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The Price of Things by Elinor Glyn

Part 2 out of 5

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"What does he talk to his friends about, I wonder?" she asked herself,
watching him from across a room, in a great house after dinner one night.

John was seated beside the American Lady Avonwier, a brilliant person who
did not allow herself to be bored. He appeared calm as usual, and there
they sat until it was time to go on to a ball.

Everything he said was so sensible, so well informed--perhaps that was a
nice change for people--and then he was very good-looking and--but oh!
what was it--what was it which made it all so disappointing and tame!

A week after they had come up to Brook Street, the Boleskis arrived at
the Mount Lennard House which they had taken in Grosvenor Square, armed
with every kind of introduction, and Harietta immediately began to dazzle
the world.

Her dresses and jewels defied all rivalry; they were in a class alone,
and she was frank and stupid and gracious--and fitted in exactly with
the spirit of the time.

She restrained her movements in dancing to suit the less advanced English
taste; she gave to every charity and organized entertainments of a
fantastic extravagance which whetted the appetite of society, grown jaded
with all the old ways. The men of all ages flocked round her, and she
played with them all--ambassadors, politicians, guardsmen, all drawn by
her own potent charm, and she disarmed criticism by her stupidity and
good nature, and the lavish amusements she provided for every one--while
the chef they had brought over with them from Paris would have insured
any hostess's success!

Harietta had never been so happy in all the thirty-six years of her life.
This was her hour of triumph. She was here in a country which spoke her
own language--for her French was deplorably bad--she had an unquestioned
position, and all would have been without flaw but for this tiresome
information she was forced to collect.

Verisschenzko had been detained in Paris. The events of the twenty-eighth
of June at Serajevo were of deep moment to him, and it was not until the
second week in July that he arrived at the Ritz, full of profound

Amaryllis had been to Harietta's dinners and dances, and now the Boleskis
had been asked down to Ardayre in return for the three days at the end of
the month, when the coming of age of the young Marquis of Bridgeborough
would give occasion for great rejoicings, and Amaryllis herself would
give a ball.

"You cannot ask people down to North Somerset in these days just for the
pleasure of seeing you, my dear child," Lady de la Paule had said to her
nephew's wife. "Each season it gets worse; one is flattered if one's
friends answer an invitation to dinner even, or remain for half an hour
when it is done. I do not know what things are coming to, etiquette of
all sorts went long ago--now manners, and even decency have gone. We are
rapidly becoming savages, openly seizing whatever good thing is offered
to us no matter from whom, and then throwing it aside the instant we
catch sight of something new. But one must always go with the tide unless
one is strong enough to stem it, and frankly _I_ am not. Now
Bridgeborough's coming of age will make a nice excuse for you to have a
party at Ardayre. How many people can you put up? Thirty guests and their
servants at least, and seven or eight more if you use the agent's house."

So thus it had been arranged, and John expressed his pleasure that his
sweet Amaryllis should show what a hostess she could be.

None but the most interesting people were invited, and the party promised
to be the greatest success.

Two or three days before they were to go down, Amaryllis coming in late
in the afternoon, found Verisschenzko's card.

"Oh! John!" she cried delightedly, "that very thrilling Russian whom we
met in Paris has called. You remember he wrote to me some time ago and
said he would let us know when he arrived. Oh! would not it be nice to
have him at our party--let us telephone to him now!"

Verisschenzko answered the call himself, he had just come in; he
expressed himself as enchanted at the thought of seeing her--and
yes--with pleasure he would come down to Ardayre for the ball.

"We shall meet to-night, perhaps, at Carlton House Terrace at the German
Embassy," he said, "and then we can settle everything."

Amaryllis wondered why she felt rather excited as she walked up the
stairs--she had often thought of Verisschenzko, and hoped he would come
to England. He was vivid and living and would help her to balance
herself. She had thought while she dressed that her life had been one
stupid rush with no end, since that night when they had talked of
serious things at the Montivacchini hôtel. She had need of the counsel
he had promised to give her, for this heedless racket was not adding
lustre to her soul.

Verisschenzko seemed to find her very soon--he was not one of those
persons who miss things by vagueness. His yellow-green eyes were blazing
when they met hers, and without any words he offered her his arm, foreign
fashion, and drew her out on to the broad terrace to a secluded seat he
had apparently selected beforehand, as there was no hesitancy in his
advance towards this goal.

He looked at her critically for an instant when they were seated in the
soft gloom.

"You are changed, Madame. Half the soul is awake now, but the other half
has gone further to sleep."

"--Yes, I felt you would say that--I do not like myself," and she sighed.

"Tell me about it."

"I seem to be drifting down such a useless stream--and it is all so mad
and aimless, and yet it is fun. But every one is tired and restless and
nobody cares for anything real--I am afraid I am not strong enough to
stand aside from it though, and I wonder sometimes what I shall become."

Verisschenzko looked at her earnestly--he was silent for some seconds.

"Fate may alter the atmosphere. There are things hovering, I fear, of
which you do not dream, little protected English bride. Perhaps it is
good that you live while you can."

"What things?"

"Sorrows for the world. But tell me, have you seen Harietta Boleski in
her London rôle?"

"Yes--she is the greatest success--every one goes to her parties; she is
coming to mine at Ardayre."

Verisschenzko raised his eyebrows, and nothing could have been more
sardonically whimsical than his smile.

"I saw Stanislass this morning--he is almost _gaga_ now--a mere
cypher--she has destroyed his body, as well as his soul."

"They are both coming on the twenty-third."

"It will be an interesting visit I do not doubt--and I shall see the
Family house!"

"I hope you will like it--I shall love to show it to you, and the
pictures. It means so much to John."

"Have you met your cousin Denzil yet?".

Verisschenzko was studying her face; it had gained something, it was
a little finer--but it had lost something too, and there was a shadow
in her eyes.

"Denzil Ardayre? No--What made you mention him now?"

"I shall be curious as to what you think of him, he is so like--your
husband, you know."

The subject did not interest Amaryllis; she wanted to hear more of the
Russian's unusual views.

"You know London well, do you not?" she asked.

"Yes--I often came up from Oxford when I was there, and I have revisited
it since. It is a sane place generally, but this year it would seem to be
almost as _déséquilibré_ as the rest of the world."

"You give me an uneasy feeling, as though you knew that something
dreadful was going to happen. What is it? Tell me."

"One can only speculate how soon a cauldron will boil over, one cannot
be certain in what direction the liquid will fly. The whole world seems
feverish; the spirit of progress has awakened after hundreds of years of
sleep, and is disturbing everything. In all boilings the scum rises to
the top; we are at the period when this has occurred--we can but
wait--and watch."

"If we had a new religion?"

"It will come presently, the reign of mystical make-believe is past."

"But surely it is mysticism and idealism which make ordinary
things divine!"

"Certainly when they are emplanted upon a true basis. I said
'make-believe'--that is what kills all good things--make-believe. Most
of the present-day leaders are throwing dust in their followers' eyes--or
their own. Priests and politicians, lawyers and financiers--all of them
are afraid of the truth. Every one lives in a stupid atmosphere of
self-deception. The religion of the future will teach each individual to
be true to himself, and when that is accomplished the sixth root race
will be born. Look at that man over there talking to a woman with haggard
eyes--can you see them in the gloom? They have all the ugly entities
around them, the spirits of morphine and nicotine--drawing misfortune and
bodily decay. Every force has to have its congenial atmosphere, or it
cannot exist; fishes cannot breathe on land."

Amaryllis looked at the pair; they were well-known people, the man
celebrated in the literary and artistic section of the world of
fashion--the woman of high rank and of refined intelligence.

Verisschenzko looked also. "I do not know either of their names," he
said, "I am simply judging by the obvious deductions to be made by their
appearances to any one who has developed intuition."

"How I wish I could learn to have that!"

"Read Voltaire's 'Zadig.' Deductive methods are shown in it useful to
begin upon--observe everything about people, and then having seen
results, work back to causes, and then realise that all material things
are the physical expression of an etheric force, and as we can control
the material, we need thus only attract what etheric waves we desire."

Amaryllis looked again at the pair--both were smoking idly, and she
remembered having heard that they both "took drugs." It was a phrase
which had meant nothing to her until now.

"You mean that because they smoke all the time, and it is said they take
morphine _piqûres_, that they are not only hurting their bodies, but
drawing spiritual ills as well."

"Obviously. They have surrounded themselves with the drab demagnetising
current which envelops the body when human beings give up their wills. It
would be very difficult for anything good to pierce through such
ambience. Have you ever remarked the strange ends of all people who take
drugs? They seldom die natural, ordinary deaths. The evil entities which
they have drawn round them by their own weakness, destroy them at last."

"I do not like the idea that there are these 'entities,' as you call
them, all around us."

"There are not, they cannot come near us unless we allow them--have I not
told you that the atmosphere must be congenial? Our own wills can create
an armour through which nothing demagnetising can pass. It is weakness
and drifting which are inexorably punished; they draw currents suitable
for the vampires beyond to exist on."

"All this does sound so weird to me." Amaryllis was interested and
yet repelled.

"Have you ever thought about Marconigrams and their etheric waves?
No--not often. People just accept such things as facts as soon as they
become commercial commodities--and only a few begin to speculate upon
what such discoveries suggest, and the other possibilities which they
could lead to. Nothing is supernatural; it is only that we are so
ignorant. Some day I will take you to my laboratory in my home in
Russia and show you the result of my experiments with vibrations and
coloured lights."

"I should love that--but just now you troubled me--you seemed to include
smoking in the things which brought evil--I smoke sometimes."

"So do I--will you have a Russian cigarette?"

He took out his case and offered her one, which she accepted. "Will it
bring something bad?"

"Not more than a glass of wine," and he opened his lighter and bent
nearer to her. "One glass of wine might be good for you, but twenty would
make you very drunk and me very quarrelsome!"

They laughed softly and lit their cigarettes.

"I feel when I am with you that I am enveloped in some strong essence,"
and Amaryllis lay back with a satisfied sigh--"as though I were uplifted
and awakened--it is very curious because you have such a wicked face, but
you make me feel that I want to be good."

His queer, husky voice took on a new note.

"We have met of course in a former life--then probably I tempted you to
break all vows--it was my fault. So in this life you are to tempt me--it
may be--but my will has developed--I mean to resist. I want to place you
as my joy of the spirit this time--something which is pure and beautiful
apart from earthly things."

Into Amaryllis' mind there flashed the thought that if she saw him often,
her emotions for him might not keep at that high level! Her eyes perhaps
expressed this doubt, for Verisschenzko bent nearer.

"Another must fulfil that which must be denied to me. You are too young
to remain free from emotion. Hold yourself until the right time comes."

Amaryllis wondered why he should speak as though it were an understood
thing that she could feel no emotion for John. She resented this.

"I have my husband," she answered with dignity and a sweetly
conventional air.

Verisschenzko laughed.

"You are delicious when you say things like that--loyal, and English, and
proud. But listen, child--it is waste of time to have any dissimulation
with me, we finished all those things when we were lovers in our other
life. Now we must be frank and learn of each other. Shall it not be so?"

Amaryllis felt a number of things.

"Yes, you are right, we will always speak the truth."

"You see," he went on, "if you represent anything you must never injure
it; you must destroy yourself if necessary in its service. You
represent an ideal, the ideal of the perfect wife of the Ardayres. You
must fulfil this rôle. I represent a leader of certain thought in my
country. My soul is given to this--I must only indulge in through
which nothing demagnetising can pass. It is weakness and drifting which
are inexorably punished; they draw currents suitable for the vampires
beyond to exist on."

"All this does sound so weird to me." Amaryllis was interested and
yet repelled.

"Have you ever thought about Marconigrams and their etheric waves?
No--not often. People just accept such things as facts as soon as they
become commercial commodities--and only a few begin to speculate upon
what such discoveries suggest, and the other possibilities which they
could lead to. Nothing is supernatural; it is only that we are so
ignorant. Some day I will take you to my laboratory in my home in
Russia and show you the result of my experiments with vibrations and
coloured lights."

"I should love that--but just now you troubled me--you seemed to include
smoking in the things which brought evil--I smoke sometimes."

"So do I--will you have a Russian cigarette?"

He took out his case and offered her one, which she accepted. "Will it
bring something bad?"

"Not more than a glass of wine," and he opened his lighter and bent
nearer to her. "One glass of wine might be good for you, but twenty would
make you very drunk and me very quarrelsome!"

They laughed softly and lit their cigarettes.

"I feel when I am with you that I am enveloped in some strong essence,"
and Amaryllis lay back with a satisfied sigh--"as though I were uplifted
and awakened--it is very curious because you have such a wicked face, but
you make me feel that I want to be good."

His queer, husky voice took on a new note.

"We have met of course in a former life--then probably I tempted you to
break all vows--it was my fault. So in this life you are to tempt me--it
may be--but my will has developed--I mean to resist. I want to place you
as my joy of the spirit this time--something which is pure and beautiful
apart from earthly things."

Into Amaryllis' mind there flashed the thought that if she saw him often,
her emotions for him might not keep at that high level! Her eyes perhaps
expressed this doubt, for Verisschenzko bent nearer.

"Another must fulfil that which must be denied to me. You are too young
to remain free from emotion. Hold yourself until the right time comes."

Amaryllis wondered why he should speak as though it were an understood
thing that she could feel no emotion for John. She resented this.

"I have my husband," she answered with dignity and a sweetly
conventional air.

Verisschenzko laughed.

"You are delicious when you say things like that--loyal, and English, and
proud. But listen, child--it is waste of time to have any dissimulation
with me, we finished all those things when we were lovers in our other
life. Now we must be frank and learn of each other. Shall it not be so?"

Amaryllis felt a number of things.

"Yes, you are right, we will always speak the truth."

"You see," he went on, "if you represent anything you must never injure
it; you must destroy yourself if necessary in its service. You represent
an ideal, the ideal of the perfect wife of the Ardayres. You must fulfil
this rôle. I represent a leader of certain thought in my country. My soul
is given to this--I must only indulge in that over which I am master.
Indulgences are our recompenses, our rights, when we have obtained
dominion and they have become our slaves; to be enjoyed only when, and
for so long as, our wills permit. When you say a thing is _'plus fort que
vous'_--then you had better throw up the sponge--you have lost the fight,
and your indulgence will scourge you with a scorpion whip."

"You say this, and yet you are so far from being an ascetic!"

"As far as possible, I hope! They are self-acknowledged failures; they
dare not permit themselves the smallest indulgence, they are weaklings
afraid to enter the arena at all. To me they are at a stage further back
than the sensualists--what are they accomplishing? They have withered
nature, they are things of nought! A man or woman should realise what
plane he or she is living on, and try to live to the highest of the best
of the physical, mental and moral life on that plane, but not try to
alter all its workings, and live as though in a different sphere
altogether, where another scheme of nature obtained. It is colossal
presumption in human beings to give examples to be followed, which,
should they be followed, would end the human race. The Supreme Being will
end it in His own time; it is not for us to usurp authority."

"You reason in this in the same way that you did about the smoking."

"Naturally--that is the only form of sensible reasoning. You must keep
your judgment perfectly balanced and never let it be obscured by
prejudice, tradition, custom, or anything but the actual common-sense
view of the case."

"I think we English like that better than any other quality in
people--common sense."

Verisschenzko looked away from her to a new stream of guests who had come
out on the terrace--a splendid-looking group of tall young men and
exquisite women.

"With all your faults you are a great nation, because although these
latter years seem often to have destroyed the sense of duty in the
individual in regard to his own life, the ingrained sense of it had
become a habit and the habit still continues in regard to the
community--you are not likely to have upheavals of great magnitude here.
Now all other countries are moved by different spirits, some by
patriotism and gallantry like the French, some by superstition and
ignorance worked on by mystic religion, as in my country--some by
ruthless materialism like Germany; but that dull, solid sense of duty is
purely English--and it is really a glorious thing."

Amaryllis thought how John represented it exactly!

"I feel that I want to do my duty," she said softly, "but..."

"Continue to feel that and Fate will show you the way. Now I must take
you back to your husband whom I see in the distance there--he is with
Harietta Boleski. I wonder what he thinks of her?"

"I have asked him! He says that she is so obvious as to be innocuous, and
that he likes her clothes!"

Verisschenzko did not answer, and Amaryllis wondered if he agreed
with John!

They had to pass along a corridor to reach the staircase, upon the
landing of which they had seen Sir John and Madame Boleski leaning over
the balustrade, and when they got there they had moved on out of sight,
so Verisschenzko, bowing, left Amaryllis with Lady de la Paule.

As he retraced his steps later on he saw Sir John Ardayre in earnest
conversation with Lemon Bridges, the fashionable rising surgeon of the
day. They stood in an alcove, and Verisschenzko's alert intelligence was
struck by the expression on John Ardayre's face--it was so sad and
resigned, as a brave man's who has received death sentence. And as he
passed close to them he heard these words from John: "It is quite
hopeless then--I feared so--"

He stopped his descent for a moment and looked again--and then a
sudden illumination came into his yellow-green eyes, and he went on
down the stairs.

"There is tragedy here--and how will it affect the Lady of my soul?"

He walked out of the House and into Pall Mall, and there by the Rag met
Denzil Ardayre!

"We seem doomed to have unexpected meetings!" cried that young man
delightedly. "Here I am only up for one night on regimental business, and
I run into you!"

They walked on together, and Denzil went into the Ritz with
Verisschenzko and they smoked in his sitting-room. They talked of many
things for a long time--of the unrest in Europe and the clouds in the
Southeast--of Denzil's political aims--of things in general--and at last
Verisschenzko said:

"I have just left your cousin and his wife at the German Embassy; they
have now gone on to a ball. He makes an indulgent husband--I suppose the
affair is going well?"

"Very well between them, I believe. That sickening cad Ferdinand is
circulating rumours--that they can never have any children--but they are
for his own ends. I must arrange to meet them when I come up next time--I
hear that the family are enchanted with Amaryllis--"

"She is a thing of flesh and blood and flame--I could love her wildly did
I think it were wise."

Denzil glanced sharply at his friend. He had not often known him to
hesitate when attracted by a woman--

"What aspect does the unwisdom take?"

"Certain absorption--I have other and terribly important things to do.
The husband is most worthy--one wonders what the next few years will
bring. Their temperaments must be as the poles.

"No one seems to think of temperament when he marries, or heredity, or
anything, but just desire for the woman--or her money--or something
quite outside the actual fact." Denzil lit another cigarette. "Marriage
appears a perfect terror to me--how could one know one was going to
continue to feel emotion towards some one who might prove to be the most
awful physical or mental disappointment on intimate acquaintance? I
believe _affaires de convenance_ selected with thought-out reasoning are
the best."

Verisschenzko shrugged his shoulders.

"That is not necessary. If the brain is disciplined, it is in a condition
to use its judgment, even when in love, and ought therefore to be able to
resist the desire to mate if the woman's character or tendencies are
unsuitable, but most men's brains are only disciplined in regard to
mental things, and have no real control over their physical desires. I
have been this morning with Stanislass Boleski--there is a case and a
warning. Stanislass was a strong man with a splendid brain and immense
ambition, but no dominion over his senses, so that Succubus has
completely annihilated all force in him. He should have strangled her
after the first _etreinte_ as I should have done, had I felt that she
could ever have any power over me!"

Denzil smiled--Stépan was such a mixture of tenderness and
complete savagery.

"I always thought the Russian character was the most headstrong and
undisciplined in the world, and took what it desired regardless of costs.
But you belie it, old boy!"

"I early said to myself on looking at my countrymen--and especially my
countrywomen--these people are half genius, half fool; they have all
the qualities and ruin most of them through being slaves, not masters
to their own desires. If with his qualities a Russian could be balanced
and deductive, and rule his vagrant thoughts, to what height could he
not attain!"

"And you have attained."

"I am on the road, but did not affairs of vital importance occupy me at
the moment I might be capable of ancient excess!"

"It is as well for the head of the Ardayre family that you are occupied
then!" and Denzil smiled, and then he said, his thoughts drifting back to
what interested him most:

"You think Europe will be blazing soon, Stépan? I have wondered myself in
the last month if this hectic peace could continue."

"It cannot. I am here upon business with great issues, but I must not
speak of facts, and what I say now is not from my knowledge of current
events, but from my study of etheric currents which the thoughts and
actions of over-civilised generations have engendered. You do not cram a
shell with high explosives and leave it among matches with impunity."

The two men looked at one another significantly, and then Denzil said:

"I think I will not retire from the old regiment yet--I shall wait
another year."

"Yes--I would if I were you."

They smoked silently for a moment--Verisschenzko's Calmuck face fixed and
inscrutable and Denzil's debonnaire English one usually grave.

"Some one told me that your friend, Madame Boleski, was having a
tremendous success in London. I wish I could have got leave, I should
like to have seen the whole thing."

"Harietta is enjoying her luck-moment; she is in her zenith. She has
baffled me as to where she receives her information from--she is capable
of betraying both sides to gain some material, and possibly trivial, end.
She is worth studying if you do come up, for she is unique. Most
criminals have some stable point in immorality; Harietta is troubled by
nothing fixed, no law of God or man means anything to her, she is only
ruled by her sense of self-preservation. Her career is picturesque."

"Had she ever any children?"

Verisschenzko crossed himself.

"Heaven forbid! Think of watching Harietta's instincts coming out in a
child! Poor Stanislass is at least saved that!"

"What a terrible thought that would be to one! But no man thinks of such
things in selecting a wife!"

"You will not marry yet--no?"

"Certainly not, there is no necessity that I should. Marriage is only an
obligation for the heads of families, not for the younger branches."

"But if Sir John Ardayre has no son, you are--in blood--the next
direct heir."

"And Ferdinand is the next direct heir-in-law--that makes one sick--"

Verisschenzko poured his friend out a whisky and soda and said smiling:

"Then let us drink once more to the Ardayre son!"


Lady de la Paule really felt proud of her niece; the party at Ardayre was
progressing so perfectly. The guests had all arrived in time for the ball
at Bridgeborough Castle on the twenty-third of July and had assisted next
day at the garden party, and then a large dinner at Ardayre, and now on
the last night of their stay Amaryllis' own ball was to take place.

All the other big country houses round were filled also, and nothing
could have been gayer or more splendidly done than the whole thing.

John Ardayre had been quite enthusiastic about all the arrangements,
taking the greatest pride in settling everything which could add lustre
to his Amaryllis' success as a hostess.

The quantities of servants, the perfectly turned-out motors--the
wonderful chef--all had been his doing, and when most of the party had
retired to their rooms for a little rest before dinner on the
twenty-fifth, the evening of the ball, Lady de la Paule and John's
friend, Lady Avonwier, congratulated him, as he sat with them, the last
ladies remaining, under the great copper beech tree on the lawn which led
down to the lake.

"Everything has been perfect, has it not, Mabella?" Lady Avonwier said.
"I have even been converted about your marvellous Madame Boleski! I
confess I have avoided her all the season, because we Americans are far
more exclusive than you English people in regard to whom we know of our
own countrywomen, and no one would receive such a person in New York, but
she is so luridly stupid, and such a decoration, that I quite agree you
were right to invite her, John."

"She seems to me charming," Lady de la Paule confessed. "Not the least
pretension, and her clothes are marvellous. You are abominably severe,
Etta. I am quite sure if she wanted to she could succeed in New York."

"Mabella, you simple creature! She just cajoles you all the time--she has
specialised in cajoling important great ladies! No American would be
taken in by her, and we resent it in our country when an outsider like
that barges in. But here, I admit, since she provides us with amusement,
I have no objection to accepting her, as I would a new nigger band, and
shall certainly send her a card for my fancy ball next week."

John Ardayre chuckled softly.

"That sound indicates?"--and Etta Avonwier flashed at him her lovely
clever eyes.

John Ardayre did not answer in words, but both women joined in his smile.

"Yes, we are worldlings," Lady Avonwier admitted, "just measuring people
up for what they can give us, it is the only way though when the whole
thing is such a rush!"

"I am so sorry for the poor husband," and Lady de la Paule's fat voice
was kindly. "He does look such a wretched, cadaverous thing, with that
black beard and those melancholy black eyes, and emaciated face. Do you
think she beats him when they are alone?"

"Who knows? She is so primitive, she may be capable even of that!"

"Her clothes are not primitive," and John Ardayre lighted a cigarette.
"I don't think she really can be such a fool."

"I never suggested that she was a fool at all!" Lady Avonwier was
decisive. "No one can be a fool who is as tenacious as she is--fools
are vague people, who let things go. She is merely illiterate and
stupid as an owl."

"I like your distinction between stupidity and foolishness!" John Ardayre
often argued with Lady Avonwier; they were excellent friends.

"A stupid person is often a great rest and arrives--a fool makes one
nervous and loses the game. But who is that walking with Amaryllis at the
other side of the lake?"

John Ardayre looked up, and on over the water to the glory of the beech
trees on the rising slope of the park, and there saw moving at the edge
of them his wife and Verisschenzko, accompanied by two of the great
tawny dogs.

"Oh! it is the interesting Russian whom we met in Paris, where all the
charming ladies were supposed to be in love with him. He was to have come
down for the whole three days. I suppose these Russian and Austrian
rumours detained him, he has only arrived for to-night."

* * * * *

And across the lake Amaryllis was saying to Verisschenzko in her soft
voice, deep as all the Ardayre voices were deep:

"I have brought you here so that you may get the best view of the
house. I think, indeed, that it is very beautiful from over the water,
do not you?"

Verisschenzko remained silent for a moment. His face was altered in this
last week; it looked haggard and thinner, and his peculiar eyes were
concentrated and intense.

He took in the perfect picture of this English stately home, with its
Henry VII centre and watch towers, and gabled main buildings, and the
Queen Anne added Square--all mellowed and amalgamated into a whole of
exquisite beauty and dignity in the glow of the setting sun.

"How proud you should be of such possessions, you English. The
accumulation of centuries, conserved by freedom from strife. It is no
wonder you are so arrogant! You could not be if you had only memories, as
we have, of wooden barracks up to a hundred and fifty years ago, and
drunkenness and orgies, and beating of serfs. This is the picture our
country houses call up--any of the older ones which have escaped being
burnt. But here you have traditions of harmony and justice and
obligations to the people nobody fulfilled." And then he took his hat off
and looked up into the golden sky:

"May nothing happen to hurt England, and may we one day be as free."

A shiver ran through Amaryllis--but something kept her silent; she
divined that her friend's mood did not desire speech from her yet. He
spoke again and earnestly a moment or two afterwards.

"Lady of my soul--I am going away to-morrow into a frenzied turmoil. I
have news from my country, and I must be in the centre of events; we do
not know what will come of it all. I come down to-day at great sacrifice
of time to bid you farewell. It may be that I shall never see you again,
though I think that I shall; but should I not, promise me that you will
remain my star unsmirched by the paltriness of the world, promise me that
you will live up to the ideal of this noble home--that you will develop
your brain and your intuition, that you will be forceful and filled with
common sense. I would like to have moulded your spiritual being, and
brought you to the highest, but it is not for me, perhaps, in this
life--another will come. See that you live worthily."

Amaryllis was deeply moved.

"Indeed, I will try. I have seen so little of you, but I feel that I have
known you always, and--yes--even I feel that it is true what you said,"
and she grew rosy with a sweet confusion--"that we were--lovers--I am so
ignorant and undeveloped, not advanced like you, but when you speak you
seem to awaken memories; it is as though a transitory light gleamed in
dark places, and I receive flashes of understanding, and then it grows
obscured again, but I will try to seize and hold it--indeed, I will try
to do as you would wish."

They both looked ahead, straight at the splendid house, and then
Amaryllis looked at Verisschenzko and it seemed as though his face were
transfigured with some inward light.

"Strange things are coming, child, the cauldron has boiled over, and we
do not know what the stream may engulf. Think of this evening in the days
which will be, and remember my words."

His voice vibrated, but he did not look at her, but always across the
lake at the house.

"Whenever you are in doubt as to the wisdom of a decision between two
courses--put them to the test of which, if you follow it, will enable you
to respect your own soul. Never do that which the inward You despises."

"And if both courses look equally good and it is merely a question of
earthly benefit?"

Verisschenzko smiled.

"Never be vague. There is an Arab proverb which says: Trust in God but
tie up your camel."

The setting sun was throwing its last gleams upon the windows of the high
tower. Nothing more beautiful or impressive could have been imagined than
the scene. The velvet lawn sloping down to the lake, with a group of
trees to the right among which nestled the tiny cruciform ancient church,
while in the distance, on all sides, stretched the vast, gloriously
timbered park.

Verisschenzko gazed at the wonder of it, and his yellow-green eyes were
wide with the vision it created in his brain.

No--this should never go to the bastard Ferdinand, whose life in
Constantinople was a disgrace. This record of fine living and achievement
of worthy Ardayres should remain the glory of the true blood.

He turned and looked at Amaryllis at his side, so slender, and strong,
and young--and he said:

"It is necessary above all things that you cultivate a steadiness and
clearness of judgment, which will enable you to see the great aim in a
thing, and not be hampered by sentimental jingo and convention, which is
a danger when a nature is as good and true, but as undeveloped, as yours.
Whatever circumstance should arise in your life, in relation to the trust
you hold for this family and this home, bring the keenest common sense to
bear upon the matter, and keep the end, that you must uphold it and pass
it on resplendent, in view."

Amaryllis felt that he was transmitting some message to her. His eyes
were full of inspiration and seemed to see beyond.

What message? She refrained from asking. If he had meant her to
understand more fully he would have told her plainly. Light would come in
its own time.

"I promise," was all she said.

They looked at the great tower; the sun had left some of the windows and
in one they could see the figure of a woman standing there in some light

"That is Harietta Boleski," Verisschenzko remarked, his mood changing,
and that penetrating and yet inscrutable expression growing in his
regard. "It is almost too far away to be certain, but I am sure that it
is she. Am I right? Is that window in her room?"

"Yes--how wonderful of you to be able to recognise her at that distance!"

"Of what is she thinking?--if one can call her planning thoughts! She
does not gaze at views to appreciate the loveliness of the landscape;
figures in the scene are all which could hold her attention--and those
figures are you and me."

"Why should we interest her?"

"There are one or two reasons why we should. I think after all you must
be very careful of her. I believe if she stays on in England you had
better not let the acquaintance increase."

"Very well." Amaryllis again did not question him; she felt he knew best.

"She has been most successful here, and at the Bridgeborough ball she
amused herself with a German officer, and left the other women's men
alone. He was brought by the party from Broomgrove and was most
_empressé;_ he got introduced to her at once--just after we came in. I
expect they will bring him to-night. He and she looked such a magnificent
pair, dancing a quadrille. It was quite a serious ball to begin with!
None of those dances of which you disapprove, and all the Yeomanry wore
their uniforms and the German officer wore his too."

"He was a fine animal, then?"


"You said _a pair_--only an animal could make a pair with Harietta!
Describe him to me. What was he like? And what uniform did he wear?"

Amaryllis gave a description, of height, and fairness, and of the blue
and gold coat.

"He would have been really good-looking, only that to our eyes his hips
are too wide."

"It sounds typically German--there are hundreds such there--some ordinary
Prussian Infantry regiment, I expect. You say he was introduced to
Harietta? They were not old friends--no?"

"I heard him ask Mrs. Nordenheimer, his hostess, who she was, in his
guttural voice, and Mrs. Nordenheimer came up to me and presented him and
asked me to introduce him to my guest. So I did. The Nordenheimers are
those very rich German Jews who bought Broomgrove Park some years ago.
Every one receives them now."

"And how did Harietta welcome this partner?"

"She looked a little bored, but afterwards they danced several times

"Ah!"--and that was all Verisschenzko said, but his thoughts ran: "An
infantry officer--not a large enough capture for Harietta to waste time
on in a public place--when she is here to advance herself. She danced
with him because _she was obliged to_. I must ascertain who this man is."

Amaryllis saw that he was preoccupied. They walked on now and round
through the shrubbery on the left, and so at last to the house again.
Amaryllis could not chance being late.

Verisschenzko recovered from his abstraction presently and talked of
many things--of the friendship of the soul, and how it can only thrive
after there has been in some life a physical passionate love and fusion
of the bodies.

"I want to think that we have reached this stage, Lady mine. My mission
on this plane now is so fierce a one, and the work which I must do is so
absorbing, that I must renounce all but transient physical pleasures. But
I must keep some radiant star as my lodestone for spiritual delights, and
ever since we met and spoke at the Russian Embassy it seems as though
step by step links of memory are awakening and comforting me with
knowledge of satisfied desire in a former birth, so that now our souls
can rise to rarer things. I can even see another in the earthly relation
which once was mine, without jealousy. Child, do you feel this too?"

"I do not know quite what I feel," and Amaryllis looked down, "but I will
try to show you that I am learning to master my emotions, by thinking
only of sympathy between our spirits."

"It is well--"

Then they reached the house and entered the green drawing-room in the
Queen Anne Square, by one of the wide open windows, and there Amaryllis
held out her two slim hands to Verisschenzko.

"Think of me sometimes, even amidst your turmoil," she whispered, "and I
shall feel your ambience uplifting my spirit and my will."

"Lady of my Soul!" he cried, exalted once more, and he bent as though to
kiss her hands, but straightened himself and threw them gently from him.

"No! I will resist all temptations! Now you must dress and dine, and
dance, and do your duty--and later we will say farewell."

Harietta Boleski stamped across her charming chintz chamber in the great
tower. She was like an angry wolf in the Zoo, she burst with rage.
Verisschenzko had never walked by lakes with her, nor bent over with that
air of devotion.

"He loves that hateful bit of bread and butter! But I shall crush her
yet--and Ferdinand Ardayre will help me!"

Then she rang her bell violently for Marie, while she kicked aside
Fou-Chow, who had travelled to England as an adjunct to her beauty,
concealed in a cloak. His minute body quivered with pain and fear, and he
looked up at her reproachfully with his round Chinese idol's eyes, then
he hid under a chair, where Marie found him trembling presently and
carried him surreptitiously to her room.

"My angel," she told him as they went along the passage, "that she-devil
will kill thee one day, unless happily I can place thee in safety first.
But if she does, then I will murder for myself! What has caused her fury
tonight, some one has spoilt her game."

In the oak-panelled smoking room, deserted by all but these two,
Verisschenzko spoke to Stanislass, hastily, and in his own tongue.

"The news is of vital importance, Stanislass. You must return with me to
London; of all things you must show energy now and hold your men
together. I leave in the morning. You hesitate!--impossible!--Harietta
keeps you! Bah!--then I wash my hands of you and Poland. Weakling! to
let a woman rule you. Well; if you choose thus, you can go by yourself
to hell. I have done with you." And he strode from the room, looking
more Calmuck and savage than ever in his just wrath. And when he had
gone the second husband of Harietta leant forward and buried his head in
his hands.

* * * * *

The picture Gallery made a brilliant setting for that gallant company! A
collection of England's best, dancing their hardest to a stirring band,
which sang when the tune of some popular Révue chorus came in.

"The Song of the Swan," Verisschenzko thought as he observed it all in
the last few minutes before midnight. He must go away soon. A messenger
had arrived in hot haste from London, motoring beyond the speed limit,
and as soon as his servant had packed his things he must return and not
wait for the morning. All relations between Austria and Servia had been
broken off, the conflagration had begun, and no time must be wasted
further. He must be in Russia as soon as it was possible to get there. He
blamed himself for coming down.

"And yet it was as well," he reflected, because he had become awakened in
regard to possible double dealing in Harietta. But where were his host
and hostess--he must bid them farewell.

John Ardayre was valsing with Lady Avonwier and Harietta Boleski
undulated in the arms of the tall German who had come with the party from
Broomgrove--but Amaryllis for the moment was absent from the room.

"If I could only know who the beast is before I go, and where she has met
him previously!" Verisschenzko's thoughts ran. "It is more than ever
necessary that I master her--and there is so little time."

He waited for a few seconds, the dance was almost done, and when the
last notes of music ceased and the throng of people swept towards him, he
fixed Harietta with his eye.

Her evening so far had not been agreeable. She had not been able to have
a word with Stépan, who had been far from her at the banquet before the
ball. She was torn with jealousy of Amaryllis; and the advent of Hans,
when she would have wished to have been free to re-grab Verisschenzko,
was most unfortunate. It had not been altogether pleasant, his turning up
at Bridgeborough, but at any rate that one evening was quite enough! She
really could not be wearied with him more!

His new instructions to her from the higher command were most annoyingly
difficult too--coming at a time when her whole mind was given to
consolidating her position in England,--it was really too bad!

If only the tiresome bothers of these stupid old quarrelsome countries
did not upset matters, she just meant to make Stanislass shut up his ugly
old Polish home, and settle in some splendid country house like this,
only nearer London. Now that she had seen what life was in England, she
knew that this was her goal. No bothersome old other language to be
learned! Besides, no men were so good-looking as the English, or made
such safe and prudent lovers, because they did not boast. If any
information she had been able to collect for Hans in the last year had
helped his Ober-Lords to stir up trouble, she was almost sorry she had
given it--unless indeed, ructions between those ridiculous southern
countries made it so that she could remain in England, then it was a good
thing. And Hans had assured her that England could not be dragged in.
Then she laughed to herself as she always did if Hans coerced her--when
she recollected how she had given his secrets away to Verisschenzko and
that no matter how he seemed to compel her obedience, she was even with
him underneath!

She looked now at the Russian standing there, so tall and ugly, and
weirdly distinguished, and a wild passionate desire for him overcame her,
as primitive as one a savage might have felt. At that moment she almost
hated her late husband, for she dared not speak to Verisschenzko with
Hans there. She must wait until Verisschenzko spoke to her. Hans could
not prevent that, nor accuse her of disobeying his command. So that it
was with joy that she saw the Russian approach her. She did not know that
he was leaving suddenly, and she was wondering if some meeting could not
be arranged for later on, when Hans would be gone.

"Good evening, Madame!" Verisschenzko said suavely. "May I not have the
pleasure of a turn with you; it is delightful to meet you again."

Harietta slipped her hand out of Hans' arm and stood still, determined to
secure Stépan at once since the chance had come.

Verisschenzko divined her intention and continued, his voice serious with
its mock respect:

"I wonder if I could persuade you to come with me and find your husband.
You know the house and I do not. I have something I want to talk to him
about if you won't think me a great bore taking you from your partner,"
and he bowed politely to Hans.

Harietta introduced them casually, and then said archly:

"I am sure you will excuse me, Captain von Pickelheim. And don't forget
you have the first one-step after supper!" So Hans was dismissed with a
ravishing smile.

Verisschenzko had watched the German covertly and saw that with all his
forced stolidity an angry gleam had come into his eyes.

"They have certainly met before--and he knows me--I must somehow make
time," then, aloud:

"You are looking a dream of beauty to-night, Harietta," he told her as
they walked across the hall. "Is there not some quiet corner in the
garden where we can be alone for a few minutes. You drive me mad."

Harietta loved to hear this, and in triumph she raised her head and drew
him into one of the sitting-rooms, and so out of the open windows on into
the darkness beyond the limitations of the lawn.

Twenty minutes afterwards Verisschenzko entered the house alone, a grim
smile of satisfaction upon his rugged countenance. Jealousy, acting on
animal passion, had been for once as productive of information as a ruby
ring or brooch--and what a remarkable type Harietta! Could there be
anything more elemental on the earth! Meanwhile this lady had gained the
ball-room by another door, delighted with her adventure, and the thought
that she had tricked Hans!

"Have you seen our hostess, Madame?" the Russian asked, meeting Lady de
la Paule. "I have been looking for her everywhere. Is not this a
charming sight?"

They stayed and talked for a few minutes, watching the joyous company of
dancers, among whom Amaryllis could now be seen. Verisschenzko wished to
say farewell to her when the one-step should be done. They would all be
going into supper, and then would be his chance. He could not delay
longer--he must be gone.

He was paying little attention to what Lady de la Paule was saying--her
fat voice prattled on:

"I hope these tiresome little quarrels of the Balkan peoples will settle
themselves. If Austria should go to war with Servia, it may upset my
Carlsbad cure."

Then he laughed out suddenly, but instantly checked himself.

"That would be too unfortunate, Madame, we must not anticipate such
preposterous happenings!"

And as he walked forward to meet Amaryllis his face was set:

"Half the civilised world thinks thus of things. The sinister events in
the Balkans convey no suggestions of danger, and only matter in that
they could upset a Carlsbad cure! Alas! how sound asleep these splendid
people are!"

He met Amaryllis and briefly told her that he must go. She left her
partner and came with him to the foot of the staircase, which led
to his room.

"Good-bye, and God keep you," she said feelingly, but she noticed that he
did not even offer to take her hand.

"All blessings, my Star," and his voice was hoarse, then he turned
abruptly and went on up the stairs. But when he reached the landing above
he paused, and looked down at her, moving away among the throng.

"Sweet Lady of my Soul," he whispered softly. "After Harietta I could not
soil--even thy glove!"


Events moved rapidly. Of what use to write of those restless, feverish
days before the 4th of August, 1914? They are too well known to all the
world. John, as ever, did his duty, and at once put his name down for
active service, cajoled a medical board which would otherwise probably
have condemned him and trained with the North Somerset Yeomanry in
anticipation of being soon sent to France. But before all this happened,
the night War was declared; he remained in his own sitting-room at
Ardayre, and Amaryllis wondered, and towards dawn crept out of bed and
listened in the passage, but no sound came from within the room.

How very unsatisfactory this strange reserve between them was becoming!
Would she never be able to surmount it? Must they go on to the end of
their lives, living like two polite friendly acquaintances, neither
sharing the other's thoughts? She hardly realised that the War could
personally concern John. The Yeomanry, she imagined, were only for home
defence, so at this stage no anxiety troubled her about her husband.

The next day he seemed frightfully preoccupied, and then he talked to her
seriously of their home and its traditions, and how she must love it and
understand its meaning. He spoke too of his great wish for a child--and
Amaryllis wondered at the tone almost of anguish in his voice.

"If only we had a son, Amaryllis, I would not care what came to me. A
true Ardayre to carry on! The thought of Ferdinand here after me drives
me perfectly mad!"

Amaryllis knew not what to answer. She looked down and clasped her hands.

John came quite close and gazed into her face, as if therein some comfort
could be found; then he folded her in his arms.

"Oh! Amaryllis!" he said, and that was all.

"What is it? Oh! what does everything mean?" the poor child cried. "Why,
why can't we have a son like other people of our age?"

John kissed her again.

"It shall be--it must be so," he answered--and framed her face in
his hands.

"Amaryllis--I know you have often wondered whether I really loved you.
You have found me a stupid, unsatisfactory sort of husband--indeed, I am
but a dull companion at the best of times. Well, I want you to know that
I do--and I am going to try to change, dear little girl. If I knew that I
held some corner of your heart it would comfort me."

"Of course, you do, John. Alas! if you would only unbend and be loving to
me, how happy we could be."

He kissed her once more. "I will try."

That afternoon he went up to London to his medical board, and Amaryllis
was to join him in Brook Street on the following day.

She was stunned like every one else. War seemed a nightmare--an
unreality--she had not grasped its meaning as yet. She thought of
Verisschenzko and his words. What was her duty? Surely at a great crisis
like this she must have some duty to do?

The library in Brook Street was a comfortable room and was always their
general sitting-room; its windows looked out on the street.

That evening when John Ardayre arrived he paced up and down it for
half an hour. He was very pale and lines of thought were stamped
upon his brow.

He had come to a decision; there only remained the details of a course of
action to be arranged.

He went to the telephone and called up the Cavalry Club. Yes, Captain
Ardayre was in, and presently Denzil's voice said surprisedly:


"I heard by chance that you were in town. I suppose your regiment will be
going out at once. It is your cousin, John Ardayre, speaking, we have not
met since you were a boy. I have something rather vital I want to say to
you. Could you possibly come round?"

The two voices were so alike in tone it was quite remarkable, each was
aware of it as he listened to the other.

"Where are you, and what is the time?".

"I am in our house in Brook Street, number 102, and it is nearly seven.
Could you manage to come now?"

There was a second or two's pause, then Denzil said:

"All right. I will get into a taxi and be with you in about five
minutes," and he put the receiver down.

John Ardayre grew paler still, and sank into a chair. His hands were
trembling, this sign of weakness angered him and he got up and rang
the bell and ordered his valet who had come up with him, to bring him
some brandy.

Murcheson was an old and valued servant, and he looked at his master with
concern, but he knew him too to make any remark. If there was any one in
the world beyond the great surgeon, Lemon Bridges, who could understand
the preoccupations of John Ardayre, Murcheson was the man.

He brought the old Cognac immediately and retired from the room a
moment or two before Denzil arrived. Very little trace of emotion
remained upon the face of the head of the family when his cousin was
shown in, and he came forward cordially to meet him. Standing opposite
one another, they might have been brothers, not cousins, the
resemblance was so strong! Denzil was perhaps fairer, but their heads
were both small and their limbs had the same long lines. But where as
John Ardayre suggested undemonstrative stolidity, every atom of the
younger man was vitally alive.

His eyes were bluer, his hair more bronze, and exuberant perfect health
glowed in his tanned fresh skin.

Both their voices were peculiarly deep, with the pronunciation of the
words especially refined. John Ardayre said some civil things with
composure, and Denzil replied in kind, explaining how he had been
most anxious to meet John and Amaryllis and heal the breach the
fathers had made.

John offered him a cigar, and finally the atmosphere seemed to be
unfrozen as they smoked. But in Denzil's mind there was speculation. It
was not for just this that he had been asked to come round.

John began to speak presently with a note of deep seriousness in his
voice. He talked of the war and of his Yeomanry's going out, and of
Denzil's regiment also. It was quite on the cards that they might both be
killed--then he spoke of Ferdinand, and the old story of the shame, and
he told Denzil of his boyhood and its great trials, and of his
determination to redeem the family home and of the great luck which had
befallen him in the city after the South African War--and how that the
thought of worthily handing on the inheritance in the direct male line
had become the dominating desire of his life.

At first his manner had been very restrained, but gradually the intense
feeling which was vibrating in him made itself known, and Denzil grew
to realise how profound was his love for Ardayre and how great his
family pride.

But underneath all this some absolute agony must be wringing his soul.

Denzil became increasingly interested.

At last John seemed to have come to a very difficult part of his
narration; he got up from his chair and walked rapidly up and down the
room, then forced himself to sit down again and resume his original calm.

"I am going to trust you, Denzil, with something which matters far more
than my life." John looked Denzil straight in the eyes. "And I will
confide in you because you are next in the direct line. Listen very
carefully, please, it concerns your honour in the family as well as mine.
It would be too infamous to let Ardayre go to the bastard, Ferdinand, the
snake-charmer's son, if, as is quite possible, I shall be killed in the
coming time."

Denzil felt some strange excitement permeating him. What did these words
portend? Beads of perspiration appeared on John's forehead, and his voice
sunk so low that his cousin bent forward to be certain of hearing him.

Then John spoke in broken sentences, for the first time in his life
letting another share the thoughts which tortured him, but the time was
not for reticence. Denzil must understand everything so that he would
consent to a certain plan. At length, all that was in John's heart had
been made plain, and exhausted with the effort of his innermost being's
unburdenment, he sank back in his chair, deadly pale. The quiet, waiting
attitude in Denzil had given way to keenness, and more than once as he
listened to the moving narration he had emitted words of sympathy and
concern, but when the actual plan which John had evolved was unfolded to
him, and the part he was to play explained, he rose from his chair and
stood leaning on the high mantelpiece, an expression of excitement and
illumination on his strong, good-looking face.

"Do not say anything for a little," John said. "Think over everything
quietly. I am not asking you to do anything dishonourable--and however
much I had hated his mother I would not ask this of you if Ferdinand were
my father's son. You are the next real heir--Ferdinand could not be; my
father had never met the woman until a month before he married her, and
the baby arrived five months afterwards, at its full time. There was no
question of incubators or difficulties and special precautions to rear
him, nor was there any suggestion that he was a seven months' child. It
was only after years that I found out when my father first saw the woman,
but even before this proof there were many and convincing evidences that
Ferdinand was no Ardayre."

"One has only to look at the beast!" cried Denzil. "If the mother was a
Bulgarian, he's a mongrel Turk, there is not a trace of English blood in
his body!"

"Then surely you agree with me that it would be an infamy if he should
take the place of the head of the family, should I not survive?"

Denzil clenched his hands.

"There is no moral question attached, remember," John went on anxiously
before he could reply. "There is only the question of the law, which has
been tricked and defamed by my father, for the meanest ends of revenge
towards me--and now we--you and I--have the right to save the family and
its honour and circumvent the perfidy and weakness of that one man.
Oh!--can't you understand what this means to me, since for this trust of
Ardayre that I feel I must faithfully carry on, I am willing to--Oh!--my
God, I can't say it. Denzil, answer me--tell me that you look at it in
the same way as I do! You are of the family. It is your blood which
Ferdinand would depose--the disgrace would be yours then, since if
Ferdinand reigned I would have gone."

The two men were standing opposite one another, and both their faces were
pale and stern, but Denzil's blue eyes were blazing with some wonderful
new emotion, as they looked at John.

"Very well," he said, and held out his hand. "I appreciate the tremendous
faith you have placed in me, and on my word of honour as an Ardayre, I
will not abuse it, nor take advantage of it afterwards. My regiment will
go out at once, I suppose, the chances are as likely that I shall be
killed as you--"

They shook hands silently.

"We must lose no time."

Then John poured out two glasses of brandy, and the toast they drank was
unspoken. But suddenly Denzil remembered as a strange coincidence that he
was drinking it for the third time.

* * * * *

Amaryllis arrived from Ardayre the next afternoon, after John's medical
board had been squared into pronouncing him fit for active service--and
he met his wife at the station and was particularly solicitous of her
well-being. He seemed to be unusually glad to see her, and put his arm
round her in the motor driving to Brook Street. What would she like to
do? They could not, of course, go to the theatre, but if she would rather
they could go out to a restaurant to dine--there were going to be all
kinds of difficulties about food. Amaryllis, who responded immediately to
the smallest advance on his part, glowed now with fond sweetness. She had
been so miserable without him; so crushed and upset by the thought of
war, and his possible participation in it. All the long night, alone at
Ardayre, she had tried to realise what it all would mean. It was too
stupendous, she could not grasp it as yet, it was just a blank horror.
And now to be in the motor and close to him, and everything ordinary and
as usual seemed to drive the hideous fact further and further away. She
would not face it for to-night, she would try to be happy and banish the
remembrance. No one knew what was happening, nor if the Expeditionary
Force had or had not crossed to France. John asked her again what she
would like to do.

She did not want to go out at all, she told him; if the kitchenmaid and
Murcheson could find them something to eat she would much rather dine
alone with him, like a regular old Darby and Joan pair--and afterwards
she would play nice things to him, and John agreed.

When she came down ready for dinner, she was radiant; she had put on a
new and ravishing tea-gown and her grey eyes were shining with a winsome
challenge, and her beautiful skin was brilliant with health and
freshness. A man could not have desired a more delectable creature to
call his own.

John thought so and at dinner expanded and told her so. He was not a
practised lover; women had played a very small part in his life--always
too filled with work and the one dominating idea to make room for them.
He had none of the tender graciousness ready at his command which
Denzil would very well have known how to show. But he loved Amaryllis,
and this was the first time he had permitted the expression of his
emotion to appear.

She became ever more fascinating, and at length unconscious passion grew
in her glance. John said some rather clumsy but loving things, and when
they went back to the library he slipped his arm round her, and drew her
to his side.

"I love to be near you, John," she whispered; "I like your being so tall
and so distinguished-looking. I like your clothes--they are so well
made--" and then she wrinkled her pretty nose--"and I adore the smell of
the stuff you put on your hair! Oh! I don't know--I just want to be in
your arms!"

John kissed her. "I must give you a bottle of that lotion--it is supposed
to do wonders for the hair. It was originally made by an old housekeeper
of my mother's family in the still room, and I have always kept the
receipt--there are cloves in it and some other aromatic herbs."

"Yes, that is what I smell, like a clove carnation--it is divine. I
wonder why scents have such an effect upon one--don't you? Perhaps I am a
very sensuous creature--they can make me feel wicked or good--some
scents make me deliciously intoxicated--that one of yours does--when I
get near you--I want you to hold me and kiss me--John."

Every fibre of John Ardayre's being quivered with pain. The cruel,
ironical bitterness of things.

"I've never smelt this same scent on any one else," she went on, rubbing
her soft cheek up and down against his shoulder in the most alluring way.
"I should know it anywhere for it means just my dear--John!"

He turned away on the pretence of getting a cigarette; he knew that his
eyes had filled with tears.

Then Murcheson came into the room with the coffee, and this made a
break--and he immediately asked her to play to him, and settled
himself in one of the big chairs. He was too much on the rack to
continue any more love-making then; "what might have been" caused too
poignant anguish.

He watched her delicate profile outlined against the curtain of green
silk. It was so pure and young--and her long throat was white as milk. If
this time next year she should have a child--a son--and he, not killed,
but sitting there perhaps watching her holding it. How would he feel
then? Would the certainty of having an Ardayre carry on heal the wild
rebellion in his soul?

"Ah, God!" he prayed, "take away all feeling--reward this sacrifice--let
the family go on."

"You don't think you will have really to go to the war, do you, John?"
Amaryllis asked after she left the piano. "It will be all over, won't it,
before the New Year, and in any case the Yeomanry are only for home
defence, aren't they?" and she took a low seat and rested her head
against his arm.

John stroked her hair.

"I am afraid it will not be over for a long time, Amaryllis. Yes, I
think we shall go out and pretty soon. You would not wish to stop
me, child?"

Amaryllis looked straight in front of her.

"What is this thing in us, John, which makes us feel that--yes, we
would give our nearest and dearest, even if they must be killed? When
the big thing comes even into the lives which have been perhaps all
frivolous like mine--it seems to make a great light. There is an
exaltation, and a pity, and a glory, and a grief, but no holding back.
Is that patriotism, John?"

"That is one name for it, darling."

"But it is really beyond that in this war, because we are not going to
fight for England, but for right. I think that feeling that we must give
is some oblation of the soul which has freed itself from the chains of
the body at last. For so many years we have all been asleep."

"This is a rude awakening."

They were silent for a little while, each busy with unusual thoughts.

There was a sense of nearness between them--of understanding, new and
dangerously sweet.

Amaryllis felt it deliciously, sensuously, and took joy in that she was
touching him.

John thrust it away.

"I must get through to-night," he thought, "but I cannot if this hideous
pain of knowledge of what I must renounce conquers me--I must be strong."

He went on stroking her hair; it made her thrill and she turned and bit
one of his fingers playfully with a wicked little laugh.

"I wish I knew what I am feeling, John," she whispered, and her eyes were
aflame, "I wish I knew--"

"I must teach you!" and with sudden fierceness he bent down and
kissed her lips.

Then he told her to go to bed.

"You must be tired, Amaryllis, after your journey. Go like a good child."

She pouted. She was all vibrating with some totally new and overmastering
emotion. She wanted to stay and be made love to. She wanted--she knew not
what, only everything in her was thrilling with passionate warmth.

"Must I? It is only ten."

"I have a frightful lot of business things to write tonight, Amaryllis.
Go now and sleep, and I will come and wake you about twelve!" He looked
lover-like. She sighed.

"Ah! if you would only come now!"

He kissed her almost roughly again and led her to the door. And he stood
watching her with burning eyes as she went up the stairs.

Then he came back and rang the bell.

"I shall be very late, Murcheson--do not sit up, I will turn out the
lights. Good-night."

"Very good, Sir John."

And the valet left the room.

But John Ardayre did not write any business letters; he sank back into
his great leather chair--his lips were trembling, and presently sobs
shook him, and he leaned forward and buried his face in his hands.

Just before twelve had struck, he went out into the hall, and turned off
the light at the main. The whole house would now be in absolute darkness
but for an electric torch he carried. He listened--there was not a sound.

Then he crept quietly up to his dressing room and returned with a bottle
of the clove-scented hair lotion.

"What a mercy she spoke of it," his thoughts ran. "How sensitive women
are--I should never have remembered such a thing."

Yes--now there was a sound.

* * * * *

Midnight had struck--and Amaryllis, sleeping peacefully, had been
dreaming of John.

"Oh! dearest," she whispered drowsily, as but half awakened, she felt
herself being drawn into a pair of strong arms--"Oh!--you know I love
that scent of cloves--Oh!--I love you, John!"


When Amaryllis awoke in the morning her head rested on John's breast, and
his arm encircled her. She raised herself on her elbow and looked at him.
He was still asleep--and his face was infinitely sad. She bent over and
kissed him with shy tenderness, but he did not move, he only sighed
heavily as he lay there.

Why should he look so sad, when they were so happy?

She thought of loving things he had said to her at dinner--and then the
afterwards!--and she thrilled with emotion. Life seemed a glorious thing
and--But John was sad, of course, because he must go away. The
recollection of this fact came upon her suddenly like a blast of cold
air. They must part. War hung there with its hideous shadow, and John
must be conscious of it even in his dreams, that was why he sighed.

The irony of things--now--when--Oh! how cruel that he must go.

Then John awoke with a shudder, and saw her there leaning over him with a
new soft love light in her eyes, and he realised that the anguish of his
calvary had only just begun.

She was perfectly exquisite at breakfast, a fresh and tender graciousness
radiated in her every glance; she was subtle and captivating, teasing him
that he had been so silent in the night. "Why wouldn't you talk to me,
John? But it was all divine, I did not mind." Then she became full of
winsome ways and caresses, which she had hitherto been too timid to
express; and every fond word she spoke stabbed John's heart.

Could she not come and stay somewhere near so as to be with him while he
was in training? It was unbearable to remain alone.

But he told her that this would be impossible and that she must go back
to Ardayre.

"I will get leave, if there is a chance, dear little girl."

"Oh! John, you must indeed."

After he had gone out to the War Office, she sang as she undid a bundle
of late roses he had sent her from Soloman's, on his way.

She must herself put them in water; no servant should have this pleasing
task. Was it the thought of the imminence of separation which had altered
John into so dear a lover? She went over his words there in the library.
She relived the joy of his sudden fierce kiss, when he had said that he
must teach her as to what her emotions meant.

Ah! how good to learn, how all glorious was life and love!

"Sweetheart," the word rang in her ears. He had never called her that
before! Indeed, John rarely ever used any term of endearment, and never
got beyond "Dear" or "Darling" before. But now it was an exquisite
remembrance! Just the murmured word "Sweetheart!" whispered softly again
and again in the night.

John came back to lunch, but two of the de la Paule family dropped in
also, and the talk was all of war, and the difficulty of getting money at
the banks, and how food would go on, and what the whole thing would mean.

But over Amaryllis some spell had fallen--nothing seemed a reality, she
could not attend to ordinary things, she felt that she but moved and
spoke as one still in a dream.

The world, and life, and death, and love, were all a blended mystery
which was but beginning to unravel for her and drew her nearer to John.

The days went on apace.

John in camp thanked God for the strenuous work of his training that it
kept him so occupied that he had barely time to think of Amaryllis or the
tragedy of things. When he had left her on the following afternoon, the
seventh of August, she had returned to Ardayre alone and began the
knitting and shirt-making and amateurish hospital committees which all
well-meaning English women vaguely grasped at before the stern
necessities brought them organised work to do. Amaryllis wrote constantly
to John--all through August--and many of the letters contained loving
allusions which made him wince with pain.

Then the awful news came of Mons, then the Marne--and the Aisne--awful
and glorious, and a hush and mourning fell over the land, and Amaryllis,
like every one else, lost interest in all personal things for a time.

A young cousin had been killed and many of her season's partners and
friends, and now she knew that the North Somerset Yeomanry would shortly
go out and fight as they had volunteered at once. She was very
miserable. But when September grew, in spite of all this general sorrow,
a new horizon presented itself, lit up as if by approaching dawn, for a
hope had gradually developed--a hope which would mean the rejoicing of
John's heart.

And the day when first this possibility of future fulfilment was
pronounced a certainty was one of almost exalted beatitude, and when
Doctor Geddis drove away down the Northern Avenue, Amaryllis seized a
coat from the folded pile of John's in the hall, and walked out into the
park hatless, the wind blowing the curly tendrils of her soft brown hair,
a radiance not of earth in her eyes. The late September sun was sinking
and gilding the windows of the noble house, and she turned and looked
back at it when she was far across the lake.

And the whole of her spirit rose in thankfulness to God, while her soul
sang a glad magnificat.

She, too, might hand on this great and splendid inheritance! She, too,
would be the mother of Ardayres!

And now to write to John!

That was a fresh pleasure! What would he say? What would he feel? Dear
John! His letters had been calm and matter of fact, but that was his way.
She did not mind it now. He loved her, and what did words matter with
this glorious knowledge in her heart?

To have a baby! Her very own--and John's!

How wonderful! How utterly divine--!

Her little feet hardly touched the moss beneath them, she wanted to
skip and sing.

Next May! Next May! A Spring flower--a little life to care for when
war, of course, would have ended and all the world again could be happy
and young!

And then she returned by the tiny ancient church. She had the key of it,
a golden one which John had given her on their first coming down. It hung
on her bracelet with her own private key.

The sun was pouring through the western window, carpeting the altar steps
in translucent cloth of gold.

Amaryllis stole up the short aisle, and paused when she came between the
two tall canopied tombs of recumbent sixteenth century knights, which
made so dignified a screen for the little side aisles--and then she moved
on and knelt in the shaft of the sunlight there at the carved rails.

And no one ever raised to God a purer or more fervent prayer.

She stayed until the sun sunk below the window, and then she rose and
went back to the house, and up to her cedar room. And now she must
write to John!

She began--once--twice--but tore up each sheet. Her news was a supreme
happiness, but so difficult to transmit!

At last she finished three sides of her own rather large sized
note-paper, but as she read over what she had written, she was not quite
content; it did not express all that she desired John to know.

But how could a mere letter convey the wordless gladness in her heart?

She wanted to tell him how she would worship their baby, and how she
would pray that they should be given a son--and how she would remember
all his love words spoken that last time they were together, and weave
the joy of them round the little form, so that it should grow strong and
beautiful and radiant, and come to earth welcomed and blessed!

Something of all this finally did get written, and she concluded thus:

"John, is it not all wonderful and blissful and mysterious, this coming
proof of our love? And when I lie awake I say over and over again the
sweet name you called me, and which I want to sign! I am not just
Amaryllis any longer, but your very own 'Sweetheart'!"

John received this letter by the afternoon post in camp. He sat down
alone in his tent and read and re-read each line. Then he stiffened and
remained icily still.

He could not have analysed his emotions. They were so intermixed with
thankfulness and pain--and underneath there was a fierce, primitive
jealousy burning.

"Sweetheart!" he said aloud, as though the word were anathema! "And must
I call her that 'Sweetheart'! Oh! God, it is too hard!" and he clenched
his hands.

By the same post came a letter from Denzil, of whose movements he had
asked to be kept informed, saying that the 110th Hussars were going out
at once, so that they would probably soon meet in France.

Then John wrote to Amaryllis. The very force of his feelings seemed to
freeze his power of expression, and when he had finished he knew that it
was but a cold, lifeless thing he had produced, quite inadequate as an
answer to her tender, exalted words.

"My poor little girl," he sighed as he read it. "I know this will
disappoint her. What a hideous, sickening mockery everything is."

He forced himself to add a postscript, a practice very foreign
to his usual methodical rule. "Never forget that I love you,
Amaryllis--Sweetheart!" he said.

And then he went to his Colonel and asked for two days' leave, and when
it was granted for the following Saturday and Monday he wired to his wife
asking her to meet him in Brook Street.

"I must see her--I cannot bear it," he cried to himself.

And late at night he wrote to Denzil--it was just that he should do this.

"My wife is going to have a baby--if only it should be a son, then it
will not so much matter if both of us are killed, at least the family
will be saved, and be able to carry oh."

He tried to make the letter cordial. Denzil had behaved with the most
perfect delicacy throughout, he must admit, and although they had met
once and exchanged several letters, not the faintest allusion to the
subject of their talk in the library at Brook Street had ever been
made by him.

Denzil had indeed acted and written as though such knowledge between
them did not exist. He--Denzil--in these last seven weeks had been
extremely occupied, and while his forces were concentrated upon the
exhilarating preparations for war, it would happen in rare moments
before sleep claimed him at night that he would let his thoughts conjure
a waking dream, infinitely, mystically sweet. And every pulse would
thrill with ecstasy, and then his will would banish it, and he would
think of other subjects.

He could not face the marvel of his emotions at this period, nor dwell
upon the romantically exciting aspect of some things.

He was up in London upon equipment business on the very Saturday that
John got leave, and he was due to dine at the Carlton with Verisschenzko
who had that day arrived on vital matters bent.

As they came into the hall, a man stopped to talk to the Russian, and
Denzil's eyes wandered over the unnumerous and depressed looking company
collected waiting for their parties to arrive. War had even in those
early Autumn days set its grim seal upon this festive spot. People looked
rather ashamed of being seen and no one smiled. He nodded to one or two
friends, and then his glance fell upon a beautiful, slim, brown-haired
girl, sitting quietly waiting in an armchair by the restaurant steps.

She wore a plain black frock, but in her belt one huge crimson clove
carnation was unostentatiously tucked.

"What a lovely creature!" his thoughts ran, and Verisschenzko
turning from his acquaintance that moment, he said to him as they
started to advance:

"Stépan, if you want to see something typically English and perfectly
exquisite, look at that girl in the armchair opposite where the band used
to be. I wonder who she is?"

"What luck!" cried Verisschenzko. "That is your cousin, Amaryllis
Ardayre--come along!"

And in a second Denzil found himself being introduced to her, and being
greeted by her with interested cordiality, as befitted their cousinly

But Verisschenzko, whose eyes missed nothing, remarked that under his
sunburn, Denzil had grown suddenly very pale. Amaryllis was enchanted to
see her friend, the Russian. John had gone to the telephone, it
appeared--and yes, they were dining alone--and, of course, she was sure
John would love to amalgamate parties, it was so nice of Verisschenzko to
think of it! There was John now.

The blood rushed back to Denzil's heart, and the colour to his face--he
had only murmured a few conventional words. Mercifully John would decide
the matter--it was not his doing that he and Amaryllis had met.

John caught sight of the three as he came along the balcony from the
telephone, so that he had time to take in the situation; he saw that the
meeting was quite _imprévu_, and he had, of course, no choice but to
accept Verisschenzko's suggestion with a show of grace. At that very
moment, before they could enter the restaurant, and re-arrange their
tables, Harietta Boleski and her husband swept upon them--they were
staying in the hotel. Harietta was enraptured.

What a delightful surprise meeting them! Were they all just together,
would they not dine with her?

She purred to John, while her eyes took in with satisfaction Denzil's
extraordinary good looks--and there was Stépan, too! Nothing could be
more agreeable than to scintillate for them both.

John hailed their advent with relief: it would relax the intolerable
strain which both he and Denzil would be bound to have to experience. So
looking at the rest of the party, he indicated that he thought they would
accept. It suited Verisschenzko also for his own reasons. And any
suggestion to enlarge the intimate number of four would have been
received by Denzil with graciousness.

He had not imagined that he would feel such profound emotion on seeing
Amaryllis, the intensity of it caused him displeasure. It was altogether
such a remarkable situation. He knew that it would have been of thrilling
interest to him had it not been for the presence of John. His knowledge
of what John must be suffering, and the knowledge that John was aware of
what he also must be feeling, turned the whole circumstance into

As soon as he recalled himself to Madame Boleski they all went into the
restaurant to the Boleski table, just inside the door, by the window on
the right. Harietta put John on one side of her and Denzil at the other,
and beyond were Verisschenzko and her husband, with Amaryllis between,
who thus sat nearly opposite Denzil, with her back to the room.

Harietta, when she desired to be, was always an inspiriting hostess,
making things go. She intended to do her best to-night. The turn affairs
had taken, England being at war, was quite too tiresome. It had spoilt
all her country house visits and nullified much of the pleasure and
profit she was intending to reap from her now secured position in this
promised land.

Stanislass, too, had been difficult, he had threatened to go back to
Poland immediately, which he explained was his obvious duty to do--but
she had fortunately been able to crush that idea completely with tears
and scenes. Then he suggested Paris, but information from Hans gave her
occasion to think this might not be a comfortable or indeed quite a safe
spot, and in all cases if the Frenchmen were fighting for dear life they
would not have leisure to entertain her, therefore, dull and gloomy as
England had become, she preferred to remain.

Hans, too, had given her orders. For the present London must be her home,
and the lease of the Mount Lennard house in Grosvenor Square having
expired, they had moved to the Carlton Hotel.

The misery of war, the holocaust of all that was noblest, left her
absolutely cold. It was certainly a pity that those darling young
guardsmen she had danced with should have had to be killed, but there was
never any use in crying over spilt milk--better look out for new ones
coming on. She was quite indifferent as to which country won. It was
still a great bother collecting information for her former husband, but
he threatened terrible reprisals if she refused to go on, and as in her
secret heart she thought that there was no doubt as to who would be
victor, she felt it might be wiser to remain on good terms with the power
she believed would win!

Ferdinand Ardayre had been very helpful all the summer--he had moved from
the Constantinople branch of his business to one in Holland and had just
returned to England now; he was, in fact, coming to see her later on when
she should have packed Stanislass safely off to the St. James' Club.

Harietta had no imagination to be inflamed by terrible descriptions of
things. She saw no actual horrors, therefore war to her was only a
nuisance--nothing ghastly or to be feared. But it was a disgusting
nuisance and caused her fatigue. She had continually to remember to
simulate proper sympathy, and concern and to subdue her vivacity, and
show enthusiasm for any agreeable war work which could divert her dull
days. If she had not been more than doubtful of her reception in America,
even as a Polish magnate's wife, she would have gone over there to escape
as far as possible from the whole situation, and she had been bored to
death now for several days. People were too occupied and too grieved to
go out of their way now to make much of her, and she had been left alone
to brood. Thus the advent of Verisschenzko, who thrilled her always, and
a possible new admirer in Denzil, seemed a heaven-sent occurrence.
Amaryllis and John were undesired but unavoidable appendages who had to
be swallowed.

Denzil's type particularly attracted her. There was an insouciance about
him, a _débonnair sans gêne_ which increased the charm of his good looks;
he had everything of attraction about him which John Ardayre lacked.

Amaryllis, against her will, before the end of the dinner, was conscious
of the fact also, though Denzil studiously avoided any conversation with
her beyond what the exigencies of politeness required. He devoted himself
entirely to Harietta, to her delight, and Verisschenzko and Amaryllis
talked while John was left to Stanislass. But the very fact of Denzil's
likeness to John made Amaryllis look at him, and she resented his
attraction and the interest he aroused in her.

His voice was perhaps even deeper than John's, and how extraordinarily
well his bronze hair was planted on his forehead; and how perfectly
groomed and brushed and soldierly he looked!

He seemingly had taken the measure of Madame Boleski, too, and was
apparently enjoying with a cultivated subtlety the drawing of her out. He
was no novice it seemed, and there was a whimsical light in his eyes and
once or twice they had inadvertently met hers with understanding when
Verisschenzko had made some especially cryptic remark. She knew that she
would very much have liked to talk to him.

Verisschenzko was observing Amaryllis carefully. There was a new
expression in her eyes which puzzled him. Her features seemed to be drawn
with finer lines and pale violet shadows lay beneath her grey eyes. Was
it the gloom of the war which oppressed her? It could not be altogether
that, because her regard was serene and even happy.

"Did I not know that nothing could be more unlikely, I should say she was
going to have a child. What is the mystery?" He found himself very much
interested. Especially he was anxious to watch what impression Denzil
made upon her. He saw, as the dinner went on, that Amaryllis was aware
that he was an attractive creature.

"There is the beginning of a chapter of necessary and
expedient--romance--here," he decided. "If only Denzil is not killed."
But what did his growing so pale on learning that she was his cousin
mean...? that was not a natural circumstance--some deep undercurrents
were stirred. And in what way was all this going to affect the lady
of his soul?

They could not have any intimate conversation at dinner; they spoke of
ordinary things and the war and the horror of it. Russia was moving
forward, but Verisschenzko did not appear to be very optimistic in spite
of this. There were things in his country, he told Amaryllis, which might
handicap the fighting.

Stanislass Boleski looked extremely depressed. He had a hang-dog,
strained mien and Verisschenzko's contemptuously friendly attitude
towards him wounded him deeply. Once he had shone as a leader and chief
in Stépan's life, and now after the stormy scene in the smoking-room at
Ardayre, that he could greet him casually and not turn from him in anger,
showed, alas! to where he had sunk in Verisschenzko's estimation--a thing
of nought--not even worth his disapproval. The dinner to him was a
painful trial.

John also was far from content. He had been longing to see Amaryllis, and
yet the sight of her and her fond and insinuating words and caresses had
caused him exquisite suffering. His emotions were so varied and complex.
His prayer had been answered, but apart from his natural loathing for all
subterfuge, every new tenderness towards himself which Amaryllis
displayed aroused some indefinable jealousy. She had been so glad to see
him and he had been conscious himself that he had been even unusually
stolid and self-contained towards her. He knew that she grew disappointed
and that probably the exalted sentiment which her letter had indicated
that she was feeling had been chilled before she could put it into words.

All this distressed him, and yet he could not break through the reserve
of his nature.

And now to crown unfortunate things, there was Denzil brought by fate and
no one's manoeuvring into Amaryllis' company! Of all things he had hoped
that they need not meet before he and his cousin should go to the Front.
And it was all brought about by his own action in insisting that they had
better dine at a restaurant, as the kitchenmaid, who always remained at
Brook Street, had gone to see a wounded brother.

Amaryllis had sighed a little as she had consented, with the faint
protest that they could have eaten something cold.

But on their drive to the Carlton she had become fondly affectionate
again, nestling close to him, and then she had pulled out the carnation
from her belt and held it for him to smell.

"I picked it in the greenhouse this morning, the last of them; I have had
them all around me while there were any, because they remind me of you,
dearest--and of everything divine."

John felt that he should always now hate that clove stuff for the hair
and could no longer bear to use it.

He was perfectly aware that Denzil on his hostess' other hand was
looking everything that a woman could desire, and that his easy
casualness of manner would be likely to charm. He saw that Amaryllis,
too, observed him with unconscious interest, and a feeling akin to
despair filled his heart.

Life for him had always been difficult, and he was accustomed to blows,
but this one was particularly hard to bear, because he really loved
Amaryllis and desired happiness with her which he knew could never really
be attained.

Only Harietta of the whole party was quite content. She intended to annex
Stépan when they should be drinking coffee in the hall. She looked upon
Denzil's conquest now as almost an accomplished fact, and so felt that
she might let him talk to Amaryllis, since the Russian was her real
object. His ugly rugged face and odd Calmuck eyes always attracted her.

"Why aren't you staying in the hotel, darling Brute?'" she whispered to
him as they left the restaurant. "If you had been--"

"I am," said Verisschenzko, and leaving her for a moment he went and
telephoned to his not unintelligent Russian servant at the Ritz to
arrange about the transference of his rooms.

"She requires the most careful watching--I must waste no time."

And then he returned to the party in the hall.


Denzil Ardayre took up his letters which had been forwarded to him from
the dépót where he was stationed. He and Verisschenzko were passing
through the hall of his mother's house, for a talk and a smoke in his
sitting-room, after leaving the Carlton.

The house was in St. James' Place, a small, old building, the ground
floor of which was given over to Denzil whenever he was in London. His
mother was absent at Bath, where she spent a long autumn cure.

John's letter lay on the top, and Verisschenzko caught the look of
interest which came into Denzil's face.

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