$B 300 1=17
LdRfloikj THE KEW AGE P&E&S.
Digitized by the Internet Archive
in 2008 with funding from
THE DANCING FAUN
By FLORENCE FARR.
THE MYSTERY OF TIME : A Play, 6d. net.
By G. BERNARD SHAW.
THE SANITY OF ART : An exposure of the
current nonsense about artists being degen-
erate. Paper i/- net. Quarter canvas, gilt 2/-
THE G.B.S. CAIyENDAR (Perpetual). Contains
a quotation from the plays and essays of
Bernard Shaw, for every day of the year.
By W. R. TITTERTON.
LOVE POEMS. Paper i/- net.
" Sincere but somewhat realistic, a good many deal with the
misery of base passion and lost women."— 7'i««**.
London: The New Age Press.
THE DANCING FAUN
By I^XORENCE FARR.
THE NEW AGE PRESS,
140, Flebt Street.
Owing to circumstances which have arisen
since this story was written, it seems necessary
to state that it is purely a work of the
imagination, and that none of the characters
or events are taken from real life.
Copyrighted in the United States.
AH Rights Reserved.
THE DANCING FAUN
*Yes, Lady Geraldine, the only beauty in
modern life is its falsehood. Its reality is
' Truth always was undignified, Mr. Travers.'
' Just so ; that is why the art of life consists
in not realising the truth/ replied the man,
with charming languor.
'You are the first person I have met who
has dared put these things into words/ mur-
mured the woman.
' Your life has been a dream hitherto.'
* According to you, I had better not awake.'
' One wants experience to give a wider scope
to one's dreams/ said he paternally.
2 THE DANCING FAUN
' A woman's imagination has no such needs/
'That depends. What are your favourite
* I dislike reading. In novels, people always
do what you expect. The only tolerable
people are those who do what you do not
* And this is your first season ! '
* I have four elder sisters.'
' Ah ! — ' he paused, then he added, ' one
never realises how much women tell each
'No, in men's eyes, women are always at
daggers drawn, fighting for the exclusive
possession of a masculine heart.'
' Geraldine,' cried her mother, from the other
end of the drawing-room, * come and sing to us,
my dear. Mr. Clausen has not heard your voice
since your return from Paris.'
* Have you made a serious study of singing,
Lady Geraldine ? ' asked Travers.
THE DANCING FAUN 3
* I had a course of lessons from Sautussi in
* Oh yes, Mr. Travers, indeed she has/ broke
in Lady Kirkdale as she crossed the room ;
*and I insisted on her singing at Sautussi's
reception, just the same as the other pupils. I
think it is the greatest mistake to make distinc-
tions of rank in matters of art. In art all are
equal. There is something so beautiful in that
thought.' Lady Kirkdale pulled up the rose-
coloured blind. * Will you open the piano, Mr.
Travers ? I am sure you are devoted to music,
you have the musical physiognomy.'
' Then I fear I have a very foolish physiog-
' Now, now, don't be severe. Kirkdale tells
me you are most delightfully severe, and say
such witty things.'
'Then Lord Kirkdale has done me an
infinite wrong : to have the reputation of a wit
precede him is the ruin of a man.'
4 THE DANCING FAUN
* I assure you, you are mistaken ; most people
are much too stupid to distinguish the qualities
of wit ; once establish a reputation, half the
world takes you on trust, and considers the
other half criticises you because it envies you.'
* You give me hope. Lady Kirkdale/
'Mr. Travers, I am afraid you are a very,
very bad man. Come, let us go to the piano.'
The Marchioness of Kirkdale had always been
enterprising. She had the experience of life
only given to those ladies whose husbands are
thoroughly and brutally immoral : voluptuaries
who have no foresight, who do not realise that
it is sometimes amusing to talk to an innocent
woman, when one is thoroughly bored by those
who are not innocent.
Lady Kirkdale's suspicions had been aroused
by the violent friendship her young son had
conceived for George Travers ; and having her
own theories about the education of young
men, she at once invited her son's crony to
THE DANCING FAUN 5
afternoon tea at the little house they occupied
in Davies Street, Berkeley Square. * A man's
behaviour in a drawing-room is one of the
tests you should always apply before you
allow him to enjoy your confidence, Stephen,'
she had said.
'A drawing-room is such an inconceivably
uninteresting place,' sighed Stephen.
'That is the reason why, as a test, it is so
invaluable ; any commonly brilliant man can
amuse men in a club, or women at the
Continental ; but it requires the most subtle
quintessence of wit to penetrate the brain of
the great world without shocking its suscep-
tibilities ; neither radical paradoxes nor coarse
allusions can be brought into play there, with-
out social ruin.'
* Is social ruin possible nowadays ? '
* My dear Kirkdale ! '
* I gauge the public feeling of society by its
attitude in public, and when I sit in a box at
6 THE DANCING FAUN
the theatre and see the stalls greet the passion-
ate utterances of a ruined woman with a con-
temptuous smile, as if that sort of sentiment
were quite out of date, I come to the conclusion
that social ruin means nothing now.'
*My poor Kirkdale, if you think society is
represented in the stalls at a theatre, you are
still more unsophisticated than I had dared
hope. But you and Geraldine are always
puzzling me. There is a persistence of
innocence, I might almost say ignorance, of life
about you both, which I cannot understand.'
Kirkdale laughed gaily. 'The rule of con-
traries always does surprise people.'
Lady Kirkdale looked hard at her son; he
smiled pleasantly ; then she said, * You will
never appreciate the difficulties of my position,
' Yes, I do, mother, although I may be stupid
about obvious truths everybody else appreciates
at once ; I have a sort of brain of my own
THE DANCING FAUN 7
concealed in my skull. Geraldine and I were
both born old, and we're growing young by
degrees, don't you see ? '
* My dear boy, what nonsense you talk ! '
' Every one must have a childhood some time
or other on their own account. In our old
home, when my father was alive, childhood was
impossible. Let us enjoy it now.'
' Enjoy it, certainly. But bring this new man
to see me.' Kirkdale agreed, and Lady Kirk-
dale sent a note to her old friend John Clausen
asking him to come and meet Mr. Travers.
John Clausen was a man of vast experience.
He had never married, and romantic people
told a romantic story of an early love ending
tragically in eternal fidelity. He was a walk-
ing peerage and encyclopedia ; he could tell
you the cast of every theatrical success, and the
scandals about all the ephemeral celebrities,
that have come under the notice of society, and
passed thence into the darkness of the outer
8 THE DANCING FAUN
world during the last forty years. As Lady
Maisy Potter, one of Lady Kirkdale's married
daughters, said —
' He is one of those charming observant
people, who always listen to what you say,
and notice what you wear.'
As he sat in Lady Kirkdale's drawing-room
on this particular hot June afternoon, he was
both listening and observing. Lady Geraldine
looked like a fair and sweet flower as she sang
Gounod's passionate love-song, Ce que je suis
sans toi. She was a blonde, with tiny hands
which melted in the touch as it were ; they ap-
peared to have no strength, no bone, they were
so soft, so delicate. Yet now she was playing,
you could see they were full of nervous tension ;
and her style had a certain vigour and dis-
tinction surprising to those who had only seen
her in her idle moments. Mr. Clausen's eyes
wandered from her to the figure of George
Travers : he was of light build, his face was
THE DANCING FAUN 9
clean shaven save for a moustache several
shades lighter than his hair, his eyes were
brown and rather close together, his nostrils
delicate, and his chin well cut. There was a
suggestion of cat-like agility about him, and
good solid muscle at the corners of his mouth
gave evidence that he was a man of endless
resource. He stood behind Lady Geraldine, his
hand resting on her brother's shoulder. When
the song was over, Travers said, ' I should
like to hear you singing to a mandolin on the
lawn, down at my place at Old Windsor. Can
you not persuade Lady Kirkdale to bring you
down there one day? It is a charming old
place, filled with quaint things I have collected
from all parts of the world. I am sure it would
interest you. What do you say, Stephen, will
your mother and sister come with you and see
me in my Arcadia ? '
'Certainly, old fellow. I didn't know you
had a place in the country.'
lo THE DANCING FAUN
* Oh, it is not a property, I simply lease it ;
but it is convenient to have a house of a certain
size in which to store one's collections. I am
such a wanderer that I often forget I possess
even this little /2>^^ terre!
' I hear you have such exquisite taste in
furnishing/ said Lady Geraldine. * Lord Fore-
shot was telling me you had superintended the
decoration of his chambers in the Albany, and
that they are a perfect dream.'
* I fear Lord Foreshot had some ulterior
object in view.'
' I don't understand you, Mr. Travers.'
' I am sure of that, quite sure of that,' and
Mr. Travers bestowed upon her a fatherly and
forgiving smile. Then he advanced to Lady
Kirkdale to bid her good-bye and invite her
to make arrangements for the expedition to
Old Windsor. A minute or two later they were
joined by Kirkdale, who had remained behind
talking to Geraldine. The details were ar-
THE DANCING FAUN ii
ranged, and the expedition fixed for the follow-
ing Wednesday by Mr. Travers, who said,
' The middle of the week is always best ;
one can enjoy one's-self in one's own way
without being disgusted by seeing too many
other people enjoying themselves in theirs.'
He and Kirkdale left the house together.
* My sister does not like you,' said Kirkdale.
' I am most fortunate.'
* How so ? '
* The degrees in a woman's favour are, in-
terest, dislike ; interest, hate ; interest — well,
I suppose I may say more interest.'
* Why do you hesitate, old fellow ? '
'Lady Geraldine is a woman who wants a
special language to express her. Unfortun-
ately for me, I have not learned it yet.'
' It would please her to hear that'
'Would it? Then tell her,' and Travers
gently stroked his moustache as they turned
12 THE DANCING FAUN
Lady Geraldine left the drawing-room by
one door as her brother and George Travers
quitted it by the other. So that Lady Kirkdale
and Mr. Clausen were left tete-a-tete. She
turned to him and said, * What is your
opinion of this man ? '
* He is the sort of danger Stephen is bound
to encounter sooner or later. The sooner it is
over the better ; young men must be initiated
personally into the mysteries of life, no mother
can bear the tests for them.'
* You are quite right there ; but I could have
wished the serpent of Stephen's choice had
taken another form.'
' There I disagree with you ; if you had had
a free hand in the matter I don't think you
could have chosen better.'
Lady Geraldine re-entered ; her mother made
room for her beside her on the sofa, and said,
*We were talking of Mr. Travers; what do
you think of him ? '
THE DANCING FAUN 13
* I dislike him, and told Stephen I did so ;
there is an uncomfortable feeling that you are
walking on very thin ice when you are talking
to him. I wish we had not arranged this visit
to Old Windsor.'
* Shall we write and put him off? We had
other engagements for the day ; I can easily
* Oh no, we had better go. The country air
will be pleasant in any case.'
* And how are you getting through your
first season, Lady Geraldine?' said Mr.
' I feel as if I had been through it again and
again before. It interested me at first ; it was
amusing to see my sisters' old experiences
renewing themselves as my turn came. But it
is terrible to think that whether you are in it
or not, the world goes on just the same : in
another season, girls now in the schoolroom
will be going through the mill exactly in the
14 THE DANCING FAUN
same way as I am doing. How one longs for
something different ! '
' Yes we all have felt that. I believe it is the
strongest passion of the human race to get at
" something different " ; it is the secret of all
sin, the secret of all progress.'
'And it is the function of society to sup-
press this tendency,' said Lady Kirkdale. * It
crystallises, I may say sanctifies, the present
state of things. " Whatever is, is right " must
be the ostensible motto of those who would
retain their places in it. It is the solid edifice
round which an empire is gathered.'
' The solid centre of a very wobbling circum-
ference,' interrupted Mr. Clausen.
*Mr. Travers was saying that the beautiful
was only a veil to cover the ridiculous. It seems
to me that in the same way the stupidity of so-
ciety is concealed by hiding it behind very high
walls,' murmured Geraldine, as she leaned her
head on the broad back of the Chesterfield sofa.
THE DANCING FAUN 15
* There you are wrong ; those high walls con-
tain everything. There is nothing without that
is not within ; the only difference is that people
in society keep within bounds, others do not.'
* That is a great deal to be thankful for,' said
Lady Kirkdale. ' I once had to go down to
Richmond by the last underground train from
Hampstead on a Saturday night. I have had
a good deal of experience, but never have I
witnessed such a pandemonium. I would not
enter one of those underground stations, when
the rabble is at large, to save a hundred pounds.'
* All vice loses its attraction when it is seen
from the outside,' said Mr. Clausen.
' Has vice any attraction ? ' asked Geraldine.
'Not to the refined or cultivated pleasure-
seeker, but the crude youngster often finds
himself thoroughly enjoying the most vulgar
vices : it is only after being repeatedly shocked
at the appearance of other people when they
are enjoying similar ecstasies that our cultivated
i6 THE DANCING FAUN
perceptions render us incapable of revelling in
* Ah, how true ! nothing excites virtue so much
as the spectacle of other people's vices/ said
* It is the last rope thrown out by Provi-
dence to save us from our sins,' replied Mr.
* How curious it would be,' said Geraldine, ' if
the next Saviour of the world should be one
who would bestow a universal sense of humour !'
* But nobody is so ridiculous as a humorist,'
cried Lady Kirkdale.
*One can forgive anything when it is done
with deliberate intent,' was Mr. Clausen's re-
joinder, but other people's instinctive emotions
can never be forgiven, unless we happen to share
* So you think we might be redeemed by a
* He certainly should have a trial. Lady
THE DANCING FAUN 17
Geraldine, here is a chance for you — start in life
as the high priestess of humour.'
* I am not old enough, Mr. Clausen ; I am
afraid I have not worn out my instinctive
' Ah, well ! when you have, you will know
where to fly for refuge.'
Lady Kirkdale sighed, and said, * I suppose
our most lasting delusion is that our experi-
ences can be of service to others.'
* It is not a delusion,' replied Mr. Clausen
warmly. * Experience teaches us through our
own agony to sympathise with others. When
they have passed through a like experience, we
can help to heal their wounds ; but we cannot
prevent them fighting out the battle for them-
selves.' He stopped suddenly, walked to the
window, looked out, and said in a lighter tone
to Geraldine, ' And how are all your sisters ? '
*They are very well. Mary has just taken
the new baby into the country, where her
i8 THE DANCING FAUN
husband joins her as soon as the session is
over. Emily is still working in the East End ;
she lectures at Toynbee Hall on Temperance
next Friday. Gladys writes from the Embassy
at Vienna that her life is wasted in writing
official notes ; and Maisy and her husband
seem to have disappeared altogether ever since
they were married ; they were most ridiculously
attached to each other, as no doubt you re-
member. All the while they were engaged, I
was afraid of stirring about the house, and got
into a habit of humming, coughing, and rattling
door handles, which I have not overcome yet.'
* And where were they when you last heard
of them ? '
*Well, they remained in Egypt on their
honeymoon, until it became too hot to hold
them, and now they Ve taken refuge in a yacht'
* Dear ! dear ! dear ! who would have thought
so much romance was left in the world ? How
long have they been married ? '
THE DANCING FAUN 19
' Six months.'
' The other day I heard it said that the first
six months of married life were the most miser-
able in a woman's existence. Maisy would
not agree with that'
* I suppose not ; they utterly refused to re-
turn to London for the season, although mamma
begged Maisy to come and take me about.
Poor mamma, how tired you must be of
chaperoning us ! '
* No, I am not. As age comes over one,
one begins to take an interest in details quite
incomprehensible to the young.'
The door opened, and the footman announced
in a loud voice, * Mr. Potter and Lady Maisy
* Mamma ! '
* Maisy ! '
* Robert ! Where have you come from ? '
* Landed at Portsmouth this morning.
Thought we would take you by surprise.'
20 THE DANCING FAUN
The reunited family settled itself into groups,
more tea was ordered, and confidences ex-
Maisy, pert, pretty, and blooming with
health, sat between her mother and sister on
the sofa. Mr. Clausen and Robert foregathered
at the other end of the room. Geraldine said,
* Last time you wrote, you said nothing would
induce you to return to England yet.'
' That was all poor dear Robert ; he begged
and prayed me to stay out there with him,
until I really had to threaten him.'
* My dear Maisy ! '
*Yes, mamma, I positively had to threaten
him that, if he persisted in staying I should
come home alone.'
'And that brought him round at once, of
course,' said Geraldine.
* Oh yes, he can't bear me to be out of his
sight for a moment. People tell me his devo-
tion positively makes him ridiculous.'
THE DANCING FAUN 21
* You don't mind that, I suppose.'
* Geraldine, what has come over you ? What
is the matter with her, mamma? Has she
been crossed in love ? '
* My dear Maisy, why should you think so ? '
* There 's something so nasty, and hard, and
cynical about her — positively there is, mamma ;
one always notices these changes when one first
comes home more than people who are living
in the house/
* I don't expect you noticed me at all before
you went away.'
' Oh yes, I did ; you were always most inter-
ested about my affairs, and anxious to know
how Robert had behaved, and what he had
said. And I know very well you never spoke
in that tone then. You hurt my feelings,
Geraldine. I 'm not used to cynicism. Robert
is so straightforward and manly, he never
makes fun of me.'
* I wasn't making fun, I assure you ; I think
22 THE DANCING FAUN
you the most enviable woman in the world ;
really I do.'
Maisy aggrievedly allowed herself to be kissed,
and peace was restored. In the meantime,
Mr. Clausen was discussing the subject of his
return with Mr. Robert Potter. Clausen began
by making the remark, that the last news had
led him to believe that they had not proposed
returning to England yet. Mr. Potter led Mr.
Clausen into the recess of the window and
said : * The truth is, my wife was most anxious
to remain out there. Personally, I hate miss-
ing a season ; it is like losing sight of a genera-
tion in the evolution of the race, one is
always looking for the missing link ; and the
next year one is horribly out of it. However,
I got my wife to believe that this was her own
feeling, and after two months of delicate
manoeuvring, I induced her to persuade me
to return to England.*
* I congratulate you on your patience.'
THE DANCING FAUN 23
* A capacity for patience is the bulwark alike
of the solid Englishman and of the British
Constitution. The principle of the Govern-
ment has always been to acknowledge such
and such a move to be a good one, but to
take no step in the matter until it is forced
upon it from the outside. It endures. I shall
endure. What is the use of having such a
splendid public constitution if you do not
model your own constitution upon it ? '
Mr. Clausen laughed ; Mr. Potter smiled.
They turned away from the window and
joined the ladies.
* * * * *
In a miserable little garret in a small street
off the Strand, a young woman lay tossing and
turning in her bed ; sometimes a little moan
escaped her, then she would bury her face in
her pillow and break into passionate sobs. As
it became light she got up and looked out of
the window ; she could see a wide expanse of
24 THE DANCING FAUN
roofs, and in the distant sky the thin h'nes of
white light through the grey river mist. She
shuddered at the cold, and crept into bed again.
Just as she was falling asleep, a man in evening
dress and a loose overcoat of the latest fashion
softly entered the room, and she sprang up,
'O my George, my dear one, where have
you been ? I was terrified.'
' My poor little child, all is well, don't cry :
there, there ! I have done great things to-night,
and if you are very careful our fortune 's made.
To-morrow we go down to the place on the
river Guaschaci has lent us ; but my little wife
will have to be very obedient, and do exactly
what her husband tells her. Does she promise
not to cry any more, and not to spoil her pretty
eyes?' He held her face between his hands,
and kissed her on the mouth.
* Yes, yes, George, anything. I will do any-
thing you tell me, only promise me never to
T.HE DANCING FAUN 25
leave me again like this. It makes me so
' My darling, I never will ; but you should
She threw her arms round his neck passion-
ately, * I do, George, I do. God knows what
will become of me if I ever lose that trust.'
* My sweet love ! ' and he sat down on the
bed. 'Now tell me. Do you remember the
simple little cotton dress you wore when I first
saw you on the stage, and when you stole my
heart from me all at once, before I had time to
realise my danger ? Do you remember it ? '
' Yes, George, of course I do, of course I do.'
'Well, what do you think I have in my
head ? '
' I can 't think. O George ! are you going to
let me go back on the stage, and earn money
to keep you out of this miserable poverty ? '
' Pooh ! child, what would five pounds a week
be to a man like me? That's no good. No, now
26 THE DANCING FAUN
listen. In this world the only way to make
money is to be supposed to have money. If I
can really get the position which is mine by
right, and from which my cursed ill-luck cut me
off six years ago, when that affair about the duel
with Prince Blank, I told you about, came out,
the world will be at my feet : I shall be in a
position which will be unassailable, because it
will be founded on a rock. My exile has been
useful to me in this way, it has enabled me to
find out secrets which will be invaluable to me ;
secrets which will make me feared by the
leaders of society.'
* O George, but that sounds dreadful ! '
*My Gracie knows her husband would dis-
dain to use the knowledge in his possession.
Of all blackguards the blackmailer is the
lowest. But there are certainly delicate means
of working things, called wire-pulling in diplo-
matic circles, which have a certain charm — a
sensation between that of a spider weaving its
THE DANCING FAUN 27
web and the pleasure of exercising skill experi-
enced by the consummate chess-player. This
is a feeling not ignoble ; it is one shared by all
great statesmen. It is the exercise of this
power that evolved the Conqueror of Europe
from the Corsican soldier. My wife must
learn that all success is the result of carefully
adjusted combinations. She must learn to
know that to help her husband, and herself,
she must exercise inviolable secrecy and
* O George, can I help you ? Will you trust
me ? Oh, how happy, how happy you make me ! '
* You can and shall ; but at first secretly, and
in a way which would make an ordinary woman
' I can endure anything, anything for you.
Only tell me, you shall see. I seemed so use-
less in your real life ; it seemed as if I wasn't
really necessary to you ; now I shall be the
happiest woman in the world.'
28 THE DANCING FAUN
'Well, I'll tell you my plan. When I go
down to Windsor, I want you to live in the
little cottage belonging to The Oaks, and to
save you from scandal you must pretend to be
a poor relation of Guaschaci's. You shall have
a little girl to wait on you ; no real hard work.
Then at night, when the house is locked up
and the servants are gone to bed, I shall steal
down to you and we will adorn you with silks
and jewels and lace, and you shall be my
beautiful transformed bride.'
' But, dearest, why ? '
* For two reasons. One is that, to work my
present plans, I must not be supposed to be
married, least of all must I be supposed to
have married an actress; and the second is,
that that foolish boy whom you met me
walking with the other day has never forgotten
you. He is constantly asking who you were.
I said you came from the country, so that
he will not be surprised to find you down at
THE DANCING FAUN 29
Windsor when he comes next week. He is
quite a boy, and very easy to manage. It will
lead to no unpleasantness for you, my dearest,
or you know I should not propose it. He is the
Marquis of Kirkdale, only twenty-one, and by
means of his family, who are in the best set, I
propose to get really into the swim ; once there,
the rest is easy.'
* I thought we should have such a lovely time
down there, boating and lying about on the
lawn ; and all the servants to wait on us.'
' It would have been ideal, but, under the
circumstances, what am I to do?' I must
either make my fortune in society, or out of it.
I am not born to be poor ; I have no talent for
it. In society all things are possible, out of
it all things are possible ; but out of society
diplomacy is called lying; statesmanship,
cheating ; gallantry, seduction ; a fine taste in
champagne, drunkenness. No, Gracie, you
must not ask me to give up society. I am
30 THE DANCING FAUN
made for it, and it for me. Besides, am I not
providing you with the means of gratifying
your taste for acting ? '
* But what will the servants think ? '
* A gentleman's servants know that their first
duty is not to think,' said Travers, kissing
* Dear George,' she murmured, ' I am a nasty,
bad-tempered creature. I have always been
teasing you to let me go back to the stage, and
after all this will be great fun, and I shall
have the leading part at last ! '
*Yes, the leading part, Gracie. The other
women will only be walking ladies. They will
come on, speak a few words to explain the plot,
and be seen no more.'
* Who are the other ladies, George ? '
* Only Kirkdale's mother and sister. Lady
Kirkdale and Lady Geraldine Fitzjustin. They
are coming down with him on Wednesday ; but
if you play your cards properly he will find The
THE DANCING FAUN 31
Oaks sufficiently attractive to come down with-
out them in future.'
' George, do you think it is quite right, all this
deception ? Wouldn't it be better to say you
were married, but your wife would never, never
interfere with you ? '
'Dear little baby-wife, no. Don't you see
what fun we 're all going to have ? Women
never have scruples about anything on their
own account, but they are always full of them
when they think their husbands are risking
the purity of their moral characters.'
* Now you are laughing at me, George, but
' No more buts. I 'm dead tired,' and he
yawned as he turned out the light.
« » « « 4:
* He is a delightful man,' said Lady Kirkdale,
as she leaned back in the corner of the railway
carriage after making a charming bow to George
Travers, who stood on the platform watching
32 THE DANCING FAUN
their departure from Datchet station. 'And
the house is a perfect gem of exquisite taste.'
* He is much nicer than I thought at first,' said
Geraldine. ' It was too bad of you, Stephen, to
stay behind, and let him do all the work. Punt-
ing two women about must be most wearisome.'
* I fancy Travers likes punting ; he knows he
has a good figure. I didn't want to spoil the
efifect,' rejoined Stephen.
' That 's the first time I 've heard you
speak a word against him,' said Lady Kirk-
' One stands up for a fellow as long as he 's
being abused by one's people, of course, but
when they begin to appreciate him one can
slack off a little.'
* What is the matter with you, Stephen ? '
' Oh, nothing— I 'm tired, that's all.'
In the meantime George Travers rebalanced
the dogcart, fondled the horse, lighted a
cigar, and drove slowly back to The Oaks. It
THE DANCING FAUN 33
certainly had been a successful day for him.
His was one of those natures which delighted
in gorgeous dreams. He felt realities to be
most inadequate, he hated them. Just as he
had mounted the winged steed of his imagina-
tion, some dirty little fact was always seizing
the reins, and dragging him down to earth;
but to-day everything had gone smoothly.
His father had been a successful actor in
the 'sixties, named Swanwick. Now there
are two kinds of bad parents : the parent who
looks upon a child as a machine capable of
perfect rectitude if its moral principles are
manufactured on a certain plan, and the
parent whose only notion of a child is that it
is a sort of toy sent by Providence for his
amusement. Now it amused old Swanwick to
see his little son imitating the manners behind
the footlights, lounging at bars, patronising
pretty girls, advising them as to their costumes,
for the actresses soon discovered that it pleased
34 THE DANCING FAUN
his father to see him taken notice of, and
pleasing old Swanwick went a long way
towards success. It made all the difference
between the smooth and the seamy side of
theatrical life. Blind admiration for him, and
his, was all that was necessary ; but woe to any
one who suggested an alteration in his arrange-
ments. He would turn on his most favoured
fair one the moment she overstepped the bounds
with which his vanity entrenched him, saying,
* Am I the stage manager of this theatre or are
you, madam ? ' This outburst would be followed
by language unfit for publication, and days of
sullen anger, the clouds only departing after the
most complete self-humiliation of the offending
one. Now old Swanwick loved his profession ;
he loved trotting along the Strand and turning
in to ' have a drink ' with all the cronies he met
in his progress. He also loved racing. When-
ever, by hook or by crook, he could escape
rehearsals, which were much less intermittent
THE DANCING FAUN 35
in those days than now, off he would go with
his friend Travers, to Newmarket, Epsom, San-
down, anywhere. Driving for choice, and
making a day of it, getting back to the theatre
in a state of robust hilarity, putting his head in
a basin of cold water, and coming out 'fresh as
a daisy,' as he put it — at anyrate capable of
giving a capital performance of the tender,
good-hearted fellow he delighted in portraying.
When he died, his friend Travers adopted the
little orphan boy. He was a man of old
family, and felt the necessity, which old Swan-
wick had ignored, of doing something more
for the boy than sending him to a day-school.
Accordingly he talked seriously to the small
precocious person whom he had taken under
his protection ; told him he intended to make
him his heir, and that to learn to keep up his
position he must acquire some knowledge of
the life led in the world on this side of the
footlights. He spoke in a way which appealed
36 THE DANCING FAUN
to the lively imagination of the boy ; and
when he had stayed for a few months with
Travers in his house in Piccadilly, and had
been taken down to the place in Gloucester-
shire for the shooting season, he was completely
prepared to ignore his previous experiences ;
and could treat them lightly as the excursions
of a gentleman's son into Bohemia. Travers
got very fond of the boy as time went on, and
by the time he was thirteen made up his mind
to do his very best for him. He sent him to
Harrow and afterwards to Oxford, but the
City of Spires was rather too much for young
Travers, as he was everywhere called now, and
he was sent down after one term.
However, he had got all he thought necessary
out of the university. He could talk about it,
and that was all he wanted. He then was put in
a crack regiment ; but unfortunately for him, he
had not been there a year before his patron unex-
pectedly died, having made no will, and George
THE DANCING FAUN 37
Travers was thrown on the world with very-
little but a thorough knowledge of the ropes,
some talent for backing the right horse, and a
very considerable talent for winning at poker ;
and it was not a duel but a card scandal that
brought his early career in London society to
an untimely end. He was obliged to leave
England, although circumstances necessitated
the hushing up of the scandal. He joined a
theatrical company in America, and made a
somewhat substantial success out there. He
returned to England with some money and the
intention of continuing his stage career under
his father's name. While waiting for a chance,
unaccountably to himself, he fell in love with
Grace Lovell ; we all have our moments of
weakness, and in one of these he married this
child, who was full of dreams, full of ambition,
full of hopes, wild as only those of a young
actress who has made her first success can be.
She had been engaged as understudy for one
38 THE DANCING FAUN
of London's favourite soubrettes, had been
called upon to play the part at a moment's
notice. She had done so with such dainty fresh-
ness, and had made her points with such
innocent piquancy, that she had attracted
public notice to a very considerable extent.
She played the part three weeks, and during
those weeks George Travers came to the
theatre, saw, and conquered. When her en-
gagement was over she married him at a
registry office, and disappeared from the stage.
As fate would have it, almost the moment
he had taken this step George Travers made
the acquaintance of Lord Kirkdale at the
Junior Carlton, whither he had been taken by
Charles Melton, an owner of racehorses. The
two got on very well; the next day they lunched
together, and, strolling along Pall Mall after-
wards, encountered Mrs. George Travers. She
looked at them expectantly ; George smiled,
nodded, and gave her a little sign to pass on
THE DANCING FAUN 39
without speaking. She did so, but not before
Kirkdale's curiosity had been vividly aroused.
However, Travers vouchsafed no information,
but that she lived in the country and he sup-
posed she was up in town shopping for the
A week or two later, just as he was changing
his last fiver, he encountered an Italian, Count
Guaschaci, whose life he had saved in a tap-
room free fight, out in the Western States.
Guaschaci listened to his troubles sympathetic-
ally, and as he was leaving England for six
months, told him he should be really obliged
if he would look after his establishment at Old
Windsor; all he asked of him was to keep
things going until his return.
Then Travers saw his opportunity had come.
Ten years had passed since the old scandal.
A new generation ruled ; all was forgotten, or
could be explained away. The trustful Count
gave him a cheque for two hundred pounds, and
40 THE DANCING FAUN
left all his affairs in his hands. It must be noted
here that Travers had many most endearing
qualities. He could not bear to see animals
sufifer; he got on splendidly with children. He
treated women as if he was their father, and
men as if he was their redeemer. He took a
favour as if he were bestowing a benediction.
He had discovered the art of living upon other
people with as much grace as if he belonged
to the highest circles ; none of the bourgeois
arrogance of the parvenu or the middleman
was perceptible ; he took other people's money,
their property, and their affections, with equal
grace and admirable cordiality.
Grace peeped timidly out of her cottage
door as he drove by. He whispered, 'All
right, little woman, I will be over directly.'
Then he drove the cart into the stable-
yard, threw the reins to the groom, and
strolled into the house through the back
way, calling out as he passed the kitchen.
THE DANCING FAUN 41
*Just bring me a whisky and Seltzer in the grey-
room ; I shall want nothing more to-night'
He lighted another cigar and threw himself
full length on the white bear-skin which
covered the canopied divan at the upper end
of the room. The walls were hung with dull
grey material, and decorated with strips and
borders of faded Eastern embroidery. Guas-
chaci certainly knew how to do things well.
There was not another man in England for
whose decorations Travers felt he could have
brought himself to take the responsibility.
Certainly this place positively did even him
credit ; he felt no hesitation whatever in saying
that it was his own. A middle-aged woman
brought in the whisky, then courtesying gravely
she asked if the master would speak to her
little boy, he cried to see the master before he
went to bed.
* Bring him in, certainly, bring him in.'
* I put him to bed, sir ; but I can't get him
42 THE DANCING FAUN
to sleep ; perhaps you will excuse me bringing
him down in his little dressing-gown.'
* Certainly, I '11 put him to sleep in no time ;
don't you trouble, Madame Kudner.'
The housekeeper went and fetched her
little boy. As she carried him in he held out
his arms to Travers, who lay back on the white
divan laughing gaily.
* Want a romp, little man ? ' he cried. ' All
right, you shall have one. It is a shame. I
haven't seen him all day. Come and look in
the cupboard, and see if we can find anything
And the boy, who was a miracle of baby
prettiness, with little brown curls dancing round
his rosy cheeks, and bright eyes, was carried off
in triumph to the old oak chest in which the
stores were kept.
' There, figs won't hurt him, will they, Madame
Kudner ? Now, we '11 take in the dish ; come
along. Why, you 've got no shoes on ! Well,
THE DANCING FAUN 43
jump upon my back,' and he raced round the
room with the child, carrying the piece of
massive church plate which did duty for a
dessert dish in their curious establishment.
Little Pierre sat gravely in the corner of
the divan with his feet stretched out straight
in front of him, munching the green figs and
gazing with rapture at the purple lusciousness
which each fresh bite discovered. Travers pro-
mised to bring him upstairs when he appeared
sleepy, and soon the whole house was still.
The two had a long serious conversation,
and Pierre was instructed in full detail how to
make himself a little paper punt, which he was
to float down the river next evening with a
wax taper in it ; it was to be saturated with
oil, so that when the taper had burnt down the
whole boat would flare up splendidly and go
down the stream like a real burning ship. Just
as this exciting point was reached, a gentle tap
was heard outside the window.
44 THE DANCING FAUN
Travcrs listened for a moment, then he
hurried off his proUg^^ popped him down on
his bed, told him he must go to sleep at once,
kissed him on both cheeks, and ran downstairs.
He opened the verandah windows, at which the
taps had become more and more persistent.
Grace entered in a loose white dress.
* Why have you come here 1 I told you not
to on any account.'
Grace stopped short, it was the first time he
had spoken to her in that hard voice.
*You said you were coming down to the
cottage. I saw all the servants' lights put out
here. I was tired of waiting.'
* I was playing with Pierre.'
'Pierre, at this time of night! You prefer
anything to me ; even a child.'
* Even a child ! That 's good. Children are
the only perfectly satisfactory companions in
the world. They never seriously reproach you,
and as for beauty, no woman can touch them.'
THE DANCING FAUN 45
* George, let me go away. Let me go back
to London, to my old life/
' I tell you once for all, I can't allow my wife
to go on the stage.'
* It is too hard, too hard. You make life a
perfect torture to me. Why won't you let me
try to forget you, and my love, my unhappy
love for you ? ' she sobbed.
' Don't be ridiculous ; and for Heaven's sake
don't make such a row. How do I make you
miserable } '
* I wouldn't mind if I never saw you at all.
When you were quite away at Boulogne the
other day, I could set to work at things I
wanted to do quite happily ; but when I know
you are near me, and I am hoping to see you
come in at any moment, my hope tortures me.
They say hope is a pleasant feeling, I think it
is the keenest form of torture the devil ever
dressed up as an angel. I sit there in that
cottage and wait, and as time goes on all my
46 THE DANCING FAUN
love turns sick ; ' I get to hate you for causing
me such pain. I feel as if I could kill you
sometimes, to put an end to it, once for all'
*0h dear! oh dear! How absurd, how
absolutely ridiculous all this is ! If you had
just come out of the schoolroom I could have
understood it, but any woman who has led the
life you have must surely have grasped a few of
the elementary realities of life. You appear to
think what people say on the stage is real life,
and what you see behind the scenes is play-
'So it is. Behind the scenes of a theatre
nobody is the same as they are in their
own homes ; we all play our parts there, but
we put all the reality we have in us into our
' Silly child ! I am saying the absurd notions
you have about love appear to have come out
of plays. Of course, people always say before-
hand that eternity will not be long enough for
THE DANCING FAUN 47
their raptures. The curtain falls on this
situation ; if it was to rise again, they would
have to own ignominiously that half an hour
had been found ample.'
* My God ! and I believed you when you told
me you could not live without me. In six
weeks I see you flirting with another woman.'
*0h, is that it? Well, I suppose if I had
cared to play the spy, I should have seen you
flirting with another man.'
* How dare you ! how dare you speak like
that, when you know you asked me to be your
decoy ! You needn't deny it ; that is the long
and short of it, and I refuse, I will not submit
to this. I will go away, and you can get a
divorce if you like. .The whole thing is a
miserable,- degrading, horrible dream. Now I
am awake, and will escape.' She rushed to the
door ; he reached it first, and caught her in his
* I never saw you look so beautiful.' He
48 THE DANCING FAUN
covered her face with kisses. She struggled ;
he murmured, * My own dear love, I was only
teasing ; don't let us remember a word we
'But you were flirting with that Lady
Geraldine ! '
' Never mind her ; she is the sort of woman
men always imagine they are in love with,
except when they are alone with her.'
' When were you alone with her ? '
' I haven't been alone with her, but I can
read women like books ; you needn't be afraid
that curiosity about the sex will lead me
*And you really meant it when you said I
was the only woman you ever really loved ? '
'You know it well enough, my darling.
When a man like me marries, he has been shot
straight through the heart.'
After a pause, she said, 'Well, shall we go
back to the cottage .? '
THE DANCING FAUN 49
* No, we '11 stay here and have a little feast.
Come along, we will forage about and get up a
bottle of champagne. You get the things out
of this cupboard, while I go down to the cellar.'
The next morning Grace Travers woke up
rather earlier than usual. The scene of the
previous evening had left a distinct memory
behind, although it had ended in a reconcilia-
tion. She had exchanged a few sentences with
Lord Kirkdale, and there was an air of truth,
candour, and unsophistication that appealed
strongly to her imagination, as a contrast to
her husband's somewhat brutal analysis of
sexual relations. A civilised woman has very
little taste for what may be termed pure
passion ; it pleases her instinct perhaps, but it
revolts her intellect, her imagination, her
delicacy, her pride. To an intellectual person
the whole business of love-making is ridiculous,
and without dignity. Dreams and fancies are
50 THE DANCING FAUN
invoked to give it an adventitious interest, and
so a sort of mesmerism is exercised, and bliss-
ful dreams of eternal happiness come into
existence, depending for their duration very
much upon the sympathy between the imagin-
ations of the lovers, which sometimes is
powerful enough to build up a reality from a
vision. However this may be, when love comes
in at the door intellect flies out of the window
or sleeps the sleep of the disgusted. When it
returns to its habitation it delivers stern judg-
ment on the follies that have been committed
in its absence. Now a lovers' quarrel interferes
considerably with the glamour of the situation,
it disturbs the harmony which is essential to
the conditions described, and the intellect takes
the chance to slip in and give an opinion. So
it happened to Grace. She was clever, and
before the madness came over her (for in her
case it was not a sympathetic imagination
which attracted her) was considered witty and
THE DANCING FAUN 51
brilliant. But the first effect of her love was to
make her take life very, very seriously ; she
became quite incapable, for a time, of seeing
the humour of any situation. She had hitherto
led a wild roving life, and her ideal had been to
settle down in a little nest of her own and play
Joan to George Travers's Darby for the rest of
her life. Now Travers did not particularly
object to her playing Joan, but he did find him-
self unequal to the combined roles of Romeo
and Darby. Romance and domesticity are not
a very suitable combination, and poor Travers
may perhaps be forgiven for falling short of the
ideal set before him.
As has been said by a lady who has made
some study of the female heart : * What is really
necessary to a woman's happiness is two
husbands, one for everyday and one for Sun-
days.' She really meant that she has discovered
that Romeo and Darby cannot be combined
in one poor mortal man, so is willing to take
52 THE DANCING FAUN
them separately. Grace was not so reasonable.
The romantic attachment she had formed for
Romeo, in the person of Travers, prevented her
enduring the presence of Darby, in the person
of Kirkdale. She did not object to Darby's
homage, but it was certainly not worth
thinking of, and would certainly meet with no
reward from her hands.
All the same, she was conscious that a
potential Darby was looming in the horizon,
that she was not the woman to waste her life at
the beck and call of a man who could talk to
her as Romeo had last night. As all this was
passing through her mind her eyes fell on an
old bookshelf, on which various dusty old
volumes were heaped. She walked over to the
corner, wondering she had not noticed them
before, and took one down : it was a book of
plays. She stood reading to herself and laughed,
then she replaced the volume and opened a
book of Shelley's poetry. She opened it at the
THE DANCING FAUN 53
last pages of a play and softly murmured the
words to herself. By degrees she read louder,
something about her voice struck her. She
listened, it sounded different, a new beauty had
come into it. She read on and on, wondering
at the pathos of the tones she uttered, almost
crying with sympathy. As she listened to the
laments of Beatrice di Cenci, it seemed to her
some inspired spirit had entered her body
and was making use of her voice to reveal to
her what life, and love, and divine sorrow
From that day she settled down to hard work.
She heard that some of the words, as she spoke
them, sounded round and full, and moved
her to the depths of her heart ; others sounded
little and thin, and she resolved to work away
until she had got all alike resonantly beautiful.
Often she caught an ugly jarring sound in her
voice when calling out to her little maid, and
at once corrected herself. However she was
54 THE DANCING FAUN
occupied, she kept the one idea before her of
making every sound she uttered beautiful.
On Saturday night Travers brought down
Lord Kirkdale to stay till Monday. Grace
went to church, and was listening to the curate's
reading with a severely critical ear when she
became aware that Kirkdale had entered the
building. He overtook her as she was crossing
the fields on her way home. He raised his hat,
and said —
* So you are still here ? I thought you would
have left long ago, you seemed so terribly bored
last time I had the pleasure of seeing you.'
* Yes, I 'm still here.'
* And still bored ? '
* No ; I 'm not bored now.'
* How is that ? '
* I am studying something.'
* Well, I suppose you 'd laugh at a country
girl like me if I told you, but I 'm studying
THE DANCING FAUN 55
because I want to go back — I mean — I want to
go on the stage.'
* I think it would be a very good idea.'
* Do you really ? Oh, how nice it is to hear
some one say that ! '
'Why, don't you get any encouragement
from your people ? '
*No, I don't'
* Look here ! can I help you in any way ? I
might perhaps be able to; I sometimes meet
actors and fellows who know a lot about the
'Oh, thanks. I don't think I want help —
yet. But it is most kind of you to offer. I
dare say I shall get a chance some day.'
* But I 've always heard you can't learn acting
off the stage. You can't do much by yourself
down here surely ? '
* You can't learn to act^ but you can learn to
speak beautifully ; life teaches you that, more
than all the theatres in the world.'
56 THE DANCING FAUN
He looked at her in surprise.
* I don't know, of course, but that *s my idea
of things,' she said smiling.
* And how do you study ? '
* I learn parts, and say them over and over
again to myself until I get just the sound I
want into my voice.'
* What parts ? Juliet .? '
* Well, Beatrice in The Cenci is the one I like
best. I don't like Juliet ; all that sort of
sentiment is such a delusion, you know. I
can't pretend to believe in it ; but there is a
real, terrible tragedy in Beatrice, you can't help
feeling it ; it takes hold of you, you can't escape
* The Cenci is very improper, isn't it } '
* I dare say ; I just read the play through once
to understand the part of Beatrice, I forget
about the details. I only know the fact that
she has a real, terrible wrong done her, which
makes her loathe herself and lose her wits for a
THE DANCING FAUN 57
while, that she revenges it, and is beheaded for
her crime just as life had become possible for
her, when the father that had poisoned the very-
air in which she grew up had ceased to live.
It seems to me that is the only really tragic
part ever written for a woman. Lady Macbeth
was a fiend, Juliet a baby.'
* Will you read some of it to me ? '
' No. I can't bear reading in a room, it is so
' But just quietly, to one person, surely that
' Well, perhaps I will. No, I '11 tell you what ;
if you like to come down to the river mead, I
will bring out the book and read a little of it
this afternoon. Now go ; I don't want the girl
to see us come in together.' He obediently
went on ahead. She sat on a stile for a
moment or two thinking. ' Suppose I go off ; sup-
pose I get an engagement, what then ? ' Lord
Kirkdale looked round as he turned the corner,
58 THE DANCING FAUN
which took him out of her sight. And she
wondered why he looked so heavy and sheep-
ish, and foolish.
In case my reader should get a wrong im-
pression of Lord Kirkdale, they must be here
informed that he was an extremely well made
young man, six feet one in height, thirteen stone
in weight, with fair hair and ruddy complexion ;
there was nothing comic or unseemly about
his appearance, but to a woman wjio had taken
it into her head to adore the type of man re-
presented by the Dancing Faun, no Hercules,
however laboriously devoted, need apply.
* Who is this dreadful ineligible man Robert
tells me was dining here the other night ? ' said
Maisy. She had been lunching at Davies
Street with her mother and sister, and the
three were sitting in the drawing-room.
* I don't think you need trouble about his
being detrimental, unless it is on mamma's
THE DANCING FAUN 59
account ; he devotes himself entirely to her/
Lady Kirkdale laughed. ' I was telling
Geraldine the other day, that in a few seasons
no woman this side of fifty will have a chance
* I wonder what the meaning of it is,' said
' Age has its advantages,' said Lady Kirk-
dale. * Besides, as Edgar Allen Poe says, " What
man truly loves in woman is her woman-
* That 's so true, dear mamma ; a womanly
woman can do anything she likes with a man,
the other sort sets his teeth on edge at once.'
*A womanly woman indeed,' broke out
Geraldine ; * it is only within the last few years
women have dared show their womanhood.
At last they are permitted to possess a small
quota of human nature ; they may be some-
thing more than waxen masks of doll-like
6o THE DANCING FAUN
acquiescence without disgracing themselves in
the eyes of the world.'
* My dear Geraldine, don't be so disgustingly
'You make me perfectly wild, Maisy. Do
you suppose all these questions haven't been
working in everybody's mind for the last fifty
years. You may be pretty sure they have, if
we have come to hear of them. I consider the
whole machinery of society to be especially
contrived to keep an influential set of people
sufficiently ignorant to effectually counter-
balance the work of men and women of genius,
who see clearly enough what the next stage
of progress will be ; and the mob would follow
them readily if the dead weight of authority^
and influence did not keep them back.'
* Mamma, what is becoming of her? My
dear Geraldine, you'll never get married if you
go on like this. You '11 have to take to lecturing
on temperance or something, like poor Emily.'
THE DANCING FAUN 6i
' I hate marriage ; I think it 's a degrading
bargain, which can only be carried out by un-
limited lying on both sides/
* Really, mamma ; why don't you speak to
' Because I can't deny the truth of what she
* But — look at Robert and me ! '
' Yes, look at you, that's just what I mean '
. * Geraldine, my dear, my dear, hush ! ' cried
Lady Kirkdale. *You mustn't talk like this,
you distress Maisy. And after all, you needn't
be so bitter about it. God knows, if you prefer
not to marry, I am not the woman to wish to
force you to it. You've been upset, hadn't
you better go and lie down ? '
'Oh no ! I 'm all right. One must speak
sometimes, one can't spend one's life grinning
like a Cheshire cat, and pretending one thinks
' Well, to change this very unpleasant subject,'
62 THE DANCING FAUN
said Maisy, * what is this Mr. George Travers
'He is tall and slight, I should say about
forty, with a careworn face and a charming
smile: he can dance, ride, scull, and play billiards
to perfection. There is no subject on which he
is not well informed, — in fact, if he were only
safely married, he would be a great acquisition
to society,' replied Lady Kirkdale.
* AndGeraldine is in love with him,' said Maisy.
' How dare you say such things ! ' cried
* When a girl, who is generally good-tempered,
becomes snappish and disagreeable, you may
be sure she is in love with a detrimental. The
detrimental is on the spot, you are snappish.
The situation is complete, my dear.'
Geraldine walked out of the room and banged
the door loudly.
* What is to be done about her, mamma ? '
* I must take her abroad, I suppose. Love is
THE DANCING FAUN 63
like bronchitis, a thorough change is the only-
At this moment Mr. Travers was announced.
* I must apologise for this untimely call ; but
I have just been at the club, and Lord Snorden-
ham was mentioning that he must send round
to tell you that his coach had to start half an
hour earlier for Hurlingham to-morrow than
was arranged. I said I should be passing your
door, and he commissioned me to deliver the
* Thank you very much. You are to be one
of us, then ? '
' I have that honour.'
' May I introduce you to my daughter, Lady
Maisy Potter. She has just returned from her
*0 mamma, don't give such a wrong im-
pression ! I must tell you, Mr. Travers, my
honeymoon lasted six months,' she said, turning
to him with an engaging smile.
64 THE DANCING FAUN
' It ought to last for ever,' he said, bowing.
* At anyrate it has agreed with you splendidly.'
' Oh, please don't say that ; I know I am
terribly sunburnt. It is so dreadful to come to
London looking so healthy, late in the season,
isn't it ?
* I am afraid my tastes are not sufficiently
aesthetic to allow me to appreciate a sickly
style of beauty.'
' I am so glad to hear you say that. It is
exactly what I think myself; only it doesn't
do nowadays to say anything you think, or
one might be taken for one of those dreadful
advanced people that are always clamouring
for free thought, and free speech, and free
everything. I feel it so very necessary to keep
on thinking just what is right and proper.
Our responsibilities as leaders of thought are
so grave. For we are the leaders of thought,
are we not, Mr. Travers ? '
'After a certain point necessarily so. Pro-
THE DANCING FAUN 65
gress is made in circles ; and if you stand still
long enough you will find yourself in the
'But/ said Lady Kirkdale, 'suppose it
doesn't come back to the same point exactly,
but goes onward in a spiral'
'That's the whole problem of life. Is it a
circle or a spiral ? ' said Travers.
* If it 's the latter I am sorry for all of us.'
' Oh, don't be afraid, mamma, life is very nice
as it is. We '11 take it for granted it 's a circle,
and sit still and not bother ourselves. Spirals
are such uncomfortable-looking things.'
The carriage was announced, and Lady
Kirkdale asked Travers to drive with them.
He did so, sitting next to Geraldine and
opposite Maisy. They dropped Maisy at the
hotel in Albemarle Street she and Mr.
Potter were staying at. Travers of course
escorted her in, and as they parted she hoped
he would accept the invitation to come to
66 THE DANCING FAUN
Cowes that her husband was going to send him
for the yacht-week.
When he re-entered the carriage he said to
Lady Geraldine, * I imagined your sisters were
all out of town.'
* So they were when we last spoke of them,
but Maisy and Mr. Potter returned last month.'
* Ah, I met Mr. Potter at your dinner-party
on Thursday, of course. I didn't know he was
' He is an odd man. He has inherited a
large fortune from his father. He is what I
call disgustingly rich ; he never seems to do
anything with his money. His chief pleasure
in life seems to be sitting still and thinking.'
* What does he think about ? '
* Nobody knows. I used to offer him a
penny for his thoughts last year, but he always
made one answer.'
' What was that ? '
* He only said, " My mind is a perfect blank." '
THE DANCING FAUN 6^
* Oh,' cried Lady Kirkdale, * that is like those
Indian people who sit contemplating their big
toes all day. What are they called ? '
* Do you mean the Yogis ? '
* Ah yes, that was it/
* I am never quite accurate about things.
You see, Geraldine, dear, it 's one of my womanly
* Are you going down to Cowes, Mr. Travers t
I think I heard Maisy asking you to join her
* Are you going ? '
* We have taken rooms in the hotel.'
*Then I shall certainly take advantage of
the proposal. That is, if Mr. Potter sends the
invitation. Does his mind ever cease to be a
* No one knows.'
It was the first Sunday in August. Lady
Kirkdale and Lady Geraldine Fitzjustin had
68 THE DANCING FAUN
gone to spend a few days in Essex with Mary,
the eldest daughter of the family, before pro-
ceeding to Cowes. Lord Kirkdale, left in
possession at Davies Street, had invited Travers
to dinner, and the two men were sitting in the
smoking-room ruminating over their cigars
and whisky and Seltzer. There had been a
long pause in the conversation when Kirkdale
suddenly looked up and said, ' Look here,
Travers, who is this girl down at the cottage ? '
* I Ve been waiting for that question for some
time ; I thought she must have told you her-
* Not a word.'
*Well, I think perhaps I ought to let you
know that she is secretly married to a very
dear friend of mine.'
* Ah, I knew it ; she is your wife.'
* Ha ! ha ! ha ! that 's good ; my dear fellow,
you never made such a mistake in your life.,
I may be foolish, but I'm not such a fool
THE DANCING FAUN 69
as to go and put my head into a noose like
*Travers, I don't believe you. I am sure
she loves you.'
* That 's quite possible/
* Look here, you think you 're a very clever
man ; you think you are deceiving the whole
world, because you can deceive a parcel of
women. But the time has come for a little
plain-speaking, old fellow. I know all about
you. Clausen has told me. He recognised you
that first day you called in Davies Street. He
was present when the card-party at Canning's
ended your career in London society. Since
then I have had many proofs of how a fellow
can go from bad to worse ; how a man who
begins with cheating at cards can end by pick-
ing up half-crowns from his friend's dressing-
table. No ! no ! old fellow, hitting me won't
put it right,' and he seized Travers by the
70 THE DANCING FAUN
* What are you going to do ? ' said Travers,
helpless and sullen in Kirkdale's powerful grasp.
* I am going to hear the truth about this girl.'
* And what else ? '
'Then I shall decide what to do. Who is
* My wife, you fool ! Now are you satisfied ? '
Kirkdale dropped his hands suddenly.
Travers walked over to the looking-glass,
settled his cuffs, and wiped his forehead. Then
he leaned his back against the mantel-piece
and surveyed Kirkdale, who had thrown him-
self into an armchair on the other side of the
room. After a pause he spoke.
* I need not tell you, Kirkdale, that I have long
foreseen this situation : I knew we should have
to come to an understanding sooner or later.'
* And you played your cards accordingly ? '
* There is no necessity to be so bitter about
it. When a man has absolutely nothing but
his wits to rely upon, he must cultivate them.
THE DANCING FAUN 71
Because I have acquired some skill in the
marshalling of events, I don't see that you need
reproach me. We all have our temptations.
Your father succumbed to the temptations
of idleness, I to the temptations of necessity.
I was brought up rather more luxuriously than
yourself, for my father's vices did not make
him bad-tempered ; your father's did, and that
always has a chastening effect upon a man's
offspring. As I was saying, no want of mine
was denied until I was practically cast on my
own resources, just at the age when one's tastes
are most expensive. I needn't tell you what it
means to be in a crack regiment with no private
income. I had not learnt how to make money
as a middleman, or by gambling on the stock
exchange ; the only resources open to me I took
advantage of and kept afloat for some time,
then luck deserted me and the crash came. I
went abroad ; I associated with men not fit to
black my boots. My life was a perfect hell.
72 THE DANCING FAUN
My God ! how do you suppose a man brought
up as I have been can earn enough to keep
him going in a way that makes life worth
living ? One must have at least five thousand a
year. Where is it to come from ?'
* Oh, go to the devil ! '
* Precisely, that is the only answer to my
question. I have been.'
Kirkdale rose and walked up and down the
room impatiently. He snapped his fingers.
* I don't care that for you. I am thinking of her.'
* I don't think that is at all a proper way to
talk to a man about his wife, my dear boy.'
* Oh, damn ! '
* By all means.'
Kirkdale walked towards Travers, who
looked him straight in the face. After a
prolonged stare they both burst out laughing.
* O what fools we are ! what fools we are ! *
cried Kirkdale almost hysterically, as he flung
himself into a chair.
THE DANCING FAUN 73
* Well, that 's agreed ; now let 's clear the
ground before us. You are in love with my
wife ; I am as much in love with her myself
as the holy estate of matrimony will permit
a man to be. She is in love with me,
and not with you, unless I am very much
*Yes, yes. I had no hope of that kind. I
don't know if you can understand or not, but I
would do anything on earth to save her pain
and to make her life happy.'
' The feeling does you honour, my dear boy.
It is one often roused by unrequited affection.
A woman who does not love you is always
an angel, a woman who does is often a
* Look here, Travers, don't keep her down in
that wretched hole any longer. Let her go on
* I can't do that, old fellow.'
74 THE DANCING FAUN
* I know too much about it. The stage isn't
a fit place for a woman unless she is a firstrate
actress ; she must be able to boss the show or
* But she could boss the show, she 'd be first-
* Not quite that, old fellow. I first saw her
on the stage ; I could see all she had in her at a
glance ; it wasn't good enough.'
* She has been on the stage, then ? '
* Yes ; you may have heard of her, there was
some talk of her early in the year. Grace
Lovell was her name.'
* I do vaguely remember hearing something
or other about her.'
* How long was she on the stage before you
met her ? '
*Five or six years, I think. She has been
working hard down in the country.'
* What at?'
*0h, reading things. I know I heard her
THE DANCING FAUN 75
read a bit of Shelley, which fetched me more
than anything I Ve ever heard on the stage.'
' Well, I '11 see what we can do — with her.'
* You may rely on me, if you want help.'
* Thanks, old fellow.'
* And in the meantime ? '
* We shall meet at Cowes on Monday. By-
the-bye, can I be of any use to you?' and
Kirkdale took out his pocket-book.
'Well, old man, if you like to make it a
pony this time it would be rather a weight
off my mind.'
Kirkdale handed over some notes. Travers
took them, folded them up deliberately, but-
toned his coat, took up his hat and stick, and
walked out of the room. He nodded pleasantly
to Kirkdale as he closed the door after him.
Kirkdale sat still for some time, then he
lighted a cigar and began to smoke. As he
was finishing it the footman tapped and asked
if he was at home to Mr. Clausen. Kirkdale
^6 THE DANCING FAUN
signified that he would see him, and Mr. Clausen
was shown up.
* Stephen, my boy,' he said, * this must be put
a stop to. I have just come round from the club,
and that fellow Travers came in and is hand
in glove with every one. Potter was there, and
they are sitting down to icart^. You know what
it will end in — there will be a devil of a row.'
* I can't help it, old fellow ; I have tied my
hands in the matter. I must let things take
their course. It won't hurt Robert if he does
lose his money.'
' But, my dear fellow, we can't possibly
countenance this sort of thing. A man must
draw the line somewhere, and I draw it at
conniving at '
*It's no use, I tell you. He must be left
alone ; at any rate, for the present.'
*Well, if nothing else will move you, I
suppose I shall have to tell you what I really
fear from him. He will marry your sister '
THE DANCING FAUN 77
* Oh no, he won't'
* You don't know her as well as I do. She is
a woman who will have her own way, what-
ever it costs.'
' He cannot marry her.'
' It is what he has been working for the
* You 're a fool ! ' yelled Stephen. * No, no,
no ! I dare say you 're right. I 've been
thinking about something else. I dare say
he 's capable of it. But I tell you she 's quite
safe. He is already married.'
* And therefore you consider she is quite safe.'
* She is my sister, sir.'
* And your father's daughter.'
'You will drive me wild between you all,'
* My dear boy, it 's for your own sake.'
' All the damnable things done under heaven
are done for my sake it would seem.'
* Have you no regard for duty .-* Would you
78 THE DANCING FAUN
like to see your sister fall a victim to this
swindler ? '
* She must be told he is married, of course.'
*And that he is a low. cad no gentleman
would associate with/
* Yes, Clausen, yes, anything you like — any-
thing you like. Be off with you and tell her
all you told me and all I have told you. Be
off now, no time like the present.'
' Stop a bit ! not so fast, my young friend. I
want a little more explanation from you first.
You say he is married. Where does he conceal
his wife ? '
* She is at Old Windsor.'
*You have made several excursions there
lately. What is she like ? '
* Oh, young and pretty ; much too good for
* Too vague, my boy, describe her.'
* I don't know how to describe her.'
* Well, is she dark or fair, tall or short ? '
THE DANCING FAUN 79
* She 's dark. No though, her hair is black
and curly, and her eyes are brown, but she has
a most beautifully fair complexion. As you sit
and watch her reading, you wonder which is
the whitest, the little bit of neck shown be-
hind her ear, or the white lawn stuff she ties
round her throat'
* Is she tall?'
' About a head shorter than I am ; I suppose
that is tallish for a woman. Yes, she's tall,
and very, very graceful. She walks beautifully,
makes you remember all the old bits of poetry
you learned at school.'
* How does he treat her ? '
* I don't know.'
* How 's that ? '
* I have never seen them together.'
' But '
* She lives at the cottage, he at the house.'
* He isn't married to her.'
* Oh yes, he is ; I made him confess.'
8o THE DANCING FAUN
* What was she ? '
* No good, of course.'
* He'd be making money out of her if she were.'
' Her name was Grace Lovell.'
'What! that little girl? Why, she's got
the makings of a great actress in her. How
comes he to be so shortsighted as to let her
remain idle ? '
' He tells me she 's not good enough.'
' Much he knows ! Why, she 's delicious ; so
fresh, so spontaneous. She'd take the town
in no time. How old is she ? '
' About twenty or twenty-one.'
'Well, to think that rascal has got hold of
her. I was wondering only the other day what
had become of her, and I asked Horsham what
made him part with her. He said she had
insisted on leaving, and he fancied she 'd gone
abroad with some man,'
THE DANCING FAUN 8i
* I wish to God she had ! Anything would
be better for her than being tied to such a devil
as that.' Then Kirkdale asked suddenly, * By
the way, didn't you say Travers was the son of
that old rascal Swanwick ? '
' Ah yes, capital actor he was ; we don't see
that sort of thing now. He knew his business
thoroughly, and did it. No high-falutin about
intellect, imagination, and rubbish of that sort.
He had the instinct here ' — and Mr. Clausen
thumped his chest, — * and let the new school say
what they like, that 's the place to find the link
between an actor and his audience.'
* That girl has it there too, if ever woman had,*
murmured Kirkdale dreamily. 'You should
hear her read Shelley.'
* Shelley, nonsense ! she's a comedy actress.
No doubt she has the touch of pathos necessary
for that line ; but no power, no passion.'
' She may have altered since you saw her,
she 's very young.'
82 THE DANCING FAUN
'Yes, that's possible. It happened in the
case of Decles. You sometimes do get a sur-
prise from a woman in that way.'
* Now, Clausen, like a good fellow, think over
what 's to be done. I am determined to get her
back on the stage. Shall I take a theatre for her?'
* What nonsense ! As things are at present, you
might just as well chuck your capital into the
gutter. She won't draw until she 's done a good
deal more hard work, and if you gave him such an
opportunity, Travers would spend your money
for you and she 'd get none of the benefit'
* No, the first step is evidently to get rid of
* That is very easily done. I have only to
say what I know.'
* I wonder if he has anything up his sleeve :
he 's always vaguely hinting that certain person-
ages are at his mercy,' said Kirkdale.
* Very likely he has a whole bundle of scurri-
lous gossip at his finger-ends ; but after all it
THE DANCING FAUN 83
doesn*t very much matter, people say all they can
now, and no respectable paper gives currency to
these things. Such stories serve two purposes :
they give the radicals something to talk about,
and add considerably to the popular interest.
" One touch of nature makes the whole world
kin," and the poor sinner in the street feels his
heart go out to the weaknesses of the great, in
a way never to be invoked by the mere pomp-
ous exterior of public ceremonial/
* But think of the effect on public opinion.'
* My dear boy, when Burke said a country
was ruled by its public opinion, he was right.
The only difficulty about it is that the real
public opinion is never expressed ; what is
expressed is what each man or woman thinks
his or her neighbours consider ought to be his
or her opinion. But to return to Grace Lovell ;
what do you suppose she would do if her
husband was sent back into limbo ? '
* I 'm terribly afraid she 'd go with him.'
84 THE DANCING FAUN
*Have you ever discussed the position with
* She does not even know I am aware of the
marriage, she has kept her own counsel ; all
she has said to me was, that she was anxious
to go on the stage.'
* Let 's go down and find out about her. I
want a little country air, and have nothing on
earth to do on Monday.'
* I was going down to Cowes, but I'm sick of
the function there ; if I go down on Tuesday or
Wednesday I shall see all I want,' said Kirkdale.
* Agreed ; well, I '11 be off. Find out the best
train, and call for me in the morning.'
A loud knock at the front door delayed
Clausen's contemplated departure. He looked
at his watch and said, * By Jove, it 's two o'clock !
We'd better open the door, the servants will
be in bed.'
Potter was standing on the doorstep. He
entered, and said, * Sorry to disturb you, but
THE DANCING FAUN 85
it 's rather important I should see you at once,
Clausen offered to go. Potter stopped him,
saying, 'It doesn't signify. It'll be all over
the place to-morrow. Only I thought I owed
it to Kirkdale here to warn him.'
* Well, come in ; sit down and have a smoke.'
* I don't mind if I do ; I want to settle my-
self a little. To tell the truth, we 've had a hell
of a row.'
*Ah!' said Kirkdale, feeling his blood run
cold, * it 's all out, then ? '
'What, you knew? And you allowed such
a man to associate with your mother and
sisters. You must be mad.'
* Yes, I suppose I am. What has occurred ? *
* I suspected Travers, from the first time I
saw him. Then Maisy came home charmed
with him. You'll pardon my saying so, but I
always regard that as a bad sign ; I find she
has a natural affinity for rogues.'
S6 THE DANCING FAUN
* I admit it. I am no exception. I am no
doubt a rogue myself, but that doesn't make
me inclined to tolerate other rogues. I met
this Travers at the club two or three times, and
I noticed him playing at cards. To-night I
proposed a game of /cart/y and gave him a good
chance for his particular little game. I caught
him in the very act, and, as I have said, there
was a devil of a row.'
* What has become of him ? '
* Well, after we had made it sufficiently clear
to him that we did not desire more love and
knowledge of him, he went out into the void.
I followed shortly after and came here, thinking
he possibly might have come to give you his
version of the affair, and there might be
another chance of wigs on the green. My
blood 's up now. That 's the worst of a nature
like mine. Just as I get thoroughly roused and
interested everything is over. And my blood
THE DANCING FAUN 87
has to simmer down again in a desolation of
peace and good humour.'
* He hasn't been here. But I'll tell you what,
Potter, I 'd have given a thousand pounds not
to have had this happen to-night.*
*I'm very sorry, Kirkdale, but next time
you propose to bring a cardsharper and black-
guard into your family circle you had better
take us into your confidence, so that we can
have some common basis of operations. Good
night, Clausen. Good night, Stephen. Better
luck next time, eh ! '
Grace Lovell was lying asleep when a
hansom cab drove up. Travers opened the door
of the cottage with a latch-key, and bursting
into her room told her to give him a couple of
sovereigns without delay. She scrambled up,
opened her little desk, and produced the money.
He paid his cab, then came in, sat down
heavily on the side of the bed, and breathed
88 THE DANCING FAUN
hard for a moment or two. Suddenly he fell
forward on the floor. She sprang to his side,
wetted his face, loosened his collar, held
smelling salts to his nose, but for a long time
it seemed to her his heart had altogether ceased
to beat. Presently he moved slightly, and she
renewed her efforts to revive him, calling him
by all the endearing terms she could think of.
At last he put out his arm and held her
gently against him, whispering that she was
his darling wife. She nestled close to him and
kept perfectly still, waiting for him to speak.
After a long time he opened his eyes and sat
up ; she begged him to lie down on the bed,
which he did, but it was some time before he
spoke. Then he said, * It's all up, Gracie, I 'm
a ruined man. I shall have to go away.'
* What has happened, my dearest ? '
*They have done for me between them.
You know I told you that I knew a good deal
more than some people would like to set
THE DANCING FAUN 89
about ; well, they came to hear of it, and they
have made use of one of their agents, a despic-
able man, to ruin me in the eyes of society.
He induced me to play ecarte with him ; he
manipulated the cards in such a way that I
should appear to be cheating ; then he denounced
me before the whole club, and they believed
him. I had to go.'
*0 George, why didn't you turn the tables
on him, and tell them what he had done ? '
* My dear child, it's no use a woman supposing
she can understand these things ; you must take
what I tell you on trust; don't keep making idiotic
suggestions, and asking idiotic questions. I tell
you it was so, that should be enough for you.'
* Yes, George. What are you going to do ? '
* God knows.'
* Are you sure you didn't do it ? '
* Didn't what } '
90 THE DANCING FAUN
* Didn't cheat'
* Of course not, of course not ! Oh, do go to
sleep. I've talked until I'm wearied out. I
shall go up to the house now.'
' Are you well enough ? '
* Don't bother,' and he went out banging the
door after him. He lay in bed all day on
Monday. About five o'clock he ordered some
tea, and played with little Pierre, then he got
up and dined. He did not go down to the
cottage until about ten o'clock. He found
Grace busily engaged packing up. He lounged
in, and said, * What are you doing ? *
* I am going up to London.'
* I am going back to Horsham's Theatre.'
* No, you are not'
*Yes, I am.'
' How dare you speak to me like this ? '
* Because I dare speak to any one like this,
when I do not love them.'
THE DANCING FAUN 91
* Oh ! oh ! that 's it, is it ? We '11 see,' and he
came towards her threateningly.
She stood perfectly still, looking straight
into his eyes. He dropped his hands and sat
down, saying sneeringly, ' I always thought
women were brutes, now I see it's perfectly
* Yes,' she said, * women are brutes. If you
had loved me, if you had believed in me, and
trusted me last night, nothing would have made
me leave you. I should not have cared if you
had been a thief, or a murderer perhaps.'
Here he interrupted her.
'Oh, don't let us have all these heroics. I
know it all : you 'd go to hell for me, wouldn't
you, as long as I feed your insatiable passion
for admiration ? I 'm sick of women and their
melodramas.' She stood still looking at him.
' I '11 just tell you the plain facts of the case,' he
continued more calmly. ' Our love was of that
resistless kind, brought about when the appetite
92- THE DANCING FAUN
is so strong that every other faculty, all
prudence, all considerations of every sort, are
thrust on one side to gratify it. I admit it is a
very charming state of things for the parties
concerned, while it lasts, but it does not last
long. Our delirium is over. You are a woman
full of dreams and imaginations ; you worry me
with the persistent foolishness of your ideas and
ideals. I am a man who knows all the moves,
and the long and short of it is that I know how
to play the game ; you do not'
' I shall soon learn, and perhaps my game
will not be such a losing one as yours has been.'
* No one can tell, but the game is over sooner
or later, and then it doesn't matter much
whether you have lost or won, the pleasure is
in the game itself
* Perhaps it does matter.'
*I don't think so. What really matters is
letting your chessmen rule you, that is what all
mediocre people do.'
THE DANCING FAUN 93
* Why have you never talked seriously to me
before ? '
' Because you were in love with me/
'What a horribly unscrupulous wretch you
* In his relations with women a man has to
act two parts : at first he must be Adam,
young, ardent, and resistless, then he must be
the serpent, able to teach her all wisdom of
* And is neither part a serious one ? '
* That depends upon the woman. Now we '11
talk things, over quietly. You want to go back
to Horsham's Theatre ? '
' But it 's no use your going on as you used
' No. I know I was very bad, but I think I
shall be better now.'
* Well, let 's see what you 've got in you, and
then I shall know what is to be done.'
94 THE DANCING FAUN
He put her through the balcony scene in
Romeo and Juliet^ making her cry with his
severity, torturing her, and finding fault in every
possible way with her efforts to express the
feeling of the words she uttered At the end
of it she stood hopeless and dumfoundered at
the new world opening before her. For the first
time it dawned on her what acting really
meant. She looked timidly at Travers. He
was sitting in a chair watching her doubtfully.
He said, *Yes, that's very good. You work
away at that, and we '11 do them all yet'
*You think I can go back to Horsham's
*No, I do not. But I'll tell you what we
will do. I '11 run you through the States as a
star, and then I '11 bring you over to England as
a new American actress. We '11 do them yet'
* But who is to pay ? '
*I'll find the money, don't you worry your
head about that.'
THE DANCING FAUN 95
^ nt * * *
On the following Tuesday the waiter at the
Crown Hotel, Cowes, respectfully informed
Lady Kirkdale that Mr. Potter had sent the
pinnace of the Sunflower to convey their
ladyships on board.
* I suppose, as Kirkdale hasn't arrived yet,
you and I will have to go by ourselves,' said
* It 's a very funny thing he should suddenly
change his mind and leave us in the lurch like
* Perhaps Mr. Travers will be able to give us
some information ; he is to be with the Potters
to-day, I believe.'
* I thought he would have called on us this
morning. I didn't understand, Maisy, that he
was to stay on board with them. Don't you
think it 's rather odd of the Potters to ask him
to stay there when Kirkdale hasn't anywhere
to go to ? '
96 THE DANCING FAUN
' A great many things in this life are odd, my
dear, and I 'm afraid my thinking won't alter
them, so I don't trouble my head.'
As Geraldine climbed the side of the yacht
she looked in vain for Travers.
*What has happened to everybody?' she
said to Maisy the moment she could take her
* Why ? what have you heard ? ' asked Maisy
* Nothing. Kirkdale has not sent a word
of explanation. I thought we should get an
explanation from Mr. Travers, but he is not
* Come down to my cabin a minute,' said
Maisy, leading the way into an exceedingly
shipshape-looking little apartment, full of the
typical multum in parvo contrivances which
have been invented for the convenience of those
who have little space at command. They sat
down on the locker, and Maisy began —
THE DANCING FAUN 97
'A dreadful thing has happened, and I
don't know how to break it to mamma, I 'm
* To whom ? '
' Of course, I think Kirkdale terribly to
blame for not making sure first '
' What are you talking of? Is Kirkdale dead?'
' No, no, what nonsense ! I mean he should
have made sure of Mr. Travers.'
' Good God, Maisy ! you will drive me mad.
Is Mr. Travers dead ? Say yes or no.'
' Perhaps it would be better if he were.'
'Has he had an accident? Is Kirkdale
nursing him ? '
* I tell you he 's quite well. You won't let
me explain properly what has happened.'
'Go on,' said Geraldine, in a dull, toneless
' He played a game of /carte with Robert at
the club on Saturday night, and Robert found
out that he was cheating him.'
98 THE DANCING FAUN
'What did Robert do?'
* Well, he watched him very carefully, and
when he was quite sure he got up and told him
he would not play any more with him.'
* Then what happened ? '
' The members of the club were very angry,
I believe, and agreed that Mr. Travers should
not be re-admitted.'
* I think Robert behaved abominably.'
* I think he owed it to Kirkdale to shield his
friend. What does it matter whether a man
cheats at cards or not ? Everybody cheats, at
other things besides cards, in their own par-
' My dear Geraldine, how often have I told
you we must take things as we find them ? It
is considered wrong for men to cheat at cards,
and it disgraces them. It is not considered
very wrong for women to cheat at cards ;
people rather expect it, and laugh at it. It 's
THE DANCING FAUN 99
no use arguing about it It is so, and there 's
an end of it'
* Why should there be one law for men and
another for women ? '
* I don't know, I dare say there are some
things winked at in a man which would not
be permitted to women. I don't know what
they are, but one never can tell.'
* What will Mr. Travers do ? '
* O Maisy, how dreadful ! I expect he is
terribly hard up. Can't we help him ? '
* I expect Kirkdale is seeing after him.
Kirkdale is very foolish. It is a great pity he
has not turned out better. He is such a very
' I don't think Mr. Travers handsome, if you
are talking of him ; but there was a sort of
pleasure in his society I never felt with any
* Yes, he had a charm, there is no doubt of that.'
100 THE DANCING FAUN
* You think so. You felt it too. O Maisy,
Maisy, whatever shall I do ? ' Lady Geraldine
broke down into passionate sobs. ' I am a
fool! What shall I do? what shall I do?'
* My poor dear Gerry, don't cry; I didn't know
it was as serious as all this. I took a great
fancy to him myself, but I don't feel as badly
as you do, thank goodness.'
' I know he is the only man in the world I
could ever care for,' sobbed Geraldine.
' Try and think of somebody else.'
' I hate everybody else. If I think of other
people, it is only to think of the difference be-
tween him and them. He is so graceful, they
are so proper. He always has something
charming to Say, they always say the things one
has heard over and over again. He is like the
Dancing Faun, they are like a tailor's block.
Oh, what is the use of saying all this? He
makes my heart beat with happiness when I
THE DANCING FAUN loi
only hear his footstep. When I touch other
men my blood turns cold, and my heart turns
' Geraldine, Geraldine, you are really dread-
ful. I 'm sure it isn't at all proper to feel like
that. I never felt so about Robert. I always
liked other people. Of course, one feels that
one's husband is one's husband. But still '
' I never thought I felt like this till to-day ;
I didn't realise it before : it has come upon me
suddenly. It is as if I had been swimming
about in beautiful blue water, and suddenly
found myself being sucked down by a whirl-
* Don't you think we had better ask mamma
about it ? I really don't know what to advise.'
* Not on any account. Swear to me you
will not breathe a word of this to any one.
I shall get over it. Don't be afraid. See now,
I will bathe my eyes and come upstairs.'
Geraldine soon effaced all traces of her emo-
I02 THE DANCING FAUN
tion, except a slight redness about the whites
of her eyes, and the two sisters went on deck.
Robert Potter had in the meantime com-
municated the news to Lady Kirkdale, who
was sitting under a large Japanese umbrella
looking unusually perturbed. Geraldine took
her place under the awning and was soon sur-
rounded with a group of merrymakers, and she
laughed and talked and picnicked, drank cham-
pagne, and made feeble jokes, quite as gaily as
the rest. However, directly she got back to
the hotel she told her mother her head ached.
She went and shut herself up in her room.
Here she wrote the following letter : —
'Dear Mr. Travers, — I am so sorry, so
very sorry, for what has happened. I have
been afraid you were in money difficulties
for some time. Will you give me the happi-
ness of helping you out of them? Believe
me, you have my deepest sympathy. I don't
believe in society, or any of its laws. I enclose
THE DANCING FAUN 103
twenty-five pounds in notes, hoping you will
accept them as a proof that I will do any-
thing I can to extricate you from the diffi-
culties in which you are involved. — Yours
always sincerely, Geraldine Fitzjustin.'
She took the letter to the post herself. It was
almost the first time in her life she had left the
house unattended. She felt that every one must
know what she was doing, that she was being
watched, and that the post-office clerk guessed
the reason of her sending a registered letter. At
last she completed the business, and putting the
tell-tale little flimsy receipt-paper in her purse,
she hurried back to the hotel. Just as she
entered it she encountered Lord Kirkdale and
Mr. Clausen, who had that moment arrived.
' Out alone, Lady Geraldine ? '
* Yes, what is one to do when one's brother
deserts one like this ? '
* Your maid ? '
' Gone out herself ; she didn't expect us back
104 THE DANCING FAUN
so soon, I suppose ; we have been on board the
Sunflower all the afternoon, you know/
* Have you heard the news ? ' asked Kirkdale
as they entered the private sitting-room.
' Yes ; what has become of Mr. Travers ? Is
heat Old Windsor?'
* He is.'
She sighed with relief.
'Clausen and I went down yesterday and
arranged to get his wife something to do.'
* His wife ! '
* Oh ! didn't you know that he was married } I
thought you said you had heard the news.'
* Married } married ? When ? who to ? '
* About three months ago : a most beautiful
girl. You may have heard of her — Grace Lovell
— she was an actress.'
' I don't remember,' said Geraldine, in a be-
wildered tone. 'What did you say? Why
didn't he tell us ? '
* I can't say. It 's all very ugly, on the face
THE DANCING FAUN 105
of it ; and I tell you what, Geraldine, I 've come
to the conclusion that he 's one of the biggest
villains on earth. I did you all a terrible
wrong in bringing him to the house. I have
to ask your forgiveness.'
She looked at her brother a long time, and
the tears gathered in her eyes ; then she
turned away, and hastily entered her own room.
Here she found her maid laying out her
clothes for the evening. ^
* Never mind now, Elizabeth, I want to lie
down quietly.' As she spoke she crossed to her
writing-desk and her eyes fell on a sheet of note-
paper on which she had scribbled the first wild
words that had come into her head when she
sat down to write to George Travers. There
they were, staring her in the face, * My dearest,
dearest one on earth, I have heard of your ruin.
Come and let me see you once more. I will
give you all I have to enable you to ' ; then
she had stopped herself and written the more
io6 THE DANCING FAUN
moderate note for his eyes, leaving her real
passionate words, the words which had been
the expression of her inmost feelings, for the
eyes of her maid.
She turned to look at the woman, but found
she was calmly taking her wrapper out of the
wardrobe. Had she seen or not ? No trace was
visible on her face. Geraldine sat down in
front of the glass, and said, ' You can wash my
head, Elizabeth ; I think it will refresh me.'
The woman made all the preparations.
While she had gone for hot water, Geraldine
seized the incriminating note and tore it into a
thousand pieces. She had just time to thrust
it behind the grate and walk quietly across the
room when the maid^ re-entered. Her eye fell for
a moment on the writing-table. ' She has read
it,' thought Geraldine. She sat quite still for a
long time ; then she said, * What should you say
if I were to marry Lord Foreshort after all,
Elizabeth ? '
THE DANCING FAUN 107
Elizabeth started visibly.
* I should hope your ladyship would be very
happy, I 'm sure.'
' Why were you so surprised ? '
* I didn't think your ladyship seemed willing
to take him before.*
There was a long pause while her hair was
washed, and Elizabeth was rubbing vigorously
when Lady Geraldine said, ' How is your poor
sister now ? '
* The one that was deceived so cruelly ^ '
*Yes. The one that fell in love with a
' Well, your ladyship, I didn't like to tell you
after all your kindness to her in finding her
that place and all, but I 'm very much afraid
she 's gone off to America with him.'
* Really ! She has done that, has she ? '
* I was afraid your ladyship would be
annoyed, so I didn't mention it. But she dis-
appeared, and some time afterwards I had a
io8 THE DANCING FAUN
letter from her, telling me about how he had
got a bit of land out in Canada, and she had
joined him there.*
' And what were they doing ? '
* I 'm sorry to say, they seemed doing very
well ; she wrote most bright and cheerful like.
I must beg your ladyship's pardon for saying
it, but they do say the wicked flourish like
green bay trees, don't they, your ladyship ? '
* I suppose they do, sometimes ; but don't be
sorry they are happy, Elizabeth.'
* No, your ladyship.'
' Elizabeth, I want you to bring all the letters
that come for me into my bedroom. Tell the
waiter to give them to you.'
' Yes, your ladyship.'
* You 'd better have that black silk petticoat ;
it will be nice and cool for you to wear, and
I shall keep to white all the rest of the
* Yes, your ladyship.*
THE DANCING FAUN 109
' Now I will lie down ; don't let me be dis-
turbed until it is time to dress for dinner.'
* No, your ladyship.'
'A telegram for your ladyship,' said Elizabeth
as Geraldine entered her bedroom about twelve
o'clock next morning to get ready for a stroll
on the beach.
* All right. I shall not want you for a minute
or two.' Elizabeth discreetly left the room.
She opened the brown envelope, took out the
flimsy pink paper, and read, ' Have started for
Portsmouth. Will write. Travers.'
That she could not prevent, that she could
do nothing to stop, him coming was a thought
that filled her with exultation. He was getting
nearer and nearer every moment ; and what was
more, she was to have a letter from him — it
\/ould arrive that evening by the last post
perhaps ; if not, certainly in the morning. Then
she thought of his being married, but it made
no THE DANCING FAUN
no difference ; she knew he had married
before he saw her, that was all that really
mattered to her. She rang for Elizabeth, and
crushing the telegram up put it into the front
of her dress. She dressed, and went out in the
highest spirits. She was charming to every
one, and made herself so agreeable that Lord
Foreshort felt quite encouraged. He said,
* How well this climate agrees with you ! '
* Doesn't it. It is exactly the sort of place
I like : plenty of life about, and at the same
time everything is clean, and spick and
* It's perfect. Our tastes are so alike.'
*You are always saying that, Lord Fore-
* I am always thinking it. Lady Geraldine.'
* Then you have no time to think about your
tastes ? '
* No, I am always thinking of yours.
' So am I.'
THE DANCING FAUN in
' There, I told you we agreed.'
'Well, that's settled. Now let us talk of
something else.' ^
' When will you begin to let me hope.'
' You are hoping now, are you not ? '
' Do you really mean it ? '
' Mean what ? '
' That I may hope ? '
* I can't prevent you hoping, can I ? '
' Yes, you know you can.'
* Well, I 've tried to a good many times.'
' But you will give up trying now, won't you ?
Take another tack.'
'Very well. You have hoped without my
permission the whole of the London season ;
you can hope with my permission during the
shooting season, then perhaps you will be sick
* Yes, I shall claim my reward then.'
' Ah ! that 's " another story." We mustn't get
on too fast.'
112 THE DANCING FAUN
That evening the expected letter arrived. It
ran thus —
^ 'Dear Lady Geraldine, — You have re-
stored my belief in the human race. I have
indeed received a crushing blow from your
brother-in-law, and it is not fitting that I should
inform you of the true facts of the case. Honour
seals my lips. But although it is forbidden to
me to justify myself in your eyes without
degrading those who must ever be first in
your esteem, your generous letter emboldens
me to ask you to believe me, on my bare
word, that things are not as they, no doubt,
have been represented to you. I am coming
to Portsmouth so as to hold myself in readi-
ness to obey any commands you may care to
issue to your most devoted adorer,
Geraldine wondered a good deal over this
letter, but all the same she wore it next her
heart for four days. She wrote in reply —
THE DANCING FAUN 113
* Dear Mr. Travers, — I can't think of any
way of seeing you here, but next Monday we
go to our place near Ringwood. If you will
put up at the village hotel there, I will write
and let you know what I can arrange. — Yours
most sincerely, G. F.'
On Sunday she took a long walk with a
party of friends. She and Mr. Clausen were
ahead. Mr. Clausen knew the island well,
and had undertaken to act as pioneer. By
degrees she led the conversation to the subject
which occupied so many of her thoughts, and
Clausen found himself giving her a full account
of what had taken place at Old Windsor the
* Kirkdale and I went down to Datchet and
drove to Old Windsor: there we found Mrs.
Travers occupying a little cottage, pretty enough
in its way, but only fit for a labouring man, —
the chairs covered and windows hung with
114 THE DANCING FAUN
white dimity, an old oak settle, and so on.
You know the kind of thing.'
'What is she like?'
* An exceedingly pretty, dark, slight woman.
She is very young ; but she gives you an extra-
ordinary impression of knowing her own mind
* What is her version of their life together ? '
She spoke of nothing but her great desire to
go on the stage again ; he has been preventing
her doing so, all this time. They appear to have
been exceedingly happy together otherwise.'
* Do you believe he really loves her ? '
' He must have, I should think ; there seems
to have been no other reason why he should
marry her ? '
* He may have liked her at first, but perhaps
she is a shallow sort of person. I should think
he wanted a very deep nature to sympathise
* I don't think she is shallow ; but you mustn't
THE DANCING FAUN 115
forget, when you talk of depth of character,
the thinnest sheet of gold-leaf is a good deal
more valuable than a whole bogful of mud.'
' And is she going back to the stage now ? '
* We promised to arrange it for her. Horsham
is a great friend of mine. She made her success
with him, and he was delighted to hear she was
ready to come back again ; but now '
' What ? ' said Lady Geraldine.
*Well, I fear her husband has found out
what a little gold-mine she may become. She
wrote to me yesterday, saying he had been
coaching her in some leading parts, and pro-
posed touring with her in the States if he
can get some capital to start them.'
* But isn't he fearfully hard up now ? '
* A man like that is never without resources ;
if he cannot get money out of men, he can get
it out of women.'
* O Mr. Clausen, how dreadful that sounds ! '
'Lady Geraldine, I beg your pardon. I
ii6 THE DANCING FAUN
should not have said such a thing to you ;
* No, Mr. Clausen, I beg of you, don't think
I am so absurd ; girls hear of all sorts of things
nowadays. I want to know what you really
think Mr. Travers will do.'
' He will do anything that he thinks most
likely to bring in a quick return.'
'But what is his object? His tastes are so
fastidious. I cannot imagine his being content
to mix with actors and actresses for the rest
of his life, they are such flashy, noisy people.
Whenever one sees any very disagreeable set
at Henley or Lords, one is always told they
' Yes, that is the phrase, of course ; still, in
justice to the profession, I must say that a
great many actresses go about quite as dowdily
as the royal family. There is no distinctive
badge which can be applied to all the members
of the profession.'
THE DANCING FAUN 117
* But I cannot imagine Mr. Travers tolerating
anything that isn't in the best taste.'
' He no doubt prefers everything about him
to be of the best ; but as he has effectually cut
himself off from it by being twice caught in
the act of cheating at cards, he will have to
satisfy himself with the second best now.'
' Tell me what is a man's real feeling about
this cheating at cards. Why is it the most
terrible sin he can commit ? It seems to me,
from hearing people talk, that it is quite
possible to break every one of the command-
ments without losing a single acquaintance,
but directly you commit this particular crime
the whole world cuts you.'
* I will explain. You know among the Arabs
there is another unwritten law, that you may
kill or destroy the property of any man who
annoys you ; but if you have once eaten salt
with him, you must hold your hand, whatever
provocation you may receive. All these things
ii8 THE DANCING FAUN
are a sign of a bond that exists between
certain members of the community. Cards are
to the European what salt is to the Arabian.
They are the sacred symbol of fidelity ; and any
man who does not feel this must be cast out*
* But why ? it seems such an arbitrary thing.*
' I can't help that. We have all been brought
up to believe that it is a beastly thing to betray
our friends ; and a man must be regarded as a
friend from the moment you sit down to a
game of chance with him.'
' Well, I don't believe I shall ever understand ;
but perhaps women have no moral sense.'
'Exactly what I have always said, Lady
Geraldine. The only safe place for a woman
is under lock and key, and even then you
ought to stop up the keyhole with sealing-wax.'
* It is because we are kept under lock and
key that we don't care what we do. We feel we
are unjustly treated, and that we have a perfect
right to cheat, and lie, and prevaricate. It is
THE DANCING FAUN 119
the only means of retaliation we have. Oh, I
wonder if the time will ever come when we
shall get fair play.'
' No, it will not ; I can tell you that much.
No man or woman, from the Queen down to
the beggar who spends the night on a door-
step, gets fair play. There isn't a single human
being in all the world who hasn't been kept
back from doing all he might by other people,
or by circumstances of one sort or another.
This place is meant for a struggle ; and the
only way to get through it comfortably is to
cultivate a taste for struggling.'
' I 'm sure you know you needn't say that to
me, Mr. Clausen.'
* Yes, you struggle a little — too much, in fact ;
for the secret of all success is to discern the
difference between the possible and the im-
possible. Turn your back on the impossible,
and make steadily for the possible.'
* O Mr. Clausen, how wise you sound now !
120 THE DANCING FAUN
I wish I had been there to see when you were
* I wish you had. You would no doubt have
found me quite foolish enough to please youthen.'
*And did you turn your back on the im-
possible ? '
' And are you glad you did ? '
*Ah, I knew that.'
*It is perfectly true, a temptation resisted
gives you no pleasure ; but that does not pre-
vent a temptation yielded to giving you an in-
* Oh, that sounds so like a copy-book, I am
sure it can't be true.'
* What do you mean ? '
* Mr. Clausen, can't you understand what it
is when a girl grows up and finds out bit by
bit everything she has been taught and told
is a pack of lies.'
THE DANCING FAUN 121
* But surely your mother '
' No, no, it isn't my mother ; it's the governesses,
it 's the nurses, it 's the silly novels, it *s other
girls. It makes me shudder when I think
what a world of shams I 'm living in, and what
a sham I am myself.'
* My dear child, I fear I have only one con-
solation to offer you, and that is, that you would
shudder a good deal more if you for one moment
saw the truths which underlie these shams.'
* You talk as if the world was a pest-house.
Surely we are some of us beautiful ; we are not
all diseased and horrible.'
* One hears a good deal about the beauty of
life ; but I am very much afraid you will find
in the long run that the beauty of life is like
the beauty of a lady's complexion — very fleet-
ing, or else sham.'
'There I have cornered you, Mr. Clausen.
There's a beauty about a gypsy's skin which
isn't fleeting, and which is very real ; and it is
122 THE DANCING FAUN
beautiful, just because it is exposed to the sun
and the rain. In a word, freedom is beauty,
and gives beauty.'
*Well, perhaps there's something in what
you say ; but I don't think you 'd find gypsies
very satisfactory companions at close quarters.'
* I should like to get a chance of seeing for
'Take my advice, and don't. I am sure
your tastes are too fastidious for such realities
as that,' said Mr. Clausen, laughing. Here the
rest of the party came up, conversation ceased,
and chatter reigned in its stead.
Lady Geraldine's mind was much perturbed
by her conversation with Clausen. She doubted
Travers, but felt she must see him, she must
get some sort of proof herself Poor girl ! after
all her outcry, she was only a very ordinary
woman, wrapped up in her own little chaos of
emotions and foolish little thoughts. She
THE DANCING FAUN 123
thought it would be a splendid thing to sacrifice
herself for love. Mediocrity was her bugbear,
just as it has been the bugbear of thousands of
other mediocre people, and she was ready to
take the most desperate measures to escape
from it. The only way she could think of to
show how different she was from the rest of
her sex was to cultivate her instincts and let
them lead her whither they would. To over-
come the world and remain a slave to your own
passions has been the ideal of all the splendid
failures of history, but she only recognised their
splendour, and did not stop to consider their
defeat. So, with her mind strung up to a high
pitch of romantic passion, Lady Geraldine went
to meet Travers in the Kirkdale woods.
She found him leaning against a tree cleaning
a horseshoe he had just picked up. His little fox-
terrier was running about smelling the rabbit-
holes and following trails with a suspicious and
preoccupied air, as if he was not quite sure
124 THE DANCING FAUN
whether these joys were permitted to him or
not. He ran forward to see who Geraldine
was, and licked her hand ; then he hung his
head and ran back to his master and sat down
by his side. Travers looked up ; he had not
seen Geraldine approach, and he said, *So
you have actually come to see the last of the
' Is it the last ? Is it true that you are going
to America to act ? '
He started a little, wondering how this could
have come to her knowledge, but recovered
himself quickly. 'There seems nothing else
left for me to do.'
' But if there was ? '
* I would gladly take the alternative.'
' I thought so ; I didn't believe you could
willingly take up that sort of life.'
* Indeed you are right there. What an angel
you are to come here like this ! I can't think
how I deserved such a thing.'
THE DANCING FAUN 125
* I don't know whether you deserve it or not,
and I don't care much : I have come because
I love you, and because '
He took the hand she held out to him and
kissed it ; she put her other hand round his neck,
and he kissed her lips. Then feeling he had
done all that was expected of him, he was about
to gallantly release her, when he found she was
almost fainting in his arms.
' By George, this is serious,' he murmured,
and he led her to a felled tree, sat her down on
it, and went to look for some water. When
he returned he found she was calmer.
He had a little pocket flask with him and
had filled the cup with water. She refused to
drink, but dipped her finger in it and wiped
her forehead. Then he sat down by her side,
and she leant on his shoulder and said —
'What shall we do? Will you come away
from England with me, or shall we stay
here ? '
126 THE DANCING FAUN
' Whichever you think best ; your wishes are
' Well, I '11 tell you exactly how I stand. I
have eight hundred pounds a year now, and
shall have four hundred pounds a year more
when mamma dies. It is settled on me, and
they cannot take it from me whatever I
* Ah ! ' he said, ' in the hands of trustees, I
* Yes, that is the worst of it : I cannot touch
' But, dear Lady Geraldine, have you ever
considered what it would be for two people to
try and live on eight hundred pounds a year ? '
* I know it would be very difficult, but I am
willing to try anything if it will save you from
that dreadful life. We could take a flat in
Venice or Florence, and you would have to be
divorced ; then we could be married, and no
one would mind in a few years.'
THE DANCING FAUN 127
* I am sure you would regret it, if you took
such a step.'
* I should never regret it. I hate this life in
England. We would have a beautiful home,
and then we could come to your place at Old
* That is not my house.*
' Not your house ! what do you mean ? '
* It belongs to a friend of mine ; he asked me
to take it' Travers stopped himself, and for
once in his life, by a supreme effort, told the
truth. * I mean he offered to lend it me be-
cause he was going away. You don't know
what a poor devil I am, Lady Geraldine.'
' Don't call me by that hateful title. And so
you have been very, very poor. Why, my
wretched little eight hundred pounds a year
will seem quite a lot of money to you. I am so
glad you know what it is to be poor.'
' I can't deny that poverty and I are old bed-
fellows, Lady Geraldine ; but all the same '
128 THE DANCING FAUN
' Why are you hesitating ? '
* Well, it sounds rather ungrateful ; but I
think I ought to tell you that if my wife and I
went to America to-morrow, the very smallest
salary I would accept would be one hundred
pounds a week between us.'
* But your wife is not a great actress.'
' No. If she were a great actress she would
get that sum without having me thrown in ; but
during my last engagement at Mallock's Theatre
I had seventy pounds a week myself.'
* I see ; I cannot bribe you high enough. I
am sorry to have troubled you to come here
' I am terribly distressed about the whole
business ; but I am sure you would be miser-
able living abroad like that yourself. Think of
what it would mean. I have been disgraced
publicly ; you would be disgraced ; we should
both be shunned as if we were plague-stricken.
I am sure you see things as I do.'
THE DANCING FAUN 129
Lady Geraldine got up to walk away. Sud-
denly she turned and flung herself at Travers's
feet, saying : * Oh, don't let us talk or think
about the hateful money ! Act if you like, if
you find it so profitable, but don't, don't leave
England. Cut yourself free from that woman.
I will do anything you like. I love you wildly,
desperately. I cannot, cannot leave you.'
He gently disengaged her fingers. She rose
on her knees and looked him straight in the
eyes. Then she cried out —
* You don't love me the least little bit in the
world. Why is it? Am I not beautiful enough?
Haven't you told me a hundred times I was?
O George, George, tell me what is the mean-
ing of it all ! '
' It means I love you too well to wish to
' Then you do not love me at all. Is it that
you love this other woman, this wife of yours ? '
* Perhaps ; I can't tell what it is.'
130 THE DANCING FAUN
* I will sit down quietly by your side now ; I
won't rave at you any more, don't be afraid.
Tell me exactly what you feel.' She stood for
a moment, then put her hand in her pocket,
took out her handkerchief, then sat down, hold-
ing it in her lap.
*Now tell me, dear one,' and she laid her
hand on his arm. He shuddered a little. She
noticed it and removed her hand. ' What do
you feel about her and me ? '
' Well,' he said, * I think it must be this.
When I fell in love with her, I did so in the
terrible blind, reckless way that only comes over
one once in a lifetime. It is more a nightmare
than anything else. I couldn't understand my-
self at the time, and I can't understand myself
* Oh, you have got over it, then ? ' she said,
leaning towards him.
*Yes, I have got over it. I am sickened
of love. But my wife is a clever woman. I
THE DANCING FAUN 131
believe I can do something with her. She has
a most extraordinary talent for acting, and that
interests me. I don't suppose there is a man
alive, take it all in all, who knows more about
the tricks of the trade than I do. These are
just what she wants to be taught, and it is
interesting to me to see what she '11 turn out
This feeling has taken the place of love. She
is about as tired of love-making as I am, and
now we are going to set seriously to work
* But if you are so tired of love, why are you
here to-night ? Did you think you would get
money out of me to go to America with her?'
He laughed a little. *Well, it does sound
absurd now you put it like that, but I suppose
She was sitting to his right. Her fingers
closed on something that had been hidden in
her handkerchief ; then came the loud report of
a pistol, a puff of smoke, a groan from Travers
132 THE DANCING FAUN
as he fell sideways with a crash in a heap
among the brackens.
Lady Geraldine sat perfectly motionless for
a moment ; then she saw the blood beginning
ooze from the wound just over his heart, and
she drew her dress carefully on one side. She
did not look at his face for about five minutes.
She turned round then, and saw his eyes fixed
on her with a terrible stare.'
' No, I will not suffer for you,' she whispered,
as if replying to their silent menace, and she
put the pistol into his hand and closed the
fingers round it. They would not keep as she
placed them. At last she left the thing on the
ground by his side, then she walked rapidly
away. Before she had got far she remembered
the compromising letters she had written : she
must go back and get them at any price. She
found his pocket-book ; she found her three
letters in it ; she took them, and replaced the
pocket-book. Then she went. Just as she was
THE DANCING FAUN 133
leaving the wood, the fox-terrier, which had
been off on a hunting expedition, ran up to her,
smelling her dress. She put down her hand to
pat its head. It licked off a little spot of blood
that soiled her first finger. She tried to speak
to it, to tell it to go to its master, but she found
her mouth was parched and dry. She could
not utter a word. But it went all the same,
following the track of her footsteps into the
She went through what would probably occur.
He would be found alone with a pistol. She
thought of what would happen if the pistol
was identified. She had taken it from the gun-
room at home ; she had thought it would add to
the romance of the situation. Two of them had
been hanging on the wall ; she remembered
them all her life. Sometimes her father
had allowed her and her sisters to practise
with them on Sunday afternoons, much to
the scandal of the neighbourhood. Kirkdale
134 THE DANCING FAUN
would go to look at the body; he would be
sure to recognise the pistol. She got into the
house unobserved just as the clock struck
eleven. First she went up to her bedroom and
dusted her shoes ; her feet were covered with
dust. She took ofif her stockings and wiped
them clean as well as she could without making
a mess. Then she went downstairs. She had
sent her maid to bed. Nobody seemed to be
up except Kirkdale and Clausen, whom she
could hear playing billiards as she passed the
door. She went down the passage, entered the
gun-room, and examined the window. She
saw it was accessible from the outside. It was
one of the old-fashioned hasp bolts, so she took
a rusty pocket-knife she found lying in a for-
gotten heap of odds and ends and passed it
between the crack of the window. She scratched
the bolt as best she could to make it appear as
if it had been opened from the outside ; then
she dropped the knife outside the window,
THE DANCING FAUN 135
closed the door, and went to bed. She lay
awake wondering if there was any precaution
she had forgotten to take ; and when at last
she slept, she dreamed that she was a child
again, and that her father was alive. He was
in one of his rarely affectionate moods, dancing
her on his knee and calling her his own dear
little girl. He called her mother and sisters
and little Stephen to look at her as he stood
her upon the table — Mr. Clausen was there
too, — and then her father laughed and clapped
his hands, and said, * She 's the flower of the
flock, she's my very own daughter,' and he
rushed at the others and chased them out of
the room. Then it seemed to her they were
afraid of her as they had been of him. She saw
their faces peeping in at the window at her, as
if she was a terror to them. She looked at her
father for explanation, but he no longer spoke
or moved ; his face was cold and lifeless, as if
formed from damp yellow clay ; and she went
136 THE DANCING FAUN
and touched his fingers, which closed on hers,
and she felt she was becoming clay too. The
cold crept up her arm ; she could not stir hand
or foot. Just as the cold reached her heart she
woke and tried to scream, but once again she
could utter no sound, and lay there motionless.
At last the morning came. The horror of the
dream had taken all her attention : she thought
of nothing else ; she felt she must speak of it,
yet feared that in some vague way it might
betray her. She could not bear to stay in the
house waiting. She ordered the pony-carriage,
and drove herself over to Lyndhurst, where she
found some friends at home. They got her to
put up there, and she did not return to Ring-
wood until dinner-time. Driving home she
went over in her mind every possible thing that
could happen : they would know the pistol ;
they would find it was impossible for the gun-
room to have been entered from the outside ; he
would have boasted that he was going to meet
THE DANCING FAUN 137
her ; somebody had seen her in the wood with
him. She had gone to her room with a head-
ache at nine o'clock, and asked not to be dis-
turbed ; perhaps Elizabeth had brought her
something just before going to bed, and had
discovered her absence. She imagined herself
being driven away handcuffed between two
policemen. She went through all the horrors of
the last scene of all, when she would go blind-
fold into eternity. She shuddered terribly, then
suddenly remembered the groom was sitting
behind her, and was probably taking notes
of her behaviour, and that he would be able
to give his evidence too. As she drove over
the bridge a train was arriving at the station.
She pulled up a moment and watched the
passengers alight. She saw a girl get out of
a carriage and a tall man meeting her, and,
leading her tenderly through the station, put
her into a closed carriage. She saw that it
was Kirkdale. Then she understood everything
138 THE DANCING FAUN
had been found out, and they had sent for
She drove into the village, sending the groom
into the draper's to get her some riding gloves.
The man came out to deliver them to her
himself He looked very serious, and said,
* Terrible news, isn't it, my lady ? '
* What is terrible ? ' she asked. * I have been
away all day.'
* A gentleman found murdered in the woods
close to Kirkdale Castle.'
* Murdered ! ' she cried.
* Well, the police are very reticent ; I can't
say how it was done, but I know he was shot
through the heart.'
* Dear, dear ! I must try and find out as
quickly as possible,' and she drove off without
noticing the man's parting salutation.
* Murdered,' she said over and over to herself
' After all, they know, they know everything.'
Mr. Clausen met her as she drove up to the
THE DANCING FAUN 139
principal entrance, and solemnly led her into
the library. * You have heard ? ' he said.
'Yes. Weyman told me that he had been
* George Travers ? '
* He has not been publicly identified yet.
How did Weyman know who he was ? '
* I don't know, I suppose he heard it some-
how.' She looked up nervously. She met Mr.
Clausen's eyes looking steadily at hers, and she
knew he guessed. After a pause she said,
* Tell me what is known.'
* I will. This morning the footman spoke
to Kirkdale after breakfast, and informed him
the gun-room had apparently been broken
into.' Mr. Clausen laid ever so slight a stress
on the word 'apparently.' He continued, 'A
careful search was made and nothing was miss-
ing but one of a brace of pistols, that had
been hanging together over the mantelpiece. I
140 THE DANCING FAUN
formed my own theory on the matter, and was
just about to demonstrate to Kirkdale that it
was impossible that the window should have
been entered from the outside, when the news
of the dead body being found reached us. I
therefore refrained from making any remarks,
and later in the day, when every one was agog
over the conveyance of the body to the parish
room, I went outside the gun-room window
and tried myself to get into it from the outside.
I found it was possible, but very difficult, and
I knocked down some plaster, besides disturb-
ing a good deal of dust which I had noticed
was quite undisturbed in the morning. I may
have done away with some circumstantial evid-
ence, but it is always a satisfaction to try things
for one's-self.' Again their eyes met, this time
with a fuller understanding than before.
*At the moment Kirkdale and I went at
once to the scene of the tragedy, and found
poor Travers dead, with his little terrier by his
THE DANCING FAUN 141
side, shivering and trembling, and refusing to
stir ; indeed, we had the greatest difficulty to
coax it away. While the constable was taking
notes, I saw the revolver lying among the ferns
close to his hand, but the constable did not ; I
thought it better not to attract Kirkdale's at-
tention to it at the time, so I let them remove
the body without saying a word. I then went
back to the gun-room and did what I have told
you ; and having satisfied myself that the chain
of evidence was complete, I went down to the
village, and advised the nonstable to come
up and search the scene of the fatality more
thoroughly. Kirkdale came too, and it was
not long before we found the revolver this
time. The sight of the pistol at once reminded
Kirkdale of the open window, and without a
moment's hesitation he told the constable all
he knew. The constable came along, and
having pointed out to him the marks of feet
outside, the footman having given his evidence,
142 THE DANCING FAUN
and having wired for Mrs. Travers, whom by
the way Lady Kirkdale has most kindly con-
sented to put up, and who arrived about half
an hour ago, I watched for you, so as to put
you in full possession of the facts of the case.'
For the third time their eyes met.
* How can I ever thank you ? '
* Good God, woman, don't thank me ! You
owe me nothing. It is for your mother's sake
that I have become your accomplice, and that
I have taken this burden on myself.' She bent
her head. He c'dbtinued, 'People who sin
against human life in this way cannot expect
sympathy. Your punishment is that you are
cut off from fellowship with your race ; the
memory of that murdered man will rise be-
tween you and those who guess, and those who
do not guess, your guilt.'
' Supposing, after all, others discover that I
did it ? ' she whispered.
* They shall not, they must not ! I command
THE DANCING FAUN 143
you not to betray yourself ; it is the least you
* You needn't be afraid. I dare say you think
I am sorry that I did it, but I am not ; I am
glad. I should be miserable if it had not been
*He would never have done anything so
criminal as this.*
*No, he hadn't the courage, but he would
have sneaked and lied and shivered through
life, taking men's and women's souls and bodies
and tearing them to shreds, dragging them
down until they could see nothing in life but a
struggle for amusement, nothing beyond but a
rest from torment. I know I did it from a
horrible motive, just to gratify my mad injured
pride, to revenge myself on the cur that had
turned on me ; but all the same it is a good
deed done, and I am glad I did it'
* I do not understand you. Lady Geraldine.'
She got up and walked past him to the door ;
144 THE DANCING FAUN
then she turned and said, ' I am my father's
daughter. People like him and me belong to a
race apart ; we are only mortal clay, while you
and mamma, and Maisy and all the rest of you
have immortal souls.'
She came towards him once more. *0h,
don't be afraid, I won't touch you, I won't con-
taminate you. Yes, I see it plainly now : you
all of you have immortal souls, you show it in
your lives, don't you ? '
* # « ♦ «
It was the day of the funeral. * Suicide while
of unsound mind^ was the verdict brought in by
the jury. Lady Geraldine was alone with Mrs.
Travers for the first time. They were sitting
with books in their hands pretending to read.
Both were dressed in black. Both were some-
what restless. Lady Kirkdale had left them in
the drawing-room. The funeral had taken
place in the little village churchyard early in
the morning. There was nothing more to be
THE DANCING FAUN 145
done. Mrs. Travers was going to London the
following day to commence rehearsing for a
new piece at Horsham's Theatre. Lady Kirk-
dale had suggested she must stay with them
and rest, but she only thanked her very much,
and said she should prefer to set to work at
Lady Geraldine sat eyeing her surreptitiously.
At last she said —
'You are very fond of your profession, are
you not, Mrs. Travers ? '
* Indeed I am. I don't know how I should
have lived during the last few months if it had
not been for the thought of it'
' You were going to America, I heard ? '
' Yes ; George spoke of doing so.'
* Will you tell me what your real feeling about
this is ; you seem very calm, and yet '
'And yet I loved him, you mean.' Lady
Geraldine nodded. * Yes, I loved him ; and I
suppose if this had happened two months ago
146 THE DANCING FAUN
I should have gone nearly mad with grief. But
a curious change has been taking place during
that time. It used to seem as if great floods of
emotion came over me, enfolded me, and took
possession of me. I had no power to resist
them. One day I suddenly found I could, as it
were, swim through ; I knew what I was doing ;
I could guide and control myself; I could use
the emotion as I pleased.
* Yes, yes ; I believe I know what you mean ;
go on telling me.'
* Well, that is what it comes to. In real life
you get an emotion which masters you ; in art,
in acting, in all works of genius, I suppose, you
master an emotion. That is why artists are
set apart from the rest of the world ; they cannot
enjoy the common emotion long, they demand
too much from it'
* And do you not regret your loss at all ? '
* Oh, we are all human, of course. I loved
him, but still I feared him. He made me see
THE DANCING FAUN 147
things in his way : I had no freedom of judg-
ment. When he was with me I thought he was
a splendidly clever person ; even when I found
out how bad he was, and what terrible things
he had done, he only had to make some ridicu-
lous excuse for me to believe every word he
* Don't you think it is a good thing for you
that he is dead ? Don't you feel that if you
had seen much more of him you would have
become a thoroughly bad woman ? '
*Yes, I do. I sometimes wonder even now
if I can get away altogether from his influence.
But how did you know this? What made
you imagine it ? '
* I will tell you exactly why. You know we
were quite ignorant that he had a wife until
about a fortnight ago. I must confess to you
that from the first day I saw him I would have
married him at any moment if he had asked
me, and given up everything in the world for
148 THE DANCING FAUN
him. I found out by degrees what he was,
and I thought that if it were true, I could not
bear that he should live. And now that he
is dead I am glad. I feel a weight is off my
' Yes,' whispered Grace Travers, * that is just
what I feel, a weight is off my soul : to live
with him was to be morally contaminated.
Almost the last time I talked to him, I
remember feeling as if it would be a glorious
thing to be a great criminal, and that if you
could not rule by fair means, you should rule by
foul. George had such a horror of mediocrity.'
* He thought anything better than that, eh ? '
*Yes, I believe the only person who could
really fascinate him would be some one who
could make him suffer terribly.'
*Was there anything that could make him
* No, I don't think there was, he always took
things so easily. But he didn't want to die;
THE DANCING FAUN 149
he hated the thought of it. I can't think how
he ever came to kill himself.'
* Well, it is unfortunate that the only person
who could attempt to fascinate him in the
way you suggest would be compelled, by the
circumstances of the case, to prevent him from
showing that he was fascinated.*
* Poor George, what a pity he isn't here !
That would have amused him ; it is just the
sort of thing he would have said himself
Printed by T. and A. Constable, Printers to Her Majesty
at the Edinburgh University Press
RETURN TO the circulation desk of any
University of California Library
or to the
NORTHERN REGIONAL LIBRARY FACILITY
BIdg. 400, Richmond Field Station
University of California
Richmond, CA 94804-4698
ALL BOOKS MAY BE RECALLED AFTER 7 DAYS
2-month loans may be renewed by calling
1-year loans may be recharged by bringing books
Renewals and recharges may be made 4 days
prior to due date
DUE AS STAMPED BELOW
SEP 2 2 1992
JAN 1 2001