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Title: Mr. Incoul's Misadventure
Author: Saltus, Edgar
Language: English
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MR. INCOUL’S MISADVENTURE



BY THE SAME AUTHOR:

_THE PHILOSOPHY OF DISENCHANTMENT._

Crown 8vo.

“Mr. Saltus is a scientific pessimist, as witty, as bitter, as
satirical, as interesting and as insolent to humanity in general as are
his great teachers, Schopenhauer and Von Hartmann.”--_Worcester Spy._


_THE ANATOMY OF NEGATION._

Crown 8vo.

“A whole library of pessimism compressed into one small volume by a
writer whose understanding of the value of words amounts almost to
genius.”--_Chicago Herald._

“The work is remarkable in every way and its originality and power will
compel for it more than an ephemeral existence, for independently of
the force with which it deals with its theme its literary merits are of
a high order, and its reflections are those of a bold, brilliant and
able thinker.”--_Boston Saturday Review._


IN PREPARATION,

_CIMMERIA_.



  MR. INCOUL’S
  MISADVENTURE

  A NOVEL

  BY

  EDGAR SALTUS


  _And thine eye shall not pity._
      _Deuteronomy, XIX. 21._


  [Illustration]


  NEW YORK
  BENJAMIN & BELL

  M DCCC LXXXVII



  Copyright, 1887, by EDGAR SALTUS


  GILLISS BROTHERS & TURNURE
  THE ART AGE PRESS
  400 & 402 WEST 14TH STREET, N. Y.



TO

E. A. S.



CONTENTS.


 CHAPTER.                                           PAGE
      I. Mr. Incoul,                                  11
     II. Miss Barhyte Agrees to Change her Name,      18
    III. After Darkness,                              30
     IV. An Evening Call,                             42
      V. A Yellow Envelope,                           51
     VI. Biarritz,                                    68
    VII. What may be Seen from a Palco,               84
   VIII. An Unexpected Guest,                        101
     IX. Mr. Incoul Dines in Spain,                  114
      X. The Point of View,                          127
     XI. The House in the Parc Monceau,              138
    XII. Mr. Incoul is Preoccupied,                  146
   XIII. What may be Heard in a Greenroom,           155
    XIV. Karl Grows a Moustache,                     163
     XV. May Expostulates,                           178
    XVI. The Bare Bodkin,                            188
   XVII. Maida’s Nuptials,                           202
  XVIII. Mr. Incoul Goes over the Accounts,          211



CHAPTER I.

MR. INCOUL.


When Harmon Incoul’s wife died, the world in which he lived said that
he would not marry again. The bereavement which he had suffered was
known to be bitter, and it was reported that he might betake himself to
some foreign land. There was, for that matter, nothing to keep him at
home. He was childless, his tastes were too simple to make it necessary
for him to reside as he had, hitherto, in New York, and, moreover, he
was a man whose wealth was proverbial. Had he so chosen, he had little
else to do than to purchase a ticket and journey wheresoever he listed,
and the knowledge of this ability may have been to him not without
its consolations. Yet, if he attempted to map some plan, and think
which spot he would prefer, he probably reflected that whatever place
he might choose, he would, in the end, be not unlike the invalid who
turns over in his bed, and then turns back again on finding the second
position no better than the first. However fair another sky might be,
it would not make his sorrow less acute.

He was then one of those men whose age is difficult to determine.
He had married when quite young, and at the time of his widowerhood
he must have been nearly forty, but years had treated him kindly.
His hair, it is true, was inclined to scantiness, and his skin was
etiolated, but he was not stout, his teeth were sound, he held himself
well, and his eyes had not lost their lustre. At a distance, one might
have thought him in the thirties, but in conversation his speech was
so measured, and about his lips there was a compression such that the
ordinary observer fancied him older than he really was.

His position was unexceptionable. He had inherited a mile of real
estate in a populous part of New York, together with an accumulation
of securities sufficient for the pay and maintenance of a small army.
The foundations of this wealth had been laid by an ancestor, materially
increased by his grandfather, and consolidated by his father, who had
married a Miss Van Tromp, the ultimate descendant of the Dutch admiral.

His boyhood had not been happy. His father had been a lean, taciturn,
unlovable man, rigid in principles, stern in manner, and unyielding in
his adherence to the narrowest tenets of Presbyterianism. His mother
had died while he was yet in the nursery, and, in the absence of any
softening influence, the angles of his earliest nature were left in the
rough.

At school, he manifested a vindictiveness of disposition which made
him feared and disliked. One day, a comrade raised the lid of a desk
adjoining his own. The raising of the lid was abrupt and possibly
intentional. It jarred him in a task. The boy was dragged from him
senseless and bleeding. In college, he became aggrieved at a tutor.
For three weeks he had him shadowed, then, having discovered an
irregularity in his private life, he caused to be laid before the
faculty sufficient evidence to insure his removal. Meanwhile, acting
presumably on the principle that an avowed hatred is powerless, he
treated the tutor as though the grievance had been forgotten. A little
later, owing to some act of riotous insubordination, he was himself
expelled, and the expulsion seemed to have done him good. He went to
Paris and listened decorously to lectures at the Sorbonne, after which
he strayed to Heidelberg, where he sat out five semesters without
fighting a duel or making himself ill with beer. In his fourth summer
abroad, he met the young lady who became his wife. His father died, he
returned to New York, and thereafter led a model existence.

He was proud of his wife and indulgent to her every wish. During
the years that they lived together, there was no sign or rumor
of the slightest disagreement. She was of a sweet and benevolent
disposition, and though beyond a furtive coin he gave little to the
poor, he encouraged her to donate liberally to the charities which she
was solicited to assist. She was a woman with a quick sense of the
beautiful, and in spite of the simplicity of his own tastes, he had a
house on Madison avenue rebuilt and furnished in such a fashion that it
was pointed out to strangers as one of the chief palaces of the city.
She liked, moreover, to have her friends about her, and while he cared
as much for society as he did for the negro minstrels, he insisted that
she should give entertainments and fill the house with guests. In the
winter succeeding the fifteenth anniversary of their marriage, Mrs.
Incoul caught a chill, took to her bed and died, forty-eight hours
later, of pneumonia.

It was then that the world said that he would not marry again. For two
years he gave the world no reason to say otherwise, and for two years
time hung heavy on his hands. He was an excellent chess-player, and
interested in archæological pursuits, but beyond that his resources
were limited. He was too energetic to be a dilettante, he had no taste
for horseflesh, the game of speculation did not interest him, and his
artistic tendencies were few. Now and then, a Mr. Blydenburg, a florid,
talkative man, a widower like himself, came to him of an evening, and
the chess-board was prepared. But practically his life was one of
solitude, and the solitude grew irksome to him.

Meanwhile his wound healed as wounds do. The cicatrix perhaps was
ineffaceable, but at least the smart had subsided, and in its
subsidence he found that the great house in which he lived had taken on
the silence of a tomb. Soon he began to go out a little. He was seen
at meetings of the Archæological Society and of an afternoon he was
visible in the Park. He even attended a reception given to an English
thinker, and one night applauded Salvini.

At first he went about with something of that uncertainty which visits
one who passes from a dark room to a bright one, but in a little while
his early constraint fell from him, and he found that he could mingle
again with his fellows.

At some entertainment he met a delicious young girl, Miss Maida Barhyte
by name, whom for the moment he admired impersonally, as he might
have admired a flower, and until he saw her again, forgot her very
existence. It so happened, however, that he saw her frequently. One
evening he sat next to her at a dinner and learning from her that she
was to be present at a certain reception, made a point of being present
himself.

This reception was given by Mrs. Bachelor, a lady, well known in
society, who kept an unrevised list, and at stated intervals issued
invitations to the dead, divorced and defaulted. When she threw her
house open, she liked to have it filled, and to her discredit it must
be said that in that she invariably succeeded. On the evening that Mr.
Incoul crossed her vestibule, he was met by a hum of voices, broken by
the rhythm of a waltz. The air was heavy, and in the hall was a smell
of flowers and of food. The rooms were crowded. His friend Blydenburg
was present and with him his daughter. The Wainwarings, whom he had
always known, were also there, and there were other people by whom he
had not been forgotten, and with whom he exchanged a word, but for Miss
Barhyte he looked at first in vain.

He would have gone, a crowd was as irksome to him as solitude, but
in passing an outer room elaborately supplied with paintings and
bric-à-brac, he caught a glimpse of the girl talking with a young man
whom he vaguely remembered to have seen in earlier days at his own home.

He walked in: Miss Barhyte greeted him as an old friend: there were
other people near her, and the young man with whom she had been talking
turned and joined them, and presently passed with them into another
room.

Mr. Incoul found a seat beside the girl, and, after a little unimportant
conversation asked her a question at which she started. But Mr. Incoul
was not in haste for an answer, he told her that with her permission, he
would do himself the honor of calling on her later, and, as the room was
then invaded by some of her friends, he left her to them, and went his
way.



CHAPTER II.

MISS BARHYTE AGREES TO CHANGE HER NAME.


A day or two after Mrs. Bachelor’s reception, Mr. Incoul walked down
Madison avenue, turned into one of the adjacent streets and rang the
bell of a private boarding-house.

As he stood on the steps waiting for the door to be opened, a
butcher-boy passed, whistling shrilly. Across the way a nurse-maid
was idling with a perambulator, a slim-figured girl hurried by, a
well-dressed woman descended from a carriage and a young man with
a flower in his button-hole issued from a neighboring house. The
nurse-maid stayed the perambulator and scrutinized the folds of the
woman’s gown; the young man eyed the hurrying girl; from the end of the
street came the whistle of the retreating butcher, and as it fused into
the rumble of Fifth avenue, Mr. Incoul heard the door opening behind
him.

“Is Miss Barhyte at home?” he asked.

The servant, a negro, answered that she was.

“Then be good enough,” said Mr. Incoul, “to take her this card.”

The drawing-room, long and narrow, as is usual in many New York houses,
was furnished in that fashion which is suggestive of a sheriff’s sale,
and best calculated to jar the nerves. Mr. Incoul did not wince. He
gave the appointments one cursory, reluctant glance, and then went to
the window. Across the way the nurse-maid still idled, the young man
with a flower was drawing on a red glove, stitched with black, and as
he looked out at them he heard a rustle, and turning, saw Miss Barhyte.

“I have come for an answer,” he said simply.

“I am glad to see you,” she answered, “very glad; I have thought much
about what you said.”

“Favorably, I hope.”

“That must depend on you.” She went to a bell and touched it.
“Archibald,” she said, when the negro appeared, “I am out. If any
visitors come take them into the other room. Should any one want to
come in here before I ring, say the parlor is being swept.”

The man bowed and withdrew. He would have stood on his head for her.
There were few servants that she did not affect in much the same
manner. She seemed to win willingness naturally.

She seated herself on a sofa, and opposite to her Mr. Incoul found a
chair. Her dress he noticed was of some dark material, tailor-made,
and unrelieved save by a high white collar and the momentary glisten
of a button. The cut and sobriety of her costume made her look like a
handsome boy, a young Olympian as it were, one who had strayed from the
games and been arrayed in modern guise. Indeed, her features suggested
that combination of beauty and sensitiveness which was peculiar to the
Greek lad, but her eyes were not dark--they were the blue victorious
eyes of the Norseman--and her hair was red, the red of old gold, that
red which partakes both of orange and of flame.

“I hope--” Mr. Incoul began, but she interrupted him.

“Wait,” she said, “I have much to tell you of which the telling is
difficult. Will you bear with me a moment?”

“Surely,” he answered.

“It is this: It is needless for me to say I esteem you; it is
unnecessary for me to say that I respect you, but it is because I do
both that I feel I may speak frankly. My mother wishes me to marry you,
but I do not. Let me tell you, first, that when my father died he left
very little, but the little that he left seems to have disappeared, I
do not know how or where. I know merely that we have next to nothing,
and that we are in debt beside. Something, of course, has had to be
done. I have found a position. Where do you suppose?” she asked, with a
sudden smile and a complete change of key.

But Mr. Incoul had no surmises.

“In San Francisco! The MacDermotts, you know, the Bonanza people, want
me to return with them and teach their daughter how to hold herself,
and what not to say. It has been arranged that I am to go next week.
Since the other night, however, my mother has told me to give up the
MacDermotts and accept your offer. But that, of course, I cannot do.”

“And why not?”

To this Miss Barhyte made no answer.

“You do not care for me, I know; there is slight reason why you should.
Yet, might you not, perhaps, in time?”

The girl raised her eyebrows ever so slightly. “So you see,” she
continued, “I shall have to go to San Francisco.”

Mr. Incoul remained silent a moment. “If,” he said, at last, “if you
will do me the honor to become my wife, in time you will care. It is
painful for me to think of you accepting a position which at best is
but a shade better than that of a servant, particularly so when I
am able--nay, anxious,” he added, pensively--“to surround you with
everything which can make life pleasant. I am not old,” he went on
to say, “at least not so old that a marriage between us should seem
incongruous. I find that I am sincerely attached to you--unselfishly,
perhaps, would be the better word--and, if the privilege could be mine,
the endeavor to make you happy would be to me more grateful than a
second youth. Can you not accept me?”

He had been speaking less to her than to the hat which he held in his
hand. The phrases had come from him haltingly, one by one, as though he
had sought to weigh each mentally before dowering it with the wings of
utterance, but, as he addressed this question he looked up at her. “Can
you not?” he repeated.

Miss Barhyte raised a handkerchief to her lips and bit the shred of
cambric with the _disinvoltura_ of an heiress.

“Why is it,” she queried, “why is it that marriage ever was invented?
Why cannot a girl accept help from a man without becoming his wife?”

Mr. Incoul was about to reply that many do, but he felt that such a
reply would be misplaced, and he called a platitude to his rescue.
“There are wives and wives,” he said.

“That is it,” the girl returned, the color mounting to her cheeks; “if
I could but be to you one of the latter.”

He stared at her wonderingly, almost hopefully. “What do you mean?” he
asked.

“Did you ever read ‘Eugénie Grandet’?”

“No,” he answered, “I never have.”

“Well, I read it years ago. It is, I believe, the only one of Balzac’s
novels that young girls are supposed to read. It is tiresome indeed; I
had almost forgotten it, but yesterday I remembered enough of the story
to help me to come to some decision. In thinking the matter over and
over again as I have done ever since I last saw you it has seemed that
I could not become your wife unless you were willing to make the same
agreement with me that Eugénie Grandet’s husband made with her.”

“What was the nature of that agreement?”

“It was that, though married, they were to live as though they were not
married--as might brother and sister.”

“Always?”

“Yes.”

“No,” Mr. Incoul answered, “to such an agreement I could not consent.
Did I do so, I would be untrue to myself, unmanly to you. But if you
will give me the right to aid you and yours, I will--according to my
lights--leave nothing undone to make you contented; and if I succeed in
so doing, if you are happy, then the agreement which you have suggested
would fall of itself. Would it not?” he continued. “Would it not be
baseless? See--” he added, and he made a vague gesture, but before he
could finish the phrase, the girl’s hands were before her face and he
knew that she was weeping.

Mr. Incoul was not tender-hearted. He felt toward Miss Barhyte as were
she some poem in flesh that it would be pleasant to make his own. In
her carriage as in her looks, he had seen that stamp of breeding which
is coercive even to the dissolute. In her eyes he had discerned that
promise of delight which it is said the lost goddesses could convey;
and at whose conveyance, the legend says, the minds of men were
enraptured. It was in this wise that he felt to her. Such exhilaration
as she may have brought him was of the spirit, and being cold by
nature and undemonstrative, her tears annoyed him. He would have had
her impassive, as befitted her beauty. Beside, he was annoyed at his
own attitude. Why should there be sorrow where he had sought to bring
smiles? But he had barely time to formulate his annoyance into a thing
even as volatile as thought--the girl had risen and was leaving the
room.

As she moved to the door Mr. Incoul hastened to open it for her, but
she reached it before him and passed out unassisted.

When she had gone he noticed that the sun was setting and that the
room was even more hideous than before. He went again to the window
wondering how to act. The entire scene was a surprise to him. He had
come knowing nothing of the girl’s circumstances, and suddenly he
learned that she was in indigence, unable perhaps to pay her board
bills and worried by small tradesmen. He had come prepared to be
refused and she had almost accepted him. But what an acceptance! In the
nature of it his thoughts roamed curiously: he was to be a little more
than kin, a little less than kind. She would accept him as a husband
for out-of-door purposes, for the world’s sake she would bear his
name--at arm’s length. According to the terms of her proposition were
she ever really his wife it would be tantamount to a seduction. He was
to be with her, and yet, until she so willed it, unable to call her his
own. And did he refuse these terms, she was off, no one knew whither.
But he had not refused, he told himself, he had indeed not refused, he
had merely suggested an amendment which turned an impossibility into an
allurement. What pleasanter thing could there be than the winning of
one’s own wife? The idea was so novel it delighted him. For the moment
he preferred it to any other; beside it his former experience seemed
humdrum indeed. But why had she wept? Her reasons, however, he had then
no chance to elucidate. Miss Barhyte returned as abruptly as she had
departed.

“Forgive me,” she said, advancing to where he stood, “it was stupid of
me to act as I did. I am sorry--are we still friends?” Her eyes were
clear as had she never wept, but there were circles about them, and her
face was colorless.

“Friends,” he answered, “yes, and more--” He hesitated a moment, and
then hastily added, “It is agreed, then, is it not, you will be my
wife?”

“I will be your wife?”

“As Balzac’s heroine was to her husband?”

“You have said it.”

“But not always. If there come a time when you care for me, then I may
ask you to give me your heart as to-day I have asked for your hand?”

“When that day comes, believe me,” she said, and her delicious face
took on a richer hue, “when that day comes there will be neither asking
nor giving, we shall have come into our own.”

With this assurance Mr. Incoul was fain to be content, and, after
another word or two, he took his leave.

For some time after his departure, Miss Barhyte stood thinking. It had
grown quite dark. Before the window a street lamp burned with a small,
steady flame, but beyond, the azure of the electric light pervaded the
adjacent square with a suggestion of absinthe and vice. One by one the
opposite houses took on some form of interior illumination. A newsboy
passed, hawking an extra with a noisy, aggressive ferocity as though he
were angry with the neighborhood, and dared it come out and wrestle
with him for his wares. There was a thin broken stream of shop-girls
passing eastward; at intervals, men in evening dress sauntered
leisurely to their dinners, to restaurants, or to clubland, and over
the rough pavement there was a ceaseless rattle of traps and of wagons;
the air was alive with the indefinable murmurs of a great city.

Miss Barhyte noticed none of these things. She had taken her former
seat on the sofa and sat, her elbow on her crossed knee, her chin
resting in her hand, while the fingers touched and barely separated her
lips. The light from without was just strong enough to reach her feet
and make visible the gold clock on her silk stocking, but her face was
in the shadow as were her thoughts.

Presently she rose and rang the bell. “Archibald,” she said, when the
man came, and who at once busied himself with lighting the gas, “I want
to send a note; can’t you take it? It’s only across the square.”

“I’ll have to be mighty spry about it, miss. The old lady do carry on
most unreasonable if I go for anybody but herself. She has laws that
strict they’d knock the Swedes and Prussians silly. Why, you wouldn’t
believe if I told you how--”

And Archibald ran on with an unbelievable tale of recent adventure with
the landlady. But the girl feigned no interest. She had taken a card
from her case. On it she wrote, _Viens ce soir_, and after running the
pencil through her name, she wrote on the other side, Lenox Leigh,
esq., Athenæum Club.

“There,” she said, interrupting the negro in the very climax of his
story, “it’s for Mr. Leigh; you are sure to find him, so wait for an
answer.”

A fraction of an hour later, when Miss Barhyte took her seat at the
dinner table, she found beside her plate a note that contained a single
line: “Will be with you at nine. I kiss your lips. L. L.”



CHAPTER III.

AFTER DARKNESS.


When Miss Barhyte was one year younger she had gone with her mother to
pass the summer at Mt. Desert; and there, the morning of her arrival,
on the monster angle of Rodick’s porch, Lenox Leigh had caused himself
to be presented.

A week later Miss Barhyte and her new acquaintance were as much
gossiped about as was possible in that once unconventional resort.

Lenox Leigh was by birth a Baltimorean, and by profession a gentleman
of leisure, yet as the exercise of that profession is considered less
profitable in Baltimore than in New York, he had, for some time past,
been domiciled in the latter city. From the onset he was well received;
one of the Amsterdams had married a Leigh, his only sister had charmed
the heart of Nicholas Manhattan, and being in this wise connected with
two of the reigning families, he found the doors open as a matter
of course. But even in the absence of potent relatives, there was no
reason why he should not have been cordially welcomed. He was, it is
true, better read than nineteen men out of twenty; when he went to the
opera he preferred listening to the music to wandering from box to box;
he declined to figure in cotillons and at no dinner, at no supper had
he been known to drink anything stronger than claret and water.

But as an offset to these defects he was one of the most admirably
disorganized young men that ever trod Fifth avenue. He was without
beliefs and without prejudices; added to this he was indulgent to the
failings of others, or perhaps it would be better to say that he was
indifferent. It may be that the worst thing about him was that he was
not bad enough; his wickedness, such as there was of it, was purely
negative. A poet of the decadence of that period in fact when Rome had
begun to weary of debauchery without yet acquiring a taste for virtue,
a pre-mediæval Epicurean, let us say, could not have pushed a creedless
refinement to a greater height than he. There were men who thought him
a prig, and who said so when his back was turned.

It was in the company of this patrician of a later day that Miss
Barhyte participated in the enjoyments of Mt. Desert. Leigh was then in
his twenty-fifth year, and Miss Barhyte was just grazing the twenties.
He was attractive in appearance, possessed of those features which now
and then permit a man to do without beard or moustache, and his hair,
which was black, clung so closely to his head that at a distance it
might have been taken for the casque of a Saracen. To Miss Barhyte,
as already noted, a full share of beauty had been allotted. Together
they formed one of the most charming couples that it has ever been
the historian’s privilege to admire. And being a charming couple, and
constantly together, they excited much interest in the minds of certain
ladies who hailed from recondite Massachusettsian regions.

To this interest they were indifferent. At first, during the early
evenings when the stars were put out by the Northern Lights, they rowed
to the outermost shore of a neighboring island and lingered there for
hours in an enchanted silence. Later, in the midsummer nights, when
the harvest-moon was round and mellow, they wandered through the open
fields back into the Dantesque forests and strayed in the clinging
shadows and inviting solitudes of the pines.

From one such excursion they returned to the hotel at an hour which
startled the night porter, who, in that capricious resort, should have
lost his ability to be startled at anything.

That afternoon Mrs. Bunker Hill--one of the ladies to whom allusion
has been made--approached Miss Barhyte on the porch. “And are you to
be here much longer?” she asked, after a moment or two of desultory
conversation.

“The holidays are almost over,” the girl answered, with her radiant
smile.

“_Holidays_ do you call them? _Holidays_ did I understand you to say?
_I_ should have called them _fast_ days.” And, with that elaborate
witticism, Mrs. Bunker Hill shook out her skirts and sailed away.

Meanwhile an enveloping intimacy had sprung up between the two young
people. Their conversation need not be chronicled. There was in it
nothing unusual and nothing particularly brilliant; it was but a strain
from that archaic duo in which we have all taken part and which at each
repetition seems an original theme.

For the first time Miss Barhyte learned the intoxication of love. She
gave her heart ungrudgingly, without calculation, without forethought,
wholly, as a heart should be given and freely as had the gift been
consecrated in the nave of a cathedral. If she were generous why should
she be blamed? In the giving she found that mite of happiness, that one
unclouded day that is fair as June roses and dawns but once.

In September Miss Barhyte went with her mother on a visit in the
Berkshire Hills. Leigh journeyed South. A matter of business claimed
his attention in Baltimore, and when, early in November, he reached New
York the girl had already returned.

Since the death of Barhyte _père_ she had lived with her mother in a
small house in Irving Place, which they rented, furnished, by the year.
But on this particular autumn affairs had gone so badly, some stock had
depreciated, some railroad had been mismanaged, or some trustee had
speculated--something, in fact, had happened of which no one save those
personally interested ever know or ever care, and, as a result, the
house in Irving Place was given up, and the mother and daughter moved
into a boarding-house.

Of all this Lenox Leigh was made duly aware. Had he been able, and
could such a thing have been proper and conventional, he would have
been glad indeed to offer assistance; he was not selfish, but then
he was not rich, a condition which always makes unselfishness easy.
Matrimony was out of the question; his income was large enough to
permit him to live without running into debt, but beyond that its
flexibility did not extend, and in money matters, and in money matters
alone, Lenox Leigh was the most scrupulous of men. Beside, as the
phrase goes, he was not a marrying man--marriage, he was accustomed
to assert, means one woman more and one man less, and beyond that
definition he steadfastly declined to look, except to announce that,
like some other institutions, matrimony was going out of fashion.

That winter Miss Barhyte was more circumspect. It was not that her
affection had faltered, but in the monochromes of a great city the
primal glamour that was born of the fields and of the sea lost its
lustre. Then, too, Lenox in the correctness of evening dress was not
the same adorer who had lounged in flannels at her side, and the change
from the open country to the boarding-house parlor affected their
spirits unconsciously.

And so the months wore away. There were dinners and routs which the
young people attended in common, there were long walks on avenues
unfrequented by fashion, and there were evenings prearranged which they
passed together and during which the girl’s mother sat up stairs and
thought her own thoughts.

Mrs. Barhyte had been a pretty woman and inconsequential, as pretty
woman are apt to be. Her girlhood had been of the happiest, without a
noteworthy grief. She married one whose perfection had seemed to her
impeccable, and then suddenly without a monition the tide of disaster
set in. After the birth of a second child, Maida, her husband began to
drink, and drank, after each debauch with a face paler than before,
until disgrace came and with it a plunge into the North River. Her
elder child, a son, on whom she placed her remaining hopes, had barely
skirted manhood before he was taken from her to die of small-pox in a
hospital. Then came a depreciation in the securities which she held
and in its train the small miseries of the shabby genteel. Finally,
the few annual thousands that were left to her seemed to evaporate,
and as she sat in her room alone her thoughts were bitter. The
pretty inconsequential girl had developed into a woman, hardened yet
unresigned. At forty-five her hair was white, her face was colorless
as her widow’s cap, her heart was dead.

On the night when her daughter, under the chaperonage of Mrs. Hildred,
one of her few surviving relatives--returned from the reception, she
was still sitting up. At Mrs. Hildred’s suggestion a position, to which
allusion has been made, had been offered to her daughter, and that
position--the bringing up or rather the bringing out of a child of the
West--she determined that her daughter should accept. Afterwards--well,
perhaps for Maida there were other things in store, as for herself she
expected little. She would betake herself to some Connecticut village
and there wait for death.

When her daughter entered the room she was sitting in the erect
impassibility of a statue. Her eyes indeed were restless, but her face
was dumb, and in the presence of that silent desolation, the girl’s
tender heart was touched.

“Mother!” she exclaimed, “why did you wait up for me?” And she found a
seat on the sofa near her mother and took her hand caressingly in her
own. “Why are you up so late,” she continued, “are you not tired? Oh,
mother,” the girl cried, impetuously, “if you only knew what happened
to-night--what do you suppose?”

But Mrs. Barhyte shook her head, she had no thoughts left for
suppositions. And quickly, for the mere sake of telling something
that would arouse her mother if ever so little from her apathy, Maida
related Mr. Incoul’s offer. Her success was greater, if other, than she
anticipated. It was as though she had poured into a parching throat the
very waters of life. It was the post tenebras, lux. And what a light!
The incandescence of unexpected hope. A cataract of gold pieces could
not have been more dazzling; it was blinding after the shadows in which
she had groped. The color came to her cheeks, her hand grew moist.
“Yes, yes,” she cried, urging the girl’s narrative with a motion of the
head like to that of a jockey speeding to the post; “yes, yes,” she
repeated, and her restless eyes flamed with the heat of fever.

“Wasn’t it odd?” Maida concluded abruptly.

“But you accepted him?” the mother asked hoarsely, almost fiercely.

“Accepted him? No, of course not--he--why, mother, what is the matter?”

Engrossed in the telling of her story, the girl had not noticed her
mother’s agitation, but at her last words, at the answer to the
question, her wrist had been caught as in a vise, and eyes that
she no longer recognized--eyes dilated with anger, desperation and
revulsion of feeling--were staring into her own. Instinctively she drew
back--“Oh, mother, what is it?” And the mother bending forward, even as
the daughter retreated, hissed, “You shall accept him--I say you shall!”

“Mother, mother,” the girl moaned, helplessly.

“You shall accept him, do you hear me?”

“But, mother, how can I?” The tears were rolling down her cheeks, she
was frightened--the acute, agonizing fright of a child pursued. She
tried to free herself, but the hands on her wrist only tightened, and
her mother’s face, livid now, was close to her own.

“You shall accept him,” she repeated with the insistence of a
monomaniac. And the girl, with bended head, through the paroxysms of
her sobs, could only murmur in piteous, beseeching tones, “Mother!
mother!”

But to the plaint the woman was as deaf as her heart was dumb. She
indeed loosened her hold and the girl fell back on the lounge from
which they had both arisen, but it was only to summon from the
reservoirs of her being some new strength wherewith to vanquish. For a
moment she stood motionless, watching the girl quiver in her emotion,
and as the sobbing subsided, she stretched forth her hand again, and
caught her by the shoulder.

“Look up at me,” she said, and the girl, obedient, rose from her seat
and gazed imploringly in her mother’s face. No Neapolitan fish-wife
was ever more eager to barter her daughter than was this lady of
acknowledged piety and refinement, and the face into which her daughter
looked and shrank from bore no trace of pity or compassion. “Tell me if
you dare,” she continued, “tell me why it is that you refuse? What more
do you want? Are you a princess of the blood? Perhaps you will say you
don’t love him! And what if you don’t? I loved your father and look at
me now! Beside, you have had enough of that--there, don’t stare at me
in that way. I know, and so do you. Now take your choice--accept this
offer or get to your lover--and this very night. As for me, I disown
you, I--”

But the flood of words was interrupted--the girl had fainted. The
simulachre of death had extended its kindly arms, and into them she
had fallen as into a grateful release.

By the morrow her spirit was broken. Two days later Mr. Incoul called
with what success the reader has been already informed, and on that
same evening in obedience to the note, came Lenox Leigh.



CHAPTER IV.

AN EVENING CALL.


When Leigh entered the drawing-room he found Miss Barhyte already
there. “It is good of you to come,” she said, by way of greeting.

The young man advanced to where she stood, and in a tender, proprietary
manner, took her hand in his; he would have kissed her, but she turned
her face aside.

“What is it?” he asked; “you are pale as Ophelia.”

“And you, my prince, as inquisitive as Hamlet.”

She led him to a seat and found one for herself. Her eyes rested in his
own, and for a moment both were silent.

“Lenox,” she asked at last, “do you know Mr. Incoul?”

“Yes, of course; every one does.”

“I mean do you know him well?”

“I never said ten words to him, nor he to me.”

“So much the better. What do you suppose he did the other evening after
you went away?”

“Really, I have no idea, but if you wish me to draw on my imagination,
I suppose he went away too.”

“He offered himself.”

“For what?”

“To me.”

“Maida, that mummy! You are joking.”

“No, I am not joking, nor was he.”

“Well, what then?”

“Then, as you say, he went away.”

“And what did you do?”

“I went away too.”

“Be serious; tell me about it.”

“He came here this afternoon, and I--well--I am to be Mrs. Incoul.”

Lenox bit his lip. Into his face there came an expression of angered
resentment. He stood up from his seat; the girl put out her hand as
though to stay him: “Lenox, I had to,” she cried. But he paid no
attention to her words and crossed the room.

On the mantel before him was a clock that ticked with a low, dolent
moan, and for some time he stood looking at it as were it an object
of peculiar interest which he had never before enjoyed the leisure
to examine. But the clock might have swooned from internal pain, he
neither saw nor heard it; his thoughts circled through episodes of the
winter back to the forest and the fringes of the summer sea. And slowly
the anger gave way to wonder, and presently the wonder faded and in its
place there came a sentiment like that of sorrow, a doubled sorrow in
whose component parts there was both pity and distress.

It is said that the rich are without appreciation of their wealth until
it is lost or endangered, and it was not until that evening that Lenox
Leigh appreciated at its worth the loveliness that was slipping from
him. He knew then that he might tread the highroads and faubourgs of
two worlds with the insistence of the Wandering Jew, and yet find no
one so delicious as she. And in the first flood of his anger he felt
as were he being robbed, as though the one thing that had lifted him
out of the brutal commonplaces of the every day was being caught up and
carried beyond the limits of vision. And into this resentment there
came the suspicion that he was not alone being robbed, that he was
being cheated to boot, that the love which he had thought to receive as
he had seemed to give love before, was an illusory representation, a
phantom constructed of phrases.

But this suspicion faded; he knew untold that the girl’s whole heart
was his, had been his, was yet his and probably would be his for all
of time, till the grave opened and closed again. And then the wonder
came. He knew, none better, the purity of her heart, and knowing,
too, her gentleness, the sweetness of her nature, her abnegation of
self, he began to understand that some tragedy had been enacted which
he had not been called upon to witness. Of her circumstances he had
been necessarily informed. But in the sensitiveness of her refinement
the girl had shrunk from unveiling to a lover’s eyes the increasing
miseries of her position, and of the poignancy of those miseries he had
now, uninformed, an inkling. If she sold herself, surely it was because
the sale was imperative. The white impassible face of the girl’s mother
rose before him and then, at once, he understood her cry, “Lenox, I had
to.”

As he moved from her, Maida had seen the anger, and knowing the anger
to be as just as justice ever is, she shook her head in helpless grief,
yet her eyes were tearless as had she no tears left to shed. She had
seen the anger, but ignorant of the phases of thought by which it had
been transfigured she stole up to where he stood and touched his arm
with a shrinking caress.

He turned and would have caught her to him, but she drew back,
elusively, as might a swan. “No, not that, Lenox. Only say that you do
not hate me. Lenox, if you only knew. To me it is bitterer than death.
You are the whole world to me, yet never must I see you again. If I
could but tell you all. If I could but tell him all, if there were
anything that I could do or say, but there is nothing, nothing,” she
added pensively, “except submission.”

Her voice had sunk into a whisper: she was pleading as much with
herself as with him. Her arms were pendant and her eyes downcast. On
the mantel the clock kept up its low, dolorous moan, as though in
sympathy with her woe. “Nothing,” she repeated.

“But surely it need not be. Things cannot be so bad as that--Maida, I
cannot lose you. If nothing else can be done, let us go away; at its
best New York is tiresome; we could both leave it without a regret or a
wish to return. And then, there is Italy; we have but to choose. Why, I
could take a palace on the Grand Canal for less than I pay for my rooms
at the Cumberland. And you would love Venice; and in winter there is
Capri and Sorrento and Palermo. I have known days in Palermo when I
seemed to be living in a haze of turquoise and gold. And the nights!
You should see the nights! The stars are large as lilies! See, it would
be so easy; in a fortnight we could be in Genoa, and before we got
there we would have been forgotten.”

He was bending forward speaking rapidly, persuasively, half hoping,
half fearing, she would accept. She did not interrupt him, and he
continued impetuously, as though intoxicated on his own words.

“When we are tired of the South, there are the lakes and that lovely
Tyrol; there will be so much to do, so much to see. After New York, we
shall really seem to live; and then, beyond, is Munich--you are sure to
love that city.” He hated Munich; he hated Germany. The entire land,
and everything that was in it, was odious to him; but for the moment
he forgot. He would have said more, even to praises of Berlin, but the
girl raised her ringless hand and shook her head wearily.

“No, Lenox, it may not be. Did I go with you, in a year--six months,
perhaps--we would both regret. It would be not only expatriation; it
would, for me at least, be isolation as well, and, though I would bear
willingly with both, you would not. You think so now, perhaps, I do not
doubt”--and a phantom of a smile crossed her face--“and I thank you for
so thinking, but it may not be.”

Her hand fell to her side, and she turned listlessly away. “You must
forget me, Lenox--but not too soon, will you?”

“Never, sweetheart--never!”

“Ah, but you must. And I must learn to forget you. It will be
difficult. No one can be to me what you have been. You have been my
youth, Lenox; my girlhood has been yours. I have nothing left. Nothing
except regrets--regrets that youth should pass so quickly and that
girlhood comes but once.”

Her lips were tremulous, but she was trying to be brave.

“But surely, Maida, it cannot be that we are to part forever.
Afterwards--” the word was vague, but they both understood--“afterwards
I may see you. Such things often are. Because you feel yourself
compelled to this step, there is no reason why I, of all others, should
be shut out of your life.”

“It is the fact of your being the one of all others that makes the
shutting needful.”

“It shall not be.”

“Lenox,” she pleaded, “it is harder for me than for you.”

“But how can you ask me, how can you think that I will give you up? The
affair is wretched enough as it is, and now, by insisting that I am not
to see you again, you would make it even worse. People think it easy to
love, but it is not; I know nothing more difficult. You are the only
one for whom I have ever cared. It was not difficult to do so, I admit,
but the fact remains. I have loved you, I have loved you more and more
every day, and now, when I love you most, when I love you as I can
never love again, you find it the easiest matter in the world to come
to me and say, ‘It’s ended; _bon jour_.’”

“You are cruel, Lenox, you are cruel.”

“It is you that are cruel, and there the wonder is, for your cruelty is
unconscious, of your own free will you would not know how.”

“It is not that I am cruel, it is that I am trying to do right. And it
is for you to aid me. I have been true to you, do not ask me now to be
false to myself.”

If at that moment Mrs. Bunker Hill could have looked into the girl’s
face, her suspicions would have vanished into air. Maida needed only
a less fashionable gown to look like a mediæval saint; and before the
honesty that was in her eyes Lenox bowed his head.

“Will you help me?”

“I will,” he answered.

“I knew you would; you are too good to try to make me more miserable
than I am. And now, you must go; kiss me, it is the last time.”

He caught her in his arms and kissed her full upon the mouth. He kissed
her wet eyes, her cheeks, the splendor of her hair. And after a moment
of the acutest pain of all her life, the girl freed herself from his
embrace, and let him go without another word.



CHAPTER V.

A YELLOW ENVELOPE.


There is a peculiarity about Baden-Baden which no other watering-place
seems to share--it has the aroma of a pretty woman. In August it is
warm, crowded, enervating, tiresome as are all warm and crowded places,
but the air is delicately freighted and a pervasive fragrance is
discerned even by the indifferent.

In the summer that succeeded Maida’s marriage Baden was the same tame,
perfumed _zwei und funfzig_ that it has ever been since the war. The
ladies and gentlemen who were to regard it as a sort of continuation of
the Bois de Boulogne had departed never to return. Gone was Benazet,
gone, too, the click of the roulette ball. The echoes and uproars of
the Second Empire had died away, as echoes and uproars ever must, and
in place of the paint and cleverness of the _dames du-lac_ had come the
stupid loveliness of the _schwärmerisch Mädchen_.

But though Paris had turned her wicked back, the attitude of that
decadent capital in no wise affected other cities. On the particular
August to which allusion is made, interminable dinners were consumed
by contingents from the politest lands, and also from some that were
semi-barbaric.

In the Lichenthal Allée and on the promenade in front of the Kursaal
one could hear six languages in as many minutes, and given a
polyglottic ear the number could have been increased to ten. Among
those who added their little quota to this summer Babel were Mr. and
Mrs. Incoul.

The wedding had been very simple. Mrs. Barhyte had wished the ceremony
performed in Grace Church, and to the ceremony she had also wished that
all New York should be bidden. To her it represented a glory which in
the absence of envious witnesses would be lustreless indeed. But in
this respect her wishes were disregarded. On a melting morning in early
June, a handful of people, thirty at most, assembled in Mrs. Hildred’s
drawing-room. The grave service that is in usage among Episcopalians
was mumbled by a diligent bishop, there was a hurried and heavy
breakfast, and two hours later the bride and groom were on the deck of
the “Umbria.”

The entire affair had been conducted with the utmost dispatch. The
_Sunday Sun_ chronicled the engagement in one issue, and gave the date
of the wedding in the next. It was not so much that Harmon Incoul was
ardent in his wooing or that Miss Barhyte was anxious to assume the
rank and privileges that belong to the wedded state. The incentives
were other if equally prosaic. The ceremony if undergone needed to be
undergone at once. Summer was almost upon them, and in the code which
society has made for itself, summer weddings are reproved. There was
indeed some question of postponing the rites until autumn. But on that
Mrs. Barhyte put her foot. She was far from sure of her daughter,
and as for the other contracting party, who could tell but that he
might change his mind. Such changes had been, and instances of such
misconduct presented themselves unsummoned to the woman’s mind. The
fish had been landed almost without effort, a fish more desirable than
any other, a very prize among fishes, and the possibility that he might
slip away and without so much as a gill awry float off into clearer
and less troubled seas, nerved her to her task anew.

In the interview which she enjoyed with her prospective son-in-law
she was careful, however, to display no eagerness. She was sedate
when sedateness seemed necessary, but her usual attitude was one of
conciliatory disinterestedness. Her daughter’s choice she told him
had met with her fullest approval, and it was to her a matter of deep
regret that neither her husband nor her father--the late Chief Justice
Hildred, with whose name Mr. Incoul was of course familiar--that
neither of them had been spared to join in the expression of her
satisfaction. Of Maida it was unnecessary to speak, yet this at least
should be said, she was young and she was impressionable, as young
people are apt to be, but she had never given her mother cause for
the slightest vexation, not the slightest. “She is a sweet girl,”
Mrs. Barhyte went on to say, “and one with an admirable disposition;
she takes after her father in that, but she has her grandfather’s
intellect.”

“Her beauty, madam, comes from you.”

To this Mrs. Barhyte assented. “She is pretty,” she said, and then in
the voice of an actress who feels her rôle, “Do be good to her,” she
pleaded, “she is all I have.”

Mr. Incoul assured her that on that score she need give herself no
uneasiness, and a few days before the wedding, begged as a particular
favor to himself that after the ceremony she would take up her
residence in his house. The servants, he explained, had been instructed
in that respect, and a checkbook of the Chemical Bank would be handed
her in defrayment of all expenses. “And to think,” Mrs. Barhyte
muttered to herself, “to think that I might have died in Connecticut!”

The voyage over was precisely like any other. There were six days of
discomfort in the open, and between Queenstown and Liverpool unnumbered
hours of gloomy and irritating delay. Mrs. Incoul grew weary of the
captain’s cabin and her husband was not enthusiastic on the subject of
the quarters which the first officer had relinquished to him. But in
dear old London, as all good Americans are wont to call that delightful
city, Mrs. Incoul’s spirits revived. The difference between Claridge’s
and Rodick’s would have interested one far more apathetic than she,
and as she had never before set her foot on Piccadilly, and as Rotten
Row and Regent Circus were as unfamiliar to her as the banks of the
Yang-tse-Kiang, she had none of that satiated feeling of the _dejà-vu_
which besets the majority of us on our travels.

The notice of their arrival in the _Morning Post_ had been followed by
cards without limit and invitations without stint. An evening gazette
published an editorial a column in length, in which after an historical
review of wealth from Plutus to the Duke of Westminster, the reader
learned that the world had probably never seen a man so rich and yet
seemingly so unconscious of the power which riches give as was Harmon
Incoul, esq., of New York, U. S. A.

During the few weeks that were passed in London the bride and groom
were bidden to more crushes, dinners and garden parties than Maida
had attended during the entire course of her bud-hood. There was the
inevitable presentation and as the girl’s face was noticeably fair she
and her husband were made welcome at Marlborough House. Afterwards, yet
before the season drooped, there was a trip to Paris, a city, which,
after the splendors of London, seemed cheap and tawdry indeed, and then
as already noted came the villegiatura at Babel-Baden.

Meanwhile Maida had come and gone, eaten and fasted, danced and driven
in a constant chase after excitement. To her husband she had acted
as she might have done to some middle-aged cousin with whom she was
not precisely on that which is termed a familiar footing, one on whom
chance not choice had made her dependent, and to whom in consequence
much consideration was due. But her relations will be perhaps better
understood when it is related that she had not found herself physically
capable of calling him by his given name, or in fact anything else than
You. It was not that she disliked him, on the contrary, in many ways he
was highly sympathetic, but the well-springs of her affection had been
dried, and the season of their refreshment was yet obscure.

In the face of this half-hearted platonism Mr. Incoul had displayed a
wisdom which was peculiar to himself; he exacted none of those little
tributes which are conceded to be a husband’s due, and he allowed
himself none of the familiarities which are reported to be an appanage
of the married state. From the beginning he had determined to win his
wife by the exercise of that force which, given time and opportunity, a
strong nature invariably exerts over a weaker one. He was indulgent but
he was also austere. The ordering of one gown or of five hundred was
a matter of which he left her sole mistress. Had she so desired she
might have bought a jewelry shop one day and given it back as a free
gift on the morrow. But on a question of ethics he allowed no appeal.
The Countess of Ex, a lady of dishonor at a popular court, had, during
the London season, issued cards for a ball. On the evening on which it
was to take place the bride and groom had dined at one house, and gone
to a musicale at another. When leaving the latter entertainment Maida
told her husband to tell the man “Park Lane.” Mr. Incoul, however,
ordered the carriage to be driven to the hotel.

“Did you not understand me?” she asked. “I am going to the Countess of
Ex’s.”

“She is not a woman whom I care to have you know,” he replied.

“But the Prince is to be there!”

To this he assented. “Perhaps.” And then he added in a voice that
admitted of no further argument, “But not my wife.”

Maida sank back in the carriage startled by an unexperienced emotion.
For the first time since the wedding she could have kissed the man
whose name she bore. It was in this way that matters shaped themselves.

Soon after reaching Paris, Mr. Blydenburg called. He had brought his
daughter abroad because he did not know what else to do with her,
and now that he was on the Continent he did not know what to do with
himself. He explained these pre-occupations and Mr. Incoul suggested
that in the general exodus they should all go to Germany. To this
suggestion Blydenburg gave a ready assent and that very day purchased
a translation of Tacitus, a copy of Mr. Baring-Gould’s Germany, a
Baedeker, and a remote edition of Murray.

At the appointed date the little party started for Cologne, where,
after viewing a bone of the fabulous virgin Undecemilla, they drifted
to Frankfort and from there reached the Oos. In Baden, Blydenburg and
his daughter elected domicile at the Englischerhof, while through the
foresight of a courier, good-looking, polyglottic, idle and useful, the
Incouls found a spacious apartment in the Villa Wilhelmina, a belonging
of the Mesmer House.

In the drawer of the table which Maida selected as a suitable place for
superfluous rings was a yellow envelope addressed to the Gräfin von
Adelsburg. On the back was an attempt at addition, a double column of
figures which evidently represented the hotel expenses of the lady to
whom the envelope was addressed. The figures were marked carefully that
no mistake should be possible, but the sum total had been jotted down
in hurried numerals, as though the mathematician had been irritated at
the amount, while under all, in an indignant scrawl, was the legend “S.
T.”

Maida was the least inquisitive of mortals, but one evening, a week
or ten days after her arrival, when she happened to be sitting in
company with the Blydenburgs and her husband on the broad terrace that
fronts the Kursaal, she alluded, for the mere sake of conversation,
to the envelope which she had found. The Gräfin von Adelsburg it then
appeared was the name with which the Empress of a neighboring realm
was accustomed to veil her rank, and the legend it was suggested could
only stand for _schrechlich theuer_, frightfully dear. The Empress had
vacated the Villa Wilhelmina but a short time before and it seemed not
improbable that the figures and conclusion were in her own imperial
hand.

While this subject was under discussion the Prince of Albion sauntered
down the walk. He was a handsome man, with blue projecting eyes,
somewhat stout, perhaps, but not obese. In his train were two ladies
and a few men. As he was about to pass Mrs. Incoul he stopped and
raised his hat. It was of soft felt, she noticed, and his coat was
tailless. He uttered a few amiable commonplaces and then moved on.
The terrace had become very crowded. The little party had found seats
near the musicians, and from either side came a hum of voices. A Saxon
halted before them, designating with pointing finger the retreating
back of the Prince, his companion, a pinguid woman who looked as though
she lived on fish, shouted, “_Herr Jesus! ist es ja möglich_,” and
hurried on for a closer view. Near by was a group of Brazilians and
among them a pretty girl in a fantastic gown, whose voice was like the
murmur of birds. To the left were some Russians conversing in a hard,
cruel French. The girl seemed to have interested them. “But why,” asked
one, “but why is it that she wears such loud colors?” To which another,
presumably the wit of the party, answered idly, “Who knows, she may be
deaf.” And immediately behind Mrs. Incoul were two young Americans,
wonderfully well dressed, who were exchanging chaste anecdotes and
recalling recent adventures with an accompaniment of smothered
laughter that was fathomless in its good-fellowship.

Maida paid no attention to the conversation about her. She was thinking
of the yellow envelope, and for the first time she began to form some
conception of her husband’s wealth. Apparently he thought nothing
of prices that seemed exorbitant to one whose coffers notoriously
overflowed. She had never spoken to him about money, nor he to her;
she knew merely that his purse was open; yet, as is usual with one who
has been obliged to count the pennies, she had in her recent shopping
often hesitated and refused to buy. In Paris she had chaffered over
handkerchiefs and been alarmed at Doucet’s bill. Indeed at Virot’s when
she told that poetic milliner what she wished to pay for a bonnet,
Virot, smiling almost with condescension, had said to her, “The
_chapeau_ that madame wants is surely a _chapeau en Espagne_.”

And now for the first time she began to understand. She saw how much
was hers, how ungrudgingly it was given, how easy her path was made,
how pleasant it might be for the rest of her days, and she half-turned
and looked at her husband. If she could only forget, she thought, only
forget and begin anew. If she could but tell him all! She moaned to
herself. The moon was shining behind the Kursaal and in the air was
the usual caress. The musicians, who had just attacked and subdued the
Meistersänger, began a sob of Weber’s that had been strangled into a
waltz, and as the measures flowed they brought her that pacification
which music alone can bring.

The past was over and done, ill-done, she knew, but above it might
grow such weeds of forgetfulness as would hide it even from herself.
In a semi-unconsciousness of her surroundings she stared like a pretty
sphinx into the future. The waltz swooned in its ultimate accords, but
she had ceased to hear; it had lulled and left her; her thoughts roamed
far off into distant possibilities; she was dreaming with eyes wide
open.

Abruptly the orchestra attacked a score that was seasoned with red
pepper--the can-can of an opéra-bouffe: the notes exploded like fire
crackers, and in the explosion brought vistas of silk stockings,
whirlwinds of disordered skirts, the heat and frenzy of an orgy. And
then, as the riot mounted like a flame, suddenly in a clash and shudder
of brass the uproar ceased.

Maida, aroused from her revery by the indecency of the music, looked
idly about her. The Russians were drinking beer that was as saffron as
their own faces. The Brazilians had departed. The young Americans were
smoking Bond street cigarettes which they believed to be Egyptian, and
discussing the relative merits of Hills and Poole.

“While I was getting measured for that top coat you liked so much,”
said one, “Leigh came in.”

“Lee? What Lee? Sumpter?”

“No; Lenox Leigh.”

“Did he, though? How was he?”

“Finest form. Said he would take in Paris and Baden. He may be here now
for all I know. Let’s ask the waiter for a Fremden-List.”

Maida had heard, and with the hearing there had come to her an
enveloping dread. She felt that, did she see him, the love which she
had tried to banish would return unfettered from its exile. Strength
was not yet hers; with time, she knew, she could have sworn it would
come; but, for the moment, she was helpless, and into the dread a
longing mingled. At once, as though in search of a protection that
should guard her against herself, she turned to her husband. To him,
the Russians, Brazilians, and other gentry had been part of the
landscape. He had little taste for music, and Blydenburg had bored him
as that amiable gentleman was accustomed to bore every one with whom he
conversed, yet, nevertheless, through that spirit of paradox which is
common to us all, Mr. Incoul liked the man, and for old association’s
sake took to the boredom in a kindlier fashion than had it come from a
newer and more vivacious acquaintance. Blydenburg had been explaining
the value of recent excavations in Tirynth, a subject which Mr. Incoul
understood better than the informist, but he noticed Maida’s movement
and stopped short.

“Come, Milly,” he said to his daughter, “let’s be going.”

Milly had sat by his side the entire evening, in stealthy enjoyment
of secular music, performed for the first time in her hearing on the
Lord’s day. She was a pale, freckled girl, with hair of the shade of
Bavarian beer. She was not beautiful, but then she was good--a sort of
angel bound in calf.

When Milly and her father had disappeared, Maida turned to her husband
again. “Do you mind leaving Baden?” she asked.

Mr. Incoul eyed her a moment. “Why?” he asked. He had a trick of
answering one question with another, yet for the moment she wondered
whether he too had heard the conversation behind them, and then
comforted by the thought that in any case the name of Lenox Leigh could
convey but little to him, she shrugged her shoulders. “Oh, I don’t
know,” she said; “I don’t like it; it’s hot and crowded. I think I
would like the seashore better.”

“Very good,” he answered; “whatever you prefer. I will speak to Karl
to-night.” (Karl was the courier.) “I don’t suppose,” he added,
reflectively, “that you would care for Trouville--I know I should not.”

He had risen, and Maida, who had risen with him, was looking down at
the gravel, which she toyed nervously with her foot. The opera that
had been given that evening was evidently over. A stream of people
were coming from the direction of the theatre, and among them was the
Prince. He was chatting with his companions, but his trained eye had
marked Mrs. Incoul, and when he reached the place where she stood he
stopped again.

“You didn’t go in to-night,” he said, collectively. “It was rather
good, too.” And then, without waiting for an answer, he continued:
“Won’t you both dine with us to-morrow?”

“Oh, we can’t,” Maida answered. She was tormented with the thought that
at any moment Lenox might appear. “We can’t; we are going away.”

The Prince smiled in his brown beard. Americans were popular with him.
He liked their freedom. There was, he knew, barely one woman in Baden,
not utterly bedridden, who would have taken his invitation so lightly.
“I am sorry,” he said, and he spoke sincerely. Like any other sensible
man, he liked beauty and he liked it near him. He knew that Mrs. Incoul
had been recently married, and in his own sagacious way, _il posait des
jalons_. “You are to be at Ballaster in the autumn, I hear.” Ballaster
was a commodious shooting-box in Scotland, the possession of an
hospitable peer.

“Yes, I believe we are,” Maida answered.

“I hope to see you there,” and with these historic words, Prince
Charming departed.



CHAPTER VI.

BIARRITZ


After a frühstück of coffee and honey, to which the inn-keeper, out of
compliment to the nationality of his guest, had added an ear of green
corn--a combination, be it said, that no one but a German could have
imagined--Mr. Incoul went in search of his friend.

He had questioned Karl, and the courier had spoken of Ostend with such
enthusiasm that his employer suspected him of some personal interest
in the place and struck it at once from the list of possible resorts
which he had been devising. On the subject of other _bains de mer_ the
man was less communicative. There was, he said, nothing attractive
about Travemunde, except the name; Scheveningen was apt to be chilly;
Trouville he rather favored, but to his thinking Ostend was preferable.

When the courier had gone Mr. Incoul ran his eye down a mental map
of the coast of France, and just as it reached the Spanish frontier
he remembered that some one in his hearing had recently sounded the
attractions of Biarritz. On that seaboard he ultimately decided, and
it was with the idea that Blydenburg might go further and fare worse
that he sought his friend and suggested the advantages of a trip to the
Basque country.

Mr. Blydenburg had few objections to make. He had taken very kindly
to the consumption of beer, but beer had not agreed with him, and he
admitted, did he stay in Baden, that, in spite of the ill effects,
he would still be unable to resist the allurements of that insidious
beverage. “Act like a man, then,” said Mr. Incoul, encouragingly; “act
like a man and flee from it.”

There was no gainsaying the value of this advice, but between its
adoption and a journey to Biarritz the margin was wide. “It is
true,” he said, reflectively, “I could study the language at the
fountain-head.” (Mr. Blydenburg, it may be explained, was a gentleman
who plumed himself on his familiarity with recondite tongues, but one
whose knowledge of the languages that are current in polite society was
such as is gleaned from the appendices of guide-books.)

Mr. Incoul nodded approvingly, “Certainly there would be no difficulty
about that.”

Blydenburg looked at him musingly for a moment and nodded, too. “The
name Biarritz,” he said, “comes, I am inclined to believe, from bi
haritz--two oaks. Minucius thinks that it comes from bi harri--two
rocks; but I have detected Minucius in certain errors which has made me
wary of accepting his opinion. For instance, he claims that the Basques
are descendants of the Phœnicians. Nothing could be more preposterous.
They are purely Iberian, and probably the most ancient race in Europe.
Why, you would be surprised”--

Mr. Incoul interrupted him cruelly--“I often am,” he said; “now tell
me, will you be ready this afternoon?”

“The laundress has just taken my things.”

“Send after them, then. I make no doubt that there you can find another
on the Bay of Biscay.”

“I wonder what Biscay comes from? bi scai, two currents, perhaps. Yes,
of course, I will be ready.” And as his friend moved away, he pursed
his lips abstractedly and made a note of the derivation.

A courier aiding, the journey from Baden to Biarritz can be accomplished
without loss of life or reason. It partakes something of the character
of a zigzag, the connections are seldom convenient, the wayside inns are
not of the best, but if people go abroad to be uncomfortable, what more
can the heart desire? The Incoul-Blydenburg party, impeded by Karl, a
body-servant, and two maids, received their allotted share of discomfort
with the very best grace in the world. They reached Bayonne after five
days, not, it is true, of consecutive motion, but of such consecutive
heat that they were glad to descend at the station of that excitable
little city and in the fresh night air drive in open carriages over the
few kilometres that remained to be traversed.

It was many hours before the journey was sufficiently a part of the
past to enable the travelers to look about them, but on the evening
succeeding their arrival, after a dinner on the verandah of the
Continental, they sat with much contentment of spirit enjoying the
intermittent showers of summer stars and the boom and rustle of the
waves. Baden was unregretted. To the left, high above, on the summit of
a projecting eminence, the white and illuminated Casino glittered like
an ærian palace. To the right was the gardened quadrangle of the former
Empress of the French, in the air was the scent of seaweed and before
them the Infinite.

“It’s quite good enough for me,” Blydenburg confided to his companions,
and the confidence in its inelegant terseness conveyed the sentiments
of them all.

A week passed without bringing with it any incident worthy of record.
In the mornings they met at the Moorish Pavilion which stands on the
shore and there lounged or bathed. Maida’s beauty necessarily attracted
much attention, and when she issued in a floating wrapper from the
sedan-chair in which she allowed herself to be carried from the
Pavilion to the sea, a number of amateurs who stood each day just out
of reach of the waves, expressed their admiration in winning gutturals.

She was, assuredly, very beautiful, particularly so in comparison with
the powdered sallowness of the ladies from Spain, and when, with a
breezy gesture of her own, she tossed her wrap to the bather and with
sandaled feet and a white and clinging costume of serge she stepped to
the water there was one on-looker who bethought him of a nymph of the
Ægean Sea. She was a good swimmer, as the American girl often is, and
she breasted and dived through the wonderful waves with an intrepidity
such as the accompanying _baigneur_ had been rarely called upon to
restrain.

From the shade of beach chairs, large and covered like wicker tents,
her husband and the Blydenburgs would watch her prowess, and when,
after a final ride on the crest of some great billow, she would be
tossed breathless and deliciously disheveled into the steadying arms of
the bather, the amateurs were almost tempted to applaud.

In the afternoons there were drives and excursions. One day to Bayonne
along the white, hard road that skirts the Chambre d’Amour, through the
peace and quiet of Aiglet and on through kilometres of pines to the
Adour, a river so beautiful in itself that all the ingenuity of man has
been unable to make it wholly hideous, and thence by its banks to the
outlying gardens of the city.

On other days they would loiter on the cliffs that overhang the Côte
des Basques, or push on to Bidart, a chromatic village where the
inhabitants are so silent that one might fancy them enchanted by the
mellow marvels of their afternoons.

But of all other places Maida preferred Saint Jean-de-Luz. It lies
near the frontier on a bay of the tenderest blue, and for background
it has the hazy amethyst of the neighborly Pyrenees. The houses are
rainbows of blended colors; from the open door-ways the passer, now and
then, catches a whiff of rancid oil, the smell of victuals cooked in
fat, from a mouldering square a cathedral casts an unexpected chill,
but otherwise the town is charming, warm and very bright. On the shore
stands an inn and next to it a toy casino.

To this exotic resort the little party drove one afternoon. It had been
originally arranged to pass the day there, but on the day for which the
excursion was planned, a _Course Landaise_ was announced at Biarritz,
and it was then decided that they should first view the _course_ and
dine afterwards at Saint Jean. At first both Maida and Miss Blydenburg
refused to attend the performance and it was not until they were
assured that it was a bull-fight for ladies in which there was no
shedding of blood that they consented to be present. The spectacle
which they then witnessed was voted most agreeable. The bulls, which
turned out to be heifers, very lithe and excitable, were housed
in boxed stalls, which bore their respective names: Isabel, Rosa,
Paquita, Adelaide, Carlota and Sofia. The ring itself was an improvised
arrangement constructed in a great racquet court. The spectators,
according to their means, found seats on either side, the poorer in
the sun and the more wealthy in the shaded Tribune d’Honneur. After a
premonitory blare from municipal brass the quadrille entered the arena.
They were a good-looking set of men, more plainly dressed than their
bloodier brothers of Spain, and very agile. Two of them carrying long
poles stationed themselves at the sides, one, armed with a barb laid
himself down a few feet from Isabel’s door, and a fourth threw his soft
hat in the middle of the ring, put his feet in it and stood expectant.
In a moment a latch was drawn, Isabel leaped from her stall, bounded
over the prostrate form that pricked her on her way and made a straight
rush for the motionless figure in the centre of the ring. When she
reached him he was in the air and over her with his feet still in the
hat. Isabel was bewildered, instead of goring a man she had run her
horns into empty space and in her annoyance she turned viciously at one
of the pole-bearing gentlemen who vaulted over her as easily as were
he crossing a gutter, but in vaulting the pole slipped from him, and
amid the applause of the audience Isabel chased him across the ring to
a high fence opposite, and to which he rose like a bird with Isabel’s
horns on his heels. There was more of this amusement, and then Isabel,
a trifle tired, was lured back to her box; Rosa was loosed and the
performance repeated.

The escapes seemed so hairbreadth that Mr. Blydenburg announced his
intention of witnessing a genuine bull fight, and on the way to Saint
Jean urged his companions to accompany him over the border and view
the real article. “There is one announced for next Sunday,” he said,
“at San Sebastian, a stone’s throw from here.” The appetite of all
had been whetted, and during the rest of the drive, Mr. Blydenburg
discoursed on the subject with such learning and enthusiasm that even
his daughter consented to forget her Sabbath principles and make one of
the projected party.

When the meal was done, they went into the toy Casino. There was a
band playing at one end of the hall, the which was so narrow that
the director had been obliged to select thin musicians, and beyond
was a paperless reading-room, a vague café, a dwarf theatre, and a
salle-de-jeu in white and gamboge. In the latter division, where the
high life of Saint Jean had assembled, stood a table that resembled
a roulette. In its centre were miniature revolving bulls, which
immediately attracted Mr. Blydenburg’s attention, and on the green
baize were painted the names of cities.

“Banderilla! Ruego! Sevilla!” the croupier called, as the party
entered. In one hand he held a rake, with which he possessed himself of
the stakes of those who had lost, and with the other hand he tossed out
coin to those who had won. The machinery was again set in motion, and
when the impulse had ceased to act he called out anew, “Espada! Nero!
Madrid!”

Mr. Blydenburg was thoroughly interested. In the residue of twenty-five
French lessons, which he had learned in his boyhood from a German, he
made bold to demand information.

“It’s the neatest game in the world,” the croupier replied; “six
for one on the cities, even on the colors, even on banderilla or
espada, and twenty for one on Frascuelo.” And, as he gave the latter
information, he pointed to a little figure armed with a sword, which
was supposed to represent that famous matador. “The minimum,” he added,
obligingly, “is fifty centimes; the maximum, forty sous.”

“I’ll go Frascuelo,” said Blydenburg, and suiting the action to the
word, he placed a coin on the table. Maida, meanwhile, had put money
on everything--cities, colors, banderilla, espada, and Frascuelo as
well. To the surprise of every one, but most to that of the croupier,
Frascuelo won. Maida saw twenty francs swept from her and forty
returned. Blydenburg, who had played a closer game, received forty
also, but he lost nothing, and he beamed as joyously as had the
University of Copenhagen crowned an essay of his own manufacture.

It was by means of these mild amusements that the first week of their
sojourn was helped away. Through the kindness of an international
acquaintance, Mr. Incoul had been made welcome at the Cercle de
Biarritz, and in that charming summer club, where there is much high
play and perfect informality, he had become acquainted with a Spaniard,
the Marquis of Zunzarraga.

One day when the latter gentleman had wearied of the columns of the
_Epoca_ and Mr. Incoul, and sought in vain for some refreshment from
_Galignani_, they drew their chairs together and exchanged cigarettes.

In answer to the question which is addressed to every new-comer, Mr.
Incoul expressed himself pleased with the country, adding that were
not hotel life always distasteful he would be glad to remain on
indefinitely.

“You might take a villa,” the marquis suggested. To this Mr. Incoul
made no reply. The nobleman fluttered his fingers a moment and then
said, “take mine, you can have it, servants and all.”

The Villa Zunzarraga was near the hotel and its airy architecture had
already attracted Mr. Incoul’s eye. It was a modern improvement on a
feudal château, there were turreted wings in which the machicoulis were
replaced by astragals and a broad and double stairway of marble led up
to the main entrance.

“If you have nothing better to do to-day,” the marquis continued, “go
in and take a look at it. I have never rented it before, but this
summer the marquesa is with the queen, my mistress, and I would be glad
to have it off my hands.”

After consulting Maida in regard to her wishes, Mr. Incoul determined
to act on the suggestion, and that afternoon they went together to view
the villa. In its appointments there was little fault to be found.
There was no vestibule, unless, indeed, the entrance hall, which was
large enough to accommodate a small cotillon, could be so considered;
on the right were reception-rooms, to the left a dining-room, all
facing the sea, while at the rear, overlooking a quiet garden that
seemed to extend indefinitely and lose itself in the lilac fringes of
the tamaris, was a library. On the floor above were bed and sitting
rooms. In one wing were the offices, kitchen and servants’ quarters, in
another was the coach-house and stables.

Under the guidance of the host, Mr. Incoul went to explore the place,
while Maida remained in the library. It was a satisfactory room, lined
on three sides with low, well-filled book-cases, the windows were
doors and extended nearly to the ceiling, but the light fell through
pink awnings under which was a verandah, with steps that led to the
garden below. From the walls hung selections of Goya’s Proverbios and
Tauromaquia, a series of nightmares in black and white. Among them was
a picture of a lake of blood haunted by evil spirits; a vertiginous
flight of phantoms more horrible than any Doré ever saw; a reunion of
sorcerers with cats for steeds; women tearing teeth from the mouths of
the gibbeted; a confusion of demons and incubes; a disordered dance
of delirious manolas; caricatures that held the soul of Hoffmann;
the disembowelment of fantastic chulos; horses tossed by bulls with
chimerical horns; but best of all, a skeleton leaning with a leer from
the tomb and scrawling on it the significant legend, _Nada_, nothing.

In one corner, on a pedestal, there glittered a Buddha, the legs
crossed and a smile of indolent apathy on its imbecile features. Behind
it was a giant crucifix with arms outstretched like the wings of woe.

Maida wandered from book-case to book-case, examining the contents
with incurious eye. The titles were strange to her and new. In one
division were the works of Archilaus, Albert le Grand, Raymond Lulle,
Armand de Villenova, Nostradamus, and Paracelsus, the masters of occult
science. Another was given up to Spanish literature. There were the
poems of Berceo, the romancero of the church; the codex of Alphonso X.,
the Justinian of mediæval Spain; El Tesoro, a work on alchemy by the
same royal hand and the Conquista d’ultramar. There was the Libro de
consejos, by Sanchez IV.; and Bicerro, the armorial of the nobility,
by his son, Alphonso XI. Therewith was a collection of verse of the
troubadours, the songs of Aimeric de Bellinsi, Foulque de Lunel,
Carbonel, Nat de Tours, and Riquier, the last of the knight-errants.
Then came the poems of Juan de Mena, the Dante of Castille; the
Rabelaisian relaxations of the Archbishop of Hita; the cancionero of
Ausias March, that of Baena, of Stuñiga, and that of Ixar.

Another book-case was filled with the French poets, from Villon to
Soulary. The editions were delicious, a pleasure to hold, and many of
them bore the imprint of Lemerre. Among them was the Fleurs du Mal, an
unexpurgated copy, and by it were the poems of Baudelaire’s decadent
descendants, Paul Verlaine and Mallarmé.

There were other book-cases, and of these there was one of which the
door was locked. In it were Justine and Juliette, by the Marquis de
Sade; the works of Piron; the works of Beroalde de Verville; a copy
of Mercius; a copy of Thérèse Philosophe; the De Arcanis Amoris;
Mirabeau’s Rideau levé; Gamaini, by Alfred de Musset and George Sand;
Boccaccio; the Heptameron; Paphian Days; Crébillon’s Sopha; the
Erotika Biblion; the Satyricon of Petronius; an illustrated catalogue
of the Naples Museum; Voltaire’s Pucelle; a work or two of Diderot’s;
Maiseroy’s Deux Amies; the Clouds; the Curée; everything, in fact, from
Aristophanes to Zola.

The collection was meaningless to Maida, and she turned aside and
went out on the verandah. Below, on the gravel walk, was a cat with
a tail like a banner, and a neck furred like a ruff. Maida crumpled a
bit of paper and threw it down. The cat jumped at it at once, toyed
with it for a moment, and then, sliding backwards with a crab-like
movement, its back arched, and its ears drawn down, it caught a glimpse
of Maida’s unfamiliar figure, and fled to the bushes with a shriek of
feigned terror. A servant passed, and ignorant of Maida’s presence,
apostrophized the retreating feline as a loafer and a liar.

A moment later Mr. Incoul and the marquis reappeared.

“I have been admiring your Angora,” Maida said, “but I fear I startled
it.”

The marquis rubbed his hands together thoughtfully. “It is a wonderful
animal,” he answered, “but it is not an Angora, it is a Thibetian cat,
and though it does not talk, at least it converses. It is so odd in its
ways that I called it Mistigris, as one might a familiar spirit, but
my children prefer Ti-Mi; they think it more Thibetian, I fancy.” He
coughed slightly and looking at the points of his fingers, he added, “I
will leave it with you of course.”

And then Maida understood that the matter was settled and that the
house was hers.



CHAPTER VII.

WHAT MAY BE SEEN FROM A PALCO.


The installation was accomplished without difficulty. The marquis
migrated to other shores and it took Maida but a short time to
discover the pleasures of being luxuriously housed. The apartment
which she selected for herself was composed of four rooms; there was a
sitting-room in an angle with windows overlooking the sea and others
that gave on a quiet street which skirted one wing of the villa. Next
to it was a bed-room also overlooking the street, while back of that,
on the garden side, was a bath and a dressing-room. A wide hall that
was like a haunt of echoes separated these rooms from those of her
husband.

Through the street, which was too steep to be much of a thoroughfare,
there came each morning the clinging strain of a pastoral melody, and
a pipe-playing goat-herd would pass leading his black, long-haired
flock to the doors of those who bought the milk. When he had gone the
silence was stirred by another sound, a call that rose and fell with
exquisite sweetness and died away in infinite vibrations: it came from
a little old woman, toothless and bent, who, with summer in her voice,
hawked crisp gold bread of crescent shape, vaunting its delicacy in
birdlike trills. There were other venders who announced their wares in
similar ways, and one, a fisher, chaunted a low and mournful measure
which he must have caught from the sea.

It was pleasant to be waked in this wise, Maida thought, and as she lay
in her great bed of odorous wood, she listened to the calls, and when
they had passed, the boom and retreating rustle of the waves occupied
and lulled her. In such moments the thoughts that visited her were
impermanent and fleeting. She made no effort to stay them, preferring
the vague to the outlined, watching the changes and transformations
of fancy as though her soul and she were separate, as were her mind a
landscape, some

                            Paysage choisi,
    Que vont charmant masques et bergamasques
    Jouant du luth et dansant et quasi
    Tristes sous leurs déguisements fantasques.

The room was an accomplice of her languor. The windows were curtained
with filmy yellow. Before them were miniature balconies filled with
flowers, and as the sun rose the light filtered through flesh-colored
awnings striated with ochre. The floor was a mosaic of variegated and
lacquered wood. On either side of the bed were silk rugs, sea green and
pink, seductive to the foot; the ceiling was a summer sky at dawn, a
fresco in cinnabar and smalt.

The Blydenburgs, less luxuriously inclined, remained at the hotel.
Mr. Blydenburg had not as yet enjoyed an opportunity of conversing in
Basque; he had indeed attempted to address a mildewed little girl whom
he encountered one day when loitering on the cliffs, but the child had
taken flight, and a mule that was pasturing on a bramble, threw back
its ears, elongated its tail and curving its lips, brayed with such
anguish that Mr. Blydenburg was fain to delay his studies until fortune
offered a more favorable opportunity.

It was at San Sebastian, he thought, that such an opportunity would be
found ready made, and on the morning of the projected excursion he was
in great and expectant spirits.

The morning itself was one of those delicious forenoons that reminded
one of Veronese. In the air was a caress and in the breeze an
exhilaration and a tonic. In the streets and about the squares there
was an unusual liveliness, much loud talking, a great many oaths, and
the irritation and excitement which is the prelude to a festival. The
entire summer colony seemed to be on its way to Spain.

In the court-yard of the Villa Zunzarraga four horses harnessed to a
landau stood in readiness. On the box the driver glistened with smart
buttons and silver braid. His coat was short, his culottes were white,
his waistcoat red, and he had made himself operatic with the galloons
and trappings of an eighteenth-century postilion. It was not every day
in the year that he drove to a corrida. By way of preparation for the
coming spectacle, Karl, who stood at the carriage door, had already
engaged a palco.

When Blydenburg and Milly arrived, and the party had entered the
landau, there was a brisk drive through the town and a long sweep down
the Route d’Espagne than which even the Corniche is not more lovely.
The vaporous Pyrenees seemed near enough to be in reach of the hand,
the elms that lined the roadside were monstrous, like the elms in a
Druid forest, the fields were as green as had they been painted. There
were pink villas with blinds of pale yellow, white houses roofed with
tiles of mottled red, gardens splendid with the scent of honeysuckle,
and children, bright-eyed, clear-featured, devoured by vermin and
greed, ran out in a bold, aggressive way and called for coin.

“_Estamos en España!_” The carriage had come to a sudden halt. In the
beauties of the landscape the journey had been forgotten. But at the
driver’s word there came to each of them that sudden thrill which
visits every one that crosses a new frontier. Blydenburg looked eagerly
about him. He had expected to be greeted by alcaldes and alguacils, he
had fancied that he would view a jota, or at the very least a roadside
bolero. “Are we really in Spain?” he wondered. In places of ladies in
mantillas and short skirts there was a group of mangy laborers, the
alcaldes and alguacils were represented by a sullen aduenaro, and the
only trace of local color was in a muttered “_Coño de Dios_” that came
wearily from a bystander. Certainly they were in Spain.

The custom-house officer made a motion, and the carriage swept on. To
the left was Fuenterrabia, dozing on its gulf of blue, and soon they
were in Irun. There was another halt for lunch and a change of horses,
and then, on again. The scenery grew wilder, and the carriage jolted,
for the road was poor. They passed the Jayzquibel, the Gaïnchurisqueta,
the hamlet of Lezo, Passaje, from whence Lafayette set sail; Renteria,
a city outside of the year of our Lord; they crossed the Oyarzun, they
passed Alza, another stream was bridged and at last the circus hove in
sight.

The bull-ring of San Sebastian is sufficiently vast for a battalion
to manœuvre in at its ease. It is circled by a barrier some five feet
high, back of which is another and a higher one. Between the two is
a narrow passage. Above the higher barrier rise the tendidos--the
stone benches of the amphitheatre--slanting upwards until they reach
a gallery, in which are the gradas--the wooden benches--and directly
over these, on the flooring above, are the palcos or boxes. Each box
holds twenty people. They are all alike save that of the President’s,
which is larger, decorated with hangings and furnished with chairs, the
other boxes having only seats of board. Under the President’s box, and
beneath the tendidos, is the toril from which the bulls are loosed.
Opposite, across the arena, is the matedero, the gateway through which
the horses enter and the dead are dragged out. In the passage between
the two barriers are stationed the “supes,” who cover up the blood,
unsaddle dead horses, and attend to other matters of a similar and
agreeable nature. There, too, the carpenters stand ready to repair any
injury to the woodwork, and among them is a man in black, who at times
issues furtively and gives a _coup de grace_ to a writhing beast. There
also are usually a few privileged amateurs who seek that vantage ground
much as the dilettanti seek the side scenes of the theatre.

These arrangements, which it takes a paragraph to describe, are
absorbed at a glance, but with that glance there comes an aftershock--a
riot of color that would take a library to convey. For the moment the
eye is dazzled; a myriad of multicolored fans are fluttering like
fabulous butterflies; there are unimagined combinations of insolent
hues; a multitude of rainbows oscillating in a deluge of light. And
while the eye is dazzled the ear is bewildered, the pulse is stirred.
The excitement of ten thousand people is contagious; the uproar is
as deafening as the thunder of cannon. And then, at once, almost
without transition, a silence. The President has come, and the most
magnificent of modern spectacles is about to begin.

Almost simultaneously with the appearance of the chief magistrate of
the town, the Incouls and Blydenburgs entered their box. There was
a blast from a trumpet and an official in the costume known as that
of Henri IV. issued on horseback from the matedero. The ring which a
moment before had been peopled with amateurs was emptied in a trice.
The principal actor, the espada, Mazzantini, escorted by his cuadrilla
and followed by the picadors, advanced to the centre of the arena and
there amid an explosion of bravos, bowed with a grace like that which
Talma must have possessed, first to the President, who raised his high
hat in return, and then in circular wise to the spectators.

He was young and exceedingly handsome, blue of eye and clear-featured;
he smiled in the contented way of one who is sure of his own powers,
and the applause redoubled. The Basques have made a national idol of
him, for by birth he is one of them and very popular in Guipuzcoa.
He was dressed after the fashion of Figaro in the “Barbiere,” his
knee breeches were of vermilion silk seamed with a broad spangle, his
stockings were of flesh color, he wore a short, close-fitting jacket,
richly embroidered; the vest was very low but gorgeous with designs;
about his waist was a scarlet sash; his shoulders were heavy with
gold and on his head was a black pomponed turban, the torero variety
of the Tam O’Shanter. His costume had been imitated by the chulos and
banderilleros. Nothing more seductive could be imagined. They were all
of them slight, lithe and agile, and behind them the picadors in the
Moorish splendor of their dress looked like giants on horseback.

The President dropped from his box the key of the toril. The alguacil
is supposed to catch it in his hat, but in this instance he muffed
it; it was picked up by another; the alguacil fled from the ring, the
picadors stationed themselves lance in hand at equal distances about
the barrier, the chulos prepared their mantles, there was a ringing
fanfare, the doors of the toril flew open, and a black monster with the
colors of his _ganaderia_ fastened to his neck shot into the arena.

If he hesitated no one knew it. There was a confused mass of horse,
bull and man, he was away again, another picador was down, and then
attracted by the waving cloak of a chulo he turned and chased it
across the ring. The chulo was over the fence in a second, and the
bull rose like a greyhound and crossed it, too. Truly a magnificent
beast. The supes and amateurs were in the ring in an instant and back
again when the bull had passed. A door was opened, and surging again
into the ring he swept like an avalanche on a picador, and raising him
horse and all into the air flung him down as it seemed into the very
pits of death. The picador was under the horse and the bull’s horns
were seeking him, but the brute reckoned without the espada. Mazzantini
had caught him by the tail, which he twisted in such exquisite fashion
that he was fain to turn, and as he turned the espada turned with
him. The chulos meanwhile raised the picador over the barrier, for
his legs and loins were so heavy with iron that once down he could
not rise unassisted. Across the arena a horse lay quivering in a bath
of gore, his feet entangled in his entrails, and another, unmounted,
staggered along dyeing the sand with zigzags of the blood that spouted,
fountain-like, from his breast. And over all was the tender blue of the
sky of Spain.

When Mazzantini loosed his hold, he stood a moment, folded his arms,
gave the bull a glance of contempt, turned on his heel and sauntered
away. The applause was such as no _cabotin_ has ever received. It was
the delirious plaudits of ten thousand people drunk with the sun,
with excitement--intoxicated with blood. Mazzantini bowed as calmly
as were he a tenor, whose _ut de poitrine_ had found appreciation in
the stalls. And while the applause still lasted, the bull caught the
staggering, blindfolded, unprotected horse and tossed him sheer over
the barrier, and would have jumped after him had he not perceived a
fourth picador ambling cautiously with pointed lance. At him he made
a fresh rush, but the picador’s lance was in his neck and held him
away. He broke loose, however, and with an under lunge disemboweled the
shuddering horse.

There was another blast of the trumpets, the signal for the
banderilleros whose office it is to plant barbs in the neck of the
bull--a delicate operation, for the banderillero must face the bull,
and should he trip he is dead. This ceremony is seldom performed until
the bull shows signs of weariness; then the barbs act like a tonic. In
this instance the bull seemed as fresh as were he on his native heath,
and the spectators were clamorous in their indignation. They called
for more horses; they accused the management of economy; men stood up
and shook their fists at the President; it was for him to order out
fresh steeds, and, as he sat impassible, _pollice verso_, as one may
say, they shouted “_Fuego al presidente, perro de presidente_”--dog of
a president; set him on fire. And there were cat-calls and the screech
of tin horns, and resounding and noisy insults, until the general
attention was diverted by the pose of the banderillas and the leaping
and kicking of the bull, seeking to free his neck from the torturing
barbs. At last, when he had been punctured eight times, he sought the
centre of the ring, and stood there almost motionless, his tufted tail
swaying nervously, his tongue lolling from his mouth, a mist of vapor
circling from his nostrils, seething about his splendid horns and
wrinkled neck, and in his great eyes a look of wonder, as though amazed
that men could be crueler than he.

Again the trumpets sounded. Mazzantini, with a sword concealed in
a muleta of bright scarlet silk, and accompanied by the chulos,
approached him. The chulos flaunted their vivid cloaks, and when the
bull, roused by the hated colors to new indignation, turned to chase
them, they slipped aside and in the centre of the ring stood a young
man dressed as airily as a dancer in a ballet, in a costume that a pin
would have perforated, and before him a maddened and a gigantic brute.

In a second the bull was on him, but in that second a tongue of steel
leaped from the muleta, glittered like a silver flash in the air, and
straight over the lowered horns it swept and then cleaved down through
the parting flesh and touched the spring of life. At the very feet of
the espada the bull fell; he had not lost a drop of blood; it was the
supreme expression of tauromaquia, the recognition that skill works
from force.

And then the applause! There was a whirl of hats and cigars and
cigarettes, and had San Sabastian been richer there would have been a
shower of coin. Women kissed their hands and men held out their arms
to embrace him. It was the delirium of appreciation. And Mazzantini
saluted and bowed and smiled. He was quite at home, and calmer and more
tranquil than any spectator. Suddenly there was a rush of caparisoned
mules, ropes were attached to the dead horses, the bull was dragged
out, the blood was concealed with sand, the toilet of the ring was
made, the trumpets sounded and the last act of the first of the
wonderful cycle of dramas was done.

There were five more bulls to be killed that day, but with their
killing the action with which these pages have to deal need not be
further delayed. From the box in the sombra Mr. Incoul had watched the
spectacle with unemotional curiosity. Blydenburg, who had fortified
himself with the contents of a pocket flask, manifested his earliest
delight by shouting Bravo, but with such a disregard of the first
syllable, and such an explosion of the second, that Mr. Incoul
mistaking the applause for an imitation of the bark of a dog had at
last begged him to desist.

The adjoining box was crowded, and among the occupants was a delicious
young girl, with the Orient in her eyes, and lips that said Drink me.
To her the spectacle was evidently one of alluring pathos. “_Pobre
caballo_,” she would murmur when a horse fell, and then with her fan
she would hide the bridge of her nose as though that were her organ
of vision. But no matter how high the fan might be raised she always
managed to see, and with the seeing there came from her compassionate
little noises, a mingling of “_ay_” and “_Dios mio_,” that was most
agreeable to listen to. Miss Blydenburg, who sat so near her that she
might have touched her elbow, took these little noises for signals and
according to their rise and fall learned when and when not to look down
into the terrible ring below.

In the momentary intermission that occurred after the duel between the
espada and the first bull, a mozo, guided by Karl, appeared in the box
bearing with him cool liquids from the caverns beneath. Blydenburg,
whose throat was parched with brandy and the strain of his incessant
shouts, swallowed a naranjada at a gulp. Mr. Incoul declined to take
anything, but the ladies found much refreshment in a concoction of
white almonds which affects the tonsils as music affects the ear.

It was not until this potion had been absorbed that Maida began to take
any noticeable interest. She had been fatigued by the drive, enervated
by the heat, and the noise and clamor was certainly not in the nature
of a sedative. But the almonds brought her comfort. She changed her
seat from the rear of the box to the front, and sat with one arm on
the balustrade, her hand supporting her delicate chin, and as her eyes
followed the prowess of the bull she looked like some fair Pasiphae in
modern guise.

It must have been the novelty of the scene that interested her.
The light, the unusual and brilliant costumes, the agility of the
actors, and the wonder of the sky, entered, probably, as component
parts into any pleasure that she experienced. Certainly it could have
been nothing else, for she was quick to avert her eyes whenever blood
seemed imminent. The second bull, however, was far less active than
the first. He had indeed accomplished a certain amount of destruction,
but his attacks were more perfunctory than angered, and it was not
until he had been irritated by the colored barbs that he displayed
any lively sense of resentment. Then one of the banderilleros showed
himself either awkward or timid; he may have been both; in any event
his success was slight, and as the Spanish audience is not indulgent,
he was hissed and hooted at. “Give him a pistol,” cried some--the acmé
of sarcasm--“_Torero de las marinas_,” cried others. He was offered a
safe seat in the tendidos. One group adjured the President to order his
instant imprisonment. One might have thought that the tortures of the
Inquisition could not be too severe for such a lout as he.

Maida, who was ignorant of the duties of a banderillero, looked down
curiously at the gesticulating crowd below. The cause of their
indignation she was unable to discover, and was about to turn to Mr.
Blydenburg for information, when there came a singing in her ears. The
question passed unuttered from her thoughts. The ring, the people, the
sky itself had vanished. Near the toril, on a bench of stone, was Lenox
Leigh.



CHAPTER VIII.

AN UNEXPECTED GUEST.


Gradually the whirling ceased, the singing left her ears. Leigh raised
his hat and Maida bowed in return. His eyes lingered on her a moment,
and then he turned and disappeared.

“A friend of mine, Mr. Leigh, is down there,” the girl announced. Her
husband looked over the rail. “He’s gone,” she added. “I fancy he is
coming up here.”

“Who’s coming?” Blydenburg inquired, for he had caught the words.

“A friend of my wife’s,” Mr. Incoul answered. “A man named Leigh--do
you know him?”

“Mrs. Manhattan’s brother, isn’t he? No, I don’t know him, but Milly
does, I think. Don’t you, Milly?”

Milly waved her head vaguely. She indeed knew the young man in
question, but she was not over-confident that he had ever been more
than transiently aware of her maidenly existence. She had, however, no
opportunity to formulate her uncertainty in words. There was a rap on
the door and Leigh entered.

Mr. Incoul rose as becomes a host. The young man bowed collectively
to him and the Blydenburgs. He touched Maida’s hand and found a seat
behind her. A bull-fight differs from an opera in many things, but
particularly in this, that there may be exclamations, but there is no
attempt at continuous conversation. Lenox Leigh, though not one to whom
custom is law, said little during the rest of the performance. Now
and then he bent forward to Maida, but whatever he may have said his
remarks were fragmentary and casual. This much Miss Blydenburg noticed,
and she noticed also that Maida appeared more interested in her glove
than in the spectacle in the ring.

When the sixth and last bull had been vanquished and the crowd was
leaving the circus, Mr. Incoul turned to his guest, “We are to dine at
the Inglaterra, will you not join us?”

“Thank you,” Lenox answered, “I shall be glad to. I came here in the
train and I have had nothing since morning. I have been ravenous for
hours, so much so,” he added lightly, “that I have been trying to
poison my hunger by thinking of the dishes that I dislike the most,
beer soup, for instance, stewed snails, carp cooked in sweetmeats or
unseasoned salads of cactus hearts.”

“I don’t know,” Mr. Incoul answered gravely. “I don’t know what we will
have to-night. The dinner was ordered last week. They may have cooked
it then.”

“Possibly they did. On a _fiesta_ San Sebastian is impossible. There
are seven thousand strangers here to-day and the accommodations are
insufficient for a third of them.”

“I want to know--” exclaimed Blydenburg, always anxious for information.
They had moved out of the box and aided by the crowd were drifting
slowly down the stair.

At the _salida_ Karl stood waiting to conduct them to the carriage.

“If you will get in with the ladies,” said Mr. Incoul, “Blydenburg and
myself will walk. The hotel can’t be far.”

To this proposal the young man objected. He had been sitting all day,
he explained, and preferred to stretch his legs. He may have had other
reasons, but if he had he said nothing of them. At once, then, it was
arranged that the ladies, under Karl’s protection, should drive to the
Inglaterra, and that the others should follow on foot.

Half an hour later the entire party were seated at a table overlooking
the Concha. The sun had sunk into the ocean as though it were imbibing
an immense blue syrup. On either side of the bay rose miniature
mountains, Orgullo and Igueldo tiara’d with fortresses and sloped with
green. To the right in the distance was a great unfinished casino, and
facing it, beneath Orgullo, was a cluster of white ascending villas.
The dusk was sudden. The sky after hesitating between salmon and
turquoise had chosen a lapis lazuli, which it changed to indigo, and
with that for flooring the stars came out and danced.

The dinner passed off very smoothly. In spite of his boasted hunger,
Lenox ate but sparingly. He was frugal as a Spaniard, and in the
expansion which the heavy wine of the country will sometimes cause, Mr.
Blydenburg declared that he looked like one. Each of the party had his
or her little say about the corrida and its emotions, and Blydenburg,
after discoursing with much learning on the subject, declared, to
whomsoever would listen, that for his part he regretted the gladiators
of Rome. As a topic, the bull fight was inexhaustible. Every thread
of conversation led back to it, and necessarily, in the course of the
meal, Lenox was asked how it was that he happened to be present.

“I arrived at Biarritz from Paris last night,” he explained, “and when
I learned this morning that there was to be a bull-fight, I was not in
a greater hurry to do anything else than to buy a ticket and take the
train.”

“Was it crowded?” Blydenburg asked in his florid way.

“Rather. It was comfortable enough till we reached Irun, but there
I got out for a Spanish cigar, and when I returned, the train was
so packed that I was obliged to utilize a first-class ticket in a
third-class car. None of the people who lunched at the buffet were
able to get back. I suppose three hundred were left. There was almost
a riot. The station-master said that Irun was the head of the line,
and to reserve a seat one must sit in it. Of course those who had
seats were hugely amused at those who had none. One man, a Frenchman,
bullied the station-master dreadfully. He said it was every kind of an
outrage; that he ought to put on more cars; that he was incompetent;
that he was imbecile; that he didn’t know his business. ‘It’s the
law,’ said the station-master. ‘I don’t care that for your law!’ cried
the Frenchman. ‘But the Préfet, sir.’ ‘To blazes with your Préfet!’ But
that was too strong. The Frenchman might abuse what he saw fit, but the
Préfet evidently was sacred. I suppose it was treasonable to speak of
him in that style. In any event, the station-master called up a file
of soldiers and had the Frenchman led away. The on-lookers were simply
frantic with delight. If the Frenchman had only been shot before their
eyes it would indeed have been a charming prelude to a bull fight.” And
then with an air that suggested retrospects of unexpressed regret, he
added pensively, “I have never seen a man shot.”

“No?” said Milly, boldly; “no more have I. Not that I want to, though,”
she hastened to explain. “It must be horrid.”

Lenox looked up at her and then his eyes wandered to Maida, and rested
caressingly in her own. But the caress was transient. Immediately he
turned and busied himself with his plate.

“Are you to be in Biarritz long?” Mr. Incoul asked. The tone was
perfectly courteous, friendly, even, but at the moment from the very
abruptness of the question Lenox feared that the caress had been
intercepted and something of the mute drama divined. Mentally he
arranged Mr. Incoul as one constantly occupied in repeating _J’ai de
bon tabac, tu n’en auras pas_, and it was his design to disarm that
gentleman of any suspicion he might harbor that his good tobacco, in
this instance at least, was an envied possession or one over which
he would be called to play the sentinel. The rôle of _mari sage_ was
frequent enough on the Continent, but few knew better than Lenox Leigh
that it is rarely enacted in the States, and his intuitions had told
him long before that it was one for which Mr. Incoul was ill adapted.
Yet between the _mari sage_ and the suspicionless husband there is
a margin, and it was on that margin that Lenox determined that Mr.
Incoul should tread. “No,” he answered at once, and without any visible
sign of preoccupation. “No, a day or two at most; I am on my way to
Andalucia.”

Blydenburg, as usual, was immediately interested. “It’s very far, isn’t
it?” he panted.

“Not so far as it used to be. Nowadays one can go all the way in a
sleeping car. Gautier, who discovered it, had to go in a stage-coach,
which must have been tedious. But in spite of the railways the place is
pretty much the same as it has been ever since the Middle Ages. Even
the cholera has been unable to banish the local color. There are trains
in Seville precisely as there are steamboats on the Grand Canal. But
the sky is the same, and in the Sierra Morena there are still Moors and
as yet no advertisements.”

“You have been there then?”

“Yes, I was there some years ago. You ought to go yourself. I know
of nothing so fabulous in its beauty. It is true I was there in the
spring, but the autumn ought not to be a bad time to go. The country is
parched perhaps, but then you would hardly camp out.”

“What do you say, Incoul?” Blydenburg asked. “Wouldn’t you like it?” he
inquired of Maida.

“I could tell better when we get there,” she answered; “but we might
go,” she added, looking at her husband.

“Why,” said Blydenburg, “we could see Madrid and Burgos and Valladolid.
It’s all in the way.”

Lenox interrupted him. “They are tiresome cities though, and gloomy to
a degree. Valladolid and Burgos are like congeries of deserted prisons,
Madrid is little different from any other large city. Fuenterrabia,
next door here, is a thousand times more interesting. It is Cordova
you should visit and Ronda and Granada and Sevilla and Cadix.” And, as
he uttered the names of these cities, he aromatized each of them with
an accent that threw Blydenburg into stupors of admiration. Pronounced
in that way they seemed worth visiting indeed.

“Which of them do you like the best?”

“I liked them all,” Lenox answered. “I liked each of them best.”

“But which is the most beautiful?”

“That depends on individual taste. I prefer Ronda, but Grenada, I
think, is most admired. If you will let me, I will quote a high
authority:

    “‘Grenade efface en tout ses rivales; Grenade
    Chante plus mollement la molle sérénade;
    Elle peint ses maisons des plus riches couleurs,
    Et l’on dit, que les vents suspendent leurs haleines,
    Quand, par un soir d’été, Grenade dans ses plaines,
          Répand ses femmes et ses fleurs.’”

In private life, verse is difficult of recitation, but Lenox recited
well. He made such music of the second line that there came with
his voice the sound of guitars; the others he delivered with the
vowels full as one hears them at the Comédie, and therewith was a
little pantomime so explanatory and suggestive that Blydenburg,
whose knowledge of French was of the most rudimentary description,
understood it all, and, in consequence, liked the young man the better.

The dinner was done, and they moved out on the terrace. The moon had
chased the stars, the Concha glittered with lights, and before the
hotel a crowd circled in indolent coils as though wearied with the
holiday. There were many people, too, on the terrace, and in passing
from the dining-room the little party, either by accident or design,
got cut in twain. For the first time since the spring evening, Maida
and Lenox were alone. Their solitude, it is true, was public, but that
mattered little.

Maida utilized the earliest moment by asking her companion how he got
there. “You should not have spoken to me,” she added, before he could
have answered.

“Maida!”

“No, you must go, you--”

“But I only came to find you,” he whispered.

“To find me? How did you know where I was?”

“The _Morning News_ told me. I was in Paris, on my way to Baden, for I
heard you were there, and then, of course, when I saw in the paper that
you were here, I followed after.”

“Then you are not going to Andalucia?”

“No, not unless you do.”

The girl wrung her hand. “Oh, Lenox, do go away!”

“I can’t, nor do you wish it. You must let me see you. I will come to
you to-morrow--he has an excellent voice, not so full as Gayarré’s, but
his method is better.”

Mr. Incoul had suddenly approached them, and as suddenly Lenox’s tone
had changed. To all intents and purposes he was relating the merits of
a tenor.

“The carriage is here,” said Maida’s husband, “we must be going; I am
sorry we can’t offer you a seat, Mr. Leigh, we are a trifle crowded as
it is.”

“Thank you, you are very kind. The train will take me safely enough.”

He walked with them to the carriage, and aided Maida to enter it. Karl,
who had been standing at the door, mounted to the box. When all were
seated, Mr. Incoul added: “You must come and see us.”

“Yes, come and see us, too,” Blydenburg echoed. “By the way, where are
you stopping?”

“I shall be glad to do so,” Lenox answered; “I am at the Grand.” He
raised his hat and wished them a pleasant drive. The moon was shining
full in his face, and Miss Blydenburg thought him even handsomer than
Mazzantini. His good wishes were answered in chorus, Karl nudged the
driver, and in a moment the carriage swept by and left him standing in
the road.

“What a nice, frank fellow he is,” Blydenburg began; “so different
from the general run of young New Yorkers. There, I forgot to tell him
I knew his sister; I am sorry, it would have seemed sort of friendly,
made him feel more at home, don’t you think? Not but that he seemed
perfectly at his ease as it was. I wonder why he doesn’t marry? None
of those Leighs have money, have they? He could pick up an heiress,
though, in no time, if he wanted to. Perhaps he prefers to be a
bachelor. If he does I don’t blame him a bit, a good-looking young
fellow--”

And so the amiable gentleman rambled on. After a while finding that the
reins of conversation were solely in his own hands, he took the fullest
advantage of his position and discoursed at length on the bull fight,
its history, its possibilities, the games of the Romans, how they fared
under the Goths, what improvements came with the Moors, and wound up by
suggesting an immediate visit to Fuenterrabia.

For the moment no enthusiasm was manifested. Mr. Incoul admitted that
he would like to go, but the ladies said nothing, and presently the two
men planned a little excursion by themselves.

Miss Blydenburg had made herself comfortable and fallen into a
doze, but Maida sat watching the retreating uplands with unseeing
eyes. Her thoughts had wandered, the visible was lost to her. Who
knows what women see or the dreams and regrets that may come to the
most matter-of-fact? Not long ago at the opera, in a little Italian
town, the historian noticed an old lady, one who looked anything but
sentimental, for that matter rather fierce than otherwise, but who,
when Cherubino had sung his enchanting song, brushed away a furtive
and unexpected tear. _Voi che sapete_ indeed! Perhaps to her own cost
she had learned and was grieving dumbly then over some ashes that the
strain had stirred, and it is not impossible that as Maida sat watching
the retreating uplands her own thoughts had circled back to an earlier
summer when first she learned what Love might be.



CHAPTER IX.

MR. INCOUL DINES IN SPAIN.


On the morrow Mr. Blydenburg consulted his guide-books. The descriptions
of Fuenterrabia were vague but alluring. The streets, he learned, were
narrow; the roofs met; the houses were black with age; the doors were
heavy with armorials; the windows barred--in short, a mediæval burg
that slept on a blue gulf and let Time limp by unmarked. Among the
inhabitants were some, he found, who accommodated travelers. The inns,
it is true, were unstarred, but the names were so rich in suggestion
that the neglect was not noticed. Mr. Blydenburg had never passed a
night in Spain, and he felt that he would like to do so. This desire he
succeeded in awakening in Mr. Incoul, and together they agreed to take
an afternoon train, explore the town, pass the evening at the Casino and
return to Biarritz the next morning. The programme thus arranged was put
into immediate execution; two days after the bull fight they were again
on their way to the frontier, and, as the train passed out of the
station on its southern journey, Maida and Lenox Leigh were preparing
for a stroll on the sands.

There is at Biarritz a division of the shore which, starting from
the ruins of a corsair’s castle, extends on to Saint-Jean-de-Luz. It
is known as the Côte des Basques. On one side are the cliffs, on the
other the sea, and between the two is a broad avenue which almost
disappears when the tide is high. The sand is fine as face powder,
_nuance_ Rachel, packed hard. From the cliffs the view is delicious:
in the distance are the mountains curving and melting in the haze;
below, the ocean, spangled at the edges, is of a milky blue. Seen from
the shore, the sea has the color of absinthe, an opalescent green,
entangled and fringed with films of white; here the mountains escape in
the perspective, and as the sun sinks the cliffs glitter. At times the
sky is flecked with little clouds that dwindle and fade into spirals of
pink; at others great masses rise sheer against the horizon, as might
the bastions of Titan homes; and again are gigantic cathedrals, their
spires lost in azure, their turrets swooning in excesses of vermilion
grace. The only sound is from the waves, but few come to listen. The
Côte des Basques is not fashionable with the summer colony; it is
merely beautiful and solitary.

It was on the downs that Maida and Lenox first chose to walk, but
after a while a sloping descent invited them to the shore below. Soon
they rounded a projecting cliff, and Biarritz was hidden from them.
The background was chalk festooned with green; afar were the purple
outlines of the Pyrenees, and before them the ocean murmured its
temptations of couch and of tomb.

They had been talking earnestly with the egotism of people to whom
everything save self is landscape. The encircling beauty in which they
walked had not left them unimpressed, yet the influence had been remote
and undiscerned; the effect had been that of accessories. But now they
were silent, for the wonder of the scene was upon them.

Presently Maida, finding a stone conveniently placed, sat down on the
sand and used the stone for a back. Lenox threw himself at her feet.
From the downs above there came now and then the slumberous tinkle of
a bell, but so faintly that it fused with the rustle of the waves; no
one heard it save a little girl who was tending cattle and who knew by
the tinkle where each of her charges browsed. She was a ragged child,
barefooted and not very wise; she was afraid of strangers with the
vague fear that children have. And at times during the summer, when
tourists crossed the downs where her cattle were, she would hide till
they had passed.

On this afternoon she had been occupying herself with blades of grass,
which she threw in the air and watched float down to the shore below,
but at last she had wearied of this amusement and was about to turn and
bully the cows in the shrill little voice which was hers, when Maida
and her companion appeared on the scene. The child felt almost secure;
nothing but a bird could reach her from the shore and of birds she had
no fear, and so, being curious and not very much afraid, she watched
the couple with timid, inquisitive eyes.

For a long time she watched and for a long time they remained
motionless in the positions which they had first chosen. At times the
sound of their voices reached her. She wished she were a little nearer
that she might hear what they said. She had never seen people sit on
the beach before, though she had heard that people sometimes did so,
all night, too, and that they were called smugglers. But somehow the
people beneath her did not seem to belong to that category. For a
moment she thought that they might be guarding the coast, and at that
thought an inherent instinctive fear of officials beat in her small
breast. She had indeed heard of female smugglers; there was her own
aunt, for instance; but no, she had never heard of a coast-guard in
woman’s clothes. That idea had to be dismissed, and so she wondered and
watched until she forgot all about them, and turned her attention to a
white sail in the open.

The white sail fainted in sheets of cobalt. The sun which had neared
the horizon was dying in throes of crimson and gamboge. It was time she
knew to drive the cattle home. She stood up and brushed her hair aside,
and as she did so, her eyes fell again on the couple below. The man had
moved; he was not lying as he had been with his back to the bluff; he
was kneeling by his companion, her head was on his shoulder, her arms
were about his neck, and his mouth was close to hers. The little maid
smiled knowingly; she had seen others in much the same attitude; the
mystery was dissolved; they were neither guards nor smugglers--they
were lovers; and she ran on at once through the bramble and called
shrilly to the cows.

The excursionists, meanwhile, had reached Hendaye and had been ferried
across the stream that flows between it and Fuenterrabia. At the
landing they were met by a gentleman in green and red who muttered some
inquiry. The boatman undid the straps of the valise which they bore,
and this rite accomplished, the gentleman in green and red looked idly
in them and turned as idly away. The boatman shouldered the valises
again, and started for the inn.

Mr. Incoul and his friend were both men to whom the visible world
exists and they followed with lingering surprise. They ascended a
sudden slope, bordered on one side by a high white wall in which
lizards played, and which they assumed was the wall of some monastery,
but which they learned from the boatman concealed a gambling-house,
and soon entered a small grass-grown plaza. To the right was a church,
immense, austere; to the left were some mildewed dwellings; from an
upper window a man with a crimson turban looked down with indifferent
eyes and abruptly a bird sang.

From the plaza they entered the main street and soon were at the inn.
Mr. Incoul and Blydenburg were both men to whom the visible world
exists, but they were also men to whom the material world has much
significance. In the hall of the inn a chicken and two turkeys clucked
with fearless composure. The public room was small, close and full
of insects. At a rickety table an old man, puffy and scornful, was
quarreling with himself on the subject of a _peseta_ which he held in
his hand. The inn-keeper, a frowsy female, emerged from some remoter
den, eyed them with unmollifiable suspicion and disappeared.

“We can’t stop here,” said Blydenburg with the air of a man denying the
feasibility of a trip to the moon.

On inquiry they learned that the town contained nothing better. At
the Casino there were roulette tables, but no beds. Travelers usually
stopped at Hendaye or at Irun.

“Then we will go back to Biarritz.”

They sent their valises on again to the landing place and then set out
in search of Objects of Interest. The palace of Charlemagne scowled at
them in a tottering, impotent way. When they attempted to enter the
church, a chill caught them neck and crop and forced them back. For
some time they wandered about in an aimless, unguided fashion, yet
whatever direction they chose that direction fed them firmly back to
the landing place. At last they entered the Casino.

The grounds were charming, a trifle unkempt perhaps, the walks were not
free from weeds, but the air was as heavy with the odor of flowers as a
perfumery shop in Bond street. In one alley, in a bower of trees, was a
row of tables; the covers were white and the glassware unexceptionable.

“We could dine here,” Blydenburg said in a self-examining way. A pretty
girl of the manola type, dressed like a soubrette in a vaudeville,
approached and decorated his lapel with a tube-rose. “We certainly can
dine here,” he repeated.

The girl seemed to divine the meaning of his words. “_Ciertamente,
Caballero_,” she lisped.

Mr. Blydenburg had never been called _Caballero_ before, and he liked
it. “What do you say, Incoul?” he asked.

“I am willing, order it now if you care to.”

But the ordering was not easy. Mr. Blydenburg had never studied
pantomime, and his gestures were more indicative of a patient
describing a toothache to a dentist than of an American citizen
ordering an evening meal. “_Kayry-Oostay_,” he repeated, and then from
some abyss of memory he called to his aid detached phrases in German.

The girl laughed blithely. Her mouth was like a pomegranate cut in
twain. She took a thin book bound in morocco from the table and handed
it to the unhappy gentleman. It was, he found, a list of dishes and
of wines. In his excitement, he pointed one after another to three
different soups, and then waving the book at the girl as who should
say, “I leave the rest to you,” he dared Mr. Incoul to go into the
Casino and break the bank for an appetizer.

The Casino, a low building of leprous white, stood in the centre of
the garden. At the door, a lackey, in frayed, ill-fitting livery,
took their sticks and gave them numbered checks in exchange. The
gambling-room was on the floor above, and occupied the entire length
of the house. There, about a roulette table, a dozen men were seated
playing in a cheap and vicious way for small stakes. They looked
exactly what they were, and nothing worse can be said of them. “A den
of thieves in a miniature paradise,” thought Mr. Blydenburg, and his
fancy was so pleasured with the phrase that he determined to write a
letter to the _Evening Post_, in which, with that for title, he would
give a description of Fuenterrabia. He found a seat and began to play.
Mr. Incoul looked on for a moment and then sought the reading-room.
When he returned Blydenburg had a heap of counters before him.

“I have won all that!” he exclaimed exultingly. He looked at his watch,
it was after seven. He cashed the counters and together they went down
again to the garden.

The dinner was ready. They had one soup, not three, and other dishes
of which no particular mention is necessary. But therewith was a
bottle of Val de Peñas, a wine so delicious that a temperance lecturer
suffering from hydrophobia would have drunk of it. The manola with the
pomegranate mouth fluttered near them, and toward the close of the
meal Mr. Blydenburg chucked her under the chin. “Nice girl that,” he
announced complacently.

“I dare say,” his friend answered, “but I have never been able to take
an interest in women of that class.”

Blydenburg was flushed with winnings and wine. He did not notice the
snub and proceeded to relate an after-dinner story of that kind in
which men of a certain age are said to luxuriate. Mr. Incoul listened
negligently.

“God knows,” he said at last, “I am not a Puritan, but I like
refinement, and refinement and immorality are incompatible.”

“Fiddlesticks! Look at London, look at Paris, New York even; there are
women whom you and I both know, women in the very best society, of whom
all manner of things are said and known. You may call them immoral if
you want to, but you cannot say that they are not refined.”

“I say this, were I related in any way, were I the brother, father, the
husband of such a woman, I would wring her neck. I believe in purity in
women, and I believe also in purity in men.”

“Yes, it’s a good thing to believe in, but it’s hard to find.”

Mr. Incoul had spoken more vehemently than was his wont, and to this
remark he made no answer. His eyes were green, not the green of the cat
but the green of a tiger, and as he sat with fingers clinched, and a
cheerless smile on his thin lips, he looked a modern hunter of the Holy
Grail.

The night train leaves Hendaye a trifle after ten, and soon a _sereno_
was heard calling the hour, and declaring that all was well. It was
time to be going, they knew, and without further delay they had
themselves ferried again across the stream. The return journey was
unmarked by adventure or incident. Mr. Blydenburg fell into a doze, and
after dreaming of the pomegranate mouth awoke at Biarritz, annoyed
that he had not thought to address the manola in Basque. At the station
they found a carriage, and, as Blydenburg entered it, he made with
himself a little consolatory pact that some day he would go back to
Fuenterrabia alone.

The station at Biarritz is several miles from the town, and as the
horses were slow it was almost twelve o’clock before the Continental
was reached. Blydenburg alighted there and Mr. Incoul drove on alone
to the villa. As he approached it he saw that his wife’s rooms were
illuminated. For the moment he thought she might be waiting for him,
but at once he knew that was impossible, for on leaving he had said he
would pass the night in Spain.

The carriage drew up before the main entrance. He felt for small money
to pay the driver, but found nothing smaller than a louis. The driver,
after a protracted fumbling, declared that in the matter of change he
was not a bit better of. Where is the cabman who was ever supplied?
Rather than waste words Mr. Incoul gave him the louis and the man drove
off, delighted to find that the old trick was still in working order.

Mr. Incoul looked up again at his wife’s window, but during his parley
with the driver the lights had been extinguished. He entered the gate
and opened the door with a key. The hall was dark; he found a match and
lit it. On the stair was Lenox Leigh. The match flickered and went out,
but through the open door the moon poured in.

The young man rubbed his hat as though uncertain what to do or say. At
last he reached the door, “I am at the Grand, you know,” he hazarded.

“Yes, I know,” Mr. Incoul answered, “and I hope you are comfortable.”

Leigh passed out. Mr. Incoul closed and bolted the door behind him. For
a moment he stood very still. Then turning, he ascended the stair.



CHAPTER X.

THE POINT OF VIEW.


On leaving the villa Lenox Leigh experienced a number of conflicting
emotions, and at last found relief in sleep. The day that followed he
passed in chambered solitude; it was possible that some delegate from
Mr. Incoul might wish to exchange a word with him, and in accordance
with the unwritten statutes of what is seemly, it behooved him to be
in readiness for the exchange of that word. Moreover, he was expectant
of a line from Maida, some word indicative of the course of conduct
which he should pursue, some message, in fact, which would aid him
to rise from the uncertainty in which he groped. As a consequence he
remained in his room. He was not one to whom solitude is irksome,
indeed he had often found it grateful in its refreshment, but to be
enjoyable solitude should not be coupled with suspense; in that case
it is uneasiness magnified by the infinite. And if fear be analyzed,
what is it save the dread of the unknown? When the nerves are unstrung
a calamity is often a tonic. The worst that can be has been done, the
blow has fallen, and with the falling fear vanishes, hope returns, the
healing process begins at once.

The uneasiness which visited Lenox Leigh came precisely from his
inability to determine whether or not a blow was impending. As to the
blow, he cared, in the abstract, very little. If it were to be given,
let it be dealt and be done with; that which alone troubled him was his
ignorance of what had ensued after his meeting with Mr. Incoul, and his
incapacity to foresee in what manner the consequences of that meeting
would affect his relations with Mr. Incoul’s wife.

In this uncertainty he looked at the matter from every side, and, that
he might get the broadest view, he recalled the incidents connected
with the meeting. The facts of the case seemed then to resolve
themselves into this: Mr. Incoul had unexpectedly returned to his home
after midnight, and had met a friend of his wife’s descending the
stair. Their greeting, if formal, had been perfectly courteous. The
departing guest had informed the returning husband at what hotel he
was stopping, and that gentleman had expressed the hope that he was
comfortable. Certainly there was nothing extraordinary in that. People
who dwelled in recondite regions might see impropriety in a call that
extended up to and beyond midnight, whereas others who lived in more
liberal centres might consider it the most natural thing in the world.
It was, then, merely the point of view, and what was the point of view
which Mr. Incoul had adopted? If he considered it an impropriety why
had he seemed so indifferent? And, if he considered it natural and
proper, why should he have been so damned civil? Why should he have
expressed the hope that his wife’s guest was comfortable at a hotel?
Was the expression of that hope merely a commonplace rejoinder, or was
it an intentional slur? Surely, every one possessed of the brain of a
medium-sized rabbit feels that it is as absurd to expect an intelligent
being to be comfortable in a hotel as it is to suppose that he can
find enjoyment in an evening party or amusement in a comic paper. Then
again, and this, after all, was the great question: was the return of
Mr. Incoul intentional or accidental? If it was intentional, if he
had gone away intending that he would be absent all night merely that
by an unexpected return he might verify any suspicions which he may
have harbored, then in driving to his door in a rumbling coach he had
shown himself a very poor plotter. On the other hand, if the return
were accidental had it served to turn a suspicionless husband into a
suspicious one, and if it had so served, how far did those suspicions
extend? Did he think that his wife and her guest had been occupied with
aimless chit-chat, or did he believe that their conversation had been
of a personal and intimate nature?

As Lenox pondered over these things it seemed to him that, let Mr.
Incoul suspect what he might, the one and unique cause for apprehension
lay in the attitude which Maida had assumed when her husband, after
closing the door, had gone to her in search of an explanation. That
he had so gone there was to him no possible doubt. And it was in the
expectancy of tidings as to the result of that explanation that he
waited the entire day in his room.

But the afternoon waned into dusk and still no tidings came. As
the hours wore on his uneasiness decreased. “Bah!” he muttered to
himself at last, “in the winter I gave all my mornings to Pyrrho and
Ænesidemus, and here six months later during an entire day I bother
myself about eventualities.”

He sighed wearily with an air of self-disgust, and rising from the sofa
on which his meditations had been passed he went to the window. The
Casino opposite was already illuminated. “They will be there to-night,”
he thought. “I have been a fool for my pains. If Maida hasn’t written
it is because there has been nothing to write. I will look them up
after dinner and everything will be as before.” He took off his morning
suit and got himself into evening dress. He tied his white cravat
without emotion, with a precision that was geometric in its accuracy,
and to hold the tie in place he ran a silver pin through the collar
without so much as pricking his neck. He was thoroughly at ease. The
fear of the blow had passed. Pyrrho, Ænesidemus, the whole corps of
ataraxists had surged suddenly and rescued him from the toils of the
inscrutable.

At a florist’s in the street below he found an orchid with which he
decked his button-hole, and then in search of dinner he sauntered
into Helder’s, a restaurant on the main street, a trifle above the
Grand Hôtel. It was crowded; there did not seem to be a single table
unoccupied. He hesitated for a moment, and was about to go elsewhere
when he noticed some one signaling to him from the remoter end of the
garden. He could not at first make out who it was and it was not until
he had made use of a monocle that he recognized a fellow Baltimorean,
Mr. Clarence May, with whom in days gone by he had been on terms
approaching those of intimacy.

Mr. Clarence May, more familiarly known as Clara, was a pigeon-shooter
who for some years past had been promenading the side scenes of
continental life. He was well known in the penal colonies of the
Riviera, and hand-in-glove with some of the most distinguished
_rastaquouères_, yet did he happen in a proscenium it was by
accident. In appearance he was not beautiful: he was a meagre little
man, possessed of vague features and an allowance of sandy hair so
undetermined that few were able to remember whether or not he wore any
on his face. When he spoke it was with a slight stutter, a trick of
speech which he declared he had inherited from his wet-nurse.

He rose from his seat, and hurrying forward, greeted Lenox as though he
had seen him the week before. He was anything but an idealist, yet he
treated Time as though it were the veriest fiction of the non-existent,
and he bombarded no one with questions as to what had become of them,
or where had they been.

“I have just ordered dinner,” he said, in his amusing stammer, “you
must share it with me.” And Lenox, who had not a prejudice to his name,
accepted the invitation as readily as it was made.

“I don’t know,” May continued, when they were seated--“I don’t know
whether you will like the dinner--I have ordered very little. No
soup, too hot, don’t you think? No oysters, there are none; all out
visiting, the man said; for fish I have substituted a melon; fish, at
the seaside, is never good; then we are to have white truffles, with a
plain sauce, a chateaubriand, salad, a bit of cheese--_voilà_! How will
that suit you?”

Lenox nodded, as who should say, had I ordered it myself it could not
be more to my taste, and thus encouraged, May offered him a glass of
Amer Picon, a beverage that smells like an orange and looks like ink.

The dinner passed off pleasantly enough. The white truffles were
excellent, and the chateaubriand cooked to a turn. The only fault to be
found was with the Brie, which May seemed to think was not as flowing
as it should be.

“By the way,” he said at last when coffee was served, “you know Mirette
is here?”

“Mirette? Who is Mirette?”

“Why, good gad! My dear fellow, Mirette is Mirette; the one adorable,
unique, divine Mirette. You don’t mean to say you never heard of her!”

“I do, though perhaps she may have had the good fortune to hear of me.”

“Heavens alive, man! don’t you read the papers?”

Lenox smiled. “Why should I? I am not interested in the community. It
might be stricken with dry-rot, elephantiasis and plica polonica for
ought I care. Besides, there is nothing in them; the English papers
are all advertisements and aridity, the French are frivolous and
obscene. I mind neither frivolity nor obscenity; both have their uses,
as flowers and cesspools have theirs; but I object to them served with
my breakfast. I think if once a year a man would read a summary of the
twelvemonth, he would get in ten minutes a digest of all that might be
necessary to know, and what is more to the point, he would have to his
credit a clear profit of two hundred hours at the very least, and two
hundred hours rightly employed are sufficient for the acquirement of
such a knowledge of a foreign language as will permit a man to make
love in it gracefully. No, I seldom read the papers, so forgive my
ignorance as to Mirette.”

“After such an explanation I shall have to. But if you care to learn
by word of mouth that which you decline to read in print, Mirette is
_premier sujet_.”

“In the ballet, you mean.”

“Yes, in the ballet, and I can’t for the life of me think of a ballet
without her.”

“She must have gone to your head.”

“And to every one’s who has seen her.”

“You say she is here?”

“Yes, she’ll be at the Casino to-night; I’ll present you if you say so.”

“I might take a look at her, but I fancy I shalt be occupied elsewhere.”

“As you like.” May drew out his watch. “It’s after nine,” he added, “if
we are going to the Casino we had better be t-toddling.”

On the way there May entered a tobacconist’s, and Lenox waited for him
without. As he loitered on the curb, Blydenburg rounded an adjacent
corner.

“Well,” exclaimed the latter, “you didn’t see our friends off.”

“What friends?”

“The Incouls of course; didn’t you know that they had gone?”

Lenox looked at him blankly. “Gone,” he echoed.

“Yes, they must have sent you word. Incoul seemed to expect you. They
have gone up to Paris. If I had known beforehand--”

Mr. Blydenburg rambled on, but Lenox no longer listened. It was for
this then that he had been bothering himself the entire day. The
abruptness of the departure mystified him, yet he comforted himself
with the thought that had there been anything abnormal, it could not
have escaped Blydenburg’s attention.

“And you say they expected me?” he asked at last.

“Yes, they seemed to. Incoul left good-bye for you. When you get to
Paris look them up.”

While he was speaking May came out from the tobacconist’s.

“I will do so,” Lenox said, and with a parting nod he joined his friend.

As he walked on down the road to the Casino, Mr. Blydenburg looked
musingly after him. He would not be a bad match for Milly, he told
himself, not a bad match at all; and thinking that perhaps it might be
but a question of bringing the two young people together, he presently
started off in search of his daughter and led her, lamb-like, to the
Casino. But once there he felt instinctively that for that evening at
least any bringing together of the young people was impossible. Lenox
was engaged in an animated conversation with a conspicuously dressed
lady, whom, Mr. Blydenburg learned on inquiry, was none other than the
notorious Mlle. Mirette, of the Théâtre National de l’Opéra.



CHAPTER XI.

THE HOUSE IN THE PARC MONCEAU.


There had been a crash in Wall street. Two of the best houses had gone
under. Of one of these the senior partner had had recourse to the
bare bodkin. For several years previous his wife had dispensed large
hospitality from a charming hôtel just within the gates of the Parc
Monceau. At the news of her ruined widowhood she fled from Paris. In a
week it was only her creditors that remembered her. The hôtel was sold
under the hammer. A speculator bought it and while waiting a chance to
sell it again at a premium, offered it for rent, fully furnished, as it
stood. This by the way.

After the dinner in Spain, Mr. Incoul passed some time in thought.
The next morning he sent for Karl, and after a consultation with him,
he went to the square that overhangs the sea, entered the telegraph
office, found a blank, wrote a brief message, and after attending
to its despatch, returned to the villa. His wife was in the library,
and as he entered the room the _maître d’hôtel_ announced that their
excellencies were served.

Maida had never been more bewildering in her beauty. Her lips were
moist, and under her polar-blue eyes were the faintest of semicircles.

“Did you enjoy your trip to Fuenterrabia?” she asked.

“Exceedingly,” he answered. But he did not enter into details and the
breakfast was done before either of them spoke again.

At last as Maida rose from the table Mr. Incoul said: “We leave for
Paris at five this afternoon. I beg you will see to it that your things
are ready.”

She steadied herself against a chair, she would have spoken, but he had
risen also and left the room.

For the time being her mind refused to act. Into the fibres of her
there settled that chill which the garb and aspect of a policeman
produces on the conscience of a misdemeanant. But the chill passed as
policemen do, and a fever came in its place.

To hypnotize her thoughts she caught up an English journal. She read
of a cocoa that was grateful and comforting, the praises of Pear’s
Soap, an invitation from Mr. Streeter to view his wares, a column of
testimonials on the merits of a new pill, appeals from societies for
pecuniary aid. She learned that a Doré was on exhibition in New Bond
street, that Lady Grenville, The Oaks, Market Litchfield, was anxious
to secure a situation for a most excellent under-housemaid, that money
in large amounts or small could be obtained without publicity on simple
note of hand by applying personally or by letter to Moss & Lewes,
Golden Square. She found that a harmless, effective and permanent cure
for corpulency would be sent to any part of the world, post-paid, on
receipt twelve stamps, and that the Junior Macready Club would admit a
few more members without entrance fee. She read it all determinedly,
by sheer effort of will, and at last in glancing over an oasis her eye
fell upon a telegram from Madrid which stated cholera had broken out
afresh.

She took the paper with her and hurried from the room. In the hall
her husband stood talking to Karl. She went to him and pointed to the
telegram. “Is it for this we are to leave?” she asked.

He read the notice and returned it. “Yes,” he answered, “it is for
that.” And then it was that both chill and fever passed away.

The journey from Biarritz was accomplished without incident. On their
previous visit to Paris, they had put up at the Bristol and to that
hostelry they returned. The manager had been notified and the yellow
suite overlooking the Palace Vendôme was prepared for their reception.
On arriving, Maida went at once with her maid to her room. Mr. Incoul
changed his clothes, passed an hour at the Hamman, breakfasted at
Voisin’s, and then had himself driven to a house-agent.

The clerk, a man of fat and greasy presence, gave him a list of
apartments, marking with a star those which he thought might prove
most suitable. Mr. Incoul visited them all. He had never lived in an
apartment in Paris and the absence of certain conveniences perplexed
him. The last apartment of those that were starred was near the Arc de
Triomphe. When he had been shown it over he found a seat, and heedless
of the volubility of the concierge, rested his head in his hand and
thought. For the moment it seemed to him as though it would be best to
return to New York, but there were objections to that, and reflecting
that there might be other and better arranged apartments, he left the
chattering concierge and drove again to the agent’s.

“I have seen nothing I liked,” he said simply.

At this the clerk expressed his intense surprise. The apartment in
the Avenue Montaigne was everything that there was of most fine, and
wait, the Hospodar of Wallachia had just quitted the one in the Rue de
Presbourg. “It astonishes me much,” he said.

The astonishment of the clerk was to Mr. Incoul a matter of perfect
indifference. “Have you any private houses?” he asked.

“Ah, yes, particular hôtels.” Yes, there was one near the Trocadero,
but for his part he found that the apartment in the Avenue Montaigne
would fit him much better. “But now that I am there,” he continued, “I
recall myself of one that is enchanter as a subjunctive. I engage you
to visit it.” And thereupon he wrote down the address of the house in
the Parc Monceau.

It was not, Mr. Incoul discovered, a large dwelling, but the
appointments left little to be desired. In the dressing-rooms
was running water, and each of the bed-rooms was supplied with
gas-fixtures. He touched one to see if it were in working order, and
immediately the escaping ether assured him that it was. He sniffed it
with a feeling akin to pleasure. One would have thought that since he
left Madison avenue he had not enjoyed such a treat. There was gas to
be found in the dining-room, but the reception-rooms were furnished
with lamps and candelabras. The bed-rooms were on the floor above. One
of these overlooked the park. There was a dressing-room next to it, but
to the two rooms there was but one entrance, and that from the hall.
This little suite, Mr. Incoul resolved, should be occupied by his wife.
Beyond, across the hall, was a sitting-room, and at the other end of
the house was a second suite, which Mr. Incoul mentally selected for
himself.

He returned to the agent, and informed him that the house suited him,
an announcement which the man received with an air of personal sympathy.

“Is it not!” he exclaimed, “it made the mouth champagne nothing but
to think there. And again, one was at home with one’s self. Truly,
the hôtel was beautiful as a boulevard. Monsieur would never regret
himself of it. And had Monsieur servants? No, good then. Let Monsieur
not disquiet himself. He who spoke knew of a cook, veritably a blue
ribbon, and as to masters of hôtel, why, anointed name of a dog, not
later than yesterday, he had heard that Baptiste--he who had served the
family of Cantacuzène--Monsieur knew her, without doubt, came to be
free.”

In many respects Paris is not what it might be. The shops are vulgar
in their ostentation. Were Monte Cristo to return he would find his
splendor cheap and commonplace. In a city where Asiatic magnificence is
sold from misfit and remnant counters by the ton, where emeralds large
as swallows’ eggs are to be had in the side-streets at a discount,
where agents are ready to provide everything from an opéra-seria to a
shoelace, the _badauds_ have lost their ability to be startled. Paris,
moreover, is not what it was. The suavity and civility for which it was
proverbial have gone the way of other old-fashioned virtues; the wit
which used to run about the streets never by any chance enters a salon;
save in China a more rapacious set of bandits than the restauranteurs
and shop-keepers do not exist; the theatres are haunts of ennui; the
boulevards are filled with the worst-dressed set of people in the
world. As for Parisian gaiety, there is nothing duller--no, not even a
carnival. In winter the city is a tomb; in summer a furnace. In fact,
there are dozens and dozens of places far more attractive, but there
is not one where house-keeping is easier. The butcher and baker are
invisible providers of the best of fare. The servants understand their
duties and attend to them, and, given a little forethought and a good
bank account, the palace of the White Cat is there the most realizable
of constructions.

In a week’s time the house in the Parc Monceau ran in grooves. To keep
it running the tenants had absolutely nothing to do but to pay the
bills. For this function Mr. Incoul was amply prepared, and, that the
establishment should be on a proper footing, he furnished an adjacent
stable with carriages, grooms and horse.



CHAPTER XII.

MR. INCOUL IS PREOCCUPIED.


Mr. Incoul’s attitude to his wife had, meanwhile, in no wise altered.
To an observer, nay, to Maida herself, he was as silent, methodical and
self-abnegatory as he had been from the first. He had indeed caused her
to send a regret to Ballister without giving any reason why the regret
should be sent, but otherwise he showed himself very indulgent.

He cared little for the stage, yet to gratify Maida he engaged boxes
for the season at the Français and at the Opéra. Now and then in the
early autumn when summer was still in the air he took her to dine in
the Bois, at Madrid or Armenenville, and drove home with her in the
cool of the evening, stopping, perhaps, for a moment at some one of the
different concerts that lined the Champs Elysées. And sometimes he went
with her to Versailles and at others to Vincennes, and one Sunday to
Bougival. But there Maida would never return; it was crowded with a
set of people the like of which she had never seen before, with women
whose voices were high pitched and unmodulated, and men in queer coats
who stared at her and smiled if they caught her eye.

But with the first tingle that accompanies the falling leaves, the
open-air restaurants and concerts closed their doors. There was a
succession of new plays which Vitu always praised and Sarcey always
damned. The verdict of the latter gentleman, however, did not affect
Maida in the least. She went bravely to the Odéon and liked it, to the
Cluny where she saw a shocking play that made her laugh till she cried.
She went to the Nations and saw Lacressonière and shuddered before
the art of that wonderful actor. At the Gymnase she saw the “Maître des
Forges” and when she went home her eyes were wet; she saw “Nitouche”
and would have willingly gone back the next night to see it again;
even Mr. Incoul smiled; nothing more irresistibly amusing than Baron
could be imagined; she saw, too, Bartet and Delaunay, and for the first
time heard French well spoken. But of all entertainments the Opéra
pleasured her most. Already, under Mapleson’s reign, she had wearied
of mere sweetness in music; she felt that she would enjoy Wagner and
even planned a pilgrimage to Bayreuth, but meanwhile Meyerbeer had the
power to intoxicate her very soul. The septette in the second act of
“L’Africaine” affected her as had never anything before; it vibrated
from her fingertips to the back of her neck; the entire score, from the
opening notes of the overture to the farewell of Zuleika’s that fuses
with the murmur of the sea, thrilled her with abrupt surprises, with
series and excesses of delight.

There were, of course, many evenings when neither opera nor theatre was
attractive, and on such evenings invitations from resident friends and
acquaintances were sometimes accepted and sometimes open house was held.

On these occasions, Maida found herself an envied bride. It was not
merely that her husband was rich enough to buy a principality and
hand it over for charitable purposes, it was not merely that he was
willing to give her everything that feminine heart could desire, it
was that, however crowded the halls might be, he seemed conscious of
the existence of but one woman, and that woman was his wife. There
were triflers who said that this attitude was _bourgeois_; there were
others--more witty--who said that it was immoral; but, be this as it
may, the South American highwaymen, who called themselves generals, the
Russian princesses, the Roumanian boyards, the attachés, embassadors,
and other accredited bores, the contingent from the Faubourg, the
American residents, who, were they sent in a body to the rack, could
not have confessed to an original thought among them, all these,
together with a sprinkling of Spaniards and English, the Tout-Paris,
in fact, agreed, as it was intended they should, on this one point, to
wit, that Mr. Incoul was the most devoted of husbands.

And such apparently he was. If Maida had any lingering doubts as to
the real reason of their return to Paris, little by little they faded.
After her fright she made with herself several little compacts, and
that she might carry them out the better she wrote to Lenox a short,
decisive note. She determined that he should never enter her life
again. It was no longer his, he had let it go without an effort to
detain it, and in Biarritz if it had seemed that he still held the
key of her heart, it was owing as much to the unexpectedness of his
presence as to the languors of the afternoons. In marrying, she had
meant to be brave; indeed, she had been so--when there was no danger;
and if in spite of her intentions she had faltered, the faltering
had at least served as a lesson which she would never need to learn
again. Over the cinders of her youth she would write a Requiescat. Her
girlhood had been her own to give, but her womanhood she had pledged to
another.

As she thought of these things she wondered at her husband. He had done
what she had hardly dared to expect--he had observed their ante-nuptial
agreement to the letter. A brother could not have treated her with
greater respect. Surely if ever a man set out to win his wife’s
affection he had chosen the surest way. And why had he so acted if it
were not as he had said, that given time and opportunity he _would_
win her affection. He was doing so, Maida felt, and with infinitely
greater speed than she had ever deemed possible. Beside, if the mangled
remnants of her heart seemed attractive, why should he be debarred from
their possession? Yet, that was precisely the point; he did not know of
the mangled remnants, he thought her heart-whole and virginal. But what
would he do if he learned the truth? And as she wondered, suddenly the
consciousness came to her that she was living with a stranger.

Heretofore she had not puzzled over the possible intricacies of her
husband’s inner nature. She had known that he was of a grave and silent
disposition, and as such she had been content to accept him, without
question or query. But as she collected some of the scattered threads
and memories of their life in common, it seemed to her that latterly
he had become even graver and more silent than before. And this merely
when they were alone. In the presence of a third person, when they
went abroad as guests, or when they remained at home as hosts, he
put his gravity aside like a garment. He encouraged her in whatever
conversation she might have engaged in, he aided her with a word or
a suggestion, he made a point of consulting her openly, and smiled
approvingly at any bright remark she chanced to make.

But when they were alone, unless she personally addressed him, he
seldom spoke, and the answers that he gave her, while perfectly
courteous in tone and couching, struck her, now that she reflected, as
automatic, like phrases learned by rote. It is true they were rarely
alone. In the mornings he busied himself with his correspondence,
and in the afternoons she found herself fully occupied with shops and
visits, while in the evenings there was usually a dinner, a play, or
a reception, sometimes all three. Since the season had begun, it was
only now and then, once in ten days perhaps, that an evening was passed
_en tête-à-tête_. On such occasions he would take up a book and read
persistently, or he would smoke, flicking the ashes from the cigar
abstractedly with his little finger, and so sit motionless for hours,
his eyes fixed on the cornice.

It was this silence that puzzled her. It was evident that he was
thinking of something, but of what? It could not be archæology, he
seemed to have given it up, and he was not a metaphysician, the only
thinker, be it said, to whom silence is at all times permissible.

At first she feared that his preoccupation might in some way be
connected with the episodes at Biarritz, but this fear faded. Mr.
Incoul had been made a member of the Cercle des Capucines, and now and
then looked in there ostensibly to glance at the papers or to take a
hand at whist. One day he said casually, “I saw your friend Leigh at
the club. You might ask him to dinner.” The invitation was sent, but
Lenox had regretted. After that incident it was impossible for her to
suppose that her husband’s preoccupation was in anywise connected with
the intimacy which had subsisted between the young man and herself.

There seemed left to her then but one tenable supposition. Her husband
had been indulgence personified. He had been courteous, refined and
foreseeing, in fact a gentleman, and, if silent, was it not possible
that the silence was due to a self-restraining delicacy, to a feeling
that did he speak he would plead, and that, perhaps, when pleading
would be distasteful to her?

To this solution Maida inclined. It was indeed the only one at which
she could arrive, and, moreover, it conveyed that little bouquet of
flattery which has been found grateful by many far less young and
feminine than she. And so, one evening, for the further elucidation
of the enigma, and with the idea that perhaps it needed but a word
from her to cause her husband to say something of that which was on
his mind, and which she was at once longing and dreading to hear--one
evening when he had seemed particularly abstracted, she bent forward
and said, “Harmon, of what are you thinking?”

She had never called him by his given name before. He started, and half
turned.

“Of you,” he answered.

But Maida’s heart sank. She saw that his eyes were not in hers, that
they looked over and beyond her, as though they followed the fringes of
an escaping dream.



CHAPTER XIII.

WHAT MAY BE HEARD IN A GREENROOM.


One evening in November a new ballet was given at the Opéra. Its
production had been heralded in the manner which has found most favor
with Parisian impressarii. The dead walls of the capital were not
adorned with colored lithographs. The advertising sheets held no
notice of the coming performance. But for several weeks previous the
columns of the liveliest journals had teemed with items and discreet
indiscretions.

Through these measures the curiosity of the Tout-Paris had been coerced
afresh, and, when the curtain, after falling on the second act of the
“Favorite” parted again before the new ballet, there was hardly a
vacant seat in the house.

The box which Mr. Incoul had taken for the season was on what is known
as the grand tier. It was roomy, holding eight comfortably and twelve
if need be. But Maida, who was adverse to anything that suggested
crowding, was always disinclined to ask more than five or six to
share it with her, and on the particular evening to which allusion is
made she extended her hospitality to but four people: Mr. and Mrs.
Wainwaring and their daughter, New Yorkers like herself, and the
Duc de la Dèche, a nobleman who served as figure-head to the Cercle
des Capucines, and who, so ran the gossip, was anxious to effect an
exchange of his coroneted freedom for the possession of Miss Wainwaring
and a bundle or two of her father’s securities.

During the _entr’acte_ that preceded the ballet the box was invaded by
a number of visitors, young men who were indebted to Maida for a dinner
or a cup of tea and by others who hoped that such indebtedness was
still in store for them; there came, too, a popular artist who wished
to paint Maida’s portrait for the coming Salon and an author who may
have had much cleverness, but who never displayed it to any one.

As the invasion threatened to continue Mr. Incoul went out in the
corridor, where he was presently joined by the duke, who suggested
that they should visit the foyer. They made their way down the
giant stair and turning through the lobby passed on through the
corridor that circles the stalls until they reached a door guarded
from non-subscribers by a Suisse about whose neck there drooped a
medallioned chain of silver. By him the door was opened wide and the
two men passed on through a forest of side scenes till the _foyer de la
danse_ was reached.

It was a spacious apartment, well lighted and lined with mirrors; the
furniture was meagre, a dozen or more chairs and lounges of red plush.
It was not beautiful, but then what market ever is? To Mr. Incoul
it was brilliant as a café, and equally vulgar. From dressing-rooms
above and beyond there came a stream of willowy girls. Few among them
were pretty, and some there were whose faces were repulsive, but the
majority were young; some indeed, the rats, as they are called, were
mere children. Here and there was a mother of the Mme. Cardinal type,
armed with an umbrella and prepared to listen to offers. As a rule,
however, the young ladies of the ballet were quite able to attend to
any little matter of business without maternal assistance. The Italian
element was easily distinguishable. There was the ultra darkness of
the eye, the faint umber of the skin, the richer vitality, in fact, of
which the anemic daughters of Paris were unpossessed. And now and then
the Gothic gutturals of the Spanish were heard, preceded by a wave of
garlic.

That night the subscribers to the stalls were out in full force. There
were Jew bankers in plenty, there were detachments from the Jockey
and the Mirletons, one or two foreign representatives, a few high
functionaries, the Minister of the Interior, and he of the Fine Arts, a
member of the imperial family of Russia, a number of stock brokers and
an Arab Sheik flanked by an interpreter.

Before the curtain rose, battalions of ballerines formed on the stage,
and after the performance began they were succeeded by others, the
first contingent returning to the dressing-rooms or loitering in the
foyer. In this way there was a constant coming and going accompanied by
the murmur of the spectators beyond and the upper notes of the flute.

Mr. Incoul was growing weary; he would have returned to the box, but
he was joined by acquaintances that he had made at the club, Frenchmen
mainly, friends of his companion, and presently he found himself
surrounded by a group of _viveurs_, men about town, who had their Paris
at the end of their gloves, and to whom it held no secrets. They had
dined and talked animatedly in ends and remnants of phrases in a sort
of verbal telegraphy; an exclamation helped by a gesture sufficing as
often as not for the full conveyance of their thought.

Mr. Incoul spoke French with tolerable ease, but having nothing of
moment to say, he held his tongue, contenting himself with listening
to the words of those who stood about him. And as he listened, the
name of Mirette caught his ear. The programme had already informed
him that it was she who was to assume the principal rôle in the new
ballet, consequently he was not unfamiliar with it, but of the woman
herself he knew nothing, and he listened idly, indifferent to ampler
information. But at once his interest quickened; his immediate neighbor
had mentioned her in connection with one whom he knew.

“They came up from Biarritz together,” he heard him say. “She went
there with Chose, that Russian.”

“Balaguine?”

“Precisely.”

“What did she do with him?”

“Found the Tartar, I fancy.”

“And then?”

“_Voilà_, this young American is mad about her.”

“He is rich then?”

“What would you? An American! They are it all.”

“Yes, a rich one always wins.”

“How mean you?”

“This: he plays bac at the Capucines. His banks are fructuous.”

“Ah, as to that--” And the first speaker shrugged his shoulders.

A rustle circled through the foyer, men stood aside and nodded affably.
The lights took on a fairer glow. “Stay,” murmured the second speaker,
“she is there.”

Through the parting crowd Mirette passed with a carriage such as no
queen, save perhaps Semiramis, ever possessed. She moved from the hips,
her body was erect and unswayed. It was the perfection of artificial
grace. Her features were not regular, but there was an expression
in them that stirred the pulse. “_Je suis l’Amour_,” she seemed to
say, and to add “_prends garde à toi_.” As she crossed the room men
moistened their lips, and when she had gone they found them still
parched.

Mr. Incoul followed her with his eyes. She had not left him unimpressed,
but his impression differed from that of his neighbors. In her face his
shrewdness had discerned nothing but the animal and the greed of
unsatiated appetites. He watched her pass, and stepped from the group
in which he had been standing that he might the better follow her
movements.

From the foyer she floated on into a side scene, yet not near enough
to the stage to be seen by the audience. A few machinists moved aside
to let her pass, and as they did so Mr. Incoul saw Lenox Leigh. It
was evident that he had been waiting there for her coming. There was
a scarf about her neck, and as the young man turned to greet her, she
took it off and gave it into his keeping. They whispered together.
Beyond, Mr. Incoul could see the tulle of the ballet rising and
subsiding to the rhythm of the orchestra. Then came a sudden blare of
trumpets, the measure swooned, and as it recovered again the ballet
had faded to the back of the stage. Abruptly, as though sprung from a
trap-door, a _régisseur_ appeared, and at a signal from him Mirette,
with one quick backward stroke to her skirt, bounded from the side
scene and fluttered down to the footlights amid a crash and thunder of
applause.

Mr. Incoul had heard and seen enough. His mind was busy. He felt the
need of fresh air and of solitude. He turned into the corridor and
from there went through the vestibule until he reached an outer door,
which he swung open and passed out into the night. He was thinly clad,
in evening dress, and the air was chilly, but he thought nothing of
his dress nor of the warmth or chill of the air. He walked up and
down before the building with his head bent and his hands behind his
back. A _camelot_ offered him a pack of transparent cards, a vender of
programmes pestered him to buy, but he passed them unheeding. For fully
half an hour he continued his walk, and when he re-entered the box,
Maida, who of late had given much attention to his moods, noticed that
his face was flushed, and that about his lips there played the phantom
of a smile.



CHAPTER XIV.

KARL GROWS A MOUSTACHE.


For several days Mr. Incoul was much occupied. He left the house
early and returned to it late. One afternoon he sent for Karl. Since
the return to Paris the courier’s duties had not been arduous; they
consisted chiefly in keeping out of the way. On this particular
afternoon he was not immediately discoverable, and when at last he
presented himself it was in the expectation that the hour of his
dismissal had struck. He bowed, nevertheless, with the best grace in
the world, and noticing that his employer’s eyes were upon him, gazed
deferentially at the carpet.

Mr. Incoul looked at him in a contemplative way for a moment or two.
“Karl,” he said at last, and Karl raised his eyes.

“Yes, sir.”

“Have you any objections to shaving your whiskers?”

“I, sir? not the slightest.”

“I will be obliged if you will do so. This afternoon you might go to
Cumberland’s and be measured. I have left orders there. Then take
a room at the Meurice; you have money, have you not? Very good,
keep an account of your expenditures. In a week I will send you my
instructions. That will do for to-day.”

An hour later Mr. Incoul was watching a game of baccarat at the Cercle
des Capucines.

Meanwhile Lenox Leigh had given much of his time to the pleasures
of Mirette’s society. In making her acquaintance at Biarritz he had
been actuated partly by the idleness of the moment and partly by the
attracting face of celebrity. He had never known a danseuse; indeed,
heretofore, his acquaintance with women had been limited to those of
his own _monde_, and during the succeeding days he hovered about her
more that he might add a new photograph to a mental album than with any
idea of conquest. She amused him extremely. In her speech she displayed
a recklessness of adjective such as he had never witnessed before. It
was not that she was brilliant, but she possessed that stereotyped form
of repartee which is known as _bagou_, and which the Parisian takes to
naturally and without effort. Mirette seemed to have acquired it in
its supremest expression. One day, for instance, the curiosity of her
circle of admirers was aroused by a young actress who, while painfully
plain, squandered coin with remarkable ease. “Whom do you suppose she
gets the money from?” some one asked, and Mirette without so much
as drawing breath answered serenely, “A blind man.” In spite of the
_bagou_ Mirette was not a Parisian. She was born in the provinces, at
Orléans, and was wont to declare herself a lineal descendant of Joan
of Arc. She lied with perfect composure; if reproached she curled her
lips. “Lies whiten the teeth,” she would say, an argument which it was
impossible to refute.

Under the empire she would have been a success; under a republic she
complained of the difficulty of making two ends meet. Now Lenox was not
rich, but he was an American, and the Americans have assumed in Paris
the position which the English once held. Their coffers are considered
inexhaustible. On this subject, thanks to Mrs. Mackay, Mr. Incoul, the
Vanderbilts, the Astors and a dozen others, there is now no doubt in
the mind of the French. To be an American is to be a Vesuvius of gold
pieces.

As a native of the land of millions, Lenox found that his earliest
attentions were received with smiles, and in time when a Russian became
so scratched that the Tartar was visible, Mirette welcomed him with
undisguised favor.

Like many another, Lenox had his small vanities; he would have liked
to have thought himself indispensable to Maida’s happiness, but in her
absence he did not object to being regarded as the _cavaliere servente_
of the first lady of the ballet. Between the two women the contrast
was striking. Mirette, as has been hinted, was reckless of adjective;
she was animal, imperious, and at times frankly vulgar. Maida was
her antithesis. She shrank from coarseness as from a deformity.
Both represented Love, but they represented the extremes. One was
as ignorant of virtue as the other was unconscious of vice. One was
Mylitta, the other Psyche. Had the difference been less accentuated,
it would have jarred. But the transition was immeasurable. It was like
a journey from the fjords of Norway to the jungles of Hindustan. That
Psyche was regretted goes without the need of telling, but Mylitta has
enchantments which are said to lull regret.

In the second week of October the bathing was still delicious. The
waves encircled one in a large, abrupt embrace. Mirette would have
liked to remain, the beach was a daily triumph for her. There was not
a woman in the world who could have held herself in the scantiest of
costumes, under the fire of a thousand eyes, as gracefully as she. No
sedan-chair for her indeed. No hurrying, no running, no enveloping
wrap. No pretense or attempt to avoid the scrutiny of the bystanders.
There was nothing of this for her. She crossed the entire width of
sand, calmly, slowly, an invitation on her lips and with the walk and
majesty of a queen. The amateurs as usual were tempted to applaud.
It was indeed a triumph, an advertisement to boot, and one which she
would have liked to prolong. But she was needed at the Opéra and so she
returned to Paris accompanied by Lenox Leigh.

In Paris it is considered inconvenient for a pretty woman to go about
on foot, and as for cabs, where is the self-respecting chorus-girl who
would consent to be seen in one? Mirette was very positive on this
point and Lenox agreed with her thoroughly. He did not, however, for
that reason offer to provide an equipage. Indeed the wherewithal was
lacking. He had spent more money at Biarritz than he had intended,
perhaps ten times the amount that he would have spent at Newport or at
Cowes, and his funds were nearly exhausted.

As every one is aware a banker is the last person in the world to be
consulted on matters of finance. If a client has money in his pocket a
banker can transfer it to his own in an absolutely painless manner, but
if the client’s pocket is empty what banker, out of an opéra-bouffe,
was ever willing to fill it? Lenox reflected over this and was at a
loss how to act. The firm on whom his drafts were drawn held nothing on
their ledgers to his credit. He visited them immediately on arriving
and was given a letter which for the moment he fancied might contain
a remittance. But it bore the Paris postmark and the address was in
Maida’s familiar hand. As he looked at it he forgot his indigence,
his heart gave an exultant throb. He had promised himself that when
he met her again matters should go on very much as they had before,
and he had further promised himself that so soon as his former footing
was re-established he would give up Mirette. He was therefore well
pleased when the note was placed in his hands. It had a faint odor of
orris, and he opened it as were he unfolding a lace handkerchief. But
from what has gone before it will be understood that his pleasure was
short lived. The note was brief and categoric, he read it almost at a
glance, and when he had possessed himself of the contents he felt that
the determination conveyed was one from which there was no appeal, or
rather one from which any appeal would be useless. He looked at the
note again. The handwriting suggested an unaccustomed strength, and in
the straight, firm strokes he read the irrevocable. “It is done,” he
muttered. “I can write Finis over that.” He looked again at the note
and then tore it slowly into minute scraps, and watched them flutter
from him.

He went out to the street and there his earlier preoccupation
returned. It would be a month at least before a draft could be sent,
and meanwhile, though he had enough for his personal needs, he had
nothing with which to satisfy Mirette’s caprices. _Et elle en avait,
cette dame!_ The thought of separating from her did not occur to him,
or if it did it was in that hazy indistinguishable form in which
eventualities sometimes visit the perplexed. If Maida’s note had been
other, he would have washed his hands of Mirette, but now apparently
she was the one person on the Continent who cared when he came and
when he went. In his present position he was like one who, having
sprained an ankle, learns the utility of a crutch. The idea of losing
it was not agreeable. Beside, the knowledge that his intimacy with the
woman had been envied by grandees with unnumbered hats was to him a
source of something that resembled consolation.

Presently he reached the boulevard. He was undecided what to do or
where to turn, and as he loitered on the curb the silver head of a
stick was waved at him from a passing cab; in a moment the vehicle
stopped. May alighted and shook him by the hand.

“I am on my way to the Capucines,” he explained, in his blithesome
stutter. “There’s a big game on; why not come, too?”

“A big game of what?”

“B-b, why baccarat of course. What did you suppose? M-marbles?”

Lenox fumbled in his waistcoat pocket. “Yes, I’ll go,” he said.

Five minutes later he was standing in a crowded room before a green
table. He had never gambled, and hardly knew one card from another,
but baccarat can be learned with such facility that after two deals a
raw recruit can argue with a veteran as to whether it is better to
stand on five or to draw. Lenox watched the flight of notes, gold and
counters. He listened to the monotonous calls: _J’en donne! Carte!
Neuf!_ The end of the table at which he stood seemed to be unlucky.
He moved to the other, and presently he leaned over the shoulder of a
gamester and put down a few louis. In an hour he left the room with
twenty-seven thousand francs.

A fraction of it he put in his card-case, the rest he handed to
Mirette. It was not a large sum, but its dimensions were satisfactory
to her. “_Ce p’tit chat_,” she said to herself, “_je savais bien
qu’il ne ferait pas le lapin_.” And of the large azure notes she made
precisely one bite.

Thereafter for some weeks things went on smoothly enough. Mirette’s
mornings were passed at rehearsals, but usually the afternoons were
free, and late in the day she would take Lenox to the Cascade, or meet
him there and drive back with him to dinner. In the evenings there was
the inevitable theatre, with supper afterwards at some _cabaret à la
mode_. And sometimes when she was over-fatigued, Lenox would go to the
club and try a hand at baccarat.

He was not always so fortunate as on the first day, but on the
whole his good luck was noticeable. It is possible, however, that he
found the excitement enervating. He had been used to a much quieter
existence, one that if not entirely praiseworthy was still outwardly
decorous, and suddenly he had been pitch-forked into that narrowest of
circles which is called Parisian life. He may have liked it at first,
as one is apt to like any novelty, but to nerves that are properly
attuned a little of its viciousness goes a very great way.

It may be that it was beginning to exert its usual dissolvent effect.
In any event Lenox, who all his life had preferred water to wine, found
absinthe grateful in the morning.

One afternoon, shortly after the initial performance of the new
ballet, he went from his hotel to the apartment which Mirette occupied
in the Rue Pierre-Charon. He was informed that she was not at home.
He questioned the servant as to her whereabouts, but the answers he
received were vague and unsatisfactory. He then drove to the Cascade,
but Mirette did not appear. After dinner he made sure of finding her.
In this expectation he was again disappointed.

The next day his success was no better. He questioned the servant
uselessly. “Madame was not at home, she had left no word.” To each
of his questions the answer was invariable. It was evident that the
servant had been coached, and it was equally evident that at least for
the moment his companionship was not a prime necessity to the first
lady of the ballet.

As he left the house he bit his lip. That Mirette should be capricious
was quite in the order of things, but that she should treat him like
the first comer was a different matter. When he had last seen her, her
manner had left nothing to be desired, and suddenly, without so much as
a p. p. c., her door was shut, and not shut as it might have been by
accident; no, it was persistently, purposely closed.

Presently he reached the Champs-Elysées. It was Sunday. A stream of
carriages flooded the avenue, and the sidewalks were thronged with
ill-dressed people. The crowd increased his annoyance. The possibility
of being jostled irritated him, the spectacle of dawdling shop-keepers
filled him with disgust. He hailed a cab in which to escape; the
driver paid no attention; he hailed another; the result was the same,
and then in the increasing exasperation of the moment he felt that
he hated Paris. A fat man with pursed lips and an air of imbecile
self-satisfaction brushed against him. He could have turned and slapped
him in the face.

Without, however, committing any overt act of violence, he succeeded
in reaching his hotel. There he sought the reading-room, but he found
it fully occupied by one middle-aged Englishwoman, and leaving her in
undisturbed possession of the _Times_, he went to his own apartment. A
day or two before he had purchased a copy of a much applauded novel,
and from it he endeavored to extract a sedative. Mechanically he turned
the pages. His eyes glanced over and down them, resting at times
through fractions of an hour on a single line, but the words conveyed
no message to his mind, his thoughts were elsewhere, they surged
through vague perplexities and hovered over shadowy enigmas, until at
last he discovered that he was trying to read in the dark.

He struck a light and found that it was nearly seven. “I will dress,”
he told himself, “and dine at the club.” In half an hour he was on his
way to the Capucines. The streets were still crowded and the Avenue de
l’Opéra in which his hotel was situated, vibrated as were it the main
artery of the capital. As he approached the boulevard he thought that
it would perhaps be wiser to dine at a restaurant; he was discomfited
and he was not sure but that the myriad tongue of gossip might not
be already busy with the cause of his discomfiture. He did not feel
talkative, and were he taciturn at the club he knew that it would
be remarked. Bignon’s was close at hand. Why not dine there? In his
indecision he halted before an adjacent shop and stood for a moment
looking in the window, apparently engrossed by an assortment of strass
and imitation pearls. The proprietress was lounging in the doorway.
“_Si Monsieur veut entrer_”--she began seductively, but he turned from
her; as he did so, a brougham drew up before the curb and Mirette
stepped from it.

Lenox, in his surprise at the unexpected, did not at first notice that
a man had also alighted. He moved forward and would have spoken, but
Mirette looked him straight in the eyes, as who should say _Allez vous
faire lanlaire, mon cher_, and passed on into the restaurant.

Her companion had hurried a little in advance to open the door, and as
he swung it aside and Mirette entered Lenox caught a glimpse of his
face. It was meaningless enough, and yet not entirely unfamiliar. “Who
is the cad,” he wondered. Yet, after all, what difference did it make?
He could not blame the man. As for jealousy, the word was meaningless
to him. It was his _amour propre_ that suffered. He smiled a trifle
grimly to himself and continued his way.

At the corner was a large picture shop. An old man wrapped in a loose
fur coat stood at the window looking at the painting of a little girl.
The child was alone in a coppice and seemingly much frightened at the
approach of a flock of does. Unconsciously Lenox stopped also. He had
been so bewildered by the suddenness of the cut that he did not notice
whether he was walking or standing still.

And so it was for this, he mused, that admittance had been denied him.
But why could she not have had the decency to tell him not to come
instead of letting him run there like a tradesman with a small bill?
Certainly he had deserved better things of her than that. It was so
easy for a woman to break gracefully. A note, a word, and if the man
insists a second note, a second word; after that the man, if he is
decently bred, can do nothing but raise his hat and speed the parting
guest. Beside, why would she want to break with him and take up with
a fellow who looked like a barber from the Grand Hôtel? Who was he any
way?

His eyes rested on the picture of the little girl. The representation
of her childish fright almost diverted his thoughts, but all the while
there was an undercurrent which in some dim way kept telling him that
he had seen the man’s face before. And as he groped in his memory the
picture of the child faded as might a picture in a magic lantern, and
in its place, vaguely at first and gradually better defined, he saw,
standing in the moonlight, on a white road, a coach and four. To the
rear was the terrace of a hôtel, and beyond was a shimmering bay like
to that which he had seen at San Sebastian.

“My God,” he cried aloud, “it’s Incoul’s courier!”

The old man in the fur coat looked at him nervously, and shrank away.



CHAPTER XV.

MAY EXPOSTULATES.


That evening the Wainwarings and the Blydenburgs dined at the house in
the Parc Monceau. The Blydenburgs had long since deserted Biarritz, but
the return journey had been broken at Luchon, and in that resort the
days had passed them by like chapters in a stupid fairy tale.

They were now on their way home; the pleasures of the Continent had
begun to pall, and during the dinner, Mr. Blydenburg took occasion to
express his opinion on the superiority of American institutions over
those of all other lands, an opinion to which he lent additional weight
by repeating from time to time that New York was quite good enough for
him.

There were no other guests. Shortly before ten the Wainwarings left,
and as Blydenburg was preparing to take his daughter back to the hotel,
Mr. Incoul said that he would be on the boulevard later, and did he
care to have him he would take him to the club, a proposition to which
Blydenburg at once agreed.

“Harmon,” said Maida, when they were alone, “are you to be away long?”

During dinner she had said but little. Latterly she had complained of
sleeplessness, and to banish the insomnia a physician had recommended
the usual bromide of potassium. As she spoke, Mr. Incoul noticed that
she was pale.

“Possibly not,” he answered.

She had been standing before the hearth, her bare arm resting on the
velvet of the mantel, and her eyes following the flicker of the burning
logs--but now she turned to him.

“Do you remember our pact?” she asked.

He looked at her but said nothing. She moved across the room to where
he stood; one hand just touched his sleeve, the other she raised to his
shoulder and rested it there for a second’s space. Her eyes sought his
own, her head was thrown back a little, from her hair came the perfume
of distant oases, her lips were moist and her neck was like a jasmine.

“Harmon,” she continued in a tone as low as were she speaking to
herself, “we have come into our own.”

And then the caress passed from his sleeve, her hand fell from his
shoulder, she glided from him with the motion of a swan.

“Come to me when you return,” she added. Her face had lost its pallor,
it was flushed, but her voice was brave.

Yet soon, when the door closed behind him, her courage faltered. In the
eyes of him whose name she bore and to whom for the first time she had
made offer of her love, she had seen no answering affection--merely a
look which a man might give who wins a long-contested game of chess.
But presently she reassured herself. If at the avowal her husband had
seemed triumphant, in very truth what was he else? She turned to a
mirror that separated the windows and gazed at her own reflection.
Perhaps he did think the winning a triumph. Many another would have
thought so, too. She was entirely in white; her arms and neck were
unjeweled. “I look like a bride,” she told herself, and then, with
the helplessness of regret, she remembered that brides wear orange
blossoms, but she had none.

The idler in Paris is apt to find Sunday evenings dull. There are many
houses open, it is true, but not infrequently the idler is disinclined
to receptions, and as to the theatres, it is _bourgeois_ to visit
them. There is, therefore, little left save the clubs, and on this
particular Sunday evening, when Mr. Incoul and Blydenburg entered the
Capucines, they found it tolerably filled.

A lackey in silk knee breeches and livery of pale blue came to take
their coats. It was not, however, until Blydenburg had been helped off
with his that he noticed that Mr. Incoul had preferred to keep his own
on.

The two men then passed out of the vestibule into a room in which was
a large table littered with papers, and from there into another room
where a man whom Mr. Incoul recognized as De la Dèche was dozing on a
lounge, and finally a room was reached in which most of the members had
assembled.

“It reminds me of a hotel,” said Blydenburg.

“It is,” his friend answered shortly. He seemed preoccupied as were he
looking for some one or something; and presently, as they approached a
green table about which a crowd was grouped, Blydenburg pulled him by
the sleeve.

“That’s young Leigh dealing,” he exclaimed.

To this Mr. Incoul made no reply. He put his hand in a lower outside
pocket of his overcoat and assured himself that a little package which
he had placed there had not become disarranged.

On hearing his name, Lenox looked up from his task. A Frenchman who had
just entered the room nodded affably to him and asked if he were lucky
that evening.

“Lucky!” cried some one who had caught the question, “I should say so.
His luck is something insolent; he struck a match a moment ago and _it
lit_.”

The whole room roared. French matches are like French cigars in this,
there is nothing viler. It is just possible that the parental republic
has views of its own as to the injuriousness of smoking, and seeks to
discourage it as it would a vice. But this is as it may be. Every one
laughed and Lenox with the others. Mr. Incoul caught his eye and bowed
to him across the table. Blydenburg had already smiled and bowed in the
friendliest way. He did not quite care to see Mrs. Manhattan’s brother
dealing at baccarat, but after all, when one is at Rome--

“Do you care to play?” Mr. Incoul asked.

“Humph! I might go a louis or two for a flyer.”

They had both been standing behind the croupier, but Mr. Incoul then
left his companion, and passing around the table stopped at a chair
which was directly on Lenox’s left. In this chair a man was seated, and
before him was a small pile of gold. As the cards were dealt the gold
diminished, and when it dwindled utterly and at last disappeared, the
man rose from his seat and Mr. Incoul dropped in it.

From the overcoat pocket, in which he had previously felt, he drew out
a number of thousand-franc notes; they were all unfolded, and under
them was a little package. The notes, with the package beneath them,
were placed by Mr. Incoul where the pile of gold had stood. One of the
notes he then threw out in the semicircle. A man seated next to him
received the cards which Lenox dealt.

“I give,” Lenox called in French.

“Card,” the man answered.

It was a face card that he received.

“Six,” Lenox announced.

Mr. Incoul’s neighbor could boast of nothing. The next cards that were
dealt on that end of the table went to a man beyond. Mr. Incoul knew
that did that man not hold higher cards than the banker the cards in
the succeeding deal would come to him.

He took a handful of notes and reached them awkwardly enough across the
space from which Lenox dealt; for one second his hand rested on the
talion, then he said, “_À cheval._” Which, being interpreted, means
half on one side and half on the other. The croupier took the notes,
and placed them in the proper position. “Nine,” Lenox called; he had
won at both ends of the table.

The croupier drew in the stakes with his rake. “Gentlemen,” he droned,
“make your game.”

Mr. Incoul pushed out five thousand francs. The next cards on the left
were dealt to him.

“Nine,” Lenox called again.

And then a very singular thing happened. The croupier leaned forward to
draw in Mr. Incoul’s money, but just as the rake touched the notes, Mr.
Incoul drew them away.

“_Monsieur!_” exclaimed the croupier.

The eyes of every one were upon him. He pushed his chair back, and
stood up, holding in his hand the two cards which had been dealt him,
then throwing them down on the table, he said very quietly, but in a
voice that was perfectly distinct, “These cards are marked.”

A moment before the silence had indeed been great, but during the
moment that followed Mr. Incoul’s announcement, it was so intensified
that it could be felt. Then abruptly words leapt from the mouths
of the players and bystanders. The croupier turned, protesting his
innocence of any complicity. There may have been some who listened, but
if there were any such, they were few; the entire room was sonorous
with loud voices; the hubbub was so great that it woke De la Dèche; he
came in at one door rubbing his eyes; at another a crowd of lackeys,
startled at the uproar, had suddenly assembled. And by the chair which
he had pushed from him and which had fallen backwards to the ground,
Mr. Incoul stood, motionless, looking down at Lenox Leigh.

In the abruptness of the accusation Lenox had not immediately
understood that it was directed against him, but when he looked into
the inimical faces that fronted and surrounded him, when he heard the
anger of the voices, when he saw hands stretched for the cards which he
dealt, and impatient eyes examining their texture, and when at last,
though the entire scene was compassed in the fraction of a minute, when
he heard an epithet and saw that he was regarded as a Greek, he knew
that the worst that could be had been done.

He turned, still sitting, and looked his accuser in the face, and in
it he read a message which to all of those present was to him alone
intelligible. He bowed his head. In a vision like to that which is
said to visit the last moments of a drowning man, he saw it all: the
reason of Maida’s unexplained departure, the coupling of Mirette with
a servant, and this supreme reproach made credible by the commonest of
tricks, the application of a cataplasm, a new deck of cards on those
already in use. It was vengeance indeed.

He sprang from his seat. He was a handsome fellow and the pallor of his
face made his dark hair seem darker and his dark eyes more brilliant.
“It is a plot,” he cried. He might as well have asked alms of statues.
The cards had been examined, the _maquillage_ was evident. “Put him
out!” a hundred voices were shouting; “_à la porte!_”

Suddenly the shouting subsided and ceased. Lenox craned his neck to
discover who his possible defender might be, and caught a glimpse of De
la Dèche, brushing with one finger some ashes from his coat sleeve, and
looking about him with an indolent, deprecatory air.

“Gentlemen,” he heard him say, “the committee will act in the matter;
meanwhile, for the honor of the club, I beg you will not increase the
scandal.”

He turned to Lenox and said, with perfect courtesy, “Sir, do me the
favor to step this way.”

Through the parting crowd Lenox followed the duke. In crossing the
room he looked about him. On his way he passed the Frenchman who had
addressed him five minutes before. The man turned aside. He passed
other acquaintances. They all seemed suddenly smitten by the disease
known as _Noli me tangere_. In the doorway was May. Of him he felt
almost sure, but the brute drew back. “Really,” he said, “I must
exp-postulate.”

“Expostulate and be damned,” Lenox gnashed at him. “I am as innocent as
you are.”

In an outer room, where he presently found himself, De La Dèche stood
lighting a cigar; that difficult operation terminated, he said, slowly,
with that rise and fall of the voice which is peculiar to the Parisian
when he wishes to appear impressive:

“You had better go now, and if you will permit me to offer you a bit
of advice, I would recommend you to send a resignation to any clubs of
which you may happen to be a member.”

He touched a bell; a lackey appeared.

“Maxime, get this gentleman’s coat and see him to the door.”



CHAPTER XVI.

THE BARE BODKIN.


Presently Lenox found himself on the boulevard. There was a café near
at hand, and he sat down at one of the tables that lined the sidewalk.
He was dazed as were he in the semi-consciousness of somnambulism. He
gave an order absently, and when some drink was placed before him, he
took it at a gulp.

Under its influence his stupor fell from him. The necessity, the
obligation of proving his innocence presented itself, but, with it,
hand in hand, came the knowledge that such proof was impossible. Even
his luck at play would be taken as corroboratory of the charge. Were he
to say that the marked cards had been placed on the talion by Incoul,
who was there outside the aisles of the insane that would listen to
such a defense? To compel attention, he would be obliged to explain
the act, and state its reason. And that explanation he could never
give. He could not exculpate himself at the cost of a woman’s fame.
Which ever way he turned, dishonor stood before him. The toils into
which he had fallen had been woven with a cunning so devilish in its
clairvoyance that every avenue of escape was closed. He was blockaded
in his own disgrace.

He rested his head in his hand, and moaned aloud. Presently, with the
instinct of a hunted beast, he felt that people were looking at him. He
feared that some of his former acquaintances, on leaving the club, had
passed and seen him sitting there, and among them, perhaps Incoul.

He threw some money in the saucer and hurried away. There were still
many people about. To avoid them he turned into a side street and
walked on with rapid step. Soon he was in the Rue de la Paix. It was
practically deserted. On a corner, a young ruffian in a slouch hat was
humming, “_Ugène, tu m’fais languir_,” and beating time to the measure
with his foot. Just above the Colonne Vendôme the moon rested like a
vagrant, weary of its amble across the sky. But otherwise the street
was solitary. Through its entire length but one shop was open, and as
Lenox approached it a man came out to arrange the shutters. From the
doorway a thin stream of light still filtered on the pavement. In the
window were globes filled with colored liquids, and beyond at a counter
a clerk was tying a parcel.

Lenox entered. “Give me a Privas,” he said, and when the clerk had done
so, he asked him to make up a certain prescription. But to this the man
objected; he could not, he explained, without a physician’s order.

“Here are several,” said Lenox, and he took from his card-case a roll
of azure notes.

The clerk eyed them nervously. They represented over a year’s salary.
He hesitated a moment, “I don’t know,”--and he shook his head, as were
he arguing with himself--“I don’t know whether I am doing right.” And
at once prepared the mixture.

Ten minutes later Lenox was mounting the stair of the hotel at which he
lodged. On reaching his room he put his purchases on a table, poured
out a glass of absinthe, lit a cigarette, and threw himself down on
a lounge. For a while his thoughts roamed among the episodes of the
day, but gradually they drifted into less personal currents. He began
to think of the early legends: of Chiron, the god, renouncing his
immortality; of the Hyperboreans, that fabled people, famous for their
felicity, who voluntarily threw themselves into the sea; of Juno
bringing death to Biton and Cleobis as the highest recompense of their
piety; of Agamedes and Trophonius, praying Apollo for whatever gift he
deemed most advantageous, and in answer to the prayer receiving eternal
sleep.

He reflected on the meaning of these legends, and, as he reflected,
he remembered that the Thracians greeted birth with lamentations and
death with welcoming festivals. He thought of that sage who pitied the
gods because their lives were unending, and of Menander singing the
early demise of the favored. He remembered how Plato had preached to
the happiest people in the world the blessedness of ceaseless sleep;
how the Buddha, teaching that life was but a right to suffer, had
found for the recalcitrant no greater menace than that of an existence
renewed through kalpas of time. Then he bethought him of the promise of
that peace which passeth all understanding, and which the grave alone
fulfills, and he repeated to himself Christ’s significant threat, “In
this life ye shall have tribulation.”

And, as these things came to him, so, too, did the problem of pain.
He reviewed the ravages of that ulcer which has battened on humanity
since the world began. History uncoiled itself before him in a shudder.
In its spasms he saw the myriads that have fought and died for dogmas
that they did not understand, for invented principles of patriotism and
religion, for leaders that they had never seen, for gods more helpless
than themselves.

He saw, too, Nature’s cruelty and her snares. The gift to man of
appetites, which, in the guise of pleasure, veil immedicable pain.
Poison in the richest flowers, the agony that lurks in the grape. He
knew that whoso ate to his hunger, or drank to his thirst, summoned
to him one or more of countless maladies--maladies which parents gave
with their vices to their children, who, in turn, bring forth new
generations that are smitten with all the ills to which flesh is heir.
And he knew that even those who lived most temperately were defenceless
from disorders that come unawares and frighten away one’s nearest
friends. While for those who escaped miasmas and microbes; for those
who asked pleasure, not of the flesh, but of the mind; for those whose
days are passed in study, who seek to learn some rhyme for the reason
of things, who try to gratify the curiosity which Nature has given
them; for such as they, he remembered, there is blindness, paralysis,
and the asylums of the insane.

He thought of the illusions, of love, hope and ambition, illusions
which make life seem a pleasant thing worth living, and which, in
cheating man into a continuance of his right to suffer, make him think
pain an accident and not the rule.

“Surely,” he mused, “the idiot alone is content. He at least has no
illusions; he expects nothing in this world and cares less for another.
Nor is the stupidity of the ordinary run of men without its charm. It
must be a singularly blessed thing not to be sensitive, not to know
what life might be, and not to find its insufficiency a curse. But
there’s the rub. When the reforms of the utopists are one and all
accomplished, what shall man do in his Icaria? A million years hence,
perhaps, physical pain will have been vanquished. Diseases of the body
will no longer exist. Laws will not oppress. Justice will be inherent.
Love will be too far from Nature to know of shame. The earth will be a
garden of pleasure. Industry will have enriched every home. Through an
equitable division of treasures acquired without toil, each one will be
on the same footing as his neighbor. Even envy will have disappeared.
In place of the trials, terrors and superstitions of to-day, man will
enjoy perfect peace. He will no longer labor. When he journeys it will
be through the air. He will be in daily communication with Mars, he
will have measured the Infinite and know the bounds of Space. And in
this Eden in which there will be no forbidden fruit, no ignorance, no
tempter, but where there will be larger flowers, new perfumes, and
a race whose idea of beauty stands to mine as mine does to that of
prehistoric man, a race whose imagination has crossed the frontiers of
the impossible, who have developed new senses, who see colors to which
I am blind, who hear music to which I am deaf, who speak in words of
tormented polish, who have turned art into a plaything and learning
into a birthright, a race that has no curiosity and who accept their
wonderful existence as the rich to-day accept their wealth, in this
Eden, Boredom will be King. The Hyperboreans will have their imitators.
The one surcease will be in death. Yet even that may not be robbed of
its grotesqueness.”

A candle flickered a moment and expired in a splutter of grease. The
agony of the candle aroused him from his revery. “Bah,” he muttered, “I
am becoming a casuist, I argue with myself.”

He mixed himself another absinthe, holding the _carafe_ high in the
air, watching the thin stream of water coalesce with the green drug and
turn with it into an opalescent milk. He toyed for a moment with the
purchases that he had made in the Rue de la Paix, and presently, in
answer to some query which they evoked, the soliloquy began anew.

“After what has happened there is nothing left. I might change my name.
I might go to Brazil or Australia, but with what object? I could not
get away from myself.

                              Da me stesso
    Sempre fuggendo, avrò me sempre appresso.

Beside I don’t care for transplantation. If I had an ambition it would
be a different matter. If I could be a pretty woman up to thirty, a
cardinal up to fifty, and after that the Anti-Christ, it might be worth
while. Failing that I might occupy myself with literature. If I have
not written heretofore, it is because it seems more original not to
do so. But it is not too late. The manufacture of trash is easy, and
it must be a pleasure to the manufacturer to know that it is trash
and that it sells. It must give him a high opinion of the intellect
of his contemporaries. Or when, as happens now and then, a work of
enduring value is produced, and it is condemned, as such works usually
are, the author must take immense delight in the reflection that the
disapproval of imbeciles is the surest acknowledgement of talent, as
it is also its sweetest mead of praise. For me, of course, such praise
is impossible. Were I to write successful failures, it must needs
be under a pseudonym. In which case I would have the consciousness
of being scorned as Lenox Leigh, and admired as John Smith. Beside,
what is there to write about? There is nothing to prove, there is
no certainty, there is not even a criterion of truth. To-morrow
contradicts yesterday, next week will contradict this. On no given
subject are there two people who think and see exactly alike. The book
which pleases me bores my neighbor, and _vice versâ_. One man holds to
the Episcopal Church, another to the Baptist; one man is an atheist,
another a Jew; one man thinks a soprano voice a delicious gift, another
says it is a disease of the larynx, and whatever the divergence of
opinion may be, each one is convinced that he alone is correct.
Supposing, however, that through some chance I were to descend to
posterity in the garb and aspect of a great man. What is a great man?
The shadow of nothing. The obscurest _privat docent_ in Germany could
to-day give points to Newton. And even though Newton’s glory may still
subsist, yet such are the limitations of fame that the great majority
have never heard of it or of him. The foremost conqueror of modern
times, he who fell not through his defeats, but through his victories,
is entombed just across the Seine. And the other day as I passed the
Invalides I heard an intelligent-looking woman ask her companion who
the Napoleon was that lay buried there. Her companion did not know.

“But, even were glory more substantial, what is the applause of
posterity to the ears of the dead? To them honor and ignominy must
be alike unmeaning. No, decidedly, ambition does not tempt me. And
what is there else that tempts? Love seems to me now like hunger, an
unnecessary affliction, productive far more of pain than of pleasure;
the most natural, the most alluring thing of all, see in what plight
it has brought me. Yet it is, I have heard, the ultimate hope of those
who have none. If I relinquish it, what have I left? The satisfaction
of my curiosity as to what the years may hold? But I am indifferent. To
revenge myself on Incoul. Certainly, I would like to cut his heart out
and force it down his throat! But how would it better me? If I could
be transported to the multicolored nights of other worlds, and there
taste of inexperienced pleasures, move in new refinements, lose my own
identity, or pursue a chimera and catch it, it might be worth while,
but, as it is--”

The clock on the mantel rang out four times. Again Lenox started from
his revery. He smiled cynically at himself. “If I continue in that
strain,” he muttered, “it must be that I am drunk.”

But soon his eyes closed again in mental retrospect. “And yet,” he
mused, “life is pleasant; ill spent as mine has been, many times I have
found it grateful. In books, I have often lost the consciousness of my
own identity; now and then music has indeed had the power to take me to
other worlds, to show me fresh horizons and larger life. Maida herself
came to me like a revelation. She gave me a new conception of beauty.
Yes, I have known very many pleasant hours. I was younger then, I
fancy. After all, it is not life that is short, it is youth. When that
goes, as mine seems to have done, outside of solitude there is little
charm in anything. And what is death but isolation? The most perfect
and impenetrable that Nature has devised. And whether that isolation
come to me to-night or decades hence, what matters it? It is odd,
though, how the thought of it unnerves one, and yet, to be logical, I
suppose one should be as uneasy of the chaos which precedes existence
as of the unknowable that follows it. The proper course, I take it, is
to imitate the infant, who faces death without a tremor, and enters it
without regret.”

He stood up, and drawing the curtains aside, looked out into the night.
From below came the rumble of a cart on its way to the Halles, but
otherwise the street was silent. The houses opposite were livid. There
was a faint flicker from the street lamps, and above were the trembling
stars. The moon had gone, but there was yet no sign of coming dawn.

He left the window. The candles had burned down; he found fresh ones
and lighted them. As he did so, he caught sight of himself in the
glass. His eyes were haggard and rimmed with circles. It was owing to
the position of the candles, he thought, and he raised them above his
head and looked again. There was something on his forehead just above
the temple, and he put the candles down to brush that something away.
He looked again, it was still there. He peered into the glass and
touched it with his hand. It was nothing, he found, merely a lock of
hair that had turned from black to white.

He poured out more absinthe, and put the bottle down empty. Before
drinking it he undid the package which he had bought from the chemist.
First he took from it a box about three inches long. In it was a toy
syringe, and with it two little instruments. One of these he adjusted
in the projecting tube, and with his finger felt carefully of the
point. It was sharp as a needle, and beneath the point was an orifice
like a shark’s mouth, in miniature.

Then he took from the package a phial that held a brown liquid, in
which he detected a shade like to that of gold. The odor was dull and
heavy. He put the phial down and stood for a moment irresolute. He had
looked into the past and now he looked into the future. But in its
Arcadias he saw nothing, save his own image suspended from a gibbet. He
looked again almost wistfully; no, there was nothing. He threw off his
coat and rolled up his sleeve. From the phial he filled the syringe,
and with the point pricked the bare arm and sent the liquid spurting
into the flesh. Three times he did this. He reached for the absinthe
and left it untasted.

Into his veins had come an unknown, a delicious languor. He sank into
a chair. The walls of the room dissolved into cataracts of light and
dazzling steel. The flooring changed to running crimson, and from
that to black, and back to red again. From the ceiling came flood
after flood of fused, intermingled and oscillating colors. His eyes
closed. The light became more intense, and burned luminous through the
lids. In his ears filtered a harmony, faint as did it come from afar,
and singular as were it won from some new consonance of citherns and
clavichords, and suddenly it rose into tumultuous vibrations, striated
with series of ascending scales. Then as suddenly ceased, drowned in
claps of thunder.

The lights turned purple and glowed less vividly, as though veils were
being lowered between him and them. But still the languor continued,
sweeter ever and more enveloping, till from very sweetness it was
almost pain.

The room grew darker, the colors waned, the lights behind the falling
veils sank dim, and dimmer, fading, one by one; a single spark
lingered, it wavered a moment, and vanished into night.



CHAPTER XVII.

MAIDA’S NUPTIALS.


For some time after Lenox had gone there was much excitement at
the Capucines. But gradually the excitement wore itself out, as
excitement always does. Baccarat for that night, at least, had lost its
allurement. The habitués dispersed, some to other clubs, some to their
homes, and soon the great rooms were deserted by all, save one deaf
man, who, undisturbed by the commotion, had given himself up to the
task of memorizing Sarcey’s feuilleton.

Among the earliest to leave was Mr. Incoul. “Come,” he said to
Blydenburg, “you have seen enough for one evening,” and Blydenburg got
into his coat and followed his companion to the street. They walked
some distance before either of them spoke, but when they reached the
hotel at which Blydenburg was stopping, that gentleman halted at an
adjacent lamp-post.

“I must say, Incoul,” he began, “and I hope you will take it very
kindly--I must say that I think you might have left that matter for
some one else to discover. Why, hang it all! Leigh is a friend of your
wife’s; you know all his people; to you the money was nothing. Really,
Incoul, damn me if I don’t think it hard-hearted. I don’t care that for
what those frog-eaters say; the cards you said were marked, don’t weigh
with me in the least; no, not an atom; it is my opinion that the young
man was just as innocent as a child unborn. No, sir, you can’t make me
believe that he--that he--I hate to say the word--that he cheated. Why,
man alive! I had my eyes on him the whole time. A better-looking fellow
never breathed, and he just chucked out the cards one after another
without so much as looking at them; it seemed to me that he didn’t care
a rap whether he won or lost. I put down a louis or two myself, and he
never noticed it; he left the whole thing to the croupier, and now that
I come to think of it--”

“Yes, I know,” Mr. Incoul interrupted. “I am sorry myself.”

“Well then I’ll be shot if you look so. Good night to you,” and with
that Blydenburg stamped up to the hotel, rang the bell, and slammed the
door behind him.

Mr. Incoul walked on. The annoyance of his friend affected him like
a tonic; he continued his way refreshed. Presently he reached a cab
stand. The clock marked 11.50. He had other duties, and he let himself
into an Urbaine and told the man to drive to the Parc Monceau. On
arriving he tossed a coin to the cabby and entered the house.

In the vestibule a footman started from a nap. Mr. Incoul went up
to the floor above and waited, the door ajar. For a little space he
heard the man moving about, whispering to a fellow footman. But soon
the whispering ceased. Evidently the men had gone. Assured of this,
he opened a drawer and took from it a steel instrument, one that in
certain respects resembled a key; the haft, however, was unusually
large, the end was not blunt but hollow, yet fashioned like a pincer,
and the projecting tongue which, in the case of an ordinary key serves
to lock and unlock, was absent. This he put in his pocket. He went out
in the hall and listened again. The house was very quiet. He made sure
that the footmen had really gone, and walking on tip-toe to his wife’s
door, rapped ever so noiselessly.

“Is it you, Harmon?” he heard her ask. Had he wished he had no time to
answer. A key turned in the lock, the door was opened, and before him
Maida stood, smiling a silent welcome to his first visit to her room.

As he entered and closed the door her lips parted; she would have
spoken, but something in his face repelled her; the smile fell from her
face and the words remained unuttered.

He stood a moment rubbing his hands frigidly, as were he cold, yet
the room was not chilly. There was no fire in the grate, but two gas
fixtures gave out sufficient heat to warm it unassisted. Then presently
he looked at her. She had thrown herself on a lounge near the hearth,
and was certainly most fair to see. Her white gown had been replaced by
one of looser cut; her neck and arms were no longer bare, but one foot
shod in fur that the folds of the skirt left visible was stockingless
and the wonder of her hair was unconfined.

He found a chair and seated himself before her. “Madam,” he said at
last, “I am here at your request.”

The girl started as were she stung.

“You were obliging enough this evening to inform me that we had come
into our own. What is it?” His eyebrows were raised and about his thin
lips was just the faintest expression of contempt. “What is it into
which we have come?”

Maida grew whiter than the whitest ermine; she moved her hand as would
she answer, but he motioned her to be silent.

“I will tell you,” he continued in his measured way, “and you will
pardon me if the telling is long. Before it was my privilege to make
your acquaintance I was not, as you know, a bachelor; my wife”--and
he accentuated the possessive pronoun as had he had but one--“was to
me very dear. When I lost her, I thought at first there was nothing
left me, but with time I grew to believe that life might still be
livable. It is easy for you to understand that in my misfortune I
was not dogmatic. I knew that no one is perfect, and I felt that if
my wife had seemed perfection to me it was because we understood and
loved one another. Then, too, as years passed I found my solitude very
tedious. I was, it is true, no longer young, but I was not what the
world has agreed to call old; and I thought that among the gracious
women whom I knew it might be possible for me to find one who would
consent to dispel the solitude, and who might perhaps be able to
bring me some semblance of my former happiness. It was under these
conditions that I met you. You remember what followed. I saw that you
were beautiful, more so, indeed, than my wife, and I imagined that you
were honest and self-respecting--in fact, a girl destined to become a
noble woman. It was then that I ventured to address you. You told me
of your poverty; I begged you to share the money which was mine; you
told me that you did not love me. I answered that I would wait. I was
glad to share the money with you. I was willing to wait. I knew that
you would adorn riches; I believed that I could win your love, and I
felt that the winning would be pleasant. I even admired you for the
agreement which you suggested. I thought it could not come from any
one not wholly refined and mistress of herself. In short, believing in
your frankness, I offered you what I had to give. In return what did I
ask? The opportunity to be with you, the opportunity of winning your
affection and therewith a little trust, a little confidence and the
proper keeping of my name. Surely I was not extravagant in my demands.
And you, for all your frankness, omitted to tell me the one thing
essential: you omitted to tell me--”

“Do not say it,” the girl wailed; “do not say it.” The tears were
falling, her form was rocked with sobs. She was piteous before him who
knew not what pity was.

He had risen and she crouched as though she feared he had risen to
strike her.

“Of your lover whom I caught to-night cheating at cards.”

He had struck her indeed. She looked up through her tears astonished at
the novelty of the blow, and yet still she did not seem to understand.
She stared at him vacantly as though uncertain of the import of his
words.

“Of your lover,” he repeated; “the blackleg.”

She rose from her seat. She was trembling from head to foot. To
support herself she stretched a hand to the mantel and clutching it,
she steadied herself. Then, still looking him in the face, she said
huskily, “You tell me Lenox Leigh cheated at cards? It is not true!”

“He _is_ your lover, then!” hissed Incoul, and into his green, dilated
eyes there came a look of such hideous hate that the girl shrank back.

In her fear she held out her arms as though to shield herself from him,
and screamed aloud. “You are going to kill me!” she cried.

“Be quiet,” he answered, “you will wake the house.”

But the order was needless. The girl fell backwards on the lounge. He
stood and looked at her without moving. Presently she moaned; her eyes
opened and her sobs broke out afresh. And still he gazed as though in
the enjoyment of a hope fulfilled.

“Now get to your bed,” he said, at last.

His eyes searched the room. On a table was a pink box labeled bromide
of potassium, and filled with powders wrapped in tin foil. He opened
and smelled of one and then opened another and poured the contents of
both into a glass which he half filled with water.

“Drink it,” he said.

She obeyed dumbly. The tears fell into the glass as she drank. But in a
little while her sobs came only intermittently. “I will sleep now,” she
murmured, helplessly. “I think I will sleep now.” Yet still he waited.
Her head had fallen far back on the sofa, her hair drooped about her
shoulders, her lips were gray.

He took her in his arms and carried her to the bed. One of her furred
slippers dropped on the way, the other he took from her. The foot it
held hardly filled his palm. He loosened her gown. He would have taken
it off but he feared to awake her. Was she really asleep, he wondered.
He peered down at her eyelids but they did not move. Surely she slept.
A door that led to a dressing-room was open. He closed it. The chair in
which he had sat he restored to its original position. Then he turned
out the gas. On each of the fixtures his fingers rested the fraction of
a minute longer than was necessary. He groped to the door, opened it
noiselessly and listened. There was no sound. The house was still as a
tomb. He closed the door behind him and drawing the nameless instrument
from his pocket he inserted it carefully in the keyhole, gave it a
quick turn and went to his room.



CHAPTER XVIII.

MR. INCOUL GOES OVER THE ACCOUNTS.


There is a saying to the effect that any one who walks long enough in
front of the Grand Hôtel will, in the course of time, encounter all his
acquaintances, past, present and to be. On the second day after the
dinner in the Parc Monceau, Mr. Blydenburg crossed the boulevard. It
was an unpleasant afternoon of the kind which is frequent in the early
winter: the air was damp and penetrating, and the sky presented that
unrelieved and cheerless pallor of which Paris is believed to be the
unique possessor. Mr. Blydenburg’s spirits were affected; he was ill at
ease and inclined to attribute his depression to the rawness of the air
and the blanched sky above him. He was to leave Paris on the morrow,
and he felt that he would be glad to shake its mud from his feet. He
was then on the way to his banker’s to close an account, and as he
trudged along, with an umbrella under his arm and his trousers turned
up, in spite of the prospect of departure he was not in a contented or
satisfied frame of mind.

For many hours previous he had cross-questioned himself in regard
to Incoul. He knew that in speaking out his mind he had done right,
yet he could not help perceiving that right-doing and outspokenness
are not always synonymous with the best breeding. Truth certainly
is attractive, particularly to him who tells it, but one has to be
hospitably inclined to receive it at all times as a welcome guest.
Beside, he told himself, Incoul was a man to whom remonstrance was
irksome, he chafed at it no matter what its supporting truths might
be. Perhaps then it would have been better had he held his tongue.
Incoul was his oldest friend, he could not afford to lose him; at his
time of life the making of new ones was difficult. And yet did he seek
him in a conciliatory mood it would be tantamount to acknowledging
that Incoul had been in the right, and the more he thought the matter
over the more convinced he became that Incoul was in the wrong. Leigh,
he could have sworn, was innocent. The charge that had been brought
against him was enough to make a mad dog blush. It was preposterous on
the face of it. Then, too, the young man had been given no opportunity
to defend himself. The honest-hearted gentleman did not make it plain
to his own mind how Leigh could have defended himself even had the
opportunity been offered, but he waived objections; his faith was firm.
He was enough of a logician to understand that circumstantial evidence,
however strong, is not unrebuttable proof, and he assured himself,
unless the young man confessed his guilt, that he at least would never
believe it.

He was not, therefore, in a contented or satisfied frame of mind; he
was irresolute how to act to Incoul; he did not wish to lose an old
friend and he was physically unable to be unjust to a new one. After
crossing the boulevard he passed the Grand Hôtel and just as he left
the wide portals behind him he saw Mr. Wainwaring with whom two days
before he had dined in the Parc Monceau. He bowed and would have
continued his way, but Mr. Wainwaring stopped him.

“You have heard, have you not?” he asked excitedly, “you have heard
about Mrs. Incoul?”

“Heard what?”

“It appears that on going to bed on Sunday night she turned the gas on
instead of turning it off. They smelled the gas in the hall and tried
to get into the room, but the door was locked; finally they broke it
down. They found her unconscious though still breathing; they worked
over her for five hours, but it was no use.”

Blydenburg grounded his umbrella on the pavement for support. “Good
God!” he muttered. “Good God!”

“Yes,” Mr. Wainwaring continued, “it is terrible! A sweeter girl
never lived. My daughter knew her intimately; she went there this
morning to see her and learned of it at the door. I have just been up
there myself. I thought Incoul might see me, but he couldn’t. Utterly
prostrated I suppose. I can understand that. We all know how devoted he
was. He will never get over it--never.”

Blydenburg still held to his umbrella for support.

“I must go there,” he said.

“Yes, go by all means; he will see you, of course. Poor Incoul! I am
heartily sorry for him. After all, wealth is not happiness, is it?”

At this platitude Blydenburg would have gone, but Mr. Wainwaring had
more news to impart. “You know about young Leigh, Mrs. Manhattan’s
brother, don’t you?” he continued.

Blydenburg looked down at his umbrella in a weary way.

“Yes, I was there,” he answered, “but I don’t believe it.”

“Oh, you mean that affair at the club. Well, it appears that it
is true. From what I make out of the papers, he went to his hotel
afterwards, and took a dose of morphine. It was his only way out of it.
I couldn’t bear him, could you?”

Blydenburg nodded vacantly. “He must have been guilty.”

“As to that there is no doubt. De la Dèche says it is a wonder he was
not caught before. Well, good day; tell Incoul how profoundly grieved
we all are. Good day.”

Presently Blydenburg found himself in a cab. He was a trifle dazed at
what he had heard. He was not brilliant; he was very tiresome at times,
the sort of a man that likes big words and small dictionaries, yet
somehow he was lovable and more human than many far cleverer than he.
To his own misfortune he had a heart, and in disasters like these it
bled. He would have crossed the Continent to bring a moment’s pleasure
to the girl that had been asphyxiated in her bed, and he would have
given his daughter to the man who had been choked down to the grave.
Then, too, as nearly as he could see, he had wronged Incoul and Incoul
was in great grief. As the Urbaine rolled on, his thoughts did not grow
nimbler. In his head was a full, aching sensation; he felt benumbed,
and raised the collar of his coat. Soon the cab stopped before the
house in the Parc Monceau. He had no little set speech prepared; he
wanted merely to take his friend by the hand and let him feel his
sympathy unspoken, but when the footman came in answer to his ring, he
was told that Mr. Incoul could see no one. He went back to his cab. It
had begun to rain, but he did not notice it, and left the window open.

As the cab rolled down the street again, Mr. Incoul, who had been
occupied with the morning paper, sent for the courier.

“Karl,” he said, when the man appeared, “I will go over your accounts.”


THE END.


PARIS, _January-March, 1887_.



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_SUMMER READING._

MR. INCOUL’S MISADVENTURE.

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SOCIETY VERSE

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FIRST EDITION OF AN ORIGINAL WORK BY LEIGH HUNT.

THE BOOK OF THE SONNET.

Comprising an Essay on the Cultivation, History and Varieties of the
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_SHAKESPEARE IN FACT AND IN CRITICISM._

BY

APPLETON MORGAN, A.M., LL.B.,

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_Author of “Memoir and Recollections of Ralph Waldo Emerson,” &c._

12mo, pp. 512, cloth, gilt tops, uncut edges. Price, $1.50.

The sale, within ten months, of two editions of this work encouraged
the compiler to prepare a Third Edition, enlarged by the addition of
two hundred pages. This, too, was so well received, that the whole
impression, consisting of 3,700 copies, has been exhausted in less than
nine months. A Fourth Edition, _carefully revised, and with further
additions_, is now presented to the public in the hope that the volume
may continue to attract a steadily increasing number of thoughtful
readers.

_This, the Fourth Edition, bound in this country, from English sheets
and with English publishers’ imprint, contains almost double the matter
of any previous edition sold in America, the Third Edition having been
sold exclusively in England. A descriptive circular, containing sample
page, fac-simile of title page, and opinions of the Press and Men of
Letters, will be sent upon application to the publishers._



THE LONGFELLOW COLLECTORS’ HAND-BOOK.

A Bibliography of First Editions.

ONLY 250 COPIES PRINTED.

12mo, half parchment, $1.50.


This little manual contains exact transcripts of the titles,
collations, and detailed descriptions, in order of publication, of
every book written or edited by HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW. It is of
particular value to collectors, librarians and booksellers, because
it describes the anonymous works and the text-books published when
LONGFELLOW was a professor at Bowdoin College.

    “_Book collectors have recently devoted increased attention
    to making up sets of the first editions of leading American
    authors. Hawthorne, Longfellow, Poe, Lowell, Irving, Whittier,
    Holmes and many others, all have their admirers, who search
    the bookstalls, ransack old libraries, and even of late fill
    the advertising columns of the booksellers’ journals with
    lists of their wants and the prices they are willing to pay
    for them. All who have engaged in the delightful excitement of
    book-hunting must have at times met with difficulties, owing to
    the small amount of bibliographical data obtainable in print.
    With the hope of supplying this want, so far as the works
    of Longfellow are concerned, this bibliography is modestly
    offered._”--EXTRACT FROM PREFACE.


=> This book was first published by WILLIAM EVARTS BENJAMIN before the
formation of the present firm.



THE POETS AND POETRY OF AMERICA.

A Satire by “LAVANTE,” reprinted from the original, published in
Philadelphia in 1847. With an introductory argument by GEOFFREY
QUARLES, to show that it was written

BY

EDGAR ALLAN POE.

12mo, paper cover, 50 cents.

The publishers submit this little brochure as a literary curiosity,
believing it will prove of interest to the admirers of POE.


In Preparation--to be Issued in the Fall.

A SELECTION FROM THE POETRY OF LEIGH HUNT.

With a prefatory sketch and a reproduction of a portrait in water colors

BY SIR DAVID WILKIE.

Hitherto unpublished and now in the possession of the publishers.

To be Daintily Printed in a 12mo Volume.



 Transcriber’s Notes:

 --Text in italics is enclosed by underscores (_italics_).

 --Obvious punctuation and spelling inaccuracies were silently
   corrected.

 --Archaic and variable spelling has been preserved.

 --Variations in hyphenation and compound words have been preserved.

 --Inconsistencies in formatting and punctuation of individual
   advertisements have been retained.

 --Index finger images in advertisements replaced with => in text
   versions.





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