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The quest of an alleged Amati violin had brought Mervyn 
Carter into Soho, that home of fiddle makers and dealers. 
He would have explored a remoter i^t to secure such a 
prize to add to his collection of rare things housed in River- 
side Drive, New York City. The Amati, alas, had proved 
a chimera, a bad German imitation in fact, and Carter 
had wandered into side streets in the vague hope of dis- 
covering some hidden treasure among the stu£fy shops of 
the district, crammed with old jewellery, old lace, old 
furniture, and bric-2l-brac. Of course he had found nothing 
to satisfy his discriminating tastes. 

Carter's time was his own. The May morning was fresh 
and sunny: one of those exhilarating mornings when even 
the confined insalubrity of this foreign quarter of the big 
dty does not oppress the intruder. Indeed, its cosmo- 
politanism was rather attractive to Carter. Here he 
might imagine himself in s<»ne Continental town. The 
inhabitants, the names over the shops, the very smells, 
were un-English. There was music, too, of alien rhythm. 
The resonance of the dty's traffic prevented him from 
catching the tune. He came upon it when he turned a 
comer — the strident notes of a piano organ that stunned 
the ear with its suddenness. The usual Italian was at the 
handle; only his head and shoulders and smiling face were 
visible; the rest of him was hidden by a small crowd that 
surrounded the instrument. 

It stood facing the shop of a third-rate costumier. 

* * 


Simultaneously Carter became aware of its windowful of 
fancy costtunes, tinsel, sham armoiu", and other theatri- 
cal ornaments, and between the shoulders of the crowd a 
bobbing head and flying curls that danced in perfect 
time to the groimd-out music. Five minutes later he was 
to know that the head and curls belonged to Jacqueline. 

Dancing came naturally to Jacqueline. She had the 
spirit as well as the grace of it. When she danced she 
really and truly illustrated the poetry of motion. She 
danced because there was music, because it was spring- 
time, because her feet impelled her. She danced because 
she could n't help it. And while she danced she was ob- 
livious of the crowd she gathered. For all that, she liked 
to know she had an audience. To be able to make people 
stop and watch her helped her to believe that one day a 
real audience — a theatreful of people who had paid for 
their seats — would sit and admire and applaud her as a 
finished artiste. That was an ambition she never ceased 
to dream of. 

On a window-ledge she had deposited the jug of stout 
which she had been sent to fetch, and a newspaper con- 
taining the fried fish beloved of Madame Lemine, her 
owner. For Jacqueline in truth was 'owned,' even as a 
dog or a cat is owned. She was a possession, an acquisi- 
tion, a piece of child merchandise, and she knew it. This 
knowledge did not affect her dancing. Mervyn Carter, 
watching her, wondered if anything could. She seemed 
bom to dance. The quest of Amati violins, of bibelots, of 
every other objet d'art, went out of his head while he stoCft 
on the kerb, wondering at the joyous grace of the un- 
conscious girl. 

Her movements were quite unstudied; she had very 
little technique, but she possessed a quaint charm, and 
all her movements were full of colour. Carter^ quick to 

.•• • • - _• 

• • • •• 

, «. • • • • ' 

• •• • 

V a 


discern the symmetrical ia nature as well as good crafts- 
manship in art, was filled with admiration. She was 
something out of the conmion, individual; hardly beauti- 
ful, though she gave promise of beauty later on. Her 
speaking little face entranced him. He judged her to be 
about thirteen. She had a perfect complexion, rather 
pale, cherry lips, and big brown eyes, soft and velvety. 
Her hair was a deep golden with darker streaks in it. She 
was a study in wallflower tints, golds and browns. 

The music stopped. The Italian collected pennies 
and trundled off. Jacqueline came to a standstill and 
remembered her jug and newspaper. The loiterers dis- 
persed. Carter moved a step nearer. Her spell had not 
ceased with her dancing. 

"Youngster," said he, "you dance well. Who are you? 
Where do you live?" 

She regarded him steadfastly. With the innate sus- 
picion of her class she mistrusted strangers. But this 
rugged, kind-faced, youngish man, with eyes as blue as 
the dear sky above, was to her liking. His eyes held her 
brown ones captive. Hers reciprocated, as blue and 
brown eyes are apt to do all the world over. 

"Jacqueline, m'sieur," she answered. "Jackie, I am 

"You're French?" 

"Since five year I live in England — 'ere." She jerked 
her head with a half -defiant gesture at the shop behind 
her. Carter looked at it. Over the crammed window 
was the legend: 





It struck him that there was something questionable 
about the shop: sordid, illicit, difficult to associate with 
childhood. It looked dark and dirty. The jannoimce- 
ment — ' Child artistes trained and supplied' — soimded 
sinister. His sympathies, readily aroused on behalf of 
the young, were provoked. He knew something of the 
methods by which performing dogs were trained. . . . 
But of course children. ... No one dared ill-treat chil- 
dren in a civilized coimtry. . . . Even those small unf or- 
timates who had to be trained to perform in public. . . . 
Yet there were queer smouldering lights in the girl's eyes: 
the look that one sometimes sees in canine eyes, so himian 
that it will not be cowed or beaten out. 

"How old are you?" he asked. 

The answer that she ^'had sixteen years" surprised 
him. He had thought of her as the child she looked. 

"Do you live in there? Are you treated properly? 
Are you happy? " 

Sensitive as a harp string, she responded to the solici- 
tous tone of his question. Her small hands clenched. 
Then she clasped them over her heart intensely. . 

"'Appy, m'sieur?" Five years of Soho had not yet 
acclimatized her to the English aspirate. "But no. In 
here I bum; I hate. But one day I go free, and I will 
dance all through the world and back again. That is 
when my feet have become much faster. Now I am pupil. 
I must learn. Even when I am beaten I must not weep. 
It matters not! I put out my tongue, like that! Who 
cares? Not Jackie. One day, m'sieur, I know that I will 
dance on a great ^ge, and have so much money, to go 
through the fingers — like that." She illustrated her 
meaning with a small open palm and extended fingers. 
"Aad 'ats, m'sieurl I will 'ave thirty, forty 'ats. And 
my dresses will be as flowers in the big shop windows, so 


many and so beautiful. Ah, yes, every one will speak of 
Jackie for her 'ats and 'er dresses and 'er dancing. The 
little birds said so^ m'sieur. They know." 

"What little birds?" wondered Carter. 

"In this street^ m'sieur; even last week. Little green 
birds in a cage telling the fortune. From Italie they come. 
The woman say to me: 'Bambino^ come 'ere. My little 
birds will tell your fortune for luck.' And the little bird 
he pick out a piece of paper with his beak^ and on it was 
written, 'Take 'eart; you will be famous.' So I take 
'eart, m'sieur, all the time, and I snap my fingers — sol 
It will come true, m'sieur. There is also a star at night 
I see out of my window. He twinkle to me like a merry 
eye and he say: 'God loves Jackie. God will be good to 

She smiled. Mervyn's interest in her was growing fast 
I "Tell me some more," he said. 

Jacqueline reached for her jug and newspaper parcel. 

"Oh, la, la! the fish is coldl That will bring more 
trouble. Madame like it 'ot. She tell me to run. Then 
the music play and I forget. Quel maiheur 1 " 

She turned and made adart for the shop door. Carter 
called her back. 

"Look here — Jackie; don't go yet. What 's this about 
your being beaten? Perhaps I may be able to help you. 
I 'd like to. What do you say? Have n't you any rela- 
tions? Where do you belong?" 

"I do not belong, m'sieur. My mother is dead since 
I cannot remember. My brother and my father are 
enterr6s in France. I refugee. Madame adopt me. Nearly 
all of us in there are adopt." 

"Have you no friends?" 

She gave a decisive shake of the head. She was the 
personification of expository gesture. 


'^ A friend, m'sieur? That is some one who loves and is 
angry never? Then I have no friends. Madame call me 
a little devil. Per'aps that is why." 

She looked forlorn for a moment. Then a smile flashed 

"Is it that you are a friend, m'sieur? Your eyes are 
like my star that twinkle to me. The stars they are merry 
and kind. Would you be a friend to Jackie? " 

Mervyn's hand shot out. It swallowed up hers, so tiny 
that it felt almost boneless. 

"Try me," said he. 

Jackie considered. 

"I go in now," she said, "or madame will be angered 
for the delay. Perhaps at two o'clock, if you come back, 
m'sieur, I could come out while she sleep." 

"I'U come back. Sure. Then you'll tell me all about 
yourself and we 'U see what can be done? Friends help 
each other whenever they can, you know." 

From within the shop a raucous voice shrieked: 
"Jackee! Jackeel" 

Jackie blew a kiss to her new friend — an airy salute 
of finger-tips, half childish, half of the stage — and 
darted off. The shop door swimg to behind her. 

And Mervyn Carter continuing on his way thought no 
more of his quest of the Amati violin or of bibelots and 
other rare inanimate things, only of a flesh-and-blood 
rarity with a face framed in gold-brown hair and with 
brown eyes childish and trustful — Jacqueline's little face 
which had registered itself with amazing clarity upon his 
mind and heart. 

But before he left Soho he bought for little Jacqueline 
a fine silk shawl of wallflower tones like herself, of browns 
and golds. And he walked on, making all sorts of plans in 
his head to interest his London sister in his strange 'find '; 


to have 'Jackie' taught dancing by the best master ob- 
tainable; to help her fortune come true ... a young 
man's dreams, quixotic, rather American, and quite en- 
thralling. . . . 

He lunched at his club, and afterwards in a deep chair 
in a quiet comer let his thoughts wander back to the 
little dancer. He was not disturbed and he drowsed. 
The chime of a clock came as a reminder of his appoint- 
ment. It was a quarter to two. He started to his feet. 
By the time he got to Soho 'Jackie' would be waiting. 


Jackie's dance and her talk with Carter had between 
them consumed half an hour. Madame's reproof for 
loitering was a smart slap on the cheek and the depriva- 
tion of a meagre midday dinner by way of additional 
correction. Jackie might have come in for further punish- 
ment but for a huge, clean-shaven man who lounged into 
the little shop and distracted the attention of her mistress. 

In spite of the warm spring day, he sported a befurred 
coat, mangy as to the collar, symbol of the actor's pros- 
perity. The coat and the man almost filled the small shop 

Big Bill Bowman required a lot of room. Most people 
who knew him gave him a wide berth for physical as well 
as moral reasons. He was too large and overbearing to 
quarrel with or offend. He looked what he was, a vicious 
member of the human species. 

Madame Lemine, shufiSing out of her dingy inner room, 
looked almost as unprepossessing as the man. She was 
ponderous, greasy, irascible. Jackie frankly hated her, 
but had the sagadty to appreciate that the woman, in 
spite of the blows and vituperation she dealt out to all 
her '' adopts," was at bottom an artiste. Her unwieldiness 
notwithstanding, she could teach dancing and posture; 
and Jackie was eager to be taught. All her short life that 
had been her attitude — spirit in adventure, but humility 
in art. 

Madame Lemine did a good deal of business with Big 
Bill Bowman. He owned the acting rights of a tried and 
popular melodrama with which for years he had toured 
the smaller towns, and he came to Madame whenever he 


required a child-actress or a second-hand costume. She 
coiild supply both at short notice. She owned the shop, 
the costumes, and the children. She adopted children for 
''love"; gave them a profession ''out of the goodness of 
her heart/' to use her own phrase; owned them body and 
soul and lived upon their earnings. At times she sailed 
perilously near the wind in her traffiddngs; but retribu- 
tion in the form of the arm of the law had not yet reached 
her. She knew her game and played it too discreetly for 

With a show of cordiality she invited Bowman into 
the inner room. He was a good client. He paid weU and 

"What is it now?'' she enquired. "Has not that little 
one, Rosie, satisfaction given? You bring her back?" 

Bowman frowned heavily. 

"I've not got her in my pocket, if that's what you 
mean. She's in hospital. I want another kid to take her 
place from Monday next. If you've got one I'll take her 
now. Rosie won't be any good for weeks. I've got her 
free hospital treatment, thank the Lord. She's off our 
hands — yours as well as mine — for the time being." 

Madame looked approval. 

" Tell me 'ow it 'appen," she said. 

"This way. I told you I'd got a new bit of business 
into my second act. I wanted a kid with nerve to stand 
still while I did stunts with a stock-whip. I 've Uved in 
Australia, you know. Well, years ago, out West, I did 
that for a turn on the halls, and it struck me it would take 
on well if I could work it into the play. There was no 
acting required. All the kid had to do was to stand still 
with her neck up ready for me to curl the whip roimd it. 
Well, the chicken-Uvered Uttle fool didn't stand still. 
She funked and side-stepped. Consequence was she got 


a bad slash. She'U be back with you inside a months but 
she 's no good to me. I Ve got to have a kid with ginger in 
her, a real good plucked 'un. Ain't you got something of 
the sort? I '11 pay you more than I gave for Rosie. Hang 
it, I '11 give you two quid a week. But she must be worth 
it, mind ! " 

Madame appeared to cogitate. 

"I have one," she said presently, "a French child. 
'£r mother was in the corps de ballet. When she die she 
owe me money, so I 'ave to nourish the little one. She 
dance ver' well. I teach her myself. She worth three 
pound a week, any day. Next year I put her on the halls, 
I t'ink." 

^'Well, if she's a dancer so much the better. I can 
easily work in a dance for her. That's the best of ^Dead 
Men's Shoes.' It's a play you can put chunks into any- 
where. In fact, there's not much of *the author' left 
in it, though I have to pay the blighter his royalties just 
the same. Let's have a look at the kid, madame." 

Jackie was called. She came in, wondering what was 
in store for her this time. She expected another scolding 
for anything or nothing. But to-day she was curiously 
indifferent to scoldings or even blows. In two hours 
Madame Lemine would be sleeping, and herself once more 
with ^' the m'sieur with the kind eyes that twinkled like 
her star." In a vague way she associated him with that 
star. Perhaps he was her mascot. Who knew? At any 
rate, she was sure of one thing — she liked him. It would 
be lovely to have him for a friend. 

She took an immediate dislike to the big man standing 
by Madame's side. His forceful, domineering personality 
impressed itself upon her before he had spoken a single 
word. She stood still, waiting to hear what they had to 
say to her. 


Bowman, appraising her with the eye of a showman, 
coolly took in her points. She was only a child, but even 
so, with her mouth shut, staring at him out of her big 
eyes, her individuality was very distinctive. She was 
''some" kid. Those eyes had snap in them. 

"So you're Jackie?" he said. "You've got nerve, 
have n't you? Madame here says so." 

"What you call nerve?" enquired Jackie. 

"Spirit. Not afraid. You would n't be afraid of me, or 
of getting hurt, for instance? " 

He was answered by a quick shrug and a more expres- 
sive movement of the face, disclosing the tip of a pink 

"You are only a great big man," said she, with the 
fine contempt of a true daughter of Eve for mere brute 
force. Child as she was, the innate power of her sex was 
latent within her, giving promise of its effects in years to 
come. "You would not hurt me, I think. Madame do 
that every day. I don't care." 

Madame outspread hands that could rain shrewd 

"It is necessary to beat in order to teach," she mum- 
bled. "One day you will thank me, ingrate." 

The "ingrate" gave another shrug. Bowman put his 
hand on her shoulder. 

"You're coming along o' me," he said. "I shan't hurt 
you if you do what you're told. I might break you if I 
started in. You 're such a bit of a thing. All you 've got 
to do is to learn a small part and try to speak it without 
too much of your funny foreign accent. You shall have a 
dance, too, if you 're good. And you '11 have to stand quiet 
while I make the long lash of a whip curl round you. Soft 
as a creepin' snake, so long as you don't move." 

"I coidd stand still even if you shoot," replied Jackie 


indifferently. She knew of such circus tricks. But she 
finished up with her stock phrase, ^'I don't care." 

"Well, that shows spirit, anyway," grinned Big BiU. 
"Nothing Uke spirits in hiunan or bottle form, say I. 
Keep up your spirits and you'll get on, perhaps, one of 
these days, my kid. I'll take her now if she's ready, 
Madame. I'm catchin' the one-forty-five from Victoria 
to Cradeley . That '11 give you all to-morrow, being Sim- 
day, to rehearse," he informed Jackie. 

Sunday had never been a rest day with Jackie. She 
always expected and got the same amount of discipline 
and practice on Sundays as on week days. There was no 
seventh day repose for child artistes in Madame Lemine's 
system of training. But one-forty-five! Her appointment 
with m'sieur was for two o'clock ! She was not going to 
miss him if she could help it, not even to get away from 

"I will come later," she said. "Not now. Per'apsnot 
at all. I do not know." 

Bowman frowned. Madame spluttered. 

"You say that?" she shrilled. "You — my 616ve, my 
adopt! You have no voice to say anyt'ing at all!" 

"Oh, have I not? " stormed Jackie, instantly accepting 
the challenge with a sudden volcanic outburst that amazed 
the woman and the big showman. 

Jackie did not often get into a real rage. Her powers 
of endurance, of forgiveness and forgetfulness, were re- 
markable. But now she was a whirlwind, a defiant fury, 
a spitfire tiger cub, ready to fight or rend. She was 
fighting for her appointment at two o'clock. Neither 
wild horses nor big men should drag her away imtil she 
had kept it. Her English no longer sufficed. She rattled 
on vociferously in her native tongue. 

Bowman, with a tolerant grin, went out of the room 


and left her at it. His object was to fetch a taxi. The 
settlement of the matter would be easier of accomplish- 
ment with a vehicle handy at the door. He was back again 
in a few minutes. Jackie's rage had abated somewhat, 
but she was white and shaking, standing her ground. 

"Time's up," he announced. "And the train won't 
wait. Now, then, kid, don't swear in French. It's waste 
of breath, because I don't understand it. Never mind her 
hat, Madame. I'm pressed for time." 

He picked Jackie up as though she were a baby or a 
feather, tucked her imder his arm, put his free hand over 
her mouth, and swiftly deposited her in the waiting cab. 
Her natural agility availed her nothing agamst his vast 
bulk and strength. She might as well have tried to wrestle 
with an elephant. 

When the cab started he let go of her. On the instant 
she made a dive for the door. But he was as quick. 

"No, you don't! No tricks, now, or you'll be sorry. 
Why don't you come quiet like a sensible kid? I've told 
you I won't hurt you unless you deserve it." 

^Jackie's tears suddenly flowed. Not for years had she 

"Oh, I entreat you! " she cried piteously. "Let me go. 
Till three o'clock. At three o'clock I will return. I swear 

"Swearing be blowed! What^s the odds between one- 
forty-five and three?" 

Ilie difference to Jackie was immeasurable; as Dan 
is to Beersheba; as light is to darkness. 

"At two o'clock I meet a friend," she declared intensely. 

Bowman laughed. 

"What sort of friend? Man, girl, what?" 

" My friend is a milord," she flashed out. 

He gave her a wondering look. No swell in his opinion 


would bother his head about such an elfish-looking 
creature. She was too young and too immature to arouse 
masculine admiration. And yet — he tilted up her chin 
roughly — there certainly was something intriguing about 
the Uttle face. ... He patted her arm. 

"You don't want to make friends with strangers," he 
said with rough affability. "You put melords and such- 
like out of that little head of yours. More likely he 's just 
a dud." 

Jackie went crimson with indignation. 

"I tell you," she cried, "that my friend, he is a milord 
— gentil. You are too big for me to fight, or I would fight 
you ; but if you do not set me free for one little while till 
three o'clock, I will hate you all my life!" 

"Hate away," grinned Bowman. " I 'm kind of used to 

At the station he kept a firm grip of her hand. She saw 
the futility of struggling and stood by his side, seemingly 
docile. But all the while her heart felt bursting. She had 
meant to meet her m'sieur at two! She had tneant to be 

And at two-fifteen, when Jackie was well on her way 
to Cradeley, Mervyn Carter, in a flurry because he was 
late, jimiped out of a taxi and scanned the street for 
Jackie and scanned it in vain. She was nowhere to be 
seen. He waited ten minutes. Then after some hesitation 
he went into the shop. 

Madame had seen him pass and repass the window and 
suspiciously asked herself the reason. Her experienced 
eye told her that he was no "theatrical." He was of 
another world, seemingly the world of prosperity. But 
then also that might be a pose — camouflage. 

"Sale agent de police, va!" she muttered to herself, 
and was on her guard. 


"You train children for the stage, do you not? " Carter 
asked. " I 'm interested in a prot6g6e of yours. I want to 
see her if I may. Jacqueline is her name." 

"Jacqueline?" repeated Madame vaguely. 

"Or Jackie." 

Madame shook her head. 

"M'sieur," she smiled, "you 'ave made a mistake. I 
know of no little one called Jackee. My pupils, all of 
them, are practising now in the studio. Would m'sieur 
care to see? " 

Carter followed her through a labyrinth of cupboard- 
like rooms into a so-called studio at the back of the house. 
Some ten children, mostly girls, were practising acrobatic 
and dance exercises of various kinds. Jackie was not one 
of their number. 

Disappointed, Carter turned away, and Madame ac- 
companied him back to the shop. 

" A mistake, is it not? I am sorry I cannot 'elp m'sieur," 
she said. 

Carter wheeled roimd, fixing her with hard eyes. They 
did not twinkle always. They had a look of steel at times 
— cold steel. 

"I met that little girl, Jackie, outside here an hour or 
two back," he asserted. "As to my being mistaken, I'm 
quite sure I am not. She said she lived here, and I believe 
her. I 'd believe a child with a face like hers if she told me 
she was Empress of China. And what 's more, I 'm going 
to find her somehow if it takes me years to do it." He 
paused to let his words sink in. "Won't you change your 
mind and tell me where she is? " 

Madame Lemine's face took on an expression of stu- 
pidity — and obduracy. 

Carter turned on his heel and swung out of the shop. 
The woman watched him go, surprised, a little afraid; 



speculating on his earnestness and his protests^ which to 
her guilty mind implied a threat and possible punishment. 

As for Carter, his quest of the antique, of treasure of 
bygone days and long-dead craftsmen, was completely 
obliterated by a baffling sense of regret and disappoint- 

Somewhere, lost to him, ^d now, because lost, doubly 
and inexplicably precious, was an atom of childish flotsam 
— Jacqueline. 

And that was all he knew of her. Just a name I Jacque^ 
line — Jackie! 


'^Dead Men's Shoes" on garish picture-posters was 
billed to appear for ''three nights only" at the Theatre 
Royal, Cradeley. The members of its company lodged 
where they could in the little town. Bowman installed 
himself at the best inn, together with one or two of his 
principal men and a hunchback, known as Bent Benny, 
whom he spoke of as his nephew. For Jackie other ac- 
commodation would have to be foimd. The inn, ''The 
Green Feathers," was full, but in the garden there was a 
summer-house, fitted up as a bedroom of a kind, and this 
Bill thought might be allotted to her. He did not deem it 
advisable to hand her over to the care of any of the women- 
folk in his show. He had an idea she would try to run 
away. He meant to keep her under observation. 

In the train on the way down Jackie had succumbed to 
Destiny. Now that it was too late to meet her unknown 
friend she saw the futility of escape. For the present, at 
least, she would defer the attempt. A fatalistic docility 
descended on her. She did not detest Bowman any the 
less because he was the cause of her terrible disappoint- 
ment, but she saw the uselessness of showing it* This 
apparent docility raised her in the actor's estimation. He 
ri^tly deemed her full of intelligence, and argued that 
she would be worth the two pounds a week he would have 
to pay for her. Indeed, after some talk he began to be 
conviaced that she might turn out to be a theatrical 
"find." The policy of catching the potential actress 
young and before she could realize her own worth was one 
he followed whenever it presented itself. 

Obscure actor though he was. Bowman had the business 


instincts of a successful showman. Indeed, in his way he 
was prosperous, and worth a good deal more than most 
people would have supposed. He continued to size Jackie 
up. When he learnt her age he, too, like Mervyn Carter, 
was surprised. He looked at her more closely. She wore 
a frock suitable to a child of twelve, a garment made in 
one piece without fit. It hid any shapeliness of form or 
limb that she might possess. Bowman could guess at 
her concealed physical gifts. He was sure that suitably 
and daintily dressed, she would look vastly different. 

"Look here," he said, "if you're a good kid and work 
hard, there 's no saying what I might n't do for you. Hang 
it, I'd buy you some clothes." 

He, this coarse big man, buy her clothes? The idea was 
an outrage! She wanted clothes, yes; a shopful; the 
gayest and the best. And one day she would buy them 
for herself — the hats and the dresses that should be the 
crown and sign-manual of her ambitions. Had not the 
little birds said so? But she would take nothing from her 
gaoler, clothes least of alL She made a face. 

"Oh, clothes! What are they?" she said indifferently. 

"You 'U have to have new ones of some sort. You 're a 
disgrace to a respectable company as you are now. I'll 
take you to one of the shops on Monday and rig you out. 
Well, here we are. Strikes me what you want is a cup of 
tea and something to eat. You look fair starved. Per- 
haps you'll feel less of a spitfire after it." 

At the inn, close to the station, he took her to a room 
that reeked of stale beer and smoke. In it a crippled boy 
sat on a tattered sofa reading an equally tattered book. 

"This is the kid who's going to take Rpsie's place, 
Benny," he said. " I 'm going to send her in something to 
eat If she tries to clear out you 're to stop her. Under- 
stand? I've got to po down to the theatre*" 


The boy nodded. He hardly glanced at Jackie. He 
seemed listless and indifferent. Bowman went out, shut- 
ting the door behind him. Jackie looked at it, looked at 
the window, stood listening to his retreating footsteps. 
The boy went on reading. 

A woman came in with a tea-tray. Jackie, deprived of 
her dinner, avidly regarded a glass jar of jam, two slices 
of cake, a plate with butter on it. She savoured the good 
odour of hot toast. She was famished and moved to the 
table when the boy did. He poured out the tea. 

While she raced through the sorely needed meal she 
looked at him. He was a nice-looking boy, about seven- 
teen. Apparently he had suffered some injury to his back. 
But for this his physique was good. He moved with the 
difficulty and debiUty of the aged. She felt sorry for his 
helplessness. Then the thought struck her that there was 
nothing to prevent her from escaping. The boy was 
phjrsically incapable of restraining her. So she left her 
chair and made straight for the door. The boy sat still. 

"If you run off," he said quietly, "Bill Bowman will 
lick me to-night till I'm half dead." 

Jackie's hand dropped from the doorknob. She came 
slowly back and looked at him across the table. 

"You speak the truth?" she asked. 

He lifted his eyes to hers, pathetic eyes with the look 
in them of a spirit crushed. 

"Yes. God's truth." 

"Then I do not go." She sat down again, put her 
elbows on the table, her chin in her hands, and as though 
the ice of intimacy were broken, continued in an easy 
way, " I not like that man. Coming 'ere in the train I tell 
him I would hate him for ever and ever." 

"That's a bad start. You wait. He'll give you hell 
for that — and other things, I expect." 


"'Ell?" quoth Jackie callously. "I come from there, 
Madame say, so what matters it? " 

"He'll beat you if he's angry or if he's drunk." 

Jackie's shoulders went up. 

"I am accustomed to that. Does 'e beat you?" 

"Yes. He takes it out of me when there's no one else. 
He knows I can't hit back." The assertion was made 
dispassionately. Jackie felt her temper rising, but she 
said nothing. In the same dull way the boy went on; 
"Look here, it was cowardly of me to say what I did 
just now. I called you back because I was afraid of what 
he'd do to me. It was n't the square thing. After all, an 
extra hiding won't kill me. If you want to, you quit 
while you can, and when he comes back I'll say I was 

Jackie did not move. 

"Why don't you go?" he asked. 

"I would not go now that you may be beaten," she 
declared with a vigorous shake of the head while the 
colour mounted in her cheeks. "But" — she sighed — 
" it is too late now. I forgot that. At two o'clock every- 
thing was different. Instead I will stay to hate Bill Bow- 
man." She spat out the name savagely. 

"What was going to happen at two o'clock?" 

Jackie plunged into a vivid account of her encounter 
with her m'sieur. She described Mervyn Carter with a 
wealth of detail and a vocabulary that was as complex as 
her gestures were foreign. 

Benny did not appear to be impressed. 

"What's your name?" he enquired. 


"I don't think you've missed much," he said. "I 
reckon you 've got sort of Fairy Prince ideas in your head. 
I was like that once. When you get older you '11 find there 


are guys all over the place asking girls to make appoint- 
ments with them, specially girls on the stage. That sort 
are n't up to any good, not one in a thousand. It never 
gets you any forrarder, mooning about with bo)rs." 

"I tell you 'e was not a boy. 'E was a milord. 'E 
would 'ave been my friend," she added with a quaver in 
her voice and an entire absence of h 's. 

"Well, things have fallen out so's he can't be. It's no 
more use kicking against Fate than it would be to kick 
against Bill Bowman. I 've learnt some things lying about 
all these years. Philosophizing, it's called. If you can't 
have the thing you want most, make do with what you 
can get. You're here now and you'll have to stay, I 
reckon. How about you and me being friends? I want 
one. I guess I'd worship a little chum like you. I know 
I 'm not much good. I can't move about like other people. 
Bill says I'm only cmnbering the earth." His lips trem- 
bled. "That's his doing. If it wasn't for him I'd be 
straight in my back, not crooked and in pain most 

"Tell me," said Jackie. Spontaneous of nature, all 
moods and sympathies, she was by this time definitely 
attracted to Benny. His helplessness appealed to her 
lonely, lawless little heart. 

"It was in New York nine years ago that Bowman 
happened on me," said Benny. "I was a kid of eight, 
selling papers, and I was crazy about the stage. Bowman 
was doing the strong-man stunt, and he wanted a kid to 
demonstrate with. I asked for the job and got it. He 
was n't so bad those days. One thing, he did n't drink so 
much. After a time we came to England, and he kind of 
altered. Started drinking heavy and losing his physique. 
Sometimes he was n't sober when we played. I was in 
mortal terror then, being his human dumb-bell. One 



night on the trapeze he was swinging me round with his 
teeth — and he let go. There was n't any net. I fell on 
the boards. That's all." 

Benny's quiet and emotionless voice brought a lump 
into Jackie's throat and the tears to her eyes. She 
caught his hand and pressed it to her cheek. She felt so 
awfully, terribly sorry for him, that if she could, she would 
then and there have given him her own straight, lithe 
limbs in place of his aching back and dragging legs. All 
this he saw in her speaking face. It bade him hasten to 
discount the effect of his story. It had been far from his 
intention to harrow her feelings. 

"I suppose I ought to have been grateful he did n't 
scrap me. He 's kept me ever since, if that 's anything to 
his credit; and he calls me his nephew and tells every one 
how good he is to me. Good! Why, he'd leave me in a 
ditch any day if he'd no use left for me." 

"What do you do now?" Jackie asked. 

"I'm 'Bent Benny' in 'Dead Men's Shoes,'" he said 
with a bitter laugh. "I've got the cripple's part. I see 
the murder done in the first act, and I rescue the kid — 
that'll be you — coming across a broken bridge. I carry 

"But 'ow? 'Ow can you do that?" 

"Oh, I have to do it. The press say my acting of a 
cripple boy is masterly. They don't know I 'm the real 
thhig. After that scene I faint off in the wings, most 
times. Don't take any notice if you see me at it. Bill 
generally brings me to with a kick." 

Jackie's eyes flashed and her hands clenched. 

"The beastl" she cried. "I could tear him like — so, 
with my 'andsl" 

It was like balm to Benny's bruised soul to listen to 
such sympathy. It almost gave physical relief to his 


injured body. Jackie's passionate outburst was a safety- 
valve to his own pent-up feelings. 

"Yes. He's a devil," he agreed. "He's a devil when 
he's in drink, and also when he — " 

He stopped short, but the face opposite asked ques- 

"When — when he takes a fancy to a girl," he stam- 

Jackie's eyes were wide, innocently wide. 

" You '11 be all right," he made haste to say. "He won't 
think about you. You're not old enough. But the way 
he 's treated some of the girls in the company. . . . Like 
me, he's treated them. Human dumb-bells. Spoiling 
their lives, same as he 's spoilt my back. I tell you there 
isn't a white spot anywhere in Bill. He's black all 

Jackie reached for his hand and gave it a gentle squeeze. 

"I am your friend now, Benny, is it not?" she said. 
"I will be your sister." 

A timid, tender expression leapt into Benny's eyes. 
He held on to the little hand. The fraternal o£fer put 
courage into him. His next words were so full of passion 
that they almost scared her. 

"And I'll be your brother," he declared. "And as for 
Big Bill, if he ever so much as tries to hurt a hair of your 
head I — I believe I 'd get the strength from somewhere 
to — to lay him out!" 

The face that had seemed so passive and cowed shone 
with a new light. It told of defiance of Bowman and 
allegiance to Jackie — the chivalry of youth and a beau- 
tiful devotion. 

The boy and the girl were sitting with clasped hands 
when Bowman returned. Neither heard him until he 
banged the door to. 



"Hulloa!" he sniggered derisively. "What's this? 
An unrehearsed efifect? Come on now, Jackie. Life is n't 
all tea, toast, and billing and cooing. Rehearsal in half 
an hour. You're here to work, savvy?" 



At rehearsal that afternoon Jackie astonished Bowman. 
She "fair took his breath away." She was an "eye- 
opener." And in more senses than one. He congratu- 
lated himself on his acquisition; he patted himself on 
the back on his " discovery." The credit was all his; none 
of it was due to her talent and intelligence. 

Directly Jackie felt the boards of a stage imder her 
she was at home and in her element. It came as natural 
to her to act as to dance. She liked her small part of 
"Pansy," a circus child in "Dead Men's Shoes." In the 
solo dance which Bowman introduced for her she was the 
airiest thing he had ever struck. She simply "knocked" 
him. She would "bring down the house." She delighted 
and amazed him in the stock-whip scene. She stood like a 
statue. She faced the menace of the heavy thong with 
the crackling lash at its end without the flicker of an eye- 
lid. Not a girl in a thousand would have shown such 

Moreover, at this rehearsal she asserted herself. It was 
in the scene where Benny had to carry her across the 
bridge. She stopped in the middle of it to protest. 

" What 's that you 're saying, young Jackie? " Bowman, 
still in high good-humor, asked genially. "What? Won't 
be carried? Why not?" 

Jackie's reason was inspired by consideration for 
Benny's affliction, but she was far too quick-witted to say 

"Do you not see it spoil everjrt'ing? " she complained. 
"Just now you tell me I am an artiste. It is not artistique 
to 'ave me picked up like a baby. I will be dragged along. 


So." She demonstrated what she meant. ''Is not that 
better?" To Benny she whispered: "Pretend to support 
me only. I wiU drag myself." 

So well did she disguise the effort that Bowman failed 
to detect the subterfuge. He thought it effective. 

"Oh, well, have it that way if you like," he said with 
a shrug and a grin. "Perhaps you'd like to take the re- 
hearsal instead of me. And I 'm not sure you could n't 
do it, either," he added to himself. 

A little later he was unable to restrain his gratified 

"Blest if she is n't the best kid we've ever had in the 
show!" he declared. "Jackie, you go on like that and 
you'll shine as an Ai star one of these fine da3rs." 

"That is what I already know," she rejoined with the 
calmness of one who has complete faith in her destiny. 
"But I wiU not be your star." 

At that. Bowman's laugh was less good-tempered 
Her declaration, made before the "crowd," was too 
much like insubordination. Bowman did not like being 
"sauced" in their hearing. 

"Going into management on your own, I suppose?" 
he jeered. "You're not through with me yet: I don't 
suppose you 'U have quite so much to say this time next 
wect. Now, then, ladies and gentlemen. Act IV, please. 
Winter, your cue, and don't come on looking as if you 'd 
taken an emetic. Remember you 've just come into ten 
thousand a year. Try and look like it. Can't you keep 
that cough quiet? " 

None of Uie company smiled at the bad jest or the 
callous reference to Winter's ailment. They all knew, 
Bowman included, that nothing would cure it except 
death, an event not likely to be very remote. They knew, 
too, of a sad incident in the life of his daughter Milly, 


now playing in another company. Bowman was respon- 
sible for that trouble. Bad health and the unlikelihood of 
finding work in any other company had kept the old 
actor tied to a man whom he had the strongest of reasons 
for detesting. He and Benny, martyrs both to Bowman's 
brutality, were close friends. Winter was always doing 
the boy a kindness. He it was who elected to push Benny's 
Bath chair to and from their lodgings to the theatre in 
which they might be playing. Out of good-heartedness, 
too, not out of fraternity towards his manager, he generally 
lodged where they did. 

Rehearsal over. Bowman went off with Jackie. Benny 
in his Bath chair, pushed by Winter, followed more 

"Clever kid that," said Winter. "The way she stood 
up to the guv'nor was finel Who 's she going to live with? 
Mrs. Mant?" 

"No, the boss has fixed her up in the summer-house at 
the 'Feathers.'" 

Winter stopped pushing. Benny glanced at him over 
his shoulder. 

"It is n't so bad," he said. 

"Is n't it? I had to sleep there last night till a com- 
mercial cleared out this morning. It's damp. And 
the door does n't lock. There 's that wood at the side, 
too. No end of tramps about. Enough to scare a girl of 
her age." 

"She's a good-plucked 'un," ruminated Benny. A 
few yards farther on he said: "Then it's not the boss 
you're afraid of? You don't think he'll get sweet on 

Winter's reply came after a pause. 

"No. But I 'm going to tell him he ought to let her stay 
with some of the women." 


"Hell be mad if you do." 

Winter's face took on a resolute expression. 

"I've got to have a talk with him anyhow," he said. 
" I had a letter from my Milly to-day, with a message for 

He pushed the chair on. Silence fell between the man 
and the boy. The thoughts of each traversed the same 
path. Both harboured a deep and ineradicable hatred of 
Bowman. Presently the younger one voiced them. 

"I wonder something — something awful — doesn't 
happen to him," he broke out suddenly. "I know him, 
and so do you. He is n't fit to live. There is n't a good 
thing or a kind word I 've ever known him do or say. Do 
you remember how he laughed when he cut Rosie with 
his damned whip ? " 

A low curse came from Winter. The soimd of it in- 
flamed Benny. 

"I — I feel like killing him sometimes! I do! And I 
would if ... " He tailed off inarticulately. 

Winter broke a moody silence. 

"It's a mistake to talk like that, Benny. He's made 
me feel more bitter than you can dream of, on account of 
my girl. But I keep my feelings to myself. They don't 
do him or me any good." 

If Bowman had been aware of Benny's threat and his 
fear lest he should "get sweet" on Jackie, he would have 
been amused. He only thought of her as a yoimg spitfire, 
but a spitfire "with money in her."- So far that was all 
that interested him. He hardly spoke a word to her on 
the way back to the inn. When they got there he showed 
her the bedroom in the summer-house, left her in it, and 
went to fetch the small travelling basket which contained 
the clothes for her part. 


"There you are," he said. "That's your wardrobe. 
You'd better try the things on now." 

Jackie took the dresses out of the basket, spangled 
gauze skirts, tights, and a kind of Peter-Pan suit. 

"What are you looking so glum about, Miss Particu- 
lar?" queried Bowman. "Don't you like your room?" 

"The room does not trouble me," she replied. "One 
day I will have a gold bed and carpets of silk. It is this 
dress I do not like. It will not fit. It is too small. It is for 
a very little girl." 

" What else are you, I 'd like to know? You try it on at 
once. I 'U tell you whether it fits or not. You 'U find me 
in the parlour. And be sure and put that dust-cloak over 
you. I '11 have my costumes treated carefully. And don't 
you try to run off, because I can see from tfie window." 

He left her, banging the door behind him in spleen. 
Rehearsals never improved his temper, and this was the 
hour when he usually hankered to begin quenching his 
thirst. He did so now in the bar, before going into the 
parlour, where he found Benny and Winter. 

Winter had also had a drink, a rare thing with him. 
But he had felt the need of a little Dutch courage before 
tackling Bowman on two matters that troubled him. 

"Guv'nor," he commenced, "I don't want you to take 
it amiss, but that new child ought n't to sleep outside. 
Why can't she put up with Mrs. Mant? I slept in the 
summer-house last night, so I know what it's like. It's 
damp, and the door does n't lock." 

"You mind your own business," growled Bowman. 
"The kid's no concern of yours. Do you think she's 
scared of mice? " 

" I dare say not. I was thinking more of men — tramps. 
I've seen one or two about. It is n't a proper place for 
her/' he added doggedly. 


Bowman jeered at him. 

** Blooming old woman you are! Anything else you'd 
like to say?" 

"Yes. I've heard from — from Milly. There's a 
message for you." 

Winter took a letter from his pocket and handed him 
one of the sheets. Bowman scowled as he took it. When 
he had read it he tore it up and flung the pieces into the 
empty grate. 

"That's all there is to that," he said disdainfully. 
"I'm 'not called on to provide for every girl who wants 
a husband. You can tell her I've no objection to her 
joining the company again if she likes. But, mind you, 
that 's as far as I '11 go. She 's got no hold on me, and she 'd 
better understand it." 

It would be hard to say which of the two — Winter or 
Benny — was the more stung by his callousness. Win- 
ter's frail frame quivered, but his age and malady seemed 
to weaken his spirit and make him impotent to resent it. 
But Benny's face was inflamed with a fierce rage. He 
felt the lost strength of his athletic boyhood surging back 
into his body, stiffening it to a bitter revenge on Winter's 
account as well as his own. He knew, better even than 
Winter, how Bowman, by means of threats and lies and 
cajolery, had debauched the actor's daughter and then, 
tiring of her, had openly broken down every remnant 
of her pride. It was but one of many incidents of the 
kind, for Bowman, bully and libertine and coarse though 
he was, had a way with a woman when he was sweet on 

"You've spoilt her life," lamented Winter. "She'll 
never hold up her head again!" 

"Pooh!" scoffed Bowman. "What she could do with is 
a bit more spirit. Like that kid, Jackie. A bit more — " 


He came to a sudden stop as Jackie herself flung open 
the door and burst mto the room, a miniature whirlwind 
in a dust-cloak. This she cast from her passionately and 
stood, panting, clad in the spangled dress she had com- 
plained of. It was too small. It exposed nearly as much 
of her as it covered. It revealed her, not as a child, but 
as a very shapely girl on the verge of womanhood. The 
limitations of the dress bore witness to the exquisiteness 
of her figure. 

"Attend! This is what I will not wear!" she cried in a 
frenzy. "The hooks, they do not meet. I strangle! I 

Bowman said not a word. He did not even appear to be 
angry. As though hypnotized he went up to her and laid 
a conciliatory paw on her curly head. 

But Benny, who knew every phase of his cruel natiuie, 
his moods and deviltries, saw in that intent gaze of his 
what Jackie in her innocence and inexperience could not 
possibly guess at. 

Big JBill was "sweet" on Jackie. . . . 

Through the tiny window of the summer-house a star 
peeped at Jackie. She was sure it was her own bright 
star. It made her think again of her "m'sieur," with the 
kind, twinkling eyes; and before she slept she breathed 
a quaint request to St. Anthony, restorer of missing ob- 
jects to those who rightly beseech him, to give her back in 
due course her lost "milord." 

She did not at all mind the isolation of her bedroom. 
Its outdoor situation gave her the feeling of being nearer 
to Mother Nature (whom all unknowingly she wor- 
shipped), the watching trees and the dreaming flowers. 
Besides, fear of any kind was foreign to her. In her 
simple trust she believed in God's ability to take care 
of her. 

As she lay in her camp-bed she thought drowsily of the 
new people who had crowded into her life that day. First 
and foremost came her m'sieur; Bowman, whom she 
would continue to hate whatever favours he might be- 
stow on her in the way of stage frocks; Benny with the 
suffering face; and John Winter with the sad, sorrowful 

The two latter had both been very silent that evening. 
Benny had seemed alert and watchful. In a dim way she 
had the conviction that he was guarding her. It made her 
feel additionally safe and protected. . . . 

With that thought in her mind she fell asleep, deeply 
and dreamlessly, and did not wake till early morning. 

A church bell was striking six. The sun, with early 
summer warmth, was streaming in at her window. An 
oratorio of bird music clamoured to her to get up, to 


breathe the summer morning, to wade through dewy 
grass, to gather flowers. 

She sprang out of bed and dressed at speed. She felt 
immensely aUve; a song was on her lips. But as she 
pushed open the door it changed to a startled ciy. 

Right close up to the door, on the step, doubled up, 
lay Bill Bowman. 

For a moment she thought he was asleep and won- 
dered why. But his contorted face sent the belief flying. 
With hesitating fingers she bent and shook him. He did 
not stir. Then for the first time in her life fear seized on 
her, for close beside him she caught sight of a knife — a 
knife spotted and stained . . . and on the ground beneath 
his body another and a larger stain, a horrid ruddled 
patch . . . 

But it was the knife rather than the bloodstains that 
unnerved her. It made her mind jump to a definite con- 
clusion. It did not explain what had brought Bowman 
there, but it instantly pomted to the identity of his 

For the knife was Benny's, a property one used by him 
in the play. Yesterday, after rehearsal, Bowman had told 
him to bring it back to the inn to be sharpened. During 
the evening the former had shown it to Jackie and had 
pointed out with some pride that it was of Indian origin, 
and drawn her attention to the hilt, once encrusted with 
precious stones, long since removed. His imagination, 
stimulated by overindulgence in spirits, conjured up for 
her edification pictures of a sanguinary past in which the 
knife had wickedly figured. 

Benny had not joined in this conversation. He had sat 
broodingly apart in the watchful attitude which Jackie 
at the time had remarked. But he had looked intently at 
Bowman when he jestingly offered her the knife in case 


she would like it as a protection at night. Not taking the 
offer seriously, she had declined it, handed it to Benny, 
and soon afterwards had gone off to bed. 

And now here it was beside the prostrate body, sure 
evidence seemingly of Benny's guilt! 

Without a moment's hesitation she snatched it up and 
wiped the blade on the grass. She did it with the dire 
feeling that the whole imiverse was a witness to the act 
but that did not prevent her from removing every vestige 
of blood. Once more she stepped over the huddled figure 
that blocked the doorway into the summer-house. Her 
eyes searched it for a place in which to conceal the knife. 
Soon the alarm would be given. People — the police, 
perhaps — would be clamouring about the body, looking 
for a weapon. She did not doubt that Benny had killed 
Bowman. True he was a cripple and slow of movement, 
but he could walk. And when people were desperate 
strength came to them. Had not Benny expressed the 
deepest hatred of Bowman? Had he not said, ''If he so 
much as hurt a hair of your head, I believe I 'd get the 
strength to lay him out!" 

Jackie's active brain began reconstructing the happen- 
ings of the night. For some reason Bowman had come 
out — perhaps to make sure she had not run away. Benny 
must have seen him start and followed him in the dark- 
ness. . . . Her paramount idea was to screen Benny. He 
had done this awful thing because he mistrusted Bowman 
and probably thought he intended doing her some harm. 
Benny had said that when he drank he was a devil. He 
had been drinking last night. Until this moment she had 
not attributed any sinister motive to Bowman; but now 
she remembered having sensed danger from him. She 
could not explain to herself what it was. All she knew was 
that his manner had undergone a sudden and subtle 


change. She had seen it in his face, a something that had 
aroused in her a great repugnance and a great animosity. 

None the less was she appalled by the deed. In spite 
of her own lawless t^nperament she was innately gentle. 
Revenge was foreign to her nature. That was because she 
was a girl. Men, she knew, were different. Men's tastes 
were bloody. The Great War had shown it. The every- 
day life of Soho showed it too. And that was why Benny, 
poor maimed Benny, had nursed his wrongs and his hate 
until they had driven him to momentary madness re- 
sulting in this crime. 

Her first instinct was to secrete the knife. This she did 
in her stocking. Then, with trepidation, she once more 
approached the unconscious man. She unfastened his 
collar, coat, and shirt and laid her hand upon his heart. 
It was beating, steadily and slowly. She wrenched back 
the coat farther to discover where he was hurt. A flesh 
wound imder the shoulder showed where the knife had 
got home. To Jackie, unused to such a sight, it looked 

While thus engaged her thoughts were racing. First of 
all she must give the alarm, get him attended to, and be- 
fore awkward questions were asked or a hue and cry 
raised she must get away with Benny — right away, at 
once, back to London. But how? It would take days to 
walk there, and Benny was not capable of so much exer- 
tion. Of money she had n't a penny. 

The chink of coins in Bowman's pocket as she moved 
him put an idea into her mind that made her flush with 
shame. But the idea persisted. Determined to carry it 
out, she swallowed her pride. What she would not have 
stooped to do for her own sake she was ready to perform 
for Benny's. 

Registering a vow that if needs be she would beg in 



the streets until she had accumulated sujQSdent to return 
what she must now steal, she put her hand in Bowman's 
pocket and took from it all she foimd there, five shillings 
and some coppers. It was not enough for her puipose. 
Desperate now, she began searching for the letter-case, 
out of which she had seen him take notes to pay their fare 
down to Cradeley. She found it. There were ten poimds 
in it. She took three, and was putting back the case when 
Bowman quite suddenly opened his eyes. The malignant 
expression in them showed that he must have returned to 
consciousness some minutes back, for he exhibited no 
sudden surprise at what she was doing. The look he gave 
her was simply one of intense venom. 

"So that's what you're up to, you little cat," he said 
thickly. "Going through my pockets! Thought I was 
dead, eh?" 

He dragged himself into a sitting posture. 

Relief at finding he was able to speak and to be venge- 
ful made Jackie forget the shame she felt at being dis- 
covered in the act of picking his pocket. 

" You revive ! You live 1 " she cried. "Wait, I fetch you 

She flew to the jug on her washstand, but when she 
offered him the water to drink, he waved it away, con- 
signing it to the place where assuredly one day, if men 
have their deserts, he would crave for a cup of it in 

"What have you taken out of my pocket?" he de- 
manded furiously. "Tell the truth, you blessed Apache." 

"Three pound five shilling," answered Jackie, pale but 
composed. "For a loan I take it, that is all. I am not a 

Bowman swore. Half the night he had lain in a drunken 
stupor. His wound was superficial. He did not feel any 


different from what he usually felt after a night of heavy 
drinking. His head ached and his temper was ugly. The 
dull pain in his shoulder hardly troubled him. 

"Put that money back," he commanded. 

"I wished to buy a new dress with it, that is all," 
Jackie said with a plausibility that deceived him. 

"Oh, well, then, you can keep it. I'll dock it out of 
your screw. You and I have got other accounts to settle. 
A great deal more than three poimds five, I can tell you, 
my pretty dear." 

"Settle with me later," she agreed. "Now you are 
hurt, I must call for help." 

"You can call for help when I tell you to," he glow- 
ered. "Devil of a hurry you're in, all of a sudden, con- 
sidering you left me Ijdng here all night!" 

"I? No, I did not know. Only just now when I — " 

"Pretended to be surprised, eh? Oh, yes, I know all 
about that." He nodded cunningly. "You wait!" He 
leant on the step, and the leer he gave her was one of 
mingled menace and thwarted desire. "I've something 
to say to you first — while my breath lasts. . . . Yester- 
day, coming down in the train you said you'd hate me 
for ever. I did n't mind your kid's tantrums. But last 
night" — his voice shook — "when you turned up in a 
fury in your stage rig, I saw all of a sudden you were n't 
a kid at all. Oh, yes, there was plenty of the woman about 
you. Easy to see, it was. You fetched me, right enough." 


"Oh, you know what I mean. I got struck on you." 

The uncertainty in her face incensed him. 

"Fell in love with you, if you prefer it put that way," 
he snapped. 

The declaration exasperated her. She showed it by a 
scornful laugh. 


"In love? Oh, but that is droll!" 

"You won't think it so droll when I've finished. I 
tell you I was mad for you. Last night, if you 'd asked me 
for the moon I 'd have got it for you if I could. I was like 
that — soft!" 

Bowman soft! It amazed her to hear him use the word. 
Last night he had been soppy, not soft. The drink had 
done it. She knew. She had seen the same effect before 
in others. Madame Lemine was like that. When she had 
had two or three glasses of cognac she would weep and call 
Jackie her petite ange. But next day there was always a 

"Whether you love me or hate me, it matters not," 
she declared. "I don't care. But I do care that you re- 
cover. How much are you hurt? " 

He frowned at her, not sure whether her indifference 
was real or assiuned. 

"Hurt? Is that all you call it? Attempted murder's 
the right word. Not that you want telling. You'll be 
asking me next, who did it? D' you think I don't know? 
I know as well as you do!" 

Jackie shut her lips tight. She was not going to be 
trapped into giving Benny away. She did not appreciate 
that Bowman, far from suspecting Benny, was actually 
accusing herself. 

Last night, as he had admitted, the unexpected display 
of Jackie's shapeliness had, like the drink he had taken, 
gone to his head. He had sat up long after the inn had 
closed for the night and, all his passions inflamed, stimi- 
bled out into the darkness and made his way imsteadily 
to the summer-house. He would n't startle her. No, he 
would just go and see if she was asleep, and if not, well 
— kisses were sweet, and Jackie — he kept seeing her in 
the low-necked spangled dress — was a "spicy morsel." 


. . . She would struggle a bit, of course, when he took her 
in his arms, for that was her way. But in the end she would 
knuckle luider like Winter's daughter and the other ob- 
jects of his short-lived amours. There was fire and spirit 
in Jackie. She would fan the flame of love. She could n't 
help it. . . . She was n't the sort a man would get tired of 
quickly either. He could imagine being sweet on her 
for quite a long time. Yes, "fair soft" he felt about 

And all the while she had been fooling him! That was 
his belief now. He believed she had not gone to bed at all. 
She had probably been sitting out there in the darkness 
with the knife ready in her hand, waiting for him, like 
the little tiger-cat she was, guessing he would come, be- 
cause she must have seen how she had " fetched " him. His 
recollection was that last night she had put the knife 
away after he offered it to her. In that case she must have 
got hold of it again later on. Anyway, when just now he 
opened his eyes, there she was, hiding it in her stocking. 
AU his overnight "softness" was superseded by another 
emotion, the acid vindictiveness of a trapped beast against 
the shackles that hold it. He was of the imf orgiving type 
that deems itself injured by a woman's resistance, even 
when she acts in self-defence — the type that can foment 
within itself the sour enmity which has its roots in the 
soil of sex-antagonism. His whole being was saturated 
with the venom of it. 

"Yes," he spat out, "I know who knifed me as well as 
you do. But I 'm going to keep it to m3rself . I 'm going 
to save it up. It don't suit me to take my revenge in a 
police-court. Not yet awhile, anyway . I 've my own ideas 
of getting my own back. I can afford to wait." 

Jackie did not understand the threat. She thought he 
might be delirious. For that reason she was not afraid 


when he managed to raise himself and clutch at her arm. 
She was able to shake him off without much difficulty. 

"If I do not go for help you may die," she said. 

"Don't you calculate so much on my dying," he raved. 
"I'm not near it, my girl. You can bet on that. I'm 
going to live and hold you just here." He hollowed a 
shaking hand. " Going to teach you to eat out of it; going 
to tame you. You may snap and you may scratch, but in 
the end you'll come to heel at the crack of my whip, 
because you'll know what it means if you don't. And 
I 'm going to love you when I like and hate you all the 
time. . . • I'm going to see fear look out of your eyes be- 
fore I 've done with you. Don't you imagine the hate 's all 
on your side. You 're going to pay me for what you 've 
done, and wish yourself dead for having done it!" 

Jackie made no rejoinder. She merely brought a pillow 
from her bed, placed it under his head; and ran indoors for 


Benny woke with a start and sat up in bed. All his sleepy 
faculties were centred on something — something grue- 
some. He seemed to have been dreaming it all night. It 
affected him like a challenge. He shared the room with 
Bowman, but Bowman's bed was empty. To all appear- 
ance it had not been slept in. Influenced by his dream, 
disquieted by it and the sight of the empty bed, which 
confirmed his nocturnal fears, he rapped impetuously 
against the wall as a summons to Winter in the next room. 

Almost immediately Winter came in. Benny looked at 
him in surprise. 

"Why, you're dressed!" he exclaimed. 

"Yes. Made a mistake in the time. Thought it was 
half-past seven instead of barely six. Are you going to get 
up? I '11 give you a hand with your clothes. Where's the 
guv'nor? " 

"I don't know. I can't think." By this time Benny was 
more bewildered than sleepy. "I don't remember him 
coming to bed. Perhaps he stayed downstairs and went to 
sleep in a chair." 

"Very likely," Winter agreed indifferently. 

He helped Benny out of bed. When the boy's feet 
touched the floor a twinge of pain racked him. It was 
nothing unusual. His day always began and ended with 
pain, but in the morning he was always more sensitive to 
it than at other times. As a consequence, dressing was 
invariably a long proceeding. Bowman, when there, was 
apt to render him assistance in a way that was more 
drastic than pleasant, but Winter had almost a woman's 
deftness. But for his kindly help both in private and pub- 


lie Benny would often have collapsed. His sense of grat- 
itude to Winter went deep. 

"Feel bad?" asked Winter sympathetically. 

"Not much more than usual," said Benny, though he 
was grey about the lips because of his throbbing back. He 
sat down on a chair to rest. "Pain takes the pluck out of 
you when it never stops," he added apologetically. 

"There's not much want of pluck about you, sonny." 

"There is — in everything to do with the boss. It's 
only when he's out of sight I feel equal to standing up to 
him; but when he comes near me I'm like a dog who ex- 
pects a thrashing and only wants to slink into a comer." 

His face and his attitude were full of dejection. Pres- 
ently he got up slowly and with Winter's help finished 
dressing. His eyes kept going to the empty bed. 

"What's wrong with you?" asked Winter. 

"I want to tell you something," Benny said suddenly. 
•'It's bothering me. It's a dream about — Jackie." 

"Go on," said Winter. 

"Last night I was thinking of her when I went to bed 
and till I fell asleep. You saw the look that brute gave 
her when she came into the parlour in a paddy because 
her dress did n't fit?" 

Winter nodded. 

"And you know what he was thinking?" 

Again Winter nodded. 

"It made me afraid for her." 

"So it did me." 

"And I went to sleep with it on my mind," Benny 
stopped, as though he did not quite know how to express 
himself. "I did n't tell you how we came to be friends 
so quickly. I will now, because in a way it helps to explain 
my dream. You know Bowman got her at an agency in 
liOndon yesterday afternoon. She told me all about it. 


She did n't want to come. She wanted to run off. He left 
her downstairs with me and told me to keep an eye on her 
while he went to the theatre. I did n't take much notice 
of her at first I did n't particularly care what the new kid 
was like, except that I felt sorry for any girl who had to 
stand for that stock-whip act. Well, she had tea and then 
she tried to do a bolt. I told her what the boss would most 
likely do to me if he got back and found she 'd quitted. 
She came back then to where I was on the sofa and sat 
right down on a stool by my side and took my hand and 
looked at me with those great eyes of hers. They were 
brimming over. Tears — forme! Because she was sorry 
for me! From that minute on I 'd have done anything for 
her. Just to know she was sorry because I was a cripple 
made crookedness and pain seem worth while. All the time 
she kept on looking at me and putting my hand to her face 
in a baby-way she's got, and I felt as though the sun had 
come out and was warming me through and through — 
warming all the pain out of my back and the bitterness 
out of my heart. All of a sudden I seemed to understand 
why birds sing and children play and people are happy. 
Before that anything to do with happiness only seemed a 
sort of fairy story. 5A« altered it all. It 'smighty strange." 

"Not so strange as you think," Winter said thought- 

" We were promising to be friends when Bowman came 
back. He laughed at us, the sneering brute! It made me 
afraid he 'd begin making Jackie's life a misery to her. You 
saw how pleased he was with her at rehearsal. I heard him 
tell her he 'd give her a box of chocolates. While he kept 
thinking of her just as a kiddy she was safe enough; but 
last night when she came in in that spangled dress, when 
we saw — and he saw — that she was n't a kid at all, 
but a — a girl growing up" — a flush stained Benny's 


face — "there wasn't any mistaking what was in his 
mind. I knew what he meant by the way he looked at 
her. It made me hate him worse than I did when the 
doctor told me I 'd never be more than a cripple for the 
rest of my life! I understood then something of what the 
men over in France must have felt when they had to 
stand by and see the filthy Germans kissing and insulting 
their sisters and wives. Bowman was kissing and in- 
sulting Jackie with that look of his." 

Winter turned his face away. 

"I saw," he said dolefxiUy. "He used to look at my 
Milly Uke that. Thinking his beastly thoughts! Go on, 

"Last night I was dead tired. I meant to keep awake 
till he came up to bed, so that if he was more drunk than 
usual, or started to prowl aroimd, I should be able to call 
you. But now I don't know whether I went to sleep or 
not. I don't know whether I was awake or dreaming. I 
believe — I hope I was asleep because I dreamt" — he 
paused a moment, and then lowered his voice to a whis- 
per — "dreamt I kiUed Mmr 

Winter, sitting on the bed, gave a start. Through dry 
lips he silently repeated the last two words. His fingers 
twitched nervously. Then he said: "You were dreaming, 
right enough. People often do things in dreams that they 
would n't do awake. Try and forget it." 

"But I can't! It was all so real and it kept on for so 
long. All night it seemed. I could n't wake up and yet 
somehow I felt awake. You know the way dreams have. 
This one was ghastly! My back was n't hurting at all. 
All of a sudden I was strong. I was waiting up for Bow- 
man. He did n't come. Then I went down to die parlour 
and fetched that knife. It was on the mantelpiece where 
Jackie put it. I took it and waited on the landing. You 


can see out into the garden from there. I seemed to wait 
for hours. Next, I saw Bowman come out into the gar- 
den. He stumbled all over the place like a blind man. 
He was blind — blind drunk. You know what he 's like 
then. When I saw where he was making for — the sum- 
mer-house — I went blind, too — blind with ragel I 
don't know how I got downstairs, but — in the dream — 
if it was a dream — I followed and caught him up. He 
was standing by the summer-house door, calling Jackie, 
talking sweet imder his breath and swearing. It soimded 
as if he did n't know the difference between curses and 

JLAdwCS. ... 

" Could you see out there — in your dream? " Winter 

''Yes, it was moonlight. I saw him put his hand out to 
push the door open. I could n't stand that. I could n't 
wait any longer. And I wasn't afraid. Somehow I 
seemed to have the strength of a horse. I had the knife 
in my hand and I drove it into him. He did n't cry out. 
He just dropped where he stood. . . . And then the moon 
seemed to go out and I felt myself falling and falling — a 
horrible way down — until suddenly I woke up here in 

Beads of perspiration stood on Benny's forehead. The 
telling of the nightmare story almost left him breathless. 
Its effect on Winter was hardly less distressing, but he 
concealed it. 

"Forget it. Don't talk about it," he said again, un- 

" I wish I could. Even now I 'm awake it does n't seem 
like a dream. It's too real. It might have happened." 

He got up and limped to the door. 

"Where are you going?" asked Winter. 

"Down to the parlour to get that knife. Then I shall 



really know it was a dream. Until I do I shan't be com- 

Winter did not dissuade him. He followed him out of 
the room and helped him downstairs. 

"I may have had the strength of a horse in my dream," 
the boy muttered on the way down, "but I'm weaker 
than half a rat this morning." 

In the parlour he went straight to the mantelpiece. 
The only things on it were a cheap clock and a pair of 
brass candlesticks. He turned a scared face on Winter. 
"My God! It isn't here! . . . Winter, you don't think . . . ? 

Winter drew him away. 

"No, I don't," he said sharply. "Take a pxiU at your- 
self. What's got you?" 

"I wonder!" Benny's eyes were fixed. "Men walk in 
their sleep. A man might do murder in his sleep. Look 
at your own face in the glass. You do think something. 
You know you do!" 

"I don't think anything of the sort," was Winter's 
reply. He tried to speak stoutly, but his voice shook. 
"Bowman will turn up directly in a deuce of a temper, 
ringing all the bells in the place for breakfast before it 's 
ready, same as usual. It's early yet." He looked at his 
watdb. "It's only half-past six." 

The parlour had two windows. One of them looked 
directly on the siunmer-house; the other gave a view of 
the garden door, by which Bowman might be expected to 
enter. Benny went slowly to the latter and stared out of it 
with an unconvinced look on his face. 

"If I got up and took that knife in my sleep," he pro- 
pounded to himself, "what did I do with it?" 

"You didn't take it," Wmter insisted. "It — it'U 
turn up, same as the guv'nor." 

They stood together looking out on the dew-drenched 


garden, all a-sparkle in the morning sunlight. In the 
house everything was quiet; nobody was up yet. Outside, 
except for the birds, there was equal stillness. The uni- 
versal calmness reacted on Benny. His doubts and fears 
began to lessen. As he was about to turn from the window 
his ears caught a sound. Then he saw something that 
made him clutch spasmodically at Winter's arm. 

Along the path that led from the garden to the door 
came Jackie, preceding two men carrying an improvised 
stretcher with the man they both dreaded and hated 
prostrate upon it. 

Winter ahnost used roughness in pulling Benny away 
from the window. He pushed him into a chair, and with a 
strength that was surprising in one of such poor physique, 
held him there. 

"I'm going to see what's happened," he said. "You 
must n't come. You 're to stay here. Promise me you 
won't stir. If — if the guv'nor 's had an accident you 'd 
be no use." 

"What sort of an accident do you — " 

"How should I know?" was the harsh interruption. 
"You're not to come out." 

Benny shivered. 

"But — if he's badly hurt!" he faltered. "If I did it 
in my sleep — " 

"Who'd believe you did it in your sleep?" Winter 
lowered his voice, speaking quickly. "For God's sake — 
for all our sakes — keep quiet about your dream. It's — 
it's only a coincidence. Why, I've dreamt I — of things 
happening to him — over and over again. He'd have 
been dead long before now if — " 

He broke off, listening to the men mounting the stairs 
with their burden. Benny heard them, too, and his breath 
came quick. 


"Then you do think — " he quavered. 

"No, I don't, I tell you ! Give me your word you 'U stay 
here till I come back." 

"Oh, I'll stay. I'm dreaming still, I suppose. Why 
can't I wake up?" 

Winter went out quickly, dosing the door after him. 
Benny had no idea how long he waited there. As in his 
dream, time seemed to be abrogated. Hours might be 
minutes and minutes eternities. 

A touch on his shoulder roused him. Jackie stood be- 
side him. Her compassionate heart went out to him when 
she saw the agonized expression in the face he turned upon 
her. If before this she had been in any doubt as to his 
guilt, that look would have dispelled it. 

"Jackie!" he cried, "what have I done? What have I 
done? I think I 'm going mad. Where did you find him? " 

"Upon the step." 

"And the knife?" 

"I found that also. I 'ave taken it to 'ide it." 

"Then you think I did it in my dream?" 

"I do not understand what you mean about a dream. 
But now there is no time to talk. I have money. It is 
necessary that we go at once. We must not waste a 
moment. You must throw yourself on Jackie." 

"You mean — run away?" he asked breathlessly. 

"There is nothing else. In London we will 'ide. Oh, 
Benny, do not stop to ask me questions." 

"But if he dies, Jackie — " 

"He will not die. In the fewest of days he will be well 
again, and then, as you know, he will be seven times a 
devil. I think he would kill you. There is a train to 
London in a quarter of an hour. I have looked. If you 
wait we shall miss it I Would you not trust me?" 

Trust her! Benny swallowed back a sob. 


"Oh, Jackie," he said brokenly, "you Ve got a star to 
follow. You Ve said so. You want to be famous, to make 
a career. You 're boimd to, anyhow, but you don't want 
to saddle yourself from the very start with a cripple, just 
because you promised to be his friend. I give back your 
promise. You go. I '11 stay and face it out." 

But Jackie, detemtiined on the coiu^e she meant to 
tread, however far it might diverge from the orbit of her 
star of destiny, was not to be turned from it. In her 
resolve to link her virile young life with Benny's broken 
one she glimpsed something of the exquisite mystery of 
sacrifice — the quasi-divine spirit which moves the inno- 
cent to suffer for the guilty, the yoimg to succour the old, 
and the strong to care for the weak. 

She did not answer him in words. Instead she gave 
him a soft look that sent a wonderful glow through his 
heart. For that look alone he would have followed her to 
the ends of the earth, though he had to limp on a crutch 
all the way. 

Jackie held out her hand and helped him to his feet. 
Already she was shaking off her obsession about Bowman 
and his hurts. She had heard the doctor who had been 
summoned say that he would be well in a few days. She 
heard London calling, the London in which she had al- 
ready known himger and cold, blows and hardships, the 
London her alien heart already loved, because one day, 
when she had conquered it, she firmly believed it would 
take her to its own. . . . 


Lady Maxleury, formerly Virginia Carter, set down her 
cojffee-cup on the luncheon table, and rose. 

" Come into my room, Mervyn," she said. "I asked you 
to-day because I knew I 'd be alone and I wanted to have 
a talk." 

Carter got up and followed his stately sister through 
the celebrated pink marble hall of Portlington House. It 
bristled with arms and armour, was himg with tapestries 
of wonderful rarity and portraits that were historical. 
Portlington House and the air of state pertaining to it 
rather got on Carter's nerves. He loved beautiful sur- 
roundings, the beautiful in words, paint, art, music, or 
women. He could appreciate the treasures of Portling- 
ton House better than a good many people, but the life of 
almost regal splendour in which his sister lived did not 
appeal to his retiring tastes. 

To Virginia herself the house and all that it contained 
epitomized everything that she had aspired to and 
attained in life — complete and exclusive social success. 
On the marriage which made her the second wife of the 
Earl of Marlbury she had reached the summit of her 
ambition. With the adaptability of a clever woman she 
had shed any republican tendencies she might once have 
held, and definitely established a position for herself as 
one of the most distinguished young women in society. 
She was an excellent hostess (who never forgot that she 
had entertained Royalty), a conscientious stepmother 
(Marlbury had a grown-up daughter), and above all, 
although she was not yet thirty, she was a woman of the 


Looking across at her now, uniquely and splendidly 
gowned and wearing a long rope of the famous Marlbury 
pearls, Mervyn felt a touch of wistful compassion for his 
sister. In his opinion she had missed so much of the 
things that count — so very much more than she had 

For herself, she had settled down to a life that she 
well adornedy and was content. As a girl, when she in- 
herited the fortune left her by a millionaire father, she had 
deliberately chosen a state of magnificence and social 

"I'm going over to England to marry into the aristoc- 
racy," she had said to her brother. "I shall be chaperoned 
by a society lady and I'm going to have a great position. 
It 's the only thing worth while. I 've dreamt of it ever 
since I was little. It's got to come true." 

"And what '11 Sam do?" Carter had reminded her. 
Sam was a sweetheart who had grown up with her, a 
youth with his way to make. 

" Sam has n't any social ambitions," she had answered. 
"He'd never shine. He's a dod." 

Nevertheless, in her way, as Carter well knew, she had 
loved the clod, only she cared for position more. He 
wondered sometimes if she ever harked back to the old 
simple days when their father's fortime was yet in the 
making, when place and power had not turned her head 
or her heart. He knew her marriage with Marlbury could 
not possibly have been a love-match. They were hardly 
ever together in private life, though they lived in the 
same house and appeared together with commendable 
frequency in the houses of other people. Moreover, Vir- 
ginia was childless. Like most childless women she was 
inclined to be hard. 

"You're awfully quiet, Mervyn," she said, taking a 



chair opposite him. ''What has happened to you lately? 
I Ve been worrying about you." 

"There's no need," said he lightly. 

"But you have n't been near us." 

"I've been busy." 

"Looking for fiddles?" She frowned a little. "I wish 
you'd take an interest in live things, Mervyn." 

"Why, so I do," he said with a smile. "Folks interest 
me tremendously. Real ones, that is. The ones with 

"Oh, you mean artistic people who don't cut their hair 
or wash. They don't coimt. They're just a fancy, like 

"I believe you'd wash a Strad and powder its strings, 

"Do be serious! When you're married, you'll have to 
give up your bohemian friends and ways for Irene's sake. 
It's on her account I asked you here for a talk to-day. 
I sent her out on purpose. How soon can you marry 

Carter sat up in his chair. Up till now he had been 
entirely ignorant of Virginia's plans for her stepdaughter. 

"Marry her?" he echoed, completely taken aback. 
"My dear Virgie, whatever made you think of such a 

"Because it's myduty tofind her awealthyand suitable 
husband. What are you looking so astonished about? 
It would be an admirable alliance for you both." 

"But — but what does Irene say? Have you the faint- 
est reason for supposing she loves me? " 

"Girls in our position of Ufe don't think about love 
before marriage," asserted Virginia. "It comes after. 
Wealth and position are the two essentials to married 


"Are they? Is that yoiir experience? I 've never asked 
you until now. Are you happy, Virgie?" 

"I never look back," she answered shortly. "But it's 
not my affairs we're discussing now, Mervyn. It's 
Irene's and yours. She'll marry you . • • if you ask her." 

Carter lit a cigarette. 

"But I have n't the faintest intention of asking her, 
my good Virginia," he said slowly. " You 've surprised me 
altogether. I never guessed you had such a notion. A 
while back I was going to tell you something — to confide 
in you. I wonder if you '11 understand. ... At any rate, 
it may make it plain to you why I can't fall in with your 

A little frown gathered between Lady Marlbury's 
brows. Although she scented an indiscretion, she ex- 
pressed readiness to listen. Her cold and anxious gaze 
rather disconcerted Carter. He made pretence of the sun 
being in his eyes and turned his chair with its back to the 

"I told you I'd been busy," he began. "This time 
I've not been searching for a fiddle. I've been looking 
for — a girl." 

The frown on Virginia's brows threatened to become 

"A little girl," he pursued dreamily. "You needn't 
get the notion of a designing hussy who has her eye on my 
money. This child isn't grown-up yet, Virgie. Don't 
touch my dream with dross. I was in Soho last week on 
the trail of an Amati and I caught sight of her dancing 
to a barrel-organ. She was childhood and spring incar- 
nate, and she danced like a fairy. She was poetry in 
motion. When the music stopped and the crowd she'd 
collected moved off , I spoke to her. She was French. She 
said she was being trained by an old woman, and the 



place she lived in, a theatrical costumier's, was just be- 
hind where we stood. 

''I don't suppose we exchanged half a dozen sentences, 
but all the while she was casting a spell over me — a 
fairy spell. She was as bewitching as a sprite, and yet 
she was human and lonely too, I gathered. I promised to 
befriend her, but I was fool enough to let her out of my 
sight. Some one called her from inside the shop and she 
ran indoors, after promising she would slip out again that 
afternoon; but when I went back she was n't there. I 
went inside. The woman who kept the shop was sus- 
picious of me. She said there was no girl such as I de- 
scribed in the place. I 've been there again and again, but 
I ' ve never seen Jackie — that 's the name she gave me — 
any more. That's all. But it's simply made the whole 
difference in the world to me. It's the reason why I can't 
marry Irene, or any other 'suitable' girl. A fairy has 
put her fingers on my heart and bewitched me." 

He looked up and smiled at her whimsically, but there 
was a lingering sadness behind the smile. 

"Have we grown too far apart for you to imderstand? " 
he asked. "Don't tear my dream to tatters, Virgie." 

Virginia did not speak for a minute. When she did her 
voice was cold, cold as the life she had elected to live. 

"I'm glad to hear you call it a dream," she answered 
slowly. "The whole thing's absurd. You '11 never see the 
girl again. At least, I hope not. Besides, my dear Mervyn 
... a street-dancer! So very sordid!" 

"Sordid? Ah, you would call it that! Poor Virgie! 
Can't you still see the colours in a rainbow? I'm older 
than you and yet I 'm'glad to say I 'm still sentimental, 
romantic, anything you like to call it. Why, every barrel- 
organ I hear playing in the street, even the one that has 
just struck up outside, brings me a vision of my little 



dandng girl, and sends me to the window with the hope 
that, by a freak of coincidence, I may run across her again. 
Only things don't often happen so easily." 

He crossed to the window as he spoke to look out on 
the street, and then stood arrested, hardly able to believe 
his amazed eyes. For there, on the opposite side of the 
road, in the full sunlight, no dream, but a very reality, was 
Jackie — dancing! 


It was past five o'clock. Benny moved away from the 
window. He had been watching for Jackie. He went over 
to the gas-ring, took the kettle off it, and made the tea. 
Then he placed a chair at the table in readiness for her 
and went back to his vigil at the window. Jackie's pro- 
fessional work came to an end at five o'clock. To-day she 
was late. 

Presently he heard her light step on the stairs. She was 
running up faster than was her wont. She burst into the 
room, dropped the armful of parcels she was carrying, and 
flung her arms roimd his neck. Her eyes were dancing, 
her cheeks rosy. She was in some seventh heaven of 

"Ecoute, Benny — guess!" she cried. "Oh, you will 
not believe! I not know 'ow to say it! Oh, I must dance 
again! My feet will not keep still! My 'eart sings!" 

She whirled roimd the room in sheer excess of high 
spirits and then flopped breathless into a chair. 

Benny, unable to accoimt for her excitement, could 
only look on and wait for an explanation of it. Her mer- 
curial temperament was always puzzling him. She was the 
Cynthia of the moment, as changeable as the mercury in a 
barometer, for ever registering a bewildering variety of 
moods. She would become exuberant over a sunset, the 
colour of a flower, or the invention of a new dance step. 
A child crying in the street because its mother had slapped 
it would drive her to fury or to tears. It was impossible 
to keep pace with her variable humors. Every day she 
showed some new aspect. She was like sunlight, flickering 


here, there, everywhere, and she was the whole radiance 
of Benny's life. 

"Do tell me, Jackie," he entreated. "But have some 
tea first. I'll swear you Ve had no dinner." 

Jackie drew a line imder her chin. 

" Je suis jusqu'i ]k with joy! Benny, I 'ave see 'im — 
my m'sieur! I 'ave spoke with 'im. Felicitate me!" 

"Is that all?" he asked rather sourly. 

"All? It is everything! It is the answer to the prayer 
I make every night. It is the 'and of God that pidks me 
up and sets me in his path. I think to lose my friend. 
C'est vraiement belle fortime que je Tattrappe! C'est 
de merveilleuxl Oh, I cannot speak English!" 

"You seem great on making friends." There was a 
jealous note in Benny's voice. 

"I 'ope so. Life would be triste without," she said; 
but she added with quick and gentle understanding: "It 
does not signify I shall ever love you less, my Benny, so 
remove that black look from your face. My m'sieur is an 
angel. You will judge for yourself. He will be your big 
brother and your father." 

Benny commenced to pour out the tea, a minor serv- 
ice, one of the many domestic duties which he took upon 
himself. He could do so little otherwise. Jackie was not 
good at dispensing tea. In the present state of their 
finances she made it extravagantly strong and was over- 
prodigal with the sugar and the milk. 

"I don't want any brothers," he said, setting her cup 
by her plate. "I've got a little sister. That's enough for 

Though her feet were now still, Jackie's eyes still 

"You must not be greedy of your little sister," she 


"Brothers look after their sisters. That's what they're 
for," he returned sententiously. 

She made a comic face. 

"But from what would you protect me? There is no 
bad person to be afraid of now that we 'ave escape from 
the 'orrid Bowman. Oh, but I am forgetting! We have a 
feast to-day. I have made purchases. That is why I was 

She got up from the table and imdid her parcels, pro- 
ducing a cake, a pot of jam, and two peaches. There were 
sundry other packages which she did not imwrap just 

Benny stared at the peaches and then back at her in 

"Has Sassoni paid you?" he asked. 

"No, he pay on Saturday. This is a surprise — a 
wind-blow — " 

"Windfall, you mean. Did you find money in the 
street as well as your monsieur?" 

"I will tell you." Jackie helped herself lavishly to jam 
and pushed the pot across the table, where it remained 
untouched. "To-day I dance in Belgravia — " 

"Where's that?" 

"Sassoni call it so. He like the sound of the name he 
say, because it has Italian resemblance. It is a part where 
the streets are wide and more quiet, and the houses are 
big. Sassoni say it is a ' swell ' quarter, where the rich live. 
We will live there ourselves one day, perhaps, and I will 
have pink geraniums and marguerites in all the boxes of 
the windows. Also a green door with a knocker of brass 
fashioned like a face. But I go too fast. Alors, in Bel- 
gravia, Sassoni play and I dance. He was greatly pleased, 
for often there was silver instead of copper in his cap. He 
say that now I dance for him I am more profitable than 


his monkey which has mange. So I am pleased that he is 
pleased, and I dance with still more abandon. Presently 
we stop before a great house. Sassoni say a nobleman 
live there." In her excitement she spoke at a great rate. 
"And — j'6tais frapp6e d'6tonnement — while I dance, 
tenez, out of that great house, making haste down the 
steps, 'e come to me, 'olding out 'is 'and — my m'sieur 
that I 'ave lost!" Want of breath stopped her. 

''What did you do?" 

'' Sassoni stop playing and I stop dancing, and m'sieur 
and I stand there so overjoyed I But we could not make a 
long conversation because, as I tell 'im, I am engage to 
dance until five o'clock. Then he write down an address 
for me and tell me to go there to see 'im this very evening 
at seven!" Her eyes fell on Benny's empty plate. "Oh, 
Benny! You eat nothing! This jam is of a quality! And 
you do not touch it!" 

"I asked you just now how you got the money to buy 
it," he said, restraining the little hand that would have 
helped him so liberally. 

"My m'sieur put a billet de banque in Sassoni's cap. 
Sassoni is so enchanted that he give me one whole pound 
for myseU and some silver. Oh ! I nearly dance with joy 
to know it would buy us a feast! I have not like that you 
go without so many things for me." 

"Go without?" echoed Benny. Never once had 
thoughts of privation been in his mind. 

"But yes. Since we come to live 'ere there has been no 
meat to give you. For myself, I can live on a little salad 
and much bread. But it is not good food for one like your- 
self. I have thought that you are paler. En effet, one 
morning I look into the shop of a butcher and it was in my 
mind to offer to dance for him for a small portion of meat. 
Only, he tell me to go away. But now there is meat in 


plenty. I will myself make a f ricass£e with vegetables to- 
morrow. Bemiy, why do you look so sorrowful? Have 
you wait too long to 'ave hxmger? This peach is delicious. 
Shut your eyes, eat it, and figure to yourself that we are 
already installed in a fine hotel — in Belgravia!" 

"I don't want it," he demurred. 

But her chagrin was so acute that to please her he ate 
the peach and some cake as well. He enjoyed neither. 
It hurt him to know that she had accepted money to buy 
him dainties — money that came out of the pocket of the 
stranger whom she showed such pleasure in meeting 
again. He was filled with misgiving, not jealousy. He 
loved Jackie with far too slavish a love to be jealous of 
her. To her he owed the only happiness he had known in 
the whole course of his life. He adored her with something 
of the passion of a stray dog whom a compassionate 
hiunan being has befriended. True that since they had 
been together he had sometimes gone short of food, but 
that was not her fault. She as well had gone short for 
that matter, and she had a healthier appetite than he. 
Short commons did not trouble him in the very least. She 
had opened a new world to him, an Elysium in which, 
almost, he was able to support himself on happiness alone. 

Jackie, moreover, had laid her small healing hands upon 
his troubled conscience. At the outset he had confessed 
to the deed of which he believed he had been guilty in his 
sleep. In her eyes the fact that when he committed it he 
had not been conscious exculpated him entirely. Every 
night, to make doubly sure, she prayed to the Virgin on 
her knees to accord him pardon by healing his persecutor 
quickly; and when they read in a borrowed copy of the 
"Era" that the company were still on the road, his sense 
of guilt lightened, for in that case Bowman could not be 
dead or seriously injured. 


But now another care oppressed him, destroying his 
newly found happiness. Jackie's rediscovery of the man 
whom she called her "m'sieur" filled him with anxiety. 
Benny's views were of a primitive order, based on life in 
the lower plane of the theatrical world. He fervently 
desired to keep Jackie ignorant of that seamy side. 

He remained silent while she chattered on, wondering 
what he could do to protect her, make her a little more 
worldly-wise, without destroying her extraordinary 

While they washed up the tea-things together these 
thoughts still troubled him. Jackie's spirits were so high 
that she remained unaffected by his moodiness. 

"But what shall I wear for my rendez-vous? " she 
exclaimed. "I would like to be comme-il-faut to please 
m'sieur, but h61as, I 'ave nothing but my coloured scarf! 
Still I do not think m'sieur woidd take great notice of what 
one would wear. He keeps his eyes upon one's face. Oh, 
Benny, they are eyes that twinkle. And of a blueness!" 

Benny wiped the last cup dry. Then he turned im- 
pulsively to her. 

"Don't go to-night, Jackie." 

She faced him, surprised. 

"But, Benny, I 'ave promise! Is it that you do not like 
m'sieur whom you do not even know? That is foolish." 

Benny made a gigantic effort to be articulate. 

"It's nothing to do with liking or not liking him," he 
protested. "When you get older, Jackie dear, you'll 
understand that people, girls especially, ought to be 
careful of . . . Oh, it's so difficult to explain!" 

"Careful?" Jackie's shrug was immense. "But I do 
not care. Why should I ? Also, I am Jackie. I shall do as 
I like. Now and always." 

"I only want to put you wise," he floimdered. "If 


you had a mother or a sister there would n't be any need. 
. . . Old Bowman is n't the only man in the world who 's 
bad. There are lots of others. This friend of yours — " 

The brown eyes flashed. 

''If you speak against my m'sieur I shall become an- 

''I was n't going to speak against him. What I want 
to make you understand is that a man may look nice and 
seem nice, and yet never be half good enough for you, 

Jackie smiled indulgently. 

"Oh, but, Benny, it is the shoe on the other foot," she 
cried. "It is Jackie who is not good enough for her 
m'sieiu:. I am but a street dancer. The butcher when he 
tell me to go away call me a 'baggage.' My m'sieur is a 
great gentleman." She patted his arm. "Rest tranquil." 

"But I can't rest at all while you're gone," he fretted. 
"It's bad enough to sit up here all day, only able to crawl 
as far as the end of the street, and to keep thinking that 
you 're dancing the shoes off your feet to keep me ; but it 's 
worse when I think of the — the other things — the 
dangers — I can't keep you out of." 

"Poor Benny! But do not fear. My m'sieur will pro- 
tect me. And also do not forget " — she crossed herself — 
"there is God and the Holy Virgin. Now, let us be gay. 
I will show you what I buy." 

She darted over to her parcels again, and like a pleased 
child imwrapped them one by one. With the exception of 
the two peaches she had expended her money with true 
French economy. It was astonishing how much she had 
contrived to get for a few shillings. Last of all she pro- 
duced a bimch of flowers, a small coloured statue of a 
saint, two wax candles, and a cheap pair of miniature 
sconces to hold them. 


With these she repsdred to the adjoining cubbyhole 
where she slept, and after a minute or two called him in. 
On a wooden box draped in a torn piece of muslin curtain 
she had improvised a small shrine. A statue of the Virgin 
and Child — a previous possession — occupied its centre. 
The flowers in a soapdish and a shallow bowl flanked it. 
The wax candles stood alight before the new saint. 

'^I promised to St. Anthony the candles if he would 
find my m'sieur," she said piously. "The saints are very 
good. They do not forget. The candles will burn till I 
come back." 

She shook out the coloured scarf which she wore in 
place of a hat, retied it over her curls, and with a sisterly 
kiss on Benny's cheek ran off light-heartedly to keep her 

Benny stood looking at the little shrine and the candles 
burning to St. Anthony. With a little hesitation he also 
touched his breast as he had often seen Jackie do. The 
serenity of the Virgin and the benign look on the saint's 
face animated him with a sudden reverence. On imaccus- 
tomed knees he knelt painfully to pray — for Jackie. 



Carter waited in his rooms in a fidget. He was horribly 
afraid that Jackie might escape him again, and long be- 
fore the time appointed for her arrival he was in a turmoil 
lest something should prevent her coming. In this early 
stage of their acquaintance he did not attempt to analyze 
his feelings towards her. Indeed, they were of so fine an 
essence that he would have found it difficult to do so. 
A fastidious taste had kept him peculiarly immune from 
everyday affairs of the heart. The girls he had met from 
time to time, febrile dancing butterflies, products for the 
most part of the past war, aroused in him but little desire 
to know them better. Femininity in his eyes at this epoch 
was in a temperamental but not always beautiful state of 
transition. Femininity, like the world itself, seemed off 
its balance. His ideal of what a woman should be was 
based on the character of his mother, long since dead. In 
his estimation there had never been any one to compare 
with her. 

Jackie, stranger though she was, stirred hidden springs 
within ^im that no one else had ever touched; but his 
regard for her was tempered by the sympathetic for- 
bearance that one accords to a diild. Primarily she ap- 
pealed to his imagination, to all that was artistic in 
him. The small, pale, oval face, the mobile lips, the 
glorious, speaking eyes, made up a living picture that 
would always dominate his memory. One had only to look 
into Jackie's eyes to believe in the quality of genius. 
And genius is not for one man, but for all men. Carter 
intuitively realized that in whatever way his feelings 


towards her might develop, it would be an artistic sin to 
suppress or put a shackle on her talents. 

A ring at the bell sent hun hurrying to open the front 
door before his servant could reach it. He held it wide for 
Jackie to enter. It was an epoch in his life when she 
crossed his threshold. 

He was glad to see that she had not spoilt her pic- 
turesque appearance by a change of dress. He did not 
know that she had no other dress to change into. The 
organ-grinder's wife had remade the ugly frock in which 
she had come away from Soho, turning it into a full short 
skirt suitable for dancing, and in addition had provided 
her with a black velvet bodice and a muslin blouse such as 
Italian girls wear. Dressed so and with the bright scarf 
for headdress, Carter found her enchanting. 

The beautiful room into which he took her, so different 
from anything she had as yet seen, did not embarrass her. 
There was no room for malaise in one who had an innate 
love and appreciation of beauty. She was affected by 
people more than things. Just now her chief thought was 
that she could at last explain that she had not broken 
her word on the day when she had failed to meet him. 

In English a little more broken than usual, because she 
was so excited, she told him of Bowman and of how she 
had been taken away against her will to fulfil her first 
engagement on tour. She described Bowman with vindic- 
tive vehemence . The only thing she did not touch on was 
her finding of him, imconsdous, outside her door. That 
involved Benny, and accordingly had to be scrupulously 
suppressed. It was a matter between her and the Re- 
cording Angel. 

"Et puis," she concluded, "the day after I go to that 
place we make the opportunity to run away, Benny and I. 
Since then we are in London. And every nigip||^^^^^^. 

r -,11: 


je vous assure, I 'ave look at my star and pray to St. 
Anthony to discover you for me, so I should explain 'ow 
it 'appen that I was not outside at two o'clock that after- 
noon. Oh, il m'a afflig6 that you must suppose I was tell 
you lies.^' 

"I should never think that," said Carter. "But it 
troubled me also that I could not discover you." 

Disdaimng the reposeful invitation of deep, cushioned 
chairs, Jackie perched on the arm of a sofa. She regarded 
Carter with a smile of purest joy and satisfaction. 

"It is so good to be here with you!" she exclaimed; 
and then suddenly asked: "Comment dois-je addresser 
m'sieur? " 

" Je m'appelle Carter — Mervyn Carter," said he. 

"Merrveen! Quel jolinom!" 

"You like it? Then call me by it instead of m'sieur." 

" Je veut bien," she declared, greatly gratified. "But 
I must not remain too long because Benny is alone all day. 
I 'ave tell him you are my friend, but he do not believe 
because he has not see you. Is it — convenable — that 

m'sieur — " 

" Mervyn," he corrected. 

"Pardon. That you would have the goodness to return 
with me to — to faire sa connaissance? " 

"Quite — convenable. But, Jackie, you have n't told 
me who Benny is yet. When I first met you you were 
alone. Is Benny a dog?" 

"But, no," she cried. "He is a boy. I have adopt 'im 
as Madame adopt me. Benny is my brother now. He is 
a cripple, because that bad man. Bowman, drop him de 
haut en bas, so that for many years he 'as been in pain. 
That is why when I run away I bring 'im also with me. Is 
it not right? D'ailleurs, I 'ave love for 'im. When I was 
little I recollect that I 'ave two dolls. One was so beauti- 


ful and dressed in silk; but the one I love best 'ave no legs 
and a broken face. I think I care for it so much more 
because of its infirmities. So now that I am older Benny 
is my broken doll. When I am become famous and rich I 
will 'ave 'im mended. That is what I think all the time. 
I shall find the most distinguished physicians and I will 
offer them much money to mend 'im." 

Carter, standing at the mantelpiece, looked down at his 
little visitor with wonder and again that touch of wist- 

"Do you want to be rich and famous above every- 
thing?" he asked. "Is that your one and only dream, 

"But yes. If I had no faith in my star I should be 
desolate. Always, always I have had this dream." 

"Tell me all about it." 

"My dream to dance? It began when I was so 'igh, and 
as I grow it grow with me. In dancing it is that I show 
something that is in me always — perhaps it is mon ftme." 

"Perhaps it is," he agreed. "And if you were perfect 
in your art and were recognized as a great artiste, would 
you have your heart's desire? " 

She nodded vehemently. 

"But yes. Figure it to yourself. Be'ind the curtain I 
am all ready in my dressing-room. It is time to appear. 
I wear a dress that will make all the women £tourdies — 
what you call it? " 


"Oui, c'est ga. And the music play for my dance, and 
already my feet dance before even I come in sight, be- 
cause dancing is my m6tier. And as I come on the stage, 
I make my little steps and my big steps and my pirouette. 
There is a great silence, a great 'ush, until I take a pause; 
and then the people cry 'Jackie I Jacqueline I' and bravo 


and bis many times. And I come back once more and 
once more to kiss my 'ands. Ah!" — she took a long 
breath — "to be a great artiste! That is to live!" 

There spoke not the child, but the woman — the pro- 
phetic woman in her, the artiste to be. Mervyn recog- 
nized it, understood, sympathized. 

"Tell me more," he said. "When you have attained all 
this . . . what then?" 

"Is that not everything? " She became the child again. 
"At night I shall dance. Half the day always I shall 
practise. For the rest I shall drive in a carriage with white 
horses — or perhaps in a great white automobile, tapiss6 
en cerise, and wear great 'ats with so many feathers ..." 

Her descent from the sublime to the ridiculous made 
Carter smile. 

"Yes, so many *ats," she insisted, "and — and — 
bijouterie also. And I shall have so many toilettes that 
it will be an excitement to choose the most beautiful in 
which to receive my m'sieur — my Mer-rveen!" 

Her quick correction delighted him. 

"I think I prefer you as you are," he said, medita- 
tively. "If you're going to be so splendid what about all 
your humble friends, Jackie?" 

"All those I love will share my good fortune," was her 
quick reply. "I pull the leg of you about my 'ats and my 
dresses," she hastened to explain. "In public I would 
wear the costumes outr6s to make myself unique, n'est-ce 
pas? But at 'ome I would not be a — a scream. Oh, but I 
have so many dreams of all the things I shall do when I am 
become famous! H61as!" she added, with a swift return 
to earth, "I am only Jackie who take the place of Sasso- 
ni's sick monkey. The technique that I began to acquire 
from Madame will not improve." 

"That '3 wbatt we're going to see about presently," 


said Carter. ^'But first come and have something to 

" Oh, but no ! " she cried. " Ahready I 'ave eat so much ! 
Sassoni give me money to-day because he was so pleased 
with your cadeau — your present. So I make a market, 
and at five o'clock I have eat — mais finorm6ment! If 
you permit, you will accompany me instead to our ap- 
partement, and there we will 'ave a petit souper together, 
so that Benny may also be gay." 

Anything in the nature of a children's party would have 
appealed to Carter. Jackie's invitation had more attrac- 
tions still. There was something very compelling about 
her, a power which some day would act like a spell on all 
those with whom she was to come in contact. 

"That'll be splendid," he agreed. "But I must pro- 
vide the feast. I '11 tell my housekeeper to pack a basket 
right away." 

He left her to do so. When he came back he found her 
making a tour of inspection of the room. 

" Merveen," she said with a note of regret in her voice, 
"it is a misfortune that you are so rich. All these things, 
the porcelaines and the pictures, are of great value. Is it 
not so?" 

He assented, wondering why the fact troubled her. 

"I am sorry," she pursued, "because if you were poor 
to a degree like myself and Benny we could have been all 
comrades and searched for my star together." 

"But if I were poor to a degree," he said, laying his 
hand caressingly on her curls, "I could not help you, 
Jackie. You 've got to let me do that, you know. Per- 
haps just because I 'm rich I may bring your star a little 

"How?" she asked, raising an interested but puzzled 


He told her. He sketched for her the plans he already 
had in mind, the training she should have from Audagna 
— Audagna, the greatest dancing-master in the world, 
whom even benighted Jackie had heard of. It sounded to 
her like a fairy-tale. She listened enraptured, clasping 
and unclasping her hands. 

"You would do all this for me?" She spoke with bated 
breath. "I cannot speak I Oh, Merveen, it is magic you 
make I" 

"No, you will work all the magic, Jackie. You wiU 
weave spells with your beckoning hands and little danc- 
ing feet. But it will mean work — hard work for you and 
perhaps pain." 

"But of course. No artiste is made without work and 
pain. Everybody know that. But," she hesitated, "how 
can I accept so much at your hands? What could I do 
for you to make return? " 

"You can stay imspoilt, Jackie, as long as ever you can. 
I — I like you so." 

She nodded thoughtfully. 

"But when I grow up and I am become a woman, 
Merveen?" she inquired anxiously. "Will you be my 
friend still? Will you care for me then? " 

"Of course," he said. 

But the conventional assertion troubled him. He knew 
that it conveyed but a half-truth — knew, indeed, that he 
would care too much . . • 

"The guv'nor will be here at ten-twenty/* 

"I know, daddy." 

There was a bright blue ribbon in Milly Winter's hair. 
She had purposely put it there to mitigate the paleness of 
her face. It was a little thing, but the best she could do to 
create a good impression on Bowman. • Ever since she had 
rejoined the company a fortnight ago she had thought of 
nothing but his return. 

"You'll let me come to the station with you?'* she 

"No, better not. He'll want to talk business with me 
and Parfitt. And we 've got to break it to him about the 
French girl and Benny. He'll be in a rare temper." 

"Leave it to me to tell him. I used to be able to make 
him reasonable — once." 

An immeasurable sadness came into Winter's face. He 
put his arm round Milly's shoulder. 

" Don't get soft on him again," he entreated. " He 's no 
good to you, darling." 

Tears came into Milly's blue eyes. 

"You can't stop caring for a person once you've be- 
gun," she said under her breath. "Besides, there's things 
you don't understand, daddy. I — I 've got to go on lov- 
ing hfan." 

Winter looked away. He understood what she meant 
well enough. He realized only too bitterly the abjectness 
of the devotion, so wholly misplaced, that his bullying 
manager had inspired in his daughter. 

"He must care for me again," she went on in a quaver- 
ing voice. "After all this time, perhaps when he sees me 


and how thin I Ve got through — through loving him, 
he'll turn to me." 

"Don't talk like that," Winter said, almost harshly. 
" You 're daft about the man. I 'm sorry, for some things, 
you've come back again. What's the good of throwing 
yourself at him? Where's your pride, my girl?" 

Milly went a little paler. Into her indeterminate face, 
which ill-health had robbed of much of its charm, there 
gradually crept a look of desperation. 

"He must love me again. If I thought there was n't a 
chance of it I could n't go on living. I — I mean it." 

Winter's thoughts were too bitter for words. He sighed 
heavily and went out of the room. The stage-manager 
was waiting for him at the gate. Together they set out 
for the station to meet Bowman. 

Left alone, Milly was too disturbed to wait inactively. 
She went upstairs to her bedroom and studied herself in 
the glass. She decided to change the ribbon in her hair for 
a mauve one, and then altered her mind again in favour 
of blue. At any rate, it matched her eyes. They at least 
had n't lost colour. The whiteness of her face distressed 
her. Bill's pet name for her had been "Rosebud," be- 
cause of her rosy cheeks. He would n't like a white face. 

She took out some rouge and applied it to her cheeks 
and lips. It gave her a hectic look, made her seem nearer 
thirty than twenty. But still it was colour. . . . Perhaps 
Bill would n't thiiJt it was rouge. She dusted it over with 
powder, and pinned a bunch of imitation flowers into her 
waist. The whole effect was tawdry, but the poor child 
had not the eyes to see it. 

She went down to the sitting-room and got out a bottle 
of cheap sherry which she had bought out of her small 
salary, and a cake of her own making. There had beeh a 
time when Bowman had complimented her on her cakes. 


After a long wait she saw him coming up the road alone, 
striding along at a great pace. Her heart beat fast. She 
ran to the street door to meet him. 

Without a word he took hold of her roughly by the 
shoulders and propelled her back into the sitting-room. 

"Are — are n't you going to kiss me, Bill dear?" she 
asked in a faltering voice, raising an expectant face to 

"Kiss you? What for? I Ve come ahead of Winter and 
Parfitt because they're lying to me, and I told *em I'd 
have the truth out of you. Where 's Jackie and the boy? 
You know. I'll bet you know." 

"But how should I know. Bill dear?" she cried. "I 
never saw them. I came two days after you were taken 
ill. They were n't here then. Dad told me they ran away 
the same day." 

He held her fiercely. 

"You swear it is n't a put-up job? You haven't all 
combined to lie to me? " 

"Why should we lie to you? /never would. You know 
that. Oh, Bill, when I heard what had happened to you I 
nearly went off my head. And when they wrote me you 
might die, I made up my mind to die too," she cried, 

"Oh, don't be ridiculous. When I told your father you 
could rejoin again I remember saying it was only on condi- 
tion you were sensible." He pushed her from him. "So 
don't forget it. You know I didn't mean anything 
serious — " 

''Not serious?'' MiUy broke in. 

"No, of course not. But I am now, and I'll have no 
damn nonsense. See? " The rouge on her cheeks seemed 
suddenly to annoy him. "What have you been doing to 
your face? " 


"IVe been ill, too," she faltered. ''I thought you 
would n't like to see me pale, so I — " 

"You can paint yourself green for all I care," he in- 
terrupted, callously. "But it don't suit you. Jackie, now, 
was like a cream rose except when she flared up ... " He 
turned on her fiercely. "Who the devil has been taking 
her part all this time?" 

"I have." 

"You!" he jeered. "You in short skirts and socks! 
What next?" 

The cruel taunt made her wince. 

"You — you used to think I was pretty once, Bill," 
she half whispered. 

"Did I? Well, I've seen a lot of girls since then." He 
gave a short laugh. "One in particular who — " 

"Not the French girl?" 

"Yes, the French girl. Why not? What's it to do with 
you, anyway? I'm off to London to find her now." 

He settled his hat on his head preparatory to departure. 
She tried to detain him; made piteous attempts at 
placating him; offered him the cake and wine. All her 
^orts were coldly ignored. As he went out of the room 
he came on Winter and his stage-manager. 

"I'm off to find Jackie and the boy," he flung at them. 
"And if I don't. Heaven help the whole crowd of you for 
letting 'em slip." 

He strode past them in a towering rage, back to the 
station, and waited fimaing for the next train to London. 
The run up from Gueldstree, where the company were 
appearing that week, occupied less than an hour. On 
reaching Waterloo he made straight for the shop in War- 
dour Street and got there shortly after Madame Lemine's 
early dinner hour. She was asleep and deaf to the ringing 
of her shop bell and his impatient drubbing on the coimter. 


It was only when he went into the back room and bawled 
into her ear that she opened her eyes and sat up. 

"Oh, is it you?" she said. "I have wonder this two 
weeks why you have not sent me the salary for Jackie. 
You have come to pay me now? B 'en. Do you continue 
the engagement? " 

'Continue it? " snapped Bowman. "It hasn't begim 
yet. She has n't earned any salary." 

"What? 'Ave you also in jure Jackie so she is in hospital 
like the other?" 

"No, she isn't. She put me there instead, and I'm 
only just about again. Knifed me, that's what she did! 
Nice sort of artistes you supply, I must say ! Doing people 
in and robbing 'em and then quitting without notice. 
Where is she? Are you hiding her?" 

"But why should I hide her?" demanded the old 
woman, in genuine dismay. "It is money out of my 
pocket if she is lost. She was valuable to me. I will 
notify the police — " 

"Notify the devil! Don't you be an old fool? I think 
I see you making friends with the police! Calling the 
police in is asking for trouble. You don't want to be 
asked awkward questions, and I don't want it to come out 
I was sweet on the girl." 

Madame's eyebrows went up. 

"Sweet on Jackie I Chouette alorsl But how does that 
arrive? " 

"Oh, ask me another!" 

"You make love to her? That little coquin I Why you 
wish to do that? " 

"Why do I wish to wash?" returned Bowman surlily. 
"It's a way I've got at times, I suppose. Look here, I 
mean to find her. You say she's valuable to you. Well, 
she's valuable to me, too. She'll be the big screech one 


day. Sure and certain. She's got to be found. If she 
has n't been here, where can she — *' 

He left his sentence unfinished as the shop bell rang. 

Madame rose ponderously to answer it. Bowman fol- 
lowed her, eager to get away. She was obviously ignorant 
of Jackie's whereabouts, equally incensed at her disap- 
pearance, and unable to help him. But when he got into 
the shop he found the doorway blocked by a small Italian 
with rings in his ears and his hat in his hand. 

''Scusi," said he, and addressed Madame in the lan- 
guage of Soho, which Bowman was hardly able to follow. 
His name was Sassoni — Pietro Sassoni, he lived round 
the comer and he owned a barrel-organ — uno organo 
piano di cinque arie. But five tunes only! He was poor. 
Oh, but poor! Sono povero, poverissimo ! Could Madama 
hire him a little one to dance to his music? He could pay 
not much; but for una ragazza — a girl. So high. (He 
held the palm of his hand three feet from the floor.) 
Madama would of course ask but little. 

Madame's interest in organ-grinders would not have 
been conspicuous at any time. But in a poor one who 
could not pay it was negligible. She made that clear at 
once. The fact did not abash Pietro at all. 

"Until — a last week," he went on, "I 'ave verra good 
dancer. She make-a money better as monkey. But 
now she come no more, and the monkey is sick — scab- 
bioso. Nobody give the copper any more, and the polizia 
'e say 'move on.' A girl to dance I must 'ave. Never will 
any other dance like Jackie!" he finished mournfully. 

Bowman pricked up his ears. 

"Did you say Jackie?" he demanded, "A dancer?" 

"Si, si, signor." 

"Had she a boy with her? A cripple?" 
* The Italian could not say. All he knew was that a girl 


who called herself Jackie had accosted him in the street 
and offered to dance for him for the fewest of shillings. 
He neither knew where she lived nor what her full name 
was — nothing else about her at all. And he was in 
despair because she had failed him. His monkey 4till had 
mange and his wife yet another bambino. Without the 
assistance of a cheap little one like Jackie to dance to the 
organ he would surely starve in hard times such as these. 

Bowman took out his pocketbook and extracted from it 
a ten-shining note. Pietro looked and his fingers twitched. 

"Where do you hang out?" asked Bowman, and was 
duly informed. "Now, see here," he said. "The girl 
youVe been talking about — Jackie — belongs to Ma- 
dame here. She 's her grandma. She 's lost her." He 
gave Madame a covert wink. " She has n't any other 
dancer to hire out. But if I give you this will you hunt 
about for Jackie?" 

Pietro protested he would do nothing else. 

"Well, here you are. And here 's my card. If you come 
across her write to this address at once. Or, better still, 
wire — telegraph; and then I'll give you two more 
pounds. Understand?" 

Pietro quite understood. He pocketed the note and the 
card with profuse thanks and promises, and departed 
to begin his search subito, oh, but molto subito! 

In grim silence Bowman licked the stump of a pencil 
and wrote in his notebook. 

"My score against Jackie/' he explained to Madame. 
"It's mounting up!" 


The candles Jackie had placed before St. Anthony were 
burning low. With a pang at his heart Benny wondered 
whether she would remember her careless promise to 
return before they went out. It hardly seemed likely. 
She was so beside herself with delight at the prospect of 
meeting her m'sieur that she would be certain to forget it. 

He waited on in the semi-darkness, too despondent to 
light the lamp. This was the first evening Jackie and he 
had not spent together. He foresaw that there would be 
many such evenings: hours of anxiety and suspense for 
him, since he was unable to keep ward and watch over 
her. Already the thought rankled that it was she who 
protected him, who provided for hun, had constituted 
herself the "head of the family." The physical disability 
that made him a cripple and a creature to be pitied filled 
him with consuming bitterness. Never before in all his 
life had he so wished to be strong and straight and like 
others of his age. Although he was verging on manhood 
he had nothing to look forward to but a vista of pain- 
filled years. For the last fortnight the pain had been 
bearable, because except during her dancing hours Jackie 
had been with him. Now it was borne in upon him that 
he could not always expect to keep her tied to his side. 
She would dance away again and again, obe3ring the call 
of nature: light, music, laughter, love — and the dance- 
song of youth. 

It stood to reason that the fuller her life became the 
emptier his must grow. He pulled himself up, well aware 
that such thoughts were selfish and ignoble and unworthy 
of her. Whatever the future might hold for him, he was 


the happier and the better for having known and loved 

Sitting there, he recalled almost in detail the happy 
hours of their brief companionship, more particularly the 
inexpressibly human and tender way in which she had 
soothed him and diverted his thoughts whenever they 
harked back to his dream and the deed which he believed 
he had committed in his sleep. Every day, too, she had 
shown him fresh tendernesses, or a new phase of her many- 
faceted nature. They were none the less sweetly consoling 
because they were the tendernesses of a child. Sometimes 
he wondered what, as a woman's, they would one day 
develop into . . . what the vasts and deeps of such a love 
as she would surely inspire would mean. This was beyond 
his conjecture. But when he tried to imagine the man 
who assuredly would come into her life his heart grew 

And now at the first beckoning of a stranger she had 
flown off; so eager to be gone, so exuberantly happy. 
Why not? Their intimacy could not have held any magic 
for her; only for him. He must be satisfied with the 
cnunbs that fell from her table. He tried pitifully hard to 
drill his mind into a state of submission. 

The door of her room was ajar. The burning candles 
were fast diminishing. Anxious thoughts, fears for her 
safety, assailed him. Suppose she was mistaken in her 
estimate of this man whom she extolled so highly; suppose 
that he was nothing better than the typical stage-door 
hanger-on, the type that will accost a girl in the street 
for the sake of a light adventure? How should Jackie in 
her ines^rience know him for what he was? Girls were 
so queer. There was Milly Winter, for instance, a nice 
girl, well-brought-up in spite of the shifts of a life on tour. 
Yet Benny knew that in her love-blinded eyes Bowman, 


sober only one evening out of seven, was a positive hero. 
Milly had been a good little girl, one of the best . . . Ithad 
been a sad sight to watch the unfolding of her tragic 

Suppose Jackie got into the hands of a man like that: 
more polished, perhaps, a gentleman very likely, but as 
imscrupulous as Bowman, as ruthless in love. Would un- 
suspecting Jackie fare better than a grown woman like 

The candles before St. Anthony flickered in their sock- 
ets. In a few minutes they would be out. Benny rested 
his head in his hands. A sob shook him. He gave himself 
up to an impotent fit of weeping, realizing how little he 
could do to help his little friend if she were in danger. 

He did not hear steps on the imcaipeted stairs nor 
Jackie's voice outside cautioning somebody to " 'ave care 
on the top step because it is worn away." 

Only when the door was flimg open did he raise his head 
to discern dimly the outline of Jackie's slender figure and 
that of another behind her. 

The draught from the opened door finally extinguished 
the guttering candles in the other room. She had been 
true to her promise and had returned before they burnt 

"Benny, where are you?" she called. "I have brought 
my m'sieur. Get a light, my dear. We are going to be so 
gay altogether. Make haste." 

In the kindly darkness Benny wiped the traces of tears 
from his cheeks and groped his way to the mantelpiece 
for matches. He lit the lamp and set it in the middle of 
the table. 

The man who had followed Jackie in closed the door. 
One look at him was sufficient to dissipate all Benny's 
misgivings. This friend of Jackie's, whoever and what- 


ever he might be, was a gentleman — such a gentleman 
as Benny until now had never encoimtered, though he 
could recognize him as such on the instant. 

Kind eyes. Yes, they twinkled in the lamplight as 
Jackie had described. Friendly eyes: eyes that warranted 
the man at once, leaving one in no manner of doubt as to 
his character. He could not be a stealer of hearts or a 
betrayer of trusts. He was as straight as Benny's back 
was crooked. 

Smiling, he held out his hand, and without hesitation 
Benny placed his in the firm friendly grip. He knew that 
the traces of his tears were still upon his cheeks, but imder 
the kindly regard of the stranger he no longer felt ashamed 
of them. 

''I was anxious about Jackie," he admitted frankly. 

^'But I hastened, did I not? " she demanded. ^' And we 
have brought a petit souper with us, my dear, to celebrate 
our comradeship of three." 

The way in which she included him brought balm to 
Benny's soul. He would have been a churl to harbour any 
further jealousy. Indeed he felt none. Jackie's friend was 
already his friend. He accepted him without reserve. 

''What happiness that we all meet," cried Jackie 
ecstatically. ''Is not my m'sieur all that I have said, 
Benny? Look well at him and you will say you are glad 
that I have foimd him again." 

Carter made a deprecatory gesture and with a laugh 
said: "That's a tall order, Jackie. It's like asking him 
to swim across Charles River to get to Boston." 

The simile was lost on her, but Benny's attention was 
immediately arrested by it. 

"He must n't jump to conclusions as fast as all that," 
Carter continued. "Honest doubt is the beacon of the 
wise, Shakespeare sa}rs." 


Honest doubt ! Benny's conscience pricked him. A while 
ago his prejudices had carried him away. But he ahnost 
forgot that fact in the unexpected allusion to Boston. 

"Say," he ventured; "have you ever been in Boston?" 

"I was bom there." 

"Bom in Boston! Then you're — we're both Amen* 

Carter nodded. His twinkling eyes went to Jackie. 

"There, you hear that. A happy omen, is n't it?" 

Jackie clapped her hands. 

"America is where I go one day. All the great dancers 
go there. Oh, I am glad that you and Benny are compa- 
triots! Now we shall all three voyage there together and 
speak the same language! Mon Dieu, IJbiaste to impack 
the basket and the wine to make the celebration!" 

A comprehensible nostalgia kept Benny talking to Car- 
ter about New York and Boston while she laid the table. 

There was no cloth. She did not apologize for its ab- 
sence. She assumed that others, like herself, were gifted 
with enough imagination to make a clean newspaper 
appear the equivalent of the finest lace-edged damask that 
money could buy; and cheap crockery, by the same magi- 
cal process, transform itself into dainty china. Benny was 
accustomed to this game of make-believe, because Jackie 
was always playing at it with the seriousness of a child, to 
whom dreams, topsy-turvily, are still realities. But to 
Carter the mind-magic, which could conjure fires into 
empty grates and carpets on bare boards, was a new and 
delightful thing. It brought Jackie and fairyland into still 
closer relation. 

As a finishing touch she fetched St. Anthony — di- 
rectly responsible for this happy meeting — and placed 
him with all due solemnity in the centre of the table, 
flanked on either side by his bowls of flowers. 


If the table appointments were meagre the viands with 
which Carter's housekeeper had filled the basket made 
up for them. In Jackie's eyes it contained imbelievable 
dainties. Her candid enjoyment of them all and her 
enthusiasm over weak claret and water made Carter feel 
like a schoolboy at his first play. Af terwards, disdaining 
assistance, Jackie cleared away and washed up. She con- 
ducted the latter operation at a sink on the landing out- 
side, leaving her two friends to entertain one another. 

A fine instinct had already apprised Carter of Benny's 
solicitude for Jackie. It showed in his eyes whenever he 
looked at her, in his voice whenever he addressed her. 
Carter had also sensed something of his qualms about 
himself. They were natural and commendable. He was 
glad of the opportunity to dispel them. He drew his chair 
doser and laid a friendly hand on the boy's. 

"You won't worry any more about Jackie now, will 
you, sonny?" he said. "I'd like you to trust me as much 
as she does. Do you think you can? I know I'm a com- 
plete stranger to you, and not much more than one to her, 
but I want you to forget that. I want to be a real friend 
to her and to you as well, if you '11 let me." 

By this time Benny had got himself into a frame of 
mind to believe readily in the other's good faith. 

"I know," he said. "I've loved her from the first 
minute I saw her. You can't help it. I love her so much," 
he added in a lower tone, "that I 've hated the idea of her 
caring for any one else, ever." 

The admission was a plea for an imwarranted jealousy; 
it also implied contrition. 

"But that won't do, sonny," rejoined Carter. "Friend- 
ship and love are the two finest qualities human beings 
can feel. Real friendship ought to make us want to think 
of nothing but the well-being of those to whom we give it, 


otherwise it ceases to be friendship or love and merely 
degenerates into selfishness. You could n't, for example, 
expect to keep Jackie to yourself for the rest of your life, 
any more than I could. We've got to share her out with 
all the many people she'll meet and love, and who will 
love her. She's like the sim. She 's got to shine on every* 
thing and everybody. She's built that way. We don't 
appreciate a glorious day any the less because other people 
enjoy it as well, do we? Everything in life and nature 
ought to be shared out all the time; and in art it always 
is. By and by, when we get over the feeling of monopoly 
— wanting a thing all to ourselves — it dawns on us that 
it's a virtue to let others share in it." 

He waited imtil Benny accepted his proposition with 
a tardy nod, and then continued : 

"Now, listen. I'm well-oflF. It's my good fortime to 
be able to do a little good with my money — to try to 
help other people not so fortimate as myself. Not out of 
charity; not by money presents. The motives of the man 
who makes money presents are often questioned, and 
rightly so. People think he's out to get something in 
return. That's not so in my case. I just want to make 
Jackie happy. And I also want to convince you that I 
have n't any other object. It would n't occur to Jackie 
that I had. She's too much of a child. But you're old 
enough to think for her and to know what's best for her 
good. I 'm counting on you because you love her, Benny. 
You'll trust me, won't you?" 


"Well, then, we'll fix it. I mean to do a lot of things 
for Jackie, and you 'U have to help. I want to make the 
star she 's always talking about shine clear. Tliat does n't 
mean I shall take her away from you. Get that out of 
yoiu: head, Benny." 


Benny's lips quivered. He turned to Carter emotion- 

"I've not had such a thought since you came in. I 
think — yes — I 'm glad — mighty glad — you 're going 
to be her friend." 

"And yours, Benny, I hope," said Carter as Jackie 
opened the door. 

A quieter mood was upon her. With apologies for the 
economy she turned the lamp low. There would not be 
enough paraffin for to-morrow if it continued to bum. 
The moon and the stars illimuned the room. There were 
only two chairs, so she sat on the floor clasping her knees 
and listened to Carter sketching his plans for her future. 
The expression on her face, upturned to his, was enrapt. 
The new surroimdings in which she was to be placed, the 
various phases of the training she was to imdergo, were 
swallowed up in the result they were to lead to. Her 
imagination supplied it. She saw herself in a blaze of 
light and colour, whirling to the rhythm of a great and 
splendid orchestra, vibrating like a bird in flight to its 
every note and phrase. She felt herself swinging to its 
melody imtil, at its cadenza, every movement abruptly 
arrested, she stood immobile as a statue, drinking in the 
joy of applause, listening and bowing to thimderous 
acclamations; while above her, brightest of all in the sur- 
roimding blaze of light, shone her star now full in the 

Afterwards, when Carter had gone, she passed her arm 
roimd Benny's neck and stood with him at the window 
looking out on the bespangled sky. 

"See what a lot of stars," she murmured. "One each 
for everybody. See how brightly mine is shining. Tliat 
one over there. Is it not wonderful all this that my m'sieu 
will effect for me? Oh, but now I must deserve itl If, 


after all, I was only of the crowd, one amongst many, never 
to sparkle, I should be too sad. But a little while ago I 
wished to be a star to please m3rself, for the glory and the 
fame; but now above everything, I wish to be a star to 
please him." 

Benny pondered her words. After a while he said: 

"Jackie . . . suppose you had to choose between this 
fame you want and your friend. Suppose you could n't 
have both?" 

Jackie turned from her contemplation of the sky. 

"Why, I would choose my friend, of course," she re- 
plied without hesitation. "For him I would pluck my 
star out of the sky and place it at his feet." 

"But that's — love, Jackie," he cried, startled. 

"Is it? It is my heart," she said, simply. "But he 
would not wish for my star at his feet. He desires for me 
to remain always a little girl. So pray that I never grow 
up at all, my Benny, ch6ri." 

Benny turned away, a little saddened. It was given to 
him to know just then what she herself was imaware of, 
what Mervyn Carter was far from dreaming — that her 
woman-soul with its vasts and deeps of tendernesses had 
already stirred in its birth-sleep. . . . 


An envelope, postmarked London, addressed in the dear 
(but in this instance unformed) spherical handwriting to 
which the French are addicted, lay upon the mantelshelf 
awaiting Bowman. It had been redirected several times, 
having followed him from town to town. It had engaged 
the attention of Milly Winter ever since it had arrived. 
The superscription "Monsieur B. Bowman," set her 
thinking at once of "the French girl." She was sure the 
letter was from her. Once or twice feminine curiosity got 
the better of her, and she picked it up to examine it. Of 
course it told her nothing. Envelopes seldom do say much. 

Bowman came in. After looking about him he asked: 

" Where 's your father? " 

"Gone to the doctor's for some cough medicine. He 
said we were n't to wait tea for him." 

"As if I should! Your dad's getting balmy in his old 
age, my girl. Seems to think he's the big screech because 
he ran the show while I was in hospital. If he was n't 
such a blooming crock I'd have given him a bit of my 
mind before this for his damned cheek. So, I need n't 
wait for him I My word! He 's sulking because he could n't 
get separate lodgings in the town for you and him." He 
grinned. "Silly old owl. As if living in another street 
cotdd make any difference to you and me, or any other 
girl I had a fancy for!" 

"But you don't care for me now, Bill," said Milly 

Bowman regarded her with his head on one side. 

"I don't say that I might n't want to kiss you when 
there's no one else handy/' he remarked jocularly. "Af- 


ter all, you've got a loving heart. You're a clinging 

* >f 


At any rate, she had ceased to cling to him of late, and 
had summoned up the little pride she had left to keep out 
of his way. Moreover, she had faithfully promised her 
father that she would be a sensible girl, a good girl. And 
she had meant it. Until to-day she and Bowman had 
scarcely spoken a word to each other in private. 

Bowman, however, had watched her efforts to be 
indifferent to him with cruel amusement. Then a new 
man in the company, a young actor, had started to pay 
her attentions, the kind of attentions her father did not 
resent because they were evidently honourable ones. 
And Milly, heartsick, had responded to them in her 
desire to forget. Bowman foresaw a little diversion for 
himself. Milly had been looking prettier lately ... He 
had n't philandere(d with a girl for a fortnight ... He 
knew he had only to lift his little finger and she would obey 
its signal. She was of the type that loves one man only 
with slavish abnegation. Still, he wasn't quite sure 
whether she was worth the trouble. He had n't made up 
his mind. The quest of Jackie, still fruitless, obsessed him. 

Milly appeared to ignore his crudely amorous remark, 
although it had made her poor heart quicken. 

"There's a letter for you," she said, raising her eyes 
from her needlework to the mantelpiece. "Is it from the 
French girl? " 

Bowman strode over to it. 

"Why did n't you tell me that when I came in?" he 
demanded, seizing it. "I expect it 's from the Italian with 
news about her." 

He tore it open. It was not from the Italian. It was 
from Jackie herself. The letter bore no date and gave no 
address. Three postal orders were enclosed in it. 


M. Bowman^ 

I send you three £five s — which I was constrain to make a loan 
of. I hop you have entirely recovered. 

Yours truely 


Please to understand that I bare no malice since having found 
my monsieur I have cease to hate you. 

Bowman swore and tore the letter into small pieces. 
The postal orders he pocketed. He would far rather that 
Jackie had proved herself a thief as well as the tentative 
murderess he believed her to be. Then he would have had 
a real hold over her. 

Milly watched him intently, noticing the rancorous 
expression on his face. Curiosity and perhaps jealousy 
prompted her to say 

"Was it from the French girl? I know I've no right 
to ask— " 

"Oh, you can ask." He was gracious for once, irra- 
tionally inclined to be amorous again because Jackie was 
out of reach. "It is from the French girl." 

"Is she coming back?" 


Milly could not help feeling glad. 

"What made her write to you?" 

"Because she wanted to. Any more questions?" 

"Was she — is she in love with you?" 

It seemed to Milly that this was almost a foregone 
conclusion. Bowman's innate vanity responded to the 
pleasant imputation. 

"Well, I suppose so," he said. 

"Are you going to — to meet her?'* 

"Not yet." 

He would have to find her first; and when he did the 
score he had to settle would not be based on love. But 


of that he had no intention of saying anjrthing to Milly. 
He was in a freakish mood this afternoon, a mood for 
dalliance. The spring was in his blood. At rehearsal that 
morning he had heard Measurer pressing Milly to go for 
a walk with him after the show — Milly whom he, Bow- 
man, had tired of so quickly! That another and that 
other a younger man should find her attractive was 
stimulus enough to make him take notice of her again. 
For the time being he wiped Jackie from the slate of his 
mind and applied himself to reclaiming what he had 
never lost . . . Hang it, a man must have his sport! That 
it was sport imworthy of the name, the letting fly at a 
sitting bird or taking advantage of an unfortimate 
woman, did not occur to him. 

" What d' you want to talk about Jackie for? " he asked 
with rough pleasantry. " She 's nothing to you. You've 
not even seen her. Would n't you rather talk about your- 
self and me? It 's a long time since we 've found ourselves 
together, old girl. Like old times, is n't it? Going to give 
me a kiss?" 

"Don't, Bm." She put him from her weakly. "You 
know you don't care, and I promised dad — " 

"Don't you want to be friends again?" 

"You said you did n't. You said I was to be sensible 
and that you wer6 through with me. You can't say I've 
ever run after you since, although you nearly broke my 

"Did I?" Bowman could put a hint of tender regret 
into his voice when he thought it would pay to do so. 
"Well, suppose I try to mend it? Have you ever tried love 
and kisses for patching up the cracks?" 

He put his arms roimd her and masterfully demon- 
strated what he meant. 

"There's nightingales in Poole Park," he said. "We'll 


take a walk and hear them smg to-njght. I'll make your 
heart sing too. Shall I, kid? " 

Down went her head on his shoulder. Had she half 
promised young Measurer to stroll home with him? Tf so, 
she could put him oflF. He was only a boy in love. Bow- 
man was the man who held her heart in fee. 

"Dad will be angry," she said, fearfully. "But I'd 
like to come . . . what 's the good of pretending I would 
n't? Bill, we were listening to nightingales last year 
when you kissed me for the first time. I'll never for- 

"Were we?" Bowman had forgotten that particular 
occasion. It was one among so many. 

"Why, yes, don't you remember? And you picked me 
some wild anemones that were shining like silver in the 
moonlight. They're in my Bible now." 

Bowman kept silence. Case-hardened sinner though he 
was, it made him feel vaguely ashamed when she spoke 
of the sacred emotions that he, the profane, had aroused 
in her gentle heart. 

"Well, will you come?" he asked. 

"Yes," she whispered. 

"After supper then . . . You can let your father think 
you're going for a stroll with that young jackanapes. He 
won't mind." 

Milly flushed. 

"I hate deceiving him," she said imeasily. "I promised 
him it was all over between us . . ." 

" So it was. But that does n't mean it was never going 
to begin again, does it?" 

He had complete mastery over her will. Still, to 
quiet the pangs of conscience, she demurred feebly. 

"What's the use, Bill? You don't want me to come — 



I've a fancy I do. Anyway, you'd best chuck young 
Measurer. You don't want a boy like that for a hus- 

Husband! The word on his lips sent a shiver of exul- 
tation through her. Was it, after all, in his wayward 
heart to care for her sufficiently to encourage her to think 
of marriage with him and at last to redeem her pride? 

"He has n't asked me to marry him," she murmured, 
"We're only friends." 

"What would you say if he did?" Bowman teased. 

"I don't know," she floundered. "Daddy would be 
glad to see me settled." 

"What would you say to marrying me?" His arms 
went roimd her. He felt the tremor of her responding 

"Oh, Bill, don't! It isn't fair. You don't want to 
marry — " 

The devils of baulked desire egged Bowman on. Jackie 
was out of sight, out of reach. Here was a less wild bird 
that would eat gratefully out of her snarer's hand. 

"We'll talk about it in Poole Park later on," he prom- 
ised. "There's no sa)Huag what I migl^t n't want ..." 

Winter's entry put a stop to his slim advances. The 
old actor carried a bottle of medicine, and sat down to 
his tea in a state of gloomy apathy. Now and then his 
eyes travelled from Bowman's bulldog immobile coim- 
tenance to Milly's imwontedly radiant one. Her eyes 
shone. Her chedcs glowed. He noticed the change in her 
and connected it imeasily with Bowman, while hate and 
resentment smouldered afresh in his heart. 

He did not see Milly alone or he would have questioned 
her. After supper that night she slipped away and he 
missed her; but he knew she sometimes went for a stroll 
with Measurer, and her absence did not trouble him. He 


liked the lad and would have welcomed Hi"i as a son-in- 

But when twelve o'clock struck and still Milly did not 
make her appearance, he began to fidget. Finally he 
went to Measurer's lodgings at the end of the street to 
make enquiries. Measurer was in, just going to bed. No, 
he had n't been out at aU. Milly had said she had a head- 
ache and could n't go for a walk that evening, so he had 
gone straight from the theatre to his diggings. 

" I expect she got in before you did and went up to bed," 
he suggested. " She would n't be out by herself, would 

"No . . . she wouldn't be out by herself," Winter 
agreed gloomily. "Good-night, dear boy." 

He turned away, full of uneasiness. On his return he 
foimd Bowman in the sitting-room refreshing himself 
with whiskey and soda. 

"Have you seen Milly?" he asked anxiously. "She's 
not come in yet." 

Bowman emptied his glass, set it down and smacked 
his lips. 

"Oh, yes she has. She's upstairs. Gone to bed. It's 
lovely out. We 've been listening to the nightingales in 
Poole Park." 

Winter's eyes dilated. 

^* You've been out with her?" he exclaimed. "What 

"Well! If that is n't a question! What do men go out 
with girls for when there's nightingales and a moon? 
Call it love if you like. One word's as good as another." 

The bravado, the cynical indifference, enraged Winter. 
His face contorted with passion. He waited a minute 
before he could speak. Then he said in a shaky voice: 

"The doctor told me to-day that I can't last more than 



a few months . . . Well, I'm going to see Milly settled 
before I die . . . You know there's some one who wants 
her. If you come between them and lie to her and lead 
her on again with your devil's promises, as sure as there's 
a God in heaven I'U — I'll kill you!" 

His hands opened and shut convidsively. 

'' Kill away, you blessed old shadow ! " Bowman pushed 
back his chair and laughed. ''Why, young Jackie, if she 
started in, would make a better job of it than you 're ever 
likely tol" 

Before the full-length portrait of ^' Irene, daughter of the 
Earl of Marlbury/' painted by John Grandison, Virginia 
Marlbury, catalogue in hand, came to a stop. It was an 
arresting piece of work, as everything from Grandison's 
brush invariably was. It was said that he painted women 
cruelly; yet women flocked to his studio. A feverish 
curiosity made them want to see their innermost souls 
depicted on canvas. 

Grandison was a master of his art, and he also had the 
courage of youth. He had worked hard in order to achieve 
fame: the desire to make money had been a secondary 
consideration with him. He had always painted to please 
himself, and as generally happens with those of undeniable 
talent he had, at an unusually early stage in his career, 
become the most fashionable portraitist of the day. In 
the main he was hostile to women. He showed it through 
the medium of his art instead of in words. But he had not 
done this in Irene's case. 

That was the reason, coupled with others more definite, 
why Virginia was regarding the portrait with a frown. 
Grandison had painted Irene as an artist paints who is in 
love with his sitter. The picture was a lover's picture as 
well as an artist's triumph. 

Irene, as Virginia could but admit, was a delight to the 
eye. Her beauty was very patrician; breeding was ex- 
emplified in her from the crown of her finely shaped head 
to the arch of her well-formed feet. Grandison had done 
full justice to all this and a great deal more besides. 

Virginia sat down on one of the fauteuils. An ever- 
moving, freshly forming, crowd pressed around the por- 


trait. She listened to all she could hear. She had come 
partly to see and partly to listen. What she heard did not 
ease her mind. By and by she got up, left the gallery, got 
into her car, and drove home. 

She went straight up to her stepdaughter's bedroom. 
Irene was trying on a fancy dress which she intended to 
wear that night at the Three Arts Ball. It was a remark- 
able dress, as arresting in its way as herself or her picture 
by Grandison. The novelty of its design and the brilliance 
of its colouring confounded Virginia. 

"Good gracious, Irene!" she exclaimed. **How very 
gorgeous! What on earth is it supposed to be?" 

"John calls it *The Blazon of Beauty,' " Irene replied 
with a laugh. "He designed it. Do you like it? " 

"It's beautiful enough. But you needn't have gone 
to that man for an idea." Strong disapproval marked the 
second statement. 

Whenever Irene was annoyed she showed it by an in- 
crease of pallor. Grandison said it was her patrician way 
of repelling an affront to her dignity. 

"What is the good of talking IDte that, Virginia? I 
thought the subject was closed. We've been into it so 
often before." 

Virginia sat down. She did it with the deliberation of 
a judge about to try a case, but with none of a judge's 
absence of bias. She meant to make one more effort to 
dissuade Irene from following a line of conduct which she 
considered both foolish and indiscreet. 

"You know I've always tried to be a true friend to 
you," she began. "I don't pretend to exerdse the privi- 
leges of a mother. I 'm not old enough. No third person, 
however well-meaning, ought to go as far as that. But, 
Irene, I've done my best to be an elder sister to you, and 
I hope I've succeeded." 


Irene was willing to concede all this and more. She 
nodded assent. But the solemn mode of address made her 
want to laugh. 

" Dear Virginia ! You take yourself so awfully seriously. 
You're much too young to sermonize. I know you thiiik 
you ought to. But please don't. It won't do me a bit of 
good, and it may give you clergyman's face, which is much 
worse than housemaid's knee because it 's bound to show. 
Why don't you take life as it comes and let things rip, as 
I do? Father doesn't bother about me. Why should 

It did not at all suit Virginia to allow her husband's 
attitude to be taken as an example. There was a great 
deal too much opportunism about him. Her own code of 
propriety — that of New England — was, she felt as- 
sured, much better suited to the occasion. 

''I'm quite sure that your father has not fully realized 
how indiscreet you have been," she rejoined. "Honestly, 
Irene, your friendship with Mr. Grandison ou^t to stop. 
Every one is talking about it. Everybody knows the 
whole story — his version of it. I went to see your por- 
trait this afternoon. People were gossipping dreadfully. 
All sorts of people I It was really revolting." 

Irene faced round from the glass. She was not much 
more than a girl, but at times she could be very stately. 

"I can't discuss my heart with you, Virginia," she 
said. "Mr. Grandison and I love one another. That we 
can't get married because he has an incurable wife in a 
lunatic asylmn does n't and can't alter the fact. There is 
nothing wrong in meeting as we do, and there 's certainly 
no harm in my refusing to marry any other man because 
I can't have the one I want. That's a matter for myself, 
is n't it?" 

The quiet obduracy exasperated Virginia. 


"But people are talking!" she cried, "Not only those 
in our own set. I mean the crowd. Impossible people! I 
dread gossip about you getting into the papers! Surely 
you don't want to be talked about on the street and in 
papers that our own kitchenmaids read!" 

"What do you want me to do? To correct wrong im- 
pressions and explain the exact quality of my regard for 
Mr. Grandison in the kitchen? I dare say if the situation 
were put before the servants they would have more real 
imderstanding of it than you, Virginia. I 'm not going to 
give up this friendship. We're not ashamed of it. It 'sail 
we've got, and it's a wholesome one. We've kept it so." 

"I'm not asking you to cut him," Virginia said, res- 
tively. " I only want you to silence all this horrible gossip 
by getting married. You can't marry Mr. Grandison. 
You admit that yourself. Why not somebody else then? 
Somebody eligible. You would n't be able to help loving 
him in the end." 

A note of hesitancy in the last words convinced Irene 
that they were in the nature of special pleading. 

"Loving whom?" she queried, suspiciously. 

"WeU — Mervyn." 

Irene looked relieved. 

"Dear Mervyn! He deserves a far better wife than I 
could ever be. Besides, I 'm perfectly sure he would n't 
have me if I were given away with a pound of tea. It 's no 
good, Virginia. I dare say it's an open secret that the 
reason I keep single is because I 'm fond of a man who 
is n't free. You need n't make things harder by rubbing it 
in. I try to make the best of things by bowing to fate, 
not quarreUing with it. I should be really wicked if I 
married some one I did n't care for. Surely you must 
understand. Think how you would feel if you had mar- 
ried father without loving him," 


Virgima had nothing to say. All unconsciously, Irene 
had flicked her on the raw. She lingered a little, and then, 
realizing how ineffectual her efforts had been to break 
down what she deemed to be an infatuation for an un- 
desirable lover, left her and, for once in a way, went to 
enlist the moral support of her husband. 

She foimd Marlbury in the hall, just about to gp out. 
In desperation she buttonholed him and began pouring 
out her woes. He listened patiently enough, but with 
rather a weary expression on his ruddy, debonair face. 

"But what can I do?" he asked helplessly. "Irene's 
boimd to be in love with somebody. I ' ve heard rumours 
about her and Grandison. Don't suppose there's much 
in it. People with nothing to do always exaggerate. If I 
were you I should n't take any notice of their talk. Best 
leave Irene alone. Every one's got their own troubles. 
Is n't it George Meredith who sajrs, * Every girl after she's 
reached the age of twenty-five has the right to choose her 
own life '? Can't say I exactly see why, but there you are I" 

"Oh, novelists will say anything!" Virginia declared 
petulantly. "Irene and Grandison aren't characters in 
fiction. They happen to be real people." 

"I like Grandison," mused Marlbury. "Fine painter." 

"But he's got a wife already!" 

"I know. Very sad affair. Insanity in her family, I 
believe, and he wasn't told. Poor chap, he's been as 
good as a widower for years." 

Sympathy for her b&e noire did not placate Virginia. 
She wanted it all for herself. 

"What I want you to do," she said, "is to put your 
foot down. You must. Forbid Irene having anything 
more to do with Grandison. It's your duty." 

"But hang it all, Virginia, I don't see how I can. 
Grandison goes about everywhere. He's not a bad egg. 


And as far as I can see Irene is n't behaving scandalously. 
She's much too sensible. Besides, who am I to sit in 
judgment on her? I 'm not exactly perfect myself . That's 
not been altogether my fault, though." 

Virginia looked uncomfortable, but she made no re- 
joinder, so after a pause Marlbury continued : 

"Pity we've got so far apart — too far for us to bridge 
it over in private. You married me for my position and 
told me so afterwards when I claimed your — love." 

"Tliat has nothing to do with Irene," she said h^ a low 

''I think it has. It's the reason why you shouldn't 
interfere and why I can't. We both know that marriage 
without love is an empty thing. If Irene chooses to follow 
the dictates of her heart she won't go very far wrong. At 
any rate, she 'U be spared making a mistake like ours." 

"Then you won't help me? You won't do anything?" 

" I can only advise you to give up worrying about Irene. 
If Grandison is worthy of her, so much the better. If he 
is n't, she 'U find it out. You 've told her what you think. 
Why not leave it at that? I can't stay now, Virginia. 
I've an appointment." 

She did not detain him. It was not of the least con- 
sequence to her where he went or with whom he chose to 
associate. She eschewed curiosity; she considered it vul- 
gar. It was this very indifference that had driven him to 
drown his matrimonial disappointments in mild dissipa- 
tion among cheerful companions — gay friends, very 
many of them good friends, men and women of Bohemia 
with whom Virginia would have scorned to rub shoul- 
ders. . . • 

When he had gone she stood still, discomfited, a 
little disconcerted, very much annoyed at being so com- 
pletely thwarted. She honestly considered it her duty to 



break down Irene's obstinacy. But how was it to be 
done? Even Mervyn, her own brother, seemed as un- 
accountably wayward and impossible as Marlbury. 

Not to be beaten, she decided to entreat him once more 
to propose to Irene, if only in the name of chivalry and 
friendship. With this intention she ordered her car round 
again and drove straight to his flat. 

The front door stood ajar. Virginia walked right in. 
Mervyn was not in the drawing-room. But to her amaze- 
ment in one of the armchairs, curled up like a kitten, lay 
a foreign-looking girl, dressed in a bizarre costimie, fast 


ViRGiNXA came to an astonished stop. Her eyes seemed 
to be deceiving her. What was this extraordinary crea- 
ture doing in her brother's flat? The sight offended her 
dignity. She looked at the sleeping girl with imdisguised 
repugnance. A scorpion or a black beetle would not have 
had a more disturbing effect on her! Then curiosity got 
the better of her and she went a step nearer in order to 
study the "strange creature" at close range. 

Very soon she recognized her as the girl who had danced 
to a barrel-organ in the street outside her own house, and 
whom Mervyn had dashed out to greet with such impet- 
uous haste. Jackie stUl wore her semi-Italian dress, an 
outlandish one in Virginia's estimation. Half a minute 
elapsed before she felt obliged to admit, grudgingly 
enough, that the wearer was remarkably attractive, 
though not of a type that appealed to herself. It was too 
unusual, too striking. What she did recognize was that 
this child, when older, would have a clarion-caU for most 
men. She hoped that Mervyn had not already heard it. 
She had her fears. That in such short space of time he 
he had become sufficiently intimate with her to allow her 
to make herself at home and to fall asleep in his drawing- 
room in this unconcerned fashion disturbed her greatly. 
She saw all her plans for him crumbling away. 

But there might be time to prevent such a disaster. 
Why should she not profit by the unexpected encounter, 
have a few words with this imdesirable girl, and make her 
understand that her acquaintance with Mervyn was an 
outrage and that it must immediately cease? She gave a 


dignified cough and moved a chair in order to rouse the 

The disturbance did not have the desired effect. 
Jackie only shifted her position slightly and murmured: 

"Merveen! Ah, que je vous aimel" 

The use of her brother's Christian name incensed Vir- 
ginia. She had a strong inclination to slap the dreaming 
girl, but controlled herself sufficiently to be contented 
with a vigorous shake. Jackie awoke, sat up, and looked 
drowsily around. 

"Where are you, Merveen?" she yawned. 

"What are you doing here?" Virginia demanded 

Jackie fixed big sleepy eyes on the speaker. 

"Do you usually make a practice of coming here to 
sleep afternoons? " Virginia proceeded suspiciously. 

By this time Jackie was sufficiently wide awake to 
understand that she was being addressed by a strange 
lady in beautiful, sweet-smelling apparel. 

"But no," she replied innocently, " that is not habitual 
with me. But this morning, madame, I get up at four 
o'clock to go to the — what you call it? march£ auz 

"Indeed I Are you a flower-girl, then?" 

Virginia took in the profusion of flowers. The room 
was gay with them. They stood in vases and bowls on the 
tables, on the mantelpiece, on the window-sills — cheap 
flowers, and, to her taste, far too many. They made her 
think of an overgrown rustic garden. 

"No, but I arrange them all myself," was the reply, 
made with pride. "I have bought them for a surprise for 
Merveen. He do so much for me, and all night long I have 
think about it so much that my heart become bigger and 
bigger with gratitude. In the morning, therefore, I rise 


and go to buy flowers in the market garden where they 
are so plentiful and fresh. I 'ad three shillings only, but 
a kind man gave me all that my arms would hold because 
I tell him that I wish to buy them for a love-gift Also I 
have brought some cabbages with good 'earts, because 
one cannot purchase the like in the shops. Feel for your- 
self, madame, 'ow firm and 'ow fresh 1" 

She dived underneath her chair and produced her 

Virginia drew back. The vegetables disgusted her. 
She resented their introduction into a daintily furnished, 
expensively carpeted drawing-room, even though it was 
not hers. It was more than an anomaly; it was a gross 

"Mr. Carter will be horrified at your bringing vege- 
tables in here. It is perfectly outrageous of you to lay 
them on an antique Persian carpet worth himdreds of 

"It is very likely," admitted Jackie. The price of the 
carpet seemed to her an extraneous matter. She did not 
reproach herself with depositing the cabbages upon it. 
The cabbages were quite clean. What harm could they 
possibly do to a carpet? She could not imderstand the 
strange lady's objection. " My m'sieur has great wealth," 
she added in order to reassure her, but only succeeded in 
instilling Virginia with the belief that she had a possessive 
interest in both. 

"I am the little friend of M'sieur Merveen," she pro- 
ceeded blandly. "I do not think he would be angry at 
what I do. Certainly he will not have anger because I 
have made him a small present of flowers and cabbages." 
She regarded Virginia thoughtfully. "I do not think that 
you can know him very well. Perhaps you do not love him 
so much as I do." 


Virginia felt that she had heard quite enough of that 
obsolete and unnecessary word " love " to-day. Irene had 
used it. Even Marlbury had referred to it. Now here it 
was on this French girl's lips. It annoyed her exceedingly. 

''It is most unbecoming of a girl of your age to talk 
about love," she said severely. "As it happens I have 
known Mr. Carter all my life." 

The admission roused Jackie's interest. It did not yet 
occur to her that this elegant lady might be a relation of 
her m'sieur's. She could detect no resemblance to him. 
But there was a better reason; the want of a link of 
sympathy between herself and the other. Had there been 
one she would have seized on it. She would have revered 
any lifelong friend of his; she would have been ready to 
lavish love on his most distant relative; it would have 
been induced by her adoration for him. However, she was 
quite ready to talk about him by the hour if necessary, to 
extol his virtues and to hear them extolled. She was 
neither old enough nor experienced enough to want to 
hide her hero worship. 

"And I," she returned, "have only know him for three 
days. He is to me what we say in French, a great bien- 
faiteur. He make me many b6n£fices — much more than 
I would wish to take. He will have Audagna, the great 
ballet-master, to teach me dandng. Is not that magni- 

"Perfectly idiotic," was Virginia's inward reply. 
Mervyn must be infatuated with the girl. She must put a 
stop to that if she could. "Are you not still dancing to 
an organ? " she enquired in a chilly voice. 

At this Jackie looked slightly surprised. 

" Has Merveen spoke to you of me, then? " she asked in 

'' Oh, dear, no I Not at all!" Virginia had no intention 


of letting her think that she was of sufficient importance 
in Mervyn's eyes to merit discussion with a third person, 
herself least of any. To suppress the truth was therefore 
both necessary and politic. ''I asked because I saw you 
dancing outside my I^ouse the other day." 

''I think I see you at the window, also. You do not 
look as if you enjoy it. But per'aps you 'ave not the gay 
disposition. H y a des gens quelquefois qui manquent 
(a." The tone of commiseration incensed Virginia. Jackie 
folded her hands with divine contentment. ''But praise 
to the Saints and Merveen I shall not be obliged to dance 
any more in the streets for pennies!" 

Virginia tried to think of something very cutting. The 
appropriate words would not come. She was too upset 
All this while she had been standing and Jackie sitting. 
It put her at a disadvantage. All she foimd herself able 
to say was: "You seem a very scheming young person," 

"What is that word — skeem-ing?" Jackie demanded. 

Virginia gave vent to an irascible ejaculation. "I think 
you imderstand it well enough I You intend to get on by 
the help of other people." 

Jackie turned the unfriendly words over in an impartial 

"But yes, it may be. I wish mjrself to help others con- 
tinually, so why should not others desire to help me? " 

"Would you help Mr. Carter?" 

"Ah, more than alll" 
' There was too much sincerity in the reply for Virginia 
to doubt it. 

"Shall I tell you how you can help him best?" 

"Oh" — Jackie leant forward — "but if you would 
have the goodness!" 

"Not by giving him anything," said Virginia slowly. 
"Rather by taking something away." 


Jackie's eyes widened in a puzzled way. 

"I mean, by giving him up. By taking yourself away. 
• . . You don't appear to imderstand. ... I suppose I 
must explain. It 's very irritating. How old are you? " 

"Sixteen — seventeen. I am not sure." 

"Then you oughi to imderstand. If you were — gentil 
— a lady, that is — " 

"But surely I am f6minine!" 

"Of course you're feminine," cried Virginia impa- 
tiently. "But it's not the same thing. Quite different, in 

"And you? You are a lady, but not ffiminine?" 

Jackie's tone was that of a person anxious for informa- 

"Of course I am. I mean, I'm both." Virginia felt 
her face getting hot. "And Mr. Carter is a gentleman. 
He has a position to keep up. He has wealth and educa- 
tion. He moves in the highest society. Now I've told 
you that, surely you have sense enough to see you are 
compromising him and that his friends and relations will 
be irrevocably alienated — " 

"Ah! Qu'est-ce que cela signifie — ces mots li?" In 
her incomprehension of the strange words Jackie did not 
know she was speaking French. 

"Estranged — set against him. They will have noth- 
ing more to do with him if he associates — is mixed up 
with — a girl like yourself." 

"Is that the truth you speak, madame?" 

"The absolute truth." 

Jackie looked her up and down — down and up. A few 
minutes ago her feelings towards the strange lady had not 
been unfriendly. She had been so eager to learn from this 
(Ugank how ^e could best show her attachment, her 
love, and her gratitude to her dear Merveen. Now, all her 


instincts told her that the counsel she was giving had its 
roots in some venom whose motive she could not fathom. 
It was all against the dictates of love and friendship, and 
it was wrong — all wrong. Indignation seethed within her, 
but for the moment she kept the Ud on her rising wrath. 

"Perhaps you would tell me how I injure him in my 
friendship?" she enquired. "Am I — impleasant?" 

It soimded like a challenge. Virginia had not the 
courage to meet it squarely. She begged the question. 

"Don't you imderstand the meaning of class distinc- 
tions?" she said, instead. "You are outr6e — impossi- 
ble! In manner, in dress, in everjrthing. You are hopeless 
— a gutter-snipe — ime gavrochel " Now do I make my- 
self plain?" 

Jackie jumped to her feet. 

"Une gavrochel" she vociferated. "Oh, but you make 
me an insult! Mon Dieu, c'est trop fort, ja! I think you 
do not know my language and you take the wrong word. 
And also outr6e. Is it that I am outr6e because I dress like 
a paysanne — Damn! I can no longer speak English — a 
pajrsanne with no 'at upon my 'ead? Qa s'explique fadle- 
ment ! It is that I 'ave no money to buy 'ats. But — at- 
tendez un peu — one day I shall be 616gante also. Ma foil 
more 616gante than you, madame. And you and the 
others will imitate the fashions I make for myself. ... I 
do not wish to stay in the same room with you, madame. 
I do not now beUeve that you are a friend of my Merveen. 
I would say you are an enemy. I would say you are a bad 
woman with the tongue to sting. V'li!" 

The tirade, so imexpected, took Virginia's breath away. 
Such vehemence and Gallic ire overwhelmed her. 

" You are an atrociously rude girl ! " she exclaimed when 
she could speak. "Are you aware that you are speaking 
to the Countess of Marlbury ? " 


This statement had as little effect on Jackie as the 
name and value of Mervyn's carpet. Moreover, it struck 
her as an exhibition of snobbery. To indicate how little 
she thought of it her shoulders made an attempt to reach 
the ceiling. 

^'I care nothing for countesses, moi!" she cried deri- 
sively. ^'It is quite possible I may become a countess 
myself one day. Will you have the goodness to leave me 
to wait for Merveen, or it is likely that I shall forget my- 
self and throw these cabbages at you." 

By the look of her Virginia thought it extremely likely. 
She began a discreet retirement. 

^'I do not intend remaining," she said, haughtily. ''I 
have been sufficiently insulted in my brother's house 

She turned to go. 

The colour that had flamed into Jackie's cheeks faded 
out of them. 

''Your brother! Is it possible that you are the sister of 
Merveen? Oh, madame, I ask pardon! Forgive me I" 

She sprang across the room, and before Virginia could 
guess her intention she had flung her arms round her and 
kissed her effusively on both cheeks. Physically as well as 
mentally Virginia was staggered by the affectionate on- 
slaught. Far from being placated by it she felt outraged. 
She retreated to the door with her hand out to ward off 
any possible repetition of such odious attentions. 

"You horrid creature! How dare you kiss me?" she 
cried. "The fact that Mr. Carter is my brother is the 
very reason why I deplore his association with a person 
like yourself. It has been a dreadful experience to en- 
counter you at all. It shall not occur again, I assure you 1 " 

Jackie watched her go. Her bosom was heaving, her 
breath coming at a great rate. She felt bursting with 


emotion, near to a tempest of tears. She was in an agony 
of remorse at having been rude to her m'sieur's own sister. 
She could think of nothing but that. Her conduct was 
inexcusable. She overlooked the mitigating circumstance 
of Virginia's slighting attitude towards herself. Virginia's 
words came back to her. It was almost as though she 
heard them spoken : 

"By giving him up — by taking yoursdf away ... his 
friends and relations will become estranged — set against 
him ..." 

That meant she disgraced him. She was filled with 
humility and dire regret. Of course it was the truth . . . 
Who was she to be the little, friend of this dear, wonderful 
m'sieur, this gentleman of position? She might talk of her 
star, have faith in her future, but after all madame la 
comtesse was right. She was a person of no distinction or 
significance — a gutter-snipe — une gavrochel 

She caught sight of herself in a full-length mirror at the 
far end of the room. It reflected the beautiful furniture, 
the pictures, the many adjuncts of splendour and com- 
fort. And it reflected herself, in her own eyes, the one 
jarring note within the four walls. 

Big tears welled into her eyes. A great sob shook her. 
A frenzy to act, to efface herself, took hold of her. She 
rushed to the door, tripping over a cabbage on her way. 
Cabbages for her Merveen! Now she could see the well- 
meant but incongruous gift with Virginia's eyes! She 
despised herself for her ignorance. She must have been 
ioguie to bring cabbages to her king. She picked them 
up, and regardless of passers-by, dropped them out of the 
window. The flowers could remain as a silent expression 
of the adoration she was not worthy to lavish upon him — 
she whose friendship would deprive him of his friends and 
relations! She would starve rather than do that! 

JACKIE 1 13 

''C'est fini done/' she said to herself miserably. 

The conviction that this meant good-bye^ a voluntary 
renunciation of the being whom she revered so highly, 
was almost too much for her. How could she go without 
a word of farewell, of thanks? It was impossible! 

She sat down at the writing-table, found pen and paper, 
and wrote through a blinding mist of tears: 


I call you this no more. I say adieu. Do not I etUreal you 
come to see me because I cannot bear thai on account ojmysdf 
your friends shall be deprive. From your sister you will hear 
how I have make the terrible fault and insult her. Pardon me 
Merveen that I have done this. It trouble me. Not in any way 
have I deserve the great kindness that I have receive from you. 
My heart is full of sadness. It was a mistake for you thai we 
should rencounter again. 

Je vous remercie miUefois du plaisir et de lajoie de vous avoir 
connUj et mime quandje serai vieille, je prierai A Dieu de vous 

Hon itoile ne brille plus. 


A huge blot combined of ink and tears completed the 
letter. Jackie laid aside the pen, and, with the nearest 
approach to a breaking heart that volatile youth can 
know, effaced herself — as she firmly believed and in* 
tended — for ever. 


Five minutes after she had gone Carter came in, to find 
her letter, not yet quite dry, upon the blotting-pad. Not 
having the key to what had inspired it, he was mystified 
and troubled. The solution lay with Jackie herself. He 
hurried off to the hiunble street in Soho where she and 
Benny lodged. Benny looking very troubled admitted 
him. His face lightened when he saw Carter. He came 
out on to the landing, shutting the door, so that he might 
speak without being overheard. Yes, Jackie was in, shut 
up in her room. She was in great trouble. She would not 
speak and she had locked the door. She was crying dread- 
fully. Benny could say nothing about the cause of her 
woe. She had started for Carter's flat about two, and had 
returned in a state of unintelligible grief. 

'^IVe been hoping you'd come," he said. "She won^t 
listen to me. Gk) right in. Knock at her door, and speak 
to her yourself, will you, sir? " 

Carter followed him in. Through the door of Jackie's 
room there came the sound of strangled sobs, an imadulter- 
ated grief that distressed Carter acutely. He rapped on 
the panel. 

"Jackie!" he called. "I've got your letter, dear. 
Don't cry. Please open your door and let me see you." 

The sobbing ceased. They heard Jackie get up and 
move across the room. Under the pretence of having some 
washing up to do on the landing Benny effaced himself. 

The key turned in the lock and Jackie stood in the 
doorway, a picture of woe. She had cried till her eyes and 
her nose were swollen, till her poor little face was blotched 
with grief. 


• Carter had no eyes for anything but herself or in a 
comer he would have observed a box which now bore but 
a faint resemblance to the shrine of the day before. The 
candlesticks had been removed; the flowers were gone. 
The Virgin and Child still occupied its centre as of yore, 
but Jackie's piety ended there. She had put St. Anthony 
into the background with his face to the wall/ He had 
taken her in. He was mSchant, a deceiver; and this was 
his pimishment. 

"Oh, Merveen!" she cried. "Why did you come? I 
'ave commit the most worse indiscretion! I 'ave been too 
rude to live!" 

Carter took her in his arms. 

"My little Jackie," he said soothingly, "I haven't 
a notion what you're talking about. You were at my 
flat. Why did you not wait there for me?" 

"But yes." Words and sobs fought with one another. 
"I take there some flowers and cabbages. Your cook 
admit me. I was so pleased to have conversation with her, 
to find that she is also French. She give me vases and 
I arrange my flowers. Then I wait for you in a chair and 
I fall asleep. When I wake up a lady has arrive into the 
room -^ a lady, tr^ 616gante et grande dame. She speak 
to me and say that she have know you all her life; and 
she tell me what I know already, that you are of a great 
position — almost a prince." 

Carter felt perturbed. He was able to make a shrewd 
guess at the identity of his visitor. 

"Don't you believe her," he said playfully. "I 'm only 
an ordinary American citizen, dear little girl, with dollars 
to waste which my father made for me out of molasses 
— synthetic molasses — the imitation kind. So there's 
no glory in the money they made or in the position it's 
given me. You can cut out the princely imputation. It 


does n't go with imitation molasses .... So it was my 
sister who's been taking away my character? Don't 
worry about that The poor thing can't help it She 
belongs to the English aristocracy now and seems to think 
I'm kind of grafted on to the stock as well. She's quite 
wrong there. Is that all the trouble?" 

''But no, there is immense much more! To begin, how 
ahould'I know that she is your sister? If I do would I not 
love her because of it? Instead, I did not think I could like 
her at all. And when she tell me that I am une gavroche 
and other bad things that will make all your friends turn 
their backs on you because of me, I bea>me so outraged 
that I cannot contain my tongue, and I tell her to go be- 
fore I throw my cabbages at her. But when she take her 
'ook and I am alone again I know that she speak only the 
truth. I am not a gavroche, but it is true that I am a per- 
son of no importance, and therefore not suitable to be the 
friend of one so distinguished as yourself." 

Carter had some difficulty in controlling his amuse- 
ment. To think of his sedate sister nearly assaulted with 
cabbages put a strain on his risible faculties. 

''Jackie," he said, "do you know that you are hurting 
my feelings dreadfully?" 

She gave an inmiense, a deplorable sigh. 

"My feelings are also 'urt," she rejoined sadly. "I 
'ad too much estimation of myself until recently. Now 
that I 'ave see the great lady your sister I perceive that 
there is many things for me to learn. It is of no use that 
I promise myself a lovely house and clothes of elegance, 
until first I have make control of myself to behave with 
elegance also." 

"That's sound reasoning. But I don't think you're 
often at fault, dear. I 'm sure you were not really rude to 
my sbter. Except perhaps about the cabbages. You 


couldn't be expected to know how much the English 
aristocracy — and their American wives — object to raw 
vegetables. It 's really I who ought to apologize to you 
for my sister's bad manners. I 'm afraid the synthetic 
molasses strain in her blood is responsible for them. It's 
the only excuse I can think of to account for her want of 
consideration towards you. Will you be big-hearted 
enough to try and forget it? " 

Jackie raised swimming eyes to his. 

''I could forget it all if I could also forget that I may 
deprive you of your friends. That is what I fear. Even 
the manner in which I am dressed is sufficient to turn the 
'ead round for others to stare and smile. Not in Soho, but 
in Belgravia. I shall never comport myself with an ease 
any more in this costume." 

'^But, my dear child! If it's only a question of clothes 
we can remedy all that. You shall have new ones. As 
many as you like. I never thought until now that you 've 
been going about in a kind of fancy-dress. I like you 
in it, but I shall like you just as much in anything else. 
You'll need a lot of other things, too. I must send you 

A dubious expression came into Jackie's face. Although 
the prospect of new and inconspicuous clothes was a 
del^tf ul one to contemplate, her belief that if she did not 
cut herself adrift from her m'sieur she would be a detri- 
ment to him was so firmly rooted in her mind that she 
was unable to shake it off all at once. 

'^Madame yom: sister would still consider me a ga- 
vroche, no matter what I wear," she said mournfully. 

Carter sat down and drew her on to his knee. He was 
acutely anxious to make amends for Virginia's imkind- 
ness. To wound the feelings of a child was such a sorry, 
such a malicious thing to do. And Jackie was only a child. 


Virginia's treatment of her was incomprehensible. He 
took out his handkerchief and wiped away her tears. 

"See here, Jackie," he said. "You needn't consider 
my sister, and you mustn't think we're going to be 
parted because of anything she said. It takes two to make 
a quarrel and two to dedde on a parting. I 'm far too fond 
of you to let you go, and what's more I'm not going to. 
As for this idea about my friends and relations disapprov- 
ing of you, it's all moonshine. My friends are not at all 
like my sister. Quite different in fact. They'll all be kind 
to you when they know you. Nobody thinks of class 
distinctions nowadays, except a few like my sister. She 
got out of molasses and into the peerage and lost her 
temper in the process. Do you follow me? " 

"Parbleu, oui! Comme la mouche dans la m61asse. It 
make her furious." 

"Precisely. She's not accountable for her actions." 

After a thoughtful pause Jackie said: 

"Merveen, if we continue to be friends would you wish 
all your friends to know me? Vraiment? " 

"Why, of course. It would be a pretty poor sort of 
friendship if I did n't. I might be a bit sdfish and want 
the biggest share of you, that's all." 

She seized his hand and kissed it passionately. 

" Oh, Merveen ! For you I 'ave the 'eart of a dog. If you 
call me I must follow. If you whip me I must lick your 
'and . . . Tell me, may I spend some of the money you 
give me for 'ousekeeping to buy a new dress and a 'at? " 

"No, I'll give you some more for those things." 

"And you will be proud if I make a great effect?" 

"Well, it depends," he said mock-seriously. "I shall 
be if you spend enough. You must make yourself very 
chic, though." He was immensely relieved at having 
succeeded in reasoning her out of her unbappiness. To 


prevent a relapse he was anxious for her to go without 
delay and enjoy the delights of shopping, a pursuit as he 
rightly believed likely to provide one of her sex with the 
most potent of anodynes against vexation of spirit. ^* Will 
you manage with this till I can give you some more? " he 
asked. "It's all I Ve got in my pocket." 

He handed her some notes, but she would not take half 
of them. She accepted what seemed to him a quite in- 
adequate sum for her purpose. 

"But no more." She pressed the other notes back into 
his hand. "With this I can buy a 'at and a robe that will 
make me appear like the latest fashion. You will see." 

Her old happy smile flashed out — a smile of gratitude. 
She tugged at his hand. 

"Come, let us go back to the poor Benny. I was too 
boulevers£e to tell him why I had so much diagrin. Now 
it is aU over I will relate to him 'ow I 'ave a visit from 
madame your sister and" — her lips tmtched demurely 
— "and about the cabbages!" 

Carter stayed on awhile to make quite sure that she 
had quite recovered her spirits. He was soon satisfied on 
that point by the excitable manner in which she tried to 
describe to Benny the special features of the hat and the 
cut of the dress she intended purchasing. As most of the 
technicalities had to be expressed in French his compre- 
hension must have been of the vaguest. But he did not 
show the slightest impatience. He would have pretended 
an interest in hairpins, so overjoyed was he to see that she 
had thrown off her recent dejection. 

Carter went home again. His annoyance with ^^ginia 
at first prompted him to go and rebuke- her for her un- 
charitable behaviour to Jackie. Then he decided it was 
not worth while. Jackie was happy once more. All was 
right with the world. Virginia could rip. 


He spent a dreamy hour or two smoking and meditat- 
ing about his little friend. There were her flowers; so 
like her in thdr purity and simplicity, so fresh and sweet, 
smelling like her. And his thoughts were long, long 
thoughts. A ring at his front door dispelled them. He 
resented the disturbance. 

But not for long. For the door opened and Jackie her- 
self stood before him. Not the Jackie he knew and loved, 
but a weird travesty of her. She had on the queerest hat 
he had ever seen. He did not know it was a cheap imita- 
tion of the latest fashion in hats. He did not know that the 
dress she wore was another example of what her sex, in its 
determination to be in the mode, will have the temerity 
to be seen in. She presented an impossible spectacle, a 
hopeless parody of elegance. All but her face. That wore 
an expression of complete satisfaction and dazzling hap- 

Instead of trusting to her own taste she had left the 
selection of her hat and dress to one of the assistants of 
the cheap drapery shop to which she had taken her cus- 
tom, and the extravagant effect was the result. The skirt 
was of exaggerated tightness. She could scarcely walk in 
it. It was provided with panniers like miniature balloons. 
Colour and material were both the poorest of post-war 
substitutes. But what did Jackie care? Her only regret 
was that Merveen's sister — the wife of a nobleman — 
was not there to witness her triumph. 

'*Merveen, Merveen!" she cried excitedly. "I could 
not wait. I have come immediately from the shop to show 
you how I have expend the money. And 'ere " — she 
flourished a brown paper parcel — **is my old skirt, my 
bodice and my scarf. Will you please to keep it. And 
sometimes I will wear it for a remembrance, a souvenir. 
Am I not chic to a degree? Will you not be proud to walk 



with me in the Peekadilly and Lestaire Square? Observe 
me at the back. Take notice of the side of me.'' 

She turned this way and that, demanding admiration. 

Carter had not the heart to refuse it. He dreaded un- 
deceiving her. One had only to look into the dear little 
face and forget the f imny fashion in which she was tricked 
out. His eyes twinkled, but the expression of his mouth 
was despairingly tender. He put his hands on her shoul- 

"Dear Jackie!" he said. "Dear, incomparable, pre- 
cious, /unny little kid!" 



''How pleased Virginia would be if she could see us 
lunching together like a couple of turtle doves, would n't 
she?" Irene stirred her coflFee thoughtfully. "She's 
making life a little bed of roses for me just now. You 're 
wise to keep out of the way, dear friend Mervyn. Don't 
you think it's very forward of me inviting myself like 

''I suppose you want something, as usual," he said with 
a grin. ''I'm accustomed to being made a convenience 
of. Fire away, Renie. I have a favour to ask you myself 

"That'll be a bit of a change. You know I'd do almost 
anything for you except marry you, dear thing." 

"That wasn't the favour I was going to ask," he 

"I'm relieved. Think how disappointed you'd be if I 
said yes. No one except Virginia would expect a man to 
fall in love with a person who used to paw him about with 
jammy fingers, and spoil the creases of his trousers by 
sitting on his knees." 

"Oh, I liked it. You were a nice child. Not stickier 
than most. Strong-willed and decidedly turbulent, though, 
in spite of Virginia's disciplinary measures. I was often 
tempted to steal you out of your nursery and let you give 
vent to your superabundant energy." 

"I wish you had!" she murmured regretfully. "I shall 
never be a girl again." She became grave. "I suppose you 
know Virginia has set her heart on our making a match of 


''Come to think of it she did mention something of the 
sort a few days ago," he admitted, a little uncomfortably. 

"What did you say?" 

"Well, to tell you the truth I hardly knew what to say. 
I did n't know she had any such a notion in her head. It 
was rather as if she'd asked me to marry an infant in 
arms. Fact is, I'd never considered getting married. 
Moreover, as I told her, I'd no earthly reason for sup- 
posing that you cared for me." 

"There's no earthly reason why I shouldn't," con- 
sidered Irene. "You're a perfect dear." 

"Thanks. Same to you." 

"But in my case it's 'house full' already. I'm booked 
up. I'm in love. Have been for ever so long." 

"The deuce you have! I mean, I congratulate you, 
Renie dear. How is it I've heard nothing of it before?" 

"That's because you're not much of a clubman." The 
colour came into her cheeks. "I — I'm getting talked 
about, Mervyn. Virginia is fearfully upset." 

"But why? It's not a crime to be in love." 

"No, but I — I've given my heart where I can't give 
my hand." 

She met his eyes across the table, friendly and con- 
cerned. Hers were troubled. 

"I love John Grandison and he loves me," she said. 
"It's not just sentimental girl-love. I've had that sort 
of affairs before. This is the real — the Big Thing — and 
it's out of my reach. Hard luck, is n't it?" 

"I'm awfully sorry," Carter murmured. "But why is 
it out of your reach? " 

She told him and then said: 

"So I've had to blight all Virginia's hopes. And now 
she says I 'm the gossip of the cheap press and the ribald 
crowd." Her lips took on a hard line. "I hate that really, 


although I pretend I don't caxe. I do care. No sensitive 
— no sensible girl likes to fly in the face of the world's 
opinion. It's specially hard when you don't deserve the 
cruel things people say. It cuts Grandison too." 

Carter nodded sympathetically and waited for her to 
continue. He guessed there was more to come. 

"So Virginia wants to give the lie to all this gossip by 
announcing our engagement — yours and mine. She 
says it's so suitable. Isn't it a dreadful word? When 
anything is spoken of as being suitable, you may depend 
upon it it 's just not — from a dress to matrimony . . . 
But what I want to ask you is this. Would you mind — 
just until people have discovered some one else to stick 
pins into and throw stones at — would you mind being 
seen about with me? Only to give people the impres- 
sion that we might be going to get engaged any old time? 
It would make Virginia think so, too. Is it dreadful of 
me to make such a convenience of you? You're not 

"Not a bit. In fact, I feel flattered. You know I'm 
awfully fond of you, Renie. If you think it will do any 
good — stop scandal about you and Grandison — of 
course you can make use of me." 

She laid her hand on his gratefully. 

"Best of pals, bless you!" she said. 

After a short but thoughtful silence Carter said: 

"But — Grandison? Are you going on seeing him? . • . 
It's hardly wise, is it?" 

"It's got to go on," she replied in a low voice. "I 
could n't give him up. He cares too much. I think it 
woidd kill us both to lose each other. I can't talk about 
it, Mervyn. It goes too deep." 

He understood. Love came to every one just like 
that. Once in a lifetime, perhaps. Why should Irene 


give up the man she loved ? Could he give up his little 
Jackie? . . . 

"Now, what is it you want me to do for you?" Irene 
asked presently. "We might make it a mutual-aid 

With much deliberation Carter lit a cigarette. Then he 
looked at her, weighing the question he was about to put. 

"Yes, you can trust me," intuition made her say. 

"Have you heard of Jacqueline?" he asked. 

"You mean Jackie? Yes, I have. From Virginia. 
She's got some queer story about an organ-grinder's 
daughter whom you're interested in. She was dancing 
outside our house one day last week, was n't ^e? And 
Virginia found her yesterday in your flat and there was a 
front scene? She says she 's a minx. I'd love to see her." 

"Out of curiosity?" 

"Not altogether. From the way Virginia talked I 
gathered she must be some child!" 

"She is. I want you to know her. That's what I was 
going to ask you. I want Jackie and you to meet. I want 
you to be awfully kind to her to make up for Virginia's 

"Why, of course I will. But is that all?" 

"Not quite. She 's French, and very young for her age. 
Until the other day she had only a sort of fancy dancing 
dress to go about in, and after her encounter with Vir- 
ginia, who must have been very personal regarding her 
appearance, she was sensitive about it. So I gave her 
some money to get everyday clothes. She would only 
take five pounds." 

"And of course she got the wrong things?" 

"Yes. She doesn't know they're all wrong, though. 
I simply could n't tell her the truth. She was so delighted 
with herself and wanted me to be pleased. She needs 


somebody like you to show her how to dress. Will you, to 
oblige me, take on the job? " 

"I should love to! Is she pretty?" 

"I think you '11 admire her," said Carter. " You '11 have 
to admit she's inimitable." 

" Well, give me her address and I '11 go and see her now. 
I've nothing to do this afternoon." 

Thanking her profusely, Carter wrote out the address 
and then fiUed in a cheque. Irene's eyebrows went up 
when she saw the amount for which it was drawn. 

''Am I to spend all this?" she asked in surprise. 

''More if you like. I know clothes are a fabulous price 
just now." 

"What a joy it must be not to care what one spends! " 
She put the cheque in her bag. " Your Jackie is lucky in 
having a millionaire for a friend. Tell me more about her, 
Mervyn. Are you in love with her? " 

Carter looked at her reflectively when he answered: 

"I'm bewitched. You'll imderstand when you see 

"You've made me awfully curious, Mervyn. I'm 
dying to see her. I'll go right away." 

Late that afternoon Carter was called to the telephone. 
The speaker was Irene. She had been shopping with 
Jackie since lunch-time and had only just got back. And 
Jackie? Oh, Jackie was absolutely delightful! 

"I'm in love with her if you're not," she declared. 
"I'm bewitched too. I went back and had tea with her 
and that adopted cripple of hers. She's wonderful! She's 
not like any other girl I 've ever come across. I 've called 
you up to tell you to meet her at the Carlton at eight to- 
night. You're dining with a Fairy Princess. Book a 
table for two." 


Carter's gratification was somewhat qualified by 
Irene's concluding words. She had been a brick to take 
Jackie in hand. It was delightfid to know that she ap- 
proved of her. Her enthusiasm was immensely comforting 
after Virginia's treatment of the girl. But to be ordered 
at short notice to dine with Jackie in a fashionable restau- 
rant put him in a dilemma. Her ways were not the ways of 
the people who frequented the Carlton. She was quite 
ignorant of the customs and conventions of polite society. 
He very much doubted whether she woidd like being 
plunged into such a milieu, or derive any pleasure from it. 
It was a wild idea of Irene's. 

Still, the arrangement being made and there being no 
time to cancel it. Carter had no alternative but to fall in 
with it. After reserving a table by telephone he had just 
time to dress and get to the Carlton by eight o'clock. He 
took a seat in the Palm Court near the entrance doors, 
with just the faintest degree of anxiety lest Jackie shoidd 
turn up in the wrong costimie. He supposed she would 
wear a skirt and blouse. He hoped it woidd be a dark 
skirt and a plain blouse. White for choice. 

She was late. Not until twenty minutes past the hour 
did she make her appearance, and then he had to look 
and look before he was sure it was she. In intense ad- 
miration, some awe, and with a beating heart he went to 
meet her. And as he did so his idyllic affection for the 
little girl of yesterday underwent a miraculous change. 
A new and mightier emotion stirred him. For the first 
time in his life he knew what love was — love for a woman 
— love for Jacqueline. 

She was another being; perfect to look on, exquisitely 
dressed; so beautifid, so much more like a lovely flower 
than a creature of flesh and blood, that her effect on Car- 
ter's eyes and feelings was one of entrancement He was 



almost impelled to kneel at her feet, to kiss the hem of the 
rose-shot, mist-like frock that showed beneath the folds 
of her feather-trimmed wrap of soft brocade. 

Irene, herself initiate, had taken Jackie and led her into 
her woman's kingdom, to the very steps of her throne . . . 


Across their table in the restaurant Jackie gave Carter 
a smile of transport. She was enchanted by the music and 
the glitter: all the amenities of luxury. She felt as if she 
were in fairyland. Everything seemed too good to be 
true. She and her frock were the admiration of everybody 
within view. That alone was a delicious sensation. She 
would not have been a true daughter of Eve had she not 
been glad to observe it. But the acme of her delight lay 
in the glory she derived from making a public d£but with 
her fairy prince. 

She behaved without the slightest trace of self-con- 
sciousness. Novel as she found the situation she took it 
as one to the manner born, showing only the honest en- 
joyment of a well-bred girl at her first dinner party. 

" Oh, Merveen ! " she murmured, " I am so full of happi- 
ness. My feet dance underneath the table. Am I to your 
satisfaction? Pardon that I keep on looking in the glass. 
I do not recognize myself. I am a trans — a transgression. 
No, I mean a traduction!" 

"Are you?" he made answer. "I should call you an 
adaptation; an example of progressive modification." 
He lowered his voice tenderly. ** Jackie, you 're a rosebud 
that has come out in the night! Do you know you've 
taken my breath away! Bowled me clean over! What 
have you done to yourself?" 

"I? But nothing. It is that wonderful Irene and all the 
clothes she has made choice of. All that you see, Mer- 
veen, is the glamour of Monsieur Poiret of the robes and 
modes shop — not of Jackie. Is not this a beautiful con- 
fection?" She lovingly fingered the tulle folds of her 


frock. ''It is difficult to imagine how that your sister 
should have call me une gavroche! If only she could see 
me at this moment! Merveen, I am all-complete! Would 
you believe that even my lingerie is of silk? Six of this, 
six of that, and twelve pair of stocking! And yesterday, 
I had only two pair and one beyond the mend! How can 
I give you thanks enough?" 

^* By keeping on looking as sweet as you do now, and 
by justifying yourself all along the line." 

" How you mean? " 

" By aspiring to the heights. By fulfilling your destiny. 
By making good. I Ve fixed up an appointment for you 
with Audagna. You 're to go to him to-morrow morning. 
I was half afraid he would n't see you. He talks of retir- 
ing. He says he's too tired and too old to teach any 
longer, and he has plenty of money. Still, I prevailed on 
him in the end, I 'm glad to say." 

"And the price, Merveen? The price of these lessons 
will be mints of gold, is it not? " 

Carter waved that aside. "Don't bother your head 
about that," he said. " The money 's nothing." 

Jackie grew thoughtful. Something was troubling her. 

"Will you promise not to be offend at something I 
would say? " she asked at last. 

" Sure." 

"It is this: I do not want these dancing lessons." 

" But I thought you *d set your heart and soul on them ! " 

" Yes, but there is something else. For two nights I 
consider. Merveen, 'ow can I learn to dance with a 'appy 
'eart while the poor Benny is always in pain of the back? 
It would be — 6goiste. Think welL For so many years 
he has suffer, not a little from now to then, but always. 
In the morning it is the worst. He will get up early before 
myself to accustom himself to the pain, in order that he is 


able to bear it before my eyes. So I have said to myself 
that if I abandon these lessons perhaps Merveen will give 
me instead the money for a great doctor. If we wait till 
I am become famous the pain may kill Benny in the mean- 
time. Imagine, Merveen! a life that is all suffering! It is a 
thought to m^e one weep." 

Carter patted her hand. 

"IVe not forgotten Benny," he said. "After I'd seen 
Audagna I went on to Purton Day. He's the great spine 
doctor. We 're going to take Benny to see him next week. 
But there 's no reason why you should give up your danc- 
ing lessons, Jackie. I should help Benny in any case, if 
for no other reason than that he 's a countryman of mine." 

"But, Merveen, always, always, it is the charity!" 

"You must n't think that, Jackie. Do you know, be- 
fore I met you and you danced the heart out of me, I had 
no other hobby in the world but collecting fiddles? Bits of 
dead wood! I could n't even play them! It was just a 
craze — a useless one. Having nothing to do and all day 
to do it in is the trouble. You find that difficult to under- 
stand, I suppose? It's true, though; and if you think it 
over you '11 get to know why I feel far more under an 
obligation to you than you can ever be to me. You've 
taught me a lot lately, dear. You 've given me a new in- 
terest in life. I can't tell you quite how it's come about, 
but there it is. You 've switched me off fiddle collecting 
— the unessential; and made me see that the secret of 
happiness is to do a little real good by helping others." 

"But how can I make you see that? I, who can help 

"Why, you're helping all the time. With all you've 
got — with yourself, the most predous of gifts. You 
give out love and wholesomeness and joy and beauty all 
the time* You 're a perfume^ a breath of heaven, Jackie." 


She flushed with pleasure which was half amazement. 

"Oh, Merveen," she chided softly, "you make me *ave 
a conceit of myself. I do not imderstand why I should 
make you feel so incline to give." 

"Don't you? Well, you have and you do. You get me 
that way, that's all there is to it." He spoke lightly to 
cover hfe feelings. " Shall I tell you what I did the day 
before yesterday? Those violins I 'd collected sort of got 
talking to me — a dozen of them together worth enough 
to endow a hospital or build a church — all in show-cases 
just to look at. No use to any one. And suddenly I saw 
what a fool I was. So now, at this very moment, there 's a 
poor devil of a violinist in a cheap restaurant playing like 
a happy angel on a Strad; a street musician of parts has 
another; and I'm looking out for owners for the rest. 
It 's all your doing, Jackie. Guess I was blind until you 
happened along. Now I'm nearer true happiness than 
I ever thought possible, thanks to you. My ship has come 
home. And yours is in the ofl^g. We 're going to row out 
to meet it, and take Benny with us for the good of his 
health." Carter looked at his watch. " But that 's all for 
to-morrow. What would you like to do this evening? 
I think I'll take you to see Caliowska at the Coliseum. 
What do you say? " 

Jackie clasped her hands in delight. 

"Oh, Merveen! That incomparable one! Only on the 
billposts have I see her." She pushed her chair back im- 
petuously. "Shall we go immediately?" 

"We shall be on time," he smiled as he got up. 

To sit in a stage-box and watch Caliowska was nearly 
as great a joy to Carter as it was to Jackie. But his 
artistic perceptions were outstripped by her practical 
knowledge of the great dancer's art. The wondrous 
technique of the Russian fairy stirred her to her depths. 


From the moment the ballet commenced she had not a 
word to say. This was her world, the one behind the 
glowing footlights. She had never been in a big theatre 
before. She marvelled at the beauty and vastness of the 
building and the prodigious audience. She was stirred by 
emotions that no ordinary theatre-goer could have felt 
In her eyes a theatre like this was a cathedral, a temple of 
Art. It aroused in her an indefinable longing to kneel 
down and give praise. But the audience were not pray- 
ing. They were there only for amusement. The great art 
of Caliowska, which had taken almost every hour of her 
life to acquire, was to be witnessed here merely as an 
after-dinner diversion. 

Carter, observing her enraptured face, made no at- 
tempt at conversation. He divined something of the feel- 
ings that stirred her. Words would have dissipated them, 
broken the spell. 

While the orchestra played Jackie sat in a dream. 
Mentally she was not in the front of the house at alL 
Imagination took her behind. She was Caliowska her- 
self — Caliowska waiting for the curtain to go up, ready 
to trip on to the stage. But when the divine Russian, 
light as thistledown, flitted into view, she woke from her 
illusion. Caliowska transcended anything she had ever 
thought possible. Never in the world could Jackie expect 
to reach such heights of artistry. Into the dance tragedy 
unfolding before her eyes Caliowska poured out soul and 
spirit. It was more than wonderful. It was seraphic. She 
forgot that what she saw was a woman dancing, a being 
of flesh and blood with a heart and body Uke her own. 
Caliowska seemed a creature of another world. Her grace 
and beauty were supreme. Her technique seemed too per- 
fect to be the achievement of a human being. 

Only when the curtain fell did Jackie take her eyes from 


the stage. Throughout the ballet she had sat without 
movement, holding her breath . . . And when the curtain 
swung up again, and Caliowska took call after call, a 
sudden sob shook her. Her own dancing was nothing — 
nothing! She was a worm, a creeping thing of the earth, 
without feet! 

"Did you enjoy it?" Carter enquired. 

She coidd not speak. The sobs had to be swallowed back 

"Would you like to see Caliowska? Just for a minute 
in her dressing-room? " 

She could only nod. She was ready to worship at 
Caliowska's feet. 

Carter had met the dancer at Virginia's house. So- 
ciety's doors, which she cared not a whit about, were all 
open to her. His card, pencilled with a message requesting 
her to see a friend of his, was quite sufficient to obtain an 
interview for Jackie. An attendant took her round to the 
back of the theatre. 

Caliowska had already removed the grease-paint from 
her face and was reclining on a sofa, waiting for her ballet 
shoes to be untied. Her dresser was about to do this when 
Jackie came into the room. 

"Oh, madame, permit me!" she cried, running for- 
ward. "May I not take them off?" 

Caliowska motioned the dresser away. A little smile 
came into her tired, white face. Behind the scenes, after 
her work, she was the frailest creature. She was like an 
exhausted bird that has flown too long and too far. From 
the auditoriiun one saw only the supreme expression of a 
wonderful art, the spirit of Caliowska triimiphing over 
the limitations of the flesh; behind the scenes one became 
aware of the price she nightly paid for that triimiph. 

Jackie knelt b^ the sofa* Artistically, she did not fed 


herself worthy to touch the silken ribbon of Caliowska's 
ballet shoes. Carefully, humbly, she took them off — 
the thin satin shoes which were worn out after each 
night's performance. The toe-tips were slightly blood- 
stained. Every night of her dancing life CaUowska's 
beautiful feet bled. It was an infliction to which she had 
long become inured. But the evidence of it brought a 
pang to Jackie's heart. 

Caliowska's weary eyes, which glowed like a lamp from 
the soul within when she danced, rested on Jackie with 
gentle and friendly interest. On his card Carter had men- 
tioned that she was about to commence serious training as 
a dancer. 

In a soft voice, a little halting from recent exertion, 
speaking in French, Caliowska commenced to counsel and 
advise. As one whose training had begun at the age of 
eight she spoke of the dancer's education, demonstrating 
by her own experience that there was no short-cut to 
success, no royal road to fame, and that attainment could 
be achieved only by ceaseless perseverance. She made it 
clear that in the dancer's art supremest expression of it 
could be bought only at the expense of pain. 

"Never grudge to yourself pain of any kind," she said. 
'^ Pain of the body, of the mind. It is all one, a discipline, 
an education. And to dance well, little one, there is only 
one way — continued discipline, Jong practice." She 
looked steadily into Jackie's eyes. "Have you the spirit 
and the courage? " 

She saw the courage in them, but also something else. 
Again and yet again love would try to woo this girl away 
from art, and both she could not have. She dwelt on this. 
Always, for everything, one had to pay the price . . . 
Neither woman nor man could serve two masters. 

Jackie assured her that her choice of service was al- 


ready made. Never before in her life had she felt so hum- 
ble as she did in the presence of this spirit-pale woman 
who made her realize how very, very far she had yet to go. 

Caliowska bade her adieu, kissing her lightly on the 
forehead. She called her " little sister in art " ; and Jackie, 
thrilled by the accueU, registered an inward vow to be 
worthy of such a sisterhood. 

On her way to the door she picked up one of the ballet 
shoes and regarded it wistfully. 

" Oh, madame ! " she said timorously. " If I mig^t have 
this to regard ... to remember ... to keep myself in 
humility . . . ?" 

"It is fit only to throw away," was the rejoinder. 
* But Jackie took it gratefully, to treasure all her life. 

She was very quiet when she rejoined Carter, too 
moved by the evening's rare experience to want to talk. 
Even her dear Merveen, benefactor and prince, seemed to 
have become a little remote, less personal to her. Cali- 
owska's spell was upon her, and beneath her theatre-wrap, 
pressed tightly to her heart, she clasped the little dancing 
shoe . . • the souvenir of pain. 


A. B. Calderon (generally known as '' A.B.C." in theat- 
rical circles) sprang two steps at a time up the stairs of 
Audagna's premises in Leicester Square, hurried along 
a passage, threw open the door of a room, stopped for an 
instant to look at a girl waiting there, crossed to another 
door that led to Audagna's office, darted at the ballet- 
master, and wrung his hand energetically. 

Entrepreneur J theatre-owner, boxing-contest promoter, 
foremost hustler of his profession, he had no time to 
waste. He did everything on the run. 

^'Audagna, you're the one man who can help me!" he 
burst out. ''I'm in a hole! You know I'm opening the 
Diplomats' Theatre on the fourteenth with 'Spatch- 

"The new revue?" queried Audagna. 

"Yes. Well, I engaged Claudia Day to play Mariette, 
the lead. Unf ortxmately, it 's more of a dancing part than 
anything else." 

"That big heavy Claudia to dance! That elephant!" 
Audagna heaved up his shoulders and then shuddered. 
^'And so, despairing, you come to me to get her dancing 
into shape? A.B.C., I am your friend, but I am not a 
circus trainer. Moreover, I am about to give up business. 
I retire." 

"Hold on a bit, Audagna. I'm not asking you to teach 
her. I own I made a colossal nustake in taking her on. 
She was n't my fancy, I assure you. I engaged her to 
oblige one of my backers who was keen on her having the 
part. But she's hopeless. She's got less temperament 
than a suet pudding, and her voice is like a raven's. And 


every day she's getting fatter. The long and the short of 
it is, I fired her yesterday, told her backer to go to the 
devil and take his money out of the show if he likes, and 
here I am! Now I want the right girl for the part, and if 
I'm not very much mistaken she's in the next room at 
this very moment. I want you to tell me who she is, what 
she 's done, and whether I can give her a trial. 

''But who is there in the next room?" demanded 
Audagna, blankly. 

"A girl. A dark girl with wonderful e3res. And young. 
She was practising dance steps. 'Pon my soul I nearly 
put her through her paces right away, but I thought I 'd 
better ask you about her first. You must know who she is, 
my dear old boy. Has n't she got an appointment with 
you? " 

Audagna clapped his hands to his head, cudgelling his 
brains. A defective memory was his besetting weakness. 
He would make engagements and appointments without 
noting them down, and then forget all about them. Those 
who knew him were aware of this failing and made allow- 
ances for it. 

But Jackie, in the next room waiting for her long- 
looked-for interview, was getting impatient and restless. 
At Carter's request she had arrived at ten-thirty. It was 
now past eleven. She supposed that the great ballet- 
master must have been awaiting the alert-looking man 
who had passed through the room a few minutes ago. 
She was still trying to possess her soul in patience when 
Audagha opened the door a few inches and peered at her 
curiously. Behind him was the alert-looking man. 

** Mademoiselle," said the former, " have you been wait- 
ing to see me? Will you have the goodness to say what 
for you have come? My recollection is out of order.'* 

"I come to dance to you," Jackie answered, diffidently. 



Monsieur Merveen Carter made for me an appoint- 
ment. Have I come at the wrong hour? " 

Carter's name awakened Audagna's stagnant memory. 

"O delo! I forget!" he cried. " But no matter. You 
shall dance now — immediately. This way. You will 
also come? " he asked Calderon. 

Calderon had every intention of doing so. One glance 
at Jackie had been almost sufficient for him. He had an 
extraordinary flair for discovering talent. He was con- 
vinced that this girl had it. 

With pulses at high pressure Jackie followed Audagna 
into his practice-room. Calderon noted the way she 
walked. She moved gracefully, like a Spaniard, from the 
hips. Her poise was perfect. All the previous afternoon he 
had been scouring the theatrical agencies on the lookout 
for an actress to replace Claudia Day. He had interviewed 
stars of greater and lesser magnitude and he had seen no 
one as promising as this unknown girl. He was all agog to 
see her dance. 

At its farther end the room had a raised platform about 
the size of an average stage. At one side of it stood a 
piano. Audagna sat down and played the opening bars 
of Mendelssohn's '^Spring Song." 

'Xan you dance to this?" he asked. 

Jackie listened for a minute or two. 

"If you play while I undress I will learn it," she said, 
and with Calderon's assistance mounted the stage where, 
with her attention concentrated on the music, she slipped 
off her frock and shoes. Under the former was a pleated 
dancing skirt; the latter were replaced by a pair of ballet 
shoes brought for the purpose. 

By this time Audagna had come to the end of the move- 
ment. Jackie took up a position at the back of the platform. 

" Allez," she said. 


She swayed to the prelude as he recommenced, and 
sharp on the first note of the dance music broke into 
a measure so airy and so perfectly in accord with its 
rhythm that her audience of two at once assimied it to be 
the result of long study and practice. But the effect was 
one which Jackie always created on beholders. Her grace 
compelled it. Instinctively she converted music into 
terms of movement. She danced to this melody of spring- 
time and laughing things without conscious effort. Like 
gossamer she flitted to its phrases, quite unaware that 
every now and then her feet were reproducing the mas- 
terly steps of Caliowska herself. With Caliowska's shoe 
beneath her pillow she had slept and dreamt and imbibed 
some of the wearer's essence. 

Calderon could not take his eyes off her. For once 
in a way all thought of business went out of his head. 
The sheer pleasure of watching this joyous creature sufficed 
him. Her dancing was not supreme art: far from it; but 
it was so natural, so unaffectedly happy. It made him 
feel yoimg again just to look at her. 

All the while, Audagna, who hardly ever allowed a 
pupil to dance through four bars of music uncorrected, 
said not a word. He was nodding and smiling, observing 
every movement of her nimble feet, noting also that she 
danced with her head, her arms, and her hands. He 
recognized every one of her limitations, but he did not 
tmderestimate any of her merits. He knew her for what 
she was — that rare thing, a dancer bom. 

The music stopped, and Jackie, now still, stood mod- 
estly before the two men, a little bashful, a little afraid. 
That other one — the alert-looking, younger man — did 
not matter. His opinion was nothing to her. But if 
Audagna had not liked her dancing I If she was not good 
enough for him to accept as a pupil 1 ^ 


But Audagna quickly disposed of that fear. Agile in 
spite of his years and his white hair, he vaulted on to the 
stage, took her face between his two hands and kissed it. 

"Little daughter of the Muses, I love you!" he cried. 

There was no mistaking his meaning. She trembled 
with excitement. 

"Then, monsieur • . . you will teach me?" 

Once again he kissed her. Audagna's memory might be 
defective, but his enthusiasms were unimpaired. This 
little one would be the last pupil of his old age, his best- 
beloved dancing child I 

"Tell the signor — tell Mr. Carter," he said, "that 
he has given me joy to see you dance. Tell him, yes, that 
I teach you with a great, great felicity. But not for 
money! No, for the pleasure. It is for my own gratifica- 
tion that I would accept you as my last pupil." 

Calderon could curb his impatience no longer. He 
joined them on the stage. 

"Splendid! Splendid!" he cried. 

Audagna's praise had rendered Jackie temporarily 
speechless. Calderon saw the tears in her eyes and the 
quivering of her lips. Undoubtedly the girl was a genius 
in her way, an artist ingrain. Technique would perfect 
her, of course; but he was not sure that he did not prefer 
her as she was. Her individuality was outstanding. She 
had that elusive quality which never fails to get over the 
f ootUghts, a wonderful magnetism. She had youth, charm, 
grace, and temperament. He was convinced of the last. 
She might be worth more than her weight in gold. Unlike 
Audagna, who was a queer old creature of impulse and 
generosity, Calderon could not help thinking of her com- 
mercial value. As a speculation she was immensely at- 
tractive. He began estimating what she would be worth 
to him in her present immature state: what she might not 


be worth later on. There imagination ran away with him. 
In any case she was the equivalent of shares standing at a 
heavy discoimt, but which bid fair to go to an incredible 

Over and above all she was the Mariette of his revue 
to the life. He meant to make of the piece something more 
than a mere hotchpot of gorgeous scenery and stage 
tricks. There was good music in it, a plot, a fine acting 
part for the girl who would play Mariette. He thanked 
his stars that he had consigned Claudia Day's backer to 
the deuce, and '' fired " Claudia as well. She was mature, a 
clod, of the earth earthy; whereas this other, whose name 
he did not even yet know, was young, ethereal, and clever 
— clever as paint ! He was ready to stake his managerial 
reputation on it. She was a first-prize find! She was 
the goods! It was his business in life to recognize and 
deliver them. 

''If you're in an engagement, mademoiselle," he said, 
taking the bull by the horns: ''if you 're committed to any 
contracts, I 'm willing to pay you to break any and all of 
them . . . Audagna, dear old boy, will you allow me to 
talk business?" 

Jackie and Benny had moved house. With much tact^ 
aided and abetted by Irene, Carter had succeeded in 
installing them in a pretty, furnished flat in Green Street, 
Mayfair. Jackie, engaged by Calderon to play Mariette 
in his revue at a commencing salary which was munifi- 
cence in her eyes, firmly believed that she was paying a 
rent of six guineas a week. Carter did not disillusion her. 
It made her so happy to think that she was self-support- 
ing. She revelled in her new home, in all the wonderful 
things that seemed to have come about in a single stroke 
of fortune's wand. 

Here she was, just Jackie, in a beautiful appartcment 
such as rich people inhabited; possessing frocks innumer- 
able; the little friend of the dearest and most wonderful 
m'sieur in the world; pupil of the great Audagna, who ac- 
tually taught her for love; engaged by the greatest im- 
presario in London to play a considerable part in a West 
End production! It was incredible! It was wonderful! 
Always she was realizing her good fortune, and feeling 
amazingly thankful for it 

Her whole world seemed full of friends and beneficent 
forces. There was Benny shortly about to undergo treat- 
ment that would very likely cure him. That in itself was 
enough to make her heart sing. Her cup of joy was 
brimming over. She felt in love with all the world. 

She had just finished arranging the table for tea with 
housewifely enjoyment; for Carter and Irene were com- 
ing. Benny lay on a couch. He had been very quiet all 
day. On the morrow he was going to Sir Purton Day's 
nursing home to undergo treatment prior to the operation 


that might cure him. The specialist had pronounced a 
distinct chance of a complete cure, but his qualification 
had been that there must be no delay. Too much time 
had been lost already. 

Jackie touched Benny's cheek with light, caressing 

"But smile, ch6ri," she urged. 

The effort that Benny made to obey her was a poor one. 

"I know I ought n't to be such a dull dog," he said. 
"I've everything in the world to be thankful for, but 
somehow since we've been here I've had a feeling that 
it 's all a dream. I shall wake up presently and find I 'm 
back with Bowman, and that you never existed at all. 
Jackie, it can^t last. It's all too good to be true!" 

"It is your infirmity that make you think that," she 
rejoined tenderly. "When you are returned from the 
home all that will be altered. You will then say that it is 
the bad things that are too bad to be true. Is the back 
aching? Soon that will be of the past. Is it that you have 
the funk? But that is childish. I might also have the 
funk that I shall make a failure of myself as Mariette. 
God would not be good if he permit such a fiasco; and 
surely you would not doubt the goodness of God. Let us 
make a total of all the b&i6fices we have already re- 
ceived." She raised spread fingers and pulled one down. 
"Un — we have escape from the bad Bovnnan; deux — 
we inhabit Belgravia — no, Mayfair — with window- 
boxes of flowers and a brass knocker like a face even as I 
predict, only much sooner has it arrive; trois — you will 
have a cure of your back; quatre — if I am a success my 
name will be in electric light outside the theatre like stars 
shining. Monsieur Calderon have promise so. Oh, but, 
I cannot coimt all the blessings. So make a cheer-up, 
ch6ri, and pull at yourself." 


But she could not banish his dejection. Usually Benny 
kept his dark moods to himself. He knew it was not fair 
to cloud Jackie's happiness, especially at a time like this 
when she was rehearsing and practising all day at the 
theatre and also at Audagna's. She had only had a fort- 
night's rehearsals. To-morrow night she was to make her 
first appearance in public. By the merest hazard, her 
chance had come at the very outset of her career — one of 
those lucky chances which occasionally happen in stage- 
land. It was far too good a one to ts^e lightly. Carter 
had said so when she triumphantly waved her ama2dng 
contract before his surprised eyes. Audagna had strongly 
advised her to accept Calderon's offer and terms. Cal- 
deron was about the only manager in London who would 
have had the courage to put on a yoimg and imtried girl 
in a first-dass production. It was his boast that he had 
never yet backed a loser; and he would have put his last 
shirt on Jackie. She was so divinely fresh. She had n't a 
single trick of the trade. She would be like a breath of 
ozone to a jaded public ^if she did n't get stage fright. 
Nor did he believe she would be spoilt by success, or her 
progress impeded by imdue conceit of herself. He had 
never come across any one quite so refreshingly anxious to 
learn, so extremely receptive. She appreciated with the 
utmost humility the great gulf that divided her art from 
the art of Caliowska, for instance. The ballet shoe which 
she treasured as a priceless souvenir was sufficient re- 
minder of heights to which she could never attain. In a 
sense, although she believed in her star with superstitious 
tenacity, she was extraordinarily humble concerning her 
talents. Above all, she was quite Unaware of the magnetic 
quality of her beauty. Carter and Benny knew its potency, 
but they kept the knowledge locked in their hearts. Cal- 
deron hugged it as a sort of trade secret that would be 


put to the test when ^'Spatch-Cock'' was presented to 
a revue-crazy world. 

The only doud in Jackie's sky was when, as now, her 
Benny, her broken doll, looked depressed. She was most 
desperately anxious for all the world to be happy, espe- 
cially all tiiose of her nearer world. Happiness with her 
was a creed. Joy was the raison d'&re of her life. 

A little shamefacedly Benny turned his head away so 
that she should not see the tears in his eyes. 

'^Is it the funk that is troubling you?" she persisted 

"Not altogether. All day I've felt like two cents. 
For two nights I've dreamt of Bowman. I dreamt he'd 
tracked us here and was smashing up everything in the 
place. I've alwa3rs got a feeling at the back of my mind 
that one day he'll turn up and raise Cain. D' you think 
if he knew of your good luck and my chance of getting 
well that he would n't take a devil's own joy in spoiling 
our prospects? He'd accuse me of murder and you of 
being my accomplice. I don't say he 'd make it a police 
matter, but he 'd put the screw on us. Trust him for that 1 
And in another dream I had he was burning my back with 
a red-hot poker and then laughing at the sport. I can't 
shake off the feeling that something bad 's going to hap- 
pen. Good luck only runs in streaks. It's too much to 
expect it to last all the time. Sometimes when you've 
been at the theatre and I've had nothing else to do but 
lie and think, I've seen him coming in at that door al- 
most as plain as life, and carting me off then and there 
• . . And I've imagined you coming back to find me 

"But chiri," she soothed, "think of the weeks that 
have gone by! He has forgotten us." 

"Not he. If he has n't turned up it's not for want of 


looking. I know the brute all through I Hell never 
forget or forgive; he'll wait years to pay back a grudge. 
Did I ever tell you about the kitten that scratched him in 
play? Such a pretty little thing it was. It belonged to a 
kiddie in one of our diggings. Well, one day it scratched 
him accidentally, and he got into one of his mad rages. 
No, he did n't kill it right off. That was too merciful for 
him. It just disappeared, and the kiddie cried her eyes 
out. But just before we left, it turned up. The fiend had 
tortured it so that it had lived on in agony for days. He 
pretended he didn't know anything about it. But I 
guessed ... I could tell by the way he looked, and the 
sympathy he pretended to feel — he who had n't a grain 
of mercy in him!" He clasped Jackie's hand tightly. 
''Jackie! I'm an awful coward whenever I think of him I 
If he got me — if he took me — I'd far sooner be dead 
than live to be tortured like that kitten. You don't know 
what I 've been through all these years. I 've never told 
you half . . ." 

Jackie put her arms round his shrinking form. She 
could not comprehend his sudden fear that Bowman might 
find them. It seemed the remotest of all possibilities. 
But her heart went out to Benny in love and sympathy 
nevertheless. She coaxed and comforted him. The in- 
tensely maternal side of her nature was only shown to 
Benny. No one else, except perhaps the inanimate broken 
doll of her childhood, had ever glimpsed it. 

In the end her sweet cajoleries had effect, and after an 
ineffectual attempt to explain away his black mood he 
cheered up. It is not always easy to account for the over- 
whelming sense of approaching evil which a highly strung 
nature can experience. Jackie, whose tears were only for 
the moment, whose optimism would most likely have 
survived the shipwreck of life and hope itself, was never 


intuitive of evil, because she never antidpated anything 
else but good. 

^'Vlan!" she cried as a burst of music suddenly filled 
the street below. "I will dance to cheer you like I dance 
to Sassoni's organ. Mais!" — she was at the window — 
''it is Sassoni himself with his monkey recovered, and his 
wife! And they have a baby, so small, in a basket tied on 
at the side! Dame! I must hold it in my arms. I will go 
to bring them up immediately." 

"Oh, Jackie, don't — " Benny began. 

But Jackie tore dbwnstairs. A few minutes later she 
retiimed with the entire family — Sassoni with his ear- 
rings and imtrustworthy smile, his wife, and the baby, 
whom Jackie had taken proud possession of. 

She lost her head completely over the baby. She had 
never before held one so yoimg and so small in her arms. 
Like most Italian babies this one was really pretty, and 
so helpless and brown. She regaled her guests with cake 
and wine. She explained to Sassoni the circumstances that 
had caused her to play truant. Then she went into fresh 
raptures over the baby. She would have given all the 
dresses in her wardrobe to possess one like it. 

"Oh, le petit poupon!" she cried. "Will you not make 
me a borrow of it to keep for a little while? See, the little 
hands, Benny! Is it not divine? Shall I ever have one — 
im tel mignon? If I ask Merveen would he purchase me 
one, perhaps? " 

Sassoni, draining his glass, pricked up his ears at the 
word "purchase," and his eyes gleamed. Did Jackie wish 
to purchase a child? They might perhaps spare this one. 
It could doubtless be arranged. There were four at home 
already and of a surety more to come. 

But Sassoni's wife quashed any bargaining. 

"The good God $end them!" she ejaculated piously. 


"Pietro, thou wouldst sell thy grandmother for two 
soldi!"' Which was not far from the truth. 

The party left considerably the richer for the meeting. 
Jackie bestowed a silk skirt upon the baby to make it a 
robe, and produced a Liberty shawl to adorn the ample 
shoulders of Sassoni's wife; for the family in general she 
filled a basket with all the good things she could spare 
from her tea-table; last of all she gave Sassoni a pound 
note for himself. Then she stood at the window leaning 
out and blowing kisses to the baby. 

''Is she a princess, that little one?" asked the organ- 
grinder's wife. She knew little English, no French at all, 
and therefore had understood very little of the conversa- 

Sassoni spat. Had she no eyes in her head to recognize 
the nichilitH who had taken the place of his monkey when 
it fell sick and then deserted hirn without notice? What 
she was doing in a palazzo, though, was beyond him. 

'Xome si voglia," said the woman, ''she is good and 
beautiful enough for a princess. This shawl has cost much 
money and this skirt for our bambino is trimmed with 
real lace — maravigUoso I " Gratefully she invoked the 
saints on the donor's behalf. 

Sassoni brought his organ to a standstill before a 

"Where goest thou?" she asked. 

Sassoni did not deign to answer. Wives were meant to 
help drag barrel-organs and bear children, not to ask 

He swung into the post-office and with much licking of 
the stump of a pencil, laboriously wrote out a telegram. 
It was addressed to Bavnnan, Actors' Touring Club, 

Virginia was looking through the morning papers. Her 
name figured in several. She did not court publicity, but 
the great and the unduly rich sometimes find it difficult to 
escape its fierce light. One of the paragraphs described 
the opening of a new wing of a hospital at which she had 
presided; another referred to her presence at the opera in 
the company of certain foreign Royal Highnesses. In this 
her dress and the lustre of the Marlbury pearls were 
described at greater length than the jewels and the 
apparel of the Princess. The comparison was not dis- 
agreeable to Virginia. In the ^' Daily Mail" she read of 
the dress rehearsal of ''Spatch-Cock." It heralded the 
appearance of a new theatrical star, an exceptional dancer 
with a spontaneous style of her own who also showed 
dramatic abilities of a high order. The writer dubbed her 
'^The Soul of Dance." She was French; her name was 
Jacqueline de Brie; she was the discovery of that most 
acute of managers, Mr. A. B. Calderon; it was rumoured 
that her engagement to a certain young American mil- 
lionaire resident in London would shortly be annoimced. 
The latter statement incensed Virginia. She had never 
heard '^the creature's" surname before, but she was sure 
it was Jackie's, the gavroche who polluted Persian carpets 
with cabbages and who had insulted her so outrageously 
in Mervyn's flat. She also took it for granted that Mervyn 
was to blame for the sudden and unexpected publicity 
given to the French girl. Money, of course, could pitch- 
fork a person of no merit into notoriety, especially on the 
stage. She fervently hoped that the notoriety in this case 


would be a brief one. That this "Jackie" — vulgar 
name — could possess any real talent she did not believe. 
Still, she decided she would go and see "Spatch-Cock" 
for herself in spite of her dislike of the frivolities of revue. 
She threw the paper petulantly from her and picked 
up another. A name in the first column of the page at 
which she had opened it caught her eye. She seemed 
fated to-day to come across antipathetic names: 

On the 3Qth uU. at a nursing homCy Olive^ wife of John 
Grandison, R,A. RJ.P. 

Before Virginia's mind could quite grasp the signifi- 
cance of this announcement, she descried the same name 
in another column headed "Honours List": 

Mr. John Grandison, R.A., the eminent portrait fainter ^ 
heads the list of the new Baronetcies. 

A paragraph followed, extolling the recipient's services 
to Art. It was not quite as long as the one allotted to her 
opera dress and the Marlbury pearls, so she almost for- 
gave it. But the concatenation of drcmnstances greatly 
exercised her mind. Grandison imexpectedly a widower 
and a baronet! It meant that if Irene still insisted on 
marrying him she would not be contracting an absolute 
misalliance. The prefix "Honourable" to her married 
title would at least distinguish it from those lavished so 
prodigally on the New Rich. Mercifully, too, Irene had 
not of late been the subject of undue gossip. Her con- 
stant appearances in the company of Mervjoi had re- 
habilitated her reputation in public esteem. If, after 
a decent interval, her wedding with Grandison were 
celebrated in a quiet way at a fashionable church, Vir- 
ginia thought she might reconcile herself to it. After all, 
Grandison through his late wife was connected with 
several noble families and his proficiency as an artist must 


not be lost sight of. Virginia was not exactly a snob; she 
only imposed on herself the defects of qualities derived 
from an exalted alliance. 

Relatively, therefore, she was in a tractable frame of 
mind when Marlbury came into the room. She knew what 
had brought him. Early that morning she had felt it in- 
ciunbent on her to send him a note of complaint. He held 
it in his hand. He ignored her cold invitation to sit down. 
He stood looking rather helplessly at the graceful, cold- 
hearted woman to whom he had given his name. 

Hang it all, why could n't she be human and conform 
to the rules of the married game as played by people in 
their peculiar position? If she refused to be a wife she 
might at least try to be a pal, a companion! As it was, 
they had n't an interest in common. As far as he could 
tell she was insensible to human emotions, had no likes or 
dislikes, no enthusiasms or hobbies. She simply seemed to 
live in order to discharge social functions and to act as 
duenna to Irene, in an age when girls have practically 
dispensed with social supervision. 

"I got your letter," he began awkwardly. "I imder- 
stand your delicacy in writing instead of having — er — 
a wordy wrangle. In a sense, I suppose, you have a right 
to cut up rough." 

"Is this an apology?" she asked. 

"Well, if I 'd known you were lunching at the Ritz with 
friends I certainly shouldn't have taken Tiny — Miss 
Blake to the same restaurant. I have all sorts of faults, 
but to subject you — knowingly — to any unpleasant- 
ness is n't one of them. I'm deuced sorry it occurred." 

"Thank you. It was a regrettable incident. I don't 
want to enlarge on it. But, if you must entertain — 
peculiar people — I hope you will have the consideration 
to select less well-known resorts in future." 


The subject was closed as far as Virginia was concemedi 
but Marlbury had not finished. 

''In case you consider that I owe you an explanation 
about Tiny Blake, I may as well give it now/' he said. 

''I don't think it is necessary. The name is sufficient 
explanation. And now that I have seen the — lady I 
would rather you did not. She is so very obvious." Yu" 
ginia smiled drearily. ''Really, the more disreputable a 
woman is the greater the fascination she seems to have 
for some men. It's very deplorable and very extraor- 
dinary. Even Mervyn, whom I thought so fastidious, has 
not escaped the contagion, it appears." 

Marlbury was not going to be dragged into a side- 
issue. He knew nothing of any lapse of Carter's from the 
path of rectitude. And an3rway Carter was a bachelor. 

"It's not a question of fascination in my case," he 
said. "I'm not an impressionable boy, Virginia. I'm 
sunply a human, middle-aged man who is damned 

"You surprise me," was her supercilious rejoinder. 

Her raised eyebrows and her disdainful smile irritated 

"Do I? Why? I married you for love, or, at any rate, 
for the nearest thing to it that a man not in his fixst youth 
can hope for. I made no concealment of that hope, nor 
of my feelings towards you. What did you marry tne 

She had picked up her pen and was writing at random 
with a dry nib. She did not answer. 

"Did you love me?" 

As she still kept silence Marlbury answered the ques- 
tion for her. 

"Of course you did n't I Moreover, you didn't act 
straight You let me think I might make you care — 


afterwards. I found I'd made a mistake. Since then have 
you ever shown me the slightest affection? " 

"I can't help it if — if I'm imdemonstrative," she 
stammered. "The exhibition of feeling is — vulgar. I've 
no doubt that your notorious friend, Miss Tiny Blake, 
makes up for my deficiencies in that respect." 

"You do yourself an injustice," he retorted with an 
angry flush. " When it comes to a show of fU-feeling, even 
though you have n't an atom of reason for it, you suc- 
ceed only too well. You 're utterly mistaken about Tiny 
Blake. She 's not what you think. In your cold and rigid 
way you disapprove of her and her sort, but you don't see 
that it's you and women like you who drive men to seek 
distraction in their society. A man — any man — wants 
friendship, companionship. Tiny Blake is nothing more 
to me at present than a very decent and loyal little friend. 
I don't love her, but when I want human sympathy — 
when I 'm simply fed up with the life of coldness and re- 
pression that I get in this house — is it surprising that I 
should go where I can find it? Do you realize that for ten 
years, with the exception of my friendship for Tiny — 
and I repeat it has never been anything more than friend- 
ship — I 've been faithful to you? " 

Virginia stopped scribbling. 

"I don't see any particular merit in that," she de- 
dared. "I have also been faithful to you." 

"Then if that's the case," he cried, "why on earth 
can't you behave humanly? Hang it all, I married you 
for love, Virginia. I care for you still. We 're husband and 
wife. I 'm perfectly willing — if you say the word — 
to chuck up my friendship with any one you don't like. 
But I must have something in return. If you can't or 
won't give it, it means we've come to the end of our 


His earnestness did not stir her. 

'^ I don't think I understand you/' she said. 

''You shall. I've said more than once that I hoped we 
might come together again. All these years I Ve stood it 
out — this moral divorce — partly because to end it 
would mean the washing of our dirty linen in public. I bar 
that. But I 've also stood it because I — I wanted you. 
If it had n't been for the war I might have let things rip. 
The war has made a change in me as well as in others. It 
made me see things in a new light — marriage and human 
affections and all that. There were women who broke 
their hearts when their men went I had an idea you 
would n't care if I did n't come back. If you 'd cared 
you 'd have given me an affectionate word or two when I 
got the route. You did n't . . . And out there one had 
time to think, to realize that the only solid thing that 
mattered supremely was love. I dare say that's why so 
many people got married in a hurry. It may have been 
rash, but love's a good enough prize to gamble for . • /' 
He made a despairing gesture. *^ Well, the war 's over, and 
the world 's getting into its stride again. But it's not the 
same stride, Virginia. The thing we 've all learnt — old 
stagers like myself especially — is to make the best of our 
remaining chances — to value love, human love, before 

Not since the days of their early married life had \^- 
ginia known him to talk so feelingly. But those days were 
such a long way off. What he said now sounded like a 

"I really don't see what all this leads up to," she said 

"It leads up to this. I've told you pretty plainly what 
I expect. Wifely affection and companionship. Dash it, 
it is n't more than I have a right to expect. Irene will 


probably be married before long. Let's clear out of this 
and go off for a long cruise together. Just we two." 

"I hate the sea." She shuddered. "You have such 
uncomfortable ideas of pleasiure, Marlbury." 

"You refuse, then?" 

She answered him with another question. 

"What is your alternative? I suppose you have one." 

Her imcompromising insensibility disappointed and 
baulked him. It stiffened his resolution to put an end to 
the impasse. 

"My alternative is quite simple," he said, coldly. 
"It is to take such happiness as I can get in some other 
direction. I don't say it will approach the happiness it's 
in yoiu: power to bestow, but which you refuse to give. I 
must be satisfied with the nearest equivalent, that's all." 

Either she did not or would not take him seriously. 
She consulted the engagement block on her writing-<le^« 
It reminded her that at three-thirty she was to preside at 
the opening of a creche in one of the suburbs, deputizing 
for a Royalty who had failed through illness. She got up. 
It was time to dress for the affair. 

"I don't see that we do the slightest good in going over 
this old ground," she said. "And I have an appointment. 
You 're detaining me. Honestly, Marlbury, I 've nothing 
to say. The war has probably upset your nerves or 
digestion and made you unduly sentimental. I'm quite 
ready to overlook yesterday's unfortunate contretemps at 
the Ritz, and that's as much as you ought to expect." 

Marlbury swung roimd on his heel and left the room. 
Virginia, as scrupulous about an appointment as Royalty 
itself, duly kept hers at the criche. Afterwards she had 
one or two visits to pay and did not get home till it was 
time to dress for dinner. 

Irene was dining with Carter and Grandison, prior to 


going to the first night of "Spatch-Cock" at the Diplo- 
mats'. Virginia found herself alone. Marlbury she sup- 
posed had as usual gone to his club. 

Whilst changing into a dipner gown her mind reverted 
to his overtures of the afternoon. Deep down in her heart 
she was aware of her shortcomings as a wife and comrade. 
Her conscience pricked her somewhat. But the love Marl- 
bury asked for was not in her to give. She had shut the 
gates of feeling on herself ten years or more ago when she 
had turned down Sam, the dod, because he was not 
ambitious . . . But Sam had once kissed her on the lips. 
No man had ever done that smce, not even her husband 
on her wedding <lay. She had only offered him a fragrant 
but indifferent cheek . . . 

Late in the day for regret though it was, it occurred to 
her that she might have been a little less frigid with 
Marlbury. It wouldn't have cost her anything. It 
was n't quite a square deal to give nothing and take so 
much. Very precious to her was her position as the Cotm- 
tess of Marlbury . . . 

She heard the door open and she turned with a half 
smile expecting to see Marlbury back from his dub, eager 
to pursue his persuasions. But it was her maid with a note 
in his handwriting. She opened it, her heart quickening 
its normal, steady beat. 

Marlbury did not waste words. He referred to their 
interview, her irreconcilable attitude, and intimated that 
the circumstances being what they were he had made up 
his mind not to return to her. It offered her certain facili- 
ties for freedom, referred her to his lawyers, and stated 
that by the time she received it the writer would be on his 
way to Paris, not alone. 

She tore the note into tidy, tiny pieces, and sat for a 
long time thinking . « . Then, slowly, with the stateliness 



that was part of her nature, she took off the historic rope 
of pearls which she wore nearly every night of her life. 
Pride would not suffer her to wear them any longer. They 
would now probably pass into the possession of Tiny 
Blake, who to give her her due, which Virginia was in- 
capable of doing, cared not a fig for pearls or any of the 
symbols of position and place, but who loved Marlbury 
to the fullest measure of her plebeian little heart . • . 

SASSONfs telegram, re-wired on from the Actors' Touring 
Club, was engaging Bowman's dose attention. He had 
to exercise considerable ingenuity to decipher it. 

Jake fond u com meat Cobbolds street Soho Thursday to td 
u al five poun plise Sassoni. 

Finally he translated it: 

Jackie found — you come meet [me\ Cobbolds Street^ SokOf 
Tkursday[at]two — teUyouall — five pounds please. Sassoni. 

So the organ-grinding chap had located Jackie at last 
and was ready to divulge her whereabouts directly he got 
the reward. Not before. Five poimds, too! 
' ''Raised me three poimds, have you?" thought Bow- 
man. "You wait a bit, my Dago friend!" 

A day had been lost in transit owing to the fact that the 
wire had first gone to Bardwick where "Dead Men's 
Shoes" was showing for three nights ending yesterday. 
It was Thursday to-day and the time was ten o'dodc. 

Bowman had promised to take Milly Winter for a joy- 
ride into the cotmtry. Without troubling to let her know 
of his change of plan he motored to London instead, hiring 
the car and the chauffeur for the day. With Jackie in 
view he was indifferent to the expense. Moreover, he 
thought he saw a way of making Sassoni pay for it. As a 
showman. Bowman knew all about getting back on the 
swings what he might lose on the roimdabouts. He would 
teach the greasy blighter to blackmail him ! Five poimds 
for just an address? Why, a private detective would n't 
have the face to ask all that! Not that detectives were 
much in Bowman's line. For reasons of his own he had 


an instinctive dislike of the professional sleuth. As for 
Sassoni, when he had served his purpose he could be 
ignored. Greasy foreigners were n't meant to be treated 
straight, did n't expect it, did n't deserve it 

Sitting beside the chauffeur he whistled blithely on his 
way up to town. He felt sure he was at last about to run 
Jackie and Benny to earth and he felt very much as a 
ferret must on approaching a rabbit warren. He promised 
himself good sport, the best of sport. They should squeal, 
those two. As for Milly, silly, faithful little fool, he'd take 
her for her jaimt to-morrow, or maybe tell her to go to 
the devil. He wasn't quite sure which. Sometimes 
her slavish devotion flattered him; at others it merely 

For many weeks now Milly had been living in a fool's 
paradise. Ever since that night walk with Bowman in 
Poole Park her world had blossomed afresh. She had 
been able to overrule her father's objections and cautions 
when she proudly flashed a diamond ring before his eyes, 
and half convinced him it was a sign that Bowman was at 
last about to make reparation for his past treatment of 
her. Not that Winter wanted Milly to marry him. He 
would far rather have seen her the wife of yoimg Measurer. 
But as she seemed bent on throwing herself away on Bow- 
man, it was some faint consolation to believe that he 
meant to act honestly by her in the future. Sometimes, 
in spite of the splencUd ring on her thin finger, he found 
himself mistrustfid of Bowman's intentions, just as some- 
times he even doubted the intrinsic value of the ring it- 
self. The stones were so dead white. They gave out no 
magic lights. 

They were in truth paste of the most specious kind. 
Bowman, in love or otherwise, was not the man to bestow 
genuine jewellery on any woman. The huge solitaire in 


his own ring was a sham, and as he himself could not dis- 
tinguish any difference between the real and the cotmter- 
fdt he assimied that others were equally imenlightened. 
If sham jewellery was good enough for him who could 
have afforded real, it was certainly good enough for a 
cheap little baggage like Milly. 

It happened to be her birthday that day, and the pro- 
posed joy-ride was to have been JBowman's oblation to it. 
As it grew later and neither he nor the car turned up at 
the appointed time, she started for the garage thinking 
that he might be waiting there for her. 

On her way she met George Measurer. She would have 
passed on with a word and a nod, but he stopped her. 
Milly's preference for her burly, bullying manager as 
against this young, dean-living man, who in addition was 
a gentleman, was one of those queer feminine perversions 
which baffle the psychologist and keep the divorce court 
busy. Here was Measurer, pleasant to look on, hon- 
ourable-minded, engaging, attractive, to whom she could 
give nothing beyond a lukewarm liking; whereas Bow- 
man, Heaven knows why or how, had lit a furnace in her 
heart far too fierce for her gentle temperament, one that 
would never go out until it had consumed her. 

^'I was just coming to wish you many happy returns," 
said Measurer. ''And also to tell you that I met the 
guv'nor just now in a car. He shouted that he'd been 
called up to town and asked me to let you know. He says 
he may not be back to-night. His understudy is to take 
his place if he is n't." 

Milly's disappointment was intense. 

" Oh, dear I " she ezdaimed, " and I was looking forward 
to to-day so much! We were going to Barford and on 
through Waveney, and have dinner at an inn. It was to 
have been my birthday present." 


Measurer fdt inadequate and uncomfortable. He took 
it for granted that she was engaged to the guv'nor, and 
that she did n't care a fig for himself. With diffidence he 
offered himself as a substitute. She could still have her 
drive. He 'd love to take her if she would come. Milly 
hesitated. Bowman was always trampling on her sensibil- 
ities. It made her wish to avoid hurting those of others. 
But when Measurer shyly presented her with a little gold 
heart with a pearl in its centre on a slender chain, she felt 
it would be horribly imkind to refuse. 

Swallowing her disappointment she thanked him for the 
pretty trinket and said that she would like to come. They 
went on to the garage together. 

Measurer hired a side-car. It was small and it was 
cheap, but it had its advantages. Unlike Bowman he 
could drive, and it permitted them to take their little 
excursion without a chauffeur. The swift movement 
through fresh air brought the colour back into Milly's 
cheeks. Her drooping spirits revived. After all it was her 
birthday. And it was awfully good of George (it had been 
George and Milly with them not so long ago) to give her 
such a treat. She enjoyed herself far more than she had 
expected. Indeed, every now and then she forgot Bow- 
man altogether. George was good company. Besides, he 
was — or had been — in love with her. Just for a little, 
for to-day only, the thousand and one little attentions 
which he paid her were very gratifying, if only in con- 
trast with Bill's cavalier manner. 

The only occurrence that marred an otherwise pleasant 
day was an accident that happened to her ring. On their 
way home she noticed that one of the stones was missing. 
Apparently it had dropped out. 

'^ Whatever will Bill say?" she exclaimed in discomfi- 
ture. "And it's so unlucky tool" 


Measurer glanced down at the ring and then up at her 
anxious face. 

"Would you like to stop at a jeweller's in Waveney 
and have a stone put in?" he enquired. 

''But a diamond that size would cost pounds and 

''Well, just as you like. I don't know much about the 
price of rings, MiUy. I might have, perhaps, if you 'd only 
given me a chance." 

They stopped at a jeweller's on the way home, at 
Mill/s request. 

" I may as well find out what it will cost to have another 
stone put in," she said. "Come in and advise me." 

In the shop Milly held out her hand to the jeweller. 

"What would it cost to have a paste diamond put in 
here, please? " she enquired. "Would it look very notice- 
able amongst the other stones? " 

"It wouldn't be noticeable at all, miss," was the 
prompt reply. "ilS these stones are paste. To replace 
the missing one would cost you about five shillings. 
Hardly worth while, considering the ring can't have cost 
more than seven-and-siz." 

'' Oh, but you 're making a dreadful mistake I " she cried 
indignantly. "They're real diamonds. It's— 'it's an 
engagement ring." 

Evidently the shopman had got beyond the age of ro- 
mance or he might have let Milly down more lightly. 
He put the ring on the coimter. 

"All the same it's a dud, miss. That's all I've got to 
say about it. That little heart you're wearing is worth 
twenty times more than the ring, because it's real." 

Milly, utterly discomfited, picked up her ring and left 
the shop. She did not put it on her finger again. Meas- 
urer drove away in silence. The sad expression on her face 


hurt him dreadfully. Not until they were nearly home 
did he speak. 

"Milly/' he said. 

She turned her head. 

^' About that ring. Are you upset because it's not 
genuine? " 

''Mr. Bowman must have been taken in, of course/' 
she said with quivering lips. "He wouldn't give me 
imitation jewellery." 

Measurer took his courage in his hands. 

"Suppose he has? Do you intend asking him?" 

Her reply, made as they came to a stop before her 
lodgings, sounded the death-knell of his hopes. 

"Yes, of course I shall . . . But it can't alter an3rthing. 
My love is real . . . Thank you ever so much for to-day. 
I have enjoyed it all. Really I have." 

After all, her meed of thanks was something. But he 
was sorry about the ring. If it made her happier to be- 
lieve in Bowman's good faith, which he had learnt to 
question, he could only hope — for her sake — that she 
might never have cause to regret it* 

Bowman did not return by the late afternoon train. 
Indeed, he stayed in London overnight. Developments of 
a highly interesting nature kept him there. The scent was 
good. He 'd picked it up, or rather Sassoni had for him. 
At two o'clock he met the Italian at the appointed place. 

Sassoni approached wreathed in smiles. He duly noted 
Bowman's hired car and prosperous appearance. The 
signor doubtless was rich — moUo optdenio. He had been 
foolish to ask so little as five pounds, although he well 
knew he had only been promised two. An extortionate 
cupidity provoked him, as with much scraping and rub- 
bing of hands he informed Bowman of his meeting with 


Jackie. Oh, yes, he had her address, a veritable palasszo. 
He had been inside it. He had talked much with her. She 
was to appear that very night at a London theatre. He 
mangled the name of it. 

"Sure it's the right girl?" asked Bowman. 

"Ah, certo! Assolutamente!" 

"Was there a cripple anywhere about? They'd be sure 
to be together." 

Yes, on the couch there had lain a pale-faced boy, 
doubtless with a crooked back. Sassoni had hardly 
noticed Benny, but he would have sworn to a giraffe in the 
room or confirmed any other evidence that Bowman might 
have shown a desire for. 

"Well, then, what's the address? Spit it out." 

Sassoni held out a dirty hand. 

Bowman waved it away. 

"Not so fast, monkey-face. Think I'm going to buy a 
pig in a poke? Not much!" 

"You pay me — straight, if I tell it?" asked Sassoni 

" Straight 's the word. That 's me every time." 

Sassoni stroked an imshaven chin thoughtfully. Then, 
like one imder compulsion, and again with his hand out, 
he divulged the street and the nmnber. 

Bowman made a note of it, then shook his head at the 
outspread fingers. 

"First I've got to verify this address. If it's all right 
— not a sell — you shall have your five quid." To him- 
self he added, "I don't thinki" 

Sassoni ejaculated something full of ire in Italian. 

"You keep your temper, Mr. Barrel-organo, or you 
may n't get anything at all. I '11 meet you again on this 
spot to-night at six. Savvy?" 

Sassoni, again under compulsion, savvied. He made 



one more attempt to get his money down, the reward 
which he considered he had justly earned. Bowman 
merely repeated the hour of meeting, climbed into his 
car and drove off, leaving Sassoni looking after him out of 
pessimistic eyes. 

At six, minus his barrel-organ, he was back at the 
trysting place. At seven he was still there. At eight. 
By that time he had arrived at the cold conviction that he 
who would have sold his grandmother for two soldi, had 
himself been sold . . . duped . . . 

His swarthy countenance was convulsed with rage. 
His eyes gleamed evilly. His lean, brown hand with its 
curving, acquisitive fingers thrust itself iato the sash 
around his waist, feeling for something that always lay 
there. And his lips mutely registered a vow — the "I- 
will-repay" of his race. 

A FEW minutes before the curtain was rung up on the 
first night of ''Spatch-Cock" Calderon bustled into Jack- 
ie's dressing-room. She was ready; she looked quite com- 

"Not nervous? That's right. There's Kitty Johnson 
throwing hysterical fits in No. 5, and she's only got two 
lines to speak. I'll cut 'em. Look here, Jackie, I take it 
you know that the success of the show depends more or 
less on you. Tester can't go wrong; but a man's part has 
never yet been written that '11 carry a piece through by 
itself. If you do the trick to-night you shall have a hun- 
dred poimds a week. Does that fire you to make good, eh, 

"More money is alwa)^ good," answered Jackie. 
" But it is not possible to make an artiste a success by the 
o£fer of it. If I am artiste I cannot hide it, and if I am not 
I will make a failure. But I will not make a failure," she 
asserted, cheerfully. " I have not made a failure on all the 
days I rehearse, so why should I do so now? I could not 
be afraid of the numbers of people. Why should they not 
all be my friends? " 

It was with this childish faith that she made her first 
appearance before that most critical of assemblies, a 
fixst-night London audience. 

Calderon might have spared himself his eleventh-hour 
qualms. From the moment she faced the footlights she 
was another being, the Mariette of the play and the au- 
thor's conception of the character. She got into the skin 
of the part from the very beginning. It was all so real to 
her that she made it real to the packed house, from its 


gods in the gallery to its critics in the stalls, to her dear 
Merveen and Irene in a private box, watching her with 
their hearts in their mouths. She made more than a good 
impression: she appealed to the theatreful of people as 
irresistibly as she had done to Audagna and Calderon in 
the practice-room. 

Calderon had been careful to excise a munber of ques- 
tionable Unes and dubious jokes which had been inserted 
for Jackie's predecessor. Now the part was bright and 
wholesome. Jackie's artlessness gave point to every word 
of it Her silvery voice invested it with peculiar charm; 
her piquant accent gave it unexpected meaning. 

In the first act she was a child — a dancing child — 
in love with life, a butterfly of a thing. She fluttered 
about the stage on twinkling feet, soared in spirit across 
the footlights and into the hearts of her audience. Each 
time they applauded her Calderon saw his imder-part in- 
vestment going to a giddy premiiun. 

But her real test came in the second act. Ten years 
were supposed to have elapsed. The child had become a 
woman. Jackie had to express in dancing the joy of love, 
and later the despair of love believing itself forsaken. 
She succeeded beyond all belief. What she could not know 
from experience imagination and temperament informed 
her. Her pantomime was as graceful as it was expressive: 
she coidd captivate with a glance or wring the heart with a 
gesture. In the later scenes she lifted the revue on to a 
plane where cheap hmnour, catch-phrase, and all the 
other stunts of the variety stage, had no place. The house 
marvelled and admired. To see one so young, so fairy- 
like, so unknown, and yet so unafraid, flitting to and fro 
like a leaf blown by the wind, depicting first the ecstasies 
of pleasure and then the torments of despair, compelled 
their wonder. During the past fortnight she had pro- 


gressed astonishingly in technique. Audagna had seen to 
that. Nearly all her waking moments had been dancing 
ones. This was the residt. 

When the last curtain descended Calderon, waiting in 
the wings, gave her a joyful hug. He simply could n't 
help it. Audagna was there too, with tears of pleasure 
brimming his old eyes. A muffled clamour came through 
the curtain, iacreasing every moment. 

"You blessed kid!" cried Calderon. "They're ready 
to eat you! Come on! Come on and let 'em see you! 
Splendid little winner!" 

He took her hand and pulled her before the audience. 
It was not in Jackie to bow conventional thanks. She 
held out her hands in dumb gesture, very Gallic, that em- 
braced the whole house. Down swished the curtains. 
Continuous applause sent them up again. And Jackie 
stood there, a small, slight girl on a huge stage. Calderon 
had retreated. This time her voice was heard, piping, 

"Oh, I do so love you all. Thank you for loving Jackie." 

They let her go at last, her triimiph complete. In her 
dressing-room, a little dazed by her success, she had to 
hold a court. Everybody wanted to kiss her — Calderon, 
Audagna, Tracey the comedian, principal ladies and 
ladies of the chorus with whom principle gave way to 
grace. For once there was an absence of professional 
jealousy — a rare thing and a strange. Who could be 
jealous of Jackie with the childlike, golden heart? In re- 
turn she hugged and kissed everybody exuberantly. 
Truly she felt that she was the little friend of all the world. 
To-morrow her name would be in coloured electric Ughts 
across the front of the theatre. A more wonderful thing 
this to her than a hundred potmds a week. 

It was a great moment, too, when Carter, accompanied 


by Irene and Grandison, came to fetch her away. There 
was to be a little supper at Carter's flat before she went 
home to bed. She was terribly tired. She fell asleep quite 
suddenly at the supper-table. Carter lifted her on to a 
couch. When she awoke Grandison had gone. Irene was 
putting on her cloak in the adjoining room. 

Carter was sitting by her side watching her. She had 
been smiling so happily in her sleep. But just before she 
opened her eyes she flinched as though something had 
hurt her. She sat up with a little cry. 

"Nightmare, Jackie?" he asked with a laugh. "Come 
along, Uttle sleepy-head. It's time to go home." 

Jackie rubbed her eyes. 

"Oh, I wish that I had not slept!" she exclaimed. 
"It was a bad dream, Merveen. I was on the stage again, 
but not in ' Spatch-Cock.' I was standing and waiting for 
that bad Bowman to lasso me with his stock-whip of 
which I have told you. It whistle round my throat and 
then it catch me. And he pull me nearer, nearer, like a 
fish on a hook." 

She gave herself a shake to rid herself of the unpleasant 

"Lobster salad isn't good for little girls at twelve 
o'clock at night," he said with a laugh. 

Irene came back into the room. 

"Come along, you wonderful Jackie!" she cried. 
" Mervyn is going to drop me at my house before he takes 
you home." 

Five minutes later, when Irene on her doorstep had 
called her last "good night," and the couple were alone in 
the car Carter took Jackie's hand and drew it through his 

"Happy, dear little girl?" he asked. "Your star is 
shining bright to-night." 


Jackie snuggled against him. 

''Are you gratified that I am a success, Merveen?" she 

"Stupendously gratified! Isn't it what youVe set 
j^ur heart on?" After a momentary pause he said, more 
to himself than to her: ''It can't alter what I feel for 

"What is it that you feel for me?" she murmured, 

"I'U tell you one day, perhaps — when you're tired of 

"But I shall never be tired of dancing, Merveen. Tell 
me now." 

"You 're too yoimg, dear. You would n't understand." 

He had to fight down the temptation to take her into 
his arms and tell her of the love and yearning he had for 
her. To make such a demand on her feelings at a moment 
like this when she must be intoxicated by success would 
be unchivalrous. He wanted to be just — fair. She was 
so young. He was the only man she yet knew. Her feel- 
ings towards him were biassed by gratitude. She was 
entitled to look round first, to exercise her heart's choice. 
Her next words seemed to give proof of this — a proof of 
her purely childish regard for him and her absolute igno- 
rance of the particular quality of his own. 

"You will always love me, please, Merveen?" 

"I guess so." 

"Even when I am married?" 

"Even when you are married. But you have n't fallen 
in love, have you? You won't do that without telling me 
first?" A great anxiety inspired the last words. 

She lifted his hand and, kitten-like, rubbed her cheek 
against it 

"I love everybody," she said. "But most of all you. 


Even more than my dear Benny. I do not think I shall 
love a husband more than I love you." 

The car stopped. They had reached her flat. 

Mervyn crushed her little hand in his. He dared not 
speak; he was afraid to accompany her upstairs, lest he 
should be unable to resist the mighty impulses that agi- 
tated him. After that last sweet confession it was hard to 
let her go. But he did. 

Jackie went up in the lift. The housekeeper whom 
Irene had engaged would be in bed. She had been told 
not to wait up. Why, therefore, were the lights in the 
little drawing-room not out? Through the half-opened 
door she could see that they were full on. The fmnes of a 
bad cigar reached her. 

As she pushed open the door. Bowman, who had been 
lying on the sofa, his dirty boots soiling the dainty 
chintz, got up and lurched towards her. 

Jackie shrank back in alarm. 

"HuUo, Jackie," he said with an evil grin, "I've been 
waiting for you. Are n't you going to say you 're glad to 
see me?" 

Whujs he waited for Jackie, Bowman took careful stock of 
her flat. A snug crib this! He knew the sort of rents that 
were being paid for flats in London and he reckoned this 
one — he assumed she had taken it furnished — to be 
costing her, or whoever it was who paid for it, something 
like ten guineas a week. She must be feathering her nest 
with a vengeance I He must have a finger in that pie. He 
wondered what her salary at the Diplomats' could be. 
He was consumed with curiosity. How in thimder had 
she arrived at the leading part in a London revue? He 
had spent the evening witnessing her performance and her 
success. Her success didn't surprise him very much. 
Had n't he prophesied it? What enraged him was that she 
should have won it without his assistance. He felt he'd 
been had. Somebody else was going to profit by her 

Unless he could prevent it! By God, he could and he 
would! He'd got a hold over her and he'd use it. That 
was the game to play ... It was n't too late. He saw 
himself exploiting her. He saw her a public favourite, 
paragraphed, photographed, courted, fussed over, "all 
the go" — and himself in the background pulling the 
strings, putting up her salary, living on it in luxury! If 
she could afford a flat Uke this now, what would n't she 
be able to afford later on? ... It would mean, too, that he 
could chuck up provincial management and life in coun- 
try pubs. He 'd be in town, in the swim. He'd get put up 
for the Eccentric Club, perhaps even the Green Room. 
The prospect carried him to still giddier heights. With 
Jackie a London star, rolling in money, why should n't 


he be one as well? Like every provincial actor he had the 
afnbition to strut upon a London stage. He was experi- 
enced, he knew the business backwards, vanity assured 
him that he could " wipe the floor " with half these leading 
men who topped the bill! By thunder, he'd do it! He'd 
go into London management, star himself, have a leading 
lady of his own and make a reputation for himself in 
serious drama! 

These expansive thoughts made him reconsider what 
he had originally planned to do. It had been his intention 
to spirit Benny away while Jackie was at the theatre and 
then return to deal with her. But Benny, as he had dis- 
covered after a systematic search of the flat, was not there. 
To make sure, he had gone into Jackie's bedroom, looked 
under the bed, even in the wardrobe. 

In that room he had lingered, taking note of its pretty 
furnishings, the evidences of prosperity. He had never 
before seen such a bedroom. He looked imcomprehend- 
ingly at a carved, gilt prie-dieu and a flower-decked 
shrine on which stood the Virgin and several saints illu- 
minated by a silver lamp. (These were presents from 
Carter.) They brought a sardonic expression into his face. 
He had no use for religion; he never invoked the name of 
his Creator except as an expletive. He was totally lack- 
ing in reverence of any description. He saw no poetry, no 
lovely thought, in this silent revelation of the innate piety 
of Jackie's soul. 

He returned to the drawing-room, made another round 
of it, this time in search of something to drink, but finding 
only water and a bottle of lemon squash, had recourse to 
a flask in his pocket. Then he threw himself on to the 
couch, punched a Rose-du-Barry pouffe into shape for his 
greasy head, lit an acrid-smelling cigar, and waited. 

The longer he waited the more he looked forward to 


the approaching encounter. He had n't quite made up 
his mind exactly how he was going to put the screw on 
Jackie. All he knew was that he'd make her pay. He'd 
frighten the soul out of her. That was his paramount 
idea — to scare her; to make her life a misery; to use her 
how and when he pleased. His mental attitude towards 
her was Hunnish. It had always given him intense 
pleasure to hurt an3rthing helpless, animal or human. 
This was his motive for wanting to get hold of Benny. 
He wanted him in order to maltreat him. Through Benny 
he could make Jackie's life a special little hell. It was 
his idea of sport. 

Her wonderfully successful performance at the theatre 
only whetted his cruel appetite. It gave him an unholy 
pleasure to know that he had her in his power. He ex- 
pected her to put up a fight. She would n't be Jackie 
if she didn't. That would give additional zest to the 

Jackie's sensation when she came in to find him there 
was one of consternation. She was so entirely unpre- 
pared for his appearance. She came to a tense stop, gave 
a gasp, and then turned to rush from the room with the 
frenzied notion of calling Carter, who by this time was 
half a mile away. 

Bowman made a jmnp and caught hold of her. 

"No, you don't!" he said. "Got to stop, my little 
pet, now you're here. We've a lot to talk about." He 
drew her close to him. "Are n't you going to give me a 
kiss and say how glad you are to see me?" 

At that her cold panic changed to hot anger. Exer- 
cising all her strength she got free and struck him in the 
face with her open hand. 

"Sale b6te!" she panted. "Do that again and I call 
the police. How have you come into my flat at night like a 


thief? It is a importunitfi — • a — a — grossi^t6! Are 
you mad?" 

"Not a bit of it! Night's the best time for our business 
— with a little love and kisses thrown in and a slice of 
hate for spice. Thieves don't come in the way I did. I just 
nmg the bell, same as any visitor might, and a servant 
let me in." He stopped to grin. " When I said I was your 
fianc£, of course she told me to make myself comfortable, 
and I told her to toddle off to bed. You would n't have 
the heart to wake the poor old woman up, would you? 
As for the police you can call them in if you like. I should 
have a nice little story to tell them. I should have thought 
you'd prefer to throw yourself on my loving kindness 
rather than want their protection, seeing what 's between 
you and me." 

His domineering voice and his reference to the police 
kept her silent. 

"Come now," he continued; "let's get to cues. First 
of all, Where's that knife, and second, where 's Benny?" 

Jackie stood against the wall, near the door. She was 
terrorized. Not on her own account. Had it not been for 
Benny she would have dared him to do his worst. Never 
should he lay hands again upon her dear Benny. She 
would imdergo the rack rather than give him up. 

" I have not Benny here," she replied. " You can search 
if you wish. And I will never tell you where he is." De- 
termination brought her courage back. "Do you think I 
would render him to you who have broke his poor back? 
You can break me first, but you will not make me intimi- 
date enough for that." 

Bowman laughed derisively, dropped on to the couch, 
and puffed coolly at his noxious weed. 

"I don't think you savvy the laws of this coimtry," 
he observed with a shrug. "You can drop your blessed 


ranting. You 're not on the stage now, my girl. Benny is 
my lawful property. I'm his guardian until he's twenty- 
one. Until then I can bally well do what I Uke with him. 

She had to believe him. Respect for the law, of which 
she knew absolutely nothing, daunted her. But it made 
her all the more resolute to lie and scheme or bribe — 
anything, everything — to keep Benny from his clutches. 

''And the person who conceals him," Bowman pro- 
ceeded, implacably, ''can get into hot water. You talk 
about the police! Why, if I liked to call them in they 
could ffiake you tell me where he is. I'd have him back 
to-morrow! That's the English law." 

"Then why did you not go to the police in the begin- 
ning?" she had the wit to retort. 

"Why, simply because of my kind heart, my pet! I 
thought I 'd give you a chance to own up first. It would 
be rather a pity to have the police accusing you of trying 
to murder me and then giving me the go-by with Beimy, 
would n't it? Especially now you 've made a hit on the 
stage. I suppose you 'U be denying next that you knifed 
me in the dark, outside the summer-house with the 
poisoned dagger that you're hiding to this day." 

The look of absolute repudiation that had come into 
her face brought him to a stop. 

''DidnH you do it?" he demanded. "If you didn't 
who the — " He broke off, staring at her suspiciously. 
Then suddenly light dawned on him, explaining the 
reason why she might have taken it into her head to run 
away with Benny instead of alone. If she had n't knifed 
him herself, then Beimy had, and she was shielding him. 
He wondered why he had n't thought of it before. 

"Of course," was his reservation, "when I say you did 
it, I mean Benny just as much. More likely to be him 


following me in the dark. He could look slippy enough 
whenheUked. Most of his pain was make-believe. How- 
ever, whichever way it is it 's black for you and black for 
him. I can have him put in quod and you as well as 
accessory after the fact." 

The legal phrase completed Jackie's discomfiture. The 
threat it conveyed woiild have frightened a child, and 
because in effect she was one it sounded convincing 
enough to her. She had a lurid vision of Benny in a cold, 
dark cell, breaking his heart in prison, dying there, his 
chance of a cure gone for ever. She imagined herself 
locked up in another prison, powerless to help him. And 
even if this sale hiie did not have them arrested, he could 
stQl claim Benny and carry him off. Benny's misgivings 
had not been unfounded after all. If Bowman could find 
her so easily, it was too much to expect that Benny could 
escape him. They were both cornered. 

It passed through her mind that she might appeal to 
Carter for protection; but even he, any more than her- 
self, was not above the law. He could not keep Benny 
from his legal guardian. Besides, it would mean dis- 
closing Benny's guilt, an impossible thing to do. 

There was not a trace of self-preservation in her racing 
thoughts. She thought of nothing but the awful fact that 
this man was about to wrest Benny from her, to wreak his 
vengeance upon the hapless, helpless boy. 

She fell on her knees. She pleaded wildly, incoherently. 
She forgot all her English and poured out streams of 

Bowman, reclining like a Sultan on the couch, watched 
her out of sordid eyes. It gave him a joyful sensation to 
see stubborn Jackie on her knees. He had bent her before 
breaking her. It was a happy omen. 

"I will tell you all, everything," she finished piteously. 


^'Except where Benny is. He has gone to be made better. 
His back will be mended. Have you the heart of a devil 
that you cannot leave him in peace? Ask of me anything 
and I will give it to you if you make a promise to abandon 
search of him." 

Bowman sat up and pitched the stump of his cigar into 
the grate. 

"Ah," he said, "now we're talking sense. . . . Suppose 
I was in the mind to let you down easy. First what have 
you got to give? Shall we say a hundred poimds — in 
notes, and a kiss to show there 's no ill-feeling? " 

She thought she detected a more lenient note in his 
voice. If all he wanted was money it would be policy to 

"A hundred pounds?" She pretended amazement. 
"But where should I obtain such a sum? Do you think I 
am made of a million? " 

"Not you, personally," he answered, with a knowing 
wink. "But judging by all this" — he waved his hand 
with the false diamond glittering on it — "and your fine 
clothes, I'm ready to bet that you're on good terms with 
some bloke who is. Should n't be surprised if it was that 
mounseer you were in such a stew to meet the day I first 
saw you. Well, you've improved the shining hours, and 
yourself too, since I saw you last, my dear. I don't mind 
admitting you 're an absolute peach to look at. Not quite 
ripe yet, p'r'aps, but when you are ..." He smacked his 
lips gluttonously. 

"Will you make me an undertaking not to take away 
my Benny — my ch6ri?" she reiterated. 

"And if I won't?" 

She was on her feet now, her teeth clenched, her face 

"I will 'ate you for the rest of my lifel" she cried 


passionately. "But for Benny I would truly tell you to 
take yourself away to the de^ ! Do you think I fear you 
for myself? I would snap my fingers at you — so! But 
Benny! If it was known to him that you come to steal 
him away I am sure he would die. It would be better 
that he should die." 

"I dare say," he said heedlessly. This crazy anxiety 
for Benny was going to be of advantage to him. Through 
Benny he could work on her fears, make her pay. He 
wondered what her salary was. She'd broken her con- 
tract with him, done him out of her services. Why 
should n't he take his due of her salary. She could n't be 
getting less than twenty pounds a week. 

"What are you getting at the Diplomats'?" he en- 

"One hundred pounds a week." It was said in an in- 
different voice. She was thinking of other things. 


Hardly noticing his astonishment she said: 

"You will not change your mind about Benny, then? 

Bowman appeared to consider. 

"I won't bind myself to any hard-and-fast promises. 
You can't get over me by floppin' on your knees and 
puUin' out the vibrato stop. Nor yet by thinking you can 
get round my soft side. I have n't got one.# I '11 tell you 
my terms and you can take 'em or leave 'em. It 's as you 
like. If you don't like, well, then, the band '11 begin to 
play. First, instead of one hundred poimds I want five 
himdred poimds — indemnity. You can easily afford 
that out of a hundred a week! I '11 give you three days to 
get it. I shan't be able to run up to town again before then. 
Second, I intend to drop in here whenever the fit takes 
me. Third, if I feel like kissing you I mean to, and if, 
on the other hand, I feel like giving you a taste of what 



your 'cheery' Benny's had I'll do that too. Is that 

Only too clear ! She saw that she would have to buy him 
off. There was no other way. She drew her little figure up 
and tried to speak with dignity and self-command. 

"I accept your beastly price," she said. "If you will 
come again on an evening next week I will obtain you the 
money. Now will you go? I am fatigue." 

Indeed, what with physical weakness and emotional 
stress, she was almost in a state of collapse. 

Bowman got up. 

"Yes, I'll go in a minute." He went up to her. "Now 
don't you shrink away, and don't you hit out either. Put 
your hands out." 

He took hold of them and while he leered down at her 
began exercising a gradual pressure on her fingers until 
she had to set her lips and teeth to prevent herself crying 
out with the pain. 

"God!" he said. "You've got tiny bones. I could 
crunch you into little bits." 

He let go with a laugh. Then he caught her to him, 
jerked up her face, held it so that her struggles were of no 
avail, and kissed her savagely on the lips. 

When she was free of him she turned and fled into her 
bedroom, locking the door. 

She heard him call out, " Saturday night — same time," 
and then the flat door slammed. 

She flung herself on her bed, beating the pillows, 
sobbing tempestuously, biting her desecrated lips until 
they bled. 

Her star, high in the heavens, shone in through the 
window, twinkling down upon her. But to-night she had 
no eyes for it. The light before her shrine burned dim. . . . 


Benny's bedroom at the nursing home was filled with 
flowers. Jackie had brought them. His bed was heaped 
with daily papers. He had been reading the press notices 
of her performance. 

Jackie sat by his side. She had not slept a wink all 
night. There were dark circles under her eyes and her 
little face was pale. 

Beimy turned to her, scanning her with eyes of love. 
Judging by the papers, all of which eulogized her, she 
should have been in the highest spirits. Had success 
turned her head, taken the sparkle from her eyes, the 
gay words from her lips, the vivacity from her expression? 
Benny could n't make it out. Her quietness was incom- 

"All thesenotices aresplendid," hesaid. ** Of course you 
were bound to make a success. We all knew that. Why 
are n't you mad with joy, Jackie? Has something gpne 
wrong? Are you imhappy about anything? " 

She forced her lips inio a smile. 

"But no, ch6ri. Have you ever know me not happy? 
Perhaps I am fatigued. I could not sleep last night from 
— from excitement." 

Some of the sparkle came back into her face as she 
recounted her happy triumph of the night before. Benny 
hung on her words. 

"And Mr. Calderon is so Ratified that I am to receive 
a hundred pounds a week," she said. " Oh, Benny, make 
haste and get well. Then you can come back and we will 
go for a holiday together, perhaps to Paris." 


What could she mean? Why should she be thinking of 
going away in the very hour of her triumph? She loved 
London. She disUked the idea of leaving it at any time. 
She was always saying so. 

"What did you do after the show?" he asked. 

"We had a little supper at Merveen's, the Lady Tiene 
and Monsieur Grandison and myself. I fell asleep. 
Afterwards Merveen took me home in his car." 

"Did n't he go up with you?" 


"Then you went straight to bed?" 

"I went to bed, but I could not sleep. Why do you ask 
so many questions? " 

" Because you're diflferent. You don't seem yourself at 
all. I'd swear you have something on your mind." 

Jackie stared in front of her. 

"I had a dream that disturb me," she said slowly. "A 
dream like you yourself had but the other day. I dream 
that Bowman come. I dream that he make threats and 
search for you. It was a cauchemar — what you call 

Benny leant forward. 

"You dreamt he came back? Jackie, you srvear it was 
only a dream? " 

She saw how he trembled. That decided her. He was 
not fit to be told the truth. 

"But naturally it was only a dream," she declared. 
"Only it has make me dull — in the dump. You remem- 
ber that you were inquiet for the same reason." 

"Yes, I know. But I 've shaken it off . Somehow I've 
felt safe here. I suppose it's because of my chance of 
getting well." 

Jackie was pursuing her own thoughts. 

"Would you give me permission to make a breast of it 


to Merveen?" she asked. "Would you not feel more 
protected if he knew altogether the truth?" 

"You mean about my trying to kill Bowman in my 
sleep?" he asked in an imdertone. "No, don't do that, 
Jackie. He might not understand. I — I could n't bear 
him to know. He would n't be friends with me if he did. 
Promise me you won't say a word. How could I expect 
any one to believe I did it in a dream?" 

"But we are as children," she argued. "Merveen is a 
man, and he has made himself our friend and protector. 
Ought we not to tell him altogether, everything? " 

"It's my secret," Benny answered with a touch of 
stubbornness. "You promised you'd never let on to a 
living soul. . • . Besides, you don't know for certain that 
I did do it. We've no proof. Oh, Jackie, if you make me 
worry, I shan't get better so quickly. The operation is on 
Monday. I want all my nerve for that." 

Jackie bent and kissed him. 

"But of course you are not to worry," she said gently. 
"We will not speak of bad things any more at all. And 
my dream I will shake away." 

"And you 11 promise never to breathe a word to Mr. 

She promised, though she found it hard. Her instincts, 
had she been free to follow them, would have been to pour 
out the whole of her anxieties to Carter. Indeed, it was 
not easy for a creature of her temperament to keep a 
secret. Characteristically she was so unreserved. But 
where her honour was involved, as in the present case, 
tortures would not have made her disclose his secret. 
Her pledge to keep it made everything all the mote diffi- 
cult for her now. 

She had three days in which to produce the five hun- 
dred pounds. A latent business instinct would not let her 

JACKIE 1 85 

ask Calderon for a five weeks' advance of salary. He 
might refuse. If he acceded it would place her under an 
obligation to him. He was only her theatrical manager, 
not a personal friend. Her pride jibbed at asking favours 
of one who was little more than a stranger. There re- 
mained only Carter to whom she could go. 

And to Carter she went, telephoning first to his flat 
to make sure that he would be at home. 

Like Benny, he noticed her pallor and preoccupied air 
and remarked on it. 

"It is true that I am 6tourdie/' she admitted. "Mer- 
veen, if I demand the favour of a request would you be 
contented not to ask why I make it? " 

''Well, I'm not a particularly curious person that I 
know of," said he. ''Ask away, Jackie dear, and if it's the 
half of my kingdom you shall have it." 

"It is money that I ask for. Would you have the good- 
ness to make me the loan of five 'undred pounds?" 

The request took him aback. It was not the amoimt 
that mattered. What could unmercenary, frugal-minded 
Jackie want with such a stun? 

" Five hundred poimds? " he repeated. " Of course you 
can have it with the greatest of pleasure. But — what on 
earth do you want it for?" 

"A minute ago you promise not to ask." 

"Sorry. I forgot." He got out his cheque-book and 
picked up a pen. "It's not for yourself?" he ventured. 

Jackie's eyes sought the carpet. 

"Then it must be to give away. ... A charity?" 

She lifted her eyes, troubled, but clear and truthful. 

"But yes, it is to give away. You would say with rea- 
son. But if because I cannot explain you do not like to 
lend me so much, my heart will be so heavy that it will 
weigh down my feet. I will tell you just a little more. Itb 


to keep a person who is a great sufferer out of prison* 
Perhaps to save a life/' 

"You mean you want it as surety for some one — some 
friend youVe never told me about? You're bothered 
about something, Jackie. Why not tell me what it is and 
let me advise you?" 

Jackie set her lips. 

"Merveen, I cannot say more/' she faltered. "Is it 
that I ask too much? " 

"Of coiu-se not. I'll write you a cheque right now." 

He picked up the pen again. She stopped him. 

"Merveen, I do not want a cheque. I want billets de 
banque — notes." 

"Then I shall have to take you round to my bank. 
We'll go before tea. Now will you smile again and let me 
see my joyous little Jackie once more? " 

She did her best, but the smile was a feeble one. 

"Say that you trust "me, Merveen," she entreated. 
"Say that you do not think I am an avaricious one. I 
could not bear for you to think so, or that you should have 
any doubt of your Jackie." 

"I'd trust you with my life and my soul and eversrthing 
on earth I possess," he assured her solemnly. "I'd trust 
you always and everywhere. You must know that, little 
friend. And how could I possibly think you avaricious? 
It would be laughable!" 

Jackie gave him an adoring look and said : 

" Merveen, I am triste to-day. Would you take me 
in your embrace and kiss me, please? " 

Carter's endurance was not proof against this second 
assault on his emotions within a few hours. 

"If I take you in my arms, Jackie," he said huskily, " I 
might n't ever be able to let you go again . . . Can't you 
guess why? Oh, my dear little girl, I love you. I did n't 


mean to tell you yet awhile, but I can't keep it in any 
longer. I think I loved you from the day when I first set 
eyes on you dancing in the street. I know for certain that 
I loved you when you turned up so providentially out- 
side Virginia's house. I don't dare tell you how many 
times I've been to the bureau over there where I keep 
your old dancing dress, to look at it and think of you ... I 
love you for the queer, dear little creature you were and 
the wonderful, beautiful woman you've grown into. I'm 
not boasting — it 's the literal truth that there has only 
been one woman in my life of whom you might be jealous. 
And she was my mother. I believe that's why I love 
you so devotedly." 

While she listened wave on wave of informing expres- 
sion passed over Jackie's speaking face in quick succes- 
sion — amazement, incredulity, gladness, rapture. In the 
joy and wonder of finding herself beloved by the man to 
whom she had without knowing it already given her 
heart, her nightmare encoimter with Bowman, even his 
noxious existence, was forgotten. All she could think of 
was love — her Merveen's love. Her child's heart could 
hardly grasp its meaning: her woman's heart insisted on 
it, convinced her of its reality and its splendour. 

She was like one suddenly awakened from sleep; like 
one bom into a new world of glowing warmth and bril- 
liant simshine. The change in her was physical as well as 
mental. Life's meaning was suddenly intelligible to her. 
Her heart throbbed with new and wonderful ecstasies. 

As a flower turns to the sim so she raised her face to 
Carter's; a sublimely eager face, unafraid, responsive to 
the love-light in his eyes. 

''Mon ador£!" she cried, and voiced the swift change 
in their relationship by the love-pronoun of her country. 
"Oh, je t'aime! Je t'aime6perdumentl" 


"Where's your ring, Milly? Pawned it?" Bowman's 
question, inspired by its absence from her left hand, was 
not altogether facetious. 

She had not worn any ring for several days, but he had 
only just noticed it. He had not paid much attention to 
her since his return from London, and every night she 
had cried herself to sleep, accoimting next morning for 
her red eyes by saying that she 'd caught a cold. Bowman 
considered colds and tears imbecoming to a woman. 
Comparing her with Jackie he felt a sense of injury at her 
imattractive appearance. He was n't going through life 
tacked on to a girl like that. In a year or two she 'd look 
quite washed out. 

Milly had n't the courage to look up when she replied: 

"It would n't be much use to pawn it, Bill. I should n't 
get a shilling on it." 

"Himaph, so you've had it priced, have you? Nothing 
like looking a gift horse in the mouth, is there? I don't 
think you 're quite as disinterested as you 'd like to make 
out, my girl." 

"I did n't dream of having it priced," she protested. 
"Any more than I dreamt it was n't real. I lost a stone 
out of it, and when I went to ask about having another 
put in, the jeweller told me it was n't worth doing. I felt 

"Did you?" he queried callously. "You surely did n't 
think I 'd deck you in real diamonds? You ain't worth it. 
The ring sparkled well enough, anyhow." 

She flushed, humiliated as usual, but too much under 
his subjection to retaliate with spirit. 


''I'd rather not wear what is n't real any more. I can 
wait till I have a wedding ring." 

The timid remonstrance annoyed Bowman. 

"Don't you make too sure of a wedding ring," he re- 
torted. "It's a mistake to count your chickens before 
they're hatched, or a husband before you've got him. 
Things have happened during the last few days that may 
alter my plans considerably. I 've got to think of business 
first. I've found some one I've been looking for." 

"The French girl and Benny?" she asked alertly. 

"Her. Not Benny." 

"In London? The day you went up and did n't come 
out with me? " 

"You've got it in once. I got wind of her and went to 
pay her a surprise call." 

In a fever of anxiety Milly cla^>ed her hands. She 
could not help hating the unknown foreigner. She tried 
to keep her voice steady. 

"I suppose she was pleased to see you?" 

"Pleased was n't the word. She threw herself at my 
feet." Bowman gave a laugh like a bark. 

"She — she did n't kiss you?" 

"Well ..." He delayed his reply for the sake of the 
pleasure it gave him to harrow her feelings. " A kiss or two 
did pass between us. Don't you ask questions and you 
won't be told any lies. I 'm not standing in your light. 
You can always fall back on Measurer. He's a moon- 
struck sort of an ass, but he's still soft about you." 

"Oh, what do I care about anybody in the world but 
you, Bill?" she cried desperately. "I think there's only 
one thing that might stop my loving you. That 's if you 
died. ... As long as you go on living I've got to go on 
caring for you whatever you do — however cruel and un- 
kind you are. It 's the power you have over me, I suppose. 


Bill, won't you promise me not to see the French girl 

Bowman got up from his chair with a short laugh. 

** Not I. French-made things are 'most always fetching, 
from lingerey to ladies. I've got to see her to-night after 
the show." 

"Our show?" 

"No. Her show in town. She's a star in London now. 
No end of toffs running after her. Still, I think a nice- 
looking chap like me can hold his own. Oh, come off it, 
Milly. Don't slobber over me. I've a clean collar on. 
There, you've pulled a button off my coat! What's got 
you? It's no good kicking up a fuss. I 've got to catch my 
train. See you to-morrow morning." 

He walked off nonchalantly, whistling an obsolete 
music-hall ditty whose refrain maddened her: 

"Good-bye, little girl, good-bye! 
Don't cry, little girl, don't cry!" 

Her tears never had the slightest effect on him. She 
turned on the tap too easily. Jackie was of the breed that 
fetched him. No tears from her. Too much pluck in the 
stiff-necked, back-talking, plimip little vixen! But he'd 
corralled her. All the way up to town he gloated over the 

Jackie was prepared for him when he called at her flat 
that night. Hurrying away from the theatre she had got 
home by half-past eleven, and had the five hundred 
pounds in readiness. Her dread of the coming interview 
had lessened. For one thing, she believed that the money 
would buy him off completely, and then Benny would be 
safe. Although she loathed Bowman she hardly realized 
the moral danger she stood in from him. Very secure she 
felt now in the shelter of Carter's love. Soon he would be 


in a position to protect her altogether • • • always . . . 
until the end. . • . 

A new womanliness pervaded her, a promise of ma- 
turity, a confidence that already had in it a quaint touch 
of dignity. Bowman sensed it almost as soon as he set 
eyes on her. She was n't pale to-night. There were roses 
in her cheeks and her lips were soft and red. She looked as 
though she had been held in a man's arsis and loved. . . . 
The beast in Bowman awoke and stirred. She was his 
prey, his game. . . . What right to her had any other man? 

So as to have all his wits about him he had studiously 
kept off the drink this evening, and her beauty went to 
his head far more quickly than the spirit would have 
done. Like spirits, though, it had a pernicious effect on 
him. The savage in him clamoured ; all his brutal instincts 
were accentuated by it. He would have liked to club her, 
take her by the hair of her head, and drag her off to his 
cave. Very much of a throw-back was Bowman, very 
primitive; a compound of beast and man, the former pre- 

"You're looking fine to-night," were his first words. 
"You ought always to wear red. You look more like a 
bladng rocket than a girl. I'm rather proud of you, 
Jackie. You were my find, you know. I prophesied you 'd 
make a hit some day, did n't I?" 

Jackie let the cumbrous, double-edged compliment 

"I have here the money ready for you," she said. "I 
have also written a little contract. If you will sign it I 
will give you the notes. And please do not stay too long." 

" I 'D stay as long as I like," he snapped out. " Where 's 
your blooming contract? What 's it for? " 

She handed him a half-sheet of notepaper. On it was 


On recekal of the some of soo£ I promise to abandon any 
daim at all upon the boy Benny and I agre never to make myself 
any further black-male. 

For name 

Bowman burst into a guffaw. 

" Ton my soul, that's some contract! You ought to 
have been in the law, Jackie. I'll keep it as a curiosity." 

''Sign it, if you please," she commanded with a stamp 
of the foot. "There is ink on the table.'' 

Bowman put the paper into his pocket. 

'* Don't talk rot ! " he growled. '' Where 's the money? " 

She showed him the bundle of notes. 

" Where did you raise it from? The chap who 's backing 
you, I suppose. Wonder what he 'd think if he could see 
you and me hobnobbing together like old sweethearts, 
what? Come on, my dear. You have n't kissed me yet. 
Put your arms round my neck. I can do with lots of 
affection from a pretty kid Uke you." 

She kept him off. 

"Do not dare to approach," she cautioned. "My lips 
are consecrate." 

"Consecrated, are you? That's rich. Who to? The 
blighter with the money-bags?" 

Although she had but a vague notion of his meaning 
she resented it. 

"Do not anger me," she chafed. "Here is the money. 
Count it if you wish and sign the paper and take your 

She held out the bimdle of notes, so that he could 
not help seeing a great pigeon's-blood ruby encircled by 
brilliants that glowed on the third finger of her left hand. 
He pounced on it — the hand, not the notes. Those he 
was indifferent to now. They fell in a scatter on the 



*' Who gave you that ring? " he fuhninated. " What the 
blazes do }rou mean by thinking you can go and get 
engaged without asking me? Take it off. Do you hear?'' 

Jackie went white to the lips. 

^'Bowman, if you do not take the money and go I may 
do something infuriate," she cried. 

''I'm becoming infuriatedi too/' he vociferated, and 
in his rage swept the bundle of notes dean off the table. 
''Take off that ring, I say, or I'll do it for you! Damn 
your money] I can do without it for the present. I've 
changed my mind. I've altered my price. Listen . . ." 


The table was a small one. On the flat of his hands 
Bowman leant across it until his face was close to hers. 
His tawny, bloodshot eyes reminded her of a beast of prey. 

^^Listen/' he said again, and his voice shook with 
passion. "You can keep your blasted money! I'm goiog 
to have something that money can't buy, I'm goiog 
to have revenge! I'm goiog to marry you myself P^ 

She stood stock-still, speechless. 

" I 'd half a nund to tell you so three days ago. I did n't 
because I'm not the marrying sort. Don't think I'm 
layiog my heart at your feet or any sloppy tosh of that 
kind. Nor I don't want to marry you for your face. I've 
known how to get all I want out of women without bind- 
ing myseU down. I'm going to marry you simply to 
stop any one else pegging out a claim to you. You belong 
to me. That's why you've got to take tiat ring off!" 

"You must be quite mad! " she exclaimed, putting her 
hands behind her. "I am already fianc6e. That I should 
become the wife of a sort like yourself! Oh, it is absurd! " 

"Absurd or not, that's what you're going to be. I'm 
going to be your husband, not any half-baked swell with- 
out an idea in his chiunp of a head except front-row stalls 
and suppers at the Savoy. Come on, now!" 

With a quick movement he wheeled the light table out 
of the way. Jackie darted behind an armchair and seized 
a china vase. 

"Do not approach," she cried, "or I smash this at the 
window so that assistance shall come. If you intend a 
pleasantry it is a detestable one. I would kiU myself be- 
fore I would marry you!" 


Her earnestness made Bowman hesitate. The last 
thing he wanted was a smashed window and a commo- 
tion to follow. He stood watching her, considering his 
next move. 

"All right," hie said. "Kill yourself if you want to. 
It would n't help Benny much. I 'd have him then for 
sure. Strikes me I'll have him anyway." 

The assertion, made with well-simulated confidence, 
deceived her. She gave an ejaculation of dismay. Bow- 
man turned it to account. 

"Look here," he went on in a more conciliatory tone. 
"I did n't mean to rush you. I dare say it soimds a bit 
sudden. Overwhelmed you with joy, I expect." He 
grinned horribly. "I won't say more now. You can come 
out from behind that chair. I 'm not going to hurt you. 
I won't even kiss you. But" — his voice became threat- 
ening again — "what I've said I stand by. It's either 
Benny or you. Which is it to be? " 

The artfully contrived dilemma kept Jackie speechless. 
Bowman took her silence for submission. If she had to 
choose she would, he firmly believed, sacrifice herself. 
He believed she had chosen already, but, like the little 
spitfire she was, would not admit it. It did n't matter. 
He preferred talking to listening — talking was his trade 
— so he continued: 

"All right. You need n't answer now. Time enough 
when I come back. That'll be to-morrow night or the 
next. Meanwhile I 'U see about a licence. You won't want 
to be spliced in a church, I take it. Can't quite see me in 
one, eh?" The inappropriate contingency made him 
facetious. "Like Old Nick in the house of — " 
' "Tais toi, sc£l£rat!" she burst out. "Make a mock of 
me if you will, of my heart and all that I love, but do not 
dare to make a mock of God!" 


"Tut, tut I You're mighty pious for a gay girl. You 
ought to be thankful to me for wanting to make you an 
honest one. But there! that's me, a bally philanthropist. 
Sure proof I shall make you a model husband. Well, 
weU, I'll fix the wedding day, so all you need do is to get 
ready for it. And no double-cross business, mind! If 
you're thinking of stealing a march on me by getting 
your fancy boy to marry you before I can get back, you 'U 
be doing it at Benny's expense. I'll take it out of him at 
compound interest. On the other hand, if you marry me 
I'll give you my solemn oath — in writing if you like — 
that I'll never so much as try to see him. I shall get all 
the fun I want out of you. I'm going now. Say good- 
night like a good little girl." 

"I will never marry you — never, never!" she mut- 
tered furiously, as she left the protection qi the chair. 
"Are you not afraid to make so many people to hate 
you — to have enemies all the time? I myself have 
never thought wickedly to any one until I have met 
you. But I wish you were dead! I wish that I was 
strong to kill you! I wish that some enemy of yours 
who has strength may kill you yet. For you are too bad 
to Uve!" 

Bowman grinned complacently. 

"I'll try not to disappoiat you, my pet. But I take a 
lot of killhig, as you ought to know." 

With a rapid movement, too unexpected for her to 
evade, he pinioned her in his great arms and wrenched the 
ruby ring off her finger. Then he pushed her from him so 
that she fell back into the armchair. 

"I told you I'd take it off if you would n't," he said, 
with a chuckle. "I want it for the size of your wedding 
ring. Now you can go to bed and dream of the happiness 
in store for you!" 


'Xanaillel Give me back my ring!" she slirilled, and 
bounding out of the chair ran at him in a mad rage. 

''Now, no tantrums/' he warned, keeping her off. 

Beside herself, she flung herself on him, fighting 
desperately to regain her ring. It was the most sacred 
thing she possessed. Hardly knowing what she did she 
snatched a small comb from her hair, a blunt-edged thing 
of tortoise shell, and struck at him with it. It only grazed 
his wrist, but it roused the devil in him too. He shot out 
his fist and sent her spinning to the floor, and without 
troubling to see whether he had hurt her or not took his 
departure, leaving her dazed and bruised where she had 

She lay for minutes sobbing with rage and pain before 
she stumbled to her feet. The tears reUev^ her sur- 
charged feelings and cleared her brain. When they 
ceased she was calm and able to think. 

Benny's operation was to take place two days hence. 
Had it not been so imminent she might have told him of 
Bowman's brutality and so got his permission to allow 
her to appeal to Mervyn for help. But that, alas, was not 
possible now. Benny's mind must be kept serene and free 
from anxiety. The only thing left was to gain time, to 
try to put Bowman off until Benny was better, and then 
run away somewhere and hide — in Paris, perhaps^- 
where Bowman would n't be able to find them. 

That she should marry him even to save Benny was 
preposterous. In that demand he had overreached him- 
self. To save Benny she would have bartered ever}rthing 
she possessed, but not herself now that she belonged to 
Mervyn . . . 

It resolved itself into pitting her wits against Bow- 
man's. Next time he came she would let him think she 
had consented to marry him. . . . She would get her ring 



back as well. . . . She would be diplomatic. . . . She would 
hide her hatred and abhorrence. • . . She would pretend to 
be docile. ... In her tempestuous state of mind she could 
get no farther than that — to put him off and gain time 
... to gain time and put him off • . . 

Before long the blessed buoyancy of youth came to her 
aid. She had confidence in her ability to fool Bowman. 
She would not let him spoil her happiness any longer. 
She would not even think of him. 

She went to her bedroom, undressed, prayed at her 
shrine, and last of all placed the light that burned in front 
of it before Mervyn's photograph on her bed-table, so 
that she might see his dear face if she woke up or if that 
bad man, Bowman, figured in her dreams. 


The day after Virginia's final rupttire with Marlbury 
she left Portlington House and took a suite of rooms at 
Claridge's, where she intended staying until the divorce 
petition was through. If by that time Irene was married 
she could then return to America and there in her maiden 
name pick up the threads of her old life again. 

Wounded pride and a sense of failure weighed her down. 
Her dignity, often amounting to arrogance, was no longer 
a support. She quite realized that Marlbury had had 
very little out of his marriage bargain. In fairness she 
coidd not blame him for cutting adrift at last. His nature 
demanded love and companionship which she could not 
give. The news of their separation, which by now had 
become common property, had given her food for reflec- 
tion and time in which to see the whole unfortunate 
situation in its true perspective. She alone had failed. 

Marlbury beyond dispute had given her a deep and 
true affection. She had not cared for him at all. Ctf course 
she had loved Sam. She loved Sam still. Ambition and 
the desire for social prestige had outweighed that love. 
Therein had lain her blimder, her sin against herself and 
Marlbury. For now she had to admit to herself that it had 
been a sin. She was young when she married him, barely 
twenty-two, but she was worldly-wise enough even then 
to know that he could never inspire a wifely affection in 
her. Even ten years ago she had felt the disparity in their 
ages to be too great to admit of their being real chums. 
It need not have been so. Here again she did Marlbury an 
mjustice. He was over twenty years her senior, but he 
had the physique and enthusiasms of a young man. The 


four years of his active service were proof of his fitness, 
endurance, and spirit. She had marvdled at his determi- 
nation and admired his grit. To do her justice she had no 
notion that her cold indifference had made him careless of 
his safety. If it was his luck to stop a bullet — well, she 
would be spared his distasteful company in future. That 
had been his thought. 

The aUiance had been a mistake from start to finish — 
her mistake. Ten uneventful years of her life had passed 
in a roimd of social engagements; mere emptiness. Ten 
years of Marlbury's life had gone in fretting and hoping 
for what it was not in her to give him. The end had been 
inevitable. It was a wonder and perhaps a pity that it 
had not come sooner. 

Before she placed the whole unfortunate affair in her 
solicitor's hands she had the grace to write Marlbury a 
letter. In Jt she expressed contrition for the havoc she 
had made of his Uf e and sincerely hoped for his happiness 
in the future. Such as they were, the few lines came 
straight from her rather cold heart. She could never be- 
come reconciled to him again, but she knew her own short- 
comings and regretted them. 

Viiginia took Irene with her when she closed Port- 
lington House and conscientiously continued her chaper- 
onage. In her way she was very fond of Irene. The girl 
had filled a gap in her Ufe. She had been a handful, but 
she was essentially lovable, and Virginia, who had 
starved herself for love, wanted the little that was left to 

Irene's willing presence helped her in another way. 
It gave her courage to face the approaching legal ordeal. 
Now that she had withdrawn her opposition to Irene's 
marriage with Grandison no friction existed between 
them. Indeed, Irene's attitude towards Virginia wa3 


sympathetic. She did not altogether blame her father, 
but she was also extremely sorry for her stepmother. 

It was about 3 p.m. Virginia, nerve-racked after a long 
morning's interview with her lawyer, was resting on a 
couch when Irene came into the room. There was some- 
thing odd about her. She was all in white, but not the 
simple white of a summer day frock. Her dress hinted at 
something bridal. She went up to Virginia and kissed her 
in a self-conscious way. 

''Please don't be angry with me, Virginia. Wish me 
happiness," she said. 

She held out her left hand. A bright new wedding ring 
was on her third finger. 

''I did n't mean to do it without telling you," she said 
apologetically. '' I know how you wanted me to wait and 
have a proper wedding. . . . But, Virgie, we 'd waited five 
years already. It 's a long time. And Grandison wanted 
me so. Love is the best thing in this world. The war has 
taught us all to make certain of it while we can." 

Marlbury's own words in his daughter's mouth! 
Keenly aware of their underlying verity Virginia re- 
maiued silent. 

''You're not angry, Virginia? Don't think I've been 
indifferent to your wishes. I do care. You 've been a real 
dear to me always, even when you felt you had to be 
angry with me for my good." 

Virginia sat up and kissed her. Her eyes were moist. 
Love! Yes, it was a good enough prize to gamble for. 
The knowledge had come to her too late. She must have 
been signally lacking in the gambling instinct, the courage 
to stake her happiness on love alone. 

"Of course I wish you every happiness, dear," she said. 
"It's true I hoped you would have waited a little longer. 
But perhaps you know best. After all, your happiness 


ought to come first . . . Only, I shall be awfully lonely 
without you, especially now." 

"But I'm not going to leave you altogether. We 
wanted to make sure of one another, that's all. We're 
going away for a little while, and then I 'U come back if 
you 'U have me till you sail for America." 

"When were you married?" 

"An hour ago. In a dear old tucked-away church in 
the middle of Covent Garden. So lovely and quiet, no 
crowd, no fuss. Mervyn gave me away." 

So Mervyn had been in the secret! 

"He'll be here soon," Irene went on. "He's got some 
news for you, too." 

Virginia thought she could guess what his news would 
be; something to do with the French girl. 

Irene sat down at the foot of the couch. 

"Virginia," she said, "will you think me dreadfully 
rude if I say what's in my heart? It's about you. . . • 
Well, I'm going to. You've been awfully sad lately. 
More so than you'd admit. I've seen it. It's made me 
sad too — all this trouble with Dad, I mean. I don't know 
all the rights and wrongs of it. I don't want to. But I've 
thought lately that perhaps you never loved him to start 
with. If that's so it was hard luck on you both." 

"Yes," said Virginia. 

"WeU ... it's not Dad I'm specially troubled about. 
He 's struck out for himself — chosen his own way. But 
you 've got years and years in front of you. You 're not 
really much more than a girl." 

"Thirty-two," said Virginia. 

"That's yoimg. I hope with all my heart that you'll 
marry again -r- somebody who loves you and whom you 
can love. You'd be the dearest thing if you'd only be 
yourself, just yoiu* natural self. We've only one life so 


far as we know. It seems so queer and foolish to shut one's 
eyes and heart to all the promptings of the soul — the 
dictates of nature." Irene's face was rosy. "Oh, my 
dear, I'm lecturing you! Forgive me. I suppose it's be- 
cause it's my weddng day. But you wiU let yourself 
be happy, Virginia, won't you? The chance is sure to 

Virginia smiled sadly. 

"I had that chance once," she said, giving way to the 
first burst of confidence that had passed her reserved lips 
for many a day. "It came to me just before I married 
your father. . . . But I turned my back on it." 

Irene had guessed as much. She would have given a 
great deal to help Virginia to be happy again. She felt 
her happiness to be something of an affront to one who 
had so completely missed her own. 

After a little more talk she said good-bye. Viiginia 
felt the parting. Life just now seemed to her to be made 
up of nothing but partings. But for Mervyn's intended 
call she would have indulged in a fit of weeping. She felt 
near enough to tears. 

Mervyn and she had scarcely met since her unfortunate 
encounter with Jackie at his flat. He came now expecting 
her to be inimical, especially after the pronounced way 
in which he had abetted Irene's marriage. That, he 
supposed, would add to her ire. To his surprise he found 
her quite friendly, almost affectionate. She reproached 
him for not having come to see her more often. 

"I'm of a retiring disposition," he said, whimsically. 
"And I'm not partial to offering sympathy where it 
may n't be wanted." 

"You think I can do without it?" 

"Well, you seem to have washed your hands of all of 
us, Virgie." 


Virginia sighed. ''I shall be lonely now that Irene's 
married," she said. 

"I hope you Ve forgiven her." 

"Of course." 

"And me?" 

"And you. I think IVe forgiven everybody, even 

The unexpected change in her sentiments delighted 

"I'm glad to hear it," he said. "Family jars ought to 
be fitted with shock absorbers. What I really came for 
was to — er — tell you — " 

"Something about your young French friend?" 

"How on earth did you guess?" 

Virginia spread out her hands. "When your name, by 
implication, is associated with hers in the newspapers, and 
Irene buys her a trousseau — " She paused. 

"You assume?" 

"That, like Irene, you are gambling — on love." 

"No. I 'm not gambling. I 'm investing in love, Virgie.*' 

"You are married?" 

" Not yet. But my little Jacqueline is promised to me." 

Virginia turned this over in her mind. After a little 
while she said: 

" I went to see her performance. She is a great success. 
You 're proud of her, I suppose." 

"Very proud." 

"Does she come of any stock? Is de Brie her real 
name? " 

"Poor little soul! As far as I can gather her whole 
family were practically wiped out in the war. I believe the 
de was conferred on her by Calderon, her manager." A 
smile twitched his lips. "Titles are going cheap these 
dajrs." He suddenly remembered that she was about to 


relinquish hers. '^I did n't mean an3rthing personal, Vir- 
ginia. After ally Carter is a steady, solid name. When 
you Ve gone back to it you 'U be your old self once more." 

"I wonder," said Virginia. "And Jacqueline? With- 
out the prefix Brie is quite as good as Carter, an3n¥ay." 

This was a concession from one of such aristocratic 
tendencies as Virginia. Carter gave her a grateful look. 

"I should like to meet her again," she went on. 

Carter could hardly believe his ears. 

"To apologize," pursued Virginia. "I must admit I 
was very rude the day I met her. As I'm going to be her 
sister-in-law I suppose it's up to me to make amends. 
Will you take me to see her one afternoon?" 

Carter reached out and nearly shook Virginia's hand 

"You're a brick, Virgie!" he declared enthusiastically. 
" I never dreamt you 'd take it like this. I 've done you an 
injustice. I made sure you'd talk about misalliances and 
bad bargains and give me the cold shoulder." 

" I 've known trouble lately, Mervyn. It has opened my 
eyes to my own blunders. I've come to the conclusion 
that I ' ve no right to criticize any one who has the courage 
of love. I know now that it's the one essential to matri- 
mony. Unforttmately I found it out ten years too late." 

The sorry admission stirred Carter's pity. But Vir- 
ginia had not been fishing for pity. She took a queer 
pleasure in humiliating herself. It was her way of holding 
the scales even between herself and Marlbury. 

"You don't blame Marlbury, do you?" she asked. 

"I can't judge. I think he should have stuck to you." 

"He wanted to. It's only fair to him to admit it. He 
did his duty by me and I did n't know how to treat him, 
or rather I did n't want to know. He was awfully patient, 
and strictly honourable. I deserve what I've got I'm 


not an injured wife. I fed more friendly towards him than 
I ever did before. And yet I hope we shall never meet 

A speculative look came into Carter's face. Virginia 
had alwa3rs been something of an enigma to him. He 
wondered whether she was like the ice-maiden in the 
fairy-story who at last turned to flesh and blood at the 
kiss of the fairy prince. But where was Virginia's prince? 
Sam? She had always thought him ''a clod" and she had 
turned him down. That romance was dead he supposed. 
The chances of bliss that occur so frequently in fairy-tales 
were always at long odds in real life. Carter sincerely 
hoped that the future held happiness in store for Virginia. 
He was fond of her. Still, he did n't think it likely she 
would find love or marry again. Although she had unbent 
about Jackie her frigidity would always cramp her feel- 

For all that, he left her in a buoyant mood. He prom- 
ised to arrange an early meeting. That she should want 
to make amends to Jackie pleased him immensely. 

Virginia had nothing to do but to sit and think. Her 
enforced idleness went against the grain. She had can- 
celled all her social engagements. It would have been 
intolerable to subject herself to the scrutiny of curious 
eyes or to the commiseration of friends. The lack of 
occupation made her realize how very lonely she was. In 
the past she had hardly ever been at home. That this 
should have been a grievance of Marlbiuy's was compre- 
hensible to her now. The emptiness of her life jarred on 

But all these depressing reflections were suddenly 
swept away. One of the hotel servants entered her room 
with a card. The name engraved on it set all Virginia's 
pulses leaping. By what astoimding coincidence had this 


one person — this most welcome of persons — managed 
to turn up at such a moment . • . ? 

She was on her feet, her hand out, conventional words 
of pleasure at meeting him again on her lips, masking 
her real feelings. Last time she had seen him, nearly 
eleven years ago, he had kissed her . . . kissed her good- 
bye on the lips. . . . Those years had not changed him 
much, outwardly at any rate. Sam was still the same big- 
shouldered, kind-faced man she had loved, but whom she 
had not thought equal to satisfying her social aspirations. 
What had he made of his life? He did not look as though 
he had fretted greatly. Of course he 'd got over it all long 
ago. Men did. 

He took her hand and held it in both of his. It was 
cold, but did not a cold hand argue a warm heart? 

"I had to come and see you, Virgie," he said. "I 
thought you'd like to know I Ve made good at last. It's 
been slow work, and of course I don't blame you for not 
waiting. But I 'm not going to talk about the past. Geel 
You 've altered a lot, little lady. You 're a great personage 
now, are n't you? You look it. You remind me of a beau- 
tiful, pale princess. You make me feel kind of trembly all 
over like a kid on Fourth of July." 

''What brought you to England?" Virginia asked. 
She also was feeling ''trembly." 

"Why, just to see you. I said to myself, 'Sam, take a 
holiday; the first you've had for eleven years.' And here 
I ami I'm sailing again the day after to-morrow. Yes, 
I said to mjrself , ' I 'U just see Virginia and then come away 
home again.' It 's worth it too. I've been crazy for a peep 
at you." 

He took a seat dose to her. They talked of the old days, 
of their boy and girl adventures, of her first ball and his 
college days, of their old haimts and mutual friends. 


Then Sam had to tell her of his long strug^e with fortune 
and its prosperous if delayed result. Virginia forgot time. 
Although she listened to his personal story to the sad 
tune of "What-might-have-been," it was good to have 
Sam there — Sam in the flesh instead of only in the 
spirit — a more finished, a maturer Sam — Sam whose 
love would have been sure enough to gamble on. . . . 

"I had some bother to find you/' he said. ''Looked up 
the papers, but I did n't happen on any mention of you 
in the social goings-on. So I motored to Grange Sutton. 
That's one of your houses, is n't it?" 

"It's let." 

" So I discovered. Then I travelled down to Blenshay 
House in Sussex and was told you were in London, at 
Portlington House." 

Virginia nodded. 

"And there they referred me to this hotel. Is your town 
house imdergoing repair? I noticed the blinds were all 

"No, I — I've left it," she murmured. "I'm going to 
America soon." 

Sam looked delighted. 

"With your husband? You must introduce us, Virgie. 
I must try not to bear him a grudge." 

"I can't introduce you, Sam ... I'm going to get a 
divorce. That's why I intend leaving England . . . 
directly I'm free." 

Sam wondered if he had heard aright. He was too as- 
tonished to say anything. But presently an expression 
that can only be described as one of sheer joy and elation 
stole over his face and he said: 

"Were n't you happy? Has n't he been good to you?" 

"Quite good. ... It was my fault. I've a cold heart, 


Without any conscious effort Sam managed to get 
possession of her hand. 

"Poor little heart, Virgie/* he said, patting it, "You 
did n't give it ^a chance. . . . We might have looked for 
the Blue Bird of happiness together — and found it. . . . 
Tell me." His voice grew soft. "Have you any little 

"None. . . . Have you?" 

"Two. ... A boy and a girl. The jolliest yoimgsters." 

Virginia's heart, that had begun pounding, suddenly 
seemed to stand still. So he had married I Of course, 
it was only natural. 

"And your wife?" she asked with an effort. "You are 
very happy?" 

"She's a dream-wife," he answered playfully. "I'm 
telling you tales, Virgie. My kiddies are only dream- 
kiddies too. I 've never married. You might have guessed 
I should n't. When I'm alone nights, smoking, thinking 
of what might have been, I kind of vision you sitting 
opposite me in my bachelor parlour looking so — so at 
home — as though you properly belonged there. Then 
the kiddies come pattering out of bed, down to us. One 
on your lap, one on my knee. The girl's like you ... I've 
seen her quite distinctly." 

Virginia hid her face in her hands. " Don't, Sam ! " she 

Sam got up. 

"All right, Virgie. I'd best not. Maybe I'd say too 
much. You don't need to know what I feel. I told you all 
about it once, and I have n't altered. Perhaps my heart 
has gotten fonder, if that's possible. I'm going away 
back. When you're free and you start for home, send me 
a cable and the first thing you'll sight in New York Har- 
bour after the Statue of Liberty will be me. I've waited 



ten years. . . . Guess I can hold out another six months. 
But not longer." 

He lifted her hands, kissed them, and went quietly out. 

And Virginia, ice no longer, was glad this time to have 
nothing to do but to sit and think. The jarring emptiness 
of her life was forgotten. Her eyes and her heart were full 
of dreams, • . • 


"So you must be very brave, ch6ri," said Jackie. 
"Yes," said Bexmy. 

His eyes were on the ceiling. To-morrow the operation 
would take place. Jackie, knowing how much he must be 
dreading it, had been doing her best to cheer him up. 
This visit would be her last until the operation was well 
over. It was that thought, far more than anxiety for him- 
self, that was uppermost in Benny's mind. 

"Jackie," he said, "IVe done a lot of thinking since 
IVe been here. You'd better know. You're tr3dng to 
put vim into me, but it 's no good. I 'm not afraid, only 
a bit solemn, perhaps. There are things I want to tdl 
"Tell all you desire, ch6ri. I attend." 
"First of all, I want to say, God bless you." 
She gave his hand an affectionate squeeze. 
"And then, suppose I — I don't get better after all." 
"But you must! You will!" she insisted. 
"I mean to if lean. I 'm not squealing. But I remem- 
ber you said the other day that if you made a failure in 
your part at the theatre, and that if I did n't recover, you 
would n't believe in God the same as before. No, I know 
you did n't put it exactly like that, but it was what you 
meant. You must n't look at it that way. If it does hap- 
pen that I don't get better it might only be God's way of 
doing what was best, that's all. Last night the pain in 
my back was extra bad. They gave me some dope stuff — 
morphia, I think — and I floated off into a kind of waking 
dream. I had n't any pain. I 'd never felt so well since 
I can remember. I seemed as light as a feather and I was 


going up and up ever so eas3y and softly. Just as I was 
beginning to wonder where I was, a lady all in blue and 
gold put her arms round me. I seemed to know her face 
quite well. She was young and ever so beautiful. Sud- 
denly I remembered where I had seen her before. She was 
just like your little statue of the Virgin Mary, come to 
life. She told me I was quite cured. She called me her 
^ch6ri' in a voice just like yours, Jackie. I asked her if I 
could see you and she said I could, but not just then. 
She said you knew I was better. Then, somehow, I felt I 
had n't got a real body at all. I 'd left it behind somewhere 
along with all my pains. And I remembered that sentence 
in the Bible : ' And there shall be no more pain.' It seemed 
the most beautiful sentence that ever was written. And 
I knew it was true ! Another thing I knew was that I was 
dead. But I did n't mind. It was ever so much better 
than being alive. Such a heavenly feeling! I could move 
about — everywhere — an)n¥here — just by wishing it. 
All the strain and fatigue had gone. Think what that felt 
like to a chap who never could get more than a hundred 
yards at a time without wanting to sit down I 

"I'm telling you all this so that you need n't be sorry 
if it happens that I don't get better. I shall be all right, 
anyway. That 's how I think about it, and I want you to 
do the same. It need n't prevent you hoping I do get 
better. Perhaps I shall. The doctor says I '11 come through 
all right. There's no real danger in the operation." 

"Then do not let us speak of it," said Jackie, decisively. 
" I do not like the sound of such a word as danger. Think 
only that in three da)rs — not more — I shall be here 
once again, and we shall be speaking of all that we will do 
when you can come away. Now I must go, ch6ri. They 
do not wish me to make you a long visit to-day. Au 


The reason she gave for leaving him was only pretence. 
She had to go quickly or she would have shown the des- 
pondency which his morbid imaginings had caused her. 
Of course they were quite unreasonable. II parlait k tort 
et k travers. She was sure he would get well. But she 
wished he would have more courage. 

She drove back to her flat, intending to rest for an hour 
before starting for the theatre. Audagna was insistent on 
this point, and she always did her best to comply with 
it. She had not forgotten Bowman's departing threat to 
return. ^'To-morrow night or the next/' he had said. For 
no particular reason she did not expect him to-night; and 
in the dajrtime he kept away, probably because she might 
not be alone. Her dismay was all the greater, therefore, 
when she found him in her drawing-room. He had been 
waiting over half an hour, he sulkily informed her. 

*^ Your confounded old woman did n't seem to want to 
let me in," he grumbled. '' She said you 'd be going to 
sleep as soon as you got back. I soon settled her, I can 
tell you. I suppose you'd given her instructions that I 
was n't to be admitted. Damn silly of you." 

His temper was none the better for a number of drinks 
he had taken. Jackie had been quick to detect the foul 
odour of whiskey that he diffused. It sickened her; she 
loathed the sight of him; all her femininity was aroused. 
She was more than ever resolved to resbt and defeat him, 
to deceive him. 

"I have given no instructions whatever," she said with 
an air of injured innocence. '^I am glad you come now. 
I have been considering to myself and" — she gave a 
little shrug — ^'enfin, why should I hate you so much? 
You are a very handsome man. Perhaps you would not 
be so bad to marry after a little while." 

Bowman's spleen melted before this unexpectedly 


gracious avowal. He had an enormous opinion of his 
physical advantages. The one thing he was not proof 
against was flattery concerning them. On the stage, in 
the form of applause, it was the breath of his nostrils. 

"You bet I would n't," he declared. "That's the sort 
of talk I like to hear. Blest if you 're not getting sensible." 
He held out his arms. " Come and give a loving welcome 
to your devoted William." 

Jackie went to the bell in a great hurry. 

"But first let me ring for some tea." 

Bowman made a grimace. 

"Not for me, thanks. I sent your old woman out ten 
minutes ago to buy a bottle of Scotch. You ought to keep 
a drop in the house, kid. That or a bottle or two of 
champagne. To have only temperance drinks on tap 
is n't in keeping with my idea of a popular revue actress." 

His leer and his impertinence in giving her servant or- 
ders in her absence made her blood boil. Her foot was 
resentfully tapping the floor when the woman returned 
with her purchase, and with a scandalized expression on 
her face set it on the table. 

"Here, missus, give us a corkscrew," Bowman caUed 
as she was going out. "And a glass. Ditto soda — or 
water if you have n't any soda. Oh, there it is, is it? You 
don't keep your servants up to the mark," he observed 
when she had left the room. " I shall have to get her used 
to my little wayTS. I like my drinks on tap at the side- 
board all day long. You might try and remember that. 
Well, here's my love." 

He lifted his glass and nodded to her. 

"And now before I forget it. I 've got to have your full 
name to give the registrar. I '11 dot it down now. Never 
thought of asking you last time. How do you spell yoxir 
first name? • • • with a 'q/ eh? What about thede? . . . 


Righto, we cut the (fe • • . Yes, Brie? I've got that. 
That's all I want to know. I gave this as my address as 
well as yours, so we can get married a week from now. 
I'll run you down to Brighton for the honeymoon if 
you're a good little girl." 

"But I could not be ready so very soon," she objected. 
"Why should you wish to make such haste? I am not 
going to run away. Would you not wish to obtain my 
affection first? That would be more natural." 

Her reluctance, perhaps her tone, struck Bowman as 
inconsistent with the amiable way in which she had re- 
ceived him. He was not too fuddled to be suspicious or to 
resent opposition. 

"I don't care a curse whether you love me or not," 
he replied, pugnaciously. " And I 'm not going to play any 
waiting game. I have n't got tune to fool aroimd. And 
I don't trust you, either. You seem to have climbed down 
a bit too quick to be convincing. I was n't bom yesterday. 
Last time I was here you tried to lay me out. No, you've 
got a week left, Fatima, and it would n't be as long if I 
had my way, only the regulations of holy matrimony 
require that I ' ve got to sleep six nights in one blooming 

He helped himself to another drink, and his eqxianimity 

"Of course we could do it by special licence. But then 
you have to get a dispensation from a bishop, and I don't 
want any bishops butting into my affairs. Still, there 's no 
reason why we should n't be desperate sweethearts in a 
week. I've taught more girls than one to love me in far 
less time than that. Time don't count in affairs of the 

He strode up to her and lifted her bodily in his arms. 

"By gum I I'll learn youl" he muttered. "Jackie, you 


little French pussycat, I hate you like hell, but all the 
same I'm kind of mad about you! Lift up your little 

His grip was so tight that she was unable to struggle. 
He was in no hurry to take advantage of her helplessness. 
The prolonging of her agony — he could not mistake it — 
gave him pleasure. 

And so Carter, entering unannoimced to ask Jackie to 
come to tea with Virginia on the morrow foiuid them. 
The sight of Jackie, apparently docile in a man's arms, 
revolted him. He came to an amazed stop. 

Bowman looked at him over his shoulder. 

" Come right in, mister," he invited. " Don't mind us." 

He put Jackie down leisurely. Then she also saw Car- 
ter, and stood transfixed. She could not, dared not, say 
anything. What explanation could she make without 
betraying Benny? 

Carter remained where he stood. 

''Am I interrupting a rehearsal?" he asked, coldly. 

He harboured a wild, a bare hope, that this might ac- 
count for the odious situation and the man's presence. 
It lasted only an instant. It was incredible to suppose 
that this sottish, sordid-looking creature could be in 
Calderon's employment. Jackie's face alone negatived 
the supposition. The look on it was one of guilt. Or was 
it shame? Carter suffered agonies. 

'^A rehearsal?" returned Bowman, with a snigger. 
''Well, you might call it that, p'r'aps." He winked. 
''She's too shy to give it a name. Yes, a rehearsal for a 
wedding, is n't it, my peach? You 're the first, outside the 
family, to hear the news, mister. Jackie, why don't you 
introduce me? Is this your friend, your mounseer? I 
guess so." Again he winked at Carter. "Glad to meet 
you, old sport. I got a little business to attend to so X 



must be off. So long, kid. Don't forget next week. Now 
I Ve got the size of your finger you can have your blinkin' 
ruby back." He took the ring out of his waistcoat pocket 
and pitched it carelessly on to the table. "Help yourself 
to a drinky old bean. Jackie 's a rotten hostess. She don't 
run to the hard stuff. You have to send out for it." He 
waved in the direction of the whiskey bottle, nodded to 
Carter, kissed his hand to Jackie, and lurched out, stum- 
bling over a chair on his way. 
Carter drew aside to let him pass. 

Carter dosed the door. 

Jadde made no movement. A dull inertia paralyzed 
her; her face was colourless, that was all. Carter also re- 
mained where he stood. He felt he could not move a step 
farther into the room. 

His brain felt seared by what his eyes had just wit- 
nessed. They had seen the girl whom he had believed to 
be innocence itself lying tacitly in the arms of a cad. 
"Cad" was too mild a word. It conveyed but a tithe of 
the disgust which the brutish-looking individual had 
inspired in him. He was offensive, abhorrent — the sort 
of creature whom a sagacious dog might have avoided 
instinctively, and yet Jackie was intimate with him! 

Everythhig spiritual in Carter was outraged. He loved 
Jackie with iufinite tenderness, but also with all his man- 
hood. He had idealized her. It was because of the tran- 
scendence of this love that he had for so long refrained 
from avowing it. The intensity of his feelings made the 
shock he was now imdergoing all the more poignant. He 
felt as though he were the victim of a hideous dream. 
Could this impassive girl who said not a word, but who 
continued to regard him with sphinx-like eyes be the 
same to whom but yesterday he would have entrusted his 
very soul? What was the secret of those eyes? Was it 
appeal or guilt? He strove to disbelieve the evidence of 
his senses. 

"Jackie," he said shakily, "for God's sake, tell me 
what this means? . . . Have you nothing to say? " 

At his words her frozen calm, her immobility, melted 


away. She ran at him, took hold of him, twined herself 
round him, looked up beseechingly into his face. 

"MerveenI MerveenI" she cried. "Do not speak so to 
me! Do you not love me? Do you not believe in me?" 

The evasion added to his misery. He freed himself from 
her clinging grasp. 

"I want to believe in you," he said. "I'm asking you 
to explain that man's presence . . . how you came to be 
in his arms?" 

Her eyes fell before his. She did not answer. 

"Who is he?" 

"I will not tell you his name," she whispered. 

"Is he a friend of yours? Jackie, for Heaven's sake, 
don't shut your lips as if you never meant to open them 
again! Can't you imderstand what I'm feeling, or don't 
you care? What is that man to you? " 

Her reply was a slight movement of the shoulders that 
told him nothing. 

"Has he been here before?" 

She nodded. 

"How often?" 



"When I am come home from the theatre." 

The hour — late at night — was implied. Guiltiness 
was in the halting words. 

"Is he a relation of yours?" 


"Why have you never spoken of him before?" 

Her lips shut tight again. 

"O my God, Jackie," he burst out, "I had rather any- 
thing in the world had befallen me — or you — than to 
know you are — what you are!". 

Whiter if anything went her face, but her eyes blazed. 


"What do you say I am?" she cried. 

A despairing gesture and a look of affliction were his 

"Dieul H me croit perfide!" The words were just 

After an aching pause Carter said: 

"After all . . . what explanation can there be? I'm 
not the only man in the world a girl has made a fool of. 
It's very obvious. . . . I dreamt a dream. That 'sail. Now 
I'm awake. It's all hideous. ... I will write to you. . . . 
X— " 

"Attend I" she cried, finding her voice. "You believe 
that I am — not good. I say nothing. Perhaps, as you 
say, there is nothing for me to explain. It is a misfortune 
what you have seen. But if an angel came from the sky 
and told you that I was true, that I am not what you 
think, would you then doubt me? " 

The appeal missed its mark. What Carter wanted, 
what he himgered for, was something imequivocal, a 
straightforward explanation of the hideous situation. 
It was obvious to him that Jackie's intention was to 
evade it. 

"You can hardly expect me to wait for a miracle," he 
said, and turned to go. 

Jackie's voice, intense with woe, made him pause. 

"Merveen ... I am desolate." 

He was assailed by a "Solent longing to turn back, to 
take her in his arms, to disbelieve what he could not help 
believing, but his manhood and his lacerated feelings 
cried out against the weakness. . . . Like the actress she 
was she hoped to retain him by playing on his emotions. 
... To give way to them would be fatal. He had credited 
all the virtues to a girl who made a mock of the first 
among them. Romance had blinded him to the ingrained 


flagrancy of the stage. His case was common enough. He 
had been infatuated and then fooled! 

And for this girl's love he had knelt at night and 
thanked his God! A girl in years with the heart and know- 
ledge of a harpy! The iron entered into his soul. 

"Merveen ... I am desolate ..." 

He had heard just such another note of golden liquid 
agony in the voice of Sarah Bernhardt on the stage years 
ago: a voice equally brimful of desolation, which had 
brought tears to the eyes of every man and woman in the 
audience. This girl had the trick of it, too. 

With a laugh so mirthless that it made grief vocal, he 
looked over his shoulder and said: 

''I am desolate too.'' 

She had used the word in entreaty; he meant it as 
rdentlessness. In his voice, his attitude, his looks, she 
saw an end of everything between them — her dismissal. 
He assmned her to be something far worse than the 
gavroche which his sister had called her, assumed her to 
be guilty because she would not exculpate herself. All 
her pride was aroused. It grew stronger every moment. 
Never would she plead now, never explain. 

To his last words, the echo of her own, she made no 
answer. So it was all over! With the opening of the door 
by which he stood, Merveen, her beloved, would pass out 
of her life. ... It opened. ... It dosed. She heard him 
going slowly along the passage. . . . 

But halfway down it Carter paused. He thought he 
heard her voice calling his name. He retraced his steps 
and opened the door. She had not moved. She stood in 
the same spot with her hand to her heart 

"Did you caU?" he asked. "I thought I heard you." 

"No," she answered dully. "I — did not call ..." 

He could not tell she was lying. Involuntarily his name, 


enshrined in her heart, had fluttered to her lips. But she 
was too proud to admit it. Her heart had called him 
back: her pride denied the dictate of her heart. 

Indecision held Carter. Her piteous expression moved 
hun prof oimdly. Was that look on her face one of suffer- 
ing, not guilt? Cotdd he be sure? 

"Jackie," he besought, "if it is possible to explain, 
won't you do it? My whole world has gone to pieces. 
You were my world. Such a perfect world that it agonizes 
me to believe it dishonoured!" 

"But me" — she struck her breast — "you will not 
believe! You will not take my word that I am honest 
without explication of many words which I cannot give. 
It is you who are without faith! For myself I would not 
think evil of those I love; no, not if I saw with my eyes 
what seemed to be an evil. . . . Please to go. It is neces- 
sary that I become calm before I go to the theatre." 

The determination in her tone, her finality, robbed 
Carter of a last despairing hope. With a heart like lead 
he left her. 

His car was outside. Virginia was expecting him to bring 
Jackie. He thought it advisable to go to her and make 
some excuse, though all his instincts were for solitude 
imtil he could face the world again with outward calm. 

Directly she saw him Virginia guessed that something 
was wrong. Less than an hour ago he had been in the 
gayest of spirits. Now care and shock were plainly written 
in his face. 

"What is the matter, Mervyn?" she exclaimed. "You 
look dreadful! And where is — Jackie?" The name 
came awkwardly to her lips. 

"She can't come," he replied drearily. 

"Was she not in? We must fix another day. To-mor- 
row, perhaps." 


''It's not that. She was at home. She won't be coining 
at all, Virginia . . ." 

"Don't think me curious, Mervyn, but does she refuse 
to come because of what I said at your flat? " 

" No, no. I did n't mention your name, ^he does n't 
know you want to see her. Something has happened to 
make that unpossible. ... I've just left her. ... It's all 
over between us." 

"All over?" Virginia repeated blankly. "But Mervyn, 
tell me what has happened. Was it a quarrel? Can't it be 
made up? " 

He was not ready with a reply. He stood looking out of 
the window with unseeing eyes, nervously fingering his 

"It's nothing of that sort," he said. "I prefer not to 
go into details. I — I 've been a fool, that 's all. She — I 
... oh, it's the usual story more or less. There's another 

"She told you so?" 

"No. But she did n't expect me and I — foimd him 
with her. . . . Don't ask any more questions, Virgie. I 'U 
look you up in a day or two, old girl." 

Virginia stopped hun on his way to the door. 

"Don't take it to heart more than you can help, dear. 
Are you sure it's all quite final? Of course, when I first 
knew about her and when I saw her, I could n't help 
showing my disappointment. It seemed such a mistake. 
And I wanted you for Irene. But afterwards, as you know, 
I've seen things in a different light. You loved her, and I 
know she loved you. That first time I saw her I guessed 
it. She spoke your name in her sleep. Oh, so tenderly! 
I'm not saying this to try and patch things up. I don't 
know all the ins and outs of it. As you say, the details 
don't signify. Only I wronged Jackie once. Are 3^(m quite 


sure you 're not wronging her now? I 'm convinced of one 
thing: whatever she is, she's genuine." 

" Thank you, Virgie. No, I 'm afraid it can't be patched 
up. It 's past mending — quite final. I 'm going to try to 
forget it. In a few months I dare say I shall be collecting 
fiddles and bric-H-brac again as assiduously as ever. 

The will to forget Jackie, like many another resolve 
made without the ability to carry it out, was beyond 
Carter's power. In his flat, to which he returned, every- 
thing seemed to hold a memory of Jadde. There was 
the big chair like a gigantic peacock's tail in which she 
had liked to curl herself up; the couch on which she had 
lain asleep after supper on the night of her success in 
"Spatch-Cock"; the Erard grand on whose ke3fs she 
played five-finger exercises; the vases that had so often 
held her flowers; the comer of exposed parquet where she 
often danced. . . . 

On one occasion, he being out, she had taken advan- 
tage of his absence to construct in his bedroom a replica 
of the shrine she had made for herself. He had loved her 
for her simple faith and the pretty practices of her re- 
ligion. Now the shrine seemed a mockery: she herself was 
a mockery. . . • The very foimdations of his ethical be- 
liefs, of all his canons of faith, were shaken to their base. 

In the drawer of the bureau lay her discarded dancing 
things: the scarf of many colours, the short skirt, the 
embroidered apron, the velvet corslet bodice. Treasured 
objects! He opened the drawer and looked at them, see- 
ing her again as she had looked when she danced to the 
tune of a barrel-organ in the simlit street . . . how long 

The solitude of the flat and the misery in his heart made 
him restless. He went out again and wandered about 


aimlessly until, tired out, he sought his dub. There he 
made a poor pretence of dinner and after it recommenced 
his perambulations. Without conscious volition his feet 
took him in the direction of the Diplomats' Theatre. 

A life-sized poster of Jackie stared him in the face when 
he reached it. Her name in the coloured electric fire 
which had given her such infinite pleasure to behold, 
sparkled over the entrance. Carter paid for a seat — one 
in the back row of the balcony. The curtain had been up 
nearly half an hour. Jackie was on the stage, dancing. 
In this first joyous act it would have been difficult to 
imagine her anything else than a serene and happy girl 
without a cloud on her horizon. Carter, watching her, 
wondered whether she could ever really have cared for 
him. It seemed incredible that she could act like this less 
than two hours after their parting. The smile on her 
carmined lips seemed so unforced, so spontaneous. There 
was laughter in her eyes, the spirit of gaiety in every one 
of her movements. 

How could he know that, even as Caliowska could 
dance gaily in spite of shoes soaked with blood, so Jackie, 
artiste also to her toe-tips, had forced herself to act and 
dance with laughter on her lips, though her heart was 

"Is it true?" asked MiUy. 

" Oh, Lord ! " Bowman exclaimed. " One question after 
another you fire at me and then want an answer to the 
lot. Just like a woman! What have my private affairs to 
do with you? If I tell you anything about 'em don't you 
understand it's simply out of good-nature? Yes, I am 
thinking of closing down the tour. Why should n't I? 
Is *Dead Men's Shoes' my proi>Brty or yours? The com- 
pany will be paid up, and that's better luck than happens 
to a good many on the road. You need n't look so glum. 
As a matter of fact I've got a purchaser for the whole 
caboodle — play, scenery, dresses, and props. Most 
likely you '11 all be taken on with them. If you take my 
advice, Milly, you'll think twice about Measurer. It's 
he who 's going to take theplay over. I suppose you heard 
he 'd come into a bit of money unexpectedly. You take 
him — with my blessing." 

" Don't tease me. Bill," she pleaded. " I know all about 
Mr. Measurer's good luck. I'm glad of it. He deserves it. 
I wonder he does n't leave the stage altogether now that 
he's well off. I should. But I've no personal interest in 
him. You know that. Bill, I hate to ask you — I would n't 
but for something I've heard — something Dad let 

"Go on. Out with it. The old blighter is always 
gossiping about what does n't concern him." 

"It's not gossip. It's what he heard from somebody 
whom you 'd told yourself." 

"Well, what is it?" 


"That you go up to London every day because you 're 
going to get married there — something to do with the 
licence and your being in the same parish as the bride. 
Bill, say it is n't true! Tell me that some one's just got 
hold of a silly tale. You're going to many me. You 
know you are. You promised in Poole Park that night. 
You swore by all you held holy that you 'd never lie to me 
or let me down again 1" 

"Did I?" said Bowman, imperturbably. "Mere 
figure of q)eech. Thought a fly girl like you would have 
forgotten it. I had. I'm not deceiving you, Milly. I 
would n't be bothered. I might have meant to marry 
you in Poole Park, but. Lord, that's ages ago! As to my 
getting married in London — " 

Milly jumped to her feet "It is true, then!" she 

"Don't get excited." 

"To the French giri?" 

He gave her a nod. "Next week. Like to be brides- 

The taunt made her furious. 

"You shan't marry her!" she cried. "You're not free. 
I — I'll kill myself if you do! You know how I love you 
and that I can't live without you ! You know how you 've 
made me care!" Her voice was all broken with emotion. 
"Is n't my love good enough for you. Bill? There's no 
one in the world who will ever care for you as much as I 
do. Whatever you did or whatever you were, even if you 
were in prison for doing something dreadful, I 'd still love 
you and come to you and — and — " 

"Thanks," he interrupted. "I don't intend going to 
prison that I know of. Funny idea to get into your head. 
Think I'm going to rob a bank or commit a murder up in 
London? That's not the idea by a long chalk. What I'm 


going to London for is to settle down. So can jroQ if yoa 
play your cards well with Measurer." 

Milly made an ejaculation of dissent and wning her 

''Oh, well, I have n't got time for scenes. I'm sick of 
them! My plans are all cut and dried. I 'm marrying Miss 
Jacqueline de Brie on Friday. So that's that" 

''Where does she live?" asked Milly wildly. 

"Well, that «5 a question!" At first he was not going to 
tell her, but vanity seduced him into doing so. " She lives 
at 72, Green Street, Grosvenor Square, Mayfair, if you 
musi know. Classy address, ain't it? Next door but one 
to a lady of title ! Don't you start paying calls and throw- 
ing vitriol in her face, though. It would n't be the least 
bit of use. She'd give you as good as she got. Jackie's a 

Milly was torn between exasperation and despair. 

"And you mean to tell me — after what has passed 
between us — that — that you love her!" 

"Oh, love! I'm sick of tixe blessed word. Cut it out 
What 's it got to do with marrying? I 'm not a soft chump 
like Measurer with highf alutin sentiments. What I want 
in a wife is vim. Jackie's chock-full of it. That's why 
she teases me. She 's like a pudding I once had at a swell 
dinner at the Cri. It was called a soopreese — French for 
surprise, that is — ice outside and burning hot in the 
middle. That's Jackie — a blooming human soopreese. 
Keeps you guessing." He stopped to look at Milly in an 
aggrieved way. "Now what's the matter with you? If 
you 're going to faint, for the love of Mike don't do it on 

She was tottering with weakness. To disembarrass 
himself of her he took her by the shoulders and pliunped 
her on to the sofa. She had always been delicate, given to 


fainting when overwrought, and ever since her return to 
the company she had been spending herself emotionally. 

She lay supine. Her eyes were dosed; she hardly 
breathed. Without imdue haste Bowman fetched a glass 
of water, flicked it over her face, and then in the most im- 
concemed manner left her to "get on with it." When she 
came to she'd be certain to treat herself to "a fit of the 
weeps." He was n't going to wait for that. 

So he went off to the theatre and there occupied him- 
self with business for an hour, forgetting MiUy's very 
existence. A surprise awaited him on his way out of the 
stage-door — an impleasant surprise in the shape of 
Sassoni — Sassoni minus his barrel-organ, his wife, his 
babies, and his stereotyped smile. It had cost him fifteen 
shillings of much-grudged money to make this journey 
in the hope of ferreting out the deceiver who had prom- 
ised to pay him five precious sovereigns for services ren- 
dered. It had taken him days of persistent endeavour and 
enquiry to trace Bowman. Sassoni was a creature who 
never forgave, or forgot, or abandoned a quest. He was 
infinitely pertinacious. 

Annoyed at seeing him there, Bowman pretended not 
to recognize him. 

"You can't come in here," he said. "No admittance 
except on business." 

"I come-a see you," afiSrmed Sassoni in a hard voice. 

"Oh, have you? Well, who are you anyway? I've no 
time to waste." 

In a steady flow of language freely interlarded with 
Italian, Sassoni professed himself to be an upright organ- 
grinder, and that Bowman, on the other hand, was a liar, 
a deceiver, and a black-hearted Inglese without principle 
or honour. He wanted his five poimds, and he meant to 
have them. Rage made him almost unintelligible; but he 

230 * JACKIE 

was quite intelligible enough for Bowman, who, because 
of a guilty conscience, would have understood what he 
meant if he had said it in Chinese. 

^'Come to think of it, I do remember your ugly mug 
now," he admitted. "But if you imagine I owe you any 
money, all I can say is you 're dreaming and it 's time you 
woke up. Think I 'd promise any one five quid just for an 
address? You'll be asking me next to take you on as 
Shylock! You go and tell it to somebody on the Rialto! 
What's that you say? Wife and kids? Well, you're not 
the only one. Dare say I shall have some one day, too. 
You dear off. I 'm a man of peace, but if I see you mon- 
keying roimd much longer I shall send for a policeman." 

Sassoni, now dancing with fury, changed his tone. 
He, too, threatened. He nursed his despoiler. He spat 
venom at him. Bowman gave him a push. It was meant 
to be a slight one, but it sent him sprawling. He picked 
himself up, and muttering imprecations moved slowly off, 
realizing the utter futility of argument against a man of 
Bowman's strength and bulk. At the comer of the street 
there was a public-house. Sassoni turned in, ordered gin, 
and sat in the window sipping it and watching the stage- 
door with ferrety, gleaming eyes. 

After a while he saw Bowman emerge and saunter down 
the street Sassoni swallowed the rest of his gin and fol- 
lowed. Bowman pursued his way to the station. There 
he took a ticket to London. Sassoni had his return half. 
He got into the same compartment as the hated one. He 
made no further demands. He did not even speak. He 
simply sat opposite the big man who, for his part, seemed 
as indifferent to the Italian's presence as he was to the 
fly that alighted on his coat-sleeve. 

At London Bridge Bowman got out. 

So did Sassoni. 



Bowman got into a taxi, directed the driver to a third- 
rate theatrical hotel — an address which Sassoni care- 
fully committed to memory — and as the vehicle started, 
leant out of the window, and with a grin and a con- 
temptuous 'Xatch, Ringlets 1" threw a penny — a last 
insult — right in Sassoni's path. 

At nine o'clock on the morning following Benny's opera- 
tion Jackie called at the nursing home. She brought with 
her a great bimch of pale pink roses, the flowers he most 
loved. She did not expect to be allowed to see him, but 
she hoped to have a few words with his favourite nurse. 
That would be the next best thing. 

And it was his favourite nurse who came to her in the 
visitor's room where she waited. 

^'Oh, mademoiselle," she said, "I was just coming off 
duty, and, hearing you were here, I thought ..." 

It was not so much the abrupt stop she came to as 
Jackie's own delicate sensitiveness that made her heart 
stand still and a cold hand dutch at its strings. She had 
a dire feeling, gaining in strength every instant, that 
Benny — a cold and spectral Benny — was standing 
beside her, not lying in a bed . . . that she would never 
again hear his voice. . . . Her eyes asked the dread ques- 
tion which she could not bring her lips to frame. 

In answer to it the nurse gave a slow nod 

"He died at five this morning," she said, sorrowfully. 
"The operation took place yesterday afternoon. Sir 
Purton was quite satisfied with it. You had his message 
on the telepnone saying that all was well, did you not? " 

"Yes," said Jackie. Her lips trembled. She was 

'' After the operation he was rather longer than usual in 
coming roimd, but everything seemed all right. When he 
did regain consciousness he was wonderfully peaceful and 
happy and qtiite free from pain. He told me he had had a 
beautiful dream, and said something about wanting to go 


on with it Patients are often like that. He asked me to 
give you his love. He had a good night, but at four 
o'dodc I had to call up the house surgeon. His pulse was 
getting so feeble. And then, in ^ite of all we could do, 
he gradually sank. It was one of those unforeseen cases — 
we get them sometimes — when the patient seems to lose 
the will to live. It's hopeless then. Sir Purton came roimd 
before the end. Everything was done that could be done. 
He just slipped away." 

Jackie turned a face of stone to her. 

''Is it permit for me to look upon him?" she asked. 

"Yes, dear." 

The nurse led her to the room where less than thirty- 
six hours previously Jackie had been sitting with Benny, 
anticipating his recovery and cheering him up. She re- 
called the earnestness with which he had narrated his 
dream — that dream of a happy death. 

Now he lay there, never to speak or move again. God, 
not man, had cured hkn. But Jackie could not think of 
God. Her grief was too intense. She only knew that she 
had lost Benny, her poor broken doll, her dearest, her last 
remaining friend. 

Dry-eyed, she looked down at him, wondering at the 
calm serenity in the dead face. It seemed to wear an 
expression of infinite knowledge, a look of sovereignty. 

"He is happy," said the nurse gently. "Mademoiselle, 
can you doubt it? " 

Jackie did not seem to hear. 

"Where is God?" she asked in a stricken voice. "He 
has taken away my ch6ri. ..." 

She fell on her knees by the bedside. Her desire was to 
pray, but her heart was dumb. 

"I cannot pray," she said, and whispered again, 
"Where is God?" 


The nurse's kindly hand stole over her shoulders. 

''My dear, can you look on that boy's face and ask — 
or doubt? Don't let grief embitter you. If you were as 
familiar with death as I am, believe me you would be 
certain of one thing — that there is a God, and that there 
is a future life. . . . Benny would tell you so if he could 
speak. . . . I 'U leave you here for a little while. I 'U come 

So Jackie remained with her dead, gazing hopelessly at 
the still, cold face so like and yet imlike her ch6ri Benny. 
She was entirely heedless of the fact that Benny's death 
meant her release from Bowman. She had forgotten his 
existence. Benny's loss affected her like a crushing weight. 
She had so counted on his recovery, made such plans for 
their joint futiure — plans free from all fear and anxiety 
and pain. . . . Now his last words came back to her: 

// ii does happen thai I donH get better U might only be God's 
way of doing what was best ... 

And then again: 

It was ever so much better than being alive ,. .all the strain 
and fatigue had gone. Think what that felt like to a chap who 
never could get more than a hundred yards at a time . . • 

"Oh, ch6ri," she cried, "give me a heart of tran- 
quillity. ..." 

Even as she uttered the words an assuaging sense of 
peace descended on her. It became manifest to her that 
to mourn when Benny had told her not to do so — to 
mourn when he had won free of pain — was a form of 
selfishness. Why should she grudge him the joys of 
eternity because she remained alive burdened with trou- 
ble? Why, above all, should she doubt the goodness of 
God simply because He had seen fit to open the gates 


of heaven to Benny? • • . She saw the narrowness of her 
vision. • . • 

"Oh, ch6ri, forgive me!" she whispered. 

She laid her pale pink roses in his hands. When the 
niurse came back she was ready, reconciled. She had been 
crying. . . . 

When she got home she wrote to Carter. She was 
afraid that when he knew of her grief he might come, if 
only out of sympathy. She felt she could not bear to see 
him now that he doubted and despised her. Though 
Benny's death absolved her from keeping his secret the 
desire to justify herself had gone. Mervyn had lost faith 
in her. She was too proud to sue to him. 

This was her letter: 

// you have the wish to express sadness for the death of my 
bdoved Benny please do not come toteUit. I know that you also 
are sad for him, but if you will make a little journey to the hospi- 
tal you will assure yourself that he has happiness. 


She had already returned him the notes which Bowman 
had rejected, together with his engagement ring and a few 
other presents. 

Benny was dead. Her rupture with Mervyn was final. 
She seemed to have soimded all the depths of desolation. 

There remained nothing for her to do but to sit at home. 
She had not the heart to go out. Later the theatre would 
claim her. She had no thought of keeping away because 
of her grief. Doubtless there were others who would have 
to dance and sing with a breaking heart to-night. She 
q)ent hours before the shrine in her bedroom. She did not 
pray for the repose of Benny's soul. His repose she knew 
was assured and eternal. She prayed, hoping to derive 
comfort from the sweet-faced Virgin with the Holy Child 
in her aims. 


Late in the afternoon a knod: at her door reused her 
from the dull lethargy into which she had fallen. Her 
servant entered to tell her that Bowman had come. 

She was too apathetic to care. She went to meet him. 
The traces of giief were on her face. She had put on a 
black frock on her retmn from the nursing home. Bow- 
man made a wry face when he saw her. He always asso- 
ciated Jackie with colour. Black annoyed him. So did 

"Hullo," he said, derisively. "Come from a funeral? 
You don't look very festive. I just looked in to tell you 
that I '11 be coming roimd to f etdb you on Friday morning 
at twelve sharp. So if you Ve any special pals you want 
to invite to the wedding you'd better issue your invi- 
tations quick. Don't you go putting on black clothes, 
though. Suppose you 've been weeping for your mounseer 
Johnnie. Rotten bad compliment to me, I call it, to go 
into mourning for him. Well, I won't stop now. I '11 just 
take that kiss I was done out of when — " 

He was advancing on her, but stopped at her quiet in- 

"I do not marry you on Friday, Bowman." 

" Oh, don't you? " he cried ironically. " We 'U see about 
that. Don't think you can play trid^s with me, Jackie. 
Now or any time. You tried once when you ran away. 
It did n't help you much. You 're going to many me 
whether you like it or not, or, as I 've told you, Benny will 
have to pay for it." 

"It is because of Benny that you have no more power 
upon me." She spoke in a dead, level, emotionless voice. 
"Only for Benny have I made pretence. Now all that is 
altered. It is finished. You cannot have Benny at all." 

"You wait, my girl. You'll see whether I can or 
not. Guess you don't know me yet. If I don't have 


my way with you, I'll break his blessed back for good 
and aU." 

''His back is better/' she returned, still in that quiet 
voice. "He is now stronger than you, Bowman." She 
crossed herself . "He is dead. That is why you can never 
have him." 

For a moment Bowman was taken aback. Was she 
speaking the truth? If so, then . . . But all girls were 
liars. Jackie, being a foreigner and an actress as well, 
was of course a bigger liar than most. A clever trick that 
— the black dress, the pale face, the tearful eyes. But 
he was n't to be fooled so easily. In fact he was n't going 
to be fooled at all. 

"You don't think I'm going to swallow a made-up 
story like that?" he said contemptuously. "A few days 
ago according to you he was going to get better. Now you 
say he's dead. You can't kid me like that." 

"I cannot make argument. I have told you the truth. 
If you do not believe me you can make certain for your- 
self. The address of the home where he was nursed is 99, 
Wunpole Street. Go there and make enquiry if you wish. 
You will hear what I have already told you. . . ." 

Bowman began to have a wavering suspicion that she 
might be speaking the truth after all. 

"And I will tell you more," pursued Jackie. "When 
you made threat to hurt Benny unless I would marry you, 
I had no intention to consent to such a terrible thing. I 
loved Benny, but to many you to save him was a price 
too great. I had but the idea to make a play with you so 
that you might think I would agree. In that way I had 
thought to contrive a little extra time in order for Benny 
to recover and gain strength. Then I had arrange that 
we should run away once more — to Paris, and there we 
could have remain lost till you abandoned search. Now, 


unhappily, I have no reason to hide. There remains only 
you and myself, and I am indifferent to you. You cannot 
harm me. I am Jackie. I don't care." 

''I'll make you care/' roared Bovnnan, beside himself 
with fury and baulked desire. "I'll marry you, Benny 
dead or Benny alive 1 I 've never yet gone without a thing 
I 've made up my mind to have, and I 'm not going to, 
now. You shan't escape me, I promise you! From the 
moment I set eyes on you that night when you came 
running into the parlour at the Green Feathers, all blazin' 
fury and pink spangles, I 've been crazy for you. I wanted 
you first because you were pretty. And when I found 
you 'd made a hit on the stage and might soon be at , the 
top of the tree, I wanted you still more, because I meant 
to shin up it myself on your shoulders. But more than all 
I want you because I've promised myself the joy of 
breaking your spirit. • . . And you won't put me off it 
standing there looking like a she-cat. / don't care either. 
I'm Bowman. And I'll marry you on Friday as sure as 
I'm alive, so help me — " 

He raised his fist melodramatically cdlingwards. But 
neither his rage nor his threats disquieted Jackie now. 
Again her quiet, level voice interrupted him, and over her 
face there hovered the ghost gf a smile that was the very 
essence of scorn. 

" God will not help you, Bowman," she declared. "And 
life is not certain." 

And Sassoni in Soho, who had betrayed Jackie and in 
turn been betrayed, moodily brooding, his fingers twitch- 
ing and feeling for that which lay in the sash around his 
waist, was waiting for nightfall, and preparing himself 
to justify her faith. . . • 


Directly Bowman went — not without threats that he 
would return — Jackie began to reconstruct her world. 

It was a new world, without a Mervyn or a Benny; a 
world in which all that was left to her would be her art, 
her dancing, her life at the theatre. Dancing had once 
been everything to her. Her love of it had kept her serene 
and impervious to life's hurts, aches, and abuses, even in 
the dark days of her exploitation by Madame Lemine. 
It would have to be all-suffident again. 

Benny's death had been a crushing blow; Mervyn's 
defection had numbed her senses; yet now, at the end of 
this first day of tribulation, she was becoming reconciled, 
for she was convinced that her loss was indisputably 
Bennys gain. Life could never hurt him now as it was 
hurting her. It was hard to die, but it was equally hard to 
live when life was all awry. 

There was nothing left for her to do but lift her shoul- 
ders in that inimitable way of hers and repeat to herself, 
^'I am Jackie. I don't care," until the reiterated words 
inspired something of her old spirit of independence. 
She was Jackie. She ivould nH care. Mervyn had lost 
trust in her and she had lost him. But on that accoimt 
and because God had taken Benny, was she to lose coiurage 
and own defeat? It was not in her nature to capitulate 
to adversity. She had too much fight in her. 

No one should ever know how much she had cared. 
She would work harder, practise longer at her dancing, 
live only for the golden opinion of the public. What 
mattered it so long as she pleased them? There would be 


nothing to interfere with her stage career now — no 
home ties, no love-affair^ no marriage. 

Mervyn she would forget; marriage she would forgo. 
Was it not often said that love and marriage were the 
grave of an artistic career? And if her heart was lonely as 
the years went on she would adopt a little baby, the 
prettiest she could find: two babies, perhaps^ to be com- 
pany for one another. Pet animals would not suffice her. 
Her affections were too human and healthy to be satisfied 
by the strange idolatry which she had seen other girls 
lavish on their zoological freaks. No, she would have 
children — little babies to keep her spirit young and 
sorrow from her heart. She would have preferred that 
they should be her very own, but as that was not possible, 
she would have ''adopteds." In the meantime perhaps 
Sassoni's wife might be prevailed upon to let her borrow 
that most delectable dark-haired bambino. She mi^t 
forget her sorrows while she was on the stage at ni^t, 
but there would be many hours in the day when the new 
loneliness would be almost more than she could bear. It 
was those hours she must somehow fill. 

That night at the theatre she did not know Carter was 
among the audience. The news of Bennys death had 
grieved him; her letter had seemed so frigid. Yet he was 
impelled there to bid her a silent farewell. He had made 
arrangements with a yachting friend to go for a cruise 
which was to extend ultimately as far as Japan. It would 
keep him away from London, from cities and the news 
of cities for a year or so. In a year he hoped some of the 
bitterness would be effaced from his heart. 

So he saw her once more, dancing as blithely as ever, 
apparently as care-free as she had seemed on the ni^t 
following the disastrous scene at her flat. Even Benny's 
death did not appear to have touched her heart — ^e 


whom he had believed to be all heart. He could not un- 
derstandy he was not in the mood to imderstand, that her 
courageous spirit had risen above her private distress. 

This evening, indeed, she seemed to surpass herself. 
She danced divinely, but when Calderon, with fresh plans 
maturing in his mind, seeing visions of new worlds for 
her to conquer, sought her in her dressing-room after the 
performance he f oimd her sobbing her heart out. 

"Why, what's this? " he asked. "I thought oiu: Jackie 
was the happiest soul in the theatre. I came in making 
sure of it after watching )rou from the front. You were 
splendid to-night. Quite top-hole. What on earth has 
upset you, my dear? " 

Jackie wiped away her tears. 

" It was a weakness," she replied sorrowfully. " I would 
like to dance all night and never return to myself at all. 
I am desolate, Mr. Calderon. I have lost through death 
the dearest of my friends, and I am lonely in myself. 
Please to take no notice. I shall be more calm presently .'' 

The sobs that escaped her were like the little spas- 
modic gasps of a tired child tiying to desist from a fit 
of weeping. Calderon, accustomed as he was to the un- 
accoimtable and sudden outbmrsts of hysteria which ac- 
tresses are apt to indulge in, outbursts to which he was 
usually insensible, for once in a way felt a strong desire to 
play the comforter. But because of the discordance be- 
tween an endearing manner and the pursuit of business he 
checked the impulse and waited imtil Jackie was suffi- 
ciently calm to powder her nose, always in his experience 
a sign of the subsidence of feminine agitation. 

"Come and have supper with me and we'll talk busi- 
ness," he said. "Whenever I have a fit of the blues, which 
is n't often, I don't take a drink or call in the doctor; I 
look at my box-office returns. You can take it from me, 


Miss Jackie, that the best thing to live for is work. At 
the worst it only gives you a headache, never a heartache; 
and it never goes back on you like humans sometimes do. 
If you stick to business in a reasonable way you won't 
have any doleful hours. Make work yoiu: friend and it 'U 
turn out your comforter. I'm awfully sorry you're in 
trouble, my dear. Console yourself with the fact that the 
best artists alwa5rs have the worst woes. It's part of the 
make-up. If there were no bumps on the road of life 
there 'd be mighty little satisfaction in getting on to the 

His philosophy made Jackie fed better. She had not 
meant to let her troubles show, nor would they have done 
so if Calderon had not surprised her in a weak moment. 
He went on talking. He was not addicted to dressing- 
room chats, but to-night, seeing that Jackie needed en- 
couragement, he gave it her. 

^' Yes, the best way to take life is to regard it as a prize- 
fight," he afiinned. ''You've got to be game and keq) 
fit. You 've got to bring courage and a sporting outlook 
to it. You may get knocked out, for Fate 's a hard hitter, 
but there's always the chance of another fight another 
day and a full purse for reward. But it's no good going 
into the ring with a weak spirit or a flabby body. You 've 
got to keep timed up all the time. If every man or 
woman followed the right kind of mental and physical 
training there 'd be very few failmres and a lot of over- 
crowding at the top of the tree of life. As it is, most folk 
muddle along. The only ones who get there are those who 
mean to climb, even if they have to hack their way up. 
If the boughs are in the way they must be got rid of. 
There 's dear sky above, just as there 's the limelight for 
the winner in the ring. I'm talking a lot, Jackie, and 
my metaphor's getting mixed, but I want to see you 


outpoint all the others. You can do it if you keep your 
pecker up." 

Jackie smiled wanly. The spirit of emulation was 
normally strong in her, but just now it was torpid. 

** Mr. Calderon/' she said, ** I have lost a friend through 
death. I have also lost love. You have known I was 
fianc6e? Now I have no lover. That is my grief." 

"Dear, dear! That's bad. I'm sorry to hear it. Very 
sorry, indeed. But love isn't everything, though it 
seems so at the time. I've foimd that out. Some of us 
get it; some of us have to go without. I sometimes think 
that those who've learnt to dispense with it, like getting 
used to tea without sugar^ are the best off. In the end, 
you get to like tea unsweetened and wonder what on 
earth you saw in sugar. When I was a very yoimg man I 
fell in love with a girl, and although I was only in the box- 
office I built castles all over Spain for her. I told her that, 
one day, she should have a theatre of her own and be the 
big screech in it. That 's what took me into management. 
Now I own six theatres, two variety houses, and a sta- 
dium. Yes, I was going to put rings on all her fingers and 
bells on all her toes. But she could n't wait. She married 
a toming manager in a hurry so as to get the part of 
leading woman, but she got pneumonia instead and died of 
it. When I heard the bad news I thought I was coimted 
out. I got in a kind of a temper with Fate then. I stood 
up again and fought my demdest. And I won through. 
I've cut love out of my life, and yet I'm not lonely or 
embittered. I'm a successful man. I 've done what I ' ve 
set out to do. Yes, there are lots of other things in life 
besides love, Jackie. You 'U find that out, and some day 
you'll come and tell me so. Now if you're ready we'll 
get along to the Savoy." 

So Jackie^ instead of returning home, went out to 


supper with Calderon. He had been making big plans 
for her. D'Obusier from Paris had seen her and wanted 
to arrange with him to star her there. Then there was 
a similar offer from New York. Theatrical speculators 
from many lands had seen her Mariette and been cap- 
tivated by it. Her dandng, her miming, and above all her 
charm had delighted them. Her professional future was 
assured. Calderon saw the way to make an international 
star of her. When the run of '^Spatch-Cock" came to an 
end he would not be able to confine her to revue. Com- 
petition for her services would be too keen. The salary 
she would then command would expand — snowball 
fashion. She was his discovery, so he proposed to act as 
her agent. The arrangement would be of mutual advan- 
tage. She was not merely an actress of the adequate 
capacity that can be kept in a groove, one that can be 
moved from theatre to theatre in revue after revue imtil 
she became an institution and a habit. Her success would 
never be confined to London. Her temperament was 
far finer than that of most of her English contemporaries. 
Unlike theirs, her talent would stand the strain of trans- 
plantation and the exactions of critical Continental and 
American audiences. The only danger she ran was that 
of stagnation. Kept in one groove she might wear thin. 
Calderon was far-seeing. He meant Jackie to have scope, 
and through her to increase his own reputation and en- 
large his interests. Over the supper table he spoke to this 
effect, hopefully, encoxiragingly. 

"You're going to be something more than Jackie, a 
clever Uttle revue dancer at the Diplomats'. You're 
going to shine in more than one hemisphere; and it's a 
proud man I shall be when you've conquered both of 
them," he said in conclusion. 

His talk of expansion, above all of travel, fired her 


imagination and buoyed her up once more. She might 
grieve in secret for Benny : not to have done so would have 
been less than human. But for Mervyn (she assured her- 
self) she would not mourn at all. like Calderon, she 
would have no private life, no intimate ties. She would 
laugh and shrug and dance her way through life. Cali-* 
owska had surely spoken the truth when she had said 
that achievement could be attained only through pain 
and the renunciation of love. Calderon, in different 
words, had voiced the same sentiment. 

Perhaps all her inflictions — Bowman's threats, Mer- 
vyn's mistrust, the loss of Benny — were the dolours 
through which she was to reach the heights she had dreamt 
of; only, her gregarious little soul had been unable to 
resist sharing her dreams of happiness and prosperity with 
those she loved. It seemed so futile to have ambitions 
for one's self alone. Something of this she imparted to 

''Come, come!" he said. "You mustn't take such a 
hopeless view of the future. At your age, tool You 
underrate yourself and what you can do. Look at poor 
little Gaby des Lys. She worked hard, enjoyed herself, 
made a fortune, and left it to the poor. In her life and in 
her death she did more good than many a millionaire. 
There 's nothing to prevent you doing the same. When 
you dance it is n't only for a large salary. It does n't 
end there. You've charmed unhappiness away, if only 
for an hour, from many a carefilled soul. You've given 
pleasure to thousands. It is n't everybody who can do 
that. The lucky {>eople who by art or ability can charm 
others are the favourites of the gods. You need n't fret, 
little Miss Jackie; you'll never live for yourself alone. 
You're bound to give pleasure wherever you go. The 
Almighty did n't design every woman to make puddings 


and do washing. You keep on burnishing up your star. 
That's what you were meant for, I guess.'' 

Jackie left Calderon feeling greatly cheered. She was 
resolved to justify herself and his belief in her. Yes, more 
than ever now would she dance for all the world and be 
the friend of those multitudes whom she would never 
personally know. And her dear Benny, now with all space 
to roam in, would surely watch her efforts with approval. 
And then, of course, she would have those "adopteds." 
She had n't mentioned her heart-hunger for little diildren 
to Calderon. He might not have understood, for all his 
sympathetic attitude towards her. 

Already her mind was evolving a project which Cal- 
deron had set in train. Gaby, that inimitable one, had 
danced for the poor. She, Jackie, would dance for little 
children, thelielpless unfortunate ones. All her superfluous 
money should be devoted to the care of maimed children, 
poor broken dolls like ch6ri Benny. She would accimiulate 
all the money she could to establish a home for them, 
the sweet tlungs ! There was heart-healing in the thought. 
And that home should be a loving cenotaph to the memory 
of Benny. It should bear his name. . . . 

Every day of late on returning to her flat its solitude 
and the imnerving prospect of finding Bowman in it had 
always faced her. But to-night she was bUssfully free from 
both of these oppressions. On opening the door loneliness 
did not close down on her; she felt equal to confronting 
and resisting her blustering persecutor should he be there. 

But there was no sign of Bowman. Only a girl whom 
she had never seen before, — a fair, pale girl with himted 
eyes, and a woe-begone expression on her face, — who, as 
Jackie came in, started up from the chair she had been 
sitting in, ran towards her, and abjectly threw herself on 
her knees. 

"Oh, I thought you were never coming!*' she cried. 
" I went to the theatre, but they would n't let me see you; 
and then I came on here and I begged your servant to let 
me wait till you came in. Have you been with him all this 
time? Where is he now? Are you married yet? Oh, for 
God's sake, tell me I'm not too late!" 

What she meant or what she wanted was beyond Jackie. 
All she could do was to respond to the trouble in the 
stranger's voice and face. 

"Please to get up," she said, gently. "Do not kneel to 
me. I think that you do not know me and that you have 
made a mistake, but if you are distressed perhaps I may 
help you. That I will do wiUingly if I can." 

"But I do know you!" cried the girl. "I've heard 
about you often and often. You're Jackie, the French 
girl. And you 've stolen away the man I love. What have 
you done it for? You can't love him as I do. No one 
could. But he 's crazy for you, and he 's left me in spite of 
all his promises that he never would. This very morning 
he told me he'd got a marriage licence and that he was 
going to marry you on Friday. I 'm Milly Winter. Don't 
you remember my father? He plays Walcott in ^Dead 
Men's Shoes.' Now that he knows Bill does n't mean to 
many me after all, he 's nearly off his head. He sajrs when 
Bill comes back he'll kill him, and he'll try to, I know. 
And I shall put an end to myself too. If you've married 
Bill, I canH go on living. I'd far rather die. I'd far 
rather — " The words stuck in her throat. 

Halfway through the tumultuous statement, half 
accusation, half appeal, enlightenment had come to 


Jadde. Sbe icmeoibered Benny quaking aboat this gbl, 
and although her devotkm to Bowman stxack her as in- 
cooqxrebensibley she was sony for her. She led her to a 
seat and sat down beside her. 

''But you make a mistake/' she goitly ™as^<^ "If 
you love this terrible Bowman, who is all badness^ it is a 
calamity. But that you should think I am to be married 
to him is a delusion* You have said that you would sooner 
die than lose him. To you I say I would greatly prefer to 
be dead than to many him. I have told him so already." 

The fair words brou^t some rdief to Afilly, but she 
doubted whether she ou^t to believe them. 

''But you promised to many him/' she dedaied. "You 
must have! He said so. You wrote to him weeks ago, 
did n't yoUy and told him to come and see you? Youwon 
him away from me. I don't suppose you meant to do me 
any harm. Very likely you did n't know anything about 
me. But you could so esLsily make him want you. You're 
so beautiful. Now I've seen you for myself I don't won- 
der he never thought anything more about me. But after 
what I've just said you'll surely give him back to me! 
There must be so many other people who love you/' 

Jackie took her hand and stroked it soothing^. 

"You are what I sometimes become/' she said, "too 
much stimulate. Your feelings make you to boil over. 
If you will tell me about Bowman and yourself I will af- 
terwards make my position quite dear. Then we shall 
understand how we each are situate. At present it is a 
mix-up that I cannot understand. My poor Benny did 
tell me that Mr. Winter, who was dways so kind to 
him, had a daughter, but no more. Were you fianc6e 
to Bowman? If it is so, it is a pity, for I think you are 
good and he — " A shrug expressed what she thought of 


Milly wrung her hands. 

'^Bad or good, what does it matter? I love him. Just 
that. Can't you understand what love is? It doesn't 
weigh things up. It gives without thinking of the price." 

Jackie remained silent. She could not bring herself to 
discuss love with a stranger. Hers had been too recently 
laid to rest. 

"I'll tell you everything right from the beginning/' 
Milly went on. "I was fifteen when dad and I started 
playing in ' Dead Men's Shoes/ and I think I loved Bill 
from the very first day I set eyes on him, though it was 
child's love then. And it was n't because he was nice to 
me. One night I dried up; could n't remember a single 
word. Afterwards he sent for me. He was in a fearful 
temper and he hit me. I never told father. He'd have 
made trouble. But from that day — I can't explain why 
^— I was Bill's slave. I did n't hate him for hurting me. 
You won't believe it, but it made me love him more. If 
I 'd been a dog I 'd have licked his hand. You despise me 
for that : I see it in your face. You 'd never let a man treat 
you as Bill has treated me. It's all or nothing with me — 
body, soul, spirit." 

"It is a bad way to love," said Jackie, with a dis- 
sentient shake of the head. " Never should it be quite all, 
not even to a worthy one. It should even be possible to 
do without." 

"Ah, you've got pride. I have n't any. I can see that 
in the way you look, and the set of your mouth. If your 
pride was hurt you 'd never humble yourself to any one, 
least of all to a man. I'm different. Perhaps I have n't 
got much character. Bill says I 'm a fool. A sweet fool he 
used to call me when he was in a good temper. . . . Well, 
one day soon after he'd hit me he called me into his 
dressing-room and I expected the same thing — a row 


about something or other. But it was n't that. He kissed 
me. He said he wanted to make up for the last time when 
he'd been angry. And he called me 'sweetheart.' It 
was n't child's love I gave him after that. . . . 

''For a long time dad did n't see how things were going. 
He did n't imderstand I 'd grown up. It was six months or 
more before he had any idea. I did n't care what people 
said. The women of the company warned me against Bill, 
and when I would n't listen to them they dropped me. I 
did n't care. Who in the world did I want or care about 
except. Bill? I tell you I only lived for him. . . . Then, 
quite suddenly, he got tired of me. He got to know a girl 
in the town we were playing in and he neglected me for 
her. I nearly went mad with jealousy. I could n't kill her, 
so instead I tried to poison myself. Then dad found out. 
There was a dreadful to-do, and I was left behind ill in 
bed. I nearly died. It was weeks before I got better and 
when I returned to the company I promised dad I'd 
have nothing more to do with Bill. It was just after you 'd 
gone off with Benny, and Bill had been stabbed by some- 
body in the night. He always refused to talk about it. 
I never guessed who 'd done it imtil this morning. It was 
dad himself! At first I could n't believe it. ..." 

Jackie could hardly believe it either. She had so got 
it into her head that Benny had attacked Bowman in 
defence of herself that she had never suspected any one 
else. Winter least of all. She had to shut her lips tight to 
prevent herself asking a multitude of questions. 

"He would n't have told me if I had n't persisted in 
coming up to town to-day. I told him why. I said I 
meant to find Bill or see you and stop your marriage. 
Then he admitted what he'd done, and in his rage he 
said he meant to do it again and not fail next time. He's 
quite lost all control over himself. • • . But I did n't come 


here to talk about dad. I can't think of any one except 
Bill. When he came out of hospital all my good resolu- 
tions were forgotten. I wanted him more than ever. At 
first he would n't look at me, but after a time he changed. 
One night when we were out walking he promised to 
marry me; and that's what he would have done, I believe, 
if you had n't written to him. P'r'aps you did n't mean 
any harm. Perhaps you foimd him so fascinating — " 

"Fascinating!" cried Jackie. "Mon Dieu! To me he 
is a man to make one shudder. Now please to listen. You 
have a misconception of myself. Probably Bowman has 
lied. Never have I written to him or made a rendez-vous. 
To this day, I do not know how he discovered where I 
live. He came to me here. He made a claim to take Benny 
from me. But he could not find him because he was in the 
hospital to have a cure. Then Bowman made me threats. 
First he demand money. I obtain it to rid myself of 
him. Then he change his mind, and said he will not have 
money. He will marry me instead. It was madness! 
Rather would I be married to a Boche ! But to make time 
for myself and Benny to escape I let him think that per- 
haps sometime I may give in. But when next he came 
Benny was dead. That was this morning. So my fear of 
him has gone and I told him to go to the very deuce, and 
since then I have not seen him. Now that he knows he can 
do nothing with his persecution he will doubtless aban- 
don it. As for marriage to him, rest tranquil, it is impossi- 
ble. When he finds it is so he will doubtless return to you. 
But it is a pity that you wish it. I do not understand how 
an amiable girl like yourself should become attached to so 
bad a man. Most certainly he must be the brother of the 

Milly did not take offence at this downright opinion. 
Indeed it set her thinking. 


''I've heard father say he is the devil himself/' She 
gave a sigh and went on: "As if that could alter my feel- 
ings 1 Good or bad, I can't help loving him, and I suppose 
I shall go on loving him imtil I die — or he dies." 

"Then I hope" — Jackie put a deal of spleen into her 
tone — " that he wUl die. I hoped it at first for the sake 
of my Benny; now I desire it for yourself. I do not think 
it is a wicked desire." 

Milly ought to have been shocked, but somehow she 
was not. 

"It's no good hoping for anything," she said, despon- 
dently. "I don't know where he is or whether he '11 come 
back to me or not. I don't like to think what may happen 
if he gets back before I do. There's dad. It's impossible 
to tell what he might n't do in a fit of temper." 

"That he should be the one to hurt Bowman outside 
the siunmer-house on that night of May is an astonishing 
thing. If I had known! All this time my poor Benny 
believed — " 

Jackie came to a stop. It could serve no good purpose 
to tell Milly of Benny's strange delusion and self-accusa- 
tion. Nor was she particularly curious as to Winter's 
motive for doing Bowman an injury. She supposed and 
could easily understand that it was inspired by hatred 
and the desire for revenge. All the primitive emotions 
came natural to her. The primitive needs were hers also. 
One of them was sleep. It was past one o'clock. 

Milly intercepted the glance she gave at the dock 
on the mantelpiece, and hurriedly rose. 

"Oh, I didn't know it was so late!" she exclaimed. 
"Please forgive me for keeping you up. I'll go at once. 
I must catch the first train back to Haxworth in the morn- 
ing. That's where we're playiog this week. And thank 
you for being so sweet to me. I — I hated the thought of 


you before. I thou^t you were a cat and everything that 
is bad. I am ashamed. Now I know you're as good as 
you are lovely." 

She leant forward and Jackie kissed her. 

"Where are you going to sleep?" she asked. 

"I — I dcMi't know," Milly stammered. 

"Then you will stay here. There is room for you with 
me. You are so tired." 

Milly was dreadfully tired, but she had been prepared 
to walk about the streets until the morning in order to 
secure this interview. If, an hour ago, she had been told 
that she would be thankfully sharing the bedroom of " the 
French girl" she would have rejected such a ridiculous 

Jackie too was utterly weary. Her grief of the morning; 
her angry interview with Bowman; the strain of her per- 
formance; and then this long and trying talk, had nearly 
exhausted her. She could hardly keep awake. To make up 
the bed in Benny's room was beyond her. Her own was 
ready. So before long the two girls were dreamlessly 
asleep in it, and neither stirred imtil the morning sim 
filled the room. 

Milly was the first to wake. She sat up in bed won- 
dering where she was. Slowly her mind reshaped the 
trials of yesterday. It took her some moments to realize 
that she had spent the night with Jackie — Jackie to 
whom she had come to plead for the return of her lover. 
Last night seemed ages ago. Yesterday had been all 
tumult and despair. This morning she felt strangely 
calm. By some miraculous means the night had brought 
relief and comfort to her heart. She found herself thinking 
of Bowman objectively, without emotion of any kind, 
quite dispassionately. Where love had been there was 
a blank, something wiped out, as though it had never 


been. In its place was a sense of freedom, of returning 

Had her natiLre and her heart xindeigone a change in the 
night while she slept? It seemed so. Every moment she 
was more sure of it. One outstanding fact kept hammer- 
ing on her consciousness. She did not love Bowman any 
more. She did not want him. She no longer existed for 
him. Spiritually, mentally, physically, his domination 
over her had ceased Something evil had been removed 
from her life. 

Her sudden comprehension of this change was accom- 
panied by another feeling, ominous and yet relieving. The 
two intuitions were complemental and they explained the 
mjrstery of the alteration in her. Together they gave her 
the sense of certainty. She knew what had happened. 
Every instant she became more assured of it. 

Bowman no longer existed for her because he no longer 
existed for himself or any one else. He was no longer alive. 
Somehow, somewhere, he had died while she slept 1 

A merciful Providence had given her back her heart — 
the untainted, girlish heart that Bowman had stolen, 
trampled on, and despised. ... 


Sassoni's wife was setting her room in order. Her brown 
face wore an anxious look, for Pietro had been absent all 
night. The last time that had happened there had been 
trouble. Tl]^ police had come, asked many questions, and 
gone away reluctantly. This time they might come and 
perhaps not go away without Pietro. At ten o'clock last 
night he had left the house saying he was going to play 
cards with a fellow Italian. He was an inveterate card- 
player, but he seldom stayed out after midnight. Yet 
midnight and early morning had not seen his return. Per- 
haps he had had a quarrel over the cards and he or another 
had used a knife. Yesterday, she remembered, Pietro had 
been sharpening his. Also he had been cantankerous. 
All the afternoon and evening he had not been able to sit 
still. These signs in him had taught her to be apprehen- 

Apathetically she swept the dirty floor, attended to a 
number of small birds in cages (Sassoni was something of 
a bird-fander), fed her children, and set Sassoni's break- 
fast in readiness on the hob. 

Somewhere about seven o'clock he came quietly in. 
He was unkempt, with the look in his face of one who has 
been drinking heavily. 

"Dio miol" cried the woman. ''But what has kept 
thee? I have done nothing all night but repeat Aves for 
thy safety. Hast thou fallen among enemies? Or hast 
thou an illness? " 

"Shut thy mouth," he commanded. ''I was but col- 
lecting a debt last night." A slightly amused distortion 
of his lips indicated that he had done so successfully. 


"Well, have thy meal while it is hot." 

Sassoni shuddered at sight of the food, rose from the 
chair on which he was sitting and with gorge rising went 
outside. His wife nodded to herself. It was evident that 
he had taken too much to drink. He came back demand- 
ing coffee — black as his soul. She brought it to him, a 
little doubtful now whether the results of inebriation ac- 
counted for his ill-temper. There was somethyig else. Yet 
she dared not ask questions. The hot coffee seemed to do 
him good. PresenUy he was able to tackle his breakfast. 
When it was finished he pushed the plate away, leant 
back, took something from the sash at his waist, and 
threw it across the table. 

"Clean that." 

Her eyes went fearfully to it, to him, then to the door. 
She thought of the police. 

"Pietro," she whispered, "what hast thou done?" 

"Cleaned a rabbit yesterday," he answered with an 
ugly laugh. "What else? One would suppose thou didst 
think I had killed a man. What if it were the blood of a 
man? Only a doctor could tell. And not at all in two 
minutes when the blade is bright. Do as I tell thee. 
Make it clean." 

She departed submissively, and after a while brought 
the weapon back speckless and bmnished. Sassoni picked 
up the baby and dandled it on his knee, giving it the 
hilt of the knife to play with, guarding the blade. His 
wife watched his doings with alarm. At last she said 

" Pietro, I am cold with fear. Hast thou verily killed a 

Sassoni did not turn his head. He was regarding his 
yoimgest-bom thoughtfully. One day that tiny hand 
would be strong like his own, a man's hand, powerful 


enough to widd the knife which now lay heavy in its 
feeble grasp. 

"There was once a man/' he rejoined, abstractedly, 
''who was rich. He had fur on his coat and gold in his 
pocket, and a motor-car in which to travel at his pleasure. 
And it so fell out that this man made a bargain with an 
honest man who was poor and the father of children. 
The rich man promised the poor man five pounds for a 
service that he could render. After a time, the poor man 
faithfully discharged this service and the hour for his 
payment was appointed. For many hotirs he waited, but 
the rich man did not come back. He had no thought of 
payment. He was a cheat, without honour. The poor 
man became wroth. At great expense he was forced to 
make a journey in the hope of obtaining his money, but 
when he reached his destination the rich devil laughed at 
him and struck him and threw one miserable copper piece 
at him as a last insult. So the poor man made a vow to 
pay back insult for insult and blow for blow. And now, 
as I speak, he is avenged. The debt is collected. See." 

He thrust his hand into his trouser pocket and drew 
from it five crumpled notes. 

''And I am no thief ," he declared magniloquently. "In 
his pocket there was money enough to take us to Italy 
and establish us. Also his watch and chain were of gold of 
good weight, and there was a ring of value upon his finger. 
But none of these did I touch. They who find him will 
know that he was not robbed. I do not rob the dead. I 
am an honoturable man." 

He chucked the baby under the chin and gave it one 
of the Treasury notes to play with in place of the knife- 
handle. So he sat for a little while and then, his sickness 
having passed away, he washed, and changed his coat and 


'' Come now/' he said briskly. '' Put the little one in the 
basket and let ns depart." 

His wife stood cowering. 

''Darest thou show thyself in the street?" she queried 
apprehensively. ''If the hand of the law should fall on 
thee as we play the music! Art thou entirely without 

Sassoni squared his shoulders. 

''I have nothing to fear. I went, I came, and no one 
saw. Thou, thyself, knowest nothing of the man on whom 
I am avenged. How should the law discover an3rthing? 
Unless I were to tell thee and thy fool's tongue talked 
too much," he added as an afterthought. ''But if I were 
accused by the law I would speak openly of my vendetta 
and say what manner of a man he was whom I have justly 
slain. In the war that is past I killed better men, though 
they were pigs of Austrians, and was praised for it. This 
man was worse than a pig. He died too quietly. I do not 
think he felt pain, which is to be regretted." 

"But who was he?" curiosity made her ask. 

Sassoni had told her all he intended — just enough to 
make her imeasy and spoil her sleep o' nights. 

"I would sooner talk to a parrot than a wife," he 
replied flippantly. 

In the street he took the cover off the piano-organ, 
adjusted the basket between the shafts for his bambino, 
and signed to his wife to start. 

"It is a thousand pities thou hast the feet of an ele- 
phant and cannot dance," he grumbled, surveying her 
with husbandly depredation. "That nichilitit, Jackie, 
would have made our f ortime. There is more worth in a 
monkey with mange than a wife who is as heavy as thou." 

They tnmdled the organ along, Mrs. Sassoni harnessed 
like the beast of burden she was, in front, Sassoni push- 


ing behind. Sometimes his efforts were not conspicuously 

To-day for his own reasons he did not follow his cus- 
tomary route. He played in streets little known to his 
wife, and in time came to a standstill before a house off the 
Strand. One of its several doorplates inscribed (without 
any apostrophe) TOURING ACTORS CLUB showed 
that somewhere within the itinerant Muses revelled when 
not on business bent. 

With eyes uplifted to a row of windows whose blinds 
were drawn Sassoni set the organ going. It gave out a 
blast of opening chords and then settled down to a 
boisterous syncopated movement that fulminated riot- 
ously from wall to wall of the street. Faster and faster 
went the handle. It was Sassoni's to iriumphe to the dead 
— the dead, up there behind those drawn blinds, who 
could tell no tales. 

Very soon a policeman emerged from the house. He 
made a gesture that stopped Sassoni. in mid-bar and 
caused Mrs. Sassoni's knees to shake with fear. But he 
only smiled at the pair. He enjoyed seeing piano-organs 
and Italian folk about old London streets again. It was 
like the good old times before the war. He even foimd a 
penny for the baby in the basket, and patted its curly 
head. Then he addressed Sassoni, who had not turned a 
hair at all this attention. 

"Move along, sonny," he said genially. "There's a 
dead man indoors. Don't seem, quite commy-fo to play 
dance tunes under his window, more especially as he's 
been done in. Go a bit farther down, there 's a good chap." 

Sassoni showed his comprehension of the tragedy by 
vigorous nods, his sympathy for the victim by mournful 
si|^S; and then considerately moved on. 


Winter's hands holding the morning paper shook visi- 
bly. An appalled look was in George Measurer's face as 
he read over his shoulder. They were absorbed in the 
same paragraph, a report of Bowman's murder outside 
the Touring Actors' Club. The deed had been committed 
too late at night to permit of anything but a brief report, 
but such as it was, it affected them both indescribably. 

Bowman, whose identity had been established by pa- 
pers in his pocket as well as by the evidence of several 
members of the Club, must have been fatally stabbed as 
he was leaving the premises a little after midnight. He 
had been discovered, lying on the pavement in a pool of 
blood, almost immediately after the attack and carried 
upstairs to one of the club rooms, but had expired before 
medical help could be sununoned. An aspect of mystery 
surrounded the case. The motive of the crime had ap- 
parently not been robbery, for a considerable svaa of 
money and various valuables were found on the deceased 
man. So far, the police, who admitted to the absence of 
clues, had made no arrest. 

The paper dropped from Winter's nerveless fingers. 
He turned a scared face on Measurer. 

"Millyl" he gasped. "She went up to town — yes- 
terday — to — to try to see — " He could get no more 

Measurer was naturally aware of Milly's absence, but 
he had not known where she had gone or for what pur- 
pose. Winter's unfinished sentence told him. Of coiurse 
she had followed Bowman to London. The ominous fact 
filled him with consternation. 


"Where — with whom was she staying?*' he sta^i- 

"I don't know/' Winter wrung anguished hands. "Fm 
afraid — horribly afraid! Why isn't she here? She 
promised to be back by an early train." He looked at his 
watch. "It's ten o'clock. If it wasn't for that devil 
she 'd have been at home now. He 's dead, thank God, but 
he ought to have been put out of the way years ago. The 
hann he's done! If he'd come back I'd have killed him 
myself. I was waiting to do it. I was, by God! Someone 
else was ahead of me, that's all." 

His voice was raised in wrath and hatred. Measurer 
did his best to calm him. He could make allowances for 
Winter; himself had no liking for Bowman; but the man 
had already met his fate, and he was thinking of Milly. 

"She's sure to be back soon," he said as hopefully 
as he could. " Meanwhile, don't let your feelings carry you 
away. Best not to let anybody know them. I expect the 
police will come down here to make enquiries. If I were 
you I should n't let them know about Milly being in town. 
Her name need n't be brought into the affair at all. But 
if you go about talking it may." 

"Yes, yes, I know. You're quite right. You're a good 
chap. I 'U remember what you say. What I'm afraid of 
is that when she gets back and hears what has happened 
to Bowman she'll do something desperate. Then the 
whole story of his blackguardly treatment of her and her 
infatuation for him will come out." 

He continued to argue in this despairing strain until 
Measurer tactfully headed hun off it. There was another 
subject of prime importance to every member of the 
company except Measurer that required consideration. 
Bowman's death meant that their living was at stake. 
Measurer had not concluded his negotiations to take over 


the play and now might not do so. He spoke of this, and 
Winter listened listlessly. He was in the grip of a dtiU 
fatalism that made him indifferent to the affairs of this 

Milly's quiet entrance put a stop to the one-sided con- 
versation. She had walked from the station. In spite of 
Winter's preoccupation he could not help noticing the 
tranqtdl look in her face. Twenty-four hours ago she had 
left him in a frenzied state. Now she seemed quite calm 
and collected. There was a littie colo\ir in her cheeks, and 
her eyes were clear and imtroubled. He could not un- 
derstand it. To disturb her apparent tranquillity and in- 
flame his own feelings by plxmging into the catastrophe 
that had overtaken Bowman was more than he was equal 
to. After a moment of nervous vadllation he got up. 

"You tell her," he murm\ired to Measurer, and left 
them together. 

Obvious as her father's agitation was it did not appear 
to disturb her. This was not like Milly, as Measurer very 
well knew. It made the impleasant task bdfore him 
additionally diflicult. There was an exchange of greetings, 
constrained on his part, while she was taking off her hat; 
then picking up the newspaper he said: 

"Won't you sit down?" 

Milly dropped into a chair. 

"What is it?" she enquired, unrufied. 

"Something very unfortunate," he stammered. "It 
will upset you. I 'm awfully sorry, but you 've got to hear 
it. It — it 's about Bowman. Something — dreadful has 
happened to him.'*' 

"I know. He's dead." 

"You've seen the papers?" He spoke eagerly, relieved 
at her impassivity, believing she had already read of the 



No. Why?'^ 

"Because it's in here. Did somebody tell — ** 

"Let me see it/' she interropted, with her hand 

"Wait a moment, Milly. I'd rather tell you first. 
It 's not pleasant reading. I 'm afraid you don't realize yet 
what has reaUy happened. He did n't — die nat\irally." 

"Was he murdered?" 

She put no emphasis on the words. Measurer, unpre- 
pared for her inexdtability, was bewildered by it. 

"Then somebody did tell you." 

"No. I seemed to know all about it when I woke up 
this morning. I told Jackie so. The French girl, I mean. 
I went up yesterday on purpose to see her." 

"Not to meet Bowman?" he demanded. 

"Oh, no." 

"You have n't seen him, then?" 

"Of course not." 

"Thank goodness! " he exclaimed, more to himself than 

"I'm so glad I went. Jackie was so sweet to me. I'd 
been told that she was going to marry Bill. But it was n't 
true. He's been treating her worse, if possible, than he 
treated me. I found out all about him. I know now how 
blind I was. I can't understand myself." 

"You mean that you don't think about him — don't 
care any longer? " 

"Not only that. I'm ashamed I ever did care. Oh, I 
can't explain it I May I see the paper now?" 

This time he did not refuse it. While she read it he 
could think of nothing but the extraordinary change in her. 
It might mean so much to him. For that, apparently, he 
had to thank Jackie, whom he had frequently heard of, 
but had never seen. And that reminded him. Could this 


Jadde have been in any way connected with the mystery 
of Bowman's end? He asked the question. 

Milly put the paper on the table as though she took no 
great interest in it. 

"Oh, no," she replied. "She and I were in bed asleep 
when it must have happened." 

He was glad of that assurance. After a short silence 
he said: 

"I don't want to say anything uncharitable of Bowman 
now he 's dead. And yet imtil yesterday I suppose he was 
the only person in the world I had a grudge against. Not 
on my own account, but yours, Milly. I could n't help 
loathhig him because of the way he talked about you. 
He used to make my blood boil." 

A flush came into Milly's face. She looked down. 

"Mr. Meas\irer — " she began in an undertone, but 
stopped at his ejaculation of protest. "Well, George, 
then. You '11 think I 'm absolutely heartless. You know 

— they all know — how I let him trample on my feelings. 
I don't — I can't deny that I hoped he 'd marry me. The 
only excuse I have is that I was very young and he was 
the first man who ever made love to me. And yet now 

— although it's the solemn truth, and you'll find it hard 
to believe — I have no regrets that he's dead. All I fed 
is relief and — and thankfulness that he can't influence me 
any more." 

"/ think you heartless? No, Milly, you need n't excuse 
yourself to me. Indeed you need n't excuse yourself to 
anybody. I 've seen all along how you 've been victimized. 
I think everybody in the company has. I can't tell you 
how glad I am to know that you ' ve got to see it yourself 
at last." 

" I saw it before I knew anything about what is in the 
paper/' she put in hurriedly. "I'm quite sure now that 


even if he was n't dead my feelings would have utterly 
changed. It came to me — a sudden revulsion against 
him — as I woke this morning. I beUeve now that what I 
thought was a h\irt to my heart was all along only one to 
my pride. It was such poor pride that I did n't know I had 
any," she finished, almost inaudibly. 

Tears, penitent, self-commiserating, reactionary tears, 
stood in her eyes. Measurer could not withstand their 
appeal. He took her hand. 

"You've undergone an ordeal, Milly," he said feel- 
ingly. "But it's over. There's a good time coming." 

"I — I'm so lonely," she stuttered. 

"You shan't be, if I can help it. Won't you let me? 
You know I care for you, Milly dear, although you don't 
know how much. Won't you give me a littie hope? " 

He waited anxiously while she wiped her tears away. 

"How can I?" she murmured. "Would n't the memory 
of what Bowman used to be to me alwajrs be in your 
mind? How could you help looking down on me on ac- 
count of my past? " 

"A man does n't look down on the girl who happens to 
embody his ideal," he protested warmly. 

"But I'm not fit to be anybody's ideal!" she cried 
piteously. " It 's true I 'm not as bad as one or two unkind 
women in the company have tried to make out, but all the 
same I've been weak and foolish enough to deserve con- 
tempt Even my father was scornful of me for being so 
wei^ and making myself cheap. I don't understand — 
I 've always wondered why you 've stood by me and been 
my friend all through it. You've treated me with a 
beautiful respect that I've not deserved. It's what only 
a good girl ought to expect. And I'm not good. No girl 
who would let such a man as Bill make love to her and 
then throw her over could call herself good. No, don't 


stop me. It helps me to own myself in the wrong and 
repent of it. I feel I ought to, because of what you just 
said. I Ve no real excuse for myself. My conscience tells 
me so. I've been wicked and I ought to suffer for it. I 
can't put all the blame on Bowman — " 

But he did stop her. 

"Don't let us speak of him any more," he begged. "/ 
can forget him absolutely, just as you have. I only want 
to think of what you may one day be to me, Alilly. I 
want to do so much for you and your father, if you will 
only let me. I can nm a company of my own and give you 
the leading part. Your father must n't work any more. 
We '11 send him to some place where he '11 have a chance to 
get his health back. What do you say, dear? " 

"How good you are!" she said humbly. "But I can't 
let you do things for us. I believe I could care for you; 
but I could n't bear you to think — what everybody else 
will — that I married you to benefit myself, or even dad. 
As for the stage, I would give anything to leave it. I hate 
itl I have n't the ambition of the girl who means to get 
on. I've never felt the fascination of it. I've seen too 
much of its unpleasant side — its struggles and make- 
shifts — the aspect all the people who live and die touring 
in second-rate companies get used to, though most of 
them loathe it as much as I do. You have n't had time to 
do that. You don't really belong to the profession. You 're 
a gentleman. To you the stage has only been an experi- 
ence. If I were you, not dependent on it, I would buy a 
lovely little cottage somewhere in a village where all my 
neighbours would be my friends. And I 'd marry a loving, 
good wife, and have dear little children, and go to church 
onSimdajrs. That'smy idea of perfect happiness." 

In disparaging the stage Milly did not know she was 
giving Measurer an incentive to leave it. This expression 


of her feelings and the comparison between a theatrical 
life and a quiet country one, so unfavourable to the 
former, stirred him like the still small voice of conscience. 
She was near the truth in esteeming his connection with 
the stage merely an experience. It had brought him much 
disillusion. She could compensate him for that, however. 
Her eyes and her voice assured him of it. So without fur- 
ther hesitation he took her in his arms and she did not 
repel him. 

"It's my idea too — with you to share it, Milly," he 

"Oh, my dear, I ddn't deserve it," she murmured 
abjectly. ' 

Winter, returning just then, looked at them in stupefac- 
tion. He had expected to find Milly draining her cup of 
misery to the dregs. And there she was with an expression 
of entranced bliss in her face, and Measurer with the look 
of an accepted lover. 

Turning, Milly saw him — the father so frail and woe- 
begone who had loved and mothered her throughout her 
childhood; whose heart she had well-njgh broken. ... i 

With a little cry of penitence and love she left her 
lover's arms and ran to him^ hiding her face on his breast 


The bell tinkled and Madame Lemine, more obese than 
ever, waddled from her dingy parlour into the shop. Not 
so very long ago it had been one of Jackie's tasks to keep 
it dusted. Now dust held undisputed sway there. Other- 
wise it showed little alteration. 

Jackie took in the familiar scene at a glance. On the 
left, just by the door as you came in, there was the dimimy 
figure clothed in faded brocade alleged to have been worn 
by Beau Brummel. The material was ostentatiously of 
German make; its cut that of the Minories. Along two of 
the walls coat-stretchers displayed an anomalous variety 
of faded fancy dresses. The same wigs, a little more the 
worse for wear if anything, stood on blocks on the counter. 
Between them was the same showcase of stage jewellery. 
Jackie recalled the beating that Madame had adminis- 
tered to her for dressing up in some of these things, 
decking herself with paste diamonds, and dancing in them 
at the comer of Wardour Street. This she had done to 
gain coppers for flowers for a dead baby in the vicinity. 
More coppers than she expected had been forthcoming, 
but they had only gone to swell Madame's till. Neverthe- 
less here was Jackie, bearing no malice for thumps and 
disappointments, come to pay her a visit. 

Madame came forward peering imcertainly at the 
pretty face beneath a wide-brimmed, richly caparisoned 
picture hat. What could a young lady of such fashion 
want of her? No one so obviously of the moneyed world 
had crossed her threshold since that spring afternoon 
when a gentleman had come to make awkward enquiries 
about the devil-child, Jackie. 


''Madame, are you not delighted to see me?'' 

Jackie spoke in French, and her voice with its well- 
remembered cheeky timbre nearly startled Madame 
Lemine out of her senses. 

''That voice 1" she exclaimed. "But surely it cannot 
be Jackie? " 

The plumes in Jackie's wonderful hat nodded vigorous 

"But yes. I am Jackie and I am come back to thank 
you, Madame, for my early training. Without it I should 
not have arrive. At least so soon. Before long I shall have 
made my d6but in Paris and then in America. Solsaidto 
myself, go visit Madame in case before you can return she 
has died of apoplexy, being so fati "  

Jackie's eyes twinkled. In this environment of her 
early pains and pranks she could not resist being mischiev- 

"But in truth, Madame, I have come to render you 
justice for those lessons. The groundwork of technique 
was in them. Audagna has said that from them I gained 
much. Therefore I am grateful, even for the beatings when 
I made mistakes." 

Madame Lemine took a breath so big that she reminded 
Jackie of the frog of the fable, inflating itself. 

"Decidedly it must be Jackie," she puffed. "What 
other would possess such impudence? But how passes it 
that thou art dressed of such an elegance? And what is 
this talk of a master like Audagna? Where hast thou been 
since thou didst leave these tender arms?" 

Jackie made an amused grimace. All the tenderness she 
had received from those elephantine arms had been re- 
vealed in discolouration of her own slender ones. 

"Come into the little room and I will make you coffee 
and tell you all my adventures," she said. 


So once again, at the back of the shop, as in days 
of old Jackie made delicious coffee in a saucepan as only 
a Frenchwoman can, boiling it up three times and clearing 
it afterwards. She placed a steaming cup before her old 

''There, I have forgotten nothing,'' she declared, and 
sat down in the chair by the window where it was possible 
to breathe a little fre^ air. And as is the way with all 
those to whom time brings anaesthesia she forgot the 
worst of the unkindnesses and blows she had received, and 
remembered only the rare moments of well-being under 
Madame's roof. 

In her own picturesque language, which was French in 
construction and English in spirit, she gave the old woman 
a sketch of her career from the day when she was carried 
off by Bowman. Madame drank in the narrative. It 
soimded to her much more like a feuilleton out of the 
"Petit Journal" than a page of real life. And yet Jackie 
had left out a great deal. Not a word of her inmost soul 
did she reveal and she did not mention Mervyn. That 
was an incident, an interlude, something too beautiful and 
now too sad to talk about. 

When she had finished she opened her purse and laid 
notes to the value of fifty pounds on the table. 

Madame's eyes gleamed. Bu^ess had not been floiu:- 
ishing with her of late. For some time now gout had so 
crippled her that she could no longer teach dancing. She 
had disbanded her "adopteds." Very few of them had 
turned out good investments. Jackie might have done 
so in the end, but • . • 

And here she was, holding money in her hands. For 
about the first time in a hard-working, not too fortunate, 
and avaricious life Madame was inclined to believe in the 
goodness of hiunan nature. What else but goodness had 


brought this maddest of children, Jackie, to offer her 
money out of gratitude for the blows that had been 
rained upon her? ' 

''But what is this?" Her swollen, gouty fingers closed 
on the notes. "For me?" 

"Yes, for you. It is for my maintenance during my 
adoption and my dancing lessons. But principally it is as 
recompense for the money you should have obtained for 
my services. Now I render it to you. Please to accept it." 

Tears welled into the old eyes and trickled down the 
wrinkled cheeks, making a furrow in the grime that lay 
upon them, thick as the undisturbed dust in the shop. 
Tlie old voice lost control of itself. All quavering, it 
called down blessings on the head of the donor — her 
little one, so generous and so considerate. The clients did 
not come to shq> now. The stock was threadbare. No- 
body wanted instruction in dancing. And, for the rest, 
how could an ancient one crippled with rheumatism and 
gout give any? 

Jackie brushed aside Madame's thanks, and condoled 
with her on her misfortunes. She was genuinely sorry for 
her old tyrant 

"Have courage, Madame," she cried. "Am I not here 
to give you assistance? Count on me. From Paris or 
wherever else I go I will send you money. Am I not 
rich — rentier? Shut up the shop and the business. You 
shall not want." 

The shop bell tinkled as she spoke. Habit sent her to 
her feet to answer it. 

"Restez. I will go," she said, and went into the shop. 

A young man stood there. His pleasant face was clean- 
shaven; his well-cared-for tweed suit had seen better 
days. Jackie recognized the type, that of the provincial 
actor. With much hesitation, due to the siuprise which 


her appearance created in him, he desired to know 
whether he could be provided with a child artiste for jthe 
afternoon. He had seen the notice in the window. He 
wanted a dancer. It was an urgent matter. 

''I am sorry/' she said. ''Madame does not siq)ply 
artistes now. She has become too indisposed to train 
them. Perhaps if you go to the theatre agents in Covent 
Garden they will assist you. I do not know their names, 
but doubtless you could ascertain.'' 

The young man made a despairing gesture. He seemed 
to be in trouble of some sort. 

"I've been to them all. They've nobody I could en- 
gage because of the terms they ask. Unfortunately, I 
can't afford to pay much. That is why I came here." 

"I am sorry," Jackie rq)eated as he was about to go. 

Something in her voice stopped him, a compassionate 
note that he had not expected, any more than in this 
diQgy shop he had expected to be attended to by a 
beautiful girl dressed in the height of fashion. The 
wonder and a look of hopelessness in his face as he turned 
it to her again made her quite sure now that he was in 

"I shall worry through somehow, I suppose," he stam- 
mered. "I'm doing an open-air pitch on the sands at 
Southend. A portable show, you know. A morris-dance 
style of thing, with my wife for partner. But yesterday 
the poor girl was suddenly taken ill. The doctor says 
it's serious. . . • Well, I must keep the show going some- 
how, even if I have to dance by myself. If they won't 
stand that" — he laughed mirthlessly — "it'll be a case 
of begging in the streets. . . . But it's a bad lookout — 
for her. I'm sure I don't know why I'm telling you all 
this," he said, apologetically. " Something in the way you 
said you were sorry, madame, I suppose.' 



*' Your wife, what age is she?" Jackie enquired 


" And her iUness? What is it?" 

The young man coloured. "She's in bed. Mustn't 
get up." 

A look of comprehension sprang into Jackie's face. 
"Oh, but — !" she exclaimed and broke oflf. 

"Thanks very much. Good-bye," he said after a pause, 
and lifting his hat went towards the door. 

"Wait," Jackie called. 

He came to a stop, looking back. 

"Would you like me to dance for you?" 

"But — can you? " he asked, nonplussed, yet eagerly. 

Jackie nodded. 

"Professionally? . . . Really I . . . But I — I don't quite 
understand . . . Atid if you're a professional you'll of 
course want to be paid." The hopeful look of a moment 
ago changed to one of despondency. 

"I do not ask for payment. And I can only dance 
once — this afternoon. Will not tiiat be better than 
nothing? To-morrow you may engage a dancer for 

He advanced again to the counter. 

"You mean it? Seriously? You'd have to catch the 
one-thirty from Liverpool Street. That would give you 
time to get down to the beach and dress. I shall have to 
go by an earlier train to get things ready. We open at 
three o'clock. The west side of the pier. You'll see the 
name — *The Moriscos' — on the fit-up. You can't miss 
it. My real name is Chester. But I have n't thanked you 
yet. I don't know how to I It'ssimply ^lendidof youl" 
His face expressed a sudden doubt. "It — it 's rather like 
looking a gift horse in the mouth, I 'm afraid, but wt you 
really experienced? " 


Jackie's Vps twitched with amusement ^'No, I have 
not much experience, but all the same I can dance. I am 
one of the dancers in 'Spatch-Cock.' Is it enough?" 

"Great Scottl'^ Amazement was in the exclamation. 
"Enough? It's too much and to spare! A dancer from 
'Spatch-Cock' in a fit-up on Southend beachi You — 
you'll keqp the tide backl" His enthusiasm changed to 
something approaching awe. "Why, you must be firsts 
class! I've heard that all A. B. C.'s people are up to 
Russian ballet form! And you're going to dance for mel 

"As a little help for your wife who is — in bed," said 
Jackie awkwardly. "It will be a pleasure." 

"I'll tell her that," he murmured in a queer voice. 
"She'll be tremendously grateful — and proud. But 
what about a dress? She's much taller than you. I'm 
afraid her things would be hopeless." 

Jackie set his mind at ease about the dress and dis« 
missed him, almost jubilant now, with a solemn promise 
to catch the one-thirty train. Then she took farewell of 
Madame Lemine, cheerful again by reason of her un- 
expected windfall of fifty pounds, which she likened to 
the gros lot of a small Montmartre lottery of five-franc 
abannements to which she was addicted. 

It was just upon midday. Jackie drove to the Savoy, 
where she ate a quick lunch standing amidst the sea of 
empty tables, holding voluble converse in French the 
while with the mattre d^hdtd. From there the taxi took 
her to the theatre and away again with a bag containing a 
couple of her costumes and a pianoforte score of " Spatch- 
Cock" to Liverpool Street station, where she caught the 
Southend train with five minutes to spare. 

Nothing could have pleased her better than this sud- 
denly planned adventure. She was glad of the opportunity 


of helping any one in distress. In domg so she helped her- 
self. The distraction did a little to allay the fever of her 
own crushed hopes. Poverty and suffering never ap- 
pealed to her in vain. She pictured the actor's young wife 
in pain, disabled like her poor Benny: another broken 
doll. Oh, yes, by her art she could help in so many wajrs! 
Had not Calderon said so? 

She located the little theatre on the beach without 
difficulty and found Chester waiting for her in the canvas 
doorway. He looked tremendously relieved to see her. 

''I'm ashamed to say I was half afraid you would n't 
come," he said. ''It seemed too good to be true! I hope 
you won't mind this primitive dressing-room. I was just 
going to chalk up an announcement on this board and 
then remembered I had n't asked your name. What shall 
I put?" 

"Jacqueline de Brie, from the Diplomats' Theatre, 

The reply disconcerted Chester. 

"But I — I can't do that," he objected. "It mi^t 
get you into trouble. Suppose some one — " 

"But do not suppose," Jackie interjected. "I am 
veritably Jacqueline, and I dance to-day for yoiu* sick 
wife, my friend." 

The amazing truth staggered him. He had assumed her 
to be one of the actress's dancing supporters, not her very 
self. He stood helplessly gaping at her. Jackie took the 
chalk from his fingers and filled in the board with her 
name. Its effect there pleased her nearly as much as the 
electric sign over the portico of the Diplomats'. Chester's 
eyes were brimming as he carried it round to the front. 
There he heavily underlined the three words and wrote 
beneath them — For this Occasion Only. Never had he 
felt so elated and yet so humble. 


Before long a small but curious crowd gathered round 
the board. Jacqueline, the new and famous dancer of 
London, to appear in a booth on the sands! This was 
surely a hoax. But the small crowd swelled into a large 
one. The news spread. Soon every atom of space on the 
roped-in plank benches was packed to suffocation. People 
stood in serried ranks behind them; even the esplanade 
above was lined with spectators. 

While Jackie dressed she and Chester through the can- 
vas wall arranged their programme. By tadt consent the 
morris-dances were cut. They might have been a variant 
of the cavrcan for all Jackie knew. Chester proposed to 
confine himself to a pianoforte entertainment: songs and 
patter after the customary model, and not spoil Jackie's 
dancing by sharing it with her. He was proficient at the 
piano and he knew the tempo of most of the ^'Spatch- 
Cock " music. Certain numbers of which he was not quite 
sure Jackie hummed to hkn. It was probably the highest- 
speed rehearsal on record. 

Yet when the curtain was hauled up by a local stage- 
struck boy, who for sixpence a day was glad to associate 
himself however remotely with the drama, everything 
went with smoothness. Chester, stimulated by excite- 
ment, was in happy vein. His audience were in the best of 
humour when he struck up the number chosen for Jackie's 
entrance. They applauded her frantically. That she was 
no pretender was manifest to many among them who had 
seen '' Spatch-Cock " in London. They had no time to 
consider the why and wherefore of her appearance in 
these modest surroimdings; they were wrapped up in her 

And on that tiny stage Jackie, adapting her movements 
to its limitations, danced their hearts away. She impro- 
vised, she invented; she gave a fascinating di^lay of her 


art in miniature. For an hour at frequent intervals she 
came and went; and then heedless of Chester's expostula- 
tions went amongst the delighted audience with a soup 
plate and collected largesse. Money flowed. The plutoc- 
racy of Hackney and the Mile End Road were in gen- 
erous mood. The plate soon brinmied over. There were 
notes as well as silver in it, to which, unobserved, Jackie 
afterwards added a lavish contribution of her own. 

On the station platform, where Chester, overjoyed and 
almost stupefied, went to see her off, she would listen to 
no thanks. 

''Ne vous gfinez pas, mon ami," she said. ^'It is noth- 
ing. Not so long ago I was dancing to a piano-organ in 
the street for pennies. To-day it was pleasure, not work. 
Give my love to the little madame and my best wishes for 
her quick recovery." 

Chester stood hat in hand, his heart in his eyes, tiU 
the train passed out of sight. 

That night between the acts at the Diplomats' Cal- 
deron came into Jackie's dressing-room with a face as 
black as thunder. 

"What's this I hear?" he demanded. "It's going the 
rounds that you've been seen busking on the sands at 
Southend! Dancing to a penny crowd and taking round 
the hat! Is it true?" 

"Quite true," she replied, regarding the effect of a 
pencilled eyebrow in the glass. 

"But what for? Why?" 

"Why not?" 

"Good God! Do you think I pay you a hundred a week 
to make an exhibition of yourself in a hole like Southend? 
You 're engaged exclusively to me. At this theatre. You 
can't appear anywhere else without my permission. And 
you go and make yourself cheap on the beach at Southend 


of all places! It's enough to spoil your reputation and 
damage mine. You must be mad I" 

'' Calm yourself . It was not madness. It was for charity 
and a little diversion. The artist I wished to assist had a 
sick wife and no substitute. So I took her place for an 
afternoon, that is all. It was a total success." 

" That *s no excuse." The enonnity of her offence made 
him lose his temper. ^'I won't have it! It must n't occur 
again I You can't give freak performances just where you 
like. It's a breach of contract. You've made yourself 
legally liable to dismissal." 

Jackie boimced'out of her chair. 

''You would dictate in an affair where my heart take 
me?" she fired back. ''Your contract! What is it to me? 
I make it! I will myself break it if I choose! If I can 
benefit an unfortunate I will do so any time I desire. I 
am Jackie! I will do what I like! I do not care! I will 
say good-night to^^you, Mr. Calderon. And if you anger 
me I will not dance for you any more at all!" 

She flounced to the door, palpitating with passion. 

Calderon, who full of ri^teous wrath had come ex- 
pecting penitence, stood agape before this coimter-attack. 
The outrageousness of Jackie's tu quoque confotmded him. 
It was like an unexpected right hook that puts the re- 
ceiver "to sleep." His managerial authority petered out. 
What was he to do with a fiery little devil who for a whim 
would tear up contracts and forfeit her future? Appalling 
thought! His ire cooled on the spot. This explosion would 
be a lesson for him. He would be careful not to excite 
another like it. Jackie was n't a normal girl. He had been 
an incarnadined fool to think he could treat her like 
Claudia Day, a creature without a temperament. Better 
let Jackie go her own gait so long as she only followed her 
heart. He was n't going to risk losing her for an amiable 



indiscretion. Hang it all, he'd rather eat humble pie. 
He caved in unconditionally. 

''Oh, bless that heart of yours, Jackie!" he cried. 
''Come back and make it up. Forget what I said. I 
apologize. Dance wherever you like. In the moon or Mars 
or across the Milky Way. But I 'm going to manage your 
star, whatever it is I" 

Jackie smiled, laughed, forgave — and came back. 
With fairy-footed lightness she sprang on to a chair and 
dropped a butterfly kiss on the bald spot on Calderon's 

Her sovereignty was complete. 


There was an atmosphere of ripe dignity and subdued 
splendour about Sir John Grandison's studio. Its spacious- 
ness was not impaired by the museum-like redimdance of 
objects of art usually affected by fashionable artists. 
A few fine specimens of French furniture, Bayeux tapes- 
tries, and silken prayer-rugs on the parquet floor did 
not overcrowd it. A large model throne, a paint-cabinet 
in Chinese lacquer, and one tall easd were its only pro- 
fessional adjuoQCts. No litter of stacked canvases, sticky 
bottles of medium, dirty palettes, and discoloured brushes 
drew attention to the owner's occupation. The only 
picture to be seen was one on the easel, a narrow, full- 
length portrait of Jackie in dancing costume. 

Irene Grandison stood before it with her hands clasped 
behind her back giving it a long, contemplative scrutiny. 
She had seen it grow from its early roughed-in stage, 
during the long period of its development, tmtil now, when 
it was all but finished, and she had never tired of studying 
it in all these phases. 

Throughout the sittings Jackie had presented Grandi- 
son with a problem that would have been the despair of an 
artist of less ability than himself. Her sense of the dra- 
matic and her artistic perceptions had suggested a pose 
which she had held to perfection. Rather was it a poise, 
such was its suggestion of imponderability and resilience. 
Grandison had reproduced this to the life. It was all 
movement and it had all Jackie's physical grace. But 
until a little while ago her face had baflOied him. Its play of 
feature was as changeable as the skies. His difficulty had 
been to seize on any one of its fleeting aspects. In the end 


he had caught what seemed to hun to be its fundamental 
expression, an enduring wistfuhiess of the eyes. 

This expression Irene was now intently observing. 

^' John dear," she said, ''it's amazing I It's going to be 
the picture of the year. I believe it's better than the 
Cannencita, because it's all movement. I keep on feeUng 
that in another moment she'll spring out of the canvas." 

"Had n't you better get out of the way, then?" Gran- 
dison chaffed. He was lying at full length, smoking, on a 
gilded chaise longue at the other end of the studio. "It 
takes a Nijinsky to catch her in midair!" 

"But — " Irene paused, not quite sure of conveying 
what was in her mind. 

" But she won't. Is that what you were going to say? " 

"No. It's her expression I was thinking about. Do 
you know, there's something about it that's just the 
littlest bit not quite like Jackie. She looks as if she might 
burst into tears." 

Grandison nodded to himself. He was glad to have it 
confirmed that he had caught the look of elusive wistful- 
ness with which he had been confronted for so long. 

"I've never seen her look really sad," Irene piursued. 
"I don't believe she could be for more than two minutes. 
Even her break with poor old Mervyn did n't have that 
effect on her. At least she never shows it. If I had to 
describe this picture I should say it was that of a fairy 
with a soul that was hurting." 

"You would n't be far out, old girl. That sad look is 
always in the back of her eyes." 

Irene walked across to the chaise longue and sat down 
at the foot of it. 

"Strange I've not noticed it before," she said. 

"I only got it in yesterday." 

"You must have a sixth sense to have seen it I'm 


sure she isn't wonying about Mervyn as much as I am. 
Is n't it strange that he does n't write? Virginia has n't 
had a line from him since she left Enj^d. We can't 
imagine where he is. Is n't it a pity? It looked as though 
he and Jackie were goiog to be as happy as we are. But 
that's all over and done with now. I wonder which of 
them was to blame? I've never questioned Jackie, but 
I really think it's time I did." 

During the morning Jackie came to give Grandison a 
last sitting, and in an iaterval for rest Irene bore her off 
to her own room. Of late Jackie had exhibited an almost 
feverish gaiety. She seemed to do nothing but frolic all 
day and dance half the night. She had won an assured 
position in the public esteem, and to the world in general 
her life appeared to be as allegro as the music to which 
she gave such plastique on the stage. Success had not 
spoilt her. She played with fame as a delighted child 
plays with a toy. She went everywhere. She was almost 
as much paragraphed as Royalty and a great deal more 
photographed. She was becoming an arbiter of fashion, 
especially the fashion in hats. The '' Jacqueline" hat of 
tenuous structure and overwhelming brim topped by a 
riot of brilliant plumage was all the rage. There was also 
the '' Jacqueline" shoe, a high-heeled, half-slipper-like 
thing encrusted with imitation gems. Calderon, expert in 
the science of advertisement, had, of course, engineered 
most of this publicity. Jackie took it all as to the manner 
bom, but without pretension. To outward seeming she 
trod a path of roses. She seldom spoke of Benny, never 
of Merv3m. Both had epitaphs engraved on her heart 
under littie white crosses. 

After a general talk Irene said: 

''Jackie, before you came in John and I were discussing 
your portrait* I told him I had never seen the sorrowful 


look he's put into your eyes. Is it really there? Let me 
look. No, I can't see it. If your eyes tell anything it's 
that you're just glad to be alive, and that's all." 

Jadie pursed her lips in playful protest. 

'^Ohy but no, Irenel I am not so selfish. My heart is 
full of consideration for others as well. It has grown so 
big. I love all the world." 

^'But not anybody in particular? How about Mervyn? 
You did love him once, I know. Don't you care whether 
he's safe and well, alive or dead?" 

The question brought a fleeting spasm of pain into 
Jackie's eyes. Irene saw it come and go, and she knew 
now that Grandison's vision was deeper than her own. 

^'I have tried to make him dead to my heart," Jackie 
ajiswered, soberly. '' Why should I speak of it? If I cut 
my finger deeply and it bleed, do I go to every one and 
show my woimd and say, 'See how fast the blood flows'? 
I do not like the sight of the blood myself. So I bind it up 
and say nothing." 

''Then you do care and you're pretending all the time 
that you don't I Oh, Jackie, why? Did you quarrel? Was 
there a misunderstanding? You and Mervyn were simply 
made for one another 1 I'm sure of itl Won't you tell me 
what the trouble was, my dear? " 

^'I will tell you, but it is no use," Jackie replied, with a 
heavy sigh. 

And for nearly half an hour she opened the mausoleum 
that was her heart, lifted the little white crosses, and 
showed Irene the grievous relics that lay beneath. It was 
a long story. To extenuate herself and to make her atti- 
tude towards Mervyn convincing, she had to go back to 
her first meeting with him in Soho, and so through all the 
tribulations that Bowman had brought down upon her. 
She flayed her loyal little heart in insisting that her pledge 


284. JACKIE 

to Benny had imposed on her the seal of secrecy, so that 
even when all the evidence of Mervyn's senses was 
arraigned against her she had not dared to break it. 

When everything was told an obvious question jumped 
to Irene's lips. 

"But," die exclaimed, "when Benny was dead why 
did n't you immediately go to Mervyn and make a clean 
breast of everything? " 

"For one thing, because I am proud!" A little flash 
of indignation, the first she had shown, came into Jackie's 
face. "When that day Bowman had me in his arms and 
Merv5m suddenly arrived — Oh, Irene, if you could but 
have seen the way he looked at me! If you could but hear 
the name he called mel He had no more trust in me — 
me, Jackie, who adored him! That is why I could never 
afterwards go to him and kneel for forgiveness. He would 
not have believed. I had seen it in his face that day. 
But also I was not free from my promise to Benny imtil 
Bowman was dead, and that did not happen until Mervyn 
was far away. Even now, though I am free to speak if I 
wish, I would bite my tongue instead." Her voice shook. 
"He would not trust me!" 

" But he would now — if he knew what I know ! " Irene 
declared. "Try and make allowances for him, Jackie 
dear. Think how he must have felt! How he must have 
suffered! Oh, if I only knew where he was! To write and 
tell him how mistaken he was, and that you are blame- 
less! . . . Wait! I have an idea! The yacht he went away 
on belongs to a friend of my father's ... He's in Paris." 
She jumped up, seized note-paper and a pen. ''I'll ask him 
who his friend's bankers are. They^U know where the 
yacht is or where it's going! People on long cruises have 
to arrange with their bankers to send them money at the 
ports they mean to touch at. Circular notes, I think 




they 're called. I Ve done enough yachting to know that ! '' 
She jumped up again, seized Jackie in her arms and cried, 
"You poor UtUe darling! But it's all right! I'U find 
Mervyn for you, even if he's at the other end of the 

Grandison put his head in at the door. 

"Now, then," he complained. "Aren't you coming 
back to the studio, Jackie? I want to finish your portrait 
during my lifetime. Come along." 

Jackie kissed Irene and followed him out. She danced 
down the stairs into the studio and on to the model throne, 
settling into her pose with a joyful bound. Grandison was 
conscious of a subtle change in her, conscious of some 
alteration in her e]q>ression. 

"Paint out that sadness from my eyes. Grand- John," 
she cried, gaUy. "lam another Jackie now!" 


Virginia sat in the loggia of her house at Yonkers. To 
be precise it was Sam's house. If the term ^'clod" had 
ever fitted him, which is doubtful, he certainly had not 
manifested anjrthing of the clod's stupidity in the choice 
of an abode for Virginia and himself. It was an entirely 
delightful house, pleasantly old-fashioned, and its trd- 
Used front was just now breaking out into the delicate 
green and pink of japonica. A superb view of rolling 
woodland, silvery river, and distant purple hills faced Vir- 
ginia. She often compared this satisfying prospect with 
the view at Grange Sutton or Blenshay House, those trim 
but restricted demesnes of her titled days, and not to 
their advantage. The fact is that Virginia had reverted 
to type and done so as naturally as a duck deprived of 
water revels in it once more. 

She was thinking regretfully of Sam cooped up on such 
a fine spring day in his office in New York, unable except 
at week-ends to share with her the best hours of this 
sylvan existence, when she observed a tall man slowly 
making his way up the drive. Sam was tall, but he was 
also stoutish, and she did not therefore jump to the con- 
clusion that wishing for his presence had resulted in a 
pleasant miracle. This man was very thin and he did not 
walk with Sam's firm tread. The brim of his hat shaded 
his face, and as the sun was in Virginia's eyes she did not 
apprehend who he was until he got within twenty yards 
of her. Then, with a low cry of surprise and pained con- 
cern, she started out of her chair and hurried to meet 


'^Mervynl'^ she ezdaimed. "Is it really you?" 

Carter smfled wanly as he kissed her. 

" No, only a caricature just now, Virgie. But I dare say 
I shall improve before long. Well, how are you? And 
how's Sam?" 

" Oh, never mind us," she replied fretfully. " Come and 
sit down. You look frightfully ill!" She held his arm im- 
til he was safely ensconced in one of the deep chairs in 
the loggia. "Where hofoe you been all this long while? 
It's nearly a year since I had a line from you. What has 
happened to you?" 

"Nothing very much. Cruising about the Seven Seas. 
Lotus-eating most of the time. I'm just tired, Virgie." 

"But you're so appallingly thin. You look so weak. 
You look as if you badly wanted nursing and feeding up. 
Now at last that you are here you 'U of course stay and 
get strong." 

"Thanks, but I'm afraid not," he said languidly. "I 
had to come to New York to see about one or two business 
matters. I only heard on my arrival two days ago that 
you and Sam were married and living here. I thought I 'd 
come and look you up before I leave." 

"Leave I After two days! You really ought not to, 
Mervyn. You don't look fit to travel." 

" I 'm not fit to stand the push and bustle of a big dty, 
my dear. Although I got a touch of malaria in Honduras 
I 'm not really a sick man. At least not physically. 'Dis- 
gruntled ' is the word that best expresses my particular 
state. The sea is the best remedy for it. The yacht's at 
moorings in New York Harbour. I've arranged to rejoin 
her at the end of the week. I shall be glad to get away from 
civilization again. I have n't the heart for it now. . • . 
When a man of my age gets the measles — or falls in love 
— it always takes it out of him. . . . But I 'm ever so glad 


to see you looking so liappy, Viigie. You're a different 


"I've shed my prickles, Mervyn." 

"They were only heraldic ones, conferred like your 
coronet, not inherent." 

"I try to think so. I hope so. It took me ten years — 
ten long wasted years to find it out, though." 

"You can afford to forget those years. You've got 
Sam. Good old Sam!" he exclaimed softly. "I shall be 
glad to see him again." 

Virginia gave him a tender glance, partly in return for 
his eulogy of Sam, restrained in expression thoug^i it was, 
partly for his own sake. His appearance grieved her. 
He looked so broken and careworn. Sisterly compassion 
and feminine curiosity struggled within her for mastery. 
She wanted so very much to hear him speak intimately of 
himself; she wanted a disclosure of the reasons of his long 
absence and his long silence, both of which she very well 
knew bore upon his attitude towards Jackie. She waited 
for this disclosure as patiently as she could, knowing 
that his reticence was not to be forced. 

"Yes, I'm lucky to have Sam," she gladly admitted. 
"Do you know, Mervyn, I can hardly realize that a year 
ago I was an English countess. It seems like a dream, an 

"We all have illusions," he said, with a grave nod. 
" The worst of it is we never recognize what they are until 
they are gone. You're well off, Virginia. Your illusion 
was easily got over. It was only a case of misdirected 
ambition. You thought you were cut out for an exalted 
position. At least you've had the satisfaction of ex- 
periencing what it was like. You 've had your triumphs. 
You 've been to the top of the ladder you set out to dimb. 
You 've gathered your sheaf of sodal bays. You ' ve tasted 


the joys of achievement. And now you can look back with- 
out any r^ets, except for the loss of a few years that you 
can easily spare. Some of us are not so fortunate." With- 
out any appreciable pause he added: '^Do you ever hear 
of Jacqueline? " 

The abruptness of the question took Virginia by sur- 
prise. She had expected to approach that subject only 
by subtle degrees. 

"Yes," she stammered. "She's in Paris. We saw her 
there — Sam and I — in December. Not to speak to; 
only at the theatre. She was just as great a success there 
as in London. They idolized her." 

"Has she married?" 

She made an attempt to read his face, but it told her 

"From what I know of her," she said pointedly, "she's 
as little likely to do that as you are." 

" What y(?tt know of her! What can you know? YouVe 
only spoken to her once in your life." 

"But I constantly hear of her. Irene writes me. I 
had a long letter from her all about Jackie less than a 
week ago. But you must have heard from her, too." 

"No, she has n't written to me. Nor I to her. Besides, 
I've been out of the track of letters." 

"I know she wrote to you through your bankers. To 

"We did n't touch there." 

"But surely her letter would be forwarded on to wher- 
ever it was you were going next? " 

"Probably it was. But we made a complete change of 
route. After leaving San Francisco we went through the 
Panama Canal and on to Honduras instead of to Callao as 
we intended." 

An exclamation of disappointment broke from Virginia. 


"Don't distress yourself, old girl," Carter said. "I 
shall get Irene's letter some time or other. I don't sup- 
pose there was anything in it of vital importance." 

"But there was! It was all about Jackie!" 

Carter gave a resigned sigh. "Now you're distressing 
me. You don't mean to, I know. It has been difficult 
enough to drill myself to take only an extrinsic interest 
in Jackie. My enquiiy about her did n't mean more than 

Virginia leant forward in her chair and spoke incisively: 

"Tell me, Mervyn. Do you care nothing more about 
her? Have you no love left for her at all? Honestly?" 

It seemed an age before he answered and then she saw 
by his face the effort it cost him. 

"No, Virginia, I don't say that. I wish I could. I 
should be a happier man. Unfortunately I have n't the 
blessed capacity of deceiving myself. I envy the people 
who can." 

"But you do deceive yourself! You made a hideous 
mistake about Jackie. All this long while you've been 
doing her a terrible injustice. That is what Irene ex- 
plained in the letter you never got." 

But she spoke to deaf ears. Carter, with that dreadful 
picture of Jackie l3ang quiescent in the arms of an un- 
speakable man burnt into his brain, answered her with 
sceptical bitterness. 

"Irene may explain, but to convince me that the mis^ 
take is mine is beyond her." 

"Then let me try," Virginia pleaded. And though she 
had to do it tmder all the disadvantages of second-hand 
knowledge, regret for her tmcharitable treatment of 
Jackie made her eloquent. She revealed Bowman's sin- 
ister designs; accotmted for his presence in her flat, and 
gave him the true explanation of the miserable situation 


that ensued there. She made every allowance for Jackie's 
obdurate refusal to defend hersdf , and by implication 
reproached Carter for his want of faith. Jackie could not 
have pleaded her own cause half so well. 

''What stands out is this/' she asserted in conclusion. 
"Jackie has all along been the victim of her own loyal 
little heart. She's as good as gold. I misjudged her. You 
condemned her unjustly. Won't you admit that and ask 
her forgiveness? I lost ten years of my life through a mis- 
take; you've been let off with only as many months. 
Don't tempt Providence, Mervyn. I do so want to be the 
one to bring you and Jackie together again, because it 
was I who tried so hard to keep you apart. You say the 
yacht is waiting for you. Why not go straight back to 
Europe to her — and to happiness?" 

Her final appeal eluded Carter. He was too startled by 
her disclosures about Bowman to think of anything else. 
He did not question their truth, but his mind was numbed 
by their relation. His soul shivered at the thought of 
what this man's domination had meant to Jackie and 
what it had inflicted on himself. The light of truth had 
come upon him too abruptly. In spite of his denial he was 
really ill. Physical infirmity reacted on his mind. His 
confidence failed him. He had done Jackie a wrong that 
agonized him, but could he retrieve it? Shame and de- 
pression, bodily and mental, answered in the negative. 

''To ask her forgiveness is the least I can do," he said, 
forlornly. " And although I do not deserve it I know she 
will give it. But what else is there? Perhaps her pity; 
certainly her contempt. Scorn was in her voice that day 
when we parted. I hear it still; I am always hearing it. 
Well," he sighed, "she deserves a better man than I. It 
would be strange if , by this time, she had not come aaoss 


"Oh, don't talk like that, Mervynl" Vu'gmia exposr 
tulated. "Where has your courage gone? Jackie loves 
you. Irene is sure of it." 

"A woman's special pleading, Virginia," was the hope- 
less rejoinder. "No, I can't go to her. It would hurt too 
much. And it would only distress her. But you can do me 
a favour. Will you write and tell her that I know all and 
that I am — abject? " 

The relevancy of the word almost made Virginia lose 

"But if I can bring you proof of what I say: that you 
are wrong: that she still cares for you? What then?" 

For one short moment an eager look came into Carter's 
face and then it died out. 

"Don't raise false hopes, my dear. Life does n't pan 
out like a story-book. Its bitterness and disappointments 
don't permit of happy endings. That is why we drug our- 
selves with pleasant fiction in order to forget painful 
realities for a little while." 

Virginia laid a soothing hand on his shoulder. 

"In the Book of Life there must be many happy end- 
ings," she asserted, with quiet conviction, " or there would 
be no Paradise. Have f aith, Mervyn." 

Virginia had not exaggerated when she said that Jackie 
was idolized in Paris. London may have adopted her, 
but Paris claimed her as its own. Was she not French? 
Were not her father and brothers sacrificed on the altar 
of patriotism? Had not her mother been made a fugitive 
by the sales Baches f These credentials, supplied by Cal- 
deron in advance, had ensured her a welcome. Her charm, 
her beauty, and her talent had made of that welcome a 
triumph. From the first, Paris had acclaimed and adored 
her. Her opening season had had to be prolonged. Her 
salary had been doubled. She drew crowds; she was the 

She had a multitude of friends all of whom were her 
admirers, but her virginal heart tolerated no lovers. 
%e lived to give pleasure. Her dancing was now better 
than ever; her dramatic ability seemed to grow and grow. 
Her reputation was not of the theatre only. The "Jac- 
queline hat" and the "Jacqueline shoe" had a suuisfou. 
Her hats especially appealed to every Parisienne. They 
revolutionized the millinery trade. They were immense, 
they were picturesque, and they brou^t grist to the mills 
of die couiuriires of the Rue de la Paiz and the Rue Cas- 
ti^one. Her taste in dress was approved in the Quartier 
St-Crermain and travestied at the Bal Bullier. 

At this time Jackie was devoting more and more of 
her large salary to charitable purposes. Her benefactions 
were made covertly, but it soon came to be known that 
she never listened to a tale of pity tmsympathetically . Yet 
she was so loved and esteemed that she was not unduly 
duped by those whose business in life it is to impose on the 


generous. Moreover, her common sense and an innate 
capacity for sifting the good from the bad and the false 
from the true safeguarded her from extortion. Her pri- 
vate reputation was unassailable. Scandal passed her by. 
Finding that her reputation was irreproachable, Parisian 
society opened its doors to her. This was a phenomenal 
departure; for in Paris, outside of Bohemian drdes, the 
actress is not "received." 

In Paris Jackie did not forget her promised cenotaph 
to the memory of Benny. She established a small home 
for crippled children with the idea of enlarging it as her 
income increased. Every day she spent an hour there. 
The little ones adored her, called her " Petite Maman.'' 
The endearing term was more to her than the applause 
she got at night. 

She wept when at last Calderon bade her prepare to 
leave Paris. 

"But I am domiciled here! " she declared. "How can I 
depart and leave my babies and all my friends? " 

"They'll wait for you," he promised. "There's no 
reason why you should n't make Paris yoi^ headquarters; 
but I 'm under contract to present you across the water. 
You've made good in London and here. But you can't • 
wear the blue ribbon of imiversal trimnph till America has 
sat in judgment on you. You must have the New York 
hall-mark. A London reputation is all very well. Once 
you've taken London's fancy it will go on believing in 
you and applauding you even if you developed web-feet. 
There's no discrimination about London. I say that, 
although I'm cockney-bom. Paris is infinitely more 
critical; but being French, half your battle was won here 
in advance. In America, the fact that you 're Jacqueline 
from the Diplomats' Theatre, London, and the Alcazar, 
Paris; won't of itself ensure you success, You've got to 


earn it there. America's the land of the free and unprej- 
udiced. It's mighty hospitable, but in art it's exact- 
ing. You can't plant duds in America, though Amer- 
ica does that pretty frequently in England. As far as 
you are concerned I've no fears. So we're sailing next 

Jackie made ready after that. Deep in her heart she 
had a tender regard for America and everything American. 
Was not her lost Merveen indigine to that vast country 
across the sea? She wondered whether by any chance he 
would be in New York when she opened there. She won* 
dered whether he and she would ever meet again. She 
wondered . • . and told her heart to be still. What was the 
good of wondering? The past with its episodic idyll was 
done with. Now, like Caliowska, she lived solely for her 
art. She schooled herself to believe so, at any rate, but 
in her inmost heart she knew, as every woman fully en- 
dowed with the attributes of her sex knows, that art alone 
cannot satisfy all the yearnings of nature. Art in her case 
had now become a makeshift, a pretence. It was^good to 
possess talent, and through it to give pleasure to others; 
but how infinitely more desirable was love! — love and a 
home and children ! Like the Princess of Rossetti's poem, 
Jackie, although far from being king-descended, envied a 
peasant with a baby at her breast. . . • 

In April of that year she sailed from Cherbourg. The 
vastness and the m3rstery of the ocean were an endless 
source of wonder to her. She would sit on deck by the 
hour watching its ever-changing permanence; the scream- 
ing sea-birds of yesterday, to-day, and to-morrow; the 
momentum of the long titanic rollers that came from 
nowhere and disappeared nowhither; the sapphire of their 
depths and the delicate green of their crests. She dis- 
covered elemental music in the throb of the screw and the 


twang of the wind in the wire stays. Passing vessds 
greatly stirred her imagination. She held silent commun- 
ion with their unseen human freight; knew she was think- 
ing their thoughts, sharing in a reciprocal speculation. 

Once in mid-ocean she was accorded the imforgettable 
view of a large and beautiful auxiliary yacht on its way 
to some European port. The day was fine and clear; the 
distance between the two ships no more than half a mile. 
The yacht under a doud of dazzling white canvas canted 
to the steady breeze so that her deck was visible. Jackie 
could distinguish several figures on it, particularly those 
of three men amidships. One of them lay on what ap- 
peared to be a camp bedstead. When the liner's flag was 
dipped to the white ensign flying at his vessel's gafi this 
one slowly raised his cap. 

That salutation stirred Jackie strangely. It seemed 
personal, for her alone. It aroused in her that vague, 
mysterious sense as of things previously known and 
experienced, of a spiritual convergence with something 
afi^tive, something dear. She felt a tightening of the 
heart, she knew not why. And when the yacht passed out 
of sight, a white speck glittering in the sun, her eyes were 
wet with tears. 

Thus all unknowing did Carter and Jackie, playthings 
of Destiny, impend on one another amid a waste of 
waters and diverge again. 

In New York Jackie's success was oystallized. Noth- 
ing like her had been seen there before. To a public 
surfeited by ballet, Italian and Russian in succession, she 
was a welcome novelty. Her dancing, though based on 
both styles, was unlike either. It was less academic, more 
irresponsible, acutely personal and joyous. "Aa elf come 
to life," "a flower in motion," were two of the many 
phrases used to describe her. She was delighted by the 



chorus of favourable opinion; she enjoyed life hugely in 
New York. 

One hot afternoon at the beginning of Jtme, on her 
return to the hotel where she was staying, she found Vir- 
ginia awaiting her. Memories of their stormy meeting 
eighteen months ago in Mervyn's flat made her a little 
dignified. She knew nothing of Virginia's re-marriage; 
she had not even heard of her departure from England. 

Virginia's frigid manner was a thing of the past; she 
had shed it with her title. At Jackie's entrance her hand 
went out and a friendly smile came into her face. 

''You are wondering that I should come to see you/' 
she said on a note of contrition. ''Will you be generous 
and try to forget that you have a grievance against me? " 

" Madame la Comtesse, I am not such a gavroche/' was 
Jackie's rejoinder. 

"I am ashamed of ever having called you that. It was 
horribly vulgar of me. I am here partly to apologize for 
it But please do not give me a title. I am plain Mrs. Sam 
Curtis now. I have married again, and I live at Yonkers- 
on-the-Hudson, a little way out of the dty." 

Virginia's humility extinguished every atom of Jackie's 

"I hope you are very happy," she said: and added 
demurely, "and I also ask your pardon for those cab- 

Virginia thanked her, made light of the cabbage in- 
cident, and then said: 

" May I speak to you of my brother — of Mervyn? " 

Jackie tightened her lips. 

" I hope he is well," she murmured after a pause; and as 
Virginia was not ready with an answer she was impelled 
to ask, "You have had news of him?" 

"He was here two months ago." 



"In April He left New York for England in the 
Vettura, a friend's yacht, on the 3d.'' 

Jackie's heart beat tumultuously. A frantic calcula- 
tion was going on in her mind. A yacht westward-bound 
on the 3d of April from New York would be in mid- 
Atlantic about a week later. That would make it the nth. 
It was on the nth of April — for some unknown reason 
she had made a mental note of the date — that she had 
watched with such strange fascination and incomprehen- 
sible pathos the passmg of a big white yacht! She knew 
now why she had been so moved; why the tears had welled 
into her eyes! She knew — she was certain — that a kind 
and yet a cruel fate had for a few fleeting minutes per- 
mitted her a distant view of one whom she had once so 
dearly loved — whom she would always love in spite of 
everything! She was^assured that his salutation had been 
meant for her, little as he could have intended it. And 
then as she recalled his posture, almost flat, there came 
to her the dread conviction that he must have been weak 
and ill. 

"You have not yet told me how he is!" she cried, im- 
petuousl> . 

"I came to tell you and to give you a message from 
him," Virgioia said. "I should have come before had I 
not been away. Mervyn is the ghost of his old self. I 
hardly recognized him when he came to see me. He had 
been down with fever. His spirit seems quite broken. For 
nearly a year he has been at sea, out of the world. He 
asked about you. I could only tell him you were in Paris. 
It was all I knew. But I told him what I had heard from 
Irene — how she had discovered the cause of your mis- 
understanding with him. I gave him the whole story. If 
you could have seen the self-reproach in his face! He 


wants your forgiveness. He asked me to write and say 
that, now he knows everything, — the truth, — he is abject. 
He said he could not face you himself. He was afraid of 
your contempt I did write to you, but you must have 
left Paris before my letter got there. I see by your face 
that you never received it. But Mervyn loves you. I asked 
him and he could not deny it. Perhaps he meant to tell you 
so himself when he got back to Europe. He was so anxious 
to be gone. He knew no more than I did that you were 
coming over here. And since then — since he arrived in 
London — he has been ill. Oh, so ill! This morning I had 
a cable from Irene. He is no better. Indeed, he is worse. 
Oh, my dear, if you still care enough, do go to him, I beg 
of youl If you have it in your heart to forgive him, to tell 
him so with your own lips, it would mean so very much. 
I believe he would get weU again. I do, indeed! Can you, 
will you go? " 

Jackie had risen to her feet when she asked her ques- 
tion. Anxiety had kept her standing. When Virgroia 
spoke of Irene's cable her heart turned to water. Mervyn 
ill! Mervyn perhaps at the point of death while she, as 
though nothing else mattered, had been dancing for the 
edification of a world of strangers! A great sob shook 

'^I will go to him at once!" she cried desperately. 
''Oh, madame, say that I shall not be too late!" 

Thankful that her persuasion had so quickly succeeded, 
Virginia spoke hopefully and cahned her fears. 

''The Laurentia sails to-morrow. Can you be ready in 
time?" she asked. "Can you cancel your engagement? 
What will your manager say? " 

What did managers matter to Jackie? Nothing mat- 
tered! She would have broken her faith with God to save 
her Mervyn! 


"Yes, yes," she fretted. "Shall I cable to him that I 

"I will do that. I 'U let Irene know." Virginia moved 
to the door. "I must n't delay you. Jackie, wiU you kiss 
me? " she asked, contritely. 

Jackie opened her arms. 

While Virginia was descending in the lift Jackie burst 
in upon Calderon who had a suite of rooms in the hotel. 

"HuUo! What's up?" he demanded. 

"It is to let you luiow that to-night I dance, but to- 
night only! To-morrow I go to London!" 

Calderon was astonished, but he did not protest Once 
before he had done so and come off badly. He took it for 
granted that Jackie had some weighty reason for wanting 
to get away. She had never previously shiiked a per- 
formance. She had an ironbotmd sense of duty. Some- 
thing stronger than duty must be behind her amazmg 
decision, some overruling motive comparable to the one 
that had fired ambition in himself twenty years ago to do 
great things for the woman he loved. Love, the lodestar 
of the world, must surely be plucking at Jackie's heart- 
strings now. It was the only influence that could explain 
her state of excitation. 

But her sudden determination to leave America did 
not impose on him the catastrophe it implied. Indeed, it 
almost squared with his own inclinations. For more than 
a week past he had been considering the advisability of 
bringing her New York engagement to a dose. The 
weather was beginning to be oppressive. Peoi^e were 
going out of town. Soon New York would be empty and 
business would flag. He was anxious to get back to Lon- 
don himself . His mmd was occupied with his next big 
scheme — a colossal production, a super-ballet — which 
was to provide Jackie with her apotheosis. 




'All right," he said. "But won't you tell me what's got 
you all of a sudden? " 

"I am in grief/' she lamented. "I fear to lose one so 
dear to me. Oh, my friend, let me go I" 

Calderon took her hands. 

"I won't keep you," he said. "And calm your fears, 
little girl. You've always told me that God is good to 
Jackie. I can well believe it. So don't have any doubts 
that He won't stand by you now." 


In Sassoni's already overcrowded abode 3ret another 
bambino had made its appearance, and his wife, freed for 
a fortnight from organ-dragging, found other work for her 
weary arms to do. 

''Dio mio!" sighed her better half, as he brought her 
the basin of fish-flavoured beans and oil which he had 
been concocting. "It is five to feed now! When will my 
family cease to become as the sands of the sea? And of 
what use is a woman or a monkey as a help to a struggling 
man? Both are for ever sick I Three monkeys have I had, 
all dead of pneumonia, and another of mange. How is 
money to be saved to pay for our retiun to Napoli and the 
purchase of a piece of land to grow vegetables on?" 

"Thank the Holy Virgin thou art in a cotmtry where 
v^tables are cheaper to buy than to grow," his wife re- 
torted. "To-day in Italia one starves." 

"As for that, one starves here with all these mouths 
for ever open and never satisfied. And the organ is sick 
as well as thou. Its inside is dislocated from overwork. 
People put their fingers to theu: ears when I play. Never 
has it made earnings since the time of Jackie." 

"How often have I not told thee to go to her? Did she 
not give me a good shawl and to thee a whole English 
pound? She would again be charitable if she knew I had 
but just given birth to another son. But whenever I speak 
of her there comes a frown to thy face. One would think 
thou hast a reason for avoiding her." 

Sassoni frowned now, but it was more a frown of dis- 
appointment than anything else. 

"I would go to her fast enough if I knew where to find 


her/' he confesfied. ''She is no longer at the house hi 
Green Street. I have been there to see/' He sighed 
lugubriously. ''Alwa3rs did she bring me good luck. Sil- 
ver in the tambourine when she danced; bank notes when 
she no longer danced." 

Mrs. Sassoni pricked up her ears. 

'' One note she gave thee at her palaz2so. Of what others 
dost thou q>eak? " 

''Thou knowest well enough that I was to receive five 
pounds for giving her address to the man with the fur on 
his coat — the one on whom I was avenged. Did I not 
show them to thee? " 

Her dark eyes widened. She had never associated the 
acquisition of those five notes with Jackie. 

"And for that thou didst risk thy neck in a rope 
noose?" Her usually submissive voice expressed con- 
tempt. "Mother of Godl what induced thee to commit 
such folly? To betray one so generous?" 

"The man tempted me," he muttered unconsciously 
paraphrasing an earlier delinquent "For the rest, I rid 
her of one who could have desired her no good. Doubtless 
he was enamoured of her and she perhaps had no Uking 
for him. Da vero, in disposing of him I did her a service. 
One day perhaps she will repay me for the deliverance." 

Very much of a sophist was Sassoni. According to him 
the obligation was all on one side — his side. Certainly 
he had derived advantage from Jackie in the past. Recol- 
lections of that spacious week eighteen months ago when 
her tambourine overflowed with silver money made his 
mouth water. But he had paid her a fair wage and made 
no charge for the coloured scarf for her head, the piece of 
velvet for a bodice, and the alteration to the rest of her 
dress. He spoke as though he and not his wife had con- 
ferred these favours on her. Also, if she had brought 


good fortune had he not broiq^t her better? He had 
heard it spoken that she had become a ballerina in a 
theatre and was paid — who knew? — perhaps five or ten 
pounds a week I It was incredible that she could have 
reached such heights of prosperity unless some impresario 
had observed her dancing to the music of his organ. 

All this in an aggrieved tone he delivered himself of 
while he did the housework. It consisted of smearing tm- 
washed pots and plates with a greasy rag, and heaping 
the floor-d6bris into a comer. He finished by throwing to 
the cat a fragment of meat bone, which his two eldest 
children, quicker than the four-footed animal that shared 
the floor with them, potmced on and fought for. Sassoni 
did not interfere. He picked up his hat preparatory to 
starting on his daily round with the organ. 

But before he could get to the door it was opened from 
the outside and Jackie walked in. Sassoni stopped short. 
His eyes bulged. The coincidental marvel of his thoughts 
and her entrance was too much for him. His guilty con- 
science assured him that she must have discovered that 
old treachery of his and had come to accuse him of it 
He stood looking at her shiftily. 

But Jackie's manner reassured him. She was all smiles; 
she gave him and his a cheerful ^' good-morning." She also 
slipped oS the cloak that covered her and — wonder of 
wonders! — disclosed herself clad in the identical dress 
she had worn when she danced to his organ. Sassoni's 
hand went up to his astonished eyes. 

"You have your organ still?" she demanded. 

"Si, si," he nodded rapidly. 

"Then I will dance to it for a little while in the street." 

"Che? Veramentel You speak-a true?" he gasped. 

"Yes. It is a caprice. For amusement." 

Sassoni could not believe his ears. She would dance 


for amusement? What could she mean? If only for 
amusement, then she would not demand much payment. 
The less the better. The prospect of haggling helped his 
startled mind to regain some of its ballast. Hie tam- 
bourine would again rattle with silver money. He took it 
from the nail on the wall where for so long it had hung 

''We make a bargain," he said, rattling it. ''So much 
for me, so much for you. Let us arrange." 

Jackie waved the suggestion aside. 

"It is not worth the trouble," she informed him. "I 
dance but for an hour or so. And for that I pay." 

From a bag on her wrist she took a btmdle of notes and 
presented them to him. "Come. First I wiU kiss the new 
little baby and then we will go." 

A look of deep tenderness was in her face as she bent 
over it. The kiss she gave it was a benediction. How rich 
was this Italian mother to have so many babies of her 
own! Kindly words she spoke. She would come again 
and bring jellies and beef tea: new« clothes also for the 
little ones. Just now she was in a great hurry. She had 
arrived but yesterday from America, and before doing 
anything else she wished to dance. She only waited for 

By this time Sassonf had secreted the notes in various 
inaccessible recesses of his clothing. He was entirely at 
her service. Truly Jackie had always brought him luck! 
He was all smiles, all flash of white teeth. The rings in his 
ears vibrated to his good fortune. 

Out in the street he bent himself nearly double in his 
anxiety to propitiate her. He wished to know where she 
would prefer to dance: in the small streets, the big and 
busy streets, or the sdecter ones where lived the rich and 
the great? 


''Follow me/' Jackie answered. ''And make hastel 
Ob, make hastel" 

Obediently Sassoni trundled on in the wake of her 
flying feet. 


A LONG illness -^ of the mind as well as the body — had 
played havoc with Carter's nerves. The slightest annoy- 
ance made him captious; hardly anything stimulated his 
interest Irene had done her best; she had nursed him 
with the devotion of a sister; but nothing now availed 
to rouse him from his speQs of dull apathy or allay his 
febrile irritation. 

The one remedy that would have restored him to 
health and spirits she did not dare to prescribe. This, of 
course, was Jackie. But Carter had prohibited Jackie as 
a subject of conversation. She and his love for her had 
together become to him the epitome of all hopelessness. 
Apart from a state of health that had steeped him in pes- 
simism other reasons were accoimtable for this unhappy 
frame of mind. For three months now he had been ar- 
^ dently hoping to hear from Virginia that Jackie had at 
least forgiven him. He had had letters from Virginia, but 
in them there was no word of Jackie. He could not know 
(because he had not been told) that Virginia's letter to 
Paris had missed its destination; that she had been away 
from Yonkers and so was unaware of Jackie's arrival in 
New York; and that because she herself had given up hope 
of being able to bring about the reconciliation she so much 
desired she purposely refrained from making any refer- 
ence to Jackie in order to spare his feelings. 

And yet all this while, as he knew, Jackie was in New 
York! Within an hour's journey of Yonkers I If Virginia, 
who had pleaded so earnestly on Jackie's behalf, now 
found it advisable to refrain from speaking of her there 


could be but one inference — the miserable inference that 
Jackie was indifferent to him! 

So whenever Irene broached the subject its effect on 
Carter was disastrous. It only made him suffer. Of late 
she had avoided it, but all yesterday it had been on her 
tongue and she had seemed bent on harrowing his feeliags. 
She had also seemed unaccountably excited. She had done 
nothing but put a variety of supposititious questions, and 
he had been unable to ^ence her. Did n't he care what 
became of Jackie? What would he do if he were assured 
that she forgave him? What would he say if she walked 
in and told him that she still loved him? Distracted by 
this Tantalus-like inquisition he had at last said: 

"What is the use of all this assumption? I've told you 
over and over again that I know exactly how she regards 
me. At the best, with lukewarm interest. Well, I Ve re- 
signed mjrself to it." 

" But you told Virginia — " 

"I was ill. She worked on my feelings. Do be sensi- 
ble, Irene, and face the facts. You and Virginia are 
too susceptible to emotion. You don't reason, Jackie 
has had a year in which to decide on what she thinks 
is best for herself. Surely it's easy to see what that 
decision is." 

In short, Carter was perverse. Irene, in the position of 
the goddess in the car with the skid on, had to hold her 
tongue. She left him, but in the evening returned to ask 
him to lend her the Italian dress which she had seen in a 
drawer of his bureau. She wanted it for a friend. 

Carter hated to seem ungracious. That old dress of 
Jackie's was his only remaining memento of her; too 
precious to part with. 

" I 'm awfully sorry to refuse you," he said. " But your 
friend can get a far more effective dress from any cos- 


tumier. Mine is hardly suitable as a fancy costume. It's 
old and patched. Only Jackie could look picturesque in 

^'My friend is an actress/' Irene explained, ^'and wants 
to look the real thing. A contadina. Never mind, though." 

When she had gone Carter felt he had be^n rather 
boorish. Still, Irene ought to have comprehended how 
predous that one remaining relic had become to him. 
She seemed to be wanting in sensitiveness. To-day 
especially she had been provokingly mercurial. The mood 
affected him adversely. What he most desired was peace 
and quietness, an undisturbed mind. He sought it in the 
nepenthe of bed and sleep. 

But in the morning he was still under the influence of 
the same disturbing irritability. He could not get over 
Irene's astonishing request of Uie night before. That she 
should expect him to lend her those treasured garments to 
oblige a stranger struck him as a psychological aberration. 
Irene was not generally obtuse. He finished his apology 
for a breakfast and went to the bureau. Not often now 
did he open the drawer where lay those ghost-haunted 
garments of a bitter-sweet past. He would just take a 
glimpse of the coloured scari, just touch the velvet 
bodice! Then, more dearly he would visualize his lost 
Jackie as he remembered and loved her: spring and joy 
incarnate dancing to the crazy tune of a piano-organ in 
the street! 

He opened the drawer. It was empty! 

So, in spite of his refusal, Irene had taken the dress! 
Carter bitterly resented the action. The obligation he 
was under to her was no excuse for it. To think of some 
strange woman wearing those garments was more than 
distasteful; it was sacrilege! When they came back there 
would be a taint about them. They would not be the 


same: something of their assodation with Jackie would be 
gone. • • . 

The quietness of the street was suddenly broken. A 
piano-organ of more than usual discordance had struck 
up under the windovrs of the flat. It was thrumming an 
air from ^' Spatch-Cock/' Every now and again the mech- 
anism failed: whole bars were missed out 

The well-remembered tune unmanned Carter. It was 
like a painful commentary on the emptiness of the 
drawer — missing dress, effaced hopes, shattered melody. 
For all that, he went to the window. He never let an 
organ-grinder go away empty-handed. Had not his little 
Jackie danced for one of them? 

As he looked below his heart paused in its beat, then 
raced and throbbed. For there in the roadway, in the full 
sunlight, was Jackie I Jackie in the missing dress, her 
curls flyingi Jackie of the twinkling feet — her very self 
— dandngl 

For ebullient moments Carter stood irresolute. In 
the fever that had so weakened him he had again and 
again seen her looking as tangible as this, as tantalizing^y 
real. • • . Was this another fevered dream? Her swaying 
tambourine rose above her head as though in answer. 
He heard its joyous tinkle. A step or two and she left the 
roadway; was on the pavement beneath him; had disap- 
peared from sight • . . 

With every nerve tingling, with pulses going at high 
pressure, Carter faced about, his eyes fixed on the door, 
straining his ears. . . . His entrance bell pealed. • . . Time 
seemed to stand still. . . . There came a light patter of 
feet. . . . They paused outside the door. . . . Slowly it 
swung inward and Jackie, a little timorous, one hand 
held to her heart, faltered for a second on the threshold 
and then flung herself into bis arms. 

JACKIE 31 1 


Oh, my little girl!'' he cried. ''Is it no dream? Is it 
really you?" 

She pulled down his face to hers, wound her arms about 
his neck. 

"Tell me, tell me, my Merveenl Say that I am for- 
given 1" she entreated. 

"For what? For the joy you bring?" 

"For my heart of a mule I For all my b6tise, my en- 
t6tementl Oh, I cannot think in En^ishi I am too — 
tooravie! Say that I am still your Jackie I I have make a 
haste enormous from the time I saw Virginia in New York. 
I have entreat the man with the wheel on the ship to turn 
it quicker 1 I have implore the men in the stoking 'ole to 
make their fires chauff6s k bland And at last I am ar- 
rive 1" Her hands stroked his face. She made soft, qua- 
vering soimds, ecstatic and rueful by turns. "Oh, mon 
ador£, your face tell me you 'ave nearly die of my n^- 
gencel I wUl make you well. If you will be so amiable and 
marry me & vue d'oeil — at the very once, I will care for 
you to a degree! I shall be your Red Cross and your 
maison de sant£ and your doctor and your servant all 

"My sweetest Jackie I My dearest dear I" Carter 
murmured. "I'm well already. I'm the happiest man 
alivel And so it was you who made Irene steal your own 
dress 1 You supreme little person I You Jackie to the end I " 

Jackie nestled in his arms. 

"Merveen/' she whispered. "How often have I dream 
of this! That I am in your anns and that we have become 
r^tmisl In my sleep I have raise my face to you — so — 
and the kiss you have give me has been almost on my lipsi 
so that I have wake up with joy to find my pillow iJl wet 
with the tears of gladness. Oh, I greatly fear I shall wake 
so again!" 


Abruptly she slipped to her knees. \^th folded hands 
and bowed head she prayed at Carter's knee, as a child 
prays, but silently. Carter's hand rested lovingly on her 
curly head. He also prayed, giving thanks for a won- 
drously happy ending to this best chapter in his Book of 

Jackie rose from her knees and put her hands in his. 

*' God has been good to Jackie," ^e said. " He releases 
me. Now I do not serve two masters." 

Carter was mystified. 

" Caliowska tell me that one cannot have love as well 
as art. I do not care. I give up the art Love is enough." 

"But your star? Your career? Jackie, sweetheart, you 
must not sacrifice that for me!" 

Jackie's shoulders went up in the old adorable, char- 
acteristic way. 

"I am a woman. That is my career!" she declared 


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