Part 3 out of 4
absently seated herself and lay back, caressing the roses with delicate
lips and chin.
Twice she looked up at him, standing there by the boarded windows.
Sunshine filtered through the latticework at the top--enough for them to
see each other as in a dull afterglow.
"I wonder how soon my maid will come," she mused, dropping the loose
roses on her knees. "If she is going to be very long about it perhaps--
perhaps you might care to find a chair--if you have decided to wait."
He drew one from a corner and seated himself, pulses hammering his
Through the stillness of the house sounded at intervals the clink of
glass from the pantry. Other sounds from above indicated the plumber's
progress from floor to floor.
"Do you realize," she said impulsively, "how _very_ nice you have been to
me? What a perfectly horrid position I might have been in, with poor
Clarence on the back fence! And suppose I had dared follow him alone to
the cellar? I--I might have been there yet--up to my neck in coal?"
She gazed into space with considerable emotion.
"And now," she said, "I am safe here in my own home. I have lunched
divinely, a maid is on the way to me, Clarence remains somewhere safe
indoors, Mr. Quinn is flitting from faucet to faucet, the electric light
and the telephone will be in working order before very long--and it is
_all_ due to you!"
"I--I did a few things I almost w-wish I hadn't," stammered Brown,
"b-because I can't, somehow, decently t-tell you how tremendously
I--I--" He stuck fast.
"It would look as though I were presuming on a t-trifling service
rendered, and--oh, I can't say it; I want to, but I can't."
"Say what? Please, I don't mind what you are--are going to say."
"It's--it's that I----"
"Y-es?" in soft encouragement.
"W-want to know you most tremendously now. I don't want to wait several
years for chance and hazard."
"O-h!" as though the information conveyed a gentle shock to her. Her low-
breathed exclamation nearly finished Brown.
"I knew you'd think it unpardonable for me--at such a time--to venture
"Why do you--how can I--where could we--" She recovered herself
resolutely. "I do not think we ought to take advantage of an accident
like this.... Do you? Besides, probably, in the natural course of social
"But it may be years! months! weeks!" insisted Brown, losing control of
"I should hope it would at least be a decently reasonable interval of
"But I don't know what to do if I never see you again for weeks! I c-care
She shrank back in her chair, and in her altered face he read that he had
"I knew I was going to," he said in despair. "I couldn't keep it--I
couldn't stop it. And now that you see what sort of a man I am I'm going
to tell you more."
"You need not," she said faintly.
"I must. Listen! I--I don't even know your full name--all I know is that
it is Betty, and that your cat's name is Clarence and your plumber's name
is Quinn. But if I didn't know anything at all concerning you it would
have been the same. I suppose you will think me insane if I tell you that
before the car, on which you rode, came into sight I _knew_ you were on
it. And I--cared--for--you--before I ever saw you."
"I don't understand----"
"I know you don't. _I_ don't. All I understand is that what you and I
have done has been done by us before, sometime, somewhere--part only--
down to--down to where you changed cars. Up to that moment, before you
took the Lexington Avenue car, I recognized each incident as it
occurred.... But when all this happened to us before I must have lost
courage--for I did not recognize anything after that except that I cared
for you.... _Do_ you understand one single word of what I have been
The burning color in her face had faded slowly while he was speaking; her
lifted eyes grew softer, serious, as he ended impetuously.
She looked at him in retrospective silence. There was no mistaking his
astonishing sincerity, his painfully earnest endeavor to impart to her
some rather unusual ideas in which he certainly believed. No man who
looked that way at a woman could mean impertinence; her own intelligence
satisfied her that he had not meant and could never mean offense to any
"Tell me," she said quietly, "just what you mean. It is not possible for
you to--care--for--me.... Is it?"
He disclosed to her, beginning briefly with his own name, material and
social circumstances, a pocket edition of his hitherto uneventful career,
the advent that morning of the emissary from The Green Mouse, his
discussion with Smith, the strange sensation which crept over him as he
emerged from the tunnel at Forty-second Street, his subsequent
altercation with Smith, and the events that ensued up to the eruption of
He spoke in his most careful attorney's manner, frank, concise,
convincing, free from any exaggeration of excitement or emotion. And she
listened, alternately fascinated and appalled as, step by step, his story
unfolded the links in an apparently inexorable sequence involving this
young man and herself in a predestined string of episodes not yet ended--
if she permitted herself to credit this astounding story.
Sensitively intelligent, there was no escaping the significance of the
only possible deduction. She drew it and blushed furiously. For a moment,
as the truth clamored in her brain, the self-evidence of it stunned her.
But she was young, and the shamed recoil came automatically. Incredulous,
almost exasperated, she raised her head to confront him; the red lips
parted in outraged protest--parted and remained so, wordless, silent--the
soundless, virginal cry dying unuttered on a mouth that had imperceptibly
begun to tremble.
Her head sank slowly; she laid her white hands above the roses heaped in
For a long while she remained so. And he did not speak.
First the butler went away. Then Mr. Quinn followed. The maid had not yet
arrived. The house was very still.
And after the silence had worn his self-control to the breaking point he
rose and walked to the dining room and stood looking down into the yard.
The grass out there was long and unkempt; roses bloomed on the fence;
wistaria, in its deeper green of midsummer, ran riot over the trellis
where Clarence had basely dodged his lovely mistress, and, after making a
furry pin wheel of himself, had fled through the airhole into Stygian
Somewhere above, in the silent house, Clarence was sulkily dissembling.
"I suppose," said Brown, quietly coming back to where the girl was
sitting in the golden dusk, "that I might as well find Clarence while we
are waiting for your maid. May I go up and look about?"
And taking her silence as assent, he started upstairs.
He hunted carefully, thoroughly, opening doors, peeping under furniture,
investigating clothespresses, listening at intervals, at intervals
calling with misleading mildness. But, like him who died in malmsey,
Clarence remained perjured and false to all sentiments of decency so
often protested purringly to his fair young mistress.
Mechanically Brown opened doors of closets, knowing, if he had stopped to
think, that cats don't usually turn knobs and let themselves into tightly
In one big closet on the fifth floor, however, as soon as he opened the
door there came a rustle, and he sprang forward to intercept the
perfidious one; but it was only the air stirring the folds of garments
hanging on the wall.
As he turned to step forth again the door gently closed with an ominous
click, shutting him inside. And after five minutes' frantic fussing he
realized that he was imprisoned by a spring lock at the top of a strange
house, inhabited only by a cat and a bewildered young girl, who might, at
any moment now that the telephone was in order, call a cab and flee from
a man who had tried to explain to her that they were irrevocably
predestined for one another.
Calling and knocking were dignified and permissible, but they did no
good. To kick violently at the door was not dignified, but he was obliged
to do it. Evidently the closet was too remote for the sound to penetrate
down four flights of stairs.
He tried to break down the door--they do it in all novels. He only
rebounded painfully, ineffectively, which served him right for reading
It irked him to shout; he hesitated for a long while; then sudden
misgiving lest she might flee the house seized him and he bellowed. It
was no use.
The pitchy quality of the blackness in the closet aided him in bruising
himself; he ran into a thousand things of all kinds of shapes and
textures every time he moved. And at each fresh bruise he grew madder and
madder, and, holding the cat responsible, applied language to Clarence of
which he had never dreamed himself capable.
Then he sat down. He remained perfectly still for a long while, listening
and delicately feeling his hurts. A curious drowsiness began to irritate
him; later the irritation subsided and he felt a little sleepy.
His heart, however, thumped like an inexpensive clock; the cedar-tainted
air in the closet grew heavier; he felt stupid, swaying as he rose. No
wonder, for the closet was as near air-tight as it could be made.
Fortunately he did not realize it.
And, meanwhile, downstairs, Betty was preparing for flight.
She did not know where she was going--how far away she could get in a
rose-silk morning gown. But she had discovered, in a clothespress, an
automobile duster, cap, and goggles; on the strength of these she tried
the telephone, found it working, summoned a coupe, and was now awaiting
its advent. But the maid from Dooley's must first arrive to take charge
of the house and Clarence until she, Betty, could summon her family to
her assistance and defy The Green Mouse, Beekman Brown, and Destiny
behind her mother's skirts.
Flight was, therefore, imperative--it was absolutely indispensable that
she put a number of miles between herself and this young man who had just
informed her that Fate had designed them for one another.
She was no longer considering whether she owed this amazing young man any
gratitude, or what sort of a man he might be, agreeable, well-bred,
attractive; all she understood was that this man had suddenly stepped
into her life, politely expressing his conviction that they could not,
ultimately, hope to escape from each other. And, beginning to realize the
awful import of his words, the only thing that restrained her from
instant flight on foot was the hidden Clarence. She could not abandon her
cat. She must wait for that maid. She waited. Meanwhile she hunted up
Dooley's Agency in the telephone book and called them up. They told her
the maid was on the way--as though Dooley's Agency could thwart Destiny
with a whole regiment of its employees!
She had discarded her roses with a shudder; cap, goggles, duster, lay in
her lap. If the maid came before Brown returned she'd flee. If Brown came
back before the maid arrived she'd tell him plainly what she had decided
on, thank him, tell him kindly but with decision that, considering the
incredible circumstances of their encounter, she must decline to
encourage any hope he might entertain of ever again seeing her.
At this stern resolve her heart, being an automatic and independent
affair, refused to approve, and began an unpleasantly irregular series of
beats which annoyed her.
"It is true," she admitted to herself, "that he is a gentleman, and I can
scarcely be rude enough, after what he has done for me, to leave him
without any explanation at all.... His clothes are ruined. I must
Her heart seemed to approve such sentiments, and it beat more regularly
as she seated herself at a desk, found in it a sheet of notepaper and a
pencil, and wrote rapidly:
"_Dear Mr. Brown:_
"If my maid comes before you do I am going. I can't help it. The maid
will stay to look after Clarence until I can return with some of the
family. I don't mean to be rude, but I simply cannot stand what you told
me about our--about what you told me.... I'm sorry you tore your clothes.
"Please believe my flight has nothing to do with you personally or your
conduct, which was perfectly ('charming' scratched out) proper. It is
only that to be suddenly told that one is predestined to ('marry'
scratched out) become intimately acquainted (all this scratched out and a
new line begun).
"It is unendurable for a girl to think that there is no freedom of choice
in life left her--to be forced, by what you say are occult currents,
into--friendship--with a perfectly strange man at the other end. So I
don't think we had better ever again attempt to find anybody to present
us to each other. This doesn't sound right, but you will surely
"Please do not misjudge me. I must appear to you uncivil, ungrateful, and
childish--but I am, somehow, a little frightened. I know you are
perfectly nice--but all that has happened is almost, in a way, terrifying
to me. Not that I am cowardly; but you must understand. You will--won't
you?.... But what is the use of my asking you, as I shall never see you
"So I am only going to thank you, and say ('with all my heart' crossed
out) very cordially, that you have been most kind, most generous and
* * * * *
Her pencil faltered; she looked into space, and the image of Beekman
Brown, pleasant-eyed, attractive, floated unbidden out of vacancy and
looked at her.
She stared back at the vision curiously, more curiously as her mind
evoked the agreeable details of his features, resting there, chin on the
back of her hand, from which, presently, the pencil fell unheeded.
What could he be doing upstairs all this while. She had not heard him for
many minutes now. Why was he so still?
She straightened up at her desk and glanced uneasily across her shoulder,
Not a sound from above; she rose and walked to the foot of the stairs.
Why was he so still? Had he found Clarence? Had anything gone wrong? Had
Clarence become suddenly rabid and attacked him. Cats can't annihilate
big, strong young men. But _where_ was he? Had he, pursuing his quest,
emerged through the scuttle on to the roof--and--and--fallen off?
Scarcely knowing what she did she mounted on tiptoe to the second floor,
listening. The silence troubled her; she went from room to room, opening
doors and clothespresses. Then she mounted to the third floor, searching
more quickly. On the fourth floor she called to him in a voice not quite
steady. There was no reply.
Alarmed now, she hurriedly flung open doors everywhere, then, picking up
her rose-silk skirts, she ran to the top floor and called tremulously.
A faint sound answered; bewildered, she turned to the first closet at
hand, and her cheeks suddenly blanched as she sprang to the door of the
cedar press and tore it wide open.
He was lying on his face amid a heap of rolled rugs, clothes hangers and
furs, quite motionless.
She knew enough to run into the servants' rooms, fling open the windows
and, with all the strength in her young body, drag the inanimate youth
across the floor and into the fresh air.
"O-h!" she said, and said it only once. Then, ashy of lip and cheek, she
took hold of Brown and, lashing her memory to help her in the emergency,
performed for that inanimate gentleman the rudiments of an exercise
which, if done properly, is supposed to induce artificial respiration.
It certainly induced something resembling it in Brown. After a while he
made unlovely and inarticulate sounds; after a while the sounds became
articulate. He said: "Betty!" several times, more or less distinctly. He
opened one eye, then the other; then his hands closed on the hands that
were holding his wrists; he looked up at her from where he lay on the
floor. She, crouched beside him, eyes still dilated with the awful fear
of death, looked back, breathless, trembling.
"That is a devil of a place, that closet," he said faintly.
She tried to smile, tried wearily to free her hands, watched them, dazed,
being drawn toward him, drawn tight against his lips--felt his lips on
Then, without warning, an incredible thrill shot through her to the
heart, stilling it--silencing pulse and breath--nay, thought itself. She
heard him speaking; his words came to her like distant sounds in a dream:
"I cared for you. You give me life--and I adore you.... Let me. It will
not harm you. The problem of life is solved for me; I have solved it; but
unless some day you will prove it for me--Betty--the problem of life is
but a sorry sum--a total of ciphers without end.... No other two people
in all the world could be what we are and what we have been to each
other. No other two people could dare to face what we dare face." He
paused: "Dare we, Betty?"
Her eyes turned from his. He rose unsteadily, supported on one arm; she
sprang to her feet, looked at him, and, as he made an awkward effort to
rise, suddenly bent forward and gave him both hands in aid.
"Wait--wait!" she said; "let me try to think, if I can. Don't speak to me
again--not yet--not now."
But, at intervals, as they descended the flights of stairs, she turned
instinctively to watch his progress, for he still moved with difficulty.
In the drawing-room they halted, he leaning heavily on the back of a
chair, she, distrait, restless, pacing the polished parquet, treading her
roses under foot, turning from time to time to look at him--a strange,
direct, pure-lidded gaze that seemed to freshen his very soul.
Once he stooped and picked up one of the trodden roses bruised by her
slim foot; once, as she passed him, pacing absently the space between the
door and him, he spoke her name.
But: "Wait!" she breathed. "You have said everything. It is for me to
reply--if I speak at all. C-can't you wait for--me?"
"Have I angered you?"
She halted, head high, superb in her slim, young beauty.
"Do I look it?"
"I don't know."
"Nor I. Let me find out."
The room had become dimmer; the light on her hair and face and hands
glimmered dully as she passed and re-passed him in her restless progress--
restless, dismayed, frightened progress toward a goal she already saw
ahead--close ahead of her--every time she turned to look at him. She
already knew the end.
_That_ man! And she knew that already he must be, for her, something that
she could never again forget--something she must reckon with forever and
ever while life endured.
She paused and inspected him almost insolently. Suddenly the rush of the
last revolt overwhelmed her; her eyes blazed, her white hands tightened
into two small clenched fists--and then tumult died in her ringing ears,
the brightness of the eyes was quenched, her hands relaxed, her head sank
low, lower, never again to look on this man undismayed, heart free,
unafraid--never again to look into this man's eyes with the unthinking,
unbelieving tranquillity born of the most harmless skepticism in the
She stood there in silence, heard his step beside her, raised her head
with an effort.
Her hands quivered, refusing surrender. He bent and lifted them, pressing
them to his eyes, his forehead. Then lowered them to the level of his
lips, holding them suspended, eyes looking into hers, waiting.
Suddenly her eyes closed, a convulsive little tremor swept her, she
pressed both clasped hands against his lips, her own moved, but no words
came--only a long, sweet, soundless sigh, soft as the breeze that stirs
the crimson maple buds when the snows of spring at last begin to melt.
From a dark corner under the piano Clarence watched them furtively.
_Showing What Comes of Disobedience, Rosium, and Flour-Paste_
About noon Bushwyck Carr bounced into the gymnasium, where the triplets
had just finished their fencing lesson.
"Did any of you three go into the laboratory this morning?" he demanded,
his voice terminating in a sort of musical bellow, like the blast of a
mellow French horn on a touring car.
The triplets--Flavilla, Drusilla, and Sybilla--all clothed precisely
alike in knee kilts, plastrons, gauntlets and masks, came to attention,
saluting their parent with their foils. The Boznovian fencing mistress,
Madame Tzinglala, gracefully withdrew to the dressing room and departed.
"Which of you three girls went into the laboratory this morning?"
repeated their father impatiently.
The triplets continued to stand in a neat row, the buttons of their foils
aligned and resting on the hardwood floor. In graceful unison they
removed their masks; three flushed and unusually pretty faces regarded
the author of their being attentively--more attentively still when that
round and ruddy gentleman, executing a facial contortion, screwed his
monocle into an angry left eye and glared.
"Didn't I warn you to keep out of that laboratory?" he asked wrathfully;
"didn't I explain to you that it was none of your business? I believe I
informed you that whatever is locked up in that room is no concern of
yours. Didn't I?"
"Well, confound it, what did you go in for, then?"
An anxious silence was his answer. "You didn't all go in, did you?" he
demanded in a melodious bellow.
"Oh, no, Pa-_pah!_"
"Did two of you go?"
"Oh-h, n-o, Pa-_pah!_"
"Well, which one did?"
The line of beauty wavered for a moment; then Sybilla stepped slowly to
the front, three paces, and halted with downcast eyes.
"I told you not to, didn't I?" said her father, scowling the monocle out
of his eye and reinserting it.
"But you _did?_"
"That will do! Flavilla! Drusilla! You are excused," dismissing the two
guiltless triplets with a wave of the terrible eyeglass; and when they
had faced to the rear and retired in good order, closing the door behind
them, he regarded his delinquent daughter in wrathy and rubicund dismay.
"What did you see in that laboratory?" he demanded.
Sybilla began to count on her fingers. "As I walked around the room I
noticed jars, bottles, tubes, lamps, retorts, blowpipes, batteries----"
"Did you notice a small, shiny machine that somewhat resembles the
interior economy of a watch?"
"Yes, Pa-_pah_, but I haven't come to that yet----"
"Did you go near it?"
"You didn't touch it, did you?"
"I was going to tell you----"
"_Did_ you?" he bellowed musically. "Answer me, Sybilla!"
"What did you suppose it to be?"
"I thought--we all thought--that you kept a wireless telephone instrument
"Why? Just because I happen to be president of the Amalgamated Wireless
"Yes. And we were dying to see a wireless telephone work.... I thought
I'd like to call up Central--just to be sure I could make the thing go--
_What_ is the matter, Pa-_pah?_"
He dropped into a wadded armchair and motioned Sybilla to a seat
opposite. Then with another frightful facial contortion he reimbedded the
"So you deliberately opened that door and went in to rummage?"
"No," said the girl; "we were--skylarking a little, on our way to the
gymnasium; and I gave Brasilia a little shove toward the laboratory door,
and then Flavilla pushed me--very gently--and somehow I--the door flew
open and my mask fell off and rolled inside; and I went in after it. That
is how it happened--partly."
She lifted her dark and very beautiful eyes to her stony parent, then
they dropped, and she began tracing figures and arabesques on the
polished floor with the point of her foil. "That is partly how," she
"What is the other part?"
"The other part was that, having unfortunately disobeyed you, and being
already in the room, I thought I might as well stay and take a little
Her father fairly bounced in his padded chair. The velvet-eyed descendant
of Eve shot a fearful glance at him and continued, still casually tracing
invisible arabesques with her foil's point.
"You see, don't you," she said, "that being actually _in_, I thought I
might as well do something before I came out again, which would make my
disobedience worth the punishment. So I first picked up my mask, then I
took a scared peep around. There were only jars and bottles and
things.... I was dreadfully disappointed. The certainty of being punished
and then, after all, seeing nothing but bottles, _did_ seem rather
unfair.... So I--walked around to--to see if I could find something to
look at which would repay me for the punishment.... There is a proverb,
isn't there Pa-_pah?_--something about being executed for a lamb----"
"Go on!" he said sharply.
"Well, all I could find that looked as though I had no business to touch
it was a little jeweled machine----"
"_That_ was it! Did you touch it?"
"Yes, several times. Was it a wireless?"
"Never mind! Yes, it's one kind of a wireless instrument. Go on!"
Sybilla shook her head:
"I'm sure I don't see why you are so disturbingly emphatic; because I
haven't an idea how to send or receive a wireless message, and I hadn't
the vaguest notion how that machine might work. I tried very hard to make
it go; I turned several screws and pushed all the push-buttons----"
Mr. Carr emitted a hollow, despairing sound--a sort of musical groan--and
feebly plucked at space.
"I tried every lever, screw, and spring," she went on calmly, "but the
machine must have been out of order, for I only got one miserable little
"You got a _spark?_"
"Yes--just a tiny, noiseless atom of white fire----"
Her father bounced to his feet and waved both hands at her distractedly.
"Do you know what you've done?" he bellowed.
"Well, you've prepared yourself to fall in love! And you've probably
induced some indescribable pup to fall in love with you! And _that's_
what you've done!"
"Yes, you have!"
"But how can a common wireless telephone----"
"It's another kind of a wireless. Your brother-in-law, William Destyn,
invented it; I'm backing it and experimenting with it. I told you to keep
out of that room. I hung up a sign on the door: _'Danger! Keep out!'_"
"W-was that thing loaded?"
"Yes, it _was_ loaded!"
"Waves!" shouted her father, furiously. "Psychic waves! You little ninny,
we've just discovered that the world and everything in it is enveloped in
psychic waves, as well as invisible electric currents. The minute you got
near that machine and opened the receiver, waves from your subconscious
personality flowed into it. And the minute you touched that spring and
got a spark, your psychic waves had signaled, by wireless, the
subconscious personality of some young man--some insufferable pup--who'll
come from wherever he is at present--from the world's end if need be--and
fall in love with you."
Mr. Carr jumped ponderously up and down in pure fury; his daughter
regarded him in calm consternation.
"I am so very, very sorry," she said; "but I am quite certain that I am
not going to fall in love----"
"You can't help it," roared her father, "if that instrument worked."
"Is--is that what it's f-for?"
"That's what it's invented for; that's why I'm putting a million into it.
Anybody on earth desiring to meet the person with whom they're destined,
some time or other, to fall in love, can come to us, in confidence, buy a
ticket, and be hitched on to the proper psychic connection which insures
speedy courtship and marriage--Damnation!"
"I can't help it! Any self-respecting, God-fearing father would swear! Do
you think I ever expected to have my daughters mixed up with this
machine? My daughters wooed, engaged and married by _machinery!_ And
you're only eighteen; do you hear me? I won't have it! I'll certainly not
"But, dear, I don't in the least intend to fall in love and marry at
eighteen. And if--_he_--really--comes, I'll tell him very frankly that I
could not think of falling in love. I'll quietly explain that the machine
went off by mistake and that I am only eighteen; and that Flavilla and
Drusilla and I are not to come out until next winter. That," she added
innocently, "ought to hold him."
"The thing to do," said her father, gazing fixedly at her, "is to keep
you in your room until you're twenty!"
Mr. Carr smote his florid brow.
"You'll stay in for a week, anyway!" he thundered mellifluously. "No
motoring party for you! That's your punishment. You'll be safe for today,
anyhow; and by evening William Destyn will be back from Boston and I'll
consult him as to the safest way to keep you out of the path of this
whippersnapper you have managed to wake up--evoke--stir out of space--
wherever he may be--whoever he may be--whatever he chances to call
"George," she murmured involuntarily.
She looked at her father, abashed, confused.
"How absurd of me," she said. "I don't know why I should have thought of
that name, George; or why I should have said it out loud--that way--I
"Who do you know named George?"
"N-nobody in particular that I can think of----"
"Sybilla! Be honest!"
"Really, I don't; I am always honest."
He knew she was truthful, always; but he said:
"Then why the devil did you look--er--so, so moonily at me and call me
"I can't imagine--I can't understand----"
"Well, _I_ can! You don't realize it, but that cub's name must be George!
I'll look out for the Georges. I'm glad I've been warned. I'll see that
no two-legged object named George enters this house! You'll never go
anywhere where there's anybody named George if I can prevent it."
"I--I don't want to," she returned, almost ready to cry. "You are very
cruel to me----"
"I wish to be. I desire to be a monster!" he retorted fiercely. "You're
an exceedingly bad, ungrateful, undutiful, disobedient and foolish child.
Your sisters and I are going to motor to Westchester and lunch there with
your sister and your latest brother-in-law. And if they ask why you
didn't come I'll tell them that it's because you're undutiful, and that
you are not to stir outdoors for a week, or see anybody who comes into
"I--I suppose I d-deserve it," she acquiesced tearfully. "I'm quite ready
to be disciplined, and quite willing not to see anybody named George--
ever! Besides, you have scared me d-dreadfully! I--I don't want to go out
of the house."
And when her father had retired with a bounce she remained alone in the
gymnasium, eyes downcast, lips quivering. Later still, sitting in
precisely the same position, she heard the soft whir of the touring car
outside; then the click of the closing door.
"There they go," she said to herself, "and they'll have such a jolly
time, and all those very agreeable Westchester young men will be there--
particularly Mr. Montmorency.... I _did_ like him awfully; besides, his
name is Julian, so it is p-perfectly safe to like him--and I _did_ want
to see how Sacharissa looks after her bridal trip."
Her lower lip trembled; she steadied it between her teeth, gazed
miserably at the floor, and beat a desolate tattoo on it with the tip of
"I am being well paid for my disobedience," she whimpered. "Now I can't
go out for a week; and it's April; and when I do go out I'll be so
anxious all the while, peeping furtively at every man who passes and
wondering whether his name might be George.... And it is going to be
horridly awkward, too.... Fancy their bringing up some harmless dancing
man named George to present to me next winter, and I, terrified, picking
up my debutante skirts and running.... I'll actually be obliged to flee
from every man until I know his name isn't George. Oh, dear! Oh, dear!
What an awful outlook for this summer when we open the house at Oyster
Bay! What a terrible vista for next winter!"
She naively dabbed a tear from her long lashes with the back of her
Her maid came, announcing luncheon, but she would have none of it, nor
any other offered office, including a bath and a house gown.
"You go away somewhere, Bowles," she said, "and please, don't come near
me, and don't let anybody come anywhere in my distant vicinity, because I
am v-very unhappy, Bowles, and deserve to be--and I--I desire to be alone
"But, Miss Sybilla----"
"No, no, no! I don't even wish to hear your voice--or anybody's. I don't
wish to hear a single human sound of any description. I--_what_ is that
scraping noise in the library?"
"A man, Miss Sybilla----"
"A _man!_ W-what's his name?"
"I don't know, miss. He's a workman--a paper hanger."
"Did you wish me to ask him to stop scraping, miss?"
Sybilla laughed: "No, thank you." And she continued, amused at herself
after her maid had withdrawn, strolling about the gymnasium, making
passes with her foil at ring, bar, and punching bag. Her anxiety, too,
was subsiding. The young have no very great capacity for continued
anxiety. Besides, the first healthy hint of incredulity was already
creeping in. And as she strolled about, swishing her foil, she mused
aloud at her ease:
"What an extraordinary and horrid machine!... _How_ can it do such
exceedingly common things? And what a perfectly unpleasant way to fall in
love--by machinery!... I had rather not know who I am some day to--to
like--very much.... It is far more interesting to meet a man by accident,
and never suspect you may ever come to care for him, than to buy a
ticket, walk over to a machine full of psychic waves and ring up some
strange man somewhere on earth."
With a shudder of disdain she dropped on to a lounge and took her face
between both hands.
She was like her sisters, tall, prettily built, and articulated, with the
same narrow feet and hands--always graceful when lounging, no matter what
position her slim limbs fell into.
And now, in her fencing skirts of black and her black stockings, she was
exceedingly ornamental, with the severe lines of the plastron accenting
the white throat and chin, and the scarlet heart blazing over her own
little heart--unvexed by such details as love and lovers. Yes, unvexed;
for she had about come to the conclusion that her father had frightened
her more than was necessary; that the instrument had not really done its
worst; in fact, that, although she had been very disobedient, she had had
a rather narrow escape; and nothing more serious than paternal
displeasure was likely to be visited upon her.
Which comforted her to an extent that brought a return of appetite; and
she rang for luncheon, and ate it with the healthy nonchalance usually so
characteristic of her and her sisters.
"Now," she reflected, "I'll have to wait an hour for my bath"--one of the
inculcated principles of domestic hygiene. So, rising, she strolled
across the gymnasium, casting about for something interesting to do.
She looked out of the back windows. In New York the view from back
windows is not imposing.
Tiring of the inartistic prospect she sauntered out and downstairs to see
what her maid might be about. Bowles was sewing; Sybilla looked on for a
while with languid interest, then, realizing that a long day of
punishment was before her, that she deserved it, and that she ought to
perform some act of penance, started contritely for the library with
resolute intentions toward Henry James.
As she entered she noticed that the bookshelves, reaching part way to the
ceiling, were shrouded in sheets. Also she encountered a pair of
sawhorses overlaid with boards, upon which were rolls of green flock
paper, several pairs of shears, a bucket of paste, a large, flat brush, a
knife and a T-square.
"The paper hanger man," she said. "He's gone to lunch. I'll have time to
seize on Henry James and flee."
Now Henry James, like some other sacred conventions, was, in that
library, a movable feast. Sometimes he stood neatly arranged on one
shelf, sometimes on another. There was no counting on Henry.
Sybilla lifted the sheets from the face of one case and peered closer.
Henry was not visible. She lifted the sheets from another case; no Henry;
only G.P.R., in six dozen rakish volumes.
Sybilla peeped into a third case. Then a very unedifying thing occurred.
Surely, surely, this was Sybilla's disobedient day. She saw a forbidden
book glimmering in old, gilded leather--she saw its classic back turned
mockingly toward her--the whole allure of the volume was impudent, dog-
She took it out, replaced it, looked hard, hard for Henry, found him not,
glanced sideways at the dog-eared one, took a step sideways.
"I'll just see where it was printed," she said to herself, drawing out
the book and backing off hastily--so hastily that she came into collision
with the sawhorse table, and the paste splashed out of the bucket.
But Sybilla paid no heed; she was examining the title page of old Dog-
ear: a rather wonderful title page, printed in fascinating red and black
"I'll just see whether--" And the smooth, white fingers hesitated; but
she had caught a glimpse of an ancient engraving on the next page--a very
quaint one, that held her fascinated.
She turned the next page. The first paragraph of the famous classic began
deliciously. After a few moments she laughed, adding to herself: "I can't
see what harm----"
There was no harm. Her father had meant another book; but Sybilla did not
"I'll just glance through it to--to--be sure that I mustn't read it."
She laid one hand on the paper hanger's table, vaulted up sideways, and,
seated on the top, legs swinging, buried herself in the book, unconscious
that the overturned paste was slowly fastening her to the spattered table
An hour later, hearing steps on the landing, she sprang--that is, she
went through all the graceful motions of springing lightly to the floor.
But she had not budged an inch. No Gorgon's head could have consigned her
to immovability more hopeless.
Restrained from freedom by she knew not what, she made one frantic and
demoralized effort--and sank back in terror at the ominous tearing sound.
She was glued irrevocably to the table.
THE CROWN PRINCE
_Wherein the Green Mouse Squeaks_
A few minutes later the paper hanging young man entered, swinging an
empty dinner pail and halted in polite surprise before a flushed young
girl in full fencing costume, who sat on his operating table, feet
crossed, convulsively hugging a book to the scarlet heart embroidered on
"I--hope you don't mind my sitting here," she managed to say. "I wanted
to watch the work."
"By all means," he said pleasantly. "Let me get you a chair----"
"No, thank you. I had rather sit th-this way. Please begin and don't mind
if I watch you."
The young man appeared to be perplexed.
"I'm afraid," he ventured, "that I may require that table for cutting
"Please--if you don't mind--begin to paste. I am in-intensely interested
in p-pasting--I like to w-watch p-paper p-pasted on a w-wall."
Her small teeth chattered in spite of her; she strove to control her
voice--strove to collect her wits.
He stood irresolute, rather astonished, too.
"I'm sorry," he said, "but----"
"_Please_ paste; won't you?" she asked.
"Why, I've got to have that table to paste on----"
"Then d-don't think of pasting. D-do anything else; cut out some strips.
I am so interested in watching p-paper hangers cut out things--"
"But I need the table for that, too----"
"No, you don't. You can't be a--a very skillful w-workman if you've got
to use your table for everything----"
[Illustration: "'I'm afraid', he ventured 'that I may require that table
He laughed. "You are quite right; I'm not a skillful paper hanger."
"Then," she said, "I am surprised that you came here to paper our
library, and I think you had better go back to your shop and send a
He laughed again. The paper hanger's youthful face was curiously
attractive when he laughed--and otherwise, more or less.
He said: "I came to paper this library because Mr. Carr was in a hurry,
and I was the only man in the shop. I didn't want to come. But they made
me.... I think they're rather afraid of Mr. Carr in the shop.... And this
work _must_ be finished today."
She did not know what to say; anything to keep him away from the table
until she could think clearly.
"W-why didn't you want to come?" she asked, fighting for time. "You said
you didn't want to come, didn't you?"
"Because," he said, smiling, "I don't like to hang wall paper."
"But if you are a paper hanger by trade----"
"I suppose you think me a real paper hanger?"
She was cautiously endeavoring to free one edge of her skirt; she nodded
absently, then subsided, crimsoning, as a faint tearing of cloth sounded.
"Go on," she said hurriedly; "the story of your career is _so_
interesting. You say you adore paper hanging----"
"No, I don't," he returned, chagrined. "I say I hate it."
"Why do you do it, then?"
"Because my father thinks that every son of his who finishes college
ought to be disciplined by learning a trade before he enters a
profession. My oldest brother, De Courcy, learned to be a blacksmith; my
next brother, Algernon, ran a bakery; and since I left Harvard I've been
slapping sheets of paper on people's walls----"
"Harvard?" she repeated, bewildered.
"Yes; I was 1907."
He looked down at his white overalls, smiling.
"Does that astonish you, Miss Carr?--you are Miss Carr, I suppose----"
"Sybilla--yes--we're--we're triplets," she stammered.
"The beauti--the--the Carr triplets! And you are one of them?" he
"Yes." Still bewildered, she sat there, looking at him. How
extraordinary! How strange to find a Harvard man pasting paper! Dire
misgivings flashed up within her.
"Who are you?" she asked tremulously. "Would you mind telling me your
name. It--it isn't--_George!_"
He looked up in pleased surprise:
"So you know who I am?"
"N-no. But--it isn't George--is it?"
"O-h!" she breathed. A sense of swimming faintness enveloped her: she
swayed; but an unmistakable ripping noise brought her suddenly to
"I am afraid you are tearing your skirt somehow," he said anxiously. "Let
The desperation of the negative approached violence, and he involuntarily
For a moment they faced one another; the flush died out on her cheeks.
"If," she said, "your name actually is George, this--this is the most--
the most terrible punishment--" She closed her eyes with her fingers as
though to shut out some monstrous vision.
"What," asked the amazed young man, "has my name to do with----"
Her hands dropped from her eyes; with horror she surveyed him, his paste-
spattered overalls, his dingy white cap, his dinner pail.
"I--I _won't_ marry you!" she stammered in white desperation. "I _won't!_
If you're not a paper hanger you look like one! I don't care whether
you're a Harvard man or not--whether you're playing at paper hanging or
not--whether your name is George or not--I won't marry you--I won't! I
With the feeling that his senses were rapidly evaporating the young man
sat down dizzily, and passed a paste-spattered but well-shaped hand
across his eyes.
Sybilla set her lips and looked at him.
"I don't suppose," she said, "that you understand what I am talking
about, but I've got to tell you at once; I can't stand this sort of
"W-what sort of thing?" asked the young man, feebly.
"Your being here in this house--with me----"
"I'll be very glad to go----"
"Wait! _That_ won't do any good! You'll come back!"
"N-no, I won't----"
"Yes, you will. Or I--I'll f-follow you----"
"One or the other! We can't help it, I tell you. _You_ don't understand,
but I do. And the moment I knew your name was George----"
"What the deuce has that got to do with anything?" he demanded, turning
red in spite of his amazement.
"Waves!" she said passionately, "psychic waves! I--somehow--knew that
he'd be named George----"
"Who'd be named George?"
"_He!_ The--man... And if I ever--if you ever expect me to--to c-care for
a man all over overalls----"
"But I don't--Good Heavens!--I don't expect you to care for--for
"Then why do you wear them?" she asked in tremulous indignation.
The young man, galvanized, sprang from his chair and began running about,
taking little, short, distracted steps. "Either," he said, "I need mental
treatment immediately, or I'll wake up toward morning.... I--don't know
what you're trying to say to me. I came here to--to p-paste----"
"That machine sent you!" she said. "The minute I got a spark you
"Do you think I'm a motor? Spark! Do you think I----"
"Yes, I do. You couldn't help it; I know it was my own fault, and this--
_this_ is the dreadful punishment--g-glued to a t-table top--with a man
"Yes," she said passionately, "everything disobedient I have done has
brought lightning retribution. I was forbidden to go into the laboratory;
I disobeyed and--you came to hang wall paper! I--I took a b-book--which I
had no business to take, and F-fate glues me to your horrid table and
holds me fast till a man named George comes in...."
Flushed, trembling, excited, she made a quick and dramatic gesture of
despair; and a ripping sound rent the silence.
"_Are you pasted to that table?_" faltered the young man, aghast.
"Yes, I am. And it's utterly impossible for you to aid me in the
slightest, except by pretending to ignore it."
"But you--you can't remain there!"
"I can't help remaining here," she said hotly, "until you go."
"Then I'd better----"
"No! You shall _not_ go! I--I won't have you go away--disappear somewhere
in the city. Certainty is dreadful enough, but it's better than the awful
suspense of knowing you are somewhere in the world, and are sure to come
"But I don't want to come back!" he exclaimed indignantly. "Why should I
wish to come back? Have I said--acted--done--looked--_Why_ should you
imagine that I have the slightest interest in anything or in--in--anybody
in this house?"
"No!... And I cannot ignore your--your amazing--and intensely
f-flattering fear that I have d-designs--that I desire--in other words,
that I--er--have dared to cherish impossible aspirations in connection
with a futile and absurd hope that one day you might possibly be induced
to listen to any tentative suggestion of mine concerning a matrimonial
He choked and turned a dull red.
She reddened, too, but said calmly:
"Thank you for putting it so nicely. But it is no use. Sooner or later
you and I will be obliged to consider a situation too hopeless to admit
"I can't see any situation--except your being glued--I _beg_ your
pardon!--but I must speak truthfully."
"So must I. Our case is too desperate for anything but plain and terrible
truths. And the truths are these: _I_ touched the forbidden machine and
got a spark; your name is George; _I'm_ glued here, unable to escape;
_you_ are not rude enough to go when I ask you not to.... And now--here--
in this room, you and I must face these facts and make up our minds....
For I simply _must_ know what I am to expect; I can't endure--I couldn't
live with this hanging over me----"
"_What_ hanging over you?"
He sprang to his feet, waving his dinner pail around in frantic circles:
"What is it, in Heaven's name, that is hanging over you?"
"Over _you_, too!"
"Certainly. Over us both. We are headed straight for m-marriage."
"T-to _each other?_"
"Of course," she said faintly. "Do you think I'd care whom you are going
to marry if it wasn't I? Do you think I'd discuss my own marital
intentions with you if you did not happen to be vitally concerned?"
"Do _you_ expect to marry _me?_" he gasped.
"I--I don't _want_ to: but I've got to."
He stood petrified for an instant, then with a wild look began to gather
up his tools.
She watched him with the sickening certainty that if he got away she
could never survive the years of suspense until his inevitable return. A
mad longing to get the worst over seized her. She knew the worst, knew
what Fate held for her. And she desired to get it over--have the worst
happen--and be left to live out the shattered remains of her life in
solitude and peace.
"If--if we've got to marry," she began unsteadily, "why not g-get it over
quickly--and then I don't mind if you go away."
She was quite mad: that was certain. He hastily flung some brushes into
his tool kit, then straightened up and gazed at her with deep compassion.
"Would you mind," she asked timidly, "getting somebody to come in and
marry us, and then the worst will be over, you see, and we need never,
never see each other again."
He muttered something soothing and began tying up some rolls of wall
"Won't you do what I ask?" she said pitifully. "I-I am almost afraid
that--if you go away without marrying me I could not live and endure
the--the certainty of your return."
He raised his head and surveyed her with deepest pity. Mad--quite mad!
And so young--so exquisite... so perfectly charming in body! And the mind
darkened forever.... How terrible! How strange, too; for in the pure-
lidded eyes he seemed to see the soft light of reason not entirely
Their eyes encountered, lingered; and the beauty of her gaze seemed to
stir him to the very wellspring of compassion.
"Would it make you any happier to believe--to know," he added hastily,
"that you and I were married?"
"Y-yes, I think so."
"Would you be quite happy to believe it?"
"Yes--if you call that happiness."
"And you would not be unhappy if I never returned?"
"Oh, no, no! I--that would make me--comparatively--happy!"
"To be married to me, and to know you would never again see me?"
"Yes. Will you?"
"Yes," he said soothingly. And yet a curious little throb of pain
flickered in his heart for a moment, that, mad as she undoubtedly was,
she should be so happy to be rid of him forever.
He came slowly across the room to the table on which she was sitting. She
drew back instinctively, but an ominous ripping held her.
"Are you going for a license and a--a clergyman?" she asked.
"Oh, no," he said gently, "that is not necessary. All we have to do is to
take each other's hands--so----"
She shrank back.
"You will have to let me take your hand," he explained.
She hesitated, looked at him fearfully, then, crimson, laid her slim
fingers in his.
The contact sent a quiver straight through him; he squared his shoulders
and looked at her.... Very, very far away it seemed as though he heard
his heart awaking heavily.
What an uncanny situation! Strange--strange--his standing here to humor
the mad whim of this stricken maid--this wonderfully sweet young
stranger, looking out of eyes so lovely that he almost believed the dead
intelligence behind them was quickening into life again.
"What must we do to be married?" she whispered.
"Say so; that is all," he answered gently. "Do you take me for your
"Yes.... Do you t-take me for your--wife?"
"Don't say _that_!... Is it--over?"
"All over," he said, forcing a gayety that rang hollow in the pathos of
the mockery and farce.... But he smiled to be kind to her; and, to make
the poor, clouded mind a little happier still, he took her hand again and
said very gently:
"Will it surprise you to know that you are now a princess?"
"A--_what?_" she asked sharply.
"A princess." He smiled benignly on her, and, still beaming, struck a not
"I," he said, "am the Crown Prince of Rumtifoo."
She stared at him without a word; gradually he lost countenance; a vague
misgiving stirred within him that he had rather overdone the thing.
"Of course," he began cheerfully, "I am an exile in disguise--er--
disinherited and all that, you know."
She continued to stare at him.
"Matters of state--er--revolution--and that sort of thing," he mumbled,
eying her; "but I thought it might gratify you to know that I am Prince
George of Rumtifoo----"
The silence was deadly.
"Do you know," she said deliberately, "that I believe you think I am
mentally unsound. _Do_ you?"
"I--you--" he began to stutter fearfully.
"W-well, either you or I----"
"Nonsense! I _thought_ that marriage ceremony was a miserably inadequate
affair!... And I am hurt--grieved--amazed that you should do such a--a
"What!" he exclaimed, stung to the quick.
"Yes, it is cowardly to deceive a woman."
"I meant it kindly--supposing----"
"That I am mentally unsound? Why do you suppose that?"
"Because--Good Heavens--because in this century, and in this city, people
who never before saw one another don't begin to talk of marrying----"
"I explained to you"--she was half crying now, and her voice broke
deliciously--"I told you what I'd done, didn't I?"
"You said you had got a spark," he admitted, utterly bewildered by her
tears. "Don't cry--please don't. Something is all wrong here--there is
some terrible misunderstanding. If you will only explain it to me----"
She dried her eyes mechanically: "Come here," she said. "I don't believe
I did explain it clearly."
And, very carefully, very minutely, she began to tell him about the
psychic waves, and the instrument, and the new company formed to exploit
it on a commercial basis.
She told him what had happened that morning to her; how her disobedience
had cost her so much misery. She informed him about her father, and that
florid and rotund gentleman's choleric character.
"If you are here when I tell him I'm married," she said, "he will
probably frighten you to death; and that's one of the reasons why I wish
to get it over and get you safely away before he returns. As for me, now
that I know the worst, I want to get the worst over and--and live out my
life quietly somewhere.... So now you see why I am in such a hurry, don't
He nodded as though stunned, leaning there on the table, hands folded,
"I am so very sorry--for you," she said. "I know how you must feel about
it. But if we are obliged to marry some time had we not better get it
over and then--never--see--one another----"
He lifted his head, then stood upright.
Her soft lips were mute, but the question still remained in her eyes.
So, for a long while, they looked at each other; and the color under his
cheekbones deepened, and the pink in her cheeks slowly became pinker.
"Suppose," he said, under his breath, "that I--wish--to return--to you?"
"_I_ do not wish it----"
"Try to--to wish for----"
"For my return. Try to wish that you also desire it. Will you?"
"If you are going to--to talk that way--" she stammered.
"Yes, I am."
"Is there any reason why I should not, if we are engaged?" he asked. "We
_are_--engaged, are we not?"
"Yes. Are we?"
"I--yes--if you call it----"
"I do.... And we are to be--married?" He could scarcely now speak the
word which but a few moments since he pronounced so easily; for a totally
new significance attached itself to every word he uttered.
"Are we?" he repeated.
"Then--if I--if I find that I----"
"Don't say it," she whispered. She had turned quite white.
"Will you listen----"
"No. It--it isn't true--it cannot be."
"It is coming truer every moment.... It is very, very true--even now....
It is almost true.... And now it has come true. Sybilla!"
White, dismayed, she gazed at him, her hands instinctively closing her
ears. But she dropped them as he stepped forward.
"I love you, Sybilla. I wish to marry you.... Will you try to care for
"I couldn't--I can't even try----"
He had her hands now; she twisted them free; he caught them again. Over
their interlocked hands she bowed her head, breathless, cheeks aflame,
seeking to cover her eyes.
"Will you love me, Sybilla?"
She struggled silently, desperately.
"No.... Let me go----"
"Don't cry--please, dear--" His head, bowed beside hers over their
clasped hands, was more than she could endure; but her upflung face,
seeking escape, encountered his. There was a deep, indrawn breath, a sob,
and she lay, crying her heart out, in his arms.
* * * * *
It is curious how quickly one recognizes unfamiliar forms of address.
"You won't cry any more, will you?" he whispered.
"N-n-o," sighed Sybilla.
"Because we _do_ love each other, don't we?"
"Y-yes, George." Then, radiant, yet sweetly shamed, confident, yet
fearful, she lifted her adorable head from his shoulder.
"George," she said, "I am beginning to think that I'd like to get off
"You poor darling!"
"And," she continued, "if you will go home and change your overalls for
something more conventional, you shall come and dine with us this
evening, and I will be waiting for you in the drawing-room.... And,
George, although some of your troubles are now over----"
"All of them, dearest!" he cried with enthusiasm.
"No," she said tenderly, "you are yet to meet Pa-_pah_."
GENTLEMEN OF THE PRESS
_A Chapter Concerning Drusilla, Pa-pah and a Minion_
Capital had now been furnished for The Green Mouse, Limited; a great
central station of white marble was being built, facing Madison Avenue
and occupying the entire block front between Eighty-second and Eighty-
The building promised to be magnificent; the plans provided for a
thousand private operating rooms, each beautifully furnished in Louis XVI
style, a restaurant, a tea room, a marriage licence bureau, and an
emergency chapel where first aid clergymen were to be always in
In each of the thousand Louis XVI operating rooms a Destyn-Carr wireless
instrument was to stand upon a rococo table. A maid to every two rooms, a
physician to every ten, and smelling salts to each room, were provided
for in this gigantic enterprise.
Millions of circulars were being prepared to send broadcast over the
United States. They read as follows:
ARE YOU IN LOVE? IF NOT, WHY NOT?
Wedlock by Wireless. Marriage by Machinery. A Wondrous Wooer Without
Words! No more doubt; no more hesitation; no more uncertainty. The
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Guaranteed or money eagerly refunded!
Psychical Science says that for every man and woman on earth there is a
That mate can be discovered for you by The Green Mouse, Limited.
Why waste time with costly courtship? Why frivol? Why fuss?
There is only ONE mate created for YOU. You pay us; We find that ONE,
thereby preventing mistakes, lawsuits, elopements, regrets, grouches,
Divorce Absolutely Eliminated
By Our Infallible Wireless Method
It is now known the world over that Professor William Augustus Destyn has
discovered that the earth we live on is enveloped in Psychical Currents.
By the Destyn-Carr instrument these currents may be tapped, controlled
and used to communicate between two people of opposite sex whose
subconscious and psychic personalities are predestined to affinity and
amorous accord. In other words, when psychic waves from any individual
are collected or telegraphed along these wireless psychical currents,
only that one affinity attuned to receive them can properly respond.
_We catch your psychic waves for you. We send them out into the world._
WATCH THAT SPARK!
When you see a tiny bluish-white spark tip the tentacle of the Destyn-
THE WORLD IS YOURS!
Our method is quick, painless, merciful and certain. Fee, twenty-five
dollars in advance. Certified checks accepted.
THE GREEN MOUSE, Limited.
President PROF. WM. AUGUSTUS DESTYN.
Vice-Presidents THE HON. KILLIAN VAN K. VANDERDYNK.
THE HON. GEORGE GRAY, 3D.
Treasurer THE HON. BUSHWYCK CARR.
These circulars were composed, illuminated and printed upon vellum by
what was known as an "Art" community in West Borealis, N.J. Several tons
were expected for delivery early in June.
Meanwhile, the Carr family and its affiliations had invested every cent
they possessed in Green Mouse, Limited; and those who controlled the
stock were Bushwyck Carr; William Augustus Destyn and Mrs. Destyn, nee
Ethelinda Carr; Mr. Killian Van K. Vanderdynk and Mrs. Vanderdynk, nee
Sacharissa Carr; George Gray and Mrs. Gray, very lately Sybilla Carr; and
the unmarried triplets, Flavilla and Drusilla Carr.
Remembering with a shudder how Bell Telephone and Standard Oil might once
have been bought for a song, Bushwyck Carr determined that in this case
his pudgy fingers should not miss the forelock of Time and the divided
skirts of Chance.
Squinting at the viewless ether through his monocle he beheld millions in
it; so did William Augustus Destyn and the other sons-in-law.
Only the unmarried triplets, Flavilla and Drusilla, remained amiably
indifferent in the midst of all these family financial scurryings and
preparations to secure world patents in a monopoly which promised the
social regeneration of the globe.
The considerable independent fortunes that their mother had left them
they invested in Green Mouse, at their father's suggestion; but further
than that they took no part in the affair.
For a while the hurry and bustle and secret family conferences mildly
interested them. Very soon, however, the talk of psychic waves and
millions bored them; and as soon as the villa at Oyster Bay was opened
they were glad enough to go.
Here, at Oyster Bay, there was some chance of escaping their money-mad
and wave-intoxicated family; they could entertain and be entertained by
both of the younger sets in that dignified summer resort; they could
wander about their own vast estate alone; they could play tennis, sail,
swim, ride, and drive their tandem.
But best of all--for they were rather seriously inclined at the age of
eighteen, or, rather, on the verge of nineteen--they adored sketching, in
water colors, out of doors.
Scrubby forelands set with cedars, shadow-flecked paths under the scrub
oak, meadows where water glimmered, white sails off Center Island and
Cooper's Bluff--Cooper's Bluff from the north, northeast, east,
southeast, south--this they painted with never-tiring, Pecksniffian
patience, boxing the compass around it as enthusiastically as that
immortal architect circumnavigated Salisbury Cathedral.
And one delicious morning in early June, when the dew sparkled on the
poison ivy and the air was vibrant with the soft monotone of mosquitoes
and the public road exhaled a delicate aroma of crude oil, Drusilla and
Flavilla, laden with sketching-blocks, color-boxes, camp-stools, white
umbrellas and bonbons, descended to the great hall, on sketching bent.
Mr. Carr also stood there, just outside on the porch, red, explosive,
determined legs planted wide apart, defying several courtly reporters,
who for a month had patiently and politely appeared every hour to learn
whether Mr. Carr had anything to say about the new invention, rumors of
which were flying thick about Park Row.
"No, I haven't!" he shouted in his mellow and sonorously musical bellow.
"I have told you one hundred times that when I have anything to say I'll
send for you. Now, permit me to inform you, for the hundred and first
consecutive time, that I have nothing to say--which won't prevent you
from coming back in an hour and standing in exactly the same ridiculous
position you now occupy, and asking me exactly the same unmannerly
questions, and taking the same impertinent snapshots at my house and my
He executed a ferocious facial contortion, clapped the monocle into his
left eye, and squinted fiercely.
"I'm getting tired of this!" he continued. "When I wake in the morning
and look out of my window there are always anywhere from one to twenty
reporters decorating my lawn! That young man over there is the worst and
most persistent offender!"--scowling at a good-looking youth in white
flannels, who immediately blushed distressingly. "Yes, you are, young
man! I'm amazed that you have the decency to blush! Your insolent sheet,
the Evening Star, refers to my Trust Company as a Green Mouse Trap and a
_Mouse_leum. It also publishes preposterous pictures of myself and
family. Dammit, sir, they even produce a photograph of Orlando, the
family cat! You did it, I am told. Did you?"
"I am trying to do what I can for my paper, Mr. Carr," said the young
man. "The public is interested."
Mr. Carr regarded him with peculiar hatred.
"Come here," he said; "I _have_ got something to say to _you_."
The young man cautiously left the ranks of his fellows and came up on the
porch. Behind Mr. Carr, in the doorway, stood Drusilla and Flavilla. The
young man tried not to see them; he pretended not to. But he flushed
"I want to know," demanded Mr. Carr, "why the devil you are always around
here blushing. You've been around here blushing for a month, and I want
to know why you do it."
The youth stood speechless, features afire to the tips of his glowing
"At first," continued Mr. Carr, mercilessly, "I had a vague hope that you
might perhaps be blushing for shame at your profession; I heard that you
were young at it, and I was inclined to be sorry for you. But I'm not
sorry any more!"
The young man remained crimson and dumb.
"Confound it," resumed Mr. Carr, "I want to know why the deuce you come
and blush all over my lawn. I won't stand it! I'll not allow anybody to
come blushing around me----"
Indignation choked him; he turned on his heel to enter the house and
beheld Flavilla and Drusilla regarding him, wide-eyed.
He went in, waving them away before him.
"I've taught that young pup a lesson," he said with savage satisfaction.
"I'll teach him to blush at me! I'll----"
"But why," asked Drusilla, "are you so cruel to Mr. Yates? We like him."
"Mr.--Mr. _Yates!_" repeated her father, astonished. "Is that his name?
And who told _you?_"
"He did," said Drusilla, innocently.
"He--that infernal newspaper bantam----"
"Pa-_pah!_ Please don't say that about Mr. Yates. He is really
exceedingly kind and civil to us. Every time you go to town on business
he comes and sketches with us at----"
"Oh," said Mr. Carr, with the calm of deadly fury, "so he goes to
Cooper's Bluff with you when I'm away, does he?"
Flavilla said: "He doesn't exactly go with us; but he usually comes there
to sketch. He makes sketches for his newspaper."
"Does he?" asked her father, grinding his teeth.
"Yes," said Drusilla; "and he sketches so beautifully. He made such
perfectly charming drawings of Flavilla and of me, and he drew pictures
of the house and gardens, and of all the servants, and"--she laughed--"I
once caught a glimpse in his sketch-book of the funniest caricature of
The expression on her father's face was so misleading in its terrible
calm that she laughed again, innocently.
"It was not at all an offensive caricature, you know--really it was not a
caricature at all--it was _you_--just the way you stand and look at
people when you are--slightly--annoyed----"
"Oh, he is so clever," chimed in Flavilla, "and is so perfectly well-bred
and so delightful to us--to Drusilla particularly. He wrote the prettiest
set of verses--To Drusilla in June--just dashed them off while he was
watching her sketch Cooper's Bluff from the southwest----"
"He is really quite wonderful," added Drusilla, sincerely, "and so
generous and helpful when my drawing becomes weak and wobbly----"
"Mr. Yates shows Drusilla how to hold her pencil," said Flavilla,
becoming warmly earnest in her appreciation of this self-sacrificing
young man. "He often lays aside his own sketching and guides Drusilla's
hand while she holds the pencil----"
"And when I'm tired," said Drusilla, "and the water colors get into a
dreadful mess, Mr. Yates will drop his own work and come and talk to me
about art--and other things----"
"He is _so_ kind!" cried Flavilla in generous enthusiasm.
"And _so_ vitally interesting," said Drusilla.
"And so talented!" echoed Flavilla.
"And so--" Drusilla glanced up, beheld something in the fixed stare of
her parent that frightened her, and rose in confusion. "Have I said--
done--anything?" she faltered.
With an awful spasm Mr. Carr jerked his congested features into the
ghastly semblance of a smile.
"Not at all," he managed to say. "This is very interesting--what you tell
me about this p-pu--this talented young man. Does he--does he seem--
attracted toward you--unusually attracted?"
"Yes," said Drusilla, smiling reminiscently.
"How do you know?"
"Because he once said so."
"Why, he said quite frankly that he thought me the most delightful girl
he had ever met."
"What--else?" Mr. Carr's voice was scarcely audible.
"Nothing," said Drusilla; "except that he said he cared for me very much
and wished to know whether I ever could care very much for him.... I told
him I thought I could. Flavilla told him so, too.... And we all felt
rather happy, I think; at least I did."
Her parent emitted a low, melodious sort of sound, a kind of mellifluous
"Pa-pah!" they exclaimed in gentle consternation.
He beat at the empty air for a moment like a rotund fowl about to seek
its roost. Suddenly he ran distractedly at an armchair and kicked it.
They watched him in sorrowful amazement.
"If we are going to sketch Cooper's Bluff this morning," observed
Drusilla to Flavilla, "I think we had better go--quietly--by way of the
kitchen garden. Evidently Pa-pah does not care for Mr. Yates."
Orlando, the family cat, strolled in, conciliatory tail hoisted. Mr. Carr
hurled a cushion at Orlando, then beat madly upon his own head with both
hands. Servants respectfully gave him room; some furniture was
overturned--a chair or two--as he bounced upward and locked and bolted
himself in his room.
What transports of fury he lived through there nobody else can know; what
terrible visions of vengeance lit up his outraged intellect, what cold
intervals of quivering hate, what stealthy schemes of reprisal, what
awful retribution for young Mr. Yates were hatched in those dreadful
moments, he alone could tell. And as he never did tell, how can I know?
However, in about half an hour his expression of stony malignity changed
to a smile so cunningly devilish that, as he caught sight of himself in
the mirror, his corrugated countenance really startled him.
"I must smooth out--smooth out!" he muttered. "Smoothness does it!" And
he rang for a servant and bade him seek out a certain Mr. Yates among the
throng of young men who had been taking snapshots.
_During Which Chapter Mr. Carr Sings and One of His Daughters Takes her
Mr. Yates came presently, ushered by Ferdinand, and looking extremely
worried. Mr. Carr received him in his private office with ominous
"Mr. Yates," he said, forcing a distorted smile, "I have rather abruptly
decided to show you exactly how one of the Destyn-Carr instruments is
supposed to work. Would you kindly stand here--close by this table?"
Mr. Yates, astounded, obeyed.
"Now," said Mr. Carr, with a deeply creased smile, "here is the famous
Destyn-Carr apparatus. That's quite right--take a snapshot at it without
"Quite right, my boy; I intend you shall know all about it. You see it
resembles the works of a watch.... Now, when I touch this spring the
receiver opens and gathers in certain psychic waves which emanate from
the subconscious personality of--well, let us say you, for example!...
And now I touch this button. You see that slender hairspring of Rosium
uncurl and rise, trembling and waving about like a tentacle?"
Young Yates, notebook in hand, recovered himself sufficiently to nod. Mr.
Carr leered at him:
"That tentacle," he explained, "is now seeking some invisible, wireless,
psychic current along which it is to transmit the accumulated psychic
waves. As soon as the wireless current finds the subconscious personality
of the woman you are destined to love and marry some day----"
"I?" exclaimed young Yates, horrified.
"Yes, you. Why not? Do you mind my trying it on you?"
"But I am already in love," protested the young man, turning, as usual, a
ready red. "I don't care to have you try it on me. Suppose that machine
should connect me with--some other--girl----"
"It has!" cried Carr with a hideous laugh as a point of bluish-white fire
tipped the tentacle for an instant. "You're tied fast to something
feminine! Probably a flossy typewriter--or a burlesque actress--somebody
you're fitted for, anyway!" He clapped on his monocle, and glared
gleefully at the stupefied young man.
"That will teach you to enter my premises and hold my daughter's hand
when she is drawing innocent pictures of Cooper's Bluff!" he shouted.
"That will teach you to write poems to my eighteen-year-old daughter,
Drusilla; that will teach you to tell her you are in love with her--you
"I am in love with her!" said Yates, undaunted; but he was very white
when he said it. "I do love her; and if you had behaved halfway decently
I'd have told you so two weeks ago!"
Mr. Carr turned a delicate purple, then, recovering, laughed horribly.
"Whether or not you were once in love with my daughter is of no
consequence now. That machine has nullified your nonsense! That
instrument has found you your proper affinity--doubtless below stairs----"
"I _am_ still in love with Drusilla," repeated Yates, firmly.
"I tell you, you're not!" retorted Carr. "Didn't I turn that machine on
you? It has never missed yet! The Green Mouse has got _you_ in the
"You are mistaken," insisted Yates, still more firmly. "I was in love
with your daughter Drusilla before you started the machine; and I love
her yet! Now! At the present time! This very instant I am loving her!"
"You can't!" shouted Carr.
"Yes, I can. And I do!"
"No, you don't! I tell you it's a scientific and psychical impossibility
for you to continue to love her! Your subconscious personality is now in
eternal and irrevocable accord and communication with the subconscious
personality of some chit of a girl who is destined to love and marry you!
And she's probably a ballet-girl, at that!"
"I shall marry Drusilla!" retorted the young man, very pale; "because I
am quite confident that she loves me, though very probably she doesn't
know it yet."
"You talk foolishness!" hissed Carr. "This machine has settled the whole
matter! Didn't you see that spark?"
"I saw a spark--yes!"
"And do you mean to tell me you are not beginning to feel queer?"
"Not in the slightest."
"Look me squarely in the eye, young man, and tell me whether you do not
have a sensation as though your heart were cutting capers?"
"Not in the least," said Yates, calmly. "If that machine worked at all it
wouldn't surprise me if you yourself had become entangled in it--caught
in your own machine!"
"W-what!" exclaimed Carr, faintly.
"It wouldn't astonish me in the slightest," repeated Yates, delighted to
discover the dawning alarm in the older man's features. "_You_ opened the
receiver; _you_ have psychic waves as well as I. _I_ was in love at the
time; _you_ were not. What was there to prevent your waves from being
hitched to a wireless current and, finally, signaling the subconscious
personality of--of some pretty actress, for example?"
Mr. Carr sank nervously onto a chair; his eyes, already wild, became
wilder as he began to realize the risk he had unthinkingly taken.
"Perhaps _you_ feel a little--queer. You look it," suggested the young
man, in a voice made anxious by an ever-ready sympathy. "Can I do
anything? I am really very sorry to have spoken so."
A damp chill gathered on the brow of Bushwyck Carr. He _did_ feel a
trifle queer. A curious lightness--a perfectly inexplicable buoyancy
seemed to possess him. He was beginning to feel strangely youthful; the
sound of his own heart suddenly became apparent. To his alarm it was
beating playfully, skittishly. No--it was not even beating; it was
"Y-Yates," he stammered, "you don't think that I could p-possibly have
become inadvertently mixed up with that horrible machine--do you?"
Now Yates was a generous youth; resentment at the treatment meted out to
him by this florid, bad-tempered and pompous gentleman changed to
instinctive sympathy when he suddenly realized the plight his future
father-in-law might now be in.
"Yates," repeated Mr. Carr in an agitated voice, "tell me honestly: _do_
you think there is anything unusual the matter with me? I--I seem to
f-feel unusually--young. Do I look it? Have I changed? W-watch me while
I walk across the room."
Mr. Carr arose with a frightened glance at Yates, put on his hat, and
fairly pranced across the room. "Great Heavens!" he faltered; "my hat's
on one side and my walk is distinctly jaunty! Do you notice it, Yates?"
"I'm afraid I do, Mr. Carr."
"This--this is infamous!" gasped Mr. Carr. "This is--is outrageous! I'm
forty-five! I'm a widower! I detest a jaunty widower! I don't want to be
one; I don't want to----"
Yates gazed at him with deep concern.
"Can't you help lifting your legs that way when you walk--as though a
band were playing? Wait, I'll straighten your hat. Now try it again."
Mr. Carr pranced back across the room.
"I _know_ I'm doing it again," he groaned, "but I can't help it! I--I
feel so gay--dammit!--so frivolous--it's--it's that infernal machine.
W-what am I to do, Yates," he added piteously, "when the world looks
so good to me?"
"Think of your family!" urged Yates. "Think of--of Drusilla."
"Do you know," observed Carr, twirling his eyeglass and twisting his
mustache, "that I'm beginning not to care what my family think!... Isn't
it amazing, Yates? I--I seem to be somebody else, several years younger.
Somewhere," he added, with a flourish of his monocle--"somewhere on earth
there is a little birdie waiting for me."
"Don't talk that way!" exclaimed Yates, horrified.
"Yes, I will, young man. I repeat, with optimism and emphasis, that
_somewhere_ there is a birdie----"
"Yes, merry old Top!"
"May I use your telephone?"