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Florence Ftixr 

LdRfloikj THE KEW AGE P&E&S. 

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Prefatory Note. 

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. 

pl^rence Farr, 

Copyrighted in the United States. 
AH Rights Reserved. 



*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. 



' 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. 


* I had a course of lessons from Sautussi in 
the winter.' 

* 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.' 


* 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 


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 


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 


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 


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 


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.' 


* 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- 


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 
into Piccadilly. 


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 ? ' 


* 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 
make excuses.' 

* 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 


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. 


* 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 


perceptions render us incapable of revelling in 
the ridiculous/ 

* Ah, how true ! nothing excites virtue so much 
as the spectacle of other people's vices/ said 
Lady Kirkdale. 

* 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 


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 
emotions yet.' 

' 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 


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 ? ' 


' 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.' 


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.' 


* 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 


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.' 


* 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 


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, 
saying — 

'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 


leave me again like this. It makes me so 

' My darling, I never will ; but you should 
trust me.' 

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 


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 


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 
enduring self-control.' 

* 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.' 


'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 


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 


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 


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 
really ' 

' 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 


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 


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 


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 


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 


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 


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 


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 


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 


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. 


*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 


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 
nice there.' 

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, 


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. 


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.' 


* 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 


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 


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 


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 
have said.' 

'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 .? ' 


* 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 



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 


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 


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 


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 


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 


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.' 


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 


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 
is different' 

' 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, 


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 


account ; he devotes himself entirely to her/ 
said Geraldine. 

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 
in society.' 

* 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 


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.' 


' 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 
everything perfect.' 

' Well, to change this very unpleasant subject,' 


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 


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. 


' 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- 


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 


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 
a relation.' 

' 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." ' 


* 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 


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 


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 


* 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. 


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. 


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. 


* 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 
the stage.' 

* I can't do that, old fellow.' 


* 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 


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 


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 ' 


* 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 
whole time.' 

* 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,' 
cried Stephen. 

* 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 


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 ? ' 


* 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.' 


* What was she ? ' 
'An actress.' 

* 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,' 


* 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.' 



'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 


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.' 


*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 


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.' 


Clausen chuckled. 

* 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 


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 


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 


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.' 

* George.* 

* Are you sure you didn't do it ? ' 

* Didn't what } ' 


* 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.' 
'What for?' 

* 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.' 


* 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 


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.' 


* 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 
the world.' 

* 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 
to do.' 

' 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.' 


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.' 

^ 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 
Lady Kirkdale.* 

* 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 ? ' 


' 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 
here either.' 

* 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 — 


'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.' 


'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- 
ticular way.' 

' 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 


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 ? ' 

* Disappear.' 

* 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 
handsome man.' 

' 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 
one else.' 

* Yes, he had a charm, there is no doubt of that.' 


* 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?' 
she cried. 

* 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 


only hear his footstep. When I touch other 
men my blood turns cold, and my heart turns 
to ice.' 

' 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- 


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 


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 


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 


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 


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 ? ' 


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 

married man.' 

' 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 


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.* 


' 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 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.' 


' 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 
of hope.' 

* Yes, I shall claim my reward then.' 

' Ah ! that 's " another story." We mustn't get 
on too fast.' 


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, 

George Travers. 

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 — 


* 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 
previous Monday. 

* 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 


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 
at moments.' 

* 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 
with him.' 

* I don't think she is shallow ; but you mustn't 


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 


should not have said such a thing to you ; 
forgive me.' 

* 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 
are actresses.' 

' 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.' 


* 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 


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 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 ! 


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 ? ' 

' Yes.' 

' 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- 
evitable retribution.' 

* 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.' 

* 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 


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 


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 


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 
poor outcast.' 

' 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.' 


* 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 ? ' 


' Whichever you think best ; your wishes are 
my law.' 

' 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 
the capital.' 

' 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.' 


* 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 
Windsor sometimes/ 

* 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 ' 


' 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.' 


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 
injure you.' 

' 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.' 


* 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 


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 
I did.' 

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 


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 


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 


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, 


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 


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 


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 


had been found out, and they had sent for 
the wife. 

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 


principal entrance, and solemnly led her into 
the library. * You have heard ? ' he said. 

'Yes. Weyman told me that he had been 
found dead.' 

* 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 


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 


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, 


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 


you not to betray yourself ; it is the least you 
can do/ 

* 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 ; 


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 


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 


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 


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 


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; 


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 


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