Part 1 out of 7
E. PHILLIPS OPPENHEIM
AUTHOR OF "THE LIGHTED WAY," "THE TEMPTING OF TAVERNAKE," "HAVOC," ETC.
WITH ILLUSTRATIONS BY HANSON BOOTH
I SYMPATHY AND SELFISHNESS
II AN INDISCREET LETTER
III A RUINED CAREER
IV A BUNCH OF VIOLETS
V A SENTIMENTAL EPISODE
VI AT THE CAFE L'ATHENEE
VII COFFEE FOR THREE
VIII IN PARIS
IX MADAME CHRISTOPHOR
X BETTER ACQUAINTANCE
XI THE TOYMAKER FROM LEIPZIG
XII AT THE RAT MORT
XIII POLITICS AND PATRIOTISM
XIV THE MORNING AFTER
XV BEHIND CLOSED DOORS
XVI "HAVE YOU EVER LOVED?"
XVII KENDRICKS IS HOST
XVIII A MEETING OF SOCIALISTS
XIX AN OFFER
XX FALKENBERG ACTS
I THE FLIGHT OF LADY ANNE
II "TO OUR NEW SELVES"
III WORK FOR JULIEN
IV A STARTLING DISCLOSURE
V THE FIRST ARTICLE
VI FALKENBERG FAILS
VII LADY ANNE DECLINES
VIII A DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE
IX FOOLHARDY JULIEN
X THE SECOND ATTEMPT
XI BY THE PRINCE'S ORDERS
XII DISTRESSING NEWS
XIII ESTERMEN'S DEATH WARRANT
XV NEARING A CRISIS
XVI FALKENBERG'S LAST REPORT
XVII DEFEAT FOR FALKENBERG
XVIII THE ONE WAY OUT
XIX ALL ENDS WELL
"Really," he said, "I thought better of Herr Freudenberg"
"At least," she reminded him, "you are going to see Madame
"Splendid!" he muttered, rising to his feet. "If only I can do it!"
"Let me present to you Monsieur Bourgan of the French Detective
SYMPATHY AND SELFISHNESS
The girl who was dying lay in an invalid chair piled up with cushions
in a sheltered corner of the lawn. The woman who had come to visit her
had deliberately turned away her head with a murmured word about the
sunshine and the field of buttercups. Behind them was the little
sanitarium, a gray stone villa built in the style of a chateau,
overgrown with creepers, and with terraced lawns stretching down to the
sunny corner to which the girl had been carried earlier in the day.
There were flowers everywhere--beds of hyacinths, and borders of purple
and yellow crocuses. A lilac tree was bursting into blossom, the breeze
was soft and full of life. Below, beyond the yellow-starred field of
which the woman had spoken, flowed the Seine, and in the distance one
could see the outskirts of Paris.
"The doctor says I am better," the girl whispered plaintively. "This
morning he was quite cheerful. I suppose he knows, but it is strange
that I should feel so weak--weaker even day by day. And my cough--it
tears me to pieces all the time."
The woman who was bending over her gulped something down in her throat
and turned her head. Although older than the invalid whom she had come
to visit, she was young and very beautiful. Her cheeks were a trifle
pale, but even without the tears her eyes were almost the color of
"The doctor must know, dear Lucie," she declared. "Our own feelings so
often mean nothing at all."
The girl moved a little uneasily in her chair. She, also, had once been
pretty. Her hair was still an exquisite shade of red-gold, but her
cheeks were thin and pinched, her complexion had gone, her clothes fell
about her. She seemed somehow shapeless.
"Yes," she agreed, "the doctor knows--he must know. I see it in his
manner every time he comes to visit me. In his heart," she added,
dropping her voice, "he must know that I am going to die."
Her eyes seemed to have stiffened in their sockets, to have become
dilated. Her lips trembled, but her eyes remained steadfast.
"Oh! madame," she sobbed, "is it not cruel that one should die like
this! I am so young. I have seen so little of life. It is not just,
madame--it is not just!"
The woman who sat by her side was shaking. Her heart was torn with
pity. Everywhere in the soft, sunlit air, wherever she looked, she
seemed to read in letters of fire the history of this girl, the history
of so many others.
"We will not talk of death, dear," she said. "Doctors are so wonderful,
nowadays. There are so few diseases which they cannot cure. They seem
to snatch one back even from the grave. Besides, you are so young. One
does not die at nineteen. Tell me about this man--Eugene, you called
him. He has never once been to see you--not even when you were in the
The girl began to tremble.
"Not once," she murmured.
"You are sure that he had your letters? He knows that you are out here
"Yes, he knows!"
There was a short silence. The woman found it hard to know what to say.
Somewhere down along the white, dusty road a man was grinding the music
of a threadbare waltz from an ancient barrel-organ. The girl closed her
"We used to hear that sometimes," she whispered, "at the cafes. At one
where we went often they used to know that I liked it and they always
played it when we came. It is queer to hear it again--like this....
Oh, when I close my eyes," she muttered, "I am afraid! It is like
shutting out life for always."
The woman by her side got up. Lucie caught at her skirt.
"Madame, you are not going yet?" she pleaded. "Am I selfish? Yet you
have not stayed with me so long as yesterday, and I am so lonely."
The woman's face had hardened a little.
"I am going to find that man," she replied. "I have his address. I want
to bring him to you."
The girl's hold upon her skirt tightened.
"Sit down," she begged. "Do not leave me. Indeed it is useless. He
knows. He does not choose to come. Men are like that. Oh! madame, I
have learned my lesson. I know now that love is a vain thing. Men do
not often really feel it. They come to us when we please them, but
afterwards that does not count. I suppose we were meant to be
sacrificed. I have given up thinking of Eugene. He is afraid, perhaps,
of the infection. I think that I would sooner go out of life as I lie
here, cold and unloved, than have him come to me unwillingly."
The woman could not hide her tears any longer. There was something so
exquisitely fragile, so strangely pathetic, in that prostrate figure by
"But, my dear," she faltered,--
"Madame," the girl interrupted, "hold my hand for a moment. That is the
doctor coming. I hear his footstep. I think that I must sleep."
Madame Christophor--she had another name, but there were few occasions
on which she cared to use it--was driven back to Paris, in accordance
with her murmured word of instruction, at a pace which took little heed
of police regulations or even of safety. Through the peaceful lanes,
across the hills into the suburbs, and into the city itself she passed,
at a speed which was scarcely slackened even when she turned into the
Boulevard which was her destination. Glancing at the slip of paper
which she held in her hand, she pulled the checkstring before a tall
block of buildings. She hurried inside, ascended two flights of stairs,
and rang the bell of a door immediately opposite her. A very
German-looking manservant opened it after the briefest of delays--a man
with fair moustache, fat, stolid face and inquisitive eyes.
"Is your master in," she demanded, "Monsieur Estermen?"
The man stared at her, then bowed. The appearance of Madame Christophor
was, without doubt, impressive.
"I will inquire, madame," he replied.
"I am in a hurry," she said curtly. "Be so good as to let your master
A moment later she was ushered into a sitting-room--a man's apartment,
untidy, reeking of cigarette smoke and stale air. There were
photographs and souvenirs of women everywhere. The windows were
fast-closed and the curtains half-drawn. The man who stood upon the
hearthrug was of medium height, dark, with close-cropped hair and a
black, drooping moustache. His first glance at his visitor, as the door
opened, was one of impertinent curiosity.
"Madame?" he inquired.
"You are Monsieur Estermen?"
He bowed. He was very much impressed and he endeavored to assume a
"That is my name. Pray be seated."
She waved away the chair he offered.
"My automobile is in the street below," she said. "I wish you to come
with me at once to see a poor girl who is dying."
He looked at her in amazement.
"Are you serious, madame?"
"I am very serious indeed," she replied. "The girl's name is Lucie
For the moment he seemed perplexed. Then his eyebrows were slowly
"Lucie Renault," he repeated. "What do you know about her?"
"Only that she is a poor child who has suffered at your hands and who
is dying in a private hospital," Madame Christophor answered. "She has
been taken there out of charity. She has no friends, she is dying
alone. Come with me. I will take you to her. You shall save her at
least from that terror."
It was the aim of the man with whom she spoke to be considered modern.
A perfect and invincible selfishness had enabled him to reach the
topmost heights of callousness, and to remain there without
"If the little girl is dying," he said, "I am sorry, for she was pretty
and companionable, although I have lost sight of her lately. But as to
my going out to see her, why, that is absurd. I hate illness of all
The woman looked at him steadfastly, looked at him as though she had
come into contact with some strange creature.
"Do you understand what it is that I am saying?" she demanded. "This
girl was once your little friend, is it not so? It was for your sake
that she gave up the simple life she was living when you first knew
her, and went upon the stage. The life was too strenuous for her. She
broke down, took no care of herself, developed a cough and alas!
The man sighed. He had adopted an expression of abstract sympathy.
"A terrible disease," he murmured.
"A terrible disease indeed," Madame Christophor repeated. "Do you not
understand what I mean when I tell you that she is dying of it? Very
likely she will not live a week--perhaps not a day. She lies there
alone in the garden of the hospital and she is afraid. There are none
who knew her, whom she cares for, to take her into their arms and to
bid her have no fear. Is it not your place to do this? You have held
her in your arms in life. Don't you see that it is your duty to cheer
her a little way on this last dark journey?"
The man threw away his cigarette and moved to the mantelpiece, where he
helped himself to a fresh one from the box.
"Madame," he said, "I perceive that you are a sentimentalist."
She did not speak--she could not. She only looked at him.
"Death," he continued, lighting his cigarette, "is an ugly thing. If it
came to me I should probably be quite as much afraid--perhaps
more--than any one else. But it has not come to me just yet. It has
come, you tell me, to little Lucie. Well, I am sorry, but there is
nothing I can do about it. I have no intention whatever of making
myself miserable. I do not wish to see her. I do not wish to look upon
death, I simply wish to forget it. If it were not, madame," he added,
with a bow and a meaning glance from his dark eyes, "that you bring
with you something of your own so well worth looking upon, I could
almost find myself regretting your visit."
She still regarded him fixedly. There was in her face something of that
shrinking curiosity with which one looks upon an unclean and horrible
"That is your answer?" she murmured.
The man had little understanding and he replied boldly.
"It is my answer, without a doubt. Lucie, if what you tell me is true,
as I do not for a moment doubt, is dying from a disease the ravages of
which are hideous to watch, and which many people believe, too, to be
infectious. Let me advise you, madame, to learn also a little wisdom.
Let me beg of you not to be led away by these efforts of sentiment,
however picturesque and delightful they may seem. The only life that is
worth considering is our own. The only death that we need fear is our
own. We ought to live like that."
The woman stood quite still. She was tall and she was slim. Her figure
was exquisite. She was famous throughout the city for her beauty. The
man's eyes dwelt upon her and the eternal expression crept slowly into
his face. He seemed to understand nothing of the shivering horror with
which she was regarding him.
"If it were upon any other errand, madame," he continued, leaning
towards her, "believe, I pray you, that no one would leave this room to
become your escort more willingly than I."
She turned away.
"You will not leave me already?" he begged.
"Monsieur," she declared, as she threw open the door before he could
reach it, "if I thought that there were many men like you in the world,
if I thought--"
She never finished her sentence. The emotions which had seized her were
entirely inexpressible. He shrugged his shoulders.
"My dear lady," he said, "let me assure you that there is not a man of
the world in this city who, if he spoke honestly, would not feel
exactly as I do. Allow me at least to see you to your automobile."
"If you dare to move," she muttered, "if you dare--"
She swept past him and down the stairs into the street. She threw
herself into the corner of the automobile. The chauffeur looked around.
"Where to, madame?" he inquired.
She hesitated for a moment. She had affairs of her own, but the thought
of the child's eyes came up before her.
"Back to the hospital," she ordered. "Drive quickly."
They rushed from Paris once more into the country, with its spring
perfumes, its soft breezes, its restful green, but fast though they
drove another messenger had outstripped them. From the little chapel,
as the car rolled up the avenue, came the slow tolling of a bell.
Madame Christophor stood on the corner of the lawn alone. The invalid
chair was empty. The blinds of the villa were being slowly lowered. She
turned around and looked toward the city. It seemed to her that she
could see into the rooms of the man whom she had left a few minutes
ago. A lark was singing over her head. She lifted her eyes and looked
past him up to the blue sky. Her lips moved, but never a sound escaped
her. Yet the man who sat in his rooms at that moment, yawning and
wondering where to spend the evening, and which companion he should
summon by telephone to amuse him, felt a sudden shiver in his veins.
AN INDISCREET LETTER
The library of the house in Grosvenor Square was spacious, handsome and
ornate. Mr. Algernon H. Carraby, M.P., who sat dictating letters to a
secretary in an attitude which his favorite photographer had rendered
exceedingly familiar, at any rate among his constituents, was also, in
his way, handsome and ornate. Mrs. Carraby, who had just entered the
room, fulfilled in an even greater degree these same characteristics.
It was acknowledged to be a very satisfactory household.
"I should like to speak to you for a moment, Algernon," his wife
Mr. Carraby noticed for the first time that she was carrying a letter
in her hand. He turned at once to his secretary.
"Haskwell," he said, "kindly return in ten minutes."
The young man quitted the room. Mrs. Carraby advanced a few steps
further towards her husband. She was tall, beautifully dressed in the
latest extreme of fashion. Her movements were quiet, her skin a little
pale, and her eyebrows a little light. Nevertheless, she was quite a
famous beauty. Men all admired her without any reservations. The best
sort of women rather mistrusted her.
"Is that the letter, Mabel?" her husband asked, with an eagerness which
he seemed to be making some effort to conceal.
She nodded slowly. He held out his hand, but she did not at once part
"Algernon," she said quietly, "you know that I am not very scrupulous.
We both of us want success--a certain sort of success--and we have both
of us been content to pay the price. You have spent a good deal of
money and you have succeeded very well indeed. Somehow or other, I feel
to-day as though I were spending more than money."
He laughed a little uncomfortably.
"My dear Mabel!" he protested. "You are not going to back out, are
"No," she replied, "I do not think that I shall back out. There is
nothing in the whole world I want so much as to have you a Cabinet
Minister. If there had been any other way--"
"But there is no other way," her husband interrupted. "So long as
Julien Portel lives, I should never get my chance. He holds the post I
want. Every one knows that he is clever. He has the ear of the Prime
Minister and he hates me. My only chance is his retirement."
Mrs. Carraby looked at the letter.
"Well," she said, "I have played your game for you. I have gone even to
the extent of being talked about with Julien Portel."
Her husband moved uneasily in his chair.
"That will all blow over directly," he declared. "Besides, if--if
things go our way, we shan't see much more of Portel. Give me the
Still she hesitated. It was curious that throughout the slow evolution
of this scheme to break a man's life, for which she was mainly
responsible, she had never hesitated until this moment. Always it had
been fixed in her mind that Algernon was to be a Cabinet Minister; she
was to be the wife of a Cabinet Minister. That there were any other
things greater in life than the gratification of so reasonable an
ambition had never seemed possible. Now she hesitated. She looked at
her husband and she saw him with new eyes. He seemed suddenly a mean
little person. She thought of the other man and there was a strange
quiver in her heart--a very unexpected sensation indeed. There was a
difference in the breed. It came home to her at that moment. She found
herself even wondering, as she swung the letter idly between her thumb
and fore-finger, whether she would have been a different woman if she
had had a different manner of husband.
"The letter!" he repeated.
She laid it calmly on the desk before him.
"Of course," she said coldly, "if you find the contents affectionate
you must remember that I am in no way responsible. This was your
scheme. I have done my best."
The man's fingers trembled slightly as he broke the seal.
"Naturally," he agreed, pausing for an instant and looking up at her.
"I knew that I could trust you or I would never have put such an idea
into your head."
She laughed; a characteristic laugh it was, quite cold, quite
mirthless, apparently quite meaningless. Carraby turned back to the
letter, tore open the envelope and spread it out before them. He read
it out aloud in a sing-song voice.
_Downing Street. Tuesday_
MY DEAREST MABEL,
I had your sweet little note an hour ago. Of course I was disappointed
about luncheon, as I always am when I cannot see you. Your promise to
repay me, however, almost reconciles me.
The man looked up at his wife.
"Promise?" he repeated hoarsely. "What does he mean?"
"Go on," she said, with unchanged expression. "See if what you want is
The man continued to read:
I am going to ask you a very great favor, Mabel. When we are alone
together, I talk to you with absolute freedom. To write you on matters
connected with my office is different. I know very well how deep and
sincere your interest in politics really is, and it has always been one
of my greatest pleasures, when with you, to talk things over and hear
your point of view. Without flattery, dear, I have really more than
once found your advice useful. It is your understanding which makes our
companionship always a pleasure to me, and I rely upon that when I beg
you not to ask me to write you again on matters to which I have really
no right to allude. You do not mind this, dear? And having read you my
little lecture, I will answer your question. Yes, the Cabinet Council
was held exactly as you surmise. With great difficulty I persuaded
B---- to adopt my view of the situation. They are all much too
terrified of this war bogey. For once I had my own way. Our answer to
this latest demand from Berlin was a prompt and decisive negative.
Nothing of this is to be known for at least a week.
I am sorry your husband is such a bear. Perhaps on Monday we may meet
at Cardington House?
Please destroy this letter at once.
Ever affectionately yours,
The man's eyes, as he read, grew brighter.
"It is enough?" the woman asked.
"It is more than enough!"
Slowly he replaced it in its envelope and thrust it into the
breast-pocket of his coat.
"What are you going to do with it?" she inquired.
"I have made my plans," he answered. "I know exactly how to make the
best and most dignified use of it."
He rose to his feet. Something in his wife's expression seemed to
disturb him. He walked a few steps toward the door and came back again.
"Mabel," he said, "are you glad?"
"Naturally I am glad," she replied.
"You have no regrets?"
Again she laughed.
"Regrets?" she echoed. "What are they? One doesn't think about such
They stood quite still in the centre of that very handsome apartment.
They were almost alien figures in the world in which they moved,
Carraby, the rankest of newcomers, carried into political life by his
wife's ambitions, his own self-amassed fortune, and a sort of subtle
cunning--a very common substitute for brains; Mrs. Carraby, on whom had
been plastered an expensive and ultra-fashionable education, although
she was able perhaps more effectually to conceal her origin, the
daughter of a rich Yorkshire manufacturer, who had secured a paid
entrance into Society. They were purely artificial figures for the very
reason that they never admitted any one of these facts to themselves,
but talked always the jargon of the world to which they aspired, as
though they were indeed denizens therein by right. At that moment,
though, a single natural feeling shook the man, shook his faith in
himself, in life, in his destiny. There was Jewish blood in his veins
and it made itself felt.
"Mabel," he began, "this man Portel--you've flirted with him, you say?"
"I have most certainly flirted with him," she admitted quietly.
"He hasn't dared--"
A flash of scorn lit her cold eyes.
"I think," she said, "that you had better ask me no questions of that
Carraby went slowly out. Already the moment was passing. Of course he
could trust his wife! Besides, in his letter was the death warrant of
the man who stood between him and his ambitions. Mrs. Carraby listened
to his footsteps in the hall, heard his suave reply to his secretary,
heard his orders to the footman who let him out. From where she stood
she watched him cross the square. Already he had recovered his alert
bearing. His shoes and his hat were glossy, his coat was of an
excellent fit. The woman watched him without movement or any change of
A RUINED CAREER
Sir Julien Portel stood in the middle of his bedroom, dressed in shirt
and trousers only. The sofa and chairs around him were littered with
portions of the brilliant uniform which he had torn from his person a
few minutes before with almost feverish haste. His perplexed servant,
who had only just arrived, was doing his best to restore the room to
some appearance of order.
"You needn't mind those wretched things for the present, Richards," his
master ordered sharply. "Bring the rest of the tweed traveling suit
like the trousers I have on, and then see about packing some clothes."
The man ceased his task. He looked around, a little bewildered.
"Do I understand that you are going out of town tonight, Sir Julien?"
"I am going on to the continent by the nine o'clock train," was the
Richards was a perfectly trained servant, but the situation was too
much for him.
"You will excuse me, Sir Julien," he said, "but there is Lord
Cardington's dinner tonight, and the reception afterwards at the
Foreign Office. I have your court clothes ready."
His master laughed shortly.
"I am not attending the dinner or the reception, Richards. You can put
those things back again and get me the traveling clothes."
The man seemed a little dazed, but turned automatically towards the
"Shall you require me to accompany you, sir?" he inquired.
"Not at present," Sir Julien replied. "You will have to come on with
the rest of my luggage when I have decided what to do."
Richards was not more than ordinarily inquisitive, but the
circumstances were certainly unusual.
"Do you mean, sir, that you will not be returning to London at
present?" he ventured to ask.
"I shall not be returning to London for some time," Sir Julien answered
sharply. "Get on with the packing as quickly as you can. Put the
whiskey and soda on the table in the sitting-room, and the cigarettes.
Remember, if any one comes I am not at home."
"Too late, my dear fellow," a voice called out from the adjoining room.
"You see, I have found my way up unannounced--a bad habit, but my
profession excuses everything."
The man stood on the threshold of the room opening out from the
bedroom--tall, florid, untidily dressed, with clean-shaven, humorous
face, ungloved hands, and a terribly shabby hat. He looked around the
room and shrugged his shoulders.
"What an infernal mess!" he exclaimed. "Come along out into the
sitting-room, Julien. I want to talk to you."
"I should like to know how the devil you got in here!" Sir Julien
muttered. "I told the fellow downstairs that no one was to be allowed
"He did try to make himself disagreeable," the newcomer replied.
"However, here I am--that's enough."
Sir Julien turned to his servant.
"Get on with your packing, Richards," he directed, "and let me know
when you have finished."
Sir Julien followed his visitor into the sitting-room, closing the door
behind him. His manner was not in the least cordial.
"Look here, Kendricks, old fellow," he said, "I don't want to be rude,
but I am not in the humor to talk to any one. I have had a rotten week
of it and just about as much as I can stand. Help yourself to a whiskey
and soda, say what you have to say and then go."
The newcomer nodded. He helped himself to the whiskey and soda, but he
seemed in no hurry to speak. On the contrary, he settled himself down
in an easy-chair with the appearance of a man who had come to stay.
"Julien," he remarked presently, "you are up against it--up against it
rather hard. Don't trouble to interrupt me. I know pretty well all
about it. I said from the first you'd have to resign. There wasn't any
other way out of it."
"Quite right," Julien agreed. "There wasn't. I've finished up
everything to-day--resigned my office, applied for the Chiltern
Hundreds, and I am going to clear out of the country to-night."
"And all because you wrote a foolish letter to a woman!" Kendricks
murmured, half to himself. "By the bye, there's no doubt about the
letter, I suppose?"
"None in the world," Julien replied.
"There's nothing that the Press can do to set you right?"
"Great heavens, no!" Julien declared. "No one can help me. I've no one
to blame but myself. I wrote the letter--there the matter ends."
"And she passed it on to that shocking little bounder of a husband of
hers! What a creature! Did it ever occur to you that it was a plot?"
Julien shrugged his shoulders.
"It makes so little difference."
"You were in Carraby's way," Kendricks continued, producing a pipe from
his pocket and leisurely filling it. "There was no getting past you and
you were a young man. It's a dirty business."
"If you don't mind," Julien said coldly, "we won't discuss it any
further. So far as I am concerned, the whole matter is at an end. I was
compelled to take part in to-day's mummery. I hated it--that they all
knew. I suppose it's foolish to mind such things, David," he went on
bitterly, taking up a cigarette and throwing himself into a chair, "but
a year ago--it was just after I came back from Berlin and you may
remember it was the fancy of the people to believe that I had saved the
country from war--they cheered me all the way from Whitehall to the
Mansion House. To-day there was only a dull murmur of voices--a sort of
doubting groan. I felt it, Kendricks. It was like Hell, that ride!"
Kendricks nodded sympathetically.
"I suppose you know that a version of the letter is in the evening
papers?" he asked.
"My resignation will be in the later issues," Julien told him. "It was
pretty well known yesterday afternoon. I leave for the continent
There was a short silence between the two men. In a sense they had been
friends all their lives. Sir Julien Portel had been a successful
politician, the youngest Cabinet Minister for some years. Kendricks had
never aspired to be more than a clever journalist of the vigorous type.
Nevertheless, they had been more than ordinarily intimate.
"Have you made any plans?" Kendricks inquired presently. "Of course,
you would have to resign office, but don't you think there might be a
chance of living it down?"
"Not a chance on earth," Julien replied. "As to what I am going to do,
don't ask me. For the immediate present I am going to lose myself in
Normandy or somewhere. Afterwards I think I shall move on to my old
quarters in Paris. There's always a little excitement to be got out of
Kendricks looked at his friend through the cloud of tobacco smoke.
"It's excitement of rather a dangerous order," he remarked slowly.
"I shall never be likely to forget that I am an Englishman," Julien
said. "Perhaps I may be able to do something to set matters right
again. One can't tell. By the bye, Kendricks," he went on, "do you
remember when we were at college how you hated women? How you used to
try and trace half the things that went wrong in life to their
The journalist nodded. He knocked the ashes from his pipe deliberately.
"I was a boy in those days," he declared. "I am a man now, getting on
toward middle age, and on that one subject I am as rabid as ever. I
hate their meddling in men's affairs, shoving themselves into politics,
always whispering in a man's ear under pretence of helping him with
their sympathy. They're in evidence wherever you go--women, women,
women! The place reeks with them. You can't go about your work, hour by
hour or day by day, without having them on every side of you. It's like
a poison, this trail of them over every piece of serious work we
attempt, over every place we find our way into. They bang the
typewriters in our offices, they elbow us in the streets, they smile at
us from the next table at our workaday luncheon, they crowd the tubes
and the cars and the cabs in the streets. Why the deuce, Julien, can't
we treat them like those sage Orientals, and dump them all in one place
where they belong till we've finished our work?"
Julien lifted his tumbler of whiskey and soda to his lips and set it
"In a way, you're right, Kendricks," he agreed. "You go too far, of
course, but I do believe that women hold too big a place in our lives.
I am one of the poor fools who goes to the wall to gratify the vanity
of one of them."
The journalist muttered a word under his breath which he would have
been very sorry to have seen in the pages of his paper. Julien had
moved to the open window. There had been a little break in his voice.
No one knew better than Kendricks that a very brilliant career was
"I think you're wise to go away for a time, Julien," he decided. "Look
here, it's six o'clock now. I have a taxicab waiting downstairs. Come
round to my rotten little restaurant in Soho and dine with me. Your
fellow can meet us at Charing-Cross with your things. You won't see a
soul you know where I'm going to take you."
Julien turned slowly away from the window. He was looking for the last
time from those rooms at the London which he had loved. The setting sun
had caught the dome of St. Paul's, was flashing from the dark, placid
water of the Thames. The roar of the great city was passing from
eastwards to westwards.
"You're a good chap, Kendricks," he declared. "I'll come along, with
pleasure. I shall have enough solitude later on. But listen, before we
go--listen, David, to a speech after your own heart."
Julien stood quite still for a moment. His pale face seemed suddenly
whiter, his eyes were full of fire.
"David," he said, "if ever the time comes in the future when I find
that a woman is beginning to claim a minute of my thoughts, a single
one of my emotions, to govern the slightest throb of my pulses, I'll
take her by the throat and I'll throw her out of what's left of my life
as I would a rat that had crept into my room. I've done with them.
Curse all women!"
There was a silence. Kendricks leaned over to the fireplace and knocked
his pipe against the hearth. Then he suddenly paused.
"What's that?" he asked abruptly.
There was a soft knocking at the outside door.
A BUNCH OF VIOLETS
Kendricks rose slowly to his feet. Julien was looking toward the door
with a frown upon his face. While they stood there the knocking was
repeated, still soft but a little more insistent. Julien hesitated no
"I think," Kendricks said dryly, "that you had better see who is
The door was already opened. Julien seemed suddenly transformed into a
graven image. He said nothing, merely gazing at the woman who walked
calmly past him into the room. Kendricks, who also recognized her,
withdrew his pipe from his mouth. This was a situation indeed! The
woman, with her hands inside her muff, looked from one to the other of
the two men.
"Am I interrupting a very important interview?" she asked calmly. "If
not, perhaps you could spare me five minutes of your time, Sir Julien?"
Kendricks recovered himself at once.
"I'll wait for you downstairs, Julien," he declared.
He caught up his hat and departed, closing the door after him. Julien
was still motionless.
"Well?" she began.
He drew a little breath. He was beginning to regain his
"My dear Mrs. Carraby," he said, "with your wonderful knowledge of the
world and its ways, will you permit me to point out that your presence
here is a little embarrassing to me and might, under certain
circumstances, be a good deal more embarrassing to you?"
Mrs. Carraby smiled. She stood where the sunlight touched her brown
hair and her quiet, pale face. She was one of those women who are never
afraid of the light. Her face was of that strange, self-contained
nature, colorless, apparently, yet capable of strange and rapid
changes. Just now the last glow of sunlight seemed to have found a
skein of gold in her hair, a queer gleam of light in her eyes. She
stood there looking at the man whom she had come to visit.
"Julien," she said, "I wanted a few words with you."
It was impossible for him to remain altogether unmoved. Whatever else
might be the truth, she had risked most of the things that were dear to
her in life by this visit.
"Mrs. Carraby," he declared, "I am entirely at your service. If you
think that any useful purpose can be served by words between you and
me, I would only point out, for your own sake, that your visit is, to
say the least of it, unwise. These are bachelor chambers."
"You know very well," she replied calmly, "that it was my only chance
of speaking with you. If I had sent for you, you would not have come.
If I had spoken to you in the street, you would have passed me
by--quite rightly. This was my only chance. That is why I have come to
"If you think it worth the risk," he remarked gravely, "pray continue."
She shrugged her shoulders very slightly.
"Who can tell what is worth the risk?"
"You have at least excited my curiosity," he admitted, leaning a little
towards her. "I cannot conceive what it is that you want to say to me."
She lifted her eyes to his, and though there was nothing unusual about
them--there were few people, indeed, who could tell you what color they
were--men seldom forgot it when Mrs. Carraby looked at them steadily.
"I do not know, myself," she said. "I do not know why I have come."
Julien laughed unnaturally.
"Pray be seated," he begged. "Would you like to examine my curios or my
photographs? I must apologize for the condition of my room. You see,
you happen to be the first woman who has ever crossed its threshold."
"That," she remarked, "rather interests me. Still, it is only what I
should have expected. No, I do not think that I will sit down. I am
trying to ask myself exactly why I have come."
"If you can answer that question," Julien said grimly, "you will
appease a very natural curiosity on my part. It is not like you."
"Quite true," she assented. "It is not like me. I have run a great risk
in coming here and it is not my metier to run risks. And now that I am
here I do not know why I have come. This has been an impulse and this
is an hour outside my life. I am trying to understand it. Come here,
Julien." He came unwillingly to her side. She held out her hand, but
he shook his head.
"Mabel," he said, "you and I do not need to mince words. To-night I am
celebrating the ruin of my career. I am leaving England within a few
hours. I have you to thank for what has happened. Yet you come to me,
you hold out your hand. You must forgive me--I am afraid I am dull."
"No," she replied, "you are not dull. Your feelings towards me are
obvious and very natural. Mine towards you I am not so sure of. It is
not because I did not understand you that I came here to-night. It is
because I did not understand myself. May I go on?"
"Why not?" he answered. "I am at your service."
"From the days of my boarding-school," she continued, "I have known
only one Mabel. In her girlhood she had all that she could get out of
life and turned everything she could to her own ends. A marriage was
arranged for her--you see, I was half a Jewess and my husband was half
a Jew, and things are done like that with us. The marriage opened the
door to a fresh set of ambitions. For the last few years I have trodden
a well-worn path. It was I who advised my husband to refuse a
baronetcy. It was I who won his first election. I see that my
photographs are in all the illustrated papers, that his speeches are
properly recorded, that my visiting list moves within the correct
limits. These things have spelt life. To the fulfillment of my
husband's ambitions there was one obstacle. That obstacle was you. In
life one schemes. It was my husband's wish that I should make myself
agreeable to you, even to the extent of a flirtation."
She raised her eyes.
"Your obedience to your husband is most touching," he said.
"It is true, I suppose," she went on, "that we have flirted. I looked
upon it as the means to an end. The end came. I played my cards quite
ruthlessly, I gathered in the reward. I got your letter, I handed it to
my husband. Your career was finished, my husband's begun."
"This is most interesting," Julien muttered.
"Is it?" she answered. "I suppose it should have been an hour of
triumph with me. It simply isn't. I have come to a place in my life
which I don't understand. When I told myself that it was over, that I
had flirted with you, that I had won your friendship and your
confidence, betrayed you, ruined you for a peerage and that my husband
should take office, I should surely have been satisfied! It was for
that I had worked. I gave my husband the letter and I watched him walk
off in triumph. Since then I have not been myself. I have come to you,
Julien, to ask if there is no other end possible to this?"
Once more she raised her eyes. Julien came a step nearer to her. They
were standing now face to face.
"All of a sudden," she murmured, "I looked back and I saw the way I
have lived and the way I am living and the life that spreads itself out
before me. I saw myself a peeress, I saw myself receiving my husband's
guests, I saw the gratification of all those ambitions which have
seemed to me so wonderful. And I locked the door and I shrieked and it
seemed to me that there was a new thing and a new thought in my life. I
have done you a hideous wrong, Julien. There is only one way I can set
it right. There is only one moment in which it can be done, and that
moment is now. Tomorrow I shall be back again. For this one hour I see
the truth. I am a very rich woman, Julien. My husband's future, indeed,
is largely bound up with my wealth. Remember that in all I have done I
have been his agent. He hates you, has hated you from the first because
you were a gentleman and he never was. This is my one moment of madness
in a perfectly well-ordered life."
One of her hands stole from her muff, stole out half-hesitatingly
towards him. Julien took it in his and raised it to his lips. Then he
looked her in the eyes.
"Dear Mabel," he said, "you are forgiven. I understand perfectly the
reasons for your coming. Go back to your husband, wear your coronet and
receive his guests with a free conscience. I forgive you."
Her hand slipped back into her muff. She began to tremble a little.
"As for me," he went on, "I played the fool and I pay willingly. I was
engaged to marry a very charming girl who believed in me and whom I
cared for as much as it was possible for me to care for anything
outside my career. I flirted with you because it was a piquant thing to
do. You were a woman whom other men found difficult, you were the wife
of a man whom I despised and who was trying all the time to undermine
my position. I sacrificed my self-respect every time I crossed your
threshold. To-day I pay. I am willing. As for you, Mabel, your visit
here shall square things between us. I wish you the best of luck. You
must let me ring for my servant. He will find you a taxicab."
He moved toward the bell. Mrs. Carraby, with her hands inside her muff,
stood exactly as though she were part of the furniture of the room.
With his finger upon the ivory disc, he hesitated. She was not looking
towards him and her eyes were half closed.
"Perhaps," he suggested, "you would rather find your way out alone? I
will not offer my escort, for obvious reasons."
She turned slowly round.
"Do not ring," she ordered sharply. "Come here."
He came at once towards her. She took both his hands in hers, she
leaned towards him. She was a tall woman and they were very nearly the
"Julien," she whispered, "is this all that you have to say to me?"
"It is more," Julien replied frankly, "than I expected ever to have to
say to you again in this world. What do you expect? You don't think
that I am the kind of man to--but that is absurd! Come. We'll part
friends, if you like. Here's my hand."
"We must part, then?" she said.
He shrugged his shoulders.
"Unless a walking tour in Normandy for a month appeals to you. You see,
I am going to take a holiday, and I have a fancy that our ideas on the
subject of holidays might not exactly agree."
"A holiday," she repeated. "I am not sure--do you know, Julien, I
sometimes believe that I have never had a holiday in my life?"
He looked at her doubtingly.
"After all," she continued, "can't you see that I have come here to ask
you one question? You are different from the people I have known
intimately and the people with whom I have been brought up, different
from my husband. You know what my life has been. I have told you just
now that the great doubt has come to me within the last few days. Won't
you tell me what I want to know? Is there anything better, anything
greater, anything more wonderful in life than these things which I have
known, these ambitions, this social struggle? Tell me, Julien, is there
anything else? Can you tell me how and where to find it?"
Once more her fingers had crept out of her muff.
Her hands were upon his shoulders, she seemed to be drawing him to
her. Julien kissed her lightly on the forehead.
"For you, my dear Mabel," he decided, "I should say that there was
nothing better. A leopard cannot change its spots. The life into which
you have been brought and for which you have qualified so admirably, is
the only life which would suit you. If you fancy sometimes in your
dreams, or in your waking hours, that you hear cries and calls from
another country, don't listen to them. You would never be happy outside
the world you know of. You see, one who has made such a failure of life
himself is yet well able to advise. Forgive me."
The telephone on his writing table was ringing. He turned aside to
answer it. It was a question regarding the whereabouts of some papers
at the office and it took him a few minutes to explain. When he set the
receiver back and turned around, he was alone. There was nothing to
remind him of her visit but a bunch of violets which seemed to have
fallen from her muff, and the faint perfume from them. He took them up,
smelt them for a moment, and flung them lightly into the hearth. Then
he touched his bell.
"My hat, stick and gloves, Richards," he ordered. "Bring my things to
Charing-Cross at half-past eight. Have them registered only to
Boulogne. You understand?"
"Perfectly, sir," the man replied.
Julien glanced once more around his sitting-room. The little bunch of
violets was smouldering upon the hearth. In a sense they seemed to him
"Kendricks is right," he muttered. "It is the women who play the devil
with our lives!"
A SENTIMENTAL EPISODE
Kendricks was waiting below in the taxicab, leaning back in the corner
with his feet upon the opposite seat, and smoking his very disreputable
pipe with an air of serene content.
"Sorry to have turned you out into the street like this," Julien
"Thank you," Kendricks replied, "under the circumstances I preferred
Julien hesitated for a moment and glanced at his watch.
"There is one more call that I must pay, David," he said. "You won't
mind, will you? We've plenty of time."
"Mind? Of course not," Kendricks answered, stretching himself out in
the cab. "Do what you please with me, only leave an hour or an hour and
a half for dinner. I am the best-tempered person in the world so long
as no one interferes with my regular meal hours."
"It's just a little farewell call," Julien explained, "that I want to
pay. I've told the man where to go."
Kendricks nodded silently. He knew all about that little call, but if
he felt any sympathy he was careful not to show it. They drew up in a
few minutes before a large and solemn-looking house at the corner of
"Don't hurry," Kendricks advised, stretching himself out once more in
the cab. "I'll smoke another pipe and thank heaven we are not in New
York! You wait an hour there and take your choice of paying the fare or
buying the taxicab!"
Julien ascended the steps and rang the bell at the door of the house.
It was immediately opened by a manservant, who recognized him with a
bow and a smile, for which, somehow or other, he felt thankful.
"Is Lady Anne in, Robert?" he inquired.
The man stood on one side.
"Please to walk in, Sir Julien," he invited. "Lady Anne is with some
young people in the drawing-room. Will you go in there to them, or
would you prefer that I announce you?"
"Is there any one in the waiting-room?" Julien asked.
"No one at present, sir."
"Let me go in there, then. I want to speak to Lady Anne alone for a
moment. You might let her know that I am here."
Julien walked restlessly up and down the small, uncomfortable
apartment, the room which he had always hated. There were illustrated
papers arranged in a row upon a leather-topped table, two stiff
horsehair easychairs, and various views of Clonarty, the country seat
of the Duke of Clonarty, around the walls. Presently he heard the
laughter in the drawing-room cease. There was a short silence, then the
sound of footsteps across the hall and the abrupt opening of the door
of the room in which he was waiting. Julien looked up quickly. It was,
after all, what he had expected! A somewhat vivacious-looking little
lady in a muslin gown and elaborate hat held out both her hands to him.
In the darkened light of the room she might very well have passed for a
younger and less serious edition of her own daughter.
"My dear Julien!" she exclaimed, in a tone which was manifestly
sympathetic. "This is terrible news we are hearing about you. But what
an odd time you have chosen to come and tell us all about it!"
"I have not come to tell you all about it, Duchess," Julien assured
her. "The newspapers will tell you everything that is worth knowing.
They are so much better informed."
"The newspapers sometimes exaggerate," she objected.
"In my case," he replied, "I do not think that exaggeration is
possible. Everything has happened to me that could possibly happen to
any one in my unfortunate position."
"You mean that these stories are all true, then?"
"Every one of them. I really don't suppose that I ought to show my face
here at all. I have simply come to say good-bye. There is just a single
word that I want to say to Anne."
"Tell me, Julien," she demanded, "you really did write that letter to
"And she gave it to her husband?"
For once the Duchess was perfectly and delightfully natural.
"That woman," she declared, "is a detestable cat! Mind, Julien," she
added, "I don't mean by that that you were not hideously and entirely
to blame. I can't feel that you deserve a single grain of sympathy. All
the same, a woman who can do a thing like that should not be
Julien smiled grimly. He was perfectly well aware that at that moment
Mrs. Carraby was passing from the list of the Duchess's acquaintances.
It was all so inconsequent.
"Can I have that one word with Anne?" he begged.
The Duchess looked doubtful.
"I am going abroad to-night. I should like to say good-bye to her."
"Isn't it a little foolish?" she asked. "I don't mean your going
abroad--that, I suppose, is almost necessary--but why do you want to
see Anne? I can give her all the proper messages."
Julien laughed bitterly.
"There are some things," he said, "which can scarcely be altogether
ignored. It may have escaped your memory that Anne was to have been my
"Not at all," the Duchess replied. "The only thing I do not understand
is why, as any such arrangement is of course now ridiculous, you should
want to see her again. What can you possibly have to say to her?" "An
affair of sentiment," he explained. "I have a fancy to say good-bye."
The Duchess shook her head.
"Those sort of things don't belong to us," she declared. "You ought to
know better, my dear Julien. I can see no possible object in it. I will
give her any message you like, and so far as she is concerned I can
assure you that she has not the slightest ill-feeling. She is really
quite angelic about it."
"Duchess," Julien said steadily, "I came here expecting that these
would be your views. You are Anne's mother and of course you are in
authority, but when two people of our age are engaged to marry one
another, they pass just a little beyond the sphere of their parents'
influence. Anne and I have been in that position. Don't think for a
moment that I wish to dispute your authority when I say that I intend
to see her before I leave."
She shrugged her shoulders.
"Ah! my dear Julien," she murmured, "if you had only been as firm with
that foolish woman. Still, if you have really made up your mind, I am
sure I don't want to be disagreeable. Perhaps it would be just as well
to get the thing over."
She touched the bell.
"Ask Lady Anne to step this way," she told the servant.
The man withdrew and the door was closed again. The Duchess showed no
signs of being about to take her leave.
"This matter has already, I presume, been fully discussed between you
and Anne?" Julien remarked. "It will not be necessary for you even to
give her a parting word of advice?"
"You amusing person!" she laughed. "There are no words of advice of
mine needed in a case like this. To tell you the truth, Julien,
although I always liked you, as you know, I hated your engagement to
Anne. You were a very charming young man to have about the house and I
was always pleased to see my girls flirt with you, but as a son-in-law
I ranked you from the first amongst the undesirables. Your income, so
far as I know, is a little less than nothing at all, and politics, as
you are discovering to-day, are a precarious form of livelihood. Anne
hasn't a copper and never will have. She ought to marry a rich man, and
I intend now that she shall. Here she is. Now do get this stupid affair
The door was opened and Lady Anne came in. She was taller than her
mother, of more serious aspect, and her hair was a shade darker. There
was something of the same expression about the eyes. She came straight
over to Julien and gave him both her hands.
"My dear Julien," she exclaimed, "this is shocking! Run away, if you
please, mother. I must see Julien for a moment alone."
The Duchess left the room. They both waited until the door was closed.
Then she turned and faced him.
"I suppose it's all true?" she asked.
"Every word of it, Anne," he answered. "Please don't misunderstand the
reason of my coming. I am absolutely a ruined man and I absolutely
deserve everything that has come to me. But there was one thing I
wanted to say to you before I went."
"There was also one thing," she remarked, looking at him intently,
"which I intended to ask you, provided you gave me the opportunity."
"It is about Mrs. Carraby," he said firmly.
"So was my question," she murmured.
"The friendship between Mrs. Carraby and myself," Julien continued,
"has been patent to every one for a great many years. I knew her long
before I did you. It began, in fact, when we were little more than
children. It finished--to-day. There is only one thing I want to say to
you about it, and that is this. Our friendship was of that sort which
is fairly well recognized and even approved of by the world in which we
live. It contained, of course, certain elements of flirtation--I am not
denying that. There was never at any time, however, anything in that
friendship which made it an error even of taste on my part to ask you
to become my wife."
She took his face between her hands and deliberately kissed him.
"That's just what I wanted to know, Julien," she declared. "Now shake
hands, be off, and do the best you can for yourself. I wish you the
best of luck, the very best. That's all we can say to one another,
"Quite all," he admitted.
"You are a dear, good fellow," she went on, "and I have been quite fond
of you, although I think that I bored you now and then. I should have
made you an excellent wife, perhaps a better one than I shall the next
man who comes along. Don't stay any longer, there's a dear, because
although I never pretended to have much heart, this sort of thing does
upset one, you know, and I want to look my best to-night. Write me
sometimes, if you will. I'd love to hear that you'd found some interest
in life to help you gather up the threads. And here--this is for luck."
She took a little turquoise pin from her waistband and stuck it in his
black tie. Then, before he could stop her, she touched the bell with
one hand and gave him the other.
"Please kiss my fingers, Julien, and tell me I've behaved nicely."
He looked steadily into her eyes and then away out of the window,
across the square. It was such a natural ending, this. It was foolish
that his heart should shake, even for a second. And yet there had been
one occasion--at Clonarty--when she had lain very close to him in his
arms, and the moonlight had been falling through the pine trees in
little dappled places around them, and the wind had been making faint
music among the swinging boughs--for these few moments, at any rate,
the other things had shone in her face. Were they illusions really,
those moments of agitation, he wondered--simply one long, sensuous
period passing like breath from a looking-glass and leaving nothing
behind? He looked into her face. There was no sign there. Then he
dropped the fingers which he had been holding. Women were wonderful!
"Do write," she begged, as she walked into the hall with him. "Dear me,
what a strange-looking person you have with you in the taxicab!"
"He is a friend," Julien said quietly, "a journalist. I might say the
same of the young man who is watching us from the drawing-room, Anne!
Who is he?"
She made a little face at him and whispered in his ear.
"Semitic, as you see, and positively appalling. He is entirely mother's
choice. He arrived ten minutes after the evening papers were out, but
somehow or other I don't fancy that we shall make anything of him. It's
young Harbord, you know."
Julien made his effort. He touched her fingers once more in
conventional fashion. He leaned towards her earnestly.
"My dear Anne," he said, "that young man has an income of at least a
hundred thousand a year. Have you ever considered what a wonderful
thing it is to possess an income like that? You could surround yourself
with it like a halo. You could eat it, wear it, and breathe it every
second of your life. You could even use it as a means of escaping as
often as possible from the somewhat inevitable but highly objectionable
adjunct who seems now to be peering at us through the door. Be a wise
girl, Anne. An income like that doesn't depend upon discretions or
indiscretions. Besides, as a matter of fact, I really do not think that
that young man knows what it is to be indiscreet. Remember, I am quite
serious. A hundred thousand a year should lift any man beyond the pale
"Yes!" the girl replied, looking at him as he walked down the steps. "I
shall remember. Good-bye!"
"We are getting on," Julien declared lightly, as he took his place in
the taxicab. "Really, it is astonishing how much a man can get through
in a day if he sets his mind to it. Is there any place where we could
get a drink, do you think, Kendricks? I have just passed through a
trying and affecting interview. I have said farewell to the lady who
was to have been my wife. That sort of thing upsets one."
"You are behaving, my dear Julien," Kendricks admitted, "like a man of
sense. In a moment or two we shall pass Very's, on our way to the
restaurant where I am going to entertain you at dinner. It will
probably be such a dinner as you have never eaten before in your life!
You will not need an _aperitif_. I am not sure, indeed, that it is not
tempting providence and inviting indigestion to offer you a mixed
vermouth here. However, come along. One experience more or less in such
a day will not disturb you."
They entered the cafe and sat down at a small, marble-topped table.
Julien lit a cigarette and Kendricks affected not to notice that the
hand which held the match was shaking. A crowd of people, mostly
foreigners, were sitting about the place. Julien, as he sipped his
vermouth, noticed a familiar face nearly opposite him--a young,
somewhat sandy-complexioned man, quietly dressed, insignificant, and
yet with some sort of personality.
"I wonder who that fellow is?" he remarked. "I seem to know his face."
Kendricks looked incuriously across the room.
"One knows every one by sight in London," he said. "The fellow is
probably a clerk in some office where you have been, or a salesman
behind the counter at one of the shops you patronize. It's odd
sometimes how a face will pursue you like that. That's a pretty little
girl with whom he's shaking hands."
Julien watched the two idly for a moment. The man had risen to greet
his newly-arrived companion, who was chattering to him in fluent
French. All the time Julien was aware that now and then the former's
eyes strayed over towards him. It was odd that, notwithstanding his
somewhat disturbed state of mind, he was conscious of a distinct
curiosity as to this young man's identity.
"Come along," Kendricks suggested. "We shan't get a table at all at the
place where I am going to take you to dine, unless we are punctual."
They finished their vermouth and left the cafe. Kendricks knocked out
the ashes from his pipe and leaned a little forward in the taxicab.
"We go now," he continued, "into a foreign land--foreign, at least, to
you, my young Exquisite--the land of journalists, of foreigners, of
hairdressers and anarchists, and cutthroats of every description.
Nevertheless, we shall dine well, and if you will only drink enough of
the chianti which I shall order, I can promise you a nap on your way to
Dover. You look as though you could do with it."
Julien suddenly remembered that his eyes were hot, and almost
simultaneously he felt the weight that was dragging down his heart. He
"I'll eat your dinner, David," he promised, "and I'll do justice to
your chianti. From what you tell me about our expedition, I should
imagine that we are going into the land to which I shall soon belong."
"It's a wonderful country," Kendricks muttered, looking out of the
window. "It may not be flowing exactly with milk and honey, but its
sinews are supple and its blood is red. For absolute vitality, I'd back
the Cafe l'Athenee against the Carlton any day. Here we are."
AT THE CAFE L'ATHENEE
The Cafe L'Athenee was in a narrow back street and consisted of a
ground floor apartment of moderate size, and a number of small rooms,
most of which were already crowded with diners. There were no
smooth-faced _maitres d'hotel_ to conduct new arrivals to a table, no
lift to the upper rooms, no palm-lined stairways, or any of the modern
appurtenances of restaurant life. Kendricks, taking the lead as an
habitue, pushed his way up to the first floor, pushed his way past the
hurrying and perspiring waiters, who did not even stop to answer
questions, and finally pounced upon a table which was just being
vacated by three other people. The two men sat down before the debris
and waited patiently for its removal.
"Don't turn your nose up yet," Kendricks begged. "Wait till you've
tasted the spaghetti. And don't look at the tablecloth as though it
would bite you. They'll put a clean napkin over it directly and you'll
forget all about those stains. This is where one takes off the kid
gloves and deals with the realities of eating and drinking. I am
inclined to think sometimes, Julien, as a humble admirer from a long
way off, that you've worn those kid gloves a little too long."
Julien looked across at his friend. Kendricks was still smoking his
pipe and he was evidently in earnest. It was obvious, too, that he had
more to say.
"You know," he continued, loudly summoning a waiter and pointing to the
table before them, "you know, Julien, I have always had this feeling
about you. I think that life has been made a trifle too easy for you.
You have slipped with so little effort into the polished places. You
never had to take your coat and waistcoat off and try a
rough-and-tumble struggle with life. No man is the worse for it.
Prosperity and smooth-traveling along the easy ways, even though they
come to one as the reward of brainwork, lead to a certain flabbiness in
life, lead to many moments when you have to stop and ask whether things
are worth while, lead sometimes, I think, to that curious neuroticism
from which clever, successful people suffer as well as the butterflies
of fashion. You are up against it now, Julien, real and hard. You don't
feel that you've got a day to live that you care a snap of the fingers
about. You look at what you think are the pieces of your life and you
imagine yourself a gaunt spectator of what has been, gazing down at
them, and you've quite made up your mind that it isn't a bit of good
trying to collect the fragments. Such d----d nonsense, Julien! You may
have made a jolly hash of things as a Cabinet Minister, but that isn't
any reason why you shouldn't make a success of life as a man. Look
here, Carlo," he added, addressing the waiter, "the table d'hote
dinner--everything, and serve it hot. Bring us fresh butter with our
spaghetti, and a flask of chianti."
"Si, signor!" the man replied, gazing for a moment in wonder at this
shock-headed individual who spoke his own language so perfectly.
Kendricks laid down the menu and glanced across the table at Julien's
face with its slightly weary smile.
"Of course, I know how you're feeling now," he went on,--"rotten!--so
would any one. Try and forget it, try and forget yourself. Look about
you. What do these people do for a living, do you think? They weren't
born with a title. There's no one in this room who went to Eton and
Oxford, played cricket for their university, and lolled their way into
life as you did. Look at them all. The thin chap in the corner is a
barber, got a small shop of his own now. I go there sometimes for a
shave. He lived on thirteen shillings a week for six years, while he
saved the money to start for himself. It was touch and go with him
afterwards. In three months he'd nearly lost the lot. He'd married a
little wife who stood behind the counter and had worked almost as hard
as he, but somehow or other the customers wouldn't come. Then she had a
baby, was laid up for a time, he had to engage some one to take her
place, and at that time he had about fifteen shillings left in the
world. I used to be shaved there every day then. I knew all about it. I
used to hear him, when he thought no one was listening, go and call a
cheerful word up the stairs--'Shop full of customers!' 'Sold another
bottle of hair restorer!' or something of that sort. Then some one lent
him a fiver, and, by Jove, he turned the corner! He's doing well now.
That's his wife--the plump little woman who's straightening his tie.
They come here every Wednesday night and they can afford it. Yet he was
up against it badly once, Julien. That's right, look at him, be
interested. He's a common-looking little beast, isn't he?--but he's got
a stout heart."
"I think," Julien said, "that I could guess the name of the man who
lent him the fiver."
"You'd be a mug if you couldn't," Kendricks retorted. "It's doing that
sort of thing that helps you to smile sometimes when the knocks come. I
tell you, Julien, some of the people--these small shopkeepers,
especially--do have the devil of a fight to get their ounce of pleasure
out of life. Nothing's made easy for them. They don't know anything
about that big west-end world, with pleasures tuned up to the latest
pitch, where you do even your work with every luxury at hand to make it
easy. There's a little chap there--an Italian. See him? He's sitting by
the side of the old man with the gray beard. That man's his father.
They both landed over here with scarcely a copper. The young fellow
worked like a slave--sixteen shillings a week I think he was getting,
and he kept the old man on it. Then he lost his job, couldn't get
another. The old man had to go to the workhouse, the young man slept on
the Embankment, ate free soup, picked up scraps, lived on the garbage
heap of life. He pulled himself together, though, got another job,
improved it, saved a few shillings, drove up in a cab and took the old
man out. Look at them now. He's got a little tailor's shop not a
hundred yards from here, and somehow or other one or two people on the
stage--they're a good-hearted lot--have taken him up He gets lots of
work and brings the old man here now and then for a treat. How are you,
Pietro?" he called across the room. "When are you going to send me that
The young man grinned.
"Too many orders to make you that coat, sir," he declared.
"No one can deny that I need a new coat," he said. "I told Pietro when
things were slack that he could make me one, but he gets lots of orders
now. See the little girl in the corner? She's going out--no, she's
going to stay here; they've found her room at that table. I suppose
you'd turn your nose up at her because she has a lot too much powder on
her cheeks, and you don't like that lace collar around her neck. It
isn't clean, I know, and the make-up on her face is clumsy. Must be
uncomfortable, too, but she's done her best. She's been dancing at the
_Hippodrome_ this afternoon, probably rehearsing afterwards. She's got
an hour now before she goes back to the evening performance. She's
taking the eighteenpenny dinner, you see. She'll get a glass of chianti
free with it. I am in luck to-night. I can tell you about nearly all
these people. Her name is Bessie Hazell--Sarah Ann Jinks, very likely,
but that's what she calls herself, anyway. She married an acrobat two
years ago and they started doing quite well. Then he got a cough, had
to give up work, the doctors all shook their heads at him, wanted to
tell him it was consumption. Bless you, she wouldn't listen to it! She
got him down to Bournemouth somehow and they patched him up. He came
back and started again, caught cold, and had another bad spell. Still,
she wouldn't have it that there was anything serious the matter with
him! He'd be all right, she said, if it weren't for the climate, and
every night she danced, mind--danced twice a day. She's quite clever,
they say--might have done well if she'd only herself to think of and
could spare a little of her money for lessons. Not she! She sent him to
Davos, paid for it somehow. He's back again now. He can't go on the
stage, but he's got a light job somewhere. I don't know that he's
earning anything particular. They've got a baby to keep, but they do it
all right between them. She isn't pleasant to look at, is she? What's
that matter? She's a bit of real life, anyhow."
"Why didn't you bring me here before, Kendricks?" Julien asked.
The man leaned back and laughed.
"Ask yourself that question, not me," he replied. "You--Sir Julien
Portel, caricatured as the best-dressed man in the House of Commons,
member of the most fashionable clubs, brilliant debater, successful
politician, future Prime Minister, and all that sort of twaddle. You
were living too far up in the clouds, my friend, to come down here. You
see, I am not offering you much sympathy, Julien. I don't think you
need it. You were soaring up to the skies just because of your gifts
and your position and your opportunities. You are down now. Well,
you're thundering sorry for yourself. I don't know that I'm sorry for
you. I'll tell you in ten years' time. By Jove, here's your
sandy-headed little friend!"
The man, with the girl upon his arm, had entered the room and had taken
seats at a table in the corner, for which, apparently, they had been
waiting. Julien looked at them curiously.
"Why," he exclaimed suddenly, leaning across the table, "I remember him
now! He's at the shop--I mean he's an Intelligence man."
"Just the sort of inconspicuous-looking person who could go anywhere
without being noticed."
"I recollect him quite well," Julien continued. "It's not in my
department, of course, but I remember being told he was a very useful
"I should say, without a doubt," Kendricks declared, "that he was at
present working hard for the safety and welfare of the British Empire.
If you've suddenly recognized the man, I'll tell you who the girl is.
She's a manicurist at the Milan."
Julien looked round and watched them for a moment curiously. Again he
noticed that his interest in the young man was at least reciprocated.
"The fellow has recognized me, of course," he said. "You know,
Kendricks, I remember two or three years ago a most amazing item of
news was brought to us--one that made a real difference, too--through a
"Shouldn't be a bit surprised," Kendricks replied.
"Things drop out in the most unexpected places, as you'd find out if
you'd been a journalist."
"She was sent for into the room of some princess--at Claridge's, I
think it was, or one of the west-end hotels--and while she was there a
man came from one of the inner rooms and said a few words in Russian.
The girl had been in St. Petersburg and understood. It made quite a
difference. I remember the story."
"Might have been the same man and the same manicurist," Kendricks
Julien shook his head.
"There was trouble about the manicurist," he said, "and she had to
leave the country. She's in South Africa now."
"I can't say that I like the appearance of the fellow," Kendricks
declared. "Don't funk the soup, Julien--it's better than it looks. He's
a slimy-looking sort of chap. I have a theory that the modern sort of
Secret Service agent ought to be a person like myself--breezy and
obvious. Julien, if that girl doesn't stop gazing at you sideways,
you'll be in trouble with your late employee."
Julien looked across at the opposite table. The girl, as he had noticed
before, was stealing frequent glances at him. For some reason or other,
she seemed anxious to attract his attention.
"Quite a conquest!" Kendricks murmured. "Drink some more of that
chianti, man, and bring some color to your cheeks. There's a charming
little manicurist wants to flirt with you. What teeth and what a
"Considering that she has been listening to my history for the last
quarter of an hour, I imagine that her interest is of a less
sentimental nature," Julien said. "I have probably been pointed out to
her as the biggest fool in Christendom."
"Not you," Kendricks declared. "I assure you that I am a critic in such
matters. She looks when the young man who is with her is engaged upon
his dinner, or speaking to the waiter. I am not positive, even, that
she wants to flirt, Julien. I think she wants to say something to you."
"What shall I do? Present myself? Bah!" he added, almost fiercely. "I
wish the girl would keep her black eyes to herself. I want to tell you
this, Kendricks. You've talked some splendid common sense to me without
going out of your way to do it. I am not going to whine, now or at any
other time, but as long as I live I never want anything more to do with
a woman. That sounds about the most futile and empty-headed thing a man
can say--I know that. But there it is. I tell you the very thought of
them makes me shudder. They're like pampered, highly-groomed animals,
with their mouths open for the tit-bits of life. They have to be fed
with whatever food it may be they crave for, and that's the end of it."
Kendricks motioned with his head across the room to where the little
woman with the blackened eyebrows was eating her dinner.
"What about that?" he asked.
"I don't know anything about that sort," Julien admitted. "What you
told me sounded like one of the things you read of in newspapers and
never believe. I don't believe it. Mind you, I don't say it's false,
but I don't believe it because I have never spoken to the woman whom I
could imagine capable of such unselfishness. If I patch up the pieces
again, Kendricks," he added, and his face was suddenly very dark and
very set--the face of an older man, "whatever cement I use, it won't be
the cement of love or any sentiment whatsoever connected with women."
"It's my belief," he began, then he stopped short. "Julien," he
continued kindly, "you're nothing but a big baby. You think you've
moved in the big places. So you have, in a way. But there was a hideous
mistake about your life. You've never had to build. No one can climb
who doesn't build first. These ready-made ladders don't count. Now," he
added, dropping his voice and glancing quickly across the room, "you
will have an opportunity to put into force your new and magnificent
principles of misogyny. Our little sandy-headed friend has been
summoned from the room. I saw the _commissionaire_ come up and whisper
in his ear. Mademoiselle is writing a note. A hundred to one it is to
Julien frowned. He, too, turned his head, and he met the girl's eyes.
She was looking at him curiously. It was not the look of the woman who
invites so much as the look of the woman who appeals for an
understanding, who has something to say. She smiled ever so faintly and
touched with her finger the scrap of paper which she thrust into the
waiter's hand. Then she bent once more over her plate. The man came
across to Julien.
"For you, monsieur," he announced, and laid it by the side of Julien's
"Read it," Kendricks whispered across the table, for he had been quick
to see his companion's first impulse.
"Why should I?" Julien said coldly. "I have no desire to have anything
to do with that young person. What can she have to say to me?"
"Nevertheless, read it," Kendricks repeated.
Julien unrolled the scrap of paper with reluctant fingers. There were
only a few words written there in hasty pencil:
Monsieur, there is a friend of mine whom you must see. Call at number
17, Avenue de St. Paul and ask for Madame Christophor. Do not attempt
to speak to me. This is for your good.
Julien's fingers were upon the note to destroy it, but again Kendricks
"Julien," he insisted, "don't be an idiot. The little girl knows who
you are. She can't imagine that you are in the humor just now for
flirtations. Put the note in your pocket and call. One can't tell. Your
life has been so artificial that you've probably left off believing in
any adventures outside story-books. My life leads me into different
places and I never neglect an opportunity like that."
"A sister manicurist, I expect," Julien replied scornfully; "a palmist,
or some creature of that sort."
Kendricks hammered upon the table for the waiter.
"One takes one's chances," he agreed, "but I do not think that the
little girl over there would send you upon a fool's errand. There are
other things in life, you know, Julien. You carry in your head
political secrets which would be worth a great deal. There may be
danger in that call."
Julien looked at him with faintly curling lip.
"Tell me exactly what you mean?" he asked.
Kendricks shrugged his shoulders. The waiter had arrived and he gave
him a vociferous order.
"Listen," he said, "I could hand you out a hundred surmises and each
one of them ought to be sufficient to induce you to keep that
appointment. You leave here--shall we say under a cloud?--presumably
disgusted with life, with the Government which gives you no second
chance, with your country which discards you. And you have been
Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. Can't you conceive that
this woman on whom you are to call might make suggestions to you which
would at least be amusing? Don't look so incredulous, Julien. Remember
you've lived in the stilted places. I haven't. I believe in the
underground world. You must know for yourself that a great deal of the
truth leaks up through the gratings."
"That is true enough," Julien admitted, "but somehow or other--"
"Let it go at that," Kendricks interrupted. "Promise me that you will
call at that address."
"Yes, I'll call!" he promised.
"Then look across at the little girl and nod," Kendricks suggested.
"She's watching you all the time anxiously. The man hasn't come back
Julien turned his head half unwillingly. The girl was leaning across
the table, her eyes fixed steadfastly upon his. Her lips were parted,
her eyebrows were slightly raised, as though in question. She had been
holding a menu before her face to shield her from the casual observer,
but the moment Julien turned his head she lowered it. He inclined his
head slowly. A curious expression of relief took the place of that
appearance of strained anxiety. Her face became natural once more. She
laid down the menu and took a sip of wine from her glass. Kendricks
looked across at Julien and raised his glass to his lips.
"We will drink, my dear Julien," he said, "to your visit to Madame
Christophor, and what may come of it!"
COFFEE FOR THREE
"Admit," Kendricks insisted, "that you have dined well?"
"I have dined amply," Julien replied.
"I am not satisfied," he declared.
"The _entrecote_ was wonderful, also the omelette," Julien admitted. "I
will supplement 'amply' with 'well,' if you wish, but the insistent
note about this dinner is certainly its amplitude. I have not eaten so
much for ages."
Kendricks was filling his pipe.
"Cigars or cigarettes you must order for yourself," he said. "I know
nothing of them. The coffee is before you. I will be frank with you--it
is not good. The brandy, however, is harmless."
Julien lit a cigarette and leaned back in his chair. Just then the
sandy young man re-entered the room. He hastened to his place, but
instead of resuming it stood by the side of the girl, talking. He
seemed to be suggesting some course of which she disapproved, pointing
to her unfinished dinner. Kendricks nodded his head slowly.
"The young man has to leave," he remarked. "He wishes mademoiselle to
accompany him. She declines. He is annoyed. Behold, a lover's tiff! He
has placed the money for the dinner upon the table. He shakes her hand
very politely. Behold, he goes! Mademoiselle shrugs her shoulders. She
orders from the menu. She remains alone. My dear Julien, if you will
you can prosecute your conquest. The young man has departed."
Julien glanced across the room. He met the girl's eyes and once again
he saw in them that curious, almost impersonal invitation.
"She wants something," Kendricks declared. "I am going over to see what
it can be. Carlo!"
He summoned the waiter and asked him a question quickly in Italian.
"The man says that her companion is not returning," he remarked,
rising. "I am going to interview the young lady."
Julien shrugged his shoulders.
"As you will."
Kendricks crossed the room, his pipe still in his hand. The girl
watched him come, for a moment, and then looked down upon the
tablecloth. She was at the end of a table laid for four or five people,
but only two men were left at the extreme end.
"Mademoiselle," Kendricks said, "my friend thanks you for your message.
His curiosity, however, is piqued. Is there not an opportunity now for
She regarded her questioner a little doubtfully.
"Who are you?" she asked.
"My dear young lady," he answered, "I flattered myself that I possessed
a personality which no one could mistake. Furthermore, I am a constant
"I have never been here in my life before," the girl told him.
"Then your ignorance shall be pardoned," Kendricks declared. "My name
is David Kendricks. I am a journalist. I ought to be an editor, but the
fact remains that I am a mere collector of news, a bringer together of
those trifles which go to make such prints as these," he added,
touching her evening paper, "interesting."
"A journalist," she repeated, glancing up at him. "Yes! I might have
guessed that. Are you a friend of Sir Julien Portel?"
"I think I may call myself a friend," Kendricks admitted. "We were at
She rose composedly to her feet.
"Then I will take my coffee at your table," she decided. "You may
present me. I am Mademoiselle Senn."
"You may not find my friend in the most amiable of moods," he began.
The girl waved her hand.
"It is to be explained," she declared. "To tell you the truth, I was
surprised to see him even in so out of the way a restaurant as this."
"He leaves to-night for the Continent," Kendricks told her.
"So I heard," the girl replied. "Come."