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Title: Scandal - A Novel
Author: Hamilton, Cosmo
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Scandal - A Novel" ***

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[Illustration: Fraser immediately became the object of Beatrix’ whole
attention. FRONTISPIECE. See page 192.]



                               *SCANDAL*

                               _A NOVEL_


                                   BY

                             COSMO HAMILTON

                               AUTHOR OF
                       SINS OF THE CHILDREN, ETC.



                         WITH ILLUSTRATIONS BY
                             RICHARD CULTER



                            GROSSET & DUNLAP
                          PUBLISHERS NEW YORK

                  Made in the United States of America



                           _Copyright, 1917,_
                           BY COSMO HAMILTON.

                         _All rights reserved_



    "For life, with all it yields of joy and woe,
    And hope and fear (believe the aged friend),
    Is just our chance o’ the prize of learning love,—
    How love might be, hath been indeed, and is."
      ROBERT BROWNING.



                        *LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS*

Fraser immediately became the object of Beatrix’ whole attention . . .
_Frontispiece_

"Don’t you think we make a charming picture of connubial felicity?"

"It won’t be many days before we find scandal rearing its head at us"

In this picture stood the vital figures of Beatrix and Franklin, hand in
hand



                               *SCANDAL*


                                  *I*


"By Jove, there’s Beatrix Vanderdyke!"

"Why not?"

"What on earth is she doing in New York at this time of year?"

There was a laugh and a shrug.  "If it comes to that, my dear fellow,
what on earth are we doing in New York at this time of year?  Anyway,
I’m not interested."

"I am.  She’s with that unpleasant brute, Sutherland York again.  I wish
to Heaven she wouldn’t go about with a second-rate portrait painter who
only gets commissions by licking people’s boots, or any other man, for
the matter of that, at this time of night."

Pelham Franklin laughed.  "I’m sorry I can’t squeeze up any interest in
Miss Vanderdyke," he said. "I’ve seen her going into York’s studio round
about midnight several times, but it’s her life.  She has to lead it.
There’s no accounting for tastes, you know. You and I, for instance,
have a penchant for the Ziegfeld Follies.  I vote we walk, it’s a little
cooler now."

And as the only son of the famous millionaire Franklin, sauntered away
with his friend, Sutherland York, the "unpleasant brute," followed Miss
Vanderdyke into the elevator.

York had cultivated a peculiar habit of looking at a woman as though she
were the only one alive, and by doing so had achieved a list of clients
which made the mouth of every other portrait painter in New York water
with envy.  He also had a way, which amounted to a gift, of running his
eyes over women which made them feel that they had nothing on.  It
caused some to shudder, some to preen themselves, and some—the coarser,
indelicate type—to feel a pleasant thrill of excitement.  Like many men
who paint portraits for a living, Sutherland York had discovered that in
order to pay the rent of a very expensive apartment, keep a man, dress
to perfection and dine frequently at Sherry’s and the Ritz, it is
necessary to know something more than how to paint.  Women were his
clients.  They provided him with his butter as well as his bread, and he
catered to them with artfulness rather than with art.  Miss Vanderdyke
came in for all this man’s eye-play in the elevator, but without a
flicker of a lash bore up against it.

The city had baked beneath a hot June sun that day.  The night was
airless and oppressive.  Beatrix dropped her cloak and went over to one
of the open windows and stood there with the discreet lights showing up
the smooth whiteness of her shoulders, arms and back.  Her dress was one
of those so-called smart things that one sees in the windows of
fashionable shops which affect French names.  It left very little to the
imagination and was as short as it was low. In between it was ugly and
foolish, and required a very beautiful young body to live it down and
put a check on the ribald laughter of sane people.  On the other side of
Fifth Avenue the Plaza, with its multitudinous windows all gleaming,
reared its head up to the clear sky.  Along the glistening street below
intermittent automobiles glided like black beetles.  The incessant hum
of the city came like music to the girl’s ears.  She preferred that
sound to the God-sent quietude of the country from which she had just
come.

While a bottle of champagne was opened and cigarettes were placed on the
table, York stood with his back against a heavily carved oak armoire in
an attitude of carefully considered gracefulness and watched the girl
with a sense of extreme triumph. The fact that she was young—very
young,—not very much more than twenty,—and was generally acknowledged as
having been the most beautiful débutante who had come out in New York
society in many years, did not matter.  He had painted her portrait and
had quieted his numerous trades-people with a certain portion of the
very substantial cheque which he had received, but that also did not
matter.  What did matter was the fact that he, himself, had proved
attractive to a Vanderdyke—to the only daughter of the man whose name
was known all over the world as the head of one of the richest and
certainly the most exclusive family in the United States, whose house on
Fifth Avenue contained art treasures which made it more notable than the
houses of European royalty, and whose country places with their racing
stables, their kennels, their swimming pools and tennis courts, golf
courses and polo grounds were the pride of all the little eager people
who write society paragraphs.  It meant a good deal to the son of the
man who had kept a dusty-looking antique shop with dirty windows on
Fourth Avenue to be able to assure himself that he exercised enough
attraction over this girl to make her run the risk of gossip in order to
spend a few stolen hours from time to time in his company alone.  With
the use of consummate tact, his well-practiced flattery, and at the
right moment a sudden outburst of passionate words culled from the works
of Byron and Swinburne, what might he not achieve!

As these thoughts ran through his brain he turned to the oval glass in
an Italian frame that hung on the wall and looked at himself with close
examination. He certainly wore his forty-seven years admirably well. His
dark, thick, wavy hair was all the more picturesque for its sprinkling
of white.  His high forehead lent him an air of intellectuality which
was most misleading.  His straight, black eyebrows and large,
almond-shaped eyes gave him a Latin touch which seemed to indicate
temperament.  His nose, he told himself, was undoubtedly aristocratic,
and his moustache—scrupulously lifted away from his lip—added to the
effect of a well-shaped mouth and large white, regular teeth.  There was
a slit in his chin of which he had always been proud.  Striking was the
word that he applied to himself, and handsome was the one which he knew
was generally used about him. The touch of humor which was his saving
grace made him very well aware of the fact that with any clothes less
well cut and carefully considered he might easily fall in line with the
glossy villain of melodrama or with the conventional desperado so
necessary to the producers of moving pictures.

With fingers as expert as those of a woman he smoothed his hair here and
there, made a quick sign to his man to get out, and moved across the
expensively rugged studio to the window.  "I was on the point of going
out to supper," he said, "when you called me up.  It was very kind of
you."

Beatrix turned towards him with the most disconcerting air of candor.
Not for the first time he was astonished at her perfect finish, her
audacious self-possession.  This baby was a complete woman of the world.
"No, it wasn’t," she said.  "I was bored. I only got to town at
half-past eight and the mere thought of spending the evening with a
garrulous companion—a sort of toothless watch-dog—in a house among
Holland covers and the persistent smell of camphor was more than I could
stand.  I had no intention of being kind.  Do we smoke?"

"Oh, please!" he said.

She followed him across the large, lofty room to the refectory table
which had stood in the back room of the shop on Fourth Avenue for so
many years, there acquiring all the age of which it could boast.  A
silver Jacobean box was open and in it there were Russian cigarettes
upon which York’s imaginary crest had been stamped.  He had himself
designed it.

"Thank you.  How is it that you’re here?  The last time I saw you, you
said you were going to Gloucester for the summer."

York put his face as near to the girl’s round shoulder as he dared.  "I
went there," he said, "on the last of April, but I had to come back last
week to see the architects of a new theatre.  They’ve asked me to paint
a series of panels for the foyer.  It’s a nuisance; but—although I dare
say it’s never occurred to you—there are some people in the world who
must work to live."  He raised his glass, adopted an expression of
adoration in which there was a mixture of humbleness and confidence, and
added: "I’d have come from the ends of the earth for the pleasure of
seeing you to-night."

Beatrix looked at him with a smile of amused appreciation.  "How well
you do that sort of thing," she said.  "Better than any man I know.  Was
it born in you, or did you achieve it?"

York placed what purported to be a Wolsey chair just out of the line of
light thrown by a lamp on the table, and metaphorically hauled himself
up for having gone a little too far.  This imperious girl, as spoiled as
a Royal Princess, who had been brought up in the belief that all she had
to do was to put her finger on a bell to bring the moon and the sun and
the stars to her service, needed more careful handling than a
thoroughbred yearling.  So York, whose business had taught him far more
than the rudiments of psychology, hastened to become general again.
Like the filibuster who starts out on an expedition to find hidden
treasure, he had always before him the vague, exciting hope that some
day he might stand towards this girl in a very different relationship.
"How long are you to be in the city?"

"I must go back the day after to-morrow," said Beatrix.  "I’ve only come
in to see about a costume for a Shakespeare Pastoral that mother has
arranged to give in the Queen Anne gardens.  It’s going to be produced
by one of the long-haired tribe, and the house-party’s to be assisted by
a sprinkling of professionals.  As it’ll break the monotony of country
life I’m looking forward to it, especially as I’m going to play
opposite,—I think that’s the word,—to a matinée idol whose profile is
Grecian, though his accent is Broadway.  You must come and see us."

"I should love to," said York.  His interest in pastorals was
infinitesimal, but his desire to be included in one of Mrs. Vanderdyke’s
house-parties was as keen as that of any woman whose whole life is
devoted to the difficult gymnastic feat of climbing into society. "When
d’you begin rehearsing?"

"The day after to-morrow.  The people who are at home at present
scattered to-day and the new lot, or many of them, will probably go by
train on Wednesday. Pelham Franklin is to be there.  D’you know him?"

"Very slightly," said York.  "He lives in the twin studio to this, on
the other side, but as he is mostly away, either in Europe or big game
hunting, there has been very little opportunity for us to meet.  I
caught sight of him just now leaving the house.  He’s a good-looking
fellow, isn’t he?"

"Is he?  Yes, I suppose he is.  I’ve met him once or twice and danced
with him, but it struck me that he needed some sort of crisis in his
life to shake him into becoming a man.  At present he’s a sort of
undergraduate, skimming through life with his feet above the earth.  I
believe mother entertains secret hopes that he’ll one day ask me to
marry him."  She laughed.  "I hear her talking about the union of the
two families as though they were the only two families in the world.
Aunt Honoria is all in favor of it, too.  The question of my marriage
seems to affect them as though I were the daughter of King George or
someone.  Who would suppose that we live in a democracy?  It’s a joke,
isn’t it?  Probably I shall run away with a good-looking chauffeur with
kinky hair, regular teeth, a straight nose and a vocabulary which would
put even George Ade to shame. Or, I may fall in love with the matinée
idol and fly off with him in a motor-car at midnight, and so be in the
fashion.  My romantic-minded companion, Mrs. Lester Keene, who lives on
novels, cherishes the idea that I’m going to elope with you."

"My God!" cried York.  "If only such a thing could come true!"

The passion in the man’s voice, the sudden flame in his eyes and the
sort of picturesque hunger which suddenly pervaded him filled the girl
with interest.  She had always regarded him as a sort of Shaw play,—a
mixture of easy cynicism, self-conscious cleverness and an obvious pose.
She had been leading a quiet life since the season in town had ended,
riding and playing tennis and swimming in the pool.  She had had no
opportunity of trying her powers upon any man who had been worth while.
Her parents’ friends were all rather pompous, responsible people who
talked politics gravely and whose wealth had taken the sting of joy and
effort out of life.  It was good to be able to play with fire again.  It
exercised her wits.  So she seized the opportunity of leading on this
handsome person with whom so many married women had been in love, to see
what he would do.

"Is that how you feel?" she asked, instinctively going into the light so
that her slim triumphant beauty and bewitching youth should be in full
challenging view.

York lost his head.  His inherent conceit led him to believe that there
was encouragement in the girl’s voice and attitude.  "You know it is.
You know that ever since you came here to sit for me, from the very
first instant that I caught sight of you I’ve been drunk with love.
You’ve revolutionized my life—almost ruined me as painter—because to
paint any other woman is sacrilege."  He caught her hands and kissed
them hotly.

It was all very well done.  His words carried most amazing sincerity.
His attitude was extremely graceful, and his simulated passion lent a
temporary youthfulness to his face and tall, tightly compressed figure.
He managed to look the complete lover.  The stage had lost a great actor
in him.

Beatrix rescued her hands and stood up very straight.  This transpontine
outburst was foolish. She had merely hoped for a witty passage of arms.
"My dear Mr. York," she said, "you and I are very good friends.  Please
don’t run away with the idea that I’m a young married woman in search of
adventure."

York was angry.  He knew that he had made a fool of himself.  He hated
to look a fool at any time and he was not sufficiently master of himself
to recover his ground by making a well-turned apology. "Women don’t come
here to be friends," he said thickly.  "They certainly don’t come alone
at this time of night to talk ethics.  You’ve no right to snub me—to
lead me on and then cover me with ice-cold water.  I’m not the man to
stand that sort of thing."

"Your cigarettes are very nice," said Beatrix. "May I have another?"

He held out the box and struck a match.  He stood so close to the girl
that the fragrance of her hair and the gleam of her white flesh went to
his brain.  All the sensuality of the man was churned up and stirred and
his veneer fell from him like dry plaster.  He really did forget for the
moment that she was the daughter of one of America’s richest men and was
not simply the most exquisite young thing that he had ever seen during
his long career.  He bent down and put his lips on her shoulder, with a
hoarse, inarticulate murmur.  He had always been very successful in his
love-making.  The type of woman with whom he came most in contact
couldn’t resist the primeval.  He must have imagined that this unbridled
and daring outbreak would carry the girl off her feet.  It had happened
before.

He was mistaken.  Beatrix was as completely mistress of herself as
though she were talking to a hairdresser.

"That’s a pity," she said.  "I’m afraid it puts an end to my coming
here.  I’m sorry, because I liked the atmosphere of your studio and it
broke the monotony of my gilded exclusiveness to indulge in this sort of
mild Bohemianism, although I thought that you were clever.  Will you
please let me have my wrap?"

"Do you mean that?"

"Yes."

York obeyed.  He saw that he had completely spoiled his very remote
chance.  Also it was obvious that his name would not now be included
among Mrs. Vanderdyke’s list of guests.  "You fool!" he said to himself.
"You damned infernal fool.  This girl’s an aristocrat—an autocrat—a
hot-house plant. You’ve treated her like the wife of a Wall Street
broker from the Middle West."  He put the wrap about the girl’s
shoulders and stood back endeavoring to assume a dignity that he did not
feel.

That kiss on her shoulder was like the touch of a slug on the petal of a
rose.  Beatrix resented it from the bottom of her soul, but her
training, her breeding and her inherent pluck gave her the power to hide
her feelings and maintain an air of undisturbed indifference.  Her
knowledge of men, already great, made her very well aware of the fact
that the least show of temper might bring about a most unpleasant
scuffle. She dropped her cigarette into a silver bowl.  "I shall look
forward to seeing your panels in the new theatre with great interest,"
she said.  "Will you come down with me to the car?"

Realizing that he was no match for this young privileged person and
cowed by her superbly unconscious sense of quality, York led the way
across his elaborate studio in which suits of armor gleamed dully and
massive pieces of oak reflected the light, to the door. He rang the bell
of the elevator and stood silently waiting for it to come up.  Nothing
else was said, except by Beatrix, who gave him the one cool word
"Good-bye," as he shut the door of the limousine.

York’s man-servant, of whom he was so inordinately proud, had gone to
bed.  Otherwise, he would have been astonished to hear the sound of
smashing china.  The portrait painter took it out on a Dresden bowl
which, in his impotent rage, he dashed with a characteristically coarse
oath to the polished floor of the room in which most of his love
episodes had ended with peculiar success.



                                  *II*


The Vanderdyke house on Fifth Avenue faced the Park.

It aroused the admiration of most people not because it was an accurate
reproduction of the famous De la Rochefoucauld mansion in Paris, but
because on one side of it enough space upon which to build a high
apartment house was given up to a stilted garden behind a high
arrangement of wrought iron.  It did not require a trained real-estate
mind to know how valuable was such "waste" ground.

The suite of rooms belonging to Beatrix overlooked this large, square
patch, with its well-nursed lawn, its elaborate stonework and its
particular sparrows.  In the spring, what appeared to be the same tulips
suddenly and regularly appeared, standing erect in exact circles, and
lilacs broke into almost regal bloom every year about the time that the
family left town.  A line of balloon-shaped bay trees always stood on
the terrace and, whatever the weather, a nude maiden of mature charms
watched over a marble fountain in an attitude of resentful modesty.

When her windows were open, as they mostly were, Beatrix and her English
companion could hear the pathetic whimpers of the poor caged beasts in
the Zoo in front of the house, and the raucous cries of the
Semitic-looking parrots above the ceaseless cantata of motor traffic.

The morning after her lucky escape from York’s studio, Beatrix slept
late.  Mrs. Lester Keene had breakfasted alone with the _Times_, saving
_Town Topics_ for her final cup of coffee.  She had heard her charge,
whom she made no effort to manage, return comparatively early the night
before, and could hardly contain her curiosity to know what had
happened.  It was obvious that something had taken place, because, as a
rule, Beatrix came back anywhere between one and two from her visits to
the portrait painter.  From a sense of duty and a fear of losing her
comfortable position, Mrs. Lester Keene forced herself to remain awake
on these occasions, sitting over a novel in a Jaeger dressing-gown or
writing a long, rambling letter to a friend in London, in which, with
tearful pride in her former independence, she wallowed in reminiscence.

Mrs. Lester Keene was the widow of a man of excellent family who had
devoted all the best years of his life to the easy and too-well-paid
pursuit of winding and unwinding "red tape" in a government office in
London.  He had died of it before he could retire to a stucco house at
Brighton on a pension, and Amelia Keene had found herself in the tragic
position of being alone in the world in the middle forties with nothing
to bless herself with but an aged pomeranian, her undisputed
respectability and the small sum paid to her on her husband’s life
policy.  This, with the laudable and optimistic idea of placing herself
forever out of the reach of the lean hand of penury, she had entrusted
to the care of a glib city shark whom she had met in a boarding-house
and who guaranteed that he would get her in on the ground floor of a new
company exploiting the Eldorado Copper Mine and bring her in a regular
three hundred and fifty-five per cent. on her capital.  With this neat
sum and others, however, the expert philanthropist with the waxed
moustache and white spats paid his first-class fare to the Argentine and
set up a matrimonial bureau for temperamental South Americans.  Poor
Amelia Keene sold her modest jewels and applied for work at the
Employment Agency for Impoverished Gentlewomen, in George Street,
Hanover Square.

It so happened that Mr. and Mrs. Vanderdyke were in London at that time
and in need of a refined companion for their only daughter.  Mrs. Lester
Keene was one of the several dozen applicants and had the great good
fortune to secure the much coveted post owing to the fact that her hair
was grey, her complexion her own and her accent irreproachably
Kensington. As Mrs. Vanderdyke intended to be the only made-up woman in
any of her numerous houses, the other applicants were naturally turned
down.

Like most English people the new companion had never been farther away
from her native land than Boulogne.  She thrilled with excitement,
fright and the spirit of adventure when she joined the Vanderdyke
entourage on board the _Olympic_.  To be five or six days at sea was in
itself an almost unbelievable exploit, full of hidden dangers and
obvious terrors.  The mere thought of shipwreck and the possibility of
floating for days on a raft, in perhaps most unconventional attire,
appalled her.  But the thing that filled her nightly dreams with
phantasmagoria was the knowledge that she was, God and the elements
willing, to live in the United States,—a great wild country in which,
she had been led to believe, men shot each other in the fashionable
restaurants, broncho busters galloped madly along the principal streets
of the big cities and lassoed helpless virgins, murderers in masks held
up trains, black men were hanged to lamp-posts, as a matter of course,
and comic creatures with large feet hammered people on the head with
mallets.  She had arrived at this point of view from several visits to
the moving picture theatres in London, where American films do much to
prejudice untravelled Europeans against the United States.  Her
astonishment when finally she arrived in New York and found herself in
what she described to her friends at home as the Vanderdyke Palace, was
almost childish.

In no sense of the word was she a companion to Beatrix.  Her narrow and
insular point of view, her characteristic English method of clinging to
shibboleths and rococo ideas, and her complete and triumphant ignorance
of all fundamental things made her, to Beatrix, more of a curiosity,
like an early Victorian stuffed canary in a glass case, than a useful
and helpful person.  Beatrix had been born sophisticated.  As a child
and a young girl her arresting and palpable beauty had made her an
irresistible mark for boys and young men, and one or two only of her
early episodes, nearly all of which began well enough but ended in
sometimes very rough attempts at seduction, would have crowded out of
Mrs. Lester Keene’s whole humdrum, drone-like life every incident that
she could recall.  Beatrix at once became her companion’s guide,
philosopher, friend and guardian, and derived constant amusement from
the little garrulous, plump, hen-like woman, who knew no more about life
than the average dramatist knows about people, and who, though
completely dazzled by the hard, almost casual magnificence of her
present surroundings, delighted to live in the past, telling long and
pointless stories of "my house in Clanricarde Gardens, you know," "Mrs.
Billings, my cook," "The summer when Algernon and I took the Edward
Jones’s house at Bognor," "My drawing-room was always crowded every
second and fourth Thursday, quite a Salon, in fact," and so on, in a
glorification of the commonplace that was as pathetic as it was
tiresome.

Before Mrs. Keene had waded through the first few pages of her favorite
weekly paper, a maid disturbed her.  "Miss Vanderdyke would be glad to
see you," she said, conveying the kindly but nevertheless royal command
with full appreciation.

Mrs. Lester Keene was glad to obey.  Even if dear Beatrix had nothing
exciting to tell her, she had a very curious piece of news to impart to
dear Beatrix.  So she gathered herself together, rather in the same way
as her prototype, the barnyard hen rising from a bath of sun-baked
earth, and made her way along a wide passage hung with the priceless old
prints which had overflowed from the lower rooms, to the bedroom of the
daughter of the house.

Beatrix was sitting on the edge of a four-post bed, in a pink,
transparent nightgown, her little feet in heelless slippers.  On a table
at her elbow there was a just placed breakfast tray and a new copy of
_Town and Country_.  Fresh from sleep, with her fair hair all about her
shoulders, Beatrix, the one alive and exquisite thing in that too-large,
too-lofty, pompous room, looked like a single rosebud in a geometrically
designed garden.

"Come along, Brownie," she said, stretching herself with catlike grace,
"and talk to me while I feed."

"You’ll put something on, dear, won’t you?"

"No, dear Brownie, I won’t.  No one can spy into the room and there
isn’t a single portrait of a man on the walls.  So please don’t fuss.
It’s far too hot for a dressing-gown and in my case why should I hide my
charms from you?"  She laughed at her wholly justified conceit, gave
herself a very friendly nod in a pier-glass in the distance and poured
out a cup of coffee.

Amelia Keene could never at any time, even in her isolated spinster days
in the heart of the country, have brought herself to wear such an excuse
for a nightgown.  Flannel was her wear.  She was, as usual, more than a
little uneasy at the all-conquering individualism and supreme
naturalness of the girl to whom she utterly subjected herself.  With the
slightest shrug of her shoulders,—she dared to do nothing further,—she
put the dressing-gown that she had offered back in its place, and sat
down.  At any rate she could assure herself that she had endeavored to
do her duty.

"You came in earlier than I expected last night, dear," she said,
throwing the obvious bait of her insatiable curiosity.

Beatrix laughed again.  "Why don’t you say that you’re dying to know
what happened and lay awake all night making up exciting stories,
Brownie?"

Mrs. Keene almost succeeded in looking dignified. "You know that I’m
very, very much against these late visits to bachelor rooms," she said,
"and have always done my best to dissuade you from making them.
Therefore I can truly say that I’m far from being curious and am unable
to feel any sort of excitement."

Beatrix bent forward and touched her companion’s cheek with an
affectionate hand.  "Good for you, dear old wise-acre.  _You’ll_ never
have to take any blame for my blazing indiscretions, so don’t worry, and
as you don’t feel any interest in my adventures I won’t bother you with
them."

Keen disappointment took the place of dignity.  "I hope the time will
never come," said Mrs. Keene, "when you’ll cease to make me your
confidante, dear."

Feeling that she had teased the little, naïve, narrow-minded,
well-meaning and very human woman enough, Beatrix finished her coffee
and lit a cigarette.  "Last night, Sutherland York dropped his pose,"
she said. "I hadn’t ever taken the trouble to analyze the reason why I
went to his studio, but thinking it over now I see that it was because I
knew that sooner or later his assumption of super-refined Bohemianism
would break down and I wanted to be there to see the smash. Well, dear
Brownie, I saw it.  I also heard it and, to go into the exact details, I
felt it,—on my shoulder." She put her right hand on the spot as though
the touch of his sensual lips still stung her.

Amelia Keene gasped.  "You don’t mean that he kissed——"

"Yes, I do.  Just here.  I think of consulting a specialist on the
matter."

"_My dear!_"

Beatrix got up, walked across the wide room and stood in front of the
pier-glass.  Through her thin, clinging nightgown she could see the
lines of her slim, lithe, deliciously young form.  For a moment she
stood in frank and open admiration of it.  She had a keenly appreciative
eye for beautiful things.  Then she walked about the room, like a young
Diana, her heels rapping as she went.  "It wasn’t so amusing as I hoped
it might be," she added.  "Scratch a gentleman and you find the man.
Break the veneer of a cad and you discover the beast.  D’you think that
Pond’s Extract is strong enough to cleanse the spot?"

"He dared to kiss _you!_——  I can hardly believe it."  Mrs. Keene looked
like a pricked balloon.  "Surely you’ll never go near him again now."

"Only if I can get a policeman to go with me, or an inspector of
nuisances.  Brownie, dear, my occasional evenings with art and old armor
are over.  I must find some other excuse for breaking all the rules that
hedge round the life of an ex-débutante."

"Thank Heaven!" said Mrs. Keene.  "I’ve only seen that man once and he
reminded me of a person who used to go down the area of my London house
and try and persuade the maids to buy imitation jewelry on the
instalment plan."

Beatrix burst into a ripple of laughter.  "Well done, Brownie.  That’s
perfect,—perfect."  But again her hand went up to her shoulder.

And then the hen-like lady gathered her scattered wits together and came
up to her own little surprise. "It’s quite time that episode is at an
end, my dear," she said.  "Only about ten minutes after you drove away
last night,—I was having a sandwich and a glass of port wine before
going to my room,—your Aunt Honoria bore down upon me.  May I say that
without giving offense?"

Beatrix drew up short.  "Aunt Honoria!"

"Yes; she came straight up to these apartments, looking more like a
beautiful eagle than ever,—my heart fell straight into my boots,—and
asked, or rather demanded to see you."

"Aunt Honoria!  But yesterday she was staying with the Mordens at
Morristown."

Mrs. Keene was delighted to find that she held a full hand.  "I said
that you were out.  My dear, she didn’t take my word for it.  She
marched, or rather sailed along the passage to your room and stabbed
your empty bed with her long, thin fingers. Of course I followed.  Then
she turned to me and said: ’Where is she?’  I’m sure she didn’t add
’woman,’ but she as good as did.  She always does. I was terrified.  I
felt like a shop-lifter before the Lord Chief Justice.  She always
reminds me of a great legal dignitary with her snow-white hair and
aquiline nose and the cold, direct gaze."

"Thank you, Brownie, dear, for your very charming literary touch, but
please go on."  Beatrix was really interested and curious.  Her Aunt
Honoria Vanderdyke, the outstanding figure in New York’s most exclusive
society, at whose entrance into her box at the opera the whole house
very nearly rose to its feet, did nothing without a very strong motive.

"I tried to tell a lie—I did indeed—but somehow it stuck in my throat.
Under those two mind-searching eyes I _had_ to say that you had driven
away with Mr. Sutherland York."

"Well, this is interesting!"

"’Ah!’ she said.  ’Indeed!  And how often has Miss Vanderdyke stained
herself with the paint of that mountebank?’  ’I really do not know,’ I
replied. ’Thank you,’ she said.  ’That will do,’ and went, or rather
floated out of your bedroom and along the passage.  I watched her from
the gallery as she went down-stairs and through the door and away.  A
wonderful woman!  If only Queen Elizabeth had been a lady she might have
looked like her.  I honestly confess, my dear——"

Beatrix held up one pink-nailed finger.  "Brownie," she said, "I feel in
my bones that there is going to be a row in the family.  I’ve been seen
going into York’s studio, Aunt Honoria has been informed!  She heard
that I had come to town,—came to spy——"

"Oh, not spy, dear.  She could never spy!"

"No, that’s true.  Inquire first hand, then,—and has now gone home to——"

The telephone bell rang.  Beatrix’s eyes gleamed with fun and a sort of
impish amusement.  "Brownie, I’ll bet you any money you like that that’s
mother!"

Mrs. Keene rose.  "Oh, no, my dear.  Why should it be?  It’s the
dressmaker, of course."  All the same she hesitated apprehensively.

"Well, I’ll bet you.  The row is simmering."

Mrs. Keene nearly dropped the receiver.  "It is your mother," she said.
"She asks for you.  And, oh dear me, how icy her voice is!"

Before going to the telephone, Beatrix lit another cigarette, gave a
tilt to a comfortable arm-chair that stood near the little table, sat
down, crossed one round leg over the other in a most leisurely way and
took up the instrument.  She looked like a water-color by Van Beers come
to life.

"Good morning, Mamma!  How sweet of you to call me up—I shall be glad to
get away from the glare of the streets and reek of gasoline, but I can’t
leave until to-morrow.  I must try on my costume twice before then—I’m
very sorry, Mamma, darling, but—Well, give father my love and tell him
that he simply must curb his impatience to see me, because it’s
absolutely necessary—Aunt Honoria!  Is Aunt Honoria there?"  She shot a
wink at Amelia Keene, who stood in an attitude of piteous trepidation.
"My very best love to Aunt Honoria.  But it will be impossible for me to
leave town at once.  Well, then, expect to see me at tea to-morrow.  Au
revoir, Mamma. I wish I could stay for a longer chat, but I’m just on my
way out, with so much to do."

She rang off and burst out laughing.  "A very good thing you were not
betting, Brownie."

"Did Mrs. Vanderdyke sound——?"

"Angry?  Yes, in a white heat.  Every word was like a grain of Cayenne
pepper."

"And is it about last night?"

"Yes, obviously, and probably the others.  There has been a family
council, that’s easy to guess. Scandal has been at work.  Isn’t it
absurd?"

"Oh, dear!  Oh, dear!" cried Mrs. Keene, who dreaded disturbances, would
do anything in her power to keep trouble away from her charge, to whom
she was genuinely attached, and saw starvation facing her if she were to
lose her position.  "How very unfortunate and distressing all this is!
And, oh, my dear, how _could_ you talk to your mother like that?"

"My dear good Brownie," said Beatrix, tipping off the end of her
cigarette, "what’s the use of belonging to this generation if I can’t
keep my parents in their place?"

She was just the least little bit disappointed that her companion failed
to catch her touch of satirical humor.



                                 *III*


At the moment when her maid was getting a bath ready for Beatrix and was
waiting in a white marble room filled with the pleasant aroma of scented
bath salts, Pelham Franklin wandered into the dining room of his studio
apartment with his friend, Malcolm Fraser.  Both men were in pajamas,
and even then welcomed the occasional soft puff of air that came through
the open window.  Another hot day had fallen upon the city and a
blistering sun was already high in a cloudless sky.

The dining room, like the studio and the passages, was filled with
antlered heads and stuffed tarpon, and the skins of bear and tiger and
wild-cat.  There was something finely and healthily inartistic about the
whole place, which more nearly resembled the work-rooms of a naturalist
than anything else.  The same note was struck by Franklin, who, with his
broad shoulders and deep chest, his six feet of wiry body and small
head, was obviously nothing but a man and not one who had ever been
accused of being handsome either.  He shuddered at the word except when
it was applied to the royal mate of a fallow deer.  All the same, he
caught all discriminating eyes for the shortness of his thick, dark
hair, the cleanness and humor of his grey, deep-set eyes, the rather
aggressive squareness of his jaw, the small, soldierly moustache that
covered a short upper lip and the strong, white teeth that gleamed
beneath it when he laughed or was very angry.  He had the look, too, of
a man who mostly sleeps out under the sky, and the sun-baked skin of one
who is not chained to a city or doomed to the petty slavery of the
social push.

"This damned city," he said.  "This time eight days ago we were well out
to sea.  If I hadn’t been ass enough to put the yacht back for another
stock of tobacco the mail would have waited and grown stale. Rotten bad
luck, eh?"

Fraser grinned ironically.  "If it was a question of my having to chuck
a few fish and give up two or three weeks of the open sea to come to the
city to see about adding a million or two to my capital, d’you think I’d
grumble?"

"But you’re such a mercenary brute.  You think of nothing but money."

"Yes, and the only reason you’re not mercenary is that you don’t have to
think about it.  Thanks, I’ll have a sausage.  What are you going to do
to-day?"

Franklin groaned.  "Sign deeds and things most of the morning at the
lawyer’s, having tried to make out what the devil they mean, and after
lunch I’m going to buy a Rolls Royce.  Say why?"

"I was going to say why."

"Well, I say why not?"

"But you’ve got five cars already.  You don’t want another."

"My dear chap, don’t rub it in.  I can’t help being one of those unlucky
beggars who’s got so much, through no fault of his own, that he doesn’t
want anything else.  Don’t heave bricks at me when I wake up with a mild
desire for something I don’t need. Encourage me.  Help me to work up an
interest in an expensive toy.  Tempt me into getting rid of some of my
superfluous cash.  It helps some other feller, y’know, and anyway the
only thing I’ve never done is to desire a Rolls Royce, and I dreamt
about it all night.  Will you come and let me see if I can break your
neck?"

"All right!  A good way of getting it in shape for to-morrow.  You’ll
drive out to Greenwich, won’t you?"

Franklin looked up quickly from the plate which had been occupying his
close attention.  "Greenwich? Why Greenwich?"

Fraser grinned again.  He seemed to find a lot of grim amusement in
Franklin.  "You read me a telegram that you sent off from the yacht
accepting Mrs. Vanderdyke’s invitation for the Pastoral house-party."

"Oh, my God, yes!"

"But perhaps you’ll have to undergo a slight operation or sit by the
bedside of a sick relative, or something."

"No; I shall go.  I promised Ida Larpent I’d meet her there."

"Oh!" said Fraser, dryly.  "I see."  He hoped to draw further details.

But Franklin let it go.  There were so many far more vital things to
talk about than women.

"By Jove!" said Fraser, going off at a tangent. "I envy you this
house-party.  You’ll be able to talk to Beatrix."

"Well, that won’t worry me much."  Franklin had passed from sausages to
Virginia ham and was still going strong.

"Maybe not.  Your attention is occupied.  It would worry me a whole lot,
though.  That girl has a strange effect on me.  Always has, ever since I
met her.  That was before she left this country to be put to school in
England.  I only have to catch her eyes to begin to tremble at the
knees.  Ever had that queer sensation?"

"Twice," said Franklin, taking another cup of coffee.

"Who were they?"

"One was a tiger in the Indian bush, and the other a crazy Chinaman
running amuck in San Francisco. They both made my knees waggle."

Fraser lit a cigarette, inhaled a mouthful of smoke and let it dribble
through his nostrils.  The first cigarette is worth going through
breakfast to achieve. "Well," he said, without any of the
self-consciousness that generally goes with the pulling down of the
fourth wall, "I don’t mind telling you, Pel, old man, but I’d give ten
years of my life to marry Beatrix Vanderdyke."

"An expensive hobby," said Franklin.

"Yes, quite.  But I knew her when she was a little bit of a slip of a
thing, before she realized what it meant to bear that dollar-weighted
name.  She was the sweetest kid I ever saw.  She might have been left
behind by the fairies.  I watched the gradual change take place in her
and the disastrous effect of governesses who licked the blacking off her
boots and the army of servants who treated her as though she were the
First National Bank come to life.  I was one of the people, almost
unnoticed, who stood on the pier and watched her sail for England with
her mother and father and their retinue.  Since her return and during
the time that she was a débutante and every newspaper in the country
knelt at her feet I have met her perhaps a dozen times—the opera, the
horse show, the races, and so on.  She has given me two fingers and half
a smile.  She has been utterly and absolutely spoiled.  She doesn’t seem
to be even distantly related to the little girl with the fairy face with
whom I used to play in the country.  And that’s why I should like to
marry her, and would make a huge sacrifice to do it.  You may laugh and
call me all sorts of a fool, but I should like to make it my business to
chip off the outer layer of artificiality and affectation which has been
plastered all over by her training and atmosphere.  I would willingly
die in hefty middle-age in order to bring back into that girl’s eyes
once more the look that she used to have as a child, so help me God!"

With extreme surprise Franklin watched his usually unemotional friend
get up and walk over to the window.  His voice had shaken with deep
feeling and there was a sincerity so profound in the sudden disclosure
of his soul that it put him outside the region of chaff.  And so
Franklin left him alone and swallowed the badinage which he had intended
to throw at him.  "Ye gods!" he thought.  "I wonder if I shall ever meet
a woman who will make me think such things as that, or go the eighth of
an inch out of my way.  I rather wish I could."  He possessed enough
humor and imagination to know that he was not unlike the girl under
discussion; that he, like her, had been born in surroundings that were
peculiarly artificial and altogether unlike those of the average man;
that the enormous wealth to which he had succeeded made any sort of
effort unnecessary, and left him without the urgent incentive for the
good and glorious grapple for a place in the sun, which made most of his
countrymen prove themselves and their worth.

He led the way into the studio where all that his life could show hung
on the walls.  Each head and each stuffed fish and every one of the
skins had its interest, but as he looked round the huge room he told
himself that they all came to very little and proved that he was a fine
example of a man who had done nothing but play games.  His toys were
very empty and meaningless.  A new and curious impatience with himself
came over him.  He was rather annoyed with Fraser for having shown him
the quivering nerve of his hitherto hidden sincerity.  "My God!" he
thought.  "I wonder when I shall begin to live!"



                                  *IV*


It was twelve o’clock before Beatrix left the house with Mrs. Lester
Keene and walked down to Fifty-seventh Street.  To the relief of the
gasping city, a phalanx of dark clouds had put out the sun.  A storm
which had burst with great violence over Westchester County was bearing
slowly down.  The air was heavy and windless, and the gasoline vapor
from all motor traffic hung like an oily veil everywhere.  The seats in
the Park were filled with listless people.  Men sat on the tops of
busses with their coats off.  The very trees looked tired and sapless.

"I wonder how soon we shall get the storm," said Beatrix.

Mrs. Keene fanned herself with an envelope.  "The sooner the better.
This heat is unbearable.  Don’t you think, dear, that you can leave town
to-night? I’m longing to get back to the country."

Beatrix crossed the street.  The only cool figure in the city was that
of the rather too plump young woman who stood naked and unashamed over
the fountain in the geometrical open space in front of the Plaza.  "Oh,
yes, I could, of course," she said, "but if you can put up with another
night here, I won’t.  I’m not going to allow mother and father and Aunt
Honoria to imagine that I’m awed by them—that would be weak.  For the
sake of the whole of the younger generation I must maintain my attitude
of complete independence."  She glanced at the line of automobiles which
were drawn up outside the famous shop in Fifty-seventh Street.  "The
Dames from Virginia seem to be keeping Raoul fairly busy.  I rather hope
that Tubby will be here to-day.  She is such fun."

"Tubby" was the nickname which had been given to the astute woman who
had started her dressmaking business in London and extended it to New
York,—a woman who had married an Italian Count and who, with consummate
art and the assistance of an imaginative press agent, ran herself as
though she were an actor-manager and her shops as though they were
theatres.  By charging enormous prices and calling her frocks by
poetical names she had bluffed the gullible public into believing that
she was the last word—the very acme of fashion.  Like most charlatans
who succeed, she had grown to believe that she was what she said she
was,—an artist who had been sent into the world not for the purpose of
making money or any such vulgar and banal proceeding, but in order to
design coverings for female forms which would leave as much of them as
possible open to the gaze without causing the arrest of the wearer.

At the first sight of Beatrix there was a stir and a rustle among a
collection of tall, willowy and rather insolent young women who were
lolling about, and a whisper of "Miss Vanderdyke" was passed from one to
the other.  Tubby’s deputy wabbled forward,—herself a lady of very
generous proportions who shone, like a fat seal, in very shiny satin.
"Oh, good morning, Miss Vanderdyke!" she said, deferentially. "Your
costume is well advanced.  Will you be good enough to step upstairs?"

Beatrix nodded.  "Is Tubby here to-day?" she asked.

The seal-like lady looked as though she had received a prod from a sharp
fork.  "No," she said, "the Countess is feeling the strain of an even
more than usually busy season.  She is undergoing a rest cure.  As you
know, she’s very high-strung."

"I’m sorry," said Beatrix.

Followed by Mrs. Keene, she went up a wide staircase painted white and
arrived at what Tubby invariably called the "atelier," on the first
floor.  Here the Southerners, to whom Beatrix had referred, were
undergoing the apparently exciting process of being tried on.  There
were perhaps a dozen women in the large airy room, and each one was
surrounded by fitters sticking pins into various parts of them and
paying no sort of attention to the suggestions or the protests of their
victims.

A very special girl came forward with the Shakesperian costume that was
being carried out, or "created," as Tubby would say, for Beatrix.  It
was a sort of Titania costume, white, loose and airy, with a shimmer
here and there of silver, which could very easily have been made at home
for a mere nothing. The special girl, with a quiet "If you will allow
me," unhooked Beatrix’s frock, murmuring one or two well-turned
compliments as to her figure, and helped her into the robe that was to
cause a sensation in the Queen Anne gardens of the Vanderdyke country
house.

Utterly unconscious of the other women in the room, Beatrix swept up to
the astonished Mrs. Keene, and in a high clear voice, cried out: "Set
your heart at rest; the fairy land buys not the child of me.  His mother
was a votaress of my order; and in the spiced Indian air, by night, full
often hath she gossip’d by my side; and sat with me on Neptune’s yellow
sands, marking the embarked traders on the flood; when we have laugh’d
to see the sails conceive and grow big-bellied with the wanton wind——"

"Oh, my dear!" cried Mrs. Keene.  "Do you remember that there are people
present.  That may be Shakespeare, but really his choice of words is
very shocking."

Beatrix burst out laughing.  "You should have waited for the next few
lines, Brownie.  Even _I_ am going to blush when I spout them under the
trees. Yes," she said to the girl, "I think this costume will do quite
well.  Don’t forget to let me have a wand. The wreath I’ll make myself
of real flowers.  Shall I have to come again?"

"No, Miss Vanderdyke, there’s nothing to do now except the silver belt,
and we needn’t trouble you as to that."

"Well," said Beatrix, "I shall leave town to-morrow directly after
lunch.  Be sure you send the dress round to my house in good time.
Thank you.  Good morning."

Mrs. Keene gave a little cry.  "Oh, you’ve forgotten to put on your
frock, dear," she said.

"Have I?  It’s so hot it didn’t seem necessary."

Beatrix came back.  She had already arrived half-way towards the
staircase in what was a most bewitching undress.  She never could resist
the temptation of putting Mrs. Keene on tenter-hooks.  She stepped into
her frock and submitted to being hooked up.  She noticed that the girl
who had tried her on looked very pale and tired.  "Aren’t you going
away?" she asked.

A rather wan smile passed over the girl’s pretty face.  "No, Miss
Vanderdyke, not this year."

"What, you aren’t going to take any holiday at all?"

The girl shook her head.  "My mother has been very ill, and doctor’s
bills——"

"I’m so sorry," said Beatrix.  "What’s your name?"

"Mary Nicholson."

Beatrix went over to Mrs. Keene, who was examining a Paris model between
the windows.  She opened a bag which hung on the elderly lady’s arm and
took out a cheque-book.  Armed with this she made her way over to a
desk, sat down and wrote a cheque for five hundred dollars, payable to
the girl whom she had seen constantly on duty since the previous
October.  This she slipped into an envelope and wrote on it, "Please
take a little holiday to oblige me?"  And having returned the
cheque-book to the ample bag in which Mrs. Keene kept enough necessities
to provide against shipwreck or other likely accidents, slipped the
envelope into the girl’s hand and said "Good-bye.  Let me know about
your mother."

On the way down stairs the first crash of thunder broke over the city
and heavy rain beat against the window.  "We shall have to drive home,"
said Beatrix. "Will you ask them to call up a taxi?"

Her ladyship’s deputy came forward.  "I hope you found the costume to
your liking, Miss Vanderdyke."

"Oh, yes," said Beatrix.  "It’ll do very well.  I shall have to be very
careful how I’m photographed, because if I stand against the light
there’ll be very little left to the imagination."

"This’s an artistic age," replied Madame, with a sly smile.

Beatrix joined her companion under the shop’s awning, from the corners
of which the rain came down in long streams.  The uniformed man, with
"Raoul" on his hat, was making frantic endeavors to obtain a cab, but
without success.  The line of taxis outside the Great Northern Hotel had
been taken.

"I’m afraid we shall have to wait," said Mrs. Keene.

"I don’t mind the rain," said Beatrix.  "Let’s walk."

"I’d so much rather not, dear," said Mrs. Keene. "Getting wet always
brings on my rheumatism, and will absolutely spoil my dress.  Have
patience for at least five minutes."

"D’you think I can?" asked Beatrix.  "Five minutes is a long time."

Two men drove by in a new and beautiful limousine. The one who was not
driving turned round and saw the two ladies standing under the awning.
The car slowed down, turned and came smoothly up to Raoul’s. Fraser
jumped out and stood bare-headed in front of Beatrix.

"How d’you do?" he said.  "Pretty bad storm this.  Can we drive you
anywhere?"

"Oh, hello!" said Beatrix.  "I thought it must be you.  Yes, it’ll be
awfully kind of you to give us a lift.  Taxis seem to be at a premium.
Mrs. Lester Keene—Mr. Malcolm Fraser."

"How d’you do," said Mrs. Keene, the thought of rheumatism and a spoiled
dress at the back of her cordiality.  "It is very kind of you to come to
our rescue."

Fraser beamed at Beatrix.  His whole whimsical, sincere and honest
personality paid deference to her loveliness.  "You owe me nothing," he
said.  "I wish you did.  I only happened to see you standing here.  It’s
Franklin’s car."

Beatrix smiled back at him.  He still seemed to her to be the
self-constituted brother—the round-faced serious boy who used to look
after her sled and carry her skates and make himself generally and
generously useful.  "You have a gift for happening to see people when
they need you, Malcolm," she said, and he was amply rewarded.

Franklin got out of the car and came to meet Beatrix as she led the way
under the rain-splashed awning.

"How are we to thank you, Mr. Franklin?"  Beatrix held out a most
gracious hand.  "You come just at the moment when I was going to plough
through all this wet."

"You’d have been soaked to the skin in about a minute," he said.  "It’s
tropical."  He held open the door of the limousine.

He showed a touch of reproof at her impatience which Beatrix was quick
to catch.  She remembered that invariably when she had met him there had
been a suggestion of antagonism in his manner.  For some reason she was
not, she knew, altogether to his liking. It amused her.  "I’ll ride in
front, if I may," she said, with the mischievous intention of seeing
whether he would try to coerce her as he had done once before, "but I’ll
wait until you get in."

He, too, remembered the incident at a dance the year before when he had
told her that she was sitting in a dangerous draught and asked her to
move, and she had declined.  He stood up to her.  This spoiled, wilful
girl needed a master.  He felt an impish desire to prevent her from
getting her own way.  "I’d rather you rode inside," he replied.  "Then
there’ll be no chance of your getting wet."

"Please let me ride in front," said Beatrix, and a bewitching smile and
a little upward look of appeal settled the matter.

Franklin returned to his seat and, when Beatrix was in, made a long arm
over her knees and shut the door with a bang.  "What a girl!" he said to
himself. "As pretty as paint; but, ye gods, how she needs the spurs."

As sick as a dog that Beatrix was not with him, Fraser handed Mrs. Keene
in and yelled, through another crash of thunder: "Go ahead, Pel!"

"Where may I drive you?"

"Anywhere you like," said Beatrix, airily.  "I’ve nothing to do."

The rain was running in streams along the gutters and the day had gone
as dark as though it were late evening.  The sidewalks were deserted and
people who had been caught were huddling under doorways. A clean, fresh
smell had taken the place of stale gasoline.

Franklin was nonplussed.  He looked round and saw the girl’s
delicately-cut profile with its short nose blunted at the tip, its
rather full, red lips and round chin.  She was sitting with her
shoulders back, her head held high, and an air of supreme unconcern.  In
no part of the world, under any sort of sky, under any kind of condition
had he seen a girl so delightful to the eye and so irritating to the
temper.  He and Fraser were on their way home and two men were going to
lunch with them.  It didn’t matter to her whether he were on his way to
a wedding or a funeral. She had nothing to do.

He sent the car forward, turned it into Fifth Avenue and drove up to the
Vanderdyke house.  Its great doors were boarded up and no footman was
ready to spring out with a huge umbrella.

"I’m quite happy," said Beatrix.  "May I sit here until this downpour
relaxes a little?  It’s a very nice car."

Franklin sent out a big laugh.  This young woman took the biscuit.  It
might go on pouring for an hour. But she was quite happy, _she_ had
nothing to do and therefore he must cry a halt to life and its
obligations and engagements and be content, and even thankful, to sit at
her side until such time as it pleased her and the storm to make a move.

"Please sit here as long as you like," he said. "Fraser and I have some
men coming to lunch at one o’clock.  Will you excuse me if we get out
and leave you?"

"Of course," said Beatrix, without allowing him to see the remotest
inkling of the fact that she knew how much he would love to treat her as
though she were an unbroken colt.  "Before you have to go, tell me about
to-morrow.  You’ll drive, I suppose?  I saw your name on mother’s list
for the Pastoral house-party, and she told me that you had agreed to
play a small part."

"Yes, I shall drive," said Franklin, running his eyes over her
curiously, thinking how beautiful she was and how badly she stood in
need of coming up against love or grief.  "Fraser’s an old friend of
yours, it appears," he added, looking at his watch.

"Indeed, yes.  But mother doesn’t know my old friends."

"I see."  He knew that this implied question as to why Fraser was not
included in the house-party was answered.  This girl might have served
as First Secretary to an Ambassador, or have been a leader of society
for twenty years.

Then he opened the door of the car and stood bareheaded in the downpour.
"I hope you won’t be obliged to sit here long," he said.  "I’ll send a
man along to look after the car.  Good-bye."

"Good-bye," said Beatrix, with a perfectly straight face, but laughing
at him with her eyes.  "Thank you so much for rescuing and looking after
two lone females."

"Come on, Malcolm," said Franklin, shortly.

And Fraser, wondering what sort of madness had attacked his friend,
murmured things to the equally amazed elderly lady, bowed to the calm,
slight, alluring figure in the front of the car and went.

Beatrix watched them duck their heads against the slanting rain which
bounced up from the pavement and hurry away.  "I like him for that," she
thought.  "I didn’t think he would do it."  Then she picked up the
speaking tube and called out: "Brownie, so that you sha’n’t get
rheumatism and spoil your dress we’re going to enjoy this shelter until
the rain stops.  And, by the way, I think the house-party’s going to be
fairly interesting after all."



                                  *V*


The Vanderdyke house at Greenwich was built upon a point which jutted
out into the Sound.  It was not merely a house, it was an edifice,—a
great florid, stiff, stone building which might easily have been a town
hall, a public library, a museum, a lunatic asylum or a hospital.  It
had a peculiar green roof and many turrets, and it formed a landmark
which could be seen for miles from all parts of the country.

A long drive through beautifully wooded gardens ablaze with lilac and
rhododendron, and wide lawns bespattered with uncountable groups of
erect tulips did much to soften the angular pomposity of the barrack
which had been built by Beatrix’s grandfather. Stone pergolas covered
with climbing roses on the point of bursting into bloom shot out from
the house and hid the ample stables and garages.  An inspiring and
invigorating view of the Sound caught the eye through the trees.  There
had been a belated spring, after a long and cantankerous winter, but now
tree and shrub vied with one another and the first fresh green of them
all was almost dazzling.  The chestnuts, especially, were prodigal with
bloom and looked like great Christmas trees thickly covered with bunches
of white candles, and everywhere birds sang and went merrily about the
little business of their lives.

The car in which Beatrix and Mrs. Lester Keene drove up was followed
closely by Franklin’s new Rolls Royce, in the body of which all his
baggage was stacked.  Franklin, who had been driving, sprang out and
opened the door of the other car.  "I’ve been dogging your heels," he
said, "and incidentally getting all your dust.  How d’you do?"

"Don’t blame me for the dust," said Beatrix. "Why didn’t you overtake us
and finish the journey in bright conversation with the two grateful and
admiring females to whom you behaved like a knight errant yesterday?
You and I always seem to have a great deal to talk about, don’t we?"

Franklin knew that she was pulling his leg.  Hitherto, during their
occasional meetings, their conversation had been more or less
monosyllabic.  He felt tempted to say that he preferred driving to
talking to women, but held his peace.  There would perhaps be plenty of
opportunities of getting his own back.

They passed a double line of men-servants and went into the large hall
together.  Mrs. Keene gave one quick glance round and, imitating a
rabbit which hears the approach of enemy, scuttled across to the
elaborate staircase and hurried away.  Mrs. Vanderdyke,—a very finished,
rather too tall, insistently slight woman who never raised her voice and
seldom laughed and seemed to be continually watching herself in a mental
looking-glass,—met them.  Her dark hair was dressed as carefully as a
salad.  Her perfectly correct and well-balanced face was as well painted
as the cover of a magazine, and without any undue compression she wore a
white frock which might have been made for a girl of twenty-four.  She
gave her left hand to Beatrix and placed a mere suggestion of a kiss on
her left ear.  "So you’ve come," she said.  Her right hand she gave to
Franklin, to whom she added, "You are very welcome."

"Thanks," said Franklin.  "I’m delighted to be here."

And then Miss Honoria Vanderdyke sailed forward. With her white hair,
thin, thoroughbred face, rather frail, tall figure and old-fashioned
dress she might have stepped out of one of Jane Austen’s books. Without
any attempt to act the part, she looked every inch the great lady and
stood frankly and proudly for all that was best of the generation which
is scoffingly referred to as mid-Victorian.  She, too, gave Beatrix a
perfunctory greeting and the merest peck on the cheek, and turned with
the utmost graciousness to Franklin.  "I’m very glad to see you," she
said. "Your father and I were old friends.  I hope that we may know each
other better."

Franklin bowed over her hand.  In all his travels he had rarely seen a
woman who so well lived up to his ideas of dignity and beauty grown old
gracefully. "Thank you very much," he said.  "You’re very kind."

Then Mr. Vanderdyke made his appearance—the mere husk of a man—uneager,
hypochondriacal, melancholy-looking, grey-headed, with a white moustache
every hair of which seemed to be in a state of utter depression.
Completely ignoring his daughter, he gave a limp hand to Franklin.  "I’m
glad to see you," he said, without any warmth, and then backed away and
began to look at Beatrix with an expression of such pained surprise that
she almost burst out laughing.

Her whole reception by the family proved to her that she was now
regarded by them as the prodigal daughter.  There was obviously going to
be a scene presently.  Well, she didn’t care.  She could hold her own
against all of them.  She almost wished that there was enough in her
relations with Sutherland York to warrant their disturbed feelings.  It
was like eating an egg without salt to proceed into a row without a
cause.

"I dare say that you’d like to go up to your room at once," said Mrs.
Vanderdyke.

Franklin bowed, smiled and followed the footman upstairs.

Through the French windows Beatrix caught sight of a number of people
having tea on one of the terraces.  She made no effort to join them, but
sat on the edge of a long, narrow table with bulbous legs and selected a
magazine.  Beneath her short frock rather more than two delicate ankles
showed themselves. She saw no reason why they shouldn’t, knowing that
they were worth infinite admiration.  Her father irritably acknowledged
that he had never seen her so lovely, so cool, so self-possessed or more
utterly desirable in her first sweet flush of beauty and youth. She
seemed to say: "Come on, all of you, and get it over, and then let there
be peace."

Her challenge was eagerly accepted by her mother, who looked round to
see that the hall was deserted of guests and servants, and closed down
upon Beatrix with more anger in her eyes than the girl had ever before
seen in them.

"I don’t quite know what’s to be done with you," she said.

"I thought it was agreed that I shall play ’Titania,’" replied Beatrix,
glancing up with an air of mild surprise.  "I’ve brought a charming
costume with me."

Aunt Honoria joined in.  "In my opinion the moment is ill-chosen for
this unpleasant business.  It might better have been reserved until our
guests are changing for dinner.  However, there’s every excuse for your
mother’s impatience, Beatrix, and as the matter is one about which we
all feel very deeply it will be well for you to take it seriously."

Beatrix gave a little bow.

"In the history of the family," said Mr. Vanderdyke, with more feeling
than anyone had ever seen him display, "never before has one of its
women been connected with a scandal."

Beatrix laid down the magazine.  "Somebody said that scandal comes from
the mouth of Ananias."  She gave them all the epigram for what it was
worth.

Her mother spoke again.  "Aunt Honoria has had a letter from a friend of
hers telling her that you’ve been seen going into the apartment of a
portrait painter, called Sutherland York, late at night."

"And coming out," added her father.

"I should naturally come out," said Beatrix, smiling at him as though he
had said an unintentionally comic thing.

"It has been reported to me," said Aunt Honoria, "that as often as once
a week during the winter and spring you’ve visited this man alone at
night.  You don’t deny that?"

"Oh, no."

"Good God!" said Mr. Vanderdyke.

"And you don’t deny that you were there last night?"

"The night before last," said Beatrix quietly.

Mrs. Vanderdyke almost raised her voice.  "What you could see in a
flamboyant creature of that type——"

"That isn’t the point," said Aunt Honoria.  "We are not concerned as to
whether Beatrix has developed vulgar tastes and has found this painter
attractive. We are concerned with the fact that for some utterly
inadequate and inexcusable reason, she has surrounded our name with a
net-work of vulgar gossip which, inevitably, will find its way into the
scurrilous paragraphs of the carrion press."

"For the first time in history!" Mr. Vanderdyke almost wailed.

"We’re very jealous of our good name," continued Aunt Honoria.  "We’ve
endeavored to set an example to society.  It’s inconceivable to us that
it should have been left to you, old enough as you are to appreciate the
truth of things, to put a slur upon us and with an obvious disregard for
our reputation the subject of smoke-room gossip.  I don’t think that
even _you_ could make me believe that you’ve played the fool with this
picturesque person, who, I hear, makes professional love to the silly
wives of men with more money than sense.  I can see that you’ve been
merely indulging your latent sense of adventure or trying to persuade
yourself that you’ve been playing the heroine’s part in a romance."

"I wonder," said Mrs. Vanderdyke.

Beatrix gave her a quick look.  The implication of those two words hit
her hard.  But she said nothing, and gave the white-haired lady another
little bow.

"A portrait-painting charlatan!" said Mr. Vanderdyke.

Aunt Honoria paid very little attention to these interruptions.  "That’s
my firm belief.  Please God, I’m justified.  You were asked to return
last night, so that this most unfortunate business might be gone into
quietly.  You exercised the right of modern youth to tell us that we
might go to the devil.  Let me assure you, my dear Beatrix, now that
you’ve chosen to come, that we do not intend to be relegated to that
person, even to oblige you.  On the contrary, the point that has been
gone into during your absence is the place to which we are going to
relegate you."

"I don’t quite understand," said Beatrix.

Her mother put in "probably not," to the peculiar discussion which was
being conducted, on the face of it, as though its subject were
politics,—without outward heat, angry gesture or raised voices, but with
an intensity of feeling that made the air vibrate all round these four
ultra-civilized people.

"And I am very far from well," said Mr. Vanderdyke, with curious
irrelevance.

Beatrix very nearly laughed.  "Dear old Daddy," she said to herself,
"how funny he can be."

"We came to a decision this morning," said Aunt Honoria, "in which I
think you’ll be interested. Your attitude over the telephone on top of
my very inconvenient visit to New York the night before last,—of which,
naturally, your companion told you,—was a pretty conclusive proof that
you’re quite callous of what has been and will be said about you and
that you show no inclination to accept our demands, requests or
pleadings to tone down your supreme individualism to a normal level and
give up playing the ostrich in town.  In short, my dear Beatrix, we
realize that unless we assert our authority this once and make it
impossible for you to get us all into a deeper scandal, you’ll continue
to ’carry on,’—I quote the expression from the language of the servants’
hall,—either with York or some other equally impossible member of the
long-haired brigade."

"I’m old enough to take care of myself, I think," said Beatrix.

"We don’t," said her mother.

"Nor of us and the family reputation," added Aunt Honoria, "which, as
I’ve said already, is the point. You’ll go through with the
pastoral,—that’ll avoid comment,—then you’ll see a doctor and it’ll be
given out that your constitution needs an entire change of air and
scene.  About a week after the present house-party has broken up you’ll
join me on a visit to my cottage in Maine, and there you’ll spend a
quiet, thoughtful year learning how to live from nature, with my devoted
assistance."

Mrs. Vanderdyke punctuated this sentence of banishment with an inaudible
comment.

A sort of groan came from Mr. Vanderdyke.  He adored his only child.

With a supreme effort of will, Beatrix controlled an almost overwhelming
desire to scream at what was, to her way of thinking, a form of
punishment quite barbarian in its severity.  She remained, instead, in
an attitude of polite patience, determining to die rather than to show
how awful the very thought of such an excommunication was to her,  who
was only really happy when in the whirl of town life.  Her inherent
honesty made her confess to herself that, little as she realized it at
the time,—never having stopped in her impetuous desire to go her own way
and carry out her own wishes,—she had laid herself open to every charge
brought against her.  She owned that her indiscretion had been colossal,
and instantly dismissed all idea of giving her family a picture of the
utter harmlessness of her relations with York.  She disliked and
regretted having brought the family name into the mouth of gossipers as
much as the three people who stood over her and knew perfectly well that
they fully intended to carry the punishment out to its bitter end.
But,—and here her fertile mind began to work,—was there a single living
person so foolish as to believe that she was made of the feeble stuff
that knuckled down to the loss of one whole exciting season in town for
the lack of a brain wave?  Had she ever yet, either in the nursery or in
school, so wanted in courage or in wit as not to have been able to carry
out a quick and effective counterstroke against authority?  Not she!

She looked up, avoided the eyes of her father, mother and aunt, and saw
Pelham Franklin in the gallery that ran round the hall.  He was standing
with his hands in his pockets, looking at a portrait of the Vanderdyke
who had come over from Holland to lay the foundations of a great
fortune.  A sudden impish and daring idea took possession of her.  She
would use this man, as she had hitherto used any other likely person, to
triumph over her present quandary, and trust to her invariable good luck
to see her through. It was the legitimate outcome of her autocratic
upbringing, the fact that she had had it instilled into her from
babyhood that she had only to raise her finger to obtain her own way.
Acting, as usual, on impulse and not stopping to give a second’s thought
to the complications that might be caused by it, she turned back to the
three people who stood waiting for her to speak with a very sweet smile,
and the glorious knowledge that she could turn the tables upon them and
become top-dog again.  She was going to fight for that season in town
with all her strength, never mind who paid for her success.

"I’m very sorry about all this," she said, "and I want you to believe
that I had no intention of inspiring unpleasant remarks or putting you
to all this pain. But you’ll be glad to hear that this story about my
visits to Sutherland York is only half true,—like most stories of the
kind.  It hasn’t occurred to you, has it, that more than one man may
live in York’s apartment house and that I may have been going to see
him?"  She saw, with a quicker action of her heart, that Franklin was
coming downstairs.

"It makes no difference whether the man you went to see was York or
another," said Aunt Honoria, in her most incisive way.  "The fact
remains that everyone is talking about your visits to some man, alone at
night."

Franklin caught the words, gave a quick, sympathetic glance at Beatrix,
whom he rather pitied,—he detested family rows,—and drew up to examine
another picture, with well-simulated interest.

Beatrix began to enjoy herself.  A wave of exhilaration swept over her.
She had a surprise in store for her family that would transfer her from
the position of a prodigal daughter to that of a Joan of Arc, a Grace
Darling, a Florence Nightingale.  Never mind who paid!

She raised her voice so that Franklin should hear her.  "I would
willingly and without any argument be sent to the backwoods for a year
if I’d made a fool of myself with a man like Sutherland York.  He was
never anything more to me than a poseur and a freak, and as such he
amused me.  But what will you and all these people with nasty minds say
if I tell you that I had every right to pay midnight visits to the man
who lived in the studio opposite to York’s, and if there is anything
attaching to our name it is not scandal, but romance?"

Franklin wheeled round.  What on earth was the girl trying to suggest to
save her skin?

An amazing change came over the three accusers. They all knew that
Franklin’s rooms were in the same building as York’s,—Franklin, the man
whom they would rather see married into their family than anyone alive.

"W-what d’you mean?" cried Mr. Vanderdyke, stammering in his eagerness.

Mrs. Vanderdyke lost her perfect reserve for once and grasped her
daughter’s arm.  "Tell us!  Tell us!" she cried.

Over Aunt Honoria’s face the beginning of a new understanding came.
"What is this right, Beatrix?" she asked.  "What is it?"

Beatrix came to the jump, rose to it and cleared it at a bound, with
every drop of blood in her lovely body tingling with excitement and a
glorious sense of being alive, being beautiful, being able to carry
everything before her.  She was leaping from one scrape to another, but
in this one she was dealing with a sportsman who would help her somehow.

"The right," she said, throwing up her head, "of a girl who goes to see
the man to whom she has been secretly married."

She rose, and with exquisite shyness and her fair skin touched with the
color that nature paints upon the petals of apple blossoms, went across
to Franklin and ran her hand through his arm.



                                  *VI*


In her relief at being able to put a stop to the ugly story which
coupled the names of Beatrix Vanderdyke and Sutherland York, Aunt
Honoria,—who invariably took the lead in all matters relating to her
family,—not only at once gave out to the house-party the news of the
romantic marriage of her niece and Pelham Franklin, but, with her
characteristic thoroughness, called up the editor of the New York
_Times_ and gave it to him for immediate publication.  In her mind’s eye
she saw the front page of the next day’s issue setting forth under big
headlines, with photographs of the happy couple, an elaborate account of
the wealth and importance of the families of Vanderdyke and Franklin.
This would be taken up and spun out by all the other papers in the
country, and then, she rejoiced to know, would be killed the insidious
scandal with which the family name had been connected to the horror and
pain of all who bore it.

Neither she, nor any of the members of the house party, stopped to ask a
single question.  They had swallowed the story of Beatrix and Sutherland
York whole.  They now swallowed the news of the secret marriage with the
same appetite.  It is the human way. The details mattered nothing.  The
motive which led to so unusual a proceeding as a secret marriage, the
place and date of the ceremony, mattered nothing. They had all believed
without corroboration that Beatrix had fallen a victim to the
picturesque attractions of the much-advertised portrait painter.  In the
same way they accepted the new and much more exciting fact and hastened
to congratulate their hostess and the two young people concerned.

Beatrix found herself, as she knew that she would, the heroine of the
family.  Her mother smiled upon her during the remainder of the day and
frequently placed her usually unemotional hand on her daughter’s
shoulder and said: "My dear, dear child," or "dear Beatrix."

Her father,—that rather pathetic figure, a man who had never done a
stroke of work since his birth—whose immense wealth had utterly deprived
him of the initiative to do things, conquer things or achieve things,
and who found himself in late middle-age without having discovered the
master-secret of life—how to live,—came out of his almost settled
melancholia for the time being and behaved at dinner like any ordinary
healthy, normal man, laughing frequently and cracking little jokes with
his guests..  Whenever he caught his daughter’s eyes he gave her the
most tender and appreciative smile, and came so far out of his shell as
to raise his glass to Franklin, who responded with a very queer smile.

As for Aunt Honoria,—a past-mistress in the art of graciousness,—so
proud and happy was she that her pet ambition of a union between her
family and Franklin’s had been fulfilled, that she readily forgave the
unconventional behavior of the two young people, the lack of a wonderful
wedding and a great society function, and beamed upon them both.  She
caught Beatrix as she was about to dash upstairs to change for dinner
and folded her arms about the girl, whose eyes danced with the spirit of
mischief and the sheer fun of it all.  "My darling," she said, "you’ve
made me very happy.  No wonder you came home to-day defiant and with a
high head.  You held a royal flush.  You’ve won the love of a man, my
dear.  Honor and respect it, and may God bless you!"

Upstairs in her room, whose windows gave a view of the Sound that was
indescribably charming, Beatrix had a brief, almost breathless talk with
Mrs. Lester Keene, to whom the story of the secret marriage had come as
a frightful shock.  This amiable, weak woman, hide-bound in her ideas of
right and wrong, met her with nerves unstrung, and incoherent in her
terror of being implicated in what she knew to be a lie.

But Beatrix waved her stammering reproaches aside. "Brownie," she cried,
at the top of her form, "whatever happens you’re safe, so don’t worry.
I’ve jumped out of the frying-pan into the fire, but I’m an excellent
jumper and I believe in luck.  I dare not think where the next spring
will land me, so I’m not going to think. Sufficient unto the day, you
know, and Franklin is a sportsman.  All I know is that at this moment
I’m the little pet of all the world; that I had the unspeakable delight
of turning the tables on my people and that I feel as beautiful as I
look,—and that’s saying a good deal.  Now run away and tell Helene to
come and dress me as befits a young wife still on her honeymoon."  She
gave the elderly, disturbed lady a kiss on both her cheeks, shooed her
out of the room and broke into song.

Only once during dinner did she permit herself to meet Franklin’s eyes
and then, for the first time since she had sprung her suddenly conceived
surprise upon her irate family, she received a momentary shock which ran
through her body like that of electricity, leaving her tingling and
frightened.  But with her abounding capacity for recovery and her
all-conquering belief in herself and her gift for getting out of scrapes
she shook the feeling off and went through the rest of the evening in
the highest spirits.  No one had ever seen her looking so brilliantly or
so exquisitely beautiful.  Her eyes shone like stars, her dimples came
and went and came again.  She was the life of the house, moving from
group to group like a young Helen—a wood nymph—the very spirit of joy
and laughter.  Not for the ninety-ninth part of a second did she permit
herself to pull up and wonder what she had done; where her impetuous,
hare-brained, autocratic desire for self-preservation might lead. Never
for an instant, or the fraction of an instant, did she give a thought to
the appalling difficult position into which her spur-of-the-moment
scheme had placed Franklin.  What she had done she had done, and there,
for the time being, was the end of it.  Somehow or other everything
would come right, as it always did. Why else was she who she was?  Why
else had she been led to believe that the earth, the sun and the moon
were hers.  It was all the natural correlation of her training since she
had been brought into the world.

Franklin allowed Beatrix to avoid a talk with him until many of the
guests had gone to bed.  Between the moment when she had slipped her arm
through his and made that urgent and almost childlike appeal which had
carried him off his feet and left him without caution and sanity, and
the one when he stalked across the pompous hall to her side and drew her
into an alcove, he had done some peculiar thinking.  He was a
straight-going, honest fellow, who, like Beatrix, had gone through life
having his own way.  No living soul had ever before coerced him from the
path that he had chosen.  He was in no sense of the word a lady’s man,
and he had no idea of marrying and settling down until he had had enough
of hunting and camping.

He had watched Beatrix closely.  He had seen her reinstated into the
family favor, taking the congratulations that were poured upon her by
them and their friends with a charming dignity that took his breath
away.  He guessed, of course, that he had been "used" by Beatrix to save
herself from punishment, because he had been obliged to overhear the
last part of the family attack.  But he expected from moment to moment
that she would either permit him to deny the story of the secret
marriage or do so herself.  It was inconceivable to him that this lie
was to be allowed to get them both deeper and deeper into a most
deplorable tangle.

He was blazing with anger when at last he found her alone for a moment,
and he made no attempt to hide it.  "I want a word with you," he said
shortly.

Beatrix tried to escape.  "A little later," she said.

"No, now."

"I’m so sorry——"

Franklin took her arm and led her into the quiet corner.  "Sit down," he
said.

There was something so new and refreshing in receiving orders, that
Beatrix gave a little laugh and obeyed.

Franklin took a seat at her side.  Their knees almost touched.

"You evidently take me for many kinds of a fool," he said.

"Not at all.  May I trouble you for a cushion?"  She bent slightly
forward.

He placed one behind her back.  "Whether you do or not, you’ve made me
one,—the most colossal example of a damned idiot I’ve ever struck."

"Oh, please don’t say that."

Franklin’s eyes flicked.  This girl could be flippant under such
circumstances, could she?  She could sit knee to knee with an angry man
and remain as self-possessed and undisturbed as though she were resting
between dances.  Well, he would show her with whom she was dealing!

"Before your mother goes to bed," he said, "I’m going to put my foot
through this yarn of yours and give the game away."

"Oh, no," replied Beatrix, "you’ll certainly not do that."

"Why not?"

"Because, in addition to many other attributes, you happen to be a
sportsman."

"But how long d’you imagine I’m to let this thing go on?"

"I haven’t thought about it."

"Don’t you see that you’d better begin to think pretty quickly?"

"No.  Everything is going very well.  Why disturb it?"

"But look at it from my point of view."

"To tell you the truth—I usually do tell the truth—to-day has been the
exception that proves the rule,—I’m only able at present to look at it
from mine."

"You realize that every hour makes the whole thing more impossible.
It’ll all be in the papers to-morrow."

"Isn’t that exciting?  I hope they’ll be able to get an attractive
photograph of you."  Her heart was beating more and more quickly.

Franklin began to pull his short moustache.  He hardly dared to trust to
his choice of words. Yesterday he had told himself that this girl wanted
the spurs.  The thought came back to him as he sat racking his brain for
some way out of the ghastly mess into which she had placed him.  He saw
that it was no earthly use to endeavor to talk sensibly to her and that
she had made up her mind to hold him to the mad plan of escape into
which she had dragged him. Very good.  He would show her that sportsmen
were also very human men.

He raised his finger to a footman who was crossing the hall.  "Have my
things taken at once from my room to Mrs. Franklin’s," he said, and, as
the man bowed and went, put his hand under the elbow of the girl—who had
turned as white as the gardenia at her waist—and added: "Let’s go and
say good night, darling.  It’s time for bed."

Beatrix turned upon him and wrenched her arm away.  "You don’t know what
you’re saying," she said.

"Oh, yes, I do.  You’ve had your way to-day, I’m going to have mine
to-night.  Two can play your game, you know, and I’m going to show you
how completely I can play it when I choose."

He took her hand in a grip of iron and led her to where Mrs. Vanderdyke
was standing with Aunt Honoria.  He looked the loving husband to the
life. "Good night," he said.  "Bee and I are rather tired after an
exciting day."

Mrs. Vanderdyke gave him her hand, with her best smile.  "And to-morrow
we begin rehearsing and shall all be very busy.  Good night."

"You look quite tired, my darling," said Aunt Honoria tenderly.

Beatrix received the kiss, tried to return the smile and to find even
one word to say, but her heart was trembling, and her hand was held so
tight that her fingers were crushed together.  She heard other remarks
as though they were spoken a long way off, felt herself guided and
controlled up the wide stairway as if she were walking in a dream, and
found herself standing in the gallery.

"Which is your room!"

It was not a question.  It was an order, sharp and short.

She pointed to the door, shaking like a frightened deer.

But when she stood inside her room, heard the door shut and locked, and
saw Franklin with his white teeth gleaming under his moustache, her
voice came back and she clasped her hands together in a very ecstasy of
appeal.

"Let me off!  Please, _please_ let me off!"

Franklin shot out a laugh.  "Not I.  You’ve told everybody that you’re
my wife.  Good.  Live up to it."

He took the key out of the lock and put it in his pocket.  Then he sat
down and crossed one leg over the other.  "How long will you be?" he
asked.

This girl needed the spurs.  He intended to use them.



                                 *VII*


The sound of the key turning in the lock of her door had an instant and
peculiar effect on Beatrix.  It awoke in her the same primeval spirit
which had carried Franklin into her bedroom on the wave of an infuriated
impulse.  It made her realize that the time for protest was over; that
the moment when she could appeal (with any hope of success) to this
man’s sense of honor had passed.  It was through her own action, and she
knew it, that she had cracked the skin-deep veneer of civilization and
rendered Franklin the mere savage which most men become under the
influence of one or other of the passions.

Self-preservation was the instinct which was now uppermost in her mind.
Alone, without help, with only her native wit to fall back on, she had
to save herself from the almost unbelievable crisis that she had so
lightly brought about.  She grasped this fact quickly enough.  One look
at Franklin’s face made it plain,—his blazing eyes, his set mouth, the
squareness of his jaw.

It was characteristic of her, however, that while still under the first
shock of his threat, his presence and the knowledge that he intended to
carry out his purpose with all the cold-bloodedness and cruelty which
comes from wounded vanity, the thought of the fight which faced her
filled her with a sort of mental delight.  Here, if you like, was
something new upon which she could bend her whole ingenuity—something
which sent the monotony of her all-too-complete existence flying as
before a cyclone.  Her blood danced.  Her spirits rose.  Her eyes
sparkled like those of the mountaineer who stands at the foot of a
summit which has hitherto been unclimbed.  She gave a little laugh as
all these things flashed through her brain.  She thrilled with the sense
of adventure which had always been latent in her character and which was
the cause of the amazing position in which she now found herself.  Like
a superb young animal brought to bay, she turned to defend herself,
strung up to fight with every atom of her mental and physical strength
for that which counted for more than life. That she regarded her
antagonist with respect surprised her a little, but she was glad to make
the discovery, because it made the fight all the more worth while.  She
recognized in this tall, wiry, dark-haired man, who looked in the very
pink of condition and bore on his well-cut young face the tan of sun and
wind, someone who had in him every single one of her own faults, whose
training and environment were the same as her own, who had been made as
impatient of control from the possession of excessive wealth as she was,
and whose capacity for becoming untamed the very moment that the thin
layer of culture which education gives falls in front of passionate
resentment was similar in every way to that which had made her lie to
her family.

It was with the feeling that she was leading lady in an extremely daring
society drama, that she took what she inwardly called the stage, as much
mistress of herself as she had been in the rooms of the portrait
painter.  When she turned up the shaded lights on her dressing-table and
over the fireplace she did so with the rhythmic movement and the sense
of time which would have been hers had she rehearsed the scene and been
now playing it to a crowded house on the first night of a metropolitan
production.  She seemed to hear the diminuendo of the orchestra and to
feel that curious nervous exhilaration that comes from the knowledge of
being focused by thousands of unseen eyes.  It was surely an almost
uncanny sense of humor which allowed her to stand outside herself in
this way and watch all her movements as though they were those of
another person.  But,—she knew her part.  She had the confidence of one
who has completely memorized her lines.  Her triumph would be complete
when she succeeded in making Franklin put the key back into the lock of
her door and remove himself from her presence.

As Franklin examined the room in which he never imagined that he would
find himself and had no desire to be his determination to get even with
the spoiled girl who had used him to get herself out of a family fracas
grew stronger and stronger.  It seemed to him that the room,—almost
insolent in its evidences of wealth,—was symbolic.  It was not, he saw,
the room of a young, healthy, normal girl so much as of a woman of the
world, a highly finished, highly fastidious mondaine, who had won the
right to live in an atmosphere of priceless tapestries, historic
furniture, and a luxury that was quite Roman.  He ran his eyes
scornfully about and scoffed at the four-poster bed in which a French
queen might have received, and probably did receive, the satellites and
flatterers of her court; and saw through an open door not a mere
bathroom, but a pool, marble-lined, with florid Byzantine decorations,
discreetly lit.  This thing angered him. It stood, he thought, as the
reason for this girl’s distorted idea of life—of her myopic point of
view.  It stood for many thousands of misplaced dollars which would, if
sanely used, have provided much-needed beds for the accident wards of a
hospital.

Not for the first time in his life, Franklin staggered at the sight of
the abnormality of excessive wealth, and felt that he himself, like
Beatrix, was nearer to lunacy than the ordinary human being because of
the possession of it.  The queer paradox of his having been made the
instrument to bring this girl down from the false pedestal upon which
she had stood ever since she was born, also struck him.  He had never
been much given to self-analysis or to the psychological examination of
social conditions; but as he sat there in that large, lofty and
extravagant, almost grotesquely furnished bedroom, more closely
resembling that of one or other of the great courtezans than of an
American girl in the first exquisite flush of youth, he came to the
conclusion, with a savage sense of justice, that he would be doing
something for civilization by bringing this millionaire’s daughter face
to face with the grim truth of things.

It was Beatrix who broke a silence which had only lasted a few minutes.
"There are cigarettes at your elbow," she said.  "Won’t you smoke?"

Franklin looked up.  The note of camaraderie in her voice surprised him.
The last time he had heard her speak it was in a tone of agonized
appeal.  "No, thanks," he replied, "I’ve smoked enough."

"In training for one of your much-paragraphed athletic feats, perhaps,"
she said, a quizzical smile playing round her lips.

"I am," said Franklin.  "Though I doubt whether this one will be as much
advertised as the others."  He looked steadily at her as he said this
thing, caught the merest flick of her eyes and marked up to his credit
the fact that she understood his meaning.

For several seconds these two eyed each other deliberately, like
contestants in a prize ring.  They measured each other up calculatingly
without any attempt to hide the fact.  It was with unwilling admiration
that Franklin noted the girl’s return to courage.  He had to confess to
himself that the fearless tilt of her chin and the superb grace of her
attitude, which was as far from being self-conscious as though she were
standing in the corner of a crowded drawing-room, pleased him.  It was
to be a fight, then.  That was evident. The spirit of the huntsman rose
in him as he realized this.

"Will you ring the bell for your maid?" he asked, making the first
attack, "or shall I?"

She shook her head.  "Pray don’t trouble, there’s plenty of time."

"I don’t agree with you."

"Does that matter?"

"I think so."

"It’s a free country."

She sat down in a chair which Louis XIV was popularly supposed to have
used.  The yellow light of a lamp on a silver pedestal fell upon her
white shoulders.

Franklin got up.  His blood raced through his veins.  He didn’t intend
to stand any nonsense.  He was going to show her precisely what it meant
to be at the mercy of an impatient man.  He went across to the door at
the far end of the room and opened it.  It disclosed a large and
elaborate dressing-room lined with full-length mirrors, lighted like a
theatre, and with a table covered with implements with tortoise-shell
backs.  There was another door beyond it.  He turned the handle and
threw it open.  This was apparently a workroom, but much of it was in
shadow. He saw a young, dark-haired woman kneeling on a chair with her
shoulders rounded over a magazine spread out on a table.  One black
slipper had fallen off and lay on its side on the rug.  A half-empty box
of candies was near to her elbow.  "Mrs. Franklin is ready for you," he
said, and marched back again to his chair.

The maid, obviously French and with the characteristic Breton
good-looks, followed him out, unable to disguise her amazement.  She
stood waiting for orders, with her hands clasped in front of her, in an
attitude of rather serf-like humility,—a quiet, slight, black figure,
touched with white at the collar and cuffs. Beatrix crossed her legs and
settled herself more comfortably into her chair.  "You may go back,
Helene," she said.  "I will call you presently."

The girl bowed and slipped quietly away.  Then Beatrix turned to
Franklin, with a most tantalizing air of intimacy.  "I’m not tired," she
said, "and although you are very thoughtful,—more so than most husbands,
which is perfectly charming,—I’m all for a little bright conversation.
I was rather bored during dinner and afterwards.  Don’t you think you
might amuse me?  You seem to be a very amusing person."

Franklin showed his teeth in a silent laugh.  "You think so?"

"Well, the indications point to it."

"You have a very vivid imagination, my child."

"A man doesn’t call his wife a child until he’s been married to her at
least ten years, and then is quarreling over her extravagances."

"You may be right," said Franklin, shortly. "You’ll oblige me by ceasing
to play the fool.  I’m not in a mood for it.  I’ll do the maid’s job if
you don’t want that girl in here."

He got up again and stood over her, apparently the very acme of
importunity.

Beatrix only showed her fright by a slight distention of her nostrils.
She burst out laughing. "Among your other achievements, then, you know
how to unhook a frock."

"I do," said Franklin.  "Stand up, will you, please?"

"My dear Mr. Franklin," she said, drawling ever so little, "I forget
your Christian name,—isn’t there something just a trifle Oriental in
your tone?"

"Very likely," said Franklin.

Beatrix sat back and put up a smiling face.  "How old are you?" she
asked.

"Does that matter?"

"Oh, yes.  I think so.  I’m trying to piece you together like one of
those picture puzzles that children and septuagenarians play with.  It
seems to me that you must have spent a certain number of years among the
black races.  When you speak I seem to hear the distant hollow noise of
the tomtom and the quaint semi-religious nasal voices of half-clothed
savages who stand cowed before you.  Am I right, sir?"  She laughed
again, disguising her trepidation with the expertness of a finished
actress.

Franklin turned away and helped himself to a cigarette.  "You said that
I could smoke."

"Of course."

With almost impish glee, Beatrix told herself that she had won the first
round.


When a man pauses to smoke it is usually a sign either that he is tired
or that he needs something to keep his nerves under control.  Franklin
lit a cigarette for the latter purpose.  The girl’s assumption of utter
coolness made him want to take her roughly by the shoulders and shake
her as he would a naughty child. Her air of enjoyment and mischief made
him all the more determined to see the thing through to the logical end
of it.  He could see that she imagined she could mark time and possibly
wear him out by the use of her wits, but that it did not occur to her
how at any moment brute force might come into the argument. Ever since
he had been old enough to go to school Franklin had resented being made
a fool of, and any boy who had had the temerity to attempt to do so paid
for it.  He saw red on those occasions and could remember each one of
them in every detail.  He began to see red now.  Not only had this
young, wilful, uncontrolled child of wealth already made a most colossal
fool of him, but there she was, calmer than he had ever seen her,
treating him as though he were a green and callow youth, playing with
him in order to break the monotony of a dull evening.  His temper grew
hotter.

"Listen!" he said.  "It doesn’t appear to be any use to treat you as an
ordinary girl."

"Have you only just come to that conclusion?"

"I have broken in many thoroughbreds in my time, and unless you conform
pretty quickly to the rules of the game that you have forced me to play,
I shall have to use horse-breaking methods with you.  Do you want me to
put it plainer than that?"

"Before we go any further," said Beatrix, showing a most tantalizing
flash of white teeth, "don’t you think you ought to tell me what your
Christian name is?  I can’t keep on saying ’My dear Mr. Franklin,’ under
these unconventional circumstances.  It’s so formal."  She knew well
enough, and he knew it.

"Get up!" said Franklin, thickly, keeping his hands off her with the
greatest difficulty.  "Either go to your maid, or call her in.  I’m
through."

With a little bow, Beatrix rose.  It was perfectly evident to her that
Franklin was rapidly becoming dangerous and that at any moment he might
let himself go.  What could she do?  According to her family, this man
was her husband and, as such, had the right to be in her room.  To
scream would only make her look ridiculous, unless she intended to give
herself away, and this she was not prepared to do under any
circumstances.  She might be able to fence with Franklin a little longer
and, as a last resource, to pursue the ordinary tactics of a woman
cornered and throw herself on his mercy, with tears.  Humiliation,—that
was the thing she hated most.  And as she faced Franklin again, with
these things running rapidly through her mind, she felt once more a
renewed sense of admiration for his grim determination to punish.  She
owned to herself with perfect frankness that this odd and neurotic fight
was between the two most spoiled children of her country.  The sense of
humor which was her saving grace gave her the power to see it in the
light of something which was not without value and meaning in her life.
If she had actually to fight like a wild-cat, she intended that the
morning should find her as she was at that moment.

"Will you call Helene, then?" she said.

Franklin went across the room to the door of the maid’s cubby-hole and
rapped.

Beatrix, seized with a new idea, followed Franklin and with a touch of
masterly audacity stood at his side with her hand on his arm.  "Don’t
you think we make a charming picture of connubial felicity?"

[Illustration: "Don’t you think we make a charming picture of connubial
felicity?"]

"My God!" said Franklin.

The maid came out, and as she did so, Beatrix made a dart into her room.
She had suddenly remembered that she could escape through it into the
main part of the house, and that if she could get away and find shelter
in the arms of her fluttering companion she would be safe for that night
at any rate.

But Franklin was too quick for her.  He caught her by the arm just as
she was about to win the first round.

"Oh, no, you don’t," he said, and picked her up in his arms, carried her
back into the bedroom and dumped her down on a divan as though she were
a bundle of feathers.

Then he turned to the maid.  "Just lock your door and bring me the key."
And when in a moment it was timidly handed to him, he added, sharply:
"Now get Mrs. Franklin ready for the night."

Beatrix stopped the girl as she padded softly over to the dressing-room.
"Wait a minute, Helene," she said, and turned towards Franklin.  "This
is the hour when I drink a glass of hot milk, oh, my lord and master!
Have I your gracious permission to continue the habit to-night?  If so,
will you permit my handmaiden to go below and get it for me?"

Franklin held out the key.  Helene took it, and he turned on his heel.

With an eel-like movement Beatrix slipped from the divan, made a dart at
the French girl and in a quick whisper told her to go and fetch Mrs.
Lester Keene at once.  Whereupon, under the firm belief that this new
manoeuvre made her top-dog, all her audacity and self-assurance
returned.  With Brownie there to protect her she could really begin to
enjoy herself and make Franklin wish, not only that he had never entered
her room, but that he had never been born.  She could play with him as a
cat plays with a mouse.  She could make him sting and smart under her
badinage, She could make him see that he had placed himself in a
position in which he would look the most egregious idiot, and eventually
rout him from the scene with her laughter ringing in his ears.  "It will
take a better man than Mr. Pelham Franklin," she told herself, "to break
me in."

She began her new tactics at once.  She strolled over to where Franklin
was standing and sat on the arm of a chair.  Her color had come back and
her eyes were sparkling.  She looked like one of Sir Joshua Reynolds’
pictures of Lady Hamilton come to life.  "Tell me," she said, "what’s
your opinion of York?  We may as well have a little bright conversation
while Helene has gone on her domestic errand, don’t you think so?"

Franklin looked at the girl with a sort of analytical examination.  He
admitted her courage and her spirit.  He admitted her overwhelming
beauty and her inherited assurance.  But he began to wonder whether,—in
spite of the little piteous appeal which had come involuntarily from her
lips when she found herself alone with him,—there was not a streak of
callousness in her nature which put her well up among some of the almost
degenerate young women of her class.

"I only know York by sight," he said.  "That was enough."

"Don’t you think you take things too seriously? His fur coat, Italian
moustache and flamboyant tie do put one off, of course, but he’s one of
the comics of the city and, as such, well worth knowing.  I wonder you
haven’t dropped in to see him sometimes. He’s conveniently near to
you,—luckily for me."  She gave a low laugh as she added the last words.

Franklin stood with his back against one of the carved bed-posts, with
his hands in his pockets.  In various parts of the world he had met all
sorts and conditions of women, from the red-cheeked coquettish daughters
of mountaineers to the glum squaws of dilapidated Indian chiefs.  Also
he had come in contact with the rather cold and quizzical society women
of England, the great ladies of Paris who have made immobility a fine
art, the notorious cocottes of all nationalities and many of those
unconsciously pathetic but perfectly happy little women who, as artists’
models of the Latin quarter, live with exquisite though temporary
morality in an atmosphere in which morals are as scarce as carpets and
as little needed.  His acquaintanceship with all these various types had
been casual, but he had been interested enough in them to study their
characteristics, their mannerisms and their tricks.  But here, in
Beatrix Vanderdyke, was a girl who didn’t come under any of the six
types of women. She didn’t conform in any one way either to his
preconceived ideas of herself.  Even his brutality hadn’t disturbed her.
She was still as unruffled as a white fan-tailed pigeon.  Her eyes still
gleamed with mocking laughter and there was not one single sign of fear,
or even of nervousness, in her easiness and grace. His interest in her
grew with every moment of delay and her desirability became more and
more obvious with every moment that passed.  He might have been inclined
to let her off had she shown any weakness.  His anger might have grown
cold had she let him see anything of outraged maidenly modesty. But her
present attitude egged him on, added fuel to his fire and doubled his
desire to break her will.

"What do you propose to do to-morrow and the day after?" she asked, as
though she had been married to him for some time and wanted to make her
plans.

The question startled Franklin.  "Sufficient for the night," he said.

Beatrix gave one of the tantalizing little bows which were so annoying
to her mother.  "I see! Probably I shall take my estimable, but rather
irritating companion to Europe by the first possible boat. As Mrs.
Franklin, I shall be doubly welcomed in English society.  The combined
and much-paragraphed wealth of our two families will make me a very
romantic figure even in England, where blood is wrongly supposed to
weigh more than money-bags.  It will be very refreshing to be a free
agent at last.  I wonder what sort of thrill you’ll get when you see my
face in the _Sketch_ and _Tatler_ among actresses and cabinet ministers’
wives and trans-Atlantic duchesses! By this time, of course, the
epoch-making news of our alliance,—as Aunt Honoria calls it,—will have
been flashed to the far ends of the earth.  What’ll you do if any legal
person asks to see our marriage lines?"

The sheer impertinence of this young woman left him wordless, until,
followed by the French maid, Mrs. Lester Keene,—hastily dressed in a
discreet Jaeger dressing-gown,—fluttered tremulously in, hurried over to
the girl who was popularly supposed to be in her charge, and put her
arms dramatically around her shoulders.  Then he cursed ripely beneath
his breath.

Mrs. Lester Keene was one of those numerous women whose sense of the
romantic, whose belief in the lowness of human nature and whose relish
for melodrama were the result of having lived a placid, uneventful,
incompetent and wholly protected life. Like a boy who is a constant
attendant at the movies and carries home with him a keen desire to
murder his baby brother and brain his little friends with his father’s
wood-chopper, Amelia Keene had derived a distorted view of the life and
people beyond her horizon from an absolutely quenchless thirst for
sensational novels, which she drank in, firmly believing that they gave
true pictures of men, women and events.

To Beatrix, who knew this kindly, ineffectual, ordinary little woman
through and through, it was funny to see the manner in which she
"believed the worst,"—to use one of her own favorite phrases,—of what
she saw from a first quick glance.  The lofty, museum-like chamber so
little suggested the bedroom of a young girl or of any woman except a
painted harridan who was accustomed to being surrounded, even in her
most intimate moments with grotesque acquaintances, that the presence of
Franklin there might have meant nothing.  It was conceivable that he and
Beatrix, who had the same royal way of disdaining the laws of convention
if it suited their purpose to do so, might have arranged to meet there
in order to be out of the family eye and to discuss the chaos in which
they both stood.  It was as unromantic a meeting place as the great
echoing hall of the Grand Central Station or the foyer of the
Metropolitan Opera House.  But Amelia Keene, whose excitement since her
few minutes’ conversation with Beatrix before dinner had churned her
into a condition almost approaching apoplexy, seized with instant
avidity at the chance of adding drama to the scene in which she had been
called upon to take a part.

"Oh, my darling!  My darling!" she cried. "Thank God you sent for me!
Am I in time?"

This was altogether too much for Beatrix.  She threw one look at her
unruffled reflection in the mirror and another at Franklin, the very
epitome of self-control, and gave herself up to the enjoyment of a burst
of laughter which left her utterly weak.  Even Franklin, who was in no
mood for hilarity, smiled at the obvious inanity of the remark.

Mrs. Lester Keene turned from one to the other with an air of comical
indignation.  _She_ saw nothing to laugh at.  If there had been any fun
in all this, why had she been sent for?  Her age and her position in
that house gave her the right to protect her untamable charge.  The mere
fact, if such a fact could be mere, that a man was in the bedroom of
this young girl was in itself a frightful shock to all her inherited
ideas of propriety.  To her, novel-fed as she was, Franklin could not be
anything but a desperate character, a menace to virtue, a man of the
world. He and Beatrix might look at it from the callous modern angle,
but she had made up her mind that she was called upon to perform a great
rescue and to stand as the representative of Chastity and Moral
Goodness,—and like all the women of her type she consciously dignified
these terms with capital letters. The only thing that she regretted was
that she had done her hair for the night and had not given herself time
to touch her face with a powder-puff.

As soon as Beatrix had recovered herself and was able to speak again,
she unlaced herself from Mrs. Keene’s plump, well-meaning arms and
pushed her gently to the nearest chair.  "Pull yourself together,
Brownie dear," she said.  "I hope I sha’n’t have to keep you out of bed
longer than a few minutes.  I sent for you because you had very little
opportunity of speaking to Mr. Franklin to-day and he’s in a
particularly brilliant mood.  As you know, I like you to share my
pleasures, Brownie, dear."  She threw a look of triumph at Franklin,
which said as plainly as spoken words, "My game, my friend!"

Franklin caught her meaning.  He shot out a laugh and answered her
aloud.  "Don’t you believe it.  I have all night at my disposal."  And
after trying several chairs he sat down in one that had arms and a
slanting back, made himself completely comfortable and eyed the newcomer
with such interest that she bristled beneath his gaze.

Summing up the state of the game,—it was still in this way that she
regarded this amazing episode inconceivable except when conducted by
these two products of a social system peculiar to America,—Beatrix
didn’t like the look of things.  It had seemed to her that the entrance
of Mrs. Keene would reduce the position to one of such absurdity that
Franklin would be only too glad to take himself off with as much dignity
as he could muster up.  His tenacity took her breath away.  What sort of
a man was this who intended to stick to his point even in the face of a
witness?

Not having been endowed with as much humor as would slip through a
sugar-sifter, Mrs. Lester Keene had the faculty of jumping in where
angels fear to tread.  Her love and admiration for Beatrix were the
biggest things in her life,—far bigger than her nebulous marriage and
her occasional social triumphs in suburban London.  It gave her a sort
of false courage and carried her over all conventional bunkers which her
provincial up-bringing had erected between herself and the truth.  There
was therefore a touch of heroism in the way in which she turned upon
Franklin.  "How long have you been here?" she demanded.

"I’m not sure," said Franklin.

"Time flies when one is interested," said Beatrix, with a charming
smile.

"What right have you to be here at all?"

"Ask my wife," said Franklin, drily.

"She isn’t your wife, and you know it."

"I am the only man who does," said Franklin.

"And for that reason your behavior is inexcusable and unforgivable.  It
is not that of a gentleman.  I am astounded that a man who bears such a
name as yours could descend to these depths."

She had never spoken to anyone like this before, not even to the little
servant who, far away in the past, had brushed her hair and mislaid her
hair-pins. She was surprised at herself.  She felt, with a thrill of
curious excitement, that she was rising bravely to a great occasion.
Franklin remained patient.  He felt sorry for this obviously weak woman
who was notoriously no more able to cope with Beatrix than could a
canvas screen with a fifty-mile gale.  She was doing her best and he
respected her.  It was not so much her fault as her misfortune that the
result was farcical.  He caught a look of amusement in the eyes of his
antagonist, and waiving all feeling of enmity in a moment of sympathy,
smiled back at her.  He shrugged his shoulders and said nothing, and so
Mrs. Keene, now oiled up, started off again.

"It doesn’t require any imagination to know what your intentions are,"
she said, her choice of words becoming more and more high-flown and her
rather fat chin quivering under her emotion.  "You seek to take
advantage of a young girl who has placed herself in a most dangerous
position.  I have no words in which to say how despicable—"  Her voice
broke.

Beatrix patted her shoulder.  "There, there, Brownie dear!  There,
there!  Don’t take it so much to heart.  The last half-an-hour has been
full of fun and I’ve enjoyed it all enormously, and presently when Mr.
Franklin comes to the conclusion that after all this is the twentieth
century, he’ll recover his chivalry and find some other way in which to
pay me out."

"Then all I’ve got to say is this," said Mrs. Lester Keene: "the sooner
he comes to that conclusion the better.  You, my dear, ought to be in
bed and asleep.  And after my recent attack of lumbago, I don’t think
anyone has the right to keep me out of bed as late as this."

Franklin got up and held out his right arm.  "I’m so sorry.  Allow me to
escort you to the door," he said.

"And you intend to go to your own room?"

Beatrix held her breath.  On the answer to that question everything that
she could see in the future depended.

"This is my room," said Franklin.  And when the little lady drew back he
went behind her chair, put his hands gently under her elbows, lifted her
up and ran her, a perfect mass of impotent protest, to and through the
door of the maid’s room, which he locked. He knew that Mrs. Keene dared
not make a fuss, and returned to face Beatrix once more, with a curious
smile, "All square at the turn," he said.

"Well played, sir," replied Beatrix, generously.


A lugubrious clock that was somewhere in that unsuitable room struck
twelve.  Through the open windows came the raucous enthusiasm of the
frogs on a close-by pond.  Their imitation of the mechanical noises made
by a factory in full blast was more exact than usual.  A local cock
flung out his throaty challenge to other barn-yard sheiks and was
answered from near and far.  A full moon in a sky that was very mosaic
of stars laid a magic light upon the earth and water.

Beatrix heaved a little sigh.  She was beginning to feel tired.
Excitement was burning low, and Nature, whom she was in the habit of
ignoring with characteristic imperiousness, demanded sleep.  Franklin
was not to be beaten by tricks, it seemed, or turned off by sarcasm.
She must change her tactics and see how honesty would work.

"You’ll go now, won’t you?" she said quietly, with an offer of
friendship that was usually irresistible.

Franklin shook his head and stood firm.

"No?  Oh, I think so.  There isn’t any need to carry your strong man
performance any farther. You’ve quite convinced me that education and
all the advantages of civilization mean nothing to me.  I’ll take it for
granted that they mean just as little to you.  In a word, I’ll own
myself punished and give you the game.  Will that do?"

"No," said Franklin.  "That’s not good enough."

Beatrix stood thoughtfully in front of him, with her hands behind her
back, drooping a little like a flower in the evening.  Her new and utter
naturalness made her seem startlingly young and immature and different.
Franklin hardly recognized in this Beatrix the brilliant, sparkling,
insolent, triumphant creature who had turned the tables on her family
and claimed his help as a sportsman without one iota of consideration
for him or the future.  But he refused to weaken. He realized that if he
allowed himself to drift even into the approach of sympathy she would
twist him round her little finger.  She deserved no mercy.  He would
give her none.  She had had the temerity to place him high up among the
world’s fools and she must pay the full price for the privilege.

"Perhaps you don’t know," she said, "how much it costs me to retire from
any sort of contest until the result is hopelessly against me.  I’ve
only done it once before, and that was in a tennis tournament at Palm
Beach last winter, when I went on playing, with a sprained ankle, and
fainted.  I don’t intend to faint now, but I’m very, very tired.  Won’t
you let me give up?"

Franklin shook his head again.  "This is not anything like the little
games that you kill time with," he said.  "I’m not Sutherland York, nor
am I one of the green youths who help you to get through monotonous
days.  I have been just as spoiled as you have and this can’t end until
my vanity has been healed. You know that as well as I do."

"Oh, yes," she said frankly, "I understand.  If I stood in your shoes I
should feel as you do and be just as brutal in my desire for revenge.
But put yourself in mine for a minute.  You can if you will.  You have
imagination.  The mere fact that you’ve been in my room for an hour and
made me undergo the worst sort of humiliation before my maid and my
companion ought to be sufficient to heal any ordinary type of vanity,
however severe the wound.  Come, now.  I don’t ask you to be fair.  I
don’t deserve that.  But be big and get off that awfully high horse.
What d’you say?  Shall I cry quits?"  She held out her hand with the
charming smile which had never failed since the time when she was the
little queen of her big nursery.

Franklin compelled himself to ignore it.  "No," he said.  "I’m here to
make you feel the spurs for the first time in your life, and I shall
stay."

In a flash Beatrix changed back to the personality behind which she hid
her best and undiscovered self. She threw back her head and squared her
shoulders and brought her exquisite slim young body into an attitude of
audacious challenge and ran her eyes over Franklin with an expression in
which there was contempt and amusement.

"Then you may make up your mind to a long and arduous job," she said.
"It’ll take a better man than you to break me in."

"We’ll see about that," he said.

She burst into a derisive laugh.  Her blood was up. This man had
frightened her, amused her, interested her.  He had won her admiration,
even a little of her sympathy.  Now he bored her.  He had stayed too
long, harped on one subject too steadily.  She might consent to play at
something else, but this game was threadbare.  She refused to entertain
the possibility of his attempting to carry out his threat beyond taking
possession of her room, which, in itself, was impertinent enough.

"What precisely do you imagine that you can do?" she asked, with the
very essence of scorn.

Franklin’s patience had almost run out, too.  "I don’t _imagine_ that I
can do anything.  I know exactly what I’m _going_ to do."

"Is that so?  Do tell me."

"Conform in detail to the right you’ve given me," he said, "without any
further argument."

"Beginning how, pray?"

"By tearing that frock off your back, unless you have your maid in right
away."

"You wouldn’t dare!" she said, scoffing at him.

That was the worst word she could have chosen. To dare Franklin to do a
thing was to guarantee that it was done.  With the blood in his head he
laid instant hands on her and ripped the chiffon from one soft white
shoulder.

There was an inarticulate cry, a brief, breathless struggle, and the
next instant he received a blow on the face that made him see stars.

"You little tyrant!" he said, with a short laugh. "That’s your spirit,
is it?"

He made for her again, angrier than he had ever been in his life.  But
she darted away like a beautiful fish, and with her round shoulder
gleaming in the moonlight stood close to an open window, her breasts
rising and falling, her nostrils distended, her eyes like two great
stars, her face as white as the feathers of a white dove.

"Touch me again and I’ll jump out of this window!"

"I don’t believe you," he said, but remained standing.

"I swear to God I will!"

He knew that she meant it.  "You’d break every bone in your body," he
said.

"That would be better than having your hands on me again."

He made a spring and caught her by the wrists. "Now jump!"

"Oh, very clever," she said, with superb sarcasm. "You’ve evidently made
a hobby of fighting with women."

That stung Franklin.  "I don’t call you a woman," he blurted out.
"There’s been nothing of the woman in you since the day you knew enough
words to order one of your nurses about.  You’re a hybrid, the
production of a mixture of two species,—labor and wealth.  The labor in
you, inherited from the man who made your first millions, is tainted
with revolt, the wealth with the damned despotism that creates it.
You’re no more a woman than this barrack is a home, or this absurd place
a bedroom.  You’re a grotesque who has been brought up in a nightmare.
You walk on a world that is too small for your feet. You’re out of
drawing like a woman in a fashion-plate. You’re a sort of female
Gulliver on an earth peopled with pigmies.  You almost believe that
you’re Almighty and that when you raise your finger life must be reset
like a chess-board.  And you’re perfectly right.  It can and is and will
be so long as money counts.  I know it and do it, for you and I hold a
piece each of the same wand.  But you’re up against _me_ now, and you’ve
used me as you might have used a trained servant, or an eager parasite,
ready and willing to lick the blacking off your boots for the sake of
what may fall unnoticed from your purse, and, by God, you’re not going
to get away with it."

He controlled her across to the door of the maid’s room and pushed it
open with his foot.  "Come out," he said, "and get Mrs. Franklin ready
for the night."  Then he marched Beatrix to and into the dressing-room,
followed by Helene.  Reflected in the mirrors there were not three, but
thirty people.  "I’ll give you fifteen minutes," he continued, "and for
the sake of all concerned don’t be longer.  Is that agreed?"

Beatrix met his eyes.  Her spirit was unbroken, her chin at the same
tilt, her attitude not one whit less contemptuously assured, but he saw
in the slight inclination of her golden head the acknowledgment that he
held all the cards.

He turned on his heel and left the room, went over to an open window and
drew in long breaths of air.

He and she, children of the same nightmare, as he had called it, had
both used the word vanity about the thing which impelled him to punish.
But as he looked out into the sane night, magic only from the moon’s
touch, it came to him that to dismiss it as vanity was to slur over the
true meaning of that before which he was urged.  It was the labor in
him, the revolt against the despotism of wealth that had come back again
in his fight with his fellow-hybrid, and once more labor was top-dog.
How would he use his power?

For fifteen minutes he stood there with his heart thumping, his hands
hot, the exhilaration of success running through his blood like alcohol.
And then, to the second, came the sweet diaphanous figure, which, with
the dignity of a brave but conquered enemy, crossed to the foolish bed.

Franklin watched her go, her gleaming hair all about her like a bridal
veil, her head held high, her lovely face untouched by fear.  He watched
her pause while the maid opened up the bed, and then slip in.  He called
the French girl, gave her the key to her door and waited until she had
gone.  Then he walked to the foot of the bed and stood there silently
until Beatrix raised her eyes.

"If you and I," he said, with extreme distinctness, "were the only two
living people on a desert island and there was not the faintest hope of
our ever being taken back to the world, I would build you a hut at the
farthest end of it and treat you as a man."

He wheeled round, unlocked the door, went out into the passage and away.

Only by having seen the expression on Beatrix’s face after he had gone
would he have known how tremendously well he had revenged himself.



                                 *VIII*


Franklin’s bare statement to Malcolm Fraser that he was going to the
Vanderdyke pastoral party merely to meet Ida Larpent left his friend
interested and speculative.  The lady’s name was as familiar to Fraser
as to the other men who dined at houses a little to the east and rather
less than that to the west of Fifth Avenue.  The lady’s arresting face
had often stirred his dormant sense of psychology, but he never had had
the opportunity of saying more than "How do you do?" or "Good-bye" to
her.  He so obviously didn’t count in the scheme of things as they
appealed to Mrs. Larpent.

According to the Social Register, however, Mrs. Larpent lived in East
Fifty-sixth Street and was the widow of Captain Claude Elcho Larpent of
the 21st Lancers, a nephew of Field Marshal Viscount Risborough.  That
was all.  If this precious volume, which is the vade-mecum of so many
people who murmur the word society with a hiss that can be heard from
one end of the town to the other, had attempted to do justice to the
beautiful Ida, at least one-half of the volume would have been devoted
to the story of her antecedents and career.  Born at Paterson, New
Jersey, the only daughter of a pushing and energetic little chemist
named McKenna, who had married in a moment of the wildest kind of
romance a little, slight, white-faced Russian girl who had left her
country among a batch of unsavory emigrants and found employment in a
button factory, Ida,—who can tell why?—was marked out from her tiniest
years for the oldest profession in the world.  One would have thought,
to look at her parents,—the father a pugnacious, industrious, thrifty,
red-headed Scotch-American, the mother a wistful, grateful,
self-effacing little woman who, if there were any justice in this world,
would several times have received the distinguished service order for
her many acts of unnoticed heroism,—she would have been a bright, brave,
practical and perhaps even pretty little girl.  Instead of which, to
everyone’s astonishment and to the utter confusion of the chemist and
his wife, Ida resembled nothing so much as a child of the aristocracy.
She was thoroughbred from head to foot, perfectly made, with a small
oval face and large wide-apart eyes, tiny wrists and ankles and black
hair as fine as silk.  The paradox of her having been born in the small
common-place quarters above a second-rate store, amidst all the
untidiness of a place in which the mother did her own housework, was not
lost on the parents.  They were proud of this fairy-like baby, but they
were also frightened of her.  They realized that she was in the nature
of a freak.  It seemed to them that she had come by accident; that, as a
matter of fact, they had no right to her.  They almost persuaded
themselves into the belief, as the child grew up, that she was a
changeling; that an unseen hand must have stolen their own sturdy,
freckled and rampagious infant, and for some unaccountable reason
slipped this exquisite little thing into her place.

There was, as time passed, an element of tragedy about this miracle or
accident or mistake,—these words and others were used,—especially when
Ida began to find her tongue and her feet.  More and more she seemed to
be an indignant hot-house plant in a little cabbage-patch.  Her parents,
poor souls, grew more and more awkward and unhappy in her presence. They
had the uncanny feeling always that she was criticising them and their
mode of speech and their slummachy way of life.  The affection and love
which they had been only too willing to give her after the shock of her
early appearance wore away, turned into reluctant deference and a
constant self-conscious desire to make their apartment and themselves
more tidy for her.  Even at the age of ten she turned her mother into a
maid, quietly insisted that her hair should be brushed every night and
saw to it that she was dressed and undressed, manicured and shampooed.
She demanded bath salts and scent from the store and the best of soaps
and powders.  "Do this!  Do that!" she would say, and if they were not
done she raised her voice and stamped her foot, while a sort of flame
seemed to come from her eyes.  No one had ever seen her cry after she
had learned to walk.

The McKenna circle of friends, consisting of fellow-storekeepers and the
Austro-Hungarian musician who was the leader of the little orchestra at
the Paterson Theatre, watched Ida’s early years with almost breathless
astonishment and a kind of disbelief.  They accepted her much in the
same way as they would, under the pressure of warm friendship, have
accepted a pet marmoset or a cursing parrot or a dog with a cat’s tail.
They noticed, with many comments, that she grew up altogether without
filial affection; that she treated her parents as though they were paid
attendants, calling her father "Sandy," as his particular friends did,
and her mother "Alla," and with the most startling self-assurance making
them conform to all her wishes.  It was most uncanny.  Michlikoff, the
bird’s-nest-headed musician, who had a sneaking belief in the occult and
who read up all that he could find on the subject of transmigration of
souls, endeavored to persuade his friends, in voluble broken English,
that Ida was a princess born again.  With all those who came from places
other than Missouri, he succeeded.

It was a perturbed and constrained household in which this unexpected
child grew up,—a household that, to the little bandy Scot’s
never-quite-hidden disgust, was the subject of steady gossip in the
town. His first ambition naturally was to see the list of his customers
swell, but not at the expense of his pride and self-respect.  Those two
things, frequently mentioned, were very dear to him.  It seemed to him,
too, that the family affairs of a man who kept a drug-store should be
out of the region of gossip.  He and his still pretty wife were glad,
infinitely glad, when the time arrived for their daughter to attend the
public school.  It was only while she was out of the apartment that the
mother could go about her work in comfort and without being constantly
called away from her domestic duties.  The freckled, red-headed little
chemist only felt happy when he saw this girl sail out with her books
and turn down the street towards the school-house, with her chin held
high and her astonishing eyes filled with a sort of scorn for all the
passers-by. At school she was not a success.  She didn’t mix well. The
other children held aloof from her.  She was obviously out of place
amongst them and they resented her presence in the class-rooms.  The
boys admired her from a distance, fell into self-conscious silence when
she approached and whispered about her when she passed by.  The girls
were antagonistic.  They were jealous of her pretty clothes, awed by her
lofty silences and surprised at her proficiency with her books. On her
seventeenth birthday Ida went to New York, saying that she would be back
to supper.  But with supper came a cold-blooded note which ran like
this:

"Dear Sandy and Alla:

"I’m through with your one-eyed town and the drug-store and
provincialism.  I’m going to begin to live and dress as I ought to, and
there’s only one way to do it,—the easiest way.  I applied for a job in
the chorus of the Winter Garden for the new show and got it.  It was
easy.  I looked very nice in my Sunday clothes and the stage manager
said I was a peach.  Rehearsals start to-morrow and I shall stay at a
boarding-house with some of the other girls.  So please send me thirty
dollars to go on with and the rest of my things.  The address is 302
West 46th Street.  I will let you know when to send me more money.  You
will both be glad to get rid of me, but not so glad as I am to be out of
Paterson.  I am starting on the bottom rung of the ladder and I am going
to climb to the top, whatever I have to pay for it.  Judging from the
way the men in the office look at me they will have to do most of the
paying.

"IDA."

This was read by Mr. and Mrs. McKenna in horrified silence, but with a
mutual deep sigh of relief, and put away in a secret place.  The only
time they ever saw her again was once when they made a pilgrimage to
Manhattan and watched her from the balcony of what was once a show ring
in Broadway, and saw her, almost nude, flitting like a butterfly in the
glare of light.

One other note they received from this curious person, and this,
enclosing a cheque for two hundred dollars, contained the news that Ida
was going to England with a musical comedy company in which she was
playing a small part.  And that was the last they ever heard of her.
She had come like a stranger and like a stranger she departed.  The
cheque they never used.  With an odd sensation of having been insulted
by it they put it in a drawer among receipts and specimens of patent
medicines and left it there.  And then, happy again, they returned to
their habitual untidiness and the daily routine of hard work and
endeavored to forget.  They regarded it as a blessing that nature had
punished them only once.  And when eventually they removed themselves to
a larger and more pretentious store they left a photograph of a little
wide-eyed girl among their debris and felt as though a weight had been
lifted from their shoulders.

If they had been able to watch the London newspapers, especially the
_Sketch_ and _Tatler_, they would have quivered at the sight of this
strange girl in many graceful attitudes and in the scantiest of costumes
as she appeared in almost weekly photographic studies, and they would
have gasped if they had presently read the glowing accounts of the
marriage of Ida McKenna to Captain Claude Elcho Larpent, nephew of Field
Marshal Viscount Risborough, at St. George’s, Hanover Square.  The
headings of these paragraphs had it that Society had once more made an
alliance with the stage, but the gushing paragraphs that came beneath
stated (how amazed the chemist would have been) that the bride came of
one of the best American families, her father being a famous scientist
whose country house was at Paterson, New Jersey, and her mother a
distant connection of the Russian Chancellor.

Ida Larpent took her place in English society as though to the manner
born.  She became the beautiful Mrs. Larpent without turning a hair.
She ran a little house in Mayfair on her husband’s excellent income as
though Mayfair had been her playground since childhood. She entertained
the younger set and a sprinkling of duchesses with all the insouciance
of minor royalty, and plunged her husband into debt in the same
cold-blooded way that she had run up bills in her native town, from
which on clear days one can see the Simelike unbelievable buildings of
the great city.

Claude Larpent was passionately in love with his beautiful and expensive
wife.  With all the careless pride of a mere boy of twenty-six he gave
her the reins, and so long as she made some return for his love never
grumbled at her recklessness or her intimacy with men whom he, before
marriage, would not have touched with the end of a barge-pole.  He
trusted her. She was his wife.  She had chosen him from among all the
men who would eagerly have knelt at her feet. In his weakness he stood
lovingly by while she relentlessly ran him on the rocks and into
bankruptcy.  But it was not until one bad night when he discovered by
accident that she had sold herself for diamonds to a most atrocious
vieux marcheur that he confessed himself broken, exchanged from his
crack regiment to the Houssa Police and disappeared to the West Coast of
Africa, the white man’s grave.  It was exactly three years after the
bells of St. George’s had rung their merry peal that the obituary notice
in the London papers contained a few lines to the effect that Claude
Elcho Larpent had fallen a victim to black water fever. The truth was
that this foolish young man had died of whisky and a broken heart, and
had been buried in the bush mourned and respected by the sturdy little
men whom he had treated with that mixture of firmness and camaraderie
characteristic of the English officer. His widow, still in the first
flush of youth and beauty, was left penniless, but bejewelled, and in
the ordinary course of events,—men being awake to the fact that they
need not marry her,—came under the protection of a wealthy railway man
who planted her temporarily in a pleasant portion of Mayfair, rather
sarcastically named Green Street, Berkeley Square.  The beautiful Mrs.
Larpent thereupon lost a certain amount of caste, but not very much.
Duchesses dropped her, but semi-society drank her wines without a twinge
and enjoyed many week-ends at her beautiful house on the banks of the
Thames near Henley.  Younger sons and the stage herded about her,
accepting gladly enough her lavish hospitality.  The only thing that Ida
Larpent had inherited from her father was thrift.  And before the
railway magnate disappeared from his surroundings in an apoplectic fit,
she had managed to put by a large enough sum of money to bring her in
somewhere about six hundred pounds a year, and upon that, feeling the
need of a change of air and surroundings, she returned to America.

When Franklin met her first, during one of his brief visits to New York,
he found her very cosily ensconced in a tiny apartment, gracefully
furnished, over a dressmaker’s shop in East Fifty-sixth Street, from
which, clothed to perfection, she drove forth nightly in her limousine
to dine at the best houses. She had come to the United States to catch a
husband. Her experience had taught her that a husband is a more
permanent institution than a protector.  She was determined to marry
money.  The need of it, in bulk, was essential to her comfort and peace
of mind.  In order to do so, she lived on her capital, thus conveying
the impression that she was very well off.  Time after time she could
have marched fairly rich young men off to church by their ears, but she
was very fastidious,—not so much in regard to them, as men, as to their
bank accounts.  She didn’t intend to make a second mistake. Then she met
Pelham Franklin at that sort of sham Bohemian supper at which all the
women wear diamonds and all the men are clean and civilized.  She fell
in love with him before she found out who he was. His brown face and
outdoor manner and the air he had about him of not carrying a
superfluous ounce of flesh, his utter incompetency as a drawing-room
man, which was proved by his not paying her a single compliment or
saying anything personal, delighted her. She was sick of those others
who all looked alike and said the same things and counted for nothing.
Franklin came as a change.  His masculinity appealed to her. For the
first time in her life passion stirred and her self-complacency was
shaken.  Before the night was out she heard his name and gave thanks to
all her gods for putting him in her way.  He came at the moment when her
money was running out and the greater part of her morning mail consisted
of demands for payment from impatient and long-suffering trades-people.
During the fortnight that Franklin remained in town she concentrated
upon him, using all her wiles to bring him up to the scratch.  Malcolm
Fraser was not in town at that time, nor were any of the other men with
whom Franklin was on terms of intimate friendship. Feeling lonely and at
a rather loose end he saw a good deal more of Mrs. Larpent, under those
circumstances, than he would have done in normal conditions.  He took
her to dinner at Sherry’s and the Ritz, night after night, and was
delighted at her readiness to do the theatres with him.  It was too
cold-blooded a business to see the plays alone.  Several times, too, he
spent a late hour after supper in her charming little drawing-room
smoking and chatting.  They knew many of the same people in London and
Paris.  He flirted a little with her—certainly.  Why not?  Her beauty
was unique, her way of expressing herself quite brilliant and amusing,
and that air of regal mystery that was all about her piqued curiosity.
He had never the least intention of doing more than merely flirt, and
not being a lady’s man and being therefore without conceit it never
occurred to him that his quick friendship could be misconstrued or his
frank admiration could possibly lead her to believe that he nourished
even the germ of an idea of following these pleasant evenings up with
anything serious.  He went away under the impression that he would be
forgotten as quickly as he had been taken up, and was utterly and
blissfully unaware of the fact that Mrs. Larpent had fallen in love with
him.  He would have roared with incredulous laughter at the mere
suggestion.

Thus things had been left when Franklin felt the call of the sea and
took Malcolm Fraser for a cruise in the yacht on which he spent the best
hours of his life.  He wrote a little letter to Mrs. Larpent on the
morning he went out of town and thanked her warmly for her kindness and
"looked forward tremendously to seeing her directly he got back."  Into
these few rather boyish and certainly sincere words Ida, making a most
uncharacteristic blunder in psychology, read what she most wanted to
read,—love, and, of course, eventually marriage.  During his absence she
marked time impatiently, but with a new smile on her red lips and a
gentler manner towards those about her, keeping her tradesmen in a good
temper by throwing out tiny hints of impending good fortune.  It was
solely to meet Franklin again that this sophisticated, ambitious,
luxury-loving, unscrupulous woman became a member of the Vanderdyke
house-party,—to see again the man who, alone among men, had touched her
heart and awakened her passion.  Like a girl from a Convent school,
young and sweet and inarticulate, she went. Imagine her anger and
distress at finding on her arrival at the Vanderdyke barrack that she
was asked to add her congratulations to those of the family and their
friends on the marriage of Franklin and that "damn girl," as she called
her.  Imagine it!  The shock, the disappointment, the shattering of her
one good dream——



                                  *IX*


When Franklin left the bedroom in which he had gone through the
strangest hour of his life, he went into the room which had been
allotted to him and from which some of his things had been taken, and
stood for a little while at an open window taking in long, deep breaths.
His mind was in too chaotic a state to permit him to think patiently of
going to sleep, and in the back of it, now that his anger had cooled,
there was a growing feeling of self-disgust at the way in which he had
treated Beatrix Vanderdyke.  He was sorry that he had allowed himself to
be carried in front of a wave of extreme indignation and he told
himself, a little ruefully, that after all it wasn’t for him to take the
law into his own hands.  He called himself, with unusual sarcasm, an
egotist, an individualist, and cursed his vanity which rose up whenever
anyone attempted to make a fool of him, and was aghast to discover how
very little it took to make a man lose the effects and influence of
civilization.

And when he endeavored to look into the future that was staring him in
the face—the future all disturbed and upset by the unexpected entrance
into his life of the girl who had treated him merely as a pawn upon her
lightly considered chess-board, he found himself wholly unable to see
through the maze that stretched out in front of him.  He was no longer
in the splendid position of a free lance.  He was no longer able to pass
through his days unencumbered with any sort of responsibility.  He saw
that he was to pay the full price for that moment of aberration during
which he had permitted himself to fall in with Beatrix’s daringly
manufactured lie.  It was with a feeling that gave him back something of
his self-respect that he realized that it was impossible to give Beatrix
away until he had her permission to do so.  She had appealed to him as a
sportsman and it was as a sportsman, as a man who stuck to the rules of
whatever game he played, that he endeavored to report daily to the
particular god that he worshipped.

Sick of himself, sick of his room, sick of everything, he went out
presently into the passage,—a wide, dimly lit passage hung with old
masters and carpeted with Persian rugs which were beautiful and rare
enough to hang upon the walls of an art gallery,—and went slowly
down-stairs into the hall.  For some moments he paced up and down this
deserted place asking himself how he was to kill the night.  He had no
patience for books,—he very rarely read anything except technical things
on hunting and fishing,—but eventually he made his way to the library,
the nicest and most reasonable room in that uncomfortable, luxurious
house.  He was aware immediately of the presence of someone standing at
the window.  The moonlight fell on a dark head and a tall, graceful
figure.  He turned up the lights and found himself looking into the
reproachful and rather sarcastic eyes of Ida Larpent.

She was still in the noticeably simple and very perfect dress that she
had worn at dinner,—a soft, black thing not cut slavishly to the
existing fashion, but made to suit her peculiar beauty and slender,
hipless lines. Cut down to the waist at the back, it seemed to retain
its place in front by a miracle.  One large, star-shaped brooch studded
as closely with diamonds as a clear sky with stars was fastened between
her breasts, and jet beads glinted here and there about the graceful
skirt that hid her feet.  A band of small pearls was placed like an
aureola round her head, from which hung one large insolent diamond just
where her hair was parted on her low forehead.  She wore no rings.

She moved away from the window and leaned lightly against one of the
pillars, running her eyes slowly up and down Franklin’s tall, wiry
figure.  She might easily have been standing for an artist as the modern
representation of Lucretia Borgia.

"Well!" she said, with a just perceptible upward inflection of her
bell-like voice.

To Franklin she seemed to be symbolical of his lost freedom, the
unconscious reminder of the good days when he could go and come at will,
answer immediately to a whim and move to a fancy as a sail to a breeze.
During the course of that afternoon and evening he had not attempted to
do more than pass the time of day with her, and had forgotten, in the
sudden whirlpool into which he had been dragged by Beatrix, that he had
arranged to meet her under that roof to renew a very charming
friendship.  It was now easy enough to see from her expression and
manner that he was to undergo a bad quarter-of-an-hour for his lack of
attention.  He deeply regretted to have hurt her feelings but was not
sorry that he had gone into the room. If there was anything unpleasant
to be faced it was his habit to face it and get it over.  He did not
suffer from moral cowardice.

"Well!" he said.

"I’ve just finished writing you a letter."

"That’s very nice of you."

There was a kind of laugh.  "I hope you’ll think so after you’ve read
it."

"I’ll read it now, if I may," Said Franklin, holding out his hand.

"You may as well."  But she tore the letter into small pieces and
dropped them at her feet.  "No. Why should I give you the pleasure of
seeing how much you’ve made me suffer?"

The word suffer and the unconcealed break in the woman’s voice puzzled
and surprised Franklin.  Was she acting?  He saw no reason why she
should.  It never entered into the very recesses of his mind that there
could be any sentiment on her part.  Why should there be?  "That
wouldn’t give me any pleasure," he said, with a sort of boyish
sincerity.

She looked at him a little eagerly, saw that there was nothing in his
eyes that she needed, nodded two or three times and shrugged her
shoulders.  It was a hard thing to be made to confess that this man who
was so desirable had merely passed a few hours with her for the lack of
a friend.  A new thing, too, after her wide experience of men.
Nevertheless, she had run through the last of her remaining money.  This
was no hour for pride.  She stood in dire and urgent need of funds. It
was impossible for him to be her husband, but well within the range of
her ability to see that he became her banker.

"Did you know that I was in the library?" she asked, making one more
effort to prove herself wrong in her quick intuition.  This was
probably, she told herself, a marriage of convenience.

"No."

"You just came in by accident?"

"Yes."

"I see.  Well, then, as we’re here and we’re both obviously in no mood
for sleep, shall we while away the time with a little discussion on the
short memories of men,—some men?"

"Why not?" replied Franklin, and drew up a chair for her.

But Mrs. Larpent gave a sharp, eloquent gesture. The chair ought rightly
to have wheeled itself into the darkest corner.  "I’ll stand, thanks.
Oddly enough I feel volcanic like most women at the end of their tether
who have been chucked."

The abrupt, descriptive colloquialism came strangely from her.  She was
so finished, so apparently fastidious.  Also she spoke with the slight
drawl and affectation that some English people acquire after much
practice, and imagine to be smart.

"Chucked?" he echoed.  "How?  By whom?"

This gave Mrs. Larpent a double opportunity to get rid of her spleen and
chagrin in an outburst of hysteria and to work on Franklin’s sympathies
by letting him see that she must have money or sell her jewels.  It
didn’t matter to her what he thought of her now.

"By you!  By you!" she said, her voice all broken with emotion.  "You
came into my life when I was most lonely, most in need of tenderness and
kind treatment and on the very edge of a crumbling cliff.  I didn’t
believe that you were playing the usual game with me.  You didn’t seem
to be that kind of man.  I thought,—yes, even I, who have grappled with
life and am without much faith in human nature,—that you saw all that is
good and decent in me and answered to the love that you had set alight
in my heart.  Why else, I asked myself, did you come day after day and
night after night, in a city reeking with people who would have been
eager to amuse you, and claim me in a loneliness that was almost equal
to mine?  Why else did you let me see the best of yourself and treat me
with the respect that a man only shows to the woman whom he is going to
ask to be his wife?  Most of the men I meet are different.  They only
see in me an unattached woman living on a shoe-string, willing enough to
sell her beauty for cash.  But in you I thought I saw honesty and
sincerity and chivalry, and whether you knew it or not you let me wander
into a fool’s paradise and dream of a home and a great love and peace.
And on the strength of the little note you wrote before you sailed I saw
the promise of security from dunning creditors and hope rising over my
unhappy horizon.  I blurt all this out now only because I’m still
suffering from the shock of finding you married.  You must forgive me."

She turned abruptly on her heel, with her hands over her face, and stood
once more in the window silvered by the moon.  Even with those tears on
her face and that pain in her heart she was able to congratulate herself
on having made the speech of her life.

Franklin was appalled.  His knowledge of women was as small as that of
most men whose lives are spent in the open.  Of the Larpent type he was
wholly ignorant.  He believed that she was telling the truth and her
confession, made with trembling lips and streaming eyes and a broken
voice, hurt him.  He had never listened to anything so painful or so
horribly embarrassing.  What could he do or say?  How could he possibly
explain that her beauty had only made a skin-deep impression and that he
had only regarded her as a most delightful companion.  And so he said
nothing.  It was too difficult.  He just remained standing with his
shoulders squared and his hands behind his back and willed that woman,
for God’s sake, to stop crying and tell him what he could do to make
things easier for her.  And the thing that he wished with all his soul
was that he was back on his yacht, with the clean night air brushing
across his face and the laughter of his intimate pals ringing in his
ears.

During the curious, uneasy moments that followed he let his eyes wander
about the huge room with its pseudo-Gothic ceiling and pillars, its
book-lined walls and its numerous cases of old Bibles and first
editions, collections of rare and wonderful bindings, and the assortment
of deep arm-chairs and silky rugs which gave it the appearance of a room
in a public library rescued from its cold formality by a lover of books,
who saw no reason why they should not be enjoyed in comfort.  Only one
end of it was lit, and the rest was in shadow except for a shaft of
silver light that pierced one of the high windows and spilt itself on
the plinth of a pillar.  He wondered what Mrs. Larpent would say next.
He hadn’t missed her hint of the need of money.  He felt more than ever
unhappy and uncomfortable. But on that point, at any rate, she could
count on his help, difficult as it would be to put it into practice.

Mrs. Larpent gave another curious little laugh, turned and came back.
Franklin glanced quickly at her.  She moved closer and there was
something about her mouth and nostrils that showed him that he was right
in thinking that she had read his thoughts.

"What are you going to do about it?" she asked, taking advantage of the
light so that the softness and whiteness of her body should not be lost.
One of her smiles had never failed.  She adopted it then.  Even she
retained her optimism.

"What you say goes," said Franklin.

"You mean that, Pelham?"  Two or three steps took her within arm’s
reach.  The light remained upon her.  If this was merely a marriage of
convenience he might make a suggestion that would, at any rate, give her
a brief happiness.

"Of course.  I only want you to—to tell me what I can do."

Optimism could not live under that suggestion, however generously meant
and delicately put, of payment by cheque.  Nevertheless, Ida Larpent sat
down.  It was bitter to see that her love was not to be returned, but
good to feel that her diminished bank account was likely to be
substantially refreshed.  She felt like a woman who had swum out of her
depth, lost her nerve, made a mighty effort and feels at last the sand
against her knees.  Metaphorically she drew herself wearily out of the
water and with a renewed sense of confidence felt the warm sun upon her
limbs.

There was something detestably cold-blooded in all this, and Franklin
hated it.  He had hitherto managed to keep himself free from women.
They interfered with his pursuits.  Why fate should have gone suddenly
out of its way to plunge him into the midst of this woman stuff, as he
impatiently called it, was more than he could understand.

He looked down at Ida Larpent.  She was sitting in a low, red-leather
chair,—the sort of thing that is supposed to belong to a room inhabited
by men.  Her amazing hair, as black as the wing of a crow, had been
touched here and there with the tongs.  It framed a face as white as
marble,—a curiously small oval face,—with eyes remarkably wide apart and
large and luminous; a small aristocratic nose, with sensitive nostrils
which indicated passion as well as impatience, and a mouth whose lips
were full and artificially red.  Her small round white shoulders were
more daringly bare than those of any woman he had seen, and her two fine
hands looked like those in the old French pictures which hang in those
houses in Paris that were spared by the Sans-Culottes.  Indeed, the
whole figure, from head to foot, looked like an oil painting of a period
in French history when aristocracy had reached its acme. As a companion
for a man of enforced leisure and unlimited means and no ties she had
everything in her favor, physically and mentally.  As Franklin stood
looking at her, however, with all the admiration that was due to her, he
found himself unconsciously comparing her,—this exotic—this most
exquisite of rare orchids,—with the fresh, buoyant, healthy, clean,
proud, spoilt girl who called herself his wife.

"Will you be honest with me?" she asked.

"I haven’t got much to bless myself with except that," he answered.

"Were you married when you came to my apartment in March?"

"No."

"Well, that’s something," she said.  "When _were_ you married?"

"Does that matter?"

"Perhaps not.  The fact remains.  I’m naturally interested and curious,
so tell me this: Was it a sudden infatuation for that child who rules
the roost here,—a sudden burst of sentimentality that doesn’t seem part
of you, or—what?  I think I have the right to ask."

"You have," said Franklin.  "It was all very sudden. That’s all I can
tell you about it."

"I see.  And now that you are tied up and more than ever under the
microscopic eye of the public—what?"

"Well—what?"

"Are you going to be a little careless in the matter of marriage vows,
or carry them out to the letter?"  She stretched herself a little and
smiled up at him, still fighting for the dream that had made her for a
little while so young and gentle and unworldly.

"I asked you to believe that I am honest," said Franklin, who had never
in his life been so puzzled as to a choice of words.

And then Mrs. Larpent got up.  "I see," she said, and held out her hand.
"Well, I, at any rate, have not beaten about the bush, and you have
spared my feelings with very real kindness.  And so good night!"

"Good night!" said Franklin.

"You can think of nothing else that you would like to say?"

Franklin had something else to say,—the question of a certain sum of
money.  But, like a horse brought nose up to a high jump, he refused,
shook his head, and immediately added, "Yes.  I’m awfully sorry about
all this.  Please accept my humble apologies."

Mrs. Larpent bowed, but the gracious smile on her lips was contradicted
by her eyes.  They were full of pain and anger.  And while she still
held Franklin’s hand she registered an oath that she would leave no
stone unturned to make him forget his honesty before many months had
passed and lead her willingly into a new and beautiful dream.

"How long are you staying here?" he asked.

"I’m leaving to-morrow," she said.  "It isn’t awfully amusing to go
through the jealous agonies of hell."

"I’ll write to your apartment," said Franklin, stumbling a little over
the words.

"Thank you."  She took his meaning and was certain of his generosity.

He watched her go, moving with a sort of medieval dignity, an almost
uncanny suggestion of having stepped out of an old frame to return to it
before the finger of dawn began to rub away the night.



                                  *X*


It was eleven o’clock before Beatrix opened her eyes to a new day.  For
two hours Mrs. Lester Keene had hovered about the room like an elderly
beetle, settling here and there for a moment or two and then continuing
her aimless and irresolute flitting.  Two or three times she had stood
over the sleeping girl and gazed with a sort of amazement at a face that
looked strangely childlike, with long lashes like fans upon her cheeks
and lips a little parted.  Then she would take a magazine to one of the
windows, read a few lines here and there without taking in their meaning
and gaze at the illustrations intently without knowing what they
intended to represent.  The truth was that the loyal and well-meaning
lady was not herself.  Her constitution, not of a very sound order, had
been almost shattered by her experience the night before.  She had kept
watch and had seen Franklin leave the bedroom shortly after he had
evicted her from it, and then, with inexpressible relief and
thankfulness, gone to bed, but the terrible anxiety had told upon her.
Hitherto she had never been called upon to undergo more nerve-strain
than is endured by a hen in a well-regulated chicken run, seeing life
and adventure and passion only through the eyes of her favorite
novelists.  She had, however, slept very little and given orders that
she should be called at half-past seven, so that she might go early to
Beatrix and give her the benefit of her advice.  She still remained
under the impression, poor little lady, that her advice was of the
greatest assistance to the wilful, headstrong girl, even though she
never made the merest pretence to follow it.

Beatrix awoke, finally, as a flower opens to the sun. "Oh!  Hello,
Brownie," she said, "ever-faithful! Heigh-ho!  I’ve had such a lovely
sleep.  All in one piece without a dream.  I feel about fifteen."  She
stretched herself lazily and put her arms behind her head.  "Will you
please tell Helene that I want a cup of tea at once,—at once, Brownie.
If it doesn’t come in five minutes it won’t be of any use to me.  You’re
a dear old thing to bother."  She gave a little musical yawn as the
fluffy-minded woman hurried to the maid’s room and gave the order with
that sort of mysterious urgency which is connected with embassies in
moments of national crises and theatres during a dress rehearsal.

When she returned, which she did at once,—her mind being all astir with
curiosity,—she saw that Beatrix was sitting up in bed with her hands
clasped about her knees, her eyebrows meeting in a frown, her lips set
tightly and her eyes full of anger.  Mrs. Keene had never seen this
expression on the girl’s face before. If she had heard Franklin’s
parting remark she would have known the reason for it.

"It’s very late, dear," said Mrs. Keene; "after eleven, and all the
people have been rehearsing in the gardens for an hour."

"Oh, well, it’s a charming morning.  It will do them good.  I wonder if
the matinée idol has shaved himself!  I understand that they don’t do
that thing until about four o’clock in the afternoon."  And then she
began to laugh, more to hide her feelings than anything else.

Not even to Brownie did she intend to show what she felt about the
episode of the previous night, or how deeply she resented the
humiliation to which Franklin had subjected her.  Never in all her life
would she forget that, or forgive,—never.

"We certainly may be said to be living on the top of a volcano, Brownie.
No monotony about life just now, is there?"  And then she suddenly
slipped out of bed, alert and full of a new idea, "Go down and see
what’s happening," she added.  "Be my secret agent and come back with a
full report of what Franklin has been doing since breakfast.  Be very
discreet and smile,—smile all the time, bearing in mind that you are the
closest friend of a girl who has just been happily married."

"Oh, my dear," cried Mrs. Keene, "don’t talk like that!  Please, please
don’t!"

Just for one instant Beatrix allowed her companion to get a glimpse of
the strain under which she was laboring.  "How else should I talk?" she
said, sharply.  "Do you think I’m going about with my tail down like a
whipped dog——?  Run along, Brownie, run along like a good little soul
and do this thing for me.  In the meantime I’ll get up.  I feel in my
bones that things are going to happen to-day. Thank Heaven I’m on the
top of my form, ready for anything and everybody, even Franklin.  We do
manage to live, you and I, don’t we?"

She escorted the amiable, fluttering woman to the door and closed it
upon her, quite certain that she would return with full information.  If
there was one thing in which Mrs. Lester Keene was really proficient it
was in spying out the lay of the land.

While bathing in the pool whose hideous Byzantine decorations were never
more inappropriate than when they made a background for that sweet, slim
form, Beatrix ran her mind over the position.  She felt convinced that
Franklin, angry and disgusted as he was, would continue to play up until
he had her permission to give away the game.  She knew a sportsman when
she saw one.  But she knew also, instinctively, that he was a poor liar,
and if,—as was quite likely,—Aunt Honoria and her mother had been
pumping him during the morning as to when the marriage took place and
for the other details of this great romance, he had probably made a very
poor showing.  There might have been inconvenient questions asked by her
father as to settlements, and so forth.  If so, she could imagine how
badly Franklin had come out without her at his side to prompt and evade
and put tangents into the conversation.  She was anxious and owned to
it.

When Mrs. Lester Keene returned to the bedroom, slipping into it with an
air of almost comic mystery, she was surprised to find Beatrix fully
dressed and swinging up and down the room impatiently like a boy.

"What news on the Rialto?" she cried, with a touch of burlesque in her
voice.

There was a very serious and even scared look on Brownie’s face.  "My
dear," she said, "listen!  I fear that the worst has happened."  In a
sort of way, Mrs. Keene reveled in the drama of it all.  "Mr. Franklin
was the first guest in the breakfast-room. He was very quiet and short
with the servants.  He drank two cups of coffee and ate hardly anything.
He was joined on the veranda by your father and they walked up and down
together talking earnestly for thirty-six minutes.  They were then sent
for by Aunt Honoria.  They have been closeted——"

"Closeted is excellent," said Beatrix.  "Well done, Brownie!  I thought
so," she added mentally, with a sharp intake of breath.

"They have been in Miss Honoria’s room,—your mother was there too,—until
about ten minutes ago, when Mr. Franklin came out alone, hurried
downstairs and out on the veranda, kicking one of the cane chairs on his
way into the garden.  My dear, God only knows what took place in that
interview!  Your father, Aunt Honoria and your mother are still talking.
I don’t understand—I really utterly fail to comprehend how you can stand
there with that smile on your face, being in the midst of what seems to
me to be a very terrible situation."

Beatrix whistled a little tune to keep up her courage, sat on the edge
of a heavily carved table and swung her legs.  "Well, what would you
have me do?" she asked, with consummate coolness.  "Stand on my head,
wail like one of the fat ladies in _Tristan and Isolde_, or sink back on
the sofa in an attitude of Early Victorian despair?"  She got up and
walked to one of the open windows and stood for a moment in the sun as
though to get a little necessary warmth and sympathy.  Then she went
back to the table and looked rather eagerly and girlishly at her
altogether useless but very faithful friend.  "What d’you think it all
means, Brownie dear?"

Mrs. Lester Keene gave the question her serious consideration.  She was
one of those women who looked most ludicrous when most worried.  "If you
ask me," she said, "I believe that Mr. Franklin has given you away and
told the truth."

This answer came as rather a shock to Beatrix, but only for a moment.
"Well, I don’t," she said. "Shall I tell you why?"

"Indeed I wish you would."

"If Franklin had given me away he wouldn’t have kicked that cane chair."

Brownie gave another gesture of despair.  "If only you had it in you to
take things seriously."

"Seriously!  You dear old thing, I’m most serious. I have every reason
to be.  But that was a fine piece of deduction and my spirits have gone
up with a rush. I’m now going to find Franklin, and I’ll bet you a
diamond bracelet that he has stood by me like a Trojan and is as angry
as a caged hawk.  Now, the all-important point is this: What hat shall I
wear,—a simple, naïve, garden thing, or this sophisticated effort?  I
must please his eye."

"Wear the smart hat," said Mrs. Keene.

Beatrix wore the other.  That almost went without saying.

She sang on her way down-stairs.  She chose Santuzza’s song from
_Cavalleria_, which she ragged in the most masterly manner.  She did
this to give the impression, to anyone who might hear her, of
light-heartedness.  Her lithe, young, white-clad figure was reflected by
many mirrors as she passed.  She made sure that none of her people were
in the hall, and then darted out to the veranda to look for Franklin.
The members of the house-party had dispersed to pass the morning away in
tennis and with the rehearsals for the pastoral.  She could see a number
of people under the trees to the left.  She swung round the veranda,
walking on the balls of her feet like a young Diana, singing as she
went, but darting quick, anxious glances to the right and left.  There
was no sign of Franklin. She was about to make her way through the Dutch
garden, all aflame with flowers, to the summer-house which overlooked
the Sound shining beneath the sun, when a footman came out carrying one
of her mother’s petulant spaniels.

"Do you happen to know where Mr. Franklin is?" she asked, pulling up
short.

"Yes, madam."

The word made her heart pump.  "Well,—where?"

"Mr. Franklin ordered his car round ten minutes ago, madam, and has
driven off to New York."

New York!  Then he _had_ given her away, after all, and left her in the
lurch.  What on earth was she going to do now?



                                  *XI*


It was twenty minutes to one when Franklin brought his car to a stop at
the Willow Tree Club in West Fifty-seventh Street.  Malcolm usually
dropped in to this rendezvous of writing men, artists and good fellows
generally to read the papers, about midday. There was more than a chance
that he might be lunching there.

The city lay weltering under a pall of humidity.  As about a great hive
the people moved like tired bees. Flags lay comatose around their posts,
striped awnings hung limply above the windows of those unhappy souls who
could not get away, and the buildings which reared their heads up to the
sky seemed to perspire.

Franklin enquired for his friend at the office, was told that he had
been in but had left half an hour before, murmured a mere second-grade
oath, and being a member of the club himself, went into the reading
room.  He remembered that he needed certain things from Spaldings’,
especially flies, and knowing from long experience that he had better
not trust to his memory, decided to write a brief letter, then and
there.

A pale man was sitting within easy reach of the long magazine table.  He
looked up with the slightly antagonistic expression characteristic of
men in clubs who have had a room to themselves, and wondered what sort
of lucky creature the interloper was who could afford to achieve such a
superb tan in a world of work and effort.

Franklin caught his eye, registered the fact that he had never seen him
before and didn’t much care if he never did again, and sat down at a
writing table behind a book-case in the corner of the room.

After a few moments he was aware of the entrance of someone else because
the pale man sang out a greeting, but he had concentrated on his list
and what was said didn’t reach him.  He searched his brain for
everything that he needed in the way of flies and tackle, endeavored to
make his writing more legible than it usually was and was about to
address the envelope when he caught the name of Vanderdyke.  It was not
so much the mention of the name that made him prick up his ears as the
rather ribald tone in which it was said.

"I was surprised to read all that glorification in this morning’s
papers," he heard.  "Gossip had it that you were very much in the
running, York."

"I?  Oh, no, my dear fellow.  I had never entered in the matrimonial
stakes for that girl."

"Why not?  Beatrix Vanderdyke was worth winning, surely?  Money to burn,
beauty, youth,—what else do you want?"

"I’m not a marrying man.  As they will be pretty certain to say in my
obituary notices, I am ’wedded to my art.’  Besides, my dear fellow, I
have the fortunate knack of getting what I want without the consent of
the parson."  There was the kind of snigger that only comes from men who
belong to the lady-killer tribe.

That, and the gross innuendo that preceded it, carried Franklin to his
feet.  The lust to hit had seized him.  He stalked round the book-case
into the middle of the room.  His hands were clenched and he was
breathing deeply like a man who had been running. He recognized in the
tall, red-tied, flamboyant person the man with whom he had seen Beatrix
that night when he had left the apartment house with Malcolm Fraser.

"I was luckily in a position to overhear your remark," he said quietly.
"I’m Franklin.  Miss Vanderdyke is my wife."

The pale man drew in his breath, and a look of excitement and pleasure
flashed into his eyes.  The one thing that made him feel that he had any
blood was a fight.

Sutherland York recovered himself quickly.  But for the slight
suggestion of whiteness about his mouth he seemed to be perfectly at
ease and nonchalant.  "I’m glad that you’re glad," he said, with a
polite smile. "Permit me to offer my congratulations upon your very
sudden and romantic marriage."

Franklin went a step or two nearer.  "If you were not such a fat,
unmuscular brute," he said, slowly, and with the most careful
distinctness, "if I shouldn’t be laying myself open to a charge of
cruelty to animals, I’d thrash you until you blubbered for mercy."  He
put his hands in his pockets.  "Even if I did, it would have very little
effect, except to send you to the dentist and the beauty doctor.  Your
sort of liar is never properly cured."

He waited for a moment, obviously to give the famous artist a chance to
revenge himself in some way for the insult that he had deliberately made
as strong as he could.

And the pale man eyed York expectantly, eagerly.

But York still smiled, although the whites of his eyes took on a strange
yellow tinge.  "I regret that I do not possess the gift," he said, with
a little bow, "of making suitable tu quoque to cave-men."

Whereupon Franklin burst into a laugh, turned and went out.

The pale man flung his magazine away.  He resented being done out of
legitimate excitement.

"A curiously uncivilized person," said York, putting a shaky hand up to
his vivid tie.  "Come to lunch, my dear fellow."

"Thanks, no; I’m lunching at the Biltmore," said the pale man, shortly.

It was when the portrait painter found himself alone that the veneer
fell from him like the silver paper from a cheap cigar.  His face
swelled and grew red. "Curse these two autocrats," he cried inwardly.
"I owed her something.  Now he’s added to the debt. Married, are they?
By God, we’ll see about that. Scandal?  Ah, that’s where _I_ come in."

Franklin drove home, and gave his goggles to the chauffeur.

"Keep the car here," he said.  "I shall probably want her again.  But
come up and get something to eat."

It was something to drink that O’Connor wanted, but he showed his
excellent teeth in appreciation of the thought and made things
ship-shape.

The over-uniformed elevator man in the hall of the apartment-house,
which couldn’t have been more pompous and imposing if it had been that
of an embassy or a moving-picture palace, gave an exclamation of
surprise at the sight of Franklin.  "Didn’t expect to see you here,
sir," he said, with that nice touch of deferential camaraderie that is
characteristic of all elevator men in apartment houses where rents are
so prohibitive that they can boast of a waiting list.

"I didn’t expect to _be_ here," said Franklin.

"No, I s’pose not.  Well, is this hot enough for you, sir?"

"I don’t mind it.  Do you know if Mr. Fraser is in?"

"Mr. Fraser?  Yes, sir.  I took him up awhile ago. He went out early."

Franklin nodded, got out and rang the bell.  He had forgotten his
latch-key as usual.  The elevator man stood hesitating for a moment.
His smile was so beaming that instinctively Franklin knew that if his
door wasn’t opened quickly he would be obliged to reply to very much
undesired congratulations.  The thing was all over the earth by that
time, of course. The door opened at the psychological moment, however,
and Franklin was spared.  All the same, he turned before he went in,
gave the man a nod, said, "Thanks, all the same," and exchanged a very
human smile.  Good fellows, both.

The man who opened the door was unable to refrain from raising his
well-trained eyebrows, and his lips, too, shaped themselves for
felicitations.  But Franklin gave him his hat and said: "Tell Mrs.
Romanes that I shall want lunch."  And then let out a loud and ringing
shout of "Who’s aboard?"

Malcolm Fraser, who was sitting under an electric fan in a suit of white
duck, sprang to his feet.  "Good Lord!" he said to himself, "what the——"

Franklin turned at the door.  "And, Johnson," he called out, "bring me a
claret and seltzer!  Sharp’s the word."  He glanced at the evening paper
in Fraser’s hand and gave a snort.  There it was.  Oh, Lord, yes!  In
huge letters half-way down the front page.  Far bigger than would have
been given to an ordinary war, or the discovery of a genuine cure for
consumption.  Photographs of bride and bridegroom, too, of course,
twined together with flourishing lines and love-knots and orange
blossoms.

Fraser shaped his lips.

"Now, look here, Malcolm," said Franklin, grimly, "if you say it,—one
word of it,—I’ll heave this chair at your head.  All the same, I’m
darned glad you’re in, old man.  I never needed your level head so much
on earth."

An anxious look came into Fraser’s blue and palpably incorruptible eyes.
"Why?  There’s nothing wrong, is there?" he asked.

"Nothing wrong!"

But Johnson, who had dropped his usual heavy dignity in the excitement
of the moment and really moved, came in with the claret and seltzer and
Franklin cut his remark short, took the refreshing-looking drink and
gave the glass back.

With his scrupulously clean-shaven and almost clerical face wreathed in
smiles, Johnson spoke: "Will you allow me, sir, to offer you——"

Franklin jumped in quickly.  "Yes, thank you, Johnson.  Very much
obliged.  Leave the tray here."

"Very good, sir."  Johnson was hurt.  He had framed what he considered
to be a fine flowing sentence.  It seemed a pity that he should not have
been permitted to give it full utterance.  On his way to the door he
resumed his usual iciness.

Franklin put two chairs close to the window.  "Sit down, old man," he
said, "and listen to this."



                                 *XII*


Beatrix had courage.  Instead of shutting herself up in her suite of
rooms and hiding behind the excuse of a headache until her family
disclosed to her the present condition of affairs, she took her place in
the rehearsals for the pastoral, was highly entertained by the airs of
the matinée idol, and presently met her mother and father and Aunt
Honoria at luncheon, with her head as high as ever and laughter dancing
in her eyes.

Imagine her relief when she found her mother cordial, her father
affectionate and Aunt Honoria peculiarly gracious.  Obviously Franklin
had not given her away.  She was still the heroine of this family drama.
Up went her spirits.  Optimism came back like the sun after a storm, and
living once more for the moment and leaving the immediate future on the
knees of the gods she became the life and soul of the house-party,
teasing the matinée idol, complimenting the producer, saying little
deferential things to her aunt, and playing the game of badinage with
the guests with all the finish and daring of a champion.

Reaction set in early in the afternoon.  She was tired.  The strain of
living over a mine began to tell. Mrs. Lester Keene’s continual
questions as to where Franklin was and why he had gone to town got on
her nerves.  And so, leaving Brownie on the veranda as a spy, she went
to her rooms, gave orders that she was not to be disturbed and composed
herself to sleep like a crown princess of a fictitious kingdom.

It was a little after four o’clock when Mrs. Keene fluttered in, in a
high state of excitement.  She found Beatrix half-awake and half-asleep
lying on her pompous bed in the most charming dishabille, with a little
flush on her lovely face like the pink of apple blossoms.

"My dear, my dear!" said Mrs. Keene, bending over her.  "Mr. Franklin
has just come back."

"Who has just come back, Brownie?"

"Mr. Franklin,—who else?"  Sometimes this patient woman held that she
had every right to show a touch of exasperation.

"Oh, yes,—Franklin, the sportsman," said Beatrix. "Heigh-ho!  I’ve been
dreaming of dancing.  I invented a new fox-trot and I danced it with
Maurice for an hour.  The band was perfect."

"Mr. Franklin glared at me and went up to his room.  I didn’t like the
expression on his face at all. Do please get up, dear.  Now, please do!"

Beatrix heaved a sigh, sat up, remained thinking for several moments
with her hands clasped about her knees, and then sprang out of bed.
"Action!" she said.  "Action!  Call Helene, please, Brownie.  I’m seized
with an insatiable curiosity to find out what’s happened.  Really and
truly, if I had consulted a specialist in the art of providing amusement
for blasé people he couldn’t possibly have devised a more wonderful
scheme than mine for making life worth living.  Now, Helene, pull
yourself together.  Brownie dear, ring down for a cup of tea.  All hands
clear for action!"

They did so to such good purpose,—Mrs. Keene bustling herself into a
state of hysterical agitation, and Helene into breathlessness,—that
barely half-an-hour later Beatrix, in a new and delicious frock, sailed
downstairs, was told that Mr. Franklin had gone to the summer-house and
followed him, humming a little tune.  She came upon him standing with
his hands thrust deep into his pockets and his eyes on the horizon.

"I knew I should find you here," she said, in a ringing voice.  "Good
afternoon!  How d’you do?"

Franklin turned and looked at her, and as he did so Malcolm Fraser’s
outburst came back into his mind. What a charming child she must have
been before the spoiling process had had time to take its full effect!
What a high-spirited, insolent, beautiful, untamed thing she was now
with the world at her feet.  "Good afternoon!" he answered, with a
curious quickening of his pulse.

"Don’t you love the view here?  It’s wonderful. I always come and drink
it in when I feel the need of being soothed."

"That’s why you’ve come now, I suppose," said Franklin, drily.

"No.  I’m utterly unruffled and at peace with the world."

"May I say ’I don’t believe you’ without hurting your feelings?"

"Surely," said Beatrix.  "Say anything you like. It’s a free country,—a
little too free perhaps."  She bent down and picked a rose-bud and put
it to her lips.

"Very good.  Then I’ll add this at once.  I haven’t wasted time since I
saw you last."

"Oh, how pleasant to think that I’ve had a good effect upon you," she
said, with a mischievous smile. "You have the reputation of being a
past-master in the art of wasting time."

Franklin ignored the remark, although he noticed that she had two of the
most ravishing dimples he had ever seen.  "You may not know it, but this
morning I went through a pretty bad hour with your people.  I didn’t
actually lie to them, but I managed with a great effort not to tell them
anything that was true."

"Then I win my bet," said Beatrix.

"I don’t know what you mean."

"It doesn’t matter.  Tell me more.  You interest me."

"That’s good," said Franklin, with a sort of laugh. "After that,—and I
dare say this is also news to you,—I drove to town to get advice.  The
end of it all is that there’s only one way in which you and I can bring
this farce to an end."

"No, no!" cried Beatrix, with mock horror at the word, "not
farce,—comedy, please."

Franklin would have given nearly all he possessed for the pleasure of
spanking that young woman until she cried for mercy.  As it was, he
pitched away his cigarette, waited until the echo of her voice had died
away, and faced her up.  "Now listen!" he said, sharply, "and if you are
capable of it give some consideration to me and my life and to the
gravity of my position and yours."

Beatrix waved her hand.

"We’ve got to go off at once," said Franklin, giving each word its full
importance,—"somewhere or other, I don’t know where,—and get married."

Beatrix almost jumped out of her skin.

Franklin went on quickly.  "For this reason: I saw Sutherland York this
morning at the club.  It was perfectly obvious that he intends to make
you pay fully for something that you did to him.  From his manner and
his infernal cheek I gathered that he has seen through the whole of this
business, and he’s going to spread it about that this is a bluff.  He
knows how to do this sort of thing better than most men, I judge, and it
won’t be many days before we find scandal rearing its head at us.
Therefore, we must become at once what you said we were,—married.  I’m
sorry, but there’s no way out.  That over, you will go your way and I
mine, and from the moment that we separate I will proceed to do that
disgusting thing which the laws make necessary for a man who wishes to
be divorced from his wife.  You will please be good enough to make your
plans to leave here not later than to-morrow.  Some other girl must take
your part in the pastoral."

[Illustration: "It won’t be many days before we find scandal rearing its
head at us."]

"Impossible," said Beatrix, quietly.

"Why?"

"Simply because it is.  I’m going to play that part and I’m going to
look very nice in the clothes.  Also, I’m looking forward to a great
deal of fun with the matinée idol, shaved or unshaved."

Franklin whipped round upon her.  "It isn’t for you to say what you’ll
do or not do.  For your sake, as well as for mine, I must take charge of
this business, and you’ll please carry out my orders."

"Orders!"  She threw up her head.  "That’s a word that isn’t and never
will be contained in my dictionary."

"You’re wrong.  I’ve just added it to that volume," he said.

Beatrix gave a big laugh and stood up to him with her chin tilted, her
eyes dancing and a look of triumph all over her lovely face.  "Take
charge—you!" she cried.  "Think again.  The whip is in my hand now and I
shall use it.  You dare not give me away. You’re afraid of the laughter
that will follow you wherever you go.  I think you’re right.  But,—as to
being your wife, not in this world, my good sir, for any reason that you
can name.  I’d rather die."

And then she turned on her heel and swung away, with the roses seeming
to bend towards her as she went.

Franklin watched her, with his hands clenched and his mouth set.  "By
God," he said to himself, "we’ll see about that!"  And he would have
added more angry words, thickly, to his mental outburst, if a new
feeling,—bewildering, painful, intoxicating,—had not welled up to his
heart.  All round him, as he stood there in amazement, the air seemed to
be filled with the song of birds.  Then it came to him,—the answer to
the question he had put to himself impatiently and jealously in his
apartment in New York after Malcolm Fraser’s little story.  "I’m going
to begin to live—I’ve met the woman who can make me give up freedom and
peace of mind, take me to Heaven or draw me down into Hell!"



                                 *XIII*


That rather charming haphazard air that is characteristic of afternoon
tea in an English country house, to which young people from the tennis
courts and golf links slack in just as they are and find the hostess
presiding at a substantial table, assisted by all the younger men who
are born to carry cups and cake—they always dance and generally play the
piano—was missing from the West Terrace of the Vanderdyke mansion.  Mrs.
Vanderdyke "dressed" for tea. Her costume was a very beautiful and
pompous affair, not cut low enough for dinner or for breakfast but quite
low enough for the theatre, and she wore a considerable quantity of
jewels.  Brilliantly made up, she sat under the awning with her back to
the sun chatting with royal condescension and studied charm. It was one
of the best things that she did.  It was also her first public
appearance of the day, most of which had been devoted to a hard, stern
and successful fight against Anno Domini.

She was surrounded by members of the house party who took themselves and
her seriously and she, and they, were under the expert attention of
several footmen.  Carefully chosen for their height and gravity and
truth to type, these men wore a very distinguished livery with knee
breeches and black silk stockings, and they hovered from person to
person with a rather soothing quietude, moved by invisible machinery.

The vivacious little Mrs. Edgar Lee Reeves who talked continuously of
"my daughter Lady Bramshaw and that sweet old place in Hampshire" was
purring under the attentions of Admiral De Forrest Wontner.  Although a
grandmother, an event of which she spoke as if it were rather a
malicious lie, Mrs. Reeves looked like a very young, blond, motion
picture star who tames cave-men and broncho-busters with just one quick
upward glance.  Her laughter bubbled like boiling water and at odd
moments she clapped her hands and opened her blue eyes very wide and
pursed up her little red mouth.  Of her tiny ankles she was very proud
and hardly ever forgot to expose them.  She underlined most of her words
with gushing emphasis and everything, from a sunset to a new soap, was
"_perfectly wonderful_."  Wontner and she had been engaged to be married
after a dance at Annapolis somewhere in the seventies, but while he was
at sea on his first commission, Ettie Stanton met, danced and ran away
with young E. L. Reeves of Baltimore and remained "terribly crazy" about
him to the day of his death.  It was indeed a peculiarly happy marriage,
blessed with three fine manly boys and a girl who was always being
mistaken for her mother.  And now the retired sea-dog, celebrated for
his early Victorian gallantry, one of the few remaining bucks in the
country and a man of wit, chivalry and golden heart, carried on a St.
Martin’s summer flirtation with his former sweetheart, the very sight of
whom dispelled his accumulation of years as the sun scatters the dew.
Most people were amused at the affair and several were sympathetic.

Talking to Mrs. Vanderdyke, or rather listening to Mrs. Vanderdyke, who
either talked or went into a trance, was handsome Percy Campbell, the
man who drank a bottle of whiskey before breakfast and played golf all
day in order to drink another before going to bed.  He owned three
streets in New York; he had never done anything more serious than learn
to play the violin, about which he talked to everybody.  He was now
dangerously near fifty-three but since passing out of Harvard he had not
found time to practise more than a dozen times.  He carried three
beautiful Strads wherever he went, however, and whenever he became
genuinely fuddled motored to the nearest town, day or night, to buy a
new stack of strings and rosin.  His wife went with him as well as his
violins and received much less consideration although many more cases.
They were popular people and Campbell’s shooting box in Scotland near
Cupar, Fife, from which his remote ancestors strayed, was always full.
No altogether Scot could compete with him in his devotion to the
national beverage.

Then there were Mrs. Lucas D. Osterpath, in mourning for her son who had
just married a Folly from the New Amsterdam Theatre roof; the William
Bannermans, recently remarried after a most amusing divorce; Philip
Kawbro in his inevitable blue and white striped collar and yellow
waistcoat; Regina Westerhaus, as regal as her name, but still a spinster
at the end of three seasons, and the Hon. Mrs. Claude Larpent, the
centre of attraction for those three vieux marcheurs, Major Thresher,
Roger Peek and Courtney Borner.

The young people avoided this function and got whatever refreshment they
needed from the bachelors’ house.

It was to this terrace that Beatrix made her way after flinging her
triumphant refusal at Franklin. All the elation of a victor ran through
her veins. What did she care about the possibility either of being
blackmailed or shown up by Sutherland York?  Why should she give the
smallest consideration to Pelham Franklin or join him in any plan to
save his name from scandal?  He had said an unforgivable thing to her in
her bedroom that memorable night, the sting of which still made her
smart.  She gloried in having been able to make him pay something on
account of that huge debt and with characteristic high-handedness turned
a Nelsonian eye to the black cloud that was moving up over the horizon.
She had always taken chances.  It was part and parcel of her nature.
With a growing sense of exhilaration and the feeling that she was merely
at the beginning of a great adventure she took a chance again.  If the
storm was fated to burst and Franklin gave her away to her parents,
well, let it burst.  There would be an epoch-making family row, and
unless her wits protected her again she would be sent into the back of
beyond. That was an appalling prospect which, however, she pushed aside.
She trusted to her usual luck to carry her out of this tangle, if only
by the skin of her teeth. The great point at the moment was that she had
scored over Franklin and left him impotent.  But for that parting remark
of his before he left her room she might have considered the possibility
of falling in with his plan.  The humiliation of being made to obey his
orders might have been lived down, greatly as she resented humiliation.
But when it came to such a deliberate attack upon her vanity—that was
altogether different.

Miss Honoria Vanderdyke, who had been hard at work with a secretary all
the afternoon organizing a new society to look after women released from
penitentiaries, came out as Beatrix was passing.  The graceful,
white-haired woman put her arm round the girl’s shoulders.  "I’ve never
seen you look so happy, dear child," she said, with an unusual touch of
tenderness.

Beatrix smiled at her and in her mind’s eye saw Franklin’s expression as
he stood outside the summer-house with her refusal in his face.  "I have
every reason to be happy, Aunt Honoria," she answered, in a ringing
voice.  "Life has great compensations."

They fell into step on their way to tea—the elder woman a little envious
of what appeared to be her niece’s romantic love affair, because her own
had ended tragically and left her with a broken heart.  Must a woman
necessarily break her heart before she will devote her life to the
relief of other people’s sufferings?  An old philosopher, who must have
been something of a misogynist, once defined woman’s happiness "as that
state in which all their immediate desires were gratified, a
self-satisfaction which left them blind to the fact that other people
littered the earth."  Maybe he was right.

Aunt Honoria looked rather searchingly at the beautiful girl at her side
who, alone among all the human beings that she knew, possessed the magic
carpet.  "Why do you talk of compensations?" she asked.  "At your age,
in your position?  You puzzle me, child."

Beatrix laughed the question off.  "Oh, that’s a long story.  One of
these fine days, when I am overmastered by a desire to confess, I’ll
tell you all about it. Look, isn’t mother wonderful?  It’s almost absurd
for me to call her by anything but her Christian name."

Aunt Honoria smiled a little dryly.  "My dear," she said, "all women
could be as unnaturally young as your mother is if they gave up as much
time to it.  Tell me about that very striking person who is completely
hemmed in by old men."

"Mrs. Larpent?  Isn’t she attractive?  Isn’t she exactly like one’s idea
of a favorite in the Court of Louis Quinze?  I don’t know anything about
her yet. Wait until to-night and I will give you my impressions."  She
kissed her hand to her aunt, touched her arm with an affectionate and
respectful finger and crossed the terrace to Ida Larpent’s chair.  "May
I join your admirers?" she asked.

With a curious smile Mrs. Larpent drew closer the chair out of which
Courtney Borner had done his best to spring.  "I should like nothing so
much," she said. It might be most useful to become the friend of the
wife of the man who had stirred her calculating heart to love.  Who
could tell?

In the meantime having immediately gained Mrs. Vanderdyke’s permission
to ask a friend of his to dine and sleep, Franklin shut himself up in
the telephone room, asked for the number of his apartment in New York
and told Johnson to call Malcolm Fraser.

"Old man," he said, when his friend’s voice came rather anxiously over
the wire, "will you do something for me?  Will you get a car at once and
pack your things for dinner and sleeping and rattle down here as quick
as you can?  I can’t say anything now except that I need you worse than
ever....  Thanks.  I knew you would.  So long."

In a secret corner of his staunch heart Fraser had locked up his love
for Beatrix.  He was now to be consulted again as to how to put things
right between her and his best pal.  It’s a queer world and full of
paradox.



                                 *XIV*


A few minutes later Franklin was exuberantly welcomed to tea by little
Mrs. Edgar Lee Reeves.  "I’m _terribly_ glad to see you," she cried.
"Come and tell me _all_ about _everything_.  I was _distracted_ when I
heard that you had gone to town.  Admiral, have you _ever_ seen such an
_intriguing_ tie as the boy’s wearing?"

Poor little comic lady!  She had much the same effect on Franklin as
that diabolical machine that drills holes in steel girders.  He sat down
at her side and made ready to endure the continual tapping of her
uncontrollable tongue because he could see Beatrix with the sun on her
hair and the nape of her neck.  He didn’t quite know why, but he was
queerly disconcerted and annoyed to see that she was in animated
conversation with Ida Larpent and the fact that he received an
enigmatical glance through the latter lady’s half-closed eyes did much
to add to this uncomfortable feeling.

"I’ve been talking to Mrs. Vanderdyke about your unconventional
behavior, Mr. Franklin," continued Mrs. Reeves.

"Unconventional," echoed Franklin, listening with half an ear.  "In what
way?"

"Well, isn’t it the usual thing for two young people to enjoy a
honeymoon after they are married, especially such young people?"

The word honeymoon came strangely to Franklin. If it had been mentioned
the day before in connection with this extraordinary business it would
have caused him to scoff inwardly and do his best to pass it over with a
forced smile.  As it was, on top of his sudden realization that in
Beatrix was the woman who called him to live bigly and love to
distraction, but who had refused with utter scorn even to go through the
form of marriage with him, it acted like the sting of a knife.

But the word also gave him an idea and Mrs. Reeves’ remark about having
spoken to Mrs. Vanderdyke a new plan.  For some little time he remained
where he sat while the little woman babbled, going from subject to
subject in her characteristically unconcentrated way.  He nodded where
he thought that a nod was due, smiled frequently and threw in a yes or
no as it seemed necessary.  Finally he got up, when the Admiral drew his
old sweetheart’s attention once more to himself, and went over to Aunt
Honoria.

"May I take you for a little exercise in the garden?" he asked.

"With great pleasure," she said, rising at once.  "I have been trying to
catch your eye for some minutes. I want your advice."

As they passed Beatrix she had the audacity to throw at Franklin a most
connubial smile.  It gave the elderly lady a thrill and very nearly
threw Franklin off his feet.  He heard the contralto of Mrs. Larpent’s
voice and Beatrix’s ringing reply: "Yes, he’s a darling."  Ye gods, but
this girl must surely be a surprise to Nature herself.

Miss Vanderdyke refrained from saying a word until she was out of
earshot of the cheerful group. Then she drew up at the top of the
Italian steps that led into the geometrical gardens.  "I want you to
listen to this extraordinary epistle, Pelham," she said. "It was sent to
my sister-in-law before she left her rooms this afternoon."  She drew it
out of its envelope and read it in her clear, incisive voice.


"Dear Mrs. Vanderdyke,

"I have just received a telegram from a leading motion picture concern
in Los Angeles offering me very big money to leave to-night to do a
picture for them.  Business before pleasure, you know, so I have just
time before making a train to New York to write these few lines.  I am
sorry for the pastoral, but doubtless you will be able to find a
substitute for me, though not, I fear, with an equal sense of rommance.
Thanking you for your kindness and asuring you that I shall not require
any fee for rehearsals.

"Sinceerely,
       "BRIAN YOUNG."


"Good Lord!" said Franklin.  "Pretty cool piece of impertinence."

"I thought so.  And look, he spells romance with two ’m’s,’ and assuring
with one ’s.’  He also makes the inappropriate word, sincerely, look
even quainter by a superfluous ’e’ in the middle.  Are all matinée idols
quite so illiterate, I wonder?"

"Hardly," said Franklin.  "What’s to be done?"

Aunt Honoria shrugged her shoulders.  "Your mother-in-law and I, after
consultation with my brother, who showed even less than his usual
interest in the matter, have decided to cancel the pastoral, especially
as we have all been discussing the advisability of your taking Beatrix
away."

"For a honeymoon?" asked Franklin involuntarily.

"Exactly," Aunt Honoria gave a little laugh. "Because you two young
despots have broken the conventions by this secret marriage, I think it
follows that you should do something to stop gossip and comment by
conforming to an old custom.  What do you say, my friend?"

Franklin put a curb upon his eagerness.  To get Beatrix to sea on his
yacht—that was the thing.  It would give him a chance, just a chance, to
win his way to Beatrix’s untouched and wilful heart, and go far to show
York that his intuition and cunning reasoning were wrong.

"If you think so," he said, "I am perfectly willing to fall in with your
wishes."

"That’s extremely nice of you!"

Franklin showed his excellent teeth and gave a little bow.  But not
being a lady’s man he failed to produce an Elizabethan compliment or one
that might have proved that there is gallantry even in these careless
days.

Aunt Honoria took the word for the deed, and Franklin’s arm down the
steps.  The sun was dipping into the Sound and the whole panorama of sky
was striped and splashed with red.  Young voices drifted toward them
from the tennis courts and a flock of wild ducks high up in a wide V
flew rapidly above their heads.  The scent of flowers rose up to them as
they walked and a very golden day slipped gently into evening.

"I don’t know what Beatrix will have to say about it," said Franklin.

There was a rather dry laugh.  "Oh, I had not forgotten that Beatrix,
although happily married, is a factor to be consulted."

Franklin laughed too.  "No," he said, with several memories very clear
in his mind, "one could hardly forget that."

And then the tall, white-haired, dignified woman, about whom there was
an intellectual humanity very rarely met with, did an unexpected thing.
She stopped suddenly and stood in front of Franklin, eye to eye with
him.  "My dear Pelham," she said, with a touch of propheticism, "you
will not find the woman in Beatrix, nor will she have discovered the
woman in herself, until that precious moment when, quite conscious of
her abdication of a mock throne, she falls in with your wishes like a
simple trusting child. When that moment comes, if ever it does, I shall
give praise to God, because the woman in Beatrix will be very sweet and
beautiful."

And then they continued on their way through the sleepy gardens.

"So shall I," said Franklin quietly.

"The fact that the pastoral will not be given will help us considerably.
Beatrix, who, by the way, has taken small part in the rehearsals, will
turn for amusement to something else.  Her father and mother both desire
that she shall put an end to gossip and give our good friends no further
excuse to hold her up as the most unconventional girl of the day.  That
sort of reputation so rightly belongs to young women of the stage whose
success depends far more on advertisement than talent.  Where is your
yacht?"

"Lying in the river, fully commissioned."

"Oh, well, then everything is easy!  Surely nothing could be more
delightful for Beatrix than to make a cruise under these romantic
circumstances.  Leave it all to me, my dear boy.  I’ll see that you get
your wife to yourself, never fear."

Beatrix ran her arm round Aunt Honoria’s waist. "Well," she said, with
the smile that she always used when it was urgently necessary to win a
heart, "am I to be allowed in this conference, or am I a back number in
the family now?"  She had watched this intimate talk between Miss
Vanderdyke and Franklin with growing uneasiness.  Finally, in the middle
of one of Ida Larpent’s best stories, she had sprung up, made short work
of the distance between herself and them and broken into the
conversation.

"We were talking about you, my dear," said Aunt Honoria.

"No!" cried Beatrix.  "Impossible!"

Franklin caught her mocking glance and dug his heels into the path.

"We were making plans for you, charming plans, honeymoon plans as a
matter of fact, and as the pastoral is cancelled you will no doubt fall
in with them with enthusiasm."

"The pastoral cancelled?  Why?"  The girl’s voice was incredulous.  "But
I’ve been to all the trouble of getting a special costume, nearly all
the younger people in the house-party have been chosen on purpose."

"Our friend the matinée idol has flown away to pick up a bigger seed
elsewhere."

A flush of anger colored Beatrix’s face and her eyes glinted.  "He said
something to me this morning about motion pictures.  I thought he was
endeavoring to advertise himself.  I never dreamed he would have the
impertinence to chuck _us_!"

"Well, his withdrawal simplified things, my dear, as I will tell you
later.  Come to my room ten minutes before dinner and I will give you
the latest family plan. In the meantime, two’s company, and I will get a
few words with my old friend, the Admiral, who is wandering about like a
lost soul."  Aunt Honoria nodded and with her shoulders as square as
those of a well-drilled man, went gracefully to where the septuagenarian
lover was either chewing the cud of bitter reflection or recovering from
a long bout of exaggerated and over-emphasized commonplaces.

And then Beatrix turned sharply to Franklin.  "Be good enough to tell me
what all this means," she said.

Franklin showed his teeth in his peculiar silent laugh. "Why put a pin
through Miss Vanderdyke’s little surprise?"

Beatrix intended to know.  Her curiosity was alight.  It was so obvious
that she had been under discussion and as the family was to be dragged
in, so certain that she was going to be coerced into something totally
against her wishes.  But she changed her tactics.

"Oh, look," she cried, "isn’t that sail perfectly charming against the
sky?"

"Corking," said Franklin, not looking at it, but at her.  By Jupiter,
how lovely, how desirable, but how amazingly perverse she was!  A man
would have not lived for nothing who could break her and make her, even
if she never returned his love.

"It’s a good world," she said, with a little sigh, waiting to catch
Franklin on the hop.  "Sometimes I’m consumed with a longing to be right
away in the middle of the sea—to get even with things."

She caught him.  It was uncanny.  "The chance is yours," he said, easily
beaten.  "It has been decided that we go for our honeymoon on the
_Galatea_."

She whipped around.  "Oh, so that’s it, is it? You’ve been working up a
conspiracy to get me on your yacht so that you may escape from gossip?
I see. Quite clever to enrol my family against me, but my answer to you
this afternoon holds good."

For all the love that had come upon him so suddenly, Franklin lost
patience.  He put his hand on her arm and held her in a close grip.
"Let it hold good," he said.  "Stand out against being my wife until you
see sense and learn that others deserve consideration besides yourself.
But conform now to your people’s wishes and put York off the scent.
That’s all you’re required to do at the moment."

"Take your hand away," said Beatrix icily.  "This is not a woman’s
bedroom.  I can call for help here remember."

Franklin retained his grip.  He was very angry. "You fool," he said, too
completely out of control to choose his words.  "Look at this thing
sanely.  Come out of your house of cards and play the game like a grown
woman.  The scandal that drove you into taking advantage of me will be
ten thousand times worse if York gets to work."

"That doesn’t worry me," said Beatrix calmly. "I’ll thank you for my
arm."

"You don’t count," said Franklin.  "Consideration must be given to your
people and to me."

"I’m perfectly willing and even anxious to protect my people, but"—and
she gave him two fearless eyes—"I see no reason why I should worry about
you."

"Why not?  Where would you be now but for my having come to the rescue?"

Beatrix gave a most tantalizing laugh.  "When you learned to play the
trumpet you were a good pupil, Mr. Franklin.  Any other man would have
done as well, you know."

Franklin dropped her arm.  "Good God," he said, "you beat me.  I can’t
compete with you.  I might just as well try to drive sense into a
lunatic."

It was good, it was worth being alive to Beatrix to see this man, this
fine, strong, clean-built, square-shouldered man, who had dared to
conceive the remote possibility of humbling her for what she had done,
who had had the sublime audacity to believe that he could teach her a
lesson, standing impotent before her, self-confessedly her inferior,
when it came to wits.  She showed it in her smile, in her almost bland
and child-like glee, in her frank pleasure.  He had said a thing to her
that no man should ever have said to a woman and expect to be forgiven.
She would remember it as long as she lived and make him pay for it and
pay and pay again.

"Even lunatics have their sane moments," she said. "Mine come whenever I
think about you.  Isn’t that Malcolm Fraser on the terrace?  How
delightful. Suppose we go back now, after yet another of our little
wrangles, shall we?"

She stood silhouetted against the darkening sky, with her hands behind
her back, her head held high, the very epitome of utter carelessness,
the last word in individualism, the thoughtless and selfish enjoyment of
the moment and of life generally so long as it was without
responsibility, concentration, or a call to do anything for anybody but
herself.

"Count me out, please," said Franklin.  "You must get out of this
business in your own way.  I shall leave here to-night and go to sea.  I
wish you luck."

He bowed, turned on his heel and walked away, and as he went, he hoped
that he might never see that girl again.



                                  *XV*


"Now, old man," said Franklin when at last he found himself with Malcolm
Fraser, "let’s get out of earshot of this chattering crowd and come up
to things."

"The sooner the better," said Fraser.

They left the hall and passed the ball-room, to which everyone with a
sense of rhythm, even if with no ear for music, had been drawn by the
irresistible syncopation of a large banjo band of colored musicians.
The drummer was already committing demented acts upon a scavenger
collection of tins, boxes, and whistles. They went out into the
moonlight and through the gardens to the summer house.

The dynamic energy which radiated from Franklin did much, so far as
Fraser was concerned, to spoil the exquisite peace and lassitude of the
night.  All the poet in him gave him the keys with which to open some of
the unnoticed doors to Nature’s storehouses of beauty and called him to
stand very still and fill his brain and soul with the sight that met his
eyes.  He had never felt prouder of his country than when he revelled in
the picture of the moon-touched Sound, magic with the reflection of a
multitude of stars, and ran his eyes along the dim outline of shore to
his right and caught the bright eyes of thousands of cheerful lights.
It seemed to him that Nature, with the proud consciousness of her genius
as an artist, had outdone herself in setting a scene for the human
comedy in which he had been cast for the second male part.  Water and
moon and stars, the mystery of night, the feeling of illimitable space,
the scent of sleeping flowers, the whisper of fairies, all as old and
even older than the hills—surely this was an appropriate setting for the
working out of the ancient and inevitable drama, the ever-recurring
clash, between a man and a woman.

"Go ahead, Pel," he said.  "This morning in New York you left this
strange story of yours at the point where the entrance of York into it
made you decide to marry Beatrix.  I have not got the novelist’s brain
so I can’t for the life of me see what can have happened in the chapter
that has been begun since then."

"My dear chap," said Franklin, flinging the end of a cigarette over the
wall, "don’t you know that more impossible things are done every hour in
life than ever find their way into books?"

"Yes, I know that."

"Well, the thing that I should have thought the very limit of
impossibility happened here, on this very spot, this afternoon when I
got back.  Take a guess."

Fraser’s answer came quickly.  "Beatrix loves you."

There was no mirth in Franklin’s laugh.  "Guess again."

"You love Beatrix."

"A precious clever fellow, aren’t you?  What the devil made you get to
love so quickly?  I expected you to flounder through a dozen guesses and
then be wide of the mark."

"A man and a woman and love," said Fraser. "Why hire a detective to make
a mystery of that? It’s any poet’s job."

Franklin kicked the wall viciously.  "There’s nothing for a poet in
this," he said.  "I do love this girl. I wish to God I didn’t.  I’d give
ten years of my life if she left me as cold as a flapping fish.  You
know what we talked over this morning.  We decided that there was only
one way for me to get out honestly of that fool maze in which I’d been
caught.  The reasons were pretty obvious.  My family and the Vanderdykes
were at the mercy of that glossy charlatan and because of the
ungovernable impulses of this ... this—what in thunder _is_ the right
word for Beatrix?  I give it up."

"Undiscovered girl.  Will that do?"

"No," said Franklin.  "Not a bit like it."

"Well, then, dollar-ruined, misnamed victim of a false civilization.
How’s that?"

"Too long and too pedantic.  I wanted one word. However, let it go.
What’s it matter?  It’s a waste of words to describe her and a waste of
time to consider her.  When I put things to her plainly and bluntly, she
told me to go to the devil.  I sent for you to use your influence,
hoping, as of course you can see, that she might come down to solid
things and see sense,—hoping too that, married, I might be able to force
my way into her heart, if she’s got one."

"Oh, yes, she’s got one."

"I doubt it.  Very highly finished watch works is all the heart she’s
got.  However, since that first talk we’ve had another and that’s made
your kindness in coming here utterly useless."

Fraser turned eagerly towards his friend.  He had no hope of ever being
any more to Beatrix than an art student can be to a very perfect
Gainsborough at which he gazes from behind a rail.  He could neither buy
her nor win her.  She was completely out of his reach. Not able to marry
her himself, he would rather see her married to Franklin than any living
man. "Why?" he asked.

"Because I’m off.  I’m out.  I’m through.  I’m not an expert in love.
As a matter of fact I’m a boob in the business.  It’s new to me.  But
it’s hit me good and hard, old son, and with any encouragement or with
half a chance, I’d go for it with everything decent that’s in me."

"Go for it," said Fraser, with an odd thrill in his voice.  "You have
all the luck."

Franklin shook his head.  "No.  I’ve done.  She has no use for me.  She
mocks me, twists me round her finger, holds me up by the scruff of the
neck, gets more fun out of me than if I were a red-nosed comedian and
nearly drives me to murder.  I just _have_ to get away.  I’m going
to-night."

"To-night?  But my dear old Pel, you—you only found out that you loved
her a few hours ago."

"Quite long enough."

"But, good Lord, you _must_ let me see what I can do.  When we were kids
I used to have some influence with her.  That is, once or twice she did
things for my sake.  To chuck the whole thing now, when it looks far
more serious than ever,—why Pel, my dear man, talk about ungovernable
impulses——"

"Oh, I know," growled Franklin.  "We’re both tarred with the same brush.
We’re both money-maniacs. However, in perfectly cold blood, standing
here to-night, I assure you that I am better out of her way.  I can’t
help her.  She won’t be helped.  She doesn’t give a red cent for
anything that may happen. All she cares about is just to go laughing
through the moment.  Well, let her.  But she’ll have to go alone. I love
her in the sort of way that makes me want to choke her when she starts
her tricks.  That’s the truth. I’m sorry.  I don’t want to be unsporting
and all that but, Malcolm, she isn’t safe with me."  His voice shook as
he said this thing.

"Wait until the morning," said Fraser urgently. "Let me show her the
mess she’s in."

"Can’t be done," said Franklin.  "I’ve told Albert to put my things in
the car and I’m off to town right away.  I shall go aboard in the
morning and weigh anchor at two o’clock.  I’ll wait for you till then
and not a second later."  He laid his hand on Fraser’s shoulder.  "Get
your things and come now.  There’s nothing to do here, worse luck."

"In any case," said Fraser, "I want to have a bit of a talk with Beatrix
now that I’m here."

"All right.  Well, then, so long, Malcolm.  It was mighty good of you to
come.  Don’t fail to be in time to-morrow."  He turned and went, walking
quickly and waking all the flowers with his energy.

Fraser watched him go,—his tall, wiry, square-shouldered, muscular
figure thrown out against the moon-silvered stone-work of the terrace.
Then he turned back to the scene that filled his brain with imagery and
that inarticulate worship which is offered by all good students to the
Master for the perfection of His work.  The silence sang.  Many of the
shore lights had gone out.  But the moon rode high and the stars were at
their brightest.  The faint breeze had fallen away.  Fraser raised his
hand above his head in a sort of salute and then wheeled round and
followed Franklin toward the elephantine house that made a huge black
patch against the transparent sky.  As he got nearer to it the music of
a Hula-Hula thing came to him,—a fascinating, hip-moving mixture that
suggested both Hawaii and Broadway and he could see the dancers flitting
past the open windows of the ball-room. Among them was Beatrix, in the
arms of one of those spineless semi-professional dancing men, a new,
curious and uncomfortable breed that has developed in New York since the
craze carried it on to its feet. Her mouth was open and her teeth
gleaming and her young body moving with exquisite grace and ease.

Fraser went up to one of the windows and watched her until the tune came
to an end.  Every man has a dream.  Somewhere or other in the life of
men, all men, there is one precious, priceless thing tucked away in the
secret drawer of the heart.  Beatrix, as a little, frank, fearless girl,
lived and was glorified, for Fraser.

He allowed himself just one short sigh.  "And now," he said to himself,
"to show for the first time in history that a poet can be a man of
action for the sake of a friend.  If I fail, I’ll, yes, I’ll eat and
drink my self-filling pen."


It was one o’clock the next day when Franklin left the chart-room of the
_Galatea_, where he had been planning out a cruise with the skipper.  He
went on deck. All hands had been busily at work since early morning,
cleaning and polishing.  The yacht looked like a beautiful woman, fresh
from the hands of manicure and maid.

There was a shout of "Galatea ahoy" from the port side.  Franklin took
no notice.  It was probably the arrival of the last boat-load of stores.
He stood with his arms behind him and his mind back in the Vanderdyke
gardens with the afternoon sun aslant upon them, and as he watched the
retreating figure of the imperious girl to whom he was less than the
dust, a mere pawn to be moved when it was necessary in her game, the
amazing thrill which had discovered to him the love that was to be the
greatest thing in his life, ran all over him again, and shook him with
its strength and passion.

Well, he was bolting from her, bolting because he was afraid.  It was
the act of a coward, perhaps, but that girl had the power of making
queer creatures of men.  And he did not intend to be one of them.  That
was all.

A laugh, taken up by the breeze and thrown past his ear like the petal
of a flower, turned him round. Unable to believe his eyes, he saw
Beatrix, Ida Larpent and Malcolm Fraser, standing on deck, while luggage
was being piled about them.  Fraser waved his hand triumphantly.  Mrs.
Larpent gave one of her slow smiles and Beatrix, with the expression of
an angel and a touch of timidity and even humbleness that Franklin had
never seen before, came forward.  "Come aboard, sir," she said, with a
very proper salute.  "Malcolm showed me the error of my ways last night
and like a good and faithful wife I am going on my honeymoon."

And then the old Beatrix returned and a mocking smile turned Franklin’s
heart to ice.



                                 *XVI*


Franklin was a man who inherited a horror of scenes.  If he saw a crowd
in the street reinforced by running figures he turned on his heel and
went the other way.  Anything in the nature of an argument sent him out
into the street.  He was at any time perfectly willing to fight, either
for the sake of the exercise or to punish an offender, but he shied at a
fracas, a domestic wrangle or the remote possibility of placing himself
in a position of being surrounded by many people all talking at the same
time.  He had camped in solitary places, and communed with nature in her
forest cathedrals.  He liked the silences.

The moment that this amazing boat-load came aboard the _Galatea_ he saw
himself plunged into a scene, if ever there was one.  Malcolm Fraser was
bursting with information and explanations.  Mrs. Larpent gave every
indication of the fact that she felt that some justification for her
presence was required, and behind Beatrix’s impish laugh there was a
high-spirited story waiting to be told.

Just for one moment Franklin stood bare-headed in front of Beatrix
completely and utterly nonplussed. She was the last person on earth whom
he had expected to see on the yacht.  He had, indeed, made up his mind
never to see her again.—to cut and run from the pain of her, the
allurement, the overwhelming attraction. He gazed at her as if she had
fallen from the clouds. He had been treated like a child again, "used"
once more, and he was angry, but as he took in her charming appearance,
the calm audacity of her expression, the indescribable loveliness of her
face, he rejoiced. Then he pulled himself together and tried to perform
the operation of smiling as a new husband should. "You’re in excellent
time," he said, and gave a shout, caught the eye of the mate and
beckoned him to come forward.  "Get everything ready for Mrs. Franklin
and Mrs. Larpent.  Look alive and have Mr. Fraser’s things taken down to
his stateroom at once."

The mate was English.  "Aye!  Aye, sir!"  He was also young and sandy
and somewhat precocious, and from the tail-end of his eye there came a
look of deep admiration for the owner’s wife, whom he now saw for the
first time.

"Stop a minute," said Franklin.  "I don’t see anything of your maid,
Beatrix.  You’ll never be able to get along without her."

"You’re very thoughtful," said Beatrix, graciously. "Anyone would think
you had been on a honeymoon before."  And then she laughed.  "For some
reason or other Helene is very much afraid of you.  I brought her, but
evidently she’s hidden behind something,—the baggage probably."  She
called "Helene," and the pretty face and compact figure of the young
Breton appeared reluctantly from behind several huge innovation trunks,
hat-boxes, boot-cases, cabin-trunks, and the Lord knows what
besides,—enough, as it seemed to Franklin, to supply half a dozen wives
with unnecessaries.

"Perhaps you’ll go below with Mr. Jones and make your own arrangements.
Otherwise, I’m afraid you won’t be very comfortable."

Beatrix smiled in her best social manner.  "It’s too bad to put you to
all this inconvenience and worry," she said.  "I’m so sorry, but I dare
say we shall all fit in with perfect ease and comfort.  More like a
young liner than a yacht, isn’t she?  And who named her the _Galatea_?
So terribly suitable, as little Mrs. Reeves would say.  Lead the way,
Mr. Jones."

There was a touch of almost navy etiquette about the way in which the
mate saluted and obeyed.

Beatrix beckoned to Helene, who was as frightened as a rabbit at sight
of dogs, and the little party went below.  Franklin watched her go, saw
her look about her with a touch of perfectly simple excitement, envied
the sun as she put up her face to catch it and the friendly smile with
which she rewarded the mate.  "If only," he said to himself, "if only——"

And then Mrs. Larpent came forward.  There was a most curious little
smile round her very red lips and wide nostrils, and a whole dictionary
of meaning in her eyes.  "You must be a little surprised to see——"

Franklin cut her short.  "Not at all.  Delighted!" he said, bluntly.
"Would you be good enough to follow Beatrix and take your choice of
staterooms?  I will endeavor to get a stewardess for you before we
sail."

"Thanks, so much!" said Ida Larpent, making no attempt to disguise her
sense of triumph at being on the yacht.  "How delightful it will be to
get away from the land and its people for a time.  I congratulate you on
the _Galatea_."

Franklin waited until she had disappeared and then strode over to
Malcolm Fraser, who was watching the arriving baggage, took his arm and
marched him out of ear-shot of the crew.  "What the devil have you done?
You call yourself a friend and land me in this mess!"  His voice was
thick with anger.

Fraser looked as astonished as he felt.  "But you called me down to the
Vanderdykes to do this very thing," he said.  "I’ve done it.  What’s the
trouble?"

"You colossal idiot!" said Franklin.  "Haven’t you imagination enough to
see it for yourself?  Have you forgotten every blessed thing that I told
you last night?  You haven’t persuaded this girl to come aboard to
oblige her people or to keep my name out of the papers.  She doesn’t
give a solitary curse whether hers is in them or not.  She’s come just
to have the satisfaction of playing with fire, and has brought Ida
Larpent because she knows instinctively that she is the last woman on
earth I care to see her with or have on the _Galatea_."

All the way back to town, Fraser had been congratulating himself on
having achieved the impossible. He opened his mouth to speak.

"I think you’d better dry up," said Franklin, "and give me time to cool
down.  At this moment I feel like pitching you overboard."  He turned on
his heel, went forward and stood, with his hands thrust into his
pockets, gazing down the river.

Like all poets, Malcolm Fraser was a very sensitive person.  He was
deeply hurt at the way in which his efforts were received by the man for
whom he had a very deep regard.  Like all poets,—even those who confine
themselves to gloomy verses, to graves and broken hearts and wind in the
trees,—he was an optimist.  He had made up his mind that he had only to
get Beatrix away to sea with Franklin to bring romance into their very
strange, exotic story.  He held the belief,—shared by many
philosophers,—that in most cases love is the outcome of
propinquity,—especially at sea.  He didn’t possess much, but he would
give it all to watch the girl he loved become a woman and find herself
for love of his friend.  He threw a sympathetic glance at the square
shoulders of his friend, and went below to his own familiar stateroom.
From this he could hear Beatrix’s merry laugh. She, at any rate, seemed
to be happy, and that was something.  He could not for the life of him
understand,—with his friend’s confession still warm in his memory,—why,
he, too, was not in the seventh heaven of delight at the fulfilment of
what had yesterday seemed to be a dream.  To the amazing
unconventionality of the whole affair he gave no thought.  He was an
artist.

Finally, and with a huge effort to master his anger and amazement, joy
and sense of impending trouble, Franklin summed things up to the best of
his ability: "Here’s Beatrix," he said to himself, "not married to
me,—supposedly on our honeymoon.  I love her like an idiotic
school-boy—she loathes me like the devil. Here’s Ida Larpent, out for
everything that she can get, playing her own hand with all the cunning
of a card-sharp.  Here’s Fraser, one of the very best, a man with a
heart of gold to whom friendship means loyalty, with a love for Beatrix
which has outlasted his boyhood.  And almost in sight of us all is the
open sea.  Great Scott, what a mess!"

And then Captain McBean stood at his elbow. "Orders stand, sir?"

"Of course," said Franklin.  "But before we put off do what you can to
get a stewardess aboard for Mrs. Larpent.  You had better send Jones
ashore. He has a wide smile and does things pretty quick, and,—wait a
second, Captain,—let him bring back all the latest novels that he can
find.  We shall need something to keep the ladies busy."

The Captain chuckled.  He had been married twice.



                                 *XVII*


The _Galatea_ was under way at two o’clock,—a clear, bright, sparkling
afternoon with a hot sun, a transparent sky and hardly a puff of wind.
Built on thorough sea-going lines, newly painted and in apple-pie order
and carrying a crew of forty men she was, as well she might be, the envy
of passing craft.  Men who knew, ran their eyes along her graceful lines
with admiration and took pleasure in her swan-like movement.  Others on
tugboats, shifting a quid, made rough guesses as to her daily cost in
the manner of women talking over the clothes, jewels and spendings of a
distinguished leader of society.

About one-thirty two things happened,—the first of them comic, the other
not without a touch of pathos. The sandy-headed mate, Horatio Jones,
whose middle name of Nelson was dropped by him with a sneaking sense of
its unfitness, had used his wide smile and glib tongue to some purpose
and returned to the yacht with Mrs. O’Dowd after a busy thirty minutes.
The young Irish, childless, wife of a sea-faring friend of his, she was
not above earning good wages as stewardess and taking a look at the
world, her husband being away. Also he brought with him a heterogeneous
box full of what the book-seller had called the latest novels, but some
of them had been out six months and so were in ripe old age.  There was
no time to make much of a choice, but Jones had, as usual, looked after
himself by seeing that his collection included Rex Beach, Jack London,
Irvin Cobb, Robert Chambers, Gene Stratton-Porter and Sinclair Lewis.
It was simply to make up weight that he threw in Wells, Walpole,
Dunsany, Lucas Malet, Conrad, Galsworthy, and other drawing-room
"geezers," as he called them.  They meant nothing to him.  He handed
Mrs. O’Dowd over to the chief steward and with an air of pride and
satisfaction followed the case down to the library and arranged its
pristine contents in a long alluring line on the centre table.  It
seemed to him that the hardly-ever read sporting and technical volumes
behind the glass of all the cases turned up their noses in contempt.

The pathetic incident was the unexpected arrival of little Mrs. Lester
Keene, who came on board with the air of a moving picture heroine chased
by at least six desperate and obviously made up villains armed to the
teeth.  A little bag into which she had placed all her small items of
jewelry and other treasures was clutched in one agitated hand and she
carried an umbrella in the other.  She was one of those women who regard
an umbrella as the patent of respectability rather than as a weapon of
service.  She took it with her walking or driving,—wet or fine.  It was
a fetish, an institution.  Deprived of her umbrella she would have felt
like an actor without his daily advertisement or an Oxford Don caught
naked by a chambermaid.  She was assisted aboard, with many gasps, by a
deck hand, and drew up, expecting apparently to see pirates and the
skull and cross bones.  Franklin turned and saw her and smiled a
welcome.

For some reason which he didn’t endeavor to define he was glad to see
the admirable little woman who had won his complete respect and
admiration in her endeavor to put up a fight in Beatrix’s bedroom that
memorable night.  "My dear Mrs. Keene," he said, holding out his hand,
"I’m delighted to see you. Welcome to the _Galatea_!  I was wondering
how it was that my wife came to leave you behind."

Mrs. Keene bridled with indignation.  "Your wife?" she said.  "Well,
this is really a most extraordinary country."

"I beg your pardon," said Franklin, "I should have said Miss
Vanderdyke."  It had seemed to him quite natural to use the word "wife."

"That’s why I have come," said Mrs. Keene, her rather loose skin
wabbling nervously.  "Need I say more?"

"Nothing more, but I must ask you at once to oblige me by remembering
that everybody on this yacht believes, and must continue to believe,
that Miss Vanderdyke is Mrs. Franklin.  You know why as well as I do.
That is understood, of course."  His question, behind which there was
very palpably the suggestion of a drastic course of action, achieved a
bow from Mrs. Keene.  He then pointed to a small suit-case.  "Is that
all you’ve brought?"

"I had no time to pack anything else," she said. "Where is Beatrix?"

"Below, settling for the cruise."

"The cruise?  Is this to be a cruise?  Can nothing prevent this rash
act?"

Franklin shook his head.  "You know Beatrix, Mrs. Keene."

The little woman, who had great grit and even heroism beneath her
indecisive and fluttering exterior, drew herself up.  "Very good," she
said, "I shall do what I conceive to be my duty."  All the same she
threw an anxious glance about her.  It was quite obvious that she was
looking for life-belts, life-boats, rafts and all the other
paraphernalia of shipwrecks.  No one could guess, nor did she herself
quite realize, the immensity of her triumph of mind over matter in
trusting herself at sea or the extent of the damage to her sense of
propriety that was made by her being obliged to lend her countenance to
a quite indescribable proceeding. If she had imagined that she would
ever find herself a companion to a young woman who went for a honeymoon
with a man to whom she had not been married she would willingly have
starved in London or taken a position as a waitress in an A.B.C. shop.

"I was not well last night," she said, with a quiver in her voice.  "I
had one of my most severe attacks of neuralgia.  I overslept myself this
morning.  I can only think that Beatrix left me behind because she was
too thoughtful to disturb me.  Mr. Franklin, I am not very strong.  I
have had a terrible time to get here. You must please forgive my
agitation."

Franklin felt thoroughly inclined to put his arm round the tremulous
lady’s shoulder and say, "There, there!" as Beatrix always did, and
soothe her with soft words.  It seemed to him that she was, with her
pedantic and old-fashioned ideas, rather like the Dodo in the century to
which he belonged, or that she resembled a faded stuffed canary under a
glass case in a room furnished and painted by cubists.  "You will find
your stateroom very comfortable," he said, "and I will do all that I can
to make you happy and contented.  I’m very glad you’ve come."

"Thank you!  You are kinder than my former experience led me to expect.
And now, please, where are the stairs?"

Franklin smothered his laugh.  He was glad for her sake that the mate
was not in earshot.  He called up one of the deck boys.  "Take Mrs.
Lester Keene below," he said, "and tell the chief steward to look after
her."

It so happened that Mrs. Keene was immediately seen by Beatrix, and
before Franklin moved away he heard her high, clear voice.  "Brownie,
you darling! Fancy seeing you here.  I left you with red flannel round
your face.  You must have come by aeroplane."  And then he heard the
sound of someone bursting into tears and moved away.

It was not until the _Galatea_ had left her mooring well behind her that
Malcolm Fraser screwed up his courage to face his friend.  He found
Franklin forward with his arms folded and a pipe between his teeth,
watching the amazing skyline of the receding city, and running his eyes
over the great docks that lined the banks of the river, the gigantic
ferries, the impertinent tugs and a transatlantic liner being edged inch
by inch into her berth, her portside all a-flutter with waving
handkerchiefs.

For several minutes Fraser stood shoulder to shoulder with his best pal,
waiting for him to turn.  He would have waited for an hour without a
word because he had the rare gift of imagination and therefore of
sympathy.  The two are twins.  But presently Franklin turned and there
was an irresistible twinkle in his eyes.  "Now then," he said, as though
continuing a conversation, "how the blazes did you do it?"

To Fraser that twinkle was worth a great deal. "Do you want to know the
details, old man?"

"’Course I do.  Women aren’t the only curious animals on earth, y’
know."

"After you had left," said Fraser gravely, "I tackled Beatrix.  I had to
wait until the dance was over and most of the people had gone to bed.
Oddly enough I caught her at a moment when she was more like the little
simple girl with whom I used to play games as a kid than I’ve seen her
for years.  Perhaps it was due to the moon or the stars,—or both. Anyway
she took my arm and we wandered into the garden and for quite a long
time we talked of the old days and some of the things that she used to
dream about.  I think the fairies must have been dancing somewhere near.
Then I switched things round to the present and told her, pretty
plainly, what I conceived it to be her duty to do to retrieve herself.
I spoke to her honestly and bluntly, like a brother, and she was very
patient and listened to me without a word.  I didn’t exaggerate things
at all.  I didn’t see how I could. They’ve gone to the whole lengths of
exaggeration already.  I talked about her family and their wholesome
desire to avoid scandal, and I painted a picture of what York could do
to put the name of Vanderdyke, which stands so high, into the kitchen,
the garage and the reeking saloon.  I pointed out that if, for the first
time in her life, she didn’t do something all against the grain she
would jeopardize the noble efforts of Aunt Honoria and outrage all the
endeavors of her father and mother to build up an aristocracy in this
country.  I believe I must have talked for half an hour and all the time
she sat with her hands clasped together and the moonlight on her face,
more beautiful than I have ever seen her look and more like the child
that she used to be before she discovered the intolerance of wealth and
had been spoiled by the obsequiousness of everybody round her.  Just
when I thought that I had won my point and was beginning to feel the
warm glow of triumph, she got up.  ’My dear old Malcolm, no wonder you
write poetry,’ she said.  ’You are a sort of cherub, my dear.  You have
a head—a very nice head—and two wings, and that’s all.  All the same
there is much heart in your eloquence and an immense amount of common
sense.  The only thing is, I don’t intend to marry Pelham Franklin under
any circumstances whatever, so God bless you, old boy, and good night.’
And with that she turned away, sang a little song and foxtrotted through
the gardens on to the terrace and into the house.  Presently I saw a
light in her window, gave the whole thing up and went off to bed with my
tail between my legs.  Imagine my surprise when about eight o’clock this
morning a discreet man-servant brought me a letter from her. Here it
is."  He slipped it out of his pocket and read it aloud:


"Dear Poet:

"I have altered my mind just to prove to you that I am a woman after
all, little as you think so.  Also,—two reasons are better than
one,—because I am bored stiff and have decided to take a cruise on the
_Galatea_.  But you must come, because we shall need a fourth at
bridge,—make that an absolute stipulation,—and Mrs. Larpent will make
the third.  Pack your little trunk, dear Malcolm, and be ready
immediately after breakfast. Heigh-ho, for the wind and the sea."


"H’m," said Franklin, "she beats me."



                                *XVIII*


As he sat down to dinner that night in the admirable saloon, wholly
devoid of the frills and furbelows which are so dear to the hearts of
incurable landlubbers, Franklin threw an amused glance at Malcolm
Fraser, who read it, laughed and signalled back.  "Yes, by Jove, a very
different table from the one we’re used to! How about compensations?"

Franklin looked from one guest to another, with close scrutiny.  He
caught the meaning of Fraser’s mental question.  Compensation?

Beatrix Vanderdyke, dressed as though she were a woman of thirty bound
for the opera,—in the highest spirits, her laugh ringing out frequently;
Mrs. Claude Larpent, with her irresistible touch of Paris, her fingers
gleaming with rings and a queer Oriental stone which might have been the
eye of some skeptical god watching everyone from her hair; and Mrs.
Lester Keene, the very epitome of the Kensington of Thackeray’s time,
her nondescript hair, much touched with grey, scrupulously drawn back
from her forehead, her mouse-colored dress lightened by a lace thing
round her shoulders which might easily have been an anti-macassar.

Malcolm Fraser also ran his eye round the table at which he had hitherto
seen the open, healthy faces and square shoulders of Franklin’s sporting
friends.  He was not at all sure,—perhaps because he was a poet,—that
this new sight was not more pleasant to him than the old one.  There
was, however, one question that he asked himself again.  "Why Mrs.
Larpent?"  He was not in any sense of the word a man of the world. He
believed that all women were chaste and devoid of guile, but there was
something about Mrs. Larpent which made him a little sorry to see her in
the company of Beatrix,—he didn’t know why.  The portholes were open, as
the night was hot.  They framed round patches of a sky pitted with
stars.  The steady conscientious pulse of the engines and the slight
swing of the yacht were the only indications of her activity. An
excellent dinner was being served by four expert stewards who had
devoted the most minute care in the decoration of the table in honor of
"Mrs. Franklin."  In the gallery a string quartette with piano was
playing _Bohême_, almost to perfection.  There was just the slightest
inclination on the part of the pianist to syncopate the music.  The poor
wretch had been doomed to a cabaret for two seasons.

Franklin, partly recovered from his shock, was determined to make the
best of things.  The sight of Beatrix in all the glory of her youth was
a delight to him.  It filled him with joy and pride to see her sitting
in that yacht of his, which he regarded as home. His blood danced every
time that her laugh rang out. She added something to the atmosphere of
the saloon which he had always subconsciously missed and desired.
Nevertheless he told himself, and believed it to be true, that he had
routed out of his mind every thought of making her his wife, even in
name.  Her dislike of him, expressed very definitely, and now shown by
the aloof but perfectly courteous way in which she included him in the
conversation, made the mere idea of such a thing impossible and absurd.
She was on board to please herself, to carry out a whim and an impulse
to do something new and different, and she had taken care to surround
herself with a body guard in order to protect her.  He saw all that and
shrugged his shoulders.  He said, as he had said over and over again,
"She beats me.  I can’t compete with her.  I give it up.  She must have
her head.  At any rate all this will do something to put York off the
scent, so what’s the use of worrying?  I bow the knee to autocracy."
That was the mood of the man who had never hitherto allowed himself to
be beaten by men or beasts. Women were not included in this list for the
simple reason that they had never been permitted to interfere with his
way of life.

As for Beatrix, she was not thinking, dissecting or going to the mental
bother of introspection.  She was enjoying a new sensation, delighting
in the thrill of a dangerous and what would be to most girls an
inconceivable adventure.  She looked upon the whole thing as merely an
episode, an act in the drama of her life, and with enough sense of
excitement to spur her on played her part of Franklin’s wife with one
appreciative eye on herself.  She believed that York would carry out his
threat, knowing the man as well as she did, and she knew that as soon as
the whole house of cards fell flat, as it was bound to do, her family,
headed by Aunt Honoria, would punish severely. They would spoil her life
at least for a year.  She had gone on the cruise because the word
"yacht" had filled her with the desire to smell the sea and try a new
form of amusement.  That was all.  Franklin, either as a man or an
enemy, or as one who had come to her rescue, counted for nothing.  He
meant no more to her than Captain McBean or Mr. Horatio Jones.  He was
merely the means of providing her with the antidote against boredom.
She was out to enjoy a new experience at his expense.  Hurrah for the
open sea! Sufficient for the day, so long as the day was fine and the
people in it kept her merry.

When it came to Ida Larpent and the way in which she regarded her
totally unexpected presence on the _Galatea_, the mental processes of
her mind were as busily at work as the mechanical appliances of the
ship’s engine.  This was no mere joy-ride for her.  It was a business
trip, the chances of which had been grasped eagerly with all the cunning
of a woman who had lived on her wits and brought individualism to a fine
art.  She was going to use every moment to her own ultimate advantage.
The fact that Beatrix had placed her among her favorites was an
admirable step forward.  She was clever enough to know that the sunshine
of the beautiful young autocrat’s smile might at any moment cloud
over,—that her reign as a favorite was most ephemeral.  But she had
already watched things closely and had come to the conclusion that the
marriage which had caused so much rejoicing among the Vanderdykes,
romantic as it seemed, was an empty and hollow affair.  She saw very
plainly that the heart of Beatrix was utterly untouched.  She had yet to
discover precisely how Franklin had been affected.  She was no optimist,
but it seemed to her that Franklin was as cool as Beatrix.  He had,
however, a way of hiding his feelings that would make it necessary for
her to put him under her microscope.  As things appeared on the surface,
at any rate, everything was in her favor. She measured herself against
Beatrix without egotism. The girl had all the advantage of youth and,—as
her knowledge of men told her,—many of the disadvantages. She was going
to set herself with the utmost calculation to stir up Franklin’s
passion.  It seemed to her that the propinquity forced upon them all by
living aboard a yacht would make that easy.  She had examined herself in
the mirror of her stateroom and come to the conclusion that she had
never looked more beautiful or so completely feminine.  Without any
sense of loyalty to Beatrix, to whom she was indebted for this chance,
she had made up her mind to attract Franklin with all the arts that she
possessed.  To become his mistress meant absolute freedom from money
troubles, and that would be excellent.  To become his wife,—well, why
not?  The laws of the country were all in her favor.  Divorce was a
hobby, an institution, and Beatrix was a worshipper at the altar of
Something New.

When it came to Malcolm Fraser, whom Beatrix had called the fourth of
the party,—he was usually the fourth of every party,—what was he but
simply a man who could do no more than enjoy the glamour of the
impossible—a sort of star-gazer!  His love for Beatrix dominated his
secret life and he knew that he could show it only in one way,—by being
her friend.  He had no pain in his heart.  He had no right to possess a
heart at all where she was concerned, but no one could prevent him from
placing her in the throne of it and locking her in.  And so he just
revelled in her presence and was happy.

There remained little Mrs. Lester Keene, the last member of this strange
ill-assorted party, and she, who took everything seriously, and whose
god was convention, was undergoing very genuine suffering.  To be
herself a party to any arrangement so unabashed in its smashing of all
the rules of life was bad enough.  Her self-respect, which meant so much
to her, was deeply wounded, and when she thought of the girl who seemed
to her to be a sort of queen and for whose beauty and purity she had the
most intense admiration and regard, her perturbation became painful,
even tragical.  She suspected Franklin.  Like all women who have gone
through life looking at the truth through a key-hole, herself hidden,
she believed no good of men.  They were all wolves in sheep’s clothing.
They were the enemies of women.  She conceived Franklin to be no
different from those worldly creatures of whom she had read so
frequently in her favorite novels, most of which had been written in the
period of her youth by women.  She was, therefore, most unhappy.  She
was also dreading sea-sickness. Poor little lady, what a combination of
mental disquiet!



                                 *XIX*


Franklin and Fraser left the dining saloon after a brief talk and joined
the ladies in the little used drawing-room.  They found that the
orchestra, which was as much a part of the yacht as the engines and
invariably played Franklin’s favorite melodies during and after dinner,
had been dismissed.  The Victrola was at work instead and the voluptuous
strains of a more than usually saccharine Viennese waltz filled the
charming room.

Franklin drew up short at the door and put his hand on Fraser’s arm.
"Look," he said, quietly.

With absolute lack of self-consciousness and a nymph-like grace, her
lips wearing the smile of a child, Beatrix was dancing and winding her
way between the chairs and little tables.  With her white arms
outstretched and her hands moving like the wings of a bird she seemed to
bring the music to life and to give it a sense of youth and beauty that
turned the room into a moon-struck wood of thin trees.

The two men watched her until the tune ran out and in the hearts of both
were love and desire.

Franklin went quickly to the Victrola, wound it up and started the
record again.

"What a pity you don’t dance, Malcolm," said Beatrix, panting a little.

"But I do," said Franklin, and took her in his arms. He didn’t imagine
himself to be a fine dancer.  He had a healthy contempt of the dancing
man breed,—those anæmic creatures who try so hard to look immaculate and
treat all women with a tedious mixture of familiarity and condescension.
He waltzed well, all the same, with a perfectly straight back, an
excellent sense of time and a steady left arm.  In fact he danced like a
civilized man who had achieved the art of not being noticed in a crowd.

From her deep and comfortable chair under the reading lamp Ida Larpent,
with a determined exposure of lace stocking, watched this little scene
with quiet amusement.  It seemed to her that those two danced like
people who had been married for years. They said nothing.  They didn’t
look at each other. They were as much two people as though they were at
opposite ends of the earth.  The almost grim expression on Franklin’s
face made jealousy impossible. So also did the slight air of social
martyrdom that was all about Beatrix.  Anyone less expert as a
psychologist than Ida Larpent could have told that Beatrix merely
performed a duty.  It would, however, have taken a quite microscopic eye
to have seen the riotous blaze in Franklin’s mind.

To Mrs. Lester Keene’s mid-Victorian way of thinking, this "exhibition,"
as she inwardly called it, watching from behind the new number of
_Vogue_, was singularly bad form.  If she had known the expressive word
"stunt" she would have applied it with all her British horror of such a
thing.

"And now," said Beatrix, when once more the popular tune arrived at its
inevitable and hackneyed conclusion, "for bridge.  Don’t you think so?"

Franklin rang for a steward.  The blood was in his head.  The
intoxication of the girl’s fragrance was all about his brain.  "Good
God," he said to himself, "how am I going to go through this and come
out sane?"

"Splendid," said Mrs. Larpent, putting down "The Dark Flower."  "I’d
love a rubber or two."

"And I," said Fraser,—"that is if you don’t want to play, Mrs. Keene."

"Thank you, but I never touch cards."  The little lady returned to her
astonished examination of the drawings of wispy girls in freak garments.
She invariably waxed almost hectic over the bi-monthly issues of her
favorite journal, every word of which she read with minute care.  It was
to her rather like the thing at which a dog barks consistently and with
a very fever of rage but wouldn’t avoid on any account.

A steward appeared.  "The card table," said Franklin.

"But before we play," said Beatrix, lighting a cigarette, "perhaps
you’ll tell us the geography of the yacht.  Pelham, I won’t sleep
peacefully unless my curiosity is satisfied.  I asked Malcolm at dinner
but he’s apparently as much of a landlubber as I am."  She knew
instinctively that this was the very best way to please Franklin and she
felt that she owed him something for her unsocial manner in the dining
saloon.  She intended to enjoy the cruise and therefore it would be
tactful, to say the least of it, to keep him in a good temper.

Franklin was obviously pleased.  The _Galatea_ was his favorite toy.  He
picked up a photograph album, laid it open on a table and pointed to an
admirable picture of the yacht lying at anchor in the Biscayne Bay.

Beatrix bent over it.  Her dress left very little to the imagination.

"I bought her after the death of her first owner," he said.  "He was an
eccentric invalid, as you will see when I explain certain things.  She
was built in the Clyde about eight years ago.  Her tonnage is sixteen
hundred and seven, length all over three hundred and sixteen feet, beam
thirty-five feet six and she carries a crew of forty, all told.  You can
see how beautiful her lines are.  To my mind she has nothing of her
class to compete against.  It’s true that some sailors carp at one thing
in her appearance,—the way her bridge is placed.  Do you see?  Instead
of being well forward as it usually is, you will notice that it’s away
aft,—only a few feet from the funnel."

"Why?" asked Beatrix, not even mildly interested.

"To prevent anyone from walking over the library. A cranky idea of the
old man I told you about.  In fact the _Galatea_ was designed to meet
his peculiar notions."

"Why not?" said Beatrix.  "He had the money."

"Quite," said Franklin drily.  "Well, this, where my finger is, is the
flush deck, running from the bows to the stern, broken here by a well
between the forecastle head and the fore part of the bridge."

Beatrix laughed.  "You’re a regular sailor, aren’t you?"

Franklin went on.  It was good to be so near to this bewitching girl.
He would have liked to absorb her attention for the whole evening.
"Running aft from the bridge to within forty feet or so of the stern are
all the deck houses.  Do you see?  Here’s the library.  Abaft, here, the
dining saloon.  Continuing aft, on the port side, here, the pantry, the
enclosed space over the engine-room, and on the starboard side a passage
leading to this room and the writing-room."

"And I don’t believe you ever use either," said Beatrix.

"I don’t.  Now look.  The roof and sides of this line of deck houses run
out a few feet beyond the aftermost room.  Do you notice that?"

"So that your malade imaginaire could have a little sheltered nook to
enjoy forty winks in out of the wind?"

"Yes, that was the idea.  Very jolly it is too. Here’s the promenade,
about nine feet broad and smooth as a billiard ball.  It continues
across the forepart of the library and across the afterpart of the line
of deck houses, see?  So that there’s an oblong track round most of the
yacht, covered overhead with a thick awning."

"Ah!  I see myself taking exercise there morning, noon and night."

"We all do," said Malcolm.

"Well, about thirty feet from the stern, here, there’s a double canvas
screen running thwartships from one side to the other, shutting off a
good space for the use of the crew.  Under the forecastle head, on the
main deck, are the officers’ and petty officers’ quarters, very
comfortable and excellent.  Under the library is my sitting-room, which
runs the whole breadth of the ship.  This is where we usually
foregather,—I mean on the bachelor cruises."

"Which are now things of the past," said Beatrix imperturbably.  "Are we
to be permitted to peek into this sanctum some day?"

"Of course."  Franklin’s heart pumped a little.

And then, rising with her peculiar feline grace, Mrs. Larpent joined the
group round the table.  "All these technicalities are Greek to me," she
said.  "I want to know how many guest rooms there are, how many
bathrooms, whether the mirrors are full length, whether you bought all
the rugs from the same place and if so whether you got them cheaper and,
in fact, all those human details that I can understand,—poor,
untechnical me!"

Franklin gave a short laugh but was obviously thrown out.  His
description of the _Galatea_ was in the only language that he knew.  He
was unable to translate it into woman’s talk.

Beatrix was quick to notice his quandary.  Nearly everything that he had
said was altogether beyond her too and gave her no more intimate a
picture of the yacht than she would have obtained from a quick glance at
a blue-print, but, after all, she intended to explore in the morning, so
what did it matter?  Her pricking conscience had alone brought the
matter up. "Never mind about the furniture," she said.  "Go on from
where your finger is, Pelham.  I’m following you with keen intelligence
and boundless interest."

Franklin gave her a grateful smile.  "Well, the windows, here, abaft of
my room on the port side are the cabins of the major-domo, the Captain,
the head steward, the chief engineer, the purser, an officers’ mess
room, the ship’s galley, a steward’s mess room and other cabins.  Over
here on the starboard side are the guest rooms and suites,—twenty all
told. The lower-deck is given up to stores, coal bunkers, the engine
room, the stoke-hold, a stack of electric accumulators which keep the
electric lights going when the engines aren’t working, and the
gymnasium.  The engines are designed not for speed but for smooth
running.  We can whack up to twelve knots an hour but our average is
eight.  Finally we carry an ample supply of boats as well as two steam
launches, one burning coal, the other oil."  He bowed and laughed and
said "I thank you" in imitation of the professional guide, closed the
album and put it away, having thoroughly enjoyed himself.

"And this very beautiful and complete toy," thought Ida Larpent, looking
after the owner of it with calculating envy and admiration, "costs as
much to run per annum as would make an admirable capital for a little
lonely woman.  My dear, you will be throwing away the opportunity of a
life-time if you don’t make yourself very precious to this indecently
wealthy young man."

Then they sat down to bridge.



                                  *XX*


The third day out, the semblance of peace and contentment reigning on
board, the _Galatea_ ran into bad weather.  The barometer had fallen
sharply during the night and the day broke behind a dull grey curtain to
windward which blotted out the horizon and brought heavy rain as it came
over.  Capricious shifts of wind in puffy spells made the awnings rattle
and the sea agitated.  The Captain stuck to his course until the squall
caught him, and then, in deference to the ladies, ran with the sea
astern.  Before four o’clock in the afternoon, however, the wind fell
away and the sky cleared and the sun came out again to the immense
relief of Mrs. Lester Keene, who had given way to seasickness and to
thoughts of disaster and death.

The weather, like nearly everything else, had not affected Beatrix.
With Mrs. Larpent and Malcolm Fraser as spectators, she spent most of
the morning in the gymnasium exercising her limbs and her lungs,—the
former on the bars and rings and the electrically-worked horse, the
latter by frequent bursts of merry laughter and constant talking.  The
newness of her surroundings had not yet worn off.  The sense of being
the heroine of a most daring adventure was still upon her.  Then too,
she found her new friend, whose peculiar beauty had attracted her,
entertaining and, better still, interesting, and her old one as eager to
fetch and carry and as willing to pay her deference as ever.  So far as
Franklin was concerned he remained the man who had said an unforgivable
thing and who was, by accident, her host.  He counted only as such.

But that night, having laid a restraining hand upon herself, Nature, who
does not appear to be happy unless she can exert her power in some way,
churned up a storm on the yacht.  She brought about two incidents which,
both quite unnecessary, did much to make this so-called honeymoon cruise
lose its outward peacefulness.  It is her invariable way.

The first happened before dinner, the second after, and both were led up
to by the clash of temperament. The return of the sun had something to
do with the first.  Its warmth and brightness sent Beatrix’s spirits,
already high, up to set-fair.  Tea was served on deck.  To Franklin’s
inward rage Fraser immediately became the object of Beatrix’s whole
attention.  She called him "Mally," talked almost tenderly about the old
days, drew him out on the subject of books and life and then, utterly
ignoring the others, paced up and down with her arm through his,
listening with the rapt wonder of a little girl while he recited his
recent verses to her.

It was when he had run his not very retentive memory down that she began
to talk about herself. "Mally," she said suddenly, "do you remember a
dream I told you about one spring morning when we were sitting on a log
at the edge of those dear old woods?  You had been ill, I think, and
your mother had sent for you from school to feed you up."

"I remember," said Malcolm.  "You were eight or so, and I had just
struck fifteen and was consumed with the idea that I was a man.  I had
just introduced myself to a razor.  Oh, a great moment in the male
career!"

"Don’t talk so much, Mally dear.  This is my innings.  I told you that I
had dreamed that father had lost all his money, every cent of it, and
was broken and helpless and that mother,—how queerly right it was,—had
gone to bed permanently from the shock, and then I blossomed into a Joan
of Arc because the night before that funny little French governess,
Mademoiselle Hannebigue, had been reading to me about her, and I went
out into the world,—it was New York, of course,—to build up a new
fortune for my unfortunate parents."

"What became of Miss Hannebigue, by the way?"

"That doesn’t matter.  Don’t drag red herrings across our path.  I
became a great artist in about a minute and painted a picture that
caused such a sensation that I sold it to a gorgeous person with a
golden beard and blue eyes for oh, millions and millions of dollars.
And just before some vandal woke me up,—not Hannebigue because she was
in mortal terror of me,—I was carrying it all up to father in a big
brown bag.  Do you remember?"

"Yes, I remember.  Why?"

Beatrix said nothing for a moment, and as Malcolm looked at her
beautiful face and long fine lashes and the little wistful smile on her
lips he saw the fallen log again, and the young birches just broken into
leaf; the little big-eyed girl who had ordered him about and the pair of
new brown shoes that he had put on that day and which hurt him very
much.

"Mally, I never read about Joan of Arc now," she said.  "I’m ashamed.
Never again, as long as I live, shall I ever have a chance to do big
things, and sometimes,—not very often,—but just for a minute when I hear
a wonderful piece of music or see the sun go down as it did last
night,—I wish that father had really lost all his money and I was an
artist or something working for him.  Oh, Mally, old thing, I’m not
really much good these days and I might have been,—I really might have
been.  You’re a poet. You get closer to the angels than ordinary
mortals. What can I do?  How shall I become something? Is there no way
for me to justify having once been able to carry that funny old bulging
bag up to father?"

It was Malcolm’s turn to say nothing for a moment. From where they stood
he could see Franklin’s clean-cut profile as he sat with his chin on his
fist looking out to sea.  And the man who was his friend and whose story
he knew, seemed to look awfully alone and hurt.  And then he spoke,
eagerly, with a great and God-sent unselfishness.  "Dear girl," he said,
"my dear little girl, open your heart to Pel. That’s the way."

The next instant the warm young arm was pulled sharply away from his own
and a scoffing laugh was carried off like a bird.  "Not in this world,"
she cried.  "Not in this world!"

And then, with a little devil on her shoulder, the same little devil
that had made her do all her foolish, impulsive, inconsistent things,
she went over to where Franklin was sitting and stood with one foot on
the deck chair vacated by Ida Larpent, who had found it difficult to get
any attention.  The girl’s brain was suddenly filled with an impish
desire to flick her host’s apparent imperturbability with the whip of
sarcasm.

"Well," she said, putting a note of bonhomie into her voice that
Franklin had never heard before, and liked.  "Thinking,—for a change?"

He got up and stood with his back to one of the iron supports.  "Why for
a change?"  Good Heavens, what a picture she made, standing there!

"I’ve always been under the impression that sportsmen never think."

Franklin laughed.  What did he care what she said so that she spoke to
him, and he saw the flash of her teeth, the gleam of her dimples, the
play of her astounding eyes?  "You mean, being a sportsman, I don’t need
and have not been given, the necessary machinery for thinking?"

"I wouldn’t for a moment go so far as that," she said, with a curiously
expressive gesture which completely contradicted her remark.  "You spend
most of your time on the _Galatea_, don’t you?"

"Yes, as much as I can."

"I don’t wonder.  I’m beginning to understand that there must be
something very satisfying in being the Czar of this little Kingdom,—it’s
really the only way to feel the full power of wealth, unless you work
and control great interests and feed your vanity like that Democracies
worship the monied man, I know, but there is really a touch of the old
feudal system in life on a yacht like this.  Officers and men, forty of
them, are your slaves.  It’s "Yes, sir; No, sir; Come aboard, sir; I’ll
make it so, sir," all day long, and, unlike a mere world, the very yacht
can be ordered to change her course, put in or put out, at your imperial
command.  Yes, I begin to feel the fascination of the life you’ve
chosen."

She said all this thoughtfully, disguising the rank impertinence of it
under a sort of naïve admiration.

It puzzled Franklin.  He was too simple and direct to get her point of
view and not willing to believe that he was being gratuitously
"cheeked."  "You’ve got me wrong," he said.  "I live on the sea because
I like it and because I hate cities and society and newspapers and their
gross publicity.  That’s all."

She knew that he was speaking the truth.  She knew also that her
elaborate sarcasm had missed fire. She tried again.  The little devil
was still on her shoulder.  "Oh, I see," she said, acting astonishment.
"You’re like the little boy who builds a hut in the back yard and forces
himself to believe that he’s hundreds of thousands of miles away from
home.  You come to sea to dodge the responsibilities of real life. You
float lazily about on the water like a sportsman and leave the earth to
be run by mere men.  Well, I daresay there’s something in it.  Hullo,
there goes the first bugle.  I must go and dress."

She nodded and slipped away chortling, perfectly certain that she had
let Franklin see how very little she thought of him, and on the way down
to her suite she flung the little devil away and paid her companion a
visit with all the sympathy and tenderness of a young Madonna.

She was right.  Franklin felt the cut of her whip on his conscience.
Many times recently, during lonely hours, he had cursed himself as a
waster of time and opportunity and wondered how much longer he was going
to be content to be numbered amongst the drones.  All the same he
bitterly resented being flicked by this girl, herself the queen of
drones, who, of all the women alive, had good reason to thank her stars
for his sportsmanship.  And he went below angry, dissatisfied and
indignant.  By jove, he would get one back for this.

His chance came after dinner.  He left Malcolm in the drawing-room
waiting for the bridge table to be set, heard the Victrola on deck and
went out to find Beatrix all alone, dancing like the spirit of spring.
Ida Larpent, seeing something in his eyes that drew her out of her
chair, followed him and hid.  He went up to Beatrix.  "Dance with me,"
he said and took her rather roughly in his arms.  He felt the urge of
holding her as he had never felt it before.  His very anger fired his
passion.  He would show this unbroken thoroughbred that he was a man as
well as a sportsman.  And so he held her tight, mad with the gleam of
her shoulders and the scent of her hair, danced her breathless and, as
the music stopped, imprisoned her in his arms and kissed her lips again
and again.

Ida Larpent nearly screamed.  The pain of her jealousy was unbearable.

Beatrix fought herself free and stood panting against the rail.  And as
she stood there with heaving breasts and her hand on her mouth, that
unforgivable sentence which had burned itself on her vanity seemed to
stand out in letters of fire on the deck house.  "If you and I were the
only two living people on a desert island and there was not the faintest
hope of our ever being taken back to the world, I would build you a hut
at the farthest end of it and treat you as a man."  This assault, this
attack, was all the more nauseating because of its apparent
cold-bloodedness, because it was made by the man who had dared to say
those words to her.  For a moment, with the blood in her head, she was
overcome with a desire to cry out for servants and order them to kill
that man.  All that was imperious in her nature craved for instant
punishment.  Then, looking at the blaze in Franklin’s eyes and mistaking
it for the beast in him, she mastered herself and turned cold.

"Just now," she said, "I called you a Czar.  I was wrong.  You’re a
polished gun-man."

Franklin laughed.  He was still drunk with the taste of her lips.
"Can’t a man kiss his wife on their honeymoon if he feels like it?"

Beatrix put out both hands to keep him away.  She was as white as
moonlight and her eyes shone like stars.

Ida Larpent almost left her place to catch every word.

"Wife!  Thank God you will never be able to call me that."

Franklin went nearer,—within an inch of those two sentinel hands.  "I
didn’t begin calling you that.  You chose the word, not I."  The way she
had of putting him in the wrong always, of making him a brute who had
tricked her into this impossible position was mighty difficult to bear.

Holding her breath, amazed and delighted at her sudden and unexpected
insight into this marriage business which had always puzzled her, Ida
Larpent watched these two young people as a cat watches mice,—the girl
standing out against the dark background of sky in all the pride of
youth, her bare shoulders outlined by the moonlight; the man, tall, wiry
and amazingly vital, bending slightly forward, with his hands clenched;
the silence hardly broken by the regular pulse of the engines, the
humming of the breeze and the soft swish of the sea.

"This is the end," said Beatrix.

"The end,—how?"

"You will put me ashore."

"Where?"

"I don’t care.  Anywhere."

"Why?"

"Because, I tell you, this is the end."

"You’re wrong.  This is the beginning."

"I don’t intend to argue.  I state as a fact that you will put me ashore
to-morrow.  Whatever happens I am not going to live this lie any longer.
Now let me pass."

Franklin went closer.  The two hands were against his chest.  "You amuse
me," he said.  "It isn’t for you to give orders here.  I’m Czar of this
Kingdom, remember.  You chose to come aboard and you’ll stay aboard as
long as it suits me."

"You’re an optimist," she said, scoffingly.

"Very likely.  I’m also human and I’m on my honeymoon."  He caught her
by the wrists and before he could control himself, kissed her again,
threw her hands away and stood back.  He was afraid of what he might do
next.

Beatrix suppressed a cry, and drew the back of her hand across her
mouth.  "Once more I’m wrong," she said.  "You’re not a gun-man.  You’re
a prize-fighter. May I be allowed to go now?"

"To the devil for all I care," said Franklin.

"Thank you.  I prefer the bridge table."  And he watched her go, walking
like a young Diana.

Ida Larpent, with the tumult of a new chance in her queer heart, dodged
away.

Then Franklin turned his face to the stars.  He was angry, sore,—and
ashamed.  But as he stood there, face to face with Nature, he said to
himself, "One day I’ll make that girl ache for my kisses as badly as I
ache for hers to-night,—so help me God!"



                                 *XXI*


Ida Larpent was responsible for the second incident.

With an amount of self-control that under the circumstances seemed to
Franklin to be almost inconceivable, Beatrix played bridge until after
midnight. She went into the drawing-room with a high head and a radiant
smile and began by saying "Mally dear, you will be my partner, and we
will play together until sunrise, if you like."  And as every hand was
dealt for the remainder of the sitting she babbled and laughed and said
little witty things that set the poet chuckling and won admiration from
the woman of the world.  And all the while she smoked, telling Mrs.
Lester Keene, when that uncompanionable-companion ventured to
remonstrate, that she was no longer a débutante and if she wanted to set
up a smoker’s heart, well, she could. Every now and then, too, perhaps
to prove the fact to Franklin that at any rate there was one man aboard
who could be trusted, she leant across the table and touched Malcolm’s
hand.  It made him very happy. He was proud to be treated like a
brother.

At eleven o’clock Mrs. Keene sighed, began to arrange the magazines on
the table at her elbow and said "Dear me, how very late it is," several
times, and finally got up and wandered aimlessly about the room. She
hadn’t the courage to say frankly and honestly "Now, dear Beatrix, it’s
time you went to bed. You’ve played enough and smoked enough and you
need all the sleep you can get," but in the inevitable manner of all
weak people she endeavored to get her point by a series of the kind of
nerve-wracking, unspoken hints which are generally rewarded by a few
sharp and even unkind words.  Not so from Beatrix. Noticing the worthy
woman’s restlessness and recognizing her intention she cried out,
"Brownie, you really ought to have a nurse.  Eleven o’clock and still
up,—and you haven’t got over that bad attack!  Run along to bed, dear,
and if I’m not too late I’ll peep in for a word or two."

Malcolm, not unsympathetic, smiled a little to see the reluctant way in
which the poor little rotund soul obeyed the command of her princess.

It was a quarter past twelve when Beatrix drew away from the table as a
rubber ended.  "Thank you," she said, "that sees me through.  Good
night, Ida, sleep well.  Good night, Mally dear.  For a poet you play a
wonderfully sound game."  And then, with an exquisite touch of shyness
that took Mrs. Larpent’s breath away, staggered Malcolm and nearly made
Franklin jump out of his skin, she looked up at him and added, "I won’t
say good night to you," and went out singing a little song beneath her
breath.

It was so well done, with an art so true, an inflection so full of
meaning, that for an instant Mrs. Larpent asked herself if the angry and
definite words which she had recently overheard had ever been said.

They left Malcolm dazed.  _Was_ she, after all, married to his old
friend?  They were the words of a wife.

The first shock over, Franklin understood.  She had let him see that he
was a creature to whom she did not bid good night disguised in the soft
voice and inviting manner that was intended to keep Mrs. Larpent
ignorant of the true state of affairs.

"I’ll go over the score in the morning," he said, "and we can settle
then.  Malcolm, I’m going to write a few letters to-night, so——"

"All right, old man.  I’ll turn in right away."  He wondered if he did
not look a little like the woman at whom he had smiled earlier in the
evening.

"So will I," said Mrs. Larpent.  "This is all very delightful.  I sleep
better in this gently-rocking cradle than I’ve ever done before.  Well,
good night."  She divided a smile between the two men and glided away,
as graceful and as silky as a panther.

Franklin let out his foot and kicked a box of matches, that had fallen
on the floor, into the chest of a sleepy-eyed young steward, who was
already packing up the bridge table.  "I’m sorry," he said.  If he had
had his way at that moment, he would have kicked the earth into the
limbo of forgotten things and tumbled after it over the edge.

Malcolm followed him out.  He could see what was going on in the mind of
the man he knew so well,—the man into whose life no woman had come to
torture and disturb till then.  "Old man," he said, "if I can be of
any——"

Franklin wheeled ’round and put his hand on Malcolm’s shoulder.  "No,
no, my dear chap.  You can’t help, not even you.  Damned fools always
pay for their mistakes.  So long."

He had been in his room for ten minutes,—walking, walking, with his
hands clenched and the fever of love boiling his blood, all alive to the
fact that the girl who called herself his wife was, figuratively
speaking, in reach of his hungry hand, when someone knocked softly on
the door.

"Who is it?"

"I," said Ida Larpent.  She shut the door softly behind her.  "I want to
speak to you."

It was not the first time that she had been in Franklin’s own particular
room, but heretofore she had seen it with daylight streaming through the
portholes.  It seemed to be warmer and more intimate and far more suited
for her purpose at that quiet hour, lit only by one shaded reading lamp.

There was a curious confidence in her manner which puzzled even
Franklin, unversed in the ways and moods of women as he was.  She took
it for granted that she was welcome, and deliberately looked about for
the most comfortable chair in the manner of one who had the right to his
room at any time.

"Where would you advise me to sit?" she asked. "I don’t mean to
criticise or carp when I say that this Holy of Holies of yours is more
like the smoking room in a man’s club than anything else.  It fits your
character like a glove, Pelham.  But,—I need soft things and cushions,
you know.  Do what you can for me."

Franklin cleared a sofa of lines of fishing tackle and a
double-barrelled gun and collected his only two cushions.  "How will
this do?" he said, showing no signs of his irritation and impatience at
the sight of her.

She placed herself full stretch, worked the cushions into place with her
white shoulders and heaved a little sigh of content.

She was too pleased with her lace stockings to hide them.

"May I smoke?"

"I beg your pardon," said Franklin.  Good Lord, was she there for the
night!

For some few moments she sat in silence looking interestedly about her,
with a quiet air of proprietorship. She inhaled two or three mouthfuls
of smoke and let it trickle out of her slightly Oriental nostrils. In
her dark hair, that was drawn tightly across her forehead, the strange
stone glittered.  She made an attractive, if somewhat erotic, picture
sitting there, so slight and so feminine in her white satin dress cut
with impish ability to the very limit of decency. Then she turned amused
eyes on Franklin, who was standing watching her, trying to discover what
was behind this obviously well-planned visit.

"All men are liars, saith the prophet, and you, my dear Pelham, very
palpably hold a diploma in class A."  She laughed quietly, rather
pleased with her way of breaking the ice.

"Think so?"  What on earth did the woman mean?

"You undemonstrative, self-contained men lie far more unsuccessfully
than the Latins.  One looks for a certain amount of duplicity from them.
Their wine and climate and the quickness of their wits makes
truthfulness almost impolite.  Much the same point of view is held of
the Irish, who have an inherent disbelief in the mere truth.  The strong
streak of Anglo-Saxon in you which gives you a horror of pulling down
the fourth wall behind which you hide your sentimentality puts one off.
What one takes for honest inarticulation and shyness is really a
well-thought-out pose, isn’t it?  You manage admirably to give the
impression of rather aloof integrity, an unexpressed contempt for
dodgers.  It is historical, all the same, how artfully you can live a
double life and achieve a statue in the market-place."

This wordiness bored Franklin.  He hated phrase-making. Also it was late
and he wanted to go to bed to sleep and be healthy.  "The prophet said
another good thing," he replied.  "Cut the cackle and come to the
’osses.  Did you ever hear that?"

She laughed again.  "You know that I have a horse or two then?"

"Would you be here if you hadn’t?"

"Why shouldn’t I have come for the pleasure of being with you, alone?"

"It’s very kind of you to put it like that."

Mrs. Larpent flecked away the ash of her cigarette. "Sarcasm doesn’t
suit you," she said sharply.  "If you mean to imply that I am here for
money, you are wrong."

"I didn’t mean to imply that," said Franklin.  "On my honor."

"Thank you," she said, and was silent again.  The conscientious beat of
the engines made a sort of tune. Then she got up and faced him, dropping
artificiality. "Why did you tell me you were married?"

"Ah!" thought Franklin, "it _is_ that, then."  He said nothing.  He was
no match for women.

"Couldn’t you have been honest with _me_, of all people?  You know my
feelings for you.  _I_ was above board.  Whatever the reason for
hatching this extraordinary story I wouldn’t have given you away.  I
would have helped you."

"I can’t discuss this with you," said Franklin, "you were at the
Vanderdykes.  You saw the papers. Beatrix is on the yacht.  There it is.
I can’t see any reason why you should say that she and I are not
married."

"Can’t you?  Haven’t I seen you together for the last three days?
Wouldn’t my eyes be the first to notice any sign of love or affection
between you, or even toleration?  I came on the yacht expecting to be
made to suffer the jealous agony of the damned and I find,—it’s easy
enough,—that this honeymoon is a farce.  You are a bachelor entertaining
two duly chaperoned women."

What could Franklin do but lie?  "Beatrix is my wife," he said, "and the
way in which we treat each other is our affair."

"Oh, no, believe me," said Mrs. Larpent quickly. "That’s where you’re
wrong.  I am in this.  You were on the verge of loving _me_ before
Beatrix cropped up.  You may decline to accept this as a fact but I tell
you that you were, and I know.  You stand there looking at me in
amazement because I am not afraid or ashamed to tell the truth.  Women
are more or less a mystery to you and you’ve got a rooted idea that we
must go through life hiding our souls behind light laughter and lace
veils.  And so we do until the inevitable hour when we come out into the
open to fight for love.  This is my hour, Pelham, and I stand in front
of you as common and as human as a peasant woman or a squaw."

Her voice shook with emotion and she seemed to Franklin to be taller and
more beautiful and more dignified than he had ever seen her.  All the
same he wished to Heaven that both these women had never come into his
life, that he were still a free agent, a mere sportsman, as Beatrix
called him so scornfully, the captain of his fate.

"I don’t like your talking like this," he said, with a curiously boyish
bluntness and awkwardness.  "It isn’t fair to yourself—or me."

"I’m not thinking altogether about you to-night, my dear.  I said that
this is my hour, my fight, the moment when I let you see me as I am.
Now listen. I overheard your quarrel with Beatrix on deck this
afternoon.  I deliberately eavesdropped.  I don’t want to know why you
and she are playing this queer game.  It doesn’t interest me.  From the
way you kissed her, without loving her in the very least, I saw that
what you want is what I want.  You are free. I am free.  We neither of
us owe allegiance to a living creature.  I love you.  You are the first
man who has made me understand the pain and ache of love.  I make no
bargain.  I ask for no bond.  I just want you.  Take me."

She held out her white arms, with her head thrown back and her lips
slightly parted and her eyes half closed.  There was something utterly
simple and in a way fine about her.  It wasn’t so much an appeal that
she made as an offer of fellowship.  Nature spoke in her voice and stood
alluring in her presence.

Perhaps because of the subtle sense of isolation that the open sea
gives, or of the wonderful silence of the night, or of the overwhelming
strength of her desire, Ida Larpent was nearer sincerity in what she
said than she had ever been.  It wasn’t only because she saw a chance to
catch Franklin on the rebound that she had gone into his room.  She had
argued in cold blood that by becoming his mistress she would strengthen
her position, put a claim upon his sense of honor and win her way to
independence.  But under the stress of genuine emotion these sordid
calculations lifted like hawks and left her a woman in love, a very
woman.

Franklin proved that he was very much of a man. To him love and its
rewards were only good if they were won by fighting.  They were the
spoils of the chase.  This inversion of the old right way was
distressing, chilling and rather indecent.  What to say and how to say
it left him wordless.  He would rather have found himself facing a lion
with two empty barrels.  Then he told the truth.  "You’re very kind," he
said.  "But I love Beatrix and I’m going to be true to that."

Ida Larpent dropped her arms.  Just for an instant the supreme
mortification of being turned down put a red mist in front of her eyes.
She could have fallen upon Franklin and struck him again and again. Then
the sense of self-preservation came to her rescue.  Her cunning returned
and with it the vista of a doubtful and tricky future.  She hid her
disappointment and humiliation and impatience behind a perfect piece of
acting and told herself that, after all, Franklin was difficult and
different because he was a sportsman. She held out her hand and said, in
a very sweet voice, "I love you.  You know where to find me when you
need a friend," and went away quickly before she might be moved to spoil
the effect of her lack of drama.  She believed that in this way she
would win a warm place in Franklin’s esteem,—the first step to the goal
that she intended to gain by hook or crook,—and she was right.



                                 *XXII*


Beatrix slept too late the following morning to take her usual exercise
in the gymnasium.  She was called at eight-thirty by Helene, who dared
not give her less than half an hour in which to get ready for breakfast
at the luxurious hour of nine.  It was a delicious morning, with the sea
in a very gracious mood, the sky blue and cloudless and a gentle breeze
which brought the taste of salt to the lips.

Waking after a dreamless night, Beatrix found the sun pouring through
the portholes of her state-room, caught the infection of health and high
spirits, sprang out of bed, gave the sturdy Breton a cheery word, went
into the bathroom and alternately sang and whistled one of Jerome Kern’s
catchy little tunes,—while the French girl gave thanks.  The world was
worth living in when her mercurial-mistress found it so—otherwise death
held many charms.

It was an easy matter to dress Beatrix for the morning,—a white silk
shirt with a turned down collar, a grey-blue jersey cloth skirt with
stockings to match, white shoes with brown strips and a man’s tie of
blue and white.  In these she stood in front of a glass and turned about
in careful examination before throwing a little smile of congratulation
at herself and her handmaiden.  "I don’t give a single whoop what the
fool fashions may ordain, Helene," she said, "the too short skirt is for
Coney Island only and makes women look either comic or pathetic,
according to their weight. See that I never have anything shorter than
this, won’t you?"

Murmuring a suitable reply and blessing her patron saint for the good
day, Helene opened the door and Beatrix passed out, touching the girl’s
cheek with the tips of kindly fingers.  "We go ashore to-day," she said,
"I will let you know when to pack."

Ah, there was, then, a fly in the amber!  Helene gave one of those
exquisitely eloquent gestures, that are peculiar to the Latin race, and
sat down suddenly, her eyebrows almost lost behind her straight cut
fringe.  "What a life!" she said, addressing the whole suite.  "Joost as
we settle and tink to breathe,—up and away.  Joost as Mistare Jones
breaks his Engleesh ice,—we go.  I leave a republic and come to a
democracy and I fall into the entourage of a monarch!"

From which it will be seen that Horatio Jones had been playing the
sailor again.

And then Beatrix went into the stateroom of Mrs. Lester Keene.  "Why,
Brownie dear, what’s the matter?  Have you had a bad night?"

The little lady was sitting up in bed in an early Victorian white linen
night dress with a discreet touch of lace about the high neck.  Her
mousey hair was still done for the night and contained several long
brown kid curlers about her forehead.  Her face was pale and a little
petulant as of one who has a grievance.  She might have been one of
Cruikshank’s drawings come to life.

"I heard every hour strike until five," she said, "and my neuralgia very
nearly made me scream."

"Oh, you poor dear old thing.  I am sorry!  Why didn’t you come and call
me?  I don’t know what I could have done but at any rate I could have
listened to your tale of woe and it always does one good to keep someone
else awake when one can’t sleep, doesn’t it?"

She bent over the devoted companion and put her head gently against her
breast as if it were the head of a child.

"Oh dear, oh dear," whimpered Mrs. Keene, "I shall never be able to get
up in time for breakfast and I do so hate being unpunctual."

"Don’t worry, dear little Brownie.  I tell you what.  You and I will
have breakfast here.  Shall we?  I want to talk to you about a most
important thing and afterwards you shall have a little sleep and then
Helene shall dress you.  What do you say?"

"Dear Beatrix, you’re very kind.  I should like nothing better, but——"

"Don’t but.  No sooner said than done," and Beatrix rang for a
stewardess.  "Now, here are your dressing gown and slippers.  Jump,—that
is, struggle out of bed and I’ll have you all ready by the time
breakfast comes."

Mrs. Keene’s attack of neuralgia had been very painful.  She had really
heard several hours slip by, but, for the pleasure and ego-warming of
having Beatrix wait upon her and say kind things she would most
willingly have undergone twice the pain and almost total sleeplessness.
Beatrix knew this.  Without conceit or the smallest suggestion of
inflated vanity, she was aware of the fact that she was making her
little old friend and flatterer quite happy.  Her training among
sycophants had made her an expert in playing upon the feelings of those
about her.  The unbelievable and unhealthy wealth which had placed a
golden halo round her head had cultivated in her the gift, peculiar to
Royalty, of dealing out easily given favors, little acts of kindness
which bound her subjects more closely.  This dangerous knowledge
acquired as a child made her as dexterous in striking answering notes as
though she were a professional pianist.  Her instrument was temperament
and she was a past-mistress in reading character.

The stewardess took the order, hurried to carry it out, and presently
found "Mrs. Franklin" arranging her companion among many cushions on a
sofa near the table.  A message had been sent to the major-domo that the
two ladies would be absent from the dining-saloon.

"Well," said Beatrix, pouring out tea, "well, Brownie, and how do you
like the sea?"

Mrs. Keene had removed her curlers and so had regained her sense of
propriety.  Curlers somehow stood to her as very intimate things.  She
felt in them as most nice women do when they are caught by men with
their hair down.  "My dear, I shall never be anything but scared to
death away from land.  This is a very beautiful yacht, of course, with
every modern convenience and invention, but I dread to think what might
happen to her in a storm.  I am sure that I shall not be well again
until I put my foot on solid earth."

Beatrix gave a rather excited laugh.  "Then you will be well again this
afternoon," she said.

Mrs. Keene turned eagerly.  "You don’t mean that we are going to land,
that this dreadful cruise is coming to an end _this afternoon_?"

"Oh, yes, I do."

"But, Mr. Franklin?  Has he——?"

"Mr. Franklin doesn’t count in the scheme of things," said Beatrix
coolly, "I’ve made up my mind to get off the _Galatea_ and there it is."

Mrs. Keene’s first flush of pleasure and relief faded before her next
thought.  "But your Aunt Honoria and Mrs. Vanderdyke,—what will they
say?"

"Everything that human beings can find to say and then some, my dear,
but I don’t think I shall go home at once," said Beatrix airily.  "This
seems to be a good opportunity of seeing a little of our United
States,—of which I only really know Fifth Avenue. I think I shall get a
good touring car, take Ida Larpent and we three will go for a joy-ride.
That will give me time to think out a plan of action. It goes without
saying that I shall have now to blow the gaff before Franklin does.
There will be a certain amount of satisfaction in getting in first.
After that,—well, my dear little long suffering Brownie, Aunt Honoria
will lead the family against me and unless I can get a really splendid
brainwave you and I will go into exile to gloat, like Napoleon, on our
brilliant misdeeds,—martyrs on the altar of adventure. And I don’t mind
telling you in strict confidence that all my courage oozes away at the
bare idea.  I’ve been an awful little fool, Brownie, there’s no getting
over it."

To her great surprise, Mrs. Keene felt a curious glow of reckless
triumph in being included in Beatrix’s wild scheme.  Even she, almost
the last living representative of the mid-Victorian era, had become used
to this sham marriage.  Modernism is strangely infectious.  All the same
an overwhelming curiosity sent personal comfort into the cold and
summoning up all her courage she put a question that had begun to burn
her like a mustard plaster.  "What has happened?" she asked.  "Have you
had further trouble with Mr. Franklin?  Has he tried——"

Beatrix lifted a cover from a dish.  "Try some of these delightful
looking scrambled eggs, Brownie dear. I’ve heard they’re very good for
neuralgia."

A little flush suddenly swept over the elder woman’s face.  She had
taken advantage of the princess’s condescension and received as usual a
well-deserved snub. Greatly to her relief—she had an inherent dislike of
apologizing—Ida Larpent sailed in, looking like a French actress on a
holiday.

"May I come in?" she asked, a little too late.  "I was anxious about
you, dear child, and so was Mr. Fraser."

Beatrix got up.  She was not amazed at Mrs. Keene’s curiosity.  She
sympathized with that.  She felt it incumbent upon her, however, to
register disapproval for the sake of the future.  "You’re both very
kind," she said.  "There’s nothing the matter. Come to the library.
Send for Helene as soon as you’re ready to dress, Brownie, won’t you?
Au revoir."  She nodded, took Mrs. Larpent’s arm and went out.

Poor little Mrs. Lester Keene.  When _would_ she remember that she was
in the service of plutocracy!

"How would you like to break the monotony of cruising by coming on a
motor tour?" asked Beatrix. The sun set her hair on fire.

Mrs. Larpent shut the library door quickly.  "But, how do you mean?  Is
Mr. Franklin going to bring the cruise to an end?"  She also had decided
upon a plan of action,—and the scene of it was the yacht.

"No," said Beatrix laughing, "but I have.  I’m going ashore this
afternoon with Mrs. Keene and Helene."

"Ashore—this afternoon?"

"Why not?  There’s no reason why you shouldn’t be the only woman on
board, I suppose.  It’s a free country.  But if you’d care to come with
me, do.  We may have some fun."

"Thanks most awfully," said Ida, trying quickly to make order out of
chaos.  "Yes, we ought to have great fun.  I don’t know much of
America."  But what would Franklin say?  Would he let her remain alone
on the _Galatea_?  If that could be worked the rest seemed easy.  But it
would mean, she knew, breaking with Beatrix, who was, of course, an
asset.  It was the choice between a good thing and one that might be
made of incalculable excellence.  Mentally she plumped for Franklin, her
knowledge of men and her confidence in herself and her beauty.  "Have
you told Mr. Franklin yet?"

"Yes, vaguely," said Beatrix.  "But as I haven’t the faintest idea where
we can land I’m on my way to see him now and clinch the matter.  I don’t
think there will be too much time to pack.  Be in the gym in half an
hour and let’s have some exercise."  She turned at the door and a smile
lit up her face.  "It’ll be a tremendous joke cutting about the country
without any man to look after us.  Four lone women on the long trail?
Why, we shall _ask_ for trouble."

Her merry laugh remained in the room and Ida Larpent added a chuckle to
it.  "Enjoy your joke, my child," she said to herself, "but count me
out.  If I have to work a miracle I’ll stay on the yacht and in good
time, with ordinary luck and great tact, I may have something to laugh
at too."



                                *XXIII*


Franklin was in his room talking to the Captain about a fishing
expedition when Beatrix knocked at the door.

"Come in ... and if we lie at anchor for a couple of days we can ship
some grub on the big launch..."  He stopped on seeing Beatrix, who stood
framed in the doorway, the most bewitching picture he ever hoped to see.

"Am I disturbing you? ... I’ll come back presently."

"Oh, no, please!" said Franklin.  "We’ve finished."

Beatrix had no intention of leaving whether she disturbed or not.  "Good
morning, Captain," she said, "What a wonderful day!"

"Good morning, Mrs. Franklin.  It’s good to be alive in such weather,
isn’t it? ... Very good, sir. I’ll see about the fishing trip at once."
He picked up his cap, dropped the ash of his cigar into a silver tray,
bowed to Beatrix and took himself off, wondering for the hundredth time
what sort of marriage this was in which these two young people treated
each other as though they were casual acquaintances.

"Won’t you sit down?"  Franklin pushed an armchair forward.

"No wonder you like this room," said Beatrix. "May I wander round for a
moment?  How jolly these Yale groups are, and I see you play polo,—the
only game that makes me wish I were a man.  And what’s this uniform?
The National Guard?"

"Yes, I hold a commission."

"I didn’t know that.  Very versatile, aren’t you? And that’s a tarpon,
isn’t it?  What a big fellow. Probably gave you some trouble."

"About four hours," said Franklin.  Good Lord, what was this
extraordinary girl made of!  Yesterday she had fought him like a
tigress, to-day she was as sunny and calm as the weather.

She sat down on the edge of a table, pushing back a box of cigars and
half a dozen well-smoked pipes. "I’ve come to have a little friendly
talk," she said, "if you can give me ten minutes."

"I’m absolutely at your service."

"Thanks.  Don’t stand there.  It makes me feel formal.  And please go on
smoking."  She gave him one of those smiles that made obedience a
delight. "That’s better.  I want to tell you that, except for one
incident, I shall look back on these days on the _Galatea_ with real
pleasure.  You’re sorry that you committed assault and battery, aren’t
you?"

"Very sorry," said Franklin.  What else could he say with those frank
laughing eyes upon him.

"Yes, I’m sure you are.  I was too, but will agree to forget, because
otherwise you’ve been so nice and kind."

Franklin bowed.  He knew that he was a fool, but he felt that she had
decorated him with an order. What was behind all this?

Beatrix threw back her golden head and burst out laughing.  "I’ll tell
you," she said, reading his thoughts on his face.  He had not troubled
to become socially expert in disguising his feelings.  She got up, ran
one of the bachelor chairs near to Franklin, sat down and bent forward.
Artificiality, self-consciousness and that touch of the precocious that
she took an impish pleasure in adopting in a crowd, all left her. "Look
here," she said, "I’m going to be very honest with you, for a change.
Can you bear it?"

"Go ahead," said Franklin, boyishly.  It seemed to him that he was
looking at and sitting close to a new girl,—the girl described to him by
Malcolm in that emotional outburst of his.

"I’m awfully, really awfully sorry I played the fool and let you into
all this, Pelham.  I took a horrible advantage of you and I’m beastly
ashamed about it."

"Oh, that’s all right," said Franklin, who would willingly have gone
through it all again to be treated so charmingly.

"You say that because, at this moment, you and I are friends and have
put our cards on the table, but I know jolly well that I’ve given you a
very bad time and have got you into a hateful mess."

"That’s true enough," he said.  "But why not fall in with the only
possible plan to put us both out of it?"

"You mean marry you?"

"Yes."  He did his best to hide his eagerness.

She shook her head, and put her hand lightly on his arm, "My dear man, I
can’t.  It isn’t fair to you.  I think it’s, well, immense of you to
have thought of it but I draw the line at divorce.  If you had to go
through all that horrid business I’m perfectly certain it would be on my
conscience all my life."

Franklin saw his chance to put up a bloodless fight. "But why should
there be a divorce?"

"I don’t follow you," said Beatrix.

"Let’s be married for the sake of everybody concerned and remain
married."

Beatrix looked at him squarely and bravely.  "I’ll tell you why not,"
she said, after a pause.  "Deep down somewhere in me there’s a little
unspoiled fund of romance and sentiment.  I’m looking rather wistfully
forward to marriage as the turning point in my funny life.  I want it to
be the best thing that I shall ever do.  I want it to be for love."

"And you don’t think that you could ever love me?" asked Franklin,
trying to keep his voice steady.

"No," she said, simply, "I don’t.  And what’s more, I’m not your sort of
girl, I know that perfectly well."

"Speak, you fool, speak!" cried Franklin inwardly. "Get off your stilts
and lay yourself at her feet and give up this crazy idea of breaking her
splendid spirit and blurt out that you love her to desperation and would
gladly go to the devil for her."

But the moment passed,—one of those innumerable moments in life which,
if instantly seized, turn pain into joy, misunderstandings into complete
agreement and are capable of changing the destiny of nations.

Beatrix got up and went back to her place on the table among the pipes.
"No," she said, with an involuntary sigh, "I’ve still to meet the right
man and you the right girl.  We mustn’t smash our lives because I’ve
dragged you into a perfectly inconceivable muddle,—and that’s putting it
mildly.  No, I’ve got to face the music and take my punishment, much as
I hate it."

Franklin kept his ego away from her.  Her frankness, her childlike
simplicity beat him just as badly as her imperious moods.  His pride,
and the knowledge that she would laugh at him if he confessed himself,
made it impossible to speak.  But she tempted him almost beyond
endurance.  He had never loved her so much as he did at that moment.
"Well," he said, "what do you want me to do?"

Beatrix laughed softly.  "How extremely nice you can be when you try,"
she said.  "When you fall in love I hope the girl will be a real
corker."

"Thanks very much," said Franklin.

"I’ll tell you what I want you to do.  Run in this afternoon and put me
ashore, will you?"

"Yes."

"Thank you.  I’ve thought it all out.  I shall get a car,—two cars, one
for the baggage,—and go for a short tour.  While I’m on the road with
Mrs. Keene and probably Ida Larpent, I shall write as short a letter as
possible to mother,—whew, the mere thought of it makes me hot all
over,—and give her the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
Then, one fine day, I shall walk in upon the family and give myself up
to justice.  Aunt Honoria has the very jolly idea of taking me into
exile for a year during which, I suppose, she is optimistic enough to
think that I shall ’find’ myself.  What I shall really do during that
appalling time will be to write the confessions of a spoilt girl for the
use of millionaire parents."

"It will make good reading," said Franklin.

"I’ll see that it does," said Beatrix a little grimly. "One chapter, at
least, will have a scathing attack on the sycophancy of the fashionable
girls’ school."  She held out her hand.  "Thank you again, Pelham
Franklin, sportsman, for all you’ve done for me.  I shall never forget."

Franklin sprang up and faced her.  He was beaten then.  He was to fail
in breaking in this amazing girl.  He was not the man marked out by fate
to find the woman in Beatrix, to be the cause of her abdicating a sham
throne, to give that good woman Aunt Honoria the longed-for opportunity
to offer praise to God.  Right.  He would take his beating.

He grasped her hand.  "You’re sure you can be ready to land this
afternoon?"

"Quite."

"Very good.  I’ll make it so.  Mrs. Larpent will go with you, of
course."

"Just as you like.  And Malcolm?"

"Yes.  I’ll try being alone for a change."  He let her hand go and stood
back, waiting for whatever she might do or say next.

Beatrix laughed again.  She rather liked the queer boyishness of this
man, the awkwardness, the inarticulation; and it flashed across her mind
as she looked at him, strong and clean-cut and sun-tanned, that there
might perhaps have been a different conversation if he had not bent over
the end of her bed and rapped out the offensive words that were rooted
in her memory.

"Well, then, I’m off to the gym," she said, "for the last time.  How
happy you’ll be to be rid of women."

And out she went, as graceful as a young deer.



                                 *XXIV*


Franklin locked his door.

He knew very well that within ten minutes Ida Larpent would be upon him
and that inevitably, being told by Beatrix of the latest move, Malcolm
would be down to see what he could do.  He had no wish to see anyone at
that moment, not even his best friend.

He quietly loaded and lit a pipe, sat down in his favorite arm-chair,
shoved his hands into his pockets and his long legs out and settled down
to think.  He hadn’t done such a thing since the night of his father’s
death when for the second time in his young life grief had seized him by
the throat and there did not seem to be one speck of light on his black
horizon.

He went back to the night in New York, which was still within easy
reach, when he and Malcolm had caught sight of Beatrix and Sutherland
York.  He was then his own master, heart-whole, a complete
individualist, in the almost uncanny position of being free from
responsibility, at the beck and call of no living creature.  He was then
one of the very few men in civilization who was able to go through life
unattached either to a business or a cause.  He was able to buy almost
everything that caught his fancy.  The one thing that all the money in
the world cannot purchase he was lucky enough to possess.  He had
health. He was sound in wind and limb.

He followed himself into his antler-hung studio and stood again looking
round its crowded walls, suddenly and for the first time impatient of
his games, realizing that his toys were empty and meaningless. Malcolm’s
surprising outburst about Beatrix rang again in his ears.  He remembered
that it had drawn from him a sort of prayer.  "My God," he had said, "I
wonder when _I_ shall begin to live!"

Then he went over the ground from New York to the Vanderdyke House in
the new car which had provided him with a momentary thrill.  He had gone
reluctantly because his interest in meeting Ida Larpent again was not
keen.  Their friendship had been very pleasant and agreeable but it had
served its purpose. And then he saw himself, the super-individualist, as
sceptical of Fate as all young men are, come down into the hall to be
met by Beatrix with her urgent plea for help.

Without hesitation or motive, without thought or fear of consequences he
had given his help and in an instant had lost his detachment, his
splendid isolation, and rendered himself liable to responsibility,
signed on to life’s roll-call as the slave of a cause.

The amazing irony of it all only came to him in its utter nakedness as
he sat there, locked into his own room, summing up the subsequent rush
of events.  In one careless moment he had flung his freedom away for the
girl in whom he had never been able to squeeze up any sort of interest,
the girl who had been the unconscious cause of his discontent and
self-disgust, the girl to whom he had intended to give the spurs, who
had set the torch of love to his breast and who was now to be allowed to
go free and unpunished merely because she disarmed him with a smile.

He got up and walked about.

It might be that what people call Fate,—he was vaguely inclined to
believe that their word for it was not the honest one,—had suddenly, in
the multiplicity of its daily work, become interested in his particular
case and in that curious and almost ineradicable way, given him a very
good reason for beginning to live,—or was it one of the haphazard
incidents that come into the lives of human beings from out of the
clouds, not in the nature of tests or trials, but as mere accidents out
of which to shuffle in the best possible manner?

He drew up short.

What was going to happen if he let Beatrix go?  Her name and his, her
family and his own, would be the centre of such a scandal as the papers
had not been able to batten upon in his memory.  That mattered.  He
liked and respected the Vanderdykes. He was intensely jealous of
Beatrix’s good name.  He valued his own and detested publicity.  He
didn’t care whether it would be a good thing for her character for
Beatrix to spend a year out of the stir, excitement and flattery of
society.  He loved and wanted her.  He would be half content if he could
bring her to the point of common sense and make her his wife in its mere
empty meaning.  That step achieved there were others that might lead to
the fulfilment of his incessant dreams, if not through love then through
tolerance and the acceptance of things.

Fate or accident, was he going to permit this wilful, nimble-minded,
imperious girl, this child spoiled by a system, to make a fool of him
again?  "No, she shan’t," he said.  "I’ll put up another fight and break
her by other methods.  We’ll both begin to live and face things.  I’ll
see this through."

He threw out his arms and took a deep breath, unlocked his door, went on
deck, saw that the chairs were empty under the awning and made for the
gymnasium. As quick as lightning he had made his plans.

There was Ida Larpent, introspective and calculating, in one of her most
artful dresses and a soft wide-brimmed hat, sitting on a rolled-up
mattress, with her gleaming fingers interlocked.  There was Malcolm
Fraser, in white flannels, with rounded shoulders and head bent forward,
riding a fixed bicycle for dear life with his eyes on the dial in front
of him,—and there, in blue knickers and a silk shirt with wide open
collar was Beatrix perched straddle on the electric horse, with her
hands on her hips, riding like a cavalryman. Her eyes were dancing, her
lips parted and her face alight with health.

"Hello, Pel," she cried out, "here we are.  Get into whites and come and
show us the way on the bars."

A wave of sheer honest passion flooded Franklin’s brain.  Assuredly he
would fight and go on fighting to win this girl.

Malcolm staggered off the bicycle.  "Never was so glad in my life of an
interruption," he said, panting. "This is not a poet’s job."

And Ida Larpent rose slowly and touched a button on Franklin’s coat.
"Come out and talk to me," she said, under her breath.

Franklin went into the middle of the gym.  "I’m not staying," he said.
"I just came to say, Beatrix, that the launches will be ready at
three-thirty.  Can you be packed by then?"

"Oh, yes," she said, breaking into a gallop.  "Too bad to have to go,
isn’t it?"

"Go?  Go where?" asked Malcolm, staring at Franklin.

"Ashore, old man.  Beatrix is sick of the _Galatea_ and is taking her
party off the yacht this afternoon."

"Her party?"  The words came sharply from Mrs. Larpent.

"Her party,—yes," said Franklin, "so sorry," and he gave her a little
bow which permitted of no argument.

Malcolm was staggered.  "Meaning me,—too?"

"Naturally, my dear fellow," said Franklin.  "The ladies must have a man
to look after them.  Don’t forget, three-thirty."

The first officer was on the bridge.  Franklin made for the Captain’s
state-room.  McLeod, in his shirt sleeves, with a pipe between his
teeth, was reading a magazine.

"Don’t move," said Franklin.  "Just listen.  Make a beeline at once for
the nearest place where my wife and her friends can be put ashore.  Then
have the big launch ready.  Load it with all the luggage except my
wife’s.  Have hers ready to dump into the other launch, but don’t lower
it.  Put Jones in charge and get Mrs. Larpent, Mrs. Keene, Mr. Fraser
and the French maid into the launch.  As soon as she’s well away, the
first officer will take a signal from me to pass on to you on the
bridge.  I’ll raise my right hand above my head.  He will do the same.
That will mean full steam ahead and out to sea.  Jones will land his
party and come after us.  Is all that clear?"

"Quite clear, sir, thank you!" said the Captain.

"Good," said Franklin.

As one man left the state-room the other got up and put on his coat and
cap.  There was a smile of approval on his face as he did so.  "A very
pleasant idea," he thought, "to run away with one’s wife."



                                 *XXV*


Lunch was a strange meal that day.

Mrs. Larpent was angry.  Her plans lay all about her feet like a pack of
cards.  If there was one thing she resented more than any other it was
to be coerced. The cruise might have been so useful.  In his present
state of mind, as she wrongly judged it, she had seen a way to bind
Franklin to herself more closely than it had appeared possible in her
most optimistic moments. She had been jarred by what Beatrix had said
that morning as to going ashore but had determined to make a huge effort
to remain aboard.  Franklin’s attitude in the gymnasium, however, made
it quite plain that he did not want her.  She was to go with the rest.
It was the most bitter disappointment of her life. Her heart as well as
her pocket was hurt, and both needed comfort.  It required all her
courage to enable her to play up to Beatrix’s incessant
light-heartedness during the meal.

Mrs. Lester Keene made very little attempt to disguise her joy at her
impending release.  Her own personal comfort came in front of her
anxiety as to what must happen to Beatrix.

Malcolm Fraser was worried and puzzled.  His sympathy was equally
divided between his friend and the girl he loved.  The cruise, which he
hoped would bring them together, was a failure.  Propinquity and sea air
had refused to work for once.  He was intensely sorry.  He was in the
dark as to what had happened but he knew that Franklin was hard hit
because he wanted to be alone.  It was a sure sign.  He refused to ask
himself what was going to happen. There must be trouble and scandal and
heart-burnings and probably punishment and he regarded them all as the
spoilers of life.

He knew enough of Beatrix to be certain that in leaving the yacht in
this abrupt manner she intended to give herself up to her people and
never see Franklin again if she could help it.  What a pity!

Franklin was quieter even than usual, but there was something in his
eyes that made Beatrix curious.  Her quick observation missed nothing.
Just before lunch came to an end she looked squarely at him, with a
straight face and said, "You’re going to begin to enjoy yourself now,
aren’t you?"

"By Jove, yes," he said, with a ring of sincerity in his voice which set
Malcolm puzzling again.

And then the imp sat itself on Beatrix’s shoulder. "I wonder you ever
bothered to get married," she said, with a little laugh.

All eyes turned upon her.  Her audacity was epoch-making.

"It isn’t good for man to live alone," said Franklin quietly.

"But you agree with modern thinkers that married people need a holiday
from time to time, is that it?"

"Something like that," he replied, showing his teeth.

Beatrix looked round the table.  She saw the same expression on the
faces of all her party.  "When shall we all meet again, do you suppose?"

"The sooner the better," said Franklin, with that touch of old-fashioned
courtesy that he must have inherited from his grandfather.  "Let’s make
an engagement to dine together one night at Sherry’s during Christmas
week.  There may be a good deal to talk about by that time."

"I’ll be there," said Malcolm.

"And I," said Mrs. Larpent, who had already begun to set the machinery
of her brain at work.  Many things might be made to happen before
Christmas.

"I shall have great pleasure," said Mrs. Keene.

"But, my dear Pelham," cried Beatrix, with mock amazement, "am I to be a
grass widow all that time?"  She got up before Franklin could find an
answer. "Come along, Brownie.  Let’s go and see how Helene is getting on
with the packing.  Hope the stewardess is doing good work for you, Mrs.
Larpent.  Your lovely frocks need careful handling, don’t they?"

Franklin waited until they had gone.  Then he turned to Malcolm.  "Come
on deck, old man. You’ve got to know something."

They went forward and stood in the sun.  The line of coast was much
nearer than it had been for days.  It needed no glasses to see its
formation now and the yellow line of beach on which a good-tempered sea
was breaking.

Malcolm leaned on the rail side by side with the man with whom he had
been at school and university and on many a long trip since.  They had
been as close as brothers, these two, with no secrets.  They had looked
into each other’s eyes over camp fires in many places far away from the
contentious hell of cities and had talked on far into the night of life
and death and the great hereafter.  They knew each other in and out,
realized each other’s good points and weaknesses.  The everlasting
loyalty of friendship that passes the love of women was theirs.

"I knew that you were not going to wind up this cruise, whatever has
happened, without a yarn," said Malcolm.

"Not likely," said Franklin.  "We don’t do those things."

Malcolm waited while Franklin lit a cigar.  Christmas was,—he jotted the
months off on his fingers. There were six.  A good place Sherry’s.  It
ought to be a merry party.  Beatrix would see to that,—if she were not
with Aunt Honoria in exile.

"I kissed Beatrix last night," said Franklin abruptly.  "I had to.  She
was in my blood.... You know her.  She blazed.  There was a quick spat
out here after dinner.  She ordered to be put ashore, called me some
extremely well-deserved names and played bridge as if she were at peace
with the world. Old man, she’s everything you said she was and a whole
heap more.  I wish to God I’d never met her,—and thank God I have....
This morning she came to my room.  I had no intention, by that time, of
obeying her orders as if I were a chauffeur.  I was too damned angry.
But she translated herself back into the simple kid that she was when
you put her skates on and sat at her feet.  She made pulp of me. I
agreed to everything she asked.  She was nearer liking me than I ever
hoped she would be,—I suppose because she got her way so easily.  It’s a
habit. When she’d gone I did some thinking.  I don’t know what will come
of it,—probably nothing, because men don’t hit women as they sometimes
deserve.  But I made up my mind to have another hard try to win her, to
fight like the very devil to keep her and break her in.  She got me into
all this by a trick.  Very good. I’m going to take a leaf out of her
book.  Two can play that game.  You’re going ashore with Mrs. Larpent,
Mrs. Keene and the maid.  I do myself the honor to escort my so-called
wife as soon as the other launch is ready.  It never will be ready.  Do
you get me?  The _Galatea_ puts out again with the honeymoon
couple—alone."

Malcolm took a long breath.  "Ah!" he said. "Now you’re talking."

"Yes," said Franklin, bringing his hand down hard on the rail, "and now
I begin to fight.  You have a cat’s eyes and see in the dark.  You hear
things that other people don’t catch.  When I tell you, standing here in
broad daylight, that I believe I’m marked out to make this girl find
herself, that it’s for me and no other man to bring her out of her
casing of stucco, you’ll know that I’m not talking highfalutin; you’ll
understand.  In other words,—I’m not much of a hand in using ’em,—I
don’t think all this is just an accident.  I’m going to try and carry
out my job. D’you see?"

"I see," said Malcolm.  "That’s why I argued with her to come on the
_Galatea_.  Good luck, Pel, and when we meet at Sherry’s in Christmas
week—don’t forget to let us all know the day—I hope to drink to Mrs.
Franklin."  He held out his hand.

"I hope to God you may," said Franklin, taking it.

"I hope so too if you wish it as much as all that."

They both turned.  Beatrix had just come up, dressed for the land.

"Don’t _I_ shake hands with anybody?" she added whimsically.

"With me," said Franklin.

"And me," said Malcolm.

And she gave them a hand each and divided one of her best smiles between
them.



                                 *XXVI*


At half-past three Captain McLeod stopped the engines of the _Galatea_
and the big launch was lowered. Under the supervision of Mr. Jones the
baggage belonging to Mrs. Larpent, Mrs. Lester Keene, Malcolm Fraser and
the French maid was loaded into her, leaving plenty of room for the
passengers.

Beatrix came on deck to find everyone ready. Franklin met her.  He
looked as imperturbable as usual but his heart was going nine to the
dozen. "You’re not going with the others, if you don’t mind," he said.
"Your things shall be put into the smaller launch.  I want to take you
ashore myself."

"Highly honored," said Beatrix gaily.  "Will all my baggage get into the
other launch?"

"Easily," said Franklin.

"What a lot there is of it,—enough for a regular honeymoon!"

"Yes.  I was thinking so....  Excuse me while I say good-bye to the
ladies."  He went over to Mrs. Larpent, giving a quick glance to see
that the first officer was on the watch.

"Good-bye," said Mrs. Larpent, softly.  "I hate leaving the
_Galatea_—and you."

"Thanks.  I’m awfully sorry too."

"I shall probably go and stay with friends at Southampton but a letter
sent to my apartment will be forwarded if at any time you make up
another party and need a fourth for bridge."

"Oh, that’s splendid!  Good-bye then."

She held his hand, gave him a look that was intended to convey
everything that she would have said if they had been alone,—and did,—and
then went down, was handed into the launch by Mr. Jones in his best
manner and took her place.

Beatrix leaned on the rail.  "I wish I had a kodak," she called out.
"You look like Lady Jane Grey."

Mrs. Larpent smiled up at her.  "I feel like the devil, my dear," she
said to herself.

Then Franklin gave his hand to Mrs. Keene. "Good-bye," he said.  "I’m
sorry you haven’t had a good time."

"I can’t honestly say that I have, but you’ve been extremely kind, Mr.
Franklin.  Thank you."

And once more Jones proved his right to be called a lady’s man.

"You look more hopeful already, Brownie," laughed Beatrix.

"Well, so long, Malcolm."

"So long, Pel."

"You know where to find me."

"Right."

Malcolm sat next to Mrs. Keene to give her his moral support, and waved
his hand to Beatrix. "You’ll find us on the quay," he said.

"All right, Malcolm.  Don’t wander off till I come."

"Let her go," sang out Mr. Jones and away they went.

And then Beatrix turned to Franklin.  "Thanks, once more," she said.

Franklin’s heart was up in his throat.  "I can bring them back with a
shout."

She shook her head.

"A woman may always alter her mind."

"I’m not a woman yet."

"No, that’s true."

She laughed.  His set face was as amusing as his naïve remark.  "Well,
it was very jolly.  I’ve got quite fond of the _Galatea_.  I shall miss
the sun coming through the portholes in the morning and all my exercise
in the gym."

Franklin raised his hand high above his head.  The first officer did the
same.

"I ought to know where to find you with a letter," said Beatrix.
"Probably mother may want a statement from you as soon as I let the cat
out of the bag. Whew!  Won’t there be a row!"

She began to wonder why Franklin didn’t answer. She saw that he was
standing with his chin up and his shoulders squared and an amazing look
in his eyes. Was it laughter, anger?  "Why," she said, "we’re moving!
Or is it my imagination?"

"No, on we go again," said Franklin.

"But—what do you mean?  On where?  The other launch isn’t lowered yet,
and my things——"

"Our honeymoon begins to-day," said Franklin.

For one instant Beatrix was unable to understand. She saw her luggage
unmoved, the launch away out of hail, the coast receding, she heard the
strong beat of the engines, looked round at the first officer near the
bridge, the sailors standing about, and Franklin ready to spring at her
if she made a wild attempt to leap overboard.  She smothered a cry of
rage, stood for a moment in front of Franklin with blazing eyes and
distended nostrils, and then going off at one of her sudden
tangents,—beckoned to the first officer.  She would show these men that
she was game.

"As you see, I’ve changed my mind about going ashore.  Will you please
have my things taken back and tell the stewardess to unpack them.
Thanks, so much."

The first officer saluted and gave orders.  Several men moved smartly to
carry them out.  From the bridge the Captain watched the launch slide
against the quay, and grinned as he imagined the utter amazement of her
passengers at the sight of his vessel with her dignified nose turned
seaward.  A smart breeze, lively water, unclouded sun, a clear
horizon,—what a picture the _Galatea_ must make from the shore, he
thought.

"A contemptible trick," said Beatrix, looking at Franklin as though he
were a leper.  Other things came to her lips, savage, unrestrained,
white-hot things,—not another living creature would have dared to treat
her like this, not one,—but the first officer was in ear-shot as well as
some of the crew.  Blood and breeding told and so with one of her most
gracious smiles she turned and swung away, singing a little song.
Without a maid, without a companion, without a friend, she was a
prisoner on this yacht-world, at the mercy of the man who had given her
vanity an unhealing wound.  Her one hope, her one most eager hope, was
that she would reach the drawing-room before her tears could be seen.

Franklin watched her go.  To his tremendous love was added pride and
admiration.  She had called him a sportsman, but what could he call her?

"A contemptible trick,—yes," he thought.  "But this is my job.  Fate has
marked me out to make a splendid woman of this spoiled girl, and I’ll do
it."



                                *XXVII*


Mr. Jones, with half a smile playing round his elastic mouth, and an
irresistible twinkle in his small, blue, nimble eyes, quickly overhauled
the _Galatea_, saw the launch properly hoisted and reported to the first
officer.

"Well, that was a little bit of orl-right," he said, rubbing his
handkerchief round the wet leather-lining of his cap.  "Neat, very
neat."

"Did they say anything when they twigged the idea?"

The whole of Mr. Jones’ cockney face puckered into a grin.  "Yes, I
don’t think," he said.  "The old hen cackled as if she had lost her pet
chicken.  A good little soul.  I believe she’d ’ave took a flyin’ leap
back into the launch if Mr. Fraser ’adn’t ’eld her."

"What about Mrs. Larpent?"

"Ma boy, the siren’s langwidge under her breath would ’ave lit a pile of
shavings.  Oh, she’s ’ot stuff, that Larpy, and no mistake.  Personally,
I’m bally sorry she’s off.  It was better than readin’ a novel to watch
’er sittin’ about with a social smile on one side of her face and a
Board meetin’ on the other.  The way she was layin’ bird lime for the
Boss!  Clever? Nor ’arf,—and, moreover, what a nice leg for a stockin’,
eh?"

The first officer nodded sympathetically.  "Yes," he said, "you’re
right.  What about M.F.?"

Mr. Jones mopped his forehead and ran his handkerchief round the inside
of his collar.  The afternoon was warm.  "I only ’ad time to chuck one
glance at Peter Pan," he said, giving Malcolm the nick-name by which he
was known on board, "somethin’ in his eyes puzzled me.  I dunno, but he
’ad the look of a little feller who’d ’ad his finger caught in a door
and didn’t mean to say anything about it.  Well, it broke the bloomin’
monotony, anyway, and the boss ’as my warmest congrats.  How did Goldie
take it?"

The first officer rather resented this precocious but good-hearted
person’s love of nicknames.  "Mrs. Franklin changed her mind," he said,
with some stiffness, "and went along to the drawing-room singing."

"Um," said Mr. Jones, with a disbelieving sniff. "Nevertheless, she can
’ave me.  I’d break my neck and die ’appy for one of them heart-twistin’
smiles of hers.  All the same I shall miss Frenchy, we were gettin’ on
fine.  Well, such is life."

The two men separated, the first officer to relieve the Captain, Horatio
Jones to go below for a cup of tea.  Both intended to discuss the ins
and outs of the affair in full detail later on.  The whole ship’s
company was intrigued as to the odd way in which Mr. and Mrs. Franklin
"went on."  It was almost the one topic of conversation.  For constant
gossip a yacht easily rivals a suburb, an army post or a convent.

Franklin had carried a deck chair into the sun forward a little while
after Beatrix had gone to the drawing-room, and he remained there
reading Nicolls on "Big Game in Bechuanaland" for an hour.  He
concentrated grimly on that delightful Irishman’s account of his hunting
expeditions, but not one word of several chapters reached his brain.
Beatrix, Beatrix, Beatrix,—all the words became her name, on every page
he could see nothing but her face and her slim, graceful, alluring
figure.  Questions as to what he was to do, to say, to think, rose out
of the pages. Finally he shut up the book and, with an empty pipe
between his teeth, sat gazing at the line of horizon which rose and
fell, and built up a dream in which he and she went hand in hand as far
as he could see.  He was startled and brought back to the difficult task
to which, like a sort of crusader, he had bound himself, by the voice of
the deck steward.  "Mrs. Franklin would like you to come to tea, sir."
Mrs. Franklin! By Jove, he would sacrifice everything he had in the
world if only those words were true.  He got up, curious and eager, and
went back amidships on the starboard side.  In front of a wicker table
Beatrix was pouring out tea while she talked to Captain McLeod.  She had
changed back into appropriate clothes and looked the last word in
smartness in a black straw hat with a black and white ribbon, a suit of
white flannel and white shoes with black toe caps. The reason that there
was no sign of redness round her eyes or of swollen lids was because she
had refused to give Franklin the satisfaction of seeing these things by
shedding tears.  No one would ever know the strenuous fight that she had
put up, alone in the drawing-room, to achieve this end.

It gave Franklin a thrill of pleasure to see her sitting there, so
perfectly at home, so completely mistress of herself and the situation,
and the smile of welcome that she gave him made him wonder whether he
was not back in his dream.

"Captain McLeod has condescended to patronize the tea table for once,
Pelham."

McLeod got up and placed a chair for Franklin. "Hardly that," he said,
with her note of invitation in his pocket.

"Good for you, McLeod," said Franklin, tacitly agreeing with Beatrix
that, under the circumstances, the presence of a third person made
things easier.

"Lemon and one lump, isn’t it?"  She made it so.

Franklin was not surprised that she knew.  He had proved the keenness of
her observation.

"Captain McLeod, these are cheese sandwiches,—very nice."

"Thank you."  The skipper was not much more a lady’s man than his owner,
although he had stumbled twice into matrimony, and he felt
preposterously at a loss for small talk; but if, now that the guests had
gone, the monotony of feeding in the mess was to be broken so pleasantly
sometimes, he was glad.  He had confided to the first officer days
before that Mrs. Franklin was "the best-looking thing in girls that he
ever wanted to see."

In the middle of her acting to play hostess to the two men who had
obviously planned the trick that kept her on board and whom she hated
for it, an uncomfortable glimpse of self-analysis told her that she was
rather enjoying the excitement and the stimulation of her effort and
that her love of adventure and new experiences was being fully
gratified.  "You weird person," she said to herself, "what are you made
of?"  And even then her brain began to work on the germ of an idea that
might lead to her escape. Jones might be bribed.  Her blood began to
dance at the thought of it.  What joy to do the double on Franklin!  "I
don’t mean to be unkind," she said, "and of course there can’t be any
more bridge unless Captain McLeod can be induced to play a three-some—"

"Indeed, yes, gladly."

"But it is a relief to be without Mrs. Keene, by way of a change, and
the others.  You must have the gift of second sight, Pelham."

Franklin said nothing, but he caught her eye and bowed to show her more
eloquently than he knew how to express it in front of the Captain that
he admired her pluck.

Beatrix caught his meaning.  There were one or two good points about
this man.  But she sailed on and talked and laughed and said several
charming things to the Captain that went well home.  If Jones proved
loyal or cowardly perhaps McLeod might be flattered into helping her to
triumph over Franklin. It was as well to make friends, at any rate.

But all the while the coast line was growing more and more faint and the
water between herself and the protection of the two women wider and
wider.  Well, her desire to see life had led her to this almost
inconceivable position, and she was certainly continuing to see it.
There was some satisfaction in that.

It was only when the Captain had gone, and the deck steward had taken
away the table, that silence fell.  For a little while those two young
people who had come together by accident remained sitting
self-consciously, wondering what to say.  Franklin hoped that Beatrix
would re-open the question of his trick so that he could renew the old
argument as to the all-round wisdom of marriage.  It was the one burning
subject of his thoughts.  Beatrix sensed this and so determined to talk,
if anything at all were said, of a hundred other things.  She had no
patience with his eagerness to escape from scandal at such a price.  The
silence remained, broken only by the unceasing throb of the engines, the
swish of the sea and the song of the breeze, until finally Beatrix broke
it.  "Come over to the rail," she said, "and let’s watch the sun go
down."

Franklin followed her, everything in him blazing with love and the ache
to touch.

All the west was draped with red, and the sun, conscious of having given
great joy to the fading day, sank with the indescribable dignity of a
beneficent monarch to his rest.  Sky and water paid homage as he went
and the very breeze seemed to hold its breath to watch the passing.

"Isn’t it wonderful?" whispered Beatrix, touched with the beauty and
magic of it.

"Yes," said Franklin.

"I often wonder how there can be skeptics in the world with such a proof
as this of the great Father. Don’t you?"

"Yes," he said again.

"The sun, the moon, the stars, spring, summer, the fall,—everything so
regular, so honest, so gentle, so awful, so human and spiritual and
divine.  Why look at anything but nature for a revelation of God?"

Franklin forgot the sunset and looked at this girl of many sides and
moods.  She had surprised him so often that he half-expected to discover
in her expression the self-consciousness of a pose.  Instead he saw the
wistful, humble look on her lovely face that he had seen on the faces of
French peasant women who, standing in the fields in which they worked so
hard for a bare living, bowed their heads at the sound of the Angelus,
and once again he was back in his dream with her hand in his, standing
on the threshold of a home, listening with infinite joy to the laughter
of little children.

It was not until the sun had gone and the last redness in the sky had
faded that he heard her sigh, and saw her shiver a little and turn away.



                                *XXVIII*


The met again at dinner.

The chief steward, after giving the matter very considerable thought,
had taken several leaves out of the table, thus making the happy pair
"more cosy-like" as he put it.  Beatrix and Franklin were equally glad
to find that they were not going to sit in solemn state at the opposite
ends of a long and narrow board.  It would have added difficulty to a
position already difficult enough.

Franklin had waited outside the dining saloon until Beatrix put in an
appearance.  The orchestra, with quite unconscious irony, was playing
the Entrance of the Gods into Valhalla from _Das Rheingold_.  The
stewards were in their places.  With an irresistible touch of mischief
and her senses alive to the grim humor of it all, Beatrix laid her hand
on Franklin’s arm and went into dinner as though the saloon were a
stage, and the curtain had risen on a crowded auditorium.  She
deliberately switched her mind into a belief that she was playing the
part of a girl who had been forced by her family into a marriage of
convenience with a man whom she hardly knew and that the scene in which
she was to take part was comedy, one with an underlying note of tragedy
in it.  She told herself that she was required to portray a girl of high
courage and spirit who was to convey the impression of being perfectly
at ease although her heart was full of fright.  She did this in order to
string herself up to go through an ordeal with pluck and to prevent
Franklin from having the satisfaction of imagining that he was forcing
her to do something that went against the grain.  Not for one instant
did she intend to let Franklin see how intensely she resented being
compelled to remain on the yacht or permit him to feel that he was
winning.  As to that she had absolutely made up her mind.

Franklin was glad beyond words to fall in with her mood,—as he took it
to be.  Not being psychologically inclined he was unable to deduce the
meaning of it.  He simply told himself that she was fearless and daring
and added these things to the credit list of her splendid points which
was growing larger and larger.  He led her to the table, placed her
chair, sat opposite and looked at her over an arrangement of roses.  She
was in a white dress with a string of pearls round her neck,—a dress so
simple and clean in its lines as to prove the hand of a master in its
making.  She sat with a straight back, her chin up, her golden hair
shimmering.  She reminded Franklin of a daffodil.

He utterly failed to find any answers to his questions as to what he was
to do with her now that he had her alone, how he was to proceed to bring
about the end that obsessed him, or in what way he could persuade or
coerce her out of her supreme and all-controlling individualism.  He was
not one of those curious men who, like Micawber, the master of the silly
art of self-deception, drug themselves into a belief that all is well
for the sake of wandering in a temporary paradise to which they have
paid no entrance fee in the way of work and service.  He was
fundamentally incapable of indulging in that form of mental delusion
which enables children to turn the floor of a nursery into a battlefield
and slothful people with the artistic temperament to wallow in the
triumph of a great achievement before they have even commenced to lay
the foundations of it.  He had the gift of seeing straight.  He could
find no point in looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope.
He was, in a word, honest.  While, therefore, he delighted in seeing
Beatrix playing the role of his wife so perfectly and enjoyed her almost
affectionate manner and charming smiles he remained coldly truthful to
himself and the position in which they both stood and realized that he
was, if anything, farther away than ever from, the fulfilment of what he
had called his "job."

All through dinner Beatrix talked well and quietly about plays and
books, as to which Franklin had very little to say.  So with
uncharacteristic tact she switched off to shooting and fishing and all
was well. She liked hearing him give forth on his own subjects and was
amused to find how much more he knew of the ways and habits of birds and
beasts than those of women.  She made up her mind to see what she could
do with Mr. Jones as soon as possible.

The night was warm and windless.  When Beatrix rose from the table she
went on deck and sat where she could listen to the orchestra.  She asked
the leader to play three pieces for her,—the strange mixture of which
made him smile.  They were Brahms’ "Minnelied," "I Love a Piano," and
"Lead, Kindly Light."  Franklin, believing that she had had enough of
him for the time being, went off to smoke a cigar with McLeod.  As soon
as the little band finished playing and went to dinner Beatrix walked
aft to where, about thirty feet from the stern, a heavy canvas screen
ran ’thwartships from one side of the yacht to the other, shutting off
the deck space allotted to the crew.  In this a fiddle and a mouth organ
were playing one of those heavily sentimental vaudeville songs about
home and mother, and several voices were harmonizing the air rather
well.  The owner of the falsetto with a pronounced tremulo Beatrix
imagined to be a very tall, soft-looking, fat man with a beard which
grew almost up to his eyes.  She was right.  He was the butt of the crew
until he opened his mouth to sing. Presently the music changed to an
Irish reel and Beatrix saw Horatio Jones with an almost smoked cigarette
in his mouth come out, as though drawn by a magnet, or the reed
instrument of the Pied Piper, and with droll solemnity proceed, all
alone, into an orgy of toe and heel with his back to her.

Seeing her chance Beatrix slipped nearer and stood smiling.  "Very
nice," she said, when the dancer wound up with a resounding double
smack.

Mr. Jones was disconcerted, not in being caught in his ecstatic solo,
which he was quite ready to repeat, but because he had his cap on the
wrong way round and was wearing his second-best monkey jacket.  Being a
complete lady’s man he was naturally a conceited person and nothing put
him out so much as to be taken unprepared.  He grinned fatuously and put
his cap on correctly.

"It must have taken a long time to become so proficient," she went on,
giving him a dazzling smile.

"Oh, well, y’see, mam, my mother was a pro-dancer in her young days and
I caught it from ’er, I expect."

"That’s very interesting.  Tell me about it, Mr. Jones."  She began to
pace the deck.

Jones fell in step, surreptitiously mopping his neck with his
handkerchief.  This was the moment of his life.  During other cruises he
had often had pleasant chats with Franklin and his friends who found him
and his cockney accent rather amusing, but he had never hoped to do more
than pass the time of day with this proud girl.  He was on his best
Sunday behavior.

"Me father went down to the sea in ships, the same as all me family," he
said, with what he believed to be a certain amount of style.  "At the
time he met mother he was skipper of the _Princess Mary_, carryin’
passengers from London to Margit, a seaside resort on the Kent coast of
the old country."

"I know it," said Beatrix, who remembered without the least pleasure its
ugly pier, stiff promenade, and heterogeneous mass of trippers.

"Is that so, mam?  Ah, some little old place!  I give you _my_ word.
Well, dad catches sight of mother sunnin’ herself on deck and as he use
ter say, she stopped ’is watch, which is slang fer love at first glance.
Bein’ skipper and all like that naturally she was a bit bucked up when
he spoke and asked if she was comfortable.  That began it and instead of
stayin’ at Margit she made the return trip the next day, ’ad a fish
supper along of father at the Anchor Hotel and was spliced up before the
end of the week."

"Very romantic," said Beatrix, "and what then?"

"Well," said Jones, with a little laugh, "then there was me, the first
of nine, and mother give up ’er terpsichorean career, so ter speak."

"But she taught you all to dance?"

"Yes, mam, and the last time I saw the old man was at a concert in aid
of the orphans of seamen at Barking Creek and me and me brothers and
sisters, with mother in the middle, give an exhibition of fancy dancin’
and I wish you could ’ave seen the old man’s face.  He died shortly
after that."

"I’m sorry," said Beatrix, wondering whether he meant from the effects
of that evening.

"Thank you, mam, but he ’ad the satisfaction of seein’ his five sons
well placed at sea and his gals doin’ fine business on the ’alls as ’The
Four Delantys,’ and very, very ’ot stuff too, I give you _my_ word."

"How splendid.  You must be very proud to belong to such a family.  I’ll
get you to tell me some more about this romantic love match while we’re
out."

"Any time, mam, with pleasure," and then with great style the man, who
was as good a sailor as he was a dancer, saluted.  Evidently he was to
be dismissed. "Well, as I said before, she can ’ave _me_," he said to
himself as pleased as Punch.

"Have you to be up early in the morning?"

"Yes, mam, five o’clock.  We heave to for a couple of hours for me to go
ashore with the mail and pick up the papers and magazines."

Beatrix nearly jumped out of her skin.  He was going ashore!  Here was
her chance without taking this man into her confidence or bribing him to
disobey possible orders.  "I’ll be up at five too," she said, trying to
keep her voice steady.  "You shall take me with you.  Mr. Franklin has a
birthday to-morrow and you solve the problem of how I can get something
for him, as a little surprise."

"Very glad, I’m sure," said Mr. Jones.

"Good night, then.  Be sure you don’t go without me.  I won’t keep you
waiting."

She was far too excited to go to sleep and lay for an hour making plans
and already revelling in her triumph over Franklin.  She had told the
stewardess to call her at half-past four.  It would be easy to telephone
to the town where Brownie and Mrs. Larpent would have to spend the night
and after all she would have her motor tour.  She would leave the
baggage on the yacht.  What did it matter?  Life was very good,—and her
little lie about Franklin’s birthday was brilliant!

She heard Franklin striding up and down the deck like a sentry.  It made
her feel even more like a prisoner than ever.

Only Franklin and the watching stars knew who was the real prisoner,
sentenced for life to a love that set a hitherto untouched heart into a
great blaze.


The morning was dull and leaden and windless, the sea as flat as the
palm of a hand.  Dressed and ready in good time and wearing a most
amazing smile, Beatrix slipped out of her stateroom and over to the port
side.  Mr. Jones was waiting in the small launch, talking to one of the
sailors.  She was going to escape from her floating jail, yes, escape.
How she would love to be able to see Franklin’s face when she didn’t
turn up for breakfast.

And then her arm was seized in an iron grip.  "No, you don’t.  Believe
me, no."

It was Franklin, with an overcoat over his dinner jacket.  He had
obviously not been to bed.

She drew up and tried to bluff.  "I’m only going to ring up Mrs. Keene
and tell her——"

"Go back to your room!"

"But I must give her instructions as to what——"

"Go back to your room, I tell you."

She stamped her foot.  This man was unendurable,—and his hand hurt her
arm.  "What is all this? Do you suppose that I’m going to take orders
from you?"

"Jones, get off," he shouted, "and don’t hold us up longer than you
need."

"Aye, aye, sir," answered the dancing sailor, who wished he could have
heard what had been said.

"As to taking orders from me, yes, from now onwards.  Breakfast is at
nine," and he gave her back her arm and turned away.

Beatrix put her hand over her mouth to gag a scream of anger.  But she
would make him pay for this, with the other debts.  She would indeed.
If Mr. Jones couldn’t be worked upon again, there were the first officer
and the Captain,—and they, unlike this cold-blooded bully, were men.



                                 *XXIX*


It had been a queer day for Franklin.

Beginning with anger it gradually led him into a dozen other emotions,—a
reluctant admiration for the cunning way in which Beatrix had been going
to take advantage of Horatio Jones; amusement when she didn’t appear for
breakfast and he thought that she was sulking; loneliness when tea-time
came and there was still no sign of her; finally fright, sheer, honest
fright when he discovered at sun-down that she had not rung for the
stewardess during the whole of the day.

He sent for the stewardess.  "Why do you suppose Mrs. Franklin hasn’t
needed you?" he asked.

"I don’t know, I’m sure, sir."  The woman was evidently worried too.
She fingered her apron nervously.

"When were you in her room last?"

"At half-past eight, sir."

"Well?"

"Well, sir, I called Mrs. Franklin at four-thirty this morning——"

"Yes, I know."

"And I went in again as usual at half-past eight to see what I could do
to help in any way and Mrs. Franklin had gone back to bed, sir."

"Go on."

"Well, sir, I hung about for a few minutes and then Mrs. Franklin half
woke up and said: ’I’m tired, don’t come again until I ring.’"

"You’re quite sure she hasn’t rung?"

"Yes, sir.  I’ve never left my cabin,—had my meals brought there, sir,
in case——"

"I see.  Thank you."  He opened the door for the sturdy little woman who
seemed to have caught his anxiety, and then killed the longest half an
hour that he remembered ever to have spent.  Was Beatrix in her
stateroom?  Had she by any chance got away? That was absurd.  How could
she with officers and crew about all day?  Naturally she was tired,
having been up so early, but why stay in bed for so many hours?  Her
vitality and love of movement, her constant desire to do things and take
exercise, her homogeneous nature which led her to talk to all and sundry
made it impossible for her either to wake or sleep for such a long time.
She must be ill!  Yes, that was it. She had fainted or done one of the
queer things that he had heard of women doing.  The stewardess must see
her at once.  Why?  She was no use.  For one thing she stood in awe of
this girl who gave such definite orders and saw that they were observed.
For another she was rough and untrained and probably incompetent and
like all her countrywomen sensational.  She might scream or
something....  For Heaven’s sake what was he to do?

With all his nerves jangling like a bunch of telegraph wires in a gale
he went aft.  The sun had gone. It was almost dark.  One star had come
up, the outpost of the night.  There was, he saw, no light in her suite.
He stood at her door, irresolute, with the hand of fright on his heart.
He was homesick for the sight of her and the sound of her voice, even if
it should be cold and antagonistic, or mocking and scornful.  He felt
oddly and strangely young and lonely and worried, afraid of some
intangible thing.  Suppose she had done something——

He couldn’t bear the thought.  He opened her door, shut it and went in
and stood in the dark.  It was the sitting-room.  On the table in the
middle there was a reading lamp.  He groped about and found it and
turned it up.  There was a book on the floor, open face down, its leaves
all bent under.  It must have been flung there.  A soft, black hat was
lying up against the wall.  It looked hurt.  And everywhere there was
the subtle influence of scent.

He went across to the bedroom door, hesitated, turned the handle and
went in.

By the light from the sitting-room door, he could see the bed.  The
blankets had been flung back and under a sheet Beatrix lay, her cheek on
one hand, the other soft and flaccid, palm-up, on the cover.  A great
fan of golden hair covered the pillow.  She was lying on her side like a
child with her knees drawn up and one bare shoulder gleaming.

The eternal yearning of Nature made Franklin want to cry out at the
sight of her.  He stood humble, inarticulate, bewitched.  The room
seemed to be filled with the sound of sweet, far-away voices.

He went forward and bent over her, listening to her breathing.  It was
agony to be so near and so far away.  After a moment she laughed softly
and stirred like a waking flower and drew up her hand and moved it
lazily as if trying to catch the figure of sleep that was turning to go.

He drew back quickly, panting.

"Is that you, Brownie dear?  Oh-ho, I’ve had such a lovely rest.  I’ve
been lying all among buttercups and clover far, far away from the sea.
It’s good to be on land again and hear the birds sing and watch the
grasses nod."  She turned over and stretched and gave a long sigh and
opened her eyes.  Then she looked about astonished and sat up quickly,
startled.

"Who’s there?"  Her voice was sharp and frightened.

"Me," said Franklin.

"You!"  She put her hands over her breasts.

"I’m sorry.  I thought you were ill."  How tame it sounded!

"Ill?  Why?"

"It’s late and you haven’t rung for the stewardess all day.  I wondered
if anything was the matter.  So I came in.  That’s all.  Can I do
anything for you?"

"Only—go," she said.

And so he turned and went out and strode forward and stood hatless under
the sky.  Other stars had come.  The line of horizon had become merged
into the darkness.  The breeze left the taste of salt on his parched
lips.  The eternal yearning grew in the silence and the call of Nature
seemed to echo through the world.  Everything that was true and clean
and honest in him answered to it.  All his dreams as a boy and a youth,
vague, unremembered; all the sudden, surprising elations that had swept
over him at the sight, perhaps, of a priceless view of open country, the
misty interior of an old Cathedral, the appeal of a throbbing melody,
took shape and became the lovely body of that sleeping girl.  He had
never understood so definitely, so conclusively, so permanently, that in
Beatrix was the epitome of all his hopes.

She dined in her own room that night and had breakfast sent to her in
the morning.  Franklin hung about near her stateroom in the hope of
seeing her. He could hear her singing as he passed and talking to the
little Irish woman, but at twelve o’clock there was still no sign of her
on deck.  He was just going along to the Captain’s room in order to talk
and be talked to when the stewardess came and gave him a note. He took
it and blushed like a school-boy and carried it down to his own room.

It had no conventional beginning.  It plunged straight to the point.
"I’m not sulking, which would be human enough, or suffering from shock,
which would be reasonable under the circumstances.  I’m thinking and
weighing things up.  I’ve told the stewardess that I’ve got neuralgia so
that the people of your small kingdom may not run away with the notion
that their rulers have had a wordy argument.  I may inflict myself upon
you for lunch if by that time I have found the way out of my mental
maze.  If not, you may be alone in all your glory for days,—weeks
perhaps."

It ended as abruptly as it began.

Days,—weeks perhaps!



                                 *XXX*


Having written the note, Beatrix proceeded to dress for lunch.

It was altogether a new thing to be without a maid and a companion.
Never once in all her life, not even at school, had she been permitted
to raise a finger for herself.  Helene and Mrs. Lester Keene would have
stood aghast and imagined that the end of the world was at hand if they
could have seen her that morning doing her hair, putting on her shoes
and choosing a frock.  She did these things without assistance from the
stewardess, who stood by impotent and uneasy, because she enjoyed the
experience as a deviation from the regular routine of her life and found
plenty to laugh at in her ridiculous inexpertness.  It was a game and
after her orgy of sleep she felt so electrically fit and vital as to be
ready to play at anything, especially if it was new.

It was true that she had been thinking.  Sitting like a tailor on her
bed, with her hair in a flood about her shoulders, she had gone over the
last two incidents of this queer honeymoon trip with great care.  She
was astonished, and even a little uneasy, to find that she was beginning
to look at the whole business from a new angle.  She discovered, after
an honest examination, that the mere romantic side of this kidnapping
expedition, as she called it, no longer interested her, nor its
unconventionality, either, although she chuckled to think of the
mistaken complacency of her family in aiding and abetting Franklin to
commit a breach that was without a parallel in the history of American
society: It was enough to make a cat laugh.  What it seemed to her to
lack was the element of personal danger which had made the episode in
her bedroom a very real fright.  There was, it seemed to her, no red
blood in the business, no flare of sex.  Franklin was either the most
cold-blooded man imaginable or a past master of the art of hiding his
feelings.

This was what she wanted to find out.  Her thinking led her up to the
fact that her interest and curiosity were centered on this one point.
She was perfectly frank in acknowledging to herself that her vanity was
piqued.  All other men, except Malcolm, who, after all, was not so much
a man as a poet, had made it plain that they were men.  Her femininity
had triumphed.  But with Franklin it was different.  Was it possible
that the more he was with her the less he was attracted?  Here was
something on which to concentrate and use her wits.

It was, therefore, with the excitement of having found something to do,
a new game to play at, a new chapter to begin, that she dressed for
lunch.  The muddle in which she left her stateroom,—skirts that she had
looked at, considered and discarded, stockings and shoes all over the
floor, shirts and ties all chaotic in the drawers,—was a sight to see.

Only a few minutes late, she swung into the dining-saloon, fresh and
sweet, dancing-eyed and vital, ready to seize the first chance of
putting Franklin to a new test.

He had none of the look of a man who had been up all night, tortured by
a desire that had kept him pacing the hours away beneath a supremely
indifferent moon. He had just come in from a swim.  His body, having
been exercised, was grateful and in fine fettle.  His skin was burned a
deeper brown.  He was as hard as nails.  He had not expected to see her,
but from force of habit had waited in case she should come.

"Good morning," she said, cheerily.

"Good morning."  He was cheery, too.

"You’ve waited for me, I see."

"Of course.  I hoped you’d come."

"You say that as if you meant it."

"I do mean it."

"So bored that you can even put up with me?"

"I’m never bored at sea."

Her laugh rang out.  "I gave you a perfect chance to say something
nice," she said.

"I’m not much of a hand at saying nice things."

"I notice that."

Franklin let the challenge go.  He had never felt it more necessary to
keep a gag in his mouth.  The things that were on the tip of his tongue
to say were too primeval to put into words.

"Have you missed me?"

"We’ve all missed you."

"I asked if _you’d_ missed me?"

"Yes."

"All right, my friend," she thought, "wait a bit."

She gave a nod and a smile to the stewards and ate with such excellent
appetite that their efforts were well rewarded.  The sun was cheerful,
the saloon was cheerful, the stewards quick and willing, and
Franklin,—yes, Franklin was certainly a very good-looking person.
Bother the yacht, and her people and what had happened to Brownie, and
the loss of a maid!  Life was full of fun.

"The other day you said something about a fishing trip."

"Yes, I know."

"Tell me about it."

"Well, I’d arranged with McLeod to go off on the big launch for three
days but——"

"But what?"

"It’s not much fun going alone."

Here was her first chance.  "Take _me_," she cried, leaning forward.
"I’d love to go.  I’ve never fished, but you could teach me."

Franklin looked at her sharply to see if she were joking.  But her
expression was that of a child eager for adventure.  "But the launch has
no cabin," he said, "and we sleep under a hood hauled over her."

This was wonderful,—a test, indeed.  She pressed the point eagerly.
"Why not?  I don’t mind roughing it.  I don’t mind anything if it has
compensations. Come out and talk it over."

Franklin followed her.  She was leaning against the rail with the breeze
in her hair and the sunlight on her shoulders.  What if he fell in with
her impetuous wish?  Jones and one of the crew would sleep, as usual, up
in the peak and he and she must lie almost side by side under the awning
in the stern.

"Please don’t make difficulties," she said.  "Let me have my own way
just for once."

He could have yelled with laughter.  Confound it, the girl was having
her own way all the time, except in unessential things.

"There are various degrees of roughing it," he said, cursing his
conscience.

"Yes, but if I don’t mind,—if I want to?"

"Have a look at the launch, and then think."

"I’m tired of thinking.  Arrange it,—please arrange it."  She didn’t
want in the least to go, and she knew better than he did how absurd the
idea was. But here was a chance to force him out of inarticulation, to
see his self-composure crumble and break.

"Three days out.  Hardly room to swing a cat. Two men with us——"

Beatrix gave an impatient sigh.  "I wish to heaven I wasn’t a girl," she
said, and waited expectantly.

It was no good.  Franklin’s hot words were choked back.  He didn’t know
the Eden game that she was playing and would be hanged before he would
give himself away to be laughed at.

And so the moment passed.

She walked up and down with him for an hour, laughing and talking.  He
was amazed to find that she was more friendly and charming than ever
before and that her sleep seemed to have removed from her mind all trace
of resentment.  "Let’s talk young stuff," she said.  "What we believe
in, what we think we might do to solve all the problems of the world and
all that, shall we?  It’s awfully good to get on a high horse every now
and then and sweep away institutions with a phrase, knock down old laws
with a well-aimed verb, and topple big men out of their places with the
tip of a toe."

And they did so in the old-new way of youth, saying things earnestly,
with the air of prophets, that had been labelled unpractical before they
were born; letting their tongues run away with them as far as they could
before they limped and halted; listening to each other with their eyes
while getting the next outburst ready in their brains.  And after
awhile, as usual, they steered into personalities, likes and dislikes
and mutual friends.

"And what do you think of Ida Larpent?" Beatrix asked suddenly.

"Very attractive, but——"

"But better as somebody else’s dinner partner?"

"Oh, no," said Franklin.  "She made the average dinner bearable.  She’s
in a class of her own,—beautiful, well-travelled, tremendously all
there, and awfully good fun to take about."

"Take about?"  Her eyebrows went up.  "Did you take her about?  But
perhaps that’s rather an indiscreet question?"

"Not a bit.  When I was in town some months ago, bored stiff,—all my
pals being away,—she was a real good sort and we did the
rounds,—everything except the Opera—which seemed to be having an orgy of
Wagner, and I can’t stand that over-exuberant German.  I did a cycle of
him once in London and it seemed to me that if he’d had the sense and
honesty to scrap sixty per cent of his stuff there would have been
enough over for two very decent operas.  What do you think?"

She said something to keep the ball going but nothing of what she
thought.  So he could own to having been so attracted by Ida Larpent as
to take her about night after night, but when it came to her, Beatrix,
he could remain perfectly normal.

And again she thought: "All right, my friend, wait a bit."  If she
couldn’t compete with Ida Larpent—good Lord!

But no, even under the rankle of this new thing, and even though she
went to dinner that night in a mood as daring and devil-may-care as her
dress and stood looking out at the star-bespattered sky for a long time
with her arm through his, he remained brotherly. In fact, and in not
seeing it her observation was uncharacteristically out of form,—her new
delightful treatment of him made him very happy and contented. She was
so charming and natural and breezy.  She never once laughed at him or
held him up to ridicule. He could almost persuade himself that they were
really on a honeymoon, except when a whiff of scent bewildered his
senses or the gleam of her whiteness made his heart tumble.

And so it went on for several apparently uneventful days,—days full of
sun and health and simple confidences, of wide, gorgeous views of sea
and sky, of all the exquisite coloring of sunrise and sunset, and of the
sweet singing of far-away voices.  It was to bed that she took her
growing pique; in the quiet of her own room that she asked herself, like
the spoiled child that she was, what was the matter with this man. Under
normal conditions, if they had been, perhaps, members of a house-party,
she would have liked him extremely.  He had greatly improved on
acquaintance. He was something more than a sportsman.  He had
imagination, idealism, extraordinary simplicity and even a touch,—odd as
she found it in his type,—of spirituality.  It came out in his deep
appreciation of Nature and love of melody.  Why didn’t he find her
attractive,—even as attractive as Ida Larpent?

Only the nights were permitted by Franklin to see the strength of his
desire, the torture of his passion; and these he killed and wore away by
pacing interminably up and down, throwing himself on his bed finally
tired out mentally and physically.

Very soon the game lost its novelty.  Getting nothing to appease her
vanity Beatrix gave it up.  Once more the monotony of the sea bored her,
the sensation of being tied by the leg got on her nerves.  Franklin said
a rather impatient thing one morning in reply to a sarcastic remark of
hers and before she could stop herself and remember to stick to her pose
of complete indifference she put her hand imploringly on his arm and
burst into an intense and genuine appeal.  "Well, let’s end it," she
begged.  "Nothing can come of all this, nothing at all.  You’re only
dodging the issue, really you are.  Don’t let’s play the fool any
longer.  The more you try to force me to agree to your plan the harder I
shall fight.  Don’t you know me yet? I’m built like that.  I can’t help
it.  Oh, do be sane about it and come down to facts.  We shall both grow
old and grey on this prison ship because I’ll never give in, never.  It
isn’t that I don’t think you’re right. You are.  I’ll concede that.  We
ought to marry and settle the whole trouble.  It’s the easiest way.  But
I’ve said I won’t, and I won’t.  I tell you I won’t. I know I’m a fool.
I know I’m pig-headed.  I know I deserve to be made to pay.  But you
can’t alter me now.  It’s too late.  So let me off and I’ll take my
punishment and the whole thing will blow over. People’s memories are
short and every day, every hour other scandals come up, are talked about
and forgotten. Pelham, will you please be good and let me go?"

All this came with a rush.  Her voice was soft and winning, her eyes
full of tears, her hand warm and sweet upon his arm.  But every word
that she said, every look that she gave him, every touch of appeal that
came into her voice made her more and more valuable as the prize of his
life, and the sight of her tears, especially the sight of her tears,
steeled him to stick to his job to the very end.  All her spoiling, all
the falsity of her training, all the grotesque power of the wealth with
which she had always been surrounded, had not completely changed her
from the little girl whom Malcolm had painted in his
never-to-be-forgotten picture, and of whom he had himself seen glimpses.

"No," he said.  "I’m as pig-headed as you are.  I don’t care if we do
grow old and grey on this yacht. You’ve got to marry me."

Beatrix drew back.  She was cold and angry and bitterly annoyed with
herself for having asked once more for mercy.  "All right," she said.
"Then the fight goes on, and I give you warning that I shall use any
weapons, fair or unfair, that I can find."

Before she could turn away and hide the marks of her tears, Captain
McLeod came up.  She smiled and gave him a cheery word.  It was
admirably and characteristically well done.

"McLeod," said Franklin quietly.  "Tell Jones to get the big launch
fixed up right away.  He’s to come with me on the fishing trip."

Beatrix left them to talk over the arrangements. What did she care where
he went?  He could go to the devil if he liked.  She whistled as she
moved away but her eyes were black with rage.  This man who had the
temerity, the impudence not only to stand up to her but to set himself
to bend her to his will should see now of what sort of stuff she was
made.  Up to that very moment, in the face of everything that he had
done, she had not cared to believe that this struggle of wills, this
clash of temperaments, was worth taking with real seriousness.  She had
dodged it, laid it aside, treated it as half a joke, believed that if
she really exerted herself it could be brought to a quick and definite
end. She had not taken the trouble to rouse herself fully and set her
wits at work to get away from the yacht. The pleasure of playing with
fire was too great.  She really had wished to see how far Franklin would
go. But now, having humbled herself again and been turned down, she went
round another mental corner. Her interest and curiosity in the affair
had come suddenly to an end.  What did it matter in what way her family
would presently revenge themselves?  _This_,—this business,—was
insufferable.  To be dictated to, coerced, compelled, driven,—good
Heavens, it was not to be endured.  From that moment she would set
herself to outwit him, humiliate him and laugh in his face. The work
that she had begun with Mr. Jones in a half-hearted way would now, of
course, count for nothing. He was going with Franklin.  But there
remained Captain McLeod and the first officer, and she would have three
days.  Revolutions had been brought about in less time than that, and
she had smiled other men, including Franklin, into her service.

She went to the glass in her stateroom and rubbed away the marks of her
tears with impatience and scorn. Then she stood back so that she could
see the full length of her figure and took stock, measured herself up,
made a cool and keen examination.  Finally, having turned this way and
that, she nodded at her reflection with approval.  "Fair or
unfair,—we’ll see," she said.  "There are the Captain and the first
officer."

And then, smiling again and happy in having come at last to a
conclusion, she changed into gym kit and in five minutes was perched up
on the wooden horse, riding hell for leather.



                                 *XXXI*


There, half an hour later, Franklin found her.

The horse was motionless.  She was sitting side saddle with one slim leg
crossed over the other, her arms folded over her young breasts.  She was
in deep thought but there was a little smile of excitement round her
mouth which, if Franklin had known it as well as Brownie did, would have
put him instantly on his guard.  Things happened when Beatrix smiled
like that.

The port-holes were open and several round patches of sunlight made
pools upon the floor.  One had fastened upon the blue silk bathrobe
which Beatrix had thrown off.  The sea was as smooth as the waters of a
lake and but for the busy song of the engines the yacht might have been
lying against a quay.

Franklin pulled up at the door.  He had come up quietly and unnoticed.
He held his breath and stood looking, with a curious mixture of homage
and ire, at this mere kid, as she seemed to him to be, this girl-child
perched up on that toy horse like a fairy on a toadstool, lost in a
day-dream.  He asked himself, in amazement, what magic there was all
about her that had swung him out of his course, put a new beat into his
heart, that could turn him hot and cold, churn him into a desire that
was at times almost beyond human endurance,—which had put a reason and a
meaning into life that startled and surprised, laid enchantment upon
him, made him wretched and angry and eager, feel like a king and a clown
in quick succession.

For the first time since he had met her he had caught her unawares,
quiet.  It was extraordinary.  This was not the young hedgehog, with all
her defenses pointed, the immature woman of complete sophistication,
ready at any moment to smile and answer back, to hide behind a manner,
to dart out with a flash of wit, to mock, to wheedle, to inspire, to
anger.  This was Eve in exile, the original woman come upon suddenly
alone in a glade, away from any glistening pool in which she could watch
the reflection of her face and gleaming body, from any Adam upon whom to
try her wiles. This was Beatrix, herself, at last.

Franklin moved to go.  He felt like Peeping Tom at the top window of
that house in Coventry from which he gloated upon the beauty of Godiva
"clothed on in Chastity."  It was unfair, almost indecent, it seemed to
him, to take advantage of this lovely chameleon in her original color.
And as he moved she heard him and changed.

"Hello, Strong Man," she cried out, slipping from the horse.  "What’s
the latest?"  Her expression was impudent, her friendliness an audacity.

Franklin leaned against the door.  He had never supposed that a time
would ever come when he would be obliged to play-act.  "I’ve cut the
fishing trip for to-day," he said, as though he were talking to a young
sister.  "Jones has damaged his hand and as he’s the only man I care to
take, the thing’s off."

"Oh, poor Mr. Jones!"

"You implied just now that you were bored stiff with the yacht."

"Fed up, I meant to say, which is several degrees worse."

"What about coming out on the small launch and having lunch on one of
the islands westward?"

Beatrix picked up her bath-robe and swung it round her shoulders.  "It
sounds too good to be true," she said, without enthusiasm.  "Thank you."

Franklin blocked the door.  She was in his blood. "Good God," he cried,
all out of control, "why don’t you smash that damned shell and be
yourself all the time?"

She raised her eyebrows and swung a tassel round and round.  "You don’t
like my shell, then?"

"I loathe it!"

"Well, nobody asked you to do anything else, you know."

Her iciness and savoir faire, the fearless way in which she stood up to
him, the utter indifference to his opinion one way or the other on any
mortal subject crushed his passion as effectively as a snuffer on the
flame of a candle.  He stood aside to let her pass.

But she had seen the sudden blaze in his eyes.  It was not to be missed.
She mistook it for the sort of passion that she had unconsciously roused
in Sutherland York and used her wits to quell.  There had been none of
this, to her way of thinking, in the kisses that Franklin had snatched.
They were merely to show her that he was owner.  She had never conceived
it possible that this inarticulate man could love her.  He made it too
obvious that she fell far short of his ideal.  But she had now at last
caught the desired glimpse of that side of his character that she had
been working to find.  He was not then so supremely self-composed as he
made himself out to be. He had shown her, in a flash,—and she got this
with a great throb of feminine triumph,—that however well he had
believed in the truth of his scornful statement as to the huts on the
desert island when he had made it, he would lie if he repeated it now.

And with this balm to the wound in her vanity, which had never healed,
she passed him.  He lived as a man again for the first time since the
bedroom incident,—and she liked him for it.  She got this too, as she
went off to her suite, and it came on top of her determination to fight
"fair or unfair," as something of a shock.  To begin to like him when
she ought to detest him most!—"Good Lord," she said to herself as she
dressed to go out in the launch, with greater pains than usual, "what a
mass of contradictions you are, my child.  What are you _really_, I
wonder?—and how will all this end?"

Franklin went slowly across to the port-side, disheartened and
depressed.  "What the devil’s the use of me?  Every time I open my mouth
it makes everything more hopeless.  I’m as bad as a bull in a china
shop.  I’d better let her go and chuck the whole blessed thing and,
after all, is there any gold to dig out or has it all turned to brass?
I’ll be hanged if I know."



                                *XXXII*


There was a certain amount of bustle going on. The yacht had found an
anchorage.  The small launch had been let down.  A steward handed over a
lunch basket to Jones, who was "willing" hard to be taken along.  Men
moved at the double in the execution of their duties.  The first officer
stood by with a watchful eye.  He had made a small bet with Jones that
he would be left behind.

It was midday and very warm.  There was not enough wind to tease a curl.
When Beatrix appeared, in the fewest possible clothes, she was followed
by the stewardess carrying a sort of mackintosh bag in which were a
bathing dress, a tin of powder, a brush and comb, and so forth.

"Back about five," said Franklin.

The first officer saluted.  "Very good, sir.  Keep an eye on the
weather.  It looks like a change to me."

"All right."

Franklin got into the launch and handed Beatrix aboard.  "You’re taking
a coat, aren’t you?"

"No," said Beatrix.  "Why?  It’s lovely and warm."

"I’d like you to."

She smiled up at him and shook her head.  She held the cards now.

Franklin caught the eye of the precocious Jones and jerked his thumb
towards the yacht.  The first officer grinned to see him nip aboard.  A
dollar had its uses but it was well worth ten to see Jones squashed.

Away went the launch, the happy pair in the stern, the white silk shirt
and red tie of the girl standing out against the water, the midday sun
beating down from a cloudless sky on the trim and glossy boat.  Franklin
turned his head over his shoulder, and waved his left hand at the
Captain.  The pit-pit of the motor awoke echoes.

"Owe you a bloomin’ dollar," said Jones, with a touch of temper.

The first officer let his laugh go.

The Captain left the bridge, went along to his quarters, took off his
coat, lit a cigar and sat down to write to his wife.  It was not his day
for writing, but on his brain there was a very charming picture of a
girl in a white silk shirt and a red tie.

Beatrix crossed her legs and drew in a long breath. "The prisoner goes
for an airing," she said.

The chameleon had changed color again.  Franklin caught her sunny mood
with eagerness.  "Glad to get off?"

"Oh, goodness, yes!  I feel like the man who after living at the Plaza
for a year sneaked into Child’s for his meals.  Anything for a change.
Which island are you making for?"

Franklin pointed.  "That one.  It has a natural landing-place, enough
shade——"

"A good place to bathe from?"

"But you’re not going to bathe, are you?"

"Oh, yes, I am!  There are my things.  Have you got yours?"

"Yes, they’re in the locker."

"I shall simply adore to swim.  If you’d been any sort of a husband
you’d have seen to it before."  She shot this out without thinking.  Her
spirits were too high to bother about anything that he might say. She
had forgotten for the time being that he was a man.

"Being your sort of husband," he blurted out, "I keep all suggestions to
myself."

She gave one quick look at him.  Yes, she held the cards now, all of
them.  There would be no more monotony from day to day.  This man was
coming through, like a negative in course of development. She would be
able to play with him as a cat plays with a mouse, make him pay over and
over again for having hurt her so deeply, and as soon as it suited her
bring him to the point of being willing and anxious to let her go,
getting nothing from her.

She sat back and smiled.  How infinitely satisfactory it was to resume
her place in the world and in her own esteem!  It wasn’t her fault if
everybody had spoiled her.  It was theirs.  The point was, was she worth
spoiling?  And for Franklin to say yes,—Franklin who had fought so hard
to wear a mask and had played the tyrant with such success,—that was
good hearing!

"What time do you propose having lunch?" she asked, after a long and
happy silence.

"Any time you like."

"Do you mean that?"

He looked astonished.  "Yes, of course."

"I ask because it will take time for me to get used to your showing me
any consideration," she said, with the imp back on her shoulder.  "Your
iron hand has almost cowed me.  You have nearly broken my spirit.  I am
a humble creature now, grateful for crumbs of kindness."

Franklin threw back his head and laughed until the tears came into his
eyes.

"What’s the matter?" she asked, gravely.

He turned and looked her full in the face.  "The devil was somewhere
about when you were born," he said.  "I wish to Heaven we were back in
the good old days when men could beat their women without fear of police
and suffrage and all the silly stuff that protects you against your
proper treatment."

Before she could answer he stopped the engine and ran the launch
alongside a low ridge of rock, sprang out, helped her up, jammed a pin
into a cleft and fastened the painter to it.

She stood up in front of him, proud and glorious in her youth and
beauty.  "Well, here we are on your desert island," she said.  "Beat me.
Why don’t you?"

For a moment he said nothing.  He ran his eyes over her,—golden hair,
flower-like face, eyes in which there was a lurking laugh, lovely slim
body.  "I almost think you’re not worth it," he said.

Almost!—how foolish of him to say that.  One day soon he should withdraw
not only the almost but the whole remark, on his knees,—and be left
there, like a fool.

"May I have that little bag, please?" she asked, sweetly.

He hiked it out and gave it to her.

"You know the island, don’t you?"

"Every inch of it."

"Where do you propose that I shall undress?"

"Come along and I’ll show you."  He started off, clambering over the
brown rocks.

She followed to a place about a hundred yards away,—a sort of cave on a
tiny spread of beach.  "Oh, how perfectly delightful," she cried.
"Built for bathing, isn’t it?"

"Don’t go in before I come back.  There’s a strong undertow here.  Sing
out when you’re ready," and away he went.

Beatrix chose a dry spot on the sand and without a second’s hesitation
sat down and started to untie her shoes.  She longed to get into the
sea, to enjoy the exhilaration of exercise, to feel the warm sun on her
wet limbs and be a child of Nature.  Franklin might talk as glibly as he
liked about the good old days but he was a sportsman.  She had no fear.

He hadn’t long to wait.  He got into his bathing things and had only
taken two puffs of a cigarette before he heard her call.  Once more he
climbed over and down the rocks,—stopped for a moment and drew in his
breath at the sight of her,—and then went on.

She waved her hand.  She was standing ankle-deep in the sea with a red
rubber cap drawn tightly over her hair, without stockings and in a suit
that looked like a boy’s.  "Delicious," she called out.

It was the very word he had already discovered.

And in they tumbled, laughing and splashing, like children.  "Let’s dry
in the sun," she said coming out breathlessly, her face and arms
glistening, the wet suit as tight as a black skin.  She sat down and
peeled off the rubber cap and shook her hair free. "This is the best
thing I’ve done for months."

He stood a few yards away and threw pebbles into the sea.  He felt
awfully young and fit.  It was almost as good as dreaming to be out
there, like that, with _her_.  He chucked as hard as he could, with all
his force, competing against each good shot.  "How about that?" he cried
out, with a laugh.

Beatrix looked at him.  She had merely accepted him before.  He was like
the bronze figure of "The Runner" come to life, with his small head and
broad, deep chest, hard muscular arms, clean, hipless lines, tremendous
strength.  The sight of him gave her a sudden, unexplainable sense of
shyness.  She tried to shake it off.  It was disconcerting and foolish.

He flung himself down and began to babble to her, pouring sand through
his fingers.  His dark, thick hair was still wet.  His skin was tanned
almost black. The whites of his eyes were as white as his teeth. His
moustache, red as a rule, was burned to the color of straw.  An odd
thought flashed through her mind. He must like her to have spared her,
to have respected her.  How easy to have broken her if he’d cared!

"Isn’t it wonderful here?" she said, resenting a feeling of
self-consciousness.

"Pretty good, isn’t it?  Malcolm and a whole crowd of us bathed here
last year.  Very queer.  I remember he told me about you that
morning,—how well you swim, or something, and by Jove, you do swim
well,—as well as you do everything else."  He was not paying
compliments.  There was not the faintest suggestion of flirtation in his
eyes.  He made the statement of an accepted fact, and went on boyishly.
"Do you wonder that I keep away from towns?  Just look at it here.  No
umbrellas stuck about.  No crowd of giggling women and cocktail hunters.
No strings of stinking cars lined up to carry off soft people. Here’s
simplicity and truth.  Will you ever get to like it, youngster?"

He was disappointing her.  She wouldn’t for the world have had him less
charming than he was, or say the things that some men had said to her
after bathing,—personal, fulsome things, caddish things.  But,—she
_must_ look nice, she felt nice, and surely there might have been just a
little admiration in his eyes.  Anyone would think that they had been
boy and girl together. He accepted it as a matter of course.

"Yes," she said, before she could stop herself, "with you."

He laughed softly and gratefully, leaned forward and kissed her foot,
then sprang up and bent over her, put one arm round her shoulders and
one under her knees, quietly gathered her up shoulder-high.  "Come on,"
he said, "it’s time to dress and eat," and he carried her to where her
clothes were lying, with his cheek against her breast.

When he put her down and saw her face, something went crack.  Good God!
They were not, then, in that dream of his, married, hand in hand, with a
baby boy growing in the sun!

He bolted like a mountain goat.



                                *XXXIII*


The sight of him after he had put her down, scared, with his hands out
as though they had been burned, and the complete acknowledgment of the
ineptitude of apology that he gave by bolting, made Beatrix laugh. It
caught her sense of comedy and left a picture on her mind to which she
would always be able to turn to dispel depression.  All the same her
heart was thumping and her cheeks were hot.  She exulted in the fact,
now proved beyond argument, that she drew him, that he was all alive to
her attraction.  She thrilled again as she thought of how he had kissed
her foot and the way in which he had carried her across the beach.

She found herself trying to find the right word to describe his strength
and cleanness and physical beauty, the odd boyishness of him, the
passion that was without animalism,—and failed.  She got as far as to
wish that she had run her fingers through his hair as she felt a strong
desire to do,—and then began to dress quickly, drawing back, with an odd
touch of puritanism, from that kind of thought.

"I would like to come here every fine day," she said, looking about,
pretending that it was the view that appealed to her, and the color and
the gentle break of the sea.  "And I’m as hungry as a hunter now," and
she knew that she was hurrying to see him again.

When she was dressed and had packed the bathing things into the bag she
stood still for a little while under the shadow of the rocks, with dry
seaweed all round her in a vague pattern.  Privately and in a sort of
way in secret from herself, she tapped at her heart and went in, afraid
to take more than one quick look around.  It was all untidy and chaotic.
Someone had stamped about in that hitherto perfectly neat and
undisturbed place.  It was unrecognizable....  She ran away from it.
What did it mean?  Why did she begin to feel that she was not the old
Beatrix, not quite so high-chinned and self-composed, not quite with the
same grip on the reins, softer, simpler, with a queer new feeling of
homesickness for a home that she didn’t know?

"Now, now, my good girl," she said, "string up, pull yourself together.
No sloppiness, please."  But she went eagerly back over the uneven rocks
and something was making her heart more untidy than ever.

She found the food laid out on a flat place and Franklin in the launch
doing something to the engine. She whistled and he looked up.  "I’m
awfully hungry," she said.

"Right.  I’ll come.  This engine’s a bit groggy somewhere.  I thought so
as we ran in.  Careless blighter, Jones."  He washed his hands in the
sea and came up, putting on his coat.  "I hate messing about with
machinery.  I know next to nothing about it and if I can’t get it right
at once I have an unholy desire to smash.  I’ve no patience with things
I don’t understand."

"That’s why you’re so impatient with me sometimes," she said to
herself,—enormously surprised that she didn’t say it aloud.  Obviously
something was happening to her.  She liked the way in which he had set
out the lunch and put the cushion so that the sun wouldn’t fall on her
face.  It was competent,—and she admired that.  He was taller than he
had seemed to be on board and his grey eyes had a most intriguing way of
going black.

Franklin hid behind an abrupt and hard-forced casualness, very conscious
of having made a complete idiot of himself.  He told her everything that
there was to eat, knowing very well that her quick eyes had at once made
an inventory, and looked after her with a rapid politeness.  He
immediately entered into a long, detailed account of a most
uninteresting hunting trip in Central Africa and watched her like a hawk
to pounce if she made any reference to bathing or beaches.  Also he
talked her down when she made one or two tentative efforts to lead the
conversation to something human and wilfully became more technical and
dry and endless.

Finally, having strained every nerve to stand it for his sake, she gave
a little scream, and he stopped.  But before he could ask what was the
matter she said: "Nothing’s bitten me and I haven’t seen smugglers. I’m
simply fed up with red monkies and Croo-boys and the whole of Central
Africa.  Tell me just one thing.  How do you feel after eating four
hard-boiled eggs running?"

He chuckled.  "Hungry," he said, and got off his sweating horse.  She
was not going to hold him up to ridicule, and he was grateful.

They sat for a long time over lunch,—Franklin with his back to a rock
and a well-worn pipe going; Beatrix leaning back on her hands with her
hat off and the light on her hair.  Suddenly Franklin sprang up.  "Fog
coming over," he said sharply.  He stood over her and held out his hand.

She took it and he jerked her to her feet.  She looked out and saw the
_Galatea_ a long way off, disappearing behind what seemed to be a solid
wall of grey smoke.  "Does it matter?"

"Yes.  We’ll leave these things.  Nip into the launch quick and I’ll
make a dash for the yacht."  He gave her arm an impatient tap and she
caught up her hat and got in.  Hauling out the pin he threw it aboard,
jumped into the stern, started the engine and backed out, turning with a
swing when he was clear. The sea was at the stand, due to go out.
Already the cowlike call of fog signals had begun far off.  But he had
taken his line for the yacht and went for her. "With ordinary luck we
shall make her," he said. "I wish you’d brought your coat."

The fog rolled over them.  Minutes before it had put out the sun.  "What
fun!" laughed Beatrix. "It will make my hair curl."

"It’ll make mine like astrakhan," he said, "if this cursed engine begins
any tricks.  It’s missing fire now, damn the thing!"

"Don’t mind me," said Beatrix airily, "if you really feel the need to
swear."

"I shan’t."

She looked all around.  There was nothing to see except a monotony of
greyness.  They were pushing through a thick, damp, mysterious series of
closely hung veils that dragged softly across her face, it wasn’t
pleasant or funny.  It was,—but with Franklin at her elbow it was
disloyal even to let the word take shape in her mind.  If only she had
brought her coat, her thickest coat.  She had hardly anything on. How
melancholy those sea-voices were.  She hated eerie sounds.  She saw
Franklin bend suddenly over the engine and pry and touch and say things
under his breath.  Every now and then the thing had furious palpitation.
Then it seemed to her to be quarrelling together and throwing its parts
about.  It kicked and wheezed and struggled like a held rooster,—and
stopped.  She began to shiver.  A dozen distant cows seemed to be
calling anxiously for their young.  She could hardly see the peak of the
launch.  She wasn’t frightened.  Only just a little anxious, or rather
uncomfortable.  She loved new things but this was, undoubtedly and
without argument, too new.

"Hell!" said Franklin.

"Thank you," she replied.  "You’ve said it for me."

He peered into her face.  "Shall I tell you what’s happened or not?  I
mean do you want to face things or be coddled?"

"I thought you were beginning to know me," she said.

"Right.  Now listen.  This dirty little engine’s playing the fool.  I’ve
done everything I know to it, even to whispering endearing terms.  But
in one word, it beats me."

She nodded brightly, rubbing her thinly-clad knees together and putting
her hands under her arms.  "I see," she said.  "Well?"

"That means that we’re completely at the mercy of this rotten fog, and
presently we shall drift out, maybe into trade lines.  Hear the bellows
of the freighters? We may be out all night with nothing to eat and drink
and the risk of being run down."

Her attempt at pluck was heroic.  "There aren’t any nice, soft, cozy
Jaeger dressing gowns in the locker, by any chance?"

"The Vanderdykes are all right," said Franklin, with queer enthusiasm.
He pulled off his flannel coat. "Put this on."

"No, no."

"Put this on."

"I won’t put it on."

He wasted no further words.  He took first one soft damp arm and then
the other, drew the sleeves over them, bent down and buttoned the coat
up.

"Oh, that’s lovely," she said; "as warm as a radiator. But what about
you?"

"That’s all right.  Listen again.  When McLeod finds that we don’t get
back he’ll probably send off the big launch to hunt us up.  The only way
I can give them a line is to keep shouting.  Very likely, giving me
credit for being less a confounded fool than I am, he’ll imagine two
things,—either that I got off before the fog lowered and am able to fake
the engine if anything happens to it, or that, seeing the fog coming
over, I decided to stay on the island, in which case it would be
possible for him to feel his way to land and pick us off.  As it is,
there’s no compass aboard and I’ve no means of telling which way we’re
drifting, and if the fog lasts all night,—puzzle, find the yacht. There
you have the worst and the best of it.  Listen!"

"What is it?"

He put his hands up to his mouth and raised a tremendous shout.
"Ahoy,—_Galatea_, ahoy, ahoy!"

There was no answer.  The sound seemed to fall dead, as though up
against a wall.

"Um," he said, and stood amidships with his legs wide apart and with the
utmost precision, with regular pauses, turning his head to right and
left, sent out long, steady calls.  Some power-boat, feeling her way in
from fishing, might come within hail and give them a tow, or the big
launch might be poking about for them and pick up his voice.  Good God,
to think that he had lived to be a man without being able to master a
damn fool engine!  That was one of the worst points of being able to buy
service.  It plucked initiative out of the brain like the bones out of
fish. "_Galatea, ... Galatea_....  Ahoy."

How extraordinary it was, she thought, sitting all together, as close as
she could get to herself.  They were like two children lost in the
woods,—two people, both of whom had been able to buy the earth, played a
trick upon and shown that the earth was no more theirs than any other
man’s,—two people cut off, brought all the way down the great ladder
with a run, to the desire for charity,—two people, young and wilful and
proud and vain, who had come together by a lie, been kept together by a
condition of nature against which they, for all their money, and youth
and supreme confidence, were utterly impotent,—two people mutually aware
of being man and woman drifting together in a new life to death,
perhaps....

"_Galatea, Galatea_, ahoy."

She gave a little cry of wonder and fright.

In an instant he was bending over her.  "What can I do?"

"Nothing else," she said, smiling up at him.

"You’re shivering."

"Oh, no.  I’m only—cool.  That’s all."

He flung open the locker.  There was nothing in it but his bathing suit.
He had left a big, thick towel on the rocks to dry.  He seemed to have
left everything on the rocks,—including his wits.  There was nothing to
put round her.

"_Galatea,—Galatea_, ahoy."

He was an hour making up his mind what to do. During that time,
listening hard for any near signal or answering call, he shouted and
kept up a jerky conversation, talking to Beatrix as though she were a
child, trying to make her laugh with futile jokes that he would have
sworn he couldn’t have remembered. Like a Trojan she played up and duly
laughed with chattering teeth and many times whipped in quickly with an
"Ahoy" herself to help him out.

Suddenly she began to whimper.  She couldn’t help it.  She was so cold
and so frightened and to her it seemed as though this were the end of
everything.

And that decided him.  He picked her up and sat down, put her in his
lap, wound his arms round her and put his cheek against her cheek.  This
girl-child must have all his warmth.  He was responsible for this
inefficient business.  The fool engine had beat him....  She was no
longer in his blood.  She was a beautiful human thing who must be kept
from crying, kept warm, kept alive.  The sex in him was utterly dormant.
The desire to preserve had conquered it.  He was a worried, anxious man
with a delicate lovely thing on his hands and it was his fault, curse
him, that she was whimpering and chilled and horribly uncomfortable and
up against death perhaps. At any moment they might be run down,—at a
loose end, out there among the veils.  And he held all her softness
tight to him and presently began to rub her,—shoulders and arms and
legs, to make her blood circulate, to stop her from whimpering, saying
the sort of things that men always say to children who have hurt
themselves, silly, little, queer things, over and over again.

It was wonderful....  He was so strong and fine, and she cuddled up to
his big chest and put her arms about him and gave herself up, wholly,
without a qualm.  With the same regularity he threw up his head and
shouted and she heard the rumble of his voice, and for a long time he
held her and rubbed, never letting her blood stop, only cutting into his
murmur of comfort by shouting:

"_Galatea,—Galatea_, ahoy."

The boat was drifting.  The water gave it no more than a gentle rock.
She shut her eyes and smiled. She had retained the mind of a woman with
the body of a child.  It was brilliantly clear to her that out there,
then, in that drifting boat, all among those closely hung veils of damp
web, the spirit of this man was alight, and that in his hands, that had
been so hot and eager to touch, there was now the supreme tenderness
that is without passion.  It was wonderful.  It was not happening.  This
was not earth.  He, such a man, who had kissed her foot and put his
cheek against her breast, and she, who had exulted in her power to stir
and draw on.  It must be Heaven. Their clashes and outbursts were over.
They had died together and met again in spirit.  She had never dreamed
of anything like this.

"_Galatea,—Galatea_, ahoy," yelled Franklin.  It was the pit-pit of an
engine that came to his tired brain.

"Ahoy to you."

It was not Heaven.  It was earth and they were alive and that was
Jones’s voice.  She cuddled closer and her heart began to thump.  She
didn’t want to be taken away.

"At last," said Franklin.  "Steady, Jones," he called out.  "We’re
drifting.  Slide up alongside and take us on.  We’re cold....  Well
played, little girl," and he kissed her on the mouth.

That night he insisted upon her having dinner in bed.  Ah, how good that
steaming, hot bath had been.

Afterwards, strained and very, very tired, she fell asleep at once, and
went back to the little beach with its vague patterns of sea-weed on
yellow sand, and they swam again and dried in the sun, and talked and
laughed, and he lay at her feet, brown and clean-cut, with burning
eyes,—but when he picked her up this time and carried her to the cave
she held him tight and found his lips and lay with him on the warm
sand....

It must have been midnight when she woke suddenly and put her hand out
to touch his face.

It was not true.  She was alone,—and she loved him so!



                                *XXXIV*


It was exactly half-past nine the following morning when Jones rapped at
the door of the Captain’s stateroom.  The dancing sailor registered the
note of irritation in the shout of "Come" with a comic grievance and
went in to find McLeod struggling to remove a recalcitrant beard with a
very disagreeable razor. There was, God knows, every reason for a touch
of temper mixed with that sort of amazement that a man feels when an old
and true friend goes back on him. Shaving at the best of times is a
penance, at the worst a catastrophe.  The Captain was a clean-shaven man
in the middle forties and although, as one of the Esau tribe, he had
used a razor since he was eighteen; he had failed to understand the
peculiar psychology of steel and to appreciate the fact that the blade
of a razor is just as temperamental and just as much affected by the
vagaries of liver as the average human being.  He made no allowances.

"What is it, Jones?"

"Sorry ter disturb you, sir, but there’s a launch comin’ up on the port
side with Mr. Fraser aboard. Thought you’d like ter know, sir."

"Have you told Mr. Franklin?"

"No, sir.  Considered it my duty ter report it ter you, sir."

"Well, nip round to Mr. Franklin and tell him, will you?  I don’t see
what M.F. wants to trail us for unless it’s something important."

And so Jones nipped, little knowing that Malcolm’s unexpected visit was
to bring about a new crisis in the lives of Franklin and Beatrix.

Only just dressed, Franklin followed Jones out in time to see Malcolm
come aboard.  "Why, hello, my dear fellow," he called out with immense
cordiality, "you’re just in time for breakfast."  It seemed an age since
he had seen his friend.

The sky was clear again, the sun warm and gracious, the sea just lively
enough to make the yacht dance. The fog which had come from nowhere for
no reason had gone back in the same mood.  Franklin had slept in one
solid, dreamless piece.  All was well with the world.

There was a whimsical smile on Malcolm’s cherubic face.  "I wasn’t quite
sure that I should be welcome," he said, dying to know how things were
going. "The word breakfast never sounded so well to me. I’m ravenous.
Where’s Beatrix?"

"Not up yet.  Come to the dining saloon."  He took Malcolm’s arm and led
him off, delighted to see him.

"Just a second," said Malcolm.  "I think you’d better tell McLeod to
turn the yacht about at once. It’ll save time."

Franklin drew up.  "Turn the yacht about?  Why?"

"I have a good reason for breaking in on your triumphant isolation,"
said Malcolm, "little as you appear to suspect it, and if you——"

He stopped speaking.  Beatrix was coming towards them.  His heart turned
at the sight of her.  Never in his life had he seen her looking so
radiant and lovely and like a rose with all its sweetest leaves still
folded, and in her expression there was something so new in its sunny
peacefulness that he caught his breath with surprise.

"Malcolm," she cried out, and put her hands on his shoulders and kissed
him like a sister.  He had expected to see a caged bird beating her
wings and to be rushed at as one who brought a reprieve.  His curiosity
nearly forced him into personalities.

"How nice of you to look us up," she said, taking his other arm.
"You’re just in time for breakfast."

The word breakfast used by them both struck the most intimate note.  It
is the most domestic of all words.  The first stab of jealousy that
Malcolm had ever felt made him, before he could master himself, break
their astounding atmosphere of contentment, this elysium of peace.

"Mrs. Keene is very ill," he said, sharply.  "Ida Larpent and I have
done what we could for two days but she’s crying continually for you.  I
drove along the coast as fast as I could and unless you come back with
me I don’t know what may happen."

Beatrix turned and looked at Franklin.  He read in her eyes an appeal to
put her quickly at the side of the little lady whose devotion was
dog-like.  He was wrong.  The look she gave him was full of anguish at
the thought of leaving him and the sort of half-hope that he would play
the tyrant and the bully and refuse to let her go.

"Jones," he sang out.

"Sir?"

"Ask Captain McLeod to see me at once."

"Very good, sir."

"Malcolm, take Beatrix into the dining saloon. I’ll join you in about
five minutes."

And as Beatrix went on with Malcolm, all her appetite for breakfast
gone, she said to herself with the inevitable unreasonableness of a
woman in love, "He doesn’t care, he doesn’t care.  Any pretty girl would
do as well.  He’s glad to let me go."

Franklin met McLeod.  "Mrs. Franklin must go ashore as soon as you can
get her there.  Mrs. Lester Keene is very ill.  Mr. Fraser has a car
waiting and he will drive my wife back to where we landed the party the
other day,—Jones in charge.  I can’t be trusted with an engine now,
y’know.  I shall drive with them and come aboard again when you turn up,
which you will do with best possible speed.  Get that?"

"Yes, sir."

"Right."  He waved his hand and went below to his own sanctum.  His
valet was busy in the bedroom.  "Moffat, pack things for me for a couple
of days, and tell the stewardess to do the same for Mrs. Franklin.
Sharp’s the word.  We’re leaving the yacht in half-an-hour."

Then he went to breakfast, having set things on the move in his
characteristic way.  Beatrix and Malcolm were talking generalities in a
rather strained manner. The thoughts of both were busy.  It was very
obvious to Malcolm that something had happened to Beatrix. Her whole
attitude, as well as her expression, had changed.  She even seemed to be
dressed differently in some subtle way.  She was, too, he thought, less
young, less confident, less on the defensive, less consistently
brilliant, less all-in-the-shop-window,—more like the little girl who
had tucked herself into his heart.

"What happened?" asked Franklin, doing more than justice to a liberal
helping of scrambled eggs à Ludovic.

He’d never be able to eat so well if he cared, thought Beatrix.

Malcolm’s eyes were clear again.  He was less than the dust to the
heroine of his boyhood and he had prayed that she might be won by Pel.
After all, he was a poet.

"Well," he said, "that kind, good soul began by having hysterics on the
quay.  She was the first to realize, presumably because of a long course
of novel reading, that we had been emptied away like rubbish and that
the _Galatea_ had turned seawards with Beatrix."

Franklin nodded and drank deeply of strong coffee.

Beatrix respected him for drinking strong, black stuff with breakfast,
but she would have given days of her life to have had just one smile
from him then.

"I knew the one-eyed place on which we had been dumped, took charge of
the three women—saving Mrs. Keene from a watery grave—and drove to the
one possible inn.  Quite by accident I had some money on me.  Helene and
I did what we could to soothe Mrs. Keene but she took to bed and sprang
a high temperature.  The local doctor attended her and called it a
nervous breakdown and that’s what, being in the confidence of you both,
I believe it is.  Mrs. Larpent surprised me by being very kind and
sympathetic, which shows how foolish it is to judge a woman by her
jewelry and the way she does her hair.  We have had a very worrying
time.  Finally I made up my mind to hire a car and drive along the coast
until I came level with you.  I started before daybreak and here I am.
Mrs. Keene never ceases to call for Beatrix and I promised to bring her
back.  You will both help me to keep my promise, I know."

"Well, of course," said Franklin.

"Well, of course," echoed Beatrix.  Conceive it, Beatrix,—an echo!  Love
plays strange tricks upon humanity.

Franklin went on eating.  "We leave on the big launch in twenty minutes.
We shall drive back in your car and stay at the inn until the _Galatea_
anchors off the quay."

"Thank you," said Malcolm.  "The sight of Beatrix will do Mrs. Keene
more good than buckets of medicine."

Beatrix turned to Franklin.  "Does ’we’ include you?" she asked, with
what Malcolm thought was a most curious and startling note of
humbleness.

"Rather," said Franklin.

Whereupon Beatrix began to eat.

Sitting in the shade of the veranda of the inn Ida Larpent killed time
with a new sense of hope.



                                 *XXXV*


It was nearly four o’clock that afternoon when the dust-covered car
arrived at Malcolm’s one-eyed place some miles from Charleston, South
Carolina.  It was a long, tedious, hot drive through country which
Beatrix called untidily picturesque.  The telegraph posts along the
roads leaned at rakish angles.  Everywhere there were cotton fields with
irregular lines of plants from which the blossoms had fallen,
dilapidated shacks with piccaninnies playing about them and uncorseted
colored women squatting on the stoops.  Strange washing hung out to dry
with great frequency and every now and then there was a fine Colonial
house with a garden alight with flowers.

The inn, or hotel, as it insisted on being called, was the only building
in the settlement which seemed to have received a coat of white paint
for many moons and it was obviously the centre of attraction.  Three
rather carelessly treated Fords were parked near its main entrance and
two drummers were rocking on the unwashed stoop with soft damp cigars
tucked into the corners of their mouths.  Little families of chickens
ran after their conscientious mothers around the building and several
turkeys stalked aimlessly here and there like actors out for a walk.
Numerous outhouses leaned against each other for support,—one or two of
them showing an ingenuity in repair that was almost Irish.  On the walls
of several were pasted glaring bills of motion picture plays then being
shown in Charleston, and one was entirely given up to the glorification
in large letters of a certain small pill. There was, indeed, a curious
intimacy, a sort of who-cares-a-whoop air about the whole place.  You
could tease the turkeys, scatter the chickens, grin at the Fords and
spit with the drummers.  It was Carolina and hot and the cotton was
coming on.  What the deuce, anyway!

From the beginning of the journey to the end of it Franklin hardly
opened his mouth.  Watched surreptitiously by Beatrix, he sat silent and
peculiarly distrait, like a man who was either working out an engrossing
problem or bored to extinction.  After several dogged attempts to get
him to talk, Malcolm gave him up and for some miles devoted himself
entirely to Beatrix. To her he told everything funny that he had ever
heard or invented without winning a smile.  She too was as far away and
as unresponsive as Franklin. And so, giving them both up, Malcolm joined
the sphinxes and let his imagination run loose.  When this unsociable
party halted for lunch at a wayside inn the conspiracy of silence was
broken, but only as it would have been by three people who were total
strangers thrown together briefly.  The few necessary commonplaces were
said.  Franklin and Beatrix went on thinking and Malcolm continued to
imagine what they were thinking about.  The driver of the hired car, a
middle-aged man who had married an argumentative woman in his youth,
gave a great deal of slow consideration to the matter.  His sense of
beauty pulled his sympathy towards Beatrix, but his sense of brotherhood
impelled him to stand by Franklin in what he decided must be a
matrimonial bust-up, and so he remained neutral as far as they were
concerned and concentrated pity upon Malcolm, to whom, luckily, sleep
eventually came.

Franklin was suffering from inevitable reaction. He had returned to
earth from a dream.  He had come back to a very practical world from the
land of make-believe.  He had fallen from the unnatural height of a
sublime, passionless love to the natural level of a man whose passion
pounded on the walls of his heart and ran like electricity through his
veins.  Out of the brief mist which had shut out the truth of things he
stared to find that Beatrix was as far away from him as ever.  He was in
the pit of depression, especially as he had a feeling that any chance he
might have had to win Beatrix was gone now that she had left the yacht.
It seemed to him that she had escaped.

As for Beatrix, who had felt the beat of Franklin’s heart against her
breast and would smilingly have gone beyond the outpost of eternity in
his arms, reaction came with a shock that left her with no other desire
than to cry.  Suddenly to have found herself and the meaning of life;
suddenly, out there in the fog, to have seen the sense and sanity of
things and burgeoned into a woman under the warmth of love and dreamed
all night of its fulfilment and then to waken to _this_,—a man who
neither looked at her nor spoke, who hustled her from the yacht and
would probably leave her with her friends and go his way. If he had
loved her as well as been stirred by the attraction of her sex he must
have told her so that morning.  This was the end of all her arguments.
Having her at his mercy he let her go, she told herself bitterly.
Probably he had escorted her to shore to renew his flirtation with Ida
Larpent.  Ah!  That was it.  Malcolm had said that she had remained at
the hotel.  She wouldn’t be a bit surprised if the Larpent woman had
bribed Malcolm to come to the yacht with his tale of woe ... and when,
as the car drew up, Ida Larpent sauntered out wearing one of her most
enigmatical smiles and a very becoming frock the hitherto unknown demon
of jealousy seized Beatrix in his burning grasp and for the first time
in her life she became the little sister of all womankind, a girl whose
wealth had turned to ashes and whose autocracy fell about her like dead
leaves.

"How’s Brownie?"  She ignored Mrs. Larpent’s hand and cheek, and passed
into the house without waiting for an answer.  The screen door went back
with a clang.

"Good Lord," said Franklin, summing up the whole place in one rapid
glance, "what a filthy hole!"

Malcolm pointed to the chickens.  "But look at these," he laughed,
refreshed.

"Welcome," said Ida Larpent, not so much clasping Franklin’s hand as
embracing it.  She had the knack.  "It’s good to see you again.  Life
has its compensations."

"Thanks."

"Quite a good sort, after all," thought Franklin. "Ripping hat.  Always
makes me feel like a man who goes behind the scenes after the last act."

A white-haired, chatty negro led Beatrix up two flights of carpetless
stairs, along a narrow echoing passage to a door almost at the end of
it.

"Don’t knock," said Beatrix, and paid him with a smile.

The room was bare and large and barn-like.  Its three large windows were
screened.  Its stained floor was rubbed and almost colorless.  There was
a cheap writing desk of yellow wood, a glass-topped dressing table to
match, a stand with a water bottle on it and a shiver-inspiring white
cuspidor beneath, several strips of thin-worn string matting and a lamp
hanging from the centre of a none too clean ceiling.

Mrs. Lester Keene was lying on a bed with brass knobs which sagged
perceptibly in the middle.  Beatrix tip-toed to it and went down on her
knees and put her arms round the little lady’s shoulders.  "Brownie
dear, I’ve come," she said.

There was a great maternal cry, and a passion of tears.

"That’s right.  Weep, Brownie, my dear little Brownie, it will do you
good.  You were frightened for me, weren’t you?  The others wondered
what was the matter with you, but you and I know, don’t we? There are no
secrets between us and now you’ll get well, won’t you?  I’m so sorry!"

And the little woman clung weakly and fondly and stroked the face of the
beautiful girl who meant so much to her and for whom she liked to think
that she was responsible.  "Oh, my dear, my dear," she cried, "you don’t
know what agonies I’ve been through, or how dreadful it was to see the
yacht going away and you alone and unprotected with that man."

"Was it possible that _I_ called him ’that man’ then?" thought Beatrix.

"I’ve been nearly distraught to think of all the indignities that you
have had to suffer.  I could not close my eyes for fear of seeing
unspeakable pictures, though at night I thought I could hear you calling
to me to come and help you and you so young and proud and fine and
helpless.  Oh—oh! and are you all right?  Will you swear that you’re all
right?"

"Yes, Brownie dear, I’m all right.  Can’t you see that I’m all right?"
But there were tears on her cheeks and a pain at her heart because she
was so much all wrong.  Couldn’t he have said just one word all day,
just one, to show her that she meant more to him than a mere
woman,—after all that they had been through between life and death?
Couldn’t he have given her one look to show that he was something
besides merely a man and that he had held her so perfectly in his arms
and kept her warm to love and comfort and hold always, always?

"Then why are you crying?" demanded Mrs. Keene, sharply.

"You make me cry, Brownie, to see you like this."

"I make you cry?  _You!_"  The voice was incredulous, skeptical, amazed.
The elderly companion whose dog-like devotion and affection had not
blinded her to the faults of this gold-child, this artificial flower
born and reared in a house of egregious wealth, helped herself up in the
bed and peered into the girl’s face. "There is something wrong!  I
hardly know you. Tell me, tell me!"  Her voice was thin and shrill from
anxiety and fear.

The girl’s eyes fell a little and a sob shook her shoulders.

"_Oh, my God!  What has that man done to you?_"

Beatrix put a finger on her lips but the old note of command had gone.
"Hush, Brownie, hush," she said gently.  "Don’t cry out like that, dear.
You’ll make yourself ill again."

The little woman’s face grew whiter.  "Oh, my darling!" she blurted out,
conscience-stricken, "if only I had been able to look after you, if only
I had been strong enough to refuse to leave you!  You don’t know what
you mean to me.  I know I’ve been useless and weak.  I know I’ve never
really been able to direct or guide you but I’ve done my best, darling,
and it will kill me to think that you, _you_, who have seemed to me like
a princess in a fairy tale, so pure and fine, have been hurt by this
man.  Oh, my dear, what has that man done to you?"

"Listen, Brownie.  That man has made me come all the way down to earth.
That man has taken everything from me,—pride and scorn and shallowness,
the desire to experiment, the impatience of possession, and put there
instead something that makes me want to go and sit down at the side of
women with children and hold their hands.  That man has brought me up to
truth and reason.  He has made me human and humble and jealous and eager
for his touch.  He has made me love him and need him and want to serve
him.  Look at me, Brownie, look at me and see it for yourself!"

She held up her lovely, tear-stained face, the face that Malcolm had
described, the picture of which was locked up in his heart.  And Mrs.
Keene, speechless, looked and saw and wondered.

And suddenly the golden head was crushed against the childless bosom.
"Brownie, Brownie, he doesn’t love me, he doesn’t love me, and I wish I
were dead."

Could this be Beatrix,—this?



                                *XXXVI*


Finding that Franklin had left the bedroom that had been allotted to him
after washing and changing his clothes,—the others had been flung about
the barrack-like room,—Malcolm went downstairs and out to the veranda.
Ida Larpent was sitting in front of a tea-table like Patience on a
monument, dodging mosquitoes.

"Where’s Pelham?" she asked, raising her eyebrows.

"I was going to ask you."

"And Beatrix?"

"In with Mrs. Keene, I think."

Mrs. Larpent heaved a little sigh.  "Poor old thing!  She’ll get well
now, and we, I take it, can go our ways in peace.  I don’t ever want to
go through this experience again."

Malcolm laughed.  "Well, I’ve rather enjoyed it," he said, "apart, of
course, from the fact that Mrs. Keene has suffered."

"Enjoyed it?"  There was a note of anger in Mrs. Larpent’s clear voice.
"Such food, such beds, such cockroaches, such service, such an appalling
place?"

"I’ve been studying the beautiful unselfishness of the mother hen," said
Malcolm.  "It’s a revelation to me."

Mrs. Larpent shrugged her shoulders impatiently. "I’ve known one or two
other poets in my time," she said, "but I’ve never been able to make out
whether their childishness was a pose or mere stupidity.  It requires no
study to know that the mother hen is not unselfish.  Like other mothers
she is the creature of overwhelming circumstances, the slave of nature.
However, what’s the news?  What is to happen next? Is the _Galatea_ to
deliver us back to New York or do we find our own way back?"

"Don’t ask me," said Malcolm, who wouldn’t have said anything else if he
had known it.  Mrs. Larpent was one of the few women of his acquaintance
whom he really disliked.  He found her hard and without an ounce of
idealism or imagination.  She believed in nothing that didn’t carry a
certificate of proof, in no one who was not duly entered in "Who’s Who,"
looked upon faith as a sort of patent medicine, hope as a form of mental
weakness and charity as a sharp way of getting rid of people who either
made street noises or had pathetic stories to tell.  He and she had not
got on at all well.

To the great relief of both Franklin came up. "We’re waiting tea for
you," said Mrs. Larpent.

"I’m so sorry.  I’ve been along to the post-office. I thought I’d better
wire this address to the Vanderdykes as we shall be here till the
_Galatea_ lies off. They had our next place of call for letters."  He
sat down rather heavily.  "Yes, tea’s a good idea."

There was nothing of happiness about this man, Mrs. Larpent told herself
in a spirit of self-congratulation. He had obviously gained nothing by
carrying off Beatrix except a little line between his eyebrows. Serve
him right.  She was glad to see it.  She could have made him happy if
the party had continued on the yacht.

Tea came but no Beatrix.  Mrs. Larpent poured out, and as she did so her
spirits rose.  Things looked good. She had never been able to find a
reason for their sham honeymoon, puzzle as she might.  It remained an
inscrutable mystery, and all her cunning endeavors to trick Mrs. Keene
and Malcolm into confession had failed.  She argued that they
knew,—Malcolm because he brought Beatrix to the yacht and Mrs. Keene
because of her extraordinary nervous breakdown.  In any case that
business failed to be of interest now. The point was how much, if at
all, was Franklin in love with or physically attracted by Beatrix.  If
he was in love with her and had been turned down,—his whole appearance
and attitude proved that,—her opportunity to catch him on the rebound
was most excellent.  In her large experience men committed matrimony or
undertook obligations immediately after being refused.  If he had been
physically attracted merely, and had met with no success,—which was
patent,—the same argument applied.  How glad she was that she had seen
the wisdom of staying in that abominable shack, ostensibly to look after
the woman who got so completely on her nerves.  Her room was next to
Franklin’s, too.  Could luck have been kinder?

"Have you sent any tea up to Beatrix?" asked Franklin, suddenly.

"No," said Mrs. Larpent.  "She’ll order it herself if she wants any,
don’t you think so?"

Franklin got up.  "Excuse me," he said, and stalked into the hotel,
asked the comatose clerk the number of Mrs. Keene’s room, waved away a
gymnastic colored boy who volunteered to show him and went upstairs two
at a time.  Sooner or later he would be obliged, he had come to the
conclusion, either to put as many thousand miles between himself and
Beatrix as the map of the earth allowed or treat her as a sister.  All
the day’s thinking had proved this to him, who knew so little about
women.

He knocked on the door, waited and knocked again.

It was opened by Beatrix, who was still in her dust-covered clothes and
hat.  He saw at once that she had been crying and resented it as much as
though he had seen her arm in a splint.

"Have you had tea?" he asked bluntly, because he wanted to kiss her
beyond description and hadn’t the right.

"No," said Beatrix.

"Shall I send some up?"

"Will you?  I’d love it.  I’m so tired."

"Yes, of course you are.  Why didn’t you ring and make this rotten hotel
run about?"

"I forgot.  It’s awfully nice of you to have bothered about me."

Franklin swallowed a rush of words, nodded, made small work of the
echoing stairs and stood in front of the unoffending clerk with eyes
black with unexplainable anger.  "Why the devil haven’t you sent tea up
to Mrs. Franklin?  Don’t argue.  Get it done at once or I’ll pull this
barn down board by board.  For two, with hot buttered toast.  Quick!"

Two colored boys who had overheard these words and caught the clerk’s
eyes went off like demented athletes.  Left standing, the clerk pulled
himself together.  He felt as though a cart load of bricks had fallen on
his head.  What was the matter with this man?  Anyone would think he’d
bought the darned earth!

Ida Larpent and Malcolm did most of the talking while Franklin drank
three cups of tea and ate all the toast.  Malcolm knew that before long
he would be marched off somewhere to listen to his old pal’s troubles
and so he waited with his characteristic patience and all his sympathy
on the boil, determined not to permit his curiosity to lead his
imagination into any further maze.  It seemed to him to be disloyal. Ida
Larpent concentrated her strategic knowledge upon a plan of action to be
carried into effect during the night.  She must act quickly because
Franklin, like Beatrix, went off at sudden tangents.  He might take it
into his head to leave the place at a moment’s notice and she might not
see him again for months.

"How are you going to kill time until the so-called dinner?" she asked,
looking at Franklin.  "Can I suggest anything?"

"No, thanks," he replied.  "Malcolm and I are going to explore the quay,
if there is such a thing."

She laughed softly.  He could do what he liked with all the hours till
midnight.  The others at the beginning of a new day would be hers, if
she knew anything of men and life.  She opened a book.

Franklin got up, pushed the table away, dragged up a chair for Mrs.
Larpent’s feet, made a mental note of the fact that she was a good sort
and took Malcolm’s arm.

"Come on, old son," he said.  "Let’s get out of this."

Turkey and chickens made way for these tall creatures, the two drummers
at the other end of the veranda concentrated a united gaze on Mrs.
Larpent’s ankles, a Ford went off with a harsh rattle carrying two men
in their shirt sleeves, and a ragamuffinly kitten gave a marvelous
imitation of a bucking horse and bolted up a tree.

As they faced the Atlantic Franklin squared his shoulders and drew in a
long, grateful breath.  The line went out of his forehead and his mouth
relaxed. Here at any rate was an element that he understood in all its
moods, rough and smooth.

"Malcolm, will you come to Europe with me?"

"Any time," said Malcolm.

"Right.  To-morrow night, then.  I wish to God I had an aeroplane.  We’d
get away sooner."

He looked round impatiently.  The so-called quay might have been made
away back before the Great Wind and carelessly patched together after
it.  It ran out into a small bay for the use of perhaps a dozen
cat-boats, a couple of nice yawls, a very spruce shoal-draught sloop
just in, a well put together lark and a number of dirty little power
boats belonging to the negro fishermen.  Several bankrupt-looking sheds
added to the general neglected appearance of the whole scene, which was
heightened by three carcasses of dead dories with all their ribs
sticking out lying up on the beach and all among dry seaweed and
rubbish.

"What’s the particular hurry?" asked Malcolm.

Franklin turned upon him.  "I’m sick of myself, sick of life, sick of
the whole blessed show," he said. "I want to get right away.  I want to
put all the sea there is between myself and Beatrix.  If anybody had
told me before I went to the Vanderdykes that a bit of a girl was going
to turn me into a first-class fool I’d have called him a sentimental
crank."

"I know," said Malcolm.  "It all depends on the girl, though.  All wise
men, all men who fathom the fact in time that life means nothing if it’s
selfish, fall over each other to be made first-class fools of by the
right girl.  Besides, who says you’ve been turned into a first-class
fool?  You love Beatrix without success. So do I.  That doesn’t make us
fools, either of us. I hold that we have to thank our stars to have met
her. The fool part of it would be in not having loved her.  That’s my
view of it.  And look here, Pel, old man, don’t be quite so ready to
call people sentimental cranks who talk about love.  What are we here
for? What’s the use of living without it?  Clubs are built for men who
have missed the one good thing there is to win in this queer little
interlude between something we can’t remember and something we’re not
intended to know."

Franklin listened to this unexpected outburst with a sort of boyish
gravity.  Malcolm had the knack of saying things that were true, and
this that he had just said, with uncharacteristic heat, was dead true.
Franklin knew that.  Moreover he had the honesty and the courage to say
so.

"Quite right, old son.  I was talking through my hat as usual.  But the
difference between you and me is this.  You’re a poet and when you’re
turned down you have the safety valve of verse.  You can write about it.
I’m only a common or garden sporting cove who has to grin and bear it.
And when you’ve got a girl like Beatrix in your blood there isn’t much
grinning, believe me.  Come on.  Let’s walk and I’ll put you up to
date."

And away they went arm in arm along the shore while the sun went down.

And up in her bare bedroom Beatrix gave herself eagerly into the hands
of her maid.  "If I look my best," she thought, "perhaps——"

Men and women and history,—repetition, that’s all!



                                *XXXVII*


Dinner was fairly good.  The word had been taken to the kitchen that
Franklin might stalk in and kill the chef.  That dark mass of humanity
outdid himself in consequence.  Life was very dear to him.

One of the waiters at Franklin’s table had been fifteen years in the
hotel.  The other twelve.  They mutually agreed behind the screen that
there had never been two such beautiful ladies in its dining-room in
their time.  They too were on their mettle.

Beatrix played up.  She had bathed and slept a little and poured out her
heart to Brownie and felt better from the fact that her presence had
done her old friend so much good.  Besides, she had grit and the courage
of a thoroughbred.  She was not going to let anyone see that there was a
pain in her heart if she died for it.  And so she set the ball rolling
and kept the table merry.  It was well done.

Malcolm did his share and brought tears of laughter from everybody by
describing a scandal-mongering conversation between two turkeys.  The
younger of the two waiters nearly had a fit.  Ida Larpent was in
excellent spirits and Franklin as cheery as he could always be when he
tried.

Afterwards they adjourned to a ludicrously-furnished room called the
drawing-room decorated with tortured wood and chairs which had obviously
been designed by plumbers.  Everything in it was the color of Virginia
tobacco,—the epitome of biliousness. Here they played Bridge while the
proprietor’s over-plump daughter with a huge white bow on the top of her
head giggled and whispered to several girl friends in the sun parlor and
presently set a Victrola going.  Between the tunes, which were redolent
of Broadway, the click of billiard balls could be heard. Frogs in a
nearby pond croaked their inevitable chorus.

At the end of the third rubber Beatrix rose.  "I can’t go on," she said.
"There are so many distractions. It’s almost like being in a railway
accident. Take me down to look at the sea, Pelham."

Franklin led the way.  He would have liked it better if she had been
angry with him and there had been an excuse for quarreling.  He might
then have had a reason for blazing at her and losing his self-control.
To be treated like a brother,—it was better than nothing, he supposed,
but it made him feel like a man with his arms roped to his sides.

They went along the sandy road lined with curious stunted trees to the
quay.  A full moon dominated a sky that blazed with stars.  There was
not even the tail-end of a cloud.  The lazy sea plopped heavily against
the stanchions and made the small craft wobble from side to side.  Ropes
creaked and quivered. There was hardly any wind.  On the tip of the quay
a girl was sitting with her head on a man’s shoulder. One of his arms
was round her waist.  Their legs dangled over the edge.  It was a night
for love.

Beatrix said nothing for several minutes.  She stood hatless, with her
hands behind her back and her shoulders square.  She looked dangerously
young, Franklin thought, and far too precious to be unguarded.  But with
another look he corrected himself,—so young that her confidence was a
better guard than an armed man.  He wondered what she was thinking
about.

"You’ve never had a sister, have you?" she asked suddenly.

"No," said Franklin.

"What a pity."

"Why?"

"She would have been a lucky girl."

"There you are," thought Franklin.  "Nothing but a brother, you see."

She faced him unexpectedly.  "What are you going to do with me now?"

He knew his answer but he made it, "What do you want me to do with you?"

And she made hers, "Something must be done."

He stood looking at her.  He had no inkling that they were at cross
purposes because he was not a woman’s man.  Also because he was entirely
without conceit.  It was only when he dreamed and a miracle happened,
that Beatrix returned his love.  In her new state, which was so new that
she felt almost a stranger in the world, Beatrix was without conceit
too.  She believed that Franklin, because she had seen the nobility of
his character out there in that strange mist, had outgrown the
attraction of her sex and had become brotherly.  Some big moment was
needed to startle these two young people who were so much alike into the
truth,—these two who had always been handicapped by excessive wealth and
whose lives had touched in a manner that was so bizarre and accidental.
What if the big moment never came?  Big moments are not put in the way
of everybody and even if they are, go by unrecognized in so many
instances.

"Yes," said Franklin, "we can’t go on like this."

"You still think that the only way out is marriage?"

"I’m afraid so."

"And then divorce?"

"Yes."

Beatrix heaved a deep sigh.  "I’ve asked so much of you.  I couldn’t ask
you for that."

"You don’t have to ask me.  It’s my suggestion."

"You certainly are a sportsman," she said.  And then she gave a little
gasp.  "Good Heavens, what must I have been made of to have done that
thing?  It seems incredible as I look at it now."

He spoke wistfully, eagerly.  "Does it?  Why? You’re the same Beatrix.
You haven’t changed."

"Are you the same Pelham Franklin?  Haven’t you changed?  Let’s be
honest out here to-night.  This is the hour for honesty with the moon so
plain and the stars so gleaming and the sky so transparent. Besides, I
can’t tell you why, but I have a sort of premonition that you and I are
going to be required to face another crisis.  I got the feeling this
afternoon, when I was lying down.  A bird was singing outside my window,
a curious, jerky little song, and it seemed to tell me that I must meet
something squarely and with courage."

"Courage?" said Franklin.  "You have that."

"You think so?"

"I don’t know it if you haven’t got it."

"That’s the first really nice thing you’ve ever said to me, Pelham."

It was a pity that she couldn’t see the queer thing that happened to his
eyes.  "I don’t say everything I think," he said, with a sort of laugh.

"That’s nothing to be proud of.  There’s lots of room for silence in the
grave.  Let’s go back."  She was impatient again.  She couldn’t
understand why things were not going as she would have them go. They
always had.

He stopped her.  "No, not yet.  I want to tell you something, kiddie."

Tears came into her eyes somehow when he called her that.

"Listen.  If anything _is_ on the way to us,—and if you think so I
expect there is,—most probably it will send me one way over the earth
and you another because this way has failed.  When I’m out of sight I
want you to remember one thing."

"I shall remember it all," she said.

"But especially one thing.  I set out to break you."

"You’ve done that," she said.

"No, please don’t rot me,—not to-night, out here. If ever my name flicks
across your memory at any time remember my idiotic attempt to give you
the spurs."

"Why especially that?"

"Because you beat me,—beat me to a frazzle and that’s the only good
thing about this episode."

"You’re very generous," she said, and held out her hand.  She had an
insane desire to sit down on those dirty boards and cry.  Everything he
did and said made her love him more and more.  What was the matter with
her that she had turned him into a brother?  Life had appeared to be so
easy to arrange. It had become so difficult.

He took her hand and held it tight.  "I’m not generous," he said,
scoffing.  "Don’t let any man try the breaking business.  Remain as you
are.  Be the spoilt girl all the rest of your life, kiddie.  You’re all
right.  Now come in and go to bed and sleep hard. That thing you got
just now may find us in the morning."

And they turned their backs to the moon and to love and walked away
without another word.

Malcolm and Ida Larpent had gone to bed.  And the fat girl with the big
bow and her young friends had disappeared.  The Victrola was silent.
There were no lights in the drawing-room or the sun parlor, but the
click of billiard balls came into the foyer and the reek of cheap
cigars.  Two colored bell boys on the verge of sleep sat near the desk.
Outside the frogs were still at work on their endless ensemble.

Beatrix nodded and smiled and went upstairs.  She had left her key in
Mrs. Keene’s room.  Franklin hung about aimlessly for ten minutes
reading the railroad timetables with no interest and the printed notices
to visitors and looking at the colored advertisements of steamships and
whisky and magazines, without taking them in.  Yes, the episode had
failed.  He was beat,—beat to a frazzle.  What was going to happen next?

Ida Larpent heard him stride along the passage, go into his room and
shut the door.  Through the thin walls she could hear him shunt a chair
and do something to his windows and move about.

She wore a curious smile and an almost transparent nightgown.  Her black
hair was all about her shoulders and in her eyes there was a strange
eagerness.

For half an hour she sat as still as a statue watching the hands of her
little diamond-studded watch.  Her opportunity had come.  She was going
to seize it. She knew men, no one better.  This one needed love and she,
yes, she of all women would give it to him.

In that long, peculiar half hour during which her body was without
movement, her brain worked and her heart raced.  She loved and would
make a sacrifice for love.  That was the burden of her inward song.  Not
of the future, not of freedom from money worries, not of mercenary
things,—love, her first great love and its fulfilment.  Of that she
thought, smiling, and thanking her stars.

And when the half hour was up she rose, put on a peignoir, slipped out
of her room on the tips of her little pink slippers and tapped at
Franklin’s door.  He called out "Come" and she went in.

He was sitting in a dressing gown in a cane chair, under the electric
lamp that hung from the middle of the ceiling, with a pipe in his mouth
and a book in his hand and his feet on a cranky table.  There was a
cloud of good tobacco smoke round his head.

He sprang to his feet at the sight of her.  Although there was nothing
of the frightened woman about her, the only thing that occurred to him
was that she needed his help.  A thief after her rings, probably.

"What’s the matter?" instinctively lowering his voice.  "Anyone in your
room?"

She shut the door and smiled at him.  After all she rather liked his
naïve assumption that she had not gone to his room for anything but his
assistance in some emergency.  It was very charming and boyish and clean
and all that.  It made things just a little difficult to explain though.
"I see you’re not in a hurry to go to bed," she said, "so may I sit down
and have a cigarette?  I’ve lots to say to you and there has been no
other opportunity to-day."

"Of course," he said.  "Please do.  I hate reading, and sleep is miles
away."  He placed his chair for her, the only more or less comfortable
one in the room, and got a cigarette and lit it.  "Awfully nice of you
to come in.  Well, what’s the news?"

He drew up a stiff-backed chair and sat straddle with his arms on the
back of it.  A good sort, Ida Larpent, he told himself, and
extraordinarily picturesque. He couldn’t make out why she didn’t marry
again.  She could take her pick.

"Please may I have a pillow?  I can feel every rib of cane.  It hurts a
little.  I’m sorry to be fussy."

"Not a bit."  He placed one of his pillows behind her back.  "How’s
that?"

"Much better, thanks."

He went back to his chair and sat looking at her with a most friendly
and admiring smile.

She liked the last part of it but not the first.  It was all more than a
little disconcerting.  She knew men but not of his type.  It would
perhaps have been better for men, to say nothing of herself, if she had
known one or two.  Give a dog a bad name and hang him.  She was
conscious of looking extremely alluring in her geranium pink peignoir
and slippers and her silk nightgown cut very low and her thick, black
hair, which fluffed out over her shoulders, rather like that of a
Russian prima ballerina.

"There’s no news," she said.  "The faithful Mrs. Keene gave me a good
deal of worry, poor, little soul, and Malcolm Fraser has not been a very
entertaining companion.  He’s by way of not liking me."

Franklin laughed.  "Why?  He likes everybody."

"Because I don’t like him, I suppose.  I never get on very well with
poets at any time.  They always seem to belong to the cherub family,—cut
off at the shoulders, I mean, and surrounded with Christmas card
clouds."

Franklin laughed again.  "You should see him whipping a trout stream or
crawling after deer."

"Mrs. Keene’s in the next room," said Mrs. Larpent, warningly.  Would he
take the hint and be a little less sun-parlorish?

"Is she?  By Jove, yes.  I mustn’t make such a row.  I wouldn’t disturb
her for anything."

No, he had missed it.  She crossed one leg over the other.  Rather more
than a slim, white ankle showed. Well, the night was all in front of
them.  "It was a horrid trick, getting rid of us like that.  I had just
settled down on the _Galatea_ and was preparing to have the first really
happy time of my life.  You alone among men have it in your power to do
that for me, Pelham."  She felt that she was hurrying a little.

"Well, the _Galatea_ can be at your service again. Not yet though, I’m
afraid.  Malcolm and I have a plan in the back of our heads."  He got up
and heaved a sigh and walked about.  Beatrix came back into his head at
the mention of the _Galatea_.  He could see her leaning against the
starboard rail with the sun on her golden head and her chin held high.
He would always be able to see that picture, thank God!

"Tell me about it," said Mrs. Larpent, hoping that, after all, she had
not hurried too fast and that it was not her remark that made him
restless.  Any other man almost would have caught her meaning.

"Not yet," he said.  "It isn’t sufficiently formed."  And then he lit a
cigarette and sat down again, with a chuckle.  "I can’t fancy _you_ in
this one-eyed hole. I thought, of course, that you’d stay the night here
and then take the first possible train to New York."

"Did you think what would happen to me after that?"

"No, I confess I didn’t.  Southampton, or some such place.  Society on
the beach.  You said something about Southampton, in the summer when you
had mercy on me that time and we did the theatres. You were awfully good
to me then."

She tried a daring move.  "You paid me well, didn’t you?"

Franklin looked as uncomfortable as he felt.  He went off at a quick
tangent.  "I don’t think I shall be in New York next fall," he said.  "I
may go back to South Africa."

Was he really quite so dense? she asked herself. Had he forgotten every
single word of that odd talk in the Vanderdykes’ library?  Would she
have to square up to him and blurt out the truth?  What was he made of?

She would have one more try.  She got up.  "I must go now," she said.
"It’s getting late."

He got up too and opened his door.  "Thanks for looking me up," he said.
"It was very friendly of you."

She gave him one long, analytical look.  No, she and her beauty meant
nothing to him.  He was not teasing her into a few uncontrolled
hysterical words: He was simply a big, naïve, unsuspicious man who
thought nothing but good of her.  She deserved better than this.  She
had never had any luck.  And she loved this man.

She said "Good night" lightly and passed him with a fleeting smile.  But
in her own room she flung herself face down on her bed and cried badly.

Franklin hurled off his dressing gown and switched off the light.  But
in front of his eyes as he lay in the dark he could see Beatrix
ankle-deep in a blue sea, with the sun on her red bathing cap, clad in
tights, like a boy.

On her way out of Mrs. Keene’s room Beatrix saw Ida Larpent leave
Franklin’s.  Someone seemed to have thrown a stone at her heart.



                               *XXXVIII*


Ida Larpent did not appear at the breakfast table.

Not for many years had she permitted herself to enjoy the luxury of
tears.  It was true that, since she had been flung on her own resources
and faced with the disagreeable necessity of fighting her own battles,
there had been many hours when tears would have helped her and made her
more human.  She had refused herself the indulgence for two reasons.
She had no sympathy with what she called weakness and she shuddered at
the idea of spoiling her appearance, even temporarily, by swollen lids.
Her beauty was her only asset, her only stock-in-trade, and she
preserved it with the eager and consistent care of a leading actress.
But Nature had been too strong for her and she had capitulated like an
ordinary woman for once.  She had given herself up to an orgy of
disappointment, wounded vanity, anger and bitterness, and after the
storm was over had spent the rest of the night trying to see into the
future, balancing her account with Fate.  She was not in immediate need
of money. Franklin’s generosity had put her on her feet for the time
being.  She had paid her pressing bills and could face the remainder of
the year without anxiety.  But there were other years.  What of them?
Her small capital saved from the wreck that she had made of the fond and
foolish Clive’s affairs had gone.  It was certain that she had
miscalculated the sort of man that Franklin was.  Not having been able
to "get him" under what, with most men, would have been the most
favorable circumstances, she saw so little chance of binding him to her
and claiming some sort of protection that she came to the conclusion
that she must give him up.  She had played Venus to his Adonis and
failed.  It was not pride that made her retire from the game but the
flat knowledge that he could do without her.  Once more then she must go
back into the Street of Adventure and lay her snares for a rich man,
young or old.  One satisfaction was here, and this was inconsistent with
her materialism.  It was better to have loved and lost than never to
have loved at all.

Beatrix _did_ appear at the breakfast table.

She too, had had a bad night.  The shock of seeing Ida Larpent coming
out of Franklin’s room was awful. She sat for an hour chilled to the
bone.  After having loved no one but herself, and grown accustomed to
the habit of merely touching a bell to procure the earth, it was
startling enough suddenly to wake and find that the earth meant nothing
to her without the man who did not seem to need her.  In itself that was
so much a shock that her whole perspective was shattered and out of
focus.  And even if Franklin only liked her as a sister, which gave her
sufficient suffering, she loved him and had surrounded him with a
girlish halo of idealism which of all things did not admit the
possibility of such a visit as she had witnessed.

No one would have imagined who saw her and heard her laugh that morning
that she had sat in the dark for many hours with life lying all smashed
about her like a beautiful stained glass window through which a shell
had burst.  She joined Franklin and Malcolm at breakfast with her chin
higher than ever, readier than usual with banter and mischief, the
embodiment of youth, health and careless joy.  Her pride came to her
rescue and she intended to live up to Franklin’s estimate of her courage
to her last gasp.  The difference between Ida Larpent and Beatrix was
breeding.

She found the two men on the veranda outside the dining-room,—Franklin
smoking his inevitable pipe.

"Good morning," she said.  Her ringing voice turned them both around.
"Malcolm, if you don’t write a long and terrible poem on the early
morning noises of the country, I shall.  Even New York with the
explosions in the subway and the rattle of motor buses is a city of the
dead compared with this place. Cocks began to scream at each other
before daybreak, hens have been brawling for hours and the gobble of
turkeys under my window has been worse than an election meeting.  Is
Mrs. Larpent down yet?"

"We’ve not seen her," said Franklin.

"I’m ten minutes late, am I not?"

"About that, but it doesn’t matter," said Malcolm.

"I know it doesn’t, but ten minutes’ grace is enough even for a woman,
so let’s go in and eat."  And she led the way into the bleak
dining-room, as glad as a school-girl at the chance of being able to get
a little bit back, a very little bit, from Ida Larpent.

The waiters were almost ludicrously obsequious and rolled their eyes
towards Franklin with the nervousness of pet monkeys.

"How’s Mrs. Keene?"  Both men asked the question together.

"Up and about," said Beatrix.  "A little weak, of course, but otherwise
well.  Her trouble was wholly mental.  Left alone with Pelham on a
yacht, she was convinced that, in order to preserve my honor, as she
puts it, I should have to jump overboard.  Poor, dear, little
affectionate Brownie.  If only she had taken the trouble to find out the
sort of a man Pelham is she wouldn’t have turned a hair."

Malcolm laughed.  "Is that meant to be complimentary or reproachful?"

She saw that Franklin was watching her keenly. "Both," she said, with a
little bow, and sailed on before he could butt in.  "I gave her a
faithful account of everything that happened and she is beginning to
believe, very reluctantly, that her favorite women novelists don’t know
anything about men.  And now what we both want to know is this.  Where
are we going, how are we going and how soon are we going, or are we all
going to spend the remainder of our lives in this rural retreat to make
a study of frogs, farmyards and fogginess?"

Franklin was silent for a moment.  This was the old Beatrix.  This was
the Beatrix of New York, the careless, superficial, sarcastic Beatrix of
the house party at the Vanderdykes’ palace.  What a fool he had been to
imagine that he was the man appointed to enable Miss Honoria to give
thanks to God!  "The _Galatea_ will anchor off this place this
afternoon," he said.  "Malcolm and I will see you and your staff off to
New York on the night train."

"And where do you intend to go?"

"To Europe," he said.

"Is that definitely arranged?"

"Quite.  Malcolm and I settled it just now.  He will spend a year or so
pottering about London, Paris and Rome and I shall go back to Africa."

With a mighty effort Beatrix held herself under absolute control.  "But
what about the party at Sherry’s during Christmas week?"

"Scratched," said Franklin, shortly.

"I see.  Well, now we know, don’t we?  And that’s something.  How long,
exactly, do you propose that I shall remain a grass widow?"

"That," said Franklin, "is entirely up to you."

A bell-boy came in, rumbled grinning up to Beatrix and handed her a
telegram.  She took it.  "Will you allow me?" she asked, and tore it
open.  A curious smile played round her lips as she read it over several
times.  "No," she said, "it isn’t entirely up to me," and gave it to
Franklin.

And what he read was this.  "Ask Pelham to bring you home as soon as
possible.  No one is ill but we are all greatly perturbed by amazing
rumors and daily anonymous letters.  A consultation is necessary. Much
love.  Honoria Vanderdyke."

"H’m," said Franklin.  "Sutherland York at work. May I show this to
Malcolm?"

"Of course," said Beatrix.

Malcolm’s remark, gravely spoken, was "Scandal again."

"Yes, we are back again at the beginning," said Franklin.

Beatrix pushed back her chair and got up and went out.  As she stood on
the veranda with the sun on her golden head there was not anxiety in her
eyes, but triumph.  If she really knew Franklin he would not desert her
at this new crisis.  He would not go to Europe and to South Africa.  He
would not consider only himself.

He came out almost at once and gave her the telegram.  "You may want to
keep this," he said, and stood in front of her for orders.

"Thanks,—yes."

They looked eagerly at each other, hoping against hope that there was
something in all this, something more than mere accident, something
which it was not for them to pry into or understand, that was to bring
them as close as only love can bring a man and a woman.

"Well?"

And Franklin echoed her.  "Well?"

They mutually wished to God that they were different, of better stuff
and more worth while.

"It’s for you to speak," she said.

"You were right about the feeling that something was going to happen
to-day."

She nodded and put the telegram in her pocket.  It didn’t seem to matter
much what the outcome of it was going to be.

"We must all go back on the _Galatea_ to-night," he went on.

"You will alter your plans for me?  You will stand by me again?"

He gave a queer sort of laugh.  "You didn’t call me a sportsman for
nothing," he said.



                                *XXXIX*


New York again,—tired, hot, irritable New York. A New York in the
summer, careless of her appearance like an overworked woman with a too
large family and, in consequence, a trifle blowsy, with stringy hair and
a rather dirty skirt.

Four cars drove away from the river which lay glistening beneath an
afternoon sun.

"Well," said Beatrix, sitting back, "all we need to make the procession
really noticeable is a mounted policeman, a band and a banner."

Franklin laughed and looked over his shoulder. Following them came Mrs.
Lester Keene alone in all her glory with the smaller cases.  Behind her,
apparently not on speaking terms, Helene and the valet with a collection
of hat and shoe boxes.  Finally an open touring car piled high with
luggage.

"What tune would you suggest for the band?"

"There’d be a nice touch of irony in ’See the Conquering Hero Comes,’"
she said.  "Don’t you think so?"

"Quite nice."  He congratulated himself upon becoming an excellent
actor.

"And now tell me a few things.  What about the _Galatea_?"

"Oh, she’ll remain in commission," said Franklin. "McLeod is going home
for a few days and the first officer will be in charge.  Malcolm will
stay aboard too.  I shall let him know what happens."

"Why didn’t you bring him with us?"

"Don’t you think he might have been in the way?"

"And where’s Mrs. Larpent going?"

"Home first and then to Southampton, I believe."

"I forgot to say good-bye to her in the hurry of getting away from the
yacht," said Beatrix, hoping never to see her again.

"I thought you would," said Franklin, a little dryly. His mind went back
to the strained and uncomfortable return trip during which Beatrix and
Ida Larpent had instinctively avoided each other as much as possible. He
couldn’t for the life of him make out why.

"She’s very beautiful," said Beatrix, as though she were talking about a
view or a horse.

"Yes, but better than that," said Franklin.  "She’s a good sort."

And Beatrix changed the conversation abruptly. "Dear little Brownie!  It
was very thoughtful of her to insist on riding alone."

"Probably imagined that you and I had plenty to talk about."

"Have we?"

"I suppose so, but I don’t know where to begin."

And after that there was silence, for which both of them were glad.
This was the first time since leaving the one-eyed place with its frogs
and chickens that they had been alone.  During the return trip on the
_Galatea_ they had both tacitly agreed that no purpose could be served
by being together more than was necessary. Beatrix had kept Malcolm at
her side consistently. She confided nothing, spoke little and pretended
to read one of Jones’s novels, keeping her false brilliance for lunch
and dinner.  Malcolm, glad to believe that for some unfathomable reason
his companionship was necessary, stretched himself out in a deck chair
and wrote masses of _vers libre_.  When inspiration failed he
surreptitiously watched Beatrix and wondered why her eyes were nearly
always on the horizon with a wistfulness that worried him.  Once or
twice it flashed across his mind that she loved his friend and was
hiding the fact because of pride, and the excitement of the thought
drove every other idea out of his head. But when he saw that her manner
to Franklin was cheery and devil-may-care and boyish,—that word seemed
right to him,—he dismissed it.  "No such luck," he said to himself and
went on being quiet when he sensed that she wished for quietude and
broke into voluble conversation when it seemed to him that she silently
asked him to chatter.

He was a lazy fellow, was Malcolm Fraser, a happy-go-lucky
procrastinating young-old man, was this very dear chap, to whom the mere
passing of time counted for little so that it passed pleasantly and who
seemed to be content to absorb the color of life and revel in the
pageantry of Nature.  But he had been born a poet and one fine day, when
he took himself seriously, ceased to be impressionistic and settled down
to work, his God-sent sympathy, the milk of human kindness, of which he
was full, and the exquisite imagery that he had been collecting as a bee
gathers honey, would put him among the few men whose verse fills a hard
world with music and gives back to wounded souls that gift of faith
without which life is a hollow and a useless episode.

All the way back Mrs. Larpent had kept to her own room, giving out that
she was unwell,—as indeed she was.  Her mind was sick, and her body
disappointed. Franklin had told her the truth, she was obliged to own,
when he said that he loved Beatrix.  There was no accounting for tastes
and it seemed to her that a man might infinitely better give his heart
like a toy to a toy-surfeited child than to this young autocrat.

And so Franklin had found companionship with Captain McLeod, the first
officer, and—it was enough to make a cat laugh—with Mrs. Lester Keene.
He spent hours trying to make the time pass a little pleasantly for the
elderly woman who was, he knew, anxious, frightened and full of
conscientious but wholly unnecessary self-reproach.  They became good
friends before the yacht dropped her anchor off her usual moorings,—even
they.  One of Mrs. Keene’s resolutions was that, in future, she would
revise her novel-made opinion of men.  That was something to have
achieved, had Franklin only known it.

Through the mostly ugly, but sometimes queerly beautiful and always
unique city they went together, Franklin and Beatrix followed by their
entourage, and it came to them both that, in returning to the house in
which they had joined forces in a manner that now appeared to them to be
inconceivable, they were completing a curious and a useless circle.
They had undergone strange feelings, placed themselves into difficult
and dangerous situations, disconnected themselves from the
irresponsibility, the right to which was theirs by inheritance, given up
an individualism that was part and parcel of their training and
environment, and all for what?  To return discontented, disappointed and
dispirited to the spot from which they had set out. He loved her and
would lay his life at her feet and she loved him and would gladly be his
servant, and both, being alike and having the same want of confidence
when it came to the fundamentals, had not found it out.  Fate had played
a pretty game with these two for having dared to tamper with her.  And,
oddly enough, Ida Larpent was the only one of the characters in this
little comedy from which she had made her exit who had guessed what Fate
had done and now peeked through the cracks in the scenery to see how it
was going to end.  And she, being a worldling, suspicious of humanity,
was not prepared to make a guess.

"Well," said Beatrix at last, gathering herself together.  "We’re almost
there.  In for a very amusing evening, if I know my respected and
respectable family."

Franklin turned and looked at her.  There was something in her voice,—a
sort of school-girl note, the note of a high spirited young thing who
had broken bounds and been discovered and faced punishment,—that made
him shoot out a laugh.

"Why laugh?" she asked.  She never tolerated being laughed at.

"You’d make a rattlesnake chortle."  He laughed again.

"Look out, or I _may_ hit you," she said.  "It’s one of the things that
makes my arm utterly irresponsible."

He made a gesture that was almost French.  "You beat me," he said.  "By
Jove, you beat me."

"If you’d beaten me it might have been different," she snapped back at
him.

"One doesn’t beat you," said Franklin.  "God made you and that’s the end
of it, I find.  No argument, as a man I know always says when the rain
has set in for the day or a bottle’s empty.  You are you, kiddie, and so
are the sun, the moon and the stars."

"You’re a fool," she cried, "a fool, a fool!"  And then she put her hand
quickly over her mouth.  What kind of a fool would _she_ look if she
allowed herself to fling out even the beginning of what was in her mind?

"I knew that five minutes after I grinned like a Cheshire cheese and
posed before your people as the sheepish husband.  All the same it was
worth it, here and there."  He was damned if he’d give himself away
either.

"I think so too," she said.

The car turned and went through the great iron gates.

"I shall like the _Galatea_ all the better because you’ve touched her,"
he said.

She laughed because her lips insisted on trembling. "I suppose you asked
Malcolm to give you that. Don’t you think one poet in the family’s
enough? There’s mother’s machine-made hair and Aunt Honoria’s perfect
nose and dear old daddy’s kind but suspicious eyes.  ’It’s all right in
the wintertime but in the summertime it’s awful.’"  She sang these
pathetic words beneath her breath and waved her hand to the waiting
family with an air of superb confidence and affection.

He didn’t laugh again.  Metaphorically he took off all his hats to her
and laid them at her feet.



                                  *XL*


The perfect Mrs. Vanderdyke, fresh from the manipulations of her
constant time-fighters, arranged herself on the top step of the house.
With a light, controlling touch she placed her husband on her right and
her sister-in-law on her left, so that, viewed from below, they should
be exactly framed in the elaborate doorway.  She did this, as she did
everything, with a self-conscious sense of the decorative, of being like
royalty, in the public eye, of standing before an imaginary battery of
masked cameras as the chief representative of American high society.

It was a good picture, she knew, and one of which her country might well
feel proud.  She was quite satisfied with her own appearance.  Her head,
which had taken an hour to dress, was a work of art.  She wore no hat.
After some consideration she had come to the conclusion that a hat would
spoil the intimate, home-like effect that she desired to achieve.  Her
face, strangely un-lined and immobile, had the faintest touch of color.
Her chin, held high in order that there should not be the mere
suggestion of sag, certainly gave her the appearance of gargling, but
what did that matter?  Her dress, which had almost broken a woman’s
heart, gave her youth.  Of her sister-in-law she felt proud.  She added
the right note of dignity and autumnal beauty, with her white hair and
eagle nose and unconscious grace.  She wished that her husband had taken
more pains with his clothes and had put up a better fight with
elderliness but, after all, he was Vanderdyke and a man.

She was pleased with the way in which Franklin helped Beatrix out of the
car and, going down two steps, she welcomed the daughter of whom she
knew absolutely nothing as though she were a rather interesting and
important relation.  "How well you look, dear Beatrix," she said, in a
voice which gave the impression of having been as well massaged as her
face. She placed a light kiss on the girl’s cheek.  "But I’ve never seen
you so sunburned before," she added reproachfully.

"The simple life, Mother," said Beatrix, knowing that her satire was
wasted.  She put her arms round her father’s neck.  "How are you, Daddy
darling? Glad to see me?"

Mr. Vanderdyke, whose to-days were just as monotonous and uninspired as
his yesterdays, was unexpectedly emotional.  He held his only child
closely and kissed her several times and said, "My dear, my dear," a
little brokenly.  His little girl was returning from her honeymoon.  It
might mean so much in the history of the family.

And then it was Aunt Honoria’s turn.  With eager tenderness and pride
she gathered into her warm arms the girl she would have given so much to
own.  Her broken romance lived again at that moment.  Her eyes were
blurred with tears.

Not her father and not her mother gave Beatrix a sudden feeling of being
a fraud and an impostor, but this kind, sweet woman whose silence was so
eloquent. How different everything might have been if only she had been
her mother!

With what she intended to be marked cordiality Mrs. Vanderdyke gave both
her hands to Franklin, who had never been so uncomfortable in his life.
She wanted to convey to him the fact that even in the face of rumors and
anonymous letters she believed in him.  "My dear Pelham," she said, "it
is kind of you to cut your honeymoon so short in deference to our
wishes."

"Not at all," replied Franklin.  He pulled himself up as he was about to
add, "I’m only too delighted."

Mr. Vanderdyke seemed anxious to support his wife. "My dear fellow," he
said, "my dear fellow," and stuck.

Franklin returned his grip.  "I’m awfully glad to see you, sir," he
said.  "Er—what stunning weather."  He caught the impish look which
Beatrix darted at him and gave it up.

"My dear lad," said Aunt Honoria, so kindly and with a smile that was so
maternal that Franklin put her hand to his lips.  It was only as they
all went into the hall that he turned cold under the realization that he
was little better than a cheat among these people. All the same, with
one refreshing glance at Beatrix, whose impression of half-shy,
half-defiant young wifehood was amazingly perfect, he played the
son-in-law to the best of his ability.

Once more they were back, these two, in the place where life had taken a
sudden and astonishing twist. Months seemed to have gone by since they
had been there before.

"The Bannermans, Mrs. Gordon and Ethel, the Duc de la Faucheroucould and
Roy Stanton have been staying," said Mrs. Vanderdyke.  "By a very lucky
chance we shall be alone to-night and to-morrow.  We will have a family
council after dinner."

Beatrix looked at Franklin over her father’s shoulder, and drew down the
corners of her mouth. No, he was not the man to make her take things
seriously.

Mr. Vanderdyke let out some of the uneasiness that he had done his best
to disguise during the welcome. "I wish I’d acted on my intuition to
telephone to my lawyer," he said petulantly.  "Eventually we shall have
to take legal advice, I feel sure."

Aunt Honoria broke in.  "Now, now," she said, "we agreed not to go into
this matter until our young people had settled down.  It is far too
serious to take up in a desultory manner.  Personally, my opinion is
that as soon as Pelham has all the facts and has dined well and is
smoking a cigar he will bring his practicality to bear and possibly do
away with any recourse to the law.  I have great confidence in Pelham,"
and she smiled at him in a way that made him cold again.

And then Mrs. Lester Keene came in and was greeted graciously by the two
ladies.

Beatrix went across casually to Franklin.  "What on earth has happened?"
she asked, in an anxious whisper.

"I wish I knew," he whispered back.

"Do you feel curious?  I do."

He nodded gravely.  Beatrix and scandal,—they were never meant to run in
double harness.

And then the imp of mischief that was never very far away from Beatrix
took its old accustomed place on her shoulder, and her eyes began to
dance.  "I’m not surprised at my family’s confidence in you," she said.
"There’s something in your appearance that could win you orders even for
an encyclopedia.  What fills me with surprise and amusement is the
confidence they seem to feel in _me_.  That’s quite new."

"Not so loud," he said.

She sent out a ripple of laughter.  "Well, you certainly are practical.
That, I know."

"Do you?"

"Don’t I?"  She looked straight into his eyes and her laughter ceased.

Mrs. Vanderdyke joined them.  "You have twenty minutes for a little rest
before you dress for dinner, Beatrix.  You must be tired after your hot
drive."

"No, Mother, thanks," said Beatrix airily.  "Pelham talked all the way
here and was so merry and bright that the journey seemed short."  But
she went upstairs to the suite that he would never forget, and her
little touch of sarcasm found its mark.

"Come into my room," said Mr. Vanderdyke, "and we’ll smoke a cigarette."

Franklin followed him.

It was a curious room in which he presently found himself,—a room which
gave a pathetic keynote to the character and life of the man who spent
so many hours in it.  Very large and lofty, it was crammed with ideas at
which he appeared to have made a beginning, dabbled in and wearied of.
There were leather-bound manuscript books in dozens, several of which
had labels on the back,—"Notes on Old China," "Impressions of European
Labor Conditions," "Butterflies," "Songs and Sonnets," "A Life of
Russell Vanderdyke, Book I.," "Trout Streams," "The Improvement of
Factories,"—it would have taken an hour to examine them all.  The note
of the dilettante was everywhere,—in the pieces of rare silver that were
mixed with old pottery, Japanese lacquer, Jacobean chests, Oriental
curios, ancient Bibles, first editions, faded prints, modern etchings,
and one or two appalling examples of so-called Cubist work which
appealed to Franklin merely as pervertism or the attempt of men who had
never been taught to paint to illustrate delirium tremens.  It was the
room of a man of confirmed irresolution, of an inherited lack of grip,
of an intellect that was as unconcentrated as a flight of pigeons.  It
showed a scattering of interest that could only belong to some-one who
had never felt the splendid urge of achieving an object in the face of
dire necessity.  It provided the most unobservant eye with a complete
history of an ambitious but vacillating life. It conveyed to workers the
impression of many acres of dead-level ground long ago carefully staked
out as a garden city, with neat boards indicating here an avenue, here a
public library, here a country club, here a huge hotel, here a railroad
station, all very neat and well weeded but without the fulfilment of one
single promise.

Franklin didn’t get the feeling of the room at once. It seemed to him to
be rather intimate though somewhat uninhabitable.  It was only while Mr.
Vanderdyke was talking in his vague impersonal way that the pathetic
incompleteness of it all came to him and hit him hard.  Good Heavens,
what if he, too, dwindled, for the same reason, into a similar dabbler!
What if he, too, scattered away his life with the same kind of
uselessness!

He was glad to get away to change and to think. He was pretty certain
that the time was near, whatever might be the way out of the maze that
he was in with Beatrix, for him to do a good deal of thinking.  He was
pretty certain that when he left the Vanderdyke house alone,—he couldn’t
see how else he could leave it,—the effect that Beatrix had had upon him
would impel him to hitch himself on to life in some other capacity than
that of a mere observer.  For her sake, in her honor, he would dedicate
his life to a job that should relieve the pressure in some way on the
toilers of the earth and help things forward.

When he returned to the hall he found the punctual, punctilious family
ready and waiting to go into dinner. Beatrix followed him down almost
immediately, wearing a simple and charming frock.  Aunt Honoria met her
and brought her into the group.  There was something about the girl, a
new dignity, a riper air, an uncharacteristic quietude that was caught
at once by the three Vanderdykes and especially by Aunt Honoria. Her
words to Franklin in the garden before the honeymoon came back into her
mind and with an emotion that she was unable to suppress she said, "This
is a good night in the history of the family.  Our little girl has found
herself as we have prayed that she would.  I speak for my brother and
sister when I say that we are grateful to you, Pelham."  She bowed to
him with old-fashioned grace.

Mr. Vanderdyke, obviously disconcerted, murmured approval, and Mrs.
Vanderdyke smiled.  She was a little resentful of the way in which Aunt
Honoria always took the lead but this was outweighed by her immense
relief at the fact that Beatrix was happy and disposed of.

Franklin was the most uncomfortable man on earth.

And then Beatrix did a thing that once more made him wish that they were
back in the stone age.  "Let me speak for myself," she said quietly.
"Pelham, I am very grateful, too," and put her hand on his shoulder,
stood on tiptoes and kissed him.

He was wrong, once more, when he told himself, angrily, that she was
deliberately fooling, getting a thrill of amusement at his expense.  If
he had known her as she was now, he would have realized that she had
seized the public moment to do something she would not have dared to do
privately, that she was thanking him for what he had done for her and
saying "Good-bye."  She had made up her mind to tell the truth at the
family council that night.



                                 *XLI*


While Helene had been brushing her hair and getting her ready for dinner
Beatrix had gone in for honest thinking too.

She came at once to the conclusion that from every point of view the
sham that she had created in that wild moment of self-preservation and
devil-may-care must be smashed.  Scandal had driven her into it. Scandal
was following at her heels and in a blaze of scandal the episode must
end.  The futile punishment, which, as a girl, she had been so keen to
dodge mattered nothing to her now as a woman.  Let Aunt Honoria drag her
into the back of beyond.  She would go gladly.  In silent lonely places
she could sit in dreams and live over again those wonderful moments
during which she had burst into womanhood.  What did it matter now if
she missed a season, many seasons in New York?  She had looked into the
eyes of life.  She had no longer any desire to take her part among the
silly sheep that ran about in droves.  She was sorry for the pain and
humiliation that she must cause her family to suffer.  There seemed to
be no way to prevent that.  To enter into Franklin’s scheme of marriage
only meant a postponement of scandal. Divorce would provide the
gossipers with an even more succulent morsel than the one that was
waiting for them.  Out of this smash, bad as it must be, she would at
any rate preserve her pride and set Franklin free.

There were three things that hit her hard as she sat in front of her
looking glass that evening.  Her failure to make Franklin eat the words
that he had flung at her vanity as he stood at the foot of her bed.  Her
failure to turn the sex attraction that she had deliberately stirred in
him into love.  Her failure to compete with such a woman as Ida Larpent.
In fact it was the word failure that seemed to her to be written all
over the episode into which she had entered without a thought for anyone
except herself,—and it was the one word which had, till then, never been
allowed to have a place in her dictionary.

It was a bad hour that she went through as she summed things up, and she
came out of it startled at the knowledge that she, even she, was
required to pay for her mistakes to the uttermost cent.

Well, she _would_ pay and pay smiling.  She would prove to Franklin that
he was right when he said that she had courage.

Dinner was a rather pompous, long drawn out affair, watched, as usual,
by several of Romney’s rosy-cheeked men, a beautiful Gainsborough woman,
and a Reynolds’ legal luminary, cynical beneath a heavy wig.
Conversation was conducted, rather than allowed to run easily, through
the superfluous courses.  The butler, with the air of a bishop, held an
aloof place in the background and silent-footed men-servants hovered
like hawks over the shoulders of the diners.

To Mr. Vanderdyke dinner was an institution, the land-mark in his vacant
days.  He trained for it with assiduous care and self-restraint, enjoyed
it with his characteristic halfheartedness and took his punishment and
his tabloids as a matter of course.  To Mrs. Vanderdyke it was a severe
temptation which, for the most part, she resisted with great pluck.  The
smallest increase of weight meant hours of treatment.  Aunt Honoria just
ate and let it go at that and so did Franklin, whose appetite was the
envy and wonder of many of his less healthy friends.  Beatrix pecked a
little and said a little but smiled at everybody.  She was keeping up
the bluff until her cards were called.

How different and how wonderful it would all have been if instead of
acting parts she and Franklin were playing them in reality!

After the ladies had left Franklin smoked a cigarette with Mr.
Vanderdyke and did his best to show interest in his host’s rather
petulant criticisms of the ways and methods of the Government.  He was
very glad to follow him into the drawing-room in whose stiff immensity
the ladies were almost lost.

He went straight up to Mrs. Vanderdyke, who was leaning on a Tudor
mantelpiece, torn from Little Claverings in Essex.  She always stood for
twenty minutes after dinner.  It was part of her régime. "I’m very keen
to hear what there is to be told, Mrs. Vanderdyke," he said.  "May we
get to it now?"

"Isn’t it a little early yet?"  Mrs. Vanderdyke turned to Aunt Honoria,
who was talking to Beatrix. The energy of this tall, tanned man was a
little disconcerting.  "Will you——"

"I have everything here," said Aunt Honoria, "and I agree with Pelham
that there is no time like the present.  I have given orders that we are
on no account to be disturbed.  You will sit down, won’t you?"

Mrs. Vanderdyke did so, having glanced at the clock. Mr. Vanderdyke lay
back in a low chair with the fingers of his long, thin hands together.
He would far rather have been in the hands of a dentist than in that
room at that time.  Franklin sat bolt upright next to Beatrix, who had
her metaphorical bomb all ready to throw into the middle of the group.
Only to these two did the underlying drama of this curious meeting
appeal fully.

And then Aunt Honoria opened the proceedings quietly, calmly and with
all the dignity of which she was a mistress.  "I have here," she said,
"a bundle of anonymous letters and a cutting from a scurrilous paper.
The first letter came addressed to me.  Others are written to my brother
and sister, and there are half a dozen which were sent to intimate
friends of ours and placed in my hands by them.  They are all in the
same handwriting, which looks to me as though it were disguised.  They
began to arrive the morning after you left on your honeymoon, my dear,
and have come every morning since.  They take the form of a series of
questions.  This is the first one.  "Have you taken the trouble to
discover at which Church or registry your niece Beatrix and Pelham
Franklin were married?"  And then they run in this order.  You will see
that I have copied them out.  "What will you do when you find that your
daughter, who imagines herself to belong to the salt of the earth, is a
common wanton and liar?  What will you do to repair the damage that she
has done to your prestige in society by humbugging the papers into
printing the story of a marriage that never took place?  How is it that
sophisticated people of your type have accepted a man as a son-in-law
without evidence of his legal right to call himself so?  Do you think
you set a good example to all the people who copy your ways and manners
by allowing your daughter to go on the loose with any man she takes a
fancy to?  Have you a grudge against society in which you assume a
leading position and have you made yourselves party to an unmoral and
disgraceful transaction in order to hold it up to the ridicule of the
world?  Would you speak to a young girl, however well-born and wealthy,
who to hide a love affair with one man bluffed a marriage with a mere
acquaintance?  What decent man will marry your daughter after she has
been ’honeymooning’ with another?  Don’t you know that truth will out
and that already tongues are busy with the names of Vanderdyke and
Franklin?  Aren’t you sufficiently worldly to have learned that people
who condone are classed with people who commit?  Why not, if you have
been as gullible as press and public, set things right and make what
reparation you can to the members of your class?  Do you want the name
of Beatrix Vanderdyke to be placed among those of notorious chorus
girls?  Why not at once institute a search among the registrations of
marriages and force the guilty couple, now basking in the light of a
mock honeymoon, to confession and penitence?"

"Don’t go on, don’t go on," cried Mr. Vanderdyke. "I can’t stand it, I
tell you.  I can’t stand it!"  His voice was almost hysterical and his
gesture almost feminine.

"These dreadful questions," said Mrs. Vanderdyke, in a low voice, "give
me mental sickness."

Franklin sat quite still, with his hands clenched.

Beatrix looked as though she had been turned to stone.  Had all these
hideous things grown out of one impetuous moment?

"I will gladly pass over the rest," said Aunt Honoria, "and come to the
cutting from the paper that was sent to me three days ago.  This," she
added in a voice that became suddenly sharp with anger, "calls for
immediate action, Pelham, and is the reason of your being here
to-night."

"Please read it," said Franklin.

Aunt Honoria read, holding the clipping as though it held contamination.
It was written in the usual smart manner with the usual lascivious
snigger. "There is a very precious high life scandal in the offing, so
to speak,—one which will, it is said on the best authority, flutter the
dovecotes of all our Best Families.  Much satisfaction was recently
expressed, and gallons of ink expended in fulsome congratulation, upon
the marriage of a well-known amateur yachtsman to the beautiful and
adventurous daughter of a multi-millionaire.  No recent royal marriage
was more widely commented upon.  It is rumored, however, that the
high-spirited young lady who, even as a débutante had shown a certain
lofty disregard for the conventions, is now conducting an ultra-modern
experiment with the good-looking amateur yachtsman by honeymooning with
him before the legal prescription has been made out, with the view,
perhaps, to ultimate marriage.  This sort of thing has been perpetrated,
it is true, though without any attempt to mislead the public, by persons
of artistic temperament and no social position to lose, but the question
is being very generally asked as to how this peculiar proceeding will
presently be viewed by American Society, which still clings to one or
two hard and fast standards.  I shall certainly watch the outcome with
immense curiosity and shall be especially interested to see how soon the
matrons on and near Fifth Avenue will show how the wind is blowing in
their treatment of a certain member of the girl’s family who has
constituted herself the guide and mentor of her set for many years."

Although he had read this cunningly offensive thing over many times, Mr.
Vanderdyke squirmed in his chair and put one hand over his eyes.  His
fastidious and beautiful wife, usually too self-centered to be concerned
with the troubles of other people, gave him a glance of very genuine
sympathy.  It had been the fetish of them both to regard convention as a
sort of religion, and she knew, unable herself to translate her
indignation and disgust into words, how deeply her husband took this
utterly undeserved scurrility to heart. Like him and like Aunt Honoria
she had no suspicion of there being anything in the least out of order
in the marriage.

Beatrix still sat as though she had been turned to stone.

But Franklin got up.  This poisonous collection of sniggering words made
him see red.  Oh, God, for five minutes with that fat brute York!  He
walked up and down, watched with grim satisfaction by the family,
especially by Mr. Vanderdyke, who poked himself up on his elbow and with
a flush on his face and an eager light in his pale eyes saw in that
tall, wiry, sun-burned man all the symptoms of an overwhelming desire
for the sort of physical vengeance in which he himself would never be
able to indulge.

Franklin got himself under control, stood in front of the fireplace and
asked himself what he was going to do.  The moment had come when he
could get free of the girl who tortured his lonely hours and compelled
his adoration and was further away than Heaven.  In a few words he could
give her people, who deserved most of the blame, the story of the result
of spoiling. Should he seize it?  Should he cut loose from an empty tie
and become his own master again?  Once, at school, he had been summoned
before the Head Master to give evidence against Malcolm Fraser, who had
broken bounds.  He had lied through his teeth to save his friend.  Under
the eyes of these people the feeling came back to him and pervaded him
like a perfume that he was standing again in the sanctum of that stern,
old task-master.  Not for a friend this time, not for a man who could
take his punishment and grin, but for a girl who would be stained in the
sight of unbelievers, the girl of all living girls whom he loved beyond
words and whom, under any circumstances, he must hold, he would lie
himself black in the face to defend.  That was settled.  It was almost
laughable to have supposed that there had been any other solution.  He
turned.  There was a curious smile in his eyes.  "What is your
proposition?" he asked.

Aunt Honoria took a sheet of note paper from the little table at her
elbow.  There was something about this man Franklin that reminded her of
the one who had taken her heart with him beyond the outpost of eternity.
With some difficulty she steadied her voice. "When we first read that
paragraph with its abominable suggestiveness," she said, "we had no
intention of being drawn into making a statement.  We agreed that it
would be undignified.  But since then, having talked of nothing else, we
have come to the conclusion that we must send something to the leading
papers. What we suggest is this, if it meets with your approval."

"Please read it."  He noticed that Beatrix was opening and closing her
hands as though she had pins and needles.

"My brother drew this up and he left the spaces for you to fill in,
Pelham."  Aunt Honoria then read the statement which her brother had
written and re-written at least a dozen times.  "’From the recent
account of the romantic and closely-guarded marriage of Miss Beatrix
Vanderdyke and Mr. Pelham Franklin published by us we omitted to give
the name of the church in which it was celebrated and the date of the
ceremony.  ’The Church was —— and the date ——.’  All you have to do is
to fill in the facts and I will send the necessary copies to town
to-night by messenger. If this doesn’t put an end to letters and
paragraphs we must then claim the protection of the law."

Franklin took the sheet of paper.  All he had to do was to fill in the
facts!  Ye Gods, what was he to do with the thing?  He glanced at
Beatrix.  She still seemed to be half frozen.  No help was to be had
from her.  He must put forward a good objection and a good alternative
at once.  "I think that your first idea was the right one," he said.
"This statement is a confession of weakness.  I want you, if you will,
to leave the whole thing to me.  I know the man who’s written those
letters.  It will give me immense pleasure to deal with him.  One visit
to the office of that paper will settle the editor’s hash."  He spoke
with all the confidence that he could master and smiled at the three
Vanderdykes, who seemed to hang on his words.  "And, after all, this is
entirely my affair. Beatrix is my wife and it is for me and no one else
to protect her."

Beatrix, now fully alive, sprang to her feet.  "No," she said, "it’s not
your affair.  It’s mine, and it’s for me to put an end to it."

All eyes were turned on her,—the Vanderdykes’ with some surprise.
Franklin’s with quick apprehension. She was going to give the show away,
he saw. At all costs she must be stopped.  With what he tried to make a
newly-married smile he took her hand and scrunched it so that she nearly
screamed with pain. "There’s going to be a friendly argument between
us," he said.  "Would you permit us to conduct it out in the air?"  And
before another word could be said by anybody he put his arm around
Beatrix’s waist, controlled her to one of the open French windows and
out under the sky.

"What do you mean by this?" she cried angrily.

He held her tight.  "You were going to give yourself away."

"Yes, I was."  She tried to shake him off.  "And I will."

"No, you won’t, if I have to gag you, you won’t."

She gave her hand a violent wrench.  "Let me go. I’ve had enough of it."

Instead of which he stooped down, picked her up in his arms, carried her
down the terrace steps and through the sleeping garden to the tea house
overlooking the Sound.  Here he put her down and stood in front of her,
ready to catch her again if she tried to escape.  In that place, not so
long ago, he had found her impossible.

"Now, then," he said, "come to cues."

She gave a scoffing laugh.  "What is all this?  An attempt to play the
primeval man, or what?"

"Be sarcastic if you like," he said.  "I don’t care. Be anything you
please, but play the game.  You started it."

"Play the game!" she echoed, blazing with anger. "That’s exactly what I
was going to do."

"I don’t agree with you."

"What do I care whether you agree or not?"

"I’m going to make you care."

"Make me?  You?  Have you ever been able to make me do one single
thing?"

"This is where I begin.  Sit down."

"I won’t sit down."  He put her into a chair and stood over her.  He was
in no mood for conventionality.

"Dear me, how strong we are!" she said, like a rude little girl.

"Impertinence is wasted on me to-night.  So try something else.  We’re
back again at the beginning of this game of yours, but to-night we start
afresh."

"So far as I’m concerned the game’s over."

"Yes, but what you fail to realize is that you’re not the only one
concerned.  There’s your family and there’s me."

"I’m not going over all the old arguments again, I assure you.  I tell
you the thing is over.  You may be able to prevent me from telling the
truth to-night, but there’s to-morrow and the day after.  I’m in no
immediate hurry."

"I am though, and I’m going to keep you here until you give in to me."

"Order breakfast for eight o’clock," she said calmly.

He ignored her audacity.  "You will do three unforgivable things by
telling the truth.  You will put your people into a panic, hold me up to
the ridicule of the earth and hurt your reputation beyond any sort of
repair.  It isn’t sporting to do the first two and I’m not going to let
you do the other."

"My reputation——" She began, and stopped.

The word sporting dried up her words.  It opened up a new point of view.
She had harped on this word in regard to him.  She held it in high
respect.  For the first time in their long and fluctuating struggle of
temperament he had scored.

He saw it and went on quickly.  "Because of your people and because of
you,—I can always disappear,—I’m going to carry on your lie through
thick and thin.  If, when I’ve finished what I’ve got to say, you go
back and tell them that you’re not married to me I shall say that you’re
lying again.  I shall be believed and I shall first break every bone in
York’s body and thrash the paragraphist into a hospital.  Then, as soon
as McLeod’s had his three days’ leave you, being a sportsman, will come
aboard the _Galatea_ with me,—Malcolm’s waiting,—and we will make a bee
line for the Irish Coast and get married in Queenstown.  It’s impossible
in this country now."

"And then, what?" she asked.

"Africa for me, home for you,—or anywhere else you like."

"I see.  And are you childish enough to think that this precious plan
will kill scandal?"

"Yes.  Why not?"

"Divorce,—what of that?"

"That’s a small matter.  You can’t get a divorce without having first
been married.  It’s the question of marriage that we’re up against."

Beatrix was silent for a moment.  Her anger had gone.  By the unexpected
use of that one word "sporting" he had convinced her that she couldn’t
go back on a creed.  Here was a man who had the right to enforce
something to which he had lived up so splendidly.  She had made her bed
and must lie on it.

"May I get up?" she asked quietly.

"Please," he said, and stood back.

She went over to the wall and put her hands on it and looked out over
the silent water.  Was she beaten at last?  Had this man broken her as
well as unconsciously won her love?  Was she to fail utterly in her
reiterated attempt to make him eat the words that had hurt her so?  Was
she, in fact, quite down from the pedestal upon which every one had
placed her? A rush of tears blurred her eyes,—but only for a second.
She forced herself under control and looked round to see where Franklin
was.  He hadn’t moved. He was standing where she left him,—not looking
very much like a man who had won, she saw, without surprise.  He was not
that kind of man, she knew.

"I want you," she said.

He went over.

"Will you tell me something?"

"Anything."

She felt the blood rush into her face.  "Why was Ida Larpent in your
room the other night?"

He answered simply.  "To smoke a cigarette and have a yarn."

One awful weight fell from her heart.  "Will you say that you’re sorry
for that horrid thing you flung at me about the huts and the desert
island?"

He thought for a moment, remembered and laughed. "Yes," he said, "I’m
sorry."

The other weight fell.  There was a third, heavier than these two, that
would always remain.  "I will marry you," she said.

And he gave a queer groan and his hands went out to catch her and fell
to his sides.

And the other weight fell with what seemed to her to be a crash that
echoed all over the world.  Being a woman, and a woman in love, she
stood on tiptoe and kissed him.

"Don’t do that," he cried out.

"Why not?" she asked softly, standing so close that the perfume of her
hair made him shake.  "Aren’t you forcing me to be your wife?"

"No.  I’m only going to make you marry me."

"Then I won’t marry you," she said.

"What the devil do you mean?"

She smiled at his roughness and held up her face so that he might see
what she meant in her eyes.  She stood up straight, young and slim and
sweet,—her whole body radiating with love and joy and triumph.

And he looked and saw, gave a great cry like a shipwrecked man who sees
the shore, and held her against his heart, out there in the night, under
the stars, giving praise.



                                 *XLII*


"Sorry you’re going to leave us, sir," said Moffat, putting a pair of
shoes into a chamois bag.

"Thanks," said Malcolm.

"Mr. Franklin told me that you’re going to make straight for my village,
sir,—London."

The valet chuckled at his little joke.

"Yes, London for the autumn, Paris for the winter, and probably back to
New York for the spring."

"And very nice too, sir, I’m sure."

Malcolm went over to one of the open port-holes of his stateroom.  The
_Galatea_ lay in the harbor of Queenstown.  The setting sun lay kindly
on the houses of the small Irish port that behaved as though it were the
hub of the universe.  In one of them, a few hours ago, he had stood in
the shabby little room of the registrar of births, deaths and marriages,
making a mental and never-to-be-forgotten picture of a worn, cheap desk,
a worn, cheap man with a mop of grizzled hair and an absolutely
expressionless face, an inkpot which looked as though it had never been
cleaned, a square of green blotting paper, a dog-eared testament, and a
strip of carpet across which, slanting from the door to the desk, there
was a threadbare path made by the passing of feet.  Births, deaths and
marriages,—they were all the same to the registrar. He had his quiet
days and his busy ones.  Births and deaths gave a little less trouble
than marriages but they all worked out pretty much the same.

And in this picture, a startling contrast to the shabby and sordid room,
stood the vital figures of Beatrix and Franklin, hand in hand, the
representatives of the spirit of youth and love in that place which also
registered the beginning and the end of life.  The feeling and the
symbolism and the beauty of this scene made their appeal to Malcolm
Fraser both as a poet and a man.  Here stood a man and a woman, in all
the glory of youth, at the second of the three milestones. On to the
third, hidden behind the curtain of spring leaves, they would now go
together.  God grant them the gifts of give and take and the blessed
fruit of love. Here stood his friend and the woman he had loved and
loved still.  He wasn’t losing her because he was never in the running
to win.  He wasn’t losing him because their bond was everlasting.  All
was well, then.  He had no complaints.

[Illustration: In this picture stood the vital figures of Beatrix and
Franklin, hand in hand.]

He followed his luggage on deck.  Beatrix and Franklin were waiting for
him.  How different they looked, he thought.  No wonder.  They had found
the way to live.

"Don’t go, Mally," said Beatrix, putting an arm round his shoulder.
"Send your things down again and come back with us."

"Yes," said Franklin.  "Come on."

Malcolm shook his head.  "Don’t tempt me," he said.  "I’ve been lazy
long enough.  I’m going to begin to work in the old cities.  With any
luck I’ll have a thin volume ready, very expensively bound, for your
golden wedding."

They all laughed.  It was, somehow, a rather emotional moment.  It was
good to laugh.

"All ready, sir," said Jones, who regretted to be the one to put good
old Peter Pan ashore.

Malcolm gave his hand to Beatrix.  "God bless you, my dear," he said.

"God bless you, Mally."

"Good luck, old man."

"So long," said Franklin.

They watched him into the launch and away, waving their hands.

"Good old Malcolm!" said Franklin.  "Among other things that he did for
me he brought you on the _Galatea_."

"But not for my honeymoon," said Beatrix with a little look that made
his heart jump.  "When do we sail?"

"As soon as Jones gets back."

"And then, where?"

"Heaven," he said.

They began to walk.  The sun was slipping away. A new day was coming, a
new beginning.

"I know one thing," she said.

"What’s that?"

"You won’t spoil me."

He saw the old mischievous smile lurking in her eyes.  But she escaped
his eager hands and ran into her state-room.

And he followed her and shut the door.



                                THE END



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