Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

The Mischief Maker by E. Phillips Oppenheim

Part 2 out of 7

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.7 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

Sir Julien watched their approach and the frown upon his aristocratic
forehead, though thin, was distinct. Kendricks, however, took no notice
of it, and the girl pretended that she had not seen.

"Julien," the former announced, holding a chair for mademoiselle, "I am
permitted the pleasure of presenting you to Mademoiselle Senn, who
already knows your name. Mademoiselle sent you a message a few minutes
ago. If she is good-natured, she may choose to explain it. If not, what
does it matter? Mademoiselle will take her coffee with us."

Julien rose to his feet and bowed very slightly.

"We have only a moment or two to spare," he said, "as I am leaving
London to-night."

She looked at him and smiled oddly. She was a very typical young
Frenchwoman of her class--round-faced, with trim little figure, black
eyes, and smart but simple hat; not really good-looking except for the
depth of her clear eyes, and yet with a command of her person and
movements which was not without its charm.

"Monsieur is not too gallant," she murmured, "but one is inclined to
forgive him. If I may take my coffee, I will go. Monsieur has promised
me that he will call and see Madame?"

"Your friend in Paris?" Julien remarked, a little doubtfully.

"Ah! I dare not call her that," the girl continued. "Madame is
different. But I know that it is her wish that you call, and I know
that it would be for your welfare."

"Is it necessary," Julien asked coldly, "that you should be so
mysterious? After all, you know, the thing, on the face of it, is
impossible. Madame probably does not know of my existence, and why
should you take it for granted that I am going abroad?"

"Oh, la, la!" the girl interrupted. "But you amuse one! Madame knows
everything which she desires to know. As to your going to France,
monsieur over there," she added, moving her head backwards, "told me so
some minutes ago."

"And how the dickens did he know, and what right had he to talk about
my affairs?" Julien demanded, with all an Englishman's indignation at
his movements having been discussed by strangers.

"I suppose that it is his business to know those things," she replied,
sipping her coffee. "He is a very mysterious young man. He takes a room
sometimes at the Milan Hotel and he sends for me to manicure his hands.
Then he asks me very clever questions and I look down and I give
him--very clever answers. Then he thinks, perhaps, that his methods are
not quite the best, and he sends me a great box of chocolates, some
stalls for the theatre, some flowers--why not? Then he comes again to
be manicured and he asks more questions, but I know so little. Then
sometimes, not very often, he brings me out to dine. Imagine for
yourself, monsieur," she went on, with a wave of the hand, "the
excitement, the wonder of all this to a poor French girl! And again he
asks questions, but again I know so little. And then, in the midst of
our dinner, his employer has sent for him. He has to go on a journey.
It is sad, is it not? He would like me to go with him to the station,
to see him off, but I--" she shrugged her shoulders. "Why should I
leave before I have finished my dinner? In truth, he wearies me, that
young man. I do not think, Sir Julien Portel, that Englishmen are very

"As a race," Julien declared grimly, "I agree with you. I think that
most men are unutterable fools. But this young admirer of yours--what
are these questions which he asks you so often, and what business is he
in that he should be compelled to leave you to hurry away?"

"Ah, monsieur!" she answered, "it is you now who ask questions. Why
should I tell you, indeed, more than I tell him?"

Julien smiled.

"Perhaps because it was a matter of moment to him whether you replied
or not, whereas, frankly, I only ask you these questions out of the
idlest curiosity."

"Also a little," she remarked, "to make conversation, is it not so?
Very well, then, Sir Julien Portel, let me tell you this. If you do not
know who that young man is, I do not wonder that you find it necessary
to catch the nine o'clock train to the Continent to-night and to give
up that delightful work of yours, where you try to keep the peace
between all these wicked nations, and to get the lion's share of
everything for your great, greedy country. If you do not know who that
young man is, you have not the head for detail, the memory, which goes
to the making of politicians."

Julien leaned back in his chair and laughed, softly but genuinely. Even
Kendricks seemed a little taken aback.

"Upon my word!" the latter exclaimed. "This is an interesting young
person! Mademoiselle, I congratulate you. You have the gifts."

"Interesting, indeed!" Julien agreed, sitting up in his place.
"Mademoiselle, to save my reputation with you I must confess. I do know
who the young man is. He is in the Intelligence Branch of the Secret
Service of the British Foreign Office--Number 3 Department."

The girl nodded several times.

"What you call it I do not know," she said. "He is just one of those
ordinary people who go about to collect little items of information for
your Government. That is why I have received from him four pounds of
chocolate, at least a sovereign's worth of roses, four stalls for the
theatre--which I do believe that he had given to him because they were
for plays that no one goes to see, and to-night a dinner--such a
dinner, messieurs, with chianti that burned my tongue!"

"This," Kendricks declared, "is quite a bright young lady!
Mademoiselle, I trust that we shall become better acquainted."

"And in the meantime," Julien inquired, "what are these wonderful items
of information which you carry with you, and which this unfortunate
young man fails so utterly to elicit?"

"Ah! well," she sighed, "I am by profession a manicurist, but some
freak of nature gave me the power of keeping my mouth closed, of
looking as though I knew a good deal, but of saying so little. Now,
messieurs, what could a poor girl know in the way of secrets for which
that young man would get credit if he had succeeded in eliciting them?
What could I know, indeed? I sit on my little stool and sometimes there
are great people who give me their hands, and they are thoughtful. And
sometimes I ask questions and they answer me absently, because, after
all, what does it matter?--a manicurist from the shop downstairs,
earning her thirty shillings a week, and anxious to be agreeable for
the sake of her tip! And then sometimes while I am there they dictate
letters, or a caller comes, or the telephone rings. One does not think
of the manicure girl at such a time. Fortunately, there are some like
me who know so well how to keep silent, to say nothing, to be dumb."

"The methods of that young man," Kendricks asserted, "were crude. Now,
young lady, consider my position. I represent a power greater than the
power of Governments. I represent a Press which is greedy for personal
news. Have you trimmed lately the nails of a duchess? If so, tell me
what she wore, her favorite oath, any trifling expression likely to be
of interest to the British public! And instead of roses I will send
you carnations; instead of dead-head tickets I will take you myself to
the _Gaiety_; instead of a dinner at the Cafe l'Athenee, I will take
you to supper at the Milan."

"Your friend," mademoiselle declared, smiling at Julien, "is quite an
intelligent person. I like him very much. But I wish he would not smoke
that pipe and I should like to buy him a necktie."

"Julien," Kendricks sighed, "the Bohemian has no chance against such a
model as you."

"I do not think," she remarked, looking Julien in the eyes, "that Sir
Julien Portel cares very much for women--just now, at any rate."

Julien frowned. He absolutely declined to answer the challenge in her
dark eyes.

"Mademoiselle," he said, "when I present myself to this Madame
Christophor, do I deliver any message from you? Do I explain my visit?"

The girl shook her head slowly.

"It will not be necessary," she told him. "Madame Christophor will know
all about you. She will be expecting you."

He smiled scornfully.

"It would be a pity to disappoint a lady with such a remarkable knack
of foretelling things. Supposing, however, I change my mind and visit
St. Petersburg instead?"

She raised her hands--an expressive gesture.

"There is no Madame Christophor in St. Petersburg. I think that you
will be very ill-advised if you go there. Many of the elements which go
to the making of life wait for you in Paris. In St. Petersburg you
would be a stranger. The life is not there."

She rose to her feet briskly.

"Good night, Monsieur le Bohemian!" she said. "Remember that you have
only to accept my little gift of a necktie, to let me take you to a
coiffeur whom I know of, and I will dine with you when you choose. Good
night, Sir Julien! I think I envy you."

Julien laughed. The idea seemed odd to him.

"I fancy you would be in a minority, mademoiselle," he declared.

"At least," she reminded him, "you are going to see Madame

She nodded and left them a little abruptly. Kendricks paid their bill
and they descended into the street a few minutes later. The
_commissionaire_ called a taxi for them and they drove toward

"My friend," Kendricks said, "if I had you here for another week, cut
off from your old life, I'd show you some things that would astonish
you. It's good fortune and these well-ordered ways that keep a man a
prig, even after he's finished with Oxford. The man who lives in the
clouds of Mayfair knows nothing of the real life of this city."

"Some day I'll come back and be your pupil," Julien promised. "You're a
good fellow, David. You've given me something to think about, at any
rate, something to think about besides my own misfortunes."

"That's just what I set out to do," Kendricks declared. "There are
plenty of bigger tragedies than yours loose in the world. Watch the
people, Julien--the people whom such men as you glance over or through
as of no account, the common people, the units of life. Strip them bare
and they aren't so very different, you know. Try and feel for a moment
what they feel. Look at the little dressmaker there, going over to
Paris to buy models, hanging on to her husband's arm. She's probably
got a shop in the suburbs and this trip is a daring experiment. See how
earnestly they are talking about it. I don't think that they have too
easy a time to make ends meet. Do you see that old lady there, clinging
to her daughter? How she hates to part with her! She is going to a
situation, without a doubt, and Paris isn't too easy a place for a girl
with hair and eyes like hers. In her heart I think that the old lady is
remembering that. Then look at that little old man with the tired eyes,
carrying his two valises himself to save the hire of a porter. Can't
you tell by the air of him that he has had an unsuccessful business
journey? Poor fellow! It's a hard struggle for life, Julien, if you get
in the wrong row. You've no one dependent upon you, you don't know the
worst agony that can wring a man's heart.... Got your ticket and
everything, eh? And that looks like your servant. Are you taking him
with you?"

Julien shook his head.

"I shall have to do without a manservant. I never had much money, you
know, David."

"So much the better," Kendricks declared heartily. "It gives you a
final chance. The gutters of the world are full of good fellows who
have been ruined through stepping into a sufficient income."

They found a carriage and arranged Julien's few belongings. Presently
mademoiselle's companion came hurrying up the platform, followed by a
porter carrying his dressing-case. A short distance behind,
mademoiselle, too, was walking, humming to herself.

"Company to Boulogne for you, Julien," Kendricks pointed out. "Your
little man from Number 3 Branch is on your track."

Julien smiled. The young man never glanced towards their carriage as he
passed, but mademoiselle, who was still a few steps behind, made a wry
face at Kendricks.

"I believe she knew that he was going across," the latter declared.

"I wonder if he, too," Julien murmured, "has to call on Madame

The whistle sounded. Kendricks put out his great hands.

"Good luck to you, Julien, old fellow!" he said. "Stand up to life like
a man and look it in the face. I tell you I haven't been gassing
to-night. I'd hate to pose as a moralist, but I do believe that
misfortunes are often blessings in disguise. And I tell you I've a sort
of faith in that little French girl. She gives one to think, as she
herself remarked. Look up Madame Christophor. Don't be surprised to see
me at any moment. I generally turn up in Paris every few weeks or so.
Good luck to you!"

Julien leaned out of the window and waved his hand to Kendricks as the
train moved slowly around the curve. The last face he saw upon the
platform, however, was the face of mademoiselle.



For exactly a month Julien disappeared. At the end of that time,
looking very brown, a shade thinner, and possessed of a knowledge of
the older towns of Normandy which would not have disgraced a guidebook,
he arrived one cold, gray morning at the Gare du Nord. During all this
time he had scarcely seen one familiar face. It was an unpleasant shock
for him, as he waited for his baggage in the Customs House, to realize
that he was being watched from behind a pile of trunks by the little
man who had shown so much interest in him at the Cafe l'Athenee on the
night he had left England. The sight somehow annoyed him. He crossed
the room and accosted his late subordinate.

"What is your name?" he asked coldly. "You are in the Intelligence
Department, I believe?"

"My name is Foster, Sir Julien," the young man replied, after a
moment's hesitation.

"What are you doing over here?"

The young man hesitated.

"You will excuse me, Sir Julien," he said slowly, "but I am responsible
only to the permanent officials in control of my office. Besides,--"

"You can tell me at least how long you have been in Paris?" Julien

"Since the night, Sir Julien, when you came as far as Boulogne."

"May I ask," Julien demanded, "whether I am going to be subject to your

The young man whose name was Foster looked blandly at a pile of luggage
which was just arriving.

"I am not at liberty, Sir Julien," he said, "to explain my

Julien shrugged his shoulders.

"Do as you like, of course. At the same time, let me tell you that you
irritate me. Keep out of my sight as much as possible. It will be
better for you."

Julien turned and left him there, declared his luggage, and was driven
to a quiet hotel in the Rue de Rivoli. There he had a bath, changed his
clothes, and strolled up the Champs Elysees towards the Bois. The sun
had come out and the avenue was crowded with automobiles and carriages.
He walked steadily on until he reached the first of the cafes in the
Bois. He took a chair and watched the crowd. A peculiar sensation of
loneliness oppressed him, a loneliness of which he had been scarcely
conscious during this last month's wanderings among the quiet places.
Paris had seemed so different to him on his last visit. He was
surrounded by friends and people who were anxious to become his
friends. He was in charge of a difficult mission which he was conscious
of conducting with skill. Everywhere he was meeting English people of
his own order, all delighted to see him, all pleased with his notice.
His few days in Paris were merely a change in the kaleidoscope from
London. The life--everything else--was the same. This time he was like
a man cast upon a desert island. He sat at his little table, sipping a
glass of vermouth, and conscious that no man in Paris had fewer
friends. The clubs were closed to him, there were no official visits to
pay, no calls to make, no familiar faces to look for. He was a man who
had had his day, a man disgraced, a man in whom the people had lost
faith, who was dead politically and socially. He thought his position
over carefully from every point of view. It was ruin, utter and
complete. He had disclosed a valuable political secret to a woman who
had not hesitated to make use of it. Nothing could be more ignoble. He
tried to fancy for himself some new life under altered conditions, but
everywhere he seemed to run up against some possibility, some
combination of circumstances which included a share in things which
were absolutely finished. His brain refused to fashion for him the
thought of any life which could leave outside everything which had been
of account to him up till now. Even in London, among the working
classes, it might have been easier. He remembered those few vivid
speeches of Kendricks'. What a gift the man had! Always he seemed to
see big things in life smouldering underneath the lives of these
ordinary people--big things unsuspected, invisible. There was nothing
of the sort to be found here. The only Paris Julien had ever known was
closed to him. Paris the vicious repelled him instinctively. He was
here, he had even looked forward to coming, but now that he had arrived
there was nothing for him to do. After all, he had better have found
some far distant corner in Switzerland or Italy. There was no club for
him to go to, no interest in perusing the newspapers, no visits from
ambassadors to think about. The puzzles of his daily life were ended.
There was nothing for him to do where he was but to eat and to drink
and to sleep!

He lunched at a restaurant of which he had never heard before, and
there, to his anger, almost at the next table, he found Foster. With a
trace of his former imperiousness of manner, he summoned him. The young
man rose, after a moment's hesitation, and obeyed the mandate.

"What are you doing here?" Julien demanded.

"Lunching, sir," the young man replied. "The place has been recommended
to me. I do not know Paris well."

"You lie," Julien declared. "Unless you knew Paris well, you wouldn't
be here for Number 3 Branch. Tell me, are you still watching me?"

"That is a question, Sir Julien, which, as I said before, I am not at
liberty to answer."

Julien drew a little breath between his teeth.

"Look here," he continued, "I want to warn you that I am a bad-tempered
man. You can write home if you like and tell them that you met me
coming out of the German Embassy and the Russian Embassy and the
Italian Embassy, with a list of prices in my hands for different pieces
of information. Is that what you're afraid of, eh?"

"Sir Julien," the young man answered, "I have to make reports only. It
is not my business to question the necessity for them."

Julien laughed. After all, the little man was right.

"Well, perhaps I do need looking after. Is there any particular place
where you would like me to dine? I don't want to bring you out into the
byways if I can help it."

The young man excused himself politely. Julien finished his luncheon
and then took a carriage back to his hotel. He found half-a-dozen
visiting cards in his box and glanced at them eagerly. Every one of
them was from the representative of a newspaper. He tore them into
pieces, left a curt message for their bearers, and went up to his room.
A telegram was lying upon his bureau. He tore it open and read:

Call on Madame Christophor this afternoon.

He frowned and threw the unsigned telegram into a wastepaper-basket.

"That decides it," he muttered to himself. "I will not call upon Madame

Nevertheless, he changed into calling attire and presently strolled out
once more into the sunshine. From habit he turned into the Champs
Elysees. The sight of a group of acquaintances drove him into a side
street. He walked for a short distance and then paused to see his
whereabouts. He was in the Avenue de St. Paul. He studied the numbers.
Exactly opposite was Number 17. He stood there, gazing at the house,
and at that moment a large automobile glided up to the front door. The
footman sprang down and a lady descended, passing within a few feet of
him. She was tall, very elegant, and her eyes, gaining, perhaps, a
little color from the pallor of her cheeks, were the most beautiful
shade of violet-blue which he had ever seen. She was a woman whom it
was impossible not to notice. Julien stood quite still, watching her.
The footman who had stepped down in advance had rung the bell, and the
postern door already stood open. The lady did not at once enter. She
was looking at Julien. This, then, was Madame Christophor! He was aware
at that moment of two distinct impressions--one was that she knew
perfectly well who he was; the other that at any cost, however _gauche_
it might seem, it was better for him to ignore the faint gleam of
recognition which already lent the dawn of a gracious smile to her

The woman was certainly expecting him to speak. Every second her
hesitation seemed more purposeful. Julien, however, with an effort
which was almost savage, set his teeth and walked on. She looked after
him for a moment and began to laugh softly to herself. Julien walked
steadily on till he had reached the corner of the street. Then he
turned away abruptly and without glancing around. He was angry with
himself, angry at the sound of that faint, musical laugh. He had quite
made up his mind not to call upon Madame Christophor. It would, in
fact, now be impossible. He would never be able to explain his
avoidance of her.

He was in a part of Paris of which he knew nothing, but he walked on
aimlessly, anxious only to escape the vicinity of the clubs and of the
fashionable thoroughfares. Suddenly he was conscious that an automobile
had drawn up close to the curbstone by his side. The footman sprang
lightly down and accosted him.

"Monsieur," he announced, "Madame Christophor has sent her automobile.
She would be happy to receive you at once."

Julien glanced inside the automobile. It was daintily upholstered in
white. A pile of cushions lay on the seat, there was a glove upon the
floor, the faint fragrance of roses seemed to steal out. Almost he
fancied that the woman's face was there, leaning a little towards him,
with the curious smile about the lips, the wonderful eyes glowing into
his. Then he set his teeth.

"You had better inform your mistress," he said, "that there is some
mistake. I have not the honor of the acquaintance of Madame
Christophor. You have followed the wrong person."

The man hesitated. He seemed perplexed.

"But, monsieur," he persisted, "madame pointed you out herself. It was
only because of a block in the roadway that we were not able to catch
you up before. We have, indeed, never lost sight of you."

Julien shook his head. "Pray assure madame," he said, "of my most
respectful regrets. I have not the honor of her acquaintance."

He walked on. The two men sat for a moment on the box of the car,
watching him. Then they turned around and the car disappeared. Julien
jumped into a little carriage and drove back to his hotel. As he passed
through into the office, the clerk leaned forward.

"Monsieur is desired upon the telephone," he announced.

Julien frowned.

"Who is it?"

The man shrugged his shoulders and pointed to the booth. Julien
hesitated. Then he stepped inside and held the receiver to his ear.

"Who is this?" he asked.

A very slow, musical voice answered him. He never for a moment had a
doubt as to whose it might be.

"Is this Sir Julien Portel?"

"This is Julien Portel," he answered. "Who is it speaking?"

"I am Henriette Christophor," the voice replied. "I had word from
England, Sir Julien Portel, that you were coming to see me."

"I shall do myself that honor," Julien assured her, "before I leave

"You were not polite," the voice continued, "that you did not come this

"Madame," Julien said, "I am not here to make acquaintances. It is true
that I promised to call upon you; I do not know why, I do not know whom
I promised, I do not know for what reason I was asked to come. Since I
have promised, however, and you are kind enough to desire it, I will

"And why not now?" the voice persisted. "You are alone in Paris, are
you not? I have something to say to you, something which is best said

Julien hesitated.

"You will come?" the voice begged. "My automobile will be at your hotel
in ten minutes. You shall come, and if you dislike, after all, to make
that call, you shall drive with me, if you prefer it. Monsieur, if you

"I will be ready," Julien answered.

He hung up the receiver and walked out into the hall. He was angry with
himself because only an hour ago he had told himself that he would not
make that call. He was angry, too, because the fact of his making it or
not making it had assumed a ridiculous importance in his eyes.

He walked to the bar and filled his case with cigarettes. Then he took
up a monthly magazine and read. His own official resignation was dealt
with in a political article of some significance. It interested him
curiously. One sentence in particular he read several times:

It is not our desire to play the alarmist, but we would point out to
Great Britain that she may at any time within the next few weeks be
called upon to face a situation of great gravity, and we cannot help
expressing our regret that when that time comes the country should be
deprived of the advice, sound judgment and experience of a man who,
notwithstanding his youth, has already made his mark in European

Julien flung the paper down. What that situation might be he knew,
perhaps, better than any man!

The porter hurried up to him.

"There is a lady outside who inquires for monsieur," he announced.



She held out an ungloved hand to him as he stepped up to the
automobile. Having gained her ends, she was disposed to be merciful.

"This is very kind of you, Sir Julien," she murmured. "I really was
most anxious to have you visit me. Will you step in, please, and drive
with me a little way? One converses so easily and it would perhaps
amuse you more than to sit in my rooms."

"You are very thoughtful," Julien replied. "I will come, with pleasure,
if I may."

He seated himself by her side.

"You must put your stick and gloves in the rack there," she continued,
"and make yourself quite comfortable. We drive a short distance into
the country, if you do not mind."

"I am entirely at your service," he answered.

He was firmly determined to remain wholly unimpressed by whatever she
said or did, yet, even in those first few moments, the sweetness of her
voice and the delicate correctness of her English sounded like music to
him. There was a suspicion of accent, too, which puzzled him.

"We are not altogether strangers, you know," she went on. "I have seen
you before several times. I think the last time that you were in Paris
you sat in a box at Auteuil with some friends of mine."

Somehow or other, he was conscious of a certain embarrassment. He was
not at his best with this woman, and he found it hard, almost
impossible, to escape from commonplaces.

"It was my misfortune that I did not see you," he remarked. "My visit
was rather a momentous one. I dare say I paid less attention than usual
to my surroundings."

"Tell me," she asked, "it was my little friend Emilie, was it not, who
persuaded you to come and see me?"

"It was a little girl with whose name, even, I was unacquainted,"
Julien replied. "I must admit that I scarcely took her request
seriously. I could not conceive anything which you might have to say
which could justify the intrusion of a perfect stranger."

"But you," she reminded him, "are not a perfect stranger. You have been
a public man. You see, I am not afraid of hurting you because I think
that you will soon get over that little sensitiveness. I know all about
you--everything. You trusted a woman. Ah! monsieur, it is dangerous,

"Madame," he said, looking into her wonderful eyes, "one makes that
mistake once, perhaps, in a lifetime--never again."

"The woman who deceives," she sighed, "makes it so difficult for all
those who come after! I suppose already in your mind I figure as a sort
of adventuress, is it not so?"

"Certainly, madame," he answered calmly. "It never occurred to me to
doubt but that you were something of the sort."

She half closed her eyes and laughed softly to herself, moving her head
like a child, as though from sheer pleasure.

"It is delicious, this frankness!" she exclaimed. "Ah! what a pity that
you did not come before that other woman had destroyed all your faith!
We might, perhaps, have been friends. Who can tell?"

"It is possible," he assented.

"So you believe that I am an adventuress," she continued. "You think
that I sent for you probably to try and steal one by one all those
wonderful secrets which I suppose you have stored up at the back of
your head. One cannot be Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs
without knowing things. Keep them to yourself, Sir Julien. I ask you no

"Then why," he demanded, "did you insist upon this visit from me, and
why did the little manicurist, who is a perfect stranger to me, insist
also that I should come to you?"

She smiled, and looked down at her hands for a moment.

"Now if I answer all your questions, Sir Julien," she said, "you will
have no more curiosity left, and when your curiosity is gone, perhaps
some measure of your interest may go, too. Can you not bring yourself
to believe that I may have had personal reasons for desiring your

"Madame," he answered, "no! I cannot bring myself to believe that."

Again she laughed.

"I think," she declared, "that it is your candor which makes you
Englishmen so attractive. Do you believe that I am a dangerous person,
Sir Julien?"

He looked at her coldly and dispassionately.

"I think," he decided, "that you might be very dangerous indeed to a
susceptible person."

"But not to you?"

"Certainly not to me," he admitted. "As you have already told me, it is
within your knowledge that I am paying the price for having trusted a

She nodded.

"It is a fine sort of ruin, after all. Not to trust is generally proof
of a mean and doubting disposition."

"You are probably right, madame," he agreed. "Is it permitted to remind
you that we have been together for some time and you have not yet
enlightened me as to your reasons for seeking my acquaintance?"

"Can't you believe that it was a whim?" she asked.


"Remember that I saw you when you were here before," she persisted.

"I have no recollection of having met you."

"Yet I can tell you nearly all that you did on that last visit of
yours. You dined one night at the Embassy, one night at the Travelers'
Club with a party of four, one night with the Minister--Courcelles. You
were two hours with him on the afternoon of the day you dined with him.
You managed to snatch an hour at the races and to lunch at the Pre
Catelan on your way. You lunched, I believe, with Monsieur le Duc de
St. Simon and his friends."

"Your knowledge of my movements," he declared, "is very flattering. It
suggests an interest in me, I admit, but I have yet to be convinced
that that interest is in any way personal."

She looked at him from under the lids of her eyes.

"What is it, Sir Julien, that you possess, then, which you fear that I
might steal?"

He returned her gaze boldly. "I am a discarded Minister," he said. "I
might reasonably be supposed to be suffering from a sense of wrong. Why
should it not occur to a clever woman like you that it might be a
favorable moment to obtain a little information concerning one or two
political problems of some importance? Are you interested in such
matters, madame?"

She leaned back in her seat and laughed. He sat and watched her.
Distinctly she was, in certain ways, the most beautiful woman he had
ever seen. It was true that she was pale and that her neck was a trifle
thin, but her face was so aristocratic and yet so piquant, the color of
her eyes so delightful, her mouth so soft and yet so humorous. She laid
her hand upon his arm.

"Oh! my dear, dear Englishman," she exclaimed, "Heaven indeed has sent
you to me that I should not die of ennui! You do not know who I am--I,
Madame Christophor?"

"I have no idea who you are," he assured her. "I have never seen you
before. I know of no other name than the one by which I was told to ask
for you."

She leaned a little closer to him.

"Come," she said, "you see me for what I am. I shall not rob you, I
shall not drug you, I shall not try to tear secrets out of your throat
by any medieval methods. We are neither of us of the order of those who
seek adventures in vulgar fashion and expect always a vulgar
termination. Can't we be friends for a time--companions? Paris is an
empty city for me just now. And for you--you must avoid those whom you
know. It follows that you must be lonely. Let me show you my Paris."

Julien looked steadfastly out at the country, at the flying hedges, the
tall avenues of poplar trees in the distance, the clumsy farm wagon
coming across the hayfield, the blue-petticoated women who marched by
its side--anywhere to escape for a moment or two from her eyes. It was
absurd that he should feel even this faint interest in her proposition!
It was only a month since the blow had fallen, only a month since the
girl to whom he had been engaged had sent him away with a sigh and a
little handshake. It was only a month since life lay in splinters
around him. It was much too soon to feel the slightest interest in the
things which she was proposing!

"Madame Christophor," he said, "you are very kind, but I tell you
frankly that I should accept your proposition with more pleasure if you
had been of my own sex."

"You have become a woman-hater?"

"I cannot trust a woman," he answered coldly. "All the time I have the
feeling of insecurity. I fear that it must sound ungallant if I tell
you what is the sober truth--that your sex for the present has lost all
charm for me."

She closed her eyes. Perhaps from behind the mask of her still face she
was laughing at him!

"Do you think I don't understand that a little?" she murmured. "Never
mind, for to-night, at least, I will be sexless. You can believe that I
am a man. I think you will find that I can talk to you about most of
the things that men know of. Politics we will leave alone. You would
mistrust me at once. Art--I can tell you of our modern French painters;
I can tell you about these two wonderful Russians who are painting in
their studio here; I can tell you what to look for at the new
exhibitions, what studios to visit--I can take you to them, if you
will. Or old Paris--does that interest you? Have you ever seen it
properly? I know my old Paris very well indeed. Or would you rather
talk of books? There have been many years when I have done little else
but read. Tell me that we may be companions for a time. You have
nothing to lose, indeed, and I have so much to gain."

"Madame," Julien replied, "I do not trust you. You are doubtless an
agreeable companion, and as such I am willing to spend a short time
with you. This is an ungracious acceptance of your suggestion, but it
is the best I am capable of."

She clapped her hands.

"It is something, after all," she declared, "and let me tell you this,
my friend," she added, leaning over. "You have been frank with me. You
have told me that you hated my sex, that you distrusted us all. Very
well, I will share your frankness. I will tell you this. Neither am I
any friend of your sex. I, too, have my grievance. I, too, have
something in my heart of which I cannot speak, which, when I think of
it, makes me hate every male creature that walks the earth. Perhaps
with that in my heart and what you have in yours, we may meet and pass
and meet again and pass, and do one another no harm. Is that finished?"

"By all means," he agreed.

Her expression changed.

"Come," she said, "now you shall see that I have begun my plots. I have
brought you away from Paris into the country places. For what, I
wonder? Are you terrified?"

"Not in the least," he assured her.

"Brave fellow! Perhaps when you know the truth, your heart will shake
with fear. You are going to dine in a country restaurant."

"That does not terrify me in the least," he replied, smiling. "I think
that it will be charming."

"It is a tiny place," she told him, "not very well known as yet; soon,
I fear, likely to become fashionable. One sits at little tables on a
lawn of the darkest green. If the sun shines, an umbrella of pink and
white holland shades us. Quite close is the river and a field of
buttercups. There are flowers in the garden, and so many shrubs that
one can be almost alone. And behind, an old inn. They cook simply, but
the trout comes from the river, and it is cool."

"It sounds delightful," Julien admitted; "but, madame, indeed it is I
who must be host."

She shook her head.

"On the contrary, it is by subtlety that I have brought you here and
that I claim to be the giver of the feast. You see, you dine with me
to-night. You must ask me back again. It is the custom of your country,
is it not?"

He smiled. The automobile had turned in now up a short drive, and
stopped before a long, low building. Down in the gardens they could see
fairylights swinging in the faint breeze. A short man, with
close-cropped hair and a fierce black moustache and imperial, came
hastening out to greet them. When he recognized Madame Christophor, he
bowed low.

"Monsieur Leon," she said, "I bring an Englishman to try your river
trout. You must give me a table near that great tree of lilac that
smells so sweetly. I order nothing--you understand? But you must
remember that monsieur is English. He will want his champagne dry and
his brandy very old. Is it not so, my friend? Now I will give you into
charge of _monsieur le proprietaire_ here. He shall show you where you
can drink a little _aperitif_, if you will. He shall show you, too,
where to find me presently."

A trim maid came hurrying up and took possession of Madame Christophor.
Julien followed his guide into a small reception room, all pink and

"If monsieur desires to wash," the proprietor explained, "he passes
beyond there. And for an _aperitif?_"

"I will take anything you send me," Julien declared. "What is the name
of this place, monsieur?"

"They call it the Maison Leon d'Or, monsieur," the man replied. "It is
my own idea--a country house I purchased once for myself, but found it
too far, alas! from Paris. In the fine weather we could, if we chose,
have half Paris here. When the cold days come, there is nobody.
Monsieur permits?"

He departed and Julien strolled to the window. In the portion of the
gardens over which he looked were smaller tables, set out simply for
those who desired to take their coffee and liqueurs or _aperitif_ out
of doors. Julien glanced out idly enough at the little group of people
dotted about here and there. Then his face suddenly darkened. At a
table within a few yards of where he stood were seated Foster and a man
whose back was turned towards him.

Julien's first impulse was to retire out of sight, for the window was
open and he himself imperfectly concealed by the muslin blind. Then, as
he was on the point of retiring, he distinctly heard the sound of his
own name. The two men were speaking in a low tone, but a slight breeze
was blowing into the room. Julien stood still and listened. The man who
was a stranger to him was speaking to Foster.

"The woman is first, it is true," he muttered. "She will pump him dry,
no doubt. But what matter? She may even put him on his guard, but I say
again, what matter? There is a price for everything, a price or--"

The man's voice died away and Julien heard nothing for some time. Then
he saw Foster shake his head.

"Our service," Foster declared, "does not protect us in such a
position. It does not allow us to go to extremes. I am supposed to be
here to watch him, but I am really powerless. He might become your man
or hers or any one else's. I could do nothing but report."

His companion leaned across the table.

"What you call your Secret Service," Julien heard him say, "is a farce.
You have no authority, no scope. You are too proud to ferret about as
the others do. You sit in dignified ease and wait for information to be
brought to you. My good Foster, you must learn to be a man. We must
teach you."

Again their voices became inaudible. Julien drew back into the room.
His heart was beating faster, his brain was full of new thoughts. From
a place where he was absolutely secure he sat and gazed at Foster and
his companion. Presently the waiter entered with the _aperitif_. Julien
gave him five francs.

"Listen," he said, "you see those two gentlemen sitting there?"

"_Parfaitement_, monsieur," the man replied.

"Have you ever seen the elder one before--the dark one with the

The waiter hesitated.

"Monsieur," he said, looking at the five francs in his hand, "_monsieur
le proprietaire_ here has strange notions. He objects that we mention
ever the name of any of his clients."

"Why is that?" Julien asked.

"How should one know, monsieur?" the waiter answered. "Only it seems
that this place is a little distance from Paris, it is retired, one
finds seclusion here. People meet, I think, in these gardens who do not
care to be seen in Paris. There are some come here who whisper at the
door to _monsieur le proprietaire_ that their names must never be

"One can understand that, perhaps," Julien agreed, "but these are
surely affairs of gallantry? It is when the gentlemen bring ladies,

The man shook his head and gesticulated an emphatic negative.

"Monsieur," he declared, "there are other things. There are other
things, indeed. This place is well-known because there meet here often
men who are interested in discussing serious matters. I can tell
monsieur, alas! the name of no one among the guests here. If I
attempted it, it would mean my dismissal, and there is no place in
Paris, monsieur, where the salaries are so good as here." Julien
hesitated. Then he drew a louis from his pocket.

"Listen," he said, "you may rely upon my word. No mention of it shall
go outside this room. Take this louis for just the name of that
gentleman with his back to you."

The waiter took the louis.

"His name, monsieur, I cannot tell you, but I will tell you what
perhaps will do for monsieur as well. The German Ambassador comes
sometimes here with a party of friends; somewhere in the distance you
will find the gentleman about whom you ask. The German Ambassador rides
through the streets when Paris is troubled; somewhere close at hand you
will find monsieur there. The German Ambassador he attends the races;
feeling, perhaps, is running a little high. Somewhere amongst the crowd
who watch the races, and very close to _Monsieur l'Ambassadeur_, you
will find monsieur there with the shoulders."

Julien drank his _aperitif_ thoughtfully.

"Thank you," he said to the waiter. "You have earned your money. You
need have no fear."

There was a knock at the door. _Monsieur le proprietaire_ presented

"Monsieur," he announced, "it is my honor to conduct you to the table
reserved for madame and yourself. Madame awaits you."



The gardens of the Maison Leon d'Or were, in their way, unique. There
was no extent of open space, but the walks threaded everywhere a large
shrubbery, and in all sorts of corners and quiet places little dining
tables had been placed. Scarcely any one was in sight of any other
person, although they were so close together that all the time there
was a hum of voices. In the distance, down by the river, a large
gondola was passing slowly backwards and forwards, on which an
orchestra played soft music. Julien and Madame Christophor crossed the
narrow strip of lawn together and followed Monsieur Leon into the
graveled path bordered with fairy lamps.

"I have arranged for madame and monsieur," he announced, looking
backwards, "a table near the lilac tree of which madame is so fond. The
perfume, indeed, is exquisite. If madame pleases!"

They turned from the path on to another strip of lawn, which they
gained by rounding a large lilac bush. Here a small table was laid with
the whitest of cloths and the most dazzling of silver. An attentive
waiter was already arranging an ice-pail in a convenient spot. From
here the gardens sloped gently to the river, which was barely forty
yards distant. Although it was scarcely twilight, the men on the
gondola were lighting the lamps.

"Madame and monsieur will find this table removed from all chance
visitors," the proprietor declared. "If the dinner is not perfect,
permit that I wait upon you again. A word to the waiter and I arrive.
Madame! Monsieur!"

He retreated, with a bow to each. Julien, with a little laugh, took his
place at the table.

"Madame," he said, "your entertainment is charming."

"The entertainment is nothing," Madame replied, "but here at least is
one advantage--we are really alone. I do not know how you feel, but the
greatest rest in life to me is sometimes the solitude. There is no one
overlooking us, there is no one likely to pass whom we know. We are
virtually cut off from all those who know us or whom we know. My
friend, I would like you to remember this our first evening. Talk, if
you will, or be silent. For me it is equal. I, too, have thoughts which
I can summon at any time to bear me company. And there is the river. Do
you hear the soft flow of it, and the rustle of the breeze in the
shrubs, the perfumes, and--listen--the music? Ah! Sir Julien, I think
that we give you over here some things which you do not easily find in
your own country."

"You are right," he agreed slowly. "You give us a better climate, more
sympathetic companionship, a tenderer chicken, a more artistic salad."

"At heart you are a materialist, I perceive," she declared.

"We all are," he admitted. "Everything depends upon our power of

The service of dinner commenced almost at once. There was something
excessively peaceful in the scene. The tables were so arranged that one
heard nothing of the clatter of crockery. The murmur of voices came
like a pleasant undernote. They talked lightly for some time of the
English theatres, of the stage generally, some recent memoirs--anything
that came into their heads. Then Julien was silent for several minutes.
He leaned slightly across the table. Their own lamp was lit now and
through the velvety dusk her eyes seemed to glow with a new beauty.

"Tell me," he begged, "you spoke of yourself a little time ago as
though you might have a personality at which I ought to have guessed.
Are you a woman of Society, or an artist, or merely an idler?"

"I have known something of Society," she replied. "I believe I may say
that I am something of an artist. It is very certain that I am not an
idler. Why ask me these questions? Let us forget to be serious tonight.
Let us remember only that we are companions, and that the hours, as
they pass, are pleasant."

"It is a philosophy," he murmured, "which brings its own retribution."

She shrugged her shoulders.

"All happiness is lost," she declared, "the moment you begin to try and
define it. It is a sensation, not a state of being. Let us drift. The
waters are not dangerous for you or for me."

Her words chilled him with a sudden memory. Then, in the act of helping
himself to wine, he paused. Some one had taken the table nearest to
them, dimly visible through the laurel bushes. He heard the voice of
the man who had been with Foster, giving the orders.


There was no need for him to have spoken. Curiously enough, Madame

Christophor seemed also to have recognized the voice. Her hand fell
upon Julien's. He looked at her in surprise. Her cheeks were blanched,
her eyes blazing.

"You hear that voice?" she whispered.

Julien nodded.

"It is the voice of the only person in the world," she continued, "whom
I absolutely hate."

"You know whose it is, then?"

"Of course!" she replied.

"So do I," he muttered. "I have never seen the man's face, but I know a
little about him."

She shivered.

"Come," she said, "let us have our coffee later. We have finished
dinner and the moon is coming up. If we walk to the bottom there, we
shall see it from the bend of the river, and we shall escape from those

He rose hastily to his feet. She led the way down the path. Here and
there they caught a glimpse of other tables as they passed--little
parties of two or four, all very gay. Madame breathed more freely as
they progressed. Presently they passed through an iron gate into a
field, already half-mown. The perfume of the fresh-cut grass came to
them with an almost overpowering sweetness. Her hand fell upon his arm.

"Forgive me," she begged, "I am not really a weak woman. I do not think
that there is any other sound in life which I hate so much as the sound
of that voice."

They walked in silence along the narrow path. Soon they reached the
edge of the river. A few steps further on was a seat, of which they
took possession. In the distance the gondola, on fire now with lamps,
was playing a waltz. A bat flew for a moment about their heads.
Somewhere in the woods a long way down the river a nightingale was

"I am not often so foolish," she murmured. "Once--let me tell you
this--once I had a dear little friend. She was very sweet, but a little
too trusting, too simple for the life here. She found a lover. She
thought she had found the happiness of her life. Poor child! For a
month, perhaps, she was happy. Then he forced her to give up her little
home and her savings and go upon the stage. He preferred a mistress
from the theatres. She worked hard, but, sweetly pretty though she was,
she was not very successful. Then she caught cold. She began to lose
her health--and she lost her lover."


"The child got worse," madame went on. "Presently they told her that it
was consumption. She went to a hospital and she wrote a pathetic little
note to the man. He tore it up. There had been an article in the papers
a few weeks before proving that consumption was among the diseases
which were more or less infectious. He sent her a few brutal lines and
a trifle of money, with a warning that there was to be no more. He
never went to see her. The child grew worse. I used to sit with her
sometimes. I saw her look down upon the river, almost as we are looking
now, and her eyes would grow soft and wet with tears, and she would
tell me in whispers of the evenings she had spent with him, when the
love had first come, and how sweet and tender he was. There must be
something wrong, she was sure. He did not understand, he could not know
how ill she really was. She prayed for the sight of him. I put her off
with one excuse after another, but one day the fear of death was in her
eyes, the terror came to her, she was afraid. She was afraid of dying
alone, of going into a strange country, no one to hold her. I went to
the man, I begged him to come and see her. He scoffed at me. If she had
consumption, she was better dead. He would have flirted with me if I
had let him. I can hear his voice now--brutal, jeering, hideous! It was
the voice, Sir Julien, which we heard ten minutes ago at the next
table. Do you wonder that I hate it?"

"And the little girl?" he asked.

"When I returned without him," she answered, "the little girl was

They were both silent, listening to the splash of the water and to the
distant music.

"Life is like that," she went on. "We pass through it lightly enough,
but Heaven only knows the number of little tragedies against which our
skirts must brush. Sometimes they leave impressions, sometimes we grow
callous, but the horror of that man's voice will stay with me
always.... Shall we go back now? You would like your coffee."

"Sit here for five minutes more," he begged. "Tell me, did you know
that the man was a spy?"

She looked at him curiously.

"How is it that you know so much about him?"

"He is sitting there with an Englishman who comes from our Intelligence
Department," Julien explained. "They were speaking together of some
one--I believe it was myself--speaking in none too friendly terms.
There was a woman, too, whose name they coupled with mine, but I could
not hear that. I made some inquiries about the man. I was told that he
was in the suite of the German Ambassador."

She nodded.

"Whoever or whatever he is," she said, "he is something to be abhorred.
Hush! There is some one coming down the footpath."

They sat quite silent. Some instinct seemed to tell them who it was.
Suddenly they heard the voice--rasping, unpleasant.

"You have bungled the affair, Foster. It is not well-managed; it is not
clever. You were to have brought him to me, to have let me know the
instant he reached Paris. I would have seen him. Just as he was, I
should have succeeded. Now it may be that this woman has warned him
already. She is very clever. If she has him, he will not escape."

Foster's voice was inaudible, but whatever he said seemed to anger his

"Thunder and lightning!" they heard the man exclaim. "Am I a fool that
you talk to me like this? Yes, I go to him--I go to him to-night, but I
tell you that it is too late! If it is too late, there is but one thing
to be done. You are a coward, Foster!"

They came out into the open, on the path which fringed the river, and
they were immediately silent. They came strolling along and noticed for
the first time the two figures upon the seat. Instantly they began to
talk upon some local subject. No escape was possible. In a few minutes
they were opposite the bench. Foster started a little. The other man's
face darkened. He ventured upon a bow. Madame Christophor looked at him
as one might look upon some strange animal. Foster hesitated for a
moment, but his companion pushed him along.

"I think," she whispered, "that that man would like to do me an

Julien was watching their retreating forms.

"I don't understand what Foster is doing there, or what the dickens
they were talking about," he said thoughtfully. "I think if you don't
mind," he added, "we will return."

"Why are you so suddenly uneasy?" she asked.

He shrugged his shoulders.

"Apparently," he answered, "you know who I am and everything about me.
I, on the other hand, am ignorant almost of your very name. There are
certain circumstances connected with my late career which make it

"Oh, I know all that you are going to say!" she interrupted. "But ask
yourself. Have I made any attempt whatever to ask you a single
unbecoming question?"

"You certainly have not," he confessed.

"Your little friend returns," she whispered. "See!"

Foster came back to them, slowly, with reluctant footsteps. He had the
appearance of a man bent upon a mission which he dislikes.

"Sir Julien," he said, as he drew near, "would you grant me a moment's

Julien looked at him.

"You probably know my address," he replied coldly. "You can call there
and see me. At present I am engaged."

"Sir Julien, the matter is of some importance," Foster persisted. "I
have a friend who is anxious to meet you. It would be an affair of a
few words only, and perhaps an appointment afterwards."

"Is the friend to whom you refer the person with whom you were walking
just now?" Julien inquired.

"Yes!" Foster admitted. "If you can spare me a moment I can explain--"

"You need explain nothing," Julien interrupted. "Understand, please,
that I decline absolutely to make that person's acquaintance."

Foster looked away from Sir Julien to the woman who stood by his side.

"Am I to take this as final?" he asked.

Julien turned on his heel.

"Absolutely," he said. "The little I know of the person with whom you
seem to be spending the evening makes me feel more inclined to pitch
him into the river than to make his acquaintance. As a matter of fact,
Foster, I don't know, of course, under what instructions you are acting
over here, but I should not have considered him exactly a companion for

Foster started. A new fear had suddenly broken in upon him.

"I am doing my best to carry out instructions, sir," he declared. "I do
not understand why you should take so prejudiced a view of my friend."

"It is, perhaps," Julien replied, "because I know more about him than
you seem to. Good night!"

They walked slowly back to the gardens. The woman was thoughtful.

"I am sorry," she said, "that those people came along to spoil our
first evening together. I am glad, though, that you refused to meet the
German. All that he would have done would have been to try and fill
your mind with suspicions of me. Haven't you found me harmless?"

"I am not sure," he answered.

She laughed softly.

"Ah, me!" she exclaimed, "I gave you an opening, didn't I, and one must
remember that of late years the men of your nation have established a
reputation over here for gallantry. Harmless, at least, so far as
regards tearing political secrets from your bosom?"

"As a matter of fact," Julien remarked, "there are not so many secrets
between France and England, are there?"

"Thanks in some measure to you," she reminded him. "You take it for
granted, I notice, that I am a Frenchwoman."

He looked at her in great surprise.

"Why, indeed, yes! Is there any doubt about it?"

"My mother was an American," she told him.

"Tell me your real name?" he asked suddenly.

"On the contrary, I am going to beg you not to try and discover it. Let
us remain as we are for a little time. You are lonely here and you need
companionship, and I am very much in the same position. You are a hater
of women and I have sworn eternal enmity against all men. We are so
safe, and solitude is bad for us."

He smiled.

"You are very kind," he said, "but as for me, I am only starting my
wanderings. I want to go on through Algiers to Morocco, to Egypt, and
later to the east. I never meant to stay long in Paris."

"I do not blame you," she declared. "Sooner or later you must find your
way where the battle is. Paris is not a city for men. One loiters here
for a time, but one passes on always. Never mind, while you stay here I
shall claim you."

They drove back to Paris through the perfumed stillness of the long
spring night. Madame had instructed her chauffeur to drive slowly, and
more than one automobile rushed past them, with flaring lights and
sounding horn. In one they caught a glimpse of Foster and his
companion, whispering together as they raced by. Madame half closed her
eyes with a little shiver.

"Those men again!" she exclaimed, "They say that Estermen never
abandons a chase. You may still find him waiting for you in your



In the front row of balcony tables at the Cafe des Ambassadeurs was one
which had been transformed into a veritable bower of pink roses. The
florists had been at work upon it since early in the afternoon, and
their labors were only just concluded as the guests of the restaurant
were beginning to arrive. Henri, the chief _maitre d'hotel_, had
personally superintended its construction. He stood looking at the
result of their labors now with a well-satisfied aspect.

"But it is perfect," he declared. "The orders of Monsieur Freudenberg
have indeed been delightfully carried out. You will present the account
as usual, mademoiselle," he directed the florist, who in her black
frock, a little hot and flushed with her labors, was standing by his
side. "Remember monsieur is well able to pay."

"It is, perhaps, a prince who dines in such state?" the girl inquired.

The _maitre d'hotel_ smiled.

"It is, on the contrary," he told her, "a maker of toys from Germany."

She made a little grimace.

"And to think that my back aches, that I have pricked myself so," she
exclaimed, showing the scarred tips of her fingers, "for the sake of a
toymaker from Germany! But it is not like you, Henri, to disturb
yourself so for anything less than a prince."

Henri, who was a sleek and handsome man, with black moustache and
imperial, shook his head sadly.

"Ah! mademoiselle," he said, "when you have lived as long as I, you
will know that the times indeed have changed. It is no longer the
princes of the world to whom one gives one's best service. It is those
who carry the heaviest money bags who command it."

"Well, well," she replied, "that is perhaps true. Yet in our little
shop in the Rue de la Paix we do not always find that it is those with
the heaviest money bags who pay us most generously for our flowers. I
would sooner serve a bankrupt aristocrat than a wealthy shopkeeper. If
they pay at all, these aristocrats, they pay well."

Henri stretched out his hands.

"Mademoiselle, there are shopkeepers who are also princes. My client of
this evening is one of those. Behold, he comes! Pardon!"

The man for whom these great preparations had been made stood in the
entrance of the restaurant, waiting for the woman who was giving her
cloak to the _vestiaire_. He was tall and thin, dressed rather
severely, with a black tie and short coat, a monocle which hung from
his neck with a black ribbon. His face was unusually long, his eyes
deep-set, his mouth set firm on a somewhat protuberant jaw, with lines
at the corners which somehow suggested humor. When he saw Henri he

"Once more, Henri," he remarked, with a little smile, "once more in my
beloved Paris!"

"Monsieur is always welcome," Henri declared, bowing to the ground.
"Paris is the gayer for his coming."

"You are indeed a nation of courtiers!" Herr Carl Freudenberg
exclaimed. "What German _Oberkellner_ would have thought of a speech
like that to a Frenchman finding himself in Berlin! Ah! Henri, you try,
all of you, to spoil me here. Is it not so, mademoiselle?" he added,
turning with a bow and a smile to the girl who stood now by his side.
"Henri here speaks honied words to me always. The wonder to me is that
I am ever able to tear myself away from this city of fascination."

"If we could keep monsieur," the girl murmured, smiling at Henri, "I
think that we should all be very well content."

Herr Freudenberg made a little grimace.

"But my toys!" he cried. "Who is there in Germany could make such toys
as I and my factory people? The world would be sad indeed--the world of
children, I mean--if my factory were to close down or my designers
should lose their cunning."

"Is it the greatest ambition of monsieur," the girl asked, "to amuse
and make happy the world of children? Have not the world of grown
people some claims?"

"Monsieur will, I trust, and madame," Henri declared, as they moved
slowly forward, "find much to admire in the table which has been
prepared for them this evening. It is by the orders of monsieur so
enclosed that here one may talk without fear of observation. And the
perfume of these roses, every one of which has been selected, is a
wonderful thing. It is indeed a work of art."

Herr Freudenberg turned deliberately on one side where the little
flower girl was still lingering.

"Mademoiselle," he said, "something tells me that it is you whom we
have to thank for this adorable creation. It is indeed a work of
supreme art. If mademoiselle would permit!"

He slipped a crumpled note into her fingers, so quietly and
unostentatiously that it was there and in her pocket before any one had
time to notice it. She went out murmuring to herself.

"He is a prince, this monsieur--a veritable prince!"

"For your dinner," Henri announced, as they seated themselves in their
places, "I have no word to tell you. I spare you, as you see, the
barbarity of a menu. What will come to you, monsieur and madame, is at
least of our best. I can promise that. And the wine is such as I myself
have selected, knowing well the taste of monsieur."

"And of madame also, I trust?" Herr Freudenberg remarked.

"Ah! monsieur," Henri continued, "when monsieur is not in Paris, madame
is invisible. Not once since I last had this pleasure of waiting upon
you, have I had the joy of seeing her."

Herr Freudenberg looked across the table at his companion with
twinkling eyes.

"This is a city of conspirators," he declared. "You make a man vain and
happy and joyous at the same time. Let your dinner be served, then,
Henri. Since I was in Paris last I have eaten many times, but I have
not dined."

The _maitre d'hotel_ departed, but for the next hour or so his eyes
were seldom far away from the table where sat his most esteemed client.
Once or twice, others of the diners sent for him.

"Henri," one asked, and then another, "tell us, who is it that dines
like a prince under the canopy of pink roses?"

Henri smiled.

"Monsieur," he replied, "it is Herr Carl Freudenberg of Leipzig."

"Herr Carl Freudenberg of Leipzig--but who is he?"

"He is a great manufacturer of toys, monsieur."

"A German!" one muttered.

"It is they who are spoiling Paris," another grumbled.

"They have at least the money!"

One woman alone shook her head.

"It is not money only," she murmured, "which buys these things here
from Henri."...

The companion of Herr Carl Freudenberg was, without doubt, as charming
as she appeared, for Herr Freudenberg certainly enjoyed his dinner as a
man should. Nor were those lines of humor engraven about his mouth for
nothing, to judge by the frequent peals of laughter from mademoiselle.
Towards the close of dinner, Henri himself carried to them a superb
violet ice, with real flowers around the dish and an electric light
burning in the middle.

"For two days, madame," he announced, "our chef has dreamed of this. It
is a creation."

"It is exquisite!" mademoiselle cried, with a gesture of delight.
"Never in my life have I seen anything so wonderful."

"Henri," Herr Freudenberg said in an aside, "you will present my
compliments to the chef. You will shake him by the hand from me. You
will double the little affair which passes between us. Tell him that it
comes from one who appreciates the work of a great artist, even though
his French thickens a little in his throat."

Henri bowed low.

"If monsieur's body is German," he declared, "his soul at least belongs
to the land of romance."

They were alone again and the girl leaned across the table.

"Monsieur," she murmured, "it is cruel of you to come so seldom. You
see what you do? You spoil the keepers of our restaurants, you steal
away the hearts of your poor little companions, and then--one night or
two, perhaps, and it is over. Monsieur Freudenberg has gone. The earth
swallows him."

"Back to my toys, mademoiselle," he whispered. "One has one's work."

She looked at him long and tenderly.

"Monsieur," she said, "it is two months, a week and three days since
you were in Paris. Since then I have sung and danced, night by night,
but my heart has never been gay. Come oftener, monsieur, or may one not
sometimes cross the frontier and learn a little of your barbarous

For the first time the faintest shadow of gravity crossed his face.

"Mademoiselle," he replied, "alas! The world is full of hard places.
Behold me! When I am here, I am your devoted and admiring slave, but
believe me that when I leave Paris and set my face eastwards, I do not
exist. Dear Marguerite, it hurts me to repeat this--I do not exist."

She looked down into her plate.

"I understand," she murmured. "You said it to me once before. Have I
not always been discreet? Have I ever with the slightest word disobeyed

"Nor will you ever, dear Marguerite," he declared confidently, "for if
you did it would be the end. In the city where I make my toys, life as
we live it here is not known. It is not recognized. And there is one's
work in the world."

She looked up from her plate. Her expression had changed.

"It was foolish of me," she whispered. "To-night is one of those nights
in Heaven for which I spend all my days longing. I think no more of the
future. You are here. Tell me, from here--where?"

"To the Opera. I have engaged the box that you prefer. We arrive for
the last act of 'Samson et Dalila' and for the ballet."

"And afterwards?"

"To the Abbaye. After that, there is the Rat Mort--Albert must not be
disappointed--and a new place, they tell me. One must see all these new

"And we leave here soon?"

"You are impatient!"

"Only to be alone with you," she answered. "Even those few moments in
the automobile are precious."

He smiled at her across the table. She was very pretty with her fair
hair and dark eyes, very Parisian, and yet with a shade of graceful
seriousness about her eyes and mouth.

"Dear Marguerite," he said, "I wait only for one of my agents who comes
to speak to me on a matter of business. He is due almost at this
moment. After he has been here, then we go. Cannot you believe," he
whispered, dropping his voice a little and leaning slightly across the
table, "that I, too, will love to feel your dear fingers in mine, your
lips, perhaps, for a moment, as we pass to the Opera?"

"It is a joy one must snatch," she murmured.

"There is no joy in life," he replied, "which is not the sweeter for
being snatched, and snatched quickly."

"And you a German!" she sighed.

Henri appeared once more, and after him Estermen. Herr Freudenberg,
with a word of excuse to his companion, turned to greet the newcomer.


Estermen stood quite close to the table. He was distinctly ill at ease.

"Herr Freudenberg," he said, "I have done my best. It was impossible
for me to obtain an introduction to this customer."

"Impossible?" Herr Freudenberg repeated, his face suddenly becoming

"Let me explain," Estermen continued hastily. "This customer arrived in
Paris last night or early this morning. He was called upon at once by a
lady who lives in the Avenue de St. Paul. She has told him a little
story about me--I am sure of it. He has refused to make my

"And you were content?"

Estermen spread out his pudgy hands.

"What can one do?" he muttered. "The man is quick-tempered. He dined
tonight in the country at the Maison Leon d'Or with madame. It was
there that I sought an introduction with him. It was impossible for me
to force myself."

"You know where to find him, I suppose?"

"I know the hotel at which he is staying."

"Make it your business to find him," Herr Freudenberg ordered. "Bring
him with you, if before one o'clock to the Abbaye Theleme; if
afterwards, to the Rat Mort."

Estermen looked stolidly puzzled.

"Am I to mention the subject of the toys of Herr Freudenberg's

Herr Freudenberg tore a corner from the programme which lay on the
table between them, and wrote a single word upon it.

"Study that at your leisure, my friend," he said. "Pay attention to the
task I impose upon you. Nothing is more important in my visit to Paris
than that I should make the acquaintance of this person. Much depends
upon it. I rely upon you, Estermen."

Estermen thrust the morsel of paper into his waist-coat pocket. Then he
leaned a little closer to this man who seemed to be his master.

"Herr Freudenberg," he began, "I spoke of a lady in the Avenue de St.
Paul, the companion to-night of the person whose acquaintance you are
anxious to make."

"What of her?" Herr Freudenberg asked calmly. "There are many ladies,
without a doubt, who live in the Avenue de St. Paul."

"The name of this one," Estermen continued slowly, "is Madame

Herr Freudenberg sat quite still in his place. His eyes seemed fixed
upon a cluster of the roses which hung down from the other side of the
sweet-smelling barrier by which they were surrounded. Yet something had
gone out of his face, something fresh had arrived. The half
contemptuous curl of the lips was finished. His mouth now was straight
and hard, his eyes set, the deep lines upon his forehead and around his
mouth were suddenly insistent. He sat so motionless that his face for a
moment seemed as though it were fashioned in wax. Then his lips moved,
he spoke in a whisper which was almost inaudible.


From across the table his companion watched him. At first she was
puzzled. When she heard the woman's name which came so softly from his
lips, she turned pale. Herr Freudenberg recovered from his fit of
abstraction almost as quickly as he had lapsed into it.

"I thank you, Estermen," he declared. "It is a coincidence, this. I am
obliged for your forethought in mentioning it. Until later, then."

The man made a somewhat clumsy bow, glanced admiringly at Herr
Freudenberg's companion, and departed. Herr Freudenberg was shaking his
head slowly.

"I fear," he said softly to himself, "sometimes I fear that I am not so
well served as might be in Paris. However, we shall see. For the moment
let us banish these dull cares. If you are ready, Marguerite, I think I
might suggest that the nearer way to the Opera is by the Champs

She rose to her feet and gave him her hand for a moment as she passed.

"If one could only find as easily the way to your heart, dear maker of
toys!" she murmured.



Julien had been back in the hotel about half an hour and in his room
barely ten minutes when he was disturbed by a knock at the door.
Immediately afterwards, to his amazement, Estermen entered.

"What the devil are you doing up here?" Julien asked angrily. "How dare
you follow me about!"

"Sir Julien," his visitor answered, "I beg that you will not make a
commotion. It was perfectly easy for me to gain admission here. It will
be perfectly easy for me, if it becomes necessary, to leave without
trouble. I ask you to be reasonable. I am here. Listen to what I have
to say. You are prejudiced against me. It is not fair. You have spoken
with a woman who is my enemy. Give me leave, at least, to address a few
words to you. You will not be the loser."

Julien was angry, but underneath it all he was also curious.

"Well, go on, then."

"You are reasonable," said Estermen, laying his hat and stick upon the
bed. "Listen. Your story is known at Berlin as well as in Paris. There
is only one opinion concerning it and that is that you have been
shamefully treated."

"I am not asking for sympathy, sir," Julien answered coldly.

"Nor am I offering it," the other returned. "I am stating facts. There
are many who do not hesitate to say that you have been made the victim
of a political plot, conceived among the members of your own party;
that you are suffering at the present moment from your masterly efforts
on behalf of peace."

"Pray go on," Julien invited. "I consider all this grossly impertinent,
but I am willing to listen to what you have to say."

"The greatest man in Germany," Estermen continued, "when he heard of
your misfortune, declared at once that the peace of Europe was no
longer assured. I am here to-night, Sir Julien, without credentials, it
is true, but I am the spokesman of a very great person indeed. He is
anxious to know your plans."

"I have no plans."

"Your political future, then--"

"I have no political future," Julien interrupted. "That is finished for

"But the thing is absurd!" protested Estermen. "There is no other man
but you capable of dealing tactfully and diplomatically with my
country. Your blundering predecessors brought us twice within an ace of
war. If the man takes your place to whom rumor has already given it, I
give Europe six weeks' peace--no more. We are a sensitive nation, as
you know. You learned how to humor us. No one before you tried. You
kept your alliance with France, but you were not afraid to show us the
open hand. There are those in Berlin, Sir Julien, who consider you the
greatest statesman England ever possessed."

"I listen," Julien said. "Pray proceed."

"It cannot be," Estermen went on, "that you mean to accept the

"I have no alternative," Julien answered.

"It is not, then, a question of money?" Estermen ventured slowly. "The
Press tell us that you are poor."

"Money, in this case, would scarcely help," Julien remarked.

"There is no man in the world who can afford to despise the power of
money," Estermen said quietly.

"Are you here to offer me any?"

"I am not. Have you anything to give in exchange for it?"

Julien laughed a little shortly.

"I imagined," he declared, "that with your first remarks you had
climbed to the dizziest heights of impertinence. I perceive that I was
mistaken. I am a discarded minister,"--dryly. "I may be supposed to
have in my possession secrets for which your country would pay. Is it
not to those facts that I am indebted for the honor of this visit?"

"Not in the least," answered Estermen. "Our own Secret Service keeps us
supplied with such information as we desire. My object in seeking you
is this. The Prince von Falkenberg is in Paris for a few hours only. He
wants to meet you. I have been ordered to arrange this meeting, if

Julien did not attempt to conceal his interest.

"Why on earth didn't you say so at once?" he exclaimed. "What does he
want of me?"

Estermen shrugged his shoulders.

"Who knows? Who knows what Falkenberg ever wants? He is here, there and
everywhere--today in Paris, tomorrow in Berlin, next week in Moscow.
Yet it is he, as you know well, who shapes the whole destinies of my
country. It is he alone in whom the Emperor has blind and absolute
confidence. If he holds up his hand, it is war. If he holds it down, it
is peace."

"What does he do in Paris?" Julien inquired.

Estermen shook his head.

"He arrived this morning and disappeared. Tonight he sent me orders
that I was to search for you."

"Where is he now?" Julien asked.

"At eight o'clock tonight," Estermen said, "he declared himself to be
Herr Carl Freudenberg, dealer in German toys. He dressed, dined at the
Ambassadeurs with Mademoiselle Ixe from the Opera, sent for me, learned
that I was at the Maison Leon d'Or, telephoned there, and all for this
one thing--that I should bring you to him without a moment's delay."

"But where is he now?" Julien asked again.

Estermen glanced at the clock and at a piece of paper which he took
from his pocket.

"It is one o'clock within a few minutes," he remarked. "Herr
Freudenberg is either at the Abbaye Theleme or the Rat Mort."

Julien scarcely hesitated.

"When you first came in," he admitted, "I felt like throwing you out.
How you got here I don't know. I suppose it is no use complaining to
the hotel people. But there is no man on the face of this earth in whom
I am more interested than Falkenberg. I shall change my clothes, and in
a quarter of an hour I am at your service. Wait for me downstairs."

Estermen drew a little sigh of relief. "I shall await you, Sir
Julien," he declared.

All Paris seemed to be seeking distraction as they drove in the
automobile along the Boulevard des Italiens. Julien sat with folded
arms in the corner of the automobile. He had no fancy for his
companion. He was anxious so far as possible to avoid speech with him.
Estermen, on the contrary, seemed only too desirous of removing the
impression of dislike of which he was acutely conscious. He talked the
whole of the time of the cafes and the women, of everything he thought
might be interesting to his companion. Julien listened in grim silence.
Only once he interrupted.

"What brings Herr Freudenberg to Paris?" he inquired once more.

Estermen was suddenly reticent.

"He has affairs here," he said. "He is also like us others--a man who
loves his pleasure. You will find him tonight with a most charming
companion--Mademoiselle Ixe of the Opera. Before the coming of Herr
Freudenberg, I remember her well--the companion at times of many.
To-day she is changed, _triste_ when he is not here, faithful in a most
un-Parisianlike manner."

They swung round to the left.

"Herr Freudenberg," Estermen continued, "is a great lover of the night
life of Paris. He goes from one cafe to the other. He is untired,
sleepless. He seems to find inspiration where others find fatigue."

Julien raised his eyebrows, but he said nothing. These were not his
impressions of the man whom they were seeking!

They drew up presently at the doors of the Abbaye Theleme. There were
crowds of people trying to gain admission. Estermen elbowed his way

"Herr Freudenberg?" he asked of the man who stood at the door.

The man's forbidding face changed like magic.

"Herr Freudenberg left but ten minutes ago for the Rat Mort. Those who
inquired for him were to follow."

Estermen nodded and touched Julien on the arm.

"We will walk," he said. "It is at the corner there."

They presented themselves at the doors of a smaller and dingier cafe.
Estermen elbowed the way up the narrow stairs. They emerged in a small
room, brilliantly lit and filled with people. The usual little band was
playing gay music. A corpulent _maitre d'hotel_ bowed as they appeared.

"Herr Freudenberg," Estermen began.

The waiter's bow by this time was a different affair.

"Monsieur will follow me," he invited.

At the corner table at the far end of the room--the most desired of
any--sat Herr Freudenberg with Mademoiselle Ixe by his side. They met
the flower girl coming away with empty arms. The table of Herr
Freudenberg was smothered with roses. There was a shade more color in
the cheeks of Mademoiselle Ixe, in her eyes a light as soft as any
which the eyes of a woman who loved could know. Herr Freudenberg,
unruffled, had still the air of a man who finds life pleasant. As the
two men came up the room, he rose and held out both his hands.

"Ah!" he exclaimed, "it is indeed my friend of Berlin! Welcome, dear
Sir Julien! We meet on neutral ground, is it not so? We meet now in the
city of pleasures. Let us sit for a little time and talk, and forget
that you and I once wrote a chapter together in the history--of
toymaking. But first," he added, turning to Mademoiselle Ixe,
"mademoiselle permits me to introduce a very dear and cherished
acquaintance to an equally dear and cherished friend. This gentleman,
dear Marguerite, and I make toys in different countries, and there was
a time when it was necessary for us to consult together. So he came to
Berlin and I have never forgotten his visit. For the present, join us,
dear Julien. You permit that I call you by your first name? It is after
midnight, and after midnight in Paris one permits everything. Now we
drink together, we three, for Estermen must leave us, I know. We drink
together to the making of toys, the building of toy palaces, and the
love of one another. Come, Monsieur Albert, see that your _sommelier_
opens that bottle that you have chosen for us so carefully," he
continued, turning to the manager who was hovering close at hand. "This
is a meeting and we need the best wine that ever came from the
vineyards of France. A dear friend, Albert. Bow low to him, indeed, for
he is worthy of it. Afterwards we will perhaps eat something. Send your
waiter. But above all, monsieur, see to it that mademoiselle with the
fair curls dances once more. My friend, I think, would like to see her.
And we must have music. Let the band never cease playing. Ah! it is
here, dear Albert, that one learns to forget how strenuous life really
is. It is here that one may unbend. The wine!"

While Herr Freudenberg talked the _sommelier_ had gravely served the
champagne in some tall and wonderful glasses brought from a private
cabinet by Monsieur Albert himself to honor his most treasured
visitors. Herr Freudenberg raised his glass, clinked it against the
glass of mademoiselle, clinked it against Julien's glass.

"Come," he cried, "to our better acquaintance, to our better
understanding! Mademoiselle," he added, lowering his tone, "to the
eternal continuance of those things which lie between you and me!"

Estermen had departed and Julien breathed the freer for it.
Mademoiselle Ixe chattered to him for a few moments, and Herr
Freudenberg whispered in the ears of Albert, who withdrew at once.

"One must eat," Herr Freudenberg declared. "Albert has some peaches,
wonderful peaches from the gardens where the sun always shines. Peaches
and macaroons--afterwards coffee. Ah! my friend, you remember those
somber banquets when we all hated one another because we all fancied
that the other wanted what we had a right to? Ugh! When I think of
Berlin in those days, when no one smiled, when one's sense of humor was
there only to be kept down with an iron hand, why, it gives one to
weep! Mademoiselle, I have a prayer to make."

"It is granted," she assured him softly.

"Presently the orchestra shall play the music of Faust. You will sing
to us? Tonight is one of my nights, never really perfect unless some
minutes of it move to the music of your voice."

She laughed softly.

"Yes, monsieur, I will sing," she answered, "but not the Jewel Song
tonight. Send the _chef d'orchestre_ to me."

At the merest signal he was there with his violin under his arm.
Mademoiselle whispered a word in his ear and he departed, all smiles.
The selection which they were playing suddenly ceased. _Monsieur le
chef_ alone played some Italian air, which no one wholly recognized but
every one found familiar. Slowly he walked around the tables, playing
still, always with his eyes upon Mademoiselle Ixe, and when at last he
stood before her, she threw her head back and sang.

The clatter of crockery diminished, the waiters paused in their tasks
or crept on tiptoe about the place. Men and women stood up at their
tables that they might see the singer better; conversation ceased. And
all the time the _chef d'orchestre_ drew music from his violin, and
mademoiselle, with half-closed eyes, her head thrown back, filled the
whole room with melody. Even she herself knew that she was singing as
she never sang at the Opera, as she had never sung when a great
impressario had come to try her voice, as one sings only when the heart
is shaking a little, and as she finished, the fingers of her left hand
slowly crept across the table into the hand of Herr Freudenberg, the
toymaker, and her last notes were sung almost in a whisper into his
ears. The room rose up to applaud. The _chef d'orchestre_ went back to
his place, bowing right and left. Herr Freudenberg raised the fingers
that lay between his hand to his lips.

"Ah, mademoiselle," he murmured, "I have no longer words!"

Albert came back. Scarcely more than a look passed between him and Herr
Freudenberg. Then the latter rose to his feet.

"Come," he said, "a little surprise for you. You, too, dear Julien. I
insist. This way."

They passed from the room. As mademoiselle rose to her feet, people
began once more to applaud.

"Mademoiselle will sing again presently, perhaps," Herr Freudenberg
answered a man who leaned forward. "We do not depart."

He led the way to the head of the staircase and they passed into the
back regions of the place--dim, ill-lit, mysterious. Albert, who had
preceded them, threw open the door of a room. There was a small supper
table laid for three, more flowers, more wine.

"It is that one may talk for five minutes," Herr Freudenberg explained.

But mademoiselle had already flitted away. The door somehow was closed,
the two men were alone.

Book of the day: