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Title: His fortunate Grace
Author: Atherton, Gertrude Franklin Horn
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "His fortunate Grace" ***


  His Fortunate Grace

  Gertrude Atherton

  Author of A Whirl Asunder, The Doomswoman,
  Patience Sparhawk and Her Times,
  Before The Gringo Came, Etc.

  New York
  D. Appleton and Company

  COPYRIGHT, 1897,




“ARE you quite sure?” Mr. Forbes laid down his newspaper, and
looked with slightly extended mouth at his daughter who leaned forward
in an attitude of suppressed energy, her hands clasped on the edge of
the breakfast-table. The heiress of many millions was not handsome:
her features were large and her complexion dull; but she had the
carriage and ‘air’ of the New York girl of fashion, and wore a French
morning-toilette which would have ameliorated a Gorgon.

“Quite sure, papa.”

“I suppose you have studied the question exhaustively.”

“Oh, yes, indeed. I have read Karl Marx and Henry George and a lot of
others. I suppose you have not forgotten that I belong to a club of
girls who aspire to be something more than fashionable butterflies, and
that we read together?”

“And you are also positive that you wish me to divide my fortune with
my fellow-men, and deprive you of the pleasant position of heiress?”

“Perfectly positive,” firmly. “It is terrible, terrible to think of the
starving thousands. I feel it my duty to tell you, papa, that if you do
not do this yourself, I shall--when--when--but I cannot even think of

“No; don’t worry about it. I’m good for twenty or thirty years yet----”

“You are the handsomest and most distinguished-looking man in New York.”

“Thanks. To proceed: I should say that you are likely to be several
things meanwhile. I don’t know that I shall even take the trouble to
alter my will. Still, I may--that is unless you convert me. And you are
also convinced that women should have the vote?”

“Yes! Yes! indeed I am. I know all the arguments for and against. I’ve
heard and read everything. You see, if we get the vote we can bring
Socialism about quite easily.”

“Without the slightest difficulty, I should say, considering the
homogeneity of the feminine mind.”

“You darling sarcastic thing. But can’t you see what weight such women
as we are interesting in the cause _must_ have? We have carefully
excluded the _nouveau riche_; only the very oldest and most
notable names will be on our petition when we get it up.”

“Oh, you are going to get up a petition? Well, let that pass for the
present. Suppose you fall in love and want to marry?”

“I shall tell him everything. What I intend to make of my life--do
with what wealth I have at my disposal. If he does not sympathize
with me and agree to my plans, he must go. A woman’s chief end is not

“I need not ask if you have ever been in love?”

“Oh, of course, I want to be, dreadfully. All women do--even we
advanced women--now, papa! I don’t love you quite so well when you
smile like that. I am twenty-one, and that is quite old for a girl who
has been highly educated, has travelled, and been out two years. I
have a right to call myself advanced, because I have gone deliberately
into the race, and have read up a great deal, even if I have as yet
accomplished nothing. Exactly how much are you worth, papa?”

“Broadly speaking, about thirty millions. As a great deal of that is in
railroad and other stock, I am liable to be worth much less any day;
much is also in land, which is worth only what it will bring. Still, I
should say that I am reasonably sure of a fair amount.”

“It is terrible, papa! All that land! Do give some of it at least
to the poor dear people--I assure you we feel that we have taken
them under our wing, and have grown quite sentimental over them. Mr.
George would tell you what to do, at once. That man’s very baggy knees
fascinate me: he is so magnificently in earnest. When he scolded us all
for being rich, the other day at the meeting, I loved him.”

“It is a great relief to me that George is a married man. Well, my
dear, your allowance is ten thousand dollars a year. Do what you please
with it, and come to me if your fads and whims demand more. God forbid
that I should stand in the way of any woman’s happiness. By the by,
what does your mother think of this business?”

“She is _most_ unsympathetic.”

“So I should imagine,” said Mr. Forbes, drily. “Your mother is the
cleverest woman I know.”


AFTER luncheon, Miss Forbes hied herself to a drawing-room
meeting in behalf of Socialism. Despite the fact that she had elected
the rôle of mental muscularity, she gave studious application to her
attire: her position and all that pertained to it were her enduring
religion; the interests of the flashing seasons were unconsciously
patronised rather than assimilated. As she walked up the Avenue
toward the house of her friend, Mrs. Latimer Burr, she looked like a
well-grown lad masquerading in a very smart outfit of brown tweed, so
erect and soldierly was her carriage, so independent her little stride.
A bunch of violets was pinned to her muff, another at her throat, and
she wore a severe little toque instead of the picture-hat she usually

She smiled as she swung along, and one or two women looked back
at her and sighed. She was quite happy. She had never known an
ungratified wish; she was spoken of in the newspapers as one of the few
intellectual young women in New York society; and now she had a really
serious object in life. She felt little spasms of gratification that
she had been born to set the world to rights--she and a few others: she
felt that she was not selfish, for she grudged no one a share in the

When she reached Mrs. Burr’s house, high on the Avenue, and overlooking
the naked trees and the glittering white of the Park, she found that
other toilettes had taken less time than hers: several of her friends
complimented the occasion with a punctuality which she commended
without envy.

The large drawing-room, which was to be the scene of operations, was a
marvellous combination of every pale colour known to nature and art,
and looked expectant of white-wigged dames, sparkling with satin and
diamonds, tripping the mazes of the minuet with gentlemen as courtly
as their dress was rich and colourous. But only a half-dozen extremely
smart young women of the hoary Nineteenth Century sat in a group,
talking as fast as seals on a rock; and the slim little hostess was
compactly gowned in pearl-grey cloth, her sleek head dressed in the
fashion of the moment.

She came forward, a lorgnette held close to her eyes. “How dear of
you, Augusta, to be so prompt!” she said, kissing her lightly. “Dear
me! I wish I could be as frightfully in earnest as the rest of you,
but for the life of me I can’t help feeling that it’s all a jolly good
lark--perhaps that’s the effect of my ex-sister-in-law, Patience
Sparhawk, who says we are only playing at being alive. But we can’t
all have seventeen different experiences before we are twenty-four,
including a sojourn in Murders’ Row, and a frantic love affair with
one’s own husband----”

“Tell me, Hal, what is a woman like who has been through all that?”
interrupted Augusta, her ears pricking with girlish curiosity. “Is she
eccentric? Does she look old--or something?”

“She’s not much like us,” said Mrs. Burr, briefly. “You’ll meet her
in time; it’s odd you never happened to, even if you weren’t out. Of
course she can’t go out for awhile yet; it would hardly be good taste,
even if she wanted to.”

“How interestingly dreadful to have had such a thing in the family. But
I should think she would be just the one to take life seriously.”

“Oh, she does; that’s the reason she doesn’t waste any time. Here is
someone else. Who is it?--oh, Mary Gallatin.”

Augusta joined the group.

“Where is Mabel Creighton?” demanded one of the girls. “I thought she
was coming with you.”

“Haven’t you heard?” Miss Forbes, with an air of elaborate
indifference, drew her eyelids together as if to focus a half-dozen
women that were entering. “The Duke of Bosworth arrives to-day, and she
has stayed at home to receive him.”

“Augusta! What do you mean? _What_ Duke of Bosworth?”

“There is only one duke of the same name at a time, my dear. This
is the Duke of Bosworth of Aire Castle--and I suppose a half-dozen
others--of the West Riding, of the district of Craven, of the County of
Yorkshire, England. He has five other titles, I believe; and enjoys
the honour of the friendship of Fletcher Cuyler.”


“Mabel met him abroad, and got to know him quite well; and when he
wrote her that he should arrive to-day, she thought it only hospitable
to stay at home and receive him.”

“Are they engaged? Augusta, _do_ be an angel.”

“I am sure I have not the slightest idea whether they are engaged or
not. Mabel always has a flirtation on with somebody.”

“What is he like? How perfectly funny! How quiet she has kept him. Is
he good-looking--or--well, just like some of the others?”

“Mabel has merely mentioned him to me, and I have not seen his

“She’d make a lovely bride; and Mrs. Creighton has such exquisite
taste--St. Thomas’ would be a dream, I suppose he’ll wear a grey suit
with the trousers turned up and a pink shirt. I do hope he won’t walk
up the Avenue with her with a big black cigar in his mouth.”

“Is that what we came here to talk about?” asked Miss Forbes, severely.
“What difference does it make what a foreign titled thing looks like?
We are here to discuss a question which will one day exterminate the
entire order.”

“True,” exclaimed a dark-haired distinguished-looking girl who was
mainly responsible for the intellectual reputation of her set, albeit
not exempt from the witchery of fads. “We must stop gossiping and
attend to business. Do you know that I am expected to speak? How am I
to collect my thoughts?”

“You have so many, Alex,” said Miss Forbes, admiringly, “that it
wouldn’t matter if a few got loose. Have you prepared your speech? I
have mine by heart.”

“I have thought it out. I don’t think I shall be frightened; it is
really such a very serious matter.”

“Have you spoken to your father?”

“Oh, we’ve talked it over, but I can’t say that he agrees with us.”

Augusta laughed consciously. “There are probably some points of
similarity in our experiences. But we must be firm.”

Some thirty women, gowned with fashionable simplicity, had arrived,
and were seated in a large double semi-circle. They looked alert and
serious. Mrs. Burr drifted aimlessly about for a moment, then paused
before a table and tapped it smartly with her lorgnette.

“I suppose we may as well begin,” she said. “I believe we are going
to discuss to-day the--a--the advisability of women having the
vote--franchise. Also Socialism. Miss Maitland, who has thoroughly
digested both subjects, and many more, has kindly consented to speak;
and Dr. Broadhead is coming in later to give us one of his good
scoldings. Alexandra, will you open the ball?”

“Hal, you are incorrigible,” exclaimed Miss Maitland, drawing her dark
brows together. “At least you might pretend to be in earnest. We think
it very good of you to lend us your house, and we are delighted that
you managed Dr. Broadhead so cleverly, but we don’t wish to be flouted,
for we, at least, are in earnest.”

“Alexis, if you scold me, I shall cry. And I’ll now be serious--I swear
it. You know I admire you to death. Your French poetry is adorable;
you have more ideas for decorating than any professional in New York,
and you fence like a real Amazon. I am simply dying to hear you make a
speech; but first let me see if Latimer is hiding anywhere.”

She went out into the hall and returned in a moment. “It would be just
like Latimer to get Fletcher Cuyler and listen, and then guy us. Now,
Alexandra, proceed,” and she seated herself, and applied her lorgnette
to her bright quizzical eyes.

Miss Maitland, somewhat embarrassed by her introduction, stepped to the
middle of the room and faced her audience. She gave a quick sidelong
glance at her skirts. They stood out like a yacht under full sail.
She was a fine looking girl, far above woman’s height, with dignified
features, a bright happy expression, and a soft colour. She was a
trifle nervous, and opened her jacket to gain time, throwing it back.

“That’s a Paquin blouse,” whispered a girl confidently to Augusta.

“Sh-h!” said Miss Forbes severely.

Miss Maitland showed no further symptom of nervousness. She clasped her
hands lightly and did not make a gesture nor shift her position during
her speech. Her repose was very impressive.

“I think we should vote,” she said decidedly. “It will not be agreeable
in many respects, and will heavily increase our responsibilities, but
the reasons for far outweigh those against. A good many of us have
money in our own names. We all have large allowances. Some day we may
have the terrible responsibility of great wealth. The income-tax is in
danger of being defeated. If we get the vote, we may do much toward
making it a law, and it is a move in the right direction towards
Socialism. Our next must be towards persuading the Government to take
the railroads. It is shocking that the actual costs of transit should
be so small, the charges so exorbitant and the profits so enormous.
I feel this so oppressively that every time I make a long journey by
rail, I give the equivalent of my fare to the poor at once. It is a
horrifying thing that we on this narrow island of New York city should
live like hothouse plants in the midst of a malarious swamp: that
almost at our back doors the poor are living, whole families in one
room, and on one meal a day. My father gives me many thousands a year
for charity, but charity is not the solution of the problem. There must
be a redistribution of wealth. Of course I have no desire to come down
to poverty; I am physically unfit for it, as are all of us. We should
have sufficient left to insure our comfort; but any woman with brain
can get along without the more extravagant luxuries. It is time that we
did something to justify our existence, and if the law required that
we worked two or three hours a day instead of leading the idle life of
pleasure that we do----”

“We are ornamental; that is something,” exclaimed a remarkably pretty
woman. “I am sure the people outside love to read about and look at us.
Society gossip is not written for _us_.”

Miss Maitland smiled. “You certainly are ornamental, Mary,” she said;
“but fancy how much more interesting you would be if you were useful as

“I’d lose my good looks.”

“Well, you can’t keep them forever. You should cultivate a substitute
meanwhile, and then you never need be driven back into the ranks
of _passée_, disappointed women. Faded beauties are a bore to

“I refuse to contemplate such a prospect. Alex, you are getting to be a
horrid rude advanced New Woman.”

Mrs. Burr clapped her hands. “How delightful!” she cried, “I didn’t
know we were to have a debate.”

“Now keep quiet, all of you,” said Miss Maitland; “I have not
finished. Mary Gallatin, don’t you interrupt me again. Now that we
understand this question so thoroughly, we must have more recruits. Of
course, hundreds of women of the upper class are signing the petition
asking for the extension of the franchise to our sex, but few of them
are interested in Socialism. And if it is to be brought about, it
must be by us. I have little faith in the rag-tag bob-tail element at
present enlisted in that cause. They not only carry little weight with
the more intelligent part of the community, but I have been assured
that they would not fight--that they take it out in talk; that if
ever there was a great upheaval, they would let the anarchists do the
killing, and then step in, and try to get control later.

“Now, I thoroughly despise a coward; so do all women; and I have no
faith in the propagandism of men that won’t fight. What we must do
is to enlist our men. They are luxurious now, and love all that
pertains to wealth; but, as Wellington said once of the same class in
England: ‘The puppies can fight!’ Not that our men are puppies--don’t
misunderstand me--but you know what I mean. They would only seem so to
a man who had spent his life in the saddle.

“It has been said that the Civil War took our best blood, and that
that is the reason we have no great men now; all the most gallant and
high-minded and ambitious were killed--although I don’t forget that
Mr. Forbes could be anything that he chose. I suppose he thinks that
American statesmanship has fallen so low that he scorns to come out
avowedly as the head of his party, and merely amuses himself pulling
the wires. But I feel positive that if a tremendous crisis ever arose,
it would be Mr. Forbes who would unravel the snarl. You can tell him
that, Augusta, with my compliments.

“Now, I have come to the real point of what I have to say. It was first
suggested to me by Helena Belmont when she was on here last, and it
has taken a strong hold on my mind. We must awaken the soul in our
men--that is what they lack. The germ is there, but it has not been
developed; perhaps I should say that the soul of the American people
rose to its full flower during the Civil War, and then withered in
the reaction, and in the commercial atmosphere which has since fitted
our nation closer than its own skin. Miss Belmont says that nothing
will arouse the men but another war; that they will be nothing but a
well-fed body with a mental annex until they once more have a ‘big
atmosphere’ to expand in. But I don’t wholly agree with her, and the
thought of another such sacrifice is appalling. I believe that the
higher qualities in man can be roused more surely by woman than by
bloodshed, and that if we, the women of New York, the supposed orchids,
butterflies, or whatever people choose to call us, whose luxury is the
cynosure and envy of the continent, could be instrumental in giving
back to the nation its lost spiritual quality--understand, please,
that I do not use the word in its religious sense--it would be a far
greater achievement than any for which the so-called emancipated women
are vociferating. The vote is a minor consideration. If we acquire
the influence over men that we should, we shall not need it. And
personally, I should dispense with it with great pleasure.”

“Bravo! young lady,” exclaimed a vibrating resonant voice, and a
clerical man entered the room to the clapping of many hands. His eyes
were keen and restless, his hair and beard black and silver, and there
was a curious disconcerting bald spot on his chin. He looked ready to
burst with energy.

“Thank you all very much, but don’t clap any more, for I have only a
few minutes to spare. How do you do, Mrs. Burr? Yes, that was a very
good speech--I have been eavesdropping, you see. Feminine, but I am
the last to quarrel with that. It is not necessary for a woman to be
logical so long as her instincts are in the right direction. Well, I
will say a few words to you; but they must be few as I am very hoarse:
I have been speaking all day.” He strode about as he talked, and
occasionally smote his hands together. He was a very emphatic speaker,
and, like all crusaders, somewhat theatrical.

“I agree with all that Miss Maitland has said to you--with the
exception of her views on Socialism, I don’t believe Socialism to
be the solution of our loathsome municipal degradation nor of the
universal social evil. But I have no time to go into that question
to-day. The other part--that you must awaken the soul of the men of
your class--I most heartily endorse. The gentlemen alone can save
this country--snatch it from the hands of plebeians and thieves. In
them alone lies the hope of American regeneration. When I read of a
strapping young man who has been educated at Harvard, or Yale, or
Princeton, who is an expert boxer, fencer, whip, oarsman, yachtsman,
addicted to all manly sport, in fact--when I read of such a man
having tortoise-shell brushes with diamond monograms, diamond garter
buckles, and thirty sets of silk pyjamas--never see their names in
the paper except as ushers at weddings, or as having added some new
trifle to their costly apartments, it makes me sick--sick! A war
would rouse these young men, as Miss Maitland suggests; I haven’t the
slightest doubt that they would fight magnificently, and that those
who survived would be serious and useful men for the rest of their
lives. But we don’t want war, and you must do the rousing. Make them
vote--vote--nullify the thieving lying cormorants who are fattening on
your country, and ruining it morally and financially, as well as making
it the scorn and jest of Europe. And make them vote, not only this
year, but every year for the rest of their lives, and on every possible
question. It is to be hoped, indeed, that no war will come to awaken
their manhood--we don’t want to pay so hideous a price as that, and it
is shocking that it has been found necessary to suggest it. But what we
do want is a great moral war. Lash them into that, and see that they
do not break ranks until they have honest men in the legislature, in
Congress, and in every municipal office in the country. Now, I must be
off,” and waving a hasty adieu, he shot out.

“For my part,” said Mrs. Burr, above the enthusiastic chorus, “I
am delighted that he didn’t uphold Socialism. I’ll undertake the
reformation of Latimer, although it will probably give me wrinkles and
turn me grey, but I won’t have him giving up his ‘boodle,’ as they say
out West; not I! not I!”

“Gally is hopeless,” said that famous clubman’s wife, with a sigh. “I
shall have to work on someone else.”

“It will be lots more interesting,” murmured her neighbour.

“How shall we begin?” asked Mrs. Burr, wrinkling her smooth brow. “Put
them on gruel and hot water for awhile? I am sure they are hopeless so
long as they eat and drink so much.”

“I suppose all we girls will have to marry,” remarked one of them.

“Well, you would, anyhow,” said Mrs. Burr, consolingly.

“I shall not marry until I find the right man,” said Augusta firmly,
“not if I die an old maid. But father would be a splendid convert, and
his name would carry great weight.”

“You mean for Socialism,” replied her hostess. “No man does his
political duty more religiously than Mr. Forbes. But let us send
Socialism to--ahem--and just work at the other thing. I am dying to see
how Latimer will take it.”

“Never!” exclaimed Augusta, and was echoed loyally. “We must not lose
sight of that. I don’t at all agree with Dr. Broadhead on that point.
I have fully made up my mind to bring papa round.”

“But you are at a disadvantage, darling,” said Mrs. Burr, drily; “your
beautiful mamma thinks we are all a pack of idiots, and your father has
a great respect for her opinion, to say nothing of being more or less

“I shall convert her too,” said Augusta sturdily.

Mrs. Burr laughed outright. “I can just see Mrs. Forbes posing as a
prophet of Socialism. Well, let us eat. Alexis, you must be limp all
the way down, and your thinker must be fairly staggering. I will pour
you a stiff cup of tea and put some rum in it.”

Augusta rose. “I must go, Hal,” she said. “I have a speech to make
myself in the slums, you know. Aren’t you coming?”

“I? God forbid! But do take something before you go. It may save you
from stage-fright.”

“I haven’t a minute. I must be there in twenty. Who is coming with me?”

Eight or ten of the company rose and hurried out with her; the rest
gathered about the tea-table and relieved their mental tension in
amicable discussion of the lighter matters of the day.


A FOOTMAN had taken the Duke of Bosworth’s cards up to Miss
Mabel Creighton and her mother. The young man had arrived but an hour
before and still wore his travelling gear, but had been given to
understand that an English peer was welcome in a New York drawing-room
on any terms. The drawing-room in which he awaited the American maiden
who had taken his attenuated fancy was large and sumptuous and very
expensive. There were tables of ormolu, and cabinets of tortoise-shell
containing collections of cameos, fens and miniatures, a _lapis
lazuli_ clock three feet high, and a piano inlaid with twenty-seven
different woods. The walls were frescoed by a famous hand, and there
were lamps and candle-brackets and various articles of decoration
which must have been picked up in extensive travels.

The Duke noted everything with his slow listless gaze. He sat forward
on the edge of his chair, his chin pressed to the head of his stick. He
was a small delicately-built man, of thirty or more. His shoulders had
rounded slightly. His cheeks and lower lip were beginning to droop. The
pale blue eyes were dim, the lids red. He was a debauchee, but “a good
sort,” and men liked him.

He did not move during the quarter of an hour he was kept waiting, but
when the _portière_ was pushed aside he rose quickly, and went
forward with much grace and charm of manner. The girl who entered was a
dainty blonde fluffy creature, and looked like a bit of fragile china
in the palatial room.

“How sweet of you to come so soon,” she said, with frank pleasure. “I
did not expect you for an hour yet. Mamma will be down presently. She
is quite too awfully anxious to meet you.”

The Duke resumed his seat and leaned back this time, regarding Miss
Creighton through half-closed eyes. His expression was much the same as
when he had inventoried the room.

“I came to America to see you,” he said.

The colour flashed to her hair, but she smiled gracefully. “How funny!
Just as if you had run over to pay me an afternoon call. Did the trip
bore you much?”

“I am always bored at sea when I am not ill. I am usually ill.”

“Oh! Really? How horrid! I am never ill. I always find the trip rather
jolly. I go over to shop, and that would keep me up if nothing else
did. Well, I think it was very good indeed of you--awfully good--to
brave the horrors of the deep, or rather of your state-room, just to
call on me.”

She had a babyish voice and a delightful manner. The Duke smiled. He
was really rather glad to see her again. “You were good enough to ask
me to call if I ever came over,” he said, “and it occurred to me that
it would be a jolly thing to do. I only had little detached chats with
you over there, and there were always a lot of Johnnies hanging about.
I felt interested to see you in your own surroundings.”

“Oh--perhaps you are going to write a book? I have always felt
dreadfully afraid that you were clever. Well, don’t make the mistake of
thinking that we have only one type over here, as they always do when
they come to write us up. There are just ten girls in my particular
set--we have sets within sets, as you do, you know--and we are each one
of us quite different from all the others. We are supposed to be the
intellectual set, and Alexandra Maitland and Augusta Forbes are really
frightfully clever. I don’t know why they tolerate me--probably because
I admire them. Augusta is my dearest friend. Alex pats me on the head
and says that I am the leaven that keeps them from being a sodden lump
of grey matter. I have addled my brains trying to keep up with them.”

“Don’t; you are much more charming as you are.”

“Oh, dear! I don’t know. Men always seem to get tired of me,” she
replied, with just how much ingenuousness the Duke could not determine.
“Mrs. Burr says it is because I talk a blue streak and say nothing.
Hal is quite too frightfully slangy. Augusta kisses me and says I
am an inconsequential darling. She made me act in one of Howell’s
comedies once, and I did it badly on purpose, in the hope of raising my
reputation, but Augusta said it was because I couldn’t act. Fletcher
Cuyler, who is the most impertinent man in New York said---- Have you
seen Fletcher?”

“He came out on the tug to meet me, and left me at the door.”

“I believe if Fletcher really has a deep down affection for anyone,
it is for you--I mean for any man. He is devoted to all of us, and he
is the only man we chum with. But we wouldn’t have him at the meeting
to-day. Do you know that I should have lent my valuable presence to two
important meetings this afternoon?”

“Really?” The Duke was beginning to feel a trifle restless.

“Yes, we are going in frightfully for Socialism, you know--Socialism
and the vote--and--oh, dozens of other things. Alex said we must, and
so we did. It’s great fun. We make speeches. At least, I don’t, but the
others do. Should you like to go to one of our meetings?”

“I should not!” said the Duke emphatically.

“Well, you must not make fun of us, for I am simply bent on having
all the girls adore you, particularly Augusta. The other day we had
a lovely meeting. It was here. I have the prettiest boudoir: Alex
designed it. It looks just like a rainbow. I lay on the couch in a gown
to match, and the girls all took off their stiff street frocks and put
on my wrappers, and we smoked cigarettes and ate bon-bons, and read
Karl Marx. It was lovely! I didn’t understand a word, but I _felt_
intellectual--the atmosphere, you know. When we had finished a chapter
and Alex had expounded it, and quarrelled over it with Augusta, we
talked over all the men we knew, and I am sure men would be lots
better if they knew what girls thought about them. Alex says we must
regenerate them, quicken their souls, so to speak, and I suppose I
may as well begin on you, although you’re not an American, and can’t
vote--we’re for reforming the United States, you know. What is the
state of your soul?” And again she gave her fresh childlike laugh.

“I haven’t any. Give me up. I am hopeless.” He was arriving at the
conclusion that she was more amusing in detached chats, but reflected
that she was certainly likeable. It was this last pertainment, added to
the rumour of her father’s vast wealth, that had brought him across the

“I don’t know that I have ever seen one of the--what do they call
them?--advanced women? But I am told that they are not Circean. That,
indeed, seems to be their hall-mark. A woman’s first duty is to be

“That’s what Fletcher says. Augusta is my most intimate friend, my
very dearest friend, but I never saw a man look as if he was thinking
about falling in love with her. How long shall you stay?” she added
quickly, perceiving that he was tiring of the subject.

“I?--oh--I don’t know. Until you tell me that I bore you. I may take a
run into Central America with Fletcher.”

“Into what? Why that’s days, and days, and days from here, and must be
a horrid place to travel in.”

“I thought Chicago was only twenty-four hours from New York.”

“Oh, you funny, funny, deliciously funny Englishman! Why Central
America doesn’t belong to the United States at all. It’s ’way down
between North and South America or somewhere. I suppose you mean middle
America. We call Chicago and all that part of the country West.”

“If it’s middle it’s central,” said the Duke, imperturbably. “You
cannot expect me to command the vernacular of your enormous country in
a day.”

He rose suddenly. A woman some twenty years older than Mabel had
entered. Her face and air were excessively, almost aggressively
refined, her carriage complacent, a trifle insolent. She was the faded
prototype of her daughter. The resemblance was close and prophetic.

“My dear Duke,” she said, shaking him warmly by the hand, “I am so
flattered that you have come to us at once, and so glad to have the
opportunity to thank you for your kindness to Mabel when she was in
your dear delightful country. Take that chair, it is so much more
comfortable.” She herself sat upon an upright chair, and laid one
hand lightly over the other. Her repose of manner was absolute. “The
happiest days of my life were spent in England, when I was first
married--it seems only day before yesterday--my husband and I went
over and jaunted about England and Scotland and Wales in the most
old-fashioned manner possible. For six months we rambled here and
there, seeing everything--one was not ashamed of being a tourist in
those days. We would not present a letter, we wanted to have a real
honeymoon: we were so much in love. And to think that Aire Castle is so
near that terrible Strid. I remember that we stood for an hour simply
fascinated. Mr. Creighton wanted to take the stride, but I wouldn’t
let him. He has never been over with me since--he is so busy. I can’t
think how Mr. Forbes always manages to go with his wife, unless it is
true that he is jealous of her--although in common justice I must add
that if she has ever given him cause no one knows it. I suppose it is
on general principles, because she is such a beauty. Still I must say
that if I were a man and married to a Southern woman I should want to
get rid of her occasionally: they _are_ so conceited and they do
rattle on so about nothing. Virginia Forbes talks rather less than
most Southern women; but I imagine that is to enhance the value of her
velvety voice.”

The Duke, who had made two futile efforts to rise, now stood up

“I am very sorry----” he began.

“Oh! _I_ am so sorry you _will_ rush away,” exclaimed his
hostess. “I have barely heard you speak. You must come with us to the
opera to-night. Do. Will you come informally to an early dinner, or
will you join us in the box with Fletcher?”

“I will join you with Fletcher. And I must go--I have an engagement
with him at the hotel--he is waiting for me. You are very kind--thanks,
awfully. So jolly to be so hospitably received in a strange country.”

When he reached the side-walk, he drew a long breath. “My God!” he
thought, “Is it a disease that waxes with age? Perhaps they get wound
up sometimes and can’t stop.... And she is pretty now, but it’s
dreadful to have the inevitable sprung on you in that way. What are
the real old women like, I wonder? They must merely fade out like an
old photograph. I can’t imagine one of them a substantial corpse. I
shall feel as if I were married to a dissolving view. She is charming
now, but--oh, well, that is not the only thing to be taken into

The Creighton house was on Murray Hill. He crossed over to Fifth Avenue
and walked down toward the Waldorf, absently swinging his stick,
regardless of many curious glances. “I wonder,” he thought, “I wonder
if I ever dreamed of a honeymoon with the one woman. If I did, I have
forgotten. What a bore it will be now.”


AUGUSTA returned home at six o’clock, not flushed with triumph,
for she was too tired, but with an elated spirit. She had stood
on a platform in an East Side hall surrounded by her friends,
and to two dozen bedraggled females had made the first speech of
her life. And it had been a good speech; she did not need assurance
of that. She had stood as well as Alexandra Maitland, but had used
certain little emphatic gestures (she was too independent to imitate
anyone); and she had, with well-bred lack of patronage, assured her
humble sisters, for three quarters of an hour, that they must sign the
petition for Woman Franchise, and make all the other women on the East
Side sign it: in order that they might be able to put down the liquor
trust, reform their husbands, secure good government, and be happy
ever after. She flattered herself that she had not used a single long
word--and she prided herself upon her vocabulary--that she had spoken
with the simplicity and directness which characterized great orators
and writers. Altogether, it was an experience to make any girl scorn
fatigue; and when she entered her boudoir and found Mabel Creighton,
she gave her a dazzling smile of welcome, and embraced her warmly.
Mabel responded with a nervous hug and shed a tear.

“He’s here!” she whispered ecstatically.

“Who?--Oh, your Duke. Did he propose right off? Do tell me.” And
she seated herself close beside her friend, and forgot that she was
reforming the United States.

“No, but he told me that he had come over on purpose to see me.”

“That’s equal to a proposal,” said Augusta decidedly. “Englishmen are
very cautious. They are much better brought up than ours. Which is only
another warning that we must take ours in hand. It is shocking the way
they frivol. I’d rather you married an American for this reason; but if
you love the Duke of Bosworth, I have nothing to say. Besides, you’re
the vine-and-tendril sort; I don’t know that you’d ever acquire any
influence over a man; so it doesn’t much matter. Now tell me about the
Duke, dearest; I am so glad that he has come.”

Mabel talked a steady stream for a half-hour, then hurried home to
dress for the evening.

Mr. Forbes was standing before the fire in the drawing-room when his
daughter entered, apparelled for the opera and subsequent ball. She
wore a smart French gown of pale blue satin, a turquoise comb in her
pale modishly dressed hair, and she carried herself with the spring and
grace of her kind; but she was very pale, and there were dark circles
about her eyes.

“You look worn out, my dear,” said her father, solicitously. “What have
you been doing?”

Miss Forbes sank into a chair. “I went to two meetings, one at Hal’s
and one in the slums. I spoke for the first time, and it has rather
taken it out of me.”

“Would the victory of your ‘cause’ compensate for crow’s feet?”

“Indeed it would. I really do not care. I am so glad that I have no
beauty to lose. I might not take life so seriously if I had. I am
beginning to have a suspicion that Mary Gallatin and several others
have merely taken up these great questions as a fad. Here comes mamma,
I am glad, for I am hungry. I had no time for tea to-day.”

A _portière_ was lifted aside by a servant, and Mrs. Forbes
entered the room. But for the majesty of her carriage she looked
younger than her daughter, so exquisitely chiselled were her features,
so fresh and vivid her colouring. Virginia Forbes was thirty-nine and
looked less than thirty. Her tall voluptuous figure had not outgrown a
line of its early womanhood, her neck and arms were Greek. A Virginian
by birth, she inherited her high-bred beauty from a line of ancestors
that had been fathered in America by one of Elizabeth’s courtiers.
Her eyes had the slight fullness peculiar to the Southern woman; the
colour, like that of the hair, was a dark brown warmed with a touch
of red. Her curved, scarlet mouth was not full, but the lips were
rarely without a pout, which lent its aid to the imperious charm of her
face. There were those who averred that upon the rare occasions when
this lovely mouth was off guard it showed a hint in its modelling of
self-will and cruelty. But few had seen it off guard.

She wore a tiara of diamonds, and on her neck three rows of large
stones depending lightly from fine gold chains. Her gown was of pale
green velvet, with a stomacher of diamonds. On her arm she carried an
opera cloak of emerald green velvet lined with blue fox.

Mr. Forbes’ cold brilliant eyes softened and smiled as she came toward
him, flirting her lashes and lifting her chin. For this man, whose
eyes were steel during all the hours of light, who controlled the
destinies of railroads and other stupendous enterprises and was the
back-bone of his political party, who had piled up millions as a
child piles up blocks, and who had three times refused the nomination
of his party for the highest gift of the nation, had worshipped his
wife for twenty-two years. He turned toward his home at the close of
each day with a pleasure that never lost its edge, exulting in the
thought that ambition, love of admiration, and the onerous duties
of the social leader could not tempt his wife to neglect him for an
hour. He lavished fortunes upon her. She had an immense allowance to
squander without record, a palace at Newport and another in the North
Carolina mountains, a yacht, and jewels to the value of a million
dollars. In all the years of their married life he had refused her
but one dear desire--to live abroad in the glitter of courts, and
receive the homage of princes. He had declined foreign missions again
and again. “The very breath of life for me is in America,” he had
said with final decision. “And if I wanted office I should prefer the
large responsibilities of the Presidency to the nagging worries of an
Ambassador’s life. The absurdities of foreign etiquette irritate me
now when I can come and go as I like. If they were my daily portion I
should end in a lunatic asylum. They are a lot of tin gods, anyhow,
my dear. As for you, it is much more notable to shine as a particular
star in a country of beauties, than to walk away from a lot of women
who look as if they had been run through the same mould, and are only
beauties by main strength.” And on this point she was forced to submit.
She did it with the better grace because she loved her husband with the
depth and tenacity of a strong and passionate nature. His brain and
will, the nobility and generosity of his character, had never ceased
to exercise their enchantment, despite the men that paid her increasing
court. Moreover, although the hard relentless pursuit of gold had aged
his hair and skin, Mr. Forbes was a man of superb appearance. His
head and features had great distinction; his face, when the hours of
concentration were passed, was full of magnetism and life, his eyes
of good-will and fire. His slender powerful figure betrayed little
more than half of his fifty-one years. He was a splendid specimen of
the American of the higher civilisation: with all the vitality and
enthusiasm of youth, the wide knowledge and intelligence of more than
his years, and a manner that could be polished and cold, or warm and
spontaneous, at will.

For her daughter, Mrs. Forbes cared less. She had not the order of
vanity which would have dispensed with a walking advertisement of her
years, but she resented having borne an ugly duckling, one, moreover,
that had tiresome fads. She had been her husband’s confidante in
all his gigantic schemes, financial and political, and Augusta’s
intellectual kinks bored her.

She crossed the room and gave her husband’s necktie a little twist. Mr.
Forbes sustained the reputation of being the best-groomed man in New
York, but it pleased her to think that she could improve him. Then she
fluttered her eyelashes again.

“Do I look very beautiful?” she whispered.

He bent his head and kissed her.

“When you two get through spooning,” remarked Miss Forbes in a tired
voice, “suppose we go in to dinner.”

“Don’t flatter yourself that it is all for you,” Mrs. Forbes said to
her husband, “I am to meet an English peer to-night.”

“Indeed,” replied Mr. Forbes, smiling, “Have we another on the market?
What is his price? Does he only want a roof? or will he take the whole
castle, barring the name and the outside walls?”

“You are such an old cynic. This is the Duke of Bosworth, a very
charming man, I am told. I don’t know whether he is poverty-stricken or
not. I believe he paid Mabel Creighton a good deal of attention in the
autumn, when she was visiting in England.”

“He wouldn’t get much with her: Creighton is in a tight place. He may
pull out, but he has three children besides Mabel. However, there are
plenty of others to snap at this titled fish, no doubt.”

“I hope not,” said Augusta. “Dear Mabel is very fond of him; I am sure
of that. He only arrived to-day, and is going with them to the opera
to-night. How are you to meet him?”

“Fletcher Cuyler will bring him to my box, of course. Are not all
distinguished foreigners brought to my shrine at once?”

“True,” said Miss Forbes. “But _are_ we going in to dinner? I have
never heard Maurel in _Don Giovanni_, and I don’t want to lose
more than the first act.”

“There is plenty of it. But let us go in to dinner, by all means.”


THE two tiers of boxes at the Metropolitan Opera House reserved
for the beauty and fashion of New York flashed with the plumage
of women and a thousand thousand gems. Women of superb style, with
little of artifice but much of art, gowned so smartly that only
their intense vitality saved them from confusion with the fashion-plate,
carrying themselves with a royal, albeit somewhat self-conscious air,
many of them crowned like empresses, others starred like night,
producing the effect _en masse_ of resplendent beauty, and individually
of deficiency in all upon which the centuries have set their seal,
hung, two or three in a frame, against the curving walls and red
background of the great house: suspended in air, these goddesses
of a new civilisation, as if with insolent challenge to all that
had come to stare. To the music they paid no attention. They had
come to decorate, not to listen; without them there would be no opera.
The music lovers were stuffed on high, where they seemed to cling to
the roof like flies. The people in the parquette and orchestra chairs,
in the dress-circle and balconies, came to see the hundreds of millions
represented in the grand tier. Two rows of _blasé_ club faces studded
the long omnibus box. Behind the huge sleeves and voluminous skirts
that sheathed their proudest possessions, were the men that had coined
or inherited the wealth which made this triumphant exhibition possible.

As the curtain went down on the second act and the boxes emptied
themselves of their male kind that other male kind might enter to do
homage, two young men took their stand in the back of a box near the
stage and scanned the house. One of them remarked after a few moments:

“I thought that all American women were beautiful. So far, I see only

“These are the New York fashionettes, my dear boy. Their pedigree is
too short for aristocratic outline. You will observe that the pug is
as yet unmitigated. Not that blood always tells, by any means: some of
your old duchesses look like cooks. Our orchids travel on their style,
grooming, and health, and you must admit that the general effect is
stunning. Who is your beauty?”

“Directly in the middle of the house. Gad! she’s a ripper.”

“You are right. That is the prettiest woman in New York. And her
pedigree is probably as good as yours.”

“Who is she?”

“Mrs. Edward R. Forbes, the wife of one of the wealthiest and most
powerful men in the United States.”


“That is her daughter beside her.”

“Her what!”

“I always enjoy making that shot. It throws a flash-light on the
pitiful lack of originality in man every time. But it is nothing for
the petted wife of an American millionaire to look thirty when she is
forty. It’s the millionaire who looks sixty when he is fifty. I’m not
including Forbes, by the way. That tall man of fine physique that has
just left the box is he.”

“Poor thing!”

“Oh, don’t waste any pity on Forbes. He’s the envy of half New York.
She is devoted to him, and with good reason: there are few men that
can touch him at any point. I shall take you over presently. The first
thing a distinguished stranger, who has had the tip, does when he
comes to New York is to pay his court at that shrine. What a pity you
are booked. That girl will come in for forty millions.”

The other set his face more stolidly.


“Oh, no--dollars. But they’ll do.”

“I have not spoken as yet, although I don’t mind saying that that is
what I came over for.”

“I suppose you are in pretty deep--too deep to draw out?”

“I don’t know that I want to. I can be frank with you, Fletcher. Is
her father solid? American fortunes are so deucedly ricketty. I am
perfectly willing to state brutally that I wouldn’t--couldn’t--marry
Venus unless I got a half million (pounds) with her and something of an
income to boot.”

“As far as I know Creighton stands pretty well toward the top. You
can never tell though: American fortunes are so exaggerated. You
see, the women whose husbands are worth five millions can make pretty
much the same splurge as the twenty or thirty million ones. They know
so well how to do it. For the matter of that there’s one clever old
_parvenu_ here who has never handled more than a million and a
half--as I happen to know, for I’m her lawyer--and who entertains
with the best of them. Her house, clothes, jewels, are gorgeous.
A shrewd old head like that can do a lot on an income of seventy
thousand dollars a year. But Forbes, I should say, is worth his twenty
millions--that’s allowing for all embellishments--if he’s worth a
dollar, and Augusta is the only child. Unless America goes bankrupt,
she’ll come in for two-thirds of that one of these days, and an immense
dot meanwhile.”

At this moment Miss Creighton, who had been talking with charming
vivacity to a group of visitors, dismissed them with tactful badinage,
and beckoned to the two men in the back of the box.

“Sit down,” she commanded. “What do you think, Fletcher? I stayed away
from two important meetings to-day in order to receive the Duke. Was
not that genuine American hospitality?”

She spoke lightly; but as her eyes sought the Englishman’s, something
seemed to flutter behind her almost transparent face.

“These fads! These fads!” exclaimed the young man addressed as
Fletcher. “Have you resigned yourself to the New Woman, Bertie? The
New York variety is innocuous. They just have a real good time and the
newspapers take them seriously and write them up, which they think is

“Nobody pays any attention to Fletcher Cuyler,” said Miss Creighton
with affected disdain. “We will make you all stare yet.”

The Duke smiled absently. He was looking toward the box in the middle
of the tier.

“I think women should have whatever diversion they can find or invent,”
he said. “Society does not do much for them.”

The curtain rose.

“Keep quiet,” ordered Cuyler. “I allow no talking in a box which I
honour with my presence. That isn’t what _I_ ruin myself for.”

He was a tail nervous blonde bald-headed man of the Duke’s age, with
an imp-like expression and dazzling teeth. Despite the fact that he
was unwealthed, he was a fixed star in New York society; he not only
knew more dukes and princes than any other man in the United States,
but was intimate with them. He had smart English relatives and was a
graduate of Oxford, where he had been the chosen friend of the heir to
the Dukedom of Bosworth. His excessive liveliness, his adaptability and
versatility, his audacity, eccentricities, cleverness, and his utter
disregard of rank, had made him immensely popular in England. He was
treated as something between a curio and a spoilt child; and if people
guessed occasionally that his head was peculiarly level, they but
approved him the more.

When the act was done and the box again invaded, Cuyler carried the
Englishman off to call on Mrs. Forbes. Her box was already crowded,
and Mr. Forbes stood just outside the door. As the Duke was introduced
to him, he contracted his eyelids, and a brief glance of contempt shot
from eyes that looked twenty years younger than the fish-like orbs
which involuntarily twitched as they met that dart. But Mr. Forbes
was always courteous, and he spoke pleasantly to the young man of his
father, whom he had known.

Cuyler entered the box. “Get out,” he said, “everyone of you. I’ve got
a live duke out there. He’s mortgaged for the rest of the evening and
time’s short.” He drove the men out, then craned his long neck round
the half-open door.

“Dukee, dukee,” he called, “come hither.”

The Duke, summoning what dignity he could, entered, and was presented.
After he had paid a few moments’ court to Mrs. Forbes, Cuyler deftly
changed seats with him and plunged into an animated dispute with his
hostess anent the vanishing charms of _Don Giovanni_.

The Duke leaned over Miss Forbes’ chair with an air of languor, which
was due to physical fatigue, contemplating her absently, and not
taking the trouble to more than answer her remarks. Nevertheless, his
prolonged if indifferent stare disturbed the girl who had known little
susceptibility to men. There was something in the cold regard of his
eye, the very weariness of his manner, which had its charm for the type
of woman who is responsive to the magnetism of inertia, whom a more
vital force repels. And his title, all that it represented, the pages
of military glory it rustled, appealed to the mind of the American girl
who had felt the charm of English history. She was not a snob; she
had given no thought to marrying a title; and if the man had repelled
her, she would have relegated him to that far outer circle whence all
were banished who bored her or achieved her disapproval; but a thin
spell emanated from this cold self-contained personality and stirred
her languid pulse. Practical as she was, she had a girl’s imagination,
and she saw in him all that he had not, haloed with an ancient title;
behind him a great sweep of historical canvas. Then she remembered her
friend; and envied her with the most violent emotion of her life.

“Well, what do you think of her?” asked Cuyler of the Duke, as they
walked down the lobby. “I don’t mean _la belle dame sans merci_;
there’s only one opinion on that subject. But Augusta? do you think you
could stand her? If Forbes took the notion he’d come down with five
million dollars without turning a hair.”

“I could swallow her whole and without a grimace,” said the Duke drily.
“But I am half, two-thirds committed. I have no intention of making
Miss Creighton ridiculous, although I shall be obliged to tell her
father frankly that I cannot marry her unless he comes down with half
a million. It’s a disgusting thing to do, but I have no choice.”

“Oh, don’t go back on Mabel, of course. But I am sorry. However,
_nous verrons_. If Creighton doesn’t come to time, let me know.
I am pretty positive I can arrange the other: I think I know my fair
compatriot’s weak spot. I suppose you go on with the Creightons to the
big affair at the Schemmerhorn-Smiths to-night? Well, give Augusta a
quarter of an hour or so of your flattering attentions. It will do no
harm, in any event. I feel like a conspirator, but I’d like to see you
on your feet. Gad! I wish I had a title; I wouldn’t be in debt as long
as you have been.”


THE next day Cuyler took the Duke to call on Mrs. Forbes
in her house. It was five o’clock and the lamps were lit. Augusta’s
particular set were there, talking Socialism over their tea, and
enlightening a half-dozen young men and elderly club _roués_, who
listened with becoming gravity. Mrs. Forbes sat somewhat apart by the
tea-table talking to three or four men on any subject but Socialism.
She wore a gown of dark-red velvet with a collar of Venetian lace and
sat in a large high-backed chair of ebony, inlaid with ivory. The seat
was also high, and she looked somewhat like a queen on her throne,
graciously receiving the homage of her courtiers. The drawing-room
was twice as large as the Creighton’s, the Duke noted as he entered.
It was hung with dark-green velvet embroidered with a tree design in
wood colour an inch thick. Every shade of green blended in the great
apartment, and there was no other colour but the wood relief and the
pink of the lamp-shades.

Mrs. Forbes did not rise, but she held out her hand to the stranger
with so spontaneous a warmth that he felt as if he were receiving his
first welcome in transatlantic parts. She had not shaken hands with him
at the opera, and their brief conversation had been over her shoulder;
he now found that her eyes and hand, her womanly magnetism and almost
regal manner combined to effect the impression: “New York, _c’est
moi_. My hospitality to the elect few who win my favour is sincere
and unbounded, the bitter envy of the cold and superfluous stranger
without its gates; and, of all men, my dear Duke of Bosworth, you are
the most genuinely welcome.”

He wondered a little how she did it, but did not much care. It was a
large beautiful gracious presence, and he was content, glad to bask in
it. He forgot Augusta and Mabel, and took a low chair before her.

“I won’t ask you how you like New York,” she said, smiling again. She
half divined his thoughts, and saw that he was clever despite an entire
indifference to his natural abilities; and the sympathy of her nature
conveyed what she thought.

“Oh, I do--now,” he replied with unwonted enthusiasm. “I must say that
the blind rush everybody seems to be in is a trifle disconcerting
at first--it makes an Englishman feel, rather, as if his youngest
child--the child of his old age, as it were, was on a dead run, and
that he must rush after to see what it was all about or be left behind
like an old fogey. Upon my word I feel fully ten years older than I did
when I landed.”

She laughed so heartily that he felt a sudden desire to say something
really clever, and wondered why he usually took so little trouble.

“That is the very best statement of one of our racial differences I
have heard,” she said; “I shall remember to tell it to my husband. He
will be delighted. I feel the rush myself at times, for I was born in
a far more languid climate. But New York is an electrifying place; it
would fascinate you in time.”

“It fascinates me already!” he said gallantly, “and it is certainly
reposeful here.”

“It is always the same, particularly at five o’clock,” she replied.

“Does that mean that I can drop in sometimes at this hour?”

“_Will_ you?”

“I am afraid I shall be tempted to come every day.”

“That would be our pleasure,” and again she smiled. It was a smile that
had warmed older hearts than the weary young profligate’s. “Augusta is
almost invariably here and I usually am. Occasionally I drive down to
bring my husband home.”

The Duke understood her perfectly. Her graceful pleasure in meeting
him was not to be misconstrued. As she turned to greet a new comer he
regarded her closely. If she had not taken the trouble to convey her
subtle warning, he should have guessed that she loved her husband. Then
he fell to wondering what sort of a man Forbes was to have developed
the abundant harvest of such a woman’s nature. “She could easily have
been made something very different in the wrong hands,” he thought,
“and not in one respect only but in many. What a mess I should have
made of a nature like that! Little Miss Creighton, with her meagre
and neutral make-up is about all I am equal to. This woman might have
lifted me up once; but more likely I should have dragged her down. She
is all woman, the kind that is controlled and moulded by the will of a

His eyes rested on her mouth. “She will hurt Forbes some day, give him
a pretty nasty time; but it won’t be because she doesn’t love him.
And--she’ll make him forget--when she gets ready. A man would forgive a
woman like that anything.”

She turned suddenly and met his eyes. “What are you thinking?” she

“That Mr. Forbes must be a remarkable man,” he answered quickly. He
rose. “I must go over and speak to Miss Forbes; but I shall come back.”

Mabel’s eyes were full of coquettish reproach. Augusta chaffed him for
forgetting their existence. Her manner was not her mother’s, but it was
high-bred, and equally sincere. She presented him to the other girls,
and to Mrs. Burr, who lifted her lorgnette, and regarded him with a
prolonged and somewhat discomforting stare. But it was difficult to
embarrass the Duke of Bosworth. He went over and sat beside Mabel.

“I think I met him once,” said Mrs. Burr to Augusta, “but he is so very
unindividual that I cannot possibly remember.”

“I think he is charming,” said Miss Forbes. “I had quite a talk with
him last night.”

“He doesn’t look stupid, but he’s not precisely hypnotic.”

“Oh, there’s _something_ about him!” exclaimed one of the other
girls. “I feel sure that he’s fascinating.”

“He looks as though he knew so much of the world,” said another, with
equal enthusiasm.

“What’s the matter with us?” demanded one of the young men.

“You haven’t a title,” said Mrs. Burr.

“Hal, you are quite too horrid. I have not thought of his title--not
once. But Norry, you _can’t_ look like that, no matter how hard
you try.”

“Oh yes I can; it’s not so hard as you imagine; only it’s not my
chronic effect. When I am--ah--indiscreet enough to produce it, I have
the grace to keep out of sight.”

“That is not what I mean.”

“Oh, he is an Englishman--with a title,” said the young man, huffily.
“Miss Maitland, have you caught the fever?”

“I have either had all, or have outgrown the children’s diseases, and
I class the title-fever among them. I know that some get it late in
life, but some people will catch anything. Our old butler has just had
the mumps.”

“That’s a jolly way of looking at it.”

“Oh you men are not altogether exempt,” said Mrs. Burr. “But the
funniest case is Ellis Davis. He’s just come back from London with
a wild Cockney accent, calls himself ‘Daivis,’ and says ‘todai’ and
the Princess of ‘Wailes,’ and ‘paiper.’ Probably he also says ‘caike’
and ‘laidy.’ I can’t think where he got it, for he must have had
_some_ letters, and you may bet your prospects he presented them.”

“Possibly he saw more of the hotel servants and his barber than he did
of the others,” suggested Miss Maitland.

“Or his ear may be defective, or his memory bad, and he got mixed,”
replied Mrs. Burr. “We’ll give him the benefit of the doubt; but I
can’t think why the most original people on earth want to imitate
anyone. And yet they say we hate the English. Great heaven! Why, we
even drink the nasty concoction called English breakfast tea, a brand
the English villagers would not give tuppence a pound for, simply
because it has the magic word tacked on to it.”

“We don’t hate the English,” said Augusta. “What nonsense. The Irish
do, and the politicians toady to the Irish and control certain of the
newspapers. That is all there is in it; but they make the most noise.”

“And _we_ grovel,” said Mrs. Burr. “It is a pity we can’t strike a
happy medium.”

“I think the greater part of the nation is indifferent,” said Miss
Maitland, “or at all events recognises the bond of blood and gratitude.”

The Duke was making his peace with Mabel.

“I was afraid I bored you this morning,” he said, “it is good of you
not to tell me that you don’t want to talk to me again for a week.”

“You only stayed an hour. Did it seem so long?”

“I never paid a call of twenty minutes before,” he said unblushingly.

“Oh, how sweet of you!”

“Not at all. Can I walk home with you? Is that proper?”

“Oh, there will be a lot of us together; and they will all want to talk
to you.”

“My valuable conversation shall be devoted to you alone.” He hesitated
a moment. “Shall you be at home this evening?”

She looked down, tucking the end of her glove under her cuff. “Yes, I
rarely go out two nights in succession.”

“May I call again?”


She looked up and met his eyes. “It has to be done,” thought the
Englishman, “there’s no getting out of it now, and I may as well take
the plunge and get over it. And she certainly is likeable.”

“They are going now,” said Mabel.

He went over to Mrs. Forbes to make his adieux.

“I haven’t given you any tea,” she said. “It was stupid of me to forget
it. You must come back to-morrow and have a cup.”

“I shall come--for the tea,” he said.

“And you must dine with us? Some day next week--Thursday?”

“Thanks, awfully; I’ll come on any pretence.”

“You must--Fletcher, take the Duke into the dining-room. It is so cold

And to this invitation the Duke responded with no less grace, then
walked home with Mabel and left her at her door, happy and elated.


MR. FORBES stood in his office, his eyes rivetted on a narrow
belt of telegraph ticking which slipped loosely through his hands, yard
after yard, from a machine on the table. As it fell to the floor and
coiled and piled about him, until the upper part of his body alone was
visible, it seemed to typify the rising waters of Wall Street. Outside,
the city was white and radiant, under snow and electric light. In the
comfortable office the curtains were drawn, a gas log flamed in the
grate, and the electric loops were hot.

Mr. Forbes had stood motionless for an hour. His hat was on the back of
his head. His brow was corrugated. His lips were pressed together, his
eyes like flint. The secretary and clerk had addressed him twice, but
had been given no heed. The hieroglyphics on that strip of white paper
sliding so rapidly through his fingers had his brain in their grip. For
the moment he was a financial machine, nothing more.

Suddenly the ticking was softly brushed from his hands, the coils about
him kicked apart by a little foot, and he looked down into the face of
his wife. She was enveloped in sables; her cheeks were brilliant with
the pink of health and cold. Mr. Forbes’ brow relaxed; he drew a deep
sigh and removed his hat.

“Well! I am glad I came for you,” she exclaimed. “I believe you would
have stood there all night. You looked like a statue. Is anything

“I have merely stood here and watched a half million drift through my
fingers,” he said. “Northern Consolidated is dropping like a parachute
that won’t open. But let us go home. I am very glad you came down.”

When they were in the brougham she slipped her hand into his under
cover of the rug. “Are you worried?” she asked.

“No; I don’t know that I am. I can hold on, and when this panic is over
the stock will undoubtedly go up again. I have only a million in it.
But I am sorry for Creighton. About two-thirds of all he’s got are in
this railroad, and I’m afraid he won’t be able to hold on. But let us
drop the subject. The thing has got to rest until to-morrow morning,
and I may as well rest, too. Besides, nothing weighs very heavily when
I am at home. Are we booked for anything to-night?”

“There is Mary Gallatin’s _musicale_. She has Melba and Maurel.
And there is the big dance at the Latimer Burr’s. But if you are tired
I don’t care a rap about either. Augusta can go with Harriet.”

“Do stay home; that’s a good girl. I am tired; and what is worse, a lot
of men will get me into the smoking-room and talk ‘slump.’ If I could
spend the evening lying on the divan in your boudoir, while you read or
played to me, I should feel that life was quite all that it should be.”

“Well, you shall. We have so few good times together in winter.”

He pressed her hand gratefully. “Tell me,” he said after a moment, “do
you think this Socialism mooning of Augusta’s means anything?”

“No,” she said contemptuously. “I hope that has not been worrying you.
Girls must have their fads. Last year it was pink parrots; this year it
is Socialism; next year it will be weddings. By the way, what do you
think of the Duke?”

“I can’t say I’ve thought about him at all.”

“He is really quite charming.”

“Is he? His title is, I suppose you mean. Have you seen him since?”

“Since when? Oh, the night of _Don Giovanni_. I forgot that you
had not been home to tea this week. He has dropped in with Fletcher
several times.”

“Ah! Well, I hope he improves on acquaintance. What does Augusta think
of this magnificent specimen of English manhood?”

“I think she rather likes him. She has seen much more of him than I
have, and says that she finds him extremely interesting.”

“_Good_ God!”

“But he must have something to him, Ned dear, for Augusta is very
_difficile_. I never heard her say that a man was interesting

“And she has been surrounded by healthy well-grown self-respecting
Americans all her life. The infatuation for titles is a germ disease
with Americans, more particularly with New Yorkers. The moment the
microbe strikes the blood, inflammation ensues, and the women that get
it don’t care whether the immediate cause is a man or a remnant. Is his
engagement to Mabel Creighton announced?”

“No; she told Augusta that he had spoken to her but not to her
father--that Mr. Creighton was in such a bad humour about something
she thought it best to wait a while. I suppose it is this Northern
Consolidated business.”

“It certainly is. And if the Dukelet is impecunious, I am afraid Mabel
won’t get him, for there will be nothing to buy him with. Don’t speak
of this, however. Creighton may pull through: the stock may take a
sudden jump, or he may have resources of which I know nothing. I
should be the last to hint that he was in a hole. Don’t talk any more
here; it strains the voice so.”

They were jolting over the rough stones of Fifth Avenue, where speech
rasped and wounded the throat. The long picturesque street of varied
architecture throbbed with the life of a winter’s afternoon. The swarm
of carriages on the white highway looked like huge black beetles with
yellow eyes, multiplying without end. The sidewalks were crowded with
opposing tides; girls of the orchid world, brightly dressed, taking
their brisk constitutional; young men, smartly groomed, promenading
with the ponderous tread of fashion; business men, rushing for the
hotels where they could hear the late gossip of Wall Street; the
rockets of the opera company, splendidly arrayed, and carrying
themselves with a haughty swing which challenged the passing eye; and
the contingent that had come to stare. But snow-clouds had brought
an early dusk, and all were moving homeward. By the time the Forbes
reached their house in the upper part of the Avenue the sidewalks were
almost deserted, and snow stars were whirling.

The halls and dining-room of the Forbes mansion were hung with
tapestries; all the rooms, though home-like, were stately and imposing,
subdued in colour and rich in effect. But if the house had been
designed in the main as a proper setting for a very great lady, one
boudoir and bedroom were the more personal encompassment of a beautiful
and luxurious woman. The walls and windows and doors of the boudoir
were hung with raw silk, opal hued. The furniture was covered with the
same material. On the floor was a white velvet carpet, touched here and
there with pale colour. The opal effect was enhanced by the lamps and
ornaments, which cunningly simulated the gem. In one corner was a small
piano, enamelled white and opalized by the impressionist’s brush.

The pink satin on the walls of the bedroom gleamed through the delicate
mist of lace. A shower of lace half-concealed the low upholstered bed.
The deep carpet was pink, the dressing-table a huge pink and white
butterfly, with furnishings of pink coral inlaid with gold. A small
alcove was walled with a looking-glass. Every four years, when Mr.
Forbes was away at the National Convention, his wife refurnished these
rooms. She was a woman of abounding variety and knew its potence.

Mr. Forbes passed the evening on the divan in the boudoir, while his
wife, attired in a _negligée_ of corn-coloured silk, her warm,
heavy hair unbound, played Chopin with soft, smothered touch for an
hour, then read to him the latest novel. It was one of many evenings,
and when he told her that he was the happiest man alive, she remarked
to herself: “It would be the same. I love him devotedly. Nevertheless,
during these next few weeks he shall not be allowed to forget just how
happy I do make him.”


FLETCHER CUYLER was banging with all his might on the upright
piano in one corner of the parlour of his handsome bachelor apartment.
The door was thrown open and the servant announced in a solemn voice:

“His Grace, the Duke of Bosworth, sir.”

A bald crown and a broad grin appeared for a moment above the top of
the piano.

“Sit down. Make yourself easy while I finish this. It’s a bravura I’m
composing.” And he returned to the keys.

“I wish you’d stop that infernal racket,” said the Duke peevishly.
“It’s enough to tear the nerves out of a man’s body. Besides, I want to
talk to you.”

But Cuyler played out his bravura to the thundering end; then came
leaping down the room, swinging his long legs in the air as if they
were strung on wires.

The Duke was staring into the fire, huddled together. He looked sullen
and miserable.

“Hallo!” cried his host. “What’s up? Anything wrong?”

“Nothing particular. I’ve made an infernal mess of things, that’s all.
I hear on good authority that Creighton has never been worth more than
a million or so at any time, and is losing money; and, without conceit,
I believe I could have had Miss Forbes.”

“Conceit? You’d be a geranium-coloured donkey if you had the remotest
doubt of the fact. She’s fairly lunged at you. I’ve known Augusta
Forbes since she was in long clothes--she was called ‘Honey’ until
she was ten, if you can believe it; but at that age she insisted upon
Augusta or nothing. Well, where was I?--I never knew her to come off
her perch before. She always went in more or less for the intellectual,
and of late has been addling her poor little brain with the problems of
the day. Well, the end is not yet. Have you spoken to Mr. Creighton?”

“No; I barely have the honour of his acquaintance. Upon the rare
occasions when he graces his own table he’s as solemn as a mummy. I’m
willing to admit that I have not yet summoned up courage to ask him for
an interview. He’s polite enough, but he certainly is not encouraging.”

“Oh, all the big men are grumpy just now. The richer they are the more
they have to lose. Well, whichever way it works out, you have my best
wishes. I’d like to see Aire Castle restored.”

“I believe in my heart that’s all I’m in this dirty business for. I
don’t enjoy the sensation of the fortune-hunter. If I have any strong
interest left in life beyond seeing the old place as it should be I am
not conscious of it.”

“Come, come, Bertie, brace up, for God’s sake. Have a brandy and soda.
You’ll be blowing your brains out the first thing I know. Can’t you get
up a little sentiment for Mabel Creighton? She’s a dear little thing.”

“I loved one woman once, and after she had ruined me, she left me for
another man.” He gave a short laugh. “She didn’t have the decency to
offer to support me, although she was making a good £60 a week. I don’t
appear to be as fortunate as some of my brothers. Oh, we are a lovely
lot.” He drank the brandy and soda, and resumed: “I have no love left
in me for any woman. Mabel Creighton is a girl to be tolerated, that
is all; and more so than Miss Forbes. Nevertheless, I wish I had taken
things more slowly and met the latter before I was committed. You may
as well be killed for a sheep as a lamb, and I am afraid I am not going
to get enough with Miss Creighton to make it worth while. If he offered
me two hundred thousand pounds, I don’t believe I’d have the assurance
to refuse.”

The servant entered and thrust out a granitic arm, at the end of which
was a wedgewood tray supporting a note.

“From Mrs. Forbes,” said Cuyler. He read the note. “She wants to see me
at once,” he added. “I wonder what’s up. Well, I must leave you. Go or
stay, just as you like. And good luck to you.”


THE Englishman sat tapping the top of his shoe with his stick
for some moments after Cuyler had left, then rose abruptly, left the
building, and hailing a hansom, drove down town to Mr. Creighton’s
office in the Equitable Building. The elevator shot him up to the fifth
floor, and after losing his way in the vast corridors several times, he
was finally steered to his quarry.

A boy who sat by a table in the private hall-way reading the sporting
extra of an evening newspaper, took in his card. Mr. Creighton saw
him at once. The room into which the Duke was shown was large, simply
furnished, and flooded with light. The walls seemed to be all windows.
The roar of Broadway came faintly up. A telegraph machine in the corner
ticked intermittently, and slipped forth its coils of clean white
ticking, so flimsy and so portentous. From an inner office came the
sound of a type-writer.

Mr. Creighton rose and shook hands with his visitor, then closed the
door leading into the next room and resumed his seat by a big desk
covered with correspondence. He had a smooth-shaven determined face
that had once been very good-looking, but there were bags under the
anxious eyes, and his cheeks were haggard and lined.

“He is a man of few words--probably because his wife is a woman of so
many,” thought the Duke. “I suppose I shall have to begin.”

He was not a man of many words himself.

“I have come down here,” he said, “because it seems impossible to find
you at your house, and it is necessary that I should speak to you on a
matter that concerns us both. I came to America to ask your daughter to
marry me.”

“Have you done so?”

“I have.”

“Has she accepted you?”

“Of course she wishes to refer the matter to you.”

“She wishes to marry you?”

“I think she does.”

Mr. Creighton sighed heavily. He wheeled about and looked through the

“I wish she could,” he said,--“if she loves you. I don’t know you. I
haven’t had time to think about you. I should prefer that she married
an American, myself, but I should never have crossed her so long as
she chose a gentleman and a man of honour. I know nothing of your
record. Were the marriage possible, I should enquire into it. But I
am afraid that it is not. I am well aware--pardon my abruptness--that
no Englishman of your rank comes to America for a wife if his income
is sufficient to enable him to marry in his own country.” He paused
a moment. Then he resumed. The effort was apparent. “I must ask your
confidence for a time--but it is necessary to tell you that I am
seriously involved; in short, if things don’t mend, and quickly, I
shall go to pieces.”

The Duke was sitting forward, staring at the carpet, his chin pressed
hard upon the head of his stick. “I am sorry,” he said, “very sorry.”

“So am I. Mabel has two hundred thousand dollars of her own. I have as
much more, something over, in land that is as yet unmortgaged; but
that is not the amount you came for.”

The Duke of Bosworth was traversing the most uncomfortable moments of
his life. He opened his mouth twice to speak before he could frame a
reply that should not insult his host and show himself the exponent of
a type for which he suddenly experienced a profound disgust.

“Aire Castle,” he said finally, “is half a ruin. All the land I have
inherited which is not entailed is mortgaged to the hilt. I may add
that I also inherited about half of the mortgages. My income is a
pittance. It would cost two hundred thousand pounds to repair the
castle--and until it is repaired, I have no home to offer a wife. In
common justice to a woman, I must look out that she brings money with
her. That is my position. It is a nasty one. It is good of you not to
call me a fortune-hunter and order me out.”

“Well, well, at least you have not intimated that you are conferring an
inestimable honour in asking me to regild your coronet. I appreciate
your position, it is ugly. So is mine. Thank you for being frank.”

The Englishman rose. He held out his hand. “I hope you’ll come out all
right,” he said, with a sudden and rare burst of warmth. “I do indeed.
Good luck to you.”

Mr. Creighton shook his hand heartily. “Thank you. I won’t. But I’m
glad you feel that way.”

He went with his guest to the outer door. The boy had disappeared. Mr.
Creighton opened the door. The Duke was about to pass out. He turned
back, hesitated a moment. “I shall go up and see your daughter at
once,” he said. “Have I your permission to tell her what--what--you
have told me?”

“Yes,” said Mr. Creighton. “She must know sooner or later.”


THE Duke did not call a hansom when he reached the street. The
interview to come was several times more trying to face than the last
had been; he preferred to walk the miles between the Equitable Building
and Murray Hill.

He reached the house in an hour. Miss Creighton was in the library
reading a novel by the fire, and looked up brightly as he entered.

“You are a very bad man,” she said, “I have waited in for you all day,
and it is now half-past four. I am reading Kenilworth. The love scenes
are too funny for words. Amy hangs upon Leicester’s neck and exclaims
‘My noble earl!’ Fancy if I called you ‘My noble duke.’ How perfectly

The Duke took his stand on the hearth-rug--man’s immemorial citadel of
defence--and tapped his chin with his hat, regarding Mabel stolidly
with his fishy pale-blue gaze. He was cross and uncomfortable and hated
himself, but his face expressed nothing.

“I have seen your father,” he said.

“Oh--have you? What--what did he say?”

“When I asked you to marry me I explained how I was situated.”

“I know--won’t papa?--He’s very generous.”

“He can’t. He is very seriously embarrassed.”

The girl’s breath shortened painfully. She turned very white.
Unconsciously she twisted her hands together.

“Then we cannot marry?”

“How can we? Do you want to spend your life hounded by lawyers,
money-lenders, and financial syndicates, and unable to keep up your
position? You would die of misery, poor child. I am not a man to make a
woman happy on three hundred thousand pounds a year. Poor! It would be

She did not look up, but sat twirling her rings.

“You know best,” she said, “I don’t know the conditions of life in
England. If you say that we should be miserable, you must know. I
suppose you did not love me very much.”

“Not much, Mabel. I have only the skeleton of a heart in me. I wonder
it does duty at all. You are well rid of me.”

“You certainly did not make any very violent protestations. I cannot
accuse you of hypocrisy.”

“One thing--I was not half good enough for you. As far as I can
remember this is the first time I have ever humbled myself. You are a
jolly little thing and deserve better luck.”

She made no reply.

“I shall cross almost immediately--shall give it out that you have
refused me.”

“You need not. I have told no one but Augusta. People will think
that we are merely good friends. We will treat each other in a frank
off-hand manner when we meet out.”

“You are a game little thing! You’d make a good wife, a good fellow to
chum with. I wish it could have come round our way.”

He was quick of instinct, and divined that she wanted to be alone.

“_Au revoir_,” he said. “We meet to-night at dinner, somewhere,
don’t we?”

“At the Burr’s.” She rose and held out her hand. She was very pale,
but quite composed, and her flower-like face had the dignity which
self-respect so swiftly conceives and delivers. He had never been so
near to loving her. She had bored him a good deal during the past
weeks, but he suddenly saw possibilities in her. They were not great,
but they would have meant something to him. He wanted to kiss her, but
raised her hand to his lips instead, and went out.

Mabel waited until she heard the front door close, then ran up to her
room and locked herself in.

“I mustn’t cry,” was her only thought for the moment.

“I mustn’t--mustn’t! My eyes are always swollen for four hours and my
nose gets such a funny pink. I remember Augusta once quoted some poetry
about it. I forget it.”

She looked at the divan. It exerted a powerful magnetism. She saw
herself lying face downward, sobbing. She caught hold of a chair to
hold herself back. “I can’t!” she thought. “I can’t! I must brace up
for that dinner. The girls must never know. Oh! I wish I were dead! I
wish I were dead!”

“I wish I were dead!” She said it aloud several times, thinking it
might lighten the weight in her breast. But it did not. She looked at
the clock and shuddered. “It is only five. What am I to do until Lena
comes to dress me? She won’t come until half-past six. I can’t go to
mamma; she would drive me distracted. Oh! I think I am going mad--but I
_won’t_ make a fool of myself.”

She walked up and down the room, clenching her hands until the nails
bit the soft palms. “I read somewhere,” she continued aloud, “that
the clever people suffered most, that their nerves are more developed
or something. I wonder what that must be like. Poor things! I am not
clever, and I feel as if I’d dig my grave with my own fingers if I
could get into it. Oh! Am I going to cry? I won’t. I’ll think about
something that will make me angry. Augusta. She’ll get him now. She’s
wanted him from the first. I’ve seen it. She was honourable enough not
to regularly try to cut me out, but there’s nothing in the way now. And
she will. I know she will. I hate her. I hate her. Oh, God! _What_
shall I do?”

She heard the front door open; a moment later her father ascend the
stair and enter his room. She ran across the hall, opened his door
without ceremony and caught him about the neck, but still without tears.

He set his lips and held her close. Then he kissed and fondled her
as he had not done for years. “Poor little girl,” he said. “I am a
terrible failure. God knows I should have been glad to have bought your
happiness for you. As it is, I am afraid I have ruined it.”

She noticed for the first time how worn and old he looked. Her
development had been rapid during the last hour. She passed on to a new
phase. “Poor papa,” she said, putting her hands about his face. “It
must be awful for you, and you have never told us. Listen. _He_
said I would make a plucky wife, a good fellow. I’ll take care of you
and brace you up. I’ll be everything to you, papa; indeed I will. Papa,
you are not crying! Don’t! I have to go out to dinner to-night! Listen.
I don’t care much. Indeed I don’t. I’m sure I often wondered why he
attracted me so much when I thought him over. Alex says that if he were
an American she wouldn’t take the trouble to reform him--that he isn’t
worth it. And Hal says he looks like a dough pudding, half baked. It’s
dreadful that we can’t control our feelings better--Papa, give me every
spare moment you can, won’t you? I can’t stand the thought of the

“Yes,” he said, “every minute; and as soon as I can we’ll go off
somewhere together. It would be a great holiday for me. It is terrible
for me to see you suffer, but I am selfish enough to be glad that I
shall not lose you. Stay with me awhile. This will pass. You can’t
believe that now, but it will; and the next time you love, the man will
be more worthy of you. I don’t want to hurt you, my darling, but for
the life of me, I can’t think what you see in him.”


THAT evening, shortly after Miss Forbes had been dressed for
Mrs. Burr’s dinner, her mother entered and dismissed the maid.

“What is it, mamma?” Augusta demanded in some surprise. “How odd you
look. Not as pretty as usual.”

Mrs. Forbes’ lips had withdrawn from their pout; her whole face had
lost its sensuousness and seemed to have settled into rigid lines. She
went over to the fire and lifted one foot to the fender, then turned
and looked at her daughter.

“Do you wish to marry the Duke of Bosworth?” she asked abruptly.

A wave of red rose slowly to Augusta’s hair. Her lips parted. “What do
you mean?” she enquired after a moment. Her voice was a little thick.
“He is engaged to Mabel.”

“He cannot marry Mabel. Mr. Creighton is on the verge of ruin.”

Miss Forbes gasped. “Oh, how dreadful!” she exclaimed, but something
seemed to suffuse her brain with light.

“You can marry him if you wish.”

“But Mabel is my most intimate friend. It would be like outbidding her.
She has the two hundred thousand dollars that her grandmother left her,
and her father could surely give her as much more.”

“What would four hundred thousand dollars be to a ruined Duke, up to
his ears in debt? He wants millions.”

“But papa does not like him.”

“Leave your father to me, and be guided entirely by me in this matter.
I have a plan mapped out if he will not give his consent at once. Do
you wish to marry this man?”

Miss Forbes drew a hard breath. “I want to marry him more than anything
in the world,” she said.


ABOUT the same time, as the Duke of Bosworth was dressing for
dinner in his rooms at The Waldorf, he received the following note:--

  “DUKY, DUKY, DADDLEDUMS!--I have great news for you. Rush
  your engagements, and come here between twelve and one to-night.

                                             F. C.”

As the young Englishman entered Cuyler’s rooms a little after midnight,
he received such warmth of greeting from a powerful hand concealed
behind the _portière_ that his backbone doubled.

“For God’s sake, Fletcher,” he said crossly, “remember that I am not a
Hercules. What do you want of me?”

“Sit down. Sit down. I’ll put you in a good humour if I have to break a
bank. I’ve pledged it to my peace of mind. Well, first--Creighton has
practically gone to smash.”

“I know it. He told me so this afternoon. Poor man, I felt sorry for
him; and I think he did for me, although his respect may have been
something less than his pity. I know I felt uncommonly cheap, and if he
had kicked me out I doubt if I should have resented it. He said that
what with his daughter’s fortune and some land investments, he might
scrape together a hundred thousand pounds. I told him it wouldn’t pay
my debts. Then I had an interview with her. Don’t ask me to repeat it.
Good God, what have we come to? Drop the subject.”

“I haven’t begun yet. My conscience wouldn’t rest, however, unless I
paused to remark that I am deuced sorry for the Creightons. They are
the best sort, and I hate to see them go under. Well, to proceed. You
can have Miss Forbes.”

The nobleman’s dull eyes opened. “What do you mean?”

“I had an interview of a purely diplomatic nature with _la belle
mère_ after I left you. She is willing. Miss Forbes is willing.
Nay, willing is not the word. I named your price--the modest sum of
$5,000,000. She said you should have it.”

“But Mr. Forbes despises me. By Heaven, I have more respect for that
man than for anybody I have met in America. Every time I meet those
steel eyes of his I seem to read: ‘You poor, miserable, little wretch
of a fortune-hunter! Go home and blow out your brains, but don’t
disgrace your name by bartering it for our screaming eagles.’ He’ll
never consent.”

“My boy, you need a B. and S. Do brace up.” Fletcher wagged his head
pathetically. “You’ll have me crying in a minute. I’ve been on the
verge of tears for the last three weeks. Now let me tell you that you
are all right. There may be a tussle, but Forbes is bound to cave in
the end. He is infatuated with his wife and she knows her power. She
is as set on this match as you could be. She’s had the bee in her
bonnet for a good many years, to cut as great a dash in London as she
does in New York. Of course she’s in it in a way when she’s over there
for a month or two during the season, but she wants a long sight more
than that. Her ancestry does her no good because the English trunk
of the family died out two hundred years ago. As your mother-in-law
she’d be out of sight. A woman with her beauty and brain and style
and charm could bring any society in the world to her feet, and keep
it there once she had those feet planted beyond the door-mat. Now she
is patronised pleasantly as one of many pretty American women who flit
back and forth. You’ve got a powerful ally, and one that’s bound to
win. Now pull up that long face or I’ll hold you under the cold water

“I believe you have put new life into me,” said his Grace, the Duke of


AUGUSTA was moving restlessly about her boudoir. Her mind was
uneasy and a trifle harrowed. For the first time in her life she was
not thoroughly satisfied with herself. Once she sat down and opened
“Progress and Poverty”; but George had ceased to charm, and she resumed
her restless marching. Her boudoir was a scarlet confusion of silk and
crêpe, and conducive to cheerfulness. Although it extinguished her drab
colouring, Augusta usually felt her best in its glow and warmth; but
to-day she felt her worst.

Suddenly she paused. There was a sound of rapid ascent of stair and
familiar voices. She opened her door, and a moment later Mrs. Burr
and Miss Maitland entered. Both looked unusually grave, and slightly
pugnacious. Augusta experienced a disagreeable sensation in her knees.

“Has anything happened?” she asked, after she had greeted them and they
were seated.

“Augusta!” said Miss Maitland sternly, “we are perhaps meddling in
what is none of our affair; nevertheless, we have made up our minds to


“Are you trying to get the Duke of Bosworth away from Mabel Creighton?”

“I am not.”

“It looks like it.”

“Does it?”

“You are keeping something back, Augusta,” said Mrs. Burr. “Out with

Miss Forbes recovered herself. “I am going to marry the Duke of
Bosworth,” she said distinctly.

“Augusta Forbes!”

“Yes; and I have not cut out Mabel Creighton. I am perfectly willing
to justify myself to you, as we have always kept to our compact to
stand the truth from each other. He came over here to marry Mabel, but
Mr. Creighton could not give him the portion--dot--you know. He is
dreadfully embarrassed, _but that is a dead secret_.”

“And you have out-bid her?”

“I have done nothing of the sort. The thing was quite settled before
the Duke spoke to me.”

“He didn’t lose much time. He must have been pretty sure how he would
be received before he wound up with Mabel.”

“I did not discuss that part of it with him.”

“It’s too bad you didn’t discuss less. Poor Mabel is a wreck. The way
she is trying to keep up is positively pathetic.”

“Well, my not marrying him would not help her.”

“Augusta, you are wood all through.”

The young matron threw herself back in her chair, and beat her knuckles
sharply with her lorgnette. Miss Maitland, who had not spoken for some
moments, now unburdened herself.

“I have a good deal to say, Augusta, and I am going to say it. You know
we all agreed before we came out that we would regard certain matters
in a different light from that of most fashionable girls; we agreed,
among other things, that, while enjoying all that our wealth and
position offered us, we would read, and think, and endeavour to be of
some use in the world--not write polemical novels, or belong to clubs,
or anything of that sort, but take the very best advantages of the
accident of our birth. And we also agreed--do you remember?--that we
would cultivate higher ideals than most women care for--particularly
in our relations to each other and to men. It is three years since that
subject was discussed; but you remember it, I suppose.”

“I do, and I have not broken it.”

“Very well, I shall say no more about that particular phase of the
matter; that is for you to settle with your own conscience, and with
Mabel. This is what we are chiefly concerned with: there are several
ways by which our example can benefit society, and the chief of them is
to stop marrying impecunious foreign nobles!”

She paused a moment. Augusta stiffened up, but made no reply. Miss
Maitland resumed:

“As long as we continue to jump at titles whenever they come
gold-hunting and Jew-flying, just so long shall we--the upper class
of the United States, which should be its best--be contemptible in
the eyes of the world. Just so long shall we be sneered at in the
newspapers, lampooned in novels, excoriated by serious outsiders, and
occupy an entirely false place in contemporary history. We are so
conspicuous, that everything we do is tittle-tattled in the Press--we
are such a god-send to them that it is a thousand pities we don’t give
them something worth writing about. Now, my idea is this: that all
we New York girls band together and vow not to marry any foreigner
of title, English or otherwise, unless he can cap our prospective
inheritance by twice the amount--which is equivalent to vowing that we
will go untitled to our graves. Also, that such girls as we fail to
convert from this nonsensical snobbery, and who insist upon marrying
titles whenever they can get them, will see none of us at their

“Now this is the point: That would not only express to the whole world
our contempt for the alliance of the fortune-hunter and the snob, but
it would raise the self-esteem of our own men, and be one step toward
making them better than they are. You couldn’t convince one of them
that we are not all watching the foreign horizon with spy-glasses,
waiting to make a break for the first title that appears, and that they
have not got to be content with the leavings. But if they saw that we
really desired to marry Americans, and, above all, men that we could
love and respect, I believe they would make an effort to be worthy of
us. That would certainly be one great step gained. The next thing for
us to do is to be able to love hard enough to awaken the right kind of
love in men.”

“Well?” asked Augusta.

Miss Maitland’s cheeks were flushed. She looked almost beautiful.
Augusta felt that she looked pasty, but did not care. She was angry,
but determined to control herself.

“You have a great opportunity. Dismiss the Duke of Bosworth, and avow
openly that you will only marry an American--that the American at his
best is your ideal. How it can be otherwise, as the daughter of your
father, passes my comprehension. Will you?”

“Bravo, Alexis!” said Mrs. Burr. “We’ll have to find a man who’s
hunting for an ideal woman. And you didn’t mention Socialism once.”

“That belongs to the future. I have come to the conclusion that we must
build the house before we can fresco the walls.”

Augusta had risen, and was walking up and down the room. At the end of
three or four minutes she paused and faced her visitors, looking down
upon them with her habitual calm, slightly accentuated.

“A month ago I should have agreed with you,” she said. “Your ideas,
Alex, are always splendid, and, usually, no one is more willing to
adopt them than I. But theories sometimes collide with facts. I am
going to marry the Duke of Bosworth.”

They rose.

“I hope you’ll scratch each other’s eyes out!” said Mrs. Burr.

“You married for money,” retorted Augusta.

“I did, and my reasons were good ones, as you know. Moreover, I married
a man, and an American. If I hadn’t liked him, and if he’d looked as
if he’d been boiled for soup, I wouldn’t have looked at him if he’d
owned Colorado. Latimer’s wings are not sprouting, and he doesn’t take
kindly to the idea of being reformed, but I don’t regret having married
him--not for a minute. You will. Maybe you won’t though.”

Miss Maitland had fastened her coat. She gave her muff a little shake.

“Good-bye, Augusta,” she said icily. “It is too bad that you inherited
nothing from your father but his iron will.”

And without shaking hands they went out.


BUT although Augusta had maintained an attitude of stiff
defiance, she was by no means pleased with herself. She rang for her
maid, dressed for the street, and a few moments later was on her way
to Murray Hill. When she reached the Creighton’s she went directly
up to Mabel’s room, and, after a hasty tap, entered. Mabel was lying
full-length on the divan among her rainbow pillows, a silver bottle of
smelling-salts at her nose.

She rose at once.

“I have a headache,” she said coldly. “Sit down.”

“Mabel!” said Augusta precipitately, “should you think me dishonourable
if I married the Duke of Bosworth?”

“If I did would it make any difference?”

“No; but I’d rather you didn’t.”

Mabel turned her head away and looked into the logs burning on the

“Until you yourself told me that it was over,” pursued Augusta, “I gave
him no sort of encouragement; but as you cannot marry him yourself, I
don’t see why I shouldn’t.”

“No; I suppose there is no reason why you shouldn’t. Only it is
something I couldn’t do myself.”

“You don’t know whether you could or not. Nobody knows what abstract
sentiments he’ll sacrifice when he wants a thing badly. If somebody
suddenly died and left you a fortune, wouldn’t you take him from me if
you could?”

“Yes, I would.”

“Well, that would be much more dishonourable than anything I have

“I suppose so. I don’t care. I don’t call that kind of thing honour. I
wouldn’t have done it in the first place.”

“I fail to see any distinction, Mabel. You never had any reasoning
faculty. I am much more suited to the Duke, anyhow, for he is really

“It isn’t cleverness he’s after.”

“Oh, of course he must have money. One is used to that. It’s like
knowing that lots of people come to your house because you give good
dinners; but you don’t like them any the less; in fact, don’t think
about it. We have to take the world as we find it. If you regard the
Duke as a fortune-hunter I wonder you can still love him.”

Mabel turned her head and regarded Miss Forbes with a haughty stare.
“I do not love him,” she said, “I despise him too thoroughly. It is my
pride only that is irritated. Don’t let there be any doubt on that

“Well, I am delighted--relieved! It has worried me, made me genuinely
unhappy; it has indeed, Mabel dear. I will admit that I had misgivings,
that I was not altogether satisfied with myself; but now I can be as
happy as ever again. And you don’t think it dishonourable? Please say

“No, I don’t think it dishonourable; (for we are no longer friends),”
she added to herself; but she was too generous to say it aloud.

Augusta went away a few minutes later, and Mabel, who was not going out
that evening, flung herself on the divan, and sobbed into her cushions.


SEVERAL evenings later, a banquet was given to a party of
Russian notables. As no young people were invited, Augusta, chaperoned
by her father’s sister, Mrs. Van Rhuys, arranged a theatre party, which
included the English Duke.

As Mrs. Forbes stood between her mirrors that evening, she wondered if
she had ever looked more lovely. She wore a gown of ivory white satin,
so thick that it creaked, and entirely without trimming, save for the
lace on the bust. But about the waist, one end hanging almost to the
hem of the gown was a ribbon of large pigeon-blood rubies. A collar
of the same gems lay at the base of her long round throat. Above her
brow blazed a great star, the points set with diamonds, radiating from
a massive ruby. A smaller star clasped the lace at her breast. The
bracelets on her arms, the rings on her fingers, sparkled pink and

Her lips parted slightly. She thrilled with triumph, intoxicated
with her beauty and magnificence. For this woman could never become
_blasé_, never cease to be vital, until the shroud claimed her.

Nevertheless, she felt unaccountably nervous. She had felt so all day.

“I am quite well, am I not, mammy?” she said to an old negro woman who
sat regarding her with rapt admiration. The negress had been Virginia’s
nurse and personal attendant for thirty-nine years. Only the ocean--for
which she had an unsurmountable horror--had separated them. In Augusta
she had never taken the slightest interest, but over her idolized
mistress she exercised an austere vigilance. And as she was a good
old-fashioned doctor, and understood Mrs. Forbes’ constitution as had
it been a diagram of straight lines, she was always on the alert to
checkmate nature, and rarely unsuccessful.

“You sut’n’y is, honey,” she replied. “You never was pearter. No wonder
you git ’cited sometimes with all dose purty things that cos’ such
heaps and heaps o’ money. Yo’ uster go wild over yore toys, and you
al’ays will be de same.”

It was not yet eight and Mrs. Forbes seated herself lightly on the old
woman’s knee. At that moment Augusta entered the room.

“Mother!” she exclaimed in a disgusted voice. “Do get up. I declare you
are nothing but a big overgrown baby. If it isn’t papa it’s mammy, and
if it isn’t mammy it’s papa.”

“I suppose you can get through life without coddling,” replied her
mother, undisturbed; “but I can’t. You look remarkably well this

“Thanks.” Miss Forbes regarded herself complacently in the mirror. She
wore black and pink and there was colour in her face. “I’m no beauty,
but I think I do look rather well, and this frock is certainly a
stunning fit. You are a vision as usual. There is the carriage.”

Mrs. Forbes rose and the maid enveloped her in a long mantle of white
velvet lined with ermine. The old negress adjusted the inner flap over
the chest and wrapped a lace scarf about the softly-dressed hair.

“You is a leetle nervous, honey,” she said. “Has anything put yo’ out?
Don’t you tetch one bit o’ sweets to-night and not a drap o’ coffee.”

“I’ll have it out when we come home, and get it over,” thought Mrs.
Forbes as she went down the stair and smiled to her husband, who
awaited her in the hall below. “That is what is making me so nervous.”

Mr. Forbes, like many New York millionaires, had spread his house
over all the land he could buy in one spot on The Avenue, and there
was no _porte cochère_. When his wife was obliged to go out in
stormy weather an awning was erected between the front doors and the
curb-stone. To-night it was snowing heavily. As she appeared on the
stair two men-servants opened the doors and flung a carpet from the
threshold to the carriage-step. If Virginia Forbes had ever wet her
boots or slippers she could not recall the occasion.

She was the sensation of the dinner and of the reception afterward.
The foreigners stood about her in a rivetted cluster, and with the
extravagance of their kind assured her that there was no woman in
Europe at once so beautiful and so clever. She took their flatteries
for what they were worth; they could have salaamed before her without
turning her head; but she revelled in the adulation, nevertheless.

Mr. Forbes had two important letters to write when they returned home,
and she went with him to the library. As he took the chair before his
desk she got him a fresh pen, then poured him some whisky from the
decanter. She was as fresh as when she had left the house, and he
looked at her with passionate admiration.

“I should like to be able to tell you how proud I was of you to-night,”
he said. “Sometimes I believe that you are really the most splendid
creature on earth.”

“That is what those princelings were telling me,” she said, rumpling
his hair. “But you flatter me much more, for I may suspect that you
mean it.”

“Well, sit where I can’t see you or I sha’n’t do much writing. Don’t
go, though.”

She took an easy chair by the fire, but although she lay in its depths
and put her little feet on a low pouf, she drew the long rope of jewels
nervously through her fingers. Once or twice her breath came short, and
then she clasped the rubies so closely that the setting dented her skin.

“I must, must brace up,” she thought. “Unless I am at my best I shall
be no match for him, and I must win in the first round or it will be a
long hard fight that I may not be equal to. Besides, I should hate it.”

She was glad to have the interview in the library, her husband’s
favourite room. It was a long narrow room, lined to the ceiling with
the books of seven generations: Mr. Forbes came of a line of men that
had been noted for mental activity in one wise or another since England
had civilized America. There were busts and bas-reliefs of great men,
and many pieces of old carved furniture. The curtains, carpet, and easy
chairs were lit with red, and very luxurious. The mantel was of black
onyx. Above it was a portrait of Mrs. Forbes by Sargeant. The great
artist protested that he had interpreted “the very sky and sea-line of
her soul.” Certain it is that he had chosen to see only that which was
noble and alluring. Imperious pride was in the poise of the head, the
curve of the short upper lip; but it was the unself-conscious pride of
race and the _autorité_ of a lovely woman which all men delighted
to foster. The eyes, sensuous, tender, expectant, were the eyes of a
woman who had loved one man only, and that man with fond reiteration.
The lower lip was full, the mouth slightly parted. The brow was so
clear that it seemed to shed radiance. It uplifted the face, as if the
soul dwelt there, at home with the vigorous brain.

Some thin white stuff was folded closely over the small low bust. A
string of large pearls was wound in and out of the heavy hair, whose
living warmth the artist had not failed to transfer. Indeed, warmth,
life, passion, soul, intelligence seemed to emanate from this wonderful
portrait, so combined by the limner as to convey an impression of
modern womanhood perfected, satisfied, triumphant, to which the world
could give no more, and from which the passing years would hesitate to
steal aught. Sometimes Virginia Forbes stood and regarded it sadly. “It
is an ideal me,” she would think, “all that I should like to be--that
I might--were it not for this trowelful of clay in my soul.” Although
Mr. Forbes was too keen a student of human nature to be ignorant of his
wife’s faults, his faith was so strong in the large full side of her
nature that he had long since felt justified in closing his eyes to
all that fell below the ideal.

He wrote for an hour, then threw the pen down, rose, and ran his
fingers through his hair.

“Thank heaven that is over. I can sleep in peace. How good of you to
wait for me. Are you very tired?”

“No,” she said, and unconsciously her lips lost their fulness, and she
clutched the stones so tightly that they bruised her flesh. “Will you
sit down, Ned, dear? I want to talk to you.”

“Is anything the matter?” he asked anxiously. “You’ve lost your colour
since you came in. I am afraid you go too hard. New York is a killing
place. Shall we go to Asheville for a week or two?”

“I never felt better. Sit down--there--where I can see you; and light a
cigar. I am going to speak of something very important. You won’t like
what I say--at first; but I am sure you will when I have finished.”

He sat down, much puzzled. “I don’t want to smoke, and I’m afraid
something has gone wrong with you. Have you been investing and lost?
You know that I never ask what you do with your money, and if you are
short all you have to do is to ask for more.”

“You know that I never would invest money without your advice; and I
have scarcely touched this year’s income. It is about Augusta.”

Mr. Forbes raised his brows. “Augusta? She doesn’t want to take to the
public platform, I hope.”

“She is in love.”

“What? Our calm, superior--with whom, for heaven’s sake?”

“With the Duke of Bosworth.”

Mr. Forbes sat forward in his chair, pressing his hands upon its arms.
The blood rose slowly and covered his face. “The Duke of Bosworth!” he
ejaculated. “Do you mean to tell me that our daughter, and a girl who
is American to her finger-tips, has had her head turned by a title?”

“It is not the title, Ned; it is the man----”

“Impossible! The man? Why, he’s not a man. He’s--but I don’t choose to
express to you or to any woman what I think of him. I never set up to
be a saint; I went the pace with other men before I married you; but
in my opinion the best thing that remnants like Bosworth can do is to
get into the family vault as quickly as possible and leave no second
edition behind them. He’ll leave none of my blood.”

“You misjudge him, dear; I am sure you do. I have talked much with him.
He is very intelligent, and, I think, would be glad to live his life
over. It is his delicate physique that gives him the appearance of a

“Excuse me. I have seen men of delicate physique all my life. I am also
a man of the world. Sooner than have that puny demoralised creature
the father of my grandchildren, I should gladly see Augusta spend her
life alone--happy as we have been. I cannot understand it. She must be
hypnotised. And you, Virginia! I am ashamed of you. I cannot believe
that you have encouraged her. You, the cleverest and most sensible
woman I have ever known! Do you wish to see your daughter the wife of
that man?”

“I should not if she were like some girls. But she has little sentiment
and ideality. She is a strong masculine character, just the type to
give new life and stamina to the decaying houses of the old world.
She is not as clever as she thinks, but at thirty she will know her
limitations and be a very level-headed well-balanced woman. She will
shed no tears over the Duke’s defections, and you know what Darwin says
about the children of strong mothers and dissipated eldest sons. I am
sure that Augusta’s children will not disgrace you.”

“What you say sounds well: I never yet knew you to fail to make out a
good case when driven to a corner; but this miserable man’s children
will not be my grandchildren.”

“Ned, you are so prejudiced. You are such a rampant American.”

“I am, I hope. And you know perfectly well that I am not prejudiced.
I know many members of the British peerage for whom I have hearty
liking and respect. Some of the best brains the world has ever known
have belonged to the English aristocracy. But this whelp--if he were
the son of as good an American as I am do you think it would make
any difference? And if he were worthy of his blood he could have my
daughter and welcome.”

Mrs. Forbes had controlled herself inflexibly, but she was conscious
of increasing excitement. Her eyes looked as hard and brilliant as the
jewels upon her. Her hands trembled as she played with her rope of
rubies. She recognised that he was conclusive; that it would be worse
than folly to resort to endearment and cajolery, even could she bring
herself to the mood. But before such uncompromising opposition her
ambition cemented and controlled her, was near to torching reason and
judgment. She would not trust herself to speak for a moment, but looked
fixedly at her husband.

“I thought this little fortune-hunter was engaged to Mabel Creighton,”
he said abruptly.

“That was all a mistake----”

“He found out that Creighton was in a hole, I suppose. Virginia!--it
is not possible?--you did not tell him?--you have not been scheming to
bring about this damnable transaction?”

“Of course I did not tell him. I wish you wouldn’t screw up your eyes
like that at me. I saw before he had been here a week that he had
fallen in love with Augusta----”

“Love be damned! Do you imagine a man like that loves?”

“Well, liked then. Of course he cannot afford to marry without

“And I am expected to buy him, I suppose?”

“Don’t be so coarse! Now listen to me, Ned. _I_ want this
match. Of course I should not move in the matter if I did not respect
the Duke, and if Augusta didn’t love him as much as she is capable
of loving. But I want this English alliance--and there may never be
another opportunity. I will state the fact plainly--it would give me
the greatest possible satisfaction to know that my position was as
assured in England as it is in America----”

“Good God! What is the matter with you American women? If you sat down
and worked it out, could you tell why you are all so mad about the
English nobility? Or wouldn’t you blush if you could? As I said the
other day it is a germ disease--a species of brain-poisoning. It eats
and rots. It demoralises like morphine and alcohol. After a woman has
once let herself go, she is good for nothing else for the rest of her
life. She eats, drinks, sleeps, thinks English aristocracy. Even you,
if I gave you your head, would find it in you to become a veritable
coronet-chaser--you!--my God! Well, it won’t be in my time; and if
Augusta runs off with this debased dishonoured little wretch she’ll
not get one cent of mine. And there will be no breaking of wills; I’ll
dispose of my fortune before I die. I shall take good care to let him
know this at once, for I make no doubt he’s desperate----”

Mrs. Forbes sprang to her feet. “You never spoke so to me before,” she
cried furiously. “I do not believe you love me. So long as I spend
my life studying your wishes--and I have studied them for twenty-two
years--you are amiable and charming enough; but now that your wife and
daughter want something that you don’t wish to give them, that doesn’t
happen to suit your fancy, you turn upon me in your true character of
a tyrant----”

“Virginia! hush!” said Mr. Forbes sternly. “I have done nothing of the
sort. You are talking like a petulant child. Come here and tell me that
you will think no more of this wretched business----”

He went forward, but she moved rapidly aside.

“Don’t touch me,” she said. “I am not in the mood to be touched. And I
shall never be happy again if you refuse your consent to this marriage.”

“Never be what? Has our happiness rested on so uncertain a foundation
as that? I thought that you loved me.”

“Oh, I do. Of course I do. But can’t you understand that love isn’t
everything to a woman?--any more than it is to a man? I would be
married to no other man on earth, not to a prince of the blood. But it
is not everything to me any more than it is everything to you. Suppose
you were suddenly stripped of your tremendous political influence,
of your financial power, and reduced to the mere domestic and social
round? Would I suffice? Not unless you were eighty and in need of a

She had drawn herself up to her full commanding height. Her head was
thrown back, her nostrils were distended, her lips were a scarlet
undulating line. There was no other colour in her face. It looked as
opaque, as hard as ivory. The eyes were merciless; even their brown
had lost its warmth. The jewels with which she was hung, which glowed
with deep rubescent fire on her robe and neck and brow, gave her the
appearance of an idol--an idol which had suddenly been informed with
the spirit of pitiless ambition and spurned its creator.

Mr. Forbes had turned very grey. His nostrils and lips contracted. His
teeth set. Involuntarily he glanced from the woman to the portrait. The
portrait was more alive than the woman.

“Don’t you understand?” she demanded.

“No,” he said, “I don’t think I do. At least I hope I do not. At all
events, I hope we may not discuss this subject again. I did not tell
you that I intend to pull Creighton through. I cannot see an old friend
go under. It will be to the Duke’s interest to push his suit in that
quarter--if they want him. Now, please go to your room. You are very
much excited. If you were not I hardly think you would have spoken as
you have.”

He went to the end of the room and opened the door. She passed him
quickly with averted head.


ONCE more father and daughter faced each other across the
breakfast table. This time, Augusta, with a very red face, stared
defiantly into bitter and contemptuous eyes.

“And your socialism? Do you expect to convert your Duke?”

“No, papa; of course not.”

“It is exactly five weeks since you informed me that you wished me to
devote my fortune to the dear people.”

“I know it, papa. One looks at things very differently when one looks
at them through a man’s eyes, as it were--I mean through the eyes of
the man one has fallen in love with; of course I always have had the
highest respect for your opinion. Now, it seems to me a grand thing to
restore the fortunes of an ancient and illustrious house----”

“That is the reason the good God permitted me to be born, I suppose--to
sacrifice some ten or fifteen years of man’s allotted span in
accumulating millions with which to prop up a rotten aristocracy.”

“Papa! I never knew you to be so bitter. You are quite unlike yourself
this morning. Of course, we don’t all look at things in the same way in
this world. But I don’t wish you to think that I have entirely forsaken
my old principles. I should do much good with my money in England. The
poverty is said to be frightful there; and I hear that the working-men
on the great estates only get a pound a week, and sometimes less. I
should pay those on our estates more, my self.”

“It doesn’t occur to you, I suppose, that American-made millions
should be spent in America, and that we have poverty enough of our own.”

“Our poor are mostly Europeans,” she retorted quickly.

He gave a brief laugh. “You have me there. Well; go on. You intend to
reform this poor little trembling sore-eyed weak-kneed, debauchee----”

“Father! I will not permit you to speak in that way of the Duke of

She had sprung from her chair. Like all phlegmatic natures, when the
depths were stirred she was violent and ugly. She looked as if about to
leap upon her parent and beat him.

He rose also and looked down on her. “You will not do what?” he said
with a cutting contempt. “Go upstairs to your room, and stay there
until I give you permission to leave it. And understand here, once for
all, that not one dollar of mine will ever go into that man’s pocket.
If he marries you, he will have to support you, or you him: I shall not
take the trouble to enquire which.”


MR. FORBES was obliged to go that morning to Boston, to remain
until the following evening. He did not see his wife before he
left--had not seen her since the interview in the library. She had
locked herself in her room, and he was not the man to hammer on a
sulking woman’s door.

Several men he knew were in his car, and he talked with them until
the train reached Boston. There he was engrossed; he had barely time
to snatch a few hours for sleep, none for thought. But the next day,
after taking his chair in the train for New York, and observing that
he knew no one in the car, he became aware that the heart within him
was heavy. He and his wife had quarrelled before, for she had a hot
Southern temper, and he was by no means without gunpowder of his own;
but none of their disputes had left behind it the flavour of this. That
she should tolerate such a man as Bosworth, had disappointed him; that
she should espouse his pretensions to their only child, filled him with
disgust and something like terror; and her snobbery sickened him. But
what had stabbed into the quick of his heart were her final words. He
repeated them again and again, hoping to dull their edge.

Moreover, she had never let the night set its ugly seal on their
quarrels. Her tempers were soon over, and she had invariably come to
him and commanded or coaxed for reconciliation, as her mood dictated.
He had steered safely through the first trying years of matrimony, and
it appalled him to think that perhaps an unreckoned future lay before
them both.

When he entered his house something struck him as out of the common. A
servant had fetched his portmanteau from the cab. It suddenly occurred
to Mr. Forbes that the man had ostentatiously evaded his eye.

He walked toward the stair, hesitated, then turned.

“Is Mrs. Forbes well?” he asked; and he found that he was making an
effort to control his voice.

The man flushed and hung his head. “Mrs. Forbes and Miss Augusta
sailed for Europe this afternoon, sir. There’s a letter for you on the
mantel-piece in the library.”

Mr. Forbes did not trust himself to say, “Ah!” As he turned the knob
of the library door his hand trembled. He entered, and locked the door
behind him.

He opened the letter at once and read it.

  “I think you did not understand on Monday night that I was in
  earnest,” it ran. “I am so much in earnest that I shall not stay here
  to bicker with you. That we have never done. I do not wish to run the
  risk of speaking again as I spoke the last time we were together. I
  know that I hurt you, and I am very sorry. If I did not believe that
  you were entirely wrong in the stand you have taken, I should not
  think of taking any decisive step in the matter myself; for it hurts
  me to hurt you--please believe that. But I feel sure that as soon
  as you are alone and think it over calmly, you will see that your
  opposition is hardly warrantable, and that the wishes of your wife and
  daughter are worthy of serious consideration. If we remained to renew
  the subject constantly you would not give it this consideration; there
  would be an undignified and regrettable war of words every day.

  “This is what I have made up my mind to do: if you persist in refusing
  your consent--which I cannot believe--I shall, on the tenth day of
  March, turn over all my own property to the Duke: my houses in Newport
  and Asheville, my horses and yacht, and my jewels. Two days later they
  will marry. I stand pledged to these two people that they shall marry,
  and nothing will induce me to break my word.

  “I sail to-day with Augusta on the _Brétagne_; I go to Paris
  first to order the trousseau. My address will be the ‘Bristol’; but
  I shall only be in Paris a week. From there I shall go to London--to
  the ‘Bristol.’ The Duke and Fletcher Cuyler sail to-day on the

  “I am afraid I have expressed myself brutally. My head aches. I am
  very nervous. I can hardly get my thoughts together, with all this
  hurry and confusion, and the unhappy knowledge that I am displeasing
  you. But this cloud that has fallen between us can be brushed aside;
  we can be happy again, and at once. It only rests with you.


  “I have told Harriet to make a plausible explanation of our abrupt
  departure. She has a talent for that sort of thing. No one need know
  that there has been the slightest difference of opinion.”

Mr. Forbes dropped the letter to the floor, and leaned forward, his
elbows digging into his knees, his hands pressed to his head.

He stared at the carpet His face was as white as if someone had struck
him a blow in a vital part. The tears gathered slowly in his eyes and
rolled over his cheeks. Suddenly his hands covered his face; and sobs
shook him from head to foot.

“What have I loved?” he thought. “What have I loved? Have I been in a
fool’s paradise for twenty-two years? Oh, my God!”

This woman had been the pre-eminent consideration of the best years
of his life. He had loved her supremely. He had been faithful to her.
He had poured millions at her feet, delighted to gratify her love of
splendour and power. And never had a man seemed more justified. She had
half lived in his arms. She had been his comrade and friend, a source
of sympathy and repose and diversion and happiness that had never
failed him; for nearly a quarter of a century. And now she had sold
him, trodden in the dirt his will, his pride, his heart, that she might
finger a coronet which could never be hers, but gloat over the tarnish
on her fingers.

He sat there for many hours. Dinner was announced, but he paid no
heed. He reviewed his married life. It had seemed to him very nearly
perfect. It lost nothing in the retrospect. He doubted if many men were
as happy as he had been, if many women had as much to give to a man as
Virginia Forbes. And now it had come to a full stop; to be resumed,
pitted and truncated, in another chapter. The delight of being petted
and spoiled and adored by a man whom all men respected, the love and
communion upon which she had seemed passionately dependent, were chaff
in the scale against her personal and social vanities.

Life had been very kind to him. Money, position, influential friends
had been his birthright. His talents had been recognised in his early
manhood. He had turned his original thousands into millions. No man in
the United States stood higher in the public estimation, nor could have
had a wider popularity, had he chosen to send his magnetism to the
people. No American was more hospitably received abroad. Probably no
man living was the object of more kindly envy. And yet he sat alone in
his magnificent house and asked himself, “For what were mortals born?”
His heart ached so that he could have torn it out and trampled on it.
And the gall that bit the raw wound was the knowledge that he must go
on loving this woman so long as life was in him.


MRS. FORBES and her daughter had been in London two weeks.
The engagement had been announced by the Duke a week previously, and
was the sensation of the hour. The American newspapers were agog,
but, as Mr. Forbes refused to be interviewed, were obliged to content
themselves with daily bulletins from London. Mr. Forbes’ opposition
was suspected, but could not be verified. When congratulated, he
replied diplomatically that he was not a warm advocate of international
marriages. He hedged with a sense of bitter abasement, but he could not
fling his dignity into the public maw.

Mrs. Van Rhuys informed people that, personally, her brother liked
the Duke of Bosworth, but had hoped that Augusta would marry an
American. She could not name the exact amount of the dowry; several
millions, probably. The Duke seemed singularly indifferent. He wished
the marriage to take place at once and in England, that his mother,
who idolized him, might be present. Wherefore the sudden move, as the
trousseau was of far more importance than the breaking of a dozen
social engagements. Mr. Forbes would go over for the wedding, of
course--unless this dreadful financial muddle prevented. She and her
brother-in-law, Schuyler Van Rhuys, who was nursing the wound inflicted
by that unintelligible Californian, Helena Belmont, should go, in any
case. No; the Duke had not jilted Mabel Creighton. On the contrary,
Mabel might be said to have made the match. She and the Duke had known
each other for a long while, and were the best of friends, nothing more.

All the folk in London of the Duke’s set had called on Mrs. Forbes and
the impending Duchess. As Parliament was sitting, there was a goodly
number of them. The United States Ambassador gave a banquet in honour
of the engagement, and it was the first of many attentions.

But the Duke was a man in whom few beyond his intimate circle took
personal interest: he was cold, repellent, unpicturesque. The heiress
had neither beauty nor the thistle-down attraction of the average
American girl. It was Virginia Forbes who introduced a singular
variation into this important but hackneyed transaction, and atoned for
the paucities of the principal figures: she absorbed something more
than two-thirds of the public attention. Her beauty, her distinction,
her lively wit, her exquisite taste in dress, her jewels, above all
her girlish appearance, commanded the reluctant admiration or the
subtle envy of the women, the enthusiasm of the men, and the unflagging
attentions of the weekly press. Her ancestry was suddenly discovered,
and was a mine of glittering and illimited strata. Her photograph was
printed in every paper which aimed to amuse a great and weary people,
and was on sale in the shops. In short, she was the “news” of the hour;
and the twentieth of his line and the lady who would save the entail
were the mere mechanism selected by Circumstance to steer a charming
woman to her regalities.

“You certainly ought to be in a state of unleavened bliss,” remarked
her daughter with some sarcasm one evening as they sat together after
tea, alone for the hour. “You simply laid your plans, sailed over, and
down went London. I never knew anything quite so neat in my life. But
it is in some people’s lines to get everything they want, and I suppose
you will to the end of the chapter.”

Mrs. Forbes was gazing into the fire through the sticks of a fan. Her
face was without its usual colour and her lips were contracted.

“Not a line from your father, and it is three weeks,” she said abruptly.

“You did not expect _him_--father!--to come round in a whirl, I
suppose. But why do you worry so? You know that it can end in one way
only. We are all he has, and he adores us, and cannot live without us.
It isn’t as if he were fast, like so many New York men. I have not
worried--not for a moment.”

“How can you be so cold-blooded? I wish you knew the wretch I feel. If
he does adore us, cannot you comprehend what we are making him suffer?
Sometimes I think I can never make it up to him, not with all the
devotion I am capable of, after this miserable business is over.”

“Mother! You are not weakening? You will not retreat now that you have
gone so far?”

“I have no intention of retreating. But I wish that I had stayed in New
York and fought it out there. It was a shocking and heartless thing to
run away and leave him like that, a brutal and insulting thing; but
when he told me that he should pull Mr. Creighton through, and speak to
the Duke, this move seemed the only one that could save the game.”

“And a very wise one it was. Father would have beaten you in the
end--surely; he can do anything with you. I think it is humiliating to
be part and parcel of a man like that.”

“You know nothing of love. You are fascinated by a man who has the
magnetism of indifference; that is all.”

“I am quite sure that I love Bertie,” said Miss Forbes with decision.
“I have analyzed myself thoroughly, and I feel convinced that it is
love--although I thank my stars that I could never in any circumstances
be so besottedly in love with a man as you are with dear papa. I do
not pretend to deny that I am pleased, very pleased, at the idea of
being a Duchess. All we American girls of the best families have good
blue English blood in our veins, and it seems to me that in accepting
the best that the mother country can offer us, we should feel no
more flattered or excited than any English-born girl in the same
circumstances. For the _nouveau riche_--the fungi--of course it is
ridiculous, and also lamentable: they muddy a pure stream, and they are
chromos in a jewelled frame. But there are many of us that should feel
a certain gratitude to Providence that we are permitted to save from
ruin the grand old families whose ancestors and ours played together,
perhaps, as children. To me it is a sacred duty as well as a very great
pleasure. Papa’s English ancestors may not have been as smart as yours,
but he has seven generations of education and refinement, position and
wealth behind him in the United States; he is the chief figure in the
aristocracy of the United States; and in time he must see things as we

To this edifying homily Mrs. Forbes gave scant attention. She was
tormented with conjectures of her husband’s scorn and displeasure,
picturing his loneliness. Sometimes she awoke suddenly in the night,
lost the drift for the moment of conversation in company, saw a blank
wall instead of the _mise en scène_ of the play, her brain
flaring with the enigma: “Will life ever be quite the same again?” She
had had a second object in leaving New York abruptly: she believed
that her husband could not stand the test of her absence and anger.
But in the excitement and rush of those two days she had not looked
into her deeper knowledge of him. She had known him very well. It was a
dangerous experiment to wound a great nature, to shatter the delicate
partition between illusion and an analytical mind.

“What a dreadful sigh!” expostulated Miss Forbes. “It is bad for the
heart to sigh like that. I don’t think you are very well. I don’t
think, lovely as you look, that you have been quite up to mark since we
left New York.”

“I suppose it is because I was ill crossing; I never was before, you
know. And then it is the first time in my life that I have been away
from both your father and mammy. I am so used to being taken care of
that I feel as if I were doing the wrong thing all the time, and Marie
is merely a toilette automaton. This morning the clothes were half off
the bed when I woke up, and the window was open; and yesterday Marie
gave me the wrong wrap, and I was cold all the afternoon.”

“Good heavens, mother!” cried Miss Forbes. “Fancy being thirty-nine and
such a baby. I feel years older than you.”

“And immeasurably superior. I suppose the petting and care I have had
all my life would bore you. Well, your cold independent nature often
makes me wonder what are its demands upon happiness. Does Bertie ever
kiss you?”

“Occasionally; but I don’t care much about kissing. We discuss the
questions of the day.”

“Poor man!”

“I am sure that he likes it, and we shall get along admirably. I am the
stronger nature, and I feel reasonably certain that I shall acquire
great influence over him, and make an exemplary man of him.”

“Great heavens!” thought Mrs. Forbes. “A plain passionless
pseudo-intellectual girl reforming an English profligate! What a sight
for the gods!”

“I hope papa will come round before the wedding, because I wish only
the interest of my dowry settled on us, and it takes a man to hold out
on that point. That would give me the upper hand in a way. You have not
written to him since we left, have you?”


“Don’t you think it is time?”

“I intend to write by to-morrow’s steamer.”

“Do make him really understand that he is forcing you to sacrifice the
houses and jewels to which you are so much attached.”

“I shall make it as strong as I can.”

“I’ll write to Aunt Harriet, and tell her to talk to him. Poor dear
papa, I am afraid he is lonesome. I wish he would come over so that we
could all be together again. Give him my love and a kiss.”

“You certainly have a magnificent sense of humour.”


MR. FORBES read his wife’s second letter with dry eyes. His
face, during the past weeks, had been habitually hard and severe. He
looked older. It was a long letter. It was fragrant with love and
admitted remorse; but it reasserted that unless he made the required
settlement three weeks from receipt she would hand over to the Duke’s
attorneys all she possessed.

Mr. Forbes tore the letter into strips and threw them on the fire.
His face had flushed as he read; and as he lay back in his chair, it
relaxed somewhat.

“If she were here would I yield?” he thought. “I am thankful that she
is not. Or am I? I don’t know. What fools we mortals be--in the hands
of a woman. Five millions seem a small price to have her back. But
to pay them, unfortunately, means the free gift of my self-respect.
What is to come? What is to come? I had believed at times that this
woman read my very soul and touched it. Her intuitions, her sympathy,
her subtle comprehension of the highest wants of a man’s nature and
reverence for them amounted to something like genius. Indeed, she had a
genius for loving--a most uncommon gift. Or so it seemed to me. But I
think that few men would appreciate that they were idealising a woman
like Virginia Forbes. And now? I am to take back the beautiful woman,
the companionable mind, I suppose--nothing more. But it is something
to have been a fool for twenty-two years. I cannot say that I have any
regrets. And possibly it was my own fault that I could not make her
love me better.”

He looked up at the picture. “Several times,” he thought, “I have felt
like mounting a chair and kissing it. And if I did, I should feel as if
I were kissing the lips of a corpse.”

“Ned! Are you there?”

Mr. Forbes rose instantly. The door had opened, and a tall woman, not
unlike Augusta, but with something more of mellowness, had entered.

“I am glad to see you, Harriet,” he said. “What brings you at this
hour? Have you come to help me through my solitary dinner?”

“I will stay to dinner, certainly.” Mrs. Van Rhuys took the chair he
offered, and looked at him keenly. “I have just received a letter
from Augusta,” she said. “Do withdraw your opposition, Ned. Yield
gracefully, before the world knows what it is beginning to suspect. And
a man can never hold out against his womankind. He might just as well
give in at once and save wrinkles.”

“What is your personal opinion of the Duke of Bosworth?” asked Mr.
Forbes curtly.

“Well, I certainly should have chosen a finer sample of the English
aristocracy for Augusta, but I cannot sympathise with your violent
antipathy to him. His manners are remarkably good for an Englishman,
and it would be one of the most notable marriages in American history.”

“You women are all alike,” said Mr. Forbes contemptuously. “Would you
give your daughter to this man?”

“Assuredly. I am positive that when the little Duke settles down he
will be all that could be desired. He has something to live for now.
Poor thing! He has been hampered with debts ever since he came of age.
The old Duke was a sad profligate, but a very charming man. What it
is I do not pretend to define, and I say it without any snobbishness,
for I am devoted to New York; but there is something about the English

“Oh!”--Mr. Forbes rattled the shovel among the coals--“Do, please,
spare me. You’re all peer-bewitched, every one of you. Don’t let us
discuss the subject any farther. It is loathsome to me, and I am
ashamed of my womankind.”

“Are you determined to let Virginia sell her houses and jewels, Ned? It
will break her heart.”

“She knew what she was doing when she struck the bargain. It was an
entirely voluntary act on her part. I see no reason why she should not
stand the consequences. Shall we go in to dinner?”


THE next evening Miss Forbes dressed for a dinner party in a
very bad humour.

Her mother was prostrated with a violent headache and had been obliged
to send an excuse.

“Such a dreadful thing to do,” grumbled Augusta to her maid as she
revolved before the pier glass. “Have you asked Marie the particulars?
Is my mother really ill?”

“Dreadful, I believe, miss.”

“It makes me feel heartless to leave her, but one of us must go, that
is certain. Can I see her?”

“No, miss. She is trying to sleep.”

“People may have an idea that the path of an American heiress who is
going to marry an English Duke is strewn with Jacqueminots; I wish they
knew what I have gone through in the last month. I wish to heaven papa
would come over.”

It was a bright and lively dinner given by a very young and
newly-titled United Statesian, who treated the British peerage as a
large and lovely joke, and was accepted on much the same footing. The
Duke, who had pulled himself together since the swerve in his fortunes,
looked something more of a man. His cheeks had more colour and his
eye-belongings less. He held himself erectly and talked well. Augusta
bored him hideously, but he reflected that a Duke need see little of
his Duchess, and filled his present _rôle_ creditably. Fletcher
Cuyler as usual was the life of the company, and even Augusta forgot to
be intellectual.

A theatre party followed the dinner. Augusta returned to the hotel
a little after midnight. As she opened the door of the private
drawing-room of Mrs. Forbes’ suite, she saw with surprise that her
mother was sitting by one of the tables.

“I thought you were in bed with a headache,” she began, and then
uttered an exclamation of alarm and went hastily forward.

Mrs. Forbes, as white as the dead, her hair unbound and dishevelled,
her eyes swollen, sat with clenched hands pressed hard against her

“Mother!” exclaimed Augusta. “You--you look terribly. How you must have
suffered. Has the pain gone?”

“Yes, the pain has gone.”

“Well, I am glad you are better----”

“It will be a long while before I am better. Oh, I want your father!
Cable to him! Go for him! Do anything, only bring him here.”

“I’ll cable this minute if you are really ill. But what is the matter?”

Mrs. Forbes muttered something. Augusta bent her ear. “What?” she
asked. Her mother repeated what she had said. As Augusta lifted her
head her face was scarlet.

“Gracious goodness!” she ejaculated. “Who would ever have thought of
such a thing?” She walked aimlessly to the window, then returned to her
mother. “Well,” she added, “it’s nothing to be so upset about. It isn’t
as if it were your first. And papa will be delighted.”

Mrs. Forbes flung her arms over the table, her head upon them, and
burst into wild sobbing.

“Good heavens, mother, don’t take on so,” cried her daughter. “What
good could papa do if he were here? I hope I’ll never have a baby if
it affects one like that.”

She hovered over her mother, much embarrassed. She was not heartless
and would have been glad to relieve her distress; but inasmuch as she
was incapable of such distress herself she comprehended not the least
of what possessed her mother. She took refuge upon the plane where she
was ever at home.

“I have always said,” she announced, “that it is not a good thing for
American men to spoil their wives as they do, and particularly as papa
spoils you. Here you are in the most ordinary predicament that can
befall a woman, and yet you are utterly demoralized because he is not
here to pet you and make you think you are the only woman that ever had
a baby. And upon my word,” she added reflectively, “I believe he would
be perfectly happy if he were here. I can just see the fuss he would
make over you----”

Here her mother’s sobs became so violent that she was roused to genuine

“I’ll cable at once,” she said. “But what shall I cable? I don’t know
how to intimate such a thing, and I certainly can’t say it right out.”

“I will write. Give me the things.” Mrs. Forbes raised her disfigured
face and pushed back her hair. “It will make me feel better. Of course
you cannot cable without alarming him, and he has had enough.”

Augusta brought the writing materials with alacrity. Mrs. Forbes wrote
two lines. The tears splashed on the paper.

“Those will look like real tears,” said Augusta reassuringly. “Once
I helped Mabel write a letter breaking off an engagement, and she
sprinkled it with the hair-brush. I am sure he must have guessed. Here,
I’ll send it right away, and then you’ll feel better.”

She summoned a bell-boy and dispatched the letter. “There!” she said,
patting her mother’s head. “He’ll be sure to come over now, and all
will go as merry as a marriage-bell--my marriage-bell. Tell me, mamma,
don’t you feel that this is a special little intervention of Providence
to bring things about just as we want them? Aren’t you glad that this
is the end of doubt and worry, and that you can keep your houses and
lovely jewels?”

“I don’t know,” said Mrs. Forbes wearily. “I want nothing but my


THE week passed. No cable came from Mr. Forbes. His wife did
not admit further disquiet. She knew his pride. He would come, but not
with the appearance of hastening to her at the first excuse.

She went out as much as she could--filled every moment. A part of the
trousseau arrived, and there were many things to be bought in London.

She needed all the distraction she could devise. Impatience and
longing, regret and loneliness crouched at the four corners of her
mind, ready to spring the moment her will relaxed. The gloomy skies
contributed their quota. She was home-sick for the blue and white, the
electric atmosphere of New York. Nevertheless, when she was surrounded
by admirers, during the hours wherein she was reminded that her haughty
little head was among the stars, she was content, and had no thought of

The letter had left England on a Saturday. She reckoned that her
husband would not receive it until the following Monday week. Making
allowance for all delays, he could take the steamer that left New York
on Wednesday.

On the Wednesday of the week succeeding she remained in her rooms
all day. The time came and passed for the arrival of passengers by
the “Cunard” line; but her husband had a strong preference for the
“American,” and she had made up her mind not to expect him before a
quarter to nine in the evening--a slight break in the _St. Paul’s_
machinery had delayed its arrival several hours.

She was nervous and excited. Augusta left the hotel and declared that
she should not return until the “meeting was quite over.” For the last
week Mrs. Forbes had been haunted by visions of shipwreck, fire at
sea, and sudden death. In these last hours she walked the floor torn
by doubts of another nature. Suppose her husband would not forgive
her, was disgusted, embittered? She had every reason to think that she
had deep and intimate knowledge of him; but she knew that people had
lived together for forty years before some crook of Circumstance had
revealed the dormant but virile poison of their natures. Was bitter
pride her husband’s? For the first time she wished that she had never
seen the Duke of Bosworth--retreated before the ambitions of a lifetime
in detestation and terror. Every part of her concentrated into longing
for the man who had made the happiness of her life. She even wished
passionately that she had never had a daughter to come between them,
and with curious feminism loved the baby that was coming the more.

She went to the mirror and regarded herself anxiously. When in society,
excitement gave her all her old rich vital beauty, but the reaction
left her pale and dull. Would he find her faded? He had worshipped her
beauty, and she would rather have walked out from wealth into poverty
than have discovered a wrinkle or a grey hair. But she looked very
lovely. Her cheeks were flushed, her eyes sparkling. Her warm soft hair
when hanging always enriched her beauty. She wore an Empire gown of
pale pink satin cut in a high square about the throat.

“Oh, I look pretty enough,” she thought. “If he would only come!”

For the twentieth time she went to the clock. It was a few minutes to
eight The train was due at twenty minutes past. He should be at the
hotel by a quarter to nine at latest.

The next hour was the longest of her life. She assured herself that if
there was such a result as retributive justice in this world it beat
upon her in a fiery rain during those crab-like moments. There was
nothing to momentarily relieve the tension, no seconds of expectation,
of hope. The roll of cabs in the street was incessant. The corridors of
the hotel were so thickly carpeted that she could not hear a foot-fall.
Her very hands shook, but she dared not take an anodyne lest she should
not be herself when he came.

She tried to recall the few quarrels of her engagement and their
perturbing effect. They were such pale wraiths before this agitation,
following years of intense living, and quicked with the full knowledge
of the great possession she may have tossed to Memory, that they
dissolved upon evocation. She sprang to her feet again to pace the
room. At that moment the door opened and her husband entered.

She had purposed to captivate him anew with her beauty, to shed several
tears, perhaps, but not enough to blister and inflame. She flew across
the room and flung herself about his neck and deluged his face with
tears, as she sobbed, and kissed him, and protested, and besought

His face had been stern as he entered. Although the appeal of her
letter was irresistible, he had no intention of capitulating without
reserves; but no man that loved a woman could be proof against such an
outburst of feeling and affection, and in a moment he was pressing her
in his arms and kissing her.


THE next morning Mr. Forbes had an interview with Augusta.

“I don’t choose to discuss this matter of your engagement with your
mother,” he said, “so we will come to an understanding at once, if you
please. Are you determined to marry this man, to take your mother’s
property in case I continue to refuse my consent?”

“Papa! What else can I do? The invitations are out. We should be the
laughingstock of two continents. Besides, I am convinced that Bertie is
the one man I shall ever want to marry, and I cannot give him up.”

“Very well. You and your mother have beaten me. Fortunately, you are
better able to stand the consequences of your acts than most women. I
doubt if you will ever realize them. I have an attorney here. He will
confer with the Duke’s attorneys to-morrow. Only, be good enough to
arrange matters so that I shall see as little as possible of your Duke
between now and the wedding. Your mother and I shall return to America
the day after the ceremony.”

As Mr. Forbes left the room Augusta thoughtfully arranged the chiffon
on the front of her blouse.

“Even a big man,” she reflected, “a great big man, a man who can make
Presidents of the United States, has no chance in the hands of two
determined women. We are quite dangerous when we know our power.”

She added after a moment:

“How gracefully he gave in. Dear papa! But that is the American of it.
We never sulk. We lose our temper. We come down with both feet. We
even kick hard and long when we want or don’t want a thing badly. But
when we find that it’s all no use, I flatter myself that we know how to
climb down.”


THE next two weeks flashed by. Besides the accumulating details
there were two visits to country houses and a daily breakfast or
dinner. Mr. Forbes, who had many friends in London, had no time
to be bored. Mrs. Forbes was happy and triumphant. Augusta’s serene
components pleasurably oscillated.

The wedding was very brilliant, but not gorgeous. Mrs. Forbes was far
too clever to give society and the press an excuse to sneer at the
“vulgar display of American dollars.” St. George’s was decorated with
sufficient lavishness to make it appear a bower of delight after the
drive through rain and mud, but suggested to no mind the possible cost.

Royalty came from Cannes. The church was crowded to the doors with the
best blood in England. The dowager duchess, a stout plainly-garbed old
lady, sat with her daughters and grandchildren. She looked placid and
rather sleepy. Mrs. Forbes, who was gowned in violet velvet with a
point lace vest of new device, was flanked by her husband’s relatives
and the United States Embassy. Augusta, in a magnificent bridal robe of
satin and lace and pearls, her severely-cut features softened by the
white mist of her veil, looked stately and imposing. The maidens who
flanked her were not the friends of her youth, but their names were
writ in the style of chivalry, and Augusta’s equanimity was independent
of sentiment. The Duke’s bump of benevolence was on a level with her
small well-placed ear, but he also looked his best.

As Mrs. Forbes listened to the words which affiliated her with several
of the greatest houses in the history of Europe, she thrilled with
gratified ambition and the more strictly feminine pleasure of having
her own way. Suddenly her glance rested on her husband. He stood with
his arms folded, his eyes lowered, an expression of bitter defeat on
his face.

The blood dropped from her cheeks to her heart; the rosy atmosphere
turned grey. “He says that he has forgiven me,” she thought. “Has he?
Has he? But I will make him! Any impressions can be effaced with time
and persistence, and others that are ever present.”

After the ceremony there was a breakfast at the Embassy. Only the
members of the two families, the few intimate friends, and the
bridesmaids were present. The company was barely seated when Fletcher
Cuyler rose, leaned his finger tips lightly on the table and glanced
about with his affable and impish grin.

“Ladies and gentlemen, your attention if you please,” he commanded.
“I wish the individually expressed thanks of each member of this
assemblage. Not for being the happy instrument in bringing this
auspicious marriage about--although I confess the imputation--but for a
more immediate benefit, one which I have conferred equally upon each of
you, and upon the many hundreds who were so fortunate as to witness the
ceremony which bound together two of the most distinguished families of
America and Great Britain. I allude to the wedding-march. You doubtless
noticed that it was played as it should be, as it rarely is. I have
attended twenty-two weddings in St. George’s----”

“Sit down, Fletcher,” said the First Secretary impatiently. “What are
you talking about? Do kindly take a back seat for once.”

“On the contrary, I am entitled to a high chair in the front row. I
played that march. You do not believe me? Ask the organist--when he is
able to articulate. He is red-hot and speechless at present. I calmly
approached him as he was pulling out his cuffs, and said: ‘Young man’
(he is venerable, but I too am bald), ‘move aside if you please. I
am to play this wedding-march. The Duke of Bosworth is my particular
friend. It is my way of giving him good luck. At once. There is the
signal.’ I fancy I hypnotized him. He slid off the stool mechanically.
I lost no time taking his place. When he had recovered and was
threatening police I was playing as even I had never played before.
That is all.”

Everybody laughed, the Duke more heartily than anyone. Fletcher was one
of the few of life’s gifts for which he was consistently thankful.

“You shall come with us to-day,” he said, delighted with the sudden
inspiration; and Fletcher, who had intended to go whether he was
invited or not, graciously accepted.

The breakfast party was informal and gay. Toasts were given and the
responses clever. Even Mr. Forbes, who had no idea of being a death’s
head at a feast, forced himself into his best vein.

The Duke drank a good deal of wine and said little. He was, on the
whole, well content. Mr. Forbes had handed over two hundred thousand
pounds with which to repair Aire Castle, and settled the income of
eight hundred thousand pounds on the young people, the principal to go
to their children. The Duke reflected gratefully that he should have
no cause to be ashamed of his bride. She was not beautiful, but even
his relatives had approved of her manners and style. He forgave her for
having bored him, for she had brought him a certain peace of mind; and
she should have as many M.P.’s to talk political economy to as she (or
they) listed. He would talk to Fletcher, and others.

Mrs. Forbes had her especial toasts. Even here, at this anti-climax
dear to the heart of a bride, she was the personage. She looked regal
and surpassing fair, for her eyes were very soft; and she had never
been happier of speech. The Duke, who admired her with what enthusiasm
was left in him, proposed a toast to which the Ambassador himself


WHEN it was over and Mr. Forbes and his wife had returned to
the hotel, she put her hands on his shoulders and looked him in the

“Tell me,” she said imperiously; “have you really forgiven me? I have
almost been sure at times that you had. I have felt it. But you have
not been quite your old dear self. I want to hear you say again that
you forgive me, and it is the last time that I shall refer to the

“Yes,” he said, adjusting a lock that had fallen over her ear, “I have
forgiven you, of course. We are to live the rest of our lives together.
I am not so unwise, I hope, as to nurse offended pride and resentment.”

The colour left her face. She came closer.

“Tell me!” she said, her voice vibrating. “Won’t it ever be quite the
same again? Is that what you mean?”

He took her in his arms and laid his cheek against hers. “Oh, I don’t
know,” he said, “I don’t know.”




  _THE SEVEN SEAS._ A new volume of poems by RUDYARD
  KIPLING, author of “Many Inventions,” “Barrack-Room Ballads,”
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“The spirit and method of Kipling’s fresh and virile song have taken
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elements to our song.... The true laureate of Great Britain.”--_E. C.
Stedman in The Book Buyer._

“The most original poet who has appeared in his generation.... His is
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dead.”--_W. D. Howells._

“The new poems of Mr. Rudyard Kipling have all the spirit and swing of
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“He has the very heart of movement, for the lack of which no metrical
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“‘The Seven Seas’ is the most remarkable book of verse that Mr.
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“If a man holding this volume in his hands, with all its extravagance
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through with indubitable genius--then he must be too much a slave of
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indefensible justification is--truth.”--_London Daily Telegraph._

“‘The Seven Seas’ is packed with inspiration, with humor, with pathos,
and with the old unequaled insight into the mind of the rank and
file.”--_London Daily Chronicle._

“Mr. Kipling’s ‘The Seven Seas’ is a distinct advance upon his
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and genius--a brand-new landmark in the history of English
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“In ‘The Seven Seas’ are displayed all of Kipling’s prodigious
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  _FALSE COIN OR TRUE?_ 16mo. Cloth, $1.25.

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  and afterwards of Amherst’s Regiment. 12 mo. Cloth, illustrated,

“Another historical romance of the vividness and intensity of ‘The
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year.”--_Chicago Record._

“Mr. Gilbert Parker is to be congratulated on the excellence of his
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  author of “The God in the Car,” “The Prisoner of Zenda,” etc. With
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  _THE REDS OF THE MIDI._ An Episode of the French Revolution.
  BY FÉLIX GRAS. Translated from the Provençal by Mrs.
  CATHARINE A. JANVIER. With an Introduction by THOMAS A.
  JANVIER. With Frontispiece. 12 mo. Cloth, $1.50.

“It is doubtful whether in the English language we have had a more
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the revolutionist’s point of view, than that in Félix Gras’s ‘The Reds
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brilliant pictures are frequent, and the thread of a tender, beautiful
love story winds in and out of its pages.”--_New York Mail and

“‘The Reds of the Midi’ is a red rose from Provence, a breath of pure
air in the stifling atmosphere of present-day romance--a stirring
narrative of one of the most picturesque events of the Revolution.
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warm and pulsating, and fairly trembles with excitement.”--_Chicago

“To the names Dickens, Hugo, and Erckmann-Chatrian must be added that
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flavor.”--_Buffalo Express._

“No more forcible presentation of the wrongs which the poorer classes
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the Reign of Terror in Paris.”--_San Francisco Chronicle._

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“A charmingly told story, and all the more delightful because of the
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and skill that only an artist could employ.”--_Chicago Evening

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written since the announcement of the expiration of 1889, or rather
since the contemporary publication of old war records newly discovered,
but there is none more vivid than this story of the men of the south,
written by one of their own blood.”--_Boston Herald._


Uniform edition. Each, 12mo. cloth, $1.50.

  _LADS’ LOVE._ Illustrated.

In this fresh and charming story, which in some respects recalls “The
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  _CLEG KELLY, ARAB OF THE CITY. His Progress and Adventures._

“A masterpiece which Mark Twain himself has never rivaled.... If
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ragamuffin.”--_London Daily Chronicle._

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it one of the great books.”--_Boston Daily Advertiser._

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  _BOG-MYRTLE AND PEAT._ Third edition.

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_Uniform edition. 12mo. Cloth, $1.50 per volume._

  _RODNEY STONE._ Illustrated.

“A remarkable book, worthy of the pen that gave us ‘The White Company,’
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“A notable and very brilliant work of genius.”--_London Speaker._

“‘Rodney Stone’ is, in our judgment, distinctly the best of Dr. Conan
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  _THE EXPLOITS OF BRIGADIER GERARD. A Romance of the Life of a
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  _THE STARK MUNRO LETTERS._ Being a Series of Twelve Letters
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“Cullingworth, ... a much more interesting creation than Sherlock
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 _ROUND THE RED LAMP._ Being Facts and Fancies of Medical Life.

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New York: D. APPLETON & CO., 72 Fifth Avenue.


--Gossipping, on page 13, has been changed to gossiping.

--All other hyphenation and variant/archaic spelling has been retained
as typeset.

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