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Title: Latter-Day Sweethearts
Author: Harrison, Burton, Mrs.
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Latter-Day Sweethearts" ***

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[Illustration: A flower shot down amid the crowd.  Page 19.]



                        *Latter-Day Sweethearts*


                                   By

                         *MRS. BURTON HARRISON*

                               Author of

                           "A Bachelor Maid,"
               "The Carlyles," "The Circle of a Century,"
                        "The Anglomaniacs," Etc.


          "La Duchesse.—’L’amour est le fléau du monde.  Tous
                    nos maux nous viennent de lui.’

             "Le Docteur.—’C’est le seul qui les guérisse,"
                        —"_Le Duel_," _Henri Lavedan_.


            Illustrated in Water-Colors by FRANK T. MERRILL


                           A. S. & T. HUNTER
                            SPECIAL EDITION,
                              UTICA, N. Y.


                          NEW YORK AND LONDON
                 THE AUTHORS AND NEWSPAPERS ASSOCIATION
                                  1907



                          COPYRIGHT, 1906, BY
                       CONSTANCE BURTON HARRISON.

                     _Entered at Stationers’ Hall._
                         _All Rights Reserved._



                    Composition and Electrotyping by
                           J. J. Little & Co.
                        Printed and bound by the
                     Plimpton Press, Norwood, Mass.



[Illustration: (Facsimile Page of Manuscript from LATTER-DAY
SWEETHEARTS)]



                              *LATTER-DAY
                              SWEETHEARTS*



                              *CHAPTER I*


In going aboard the "Baltic" that exceptionally fine October morning,
Miss Carstairs convinced herself that, of the people assembled to see
her off, no one could reasonably discern in her movement the suggestion
of a retreat. The commonplace of a sailing for the other side would not,
indeed, have met with the recognition of any attendance at the pier
among her set, save for her hint that she might remain abroad a year.
There had been a small rally on the part of a few friends who had
chanced to meet at a dinner overnight, to go down to the White Star
docks and say good-by to Helen Carstairs.  Helen sincerely wished they
had not come, both because the ceremony proved a little flat, and
because, when she had time to think them over, she was not so sure they
were her friends.

But the main thing was that she had been able to withdraw, easily and
naturally, from a doubly trying situation.  She had not wanted to go
abroad.  All the novelty and sparkle had gone out of that business long
ago.  She knew foreign travel from A to Z, and she loathed tables
d’hôte, even more than the grim prospect of private meals with Miss
Bleecker in sitting-rooms redolent of departed food, insufficiently
atoned for by an encircling wilderness of gilding and red plush.  The
very thought of a concierge with brass buttons lifting his cap to her
every time she crossed the hall, of hotel corridors decked with strange
foot gear upon which unmade bedrooms yawned, of cabs and galleries and
harpy dressmakers, of sights and fellow tourists, gave her a mental
qualm.  But it was better than staying at home this winter in the big
house in Fifth Avenue where Mr. Carstairs had just brought a stepmother
for her, in the person of "that Mrs. Coxe."

There was apparently no valid reason for Helen’s shuddering antipathy to
the lady, who had been the widow of a junior partner of her father, a
man whom Mr. Carstairs had "made," like many another beginning in his
employ.

Mr. Coxe had died two years before, of nervous overstrain, leaving this
flamboyantly handsome, youngish woman to profit by his gains.  Helen had
always disliked having to ask the Coxes to dinner when her father’s fiat
compelled her to preside over the dull banquets of certain
smartly-dressed women and weary, driven men, whom he assembled at
intervals around his board.  She could not say what she objected to in
Mrs. Coxe; she thought it might be her giggle and her double chin.  It
had been always a relief when one of these "business" dinners was over,
and she knew she would not have to do it soon again.  When Mr. Carstairs
dined in return with the Coxes, they had him at some fashionable
restaurant, taking him afterward to the play.  Mrs. Coxe had shown sense
enough for that!  During the interregnum of Mrs. Coxe’s mourning
following the demise of her exhausted lord, Mr. Carstairs had had the
yacht meet Helen and himself at Gibraltar, and cruised all that winter
in the Mediterranean.

That had been life abroad, Helen thought, with a throb of yearning!  She
was very fond of her father, rather a stony image to most people, and
immensely proud of the way people looked up to his achievements in the
Street, the resistless rush of his business combinations, his massive
wealth, and his perfect imperturbability to newspaper cavil and attacks
by enemies.  She had loved to be at the head of his establishment, and
to receive the clever and distinguished and notable people, foreign and
domestic, who accepted Mr. Carstairs’ invitation to meet one another,
because they were clever and distinguished and notable, not because they
wanted to talk all the evening what they had talked all day.

When they had come home from their cruise, Helen spent the summer in
Newport, where her father rarely went.  The yacht was his summer home,
he was wont to say; and Helen did not suspect how often that season the
noble "Sans Peur" had been anchored off the shores of a settlement in
Long Island where Mrs. Coxe was enjoying the seclusion of a shingled
villa with broad verandas set in a pocket handkerchief of lawn.  Back
and forth flew the owner’s steam launch between the "Sans Peur" and the
landing, and yet nobody told Helen.  That autumn she had affairs of her
own to absorb her time and give her a sobering view of humanity.  For
the first time in her life her father had vacated his throne as
masculine ruler of her thoughts.  She had passed into the grip of a
strong, real passion for a man "nobody" knew.

That is to say, John Glynn was too hard at work to let himself be found
out.  Helen had indulged in her affair with him almost unknown to her
acquaintances, most of whom regarded the foot of the ladder of wealth,
where he distinctly stood, as the one spot where dalliance in sentiment
was to be shunned.  Her movements were hampered by the fact that,
although the daughter of a plutocrat, she had only a trifle of her own;
Mr. Carstairs having announced, with the insolent eccentricity of some
men of his stripe, that she should go dowerless to her husband, hoping
thus to protect her from fortune-seekers, foreign and native.  So long
as she remained unmarried under his roof she was to enjoy great wealth
and the importance it confers. Until now Helen had not cared.  Her brain
was clear, her head was cool, she had tastes and occupations that filled
every hour, and plenty of people who flocked around her, paying court to
the dispenser of liberal hospitalities.

Her love passage had ended in disaster, but exactly what had passed
between her and the unknown Glynn, no one was sufficiently intimate with
Helen to ascertain.

The marriage of her father with Mrs. Coxe had taken place in June, after
which Mr. Carstairs had withdrawn his apparent objections to Newport,
and blossomed out there as a villa resident of supreme importance. The
months of this but partially successful experiment on the part of the
new Mrs. Carstairs had been passed by Helen in suppressed misery.  She
had gone into camp in the Adirondacks, had visited friends at Dark
Harbor, and welcomed with thankfulness the invitation to spend September
with a young couple of her acquaintance who had a house at Lenox,
filled, with the exception of one spare room, with assorted dogs.

Early in October her father, visibly inspired by the lady who no longer
giggled in Helen’s presence, but had not lost her double chin, gave his
recalcitrant daughter "a good talking to."  If she persisted in her
rebellious demeanor towards her stepmother, the more reprehensible
because reserved, she was at liberty to do one of two things, viz., take
a furnished house in town and engage Miss Bleecker, or somebody, to be
her chaperon; or else go where she liked, abroad.

Choosing the latter alternative, Helen had been considered fortunate in
securing for her companion the lady in question, who was certified by
her believers to be rarely disengaged. Miss Bleecker, in earlier days,
had given readings in New York drawing-rooms and elsewhere about the
country, until the gradual fading away of audiences had turned her
thoughts into the present more lucrative and less fatiguing channel of
genteelest occupation.

Nature had gifted her with an ephemerally imposing presence, large,
cold, projecting eyes, an authoritative voice and an excellent knowledge
of the art of dress.  It was familiarly said that to see her come into a
room was a lesson to any girl; and her acquaintance with the ins and
outs of New York society and fond pride in the display of it, put the
dull lady beyond criticism as a general conversationalist.

The two travellers were attended by a French maid, closely modelled in
exterior upon previous employers of rank abroad, whose service she had
relinquished for the higher wage resulting from her American decadence
in social standing.  Her large wad of suspiciously golden hair, frizzed
over the eyebrows, was a souvenir of a "Lady Reggie"; while the flat
waist, girdled low upon the hips of a portly person, was her best
tribute to the slim young Princess Bartolozzi who had had her two years
in Rome.  This composite rendering of great ladies did not rob
Mademoiselle Eulalie of the coarse modelling of her features; but, on
the other hand, as Miss Bleecker said, she was safe from couriers, and
her packing was a dream.

When Helen went to the cabin de luxe secured by her father’s secretary,
into which Miss Bleecker’s room opened, she felt impatient with the
girls who followed her, exclaiming approvingly over its comforts; with
the maid who stood sentinel by her gold-fitted dressing-case; with Miss
Bleecker, who, in colloquy with a white-capped stewardess, was already
laying down the law as to their requirements on the voyage.  She hurried
out again, encompassed by her friends, to gain the upper deck, where the
men of the visiting party, looking unanimously bored, awaited anxiously
the ringing of the last gong that should drive them from the ship.  All
had been said that could be said on either side. Vague repetitions had
set in.  Helen’s eyes roved eagerly over the crowds on the pier below,
over the congested gangway.  She was hoping to see her father,
and—perhaps, but improbably—one other.  Late in the fray a brougham
rattled along the pier and drew up below.  Helen recognized her father’s
big brown horse and his steady coachman in sober livery, the down-town
outfit of the financier, who, below Fourteenth Street, was simplicity
itself.  Mr. Carstairs, with a preoccupied air, got out and ascended the
gangway.  The official in charge at the top of it, who would have barred
the way to a lesser man, smiled and waved the magnate into his
daughter’s embraces.  Everything insensibly yielded to the subtle power
of this ruler of the destinies of men.  Helen, as she drew out of the
lax clasp of the paternal arm, felt a thrill of her old pride in him; a
sense of despair that she was nevermore to be his chosen companion for a
voyage; a sharp pang of resentment at the image of the absent interloper
of their peace.

"It was too good of you to find time to come, papa!" she exclaimed,
turning to nod to the secretary who accompanied him. "Who knows when we
shall be together again!"

"Yes, there is a board of directors waiting for me now," said Mr.
Carstairs abstractedly. "Of course, you will be all right, my dear.
Foster has seen to everything, and Miss Bleecker will—ah.  Miss
Bleecker, here you are; glad to see you looking so fit for the voyage.
Nothing to speak of, though, a crossing in this monster.  Wish I were
getting away myself.  I’m off now, Helen, my dear. Wish you good luck
and a good time generally!"

"It won’t be with you and the ’Sans Peur,’ father," exclaimed the girl,
with filling eyes.

"Well, well, we did get along pretty well last cruise, didn’t we?  I was
to tell you," he added, lowering his tone, "that if you are in the humor
for it, in the Spring—in the humor, mind you, we’ll be out, probably in
March, and take you and Miss Bleecker on at Villefranche, or anywhere
you like."

"Thank you, sir," said Helen, rigid in a moment, her eyes dried of
moisture.

"Think it over, my dear!  You’ll find it better worth while."

He kissed her again on the side of the cheek, missing her lips somehow,
and was gone. Helen hardly saw his spare figure in the topcoat that
seemed too large for it, so quickly the crowd closed behind him.  She
was conscious of impatience with Foster, who stood there bowing in his
sleek importance as the millionaire’s confidential man, extending his
dampish fingers for good-by.  The party who had come to see her off
sprinkled their final farewells with a few banal last remarks and
disappeared.  Miss Bleecker, serenely proud, took her station by the
taffrail in a place where no acquaintance or reporter could fail to note
her among the "well-known people sailing this morning."  Helen was at
last alone.

Alone as she had never felt before, in her five-and-twenty years of
active, independent life.  A gap in the double row of passengers
crowding to the rail forward gave her an opportunity.  Slipping in, she
looked down upon upturned, ivory-tinted faces massed together like those
on a Chinese screen; at the windows of the company’s rooms, also crowded
with gazers, but saw nobody she knew.

Already the mighty ship began to stir in her water-bed.  When she ceased
motion again, Helen would be over three thousand miles from home, and
the memories of this last trying year.  It seemed to her there was not
one soul ashore to care whether she went or stayed.  Was this worth
living for, even as she had lived?

A voice smote upon her ear.  It issued from a girl jammed in next to
her—a girl younger than herself, extremely pretty, flashily attired,
recklessly unconventional.  Hers was what Helen recognized to be a
Southern voice, low of pitch and soft of cadence, but just now strained
to the utmost to make itself audible to a young man in the act of
forcing his way through the resistant crowd, to reach the edge of the
outer pier from which the ship was now swinging off.  To further
accentuate her presence among the departing, the young lady was waving a
small American flag.

"Jo-oh-n!  Oh!  Mr. Glynn!  Look up! Here I am!  Up here!"

Helen started electrically, for it was _her_ John Glynn, and none other,
whom this unknown person was thus shamelessly appropriating!  He, whom
she had been yearning to catch a glimpse of, who she was convinced must
know from the papers that she was sailing by this steamer.  He, who she
had felt sure was in some hidden corner looking after her, although, by
her behest, they might not again hold speech one with the other!

"Got here only this minute.  Best I could do!" shouted John Glynn back
to the stranger, a smile lighting his handsome, manly face.

"Never mind!  I understand!  Good-by!"

A flower shot down amid the crowd.  Several men affected to jump for it,
but John Glynn caught it and put it in his coat.  His gaze never left
Helen’s neighbor; to her his eyes were upturned, his hat was waved.  In
a flash, Miss Carstairs had drawn out of sight and fled within.

She found Miss Bleecker already extended upon the couch in her own
stateroom, taking tea, the door opened between, whilst Eulalie, kneeling
before steamer trunks and bags, was littering everything near-by with
luxurious belongings.

Helen accepted a cup of tea, changed her street costume for a long,
close-fitting brown ulster with a sable toque and boa, in which Eulalie
told her she was _parfaitement bien mise_; and, escaping again to the
deck, walked up and down a comparatively clear space until the "Baltic"
was well down the bay. Then, fairly tired, but unwilling to face Miss
Bleecker’s chatter, she found a chair forward, where it was not likely
she would sit again during the voyage, and with a wisp of brown chiffon
drawn close over her face, abandoned herself to melancholy thought.

So this was the end of John Glynn’s lamenting for her loss!  She, not
he, had been faithful to the love they had shared so fondly for a little
while, in which she had no longer dared indulge with him.  This was the
way he had accepted her decision that they must try to forget each
other, finally.

During the one week of their secret engagement she had felt immeasurable
happiness.  But every moment of closer, contact with her young love, a
boy in world’s knowledge beside herself, though of her own age in actual
years, convinced her of the fatal mistake she had made in believing she
could give up her present life for him, and clog his career by an early
marriage.  So she had broken the bond ruthlessly, and her father had
never known of its existence.  And his consolation so quickly found!
Helen’s lip curled disdainfully.  Some girl he had met in his
boarding-house; the kind of thing he had been accustomed to before Miss
Carstairs treated her jaded taste to his virile freshness and charming
looks, his masterful reliance upon himself, his willingness to take her,
poor or rich!  The type of girl she had seen in the tumultuous moment
beside the rail was puzzling.  Not a lady, according to her
artificialized standard, but having the frank assurance and belief in
herself that had attracted Helen to John Glynn, with a something of good
breeding underneath.  Cheaply dressed, cheap mannered, perhaps, ignorant
of what Miss Carstairs considered elemental necessities of training, but
never vulgar.

But whatever the rival, the hurt was that Glynn cared for Helen no more,
while she cared just the same.  What a fool she had been to believe that
masculine fidelity survives the blows of fate!

Masked in her brown veil, Helen sat in her corner, turning this bitter
morsel upon her tongue, her eyes vaguely resting upon the passing show
of passengers as they came straying up on deck to make the best of a
fine afternoon while getting out to sea. Impatiently casting aside her
unwelcome thoughts, she tried to interest herself in these people, to
speculate upon their identity, purpose, and personality, with the usual
rather poor returns, since a ship’s company assembled at first view has
always the most depressing influence upon the looker-on. Beside her,
upon one of the rare seats of a liner that belong to nobody, she espied
a shabby little man, in an overcoat like a faded leaf, drop down
furtively, then seeing no one inclined to disturb him, relax his muscles
and, taking off an ancient, wide-brimmed felt hat, look about him with a
beaming smile, prepared for full enjoyment of the hour and scene.

Something in the artless buoyancy of his manner, his meek acceptance of
a modest place in life, his indifference to the considerations that
oftenest vexed the souls of Miss Carstairs’ acquaintances upon making
any sort of public appearance before their fellow-beings, struck her
with an approach to approval.  Her glance toward him was met in the same
spirit of prompt return that follows patting upon the head a friendly
dog.

"Beautiful weather we’re having to go out in, ma’am," he said.  "I’m
kind of glad to settle down in this quiet corner ’n see the last o’ my
native land.  I reckoned I was in no one’s way occupying this little
bench a bit. Because, you see, I’ve walked and walked, inspecting the
White Star leviathan, everywhere they’d let me set a foot, till I’m
about worn out.  Talk about ’seeing New York City’!  It’s not a patch on
this ship for making a man feel his lower limbs, if you’ll excuse the
expression before a lady.  Why, she’s a wonder, ma’am, a marvel, and
there’s literally no end to her.  I find myself saying at intervals,
’Thank God, I’ve lived to cross the Atlantic Ocean, and what’s more, to
cross it in a floating Waldorf-Astoria,’ for so it looks to me!"

"You are fond of the water, then?" said Helen, surprised at her own
affability, but on the whole too wretched to care for risks.

"Well, ma’am, I’ve, so to say, some little experience.  I resided
formerly in Norfolk, Virginia, and went round to Baltimo, Maryland, on
several trips by sea.  Know Baltimo, ma’am?  Can’t exactly compare it to
New York, I reckon, but still it’s a fine city. Celebrated for its
monuments, canvasbacks, and pretty girls, the saying used to be. Worn’t
dead stuck on canvasbacks myself, though; got overfed with them on my
father’s plantation when I was a lad, preferred bacon and greens any day
in the year.  But I’ll give in to the praise of Baltimo women to my last
breath.  Married one of ’em, in fact, an’ if God ever sent an angel into
a man’s life, ’twas she."

Miss Carstairs, to her surprise, detected simultaneously with a tender
adoring look coming upon his withered face, a suspicion of moisture in
her interlocutor’s eyes.  She sat up, felt that here was something so
out of the way as to verge upon impropriety, made a movement to depart,
and finally concluded to remain where she was.

"Yes, ma’am, she was too good for me, or any man.  Born among the best,
as the saying is, and I, one of the small potatoes in the heap.  ’Tisn’t
any wonder I should be thinking of her to-day, the way she wanted all
her life to go to Europe and never dreamed of managing to get there."

"I hope this thought won’t spoil your own pleasure in the journey,"
Helen said, embarrassed to find an answer.

"Oh! no, ma’am, no chance of that.  Why, she’s been with me in spirit
ever since we parted, ten years ago, an’ I always feel as if she was
sharing things.  She’d need a good deal to make up to her for the
hardships she had with me.  You see, I was first leftenant of infantry,
just come out o’ the war, ’n ’bout as bare o’ money as when I came into
the world, I reckon, when I met her first off in Baltimo, where I was
lookin’ for a job.  I was bred up as a drug clerk, and so was glad to
take a place in a poor little store, ’n we began life together in one
room of a boarding-house, ’n a hall bedroom at that!  She, mind you, was
a general’s daughter of the real old Maryland first chop stock, but as
poor as me.  After her father was killed at Gettysburg, you see, her
mother went to pickling for a living, ’n ’twas hard work, with two other
daughters on her hands, neither one o’ them likely to marry much, being
the kind the Lord makes homely for reasons of His own.  My wife, now,
was a beauty, no mistaking her!  I never understood how she came to take
up with me, ’n when I asked her why, she said she was just tired o’
pickles, anyway!  That was only her fun, ma’am; we had to have a little,
to make the wheels go round.  Please excuse me for taking the liberty of
talking so sociably.  We Southerners have that way, I reckon, and,
besides, it seemed like my heart was so full of wife to-day, I had to
say something to somebody, or break a trace."

Miss Carstairs hesitated, then gave way to an unusual impulse, arising
as she spoke.

"I must thank you, rather, for having reminded me that all men don’t
forget.  I am sure you deserved all the happiness you had with her, and
I hope there is a great deal of it still left in life for you."

"Well, now, ma’am, that’s beautifully said.  But I won’t let you go
without knowing that, though I’ve come to it by a long, hard way, my
luck has turned at last, and the only trouble is that she’s not here to
share it. The long years after we moved south to Alabama (where I’d an
opening, and after a while set up for myself), when wife toiled and
moiled for me—when we lost all the children that were born to us, but
the last one—how she used to sit in the evenings and read about English
cathedrals and Stonehenge, and the like!  She didn’t seem to care so
much about visiting Italy and Paris and the Riviera, but Switzerland
tickled her awfully. She had a picture of Mont Blanc on top of a
work-box.  When I think how cheap the post cards are in these days, I do
wish wife could have had a lot to paste in an album that she kept.  She
always said I was to take daughter, if we ever got money enough for two
to cross on, and that she would stay at home.  And now, the money’s
come, enough for all of us, and I’m taking daughter, just as she said,
and we’re to see England and she isn’t!  I tell you, ma’am, things are
sorted out unevenly by our good Lord!"

Miss Carstairs carried into her cabin the wistfulness of the gentle old
face, the irresistible conviction of his honesty.  What, in the
beginning, had tempted her to mock, now laid forcible hold of her better
nature, and impelled her to gentler thoughts.

A sharp awakening was the rencounter with Miss Bleecker’s apprehensions
as to where she should sit at table, and the effervescence of that
lady’s regrets that the parties with whom she had counted upon being
included, were all "made up."  Helen recalled previous voyages under the
ægis of her distinguished father, where their table was the one most
desired by social pretenders, with its _plats_ and wines served from his
private stores, its aura of plutocratic exclusiveness in which revolved
obsequious stewards!  She winced at thought of glory fled, but while
Miss Bleecker enlarged upon the neglect of the secretary, Foster, in not
having arranged this matter for them, reflected bitterly that Foster,
trimming his sails to the wind of Fortune, was now the devotée of the
new Mrs. Carstairs’ whims, and unless especially ordered so to do, would
be likely to make no effort for the rebellious stepdaughter’s
advancement.

Affecting indifference to the detail in question, she found herself at
dinner assigned to a small table in one corner of the saloon, of which
five of the nine seats were already filled, when Miss Bleecker,
sparkling intermittently in jet, sailed ahead of her charge, and
motioned Helen into place beside her.  A steward, who had identified the
ladies, came hurrying to overtake them, and express his hope that Miss
Carstairs would be satisfied with his selection for her, assuring her,
in a whisper, that he had taken every care that she should have only the
"best" people as her comrades.

Helen, who had not yet sat down, smiled at the reassuring promise.  The
whisper, overheard by two of the gentlemen unfolding their napkins
opposite, produced an answering smile.  Impossible to resist a voucher
so bestowed!  Simultaneously the two men arose and stood till Miss
Carstairs had taken her revolving chair and was safely installed beside
her chaperon.  The table was now complete, save for the seat at the end
and that at its right adjoining Helen’s.

Soup had hardly been placed before them when the intended occupants of
the vacant places resolved themselves into a couple, at sight of whom a
cold tremor passed into Miss Carstairs’ limbs—for they were none other
than the mild little man with whom she had been talking on the deck, and
the girl who had thrown John Glynn a flower!

The old fellow had made scant preparation for the ceremonial meal of the
day on shipboard.  His kind face shone with soap and water, while a thin
lock of gray hair was laboriously trained by the same medium over his
bald crown.  His mustard-colored "tourist suit" of tweed, the red tie
and rumpled cheviot shirt, might, indeed, have served a noble earl upon
his travels through an American drawing-room; but whatever the
appearance of her sire, it was at once lost to sight in the radiant
prettiness and extraordinary self-possession of the girl who accompanied
him.

A goddess of liberty in height, with the complexion of a pink-and-white
balsam flower, and rippled hair of gold worn parted in the middle and
extending outward in exaggerated wings; her admirable young form was
attired in cheap China silk of an azure tint incorporating
transparencies of white lace that revealed a dazzling neck and arms.
Decked with profuse jewelry of the inexpensive sort, she stood for a
moment where the rest of the company could fully profit by the
apparition before it went into eclipse in her allotted seat!

The attention of their table, hitherto indirectly converging upon the
fine lines and _pâte tendre_ coloring of Miss Carstairs, now shifted its
focus to a point not to be forsaken for the remainder of the voyage (an
example promptly to be followed by the rest of the passengers, the
officers and personnel of the big ship in general).  The newcomer
possessed, in spite of her extreme youth, the manner of some histrionic
star who has the conscience of her calling in producing effects not to
be forfeited by a moment’s neglect of opportunity.  Her present entrance
had the full effect of a sweep down to the footlights, to pause with one
hand upon the desk from which the heroine is wont to dash off her little
notes to the leading man, whilst reading them aloud to the audience.

But withal, so childlike were her contours, so joyous her appeal for
notice, one felt that her vanity might still be the innocent belief of a
little girl secure of her own interestingness to the public, when she
comes into a roomful of her mother’s guests.

All eyes following her movements, the stranger surveyed the saloon
briefly, and spoke to her companion with good-humored authority.

"Just what I told you, Dad.  The older gentlemen all sit in the end
seats, and that’s the place for you."

"Now, Posey, child," came in audible rejoinder, "none of your nonsense,
but just do as I said, and take the end yourself. Nobody wants to see an
old fossil like me put forward when they can get a nice young lady to
look at.  Sit down, right away, and I’ll just slip in beside this lady.
Why, ma’am," he added, interrupting himself with a face of glad
recognition in identifying Miss Carstairs, "if it ain’t you, and I’m
real pleased to meet up with you again!  A needle in a haystack, I was
thinking myself among all these strange folk.  And you’ll be such prime
company for Posey, here.  Let me make you acquainted with my daughter,
Miss Pamela Winstanley, of Alison’s Cross Roads, Alabama."

Miss Carstairs inclined her head toward the beaming newcomer, and almost
immediately turned to close converse in an undertone with Miss Bleecker,
who was herself occupied in digesting unpleasant first impressions.

For, after fortifying herself with soup, and ordering a whiskey and soda
for digestion’s sake, the chaperon had sent her eagle glance around the
board with this result:

Of the five gentlemen installed before their arrival, two were mentally
labelled, "Hopeless, old, grumpy, no doubt, of no possible use to us."
Another, "A mere larky boy, not knowing him, must keep him down," and
the pair who had arisen and stood at their approach, "An Englishman,
badly bored, good figure, eyes and teeth, has been, or is, in the army;
the Frenchman with him, rather like Mephistopheles, might be amusing,
but will, of course, be sea-sick all the way over.  A poor lot, and just
wait till I get at that head steward and find out what he means by it!"



                              *CHAPTER II*


"My dear Helen, I really may as well tell you at once, that I don’t like
your walking alone, in the dark, down on that lower deck that looks
steeragy, where there are no chairs, and the men go to smoke after
dinner."

"Do they?  I hadn’t noticed," said Helen, indifferently.

She had come into their rooms with a brighter look upon her face, born
of the delicious swoop of salt air upon it, and the sound of that
churning music of the waves with which the sea rewards the good ship
when she takes her ocean crests easily and settles down to her grand
Atlantic stride.

"I lost you, after dinner, when I was sitting on the boat deck with Mrs.
Vereker, hearing all about her daughter’s divorce and her son’s
appendicitis.  No wonder the poor woman goes abroad for a change.  And,
really, I’m glad, after all, we are not with them at table, since she
can talk of nothing else, and much as one may feel for a friend’s
troubles, it is nicer to hear a little about other people’s, too!  I was
telling Mrs. Vereker—though, dear me, she hardly lets one speak—how
dreadfully they had served us about the people they put us with, and, my
dear, what do you think?  It never does to judge by first appearances at
sea, for as it turns out, Mr. Vereker—who is that kind of a fussing,
Miss Nancyish man, and loves to study the passenger list—has discovered
that every soul at our table, except those dreadful Southerners, has a
title!  The one with glasses, who speaks such funny English, is a German
Graf, of a family of fabulous antiquity, who has been to Washington to
see his ambassador about sending one of his sons to learn agriculture in
America.  The one who gobbles so, and complains of the draught on his
back, and had the port shut, is Prince Zourikoff, a Russian savant, who
has written a book called ’Études sur la cause de la décadence des
peuples.’  The saucy boy who went in for a flirtation with that
Winstanley girl, is Mr. Vane, a son of Lord Kennington, whom they sent
to Canada for a year to get him out of mischief at home.  The really
interesting person is—who do you suppose?—the man opposite you, Lord
Clandonald, whose story was in all the newspapers a year ago.  His wife,
a beautiful Miss Darien, behaved scandalously, yet was so clever in
tricking everybody, it was hard to get the divorce.  But he got rid of
her at last, and then went around the world.  Doesn’t look like a man of
that sort, does he?  Rather shy, I should say, and hold-off, but a
splendid figure.  The Frenchman is actually the famous Mariol, whose
books are my delight, though he’s a wretch the way he writes about
women. He’s Clandonald’s great chum, and they have been travelling
together."

Helen’s face had lighted.

"I know only one or two books of Mariol’s—essays principally, but they
are perfect of their kind——"

"I advise you to keep to the essays," said Miss Bleecker, dryly.  "He
has an enormous reputation in the literary world, and one likes to meet
them, now and again, if they are not frumps."

"And provided he is not sea-sick," said Helen, smiling.

"In this boat, in an ordinary sea, there’ll be no excuse for it.  Why,
one hardly knows we are moving.  To return to Clandonald, don’t you
think people one reads about and hears about are always disappointing?
I don’t say there was anything wrong attributed to _him_; they said he
was rather Quixotic in his treatment of the worthless creature, who had
to give up his name and go under. But he is so much like other people.
Nothing to show he was in such a notorious divorce suit—Helen, what are
you smiling at?"

"The thrilling thought that I had M. de Mariol to mix my salad
dressing," replied Miss Carstairs.

"Was it good?  I am always careful the first day out.  Oh!  I must tell
you about those queer Dicks, the Southerners.  It seems that Lord and
Lady Channel Fleet came on board at the last minute, and took quite an
ordinary room—that heavy-looking red-faced man and the dowdy woman in
big turquoise earrings, who sat at the captain’s table—they had to have
those two seats, so the Winstanleys were transferred to us.  If we had
only secured the Channel Fleets, we should have been so complete!
Perhaps they and Clandonald don’t speak, though, and the captain found
it out, or the purser, who always hears all the gossip.  At any rate,
we’ve got to put up with the Winstanleys, and I’ll give you my frank
opinion, Helen, that before this voyage is over we’ll have cause to rue
the day when we laid eyes on them.  The old man is simply too absurd.
Treats her as if she were a princess and he her courier.  How you could
stand his babbling in your ear, I can’t imagine.  But she! she!  The
worst specimen of the travelling American who makes one blush for one’s
country when abroad."

"One must own to her good looks," Helen interpolated bravely.

Miss Bleecker snorted.

"My dear, that is unworthy of you.  A Twenty-third Street shop-girl
would be ashamed to do her hair like that; and her frock—bought in
stock, and fitted in half a day, probably.  But even that doesn’t count
beside her phenomenal assurance and self-conceit.  Fancy now, her
addressing a remark to me, before I had spoken to her.  I never heard
such a string of words from a young person in my life, and to take it
upon her to entertain the whole table!  It really silenced me.  One
comfort is that everybody will put her down as I did, and sooner or
later she’ll be left severely to herself."

"I noticed that Lord Clandonald and M. de Mariol seemed much amused, and
the others couldn’t keep their eyes from her," said truthful Helen, who
had her own cause for blank wonderment at the further development of
John Glynn’s acquaintances.

"Oh! that is the provoking part of men," answered Miss Bleecker, tossing
her head; "give them a pretty face and a forward manner, and they’ll
pretend to be entertained. I’m very sorry, Helen, but if that girl
doesn’t take my hint and tone down a great deal, I shall be under the
necessity of making a complaint about our seats.  It isn’t possible the
line wouldn’t wish to place your father’s daughter at least
_respectably_ at table. These Winstanleys are, in my opinion, most
suspicious people, and I have asked Mr. Vereker to make very particular
inquiries and find out if I am not right.  He says that when she came
into the saloon, every neck on our side was stretched looking after her,
and he quite agrees with me—no, Mrs. Vereker agreed with me, her husband
was weak enough to say what were the odds when a girl is so deuced
pretty—that there must be something wrong."

The latter part of Miss Bleecker’s monologue was spoken to space, since
Miss Carstairs, melting away into her own room, had closed the door
between them.

Helen found Mlle. Eulalie sitting on the foot of the cane settee,
comfortably warming her toes at a small apparatus of shining brass,
which, with its red lamp inside, presented a fair semblance of the
forsaken fires of home. Upon the bed lay her own satin quilt, her own
pillows of embroidered linen were prepared invitingly, her peignoir
billowed across the couch.  Upon every side gleamed and glittered the
little objects of cut-glass, tortoise-shell and gold which she had
heaped in the balance against John Glynn’s love, along with a hundred
other manifestations of the outward and visible signs of a solvent
existence.  To-night she was strangely repelled by them.  She made a
motion to go out again into the half darkness of that same deserted
lower deck, where she could walk to the rush of the wind and the
inspiriting swish of the water.  She wanted to be alone with her
thoughts, to bid a last good-by to the love she had known for a little
happy while.  Then the image of Miss Posey Winstanley, with her assured
smile and undaunted self-satisfaction, came to her with a new shock,
and, turning back, she let Eulalie take off her dress and brush her
hair, surrendering herself inertly to the warmth and perfume of
materialism, and trying to think she was better so.

Far into the night Helen lay, physically at rest, inhaling the pure air
from her open window, feeling the gentle uplift of the sea as the huge
bulk of the ship faintly answered to its impulse, listening to the bells
challenging one another from afar, but she could not sleep.  Tirelessly
her memory went over every incident of her acquaintanceship with Glynn,
and of the virtual break with her father since the terrible substitution
of the woman she suspected into her old place at home.  To the last she
had kept a brave front, and no one should ever know what this past year
had cost her.  She was leaving America, without temptation to return.
The secret glimmering hope that had kept alight within her, that some
day John Glynn and she might come together again, was now finally
extinguished.  It was as if a new era of life were opening, and the
question was, how best should she shape it?

For the twentieth time Miss Carstairs had come around to the knottiest
problem of all those that kept her wakeful in her giant cradle of the
sea.  She was wondering how duty and dignity might combine to inspire
her action toward her successor in Glynn’s affections.  Her chief
apprehension regarding Pamela Winstanley, was that John Glynn should
have made her ever so little aware of that prior bond.  A cold terror
had possessed her at thought of the exuberant creature sharing or even
suspecting her sacred secret.  But in the girl’s helter-skelter attempts
at speech with every one at table, she had given no hint that she had
previously heard of Miss Carstairs.  Helen could only hope that Glynn’s
name would never come up between them.  And, at this point, a soft,
swabbing sound and the tread of muffled feet upon the deck beneath her
window, gave notice that the sailors were at their early morning tasks.
The weird, self-pitying note of the parrot in a cabin hard by seemed to
grow fainter and more dreamlike.  Turning wearily upon her pillows, she
let sleep take her into its merciful embrace.


"Certainly, Mariol, you have found your American types ready to hand
upon this voyage," Lord Clandonald was saying, as the two men walked up
and down with their cigars upon the deck decried by Miss Carstairs’
chaperon.  "The most obvious one is, of course, the astonishing young
person who aroused us from the spiritual lethargy of a first meal at
sea, when one is always on guard not to be too accessible."

"She is like one of those Eastern shops, where everything is in the
window," Mariol answered.  "But adorably fresh and naïve and pretty.  No
other continent could produce her than the wide and liberal one we are
just quitting."

"Might we but keep her to ourselves!" said Clandonald, mockingly.  "But
I foresee that she will be the wonder and the joy of the entire ship’s
company on our run over. And the mild old boy who retires into the
background to give his Wonder every chance! I rather like the old boy, I
think."

"My own taste would be for the young lady who is protected by Buddha
reincarnate, in the person of the disapproving chaperon. Her beauty is
rarer, more subtle, than the other’s; she is clearly of the _fine fleur_
of the American aristocracy of dollars.  I suspect a Colonial ancestor
somewhere, and you observed that the chaperon did not disdain us too
much, to let fall a hint or two concerning the custom of splendor in her
charge’s life. When they find you out, Clandonald, I’ll wager the sun
will promptly shine between the clouds for you."

"The old woman is in the apologetic stage for America, and that’s enough
to give me a strong disgust for her.  Let them be anything that’s real,
and I’m ready to meet Americans ’hands across the sea.’  But the ones
that affect to decry their nationality, to convince us that they are of
a small, segregated class that stand on higher ground than the rest, are
abhorrent to me.  Clearly, Buddha’s protégée belongs to that class? and
will not tarry to let us become aware of it."

"Grant that my Mdlle. Hélène—for I don’t know her other name—is both
beautiful and finely bred, and I will abandon you the rest of her
sisterhood.  She is full of an exquisite intellectuality, but it would
not prevent her loving if her heart were awakened—and if I am not
mistaken, it has already been awakened.  Imagine a young girl, _chez
nous_, with that expression in her eyes, and yet that delicate restraint
of manner.  I should like to know the fair Hélène’s history."

"That you might dissect her with admirable grace in a feuilleton that
_tout Paris_ would read and applaud—and—forget her the next hour, in a
new enthusiasm."

"Better to possess all the enthusiasms than none, old chap.  I am really
in despair over your failure to be aroused by the infinite variety of
the diversions offered to you in this journey of ours that, alas! must
end too soon."

"There is one pleasure that has never palled on me, and that is the
society of my travelling companion.  You are the ideal one in many
respects, Mariol; but if I could point out one virtue more than another
that distinguishes you in that character, it is the letting a man enjoy
all his bad humors, his fads, his follies, if you will, unchecked and
unbridled.  I have sometimes basely suspected you of sacrificing me in
order to make copy of my infirmities.  But, at any rate, I have enjoyed
blessed liberty, and, whatever the result, I have profited by the
semblance of a perfect tact and consideration."

"A roundabout way of warning me not to intrude my advice upon you now.
But seriously, Clandonald, and at any risk, I must tell you that you
need rousing.  That past of yours, unsavory as it was through no fault
of yours, has been long enough decently interred for you to forget it,
and to recreate your life’s happiness.  One can’t be sore always, any
more than we can love always, or mourn always.  And you, of all men the
one best fitted to wear the yoke of your staid British virtues, to serve
your country and your king at home, to be a model landlord, a husband
and a paterfamilias, _comme il y en a peu_!  For heaven’s sake, accept
the blessed opportunity of your present freedom, and make up for that
wretched first mistake. You aren’t happy, you have no ambition, no
purpose, no zest in living.  Get yourself a wife."

"This from Mariol, the scoffer, the celibate!  My dear fellow, I forgive
you your trespass upon forbidden ground, because I know you are sincere.
But you forget one small, important fact.  The person who bore my name,
and her various works of evil, have so depleted my finances that, had I
the courage, I haven’t the wherewithal to hawk my wares in the marriage
mart.  I wonder if you know what it costs to keep a Lady Clandonald in
the enjoyment of the domestic atmosphere of which you speak.  I know to
my cost.  Unless she were a beautiful savage, content to retire with me
to one of those isles of the South Sea poor Louis Stevenson idealized, I
couldn’t even give her a season in town, or a trip to Paris or Homburg,
much less races, and all the bridge a woman needs; and so there’d be the
devil to pay, you see. If she would set up a bonnet-shop, or a place for
horribly dear frocks, and keep me on the proceeds—! but otherwise, I’m
as poor as a rat, Mariol, and haven’t your resources, or royalties,
remember."

"A small matter, my dear lad, with the ever-continuing flood of American
dollars pouring from West to East through the facile clasp of the fair
beings by whom we are presently surrounded.  And you would not run great
risks.  There is this to be said for them, that American ladies rarely
degenerate into either bores, dupes or pieces of household machinery:
’Le familier vulgaire, utile et sans bouquet, comme le vin qu’on boit
avec l’eau.’  They progress with the epoch and the civilization that
claim them.  Take—as a matter of illustration merely—either of the two
young women who grace our board."

"As a matter of illustration, merely," answered Clandonald, laughing,
"I’d prefer to take the sweet child of nature, combining, with the
vulgarity of a powdered nose, the eyes of an intelligent cherub recently
short-coated."

"As you please," said Mariol, arching his brows resignedly.  "My choice
for you would have been the fine-grained daughter of the Puritans with
hair the color of a hazelnut, the flat, straight back, and resolute
figure gowned by Paquin.  I dare say both ladies are accessible to what
you have to offer them, or that either would soon fit into place in the
long walk at Beaumanoir, among those strutting white peacocks against a
background of clipped yews and sun-warmed ancient brick.  No American
girl could resist that walk and those white peacocks, Clandonald, take
my word for it."

"Then marry one yourself, and I’ll let the place to you for a song."

"I have still to see Tibet," answered the other, stopping to light a
fresh cigar.

Their talk ended in a discussion wide afield from the subject with which
it had begun. But when Mariol turned in, it was with a throb of secret
satisfaction that he had been able, in the darkness, and apparently _à
l’improviste_, to wing in the direction of his friend a shaft he had
long held in reserve for him.

He had been with Clandonald, side by side, wading through the miserable
mire of his divorce case, and rejoiced when he saw him rid for ever of
the creature who had dragged him down.  The two men had met first in
South Africa, while Clandonald was lying ill of enteric, and Mariol,
coming upon him by accident in the course of his own explorations for
observation and adventure at the seat of war, had nursed him with the
gentleness and devotion of a woman, until he was out of danger and ready
for the voyage home. During his first convalescence, Clandonald had
received the plainly unwelcome news of his wife’s intended journey out,
"to look after her dear old boy."  The arrival of her errant ladyship,
followed by the untoward discovery of her real motives in making this
heroic effort, and the hardly concealed scandal of her companionship on
the voyage, precipitated a relapse of Clandonald’s malady, and the
ultimate severance, some two years later, of his heavy marriage bond,
borne during the lifetime of a boy who died through her neglect.

In all this dreary time Mariol had stood by him and held him up.  The
brilliant mocker, the professed skeptic of all tenderness apart from the
metaphysics of the sex question, had developed into the best of
hard-luck friends; and their agreement to travel together after
Clandonald was free and had left the army proved more than a success.

Now they were drifting homeward again, Mariol to his boulevards and the
fond congenial life of Paris, Clandonald—to what? Mariol, with his keen
insight and ready sympathy, saw that his friend was returning to
England, restless, unsatisfied, out of tune with his future
surroundings; well in body and healthy in his mind, indeed, but in no
humor to pick up his life from where his late partner had cast it, like
a jewel, into wayside dirt.

Mariol had hoped much from their visit to America, where they had found
themselves, during the latter part of the season at Newport, subjected
to the overpowering hospitality of the leaders of the great world.  But
although Clandonald’s antecedents were as well known and familiarly
discussed there, as in England and on the Continent, and there had been
displayed no disposition on the part of society to visit his evil
fortune upon him, the young man passed but abstractedly through the
ordeal of charms and graces, defiled before his gaze, during the hours
when the world that entertains is in evidence.  Mariol sometimes
wondered whether his friend would not have been more easily consoled in
an atmosphere less surcharged with the art of pleasing.

The moment he had laid eyes upon Miss Carstairs, whose patronymic he was
yet to learn, it had flashed upon the Frenchman’s active brain that here
was the solution of his perplexities.  That the girl met so thoroughly
his own exacting taste in externals, seemed to him a convincing proof
she would be the ideal angel to step down into Clandonald’s troubled
pool and make it clear. Her looks, age, good breeding, reserve of
bearing, and evident fortune, added to the fact that she, too, had in
her eyes the shadow of past sorrow, left the kind fictionist no doubt of
his own perspicacity in selection. He had addicted himself to the task
of making friends with her, with a promptitude facilitated by his secret
hopes, and Clandonald’s indifference proved the more provoking in that
it bore every aspect of probable enduringness.

Mariol fell asleep, that memorable first night at sea, congratulating
himself that his cares in connection with matters of sentiment were so
purely perfunctory, and that whatever the issue out of Clandonald’s
impassivity, no personal interest in any one of the disturbing sex could
ever afford his mentor other than the emotion of a scientist who skewers
a new butterfly for his microscope.



                             *CHAPTER III*


There was to be no complexity attending the position taken by Miss
Pamela Winstanley, commonly called Posey, in the consideration of her
fellow-passengers of the "Baltic."  From the first day out, as has been
said, every one aboard became a prey to the absorbing interest created
by her daily movements, sayings and doings.  Beyond the fact that she
was travelling with her father, a Mr. Herbert Winstanley, sometime of
the Army of the Confederate States, presumably a person of very moderate
social place and fortunes, the antecedents of the radiant young beauty
were unknown, and she was accepted upon her face value alone.  It was
indisputable that, whenever she appeared conversation centered upon her
to the exclusion of more serious topics.  And, in return, Miss
Winstanley lavished her effervescing good graces with impartiality upon
all admirers in attendance.  The honors of her smiles and pretty sayings
were shared alike by Lord Clandonald and any minor individual of the
impressible sex, who might chance to be on hand.  Jolly old Lord Channel
Fleet, resembling Santa Claus with his roseate face and white fringe of
a beard, found himself vying for her favors with a succession of
American college youths in sweaters, one of whom, famed in university
circles as a thrower of the hammer, stood about in attitudes expressive
of rank jealousy, whenever his sportive lordship was at her side.  Lady
Channel Fleet, indeed, was known to be nervous lest the threatening
young man should do something dreadful to her liege.

Miss Bleecker, Mrs. Vereker, and sundry mothers of unentertaining
daughters who struggled into their deck-chairs without assistance and
walked with each other the diurnal mile, looking as if nothing would
induce them to descend to the companionship of the supporting sex,
formed a number of ingenious theories to account for the fair Pamela.
She was a milliner’s forewoman, going out to secure fashions for
Alison’s Cross Roads.  She was a dashing divorcee, who had resumed her
maiden name.  She had been a barmaid in California, an artist’s model in
New York, an assistant washerwoman in the Klondyke, had tried on cloaks
in a leading haberdashery of Chicago—in all of which capacities there
was somebody aboard who had known somebody else who had actually seen
her!  But of suppositions concerning the charmer, the most popular was
that she had sung on the local stage somewhere in the South, and was now
going abroad to study for comic opera.  For in addition to other devices
for the bewilderment of mere man, Miss Winstanley was found to possess a
fascinating gift of rendering little Creole chansonettes that conjured
up the warm velvet-like touch of Southern air, the region of palm and
pine and mocking-birds, of orange flowers and Cherokee roses, and the
love spells lingering around it.  Then she could croon "Mammy" songs, of
a negress hushing her nursling, in a way to bring tears to the eyes of
most hardened listeners.  And between the songs and croonings she would
describe scenes, and impersonate actors, with a natural fire and pathos
that are rarely taught or teachable.  But of this accomplishment she was
more chary than the rest, and there were those heard to declare that, on
one occasion on deck, she had sung tears into her own eyes, and abruptly
stopped, declaring she did not care to do it before more than one or
two.  The incident being repeated to Miss Bleecker, that inveterate lady
declared it to be but a clever bit of acting to whet expectation of
future appearances behind the footlights.

Amid the successes of his daughter’s meteoric rise, little Mr.
Winstanley prowled about the ship, a solitary and somewhat pathetic
figure in his evident belief that self-effacement was the first duty of
the parent of such a Phoenix among maidens.  Following his abortive
reopening of acquaintance with Miss Carstairs, he withdrew into his
shell and spoke no more to her.  Helen reproached herself that she had
not been able to conceal from him the repulsion at first inspired in her
by her rival in John Glynn’s favor.  Old Winstanley’s mild twinkle of
the eye, the smile playing around his thin lips, gave no hint, however,
that his retiring attitude was inspired by offence.  He seemed to live
apart in a world of his own thoughts and memories, from which even his
Posey’s triumphs could not extract him for long.

And Posey, Miss Bleecker to the contrary (who from her end of the table
consistently glared down the intruder’s right to be), continued to reign
in her revolving chair, as the established queen of every meal.  Her
quips and cranks of fan, her lawless sallies at the expense of those
around her, had effectually banished restraint and brought the diverse
elements of their party together; even Helen parting with her formality
to join in the talk, when convinced by observation that Miss Winstanley
knew nothing whatever of her prior acquaintance with John Glynn.

From the beginning, the Honorable Bobby Vane, Lord Kennington’s
scapegrace boy, had fallen head over ears in love with Posey, and was
ready to forfeit his not very brilliant prospects in life to marry her,
no matter in what capacity she had previously appeared.  Posey laughed
at and with the lad, enjoying his off-hand gayety and mischief, and
there it began and ended.  The Russian savant, under the influence of
Miss Winstanley’s presence, forgot to grumble about draughts and sauces,
and smoothed his grim-visaged front into affability, answering her in
English as choice as M. de Mariol’s French.  The old German count,
proving to be the most kindly and merry of comrades, developed a faculty
for telling uproariously funny stories, of which the effect was impaired
only by such a strange mispronunciation of the English tongue that his
auditors were kept supernaturally grave in the effort not to smile at
him, and therefore did not smile at all.

A volume of Mariol’s clever (and happily innocuous) short stories having
been produced by somebody and put into circulation on the ship, Miss
Winstanley had familiarized herself with them, and was engaged at odd
moments in translating the little _chef d’oeuvres_ of style, with Bobby
Vane, in whose imagination a book of any kind, save a betting book,
loomed larger than an elephant.

Mariol, to whom direct address from casual people upon the subject of
his writings was an affliction, had been rather dreading the young
lady’s comments, and was relieved when she disposed of him thus easily:

"I think they’re just lovely, Mr. Mariol, and am trying to make Mr. Vane
agree with me, but he declares they’re too jolly dismal and give him the
awful blues.  After this, when people say they envy me being at table
with you, I can truly tell them you don’t talk the least bit like your
books."

"Mrs. Kipling told me once," said Clandonald, following a laugh at
Mariol’s expense, "that when a gushing American girl asked how she could
endure the brilliancy of a certain chat between her husband and Cecil
Rhodes on the Kiplings’ veranda in South Africa, she had been puzzled
what to answer, because, as a matter of fact, each of these gentlemen
had been trying to talk more delightful drivel than the other.  What
good luck for the rest of us, that great minds do unbend in the intimacy
of private discourse!"

"If one doesn’t talk in brief paragraphs, like those columns printed in
American newspapers for busy men to read in elevated trains, one isn’t
listened to, I find," said the author, ruefully.

"In most countries, nowadays," observed Prince Zourikoff, looking
anxiously to see whether the portion of cold braised beef left upon the
platter was enough for his liberal appetite, "the fine arts of
conversation and correspondence have both been driven like chaff before
the wind of modern restlessness. Nobody converses, few read, friendly
communication is achieved by wire or telephone. And as to introducing a
serious topic into society—perish the thought!  One would be voted a
superannuated nuisance."

"I have always thought it the best compliment a man can pay a woman,"
said Miss Carstairs, blushing a little, "when he talks to her, in
earnest, about what dominates his thoughts."

Mariol flashed an appreciative glance at her.  Clandonald cried out:

"Heaven defend your sex, my dear lady, if they had to sit still and
listen to most men’s governing thoughts.  And, on the whole, there is
nothing so wearing as a person with ideas that have never been applied.
To-day, we must think and act, and accomplish or fail, before we talk.
And as far as talk goes, it’s everybody’s plain duty to be amusing and
not long."

"To come down before the footlights, and do one’s turn, and then drop
back again," interpolated Miss Bleecker, with a glance at the beauty,
who was helping Bobby Vane to a baked potato.  "You are quite right,
Lord Clandonald.  It is perfect audacity for any one person, whether
clever or insignificant, to attempt to monopolize attention.  Everybody
else is invariably bored by it, where they are not laughing in their
sleeves."

"Have you seen many persons laughing in their sleeves, Miss Bleecker?"
asked Posey Winstanley, innocently.  "Did they do it when you were
young?  I always wondered how.  Mr. Vane, please stop eating long
enough, to let’s try laughing in our sleeves at Miss Bleecker.  I reckon
she’ll tell us if it’s the real thing."

"There are places, then, where they do say ’I reckon,’" pursued Miss
Bleecker, impassively.  "You mentioned, Lord Clandonald, how much you
were disappointed not to hear more provincialisms of speech in America.
I should think Miss Winstanley could give you all you care to collect."

"Did you ever hear, Miss Winstanley," put in Mariol quickly, "the pretty
speech made by King William IV about a charming country-woman of yours,
whom some one asked, ’Pray, do you come from that part of America where
they guess and where they calculate?’  ’Lady Wellesley comes from where
they fascinate,’ said the gallant monarch."

Bobby Vane clapped his hands approvingly.

"That’s rippin’, ain’t it, Mr. Mariol!  My goodness me, wish I weren’t
such a duffer at writing things down an’ spellin’ or I’d make a note of
it.  What?"

"Come to school at Alison’s Cross Roads, Alabama, and we’ll teach you
how," said Posey.

"Helen, you will find me on the boat-deck by Mrs. Vereker," said Miss
Bleecker, majestically arising.  "I have had quite enough of this.  And
I consider it my mission to spend as much time as I can give to poor
Mrs. Vereker, prostrated by care and anxiety as she has been, and her
husband never allowed to come near her on the voyage."

A light sparkled in the wide-open blue eyes of the ship’s charmer, and a
smile hovered around her pretty mouth.  She was well aware that about
the second day out, the critical and finical Mr. Vereker had joined in
the universal procession toward her shrine. She had avoided an
introduction as long as possible, compelling her ancient admirer to
perform wonders of intrigue and diplomacy, before he was admitted to the
privilege of her acquaintance.  Since then, he had persecuted her for
walks on deck, secured for her white violets, at vast expense, from some
one who was taking them out in the ship’s ice-box for sale in London;
had sent to her table daily tokens of regard, from pats of choice
butter, bunches of black Hamburg grapes, and broiled birds, to Southern
"pin-money" pickles. Not content with these tangible evidences, Mr.
Vereker had promised her a dog, and invited her to motor with them
through Touraine.  The poor man, who had, in Miss Bleecker’s parlance,
"no stomach to speak of," was expecting the return of one of his
periodical attacks, when he would be forced to go upon milk and Educator
biscuits, too enfeebled to walk the deck and flirt, and wished to make
the most of his well moments; but, so far, Miss Winstanley had been
constantly engaged with others, and could not yield him the tête-à-tête
desired.

Miss Bleecker, enlisted under the standard of a complaining wife, was
gratified to leave the party, having hurled the final shaft. Mariol
liked the self-control with which Posey turned immediately to other
topics, no less than he appreciated the effort Helen Carstairs made to
atone for her companion’s venom by remaining awhile in conversation that
included the girl attacked. The Frenchman, who noted most things passing
near him, had been making up his mind that some strong personal reason
existed to keep Miss Carstairs in a state of mental self-defence against
the attractions of Miss Winstanley.  A judgment so clear and cool and
fair as Helen’s in ordinary matters, he had rarely seen, and he believed
her capable of more than the allotted amount of feminine generosity
toward those of her own sex.  As far as he had been able to gather, she
had never before seen or heard of this mysterious young person who had
made their voyage so gay.  What could the reason be?

It had not escaped him that the Southern girl, taking heed of Helen’s
low-pitched voice, of her quiet garb and reserved manner among
strangers, had profited by them to tone down some of her own
extravagances.  Already, Miss Winstanley’s hair was brushed simply back
in a glorious golden sweep, allowing its natural waves to reveal
themselves untortured.  Already, the obnoxious blue dress with its lace
transparencies, the redundant jewelry had gone into retirement, the
young girl appearing at dinner in white blouses as simple as Helen’s
own.  Better than all, she no longer challenged people within earshot
with her sentiments and opinions.

From time to time, Mariol had detected passing from her to Helen the
glances of homage a very unsophisticated girl bestows upon one she has
elected to make her heroine. And, despite this artless worship, Miss
Carstairs did not relent in her cool demeanor. She was civil always,
considerate often, but never yielding in keeping Miss Winstanley at a
distance.  The men at their table were unanimously beginning to feel
that a girl may win easily in the chief events of such a contest, and
yet be badly worsted in the end.

The only one among them who seemed to have preserved indifference on the
subject of Posey’s wrongs, was the quiet little man in the
mustard-colored tweeds, with the cowboy hat of sunburnt felt, who
accompanied the beauty to her meals, but was rarely seen with her
elsewhere.

One afternoon, however, she broke away from her cordon of admirers, and
finding the old fellow walking alone, linked her arm in his, adjusting
her pace to his.

"Why, little girl, what’s come to you, that the beaux have left you no
better company than mine?" he said, with the jocular homage of his
habitual manner to her.

"There isn’t much better company than yours, dad, and I’m beginning to
find it out," she answered, caressingly.

[Illustration: "There isn’t much better company than yours, dad."]

"Well, well, a compliment from the belle o’ the ship!  Reckon when I get
to London I’ll have to be buying myself a new suit, and a dozen o’
boiled shirts, though, come to think of it, seems to me I’m no great way
behind that Lord Channel Fleet o’ yours in the matter of clothes and
footwear—regular beetle-crushers, those shoes of his, and his hat an
even match for mine."

"He’s rather an old dear, anyhow," said Posey; "but I’ve got another
ancient on the string that’s too foolish to talk about.  That Mr.
Vereker—he’s dyed and made-up, and always fussing about his digestion.
He has a young doctor travelling with him to give him hypodermics for
his nerves, and they’re going to some queer place where he’ll have to
walk barefoot on wet stones, and diet, with a lot of grand dukes and
things that he just loves to talk about.  Aren’t they funny though,
these old society men?  Imagine you prancing around after young girls!"

"I can’t," said her father, simply.  "There isn’t a woman living, old or
young, that could take my fancy away from the girl I won in Baltimo,
after the wah.  She’s my love, the same now as then.  You’re pretty
good-looking, Posey, so people seem to think.  But your mother.  Lord!
She was a beauty, and as soft and gentle as an evenin’ breeze."

"I sometimes wish I had her now, daddy. Since I’ve been eighteen, and
everybody’s so good to me, I mean.  There are such lots of little things
a mother could tell me.  And to think I was the only child she kept—the
very last of your family—and she couldn’t have stayed with me!  Ah!
well, don’t mind me, dad, I’m happy enough with you."

"You certainly don’t often pull a long face, dearie.  If there’s
anything troubling you, out with it, and let’s see if I can’t help."

"It’s rather a big little secret, daddy. Maybe I oughtn’t have kept it
so long, but I was ashamed to tell, I reckon.  You see nothing like this
ever happened to me before."

The old man’s faded eyes kindled with sudden fire.  He halted her
suddenly, facing seaward, and together they leaned over the taffrail.

"Posey, it hasn’t got anything to do with John Glynn, has it?" he asked
with a tremulous eagerness of joy.

"Yes, daddy."

"He spoke to you before we sailed?"

"Just before.  That last evening, at the hotel, when you went off to
smoke with the nice old gentleman you fought beside at Seven Pines, and
left us sitting in the corridor looking at the people.  He said
everything that was nice about you, first; how you had been his father’s
dearest friend, and had helped him through college, and started him in
New York, and he loved you dearly, and never could repay the debt.  Then
he recalled how he and I had known each other as boy and girl, though he
always thought of me as nothing but a little kid, until he saw me last
year at home, and just now, in New York. He told me how hard he was
working, with scarcely a minute to call his own, and what a tough
struggle it would be to get up top, but that he meant to do it, if he
lived——"

"And he will—he will!" interrupted Mr. Winstanley, in accents of strong
pride. "He didn’t tell you, I’ll bet, that he never took up my offer to
stake him with funds for his expenses in New York, till he got square
upon his feet, and that he never drew a blessed cent of it?"

"He said you’d been more than good, but he wouldn’t impose on you.  You
see, daddy, John knows that all these years you’ve had as much as you
could do to keep us going, and have me educated.  I suppose he was as
surprised as I, when he found you were taking me abroad in style—you
extravagant old thing, you!"

"Of course.  Of course," murmured Mr. Winstanley, acquiescently.  "It
does seem extravagant, doesn’t it?  But we’ll manage to make two ends
meet, I reckon, if we pinch, afterwards, to make up for it.  Go on,
Posey, go on.  Tell me the rest about you and John. It is music to my
ears."

"I thought so, daddy," the girl said, with a tender sigh.  "And though I
wasn’t quite ready to do what he asked me, I couldn’t say no.  So when
he said you and his father had always wanted us two to be married, some
day, and would I consider myself engaged to him, until he was ready to
give me a home in New York, I just asked him to wait till the next day,
and I would telephone my answer before the steamer sailed.  And I did.
That’s what I was doing when you called to me that the carriage was
waiting to drive us to the pier.  I was shut up in the telephone booth
at the hotel saying ’yes’ to John."

"And you never gave the poor lad a chance to see you face to face
again?" exclaimed her father, every wrinkle of his face luminous with
satisfaction at the news.

"Ye-es," said Posey, "I saw him for a minute over the rail of the
steamer.  He just rushed down from his office the minute he could get
off.  I’d told him I’d write him all the usual things by the pilot-boat,
and from Queenstown; and he’d laughed and said he’d have to be satisfied
with that!  You mustn’t expect John and me to be silly, father, for we
aren’t a bit, either of us.  I ought to tell you that he’s been in love
with another girl, and it didn’t turn out well, and he put her out of
his thoughts forever."

"So that was what ailed the lad last Spring when I went North on that
business of the mine?  I might have guessed it, poor boy, he was blue as
indigo.  Well, it was handsome of him to tell you, daughter, and, my
word for it, your marriage will be just as happy as if he hadn’t taken
that other little notion before he saw that you were the real girl for
him.  It’ll all be blown away like the steamer smoke yonder, and he’ll
wonder at himself for ever thinking he could have put up with the idea
of any wife but you.  For that’s a man’s way, my dear, since the world
began."

"Was it your way, daddy?" asked Posey archly.

"My child, I was ready to put myself before the mouth of the first
cannon I met up with when I went into service, and be blown to atoms,
through calf-love for a young lady of our neighborhood.  She jilted me
to marry a widower, a Baptist preacher by the name of Simkins; no, it
was Lawson, I think—but never mind.  She had nine children when I saw
her next, and we didn’t recognize each other.  When we did, she talked
to me about Simpkins’es (it really was Simkins) asthma, without a break
for fifteen solid minutes, and I got away, thanking the Lord it wasn’t
my asthma, and my fat wife, and my nine children, howling and doing
stunts all over the house—yet I lived to be happier than any king with
the real angel of my life!  But, dearie, it isn’t the time to be talking
of anything but you and John Glynn, and the joy you’ve given me in
promising to marry each other some day.  He is the finest young man I
know, and the one of all in the world I’d choose to share what—there,
you do the talking, I can’t trust myself."

"Daddy, do you want me to tell you the whole truth and nothing but the
truth, the way I always have?  Then here it is.  What I’ve promised to
do, I’ll do.  I think just as much of John as you do, in a way, and I
was proud to have him ask me.  But I felt he was doing it because he had
made up his mind it was the thing of all others to please you; also,
because it was safe and right to anchor his life to a girl who belonged
to his own class, and had no ideas beyond the plain, homely things she
had been brought up to.  But he doesn’t know me, in the least.  I’m not
the girl he thinks, only a vain, conceited creature who loves admiration
and flattery and pretty things, and all the luxuries I see other people
having on this voyage, and the high-up places of the world.  I want to
live, to have my fling, and what’s worse, I want to be loved—really, as
I think it ought to be!"

Her voice dropped with her eyelashes; a burning blush ran up and
overspread her face.  Old Herbert Winstanley asked himself if this were,
indeed, his little girl, his romp in pinafores of a year or two back?
Whence had come the blooming vision of young womanhood who had
supplanted the Posey of his recent lean and struggling years?  What were
these obsessions controlling her?  He could not tell, and meekly bent
before the blast.

"I reckon you know best, daughter," he said, clearing his throat in some
embarrassment. "But this much I’m as sure of as that the sun is in the
sky.  You’ve done a wise thing, and a good thing, in engaging yourself
to John.  Be true to him and to yourself, and the rest’ll all come
right.  Only, it’s fair to tell you that you and John aren’t a-going to
begin as poor as poverty’s back door, the way we did.  I’ve had a little
streak o’ luck lately, and there’s cash enough to give you your fling in
Europe, and start you and John to housekeeping in New York in pretty
decent style.  He’s a luckier fellow than he knows, is John, only I
don’t mean to tell him so yet a while, or anybody else, and neither must
you, my girl."

"Could I have a cabin de luxe, and a French maid and a chaperon to
travel with, daddy," she asked with a glowing countenance, "instead of
half a stateroom with a horrid woman who drenches herself with scents,
and lectures me about keeping the light turned on while I do my hair?
Could I have a little string of real pearls, and one lovely pearl ring,
and a rug for my steamer-chair lined with otter, and tailor-made suits
that fit adorably—like Miss Carstairs, who’s just my ideal, though
she’ll hardly look at me?"

"We’ll see, we’ll see," mumbled Mr. Winstanley, looking as much alarmed
as did the fisherman in the "Arabian Nights," when he had let the Genie
escape and soar from the Magic Bottle.  "Seems to me you spent a good
lot shopping in New York the week we were there."

"I wish I could throw all that trash I bought overboard," said the girl,
gritting her teeth in vexation.  "Nobody but an idiot from Alison’s
Cross Roads would have chosen such things and thought them stylish."

"It may be so," said her father, resignedly, "but putting one fact
alongside another, it looks as if you’d had as good a show as any young
lady on board, daughter."

"Daddy, you are the dearest old bat!" cried she, revealing to his
astonished gaze her eyes full of big, bright, childish tears. "How can’t
you see that I’m only a peep-show, an amusement for all these people,
and that most of the women on board hardly speak to me?  I don’t care a
bit about that horrid old war-horse of the Scripture that snorts and
champs—Miss Bleecker!  I consider her beneath my notice, and she may
insult me all she pleases.  And Mrs. Vereker is another, and all their
set—dull, stiff women, with nothing but their wealth to recommend them."

"Well, if it comes to that," murmured Mr. Winstanley, involuntarily
clinking the sovereigns he carried in a buckskin pouch in his breeches
pocket, then checking himself and saying no more.

"They may say I’m a chorus girl all they’re a mind to.  I know I’m not,
and that you are one of the most honored citizens of our town, and we
came of good old stock.  I don’t deny I’ve wanted to go on the stage.
Till lately, I’ve simply yearned for it.  But that, and all sorts of
notions I had seem to have vanished away since I came aboard—since I’ve
known Miss Carstairs."

"That’s the young woman sits at our table?  Can’t say I blame you,
Posey, I kinder took a shine to her, myself, the first evening out; but
she chilled on me afterward, and I’m never for troubling folks with my
attentions."

"She chilled on you because of me, poor dear; for any nice girl in her
senses must see you’re a heavenly angel, if you do wear rusty tweeds.
She thought I was crude and aggressive and cheap, and so I am, maybe,
but I don’t mean to stay so; and if ever I get to be anything better,
it’ll be Helen Carstairs that’s started me.  But she won’t know it, and
won’t know me, and that’s really what’s bothering me so dreadfully,
daddy."

"Her father’s the great Carstairs, isn’t he?  Didn’t I hear John say
he’d indirectly given him a lift last year, and said some good things
about the way the boy managed a certain office job that came under
Carstairs’ eye?"

"Did he?  There now, daddy, is just the girl John would have been wise
to get, if he could.  She might have helped him up the ladder by just
putting out a finger-tip.  And he is so ambitious, so fastidious.  I
could see that little trifles about me jarred on him constantly—the very
things these lords and grandees aboard admire the most it seems. He
called them provincialisms, and Lord Channel Fleet says they’re simply
delicious. Who am I to believe?"

"Ah, my little girl, I can’t tell you, and that’s the truth.  But John’s
apt to be right, only whether or not Miss Carstairs is his ideal, you
just be yourself, and don’t put on any frills.  You can’t help being
lively, thank God, nor true, nor generous, for you’re your own mother’s
child.  You’ll make friends, never fear, the only trouble to my mind is
lest they should be those who care for you only because——"

"Why, daddy, one would almost think I am something in disguise.  You
needn’t be afraid of any one on this trip, however. They’ll all forget
me the day the ship touches Liverpool."

"Well, it don’t matter much when we’ve got John behind us, does it,
daughter?  I reckon he’ll be proud as I am to hear what a belle you’ve
been.  There’s only one thing it’s crossed my mind he mightn’t fancy
over-much—your going around with that lord fellow that’s been so much
talked about—that Clandonald man, I mean."

"Oh! daddy, _don’t_!"

Mr. Winstanley had thought himself, through experience, prepared for
most of the idiosyncrasies of femininity as developed by his daughter,
but he could not have reasonably counted upon the look that came into
her face as she made this protest.  It caused him to stare, shake
himself like a wet dog, scrutinize her again narrowly, then utter an
exclamation familiar to him only under stress of strong emotion.

"Stonewall Jackson, daughter!  I want to know!"



                              *CHAPTER IV*


The measure of Mr. Winstanley’s curiosity was, however, not to be
satisfied on this occasion; since, almost immediately, the colloquy with
his daughter over the "Baltic’s" rail was destined to interruption by
Lord Clandonald in person, who came up to ask if Miss Winstanley were
ready for their walk.

Since the first evening of their meeting, he had fallen into the habit
of seeking her out in a half-shy, wholly unemotional manner, and of
spending a half hour or so in her company listening to her merry chatter
and insensibly lightening and brightening out of the heavy lassitude
that had possessed his soul for so many weary months.  With returning
animation, the real beauty and high distinction of his face revealed
itself.  Posey, who had thought of his title merely as a pleasing toy,
who had as yet acquired none of the prevalent worship of her average
countrymen for the glamour of a place among the hereditary nobility of
the lands they affect to surpass in achievement, liked to be with him
because of three things—viz., the great strength and beauty of his body,
his gift of beautiful diction, and the melodious speech that rang upon
her ear like a chime of perfect bells.  She also enjoyed his way of
brushing his hair and putting on his clothes, and not caring in the
least what anybody on board thought of him or said of him.  At least,
that is what, had she possessed a confidante of her own sex, Miss
Winstanley would have admitted concerning her indifferent admirer.

He had come to her as a man who at thirty considers himself to have done
with life, and consents to take up incidental diversion by the way.  He
had never met a girl so ignorant of the world, so inexhaustibly
interested in things and people, so fresh and healthy, yet innately
refined, so daring, yet so sure of herself that no man might take a
liberty with her in speech or action; and above all, so pretty.

So deliciously pretty!  The woman whom he had ruined his life by
marrying, five years before, had been accounted a beauty, and was a
gentlewoman by tradition and association. As he had seen Ruby Darien
last, in the divorce court, she seemed a mere made-up creature who would
go to pieces at night in her maid’s hands, a thing of artifice and
stimulant, of base passions and shallow emotionality, already a
has-been, although barely his own age.  At what time of her existence
was it that she had made his pulses thrill with her loveliness?  Could
he have ever considered Ruby the peer in looks of this stray maiden come
upon by chance to be soon parted with, and never seen again?  He hated
to think he had believed himself Ruby’s lover during the time before he
had found her out.  He loathed the days before he put her away, when,
for his boy’s sake, he had kept on terms with her outwardly.  After his
child died, and he had taken his opportunity to be a free man, he often
thanked God, that following that voyage of his wife’s to South Africa he
had never thought of her as beautiful.

But except for the somewhat languid admiration excited in him, the young
American had not yet stirred the deeper fountains of Clandonald’s
feeling.  Mariol, observing the progress of affairs, was quietly
content.  He really considered the acquaintance with Posey a species of
mild cure, like a visit to a German health-place where one eats brown
bread and baked apples, and goes to bed at ten o’clock.  If it had been
Miss Carstairs, now, upon whom these desultory attentions of his
lordship had been bestowed, Mariol, having ascertained this lady to be
the daughter of the world-famous financier, would have been much more
actively concerned in forecasting for her a place among the white
peacocks at Beaumanoir.

It was about Beaumanoir that Clandonald now found himself obliged to
talk with Miss Winstanley.  With the lightning-like rapidity of growth
in steamer intimacies, they had all come to discourse of one another’s
domiciles and surroundings, and Mariol, whose æstheticism rejoiced in
his friend’s noble old forsaken home, had shown the girl a photograph of
it.  Posey, like every Southerner, had an instinctive love and reverence
for the historic element in English country homes, and the ancient
moated dwelling in whose grounds monarchs had taken their pleasure
appealed keenly to her otherwise concrete and contemporaneous view of
things.  To see it was like stepping out of a modern railway station
into an old-world garden of ripe delights.  And to be actually walking
up and down decks with the owner, albeit he looked like other men and
had his hands thrust in the pockets of an indifferently shabby ulster,
was a fillip her imagination had not previously known.

A little teased, a little flattered by her queries on the subject,
Clandonald yet felt assured that her interest was impersonal and
genuine.  When he remembered how Ruby had hated to stay at Beaumanoir,
preferring any small stuffy hotel in Paris or Rome, or on the Riviera,
Miss Winstanley’s real enthusiasm was refreshing.  It almost made him
want to go back himself to that spot, haunted by the ghosts of dead
beliefs, near which the poor little boy slept, under a tiny mound in the
churchyard that he was always trying to forget.

Strange, now it always came to him when alone in a balmy wood, with
birds singing and sun filtering through the branches; or on Sundays when
a church bell rang; or if he awoke suddenly in the middle of the night;
or in looking at a field of haymakers and distant grazing sheep!  It was
not a keen pain any longer, but only a sobering, tender thought, and the
man was better for it afterward.  Now, again, as he thrust his hands
deeper in his pockets and strode up and down beside the girl, dodging
other walking pairs, and wishing there were not so many people in the
world who wanted to do what he did, the image of the little green mound
arose across the waste of wide Atlantic.  Was it Posey who inspired his
one sacred remembrance?  He could not tell, but went on letting her draw
him out about his lovely impoverished Beaumanoir, until she was touched
and astonished at the feeling he revealed concerning it.

"Oh!  I am sure you will have it all once more, and be able to enjoy
everything as of old," she exclaimed impulsively.

"Perhaps you don’t know why this is impossible," he answered, gulping
down the bitter fact, "It is quite hopeless for me to live decently
there, on all I am ever likely to have in the way of income."

"And I, like a goose, keep always ignoring the money question in
connection with those beautiful entrancing old English places. I’ve read
about them so often in a book we have of ’Dwellings of the Aristocracy
and Gentry,’ and also in ’Country Life.’  They seem to have been created
to go on for ages by themselves, in a state of suspended animation, like
the Sleeping Beauty’s palace. If you won’t think me silly, I’ll tell you
that when I get hold of a copy of ’Country Life,’ I imagine myself
living in one house after another of the illustrations, and I want to
buy all the horses and dogs and sheep and everything in the
advertisements, except, maybe, incubators, which are horrid unnatural
things, and the smelly stuff they put upon the grass and flowers that
can’t say ’don’t’!"

Clandonald laughed.

"Rather my own idea.  But I supposed all you people of the South owned
large estates and many acres to experiment upon."

"Oh! dear, no!  We personally never owned anything bigger than a
back-yard, until my father was persuaded by a man to go shares with him
in some land I never saw, where they found both coal and iron.  Last
year the man died, and my daddy, who had paid up most all the purchase
money, came into possession of the whole property.  I believe it’s
turned out better than he thought, and he’s lately got something good
out of it, else certainly we’d not have had this trip to Europe.  I’m
glad you never saw Alison’s Cross Roads, Lord Clandonald.  It’s just the
homeliest, pokiest little place in Alabama, and the people are good and
kind, but commonplace to a degree.  The houses are all of wood with
jig-saw trimmings and the paint half worn off.  Nobody thinks it
necessary to improve anything, and the negroes swarm over everywhere,
and rule the land."

"Then I suppose you’ll call me jolly impertinent," said he, "if I wonder
how you grew up as you are in the middle of it."

"I don’t know!  I just did.  People have grown tired, down there, of
holding up their hands over me.  My teacher at school, who was born
North, was the only one that ever understood why I wanted anything
different from the rest.  She took several magazines, and told me about
others, that I persuaded daddy to subscribe to.  She lent me books and
talked to me, but two years ago she decided to marry in New York, and I
lost her. She lives there now, dear soul, in an awfully little flat.
Her husband is in the insurance business, and she edits a column of
’Advice to Girls.’  She says she fairly hates some of the idiots who
write to her asking the most drivelling questions.  But to please the
editor, she has to dissemble, and call them dears and answer like a
guardian angel when she had rather choke them and be done with
it—because the work pays the butcher’s bill and half the gas!"

"Has she taught you that such poverty is evened by the good to be
acquired from the married state?"

"I think so.  At least, she and Mr. Bartley have a good deal of fun out
of things. Their greatest treat, when their maid’s cooking gets too
impossible and Mr. Bartley is growing thin, is to go to dinner at an
Italian restaurant, a dollar each, with wine, and to eat enough
spaghetti to last another little while.  Mrs. Bartley got fifteen
dollars for looking up facts and dates in the Astor Library for a
fashionable lady, who was allotted to read a paper on something she
never heard of before, at a meeting of her literary club.  Mrs. Bartley
ended by doing the whole thing, and the lady was so fascinated by
herself in typewriting, that she sent a check for fifteen instead of
ten; so the Bartleys took me to their restaurant for dinner, and
afterward to the play, in cheap seats.  Yes, I think the Bartleys are
all right.  If their kitchen door could be kept shut, and the smell of
cooking be banished from the parlor, I believe they’d be as happy as
most people who are married, anyway."

"Perhaps, if you and your father are to be in London, you would let me
take you out to dinner and cheap seats at the play?"

"Wouldn’t I love it?  But you can’t drag daddy to the theatre, and I’m
not like Miss Carstairs, blessed with a chaperon.  Do you notice that,
as we are getting ’half-seas over,’ Miss Bleecker’s English accent
becomes more pronounced?  She is forever talking about when we are ’in
town,’ and regretting that it is out of the season, because so few of
their great friends will be there to welcome them. She calls all the
American duchesses by their first names, and the other United States
peeresses that she didn’t play with in infancy, she must have brought up
by hand."

"I am afraid I am too lowly a personage to claim the lady’s acquaintance
in future," said Clandonald, indifferently.  "But I confess I should
like, for my friend Mariol’s sake, who has conceived a vast admiration
for her charge—to manage to ask Miss Carstairs and himself to join you
and your father in a run down to Beaumanoir for luncheon, while you are
’in town.’  It is pretty, there, in autumn, and there are sure to be
some good peaches on the garden wall."

"How adorable!" exclaimed Posey. "Daddy might go to that, if I beg him,
but Miss Carstairs—!  There’s the difficulty. She won’t more than look
at me.  I wonder why you, who are born really higher up in the world
than Miss Bleecker and Miss Carstairs, never let me feel that I am only
a druggist’s daughter!"

"In Athens, they tell you Aristotle kept a chemist’s shop," answered
Clandonald, laughing.  "And I have always understood that some of the
most illustrious of the families in New York’s Four Hundred were founded
upon drugs."

"If it wasn’t pills, or capsules, or hair tonic, it was some other kind
of merchandise!" said Posey, viciously.  "And, anyhow, what does it
matter?  There was a sentence I copied out of a book of Maarten
Maartens, that Mrs. Bartley lent me, about there being no other way of
living than either on the money you have earned for yourself, or on the
money that other people have earned for you.  As long as that simple
fact remains, the question will also remain whether money-making is so
very contemptible!"

"Try any man living, with an honest chance, and see what he’d answer,"
said Clandonald with a sigh.  "I’d give anything I own for a respectable
business that would bring in the cash and the knowledge of how to run
it, _bien entendu_."

"You poor thing!" exclaimed Miss Winstanley, guilelessly.  "Why weren’t
you born in dear America?  Of course if you _could_ go stalking around
in chain-armor like those ancestors of yours at Beaumanoir, it wouldn’t
seem so appropriate.  But just to look at you as you stand, to-day, I
should judge there were the makings of a fair business man in you.  Look
here, Lord Clandonald, I don’t know that I was ever better pleased in my
life than by that idea of yours of our going to lunch at Beaumanoir with
Miss Carstairs. I don’t mind telling you I just adore that girl—and the
combination of her company with a moat and yew trees, and wall-peaches,
and the chance of seeing English rooks—and Miss Bleecker not ’in it,’
I’ll be eternally obliged."

"It seems to me the host counts for unflatteringly little," said
Clandonald, somewhat piqued.

"I didn’t mean to have you think so," answered she with astonishing
gentleness, "I was only carried away to forget my manners by realizing
so many dreams at once.  Indeed, I am glad, or shall be, to meet you
again after this voyage.  Now, I’m going to ask you something that will
make you laugh, perhaps, but please don’t.  Could you give me the
address of a really good place in London where I could get frocks and
hats, ready-to-wear, that would keep me from looking like a guy?"

Poor Clandonald winced at thought of just how he had become acquainted
with the best _faiseuses_ in London, whose bills he had paid to the
uttermost farthing, after the ex-Lady Clandonald had ceased to be.  But
he could not help smiling at the earnest anxiety of his questioner.

"I think I might help you a little, perhaps, but surely——"

"Surely there ought to be some woman aboard to do it?  Of course you
think so, but if I could tell you half I’ve divined, and some things
I’ve overheard from them, you’d know I’d never ask one of them.  Why, I
heard that old Vereker tabby say to the old Bleecker cat, as distinctly
as could be, that I was a freak in clothes and a bounder in manners, and
she wondered the captain let me go at large."

"Oh!  I say."

"Perfectly true, and I had it out of her by trailing her half-dead
husband after me all over the ship, until he hadn’t a leg to stand on;
and I put a rose in his buttonhole under her very eyes.  I’ve been
ashamed of it ever since, but when a girl’s got to fight her own
battles, what would you have?"

"There should be always some one glad to fight for you," he said,
suddenly fired by her proud young beauty in distress.

They had, while speaking, walked down to the dividing rail that cuts off
the promenaders of the second cabin from the first-class decks, and for
some moments tarried there, Clandonald with his back to it, Miss
Winstanley facing him.  As the Englishman spoke these unpremeditated
words of warm sympathy, for the second time that day there had come into
the girl’s artless face an expression she certainly had no idea of
revealing.  It caused Clandonald to pull himself up with a jerk, and
stay the vague, rather affectionate, words he had been on the point of
uttering, without, perhaps, meaning to have too much importance attached
to them. And it was further reflected in the shining green eyes of a
second-class passenger in shabby black, standing near by the barrier,
wearing a veil of black gauze with large coquettish velvet dots that
half concealed her undulated locks of unreasonably ruddy hair!

It was not the first time the green gleam of those watchful eyes had
been fixed upon Clandonald and his companions.  He had, in fact, been
under their close observation whenever practicable since leaving New
York harbor, in the course of their owner’s predatory walks, as she
alternately drew near and receded with graceful feline tread, seeming to
look at nothing, yet forever alert where the good-looking, lazy young
Englishman was concerned.

The youthful steward who distends himself for the public good by blowing
the bugle for lunch was, on this occasion, the agent of Providence to
relieve a strained situation. Clandonald could not, in the face of such
a blast, go on with his implied offer of championship.  The second-cabin
passenger glided swiftly back across her little bridge, and was seen no
more.  Miss Winstanley, announcing herself half-starved, went to her
stateroom to wash her hands.  And his lordship, to calm his feelings,
partook of a certain small, specially reviving, bitter-sweet draught,
which his servant had acquired the gentle art of mixing, during their
sojourn in San Francisco.  On the way into the dining-room, he found
Mariol just ahead of him, amid a congerie of stewards hurrying to and
from their pantries with their arms full of crockery, and in an
atmosphere tinctured with out-rushing odors of cauliflower and curried
rice, gave his friend a word of counsel.

"I have been talking with Miss Winstanley," he said.  "The truth is,
Mariol, the poor girl is being pecked by all these women, until it
hurts.  You have some friendship, perhaps some influence, with Miss
Carstairs. Persuade her to be generous, and take the outsider in.  It
will cost her nothing, and I’m hanged if I understand why she’s been
such an icicle, as it is."

"Did Miss Winstanley invite your intercession?" asked Mariol, dodging
back from contact with an inclined plane of mutton broth, in a tilting
china plate marked with the White Star’s emblem, borne aloft by a deeply
apologetic steward.

"No.  Absolutely no.  She’d fight to the last ditch before she’d give in
to them.  But I have an ulterior motive.  I want to ask the two young
women with my dear old aunt, Lady Campstown, to play propriety, to come
down with you to Beaumanoir some day next week, and if they hardly
speak——"

"Under these circumstances, I will engage to attempt the impossible,
though whether I achieve it is quite another story.  I, too, have been
at a loss to fathom Miss Carstairs’ apparent intention to ignore our
pretty table-mate.  I had fancied her too sure of her own position to
care about a mere difference in social status.  I have found her
perfectly amiable.  But if, by any chance, the discussion of Miss
Winstanley comes up, there is an immediate stiffening of the muscles of
the neck and chin, the clear eyes become veiled, and she turns the
subject.  I could almost fancy, but that they never met before, there
was some personal animus between them."

"Tell her the girl is her devoted lover from afar, makes her a model in
all things, and that we owe the agreeable modifications of the fair
Posey’s dress and manner exclusively to Miss Carstairs’ example."

"That is a happy suggestion, and may accomplish good results.  But did
you ever know a man’s eulogy of a woman effect anything with her own
sex?  It is generally successful only in confirming the worst
predispositions, and in precipitating animosity where latent antipathy
had sufficed.  Still, who could resist the exquisite flattery of such
imitation as our Posey’s of Miss Carstairs? Fix your day for Beaumanoir,
my dear chap. I consider our cause gained in advance."

"Do you know, Mariol," said Clandonald as the two men sat down at table,
where the ladies had not yet arrived, "I have sometimes fancied that you
yourself are getting rather under the spell of the young lady you have
engaged to placate in Miss Winstanley’s behalf."

"Do you know, Clan, that I never before suspected you of the imaginative
gift? Nothing but Jonah’s gourd—was it Jonah, and was it a gourd?—that
grew up and withered in a night, could have had so little time allotted
to its natural development, as a fancy by me for Miss Carstairs."

"That is no argument.  I have read of love affairs beginning at the
Statue of Liberty and culminating before the Gulf Stream was crossed.
There is really no better medium than mid-Atlantic air for the growth of
the tender passion.  The leisure of a good voyage is like the forty
years of Europe compared with the cycle of Cathay."

"It seems to me that you are exculpatory."

"I wish to heaven I might be!" exclaimed Clandonald, smothering his very
genuine regret with a forkful of the roast beef of old England pastured
upon Western plains.

The talk that morning with Posey Winstanley had awakened in him certain
emotions of a simple elementary sort that, in spite of him, still
twanged upon his heart-strings, pleasingly.  He had, however, been by no
means prepared for that upward glance of her childlike orbs when he had
offered her his sympathy.  While the normal vanity of the male creature
thrilled in quickened interest in response to it, his judgment, his
sense of responsibility, nay, of honor, called upon him loudly to let
the thing go no further.  A patent and audacious coquette on the
surface, she was at heart a child who had as yet tasted no reality of
sentiment for one of the dominant sex, and to whom such reality would
inevitably come with extraordinary force.

The whimsicality of her having selected him—a battered plaything of the
Fates, who did not want her, who could not indulge in her—for the object
of a dawning first passion, struck him hard.  He resolved to keep out of
her way, and considered how he could have his meals elsewhere, or take
to his bed for the remainder of the voyage.  The projected luncheon at
Beaumanoir should be carried out, and that done, he would have acquitted
himself, _en galant homme_, of all that could be reasonably expected of
a travelling Briton toward visiting Americans who had contributed to
cheer his voyage across the Atlantic.

To begin the new order of things, he let himself be absorbed in
conversation by Miss Bleecker, his pet aversion, who leaning over the
table, her ample bosom begarlanded with chains and cords, each one
sustaining some necessary implement for the aid of vision, far or near,
and all of them entangled, was in her best spirits.  She, Lady Channel
Fleet, and Mrs. Vereker, had been in their deck chairs since broth and
biscuits to the present moment, discussing the American women who had
married into the British nobility. The three ancient heads cowled in
veils and furry hoods—for the air off the Banks had had in it a tang of
ice—had bobbed together during this time with a vivacity of movement
suggesting the cinematograph.

Mrs. Vereker’s sciatic leg, which it was the mission of her good-looking
footman to keep enwrapped with rugs, when he could forego flirting with
the ladies’ maids, had been frequently exposed to the biting wind, and
yet she did not notice it.  Lady Channel Fleet, who, with her husband
and a maid, had been doing America economically in somebody’s private
car, at somebody’s expense, wisely kept quiet; since, if she shivered,
there was no James to wrap her up.  Miss Bleecker, more serene, indeed,
than Buddha, in her position between a British matron of title and one
of New York’s leaders, did not feel the cold.  Except in a parterre box
at the opera (with the best people), she had no greater idea of
happiness than such surroundings; with a long, uninterrupted morning in
which to rehash old stories and acquire new ones concerning the ladies
under discussion, whom she secretly considered the elect of earth.

Lady Channel Fleet, conscious of having had more honors paid to her in
America than in the whole course of her undistinguished life at home,
was proportionately inclined to be critical of Americans, now she had
come away.  Her strictures upon their extravagance in living, which she
had enjoyed to the top of her bent, the largeness of their houses and
the smallness of their grounds, their ridiculous way of running after
strangers, and the extraordinary interchange of matrimonial partners
among people one knew and visited, were interspersed with various bits
of gossip she had been able to pick up in England concerning American
peeresses who had not received her at their houses and were, indeed,
unconscious of her existence.

It had been rather a bitter pill for Mrs. Vereker, who was hand-in-glove
with all these fine people both in England and New York, to have to
listen politely to Lady Channel Fleet.  But, then, Mrs. Vereker had
already stood so much in the line of incivility from the British dames
of high place upon whom she had lavished courtesy during their sojourn
in the land of the free, that she was a little hardened.  She knew that
on arrival out, she would go from Claridge’s to stop at country houses
where Lady Channel Fleet’s star would never even faintly rise.  She was
secure in being able to buy herself a good time and the best of
everything wherever she might go, and felt, on the whole, content.  Miss
Bleecker, on the contrary, who had no such solid foundations as her
friend, felt in listening to Lady Channel Fleet as acutely pained as if
she were reading one of Mr. Benson’s or Mr. Hichens’ novels, wherein
modern Americans of good society are made to say "Popper" and "real
nice."  She could hardly imagine how her nation could arise to ignoring
these dreadful accusations.

But when Lady Channel Fleet had incidentally let fall that she always
presumed Miss Bleecker, from her speech and manner, to be an
Englishwoman born, Miss Bleecker had forgiven all.  She redoubled her
powers of entertainingness, brought out a few newer, racier anecdotes of
persons known to all of them, and the luncheon bugle had caught the
gossips unawares, making them feel the morning quite too short.

"I suppose we shall see you at Mr. Vereker’s little supper this evening,
Lord Clandonald?" said the chaperon, suavely.  "One knows what to expect
in the way of private dainties, when Mr. Vereker entertains—game, wines,
patés, caviare put up for him on the Volga, flowers, grapes and melons
from his own glass houses, and such turtle soup as only the Vereker
_chef_ can send aboard.  And to think the poor man has to sit at the
head of the table, drinking milk and swallowing little tablets out of
his waistcoat pocket, looking gray as a ghost, and thin as a rail, not
able to touch a thing of all his delicious spread!"

"Mr. Vereker has been so good as to include me," answered Clandonald.

"I believe most of those at our table are expected," the lady went on,
in a hardly lowered voice, "with, of course, one or two exceptions.
When Mr. Vereker crosses alone they say his parties are apt to be a
little mixed.  But with his wife aboard—she is so thoroughly exclusive,
one need never fear."

What might have been omitted from the words, was accentuated by a manner
of contempt whose objects there was no mistaking. Mr. Winstanley as
usual appeared not to be listening to the passing chat; but his daughter
lost not a syllable or look; Helen Carstairs, also, fully appreciated
the situation. While Posey, with rare self-control, kept her own counsel
and remained silent, Miss Carstairs, flushing faintly, spoke so that all
present could hear her.

"I’m afraid I’m one of those who fail to appreciate the honor of Mr.
Vereker’s invitations, ashore or afloat.  Who was it who said to be left
out by him was a greater compliment than to be placed at his right
hand?"

"Helen, I’m surprised to hear you talk such nonsense," began her
chaperon briskly, but was interrupted by Posey Winstanley, who with a
grateful glance at Helen, spoke in tones as quiet and measured as her
own.

"Then I am certainly past getting the benefit of Miss Carstairs’ hint,
Miss Bleecker, since Mr. Vereker asked me first, before seeing if he
could get the others; and I was rash enough to accept."



                              *CHAPTER V*


MR. Vereker’s little supper proved all that Miss Bleecker had claimed
for it in the matter of exotic luxury.  American beauty roses, as fresh
as if they had bloomed that morning, decked the centre of the board, and
a corsage bouquet of royal purple violets lay beside each lady’s plate.
The unpleasantly pallid host, with skin drawn like parchment over his
lean jaws, his hair and mustache unnaturally black, sat at one end, and
(to the dismay of Miss Bleecker, who had been made to fit in at the
side) Miss Posey Winstanley upon his left, opposite my Lady Channel
Fleet in a rumpled cotton blouse, still wearing the turquoise earrings,
with the addition of a turquoise chain to hold her eyeglasses.

Posey, in severely plain white voile, with a picture hat and white
feathers framing the waves of her splendid hair, thanked her stars that
she had had Helen Carstairs’ example in dress long enough to profit by
it for this occasion.  She saw in half a glance that her frock, the
result of the best skill of the dressmaker at Alison’s Cross Roads, who
called her by name in fitting her, could not vie with the dove-colored
confection with its all-over embroideries that sat so easily upon
Helen’s erect form.  But she knew that it was unobtrusive, and the
little slip of mirror above her washing-stand had told she was at her
best.

It had been an ordeal that of dressing while her cross room-mate, who
made a virtue of what she called "retiring" early, continued at
intervals to extend her head like a turtle’s from its shell, and inquire
whether Miss Winstanley would be very much longer! Posey was fain to go
outside and have the finishing touches put to her toilette by the
stewardess, Mrs. Gasher, the bib of whose white apron covered
sympathetic interest, since she knew about the supper, and that the
ladies to be present were dead set against the beauty of the ship.  When
she had stuck the last pin, Mrs. Gasher maternally informed Miss
Winstanley that she looked pretty enough to beat the Jews, and would
find her ’ot water covered with a towel when she came in again to go to
bed; and if she couldn’t get undone herself, never to mind ringing up
Mrs. Gasher.

Under this cheerful inspiration, Posey had marched into the saloon to
find the others all in place, an empty chair kept for her at the host’s
left.

She had been hoping to be next Clandonald—for no reason but that she
wanted it. Instead, she had but a cold glance from him across the table,
at which she quailed because she thought she read in it displeasure.
And immediately he turned back to his conversation with Prince Zourikoff
about Silver or Trusts, or Labor, or some of those tiresome things, and
looked at her no more.  The only consolation for this awful blow was
that Helen, sitting between Mariol and Bobby Vane, had smiled at her
kindly when she came in late.

Miss Bleecker, beside the Graf von Bau, who occupied the seat to the
left of Mrs. Vereker, decided that the world was out of joint.  Lord
Channel Fleet, at the right of his hostess, looked tired, and when Miss
Bleecker effusively addressed him upon topics of contemporaneous
interest in London, gave her but scant answers.  Graf von Bau, after he
had exhausted civilities with the lady of the feast, had but eyes and
ears for the spot where Posey had already begun to outdo herself in
characteristic nonsense.

"That girl!" said Miss Bleecker, between her teeth, to Mr. Charley
Brownlow, a serious-faced, clean-shaven New York clubman of whom the
utmost his friends and enemies could find to say was that he was "always
everywhere."  "It is not enough to defy poor dear Mrs. Vereker, who
flatly said she should not be asked, but to make herself so conspicuous.
See, every man at table, except you——"

"I don’t know her, don’t you know? Never met her anywhere," interposed
Mr. Brownlow gravely.

"Of course you didn’t—as I was saying, every man at table but you, and,
I’m glad to see, Lord Clandonald, can look at nothing else.  I suppose
she went too far with Clandonald, and he wants to put her back in her
place.  Everybody understands old Vereker’s rage for a pretty face,
though I, for one, can never see good looks in a common person. It’s
scandalous the way she’s going on to-night.  Mr. Vereker’s trying to
make her take champagne, and she pretending she never drinks it!  Poor
Lady Channel Fleet, what a trial to sit opposite her!  Now, we shall
have a fresh batch of stories circulated in London about the way
American girls act; and the worst of it is you can never get the English
to see the difference between people of our stamp, and hers.  Why, I
don’t believe Lord Channel Fleet and Clandonald take in, at this minute,
the enormous distance between my Helen and that impossible young person.
What’s that they’re laughing at?  Something saucy she is saying to Lady
Channel Fleet, I’ll wager."

"What do we do for chaperons, at home, Lady Channel Fleet?" Miss
Winstanley was remarking, her head well in the air, and the spirit of
mischief securely seated in her eyes. "Well, we don’t need ’em greatly
at Alison’s Cross Roads, where I live; but if there’s a party at the
other end of town, your best young man generally calls for you in a
hack. And when he brings you home again, about three or four in the
morning, you give him your latch-key to open the front door, and if
you’re not tall enough, you get him to turn out the gas in the vestibule
before he goes."

"Good Heavens!" ejaculated Lady Channel Fleet, growing purple.

"Why not, I’d like to know?" exclaimed Posey, sturdily.  "We consider it
awfully swell to be taken that way, and the fellows that can’t afford a
hack generally bunch together with the girls and all go in the tram; and
it’s lots of fun, I tell you.  Just bully!"

Mrs. Vereker exchanged glances of mute despair with Miss Bleecker and
Mr. Brownlow. The others laughed frankly, Clandonald, only, remaining
smileless, and Helen Carstairs coloring with a futile desire to arrest
Miss Winstanley’s progress in confidences.

As well attempt to stay Niagara!  A demon of recklessness had possessed
himself of John Glynn’s promised bride, and poor Posey went from bad to
worse, talking continuously, her cheeks flushed to the color of the
American beauties lavished upon the table, her eyes glittering defiance;
while old Vereker, who had desired nothing better, applauded her every
utterance, and urged her to further daring.

"She should stop now," whispered Mariol to Miss Carstairs, who was
looking very grave.

"Oh, indeed I think so," answered Helen earnestly.

"For her own sake, if there is no one else whose interests are to be
guarded."

Helen started perceptibly.  No one else whose interests were to be
guarded?  What of John Glynn, and where was the friendship Helen had
promised to keep for him in lieu of the love she had withdrawn?
Impulsively, she leaned forward, caught Posey Winstanley’s eye, and into
her own beseeching, all-womanly gaze threw an appeal not to be resisted.

Clandonald, who had begun to be sickeningly annoyed by the scene, and as
far as possible avoided looking directly at the heroine of the hour,
happened to note this little episode.  Remembering what Posey had told
him of Helen’s influence over her imagination, he was touched but not
surprised at the younger girl’s response.  Posey, blushing hotly,
drooped her eyes, and in an instant, as if with a garment cast aside,
had parted with her aggressive gaiety.  During the remainder of the meal
she sat dull and spiritless, and at its close, when she had promised to
sing one song for them, tried to get out of it and leave the party.

There was a general outcry of remonstrance. Bobby Vane, coming around to
lead her to the piano, whispered to her to do her best and silence the
tabby chorus.  When she finally yielded, and sat down, expectation ran
high among Mr. Vereker’s faction that the girl would give them something
audacious to be remembered.

It was but a "Mammy" chant, she breathed, rather than sang, in a _voix
d’or_ that softened all hearts within hearing; and before they could
applaud it she struck firmer chords, and began Lockhart’s Spanish
ballad:

    "Rise up, rise up, Xarifa,
    And lay your golden cushion down."


The song and its setting were unfamiliar to most of those present.
While it lasted, they forgot the grinding of mighty screws that bore the
ship ever forward, they heard not the wash of ocean coming through the
open ports.  They were in ancient days of warlike Spain, and all their
sympathy was for the lovely Moorish lady forsaken by false Abdallah.
Everybody within hearing was drawn irresistibly to listen in ravished
silence. And when for the last time the hapless Xarifa refused to come
to the window and "gaze with all the town" at her recreant lover riding
by in state, the honors of the evening were clearly for Posey
Winstanley.  At that moment, all but a few of the audience were prepared
to be led or used by her, as one feels when Calvé softens to sing a
folk-song of her native land.

Amid the patter of applause Miss Winstanley abruptly arose from the
piano, and said she was going out to get a breath of air. There were
protestations, but only the host, who looked at her with bleared,
enraptured eyes, ventured to ask her to sing again.  Then, Mr. Vereker
finding his proposition for Lillian Russell’s latest success unheeded,
allowed the departure of his star, rejecting all offers of
companionship, to be the signal for breaking up the affair.

Everybody scattered, the men to the smoking-room, the ladies to their
cabins.  Helen Carstairs, with her maid in attendance, came back almost
immediately, and stood for a moment hesitating in the companion-way of
the deck where she had last seen Posey.  Here she encountered
Clandonald, who, like herself, seemed to be at a loss.

"I am undertaking a formidable task," she said.  "To look for a missing
person in this ship; but have you chanced to see Miss Winstanley
anywhere?"

She saw that his face was clouded, his calm ruffled.

"I myself have been on the same search," he said, brusquely.  "But we
may as well spare our pains.  The young lady in question appears to be
at present under charge of Mr. Vereker."

Helen had but time to let her face show the annoyance of her feelings,
when out of the clear obscure of the deck beyond, against a background
of sky "patined with such bright stars" as never Shakespeare saw, came
to them a flying figure.  It was Posey, flushed with angry blood, and
after her limped their host of the evening, his spectral face wreathed
in apologetic smiles.

"Oh! please, Miss Carstairs, may I stay with you?" exclaimed the girl
with quivering lips, in her agitation putting herself between Helen and
Clandonald, who involuntarily interposed his stalwart form so that none
else could approach her.  "I didn’t realize how late it was when I went
out to be by myself in the fresh air."

"Miss Winstanley is just a _leetle_ nervous after her triumphs of
to-night," began Mr. Vereker, who had come up with them—smoothly, but
ill at ease.

"I am not nervous.  I never was in my life," cried the girl, stamping
her foot.  "It is because—because——"

She ended in a burst of passionate tears.

"Let me go with you to your room," said Helen, gently.  "I had wanted to
ask you for a little walk, but it is late now, and the deck people are
for putting us all to bed."

"High-strung little filly, and green; green as grass," observed Mr.
Vereker to Clandonald, as Miss Carstairs disappeared, leading Posey down
the corridor.  "If you’re up to a little poker in the smoking-room, I
can tell you a thing or two about our bewitching girl from Dixieland
that will amuse you greatly."

"You will excuse me," answered Clandonald, with lightning in his gaze.
Mariol, passing in at the moment, saw Vereker shrivel under it and
disappear.  Clandonald gave his friend a clue to the situation.

"If you had followed your impulse and punched the old sinner’s head,"
commented Mariol, "it might have been a poor return for his hospitality,
but a mighty relief to you.  However, we can safely leave him to the
gods for punishment.  He will probably go under to-morrow, with one of
his attacks, because he drank champagne for supper.  I understand that a
trained nurse for him makes part of the Verekers’ travelling suite. He
will become a horrid elderly infant in her hands.  I am glad Miss
Carstairs came to the relief.  I hope you noticed that fine movement of
hers to check the exuberance of the younger girl?  I had no time to put
your suggestion to enlist her into effect before the thing occurred.
And now——"

"Now, I think we may count upon our day all together at Beaumanoir.  But
till then, and after it, Mariol, I mean to keep my distance from Miss
Winstanley."

"The trouble was that you began doing it too suddenly.  From the moment
she caught sight of your glum countenance at supper the sparkle went out
of things for her.  But, _bon Dieu_, what a gift she has, that untrained
creature!  Somebody ought to take charge of her musical education, and
in a few years she would witch the world."

"There is something better for a pure, straightforward being like that
to do than to witch the world behind footlights," said Clandonald
doggedly.  "I can’t think of it for her."

"My advice to you is to get off at Queenstown," answered Mariol as they
separated for the night.


"You are not sleepy?  That’s good, for I’m not, either, and I’ll just
send away Eulalie, and we’ll go into my room and talk."

Posey’s heart lightened with pleasure as she followed Miss Carstairs
inside the pretty bower Eulalie’s skill had contrived from her young
lady’s belongings for the voyage.  What a contrast to the half of a dull
inside cabin which Mr. Winstanley, in his simplicity, had accepted for
Posey from the agent of whom he had purchased places; with the spinster
room-mate humped under the bedclothes on the sofa; her clothes and hats
hanging overhead distractedly; their steamer trunks and bags encumbering
the narrow space between hers and Posey’s berths!

Here were unimagined comforts, order, nicety, a little brass bed with
flowery curtains, softest pillows and duvets, a bath room opening out,
with porcelain tub; an equipment for the toilet that astounded Posey,
till then content with her little cotton night-gown trimmed with
tatting, her kimono of cheap blue flannel bought ready-made, her one
brush and comb, and tooth-brush, and bottle of Sozodont, her knitted
slippers, and the steamer-pocket of blue denim with the motto "Bon
voyage," presented to her on leaving Alison’s Cross Roads by her friend
the dressmaker! But she showed no more surprise than an Indian does on
his first visit to the glories of the White Father at Washington.  Truth
to tell, she had already arrived at the stage of development where
things tangible have become of secondary importance to feelings and
emotions.  She had passed, that evening, through so many varying phases
of mental experience, that Helen Carstairs’ new kindness seemed the
opening of the gate of Heaven.

"Now if you feel like it, and think it will do you good," said Helen,
installing her in a cushioned chair of Madeira wicker-work, and,
herself, perching school-girl fashion on the settee, "you must tell me
what troubled you, though I think I can guess."

"He tried to kiss me, that hateful old mummy that I’ve done nothing but
make fun of on the voyage," cried the girl, fiery blushes streaming into
her face.  "If he hadn’t said such fool-words when he did it, I might
have thought he was just like old Grandfather Billings of our town, that
always dodders along in the sunshine and kisses the girls when they stop
to speak to him, thinking they’re their own grandmothers.  But even
Grandfather Billings has never kissed me.  I hate it, and never would
put up with it from a living soul, so when old Vereker tried it on, I
boxed his ears, and boxed to hurt, too, and then I ran away.  What
business had he following me out on deck, anyway, when I’d said I wanted
to be by myself?  If daddy knew—but he shan’t know, he’s too good to
trouble, and I reckon I can take care of myself."

She ended bravely, but one glance into Helen’s grave, kind face sent her
again into tears.

"Oh!  Miss Carstairs, don’t mind me.  Let me be a little while, and I’ll
promise not to bother you again.  After you looked at me that time at
supper, I seemed to shrink up into such a poor pretending creature.  I
saw in a flash how cheaply I’d been ’showing off.’  It was mostly to
make those people that looked down on me sit up on their hind legs,
anyway! I felt common and half-bred beside you, whom I’d been trying so
hard to imitate since we came aboard.  I do want to be a lady, your
kind, I do, I do.  Not only for my own sake, and my mother’s, who was a
real one, but because—if you only knew——"

"I am ready to know," said Helen, after a pause, her voice, in spite of
her, curiously flattened.

"I am engaged to marry a man, to whom it will mean everything that I
shall be, let me say, all you are.  And there’s a great reason why I
should try to please him in those things. How strange that I should want
to tell you such an intimate secret, out of my very heart! But there is
no other woman I can talk to, and that look you gave me seemed to open
every door within me!"

"I will help you if I can," Helen breathed, rather than spoke.  Her
spirit, wrestling with the certainty that crushed it, was yet ready to
rise to generosity.  Was it not what she had bid John Glynn do in the
moment of his acutest suffering?  Find a younger, fresher, more trustful
life-partner than herself, and put swiftly out of mind their disastrous
venture together that could not end in happiness! What right had she to
be feeling these fierce heart-beats of rebellion against the child’s
superior claim upon him, these desperate yearnings to have him back
again?

"I am ashamed to let you know what will make you think even less of me
than you do. When I promised myself to John Glynn—there I’ve told you
his name, but it doesn’t matter—I did so because I thought it would make
my dear daddy, who was in some sort his guardian and his father’s best
friend—happier than anything in the world.  Also, I was flattered that
he should ask me.  Down at Alison’s, where John lived as a boy, they
think he has taken the head of his firm into business with him, and that
all New York looks on admiringly.  He’s about the greatest hero we have
after Lee and Davis.  He’s a splendid man, Miss Carstairs, perhaps you
_have_ heard of him?  I remember now, daddy said Mr. Carstairs had
spoken well of John. When that Lady Channel Fleet had the cheek to say
at supper, she considered the American men, as a rule, inferior to their
women, and decidedly so to Englishmen, I could have flown at her, and
asked her to wait till she’d seen John."

Helen, conscious that something of the same mental protest had
formulated itself in her during the same period of provocation, could
not forbear a smile.  Fortunately, Miss Winstanley, being fairly
launched upon her confidence, did not pause for answer or comment.

"You will see, then, that I do honestly mean to be what I ought, to
John—that—I have no other wish or fancy—and yet there is another
influence that’s come without my seeking—one that could not bring me
happiness. It frightens me to think of it.  I don’t know what to do,
where to turn.  Think of putting the thing of a day and hour against the
other, the safe one, the true one!  Yes, it frightens me.  Miss
Carstairs, you are older and wiser than I, tell me what I shall do to
conquer it?"

All the voices in Helen’s heart sang in chorus, in answer to this simple
and pathetic appeal.  The voice of joy, the voice of temptation were
louder for awhile than the others, but she dared not let them prevail.
She had never been a demonstrative person, and the touching of
strangers, under no matter what stress of sympathy, was an impossibility
to her.  She did not, therefore, "lock Posey in a warm embrace" and
"kiss her upon the virgin brow," bidding her be of good cheer, as all
would yet be well between John Glynn and herself.  But she told her,
calmly and dispassionately, that it is probable no girl ever grew up to
womanhood to escape some errant fancy for a man whom she afterwards
thanked God she had not been allowed by Destiny or her parents to marry.
She counselled her to indulge in no dreams or reveries or
self-questionings about the matter, but to keep to the pledge she had
made, and give all her energies to the task of making a good man happy.

Posey brightened wonderfully during Miss Carstairs’ little lecture.  As
she ran off to bed, it was with the joyful step of a freed school-girl
and the feeling that she was not altogether steeped in wickedness.
Half-way down the corridor, she turned, ran back, and ventured to knock
again at Miss Carstairs’ door.  Her errand was the very feminine one of
asking Helen to be so good as to undo "two wretched hooks" in the region
of her shoulder-blades; a service she knew Mrs. Gasher would never at
that late hour be awake to perform for her.  When Miss Carstairs opened
the door, standing in the aperture in some surprise to know what was
wanted, Posey felt sorry and puzzled to see that her new friend’s eyes
were filled with tears.

As Miss Winstanley, finally relieved from the apprehension of having to
spend the night in a cuirass of white voile with many little pipings of
satin and a good deal of scratchy net, crept in like a thief at her own
cabin-door, her room-mate roused up and groaned dismally.

"Seems to me I’m to have not a wink of sleep to-night.  Just as I’d
settled down for my first nap, there came a stupid steward with a note
for you.  I told him to put it in your berth and go out as quick as he
could, and since then I haven’t closed my eyes."

"Thank you.  I’m sorry you are not resting well," said Posey, still
under the influence of her recent gentle mood.  "Is it anything you’ve
eaten, do you think?"

"Eaten?  I never eat at sea," sniffed the sufferer.  "It’s my nerves, as
usual, and since you’ve roused me up completely, I’ll thank you to mix
me another trional powder, and not to turn up the light.  While you’re
about it, you may’s well step outside and get my rug off the rail, and
put it over my poor feet.  Blocks of ice they are, cold feet are
constitutional in our family.  Humph!  Single fold, not double, I don’t
want to smother.  I should think your father’d know better than to let a
girl like you go traipsing around a ship alone at this hour of the
night.  Perhaps, if you’d heard what I did, since I’ve been lying here
trying to count sheep and say the ten table, you’d haul in your horns a
bit, and not think yourself such a museum wonder.  The people in the
next room were talking about you, and I heard the man say as plain as
anything: ’If I wanted my daughter to keep her good name, I’d not let
her go out on deck at night with that gay old bird, Tom Vereker.’  And
the woman answered: ’Some people’s heads are so turned with vanity and
fine company, they don’t take ordinary care.  It’s the talk of all the
decks how she’s laying herself out to catch that disreputable lord, and
he and his French friend calling her "dead easy sport," in the
smoking-room.’"

"Did any one say that such words had been actually used about me by
either of those gentlemen?" asked Posey, stopping short, her eyes
blazing in the dark.

"How do I know all that’s said, lying here a wretched victim of nerves,
and nobody caring if I live or die?"

"I ask you, only, was it stated that either of those gentlemen said
anything approaching to those words of me?"

"For goodness’ sake, speak lower, Miss Winstanley, you’ll be overheard.
Some people have no consideration for others, especially girls at night,
when people are trying to fall asleep.  If there’s a race I consider
utterly heartless, it is girls."

"I am not going to let you sleep or rest," went on the avenger, calmly
taking off her hat, "till you answer my question in plain words—yes or
no."

"N-o-o.  I don’t know that it was actually _said_, but the lady inferred
that Lord Clandonald and his friend couldn’t _think_ anything else, if
you continued to give yourself away, as you’ve been doing."

"Very well!  I understand.  And, since we are due at Queenstown day
after to-morrow, I shall ask you to oblige me by not addressing to me a
syllable, good, bad or indifferent, so long as I have the misfortune to
remain your room-mate.  If we collide with something, and go down, don’t
even inquire of me where the life-preservers are.  And now, since I want
to read my note, I mean to turn on the electricity and do so
comfortably, and you may wake or sleep, or go on inventing spiteful
fables, whichever you prefer. From this moment, I am done with you."

Certainly, Posey knew how to take care of herself.  But there was always
a swift following of regret and penitence when she had let her clever
tongue loose upon an opponent, and while the subdued spinster sobbed
under her bedclothes, the girl rather miserably opened one of the ship’s
envelopes, to find, written upon a slip of paper, in an angular and
illegible, but educated, woman’s hand these words:

"When next you invite a certain friend of yours to supply you with
frocks and hats, take care that it is not within hearing of one who is
well acquainted with Lord C——’s limited generosity to the reigning fancy
of the hour. Better fix your hopes upon the older and more solvent of
your swains.  It will pay well, and be a less dangerous game for you."

As the insult burned upon the girl’s understanding, it seemed to her
that the world must stop revolving then and there.  It was her first
experience of the poison of anonymous correspondence, that, in an
instant, ran through her veins, paralyzing her with shame and
humiliation.  How could she face daylight and the society of honest
folk, with a stain of such suspicion upon her?  What had she brought
upon her honored father, upon her trustful lover, by exposing herself to
such an imputation?  Would Helen Carstairs ever speak to her again, if
she knew what had been thought and said of Posey Winstanley?

She turned out the light, and cast herself upon her berth.  Now, over
the tumult of her self-flagellations, arose the actual sound of a mighty
wind arising to bear down upon the ship.  It had come up suddenly, their
room was upon the weather-side, and, in her already nervous state, the
sounds seemed the shrieking of all the demons chained in hell. While the
spinster, now avenged, snored peacefully through the tumult of elements
outside, Posey lay wide-eyed, trembling, imagining all horrors of the
sea, and praying for the comfort of Mrs. Gasher’s friendly voice.

"If we are to be lost," passed through her mind, despairingly,
"everything will be forgotten that has been said of me, and it is better
so."  She longed to go to her father, but dared not, considering his
distance from her, and the unpleasant fact that he shared a stateroom
with two other men.  The silence of the ship seemed as unnatural as the
failure of increase in its motion.  The curtain drawn over their doorway
swayed ever so slightly back and forth, there was no creaking of timbers
or crash of crockery, or rolling of small objects upon the floor.  A
glass of water left on the washhand-stand was not disturbed in its
equilibrium.  Surely this was strange, weird, unnatural, with such a
tempest raging on the sea!

Now Posey decided that, on the whole, she did not wish to die.  Driven
by panic, she arose, still dressed as she had been for the supper, and
stole out down the long, empty passage-ways upon a tour of
investigation, to encounter no living soul save a sleepy night-steward
standing under a light, to con an ancient newspaper.

The man looked up sleepily as the unwonted apparition drew near him.  He
recognized the beauty, and from her pallor and agitation decided she
must be ill.

"Anything I can do for you, miss?" he asked politely.

"Oh! no.  Nothing whatever," answered Posey hurriedly.  "I was only not
sleeping well, and feeling a little nervous in the storm."

"Storm, miss?" queried the steward abstractedly, swallowing a yawn.

"Yes, a fearful one.  On our side, it blows like mad.  Surely you must
hear it?"

With the ghost of a smile hovering upon his face, the man walked over
and gave a look out into the night.

"It _might_ be half a gale," he said dubiously. "But you see, miss, in
these ships we sort o’ get out o’ the way of knowing what is going on
outside!"

Half a gale!  Posey’s inclination to resent the belittling statement
went back to bed with her, but presently her sense of humor got the
better of the other poignant emotions, and she laughed at her own
alarms, of which the interruption had, on the whole, proved a wholesome
one; and at last, completely wearied out, fell into deep sleep, amid the
continued howling of the harmless wind.


The gay voyage that had begun so buoyantly passed, at the finish,
beneath the shadow of a cloud.  The first sight of land gave but a sorry
welcome to the new-comers, as it immediately disappeared under a dense
curtain of fog.  The ship crept up the Irish coast to the melancholy
tooting of the siren, answered by other craft, from ocean liners to
humble trawlers, made Queenstown toward morning in an interval of clear
weather, and, relapsing into the embrace of fog, came next evening
finally to anchor for the night at some distance from Liverpool to await
a safer opportunity of docking the monster, and letting her passengers
ashore.  During the dolorous hours preceding their final parting the
disappointed passengers, before so friendly, smiling, intimate, seemed
to draw away from each other, darkling and afraid.  Smiles, jokes, good
stories, civil speeches and compliments had been apparently packed up
with sea rugs and steamer chairs.  The decks, dripping and cheerless,
offered no attraction to promenaders, the library was filled to
oppression with forms bending listlessly over books that could not hold
attention.  Every desk held diligent scribblers, glaring suspiciously at
each other through the top of the separating screen, their places
awaited by more would-be correspondents impatient of delay.  In the
companion-ways, subdued people huddled together or walked over the
unfortunate beings with buckets whose duty it is to swab the sticky
linoleum underfoot.  A reminiscent odor of their last sea-dinner arose
to mingle with suggestions, coming none knew whence, of bilge, fresh
paint, tarpaulin and wet ropes.  The only thoroughly lively mortals to
be seen were the stewards bustling everywhere; the tidy stewardesses,
with their cap-streamers flying; and the ladies’ maids and valets who
hoped to get their charges early to bed, thus advancing their own time
of freedom and farewell.

At a comparatively early hour, the usual spaces where passengers
assemble were deserted, most people giving up the pretence of being
exhilarated by near approach to the British Isles.  The dining-saloon
displayed still a few groups sitting around the tables sipping from
glasses, reading or talking; the smoking-room alone retained its usual
features of cards and conviviality.

Here, toward ten o’clock, Clandonald, looking more than commonly bored,
arose from a game in which he had not acquitted himself with brilliancy,
and strolled outside, alone.

Since the night of the supper, he had not been called upon to put into
effect his stern resolution of eschewing Miss Winstanley’s society.  She
had come to her meals late, or early, contriving to avoid more than a
passing contact with her acquaintances at table. While the rest of them,
notably Bobby Vane, deplored this circumstance, attributing it to a
caprice or an indisposition; while Miss Bleecker secretly chuckled with
delight that the enemy had so soon struck her colors, and Helen wondered
in silence why there was no following up on Posey’s part of the
promising beginning of a friendship between them; while even the astute
Mariol was nonplussed at the young girl’s sudden drop in spirit and
voluntary abdication of her past as reigning sovereign, Clandonald felt
himself a prey to more acute and genuine feeling concerning her than he
had ever dreamed of experiencing. So far from going ashore at
Queenstown, it was now his ardent wish to stay on the ship till he saw
the last of Miss Winstanley at Liverpool; since Mr. Winstanley had
announced that instead of running up to town on the special steamer
train with their friends, his daughter had taken a fancy to see Wales,
and they would accordingly stop over at Chester.

Up to the moment, perhaps, when Clandonald had interposed himself
between Posey and her annoyer, it had not occurred to him that he could
feel for her anything more than man’s honest delight in youth and
extraordinary beauty, as well as the titillation that came to his mental
part from her amusing indifference to his rank, her straightforward
appeal to his comradeship.  Even the fleeting revelation in her gaze
that had occasioned his resolve to fly, had excited until then in him
little more than regret at the misadventure.

When he had brusquely stood himself in Vereker’s way, Helen Carstairs
had not observed what caused a current of pleasure to run through his
veins, and a quick rush of protective tenderness toward Posey to fill
and overflow his heart.  Involuntarily the girl had pressed nearer to
him, slipping her arm through his, and, for the few seconds that this
attitude endured, he had wanted never to part with her again!

Then she had started away from him, almost guiltily, and Miss Carstairs
had carried her off in tears!  From thenceforward a blank, as far as a
return to their old relations went! Clandonald, puzzling himself wofully
to know what he had done to alienate her, had spent hours in meditation
upon the theme. Now that he had lost her, the possession of her
guileless friendship, still more of her possible love, had become of
supreme value and importance; to win it he was ready to forfeit
anything, even to throwing over his excellent and devoted Mariol, whose
keen glances worried him, and whose wit and wisdom had temporarily lost
their flavor.

And so the last hour of the last evening had come around, and his last
chance to speak with her had gone!  He knew how it would be on the
morrow.  Nothing less conducive to an exposition of the tender passion
in any of its phases can be found than the landing on a foggy day at
Liverpool, with its crowds and coal smoke, its lowering skies, and dingy
surroundings, its hustling porters and watermen, the rush and rumble of
a great industrial city beginning at the water’s edge, after the
inspiring solitudes of three thousand miles of salt water.

He would see her only amid a confusion of sights and sounds that would
effectually prevent any but the most banal phrases of adieu. She would
pass away from him and become as had all the other women he had met,
like the dissolving foam wreaths in their track across the Atlantic.  He
was annoyed with himself for feeling it so much.  The thing was out of
all reason.  Perhaps, after he had speech with her once more, he might
better realize what an ass he had been to imagine she cared for him.
Things, in short, would adjust themselves on a common-sense footing.

But he could not get speech with her.  An overture to that effect,
somewhat clumsily conveyed before dinner-time, had been rejected by Miss
Winstanley in such terms that Clandonald felt vexed and mortified,
wondering what or who could have set her so against him.

And here, at last, when he stepped out on deck, into the glare of the
electric lights, intending to return to his own room and prosaically go
to bed, the Fates would have it that he ran upon Mr. Winstanley
shivering like a true Southron in the raw atmosphere around the ship’s
anchorage, his daughter clinging to his arm, looking most lovely in her
furs, her cheeks of a vivid carmine, the little locks on her forehead
drifting and curving in the moist air.

"Pretty dismal lookout, isn’t it?" said the old gentleman cheerily.
"Kind o’ evenin’ that makes one think o’ a tumbler full of hot Scotch,
and a big snappin’ wood-fire, with a couple o’ little darkies tumblin’
over each other to bring in the fat pine knots."

"If I could fly with the crow over in that direction," said Clandonald,
pointing toward the invisible shore, "I know of a hearthside not far
off, where at least part of those conditions would be fulfilled to me!
It is in the house of an uncle of mine, where as a boy I considered it
Paradise to go, and still do, sometimes for the shooting.  One of those
homes of merry England (a misnomer now, I grant you) that you have
expressed so kind a desire to see, Miss Winstanley.  I sincerely hope,
by the way, that you haven’t forgotten your promise to persuade Mr.
Winstanley to give me a day at Beaumanoir, and that you’ll settle upon a
date with Miss Carstairs—who has also agreed to honor me—before we leave
the ship."

"You are very kind, but our plans are undecided," said the girl, in a
low, tremulous tone.

"Seems as if the sea hadn’t agreed with daughter this little bit,"
observed Mr. Winstanley. "She sort o’ thinks she’ll stop by a few days,
along the road, before we get to London.  So this is a British fog?  A
No. 1, I reckon.  I hope you won’t think me impolite if I call it a
regular searcher, sir.  At this moment I feel it in the marrow o’ my
bones.  But anything to please the ladies, and when Posey said she’d a
headache that wouldn’t leave her till she got a turn outside, out we
came to admire your English coast scenery, I tell her—Great Scott,
Posey, I’ve gone and done it, now!"

He had been fumbling in his breast pocket for a handkerchief, and drew
forth the missing article with a vexed look upon his mild old face.

"Done what, daddy?"

"Left my letter of credit in a coat in the steamer-trunk that was packed
for storage in Liverpool.  And they’ve likely carried it out a’ready!  I
must find that steward right away, dearie, and tip him to hunt it up."

"Let me go with you, please."

"You’d only be in the way.  If you want to finish our walk, stay here,
and I’ll come right back for you.  Perhaps Lord Clandonald wouldn’t
mind——"

"Oh! no, father!  I’ll stay alone."

The voice was decided, even positive. Clandonald, bowing, moved away in
another direction than that taken by Mr. Winstanley.

It was over.  He had done with Posey Winstanley and all her kind.  If
she were so capricious as her actions indicated, this decision was a
thoroughly good thing.

But all the same, like Lot’s wife, he looked back.  Posey had taken out
her pocket handkerchief, and was wiping her eyes with the little wisp
half the ship had picked up after her.  Clandonald, in two strides,
returned to her side.

"I am not going to push myself into your company.  Just two minutes, and
I’ll be off. But I think you owe it to me to say why you are treating me
like a scoundrel or an impostor."

"Oh! not that, not that!" she cried piteously.

"Have I done anything to forfeit a place among your decent acquaintances
since that time you clung to my arm and—I mean since you let me feel
that I might stand between you and insult——"

"Nothing.  I believe in you just the same, and always shall."

"Thank you for so much, at any rate. But—you believe in me, in _spite_
of what?"

"Oh!  Lord Clandonald, how can I say it to you?" she exclaimed, driven
to the wall.

"I have stood a good deal of evil speaking in my time," he said, in a
grim undertone. "And if it helps to clear the atmosphere between us, I
can stand more."

"It is not you only, I, too, have been the victim of cruel and
slanderous sayings.  I have not told my dear father, who is so
unsuspicious.  I wouldn’t have him suffer as I have for the world.  For
the last twenty-four hours I have been receiving, in all sorts of odd
ways that I cannot trace, anonymous notes about you and me that have cut
me to the quick."

"Let me see one of them," he said, growing slightly pale.

"Do you think I’d keep the horrid, poisonous things?  Not a half hour
since I tore the whole batch into little bits, and threw them overboard.
Perhaps ... I ought to tell you, they were written by a woman, who
says——"

"Go on, Miss Winstanley."

"—That you wronged her cruelly and ruined her whole life."

"I thought so," he said, between his teeth. His face had grown so dark
and bitter that Posey hardly knew the man.  "There is only one who
could—but how, in God’s name, did she get aboard this ship?"

"I suppose the writer thought I would not have courage to tell you—but I
always believe in speaking out, you know."

"It may be some low practical joke at our expense," he suggested, his
eyes lightening.

"No, even I, who never saw an anonymous letter before, could tell that
this is horridly real.  Whoever it is, Lord Clandonald, you—and now
I—have a desperate enemy. I am threatened with a scene, an exposure, she
calls it, that will disgrace me utterly, if I am seen again with you."

"Let me risk it for you!  Let me stand between you and all liars, evil
speakers and slanderers, for always—" the man exclaimed passionately,
then stopped short.

There was that in the girl’s look that startled him from his
unconsidered speech. The staring white light of the electric globe
immediately above them showed the bloom forsaking her young face, the
lips trembling violently.

"It proves how little we know of each other that I should let you say
such words to one who has no right to hear them," she said, recovering
herself to speak in her natural tone.  "But if we mayn’t be friends,
after this, please remember that I have believed you, not your
slanderer.  Now, as my father doesn’t seem to be coming back, and this
is not my native air, if it is yours, I will say good-by.  We’ll be too
busy and too cross to want to speak to each other to-morrow morning,
even if it were wise.  If you meet me again, it will be a different
Pamela Winstanley, one who knows more, perhaps, and makes fewer
mistakes, but who’ll never forget your kindness on this voyage."

Clandonald was bewildered at her rapid change back into the speech of
conventionality, her self-control, her determination to put him
definitely away from her.  His brain was also dizzy with thoughts of the
dread presence on shipboard of the one woman he had hoped never to see
on earth again.  What he might, could or would have answered Miss
Winstanley was not said.

They stood together uncertainly for one confusing moment in what seemed
a moist gray world, haunted by skulking shadows in tarpaulin, the chill
wind of the Channel whipping them, overhead the repeated raucous roar of
the fog-horn—and then she was gone, melted away into encompassing gloom!
His ship-idyl, his mad brief temptations of a few moments since, were
past.  He was back again in England with his bitter memories and
cheerless future.

To Mariol he gave, before bed-time, an account of the outrage to which
Miss Winstanley had been subjected, begging him to try to trace out the
offender, and silence her at any cost.

The Frenchman, promising to do this, and relieved at the collapse of his
friend’s nascent affair with Miss Winstanley, was hardly surprised, on
awaking next day, and finding their ship safely alongside her dock in
Liverpool, to be told that his lordship, impatient of delay, had gone
ashore during the night in the tender that had nosed its way to the
fog-bound liner to carry off the mails, leaving his servant to follow
with his luggage.

Mariol, after attending unsuccessfully to the business entrusted to him
by Clandonald, encountered Miss Carstairs, her chaperon and maid, on
deck awaiting the summons to go ashore.  He stood by them, commenting
with amusement upon the sudden disintegration of the ardent intimacies
of the voyage. To judge from appearances, the chief aim of the
passengers was now to rid themselves of one another as promptly as
possible.  People who had sworn fidelity over night were offish,
mysterious, absorbed in petty anxieties about customs, telegrams, trains
and tips.  As usual to inexperienced tourists, the latter question arose
to be a cloud that was ultimately to overshadow the glories of European
travel. What attendants had been remunerated according to service done,
what countenances had darkened, who had seemed satisfied, was discussed
in whispers between anxious family groups.  Farewell sentiments bestowed
upon friends one thought one had seen the last of were found to be
superfluous, since the recipients were sure to be found again
provokingly popping up everywhere; on the gangway, on the docks, and
facing the customs officers.  Lucky if one were not to be thrust
together with them into the same railway carriage, all to arrive in
London hating each other heartily!

M. de Mariol, without appearing to do so, had scanned narrowly the
outgoing crowd from the steamer.  No trace had appeared, here or
elsewhere, of the familiar figure of Clandonald’s former wife.  A
suggestion occurring to him that the excursive Ruby had been last heard
of in America, and was probably returning under an alias, made the
search in the passenger lists a futile one. Whatever were the facts in
the history of this obnoxious and insufferable woman, he must give her
up for the present as a bad job.  He felt almost inclined to believe
that some one else had thrown suspicion upon her, in order to cover a
low attack upon Miss Winstanley and Clandonald.

As he and Miss Carstairs started a little later to walk together up the
inclined plane leading to the Euston Special, they beheld, in the
street, Mr. and Miss Winstanley getting into a four-wheeler laden with
archaic trunks, from the window of which Posey waved to them a sober
last good-by.

At the same moment they were asked to step aside to give place to an
invalid chair containing Mr. Vereker, greenish-gray of complexion,
scowling at all the world, and escorted by his nurse and doctor.  No
vestige remained of the effusive host, the ladies’ gallant, the purveyor
of choicest scandal from the clubs!  His wife and valet, with Mr.
Charley Brownlow and a train of servants and porters, brought up the
rear of the cortége, pressing importantly forward to reach their private
car.

Miss Bleecker, whose soul always melted tenderly to the sorrows of the
rich, could not lose this opportunity.  Stepping up briskly, she
proffered her condolence to the suffering magnate, to be repelled by a
savage gesture and a snarl of annoyance at being spoken to, that caused
the irate lady to retire in crimson confusion.

She was the more perturbed by the incident, because not only did her
dear friend Mrs. Vereker decline to make amends for her husband’s
ill-manners, but she murmured audibly to Mr. Brownlow that "Sally
Bleecker never did know how to stay in the back row."  Additionally, the
chaperon’s discomfiture was increased by the appearance of Lord and Lady
Channel Fleet, who with their depressed maid hugging a jewel-case
containing the well-known turquoises, were hastening away to the joys of
home and their native land.  Lady Channel Fleet enjoyed the little
scene.  She had just whispered to her husband that she’d be thankful to
get to their own house, where at last they wouldn’t see Americans or
hear them talk.

The next acquaintance to pass by Mariol and Miss Carstairs was Prince
Zourikoff, who, from between two porters carrying some Aztec images he
had secured in Mexico, gave them an abstracted nod to supplement his
polite farewell achieved on board.  Dear old Graf von Bau was already in
the embraces of his loving spouse and two gigantic daughters, who were
kissing him violently upon both cheeks, and, attended by a secretary,
governess and maid, had come over from Berlin to meet and reclaim their
wanderer.

"Thus vanish Miss Winstanley and her little court!" said Mariol in Miss
Carstairs’ ear.  "It is true, Bobby Vane clung to her till forcibly
taken possession of by his elder brother, whom the Kenningtons sent down
to fetch him safely home.  The lad was sufficiently hard hit, and if the
young lady had been ambitious of making an English alliance of rank, she
might have secured him—to the disgust of the Kenningtons, of course,
since Bobby has nothing, and the Winstanleys are evidently in modest
circumstances."

"I believe I can surprise you there," said Helen.  "As we are all
scattering, it can make no difference to any one—certainly on this side
the globe," she added, with a faint sigh.

"I like an _après coup_.  Please tell me," answered he, smiling.

"First, tell me something.  If you like, that is, if not, let it go.
From what you have observed, does it strike you that a friend of Miss
Winstanley’s would be justified in thinking that Lord Clandonald has
fallen in love with her?"

"Lord Clandonald left the ship without making any arrangement for a
future meeting with the young lady," said Mariol, diplomatically.  "And
to my best knowledge, there is no likelihood of his seeing her, unless
by chance."

Helen drew a long breath, but not one of relief.

"Because," she went on, "her good old father came yesterday to thank me
for some imagined kindness to his daughter, and, in the course of
conversation, told me that he had recently become the owner of a
large—very large—fortune, but in his desire to protect her from
’interested’ suitors, had determined to keep the knowledge of it from
her. He asked my advice as to the wisdom of the step, poor soul!  I told
him that I had had some experience of paternal mismanagement in this
regard, in the case of a friend of mine—and that I thought Posey ought
certainly to know."

"I agree with you," commented Mariol, astonished, and, for Clandonald’s
sake, just a tiny bit depressed.  "What a difference it would have made
on board, had it been suspected that our social sovereign was possessed
of a golden foundation for her throne.  And since you have mentioned my
friend Clandonald’s fancy for the young lady——"

"It was rather unfair for me not to have told you at once," interrupted
Miss Carstairs, "that I am aware of reasons why such a fancy on his part
for Mr. Winstanley’s heiress, or of her for him, would have produced
disastrous results in America."

"She is, then—" began Mariol, trying to keep the vexation from his
voice.

"Mr. Winstanley said that he thought it best for any one interested in
his daughter that there should be no concealment of her engagement to
marry a man whom she has long known—of whom he thoroughly approves, and
that his daughter was willing to have it known.  A man whom such a
marriage will help in the best way, since when they became engaged, he
knew nothing whatever, nor does he now, of her improved fortunes."

"Lucky fellow!" said Mariol, swallowing a grimace.  "But I must own to
you that the circumstance robs the fair Posey of a good deal of her
interest in my eyes.  You, Miss Carstairs, are so far removed from their
estate of happy barbarism, you are so broad, so far-seeing, you won’t
object to my suggesting that the image of Miss Winstanley’s mate chosen
from among her friends of early years does not allure me.  He is, in
fact, a total extinguisher of my desire to meet her after she shall have
become his wife.  Now, own that you yourself have a shudder of mild
distaste when you think of what he must be!"

"On the contrary," said Miss Carstairs, distinctly, "I have the pleasure
of knowing Miss Winstanley’s fiancé; and I consider him not only one of
the most manly men, but the truest gentleman in the circle of my
acquaintance."


"Helen, here is a compartment that will just hold you and me and
Eulalie, comfortably, and we will tip the guard to let us have it to
ourselves," came in Miss Bleecker’s penetrating tones.  "Good-by, M. de
Mariol, we shall always remember our pleasant voyage, and I shall
treasure that clever thing you wrote in my birthday book.  Sorry not to
have seen Lord Clandonald to say good-by, but we shall all meet again,
of course, people always do.  Don’t forget if you are in town, any time,
we are in Curzon Street for a fortnight, and then Paris, Hotel
Westminster. Eulalie, you have Miss Carstairs’ black jacket?  Porter,
look out for those umbrellas in the netting, put my dressing bag beside
me, the tea-basket overhead—where is the other rug?  Oh!  I see.  Ten
pieces, all right, porter, here you are, for you and your mate.  _What_,
not enough?  Ample, and more than you deserve.  Helen, how could you
give him another shilling, when you know that is what shows any one with
half an eye you are just from the other side?"



                              *CHAPTER VI*


The luncheon at Beaumanoir, although lacking the young lady for whose
delectation it had been proposed, came off to the satisfaction of at
least four of the five people present, viz., Miss Bleecker, whom it had
been impossible to omit; M. de Mariol, who, cynicism to the contrary,
was delighted with a chance of showing Helen Carstairs the noble old
place in a lambent day of mid-October; Helen, herself, frankly pleased
with the entertainment; and good old Lady Campstown, whose mind having
long set itself upon the thought of her nephew’s remarriage with a
wealthy American girl, as a happy issue out of all his difficulties,
chose to construe the occasion into a presentation to her of the future
chatelaine whose dollars were to stop the chinks in Clandonald’s
ancestral roofs, and her virtues to gild anew the escutcheon dimmed by
her unworthy predecessor.

"If she’s an American, she’ll probably go straight," thought Lady
Campstown, after having first informed herself through a New York lady
so long resident in London as to suffer acute pangs upon being reminded
of the place of her nativity, that Helen’s father was "_the_ Mr.
Carstairs whom everybody had heard about."  When Clandonald had proposed
to his aunt to preside over his little party, her ladyship had not dared
ask him the direct question that was burning upon her lips.  She had
contented herself with his answer to her rallying query whether upon his
travels he had met any of those wonderful girls from the States the
modern novelists write about, that he fancied the supply would always be
equal to the demand for that commodity.  And when Miss Carstairs, so
quiet, lovely and distinguished in mien and manner, appeared amid the
faded chintz of the great drawing-room at Beaumanoir, admiring its
choice contents with knowledge and without gush, treating Lady Campstown
exactly as she ought to be treated, the reality of the old gentlewoman’s
hopes seemed as near as it was grateful.

Even Miss Bleecker shone in a reflected light, and Lady Campstown
pronounced her, afterwards, a most agreeable, chatty person. As she
conducted both visitors through the principal rooms of her childhood’s
home, her little ladyship’s frail face and figure seemed to have stepped
down for the occasion from a frame of which the gilding had worn away.
Helen was in turn charmed by her simplicity and frankness, and the two
gravitated together naturally.  The men found them in the picture
gallery, where Lady Campstown was destined to receive her first
disillusion, in the fact that her nephew in asking Miss Carstairs if she
were ready to see the white peacocks on their famous strutting ground,
invited M. de Mariol to come, too!

But the good aunt utilized her talk alone with Miss Bleecker to speak
openly about Lord Clandonald’s excellences, his wrongs at the hands of
Ruby Darien, his desirable domestic traits, the subjects, in fine,
rarely neglected when the female proprietor or backer of a man in the
marriage market sees her chance.  Lady Campstown was so genuinely
unselfish in her desire to build up again the shattered fabric of her
dear Clan’s life, that another than the pachydermatous Miss Bleecker
would have perceived the pathos of the situation, and condoned the
openness of the attack.  Miss Bleecker, however, was quite on her guard.
She did not consider Clandonald anything to jump at in the way of a
match for Helen.  She was certain of Mr. Carstairs’ disapproval; she
knew that he could not be brought to supply cash for the palpably
exigent repairs at Beaumanoir, and lastly, and more to the point, she
had no idea of relinquishing while she could hold it, her comfortable
billet as Miss Carstairs’ chaperon. But she was aware that Lady
Campstown, while possessing but a small and meagre establishment in
London, had a pretty villa at Cannes, where she was a personage of
undoubted influence and wide acquaintance. And as Miss Bleecker’s doctor
had advised the air of that favored resort for her relaxed throat, and
Helen did not care where they went, Cannes was the secret object of the
chaperon’s intended movement southward at the season’s height.

Therefore, the conversation, while the two elders strolled or sat under
immemorial yews, and enjoyed grapes and peaches plucked in an enchanting
old walled garden, waxed upon one side, more gracious and evasive, on
the other, more perplexed and yet more hopeful. From all she could
gather, Lady Campstown was convinced that Helen had been sent by
Providence for Clan’s regeneration.  The hint given on their return to
the house, that the American ladies would be in Cannes after Christmas,
to remain there until joined probably by Mr. and Mrs. Carstairs in the
well-known yacht, "Sans Peur," seemed to fit into her plans.  A further
suggestion from the dowager, that Miss Bleecker and her charge would
allow Lady Campstown to have the pleasure of introducing them to some
people and places in the south, came so quickly, and was accepted so
suavely, that the stately little lady was herself a little startled and
taken aback by it.

At this moment Clandonald and his other guests stepped in through a
window opening upon a stone-paved court with fountains and statues and
ancient trees, enclosed in walls of ivy and maiden-hair fern,
reproducing prettily one of those haunts of Pan at Villa d’Este in
Tivoli, adored by a former owner. Helen had been sitting upon a
lichen-grown stone bench, too lapped in pure pleasure to want to move.
A stable-clock striking somewhere back of shrubberies, had warned her
that it was time for them to be thinking of their train up to town; and
she rose regretfully.

"It has been a day to string upon Time’s rosary," she said to her host,
to whom she yielded the greater credit for his hospitality, because she
saw that he had been worried and abstracted, and that it was Mariol’s
continued sparkle of wit and bonhomie that had really lent the occasion
its subtle charm.

"It is very kind of you to have been willing to give me so much of your
valuable time," he answered, with an effort to throw off what was
possessing him, "and it has been a pleasant second chapter of our
voyage."

"I wanted to tell you and M. de Mariol before we separate," went on Miss
Carstairs, who had all day been trying for an opportunity to bring this
in, and failed, simple as the matter seemed, "that I had, this morning
only, a letter from Miss Winstanley.  They decided, you know, to put off
their visit to London till some later date, and have been wandering
through the apple country of South Devon, to see the orchards and the
cider-making.  Some book Mr. Winstanley read had tempted him.  They were
to stop at Torquay, thence going to Dover and the Continent."

"Very nice—and very American," said Clandonald.  "Fancy running after an
apple-crop the moment one lands in Britain, because some man has put it
into a novel!  I hope Miss Winstanley has recovered from her
indisposition?"

"She seemed to be well and happy.  She asked to be kindly remembered to
you and M. de Mariol."

Clandonald’s courtesy had taken wings, in the emotion of a deeper sort
that overcame him inconveniently.  He had hoped to carry off easily this
inevitable talk about the girl who had laid so strong a hold upon his
broken life.  But he said nothing at all, while Mariol, as usual, came
to the rescue.

"I have been telling Clandonald the two interesting facts developed by
you concerning our Alabama friend," he said, gracefully. "And we both
unite in asking you to convey to her our best congratulations upon her
intended marriage."

"What a glorious copper beech!" exclaimed Helen, suddenly looking away
past its owner to where the trees arose like a fire fountain from velvet
sward.  "I beg your pardon.  I will give her the message when I answer
her characteristic letter.  Perhaps I ought to have said before that, in
a postscript, she asked me to tell you both of her engagement to Mr.
Glynn, should I not have already done so."


Lady Campstown, having taken cordial leave of her nephew’s guests, whom
de Mariol escorted back to their private hotel in Curzon Street,
remained over with Clandonald at Beaumauoir for tea.  They drank it,
thanks to a perfectly warm and well-aired afternoon, under the beech
tree extolled by Miss Carstairs.  Clandonald’s dogs, the only friends of
man who do not disappoint or change, clustered around his knee, a homely
but human Schipperke gluing her faithful head upon her master’s boot.
The day, the hour, the pleasant rite, the dear old woman whose thin,
pearl-white fingers twinkled among the tea cups as she looked over at
him from time to time in a sort of speechless longing, touched and
pleased the returned traveller, but could not cheer his melancholy.

Finally Lady Campstown took heart of grace to go to the point direct.

"I’m sorry to see you so down, Clan, my dear boy," she said, in handing
him his second cup.  "To-day, of all days, when you have had such a
charming visitor.  I can’t tell you how well I am pleased with Miss
Carstairs.  You must know."

"Delighted, I’m sure, Aunt Lucy," he answered, with refrigerating
vagueness. "But to talk of less agreeable subjects, I’m sorry to say
Ruby has broken loose again, and is annoying me horribly.  Having failed
recently to make a scene for me—and another person—after her own heart,
she has taken to writing me infernal hypocritical letters, saying she’s
back in England, stone-broke, ill, penitent, Lord knows what, and must
have money."

"The old cry!" exclaimed Lady Campstown hotly.  "Don’t answer her, Clan,
treat her as if you were locked in behind walls, and she in the street,
outside."

"Her capacity for inventing malice and mischief is too great.  She will
find some way to circumvent me.  Her price of peace is hard cash, and so
for the present, I can breathe free again."

"You have been weak enough——" began his aunt, despairingly.

"I am not the only one involved," he said shortly.  "Now, Aunt Lucy, say
no more to me about it.  I only wished to put you on your guard against
any assault she might make upon your compassion."

"I am safe from that!" said the little lady grimly, and indeed, for the
moment, she looked so, in her splendid wrath and scorn. Clandonald did
not pursue the subject, and something warned her that neither was this
the time for pursuance of the light vision of the American girl whom she
had fondly pictured taking Ruby’s place in the desolate old house.  They
talked of family matters, of Clan’s travels, of things present and to
come until Lady Campstown and her maid were obliged to leave.  When her
nephew had put her into the brougham to go to the station, Lady
Campstown rallied her courage for a final appeal.

"You’ll drop in for luncheon, tea or dinner whenever you’ve nothing
better, won’t you, dear boy?" she asked, surveying him wistfully.  "You
know I go out so little I’m apt to be always there.  I’m to have
luncheon on Tuesday, and go to some pictures with these pleasant friends
of yours who’ve just left us; and, Clan, dear, isn’t it nice that
they’re coming to Cannes this winter?  Miss Carstairs’ father is to be
there in the yacht. He must be a very interesting man.  Such a power,
one can’t fail to—oh! thank you, Jenkins" (this to the gardener,
arriving with a huge nosegay of late roses and chrysanthemums, and a
basket of ruddy peaches), "they are most lovely, I am sure.  You will
certainly not fail to make me that promised visit in January?  It seemed
so lonely, last year, nobody inhabiting your room.  Come, promise, Clan,
and I know you will never break your word!"

"I am afraid, Aunt Lucy," he said, giving her a final loving kiss, "that
I had better not promise anything, just now, if I’m to keep up my good
reputation in your eyes.  Think what you like as to my being spooney
about a pretty American.  But it is arranged between Mariol and
myself—though we can’t agree about our destination—that we are to set
out for somewhere early next week. Mariol leans toward Tibet, I to the
Balkans.  To decide it, we shall probably toss up a sovereign.  But this
much is certain—off we go."

It was not until December, when Lady Campstown was fairly established at
Villa Julia, on the slope of the Californie, under house-walls obscured
by bougainvillea and arbutilon and Gloire de Dijon roses, that she felt
in the least assuaged of her disappointment. She had left London swathed
in a yellow fog of appalling density, had run down to Dover in an
atmosphere of pea-soup; had found Paris under weeping skies; had
traversed France in a murky mist; and only on waking up in Cannes next
morning had renewed acquaintance with the sun.

As she looked out of her window, the olives and palms seemed to wave a
welcome to the south.  The sea laughed in every ripple of its wide
expanse, the mountains slept under their veil of azure, the light over
all was almost intolerably bright.  The flowers that she so well loved,
blooming overhead and underfoot, springing from wall crannies,
gladdening and glorying every available spot of earth, made her ladyship
feel once more like her own even-tempered, happy self!

She had not heard from the wanderers in the Balkans, but had felt
resigned that dear Clan had not pushed on to that dreadful far-away
Tibet, where men were flayed alive if they happened not to please the
rulers upon whose land they were trespassing, which would have been so
much worse!  She and her maid, and a servant or two brought out from
England, occupied themselves for a day in unpacking and readjusting
ornaments, putting flowers and plants about the rooms, and looking over
the garden, a lovely tiny place where roses ran riot, and palm trees
waved their feathered tops or clashed together their spiked leaves with
a little metallic ring, when the breeze stirred them from their majestic
calm.

There were many finer, many larger, many more cared-for gardens in the
town, though none that gave more satisfaction to its owner. Lady
Campstown knew and loved every inch of it, but the spot most often
resorted to by her, in hot sunshine, was a tunnel cut in a thicket of
bamboos terminating her domain, from which a gate led out under the wall
of the adjoining lordly pleasure house called "Villa Reine des Fées."
Above this wall arose the symmetrical shafts of a cypress avenue, into
which, and far beyond it, Lady Campstown had been accustomed to
penetrate at will, through a little green door hidden by verdure, placed
there for the convenience of the gardeners.  The lodge-keeper of this
deserted dwelling, to whose child her ladyship had ministered in
illness, and all the other employees of the place, had always made
welcome the little figure in black, wearing a mushroom hat and carrying
a long tortoise-shell stick, who from time to time appeared among the
alleys and under the flowery pergolas of a veritable fairyland of trees
and turf and shrubs and blossoms.

The dwelling at Reine des Fées, sheltered from prevailing winds by a
thick olive grove resting like a gray cloud upon the hillside above it,
was of considerable size and pretension.  Ascending, by a long flight of
white marble steps, the two terraces with their mosaic pavements and
marble balustrades, over which orange and lemon trees hung their fruit
and flowers, one reached an imposing portal, where roses climbed upon
the white façade of the many-windowed house, to fall back in rivulets of
bloom.  The gardens were a marvel of skilfully massed semi-tropical
shrubbery and trees, shutting out the view of other villas and revealing
at happy turns vistas of the Mediterranean, the two islands, and the
blue jagged line of the Esterels; while tall box-hedges, cypresses,
fountains and pergolas wedded the tender grace of Italy to the warm,
witchery of Provence.

The place had been originally constructed by a wealthy Russian as a
bower for his young wife who had died there in early married life; and
for a long time had remained unoccupied, although scrupulously kept up.

Upon the death of the owner it had passed to his younger brother who,
intending to live in it according to his luxurious tastes, had put in
"lifts," baths, and sundry up-to-date conveniences; had renewed the
furniture, china and glass, prepared the stables for many horses, and
then vanished from sight of man into a house he had in the
Caucasus—melancholy mad!

For two years Villa Reine des Fées had now been in the market for a
tenant, yet none had presented himself.  Whether or not the house had a
name for bringing ill-luck to its inhabitants, or that the price fixed
upon it was prohibitively high, it had remained vacant, as before.  Lady
Campstown could not regret this circumstance.

So long the enchanted ground behind the rose-wall had seemed an annex to
her own modest property, she begrudged the idea of its overflowing with
noisy gay people, with their dinners and dances, their motor cars
puffing up the drive, their tennis matches and tea-parties,
piano-practising and perhaps spoiled children and dogs, to invade her
sylvan solitudes.

The one fate that Lady Campstown kept in reserve as the most painful
that could possibly overtake Villa Reine des Fées, was for it to be
inhabited by Americans.  Now, upon her return (although recently born
again, as it were, to a new sense of the excellent possibilities of her
transatlantic kinsfolk!) she learned with dismay, from her gardener,
that the house had actually been leased to an American family, who were
to arrive the following day!  Details of the calamity she could not at
first bring herself to acquire.  It was enough that her worst fears for
her cherished playground were about to be realized. She turned pale at
thought of the changes sure to come.

Directly after luncheon Lady Campstown took down her mushroom hat and an
Inverness cape that her maid had hung on a peg in the entry, armed
herself with her tortoise-shell stick—a gift from Clandonald, by the
way—and trotted down the walk of her own garden leading out under the
bamboos to the little green door in her neighbor’s wall.  This was open,
and she went in, sadly resolved to make a final pilgrimage to all the
familiar spots henceforward to be blocked from her view as effectually
as newspaper paragraphs by the ink-marks of a Russian censor.

The day was glorious, earth, sea and sky lustrous with intense sunshine,
the air filled with odors of orange-blossom and violet, jasmine and
rose, the palms bending gently under a summer breeze.  Never had the
grounds of Villa Reine des Fées seemed in more perfect order.  She gave
one glance up at the gleaming house-front above the stately balustrades,
and saw that its windows were open, new curtains fluttering in the
breeze. In the loggia adjoining the boudoir of the poor little dead
princess, wicker chairs, gayly cushioned, were grouped under the rose
wreaths.  The signs of coming habitation were too evident.

Lady Campstown would not look again. Sorrowfully she directed her steps
along the lower terrace, her tortoise-shell stick tapping impatiently
upon the renaissance birds and beasts of its pavement.  She even hoped
not to meet any of the friendly Provençals who worked upon the place,
with whom she had been wont to stop and talk about themselves and
families, the prospects of the flower-crop for neighboring cultivators,
and affairs of the town in general.

At some distance from the house this terrace was rounded into a lookout,
commanding a wondrous avenue of palms, their trunks enwrapped in roses
and jasmine, at the end of which the hillside fell sharply away,
revealing an unimaginably lovely view of the sea and islands.  From
here, as the visitor now seated herself to gaze her last at a favorite
prospect, she saw coming toward her, beneath the arch of palms, between
borders of violets, a very tall young woman, modishly attired in white
embroidered cloth, with a large white-plumed hat that breathed of the
Rue de la Paix, in Paris.

[Illustration: She saw coming toward her, beneath the arch of palms, a
very tall young woman, modishly attired.]

Lady Campstown wished that she could believe this engaging person to be
some one who, like herself, had strayed into Villa Reine des Fées
through curiosity—a guest from one of the adjacent smart hotels.

But she could not.  She knew in her British soul that it was none other
than one of the temporary owners of the property, and that she herself
stood revealed a trespasser.  In her intense vexation, the dowager arose
again, striking her stick on the hot marble underfoot, till two little
green lizards scampered away in fright at its sharp resonance.

"I beg your pardon," she said in her well-bred old voice, "I live in the
next house, and of course had no idea that the villa was yet inhabited."

"Please don’t speak of it," was the surprisingly friendly answer.  (The
girl was thinking, "Here, surely, is the Fairy Godmother.")  "We decided
at the last minute to come a day earlier, so anxious were we to get out
of gloomy, wet Paris.  You see, my father has been very ill, and the
doctors rather wanted to hurry him to Provence. We took the night train,
arriving this morning, and already he seems to feel the benefit, and is
now getting a good sleep."

As she spoke she came up upon the terrace, and stood by Lady Campstown’s
side.

"I am glad to hear it," answered the old lady, forgetting her
resentment.  "I should explain that this house has been so long
unoccupied, I have felt at liberty to stray in from time to time, and
see the flowers and so——"

"Indeed, you are not to say another word," said the hostess, with pretty
emphasis.  "If you had the least idea how I was just bursting to let out
of me some of my delight!"

"’Bursting to let out of me’!"  Lady Campstown was certain that she knew
no one who would have been responsible for that peculiar phrase, but the
joyous appeal of the young voice and eyes, the radiantly smiling mouth,
were not to be resisted.

"You feel it, then?" she said, smiling in return.

"Down to the ground!" said the tall girl. "I don’t believe I ever had
such thrills in my life before.  I’ve been walking up and down under
these oranges and lemons and palms, wondering if it can be I?  To think
we’re to have this little heaven all to ourselves for daddy to get well
in!  You see, there are only my father and myself, and we know very few
people over here in Europe.  We are Americans."

"I believe so," said Lady Campstown, with restraint.

"The villa was taken for us through our doctor in Paris, who had seen
it, and told daddy.  I thought the rooms in our hotel in Paris too
lovely for anything, but this goes a long way ahead.  I’ve got that
splendid big front chamber with the dressing-room and bath, and the sort
of little porch covered with vines, where the servants seem to expect me
to have my breakfast by myself.  The truth is, I don’t care where I eat
these old continental breakfasts; only rolls and coffee, and perhaps one
miserable little egg, and that extra, I’m always hungry again by eleven.
Daddy’s got a huge room opposite mine, all carved furniture with a bed
like a church pew, but he likes it, and the man nurse that takes care of
him says he’s better already for the change. It’s ridiculous for only us
two to try to fill this regular little palace, isn’t it?  If I were
home, I could ask some of the girls, but, over here, I don’t know any
but one, and we haven’t actually got a chaperon for me yet. We talked of
it, you know, but when it came to the point, daddy dreaded her being
perched up between us like Poe’s raven, at meals, and everywhere, and so
we put it off.  Perhaps, if you live here you wouldn’t mind giving me a
word of advice about how to do things. There’s a housekeeper that goes
with the house, and she engaged the extra servants, such a lot I never
saw!  I came out into the garden to get rid of the whole kit and boodle
of them!  But after a while I’ll learn my way, and then not feel so
awkward as I do now. Maybe you are thinking it strange why I don’t know
these things, but I’ve no mother, and no near relations but daddy, and
till now we’ve lived in a very plain way, at home."

Lady Campstown’s heart melted incontinently. The rapidity and scope of
the girl’s confidences were atoned for by her youth and the direct gaze
of her childlike eyes, to say nothing of the beauty that had been
sinking into the old lady’s impressionable senses. Also, her ladyship
was always genuinely interested in the details of a perilous illness;
and those of the invalid’s recent grave attack of pneumonia were
received with not to say satisfaction, but something that nearly
approached it.  She gave the girl much sound advice, and as they strayed
together onward from point to point through the grounds, which Lady
Campstown knew _con amore_, she found herself equipped with an
astonishing relish for the situation so unexpectedly attained.  When
they were both quite out of breath with talking and walking, she
furthermore accepted, graciously, an invitation to step indoors and
rest.  She had thought her new friend a tyro in social arts, but when
they reached the top of the long, hot gleaming flight of white marble
stairs, and stood together between the potted bamboos and pelargoniums
in the vestibule, was pleased to have her step back with charming grace
and execute a little curtsey, saying:

"I don’t think you can know that my name is Pamela Winstanley, and I’d
be very glad if you wouldn’t mind telling me yours."


It is not, therefore, to be numbered among things incredible that soon
after four o’clock that afternoon, when the sun like a ball of fire had
dropped behind the blue barrier of the Esterels, leaving the world to
darkness and a sudden glacial chill, Miss Winstanley, attended by one of
her brand-new footmen carrying a sheaf of rare roses, repaired, in her
turn, through the little green doorway in the flowery wall dividing
Villa Reine des Fées from Villa Julia.  She was wrapped in a smart
fur-lined cloak, and her mission was to take tea with Lady Campstown!

A trim maid ushered her into the long, low drawing-room with its
hangings of sunflower yellow, its mirrors and consoles and twin Empire
sofas, its square of dull red Turkey carpet in the centre of a slippery
waste of parquetry, its brass-trimmed tables and chairs, bought with the
house and never altered. But over all had been diffused a look of home
that Villa Reine des Fées could not attain.  There was a folding screen
covered with miniatures, behind the couch whereon Lady Campstown sat
crocheting in rosy wool one of the new _pélérines neigeuses_; there were
flowers and books and a wide writing-table, with silver bound blotting
book and silver fittings. A small table, covered with a web of white
linen and lace that a Cardinal might have worn upon a day of festa, was
spread for the tea to be brought in by and by; and Posey did not know
that, to fit it to her guest’s age and supposed tastes, Lady Campstown
had sent a special messenger to the rue d’Antibes for marrons glâcés and
wondrous crystallized fruits!

A little fire of gnarled olive roots, pine cones, and eucalyptus boughs
was blazing on the hearth.  The girl, carrying her own flowers now,
paused on the threshold with an exclamation of delight.

"Oh! how good, how sweet of you to let me come!" she cried, "and,
please, would you think me very rude if I sat down on the rug and played
with your Orange pussy?"


The tea over, the new friends talked with ever-increasing cordiality.
Lady Campstown soon knew all there was to know of the girl’s former
modest position in life and her recent information by her father that
she was expected to spend his large income as she pleased.

"He asked me, poor dear, not to hold back for anything in reason, but to
find out all that we ought to have, and order it.  And you’d better
believe, Lady Campstown, that an American girl knows how to do that
same! It seems he had a talk on our steamer, just before we landed, with
a friend both he and I trust in, and she told him it was his duty to
live up to his fortune.  He’s known he had all this money for nearly a
year past, but had no idea how to begin to spend it.  And so we branched
right out in Paris, and got a suite of rooms that a royalty had before
us.  I went straight off to the Only Adorable Worth, and bought
everything in the way of gowns.  I had masters in French and singing,
and when we drove in the Bois, or went to the galleries and shops, and
everybody stared, I took to it as naturally as a duck to water.  But I
must say it was lonesome.  I longed and longed for somebody to tell how
I felt about it all in my inmost heart....  Then, my darling old daddy
fell ill, and his life was in danger, and all the grandeur fell flat as
a pancake.  I didn’t care a straw for my clothes, my carriage, my fine
maid, even my new pearls—the whirling wheel of life stood still, still,
and I heard only my heart-beats!  I thought I was going to lose the
dearest, tenderest father in the world, and be left a poor wretched
orphan with nothing but things to comfort me!"

She had sprung up from the rug and was by this time seated on the couch
beside Lady Campstown, and that lady’s kind little hand had found its
way into hers.  If the dowager felt, at moments, a little dizzy with the
speed at which this episode of new acquaintance had progressed, she had
only to look across the room at the portrait of a girl who would have
been thirty had she lived, but in her mother’s eyes seemed forever just
eighteen.  Maybe she would have been ungrateful, unloving, _mondaine_ or
_dévote_; she might have married ill, or died in bringing a child into
the world; or any one of a thousand every-day happenings might have
robbed the mother of joy in her companionship.  But, to Lady Campstown,
her lost daughter was always young, prosperous, lovely, beyond reproach;
and for her sake, Pamela Winstanley, with all her imperfections of
bringing-up upon her golden head, was forgiven much!  What wonder that
before they separated Posey had received assurance that Lady Campstown
would look after her in various substantial ways; and that Mr.
Winstanley’s new motor car, ordered from Paris, being yet to come, the
girl should be invited to take her first view of the riant little town
from the cushions of Lady Campstown’s well-known old landau, with the
quiet black horses and sober coachman?  When they had thus agreed to go
shopping together in the tempting, if narrow and sunless, rue d’Antibes,
and Posey, for the second time, had arisen to take her leave, her eye
fell upon an imperial photograph, framed in silver, of a man she
recognized with a swift leap of the heart.

"My nephew Clandonald," said the dowager, heaving a little affectionate
sigh.  "Almost all I have left to love.  He is a dear fellow, and has
been much sinned against.  Just now he is somewhere in the Balkans
loafing, as he calls it, with his friend M. de Mariol, but I trust he
will come back soon, and that certain things I hope for him will become
realities.  I don’t mind telling you, my dear, that there is a young
lady in the case, and that she’s a countrywoman of your own.  I have met
her, and love her already for his sake, but there’s been mischief made,
and it will take time to straighten out the tangle of my poor Clan’s
heart affairs, and, when you and I know each other better, I will
explain. In the meantime, we won’t talk of it.  You’ll be ready at
half-past ten to-morrow, when I call for you?  I’ll take you around to
the right tradespeople, and afterwards we’ll have a little turn on the
Croisette."

"An American girl!" Posey said within herself.  "It must be said he
found consolation very soon."  She was conscious of feeling rather
blank.



                             *CHAPTER VII*


"When in doubt where to go, stay in Paris," had been for some years of
travel Miss Bleecker’s favorite saying.  Helen, who had no great love
for the place from her chaperon’s point of view, simply acquiesced when
told it was too early to go south.  She begged Miss Bleecker to go on
with her own routine. Mornings in the shops were followed by luncheons
with old friends among the American residents, where, after luxurious
eating and drinking of light wines, the women sat for hours rooted upon
down couches, propped by silken cushions, exchanging hearsays of
stupendous gossip about their common acquaintances. Upon Miss Bleecker’s
return from one of these intimate entertainments, Helen’s views of human
nature were lowered for days to come.

In the afternoon, Miss Bleecker generally drove out with her charge, or
left cards upon people who would have resented her getting in as
earnestly as she.  In her smart wrap and voluminous furs, with, her
plumed hat and dotted veil, the chaperon justly flattered herself that
some of the glances bestowed upon their victoria in the Bois and along
the Champs Elysées were a late plum fallen to her share.  In Central
Park, at home, and in Fifth Avenue, every one knew it was only the same
old Sally Bleecker in a new French hat.  Miss Bleecker had heard it
suggested that one must come abroad to find a proper deference paid to
years of maturity, which secretly was not what she desired.  Her taste
was neither for the cold-blooded pushing to the wall of her generation
by young Americans, nor yet the reverent hand-kissing of the ancient,
observable in high life abroad.  Since her morals were above reproach,
all she really asked was a recognition by the public of her successful
illustrations of the methods of Paquin and Alphonsine.

There were always teas to drop in for, after the drives, at the
cosmopolitan resorts of Ritz, or Columbin, or Rumpelmayer, or in private
dwellings.  In Paris, the division of time between five and seven in the
afternoon has become as important for the achievement of social idling
of both sexes as in London.

It is in New York where the tea-drinking habit is a graft among the men,
and to the women an intermittent sacrifice to fashion’s shrine.  Miss
Bleecker was of the sort whom the steam of the tea-kettle inebriates as
well as cheers.  She could better exist without her evening orisons than
her cup of tea between four and five.

When the ladies returned to their hotel, there was barely time to dress
for dinner or the play.  Miss Bleecker’s dinner list in Paris was larger
than in New York, where Sally Bleecker was beginning to be _vieux jeu_.
Abroad, she was welcomed by the translated Americans living in various
capitals, who were sure of hearing from her the few things about the
private lives of their friends at home that had not got into their
newspapers.  Lastly, but decidedly not least, she had had the wisdom to
perfect herself in bridge, which Helen detested, in common with all
games of cards. Whenever Miss Carstairs elected to go off with friends
of her own to dine and pass the evening, and her young lady put on a tea
gown and ordered a plate of soup and a wing of chicken in their own
salon, the chaperon was in glory.  In a black net dress, largely
bespangled, with a dog-collar of excellently imitated pearls around the
doubtful portion of her throat beneath the chin, with her hair admirably
groomed and her nails perfectly manicured, wearing her best evening
manner and longest gloves, old Sally would run down stairs nimbly to the
fiacre that was to take her to her earthly Paradise of bridge!  Or else
in company with a playmate of seventy-two, who smoked cigarettes
eternally, wore low scarlet gowns and rarely dined at home, she would go
on from place to place, exhilarated beyond fatigue, whispering inwardly
to herself there was nothing like this at her home across the sea.

Helen would have been wofully tired of this life had she not possessed
the resources of a rational cultivated woman, and the ability to extract
the real kernel of Parisian life, in addition to the acquaintance of a
few clever people with whom she could fraternize in her own way.  After
all, as well Paris as elsewhere for the living down of a great clutching
emotion such as her brief passion for John Glynn!  She had been spared
hearing Posey Winstanley talk about him as her possession, since the
Winstanleys had quitted Paris early in December, just before their own
arrival there.  She had heard in various ways how old Herbert had taken
her advice literally, and enrolled himself among the money spenders of
their liberal nation.  With astonishing rapidity, the fame of the
stunning young Southern beauty had been bruited abroad.  It was related
that a semi-royal personage who had seen her going up the staircase of
her hotel had addressed to her father a proposal for her hand, which had
been refused by the wise old gentleman without conveying the fact to his
daughter.  It was known that she had been "taken up" by the best people
in Cannes.  A little breeze of laudation concerning her was forever
blowing where gossips congregate in _le monde où l’on s’amuse_.  In two
expressive words, Miss Winstanley "had arrived!"

Helen used to wonder most how this reacted upon John Glynn.  She
pictured his amazement at finding the Cinderella he had wooed had turned
into a Princess in Glass Slippers. But as that is the sort of a shock to
which most sensible men become easily habituated, she felt that he had,
by now, probably ceased to wonder at his good luck.  If he thought at
all of Helen, it would be with gratitude for having set him free for
this.

She was not so certain that Posey had reached the same stage of
satisfaction with existing bonds.  Helen was too clever at reading
character not to have seen more than Posey meant to admit about her
feeling for Clandonald.  She saw also that Clandonald was immensely
taken by the girl, and believed that if Glynn were not in existence the
Englishman would some day return to the charge. But she knew nothing of
the anonymous letters, and their vile attacks upon Posey, which, long
after silence had set in in the direction of the enemy, continued to
burn and sting in their object’s clean, sensitive soul.  Since she had
told Clandonald, Posey had spoken of this insult to no one.  It made her
feel, however, that she could never be quite the same again.

Helen had exchanged a letter or two with her, but the acquaintance had
seemed to drift. It was Miss Carstairs’ feeling that until Posey and Mr.
Glynn were safely married, it would be more honorable of her to keep out
of sight altogether; which goes to show that deep down in the bottom of
her heart Miss Carstairs was not altogether certain she had lost all
hold upon her former lover’s sensibilities.

One of the strangest experiences ever coming to Helen befell her at this
time.  It was nothing less than a declaration of his love in a letter,
_en route_, from M. de Mariol.  He had written to her intermittently
since their parting in London charming airy missives in his best vein,
his critics would have said; letters of rambling travel, of European
politics, of observation; graceful, incisive, glowing with color,
sparkling with happy phrases; the letters of a poet, a cultured eclectic
of the twentieth century to his inspiration.  But she had not imagined
until she finished reading the last of the series it could come to his
doing her the honor of asking her to be his wife.  She was profoundly
moved, more even than flattered.  She had loved Glynn because he was
young, handsome, unjaded, therefore broader than most of the men
surrounded by whom she had grown up; because it had made her smile to be
near him, and the touch of his stalwart hand had thrilled her with a
thrill that sometimes came back now.  Mariol, appealing to her
intellectual side, to her sense of high companionship, repelled her as a
lover, and what he asked her to do seemed, on the face of it, grotesque.
His suggestion that if she could be brought to look upon him favorably,
he would return immediately to Paris, filled her with panic.  Her letter
sent in return was purposely gentle and simple and apparently unstudied,
although nothing had ever cost her such epistolary birth-pangs.

M. de Mariol did not return to Paris, and in the course of some days
Miss Bleecker also received an important letter, although not of a
matrimonial cast.  It was from Mrs. Carstairs, in New York, proposing an
interposition of diplomacy between her stepdaughter and herself.  Mrs.
Carstairs, self-confessed a suffering angel who had borne in silence
Helen’s malignant opposition to her, was about to come abroad to spend
the spring in yachting with her husband in the Mediterranean, and would
be glad to have Miss Bleecker and Helen join them anywhere that was
convenient.  If Mr. Carstairs himself did not write to repeat this
invitation, Helen would know it was because the poor dear was overworked
and brain-weary.  For that reason, if for none other, Helen should put
aside her unjust, and injurious, and missish fancies, and become one of
their family circle in the eyes of all the world.

("Naturally," said the astute chaperon to herself, "there is one of two
reasons for this urgency to have Helen with them.  Either some man she
is flirting with is to make one of the party, or somebody has refused to
receive Mrs. Carstairs until her step-daughter has done so first.")

If Helen would prove herself the devoted daughter she had always boasted
of being, and subscribe to her father’s wishes, Mrs. Carstairs was
empowered by him to say that he would give her at once the fortune,
independently of himself, that he had previously withheld.
(Incidentally, she named a sum of which the magnitude made Miss
Bleecker’s frog-like eyes distend and her dull heart beat excitedly.)
Helen would be free to come, to go, to marry as she pleased.

("And she’d be certain to do it, right away," interpolated the reader,
"so I don’t see where I come in at all.")

Helen would in fact be one of the most enviable young women in America.
In conclusion, while urging upon Miss Bleecker the necessity of prompt
and vigorous action in this delicate matter, Mrs. Carstairs made an
offer to her own account.  To the chaperon, if successful in effecting
the reconciliation, she would give, unknown to any one, a check for so
many dollars, that, again, the frog-eyes opened widely, and Miss
Bleecker slapped the letter upon her knee.

"The woman mayn’t be well born, and she certainly deserves all Helen’s
done to her; but she’s got brains, and I think she’ll get there," said
Miss Bleecker, in conclusion.


The beginning of February saw Miss Carstairs, her companion and the
admirable Eulalie—who, of course, started the journey with a headache in
order to justify her claim to be a first-class ladies’ maid—leaving
Paris in the Côte d’Azur Rapide, their destination the Riviera.  So
great was the exodus for that coveted spot that not only had the
travellers been unable to secure for themselves places in the melancholy
resort of a _dames seules_ carriage, but the compartment in which they
found cards bearing their names over the end seats was ominously
placarded in all the other divisions.  In vain Miss Bleecker fumed and
fussed and put on her best grand duchess manner; in vain Mlle. Eulalie
looked like an early Christian martyr; the guard could give them no
promise of better things.

After adjusting her many belongings in the racks and settling down with
a look of grim resolution to bear all for Helen’s sake, it occurred to
Miss Bleecker to get up again and read the names of their yet absent
fellow-passengers.  Two of them were foreign, undistinguished,
presenting nothing to her imagination, and as their owners took
possession at the moment, the lady sat down in some confusion at being
detected in her access of curiosity.

"If the other man comes, we’ll be knee-to-knee all day, and there won’t
be breathing space," she whispered across to Helen, next whom, in the
middle seat, the fair Eulalie was installed, leaving one place vacant
near the door upon the corridor.

"If it’s a man, so much the better," whispered Helen back.  "Imagine
another headache, beside Eulalie’s."

"Oh! but I saw the name.  English or American, ’Mr. John Glynn,’"
returned the unknowing chaperon, who having cast her bombshell, opened a
Paris _New York Herald_ and began to read the column of social movements
in America.

Helen sat bolt upright, the blood tingling in her veins.  Before she
could recover from the first stupor of astonishment, the train was in
motion, and, simultaneously, the guard hurried into his place the one
person in the world whom Miss Carstairs had least dreamed of seeing.

She had shaken hands with him, and named him to Miss Bleecker, who
wondered where Helen had picked up this surprisingly good-to-look-upon
young man, before her heart ceased its wild palpitation, and she could
fairly control her voice.  He was direct from Cherbourg, it appeared,
had crossed Paris in a slow fiacre, barely catching the Côte d’Azur, in
which his place had been retained by wire, and was on his way to the
Riviera in answer to a summons concerning important business for a
friend resident there for the winter.

"I fancy I know your friend," said Helen, determined to let no grass
grow under her feet.  "I crossed with good old Mr. Winstanley in
October, and he told me of your engagement to his daughter."

"Yes, that has been for some time announced," answered Glynn, the color
deepening in his clear brown skin, while Helen remained quite pale.
"You have heard also, perhaps, of Mr. Winstanley’s bad break in health?
Although better, he is not yet able to do business for himself, and a
question came up in connection with the mines, in which it was necessary
to have his verbal instructions; hence, my run over.  Rather a jolly
change for me from my office work.  Since October, I have had my own
place, you know, representing Mr. Winstanley’s interests, with
headquarters in New York."

"I congratulate you doubly, then," said Helen.  "How very strange that
you should have come into this carriage of all others. And how nice for
you, getting out of the blizzards and the high-piled, dirty snow of New
York streets in February, to have a glimpse of obstinately azure skies
and acres of rose and jasmine!"

Although they were running smoothly, conversation across Mlle. Eulalie’s
large hands, in slightly soiled white kid gloves clasped over Helen’s
jewel case, did not progress in comfort.  Miss Bleecker, who always
wanted to be entertained, imperiously signed to the maid to change
places with Mr. Glynn, which was done, bringing him close to the ladies
for a long day’s run.

In New York, Miss Bleecker might not have looked twice at a man not in
Mr. Charley Brownlow’s set, and unknown at any of the clubs of which she
considered membership to be the hall-mark of gentility.  But those
things settle down amazingly abroad, and she now saw Glynn with
unclouded eyes. While Helen was wondering how Posey Winstanley could
ever have turned aside to fancy Lord Clandonald, when she was free to
marry this far handsomer, more imposing, young American, Miss Bleecker
was subjecting Glynn to a rapid fire of questions about home matters,
from the new Subway to the wrangles in City politics.

It was noticeable that when the chaperon now touched upon the subject of
the Winstanley family, she did so in a key greatly altered from her
former contemptuous one. A man who had risen in a night from commonplace
obscurity to his present wealth and growing importance was a type of her
country she could not conscientiously overlook.  She recalled to Mr.
Glynn that she had thought his future father-in-law "so quaint yet
forceful."  She was not as enthusiastic over Mr. Glynn’s fiancée, but
there are limits to what we must expect of women.

Still, her active mind was even then springing ahead of the present.  If
she succeeded, as now seemed probable, in bringing about the
reconciliation between Helen and her father’s wife, and Helen consented
to return to them for the present, obviously Miss Bleecker, although
with a warm nest-egg in her pocket, would be, vulgarly speaking, out of
a job. What better than to annex herself to the Winstanleys, to have the
credit of forming a young creature who was destined to conspicuous place
before the world and even, perhaps——?

Miss Bleecker, at this juncture, cast a furtive glance at her reflection
in the little slip of mirror over Helen’s head.  It was not exactly
favorable, since she had risen before the world was aired, her
complexion looked yellow where it ought to be red, and certain fatal
lines around nose and mouth, elusive in the evening, stood out,
abnormally plain! Miss Bleecker looked away.  By and by, hope springing
eternal, whispered to her that what a rich old man wants in a wife is
not youth and beauty, provoking the eternal triangle of the modern
situation, but agreeability, tact, a knowledge of how to make the wheels
go round. She rallied, smiled at Mr. Glynn in the manner of a sweet
old-time friend and counsellor, then taking out a French novel and a
pearl-handled paper-cutter, subsided into apparent literature and actual
plan-making.

Helen wondered if ever girl in her position were more curiously hounded
by odd circumstance.  She saw that Glynn, like herself, was profoundly
moved by their rencontre. And what wonder, since when they had last met
she had sobbed her farewell upon his breast, his arms had tightly closed
around her, and he had declared that he could not, would not give her
up!

He had been forced to give her up, however, and gradually to acquiesce
in the common sense of her decision.  The offer of himself to Miss
Winstanley, made without knowledge of Posey’s altered circumstances, had
been joyously approved in a letter posted at Liverpool by Mr.
Winstanley, who had bidden John remember that he was now his son, and,
as such, entitled to a full share of the good luck that he proceeded to
unfold.  When Glynn had assumed charge of Mr. Winstanley’s interests and
business, he had for the first time learned the full meaning and extent
of that good luck!  Mr. Winstanley also told him that under the
circumstances of Posey’s call to a much higher position in life and
society than had even been expected, he desired her to spend some time
longer in pursuance of education and wider experience before returning
home to be married.

A little dazed by the turn of events, Glynn had acquiesced in this
latter decree, almost too easily, he feared.  He told himself that he
needed time to adjust his ideas to the prospect of riches.  As a matter
of fact, he was relieved not to become Posey’s husband until he knew her
better.  The pretty, half-baked, freakish creature, who offended his
sense of conventionality, who dealt with him so unemotionally, seemed
about as practical a bride as Undine must have been to her
long-suffering knight!  Between Posey’s image and himself, that of
high-bred Helen Carstairs, stepping down from her proud pedestal to give
him the first passion of her woman’s love, had, in the beginning,
perpetually come.  Latterly, this had been wearing off, and stern habit
had asserted itself, as it fortunately does.

Posey’s letters, surely the strangest ever penned by a betrothed maiden
to her lover, came to Glynn regularly.  She had told him, with appalling
frankness, that after engaging herself to him (by telephone!) she had
suffered many pangs of fear that the whole thing was a mistake; also,
she must confess, she had met another man with whom, had there been no
obstructions in the way, she might have been happier.  During her
father’s illness, seeing the enormous stress he laid upon her promise to
marry John, she had come to see things more clearly, had recognized in
herself a vain, silly child, and was now resolved to devote her whole
future life to being more worthy of her good fortune as Glynn’s wife.

To read these artless effusions had been like looking into a crystal
globe.  Whatever came, Glynn could not complain that she had deceived
him.  During his benefactor’s dangerous illness, when it was essential
for Glynn to remain where he was, and he could only cable his anxiety
and sympathy, his heart had become more awakened to Posey’s claim upon
him, and he had felt for her loyal tenderness.  When the summons from
Mr. Winstanley arrived that was to bring him once more in actual touch
with her, he had set out to obey it, believing that he was at last
effectually cured of old weakness, and panoplied to begin the new life.

And he had hardly set foot in France before he found himself seated side
by side with Helen Carstairs in a railway train, flying southward, with
nothing to disturb their intercourse during a long day and evening, and
actually bound for the same goal!

Simultaneously, Glynn and Helen rose to the occasion, put behind them
the temptation to revert to the fond chapter lived in their young lives,
and took up again the sort of intercourse that had so pleased and
refreshed her at the beginning of their acquaintance. It was like one of
their old talks at the house of Helen’s friend who had introduced them
to each other, and fostered their intimacy; a woman who had the
cleverness to find interesting people in the whirlpool of business and
pleasure and money-spending that calls itself New York society, and the
courage to draw them out of it to herself.

Glynn felt that he would long have cause to remember that February day.
The new fast train justified all that had been claimed for it in speed
and comfort.  It tore down the Rhone valley as the mistral tears, it
left behind Avignon, city of Popes, and other spots of classic interest,
as if it had been a "Flyer" between Chicago and New York. The light
carriages rocked and swayed, stones from the road-bed rose up like a
fusillade of small-arms, striking the bottom of the train; one dared not
leave one’s seat for the dining-car for fear of falling; people who had
not exchanged a word previously began, by common consent, to talk all
together, and all their talk was of the speed of trains they had known
and heard about.  Miss Bleecker went yellow in her nervous anxiety,
declaring she had no use for a train in which one could not brew a cup
of tea for fear of setting things on fire.  Mlle. Eulalie wept under her
veil, and accepted brandy offered her from Miss Bleecker’s flask.  The
two solemn travellers who filled the other seats, and now joined in
general animated talk, turned out to be one a French railway engineer,
to whose utterances all listened humbly, the other an Italian musical
genius, _en route_ for Monte Carlo.  In the confusion of tongues and
exclamations, the little string of toy carriages bounced and flew
onward, until suddenly the air brakes were put on, and with a long
protracted jolting, they came to a full stop!

Something had happened, but what?  Glynn and the engineer, going outside
to investigate matters, in the falling dusk, returned to report that
their carriage was to go no farther, and its passengers were to be
transferred to the one ahead.

"As well as I can make out, it is the complaint not unknown to our
railways of a ’hot box,’" said Glynn.  "The bother is, that you ladies
must take what seats you can get till our journey’s end."

Officials, coming to hurry them, showed but scant sympathy with Miss
Bleecker’s indignant protests, with Eulalie’s fresh burst of tears.
Helen, following her chaperon quietly, had an odd sensation that nothing
mattered much so long as Glynn was at her elbow speaking cheery, merry
words!

They threaded their way into the carriage ahead, to be received with
what enthusiasm by the tired, nervous, over-strained passengers already
filling its full space, may be imagined. Miss Bleecker was accommodated
with the odd seat of a compartment reserved by a French couple of her
acquaintance, who, feeling rather bored by so much of each other’s
society, made a virtue of necessity in welcoming the stranded American
lady.  Eulalie was tucked somewhere happily out of sight.  For Helen and
Glynn there remained but two camp-stools, produced by a guard, and
placed in the corridor at the rear!

"I have heard of blessings in disguise," he said significantly, when
they were speeding forward again toward Marseilles.

"This is really better than that stuffy place we had," she answered,
made happy, despite herself, by the meaning in his tones.

"If any one had told me that I should be to-day sitting beside you,
rushing through the darkness headlong to the unknown, I would have
counted it a fable."

"You are not rushing to the unknown.  I cannot think of any one whose
life and work are more clearly cut out for him or more sure of a happy
ending."

"I—I suppose so," he said, with a sigh.

"You know it, Mr. Glynn."

"Has it come to Mr. Glynn?"

"Don’t make things worse for me than they are," she exclaimed
confusedly.  She felt frightened that one moment of isolation with him
had brought back into his voice the lover’s cadence, after their months
of blank separation, and their day just passed in renunciation and good
behavior.  The admission in her speech, the forlorn droop of her mouth,
were too much for his strained resolution.

"Tell me one thing only, Helen—as if we two were standing on the verge
of everlasting parting—have you cared?"

"When have I not cared?" she said impetuously.

"_Had_ it to be?"

"I thought so, then.  I haven’t always thought so since.  Latterly——"

"Go on.  Latterly—?" he said, in a dreary tone.

"I have made a compromise with my father about something in dispute
between us.  He has made me more than independent of him. Isn’t it
always so in life, that relief comes too late?"

"What did that ever matter, anyway? Wasn’t I ready, willing, eager, mad,
to take you as you were?  Would it have been the first time an American
man married an American woman without a penny between them, except what
he could earn?  The trouble was that you couldn’t trust me."

"That I couldn’t trust myself," she said bitterly.  "I knew my world
better than you did, John."

"But you say you haven’t always thought the same since," he exclaimed,
searching her eyes with a desperately anxious gaze.

"It is not fair to wring from me such admissions.  It isn’t like you to
persist in talk like this.  After all, you were the first to console
yourself."

His face fell into gloom.  He drew away from her and, for a while, sat
in silence. Helen turned to look out of the window to hide her gathering
tears.

It was a miserable time for both, yet neither would have yielded up an
inch of it in exchange for any imaginable pleasure.  Helen was thinking,
"Oh, that the train would only go on forever, and let me sit by him on
this horrid little stool without a back!" and Glynn would have fought
any guard or conductor who came to offer them the usual seats among
other people.  They said very little, but felt the more.  At Marseilles,
where they went outside for a whiff of soft, delicious air, fancying
they smelt orange blossoms, and saw stars looking into the sea, and
during the rest of the zigzag run along the lovely coast to Cannes, each
knew that the other was dreading the finale of their strange experience.

As they ran into the Cannes station toward eleven o’clock, and it became
necessary to rouse up nodding Miss Bleecker, and collect woful Eulalie,
with her bags and bundles, Helen and he rose simultaneously, with a
shiver of apprehension.

"This is the last time, John?"

"The last time, Helen—_darling_," he said, in a hoarse undertone of
yearning tenderness.

Their hands met and strained together.  Her eyes answered his, and he
did not again doubt.

"It has been all one great, terrible mistake," she went on, more
steadily.  "We have got to meet, if you stay here, and after this
there’s to be no more weakness, remember! We’ll be pretty poor stuff if
we can’t conquer ourselves, don’t you think so?"

Hers was the last word, for Miss Bleecker, tottering like a
somnambulist, issued forth to interrupt them.  Helen and she were
assisted out of the train by Glynn, and placed in custody of their
hotel’s station-porter.  A moment more, the ladies were in the ’bus
alone, threading the back streets of the sleepy little town, to ascend
the hill to a stately hostelry, where their arrival was the signal for a
theatrical effect of house-porters in scarlet jackets issuing from a
brilliantly lighted entrance around which roses and bougainvillea
twined.


"Really, Helen," observed Miss Bleecker, whose good-humor returned as
she looked complacently around their pretty suite of rooms, where lights
and flowers and a small fire of olive-wood combined to make the
travellers forget their woes.  "I must say they have done very well for
us.  I believe we shall be comfortable here until the yacht arrives.
And how delightful it is to think you sent that cable, yesterday,
consenting to join your dear father and his wife.  When you lay your
head on your pillow, every night after this, you will sleep more sweetly
with the thought of having—why, child, you’re white as a ghost!  I
suppose you’re a little train-sick, after the shaking-up we got.  It was
too bad your having to sit out on that wretched little camp-stool, but
you seemed to get along well enough with Mr. Glynn, and there wasn’t an
inch left in Countess de Saint Eustache’s compartment.  Do you know, she
told me the whole story, from beginning to end, of Kate Ravenel’s
unfortunate marriage with the Marquis de Contour.  My dear, he is an
absolute decadent!  And to think how the Ravenels bought and paid for
him in hard cash, and how wretchedly they were sold in the transaction!
By the way, the Countess knows our friend, M. de Mariol, intimately, and
says that for people to get him to their dinners or country houses is
the greatest feather in their caps!  He is _de tout_, she assures me,
which, of course, makes one enjoy his writings so much more.  I hope we
shall certainly meet him again.  Helen, speaking of young Glynn, if ever
a man was born with a gold spoon in his mouth, it’s he.  To be marrying
Mr. Winstanley’s only child, and they having gone up like a house afire!
The Countess says the Winstanleys have been floated here by Lady
Campstown, and already know everybody, and are much liked.  It seems
they have one of the most desirable villas, own a smart motor, the girl
has no end of stunning gowns—you remember they showed us at Worth’s the
evening frocks they were sending down to her—and will soon be
entertaining lavishly.  The question is, where did Lady Campstown pick
her up? We must call on both of them to-morrow.  I am all anxiety to
meet dear Lady Campstown again, and I confess I am anxious to get a peep
inside Villa Reine des Fées."

"I fancy you will find Miss Winstanley changed in many respects, Miss
Bleecker," said Helen, wearily.  "But it seems to me hardly probable she
has lost her high spirit in this little time.  And she _may_ remember
your conduct to her on shipboard."

"Nonsense, my dear!" answered the chaperon, complacently.  "As we live
now, it is always easy and generally convenient to forget.  The girl,
for all her barbarisms, seemed to have a level head.  She will be
charmed to see us, and so will Lady Campstown, who had set her heart
upon marrying you to that nephew of hers, Clandonald.  If it were not
for young Glynn, I should imagine that the Lady Campstown had gone off
on another tack in her heiress cruise.  Looks like it, don’t you think?
If Miss Winstanley hasn’t told her of her engagement to Glynn, there’ll
be a pretty row on presently.  We’ll call, at any rate.  I am glad to
hear Mr. Winstanley is no worse, and may be counted upon to recover
permanently from this attack.  I wonder if he likes being read aloud to,
Helen?  To show that I bear no ill-will to the girl for her pertness to
me, I’d just as soon offer to sit with him, sometimes.  I was always
said to have great success with invalids.  And we’d better be prompt in
looking them up, for who knows whether this is really a business trip of
Glynn’s?  I should be much inclined to think he has run over to look
after his heiress, and see that she does not slip through his fingers,
with all these fine people with titles hanging around her.  Glynn looks
like a positive, if not self-willed, fellow, Helen. Indeed, I shouldn’t
in the least wonder if the business pretext is a blind, and _M. le
fiancé_ won’t go back to America without his bride. In that case, we
shall have a smart wedding at Cannes, and poor Mr. Winstanley will be
left all to himself at Villa Reine des Fées. They say there is nothing
like that entrance hall and staircase in the town, all marbles of the
rarest and most beautiful colors; and the dining-room, with its wall
tapestries and screens, is fit for a palace.  Poor Mr. Winstanley! There
is nothing so sad in life as a person of—well, middle age—left alone by
young people for whom he has done everything. There should be some
congenial and sympathetic soul to—poor Mr. Winstanley!"



                             *CHAPTER VIII*


"Come a little way down this walk, John," Posey said, the morning after
her lover’s arrival, while engaged in showing him the place, "and you
will see exactly where the woman was sitting yesterday, when she got up
and spoke to me in that dreadful way.  I never dare tell my father, and
it would worry dear Lady Campstown out of her wits to think any
suspicious outsider had been seen lurking about the grounds.  I rather
fancied this person was out of her head, and so, when she vanished
abruptly, I just told the gardener that a doubtful-looking stranger had
been in the garden, and his men must be on the watch to see that it
doesn’t occur again."

"Quite right," said Glynn.  "I dare say you won’t hear of her any more.
What sort of a lunatic was she?  Young or old, smart or shabby,
English-speaking or foreign?"

"Oh!  English decidedly, with one of their lovely low voices, from the
throat.  A lady, I suppose, one would call her, but shabby and deadly
pale with glittering brown eyes, and lips with no color.  I should think
she took morphine, or some of those horrid things. Her clothes had been
handsome once, but were put on in a slovenly way."

"Probably some poor soul here for her health, who had escaped from her
caretakers. Certainly, you can have no enemies, my dear girl?"

"I didn’t think so," answered Posey, flushing, "until I received a
number of anonymous letters on shipboard, and several afterward.  Then
they stopped suddenly."

"Do you mind telling me their drift?"

Posey’s cheeks became crimson, but she looked him bravely in the face.

"They were all full of lying things against me and the man I told you I
met at sea—and have never seen or heard from since."

"Thank you, dear," said Glynn, simply. "We have both need of
consideration for each other, and I trust you thoroughly.  But this
gives me an idea.  You say the morphine lady told you she had a favor to
ask of you——"

"Yes, but before she could get further, the gardener’s man came in
sight, and she took flight.  She said that I was luckier than she, since
I could buy my peace, and she’d advise me not to hold back now when I’d
a chance to do so."

"That’s blackmail, not insanity.  The woman has probably spent her last
sou at Monte Carlo, and reading about you in the papers, thinks you’re a
good object to attack for funds."

"It’s no use, John.  I can’t tell half a thing, to save my life,"
exclaimed the girl, desperately.  "At the moment she ran down that alley
of laurustinus, she called back, ’You can’t expect your friend, Lord
Clandonald to pay all, and you nothing, to shut mouths.’"

Glynn walked beside her in moody silence. The matter was worse than he
had feared. To find Posey in the toils of an obnoxious scheme for
torment and money-getting, was more than annoying.  He justly considered
that it was paying too high for her successes, her magnificent
establishment in life.  For the moment it blotted out the blue of sky
and blurred the exquisite beauty of their surroundings.

He had, like everybody else, heard of Clandonald and his matrimonial
infelicities, his divorce, and his visit to the States.  A strong
resentment took possession of the young American at the idea that this
Briton, battered by foul tongues and associations, should be the one
who, even for a—moment, had won Posey’s allegiance away from himself.

"You are angry.  I knew you would be," she burst out finally.  "I at
first thought of telling Lady Campstown, and asking her advice.  But
Lord Clandonald is her nephew, almost her son, and I was ashamed.  She
has not the faintest idea there was ever anything between us."

"Between you?  What can you mean?" wrathfully demanded Glynn, whose
merit was never that of tolerance.

"I don’t know myself.  It was all so sudden, and passed so quickly.  He
used to come and talk and walk with me upon the ship.  I began by being
sorry for him, because his life had been so spoiled.  He never said a
word of flattery or silly talk like the others. He seemed to me a man."

"Well, go on, please," said Glynn, curtly.

"One evening when that old wretch Mr. Vereker tried to kiss me out on
deck——"

"What!" thundered Glynn, his brows meeting, his eyes darting ire upon
her.

"He didn’t do it, John; just missed the tip of my ear, and I hit him in
the face.  I ran away to Miss Carstairs and Lord Clandonald, and told
them, or rather didn’t tell them—they understood.  Clandonald looked
just as you do now, and put himself in front of me, and I was so glad to
be protected, when all the ship was saying mean, spiteful things of me,
that for a little while I thought I must be in love with Lord
Clandonald——"

"This alone is worth crossing the ocean to hear," commented Glynn with
bitter sarcasm.

"Well, you know I told you of it at the time.  It was a perfectly
hopeless thing, anyhow.  Even if you hadn’t been there, I couldn’t marry
a divorced man whose wife is living.  It’s just one of those fashionable
habits that doesn’t happen to appeal to me."

"Posey, you are unconquerable," he said, a gleam of amusement coming
into his eyes.

"You might as well hear all the rest. After I had those nasty letters, I
kept away from him and got daddy to give up London, because I’d promised
we would go down to lunch at Beaumanoir, his home.  It was my first and
last chance at an English ancestral mansion, I reckon.  The last night
aboard, when we were at anchor near Liverpool, in a fog, daddy and I met
him, by accident, on deck.  Dear old dad, who can’t be made to suspect
anybody, would run off after his letter of credit, that he’d packed in a
steamer coat and almost sent ashore.  I was left with Lord Clandonald.
I tell you, John, you couldn’t have treated me better than he did then.
There was one little minute when I was scared, though.  He was furious
when I told him of the anonymous letters.  He said there was only one
who could have done it, but how, in God’s name, did she get upon that
ship?  And then he asked me to let him stand between me and all such
people always——"

"You let him ask you that?"

"John, you know when a man and a girl are together things get said that
they never dreamed of saying.  I knew like a shot I ought to have told
Clandonald about you before.  But how could I introduce the subject in
cold blood——"

"I am afraid it was cold blood," interpolated John ruefully.

"Well, you couldn’t expect me to thrill and tremble, and all those
things they do in novels, when I’d said yes in a telephone booth, and
never seen you after.  I tried to, John.  Honestly, I did, but it wasn’t
the least use."

Glynn would have been more than mortal not to laugh at her look of
humble apology.

"Ah! well, Posey dear, I’ll not be hard on you.  But tell me, please,
what further passed between you and Lord Clandonald?"

"Absolutely nothing.  All I could do was to turn the conversation away
from him and me.  I couldn’t find the least little way to bring you into
it, or to say, ’Unhand me, sir, my heart and faith are another’s,’ since
his hands were in his pockets and mine in my muff, and we were both
saturated with Channel fog.  I just thanked him for all his kindness to
me on the voyage, and told him what’s true, that I’d never forget it;
though, if he ever met me again I’d probably be a very different sort of
Posey Winstanley.  And then he calmed down, and it was all over forever,
and I ran away to see if daddy had found his letter of
credit—and—and—I’ve never seen or heard from Clandonald since."

"Posey, you are a child still, a charming child, and I love you for it,
dear."

"It’s awfully good of you, John, and the greatest possible relief.  If
you knew what a double-faced sort of thing I’ve felt myself to be all
these months, remembering that I’d let another man almost propose to me,
when I had given you my word of honor—there’s one thing I’d like to ask
before we’ve done with the subject, though.  What does it mean when a
person is by you and you’d give, oh! _anything_ if they wouldn’t go
away?"

John started genuinely.  A vision flashed to him of those blessed
maddening hours in the train the day before, when Helen and he had sat
together, and he jealously begrudged every revolution of the iron wheels
that, without mercy, carried them toward their parting.

"I don’t know, Posey," he murmured guiltily. "Why in the world do you
ask me that?"

"Because I thought you would tell me, honestly," said she, with a
speculative expression.  "It has bothered me often, wondering.  But it
doesn’t matter.  Now you are here, everything seems straight and clear
before me.  Shall I ever forget daddy’s rapturous old face when he sat
by your supper-tray at the library table, last night, forcing you to eat
indigestible food, and looking from one to the other of us?"

"But he has aged, dear," said Glynn, with a twinge of pain.  "One sees
the spirit in his face above the flesh.  We must never let him know care
or trouble again, little girl. We must strengthen his arms, one on
either side of him, and make him walk easily through life."

"How beautifully you talk, John!" cried she.  "Ah!  No Englishman could
ever have felt that way toward my daddy.  No other man could give him
what you do.  Yes, you are right.  It’s our life-work to put him between
us, and look out for him every day."

"And to do so," went on Glynn resolutely, "we should marry soon."

Posey started visibly.

"Must we, John?  Oh!  I hadn’t thought of that."

"Is the idea a pain to you?"

"Perhaps.  I don’t know.  I’ve always put it out of my mind when it
weighed on me. Daddy gave me a year, John," she added pleadingly.  "And
the year began in October. This is only February.  We’re all so happy as
we are."

Happy!  Again that clutch of iron upon Glynn’s heartstrings!

"Happiness will come more fully and freely, my sweetheart," he said,
striving for words, "when we have put his heart’s desire beyond all
chance.  I think you will both have to come back with me to America this
Spring, if I’m to serve his interests as I should.  Let me take my wife
with me, Posey."

"What, _now_?" she cried, with wide-open, panic-stricken eyes.  "Oh!
goodness gracious, I hope not now!"

"I am due again in New York almost immediately, but will be free to
return the beginning of next month, or a little later.  By that time the
heat will be sending you away from the Riviera, and would it not be best
for us to be married very quietly here, and let Mr. Winstanley’s son and
daughter take care of him upon the voyage?"

"A wedding here?  What a funny idea!" cried Posey.  "Not a girl I know
to ask as bridesmaid—at least, the only one I’d want would be Helen
Carstairs, who has just arrived in Cannes, and I don’t know about her.
Perhaps she mightn’t wish; but she was _too dear_ to me, John, on
shipboard, as I wrote you.  By the way, you didn’t seem to take the
least interest in my friendship with Helen, and yet it has done me a
world of good.  Not a girly-girly affair in the least, I assure you.
We’d both have scorned that.  She has written to me several times, and I
was simply wild with pleasure to hear she was coming down to Cannes.  I
think if you’d realized what Helen is, John, at least what she is to me,
you’d not have been so indifferent.  I must tell you the truth, I was
really quite hurt with you.  But you’ll meet here, and then you’ll see
for yourself, and end by adoring her as I do—oh, John," she exclaimed,
interrupting her light chatter with an exclamation of terror, "there’s
that woman now!"

"What woman, Posey?" he asked, bewildered at her rapid change of
subject.

"Hush!  The one I told you of, who frightened me yesterday—the mad
woman.  Don’t turn suddenly, but, after a second, look between those two
lemon trees.  She just glided past as we were speaking, down the walk
from Villa Julia, and is hiding behind the shrubbery.  She’s waiting for
me, John.  This is getting terrible!"

"She shall have _me_," said Glynn grimly, his senses alert in a moment
to the danger Posey ran.

"Don’t make a scene with her—don’t alarm daddy," she went on.

"Trust me," he answered briefly.  "Do you go into the house, and stay
there till I come. Say nothing to any one, and I’ll rid you of your
nightmare."

As Posey mutely obeyed him, albeit with a blanched face, Clandonald’s
saying came into Glynn’s mind, "There’s but one woman who would do this
thing."  Verily, Glynn would not have to go far to find her.

She arose from her bench as he approached—evidently badly scared.  A man
of his years and vigor and mastery of the situation had not entered into
her calculations of this experience.

"You look surprised at seeing me here," she said rapidly, with perfectly
well-bred ease.  "I suppose it is trespass, but the villa had been so
long unoccupied, we had got into the way of running into the garden from
my aunt, Lady Campstown’s, whose house is across the lane yonder."

He was for a moment thrown off his guard and bowed, acquiescing, as any
gentleman would have done.

"However, I am just going," she added. "The little green door is very
familiar to me, I assure you."

"Might I delay you one moment," he said courteously, "to ask what can be
your motive in annoying and threatening the young lady of this house?  I
ask in her father’s name, and we wish you to know that this must be
absolutely the last time that you come into these grounds."

"What difference does it make?" she asked fretfully, throwing out her
hands with a weary gesture and losing her self-control. "I can always
reach her, somehow.  She has not done with me yet, I can tell her.
Unless," she added, with a low, meaning laugh, "her friends are ready to
make it well worth my while to disappear."‘

"You will not find her friends unwilling to aid in that desirable
result.  But I have first to know your motive in annoying her so
cruelly."

"Call it rivalry, call it revenge," she said, with a shrug.  "Either one
of these causes is strong enough.  She is, if you must know, the only
woman I ever feared could take my place in my late husband’s
life—permanently, I mean," she added, with an ugly smile.

"I take it that I am speaking to Lord Clandonald’s divorced wife?"

"Really, my good sir, you give yourself, or rather Miss Winstanley,
’away,’ as they say in the vernacular of your richly-gifted country. You
are evidently well-informed of the progress of that immaculate young
lady’s affair with Clandonald—continued on shipboard doubtless from
America, and who knows when and where since?"

"The young lady, whose name I forbid you to mention here," cried Glynn,
with a darkened countenance, "met the gentleman in question on shipboard
for the first time, as she did twenty others, and has never seen or
communicated with him since."

"She has convinced you of that fact—then rumor is right for once, and
there is a confiding fiancé from America?  After all, yours is a younger
civilization than ours, and you still believe in your girls?"

Glynn interrupted her.  He had got all he wanted from Ruby Darien.

She had been a striking beauty, had, even now, a certain reckless grace
of manner. Her face was as Posey had described it.  He read there
untruth, degradation of moral fibre, and the ravage of disease and
drugs. There was no use in dealing with her in heroics.  Money would buy
her, and money she should have.

"If Miss Winstanley’s friends agree to make it worth your
while—substantially worth your while" (her eyes glittered) "to keep at a
distance from her, never again to approach her in deed or speech, at the
risk of forfeiting a monthly allowance of say—" (here he mentioned a sum
which caused Ruby Darien’s haggard face to flush high with covetous
delight)—"it will certainly not be without an understanding on their
part of how you contrived to present yourself through Lady Campstown’s
premises without identification by her servants."

"That was a small matter," she said eagerly.  "Although my respected
aunt-in-law has long since instructed her staff not to admit me to her
presence, there remains in her employ a child of nature, an untutored
Provençal housemaid, who in former days chose to idealize me, and even
now would do anything reasonably atrocious at my bidding. She it was who
contrived to let me in from the lane, to which a cab from the station
brought me up the hill.  I should tell you that I am stopping
temporarily at Nice, in an hotel where they accept me without questions,
but which has proved, alas, too fatally convenient to Monte Carlo!"

"Then, if you will allow me, I will myself see you into another cab for
your return. There is a station for carriages at no great distance down
the road from here.  To-morrow I will present myself at your hotel in
Nice, with the necessary papers insuring to you the allowance I named,
and an agreement, which I shall in return ask you to sign, pledging
yourself to keep your side of the bargain."

"American promptitude in business is proverbial," she said, essaying an
easy laugh, and darting a side glance, not unmixed with admiration, upon
her interlocutor.  "How nice it must be to be disgustingly rich as all
you Yankees are; to be able to confound the politics and frustrate the
knavish tricks of your enemies by the prompt administration of hard
cash!  I always thought that if I’d had money enough to be good on, I
might have graduated as a saint."


When Glynn walked up the steps at Reine des Fées, feeling a mixture of
disgust and pride in his victory achieved, Posey ran out to meet him,
slipping her arm in his.

"You’ve triumphed, I see.  Oh!  John, dear, what daddy needs is a real
son like you, and I, just such a brother.  Don’t tell me anything about
that horrid creature now, let’s be happy for a while.  Let us speak of
something as far from her as one pole of earth is from the other—of dear
Helen Carstairs, whose card I found on the hall table when I went in
after leaving you.  If it hadn’t been that I was with you, I’d have
begrudged missing her for anybody’s sake. Of course the stupid servants
said I was not at home.  Now, why couldn’t they have shown her into the
garden, and then she could have been introduced to you, and how nice
that would have been!  The two people of all others I most admire, and
shall expect and insist upon being friends with each other! Say, John,
to please me that you are longing to meet Helen!"

"Posey," began Glynn, and his voice to his own ears sounded unnaturally
thin, "I have been waiting a chance to tell you that I have known Miss
Carstairs; that I ran upon her by chance at the Gare de Lyons yesterday,
just as the train for the South had started.  That we were, in fact,
companions in the same compartment, and talked of you together, more
than once, during our day’s run."

"You!  Helen!  Wonders will never cease!" cried the girl exultingly.
"But," a sobering thought seizing hold of her, "how was it possible you
never mentioned her to me in a single one of your letters?"

"Try to think why, Posey," the young man said gravely, as they paused
together in the hall filled with dead marbles and living blossoms of the
Spring.

"It was Helen, then, Helen?"  Her eyes flamed the rest of the sentence.

"Yes."

"Ah!  I might have guessed it.  And I—was vain enough and rash enough to
think I could fill her place to you.  Poor, dear John, what you have
lost, and what have you got instead?"

"Far more than I merit in any case, dear. It is her secret, and, but
that I dared not deceive you, should never have passed my lips. It is
over, Posey, buried forty fathoms deep. You see, now, that each of us
has need of charity and forbearance with the other, and you must set me
an example of kind forgivingness for all I have done or left undone
toward you."

"My dear boy," said Mr. Winstanley, who, at this moment, came shuffling
out from the library to join them, "you are late for luncheon, but how
long wouldn’t I wait to see you and Posey standing there together?  It’s
better than any sun-bath to have you around, I tell you!  I feel years
younger since you came."

"So do I, father," said Posey.  "After this I am going to wear a collar
with a little bell and a leash, and let John lead me upon the Croisette.
It is good to have some one to be will and conscience, both, for me!"

"I’m afraid I’ve spoiled her for you, just a little, John," added her
father wistfully.

"You and others, perhaps.  But such as she is, she’s a lot too good for
me, sir—or any man.  All the same, I think you’ll have to be giving me
Posey before the time you fixed for our probation.  We are young and
will grow together, and she’ll help me to do big work.  And it seems to
me, Mr. Winstanley, that she’s got a dose of this Old World at the start
that’ll make her willing to settle down in our own country."

"We’ll see," nodded the old gentleman. And, indeed, the idea of an
earlier marriage chimed in with his own notions.  Since the wing of the
Angel of Death had brushed so near his face in passing, Herbert
Winstanley often thought that to put the future of his impetuous child
into safe hands would give him a happier feeling when he lay down to
sleep o’ nights.


Thus Miss Bleecker was wiser than she knew, in predicting a matrimonial
conclusion to the Winstanley winter in Cannes. When she and Helen
accepted Posey’s invitation to dine with them "to meet a few friends" on
the night but one following their arrival—an invitation, needless to
say, accepted by Miss Carstairs with perturbation of spirit and the
feeling that she was walking up to the cannon’s mouth—things seemed to
point that way.  They found Mr. Winstanley, simple and gentle as ever,
standing to receive his guests in the drawing-room with its famous
tapestries, surrounded by gems of art that for the first time in years
had emerged from their Holland cerements. The stately room had flowers
massed in its corners, and a great fire of logs was leaping under a
carved stone mantelpiece also banked high with plants and blossoms.  At
her father’s right hand stood Posey, blushing and dimpling with artless
pleasure in receiving her friend under circumstances so radically
different from those in which they had met and parted a few months
before; but in dress and bearing so perfectly adapted was she to her
luxurious entourage, that Miss Bleecker blinked when looking upon her,
and refused to believe her eyes.  And on Mr. Winstanley’s other side,
quiet, grave, a little pale, but collected and fully determined to
maintain his position with dignified acceptance, stood Glynn—as handsome
and bonny a lad as ever rejoiced a father’s heart, Mr. Winstanley was
saying inside his own warm receptacle of human emotions.

As Helen’s eyes met John’s and dropped away; as he clasped her gloved
fingers, marvelling at her grace and distinction in the trailing dinner
gown of pale rose satin without frill or furbelow, each felt that this
occasion had for them the solemn significance of a final renunciation of
their love.  It was as if she were standing in the church seeing Glynn
take Posey to be his wife.  A keen pang of shame for the weakness that
had overcome her on their journey shot through her being.  Ah, well!
Fate had been too strong for her then.  That was the last, the very
last—like a farewell breathed into already deadened ears.

Posey’s attitude toward Helen also touched Miss Carstairs acutely.  That
there was in it a new consciousness she felt immediately. She recognized
that Glynn must have eased his honest heart of its burden by telling his
betrothed of his former love for her, and felt that this was as it
should be, if Posey were to remain her friend.  It was not tender
apology, or loving sympathy, that Posey showed, nor yet bashful
consciousness that she had in some way taken the ground from under
Helen’s feet, but an exquisite mixture of all these.  Her high spirits
had for the moment deserted her.  She kept close to her father’s side,
answered Miss Bleecker’s fulsome greetings with no attempt at tart or
witty answers, and, as their other guests came in, proceeded to do the
honors as if "born to the purple" (so Miss Bleecker whispered to John
Glynn).

The chaperon’s day of wonder was upon her, while the room rapidly filled
with a company of people distinguished in the world’s eye of their
winter colony, all of whom bore themselves toward the tenant of Reine
des Fées and his youthful _châtelaine_ with the friendly consideration
of accustomed intimates. To each of the new-comers, Glynn was presented
by his host; without special announcement, it is true, yet in fashion so
intentional that there was no mistaking the attitude in which he stood
toward father and daughter.  As they presently went in to dinner, in a
salle with carved panels of French walnut and great lustres of Venetian
glass illuminating its four corners, to gather around a table that left
nothing for fastidious taste to criticise, Miss Bleecker wanted to pinch
herself upon taking off her gloves, to feel assured that she was not in
a dream. The old gentleman, yonder, well turned out by a good valet, in
appropriate evening clothes, seated between a great lady of France,
whose neck was wrapped in historic pearls, and an Englishwoman, of rank
and exclusive habit, could he be the little old man of shipboard, whom
Helen’s chaperon had despised and derided as the veriest pretender to
good society?  It was incredible!  And the strangest part of the
situation in old Sally’s eyes was that, save in externals, Herbert
Winstanley had not altered in any particular from the shrewd quiet
observer of the game of life, the mild commentator upon the ways of men
and women, the almost childlike recipient of courtesy and kind words,
whom she remembered with amused contempt.

Such as he was, these people had taken him up with a good-will there was
no denying. Miss Bleecker had the pleasure of finding herself at table
told off to an old beau of nativity American, overlaid with years of
veneer Continental, who seemed to find satisfaction in extolling to her
the "solid" success of the Winstanleys; the girl’s extraordinary ease in
presiding over this banquet of state, and the good luck of that fellow
Glynn, whose significant appearance this evening was evidently intended
to put all of Miss Winstanley’s other admirers out of the running.

Old Sally, who had long ago learned how to trim her sails, listened with
bitterness, and while comforting her inner woman with the long
succession of "plats" and wines presented at her elbow, made up her mind
that she would stray over to Reine des Fées, without Helen, next morning
(under her most becoming parasol), with the hope of finding Mr.
Winstanley engaged in taking his sun-bath on the terrace.  "And, if I
only get my chance," she meditated, "trust me for following it up."  The
announcement, by cable from America that day, of the engagement of a
contemporary of her own, long abandoned in appearance to celibate joys,
to marry "the last man anyone would have expected to see pick her up"—a
recent widower of large means and uncertain temper—accelerated the
spinster’s thoughts and lent a false brilliancy to the evening that had
begun for her so dolefully.

To Helen Carstairs, naturally, the ordeal of the dinner was
interminable.  Separated from Glynn by a wide extent of flower-decorated
table, amid which candles gleamed softly, and silver lent its sheen to
illuminate beds of maiden-hair and cyclamen, she dared not look in his
direction.  All of her efforts were given to self-control.  The man who
took her in, a handsome blond young Russian, with all the languages of
earth seemingly at his disposal, decided that the American heiress not
appropriated at this feast was as cold as the snows of his own Caucasus.
The Roumanian prince on her other side gave her up also as a person
impossible to interest.  She went through it like an automaton, her one
desire to see Posey signal to the lady with the pearls that it was time
to arise from table.

Lady Campstown, watching this little drama of every day, felt worried
and puzzled.  She had never given up the idea that Clandonald had cared
for Miss Carstairs, and was only debarred from telling her so from his
pride of poverty and the clog attached to his career. Although her
ladyship’s secret heart yearned over Posey, and she would have given
worlds to see Clan’s allegiance transferred to her, the American rival
well disposed of in some other way (nature not settled in her mind) and
Posey becoming a member of their family, her very own to cherish through
life, the joyous regenerator of her nephew’s hopes and fortunes—she now
felt this to be a fairy tale beyond chance of reality.  Much as she had
talked to Posey about Clan that winter (and one must have experience of
the wealth of conversation a lonely old woman lavishes upon the young,
strong, vigorous manhood that belongs to her and has gone out to the
world, forsaking her, to know just how much that was), the girl had
never in return given her a hint of interest in him beyond the common.
She had spoken of their meeting on shipboard, had acceded to Lady
Campstown’s appeals for interest in the chief events of his life, but
had ventured nothing on her own account.

Slowly, but surely, therefore, Lady Campstown had seen the evanishment
of this hope, conceived in secret and brought forth in fear, without a
suggestion of it having been consigned to Miss Winstanley.  The arrival
of Mr. Glynn, duly presented to her ladyship in form, had shown the
dowager the futility of her hopes.  The engagement with Glynn was real,
tangible, not a boy-and-girl fancy that might drift into smoke—it was
undeniably "there to stay."

Lady Campstown, perhaps unwillingly, could not withhold from Glynn the
tribute of admiration his manly exterior, his fearless earnestness of
character, were wont to extort from strangers.  She had failed, though,
to discern in Posey any of the usual signs and tokens by which a girl
takes the world into her confidence concerning her joy at a lover’s
coming.  She marvelled at the child’s matter-of-fact demeanor, her
off-hand bonhommie, her warm spirit of comradeship to Glynn.  It must
be, thought the old lady, a little put out by these conditions, which
were not according to her recollections or her views, "that is the way
they do it in America!"

Thus, perforce falling back upon the Helen Carstairs idea again, that
young lady’s arrival in Cannes had seemed little short of Providential.
Clandonald must, according to his promises and forecasts of travel, be
shortly in the field.  There was no question that he had once admitted
to his aunt it was some American lady who had caused the trouble from
Ruby shortly after his return to Beaumanoir.  He had been vague,
elusive, as men always are in telling what their womenkind want to know
about other women; but there had been a girl, an American girl; Ruby had
attacked him through this girl, he had paid dearly to silence the base
tormentor, and then, in an access of wounded pride and disgust, had
again shaken the dust of his native land from his feet, and journeyed
into the unknown.  Months had passed, long enough for Clandonald’s angry
feelings to subside.  He must soon come back to Villa Julia, where he
had known so many happy hours.  His aunt would make him thoroughly
comfortable, happy, as she well knew how to do.  She would go slowly,
leaving Helen and himself to drift together again in the natural order
of such things.  It must, it must come out all right!

While indulging in this optimistic thought for the twentieth time in two
days, Lady Campstown had happened to catch a glimpse of Helen’s face
between two candelabra.  It was the first time she had seen it in repose
since the young lady’s visit to Beaumanoir, and she was struck with an
increase of thought and pain in the rare, fine countenance.  At once she
decided that Helen was fretting after Clan, and her warm heart bounded
with sympathy.  She went up to Miss Carstairs when the women were
together after dinner and spoke to her cordially, flatteringly.  Posey,
from where she sat with her two greatest ladies—tarrying there, however,
just long enough to say a few modest words, then leaving them to what
they desired, conversation with each other—saw the talk between her two
friends, and longed to join in it.  Hastening upon her rounds as a
hostess, she in due time came up with them.

"What a nice time you two dear souls are having!" she exclaimed.  "And
how I’ve wanted to be with you!  It is so much nicer always to be with
the few one loves than with the many one merely has to know."

"You have been gleaning golden opinions, all the same," said Helen.
"Lady Campstown has been telling me what Princess Z—— says of you as an
entertainer—that you were born, not made."

"I reckon—no, I _fancy_ I came by it honestly," laughed Posey.  "I
always enjoy the things we give so much more than those we go to."

"I am asking Miss Carstairs to come to me to-morrow for luncheon," said
Lady Campstown, putting with loving fingers a stray bit of Posey’s lace
in place.  "And I do hope, dear, you haven’t promised anybody else."

"I’ll come, surely," exclaimed the girl. "Though I suppose I ought not
to forsake daddy and John these few days we have together.  But to tell
you the mortifying truth, they are continually falling knee-deep into
talks of which I can’t understand a thing. And sometimes I slip out with
my dogs, and they don’t even know that I have gone."

"’Slip out’ to-morrow, then, at 1.30, and bring the dogs," said Lady
Campstown. "But, my dear, what does this mean that I hear, Mr. Glynn is
for leaving us on Thursday?"

"He’s going to catch the ’Kronprinz’ at Cherbourg, Saturday, and must
have a few hours in Paris.  It’s awfully stupid, I tell him, but when an
American man gets hold of a scheme that spells business you can no more
induce him to loose hold of it than my darling Maida will consent to
give up a particular pet bone."

"But he’s coming back very soon, they tell me.  How you Americans can go
racing back and forth across the Atlantic as you do——"

"Yes, he’s coming back very soon," said Posey, faltering a little, and
pulling to pieces a superb white rose with purple-red outside petals
that hung from a vase on the console next to her.  "I may as well tell
you both, what I meant to do to-morrow, that daddy and he decided to-day
the wedding’s to come off at the end of March.  John will accordingly
rush through a lot of things in New York, tear back again, probably via
Genoa, if they put on one of the fast ships, and where his trousseau’s
to come in, I can’t imagine.  My own will take every minute from now
till then, and all of the missionary aid you two dears choose to lend
me, to make it an accomplished fact."

"You can count upon me in all things," Helen said very quietly.

"Oh, my dear lamb, and you ask me to be glad when it means that I’ve got
to lose you," put in Lady Campstown, thinking for the moment honestly
about herself, and thereby covering what might have been a trying pause
to both girls.  A servant, presenting a tray of coffee-cups at Lady
Campstown’s side, helped further to bridge the moment, and others of
Posey’s guests surrounding her with chat and laughter, the question of
the marriage floated away into space.  Helen, however, took it back to
her hotel with her, wrestled with it during sleepless hours, and next
day, to stave off intolerable thought, set out for a long walk alone.

Whither she went she neither cared nor knew.  She had a vague
remembrance of having passed through the flower-market, and being set
upon to buy, by a soft-voiced, smiling woman who stood behind great
blurs of red and yellow and white and purple, shrined in verdure, from
which luscious scent arose.  To get rid of her, she had paid a
persistent child a franc for a big bunch of violets, and the girl, with
a saucy, merry face, thrust into her hand also a spray of orange
blossom.  Helen threw this last away impatiently.  Impossible to be rid
of the suggestions of that wedding, ten-fold more abhorrent to her now
that she had seen for herself and knew beyond a peradventure that it was
inspired by no such love as she and John had felt for each other only a
day or two before; such love as she must feel for him, God help her,
till she died.

She walked on through the town, far into the outskirts, till seeing a
sign of "New Milk" upon a chalet near the road made her suddenly
remember she had set out without even her morning coffee.  Going inside
the building, she sat for a few moments at a table while a woman served
her with rolls and a glass of milk, and then, starting forth again, was
vaguely tempted to ascend a hillside which rose abruptly above the spot,
crowned with a noble growth of trees.

Helen had no sooner gained the smooth plateau of the summit than she
remembered where she was.  Long ago, as a child, in charge of her
English governess, journeying from the Italian seashore to join her
father at Marseilles, they had stopped over for a midsummer fête at Mont
St. Cassien, where, in blazing heat, the Cannois and their rustic
neighbors from miles around had fulfilled an old custom of Provence in
holding service at a little chapel on this hill, the remainder of the
day and evening being spent in feasting at tables spread on the slopes
and in the green valley below.  She could shut her eyes and see again
the lights gleaming around the tables, as the hot darkness fell, the gay
costumes, and the chain of dancers threading its way among the trees.

The grass was growing wild and coarse where she followed a shaded path
to the little hut in which a holy hermit had once lived and died.  A
peasant woman in the kitchen of the hermitage was cooking something in a
casserole over a tiny fire, but she left it civilly to conduct the
stranger through to the chapel adjoining.  A girl grown to woman’s
height, but, alas, a child in intellect, began pulling and tugging at
her mother’s gown, asking witless questions and being repeatedly, but
tenderly, thrust aside by the woman, and told to stay in her own place.

Helen hardly knew why she had acceded to the woman’s suggestion that she
should visit the uninteresting sanctuary, with its cheap emblems and
smell of stale incense, and decorations of paper flowers.

But she understood, when through the now opened front door a gentleman
stepped from broad sunshine into the chill interior, apparently as
aimless as herself, and came up to her side.

"Helen!  You are alone?"

"You here!" she answered under her breath.  "When I have come all this
distance to be away from you!"

"It is the same with me, Helen," Glynn said in a sombre voice.  "I have
wandered and wandered up here for no reason in particular, trying to
believe you are not in Cannes, trying to master my ungovernable desire
to be with you only once again."

"It is all of a piece with our being thrust together that day upon the
train," she cried impetuously.  "What have we done that such things
should be forced upon us?"

"Come out at least into the sunshine," he said, taking her cold hand.
"You will be chilled in this dreary place."

Giving a douceur to the poor guardian of the premises, they went
together to a point of the hillside whereon the trunk of a fallen tree
offered a semblance of a seat.

Helen, actually nerveless, dropped upon it, Glynn standing beside her,
neither daring to speak first.

"You know that I am leaving to-morrow?" he asked finally.

"Posey told me so last night," she answered.

"She told you what was to follow my return at the end of March?"

"Yes."

"The question is, Am I a man of honor or a scoundrel?" he went on with a
frowning brow.  "I have thought of it so long, so intensely, that my
judgment has ceased to act. Helen, you have the clearest mind, the most
well-balanced conscience I ever knew——"

"You can say that, when I was so false to myself and you as to let you
go that time in New York, before all these complications came upon us?"
she interrupted him bitterly. "But there, what is the use?  We have
parted, there is no hope, let us never speak of ourselves together
again.  If it is your duty to Posey, to her father, that torments you; I
bid you keep your pledge.  It is impossible that you should now make any
motion to withdraw from it.  The one terrible thing to me was that we
should all go on and Poesy have no idea what you and I once were to each
other——"

"Nobody could know that," the man said sturdily.  Helen shivered.

"But you have relieved me of that fear," she hurried on.  "I saw at
once, last night, that you had told her——"

"Only that you were the woman I had loved before plighting myself to
her.  She knows nothing of the circumstances of our acquaintance.  That
is my secret, mine only, to be treasured till I die."

"She knows enough, however, to make clear the way between us," Helen
made further haste to say.  "If you are kind now, you will end this
conversation that ought never to have begun.  I shall be leaving Cannes
shortly.  My father is coming for me in his yacht.  Before I see you
again you will have in your keeping the happiness, the trust, of one—no,
two, of the kindest, most confiding creatures God ever made.  Never
think that it is I who could try and weaken you at the outset of such a
task. If necessary, rather let Posey think that I have grown cold to her
than run the risk of such a re-awakening of old feeling as we two have
innocently suffered from to-day."

Her voice dropped to a whisper.  Violet shadows had formed under her
eyes, the lines around her mouth had deepened painfully. But when she
looked at him full in the eyes, he knew there would be no more weakening
in his direction.  Presently she arose, and they walked together to the
foot of the hill, where Helen hailed a passing carriage and asked him to
put her in it.  A moment more, and Glynn was indeed alone.

As he walked rapidly homeward, he forced his mind away from the
overpowering interest of this last chance interview to dwell upon minor
things, among which he was inclined to classify even the settling of the
affair with Posey’s tormentor, Mrs. Darien.  He had, according to his
engagement with that lady, gone over to Nice by an early train the day
following their interview in the garden.  He had found her in the
melancholy splendors of a saloon bedroom in a cheap hotel, with a screen
half encircling an untidy couch, a dressing-table littered with strange
scents and unguents, shabby finery hanging upon hooks, and a _chaise
longue_ of rusty plush drawn up before a writing-table containing, in
addition to its blotter and inkstand, a case of liqueurs and glasses.

Mrs. Darien, for which he yielded her credit, made no attempt to
apologize for her poor surroundings.  She received her visitor with
astonishing ease and vivacity; talked rapidly and cleverly of
contemporaneous topics, and when he came, without overmuch delay, to the
point of the business that brought him, treated Mr. Glynn in a
semi-coquettish, rallying spirit, as though he were proposing to her a
very good joke.  She closed upon his offer like a vice, however, and
affixed her name to the paper forfeiting the liberal allowance he had
decided to make her should she be again heard of as molesting Miss
Winstanley with an eager, trembling hand.  Glynn had decided, as he
walked away from her into purer air, that drink or morphia, or both,
were driving the ex-Lady Clandonald to an end at a fearful rate of
speed.  He had paid high for this visit to Nice, but it counted as
nothing provided she left Mr. Winstanley’s little ewe lamb in peace.


The two girls met at luncheon at Lady Campstown’s, who had spent the
morning in letting Posey experiment upon her nerves in the Winstanley’s
automobile.  Posey felt proud indeed of this success, when she brought
home the dowager (at the utmost limit of speed disallowed by law),
thrilled and enchanted, after beginning her expedition with closed eyes
and a prayer upon her lips. Mr. Winstanley, who had long since abandoned
himself to sharing risks with his girl, sat beside his guest, exhibiting
to the public the exterior of a diver for pearls combined with a
hippopotamus.

Flushed by conquest, Posey had recovered her buoyant spirits, and their
meal was enlivened by her old daring sallies.  She even ventured, in the
welcome absence of Miss Bleecker, upon introducing an imitation of that
lady, in an entanglement of eye-glasses, trying to read the dinner menu
at sea.  Lady Campstown, who thought less of Miss Bleecker than she had
before seeing her recent barefaced designs upon Mr. Winstanley, enjoyed
this very much; but Posey confessed it had not been a success at home,
owing to Mr. Winstanley not relishing satire directed toward
acquaintances, and considering Miss Bleecker, on the whole, "a very
polite and agreeable lady."

When Posey separated from Helen after lunch she felt that a little frost
had fallen upon their friendship.  She instinctively realized that
things could not be between them what they were before Glynn had owned
to her he had first loved Helen.  Something told her that it needed time
to smooth over a situation like their own.  After John left on the
morrow she would, perhaps, see dear Helen with a lighter heart.



                              *CHAPTER IX*


Mr. Glynn had sailed away again, and preparations for the wedding had
already begun to absorb Miss Winstanley.  She had been gone for a week
in Paris with Lady Campstown when Mr. Carstairs’ yacht, the "Sans Peur,"
made its appearance in the harbor. Previous to this, it may be told,
Miss Bleecker had privately received and cashed a draft upon her bankers
that had put the chaperon in unprecedented funds and spirits.  She had
received also a telegram of instructions from Mrs. Carstairs, at
Gibraltar, directing her to engage for their party a suite of costly
apartments at the Grand Hotel.  Full of importance, she swelled here,
there and everywhere, detailing to all ears the grandeur and importance
of her employers, and basking in the rays of glory they sent before
them.  She needed a little cheering at this time, since Mr. Winstanley
had remained inflexible, declining her offers to bear him company on his
terrace, and treating her persistently as a worthy elderly person,
beyond the pale of pleasures that do not belong to the late afternoon of
life.

For Helen the days preceding the arrival of the "Sans Peur" were
profoundly sad ones.  Putting aside her feelings upon another theme, her
dread of reunion with Mrs. Carstairs robbed her of all joy in her dear
father’s coming.  In vain Miss Bleecker drummed into her ears how nobler
far it is to give than to receive, how a self-sacrifice like hers would
bring its own reward, how Helen was destined to be the blessed medium
through whom joy and harmony would descend upon the Carstairs family for
evermore.

If a faint—ever so faint—hope survived in Helen’s mind that her
stepmother’s specious assurances of good-will to her and devotion to her
father were to be credited, this faded upon her first visit to the
yacht.  In the cabin where she herself had once reigned as queen she
found Mrs. Carstairs, coarsened, indefinably repellant, although still
superb in bloom and with a Rubens lady’s plenitude of physique.  Around
her were grouped two or three men, making up the party of which Helen
was expected to be the bulwark of respectability. One of them, a Mr.
Danielson, Helen disliked promptly and instinctively; none would she
have admitted into the circle of her acquaintances at home.  When Mr.
Carstairs, after some delay, made his appearance, Helen was shocked
beyond measure to behold in him a mere weary wraith, beside whom his
wife seemed to flaunt her beauty and splendid health with insolence.
His greeting of his daughter was indifferent, abstracted.  She found it
impossible to have a word alone with him.  The thought of the cruise
before her lay like ice on Helen’s heart.

Before Mr. and Mrs. Carstairs had spent a week in Cannes the lady
declared it to be a poky hole and wished she had gone to Nice. To Nice
they accordingly repaired, and in due course of time sailed for Naples.
While Mrs. Carstairs rattled and joked noisily with her other guests,
she reserved for the handsome cad at whom Helen had taken special
umbrage a reserve of manner more suspicious to an interested looker-on.
To Helen, a petty agony of the cruise was that Mr. Danielson should
conceive himself obliged to devote most of his leisure hours to
attendance upon the owner’s daughter, refusing with fatuous persistency
to be shaken off.  A few brief scornful words of remonstrance on this
subject, addressed to her stepmother, were met by the laughing assurance
that there was really nothing for Helen to apprehend, and that a man so
universally run after as was Mr. Danielson, by what Mrs. Carstairs
called the "fair sex," must meet the risk of having his casual
attentions misinterpreted at times.

Proud, wounded, scornful, feeling that her standard of life had dropped
to an unendurable point, Helen got into the habit of keeping to herself
as much as practicable.  At Naples she would take her own maid and
absent herself for hours from the yacht and its dubious company.  To her
father there was actually no chance of being what she had hoped.  He was
mostly captious, preferring to be left alone when his wife did not
vouchsafe him her companionship—which was now a rare event.  The great
Mr. Carstairs was, indeed, socially a cipher among these half-breeds,
who drank his wines and allowed him to pay their expenses of travel.

Miss Bleecker, under the infatuation of Mrs. Carstairs’ liberal
money-spending, of their luxurious living and continual seeking of
pleasure and excitement in which she was included when, as usual, Helen
refused to go—became as a broken reed in support of her charge’s
movements.  Poor old Eulalie, with some sense of the loss of refined
surroundings they had sustained, and a hearty dislike of the imperative
chaperon, ranged herself exclusively upon the side of her young
lady—refusing to fraternize with Mrs. Carstairs’ maid, whom she regarded
as a second-rate creature in every way, and going through the routine of
life in general with a dogged determination to endure unto the end.

A day came at last when Miss Carstairs went out to Pompeii with her
maid, instead of to the museum in Naples, where she had announced her
intention of spending the afternoon.

She left Eulalie sitting upon an immemorial stone and wandered off alone
through the beautiful sad place.  To the guardian, who would fain have
followed her, she gave a piece of money and a gracious smile, explaining
that she knew it all by heart, and wanted only to gain a general
impression of the dead city on that day of radiant spring.  She had been
standing for some time near the tomb of Mamia, looking out over the bay
and mountains of Castellamare melting together in sunshine, and,
recalled to the present by the lateness of the hour, started to walk
back to where she had left the monumental Eulalie.

Her resolution to leave the yacht, to abandon the party, and if needs be
to forfeit all that her acquiescence had secured for her, was now
definitely taken.  To avoid discussion, she would simply ask her father
to allow Miss Bleecker and herself to go up to Rome, where Mr. Carstairs
could never abide visiting, on the ground that he did not like living
over catacombs and being face to face with so many things already done
for.  He knew Helen’s tender passion for the Imperial City, and might
excuse her from going on with them to Sicily.

From Miss Bleecker she felt sure of meeting fierce and stubborn
resistance to her plan. The dream of Miss Bleecker’s life had been a
cruise in the "Sans Peur," and it was hardly to be supposed she would
easily relinquish it. But Helen felt that upon occasion she could be
stubborn too.  Any clash of wills, and subsequent victory for her, was
worth undertaking, to rid her of the offensive companionship of Mrs.
Carstairs—and one other.

She could not be sure of what she suspected between them.  She scorned
to make herself assured.  She could not stoop to the miserable method
necessary to the acquirement of dread certainty.  And yet "she was
walking every day with bare feet on a burning pavement without feeling
the burn."

Passing with noiseless step before a house-wall arising like a screen
before her path, she paused for a moment to enjoy one last gaze at the
pageant of sea and sky in the light of waning day.  In this brief time
the sound of her own name spoken by low voices behind the ruined wall
forced themselves upon her hearing.  They were those of her stepmother
and the man Danielson.

Two phrases interchanged, but they told Helen all.  She could never
again indulge in the misery of doubt.

She stood for an instant as if overtaken by the lava flow that had
devastated the homes of seventeen centuries ago surrounding her. The one
despairing, driving impulse was to steal away unseen by the woman who
dishonored her dear father’s name.  Helen thought she had rather fall
down and die and become embedded with the dust of ages than go back to
face Mrs. Carstairs and let her know she had found her out.

As the couple, without discovering her neighborhood, moved in an
opposite direction, Mr. Carstairs’ daughter took wings to her feet and
flew to pick up Eulalie and find the cab they had left before the Hotel
Diomed. The maid, sluggish though were the workings of her mental part,
saw that her mistress had had a fright, and blamed herself for losing
sight of her.  Helen’s cheeks were white, her hands shook as though
palsied, as she sprang into the cab and bade the man drive fast, fast,
back toward the town.  She wished, at all events, to avoid being caught
up with or passed by the pair, who could not at that hour linger much
longer within the enclosure.

During the long joggling drive through interminable stony streets,
encumbered by the populace of the Neapolitan suburbs, performing their
domestic avocations out of doors, she came to a desperate conclusion.
She was of age sufficiently mature to act for herself. She could not,
would not, give her reasons to her father.  But she would carry out her
recent determination to leave the yacht at once, forfeit the price that
had been paid her to be an infamous blind, and, at any risk, sever her
present connection with Mrs. Carstairs.

Helen possessed the American woman’s promptitude in action.  She drove
with Eulalie to an hotel formerly frequented with her father, engaged a
room for the night, and sent the maid to the yacht with a note
requesting Miss Bleecker to come to her.  The interview resulting with
her estimable chaperon was perhaps one of the most painful of her
experience.  The lady, to whom she gave in explanation of her resolve a
bare statement that she could no longer endure the trial of life with
her stepmother, exhausted herself in remonstrance and reproach.  She
pointed out to Helen that the money from her father could still be, and
no doubt would be, withdrawn upon announcement of Miss Carstairs’
extraordinary move.  Helen declared that, well aware of this fact, she
was prepared to live on the small income coming to her from her mother’s
estate.  Miss Bleecker reminded her that her father was in evidently
wretched health, and that no whim or temper should stand between him and
his daughter’s attendance at his side.  Helen, blushing scarlet, with
tears in her eyes, recalled to Miss Bleecker that she had not been
allowed access to her father’s own cabin since they had been together on
the cruise, and that, furthermore, he did not appear to want her.  Miss
Bleecker called Heaven to witness that she had no patience with family
jars, had no axe to grind on her own account, but that if Helen
persisted in her wilful determination she should feel it _her_ bounden
duty not to forsake poor Mrs. Carstairs if wanted to remain.

That evening, between nine and ten, Mrs. Carstairs called upon Miss
Carstairs, but was not received.  Helen sent back, in a hotel envelope,
her stepmother’s card, across which she had written these words:

"I happened to be at Pompeii this afternoon, but no other than myself
shall know under what circumstances you also were there. It is enough
that we must part."


Next day Mrs. Carstairs announced to her guests that they were sailing
for Sicily, and as Miss Carstairs did not desire to go farther South,
she had decided to return by train to the Riviera, to visit her friend,
Miss Winstanley, at Cannes, and would rejoin the "Sans Peur" later,
somewhere in the Mediterranean.  Then the "Sans Peur" steamed gallantly
away, bearing Miss Bleecker, now installed as companion to the owner’s
lady, and Mr. Carstairs, keeping his cabin, it was said, with a bad
attack of some trouble undeclared.

The same evening, as Helen was about taking her train for Genoa and the
Riviera at the _Stazione Centrale_, she met, face to face on the
platform, Lord Clandonald and M. de Mariol, returning by way of Corfu,
Brindisi and Naples from the Peloponnesus, where they had finally
brought up after their ramble in Eastern Europe.  The two men greeted
her with cordial courtesy, receiving in sum the explanation of her
presence made public by Mrs. Carstairs.  Mariol, from whom she shrank a
little, in the fear that he might remember against her with rancor the
refusal of his addresses, showed no consciousness that this episode had
occurred between them.  He was his old self, gentle, sympathetic, with
an exquisite intelligence in dealing with her such as no other man had
exhibited.  He saw her into her own compartment with her maid, and
before bedtime returned there several times, to take the seat vacated by
Mlle. Eulalie, who had carried her accustomed headache to an open window
in the corridor.

Before they had talked ten minutes Helen realized that her great crisis
was understood and felt by him.  In her overstrained and overburdened
state the relief of finding a soul in tune with her desolate one was
infinite.  She let him know just as much as was necessary of the
impelling cause of her action, and also that in accepting Miss
Winstanley’s invitation in a recent letter to return to Cannes, "if only
to see the spring flowers," she was doing so until she could make up her
mind just how to readjust her life to altered circumstances.

M. de Mariol said little, but thought much, after he had left Miss
Carstairs for the night. Clandonald had come once to look after both of
them, and their talk had turned into cheerful channels.  Both men were
brown and healthy and in good spirits, Mariol on his way to Paris,
Clandonald to Cannes, to visit his good aunt.  They touched upon the
subject of the Winstanleys’ rise into fortune and worldly vogue,
Clandonald saying that Lady Campstown had written him of Miss
Winstanley’s approaching marriage with Mr. Glynn.  In his frank,
untroubled face Helen failed to discern any symptom of corroding care,
and once more she registered an experience of the brevity of men’s
attachments when their object is removed.

During the day’s journey that followed, dashing in and out of tunnels,
catching glimpses of Paradise cut short by the blackness of the
Inferno—or, as some one has aptly said, "Travelling through a flute and
seeing daylight through its stops"—M. de Mariol absorbed the chief part
of Miss Carstairs’ society, putting forth for her the best of his rare
powers of charm and companionship. When Clandonald and herself finally
left the train at Cannes, and Mariol went on his way Paris-wards, Helen
breathed a genuine sigh of regret for a void not to be filled.

The welcome she received from the Winstanleys went far toward
reconciling Miss Carstairs to the necessity for a continuance of
interest in human existence.  Those warm and simple-hearted people,
refusing to allow her to stop at an hotel alone with her maid, opened
their home to her with rejoicing hospitality.  Nothing that she had ever
seen of a kindred nature seemed to her as broad and warm as their
delight in offering her a shelter. Posey’s quick wit divined that a
terrible break had occurred between Helen and her father’s party; her
delicacy withheld all questions as to its cause.  It was enough that
Helen Carstairs, to whom she had looked up with the veneration of a
devotée on his knees before his shrine, had come upon a time of sorrow,
of disillusion, of deep and lasting despondency, and that it was Posey’s
privilege to afford her protection and sympathy until the dark hour was
past.  It never entered into her generous nature to draw the contrast
between the days, not so long past, when Helen had kept her at
arm’s-length, and she was the outsider.  Nothing that she could do was
too much to cheer Helen, to make her feel one of their innermost circle
of home, more than a welcome, a cherished guest.

In this atmosphere of tender _prévenance_ Helen’s bruised spirit quickly
recuperated. She did not relax in her intention to make a small
independent home for herself somewhere, a condition of things her
father’s continued silence seemed to bring ominously near. She had no
illusions as to the fact that Mrs. Carstairs had represented her conduct
to her father in the most unfavorable, unpardonable light.  A little
while she would remain as the Winstanleys’ guest, then would tell Posey
that she had found it obligatory to shift for herself and to live upon
far less than she had ever done before.

The means of escape from her _impasse_ came to Miss Carstairs from an
unexpected quarter. Three days after her arrival at Reine des Fées,
while sitting with Posey in the orange walk, a letter was handed her
addressed in M. de Mariol’s handwriting.

Helen blushed violently, then grew pale, as she laid it aside to read in
private.  She felt that it must contain a renewal of his former offer of
marriage, and this time the old feeling of unfitness was lacking.  She
was conscious only of the great unselfishness and generosity which this
man of intellectual distinction and wide renown had always shown to her.
She could see now that life is possible without either the thrills of
young passion or the costly material pleasures that wealth provides.
Her future, as the wife of M. de Mariol, would be assured of certain
elements of happiness quite apart from the demands of her past, but on
the whole as satisfying to a reasonable being. He had told her that his
means enabled him to be independent of the charge of fortune-hunting.
He knew that she was now, by her own act, almost impoverished, and yet
he still wanted her.  He was well-born, admirably bred, in a social
surrounding that would continually interest her, and was, as always, a
true and loyal gentleman.  Above all, her future home would be far
removed from the unspeakable black cloud that must hang over it in
America.  And yet——

Posey’s happy voice sounded in her ear. "You aren’t going to read your
letter, now? Then you’ll let me talk?  You haven’t forgotten that we’re
dining to-night at Villa Julia?  Do you think I had better wear my rose
chiffon, or the little white crêpe de chine with silver embroideries
that came from the bazaar in Cairo?  It was so strange Lord Clandonald
should have taken the hour to call yesterday, when we were sure to be at
the Golf Club with all the world.  You say he looks well, Helen?
Bigger, browner, stronger?  I have been thinking all yesterday and
to-day of dear Lady Campstown’s joy in his return.  When she heard he
was coming she quite forgot me, and my poor diminished shade crept into
insignificance. With her own dear little thin hands she smoothed his
bed-linen, and put flowers on his dressing-table.  Ah, how much love
means, Helen!  It’s been growing on me every day, that all the rest is
poor flimsy stuff.... I think Lady Campstown has made me over, and my
breast swells in gratitude to her.  I even love daddy better for loving
her.... If I can only end by loving John as much as I love them!"

"Posey!" said her friend, shivering.

"Don’t say you feel the mistral, Helen.  It simply can’t get to us in
this sheltered spot. Dear, I wish you’d be happy, too.  For some reason
that I can’t tell, I’m simply bubbling over to-day.  One of my wild
fits, I reckon. It began when I got your wire saying you were actually
going to be good enough to come and stay with me, without that hateful
old Bleecker—there, I feel better.  ’_Celà soulage!_’ as the woman in
that play at the Gallia said when she had boxed her husband’s ears—and
then, and then——"

"Posey!" repeated Helen, with a sort of awe in her voice.

She had noted, with astonishment and pain, the girl’s uncontrollable
delight at the knowledge of Clandonald’s actual vicinity to her. She had
watched her, all the day before, fluttering with excitement and
expectation, dropping for a while into bitter disappointment when they
had returned home, to find only his cards!

"Helen, you think I’m impatient for this evening to come, but I’m not.
I can wait perfectly well to see Lady Campstown with her ’boy.’  But you
know how the person somebody you love is always talking about and
waiting for, seems the one you want most to see.  Not a day this winter
that the old darling hasn’t talked to me of ’Clan.’  I believe I know
about every incident of his life, except the gloomy ones connected with
his marriage—his first pony, his scarlet fever, all the rest of it——"

Helen’s anxious brow cleared.

"I suppose it’s natural, but you mustn’t forget, my dear, that he’s very
handsome and charming, and your fancy took a little turn that way on
shipboard—and that you are soon to be married to John Glynn."

Posey heaved a long, genuine sigh.

"I don’t forget.  I’m all right for John, only I wish I could be free a
little longer.  I should think you’d know nothing would tempt me to be
in love with a man whose wife isn’t dead.  Anyhow, I told John every
single thing that ever passed between Clandonald and me, not the tiniest
thing hidden.  Of course John saw I couldn’t help being more interested,
in a certain way, in Clandonald than in any man I ever saw before."

"Not of course, Posey," said Helen, half smiling.  "There are even some
people who might consider the man you have more ’interesting’ than the
man you might have had."

"Oh!  John is a darling.  Everybody knows that, but their looks are not
to be compared—why, Helen, he’s not as tall as Clandonald by several
inches—he hasn’t that beautiful set of the head upon the shoulders, just
such as I should think a king would have—and that rich, thick brown
hair—Helen, it’s really dreadful how thin John’s hair is getting on the
top."

Helen dropped her book upon the ground.

"Don’t, Posey," she exclaimed, almost sharply.  "It isn’t worthy of you
to talk such nonsense."

"Ah, well," said the girl, mischievously, "I feel like saying those
little things sometimes, it seems to relieve the tension.... Helen,
don’t look at me with such a face," she added, with sudden gravity.  "It
almost makes me think that though John is going to marry me, you haven’t
entirely stopped caring for him....  How pale you are! You frighten me!
... You know you do, you know you do, and he—?  How could he love me
when he had you near?  I see it all now.  He would like to get you back;
he has never really wanted me, and I’m only to be taken because of his
duty to my father."

The April mood had changed.  Great drops of crystal welled into her blue
eyes and dropped upon her cheeks.  Impelled by desperate resolve, Helen
sprang upon her feet.

"Don’t cry, dear.  Don’t cry, my darling Posey.  You are over-nervous,
and it isn’t wise for us to prolong a talk like this.  I will leave you
for a little while alone, to go in and read my letter, and when we meet
again at luncheon, I may have something to tell you about myself that
will take away all fear of my ever coming between you and your John
Glynn."



                              *CHAPTER X*


Clandonald had now been two whole days in Cannes without treating
himself to a glimpse of the young woman with whom he had parted in a fog
off Liverpool.  And yet this was not through indifference, or
forgetfulness, for in all his wanderings the image of the fair American,
his "Goddess of Liberty," as he liked to think of her, had gone with him
persistently, in spite of the unpleasant fact that he knew her to be
engaged to, and now on the point of matrimony with, another man.  Even
Mariol had not found out how keenly the news of the forthcoming nuptials
of Miss Winstanley and Mr. Glynn had cut into his friend’s
sensibilities.  Rather than meet her, Clandonald would fain have avoided
the Riviera altogether, to go on direct to London, but for the pleading
image of his dear old aunt, who was counting upon him to come to her.
Nobody suspected that in a long, flat pocket-book of Viennese leather,
presented to him at parting by Lady Campstown—and for a wonder in
woman’s gifts, actually available by the male recipient—he carried a
picture of Posey, cut out of an English illustrated paper, found in a
wayside inn in Roumania, among other "Beauties of the Day and Hour."  It
was a charming characteristic pose in which the photographer had caught
her, and the gown and coiffure showed the girl’s advance in worldly
style and knowledge of how to make the most of her advantages.  Here,
indeed, would have been a Lady Clandonald, amply equipped to take her
place in the picture gallery of Beaumanoir among the beauties of their
line!  And in her frank young face he could read no trace of the
unwholesome tastes and proclivities that had wrecked him through Ruby
Darien.  It was a folly, a childish weakness, to treasure this scrap of
paper in his breast pocket close over his heart, and he had resolved
that he would soon violently dispossess himself of the same by casting
it in the fire.  Let him meet her once again, have speech with her in
the ordinary way, realize that she was entirely absorbed in preparations
for her union with another, and it would be easier to be done for good
and all with this strange, obstinate, enduring obsession.

It was not the best atmosphere for a man in his state of mind to find
himself in daily intercourse with his impulsive old aunt, whose life had
been for weeks and months saturated with the influence of Posey’s
personality. Although Lady Campstown honestly believed herself to be
doing everything that feminine tact and zeal could inspire to extol to
him the desirability of Helen Carstairs as a wife, she was really
setting forth Posey’s charm from morning until night.  She told
Clandonald how the girl had first come to her, tall and nymph-like,
through the avenue of palms, with violets, white and blue, clustered
around her footprints.  How, immediately, her first distaste of the
dreaded American neighbor had been swept away in the girl’s sweet appeal
to her friendship; how she had then only done for her what she would
have had another woman do, in like case, for her own Lucy, had she
lived.  And how, little by little, she had grown to wait upon Posey’s
daily coming, to laugh with her, to sympathize in her needs and
perplexities, until she counted a day lost when Miss Winstanley did not
appear to irradiate it.

"At the same time, my dear," the dowager said, interrupting herself, "I
am not going to pretend that there are not other girls in the world as
engaging and lovable as she. Miss Carstairs, for example, is—er—_most_
distinguished in her appearance, and has admirable manners.  Posey tells
me that her friend Helen is so highly educated she makes her feel as
ignorant as a street Arab.  Of course, that’s only the child’s American
habit of exaggeration.  She really reads and studies part of every day,
and her literature teacher, Miss Barton, says Miss Winstanley’s memory
for facts and grasp of ideas is something quite out of the common.  As I
was saying, Helen Carstairs is just the kind of person I should think
would bear transplanting into English life.  She is so simple and
unemotional and self-contained.  When you go to Heine des Fées to
call—when did you say you were going to call, Clan dear?"

"I don’t think I said, Aunt Lucy," answered her nephew, with a twinkle
in his eye.

"Ah, well, dear, probably it will be to-day, as you have now had time to
draw breath after telling me all about your travels.  You must have had
a very pleasant journey from Naples in company with Miss Carstairs."

"Yes, very pleasant, what Mariol would let me have of her.  He was very
absorbent, it must be said.  You know I told you once, long ago, that I
believed good old Mariol had actually knocked under to a fair Yankee,
and I have now every reason to believe that this lady is the object of
his secret cult."

"I never heard of such a thing!" exclaimed Lady Campstown, for her,
almost sharply.  "I can’t imagine a more unsuitable idea.  These
marriages with Frenchmen rarely turn out well.  At least, unless the man
has a title and a château, and the foreign wife would have some
interests in the country.  A mere brilliant, drifting, scoffing creature
like M. de Mariol—!  Think of that book of his I found on your table and
tried to read. Why, there were ideas in it that made my hair stand on
end."

"Moral: Aunt Lucys shouldn’t carry off the French books they find on
their nephews’ tables," answered he, teasingly.  "It is a fact, however,
that Miss Carstairs seemed to find extreme satisfaction in her
long-continued duet with my clever chum.  It was as much as I could do
to get a word in edgewise."

"I am surprised, and I must say a little put out, Clan.  I shouldn’t
think you’d have given her up like that to any man, however friendly he
might be."

"To give up argues to have had.  And I cannot truly claim to have
established any monopoly in the young lady’s society.  Aunt Lucy, dear,
I won’t tease you any more.  As our American friends say, ’you’ve been
barking up the wrong tree.’  It was never Miss Carstairs that turned my
poor, weak brain. I admire, esteem her cordially, and think Mariol would
get an ideal wife if she would smile on him—but love her—never in this
world."

"But you _said_ I might think what I pleased as to your being spooney
about an American girl, that day you brought her to Beaumanoir and
afterward told me you had decided to go away again.  It was virtually
acknowledging that you loved her, and but for the abominable
interference of a person who shall be nameless, would have pressed your
suit."

"They said that in Lord Byron’s days, Aunt Lucy, or was it Miss
Edgeworth’s? And you have been dwelling on that rash admission of mine,
and building air castles with me and Miss Carstairs looking out of the
windows all these months in consequence? No, best of aunties, you are
horribly out of focus.  You’ve got hold of the wrong person altogether.
I don’t in the least mind letting you know that I made all kinds of a
fool of myself on that voyage over last October. I dreamed dreams never
to be realized.  And, as the powers of mischief willed it, Ruby seeing
my name announced for that sailing, had taken a second-class passage on
the same ship, with the laudable hope of ’making it hot for me,’ she
said.  She succeeded but too well.  She peppered an innocent young girl
with vile anonymous notes that made her shun the sight of me.  After I
got to town, she wrote to me directly, and to buy her off I made certain
sacrifices I could ill afford.  As far as I know to the contrary, I did
buy her off.  I count any money well spent that would keep shame and
sorrow out of the life of the girl I set out to champion.  She never
knew of it, she very likely wouldn’t care.  She probably went on her
straight, clean path of life, and forgot everything connected with me.
Yes, it _was_ an American girl, Aunt Lucy, but she wasn’t Helen
Carstairs."

"My poor boy, my darling Clan," began the dowager, then choked and
remained silent.

"I know you’ll never ask me who it was, dear, so I’ll make haste and put
you out of your misery.  Did it never occur to you that your admiration
for Miss Winstanley might be a family failing?"

"Oh! not _that_, Clan.  Never _that_!  To think you got so near anything
that would have given me such pure joy——"

"I didn’t get near, that was just the trouble. I believe she liked me,
perhaps better than any other man on board, till Ruby’s doings came
between us.  But she gave me unmistakably to understand there could be
nothing again after we parted then.  Of course, when I heard later that
she was engaged to this man Glynn——"

"Who is really a fine, manly fellow, Clan; you couldn’t help liking him.
But, oh! why couldn’t he have fancied the Carstairs girl and left my
Posey for you?  And, my dear, it is just a marvel to me.  Posey, who is
as open as a spring morning when there isn’t a cloud in the sky; Posey,
who never prevaricates or hesitates about the truth, how could she let
me go on, day after day, hour after hour, talking about you——"

"A fine evidence of her polite endurance, Aunt Lucy.  Poor Miss
Winstanley!"

"How could she, I say, without giving me the least little hint that you
had fallen in love with her?"

"I suppose because she considered that my secret."

"Now that I think it over, it seems to me that she almost always managed
to turn the conversation in your direction.  She certainly showed the
utmost relish in whatever I had to tell her, good, bad or indifferent."

"There was no occasion for the use of either of the two last adjectives,
when I was your subject," said Clandonald, looking at her with
tenderness, more touched than he chose to show.

"No, my dear, there wasn’t, I must say. Oh!  Clan, it all comes back to
me with a rush. Why, Posey has been just _living_ on talk of you and
reminiscences of you ever since we have been together.  And I thought it
was only I!"

"Take care, Aunt Lucy," the man said, getting up to stride back and
forth across the room.  "This is dangerous doctrine you’re preaching,
when Miss Winstanley’s wedding-day is set."

"God forgive me, so it is," answered Lady Campstown, the tears rushing
into her eyes.

"Let us make a pact, will you?" said Clandonald, stopping presently.  "I
have gone over and left my pasteboards in due form at Reine des Fées, at
a time when you told me the ladies were likely to be at the Golf Club."

"Yes, and I was really quite put out about it, but I see now that it was
better so."

"And I shall meet the young lady at dinner here this evening, according
to your plan. There will be several outsiders.  I shan’t have much
chance to speak with her, and after that——"

"Clan, don’t suggest that you will leave me after that.  Indeed, I
couldn’t stand it; you positively must stay.  I should tell you that you
won’t run much chance of seeing Posey privately, in any case.  She’s
tremendously taken up with fitters and people who come down from Paris
to bring things for her to see.  Besides, Miss Carstairs isn’t in good
spirits, I find, and no wonder—I believe she just broke and ran away
from that dreadful vulgar stepmother.  We heard enough of Mrs.
Carstairs’ doings the little time she was here to be thankful she took
herself off. There’s trouble brewing for the husband, if all one is told
is true.  Posey watches over Helen like a mother-bird, and hardly leaves
her.  Besides, they are expecting at any day or time the return of Mr.
Glynn.  He hasn’t cabled, but it was understood he was to get aboard the
first available ship sailing for Cherbourg or the Mediterranean ports
the hour after he finished some critical business he had on hand for his
chief.  (The way these Americans fly fairly takes one’s breath away!)
So there is no reason for you to go from here, if you think there’s to
be any embarrassment resulting from your meeting with her.  The days
will glide on fast enough to the wedding!" she ended with a deep and
heartfelt sigh.

"I don’t want to run in face of the enemy, indeed," he said, trying for
a more cheerful face.  "I think I’ll stroll out in the garden and smoke
a pipe, and try and settle my perturbed spirit.  And you, dear, what
will you do with yourself this afternoon?"

"The carriage is ordered, soon, for a round of visits I have to make.
How much rather had I spend the time, as I often do at this hour, going
in through the green door to sit with Posey in the orange walk—near the
fountain with the broken-nosed Triton, you remember.  It’s her favorite
spot, and nothing but rain will prevent her sitting there for an hour
with her book or work."

"Then I’ll see you at tea-time, if not before."

"I’ll be back, you may trust me.  Nothing I dislike more than having my
tea out, at houses where a woman sits behind a little table, talking to
everybody that comes, and mixing the most abominable doses of half-cold
tea, and too much cream and sugar, for her unoffending guests,
forgetting whether the water boils or the tea-pot has stood too long!
Keep to the bamboo walk, my dear, the mistral is blowing hard to-day,
and you’re not like me, acclimatized to it.  Down there you’ll be
sheltered and private, and can smoke your pipe in peace."


Clandonald had hardly left his aunt standing before the fireplace in her
sunny drawing-room, pondering upon the surprising intelligence he had
communicated, when Lady Campstown’s parlor-maid came in with a rather
frightened face.

"Well, Parks, what is it?  Have you broken a piece of my old Sèvres in
putting out the dessert service, or has pussy had a fit?"

"It’s only, my lady," said the girl, haltingly, "that the—er—lady you
gave us orders not to admit has driven up to the gate in a cab, and
insists upon seeing you on business of the highest importance, so she
says."

"You mean the person calling herself Mrs. Darien?" asked the dowager, in
icy tones.

"That were the name, your ladyship."

"What can I do?" passed through Lady Campstown’s much-perturbed and
angered brain.  "Clan’s being here complicates matters dreadfully.  She
is quite capable of making a scene that will echo through the
neighborhood.  I have declared that I will not again hold speech with
her.  If she were herself, I believe even she would not push into my
house and presence.  The horrible fear is that she is not herself, but
under the influence of drink.  In that case I must get old Rosa, who
loves her still, to take her off quietly.

"Say that Lady Campstown will see Mrs. Darien for ten minutes before she
goes out to keep an engagement.  And, Parks, tell the cab to wait.  Not
outside the front gate, but in the lane at the bottom of the garden.
And, Parks, send Rosa to me at once."

The Provençal servant, called Rosa, with a rather pale and
guilt-stricken face and manner, came hastily into the drawing-room,
stepping back to hold open its door for Mrs. Darien, who followed close
upon her heels.

"Stop where you are, Rosa," said the mistress of the dwelling, now the
great lady in every muscle and fibre of her stately little form.  She
spoke in the woman’s own tongue, and her low, clear voice was charged
with indignant emphasis.  "From this lady’s appearance in my house, I
assume that she is in some degree irresponsible for her actions, and
that she needs a caretaker to escort her back whence she came.  I desire
you to make yourself ready to go with her, now, directly, without delay,
and not to return under my roof until you can report to me that you have
done so."

"No such great hurry, Aunt Lucy," said Mrs. Darien, with careless
insolence.  "I’m really in a very normal and pacific state of mind,
considering the way the mistral is blowing, and that I, last night,
spent my last sou at Monte Carlo, and will be turned out of my room at
Nice if I can’t pay for it before a couple of days have passed."

"You can stoop to ask me for money?" said Lady Campstown, in English.

"When one’s flat on the ground one hasn’t to stoop, you know," answered
the visitor, calmly arranging the folds of her veil drawn over a cheap
plumed hat, under which a chalk-white countenance with gleaming eyes
revealed itself menacingly.  "I chanced to see in the local paper that
Clan had arrived to stop with you, and so simply timed my visit when you
would feel most impelled to pay to get rid of me.  What, for instance,
if he were to step in at this moment, through that window into the
garden?  Wouldn’t it be rather cheap at the price to see the last of me
for a couple of hundred francs or so?"

Lady Campstown, with a swelling heart, walked over to her escritoire,
unlocking a compartment thereof to take out two bank-notes of the amount
indicated.  She despised herself for the action, but could not trust her
voice to speak.

"Thanks, so very much," said Ruby, superbly putting her gains into a bag
of gilded meshes hanging at her waist.  "And as I see you flashing the
lightning of your virtuous eye upon that poor, shuddering numbskull of a
Rosa there, let me at least exonerate her from any complicity in the
arrangement for my visit here to-day."

"I have heard that you have been seen lately in the lane below my
garden," exclaimed the dowager hotly, "and that some one in my household
is under suspicion of having been holding conversation with you in the
bamboo walk.  I can only say that if this happens again Rosa goes out of
my service on the minute."

Ruby, who had been covetously looking around the luxurious, familiar
room, shrugged her shoulders indifferently.

"I suppose I must not detain you," she said conventionally, turning to
withdraw. "But since you have suggested it, I would be really quite glad
to have Rosa escort me back to my hotel.  The effort of coming
here—perhaps the force of old associations—has proved something of an
ordeal to me.  My heart is rather spinning around, and I am not
altogether sure I can answer for the strength necessary to support my
legs on the retreat."

"Go, Rosa, put on your hat and jacket as I bid you, and accompany
Madame," said Lady Campstown, nervously anxious to end the scene at any
cost.  A fuller view of Mrs. Darien’s face had showed her the awful
extent to which time and an evil life had ravaged it.  She would not
look at her a second time, but, shuddering, walked away to the window
and set it wide open, standing with her back to the offender, in
speechless disgust and misery.

To be one minute unobserved was enough for Ruby Darien.  She had been
standing near a little cabinet, on a shelf of which was accustomed to
lie Lady Campstown’s own especial pass-key through the little green door
into the garden of Reine des Fées.  Since the occupation of the place by
tenants this had not been used.  But things were not wont to change
their position often at Villa Julia, and the key still lay in its old
corner undisturbed.  Ruby’s nimble fingers closed upon and transferred
it to the interior of her little gilded bag, while Lady Campstown,
resolved not to speak to her visitor again, kept her position at the
window.

"I suppose, then, I may go?" said Ruby, laughing softly.  "In view of
your inhospitable attitude, I have really no excuse for lingering.  _Au
revoir_, Aunt Lucy.  I will return to you your old Rosa unspotted by the
world. And if it will add to Clan’s pleasure to hear I am near him, give
him my compliments."



                              *CHAPTER XI*


Clandonald, meantime, was walking up and down in the bamboo avenue,
chewing the cud of sweet and bitter fancy.  Lady Campstown’s loving
babble had put him in possession of an idea that haunted him like sweet
music. "Posey has been fairly _living_ on talk of you and reminiscences
of you ever since we met."  With all due allowance for the
predisposition of the kind speaker in his favor, there was a suggestion
of conviction in her manner that he could not forget or put away.  Was
ever flattery so subtly delicious as this thought? The fine stern
resolution he had made to flee from Posey’s vicinity seemed to take to
itself wings and vanish in thin air.  What? Go without seeing her once
alone, without thanking her for her kind thought of him, her mission of
ministration to his relative in his absence?  It would be a truly
unheard-of thing to do.  He even chose to forget the swiftly advancing
marriage—the betrothed lover who was doubtless now upon the ocean,
speeding as fast as steam could bring him to make sweet Posey his.
Nothing weighed, nothing counted, beside Clandonald’s strong,
overpowering desire to look upon her face, to touch her hand again, to
have her clear eyes search the recesses of his soul.

In two words, he had come down off his high horse, and was now madly
anxious to get inside the Reine des Fées garden on the chance of finding
Miss Winstanley sitting alone in the spot indicated by his aunt as her
favorite retreat at that hour of the day—the orange walk, near the
fountain with the broken-nosed Triton.  It was one of the most secluded
spots about the grounds, he remembered.  Anything might happen there and
the inhabitants of the villa be none the wiser for it.  What good
fortune if he should have the luck to find her alone and undisturbed in
this sequestered nook!  And even if Miss Carstairs should be with Posey,
he would trust to her woman’s tact to leave them alone for a little
talk.

With an artful affectation of going toward the town, he proceeded to
stroll down the walled street for a bit, then turning, doubled on his
tracks, and went in at the large gate of the Villa Reine des Fées,
inquiring of the woman who sat in the vine-wreathed doorway of the lodge
playing dominoes with an old, old man, and who admired milord Clandonald
greatly, whether "the ladies" were at home. Upon receiving from her a
smiling assurance that she knew them to be somewhere about the grounds,
since her husband, the gardener, had just then called to Miss Winstanley
where she sat in the orange walk, to receive some orders about a new
flower-bed, he bowed, thanked his informant, and took his way to the
designated spot.

Clandonald had regained his boyish beauty after so many days in the
saddle and nights under the stars.  His complexion was well with healthy
blood, the haggard look had fled from his eyes, his magnificent form was
in perfect condition, his heart beat like a schoolboy’s beneath his
summer flannels.  As he walked on with a rapid, springing step, he
brandished in his hand a Makila stick of tough Pyrenean wood, of which
the handle was formed of a single rounded pebble, and having at the
lower end an iron spike—one of the dangerous canes fabricated by the
Basque peasants, dear to the heart of Northern Spain, brought by him
from Biarritz, long ago, and left hanging by its leathern loop in his
aunt’s entry, where, as a relic of her nephew, it was religiously
preserved.  His hat, of fine Panama braid, shaded his eyes from the too
glaring ardor of the Provençal sun after the middle of the day.

The gardener’s wife, looking after him, smiled appreciatively.  She knew
his hard luck story, and, like everybody else, hoped that Clandonald had
at last emerged again from under the shadow of the undeserved cloud of
Ruby Darien.  When he had disappeared behind the shrubbery, and was well
out of hearing, the good woman curved her hand around her mouth and
remarked to her ancient sire, in a patois hard for an outsider to
understand, that she hoped at last the _Bon Dieu_ was going to make up
to this poor young milord for the troubles He had sent to him—just, for
all the world, as if he had been a peasant like themselves!

Clandonald did not notice her further, nor other inhabitant of the
enchanted garden than himself, until he arrived through a flowery arch
directly in the presence of Miss Winstanley, seated alone upon a marble
bench in a niche of glossy green, wiping tears out of her eyes, like a
naughty dryad put in a corner for punishment.

[Illustration: Like a naughty dryad put in a corner for punishment.]


At the same moment, ascending the hill from the town, came another young
man, whose destination also was the orange walk, where Posey sat
disconsolate.  John Glynn, finding at the last moment in New York that
he could get a quick passage to Genoa by an ocean greyhound put on for
an occasion, had returned to Europe several days before he was expected,
and neglecting to wire from Genoa, expected to take his friends here by
surprise.  He had walked from the station, entering the villa grounds
from the lower gate.  It seemed to him something queer was inspiring the
forces of Nature that afternoon. A strange, weird, exciting wind was
astir under brilliant sunshine—a wind to provoke and condone any act of
nervous irritability. Glynn felt glad to take refuge from its fury by
pausing under a great eucalyptus at the foot of the garden, and resting
there a while.

All during his quick eight days’ passage across the southern route of
the Atlantic, he had been alternately drawn and repelled by the
consideration of his forthcoming marriage. At the idea of his
benefactor, the maker of his fortunes, the dear confiding old man whom
he could never repay for benefits conferred, he felt ready to march up
to the church door and surrender himself to Posey without a look behind.
But it was different when the reverie centred upon the young girl whose
innocent thoughts were translated into words as fast as her impulse gave
them birth, whose fun and daring, joy and pain, succeeded each other
like ripples on a summer sea; he wondered if he had a right to make of
her an unloved wife.

For since that fateful hour when he had sat close to Helen in the
railway train, and since their meeting at the wayside chapel on the
hill, their hearts pulsing together, their thoughts yearning each toward
the other, stern resolve forcing them apart, he had known that to say he
would cease to love Helen had not made it any better with him, as far as
the only woman he had ever desired to marry was concerned.  Absence from
her, a voyage to and from America, tough work which he had surmounted
successfully, a negotiation so skilfully concluded that it had saved Mr.
Winstanley grave loss, none of these circumstances had lessened his
passionate yearning for her whom he had first held in his arms and
kissed as his future wife. When, after one of these outbursts of feeling
for Helen, he thought of Posey, it was always with keen shame and
abiding pity; it did not seem to him that he was "playing fair"—and yet,
here he was, back again at Cannes, the day of the wedding was shortly to
be set, and, as Posey’s husband, he was to enter upon a career in his
native country, the breadth and magnitude of which would surpass the
fondest dreams of his ambitious boyhood.

So strong had been the current of inclination turning him from his
destined way, that he had actually come afoot from the station, and sent
his belongings by a cab, rather than expedite his progress to Reine des
Fées by driving.  He had no idea that Helen had become a temporary
inmate of the establishment. His one letter received from Posey during
his swift run home, had described her friend as having sailed away on
the "Sans Peur," in company with that "utterly odious Mrs. Carstairs,"
and "looking so sad and spiritless it wrung one’s heart to see her."

Helen in Naples or Sicily, even if he knew her to be far from happy, was
better than Helen in Cannes, looking on at his wedding with Posey!

If Glynn could have suspected that at the identical moment, when he was
sitting under the eucalyptus tree trying to screw his courage to pushing
boldly up the hill, Miss Carstairs was at the writing-table in her room,
inditing with hot hands and desperate resolve a letter to Mariol,
telling him she would be his wife!

But he dreamed of none of the threads of Destiny weaving together that
day and hour while the mistral blew fiercely around Villa Reine des
Fées.  He only thought he would tarry a little while longer, his legs
and spirits feeling weighted as if with lead, before announcing himself
at the house, the hero of the "happy event" to come.


A third unexpected visitor to the garden now also advanced from the
direction of Villa Julia, and moved furtively behind the hedges toward
the Triton fountain.

As Ruby had found herself in the lane about to get into her carriage,
with Rosa in attendance, she had caught sight of Clandonald lightly
striding ahead of her, his evident destination the gilded iron grille
opening into the drive of Reine des Fées.  Instantly, the burning,
unreasoning jealousy of Posey, that had never forsaken Mrs. Darien,
sprang up again to madden her into action.

What she desired to do, to say, to accomplish, she knew not, but (the
bad wind, no doubt, aiding) an evil spirit in her blood commanded her
imperatively to enter and lurk in the forbidden garden, with the hope of
hearing or seeing something pass between the two.  She knew from public
announcement that Miss Winstanley was about to marry Glynn, the man who
had supposed he had bought Ruby’s forbearance from troubling his
fiancée.  If any prick of conscience assailed the desperate creature it
was at thought of her sworn promise to John Glynn—a promise about to be
forfeited in most treacherous fashion—to say nothing of her loss of his
indispensable allowance.  For, in stealing the key of the green door
from Lady Campstown, she had really meant to be more mischievous and
offensive than openly aggressive.  She intended to keep it until the
chance came to give, as she termed it, "that vindictive old hag, Aunt
Lucy," a rousing fright, and at the same time, perhaps, satisfy her
curiosity as to how things were going on between Clandonald and the
Winstanley girl.

And here was her opportunity sooner than she had hoped.  She had sharply
ordered the alarmed Rosa to keep watch in the cab until her return; had
heeded not the woman’s beseechings, for the love of all the Saints, not
to run this risk of offending Milady Campstown; and had let herself into
Reine des Fées by means of the key which Posey had begged Lady Campstown
to use at will, now that the green door was kept permanently locked.

To cross the forbidden threshold seemed to inspire Ruby with more
rancorous thoughts than ever before.  Why should Clandonald, also Glynn,
have paid her so heavily to protect this girl, already favored by
fortune, whilst she wandered in outer darkness?  She hated Posey the
more, not only because these two men stood before her, but because
Ruby’s best endeavor had not seemed to do her material harm; because the
girl had ceased being insignificant and was now rich and powerful; and
lastly, because Lady Campstown was her best friend.

Ruby knew that by taking the nearer way she would arrive upon the scene
before Clandonald could do so, and be safely in ambush watching him.  If
he were merely to enter the house for a conventional call she could do
nothing, and might slip back to rejoin Rosa, unseen.  But she counted
rather confidently upon what she had ascertained from questioning her
tool, that Miss Winstanley and her friend were generally to be found
out-doors at this hour of the afternoon.

The sight of Clandonald walking unconcernedly ahead of her, twirling the
Makila stick, which she recognized as a souvenir of their joint visit to
Biarritz, was as fuel to her flame. He looked so young, so normally
vigorous, so full of bounding life; he was so well groomed, so well
turned out, as the men were not with whom she associated in the present
phase of her existence.  How long it was, with the exception of her talk
with Glynn, since she had held converse with a clean, wholesome, and
courteous gentleman!

And she was so thin, so bloodless, so unbeautiful; her empire over his
sex was so nearly gone, she had so little left to hope for!

The immediate result of this contrast between herself and the man who
had once taken her, for better, for worse, at the altar, was to make
Ruby Darien furiously angry.  As Clandonald passed out of her sight,
between the ivied walls of the steeply descending street, she felt that
she would have liked to spring upon him like a panther, and—ah! it was
better that he had passed on!


Clandonald, as has been said, had unexpectedly stepped in through an
arch of crimson ramblers, to find Posey, whom Helen Carstairs had just
left to go in to write her letter to Mariol, weeping alone, and lovelier
than even he had remembered her.

If Miss Winstanley had been on her guard, or chatting with a friend, or
sitting with her book and looking up with a pleasant smile as he drew
near, Lord Clandonald might not have forgotten himself, as he now
unquestionably did!

Without a moment’s forethought, following out the impulse one has to
console a child whom one finds in distressful solitude, he made toward
her a buoyant movement, taking her hand in both of his, and dropping
upon the bench beside her.

In her present period of believing herself, as it were, deserted by John
and Helen, who, so fitted for one another, had, figuratively, soared
away out of her ken upon a rosy cloud, the girl welcomed Clandonald with
lips and eyes too eloquent to be mistaken.  Feeling that he must speak,
knowing that he ought to choose his words most carefully, he ended by
doing nothing of the kind.

"Oh, please don’t cry!" he simply said. "You are too dear and lovely
ever to shed a tear!  If you were mine——"

In books it is where people make the beautiful set speeches that come
out just right as to semicolons and periods, besides fitting exactly
into place in conversation.  In real life, under strong emotion, things
are said brokenly that often have neither grammar, rhyme nor reason.
This man certainly never meant to make love to this girl out of a clear
sky.  But his voice, his face, his manner, were all those of a lover
such as Posey had not known in her brief experience.  And the worst of
it was, the same unaccountable, unbidden feeling of delight again rushed
over her that she had felt for him upon the ship.  It seemed sufficient
for him to be near her for that to tingle in her veins!  She thought he
was the brightest, noblest object her eyes had ever rested upon, not a
mere faulty man idealized.  In plain words, "the old, old story was told
again" in the garden of Reine des Fées!

But Posey had gained in self-control since her experience of the world.
She checked the radiant return movement toward Clandonald, who, also
pulling himself together, guiltily arose and stood at some distance away
from her, holding his hat like a shy schoolboy, without saying another
word.

"I’m not crying," she remarked, somewhat untruthfully.  "I’m only
thinking over a sad sort of talk I’ve just had with my friend, Miss
Carstairs, who’s staying with me, as you know. She told me, by the way,
you’d been so nice to her on the journey, and so had M. de Mariol. We
were sorry to miss you yesterday, and are looking forward to the dinner
this evening. I didn’t think you would call again to-day."

"Neither did I," he said, "but when it came to waiting for my aunt’s
dinner hour I had to.  I hope you won’t mind my taking the short cut to
Paradise, without ringing at your front door.  It got me here the
sooner, see?  And as my aunt had happened to let fall that you always
came to the Orange Walk about this time, I ventured upon the liberty.
But I didn’t dare expect such good luck as finding you quite alone."

"Helen has just left me," she answered, a little confused by his ardent
gaze.  "I can see that it astonished you to find me so much grander than
I was.  But for me, I’m already used to it.  Oh!  Do you know, I had the
greatest satisfaction yesterday.  That Mrs. Vereker, who snubbed me so
on the ship, you remember, and that stuffed image of a Mr. Brownlow,
were both lunching at the Gold Club, at a table by themselves; and
seeing us with some people they thought ’worth while,’, came up and
spoke to me, almost humbly!"

"How did you treat them in return?"

"I said, ’Oh! really.  Are you in Cannes?’  And then the Grand Duke
asked me some question, and I turned away to him.  If the Grand Duke
hadn’t happened to be there it would have been no fun at all.  You see
how wicked and worldly I have grown.  Then Mr. Brownlow asked if he
might call at Villa des Fées, and I said we were so much engaged we
hadn’t any day at home.  Mrs. Vereker is dying to know Lady Campstown,
who doesn’t care whether she meets a leader in New York or a leader in
Allison’s Cross Roads.  I won’t ask you to tell me about your travels,
for darling Lady Campstown has read me every line of your late letters,
and even some you wrote her as a boy.  I know how you stroked the crew
of that splendid boat-race at college, and when you shot the lion on the
Upper Nile, and what you ate in South Africa.  After my talks with her
this winter I used to go home thinking you certainly the biggest and
greatest and bravest person in the world!"

Her girlish raillery seemed to him the most delicious fooling.  He
tossed his hat and stick into the flower-border behind them, and dropped
again upon the bench beside her. Beside the cool green shadow of their
verdurous niche, the sunshine seemed to lie on the marble pavement
beyond, like a slab of gold, the mad wind whistling outside harmless.
And neither noticed that Mrs. Darien, who had been standing dark with
menace, still as Fate, in the shrubbery at their rear, had leaned over
and possessed herself of the dangerous Makila stick.

A few moments later, Glynn, where he sat down in the lower garden, heard
Posey scream once, then silence.

He sprang up and flew to the spot whence the sound issued, some
under-gardeners reaching it at the same time.  They found Miss
Winstanley upon her feet, with horror in her eyes, Lord Clandonald
endeavoring to lift from the ground the form of a senseless woman, his
right arm hanging helpless, an ugly bleeding wound upon his brow.

"It’s all right!" he exclaimed to them grimly.  "This person attacked
Miss Winstanley, and I caught the blow, that’s all."

"Oh!  John, John, how thankful I am to see you!" cried Posey.  "Help
Lord Clandonald, please; he is badly hurt.  It is Mr. Glynn, Lord
Clandonald, and for my sake you must let him serve you."

Clandonald, wavering upon his feet, was glad to be assisted to the bench
where they were sitting when Mrs. Darien aimed her deadly blow.  But he
retained sufficient understanding to thank Glynn, and urge on him the
necessity of having the woman, who had been evidently overtaken by some
kind of a seizure, removed quietly from the place, and put in charge of
Lady Campstown—"who will understand."  After which brief direction, he
uttered one sigh, and fainted.

So Helen found the little group whom tragedy had grazed!  Posey, holding
Clandonald’s head in her arms, his limp body lying across the seat!
Helen was carrying in her hand the letter she had come outside to show
Posey, in fulfilment of her promise to the girl—the letter to Mariol,
telling him she would be his wife!

To her, with a hurried explanation of the affair and of his presence
there, Glynn consigned Posey, who seemed scarcely conscious of where she
was and what had happened, begging Miss Carstairs to take her to her
room. Before all things, it was desirable that Miss Winstanley’s name
should be kept out of the business, which he believed would end
favorably for Clandonald.  Helen led her away, obedient as a child,
although trembling violently, and holding her hand over a spot upon the
breast of her white gown where Clandonald’s blood had stained it.

Glynn, fetching some water from the fountain, soon brought Mrs. Darien’s
victim back to consciousness.  Clandonald’s first act was to look about
for the murderous weapon, and ask Glynn to suppress it; his second to
eagerly question the two gardeners, who, having borne Mrs. Darien away,
had now returned with remedies from the servants at Villa Julia, secured
under pretence that one of their number had met with an accident.

"_Quant à la dame, milor_," said one of these men, who had been for a
long time on the place and knew very well the skeleton in his neighbor’s
closet.  "It was not found necessary to trouble Milady Campstown with
her.  The housemaid, Rosa, was waiting in the cab, much frightened,
since she thought that Madame Darien had looked exceedingly ill when she
went into the garden against Rosa’s advice.  Madame Darien had revived
and bidden the men assist her into her carriage, and the housemaid had
driven off with her to the station.  It was not needful to tell anyone
else what occurred, since, the Virgin be praised, no serious harm
appeared to have been done."

Glynn, whose French fell short in moments of emergency, tried to explain
to the men that his and Mr. Winstanley’s gratitude for their excellent
service and consideration would continue to be remembered substantially
in proportion to their reticence upon the subject. He emphasized it by a
transfer of gold to each brown right hand, which the Provençals received
with blushes of becoming modesty.

"And now, you will go back to your work, _comprehendez vous_?" added
John, "leaving me to conduct _ce monsieur_ to Villa Julia, explaining
that a _branch fell from a tree across his cheek and arm_!"

Clandonald smiled wanly.

"That will do for a stop-gap," he said. "But I have my fears that the
woman who committed this unexplained assault will again be heard from on
the subject.  I fancy you know, Mr. Glynn, who she is, and that Miss
Winstanley has been for months an object of her virulence."

"I should tell you," said Glynn, while aiding him to get upon his feet,
"that I had some experience of Mrs. Darien upon my former visit to
Cannes.  I, in fact, then found it better to go to her lodgings in Nice,
and try to perfect a little arrangement for Miss Winstanley’s
protection.  That, it seems, has failed."

"The person is irresponsible," answered Clandonald, a dark flush, coming
into his face. "And, I am afraid, incorrigible."

"All the same, I am going to ask your permission to interfere so far as
to look her up again to-night."

"You know that is what I most want?"

"I think so.  I put myself in your place."

"More than that no man can do for another," said Clandonald warmly.

After Glynn had gotten him into his own bedroom, called up his servant,
and telephoned for the family physician of Lady Campstown (who, herself,
remained still fortunately absent upon her round of calls), they parted
like friends of years.



                             *CHAPTER XII*


There was no little dinner at Villa Julia that evening.  Clandonald,
wretched and feverish, tossed upon his bed.  Posey’s white face and
strained expression of anxiety kept the other villa in a state of
suspended animation while Glynn, in the motor car, was running over to
Nice on business not stated.


Helen Carstairs met him early next morning upon the terrace, at his
request.

"How has she slept?" he asked eagerly.

"Like a tired baby.  Toward morning she awoke sobbing, and I soothed her
till she fell asleep again.  Just now, when I went into her room with
the news that Lord Clandonald also had passed a good night, she was very
much more like herself—gentle, yet plucky, and determined to keep up."

"I hate a nervous shock for an impressionable woman.  Thank God, it is
all no worse! Suppose you and I had happened not to be with her—it makes
me sick to think of it! Helen, this isn’t the time to beat about the
bush to find phrases.  Tell me the honest truth.  Does Posey love
Clandonald?"

"I think so.  But she has fought against it from the first.  Don’t let
your sympathy with her at this moment lead you to any rash act of
renunciation.  She is so young.  She will get over it.  Besides, she has
told me most positively that she could never bring herself to marry a
man whose divorced wife is living."

"If that is the only obstacle, it need not count," said Glynn gravely.
"The woman who called herself Mrs. Darien died last night—and a blessed
solution it is to a miserable snarl.  She went back with the housemaid
to her hotel in Nice, and they got her into bed. By the time I reached
the place the woman, crying bitterly, came down to tell me ’her
ladyship’ was dead.  It was apoplexy—the second attack—precipitated by
her insane passion of jealousy of Posey."

"Thank Heaven, it wasn’t a murder she had to carry with her into
eternity!  Our poor darling, Posey—if that horrid flint had struck her
in the head where the woman aimed to hit—I can’t bear to think of it——"

"Don’t.  We have shaved the narrow edge, but have escaped.  Helen, one
of the strangest things that ever happened to me was that Mrs. Darien
left in the blotter on her table a sealed letter addressed to me.  I
took possession of it by showing the landlord and the doctor my visiting
card.  I don’t know what they thought of me.  I don’t much care.  In it
she asked my pardon for breaking her pledge to me. Said she was tempted
beyond resistance to return to Villa Reine des Fées, that she was dead
broke, desperate, expected to die suddenly some day, and wanted me to
know that if she ever could have gone straight again it was because of
the way I had trusted her."

"But your trust was in vain," said Helen, with the hardness of most good
women toward bad ones.  "Therefore I can feel no sentiment for her but
one of thankfulness that she is out of your hands, in Higher ones."

They walked back and forth for a few moments in the crisp morning air,
Nature smiling as she always does after the poignant scenes enacted in
her sight.  Mr. Winstanley, who was having his breakfast in the
rose-wreathed loggia upstairs, and from whom the incident of the attack
on Posey had been kept, saw them and waved his kind hand cordially.

Glynn stopped.

"It’s no use, Helen.  All the things I long for upon earth would lose
their flavor at the cost of ingratitude to him.  Even if Posey does
believe that she cares most for Clandonald—and if you had heard the
words the poor child spoke when she held him, without life, bleeding,
against her heart, you would not doubt it—it is not I who can withdraw
from my pledge to her."

Helen could not speak.  She was thinking of that letter to Mariol, not
yet sent.  Although she felt now that Glynn meant to keep to his
engagement at all costs, she was sure she could never send it; that
Mariol’s brief mirage of winning her must fade into the desert sands of
friendship, if he would be content with that.


During the days that ensued she kept almost altogether with Posey, who
was not allowed by her physician to leave her room.  And as Helen was in
the act of making up her mind to go to Paris to enter as a boarder in
the family of a governess of former days, who now gave shelter to art
students and girls whose voices were in training for the stage, she
received a startling telegram.

It was from her father at Taormina, requiring her presence there without
delay.  "I am alone and ill," were the magic words that sent her
speeding back to him, to find the hapless gentleman deserted by his
wife, whose affair with Danielson had ended in guilty flight! Aged,
mortified, broken, clinging to Helen in his humiliation, Mr. Carstairs
had yet made short work of ridding himself of the unwelcome visitors who
had preyed upon his money, while deriding him for a blind old fool not
to have seen before the condition of affairs.  In the flotsam of the
wreck Miss Bleecker, too, floated off, Helen refusing to see her or
listen to explanations, and Mr. Carstairs making short work of her
prayer to be allowed to remain with poor darling Helen in this awful
time.

At last, then, she was again alone with her father, free to cheer and
comfort his life with her best endeavors, a new object given to her for
daily care and sacred ministration. Mr. Carstairs would not hear of
dallying in the hateful spot where his shame had come to him.  He
insisted that the "Sans Peur" should take them to an English port,
whence they might embark immediately for home. And Helen had reluctantly
to acknowledge that the only medicine for a wrong and grief like his was
a return to the life of great affairs, in which he was signally a
leader.

At Liverpool, where she had landed so listlessly the previous autumn,
Miss Carstairs received a letter of loving farewell and God-speed from
Posey Winstanley at Cannes.  The girl could not keep out of her phrases
of affection the note of common sense, which made Helen’s humiliating
experience a subject of ultimate rejoicing by her friends.  She was sure
that Helen was going home to new happiness, new occupation, a generally
broadening horizon.  In the continual circling of moderns around this
little globe the friends were sure to meet again, "early and often,"
Posey prayed.  She had entirely regained her health, the weather was
getting piping hot, Reine des Fées was too dreadfully dull now that dear
John Glynn had gone back "for good" to his office in New York; even Lady
Campstown had been taken off by Lord Clandonald for a visit to
Beaumanoir; and lastly—it was on the cards that Mr. Winstanley and Posey
might also soon go to make acquaintance with England in the Spring.

No word of her marriage.  While Helen was pondering upon this theme a
steward brought her another letter that had been taken out of a later
mail-bag.  It was a _mot d’adieu_ from Lady Campstown, containing, among
other items of information, a statement that Posey’s wedding was
"indefinitely postponed."


The perennial Miss Bleecker, although smarting still under the
contemptuous dismissal given her by Mr. Carstairs at Taormina, was next
seen that Spring at Cadenabbia, hanging on, rather miserably, to the
skirts of Mrs. Vereker.  The two ladies, waiting there for Mr. Vereker
(who had been walking barefoot at Brixen, in wet grass), were heard to
bicker continually, to the discomfort of all within earshot.  In due
time they were joined by and accompanied Mr. Vereker to a new cure he
had heard of, at a place in Switzerland, where the _régime_ consisted of
skim milk and electricity.

The hotel which sheltered the party proved to be situated upon a sylvan
hill-top, surrounded by a park stocked with tame deer, with "Verboten"
placarded over every spot where one most desired to go.  A merry Swiss
lad was hired by the management to jodel in an adjacent grove, but there
were no visible cows.  One beheld, instead, a flock of theatrical sheep,
perpetually conducted up and down verdant slopes by a shepherd and a
dog.  Also, a band of native singers, the men in tweeds and Derby hats,
the women in custom-made blouses and gored skirts, who came often to
warble disconsolately upon the terrace.  There was even a cuckoo
sequestered in the woods, of which Miss Bleecker snappishly complained,
as a horrid clock, striking all out of order to wake people up at 5
A.M., until some one told her it was the genuine bird of Shakespeare,
when she called it a darling little thing.

For a long, long time it rained at this resort, and the guests sat on
damp iron chairs in the veranda and looked at where the view had been
some weeks before.  After that it was grilling hot, and as Mrs. Vereker
and Miss Bleecker were obliged to stay on for the completion of Mr.
Vereker’s treatment, the temper of the party became something too awful
for words.

The chief solace of the two ladies was to read French novels and English
weekly newspapers.  When the "Queen" published, among "Americans in
London," a picture of the beautiful Miss Winstanley in her presentation
gown, describing the glories of its "white and silver, with
lilies-of-the-valley bunched around the train," together with details of
the young lady’s success in the fashionable world under the sponsorship
of Lady Campstown, Miss Bleecker may have been said to have received her
punishment for many follies in the past.

A perfect day of early July saw the visit of Miss Winstanley and her
father to Beaumanoir, so long projected and so rudely interrupted, at
last an accomplished fact.  Lady Campstown, who had taken up her
residence with her nephew under the supposition that he still needed her
care, sat outside, after luncheon, with Mr. Winstanley, between whom and
herself an excellent comradeship had sprung up.  She saw nothing odd in
the old fellow’s quaint manners, his homely exterior, his shyness and
reverence toward women.  She had always liked his having come out of the
Southern rather than the Northern portion of the States, feeling,
somehow, more in touch with people from below the fabled line of Mason
and Dixon than with their aggressively prosperous neighbors.  She liked
his showing nothing of his wealth and potentiality, and enjoyed his
shrewd talk.  Above all, it must be said she liked him for being the
progenitor of Posey, who had finally wound herself and tangled herself
in the dowager’s heart-strings, not to be dislodged.

They had been talking of the girl, and the fact that despite her
brilliant little sortie into London society, she did not look quite
happy—quite herself.

"It will be as well for her when it is all over," said Lady Campstown,
plying her knitting-pins.  "But I don’t think it’s done her real harm to
have seen things the way we do them.  And another year, perhaps—who
knows?  There are always changes."  She ended with a sigh.

"If you are alluding to my daughter’s marriage, ma’am," said Herbert
Winstanley, speaking with authority and swallowing a lump of final
disappointment, "I was wanting a chance to tell you that she’s about
concluded that John Glynn and she will be better friends than lovers.  I
had been suspecting something of the kind when she told me—on the Fourth
it was, and I had to laugh when she said she chose that day on account
of George Washington and the cherry tree, because she couldn’t tell a
lie.  That’s Posey, Lady Campstown.  Always a laugh on her lip when a
tear is in her eye.  I saw how hard it went with her to have to rob me
of a dear hope. But I reckoned if her mother’d been living it’d not have
been let go so far.  It’s a hard thing for a man of my age to play on a
little delicate musical instrument like a girl’s heart. It’s over,
anyhow, and she’s written giving Glynn his freedom.  I think Posey would
like you to know these circumstances, ma’am, seeing you’re the best
substitute for a mother the little girl has had.  She doesn’t want you
to think her light or triflin’ in such things; she tried hard to be
loyal to him and me.... But even if she’d loved John well enough to be
his wife, there was an obstacle.  He had kept company with another young
lady first, and they’d been separated by his being poor.... I presume
you’ll agree that a young fellow who’d once been in love with Miss Helen
Carstairs couldn’t find giving her up as easy as it seemed."

"So that’s the meaning of it all?" cried her ladyship, dropping her
knitting, which the Schipperke proceeded to guard as if it were a Dutch
baby asleep in a canal-boat.  "I often wondered, but could not be sure.
I almost thought it was M. de Mariol."

"Well, I shouldn’t think that would suit, exactly," said the old man,
cautiously nodding his Anglo-Saxon head.  "Not but what he’s a nice man,
the Monseer.  But, as things look now, my boy is a better match for Mr.
Carstairs’ daughter, and John’ll feel more sure of himself to ask her
again.  She’s had a hard time, that sweet lady, and I wish her many
years of happiness to forget it in.  You see, ma’am, my Posey thinks
John _will_ ask her again."

Lady Campstown, who had long since resigned herself to see the vision of
Helen at Beaumanoir fade from her imagination, here felt a great new jet
of hope spring up in her heart and water everything around it.  Her
withered cheek glowed rosy red, her eyes had a girlish lustre.  She
hardly presumed to put her thoughts into words, and yet the mild blue
orbs of old Mr. Winstanley had fixed themselves upon hers with a
singular significance.

"Mr. Winstanley!  You have another idea?" she exclaimed, nervously
trembling.

"Several, ma’am," said Herbert Winstanley. "You know by this time, I
reckon, that your nephew got that bad hurt on the cheek and just missed
losing his eyesight, to save Posey from a mad woman.  Girls set store by
such experiences, I suppose.  But long ago, on the steamer, I saw she
fancied him mightily....  I won’t conceal from you, ma ’am, it isn’t
what I’d have picked out for Posey. Doesn’t seem suitable for such a
Hail Columbia sort of girl, now, does it?  But Clandonald’s a white man,
I’ll say that for him.... And m’ wife set a great store by English
people and their homes....  They’re staying away a good long time, those
young folks.... The doctors threaten I’ll have to spend my winters in
Cannes, the years that are left to me, but I reckon Villa Rain des Fays
is big enough for us all."


When Clandonald and Posey came back at last from seeing the white
peacocks they were walking hand in hand, and a great peace had settled
upon their faces.



                                THE END



           *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *



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