Part 2 out of 5
Bayard was to be his companion, and with
some effort and a few indistinct words he gave
her his arm. She asked if he was ill, and when
a shake of the head answered the query, she
covered the few minutes of his disconcertion
with her conversation. He looked at her
gratefully and gathered his personality together.
For Love had come to him like a two-
edged sword, dividing the flesh and the spirit,
and he longed to cry aloud and relieve the
sweet torture of the possession.
Reaction, however, came quickly, and with
it a wonderful access of all his powers. The
sweet, strong wine of Love went to his brain
like celestial nectar. All the witty, amusing
things he had ever heard came trooping into
his memory, and the dinner was long delayed
by his fine humor, his pleasant anecdotes, and
the laughing thoughts which others caught up
and illustrated in their own way.
It was a feast full of good things, but its
spirit was not able to bear transition. The
company scattered quickly when it was over
to the opera or theater or to the rest of a quiet
evening at home, for at the end enthusiasm
of any kind has a chilling effect on the feelings.
None of the party understood this result,
and yet all were, in their way, affected
by the sudden fall of mental temperature.
Mr. Denning went to his library and took out
his private ledger, a penitential sort of reading
which he relished after moods of any kind
of enjoyment. Mrs. Denning selected Ethel
Rawdon for her text of disillusion. She
"thought Ethel had been a little jealous of
Dora's dress," and Dora said, "It was one
of her surprises, and Ethel thought she
ought to know everything." "You are too
obedient to Ethel," continued Mrs. Denning
and Dora looked with a charming demureness
at her lover, and said, "She had to be
obedient to some one wiser than herself," and
so slipped her hand into Basil's hand. And
he understood the promise, and with a look
of passionate affection raised the little
jeweled pledge and kissed it.
Perhaps no one was more affected by this
chill, critical after-hour than Miss Bayard
and Ethel. Mostyn accompanied them home,
but he was depressed, and his courtesy had
the air of an obligation. He said he had a
sudden headache, and was not sorry when the
ladies bid him "good night" on the threshold.
Indeed, he felt that he must have refused
any invitation to lengthen out the
hours with them or anybody. He wanted
one thing, and he wanted that with all his
soul--solitude, that he might fill it with
images of Dora, and with passionate promises
that either by fair means or by foul, by
right or by wrong, he would win the bewitching
woman for his wife.
"WHAT do you think of the evening, Aunt
Ruth?" Ethel was in her aunt's room, comfortably
wrapped in a pink kimono, when she
asked this question.
"What do you think of it, Ethel?"
"I am not sure."
"The dinner was well served."
"Yes. Who was the little dark man you
talked with, aunt?"
"He was a Mr. Marriot, a banker, and a
friend of Bryce Denning's. He is a fresh
addition to society, I think. He had the
word `gold' always on his lips; and he believes
in it as good men believe in God. The
general conversation annoyed him; he could
not understand men being entertained by it."
"They were, though, for once Jamie Sayer
forgot to talk about his pictures."
"Is that the name of your escort?"
"And is he an artist?"
"A second-rate one. He is painting
Dora's picture, and is a great favorite of
"A strange, wild-looking man. When I
saw him first he was lying, dislocated, over
his ottoman rather than sitting on it."
"Oh, that is a part of his affectations.
He is really a childish, self-conscious creature,
with a very decided dash of vulgarity.
He only tries to look strange and wild, and
he would be delighted if he knew you had
thought him so."
"I was glad to see Claudine Jeffrys. How
slim and graceful she is! And, pray, who is
that Miss Ullman?"
"A very rich woman. She has Bryce
under consideration. Many other men have
been in the same position, for she is sure they
all want her money and not her. Perhaps
she is right. I saw you talking to her, aunt."
"For a short time. I did not enjoy her
company. She is so mercilessly realistic, she
takes all the color out of life. Everything
about her, even her speech, is sharp-lined as
the edge of a knife. She could make Bryce's
life very miserable."
"Perhaps it might turn out the other way.
Bryce Denning has capacities in the same
line. How far apart, how far above every
man there, stood Basil Stanhope!"
"He is strikingly handsome and graceful,
and I am sure that his luminous serenity does
not arise from apathy. I should say he was
a man of very strong and tender feelings."
"And he gives all the strength and tenderness
of his feelings to Dora. Men are strange
"Who directed Dora's dress this evening?"
"Herself or her maid. I had nothing to
do with it. The effect was stunning."
"Fred thought so. In fact, Fred Hostyn----"
"Fell in love with her."
"Exactly. `Fell,' that is the word--fell
prostrate. Usually the lover of to-day walks
very timidly and carefully into the condition,
step by step, and calculating every step before
he takes it. Fred plunged headlong into
the whirling vortex. I am very sorry. It is
"I never witnessed the accident before. I
have heard of men getting wounds and falls,
and developing new faculties in consequence,
but we saw the phenomenon take place this
"Love, if it be love, is known in a moment.
man who never saw the sun before would
know it was the sun. In Fred's case it was
an instantaneous, impetuous passion, flaming
up at the sight of such unexpected beauty--
a passion that will probably fade as rapidly
as it rose."
"Fred is not that kind of a man, aunt. He
does not like every one and everything, but
whoever or whatever he does like becomes a
lasting part of his life. Even the old chairs
and tables at Mostyn are held as sacred
objects by him, though I have no doubt an
American girl would trundle them off to the
garret. It is the same with the people. He
actually regards the Rawdons as belonging in
some way to the Mostyns; and I do not believe
he has ever been in love before."
"He was so surprised by the attack. If
it had been the tenth or twentieth time he
would have taken it more philosophically;
besides, if he had ever loved any woman, he
would have gone on loving her, and we should
have known all about her perfections by this
"Dora is nearly a married woman, and
Mostyn knows it."
"Nearly may make all the difference.
When Dora is married he will be compelled
to accept the inevitable and make the best of
"When Dora is married he will idealize
her, and assure himself that her marriage is
the tragedy of both their lives."
"Dora will give him no reason to suppose
such a thing. I am sure she will not. She is
too much in love with Mr. Stanhope to notice
any other lover."
"You are mistaken, Ethel. Swiftly as
Fred was vanquished she noticed it, and many
times--once even while leaning on Mr. Stanhope's
arm--she turned the arrow in the
heart wound with sweet little glances and
smiles, and pretty appeals to the blind adoration
of her new lover. It was, to me, a humiliating
spectacle. How could she do it?"
"I am sure Dora meant no wrong. It is
so natural for a lovely girl to show off a
little. She will marry and forget Fred Mostyn
"And Fred will forget?"
"Fred will not forget."
"Then I shall be very sorry for your father
"What have they to do with Fred marrying?"
"A great deal. Fred has been so familiar
and homely the last two or three weeks, that
they have come to look upon him as a future
member of the family. It has been `Cousin
Ethel' and `Aunt Ruth' and even `grandmother'
and `Cousin Fred,' and no objections
have been made to the use of such personal
terms. I think your father hopes for a
closer tie between you and Fred Mostyn than
"Whatever might have been is over. Do
you imagine I could consent to be the secondary
deity, to come after Dora--Dora of
all the girls I have ever known? The idea is
an insult to my heart and my intelligence.
Nothing on earth could make me submit to
such an indignity."
"I do not suppose, Ethel, that any wife is
the first object of her husband's love."
"At least they tell her she is so, swear it
an inch deep; and no woman is fool enough to
look beyond that oath, but when she is sure
that she is a second best! AH! That is not a
position I will ever take in any man's heart
"Of course, Fred Mostyn will have to
"Of course, he will make a duty of the
event. The line of Mostyns must be continued.
England might go to ruin if the Mostyns
perished off the English earth; but,
Aunt Ruth, I count myself worthy of a better
fate than to become a mere branch in the
genealogical tree of the Mostyns. And that
is all Fred Mostyn's wife will ever be to him,
unless he marries Dora."
"But that very supposition implies tragedy,
and it is most unlikely."
"Yes, for Dora is a good little thing. She
has never been familiar with vice. She has
even a horror of poor women divorced from
impossible husbands. She believes her marriage
will be watched by the angels, and
recorded in heaven. Basil has instructed her
to regard marriage as a holy sacrament, and
I am sure he does the same."
"Then why should we forecast evil to their
names? As for Cousin Fred, I dare say he is
"I am sure he is not. I believe he is
smoking and calling himself names for not
having come to New York last May, when
father first invited him. Had he done so
things might have been different."
"Yes, they might. When Good Fortune
calls, and the called `will not when they may,'
then, `when they will' Good Fortune has become
Misfortune. Welcome a pleasure or a
gain at once, or don't answer it at all. It was
on this rock, Ethel, the bark that carried my
love went to pieces. I know; yes, I know!"
"My dear aunt!"
"It is all right now, dear; but things might
have been that are not. As to Dora, I think
she may be trusted with Basil Stanhope. He
is one of the best and handsomest men I ever
saw, and he has now rights in Dora's love no
one can tamper with. Mostyn is an honorable
"All right, but--
"Love will venture in,
Where he daurna well be seen;
O Love will venture in,
Where Wisdom once has been--
and then, aunt, what then?"
PLAYING WITH FIRE
THE next day after lunch Ethel said she
was going to walk down to Gramercy Park
and spend an hour or two with her grandmother,
and "Will you send the carriage for
me at five o'clock?" she asked.
"Your father has ordered the carriage to
be at the Holland House at five o'clock. It
can call for you first, and then go to the
Holland House. But do not keep your father
waiting. If he is not at the entrance give
your card to the outside porter; he will have
it sent up to Fred's apartments."
"Then father is calling on Fred? What
for? Is he sick?"
"Oh, no, business of some kind. I hope
you will have a pleasant walk."
"There is no doubt of it."
Indeed, she was radiant with its exhilaration
when she reached Gramercy Park. As
she ran up the steps of the big, old-fashioned
house she saw Madam at the window
picking up some dropped stitches in her knitting.
Madam saw her at the same moment,
and the old face and the young face both alike
kindled with love, as well as with happy anticipation
of coveted intercourse.
"I am so glad to see you, darling Granny.
I could not wait until to-morrow."
"And why should you, child? I have been
watching for you all morning. I want to hear
about the Denning dinner. I suppose you
"Yes, we went; we had to. Dinners in
strange houses are a common calamity; I
can't expect to be spared what everyone has
"Don't be affected, Ethel. You like going
out to dinner. Of course, you do! It is only
"I don't, Granny. I like dances and theaters
and operas, but I don't like dinners.
However, the Denning dinner was a grand
exception. It gave me and the others a sensation."
"I expected that."
"It was beautifully ordered. Major-domo
Parkinson saw to that. If he had arranged
it for his late employer, the Duke of Richmond,
it could not have been finer. There
was not a break anywhere."
"How many were present?"
"Just a dozen."
"Mr. Denning and Bryce, of course.
Who were the others?"
"Mr. Stanhope, of course. Granny, he
wore his clerical dress. It made him look so
"He did right. A clergyman ought to look
different from other men. I do not believe
Basil Stanhope, having assumed the dress of
a servant of God, would put it off one hour
for any social exigency. Why should he? It
is a grander attire than any military or naval
uniform, and no court dress is comparable,
for it is the court dress of the King of kings."
"All right, dear Granny; you always make
things clear to me, yet I meet lots of clergymen
in evening dress."
"Then they ought not to be clergymen.
They ought not to wear coats in which they
can hold any kind of opinions. Who was your
"I never heard of the man."
"He is an artist, and is painting Dora's
likeness. He is getting on now, but in the
past, like all artists, he has suffered a deal."
"God's will be done. Let them suffer.
It is good for genius to suffer. Is he in love
"Gracious, Granny! His head is so full
of pictures that no woman could find room
there, and if one did, the next new picture
would crowd her out."
"End that story, it is long enough."
"Do you know Miss Ullman?"
"I have heard of her. Who has not?"
"She has Bryce Denning on trial now.
If he marries her I shall pity him."
"Pity him! Not I, indeed! He would
have his just reward. Like to like, and
Amen to it."
"Then there was Claudine Jeffrys, looking
quite ethereal, but very lovely."
"I know. Her lover was killed in Cuba,
and she has been the type of faithful grief
ever since. She looks it and dresses it to
"And feels it?"
"Perhaps she does. I am not skilled in the
feelings of pensive, heart-broken maidens.
But her case is a very common one. Lovers
are nowhere against husbands, yet how many
thousands of good women lose their husbands
every year? If they are poor, they
have to hide their grief and work for them-
selves and their families; if they are rich,
very few people believe that they are really
sorry to be widows. Are any poor creatures
more jeered at than widows? No man believes
they are grieving for the loss of their
husbands. Then why should they all sympathize
with Claudine about the loss of a
"Perhaps lovers are nicer than husbands."
"Pretty much all alike. I have known a
few good husbands. Your grandfather was
one, your father another. But you have said
nothing about Fred. Did he look handsome?
Did he make a sensation? Was he a cousin
to be proud of?"
"Indeed, Granny, Fred was the whole
party. He is not naturally handsome, but he
has distinction, and he was well-dressed. And
I never heard anyone talk as he did. He told
the most delightful stories, he was full of
mimicry and wit, and said things that brought
everyone into the merry talk; and I am sure
he charmed and astonished the whole party.
Mr. Denning asked me quietly afterwards
`what university he was educated at.' I
think he took it all as education, and had
some wild ideas of finishing Bryce in a similar
Madam was radiant. "I told you so,"
she said proudly. "The Mostyns have intellect
as well as land. There are no stupid
Mostyns. I hope you asked him to play. I
think his way of handling a piano would have
taught them a few things Russians and Poles
know nothing about. Poor things! How can
they have any feelings left?"
"There was no piano in the room, Granny,
and the company separated very soon after
"Somehow you ought to have managed it,
Ethel." Then with a touch of anxiety, "I
hope all this cleverness was natural--I mean,
I hope it wasn't champagne. You know,
Ethel, we think as we drink, and Fred isn't
used to those frisky wines. Mostyn cellars
are full of old sherry and claret, and Fred's
father was always against frothing, sparkling
"Granny, it was all Fred. Wine had
nothing to do with it, but a certain woman
had; in fact, she was the inspirer, and Fred
fell fifty fathoms deep in love with her the
very moment she entered the room. He heard
not, felt not, thought not, so struck with love
was he. Ruth got him to a window for a few
moments and so hid his emotion until he could
get himself together."
"Oh, what a tale! What a cobweb tale! I
don't believe a word of it," and she laughed
" 'Tis true as gospel, Granny."
"Name her, then. Who was the woman?"
"It is beyond belief, above belief, out of
all reason. It cannot be, and it shall not be,
and if you are making up a story to tease
me, Ethel Rawdon----"
"Grandmother, let me tell you just how it
came about. We were all in the room waiting
for Dora, and she suddenly entered. She
was dressed in soft amber silk from head to
feet; diamonds were in her black hair, and on
the bands across her shoulders, on her corsage,
on her belt, her hands, and even her
slippers. Under the electric lights she looked
as if she was in a golden aura, scintillating
with stars. She took Fred's breath away.
He was talking to Ruth, and he could not
finish the word he was saying. Ruth thought
he was going to faint----"
"Don't tell me such nonsense."
"Well, grandmother, this nonsense is
truth. As I said before, Ruth took him aside
until he got control of himself; then, as he
was Dora's escort, he had to go to her. Ruth
introduced them, and as she raised her soft,
black eyes to his, and put her hand on his
arm, something happened again, but this time
it was like possession. He was the courtier
in a moment, his eyes flashed back her glances,
he gave her smile for smile, and then when
they were seated side by side he became inspired
and talked as I have told you. It is
the truth, grandmother."
"Well, there are many different kinds of
fools, but Fred Mostyn is the worst I ever
heard tell of. Does he not know that the girl
"Knows it as well as I do."
"None of our family were ever fools before,
and I hope Fred will come round quickly.
Do you think Dora noticed the impression
"Yes, Aunt Ruth noticed Dora; and Ruth
says Dora `turned the arrow in the heart
wound' all the evening."
"What rubbish you are talking! Say in
good English what you mean."
"She tried every moment they, were to-
gether to make him more and more in love
"What is her intention? A girl doesn't
carry on that way for nothing."
"I do not know. Dora has got beyond me
lately. And, grandmother, I am not troubling
about the event as it regards Dora or
Fred or Basil Stanhope, but as it regards
"What have you to do with it?"
"That is just what I want to have clearly
understood. Aunt Ruth told me that father
and you would be disappointed if I did not
"I am sorry to disappoint you, but I never
shall marry Fred Mostyn. Never!"
"I rather think you will have to settle that
question with your father, Ethel."
"No. I have settled it with myself. The
man has given to Dora all the love that he
has to give. I will have a man's whole heart,
and not fragments and finger-ends of it."
"To be sure, that is right. But I can't say
much, Ethel, when I only know one side of
the case, can I? I must wait and hear what
Fred has to say. But I like your spirit and
your way of bringing what is wrong straight
up to question. You are a bit Yorkshire yet,
whatever you think gets quick to your tongue,
and then out it comes. Good girl, your heart
is on your lips."
They talked the afternoon away on this
subject, but Madam's last words were not
only advisory, they were in a great measure
sympathetic. "Be straight with yourself,
Ethel," she said, "then Fred Mostyn can do
as he likes; you will be all right."
She accepted the counsel with a kiss, and
then drove to the Holland House for her
father. He was not waiting, as Ruth had
supposed he would be, but then she was five
minutes too soon. She sent up her card, and
then let her eyes fall upon a wretched beggar
man who was trying to play a violin, but
was unable by reason of hunger and cold. He
looked as if he was dying, and she was moved
with a great pity, and longed for her father
to come and give some help. While she was
anxiously watching, a young man was also
struck with the suffering on the violinist's
face. He spoke a few words to him, and taking
the violin, drew from it such strains of
melody, that in a few moments a crowd had
gathered within the hotel and before it. First
there was silence, then a shout of delight; and
when it ceased the player's voice thrilled
every heart to passionate patriotism, as he
sang with magnificent power and feeling--
There is not a spot on this wide-peopled earth
So dear to our heart as the Land of our Birth, etc.
A tumult of hearty applause followed, and
then he cried, "Gentlemen, this old man
fought for the land of our birth. He is dying
of hunger," and into the old man's hat he
dropped a bill and then handed it round to
millionaire and workingman alike. Ethel's
purse was in her hand. As he passed along
the curb at which her carriage stood, he
looked at her eager face, and with a smile
held out the battered hat. She, also smiling,
dropped her purse into it. In a few moments
the hat was nearly full; the old man and the
money were confided to the care of an hotel
officer, the stream of traffic and pleasure went
on its usual way, and the musician disappeared.
All that evening the conversation turned
constantly to this event. Mostyn was sure he
was a member of some operatic troupe.
"Voices of such rare compass and exceptional
training were not to be found among
non-professional people," he said, and Judge
Rawdon was of his opinion.
"His voice will haunt me for many days,"
he said. "Those two lines, for instance--
'Tis the home of our childhood, that beautiful spot
Which memory retains when all else is forgot.
The melody was wonderful. I wish we could
find out where he is singing. His voice, as I
said, haunts my ear."
Ethel might have made the same remark,
but she was silent. She had noticed the musician
more closely than her father or Fred
Mostyn, and when Ruth Bayard asked her if
his personality was interesting, she was able
to give a very clear description of the man.
"I do not believe he is a professional
singer; he is too young," she answered. "I
should think he was about twenty-five years
old, tall, slender, and alert. He was fashionably
dressed, as if he had been, or was
going, to an afternoon reception. Above all
things, I should say he was a gentleman."
Oh, why are our hearts so accessible to our
eyes? Only a smiling glance had passed between
Ethel and the Unknown, yet his image
was prisoned behind the bars of her eyelids.
On this day of days she had met Love on the
crowded street, and he had
"But touched his lute wherein was audible
The certain secret thing he had to tell;
Only their mirrored eyes met silently";
and a sweet trouble, a restless, pleasing curiosity,
had filled her consciousness. Who was
he? Where had he gone to? When should
they meet again? Ah, she understood now
how Emmeline Labiche had felt constrained
to seek her lover from the snows of Canada
to the moss-veiled oaks of Louisiana.
But her joyous, hopeful soul could not think
of love and disappointment at the same moment.
"I have seen him, and I shall see him
again. We met by appointment. Destiny
introduced us. Neither of us will forget, and
somewhere, some day, I shall be waiting, and
he will come."
Thus this daughter of sunshine and hope
answered herself; and why not? All good
things come to those who can wait in sweet
tranquillity for them, and seldom does Fortune
fail to bring love and heart's-ease upon
the changeful stream of changeful days to
those who trust her for them.
On the following morning, when the two
girls entered the parlor, they found the Judge
smoking there. He had already breakfasted,
and looked over the three or four newspapers
whose opinions he thought worthy of his
consideration. They were lying in a state of
confusion at his side, and Ethel glanced at
"Did any of the papers speak of the singing
before the Holland House?" she asked.
"Yes. I think reporters must be ubiquitous.
All my papers had some sort of a notice
of the affair."
"What do they say?"
"One gave the bare circumstances of the
case; another indulged in what was supposed
to be humorous description; a third thought
it might have been the result of a bet or dare;
a fourth was of the opinion that conspiracy
between the old beggar and the young man
was not unlikely, and credited the exhibition
as a cleverly original way of obtaining money.
But all agreed in believing the singer to be a
member of some opera company now in the
Ethel was indignant. "It was neither
`bet' nor `dare' nor `conspiracy,'" she
said. "I saw the singer as he came walking
rapidly down the avenue, and he looked as
happy and careless as a boy whistling on a
country lane. When his eyes fell on the old
man he hesitated, just a moment, and then
spoke to him. I am sure they were absolute
strangers to each other."
"But how can you be sure of a thing like
"I don't know `how,' Ruth, but all the
same, I am sure. And as for it being a new
way of begging, that is not correct. Not many
years ago, one of the De Reszke brothers led
a crippled soldier into a Paris cafe, and sang
the starving man into comfort in twenty minutes."
"And the angelic Parepa Rosa did as much
for a Mexican woman, whom she found in the
depths of sorrow and poverty--brought her
lifelong comfort with a couple of her songs.
Is it not likely, then, that the gallant knight
of the Holland House is really a member of
some opera company, that he knew of these
examples and followed them?"
"It is not unlikely, Ruth, yet I do not believe
that is the explanation."
"Well," said the Judge, throwing his
cigarette into the fire, "if the singer had
never heard of De Reszke and Parepa Rosa,
we may suppose him a gentleman of such
culture as to be familiar with the exquisite
Greek legend of Phoebus Apollo--that story
would be sufficient to inspire any man with
his voice. Do you know it?"
Both girls answered with an enthusiastic
entreaty for its recital, and the Judge went
to the library and returned with a queer-looking
little book, bound in marbled paper.
"It was my father's copy," he said, "an
Oxford edition." And he turned the leaves
with loving carefulness until he came to the
incident. Then being a fine reader, the words
fell from his lips in a stately measure better
"After Troy fell there came to Argos a
scarred soldier seeking alms. Not deigning
to beg, he played upon a lyre; but the handling
of arms had robbed him of his youthful
power, and he stood by the portico hour
after hour, and no one dropped him a lepton.
Weary, hungry and thirsty, he leaned in despair
against a pillar. A youth came to him
and asked, `Why not play on, Akeratos?"
And Akeratos meekly answered, `I am no
longer skilled.' `Then,' said the stranger,
`hire me thy lyre; here is a didrachmon. I
will play, and thou shalt hold out thy cap
and be dumb.' So the stranger took the lyre
and swept the strings, and men heard, as it
were, the clashing of swords. And he sang
the fall of Troy--how Hector perished, slain
by Achilles, the rush of chariots, the ring of
hoofs, the roar of flames--and as he sang the
people stopped to listen, breathless and eager,
with rapt, attentive ear. And when the singer
ceased the soldier's cap was filled with coins,
and the people begged for yet another song.
Then he sang of Venus, till all men's hearts
were softly stirred, and the air was purple
and misty and full of the scent of roses. And
in their joy men cast before Akeratos not
coins only, but silver bracelets and rings, and
gems and ornaments of gold, until the heap
had to its utmost grown, making Akeratos
rich in all men's sight. Then suddenly the
singer stood in a blaze of light, and the men
of Argos saw their god of song, Phoebus
Apollo, rise in glory to the skies."
The girls were delighted; the Judge pleased
both with his own rendering of the legend
and the manifest appreciation with which
it had been received. For a moment or two
all felt the exquisite touch of the antique
world, and Ethel said, in a tone of longing,
"I wish that I had been a Greek and lived
"You would not have liked it as well as
being an American and living in New York,"
said her father.
"And you would have been a pagan,"
"They were such lovely pagans, Ruth, and
they dreamed such beautiful dreams of life.
Leave the book with me, father; I will take
good care of it."
Then the Judge gave her the book, and with
a sigh looked into the modern street. "I
ought to be down at Bowling Green instead
of reading Greek stories to you girls," he
said rather brusquely. "I have a very important
railway case on my mind, and Phoebus
Apollo has nothing to do with it. Good morning.
And, Ethel, do not deify the singer on
the avenue. He will not turn out, like the
singer by the portico, to be a god; be sure of
The door closed before she could answer,
and both women remained silent a few minutes.
Then Ethel went to the window, and
Ruth asked if she was going to Dora's.
"Yes," was the answer, but without interest.
"You are tired with all this shopping and worry?"
"It is not only that I am tired, I am
troubled about Fred Mostyn."
"I do not know why. It is only a vague
unrest as yet. But one thing I know, I shall
oppose anything like Fred making himself
intimate with Dora."
"I think you will do wisely in that."
But in a week Ethel realized that in opposing
a lover like Fred Mostyn she had a
task beyond her ability. Fred had nothing
to do as important in his opinion as the cultivation
of his friendship with Dora Denning.
He called it "friendship," but this misnomer
deceived no one, not even Dora. And when
Dora encouraged his attentions, how was
Ethel to prevent them without some explanation
which would give a sort of reality to
what was as yet a nameless suspicion?
Yet every day the familiarity increased.
He seemed to divine their engagements. If
they went to their jeweler's, or to a bazaar,
he was sure to stroll in after them. When
they came out of the milliner's or modiste's,
Fred was waiting. "He had secured a table
at Sherry's; he had ordered lunch, and all
was ready." It was too great an effort to resist
his entreaty. Perhaps no one wished to
do so. The girls were utterly tired and
hungry, and the thought of one of Fred's
lunches was very pleasant. Even if Basil
Stanhope was with them, it appeared to be
all the better. Fred always included Dora's
lover with a charming courtesy; and, indeed,
at such hours, was in his most delightful
mood. Stanhope appeared to inspire him.
His mentality when the clergyman was present
took possession of every incident that
came and went, and clothed it in wit and
pleasantry. Dora's plighted lover honestly
thought Dora's undeclared lover the cleverest
and most delightful of men. And he had no
opportunity of noting, as Ethel did, the
difference in Fred's attitude when he was not
present. Then Mostyn's merry mood became
sentimental, and his words were charged with
soft meanings and looks of adoration, and
every tone and every movement made to express
far more than the tongue would have
dared to utter.
As this flirtation progressed--for on Dora's
part it was only vanity and flirtation--Ethel
grew more and more uneasy. She almost
wished for some trifling overt act which
would give her an excuse for warning Dora;
and one day, after three weeks of such
philandering, the opportunity came.
"I think you permit Fred Mostyn to take
too much liberty with you, Dora," she said as
soon as they were in Dora's parlor, and as
she spoke she threw off her coat in a temper
which effectively emphasized the words.
"I have been expecting this ill-nature,
Ethel. You were cross all the time we were
at lunch. You spoiled all our pleasure
Pray, what have I been doing wrong with
"It was Fred who did wrong. His compliments
to you were outrageous. He has no
right to say such things, and you have no
right to listen to them."
"I am not to blame if he compliments me
instead of you. He was simply polite, but
then it was to the wrong person."
"Of course it was. Such politeness he had
no right to offer you."
"It would have been quite proper if offered
you, I suppose?"
"It would not. It would have been a great
impertinence. I have given him neither
claim nor privilege to address me as `My
lovely Ethel!' He called you many times
`My lovely Dora!' You are not his lovely
Dora. When he put on your coat, he drew
you closer than was proper; and I saw him
take your hand and hold it in a clasp--not
"Why do you listen and watch? It is vulgar.
You told me so yourself. And I am
lovely. Basil says that as well as Fred. Do
you want a man to lie and say I am ugly?"
"You are fencing the real question. He
had no business to use the word `my.' You
are engaged to Basil Stanhope, not to Fred
"I am Basil's lovely fiancee; I am Fred's
"Oh! I hope Fred understands the difference."
"Of course he does. Some people are always
"I was thinking of Mr. Stanhope's rights."
"Thank you, Ethel; but I can take care
of Mr. Stanhope's rights without your assistance.
If you had said you were thinking of
Ethel Rawdon's rights you would have been
nearer the truth."
"Dora, I will not listen----"
"Oh, you shall listen to me! I know that
you expected Fred to fall in love with you,
but if he did not like to do so, am I to blame?"
Ethel was resuming her coat at this point
in the conversation, and Dora understood the
proud silence with which the act was being
accomplished. Then a score of good reasons
for preventing such a definite quarrel flashed
through her selfish little mind, and she threw
her arms around Ethel and begged a thousand
pardons for her rudeness. And Ethel
had also reasons for avoiding dissension at
this time. A break in their friendship now
would bring Dora forward to explain, and
Dora had a wonderful cleverness in presenting
her own side of any question. Ethel
shrunk from her innuendoes concerning Fred,
and she knew that Basil would be made to consider
her a meddling, jealous girl who willingly
saw evil in Dora's guileless enjoyment
of a clever man's company.
To be misunderstood, to be blamed and
pitied, to be made a pedestal for Dora's superiority,
was a situation not to be contemplated.
It was better to look over Dora's
rudeness in the flush of Dora's pretended sorrow
for it. So they forgave each other, or
said they did, and then Dora explained herself.
She declared that she had not the least
intention of any wrong. "You see, Ethel,
what a fool the man is about me. Somebody
says we ought to treat a fool according to his
folly. That is all I was doing. I am sure
Basil is so far above Fred Mostyn that I
could never put them in comparison--and
Basil knows it. He trusts me."
"Very well, Dora. If Basil knows it, and
trusts you, I have no more to say. I am now
sorry I named the subject."
"Never mind, we will forget that it was
named. The fact is, Ethel, I want all the fun
I can get now. When I am Basil's wife I
shall have to be very sedate, and of course not
even pretend to know if any other man admires
me. Little lunches with Fred, theater
and opera parties, and even dances will be
over for me. Oh, dear, how much I am giving
up for Basil! And sometimes I think he
never realizes how dreadful it must be for
"You will have your lover all the time
then. Surely his constant companionship
will atone for all you relinquish."
"Take off your coat and hat, Ethel, and
sit down comfortably. I don't know about
Basil's constant companionship. Tete-a-tetes
are tiresome affairs sometimes."
"Yes," replied Ethel, as she half-reluc-
tantly removed her coat, "they were a bore
undoubtedly even in Paradise. I wonder if
Eve was tired of Adam's conversation, and
if that made her listen to--the other party."
"I am so glad you mentioned that circumstance,
Ethel. I shall remember it. Some
day, no doubt, I shall have to remind Basil
of the failure of Adam to satisfy Eve's idea
of perfect companionship." And Dora put
her pretty, jeweled hands up to her ears and
laughed a low, musical laugh with a childish
note of malice running through it.
This pseudo-reconciliation was not conducive
to pleasant intercourse. After a
short delay Ethel made an excuse for an early
departure, and Dora accepted it without her
usual remonstrance. The day had been one
of continual friction, and Dora's irritable
pettishness hard to bear, because it had now
lost that childish unreason which had always
induced Ethel's patience, for Dora had lately
put away all her ignorant immaturities. She
had become a person of importance, and had
realized the fact. The young ladies of St.
Jude's had made a pet of their revered rector's
love, and the elder ladies had also shown
a marked interest in her. The Dennings' fine
house was now talked about and visited. Men
of high financial power respected Mr. Dan
Denning, and advised the social recognition
of his family; and Mrs. Denning was not now
found more eccentric than many other of the
new rich, who had been tolerated in the
ranks of the older plutocrats. Even Bryce
had made the standing he desired. He was
seen with the richest and idlest young men,
and was invited to the best houses. Those
fashionable women who had marriageable
daughters considered him not ineligible,
and men temporarily hampered for cash
knew that they could find smiling assistance
for a consideration at Bryce's little office on
These and other points of reflection troubled
Ethel, and she was glad the long trial was
nearing its end, for she knew quite well the
disagreement of that evening had done no
good. Dora would certainly repeat their
conversation, in her own way of interpreting
it, to both Basil Stanhope and Fred Mostyn.
More than likely both Bryce and Mrs.
Denning would also hear how her innocent
kindness had been misconstrued; and in each
case she could imagine the conversation that
took place, and the subsequent bestowal of
pitying, scornful or angry feeling that would
insensibly find its way to her consciousness
without any bird of the air to carry it.
She felt, too, that reprisals of any kind
were out of the question. They were not only
impolitic, they were difficult. Her father had
an aversion to Dora, and was likely to seize
the first opportunity for requesting Ethel to
drop the girl's acquaintance. Ruth also had
urged her to withdraw from any active part
in the wedding, strengthening her advice
with the assurance that when a friendship began
to decline it ought to be abandoned at
once. There was only her grandmother to
go to, and at first she did not find her at all
interested in the trouble. She had just had
a dispute with her milkman, was inclined to
give him all her suspicions and all her angry
words--"an impertinent, cheating creature,"
she said; and then Ethel had to hear the history
of the month's cream and of the milkman's
extortion, with the old lady's characteristic
"I told him plain what I thought of his
ways, but I paid him every cent I owed him.
Thank God, I am not unreasonable!"
Neither was she unreasonable when Ethel
finally got her to listen to her own serious
grievance with Dora.
"If you will have a woman for a friend,
Ethel, you must put up with womanly ways;
and it is best to keep your mouth shut concerning
such ways. I hate to see you whimpering
and whining about wrongs you have
been cordially inviting for weeks and months
"Yes, you have been sowing thorns for
yourself, and then you go unshod over them.
I mean that Dora has this fine clergyman,
and Fred Mostyn, and her brother, and
mother, and father all on her side; all of
them sure that Dora can do no wrong, all of
them sure that Ethel, poor girl, must be mistaken,
or prudish, or jealous, or envious."
"Oh, grandmother, you are too cruel,"
"Why didn't you have a few friends on
your own side?"
"Father and Ruth never liked Dora. And
Fred--I told you how Fred acted as soon as
he saw her!"
"There was Royal Wheelock, James Clifton,
or that handsome Dick Potter. Why
didn't you ask them to join you at your
lunches and dances? You ought to have pillared
your own side. A girl without her beaux
is always on the wrong side if the girl with
beaux is against her."
"It was the great time of Dora's life. I
wished her to have all the glory of it."
"All her own share--that was right. All
of your share, also--that was as wrong as it
"Clifton is yachting, Royal and I had a
little misunderstanding, and Dick Potter is
"But Dick's effusiveness would have been
a good thing for Fred's effusiveness. Two
men can't go on a complimentary ran-tan at
the same table. They freeze one another out.
That goes without saying. But Dora's
indiscretions are none of your business while
she is under her father's roof; and I don't
know if she hadn't a friend in the world, if
they would be your business. I have always
been against people trying to do the work
of THEM that are above us. We are told THEY
seek and THEY save, and it's likely they will
look after Dora in spite of her being so unknowing
of herself as to marry a priest in a
surplice, when a fool in motley would have
been more like the thing."
"I don't want to quarrel with Dora. After
all, I like her. We have been friends a long
"Well, then, don't make an enemy of her.
One hundred friends are too few against one
enemy. One hundred friends will wish you
well, and one enemy will DO you ill. God love
you, child! Take the world as you find it.
Only God can make it any better. When is
this blessed wedding to come off?"
"In two weeks. You got cards, did you
"I believe I did. They don't matter. Let
Dora and her flirtations alone, unless you set
your own against them. Like cures like. If
the priest sees nothing wrong----"
"He thinks all she does is perfect."
"I dare say. Priests are a soft lot, they'll
believe anything. He's love-blind at present.
Some day, like the prophet of Pethor, he will
get his eyes opened. As for Fred Mostyn, I
shall have a good deal to say about him by
and by, so I'll say nothing now."
 One of the Hebrew prophets.
"You promised, grandmother, not to talk
to me any more about Fred."
"It was a very inconsiderate promise, a
very irrational promise! I am sorry I made
it--and I don't intend to keep it."
"Well, it takes two to hold a conversation,
"To be sure it does. But if I talk to you,
I hope to goodness you will have the decency
to answer me. I wouldn't believe anything
different." And she looked into Ethel's face
with such a smiling confidence in her good
will and obedience, that Ethel could only
laugh and give her twenty kisses as she stood
up to put on her hat and coat.
"You always get your way, Granny," she
said; and the old lady, as she walked with her
to the door, answered, "I have had my way
for nearly eighty years, dearie, and I've
found it a very good way. I'm not likely
to change it now."
"And none of us want you to change it,
dear. Granny's way is always a wise way."
And she kissed her again ere she ran down
the steps to her carriage. Yet as the old lady
stepped slowly back to the parlor, she muttered,
"Fred Mostyn is a fool! If he had
any sense when he left England, he has lost
it since he came here."
Of course nothing good came of this irritable
interference. Meddling with the conscience
of another person is a delicate and
difficult affair, and Ruth had already warned
Ethel of its certain futility. But the days
were rapidly wearing away to the great day,
for which so many other days had been wasted
in fatiguing worry, and incredible extravagance
of health and temper and money--and
after it? There would certainly be a break
in associations. Temptation would be removed,
and Basil Stanhope, relieved for a
time from all the duties of his office, would
have continual opportunities for making
eternally secure the affection of the woman
he had chosen.
It was to be a white wedding, and for
twenty hours previous to its celebration it
seemed as if all the florists in New York were
at work in the Denning house and in St.
Jude's church. The sacred place was radiant
with white lilies. White lilies everywhere;
and the perfume would have been overpowering,
had not the weather been so exquisite
that open windows were possible and even
pleasant. To the softest strains of music
Dora entered leaning on her father's arm
and her beauty and splendor evoked from the
crowd present an involuntary, simultaneous
stir of wonder and delight. She had hesitated
many days between the simplicity of
white chiffon and lilies of the valley, and the
magnificence of brocaded satin in which a
glittering thread of silver was interwoven.
The satin had won the day, and the sunshine
fell upon its beauty, as she knelt at the altar,
like sunshine falling upon snow. It shone
and gleamed and glistened as if it were an
angel's robe; and this scintillating effect was
much increased by the sparkling of the diamonds
in her hair, and at her throat and
waist and hands and feet. Nor was her brilliant
youth affected by the overshadowing
tulle usually so unbecoming. It veiled her
from head to feet, and was held in place by
a diamond coronal. All her eight maids,
though lovely girls, looked wan and of the
earth beside her. For her sake they had been
content with the simplicity of chiffon and
white lace hats, and she stood among them
lustrous as some angelic being. Stanhope
was entranced by her beauty, and no one
on this day wondered at his infatuation or
thought remarkable the ecstasy of reverent
rapture with which he received the hand of
his bride. His sense of the gift was ravishing.
She was now his love, his wife forever,
and when Ethel slipped forward to part and
throw backward the concealing veil, he very
gently restrained her, and with his own hands
uncovered the blushing beauty, and kissed
her there at the altar. Then amid a murmur
and stir of delighted sympathy he took his
wife upon his arm, and turned with her to
the life they were to face together.
Two hours later all was a past dream.
Bride and bridegroom had slipped quietly
away, and the wedding guests had arrived at
that rather noisy indifference which presages
the end of an entertainment. Then flushed
and tired with hurrying congratulations and
good wishes that stumbled over each other,
carriage after carriage departed; and Ethel
and her companions went to Dora's parlor to
rest awhile and discuss the event of the day.
But Dora's parlor was in a state of confusion.
It had, too, an air of loss, and felt like a gilded
cage from which the bird had flown. They
looked dismally at its discomfort and went
downstairs. Men were removing the faded
flowers or sitting at the abandoned table eating
and drinking. Everywhere there was
disorder and waste, and from the servants'
quarter came a noisy sense of riotous feasting.
"Where is Mrs. Denning?" Ethel asked a
footman who was gathering together the silver
with the easy unconcern of a man whose
ideas were rosy with champagne. He looked
up with a provoking familiarity at the question,
and sputtered out, "She's lying down
crying and making a fuss. Miss Day is with
her, soothing of her."
"Let us go home," said Ethel.
And so, weary with pleasure, and heart-
heavy with feelings that had no longer any
reason to exist, pale with fatigue, untidy with
crush, their pretty white gowns sullied and
passe, each went her way; in every heart a
wonder whether the few hilarious hours of
strange emotions were worth all they claimed
as their right and due.
Ruth had gone home earlier, and Ethel
found her resting in her room. "I am worn
out, Ruth," was her first remark. "I am
going to bed for three or four days. It was
a dreadful ordeal."
"One to which you may have to submit."
"Certainly not. My marriage will be a
religious ceremony, with half a dozen of my
nearest relatives as witnesses."
"I noticed Fred slip away before Dora
went. He looked ill."
"I dare say he is ill--and no wonder.
Good night, Ruth. I am going to sleep. Tell
father all about the wedding. I don't want
to hear it named again--not as long as I live."
THREE days passed and Ethel had regained
her health and spirits, but Fred Mostyn had
not called since the wedding. Ruth thought
some inquiry ought to be made, and Judge
Rawdon called at the Holland House. There
he was told that Mr. Mostyn had not been
well, and the young man's countenance painfully
confessed the same thing.
"My dear Fred, why did you not send us
word you were ill?" asked the Judge.
"I had fever, sir, and I feared it might be
typhoid. Nothing of the kind, however. I
shall be all right in a day or two."
The truth was far from typhoid, and Fred
knew it. He had left the wedding breakfast
because he had reached the limit of his
endurance. Words, stinging as whips, burned
like hot coals in his mouth, and he felt that
he could not restrain them much longer.
Hastening to his hotel, he locked himself in
his rooms, and passed the night in a frenzy
of passion. The very remembrance of the
bridegroom's confident transport put mur-
der in his heart--murder which he could only
practice by his wishes, impotent to compass
"I wish the fellow shot! I wish him
hanged! I would kill him twenty times in
twenty different ways! And Dora! Dora!
Dora! What did she see in him? What
could she see? Love her? He knows nothing
of love--such love as tortures me."
Backwards and forwards he paced the floor
to such imprecations and ejaculations as
welled up from the whirlpool of rage in his
heart, hour following hour, till in the blackness
of his misery he could no longer speak.
His brain had become stupefied by the iteration
of inevitable loss, and so refused any
longer to voice a woe beyond remedy. Then
he stood still and called will and reason to
council him. "This way madness lies," he
thought. "I must be quiet--I must sleep--
I must forget."
But it was not until the third day that a
dismal, sullen stillness succeeded the storm
of rage and grief, and he awoke from a sleep
of exhaustion feeling as if he were withered
at his heart. He knew that life had to be
taken up again, and that in all its farces
he must play his part. At first the thought
of Mostyn Hall presented itself as an asylum.
It stood amid thick woods, and there were
miles of wind-blown wolds and hills around
it. He was lord and master there, no one
could intrude upon his sorrow; he could nurse
it in those lonely rooms to his heart's content.
Every day, however, this gloomy resolution
grew fainter, and one morning he awoke and
laughed it to scorn.
"Frederick's himself again," he quoted,
"and he must have been very far off himself
when he thought of giving up or of running
away. No, Fred Mostyn, you will stay here.
'Tis a country where the impossible does not
exist, and the unlikely is sure to happen--a
country where marriage is not for life or
death, and where the roads to divorce are
manifold and easy. There are a score of
ways and means. I will stay and think them
over; 'twill be odd if I cannot force Fate to
change her mind."
A week after Dora's marriage he found
himself able to walk up the avenue to the
Rawdon house; but he arrived there weary
and wan enough to instantly win the sympathy
of Ruth and Ethel, and he was immensely
strengthened by the sense of home
and kindred, and of genuine kindness to
which he felt a sort of right. He asked Ruth
if he might eat dinner with them. He said
he was hungry, and the hotel fare did not
tempt him. And when Judge Rawdon returned
he welcomed him in the same generous
spirit, and the evening passed delightfully
away. At its close, however, as Mostyn stood
gloved and hatted, and the carriage waited for
him, he said a few words to Judge Rawdon
which changed the mental and social atmosphere.
"I wish to have a little talk with you,
sir, on a business matter of some importance.
At what hour can I see you to-morrow?"
"I am engaged all day until three in the
afternoon, Fred. Suppose I call on you about
four or half-past?"
"Very well, sir."
But both Ethel and Ruth wondered if it
was "very well." A shadow, fleeting as
thought, had passed over Judge Rawdon's
face when he heard the request for a business
interview, and after the young man's departure
he lost himself in a reverie which
was evidently not a happy one. But he said
nothing to the girls, and they were not
accustomed to question him.
The next morning, instead of going direct
to his office, he stopped at Madam, his moth-
er's house in Gramercy Park. A visit at such
an early hour was unusual, and the old lady
looked at him in alarm.
"We are well, mother," he said as she
rose. "I called to talk to you about a little
business." Whereupon Madam sat down,
and became suddenly about twenty years
younger, for "business" was a word like a
watch-cry; she called all her senses together
when it was uttered in her presence.
"Business!" she ejaculated sharply.
"I think I may say the business of the
"Nay, I am not in it. My business is just
as I want it, and I am not going to talk about
it--one way or the other."
"Is not Rawdon Court of some interest to
you? It has been the home and seat of the
family for many centuries. A good many.
Mostyn women have been its mistress."
"I never heard of any Mostyn woman who
would not have been far happier away from
Rawdon Court. It was a Calvary to them all.
There was little Nannie Mostyn, who died
with her first baby because Squire Anthony
struck her in a drunken passion; and the
proud Alethia Mostyn, who suffered twenty
years' martyrdom from Squire John; and
Sara, who took thirty thousand pounds to
Squire Hubert, to fling away at the green
table; and Harriet, who was made by her
husband, Squire Humphrey, to jump a fence
when out hunting with him, and was brought
home crippled and scarred for life--a lovely
girl of twenty who went through agonies for
eleven years without aught of love and help,
and died alone while he was following a fox;
and there was pretty Barbara Mostyn----"
"Come, come, mother. I did not call here
this morning to hear the Rawdons abused,
and you forget your own marriage. It was
a happy one, I am sure. One Rawdon, at
least, must be excepted; and I think I treated
my wife as a good husband ought to treat a
"Not you! You treated Mary very badly."
"Mother, not even from you----"
"I'll say it again. The little girl was
dying for a year or more, and you were so
busy making money you never saw it. If
she said or looked a little complaint, you
moved restless-like and told her `she moped
too much.' As the end came I spoke to you,
and you pooh-poohed all I said. She went
suddenly, I know, to most people, but she
knew it was her last day, and she longed so
to see you, that I sent a servant to hurry you
home, but she died before you could make up
your mind to leave your `cases.' She and
I were alone when she whispered her last
message for you--a loving one, too."
"Mother! Mother! Why recall that bitter
day? I did not think--I swear I did not
"Never mind swearing. I was just reminding
you that the Rawdons have not been
the finest specimens of good husbands. They
make landlords, and judges, and soldiers, and
even loom-lords of a very respectable sort;
but husbands! Lord help their poor wives!
So you see, as a Mostyn woman, I have no
special interest in Rawdon Court."
"You would not like it to go out of the
"I should not worry myself if it did."
"I suppose you know Fred Mostyn has a
mortgage on it that the present Squire is unable
"Aye, Fred told me he had eighty thousand
pounds on the old place. I told him he
was a fool to put his money on it."
"One of the finest manors and manor-
houses in England, mother."
"I have seen it. I was born and brought
up near enough to it, I think."
"Eighty thousand pounds is a bagatelle
for the place; yet if Fred forces a sale, it may
go for that, or even less. I can't bear to think
"Why not buy it yourself?"
"I would lift the mortgage to-morrow if I
had the means. I have not at present."
"Well, I am in the same box. You have
just spoken as if the Mostyns and Rawdons
had an equal interest in Rawdon Court.
Very well, then, it cannot be far wrong for
Fred Mostyn to have it. Many a Mostyn has
gone there as wife and slave. I would dearly
like to see one Mostyn go as master."
"I shall get no help from you, then, I
"I'm Mostyn by birth, I'm only Rawdon
by, marriage. The birth-band ties me fast to
"Good morning, mother. You have failed
me for the first time in your life."
"If the money had been for you, Edward,
She called him back peremptorily, and he
returned and stood at the open door.
"Why don't you ask Ethel?"
"I did not think I had the right, mother."
"More right to ask her than I. See what
she says. She's Rawdon, every inch of her."
"Perhaps I may. Of course, I can sell
securities, but it would be at a sacrifice a great
sacrifice at present."
"Ethel has the cash; and, as I said, she is
"I wish my father were alive."
"He wouldn't move me--you needn't think
that. What I have said to you I would have
said to him. Speak to Ethel. I'll be bound
she'll listen if Rawdon calls her."
"I don't like to speak to Ethel."
"It isn't what you like to do, it's what you
find you'll have to do, that carries the day;
and a good thing, too, considering."
"Good morning, again. You are not quite
yourself, I think."
"Well, I didn't sleep last night, so there's
no wonder if I'm a bit cross this morning.
But if I lose my temper, I keep my understanding."
She was really cross by this time. Her son
had put her in a position she did not like to
assume. No love for Rawdon Court was in
her heart. She would rather have advanced
the money to buy an American estate. She
had been little pleased at Fred's mortgage on
the old place, but to the American Rawdons
she felt it would prove a white elephant; and
the appeal to Ethel was advised because she
thought it would amount to nothing. In the
first place, the Judge had the strictest idea
of the sacredness of the charge committed
to him as guardian of his daughter's fortune.
In the second, Ethel inherited from
her Yorkshire ancestry an intense sense of
the value and obligations of money. She was
an ardent American, and not likely to spend
it on an old English manor; and, furthermore,
Madam's penetration had discovered
a growing dislike in her granddaughter for
"She'd never abide him for a lifelong
neighbor," the old lady decided. "It is the
Rawdon pride in her. The Rawdon men have
condescended to go to Mostyn for wives many
and many a time, but never once have the
Mostyn men married a Rawdon girl--proud,
set-up women, as far as I remember; and
Ethel has a way with her just like them. Fred
is good enough and nice enough for any girl,
and I wonder what is the matter with him!
It is a week and more since he was here, and
then he wasn't a bit like himself."
At this moment the bell rang and she heard
Fred's voice inquiring "if Madam was at
home." Instantly she divined the motive of
his call. The young man had come to the
conclusion the Judge would try to influence
his mother, and before meeting him in the
afternoon he wished to have some idea of the
trend matters were likely to take. His policy
--cunning, Madam called it--did not please
her. She immediately assured herself that
"she wouldn't go against her own flesh and
blood for anyone," and his wan face and general
air of wretchedness further antagonized
her. She asked him fretfully "what he had
been doing to himself, for," she added, "it's
mainly what we do to ourselves that makes
us sick. Was it that everlasting wedding of
the Denning girl?"
He flushed angrily, but answered with much
of the same desire to annoy, "I suppose it
was. I felt it very much. Dora was the loveliest
girl in the city. There are none left like
"It will be a good thing for New York if
that is the case. I'm not one that wants the
city to myself, but I can spare Dora STANHOPE,
and feel the better for it."
"The most beautiful of God's creatures!"
"You've surely lost your sight or your
judgment, Fred. She is just a dusky-skinned
girl, with big, brown eyes. You can pick her
sort up by the thousand in any large city.
And a wandering-hearted, giddy creature, too,
that will spread as she goes, no doubt. I'm
sorry for Basil Stanhope, he didn't deserve
such a fate."
"Indeed, he did not! It is beyond measure
too good for him."
"I've always heard that affliction is the
surest way to heaven. Dora will lead him
that road, and it will be more sure than pleasant.
Poor fellow! He'll soon be as ready to
curse his wedding-day as Job was to curse his
birthday. A costly wife she will be to keep,
and misery in the keeping of her. But if you
came to talk to me about Dora STANHOPE, I'll
cease talking, for I don't find it any great
"I came to talk to you about Squire Rawdon."
"What about the Squire? Keep it in your
mind that he and I were sweethearts when we
were children. I haven't forgotten that fact."
"You know Rawdon Court is mortgaged
"I've heard you say so--more than once."
"I intend to foreclose the mortgage in
September. I find that I can get twice yes,
three times--the interest for my money in
"How do you know they are securities?"
"Bryce Denning has put me up to several
"Well, if you think good things can come
that road, you are a bigger fool than I ever
"Fool! Madam, I allow no one to call me
a fool, especially without reason."
"Reason, indeed! What reason was there
in your dillydallying after Dora Denning
when she was engaged, and then making yourself
like a ghost for her after she is married?
As for the good things Bryce Denning offers
you in exchange for a grand English manor,
take them, and then if I called you not fool
before, I will call you fool in your teeth twice
over, and much too good for you! Aye, I
could call you a worse name when I think of
the old Squire--he's two years older than I
am--being turned out of his lifelong home.
Where is he to go to?"
"If I buy the place, for of course it will
have to be sold, he is welcome to remain at
"And he would deserve to do it if he were
that low-minded; but if I know Squire Percival,
he will go to the poor-house first. Fred,
you would surely scorn such a dirty thing as
selling the old man out of house and home?"
"I want my money, or else I want Rawdon
"And I have no objections either to your
wanting it or having it, but, for goodness'
sake, wait until death gives you a decent warrant
for buying it."
"I am afraid to delay. The Squire has
been very cool with me lately, and my agent
tells me the Tyrrel-Rawdons have been visiting
him, also that he has asked a great many
questions about the Judge and Ethel. He
is evidently trying to prevent me getting
possession, and I know that old Nicholas
Rawdon would give his eyelids to own Rawdon
Court. As to the Judge----"
"My son wants none of it. You can make
your mind easy on that score."
"I think I behaved very decently, though,
of course, no one gives me credit for it; for
as soon as I saw I must foreclose in order to
get my own I thought at once of Ethel. It
seemed to me that if we could love each other
the money claims of Mostyn and the inherited
claims of Rawdon would both be satisfied.
Unfortunately, I found that I could not love
Ethel as a wife should be loved."
"And I can tell you, Fred, that Ethel
never could have loved you as a husband
should be loved. She was a good deal disappointed
in you from the very first."
"I thought I made a favorable impression
"In a way. She said you played the piano
nicely; but Ethel is all for handsome men,
tall, erect six-footers, with a little swing and
swagger to them. She thought you small
and finicky. But Ethel's rich enough to have
her fancy, I hope."
"It is little matter now what she thought.
I can't please every one."
"No, it's rather harder to do that than
most people think it is. I would please my
conscience first of all, Fred. That's the point
worth mentioning. And I shall just remind
you of one thing more: your money all in a
lump on Rawdon Manor is safe. It is in one
place, and in such shape as it can't run away
nor be smuggled away by any man's trickery.
Now, then, turn your eighty thousand pounds
into dollars, and divide them among a score
of securities, and you'll soon find out that a
fortune may be easily squandered when it is
in a great many hands, and that what looks
satisfactory enough when reckoned up on
paper doesn't often realize in hard money to
the same tune. I've said all now I am going
"Thank you for the advice given me. I
will take it as far as I can. This afternoon
the Judge has promised to talk over the business
"The Judge never saw Rawdon Court, and
he cares nothing about it, but he can give you
counsel about the `good things' Bryce Denning
offers you. And you may safely listen
to it, for, right or wrong, I see plainly it is
your own advice you will take in the long
Mostyn laughed pleasantly and went back
to his hotel to think over the facts gleaned
from his conversation with Madam. In the
first place, he understood that any overt act
against Squire Rawdon would be deeply resented
by his American relatives. But then
he reminded himself that his own relationship
with them was merely sentiment. He