Tuesday, October 16, 2007



A Novel
In another minute the Kaiser Wilhelm would push off
from her pier in Hoboken. The last bell had rung, the
last uniformed officer and white-jacketed steward had
scurried up the gangway. The pier was massed with people
who had come to bid their friends good-by. They were all
Germans, and there had been unlimited embracing and
kissing and sobs of "Ach! mein lieber Sckatz!" and
"Gott bewahre Dick!"
Now they stood looking up to the crowded decks, shouting
out last fond words. A band playing "The Merry Maiden
and the Tar" marched on board.
The passengers pressed against the rails, looking down.
Almost every one held flowers which had been brought to
them: not costly bouquets, but homely bunches of
marigolds or pinks. They carried, too, little German
or American flags, which they waved frantically.
The gangways fell, and the huge ship parted from the
dock. It was but an inch, but the whole ocean yawned in
it between those who went and those who stayed. There
was a sudden silence; a thousand handkerchiefs fluttered
white on the pier and the flags and flowers were waved on
the ship, but there was not a cry nor a sound.
James Perry, one of the dozen Americans on board, was
leaning over the rail watching it all with an amused
smile. "Hello, Watts!" he called, as another young man
joined him. "Going over? Quite dramatic, isn't it? It
might be a German ship going out of a German port. The
other liners set off in as commonplace a way as a Jersey
City ferryboat, but these North German Lloyd ships always
sail with a certain ceremony and solemnity. I like it."
"I always cross on them," said Dr. Watts. "I have but a
month's vacation--two weeks on board ship, two on land.
Now you, I suppose, don't have to count your days?
You cross every year. I can't see, for my part, what
business the assistant editor of a magazine has abroad."
"Oh, we make a specialty of articles from notorieties
over there; statesmen, scientific fellows, or people with
titles. I expect to capture a paper from Lorne and some
sketches by the Princess Beatrice this time."
"Lorne? It throws you into contact with that sort of
folk, eh?" said the doctor, looking at him enviously.
"How do they strike you, Jem?"
"Well," said Perry importantly, "well-bred people are the
same the world over. I only see them in a business way,
of course, but one can judge. Their voices are better
than ours, but as to looks--no! It's queer, but American
women--the wives and daughters of saddlers or farmers,
perhaps--have more often the patrician look than English
duchesses. Now there, for example," warming to the
subject, "that woman to whom you bowed just now, the
middle-aged one in blue cloth. Some Mrs. Smith or Pratt,
probably. A homely woman, but there is a distinction in
her face, a certain surety of good breeding, which is
lacking in the heavy-jawed English royalties."
"Yes; that is a friend of mine," said Watts.
She is a Mrs. Waldeaux from Wier, in Delaware. You could
hardly call her a typical American woman. Old French
emigre family. Probably better blood than the Coburgs
a few generations back. That priggish young fellow is
her son. Going to be an Episcopalian minister."
Mr. Perry surveyed his friend's friends good-humoredly.
"Brand new rugs and cushions," he said. "First voyage.
Heavens! I wish it were my first voyage, and that I had
their appetite for Europe."
"You might as well ask for your relish of the bread and
butter of your youth," said Watts.
The two men leaned lazily against the bulwark watching
the other passengers who were squabbling about trunks.
Mr. Perry suddenly stood upright as a group of women
"Do you know who that girl is?" he said eagerly. "The
one who looked back at us over her shoulder."
"No. They are only a lot of school-girls, personally
conducted. That is the teacher in front."
"Of course, I see that. But the short, dark one--surely
I know that woman."
The doctor looked after her. "She looks like a dog
turning into a human being," he said leisurely. "One
often sees such cases of arrested evolution. D'ye see?
Thick lips, coarse curls, flat nostrils----"
Perry laughed. "The eyes, anyhow, are quite human," he
said. "They challenge the whole world of men. I can't
place her!" staring after her, perplexed. "I really
don't believe I ever saw her before. Yet her face brings
up some old story of a tragedy or crime to me."
"Nonsense! The girl is not twenty. Very fetching with
all her vulgarity, though. Steward, send some coffee to
my stateroom. Let's go down, Jem. The fog is too
Frances Waldeaux did not find the fog chilly. She had
been thinking for thirty years of the day when she should
start to Europe--ever since she could think at all.
This was the day. It was like no other, now that it
had come. The fog, the crowd, the greasy smells of the
pier, all familiar enough yesterday, took on a certain
remoteness and mystery. It seemed to her that she was
doing something which nobody had ever done before. She
was going to discover the Old World.
The New was not more tremendous or unreal before the eyes
of Columbus when he, too, stood on the poop of his ship.
Her son was arguing with the deck steward about chairs.
"Now, mother," he said at last, "it's all right. They
are under cover so that the glare will not strain your
eyes, and we can keep dry while we watch the storms."
"How did you know about it all? One would think you had
crossed a dozen times, George."
"Oh, I've studied the whole thing up thoroughly," George
said, with a satisfied little nod. "I've had time
enough! Why, when I was in petticoats you used to tell
me you would buy a ship and we would sail away together.
You used to spoil all my school maps with red lines,
drawing our routes."
"Yes. And now we're going!" said Frances to herself.
He sat down beside her and they watched the unending
procession of passengers marching around the deck.
George called her attention by a wink to any picturesque
or queer figure that passed. He liked to watch her quiet
brown eyes gleam with fun. Nobody had such a keen sense
of the ridiculous as his mother. Sometimes, at the mere
remembrance of some absurd idea, she would go off into
soft silent paroxysms of laughter until the tears would
stream down her cheeks.
George was fond and proud of his childish little mother.
He had never known any body, he thought, so young or so
transparent. It was easily understood. She had married
at sixteen, and had been left a widow little more than a
year afterward. "And I," he used to think, "was born
with an old head on my shoulders; so we have grown up
together. I suppose the dear soul never had a thought in
her life which she has not told me."
As they sat together a steward brought Mrs. Waldeaux a
note, which she read, blushing and smiling.
"The captain invites us to sit at his table," she said,
when the man was gone.
"Very proper in the captain," said George complacently.
"You see, Madam Waldeaux, even the men who go down in
ships have heard of you and your family!"
"I don't believe the captain ever heard of me," she said,
after a grave consideration," nor of the Waldeaux. It is
much more likely that he has read your article in the
Quarterly, George."
"Nonsense!" But he stiffened himself up consciously.
He had sent a paper on some abstruse point of sociology
to the Quarterly last spring, and it had aroused quite
a little buzz of criticism. His mother had regarded it
very much as the Duchess of Kent did the crown when it
was set upon her little girl's head. She always had
known that her child was born to reign, but it was
satisfactory to see this visible sign of it.
She whispered now, eagerly leaning over to him. "There
was something about that paper which I never told you.
I think I'll tell you now that the great day has come."
"Why, you know--I never think of you as my son, or a man,
or anything outside of me--not at all. You are just
ME, doing the things I should have done if I had not
been a woman. Well,"--she drew her breath
quickly,--"when I was a girl it seemed as if there was
something in me that I must say, so I tried to write
poems. No, I never told you before. It had counted for
so much to me I could not talk of it. I always sent them
to the paper anonymously, signed `Sidney.' Oh, it was
long--long ago! I've been dumb, as you might say, for
years. But when I read your article, George--do you know
if I had written it I should have used just the phrases
you did? And you signed it `Sidney'!" She watched him
breathlessly. "That was more than a coincidence, don't
you think? I AM dumb, but you speak for me now. It is
because we are just one. Don't you think so, George?"
She held his arm tightly.
Young Waldeaux burst into a loud laugh. Then he took her
hand in his, stroking it. "You dear little woman! What
do you know of sociology?" he said, and then walked
away to hide his amusement, muttering "Poems? Great
Frances looked after him steadily. "Oh, well!" she said
to herself presently.
She forced her mind back to the Quarterly article. It
was a beginning of just the kind of triumph that she
always had expected for him. He would soon be recognized
by scientific men all over the world as their confrere,
especially after his year's study at Oxford.
When George was in his cradle she had planned that he
should be a clergyman, just as she had planned that he
should be a well-bred man, and she had fitted him for
both roles in life, and urged him into them by the same
unceasing soft pats and pushes. She would be delighted
when she saw him in white robes serving at the altar.
Not that Frances had ever taken her religion quite
seriously. It was like her gowns, or her education, a
matter of course; a trustworthy, agreeable part of her.
She had never once in her life shuddered at a glimpse of
any vice in herself, or cried to God in agony, even to
grant her a wish.
But she knew that Robert Waldeaux's son would be
safer in the pulpit. He could take rank with scholars
there, too.
She inspected him now anxiously, trying to see him with
the eyes of these Oxford magnates. Nobody would guess
that he was only twenty-two. The bald spot on his crown
and the spectacles gave him a scholastic air, and the
finely cut features and a cold aloofness in his manner
spoke plainly, she thought, of his good descent and high
Frances herself had a drop of vagabond blood which found
comrades for her among every class and color. But there
was not an atom of the tramp in her son's well-built and
fashionably clothed body. He never had had a single
intimate friend even when he was a boy. He will probably
find his companions among the great English scholars,"
she thought complacently. Of course she would always be
his only comrade, his chum. She continually met and
parted with thousands of people--they came and went.
"But George and I will be together for all time," she
told herself.
He came up presently and sat down beside her, with an
anxious, apologetic air. It hurt him to think that he
had laughed at her. "That dark haze is the Jersey
shore," he said. "How dim it grows! Well, we are really
out now in the big world! It is so good to be alone
there with you," he added, touching her arm
affectionately. "Those cynical old-men-boys at Harvard
bored me."
"I don't bore you, then, George?"
"You!" He was very anxious to make her forget his
roughness. "Apart from my affection for you, mother," he
said judicially, "I LIKE you. I approve of you as I
never probably shall approve of another woman. Your
peculiarities--the way your brown hair ripples back into
that knot "--surveying her critically. "And the way you
always look as if you had just come out of a bath, even
on a grimy train; and your gowns, so simple--and rich.
I confess," he said gravely, "I can't always follow your
unsteady little ideas when you talk. They frisk about
so. It is the difference probably between the man's mind
and the woman's. Besides, we have been separated for so
many years! But I soon will understand you. I know that
while you keep yourself apart from all the world you open
your heart to me."
"Wrap the rug about my feet, George," she said
hastily, and then sent him away upon an errand, looking
after him uneasily.
It was very pleasant to hear her boy thus formally sum up
his opinion of her. But when he found that it was based
upon a lie?
For Frances, candid enough to the world, had deceived her
son ever since he was born.
George had always believed that she had inherited a
fortune from his father. It gave solidity and comfort to
his life to think of her in the stately old mansion on
the shores of Delaware Bay, with nothing to do except to
be beautiful and gracious, as befitted a well-born woman.
It pleased him, in a lofty, generous way, that his father
(whom she had taught him to reverence as the most
chivalric of gentlemen) had left him wholly dependent
upon her. It was a legal fiction, of course. He was the
heir--the crown prince. He had always been liberally
supplied with money at school and at Harvard. Her income
was large. No doubt the dear soul mismanaged the estates
fearfully, but now he would have leisure to take care of
Now, the fact was that Colonel Waldeaux had been a
drunken spendthrift who had left nothing. The house and
farm always had belonged to his wife. She had supported
George by her own work all of his life. She could not
save money, but she had the rarer faculty of making it.
She had raised fine fruit and flowers for the
Philadelphia market; she had traded in high breeds of
poultry and cattle, and had invested her earnings
shrewdly. With these successes she had been able to
provide George with money to spend freely at college.
She lived scantily at home, never expecting any luxury or
great pleasure to come into her own life.
But two years ago a queer thing had happened to her. In
an idle hour she wrote a comical squib and sent it to a
New York paper. As everybody knows, fun, even vulgar
fun, sells high in the market. Her fun was not vulgar,
but coarse and biting enough to tickle the ears of the
common reader. The editor offered her a salary equal to
her whole income for a weekly column of such fooling.
She had hoarded every penny of this money. With it she
meant to pay her expenses in Europe and to support George
in his year at Oxford. The work and the salary were
to go on while she was gone.
It was easy enough to hide all of these things from her
son while he was in Cambridge and she in Delaware. But
now? What if he should find out that his mother was the
Quigg" of the New York ----, a paper which he declared to
be unfit for a gentleman to read?
She was looking out to sea and thinking of this when her
cousin, Miss Vance, came up to her. Miss Vance was a
fashionable teacher in New York, who was going to spend
a year abroad with two wealthy pupils. She was a thin
woman, quietly dressed; white hair and black brows, with
gold eye-glasses bridging an aquiline nose, gave her a
commanding, inquisitorial air.
"Well, Frances!" she began briskly, "I have not had time
before to attend to you. Are your bags hung in your
"I haven't been down yet," said Mrs. Waldeaux meekly.
"We were watching the fog in the sun."
"Fog! Mercy on me! You know you may be ill any minute,
and your room not ready! Of course, you did not take
the bromides that I sent you a week ago?
"No, Clara."
Miss Vance glanced at her. "Well, just as you please.
I've done what I could. Let me look at your itinerary.
You will be too ill for me to advise you about it later."
"Oh, we made none!" said George gayly, coming up to his
mother's aid. "We are going to be vagabonds, and have no
plans. Mother's soul draws us to York Cathedral, and
mine to the National Gallery. That is all we know."
"I thought you had given up that whim of being an
artist?" said Miss Vance, sharply facing on him.
Young Waldeaux reddened. "Yes, I have given it up. I
know as well as you do that I have no talent. I am going
to study my profession at Oxford, and earn my bread by
"Quite right. You never would earn it by art," she said
decisively. "How long do you stay in York, Frances?"
"Oh, a day, or a month--or--years, as we please," said
Frances, lazily turning her head away. She wanted to set
Clara Vance down in her proper place. Mrs. Waldeaux
abhorred cousinly intimates--people who run into your
back door to pry into the state of your larder or your
income. But Miss Vance, as Frances knew, unfortunately
held a key to her back door. She knew of George's
wretched daubs, and his insane desire, when he was a boy,
to study art. He gave it up years ago. Why should she
nag him now about it? By virtue of her relationship she
knew, too, all of Mrs. Waldeaux's secrets. It was most
unfortunate that she should have chosen to sail on this
"Well, mother," George said, uneasy to get away, "no
doubt Miss Vance is right. We should set things in
order. I am going now to give my letter of credit to the
purser to lock up; shall I take yours?"
Mrs. Waldeaux did not reply at once. "No," she said at
last. "I like to carry my own purse."
He smiled indulgently as on a child. "Of course, dear.
It IS your own. My father was wise in that. But, on
this journey, I can act as your paymaster, can't I? I
have studied foreign money----"
"We shall see. I can keep it as safe as any purser now,"
she said, obstinately shaking her head.
He laughed and walked away.
"You have not told him, then?" demanded Clara.
"No. And I never will. I will not hurt the boy by
letting him know that his mother has supported him, and
remember, Clara, that he can only hear it through you.
Nobody knows that I am `Quigg' but you."
Miss Vance lifted her eyebrows. "Nothing can need a
lie," she quoted calmly. Presently she said earnestly,
"Frances, you are making a mistake. Somebody ought to
tell you the truth. There is no reason why your whole
being should be buried in that man. He should stand on
his own feet, now. You can be all that he needs as a
mother, and yet live out your own life. It is broader
than his will ever be. At your age, and with your
capabilities, you should marry again. Think of the many
long years that are before you."
"I have thought of them," said Mrs. Waldeaux slowly. "I
have had lovers who came close to me as friends, but I
never for a moment was tempted to marry one of them.
No, Clara. When the devil drove my father to hand me
over--innocent child as I was--to a man like Robert
Waldeaux, he killed in me the capacity for that kind of
love. It is not in me." She turned her strenuous face
to the sea and was silent. "It is not in me," she
repeated after a while. "I have but one feeling, and
that is for my boy. It is growing on me absurdly, too."
She laughed nervously. "I used to be conscious of other
people in the world, but now, if I see a boy or man, I
see only what George was or will be at his age; if I read
a book, it only suggests what George will say of it. I
am like one of those plants that have lost their own sap
and color, and suck in their life from another. It
scares me sometimes."
Miss Vance smiled with polite contempt. No doubt Frances
had a shrewd business faculty, but in other matters she
was not ten years old.
"And George will marry some time," she said curtly.
"Oh, I hope so! And soon. Then I shall have a daughter.
I know just the kind of a wife George will choose,"
she chattered on eagerly. "I understand him so
thoroughly that I can understand her. But where could he
find her? He is so absurdly fastidious!"
Miss Vance was silent and thoughtful a moment. Then she
came closer. "I will tell you where to find her," she
said, in a low voice. "I have thought of it for a long
time. It seems to me that Providence actually made Lucy
Dunbar for George."
"Really?" Mrs. Waldeaux drew her self up stiffly.
"Wait, Frances. Lucy has been with me for three years.
I know her. She is a sincere, modest, happy little
thing. Not too clever. She is an heiress, too. And her
family is good; and all underground, which is another
advantage. You can mould her as you choose. She loves
you already."
"Or is it that she----?"
"You have no right to ask that!" said Miss Vance quickly.
"No, I am ashamed of myself." Mrs. Waldeaux reddened.
A group of girls came up the deck. Both women scanned
the foremost one critically. "I like that wholesome,
candid look of her," said Miss Vance.
"Oh, she is well enough," said Frances. "But I am sure
George does not like yellow hair. Nothing but an
absolutely beautiful woman will attract him."
"An artist," said Miss Vance hastily, "would tell you her
features were perfect. And her flesh tints----"
"For Heaven's sake, Clara, don't dissect the child. Who
is that girl with the red cravat? Your maid?"
"It is not a cravat, it's an Indian scarf. If it only
were clean----" Miss Vance looked uneasy and perplexed.
"She is not my maid. She is Fraulein Arpent. The Ewalts
brought her as governess from Paris, don't you remember?
They sent the girls to Bryn Mawr last week and turned her
adrift, almost penniless. She wished to go back to
France. I engaged her as assistant chaperone for the
Mrs. Waldeaux's eyebrows went up significantly. She
never commented in words on the affairs of others, but
her face always was indiscreet. George, who had come up
in time to hear the last words, was not so
scrupulous. He surveyed the young woman through his
spectacles as she passed again, with cold disapproval.
"French or German?" he asked.
"I really don't know. She has a singular facility in
tongues," said Miss Vance.
"Well, that is not the companion _I_ should have chosen
for those innocent little girls," he said
authoritatively, glad to be disagreeable to his cousin.
"She looks like a hawk among doves."
"The woman is harmless enough," said Miss Vance tartly.
"She speaks exquisite French."
"But what does she say in it?" persisted George. "She is
vulgar from her red pompon to her boots. She has the
swagger of a soubrette and she has left a trail of
perfume behind her--pah! I confess I am surprised at
you, Miss Vance. You do not often slip in your
"Don't make yourself unpleasant, George," said his mother
gently. Miss Vance smiled icily, and as the girls came
near again, stopped them and stood talking to Mlle.
Arpent with an aggressive show of familiarity.
"Why do you worry Clara?" said Mrs. Waldeaux. "She
knows she has made a mistake. What do you think of that
little blonde girl?" she asked presently, watching him
anxiously. "She has remarkable beauty, certainly; but
there is something finical--precise----"
"Take care. She will hear you," said George. "Beauty,
eh? Oh, I don't know," indifferently. "She is passably
pretty. I have never seen a woman yet whose beauty
satisfied ME."
Mrs. Waldeaux leaned back with a comfortable little
laugh. "But you must not be so hard to please, my son.
You must bring me my daughter soon," she said.
"Not very soon. I have some thing else to think of than
marriage for the next ten years."
Just then Dr. Watts came up and asked leave to present
his friend Perry. The doctor, like all young men who
knew Mrs. Waldeaux, had succumbed to her peculiar charm,
which was only that of a woman past her youth who had
strong personal magnetism and not a spark of coquetry.
George's friends all were sure that they would fall in
love with a woman just like her--but not a man of
them ever thought of falling in love with her.
Young Perry, in twenty minutes, decided that she was the
most brilliant and agreeable of companions. He had
talked, and she had spoken only with her listening,
sympathetic eyes. He was always apt to be voluble. On
this occasion he was too voluble.
"You are from Weir, I think, in Delaware, Mrs. Waldeaux?"
he asked. "I must have seen the name of the town with
yours on the list of passengers, for the story of a woman
who once lived there has been haunting me all day. I
have not seen nor thought of her for years, and I could
not account for my sudden remembrance of her."
"Who was she?" asked George, trying to save his mother
from Perry, who threatened to be a bore.
"Her name was Pauline Felix. You have heard her story,
Mrs. Waldeaux?"
"Yes" said Frances coldly. "I have heard her story. Can
you find my shawl, George?"
But Perry was conscious of no rebuff, and turned
cheerfully to George. "It was one of those dramas of
real life, too unlikely to put into a novel. She was
the daughter of a poor clergyman in Weir, a devout, good
man, I believe. She had marvellous beauty and a devilish
disposition. She ran away, lived a wild life in Paris,
and became the mistress of a Russian Grand Duke. Her
He could not have told why he stopped. Mrs. Waldeaux
still watched him, attentive, but the sympathetic smile
had frozen into icy civility. She had the old-fashioned
modesty of her generation. What right had this young man
to speak of "mistresses" to her? Clara's girls within
hearing too! She rose when he paused, bowed, and hurried
to them, like a hen fluttering to protect her chicks.
"He was talking to me of a woman," she said excitedly to
Clara, "who is never mentioned by decent people."
"Yes, I heard him," said Miss Vance. "Poor Pauline! Her
career was always a mystery to me. I was at school with
her, and she was the most generous, lovable girl! Yet
she came to a wretched end," turning to her flock, her
tone growing didactic. "One is never safe, you see. One
must always be on guard."
"Oh, my dear!" cried Frances impatiently. "You
surely don't mean to class these girls and me with
Pauline Felix! Come, come!"
"None of us is safe," repeated Clara stiffly. "Somebody
says there is a possible vice in the purest soul, and it
may lie perdu there until old age. But it will break out
some day."
Mrs. Waldeaux looked, laughing, at the eager, blushing
faces around her. "It is not likely to break out in us,
girls, eh! Really, Clara," she said, in a lower tone,
"that seems to me like wasted morality. Women of our
class are in no more danger of temptation to commit great
crimes than they are of finding tigers in their
drawing-rooms. Pauline Felix was born vicious. No woman
could fall as she did, who was not rotten to the core."
A sudden shrill laugh burst from the French woman, who
had been looking at Mrs. Waldeaux with insolent, bold
eyes. But as she laughed, her head fell forward and she
swung from side to side.
"It is nothing," she cried, "I am only a little faint.
I must go below."
The ship was now crossing short, choppy waves. The
passengers scattered rapidly. George took his mother to
her stateroom, and there she stayed until land was
sighted on the Irish coast. Clara and her companions
also were forced to keep to their berths.
During the speechless misery of the first days Mrs.
Waldeaux was conscious that George was hanging over her,
tender as a mother with a baby. She commanded him to
stay on deck, for each day she saw that he, too, grew
more haggard. "Let me fight it out alone," she would beg
of him. "My worst trouble is that I cannot take care of
He obeyed her at last, and would come down but once
during the day, and then for only a few hurried minutes.
His mother was alarmed at the ghastliness of his face and
the expression of anxious wretchedness new to it. "His
eye avoids mine craftily, like that of an insane man,"
she told herself, and when the doctor came, she asked him
whether sea-sickness affected the brain.
On the last day of the voyage the breeze was from land,
and with the first breath of it Frances found her vigor
suddenly return. She rose and dressed herself. George
had not been near her that day. "He must be very ill,"
she thought, and hurried out. "Is Mr. Waldeaux in
his stateroom?" she asked the steward.
"No, madam. He is on deck. All the passengers are on
deck," the man added, smiling. Land is in sight."
Land! And George had not come to tell her! He must be
desperately ill!
She groped up the steps, holding by the brass rail. "I
will give him a fine surprise!" she said to herself. "I
can take care of him, now. To-night we shall be on shore
and this misery all over. And then the great joy will
She came out on deck. The sunshine and cold pure wind
met her. She looked along the crowded deck for her
invalid. Every-body was in holiday clothes, every-body
was smiling and talking at once. Ah! there he was!
He was leaning over Frances' steamer chair, on which a
woman lay indolently. He was in rude health, laughing,
his face flushed, his eyes sparkling.
Looking up, he saw his mother and came hastily to meet
her. The laugh was gone. "So you came up?" he said
impatiently. "I would have called you in time.
I---- Mother!" He caught her by the arm. "Wait, I must
see you alone for a minute." Urged by the amazed fright
in her face, he went on desperately, "I have something to
tell you. I intended to break it to you. I don't want
to hurt you, God knows. But I have not been idle in
these days. I have found your daughter. She is here."
He led her up to the chair. The girl's head was wrapped
in a veil and turned from her.
Mrs. Waldeaux held out her hands. "Lucy! Lucy Dunbar!"
she heard herself say.
"Mais non! Cest moi!" said a shrill voice, and Mlle.
Arpent, turning her head lazily, looked at her, smiling.
Clara Vance had her faults, but nobody could deny that,
in this crisis, she acted with feeling and tact. She
ignored mademoiselle and her lover, whose bliss was in
evidence on deck all day, and took possession of Mrs.
Waldeaux, caring for her as tenderly as if she had been
some poor wretch sentenced to death. "She has no
intellect left except her ideas about George," she told
herself, "and if he turns his back on her for life in
this way---- She never was too sane!" shaking her head
She thought it best to talk frankly of the matter to
little Lucy Dunbar, and was relieved to find her ready to
joke and laugh at it. "No bruise in that tender heart!"
thought Clara, who was anxious as a mother for her girls.
"We all worshipped Mr. George," said Lucy saucily. "I,
most of all. He is so cold, so exalted and ah--h, so
good-looking! Like a Greek god. But he never gave
a look to poor little me! The fraulein came on deck as
soon as we all went down with sea-sickness, and bewitched
him with her eyes. It must have been her eyes; they are
yellow--witch's eyes. Or maybe that cheap smell about
her is a love-philter! Or was it just soul calling to
soul? I should have said the fraulein had the soul of a
milliner. She put great ideas into the hat that she
altered for me," Lucy added, with an unsteady laugh.
"I care nothing for them or their souls," said Miss Vance
crossly. "It is his mother that I think of."
"But really," said Lucy, "mademoiselle is quite raw
material. No ideas--no manners whatever. Mrs. Waldeaux
may mould her into something good and fine."
"She will not try. She will never accept that creature
as a daughter."
"She seems to me to be indifferent," said Lucy. "She
does not see how terrible it is. She was leaning over
the bulwark just now, laughing at the queer gossoons
selling their shillalahs."
"Oh, she will laugh at Death himself when he comes to
fetch her, and see something `queer'in him," said Clara.
But her little confidence with Lucy had relieved her.
The child cared nothing for George, that was plain.
Mademoiselle, watching Mrs. Waldeaux closely all day, was
not deceived by her laugh. "The old lady, your mother,"
she said to George, "is what you men call `game.' She
has blood and breeding. More than you, monsieur. That
keeps her up. I did not count on that," said the young
woman thoughtfully.
George took off his glasses and rubbed them nervously as
he talked. "I don't understand my mother at all! She
has always been very considerate and kind. I never
thought that she would receive my wife, when I brought
her to her, with calm civility. Not a kiss nor a
"A kiss? A blessing for me?" Lisa laughed and nodded
meaningly to the sea and world at large. "She could
hardly have blessed a woman lolling full length in her
chair," she thought. "It IS her chair. And I have
unseated her for life curling herself up in the rugs.
Yet she had a twinge of pity for the old lady. Even the
wild boar has its affections and moments of gentleness.
A week ago Lisa could have trampled the life out of this
woman who had slandered her dead mother, with the fury of
any wild beast.
For she was Pauline Felix's daughter. It was her
mother's name that Mrs. Waldeaux had said could not be
spoken by any decent woman. Lisa had been but a child,
but she had held her mother's head close to her stout
little heart as she lay dying--that awful mysterious
death of which the young man had tried to make a telling
story. The girl crossed herself now and closed her tired
eyes as she thought of it. She had been a wicked child
and a wicked woman, but she knew certainly that the
Virgin and her Son had come near to her that day, and had
helped her.
George, who was poring fondly on her face, exclaimed:
"Your eyes are wet. You are in trouble!"
"I was thinking of my mother," she said gently, holding
out her hand to him.
He took it and said presently, "Will you not talk to me
about her, Lisa? You have not told me any thing of
your people, my darling. Nor of yourself. Why, I don't
even know whether you are French or German."
"Oh, you shall hear the whole story when we are married,"
she replied softly, a wicked glitter in her eyes. "Some
of the noblest blood in Europe is in my veins. I will
give you my genealogical tree to hang up in that old
homestead of yours. It will interest the people of
Weir--and please your mother."
"It is good in you to think of her," he said, tenderly
looking down at her.
He was not blind. He saw the muddy skin, the thick lips,
the soiled, ragged lace. They would have disgusted him
in another woman.
But this was--Lisa. There was no more to be said.
These outside trifles would fall off when she came into
his life. Even with them she was the breath and soul of
She saw the difference between them more sharply than he
did. She had been cast for a low part in the play, and
knew it. Sometimes she had earned the food which kept
her alive in ways of which this untempted young priest
had never even heard. There was something in this
clean past of his, in his cold patrician face and
luxurious habits new to her, and she had a greedy relish
for it all.
She had been loved before, caressed as men caress a dog,
kicking it off when it becomes troublesome. George's
boyish shyness, his reverent awe of her, startled her.
"He thinks Lisa Arpent a jeune fille--like these
others. A little white rose!" she thought, and laughed.
She would not tell him why she laughed, and muttered an
oath when he stupidly insisted on knowing.
He was the first lover who had ever believed in her.
She had begun this affair simply to punish the "old
woman"; the man in it had counted for nothing. But now,
as they crossed the gangway, she looked up at him with
eyes that for the moment were honest and true as a
child's, and her firm hand suddenly trembled in his.
Three weeks later Mrs. Waldeaux came into Miss Vance's
little parlor on Half Moon Street. Her face was red from
the wind, her eyes sparkled, and she hummed some gay air
which an organ ground outside. Clara laid down her
"Where have you been, Frances? It is a week since I saw
"Oh, everywhere! George has been showing me London!"
She sat down before the fire with a gurgle of comfort
and dropped her bonnet and gloves on the floor beside
her. "Yesterday we spent at the Museum. George
explained the Elgin marbles to me. I don't suppose any
body in London has studied their history so thoroughly.
I did wish you could have heard him. And the day before
I was at the House--in the ladies' gallery. I can't
imagine how he got admission for me. He IS so clever!"
"We are going down to Canterbury for a couple of days,"
said Clara. "We start at noon. Will you go with us?"
"No, I think not. George does not seem to care for
cathedrals. And he has plans for me, no doubt."
Miss Vance brushed the bonnet and carefully rolled up the
strings. "Are you satisfied? Is London the London you
have been thinking of these twenty years?" she asked.
"Oh, a thousand times more! And George has been with me
every day--every day!"
Miss Vance picked up the gloves, looking impatiently at
the poor lady's happy face. "Now she has gone off into
one of her silly transports of delight, and for no
earthly reason!"
"I noticed that George has seen very little of Lisa
lately," she said tentatively. "If he really means to
marry her----"
"Marry her! Clara! You surely never feared THAT?"
"He certainly told us plainly enough that he would do
it," said Miss Vance testily.
"Oh, you don't understand him! You have had so little to
do with young men. They are all liable to attacks like
that--as to measles and scarlet fever. But they pass
off. Now, George is not as susceptible as most of them.
But," lowering her voice, "he was madly in love with the
butcher's Kate when he was ten, and five years afterward
offered to marry the widow Potts. I thought he had
outgrown the disease. There has been nothing of the kind
since, until this fancy. It is passing off. Of course
it is mortifying enough to think that such a poor
creature as that could attract him for an hour."
"I was to blame," Miss Vance said, with an effort. "I
brought her in his way. But how was I to know that she
was such a cat, and he such---- If he should marry
Mrs. Waldeaux laughed angrily. "You are too absurd,
Clara. A flirtation with such a woman was degrading
enough, but George is not quite mad. He has not even
spoken of her for days. Oh, here he comes! That is his
step on the stairs." She ran to the door. "He found
that I was out and has followed me. He is the most
ridiculous mother's boy! Well, George, here I am! Have
you thought of some thing new for me to see?" She
glanced at Miss Vance, well pleased that she should see
the lad's foolish fondness for her.
George forced a smile. He looked worn and jaded. Miss
Vance noticed that his usually neat cravat was awry and
his hands were gloveless. "Yes," he said. "It is a little
church. The oldest in London. I want to show it to
Miss Vance tied on Mrs. Waldeaux's bonnet, smoothing her
hair affectionately. "There are too many gray hairs
here for your age, Frances," she said. "George, you
should keep your mother from worry and work. Don't let
her hair grow gray so soon."
George bowed. "I hope I shall do my duty," he said, with
dignity. "Come, mother."
As they drove down Piccadilly Mrs. Waldeaux chattered
eagerly to her son. She could not pour out her teeming
fancies about this new world to any body else, but she
could not talk fast enough to him. Had they not both
been waiting for a lifetime to see this London?
"The thing," she said earnestly, as she settled herself
beside him, "the thing that has impressed me most, I
think, were those great Ninevite gods yesterday. I sat
for hours before them while you were gone. There they
sit, their hands on their knees, and stare out of their
awful silence at the London fog, just as they stared at
the desert before Christ was born. I felt so miserably
young and sham!"
George adjusted his cravat impatiently. "I'm afraid I
don't quite follow you, mother. These little flights of
yours---- They belong to your generation, I suppose. It
was a more sentimental one than mine. You are not
very young. And you certainly are not a sham. The
statues are interesting, but I fail to see why they
should have had such an effect upon you."
"Oh!" said Frances. "But you did not stay alone with
them as long as I did, or you would have felt it too.
Now I am sure that the debates in Parliament impressed
you just as they did me?"
George said nothing, but she went on eagerly. It never
occurred to her that he could be bored by her impressions
in these greatest days of her life. "To see a half-dozen
well-groomed young men settle the affairs of India and
Australia in a short, indifferent colloquy! How shy and
awkward they were, too! They actually stuttered out
their sentences in their fear of posing or seeming
pretentious. So English! Don't you think it was very
English, George?"
"I really did not think about it at all. I have had very
different things to occupy me," said George, coldly
superior to all mothers and Parliaments. This is the
The cab stopped before an iron door between two shops
in the most thronged part of Bishopsgate Street. He
pushed it open, and they passed suddenly out of the
hurrying crowd into the solemn silence of an ancient
dingy building. A dim light fell through a noble window
of the thirteenth century upon cheap wooden pews. The
church was empty, and had that curious significance and
half-spoken message of its own which belongs to a vacant
"I remember," whispered Frances, awestruck. "This was
built by the first Christian convert, St. Ethelburga."
"You believe every thing, mother!" said George irritably.
She wandered about, looking at the sombre walls and
inscriptions, and then back uneasily, to his moody face.
Suddenly she came up to him as he stood leaning against
a pillar. "Something has happened!" she said. "You did
not bring me here to look at the church. You have
something to tell me."
The young man looked at her and turned away. "Yes, I
have. It isn't a death," he said, with a nervous laugh.
"You need not look in that way. It is--something
very different. I--I was married in this church
yesterday to Lisa Arpent."
Frances did not at first comprehend the great disaster
that bulked black across her whole life, but, woman-like,
grasped at a fragment of it.
"You were married and I was not there! Yesterday! My
boy was married and he forgot me!"
"Mother! Don't look like that! Here, sit down,"
grabbing her helplessly by the arms. "I didn't want to
hurt you. I brought you here to tell you quietly. Cry!
Why don't you cry if you're worried! Oh! I believe she's
dying!" he shouted, staring around the empty church.
She spoke at last.
"You were married and I couldn't say God bless you! You
forgot me! I never forgot you, George, for one minute
since you were born."
"Mother, what fool talk is that? I only didn't want a
scene. I kept away from Lisa for weeks so as not to vex
you. Forget you! I think I have been very considerate
of you under the circumstances. You have a dislike
to Lisa, a most groundless dislike----"
"Oh, what is Lisa? " said Frances haughtily. "It is that
you have turned away from me. She has nothing to do with
the relation between you and me. How can any woman come
between me and my son?" She held up her hands. "Why,
you are my boy, Georgy. You are all I have!"
He looked at the face, curiously pinched and drawn as if
by death, that was turned up to his, and shrugged his
shoulders impatiently. "Now this is exactly what I tried
to escape yesterday. Am I never to be a man, nor have
the rights of a man? You must accept the situation,
mother. Lisa is my wife, and dearer to me than all the
world beside."
He saw her lips move. "Dearer? Dearer than me!"
She sat quite still after that, and did not seem to hear
when he spoke. Something in her silence frightened him.
She certainly had been a fond, indulgent mother, and he
perhaps had been abrupt in cutting the tie between them.
It must be cut. He had promised Lisa the whole matter
should be settled to-day. But his mother certainly
was a weak woman, and he must be patient with her.
Secretly he approved the manliness of his patience.
"The cab is waiting, dear," he said. She rose and walked
to the street, standing helpless there while the crowd
jostled her. Was she blind and deaf? He put her into
the cab and sat down opposite to her. "Half Moon
Street," he called to the driver.
"Mother," touching her on the knee.
"Yes, George."
"I told him to drive to Half Moon Street. I will take
you to Clara Vance. We may as well arrange things now,
finally. You do not like my wife. That is clear. For
the present, therefore, it is better that we should
separate. I have consulted with Lisa, and she has
suggested that you shall join Clara Vance's party while
we go our own way."
She stared at him. "Do you mean that you and I are not
to see London together? Not to travel through Europe
He pitied her a little, and, leaning forward, kissed her
clammy lips. "The thing will seem clearer to you
to-morrow, no doubt. I must leave you now. Go to Clara
and her girls. They all like to pet and make much of
you. I will bring Lisa in the morning, to talk business
a little. She has an uncommonly clear head for business.
Good-by, dear!" He stopped the cab, jumped out, and
walked briskly to the corner where his wife was waiting
for him.
"You have told her?" she asked breathlessly.
"Yes. It's over."
"That we must separate?"
"Yes, yes. I told her you thought it best."
"And she was not willing?"
"Well, she did not approve very cordially," said George,
evading her eye.
"But she shall approve!" hanging upon his arm, her
burning eyes close to his face. "You are mine, George!
I love you. I will share you with nobody!" She whistled
shrilly, and a hansom stopped.
"What are you going to do, darling?"
"Follow her. I will tell her something that will make
her willing to separate. Get in, get in! "
Frances, when in trouble, went out of doors among the
trees as naturally as other women take to their beds.
Lisa's sharp eyes saw her sitting in the Green Park as
they passed. The mist, which was heavy as rain, hung in
drops on the stretches of sward and filled the far aisles
of trees with a soft gray vapor. The park was deserted
but for an old man who asked Mrs. Waldeaux for the
penny's hire for her chair. As he hobbled away, he
looked back at her curiously.
"She gave him a shilling!" exclaimed Lisa, as he passed
them. "I told you she was not fit to take care of
"But why not wait until to-morrow to talk of business?
She is hurt and unnerved just now, and she--she does not
like you, Lisa."
"I am not afraid. She will be civil. She is like
Chesterfield. `Even death cannot kill the courtesy in
her.' You don't seem to know the woman, George. Come."
But George hung back and loitered among the trees. He
was an honest fellow, though slow of wit; he loved his
mother and was penetrated to the quick just now by a
passionate fondness for his wife. Two such good, clever
women! Why couldn't they hit it off together?
"George?" said Frances, hearing his steps.
Lisa came up to her. She rose, and smiled to her son's
wife, and after a moment held out her hand.
But the courtesy which Lisa had expected suddenly enraged
her. "No! There need be no pretence between us," she
said. "You are not glad to see me. There is no pretence
in me. I am honest. I did not come here to make
compliments, but to talk business."
"George said to-morrow. Can it not wait until
"No. What is to do--do it! That is my motto. George,
come here! Tell your mother what we have decided. Oh,
very well, if you prefer that I should speak. We go to
Paris at once, Mrs. Waldeaux, and will take apartments
there. You will remain with Miss Vance."
"Yes, I know. I am to remain----" Frances passed her
hand once or twice over her mouth irresolutely. "But
Oxford, George?" she said. "You forget your
George took off his spectacles and wiped them.
"Speak! Have you no mind of your own?" his wife
whispered. "I will tell you, then, madam. He has done
with that silly whim! A priest, indeed! I am Catholic,
and priests do not marry. He goes to Paris to study art.
I see a great future for him, in art."
Frances stared at him, and then sat down, dully. What
did it matter? Paris or Oxford? She would not be there.
What did it matter?
Lisa waited a moment for some comment, and then began
sharply, "Now, we come to affaires! Listen, if you
please. I am a woman of business. Plain speaking is
always best, to my idea."
Mrs. Waldeaux drew herself together and turned her eyes
on her with sudden apprehension, as she would on a
snapping dog. The woman's tones threatened attack.
"To live in Paris, to work effectively, your son must
have money. I brought him no dot, alas! Except"--with
a burlesque courtesy--"my beauty and my blood. I must
know how much money we shall have before I design the
"George has his income," said his mother hastily.
"Ah! You are alarmed, madam! You do not like plain
words about the affaires? George tells me that
although he is long ago of age, he has as yet received no
portion of his father's estates."
"Lisa! You do not understand! Mother, I did not
complain. You have always given me my share of the
income from the property. I have no doubt it was a fair
share--as much as if my father had left me my portion,
according to custom."
"Yes, it was a fair share," said Frances.
"Ah! you smile, madam!" interrupted Lisa. "I am told it
is a vast property, a grand chateau--many securities! M.
Waldeaux pere made a will, on dit, incredibly
foolish, with no mention of his son. But now that this
son comes to marry, to become the head of the house, if
you were a French mother, if you were just, you
would---- You appear to be amused, madam?"
For Mrs. Waldeaux was laughing. She could not speak for
a moment. The tears stood in her eyes.
"The matter has somewhat of droll to you?"
"It has its humorous side," said Frances. "I quite
understand, George, that you will need more money to
support a wife. I will double your allowance. It shall
be paid quarterly."
"You would prefer to do that?" hesitated George. "Rather
than to make over a son's share of the property to me
absolutely? Some of the landed estate or securities? I
have probably a shrewder business talent than yours, and
if I had control could make my property more profitable."
"I should prefer to pay your income as before--yes," said
Frances quietly.
"Well, as you choose. It is yours to give, of course."
George coughed and shuffled to conquer his
disappointment. Then he said, "Have it your own way."
He put his hand affectionately on her shoulder. "And
when you have had your little outing and go home to Weir,
you will be glad to have us come to you, for a
visit--won't you, mother? You haven't said so."
"Why should I say so? It is your home, George, yours and
your wife's." She caught his hand and held it to her
But Lisa had not so easily conquered her disappointment.
This woman was coolly robbing George of his rights and
was going instead to kill for him a miserable little
fatted calf! Bah! This woman, who had maligned her dead
She should have her punishment now. In one blow,
straight from the shoulder.
"But you should know, madam," she said gently, "who it is
your son has married before you take her home. I assure
you that you can present me to the society in Weir with
pride. I have royal blood----"
"Lisa!" George caught her arm. "It is not necessary.
You forget----"
"Oh, I forget nothing! I said royal blood. My father,
madam, was the brother of the Czar, and my mother was
Pauline Felix. You don't seem to understand----" after
a moment's pause. " It was my mother whose name you
said should not cross any decent woman's lips--my
mother----" She broke down into wild sobs.
"When I said it I did not know that you---- I am sorry."
Frances suddenly walked away, pulling open her collar.
It seemed to her that there was no breath in the world.
George followed her. "Did you know this?" she said at
last, in a hoarse whisper. "And you are--married to her?
There is no way of being rid of her?"
"No, there is no way," said Waldeaux stoutly. "And if
there were, I should not look for it. I am sorry that
there is any smirch on Lisa's birth. But even her
mother, I fancy, was not altogether a bad lot. Bygones
must be bygones. I love my wife, mother. She's worth
loving, as you'd find if you would take the trouble to
know her. Her dead mother shall not come between her and
"She's like her, George!" said Mrs. Waldeaux, with white,
trembling lips. "I ought to have seen it at first.
Those luring, terrible eyes. It is Pauline Felix's heart
that is in her. Rotten to the core--rotten----"
"I don't care. I'll stand by her." But George's face,
too, began to lose its color. He shook himself
uncomfortably. "The thing's done now," he muttered.
"Certainly, certainly," Frances repeated mechanically.
"Tell her that I am sorry I spoke of her mother before
her. It was rude--brutal. I ask her pardon."
"Oh, she'll soon forget that! Lisa has a warm heart, if
you take her right. There's lots of hearty fun in her
too. You'll like that. Are you going now? Good-by,
dear. We will come and see you in the morning. The
thing will not seem half so bad when you have slept on
He paused uncertainly, as she still stood motionless.
She was facing the grim walls of Stafford House, looming
dimly through the mist, her eyes fixed as if she were
studying the sky line.
"George," she said. "You don't understand. You will come
to me always. But that woman never shall cross my
"Mother! Do you mean what you say?"
It was a man, not a shuffling boy that spoke now. "Do
you mean that we are not to go to you to-morrow? Not to
go home in October? Never----"
"Your home is open to you. But Pauline Felix's child is
no more to me than a wild beast--or a snake in the grass,
and never can be." She faced him steadily now.
"There she is," said Frances, looking at the little black
figure under the trees, "and here am I. You can choose
between us."
"Those whom God hath joined together," muttered George.
"You know that."
"You have known her for three weeks," cried Frances
vehemently. "I gave you life. I have been your slave
every hour since you were born. I have lived but for
you. Which of us has God joined together?"
"Mother, you're damnably unreasonable! It is the course
of nature for a man to leave his parents and cleave to
his wife."
"Yes , I know," she said slowly. "You can keep that foul
thing in your life, but it never shall come into mine."
"Then neither will I. I will stand by my wife."
"That is the end, then?"
She waited, her eyes on his.
He did not speak.
She turned and left him, disappearing slowly in the rain
and mist.
Two days later Mr. Perry met Miss Vance in Canterbury and
told her of the marriage. She hurried back to London.
She could not hide her distress and dismay from the two
"How did she force him into it? One is almost driven to
believe in hypnotism," she cried.
Lucy Dunbar had no joke to make about it to-day. The
merry little girl was silent, having, she said, a
"You've had too much cathedral!" said Miss Hassard. "And
the whole church is wretchedly out of drawing!"
Jean Hassard had studied art at Pond City in Dakota, and
her soul's hope had been to follow Marie Bashkirtseff's
career in Paris. But her father had morally handcuffed
her and put her into Clara's custody for a year. It was
hard! To be led about to old churches, respectable as
her grandmother, when she might have been studying
the nude in a mixed class! She rattled her chains
disagreeably at every step.
"The mesalliance is on the other side," she told Lucy
privately. "A woman of the world who knew life, to marry
that bloodless, finical priest!"
"He was not bloodless. He loved her."
Mr. Perry came up with them from Canterbury, being
secretly alarmed about Miss Dunbar's headache. Nobody
took proper care of that lovely child! He had attached
himself to Miss Vance's party in England; he dropped in
every evening to tell of his interviews with Gladstone or
Mrs. Oliphant or an artist or a duke. It was delightful
to the girls to come so close to these unknown great
folks. They felt quite like peris, just outside the
court of heaven, with the gate a little bit ajar. This
evening Mr. Perry promised it should open for them. He
was going to bring a real prince, whom he familiarly
dubbed "a jolly fellow," to call upon Miss Vance.
"Who is the man?" said Clara irritably. "Be careful, Mr.
Perry. I have had enough of foreign adventurers."
"Oh, the Hof Kalender will post you as to Prince
Wolfburgh. I looked him up in it. He is head of one of
the great mediatized families. Would have been reigning
now if old Kaiser Wilhelm had not played Aaron's serpent
and gobbled up all the little kings. Wolfburgh has kept
all his land and castles, however."
"Very well. Let us see what the man is like," Miss Vance
said loftily.
Mrs. Waldeaux was not in the house when they arrived.
Every day she went early in the morning to the Green
Park, where she had seen George last, and wandered about
until night fell. She thought that he had gone to Paris,
and that she was alone in London. But somehow she came
nearer to him there.
When she found that Clara had arrived, she knew that she
would be full of pity for her. She came down to dinner
in full dress, told some funny stories, and laughed
No. She had not missed them. The days had gone merry as
a marriage bell with her even after her son and his wife
had run away to Paris.
Mr. Perry congratulated her warmly on the match.
"The lady is very fetching, indeed," he said. "I
remarked that the first day on ship-board. Oh, yes, I
know a diamond when I see it. But your son picks it up.
Lucky fellow! He picks it up!" He told Miss Vance that
there was a curious attraction about her friend, "who, by
the way, should always wear brown velvet and lace."
Miss Vance drew little Lucy aside after dinner. "Do you
see," she said, "the tears in her eyes? It wrenches my
heart. She has become an old woman in a day. I feel as
if Frances were dead, and that was her ghost joking and
Lucy said nothing, but she went to Frances and sat beside
her all evening. When the prince arrived and was
presented, going on his triumphant way through the room,
she nestled closer, whispering, "What do you think of
"He looks very like our little fat Dutch baker in
Weir--he has the same air of patronage," said Frances
coldly. She was offended that Lucy should notice the man
at all. Was it not she whom George should have married?
How happy they would have been--her boy and this
sweet, neat little girl! And already Lucy was curious
about so-called princes!
When his Highness came back to them she rose hastily and
went to her own room.
Late that night Miss Vance found her there in the dark,
sitting bolt upright in her chair, still robed in velvet
and lace. Clara regarded her sternly, feeling that it
was time to take her in hand.
"You have not forgiven George?" she said abruptly.
Mrs. Waldeaux looked up, but said nothing.
"Is he coming back soon?"
"He never shall come back while that woman is with him."
Miss Vance put her lamp on the table and sat down.
"Frances," she said deliberately, "I know what this is to
you. It would have been better for you that George had
"Much better."
"But he didn't die. He married Lisa Arpent. Now it is
your duty to accept it. Make the best of it."
"If a lizard crawls into my house will you tell me to
accept it? Make the best of it? Oh, my God! The slimy
vile creature!"
"She is not vile! I tell you there are lovable qualities
in Lisa. And even if she were as wicked as her mother,
what right have you---- You, too, are a sinner before
"No," said Mrs. Waldeaux gravely, "I am not. I have
lived a good Christian life. I may have been tempted to
commit sin, but I cannot remember that I ever did it."
Miss Vance looked at her aghast. "But surely your
religion teaches you---- Why, you are sinning now, when
you hate this girl!"
"I do not hate her. God made her as he made the lizard.
I simply will not allow her to cross my path. What has
religion to do with it? I am clean and she is vile.
That is all there is to say."
Both women were silent. Mrs. Waldeaux got up at last and
caught Clara by the arm. She was trembling violently.
"No, I'm not ill. I'm well enough. But you don't understand!
That woman has killed George. I spent twenty
years in making him what he is. I worked--there was
nothing but him for me in the world. I didn't spare
myself. To make him a gentleman--a Christian. And
in a month she turns him into a thing like herself. He
is following her vulgar courses. I saw the difference
after he had lived with her for one day. He is tainted."
She stood staring into the dull lamp. "She may not live
long, though," she said. "She doesn't look strong----"
"Frances! For God's sake!"
"Well, what of it? Why shouldn't I wish her gone? The
harm--the harm! Do you remember that Swedish maid I
had--a great fair woman? One day she was stung by a
green fly, and in a week she was dead, her whole body a
mass of corruption! Oh, God lets such things be done!
Nothing but a green fly----" She shook off Clara's hold,
drawing her breath with difficulty. "That is Lisa. It
is George that is being poisoned, body and soul. It's a
pity to see my boy killed by a thing like that--it's a
Miss Vance was too frightened to argue with her. She
brought her wrapper, loosened her hair, soothing her in
little womanish ways. But her burning curiosity drove
her presently to ask one question.
"How can they live?"
"I have doubled his allowance."
"Frances! You will work harder to make money for Lisa
"Oh, what is money!" cried Frances, pushing her away
Miss Vance persuaded Mrs. Waldeaux to go with her to
Scotland. During the weeks that followed Frances always
found Lucy Dunbar at her side in the trains or on the
"She is a very companionable child," she told Clara. "I
often forget that I am any older than she. She never
tires of hearing stories of George's scrapes or his queer
sayings when he was a child. Such stories, I think, are
usually tedious, but George was a peculiar boy."
Mr. Perry's search for notorieties took him also to
Scotland, and, oddly enough, Prince Wolfburgh's search
for amusement led him in the same direction. They met
him and his cousin, Captain Odo Wolfburgh, at Oban, and
again on the ramparts of Stirling Castle, and the very
day that they arrived in Edinburgh, there, in Holyrood,
in Queen Mary's chamber, stood the pursy little man,
curling his mustache before her mirror.
Mr. Perry fell into the background with Miss Hassard.
"His Highness is becoming monotonous!" he grumbled.
"These foreigners never know when they are superfluous in
"Is he superfluous?" Jean glanced to the corner where the
prince and Lucy were eagerly searching for the blood of
Rizzio upon the steps.
"Decidedly," said Perry. "I wished to show you and Miss
Dunbar a live prince, and I did it. That is done and
over with. He has been seen and heard. There is no
reason why he should pop up here and there all over Great
Britain like a Jack-in-the-box. He's becoming a bore."
"You suspect him to be an impostor?" said Jean quickly.
"No. He's genuine enough. But we don't want any
foreigners in our caravan," stroking his red beard
"No. What do you suppose is his object?" asked Jean,
with one of her quick, furtive glances.
Mr. Perry's jaws grew red as his beard. "How can I
tell?" he said gruffly. He went on irritably, a moment
later: "Of course you see it. The fellow has no
delicacy. He makes no more secret of his plans than if
he were going to run down a rabbit. Last night at
Stirling, over his beer, he held forth upon the dimples
on Miss Dunbar's pink elbows, and asked me if her hair
were all her own. I said, at last, that American men did
not value women like sheep by their flesh and fleece and
the money they were rated at in the market. I hit him
square that time, prince or no prince!"
"Yes, you did, indeed," said Jean vaguely. Her keen eyes
followed Lucy and the prince, who were loitering through
the gallery, pausing before the faded portraits. "You
think it is only her money that draws him after us?"
"Why, of course! A fellow like that could not appreciate
Miss Dunbar's beauty and wit."
"You think Lucy witty?" said Jean dryly. "And you think
she would not marry for a title?"
"I don't believe any pure American girl would sell
herself, like a sheep in the shambles! And she is
pure! A lamb, a lily! cried Perry, growing incoherent in
his heat.
"She would not if her heart were preoccupied," said Jean
"And you think----" he said breathlessly.
But Jean only laughed, and said no more.
The guide had been paying profound deference to Prince
Wolfburgh, keeping close to his heels. Now he swung open
a door. "If your Highnesses will come this way?" he
said, bowing profoundly to Lucy.
The little girl started and hurried back to Miss Vance.
Her face was scarlet, and she laughed nervously. Prince
Wolfburgh also laughed, loudly and meaningly. He swore
at the old man and went out into the cloister where his
cousin stood smoking.
"Had enough of the old barracks?" said the captain.
"I found I was making too fast running in there," said
the prince uneasily; "I'll waken up and find that girl
married to me some day."
"Not so bad a dream," puffed his cousin.
"I'll take a train somewhere," said the prince. "But no
matter where I go, I'll find an American old woman with
a girl to marry. They all carry the Hof Kalender
in their pockets, and know every bachelor in Germany."
The captain watched him attentively. "I don't believe
those women inside mean to drive any marriage bargain
with you, Hugo," he said gruffly. "I doubt whether the
little mees would marry you if you asked her. Her dot,
I hear, is e-normous!" waving his hand upward as if to
mountain heights. "And as for beauty, she is a wild
Now, there were reasons why the captain should rejoice
when Hugo allied himself to the little mees. On the day
when he would take these hills of gold and wild rose to
himself, the captain would become the head of the house
of Wolfburgh. It was, perhaps, a mean, ungilded throne,
but by German law no nameless Yankee woman could sit upon
The prince looked at Captain Odo. "You cannot put me
into a gallop when I choose to walk," he said. "She's a
pretty girl, and a good girl, and some time I may marry
her, but not now."
Odo laughed good-humoredly, and they sauntered down the
path together.
The prince had offered to dine with Miss Vance that
evening, but sent a note to say that he was summoned to
the Highlands unexpectedly.
"It is adieu, not auf wiedersehen, I fear, with his
Highness," Miss Vance said, folding the note pensively.
She had not meant to drive a marriage bargain, and
yet--to have placed a pupil upon even such a bric-a-brac
throne as that of Wolfburgh! She looked thoughtfully at
Lucy's chubby cheeks. A princess? The man was not
objectionable in himself, either--a kindly, overgrown
"He told me," said Jean, "that he was going to a house
party at Inverary Castle."
"Whose house is that, Jean?" asked Lucy.
"It is the ancestral seat of the Dukes of Argyll."
"Oh!" Lucy gave a little sigh. Prince Hugo was
undeniably fat and very slow to catch a joke, but there
was certainly a different flavor in this talk of dukes
and ancestral seats to the gossip about the Whites and
Greens at home.
Indeed, the whole party, including even Mr. Perry,
experienced a sensation of sudden vacancy and
flatness when his Highness left them. It was as though
they had been sheltering a royal eagle that was used to
dwelling in sunlit heights unknown to them, and now they
were left on flat ground to consort with common poultry.
Miss Vance led her party slowly through Scotland and down
again to London. Mrs. Waldeaux went with them. The
girls secretly laughed together at her fine indomitable
politeness, and her violent passion for the Stuarts, and
hate of the Roundheads. But Mr. Perry was bored by her.
"What is it to us," he said, "that Queen Mary paddled
over this lake, or Cromwell's soldiers whitewashed that
fresco? Give me a clean, new American church, anyhow,
before all of your mouldy, tomby cathedrals. These
things are so many cancelled cheques to me. I have
nothing to pay on them. It is live issues that draw on
my heart. You American girls ought to be at home looking
into the negro problem, or Tammany, or the Sugar Trust,
instead of nosing into Rembrandts, or miracles at
Lourdes, or palaces. These are all back numbers. Write
n. g. on them and bury them. So, by the way, is your
Mrs. Waldeaux a back number. My own opinion is that
all men and women at fifty ought to go willingly and be
shut up in the room where the world keeps its second-hand
"Yet nobody," said Lucy indignantly, "is more careful or
tender with Mrs. Waldeaux than you!"
"That is because Mr. Perry has the genuine American awe
of people of good birth," said Jean slyly. "It is the
only trait which makes me suspect that he is a self-made
Mr. Perry, for answer, only bowed gravely. He long ago
had ceased to hide his opinion that Miss Hassard was
Frances, for her part, was sure that the young people
were glad to have her as a companion. One day she
decided to stay with them, and the next to go to New York
on the first steamer. She seemed to see life hazily, as
one over whose mind a cataract was growing. What had she
to do in Europe, she reasoned? George was gone. Her one
actual hold on the world had slipped from her. That
great mysterious thing called living was done and past
for her.
And yet--there was Kenilworth, and Scott's house?
Scott, who had been her friend and leader since she was
eight years old! And in that anthem at York minster
there was a message, which she had been waiting all of
her life to hear! And here was Lucy beside her with her
soft voice, and loving blue eyes--Lucy, who should have
been George's wife! In all of these things something
high and good called to the poor lady, which she heard
and understood as a child would the voice of its mother.
One hour she resolved to leave her son with his wife, to
go back to Weir at once and work with the poultry and
Quigg's jokes for the rest of her life. She was dead.
Let her give up and consent to be dead.
The next, she would stay where she could see George
sometimes, and try to forgive the woman who had him in
her keeping. Perhaps, after all, she was human, as Clara
said. If she could forgive Lisa, she could be happy with
these young people and live--live in this wonderful old
world, where all that was best of past ages was kept
waiting for her.
When they came to London, she went at once to
Morgan's to make a deposit, for she had been hard at work
on her jokes as she travelled, and had received her pay.
"Your son, madam," said the clerk, "drew on his account
to-day. He said he expected remittances from you. Is
this to be put to his credit?"
"My son was in London to-day?
"He has just left the house."
"Did he--he left a message for me? A letter, perhaps?"
"No, nothing, madam."
"Put the money to his credit, of course."
She went out into the narrow street and wandered along to
the Bank of England, staring up at the huge buildings.
He had been looking at them--he had walked on this very
pavement a minute ago! That might be the smoke of his
cigar, yonder!
She could easily find him. Just to look at him once; to
hold his hand! He might be ill and need her; he never
was well in foggy weather.
Then she remembered that Lisa was with him. She would
nurse him.
She called a cab, and, as she drove home, looked out at
the crowd with a hard, smiling face.
Henry Irving that night played "Shylock," and Mr. Perry
secured a box for Miss Vance. Frances went with the
others. Before the curtain rose there was a startled
movement among them, a whisper, and then Clara turned to
Mrs. Waldeaux.
"Frances, Lisa is coming into the opposite box," she
said. "She is really a beautiful woman in that
decollete gown, and her cheeks flushed, and her
eyes---- I had no idea! She is superb!"
Two men in the dress of French officers entered the box
with Lisa. They seated her, bending over her with an
empressement which, to Mrs. Waldeaux's heated fancy,
was insulting. George came last, carrying his wife's
cloak, which he placed upon a chair. One of the men
tossed his cape to him, with a familiar nod, and George
laid it aside and sat down at the back of the box.
His mother leaned forward, watching. That woman had put
her son in the place of an inferior--an attendant.
The great orchestra shook the house with a final crash,
and the curtain rose upon the Venetian plaza. Every face
in the audience was turned attentive toward it. But Mrs.
Waldeaux saw only Lisa.
A strange change came upon her as she watched her son's
wife. For months she had struggled feebly against her
hate of Lisa. Now she welcomed it; she let herself go.
Is the old story true after all? Is there some brutal
passion hiding in every human soul, waiting its chance,
even in old age? It is certain that this woman, after
her long harmless life, recognized the fury in her soul
and freed it.
"Frances," whispered Clara, "when this act is over, go
and speak to them. I will go with you. It is your
chance to put an end to this horrible separation. They
are your children."
"No. That woman is my enemy, Clara," said Mrs. Waldeaux
quietly. "I will make no terms with her."
Miss Vance sighed and turned to the stage, but Frances
still watched the opposite box. It seemed as if the
passion within her had cleared her eyes. They never
had seen George as they now saw him.
Was that her son? Was it that little priggish,
insignificant fellow that she had made a god of? He was
dull, commonplace! Satisfied to sit dumb in the
background and take orders from those bourgeois French
The play went on, but she saw nothing but George and his
There was the result of all her drudgery! The hot
summers of work in the filthy poultry yards; the grinding
out of poor jokes; the coarse, cheap underclothes (she
used to cry when she put them on, she hated them so).
Years and years of it all; and for that cold, selfish
His mother saw him leave the box, and knew that he was
"Oh, good-evening, George!" she said gayly, as he opened
the door. "A wonderful scene, wasn't it? I have always
wished to see Irving in `Hamlet.'"
"This is `Shylock,'" he said gravely, and turned to speak
to the others. They welcomed him eagerly, and made room
for him. He had lost something of the cold, blase air
which had ennobled him in the eyes of the young
women. He looked around presently, and said with a
comfortable shrug:
"It is so pleasant to talk English again! My wife
detests it. We speak only French. I feel like an alien
and outcast among you!" He laughed; his mother glanced
at him curiously. But Lucy turned her face away, afraid
that he should see it. As he talked, George noted the
clear-cut American features of the girls, and their
dainty gowns, with a keen pleasure; then he glanced
quickly at the opposite box.
"Ah!" said Jean to Mr. Perry. "The soiled lace and musk
are beginning to tell! He is tired of Lisa already!"
"I never liked the fellow," said Mr. Perry coldly. "But
he is hardly the cad that you suppose."
He fell into a gloomy silence. He had wasted two years'
salary in following Lucy Dunbar about, in showering
flowers on her, in posing before her in the last fashions
of Conduit Street, and yet when this conceited fellow
came into the box she was blind and deaf to all besides!
Her eyes filled with tears just now when he talked of
his loneliness. Lonely--with his wife! A married man!
George, when the curtain fell again, sat down by Frances.
"Mother," he said.
"Yes, George." Her eyes were bright and attentive, but
her countenance had fallen into hard lines new to him.
"I went to Morgan's this afternoon. You have been very
liberal to us."
"I will do what I can. You may depend upon that amount,
He rose and bade them good-night, and turned to her
"We--we are coming to-morrow to thank you. MOTHER?"
There was a hoarse sob in his throat. He laid his hand
on her arm. She moved so that it dropped. "We will come
to-morrow," he said. "Did you understand? Lisa wishes
to be friends with you. She is ready to forgive," he
groped on, blundering, like a man.
"Oh, yes, I understand. You and Lisa are coming to
forgive me to-morrow," she said, smiling.
He looked at her, perplexed and waiting. But she said no
"Well, I must go now. Good-night."
"Good-night, George! "Her bright, smiling eyes followed
him steadily, as he went out.
Mrs. Waldeux tapped at Clara's door that evening after
they reached home.
"I came to tell you that I shall leave London early in
the morning," she said.
"You will not wait to see George and his wife?"
"I hope I never shall see them again. No! Not a word!
I will hear no arguments!" She came into the room and
closed the door. There was a certain novel air of
decision and youth in her figure and movements. "I am
going to make a change, Clara," she said. "I have worked
for others long enough. I am going away now, alone. I
will be free. I will live my own life--at last." Her
eyes shone with exultation.
"And---- Where are you going?" stammered Miss Vance,
"I don't know. There is so much--it has all been waiting
so long for me. There are the cathedrals--and the
mountains. Or the Holy Land. Perhaps I may try to write
again. There seems to be a dumb word or two in me.
Don't be angry with me, Clara," throwing her arms about
her cousin, the tears rushing to her eyes. "I may come
back to you and little Lucy some time. But just now I
want to be alone and fancy myself young. I never was
When Lucy stole into her old friend's chamber the next
morning as usual to drink her cup of coffee with her, she
found the door open and the room in disorder, and she was
told that Mrs. Waldeaux had left London at daybreak.
During the year which followed, Mr. Perry was forced to
return to the States, but he made two flying trips across
"the pond," as he called it, in the interests of his
magazine, always running down his prey of notorieties in
that quarter of Europe in which Miss Vance and her
charges chanced to be.
When he came in July he found them in a humble little inn
in Bozen. He looked with contempt at the stone floors,
the clean cell-like chambers, each with its narrow bed,
and blue stone ewer perched on a wooden stool; and he
sniffed with disgust when breakfast was served on a table
set out in the Platz.
"Don't know," he said, "whether I can digest food, eating
out of doors. Myself, I never give in to these foreign
ways. It's time they learned manners from us."
"I have no doubt," said Miss Vance placidly, "that you
can find one of the usual hotels built for rich Americans
in the town. We avoid them. We search out the inns
du pays to see as far behind the scenes as we can. I
don't care to go to those huge houses with mobs of
Chicagoans and New Yorkers; and have the couriers and
portiers turn the flashlights on Europe for me, as if it
were a burlesque show."
"Now, that's just what I like!" said Perry. "I always go
to the houses where the royalties put up. I like to
order better dishes and give bigger tips than they do.
They don't know Jem Perry from Adam, but it's my way of
waving the American flag."
"I am afraid we have no such patriotic motive," said
Clara. "My girls seem to care for nothing now but art.
We have made this little inn our headquarters in the
Tyrol chiefly out of love for the old church yonder."
Mr. Perry glanced contemptuously across the Platz at the
frowning gray building, and sat down with his back to it.
"Art, eh? Well, I've no doubt I could soon catch on to
Art, if I turned my mind that way. It pays, too,--Art.
Not the fellows who paint, but the connoisseurs. There's
Miller from our town. He was a drummer for a candy
firm. Had an eye for color. Well, he buys pictures now
for Americans who want galleries in their houses. He
bought his whole collection for Stout--the great dealer
in hams. Why, Miller can tell the money value within
five dollars, at sight, of any picture in Europe. He's
safe, too. Never invests in pictures that aren't sure to
go up in price. Getting rich! And began as a candy
drummer! No, ma'am! Art's no mystery. I've never taken
it up myself. Europe is sheer pleasure to me. I get the
best out of it. I know where to lodge well, and I can
tell you where the famous plats are cooked, and I have my
coats built by Toole. The house pays me a salary which
justifies me in humoring my little follies," stroking his
red beard complacently.
Lucy's chubby face and steady blue eyes were turned on
him thoughtfully, and presently, when they sauntered down
the windy street together, he talked and she still
silently watched him.
"Miss Precision is weighing him in the balance," said
Jean, laughing, as she poured out more black coffee.
"With all of her soft ways Lucy is shrewd. She knows
quite well why he races across the Atlantic, and why
Prince Wolfburgh has backed away from us and charged on
us again all summer. She is cool. She is measuring poor
Perry's qualifications for a husband now just as she
would materials for a cake. A neat little inventory. So
much energy, so much honest kindness--so much vulgarity.
I couldn't do that. If ever a man wants to marry me,
I'll fly to him or away from him, as quick as the steel
needle does when the magnet touches it."
Miss Vance listened to her attentively. "Jean," she
said, after a pause, "are you sure that it is Lucy whom
the prince wishes to marry?"
"It is not I," said Miss Hassard promptly. "He has
thought of me several times--he has weighed my
qualifications. But the man is in love with Lucy as
honestly as a ploughman could be. Don't you think I've
tough luck?" she said, resting her elbow on the table and
her chin on her palm, her keen gray eyes following Miss
Dunbar and her lover as they loitered under the shadow of
the church. "I am as young as Lucy. I have a better
brain and as big a dot. But her lovers make her
life a burden, and I never have had one. Just because
our noses and chins are made up differently!"
"Oh, my dear!" said Clara anxiously. "I never thought
you cared for that kind of success!"
"I'm only human," Jean laughed. "Of course I'm an
artist. I'm going to paint a great picture some day that
all the world shall go mad about. Of Eve. I'll put all
the power of all women into her. But in the meantime I'd
like to see one man turn pale and pant before me as the
fat little prince does when Lucy snubs him."
"Lucy is very hard to please," complained Miss Vance.
"She snubs Mr. Perry--naturally. But the prince--why
should she not marry the prince?"
"Your generation," said Jean, smiling slyly, "used to
think that an unreasonable whim called love was a good
thing in marriage----"
"But why should she not love the prince? He is honorable
and kind, and quite passable as to looks---- Can there
be any one else?" turning suddenly to Jean.
Miss Hassard looked at her a moment, hesitating. "Your
cousin George used to be Lucy's type of a hero----"
"Why! the man is married!" Miss Vance stood up, her lean
face reddening. "Jean! You surprise me! That kind of
talk--it's indecent! It is that loose American idea of
marriage that ends in hideous divorce cases. But for one
of my girls----"
"It is a very old idea," said Jean calmly.
"David loved another man's wife. Mind you, I don't accuse
Lucy of loving any body, but when the needle has once
touched the magnet it answers to its call ever after."
Miss Vance vouchsafed no answer. She walked away across
the Platz, jerking her bonnet strings into a knot. Jean
was one of the New Women! Her opinions stuck out on
every side like Briareus' hundred elbows! You could not
come near her without being jabbed by them. Such women
were all opinions; there was no softness, no feeling, no
delicacy about them. Skeletons with no flesh! As for
Lucy, she had no fear. If even the child had loved
George, she would have cast out every thought of him
on his wedding day, as a Christian girl should do!
She passed Lucy at that moment. She was leaning against
one of the huge stone lions which crouch in front of the
church, listening to Mr. Perry. If ever a pure soul
looked into the world it was through those limpid eyes!
The Platz was nearly empty. One or two men in blouses
clattered across the cobblestones and going into the dark
church dropped on their knees. The wind was high, and
now and then swept heavy clouds low across the sunlight
space overhead.
Lucy, as Jean had guessed, knew why the man beside her
had crossed the Atlantic, and she had decided last night
to end the matter at once. The tears had stood in her
eyes for pity at the thought of the pain she must give
him. Yet she had put on her new close-fitting coat and
a becoming fur cap, and pulled out the loose hair which
she knew at this moment was blowing about her pink cheeks
in curly wisps in a way that was perfectly maddening.
Clara, seeing the mischief in her eyes as she listened
shyly to Perry, went on satisfied. There was no
abyss of black loss in that girl's life!
Lucy just now was concerned only for Perry. How the poor
man loved her! Why not marry him after all, and put him
out of his pain? She was twenty-four. Most women at
twenty-four had gone through their little tragedy of
love. But she had had no tragedy. She told herself
firmly that there had been no story of love in her life.
There never could be, now. She was too old.
She was tired, too, and very lonely. This man would seat
her on a throne and worship her every day. That would be
pleasant enough.
"I am ashamed of myself," he was saying, "to pursue you
in this way. You have given me no encouragement, I know.
But whenever I go to New York and bone down to work,
something tells me to come back and try again."
Lucy did not answer, and there was a brief silence.
"Of course I'm a fool,"--prodding the ground with his
stick. "But if a man were in a jail cell and knew that
the sun was shining just outside, he'd keep on
beating at the wall."
"Your life is not a jail cell. It's very comfortable, I
"It has been bare enough. I have had a hard fight to
live at all. I told you that I began as a canal-boy."
She looked at him with quick sympathy. At once she
fancied that she could read old marks of want on his
face. His knuckles were knobbed like a laborer's. He
had had a hard fight! It certainly would be pleasant to
rain down comfort and luxury on the good, plucky fellow!
"Of course that was all long ago," said Perry. "I'm not
ashamed of it. As Judge Baker remarked the other day,
`The acknowledged aristocrats of America, to-day, are its
self-made men.' He ought to know. The Bakers are the
top of the heap in New York. Very exclusive. I've been
intimate there for years. No, Miss Dunbar, I may have
begun as a mule-driver on a canal, but I am choice in my
society. My wife will not find a man or woman in my
circle who is half-cut."
Lucy drew a long breath. To live all day and every day
with this man!
And yet--she was so tired! There was a good deal of
money to manage, and he could do that. He would like a
gay, hospitable house, and so would she, and they would
be kind to the poor--and he was an Episcopalian, too.
There would be no hitch there. Lucy was a zealous High
Why should she not do it? The man was as good as gold at
heart. Jean called him a cad, but the caddishness was
only skin deep.
Mr. Perry watched her, reading her thoughts more keenly
than she guessed.
"One thing I will say in justice to myself," he said.
"You are a rich woman. If you marry me, YOU will know,
if nobody else does, that I am no fortune-hunter. I
shall always be independent of my wife. Every dollar she
owns shall be settled on her before I go with her to the
"Oh, I'm not thinking of the money," said Lucy
"Then you are thinking of me!" He leaned over her. She
felt as if she had been suddenly dragged too close to
a big unpleasant fire. "I know you don't love me," he
panted, "you cold little angel, you! But you do like me?
Eh? just a little bit, Lucy? Marry me. Give me a
chance. I'll bring you to me. If there is a single
spark of love in your heart for me, I'll blow it into a
flame! I can do it, I tell you!" He caught her fiercely
by the shoulder.
Lucy drew back and threw out her hands. "Let me have
time to think!"
"Time? You've had a year!"
"One more day. Come again this evening----"
"This evening? I've come so often!" staring breathlessly
into her face. "It will be no use, I can see that.
Well, as you please. I'll come once more."
The young fellow in his jaunty new clothes shook as if he
had the ague. He had touched her. For one minute she
had been his!
He turned and walked quickly across the Platz.
Lucy, left alone, was full of remorse. She looked down
into her heart; she had forgotten to do it before. No,
not a spark for him to blow into a flame; not a
single warm thought of him!
The girl was ashamed of herself. He might be a cad, but
he was real; his honest love possessed him body and soul.
It was a matter of expediency to her; a thing to debate
with herself, to dally over, with paltry pros and cons.
Miss Vance came hurriedly up the street, an open letter
in her hand. Lucy ran to meet her.
"What is it? You have heard bad news?"
"I suppose we ought not to call it that. It is from
George Waldeaux. They have a son, two months old. He
tells it as a matter for rejoicing."
"Oh, yes," said Lucy feebly.
"They are at Vannes--in Brittany. He has a cough. He
seems to know nobody--to have no friends, and, I suspect,
not much money. He is terribly depressed." Clara folded
the letter thoughtfully. "He asks me to tell his mother
that the baby has come."
"Where is his mother?"
"In Switzerland."
"Why is she not with him?" demanded Lucy angrily.
"Wandering about gathering edelweiss, while he is alone
and wretched!"
"He has his wife. You probably do not understand the
case fully," said Clara coldly. "I am going to wire to
his mother now." She turned away and Lucy stood
irresolute, her hand clutching the shaggy head of the
stone beast beside her.
"I can give him money. I'll go to him. He needs me!"
she said aloud. Then her whole body burned with shame.
She--Lucy Dunbar, good proper Lucy, whose conscience hurt
her if she laid her handkerchiefs away awry in her
drawer, nursing a criminal passion for a married man!
She went slowly back to the inn. "He has his wife," she
told herself. "I am nothing to him. I doubt if he would
know me if he met me on the street." She tried to go
back to her easy-going mannerly little thoughts, but
there was something strange and fierce behind them that
would not down.
Jean came presently to the salle. "I have had a letter
too," she said. "The girl who writes came from Pond
City. She was in the same atelier in Paris with
George. She says: `Your friends the Waldeaux have
come to grief by a short cut. They flung money about for
a few months as if they were backed by the Barings. The
Barings might have given their suppers. As for their
studio--there was no untidier jumble of old armor and
brasses and Spanish leather in Paris; and Mme. George
posing in the middle in soiled tea-gowns! But the
suppers suddenly stopped, and the leather and Persian
hangings went to the Jews. I met Lisa one day coming out
of the Vendome, where she had been trying to peddle a
roll of George's sketches to the rich Americans. I asked
her what was wrong, and she laughed and said, "We were
trying to make thirty francs do the work of thirty
thousand. And we have made up our minds that we know no
more of art than house painters. We are in a blind
alley!" Soon after that the baby was born. They went
down to Brittany. I hear that Lisa, since the child
came, has been ill. I tell all this dreary stuff to you
thinking that you may pass it on to their folks.
Somebody ought to go to their relief.'"
"Relief!" exclaimed Miss Vance. "And the money that they
were flinging into the gutter was earned day by day
by his old mother! Every dollar of it! I know that
during the last year she has done without proper clothes
and food to send their allowance to them."
"You forget," said Lucy, "that George Waldeaux was doing
noble work in the world. It was a small thing for his
mother to help him."
"Noble work? His pictures or his sermons, Lucy?"
demanded Miss Vance, with a contemptuous shrug.
Lucy without reply walked out to the inn garden and
seated herself in a shady corner. There Mr. Perry found
her just as the first stroke of the angelus sounded on
the air. Her book lay unopened on her lap.
He walked slowly up to her and stopped, breathing hard,
as if he had been running. "It is evening now. I have
come for my answer, Miss Dunbar," he said, forcing a
"Answer?" Lucy looked up bewildered.
"You have forgotten!"
The blood rushed to her face. She held out her hands.
"Oh, forgive me! I heard bad news. I have been so
"You forgot that I had asked you to be my wife!"
"Mr. Perry----"
"No, don't say another word, Miss Dunbar. I have had my
answer. I knew you didn't love me, but I did not think
I was so paltry that you would forget that I had offered
to marry you."
Lucy pressed her hands together, looking up at him
miserably without a word. He walked down the path and
leaned on the wall with his back to her. His very back
was indignant.
Presently he turned. "I will bid you goodby," he said,
with an effort at lofty courtesy, "and I will leave my
adieux for your friends with you."
"Are you going--back to the States?" stammered Lucy.
"Yes, I am going back to the States," he replied sternly.
"A man of merit there has his place, regardless of rank.
Jem Perry can hold his head there as high as any beggarly
prince. Farewell, Miss Dunbar."
He strode down the path and disappeared. Lucy shook her
head and cried from sheer wretchedness. She felt
that she had been beaten to-day with many stripes.
Suddenly the bushes beside her rustled. "Forgive me," he
said hoarsely. She looked up and saw his red honest
eyes. "I behaved like a brute. Good-by, Lucy! I never
loved any woman but you, and I never will."
"Stay, stay!" she cried.
He heard her, but he did not come back.
Lucy was silent and dejected for a day or two, being
filled with pity for Mr. Perry's ruined life. But when
she saw his name in a list of outgoing passengers on the
Paris her heart gave a bound of relief. Nothing more
could now be done. That chapter was closed. There had
been no other chapter of moment in her life, she told
herself sternly. Now, all the clouds had cleared away.
It was a new day. She would begin again.
So she put on new clothes, none of which she had ever
worn before, and tied back her curly hair with a fresh
white ribbon, and came down to breakfast singing gayly.
Miss Vance gave her her roll and milk in silence, and
frowning importantly, drew out a letter.
"Lucy, I have just received a communication from Prince
Wolfburgh. He is in Bozen."
"Here!" Lucy started up, glancing around like a chased
Then she sat down again and waited. There was no other
chapter, and the book was so blank!
"His coming is very opportune," she said presently,
"Oh! do YOU think so, my dear? Really! Well, I always
have liked the young man. So simple. So secure of his
social position. The Wolfburghs, I find, go back to the
eleventh century. Mr. Perry had noble traits, but one
never felt quite safe as to his nails or his grammar."
"But the prince--the prince?" cried Jean.
"Oh, yes. Well, he writes--most deferentially. He begs
for the honor of an interview with me this afternoon upon
a subject of the most vital importance. He says,
`regarding you, as I do, in loco parentis to the
hochgeboren Fraulein Dunbar.'"
"Hochgeboren!" said Lucy. "My grandfather was a
saddler. Tell him so, Miss Vance. Tell him the exact
facts. I want no disclosures after----"
"After marriage?" said Jean, rising suddenly. "Then you
have decided?"
"I have not said that I had decided," replied Lucy
Jean laughed. "He will not be scared by the saddler.
Europeans of his order take no account of our American
class distinctions. They look upon us as low-born
parvenues, all alike. They weigh and value us by other
standards than birth."
"I have money, if you mean that, Jean," said Lucy
"I think you had better go away, girls, if you have
finished your dejeuner. He may be here at any moment
now," said Clara, looking anxiously at her watch.
Lucy went to her little chamber and sat down to work at
a monstrous caricature which she was painting of the
church. Jean paced up and down the stone corridor,
looking out of the window into the Platz.
"He has come," she said excitedly, appearing at Lucy's
door. "He went into the church first, to say an ave for
help, poor little man! His fat face is quite pale and
stern. It is a matter of life and death to him. And
it's no more to you than the choosing of a new coat."
Lucy smiled and sketched in a priest on the church
steps. Her hand shook, but Jean could not see that. She
went to the window again with something like an inward
oath at the dolts of commonplace women who had all the
best chances, but was back in a moment, laughing
"Do you know he has on that old brown suit?" She leaned
against the jamb of the door. "If I were a prince, and
came a-wooing, I would have troops of my Jagers, and
trumpets and banners with the arms of my House, and I'd
wear all my decorations. Of course we Americans are
bound to say that rank and royalty are dead things. But
if I had them, I'd galvanize the corpses! If they are
useful as shows, I'd make the show worth seeing. I'd
cover myself with jewels like the old Romanoffs. You
would never see Queen Jean in a slouchy alpaca and
pork-pie hat like Victoria." While her tongue chattered,
her eyes watched Lucy keenly. "You don't hear me! You
are deciding what to do. Why on earth should you
hesitate? He is a gentleman--he loves you!" and then to
Lucy's relief she suddenly threw on her hat and rushed
off for a walk.
Miss Dunbar painted the priest's robe yellow, in her
agitation. But the agitation was not deep. There really
seemed no reason why she should hesitate. He would be
kind; he was well-bred and agreeable. A princess? She
had a vague idea of a glorified region of ancestral
castles and palaces in which dukes and royalties dwelt
apart and discoursed of high matters. She would be one
of them.
The other day there seemed to be no reason why she should
not marry Mr. Perry. In marriage then one must only
consider the suitability of the man? There was nothing
else to consider----
With a queer, hunted look in her soft eyes she worked on,
daubing on paint liberally.
Meanwhile, in the little salle below, Miss Vance sat
stiffly erect, while the prince talked in his shrill
falsetto. Although he set forth his affection for the
engelreine Madchen as simply as the little German baker
in Weir (whom he certainly did resemble) might have done,
she could find, in her agitation, no fitting words in
which to answer him. That she, Clara Vance, should be
the arbiter in a princely alliance! At last she managed
to ask whether Miss Dunbar had given him any
encouragement on which to found his claim.
"Ah, Fraulein Vance!" he cried, laughing. "The hare does
not call to the hounds! But I have no fear. She speaks
to me in other ways than by words.
"`Mein Herz und seine Augen
Verstehen sich gar so gut!'
You know the old song. Ah, ja! I understand what she
would say--here!" touching his heart.
He paced up and down, smiling to himself. Suddenly he
drew up before her, tossing his hands out as if to throw
away some pleasant dream. "I have come to you, gracious
lady, as I would to the mother of Miss Dunbar. I show to
you the heart! But before I address her it is necessary
that I shall consult her guardian with regard to
It was precisely, Clara said afterward, as if the baker
from Weir had stopped singing, and presented his bill.
"Business?" she gasped. "Oh, I see! Settlements. We
don't have such things in the States. But I quite
understand all those European social traits. I have
lived abroad for years. I----"
"Who is Miss Dunbar's guardian?" the prince demanded
alertly. He sat down by the table and took out a
notebook and papers.
"But--settlements? Is not that a little premature?" she
ventured. "She has not accepted you."
"HE may not accept my financial proposals. It is
business, you see. The gentle ladies, even die
Amerikaner, do not comprehend business. It is not, you
perceive, dear lady, the same when the head of the House
of Wolfburgh allies himself with a hochgeboren
Fraulein as when the tailors marry----"
"Nor bakers. I see," stammered Clara.
"Miss Dunbar's properties are valuable. Her estate in
Del-aware," glancing at his notebook, "is larger than
some of our German kingdoms. Her investments in railway
and mining securities, if put on the market, should be
worth a million of florins. These are solid matters, and
must be dealt with carefully."
"But, good gracious, Prince Wolfburgh! cried Miss Vance,
"how did you find out about Lucy's investments?"
He looked at her in amazement. "Meine gnadigste
Fraulein! It is not possible that you supposed that in
such a matter as this men leap into the dark--the men of
rank, princes, counts, English barons, who marry the
American mees? That they do not know for what they
exchange their--all that they give? I will tell you,"
with a condescending smile. "There are agents in the
States--in New York--in Chicago--in--how do you name it?
St. Sanata. They furnish exact information as to the
dot of the lady who will, perhaps, marry here. Oh, no!
We do not leap into the dark!"
"So I perceive," said Clara dryly. "And may I inquire,
your Highness, what financial arrangement you propose, in
case she becomes your wife?"
"Assuredly." He hastily unfolded a large paper. "This
must be accepted by her guardian before the betrothal can
take place. I will translate, in brief. The whole
estate passes to me, and is secured to me in case of my
wife's death without issue. I inserted that clause," he
said, looking up, smiling, for approval, "because
American Frauleins are so fragile--not like our
women. I will, of course, if we have issue, try to
preserve the real estate for my heir, and the remaining
property for my other children."
"It seems to me that a good deal is taken for granted
there," said Clara, whose cheeks were very hot. "And
where does Miss Dunbar come into this arrangement? Is
she not to have any money at all?"
"My widow, should I die first, will be paid an annuity
from my estate. But while Mees Lucy is my wife, _I_ will
buy all that she needs. I will delight to dress her, to
feed her well. With discretion, of course. For there
are many channels into which my income must flow.
But I will not be a niggardly husband to her! No, no!"
cried the little man in a glow.
"That is very kind of you. But she will not have any of
her own money to spend? In her own purse? To fling into
the gutter if she chooses?"
The prince laughed gayly. "How American you are,
gracious lady! A German wife does not ask for her `own
purse.' My wife will cease to be American; she will be
German," patting his soft hands ecstatically. "But
you have not told me the name of her guardian?"
"Lucy," said Miss Vance reluctantly, "is of age. She has
full control of her property. A Trust Company manages it
for her, but they have no authority to stop her if she
chooses to--throw it into the gutter."
The prince looked up sharply. Could this be a trick?
But if it were, the agent would find out for him. He
"To have the sole disposal of her own hand and of her
fortune? That seems strange to us," he said, smiling.
"But I have your consent, most dear lady, to win both, if
I can?"
"Oh, yes, prince. If you can."
He took her hand and bowed profoundly over it, but no
courtly grace nor words could bring back Clara's awe of
him. She had a vague impression that the Weir baker had
been wrangling with her about his bill.
"Your Highness has asked a good many questions," she
said. "May I put one to you? Did you inquire concerning
Miss Hassard's dot, also?"
"Ah, certainly! Why not? It is very large. I have
spoken of it to my cousin Count Odo. But the
drawback--her father still lives. He may marry again.
Her dot depends upon his good pleasure. Whereas Miss
Dunbar is an orphan; and besides that, she is so dear to
me!" clasping his hands, his face red with fervor. "So
truly dear!"
And she knew that he honestly meant it.
When Miss Vance came into the corridor after she had
reported this interview to Lucy, Jean swept her into her
room and dragged the whole story from her. In fact the
poor anxious lady was glad to submit it to the girl's
shrewd hard sense.
"You told him that she was the uncontrolled mistress of
her money!"
"It is the truth. I had to tell him the truth, my dear."
"Yes, I suppose so, for he would have found it out
"I do feel," panted Clara, "as if I had put a dove into
the claws of a vulture."
"Not at all," said Jean promptly. "The little man has a
heart, but an empty pocket. Was Lucy interested most in
his love or his bargaining?"
"In neither, I think. She just went on painting, and
said nothing."
Oh, she will decide the matter in time! She will
bring her little intellect to bear on it as if it were a
picnic for her Sunday-school class!" Jean stood silent
a while. "Miss Vance," she said suddenly, "let me
engineer this affair for a few days. I can help you."
"What do you propose to do, Jean?"
"To leave Bozen to-morrow. For Munich."
"But the Wolfburghs have a palace or--something in
Munich. Is it quite delicate for us----"
"It is quite rational. Let us see what the something is.
So far in our dealings with principalities and powers, we
have had a stout little man--with no background."
The prince was startled when he was told of this sudden
journey, but declared that he would follow them
Lucy, as usual, asked no questions, but calmly packed her
As the little train, the next day, lumbered through the
valley of the Eisach, she sat in her corner, reading a
newspaper. Miss Vance dozed, or woke with a start to
lecture on points of historic interest.
"Why don't you look, Lucy? That monastery was a Roman
fortress in the third century. And you are missing
the color effects of the vineyards."
"I can look now. I have finished my paper." Lucy folded
it neatly and replaced it in her bag. "I have read the
Delaware State Sun," she said triumphantly, "regularly,
every week since we left home. When I go back I shall be
only seven days behind with the Wilmington news."
Jean glanced at her contemptuously. "Look at that great
castle on yonder mountain," she said. "You could lodge
a village inside of the ramparts. Do you think Wolfburgh
Schloss is like that? The prince told us last night,"
turning to Miss Vance, "the old legends about his castle.
The first Wolfburgh was a Titan about the time of Noah,
and married a human wife, and with his hands tore open
the mountain for rocks to lay the foundation of his
house. According to his story there were no end of
giants and trolls and kings concerned in the building of
it," she went on, furtively watching the deepening pink
in Lucy's cheek. "The Wolfburgh of Charlemagne's day was
besieged by him, and another entertained St. Louis and
all his crusaders within the walls." Jean's voice rose shrilly
and her eyes glowed. She leaned forward, looking eagerly
across the fields. "The prince told us that the Schloss
of his race had for centuries been one of the great
fortresses of Christendom. And here it is! Now we shall
see--we shall see!"
The car stopped. The guard opened the door and Miss
Vance and Lucy suddenly found themselves swept by Jean on
to the platform, while the little train rumbled on down
the valley. Miss Vance cried out in dismay.
"Never mind. There will be another train in a half
hour," said Jean. "Here is the Schloss," pointing to a
pepper-box tower neatly whitewashed, which rose out of a
huge mass of broken stone. "And here, I suppose, is the
capital of the kingdom over which the Wolfburghs now
reign feudal lords?"
Clara found herself against her will looking curiously at
the forge, the dirty shop, the tiny bier-halle, and a
half a dozen huts, out of which swarmed a few old women
and children.
"Where are the men of this village?" Jean demanded of the
station master, a stout old man with a pipe in his mouth.
"Gone to America, for the most part," he said, with a
Lucy came up hastily, an angry glitter in her soft eyes.
"You have no right to make me play the spy in this way!"
she said haughtily, and going into the little station sat
down with her back to the door.
"You? It is I--I----" muttered Jean breathlessly. "And
who lives in the tower, my good man? It is not big
enough for a dozen hens." She slipped a florin into his
"Four of the noble ladies live there. The princesses.
The gracious sisters of Furst Hugo. There come two of
them now."
A couple of lean, wrinkled women dressed in soiled merino
gowns and huge black aprons, their hair bristling in curl
papers, crossed the road, peering curiously at the
"They came to look at you, Fraulein," said the man,
chuckling. "Strangers do not stop at Wolfburgh twice in
the year."
"And what do the noble ladies do all the year?"
"Jean, Jean!" remonstrated Clara.
"Oh, Miss Vance! This is life and death to some of us!
What do they do?"
"Do?" said the man, staring. "What shall any gracious
lady do? They cook and brew, and crochet lace and----"
"Are there any more princesses--sisters of Furst Hugo?"
"Two more. They live in Munich. No, none of them are
married. Because," he added zealously, "there are no men
as high-born as our gracious ladies, so they cannot
"No doubt that accounts for it," said Jean. "Six. These
are `the channels into which the income will flow,' hey?"
She gave him more money, and marching into the station
caught Lucy by the shoulder, shaking her passionately.
"Do you think any American girl could stand that? How
would YOU like to be caged up in that ridiculous tower
to cook and crochet and brew beer and watch the train go
by for recreation? The year round--the year round?"
Lucy rose quietly. "The train is coming now," she said.
"Calm yourself, Jean. YOU will not have to live in the
Jean laughed. When they were seated in the car
again, she looked wistfully out at the heaps of ruins.
"It must have been a mighty fortress once," she said.
"Those stones were hewed before Charlemagne's time. And
a great castle could easily be built with them now," she
added thoughtfully.
The travellers entered Munich at noon. The great
generous city lay tranquil and smiling in the frosty
"I have secured apartments," said Miss Vance, "used
hitherto by royalties or American millionaires. My girl
must be properly framed when a prince comes a-wooing."
Lucy smiled. But her usual warm color faded as they
drove through the streets. Jean, however, was gay and
"Ah, the dear splendid town!" she cried. "It always
seems to give us a royal welcome. Nothing is changed!
There is the music in the Kellers, and there go the
same Bavarian officers with their swagger and saucy blue
eyes. They are the handsomest men in Europe! And here
is the Munchen-kindl laughing at us, and the same
crowds are going to the Pinakothek! What do you want
more? Beer and splendor and fun and art! What a home it
will be for you, Lucy!"
Lucy's cold silence did not check Jean's affectionate
zeal. She anxiously searched among the stately old
buildings, which they passed, for the Wolfburgh palace.
"It will not be in these commonplace Haussmannized
streets," she said. "It is in some old corner; it has a
vast, mysterious, feudal air, I fancy. You will hold a
little court in it, and sometimes let a poor American
artist from Pond City in to hang on the edge of the crowd
and stare at the haute noblesse."
"Don't be absurd, Jean," said Miss Vance.
"I am quite serious. I think an American girl like Lucy,
with her beauty and her money, will be welcomed by these
German nobles as a white swan among ducks. She ought to
take her place and hold it." Jean's black eyes snapped
and the blood flamed up her cheeks. "If I were she I'd
make my money tell! I'd buy poor King Ludwig's residence
at Binderhof, with the cascades and jewelled peacocks and
fairy grottos, for my country seat. The Bavarian
nobility are a beggarly lot. If they knew that Lucy and
her millions were coming to town in this cab, they'd blow
their trumpets for joy. `Wave, Munich, all thy
banners wave!'" Lucy's impatient shrug silenced
her, but she was preoccupied and excited throughout the
day. Miss Vance watched her curiously. Could it be that
she had heard of the prince's plan of marrying her to his
cousin, and that she was building these air castles for
A day or two sufficed to make Miss Vance's cheery
apartments the rendezvous of troops of Americans of all
kinds: from the rich lounger, bored by the sight of
pictures, which he did not understand, and courts which
he could not enter, to the half-starved, eager-eyed art
students, who smoked, and drank beer, and chattered in
gutturals, hoping to pass for Germans.
There were plenty of idle young New Yorkers and
Bostonians too, hovering round Lucy and Jean,
overweighted by their faultless London coats and trousers
and fluent French. But they deceived nobody; they all
had that nimble brain, and that unconscious swagger of
importance and success which stamps the American in every
country. Prince Hugo, in his old brown suit, came and
went quietly among them.
"The genuine article!" Jean declared loudly. "There
is something royal in his hospitality! He lays all
Munich at Lucy's feet, as if it were his own estate, and
the museums and palaces were the furniture of his house.
That homely simplicity of his is tremendously fine, if
she could understand it!"
The homely genuineness had its effect even upon Lucy.
The carriage which he brought to drive them to Isar-anen
was scaly with age, but the crest upon it was the noblest
in Bavaria; in the cabinet of portraits of ancient
beauties in the royal palace he showed her indifferently
two or three of his aunts and grandmothers, and in the
historical picture of the anointing of the great
Charlemagne, one of his ancestors, stout and good-humored
as Hugo himself, supported the emperor.
"The pudgy little man," said Jean one day, somehow
belongs to the old world of knights and
crusaders--Sintram and his companions. He will make it
all real to Lucy when she marries him. He is like Ali
Baba, standing at the shut door of the cave full of
jewels and treasures with the key in his hand."
"Those Arabian Night stories are simply silly," said Lucy
severely. "I am astonished that any woman in this
age of the world should read that kind of trash."
"But the prince's cave?" persisted Jean. "When are we to
look into it? I want to be sure of the treasures inside.
When are we to go to his palace? When will his sisters
ask us to dinner?"
Miss Vance looked anxious. "That is a question of great
importance," she said. "The princesses have invited me
through their brother to call. It is of course etiquette
here for the stranger to call first, but I don't wish to
compromise Lucy by making advances."
There was a moment's silence, then Lucy said, blushing
and faltering a little, "It would be better perhaps to
call, and not prejudice them, by any discourtesy, against
us. The prince is very kind."
"So! The wind is in that quarter?" Jean said, with a
harsh laugh.
She jumped up and went to her own room. She was in a
rage at herself. Why had she not run away to Paris
months ago and begun her great picture of the World's
mother, Eve? There was a career for her! And
thinking--perhaps of Eve--she cried hot salt tears.
A week passed, but the question of the first call was not
yet settled. It required as much diplomacy as an
international difficulty. Furst Hugo represented the
princesses as "burning with impatience to behold the
engelreine Madchen whom they hoped to embrace as a
sister," but no visible sign of their ardor reached Miss
On Monday Jean went to spend the day with some of her
artist friends, but at noon she dashed into the room
where Clara and Lucy sat sewing, her dark face blotched
red, and her voice stuttering with excitement.
"I have seen into the cave!" she shouted. I have got at
the truth! It's a rather stagy throne, the Wolfburghs!
Plated, cheap!"
"What is the matter with you?" said Miss Vance.
"Nothing is the matter with ME. It is Lucy's tragedy.
I've seen the magnificent ancient palace of the
Wolfburghs. It is a flat! In the very house where
I went to-day. The third story flat just under the
attics where the poor Joneses daub portraits. I passed
the open doors and I saw the shabby old tables and chairs
and the princesses--two fat old women in frowzy wrappers,
and their hair in papers, eating that soup of pork and
cabbages and raisins--the air was thick with the smell!
And that is not the worst!"
"Take breath, Jean," said Lucy calmly.
"The prince himself--the Joneses told me, there can be no
doubt--the prince makes soap for a living! No wonder you
turn pale, Miss Vance. Soap! He is the silent partner
in the firm of Woertz und Zimmer, and it is not a paying
business either."
Jean did not wait for an answer, but walked up and down
the room, laughing angrily to herself. "Yes, soap! He
cannot sneer at Lucy's ancestral saddles, now. Nor my
father's saws! His rank is the only thing he has to give
for Lucy's millions, and now she knows what it is worth!"
Lucy rose and, picking up her work basket, walked quietly
out of the room. Jean flashed an indignant glance after
"She might have told me that he gave himself! Surely the
man counts for something! Anyhow, rank like his is not
smirched by poverty or trade. Bismarck himself brews
"Your temper is contradictory to-day," said Clara coldly.
"Did you know," she said presently, "that the princesses
will be at the Countess von Amte's to-morrow?"
"Then we shall meet them!" cried Jean. "Then something
will be settled."
Lucy locked the door of her chamber after her.
She found much comfort in the tiny bare room with its
white walls and blue stove, and the table where lay her
worn Bible and a picture of her old home. The room
seemed a warm home to her now. Above the wall she had
hung photographs of the great Madonnas, and lately she
had placed one of Frances Waldeaux among them. That was
the face on which she looked last at night. When Clara
had noticed it, Lucy had said, "I am as fond of the dear
lady as if she were my own mother."
She sat down before it now, and taking out her sewing
began to work, glancing up at it, half smiling as to
a friend who talked to her. She thought of Furst Hugo
boiling soap, with a gentle pity, and of Jean with hot
disdain. What had Jean to do with it? The prince was
her own lover, as her gloves were her own.
But indeed, the prince and love were but shadows on the
far sky line to the little girl; the real things were her
work and her Bible, and George's mother talking to her.
She often traced remembered expressions on Mrs.
Waldeaux's face; the gayety, the sympathy, a strange
foreboding in the eyes. Finer meanings, surely, than any
in the features of these immortal insipid Madonnas!
Sometimes Lucy could not decide whether she had seen
these meanings on Frances Waldeaux's face, or on her
She sewed until late in the afternoon. There came a tap
at the door. She opened it, and there stood Mrs.
Waldeaux, wrapped in a heavy cloak. Lucy jumped at her,
trembling, and hugged her.
"Oh, come in! Come in!" she cried shrilly. "I have just
been thinking of you and talking to you!"
Frances laughed, bewildered. "Oh, it is Miss
Dunbar? The man sent me here by mistake to wait. Miss
Vance is out, he said."
"Yes, I suppose so. But I--I am here." Lucy threw her
arms around her again, laying her head down on her
shoulder. She felt as if something that she had waited
for a long time was coming to her. "Sit by the stove.
Your hands are like ice," she said.
"Yes, I am usually cold now; I don't know why."
Lucy then saw a curious change in her face. The fine
meanings were not in it now. It was fatter--coarser; the
hair was dead, the eyes moved sluggishly, like the glass
eyes of a doll.
"You are always cold? Your blood is thin, perhaps. You
are overtired, dear. Have you travelled much?"
"Oh, yes! all of the time. I have seen whole tracts of
pictures, and no end of palaces and
hotels--hotels--hotels!" Frances said, awakening to the
necessity of being talkative and vivacious with the young
girl. She threw off her cloak. There was a rip in the
fur, and the dirty lining hung out. Lucy shuddered.
Mrs. Waldeaux's blood must have turned to water, or she
would never have permitted that!
"You must rest now. I will take care of you," she said,
with a little nod of authority. Frances looked at her
perplexed. Why should this pretty creature mother her
with such tenderness?
Oh! It was the girl that George should have married!
She glanced at the white room with its dainty bibelots,
the Bible, the Madonnas, watching, benign. Poor little
nun, waiting for the love that never could come to her!
"I am glad you are here, my child. You can tell me what
I want to know. I have not an hour to spare. I am going
to my son--to George. Do you know where he is?"
"At Vannes, in Brittany."
"Brittany--that is a long way." Frances rose
uncertainly. "I hoped he was near. I was in a Russian
village, and Clara's letter was long in finding me. When
I got it, I travelled night and day. I somehow thought
I should meet him on the way. I fancied he would come to
meet me."
Lucy's blue eyes watched her keenly a moment. Then she
rang the bell.
"You must eat, first of all," she said.
"No, I am not hungry. Vannes, you said? I must go now.
I haven't an hour."
"You have two, exactly. You'll take the express at
eight. Oh, I'm never mistaken about a train. Here is
the coffee. Now, I'll make you a nice sandwich."
Frances was faint with hunger. As she ate, she watched
the pretty matter-of-fact little girl, and laughed with
delight. When had she found any thing so wholesome? It
was a year, too, since she had seen any one who knew
George. Naturally, she began to empty her heart, which
was full of him, to Lucy.
"I have not spoken English for months," she said, smiling
over her coffee. "It is a relief! And you are a friend
of my son's, too?"
"No. A mere acquaintance," said Lucy, with reserve.
"No one could even see George and not understand how
different he is from other men."
"Oh! altogether different!" said Lucy. "Yes, you
understand. And there was that future before
him--when his trouble came. Oh, I've thought of it, and
thought of it, until my head is tired! He fell under
that woman's influence, you see. It was like mesmerism,
or the voodoo curse that the negroes talk of. It came on
me too. Why, there was a time when I despised him.
George!" Her eyes grew full of horror. "I left him, to
live my own life. He has staggered under his burden
alone, and I could have rid him of it. Now there are two
of them."
"Two of them? " said Lucy curiously.
"There is a baby--Pauline Felix's grandson. I beg your
pardon, my child, I ought not to have named her. She is
not a person whom you should ever hear of. He has them
both,--George. He has that weight to carry." She stood
up. "That is why I am going to him. It must be taken
from him."
"You mean--a divorce?"
"I don't know--I can't think clearly. But God does such
queer things! There are millions of men in the world,
and this curse falls on--George!"
Lucy put her hands on the older woman's arms and seated
her. "Mrs. Waldeaux," she said, with decision, "you
need sleep, or you would not talk in that way. Lisa is
not a curse. Nor a voodoo witch. She came to your son
instead of to any other man--because he chose her out
from all other women. He had seen them." She held her
curly head erect. "As he did choose her, he should make
the best of her."
Frances looked at her as one awakened out of a dream.
"You talk sensibly, child. Perhaps you are right. But
I must go. Ring for a cab, please. No, I will wait in
the station. Clara would argue and lecture. I could not
stand that to-night," with her old comical shrug.
Lucy's entreaties were vain.
But as the train rushed through the valley of the Isar
that night, Frances looked forward into the darkness with
a nameless terror. "That child was so healthy and sane,"
she said, "I wish I had stayed with her longer."
Prince Hugo had made no secret of his intentions with
regard to Miss Dunbar, so that when it was known that his
sisters and the rich American Mees would at last meet at
the Countess von Amte's there was a flutter of curiosity
in the exclusive circle of Munich. The countess herself
called twice on Clara that day, so great was her triumph
that this social event would occur at her house.
She asked boldly "Which of Miss Dunbar's marvellous
Parisian confections will she wear? It is so important
for her future happiness that the princesses should be
favorably impressed! Aber, lieber Gott!" she shrieked,
"don't let her speak French! Not a word! That would be
ruin! They are all patriotism!" She hurried away, and
ran back to say that the sun was shining as it had not
done for days.
"She thinks nature itself is agog to see how the
princesses receive Lucy," said Miss Vance
indignantly. "One would suppose that the child was on
"So she is. Me, too," said Jean, wistfully regarding the
bebe waist of the gown which Doucet had just sent her.
"I must go as an ingenue. I don't play the part well!"
"No, you do not," said Clara.
Miss Vance tapped at Lucy's door as she went down, and
found her working at her embroidery. "You must lie down
for an hour, my dear," she said, "and be fresh and rosy
for this evening."
"I am not going. I must finish these pinks. I have just
sent a note of apology to the countess."
"Not going!" Clara gasped, dismayed. Then she laughed
with triumph. "The princesses and all the Herrschaft of
Munich will be there to pass judgment on the bride, and
the bride will be sitting at home finishing her pinks!
"I am no bride!" Lucy rose, stuck her needle carefully in
its place, and came closer to Miss Vance. "I have made
up my mind," she said earnestly. "I shall never marry.
My life now is quiet and clean. I'm not at all sure
that it would be either if I were the Princess
Clara stroked her hair fondly. "Your decision is sudden,
my dear," she faltered, at last.
"Yes. There was something last night. It showed me what
I was doing. To marry a man just because he is good and
kind, that is--vile!" The tears rushed to her eyes.
There was a short silence.
"Don't look so aghast, dear Miss Vance," said Lucy
cheerfully. "Go now and dress to meet the Herrschaft."
"And what will you do, child?"
"I really must finish these pinks to-night." She took up
her work. Her chin trembled a little. "We won't speak
of this again, please," she said. "I never shall be a
bride or a wife or mother. I will have a quiet,
independent life--like yours."
The sunshine fell on the girl's grave, uplifted face, on
the white walls, the blue stove, and the calm, watching
Madonnas. Clara, as Mrs. Waldeaux had done, thought of
a nun in her cell to whom love could only be a sacred
She smiled back at Lucy, bade her goodnight, and closed
the door.
"Like mine?" she said, as she went down the corridor.
"Well, it is a comfortable, quiet life. But empty----"
And she laid her hand suddenly across her thin breast.
Jean listened in silence when Clara told her briefly that
Lucy was not going.
"She is very shrewd," she said presently. "She means to
treat them de haut en bas from the outset. It is
capital policy."
Jean, when she entered the countess's salon, with
downcast eyes, draped in filmy lace without a jewel or
flower, was shy innocence in person. Furst Hugo stood
near the hostess, with two stout women in shabby gowns
and magnificent jewels.
"The frocks they made themselves, and the emeralds are
heirlooms," Jean muttered to Clara, without lifting her
timid eyes.
"Miss Dunbar is not coming?" exclaimed the prince.
"No," said Miss Vance.
"The Fraulein is ill?" demanded one of his sisters.
"No," Clara said, again smiling.
"WE expected to meet her," the younger princess said.
"It is most singular----"
"She has sent her apology to the countess," said Clara
gently, and passed on.
But her little triumph was short lived.
A famous professional soprano appeared in a
white-ribboned enclosure at the end of the salon, and
the guests were rapidly arranged according to their rank
to listen. Clara and Jean stood until every man and
woman were comfortably seated, when they were placed in
the back row.
When the music was over supper was announced, and the
same ceremony was observed. The Highnessess, the
hochwohlgeboren privy councillors, the hochgeboren
secretaries, even the untitled Herren who held some petty
office, were ushered with profound deference to their
seats at the long table, while Clara stood waiting.
Jean's eyes still drooped meekly, but even her lips were
"How can you look so placid?" she whispered. "It is a
deliberate insult to your gray hairs."
"No. It is the custom of the country. It does not hurt
They were led at the moment to the lowest seats. Jean
shot one vindictive glance around the table.
"You have more wit and breeding than any of them!" she
said. "And as for me, this lace I wear would buy any of
their rickety old palaces."
"They have something which we cannot buy," said Miss
Vance gravely. "I never understood before how actual a
thing rank is here."
"Cannot it be bought? I am going to look into that when
this huge feed is over," Miss Hassard said to herself.
Late in the evening she danced with Count Odo, and
prattled to him in a childish, frank fashion which he
found very charming.
"Your rules of precedence are very disagreeable!" she
pouted. "Especially when one sits at the foot of the
table and is served last."
"They must seem queer to you," he said, laughing, "but
they are inflexible as iron."
"But they will bend for Miss Dunbar, if she makes up her
mind to marry your cousin?"she asked, looking up
into his face like an innocent child.
"No. Hugo makes a serious sacrifice in marrying a woman
of no birth," he said. "He must give up his place and
title as head of the family. She will not be received at
court nor in certain houses; she must always remain outside
of much of his social life."
He led her back to Miss Vance. She seemed to be struck
dumb, and even forgot to smile when he bowed low and
thanked her for the dance.
"Let us go home," she whispered to Clara. "The American
girl is a fool who marries one of these men!"
When Miss Vance's carriage reached her hotel, she found
Prince Hugo's coupe before the door.
"He has come to see Lucy, alone!" she said indignantly,
as she hurried up the steps. "He has no right to annoy
She met him coming out of the long salle. The little
man walked nervously, fingering his sword hilt. He could
not control his voice when he tried to speak naturally.
"Yes, gracious lady, I am guilty. It was
unpardonable to come when I knew the chaperone was gone.
But--ach! I could not wait!" throwing out both hands
to her. "I have waited so long! I knew when she did not
come to meet my sisters to-night she had resolved against
me, but I could not sleep uncertain. So I break all the
laws, and come!"
"You have seen her, then? She has told you?"
He nodded without speaking. His round face was red, and
something like tears stood in his eyes.
He waited irresolute a moment, and then threw up his
"Soh! It is over! I shall not whine! You have been
very good to me," he said earnestly, taking Clara's hand.
"This is the first great trouble in my life. I have
loved her very dearly. I decided to make great
sacrifices for her. But I am not to have her--never."
"I am so sorry for you, prince." Clara squeezed his hand
"Nor her dot. That would have been so comfortable for
me," he said simply.
Clara hid a smile, and bade him an affectionate
As he passed into the outer salle a childish figure in
creamy lace rose before him, and a soft hand was held
out. "I know what has happened!" she whispered
passionately. "She has treated you scandalously! She
cannot appreciate YOU!"
Prince Hugo stuttered and coughed and almost kissed the
little hand which lay so trustingly in his. He found
himself safely outside at last, and drove away, wretched
to the soul.
But below his wretchedness something whispered: "SHE
appreciates me, and her dot is quite as large."
George Waldeaux hummed a tune gayly as he climbed the
winding maze of streets in Vannes, one cloudy afternoon,
with Lisa.
"It is impertinent to be modern Americans in this old
town," he said. "We might play that we were jongleurs,
and that it was still mediaeval times. I am sure the
gray walls yonder and the fortress houses in this street
have not changed in ages."
"Neither have the smells, apparently," said Lisa grimly.
"Wrap this scarf about your throat, George. You coughed
last night."
George tied up his throat. "Coughed, did I?" he said
anxiously. He had had a cold last winter, and his wife
with her poultices and fright had convinced him that he
was a confirmed invalid. The coming of her baby had
given to the woman a motherly feeling toward all of the
world, even to her husband.
"Look at these women," he said, going on with his fancy
presently. "I am sure that they were here wearing
these black gowns and huge red aprons in the twelfth
century. What is this?" he said, stopping abruptly, to
a boy of six who was digging mud at the foot of an
ancient ivy-covered tower.
"C'est le tour du Connetable," the child lisped. "Et
v'la, monsieur!" pointing to a filthy pen with a gate of
black oak; "v'la le donjon de Clisson!"
"Who was Clisson?" said Lisa impatiently.
"A live man to Froissart--and to this boy," said George,
laughing. "I told you that we had gone back seven
centuries. This fog comes in from the Morbihan sea where
Arthur and his knights went sailing to find the Holy
Greal. They have not come back. And south yonder is the
country of the Druids. I will take you to-morrow and
show you twenty thousand of their menhirs, and then we
will sail away to an island where there is an altar that
the serpent worshippers built ages before Christ."
Lisa laughed. He was not often in this playful mood.
She panted as she toiled up the dark little street, a
step behind him, but he did not think of giving her his
arm. He had grown accustomed to regard himself as
the invalid now, and the one who needed care.
"I am going for letters," he called back, diving into a
dingy alley. The baby and its bonne were near Lisa.
The child never was out of her sight for, a moment. She
waited, standing a little apart from Colette to watch
whether the passers-by would notice the baby. When one
or two of the gloomy and stolid women who hurried past in
their wooden sabots clicked their fingers to it, she
could not help smiling gayly and bidding them good-day.
The fog was stifling. As she waited she gave a tired
gasp. Colette ran to her. "Madame is going to be ill!"
"No, no! Don't frighten monsieur."
George came out of the gate at the moment.
"Going to faint again, Lisa?" he said, with an annoyed
glance around the street. "Your attacks do choose the
most malapropos times----"
"Oh, dear no, George! I am quite well quite." She
walked beside him with an airy step, laughing gayly
now and then, but George's frown deepened.
"I don't understand these seizures at all," he said.
"You seem to be in sound physical condition."
"Oh, all women have queer turns, George."
"Did you consult D'Abri, as I told you to do, in Paris?"
"Yes, yes! Now let us talk no more about it. I have had
these--symptoms since I was a child."
"You never told me of them before we were married," he
Lisa scowled darkly at him, but she glanced at the baby
and her mouth closed. Little Jacques should never hear
her rage nor swear.
From an overhanging gable at the street corner looked
down a roughly hewn stone Madonna. The arms of the Holy
Child were outstretched to bless. Lisa paused before it,
crossing herself. A strange joy filled her heart.
"I too am a mother! I too!" she said. She hurried after
George and clung to his arm as they went home.
"Was there any letter?" she asked.
"Only one from Munich--Miss Vance. I haven't opened it."
"I thought your mother would write. She must have heard
about the boy!"
George's face grew dark. "No, she'll not write. Nor
"You wish for her every day, George?" She looked at him
"Yes, I do. She and I were comrades to a queer degree.
I long for something hearty and homelike again. See
here, Lisa. I'm going home before my boy begins to talk.
I mean he shall grow up under wholesome American
influences--not foreign."
"Not foreign," she repeated gravely. She was silent a
while. "I have thought much of it all lately," she said
at last. "It will be wholesome for Jacques on your farm.
Horses--dogs---- Your mother will love him. She can't
help it. She--I acted like a beast to that woman,
George. I'll say that. She hit me hard. But she has
good traits. She is not unlike my own mother."
George said nothing. God forbid that he should tell her,
even by a look, that she and her mother were of a caste
different from his own.
But he was bored to the soul by the difference; he was
tired of her ignorances, which she showed every minute,
of her ghastly, unclean knowledges--which she never
They came into the courtyard of the Chateau de la Motte,
the ancient castle of the Breton dukes, which is now an
inn. The red sunset flamed up behind the sad little town
and its gray old houses and spires massed on the hill,
and the black river creeping by. George's eyes kindled
at the sombre picture.
"In this very court," he said, "Constance stood when she
summoned the States of Brittany to save her boy Arthur
from King John."
"Oh, yes, you have read of it to me in your Shakespeare.
It is one of his unpleasant stories. Come, Bebe. It
grows damp."
As she climbed the stone stairway with the child, Colette
lingered to gossip with the portier. "Poor lady! You
will adore her! She is one of us. But she makes of that
bete Anglais and the ugly child, saints and gods!"
When George presently came up to their bare little room,
Lisa was singing softly, as she rocked Jacques to sleep.
"Can't you sing the boy something a bit more
cheerful?" he said. "You used to know some jolly catches
from the music halls."
"Catches for HIM?" with a frightened look at the
child's shut eyes.
"The `Adeste Fideles' is moral, but it is not a merry
air. You sing it morning, noon, and night," he grumbled.
"Yes," she whispered, laying the child in its crib. "One
never knows how much HE understands, and he may
remember, I thought. Some day when he is a great boy, he
may hear it and he'll think, `My mother sang that hymn.
She must have been a good woman!'"
"Nonsense, Lisa," said George kindly. "You'll teach him
every day, while he is growing to be a great boy, that
you are a good woman."
She said nothing, but stood on the other side of the crib
looking at him.
"Well, what is it?" said George uneasily. "You look at me
as if somebody were dragging you away from me."
She laughed. "What ridiculous fancies you have!" She
came behind him and, drawing his head back, kissed him on
the forehead. "Oh, you poor, foolish boy!" she said.
Lisa sat down to her work, which was the making of
garments for Jacques out of her own gowns. She was an
expert needlewoman, and had already a pile of fantastic
kilts of cloth and velvet.
"Enough to last until he is ten years old," George said
contemptuously. "And you will not leave a gown for
"There will be all I shall need," she said.
He turned up the lamp and opened Clara's letter.
Lisa's needle flew through the red and yellow silk. It
was pleasant work; she was doing it skilfully. The fire
warmed her thin blood. She could hear the baby's
regular, soft breathing as it slept. A pleasure that was
almost like health stole through her lean body. She
leaned back in her chair looking at Jacques. In three
years he could wear the velvet suit with the cap and
pompon. His hair would be yellow and curly, like his
father's. But his eyes would be like her mother's. She
pressed her hands together, laughing, the hot tears
rushing to her eyes. "Ah, maman!" she said. "Do you
know that your little girl has a baby? Can you see him?"
What a superb "great boy" he would be! He should go to
a military school. Yes! She lay back in her chair,
watching him.
George suddenly started up with a cry of amazement.
"What is it?" she said indifferently.
He did not answer, but turned the letter and read it over
again. Then he folded it with shaking fingers.
"I have news here. Miss Vance thinks it time that I was
told, and I agree with her. It appears that I am a
pauper, and always have been. My father died penniless."
"Then Jacques will be poor?"
"Jacques! You think of nothing but that mewling,
senseless thing! It is mother--she always has supported
me. We are living now on the money that she earns from
week to week, while I play that I am an artist!"
Lisa listened attentively. "It does not seem strange
that a mother should work for her son," she said slowly.
"But she has never told us! That is fine! I like that!
I told you she had very good traits."
George stared at her. "But--me! Don't you see what a cad
I am?"
He paced up and down, muttering, and then throwing on his
hat went out into the night to be alone.
Lisa sank back again and watched Jacques. At military
school, yes; and after he had left school he would be a
soldier, perhaps. Such a gallant young fellow!
She leaned over the cradle, holding out her hands. Ah,
God! if she could but live to see it! Surely it might
be? There was no pain now. Doctors were not
infallible--even D'Abri might be mistaken, after all.
George, coming in an hour later, found her sitting with
her hands covering her face.
"Are you asleep, Lisa?"
"There is a telegram from Clara. My mother has left
Munich for Vannes. She will be here in two days."
She rose with an effort. "I am glad for you, George."
"You are ill, Lisa!"
"A little tired, only. Colette will give me my powder,
and I shall be quite well in the morning. Will you send
her to me now?"
After George was gone the rumbling of a diligence
was heard in the courtyard, and presently a woman was
brought up to the opposite chamber.
The hall was dark. Looking across it, Frances Waldeaux
saw in the lighted room Lisa and her child.
Before we come to the dark story of that night in the
inn, it is but fair to Frances to say that she came there
with no definite evil purpose. She had been cheerful on
her journey from Munich. There was one clear fact in her
brain: She was on her way to George.
The countless toy farms of southern France, trimmed
neatly by the inch, swept past her. In Brittany came
melancholy stretches of brown heath and rain-beaten
hills; or great affluent estates, the Manor houses
covered with thatch, stagnant pools close to the doors,
the cattle breaking through the slovenly wattled walls.
Frances, being a farmer, felt a vague amusement at
these things, but they were all dim to her as a faded
landscape hanging on the wall.
She was going to George.
Sometimes she seemed to be in Lucy's room again, with the
sweet, clean air of youth about her. All of that
purity and love might have gone into George's
life--before it fell into the slough.
But she was going now to take it out of the slough.
There was a merchant and his wife from Geneva in the
carriage with their little boy, a pretty child of five.
Frances played and joked with him.
"Has madam also a son?" his mother asked civilly.
She said yes, and presently added, "My son has now a
great trouble, but I am going to relieve him of it."
The woman, startled, stared at her.
"Is it not right for me to rid him of it?" she demanded
"Mais oui, certainement" said the Swiss. She watched
Frances after that furtively. Her eyes, she thought,
were quite sane. But how eccentric all of these
Americans were!
Mrs. Waldeaux reached Vannes at nightfall. At last!
Here was the place in this great empty world where he
When the diligence entered the courtyard, George was so
near to the gate that the smoke of his cigar was
blown into her face, but he did not see her. He was lean
and pale, and his eyes told his misery. When she saw
them his mother grew sick from head to foot with a sudden
nausea. This was his wife's doing. She was killing him!
Frances hurried into the inn, her legs giving way under
her. She could not speak to him. She must think what to
She was taken to her room. It was dark, and across the
corridor she saw Lisa in her lighted chamber. This was
good luck! God had put the creature at once into her
hands to deal with!
She was conscious of a strange exaltation, as if from
wine--as if she would never need to sleep nor eat again.
Her thoughts came and went like flashes of fire. She
watched Lisa as she would a vampire, a creeping deadly
beast. Pauline Felix--all that was adulterous and vile
in women--there it was!
Her mind too, as never before, was full of a haughty
complacency in herself. She felt like the member of some
petty sect who is sure that God communes with him inside
of his altar rails, while the man is outside whom he
believes that God made only to be damned.
Lisa began to undress. Frances quickly turned away,
ashamed of peeping into her chamber. But the one fact
burned on into her brain:
The woman was killing George.
If God would rid the world of her! If a storm should
rise now, and the lightning strike the house, and these
stone walls should fall on her, now--now!
But the walls stood firm and the moonlight shone
tranquilly on the world outside.
She told herself to be calm--to be just. But there was
no justice while this woman went on with her work! God
saw. He meant her to be stopped. Frances prayed to him
frantically that Lisa might soon be put off of the earth.
Just as the Catholic used to pray before he massacred the
Huguenot, or the Protestant, when he tied his Catholic
brother to the stake. If this woman was mad for blood,
it was a madness that many sincere people have shared.
Colette was busy with her mistress for a long time. She
was very gentle and tender, being fond of Lisa, as people
of her class always were. She raised her voice as she
made ready to leave the room.
"If the pain returns, here is the powder of morphia,
mixed, within madame's reach," she said.
Frances came close to the door.
"And if it continues?" asked Lisa.
"Let monsieur call me. I would not trust him to measure
a powder," Colette said, laughing. "It is too dangerous.
He is not used to it--like me."
Mrs. Waldeaux saw her lay a paper package on a shelf.
"I will pray that the pain will not return," the girl
said. "But if it does, let monsieur knock at my door.
Here is the tisane when you are thirsty." She placed a
goblet of milky liquid near the bed.
What more she said Frances did not hear.
It was to be! There was the morphia, and yonder the
night drink within her reach. It was God's will.
Colette turned out the lamp, hesitated, and sat down by
the fire. Presently she rose softly, bent over her
mistress, and, finding her asleep, left the room
noiselessly. Her door closed far down the corridor.
Mrs. Waldeaux was quite alone, now.
It was but a step across the hall. So easy to do--easy.
It must be done at once.
But her feet were like lead, she could not move; her
tongue lay icy cold in her mouth. Her soul was willing,
but her body rebelled.
What folly was this? It was the work of a moment.
George would be free. She would have freed him.
In God's name then----
She crossed the hall softly. Into the hell of her
thoughts flashed a little womanish shame, that she,
Frances Waldeaux, should be walking on tiptoe, like a
She took down the package, and leaning over the table at
the side of the bed, shook the white powder into the
glass. Then she went back to her room and shut the door.
The casement was open and the moonlight was white
outside. She was conscious that the glare hurt her eyes,
and that there was a strange stricture about her jaws and
the base of her brain, like an iron hand.
It seemed to her but a minute that she stood there, but
the dawn was breaking when there was a sudden confusion
in the opposite room. She heard Colette's voice,
and then George's, calling Lisa.
There was no answer.
Frances stood up, to listen. "Will she not speak?" she
cried. "Make her speak!"
But in reality she said nothing. Even her breath had
stopped to listen.
There was no answer.
Frances was awake now, for the rest of her life. She
knew what she had done.
"Why, George," she said, "she cannot speak. She is dead.
I did it."
She stood in the room a minute, looking from side to
side, and then went with measured steps out of it, down
the corridor and into the street.
"I did it," she said to herself again and again, as she
walked slowly on.
The old cathedral is opposite to the inn. Her eyes, as
she passed, rested on the gargoyles, and she thought how
fine they were. One was a ridiculous head with lolling
A priest's voice inside was chanting mass. A dozen
Breton women in their huge white winged caps and wooden
shoes hurried up to the door, through the gray fog. They
met Mrs. Waldeaux and saw her face. They huddled to
one side, crossing themselves, and when she passed, stood
still, forgetting the mass and looking, frightened, up
the steep street behind her to find what horror had
pursued her.
"They know what I have done," she said aloud.
Once when she was a child she had accidentally seen a
bloated wretch, a murderer, on his way to the gallows.
"I am he," she thought. "I--_I_, Frances."
Then the gargoyle came into her mind again. What a
capital headpiece it would make for "Quigg's" next
column! It was time this week's jokes were sent.
But at last these ghosts of yesterday's life faded out,
and she saw the fact.
She had hated her son's wife and had killed her!
When the sun was well up the women who had been at mass
gathered down by the little river which runs through the
old city, to wash their clothes. They knelt on the broad
stones by the edge of the water, chattering and singing,
tossing the soap from one to another.
There was a sudden silence. "Here she is again," they
whispered, as a slight, delicate woman crossed the bridge
with steady steps.
"She is blind and deaf," said old Barbe. "I met her an
hour ago and asked her whom she sought. She did not see
nor hear me, but walked straight on."
Oliver Bauzy was lounging near, as usual, watching his
wife work.
"She is English. What does she know of your Breton talk?
I speak English and French--I!" he bragged, and walking
up to Mrs. Waldeaux, he flourished his ragged hat,
smiling. "Is madame ill? She has walked far," he said
The English words seemed to waken her. "It is always the
town," looking around bewildered. "The people--houses.
I think I am not well. If I could find the woods----"
Bauzy had but a hazy idea of her meaning, but he nodded
gravely. "She is a tourist. She wants to go out of
Vannes--to see the chateaux, the dolmens. I'm her man.
I'll drive her to Larmor Baden," he said to his wife. "I
have to go there to-day, and I may as well make a franc
or two. Keep her until I bring the voiture."
But Frances stood motionless until the old wagon rattled
up to the water's edge.
"She has a dear old face," Bauzy's wife whispered.
"She is blind and deaf, I tell you," old Barbe grumbled,
peering up at her. "Make her pay, Oliver, before you
Bauzy nodded, and when Frances was seated held out his
"Twenty francs," he said.
She opened her bag and gave them to him.
"She must be folle!" he said uneasily. "I feel like a
thief. Away with you, Babette!" as a pretty baby ran up
to him. "You want to ride? That is impossible.
Unless, indeed, madame desires it?" lifting the child to
place her on the seat. Babette laughed and held out her
But Mrs. Waldeaux shrank back, shuddering. "Take her
away," she whispered. "She must not touch me!"
The mother seized the child, and the women all talked
vehemently at once. Oliver climbed into the voiture
and drove off in silence. When he looked around
presently he saw that the woman's face was bloodless, and
a cold sweat stood on it.
He considered a while. "You want food," he said, and
brought out some hard bread and a jug of Normandy cider.
Frances shook her head. She only spoke once during the
morning, and then told him something about a woman "whom
no child could touch. No man or woman could touch her as
long as she lived. Not even her son."
As Bauzy could make nothing of this, he could only nod
and laugh civilly. But presently he, too, grew silent,
glancing at her uncomfortably from time to time.
They drove through great red fields of sarasson,
hedged by long banks of earth, which were masses of
golden gorse and bronzed and crimson ferns. The sun
shone, the clover-scented air was full of the joyous
buzzing of bees and chirp of birds.
"It is a gay, blessed day!" Bauzy said, thanks to the
good God! "He waited anxiously for her reply, but she
stared into the sunshine and said nothing.
Larmor Baden is a lonely little cluster of gray stone
huts on the shore of the Morbihan sea. Some of Bauzy's
friends lounged smiling up to welcome him, waving their
wide black hats with velvet streamers, and bowing low to
the lady. Oliver alighted with decision. One thing he
knew: He would not drive back with her. Something was
amiss. He would wash his hands of her.
"Here, madame, is Vincent Selo, paysageur," he said
rapidly in French. "He has a good boat. He will take
you where you desire. Sail with her to Gavr' Inis," he
said to Selo, "and bring her back at her pleasure.
Somebody can drive her back to Vannes, and don't
overcharge her, you robbers!"
"Gavr' Inis?" Frances repeated.
"It is an island in the sea yonder, madame. A quiet
place of trees. When there was not a man in the world,
evil spirits built there an altar for the worship of the
devil. No men could have built it. There are huge
stones carried there from the mountains far inland, that
no engine could lift. It is a great mystery."
"It is the one place in the world, people say,"
interrupted Selo, lowering his voice, "where God never
has been. A dreadful place, madame!"
Frances laughed. "That is the place for me," she said to
Selo. "Take me there."
The old man looked at her with shrewd, friendly eyes, and
then beckoned Bauzy aside.
"Who is she? She has the bearing of a great lady, but
her face hurts me. What harm has come to her?"
"How do I know?" said Bauzy. "Go for your boat. The sea
is rising."
Late in the afternoon M. Selo landed his strange
passenger upon the pebbly beach of the accursed island.
He led her up on the rocks, talking, and pointing across
the sea.
"Beyond is the Atlantic, and on yonder headland are the
great menhirs of Carnac--thirty thousand of them, brought
there before Christ was born. But the Evil One loves
this island best of all places. It has in it the mystery
of the world. Come," he said, in an awed voice. "It is
He crossed to the hill, stooped, and entered a dark cave
about forty feet long, which was wholly lined with huge
flat rocks carved with countless writhing serpents. As
Frances passed they seemed to stir and breathe beside
her, at her feet, overhead. The cave opened into a
sacrificial chamber. The reptiles grew gigantic here,
and crowded closer. Through some rift a beam of
melancholy light crept in; a smell of death hung in the
thick, unclean air.
Selo pointed to a stone altar. "It was there they killed
their victims," he whispered, and began to pray
anxiously, half-aloud. When he had finished, he hurried
back, beckoning to her to come out.
"Go," she said. "I will stay here."
"Then I will wait outside. This is no place for
Christian souls. But we must return soon, madame.
My little girl will be watching now for me."
When he was gone she stood by the altar. This island of
Gavr' Inis was one of the places to which she and George
had long ago planned to come. She remembered the very
day on which they had read the legend that on this altar
men before the Flood had sacrificed to the god of Murder.
"I am the murderer now, and George knows it," she said
quietly. But she was cold and faint, and presently began
to tremble weakly.
She went out of the cave and stood on the beach. "I want
to go home, George," she said aloud. "I want to be
Frances Waldeaux again. I'm sure I didn't know it was in
me to do that thing."
There was no answer. She was alone in the great space of
sky and sea. The world was so big and empty, and she
alone and degraded in it!
"I never shall see George again. He will think of me
only as the woman who killed his wife," she thought.
She went on blindly toward the water, and stood there a
long time.
Then, in the strait of her agony, there came to Frances
Waldeaux, for the first time in her life, a perception
that there was help for her in the world, outside of her
own strength. Her poor tortured wits discerned One, more
real than her crime, or George, or the woman that she had
killed. It was an old, hackneyed story, that He knew
every man and woman in the world, that He could help
them. She had heard it often.
Was there any thing in it? Could He help her?
Slowly, the nervous twitching of her body quieted, her
dulled eyes cleared as if a new power of sight were
coming to them.
After a long time she heard steps, and Selo calling. She
The murder was known. They were coming to arrest her.
What did it matter? She had found help.
Selo came up excitedly.
"It is another boat, English folk also, that comes to
She turned and waited.
And then, coming up the hill, she saw George, and
with him--Lisa! Lisa, smiling as she talked.
They ran to meet her with cries of amazement. She
staggered back on the rock.
"You are not dead? Lisa----"
"Dead? Poor lady!" catching her in her arms. "Some
water, George! It is her head. She has been too much
When Frances opened her eyes she was lying on the grass,
her children kneeling beside her. She caught Lisa's arm
in both hands and felt it: then she sat up.
"I must tell you what I did--before you speak to me."
"Not now," said Lisa. "You are not well. I am going to
be your nurse. The baby has made me a very good nurse,"
and she stooped again over Frances, with kind, smiling
Selo came to wile George up to the mysterious cave, but
Lisa impatiently hurried them to the beach. "Caves and
serpent worshippers truly!" she cried. "Why, she has not
seen Jacques!" and when, in the boat, George, who was
greatly alarmed, tried to rouse his mother from her
silent stupor, Lisa said gayly, "She will be herself
again as soon as she sees HIM."
When they reached Larmor Baden, she despatched George in
search of Colette and the child, and she went into the
church. It was late, and the village women sat on the
steps gossipping in the slanting sunlight. There is
nothing in their lives but work and the church; and when,
each day, they have finished with one they go to the
Frances followed her. The sombre little church was
vacant. She touched Lisa on the shoulder.
"There is something I must tell you," she said. "You
would not let me touch the child, if you knew it."
She stooped and spoke a few sentences in a vehement
whisper, and then leaned back, exhausted, against the
Lisa drew back. Her lips were white with sudden fright,
but she scanned Mrs. Waldeaux's face keenly.
"You were in Vannes last night? You tried---- My God,
I remember! The tisane tasted queerly, and I threw it
out." She walked away for a moment, and then turning,
said, "You called my mother a vile woman once. But SHE
would not have done that thing!
"No," said Frances, not raising her head. "No."
Lisa stood looking at her as she crouched against the
wall. The fierce scorn slowly died out of her eyes. She
was a coarse, but a good-natured, woman. An awful
presence, too, walked with her always now, step by step,
and in that dread shadow she saw the things of life more
justly than we do.
She took Frances by the hand at last. "You were not
quite yourself, I think," she said quietly. "I have
pushed you too hard. George has told me so much about
you! If we could be together for a while, perhaps we
should love each other a little. But there is no time
now----" She turned hastily, and threw herself down
before a crucifix.
After a long time she went out to the vestibule, where
she found Frances, and said, with an effort to be
cheerful and matter-of-fact, "Come, now, let us talk like
reasonable people. A thing is coming to me which comes
to every-body. I'm not one to whine. But it's the
child--I don't think any baby ever was as much to a woman
as Jacques is to me. I suppose God does not think I am
fit to bring him up. Sit down and let me tell you
all about it."
They sat on the steps, talking in a low tone. Frances
cried, but Lisa's eyes were quite dry and bright. She
rose at last.
"You see, there will be no woman to care for him, if you
do not. There he is with Colette." She ran down, took
the baby from the bonne, and laid him in Frances's
Mrs. Waldeaux looked down at him. "George's son," she
whispered, "George's boy!"
"He is very like George and you," Lisa answered. "He is
a Waldeaux."
"Yes, I see."
She held him close to her breast as they drove back to
Vannes. George whistled and sang on the box. He was
very light of heart to have her with him again.
He looked impatiently at an ancient village through which
they passed, with its towers, and peasants in strange
garbs, like the pictures in some crusading tale.
"Now that we have mother, Lisa," he said, "we'll go
straight back home. I am tired of mediaeval times.
I must get to work for this youngster."
Lisa did not speak for a moment. "I should like to stay
in Vannes a little longer," she said. "I did not tell
you, but--my mother is buried there. That was why I
came; I should like to be with her."
"Why, of course, dear. As long as you like," he said
"I will not detain you long. Perhaps only a week or
two," she said.
He nodded, and began to whistle cheerfully again.
Frances looked at Lisa, and her eyes filled with tears.
It was a pitiful tragedy!
But the poor girl was quite right not to worry George
until the last moment. She was blocking his way--ruining
his life, and God was taking her away so that she could
no longer harm him.
And yet--poor Lisa!
They drove on. The sun warmed the crimson fields, and
the birds chirped, and this was George's child creeping
close to her breast. It stirred there a keen pang of
Surely He had forgiven her.
A month later a group of passengers in deep mourning
stood apart on the deck of the Paris as she left the
dock at Liverpool. It was George Waldeaux, his mother,
and little Jacques with his nurse. Mrs. Waldeaux was
looking at Clara and her girls, who were watching her
from the dock. They had come to Vannes when Lisa died,
and had taken care of her and the baby until now.
Frances had cried at leaving them, but George stood with
his back to them moodily, looking down into the black
"It seems but a few days since we sailed from New York on
the Kaiser Wilhelm," he said, "and yet I have lived out
all my life in that time."
"All? Is there nothing left, George?" his mother said
"Oh, of course, you are always a good companion, and
there is the child----" He paused. The fierce passions,
the storms of delight and pain of his life with Lisa
rushed back on him. "I will work for others, and wear
out the days as I can," he said. "But life is over for
me. The story is told. There are only blank pages now
to the end."
He turned his dim eyes toward the French coast. She knew
that they saw the little bare grave on the hill in
Vannes. "I wish I could have seen something green
growing on it before I left her there alone!" he
"Her mother's grave was covered with roses----" Frances
answered quickly. "They will creep over to her.
She is not alone, George. I am glad she was laid by her
mother. She loved her dearly."
"Yes. Better than any thing on earth," he responded
A few moments later the ship swung heavily around.
"We are going! Mrs. Waldeaux cried, waving her hand.
"Won't you look at Clara and Lucy, George? They have been
so good to us. If Lucy had been my own child, she could
not have been kinder to me."
Mr. Waldeaux turned and raised his crepe-bound hat,
looking at Lucy in her soft gray gown vaguely, as he
might at a white gull dropped on the shore.
"I suppose I never shall see her again," said his mother.
"Clara tells me she is besieged by lovers. She is
going to marry a German prince, probably."
"That would be a pity," George said, with a startled
glance back at the girl.
"Good-by, my dear!" Mrs. Waldeaux leaned over the
bulwark. "She is beautiful as an angel! Good-by, Lucy!
God bless you! she sobbed, kissing her hand.
Mr. Waldeaux looked steadily at Lucy. "How clean she
is!" he said.
When the shore was gone he walked down the deck,
conscious of a sudden change in himself. He was wakening
out of an ugly dream. The sight of the healthy little
girl, with her dewy freshness and blue eyes, full of
affection and common sense, cheered and heartened him.
He did not know what was doing it, but he threw up his
head and walked vigorously. The sun shone and the cold
wind swept him out into a dim future to begin a new life.
George Waldeaux took his mother and boy back to the old
homestead in Delaware. They arrived at night, and early
the next morning he rowed away in his bateau to some of
his old haunts in the woods on the bay, and was seen no
more that day.
"He is inconsolable!" his mother told some of her old
neighbors who crowded to welcome her. "His heart is in
that grave in Vannes."
The women listened in surprise, for Frances was not in
the habit of exploiting her emotions in words.
"We understood," said one of them, with a sympathetic
shake of the head, "that it was a pure love match. Mrs.
George Waldeaux, we heard, was a French artist of
remarkable beauty?"
Frances moved uneasily. "I never thought her--but I
can't discuss Lisa!" She was silent a moment. "But as
for her social position"--she drew herself up
stiffly, fixing cold defiant eyes on her questioner--"as
for her social position," she went on resolutely, "she
was descended on one side from an excellent American
family, and on the other from one of the noblest houses
in Europe."
When they were gone she hugged little Jacques
passionately as he lay on her lap. "That is settled for
you!" she said.
When George came back in the evening, he found her
walking with the boy in her arms on the broad piazzas.
"I really think he knows that he has come home, George!"
she exclaimed. "See how he laughs! And he liked the
dogs and horses just as Lisa thought he would. I am glad
it is such a beautiful home for him. Look at that slope
to the bay! There is no nobler park in England! And the
house is as big as most of their palaces, and much more
"Give the child to Colette, mother, and listen to me.
Now that I have settled you and him here, I must go and
earn your living."
She followed him into the hall.
"I leave you to-morrow. There is no time to be lost."
"You are going back to art, George?"
"No! Never!"
Frances grew pale. She thought she had torn open his
gaping wound.
"I did not mean to remind you of--of----"
"No, it isn't that!"
He scowled at the fire. Art meant for him his own
countless daubs, and the sickening smell of oily paints
and musk, and soiled silk tea gowns, and the whole
slovenly, disreputable scramble of Bohemian life in
"I loathe art!" he said, with a furious blow at the
smouldering log in the fireplace, as if he struck these
things all down into the ashes with it.
"Will you go back into the Church, dear?" his mother
ventured timidly.
"Most certainly, no!" he said vehemently. "Of all mean
frauds the perfunctory priest is the meanest. If I
could be like one of the old holy gospellers--then indeed!"
He was silent a moment, and then began to stride up and
down the long hall, his head thrown back, his chest
"I have a message for the world, mother."
"I am sure of it," she interrupted eagerly.
"But I must deliver it in my own way. I have lost two
years. I am going to put in big strokes of work now. In
the next two years I intend to take my proper place in my
own country. I will find standing room for George
Waldeaux," with a complacent smile. "And in the
meantime, of course, I must make money enough to support
you and the boy handsomely. So you see, mother," he
ended, laughing, "I have no time to lose."
"No, George!" It was the proudest moment of her life.
How heroic and generous he was!
She filled his pocket-book the next day, when he went to
New York to take the world by the throat. It was really
not George Waldeaux's fault that she filled it.
Nor was it his fault that during the next two years the
world was in no hurry to run to his feet, either to learn
of him, or to bring him its bags of gold. The little man
did his best; he put his "message," as he called it, into
poems, into essays, into a novel. Publishers thanked him
effusively for the pleasure of reading them,
and--sent them back. The only word of his which reached
the public was a review of the work of a successful
author. It was so personal, so malignant, that George,
when he read it, writhed with shame and humiliation. He
tore the paper into fragments.
"Am I so envious and small as that! Before God, no words
of mine shall ever go into print again!" he said, and he
kept his word.
He came down every month or two to his mother.
"Why not try teaching, George?" she said anxiously.
"These great scholars and scientific men have places and
reputations which even you need not despise."
He laughed bitterly. "I tried for a place as tutor in a
third-class school, and could not pass the examinations.
I know nothing accurately. Nothing."
It occurred to him to go into politics and help reform
the world by routing a certain Irish boss. He made a
speech at a ward meeting, and broke down in the middle of
it before the storm of gibes and hootings.
"What was the matter?" he asked a friend, whose face was
red with laughter.
"My dear fellow, you shouldn't lecture them! You're not
the parson. They resent your air of enormous
superiority. For Heaven's sake, don't speak again--in
this campaign."
It is a wretched story. There is no need of going into
the details. There was no room for him. He tried in
desperation to get some foothold in business. The times
were hard that winter, which of course was against him.
Besides, his critical, haughty air naturally did not
prepossess employers in his favor when he came to ask for
a job.
At the end of the second year the man broke down.
"The work of the world," he told Frances, "belongs to
specialists. Even a bootblack knows his trade. I know
nothing. I can do nothing. I am a mass of flabby
Every month she filled his pocket-book. She found at
last that he did not touch the money. He sold his
clothes and his jewelry to keep himself alive while he
tramped the streets of New York looking for work. He
starved himself to make this money last. His flesh was
lead-colored from want of proper food, and he
staggered from weakness. "`He that will not work neither
let him eat,'" he said grimly.
It was about this time that Miss Vance came home. Mrs.
Waldeaux in a moment of weakness gave her a hint of his
"Is the world blind," she cried, "to deny work to a man
of George's capacity? What does it mean?"
Clara heard of George's sufferings with equanimity. "The
truth is," she said, when she told the story to Miss
Dunbar, "Frances brought that boy up to believe that he
was a Grand Llama among men. There is no work for Grand
Llamas in this country, and when he understands that he
is made of very ordinary clay indeed, he will probably be
of some use in the world."
Lucy was watering her roses. "It is a matter of
indifference to me," she said, "what the people of New
York think of Mr. Waldeaux."
Clara looked at her quickly. "I do not quite catch your
meaning?" she said.
But Lucy filled her can, and forgot to answer.
Clara had brought Miss Dunbar back and established her in
her own house near Weir, under the care of a deaf widowed
aunt. Dunbar Place was a stately colonial house, set in
a large demesne, and all Kent County waited breathless to
know what revelations the heiress would make to it, in
the way of equi-pages, marqueterie furniture, or Paris
Mrs. Waldeaux found Lucy one day, a month after her
arrival, seated at her sewing on the broad, rose-covered
piazza, looking as if she never had left it.
"Have you come to stay now, my dear," she said, "or will
Prince Wolfburgh----"
"Oh, that is an old story," interrupted Clara. "Lucy
handed the little prince over to Jean Hassard, who
married him after he had a long fight with her father
about her dot. He won the dot, but Count Odo is now
the head of the house. Jean, I hear, is in Munich
fighting her way up among the Herrschaft."
"Jean has good fighting qualities," Lucy said. "She will
"I had a letter from her to-day," said Miss Vance.
"Here it is. She says, `I mean to rebuild the Schloss,
and I have put a stop to the soap-boiling business. I
will have no fumes of scorching fat in our ancestral
halls. Four of the princesses live with us here in the
flat. Gussy Carson from Pond City is staying with me
now. We have an American tea every Wednesday. Gus
receives with me.'"
"Poor princesses!" said Lucy.
Miss Vance folded the letter with a complacent nod. "I
am glad that Jean is settled so satisfactorily," she
said. "As for Lucy----"
No one answered. Lucy threaded her needle.
"I start next week to Chicago, did you know, Frances?
The Bixbys--two orphan heiresses--wish me to take them to
Australia, coming back by India. And I suppose," she
said, rising impatiently, "if I were to stay away forty
years I should find Lucy when I came back, with white
hair maybe, but sitting calmly sewing, not caring whether
there was a man in the world or not!"
Lucy laughed, but did not even blush.
Mrs. Waldeaux presently said good-by, and Clara went home
with her to spend the night. Lucy was left alone upon
the piazza. It was there that George Waldeaux saw her
This had been the hardest day of his life. He rose that
morning telling himself with an oath that he would earn
the money to buy his own food or never eat again. His
mother had sent him a cheque by post. He tore it up and
went out of his cheap lodging-house without breakfast.
There was a queer change in him--a sudden lofty
independence--a sudden loathing of himself. He knew now
that it was not in him to do good work in the world, but
at least he would pay his own way. He had been a mass of
vanity and now he was so mean in his own eyes that he
shrank from the passers-by. Perhaps the long strain had
damaged the gray matter of the brain, or some nervous
centre--I do not know what change a physician would have
found in him, but the man was changed.
A clerk was needed in a provision shop on Green
Street. George placed himself in the line of dirty,
squalid applicants. The day was hot, the air of the shop
was foul with the smells of rotting meat and vegetables.
He felt himself stagger against a stall. He seemed to be
asleep, but he heard the butchers laughing. They called
him a drunken tramp, and then he was hurled out on the
muddy pavement.
"Too much whiskey for this time o' day!" a policeman
said, hauling him to his feet.
"Move along, young man!"
Whiskey? That was what he wanted. He turned into a shop
and bought a dram with his last pennies. It made him
comfortable for a few hours, then he began to cry and
swear. George Waldeaux had never been drunk in his life.
The ascetic, stainless priest in him stood off and looked
at this dog of the gutter with his obscene talk, and then
came defeat of soul and body.
"I give up!" he said quietly. "I'll never try again."
He wandered unconsciously to the ferry and, having his
yearly book of tickets in his pocket, took the train for
home from force of habit. He left the cars at a
station several miles from Weir, and wandered across the
country. Just at sundown, covered with mud and weak from
hunger and drunkenness, he crossed the lawn before Lucy's
house and, looking up, saw her.
He had stumbled into a world of peace and purity! A soft
splendor filled the sky and the bay and the green slopes,
with their clumps of mighty forest trees. The air was
full of the scents of flowers and the good-night song of
happy birds. And in the midst of it all, lady of the
great domain, under her climbing rose vines, sat the
young, fair woman, clad in some fleecy white garments,
her head bent, her blue eyes fixed on the
George stopped, sobered by a sudden wrench of his heart.
There was the world to which he belonged--there! His
keen eye noted every delicate detail of her beauty and of
her dress. He was of her sort, her kind--he, kicked into
the gutter from that foul shop as a tramp!
This is what I have lost! his soul cried to him.
He had not as yet recognized Lucy. But now she saw him,
and with a little inarticulate cry like that of a
bird, she flew down the steps. "Ah! It is you!" she
said. "I thought you would come to welcome me some
Her voice was like a soft breath; her airy draperies blew
against him. It was as if a wonderful, beautiful dream
were folding him in--and in.
He drew back. "I am not fit, Miss Dunbar. I did not
know you were here. Why--look at me!"
"Oh! You are ill! You have had an accident!" she cried.
She had laid her little white fingers on his hand and
now, feeling it burn and tremble at her touch, she caught
it in both of her own and drew him into the house.
"Mr. Waldeaux," she said to a servant who appeared,
"has had a fall. Bring him water and towels. Take care
of him, Stephen." She spoke quietly, but her voice
trembled with fright.
The man led George to an inner room.
"Were you thrown, sir?" he asked sympathetically.
George hesitated. "Yes, I was thrown," he said grimly.
He made himself clean in angry haste, taking the
whisk from the man and brushing off the dry mud with a
vicious fury.
Lucy came to meet him, with a pale, anxious smile. "You
must not go without a cup of hot coffee," she said,
leading him to a lounge in the hall. It was very sweet
to be treated like a sick man!
"And God knows I am sick, body and soul!" he thought,
sinking down.
Beside the lounge was a little table with one cover. He
noted with keen pleasure the delicate napery, the silver
candlesticks, the bowl of roses, with which the
substantial meal was set out. Lucy waited on him with
the quick intelligence of a trained nurse. She scarcely
spoke, yet her every motion, as she served him, seemed a
caress. When he had finished he began to stammer out his
"No," she said, rising decisively. "You are too weak to
talk to me to-night, Mr. Waldeaux. The coupe is at the
door. John will drive you home. You need sleep now."
As he sank down into the luxurious cushions and drove
away through the twilight, he saw the little white figure
in the door, and the grave wistful face looking after
"Did she suspect!" he suddenly cried, starting up.
But George Waldeaux never knew how much Lucy suspected
that night.
Meanwhile Mrs. Waldeaux's mare had jogged on leisurely,
dragging her mistress and Miss Vance home through the
shady country lanes.
"Phebe is old," apologized Frances. "She really is a
retired car horse."
"You used to take pride in your horses, Frances?"
"Yes." Mrs. Waldeaux added after a pause. "My income is
small. Of course George soon will be coining money, but
just now---- The peach crop failed this year too. And
I save every dollar for Jack's education."
"But what of the jokes for the New York paper? They were
"Oh, I gave them up long ago." She glanced around
cautiously. "Never speak of that, Clara. I would not
have George know for the world; I never would hold up my
head if he knew that I was `Quigg.'"
Miss Vance gave a contemptuous sniff, but Mrs. Waldeaux
went on eagerly, "I have a plan! You know that
swampy tract of ours near Lewes? When I have enough
money I'll drain it and lay out a summer
resort--hotels--cottages. I'll develop it as I sell the
lots. Oh, Jack shall have his millions yet to do great
work in the world!" her eyes sparkling. "Though perhaps
he may choose to strip himself of everything to give to
the poor, like Francis d'Assisi! That would be best of
all. It's not unlikely. He is the most generous boy!"
"Stuff!" said Miss Vance. "St. Francis, indeed! I
observe, by the way, that he crosses himself after his
meals. Are you making a Romanist of the child? And you
speak French to him, too?"
Mrs. Waldeaux's color rose. "His mother was French and
Catholic," she said. "I will not have Lisa forgotten."
They went on in silence. Miss Vance was lost in thought.
Was George Waldeaux equally eager to keep his wife's
memory alive? Now that the conceit had been beaten out
of him, he would not make a bad husband. And her child
Lucy had always--esteemed him highly.
The next day was Sunday. George jumped out of bed with
the dawn. He whistled and sang scraps of songs as he
took his bath. The sun shone. What a full, happy world
it was, anyhow! And he had given up the game last night?
Why, life was just beginning for him! He was nothing but
a boy--not yet thirty. He would make a big success soon,
and then try to win--to win---- He stopped, breathless,
looking into the distance, and his eyes slowly grew wet
with passion and longing.
He left the house and struck across the country through
the woodland and farms. He did not know why he went--he
had to go. When he reached the Dunbar woods, he stood in
the thicket for hours, watching the house. She came out
at last and sat down on the steps to play with the dog.
Last night in her white, delicate beauty she had not
seemed real--she was far off, like an angel coming down
into his depths of misery.
But to-day she sat on the steps in her pretty blue gown,
and laughed and rolled Tramp over, and sung snatches of
songs, and was nothing but a foolish girl. For so many
years he had been thinking of work and money-making and
bosses. All of that mean drudgery fell out of sight now.
He was a man, young, alone, on fire with hope and
passion. His share of life had been mean and pinched;
yonder was youth and gladness and tranquillity. The
world was empty, save for themselves. He was here, and
there was the one woman in it--the one woman.
He looked at his tanned, rough fingers. Last night she
had folded them in her two soft little hands, and drawn
him on--on into home!
He would go up to her now and tell her----
George pushed aside the bushes, but at that moment Lucy
rose and went into the house. After a moment he crossed
the lawn and sat down on the piazza, calling the dog to
him. She would come back soon. Tramp's head rested on
his knee as he stroked it. It was here her hand had
touched it--and here----
The scent of roses was heavy in the sunshine, the bees
hummed; he sat there in a hazy dream, waiting for
the door to open and the joy of his life to begin.
He was dragged roughly enough out of his dream.
Miss Dunbar's landau drove to the door to take her to
church. George looked up, carelessly noting how quiet
and perfectly appointed it was, from the brown liveries
of the negro coachman and footman to the trappings on the
black ponies. There were no horses of such high breed in
Delaware. He stood up suddenly, his jaws pale as if he
had been struck. What money there was in it! He had
forgotten. She was a great heiress.
She came out at the moment. He scanned her fiercely, the
plain, costly gown, the ruby blazing on her ungloved
hand. Then he glanced down at his own shabby Sunday
suit. She was the richest woman in Delaware, and he had
not a dollar in his pocket, and no way to earn one.
He went up to her, courteously took her hand when she
held it out, blushing and dimpling, bowed to her aunt,
saying that he had merely walked over to put her into her
carriage, and, having shut the door, looked after
them, hat in hand, smiling when she glanced shyly back at
Then he laughed loudly. If he had the salary that she
paid her negro driver he would be lucky! And he had
meant to marry her. He laughed again and took his way
His mother was waiting to give George his breakfast.
Whether he chose to lie in bed until noon or to walk
twenty miles at dawn, she smiled a joyful approval. But
neither the crisp toast, nor the fried chicken, nor any
of her funny stories, would penetrate the blackness of
his gloom.
"Oh, by the way!" she said; "here is a letter that came
by last night's mail. I forgot to give it to you."
He glanced at the envelope. "Great Heavens! It is life
and death to me, and you forget it to tell Jack's pert
sayings!" He read the letter and threw it down.
"What is it, George?" she asked humbly.
"Burnett & Hoyle offer me a place in their house."
"Mr. Hoyle is an old friend of mine. I wrote to him.
What is the salary, George?"
"Forty dollars a week. I could earn more as a
coachman--for some rich heiress."
"But George dear---- It would be a beginning. They are
brokers, and there are so many short cuts to fortune in
that business! Do try it, my son."
"Of course I'll try it. Do you think I'm a fool? It
will keep me from starving. But I want something else in
life than to be kept from starving, mother."
He stretched out his arms with a groan, and walked to the
window. She followed him with wretched, comprehending
eyes. Why did not Lucy give him her fortune? Any woman
would be honored who could give George her fortune.
"I always have heard that brokers know the short cuts to
wealth," she said calmly. "You go on the Street some
day, and come back a millionaire."
"That is a woman's idea of business. Instead, I will sit
on a high stool and drudge all day, and on Saturday get
my wages, and after three or four years I'll make a fight
for ten dollars more a week, and thank God if I get it.
`A short cut to fortune!'"
Mrs. Waldeaux carefully averted her eyes from him. "You
may marry," she said, "and it may happen that your
wife also will have some little income----"
"Mother! Look at me!" he interrupted her sternly. "I
will never be dependent on my wife, so help me God! "
"No, George, no! Of course not. Don't speak so loud.
Only, I thought if she had a small sum of her own, she
would feel more comfortable, that's all."
In spite of his ill temper George threw himself into his
work with zeal. After a couple of months he came home
for a day. He was dressed with the quiet elegance which
once had been so important in his eyes.
His mother noted it shrewdly. "A man has more courage to
face life, decently clothed," she said to herself.
He did not come again until winter. Lucy happened to be
spending the day with Mrs. Waldeaux. There were no
liveried servants, no priceless rings, no Worth gown in
sight. She was just the shy, foolish girl whom he had
once for an hour looked upon as his wife. George talked
about Wall Street to her, being now wise as to stocks;
took her out sleighing, and when in the evening she
took Jack in her arms and sang him to sleep, sat
listening with his head buried in his hands. Mrs.
Waldeaux carried the boy up to bed, and Lucy and George
were left alone. They talked long and earnestly.
"She consulted me about her affairs," he said, after she
was gone, his eyes shining.
"I am afraid she does not understand business!" Mrs.
Waldeaux replied anxiously.
"Oh, like a woman! That is, not at all. Her whole
property is in the hands of The Consolidated Good Faith
Companies. I reminded her of the old adage, `Never put
all of your eggs into one basket.'"
"But that is so sound a basket, George!"
"Yes. It is thought so," with a shrug.
"Poor child! She needs a guardian to advise her."
Waldeaux's countenance grew black. "She should employ an
attorney. It certainly will never be my duty to advise
Miss Dunbar," he retorted irritably.
George showed himself shrewd and able in his work. Mr.
Hoyle was a powerful backer. Before spring his
salary was doubled. But what was that? The gulf between
him and the great heiress gaped, impassable.
Lucy spent much time with her old friend, and Frances at
last broke the silence concerning him.
"The boy never before knew what love was. And it is you
that he loves, child."
"He has not told me so," said Lucy coldly.
"No. And never will. It is your wealth that makes him
dumb. I wish it was gone," said Frances earnestly.
"Gone. You would be so happy. What is money compared to
"George's wife?" Lucy laughed.
"Yes. George's wife. I know what he is worth," his
mother said boldly. "You might give it away?" looking
eagerly in the girl's face. "In charity."
"I might do so," said Miss Dunbar tranquilly.
One morning in April Mrs. Waldeaux saw George coming up
from the station. She ran to meet him.
He was pale and breathless with excitement. "What is it?
What has happened?" she cried.
"Hush--h! Come in. Shut the door. No one must hear.
The Consolidated Companies have failed. They have robbed
their depositors."
"Well, George? What have we---- Oh, Lucy!"
"Yes, Lucy! She is ruined! She has nothing. It was all
there." He paced up and down, hoarse with agitation and
triumph. "She mustn't know it, mother, until she is safe
in another home."
"Another home?"
"Oh, surely you understand! Here--if she will come.
Poor little girl! She has not a dollar! I am getting a
big salary. I can work for you all. My God! I will
have her at last! Unless---- Perhaps she won't come!
Mother, do you think she will come?" He caught her arm,
his jaws twitched, the tears stood in his eyes, as when
he used to come to her with his boyish troubles.
"How can I tell?" said Frances. "Go and ask her."
In July Miss Vance returned unexpectedly. Her charges
had tired of travel, and turned their backs upon India.
She dropped them in Chicago, and came to Weir for rest.
The evening of her arrival she strolled with Frances
through the park, listening to the story of George's
sudden wooing, and the quiet, hurried wedding.
"It had to be quiet and hurried," said Mrs. Waldeaux, "in
order to keep her ignorant of her change of fortune. He
took her to the Virginia mountains, so that no newspapers
could reach her. They are coming to-morrow. It won't
trouble her to hear that her money is gone when she is
here with us all, at home. As for me," she went on
excitedly, "I am beginning to advertise the summer
resort. I must put my hand to the plough. I don't mean
that she shall miss any comfort or luxury as George's
Miss Vance looked at her. "Frances, give up your
planning and working. Let George work for you and his
wife," she said curtly. "It is time for you to stop and
"And why should I stop and rest, Clara?" said Frances,
"Surely you know, dear. You are not as young as you once
were. Your eyes are weak, and your hearing is a little
dulled, and----"
Frances threw out her hand eagerly. "You think I am
growing old! It is only my eyes and ears that are
wearing out. _I_ am not deaf nor blind," she said
earnestly. "_I_ am not old. I find more fun and flavor
in life now than I did at sixteen. If I live to be
seventy, or a hundred, I shall be the same Frances Waldeaux
Clara gave an annoyed shrug. "But really, _I_ make the
thought of death my constant companion. And you are
older than I."
"`After the busy day
Comes the calm sleep of night,'"
she quoted, with a sententious sigh.
"Calm and sleep do not appear to me to be the highest
conditions of life. No! I will not be set aside, even
when I am dead, like a burned-out candle!" The
indignant tears stood in her eyes. "Why, even in that
other world I shall not be a barren stock, thank God! I
have given a family to mankind. To watch a long line of
your descendants at work, to see in them your own
thoughts and your own soul reaching out, live powers
through all eternity--I often think of it. That will
be--not calm nor sleep."
Miss Vance touched Mrs. Waldeaux's arm affectionately.
"What a queer idea, Frances. Well, I never argue, you
know. Drop in the harness, if you choose. Let us go in
now. It is chilly."
The older woman looked after her, and smiled
good-humoredly. After a moment she raised her hand,
examining it attentively. Her hand had been very
beautiful in shape, white and dimpled, and she had been
vain enough to wear fine rings. Now it was yellow and
wrinkled. The great emerald looked like a bit of glass
upon it.
"Yes, I see," she said, with a miserable little laugh,
and then stood looking out into the far distance. "But
_I_ am not growing old." She spoke aloud, as if to one
who stood apart with her and could understand.
"Even out in that other world I shall not be only a
mother. I shall be me. ME!" touching her breast.
"After a million of years--it will still be me."
There stirred within the lean body and rheumatic limbs
depths of unused power, of thought, of love and passion,
and, deeper than all, awful possibilities of change.
"I have it in me still to be worse than a
murderer," she thought, with whitening face.
She stood a long time, alone. A strange content and
light came slowly into her face. "Come what will, I
shall never be left to myself again," she said at last,
speaking to a Friend whom she had found long ago.
Then she went in search of the boy. "Come, Jack," she
said cheerfully, "there are busy days before us."
George and Lucy that evening reached Dover, prettiest of
American towns. They strolled down the shaded street out
into a quiet country lane. Lucy sat down upon a fallen
tree, and George threw himself upon the grass beside her.
"To-morrow we shall be at home," she said, pushing his
hair back. "Do you know that your profile is absolutely
Greek?" Her eyes half closed critically. "Yes, we shall
be at home about eleven o'clock. I wrote to Stephen to
order all the dishes that you like for luncheon. Your
mother and Jack are coming. It will be such a gay, happy
He took her hand. He would tell her now. It would not
distress her. The money weighed for nothing in her life.
He was her world; he knew that.
"Lucy!" he said.
She turned, startled at his grave tone. The color rose
in her delicate little face, and there was a keen flash
of intelligence in her blue eyes. It vanished, and they
were only blue and innocent.
"Lucy, would you be willing to come to my house? To take
it for home? To be a poor man's wife, there? God knows
I'll try to make you happy in it."
"No," she said gently. "That is your mother's home. She
has made it. It is not fair to bring young queen bees
into the old queen's hive. We will live at your
house, Dunbar Place, George."
"It is not mine nor yours!" George broke out. "Oh, my
darling, I have hidden something from you. It is all
gone. Your property, income, every thing! The Consolidated
Consolidated Companies failed. Their depositors are ruined."
"Yes, I know," said Lucy, brushing a fallen leaf from her
gown. "But they had no control over my affairs. I
withdrew them from their management in February."
George started up. "Then you--you are a great heiress still?"
"No." She rose, holding out her hands, laughing. "My
husband, I believe, is a rich man, and I shall have what
he gives me."
But he did not hear her. He walked away down the road,
shaken by a dumb fury. He had been tricked! Who had
tricked him?
Then he heard a miserable sob and turned. Great God!
Was any thing on earth so dear as that little woman
standing there? She was crying! Had he struck her? He
was a brute. What had he done?
He ran to her, and taking her outstretched hands, kissed
them passionately.
"They are mine--mine!" he whispered, and knew nothing beyond.
They walked together like two happy children down the
shady lane toward the golden sunset. The money was forgotten.

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