Part 7 out of 11
himself with grace and finished ability to drawing him out. The
questions he asked were all seemingly those of a man of the world
charmingly interested in the superior knowledge of a foreigner of
varied experience. His method was one which engaged the interest of
Tembarom himself. He did not know that he was not only questioned,
but, so to speak, delicately cross-examined and that before the end of
the interview the Duke of Stone knew more of him, his past existence
and present sentiments, than even Miss Alicia knew after their long
and intimate evening talks. The duke, however, had the advantage of
being a man and of cherishing vivid recollections of the days of his
youth, which, unlike as it had been to that of Tembarom, furnished a
degree of solid foundation upon which go to build conjecture.
"A young man of his age," his grace reflected astutely, "has always
just fallen out of love, is falling into it, or desires vaguely to do
so. Ten years later there would perhaps be blank spaces, lean years
during which he was not in love at all; but at his particular period
there must be a young woman somewhere. I wonder if she is employed in
one of the department stores he spoke of, and how soon he hopes to
present her to us. His conversation has revealed so far, to use his
own rich simile, 'neither hide nor hair' of her."
On his own part, he was as ready to answer questions as to ask them.
In fact, he led Tembarom on to asking.
"I will tell you how I played" had been meant. He made a human
document of the history he enlarged, he brilliantly diverged, he
included, he made pictures, and found Tembarom's point of view or lack
of it gave spice and humor to relations he had thought himself tired
of. To tell familiar anecdotes of courts and kings to a man who had
never quite believed that such things were realities, who almost found
them humorous when they were casually spoken of, was edification
indeed. The novel charm lay in the fact that his class in his country
did not include them as possibilities. Peasants in other countries,
plowmen, shopkeepers, laborers in England--all these at least they
knew of, and counted them in as factors in the lives of the rich and
great; but this dear young man--!
"What's a crown like? I'd like to see one. How much do you guess such
a thing would cost--in dollars?"
"Did not Miss Temple Barholm take you to see the regalia in the Tower
of London? I am quite shocked," said the duke. He was, in fact, a
trifle disappointed. With the puce dress and undersleeves and little
fringes she ought certainly to have rushed with her pupil to that seat
of historical instruction on their first morning in London,
immediately after breakfasting on toast and bacon and marmalade and
"She meant me to go, but somehow it was put off. She almost cried on
our journey home when she suddenly remembered that we'd forgotten it,
"I am sure she said it was a wasted opportunity," suggested his grace.
"Yes, that was what hit her so hard. She'd never been to London
before, and you couldn't make her believe she could ever get there
again, and she said it was ungrateful to Providence to waste an
opportunity. She's always mighty anxious to be grateful to Providence,
"She regards you as Providence," remarked the duke, enraptured. With a
touch here and there, the touch of a master, he had gathered the whole
little story of Miss Alicia, and had found it of a whimsical
exquisiteness and humor.
"She's a lot too good to me," answered Tembarom. "I guess women as
nice as her are always a lot too good to men. She's a kind of little
old angel. What makes me mad is to think of the fellows that didn't
get busy and marry her thirty-five years ago."
"Were there--er--many of 'em?" the duke inquired.
"Thousands of 'em, though most of 'em never saw her. I suppose you
never saw her then. If you had, you might have done it."
The duke, sitting with an elbow on each arm of his chair, put the tips
of his fine, gouty fingers together and smiled with a far-reaching
inclusion of possibilities.
"So I might," he said; "so I might. My loss entirely-- my abominable
They had reached this point of the argument when the carriage from
Stone Hover arrived. It was a stately barouche the coachman and
footman of which equally with its big horses seemed to have hastened
to an extent which suggested almost panting breathlessness. It
contained Lady Edith and Lady Celia, both pale, and greatly agitated
by the news which had brought them horrified from Stone Hover without
a moment's delay.
They both ascended in haste and swept in such alarmed anxiety up the
terrace steps and through the hall to their father's side that they
had barely a polite gasp for Miss Alicia and scarcely saw Tembarom at
"Dear Papa!" they cried when he revealed himself in his chair in the
library intact and smiling. "How wicked of you, dear! How you have
"I begged you to be good, dearest," said Lady Edith, almost in tears.
"Where was George? You must dismiss him at once. Really--really--"
"He was half a mile away, obeying my orders, "said the duke. "A groom
cannot be dismissed for obeying orders. It is the pony who must be
dismissed, to my great regret; or else we must overfeed him until he
is even fatter than he is and cannot run away."
Were his arms and legs and his ribs and collar-bones and head quite
right? Was he sure that he had not received any internal injury when
he fell out of the pony-carriage? They could scarcely be convinced,
and as they hung over and stroked and patted him, Tembarom stood aside
and watched them with interest. They were the girls he had to please
Ann by "getting next to," giving himself a chance to fall in love with
them, so that she'd know whether they were his kind or not. They were
nice-looking, and had a way of speaking that sounded rather swell, but
they weren't ace high to a little slim, redheaded thing that looked at
you like a baby and pulled your heart up into your throat.
"Don't poke me any more, dear children. I am quite, quite sound," he
heard the duke say. "In Mr. Temple Barholm you behold the preserver of
your parent. Filial piety is making you behave with shocking
They turned to Tembarom at once with a pretty outburst of apologies
and thanks. Lady Celia wasn't, it is true, "a looker," with her narrow
shoulders and rather long nose, but she had an air of breeding, and
the charming color of which Palliser had spoken, returning to Lady
Edith's cheeks, illuminated her greatly.
They both were very polite and made many agreeably grateful speeches,
but in the eyes of both there lurked a shade of anxiety which they
hoped to be able to conceal. Their father watched them with a wicked
pleasure. He realized clearly their well-behaved desire to do and say
exactly the right thing and bear themselves in exactly the right
manner, and also their awful uncertainty before an entirely unknown
quantity. Almost any other kind of young man suddenly uplifted by
strange fortune they might have known some parallel for, but a newsboy
of New York! All the New Yorkers they had met or heard of had been so
rich and grand as to make them feel themselves, by contrast, mere
country paupers, quite shivering with poverty and huddling for
protection in their barely clean rags, so what was there to go on? But
how dreadful not to be quite right, precisely right, in one's
approach--quite familiar enough, and yet not a shade too familiar,
which of course would appear condescending! And be it said the
delicacy of the situation was added to by the fact that they had heard
something of Captain Palliser's extraordinary little story about his
determination to know "ladies." Really, if Willocks the butcher's boy
had inherited Temple Barholm, it would have been easier to know where
one stood in the matter of being civil and agreeable to him. First
Lady Edith, made perhaps bold by the suggestion of physical advantage
bestowed by the color, talked to him to the very best of her ability;
and when she felt herself fearfully flagging, Lady Celia took him up
and did her very well-conducted best. Neither she nor her sister were
brilliant talkers at any time, and limited by the absence of any
common familiar topic, effort was necessary. The neighborhood he did
not know; London he was barely aware of; social functions it would be
an impertinence to bring in; games he did not play; sport he had
scarcely heard of. You were confined to America, and if you knew next
to nothing of American life, there you were.
Tembarom saw it all,--he was sharp enough for that,--and his habit of
being jocular and wholly unashamed saved him from the misery of
awkwardness that Willocks would have been sure to have writhed under.
His casual frankness, however, for a moment embarrassed Lady Edith to
the bitterest extremity. When you are trying your utmost to make a
queer person oblivious to the fact that his world is one unknown to
you, it is difficult to know where do you stand when he says
"It's mighty hard to talk to a man who doesn't know a thing that
belongs to the kind of world you've spent your life in, ain't it? But
don't you mind me a minute. I'm glad to be talked to anyhow by people
like you. When I don't catch on, I'll just ask. No man was ever
electrocuted for not knowing, and that's just where I am. I don't
know, and I'm glad to be told. Now, there's one thing. Burrill said
'Your Ladyship' to you, I heard him. Ought I to say it, er oughtn't I?"
"Oh, no," she answered, but somehow without distaste in the momentary
stare he had startled her into; "Burrill is--"
"He's a servant," he aided encouragingly. "Well, I've never been a
butler, but I've been somebody's servant all my life, and mighty glad
of the chance. This is the first time I've been out of a job."
What nice teeth he had! What a queer, candid, unresentful creature!
What a good sort of smile! And how odd that it was he who was putting
her more at her ease by the mere way in which he was saying this
almost alarming thing! By the time he had ended, it was not alarming
at all, and she had caught her breath again.
She was actually sorry when the door opened and Lady Joan Fayre came
in, followed almost immediately by Lady Mallowe and Captain Palliser,
who appeared to have just returned from a walk and heard the news.
Lady Mallowe was most sympathetic. Why not, indeed? The Duke of Stone
was a delightful, cynical creature, and Stone Hover was, despite its
ducal poverty, a desirable place to be invited to, if you could manage
it. Her ladyship's method of fluttering was not like Miss Alicia's,
its character being wholly modern; but she fluttered, nevertheless.
The duke, who knew all about her, received her amiabilities with
appreciative smiles, but it was the splendidly handsome, hungry-eyed
young woman with the line between her black brows who engaged his
attention. On the alert, as he always was, for a situation, he
detected one at once when he saw his American address her. She did not
address him, and scarcely deigned a reply when he spoke to her. When
he spoke to others, she conducted herself as though he were not in the
room, so obviously did she choose to ignore his existence. Such a
bearing toward one's host had indeed the charm of being an interesting
novelty. And what a beauty she was, with her lovely, ferocious eyes
and the small, black head poised on the exquisite long throat, which
was on the verge of becoming a trifle too thin! Then as in a flash he
recalled between one breath and another the quite fiendish episode of
poor Jem Temple Barholm--and she was the girl!
Then he became almost excited in his interest. He saw it all. As he
had himself argued must be the case, this poor fellow was in love. But
it was not with a lady in the New York department stores; it was with
a young woman who would evidently disdain to wipe her feet upon him.
How thrilling! As Lady Mallowe and Palliser and the others chattered,
he watched him, observing his manner. He stood the handsome creature's
steadily persistent rudeness very well; he made no effort to push into
the talk when she coolly held him out of it. He waited without
external uneasiness or spasmodic smiles. If he could do that despite
the inevitable fact that he must feel his position uncomfortable, he
was possessed of fiber. That alone would make him worth cultivating.
And if there were persons who were to be made uncomfortable, why not
cut in and circumvent the beauty somewhat and give her a trifle of
unease? It was with the light and adroit touch of accustomedness to
all orders of little situations that his grace took the matter in
hand, with a shade, also, of amiable malice. He drew Tembarom adroitly
into the center of things; he knew how to lead him to make easily the
odd, frank remarks which were sufficiently novel to suggest that he
was actually entertaining. He beautifully edged Lady Joan out of her
position. She could not behave ill to him, he was far too old, he said
to himself, leaving out the fact that a Duke of Stone is a too
respectable personage to be quite waved aside.
Tembarom began to enjoy himself a little more. Lady Celia and Lady
Edith began to enjoy themselves a little more also. Lady Mallowe was
filled with admiring delight. Captain Palliser took in the situation,
and asked himself questions about it. On her part, Miss Alicia was
restored to the happiness any lack of appreciation of her "dear boy"
touchingly disturbed. In circumstances such as these he appeared to
the advantage which in a brief period would surely reveal his
wonderful qualities. She clung so to his "wonderful qualities" because
in all the three-volumed novels of her youth the hero, debarred from
early advantages and raised by the turn of fortune's wheel to
splendor, was transformed at once into a being of the highest
accomplishments and the most polished breeding, and ended in the third
volume a creature before whom emperors paled. And how more than
charmingly cordial his grace's manner was when he left them!
"To-morrow," he said, "if my daughters do not discover that I have
injured some more than vital organ, I shall call to proffer my thanks
with the most immense formality. I shall get out of the carriage in
the manner customary in respectable neighborhoods, not roll out at
your feet. Afterward you will, I hope, come and dine with us. I am
devoured by a desire to become more familiar with The Earth."
It was Lady Mallowe who perceived the moment when he became the
fashion. The Duke of Stone called with the immense formality he had
described, and his visit was neither brief nor dull. A little later
Tembarom with his guests dined at Stone Hover, and the dinner was
further removed from dullness than any one of numerous past dinners
always noted for being the most agreeable the neighborhood afforded.
The duke managed his guest as an impresario might have managed his
tenor, though this was done with subtly concealed methods. He had
indeed a novelty to offer which had been discussed with much
uncertainty of point of view. He presented it to an only languidly
entertained neighborhood as a trouvaille of his own choice. Here was
drama, here was atmosphere, here was charm verging in its character
upon the occult. You would not see it if you were not a collector of
"Nobody will be likely to see him as he is unless he is pointed out to
them," was what he said to his daughters. "But being bored to death,--
we are all bored,--once adroitly assisted to suspect him of being
alluring, most of them will spring upon him and clasp him to their
wearied breasts. I haven't the least idea what will happen afterward.
I shall in fact await the result with interest."
Being told Palliser's story of the "Ladies," he listened, holding the
tips of his fingers together, and wearing an expression of deep
interest slightly baffled in its nature. It was Lady Edith who related
the anecdote to him.
"Now," he said, "it would be very curious and complicating if that
were true; but I don't believe it is. Palliser, of course, likes to
tell a good story. I shall be able to discover in time whether it is
true or not; but at present I don't believe it."
Following the dinner party at Stone Hover came many others. All the
well-known carriages began to roll up the avenue to Temple Barholm.
The Temple Barholm carriages also began to roll down the avenue and
between the stone griffins on their way to festive gatherings of
varied order. Burrill and the footmen ventured to reconsider their
early plans for giving warning. It wasn't so bad if the country was
going to take him up.
"Do you see what is happening?" Lady Mallowe said to Joan. "The man is
becoming actually popular."
"He is popular as a turn at a music hall is," answered Joan. "He will
be dropped as he was taken up."
"There's something about him they like, and he represents what
everybody most wants. For God's sake! Joan, don't behave like a fool
this time. The case is more desperate. There is nothing else--
"There never was," said Joan, " and I know the desperateness of the
case. How long are you going to stay here?"
"I am going to stay for some time. They are not conventional people.
It can be managed very well. We are relatives."
"Will you stay," inquired Joan in a low voice, "until they ask you to
Lady Mallowe smiled an agreeably subtle smile.
"Not quite that," she answered. "Miss Alicia would never have the
courage to suggest it. It takes courage and sophistication to do that
sort of thing. Mr. Temple Barholm evidently wants us to remain. He
will be willing to make as much of the relationship as we choose to
"Do you choose to let him make as much of it as will establish us here
for weeks--or months?" Joan asked, her low voice shaking a little.
"That will depend entirely upon circumstances. It will, in fact,
depend entirely upon you," said Lady Mallowe, her lips setting
themselves into a straight, thin line.
For an appreciable moment Joan was silent; but after it she lost her
head and whirled about.
"I shall go away," she cried.
"Where?" asked Lady Mallowe.
"Back to London."
"How much money have you?" asked her mother. She knew she had none.
She was always sufficiently shrewd to see that she had none. If the
girl had had a pound a week of her own, her mother had always realized
that she would have been unmanageable. After the Jem Temple Barholm
affair she would have been capable of going to live alone in slums. As
it was, she knew enough to be aware that she was too handsome to walk
out into Piccadilly without a penny in her pocket; so it had been just
possible to keep her indoors.
"How much money have you?" she repeated quietly. This was the way in
which their unbearable scenes began--the scenes which the servants
passing the doors paused to listen to in the hope that her ladyship
would forget that raised voices may be heard by the discreet outsider.
"How much money have you?" she said again.
Joan looked at her; this time it was for about five seconds. She
turned her back on her and walked out of the room. Shortly afterward
Lady Mallowe saw her walking down the avenue in the rain, which was
beginning to fall.
She had left the house because she dared not stay in it. Once out in
the park, she folded her long purple cloak about her and pulled her
soft purple felt hat down over her brows, walking swiftly under the
big trees without knowing where she intended to go before she
returned. She liked the rain, she liked the heavy clouds; she wore her
dark purples because she felt a fantastic, secret comfort in calling
them her mourning --her mourning which she would wear forevermore.
No one could know so well as herself how desperate from her own point
of view the case was. She had long known that her mother would not
hesitate for a moment before any chance of a second marriage which
would totally exclude her daughter from her existence. Why should she,
after all, Joan thought? They had always been antagonists. The moment
of chance had been looming on the horizon for months. Sir Moses
Monaldini had hovered about fitfully and evidently doubtfully at
first, more certainly and frequently of late, but always with a
clearly objecting eye cast askance upon herself. With determination
and desire to establish a social certainty, astute enough not to care
specially for young beauty and exactions he did not purpose to submit
to, and keen enough to see the advantage of a handsome woman with
bitter reason to value what was offered to her in the form of a
luxurious future, Sir Moses was moving toward action, though with
proper caution. He would have no penniless daughters hanging about
scowling and sneering. None of that for him. And the ripest apple upon
the topmost bow in the highest wind would not drop more readily to his
feet than her mother would, Joan knew with sharp and shamed burnings.
As the rain fell, she walked in her purple cloak, unpaid for, and her
purple hat, for which they had been dunned with threatening insults,
and knew that she did not own and could not earn a penny. She could
not dig, and to beg she was ashamed, and all the more horribly because
she had been a beggar of the meaner order all her life. It made her
sick to think of the perpetual visits they had made where they were
not wanted, of the times when they had been politely bundled out of
places, of the methods which had been used to induce shop-keepers to
let them run up bills. For years her mother and she had been walking
advertisements of smart shops because both were handsome, wore clothes
well, and carried them where they would be seen and talked about. Now
this would be all over, since it had been Lady Mallowe who had managed
all details. Thrown upon her own resources, Joan would have none of
them, even though she must walk in rags. Her education had prepared
her for only one thing--to marry well, if luck were on her side. It
had never been on her side. If she had never met Jem, she would have
married somebody, since that would have been better than the
inevitable last slide into an aging life spent in cheap lodgings with
her mother. But Jem had been the beginning and the end.
She bit her lips as she walked, and suddenly tears swept down her
cheeks and dripped on to the purple cloth folded over her breast.
"And he sits in Jem's place! And every day that common, foolish stare
will follow me!" she said.
He sat, it was true, in the place Jem Temple Barholm would have
occupied if he had been a living man, and he looked at her a good
deal. Perhaps he sometimes unconsciously stared because she made him
think of many things. But if she had been in a state of mind admitting
of judicial fairness, she would have been obliged to own that it was
not quite a foolish stare. Absorbed, abstracted, perhaps, but it was
not foolish. Sometimes, on the contrary, it was searching and keen.
Of course he was doing his best to please her. Of all the "Ladies," it
seemed evident that he was most attracted by her. He tried to talk to
her despite her unending rebuffs, he followed her about and endeavored
to interest her, he presented a hide-bound unsensitiveness when she
did her worst. Perhaps he did not even know that she was being icily
rude. He was plainly "making up to her" after the manner of his class.
He was perhaps playing the part of the patient adorer who melted by
noble long-suffering in novels distinguished by heroes of humble origin.
She had reached the village when the rain changed its mind, and
without warning began to pour down as if the black cloud passing
overhead had suddenly opened. She was wondering if she would not turn
in somewhere for shelter until the worst was over when a door opened
and Tembarom ran out with an umbrella.
"Come in to the Hibblethwaites cottage, Lady Joan," he said. "This
will be over directly."
He did not affectionately hustle her in by the arm as he would have
hustled in Miss Alicia, but he closely guarded her with the umbrella
until he guided her inside.
"Thank you," she said.
The first object she became aware of was a thin face with pointed chin
and ferret eyes peering at her round the end of a sofa, then a sharp
"Tak' off her cloak an' shake th' rain off it in th' wash 'us'," it
said. "Mother an' Aunt Susan's out. Let him unbutton it fer thee."
"I can unbutton it myself, thank you," said Lady Joan. Tembarom took
it when she had unbuttoned it. He took it from her shoulders before
she had time to stop him. Then he walked into the tiny "wash 'us" and
shook it thoroughly. He came back and hung it on a chair before the
Tummas was leaning back in his pillows and gazing at her.
"I know tha name," he said. "He towd me," with a jerk of the head
"Did he?" replied Lady Joan without interest.
A flaringly illustrated New York paper was spread out upon his sofa.
He pushed it aside and pulled the shabby atlas toward him. It fell
open at a map of North America as if through long habit.
"Sit thee down," he ordered.
Tembarom had stood watching them both.
"I guess you'd better not do that," he suggested to Tummas.
"Why not? " said the boy, sharply. "She's th' wench he was goin' to
marry. It's th' same as if he'd married her. If she wur his widder,
she'd want to talk about him. Widders allus wants to talk. Why
shouldn't she? Women's women. He'd ha' wanted to talk about her."
"Who is `he'?" asked Joan with stiff lips.
"The Temple Barholm as' 'd be here if he was na."
Joan turned to Tembarom.
"Do you come here to talk to this boy about HIM?" she said. "How dare you!"
Tummas's eyes snapped; his voice snapped also.
"He knew next to nowt about him till I towd him," he said. "Then he
came to ax me things an' foind out more. He knows as much as I do now.
Us sits here an' talks him over."
Lady Joan still addressed Tembarom.
"What interest can you have in the man who ought to be in your place?"
she asked. "What possible interest?"
"Well," he answered awkwardly, "because he ought to be, I suppose.
Ain't that reason enough?"
He had never had to deal with women who hated him and who were angry
and he did not know exactly what to say. He had known very few women,
and he had always been good- natured with them and won their liking in
some measure. Also, there was in his attitude toward this particular
woman a baffled feeling that he could not make her understand him. She
would always think of him as an enemy and believe he meant things he
did not mean. If he had been born and educated in her world, he could
have used her own language; but he could use only his own, and there
were so many things he must not say for a time at least.
"Do you not realize," she said, "that you are presuming upon your
position--that you and this boy are taking liberties?"
Tummas broke in wholly without compunction.
"I've taken liberties aw my loife," he stated, "an' I'm goin' to tak'
'em till I dee. They're th' on'y things I can tak', lyin' here
crippled, an' I'm goin' to tak' 'em."
"Stop that, Tummas! " said Tembarom with friendly authority. "She
doesn't catch on, and you don't catch on, either. You're both of you
'way off. Stop it!"
"I thought happen she could tell me things I didn't know," protested
Tummas, throwing himself back on his pillows. "If she conna, she
conna, an' if she wunnot, she wunnot. Get out wi' thee!" he said to
Joan. "I dunnot want thee about th' place."
"Say," said Tembarom, "shut up!"
"I am going," said Lady Joan and turned to open the door.
The rain was descending in torrents, but she passed swiftly out into
its deluge walking as rapidly as she could. She thought she cared
nothing about the rain, but it dashed in her face and eyes, taking her
breath away, and she had need of breath when her heart was beating
with such fierceness.
"If she wur his widder," the boy had said.
Even chance could not let her alone at one of her worst moments. She
walked faster and faster because she was afraid Tembarom would follow
her, and in a few minutes she heard him splashing behind her, and then
he was at her side, holding the umbrella over her head.
"You're a good walker," he said, "but I'm a sprinter. I trained
running after street cars and catching the 'L' in New York."
She had so restrained her miserable hysteric impulse to break down and
utterly humiliate herself under the unexpected blow of the episode in
the cottage that she had had no breath to spare when she left the
room, and her hurried effort to escape had left her so much less that
she did not speak.
"I'll tell you something," he went on. "He's a little freak, but you
can't blame him much. Don't be mad at him. He's never moved from that
corner since he was born, I guess, and he's got nothing to do or to
think of but just hearing what's happening outside. He's sort of crazy
curious, and when he gets hold of a thing that suits him he just holds
on to it till the last bell rings."
She said nothing whatever, and he paused a moment because he wanted to
think over the best way to say the next thing.
"Mr. James Temple Barholm "--he ventured it with more delicacy of
desire not to seem to "take liberties" than she would have credited
him with--"saw his mother sitting with him in her arms at the cottage
door a week or so after he was born. He stopped at the gate and talked
to her about him, and he left him a sovereign. He's got it now. It
seems a fortune to him. He's made a sort of idol of him. That's why he
talks like he does. I wouldn't let it make me mad if I were you."
He did not know that she could not have answered him if she would,
that she felt that if he did not stop she might fling herself down
upon the wet heather and wail aloud.
"You don't like me," he began after they had walked a few steps
farther. "You don't like me."
This was actually better. It choked back the sobs rising in her
throat. The stupid shock of it, his tasteless foolishness, helped her
by its very folly to a sort of defense against the disastrous wave of
emotion she might not have been able to control. She gathered herself
"It must be an unusual experience," she answered.
"Well, it is--sort of," he said, but in a manner curiously free from
fatuous swagger. "I've had luck that way. I guess it's been because
I'd GOT to make friends so as I could earn a living. It seems sort of
queer to know that some one's got a grouch against me that--that I
can't get away with."
She looked up the avenue to see how much farther they must walk
together, since she was not "a sprinter" and could not get away from
him. She thought she caught a glimpse through the trees of a dog-cart
driven by a groom, and hoped she had not mistaken and that it was
driving in their direction.
"It must, indeed," she said, "though I am not sure I quite understand
what a grouch is."
"When you've got a grouch against a fellow," he explained
impersonally, "you want to get at him. You want to make him feel like
a mutt; and a mutt's the worst kind of a fool. You've got one against
She looked before her between narrowed lids and faintly smiled--the
most disagreeable smile she was capable of. And yet for some too
extraordinary reason he went on. But she had seen men go on before
this when all the odds were against them. Sometimes their madness took
them this way.
"I knew there was a lot against me when I came here," he persisted. "I
should have been a fool if I hadn't. I knew when you came that I was
up against a pretty hard proposition; but I thought perhaps if I got
busy and SHOWED you--you've got to SHOW a person--"
"Showed me what?" she asked contemptuously.
"Showed you--well--me," he tried to explain.
"And that I wanted to be friends," he added candidly.
Was the man mad? Did he realize nothing? Was he too thick of skin even
"Friends! You and I?" The words ought to have scorched him, pachyderm
though he was.
"I thought you'd give me a chance--a sort of chance--"
She stopped short on the avenue.
She had not been mistaken. The dog-cart had rounded the far-off curve
and was coming toward them. And the man went on talking.
"You've felt every minute that I was in a place that didn't belong to
me. You know that if the man that it did belong to was here, you'd be
here with him. You felt as if I'd robbed him of it--and I'd robbed
you. It was your home--yours. You hated me too much to think of
anything else. Suppose-- suppose there was a way I could give it back
to you--make it your home again."
His voice dropped and was rather unsteady. The fool, the gross,
brutal, vulgar, hopeless fool! He thought this was the way to approach
her, to lead her to listen to his proposal of marriage! Not for a
second did she guess that they were talking at cross purposes. She did
not know that as he kept himself steady under her contemptuousness he
was thinking that Ann would have to own that he had been up against it
hard and plenty while the thing was going on.
"I'm always up against it when I'm talking to you," he said. "You get
me rattled. There's things I want to talk about and ask you. Suppose
you give me a chance, and let us start out by being sort of friends."
"I am staying in your house," she answered in a deadly voice, "and I
cannot go away because my mother will not let me. You can force
yourself upon me, if you choose, because I cannot help it; but
understand once for all that I will not give you your ridiculous
chance. And I will not utter one word to you when I can avoid it."
He was silent for a moment and seemed to be thinking rather deeply.
She realized now that he saw the nearing dog-cart.
"You won't. Then it's up to me," he said. Then with a change of tone,
he added, "I'll stop the cart and tell the man to drive you to the
house. I'm not going to force myself on you, as you call it. It'd be
no use. Perhaps it'll come all right in the end."
He made a sign to the groom, who hastened his horse's pace and drew up
when he reached them.
"Take this lady back to the house," he said.
The groom, who was a new arrival, began to prepare to get down and
give up his place.
"You needn't do that," said Tembarom.
"Won't you get up and take the reins, sir?" the man asked uncertainly.
"No. I can't drive. You'll have to do it. I'll walk."
And to the groom's amazement, they left him standing under the trees
looking after them.
"It's up to me," he was saying. "The whole durned thing's up to me."
The neighborhood of Temple Barholm was not, upon the whole, a
brilliant one. Indeed, it had been frankly designated by the casual
guest as dull. The country was beautiful enough, and several rather
large estates lay within reach of one another, but their owners were
neither very rich nor especially notable personages. They were of
extremely good old blood, and were of established respectability. None
of them, however, was given to entertaining house parties made up of
the smart and dazzlingly sinful world of fashion said by moralists to
be composed entirely of young and mature beauties, male and female,
capable of supplying at any moment enlivening detail for the divorce
court--glittering beings whose wardrobes were astonishing and whose
conversations were composed wholly of brilliant paradox and sparkling
Most of the residents took their sober season in London, the men of
the family returning gladly to their pheasants, the women not
regretfully to their gardens and tennis, because their successes in
town had not been particularly delirious. The guests who came to them
were generally as respectable and law-abiding as themselves, and
introduced no iconoclastic diversions. For the greater portion of the
year, in fact, diners out were of the neighborhood and met the
neighborhood, and were reduced to discussing neighborhood topics,
which was not, on the whole, a fevered joy. The Duke of Stone was,
perhaps, the one man who might have furnished topics. Privately it was
believed, and in part known, that he at least had had a brilliant, if
not wholly unreprehensible, past. He might have introduced enlivening
elements from London, even from Paris, Vienna, Berlin, and Rome; but
the sobering influence of years of rheumatic gout and a not entirely
sufficing income prevented activities, and his opinions of his social
surroundings were vaguely guessed to be those of a not too lenient
"I do not know anything technical or scientific about ditch- water,"
he had expressed himself in the bosom of his family. "I never analyzed
it, but analyzers, I gather, consider it dull. If anything could be
duller than ditch-water, I should say it was Stone Hover and its
surrounding neighborhood." He had also remarked at another time: "If
our society could be enriched by some of the characters who form the
house parties and seem, in fact, integral parts of all country society
in modern problem or even unproblem novels, how happy one might be,
how edified and amused! A wicked lady or so of high, or extremely low,
rank, of immense beauty and corruscating brilliancy; a lovely
creature, male or female, whom she is bent upon undoing--"
"Dear papa!" protested Lady Celia.
"Reproach me, dearest. Reproach me as severely as you please. It
inspires me. It makes me feel like a wicked, dangerous man, and I have
not felt like one for many years. Such persons as I describe form the
charm of existence, I assure you. A ruthless adventuress with any kind
of good looks would be the making of us. Several of them, of different
types, a handsome villain, and a few victims unknowing of their fate,
would cause life to flow by like a peaceful stream."
Lady Edith laughed an unseemly little laugh--unseemly, since filial
regret at paternal obliquity should have restrained it.
"Papa, you are quite horrible," she said. "You ought not to make your
few daughters laugh at improper things."
"I would make my daughters laugh at anything so long as I must doom
them to Stone Hover--and Lady Pevensy and Mrs. Stoughton and the
rector, if one may mention names," he answered. "To see you laugh
revives me by reminding me that once I was considered a witty person--
quite so. Some centuries ago, however; about the time when things were
being rebuilt after the flood."
In such circumstances it cannot be found amazing that a situation such
as Temple Barholm presented should provide rich food for conversation,
supposition, argument, and humorous comment.
T. Tembarom himself, after the duke had established him, furnished an
unlimited source of interest. His household became a perennial fount
of quiet discussion. Lady Mallowe and her daughter were the members of
it who met with the most attention. They appeared to have become
members of it rather than visitors. Her ladyship had plainly elected
to extend her stay even beyond the period to which a fond relative
might feel entitled to hospitality. She had been known to extend
visits before with great cleverness, but this one assumed an
established aspect. She was not going away, the neighborhood decided,
until she had achieved that which she had come to accomplish. The
present unconventional atmosphere of the place naturally supported
her. And how probable it seemed, taking into consideration Captain
Palliser's story, that Mr. Temple Barholm wished her to stay. Lady
Joan would be obliged to stay also, if her mother intended that she
should. But the poor American--there were some expressions of
sympathy, though the situation was greatly added to by the feature --
the poor American was being treated by Lady Joan as only she could
treat a man. It was worth inviting the whole party to dinner or tea or
lunch merely to see the two together. The manner in which she managed
to ignore him and be scathing to him without apparently infringing a
law of civility, and the number of laws she sometimes chose to sweep
aside when it was her mood to do so, were extraordinary. If she had
not been a beauty, with a sort of mystic charm for the male creature,
surely he would have broken his chains. But he did not. What was he
going to do in the end? What was she going to do? What was Lady
Mallowe going to do if there was no end at all? He was not as unhappy-
looking a lover as one might have expected, they said. He kept up his
spirits wonderfully. Perhaps she was not always as icily indifferent
to him as she chose to appear in public. Temple Barholm was a great
estate, and Sir Moses Monaldini had been mentioned by rumor. Of course
there would be something rather strange and tragic in it if she came
to Temple Barholm as its mistress in such singular circumstances. But
he certainly did not look depressed or discouraged. So they talked it
over as they looked on.
"How they gossip! How delightfully they gossip!" said the duke. "But
it is such a perfect subject. They have never been so enthralled
before. Dear young man! how grateful we ought to be for him!"
One of the most discussed features of the case was the duke's own
cultivation of the central figure. There was an actual oddity about
it. He drove from Stone Hover to Temple Barholm repeatedly. He invited
Tembarom to the castle and had long talks with him--long, comfortable
talks in secluded, delightful rooms or under great trees on a lawn. He
wanted to hear anecdotes of his past, to draw him on to giving his
points of view. When he spoke of him to his daughters, he called him
"T. Tembarom," but the slight derision of his earlier tone modified
"That delightful young man will shortly become my closest intimate,"
he said. "He not only keeps up my spirits, but he opens up vistas.
Vistas after a man's seventy-second birthday! At times I could clasp
him to my breast."
"I like him first rate," Tembarom said to Miss Alicia. "I liked him
the minute he got up laughing like an old sport when he fell out of
the pony carriage."
As he became more intimate with him, he liked him still better.
Obscured though it was by airy, elderly persiflage, he began to come
upon a background of stability and points of view wholly to be relied
on in his new acquaintance. It had evolved itself out of long and
varied experience, with the aid of brilliant mentality. The old peer's
reasons were always logical. He laughed at most things, but at a few
he did not laugh at all. After several of the long conversations
Tembarom began to say to himself that this seemed like a man you need
not be afraid to talk things over with--things you didn't want to
speak of to everybody.
"Seems to me," he said thoughtfully to Miss Alicia, "he's an old
fellow you could tie to. I've got on to one thing when I've listened
to him: he talks all he wants to and laughs a lot, but he never gives
himself away. He wouldn't give another fellow away either if he said
he wouldn't. He knows how not to."
There was an afternoon on which during a drive they took together the
duke was enlightened as to several points which had given him cause
for reflection, among others the story beloved of Captain Palliser and
"I guess you've known a good many women," T. Tembarom remarked on this
occasion after a few minutes of thought. "Living all over the world as
you've done, you'd be likely to come across a whole raft of them one
time and another."
"A whole raft of them, one time and another," agreed the duke. "Yes."
"You've liked them, haven't you?"
"Immensely. Sometimes a trifle disastrously. Find me a more absolutely
interesting object in the universe than a woman --any woman--and I
will devote the remainder of my declining years to the study of it,"
answered his grace.
He said it with a decision which made T. Tembarom turn to look at him,
and after his look decide to proceed.
"Have you ever known a bit of a slim thing"--he made an odd embracing
gesture with his arm--"the size that you could pick up with one hand
and set on your knee as if she was a child"--the duke remained still,
knowing this was only the beginning and pricking up his ears as he
took a rapid kaleidoscopic view of all the "Ladies" in the
neighborhood, and as hastily waved them aside--"a bit of a thing that
some way seems to mean it all to you--and moves the world?" The
conclusion was one which brought the incongruous touch of maturity
into his face.
"Not one of the `Ladies,"' the duke was mentally summing the matter
up. "Certainly not Lady Joan, after all. Not, I think, even the young
person in the department store."
He leaned back in his corner the better to inspect his companion
"You have, I see," he replied quietly. "Once I myself did." (He had
cried out, "Ah! Heloise!" though he had laughed at himself when he
seemed facing his ridiculous tragedy.)
"Yes," confessed T. Tembarom. "I met her at the boarding-house where I
lived. Her father was a Lancashire man and an inventor. I guess you've
heard of him; his name is Joseph Hutchinson."
The whole country had heard of him; more countries, indeed, than one
had heard. He was the man who was going to make his fortune in America
because T. Tembarom had stood by him in his extremity. He would make a
fortune in America and another in England and possibly several others
on the Continent. He had learned to read in the village school, and
the girl was his daughter.
"Yes," replied the duke.
"I don't know whether the one you knew had that quiet little way of
seeing right straight into a thing, and making you see it, too," said
"She had," answered the duke, and an odd expression wavered in his
eyes because he was looking backward across forty years which seemed a
"That's what I meant by moving the world," T. Tembarom went on. "You
know she's RIGHT, and you've got to do what she says, if you love
"And you always do," said the duke--"always and forever. There are
very few. They are the elect."
T. Tembarom took it gravely.
"I said to her once that there wasn't more than one of her in the
world because there couldn't be enough to make two of that kind. I
wasn't joshing either; I meant it. It's her quiet little voice and her
quiet, babyfied eyes that get you where you can't move. And it's
something else you don't know anything about. It's her never doing
anything for herself, but just doing it because it's the right thing
The duke's chin had sunk a little on his breast, and looking back
across the hundred years, he forgot for a moment where he was. The one
he remembered had been another man's wife, a little angel brought up
in a convent by white-souled nuns, passed over by her people to an
elderly vaurien of great magnificence, and she had sent the strong,
laughing, impassioned young English peer away before it was too late,
and with the young, young eyes of her looking upward at him in that
way which saw "straight into a thing" and with that quiet little
voice. So long ago! So long ago!
"Ah! Heloise!" he sighed unconsciously.
"What did you say?" asked T. Tembarom. The duke came back.
"I was thinking of the time when I was nine and twenty," he answered.
"It was not yesterday nor even the day before. The one I knew died
when she was twenty-four."
"Died!" said Tembarom. "Good Lord!" He dropped his head and even
changed color. "A fellow can't get on to a thing like that. It seems
as if it couldn't happen. Suppose--" he caught his breath hard and
then pulled himself up-- "Nothing could happen to her before she knew
that I've proved what I said--just proved it, and done every single
thing she told me to do."
"I am sure you have," the duke said.
"It's because of that I began to say this." Tembarom spoke hurriedly
that he might thrust away the sudden dark thought. "You're a man, and
I'm a man; far away ahead of me as you are, you're a man, too. I was
crazy to get her to marry me and come here with me, and she wouldn't."
The duke's eyes lighted anew.
"She had her reasons," he said.
"She laid 'em out as if she'd been my mother instead of a little red-
headed angel that you wanted to snatch up and crush up to you so she
couldn't breathe. She didn't waste a word. She just told me what I was
up against. She'd lived in the village with her grandmother, and she
knew. She said I'd got to come and find out for myself what no one
else could teach me. She told me about the kind of girls I'd see--
beauties that were different from anything I'd ever seen before. And
it was up to me to see all of them--the best of them."
"Ladies?" interjected the duke gently.
"Yes. With titles like those in novels, she said, and clothes like
those in the Ladies' Pictorial. The kind of girls, she said, that
would make her look like a housemaid. Housemaid be darned!" he
exclaimed, suddenly growing hot. "I've seen the whole lot of them;
I've done my darndest to get next, and there's not one--" he stopped
short. "Why should any of them look at me, anyhow?" he added suddenly.
"That was not her point," remarked the duke. "She wanted you to look
at them, and you have looked." T. Tembarom's eagerness was inspiring
"I have, haven't I?" he cried. "That was what I wanted to ask you.
I've done as she said. I haven't shirked a thing. I've followed them
around when I knew they hadn't any use on earth for me. Some of them
have handed me the lemon pretty straight. Why shouldn't they? But I
don't believe she knew how tough it might be for a fellow sometimes."
"No, she did not," the duke said. "Also she probably did not know that
in ancient days of chivalry ladies sent forth their knights to bear
buffeting for their sakes in proof of fealty. Rise up, Sir Knight!"
This last phrase of course T. Tembarom did not know the poetic
To his hearer Palliser's story became an amusing thing, read in the
light of this most delicious frankness. It was Palliser himself who
played the fool, and not T. Tembarom, who had simply known what he
wanted, and had, with businesslike directness, applied himself to
finding a method of obtaining it. The young women he gave his time to
must be "Ladies" because Miss Hutchinson had required it from him. The
female flower of the noble houses had been passed in review before him
to practise upon, so to speak. The handsomer they were, the more
dangerously charming, the better Miss Hutchinson would be pleased. And
he had been regarded as a presumptuous aspirant. It was a situation
for a comedy. But the "Ladies" would not enjoy it if they were told.
It was also not the Duke of Stone who would tell them. They could not
in the least understand the subtlety of the comedy in which they had
unconsciously taken part. Ann Hutchinson's grandmother curtsied to
them in her stiff old way when they passed. Ann Hutchinson had gone to
the village school and been presented with prizes for needlework and
good behavior. But what a girl she must be, the slim bit of a thing
with a red head! What a clear-headed and firm little person!
In courts he had learned to wear a composed countenance when he was
prompted to smile, and he wore one now. He enjoyed the society of T.
Tembarom increasingly every hour. He provided him with every joy.
Their drive was a long one, and they talked a good deal. They talked
of the Hutchinsons, of the invention, of the business "deals" Tembarom
had entered into at the outset, and of their tremendously encouraging
result. It was not mere rumor that Hutchinson would end by being a
rich man. The girl would be an heiress. How complex her position would
be! And being of the elect who unknowingly bear with them the power
that "moves the world," how would she affect Temple Barholm and its
"I wish to God she was here now! " exclaimed Tembarom, suddenly.
It had been an interesting talk, but now and then the duke had
wondered if, as it went on, his companion was as wholly at his ease as
was usual with him. An occasional shade of absorption in his
expression, as if he were thinking of two things at once despite
himself, a hint of restlessness, revealed themselves occasionally. Was
there something more he was speculating on the possibility of saying,
something more to tell or explain? If there was, let him take his
time. His audience, at all events, was possessed of perceptions. This
somewhat abrupt exclamation might open the way.
"That is easily understood, my dear fellow," replied the duke.
"There's times when you want a little thing like that just to talk
things over with, just to ask, because you--you're dead sure she'd
never lose her head and give herself away without knowing she was
doing it. She could just keep still and let the waves roll over her
and be standing there ready and quiet when the tide had passed. It's
the keeping your mouth shut that's so hard for most people, the not
saying a darned thing, whatever happens, till just the right time."
"Women cannot often do it," said the duke. "Very few men can."
"You're right," Tembarom answered, and there was a trifle of anxiety
in his tone.
"There's women, just the best kind, that you daren't tell a big thing
to. Not that they'd mean to give it away--perhaps they wouldn't know
when they did it--but they'd feel so anxious they'd get--they'd get--"
"Rattled," put in the duke, and knew who he was thinking of. He saw
Miss Alicia's delicate, timid face as he spoke.
T. Tembarom laughed.
"That's just it," he answered. "They wouldn't go back on you for
worlds, but--well, you have to be careful with them."
"He's got something on his mind," mentally commented the duke. "He
wonders if he will tell it to me."
"And there's times when you'd give half you've got to be able to talk
a thing out and put it up to some one else for a while. I could do it
with her. That's why I said I wish to God that she was here."
"You have learned to know how to keep still," the duke said. "So have
I. We learned it in different schools, but we have both learned."
As he was saying the words, he thought he was going to hear something;
when he had finished saying them he knew that he would without a
doubt. T. Tembarom made a quick move in his seat; he lost a shade of
color and cleared his throat as he bent forward, casting a glance at
the backs of the coachman and footman on the high seat above them.
"Can those fellows hear me?" he asked.
"No," the duke answered; "if you speak as you are speaking now."
"You are the biggest man about here," the young man went on. "You
stand for everything that English people care for, and you were born
knowing all the things I don't. I've been carrying a big load for
quite a while, and I guess I'm not big enough to handle it alone,
perhaps. Anyhow, I want to be sure I'm not making fool mistakes. The
worst of it is that I've got to keep still if I'm right, and I've got
to keep still if I'm wrong. I've got to keep still, anyhow."
"I learned to hold my tongue in places where, if I had not held it, I
might have plunged nations into bloodshed," the duke said. "Tell me
all you choose."
As a result of which, by the time their drive had ended and they
returned to Stone Hover, he had told him, and, the duke sat in his
corner of the carriage with an unusual light in his eyes and a flush
of somewhat excited color on his cheek.
"You're a queer fellow, T. Tembarom," he said when they parted in the
drawing-room after taking tea. "You exhilarate me. You make me laugh.
If I were an emotional person, you would at moments make me cry.
There's an affecting uprightness about you. You're rather a fine
fellow too, 'pon my life." Putting a waxen, gout-knuckled old hand on
his shoulder, and giving him a friendly push which was half a pat, he
added, "You are, by God!"
And after his guest had left him, the duke stood for some minutes
gazing into the fire with a complicated smile and the air of a man who
finds himself quaintly enriched.
"I have had ambitions in the course of my existence-- several of
them," he said, "but even in over-vaulting moments never have I
aspired to such an altitude as this--to be, as it were, part of a
melodrama. One feels that one scarcely deserves it."
"Mr.Temple Barholm seems in better spirits," Lady Mallowe said to
Captain Palliser as they walked on the terrace in the starlight dusk
Captain Palliser took his cigar from his mouth and looked at the
glowing end of it.
"Has it struck you that he has been in low spirits?" he inquired
speculatively. "One does not usually connect him with depression."
"Certainly not with depression. He's an extraordinary creature. One
would think he would perish from lack of the air he is used to
breathing--New York air."
"He is not perishing. He's too shrewd," returned Palliser. "He mayn't
exactly like all this, but he's getting something out of it."
"He is not getting much of what he evidently wants most. I am out of
all patience," said Lady Mallowe.
Her acquaintance with Palliser had lasted through a number of years.
They argued most matters from the same basis of reasoning. They were
at times almost candid with each other. It may be acknowledged,
however, that of the two Lady Mallowe was the more inclined to verge
on self-revelation. This was of course because she was the less clever
and had more temper. Her temper, she had, now and then, owned bitterly
to herself, had played her tricks. Captain Palliser's temper never did
this. It was Lady Mallowe's temper which spoke now, but she did not in
the least mind his knowing that Joan was exasperating her beyond
endurance. He knew the whole situation well enough to be aware of it
without speech on her part. He had watched similar situations several
"Her manner toward him is, to resort to New York colloquialisms, `the
limit,'" Palliser said quietly. "Is it your idea that his less good
spirits have been due to Lady Joan's ingenuities? They are ingenious,
"They are devilish," exclaimed her mother." She treads him in the mire
and sails about professing to be conducting herself flawlessly. She is
too clever for me," she added with bitterness.
Palliser laughed softly.
"But very often you have been too clever for her," he suggested. "For
my part, I don't quite see how you got her here."
Lady Mallowe became not almost, but entirely, candid.
"Upon the whole, I don't quite know myself. I believe she really came
for some mysterious reason of her own."
"That is rather my impression," said Palliser. "She has got something
up her sleeve, and so has he."
"He!" Lady Mallowe quite ejaculated the word. "She always has. That's
her abominable secretive way. But he! T. Tembarom with something up
his sleeve! One can't imagine it."
"Almost everybody has. I found that out long years ago," said
Palliser, looking at his cigar end again as if consulting it. "Since I
arrived at the conclusion, I always take it for granted, and look out
for it. I've become rather clever in following such things up, and I
have taken an unusual interest in T. Tembarom from the first."
Lady Mallowe turned her handsome face, much softened by an enwreathing
gauze scarf, toward him anxiously.
"Do you think his depression, or whatever it is, means Joan?" she
"If he is depressed by her, you need not be discouraged," smiled
Palliser. "The time to lose hope would be when, despite her
ingenuities, he became entirely cheerful. But," he added after a
moment of pause, "I have an idea there is some other little thing."
"Do you suppose that some young woman he has left behind in New York
is demanding her rights?" said Lady Mallowe, with annoyance. "That is
exactly the kind of thing Joan would like to hear, and so entirely
natural. Some shop-girl or other."
"Quite natural, as you say; but he would scarcely be running up to
London and consulting Scotland Yard about her," Palliser answered.
"Scotland Yard!" ejaculated his companion. "How in the world did you
find that out?"
Captain Palliser did not explain how he had done it. Presumably his
knowledge was due to the adroitness of the system of "following such
"Scotland Yard has also come to him," he went on. "Did you chance to
see a red-faced person who spent a morning with him last week?"
"He looked like a butcher, and I thought he might be one of his
friends," Lady Mallowe said.
"I recognized the man. He is an extremely clever detective, much
respected for his resources in the matter of following clues which are
so attenuated as to be scarcely clues at all."
"Clues have no connection with Joan," said Lady Mallowe, still more
annoyed. "All London knows her miserable story."
"Have you--" Captain Palliser's tone was thoughtful, "--has any one
ever seen Mr. Strangeways?"
"No. Can you imagine anything more absurdly romantic? A creature
without a memory, shut up in a remote wing of a palace like this, as
if he were the Man with the Iron Mask. Romance is not quite compatible
with T. Tembarom."
"It is so incongruous that it has entertained me to think it over a
good deal," remarked Palliser. "He leaves everything to one's
imagination. All one knows is that he isn't a relative; that he isn't
mad, but only too nervous to see or be seen. Queer situation. I've
found there is always a reason for things; the queerer they are, the
more sure it is that there's a reason. What is the reason Strangeways
is kept here, and where would a detective come in? Just on general
principles I'm rather going into the situation. There's a reason, and
it would be amusing to find it out. Don't you think so?"
He spoke casually, and Lady Mallowe's answer was casual, though she
knew from experience that he was not as casual as he chose to seem. He
was clever enough always to have certain reasons of his own which
formulated themselves into interests large and small. He knew things
about people which were useful. Sometimes quite small things were
useful. He was always well behaved, and no one had ever accused him of
bringing pressure to bear; but it was often possible for him to sell
things or buy things or bring about things in circumstances which
would have presented difficulties to other people. Lady Mallowe knew
from long experience all about the exigencies of cases when "needs
must," and she was not critical. Temple Barholm as the estate of a
distant relative and T. Tembarom as its owner were not assets to deal
with indifferently. When a man made a respectable living out of people
who could be persuaded to let you make investments for them, it was
not an unbusinesslike idea to be in the position to advise an
"It's quite natural that you should feel an interest," she answered.
"But the romantic stranger is too romantic, though I will own Scotland
Yard is a little odd."
"Yes, that is exactly what I thought," said Palliser.
He had in fact thought a good deal and followed the thing up in a
quiet, amateur way, though with annoyingly little result. Occasionally
he had felt rather a fool for his pains, because he had been led to so
few facts of importance and had found himself so often confronted by
T. Tembarom's entirely frank grin. His own mental attitude was not a
complex one. Lady Mallowe's summing up had been correct enough on the
whole. Temple Barholm ought to be a substantial asset, regarded in its
connection with its present owner. Little dealings in stocks--
sometimes rather large ones when luck was with him-- had brought
desirable returns to Captain Palliser throughout a number of years.
Just now he was taking an interest in a somewhat imposing scheme, or
what might prove an imposing one if it were managed properly and
presented to the right persons. If T. Tembarom had been sufficiently
lured by the spirit of speculation to plunge into old Hutchinson's
affair, as he evidently had done, he was plainly of the temperament
attracted by the game of chance. There had been no reason but that of
temperament which could have led him to invest. He had found himself
suddenly a moneyed man and had liked the game. Never having so much as
heard of Little Ann Hutchinson, Captain Palliser not unnaturally
argued after this wise. There seemed no valid reason why, if a vague
invention had allured, a less vague scheme, managed in a more
businesslike manner, should not. This Mexican silver and copper mine
was a dazzling thing to talk about. He could go into details. He had,
in fact, allowed a good deal of detail to trail through his
conversation at times. It had not been difficult to accomplish this in
his talks with Lady Mallowe in his host's presence. Lady Mallowe was
always ready to talk of mines, gold, silver, or copper. It happened at
times that one could manage to secure a few shares without the actual
payment of money. There were little hospitalities or social
amiabilities now and then which might be regarded as value received.
So she had made it easy for Captain Palliser to talk, and T. Tembarom
had heard much which would have been of interest to the kind of young
man he appeared to be. Sometimes he had listened absorbedly, and on a
few occasions he had asked a few questions which laid him curiously
bare in his role of speculator. If he had no practical knowledge of
the ways and means of great mining companies, he at least professed
none. At all events, if there was any little matter he preferred to
keep to himself, there was no harm in making oneself familiar with its
aspect and significance. A man's arguments, so far as he himself is
concerned, assume the character with which his own choice of
adjectives and adverbs labels them. That is, if he labels them. The
most astute do not. Captain Palliser did not. He dealt merely with
reasoning processes which were applicable to the subject in hand,
whatsoever its nature. He was a practical man of the world--a
gentleman, of course. It was necessary to adjust matters without
romantic hair-splitting. It was all by the way.
T. Tembarom had at the outset seemed to present, so to speak, no
surface. Palliser had soon ceased to be at all sure that his social
ambitions were to be relied on as a lever. Besides which, when the old
Duke of Stone took delighted possession of him, dined with him, drove
with him, sat and gossiped with him by the hour, there was not much
one could offer him. Strangeways had at first meant only eccentricity.
A little later he had occasionally faintly stirred curiosity, and
perhaps the fact that Burrill enjoyed him as a grievance and a mystery
had stimulated the stirring. The veriest chance had led him to find
himself regarding the opening up of possible vistas.
From a certain window in a certain wing of the house a much-praised
view was to be seen. Nothing was more natural than that on the
occasion of a curious sunset Palliser should, in coming from his room,
decide to take a look at it. As he passed through a corridor Pearson
came out of a room near him.
"How is Mr. Strangeways to-day?" Palliser asked.
"Not quite so well, I am afraid, sir," was the answer.
"Sorry to hear it," replied Palliser, and passed on.
On his return he walked somewhat slowly down the corridor. As he
turned into it he thought he heard the murmur of voices. One was that
of T. Tembarom, and he was evidently using argument. It sounded as if
he were persuading some one to agree with him, and the persuasion was
earnest. He was not arguing with Pearson or a housemaid. Why was he
arguing with his pensioner? His voice was as low as it was eager, and
the other man's replies were not to be heard. Only just after Palliser
had passed the door there broke out an appeal which was a sort of cry.
"No! My God, no! Don't send me away? Don't send me away!"
One could not, even if so inclined, stand and listen near a door while
servants might chance to be wandering about. Palliser went on his way
with a sense of having been slightly startled.
"He wants to get rid of him, and the fellow is giving him trouble," he
said to himself. "That voice is not American. Not in the least." It
set him thinking and observing. When Tembarom wore the look which was
not a look of depression, but of something more puzzling, he thought
that he could guess at its reason. By the time he talked with Lady
Mallowe he had gone much further than he chose to let her know.
The popularity of Captain Palliser's story of the "Ladies" had been
great at the outset, but with the passage of time it had oddly waned.
This had resulted from the story's ceasing to develop itself, as the
simplest intelligence might have anticipated, by means of the only
person capable of its proper development. The person in question was
of course T. Tembarom. Expectations, amusing expectations, of him had
been raised, and he had singularly failed in the fulfilling of them.
The neighborhood had, so to speak, stood upon tiptoe,--the feminine
portion of it, at least,--looking over shoulders to get the first
glimpses of what would inevitably take place.
As weeks flew by, the standing on tiptoe became a thing of the past.
The whole thing flattened out most disappointingly. No attack whatever
was made upon the "Ladies." That the Duke of Stone had immensely taken
up Mr. Temple Barholm had of course resulted in his being accepted in
such a manner as gave him many opportunities to encounter one and all.
He appeared at dinners, teas, and garden parties. Miss Alicia, whom he
had in some occult manner impressed upon people until they found
themselves actually paying a sort of court to her, was always his
"One realizes one cannot possibly leave her out of anything," had been
said. "He has somehow established her as if she were his mother or his
aunt--or his interpreter. And such clothes, my dear, one doesn't
behold. Worth and Paquin and Doucet must go sleepless for weeks to
invent them. They are without a flaw in shade or line or texture."
Which was true, because Mrs. Mellish of the Bond Street shop had
become quite obsessed by her idea and committed extravagances Miss
Alicia offered up contrite prayer to atone for, while Tembarom, simply
chortling in his glee, signed checks to pay for their exquisite
embodiment. That he was not reluctant to avail himself of social
opportunities was made manifest by the fact that he never refused an
invitation. He appeared upon any spot to which hospitality bade him,
and unashamedly placed himself on record as a neophyte upon almost all
occasions. His well-cut clothes began in time to wear more the air of
garments belonging to him, but his hat made itself remarked by its
trick of getting pushed back on his head or tilted on side, and his
New York voice and accent rang out sharp and finely nasal in the midst
of low-pitched, throaty, or mellow English enunciations. He talked a
good deal at times because he found himself talked to by people who
either wanted to draw him out or genuinely wished to hear the things
he would be likely to say.
That the hero of Palliser's story should so comport himself as to
provide either diversion or cause for haughty displeasure would have
been only a natural outcome of his ambitions. In a brief period of
time, however, every young woman who might have expected to find
herself an object of such ambitions realized that his methods of
approach and attack were not marked by the usual characteristics of
aspirants of his class. He evidently desired to see and be seen. He
presented himself, as it were, for inspection and consideration, but
while he was attentive, he did not press attentions upon any one. He
did not make advances in the ordinary sense of the word. He never
essayed flattering or even admiring remarks. He said queer things at
which one often could not help but laugh, but he somehow wore no air
of saying them with the intention of offering them as witticisms which
might be regarded as allurements. He did not ogle, he did not simper
or shuffle about nervously and turn red or pale, as eager and awkward
youths have a habit of doing under the stress of unrequited
admiration. In the presence of a certain slightingness of treatment,
which he at the outset met with not infrequently, he conducted himself
with a detached good nature which seemed to take but small account of
attitudes less unoffending than his own. When the slightingness
disappeared from sheer lack of anything to slight, he did not change
his manner in any degree.
"He is not in the least forward," Beatrice Talchester said, the time
arriving when she and her sisters occasionally talked him over with
their special friends, the Granthams, "and he is not forever under
one's feet, as the pushing sort usually is. Do you remember those rich
people from the place they called Troy--the ones who took Burnaby for
a year--and the awful eldest son who perpetually invented excuses for
calling, bringing books and ridiculous things?"
"This one never makes an excuse," Amabel Grantham put in.
"But he never declines an invitation. There is no doubt that he wants
to see people," said Lady Honora, with the pretty little nose and the
dimples. She had ceased to turn up the pretty little nose, and she
showed a dimple as she added: "Gwynedd is tremendously taken with him.
She is teaching him to play croquet. They spend hours together."
"He's beginning to play a pretty good game," said Gwynedd. "He's not
stupid, at all events."
"I believe you are the first choice, if he is really choosing," Amabel
Grantham decided. "I should like to ask you a question."
"Ask it, by all means," said Gwynedd.
"Does he ever ask you to show him how to hold his mallet, and then do
idiotic things, such as managing to touch your hand?"
"Never," was Gwynedd's answer. "The young man from Troy used to do it,
and then beg pardon and turn red."
"I don't understand him, or I don't understand Captain Palliser's
story," Amabel Grantham argued. "Lucy and I are quite out of the
running, but I honestly believe that he takes as much notice of us as
he does of any of you. If he has intentions, he 'doesn't act the
part,' which is pure New York of the first water."
"He said, however, that the things that mattered were not only titles,
but looks. He asked how many of us were 'lookers.' Don't be modest,
Amabel. Neither you nor Lucy are out of the running," Beatrice amiably
"Ladies first," commented Amabel, pertly. There was no objection to
being supported in one's suspicion that, after all, one was a
"There may be a sort of explanation," Honora put the idea forward
somewhat thoughtfully. "Captain Palliser insists that he is much
shrewder than he seems. Perhaps he is cautious, and is looking us all
over before he commits himself."
"He is a Temple Barholm, after all," said Gwynedd, with boldness.
"He's rather good looking. He has the nicest white teeth and the most
cheering grin I ever saw, and he's as 'rich as grease is,' as I heard
a housemaid say one day. I'm getting quite resigned to his voice, or
it is improving, I don't know which. If he only knew the mere A B C of
ordinary people like ourselves, and he committed himself to me, I
wouldn't lay my hand on my heart and say that one might not think him
"I told you she was tremendously taken with him," said her sister.
"It's come to this."
"But," said Lady Gwynedd, "he is not going to commit himself to any of
us, incredible as it may seem. The one person he stares at sometimes
is Joan Fayre, and he only looks at her as if he were curious and
wouldn't object to finding out why she treats him so outrageously. He
isn't annoyed; he's only curious."
"He's been adored by salesladies in New York," said Honora, "and he
can't understand it."
"He's been liked," Amabel Grantham summed him up. "He's a likable
thing. He's even rather a dear. I've begun to like him myself."
"I hear you are learning to play croquet," the Duke of Stone remarked
to him a day or so later. "How do you like it?"
"Lady Gwynedd Talchester is teaching me," Tembarom answered. "I'd
learn to iron shirt-waists if she would give me lessons. She's one of
the two that have dimples," he added, reflection in his tone. "I guess
that'll count. Shouldn't you think it would?"
"Miss Hutchinson?" queried the duke.
"Yes, it's always her," he answered without a ray of humor. "I just
want to stack 'em up."
"You are doing it," the duke replied with a slightly twisted mouth.
There were, in fact, moments when he might have fallen into fits of
laughter while Tembarom was seriousness itself. "I must, however, call
your attention to the fact that there is sometimes in your manner a
hint of a businesslike pursuit of a fixed object which you must beware
of. The Lady Gwynedds might not enjoy the situation if they began to
suspect. If they decided to flout you,--'to throw you down,' I ought
to say--where would little Miss Hutchinson be?"
Tembarom looked startled and disturbed.
"Say," he exclaimed, "do I ever look that way? I must do better than
that. Anyhow, it ain't all put on. I'm doing my stunt, of course, but
I like them. They're mighty nice to me when you consider what they're
up against. And those two with the dimples,--Lady Gwynned and Lady
Honora, are just peaches. Any fellow might"--he stopped and looked
serious again--"That's why they'd count," he added.
They were having one of their odd long talks under a particularly
splendid copper beech which provided the sheltered out-of-door corner
his grace liked best. When they took their seats together in this
retreat, it was mysteriously understood that they were settling
themselves down to enjoyment of their own, and must not be disturbed.
"When I am comfortable and entertained," Moffat, the house steward,
had quoted his master as saying, "you may mention it if the castle is
in flames; but do not annoy me with excitement and flurry. Ring the
bell in the courtyard, and call up the servants to pass buckets; but
until the lawn catches fire, I must insist on being left alone."
"What dear papa talks to him about, and what he talks about to dear
papa," Lady Celia had more than once murmured in her gently remote,
high-nosed way, "I cannot possibly imagine. Sometimes when I have
passed them on my way to the croquet lawn I have really seen them both
look as absorbed as people in a play. Of course it is very good for
papa. It has had quite a marked effect on his digestion. But isn't it
"I wish," Lady Edith remarked almost wistfully, "that I could get on
better with him myself conversationally. But I don't know what to talk
about, and it makes me nervous."
Their father, on the contrary, found in him unique resources, and this
afternoon it occurred to him that he had never so far heard him
express himself freely on the subject of Palliser. If led to do so, he
would probably reveal that he had views of Captain Palliser of which
he might not have been suspected, and the manner in which they would
unfold themselves would more than probably be illuminating. The duke
was, in fact, serenely sure that he required neither warning nor
advice, and he had no intention of offering either. He wanted to hear
"Do you know," he said as he stirred his tea, "I've been thinking
about Palliser, and it has occurred to me more than once that I should
like to hear just how he strikes you?"
"What I got on to first was how I struck him," answered Tembarom, with
a reasonable air. "That was dead easy."
There was no hint of any vaunt of superior shrewdness. His was merely
the level-toned manner of an observer of facts in detail.
"He has given you an opportunity of seeing a good deal of him," the
duke added. "What do you gather from him-- unless he has made up his
mind that you shall not gather anything at all?"
"A fellow like that couldn't fix it that way, however much he wanted
to," Tembarom answered again reasonably. "Just his trying to do it
would give him away."
"You mean you have gathered things?"
"Oh, I've gathered enough, though I didn't go after it. It hung on the
bushes. Anyhow, it seemed to me that way. I guess you run up against
that kind everywhere. There's stacks of them in New York--different
shapes and sizes."
"If you met a man of his particular shape and size in New York, how
would you describe him?" the duke asked.
"I should never have met him when I was there. He wouldn't have come
my way. He'd have been on Wall Street, doing high-class bucket-shop
business, or he'd have had a swell office selling copper-mines--any
old kind of mine that's going to make ten million a minute, the sort
of deal he's in now. If he'd been the kind I might have run up
against," he added with deliberation, "he wouldn't have been as well
dressed or as well spoken. He'd have been either flashy or down at
heel. You'd have called him a crook."
The duke seemed pleased with his tea as, after having sipped it, he
put it down on the table at his side.
"A crook?" he repeated. "I wonder if that word is altogether
"It's not complimentary, but you asked me," said Tembarom. "But I
don't believe you asked me because you thought I wasn't on to him."
"Frankly speaking, no," answered the duke. "Does he talk to you about
the mammoth mines and the rubber forests?"
"Say, that's where he wins out with me," Tembarom replied admiringly.
"He gets in such fine work that I switch him on to it whenever I want
cheering up. It makes me sorter forget things that worry me just to
see a man act the part right up to the top notch the way he does it.
The very way his clothes fit, the style he's got his hair brushed, and
that swell, careless lounge of his, are half of the make-up. You see,
most of us couldn't mistake him for anything else but just what he
looks like--a gentleman visiting round among his friends and a million
miles from wanting to butt in with business. The thing that first got
me interested was watching how he slid in the sort of guff he wanted
you to get worked up about and think over. Why, if I'd been what I
look like to him, he'd have had my pile long ago, and he wouldn't be
loafing round here any more."
"What do you think you look like to him?" his host inquired.
"I look as if I'd eat out of his hand," Tembarom answered, quite
unbiased by any touch of wounded vanity. "Why shouldn't I? And I'm not
trying to wake him up, either. I like to look that way to him and to
his sort. It gives me a chance to watch and get wise to things. He's a
high-school education in himself. I like to hear him talk. I asked him
to come and stay at the house so that I could hear him talk."
"Did he introduce the mammoth mines in his first call?" the duke
"Oh, I don't mean that kind of talk. I didn't know how much good I was
going to get out of him at first. But he was the kind I hadn't known,
and it seemed like he was part of the whole thing--like the girls with
title that Ann said I must get next to. And an easy way of getting
next to the man kind was to let him come and stay. He wanted to, all
right. I guess that's the way he lives when he's down on his luck,
getting invited to stay at places. Like Lady Mallowe," he added, quite
"You do sum them up, don't you?" smiled the duke.
"Well, I don't see how I could help it," he said impartially. "They're
printed in sixty-four point black-face, seems to me."
"What is that?" the duke inquired with interest. He thought it might
be a new and desirable bit of slang. "I don't know that one."
"Biggest type there is," grinned Tembarom. "It's the kind that's used
for head-lines. That's newspaper-office talk."
"Ah, technical, I see. What, by the way, is the smallest lettering
called?" his grace followed up.
"Brilliant," answered Tembarom.
"You," remarked the duke, "are not printed in sixty-four-point black-
face so far as they are concerned. You are not even brilliant. They
don't find themselves able to sum you up. That fact is one of my
"I'll tell you why," Tembarom explained with his clearly unprejudiced
air. "There's nothing much about me to sum up, anyhow. I'm too sort of
plain sailing and ordinary. I'm not making for anywhere they'd think
I'd want to go. I'm not hiding anything they'd be sure I'd want to
"By the Lord! you're not!" exclaimed the duke.
"When I first came here, every one of them had a fool idea I'd want to
pretend I'd never set eyes on a newsboy or a boot-black, and that I
couldn't find my way in New York when I got off Fifth Avenue. I used
to see them thinking they'd got to look as if they believed it, if
they wanted to keep next. When I just let out and showed I didn't care
a darn and hadn't sense enough to know that it mattered, it nearly
made them throw a fit. They had to turn round and fix their faces all
over again and act like it was 'interesting.' That's what Lady Mallowe
calls it. She says it's so 'interesting!'"
"It is," commented the duke.
"Well, you know that, but she doesn't. Not on your life! I guess it
makes her about sick to think of it and have to play that it's just
what you'd want all your men friends to have done. Now, Palliser--" he
paused and grinned again. He was sitting in a most casual attitude,
his hands clasped round one up-raised knee, which he nursed, balancing
himself. It was a position of informal ease which had an air of
assisting enjoyable reflection.
"Yes, Palliser? Don't let us neglect Palliser," his host encouraged
"He's in a worse mix-up than the rest because he's got more to lose.
If he could work this mammoth-mine song and dance with the right
people, there'd be money enough in it to put him on Easy Street.
That's where he's aiming for. The company's just where it has to have
a boost. It's just GOT to. If it doesn't, there'll be a bust up that
may end in fitting out a high-toned promoter or so in a striped
yellow-and-black Jersey suit and set him to breaking rocks or playing
with oakum. I'll tell you, poor old Palliser gets the Willies
sometimes after he's read his mail. He turns the color of ecru baby
Irish. That's a kind of lace I got a dressmaker to tell me about when
I wrote up receptions and dances for the Sunday Earth. Ecru baby
Irish--that's Palliser's color after he's read his letters."
"I dare say the fellow's in a devil of a mess, if the truth were
known," the duke said.
"And here's 'T. T.,' hand-made and hand-painted for the part of the
kind of sucker he wants." T. Tembarom's manner was almost sympathetic
in its appreciation. "I can tell you I'm having a real good time with
Palliser. It looked like I'd just dropped from heaven when he first
saw me. If he'd been the praying kind, I'd have been just the sort
he'd have prayed for when he said his `Now-I-lay-me's' before he went
to bed. There wasn't a chance in a hundred that I wasn't a fool that
had his head swelled so that he'd swallow any darned thing if you
handed it to him smooth enough. First time he called he asked me a lot
of questions about New York business. That was pretty smart of him. He
wanted to find out, sort of careless, how much I knew--or how little."
The duke was leaning back luxuriously in his chair and gazing at him
as he might have gazed at the work of an old master of which each line
and shade was of absorbing interest.
"I can see him," he said. "I can see him."
"He found out I knew nothing," Tembarom continued. "And what was to
hinder him trying to teach me something, by gee! Nothing on top of the
green earth. I was there, waiting with my mouth open, it seemed like."
"And he has tried--in his best manner?" said his grace.
"What he hasn't tried wouldn't be worthy trying," Tembarom answered
cheerfully. "Sometimes it seems like a shame to waste it. I've got so
I know how to start him when he doesn't know I'm doing it. I tell you,
he's fine. Gentlemanly --that's his way, you know. High-toned friend
that just happens to know of a good thing and thinks enough of you in
a sort of reserved way to feel like it's a pity not to give you a
chance to come in on the ground floor, if you've got the sense to see
the favor he's friendly enough to do you. It's such a favor that it'd
just disgust a man if you could possibly turn it down. But of course
you're to take it or leave it. It's not to his interest to push it.
Lord, no! Whatever you did his way is that he'd not condescend to say
a darned word. High-toned silence, that's all."
The Duke of Stone was chuckling very softly. His chuckles rather broke
his words when he spoke.
"By--by--Jove!" he said. "You--you do see it, don't you? You do see
Tembarom nursed his knee comfortably.
"Why," he said, "it's what keeps me up. You know a lot more about me
than any one else does, but there's a whole raft of things I think
about that I couldn't hang round any man's neck. If I tried to hang
them round yours, you'd know that I would be having a hell of a time
here, if I'd let myself think too much. If I didn't see it, as you
call it, if I didn't see so many things, I might begin to get sorry
for myself. There was a pause of a second. "Gee!" he said, "Gee! this
not hearing a thing about Ann!--"
"Good Lord! my dear fellow," the duke said hastily, "I know. I know."
Tembarom turned and looked at him.
"You've been there," he remarked. "You've been there, I bet."
"Yes, I've been there," answered the duke. "I've been there--and come
back. But while it's going on--you have just described it. A man can
have a hell of a time."
"He can," Tembarom admitted unreservedly. "He's got to keep going to
stand it. Well, Strangeways gives me some work to do. And I've got
Palliser. He's a little sunbeam."
A man-servant approaching to suggest a possible need of hot tea
started at hearing his grace break into a sudden and plainly
involuntary crow of glee. He had not heard that one before either.
Palliser as a little sunbeam brightening the pathway of T. Tembarom,
was, in the particular existing circumstances, all that could be
desired of fine humor. It somewhat recalled the situation of the
"Ladies" of the noble houses of Pevensy, Talchester, and Stone
unconsciously passing in review for the satisfaction of little Miss
Hutchinson. Tembarom laughed a little himself, but he went on with a
sort of seriousness
"There's one thing sure enough. I've got on to it by listening and
working out what he would do by what he doesn't know he says. If he
could put the screws on me in any way, he wouldn't hold back. It'd be
all quite polite and gentlemanly, but he'd do it all the same. And
he's dead-sure that everybody's got something they'd like to hide--or
get. That's what he works things out from."
"Does he think you have something to hide--or get?" the duke inquired
"He's sure of it. But he doesn't know yet whether it's get or hide. He
noses about. Pearson's seen him. He asks questions and plays he ain't
doing it and ain't interested, anyhow."
"He doesn't like you, he doesn't like you," the duke said rather
thoughtfully. "He has a way of conveying that you are far more subtle
than you choose to look. He is given to enlarging on the fact that an
air of entire frankness is one of the chief assets of certain
promoters of huge American schemes."
Tembarom smiled the smile of recognition.
"Yes," he said, "it looks like that's a long way round, doesn't it?
But it's not far to T. T. when you want to hitch on the connection.
Anyhow, that's the way he means it to look. If ever I was suspected of
being in any mix-up, everybody would remember he'd said that."
"It's very amusin'," said the duke. " It's very amusin'."
They had become even greater friends and intimates by this time than
the already astonished neighborhood suspected them of being. That they
spent much time together in an amazing degree of familiarity was the
talk of the country, in fact, one of the most frequent resources of
conversation. Everybody endeavored to find reason for the situation,
but none had been presented which seemed of sufficiently logical
convincingness. The duke was eccentric, of course. That was easy to
hit upon. He was amiably perverse and good-humoredly cynical. He was
of course immensely amused by the incongruity of the acquaintance.
This being the case, why exactly he had never before chosen for
himself a companion equally out of the picture it was not easy to
explain. There were plow-boys or clerks out of provincial shops who
would surely have been quite as incongruous when surrounded by ducal
splendors. He might have got a young man from Liverpool or Blackburn
who would have known as little of polite society as Mr. Temple
Barholm; there were few, of course, who could know less. But he had
never shown the faintest desire to seek one out. Palliser, it is true,
suggested it was Tembarom's "cheek" which stood him in good stead. The
young man from behind the counter in a Liverpool or Blackburn shop
would probably have been frightened to death and afraid to open his
mouth in self-revelation, whereas Temple Barholm was so entirely a
bounder that he did not know he was one, and was ready to make an ass
of himself to any extent. The frankest statement of the situation, if
any one had so chosen to put it, would have been that he was regarded
as a sort of court fool without cap or bells.
No one was aware of the odd confidences which passed between the
weirdly dissimilar pair. No one guessed that the old peer sat and
listened to stories of a red-headed, slim-bodied girl in a dingy New
York boarding-house, that he liked them sufficiently to encourage
their telling, that he had made a mental picture of a certain look in
a pair of maternally yearning and fearfully convincing round young
eyes, that he knew the burnished fullness and glow of the red hair
until he could imagine the feeling of its texture and abundant warmth
in the hand. And this subject was only one of many. And of others they
talked with interest, doubt, argument, speculation, holding a living
The tap of croquet mallets sounded hollow and clear from the sunken
lawn below the mass of shrubs between them and the players as the duke
"It's hugely amusin'," dropping his "g," which was not one of his
"Confound it!" he said next, wrinkling the thin, fine skin round his
eyes in a speculative smile, "I wish I had had a son of my own just
All of Tembarom's white teeth revealed themselves.
"I'd have liked to have been in it," he replied, "but I shouldn't have
been like me."
"Yes, you would." The duke put the tips of his fingers delicately
together. "You are of the kind which in all circumstances is like
itself." He looked about him, taking in the turreted, majestic age and
mass of the castle. "You would have been born here. You would have
learned to ride your pony down the avenue. You would have gone to Eton
and to Oxford. I don't think you would have learned much, but you
would have been decidedly edifying and companionable. You would have
had a sense of humor which would have made you popular in society and
at court. A young fellow who makes those people laugh holds success in
his hand. They want to be made to laugh as much as I do. Good God! how
they are obliged to be bored and behave decently under it! You would
have seen and known more things to be humorous about than you know
now. I don't think you would have been a fool about women, but some of
them would have been fools about you, because you've got a way. I had
one myself. It's all the more dangerous because it's possibility
suggesting without being sentimental. A friendly young fellow always
suggests possibilities without being aware of it.
"Would I have been Lord Temple Temple Barholm or something of that
sort?" Tembarom asked.
"You would have been the Marquis of Belcarey," the duke replied,
looking him over thoughtfully, "and your name would probably have been
Hugh Lawrence Gilbert Henry Charles Adelbert, or words to that
"A regular six-shooter," said Tembarom.
The duke was following it up with absorption in his eyes.
"You'd have gone into the Guards, perhaps," he said, "and drill would
have made you carry yourself better. You're a good height. You'd have
been a well-set-up fellow. I should have been rather proud of you. I
can see you riding to the palace with the rest of them, sabres and
chains clanking and glittering and helmet with plumes streaming. By
Jove! I don't wonder at the effect they have on nursery-maids. On a
sunny morning in spring they suggest knights in a fairytale."
"I should have liked it all right if I hadn't been born in Brooklyn,"
grinned Tembarom. "But that starts you out in a different way. Do you
think, if I'd been born the Marquis of Bel--what's his name--I should
have been on to Palliser's little song and dance, and had as much fun
out of it?"
"On my soul, I believe you would," the, duke answered. "Brooklyn or
Stone Hover Castle, I'm hanged if you wouldn't have been YOU."
After this came a pause. Each man sat thinking his own thoughts,
which, while marked with difference in form, were doubtless subtly
alike in the line they followed. During the silence T. Tembarom looked
out at the late afternoon shadows lengthening themselves in darkening
velvet across the lawns.
At last he said:
"I never told you that I've been reading some of the 'steen thousand
books in the library. I started it about a month ago. And somehow
they've got me going."
The slightly lifted eyebrows of his host did not express surprise so
much as questioning interest. This man, at least, had discovered that
one need find no cause for astonishment in any discovery that he had
been doing a thing for some time for some reason or through some
prompting of his own, and had said nothing whatever about it until he
was what he called "good and ready." When he was "good and ready" he
usually revealed himself to the duke, but he was not equally expansive
"No, you have not mentioned it," his grace answered, and laughed a
little. "You frequently fail to mention things. When first we knew
each other I used to wonder if you were naturally a secretive fellow;
but you are not. You always have a reason for your silences."
"It took about ten years to kick that into me--ten good years, I
should say." T. Tembarom looked as if he were looking backward at many
episodes as he said it. "Naturally, I guess, I must have been an
innocent, blab-mouthed kid. I meant no harm, but I just didn't know.
Sometimes it looks as if just not knowing is about the worst disease
you can be troubled with. But if you don't get killed first, you find
out in time that what you've got to hold on to hard and fast is the
trick of 'saying nothing and sawing wood.'"
The duke took out his memorandum-book and began to write hastily. T.
Tembarom was quite accustomed to this. He even repeated his axiom for
"Say nothing and saw wood," he said. "It's worth writing down. It