Part 6 out of 6
however, there will be pistols quite close to your backs. I find that
Lady Deppingham is much too weak to take the five miles' walk we've got
to do in the next two hours--or less. You are to have the honour of
carrying her four miles and a half, and you will have to get along the
best you can with the gags in your mouths. I'm rather proud of the
inspiration. We were up against it, hard, until I thought of you fellows
wasting your time up here in the woods. Corking scheme, isn't it? Two of
you form a basket with your hands--I'll show you how. You carry her for
half a mile; then the other two may have the satisfaction of doing
something just as handsome for the next half mile--and so on. Great,
And it was in just that fashion that the party started off without delay
in the direction of the chateau. Two of the cowed but eager islanders
were carrying her ladyship between them, Deppingham striding close
behind in a position to catch her should she again lose consciousness.
Her tense fingers clung to the straining shoulders of the carriers, and,
although she swayed dizzily from time to time, she maintained her trying
position with extreme courage and cool-headedness. Now and then she
breathed aloud the name of her husband, as if to assure herself that he
was near at hand. She kept her eyes closed tightly, apparently uniting
every vestige of force in the effort to hold herself together through
the last stages of the frightful ordeal which had fallen to her that
With Selim in the lead, the little procession moved swiftly but
cautiously through the black jungle, bent on reaching the gate if
possible before the night lifted. Chase and Bobby Browne brought up the
rear with the two reserve carriers in hand. Browne, weak and suffering
from torture and exposure, struggled bravely along, determined not to
retard their progress by a single movement of indecision. He had talked
volubly for the first few minutes after their rescue, but now was silent
and intent upon thoughts of his own. His head and face were bruised and
cut; his body was stiff and sore from the effects of his valiant battle
in the cavern and the subsequent hardships of the march.
In his heart Bobby Browne was now raging against the fate that had
placed him in this humiliating, almost contemptible position. He, and he
alone, was responsible for the sufferings that Lady Agnes had endured:
it was as gall and wormwood to him that other men had been ordained to
save her from the misery that he had created. He could almost have
welcomed death for himself and her rather than to have been saved by
George Deppingham. As he staggered along, propelled by the resistless
force which he knew to be a desire to live in spite of it all, he was
wondering how he could ever hold up his head again in the presence of
those who damned him, even as they had prayed for him.
His wife! He could never be the same to her. He had forfeited the trust
and confidence of the one loyal believer among them all.... And now,
Lady Deppingham loathed him because his weakness had been greater than
When he would have slain the four helpless islanders with his own hands,
Hollingsworth Chase had stayed his rage with the single, caustic
"Keep out of this, Browne! You've been enough of a damned bounder
without trying that sort of thing."
Tears were in Bobby Browne's eyes as, mile after mile, he blundered
along at the side of his fellow-countryman, his heart bleeding itself
dry through the wound those words had made.
It was still pitch dark when they came to the ridge above the park.
Through the trees the lights in the chateau could be seen. Lady Agnes
opened her eyes and cried out in tremulous joy. A great wave of
exaltation swept over Hollingsworth Chase. _She_ was watching and
waiting there with the others!
"Dame Fortune is good to us," he said, quite irrelevantly. Selim
muttered the sacred word "Allah." Chase's trend of thought, whatever it
may have been, was ruthlessly checked. "That reminds me," he said
briskly, "we can't waste Allah's time in dawdling here. Luck has been
with us--and Allah, too--great is Allah! But we'll have to do some
skilful sneaking on our own hook, just the same. If the upper gate is
being watched--and I doubt it very much--we'll have a hard time getting
inside the walls, signal or no signal. The first thing for us to do is
to make everything nice and snug for our four friends here. You've
laboured well and faithfully," he said to the panting islanders, "and
I'm going to reward you. I'm going to set you free. But not yet. Don't
rejoice. First, we shall tie you securely to four stout trees just off
the road. Then we'll leave you to take a brief, much-needed rest. Lady
Deppingham, I fancy, can walk the rest of the way through the woods.
Just as soon as we are inside the walls, I'll find some way to let your
friends know that you are here. You can explain the situation to them
better than I can. Tell 'em that it might have been worse."
He and Selim promptly marched the bewildered islanders into the wood.
Bobby Browne, utterly exhausted, had thrown himself to the soft earth.
Lady Deppingham was standing, swaying but resolute, her gaze upon the
distant, friendly windows.
At last she turned to look at her husband, timorously, an appeal in her
eyes that the darkness hid. He was staring at her, a stark figure in the
night. After a long, tense moment of indecision, she held out her hands
and he sprang forward in time to catch her as she swayed toward him. She
was sobbing in his arms. Bobby Browne's heavy breathing ceased in that
instant, and he closed his ears against the sound that came to them.
Deppingham gently implored her to sit down with him and rest. Together
they walked a few paces farther away from their companion and sat down
by the roadside. For many minutes no word was spoken; neither could
whisper the words that were so hard in finding their way up from the
depths. At last she said:
"I've made you unhappy. I've been so foolish. It has not been fun,
either, my husband. God knows it hasn't. You do not love me now."
He did not answer her at once and she shivered fearfully in his arms.
Then he kissed her brow gently.
"I _do_ love you, Agnes," he said intensely. "I will answer for my own
love if you can answer for yours. Are you the same Agnes that you were?
"Will you believe me?"
"I could lie to you--God knows I would lie to you."
"I--I would rather you lied to me than to---"
"I know. Don't say it. George," as she put her hands to his face and
whispered in all the fierceness of a desperate longing to convince him,
"I am the same Agnes. I am _your_ Agnes. I am! You _do_ believe me?"
He crushed her close to his breast and then patted her shoulder as a
father might have touched an erring child.
"That's all I ask of you," he said. She lay still and almost breathless
for a long time.
At last she spoke: "It is not wholly his fault, George. I was to blame.
I led him on. You understand?"
"Poor devil!" said he drily. "It's a way you have, dear."
The object of this gentle commiseration was staring with gloomy eyes at
the lights below. He was saying to himself, over and over again: "If I
can only make Drusie understand!"
Chase and Selim came down upon this little low-toned picture. The former
paused an instant and smiled joyously in the darkness.
"Come," was all he said. Without a word the three arose and started off
down the road. A few hundred feet farther on, Selim abruptly turned off
among the trees. They made their way slowly, cautiously to a point
scarcely a hundred feet from the wall and somewhat to the right of the
small gate. Here he left them and crept stealthily away. A few minutes
later he crept back to them, a soft hiss on his lips.
"Five men are near the gate," he whispered. "They watch so closely that
no one may go to rescue those who have disappeared. Friends are hidden
inside the wall, ready to open the gate at a signal. They have waited
with Neenah all night. And day is near, sahib."
"We must attack at once," said Chase. "We can take them by surprise. No
killing, mind you. They're not looking for anything to happen outside
the walls. It will be easy if we are careful. No shooting unless
necessary. If we should fail to surprise them, Selim and I will dash off
into the forest and they will follow us, Then, Deppingham, you and
Browne get Lady Deppingham inside the gate. We'll look out for
ourselves. Quiet now!"
Five shadowy figures soon were distinguished huddled close to the wall
below the gate. The sense of sight had become keen during those trying
hours in the darkness.
The islanders were conversing in low tones, a word or two now and then
reaching the ears of the others. It was evident from what was being
said, that, earlier in the evening, messengers had carried the news from
Rasula to the town; the entire population was now aware of the
astounding capture of the two heirs. There had been rejoicing; it was
easy to picture the populace lying in wait for the expected relief party
from the chateau.
Suddenly a blinding, mysterious light flashed upon the muttering group.
As they fell back, a voice, low and firm, called out to them:
"Not a sound or you die!"
Four unwavering rifles were bearing upon the surprised islanders and
four very material men were advancing from the ghostly darkness. An
electric lantern shot a ray of light athwart the scene.
"Drop your guns--quick!" commanded Chase. "Don't make a row!"
Paralysed with fear and amazement, the men obeyed. They could not have
done otherwise. The odds were against them; they were bewildered; they
knew not how to combat what seemed to them an absolutely supernatural
While the three white men kept them covered with their rifles, Selim ran
to the gate, uttering the shrill cry of a night bird. There was a rush
of feet inside the walls, subdued exclamations, and then a glad cry.
"Quick!" called Selim. The keys rattled in the locks, the bolts were
thrown down, and an instant later, Lady Deppingham was flying across the
space which intervened between her and the gate, where five or six
figures were huddled and calling out eagerly for haste.
The men were beside her a moment later, possessed of the weapons of the
helpless sentinels. With a crash the gates were closed and a joyous
laugh rang out from the exultant throat of Hollingsworth Chase.
"By the Lord Harry, this is worth while!" he shouted. Outside, the
maddened guards were sounding the tardy alarm. Chase called out to them
and told them where they could find the four men in the forest. Then he
turned to follow the group that had scurried off toward the chateau. The
first grey shade of day was coming into the night.
He saw Neenah ahead of him, standing still in the centre of the
gravelled path. Beyond her was the tall figure of a man.
"You are a trump, Neenah," cried Chase, hurrying up to her. "A Persian
It was not Neenah's laugh that replied. Chase gasped in amazement and
then uttered a cry of joy.
The Princess Genevra, slim and erect, was standing before him, her hand
touching her turban in true military salute, soft laughter rippling from
In the exuberance of joy, he clasped that little hand and crushed it
against his lips.
"You!" he exclaimed.
"Sh!" she warned, "I have retained my guard of honour."
He looked beyond her and beheld the tall, soldierly figure of a
"The devil!" fell involuntarily from his lips.
"Not at all. He is here to keep me from going to the devil," she cried
so merrily that he laughed aloud with her in the spirit of unbounded
joy. "Come! Let us run after the others. I want to run and dance and
He still held her hand as they ran swiftly down the drive, followed
closely by the faithful sergeant.
"You are an angel," he said in her ear. She laughed as she looked up
into his face.
"Yes--a Persian angel," she cried. "It's so much easier to run well in a
Persian angel's costume," she added.
A PRESCRIBED MALADY
"You are wonderful, staying out there all night watching for--us." He
was about to say "me."
"How could any one sleep? Neenah found this dress for me--aren't these
baggy trousers funny? She rifled the late Mr. Wyckholme's wardrobe. This
costume once adorned a sultana, I'm told. It is a most priceless
treasure. I wore it to-night because I was much less conspicuous as a
sultana than I might have been had I gone to the wall as a princess."
"I like you best as the Princess," he said, frankly surveying her in the
"I think I like myself as the Princess, too," she said naively. He
sighed deeply. They were quite close to the excited group on the terrace
when she said: "I am very, very happy now, after the most miserable
night I have ever known. I was so troubled and afraid----"
"Just because I went away for that little while? Don't forget that I am
soon to go out from you for all time. How then?"
"Ah, but then I will have Paris," she cried gaily. He was puzzled by her
mood--but then, why not? What could he be expected to know of the moods
of royal princesses? No more than he could know of their loves.
Lady Deppingham was got to bed at once. The Princess, more thrilled by
excitement than she ever had been in her life, attended her friend. In
the sanctity of her chamber, the exhausted young Englishwoman bared her
soul to this wise, sympathetic young woman in Persian vestment.
"Genevra," she said solemnly, in the end, "take warning from my example.
When you once are married, don't trifle with other men--not even if you
shouldn't love your husband. Sooner or later you'd get tripped up. It
doesn't pay, my dear. I never realised until tonight how much I really
care for Deppy and I am horribly afraid that I've lost something I can
never recover. I've made him unhappy and--and--all that. Can you tell me
what it is that made me--but never mind! I'm going to be good."
"You were not in love with Mr. Browne. That is why I can't understand
"My dear, I don't understand myself. How can I expect you or my husband
to understand me? How could I expect it of Bobby Browne? Oh, dear; oh,
dear, how tired I am! I think I shall never move out of this bed again.
What a horrible, horrible time I've had." She sat up suddenly and stared
wide-eyed before her, looking upon phantoms that came out of the hours
"Hush, dear! Lie down and go to sleep. You will feel better in a little
while." Lady Agnes abruptly turned to her with a light in her eyes that
checked the kindly impulses.
"Genevra, you are in love--madly in love with Hollingsworth Chase. Take
my advice: marry him. He's one man in a--" Genevra placed her hand over
the lips of the feverish young woman.
"I will not listen to anything more about Mr. Chase," she said firmly.
"I am tired--tired to death of being told that I should marry him."
"But you love him," Lady Agnes managed to mumble, despite the gentle
"I _do_ love him, yes, I do love him," cried the Princess, casting
reserve to the winds. "He knows it--every one knows it. But marry him?
No--no--no! I shall marry Karl. My father, my mother, my grandfather,
have said so--and I have said it, too. And his father and grandfather
and a dozen great grandparents have ordained that he shall marry a
princess and I a prince, That ends it, Agnes! Don't speak of it again."
She cast herself down upon the side of the bed and clenched her hands in
the fierceness of despair and--decision. After a moment, Lady Agnes said
dreamily: "I climbed up the ladder to make a 'ladyship' of myself by
marriage and I find I love my husband. I daresay if you should go down
the ladder a few rounds, my dear, you might be as lucky. But take my
advice, if you _won't_ marry Hollingsworth Chase, don't let him come to
The Princess Genevra lifted her face instantly, a startled expression in
"Agnes, you forget yourself!"
"My dear," murmured Lady Agnes sleepily, "forgive me, but I have such a
shockingly absent mind." She was asleep a moment later.
In the meantime, Bobby Browne, disdaining all commands and entreaties,
refused to be put to bed until he had related the story of their capture
and the subsequent events that made the night memorable. He talked
rapidly, feverishly, as if every particle of energy was necessary to the
task of justifying himself in some measure for the night's mishap. He
sat with his rigid arm about his wife's shoulders. Drusilla was stroking
one of his hands in a half-conscious manner, her eyes staring past his
face toward the dark forest from which he had come. Mr. Britt was
ordering brandy and wine for his trembling client.
"After all," said Browne, hoarse with nervousness, "there is some good
to be derived from our experiences, hard as it may be to believe. I have
found out the means by which Rasula intends to destroy every living
creature in the chateau." He made this statement at the close of the
brief, spasmodic recital covering the events of the night. Every one
drew nearer. Chase threw off his spell of languidness and looked hard at
the speaker. "Rasula coolly asked me, at one of our resting places, if
there had been any symptoms of poisoning among us. I mentioned Pong and
the servants. The devil laughed gleefully in my face and told me that it
was but the beginning. I tell you. Chase, we can't escape the diabolical
scheme he has arranged. We are all to be poisoned--I don't see how we
can avoid it if we stay here much longer. It is to be a case of slow
death by the most insidious scheme of poisoning imaginable, or, on the
other hand, death by starvation and thirst. The water that comes to us
from the springs up there in the hills is to be poisoned by those
There were exclamations of unbelief, followed by the sharp realisation
that he was, after all, pronouncing doom upon each and every one of
those who listened.
"Rasula knows that we have no means of securing water except from the
springs. Several days ago his men dumped a great quantity of some sort
of poison into the stream--a poison that is used in washing or polishing
the rubies, whatever it is. Well, that put the idea into his head. He is
going about it shrewdly, systematically. I heard him giving instructions
to one of his lieutenants. He thought I was still unconscious from a
blow I received when I tried to interfere in behalf of Lady Agnes, who
was being roughly dragged along the mountain road. Day and night a
detachment of men are to be employed at the springs, deliberately
engaged in the attempt to change the flow of pure water into a slow,
subtle, deadly poison, the effects of which will not be immediately
fatal, but positively so in the course of a few days. Every drop of
water that we drink or use in any way will be polluted with this deadly
cyanide. It's only a question of time. In the end we shall sicken and
die as with the scourge. They will call it the plague!"
A shudder of horror swept through the crowd. Every one looked into his
neighbour's face with a profound inquiring light in his eyes, seeking
for the first evidence of approaching death.
Hollingsworth Chase uttered a short, scornful laugh as he unconcernedly
lifted a match to one of his precious cigarettes. The others stared at
him in amazement. He had been exceedingly thoughtful and preoccupied up
to that moment.
"Great God, Chase!" groaned Browne. "Is this a joke?"
"Yes--and it's on Rasula," said the other laconically.
"But even now, man, they are introducing this poison into our
"You say that Rasula isn't aware of the fact that you overheard what he
said to his man? Then, even now, in spite of your escape, he believes
that we may go on drinking the water without in the least suspecting
what it has in store for us. Good! That's why I say the joke is on him."
"But, my God, we must have water to drink," cried Britt. Mrs. Saunders
alone divined the thought that filled Chase's mind. She clapped her
hands and cried out wonderingly:
"I know! I--I took depositions in a poisoning case two years ago. Why,
"Browne, you are a doctor--a chemist," said Chase calmly, first
bestowing a fine smile upon the eager Mrs. Saunders. "Well, we'll distil
and double and triple distil the water. That's all. A schoolboy might
have thought of that. It's all right, old man. You're fagged out; your
brain isn't working well. Don't look so crestfallen. Mr. Britt, you and
Mr. Saunders will give immediate instructions that no more water is to
be drunk--or used--until Mr. Browne has had a few hours' rest. He can
take an alcohol bath and we can all drink wine. It won't hurt us. At ten
o'clock sharp Dr. Browne will begin operating the distilling apparatus
in the laboratory. As a matter of fact, I learned somewhere--at college,
I imagine--that practically pure water may be isolated from wine." He
arose painfully and stretched himself. "I think I'll get a little
much-needed rest. Do the same, Browne--and have a rub down. By Jove,
will you listen to the row my clients are making out there in the woods!
They seem to be annoyed over something."
Outside the walls the islanders were shouting and calling to each other;
rifles were cracking, far and near, voicing, in their peculiarly
spiteful way, the rage that reigned supreme.
As Chase ascended the steps Bobby Browne and his wife came up beside
"Chase," said Browne, in a low voice, his face turned away to hide the
mortification that filled his soul, "you are a man! I want you to know
that I thank you from the bottom of my heart."
"Never mind, old man! Say no more," interrupted Chase, suddenly
"I've been a fool, Chase. I don't deserve the friendship of any one--not
even that of my wife. It's all over, though. You understand? I'm not a
coward. I'll do anything you say--take any risk--to pay for the trouble
I've caused you all. Send me out to fight----"
"Nonsense! Your wife needs you, Browne. Don't you, Mrs. Browne? There,
now! It will be all right, just as I said. I daresay, Browne, that I
wouldn't have been above the folly that got the better of you. Only--"
he hesitated for a minute--"only, it couldn't have happened to me if I
had a wife as dear and as good and as pretty as the one you have."
Browne was silent for a long time, his arm still about Drusilla's
shoulder. At the end of the long hall he said with decision in his
"Chase, you may tell your clients that so far as I am concerned they may
have the beastly island and everything that goes with it. I'm through
with it all. I shall discharge Britt and----"
"My dear boy, it's most magnanimous of you," cried Chase merrily. "But
I'm afraid you can't decide the question in such an off-hand, _degage_
manner. Sleep over it. I've come to the conclusion that it isn't so much
of a puzzle as to how you are to _get_ the island as how to get _off_ of
it. Take good care of him, Mrs. Browne. Don't let him talk."
She held out her hand to him impulsively. There was an unfathomable,
unreadable look in her dark eyes. As he gallantly lifted the cold
fingers to his lips, she said, without taking her almost hungry gaze
from his face:
"Thank you, Mr. Chase. I shall never forget you."
He stood there looking after them as they went up the stairway, a
puzzled expression in his face. After a moment he shook his head and
smiled vaguely as he said to himself:
"I guess he'll be a good boy from now on." But he wondered what it was
that he had seen or felt in her sombre gaze.
In fifteen minutes he was sound asleep in his room, his long frame
relaxed, his hands wide open in utter fatigue. He dreamed of a Henner
girl with Genevra's brilliant face instead of the vague, greenish
features that haunt the vision with their subtle mysticism.
He was awakened at noon by Selim, who obeyed his instructions to the
minute. The eager Arab rubbed the soreness and stiffness out of his
master's body with copious applications of alcohol.
"I'm sorry you awoke me, Selim," said the master enigmatically. Selim
drew back, dismayed. "You drove her away." Selim's eyes blinked with
bewilderment. "I'm afraid she'll never come back."
"Excellency!" trembled on the lips of the mystified servant.
"Ah, me!" sighed the master resignedly. "She smiled so divinely. Henner
girls never smile, do they, Selim? Have you noticed that they are always
pensive? Perhaps you haven't. It doesn't matter. But this one smiled. I
say," coming back to earth, "have they begun to distil the water? I've
got a frightful thirst."
"Yes, excellency. The Sahib Browne is at work. One of the servants
became sick to-day. Now no one is drinking the water. Baillo is bringing
in ice from the storehouses and melting it, but the supply is not large.
Sahib Browne will not let them make any more ice at present." Nothing
more was said until Chase was ready for his rolls and coffee. Then Selim
asked hesitatingly, "Excellency, what is a bounder? Mr. Browne says----"
"I believe I did call him a bounder," interrupted Chase reminiscently.
"I spoke hastily and I'll give him a chance to demand an explanation.
He'll want it, because he's an American. A bounder, Selim? Well,"
closing one eye and looking out of the window calculatingly, "a bounder
is a fellow who keeps up an acquaintance with you by persistently
dunning you for money that you've owed to him for four or five years.
Any one who annoys you is a bounder."
Selim turned this over in his mind for some time, but the puzzled air
did not lift from his face.
"Excellency, you will take Selim to live with you in Paris?" he said
after a while wistfully. "I will be your slave."
"Paris? Who the dickens said anything about Paris?" demanded Chase,
"Neenah says you will go there to live, sahib."
"Um--um," mused Chase; "what does she know about it?"
"Does not the most glorious Princess live in Paris?"
"Selim, you've been listening to gossip. It's a frightful habit to get
into. Put cotton in your ears. But if I were to take you, what would
become of little Neenah?"
"Oh, Neenah?" said Selim easily. "If she would be a trouble to you,
excellency, I can sell her to a man I know."
Chase looked blackly at the eager Arab, who quailed.
"You miserable dog!"
Selim gasped. "Excellency!"
"Don't you love her?"
"Yes, yes, sahib--yes! But if she would be a trouble to you--no!"
protested the Arab anxiously. Chase laughed as he came to appreciate the
sacrifice his servant would make for him.
"I'll take you with me, Selim, wherever I go--and if I go--but, my lad,
we'll take Neenah along, too, to save trouble. She's not for sale, my
good Selim." The husband of Neenah radiated joy.
"Then she may yet be the slave of the most glorious Princess! Allah is
great! The most glorious one has asked her if she will not come with
"Selim," commanded the master ominously, "don't repeat the gossip you
pick up when I'm not around."
THE TWO WORLDS
Two days and nights crept slowly into the past, and now the white people
of the chateau had come to the eve of their last day's stay on the
island of Japat: the probationary period would expire with the sun on
the following day, the anniversary of the death of Taswell Skaggs. The
six months set aside by the testator as sufficient for all the
requirements of Cupid were to come to an inglorious end at seven o'clock
on March 29th. According to the will, if Agnes Ruthven and Robert Browne
were not married to each other before the close of that day all of their
rights in the estate were lost to them.
To-morrow would be the last day of residence required, but, alack! Was
it to be the last that they were to spend in the world-forsaken land? As
they sat and stared gloomily at the spotless sea there was not a single
optimist among them who felt that the end was near. Not a few were
convincing themselves that their last days literally would be spent on
No later than that morning a steamer--a small Dutch freighter--had come
to a stop off the harbour. But it turned tail and fled within an hour.
No one came ashore; the malevolent tug went out and turned back the
landing party which was ready to leave the ship's side. The watchers in
the chateau knew what it was that the tug's captain shouted through his
trumpet at a safe distance from the steamer. Through their glasses they
saw the boat's crew scramble back to the deck of the freighter; the
action told the story plainer than words.
The black and yellow flags at the end of the company's pier lent colour
to a grewsome story!
The hopeless look deepened in the eyes of the watchers. They saw the
steamer move out to sea and then scuttle away as if pursued by demons.
Hollingsworth Chase alone maintained a stubborn air of confidence and
unconcern. He may not have felt as he looked, but something in his
manner, assumed or real, kept the fires of hope alight in the breasts of
all the others.
"Don't be downhearted, Bowles," he said to the moping British agent.
"You'll soon be managing the bank again and patronising the American bar
with the same old regularity."
"My word, Mr. Chase," groaned Bowles, "how can you say a thing like
that? I daresay they've blown the bank to Jericho by this time. Besides,
there won't be an American bar. And, moreover, I don't intend to stay a
minute longer than I have to on the beastly island. This taste of the
old high life has spoiled me for everything else. I'm going back to
London and sit on the banks of the Serpentine until it goes dry. Stay
here? I should rather say not."
There had been several vicious assaults upon the gates by the infuriated
islanders during the day following the rescue of the heirs. Their rage
and disappointment knew no bounds. For hours they acted like madmen;
only the most determined resistance drove them back from the gates. Some
powerful influence suddenly exerted itself to restore them to a state of
calmness. They abruptly gave up the fruitless, insensate attacks upon
the walls and withdrew to the town, apparently defeated. The cause was
obvious: Rasula had convinced them that Death already was lifting his
hand to blot out the lives of those who opposed them.
Bobby Browne was accomplishing wonders in the laboratory. He seldom was
seen outside the distilling room; his assiduity was marked, if not
commented upon. Hour after hour he stood watch over the water that went
up in vapour and returned to the crystal liquid that was more precious
than rubies and sapphires. He was redeeming himself, just as he was
redeeming the water from the poison that had made it useless. He
experimented with lizards: the water as it came from the springs brought
quick death to the little reptiles. The fishes in the aquarium died
before it occurred to any one to remove them from the noxious water.
Drusilla kept close to his side during all of these operations. She
seemed afraid or ashamed to join the others; she avoided Lady Deppingham
as completely as possible. Her effort to be friendly when they were
thrown together was almost pitiable.
As for Lady Agnes, she seemed stricken by an unconquerable lassitude;
the spirits that had controlled her voice, her look, her movements, were
sadly missing. It was with a most transparent effort that she managed to
infuse life into her conversation. There were times when she stood
staring out over the sea with unseeing eyes, and one knew that she was
not thinking of the ocean. More than once Genevra had caught her
watching Deppingham with eyes that spoke volumes, though they were mute
From time to time the sentinels brought to Lord Deppingham and Chase
missives that had been tossed over the walls by the emissaries of
Rasula. They were written by the leader himself and in every instance
expressed the deepest sympathy for the plague-ridden chateau. It was
evident that Rasula believed that the occupants were slowly but surely
dying, and that it was but a question of a few days until the place
would become a charnel-house. With atavic cunning he sat upon the
outside and waited for the triumph of death.
"There's a paucity of real news in these gentle messages that annoys
me," Chase said, after reading aloud the last of the epistles to the
Princess and the Deppinghams. "I rejoice in my heart that he isn't aware
of the true state of affairs. He doesn't appreciate the real calamity
that confronts us. The Plague? Poison? Mere piffle. If he only knew that
I am now smoking my last--_the_ last cigarette on the place!" There was
something so inconceivably droll in the lamentation that his hearers
laughed despite their uneasiness.
"I believe you would die more certainly from lack of cigarettes than
from an over-abundance of poison," said Genevra. She was thinking of the
stock she had hoarded up for him in her dressing-table drawer, under
lock and key. It occurred to her that she could have no end of
housewifely thrills if she doled them out to him in niggardly
quantities, at stated times, instead of turning them over to him in
"I'm sure I don't know," he said, taking a short inhalation. "I've never
had the poison habit."
"I say, Chase, can't you just see Rasula's face when he learns that
we've been drinking the water all along and haven't passed away?" cried
Deppingham, brightening considerably in contemplation of the enemy's
"And to think, Mr. Chase, we once called you 'the Enemy,'" said Lady
Agnes in a low, dreamy voice. There was a far-away look in her eyes.
"I appear to have outlived my usefulness in that respect," he said. He
tossed the stub of his cigarette over the balcony rail. "Good-bye!" he
said, with melancholy emphasis. Then he bent an inquiring look upon the
face of the Princess.
"Yes," she said, as if he had asked the question aloud. "You shall have
three a day, that's all."
"You'll leave the entire fortune to me when you sail away, I trust," he
said. The Deppinghams were puzzled.
"But you also will be sailing away," she argued.
"I? You forget that I have had no orders to return. Sir John expects me
to stay. At least, so I've heard in a roundabout way."
"You don't mean to say, Chase, that you'll stay on this demmed Island if
the chance comes to get away," demanded Lord Deppingham earnestly. The
two women were looking at him in amazement.
"Why not? I'm an ally, not a deserter."
"You are a madman!" cried Lady Agnes. "Stay here? They would kill you in
a jiffy. Absurd!"
"Not after they've had another good long look at my warships. Lady
Deppingham," he replied, with a most reassuring smile.
"Good Lord, Chase, you're not clinging to that corpse-candle straw, are
you?" cried his lordship, beginning to pace the floor. "Don't be a fool!
We can't leave you here to the mercy of these brutes. What's more, we
"My dear fellow," said Chase ruefully, "we are talking as though the
ship had already dropped anchor out there. The chances are that we will
have ample time to discuss the ethics of my rather anomalous position
before we say good-bye to each other. I think I'll take a stroll along
the wall before turning in."
He arose and leisurely started to go indoors. The Princess called to
him, and he paused.
"Wait," she said, coming up to him. They walked down the hallway
together. "I will run upstairs and unlock the treasure chest. I do not
trust even my maid. You shall have two to-night--no more."
"You've really saved them for me?" he queried, a note of eagerness in
his voice. "All these days?"
"I have been your miser," she said lightly, and then ran lightly up the
He looked after her until she disappeared at the top with a quick, shy
glance over her shoulder. Then he permitted his spirits to drop suddenly
from the altitude to which he had driven them. An expression of utter
dejection came into his face; a haggard look replaced the buoyant smile.
"God, how I love her--how I love her!" he groaned, half aloud.
She was coming down the stairs now, eager, flushed, more abashed than
she would have had him know. Without a word she placed the two
cigarettes in his outstretched palm. Her eyes were shining.
In silence he clasped her hand and led her unresisting through the
window and out upon the broad gallery. She was returning the fervid
pressure of his fingers, warm and electric. They crossed slowly to the
rail. Two chairs stood close together. They sat down, side by side. The
power of speech seemed to have left them altogether.
He laid the two cigarettes on the broad stone rail. She followed the
movement with perturbed eyes, and then leaned forward and placed her
elbows on the rail. With her chin in her hands, she looked out over the
sombre park, her heart beating violently. After a long time she heard
him saying hoarsely:
"If the ship should come to-morrow, you would go out of my life? You
would go away and leave me here--"
"No, no!" she cried, turning upon him suddenly. "You _could_ not stay
here. You shall not!"
"But, dearest love, I am bound to stay--I cannot go And, God help me, I
want to stay. If I could go into your world and take you unto myself
forever--if you will tell me now that some day you may forget your world
and come to live in mine--then, ah, then, it would be different! But
without you I have no choice of abiding place. Here, as well as
She put her hands over her eyes.
"I cannot bear the thought of--of leaving you behind--of leaving you
here to die at the hands of those beasts down there. Hollingsworth, I
implore you--come! If the opportunity comes--and it will, I know--you
will leave the island with the rest of us?"
"Not unless I am commanded to do so by the man who sent me here to serve
these beasts, as you call them."
"They do not want you! They are your enemies!"
"Time will tell," he said sententiously. He leaned over and took her
hand in his. "You do love me?"
"You know I do--yes, yes!" she cried from her heart, keeping her face
resolutely turned away from him. "I am sick with love for you. Why
should I deny the thing that speaks so loudly for itself--my heart!
Listen! Can you not hear it beating? It is hurting me--yes, it is
He trembled at this exhibition of released, unchecked passion, and yet
he did not clasp her in his arms.
"Will you come into my world, Genevra?" he whispered. "All my life would
be spent in guarding the love you would give to me--all my life given to
making you love me more and more until there will be no other world for
you to think of."
"I wish that I had not been born," she sobbed. "I cannot, dearest--I
cannot change the laws of fate. I am fated--I am doomed to live forever
in the dreary world of my fathers. But how can I give you up? How can I
give up your love? How can I cast you out of my life?"
"You do not love Prince Karl?"
"How can you ask?" she cried fiercely. "Am I not loving you with all my
heart and soul?"
"And you would leave me behind if the ship should come?" he persisted,
with cruel insistence. "You will go back and marry that--him? Loving me,
you will marry him?" Her head dropped upon her arm. He turned cold as
death. "God help and God pity you, my love. I never knew before what
your little world means to you. I give you up to it. I crawl back into
the one you look down upon with scorn. I shall not again ask you to
descend to the world where love is."
Her hand lay limp in his. They stared bleakly out into the night and no
word was spoken.
The minutes became an hour, and yet they sat there with set faces,
bursting hearts, unseeing eyes.
Below them in the shadows, Bobby Browne was pacing the embankment, his
wife drawn close to his side. Three men, Britt, Saunders and Bowles,
were smoking their pipes on the edge of the terrace. Their words came up
to the two in the gallery.
"If I have to die to-morrow," Saunders, the bridegroom, was saying, with
real feeling in his voice, "I should say, with all my heart, that my
life has been less than a week long. The rest of it was nothing. I never
was happy before--and happiness is everything."
THE SHIPS THAT PASS
The next morning was rainy. A quick, violent storm had rushed up from
the sea during the night.
Chase, after a sleepless night, came down and, without waiting for his
breakfast, hurried out upon the gallery overlooking the harbour. Genevra
was there before him, pale, wistful, heavy-eyed--standing in the shelter
of a huge pilaster. The wind swept the thin, swishing raindrops across
the gallery on both sides of her position. He came up from behind. She
was startled by the sound of his voice saying "good-morning."
"Hollingsworth," she said drearily, "do you believe he will come
"He?" he asked, puzzled.
"My uncle. The yacht was to call for me not later than to-day."
"I remember," he said slowly. "It may come, Genevra. The day is young."
She clasped his hand convulsively, a desperate revolt in her soul.
"I almost hope that it may not come for me!" she said, her voice shaking
with suppressed emotion.
"I am not so selfish as to wish that, dear one," he said, after a moment
of inconceivable ecstasy in which his own longing gave the lie to the
words which followed.
"It will not come. I feel it in my heart. We shall die here together,
Hollingsworth. Ah, in that way I may escape the other life. No, no! What
am I saying? Of course I want to leave this dreadful island--this
dreadful, beautiful, hateful, happy island. Am I not too silly?" She was
speaking rapidly, almost hysterically, a nervous, flickering smile on
"Dear one," he said gently, "the yacht will come. If it should not come
to-day, my cruisers will forestall its mission. As sure as there is a
sea, those cruisers will come." She looked into his eyes intently, as if
afraid of something there. "Oh, I'm not mad!" he laughed. "You brought a
cruiser to me one day; I'll bring one to you in return. We'll be quits."
"Quits?" she murmured, hurt by the word.
"Forgive me," he said, humbled.
"Hollingsworth," she said, after a long, tense scrutiny of the sea, "how
long will you remain on this island?"
"Perhaps until I die--if death should come soon. If not, then God knows
"Listen to me," she said intensely. "For my sake, you will not stay
long. You will come away before they kill you. You will! Promise me. You
will come--to Paris? Some day, dear heart? Promise!"
He stared at her beseeching face in wide-eyed amazement. A wave of
triumphant joy shot through him an instant later. To Paris! She was
asking him--but then he understood! Despair was the inspiration of that
hungry cry. She did not mean--no, no!
"To Paris?" he said, shaking his head sadly. "No, dearest one. Not now.
Listen: I have in my bag upstairs an offer from a great American
corporation. I am asked to assume the management of its entire business
in France. My headquarters would be in Paris. My duties would begin as
soon as my contract with Sir John Brodney expires. The position is a
lucrative one; it presents unlimited opportunities. I am a comparatively
poor man. The letter was forwarded to me by Sir John. I have a year in
which to decide."
"And you--you will decline?" she asked.
"Yes. I shall go back to America, where there are no princesses of the
royal blood. Paris is no place for the disappointed, cast-off lover. I
can't go there. I love you too madly. I'd go on loving you, and
you--good as you are, would go on loving me. There is no telling what
would come of it. It will be hard for me to--to stay away from
Paris--desperately hard. Sometimes I feel that I will not be strong
enough to do it, Genevra."
"But Paris is huge, Hollingsworth," she argued, insistently, an eager,
impelling light in her eyes. "We would be as far apart as if the ocean
were between us."
"Ah, but would we?" he demanded.
"It is almost unheard-of for an American to gain _entree_ to our--to the
set in which--well, you understand," she said, blushing painfully in the
consciousness that she was touching his pride. He smiled sadly.
"My dear, you will do me the honour to remember that I am not trying to
get into your set. I am trying to induce you to come into mine. You
won't be tempted, so that's the end of it. Beastly day, isn't it?" He
uttered the trite commonplace as if no other thought than that of the
weather had been in his mind. "By the way," he resumed, with a most
genial smile, "for some queer, un-masculine reason, I took it into my
head last night to worry about the bride's trousseau. How are you going
to manage it if you are unable to leave the island until--well, say
She returned his smile with one as sweetly detached as his had been,
catching his spirit. "So good of you to worry," she said, a defiant red
in her cheeks. "You forget that I have a postponed trousseau at home. A
few stitches here and there, an alteration or two, some smart summer
gowns and hats--Oh, it will be so simple. What is it? What do you see?"
He was looking eagerly, intently toward the long, low headland beyond
the town of Aratat.
"The smoke! See? Close in shore, too! By heaven, Genevra--there's a
steamer off there. She's a small one or she wouldn't run in so close.
It--it may be the yacht! Wait! We'll soon see. She'll pass the point in
a few minutes."
Scarcely breathing in their agitation, they kept the glasses levelled
steadily, impatiently upon the distant point of land. The smoke grew
thicker and nearer. Already the citizens of the town were rushing to the
pier. Even before the vessel turned the point, the watchers at the
chateau witnessed a most amazing performance on the dock. Half a hundred
natives dropped down as if stricken, scattering themselves along the
narrow pier. For many minutes Chase was puzzled, bewildered by this
strange demonstration. Then, the explanation came to him like a flash.
The people were simulating death! They were posing as the victims of the
plague that infested the land! Chase shuddered at this exhibition of
diabolical cunning. Some of them were writhing as if in the death agony.
It was at once apparent that the effect of this manifestation would
serve to drive away all visitors, appalled and terrified. As he was
explaining the ruse to his mystified companion, the nose of the vessel
came out from behind the tree-covered point.
An instant later, they were sending wild cries of joy through the
chateau, and people were rushing toward them from all quarters.
The trim white thing that glided across the harbour, graceful as a bird,
was the Marquess's yacht!
It is needless to describe the joyous gale that swept the chateau into a
maelstrom of emotions. Every one was shouting and talking and laughing
at once; every one was calling out excitedly that no means should be
spared in the effort to let the yacht know and appreciate the real
"Can the yacht take all of us away?" was the anxious cry that went round
They saw the tug put out to meet the small boat; they witnessed the same
old manoeuvres; they sustained a chill of surprise and despair when the
bright, white and blue boat from the yacht came to a stop at the command
from the tug.
There was an hour of parleying. The beleaguered ones signalled with
despairing energy; the flag, limp in the damp air above the chateau,
shot up and down in pitiful eagerness.
But the small boat edged away from close proximity to the tug and the
near-by dock. They spoke each other at long and ever-widening range. At
last, the yacht's boat turned and fled toward the trim white hull.
Almost before the startled, dazed people on the balcony could grasp the
full and horrible truth, the yacht had lifted anchor and was slowly
headed out to sea.
It was unbelievable!
With stupefied, incredulous eyes, they saw the vessel get quickly under
way. She steamed from the pest-ridden harbour with scarcely so much as a
glance behind. Then they shouted and screamed after her, almost maddened
by this final, convincing proof of the consummate deviltry against which
they were destined to struggle.
Chase looked grimly about him, into the questioning, stricken faces of
his companions. He drew his hand across his moist forehead.
"Ladies and gentlemen," he said seriously and without the faintest
intent to jest, "we are supposed to be dead!"
There was a single shriek from the bride of Thomas Saunders; no sound
left the dry lips of the other watchers, who stood as if petrified and
kept their eyes glued upon the disappearing yacht.
"They have left me here to die!" came from the stiffened lips of the
Princess Genevra. "They have deserted me. God in heaven!"
"Look!" cried Chase, pointing to the dock. Half a dozen glasses were
turned in that direction.
The dying and the dead were leaping about in the wildest exhibition of
The yacht slipped into the unreachable horizon, the feathery cloud from
its stack lying over against the leaden sky, shaped like a finger that
pointed mockingly the way to safety.
White-faced and despairing, the watchers turned away and dragged
themselves into the splendid halls of the building they had now come to
regard as their tomb. Their voices were hushed and tremulous; they were
looking at the handwriting on the wall. They had not noticed it there
Saunders was bravely saying to his distracted wife, as he led her down
the marble hall:
"Don't give up the ship, dear. My word for it, we'll live to see that
garden out Hammersmith way. My word for it, dear."
"He's trying so hard to be brave," said Genevra, oppressed by the
knowledge that it was _her_ ship that had played them false. "And Agnes?
Look, Hollingsworth! She is herself again. Ah, these British women come
up under the lash, don't they?"
Lady Deppingham had thrown off her hopeless, despondent air; she was
crying out words of cheer and encouragement to those about her. Her eyes
were flashing, her head was erect and her voice was rich with
"And you?" asked Chase, after a moment. "What of you? Your ship has come
and gone and you are still here--with me. You almost wished for this."
"No. I almost wished that it would _not_ come. There is a distinction,"
she said bitterly. "It has come and it has disappointed all of us--not
"Do you remember what it was that Saunders said about having lived only
a week, all told? The rest was nothing."
"Yes--but you have seen that Saunders still covets life in a garden at
Hammersmith Bridge. I am no less human than Mr. Saunders."
All day long the islanders rejoiced. Their shouts could be plainly heard
by the besieged; their rifles cracked sarcastic greetings from the
forest; bullets whistled gay accompaniments to the ceaseless song:
"Allah is great! Allah is good!"
No man in the despised house of Taswell Skaggs slept that night. The
guard was doubled at all points open to attack. It was well that the
precaution was taken, for the islanders, believing that the enemy's
force had been largely reduced by the polluted water, made a vicious
assault on the lower gates. There was a fierce exchange of shots and the
attackers drew away, amazed, stunned by the discovery that the
beleaguered band was as strong and as determined as ever.
At two in the morning, Deppingham, Browne and Chase came up from the
walls for coffee and an hour's rest.
"Chase, if you don't get your blooming cruiser here before long, we'll
be as little worth the saving as old man Skaggs, up there in his
open-work grave," Deppingham was saying as he threw himself wearily into
a chair in the breakfast room. They were wet and cold. They had heard
Rasula's minions shouting derisively all night long: "Where is the
warship? Where is the warship?"
"It will come. I am positive," said Chase, insistent in spite of his
dejection. They drank their coffee in silence. He knew that the
others--including the native who served them--were regarding him with
the pity that one extends to the vain-glorious braggart who goes down
with flying colours.
He went out upon the west gallery and paced its windswept length for
half an hour or more. Then, utterly fagged, he threw himself into an
unexposed chair and stared through tired eyes into the inscrutable night
that hid the sea from view. The faithless, moaning, jeering sea!
When he aroused himself with a start, the grey, drizzly dawn was upon
him. He had slept. His limbs were stiff and sore; his face was drenched
by the fine rain that had searched him out with prankish glee.
The next instant he was on his feet, clutching the stone balustrade with
a grip of iron, his eyes starting from his head. A shout arose to his
lips, but he lacked the power to give it voice. For many minutes he
stood there, rooted to the spot, a song of thanksgiving surging in his
He looked about him at last. He was alone in the gallery. A quaint smile
grew in his face; his eyes were bright and full of triumph. After a full
minute of preparation, he made his way toward the breakfast room,
outwardly as calm as a May morning.
Browne and Deppingham were asleep in the chairs. He shook them
vigorously. As they awoke and stared uncomprehendingly at the disturber
of their dreams, he said, in the coolest, most matter-of-fact way:
"There's an American cruiser outside the harbour. Get up!"
IN THE SAME GRAVE WITH SKAGGS
Down in the village of Aratat there were signs of a vast commotion.
Early risers and the guards were flying from house to house, shouting
the news. The citizens piled from their couches and raced pell-mell into
the streets, unbelieving, demoralised. With one accord they rushed to
the water front--men, women and children. Consternation was succeeded by
utter panic. Rasula's wild shouts went unheeded. He screamed and fought
to secure order among his people, but his efforts were as nought against
the storm of terror that confronted him.
Outside the harbour lay the low, savage-looking ship. Its guns were
pointed directly at the helpless town; its decks were swarming with
white-clothed men; it was alive and it glowered with rage in its evil
The plague was forgotten! The strategy that had driven off the ships of
peace was lost in the face of this ugly creature of war. No man
grovelled on the dock with the convulsions of death; no man hearkened to
the bitter, impotent words of the single wise man among them. Rasula's
reign of strategy was ended.
Howling like a madman, he tried to drive the company's tug out to meet
the sailors and urge them to keep away from the pest-ridden island. It
was like pleading with a mountain avalanche.
"They will not fire! They dare not!" he was shrieking, as he dashed back
and forth along the dock. "It is chance! They do not come for Chase!
Believe in me! The tug! The tug! They must not land!" But others were
raging even more wildly than he, and they were calling upon Allah for
help, for mercy; they were shrieking maledictions upon themselves and
screaming praises to the sinister thing of death that glowered upon them
from its spaceless lair.
The crash of the long-unused six-pounder at the chateau, followed almost
immediately by a great roar from one of the cruiser's guns, brought the
panic to a crisis.
The islanders scattered like chaff before the wind, looking wild-eyed
over their shoulders in dread of the pursuing cannon-ball, dodging in
and out among the houses and off into the foothills.
Rasula, undaunted but crazed with disappointment, stuck to his colours
on the deserted dock. He cursed and raved and begged. In time, two or
three of the more canny, realising that safety lay in an early peace
offering, ventured out beside him. Others followed their example and
still others slunk trembling to the fore, their voices ready to protest
innocence and friendship and loyalty.
They had heard of the merciless American gunner and they knew, in their
souls, that he could shoot the island into atoms before nightfall.
The native lawyer harangued them and cursed them and at last brought
them to understand, in a feeble way, that no harm could come to them if
they faced the situation boldly. The Americans would not land on British
soil; it would precipitate war with England. They would not dare to
attempt a bombardment: Chase was a liar, a mountebank, a dog! After
shouting himself hoarse in his frenzy of despair, he finally succeeded
in forcing the men to get up steam in the company's tug. All this time,
the officers of the American warship were dividing their attention
between land and sea. Another vessel was coming up out of the misty
horizon. The men on board knew it to be a British man-of-war! At last
steam was up in the tug. A hundred or more of the islanders had ventured
from their hiding places and were again huddled upon the dock.
Suddenly the throng separated as if by magic, opening a narrow path down
which three white men approached the startled Rasula. A hundred eager
hands were extended, a hundred voices cried out for mercy, a hundred
Mohammedans beat their heads in abject submission.
Hollingsworth Chase, Lord Deppingham and a familiar figure in an
ill-fitting red jacket and forage cap strode firmly, defiantly between
the rows of humble Japatites. Close behind them came a tall, resolute
grenadier of the Rapp-Thorberg army.
"Make way there, make way!" Mr. Bowles was crying, brandishing the
antique broadsword that had come down to Wyckholme from the dark ages.
"Stand aside for the British Government! Make way for the American!"
Rasula's jaw hung limp in the face of this amazing exhibition of courage
on the part of the enemy. He could not at first believe his eyes.
Hoarse, inarticulate cries came from his froth-covered lips. He was
glaring insanely at the calm, triumphant face of the man from Brodney's,
who was now advancing upon him with the assurance of a conqueror.
"You see, Rasula, I have called for the cruiser and it has come at my
bidding." Turning to the crowd that surged up from behind, cowed and
cringing, Chase said: "It rests with you. If I give the word, that ship
will blow you from the face of the earth. I am your friend, people. I
would you no harm, but good. You have been misled by Rasula. Rasula, you
are not a fool. You can save yourself, even now. I am here as the
servant of these people, not as their master. I intend to remain here
until I am called back by the man who sent me to you. You have----"
Rasula uttered a shriek of rage. He had been crouching back among his
cohorts, panting with fury. Now he sprang forward, murder in his eyes.
His arm was raised and a great pistol was levelled at the breast of the
man who faced him so coolly, so confidently. Deppingham shouted and took
a step forward to divert the aim of the frenzied lawyer.
A revolver cracked behind the tall American and Rasula stopped in his
tracks. There was a great hole in his forehead; his eyes were bursting;
he staggered backward, his knees gave way; and, as the blood filled the
hole and streamed down his face, he sank to the ground--dead!
The soldier from Rapp-Thorberg, a smoking pistol in his hand, the other
raised to his helmet, stepped to the side of Hollingsworth Chase.
"By order of Her Serene Highness, sir," he said quietly.
"Good God!" gasped Chase, passing his hand across his brow. For a full
minute there was no sound to be heard on the pier except the lapping of
the waves. Deppingham, repressing a shudder, addressed the stunned
"Take the body away. May that be the end of all assassins!"
* * * * *
The _King's Own_ came alongside the American vessel in less than an
hour. Accompanied by the British agent, Mr. Bowles, Chase and Deppingham
left the dock in the company's tug and steamed out toward the two
monsters. The American had made no move to send men ashore, nor had the
British agent deemed it wise to ask aid of the Yankees in view of the
fact that a vessel of his own nation was approaching.
Standing on the forward deck of the swift little tug, Chase
unconcernedly accounted for the timely arrival of the two cruisers.
"Three weeks ago I sent out letters by the mail steamer, to be delivered
to the English or American commanders, wherever they might be found.
Undoubtedly they were met with in the same port. That is why I was so
positive that help would come, sooner or later. It was very simple. Lord
Deppingham, merely a case of foresightedness. I knew that we'd need help
and I knew that if I brought the cruisers my power over these people
would never be disturbed again."
"My word!" exclaimed the admiring Bowles.
"Chase, you may be theatric, but you are the most dependable chap the
world has ever known," said Deppingham, and he meant it.
The warships remained off the harbour all that day. Officers from both
ships were landed and escorted to the chateau, where joy reigned
supreme, notwithstanding the fact that the grandchildren of the old men
of the island were morally certain that their cause was lost. The
British captain undertook to straighten out matters on the island. He
consented to leave a small detachment of marines in the town to protect
Chase and the bank, and he promised the head men of the village, whom he
had brought aboard the ship, that no mercy would be shown if he or the
American captain was compelled to make a second visit in response to a
call for aid. To a man the islanders pledged fealty to the cause of
peace and justice: they shouted the names of Chase and Allah in the same
breath, and demanded of the latter that He preserve the former's beard
for all eternity.
The _King's Own_ was to convey the liberated heirs, their goods and
chattels, their servants and their penates (if any were left inviolate)
to Aden, whither the cruiser was bound. At that port a P. & O. steamer
would pick them up. One white man elected to stay on the island with
Hollingsworth Chase, who steadfastly refused to desert his post until
Sir John Brodney indicated that his mission was completed. That one man
was the wearer of the red jacket, the bearer of the King's commission in
Japat, the undaunted Mr. Bowles, won over from his desire to sit once
more on the banks of the Serpentine and to dine forever in the Old
The Princess Genevra, the wistful light deepening hourly in her
blue-grey eyes, avoided being alone with the man whom she was leaving
behind. She had made up her mind to accept the fate inevitable; he had
reconciled himself to the ending of an impossible dream. There was
nothing more to say, except farewell. She may have bled in her soul for
him and for the happiness that was dying as the minutes crept on to the
hour of parting, but she carefully, deliberately concealed the wounds
from all those who stood by and questioned with their eyes.
She was a princess of Rapp-Thorberg!
The last day dawned. The sun smiled down upon them. The soft breeze of
the sea whispered the curse of destiny into their ears; it crooned the
song of heritage; it called her back to the fastnesses where love may
not venture in.
The chateau was in a state of upheaval; the exodus was beginning.
Servants and luggage had departed on their way to the dock. Palanquins
were waiting to carry the lords and ladies of the castle down to the
sea. The Princess waited until the last moment. She went to him. He was
standing apart from the rest, coldly indifferent to the pangs he was
"I shall love you always," she said simply, giving him her hand.
"Always, Hollingsworth." Her eyes were wide and hopeless, her lips were
He bowed his head. "May God give you all the happiness that I wish for
you," he said. "The End!"
She looked steadily into his eyes for a long time, searching his soul
for the hope that never dies. Then she gently withdrew her hands and
stood away from him, humbled in her own soul.
"Yes," she whispered. "Good-bye."
He straightened his shoulders and drew a deep breath through compressed
nostrils. "Good-bye! God bless you," was all that he said.
She left him standing there; the wall between them was too high, too
impregnable for even Love to storm.
Lady Deppingham came to him there a moment later. "I am sorry," she said
tenderly. "Is there no hope?"
"There is no hope--for _her_!" he said bitterly. "She was condemned too
On the pier they said good-bye to him. He was laughing as gaily and as
blithely as if the world held no sorrows in all its mighty grasp.
"I'll look you up in London," he said to the Deppinghams. "Remember, the
real trial is yet to come. Good-bye, Browne. Good-bye, all! You _may_
come again another day!"
The launch slipped away from the pier. He and Bowles stood there, side
by side, pale-faced but smiling, waving their handkerchiefs. He felt
that Genevra was still looking into his eyes, even when the launch crept
up under the walls of the distant ship.
Slowly the great vessel got under way. The American cruiser was already
low on the horizon. There was a single shot from the _King's Own_: a
Hollingsworth Chase turned away at last. There were tears in his eyes
and there were tears in those of Mr. Bowles.
"Bowles," said he, "it's a rotten shame they didn't think to say
good-bye to old man Skaggs. He's in the same grave with us."
A TOAST TO THE PAST
The middle of June found the Deppinghams leaving London once more, but
this time not on a voyage into the mysterious South Seas. They no longer
were interested in the island of Japat, except as a reminiscence, nor
were they concerned in the vagaries of Taswell Skaggs's will.
The estate was settled--closed!
Mr. Saunders was mentioned nowadays only in narrative form, and but
rarely in that way. True, they had promised to visit the little place in
Hammersmith if they happened to be passing by, and they had graciously
admitted that it would give them much pleasure to meet his good mother.
Two months have passed since the Deppinghams departed from Japat, "for
good and all." Many events have come to pass since that memorable day,
not the least of which was the exchanging of L500,000 sterling, less
attorneys' and executors' fees. To be perfectly explicit and as brief as
possible, Lady Deppingham and Robert Browne divided that amount of money
and passed into legal history as the "late claimants to the Estate of
It was Sir John Brodney's enterprise. He saw the way out of the
difficulty and he acted as pathfinder to the other and less perceiving
counsellors, all of whom had looked forward to an endless controversy.
The business of the Japat Company and all that it entailed was
transferred by agreement to a syndicate of Jews!
Never before was there such a stupendous deal in futures.
Soon after the arrival in England of the two claimants, it became known
that the syndicate was casting longing eyes upon the far-away garden of
rubies and sapphires. There was no hope of escape from a long, bitter
contest in the courts. Sir John perhaps saw that there was a possible
chance to break the will of the testator; he was an old man and he would
hardly live long enough to fight the case to the end. In the
interregnum, his clients, the industrious islanders, would be slaving
themselves into a hale old age and a subsequently unhallowed grave, none
the wiser and none the richer than when the contest began, except for
the proportionately insignificant share that was theirs by right of
original possession. Sir John took it upon himself to settle the matter
while his clients were still in a condition to appreciate the results.
He proposed a compromise.
It was not so much a question of jurisprudence, he argued, as it was a
matter of self-protection for all sides to the controversy--more
particularly that side which assembled the inhabitants of Japat.
And so it came to pass that the Jews, after modifying some twenty or
thirty propositions of their own, ultimately assumed the credit of
evolving the plan that had originated in the resourceful head of Sir
John Brodney, and affairs were soon brought to a close.
The grandchildren of the testators were ready to accept the best
settlement that could be obtained. Theirs was a rather forlorn hope, to
begin with. When it was proposed that Agnes Deppingham and Robert Browne
should accept L250,000 apiece in lieu of all claims, moral or legal,
against the estate, they leaped at the chance.
They had seen but little of each other since landing in England, except
as they were thrown together at the conferences. There was no pretence
of intimacy on either side; the shadow of the past was still there to
remind them that a skeleton lurked behind and grinned spitefully in its
obscurity. Lady Agnes went in for every diversion imaginable; for a
wonder, she dragged Deppingham with her on all occasions. It was a most
unexpected transformation; their friends were puzzled. The rumour went
about town that she was in love with her husband.
As for Bobby Browne, he was devotion itself to Drusilla. They sailed for
New York within three days after the settlement was effected, ignoring
the enticements of a London season--which could not have mattered much
to them, however, as Drusilla emphatically refused to wear the sort of
gowns that Englishwomen wear when they sit in the stalls. Besides, she
preferred the Boston dressmakers. The Brownes were rich. He could now
become a fashionable specialist. They were worth nearly a million and a
quarter in American dollars. Moreover, they, as well as the Deppinghams,
were the possessors of rubies and sapphires that had been thrust upon
them by supplicating adversaries in the hour of departure--gems that
might have bought a dozen wives in the capitals of Persia; perhaps a
score in the mountains where the Kurds are cheaper. The Brownes
naturally were eager to get back to Boston. They now had nothing in
common with Taswell Skaggs; Skaggs is not a pretty name.
Mr. Britt afterward spent three weeks of incessant travel on the
continent and an additional seven days at sea. In Baden-Baden he
happened upon Lord and Lady Deppingham. It will be recalled that in
Japat they had always professed an unholy aversion for Mr. Britt. Is it
cause for wonder then that they declined his invitation to dine in
Baden-Baden? He even proposed to invite their entire party, which
included a few dukes and duchesses who were leisurely on their way to
attend the long-talked-of nuptials in Thorberg at the end of June.
The Syndicate, after buying off the hereditary forces, assumed a half
interest in the Japat Company's business; the islanders controlled the
remaining half. The mines were to be operated under the management of
the Jews and eight hours were to constitute a day's work. The personal
estate passed into the hands of the islanders, from whom Skaggs had
appropriated it in conjunction with John Wyckholme. All in all, it
seemed a fair settlement of the difficulty. The Jews paid something like
L2,000,000 sterling to the islanders in consideration of a twenty years'
grant. Their experts had examined the property before the death of Mr.
Skaggs; they were not investing blindly in the great undertaking.
Mr. Levistein, the president of the combine, after a long talk with Lord
Deppingham, expressed the belief that the chateau could be turned into a
money-making hotel if properly advertised--outside of the island.
Deppingham admitted, that if he kept the prices up, there was no reason
in the world why the better class of Jews should not flock there for the
Before the end of June, representatives of the combine, attended by
officers of the court, a small army of clerks, a half dozen lawyers and
two capable men from the office of Sir John Brodney, set sail for Japat,
provided with the power and the means to effect the transfer agreed upon
in the compromise.
In Vienna the Deppinghams were joined by the Duchess of N------, the
Marchioness of B------ and other fashionables. In a week all of them
would be in the Castle at Thorberg, for the ceremony that now occupied
the attention of social and royal Europe.
"And to think," said the Duchess, "she might have died happily on that
miserable island. I am sure we did all we could to bring it about by
steaming away from the place with the plague chasing after us. Dear me,
how diabolically those wretches lied to the Marquess. They said that
every one in the chateau was dead, Lady Deppingham--and buried, if I am
The party was dining with one of the Prince Lichtensteins in the Hotel
Bristol after a drive in the Haupt-Allee.
"My dog, I think, was the only one of us who died, Duchess," said Lady
Agnes airily. "And he was buried. They were that near to the truth."
"It would be much better for poor Genevra if she were to be buried
instead of married next week," lamented the Duchess.
"My dear, how ridiculous. She isn't dead yet, by any manner of means.
Why bury her? She's got plenty of life left in her, as Karl Brabetz will
learn before long." Thus spoke the far-sighted Marchioness, aunt of the
bride-to-be. "It's terribly gruesome to speak of burying people before
they are actually dead."
"Other women have married princes and got on very well," said Prince
"Oh, come now, Prince," put in Lord Deppingham, "you know the sort of
chap Brabetz is. There are princes and princes, by Jove."
"He's positively vile!" exclaimed the Duchess, who would not mince
"She's entering upon a hell of a--I mean a life of hell," exploded the
Duke, banging the table with his fist. "That fellow Brabetz is the
rottenest thing in Europe. He's gone from bad to worse so swiftly that
public opinion is still months behind him."
"Nice way to talk of the groom," said the host genially. "I quite agree
with you, however. I cannot understand the Grand Duke permitting it to
go on--unless, of course, it's too late to interfere."
"Poor dear, she'll never know what it is to be loved and cherished,"
said the Marchioness dolefully.
Lord and Lady Deppingham glanced at each other. They were thinking of
the man who stood on the dock at Aratat when the _King's Own_ sailed
"The Grand Duke is probably saying the very thing to himself that
Brabetz's associates are saying in public," ventured a young Austrian
"What is that, pray?"
"That the Prince won't live more than six months. He's a physical wreck
to-day--and a nervous one, too. Take my word for it, he will be a
creeping, imbecile thing inside of half a year. Locomotor ataxia and all
that. It's coming, positively, with a sharp crash."
"I've heard he has tried to kill that woman in Paris half a dozen
times," remarked one of the women, taking it as a matter of course that
every one knew who she meant by "that woman." As no one even so much as
looked askance, it is to be presumed that every one knew.
"She was really responsible for the postponement of the wedding in
December, I'm told. Of course, I don't know that it is true," said the
Marchioness, wisely qualifying her gossip. "My brother, the Grand Duke,
does not confide in me."
"Oh, I think that story was an exaggeration," said her husband. "Genevra
says that he was very ill--nervous something or other."
"Probably true, too. He's a wreck. She will be the prettiest widow in
Europe before Christmas," said the young count. "Unless, of course, any
one of the excellent husbands surrounding me should die," he added
"Well, my heart bleeds for her," said Deppingham.
"She's going into it with her eyes open," said the Prince. "It isn't as
if she hadn't been told. She could see for herself. She knows there's
the other woman in Paris and--Oh, well, why should we make a funeral of
it? Let's do our best to be revellers, not mourners. She'll live to fall
in love with some other man. They always do. Every woman has to love at
least once in her life--if she lives long enough. Come, come! Is my
entertainment to develop into a premature wake? Let us forget the future
of the Princess Genevra and drink to her present!"
"And to her past, if you don't mind, Prince!" amended Lord Deppingham,
looking into his wife's sombre eyes.
THE TITLE CLEAR
Two men and a woman stood in the evening glow, looking out over the
tranquil sea that crept up and licked the foot of the cliff. At their
back rose the thick, tropical forest; at its edge and on the nape of the
cliff stood a bungalow, fresh from the hands of a hundred willing
toilsmen. Below, on their right, lay the gaudy village, lolling in the
heat of the summer's day. Far off to the north, across the lowlands and
beyond the sweep of undulating and ever-lengthening hills, could be seen
a great, reddish structure, its gables and towers fusing with the sombre
shades of the mountain against which they seemed to lean.
It was September. Five months had passed since the _King's Own_ steamed
away from the harbour of Aratat. The new dispensation was in full
effect. During the long, sickening weeks that preceded the coming of the
Syndicate, Hollingsworth Chase toiled faithfully, resolutely for the
restoration of order and system among the demoralised people of Japat.
The first few weeks of rehabilitation were hard ones: the islanders were
ready to accede to everything he proposed, but their submissiveness was
due in no small measure to the respect they entertained for his almost
supernatural powers. In course of time this feeling was more or less
dissipated and a condition of true confidence took its place. The
lawless element--including the misguided husbands whose jealousy had
been so skilfully worked upon by Rasula and Jacob von Blitz--this
element, greatly in the minority, subsided into a lackadaisical,
law-abiding activity, with little prospect of again attempting to
exercise themselves in another direction. Murder had gone out of their
Eager hands set to work to construct a suitable home for the tall
arbiter. He chose a position on the point that ran out into the sea
beyond the town. It was this point which the yacht was rounding on that
memorable day when he and one other had watched it from the gallery,
stirred by emotions they were never to forget. Besides, the cliff on
which the new bungalow stood represented the extreme western extremity
of the island and therefore was nearest of all Japat to civilisation
Conditions in Aratat were not much changed from what they had been prior
to the event of the legatory invaders. The mines were in full operation;
the bank was being conducted as of yore; the people were happy and
confident; the town was fattening on its own flesh; the sun was as
merciless and the moon as gentle as in the days of old.
The American bar changed hands with the arrival of the new forces from
the Occident; the Jews and the English clerks, the surveyors and the
engineers, the solicitors and the agents, were now domiciled in
"headquarters." Chase turned over the "bar" when he retired from active
service under Sir John Brodney. With the transfer of the company's
business his work was finished. Two young men from Sir John's were now
settled in Aratat as legal advisers to the islanders, Chase having
declined to serve longer in that capacity.
He was now waiting for the steamer which was to take him to Cape Town on
his way to England--and home.
The chateau was closed and in the hands of a small army of caretakers.
The three widows of Jacob von Blitz were now married to separate and
distinct husbands, all of whom retained their places as heads of
departments at the chateau, proving that courtship had not been confined
to the white people during the closing days of the siege.
The head of the bank was Oscar Arnheimer, Mr. Bowles having been deposed
because his methods were even more obsolete than his coat of armour.
Selim disposed of his lawful interest in the corporation to Ben Ali, the
new Cadi, and was waiting to accompany his master to America. It may be
well to add that the deal did not include the transfer of Neenah. She
was not for sale, said Selim to Ben Ali.
It was of Mr. Bowles that the three persons were talking as they stood
in the evening glow.
"Yes, Selim," said the tall man in flannels, "he's a sort of old dog
Tray--ever faithful but not the right kind. You don't happen to know
anything of old dog Tray, do you? No? I thought not. Nor you, Neenah?
Well, he was----"
"Was he the one who was poisoned at the chateau, excellency?" asked
"No, my dear," he replied soberly. "If I remember my history, he died in
the seventeenth century or thereabouts. It's really of no consequence,
however. Any good, faithful dog will serve my purpose. What I want to
impress upon you is this: it is most difficult for a faithful old dog to
survive a change of masters. It isn't human nature--or dog nature,
either. I'm glad that you are convinced, Neenah--but please don't tell
Sahib Bowles that he is a dog."
"Oh, no, excellency!" she cried earnestly.
"She is very close-mouthed, sahib," added Selim, with conviction.
"We'll take Bowles to England with us next week," went on Chase
dreamily. "We'll leave Japat to take care of itself. I don't know which
it is in most danger of, seismic or Semitic disturbances."
He lighted a fresh cigarette, tenderly fingering it before applying the
"I'll smoke one of hers to-night, Selim. See! I keep them apart from the
others, in this little gold case. I smoke them only when I am thinking.
Now, run in and tell Mr. Bowles that I said he was a Tray. I want to be
They left him and he threw himself upon the green sod, his back to a
tree, his face toward the distant chateau. Hours afterward the faithful
Selim came out to tell him that it was bedtime. He found his master
still sitting there, looking across the moonlit flat in the direction of
a place in the hills where once he had dwelt in marble halls.
"Selim," he said, arising and laying his hand upon his servant's
shoulder, his voice unsteady with finality, "I have decided, after all,
to go to Paris! We will live there, Selim. Do you understand?" with
strange fierceness, a great exultation mastering him. "We are to live in
To himself, all that night, he was saying: "I _must_ see her again--I
_shall_ see her!"
A thousand times he had read and re-read the letter that Lady Deppingham
had written to him just before the ceremony in the cathedral at
Thorberg. He knew every word that it contained; he could read it in the
dark. She had said that Genevra was going into a hell that no hereafter
could surpass in horrors! And that was ages ago, it seemed to him.
Genevra had been a wife for nearly three months--the wife of a man she
loathed; she was calling in her heart for him to come to her; she was
suffering in that unspeakable hell. All this he had come to feel and
shudder over in his unspeakable loneliness. He would go to her! There
could be no wrong in loving her, in being near her, in standing by her
in those hours of desperation.
A copy of a London newspaper, stuffed away in the recesses of his trunk,
dated June 29th, had come to him by post. It contained the telegraphic
details of the brilliant wedding in Thorberg. He had read the names of
the guests over and over again with a bitterness that knew no bounds.
Those very names proved to him that her world was not his, nor ever
could be. Every royal family in Europe was represented; the list of
noble names seemed endless to him--the flower of the world's
aristocracy. How he hated them!
The next morning Selim aroused him from his fitful sleep, bringing the
news that a strange vessel had arrived off Aratat. Chase sprang out of
bed, possessed of the wild hope that the opportunity to leave the island
had come sooner than he had expected. He rushed out upon his veranda,
overlooking the little harbour.
A long, white, graceful craft was lying in the harbour. It was in so
close to the pier that he had no choice but to recognise it as a vessel
of light draft. He stared long and intently at the trim craft.
"Can I be dreaming?" he muttered, passing his hand over his eyes. "Don't
lie to me, Selim! Is it really there?" Then he uttered a loud cry of joy
and started off down the slope with the speed of a race horse, shouting
in the frenzy of an uncontrollable glee.
It was the Marquess of B----'s white and blue yacht!
* * * * *
Three weeks later, Hollingsworth Chase stepped from the deck of the
yacht to the pier in Marseilles; the next day he was in Paris, attended
by the bewildered and almost useless Selim. An old and valued friend, a
campaigner of the war-time days, met him at the Gare de Lyon in response
to a telegram.
"I'll tell you the whole story of Japat, Arch, but not until to-morrow,"
Chase said to him as they drove toward the Ritz. "I arrived yesterday on
the Marquess of B----'s yacht--the _Cricket_. Do you know him? Of course
you do. Everybody does. The _Cricket_ was cruising down my way and
picked me up--Bowles and me. The captain came a bit out of his way to
call at Aratat, but he had orders of some sort from the Marquess, by
cable, I fancy, to stop off for me."
He did not regard it as necessary to tell his correspondent friend that
the _Cricket_ had sailed from Marseilles with but one port in
view--Aratat. He did not tell him that the _Cricket_ had come with a
message to him and that he was answering it in person, as it was
intended that he should--a message written six weeks before his arrival
in France. There were many things that Chase did not explain to
"You're looking fine, Chase, old man. Did you a lot of good out there.
You're as brown as that Arab in the taximetre back there. By Jove, old
man, that Persian girl is ripping. You say she's his wife? She's--"
Chase broke in upon this far from original estimate of the picturesque
"I say, Arch, there's something I want to know before I go to the
Marquess's this evening. I'm due there with my thanks. He lives in the
Boulevard St. Germain--I've got the number all right. Is one likely to
find the house full of swells? I'm a bit of a savage just now and I'm
His friend stared at him for a moment.
"I can save you the trouble of going to the Marquess," he said. "He and
the Marchioness are in London at present. Left Paris a month ago."
"What? The house is closed?" in deep anxiety.
"I think not. Servants are all there, I daresay. Their place adjoins the
Brabetz palace. The Princess is his niece, you know."
"You say the Brabetz palace is next door?" demanded Chase, steadying his
voice with an effort.
"Yes--the old Flaurebert mansion. The Princess was to have been the
social sensation of Paris this year. She's a wonderful beauty, you
"Was to have been?"
"She married that rotten Brabetz last June--but, of course, you never
heard of it out there in what's-the-name-of-the-place. You may have
heard of his murder, however. His mistress shot him in Brussels----"
"Great God, man!" gasped Chase, clutching his arm in a grip of iron.
"The devil, Chase!" cried the other, amazed. "What's the matter?"
"He's dead? Murdered? How--when? Tell me about it," cried Chase, his
agitation so great that James looked at him in wonder.
"'Gad, you seem to be interested!"
"I _am_! Where is she--I mean the Princess? And the other woman?"
"Cool off, old man. People are staring at you. It's not a long story.
Brabetz was shot three weeks ago at a hotel in Brussels. He'd been
living there for two months, more or less, with the woman. In fact, he
left Paris almost immediately after he was married to the Princess
Genevra. The gossip is that she wouldn't live with him. She'd found out
what sort of a dog he was. They didn't have a honeymoon and they didn't
attempt a bridal tour. Somehow, they kept the scandal out of the papers.
Well, he hiked out of Paris at the end of a week, just before the 14th.
The police had asked the woman to leave town. He followed. Dope fiend,
they say. The bride went into seclusion at once. She's never to be seen
anywhere. The woman shot him through the head and then took a fine dose
of poison. They tried to save her life, but couldn't. It was a ripping
news story. The prominence of the----"
"This was a month ago?" demanded Chase, trying to fix something in his
mind. "Then it was _after_ the yacht left Marseilles with orders to pick
me up at Aratat."
"What are you talking about? Sure it was, if the yacht left Marseilles
six weeks ago. What's that got to do with it?"
"Nothing. Don't mind me, Arch. I'm a bit upset."
"There was talk of a divorce almost before the wedding bells ceased
ringing. The Grand Duke got his eyes opened when it was too late. He
repented of the marriage. The Princess was obliged to live in Paris for
a certain length of time before applying to the courts for freedom.
'Gad, I'll stake my head she's happy these days!"
Chase was silent for a long time. He was quite cool and composed when at
last he turned to his friend.
"Arch, do me a great favour. Look out for Selim and Neenah. Take 'em to
the hotel and see that they get settled. I'll join you this evening.
Don't ask questions, but put me down here. I'll take another cab.
There's a good fellow. I'll explain soon. I'm--I'm going somewhere and
I'm in a hurry."
* * * * *
The _voiture_ drew up before the historic old palace in the Boulevard
St. Germain. Chase's heart was beating furiously as he stepped to the
curb. The _cocher_ leaned forward for instructions. His fare hesitated
for a moment, swayed by a momentary indecision.
"_Attendre_" he said finally. The driver adjusted his register and
settled back to wait. Then Chase mounted the steps and lifted the
knocker with trembling fingers. He was dizzy with eagerness, cold with
She had asked him to come to her--but conditions were not the same as
when she sent the compelling message. There had come into her life a
vital break, a change that altered everything. What was it to mean to
He stood a moment later in the salon of the old Flaurebert palace,
vaguely conscious that the room was darkened by the drawn blinds, and
that it was cool and sweet to his senses. He knew that she was coming
down the broad hallway--he could hear the rustle of her gown.
Inconsequently he was wondering whether she would be dressed in black.
Then, to his humiliation, he remembered that he was wearing uncouth,
She was dressed in white--a house gown, simple and alluring. There was
no suggestion of the coronet, no shadow of grief in her manner as she
came swiftly toward him, her hands extended, a glad light in her eyes.
The tall man, voiceless with emotion, clasped her hands in his and
looked down into the smiling, rapturous face.
"You came!" she said, almost in a whisper.
"Yes. I could not have stayed away. I have just heard that you--you are
free. You must not expect me to offer condolences. It would be sheer
hypocrisy. I am glad--God, I am glad! You sent for me--you sent the
yacht, Genevra, before--before you were free. I came, knowing that you
belonged to another. I find you the same as when I knew you first--when
I held you in my arms and heard you say that you loved me. You do not
grieve--you do not mourn. You are the same--my Genevra--the same that I
have dreamed of and suffered for all these months. Something tells me
that you have descended to my plane. I will not kiss you, Genevra, until
you have promised to become my wife."
She had not taken her eyes from his white, intense face during this long
"Hollingsworth, I cannot, I will not blame you for thinking ill of me,"
she said. "Have I fallen in your eyes? I wanted you to be near me. I
wanted you to know that when the courts freed me from that man that I
would be ready and happy to come to you as _your_ wife. I am not in
mourning to-day, you see. I knew you were coming. As God is my witness,
I have no husband to mourn for. He was nothing to me. I want you for my
husband, dearest. It was what I meant when I sent out there for
you--that, and nothing else."