Part 8 out of 11
means 'shut your mouth and keep on working.'"
"Thank you," said the duke. "It is worth writing down. Thank you."
"I did not talk about the books because I wanted to get used to them
before I began to talk," Tembarom explained. "I wanted to get
somewhere. I'd never read a book through in my life before. Never
wanted to. Never had one and never had time. When night came, I was
dog-tired and dog-ready to drop down and sleep."
Here was a situation of interest. A young man of odd, direct
shrewdness, who had never read a book through in his existence, had
plunged suddenly into the extraordinarily varied literary resources of
the Temple Barholm library. If he had been a fool or a genius one
might have guessed at the impression made on him; being T. Tembarom,
one speculated with secret elation. The primitiveness he might reveal,
the profundities he might touch the surface of, the unexpected ends he
might reach, suggested the opening of vistas.
"I have often thought that if books attracted you the library would
help you to get through a good many of the hundred and thirty-six
hours a day you've spoken of, and get through them pretty decently,"
commented the duke.
"That's what's happened," Tembarom answered. "There's not so many now.
I can cut 'em off in chunks."
"How did it begin?"
He listened with much pleasure while Tembarom told him how it had
begun and how it had gone on.
"I'd been having a pretty bad time one day. Strangeways had been
worse--a darned sight worse--just when I thought he was better. I'd
been trying to help him to think straight; and suddenly I made a
break, somehow, and must have touched exactly the wrong spring. It
seemed as if I set him nearly crazy. I had to leave him to Pearson
right away. Then it poured rain steady for about eight hours, and I
couldn't get out and `take a walk.' Then I went wandering into the
picture-gallery and found Lady Joan there, looking at Miles Hugo. And
she ordered me out, or blamed near it."
"You are standing a good deal," said the duke.
"Yes, I am--but so is she." He set his hard young jaw and nursed his
knee, staring once more at the velvet shadows. "The girl in the book I
picked up--" he began.
"The first book? " his host inquired.
"The very first. I was smoking my pipe at night, after every one else
had gone to bed, and I got up and began to wander about and stare at
the names of the things on the shelves. I was thinking over a whole
raft of things--a whole raft of them--and I didn't know I was doing
it, until something made me stop and read a name again. It was a book
called `Good-by, Sweetheart, Good-by,' and it hit me straight. I
wondered what it was about, and I wondered where old Temple Barholm
had fished up a thing like that. I never heard he was that kind."
"He was a cantankerous old brute," said the Duke of Stone with candor,
"but he chanced to be an omnivorous novel-reader. Nothing was too
sentimental for him in his later years."
"I took the thing out and read it," Tembarom went on, uneasily, the
emotion of his first novel-reading stirring him as he talked. "It kept
me up half the night, and I hadn't finished it then. I wanted to know
"Benisons upon the books of which one wants to know the end!" the duke
Tembarom's interest had plainly not terminated with "the end." Its
freshness made it easily revived. There was a hint of emotional
indignation in his relation of the plot.
"It was about a couple of fools who were dead stuck on each other--
dead. There was no mistake about that. It was all real. But what do
they do but work up a fool quarrel about nothing, and break away from
each other. There was a lot of stuff about pride. Pride be damned!
How's a man going to be proud and put on airs when he loves a woman?
How's a woman going to be proud and stick out about things when she
loves a man? At least, that's the way it hit me."
"That's the way it hit me--once," remarked his grace.
"There is only once," said Tembarom, doggedly.
"Occasionally," said his host. "Occasionally."
Tembarom knew what he meant.
"The fellow went away, and neither of them would give in. It's queer
how real it was when you read it. You were right there looking on, and
swallowing hard every few minutes-- though you were as mad as hops.
The girl began to die--slow --and lay there day after day, longing for
him to come back, and knowing he wouldn't. At the very end, when there
was scarcely a breath left in her, a young fellow who was crazy about
her himself, and always had been, put out after the hard-headed fool
to bring him to her anyhow. The girl had about given in then. And she
lay and waited hour after hour, and the youngster came back by
himself. He couldn't bring the man he'd gone after. He found him
getting married to a nice girl he didn't really care a darn for. He'd
sort of set his teeth and done it--just because he was all in and down
and out, and a fool. The girl just dropped her head back on the pillow
and lay there, dead! What do you think of that?" quite fiercely. "I
guess it was sentimental all right, but it got you by the throat."
"'Good-bye, Sweetheart, Good-bye,"' his grace quoted. "First-class
title. We are all sentimental. And that was the first, was it?"
"Yes, but it wasn't the last. I began to read the others. I've been
reading them ever since. I tell you, for a fellow that knows nothing
it's an easy way of finding out a lot of things. You find out what
different kinds of people there are, and what different kinds of ways.
If you've lived in one place, and been up against nothing but earning
your living, you think that's all there is of it--that it's the whole
thing. But it isn't, by gee!" His air became thoughtful. "I've begun
to kind of get on to what all this means"--glancing about him--"to you
people; and how a fellow like T. T. must look to you. I've always sort
of guessed, but reading a few dozen novels has helped me to see WHY
it's that way. I've yelled right out laughing over it many a time.
That fellow called Thackeray--I can't read his things right straight
through-- but he 's an eye-opener."
"You have tried nothing BUT novels?" his enthralled hearer inquired.
"Not yet. I shall come to the others in time. I'm sort of hungry for
these things about PEOPLE. It's the ways they're different that gets
me going. There was one that stirred me all up--but it wasn't like
that first one. It was about a man "--he spoke slowly, as if searching
for words and parallels --"well, I guess he was one of the early
savages here. It read as if they were like the first Indians in
America, only stronger and fiercer. When Palford was explaining things
to me he'd jerk in every now and then something about 'coming over
with the Conqueror' or being here 'before the Conqueror.' I didn't
know what it meant. I found out in this book I'm telling about. It
gave me the whole thing so that you SAW it. Here was this little
country, with no one in it but these first savage fellows it'd always
belonged to. They thought it was the world." There was a humorous
sense of illumination in his half-laugh. "It was their New York, by
jings," he put in. "Their little old New York that they'd never been
outside of! And then first one lot slams in, and then another, and
another, and tries to take it from them. Julius Caesar was the first
Mr. Buttinski; and they fought like hell. They were fighters from
Fightersville, anyhow. They fought each other, took each other's
castles and lands and wives and jewelry--just any old thing they
wanted. The only jails were private ones meant for their particular
friends. And a man was hung only when one of his neighbors got mad
enough at him, and then he had to catch him first and run the risk of
being strung up himself, or have his head chopped off and stuck up on
a spike somewhere for ornament. But fight! Good Lord! They were at it
day and night. Did it for fun, just like folks go to the show. They
didn't know what fear was. Never heard of it. They'd go about shouting
and bragging and swaggering, with their heads hanging half off. And
the one in this book was the bulliest fighter of the lot. I guess I
don't know how to pronounce his name. It began with H."
"Was it Hereward the Wake, by chance?" exclaimed his auditor.
"Hereward the Last of the English?"
"That's the man," cried Tembarom.
"An engaging ruffian and thief and murderer, and a touching one also,"
commented the duke. "You liked him?" He really wanted to know.
"I like the way he went after what he wanted to get, and the way he
fought for his bit of England. By gee! When he went rushing into a
fight, shouting and boasting and swinging his sword, I got hot in the
collar. It was his England. What was old Bill doing there anyhow, darn
him! Those chaps made him swim in their blood before they let him put
the thing over. Good business! I'm glad they gave him all that was
coming to him--hot and strong."
His sharp face had reddened and his voice rose high and nasal. There
was a look of roused blood in him.
"Are you a fighter from Fightersville?" the duke asked, far from
unstirred himself. These things had become myths to most people, but
here was Broadway in the midst of them unconsciously suggesting that
it might not have done ill in the matter of swinging "Brain-Biter"
itself. The modern entity slipped back again through the lengthened
links of bygone centuries--back until it became T. Tembarom once more-
- casual though shrewd; ready and jocular. His eyes resumed their dry
New York humor of expression as they fixed themselves on his wholly
"I'll fight," he said, "for what I've got to fight for, but not for a
darned thing else. Not a darned thing."
"But you would fight," smiled the duke, grimly. "Did you happen to
remember that blood like that has come down to you? It was some drop
of it which made you `hot in the collar' over that engaging savage
roaring and slashing about him for his `bit of England."'
Tembarom seemed to think it out interestedly.
"No, I did not," he answered. "But I guess that's so. I guess it's so.
Great Jakes! Think of me perhaps being sort of kin to fellows just
like that. Some way, you couldn't help liking him. He was always
making big breaks and bellowing out `The Wake! The Wake!' in season
and out of season; but the way he got there--just got there!"
He was oddly in sympathy with "the early savages here," and as
understandingly put himself into their places as he had put himself
into Galton's. His New York comprehension of their berserker furies
was apparently without limit. Strong partizan as he was of the last of
the English, however, he admitted that William of Normandy had "got in
some good work, though it wasn't square."
"He was a big man," he ended. "If he hadn't been the kind he was I
don't know how I should have stood it when the Hereward fellow knelt
down before him, and put his hands between his and swore to be his
man. That's the way the book said it. I tell you that must have been
tough--tough as hell!"
From "Good-bye, Sweetheart" to "Hereward the Last of the English" was
a far cry, but he had gathered a curious collection of ideas by the
way, and with characteristic everyday reasoning had linked them to his
"The women in the Hereward book made me think of Lady Joan," he
"Torfreda? " the duke asked.
He nodded quite seriously.
"She had ways that reminded me of her, and I kept thinking they must
both have had the same look in their eyes--sort of fierce and hungry.
Torfreda had black hair and was a winner as to looks; but people were
afraid of her and called her a witch. Hereward went mad over her and
she went mad over him. That part of it was 'way out of sight, it was
so fine. She helped him with his fights and told him what to do, and
tried to keep him from drinking and bragging. Whatever he did, she
never stopped being crazy about him. She mended his men's clothes, and
took care of their wounds, and lived in the forest with him when he
was driven out."
"That sounds rather like Miss Hutchinson," his host suggested, "though
the parallel between a Harlem flat and an English forest in the
eleventh century is not exact."
"I thought that, too," Tembarom admitted. "Ann would have done the
same things, but she'd have done them in her way. If that fellow had
taken his wife's advice, he wouldn't have ended with his head sticking
on a spear."
"Another lady, if I remember rightly," said the duke.
"He left her, the fool! " Tembarom answered. "And there's where I
couldn't get away from seeing Lady Joan; Jem Temple Barholm didn't go
off with another woman, but what Torfreda went through, this one has
gone through, and she's going through it yet. She can't dress herself
in sackcloth, and cut off her hair, and hide herself away with a bunch
of nuns, as the other one did. She has to stay and stick it out,
however bad it is. That's a darned sight worse. The day after I'd
finished the book, I couldn't keep my eyes off her. I tried to stop
it, but it was no use. I kept hearing that Torfreda one screaming out,
`Lost! Lost! Lost!' It was all in her face."
"But, my good fellow," protested the duke, despite feeling a touch of
the thrill again, "unfortunately, she would not suspect you of looking
at her because you were recalling Torfreda and Hereward the Wake. Men
stare at her for another reason."
"That's what I know about half as well again as I know anything else,"
answered Tembarom. He added, with a deliberation holding its own
meaning, "That's what I'm coming to."
The duke waited. What was it he was coming to?
"Reading that novel put me wise to things in a new way. She's been
wiping her feet on me hard for a good while, and I sort of made up my
mind I'd got to let her until I was sure where I was. I won't say I
didn't mind it, but I could stand it. But that night she caught me
looking at her, the way she looked back at me made me see all of a
sudden that it would be easier for her if I told her straight that she
"That she is mistaken in thinking--?"
"What she does think. She wouldn't have thought it if the old lady
hadn't been driving her mad by hammering it in. She'd have hated me
all right, and I don't blame her when I think of how poor Jem was
treated; but she wouldn't have thought that every time I tried to be
decent and friendly to her I was butting in and making a sick fool of
myself. She's got to stay where her mother keeps her, and she's got to
listen to her. Oh, hell! She's got to be told!"
The duke set the tips of his fingers together.
"How would you do it?" he inquired.
"Just straight," replied T. Tembarom. "There's no other way."
From the old worldling broke forth an involuntary low laugh, which was
a sort of cackle. So this was what he was coming to.
"I cannot think of any devious method," he said, "which would make it
less than a delicate thing to do. A beautiful young woman, whose host
you are, has flouted you furiously for weeks, under the impression
that you are offensively in love with her. You propose to tell her
that her judgment has betrayed her, and that, as you say, `There's
"Not a darned thing, and never has been," said T. Tembarom. He looked
quite grave and not at all embarrassed. He plainly did not see it as a
situation to be regarded with humor.
"If she will listen--" the duke began.
"Oh, she'll listen," put in Tembarom. "I'll make her."
His was a self-contradicting countenance, the duke reflected, as he
took him in with a somewhat long look. One did not usually see a face
built up of boyishness and maturity, simpleness which was baffling,
and a good nature which could be hard. At the moment, it was both of
these last at one and the same time.
"I know something of Lady Joan and I know something of you," he said,
"but I don't exactly foresee what will happen. I will not say that I
should not like to be present."
"There'll be nobody present but just me and her," Tembarom answered.
The visits of Lady Mallowe and Captain Palliser had had their
features. Neither of the pair had come to one of the most imposing
"places" in Lancashire to live a life of hermit-like seclusion and
dullness. They had arrived with the intention of availing themselves
of all such opportunities for entertainment as could be guided in
their direction by the deftness of experience. As a result, there had
been hospitalities at Temple Barholm such as it had not beheld during
the last generation at least. T. Tembarom had looked on, an interested
spectator, as these festivities had been adroitly arranged and managed
for him. He had not, however, in the least resented acting as a sort
of figurehead in the position of sponsor and host.
"They think I don't know I'm not doing it all myself," was his easy
mental summing-up. "They've got the idea that I'm pleased because I
believe I'm It. But that's all to the merry. It's what I've set my
mind on having going on here, and I couldn't have started it as well
myself. I shouldn't have known how. They're teaching me. All I hope is
that Ann's grandmother is keeping tab."
"Do you and Rose know old Mrs. Hutchinson?" he had inquired of Pearson
the night before the talk with the duke.
"Well, not to say exactly know her, sir, but everybody knows of her.
She is a most remarkable old person, sir." Then, after watching his
face for a moment or so, he added tentatively, "Would you perhaps wish
us to make her acquaintance for-- for any reason?"
Tembarom thought the matter over speculatively. He had learned that
his first liking for Pearson had been founded upon a rock. He was
always to be trusted to understand, and also to apply a quite unusual
intelligence to such matters as he became aware of without having been
told about them.
"What I'd like would be for her to hear that there's plenty doing at
Temple Barholm; that people are coming and going all the time; and
that there's ladies to burn--and most of them lookers, at that," was
How Pearson had discovered the exotic subtleties of his master's
situation and mental attitude toward it, only those of his class and
gifted with his occult powers could explain in detail. The fact exists
that Pearson did know an immense number of things his employer had not
mentioned to him, and held them locked in his bosom in honored
security, like a little gentleman. He made his reply with a polite
conviction which carried weight.
"It would not be necessary for either Rose or me to make old Mrs.
Hutchinson's acquaintance with a view to informing her of anything
which occurs on the estate or in the village, sir," he remarked. "Mrs.
Hutchinson knows more of things than any one ever tells her. She sits
in her cottage there, and she just knows things and sees through
people in a way that'd be almost unearthly, if she wasn't a good old
person, and so respectable that there's those that touches their hats
to her as if she belonged to the gentry. She's got a blue eye, sir--"
"Has she?" exclaimed Tembarom.
"Yes, sir. As blue as a baby's, sir, and as clear, though she's past
eighty. And they tell me there's a quiet, steady look in it that ill-
doers downright quail before. It's as if she was a kind of judge that
sentenced them without speaking. They can't stand it. Oh, sir! you can
depend upon old Mrs. Hutchinson as to who's been here, and even what
they've thought about it. The village just flocks to her to tell her
the news and get advice about things. She'd know."
It was as a result of this that on his return from Stone Hover he
dismissed the carriage at the gates and walked through them to make a
visit in the village. Old Mrs. Hutchinson, sitting knitting in her
chair behind the abnormally flourishing fuchsias, geraniums, and
campanula carpaticas in her cottage-window, looked between the banked-
up flower-pots to see that Mr. Temple Barholm had opened her wicket-
gate and was walking up the clean bricked path to her front door. When
he knocked she called out in the broad Lancashire she had always
spoken, "Coom in!" When he entered he took off his hat and looked at
her, friendly but hesitant, and with the expression of a young man who
has not quite made up his mind as to what he is about to encounter.
"I'm Temple Temple Barholm, Mrs. Hutchinson," he announced.
"I know that," she answered. "Not that tha looks loike th' Temple
Barholms, but I've been watchin' thee walk an' drive past here ever
since tha coom to th' place."
She watched him steadily with an astonishingly limpid pair of old
eyes. They were old and young at the same time; old because they held
deeps of wisdom, young because they were so alive and full of
"I don't know whether I ought to have come to see you or not," he
"Well, tha'st coom," she replied, going on with her knitting. "Sit
thee doun and have a bit of a chat."
"Say!" he broke out. "Ain't you going to shake hands with me?" He held
his hand out impetuously. He knew he was all right if she'd shake
"Theer's nowt agen that surely," she answered, with a shrewd bit of a
smile. She gave him her hand. "If I was na stiff in my legs, it's my
place to get up an' mak' thee a curtsey, but th' rheumatics has no
respect even for th' lord o' th' manor."
"If you got up and made me a curtsey," Tembarom said, "I should throw
a fit. Say, Mrs. Hutchinson, I bet you know that as well as I do."
The shrewd bit of a smile lighted her eyes as well as twinkled about
"Sit thee doun," she said again.
So he sat down and looked at her as straight as she looked at him.
"Tha 'd give a good bit," she said presently, over her flashing
needles, "to know how much Little Ann's tow'd me about thee."
"I'd give a lot to know how much it'd be square to ask you to tell me
about her," he gave back to her, hesitating yet eager.
"What does tha mean by square?" she demanded.
"I mean `fair.' Can I talk to you about her at all? I promised I'd
stick it out here and do as she said. She told me she wasn't going to
write to me or let her father write. I've promised, and I'm not going
to fall down when I've said a thing."
"So tha coom to see her grandmother?"
He reddened, but held his head up.
"I'm not going to ask her grandmother a thing she doesn't want me to
be told. But I've been up against it pretty hard lately. I read some
things in the New York papers about her father and his invention, and
about her traveling round with him and helping him with his business."
"In Germany they wur," she put in, forgetting herself. "They're havin'
big doin's over th' invention. What Joe 'u'd do wi'out th' lass I
canna tell. She's doin' every bit o' th' managin' an' contrivin' wi'
them furriners--but he'll never know it. She's got a chap to travel
wi' him as can talk aw th' languages under th' sun."
Her face flushed and she stopped herself sharply.
"I'm talkin' about her to thee!" she said. "I would na ha' believed o'
He got up from his chair.
"I guess I oughtn't to have come," he said, restlessly. "But you
haven't told me more than I got here and there in the papers. That was
what started me. It was like watching her. I could hear her talking
and see the way she was doing things till it drove me half crazy. All
of a sudden, I just got wild and made up my mind I'd come here. I've
wanted to do it many a time, but I've kept away."
"Tha showed sense i' doin' that," remarked Mrs. Hutchinson. "She'd not
ha' thowt well o' thee if tha'd coom runnin' to her grandmother every
day or so. What she likes about thee is as she thinks tha's got a
strong backbone o' thy own."
She looked up at him over her knitting, looked straight into his eyes,
and there was that in her own which made him redden and feel his pulse
quicken. It was actually something which even remotely suggested that
she was not--in the deeps of her strong old mind--as wholly unswerving
as her words might imply. It was something more subtle than words. She
was not keeping him wholly in the dark when she said "What she likes
about thee." If Ann said things like that to her, he was pretty well
"Happen a look at a lass's grandmother--when tha conna get at th' lass
hersen--is a bit o' comfort," she added. "But don't tha go walkin' by
here to look in at th' window too often. She would na think well o'
"Say! There's one thing I'm going to get off my chest before I go," he
announced, "just one thing. She can go where she likes and do what she
likes, but I'm going to marry her when she's done it--unless something
knocks me on the head and finishes me. I'm going to marry her."
"Tha art, art tha?" laconically; but her eyes were still on his, and
the something in their depths by no means diminished.
"I'm keeping up my end here, and it's no slouch of a job, but I'm not
forgetting what she promised for one minute! And I'm not forgetting
what her promise means," he said obstinately.
"Tha'd like me to tell her that?" she said.
"If she doesn't know it, you telling her wouldn't cut any ice," was
his reply. "I'm saying it because I want you to know it, and because
it does me good to say it out loud. I'm going to marry her."
"That's for her and thee to settle," she commented, impersonally.
"It is settled," he answered. "There 's no way out of it. Will you
shake hands with me again before I go?"
"Aye," she consented, "I will."
When she took his hand she held it a minute. Her own was warm, and
there was no limpness about it. The secret which had seemed to conceal
itself behind her eyes had some difficulty in keeping itself wholly in
"She knows aw tha' does," she said coolly, as if she were not suddenly
revealing immensities. "She knows who cooms an' who goes, an' what
they think o' thee, an' how tha gets on wi' 'em. Now get thee gone,
lad, an' dunnot tha coom back till her or me sends for thee."
Within an hour of this time the afternoon post brought to Lady Mallowe
a letter which she read with an expression in which her daughter
recognized relief. It was in fact a letter for which she had waited
with anxiety, and the invitation it contained was a tribute to her
social skill at its highest watermark. In her less heroic moments, she
had felt doubts of receiving it, which had caused shudders to run the
entire length of her spine.
"I'm going to Broome Haughton," she announced to Joan.
"When?" Joan inquired.
"At the end of the week. I am invited for a fortnight."
"Am I going?" Joan asked.
"No. You will go to London to meet some friends who are coming over
Joan knew that comment was unnecessary. Both she and her mother were
on intimate terms with these hypothetical friends who so frequently
turned up from Paris or elsewhere when it was necessary that she
should suddenly go back to London and live in squalid seclusion in the
unopened house, with a charwoman to provide her with underdone or
burnt chops, and eggs at eighteen a shilling, while the shutters of
the front rooms were closed, and dusty desolation reigned. She knew
every detail of the melancholy squalor of it, the dragging hours, the
nights of lying awake listening to the occasional passing of belated
cabs, or the squeaks and nibbling of mice in the old walls.
"If you had conducted yourself sensibly you need not have gone,"
continued her mother. "I could have made an excuse and left you here.
You would at least have been sure of good food and decent comforts."
"After your visit, are we to return here?" was Lady Joan's sole reply.
"Don't look at me like that," said Lady Mallowe. "I thought the
country would freshen your color at least; but you are going off more
every day. You look like the Witch of Endor sometimes."
Joan smiled faintly. This was the brandishing of an old weapon, and
she understood all its significance. It meant that the time for
opportunities was slipping past her like the waters of a rapid river.
"I do not know what will happen when I leave Broome Haughton," her
mother added, a note of rasped uncertainty in her voice. "We may be
obliged to come here for a short time, or we may go abroad."
"If I refuse to come, would you let me starve to death in Piers
Street?" Joan inquired.
Lady Mallowe looked her over, feeling a sort of frenzy at the sight of
her. In truth, the future was a hideous thing to contemplate if no
rescue at all was in sight. It would be worse for her than for Joan,
because Joan did not care what happened or did not happen, and she
cared desperately. She had indeed arrived at a maddening moment.
"Yes," she snapped, fiercely.
And when Joan faintly smiled again she understood why women of the
lower orders beat one another until policemen interfere. She knew
perfectly well that the girl had somehow found out that Sir Moses
Monaldini was to be at Broome Haughton, and that when he left there he
was going abroad. She knew also that she had not been able to conceal
that his indifference had of late given her some ghastly hours, and
that her play for this lagging invitation had been a frantically bold
one. That the most ingenious efforts and devices had ended in success
only after such delay made it all the more necessary that no straw
must remain unseized on.
"I can wear some of your things, with a little alteration," she said.
"Rose will do it for me. Hats and gloves and ornaments do not require
altering. I shall need things you will not need in London. Where are
Lady Joan rose and got them for her. She even flushed slightly. They
were often obliged to borrow each other's possessions, but for a
moment she felt herself moved by a sort of hard pity.
"We are like rats in a trap," she remarked. "I hope you will get out."
"If I do, you will be left inside. Get out yourself! Get out
yourself!" said Lady Mallowe in a fierce whisper.
Her regrets at the necessity of their leaving Temple Barholm were
expressed with fluent touchingness at the dinner-table. The visit had
been so delightful. Mr. Temple Barholm and Miss Alicia had been so
kind. The loveliness of the whole dear place had so embraced them that
they felt as if they were leaving a home instead of ending a
delightful visit. It was extraordinary what an effect the house had on
one. It was as if one had lived in it always--and always would. So few
places gave one the same feeling. They should both look forward--
greedy as it seemed--to being allowed some time to come again. She had
decided from the first that it was not necessary to go to any extreme
of caution or subtlety with her host and Miss Alicia. Her method of
paving the way for future visits was perhaps more than a shade too
elaborate. She felt, however, that it sufficed. For the most part,
Lady Joan sat with lids dropped over her burning eyes. She tried to
force herself not to listen. This was the kind of thing which made her
sick with humiliation. Howsoever rudimentary these people were, they
could not fail to comprehend that a foothold in the house was being
bid for. They should at least see that she did not join in the
bidding. Her own visit had been filled with feelings at war with one
another. There had been hours too many in which she would have been
glad--even with the dingy horrors of the closed town house before her-
-to have flown from the hundred things which called out to her on
every side. In the long-past three months of happiness, Jem had
described them all to her--the rooms, gardens, pleached walks,
pictures, the very furniture itself. She could enter no room, walk in
no spot she did not seem to know, and passionately love in spite of
herself. She loved them so much that there were times when she yearned
to stay in the place at any cost, and others when she could not endure
the misery it woke in her-- the pure misery. Now it was over for the
time being, and she was facing something new. There were endless
varieties of wretchedness. She had been watching her mother for some
months, and had understood her varying moods of temporary elation or
prolonged anxiety. Each one had meant some phase of the episode of Sir
Moses Monaldini. The people who lived at Broome Haughton were
enormously rich Hebrews, who were related to him. They had taken the
beautiful old country-seat and were filling it with huge parties of
their friends. The party which Lady Mallowe was to join would no doubt
offer opportunities of the most desirable kind. Among this special
class of people she was a great success. Her amazingly achieved
toilettes, her ripe good looks, her air of belonging to the great
world, impressed themselves immensely.
T. Tembarom thought he never had seen Lady Joan look as handsome as
she looked to-night. The color on her cheek burned, her eyes had a
driven loneliness in them. She had a wonderfully beautiful mouth, and
its curve drooped in a new way. He wished Ann could get her in a
corner and sit down and talk sense to her. He remembered what he had
said to the duke. Perhaps this was the time. If she was going away,
and her mother meant to drag her back again when she was ready, it
would make it easier for her to leave the place knowing she need not
hate to come back. But the duke wasn't making any miss hit when he
said it wouldn't be easy. She was not like Ann, who would feel some
pity for the biggest fool on earth if she had to throw him down hard.
Lady Joan would feel neither compunctions nor relentings. He knew the
way she could look at a fellow. If he couldn't make her understand
what he was aiming at, they would both be worse off than they would be
if he left things as they were. But--the hard line showed itself about
his mouth--he wasn't going to leave things as they were.
As they passed through the hall after dinner, Lady Mallowe glanced at
a side-table on which lay some letters arrived by the late post. An
imposing envelope was on the top of the rest. Joan saw her face light
as she took it up.
"I think this is from Broome Haughton," she said. "If you will excuse
me, I will go into the library and read it. It may require answering
She turned hot and cold, poor woman, and went away, so that she might
be free from the disaster of an audience if anything had gone wrong.
It would be better to be alone even if things had gone right. The
letter was from Sir Moses Monaldini. Grotesque and ignoble as it
naturally strikes the uninitiated as seeming, the situation had its
touch of hideous pathos. She had fought for her own hand for years;
she could not dig, and to beg she was not ashamed; but a time had come
when even the most adroit begging began to bore people. They saw
through it, and then there resulted strained relations, slight
stiffness of manner, even in the most useful and amiable persons, lack
of desire to be hospitable, or even condescendingly generous. Cold
shoulders were turned, there were ominous threatenings of icy backs
presenting themselves. The very tradesmen had found this out, and
could not be persuaded that the advertisement furnished by the fact
that two beautiful women of fashion ate, drank, and wore the articles
which formed the items in their unpaid bills, was sufficient return
for the outlay of capital required. Even Mrs. Mellish, when graciously
approached by the "relative of Miss Temple Barholm, whose perfect
wardrobe you supplied," had listened to all seductions with a civil
eye fixed unmovedly and had referred to the "rules of the
establishment." Nearer and nearer the edge of the abyss the years had
pushed them, and now if something did not happen--something--
something--even the increasingly shabby small house in town would
become a thing of the past. And what then? Could any one wonder she
said to herself that she could have beaten Joan furiously. It would
not matter to any one else if they dropped out of the world into
squalid oblivion--oh, she knew that--she knew that with bitter
certainty!--but oh, how it would matter to them!--at least to herself.
It was all very well for Mudie's to pour forth streams of sentimental
novels preaching the horrors of girls marrying for money, but what
were you to do--what in heaven's name were you to do? So, feeling
terrified enough actually to offer up a prayer, she took the
imposingly addressed letter into the library.
The men had come into the drawing-room when she returned. As she
entered, Joan did not glance up from the book she was reading, but at
the first sound of her voice she knew what had occurred.
"I was obliged to dash off a note to Broome Haughton so that it would
be ready for the early post," Lady Mallowe said. She was at her best.
Palliser saw that some years had slipped from her shoulders. The
moment which relieves or even promises to relieve fears does
astonishing things. Tembarom wondered whether she had had good news,
and Miss Alicia thought that her evening dress was more becoming than
any she had ever seen her wear before. Her brilliant air of social
ease returned to her, and she began to talk fluently of what was being
done in London, and to touch lightly upon the possibility of taking
part in great functions. For some time she had rather evaded talk of
the future. Palliser had known that the future had seemed to be
closing in upon her, and leaving her staring at a high blank wall.
Persons whose fortunate names had ceased to fall easily from her lips
appeared again upon the horizon. Miss Alicia was impressed anew with
the feeling that she had known every brilliant or important personage
in the big world of social London; that she had taken part in every
dazzling event. Tembarom somehow realized that she had been afraid of
something or other, and was for some reason not afraid any more. Such
a change, whatsoever the reason for it, ought to have had some effect
on her daughter. Surely she would share her luck, if luck had come to
But Lady Joan sat apart and kept her eyes upon her book. This was one
of the things she often chose to do, in spite of her mother's
"I came here because you brought me," she would answer. "I did not
come to be entertaining or polite."
She was reading this evening. She heard every word of Lady Mallowe's
agreeable and slightly excited conversation. She did not know exactly
what had happened; but she knew that it was something which had buoyed
her up with a hopefulness which exhilarated her almost too much--as an
extra glass of wine might have done. Once or twice she even lost her
head a little and was a trifle swaggering. T. Tembarom would not
recognize the slip, but Joan saw Palliser's faint smile without
looking up from her book. He observed shades in taste and bearing.
Before her own future Joan saw the blank wall of stone building itself
higher and higher. If Sir Moses had capitulated, she would be counted
out. With what degree of boldness could a mother cast her penniless
daughter on the world? What unendurable provision make for her? Dare
they offer a pound a week and send her to live in the slums until she
chose to marry some Hebrew friend of her step-father's? That she knew
would be the final alternative. A cruel little smile touched her lips,
as she reviewed the number of things she could not do to earn her
living. She could not take in sewing or washing, and there was nothing
she could teach. Starvation or marriage. The wall built itself higher
and yet higher. What a hideous thing it was for a penniless girl to be
brought up merely to be a beauty, and in consequence supposably a
great lady. And yet if she was born to a certain rank and had height
and figure, a lovely mouth, a delicate nose, unusual eyes and lashes,
to train her to be a dressmaker or a housemaid would be a stupid
investment of capital. If nothing tragic interfered and the right man
wanted such a girl, she had been trained to please him. But tragic
things had happened, and before her grew the wall while she pretended
to read her book.
T. Tembarom was coming toward her. She had heard Palliser suggest a
game of billiards.
"Will you come and play billiards with us?" Tembarom asked. "Palliser
says you play splendidly."
"She plays brilliantly," put in Lady Mallowe. "Come, Joan."
"No, thank you," she answered. "Let me stay here and read."
Lady Mallowe protested. She tried an air of playful maternal
reproach because she was in good spirits. Joan saw Palliser
smiling quietly, and there was that in his smile which suggested
to her that he was thinking her an obstinate fool.
"You had better show Temple Barholm what you can do," he remarked.
"This will be your last chance, as you leave so soon. You ought never
let a last chance slip by. I never do."
Tembarom stood still and looked down at her from his good height. He
did not know what Palliser's speech meant, but an instinct made him
feel that it somehow held an ugly, quiet taunt.
"What I would like to do," was the unspoken crudity which passed
through his mind, "would be to swat him on the mouth. He's getting at
her just when she ought to be let alone."
"Would you like it better to stay here and read?" he inquired.
"Much better, if you please," was her reply.
"Then that goes," he answered, and left her.
He swept the others out of the room with a good-natured promptness
which put an end to argument. When he said of anything "Then that
goes," it usually did so.
When she was alone Joan sat and gazed not at her wall but at the
pictures that came back to her out of a part of her life which seemed
to have been lived centuries ago. They were the pictures that came
back continually without being called, the clearness of which always
startled her afresh. Sometimes she thought they sprang up to add to
her torment, but sometimes it seemed as if they came to save her from
herself--her mad, wicked self. After all, there were moments when to
know that she had been the girl whose eighteen-year-old heart had
leaped so when she turned and met Jem's eyes, as he stood gazing at
her under the beech-tree, was something to cling to. She had been that
girl and Jem had been--Jem. And she had been the girl who had joined
him in that young, ardent vow that they would say the same prayers at
the same hour each night together. Ah! how young it had been--how
YOUNG! Her throat strained itself because sobs rose in it, and her
eyes were hot with the swell of tears.
She could hear voices and laughter and the click of balls from the
billiard-room. Her mother and Palliser laughed the most, but she knew
the sound of her mother's voice would cease soon, because she would
come back to her. She knew she would not leave her long, and she knew
the kind of scene they would pass through together when she returned.
The old things would be said, the old arguments used, but a new one
would be added. It was a pleasant thing to wait here, knowing that it
was coming, and that for all her fierce pride and fierce spirit she
had no defense. It was at once horrible and ridiculous that she must
sit and listen--and stare at the growing wall. It was as she caught
her breath against the choking swell of tears that she heard Lady
Mallowe returning. She came in with an actual sweep across the room.
Her society air had fled, and she was unadornedly furious when she
stopped before Joan's chair. For a few seconds she actually glared;
then she broke forth in a suppressed undertone:
"Come into the billiard-room. I command it!"
Joan lifted her eyes from her book. Her voice was as low as her
mother's, but steadier.
"No," she answered.
"Is this conduct to continue? Is it?" Lady Mallowe panted.
"Yes," said Joan, and laid her book on the table near her. There was
nothing else to say. Words made things worse.
Lady Mallowe had lost her head, but she still spoke in the suppressed
"You SHALL behave yourself!" she cried, under her breath, and actually
made a passionate half-start toward her. "You violent-natured virago!
The very look on your face is enough to drive one mad!"
"I know I am violent-natured," said Joan. "But don't you think it wise
to remember that you cannot make the kind of scene here that you can
in your own house? We are a bad-tempered pair, and we behave rather
like fishwives when we are in a rage. But when we are guests in other
Lady Mallowe's temper was as elemental as any Billingsgate could
"You think you can take advantage of that!" she said. "Don't trust
yourself too far. Do you imagine that just when all might go well for
me I will allow you to spoil everything?"
"How can I spoil everything?"
"By behaving as you have been behaving since we came here--refusing to
make a home for yourself; by hanging round my neck so that it will
appear that any one who takes me must take you also."
"There are servants outside," Joan warned her.
"You shall not stop me!" cried Lady Mallowe.
"You cannot stop yourself," said Joan. "That is the worst of it. It is
bad enough when we stand and hiss at each other in a stage whisper;
but when you lose control over yourself and raise your voice--"
"I came in here to tell you that this is your last chance. I shall
never give you another. Do you know how old you are?"
"I shall soon be twenty-seven," Joan answered. "I wish I were a
hundred. Then it would all be over."
"But it will not be over for years and years and years," her mother
flung back at her. "Have you forgotten that the very rags you wear are
not paid for?"
"No, I have not forgotten." The scene was working itself up on the old
lines, as Joan had known it would. Her mother never failed to say the
same things, every time such a scene took place.
"You will get no more such rags--paid or unpaid for. What do you
expect to do? You don't know how to work, and if you did no decent
woman would employ you. You are too good-looking and too bad-
Joan knew she was perfectly right. Knowing it, she remained silent,
and her silence added to her mother's helpless rage. She moved a step
nearer to her and flung the javelin which she always knew would strike
"You have made yourself a laughing-stock for all London for years. You
are mad about a man who disgraced and ruined himself."
She saw the javelin quiver as it struck; but Joan's voice as it
answered her had a quality of low and deadly steadiness.
"You have said that a thousand times, and you will say it another
thousand--though you know the story was a lie and was proved to be
Lady Mallowe knew her way thoroughly.
"Who remembers the denials? What the world remembers is that Jem
Temple Barholm was stamped as a cheat and a trickster. No one has time
to remember the other thing. He is dead--dead! When a man's dead it's
She was desperate enough to drive her javelin home deeper than she had
ever chanced to drive it before. The truth--the awful truth she
uttered shook Joan from head to foot. She sprang up and stood before
her in heart-wrung fury.
"Oh! You are a hideously cruel woman!" she cried. "They say even
tigers care for their young! But you--you can say that to _me_. 'When
a man's dead, it's too late.'"
"It _is_ too late--it IS too late!" Lady Mallowe persisted. Why had
not she struck this note before? It was breaking her will: "I would
say anything to bring you to your senses."
Joan began to move restlessly to and fro.
"Oh, what a fool I am!" she exclaimed. "As if you could understand--as
if you could care!"
Struggle as she might to be defiant, she was breaking, Lady Mallowe
repeated to herself. She followed her as a hunter might have followed
a young leopardess with a wound in its flank.
"I came here because it _is_ your last chance. Palliser knew what he
was saying when he made a joke of it just now. He knew it wasn't a
joke. You might have been the Duchess of Merthshire; you might have
been Lady St. Maur, with a husband with millions. And here you are.
You know what's before you--when I am out of the trap."
Joan laughed. It was a wild little laugh, and she felt there was no
sense in it.
"I might apply for a place in Miss Alicia's Home for Decayed
Gentlewomen," she said.
Lady Mallowe nodded her head fiercely.
"Apply, then. There will be no place for you in the home I am going to
live in," she retorted.
Joan ceased moving about. She was about to hear the one argument that
"You may as well tell me," she said, wearily.
"I have had a letter from Sir Moses Monaldini. He is to be at Broome
Haughton. He is going there purposely to meet me. What he writes can
mean only one thing. He means to ask me to marry him. I'm your mother,
and I'm nearly twenty years older than you; but you see that I'm out
of the trap first."
"I knew you would be," answered Joan.
"He detests you," Lady Mallowe went on. "He will not hear of your
living with us--or even near us. He says you are old enough to take
care of yourself. Take my advice. I am doing you a good turn in giving
it. This New York newsboy is mad over you. If he hadn't been we should
have been bundled out of the house before this. He never has spoken to
a lady before in his life, and he feels as if you were a goddess. Go
into the billiard-room this instant, and do all a woman can. Go!" And
she actually stamped her foot on the carpet.
Joan's thunder-colored eyes seemed to grow larger as she stared at
her. Her breast lifted itself, and her face slowly turned pale.
Perhaps--she thought it wildly--people sometimes did die of feelings
"He would crawl at your feet," her mother went on, pursuing what she
felt sure was her advantage. She was so sure of it that she added
words only a fool or a woman half hysteric with rage would have added.
"You might live in the very house you would have lived in with Jem
Temple Barholm, on the income he could have given you."
She saw the crassness of her blunder the next moment. If she had had
an advantage, she had lost it. Wickedly, without a touch of mirth,
Joan laughed in her face.
"Jem's house and Jem's money--and the New York newsboy in his shoes,"
she flung at her. "T. Tembarom to live with until one lay down on
one's deathbed. T. Tembarom!"
Suddenly, something was giving way in her, Lady Mallowe thought again.
Joan slipped into a chair and dropped her head and hidden face on the
"Oh! Mother! Mother!" she ended. "Oh! Jem! Jem!"
Was she sobbing or trying to choke sobbing back? There was no time to
be lost. Her mother had never known a scene to end in this way before.
"Crying!" there was absolute spite in her voice. "That shows you know
what you are in for, at all events. But I've said my last word. What
does it matter to me, after all? You're in the trap. I'm not. Get out
as best you can. I've done with you."
She turned her back and went out of the room--as she had come into it-
-with a sweep Joan would have smiled at as rather vulgar if she had
seen it. As a child in the nursery, she had often seen that her
ladyship was vulgar.
But she did not see the sweep because her face was hidden. Something
in her had broken this time, as her mother had felt. That bitter,
sordid truth, driven home as it had been, had done it. Who had time to
remember denials, or lies proved to be lies? Nobody in the world. Who
had time to give to the defense of a dead man? There was not time
enough to give to living ones. It was true--true! When a man is dead,
it is too late. The wall had built itself until it reached her sky;
but it was not the wall she bent her head and sobbed over. It was that
suddenly she had seen again Jem's face as he had stood with slow-
growing pallor, and looked round at the ring of eyes which stared at
him; Jem's face as he strode by her without a glance and went out of
the room. She forgot everything else on earth. She forgot where she
was. She was eighteen again, and she sobbed in her arms as eighteen
sobs when its heart is torn from it.
"Oh Jem! Jem!" she cried. "If you were only in the same world with me!
If you were just in the same world!"
She had forgotten all else, indeed. She forgot too long. She did not
know how long. It seemed that no more than a few minutes had passed
before she was without warning struck with the shock of feeling that
some one was in the room with her, standing near her, looking at her.
She had been mad not to remember that exactly this thing would be sure
to happen, by some abominable chance. Her movement as she rose was
almost violent, she could not hold herself still, and her face was
horribly wet with shameless, unconcealable tears. Shameless she felt
them--indecent--a sort of nudity of the soul. If it had been a servant
who had intruded, or if it had been Palliser it would have been
intolerable enough. But it was T. Tembarom who confronted her with his
common face, moved mysteriously by some feeling she resented even more
than she resented his presence. He was too grossly ignorant to know
that a man of breeding, having entered by chance, would have turned
and gone away, professing not to have seen. He seemed to think--the
dolt!--that he must make some apology.
"Say! Lady Joan!" he began. "I beg your pardon. I didn't want to butt
"Then go away," she commanded. "Instantly--instantly!"
She knew he must see that she spoke almost through her teeth in her
effort to control her sobbing breath. But he made no move toward
leaving her. He even drew nearer, looking at her in a sort of
meditative, obstinate way.
"N-no," he replied, deliberately. "I guess--I won't."
"You won't?" Lady Joan repeated after him. "Then I will."
He made a stride forward and laid his hand on her arm.
"No. Not on your life. You won't, either--if I can help it. And you're
going to LET me help it."
Almost any one but herself--any one, at least, who did not resent his
very existence--would have felt the drop in his voice which suddenly
struck the note of boyish, friendly appeal in the last sentence.
"You're going to LET me," he repeated.
She stood looking down at the daring, unconscious hand on her arm.
"I suppose," she said, with cutting slowness, "that you do not even
_know_ that you are insolent. Take your hand away," in arrogant
He removed it with an unabashed half-smile.
"I beg your pardon," he said. "I didn't even know I'd put it there. It
was a break--but I wanted to keep you."
That he not only wanted to keep her, but intended to do so was
apparent. His air was neither rough nor brutal, but he had ingeniously
placed himself in the outlet between the big table and the way to the
door. He put his hands in his pockets in his vulgar, unconscious way,
and watched her.
"Say, Lady Joan!" he broke forth, in the frank outburst of a man who
wants to get something over. "I should be a fool if I didn't see that
you're up against it--hard! What's the matter?" His voice dropped
There was something in the drop this time which--perhaps because of
her recent emotion--sounded to her almost as if he were asking the
question with the protecting sympathy of the tone one would use in
speaking to a child. How dare he! But it came home to her that Jem had
once said "What's the matter?" to her in the same way.
"Do you think it likely that I should confide in you?" she said, and
inwardly quaked at the memory as she said it.
"No," he answered, considering the matter gravely. "It's not likely--
the way things look to you now. But if you knew me better perhaps it
would be likely."
"I once explained to you that I do not intend to know you better," she
He nodded acquiescently.
"Yes. I got on to that. And it's because it's up to me that I came out
here to tell you something I want you to know before you go away. I'm
going to confide in you."
"Cannot even you see that I am not in the mood to accept confidences?"
"Yes, I can. But you're going to accept this one," steadily. "No," as
she made a swift movement, "I'm not going to clear the way till I've
"I insist!" she cried. "If you were--"
He put out his hand, but not to touch her.
"I know what you're going to say. If I were a gentleman--Well, I'm not
laying claim to that--but I'm a sort of a man, anyhow, though you
mayn't think it. And you're going to listen."
She began to stare at him. It was not the ridiculous boyish drop in
his voice which arrested her attention. It was a fantastic,
incongruous, wholly different thing. He had suddenly dropped his
slouch and stood upright. Did he realize that he had slung his words
at her as if they were an order given with the ring of authority?
"I've not bucked against anything you've said or done since you've
been here," he went on, speaking fast and grimly. "I didn't mean to. I
had my reasons. There were things that I'd have given a good deal to
say to you and ask you about, but you wouldn't let me. You wouldn't
give me a chance to square things for you--if they could be squared.
You threw me down every time I tried!"
He was too wildly incomprehensible with his changes from humanness to
folly. Remembering what he had attempted to say on the day he had
followed her in the avenue, she was inflamed again.
"What in the name of New York slang does that mean?" she demanded.
"Never mind New York," he answered, cool as well as grim. "A fellow
that's learned slang in the streets has learned something else as
well. He's learned to keep his eyes open. He's on to a way of seeing
things. And what I've seen is that you're so doggone miserable that--
that you're almost down and out."
This time she spoke to him in the voice with the quality of deadliness
in it which she had used to her mother.
"Do you think that because you are in your own house you can be as
intrusively insulting as you choose?" she said.
"No, I don't," he answered. "What I think is quite different. I think
that if a man has a house of his own, and there's any one in big
trouble under the roof of it--a woman most of all--he's a cheap skate
if he don't get busy and try to help--just plain, straight help."
He saw in her eyes all her concentrated disdain of him, but he went
on, still obstinate and cool and grim.
"I guess 'help' is too big a word just yet. That may come later, and
it mayn't. What I'm going to try at now is making it easier for you--
Her contemptuous gesture registered no impression on him as he paused
a moment and looked fixedly at her.
"You just hate me, don't you?" It was a mere statement which couldn't
have been more impersonal to himself if he had been made of wood.
"That's all right. I seem like a low-down intruder to you. Well,
that's all right, too. But what ain't all right is what your mother
has set you on to thinking about me. You'd never have thought it
yourself. You'd have known better."
"What," fiercely, "is that?"
"That I'm mutt enough to have a mash on you."
The common slangy crassness of it was a kind of shock. She caught her
breath and merely stared at him. But he was not staring at her; he was
simply looking straight into her face, and it amazingly flashed upon
her that the extraordinary words were so entirely unembarrassed and
direct that they were actually not offensive.
He was merely telling her something in his own way, not caring the
least about his own effect, but absolutely determined that she should
hear and understand it.
Her caught breath ended in something which was like a half-laugh. His
queer, sharp, incomprehensible face, his queer, unmoved voice were too
extraordinarily unlike anything she had ever seen or heard before.
"I don't want to be brash--and what I want to say may seem kind of
that way to you. But it ain't. Anyhow, I guess it'll relieve your
mind. Lady Joan, you're a looker--you're a beaut from Beautville. If I
were your kind, and things were different, I'd be crazy about you--
crazy! But I'm not your kind--and things are different." He drew a
step nearer still to her in his intentness. "They're this different.
Why, Lady Joan! I'm dead stuck on another girl!"
She caught her breath again, leaning forward.
"She says she's not a lady; she threw me down just because all this
darned money came to me," he hastened on, and suddenly he was
imperturbable no longer, but flushed and boyish, and more of New York
than ever. "She's a little bit of a quiet thing and she drops her h's,
but gee--! You're a looker --you're a queen and she's not. But Little
Ann Hutchinson-- Why, Lady Joan, as far as this boy's concerned"--and
he oddly touched himself on the breast--"she makes you look like
Joan quickly sat down on the chair she had just left. She rested an
elbow on the table and shaded her face with her hand. She was not
laughing; she scarcely knew what she was doing or feeling.
"You are in love with Ann Hutchinson," she said, in a low voice.
"Am I?" he answered hotly. "Well, I should smile!" He disdained to say
Then she began to know what she felt. There came back to her in
flashes scenes from the past weeks in which she had done her worst by
him; in which she had swept him aside, loathed him, set her feet on
him, used the devices of an ingenious demon to discomfit and show him
at his poorest and least ready. And he had not been giving a thought
to the thing for which she had striven to punish him. And he plainly
did not even hate her. His mind was clear, as water is clear. He had
come back to her this evening to do her a good turn--a good turn.
Knowing what she was capable of in the way of arrogance and villainous
temper, he had determined to do her--in spite of herself--a good turn.
"I don't understand you," she faltered.
"I know you don't. But it's only because I'm so dead easy to
understand. There's nothing to find out. I'm just friendly --friendly-
"You would have been friends with me! " she exclaimed. "You would have
told me, and I wouldn't let you! Oh!" with an impulsive flinging out
of her hand to him, "you good --good fellow!"
"Good be darned! " he answered, taking the hand at once.
"You are good to tell me! I have behaved like a devil to you. But oh!
if you only knew!"
His face became mature again; but he took a most informal seat on the
edge of the table near her.
"I do know--part of it. That's why I've been trying to be friends with
you all the time." He said his next words deliberately. "If I was the
woman Jem Temple Barholm had loved wouldn't it have driven me mad to
see another man in his place--and remember what was done to him. I
never even saw him, but, good God! "--she saw his hand clench itself--
"when I think of it I want to kill somebody! I want to kill half a
dozen. Why didn't they know it couldn't be true of a fellow like that!"
She sat up stiffly and watched him.
"Do--you--feel like that--about him?"
"Do I!" red-hotly. "There were men there that knew him! There were
women there that knew him! Why wasn't there just one to stand by him?
A man that's been square all his life doesn't turn into a card-sharp
in a night. Damn fools! I beg your pardon," hastily. And then, as
hastily again: "No, I mean it. Damn fools!"
"Oh!" she gasped, just once.
Her passionate eyes were suddenly blinded with tears. She caught at
his clenched hand and dragged it to her, letting her face drop on it
and crying like a child.
The way he took her utter breaking down was just like him and like no
one else. He put the other hand on her shoulder and spoke to her
exactly as he had spoken to Miss Alicia on that first afternoon.
"Don't you mind me, Lady Joan," he said. "Don't you mind me a bit.
I'll turn my back. I'll go into the billiard- room and keep them
playing until you get away up-stairs. Now we understand each other,
it'll be better for both of us."
"No, don't go! Don't!" she begged. "It is so wonderful to find some
one who sees the cruelty of it." She spoke fast and passionately. "No
one would listen to any defense of him. My mother simply raved when I
said what you are saying."
"Do you want "--he put it to her with a curious comprehending of her
emotion--"to talk about him? Would it do you good?"
"Yes! Yes! I have never talked to any one. There has been no one to
"Talk all you want," he answered, with immense gentleness. "I'm here."
"I can't understand it even now, but he would not see me!" she broke
out. "I was half mad. I wrote, and he would not answer. I went to his
chambers when I heard he was going to leave England. I went to beg him
to take me with him, married or unmarried. I would have gone on my
knees to him. He was gone! Oh, why? Why?"
"You didn't think he'd gone because he didn't love you?" he put it to
her quite literally and unsentimentally. "You knew better than that?"
"How could I be sure of anything! When he left the room that awful
night he would not look at me! He would not look at me!"
"Since I've been here I've been reading a lot of novels, and I've
found out a lot of things about fellows that are not the common,
practical kind. Now, he wasn't. He'd lived pretty much like a fellow
in a novel, I guess. What's struck me about that sort is that they
think they have to make noble sacrifices, and they'll just walk all
over a woman because they won't do anything to hurt her. There's not a
bit of sense in it, but that was what he was doing. He believed he was
doing the square thing by you--and you may bet your life it hurt him
like hell. I beg your pardon--but that's the word--just plain hell."
"I was only a girl. He was like iron. He went away alone. He was
killed, and when he was dead the truth was told."
"That's what I've remembered "--quite slowly--"every time I've looked
at you. By gee! I'd have stood anything from a woman that had suffered
as much as that."
It made her cry--his genuineness--and she did not care in the least
that the tears streamed down her cheeks. How he had stood things! How
he had borne, in that odd, unimpressive way, insolence and arrogance
for which she ought to have been beaten and blackballed by decent
society! She could scarcely bear it.
"Oh! to think it should have been you," she wept, "just you who
"Well," he answered speculatively, "I mightn't have understood as well
if it hadn't been for Ann. By jings! I used to lie awake at night
sometimes thinking `supposing it bad been Ann and me!' I'd sort of
work it out as it might have happened in New York--at the office of
the Sunday Earth. Supposing some fellow that'd had a grouch against me
had managed it so that Galton thought I'd been getting away with money
that didn't belong to me--fixing up my expense account, or worse. And
Galton wouldn't listen to what I said, and fired me; and I couldn't
get a job anywhere else because I was down and out for good. And
nobody would listen. And I was killed without clearing myself. And
Little Ann was left to stand it--Little Ann! Old Hutchinson wouldn't
listen, I know that. And it would be all shut up burning in her big
little heart--burning. And T. T. dead, and not a word to say for
himself. Jehoshaphat!"--taking out his handkerchief and touching his
forehead--"it used to make the cold sweat start out on me. It's doing
it now. Ann and me might have been Jem and you. That's why I
He put out his hand and caught hers and frankly squeezed it--squeezed
it hard; and the unconventional clutch was a wonderful thing to her.
"It's all right now, ain't it?" he said. "We've got it straightened
out. You'll not be afraid to come back here if your mother wants you
to." He stopped for a moment and then went on with something of
hesitation: "We don't want to talk about your mother. We can't. But I
understand her, too. Folks are different from each other in their
ways. She's different from you. I'll--I'll straighten it out with her
if you like."
"Nothing will need straightening out after I tell her that you are
going to marry Little Ann Hutchinson," said Joan, with a half-smile.
"And that you were engaged to her before you saw me."
"Well, that does sort of finish things up, doesn't it?" said T.
He looked at her so speculatively for a moment after this that she
wondered whether he had something more to say. He had.
"There's something I want to ask you," he ventured.
"Do you know any one--just any one--who has a photo-- just any old
photo--of Jem Temple Barholm?"
She was rather puzzled.
"Yes. I know a woman who has worn one for nearly eight years. Do you
want to see it?"
"I'd give a good deal to," was his answer.
She took a flat locket from her dress and handed it to him.
"Women don't wear lockets in these days." He could barely hear her
voice because it was so low. "But I've never taken it off. I want him
near my heart. It's Jem!"
He held it on the palm of his hand and stood under the light, studying
it as if he wanted to be sure he wouldn't forget it.
"It's--sorter like that picture of Miles Hugo, ain't it?" he
"Yes. People always said so. That was why you found me in the picture-
gallery the first time we met."
"I knew that was the reason--and I knew I'd made a break when I butted
in," he answered. Then, still looking at the photograph, "You'd know
this face again most anywhere you saw it, I guess."
"There are no faces like it anywhere," said Joan.
"I guess that's so," he replied. "And it's one that wouldn't change
much either. Thank you, Lady Joan."
He handed back the picture, and she put out her hand again.
"I think I'll go to my room now," she said. "You've done a strange
thing to me. You've taken nearly all the hatred and bitterness out of
my heart. I shall want to come back here whether my mother comes or
not--I shall want to."
"The sooner the quicker," he said. "And so long as I'm here I'll be
ready and waiting."
"Don't go away," she said softly. "I shall need you."
"Isn't that great?" he cried, flushing delightedly. "Isn't it just
great that we've got things straightened so that you can say that.
Gee! This is a queer old world! There's such a lot to do in it, and so
few hours in the day. Seems like there ain't time to stop long enough
to hate anybody and keep a grouch on. A fellow's got to keep hustling
not to miss the things worth while."
The liking in her eyes was actually wistful.
"That's your way of thinking, isn't it?" she said. "Teach it to me if
you can. I wish you could. Good-night." She hesitated a second. "God
bless you!" she added, quite suddenly--almost fantastic as the words
sounded to her. That she, Joan Fayre, should be calling down devout
benisons on the head of T. Tembarom--T. Tembarom!
Her mother was in her room when she reached it. She had come up early
to look over her possessions--and Joan's--before she began her
packing. The bed, the chairs, and tables were spread with evening,
morning, and walking-dresses, and the millinery collected from their
combined wardrobes. She was examining anxiously a lace appliqued and
embroidered white coat, and turned a slightly flushed face toward the
"I am going over your things as well as my own," she said. "I shall
take what I can use. You will require nothing in London. You will
require nothing anywhere in future. What is the matter?" she said
sharply, as she saw her daughter's face.
Joan came forward feeling it a strange thing that she was not in the
mood to fight--to lash out and be glad to do it.
"Captain Palliser told me as I came up that Mr. Temple Barholm had
been talking to you," her mother went on. "He heard you having some
sort of scene as he passed the door. As you have made your decision,
of course I know I needn't hope that anything has happened."
"What has happened has nothing to do with my decision. He wasn't
waiting for that," Joan answered her. "We were both entirely mistaken,
"What are you talking about?" cried Lady Mallowe, but she temporarily
laid the white coat on a chair. "What do you mean by mistaken?"
"He doesn't want me--he never did," Joan answered again. A shadow of a
smile hovered over her face, and there was no derision in it, only a
warming recollection of his earnestness when he had said the words she
quoted: "He is what they call in New York `dead stuck on another
Lady Mallowe sat down on the chair that held the white coat, and she
did not push the coat aside.
"He told you that in his vulgar slang!" she gasped it out. "You--you
ought to have struck him dead with your answer."
"Except poor Jem Temple Barholm," was the amazing reply she received,
"he is the only friend I ever had in my life."
It was business of serious importance which was to bring Captain
Palliser's visit to a close. He explained it perfectly to Miss Alicia
a day or so after Lady Mallowe and her daughter left them. He had
lately been most amiable in his manner toward Miss Alicia, and had
given her much valuable information about companies and stocks. He
rather unexpectedly found it imperative that he should go to London
and Berlin to "see people"--dealers in great financial schemes who
were deeply interested in solid business speculations, such as his
own, which were fundamentally different from all others in the
impeccable firmness of their foundations.
"I suppose he will be very rich some day," Miss Alicia remarked the
first morning she and T. Tembarom took their breakfast alone together
after his departure. "It would frighten me to think of having as much
money as he seems likely to have quite soon."
"It would scare me to death," said Tembarom. She knew he was making a
sort of joke, but she thought the point of it was her tremor at the
thought of great fortune.
"He seemed to think that it would be an excellent thing for you to
invest in--I'm not sure whether it was the India Rubber Tree Company,
or the mahogany forests or the copper mines that have so much gold and
silver mixed in them that it will pay for the expense of the digging--
" she went on.
"I guess it was the whole lot," put in Tembarom.
"Perhaps it was. They are all going to make everybody so rich that it
is quite bewildering. He is very clever in business matters. And so
kind. He even said that if I really wished it he might be able to
invest my income for me and actually treble it in a year. But of
course I told him that my income was your generous gift to me, and
that it was far more than sufficient for my needs."
Tembarom put down his coffee-cup so suddenly to look at her that she
was fearful that she had appeared to do Captain Palliser some vague
"I am sure he meant to be most obliging, dear," she explained. "I was
really quite touched. He said most sympathetically and delicately that
when women were unmarried, and unaccustomed to investment, sometimes a
business man could be of use to them. He forgot"--affectionately--
"that I had you."
Tembarom regarded her with tender curiosity. She often opened up
vistas for him as he himself opened them for the Duke of Stone.
"If you hadn't had me, would you have let him treble your income in a
year?" he asked.
Her expression was that of a soft, woodland rabbit or a trusting
"Well, of course, if one were quite alone in the world and had only a
small income, it would be nice to have it wonderfully added to in such
a short time," she answered. "But it was his friendly solicitude which
touched me. I have not been accustomed to such interested delicacy on
the part of--of gentlemen." Her hesitance before the last word being
the result of training, which had made her feel that it was a little
bold for "ladies" to refer quite openly to "gentlemen."
"You sometimes read in the newspapers," said Tembarom, buttering his
toast, "about ladies who are all alone in the world with a little
income, but they're not often left alone with it long. It's like you
said--you've got me; but if the time ever comes when you haven't got
me just you make a dead-sure thing of it that you don't let any
solicitous business gentleman treble your income in a year. If it's an
income that comes to more than five cents, don't you hand it over to
be made into fifteen. Five cents is a heap better--just plain five."
"Temple!" gasped Miss Alicia. "You--you surely cannot mean that you do
not think Captain Palliser is--sincere!"
Tembarom laughed outright, his most hilarious and comforting laugh. He
had no intention of enlightening her in such a manner as would lead
her at once to behold pictures of him as the possible victim of
appalling catastrophes. He liked her too well as she was.
"Sincere?" he said. "He's sincere down to the ground --in what he's
reaching after. But he's not going to treble your income, nor mine. If
he ever makes that offer again, you just tell him I'm interested, and
that I'll talk it over with him."
"I could not help saying to him that I didn't think you could want any
more money when you had so much," she added, "but he said one never
knew what might happen. He was greatly interested when I told him you
had once said the very same thing yourself."
Their breakfast was at an end, and he got up, laughing again, as he
came to her end of the table and put his arm around her shoulders in
the unconventional young caress she adored him for.
"It's nice to be by ourselves again for a while," he said. "Let us go
for a walk together. Put on the little bonnet and dress that are the
color of a mouse. Those little duds just get me. You look so pretty in
The sixteen-year-old blush ran up to the roots of her gray side-
ringlets. Just imagine his remembering the color of her dress and
bonnet, and thinking that anything could make her look pretty! She was
overwhelmed with innocent and grateful confusion. There really was no
one else in the least like him.
"You do look well, ma'am," Rose said, when she helped her to dress.
"You've got such a nice color, and that tiny bit of old rose Mrs.
Mellish put in the bonnet does bring it out."
"I wonder if it is wrong of me to be so pleased," Miss Alicia thought.
"I must make it a subject of prayer, and ask to be aided to conquer a
haughty and vain-glorious spirit."
She was pathetically serious, having been trained to a view of the
Great First Cause as figuratively embodied in the image of a gigantic,
irascible, omnipotent old gentleman, especially wrought to fury by
feminine follies connected with becoming headgear.
"It has sometimes even seemed to me that our Heavenly Father has a
special objection to ladies," she had once timorously confessed to
Tembarom. "I suppose it is because we are so much weaker than men, and
so much more given to vanity and petty vices."
He had caught her in his arms and actually hugged her that time. Their
intimacy had reached the point where the affectionate outburst did not
"Say!" he had laughed. "It's not the men who are going to have the
biggest pull with the authorities when folks try to get into the place
where things are evened up. What I'm going to work my passage with is
a list of the few 'ladies' I've known. You and Ann will be at the head
of it. I shall just slide it in at the box-office window and say,
'Just look over this, will you? These were friends of mine, and they
were mighty good to me. I guess if they didn't turn me down, you
needn't. I know they're in here. Reserved seats. I'm not expecting to
be put with them but if I'm allowed to hang around where they are
that'll be heaven enough for me.'"
"I know you don't mean to be irreverent, dear Temple," she gasped. "I
am quite sure you don't! It is--it is only your American way of
expressing your kind thoughts. And of course"--quite hastily--"the
Almighty must understand Americans--as he made so many." And half
frightened though she was, she patted his arm with the warmth of
comfort in her soul and moisture in her eyes. Somehow or other, he was
always so comforting.
He held her arm as they took their walk. She had become used to that
also, and no longer thought it odd. It was only one of the ways he had
of making her feel that she was being taken care of. They had not been
able to have many walks together since the arrival of the visitors,
and this occasion was at once a cause of relief and inward rejoicing.
The entire truth was that she had not been altogether happy about him
of late. Sometimes, when he was not talking and saying amusing New
York things which made people laugh, he seemed almost to forget where
he was and to be thinking of something which baffled and tried him.
The way in which he pulled himself together when he realized that any
one was looking at him was, to her mind, the most disturbing feature
of his fits of abstraction. It suggested that if he really had a
trouble it was a private one on which he would not like her to
intrude. Naturally, her adoring eyes watched him oftener than he knew,
and she tried to find plausible and not too painful reasons for his
mood. He always made light of his unaccustomedness to his new life;
but perhaps it made him feel more unrestful than he would admit.
As they walked through the park and the village, her heart was greatly
warmed by the way in which each person they met greeted him. They
greeted no one else in the same way, and yet it was difficult to
explain what the difference was. They liked him-- really liked him,
though how he had overcome their natural distrust of his newsboy and
bootblack record no one but himself knew. In fact, she had reason to
believe that even he himself did not know--had indeed never asked
himself. They had gradually begun to like him, though none of them had
ever accused him of being a gentleman according to their own
acceptance of the word. Every man touched his cap or forehead with a
friendly grin which spread itself the instant he caught sight of him.
Grin and salute were synchronous. It was as if there were some
extremely human joke between them. Miss Alicia had delightedly
remembered a remark the Duke of Stone had made to her on his return
from one of their long drives.
"He is the most popular man in the county," he had chuckled. "If war
broke out and he were in the army, he could raise a regiment at his
own gates which would follow him wheresoever he chose to lead it--if
it were into hottest Hades."
Tembarom was rather silent during the first part of their walk, and
when he spoke it was of Captain Palliser.
"He's a fellow that's got lots of curiosity. I guess he's asked you
more questions than he's asked me," he began at last, and he looked at
her interestedly, though she was not aware of it.
"I thought--" she hesitated slightly because she did not wish to be
critical--"I sometimes thought he asked me too many."
"What was he trying to get on to mostly?"
"He asked so many things about you and your life in New York--but
more, I think, about you and Mr. Strangeways. He was really quite
persistent once or twice about poor Mr. Strangeways."
"What did he ask?"
"He asked if I had seen him, and if you had preferred that I should
not. He calls him your Mystery, and thinks your keeping him here is so
"I guess it is--the way he'd look at it," Tembarom dropped in.
"He was so anxious to find out what he looked like. He asked how old
he was and how tall, and whether he was quite mad or only a little,
and where you picked him up, and when, and what reason you gave for
not putting him in some respectable asylum. I could only say that I
really knew nothing about him, and that I hadn't seen him because he
had a dread of strangers and I was a little timid."
She hesitated again.
"I wonder," she said, still hesitating even after her pause, "I wonder
if I ought to mention a rather rude thing I saw him do twice?"
"Yes, you ought," Tembarom answered promptly; "I've a reason for
wanting to know."
"It was such a singular thing to do--in the circumstances," she went
on obediently. "He knew, as we all know, that Mr. Strangeways must not
be disturbed. One afternoon I saw him walk slowly backward and forward
before the west room window. He had something in his hand and kept
looking up. That was what first attracted my attention--his queer way
of looking up. Quite suddenly he threw something which rattled on the
panes of glass--it sounded like gravel or small pebbles. I couldn't
help believing he thought Mr. Strangeways would be startled into
coming to the window."
Tembarom cleared his throat.
"He did that twice," he said. "Pearson caught him at it, though
Palliser didn't know he did. He'd have done it three times, or more
than that, perhaps, but I casually mentioned in the smoking-room one
night that some curious fool of a gardener boy had thrown some stones
and frightened Strangeways, and that Pearson and I were watching for
him, and that if I caught him I was going to knock his block off--
bing! He didn't do it again. Darned fool! What does he think he's
"I am afraid he is rather--I hope it is not wrong to say so --but he
is rather given to gossip. And I dare say that the temptation to find
something quite new to talk about was a great one. So few new things
happen in the neighborhood, and, as the duke says, people are so
bored--and he is bored himself."
"He'll be more bored if he tries it again when he comes back,"
Miss Alicia's surprised expression made him laugh.
"Do you think he will come back?" she exclaimed. "After such a long
"Oh, yes, he'll come back. He'll come back as often as he can until
he's got a chunk of my income to treble--or until I've done with him."
"Until you've done with him, dear?" inquiringly.
"Oh! well,"--casually--"I've a sort of idea that he may tell me
something I'd like to know. I'm not sure; I'm only guessing. But even
if he knows it he won't tell me until he gets good and ready and
thinks I don't want to hear it. What he thinks he's going to get at by
prowling around is something he can get me in the crack of the door
"Temple"--imploringly--"are you afraid he wishes to do you an injury?"
"No, I'm not afraid. I'm just waiting to see him take a chance on it,"
and he gave her arm an affectionate squeeze against his side. He was
always immensely moved by her little alarms for him. They reminded
him, in a remote way, of Little Ann coming down Mrs. Bowse's staircase
bearing with her the tartan comforter.
How could any one--how could any one want to do him an injury? she
began to protest pathetically. But he would not let her go on. He
would not talk any more of Captain Palliser or allow her to talk of
him. Indeed, her secret fear was that he really knew something he did
not wish her to be troubled by, and perhaps thought he had said too
much. He began to make jokes and led her to other subjects. He asked
her to go to the Hibblethwaites' cottage and pay a visit to Tummas. He
had learned to understand his accepted privileges in making of cottage
visits by this time; and when he clicked any wicket-gate the door was
open before he had time to pass up the wicket-path. They called at
several cottages, and he nodded at the windows of others where faces
appeared as he passed by.
They had a happy morning together, and he took her back to Temple
Barholm beaming, and forgetting Captain Palliser's existence, for the
time, at least. In the afternoon they drove out together, and after
dining they read the last copy of the Sunday Earth, which had arrived
that day. He found quite an interesting paragraph about Mr. Hutchinson
and the invention. Little Miss Hutchinson was referred to most
flatteringly by the writer, who almost inferred that she was
responsible not only for the inventor but for the invention itself.
Miss Alicia felt quite proud of knowing so prominent a character, and
wondered what it could be like to read about oneself in a newspaper.
About nine o'clock he laid his sheet of the Earth down and spoke to
"I'm going to ask you to do me a favor," he said. "I couldn't ask it
if we weren't alone like this. I know you won't mind."
Of course she wouldn't mind. She was made happier by the mere idea of
doing something for him.
"I'm going to ask you to go to your room rather early," he explained.
"I want to try a sort of stunt on Strangeways. I'm going to bring him
downstairs if he'll come. I'm not sure I can get him to do it; but
he's been a heap better lately, and perhaps I can."
"Is he so much better as that?" she said. "Will it be safe?"
He looked as serious as she had ever seen him look--even a trifle more
"I don't know how much better he is," was his answer. "Sometimes you'd
think he was almost all right. And then--! The doctor says that if he
could get over being afraid of leaving his room it would be a big
thing for him. He wants him to go to his place in London so that he
can watch him."
"Do you think you could persuade him to go?"
"I've tried my level best, but so far--nothing doing."
He got up and stood before the mantel, his back against it, his hands
in his pockets.
"I've found out one thing," he said. "He's used to houses like this.
Every now and again he lets something out quite natural. He knew that
the furniture in his room was Jacobean - that's what he called it -
and he knew it was fine stuff. He wouldn't have known that if he'd
been a piker. I'm going to try if he won't let out something else when
he sees things here - if he'll come."
"You have such a wonderfully reasoning mind, dear," said Miss Alicia,
as she rose. "You would have made a great detective, I'm sure."
"If Ann had been with him," he said, rather gloomily, "she'd have
caught on to a lot more than I have. I don't feel very chesty about
the way I've managed it."
Miss Alicia went up-stairs shortly afterward, and half an hour later
Tembarom told the footmen in the hall that they might go to bed. The
experiment he was going to make demanded that the place should be
cleared of any disturbing presence. He had been thinking it over for
sometime past. He had sat in the private room of the great nerve
specialist in London and had talked it over with him. He had talked of
it with the duke on the lawn at Stone Hover. There had been a flush of
color in the older man's cheek-bones, and his eyes had been alight as
he took his part in the discussion. He had added the touch of his own
personality to it, as always happened.
"We are having some fine moments, my good fellow," he had said,
rubbing his hands. "This is extremely like the fourth act. I'd like to
be sure what comes next."
"I'd like to be sure myself," Tembarom answered. "It's as if a flash
of lightning came sometimes, and then things clouded up. And sometimes
when I am trying something out he'll get so excited that I daren't go
on until I've talked to the doctor."
It was the excitement he was dubious about to-night. It was not
possible to be quite certain as to the entire safety of the plan; but
there might be a chance - even a big chance - of wakening some cell
from its deadened sleep. Sir Ormsby way had talked to him a good deal
about brain cells, and he had listened faithfully and learned more
than he could put into scientific English. Gradually, during the past
months, he had been coming upon strangely exciting hints of curious
possibilities. They had been mere hints at first, and had seemed
almost absurd in their unbelievableness. But each one had linked
itself with another, and led him on to further wondering and
exploration. When Miss Alicia and Palliser had seen that he looked
absorbed and baffled, it had been because he had frequently found
himself, to use his own figures of speech, "mixed up to beat the
band." He had not known which way to turn; but he had gone on turning
because he could not escape from his own excited interest, and the
inevitable emotion roused by being caught in the whirl of a melodrama.
That was what he'd dropped into--a whacking big play. It had begun for
him when Palford butted in that night and told him he was a lost heir,
with a fortune and an estate in England; and the curtain had been
jerking up and down ever since. But there had been thrills in it,
queer as it was. Something doing all the time, by gee!
He sat and smoked his pipe and wished Ann were with him because he
knew he was not as cool as he had meant to be. He felt a certain
tingling of excitement in his body; and this was not the time to be
excited. He waited for some minutes before he went up-stairs. It was
true that Strangeways had been much better lately. He had seemed to
find it easier to follow conversation. During the past few days,
Tembarom had talked to him in a matter-of-fact way about the house and
its various belongings. He had at last seemed to waken to an interest
in the picture-gallery. Evidently he knew something of picture-
galleries and portraits, and found himself relieved by his own
clearness of thought when he talked of them.
"I feel better," he said, two or three times. "Things seem clearer--
"Good business!" exclaimed Tembarom. "I told you it'd be that way.
Let's hold on to pictures. It won't be any time before you'll be
remembering where you've seen some."
He had been secretly rather strung up; but he had been very gradual in
approaching his final suggestion that some night, when everything was
quiet, they might go and look at the gallery together.
"What you need is to get out of the way of wanting to stay in one
place," he argued. "The doctor says you've got to have a change, and
even going from one room to another is a fine thing."
Strangeways had looked at him anxiously for a few moments, even
suspiciously, but his face had cleared after the look. He drew himself
up and passed his hand over his forehead.
"I believe - perhaps he is right," he murmured.
"Sure he's right!" said Tembarom. "He's the sort of chap who ought to
know. He's been made into a baronet for knowing. Sir Ormsby Galloway,
by jings! That's no slouch of a name Oh, he knows, you bet your life!"
This morning when he had seen him he had spoken of the plan again. The
visitors had gone away; the servants could be sent out of sight and
hearing; they could go into the library and smoke and he could look at
the books. And then they could take a look at the picture-gallery if
he wasn't too tired. It would be a change anyhow.
To-night, as he went up the huge staircase, Tembarom's calmness of
being had not increased. He was aware of a quickened pulse and of a
slight dampness on his forehead. The dead silence of the house added
to the unusualness of things. He could not remember ever having been
so anxious before, except on the occasion when he had taken his first
day's "stuff" to Galton, and had stood watching him as he read it. His
forehead had grown damp then. But he showed no outward signs of
excitement when he entered the room and found Strangeways standing,
perfectly attired in evening dress.
Pearson, setting things in order at the other side of the room, was
taking note of him furtively over his shoulder. Quite in the casual
manner of the ordinary man, he had expressed his intention of dressing
for the evening, and Pearson had thanked his stars for the fact that
the necessary garments were at hand. From the first, he had not
infrequently asked for articles such as only the resources of a
complete masculine wardrobe could supply; and on one occasion he had
suddenly wished to dress for dinner, and the lame excuses it had been
necessary to make had disturbed him horribly instead of pacifying him.
To explain that his condition precluded the necessity of the usual
appurtenances would have been out of the question. He had been angry.
What did Pearson mean? What was the matter? He had said it over and
over again, and then had sunk into a hopelessly bewildered mood, and
had sat huddled in his dressing-gown staring at the fire. Pearson had
been so harrowed by the situation that it had been his own idea to
suggest to his master that all possible requirements should be
provided. There were occasions when it appeared that the cloud over
him lifted for a passing moment, and a gleam of light recalled to him
some familiar usage of his past. When he had finished dressing,
Pearson had been almost startled by the amount of effect produced by