggie Le Moyne to her cousin,
when he had told her of the invitation. “Of course Jacqueline was
cornered, and gave it perforce, but there is a potency in hospitality
that works both ways. Besides, when a man has seen a woman in her home
she can never be altogether formal to him again.”

“I feel as though I were sneaking in through the back door, all the
same,” Merrington replied, more moodily than was his wont.

Notwithstanding his misgivings, Jacqueline met her guest with a
graciousness that made her adorable in his sight. Driven from her
vantage ground though she was by her cousin’s outspoken invitation to
Merrington, there was no hint of anything but cordiality in her welcome.

It was her more strictly feminine side that she exhibited that evening.
There was nothing about her save the delicate tan of her skin to remind
Merrington that the girl of the surf and sun-flooded beach was one with
the dainty and charming woman in the trailing muslin, with the soft
masses of her hair dark above the small head.

“Why did you never mention to me your friendship with my cousin?” she
asked him after dinner, finding herself for the moment alone with him
in the dimly lit parlor. He answered with native frankness:

“You never encouraged me to talk about myself, and, to tell you the
truth, I never thought of anyone when with you--except yourself.”

“Dick has been telling me of your long friendship.”

“It has never brought me anything that I would less wish to part with
than this pleasure to-night.”

“I do not know,” she said, musingly, yet with a precision nearer
akin to her former treatment of him than she had shown that evening,
“that pleasures are what we should value most in our friendships. You
remember what Burns says about them?”

“Is that a hint or a threat?” he asked, smiling.

She colored slowly and threw him a question that changed the subject.

“Will you go with Dick and me to see the mob to-night? He does not know
the delights of this place. Indeed, I think he came down resigned to
boredom, until he met you.” She appealed to Brinton for confirmation of
her remark as he sauntered in.

“Don’t make me fib after a full dinner, Jack,” he protested. “Besides,
it isn’t anything like what I expected.”

“There,” she laughed, rising; “but now we are going to take you out and
realize your expectations, Mr. Merrington and I.”

As they walked along under the pulsing stars, the void of the sea
broken before them in crested waves that gleamed ghostly, a strange
disinclination for speech beset Merrington. The fact that he could,
without any sense of restraint, rather with a feeling of intimacy
that sent delirious thrills along his veins, be with Jacqueline as
one sharing her mood and interest so surely that he turned to silence
in preference to words, placed, as it were, a bewitching perspective
to his love. The mood changed, indeed, by the time they reached the
crowded portion of the board walk, for it was not Merrington’s nature
to keep silence long in the midst of jollification, and the Saturday
night spirit was abroad. Moreover, he suddenly found himself alone with
Jacqueline.

“I never had a brother,” she remarked, coming to a standstill by the
railing of the walk, “but if they hold themselves any freer to do
cavalier things than cousins, I am glad I hadn’t.” She showed annoyance
in the glance she sent at the laughing party her cousin had joined.
“Maybe he will leave them soon,” she added.

“I hope not. I am sure he won’t. The taste of cousins and brothers is
always poor, but it is to be depended on.”

“You are right,” she said, severely. “He does not deserve to have us
wait for him.”

Under the lower pavilion, the band was playing a Hungarian rhapsody,
and the crowd had packed itself close to listen. Merrington followed
Jacqueline slowly through the current moving in the middle. She stopped
so abruptly that he pressed upon her, and steadied himself by a touch
upon her arm.

“Why should we go on?” she asked, facing him. “Dick is joined to his
idols, let him alone. Shall we walk back where we may be quiet? Or do
you care for the crowd?”

He did not heed her last question, so rapturous was the music of her
other. He led her through the slowly moving impact of people, impatient
until he might get her beyond and to himself. Neither said very much
until they were where the crowd ceased to make itself felt, and the
night reclaimed its darkness from the glare of the many electric lights
of the gala part of the town.

He was madly palpitant under the almost somber calm which he preserved
outwardly. His passion, like a fever long incubating, leaped suddenly
into full force by no conscious volition of his own. That evening,
with Jacqueline in her home, the spell of the woman with the halo of
domesticity around her had swept his love into an ardent desire--the
desire of the man to have the woman he loves in a home of his own. And
now he was with her alone under the throbbing stars, and something
other than her former intolerance of him was keeping Jacqueline
wordless. He knew that it was something very different, knew it by
the instinct of the lover, and his heart bounded at her silence. When
he spoke, Jacqueline shivered at the ground-roll of emotion which his
words seemed to break into a momentary surge.

“I am very glad that Brinton came today.”

She nodded, acquiescent. She had meant to speak, but the words stuck.

“When the avalanche is ready,” he murmured, “or the sea is at the
flood, a touch of nature’s breath--and the thing is done.”

“How prosaically you drop your figures,” she said, with a nervous
laugh. “What are you trying to say?”

“Jacqueline!”

She started away from him, her face, very white, turned to his.

“Do I frighten you?”

“Yes,” she whispered, her eyes held by his penetrating gaze.

Merrington smiled.

“And yet,” he said, so low that the words seemed to her almost as
breathing in her ears, “I would give every drop of blood, every fiber
in my body, to make you happy, for I love you with every drop of my
blood.”

“Mr. Merrington----” she began, but he cut her short.

“Listen to me,” he said, guiding her into the little balcony that
projected from the walk just where they were, and overhung the beach.
“No man, since man and woman were made for each other, has wanted a
woman more than I want you. Every bit of myself, body and soul, soul
and body, I offer you, Jacqueline, in return for your love.”

“I have no love for you,” she breathed, slowly.

“You must have. Such love as I have for you compels love in return.”

She looked away, struggling with herself. At last her words came,
strained and muffled.

“I have always disliked you. You know it.”

“I would rather have your love at once, of course,” he said, with a
patience that sat well upon his power, “but I am not afraid of your
dislike.” He held out his hands impulsively. “Jacqueline, you must be
my wife. You are going to be my wife.”

She was silent, accepting, with a dullness of compliance, the
overmastering sense of his determination, her will for the moment
existing as something benumbed within her. The dashing of the
sea beneath them broke through its own monotony, and, with her
consciousness of it, a remembrance of Merrington’s early words rushed
to her mind. She drew herself up with a snapping of the spell that had
held her.

“You told me once that you had never been conquered, but the days
are past when a man carries a wife by storm. Shall we go on, Mr.
Merrington?”

“Jacqueline, do you love me?”

She had started forward, but at the tense question, fell back against
the railing of the balcony. There was that in the calm of Merrington’s
manner that left her breathless.

“I believe you do love me in your heart of hearts,” he said, the
passion of his tones thrilling through the words, though he stood
rigidly erect before her. “You may not know it, but you do, and I am
going to make you know it, because I cannot live without your love,
which, being mine, you shall not keep from me.”

“Oh!” she cried, facing him at her full height, “how I hate you for
that! Love you! From the first moment you spoke to me I have disliked
you. You are a cave-dweller! A savage! Such men as you don’t want
wives. They want mates.”


V.

The next day Jacqueline was not on the beach, but as the day was
Sunday, and as he knew her aversion to holiday crowds, Merrington did
not take this as any indication that she especially desired to avoid
him. In the afternoon Peggie, who always did what she was wanted to
do without asking, proposed to her cousin that they stop with their
roadcart and take up Jacqueline and Brinton. But Jacqueline had a
headache, so Brinton said, as he mounted to the seat beside Peggie,
leaving Merrington in solitary state behind the grays all the way to
Seabright and back. When he dropped in casually that evening to see his
friend, Mr. Selwyn met him with the intelligence that Jacqueline and
her cousin had gone out for an informal tea with friends. Things began
to look serious. Peggie, whose ears and eyes had been open, hailed
Merrington as he sauntered slowly up her front walk.

“No one at home but papa, eh, Geof? I felt that headache of
Jacqueline’s was a bluff. What gave it to her?”

“Don’t ask questions,” he returned, a little disconsolately.

“Oh, dear!” she sighed, as he seated himself on the low railing before
her, “why did you do it in this heat? Men are so impatient.”

“It wasn’t anything I asked her. It was the statement of a fact that
offended.”

“Of course you told her you loved her, but that implied a question,
didn’t it?”

Merrington lit his pipe with deliberation. In the light of the match
Peggie saw his eyes, bright and humorous, fixed on her face.

“I told her she loved me,” he said, between puffs. “What does that
imply?”

“You didn’t!” was Peggie’s unsatisfactory answer. Then she was silent
for quite five minutes. She entirely approved, however, of his purpose,
expressed a little later, to go up to the city for a few days.

“And take my advice,” she said, rising to leave him, “and forget that
you ever laid eyes on Miss Selwyn. You’ve done the one unpardonable
thing in a woman’s sight.”

       *       *       *       *       *

After his luncheon the next day, Merrington was aimlessly standing
on the corner of Broadway and Twenty-sixth Street when the clang of
bells and the shriek of a fire-engine whistle dashed the purposeless
hour with an instant’s interest. By some occult power, the drivers of
several coupés and hansoms, impelled by the same thought of safety and
curiosity, turned their vehicles into the short side street between
Broadway and Fifth Avenue, pausing there to see the engine tear by.
By a further process of this psychic power, one and all suddenly
became aware that the street they blocked was the street for which the
rapidly driven horses were heading. Merrington, with a quick thrill
of excitement, straightened his height, watching the now thoroughly
frenzied _impasse_. At that moment a swiftly driven hansom turned for
refuge into the congested street, the clatter and frantic signals of
the engine just behind. Then his heart leaped, and fell down, for the
girl in the hansom, heedless of her danger, was Jacqueline.

How he forced his way through the crowd that had gathered before him,
sprang before the rearing and terrified horses of the engine checked
in full flight, tore open the doors of the hansom and lifted out the
girl, Merrington could not have said. As he did so, however, the engine
tore on, carrying with it a wheel of the hansom. Jacqueline, white and
shaken, stood in his arms.

“You!” she gasped.

“I might say the same,” he answered, the blood coming back under his
bronze, but he seemed to speak with a very dry humor, indeed, for his
eyes were fixed upon her, dark almost beyond her recognition. Her own
drooped, as she shuddered slightly. “Don’t faint,” he begged, in quick
alarm. She shook her head.

“I thought you were down there,” she murmured.

“I came away that you might have the sea to yourself. That is, I
thought I came. It must be that I was sent.”

“I came away for the same reason,” she confessed. She was quite aware
that the colors of her resentment against him were flying very low, but
two things, at least, kept her humble. She had been badly frightened,
and her hat was awry. Somewhere about her there was a third reason
that, as she became conscious of it, made her abruptly stand away from
him and at once cloak her humility.

“I need not trouble you any more. You have been very good.”

His lips tightened grimly. He was not yet altogether over his alarm.

“You needn’t have troubled me at all--if you care to call it
trouble--for you need not have come to town at all. Your hansom is
wrecked, however. Shall I call another?”

“Let us walk,” she returned, with a meekness that made his heart throb
wildly.

Merrington dismissed the cabman, giving him such a tip and such a
berating for his carelessness that the man was left pondering whether
he was considered a hero or a fool. Jacqueline was looking on with a
new light in her regard. How big and strong he was, she thought. No
wonder he was so masterful. Her cheeks were flushed when he turned to
join her.

“Where is it?” he asked, taking his place beside her.

“Anywhere. I was just killing time.”

“And do you mean to say that thought of meeting me actually drove you
from one place to another?” The reproach in his voice fed her humility
hugely, but she even tilted her head back on the firmness of her neck,
and became perverse.

“I was really enjoying my day in town. I like to see New York
in midsummer. It is like meeting a woman you have known only
superficially, suddenly in negligée. Don’t you think so?”

“I had never thought of it in that way. Maybe my lack of experience
puts a damper on my imagination.”

She stopped with admirably feigned compunction.

“I am afraid I am keeping you from an engagement.”

“You are.”

She drew her brows together, puzzled, more hurt than provoked at his
candor. “Then please go,” she pleaded. “Was it very important?”

“Essentially so; to me, at least.”

She shrank somewhat from the look in his eyes, but held out her hand
with an accession of friendliness. The broad avenue was nearly deserted
at the moment.

“I have been thoughtless, but you said--that is, I thought you, too,
were just putting in your time to-day.” She smiled at him a little
shyly.

“The engagement I had in mind can’t possibly come to pass without you.”
He was holding her hand, and looking from it to her face, as though
uncertain of this new graciousness in her.

She laughed, attempting to withdraw her hand.

“Mr. Merrington, while no one in sight would suspect the absurdity of
our conversation, suppose we walk on.”

“Now, if I were that poor cave-dweller you likened me to,” he said,
not at all balking at the allusion, “I’d take you to the Little Church
Around the Corner.”

“Take me, anyway, will you not?” she surprised him by saying. “I am
fond of that little church.”

       *       *       *       *       *

They were alone. Into the cool gloom the light of the outer day fell
through windows of exquisite dyes. Jacqueline sighed with a sense of
relief that was greater than she had anticipated. She made up her mind
that when she left the church she would go straight to the boat. In the
meantime, she felt sure that Merrington, if somewhat restless, would,
at least, not pursue his determined wooing.

It nonplused her to realize in what a different spirit she was
accepting that wooing. It did not seem to be within the range of her
emotions to summon up against him even a pale reflection of the fierce
anger with which she had met his first declaration, only two evenings
before. It was hard to believe that it had been only two evenings ago.
In some indefinable way, she knew him so much better to-day. During
the long hours of the previous day, when she had avoided him with
persistent purpose, her anger had not abated, nor yet this morning,
when she turned her back on the sea, and put the breach of other
surroundings between him and herself. Now she knew, with a warm wave of
color, that there had been no breach all this time in her thought of
him, even when she had most sought to have him think she was unmindful.

Under the force of this consideration, she slipped into a pew and sat
down, watching Merrington, as he stood with his back to her, a shaft
of topaz light outlining the firm, square cut of his profile and the
lithe blocking of his figure. Something in his attitude of vigorous yet
refined enjoyment of the painted window showed him to Jacqueline in a
new phase of his character.

He turned abruptly to appeal to her, and his hand rested on hers as it
lay on the top of the pew. She had withdrawn her glove, and the cool,
dry touch of his flesh affected her strangely. She rose quickly, but
her hand still lay beneath his.

The words he had been going to say died upon his lips. What he saw in
the girl’s face made him forget the art of the world in the magnetic
thrill of their young nature.

“It is another omen,” he murmured, his strong fingers closing about the
slimness of her hand. “Even unconsciously we find each other.”

For a moment she did not resist his pressure. Then she drew her hand
away. He noticed that she was paler than her wont.

“I am not a bit superstitious,” she said, softly but clearly. “I could
never detect an omen, good or bad.”

“I have the faculty. It will serve for both.”

“You are not religious.” She spoke with a hint of reproach in the
statement that was really to him a caress. He let her pass by him out
into the aisle, and walked with her toward the chancel, taking up her
words.

“I am reverent, and I love.”

She shook her head, but made no other answer. Her heart was beating
until she dared not speak, and she walked on because she dared not
stop. In the extreme corner of the chapel-like annex she came to a
standstill, facing him with a timidity that appealed unnoticed.

Merrington himself had followed, his senses tingling and his vision a
blur. When they stopped, his heart flamed into words.

“Do you not see that it must be, because it is?” Resting both hands on
the backs of the pews between which she stood, he held her prisoner.

She implored him silently.

“You think I am not in earnest, that I am impetuous, that I do not know
you, do not know my own mind, perhaps. I did not need to know you as
the social man knows women. At the first moment I spoke to you I knew
what it had been that, ever since I first saw you, had filled me with
a newness, a joy, a something that has no name because it underlies
and embraces all things--love, love, the love of a soul for a soul,
of a heart for a heart, of a man for the woman of all women for him.
Jacqueline!”

He bent to see her averted face, but she held up her hand, entreating.
He seized it in his own.

“That avalanche I spoke of the other night is started again. You did
not stop it. You cannot stop it. If you do not hear me now, the moment
will come at another time. It is the fulfillment of my being, to love
you as you never dreamed of love, as no one else will ever love you,
and to tell you so, over and over again, until it is music in your
ears.”

He was close to her. In the gathering twilight of the church her face
seemed very white, and she was watching his lips with a species of
enchantment. She did not see the ardor in his eyes that made them glow
as with fire, but as he ceased speaking, her lashes quivered and fell.

“I shall never give you up,” he whispered, his lips near her ear. “The
bud comes no surer to the tree, the rose comes no surer from the bud,
than my love will awaken love in you. Is it not so?”

The swift color darkened her face to the heavy shadow about her brow,
and she pressed her hand against his breast resistingly. But at the
touch he took her in his arms.

“Jacqueline,” he cried, “tell me that you love me.”

She lay very still, suddenly finding it good to be thus vanquished.

“Jacqueline,” he repeated, and bent his head to catch her words.

“You are a tyrant, but I am afraid I do.”

And then, his lips on hers, their world stood still.



THE INCOMPATIBILITY _of the_ CATHERWOODS

BY VIRGINIA NILES LEEDS

[Illustration]


When Katherine Corning married Dick Catherwood people predicted they
would not live together five years, and they didn’t. The five years
were up and so was the marriage.

Dick was the most charming fellow in the world, when you were not
married to him. As a companion for life he was intolerable. He was
far handsomer than a Greek god, but when you find your Greek god full
of mundane ungodliness you cannot help regretting that so much charm
should be wasted on merely outward appearance.

Yet, in spite of her thorough understanding of his character, Katherine
could not help going back sentimentally to the time she first met
and loved the man from whom she was now separated. He had attracted
her with a magnetism no other man had ever inspired. She _felt_ him
looking at the back of her head before she had ever seen his face. It
was at the opera, and later, when Mrs. Wesley introduced him, she knew
instinctively she had met her fate.

His wooing was prompt and picturesque. But possession with him was
_ennui_, and in the most childish fashion he ceased to prize the thing
he obtained, and treated it with as much indifference as he had sought
it with zeal.

Katherine, finding marriage an irremediable failure, had at length
resorted to that haven for the incompatibles--the divorce court.

From a crude Western town, where they had cyclones for breakfast, she
had only recently emerged, chastened in spirit and with a very formal
red-sealed document in her keeping.

It was what she had waited so patiently for, yet now that it was in
her possession she felt like going into mourning. It seemed indecent
to act as though nothing had happened. She kept Dick’s old letters and
cried over them, and wore a picture of him--taken during their happy
engagement--in a heart-shaped locket inside her bodice.

Quite unusual with young and handsome divorcées, there was no other
man in the case. She had not divorced Dick to marry some one else, but
because of their incompatibility, which absolutely prevented their
living together in harmony.

But no sooner was she settled in her old home than she began receiving
proposals. Her old beaux came flocking around her, in more or less
damaged condition, and there seemed a general belief that she had
divorced Dick only to try it again with a new candidate for Dick’s
shoes.

Her women friends were as bad. They would not permit her to pass into
retirement, but insisted upon her accepting invitations. “Now you are
free,” they told her, “you must make up for that miserable period of
your married life by being as gay as possible.”

They turned a deaf ear to remonstrances.

Katherine could not deny that a wonderful peace was settling over her
soul, freed from the wearing grind of Dick’s perpetual bickerings,
and she tried to blot out the memory of his faults and to think of
him kindly as one does of the dead. But she lived in the dread of
meeting him, for she knew he still was in town, where he had remained
throughout, gallantly permitting her to secure the decree without a
contest. Poor Dick, how like him! For, whatever his faults, he was
always a gentleman. She trembled at the thought of meeting him, for,
unmarried to him, it was easier to think of his fascinations than
of his shortcomings. It had never become possible for her to treat
the matter as some of her similarly placed women friends and to joke
flippantly about “my former.”

Among the beaux of the past who had promptly presented themselves,
on her return from the West, was Willis Shaw. She had come nearer
accepting him than any of the others in the old days; and had it not
been for Dick and his compelling magnetism, Shaw would have won out.
He had shown himself a man of worth, and had made a name for himself,
remaining, as some of the others had not done in spite of protestations
of hearts broken past mending, a bachelor. He was among the first to
send up his card; and Katherine, in her black frock, went down with
a sober face to receive him. She expected sympathy, and received--a
proposal.

Shaw could not but see the shock in her face.

“Forgive me,” he begged, becoming at once as grave as she; “I have been
too precipitate and have hurt you. I do not take back the words--I
cannot do that; but keep them in your mind and think them over, and,
when you feel ready, give me an answer. Although women parted from
their husbands have come to be an everyday occurrence, I cannot help
regarding them with pity. They seem so defenseless, so unprotected, and
the world is so unsparing in its treatment of unprotected, defenseless
things. It pains me to think of you who ought to be so tenderly
cherished and shielded occupying in any way an equivocal position. But
you must not think that pity is my reason for putting the question to
you again. It is the same reason which prompted me five years ago, and
which has never altered nor lessened in the years. I wish you could
give me a different answer, for I feel that I could make you happy.
You deserve happiness, and your failure to secure it makes me the more
anxious to mete it out to you in fullest measure.”

He left her a shade graver than he found her, but she only came to
appreciate his considerateness when other men pranced in, assumed easy
positions, talked jauntily about their blighted state and made more or
less rakish proposals. One had even genially suggested that if she were
disappointed in him she could easily have recourse to the divorce court
again. “It’s always a handy fire escape,” he added, pleasantly.

She took Dick’s picture into her confidence. Of course she had no
_love_ for Willis Shaw; she should never indulge in that confiding,
girlish thing again; but she respected him, and felt that with him
she would at least be safe. Her position certainly _was_ equivocal.
There were always people who had been abroad or something, and had
not heard of her decree, and who were forever rushing up in public
places and asking how her good husband was, and if he were as devoted
as ever. It would be embarrassing, of course, to have to explain that
another husband was now displaying that devotion, but not nearly so
embarrassing as to confess to no husband at all--even in these days of
rapid conjugal changes.

Katherine was going through the tortures of the sensitive divorced. One
day, returning from her lonely drive, a note was handed her, and she
recognized Mrs. “Billy” Wesley’s characteristic hand.

“Mrs. William Wesley requests the pleasure of your company at dinner on
Monday, November 16th, at half after seven”; then down in the left-hand
corner the words: “Vaccination at ten.”

It was sure to be something out of the ordinary--all of Mrs. Billy’s
affairs were--and at first she had no idea of accepting. Then Mrs.
Wesley called her up on the telephone and insisted upon her coming,
drawing her attention to the fact that several cases of varioloid
in the upper part of town had made her hit upon the idea of the
vaccination, and that it would not only be a pleasure but a precaution
to accept. She also impressed upon Katherine the necessity of a
sleeveless bodice for the occasion.

It was not until she had finally yielded that it suddenly occurred
to Katherine that Dick would certainly be at the dinner. Mrs. Wesley
had retained her friendship for both, and it would be just like her
erratic fancy to bring them together. In the women of Mrs. Billy
Wesley’s set that sort of thing passed for _chic_. At first a hot wave
of resentment rose in her breast, and she was on the point of calling
Mrs. Billy up and, incidentally, of calling her down; then all at once
a curious reaction came about. It was no less than a mad desire to see
Dick again. The _immodesty_ of the thing appalled her, but the desire
remained.

Not even in the rosy days of her engagement had she longed with such
eagerness to spend an evening in his society, and as the night drew
near she found herself making the foolish preparations of a débutante
for her first ball.

She engaged a dressmaker, who turned her out a purely classic costume;
and with a pedestal and the limelight upon her, she might have played
_Galatea_ with enthusiastic applause from the house. When fully arrayed
on the evening of the dinner, she surveyed herself in the glass, and
trembled.

Mrs. Billy greeted her effusively. She herself was prepared for the
surgical part of the entertainment with an arrangement of pearl chains
which attached her bodice to her person across the upper part of the
arms.

“A dream, darling!” she cried, in the caressing, coddling tone she used
to all. “I vow I could eat you!” and so saying, she dipped down, kissed
Katherine with a light peck on each shoulder, then passed her on, to
fall on the neck of the next.

Katherine glanced about the room with a beating heart. At first she
saw no one whose presence caused her agitation, and her spirits sank.
Then all at once a voice fell upon her ear which sent the blood
mantling to her cheeks and brought a faintness to her breast. A man had
just entered, and was paying his respects to Mrs. Wesley--a man like
unto whom there was not another in the room. Such an air! Such grace!
Bayard himself, who, historians agree, was an ideal knight in every
particular, was possessed of no more graceful bearing, comeliness of
person and affability of manner.

Katherine stood up and shivered. She might have been transformed to
_Galatea_ then and there, so statuesque her pose. She was totally
unconscious that every eye in the room was wandering with prying
curiosity from her to Dick.

Then he saw her.

For a moment he hesitated, but a moment only.

He sped to her with as much _empressement_ as he had shown in the most
zealous days of the courtship; his expressive eyes and face were aglow
with eagerness.

Katherine remained perfectly still, but two little pulses beating
visibly in her temples told whether she was indifferent. “You _will_
speak to me!” he cried, in eager entreaty, under his breath. “If you
want me to die in an hour, treat me as a stranger!” He was holding out
his hand, and, mechanically, and because she was suddenly aware of the
scrutiny of the room, hers went out to it. When Dick clasped it, and
she felt the familiar contact of his flesh, she thought she was going
to faint.

“Take me away,” she gasped, “into the air.”

He drew her arm quickly through his and led her to a seat in a bay
window, screened from the rest of the room by curtains.

Dick stood over her, breathing quickly. “I never thought it would be
like this,” he said, brokenly. “I fancied I should never see you again,
and that in time I would get over it, like other men who have lived
down their sorrows. But coming upon you unexpectedly like this takes
it out of me. Look up,” he begged; “let me see your eyes, and try if
I cannot find there some trace of the old affection. When I see you in
the flesh I forget your cruelty, your unkindness--how you have made me
suffer. I can only remember the happy days when you were loving and
affectionate, and wanted me by your side. Have you forgotten? Tell me
that, Katherine, have you? To think that, after all your vows of love,
you should have grown tired of me!”

Katherine dared steal a look at him. Reproach met her view.

Yet this was the man who had made life so unbearable that she was
forced to appeal to the courts for relief! Strangely enough, she could
only remember his faults in the vaguest way, and it did not seem at
all incongruous that he should be reproaching her. Never was his
fascination more dangerously potent, his charm of person more alluring.

“Forgive me, Dick,” she found herself murmuring.

She held out her hands, and he drew them to his breast.

She did not know what might have followed had not the voice of Billy
Wesley’s butler, announcing dinner, fallen upon her ear at the moment.

“_After dinner_,” whispered Dick, with significance; then offering her
his arm, they emerged from their retreat with assumed _sang-froid_.

“Been kissing and making up?” asked Mrs. Billy, with frank indelicacy;
but she was not indelicate enough to place them together at dinner,
although her decadent ideas made her quite capable of things of the
sort. Instead, she had separated them by the entire length of the
table. But over the orchids and the electric bulbs, with the glint of
glass and silver between, Katherine could feel Dick’s eyes upon her,
and her flesh warmed beneath that gaze as _Galatea’s_ when her sculptor
breathed life into her with the passion of his glance. It was when the
glass bells were brought in that she caught his eye fully and realized
with a thrill that he had not forgotten her relish for _champignons_
under glass.

In return, she flashed him a glance letting him know she had not
forgotten his partiality for canvasbacks, and after that the rest
of the dinner was a telegraphic communication between the pair of
recognized intimacies of their married life.

The dishes sometimes choked her with a too vital remembrance.

“But we can’t sit here all night!” exclaimed Mrs. Billy, suddenly.
“There’s Dr. Webb coming to vaccinate us!”

“Madam,” said the butler, “Dr. Webb is in the drawing room.”

The men were permitted to carry their cigars with them, owing to the
curtailing of the dinner, and the whole party passed into the drawing
room. Dr. Webb had been dining also, and was in evening dress, a
messenger having brought his instruments and the virus.

“Let’s see,” said Mrs. Billy, running her eye over her list, which she
found in a rose jar, “who’s to submit first? It wouldn’t be polite for
me in my own house; won’t you lead the way, Katherine?”

Katherine was just stepping boldly forward when she drew back in alarm.
“Oh!” she cried, “it might hurt, and I don’t like being hurt!” and she
drew her beautiful bare arm close to her, and stood nursing it.

Immediately Dick pressed forward. “And she shall not be hurt!” he
proclaimed, with authority. “It would be a shame to disfigure such an
arm, even as a precaution. I must ask you, Mrs. Wesley, not to insist
upon Mrs. Catherwood submitting to the operation. Let me be the first
victim;” and hastily throwing off his coat, he appeared before the
company in his well-made waistcoat and faultless shirt sleeves. The
latter he began rolling up coolly, and when the cuff refused his elbow,
he drew out his penknife and slit the linen along the seam. “Now, then,
doctor, I am ready for you,” he said, unconcernedly.

Everyone looked on with admiration, but particularly one to whom the
sight of him in the familiarity of shirt sleeves brought back the past
with even more moving and electrifying vividness. How many a time had
that same splendid arm been about her, and how often had she pillowed
her head in its bend!

“A fine development,” said Dr. Webb, appreciatively. He then took out
his point, and with a deft touch injected the virus, while Dick looked
on, smoking an Egyptian cigarette.

Emboldened by his example, Katherine insisted upon submitting next,
and, reclining on a gilded couch, she bravely held out her lovely
left arm. It was clear the doctor was quite as appreciative of its
perfection as he had been of the one before it, though he forbore any
comment. The scraping produced a faintness, and her eyes sought Dick’s
pleadingly. In a flash he was at her side, and supporting her head
against his shoulder, where it rested until the doctor had drawn a drop
of crimson to the ivory surface. A glass of water was brought, and she
quickly recovered.

The guests after that began submitting in turn, with more or less
merriment in the matter, until one Mrs. St. Cyr Smith cast discredit
upon the party by refusing to be vaccinated on the arm.

Discussion arose on every side, and under cover of it Dick sought
Katherine.

“Come,” he begged, not feeling at all interested in the location of
Mrs. St. Cyr Smith’s vaccination. “I did not finish what I had to say
before dinner;” and, gently shielding her newly scratched arm, he led
her back to the curtained recess.

Katherine let him guide her where he would, as completely under his
spell as in the first days of his magnetic attraction.

“You were so brave,” she murmured, “and so handsome!”

He drew the curtains before he answered.

“Then you _do_ cherish some little memory of the old days?” he asked,
with indescribable persuasion. “You have not forgotten? Yet you tired
of me, Katherine; cast me off like a worn glove. Oh, but you were cruel
to the man you swore to love and honor!”

She tried to look him in the face, but her eyes fell before the
passionate reproach of his.

“Dick,” she managed to gasp, “don’t blame it all on me. You forget how
soon you tired of me.”

“I tire of you!” he cried. “Never, Katherine.” He knelt on the window
seat, speaking in words that came warm and panting from his lips to her
shoulder. “It isn’t possible you ever imagined such a thing? I love
you now--to-night--this minute--as I have loved you always, and as it
is given to man to love but once in a lifetime. I never so appreciated
your beauty, never so longed for the privilege of owning it. Oh,
beautifulest”--the name he had given her in the happiest days of the
courtship--“I want you, want you, want you! You are the very breath of
me, and unless I can have you back, I swear to put an end to myself!”

His arm found her waist as it had in the old days, and before she was
aware, he had her close against him and was kissing her.

The never-to-be-forgotten essence of his lips suddenly brought her to
a realizing sense of the situation. He had no right to embrace her. It
was an impropriety as great as though any stranger in the room beyond
had presumed upon such a liberty. In spite of all they had been to each
other in the past, he was now no more to her, legally, than any of the
others, and there was nothing to warrant such a course of conduct.
True, his lips were dearer than anything this side of heaven, but she
had thought that once before, and yet had lived to feel those same
lips grow cold and passionless, those strong arms deny her protection.
This sudden return to his early ardor made her the more mindful of the
indifference that had followed. In his impetuosity he was forging the
sequence that her mind in its wrought up state had refused to grasp.
She tore herself with quickly summoned force from his embrace.

“For God’s sake,” he cried, hoarse as in the old days, when his
feelings rent him, “don’t refuse me! Haven’t you made me suffer
enough?”

“You forget,” she reminded him, a shiver running along her frame and
her words coming thinly, “that we are legally separated, and that you
have no right to the privileges you have presumed upon. You are not my
husband. In the law we are strangers.”

Yet always that magnetic influence which drew her with supernatural
force, and which she had to fight with all the strength of a body
and a mind which had no inclination to fight; and, even while she
remonstrated, she found herself drifting to him slowly, until, without
power or volition of her own, she sank into his arms. He spoke mad,
wild words in her ear; and she listened, thinking mad, wild things
herself.

Inferior people have their place in the world. They save their
superiors from grave situations. It was the Wesley butler who again
interposed to save Katherine from an impending fate. He came to the
curtains, coughing, in the respectful manner reserved for upper
servants, to say that her maid had come for her early, as she had
requested.

Dick caught her hand. “Let me take you home!” he entreated.

But the presence of Dunn, with his eyes that saw nothing and his mouth
that never relaxed, helped Katherine, and she could command herself
even with an upholstered lackey for inspiration.

“No,” she said, firmly; “that is out of the question.”

“But you cannot leave me like this,” he persisted, refusing to release
her hand; “you will kill me with your cruelty. If you will not let me
see you home, let me come to you to-morrow--you surely will not refuse
me that!”

“Well,” she yielded, in a hurried undertone, “to-morrow evening at
nine.” Then she passed out and made a hasty adieu to Mrs. Billy.

Dick did not stop much longer, and went to his hotel a bit fagged but
exultant. He had not lost his old power over Katherine, that was clear,
and he desired her with all the craving that non-possession brought him.

Meanwhile Katherine went home and thought--thought till her brows
ached, and until she had sounded the very depths of her reasoning
powers. The burden of her thoughts was much the same as his--that Dick
had not lost his old influence. The next day found her still thinking,
yet uncommonly active and busy. Indeed, it was quite the busiest, most
breathless day of her life. Time went rushingly, and when nine o’clock
chimed from the cathedral clock in the library she was still busy.

Dick was prompt. His eagerness manifested itself in his simultaneous
ring at the bell with the chiming of the clock.

Katherine, in a brilliant evening gown, with some long-stemmed roses on
her breast, heard the ring and started up with an excited flush.

Dick hurried in, groomed and perfect. He did not stop for
conventionalities of greeting, but let all the high pressure under
which he was laboring appear in his eloquent eyes. He had brought her
violets, but he dropped them from his fingers, and held out his arms
with entreaty.

“Soul of my soul,” he cried, “there are to be no more separations!
You belong to me, and you cannot live without me any more than I can
without you. Last night proved that, and that I have not lost your
love. I have come back, and you are never going to be cruel again.” But
to his astonishment Katherine did not yield to the arms that begged,
did not pale to marble as she had the night before when he had brought
the same influence to bear.

Instead, she stood off, without a sign of weakening, and smiled as
conventionally as she would to the merest chance visitor.

The sight maddened him, and he sprang forward to take her by force.

But Katherine held off with a strange new imperiousness that was not to
be trifled with. “You came for your answer this evening, Dick, and I
have it ready for you--the answer that will determine the future for us
both beyond a question;” then she held herself a little straighter and
spoke distinctly:

“I was married to Willis Shaw at three this afternoon.”



DRAMATIC FLASHES FROM LONDON & PARIS

_By_

ALAN DALE

[Illustration]

    Some plays in Paris. “Ces Messieurs” at the Gymnase, once
    prohibited by the Minister of Public Instruction, is
    unsatisfactory, but well acted. Little theaters, like the Berkeley
    Lyceum, immensely popular in Paris. In London one feels more at
    home because the dramatic atmosphere seems more wholesome. Alfred
    Sutro’s play at the Garrick, “The Walls of Jericho,” the most
    successful of the season. Other plays and some players


Two distinct sets of impressions were carried away from the Paris
season by two distinctly different individuals. One pure and
conventional set was borne by that extremely nice and unsophisticated
young man, the King of Spain; the other by that not-so-nice, more
sophisticated, less-young person whose name appears at the head of
this. We jostled each other--the little juvenile king and myself. He,
poor young man, was taken by thoughtful people, who had his welfare
at heart, to that over-advertised home of mediocrity, the Théâtre
Français, and to a “gala” performance at the Opéra; I--well, I went
where I liked. Not being a young king, it was not necessary that my
impressions should run along conventional grooves.

The King of Spain saw what he could see anywhere, and would probably
avoid seeing in his own country. I was able to select my own dramatic
fodder. Possibly we were each equally glad when we had done our duty
and were allowed to proceed. If the King of Spain rejoiced more than
I did, then he must have been exceedingly exultant. We found the
Paris season quite disordered and fatigued. The Grand Prix was in the
air; open-air vaudeville was hurling defiance at the drama; Bernhardt
and Réjane were packing themselves off to London; it was all very
comfortless and noisy. I felt sorry for the little King of Spain, as I
saw him bowling along the Rue de Rivoli bound for the Français. I was
on my way to the Gymnase to see the new shocker called “Ces Messieurs.”

The most uncomfortable and gloomiest theater in Paris has given itself
up to the laudable purpose of stirring up dissension. Last year it
was “Le Retour de Jerusalem” that aimed at fomenting anti-Semitic
feeling; this year it is “Ces Messieurs,” the sole object of which is
to stir up anti-clerical strife. Perhaps the Gymnase needs this sort of
“attraction.” I cannot imagine anybody sitting tortured in its stuffy,
ill-kept, poverty-stricken auditorium for mere restful enjoyment.

“Ces Messieurs,” from the pen of M. Georges Ancey, was prohibited for
a long time by the minister of public instruction, a benign censor,
who objected to the play because it attacked the priests. His decision
was, of course, bitterly resented; and it was asserted that Molière in
“Tartuffe” had done a similar thing, and was a classic. Possibly we
should have urged the same arguments in New York if--let us say--Mr.
Theodore Kremer had woven a brand new melodrama around the theme of
Shakespeare’s “Cymbeline,” and it had been “stopped” on the ground of
impropriety.

The drama at the Gymnase seemed to me rather a pitiful effort at
sensation. There is but one way of treating a priest upon the stage,
and it is by placing him in juxtaposition with a woman. He is rarely
allowed to be interesting in any other shape. Among actors there is a
superstition that regards every play with a priest in it as “unlucky.”
The cleric is supposed to “hoodoo” the drama. If I were a playwright I
think I should elect to be on the “safe side.” I should take no risks,
for very rarely does a priest-ridden drama succeed. “Ces Messieurs”
certainly seems to be a case that justifies the actors’ superstition.

The heroine of the piece is a young widow, who, after the loss of her
husband and child, has given up mundane pleasure. She lives in the
provinces, with a large and singularly talky family, and has “taken
up” religion. Upon the scene comes the _Abbé Thibaut_, a young priest
with good looks and even better intentions. He is eloquent and mystic;
_Henriette_ interests herself in him immediately, and gives him funds
for his schools and benevolent institutions. _Thibaut_ is ambitious,
and he needs the money. The man and woman are soon embroiled in an
“affair,” though they are both unconscious of that fact.

Other priests occur. One--the villain of the piece--reports _Thibaut_
to the other, a benevolent Monsignor, who is displayed in a luxury of
“monsignor” robes. Pettiness, intrigue, jealousy, hatred, malevolence,
are ascribed to the _Abbé Morisson_, who is as deep-dyed a villain as
one could wish to find in the Third Avenue Theater or the Grand Opera
House. Through a sea of talk, the audience is carried to the fourth
act--which is _the_ act--where _Henriette_ learns that _Thibaut_ is to
be removed from her clutches to another scene of action. Then the storm
bursts, and the air is cleared with much electrical sensation.

It is not necessary to go into details. All that a woman can say who
has horridly mixed up the religious with the secular, the carnal with
the mystic, _Henriette_ says, in an ecstasy of exclamation points.
_Thibaut_ was essential to her, for she could not pray without him! He
was part of her life, both earthly and heavenly. In an exasperation of
anguish she develops a sort of insanity that makes a plausible excuse
for the ugly irreverence and the blasphemy of the playwright.

Blasphemy always seems to me the weakest sort of sensation. Any
idiot can blaspheme, and most of them do. It is the keynote of “Ces
Messieurs.” The priest is the target at which the woman hurls her ugly
shafts. Sensuality masquerading in the cloak of religion renders this
heroine as disagreeable as any I have ever seen staged. And this--with
nothing more--is M. Ancey’s case against the priests. The _Abbé_ has
accepted _Henriette’s_ money for his works of benevolence, and she had
given it not because she was actuated by religion, but because she
was hopelessly in love with the priest himself, who had involuntarily
inspired the sentiment.

There was nothing at all in the play but this fourth act, that gave you
mingled sensations of disgust and shock. Moreover, nothing happened.
After _Henriette’s_ insanity, during which she threatened the priests
with all sorts of scandals, she calmed down, went back to the family,
devoted the rest of her life to her little nieces and nephews, and
lived happily ever afterward. The moral--as far as I could see--was
that women menace the life of priests, and not, as M. Ancey tried to
insist, that priests threaten the welfare of women. The minister of
public instruction, who must be as silly as the London censor, objected
to the piece because it was supposed to malign the priesthood, and to
hold it up as something to be ousted from the domestic hearth. The
piece taught me quite a different lesson. It was that priests should
beware of designing but apparently perfect ladies.

Fortunately “Ces Messieurs” was well acted. Madame Andrée Mégard played
_Henriette_ with exquisite distinction and much dramatic power. André
Hall was the _Abbé Thibaut_, and into the rôle he managed to infuse a
good deal of picturesque mysticism. The other priests were assigned to
M. Arvel and to M. Jean Dax, who resisted the temptation to cheapen a
cheap subject.

The cream of Paris--generally called “_tout Paris_,” which is quite a
mistake, because the underlying milk is more important--no longer goes
to the big, usual, conventional theaters. Little nooky places have
become immensely popular here, and are gaining ground all the time. The
Grand Guignol, the Boite a Fursy and the Mathurins are always packed
to their tiny little doors, and the idea is to present varied dramatic
entertainments in capsule form. It is the idea that Mr. Frank Keenan
essayed so unsuccessfully at the Berkeley Lyceum in New York last
season. Paris is fatigued, and finds no trouble in digesting tabloids.
New York, still young, vigorous and hale, prefers its drama in lumps,
and suffers from no dyspeptic results. We are not yet ready for drama
in whiffs. In Paris that is the approved style of taking the medicine.

While the little King of Spain was inhaling grand opera, I took five
dramatic pills at the Mathurins. It is such a tiny little place that
at first I thought I had gone wrong, and was in an antechamber.
Plain papered walls, ascetic chairs, a moldy piano, and a couple of
usherettes seemed extremely bare. The price of admission did not suffer
in the same way. It was exorbitant. The Mathurins was crowded with a
swagger-looking collection of men and women. Above its doors appeared
the following, that you may translate for yourselves:

  _Ici point de facheux, ni de mine bourrue
  Laissez, avant d’entrer, vos soucis dans la rue._

The five plays at the Mathurins were “Retour de Bal,” by Claude Real;
“Oui! Benoist,” by Rito de Marghy; “Le Chasseur de Tigre Blanc,” by
Tristan Bernard; “La Rupture,” by M. Nozière, and “Le Pyjama,” by Jules
Rateau. Two of these, the second and fourth, were blood-curdlers, in
the style of Edgar Allan Poe, with modern improvements and a Parisian
outlook.

“Oui! Benoist” was a frenzied effort to be grewsome. The title
represents the incessant remark of a country clodhopper to his
“boss.” This “boss” was in love with a stout siren, who preferred a
neurasthenic gentleman perpetually haunted by a particular melody. This
melody had got on his nerves and had made him insane. (I couldn’t help
wondering if he had enjoyed a season in musical comedy in New York,
for, if so, I could quite understand his case.) _Mathyas_, as he was
called, was trying to live down the melody, and nobody dared to hum it
in his presence. He was made up with a white face, and dark rings under
his eyes. The siren was most solicitous for his welfare.

Then came the innings of _Benoist_, the jealous “boss.” There was a
well upon the stage, very deep and dark, and--in dismal conspiracy--he
prevailed upon the country clodhopper to go down into the well and
from its depths sing up the forbidden melody till it reached the
neurasthenic gentleman. The scheme worked. No sooner was the invalid
upon the stage than from the bowels of the well the luckless dirge
emerged. Instantly the patient was stricken. In wild insanity, he took
a huge stone, and flung it into the well to kill the music.

Groans and anguish from the clodhopper. Agony all over the stage.

“Are you mortally hurt, Joseph?” asked the guilty “boss,” peering into
the depths.

And from the well came up the halting murmur, “_Oui, Benoist!_” as the
curtain fell.

The other blood-curdler was “La Rupture,” which introduced Mme.
Polaire, a lady who has had a multi-colored career. At one time she
was a sort of rival of Yvette Guilbert. At present she does the
melodramatic upon the slightest provocation. Her “attraction” is her
ugliness--her extreme and unmitigated homeliness. Even that sort of
thing is popular in fatigued Paris. A woman who is homely to the verge
of distraction may be as great a draw as her sister who is just as
bewilderingly beautiful. It is the extremes that meet.

In “La Rupture” Mme. Polaire played the part of a woman with a poor
lover. She was very fond of him, but he was impecunious, and she
was expensive and terribly jealous. So she listens to the suit of a
disgusting old fossil, who is smitten with her charms. Her repulsion
is displayed with startling realism, and it furnishes the cue to the
lover, who darts out and stabs the old man in the back. He falls dead,
and there is a panic-stricken scene between the lovers. The woman is
terrified; the man is horror-stricken; the corpse lies before them.
There is a dark green atmosphere, full of the hoarse whispers of the
guilty couple, in recrimination and disgust. There is no end to “La
Rupture.” It leaves off suddenly; the curtain falls. You spear a
sensation, but it is half-fraudulent.

Across the Channel, and to London. It seems healthier, even if it
isn’t. At any rate, one feels more at home there. The American manager
stalks through the English land, with his pocketbook in evidence, and
his plans neatly newspapered. He is a bit lost in Paris, because he
can’t produce the plays offered there without adapting them, and in
the adaptation much is lost, and nothing takes its place. He sees a
Parisian success, but the hero and heroine are never married. That is
the stickler. A wedding ring would ruin them, and we have our little
prejudice in favor of that magic circlet. The wedding ring may not be
artistic--that is the Parisian answer to our plaints--but until we have
discovered something that will aptly take its place, we prefer it. The
American manager dare not fly in the face of the wedding ring, and that
is why he shuffles about rather uneasily in Paris.

Sometimes he takes his adapter with him to see these French plays. Even
that is unsatisfactory. The adapter is human, and he wants some work
to do-o-o. He scents “possibilities,” and he is not afraid to say so.
But French plays are becoming more and more impossible for New York.
An American audience will not stand talk, and a French audience enjoys
it when it hovers around the one eternal theme. Then the French idea
of ending happily differs so essentially from the American notion,
which is indissolubly allied with the wedding ring. The merry peals of
nuptial bells ring no music into French ears.

The one attraction of the London season that has “attracted” is Mr.
Alfred Sutro’s play at the Garrick Theater, called “The Walls of
Jericho.” Mr. James K. Hackett, who has hitherto contented himself with
being merely beautiful, in the rôles of fanciful and highly upholstered
kings, and the daredevil idiots of cheap, book-tweaked “romance,” has
secured the play for New York. Mr. Hackett will have to forego his gilt
and plush adornments, the silken tights that he has worn so long and so
lovingly. He will have to dress as a modern man, and to blazon forth
the persistent and hackneyed criminality of that section of humanity
known as “society.”

Society, as we are all aware, has an irresistible attraction for the
“kid-glove” playwright. Whether it be a case of “the fox and the
grapes,” or a mere gallery desire to cater to the multitude, certain
it is that the dramatist, skilled or unskilled, delights in portrayal
of the alleged smart set; even if he be forced to approach the tinsel
glories of Mayfair and Fifth Avenue by the way of the scullery door.
Even if all his “points” be obtained from a communicative Jeames or a
not-too-reticent Sarah Jane, he is not dismayed.

Society must be shown up and periodically exposed; its vagaries must
be held up to ridicule; it must be set forth as degenerate; it must be
made to suggest the effeminacy and luxury of Rome at the time when Mr.
Gibbon made it “decline and fall.” How to do this perpetually, and with
a “new wrinkle”? The playwright in reality has no grudge at all against
“society”--that is blissfully unaware of his very existence. His object
is merely to evolve some sort of a “roast” that has a semblance of
novelty. In London there are penny papers devoted purely to “society
gossip” that are boons to the ambitious playwright--and to Sarah Jane.

Mr. Alfred Sutro, author of “The Walls of Jericho,” was in luck. In
England at the present time there lurks a horrible disease known as
“bridge.” It is a kind of mania on this side of the pond, and, although
it is quite as middle class, and even lower class, as it is smart set,
naturally Mr. Sutro need not notice that unimportant fact. That society
plays bridge is no more remarkable than that society golfs and motors.
Mr. Sutro’s point--very far-fetched, cheap and sensational--is that
Mayfair has undermined and corrupted itself by the game. According to
“The Walls of Jericho,” bridge seems to be responsible for childless
women, sexless ladies, an unmoral outlook and other ills from which
society--in novels and on the stage--is bound to suffer.

From what I have seen of the game--and I am not a card player--it
seems to be nothing more than disagreeable in a very ordinary way.
Every fellow hates his partner, and dogs certainly delight to bark
and bite--for is it not their nature to? But, as for any illicit
after-effect, I cannot imagine where it can come in. Bridge players
appear to me to be far too engrossed in bickering and fault-finding to
worry about immorality and laxity.

You will pardon this apparent digression. “The Walls of Jericho” being
a long, preachy and rather foolish tirade against a game of cards, my
apparent digression is necessary. The success of the play with the pit
and gallery in London shows that the game is popular with the butcher,
the baker and the candlestick maker. Otherwise, these would fail to
understand the second act, as--I candidly admit--I did.

In this act, various ladies of rank and title, including a duchess, are
displayed in the act of playing bridge, in _Lady Alethea Frobisher’s_
boudoir. They are all handsomely gowned, and exceedingly “bong tong,”
but nothing happens at all. Mr. Sutro undoubtedly intends that the
picture shall be extremely infamous, and prepare us for the subsequent
rebellion of _Lady Alethea’s_ nauseatingly right-minded husband. To
my mind, _Lady Alethea_ was but a weak and wishy-washy version of a
certain _Lady Teazle_, and if Jericho could fall so easily there must
have been Buddensiecks in those days. It deserved to fall.

I should like to come down to mere facts, but in “The Walls of Jericho”
there are so few that they are scarcely worth mentioning. Viewed from
the standpoint of one immune from the bridge germ, it is a dull and
preachy succession of platitudes. _Jack Frobisher_, the righteous hero,
has made his money in Queensland, with sheep. Perhaps that is why he
baas through four acts. He is the husband of _Alethea_. They have a
son. She is too absorbed in her “set” to pay much interest to the
child, who--thank goodness!--does not appear.

In the third act _Frobisher_ announces his intention of returning
to Queensland and “nature,” and of taking her with him. Queensland,
under any circumstances, must be horrible, but with such a prig as Mr.
Sutro’s hero, it would be so loathsome that my sympathy was entirely
with _Lady Alethea_, when, like a Laura Jean Libbey lady, she “drew
herself up to her full height” and refused to go. In the last act she
changed her mind, and went. _Mr. Frobisher_ blew the trumpet, and the
walls of Jericho fell. There is the play. As the comedian in the piece
remarked--and it is the only phrase you carry away--“Jericho must have
been jerry-built.”

Mr. Arthur Bourchier, who, I understand, is reveling in the fact that
he “discovered” Mr. Alfred Sutro, played _Frobisher_. Mr. Bourchier is
an actor-manager of much talk and self-importance. As the righteous
husband of a butterfly wife, and the adoring father of an unseen
brat, he was lacking in lightness and “sympathy.” The playwright’s
point--always presuming that he had one--went hopelessly astray. Mr.
Bourchier was a bore, rather than a bridge-pecked husband, and his
preachiness was appallingly tedious, his delivery savoring of that
supposed to be popular in the House of Commons. I could have slept
through it; I think I did.

Miss Violet Vanbrugh, popular in London as the actor-manager’s
wife, is a clever actress marred by mannerisms which would make her
impossible outside of London. The affectation of her speech, the
peculiarity of her stare and glare, give the casual spectator a curious
sensation. There is a good deal of the freakish in her method; it is
not natural, wholesome and universal. Yet beneath the surface one
realizes that Miss Vanbrugh is an artist, who has evolved marvelously
since New York saw her in a silly play called “The Queen’s Proctor.”
The other puppets in this bridge bout included Miss Muriel Beaumont, a
little _ingénue_ who is charming; H. Nye Chart, Sydney Valentine, O. B.
Clarence--one of the conventional senile bores--and Miss Lena Halliday.

Stamped as a London success--and the stamp is genuine--it will be
curious to watch the fate of “The Walls of Jericho” in New York.
Possibly Mr. Hackett may do more for it than Mr. Bourchier, for he has
played so many inane heroes that one more cannot hurt him; but he will
have to work very hard, and I do not envy him his job.

The second play I saw after my arrival in London was “What Pamela
Wanted,” at the Criterion Theater. Of course I had no idea what
_Pamela_ did want. I had a vague notion what I, myself, wanted. It was
a good play, and I’m sorry to say I didn’t get it, and the piece has
since been withdrawn. It was a so-called comedy from the pen of Mme.
Fred de Gresac--author of “The Marriage of Kitty”--and that weakest
of French writers, Pierre Veber. These twain were done into London by
Charles Brookfield.

Mme. de Gresac is an amusing Parisienne, who has played some merry
tunes on the marriage theme. She is a bit flighty, according to our
notions, and inclined to regard the wedding ring as a huge joke, but
she is really humorous, and with a clever adapter has possibilities. We
realized that fact when we saw “The Marriage of Kitty.” “What Pamela
Wanted” was unfortunately used as a vehicle for Miss Ethel Irving,
who--unlike Marie Tempest--was by no means ready to emerge from the
slough of musical comedy. In an effort to make the piece fit Miss
Irving, Mr. Brookfield failed to make it fit her public.

_Pamela_ was introduced as a bread-and-butter miss, who, after a few
moments’ talk with a strange young man, agreed to marry him, on the
understanding that both should gang their ain gait. _Pamela_ had
just left school as she met the youth, and the character, translated
into English, was not plausible enough to be funny. There must be
plausibility before comedy can take root. The foolish husband, jealous
of _Pamela_, and the badly drawn _Pamela_, jealous of the foolish
husband, all leading up to a happy understanding, which was “what
Pamela wanted,” left gaps in an evening’s entertainment.

The piece was eked out by conventionally stupid characters, including
one of those nasty old fathers that our sense of propriety will not
tolerate; the usual “dashing” young actress, a French maid, and a
skittish widow. The only type that amused was a flabby dude, and this
was funny only because it was so well played by Mr. Lennox Pawle. Miss
Ethel Irving herself, so charming in musical comedy, was heavy, stodgy
and uninteresting. As a “star,” she was so lacking in all essentials
that she reminded me of New York rather than of London. She recalled my
favorite “rushlights,” and I didn’t cross the Atlantic to sample them
anew.



FOR BOOK LOVERS

_Archibald Lowery Sessions_

[Illustration]

    The part played by “high life” in fiction. The significance of its
    popularity as a theme for new novels illustrated by recent books.
    “The Marriage of William Ashe,” “Belchamber,” “The Dark Lantern.”
    Other books. The twenty-five best selling books of the month


There is at least one field in fiction that will probably never be
exhausted; at any rate, not until the distinctions that have always
divided human beings into classes become obliterated. High life has
always possessed, as it does to-day, peculiar attractions both for the
novel writer and the novel reader. Whatever may be the truth about the
importance of the part played by the devotees of society from a purely
utilitarian point of view, whatever may be said about their follies
and extravagances and even immoralities, it still remains true that
their doings and characters constitute a theme in fiction which is
perennially active.

Other “types” come and go as manners and methods change, just as, in
recent years, we have seen the development of the “industrial” or
“commercial” novel, but the society story still flourishes, as it
always has. The Englishman is not the only one who dearly loves a lord.
Though we have no nobility on this side of the water, there is no lack
among us of interest in the class that in America supplies its place.
The society columns in the daily newspapers furnish sufficient evidence
of this, for it is not to be presumed that so much space would be
devoted to a topic if there were not a widespread interest in it.

What is done by the votaries of fashion is of little importance, so
long as they do something. It may be that they shock sober-minded
people and supply material for satirists. Their scandals, of which
probably they have no more than their fair share, and their monkey
dinners, may be offenses against propriety and good taste, but those
who object still consume the news that comes from Fifth Avenue and
Newport and Belgravia, whether it is told in newspapers or in the
latest novel.

The significance of all this is that, even if we ourselves have not
the time for play in our strenuous lives, we still like to hear about
those whose chief pursuit is entertainment and recreation. The leisure
class in every community is the conspicuous class, just as is the
successful man. The toilers and the failures may be sure that they will
be undisturbed and forgotten, and take what comfort they can in the
knowledge that their right to privacy will be respected.

But social leaders must pay the penalty of their leadership. The
publicity that those in humbler walks of life shrink from, they
must accept as part of the day’s work. They must submit to satire,
caricature, and even slander, without concern. They must not complain
if, as has recently been intimated, envious novelists misrepresent them
and their customs and traditions. They are to remember that they exist,
not only to entertain and amuse themselves, but to do the same for the
lookers-on, who are not part of the show.

       *       *       *       *       *

Mrs. Humphry Ward has outdone herself in the interest aroused by “The
Marriage of William Ashe,” Harpers, and the book has kept readers and
reviewers busy, with many editions, since its publication. The surmise
that its author provided herself with some historical backing for her
portraiture of Lady Kitty and Geoffry Cliffe, in the characters of Lady
Caroline Lamb and Lord Byron, by no means diminishes admiration of her
creative powers. The background of reality merely serves to protect
her from the charge of over-exaggeration, while the personality of the
restless and many-sided little heroine herself takes too strong a hold
upon all readers to leave much room for criticism in this respect.

Ashe is, as the best type of English gentleman and statesman, capitally
done. Mary Lyster would have been as perfect a portrait of the same
class of social product but for the author’s inartistic slip in
degrading her unexpectedly to the rôle of stage villain, the jarring
note in this clever story. Logically, Mary would have been William’s
wife but for Kitty’s appeal to the latter at a time when his sympathies
were most vulnerable. Their marriage is, from the first, an incongruous
one; Ashe’s indulgence and blindness throw Kitty’s absurdities into
increasingly conspicuous relief, and his absorption in political
exigencies is broken only at intervals by some startling misdemeanor
on her part, resulting in scenes of passionate and half-remorseful
affection. Cliffe’s strange influence upon Kitty forms a powerful
developing force upon her destiny. Her occasional revolt against it is
quite in keeping with the strength which now and then manifests itself
in her untrained and abnormal make-up. The character of Lady Caroline
is followed in main events; seldom overdrawn, though in the capacity
of hostess she is now and then allowed to lapse into a lower grade of
social standards than one would expect, and her heartlessness toward
her child seems inconsistent with certain other outbreaks of maternal
passion.

The gentle, worldly-wise little Dean must not be passed over. Perhaps
the strongest point in the whole story is laid in the closing scene,
where he brings home to Ashe the latter’s terrible responsibility for
his wife’s degradation because of the poverty of a love which has taken
no account of the soul and its claims in his policy of blindness and
indulgence. Poor Lady Kitty discovers that same soul, too late for the
discovery to be of much use either to herself or her husband, but one
is rather relieved to leave them reconciled, even with the interruption
of Lady Kitty’s demise, and to wish William a more serene period of
existence. For Mrs. Ward’s heroes and heroines are very real people,
moving in familiar paths, and the charm of her stories is that one
forgets the fictitious in a thoroughly absorbing interest.

       *       *       *       *       *

“A Dark Lantern,” by Elizabeth Robins, Macmillan Company, is another
story of English society, and involves a somewhat striking study of
character, though that is by no means all there is to the book.

Katharine Dereham is a very human and a very charming personality, in
spite of the almost incredible inconsistencies which mark her relations
with Prince Anton of Breitenlohe-Waldenstein in the beginning, and
Garth Vincent at the end. It is not altogether incomprehensible that
she should have been both attracted and repelled by the prince, when
one considers the innate deceitfulness of his nature, and perhaps,
after her experience with him, it is not so strange that she should
have turned with relief to Vincent, whose sincerity was indomitable,
even if it was habitually brutal.

Probably the feminine reader will more thoroughly understand and
sympathize with Kitty Dereham’s distress of mind and spirit in her
struggles with the problems presented to her, and even with her
unconditional surrender to Garth Vincent.

If so, it will be because women lay greater stress upon uncompromising
truthfulness in a man than in a mere artificial exterior.

These three characters are the predominating ones in the book, and they
are drawn with a good deal of skill; those who assume the minor rôles
are used with good effect to carry on the action and develop the story
naturally and logically.

The style of the narrative is a little vexatious at times, but, on the
whole, the story is extremely well told, and there is a succession of
more or less dramatic episodes that make the book very interesting
reading.

       *       *       *       *       *

It happens, sometimes, that a novel is written for the publication of
which no good reason can be given. Fortunately, such occurrences are
rare, even in these days of “the literary deluge.” One such book has
lately appeared from the press of G. P. Putnam’s Sons, under the title
of “Belchamber,” the author of which is Howard Overing Sturgis.

The book is one of undeniable literary excellence in many respects,
a fact which merely adds to the regret one must feel at its equally
undeniable immorality in tone, its artistic iconoclasm, its distinctly
pessimistic tendency, and its deplorably bad taste in its frank
discussion of conjugal matters, some of which are commonly referred to
only in treatises on physiology.

It is a story of English society, and, notwithstanding all the
unpleasant truths that have been and may be told of this branch of
“high life,” it is difficult to believe that any such considerable
portion of it as Mr. Sturgis deals with is so destitute of attractive
characters. It is for this reason that the book cannot be read without
a feeling of depression. People as depraved as Cissy Eccleston and
Claude Morland, so sordidly unprincipled as Lady Eccleston, so
uselessly selfish as Arthur, so nearly degenerate, physically and
mentally, as Sainty, the hero, is intentionally represented to be,
should, if they are to be used in fiction at all, be subjected to the
counterbalancing influence of decent people; but in “Belchamber” there
is no such relief.

Sainty, otherwise Lord Belchamber, in spite of the fictitious virtues
with which his creator seeks to invest him, cannot but repel the
healthy-minded reader by his pitiable weakness of character, to say
nothing of his physical infirmities, the more that they are the
consequences of the excesses of his progenitors.

       *       *       *       *       *

A superficial reading of “The Fire of Spring,” by Margaret Potter, D.
Appleton & Co., might lead to the conclusion that the book is very
different from “The Flame Gatherers,” the last work of the same author,
which was published a year ago, but, as a matter of fact, they are, in
substance, not at all dissimilar. In one respect, at least, they are
identical, and that is the point of view from which the love element
is considered. The time and space which separate the scene of the
action of the two stories have not modified the primitive quality of
the love which supplies the _motif_. It is a love in which the material
predominates.

It must be confessed that there were grounds for the doubt felt by
Charles Van Studdiford’s two companions as to the possibility of his
being in love “with a young girl, of gentle birth and highest breeding,
as unassailable by the coarser methods as the women Charles had
hitherto known would have been by the finer.” Nevertheless, he cannot
justly be blamed for all of the trouble that followed his marriage with
Virginia Merrill. As she took him obviously for his money, her distress
at the subsequent discovery of his grossness is not likely to provoke
much sympathy for her, and in becoming entangled with Philip Atkinson,
“the erotic man,” she sacrificed her last claim to respect.

The theme and plot are more or less familiar, but the author has, with
an unusual subtlety and power, imparted to them a vitality that not
merely engages the attention, but actually involves the reader as an
active participant. She has given evidences of a rather unique gift of
magnetism, the development of which will bear watching.

       *       *       *       *       *

“Lady Noggs, Peeress,” by Edgar Jepson, McClure, Phillips & Co., though
a story of children, or, rather, of a child, for her contemporaries
play an inconspicuous part through most of the tale, is essentially
a book for the grown-ups, and unhappy must the man or woman be who
cannot enjoy it. Lady Noggs, who would, if she were actually what she
is represented to be, have her place in “Burke’s Peerage” as Lady
Felicia Grandison, is a delightful mixture of dignity and impudence.
Full to brimming over with a harmless mischief that is instinctive
in a healthy, normal child, yet when the occasion requires she never
fails to exact the homage which she considers due to her position as a
peeress and her birth as a British subject, as the Prince and Princess
of Meiningen-Schwerin found to their cost.

If her uncle, the prime minister, was invariably baffled and perplexed
by her vagaries and distressed by the consequences of her escapades,
Mr. Borrodaile and Miss Caldecott had reason to be grateful for her aid
in straightening out their affairs.

Mr. Beresford Caldecott’s dismay at the openly expressed admiration and
persistent attentions of the Lady Noggs, the Admirable Tinker and Elsie
will not excite much sympathy; on the contrary, the emotions of the
children will be appreciated and shared by most readers. For “a dapper
little man with a very red face and a very shiny top hat” to assume
such a sobriquet as “Tiger Jake” is calculated to stir the suspicions
even of children; and when such children begin to suspect that they are
being imposed upon, the results are likely to be unpleasant for the
offender.

“The Belted Seas,” by Arthur Colton, Henry Holt & Co., is a story,
or, strictly speaking, a series of stories, told in the course of a
winter’s afternoon by Captain Buckingham, who, with his audience, was
seated “by Pemberton’s Chimney.”

“Pemberton’s” was a small hotel near the village of Greenough,
somewhere, perhaps anywhere, on the southern coast of Long Island,
frequented mostly by sailors, not superannuated exactly, but at least
of the age when men who have had an active and adventurous life like to
sit around and tell of what they have seen and done, or listen while
some one else tells of their experiences. Of course, if a landsman
happens along, he hears many strange tales, and, if he is an author,
gets “copy.” And on this particular winter afternoon such a landsman
was present while Captain Buckingham talked. Hence “The Belted Seas.”

The captain, according to his own account, had had some extraordinary
adventures, shared by extraordinary companions, Stevey Todd, Sadler
and Captain Abe Dalrimple. It seems doubtful, however, if Captain
Buckingham would have had such a fund of rich material to draw upon for
his yarns if it had not been for Sadler’s genius for creating original
situations. The latter’s doings in Portale and Saleratus would make a
book of themselves, if they were duly amplified.

The “Hotel Helen Mar” was an inspiration, and only goes to show how
buoyant and optimistic dispositions may, with a little ingenuity, turn
disaster into prosperity.

The stories are deliberately told, a little too much so, perhaps, for
sustained interest, though it is to be remembered that an old sailor
cannot be hurried while he is spinning a yarn.

       *       *       *       *       *

Miss Marie Van Vorst, who collaborated with her sister-in-law, Mrs.
John Van Vorst, in the authorship of “The Woman Who Toils,” the book
which, it will be remembered, provoked President Roosevelt’s famous
utterance concerning race suicide, has published, through Dodd, Mead &
Co., a novel that ought to make a permanent place for itself, and add
much to its author’s fame.

If it can be classified at all, it must be said to belong to the
industrial type; the scene of its action is laid in the cotton mills
of the South, and its special problem is the employment of child
labor--though it is not to be understood that it is a problem novel in
the strict sense of the term.

The degradation of Henry Euston, his descent into the moral and
physical depths which he has reached at the opening of the story, and
his subsequent regeneration; Amanda’s development from a child of the
“poor whites” to the impressively elegant young woman, are the main
threads about which the story is woven. Other matters, incidents and
characters alike, are subordinate to these two, but are of a nature to
combine in making a very strong story. The book is full of dramatic
climaxes, more or less strenuous, and it cannot be said to be lacking
at any point in interest; it is a book to be read more than once if it
is to be thoroughly digested and appreciated.

If it contains any faults, they are to be found in the construction
rather than in conception or style. There is rather forced upon the
reader the impression of deficiency in this respect, which seems to be
due to the author’s failure to grasp thoroughly and hold firmly at all
times the details of the plot, with a resulting lack of co-ordination
in the action.

       *       *       *       *       *

It must be said of John F. Whitson’s new book, “Justin Wingate,
Ranchman,” Little, Brown & Co., that in it the author has failed to
realize the promise of his earlier book, “The Rainbow Chasers.” This
is partly due, doubtless, to the fact that, compared with the latter
story, the theme of “Justin Wingate” is more or less threadbare. The
lumber camps of Arkansas furnished a new setting for a story, and
their customs and local color were intrinsically interesting, even
though, aside from this, the story was a good one.

But the sheep and cattle ranch, especially the latter, and the cowboy,
have figured so often in novels, that to make a commendable tale of
such material nowadays, there must be a decided human and dramatic
interest, and a considerable degree of literary skill.

       *       *       *       *       *

The Twenty-five Best Selling Books of the Month.

“The Marriage of William Ashe,” Mrs. Humphry Ward, Harper & Bros.

“The Masquerader,” Katherine C. Thurston, Harper & Bros.

“The Accomplice,” Fred’k Trevor Hill, Harper & Bros.

“The Orchid,” Robert Grant, Chas. Scribner’s Sons.

“A Dark Lantern,” Elizabeth Robins, Macmillan Co.

“The Game,” Jack London, Macmillan Co.

“The Life Worth Living,” Thos. Dixon, Doubleday, Page & Co.

“The Clansman,” Thos. Dixon, Doubleday, Page & Co.

“Sandy,” Alice Hegan Rice, Century Co.

“Mrs. Essington,” Esther and Lucia Chamberlain, Century Co.

“Constance Trescot,” S. Weir Mitchell, Century Co.

“Pam,” Bettina von Hutten, Dodd, Mead & Co.

“The Purple Parasol,” George B. McCutcheon, Dodd, Mead & Co.

“The Princess Passes,” C. N. and A. M. Williamson, Henry Holt & Co.

“The Divine Fire,” May Sinclair, Henry Holt & Co.

“Nancy Stair,” Elinor M. Lane, D. Appleton & Co.

“The Garden of Allah,” Robert Hichens, F. A. Stokes & Co.

“The Rose of the World,” Agnes and Egerton Castle, F. A. Stokes & Co.

“The Man on the Box,” Harold McGrath, Bobbs-Merrill.

“The Master Mummer,” E. Phillips Oppenheim, Little, Brown.

“The Breath of the Gods,” Sidney McCall, Little, Brown.

“The Great Mogul,” Louis Tracy, E. J. Clode.

“Jörn Uhl,” Gustav Frenssen, Dana, Estes & Co.

“For the White Christ,” Robert A. Bennet, McClurg Co.

“The Ravenels,” Harris Dickson, J. B. Lippincott Co.



Transcribers’ Notes:


The articles in this magazine were written by different people, and
some of the articles contain dialect. So, inconsistent punctuation,
hyphenation, and spelling were not changed.

In the original magazine, the articles’ titles and authors were
enclosed in illustrations, while the poems’ titles followed headpieces.
In this version of this eBook, all titles are shown as normal headings,
with [Illustration] placeholders following the articles’ headings and
preceding the poems’.

Page 1: The opening quotation mark of the first paragraph was
intentionally omitted by the original publisher.

Page 17: “CHAPTER VIII.” was misprinted as “CHAPTER VII.” and has been
corrected here.

Page 45: The closing quotation mark after “masculine point of view:”
was added by the Transcriber. It may belong after “dazzle me with
light.”

Page 150: The introduction to “Dramatic Flashes from London & Paris”
ends abruptly after the word “players”.

Page 150: An unmatched quotation mark before “prohibited for a long
time” was removed by the Transcriber.

Page 156: The introduction to “For Book Lovers” ends abruptly after the
word “month”.





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