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THE LATE TENANT
Author of "A Mysterious Disappearance,"
"The Arncliffe Puzzle."
Edward J. Clode
156 Fifth Avenue
Copyright, 1906, bv
EDWARD J. CLODE
Eti'.ered at Stationers Hall
The Plimpton Press Norwood Mass. U.SA.
A Whiff of Violets 1
A Signature with a Flourish 15
"Johann Strauss" 36
Von or Van ? 45
The Word of Joy 60
Violet's Conditions 70
At Dead of Night 83
Coming Near 96
The Marriage-Lines 106
Swords Drawn 11*7
Thj: Night- Watche3 . 133
No More Violet 144
In Pain 1*73
Hand to Hand 180
David more than Regains Lost Ground 197
From the Depths 213
Violet Decides 227
David has One Visitor and Expects Others .... 242
The Midnight Gathering 257
Van Hupfeldt Makes Amends 271
The Late Tenant
A WHIFF OF VIOLETS
SUPPOSE one becomes used to this sort of thing
in time," thought David Harcourt, as he peered
through the dusty plate-glass windov,^s of his third-
floor flat. *'At present I can appreciate the feehngs
of a Wyoming steer when he first experiences the re-
straint of a cattle-truck. Or am I a caged bird ? or
a menagerie ape .^ or a mere ass } There is something
in the evolution theory, after all. Obviously, one of
my respected ancestors is kicking."
Then, being a cheerful soul, he laughed, and turned
from the outer prospect to face the coziness of liis new
abode. He did not understand yet that in No. 7,
Eddystone Mansions, picked almost at haphazard from
a house-agenfs list, he had hit upon a residence singu-
larly free from the sort of thing which induced this
present fit of the blues. In the first place, owing to a
suit in chancery, the "eligible" building- site opposite
was vacant, and most of the windows of No. 7 com-
manded an open space. Secondly, the street itself did
not connect two main thoroughfares ; hence its quietude
The Late Tenant
was seldom disturbed by vehicles. Thirdly, and, per-
haps, most important of all, his neighbors, above, be-
low, and on three sides, were people who had achieved
by design what he had done by accident — they had
taken up their abode in Eddystone Mansions on
account of the peace thus secured in the heart of
For London has a stony heart with wooden arteries,
through which the stream of life rushes noisily. To
ears tuned by the far-flung silence of the prairie this
din of traffic was thunderous. To eyes trained by
the smooth horizon it was bewildering to see a clear
sky overhead and a sun sinking slowly, like a dim
Chinese fire-balloon, into a compound of smoke and
chimneys. In fact, David Harcourt came to the con-
clusion that Londoners, as a race, must be purblind
and somewhat deaf.
"I wonder if I can stand it?" he commented. "I
saw a map of South Africa in a shop window to-day.
It looked wonderfully attractive. Yes, I am beginning
to believe there is neither claw nor feather in my
composition. * Kicking ' is the right word — hoof —
ass! Oh! the line of descent is clear." Then he
laughed again, taking a box of cigars off the top of a
bookcase, and any one who heard him laugh would
have grasped the reason why men soon called him
"Davie," and women smiled when he looked at them.
Dame Nature, aided by his less remote ancestors in
the evolutionary tree, had been good to him. It would
A Whiff of Violets
have needed the worst "environment" ever dreamed
of by sociology to make him a degenerate. As it was,
a healthy upbringing, a fair public-school education,
and the chance that a relation of his owned a Wyoming
ranch, joined in fashioning an excellent specimen of
lusty and clean-souled young manhood. But that
same general wet-nurse, who had intended David to
lord it over herds and vast pastures, had complicated
matters by throwing a literary kink into the deftly
coiled strands of his composition. Thus, at the age of
twenty-five, he took more interest in scribbling stories
and searching for rimes than in toting up the proceeds
of sales at Chicago stock-yards. Worse than that,
having oft imagined and striven to depict various
ethereal creatures typical of the Spirit of the Dawn,
the Fairy of the Dell, or the Goddess of the Mist, he
had refused, most emphatically, to wed the elderly
rancher's daughter, his relative, a lady blessed with
more wealth and weight than was necessary for any
one woman in the world.
So, like many another youngster in the far lands, he
heard the voice of London calling through every book
and newspaper he read. It was a siren voice, devoid
of accent. The Wyoming wooing, too, became a
serious matter; hence, like one of the dove-eyed oxen
he knew so well, he stampeded in sudden panic,
realized his personal possessions, and, in the vernacular
of Sioux Pass, '* lit out for the nearest depot, an' boarded
an east-bound train."
The Late Tenant
He had now been in England a month, in London a
week. From the landing-stage at Liverpool he had
gone to visit the country cousins who superintended
his childhood and education after the death of his
mother, that lady having been stricken down by the
hand which killed her soldier husband at Dargai. He
found the cousins snug in their Bedfordshire nest.
The squire-like head of the household wondered dully
why any man should quit a place where he could
"get on" to seek a precarious livelihood in a land
which was "rapidly going to the dogs." David cer-
tainly received more encouragement from the younger
members of the family, especially from a bright-eyed
maiden of eighteen, who thought London "awfully
jolly," and vowed a literary career to be "quite too
devey for anything."
But David was level-headed enough to see that
the verdict of squire and maid were equally unfavor-
Then followed a few days in a big hotel. He paid
a round of useless calls at the offices of magazines
that, to his certain knowledge, printed all sorts of
rubbishy articles about cow-boy life, but opposed a
phalanx of commissionaires against a man who could
not only round up an infuriated herd, but could also
describe the feat deftly with a pen. Ultimately, he
resolved to lay siege to the citadel which he was unable
to storm, and pitch his camp over against the tents of
the enemy. He took a furnished flat, " with plate and
A Whiff of Violets
linen, gas-stove, electric light, bath H. and C," for
In thus becoming a Londoner, he encountered the
first quaint anomaly of London life. When he drove
up to the door of the most fashionable hotel in the
West End, and deposited a couple of portmanteaus in
a bed-room after signing the register, he was permitted
to run a bill for a week, at least, without let or hin-
drance ; but when he offered to pay cash in advance for
the flat, he met with a demand for "references."
The agent was firm but explanatory. " It is not my
client, but the over-landlord, who makes that stipula-
tion," he said. "In fact, the letting is wholly in my
hands, as the late tenant is dead ; but, for certain rea-
sons, the residuary legatees wish to keep the place in its
present condition until the lease expires a year hence."
Did the late tenant die there ? " asked David.
Well — yes — fully five months since; there have
been other occupants subsequently, and the terms are
so reasonable — "
"What did he, or she, die of?" persisted David.
He was accustomed to reading men's faces, and he
had caught a certain fluttering of the agent's eyelids.
"Nothing to cause any alarm, nothing infectious, I
assure you. People — er — die in flats just the same
as — er — in private houses." This, being a joke,
had its chuckle.
But the agent also knew men in his own way, and
he felt it was unwise to wriggle. David had a steadfast
The Late Tenant
glance. He gave others the impression that he heard
and treasured each word they uttered. He was really
wondering then why the speaker's neck was so long
and thin — nothing more serious, but, with a disagree-
able disclosure lurking in the other's mind, David's
scrutiny compelled candor.
" The thing is bound to come to your ears sooner or
later, Mr. Harcourt; so I may as well tell you now,"
said the Londoner. "The late tenant was a lady, a
singer of much promise, it was said. For an unknown
reason — probably some love affair was disturbing her
rest — she — er — took an overdose of a sleeping-
draft. She was a very charming woman, quite young,
of highest character. It is inconceivable that she should
have committed suicide. The affair was an accident,
of course, but — er — "
" A sceptical coroner thought it a murder ? "
" Oh, dear, no, nothing of the kind, not a hint of such
a thing. Fact is — well, it sounds ridiculous to say
with reference to a popular block of flats in the middle
of London, but two foolish women — an excitable
actress and her servant, your predecessors in the flat
— have spread reports as to queer noises. Well, you
know, don't you ? the sort of nonsense women will
"In plain English, they say the place is haunted."
" Ha, ha ! Something in that nature. You have hit
it! Something in that nature. Absurd thing!"
"Who knows?" David had a cold disbelief in
A Whiff of Violets
spooks, but it amused him to see the agent squirm;
and he sat tight. Those eyehds fluttered again, and
Mr. Dibbin banged a ledger with wrathful fist.
"Look here, Mr. Harcourt," cried he finally. "This
is a five-guineas-a-week flat. I'll make you a fair
offer; take it for six months and I give it you at half
"I laying the ghost at two and a half guineas
weekly ? "
"Put it any way you like. If a man of sound
common-sense like you lives there for a considerable
period, the wretched affair will be forgotten; so it is
worth the loss to me, and it is a first-class bargain for
"Done!" said David.
The agent was so pleased that his annoyance van-
ished ; he promised to secure a woman whom he knew
to look after the new tenant's housekeeping. She had
probably never heard of the Eddystone Mansions
tragedy. He would have her in the flat within four
days. Meanwhile a charwoman might attend to things
The references having proved satisfactory, David
was now passing his first evening in his new abode.
He had purchased some books and stationery; his
charwoman had left him; and, when the door had
closed behind her, he turned from the head of the
dead girl in chalks over the mantelpiece to gaze out
of the dining-room window, and back again to the
The Late Tenant
sweet face in chalks, to return presently to the win-
It was a Thursday evening in the last week of
January. The housekeeper was to arrive on Saturday.
David fixed Monday as a good day to start work. In
the interim he meant to loaf, dine at noteworthy
restaurants, read, and go to theaters.
A man accustomed to guide his movements by the
position of mountain-ranges or the stars, and count
distances by his days on horseback, is likely to find
himself all unhinged within a four-mile radius. David
was in the novice stage of acquaintanceship with the
magnetic life of the world's capital. Not yet did the
roar of London sing in familiar harmonies; the crunch
of the omnibuses, the jingle of the hansoms, made no
music in his ears. There was something uncanny in
the silence of the millions eddying through the streets.
Where all else was clamor, mankind was dumb, save
for the shouts of the newsboys, the jabber of bus-
conductors, the cries of itinerant venders.
So David, having dressed and gone out, wandered
into another restaurant than that which he was aim-
ing for; dawdled over the meal until the first act of
the play which he meant to see must have been
ended; and decided then upon a music-hall; finally,
he strolled back toward Eddystone Mansions as early
The elevator, placed in the center of the building,
ran from the basement floor; those who used it had to
A WhiJJ of Violets
descend a few steps from the entrance and advance
along a passage. Harcourt felt unaccountably tired —
there is a strain of life in London as on the tops of
mountains — so he chose the lift in preference to the
The hall-porter, who sat within the lift, pondering
the entries for the Spring Handicaps, recognized him,
and jumped up with a salute.
" Good-evenin', sir! Fine, frosty night, sir," said he.
They began to ascend. A thought occurred to David.
" What was the name of the lady who occupied No. 7 ? "
"Miss Ermyn L'Estrange, sir," was the instant
Even in the wilds of Wyoming one grasps the sig-
nificance of certain classes of names. For instance,
not even the rawest tenderfoot would expect "One-
eyed Pete " to turn out to be a parson.
"I mean the lady who died here," said David.
The porter stopped the lift. "Your floor, sir," he
said. " I've only bin in these 'ere flats a matter o' two
" Good egg ! " cried David. " Have a cigar, porter.
You are a man to be depended on. But surely there
is no harm in telling me the poor girl's name. It must
have appeared in all the newspapers."
The attendant tickled his head underneath his hat.
The new tenant of No. 7 seemed a nice gentleman,
anyhow. He looked up and down the stairs, of which
The Late Tenant
two sections were visible from the landing where they
" I 'ave 'eard," said he, " that a young lydy used
ter live 'ere of the nyme of Miss Gwendoline
"Ah, that sounds more like it. Good-night."
Harcourt, fumbling over the intricacies of the lock,
heard the rattle of the lift as it reached the basement.
On his landing were two doors, his own and that of
No. 8; and light shone from his neighbor's dwelHng.
That was companionable. The stairs, too, were well
At last he gave the key the right pressure, and the
latch yielded. He passed within and closed the door
noiselessly. The electric switch governing the hall-
lamp was on the wall beyond the short entrance-
passage. He removed his overcoat and hat in the
semi-darkness; the sheen coming through the corru-
gated-glass panels of the outer door did not so much
as cast a shadow.
All at once he detected a fragrance of violets, faintly,
but distinctly. This was puzzHng! He knew that it
was almost impossible for that scent to have been there
earlier in the evening when he was at home, without
being marked by him. Even now not one man in a
thousand in London that night would have caught the
subtle perfume; but David retained the hunter's senses.
As he stood in suspense, a feeling peeped and grew up
A Whiff of Violets
within him that the odor carried with it a suggestion
of death; his muscles grew taut, ready to fight, to defend
himself against this world or the next.
The next instant he smiled, thinking: "Nonsense!
It must have been here before. Each time I came in
I was smoking; the air is frosty, too."
He groped inward for the switch, turned on the
light, and, without deigning to give another thought to
the smell of violets, turned to the left along the main
corridor, which was rectangular to the entrance-hall.
Passing the drawing-room door, he entered the dining-
room. Opposite the latter was the kitchen and ser-
vants' apartments. Around the other end of the main
corridor were disposed three bed-rooms and a bath-
room. The light he had turned on illuminated entrance
and corridor alike.
In the dining-room he found the fire still burning.
That was good. The coal-scuttle was not by the
fireplace, but in a corner. He went to get a shovelful
of coal; and as he stooped, again came to him the
fragrance, thrilling, bringing with it a picture of a girl
whom he had once seen lying in funereal state, sur-
rounded by flowers, and clothed in the last white robes
David stabbed the coals with the shovel. "What's
wrong with me.'^" he half laughed. Yet his eyes
sought the crayon drawing of Gwendoline Barnes.
Presently he lit a cigar, unfolded an evening paper
which he had bought in the streets, and tried to take
The Late Tenant
an interest in the news of this new-old world into
which he was new-born.
But his mind wandered. Without he heard the
distant rumble of traffic; hansoms were beginning to
arrive in the street beneath; he heard doors slam;
the jingling of bells on head-stalls ; feet pattering across
the pavement; a driver's tongue-click, and away would
jog a horse, to be stirred, perhaps, into sudden frenzy
by two shrills of a far-off whistle.
A contrast, these sounds, to the twig-snapping and
grass-rustling of a night on the plains! There, lying
by the camp-fire embers, he had heard the coyote
slinking past in the dark, while the tethered horses
suspended their cropping to hearken. Here men and
streets made a yet stranger wilderness. He sat over
the hearth absorbed by it, already yielding his tribute
to the greatness of the outer ocean of life.
But prairie or city, man must sleep. David rose
and went to the sideboard for a decanter. A certain
graceful slowness characterized his movements. Town-
bred men might have been deceived thereby, might
reason that he was lethargic, of strapping physique,
certainly, yet a man who could be hit three times
before he countered once. It is this error of judgment
which leads to accidents when town-dwellers encounter
the denizens of the jungle. Harcourt's hand was out-
stretched for the decanter when he became aware that
he was not alone in the flat. The knowledge was
derived from neither sight nor sound. It was intuitive,
A Whiff of Violets
a species of feeling through space, an imperative con-
sciousness that he shared hU suite of apartments with
another distinct, if intangible, being. Many men
might not have had it, but Harcourt had it clearly.
Instantly he was rigid. This time he was weaving
no fantasy round a whiff of violets. The sense of
nearness to other presences is really inherent in man.
Residence in settled communities dulls it, but in
David Harcourt it was a living faculty. He stood
motionless, waiting for some simple proof of his belief.
The door, veiled by a portiere, was not closed, but
sufficiently closed to prevent any view of the corridor,
which, otherwise, it commanded throughout. The flat
was carpeted so thickly that movement was silenced.
But David fancied that a woman's dress did brush
somewhere against wall or floor. That was enough.
He was about to spring forward and pull the door
open to see, when he heard, or thought that he heard,
the switch of the light outside click, as if it had been
carefully raised. And on the instant, without hesita-
tion, he pushed up the switch in the dining-room, and
hid himself in darkness. There are wolves, too, in
the London desert.
Now, like a bush-cat, he crept to the door, opened
it, and peeped out. Certainly the light which he had
left burning had been extinguished by some hand; the
corridor was in darkness, i
Nerves, as commonly understood, did not much
enter into Harcourt's scheme of things. But his heart
The Late Tenant
beat quicker. The speed of thought cannot be meas-
ured. Many questions, and one doubt, one question,
flitted through his brain. He stood in deep gloom;
near him, he was convinced, was something in the guise
of woman. The face in chalks on the mantelpiece
seemed to crowd the dark, the face of the woman who
had been hovering on the verge of his consciousness
ever since the agent had mentioned her to him.
A SIGNATURE WITH A FLOURISH
He was collected enough, though the blood was
rather cool in his veins, and there was an odd sensi-
tiveness at the roots of his hair. "Who is there?" he
asked in a matter-of-fact voice.
There was no answer, and now he had a feeling
that the presence was drawing nearer.
He was unarmed, of course. The inseparable six-
shooter of the West lay at the bottom of a cabin-trunk
in his bed-room. But his faculties were exerted to an
extent hardly possible to men who have not lived close
to wild nature. He conceived that his safety de-
manded the exercise not only of pluck, but of artifice.
So he stepped softly to the comer by the entrance to
the servants' apartments, and, standing there, sought
a loose match in his waistcoat pocket, and held it
against the wall, ready to light it at an instant's notice.
He did not mean to sacrifice to any chivalric nonsense
about sex the opening move in what might prove to
be a game of life or death. The woman, or whatever
it was, showed by her conduct that she was not there
by some mischance capable of explanation; he would
determine by her first move, by the first flash of light,
The Late Tenant
how to deal with her; and, if there were others with her,
her body would be his shield until he gained the outer
door and staircase. And so he waited, with the alert
patience of an Indian, poised on the very tip-toe of
But as time passed, and there was no further sign of
life in the corridor, the situation became over trying.
He formulated a fresh plan. Behind him lay the
kitchen, with its fire-irons, and thither he ran, seized
a poker, then rushing out again, had the corridor, the
drawing-room, every room, alight. But he saw no one.
He searched each room with eager haste, but there
was nothing out of the common to be discovered. The
front door was closed as he had left it. He ran into
the exterior lobby, and, keeping an eye on the exit,
summoned the elevator. Up it came; but the porter,
throwing open the doors, checked his ready salute in
his alarm at the sight of " No. 7 " facing him poker in
"Have you seen a lady go out.^" demanded David.
The man drew back, one hand on his lever and the
other on a sliding trellis-work of iron.
"N-no, sir," he stammered.
"Don't be frightened," said David, sharply. "I
want you to keep your wits. Some one has been in
" Is that so, sir .? "
" Where have you been during the last five minutes ? "
A Signature with a Flourish
" At the door ? "
"No, sir, in the back, not five yards from the hft,
sir." He thought it unnecessary to mention that he
had been talking to the housemaid of No. 2, in the
basement on her way to the post.
"So any one could have gone out without your
knowledge ? "
"If they went by the stairs, sir.'*
"Come in and help me to search my place again."
The porter hung back. The man's sheepish face
was almost comical.
"Come, come," said David, "there isn't much to
be afraid of now, but I tell you that some one put out
the light in the corridor, and I am almost sure that I
heard the stir of a woman's dress somewhere."
The lift-attendant's pallor increased.
"That's just it, sir," he murmured. "The others
have heard it, too."
"Stuff!" said David, turning on his heel.
Few Britons can stand contempt. The porter
"That's a man," said David, and they entered the
flat. Harcourt shut and bolted the door.
" Now," he said, " you mount guard in the passage,
while I carry on the hunt."
He would have disturbed a mouse were it in hiding,
so complete was his second scrutiny of every nook.
At the end of a fruitless quest he gave the porter a
whisky and soda.
The Late Tenant
"I'll tell you wot, sir," said the man, "there's more
in this than meets the heye. Miss L'Estrange, she
never saw anythink, but she 'eard all sorts o' rummy
noises, an' twiced she found that all 'er things 'ad bin
rummidged. An' it was no thief, neither. The maid,
she acshully sawr the pore lydy. If I may s'y it in
confidence, sir, and you wants ter be comfortable,
there's No. 18 in the next block — "
"I have rented the place for six months, and I shall
stay in it," said David. " Have another ? No ? Well,
here is half a crown. Say nothing about to-night's
adventure. I am going to bed."
"Lordy! Goin' ter sleep 'ere alone .^" gasped his
companion. "I wouldn't do it for a pension."
"Yet I am paying for the privilege. However, not
a word, remember."
" Right you are, sir. 'Ope you'll 'ave a good night's
rest, sir. I'll be in the lift for another 'arf hour, if
you should 'appen to want me."
Left to himself, David bolted the outer door again,
and returned to the dining-room. Obeying an impulse,
he jotted down some notes of the occurrence, paying
special heed to times and impressions. Then he went
to bed, having locked his bed-room door and placed
his revolver under his pillow. He imagined that he
would remain awake many hours, but, tired and over-
wrought, he was soon asleep, to be aroused only by
the news-agent's effort to stuff a morning paper into
the letter-box. The charwoman was already in the
A Signature with a Flourish
flat, and the sun was shining through the drawn-thread
pattern of the blinds.
"The air of London must be drugged," thought
David, looking at his watch. "Asleep at half-past
eight of a fine morning!"
Such early-morning reproaches mark the first stage
of town life.
After breakfast he went to his bank. He had ex-
pended a good deal of money during the past month,
but was well equipped in substantial, owned a com-
fortable home for six months — barring such expe-
riences as those of the preceding night — and found at
the bank a good balance to his credit.
" I will hold on until I have left two hundred pounds
of my capital and earnings combined," he decided;
" then I shall take the next mail steamer to some place
where they raise stock."
He called at the agent's office.
" Nothing amiss, I hope ? " said Mr. Dibbin.
"Nothing, whatever. I just happened in to get a
few pointers about Miss Gwendoline Barnes."
Harcourt found that in London it was helpful to
use Americanisms in his speech. People smiled and
became attentive when new idioms tickled their metro-
politan ears. But the mention of the dead tenant of
No. 7 Eddystone Mansions froze Dibbin's smile.
"What about her.^ Poor lady! she might well be
forgotten," he said.
" So soon ? I suppose you knew her ? "
The Late Tenant
"Yes. Oh, yes."
The agent bent over some papers. He seemed to be
unable to bear Harcourt's steady glance.
"She was exceedingly good-looking," he answered;
"tall, elegant figure, head well poised, kind of a face
you see in a Romney, high forehead, large eyes, small
nose and mouth — sort of artist type."
" Wore a lot of lace about the throat } "
" What ? You know that ? "
"Oh, don't be startled," said Harcourt. "There is
her head in chalks you know, over the mantelpiece — "
"Ah, true, true."
" I wonder if it was she or some other lady who was
in my flat last night at half-past eleven."
Dibbin again started, stared at Harcourt, and
"If it distresses you, I will talk of something else,"
"Mr. Harcourt, you don't realize what this means
to me. That block of buildings brings me an income.
Any more talk of a ghost at No. 7 will cause dissatis-
faction, and the proprietary company will employ
"Now, let us be reasonable. Even if I hold a
seance every night, I shall stick to my contract without
troubling a board of directors. I am that kind of
man. But, meantime, you should help me with
A Signature with a Flourish
Dibbin blinked, and dabbed his face with a hand-
kerchief. "Ask me anything you hke," he said.
"When did Miss Barnes die?"
"On July 28 of last year. She lived alone in the
flat, employing a non-resident general servant. This
woman left the flat at six o'clock on the previous
evening. At half-past eight A. m. next day, when she tried
to let herself in, the latch appeared to be locked.
After some hours' delay, when nothing could be ascer-
tained of Miss Barnes's movements, though she was
due at a music-master's that morning and at a re-
hearsal in the afternoon, the door was forced, and it
was discovered that the latch was not only locked but
a lower bolt had been shot home, thus proving that
the unhappy girl herself had taken this means of show-
ing that her death was self-inflicted."
"Why do you say that, if a coroner's jury brought
in a verdict of ' Death from Misadventure ' ? "
Mr. Dibbin's eyes shifted again slightly. "That
was — er — what one calls — "
I see. The verdict was virtually one of suicide ? "
It could not well be otherwise. She had purchased
the sleeping-draft herself, but, unfortunately, fortified
it with strychnine. How else could the precautions
about the door be explained ? That is the only
means of egress. Each window is sixty feet from the
"Did she rent the flat herself.^"
"No. That is the only really mysterious circum-
The Late Tenant
stance about the affair. It was taken on a three years'
agreement, and furnished for her, by a gentleman."
Who was he ? "
No one knows. He paid cash in advance for
David was surprised. "Say, Mr. Dibbin," he
queried, "how about the 'references' upon which the
over-landlord insisted in my case ? "
"What are references worth, anyhow?" cried the
agent, testily. "In this instance, when inquired into
by the pohce, they were proved to be bogus. A bundle
of bank-notes inspires confidence when you are a buyer,
and propose to part with them forthwith."
" Surely suspicions were aroused ? "
The agent coughed discreetly. "This is London,
you know. Given a pretty girl, a singer, a minor
actress, who leaves her home and lives alone in apart-
ments exceedingly well furnished, what do people
think? The man had sufficient reasons to remain
unknown, and those reasons were strengthened ten-
fold by the scandal of Miss Barnes's death. She left
not even a scrap of paper to identify him, or herself,
for that matter. All we had was his signature to the
agreement. It is, I believe, a false name. Would you
care to see it ? "
"Yes," said David.
Dibbin took some papers from a pigeonhole. Among
them David recognized the deed he had signed a few
days earlier. A similar document was now spread
A Signature with a Flourish
before him. It bore the scrawl, " Johann Strauss,"
with the final S developea into an elaborate flourish.
"A foreigner," observed David.
"Possibly. The man spoke excellent English."
" Have you ever heard of Lombroso, Mr. Dibbin ? "
" Lombroso ? I have seen the name, somewhere in
Soho, I think."
" Not the same," said David with due gravity. " The
man I mean is an Italian criminologist of great note.
He lays it down as a principle that a signature of that
kind is a sign of moral degeneracy. Keep an eye on
those among your clients who use such a flourish,
"Good gracious!" cried the agent, casting a glance
at the well-stuffed letter-cases of his office. How many
moral degenerates had left their sign manual there!
" Two more questions," went on Harcourt. " Where
do Miss Barnes's relatives reside?"
" Her name was not Barnes," was the instant answer;
" but I am pledged to secrecy in that regard. There is
a mother, a most charming woman, and a sister, both
certainly most charming ladies, of a family very highly
respected. They did not discover the unhappy girl's
death until she was long laid to rest — "
" Then, why is the flat still in the condition in which
Miss Barnes inhabited it ? "
"Ah, that is simple enough. Isn't the agreement
valid for nearly a year yet ? When that term expires,
I shall dispose of the furniture and hand over the
The Late Tenant
proceeds to the young lady's heirs-at-Iaw, subject to
direction, of course, in case the real lessee ever puts in
David strolled out into the crowded solitude of the
streets, with a vague mind of Gwendoline Barnes and
Johann Strauss, two misty personalities veiled under
false names. But they so dwelt in his mind that he
asked himself if he had fled from the pursuit of a
living woman in far Wyoming to be haunted by a
dead one in England ? Like most strangers in London,
he turned to the police for counsel, and told to an
inspector on duty at a police-station his tale of the
whiff of violets, of the extinguished light in his corridor,
and of the real or fancied brush of a woman's skirt
somewhere against wall or carpet. He was listened to
with kindliness, though, of course, without much faith.
However, he learned from the inspector the address
of the coroner's court where the inquest had probably
been held; it was near by, and David's steps led him
thither. There he asked some questions at haphazard,
without picking up anything of fresh interest; unless it
was that "Gwendoline Barnes" lay buried in Kensal
It was now late in the afternoon. He strolled down
Tottenham Court Road into Holborn, ate a deferred
luncheon in Oxford-St., and started to saunter back
home, shirking a theater matinee, which was irksome
since it was the fixed thing on his program. But it
struck him half-way home that his charwoman was
A Signature with a Flourish
gone, that the flat was lonely ; he got into a cab, saying
to the driver: "Kensal Green cemetery! "
Some electric lamps were a-flicker already in the
streets. It was nearly the hour at which London roars
loudest, when the city begins to pour out its hordes,
and vans hurry to their bourne, with blocks in the
traffic, and more haste, less speed. When he reached
the cemetery the closing time was imminent.
A little snow lay among the graves, through which
the grass-tufts showed, making a ground of black-and-
white. Some few stars had ventured to peep from the
wintry sky. A custodian supplied David with the
formal information which he sought. The plot of
ground had been bought in perpetuity; it was in a
shaded place a good distance from the entrance; an
lona cross, erected by friends, marked the spot, bearing
the one word, "Gwendoline."
"It is late, sir," said the man. But mighty is the
power of the tip, even in cemeteries.
David walked down an avenue of the dead toward
the little mound that covered the young actress. He
was perhaps twenty yards from it when he heard and
almost stopped at the sound of a sob not far away.
He looked on this hand and on that, but could see no
one. The place, with its silent populace, was more
lonesome than the prairie; and a new sense had been
steadily growing up in him since half-past eleven of
the previous night — the sense of the " other world,"
of its possible reality and nearness. There was an
The Late Tenant
odor here, strong enough to his keen nostrils, of flowers,
especially of violets, and of the last end of mortal man,
a blend of sweet and abhorrent which was to infect his
mind for many a day. However, he did not hesitate,
but, with slower steps, that made hardly a sound,
turned a corner of the path, cleared a clump of trees
which had blocked his view, and now saw the grave of
Gwendoline, the cross, the chaplet of fresh violets at
the foot of the cross, and over the cross a woman
Weeping bitterly, her face in her hands, she was
standing, but her body was bent in grief, and she was
all shaken with it, though little sound escaped that
lonely passion of pity and heartbreak. Harcourt at
once felt that he had invaded holy ground. He gave
himself time to notice only that she was tall, cloaked
wholly in black — and he turned, or half-turned, to
But in his haste and embarrassment he let his stick
fall from his hand; whereat the young woman started,
and they looked at each other.
In an instant Harcourt understood that she was the
sister of her whose portrait stood on his mantelpiece;
and he felt that he had never seen woman so lovely
She looked at Harcourt with wide eyes, seeming
frightened, in suspense, and ready to fly, because he
did not know how his eyes devoured her.
" I am sorry — " he began, retiring a step.
"What do you want of me?" she asked, staring
fixedly at him.
"Nothing," he said. "Don't be alarmed; I am
merely here by chance."
" But why have you followed me ? "
" No, I have not followed you, I assure you of that.
I did not know that you were here, even. I beg you
not to be alarmed — "
" Why, then, are you here ? " she persisted.
"This is a public cemetery, you know. I came to
see a grave, just as you have — "
" This grave t "
"How can you possibly guess that," he asked,
"since you have never before seen me, and do not
know who I am ? "
"You stopped here, did you not?" she asked.
"You stopped, and looked strangely at me."
"Certainly I looked at you," admitted Harcourt.
The Late Tenant
"I did not realize that I looked 'strangely.' However,
let me be frank. I did come to see your sister's
"My sister!" said she, shrinking, as from the touch
of a wound, *' how do you know ? what interest can
you have strong enough to bring you ? "
" Not such a very strong interest," he answered.
"I am here merely to fill an idle hour, and because I
happen to be occupying the flat in which your sister
died. There is that link between her and me; she
has moved in the same little home, looked from the
same windows, slept in the same room, as I, poor
She suddenly looked up from the ground, saying:
" May I ask how long you have been there ? "
"This is only the second day," he answered with a
"Your interest in her has been sudden."
"But her crayon portrait is there over my dining-
room mantelpiece, and it is an interesting one. The
moment I saw you I understood that you are her
"You must have known that she had a sister.'*
"Why, yes, I knew."
"Who told you that, pray?"
Her manner had now changed from one of alarm to
one of resentment, of mistrust. Her questions leaped
from her as from a judge eager to condemn.
"Surely it was no secret that she had a sister," he
said. " The agent happened to mention it in speaking
to me of the late tenant, slz agents do."
"Ah, no doubt," she said half to herself. "You all
are ready enough with explanations. Wise as serpents,
if not harmless as doves."
The last words were spoken with a break in her
voice and a look that went to Harcourt's heart. He
understood that he was in the presence here of the
strange, of a mind touched to wildness by a monstrous
grief, and needing delicate handling.
"What I have told you is only the truth," he said
"Ah, no doubt," she said again. "But did you
know the history of the flat before you went into it ? "
" Yet you went. What, then, was your motive ? "
"Ah, now, come," said he. "I can see that you are
on a wrong track, and I must try to set things right.
Your sister has perhaps been badly treated by some
one or more persons, and the notion has occurred to
you that I may be one of them, or may have some
knowledge even of one of them. But I have been in
England only a month; I come from Wyoming, a place
at the other end of creation. See if you can't catch a
hint of an accent in my speech. I never saw your
sister alive; I am quite a stranger in London. It is
not nice to be mistrusted."
She thought this over gravely, then said with a
moment's openness of heart: "Forgive me, if I give
The Late Tenant
you pain unjustly"; but at once again she changed,
muttering stubbornly to herself with a certain vindic-
tiveness: "If I mistrust you, it is not for nothing. I
suppose you are all about equally pitiless and deadly.
There she lies, low enough, dead, undone — so young
— Gwen ! was there no pity, no help, not even God to
direct, not even God ? "
Again she covered her face, and was shaken with
grief, while Harcourt, yearning, but not daring to stir
a step toward her, stood in pain; till presently she
looked up at him sharply with all the former suspicious-
ness, saying with here a sob and there a sob: "But,
after all, words are only words. You can all talk, I
dare say; yet you have not been able to give me any
" Of what ? " he asked.
" Of your strange interest in this lady ; of your pres-
ence here over her grave; of the fact that you chose to
occupy the flat, knowing what you know of it. In
my mind these are points against you."
He could not help smiling. "Let me reason with
you," said he earnestly. "Remember that I am not
the first person who has occupied the flat since the
death of your sister. Did not a Miss L'Estrange have
it before me ? Well, my motive is precisely the same
as hers — I wanted somewhere to live. You did not
attribute to Miss L'Estrange any ulterior motive, I
think ? Then why attribute one to me "^ "
"I attribute nothing to any one," she sighed. "I
merely ask for an explanation which you seem unable
"Think, now! Have I not given it? I say that I
wanted a flat and took this one. Don't mistrust me
"Oh, I keep a perfectly open mind. Till things are
proved to me, I mistrust no one. But you make your
excuses with rather too much earnestness to be con-
vincing; for you would not care what I thought, if you
had no motive."
"My motive is simply a desire to stand well with
you," said David. "You won't punish me for
that ? "
Now for the first time she looked squarely at him,
her eyes meditating gravely upon his face, as she said:
"If you never knew my sister before, it was good of
you to come to her grave. You do not look like one
of the ruthless ones."
"No, I hope not. Thank you for saying that,"
said David, with his eyes on the ground. He was shy
with women. Such a girl as this filled a shrine in his
" And yet, who can ever tell ? " she sighed, half to
herself, with a weary drop of the hand. "The world
seems so hopelessly given over to I don't know what.
One would say that men were compounded of fraud
and ill-will, so that one does not know whom to trust,
nor even if there is any one to be trusted. You go into
the flat without any motive apparently that you can
The Late Tenant
give. You would never have managed it, if I had
had my way!"
" Is it against your will that the flat has been let ? "
"That is not your business, you know!" she said,
quickly resentful of probing questions.
"I only asked," said he, "in order to tell you that
if it was against your will, you have only to breathe a
wish, and I shall find the means to leave it.*'
"Well, surely that is kindly said," she answered.
" Forgive me, will you, if I seem unreasonable ? Per-
haps you do not know what grief is. I will tell you
that it is against my will that the flat has been let.
My mother's doing; she insisted because she suspected
that I had a tendency to — be drawn toward the spot ;
she feared that I might — go there ; and so it was let.
But it is useless, I suppose, for you to give it up. They
would only let it to some one else. And whoever was
in it, I should have the same suspicions — "
That word! "Suspicions of what.?" asked David.
"I am so much in the dark as to what you mean! If
you would explain yourself, then I might be able to
help you. Will you let me help you ? "
"God knows what the truth is," she said despond-
ently, staring downward afresh, for, when David
looked at her, her eyes fell. "They are all kind
enough at first, no doubt, and their kindness ends
here, where the grass grows, and the winds moan all
night, Gwen. I do not know who or what you are,
sir," she added, with that puzzling sharpness, "or
what your motive may be ; but — what have you done
with my sister's papers ? "
" Papers ? " said David. " You surprise me. Are
there any papers of your sister's in the flat ? "
She looked keenly at him, with eyelids lowered,
seeking to read his mind as though it was an open
" Who knows ? " said she.
He recalled his harmless conversational dodge with
Dibbin. He could have smiled at the thought; but he
only answered: "Surely all her papers have been
removed ? "
Who knows ? " she said again, eying him keenly.
Certainly, I have seen no papers!" he exclaimed.
Well, you seem honest."
"I hope so."
"If you did happen to find any papers in the flat,
they would not be your property, would they ? "
"Of course not!"
What would you do with them ? '*
I should give them to you."
" God grant that you are honest ! " she sighed. " But
how would you find me ? "
" If you give me your name and address — "
"My name is Violet Mordaunt," she said rapidly,
as if venturing against some feeling of rashness. " My
home is at Rigsworth in Warwickshire, near Kenil-
worth ; but I am for the present in London, at — "
The Late Tenant
Before she could mention her London address they
were both aware that a third person was with them.
The hght carpet of snow would not have deadened the
newcomer's approach to David's ears, were it not that
he was so absorbed in the words, the looks, the merest
gestures of his companion. David heard the girl say;
" Oh, Mr. Van Hupfeldt ! " and a man walked past him
to the grave with lifted hat. The man and Violet
Mordaunt shook hands. It was now getting dark;
but David could still see that the newcomer was an
uncommonly handsome person, turned out with fault-
less elegance from his glossy beaver to the tip of his
verni boots ; of dark, sallow skin ; and a black mustache
as daintily curled as those mustaches which one sees
in the costumers' windows. David stepped back a
little, and stood awkwardly. Beside this West End
dandy he felt that he was somewhat of a rough-rider,
and, like most young men dowered with both brain
and sinew, he fancied that women incline more readily
to the trimly dressed popinjay of society. Yet Violet
Mordaunt seemed anything but pleased at the inter-
" I am come to look for you by the request of your
mother," David heard the stranger say. "It was
feared that you might be here, and I am to take you
home, if you will do me the honor to come in my
"But I ought not to be tracked," said Violet, with the
quick petulance which already was music for David.
"There is the question of tea and dinner," remarked
Van Hupfeldt. " If a lady will not eat, she must expect
to be plagued."
"I prefer to walk home."
"That couldn't be done; it is too far," said Van
Hupfeldt. " Oh, come, come ! " he went on pleadingly,
with a fond gaze into her eyes.
A minute afterward they left the grave together.
Van Hupfeldt, as he passed David on the path, frowned
momentarily; Violet slightly inclined her head.
He looked after them, and admitted to himself that
they made a handsome pair, tall, like children of the
gods. But three yards away after they had passed
him something fell from Violet — a card — whether
by accident or design David did not know; but the
thought that it might be by design sent a thrill through
his frame. He picked it up. It had on it the address
of a boarding-house in Porchester Gardens.
He was yet tinghng with the hope of meeting her
again when a custodian approached. " Must shut the
gates, sir," he said.
And the clang of iron brought David back to the
roadway and reality once more.
"JOHANN STRAUSS "
On Monday morning David made the acquaintance
of the genus "housekeeper," when the woman recom-
mended by Dibbin arrived to take him in hand. He
had thought that she would sleep in the place, and
had rather looked forward to the human companion-
ship, for nothing is more cut off from the world of the
living than a flat, if one is alone in it, especially through
the watches of the night. Surely, if there are ghosts
in want of undisturbed house-room, every bachelor's
flat must be haunted.
Mrs. Grover, the housekeeper, however, said that
"sleeping in" was not the arrangement suggested to
her by Dibbin, since there were "the children to be
looked after." David, for his part, would not let it
appear that he cared at all; so Mrs. Grover, a busy
little fat woman, set to work making things rattle, on
an understanding of "sleeping out" and freedom for
church services o' Sunday.
This Monday was David's appointed day for be-
ginning work. But he did not prosper very well.
Plenty of paper, lots of ink, and a new gold pen make
no Shakespeare. And it is always hard to begin,
even when the mind does not wander. But Violet
Mordaunt had brown eyes, so soft, so grave, as those
that beam with pity over the dying. She was more
beautiful than her sister, whose face, too, David could
see through the back of his head. Also, Van Hup-
feldt was undoubtedly a more elegant object for the
eye of woman to rest upon than David Harcourt.
David wondered if Van Hupfeldt was engaged to
Violet. He had certainly spoken to her at the grave
with much tender gallantry of manner, as if some-
thing was understood between them. And since
Violet's mother sent this man to seek her in his car-
riage, that must mean that they were on familiar
terms; unless, indeed, the mother was pressingly anx-
ious about Violet, could not go herself, and had no
one else to win the young woman home from her
sister's grave. Such questionings were the cause of
long pauses between the writing of David's sentences.
He was glad when something interrupted — when the
bell rang, and Dibbin was ushered in.
"I have looked in for one minute on the subject of
that — grate," said the agent. " Do not disturb your-
self, I beg. Well, I see that Mrs. Grover is duly in
her place, and you as snug here as a bird in its
"So snug," said David, "that I feel stifled. It
beats me how people can get so accustomed to this
sort of prison as not even to remember any longer
that they are in prison. No air, no room to stretch,
The Late Tenant
coal-dust in your very soul, and even at night in your
"Dash it all, don't say it."
" Say what ? "
" Were you about to refer to any fresh experiences ? "
"Of the ghost? Not a bit of it!" said David. "I
have seen, heard, or smelled nothing more of anything."
"Good, good!" went on Dibbin, softly. "Keep on
like that, and we shall pull through yet. I find you
are well stocked with violets, meantime."
David laughed a little uneasily, and said " Yes " —
no more. Whiffs of violets in a lonely flat, for which
one can't account, are not altogether pleasant things.
David had therefore surrounded himself with violets,
in order, when he was greeted with a scent of violets,
to be able to say to himself that the scent came from
those which he had bought. He had not admitted
even to himself what his motive was in buying; nor
would he admit it to Mr. Dibbin. There, however,
the violets were in several pots, and their fragrance
at once drew the notice of a visitor, for the London
florist has an art to heighten dull nature in violets
and much else.
"Have a seat, Mr. Dibbin," said David, "and let
" I am afraid I must be off, " began the other.
"Well, have a B. and S. any way. I only want to
hear from you whatever you can tell me of Mrs. and
Miss Violet Mordaunt."
" What ? You have discovered their names ? " cried
Dibbin with a start.
"Mr. Harcourt, you are a remarkable man," said
the agent with quiet certainty.
"Oh, not too remarkable. But since I do know
sometliing, you might let yourself loose as to the rest,
as I am interested. You have seen the mother, I
know. Have you seen the daughter, too ? "
"Pretty girl, eh? Or what do you think .^"
Well, I am getting an old man now," said Dibbin;
but I have been young, and I think I can remember
how I should have felt at twenty-five in the presence
of such a being."
"Pretty, you think her, eh.^"
"Prettier than Gwendoline.'^ Prettier than her
sister ? "
" Well, I don't know so much about that neither —
different type — graver, softer in the eye and hair,
taller, darker, not so young; but that poor dead girl
was something to make the mouth water, too, sir —
such a cut diamond! to see her in her full war-paint,
turned out like a daisy ! — in short, lovely beings,
both of 'em, both of 'em."
"Fairly well fixed, the mother.^"
"You mean financially? Oh, I think so. Got a
fine place down in Warwickshire, I know — not far
The Late Tenant
from Kenilworth. Good old family, and that sort
"But how on earth this man Strauss, more or less
an adventurer, I take it, could have got hold of such
a girl, to the extent of drawing her from her happy
home, and sending her on the stage. He didn't marry
her, Dibbin ^ He didn't marry her } "
"How can I say.^" asked Dibbin, blinking. "We
can all make a shrewd guess; but one can't be abso-
lutely certain, though the fact of her suicide would
seem to be a sort of proof."
" What do the mother and Miss Mordaunt think
of it .^ Do they assume that she was married .^ Or
do they know enough of the w^orld to guess that she
was not.^ I suppose you don't know."
"They know what the world thinks, I'm afraid,"
answered Dibbin. "I am sure of that much. Yes,
they know, they know. I have been with Mrs. Mor-
daunt a good many times, for one reason or another.
I can tell how she feels, and I'm afraid that she not
only guesses what the world thinks, but agrees with
the world's view. On the other hand, I have reason
to think that Miss Mordaunt has an obstinate faith
in her sister, and neither believes that she died un-
married, nor even that she committed suicide. Well,
well, you can't expect much clear reasoning from a
poor sister with a head half turned with grief."
Dibbin tossed off his brandy, while David paced
the room, his hands behind him, with a clouded brow.
Johann Strauss ^^
" Have they no protector, these women ? " he asked.
" Isn't Miss Mordaunt engaged ? "
"I fancy not," said the agent. "In fact, I think
I can say undoubtedly not. She was not engaged
before the death of her sister, I am certain; and this
disaster of her sister appears to have inspired the
poor girl with such a detestation of the whole male
"Do you happen to know who a certain Mr. Van
Hupfeldt is ? " asked David.
"Van Hupfeldt, Van Hupfeldt? No, never heard
of him. What of him ? "
"He seems to be a pretty close friend of the Mor-
daunts, if I am right."
"He may be a close friend, and yet a new one,"
said Dibbin, "as sometimes happens. Never heard
of him, although I thought that I knew the names
of most of Mrs. Mordaunt's connections, either through
herself or her solicitors."
"But to go back to this Strauss," said David. "Do
you mean to say that neither the mother nor Miss
Mordaunt ever once saw him .'' "
"Not once that they know of."
Then, how did he got hold of Gwendoline ? "
That's the question. It is suspected that he met
her in the hunting-field, persuaded her to meet him
secretly, and finally won her to fly from home. To
me this is quite credible; for I've seen Johann Strauss
twice, and each time have been struck with the thought
The Late Tenant
how fascinating this man must be in the eyes of a
"What was he hke, then, this Mr. Johann Strauss
of the flourishy signature?"
"A most handsome young man," said Mr. Dibbin,
impressively; "hard to describe exactly. Came from
the States, I think, or had lived there — had just a
touch of the talk, perhaps — of Dutch extraction, I
take it. Handsome fellow, handsome fellow; the
kind of man girls throw themselves over precipices
after: teeth flashing between the wings of his black
mustache — tall, thin man, always most elegantly
dressed — dark skin — sallow — "
At that word "sallow," David started, the descrip-
tion of Johann Strauss had so strangely reminded
him of Van Hupf eldt ! But the thought that the cause
of the one sister's undoing should be friendly with
the other sister, paying his court to her over the grave
of the ill-fated dead, was too wild to find for itself a
place all at once in the mind.
David frowned down the notion of such a horror.
He told himself that it was dark when he had seen
Van Hupfeldt, that there were many tall men with
white teeth and black mustaches, and sallow, dark
skins. If he had felt some sort of antipathy to Van
Hupfeldt at first sight, this was no proof of evil in Van
Hupfeldt's nature, but a proof only, perhaps, of
David's capabilities of being jealous of one more
favored than himself by nature as he fancied — and
Johann Strauss ^^
by Violet Mordaunt, which was the notion that
And yet he tingled. Dibbin had said that this Van
Hupfeldt might be "a new friend — one who had
become a friend since the death of Gwendoline."
David paced the room with slow steps, and while
Dibbin talked on of one or another of the people who
had known Gwendoline Mordaunt in the flesh, vowed
to himself that he would take this matter on his
shoulders and see it through.
"Speaking of the Miss L'Estrange who was in the
flat before me," said he; "how long did she stay in it ?''
"Three months, nearly," answered Dibbin, "and
then all of a sudden she wouldn't stay another day.
And I had no means of forcing her to do so either."
" What ? Did the ghost suddenly get worse ? "
"I couldn't quite tell you what happened. Miss
Ermyn L'Estrange isn't a lady altogether easy to
understand when in an excited condition. Sufiice it
to say, she wouldn't stay another hour, and went off
with a noise like a Catherine- wheel."
"Quite so. But I say, Dibbin, can you give me
the address of the lady.'^"
"With pleasure," said the agent, in whom brandy
and soda acted as a solvent. "I am a man, Mr. Har-
court, with three hundred and odd addresses in my
head, I do assure you. But, then. Miss L'Estrange
is a bird of passage — "
"All right, just write down the address that you
The Late Tenant
know; and there is one other address that I want, Mr.
Dibbin — that of the girl who acted as help to Miss
Dibbin had known this address also, and with the
promise to see if he could find it among his papers —
for it was he who had recommended the girl — went
away. He was hardly gone when Harcourt, who did
not let the grass grow under his feet, put on hat and
coat, and started out to call upon Miss Ermyn
VON OR VAN?
The address of Miss L'Estrange, given to David
by Dibbin, was in King's Road, Chelsea, and thither
David set out, thinking in his cab of that word " papers,"
of the oddness of Violet's question at the grave : " What
have you done with my sister's papers ? "
Whatever papers might be meant, it was hardly to
be supposed that Miss L'Estrange knew aught of them,
yet he hoped for information from her, since a tenant
next in order is always likely to have gathered many
bits of knowledge about the former tenant.
As for his right to pry and interfere, that, he assured
himself, was a settled thing. Going over in his mind
Violet's words and manner in the cemetery, he came
to the conclusion that she was half inclined to suspect
that he was her sister's destroyer, who had now taken
the flat for some vaguely evil reason, perhaps to seek,
or to guard from her, those very papers for which she
so craved. Had she never heard, he wondered, that
her sister's evil mate was a man with a black mustache
and pale, dark skin ? Perhaps, if she ever had, she
would suspect — some one else than he ! That would
be strange enough, her suspicion of the innocent, if at
The Late Tenant
the same time the guilty was at her side, unsuspected!
But David tried to banish from his mind the notion
that Van Hupfeldt might possibly be Johann Strauss.
At Chelsea he was admitted to a flat as cozily dim
as his own, but much more frivolously crowded with
knickknacks; nor had he long to wait until Miss
L'Estrange, all hair and paint, dashed in. It was
near one in the afternoon, but she had an early-morn-
ing look of rawness and deshabillement, as if she had
just risen from bed. Her toilet was incomplete. Her
face had the crude look of a water-color daub by a
school-girl; her whirl of red hair swept like a turban
about her head.
" What can I do for you ? " she asked.
" I am sorry — " began David.
" Cut the excuses," said Miss Ermyn L'Estrange.
She had a reputation for bruskness which passed for
wit in her set.
"I am the occupant of the flat in Eddys tone Man-
sions which you recently left."
''I hope you like it."
I like it fairly well, as a flat."
What ? Not seen anything ? '*
No. Anything of what nature.'^'*
Anything ghostified," she snapped, sitting with her
chin on her palm, her face poked forward close to
David's, while the sleeve fell away from her thin
forearm. She had decided that he was an interesting
Von or Van ?
"I have seen no ghost," he said. "I don't beheve
I ever shall see one."
"There are ghosts," she said; "so it's no good saying
there are not, for my old Granny Price has been chased
by one, and there's been a ghost in that very flat. My
servant Jenny saw it with her own eyes."
"It is always some one else's eyes which see the
invisible," said David.
"Jenny's eyes are not some one else's, they are her
own. She saw it, I tell you, but perhaps you are one
of those people who cower under the sheets all night
for fright, and in the daytime swear that there are no
" What ? You know so much of me already ? "
"Oh, I know my man the moment I lay eyes on
him, as a rule. You're from Australia — I can tell
your twang — and you have come to England to look
for a wife. Can't very well get along without us, after
all, can you ? "
"There is some truth in that. What a pity you
didn't see the ghost yourself!"
"I heard it; I smelled it."
" Really ? What did it smell of ? Brimstone ? "
David started, not wholly because he thought Miss
L'Estrange would be flattered by this tribute to her
"And I'm not one of vour fanciful ones either," she
went on, smirking at the effect she had made.
The Late Texiant
" How often did this thing happen to you ? "
"Twice in three months."
" Daytime ? Night-time ? "
"Dead of night. The first time about two in the
morning, the second time about three.'*
"To me this is naturally fascinating," said David.
"Do tell me—"
" The first time, I was asleep in that front bed-room,
when I suddenly found myself awake — couldn't tell
why, for I hadn't long been in bed, and was tired. I
found myself listening, heard some creaks about,
nothing more than you can generally hear in a house
in the dead of night, and I was thinking of going to
sleep again, when all at once I seemed to scent violets
somewhere. I wasn't certain at first, but the notion
grew, and if it had been brimstone, as you said, I
couldn't have been so overcome as I was — something
so solemn and deathly in that fume of violets visiting
anybody in the dark in that fashion. As I knew that
Gwen Barnes, who poisoned herself in that very room,
was fond of violets — for I had seen her both on and
off the stage several times — you can guess whether I
felt rummy or not. Pop went my little head under the
bed-clothes, for I'll stand up to any living girl you
care to mention, and send her home all the worse for
it; but the dead have an unfair advantage, anyhow.
The next minute I heard a bang — it sounded to me
like the lid of one of my trunks dropping down — and
this was followed by a scream. The scream did for
Von or Van ?
me — I was upset for weeks. It was Jenny who had
screamed ; but, like a fool, I thought it was the ghost —
I don't know what I thought; in fact, I just heard the
scream, and lay me down and d'eed. When I came
to myself, there was Jenny shivering at my side, with
the light turned on, saying that a tall woman had
been in the flat — "
" Was Gwendoline Barnes in the flesh a tall girl ? "
"Pretty tall; one would have called her tall."
" And Jenny was certain ? She had really seen a
woman ? "
In the light ?
No, in the dark."
Ah, that's not so good. And as to your trunk,
had you left it locked ? "
"No, I don't think. It's certain any^-ay that some-
thing or somebody was at it that night; for next day
I found the things rummaged."
" Sure now ? I don't imagine that you are very
"The cheek! I tell you the things were rummaged."
And nothing stolen ? "
Ghosts are not thieves. They only come back to
pretend to themselves that they are still living in the
old scenes, and that their bit of a fling is not all over
forever. I can well imagine how the poor things feel,
can't you ? Of course, nothing was stolen, though I
The Late Tenant
did miss something out of the trunk a day or two
afterward — "
" What was that ? "
"My agreement with the theater. Couldn't find it
high or low in the place; though I was pretty sure that
I had put it into that very trunk. Three weeks after
it had disappeared, lo and behold ! my agreement comes
to me one morning through the post! No letter with
it, not a word of explanation, just the blessed agree-
ment of itself staring me in the face, like a miracle.
Now, I'm rather off miracles — aren't you ? So I
said to myself — "
" But stay, what was the postmark on the envelope
which brought you back this agreement ? " asked David.
"Just London, and a six-barred gate."
" You couldn't perhaps find that envelope now ? "
"Now, do I look like anybody who ties up old en-
velopes in packets .? Or do you take me for an old
maid ? Because, if you do, just let me know."
"Certainly not an old one," said David. "But how
as to the second visit of the ghost ?"
" The second time it was about three in the morning.
Jenny did not see her then; but we both woke up at
the same moment without any apparent cause — we
were sleeping together, you may bet your last dollar
on that ! — and we both smelled something like violets,
and we heard a sound, too, like the top of the piano
being shut down. ' Miss L'Estrange,' Jenny whispered
into my ear, * there's something in the drawing-room.'
Von or Van ?
— ' Go, Jenny,' I whispered to her, * and see what it
is.' — *You go, Miss L'Estrange,' Jenny whispered to
me, 'you being the mistress; and I'll come after.' —
'But you are the servant,' I whispered to her, *you go.'
— 'No, Miss L'Estrange,' she whispered back, 'you
are braver than me, you go, and I'll come after.' —
'No, you know that you are much the bravest, Jenny,
so don't be such a coward,' I whispered to her, 'and
I'll come after.' It was like a farcical comedy. At
this we heard something like a chair falling upon the
carpet in the drawing-room, and now we were in such
a state of fright that we couldn't move our hands, to
say nothing of our feet. Then a long time passed, we
didn't hear anything more; so, after about half an hour
of it, Jenny and I together made a rush for the switch,
and got out into the drawing-room. Then again we
scented a faint something like violets; but nobody
was there, and we neither saw nor heard anything
"So, after that second experience, I suppose, you
would stay no longer in the flat ? " said David.
"I did stay a few days. It wasn't altogether the
ghost that drove me away, though that may have had
something to do with it, but the cheek and the meanness
of the man who put me there."
"Of the — Ah, I beg pardon," said David, with
" Oh, this isn't a Sunday school. If you hem and
haw at me I shall show you the short cut to the front
The Late Tenant
door. It was a fair business arrangement; so don't
you think anything else. The man was named
Strauss, and whether his motive in putting me there
was quite square or not, don't let him suppose that
I am going to screen him, for I'm not. I am straight
with those that are straight with me; but those that
are up to mean tricks, let them beware of the color of
my hair — "
"So you were put into the flat!"
" Didn't I go into it rent-free ? Stop, I will tell you,
and you shall judge for yourself whether I have been
shabbily used or not. One night last August I was
introduced by a friend to a gentleman named Strauss
— dark, pale man, pretty fetching, but not my style.
However, next day he turned up at my place — I was
living then in Great Titchfield-St. ; and what do you
think my man wanted ? To put me into the Eddystone
Mansions flat for six months at his expense, on the
condition that I or Jenny would devote some time
every day to searching for papers among the furniture.
He said that a chum of his had once occupied the flat,
and had left in it one or more documents, carefully
hidden somewhere, which were of the utmost impor-
tance; I was to search for these, and give them to him.
Well, I didn't half like it, for I thought he was wicked.
So I asked him why he didn't take the flat, and search
for the papers himself at his leisure.'^ Well, he made
some excuse or other, and at last, as he talked sanely
enough, I struck hands over it — rent free, six months,
Von or Van ?
an hour's search each day; and Jenny and I moved
"Did you search an hour each day?" asked David
with a laugh.
"Hardly likely!" grinned Miss Ermyn L'Estrange.
"I can see myself searching a small flat day after day
for I didn't know what, like a goose. There was
nowhere to search. I did look about a little the first
day; but, not finding any documents, I thought to
myself, 'Here endeth.' Of course, I had to tell him
that I was busy searching, for that man pestered me
so, you wouldn't believe. He never actually came to
the flat, for some reason or other; but night after night,
when the theaters opened in September, there he was,
wanting to know if I had found anything, if I had
probed the cushions w4th hat-pins, if I had looked
under the carpets, and the rest of it. At last I began
to treat him a bit off-handedly, I admit, and before the
third month was up, he says to me one night that if I
didn't find something at once, he would have to cut
off the allowance for the rent. I told him that he had
put me there for six months, that I had made all
arrangements, and that he was an idiot. If he didn't
know his mind, I knew mine. Oh, we had a fine
set-to, I can tell you. He said that, since I had proved
useless to him, I should have to pay my own rent, so,
what with ghosts and all, I wouldn't stay in the place
another two days; and in going I gave it hot to that
Mr. Dibbin, too — "
The Late Tenant
What had Dibbin done ? " asked David.
He hadn't done anything; but still I gave him a
piece of my mind, for I was wild.'*
"Poor Dibbin! he is still shaky from it. He has
mentioned to me that you went off with a noise like a
catherine-wheel. But you never found any papers at
all in the flat ? "
" No — except one, or rather two, and those Strauss
"How was that.^"
" Because I didn't find them till the day after we had
had the row, when my trunks were ready packed to
go, and I wasn't going to give them to him then, for
his cheek. Besides, they didn't concern him; they
were only a marriage certificate, and the certificate of
a birth which fell out of a picture."
David sat up, saying: "How do you mean, 'fell out
of a picture ' ? "
"As we were carrying out the trunks, there was a
bump, and one of the pictures in the corridor came
down. The boards at the back of it must have been
loose, for they fell out, and among them was an envelope
with the two certificates in it."
"Now, I bless my stars that ever I came to you,"
said David. "This may be the very thing I want."
"How many of you are after papers in that flat, I
should like to know. First there was Strauss, then
that young lady, and now you — '*
" Which young lady ? " asked David.
Von or Van ?
"Why, I hadn't been in the flat three days when a
young lady, a tall, dark girl came, and practically
insulted me. She wanted to know what was my
motive for coming into the flat, and if I was the agent
of any one, and if I meant to purloin any papers which
I might find. Well, I'm not one for taking much sauce
from another woman; for I've got red hair, as you can
see for yourself, but somehow I couldn't be hard on
her, she had had some big trouble, I could tell — a bit
touched somewhere, too, I thought, suspicious as a
bird, sick at the very name of Strauss! She had
dropped to it all right that I was there to serve Strauss's
ends, and she went on her bended knees to me, asking
me not to do it. I couldn't quite make out what it
was all about, or what there was between her and
Strauss, for she wouldn't tell me. It was something
pretty strong, for when I told Strauss about her visit,
I thought the man was going to drop dead. Her name
was Violet Mordaunt. I remember it; for Mordaunt
was also the family name of the woman in the marriage
certificate — "
"Why did you not send this marriage certificate to
Violet Mordaunt.^" asked David, "since you did not
give it to Strauss ? "
"I would have sent it to her, I'm sure, but I didn't
have her address. She did leave me an address that
day she came; but, to tell the truth, I didn't take the
whole to-do about papers, papers, papers, seriously,
and Lord knows what became of the address — "
The Late Tenant
" Oh, good heavens, how selfish and careless ! "
" Look here, young man, you come from Australia ? "
cried Miss L'Estrange, bouncing up from her chair.
"In London people look after themselves and mind
their own business, you see. We are as kind-hearted
here as they are anywhere else, but we haven't the
same leisure to be kind. I tell you that if I had had
the young lady's address I should very likely have
sent her the papers; but I didn't, and that's all; so
"Well, better late than never," said David. "Just
give me the papers now, if you will, for I know her
address — "
" But where are the papers } " said Miss L'Estrange.
" You don't suppose that I keep papers — "
" Don't say that you have lost them ! " pleaded David.
"I haven't the faintest idea where the papers are!
I was in a regular flurry, just moving out of the place;
I had no interest in the papers. I glanced at them to
see what they were, and, as far as I can remember, I
threw them on the floor, or handed them to Jenny.
It's just possible that they are here now; but I shouldn't
fancy so. I'll ask Jenny when she comes in."
"Ah, you little know how much misery you might
have saved a poor girl, if you had been a little more
thoughtful," growled David, and his wrath seemed to
cow the woman somewhat. " This name of Mordaunt
was the maiden name of your predecessor in the flat,
Von or Van ?
who took the name of (Gwendoline Barnes; Violet
Mordaunt is her sister; Gwendoline is believed by all
the world, including her own mother, to have been led
astray, and the certificates which you handled so lightly
would have cleared her name and lifted a world of
grief from her poor sister's heart."
"Good Lord! How was I to know all that?"
shrilled Miss L'Estrange, staring. "So it was Strauss
that ruined Gwen Barnes ? And this Violet Mordaunt
was Gwen Barnes's sister.'* Now you say it, they
were something alike. I always put down that Strauss
for a rotter — "
" But why, since he married her ? "
" Married whom ? Strauss wasn't the husband's
name on the marriage-certificate! Gwendoline Mor-
daunt was one, and the other, as far as I can recollect,
was a foreign name, von Somebody or other — "
"Von!" David also sprang to his feet. "Are you
sure.'* or might it have been 'van'.? Oh, try now to
remember! One is German, the other Dutch!"
"It might have been 'van,' or it might have been
* von ' — you can't expect one to remember after all
these names. But I remember the woman's name,
Gwendoline Mordaunt, quite well, because the Gwen-
doline reminded me of Gwen Barnes, and the Mordaunt
reminded me of Miss Violet Mordaunt; and the hus-
band's name, I know, was von or van Something, and
so was the name of the child — a boy it was — I think
its name was Henry — "
The Late Tenant
"Hupfeldt?" suggested David, suddenly.
" Hupfeldt ? It might have been Hupfeldt. I really
can't say now. I'll ask Jenny."
"At any rate," said David, calming himself with a
great effort, " we have that certain fact that Gwendoline
Mordaunt was a wife. Good, to begin ; most excellent,
to begin. You can't say where the marriage took
place ? No other information at all."
"I'm sorry, since it is so mighty important, but I'm
afraid not. However, I'll do my best for you. I'll
see if I or Jenny can remember anything. When we
left the flat, there was a great overflowing with my
torn-up letters, and Jenny may have thrown the cer-
tificates on that grate, or the bits of them, or she may
have dropped them on the floor, or, just possibly, she
put them in her pocket and may have them still. She
will be here in less than half an hour, so, if I may
ojffer you a cigar, and a whisky and soda — "
"You are very good. I won't stay now, as I am in
a hurry to do something. But, if I may come back —
may I ? "
"Modest request! As often as you please, and
welcome. This is Liberty Hall, you know."
"Thank you, I will, then. There is one thing I
have to ask you. Could you point out to me Mr.
Johann Strauss ? "
" Of course, if I saw him. But I never knew where
he lived, and have never seen him since the day I left
Von or Van ?
" Well, that may come in time," said David, putting
out his hand; "and meantime you will do your best
for me in finding out about the two certificates. Thank
you for all your goodness, and I will be here again
"Good-by," said Miss L'Estrange, "and I do hope
you mean to give that Strauss a sound hiding some
day. You look as if you could do it with one hand
and pick your teeth with the other. It would be no
more than he deserves."
David ran down the flight after flight of stairs quicker
than he had gone up.
"Now," he thought to himself as he left the building
with eager steps, "is my chance to give some joy!"
Going into the first paper-shop, he wrote: "A well-
wisher of Miss Mordaunt desires to assure her that it
is a pretty certain thing that her sister Gwendoline
was a duly wedded wife; the proofs of this statement
may sooner or later be forthcoming."
He put no signature to it, made haste to post it, and
drove back to Eddystone Mansions. It had been wiser
had he flattered Miss Ermyn L'Estrange by returning
THE WORD OF JOY
Not many guests were for the moment at No. 60A,
Porchester Gardens, so that the Mordaunts, mother
and daughter, who always stopped there during their
visits to London, could almost persuade themselves
that they were in their own home. In the good old
days Mr. and Mrs. Harrod, the proprietors, had been
accustomed to receive three Mordaunts to their hos-
pitality, when Gwen, the bright and petted, came with
Violet and Mrs. Mordaunt. Only two now visited
London, a grayer mother, a dumber sister; and though
the Harrods asked no questions, made no prying into
the heart's secret, nor uttered any word of sympathy,
they well divined that the feet of the angel of sorrow
had passed that way, and expressed their pity silently
by a hundred little ministries.
Violet and Mrs. Mordaunt were having tea in the
drawing-room on the day of David Harcourt's visit
to Miss L'Estrange, when the postman's knock sounded,
and a minute later Mrs. Harrod herself came in, say-
"A letter for Miss Violet, and it contains good
news; for I dreamt of soldiers last night, and so sure
The Word of Joy
as I dream of soldiers, so sure are there letters with
good news." "*
"The good news will all be in the other people's
letters, I'm afraid," said Mrs. Mordaunt. "Good
news is like wealth, Mrs. Harrod, unequally divided;
to some of us it never comes."
"Oh, come now!" cried the hearty Mrs. Harrod.
" Never say die, say I ! There's good and bad in store
for everybody; and care killed a cat, after all. Don't
I tell you I dreamt of soldiers ? And so sure — "
"It is that good heart of yours which makes you
dream of soldiers. To bring healing to some lots in
this world, you would have need to dream of generals
and field-marshals — "
"Some more tea, mother.^" interposed Violet. She
shrank from the threatened talk of human ills. Mrs.
Mordaunt, most excellent woman, was not adverse to
pouring some of her grief into a sympathetic ear.
"Well, you will tell me at dinner whether I was
right," cried Mrs. Harrod, and was gone.
She had placed the letter on the tray, and there it
still lay unopened. Violet handed the tea to her
mother. The room was empty, save for them, the
few other guests being out, and in the house reigned
perfect quietude, a peacefulness accentuated by the
wheels and hoofs passing in the dusk outside.
"Vi," said Mrs. Mordaunt, "those flowers at your
waist are almost faded; I think you might give up
violets in London. They don't seem to me the same
The Late Tenant
thing as in the country; but at least let them be fresh.
Mr. Van Hupf eldt will be here presently — "
"How do you know, mother.?"
He mentioned, dear, that he would be coming."
But why, after all, every day.'^"
Is that displeasing to you, dear?"
It seems superfluous."
That compels me to suggest to you, Vi, that his
coming to-day is of some special importance."
" And why, pray ? "
" Can you not guess ? "
The girl stood up; she walked restlessly to the win-
dow and back before she cried: "Mother! mother!
Have you not had experience enough of the curse of
men ? " Her great eyes rested gloomily on the older
woman's face. There was a beautiful heredity marked
in the pair; but seldom have more diverse souls been
pent within similar tabernacles.
"Don't speak so recklessly, dear," said the old
lady. "You had the best of fathers. There are
good men, too, in the world, and when a man is good,
he is better than any woman."
"It may be so. God knows. I hope it is so. But
is Mr. Van Hupfeldt one of these fabulous beings ? It
has not struck me — "
"Please, Violet, don't imagine that I desire to in-
fluence you in the slightest degree," said Mrs. Mor-
daunt. "I merely wish to hint to you what, in fact,
you can't be blind to, that Mr. Van Hupfeldt's inclina-
The Word of Joy
tions are fixed on you, and *hat he will probably give
expression to them to-day. On Saturday he ap-
proached me on the subject, beseeching me with great
warmth to hold out to him hopes which, of course,
I could not hold out, yet which I did not feel author-
ized wholly to destroy. At any rate, I was persuaded
upon to promise him a fair field for his enterprise
"Oh, mother! Really, this is irritating of you!"
cried Violet, letting fall with a clatter a spoon she had
lifted off the table.
"But I don't see it. Why so.?"
"It sounds so light-minded, at your years!"
"As if I was one of the two parties concerned!"
laughed Mrs. Mordaunt with a certain maternal com-
placency. She knew, or thought she knew, her way-
ward daughter. With a little tact this most suitable
marriage could be arranged.
"No," admitted Violet, angry at the weakness of
her defense, "but you allow yourself to be drawn
into having a hand in what is called a love-affair be-
cause it is an event; and it was not fair to Mr. Van
Hupfeldt, since you knew quite well beforehand what
would be the result."
"Well, well," purred Mrs. Mordaunt good-hu-
moredly, looking down to stroke the toy Pom on her
lap, a nervous little animal which one might have
wrapped in a handkerchief, "I will say no more. If
the thought of allowing myself to be bereft of you has
The Late Tenant
occurred to me, you understand for whose good I
gave it a moment's entertainment. Marriage, of
course, is a change of Hfe, and for girls whose minds
have been overshadowed by sorrow, it may not be
altogether a bad thing.'*
"But there is usually some selection in the matter,
I think, some pretense of preference for one above
others. Just marriage by itself hardly seems a goal."
" Yes, love is good, dear — none knows better than
I — but better marriage without love, than love with-
out marriage," muttered Mrs. Mordaunf, suddenly
"And better still life with neither, it seems to me;
and best of all, the end of life, and good-by to it all,
"Vi, Vi! sh-h-h, dear!" Mrs. Mordaunt was so
genuinely shocked that her daughter swung the talk
back into its personal channel.
"Still, I will not see this man. Tell him when he
comes that I will not see him. He has held out to me
hopes which he has done nothing to fulfil."
"What hopes, dear?"
" You may as well know : hopes as to — Gwen,
"Twice he has hinted to me that he knows some
one who knew the man named Strauss ; that he would
succeed in finding this Strauss; that all was quite,
quite well ; and that he did not despair of finding some
The Word of Joy
trace of the whereabouts of the child. He had no
right to say such things, if he had not some real
grounds for beheving that he would do as he hinted.
It is two months ago now since he last spoke in this
way down at Rigsworth, and he has not referred to it
since, though he has several times been alone with me.
I believe that he only said it because he fancied that
whatever man held out such hopes to me would be
likely to find me pliant to his wishes. I won't see liim
" Oh, he said that, did he — that all was quite well,
that he might be able to find . . . But he must have
meant it, since he said it."
" I doubt now that he meant it. Who knows whether
he is not in league with the enemies of her who was
cast helpless to the wolves — "
"Violet, for shame to let such words escape your
lips ! Mr. Van Hupfeldt — a man of standing and
position, presented to us by Lord Vanstone, and mov-
ing in the highest circles! Oh, beware, dear, lest
sorrow warp the gentler instincts of your nature, and
by the sadness of the countenance the heart be not
made better! Grief is evil, then, indeed when it does
not win us into a sweeter mood of charity. I fear, Vi,
that you have lost something of your old amiableness
since the blow."
"Forgive me, darling!" sobbed Violet, dropping
quickly by the side of her mother's chair, with her
eyes swimming. "It has gone deep, this wild
The Late Tenant
wrong. Forgive, forgive! I wish to feel and do right;
but I can't. It is the fault of the iron world."
"No, don't cry, sweet," murmured Mrs. Mordaunt,
kissing her warmly. " It will come right. We must
repress all feelings of rebellion and rancor, and pray
often, and in the end your good heart will find its way
back to its natural sweetness and peace. I myself too
frequently give way, I'm afraid; the ways of Provi-
dence are so inscrutably hard. We must bear up,
and wait, and wait, till * harsh grief pass in time into
far music' As for Mr. Van Hupfeldt, there seems no
reason why you should see him, if you do not wish.
But you haven't opened your letter — see if it is from
Rigs worth, dear."
Violet now rose from her mother's side, and tore
open the letter. She did not know the handwriting,
and as her eyes fell on the words she started. They
were these: "A well-wisher of Miss Mordaunt desires
to assure her that it is a pretty certain thing that her
sister Gwendoline was a duly wedded wife. The
proofs of this statement may sooner or later be forth-
Mrs. Mordaunt's observant glance, noting the
changes of color and expression going on in her daugh-
ter's face, saw that the news was really as Mrs. Harrod
had dreamed. Violet's eyes were raised in silent
thanksgiving, and, without saying anything, she
dropped the note on her mother's lap. Going to one
of the windows, she stood there with tremulous lips.
The Word of Joy
She looked into the dim street through a mist of tears.
For the moment, speech was impossible.
There was silence in the room for some minutes.
Then Mrs. Mordaunt called out: " Vi, dear, come here."
Violet ran from the window with a buoyancy of
dancing in her gait. "Heaven forgive us, mother,
for having wronged Gwendoline in our thoughts!"
said she, with her cheek against her mother's.
"Heaven forgive me rather," said Mrs. Mordaunt.
"You, dear, have never for a moment lost faith and
hope. Butstill, Vi— "
"Let me warn you, dear, against too much con-
fidence in this note. The disappointment may be all
the more terrible. Why could not the sender sign his
name ? Of course, we can guess from whom it comes ;
but does not the fact that he does not sign his name
show a lack of confidence in his own statements .^ "
"Oh, I think not," cried Violet, flushed with en-
thusiasm, "if it is from whom you think; but, who,
then, do you think sent it.'*"
"It can only be from Mr. Van Hupfeldt, child, I
The girl was seemingly taken aback for an instant;
but her thoughts bubbled forth again rapidly: "Well,
his motive for not signing his name may simply be a
very proper reserve, not a lack of confidence in his
statements. Remember, dearest, that he is coming
here to-day with a certain purpose with regard to me,
The Late Tenant
and if he had signed his name, it would have set up a
sort of claim to my favor as a reward for services done.
Oh, now I come to think of it, I call this most generous
of the man!"
"That's splendid, that's right," said Mrs. Mor-
daunt. "Your instincts always scent out nobility
where any clue to it can be found. I am glad that you
take it in that way. But young people are enthusiastic
and prone to jump to conclusions. As we grow older
we acquire a certain habit of second thoughts. In
this instance, no doubt, you are right; he could have
had no other motive — unless — I suppose that there
is no one else from whom the note may possibly have
At this question Violet stood startled a moment,
panting a little, and somehow there passed like a mist
through her consciousness a memory, a half-thought,
of David Harcourt.
"From whom else could it have come.'^" she asked
her mother breathlessly.
"The handwriting is not Mr. Van Hupfeldt's," said
Mrs. Mordaunt, "This is a less ornate hand, you
Violet took the note again, and knit her pretty brows
over it. "No," she said, "this is a much stronger,
cleaner hand — I don't know who else — "
"Yet, if Mr. Van Hupfeldt wished to be generous
in the sense of which you spoke," said her mother, "if
it was his purpose to conceal his part in the matter, he
The Word of Joy
would naturally ask some one else to write for him.
And, since we can imagine no one but him — There !
that, I think, is his rap at the door. Tell me now, Vi,
if you will see him alone ? "
Yes, mother, I will see him."
Bless you for your good and grateful heart ! Well,
then, after a little I will go out. But, oh, pray, do
nothing precipitate in an impulse of joy and mere
gratitude, child! If I am bereft of my two children,
I am bereft indeed. Do find happiness, my darling.
That first and above all."
At that moment Mrs. Harrod looked in, with her
pleasant smile, saying: "Mr. Van Hupfeldt is here.
Well, did the letter contain good news ? "
*'You dear!" murmured Violet, running to kiss her,
"I must wear red before you, so that you may dream
of soldiers every, every night!"
The steps of Van Hupfeldt were heard coming up
Van Hupfeldt bowed himself into the drawing-
room. His eyes wandering weighingly with a quick
underlook which they had from the face of Violet to
that of Mrs. Mordaunt, and back again to Violet. He
saw what pleased him, smiles on both faces, and his
brow lightened. He was a man of about forty, with
a little gray in his straight hair, which, parted in the
middle, inclosed the forehead in a perfect arch. He
stood upon thin legs as straight as poles. His hands
and feet were small. His features as regular and
chiseled as a statue's; he looked more Spanish than
Mrs. Mordaunt received him with a pressure of the
hand in which was conveyed a message of sympathy
and encouragement, and Van Hupfeldt bent toward
Violet with a murmur:
" I am glad to see you looking so bright to-day."
"You observe quickly," said Violet.
"Some things," answered Van Hupfeldt.
"Our good hostess has been dreaming of soldiers,
Mr. Van Hupfeldt," put in Mrs. Mordaunt, lightly,
"and it seems that such a dream always brings good
news to her guests; so mv daughter is feeling the
effects of it."
Van Hupfeldt looked puzzled, and asked: "Has
Miss Violet heard that her orchids are flourishing in
her absence, or that those two swans I promised have
arrived ? "
Violet and Mrs. Mordaunt exchanged glances of
approval of this speech, the latter saying: "There are
brighter tilings in the world than orchids, thank
Heaven! and a kind deed may be more white and
graceful than all the swans of Dale Manor."
Van Hupfeldt looked still more puzzled — a look
which was noted by the women, but was attributed by
them to a wish not to seem to know anything of the
joyful note, and was put down to his credit. After
some minutes' talk of a general nature, Mrs. Mor-
daunt went out. Violet sat in an easy-chair at one of
the balcony windows. Van Hupfeldt leaned against
the embrasure of the window. He seemed to brace
himself for an effort before he said to her:
" This is Monday evening, and since Saturday, when
I brought you from the cemetery, I have not once
closed my eyes. If you continue to manifest this
inconsolable grief for your sister's fate, I must break
down in some way. Something will happen. I shall
go crazy, I think."
"You mean very kindly, I suppose," answered
Violet, with lowered lids; "though I do not see — "
"No, you cannot see, you do not know," said he,
The Late Tenant
with a certain redness and strain in the eyes which
made it a credible thing that he had not slept in some
time. "But it is so. It has been the craving of my
life to save you from this grief. Let me do it; you
have to let me do it!"
" How save me .^ " she asked, with an upward glance
under her long lashes, while she wondered at the blaze
in the man's eyes. "I am not to be saved from it
by any means, though it will be lessened by the proofs
of my sister's honor and of her child's fair name, and
by the discovery of the whereabouts of the child.
There are no other means."
"Yes, there are! There is the leaving of your
present Hfe, the companionship of one who will have
no care but to make you happy, to redress a little in
you the wrong done to your sister. That is my motive
— God knows ! — that is my main motive — "
"Surely I do not understand you aright!" cried
Violet, somewhat dismayed by his outburst, "Your
motive is to redress a wrong done by some one to my
sister by devoting yourself to make me happy? Cer-
tainly, that seems a most nobly disinterested motive;
but is philanthropy of this sort the best basis for the
kind of proposition which you are making me ? Philan-
thropy most certainly would wear thin in time, if it
did not rest on affection — "
" Do you doubt that I have affection ? " he demanded,
his voice vibrating with ill-repressed passion.
" As an afterthought } "
"How as an afterthou^Iit, when my life itself de-
pends upon continually seeing you, and seeing you
happy? I tell you that if you were to refuse my
prayer this evening, if anything was to happen now
or in the future to thwart my cravings with respect
to you, my mind is made up, I would not continue to
face the harrowing cark of life. Say ' No ' to me, and
from to-morrow evening you will be tortured by the
same worm of remorse by which the man who caused '
the death of your sister must be gnawed and gnawed.
You talk of affection ? I have that. I do, yes, I do
love you; but that would be the flimsiest motive com-
pared with this passion which casts me at your feet."
"I don't understand him,'* sighed Violet to herself
— and no wonder, for Van Hupfeldt's words came
from him in a sort of hiss; his eyes were bloodshot; he
stooped close over her, with veins standing out on his
forehead. It was clear enough that the man's soul
was in this wooing, yet he made so little pretense of
the ordinary lover's love. He left her cold, this woman
made for love, and she wondered.
"Tell me quickly," he said, "I think that your
mother is not unwilling. Only let me hear the word
*Yes,' and the *when' shall be left to you."
"Pray listen, Mr. Van Hupfeldt," said Violet, bend-
ing over her knee, which she slung between her clasped
fingers. "Let us reason together; let us understand
each other better. I am not disposed to be unfriendly
toward you — do not think that — nor even to reject
The Late Tenant
your suit unconditionally. I owe you much, and I
see that you are greatly in earnest; but I am not clear.
Your motive seems to be philanthropic. You have
said as much yourself, you know. Still, philanthropy
is only warm; it is never hot to desperation; it never
commits suicide in despair of doing good. That,
then, is the first thing which I fail to understand in
you. And, secondly, I do not grasp why you desire
any closer relation to be set up between us for my
happiness, when I assure you that nothing but the
rehabilitation of my sister's name could lighten my
unhappiness, and that, this once done, nothing further
could possibly be done by any one to attach me more
"But I am older than you, and know better,"
answered Van Hupfeldt, seating himself beside her,
speaking now more calmly. "You know nothing of
the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them.
Travel alone would give you a new outlook. I should
ever be inventing new pleasures and excitements for
you. Sometimes, already, I lie awake at night, think-
ing them out. I am very rich, and all my wealth
should be turned into one channel, to delight you.
You know nothing of society in the States, of the
brilliance and abandon of life across the Atlantic.
And the Paris heau monde, with its charm and wit and
easy joyousness, you know nothing yet of that. I
should find the means to keep you constantly gay, to
watch you in ever new phases, costumes, jewels — "
The thought passed through Violet's mind: "He
has distinguished manners, but a vulgar mind," and
she said aloud: "So that is how you would wean me
from sorrow, Mr. Van Hupfeldt ? I should prefer a
week of Dale Manor with my birds and flowers to a
cycle of all that."
"Then it shall be Dale Manor rather than 'all
that,' " he agreed. " It shall be just as you would
have it, if only you will be happy, and will give me a
glance one day which means ' My happiness is due to
you.' May I have another peep at the locket?"
Violet took a locket from her neck, pressed a spring,
and showed within a miniature in water-colors of the
dead Gwen. She shivered a little. Though she was
speaking of her sister, the man's sudden request jarred
"I like to look at it," said Van Hupfeldt, bending
closer. " It reminds me of you — chiefly about the
mouth and chin, about the dear little chin. She
suffered, yes, she tasted sorrow, and since she suffered,
you must not suffer, too. I kiss her instead of you,
because she was like you."
This, certainly, was an odd reason for Van Hup-
feldt's tenderness to the miniature, but Violet's heart
instantly warmed toward him for his pity of her be-
loved; and when he replaced the locket round her
neck, saying: "So, then, do we understand each other
now ? " she found it hard to answer : " I'm afraid that
I am as far from understanding as ever."
The Late Tenant
"That will come in time, trust me,'' said he; "but
as to that little word ' Yes,' is it to be taken as uttered
"No, not now," she said gently, "though do not go
away thinking it may never be. Let me be frank,
Mr. Van Hupfeldt. You know quite well that I am
not at present disposed to worship your sex, and that
is really so. Honestly, I don't think that the human
species adorns the earth on which it lives, least of all
the male part of it. If I wished to marry, I believe I
should choose some poor tiller of the fields, who had
never seen a city, or heard of the arts of vice. You
see, then, that the whole notion of marriage must be
sufiiciently distasteful to me. I wouldn't and couldn't
give myself; but I am quite willing to — to make a
" A bargain ? " He started, and his dark eyes stared
at her blankly.
"Yes, it is better to be candid. When you have
cleared my sister's name, or found the child, as you
hope to be able to do, then, if you desire me still the
same, you will again speak to me. I cannot definitely
part from my freedom without a certainty that you
will be able to do what you hope; and it is only fair to
you to let you know that I should probably consent to
give the same promise to any other man who would
and could do this much for me."
Upon this Van Hupfeldt's brow flushed angrily,
and he leaped to his feet, crying : " But that will never
be ! Clear your sister's nax^e ? You still talk like a
Now it was Violet's turn to stand up in astonish-
ment, as she saw her castle in the clouds diminishing.
She stared in her turn, with open lips, crying: "Do you
say this ? that it will never be ? "
"How can you set a man's hfe on the chance of the
realization of such a mere dream?" asked Van Hup-
feldt, irritated, saying more than was wise.
" A dream ? " murmured Violet, as if in a dream
herself. " Then, who is it that has sent me this ? "
Thereupon she drew from her pocket David Har-
court's unsigned note. She held it out to Van Hup-
feldt, and he, without touching, leaned over and read
it; apparently slowly; more than once, so Violet thought.
He stood there looking at the letter an unconscionable
time, she holding it out for him to read, while the
man's face bled away inwardly, as it were to death,
and some power seemed to rivet his eyes, some power
stronger than his effort to withdraw them.
The thought passing through Van Hupfeldt's soul
was this: "Some one knows that she was a 'duly
wedded wife.' But who.^ iVnd how .^ To him it is
somehow *a pretty certain thing'; and the proofs of it
*may sooner or later be forthcoming'; and then he
will give these proofs to Violet."
" I see, then, that it was not you who sent it to me,"
said Violet at last, and, as she said it, a certain gladness,
a little thrill of relief, occurred somewhere within her.
The Late Tenant
Van Hupfeldt straightened himself. His lips were
white, but they smiled dreadfully, though for some
part of a second he hesitated before he said: "Now,
who told you that?"
"I do not, of course, know the facts," said Violet;
"but I should like to."
"You may as well know," said Van Hupfeldt,
turning away from her. "Yes, I sent it."
Violet flushed. His manner did not carry convic-
tion even to a mind not used to doubt the spoken word.
It was horrid to think he was lying. Yet an odd
sheepishness was visible in his face; his voice was not
strong and brave.
"Well, I am still in a maze," she murmured. "Since
it was you who sent it, and since you say in it that
my sister's honor is now *a pretty certain thing,' and
that ' the proofs will be forthcoming, ' why did you say
a moment ago that it is 'a mere dream' to look for-
ward to their forthcoming ? "
Van Hupfeldt was looking out of the window. He
did not answer at once; only after a minute he replied
without looking round: "It was I who sent you the
note. Yes, it was I; and what I say in it is true —
somehow — true in some way; but I did not wish you
to make the realization of those hopes a condition of
your giving yourself to me. Hence I said that your
stipulation was 'a mere dream.' Now, you under-
stand; now, I think, all is clear to your mind."
Violet sighed, and made no answer. All was not
so very clear to her mind. One thing only was clear,
that the nobility with which she and her mother had
credited Van Hupfeldt in sending the note anony-
mously, so that he might not claim a reward from her,
was not a deep nobility; for he had promptly volun-
teered the information that it was he who had sent it.
She felt some disgust. A woman disillusioned about
a man rushes to the opposite pole. Let him but be
detected to be not the hero which she had thought
him, and steep is his fall. Henceforth he is not only
not a hero but less than nothing in her eyes. Violet
paced aimlessly through the room, then went to the
window farthest from that at which Van Hupfeldt
stood, and the unspoken words on her lips were: "The
At last Van Hupfeldt almost rushed at her, with the
cry: "The promise on that sheet of paper in your
hand shall be fulfilled, and fulfilled by me, I vow, I
swear it to you! But the fulfilment of it must not be
made a condition of our union. The union must come
first, and then the fulfilment; and the quicker the union
the sooner the fulfilment."
" No, I will not have it so."
" You are to release my wrist, Mr. Van Hupfeldt ! "
" You must ! "
" But why hold me ? "
" Listen — your sister was a wedded wife. I know
it, I have reason to know it, and I am certain that,
The Late Tenant
if you marry me, within six months after the marriage
I shall be in a position to hand you the proofs of every-
thing — to tell you truly the whole history from begin-
ning to end — "
"But why six months after? Why not six months
" I have reasons — there are reasons. What I
shall have to tell will be a pain to you, I foresee, a pain;
but perhaps not a pain which you will be unable to
outlive. Nevertheless, from what I already know of
your sister's history, I see that it must be told you
after, not before, our union. It is a terrible history,
I — gather, a harrowing tale. You don't even guess,
you are far from being able to hear it now, even if I
could tell you now. Violet! say 'Yes' to me!"
" What ? Without understanding anything ? "
" Yes, Violet, turn to me ! Violet, say * Yes ' to me ! "
" But what guaranty — "
"My pledged word, nothing else; that is enough.
I say that within six months, not more, from the day
of our marriage you shall have all that you desire to
know, even the child shall have been found, for already
I am on its track. But unless you consent, you will
never know, the child will never be found; for I shall
be dead, and the knowledge which I am in course of
gathering shall die with me. If you will not give
yourself, then, agree to that bargain you spoke of."
" One gives, in a bargain, for something one receives."
"It is the only condition on which we can come
together. I could not bring you to-day the proofs
that you long for, even if I had them. It must be six
months after — not less than six months after — and
for then I promise, calling Heaven to witness. Be-
Heve in me! Not all things that a man says are true;
but this is true. Violet, for Gwen's sake, within a
week — the sooner it's done, the sooner you hear —
witliin not more than two weeks — "
Violet, sore beset, sliielded her eyes with a listless
hand. Van Hupfeldt was pleading like a man battUng
for his last earthly good. And yet, and yet, he left
"I don't doubt your promise," she said with a
charming shyness; "but it is a great matter, you give
me no guaranties, you may fail, and then all will
have been in vain."
" I won't fail. I shall so manage that there will be
no chance of failure. And to prove my faith, if you
say 'Yes,' I think I can undertake that within only
two months after the marriage the child shall be un-
earthed, and within six the proofs of his legitimacy
shall be handed you. That's fair — that seems fairer
— come, now. Only the marriage must be prompt in
that case, without a fortnight's delay. I can't offer
better terms. What do you say to it.^"
Violet, without answering, suddenly cast herself
upon the sofa-head, burying her face in it. A bitter
lamentation came from her, so thin and low that Van
Hupfeldt could scarce hear it. He stood over her,
The Late Tenant
looking at her, his heart in his mouth; and presently,
bending to her, he whispered: "Tell me!"
"God knows!" came from her brokenly.
He put his lips on her hair, and she shivered. "It
is 'Yes,' then," said he; "but pity me still more, and
say that it shall be at once."
"No," she sobbed, "I must have time to think.
It is too much, after all — "
At that moment Mrs. Mordaunt entered. Violet,
aroused by the opening door, stood up with a bent
head, an averted face, and Van Hupfeldt said, with a
sort of frenzied laugh, to Mrs. Mordaunt: "See how
the days are lengthening out already."
Mrs. Mordaunt looked at Violet with a query in
her glance ; and Violet's great eyes dwelt on her mother
without answering by any sign that question of lifted
eyebrows. The girl was puzzled and overwrought.
Was it so that men won women, that some man had
won her sister ? Surely this was a strange wooing !
AT DEAD OF NIGHT
David Harcourt, meantime, had long since reached
home after his interview with Miss L'Estrange, where-
upon Mrs. Grover had presented him with her first
specimen of housewifery in the shape of a lunch.
But, as if to prove that the fates were against litera-
ture that day, she also presented him with a letter
from the agent Dibbin, saying: "Herein please find
address of Sarah Gissing, servant of the late Miss
Gwendoline Barnes, as promised."
David's first impulse was to go straightway after
the meal to interview this Sarah Gissing. Then he
set his lips, saying to himself: "The day's work," and,
after lighting his pipe, he walked up to his literary
tools with the grimness of a man about to throttle an
enemy. Whereupon he sat down and wrote some-
thing. When he came back to earth with a weary
but taut brain, Mrs. Grover was gone for the day.
It was near seven in the evening, and the prairie-wolf
within was growling "Dinner-time."
His mental faculties being now on a tension, he
thought to himself that there was no reason why he
should not be prompt, and call upon Miss Gissing
The Late Tenant
that evening. Though, after dinner, a mortal lethargy
and reaction seized upon him with the whisper, "To-
morrow is better than to-day," he proved true to his
high-strung self, and went by bus to Baker-St., where
he took train for the station nearest the village of
It was a sharp walk from station to village. There
was no cab; and when he arrived at the Peacock Inn,
where Sarah Gissing was now a barmaid, he learned
that she was away on leave at a neighboring village.
He strolled about the silent street until Sarah came
home at ten o'clock, a thin girl, with projecting top
teeth, and a chronic stare of wonderment in her eyes.
"You are not to be alarmed," David said to her.
"I only came to ask you a few questions about your
late mistress, Miss Gwendoline Barnes, in whom I
have an interest. No one will be harmed, as far as I
am aware, by your telling me all that you know,
while you and I may profit by it."
They spoke in the tiny inn drawing-room, and
Sarah in her coat, with her hat on, sitting on the
piano-stool, stared and answered shortly at first. Little
by little she was induced to utter herself.
"He was a tall man," she said, "rather thin, dark
and pale — "
"Straight nose?" asked David.
"Yes, sir, straight nose; a handsome man."
Black mustache, nicely turned out ? "
'Yes, sir; he had a mustache."
At Dead of Night
"Well, but all that says nothing. Many people
answer such a description. Was there no photograph
of him in the flat ? Did you never see a photograph ? "
"Yes, there was a photograph on the mantelpiece
of Miss Barnes's bed-room. In a silver frame it was;
but the day after her death the silver frame was still
there, and the photograph was gone, for I noticed it
"Do you realize that you are telling me a mighty
odd thing," said David with sudden interest. "How
soon after the door was forced did you go into the flat."
" Wasn't I there when the door was forced ? Didn't
I go in at once ? "
"And how soon afterward did you notice that the
photograph was gone from the silver frame ? "
"How soon ? Soon afterward." .
"It was not one of the men who forced the door
who removed the photograph from the frame ? "
"I don't think that, sir. I would have noticed it
if that had been the case."
"When you went in you found the body of your
mistress lying dead; the front door had been bolted
inside; so there was no way for any one to have come
out of the flat. And when you left your mistress the
previous night the photograph was in its frame, but
gone when the door was forced the next day. Those
are the facts, aren't they ? "
"Well, that seems to say that it was Miss Barnes
The Late Tenant
herself who removed the photograph, doesn't it ? And
it follows that the photograph is still in the flat ? "
"P'raps she did it to screen him," suggested Sarah,
indulging in the vanity of thought. "I shouldn't
wonder if that was it. No doubt she tore up the
photograph, or burnt it."
"But you didn't see any shreds or ashes of it any-
where ? "
" Not of a photograph, although I did sweep out the
place the same day, too. Still, that's not to say she
didn't tear it up because there was no shreds of it,
for there are ways and means."
"Were there shreds of any kind about?"
"Yes; she must have torn up a good few letters
overnight before doing what she did. There was no
end of litter, for that matter."
" But suppose she did not burn or tear up the photo-
graph," said David, "where would she have hidden it?
Can you suggest a place ? Did you ever know her
to hide anything ? For, if she hid one thing, she may
have hidden others, mayn't she ? "
"I believe there's one letter she must have hidden,"
answered Sarah, " unless she destroyed it — a letter
that came from Paris four days before she made away
with herself. I saw the postmark and the hand-
writing, so I know. It was from him, for he was in
Paris at the time, and it was that letter that was the
death of her, I feel certain. It came about eleven
o'clock, soon after breakfast. She was at the piano
At Dead of Night
in her dressing-gown, singing, not ordinary singing,
but a kind of moaning of different notes, practising
her voice like — it used to give me the blues to hear
her every morning, it was so doleful like, moan, moan,
moan! So I says, *A letter for you, mum,' and she
first stared at it in my hand, then she jumped up
sudden like, and kind of snatched it out of my hand.
But she didn't read it. She went with it to the front
window, looking out, holding the letter behind her
back with her two hands, trembling from head to
foot. So, not having any excuse to stay, I went out,
but didn't quite close the door. I loitered for a little
while; but, not hearing anything, I went about my
work, till half an hour later something seemed to say
to me: 'Better have a look,' and when I peeped into
the drawing-room, there she was sitting on the floor
with her face on the sofa, and the letter in her hand.
I thought she had the neuralgia; she looked that
much in pain, you never saw. I spoke to her, but she
looked at me, sick like, and didn't say nothing. I
don't believe she could have stood up, if she had tried,
and it did go to my heart to see her struck down and
helpless like that."
David's close interest in her story pleased the girl.
Such a nice young man he was^ Perhaps he might
call again some evening.
"My missus wasn't quite right the rest of her time,
I don't think," she went on. "She wandered about
the flat, restless as a strange kitten, singing bits of
The Late Tenant
songs, and she had a sweet soprano voice, I'm sure,
that pierced you through when she screamed out the
high notes. She didn't go to the theater any more,
after the letter. The next day she comes to me in the
kitchen, singing and chuckhng to herself, and she
says to me: *What are you doing here?' says she.
*How do you mean, mum?' says I. 'Listen, Sarah,'
says she, putting her face quite close to mine, * you
shouldn't be here, this is not a place for a decent girl
like you. You are to understand that I am not mar-
ried. I told you that I was; but it was a lie. I have
a child; but I am not married,' and she ran off, laugh-
ing again to herself, as wild as a bird."
"No, not that!" interrupted David, for the out-
spoken revelation hurt him. "It was not so much
that which I wished to hear. Let us talk of the letter
and the man. You never saw the letter again ? You
can't think what your mistress may have done with it ? "
"No, I never saw it again," said Sarah, "nor I
can't think where she may have put it, unless she tore
it up. There's only one queer thing which I can call
to mind, and that is, that during the afternoon of the
day before she died, I went out to buy some soda, and
when I came back I found her standing on a chair,
hanging up one of the pictures in the long corridor,
I wondered at the time whether it had fallen down or
what, though I didn't say anything. But now I come
to think of it — "
David thought to himself: "She was then hiding
At Dead of Night
the marriage and birth certificates which Miss
L'Estrange afterward saw when the picture fell. She
was reluctant to destroy them, and yet wished to screen
the man, having in her mind the purpose to take
her own life. The man's photograph and the fatal
letter from him were not hidden in the picture,
but somewhere else, perhaps. I must search every
"Of course," he said aloud, "you could easily
identify her husband if he was shown to you again ? '*
"Oh, rather, sir," Sarah answered, "I've seen him
dozens of times. He used to come to the flat anyway
twice a week, though sometimes he would be away
for a goodish stretch, mostly in Paris."
" They were an affectionate pair — fond of each
other ? "
"They were that, indeed," said Sarah with a smile,
as one who understood that sort of thing. "He, I'm
sure, worshiped the ground she walked on, and she
was just as bad. It came as a surprise to me that
anything was wrong, though latterly she did use
to have red eyes sometimes after he had been with
What name did she call him by.^" asked David.
His name was Johann Strauss, wasn't it.^"
"He was a Mr. Strauss, sir, yes, but not the other
name you say. At least, she always called him Harry."
"Henry is sometimes the English for Johann, you
see," muttered David, with a random guess that
The Late Tenant
Sarah was none the wiser. " Henry, too, was the name
of the child, wasn't it ? How about the child ? Don't
you know where it is ? "
" I only know that she used to go every Tuesday and
Thursday by the seventeen minutes past two train
from Baker-St., and be back by six o'clock, so it
couldn't have been very far. 'Pon my word, some-
times she'd go half crazy over that cliild. There was
a little box of clothes that she's many a time made me
waste half a day over, showing me the things, as if
I'd never seen them afore, everything that was possible
embroidered with violets, and she'd always be mak-
" Fond of violets, was she ^ " broke in David, ready
enough to catch at the phrase.
" Oh, it was all violets with her, — violets in her hair,
at her neck, at her waist, and all about the place.
She had a sister called Violet, and I came to know
the sister as well as I knew herself in a manner of
speaking, she was always telling me about her. For
often she had nobody to talk to, and then she'd make
me sit down to hear about her mother and this Miss
Vi and the child, and what she meant to do when her
marriage could be made public, and that. She was
a good, affectionate lady, was Miss Gwen, sir. You
couldn't help loving her, and it was a mortal hard
thing what happened."
It was just then that the mistress of the tavern
looked in with an unsympathetic face; so David rose
At Dead of Night
and slipped a gold coin into the hand of the staring
Sarah. The talk had already lasted a long while,
and the inn-door had to be opened to let him out.
He walked the two miles back to the station, and
there learned that the last up-train for the night had
just left. Even on the suburban lines there is a limit
to late hours.
This carelessness on his own part caused him to
growl. It was now a question either of knocking up
some tavern, or of tramping to London — about
twenty-one miles. However, twenty-one miles made
no continent to him, and, after posting liimself by
questions as to the route, he set out.
Throwing his overcoat over his left arm, he put his
elbows to his ribs, lifted his face skyward, and went
away at a long, slow, swinging trot. One mile
winded him. He stopped and walked for five minutes,
then away he went again at a steady jog-trot; and
now, with this second wind, he could have run in one
heat to Bow Bells without any feeling but one of joy
and power. He had seen Indians run all day long
with pauses. He had learned the art from them, and
London had scarce had time as yet to enervate him.
Up hill and down dale he went steadily away, like a
machine. It was dark at first, dismal in some places,
the sky black, crowded with stars, like diamond-seed
far sown; but suddenly, wliile he was trotting through
the main street of Uxbridge, all this was changed, the
whole look and mood of things undenvent transfor-
The Late Tenant
mation, as the full moon floated like a balloon of light
into the sky. It was then about one-thirty in the
morning. Thenceforth his way was almost as clearly
lit as by day.
Through dead villages he passed, through dead
Ealing to Shepherd's Bush; there were cats, and there
were policemen, and one running man, little else.
Here or there a constable was half-drawn into giving
chase, but wisely forbore — he never would have
caught David Harcourt. But at Shepherd's Bush
David came to the foot of a long hill, which he shirked,
and drew up. From that point he walked to Notting
Hill, past Kensington Gardens, toward Oxford Circus.
It was near three a.m.
Walking on the south side of Oxford-St. eastward,
he stopped to look at some books behind a grille.
The moonshine was so luminous, the sky so clear,
that he could see well enough to read their titles.
This was the only quiet hour of London. There was
not a sound, save the echo of a policeman's tread
some way off down Regent-St. Not even a night cab
rattled in the distance. And then, on the other side
of the street, his quick ears caught the passing of
swift-gliding feet — a woman's.
When David glanced round, already she was gone
well past him, making westward, most silently, with a
steady haste. She gave him the impression of having
been overtaken by, of being shy at, the moonUght.
His heart leaped in a spasm of recognition, almost of
At Dead of Night
fear. And he followed, he could not help it; as water
flows downward, as the needle follows the magnet,
he followed, with the stealthy pace of the stalker, as
silently as if he was tracking a deer, and as keenly.
His breathing, meantime, was as if suspended, his
heart seemed to stand still. That form and motion,
his instincts would have recognized them in midnight
glimmer of dull lamps, and now they were before him
in light. Still he could not believe his wits. He
doubted whether he was not moonstruck, chasing a
phantom made of the clair-obscure stuff of those
dead hours of the night when dreams are rife in the
world, and ghosts leer through the haunted chambers
of the brain. That she should be walking the streets
of London at three in the morning, alone, hastening
secretly homeward like some poor outcast forecon-
scious of the light of dawn! — this savored somewhat
of limbo and lunacy. For what good reason could
she be thus abroad ? A swarm of doubts, half-doubts,
queer bodings, jostled in David's heart. She might,
indeed, have come out to summon a doctor, to obtain
a drug in an emergency. But something in her air
and pace, something clandestine, desperate, illicit,
seemed to belie this hope. She turned north when she
had gone so far west as Orchard-St., little thinking,
apparently, that she was being shadowed, and thence
sped on west and north alternately through smaller
streets, a region in which the desolation of the sleeping
city seemed even more confirmed. And David fol-
The Late Tenant
lowed, with this thought in his mind, that, though he
had not seen her face, he had a certain means of deter-
mining her identity — for, if the flying figure before
him went to 60A, Porchester Gardens, the address
wliich he had of Violet Mordaunt, then this must be
Not that in the later part of his chase he had the
slightest doubt. The long black cloak, like those that
nurses wear, inflated behind her, the kind of toque
above it, the carriage of her head, the slope of her
shoulders, all these were hers: and she sped direct,
notwithstanding turns and twists, to Porchester Gar-
dens. David, from behind the corner of a street,
could see her go up the house-steps, bend over some-
thing in her hand, open the door, and slip on what
must have been rubber overshoes. This secrecy re-
volted him, and again he almost doubted that it was
she. But when she had gone in, he hastened from
his street-corner to the door to read the house-number,
and it was 60A.
She was gone now. It was too late to challenge
and upbraid her. He already regretted that he had
not dared. He was bitter at it. Something said
within him: "Both sisters!" Some envenomed fang
of anger, spite, and jealousy plagued him, a feeling
that he was wholly out of it, and had no part nor lot
in her life and acts; and then, also, like oil on the
waters, came pity. He must home to his haunted
flat, where the scent of the violets which he had bought
At Dead of Night
greeted him on his entrance. It was near four o'clock.
After looking gloomily for some time at the head in
chalks, he read three letters which he had found in
the letter-box. One of them was from Miss L'Estrange,
and in it she said:
"I have asked my girl, Jenny, about the marriage
and birth certificates which fell out of the picture,
and there's something funny about her." (A woman
never means humor when she uses that word funny.)
"She wants to make out that she knows nothing
about what became of them, but I believe she does.
Perhaps she has found out Strauss and sold them to
him, or perhaps she only means to do so, and you may
get them from her if you be quick and bid high. Any-
way, I have done my best for you, and now it is in
your own hands. You can come here whenever you
But David was now suddenly not so devoted to the
affairs of Violet and Gwendoline Mordaunt as he had
been. What he had seen within the past hour made
him bitter. He went foraging in the kitchen for
something to eat, then threw himself into bed in a
vexed mood, as some gray of morning mingled with
As for Henry Van Hupfeldt, he, too, at that morn-
ing hour lay awake in his bed. If ever man knew
panic, it was he all that night. He had gone home
from his interview with Violet, cringing in his carriage
even from the glance of the passers in the streets,
stricken to the heart by that unsigned note of David's
to Violet: "A pretty certain thing that your sister was
a duly wedded wife" . . . "the proofs of it will be
forthcoming." Some one knew!
But who ? And how ? Van Hupfeldt locked him-
self away from his valet — he lived in chambers near
Hanover Square — and for hours sat without a move-
ment, staring the stare of the hopeless and the lost.
The fact that he had as good as won from Violet
the pledging of herself to him — that fact which at
another time would have filled him with elation, was
now almost forgotten in the darkness of his calamity,
as a star is swallowed up by clouds. The thing was
known! That known which had been between the
chamber of his heart and God alone! A bird of the
air had whispered it, another soul shared in its horror.
The faintest hiss of a wish to commit murder came
from between his teeth. He had meant well, and
ill had come; but because he had meant not badly
and had struggled hard with fate, let no man dare to
meddle! He could be flint against the steel of a man.
His eyes, long bereft of sleep, closed of themselves
at last, and he threw himself upon his bed. But the
pang which pierces the sleep of the condemned crimi-
nal soon woke him. He opened his eyes with a clearer
mind, and set to tliinking. The unsigned note to
Violet was in a man's hand. Some nights before in
the cemetery he had found a man near the grave with
her, and the man had seemed to be talking with her,
a young, sunburned man. Who he was he had no
idea; he had no reason to think this was the man
who had sent the note. There was left only Miss
L'Estrange. She might have sent it, getting a man
to write for her — suspicion of itself fixed upon her.
Always he had harbored this fear, that some paper,
something to serve as a clue, had been left in the flat,
which would lie hidden for a time, and then come
forth into the noonday to undo him utterly. Gwen-
doline, he knew, had wished to screen him; but the
chances were against him. He had never dared to
go into the flat alone, to take the flat in his own name,
and search it inside out. The place was haunted by
a light step, and a sigh was in the air which no other
ear could hear, but which his ear would hear without
fail. Within those walls his eyes one night had seen a
The Late Tenant
He had not dared to take the place; but he had put
Miss L'Estrange into it, and she had failed him; so,
suspecting at last that she did not search according
to the bargain, he had threatened to stop supplies, in
order merely to spur her to search, for his heart had
always foreboded that there was something to find.
Gwen, he knew, had kept a diary. Where was
that.? His photographs, where were they.? His last
letter to her ? The certificates ? Had they all been
duly destroyed by her.? Had she forgotten nothing.?
But when he had attempted to spur L'Estrange, the
woman had flown into a fury, and he had allowed
himself to lose his temper. How bitter now was his
remorse at this folly! He ought to have kept some
one in perpetuity in the flat, till all fear of anything
lying hidden in it was past. He suspected now that
L'Estrange might have found some document, and
had kept it from him through his not being well in
her favor during the last weeks of her residence. He
groaned aloud at this childishness of his. It was his
business to have kept in touch with her, to have made
her rich. But it was not too late.
So, on the following evening, he presented himself
at the stage-door of the theater where Miss Ermyn
L'Estrange was then displaying her charms, in his
hand an ecrin containing a riviere of diamonds. He
said not one word about his motive for coming to her
after so long, but put out an every-day hand, as if no
dispute had been between them.
"Well, this is a surprise!" said she, "What's the
game now ? "
"No game," said he, assuming the necessary jaunti-
ness. "Should old acquaintance be forgot?" They
drove together to the Cafe Royal.
"It was just as I tell you," she explained in the cab,
driving later to Chelsea. "I never saw one morsel
of any paper until that last day, when the two cer-
tificates dropped out of the picture, and them I
wouldn't give you because of the tiff. I'm awfully
sorry now that I didn't," she glanced down at the
riviere on her palm; "but there, it's done, and can't
be undone — nature of the beast, I s'pose."
" And you really think Jenny has them ? Are you
sure, now ? Are you sure ? " asked Van Hupfeldt,
"That's my honest belief," she answered. "I
think I remember tossing them to Jenny, and as Jenny
knew that I had gone into the flat specially to search
for papers for you, she must have said to herself:
'These papers may be just what have been wanted,
and they'll be worth their weight in gold to me, if I
can find Mr. Strauss.' No doubt she's been look-
ing for you ever since, or waiting for you to turn
up. When I said to her yesterday: 'What about
those two papers that dropped out of the picture at
Eddystone Mansions ? ' she turned funny, and couldn't
catch her breath. ' Which two papers, miss ? ' she
says. 'Oh, you go on,' I said to her; 'you know very
The Late Tenant
well. Those that dropped out of the picture that
fell down.' — *Yes,' said she, *now I remember. I
wonder what could have become of them } Didn't
you throw them into the fireplace, Miss L' Estrange .'^ '
— 'No, I didn't, Jenny,' I said to her, 'and a woman
should lie to a man, not to another woman ; for it takes
a liar to catch a liar.' — 'But what lie am I telling.
Miss L' Estrange .'^ ' says she. 'I am not sure,' I said,
'but I know that yoii ought to tie your nose with
string whenever you're telling a lie, for your nostrils
keep opening and shutting, same as they're doing
now.' — 'I didn't know that, I'm sure,' says she.
'That's queer, too, if my nostrils are opening and
shutting.' — 'It's only the truth,' I said to her; 'your
mouth is accustomed to uttering falsehood, and it
doesn't mind, but when your nostrils smell the lie
coming out, they get excited, my girl.' — 'Fancy!'
says she. 'That's funny!' — 'So where's the use keep-
ing it up, Jenny ? ' I said to her. ' You do make me
wild, for I know that you're lying, and you know that
I know, and yet you keep it up, as if I was a man, and
didn't know you. If you've got the papers, say so;
you are perfectly welcome to them, for I don't want to
take them from you,' I said. 'Well, you seem to
know more than I do myself, miss,' she says. *Oh,
you get out!' I said to her, and I pushed her by the
shoulders out of the room. That's all that passed
" For what reason did you ask her about these papers
yesterday in particular?" demanded Van Hupfeldt,
thickly, a pain gripping at his heart.
" I'll tell you. The new tenant of the flat came to me — "
" Ah ! the flat is let again ? "
" What, didn't you know ? He's only just moved
in — a young man named David Harcourt."
" And he came to you ? What about ? "
" Asking about papers — "
" Papers ? What interest can he have in them ?
And you told him about the certificates ? "
" Gott in Himmel I "
" Why, what's the matter ? "
" You told him about the certificates ? Then it was
he who Avrote the note!"
" Which note ? Don't take on like that — in a cab ! "
" You told him ! Then it was he — it was he ! How
does he look, this young man ? What kind of young
man ? " Van Hupfeldt wanted to choke the woman
as she sat there beside him.
"Come, cheer up, pull yourself together; it will be
all the same a hundred years hence. I'm sure I didn't
know that I was injuring you by telling him, and even
if I had known, I should still have told him — there's
nothing like being frank, is there ^ You and I weren't
" But what is he like, this young man ? "
"Not a bad sort, something like a Jameson raider,
a merry, upstanding fellow — "
The Late Tenant
"It was he who was at the grave with her!" whis-
pered Van Hupfeldt to himself, while his eyes seemed
to see a ghost. "And you told him all, all! It was
he, no other. What name did you give him as that
of the husband on the marriage-lines? Did he ask
that, too ? Did you tell him ? " With a kind of crazy
secrecy he asked it at her ear, panting for the answer.
"I didn't remember the husband's name," she
answered. "I told him it wasn't Strauss, but van or
von Something. And don't lean against me in that
way. People will think you are full."
" Van ? You told him that ? And what did he say
" He asked if it wasn't van Something, I forget what,
Van Hup — something. I have an awful bad memory
for names, and, look here, don't come worrying me
with your troubles, for I've got my own to look after."
Van Hupfeldt's finger-nails were pressed into the
flesh of his palms. This new occupier of the flat,
then, even knew his name, even suspected the identity
of Strauss with Van Hupfeldt. How could he know
it, except from Violet ? To the pains of panic in Van
Hupfeldt was added a stab of jealousy. That Violet
knew this young man he no longer doubted, nor
doubted that the meeting at the grave was by appoint-
ment. Perhaps Violet, eager to find suspected papers
of her sister's, had even put this man into the flat, just
as he, Van Hupfeldt, had once put Miss L'Estrange
there. At all events, here was a man in the flat
having some interest or other in Violet and in Gwen-
doUne's papers, with the name Van Hupfeldt on his
lips, and a suspicion that Van Hupfeldt was Strauss,
the evil genius of Gwendoline!
"But there must be no meddling in my life!" Van
Hupfeldt whispered to himself, with an evil eye that
meant no good to David.
When the cab drew up before Miss L'Estrange's
dwelling, she said: "You can't come up, you know; it
is much too late. And there isn't any need. I will
let Jenny go to you as early as you like in the morning
if you give me your address, or you can come your-
self to-morrow — "
"Ah, don't be hard on me," he pleade'd. "I mustn't
lose a night. Send her down to me, if I can't go up."
"Go on, the poor girl's asleep," she answered.
"Where's the use in carrying on like a loony? Can't
you take it coolly.^"
In the end he had to go without seeing Jenny, having
left his card on the understanding that she should be
with him not later than ten in the morning, and that
Miss L'Estrange should keep his address an inviolable
The moment he was gone from her, Ermyn
L'Estrange darted up the stairs, as if to catch some-
thing, and, on entering her flat, tripped into her bed-
room, turned on the light, threw off her cloak, and
put on the necklace before her mirror. It was a fine
affair, and no mistake, all lights and colors playing
The Late Tenant
bo-peep in the stones. She made a curtsy to her
image, inspected herself on every side, stepping this
way and that, daintily, like a peacock, keenly enjoy-
ing the gift, till the novelty of possessing it was gone
stale. But at no time did she feel any gratitude to
the giver, or think of him at all in connection with it
— just the fact of having it occupied her mind, it
didn't matter whence.
And the mere knowledge that it was so valuable
proved it to be a bribe, pointed to a weakness in the
giver. Some gifts to women, especially splendid ones,
produce not only no gratitude, but a certain hardness
of heart, contempt, and touch of enmity. Perhaps
there is a feehng of " I ought to be grateful," but being
too happy to be grateful, they are bored with a sense
of fault, and for this they punish the giver with the
opposite of gratitude.
At all events, by the time Miss L'Estrange had
taken off the string of gems, a memory had grown up
within her of David Harcourt, and with it came a
mild feeling of partizanship and liking for David as
against Strauss. It was a wayward machine, that
she-heart under the bodice of Miss Ermyn L'Estrange
— wayward without motive, subtle without thought,
treacherous for treachery's sake. As a matter of
fact, before waking Jenny, it came into her head to
"give a friendly tip" to David on the ground that he
was "not a bad sort," and she actually went out of
her way to send him a post-card, telling him that she
had expected him to call on Jenny that day, and that,
if he meant business, he must see her not later than
half-past nine the next morning, or he would be too
What a web, this, which was being spun round the
young adventurer from Wyoming!
David had not gone to interview Jenny the day
before in obedience to Miss L'Estrange's first note,
because of the sullen humor to which he relapsed
after his experiences at three in the morning in the
streets of London. He resented the visiting of the
glimpses of the moon by a young lady who donned
rubber overshoes before re-entering her house, and
he said to himself: "The day's work, and skip the
Then, the next morning, came Miss L'Estrange's
second letter — " he must see Jenny not later than half-
past nine" or he would be "too late." Again this
failed to rouse him. With those lazy, lithe movements
of the body which characterized him, he strolled for
some time about the flat after his early breakfast, un-
certain what to do. He saw, indeed, that some one
else must be after the certificates — Strauss — Van
Hupfeldt — if Strauss and Van Hupfeldt were one;
but still he halted between two opinions, thinking:
"Where do I come in, anyway.'^"
Then again the face which he had seen at the grave
rose before him with silent pleadings, a face touching
to a man's heart, with dry rose-leaf lips which she
had a way of wetting quickly, and in her cheeks a die-
away touch of the peach, purplish like white violets.
And how did he know, the jealous youth, by what
hundred reasons her nightly wandering might be
accounted for? Why did he nourish that sort of re-
sentment against a girl who was a perfect stranger?
Perhaps there was really some jealousy in it! At
which thought he laughed aloud, and suddenly darted
into action, snatched a hat, and went flying. But
then it was already past nine.
When he reached Miss L'Estrange's flat, for some
time no one answered his ring, and then the door
opened but a little way to let out a voice which said:
"What is it? I am not dressed. She's gone. I told
you you'd be too late."
"Is she gone?" said David, blankly, eager enough
now to see her.
"Look here, why should I be bothered with the
lot of you at this ungodly hour of the morning ? " cried
the fickle L'Estrange. "/ can't help your troubles!
Can't you see when anybody is in bed ? "
" But why did you let her go before I came ? " asked
" You are cool ! Am I your mother ? "
"I wish vou were for this once."
"Nice mother and son we little two would make,
wouldn't we ? "
"That's not the point. I'm afraid you are getting
The Late Tenant
cold. You ought to have contrived to keep the girl
till I came, though it is my own fault. But can't any-
thing be done now ? Where is she gone to ? "
"To Strauss, of course.'*
" With the certificates .? "
"I suppose so. I know nothing about it, and care
less. I did try to keep her back a bit for your sake,
but she was pretty keen to be gone to him when once
she had his address, the underhanded little wretch!"
" But stop — how long is it since she has gone ? "
"Not three minutes. It's just possible that you
might catch her up, if you look alive."
"How can that he? I shouldn't know her. I
have never seen her. We may have passed each
other in the street."
"Listen. She is a small, slim girl with nearly
white hair and little Chinese eyes. She has on a blue
serge skirt with my old astrakhan bolero and a sailor
hat. Now you can't miss her,."
" But which way ? Where does Strauss live ? "
"I promised not to tell, and I'm always as good as
my word," cried the reliable Miss Ermyn L'Estrange,
"but between you and me, it's not a thousand miles
from Piccadilly Circus; and that is where Jenny will
get down off her bus ; so if you take a cab — "
" Excellent. Good-by ! See you again ! " said David.
David was gone, in a heat of action. He took no
cab, however, but took to his heels, so that he might
be able to spy at the occupants witliin and on the top
of each bus on the Hne of route, by running a Httle
faster than the vehicles. At this hour London was
already out of doors, going shopping, going to oflBce
and works. It was a bright morning, like the begin-
ning of spring. People turned their heads to look at
the man who ran faster than the horses, and pried into
the buses. Victoria, Whitehall, Charing Cross, he
passed — still he could see no one quite like Jenny.
He began to lose hope, finding, moreover, that running
in London was not like running in Wyoming, or even
like his run from Bucks. Here the air seemed to lack
body and wine. It did not repay the lungs' effort,
nor give back all that was expended, so that in going
up the steep of Lower Regent-St. he began to breathe
short. Nevertheless, to reward him, there, not far
from the Circus, he saw sitting patient in a bus-corner
the sailor hat, the bolero, the Chinese eyes, and reddish
white hair of Jenny.
The moment she stepped out, two men sprang for-
ward to address her — David and Van Hupfeldt's
valet. Van Hupfeldt lived near the lower portion of
Hanover Square, the way to which being rather shut
in and odd to one who does not know it, his restless-
ness had become unbearable when Jenny was a little
late, so he had described her to his valet, a whipper-
snapper named Neil — for Van Hupfeldt had several
times seen Jenny with Miss L'Estrange — and had
sent Neil to Piccadilly Circus, where he knew that
Jenny would ahght, in order to conduct her to his.
The Late Tenant
rooms. However, as Neil moved quickly forward,
David was before him, and the valet thought to him-
self: "Hello, this seems to be a case of two's company
and three's none."
David was saying to Jenny: "You are Miss
L'Estrange's servant ? "
"I am," answered Jenny.
"She sent me after you. I must speak with you
urgently. Come with me."
Now, in Jenny's head were visions of nothing less
than wealth — wealth which she was eager to handle
that hour. She said, therefore, to David: "I don't
know who you are. I can't go anywhere — '*
They stood together on the pavement, with Neil, all
unknown to David, behind them listening.
" There's no saying ' No,' " insisted David. " You're
going to see Mr. Strauss, aren't you ? Well, I am here
instead of Mr. Strauss in this matter."
But this ambiguous remark failed of its effect, for
Neil, whose master had told him that in this affair he
was not Van Hupfeldt but Strauss, intervened with the
pert words: "Begging your pardon, but I am Strauss."
However, this short way of explaining that he was
there on behalf of Strauss was promptly misunder-
stood by Jenny, who looked with disdain at the valet,
saying: "You are not Mr. Strauss!"
"Of course he isn't," said David, quickly. "How
dare you, sir, address this lady? Come right away,
will you ? Come, now. Let's jump into this cab."
"Who are you ? I don't even know you!" cried the
"I didn't say I was Mr. Strauss himself," began
"Yes, you did say so," said Jenny, "and it isn't
the truth, for I know Mr. Strauss very well, and neither
of you isn't going to get over me, so you know ! "
"Don't you see," suggested David, his wits all at
work, "that one of us must be true, and as you
are aware that he is false — '*
" What is all this about ? " demanded Jenny. " I
have no business with either of you. Just tell me the
way to Hanover Square, please, and let me go about
"That's just why I'm here, to show you the way,"
said Neil. "I dunno why this gentleman takes it
upon himself — "
"Best hold your tongue, young man," growled
David. "You must be stupid to think this young
girl would go off with you, a man she never saw be-
fore, especially after detecting you in a direct un-
truth — "
" As for that, she don't know you any more than me,
seemingly," retorted Neil. "Mr. Strauss sent me — "
" How is she to know that } Miss L'Estrange sent
me. Didn't I know your name, Jenny, and your
mistress's name ? "
"Well, that's right enough," agreed Jenny on re-
The Late Tenant
"Then trust to me."
" But what is it you want, sir ? "
"It is about the papers," whispered David, con-
fidentially. "It is all to your good to come with me
first and hear what I have to say. Miss L'Estrange — "
"Well, all right; but you must be quick," said Jenny,
rushing to a decision.
David hailed a cab, and he and Jenny turned their
backs upon the defeated valet, got in, and drove off.
However, Neil, who had witnessed Van Hupfeldt's
fever of eagerness to see this girl, followed in another
cab. David drove to the Tube Station near Oxford
Circus — she would accompany him no farther —
and, while he talked with Jenny in a corner there,
Neil, lurking among the crowd of shop-gazers across
the street, kept watqh.
"I propose to you," David said to Jenny, "to give
the certificates to me, and in doing so, I understand
that you are a poor girl — "
"That's just it," answered Jenny, "and I must
know first how much I am to get for them — if it's
true that I have any certificates."
" Right enough," said David, " but the main motive
which I hold out to you is not what you will receive
in hard cash, but that you will do an immense amount
of good, if you give the papers to me. They don't
belong to tliis Mr. Strauss, but they do belong to the
mother and sister of a poor wronged lady, a lady
whose character they will clear."
"Ah, no doubt," agreed Jenny, with the knowing
leer of a born Cockney; "still, a girl has got to look
after herself, you see, and not mind other people's
"What!" cried David, "would you rather do the
wrong thing and earn twenty pounds, or do the right
thing and earn five pounds ? You can't be in earnest
" It isn't a question of five pounds, nor yet of twenty,"
snapped Jenny, offended at the mere mention of such
paltry sums, "it's a question of hundreds and of
thousands." Her mouth went big for the " thousands. "
"Don't think that I'm going to part with the papers
under high figures, if so be I have any papers."
" Under what ? " asked David — " under hundreds,
or under thousands .^ "
" Under thousands."
"Now hold on a bit. Are you aware that I could
have the papers taken from you this minute, papers
that don't belong to you, which you propose to sell to
some one other than the rightful owners ? "
At this Jenny changed color. There was a police-
man within a few yards, and she saw her great and
golden dream dissolving.
"It remains to be seen if I have got any papers.
That's the very question, you see!" she said.
"You might be searched, you know, just to clear
the point. Yet you needn't be afraid of that, for I'm
disposed to meet you, and you aren't going to refuse
The Late Tenant
any reasonable offer, with no trouble from the police
to follow. So I offer you now — fifty golden sovereigns
for the papers, cash down."
"You leave me alone," muttered Jenny, sheepishly,
turning her shoulder to him.
"Well, I thought we were going to be friends; but
I see that I must act harshly," David said, making a
threatening movement to leave her.
"You can have them for one hundred pounds,"
the girl murmured in a frail voice with downcast eyes;
to which David, not to drive a hard bargain with her,
at once answered: "Well, you shall have your one
The next moment, however, he was asking himself:
" Who's to pay ? Can I afford these royal extrava-
gances in other people's affairs ? Steady ! Not too
He walked a little way from the girl, considering it.
He could not afford it. There was no earthly reason
why he should. But he might go to Violet, to Mrs.
Mordaunt, and obtain the one hundred pounds, or
their authorization to spend that sum on their behalf.
In that case, however, how make sure of Jenny in the
meantime.^ It would hardly do to leave her there in
the station, so near to Strauss. She would be drawn
to him as by a magnet, and he thought that if he took
her with him to the Mordaunts, she would recover her
self-assurance and demand from the women more,
perhaps, than they could afford. In the end, he
decided to take her to his flat, and leave her there in
Mrs. Grover's charge till he returned from the Mor-
"That's a bargain, then," he said to her; "one hun-
dred it is. I take it that you actually have the cer-
tificates on you ? "
"I may have,'* smirked the elusive Jenny.
"That's all right. *Have' and *may have' are the
same things in your case. So now I shall go right
away to procure the one hundred pounds, and mean-
time you'll come with me to your old flat in Eddystone
Mansions — that's where I live now — No, don't be
scared, there's some one there besides myself, and the
ghost doesn't walk in the daytime."
They hailed another cab, and again Neil, leaving
his lurking-place, drove after them. He saw David
and Jenny go into the mansions, then stood uncertain
whether to hurry home and tell the position of affairs
to Van Hupfeldt, who, he knew, must by this time be
raving, or whether to wait and see if Jenny and David
came out again.
He was loitering a little way up the house-stairs,
thinking it out, when he heard the lift coming down,
and presently he saw David rush out — alone. Jenny,
then, was still in the building. Neil ran to the lift-
Gentleman who just come down," he said, "does
he live here ? "
"He do, in No. 7," was the answer.
The Late Tenant
" Girl's left in his flat, then," thought Neil, scratch-
ing his head, "and the bloke wot owns the flat don't
know I've been spying. I'd better hurry back and
let the master know how things are looking."
Whereat the valet, who was clearer in action than
in speech, ran out and took cab to Hanover Square,
to tell Van Hupfeldt where Jenny was.
David, meantime, also by cab, was off to Por-
chester Gardens, a certain hurry and fluster now in
his usually self-possessed bosom. He looked at his
face in the cab-mirror, and adjusted his tie. A young
man who acts in that way betrays a symptom of heart-
disease. At 60A he sent up his card.
Violet knew from Dibbin the name of David Har-
court, but when she read it she seemed startled, and
turned a little pale. " Show him up," she said, in a flurry.
"You will excuse my calling," explained David,
without shaking hands, "though we have met before
— you remember .? "
She inclined her head a little, standing, as it were,
shrunk from him, some way off.
"But my visit has to do with a small matter which
admits of no delay."
My mother — " she began.
Is out, I know," said he, "but as the affair is
urgent, I am here. You know that I am the tenant
of No. 7, Eddystone Mansions, and you know also,
that, without seeking it, I have some knowledge of
your history. I wish to ask whether, without troubling
The Late Tenant
your mind with a lot of details, you care to authorize me
to spend at once, in your interests, a sum of one hun-
She scrutinized him with a certain furtiveness,
" In my interests .? " said she.
"Yours and your mother's."
" One hundred pounds ? "
" It seems a strange request."
"It isn't a request. If you haven't confidence in
me to the extent of one hundred pounds, I am not
" But you come like a storm, and speak like one."
" On a purely business matter of your own — re-
"You were at the pains to come," she said with a
smile. "You cannot both care and not care."
- "I used the word 'concern,' you know."
" Is it a gracious way to approach me ? "
" Is it charming tQ be mistrusted ? "
" Did I say that I mistrusted you ? "
"With your eyes."
" Well, I say now with my lips that I do not. Which
will you believe ? "
"No doubt they can both deceive."
" Oh, now you are verging on rudeness."
"There are worse things than rudeness, when one
thinks of it."
"I have no idea to what you refer."
"That may be because I know more about you
than you think."
At this she started guiltily, visibly, and at that start
again she appeared before the eye of David's memory
gliding through the moonlight at three in the morning,
a ghost hastening back to the tomb. Yet, in her
presence, the resentment which rankled in him softened
to pity. A look of appeal came into her dark eyes,
and a certain essence of honesty and purity in her
being communicated itself to his instincts, putting it
out of his power to think any ill of her for the moment.
He said hurriedly: "I fear I have begun badly. All
this is neither here nor there."
She sat down, slung a knee between her clasped
fingers in her habitual manner, and said: "Please
tell me, what do you mean ? " Then she looked up
at him again with a troubled light in her eyes.
He walked quickly nearer to her, saying: "Now,
don't let that get into your head as a serious statement.
It was a mere manner of speaking, what I said, and
of no importance. Moreover, there's this question of
one hundred pounds, and time is a vital consideration."
"Nevertheless, you were definite enough, and must
have had some meaning," she went on. "Did I not
hear you say that you know more about me than I
think? Well, then, have the goodness to tell me
"Now I have put my foot in it, I suppose," said
The Late Tenant
David, "and you will never rest till I find something
to tell you. But not now, if you will bear with me.
In a few days I shall, perhaps, call on your mother,
or see you again at a place which you no doubt visit
pretty often at about the same hour, and to which I,
too, somehow am strangely drawn. The question
now before us is whether I am to spend the one hun-
dred pounds for you."
" As to that, what can one say ? You tell me nothing
of your reason, my mother is out, and I am afraid that
I have not at the moment one hundred pounds of my
own. I am about to be married, and — "
"I am myself rather surprised at it. Yet I fail to
see why you should be immoderately surprised."
"I.? Surprised.?" said he in a dazed way, still
standing with one foot drawn back a step. "I was
merely taken aback, because — "
" Because — nothing. I was simply taken aback,
that's all. Or rather because I had not heard of it
"It was only fully decided upon yesterday," said
she, bending down over her knee.
"Oh, only yesterday. And the happy event takes
place when ? for I am at least interested."
"Soon. Within two or three weeks. I don't quite
"And the happy man.?"
"The same whom you saw come to take me from
Mr. Van Hupf eldt ? "
Oh, you know his name. Yes; Mr. Van Hupfeldt."
David chuckled grimly.
" Why do you laugh ? " she asked.
"But whatever is your motive.'^" he cried sharply.
"You are strange to venture to inquire into my
motive," she said, with downcast eyes. Then her
lip trembled, and she added in a low voice: "My
motive is known only to the dead."
"Ah, don't cry!" he almost shouted at her, with a
sudden brand of red anger across his brow. " There's
no need for tears! It shan't ever happen, this thing!"
" What do you mean ? " she asked, glancing tremu-
lously at him.
"What I say. This marriage can't happen. I'll
see to that. But stop — perhaps I am talking too
soon. *Let not him boast that putteth his armor on
as he that taketh it off.' Good-day, Miss Mordaunt.
I shall not trouble you any more about the one hundred
pounds. I will spend it out of my own pocket — "
"Please stay!" she cried after him. "Everything
that you say bewilders me! How am I to believe you
honest when you say such things ? "
" What things ? Honest ? You may believe me
honest or not, just as you will. I told you before that
I am not greatly concerned. If I bewilder you, you
The Late Tenant
"I am sorry for that. But how so?"
"What, is it nothing for a man to hear it doubted
whether he is honest or not? And, apart from that,
admit that your sister is not very long dead, and that
you have been easily drawn into this engagement — '*
" But what can all this matter to you ? " she asked,
with a wrinkled brow. "Why should my private
conduct anger you at all ? I have not, in fact, as you
think, been so easily won into this engagement; yet,
if I had, it is amazing that you should lecture me.
If it was any one but you, I should be cross."
" What, am I in special favor, then ? "
"You have an honest face."
"Then why is my poor honesty constantly doubted."
"Because you say extraordinary things. It is not,
for instance, usual for people to pay one hundred
pounds for the benefit of a casual acquaintance as
you just volunteered to do. Either you have some
trick or motive in view, or you are very wonderfully
" Which do you think ? "
"I may think one thing now, and the other after
you are gone."
"Well, it is useless arguing. I should be here all
day, if I let myself. We were not made to agree,
you see. Some people are like that. I shall just pay
the one hundred pounds out of my own pocket — '*
You are not to do that, please."
Then, will you ? "
"I think not."
"A7„,, 1 :j__ T__i. ;_ .•„ j.?_„l»
You have no idea what is in question!
Then, give me some idea."
"And lose more time. However, you may as well
hear. It is this: that the tenant in the flat before
me, one Miss L'Estrange, found concealed in a pic-
ture a certificate of a marriage and one of a birth,
and I wish to buy them for you from Miss L'Estrange's
servant, who has them."
Violet sprang upright with an adoring face, mur-
muring: "Heaven be thanked!"
"I didn't tell you before," said David, "because I
haven't secured the papers yet. I have left the girl
in my flat — "
" But where — where do you say she found them ? "
she asked, with a keener interest than the question
quite seemed to call for.
"It was in a picture-frame, between the picture and
the boards at the back," he answered. "The picture
dropped, and the certificates fell out."
"Heaven be praised!" she breathed again. "Was
there nothing else that fell out ? "
"Nothing else, apparently."
"That was enough. Why should I want more?
Oh, get them for me quickly, will you ? " she cried,
all animated and pink. "With these in my hand
everything will be different. Even your prophecy
against my marriage, which you seemed not to desire,
will very hkely come true."
The Late Tenant
"So now I have your authority to spend the one
hundred pounds ? " he asked, with a smile.
"Of course! Ten times as much!"
"But blessed is she who has not seen, and yet has
believed ! "
"Forgive me! I do thank and trust you!" She
put out her hand. He took it, and bent some time
"Good-by, Miss Mordaunt."
" Not for long — an hour — two ? "
"I am glad to have pleased you. I shall always
remember how the brunette type of angels look when
they thank Providence."
"It is not fair to flatter when one is highly happy
and deeply thankful, for then one hears everything as
music. Tell me of it some other time, when I shall
have a sharper answer ready. But stay — one word.
It is of these certificates that Mr. Van Hupfeldt, too,
must somehow have got wind. Does the girl say that
any one else knows of them ? "
"A man named Strauss knows of them."
At that name her eyelids fell as if her modesty had
been hurt. "Does not Mr. Van Hupfeldt know of
them ? " she asked, with face averted.
" I cannot tell you — yet," he answered, turning a
little from her lest she caught the grim smile on his
lips. " Why do you think that he may know ? "
" Because some days ago he wrote me a note — it is
this. It can refer only to these certificates, I suppose."
She handed to David his own note — " It is now a
pretty certain thing that your sister was a duly wedded
wife " — and David, looking at it, asked with some-
thing of a flush : " Did Mr. Van Hupf eldt say that it
was he who sent you this ? I see that it has no signa-
"Yes, it was he," said Violet.
"Ah!" murmured David, and said no more.
"If it was these certificates which he had in his
mind when he wrote that note," said she, "then he,
too, as well as you, must have a chance of securing
them from the girl. So you had better be careful
that he is not beforehand with you."
David looked squarely at her. "So long as you
obtain them, what does it matter from whom they
"Of course," she replied, with her eyes on the
ground, "I shall owe much gratitude to the person
who hands them to me."
He took a step forward, whispering : " Must I be the
winner ? "
He received no answer from her; only, a wave of
blood, a blush that flooded her being from her toes to
the roots of her hair all of a sudden, suffused Violet,
while he stood awaiting her reply. He put out his
hand with a fine self-control. "Well, I must try,"
he cried lightly. She just touched his fingers with
hers, and the next moment he was striding from her.
His cab was waiting outside. CalHng, "Quick as
The Late Tenant •
you can ! " to the driver, he sprang in, and they started
briskly away. He was well content inwardly. Some-
thing birdlike seemed new-fledged and fluttering a
little somewhere inside. He had tasted the sweet
poison of honey-dew.
As for doubt, he had none at the moment. Jenny
he had left safe with Mrs. Grover; he was sure that
she had the certificates with her. But when he reached
the middle of Oxford-St., he saw that which made
him start — Van Hupfeldt in a landau driving east-
ward, and, sitting beside the coachman, the valet Neil.
What spurred David's interest was the pace at which
the landau's horses were racing through the traffic,
and also the face of the man in the carriage, so gaunt
and wild, leaning forward with his two hands clenched
on his knees, as if to press the carriage faster forward
by the strain of his soul.
At once a host of speculations crowded upon David's
mind. Now, for the first time, it occurred to him
that Neil may have shadowed him and the girl to the
flat, that Van Hupfeldt might have the daring to be
on the way to the flat to win Jenny from him. He
felt that he could hardly prevail against Van Hupfeldt
with Jenny — Van Hupfeldt being rich — and the
two high-steppers in the landau were fast leaving the
cab-horse behind. An eagerness to be quickly at his
flat rose in David, so without stopping his cab he stood
out near the splash-board and cried to his amazed
driver: "I say! You come inside, and let me drive."
"Mustn't do that, sir. It is more than my place is
worth," began the cabman.
'* Two pounds for you, and I pay all fines — quick
now!" said David.
The driver hesitated, but pulled up. He climbed
down, went into the cab, and David was on the perch,
reins in hand. Though some persons were astonished,
luckily no policeman saw them. The horse, as if
conscious of something from Wyoming behind him,
began to run. David bolted northward out of the
traffic, and careered through the emptier streets, while
the old cab-horse wondered what London was coming
to when such things could be, and praised the days
of his youth. When David drew up at Eddystone
Mansions, there was no sign of the landau. He ran
up the stairs three at a time. He would not await the
tardy elevator. In moments of stress we return to
nature and cast off the artificial. Opening his door
with his key, he made straight into the drawing-room
where he had left Jenny. Then his heart sank miser-
ably, for she was not there.
"Mrs. Grover!" he called, and when Mrs. Grover
hurried from the kitchen, her hands leprous with
pastry-dough, David looked at her so thunderously
that she drew back.
Where's the girl, Mrs. Grover?" he growled.
She's gone, sir."
" I see that. You let her go, Mrs. Grover ? "
Why, sir, a man came here, saying he had a mes-
The Late Tenant
sage from you for the girl, and I let him in. They had
a talk together, then she said she must be going. I
couldn't stop her."
The man who had called was Neil, who, on hurrying
to tell his master where Jenny was, had been sent
back with instructions to try and induce her to leave
the flat and come to Hanover Square. Neil had
accomplished this to the extent of getting Jenny to
leave Eddystone Mansions; but she would not go to
Strauss, for David's threat of the police if she disposed
of the papers to any one else than their lawful owner
was in her mind, and she now feared to sell the papers
to Strauss, as she knew that she would certainly do
if she once went to his rooms. Yet she was sorely
tempted to sell to the lavish rich man rather than to
the bargainer, and so, making a compromise between
her fears and her temptation, she had told Neil that
she would wait in a certain cafe, and there discuss the
matter with Strauss, if Strauss would come to her.
She was waiting there, and Strauss was going to her,
led by Neil, when David had seen him in the landau.
At any rate, the girl was gone. David felt as if he
had lost all things. He had promised the certificates;
and Violet had said: "I shall owe much gratitude to
the person who hands them to me."
Now Van Hupfeldt had, or would have, them.
While he had been dallying and bandying words in
Porchester Gardens, Van Hupfeldt had been acting,
and he groaned to himseit in a pain of self-reproach:
"Too much Violet, David!"
He strode to and fro in the dining-room with a
quick step, pacing with the lightness of a caged bear,
his fists clenched, keen to act, yet not knowing what
to do. The girl was gone, the certificates gone with
One thing, however, he had gained by the adven-
ture, namely, the almost certainty that Van Hupfeldt
was Strauss — for he had seen the valet, Neil, who at
Piccadilly Circus had declared that he was Strauss's
servant, sitting on the box-seat of the landau in which
was the man whom David had heard Violet at the
grave call "Mr. Van Hupfeldt." This seemed a sort
of proof that Van Hupfeldt and Strauss were one.
The same man who had been so bound up with the
one sister, and had somehow brought her to her death,
was now about to marry the other! The thought of
such a thing struck lightning from David's eyes.
" Never that ! " he vowed in his frenzy. " However it
goes, not that!"
And then he was angry afresh with her, thinking:
" He can't be much good, this man — she must be
He could not guess that Van Hupfeldt had promised
to clear her sister's name six months after the mar-
riage, and that this was her motive, and not love, for
being won. He did not realize that the certificates
now lost by him would have freed Violet from Van
The Late Tenant
Hupfeldt. He believed that she was entering Hghtly
into marriage with a man of great wealth. Again, in
this unreasoning mood, he saw her in her nocturnal
But bitterness and regrets could not bring back the
certificates, in the gaining of which her honor was
« almost at stake. If he had known where Van Hup-
feldt lived, he would have gone straight there. Never-
theless, Van Hupfeldt was not at home, was hurrying
away from home, in fact. Here, then, was another
point. Jenny had clearly not gone to Van Hupfeldt's
on leaving the flat, or why should Van Hupfeldt be
racing eastward? It seemed that Jenny and Van
Hupfeldt were to meet somewhere else, perhaps some-
where not far from the mansions. If David had only
kept the landau in sight, he might have tracked Van
Hupfeldt to that meeting! He felt now that, if he
could come upon them, then, by the mere force and
whirlwind of his will, he should have his way. On a
sudden he went out again into the streets.
He ran southward at a venture. If there was a
conference going on in any house near by, and if the
landau was waiting outside, he should recognize it
by the horses and by Neil on the box. But, as it
turned out, even this recognition was not necessary,
for, running down Bloomsbury-St., toward a carriage
of which he caught sight standing before a French
chocolate-shop at the Oxford-St. corner, he saw a man
and a girl come out of the shop. The man lifted his
hat and nodded toward the girl with his foot on the
carriage-step, and then was driven off westward.
Half a minute afterward David had overtaken the girl.
" You wretched creature ! " he said, in the fierce heat
of his anger and haste: "Hand me those certificates,
and be quick about it!"
"I haven't the faintest idea which certificates you
mean," said Jenny, as bold now as brass, for she had
no doubt been strengthened by the interview in the
shop, and assured of Van Hupfeldt's protection.
This was enough for David. He understood from
her words that the papers were now in Van Hupfeldt's
hands; whereat a flood of rage surged within him,
and, without any definite purpose, he rushed after
the carriage. It had not gone far, because of a block
of traffic near Tottenham Court Road, and his hot
face was soon thrust over the carriage-door. Van
Hupfeldt shrank back into the farthest corner with a
look of blank dismay.
" Yes, you can have them, Mr. Strauss — " began
"What is it?" muttered Van Hupfeldt, crouching,
with his hand on the opposite door-handle. "That is
not my name."
"Whatever your name, or however many names
you may own, you can have those papers now; but
there may be other things where they came from, and
if they're there, I'm the man in possession, mark you,
and I'll be finding them — "
The Late Tenant
" Papers ! What papers ? Find what ? " asked Van
Hupfeldt, with a scared face that beUed his words.
"You cur!" cried David, his heart burning hot
within him; "make amends for your crimes while you
may. If you don't, I tell you, I shall have no mercy.
Soon I shall have my hands on you — "
"Drive on!" screamed Van Hupfeldt to his coach-
man, and, the block of traffic having now cleared, the
horses trotted on, and left David red-faced with fury,
in imminent danger of being run over by the press of
David returned home angry with himself in all
ways, not least for his loss of self-control in pursuing
Van Hupfeldt with no object but to vent himself in
mere threats. His suggestion to Van Hupfeldt that
other documents besides the certificates might be
hidden among the picture-frames in the flat was in the
tone of a child's boasting. One should find first, he
told himself, and boast afterward. However, one of
Mrs. Grover's excellent little lunches put him straight,
and, though work was a thousand miles from his
mood that day, he compelled himself to do it, and
the pen began to run.
But first he had said to Mrs. Grover: "I want you
to get the steps, and take down every picture in the
flat, except the three big ones, which I will see to
Then, with his flower-pot of violets on each hand,
he was soon in the thick of the cow-boy and prairie-
flower history which he had on hand. His stories
were already known on this side by the whiff of reality
they brought from the States, and were in some de-
mand. Already the postman handed him printers'
The Late Tenant
proofs, and he had proved to himself that he possessed
some of the wisdom of the serpent in choosing a repu-
table abode, because the men whom he entertained
went away saying: "Harcourt has private means. He
has taken to literature as a hobby," an idea which
made him popular. If certain editors, on the strength
of it, wished to pay him half-rates, they were soon
undeceived. David was much too hard a nut to
crack in that easy way.
Meantime, neither by sight nor sound had he been
reminded of the eery experience of his first night in
No. 7. True, there were noises during the still hours,
such as had twice thrilled Miss L'Estrange and Jenny.
But they seemed quite natural to him. The dryness
of the interior of the block of flats had loosened floor-
ing-boards and dislocated cross-beams, until the mere
movement of an article of furniture overhead, or the
passing of a next-floor tenant from one room to another,
would set going creaks enough to give rise to half a
That night he had to be at the Holborn Restaurant
for an annual dinner of internationals, so he struck
work soon after four, seeing that by then Mrs. Grover's
task of taking down and dusting was ended, and the
pictures now lay in a pile by the dining-room sideboard.
David procured himself a quantity of brown paper,
with gum and pincers, sat on the floor by the pile,
and, with an effort to breathe no faster than usual,
set himself to work. It was not so slight a task as it
looked, some of the pictures being elaborately fastened
with brown paper, tacks, and bars; and, since they were
not his own, he had to leave them not less trim
than he found them. He was resolved to trust
not even a workman in this search. However,
being handy, a Jack of all trades, he had got
some half dozen unfastened and again fastened before
His gum faihng, he called upon Mrs. Grover, re-
ceived no answer, called again, went searching, but
could not find her in the flat. Wondering at this, he
stepped outside the front door to invoke the services
of the lift-man, when a little way down the stairs he
caught a sound of voices in low talk. His ready ear
seemed to detect the particular accent of his house-
keeper, and he went downward, spying out who it
might be. He wore slippers, and for this reason, per-
haps, approached near the speakers before he was
seen. They were Mrs. Grover and a young man.
The latter, the moment he was aware of David's
presence, was gone like a thief, so David did not see
his face — it was dark there at that hour — but he
had an impression that it was Neil, Van Hupfeldt's
valet, and his legs of themselves started into chase;
but he checked himself.
" Who was the man ? " he asked Mrs. Grover, when
they had gone back into the flat.
"I'm sure I don't know his name, sir," was her
The Late Tenant
" You know him, perhaps. Is it the same who came
here to speak with the girl I left in your charge ? "
" I believe it is the same," said Mrs. Grover, " though
I didn't see him well."
"Oh, you believe. What on earth does he want of
"He kept asking me questions. I told him to go
about his business — "
" What did he want to know .'' "
" Whether I was satisfied with my place, and whether
I didn't think that a woman like me could better her-
self, considering the wages I'm getting — "
That all he wanted to know ? "
That's about all — things hke that."
David, looking at her, said: "I am sure he was
quite right. You deserve five times the wages I am
gi\ing you; so if I pay you a month's wages in ad-
vance now — "
" No, it's no use, Mrs. Grover. You were born for
greater things than this. Yet, wherever you go next,
do be loyal to the man from whom you earn your
bread against all the world. Here's your money."
In vain Mrs, Grover protested. The place was
good enough for her, the flat not fit to be left as it was,
things not washed, something on the fire. It was of
no avail. As David's servant she was suddenly dead.
He saw her out with a hearty hand-shake at the door,
and his best wishes.
Only after she was well gone did he remember that
she had forgotten to deliver up the front door-key.
As it was now nearly time to dress for the dinner,
he left his work on the pictures for the day. In the
half dozen or so which he had taken to pieces he had
found nothing, and was disillusioned, cross-tempered,
disturbed by many things.
He sat down and wrote to Miss Violet Mordaunt:
"I am sorry to say that I have failed to receive the
documents of which I had the honor to speak to you.
I have reason, however, to believe that your fiance,
Mr. Van Hupfeldt, has bought them, and from his
hand you will perhaps receive them."
But his conscience felt this letter to be hard, ironical,
and not sincere; for if, as he suspected. Van Hupfeldt's
name was on the certificates as the husband of dead
Gwendoline, Violet was little likely to receive them
from Van Hupfeldt's hand. So he tore up the note,
and wrote another which equally reflected his ill-
humor. Nor did this go through the post. In the
end, though he knew that she must be anxiously await-
ing a word of news from him, he shirked for the present
the task of announcing his failure to her, and rushed
out to the dinner.
He came home late, and as he stepped from the lift to
the landing, something — a light or a fancy — caused
him to start. It seemed to him that through the
opaque glass of his door he had seen a Hght. Cer-
tainly, the impression was gone in one instant, but he
The Late Tenant
had it. He went in with some disquiet of the nerves.
All was dark, all still, within. He turned on three
or four of the lights in rapid succession, and his eyes
pierced here and there without discerning anything
save familiar articles of furniture.
The flat was lonely to him that night. Though
Mrs. Grover would not in any case have been there
at that hour, yet the fact that she would not come in
the morning as usual, the fact that he was now the
only life in the little home, made him as solitary in
London as a castaway in mid-sea. The fires were
dead. He sat a little while in his overcoat by the
dining-room fireplace, glanced at the heap of pictures,
at the face of Gwendoline. And now again he started.
Something in the aspect of the heap struck him as
new, as not perhaps the same as when he had gone out.
But here again he seemed to himself the prey of his
own fancies. He asked himself angrily if he was los-
ing his memory and his grip of facts. He thought
that he had left only two of the pictures in pieces;
now three of them were without their backs. As he
sat looking at them, the clock on the mantelpiece all
at once ceased ticking, and this small thing again, due
solely to his omission to wind the clock, had an effect
upon his mood. He seemed to hear the sudden
silence, as it were the ceasing of a heart-beat, and the
"all is over" of the bereaved when the last breath
passes. He rose and stretched himself and yawned,
and took in with him to his bed-room one of the pots
of violets, so that, if he scented violets, he should
know whence the scent came. And he took care to
turn on the light in his bed-room before turning off
all the other lights. Could this be David, the man
who used to sleep beneath the stars ?
Now he lay down in the dark, and all was quiet.
Only, from far away, from some other polygon in the
hive of flats, came a tinkling, the genteel sound of the
piano, very faint, as remote from him as was the life
of her who played it. He was listening to it, thinking
of the isolation in which all souls are more or less
doomed to live, when the question occurred to him
incidentally: "Am I really alone in this flat? As
a matter of fact, is not some one with me ? " He had
seemed to hear a definite click, and if it was not in the
flat, then, he thought, his ears must be losing their
old trick of exactness.
He stole out of bed, and, without making the faint-
est sound, peeped out along the corridors. Nothing
seemed to stir. Minute after minute he stood patiently,
hearing only that shell-music which the tympanum
of the ear gives out in deep silence. Once he caught
a Lilliputian rush, and a screech, an escapade in
mouseland. Behind him a small clock ticked in his
bed-room, and presently there was yet another sound,
low, but prolonged, as if paper was being very cau-
tiously torn somewhere.
Instantly the instinct to grip his six-shooter in his
hand rose in David. His former experience in the
The Late Tenant
flat had caused him to have the weapon ready. Great
is that moment when awe rises into indignation and
action, as now with him. Silently, with every nerve
strung, and each muscle nimble for the encounter,
he stepped backward into his bed-room, and drew the
weapon from beneath his pillow. No longer careful
about hiding the fact that he was awake, he made a
rush along the longer corridor into the hall, caught
up the hall chair and table and threw them against
the door, heaved up the hat-stand and placed it also
against the door, thus blocking the enemy's retreat.
And he said to himself: "Be it ghost, or be it mortal
man, let there be a fight to a finish this time ! "
But he kept himself in the dark for safety's sake,
and, bold as his heart was, it beat fast, as he now
stood in the farthest corner of the hall near the door,
listening for his life. And anon he sniffed with his
nostrils for a scent of violets, for a wafture from the
grave, which came not.
But this waiting for he knew not what was not long
to be borne. Wounds are not so grisly to the mind
as the touch of a hand which cannot be grasped. He
crept back in the dark along the wall, again noiselessly,
into the corridor, into his bed-room, locked the door,
and, with finger on trigger, switched on the light.
Keeping his ear alert for whatever might happen out-
side, he searched the room. No one was under the
bed, or anywhere there. He turned off the light,
went out, and, in a similar manner, searched behind a
locked door, wherever he found a key in the lock,
each of the other two bed-rooms, and the bath-room.
In that end of the flat there was no one, nor a scent of
anything, save the perfume of the violets in his bed-
room. And again he began to think that he must
surely be the plaything of his fancies.
Along the corridor he crept again, and entered the
drawing-room, locked the door, turned on the light,
looked round to search. At that instant he heard, he
felt, the flight of steps in the flat. It was the merest
sign of something detected by some sixth sense ac-
quired by him in barkening to the whispers of the
jungle. These were steps as light and swift as a
specter's might be. But he had the notion that they
fled out of the dining-room down the short passage
between the kitchen and the servant's room, and,
quick as thought, he had out the drawing-room light,
and was after them.
The door of the servant's bed-room was on the left
of the cross passage, that of the kitchen on the right,
just opposite the other. He went like a cat which sees
in the night, swift and soft, along the left wall, his
breast pressed to it, until, coming to the servant's
bed-room door, he gave a twist to the handle to go in.
The handle turned a little, but not much. The
door would not open. It seemed to be held by some
one within, for it was not locked, since there happened
to be no key in it.
Here, at any rate, was something tangible at last.
The Late Tenant
And, when it came to be a question of main force,
natural or supernatural, David was in his element.
He set himself to get that door-handle round, and it
turned. He put liimself into the effort to press that
door open, and it opened a little. But, all at once, it
opened too much! and he plunged staggering within.
At the same time he was aware of something rushing
out; he had just time to snatch his revolver from the
waist of his pajamas and fire, when his silent adver-
sary was gone, and had vehemently slammed the
door upon him. Almost at the same moment another
door slammed — the kitchen-door. Then all was
It was as when a mighty momentary wind seizes
upon a house in the dead of night, slams two doors,
causes something to bark, and passes on its way. The
two slammings and the bark of the revolver were almost
simultaneous — and silence swallowed them together.
David flew after the thing which had evaded him to
the kitchen-door. His blood was up. During his
first experience of something queer in the flat he had
had an impression of a woman, perhaps on account
of the scent of violets. But this time there seemed to
be no such scent, and this latest impression was of a
man — an impression hardly perhaps due to sight,
for the servant's room was about the darkest spot in
the flat, its one small window being shrouded with
tapestry curtains, and the outer night itself dark. But
he somehow believed now that it was a man, and he
flung himself again and again against the kitchen-door
with no good meaning toward that man. For there
could be no doubt that whoever or whatever it was,
his visitant was now in the kitchen, since the door
would not open.
After some vain effort to force it, he stopped, pant-
ing, thinking what he should do. There was a little
pointed poker in the dining-room by which he might
pick the lock; but before deciding upon this he again
tried his power of shoulder and will against the door,
and this time felt something give within. The door,
too, was not really locked, having no key in it, as, in
general, the keys of old flats become displaced. It
was apparently only fastened, if it were fastened at all,
by some catch or hook, for, after two or three more
thumps, it flew wide.
David, catching the handle, held it a little ajar, and
now again the stillness of the night was outraged by
his shout through the slit: "Hands up! or I fire!" At
the same instant he rushed in, and flooded the kitchen
But no one was there! A pallor struck from the
corners of his mouth to his cheek, even while his brow
was flushed, and he stood aghast, with an astounding
question in his eyes and in his heart.
NO MORE VIOLET
There was little sleep for David Harcourt that
night. After his inrush into the kitchen, and his long
amazement to find it empty, he again searched the
flat throughout; no one but he was in it, and no one
had gone out through the front door, for there stood
his barricade of table, chair, and hat-stand, just as he
had left it.
Tliis seemed surely to show that he had to do with
that which is beyond and above natural. Yet there
were points against that view, too. There was, first
of all, the spot of blood, for in the passage between
the servant's room and the kitchen he saw what seemed
to be a spot of blood. The carpet was a brown pat-
tern on a pink ground, and in one place the brown
looked redder than elsewhere, — that was all. If it
was blood, then the bullet shot by him, which he now
found imbedded in the frame of the kitchen-door,
may have passed through some part of a man; but he
could not assert to himself that it was blood.
There were, however, the pictures. Unless he was
dancing mad, the fact was certain that he had left
only three of them with their backs undone, and now
No More Violet
there were five — and he refused to believe that he
was indeed moonstruck.
So, then, a man had been in the flat, since no ghost
could materialize to the extent of picking tacks out
of picture-frames. And, if there had been a man,
that man was Van Hupfeldt, and no other. Van
Hupfeldt's motive would be clear enough. Miss
L'Estrange had told Van Hupfeldt that the certifi-
cates had fallen out of the back of a picture. David
himself had had the rashness, in his rage at the loss of
the certificates, to say over the door of Van Hupfeldt's
landau that there "might be other things where the
certificates came from. " Mrs. Grover had been seen
that afternoon talking to Van Hupfeldt's servant.
She was evidently in process of being bribed and won
over to the enemy. She may have told how David
had had all the pictures taken down and was at work
on them, and how he was to be out at an annual dinner
that night. She may possibly have handed over to
Van Hupfeldt the key of the flat, and Van Hupfeldt,
in a crazy terror lest an3i;hing should be found by
David in the pictures, may have come into the flat to
search for himself.
All this seemed plausible enough. But, then, how
had Van Hupfeldt got away? Had he a flying-ma-
chine ? Was he a griffin ? Were there holes in the
But if, as a matter of fact, he or some other had been
in the flat, and had some way got out other than by
The Late Tenant
the front door, here was a new thought — that Gwen-
doHne Mordaunt may not, after all, have committed
suicide. Suicide had been assumed simply because
of the locked and bolted front door. But how if there
existed some other mysterious exit from the flat.? In
that case she might have been done to death — by
Strauss, by Van Hupfeldt, if Van Hupfeldt was Strauss.
David, no doubt, was all too ready to think evil of
this man. Nevertheless the question confronted him.
Why, he asked himself, should Gwendoline have com-
mitted siucide ? She was a married woman — the
certificate, seen by Miss L'Estrange, proved that.
True, Gwendoline had received some terrible letter
four days before her death, as her servant had told
David, and she had said to the girl: "I am not mar-
ried. You think that I am; but I am not." Still, a
doubt arose now as to her suicide. Her sister Violet
did not believe in the suicide. Nothing was certain.
However, this new theory of the tragedy put David
upon writing to Violet the first thing in the morning.
Vague as his doubt, it was a set-off against his shame
of defeat in the matter of the certificates. It was
something with which to face her. He resolved to tell
her at once all that was in his mind, even his shocking
suspicion that Van Hupfeldt was Strauss, and he
"Mr. David Harcourt has unfortunately not been
able to secure the certificates of which he had the
honor of speaking to Miss Mordaunt, but believes
No More Violet
that her fiance, Mr. Van Hupfeldt, may be in a posi-
tion to give her some information on the subject.
However, Mr. Harcourt has other matters of pressing
importance to communicate to Miss Mordaunt for
her advantage, and, in case she lacks the leisure to be
alone in the course of the day, he will be pleased to be
at her sister's grave this evening about five, if she will
write him a line to that effect."
He posted this before eight in the morning, went
off to seek his old charwoman in Clerkenwell, break-
fasted outside, came home, and set to work afresh
upon the pictures.
And that proved a day of days for him. For, be-
fore noon, on opening the back of a mezzotint of the
"Fighting Temeraire," he found a book, large, flat,
and ivory-white. Its silver clasp was locked. He
could not see within, yet he understood that it was no
printed book, but in manuscript, and that here was
the diary of Gwendoline Mordaunt. He was still
exulting over it, searching now with fresh zeal for
more treasure, when he received a note: "Miss
Mordaunt hopes to lay some flowers on her sister's
grave this evening about five."
Her paper had a scent of violets, and David, in
putting it to his nostrils, allowed his lips, too, to steal
a kiss ; — for happy men do sometimes kiss scented
paper. And he was happy, thinking how, when he
presented the diary to her, he would see her glad and
The Late Tenant
At the very hour, however, when he was thus re-
joicing, Van Hupfeldt was going up the stairs at 60A,
Porchester Gardens. He was limping and leaning on
his valet, and his dark skin was now so much paler
than usual that on his entrance into the drawing-
room Mrs. Mordaunt cried out:
"Why, what is the matter?"
"Do not distress yourself at all," said Van Hup-
feldt, limping on his stick toward her. "Only a
slight accident — a fall off a stumbling horse in the
park this morning — my knee — it is better now — "
"Oh, I am so sorry! But you should not have
come; you are evidently still in pain. So distressing!
Sit here; let me — "
"No, really," said he, "it is nearly all right now,
dear Mrs. Mordaunt. I have so much to say, and so
little time to say it in. Where is Violet.'^'*
"She is in her J^ed-room; will soon be down. Let
me place this cushion
She is well, I hope ? "
Yes; a little strange and restless to-day, perhaps
" What is it now .? "
"Oh, some little fall of the spiritual barometer, I
suppose. She has not mentioned anything specific to
"You received my telegram of this morning.^"
"Saying that you would come at half -past one?
"Well, I am lucky to have found you alone, for in
No More Violet
what I have now to suggest to you, I do not wish my
influence to appear — let it seem to be done entirely
on your own impulse — but I have to beseech you,
Mrs. Mordaunt, to return to Rigs worth this very day.'*
" To-day ? Rigsworth ? But there are still a host
of things to be seen to before the wedding — "
"I know, I know. Even at the cost of putting off
the wedding for a week, if you will do all that is to
be done from Rigsworth instead of in London, you
will profoundly oblige me. I had hoped that you
would this do for me without requiring my reason, but
I see that I must give it, and without any beating
about the bush. Only give me first your assurance
that you will breathe not one word to Violet of what
I am forced to tell you."
" Good gracious ! What has happened ? "
"Promise me this."
"Well, I shall be discreet."
"Then, I have to tell you that Violet has made an
undesirable acquaintance in London, one whom it is
of supreme importance, if our married life is to be
a success, that she should see not once again. It is a
man — No, don't be unduly alarmed — I don't for a
moment suspect that their intimacy has proceeded
far, but it has proceeded too far, and must go no farther.
I may tell you that it is my belief that letters, or notes,
have passed between them, and, to my knowledge,
they have met at least once by appointment in Kensal
Green cemetery, for I have actually surprised them
The Late Tenant
there. Now, pray, don't be distressed. Don't, now,
or I shall regret having told you. Certainly, it is a
serious matter, but don't think it more serious than it
"Violet.^" breathed Mrs. Mordaunt, with a long
"The facts are as I have stated them," proceeded
Van Hupfeldt, "and when the knowledge of them
came to me, I was at some pains to make inquiries into
the personality of the man in question. He turns out
to be a man named Harcourt."
"Oh, you mean Mr. Harcourt, the occupier of the
flat in Eddystone Mansions ? Why, he was here
yesterday. Violet herself told me — "
"Here.^ Yesterday?" Van Hupfeldt turned sud-
denly greenish. "But why so? What did the man
" Violet did not seem to wish to be explicit," answered
Mrs. Mordaunt; "but I understood from her that he
is interested in Gwendoline's fate."
"He? By what right does he dare? He is in-
terested in Violet! That is whom the man is in-
terested in, Mrs. Mordaunt, I tell you! And do you
know what this man is ? I have been at the pains to
discover — a scribbler of books, a man of notoriously
bad character who has had to fly from America — "
"How awful! But Mr. Dibbin, the agent, had
references — "
"References are quite useless. It is as I say, and I
No More Violet
am not guessing wiien I assert to you that Violet has a
penchant for this man — a most dangerous penchant,
which can lead to nothing but disaster, if it be not now
scotched in the bud. I demand it as my right, and I
beseech it as a friend, that she never see him again.*'
" Yet it is all most strange. I think you exaggerate.
Violet's fancies are not errant."
"Well, say that I exaggerate. But you will at least
sympathize, Mrs. Mordaunt, with my sense of the
acute danger of your further stay in London at pres-
"I think you make a mountain of a molehill, Mr.
Van Hupfeldt," said Mrs. Mordaunt with some dry-
ness, "and I am sorry now that I have promised not
to speak with Violet on the subject. Of course, I
recognize your right to have your say and your way,
but as for leaving London to-day at a moment's notice,
really that can't be done."
"Not to oblige me? not to please me.^" said he,
grasping the old lady's hand with a nervous intensity
of gesture that almost startled her.
"We might go to-morrow," she admitted.
" But if they correspond or meet to-night ? "
"Well, you are a lover, of course; but you shouldn't
start at shadows. Here is Violet herself.'*
"Leave us a little, will you.^" whispered Van Hup-
feldt, rising to meet the girl in his impulsive foreigner's
way, but, forgetting his wounded leg, he had to stop
short with a face of pain.
The Late Tenant
" Are you ill ? " asked Violet, and a certain aloofness
of manner did not escape him.
" A small accident — " he told over again the his-
tory of his fall from a horse which had never borne
him. Mrs. Mordaunt went out. Violet stood at a
table, turning over the leaves of a book, while Van
Hupfeldt searched her face under his anxious eyes,
and there was a silence between them, until Violet,
taking from her pocket David's first unsigned note
to her, held it out, saying: "It was you who sent me
this .? "
"I have told you so," answered Van Hupfeldt,
gray to the lips. '* Why do you ask again } "
"Because I am puzzled," she answered. "I have
this morning received a note in this same handwriting,
unless I^am very much mistaken, a note from a cer-
tain Mr. — "
" Yes. Harcourt — Christian name David."
" Quite so. David Harcourt — I can say it," she
answered quietly. "But how, then, comes it that
your note and his are in the same handwriting ? "
Van Hupfeldt's lips opened and shut, his eyes
shifted, and yet he chuckled with the uneasy mirth of
a ghoul: "The solution of that puzzle doesn't seem
difficult to me."
"You mean that you got Mr. Harcourt to write
your note for you ? " asked Violet.
"You are shrewdness itself," answered Van Hup-
No More Violet
"I did not know that you even knew him."
"Ah, I know him well."
"Well, then, have you brought the certificates?"
she asked keenly.
" Which ? You ask that ? Surely, surely, you know
that a certificate of marriage and one of birth were
found in the flat by a Miss L'Estrange ? "
"No, I didn't know. How could I know?"
" But am I in a dream ? I have made sure that it
was upon some knowledge of them that you relied
when you wrote in the unsigned note, *It is
now a pretty certain thing that your sister was a
duly wedded wife.' " And she looked at David's letter
"No, I had other grounds. I needn't tell you what,
since they are not yet certain — other grounds. I
have not heard yet of any certificates — "
"Well, God help me, then!" she murmured, half-
crying. "What, then, does Mr.. Harcourt mean? He
says in the note of this morning: *Mr. Harcourt has
not been able to secure the certificates, but believes
that Miss Mordaunt's fiance, Mr. Van Hupfeldt, may
be in a position to give her some information on the
subject.' What does that mean when you never even
heard of the certificates ? "
Van Hupfeldt, looking squarely now at her, said:
"It means nothing at all. You may take it from me
that no certificates have been found."
The Late Tenant
Violet flushed angrily. "Some one is untrue!" she
"I fear that that is so," murmured Van Hupfeldt,
dropping his eyes from her crimsoned face.
There was silence then for a while.
"With what object did this Harcourt come to you
yesterday, Violet ? " asked Van Hupfeldt.
"He wished to obtain my mother's authorization
for him to spend one hundred pounds in buying the
certificates from Miss L'Estrange's servant."
"Ah, that was what he said was his object. But
his real object was slightly different, I'm afraid. I
know this man, you see. He is poor, and not honest."
" Not honest .^ "
"No, not honest."
•'You say such a thing?"
" But what is it to you ? Why do you care ? Why
are you pale? Yes, I say it again, not honest! the
"If he heard you, I think he might resent it with
some vigor," she said quietly.
" Why do you speak so strangely ? What is it ? Do
you doubt what I tell you ? " asked Van Hupfeldt.
"I neither doubt nor believe. What is it to me?
I only feel ashamed to live in the same world with such
people. If it was not to obtain my authorization to
spend the one hundred pounds for the certificates, why
did he come ? "
"There were no certificates!" cried Van Hupfeldt,
No More Violet
vehemently. "The certificates were an invention.
What he really wanted was, not your authorization,
but the one hundred itself. He hoped that when he
asked for your authorization, you, in your eagerness
to have the certificates, would produce the one hundred
pounds, which to a man in his position is quite a large
sum, whereupon he would have decamped, and you
would have heard no more either of him or of your
one hundred pounds. But, as you did not hand him
the money, he now very naturally writes to say that
he can't get the certificates. I know the fellow very
well. I have long known him. He comes from
America, where he has played such ingenious pranks
once too often."
Violet sighed with misery, like one who hears the unfa-
vorable verdict of a doctor. " Oh, don't ! " she murmured.
"I am sorry to offend your ears," said Van Hup-
feldt, looking with interest at his nails, for they had
nearly dug into the palms of his hands a few minutes
earlier, "but it was necessary to tell you this. This
is not the sort of man who ought ever to have entered
your presence. How, by the way, did you come to
know him ? "
"I met him by chance at my sister's grave. He
told me that he is the tenant of the flat. He seemed
good. I don't know what to do!" She let herself
fall into a chair, leaned her head on her hand, and
stared miserably into vacancy, while Van Hupfeldt,
limping nearer, said over her:
The Late Tenant
"You ought to promise me, Violet, never again to
allow yourself to hold any sort of communication with
this person. You will hardly, indeed, be able to see
him again, for Mrs. Mordaunt has just been telling
me of her sudden resolve to go down to Rigsworth
" To-morrow ? "
"So she says; and perhaps on the whole it is best,
don't you think "? "
Violet shrugged hopeless shoulders. "I don't care
one bit either way," she said.
"So, then, that is agreed between us. You won't
ever write to him again."
"I don't undertake anything of that kind," she
retorted. " I must have time to think. Are you quite
sure that all this infamy is the God's truth ^ It is as
if you said that mountain streams ran ink. The man
told me that there were certificates. They fell out
of a picture-frame, he said. He looked true, he
seemed good and honest; he is a young man with dark-
blue eyes — "
"He is a beast!"
" I don't know that yet, I have no certain proof. I
was to see him this evening."
" To see him ? Ah, but never again, never again !
And would you now, after hearing — "
"I am not sure. I must have time to think, I must
have proof. I have no proof. It is hard on me, after all."
"What is hard on you?" demanded Van Hupfeldt;
No More Violet
and, had not the girl been so distraught, she would
have seen that he had the semblance more of a mur-
derer than of a lover. "What proofs do you want
beyond my word ? The man said that there were
certificates, did he not? Well, let him produce them.
The fact that he can't is a proof that there were none."
" Not quite. No — there is a doubt. He should
have the benefit of the doubt. A man should not be
condemned before he is tried, after all. If Miss
L'Estrange was to say that there were no certificates,
that would be proof. You must know her address —
give it to me, and let me go straight to her — "
"Certainly, I have her address," said Van Hup-
feldt, his eyes winking a little with crafty thought,
" but not, of course, in my head. You shall have it in
a day or two. You can then write and question her
from Rigsworth, and she will tell you that no cer-
tificate ever fell out of any picture." He thought to
himself: "for I shall see that she tells you what I wish,
if she has any love of money."
"But couldn't you give me the address to-day?"
asked Violet. "That would settle everything at once."
"To-day I'm afraid it is out of the question," an-
swered Van Hupfeldt. "I have it put away in some
drawer of some bureau. It may take a day or two;
but find it I will, and, meantime, is it much to expect
that my angel will believe in her one best and eternal
friend ? Assure me now that you will not see this un-
desirable person this evening."
The Late Tenant
"I do not mean to at this moment, but I do not
decide. I said that I would. He pretends he has
something to say to me — "
"He has nothing! He is merely impudent. Where
were you to see him ? At the grave, I tliink ? At the
Violet blushed and made no answer. Mrs. Mor-
daunt came in. "So, mother," said Violet to her,
" we go home to-morrow ^ "
"I have thought that it might be well, dear," an-
swered her mother, "in which case we shall have
enough to do between now and then."
" But why the sudden decision ? "
"We are not at all moments our own masters and
mistresses, dear. This at present seems the indicated
course, and we must follow it."
" May I have the pleasure to come with you, if only
for a day or two ? " asked Van Hupfeldt.
"Of course, we are always glad of your company,
Mr. Van Hupfeldt," answered Mrs. Mordaunt; "but
it is such a trying journey, and it may affect your
"Not trying to me where Violet is," said Van Hup-
"Violet should be a happy girl to have so much
devotion lavished upon her, I am sure," said Mrs.
Mordaunt, with a fond smile at her daughter. "I do
hope that she is duly grateful to you, and to the Giver
of all our good."
No More Violet
Violet said nothing. In iier gloomy eyes, if one had
looked, dwelt a rather hunted look. She presently
left Van Hupfeldt and her mother, and in her own
room lay on a couch thinking out her problem. "To
go to the grave, or not to go ? "
She had promised: but how if David Harcourt was
truly the thing which he was said to be ? Her maiden
mind shrank and shuddered. It was possibly false,
but, then, it was possibly true — all men seemed to be
liars. She had better wait and first hear the truth
from Miss L'Estrange. If Miss L'Estrange proved
him false, she, Violet, would give herself one luxury,
the writing to him of one note — such a note ! sting-
ing, crushing, killing! After which she would forget
once and forever that such a being had ever lived,
and seemed nice, and been detestable. Meantime, it
would be too unmaidenly rash to see him. It could
not be done; however much he drew her with his
strong magnetism, she should not, and would not.
Why could he not have been good, and grand, and
high, and everything that is noble and wonderful, as a
man should be? In that case, ah, then! As it was,
how could she ? It was his own fault, and she hated
him. Still, she had promised, and one should keep
one's word unless the keeping becomes impossible.
Moreover, since she was to leave London on the
morrow, she should dearly like to see the grave once
more. The new wreath must be already on its way
from the florist's. She would like to go, dearly,
The Late Tenant
dearly, if only it were not for the lack of dignity and
Thinking such thoughts, she lay so long that Van
Hupfeldt went away without seeing her again; but he
had no intention of leaving it to chance whether she
saw David that evening or not. Certain that the
rendezvous was at the grave, his cautious mind pro-
ceeded to take due precautions, and by three o'clock
the eyes of his spy, a young woman rather overdressed,
were upon the grave in the Kensal Green cemetery,
while Van Hupfeldt himself was sitting patient in the
smoking-room of a near hotel, ready to be called the
moment a sign of Violet should be seen.
Violet, however, did not go to the grave. About
four o'clock one of the servants of 60 A, Porchester
Gardens, arrived at the cemetery in a cab, went to the
grave, put the new wreath on it, and on the wreath
put an envelope directed to "David Harcourt, Esq,"
and went away. The moment she was gone. Van
Hupfeldt's spy had the envelope, and with it hurried to
him in the hotel. Breaking it open without hesitation,
he read the words : " Miss Mordaunt regrets that she is
unable to visit her sister's grave to-day, as she hoped,
and from to-morrow morning she will be in the country;
but if Mr. Harcourt really has anything of importance
to communicate to her, he may write, and she will
reply. Her address is Dale Manor, Rigsworth, near
"What do you think of this handwriting?" Van
No More Violet
Hupfeldt asked of his she-attendant, showing her the
note. " Do you think you could imitate it ? "
"It is big and bold enough; it doesn't look difficult
to imitate," was the critical estimate.
" Just have a try, and let me see your skill. Write — "
He dictated to her the words: "Miss Mordaunt
has duly received from her fiance, Mr. Van Hupfeldt,
the certificates of which Mr. Harcourt spoke to her, so
that all necessity for any communication betw^een Mr.
Harcourt and Miss Mordaunt is now at an end. Miss
Mordaunt leaves London to-day."
The scribe, after several rewritings, at last shaped
the note into something really like Violet's writing.
It was then directed to "David Harcourt." The
young woman took it to the grave, and it was placed
on the wreath of violets where the purloined note had
Twenty minutes later, David, full of anticipation
and hope, the diary in his hand, drew near to Kensal
Green. For some time he did not go quite to the
grave, but stood at the bend of the path, whence he
should be able to see her feet coming, and the blooming
beneath them of the March daisies in the turf. But
she did not come. The minutes went draggingly by.
Strolling presently nearer the grave, he noticed the
fresh wreath, and the letter laid on it.
He stood a long while by the lona cross over the
violets, while the dusk deepened to a gloom like that
of his mind. How empty seemed London now ! And
The Late Tenant
all life, how scantless and stale now, without the
purple and perfume of her! For she was gone, and
"all necessity for any communication between her
and him was now at an end." He went away from the
cemetery whistling a tune, with a jaunty step, in order
to persuade himself that his heart was not hollow, nor
his mind black with care.
For some time after this disappearance of Violet,
David needed the focusing of all his manhood to set
himself to work. His feeling was that nothing is
worth while. He wished to sit in his easy-chair, stare,
and be vaguely conscious of the coming and going of
his charwoman. An old Londoner now, he no longer
heard the roar, nor stifled at the smoke of that torrent
that goes up forever. He could have sat over his fire
in a sort of abstract state, without thought, hope, or
care, for days. If he took up the pen he groaned ; but
he did take it up, and it proved medicinal. Little by
little he acquired tone.
Meantime, he would often re-read the note which
had had so powerful an effect on him, until one day,
in the ripening of his mind, the thought rose in him:
"There's something queer here. She must have been
very agitated when she wrote this!"
Then he began to think that it was not quite like
Violet's writing. Presently hope, energy, action burst
into blossom afresh within him. Suppose, he thought,
that the whole business was somehow a trick of that
man ? Suppose that she was in London all the time ?
The Late Tenant
He wrote to her at Porchester Gardens that day, but
received no answer. Van Hupfeldt had given orders
that all letters for the Mordaunts should be sent to him,
nor did he send on David's letter to Violet, for he knew
David's writing. Moreover, he had warned the pro-
prietors at Porchester Gardens that a certain man,
who was likely to make himself troublesome to the
Mordaunts, might present himself there in the hope of
learning their address in the country, in view of which
they had better give the address to no one.
Now, at David's only meeting with Violet at the
grave, she had mentioned to him her country address,
but, having heard it only once and that heedlessly,
when his brain was full of new notions, it had so far
passed out of his mind in the course of time that all
that he could remember of it was that it was in War-
wickshire. Nor could any racking of his brains
bring back more of it than the name of the county.
After some days he betook himself to Porchester
"Is Mrs. Mordaunt at home?" he asked.
"No," was the answer, "she isn't staying here now.
She is in the country."
That much, then, of the note found on the grave
" When did she go ? " he asked.
"Last Tuesday week," was the answer.
The note was true!
"I have written Miss Mordaunt a letter," said
David, " telling her that I have in my possession some-
thing which I know that she would like to have, and
have received no answer. I suppose you forward her
letters on to her ? "
"Yes; we send them to a gentleman who forwards
" Ah .^ What gentleman is that ^ "
"A Mr. Van Hupfeldt."
"I see. But can you give me Mrs. Mordaunt's
address .^ "
"We are not to give it; but any letters will be sent
" Through Mr. Van Hupfeldt .? "
"But suppose I send you one with a cross on the
envelope, would you do me the special favor to send
that one on direct, not through Mr. Van Hupfeldt ? "
"We have instructions as to the Mordaunts' letters,"
said the landlady, "and, of course, we follow them."
"Well, but you seem very inflexible, especially as I
" Can't help that, sir. We were told that you would
be turning up, and I give you the answer which I was
directed to give. It is quite useless to come here mak-
ing any request as to the Mordaunts."
David went away discomforted. There remained
to him one hope — Dibbin. He ran round to Dibbin's
and asked for the address.
"I*m afraid I'm hardly authorized to do that,"
The Late Tenant
answered the agent, to whom such appeals were
matters of every-day business.
"Do be reasonable," urged David. "Miss Mor-
daunt herself gave me her address, only I have let it
slip out of my mind."
Dibbin shook his head like an emblem of doubt.
"Of course," he said, "I shall be happy to send on
anything which you commit to me."
"Direct?" asked David, "or through Van Hup-
feldt .? "
"Direct, of course," answered Dibbin. "I have
no sort of instructions with respect to Mr. Van Hup-
" Have you ever seen him, Dibbin ? "
" Don't happen to know his address ? "
"No; I merely knew his name quite lately by repute
as that of a man of wealth about town, and as an
acquaintance of the Mordaunts."
"'Acquaintance' is good, as a phrase," David could
not help blurting out. "Well, I have something be-
longing to Miss Mordaunt, and will send you a letter
That day the letter was written and sent, a stiff-
stark little missive, informing Miss Mordaunt that Mr.
Harcourt had duly received the note left on the grave,
and had once before written her to say so, as well as
to tell her that he had in his possession a book which
he believed to be the diary of her sister. He did not
care to send it her through another, but would at once
forward it on receiving a Hne from her.
After two days came an answer: Miss Mordaunt
thanked Mr. Harcourt extremely for his pains, and
would be glad to receive the book to which he referred
at " the above address, " that address being : " The
Cedars, Birdhp, Gloucestershire."
David actually had the diary wrapped up to send to
this address. Then he paused. The handwriting of
the note was not quite like that of the note in which
she had made the appointment with him at the grave.
It was rather Uke the writing of the note which he
had found with the wreath — not quite, perhaps, the
same. And then again the address which she had
given him by word of mouth that jfirst evening at
Kensal Green was in Warwickshire. He remembered
that much, beyond doubt. Was she, then, spending
some time with friends at " The Cedars " in — Glou-
cestershire .^ He thought that it might be a good
thing, before sending the diary, if he took a run down
into Gloucestershire to make sure that she was really
This he did the next day, and found that "The
Cedars" was a mansion two miles from the village
of Birdhp, old, somewhat dismantled, shut up, occu-
pied only by a few retainers. No Violet was there.
He learned at one of the village taverns that the place
was the property of Van Hupfeldt. He took the diary
back to London with him that same night.
The Late Tenant
What seemed certain to him now was that Van
Hupfeldt himself or some agent of Van Hupfeldt's
must be in the Mordaunts' house, and that this letter
sent through Dibbin had never reached Violet. So
again he was cut off from her. Not one word could
he speak to her. He craved only for one small word.
When that marriage of hers with Van Hupfeldt was
to take place he did not know; but he felt that it might
be soon. He had taken upon himself to say to her
that it should never be, and not one word could he
utter to prevent it. He had forgotten, and his brain
would not give up its dead. He beat his brow
upon his dining-room table where his head had dropped
wearily on his coming home that early morning from
To go to her, to tell her all, to stop the indecent
marriage, to cast himself at her feet, and call upon
her pity for his passionate youth — this impulse drove
him; but he could not stir a step. A great "No"
bewitched him. His straining was against ropes of
steel. Half -thoughts, half-inventions of every im-
possible kind passed like smoke through his mind, and
went away, and came wearily again. The only one
of any likelihood was the thought of kneeling to Dib-
bin, of telling him that Van Hupfeldt was probably
Strauss, and beseeching him for the Mordaunts' sake
to give the address. But he had not the least faith
in the success of such a thing. To that dried man,
fossilized all through, incrusted in agency, anything
that implied a new departure, a new point of view,
was a thing impossible. His shake of the head was
as stubborn a fact in nature as any Andes. There
was only the diary left — the diary might contain the
David did not wish to open those locked thoughts.
He had hardly the right, but, after a whole day spent
in eying the book, he laughed wildly and decided. It
was a question of life, of several lives. He put the
book to his lips, with a kiss of desperation, inhaling
its faded scent of violets.
At once he rushed out with it to a tradesman skilled
in locks, and was surprised at the ease with which
the man shot back the tiny lever with a bit of twisted
"I can make you a key by the morning," said the
man, squinting into the lock, and listening to its
action as he turned the wire in his fingers. "It is a
simple mechanism with two wards. Meantime, here
it is, opened."
He refused even to be paid for "so slight a thing."
David handed him a cigar — and ran ; and was soon
deep in it. The first passage thrilled him as with
O silent one, I must tell my sweets and bitters to you, since I
mayn't to others. You will treasure each syllable, and speak of
me as I am, "nothing extenuate nor set down aught in malice."
But please, as you are good, bring not upon me any further decla-
mation of the unhappy Moor! Pray Heaven you may not have to
record the " unlucky deeds " of " one that lov'd, not wisely, but too
The Late Tenant
well," nor your pallid cheeks reveal your grief because my " sub-
Albeit unused to the melting mood,
Drop tears as fast as the Arabian trees
Their med'cinable gum ! "
I was married last Tuesday. As the carriage rolled back along
the sea front, and my darhng husband's arm clasped my waist as
tightly as a silver arm clasps you, Httle book, the old jingle came into
my head: "Monday for health, Tuesday for wealth, Wednesday the
best day of all." The nasty things predicted for the other days of
the week do not matter a jot, do they? Well, thank God, I am
healthy enough, and Harry says that we shall have plenty of money
by and by. Given health and wealth, there remains but happiness,
and that is of our own contriving. And I am happy. Of that
there can be no manner of doubt. Of course, I should have
enjoyed the pomp and circumstance of marriage in the parish
church with its joy-bells, its laughing tears, its nice speeches, while
the dear old rector beamed on me, and the good folk of R set
their eyes a-goggle to see how I looked and how Harry carried him-
I flatter myself I should have made a pretty bride, and, as for
Harry, even under the chilling influences of a registrar's office he
had the air of a man who knows his own mind. How often, titter-
ing at my thoughts, have I pictured my wedding-day long before
Prince Charming hove in sight! And how different it all has been
to the conceits of girlhood! When he did come, he hoisted an un-
known flag and bore me off like any pirate.
Then references to life in a hotel, not named, and
the good-natured scrutiny of strangers "who knew us
at once as a newly-married couple, though we tried
to be offhand to each other."
Later she described the beginning of housekeeping
in London, "where all is so strange"; then a few
phrases which sighed.
I have come to hate the word "Miss." It is a constant reminder
of the compact. Harry says it will not be long now before om*
marriage can be proclaimed; but meantime I always catch myself
smiling graciously when a shop- walker hails me as "madam."
There is a recognition in the word! "Miss" is only a trifle less
endurable than the "my dear" of the theater, which I heard to-day
for the first time.
After some days there was a darker mood:
It has given me a shock to find myself described as "domesti-
cated." I came home to an empty house, after to-day's rehearsal,
tired and a bit peevish, perhaps. It is so slow, this novitiate. Harry
says that his influence will quickly bring me to the front, that I
must have patience, that the theatrical world is so compact, yet so
split up into cliques, that, were our relationship suspected, I should
encounter hostihty instead of the indifference which I now resent.
So, in unamiable mood, I began to rate my charlady about the dust
which gives its brown tone to London interiors. Thinking that a
display of energy might prove a tonic, I cleared out the dining-
room and made things shine. My help raised her eyebrows and a
duster in astonishment. "Lor', miss," she said, "you are domesti-
cated! You must have had a good mother?" A good mother!
She didn't know how that word felt.
How odiously some of the men speak, gaze. If a woman is
attractive, they ogle her; if she is passee, she is less than nothing.
Men did not talk and leer in that way at R. Did they think so?
I cannot say. Even Harry laughed when I lost my temper in de-
scribing the impudence of a young fop who had bought his way
into the chorus. "You must get used to that sort of thing in town!"
he said. Then: "Bear with it a little while, sweetheart. Soon the
pretense will be ended, and I shall be only too happy if you have
lost the glamour of the footlights by that time. It was no wish of
mine that you should become an actress." That is quite, quite
true. But I wish now — no, I don't. I am silly and miserable.
Please, diary, don't be angry if I weep over you, and if I write foolish
Then, some four months after marriage:
The Late Tenant
Harry away a whole week now. Telegram from Paris: "Cannot
leave Mrs. S. for some time yet." He is glad that I have decided
to give up the stage without delay. So soon, so soon! I am glad,
too, for some reasons, and sorry for others. Is not that life in a
few words? . . .
Creature d'un jour qui t'agites une heure,
De quoi viens-tu te plaindre et que te fait gemir?
Ton ame t'inquiete et tu crois qu'elle pleura:
Ton ame est immortelle, et tes pleurs vont tarur.
It is strange that I should regret the passing of the stage, now
that it becomes a necessity. There I found companionship, of a
sort. I shall be so lonely. But not for long. Harry returns next
week, " on the 10th " his second message says, and then I think really
that I must begin to insist upon seeing my mother. He can hardly
refuse now. To meet her again! though our eyes will be flooded
with tears. And Vi! dear, dear Vi! Will she be eager to hear all
about it.'^ But the reproach in her eyes! What did she think
when she opened that letter of mine? How she would weep over
her old flighty Gwen! Oh, darling mother, and sweet, ever-for-
giving sister, how I long to hold you in my arms! If Harry only
knew you he would surely trust you, and then I would not care if
the publication of the marriage was delayed another year.
Hour after hour David read on, dead to all things
in the world but to the soul in pain in that book
and to his hope that, if only once, she had written
the name of her home. Every time he came upon
that letter R (by which she meant Rigsworth) he
groaned; and anon he looked with eyes of despair
and something of fond reproach at her face over the
He read of her leaving the stage, because of the
necessity that was now upon her, and then of the
months of heaviness and tears. The worst trial of
all in her lot seemed to be the constant separations,
due to the tyranny of one " Mrs. S,'* who ever drew her
husband from her. She wrote:
I actually should be jealous, if she wasn't old! From Paris to
Homburg, from Homburg to Siena: and everywhere poor Harry
dragged at her chariot-wheels! I should like to have one peep at
her in the flesh, just to see what she is really like. Her photographs
show a fat, cross-looking old thing, but she can't be quite like that,
with her really good affectionate heart. Has she not been the best
of mothers to Harry? From the time she adopted him, he says,
when he was a quite poor boy of fifteen, she has never been able to
live a month without seeing him, even when he was at Heidelburg
The Late Tenant
University. I must be content only to share him with her, but
just now I think I have the stronger claim, unless she is really so
very ill. I have heard that tale before of her "dying state," but
that sort of old things don't die so easily. I believe that I write
as if I wished her to ! God forbid ! I don't allow all Harry's dreams
of the grandeurs to be enjoyed after her death to excite me much.
I hope that I shall take it as coldly as doing up my hair when the let-
ter comes, "Mrs. S. is dead! you are a millionaire."
Mercenariness is not one of my faults, anyway. It is true that
since I have ceased to earn anything, I do sometimes feel a wee
pinch of scarcity, and wish that he could send me even a few shill-
ings a week more. But if that was only all of my trouble! No,
Mrs. S., may you Uve as long as Heaven wills. If I thought that in
any part of me there lurked one little longing to hear of that good
woman's death, I should never forgive myself. Still, I don't think
it right of her to play the despot over Harry to the extent to which
she carries it. A man thirty-eight years old has surely the right to
marry, if he wishes to. If it hadn't been for her, my marriage could
have been made public from the first, and all that woe at R. would
have been spared. Harry says that she hates the very word "mar-
riage," and that if she was to get the least scent of his marriage,
she would cut him off with a shilling.
He has run a risk, poor old Hal, for my sake, and if now and
again he can't help longing to be rich and free, it is hard to blame
him. The day he is rich and free there will be a spree, Gwen!
It is wrong lo anticipate it, but see if I don't make the street of R.
glow, if not with the wine of France, at least with beer, and if I
don't teach a certain staid Miss Violet Mordaunt how to do the
high-kick, girls ! I wonder if all will be over by then, and if I shall
go back to dear old R. not only a wife but a mother ?
Then again, a month later:
What a thing! to be a mother! Sometimes the thought hits me
suddenly between the eyes, and I can't believe it is I myself — that
same powerlessness to recognize myself which I had for fully a week
after the marriage. But this is greater still, to have something
which will be to me what I have been to my own mother. Gwen,
Gwen, how exquisitely droll! How one grows into something else
quite different, without at all noticing how and when! But will
it never be over? It is like heaving a sigh a century long. Won't
it be nice to dance again, and fling one's hmbs? But meantime,
such a weight of care, strange fears, gazings into I don't know what
abyss, and never a day without its flood of tears. I want my mother.
It is no good; I want to go back to where I was born. I am not
strong enough to bear this. But after Tuesday's promise to him,
what can I do ? I have said now that I won't write until after, and
I won't if God gives me strength.
For two months there was no entry, and then came
joy that a son was born; but from the time of that
birth, the diary which had before been profuse and
daily became short and broken.
A deadlock seemed to have arisen. "Harry"
allowed one letter to be written home to tell of the
birth; but would not permit any direct statement as
to the marriage, nor any meeting, nor any further
letter, until "Mrs. S.," who was now "near her end,"
should be dead. She wrote:
To-day is six weeks since I have seen him, and altogether he has
seen baby only twice. Yesterday's letter was divided into "heads,"
like a sermon, giving the reason why I may not go to him in Paris,
why I may not write home, even without giving my address, and
why he cannot come back yet. But it is a year now, and I have a
mother and a sister. Thei'e is no certainty that Mrs. S. may not
hve ten years longer; and in last night's letter I said that on the
4th of July, one month from now, if nothing has then happened to
change the situation, I shall be compelled to risk displeasing him,
and I shall go to R. That's crossing the Rubicon, Gwen, and I'm
awfully frightened now. He will call it defiance, and rave, I know.
"Be bold, be bold, be not too bold." But, then, I can always tame
the monster with one Delilah kiss. I think I know my man, and
The Late Tenant
can conquer my conqueror, and it is time now to begin to assert
myself a little. . . .
Isn't there something queerish in his relation with "Mrs. S"?
He stands in such mortal fear of her! I don't think it is quite pretty
for a man to have such tremors for any earthly reason. One day I
asked him why he could not introduce me to her as — a friend ?
She might take a fancy to me, I said, since I am generally pop-
ular. He looked quite frightened at the mere suggestion of such
a thing. . . .
That last night, coming home from the theater, he said some-
thing about "Anna." I asked him who Anna was. He said: "I
mean Mrs. S.," looking, it seemed to me, rather put out. I had
never heard him call her Anna before. . . .
My voice is certainly not what it was, and not through any want
of practise, I'm sure. People so hopelessly worried as I am at
present can't sing really well. For the second time yesterday I
wrote that I shall really go to mother after the fourth of next month,
and I mean it, I do mean it! I owe something to her, too, and to
myself, and I still don't see what harm it can do to Harry. Poor
dear, he is awfully frightened! "If you persist in this wild notion,
you will compel me to take a step which will be bitter to you and
to myself." I don't know what step he can mean. That's only
talk. I'll do it just to see what happens, for one oughtn't to threaten
a woman with penalties which she can't conceive, or her curiosity
will lead her to do the very thing. It was an ill-understood threat
that made Eve eat the apple, my Hal. "Thou shalt surely die";
but, not knowing what "to die" was like, she thought to herself:
"Well, just to see." There's no particularly "bitter step" that
he can take, and the time is really come for me to assert myself a
little now. Men love a woman better when she is not all milk and
honey. . . .
It is near now, Vi! He has her chin, her hands, her dark grave
eyes, her very smile. I am on the point at last of seeing him in her
arms. How will she look ? What will she think of me, the httle
girl whom she used to guide with her eye, beating her a hundred
miles, an old experienced mummie while she is still a maid! I can
no more resist it than I could fly! I shall do it! I am going to do
it! I told Harry that I should. There's no danger, and I can't
resist it any longer. I am just back from P. He is looking too
sweet now for anything, and can blow the whistle of the rattle. I
told Mrs. C. that in three days' time I shall be taking him from her
for at least ten days, perhaps for good. Only three days! Sarah
is beginning to get things ready. . . .
Yes, it was "a bitter step" enough, poor Hal! God help you
and me, and all the helpless! . . .
I told poor Sarah just now: "I am not married. You only
think that I am; but I am not. I have a child; but I am not
married. Sarah, this is no fit place for a girl like you." She
thinks that I am mad, I know, but I keep quite sane and myself.
I am only sorry for poor old Hal. He loves me and I loved him
when I had a heart. . . .
I thought of seeing the boy once more, but I haven't the energy.
I don't seem to care. If I should care, or love, or hate, or eat,
it wouldn't be so horrible. But I am only a ghost, a sham. I am
really dead. My nature is akin with the grave, and has no appetite
but for that with which it is akin. Well, I will soon come. It shall
be to-morrow night, just after Sarah is gone. But I must rouse
myself first to do that which is my duty. I ought, as a friend, to
cover up poor Hal's traces, and yet I must be just to the boy, too. He
ought to know when he grows up that, if his mother was unfortunate,
she was not abandoned, and it is my duty to leave for him the proofs
of it. But how to do that, and at the same time protect Harry, is
the question, for I suppose that the police will search the flat. It
is very wearisome. I doubt if my poor head is too clear to-day. . . .
It shall be like this: I'll hide the things somewhere where tJie
police won't readily find them. 1 11 invent a place. Then I shall
write to Vi, not telling her what is going to happen to me, but telhng
her that if in a few months' time she will thoroughly search a cer-
tain flat in London, she will find what will be good for her and
mother and the boy. And I shall give the address; but I won't tell
her exactly where I hide the things; for fear of the police getting
hold of the letter and arresting Harry. And I will post it after
Sarah is gone to-morrow night, just before I do it. That's what I
shall do. I'm pretty artful, my brain is quite clear and calm. I
The Late Tenant
don't know yet where I shall hide the things; but I shall find a place,
I shall hoodwink them all, and manage everything just nicely. Sarah
thinks that I'm mad, but I'm not. It is she who is raving mad,
and people who are mad think that every one is, except them-
I'll hide the diary in one place, the certificates in another, and
the photograph of the boy's father in another. That's what I'll do.
Then I'll tear up all other papers small. No, I'll hide as well the
letter in which he says that he is Mrs. S's husband, and that I'm not
his legal wife; for some day I should like Vi to know that I did not
take my life for nothing, but was murdered before I killed myself.
Then I'll do it. It isn't bitter; it's sweet. Death's a hole to creep
in for shelter for one's poor head. Harry will be in England in five
days' time, so I'll write him a letter to the Constitutional to say
good-by. He loves me. He didn't mean to kill me. He only told
me in order to stop me from going home. It is such a burden to
write to him, but it is my duty to give him one last word of comfort,
and I will.
Then, when all this world of business is over and done, I'll do it.
It isn't bitter; it's sweet. God, I couldn't face them! Forgive me!
I know that it is wicked; but it is nice, is death. Things are as they
are. One can't fight against the ocean. It is sweet to close one's
eyes, and drown. t
That word "drown" was the last. David closed
the book with a blackness in his heart and brain.
The reading of it had brought him only grief and
little light for practical purposes. That "Mrs. S."
meant "Mrs. Strauss" he had no doubt, nor any
doubt that "Harry" meant Henry Van Hupfeldt.
Still, there was no formal proof of it. The name of
her home, to learn which he had dared to open the
diary, appeared only as "R." The only pieces of
knowledge which the reading brought him were,
firstly, that there were a photograph and a letter still
hidden in the flat — certainly, not in any of the pic-
tures, for he had searched them all; and secondly
that "Harry" was a member of the Constitutional
Club. As for the child, it was, or had been, at "P.,"
in the care of one "Mrs. C."
HAND TO HAND
The necessity that was now strong upon David
was to act, to fight for it. To hunt for the still hidden
photograph and letter was far too slow a task in his
present mood of turbulence and desperation. The
photograph, indeed, would furnish certain proof
as to whether Strauss and Van Hupfeldt were one.
So might the letter. But of what use would proof
of anything whatever be, when he was all shut out
from access to the Mordaunts ? He thought, how-
ever, that if he could come within earshot and striking
distance of Van Hupfeldt, then something might
result, he was not clear what. He put on his hat and
went out, as grim a man as any on the streets of
London that afternoon. He did not know where
Van Hupfeldt lived, but he turned his steps toward
the Constitutional Club.
He meant at least to discover if Van Hupfeldt was
a member there, and he might discover more. But
he was spared the pains of inquiry, for he was still at
a distance of thirty yards from the club when he saw
Van Hupfeldt come out and step into a carriage.
David cringed half under a dray, till the carriage
Hand to Hand
began to move, then followed some way behind at his
long trot. He thought now that perhaps he was about
to track Van Hupfeldt to his house.
The carriage drove straight to Baker-St. Station,
into which Van Hupfeldt went, and took a ticket.
David, listening outside the outer entrance to the
small booking-office, could not catch the name of his
destination, but when Van Hupfeldt had gone down
into the gloom and fume, David, half-way down the
flight of stairs, stood watching. He had no little
finesse in tracking, and ferreting, and remaining in-
visible, and when Van Hupfeldt had taken his seat,
David was in another compartment of the same train.
The dusk of evening was thickening when their
train stopped at the townlet of Pangley, twenty-five
miles from London, where Van Hupfeldt alighted.
David saw him well out of the little station before he
himself leaped, as the train began to move. He then
took the precaution to ascertain the times of the next
up-trains. There would be one at quarter past eight
and another at ten p.m. While he asked as to the
trains, and paid the fare of some excess charge, he kept
his eye on the back of Van Hupfeldt, walking down
the rather steep street. And, when it was safe, he
At the bottom of the street they crossed a bridge,
and thenceforward walked up a road with heath on
both sides. David was angry with his luck, for the
road was straight and long, and there was little cover
The Late Tenant
in the heath, where he walked some distance from the
road. Once Van Hupfeldt turned, and seemed to
admire the last traces of color in the western sky,
whereat David, as if shot, dropped into gorse and
bracken. He hoped that Van Hupfeldt, being a man
of cities and civilization, was unconscious of him;
but he felt that he in Van Hupfeldt's place would have
known all, and he had a fear. The light was fast
failing, but he could clearly see Van Hupfeldt, who
swung a parcel in his hand; and he thought that if he
could see Van Hupfeldt well, then Van Hupfeldt
might have seen him dimly. Van Hupfeldt, however,
gave no sign of it.
David saw him go into the gateway of a pretty
dwelling, and a big hearty countrywoman ran out to
meet him, her face beaming with good cheer. Carry-
ing a child in her arms, she escorted Van Hupfeldt into
the house with, it was clear, no lack of welcome, and,
when they had disappeared, David, vaulting over a
hedge into the orchard, crept nearer the house and hid
behind a shed in which he saw a white calf. He
waited there for a long time, how long he did not know,
for once, when he peered at his watch, he could see
nothing. The night had come moonless and black.
The place where he lurked was in the shadow of trees.
Meantime, within the house. Van Hupfeldt sat with
the child on his knee. He was so pale that Mrs.
Carter, the child's foster-mother, asked if he was well.
Some purpose, some fear or hope, agitated him. Once,
Hand to Hand
when the countrywoman left the room to fetch a glass
of milk, the moment he was alone he put down the
child, sped Hke a thief to the grandfather's clock tick-
ing in its old nook by the settee, opened it, put the
minute-hand back twenty minutes, and was seated
again when the milk came in.
These visits of his to the child, of which he paid
one every week, always lasted half an hour. This
time he stayed so much longer that Mrs. Carter glanced
at the clock, only to be taken aback by the earliness
of the hour.
"Bless us!" she cried. "I thought it was later 'n
that. You still have plenty of time to catch the quar-
ter past eight, sir."
But Van Hupfeldt stood up, saying that he would
go. Putting on his coat, he added: "Mrs. Carter, I
have been followed from London by a man who, I
fancy, will present himself here presently when I am
gone. He wishes to know more about my affairs
than he has a right to know. If he comes, I have a
reason for wishing you to receive him politely, and
to keep him in talk as long as he will stay. But, of
course, you won't satisfy his curiosity in anything that
concerns me. In particular, be very careful not to
give him any hint that my name was Strauss during
my wife's lifetime."
"You may rely on me," said Mrs. Carter, in the
secret voice of an accomphce.
"Now, little one, to bed," said Van Hupfeldt, a
The Late Tenant
thin and lanky figure in his long overcoat, as he bent
with kisses over the boy in Mrs. Carter's arms.
Five minutes after he was gone David was at the
farmhouse door.: He, too, would like a glass of milk.
"You're welcome, I'm sure," said Mrs. Carter.
His first glance was at the clock, for he did not
wish to lose the quarter past eight train, since that
would mean the losing of his present chance of track-
ing Van Hupfeldt to his address. But the clock re-
assured him. He indolently took it for granted that
it was more or less near the mark, and it pointed to
twenty minutes to eight. He would thus have time
to strike up an acquaintance with Mrs. Carter, as a
preliminary to closer relations in the future.
And where is baby.^" he asked.
Oh, you know about him ? " said Mrs. Carter.
"He's in bed, to be sure."
"I saw him in your arms as I was passing up the
road half an hour ago."
"What, you passed along here.^ I didn't notice
" I came up from the station. Now, this is something
like good milk. You have a nice little farm here, too.
Do you manage it yourself .^ "
"Yes; my husband died a twelvemonth come May."
"It must be hard work with baby, too, as well,
especially if you've got any youngsters of your own."
How can you know that this baby isn't my own ? "
Hand to Hand
"Oh, as to that, I'm not quite so much in the dark
about things. Why, I'm Hving in the very flat which
its poor mother occupied. I know its aunt, I know
its father — "
"Oh, well, you seem to know a lot. What more
do you want?"
" I only know the father by sight — that is, if he
was the father who was in here just now. I take it
"Ah, there, now, you're asking."
"Oh, there's no secret, Mrs. Carter. Mr. Johann
Strauss is a well-known man."
" Is that his name — Strauss ? Well, well, live and
"That's his name, and that's his writing, Mrs.
Carter ! " — words which David uttered almost with
a shout, as he caught an envelope out of the coal scuttle,
and laid it on the table, pointing fixedly at it.
Mrs. Carter was startled by his sudden vehemence.
The envelope was one directed to her in the same
flourishing writing which Dibbin had long since shown
David as that of Strauss.
"You are bound to admit," said David, imperatively,
" that this envelope was directed to you by the gentle-
man who was just here."
"Well, so it was; what of that.^" asked Mrs. Carter,
in a maze as to what the row was about.
"That's all right, then," said David, quieting down.
"I only wanted to be sure."
The Late Tenant
This, then, settled it. Van Hupfeldt was Strauss.
David kept the envelope, sipped his milk, and for
some time talked with Mrs. Carter about her cows,
her fruit, and whether the white calf was to be sold
or kept. When it was ten minutes to eight by the big
parlor clock he rose to go, said that he hoped to see
baby next time, if he might call again, and shook
hands. But in going out, from force of habit, he
glanced at his watch, and now saw that it was really
ten minutes past eight.
" Great goodness ! " he exclaimed, " your clock is all
wrong ! "
" No, sir — " began Mrs. Carter.
David was gone. He had five minutes in which to
run a good deal over a mile, and he ran with all his
speed; but some distance from the station he saw the
train steaming out, and pulled up short.
At that moment Van Hupfeldt in the train was think-
ing: "It has worked well. He is late, and there is no
other train till ten — an hour and three quarters. He
has only a charwoman. She will not be in the flat at
this hour. No one will be there. Will it be my luck
that the diary is not under lock and key ? "
As a matter of fact, the diary was lying openly on
the dining-room table in the flat, caution of that sort
being hardly the uppermost quality in David's charac-
David strolled about Pangley, looked into the tiny
shop-windows, dined on fruit, wished that he had not
Hand to Hand
been born some new variety of a fool, and found that
hour and three quarters as long as a week. Not
much given to suspicions of meanness and cunning,
it did not even now come into his head that he was
where he was by a trick. He blamed only destiny
for imposing upon him such penal inactivity in the
little town that night when a thousand spurs were
urging him to action. But at last ten o'clock came,
and when he stepped into the train he asked himself
why he had been so impatient, since probably nothing
could be done that evening. He reached London
before eleven, and drove home weary of himself and
of his cares.
It was too late then, he thought, to go hunting after
Van Hupfeldt. On the morrow morning he would
again try at the Constitutional. Meantime, he lit
himself a fire, and sat over it brooding, cudgeling his
brains for some plan of action. Then the diary drew
him. He would re-read that tragedy throughout. He
put out liis arm, half-turning from over the fire to get
It was no longer on the table.
He stood up and stared at the table. No diary was
there. Yet he seemed to remember — He set to
work to search the flat.
Suddenly, in the midst of his work, a flood of light
broke in upon him. He thought that, if the letter
which he had written to Violet, telling her that he had
the diary, had already fallen into Van Hupfeldt's
The Late Tenant
hands, then Van Hupfeldt knew that he had the
diary; in which case, it was Van Hupfeldt who had
put back the clock's hand in the farmhouse at Pang-
ley! Van Hupfeldt knew all the time that David was
shadowing him, had put back the clock, and now
held the diary, for which both he and David would
have given all that they were worth, and all is every-
thing, whether ten pounds or a million.
"Is that it?" thought David to himself. "Oh, is
that \i? All right, let it be like that."
He lost not two minutes in thought, but with a
lowering brow went out into the streets, high-strung,
liis fingers cramped together.
An hour before this he had said to himself that the
hour was too late for action. Now, an hour later,
such a thought did not occur to him in the high pitch
of his soul. That night, and not any other night or
day, he would have it out with Van Hupfeldt.
He jumped into a cab, and drove to the flat in King-
"But what on earth can the man mean," said Miss
L'Estrange, peeping through the slit of her slightly-
opened door, "coming to a lady's flat at this hour of
the morning ? "
In reality it was about half-past twelve.
"No, it's no use talking," said David, "you must
let me in. I know you have a right good heart, and I
rely upon its action when I tell you that it is a matter
of life and death this time."
Hand to Hand
"But I'm alone/'
"So much the better."
" Well, I like your cheek ! "
"You like the whole of me; so you may as well own
up to it, and be done."
"Rats! You only come here when you want some-
thing done. It isn't me you come to see."
"I'll come to see you some other time. Just throw
something on, and let me in."
"'Throw something on,' indeed! I'll throw some-
thing on you, and that'll be hot water, the next time
you come bothering about at this hour. Oh, well,
never mind; you're not a bad sort. Come in."
The door opened. Miss L'Estrange fled, and David
went into the drawing-room, where he waited some
minutes till she reappeared, looking fresh and washed
from the night's stage-paint, with something voluminous
wrapped about her.
"Now, what is it.^" said she. "Straight to the
point — that's me."
"You must give me Strauss's address," said David.
"That I sha'n't," said she. "What do you take me
for? I promised the man that I wouldn't. I have
told you once that he isn't a thousand miles from
Piccadilly, and that's about all you'll get from me."
Good! I understand your position," said David.
But before you refuse out and out, hear what I
have to say. This man Strauss is a man who induced
Gwendoline Barnes, whom you know, to leave her
The Late Tenant
home, married her while his first wife was ahve, and
so caused her to make away with herself. And now
this same man, under the name of Van Hupfeldt, is
about to marry her sister, without telling her that he
even knew the girl whom he has murdered. I don't
know what the sister's motive for marrying him is —
quite possibly there's some trick about it — but I
know that the motive is not love. Now, just think a
moment, and tell me if this is fair to your woman's
" Oh, that's how it is ! " exclaimed Ermyn L'Estrange.
"All the facts which I have mentioned I know for
certain," said David.
"Then, that explains — "
" Explains what ? "
"I'll tell you; but this is between us, mind. Some
time ago Strauss comes to me, and he says: 'I have
given your address to a young lady — a Miss Violet
Mordaunt — who is about to write you a letter asking
whether you did or did not find any certificates in a
picture in the Eddystone Mansions flat; and I want
you in answer to deny to her for my sake that any
certificates were ever found.' "
" And you did ? " cried David with deep reproach.
"Now, no preaching, or I never tell you anything
again," shrilled Miss L'Estrange. "Here's gratitude
in man! Of course I did! He said it was only an
innocent fib which could do no harm to anybody, and
if you saw the bracelet I got for it, my boy — "
Hand to Hand
"You wrote to say that no certificates were ever
"Then what can she think of me?" he cried with
a face of pain. "I told her — "
"Ah, you are after her, too.^ I see now how it is,"
said Miss L'Estrange.
"But she might at least have given me a chance of
clearing myself!" groaned David. "She might have
written to me to say that she had found me out in a lie."
Violet had, indeed, promised herself the luxury of
writing one " stinging, crushing, killing " note to David
in the event of Miss L'Estrange proving him false.
And, in fact, not one but many such notes had been
written down at Dale Manor. But none of them had
ever been sent — her deep disdain had kept her silent.
"But," cried David, at the spur of a sudden glad
thought, " since Miss Mordaunt wrote to you, and you
to her, you know her address, and can give it me ! "
"No, I don't know her address," answered Miss
L'Estrange. "I believe now that Strauss may have
been afraid that if I knew it I might give it to you, so
he must have prevented her from putting it on her
letter. There was no address on it, I don't think, for
when I wrote back to her I gave my letter to Strauss
"Ah, he's a cautious beast!" said David, bitterly.
" Still — I'll have him — not to-morrow, but to-night.
Quick, now — his address."
The Late Tenant
"Well, I promised not to tell it to any one," vowed
Miss L'Estrange in her best soubrette manner, "and
I'll be as good as my word, since I never break a
promise when my word is once passed. I'll just write
it down on a piece of paper, and drop it on the floor
by accident, and then if anybody should happen to
notice it and pick it up without my seeing, that will
be no business of mine."
She rose, walked to a desk, and went through this
pantomime in all seriousness. The address was
dropped on the carpet, and David "happening" to
notice it, picked it up behind Miss Ermyn L'Estrange's
unconscious back. It had on it the number of a house
near Hanover Square; and in another moment David
had pressed the lady's hand, and was gone, crying:
"I'll come again!"
" Not even a word of thanks," said Miss L'Estrange
to herself, as she looked after his flying back : " * Blow,
blow, thou winter's wind.' "
David leaped into liis waiting cab, and was off
Light was still in Van Hupfeldt's quarters, and Van
Hupfeldt himself, at the moment when David rang,
was poring over the last words of the diary of her who
had been part of his life. He was livid w^ith fear at
the knowledge just learned for certain from the written
words, that there were still hidden in the flat a photo-
graph of him, and his last letter to Gwendohne, when
he heard an altercation between his man Neil and
Hand to Hand
another voice outside. A moment later he heard Neil
cry out sharply, and then he was aware of a hurried
step coming in upon him. The first thought of his
secretive nature was the diary, and, with the trepida-
tions of a miser surprised in counting his gold, he
hustled it into a secret recess of the bureau near which
he had been reading. He had hardly done this when
he stood face to face with David.
At that moment Van Hupfeldt's face seemed lit with
a lunacy of affright, surprise, and rage. David, with
his hat rather drawn over his eyes, and with a
frowning severity, said : " I want four things of you — the
diary, the key of my flat which you have in your posses-
sion, those certificates, and Mrs. Mordaunt's address."
A scream went out from Van Hupfeldt: "Neil! the
pohce ! "
"Quite so," said David; "but before the police
come, do as I say, or I shall kill you."
Van Hupfeldt could hardly catch his breath suf-
ficiently to speak. A man so wholly in the grip of
terror it was painful to see. David understood him
to say: " Man, I warn you, my heart is weak."
" Heart weak ? " growled David. " That's what you
say ? Well, then, keep cool, and let me have my way.
We must wrangle it out now somehow. You have
the police on your side for the moment, and I stand
alone — "
Now the outer door was heard to slam; for Neil had
run out to summon help.
The Late Tenant
"I'm not acting on my own behalf," said David,
"but for the sake of a girl whose life, I feel sure, you
are going to make bitter. She cares nothing for you — "
"How dare you!" came in a hoarseness of con-
centrated passion from Van Hupfeldt's bosom.
" No, she cares nothing for you — "
"And even if she did, she is sure to find out sooner
or later that you are Strauss — "
" Oh ! had I but guessed ! "
"Which would be the death of her—"
"I never dreamed of this."
"So, on her behalf, I'll just make a hurried search
before the police comes. The things are not yours.
If your heart wasn't weak, I'd maul you till you were
willing to hand them over of your own accord."
With that David made a move toward the bureau,
whereupon Van Hupfeldt uttered a scream and flew
upon liim like a cat-o'-mountain, but David flung him
away to the other end of the room.
Scattered over the bureau were a number of letters
in their envelopes ready for the post, and the first of
these upon which David's eye fell was directed to
"Miss Violet Mordaunt."
Here was luck! Even as his heart bounded, before
even he had seen a word of the address, he was in
darkness — Van Hupfeldt had switched off the light.
And now once again David felt himself outdone by
the cunning of this man. The room was large, crowded
Hand to Hand
with objects of luxury, and the switch a needle in a
bundle of hay. In which direction to grope for it
David did not know. He ran to where he had flung
Van Hupfeldt, to compel him by main force to turn
on the light. But Van Hupfeldt was no longer there.
The suddenness of the darkness made it black to the
eyes. David could not find the switch, and fearing
lest Van Hupfeldt might snatch away the letter to
Violet in the dark, he flew back to the bureau, over-
setting first a chair, and then colliding upon Van Hup-
feldt a little distance from the bureau. Again he
flung Van Hupfeldt far, and, keeping near the bureau,
groped along the beading of the wall, to see if he could
encounter another switch.
In the midst of this search, his ears detected the
sound of a key in the outer door, and understanding
that help had arrived for the enemy, instantly he took
his decision, felt for the eight or ten envelopes on the
bureau, slipped them all into his pocket, and was gone.
In the hall, coming inward he met Neil and an ofiicer,
but, as if making a deep bow to the majesty of the
law, he slipped as easily as a wave under the ofiicer's
hand, and disappeared through the wide-open door.
The officer ran after him. This was simple. From
the moment when David pitched through the house-
door below the stairs, he was never more seen by that
particular officer to the day of his death.
Under a lamp in Oxford-St., when he stopped run-
ning, he took out Strauss's letters from his pocket with
The Late Tenant
a hand that shook, for in his heart was the thought:
"Suppose I have left hers behind!"
But no; that fifth one was hers: "Miss Violet Mor-
daunt, Dale Manor, Rigsworth, near Kenilworth."
Remembrance came to him with an ache of rapture.
Within twenty-four hours he would see her. He was
so pleased that he was at the pains to throw Strauss's
other letters into the first pillar-box. What did it
matter now that the diary, certificates, anything or
everything, had been filched from him ^ To-morrow,
no, that day, he would see Violet.
DAVID MORE THAN REGAINS LOST GROUND
Harcourt was now in the position of a man who
thinks he has invented a flying-machine — enthusiasm
became stronger than knowledge, behef was made to
do service as evidence. To meet Violet, to look again
into those sweet eyes of hers, that was the great thing
he promised himself next morning. Indeed, it is to be
feared he deliberately surrendered himself to dreams
of such a meeting, while he smoked pipe after pipe in
his lonesome flat, rather than set himself to an orderly
review of his forces for the approaching trial of strength
with Van Hupfeldt.
No sooner was he well clear of Van Hupfeldt's house
than he knew that he was safe from active interference
by the law. The man whom he now looked on as his
rival, the subtle adversary whom he had scorned to
crush when appealed to for mercy on the score of physi-
cal inferiority, would never dare to seek the aid of
authority. Nursing that fact, ready enough to wel-
come the prospect of an unaided combat, David did
not stop to consider that an older head in counsel
would not be a bad thing. There was Dibbin, for
instance. Dibbin, whose ideas were cramped within
The Late Tenant
ledgers and schedules, had, nevertheless, as he said
himself, "been young once." Surely David could
have sufficiently oxygenized the agent's thin blood
with the story told by the hapless Gwendoline that
the man should hie with him to Rigsworth and there
be confronted with the veritable Strauss. Dibbin was
a precise man. It would have been hard for Van
Hupfeldt to flout Dibbin.
But no; David smoked and dreamed, and saw a
living Violet in the chalk portrait of the dead Gwendo-
line, and said so many nice words to the presentment
thus created that he came to believe them; and so he
consigned Dibbin to his own musty office, nor even
gave heed to the existence of such a credible witness
as Sarah Gissing, poor Gwendoline's maid.
He left a penciled note on his table that the char-
woman was to call him when she came at eight — for
in such wise does London conquer Wyoming — and
with the rattle of her knuckles on the door he was out
of bed, blithe as a lark, with his heart singing greetings
to a sunny morning.
The manner of dress, the shade of a tie, the exact
degree of whiteness of linen, were affairs of moment
just then. Alack! here was our erstwhile rounder-up
of steers stopping his hansom on the way to the station
in order to buy a smart pair of doeskin gloves, while he
gazed lovingly at a boutonniere of violets, but forbore.
It was noon ere he reached Rigsworth, and inquiry
showed that the Mordaunts' house was situated at the
David More Than Regains Lost Ground
farther end of the small village. He walked through
the street of scattered houses, and attracted some
attention by the sure fact that he was a stranger. At
any rate, that was how he regarded the discreet scrutiny
to which he was subjected.
" A big house with a lodge-gate, just past the church
on the left," were the station-master's directions, and
David had no difficulty in finding his way. His heart
fell a little when he saw the style of the place. The
lodge was a pretty villa in itself. Its garden would be
of great worth within the London suburban area.
Behind it stretched the park of Dale Manor, and the
turrets of a mansion among many lordly elms seemed
to put Violet on a somewhat inaccessible pinnacle.
David did not know that people of moderate means
can maintain a good sporting estate by letting the
shooting, but he had learned in the free air of the
States to rate a man on a different level to parks; if a
half-bred rascal like Van Hupfeldt was able to enter
this citadel Hke a thief for one daughter of the house,
why should not an honest man storm it for the sake
of another ^
At the lodge, however, he met with a decided rebuff.
"No visitors admitted," was the curt response of a
gamekeeper sort of person who was lurking in a door-
way when David tried to open the locked gale.
"My business is important," urged David, quietly,
though his face flushed a little at the man's impudent
The Late Tenant
"So's my orders," said velveteens.
"But I must see either Mrs. Mordaunt or Miss
"You can't see either. Absolute orders. Your
name's Harcourt isn't it?"
Then David knew that Van Hupfeldt had over-
reached him by the telegraph, and the shattering of
his dream-castle caused such lightnings to gleam
from within that the surly gamekeeper whistled to a
retriever dog, and ostensibly revealed a double-barreled
gun which lay in the corner of the porch.
David was likely to have his own way with clod-
hoppers, even in the hour of tribulation.
"Yes," he said, "my name is Harcourt. And
your s r
"Mine is no matter."
" Very well, ' No Matter.' You are obeying orders, I
have no doubt; but you must be taught civility. I
give you notice, No Matter, that a little later I shall
lick you good and plenty, and if you don't take it like
a man you will probably be fired into the bargain."
The keeper was for abusing him, but David turned
away. And now he was not the well-dressed, gloved,
spick-and-span Londoner, but the Indian of the prairie,
with a heart from which the glow had gone, with eyes
that saw and ears that heard and a brain that recorded
He was instantly aware that the country policeman
who had lolled through the village behind him was a
David More Than Regains Lost Ground
forewarned spy. He knew that this functionary
watched his return to the railway station, from which,
as David happened to remember, the time-table had
shown a train London-wards at one o'clock.
The station-master was affable enough, gave him
some bread and meat and a glass of milk, and refused
any payment. When the train came in, David, sourly
smiling, saw the constable loll onto the platform. He
could not resist the temptation to lean out of the car-
"Good-by, P. C. 198," he said.
Now, he was traveling first-class, and, in England,
even a villain demands respect under that circum-
" Good-by, sir," said the man, surprised.
" You will know me again, eh ? "
"Oh yes, sir."
"I am glad of that. Tell that chap at the gate of
Dale Manor that I shall keep my fixture with him
P. C. 198 scratched his head. "Funny affair," he
muttered as the train moved off. "Looks an' talks
more of a gentleman than van Wot's-his-name, any
At the next station, four miles away, David slipped
out of his carriage quickly and waited in a shed until
the train had gone again. Then he interviewed the
station-master, and somewhat astonished the oflficial
by tendering a return ticket from Rigsworth to London.
The Late Tenant
" Can't break your journey," said the regulations.
"But I've done it," said David.
"It's irregular," complained the other.
"And the train is half a mile distant."
"Well, if you pay the fare — "
David meant to forfeit his ticket. This was a new
light. He paid a few pence, took a receipt, and
promised himself some fun at Rigsworth.
He asked for no information. From the train he
had noted a line of telegraph posts in the distance, and
he stepped out smartly along a by-road until he gained
the main thoroughfare. Then, being alone, he ran,
and the newly bought gloves burst their seams, so he
flung them off.
When less than a mile from Rigsworth he heard the
wliistle of a train. Springing to a high bank, he
made out the sinuous, snake-like curling of an engine
and coaches beyond the hedge-rows — a train coming
from London. " Van Hupfeldt is in it, of course," he
decided. "I must make sure."
It needed a fine sprint, aided by the exercise of quick
judgment when he neared Dale Manor; but he was
hidden in a brake of brambles in the park as Van
Hupfeldt, exceedingly palhd this glorious day of
spring, walked up the drive, accompanied by the
gamekeeper, dog and gun. The dog came near to
undoing David; but a rabbit, already disturbed, ran
out of the thicket, and a sharp command from the
keeper brought the retriever to heel.
David More Than Regains Lost Ground
Van Hupfeldt entered the gardens; the keeper made
off across the park. Green and brown buds, almost
bursting into leaf, were already enriching the shrubs
and trees of Dale Manor, especially in a sheltered
hollow on the left front of the house where nestled a
pretty lake. There the cover was good. The hunter
instinct sent him that way.
"That Dutchman will make Violet bolt just as the
dog started the rabbit," thought David, and he took
a circuitous route to reach a summer-house on the
most distant side of the ornamental water, whence,
he fancied, he could command a fair view of the house
and grounds. He waited with stubborn patience two
long hours. At last he saw a man arrive in a dog-cart,
and it was the coming of this person which apparently
drove Violet forth, as, five minutes after the newcomer
was admitted, a tall graceful figure in black, a girl
wearing a large black hat and draping a white shawl
elegantly round her shoulders, stepped out of a French
window to the smooth lawn, and looked straight at
the sheet of water beyond which David lay ensconced.
No need to tell him who this was. His heart did
not beat now. He was glad, and something warmed
his whole body, for it was chill waiting there in the
shade after his run, but neither man nor water could
interpose further barrier between him and his Violet,
so he was calm and confident.
The girl glanced back once toward the room she
had quitted, and then strolled on, ever coming nearer
The Later Tenant
the glistening lake and the summer-house. She
crossed the fine stretch of turf and stood for an instant
near a marble statue which guarded a fountain. The
distance was not great, and David thought his eyes
were deceiving him when he saw that the white marble
and the black-garbed girl were singularly alike in
feature. It was not surprising, since the sculptor had
taken Violet's great-grandmother, a noted beauty of
early Georgian days, as his model for the face of the
dryad, and it was one of the honored traditions of
Dale Manor that this figure should be promptly
shielded from inclement weather, even from the
dew. Just then David was not inclined to cavil at
any discovery of fresh charms in Violet, but he set
aside this fanciful idea, as he deemed it, and bent his
mind on attracting her attention without causing a
flutter either to her or to the other occupants of the
But she came on again, reached the lake-side path,
and made him hope for a moment that she would pass
by the door of his retreat. If that was so, he would
reveal himself to her soon enough to save her from
being unduly alarmed by the unexpected apparition of
a man in that secluded place.
Now she actually passed abreast of him, with
the lake between, and soon she would round the
curve of the water and face him again. Her fig-
ure was mirrored in the silver and blue of the re-
flected sky. So light was her step that the living,
David More Than Regains Lost Ground
moving body seemed to be as impalpable as its spirit
Then David's heart did jump of a sudden, for a
faint hail of "Vi!" twice repeated, caught his ears,
and he saw Mrs. Mordaunt, outside the French window,
calling to her daughter.
The girl turned, facing David, almost. He made
up his mind without a moment's hesitation.
"Violet," he said, softly but clearly, "Violet, don't
go! Come here. It is I, David." The cheek of him!
as Miss Erymn L'Estrange would have put it. Violet!
David ! What next ?
Violet was bewitched for a second or two. She
looked wildly toward the house, and at him; for he
stood so that she might see him plainly, though to her
mother he was invisible.
"Please come!" he pleaded. "I am here for your
sake, for Gwen's sake, too, and they have kept us apart
so long by lies!"
That the girl was greatly excited was obvious. She
pressed her hands together on her bosom, though the
action might pass as a simple adjustment of her shawl.
"I must go," she murmured brokenly. "They want
me there to — to sign some documents. And I can-
not meet you."
"Violet, sign nothing until you have heard my
story. I appeal to you for a hearing. If you refuse
I shall come with you to the house. But hear me
first. Make some excuse."
The Late Tenant
There was ever that in David's voice which won
belief. Some men ring true, some false. David had
in him the clear sound of metal without flaw.
And no woman is worth her salt who cannot act
more than a little. " Give me ten minutes, mother,'*
shrilled Violet, excitedly. "Only ten minutes; then I
shall be with you."
David, peeping through the rustic timber-work,
noted with satisfaction that Mrs. Mordaunt waved a
hand of agreement and reentered the house. What
then, of devil's work was Van Hupfeldt plotting in
that drawing-room that Violet should be wanted to
sign documents, and that the girl's mother should
recognize the need of her daughter being allowed some
few minutes of grace if she so desired ?
But here came Violet, all rosy now with wonder,
for her blood was racing, though in her eyes, which
reflected her thoughts, was an anger which David
missed in his joy. She stood framed in the narrow
doorway of the summer-house, and half turned as
though to leave it quickly. "Now, what have you to
say to me 't " she breathed hurriedly.
David, who thought he was shy with women, soon
found winged words to pierce the armor of a disdain
he did not yet understand. "If I obeyed my heart,
Violet," he said, and she thrilled a little under the
shock of hearing her Christian name so glib on his lips,
"I would begin by telling you that I love you, and so
throw to the winds all other considerations."
David More Than Regains Lost Ground
She turned and faced him, palpitating, with a cer-
tain deer-Kke readiness to fly. " How dare you ? "
"I am not daring. Daring springs from the heart,
you know. Moreover, though the knowledge of my
love is old to me, old as weary days and sleepless nights
can make it, it may be new to you, unless, somehow,
my love has bridged the void, and made you responsive
to my passion. Ah, don't be afraid, now," for David
thought she shrank from him — though in very truth
this maiden's soul was all a-quiver with the conviction
that not so had Van Hupfeldt spoken, not so had his
ardor shaken her. "I am not here to-day as your
lover, as your avowed lover I would rather say, but
only as your self-appointed guardian, as one who
would save you from a fate worse than death. Listen
now, and believe me, for I can prove the truth. Van
Hupfeldt, who would marry you, is none other than
Strauss, the man who married your sister."
Violet's eyes dilated. Her lips parted as if to utter
a shriek. David caught her by the wrist and drew
her gently toward him. Before either of them knew
what was happening, his arms were about her.
" Be brave, there's a dear girl ! " he whispered. *' Be
brave and silent! Can you listen.^ Tell me you are
not afraid to listen."
Again Violet was conscious that the touch of David
Harcourt's arms was a different thing to the impetuous
embrace of Van Hupfeldt. A sob came from her.
She seemed to lose a little of her fine stature. She
The Late Tenant
was becoming smaller, more timidly womanlike, so
near this masterful man.
"He married your sister," went on David. "He
married Gwen in his own name of Van Hupfeldt, and
the birth of their child is registered in that name. I
wrote and told you of the certificates being in existence.
He obtained them by bribery and a trick. That is
nothing. Even if they are destroyed, they can be
replaced by the proper authorities. I know where the
child is living. I can take you to it. I can bring
Dibbin, the agent, here, to face Van Hupfeldt and
prove that he is none other than Strauss, your sister's
husband and slayer. I can bring Sarah Gissing,
your sister's servant, to identify him as the man whom
poor Gwen loved as her husband and the father of her
child. Were it not for my own folly, I could have
brought you her diary — "
"Her diary! Has it been found .^" gasped Violet,
lifting up her eyes to his in sheer amazement.
" Yes. I found it."
"But where, and how.?"
" It was fastened into the back of a picture, a mezzo-
tint of Turner's."
"In the back of a picture!" she murmured, with a
certain strange dejection which David found adorable;
nor should it be forgotten that the only time David
possessed absolute and undeniable evidence of the
presence of some unseen person in his flat, he had shot
at and wounded a man.
David More Than Regains Lost Ground
" Yes, dear — may I call you dear ? "
"And you have it ? "
"No!" He felt a spasm of doubt in her very
shoulders, a slight withdrawing from him, for Violet
was ever being denied proof, the actual, tangible proof
which alone can banish suspicion from a sorely-tried
"Van Hupfeldt stole it from the flat during my
"How could that be?"
"He has duplicate keys, I suppose. Once before
I have reason to believe he was there. We struggled
together, one on each side of a door. It was in the
dark, and he managed to dodge past me, but I fired at
him and drew blood, I think."
"When was that.^" she demanded with a quickness
which did not escape him.
"On the morning of the day you were to have met
me at the cemeterv, but sent such a bitter little note
"A bitter little note!"
And thus were the words said which, pursued for
another sentence, must have unmasked Van Hupfeldt
wholly; but they were both so excited, so carried out
of all bounds of reasoned thought, that Violet flew off
at a tangent, and David doubled after her, so delight-
ful was it to hear the words coming from her lips, to
watch her eyes telegraph their secret meanings.
The Late Tenant
"He was lame that day," she whispered. "He is
not quite free from stiffness in his walk yet."
" Ah ! I hit him then ? " And David smiled a
different kind of smile to that which Violet was learn-
ing to like.
" But if all that you say is true, the man is a monster,"
she cried in a sudden rage.
" I am coming to think that he is not in his right
mind," said David, a surprising charity springing up
" And do you know what they are waiting for now ? "
she asked vehemently.
" I cannot tell, save that it is for you."
" They want me to sign a marriage settlement. Oh,
what a vile world ! "
"Not a vile world, dear; nor are its humans alto-
gether bad. Even this Van Hupfeldt, or Strauss,
seems to have loved your sister. And she did love him.
Poor girl! She meant to kill herself on his account,
owing to some secret he revealed to her, something
about another woman who had adopted him as her
son. That was not clear in her story. She purposely
kept the definite things out of her diary."
The girl's mind was driven back, with quick re-
bound, to the memory of her sister's fate. The mere
mention of the name of Strauss touched a poignant
chord. Strauss was a blacker, more Satanic creature
in her imagination than Van Hupfeldt. She wrenched
herself free and sprang toward the door.
David More Than Regains Lost Ground
"Do you swear that you are telling me the truth?"
"I swear it."
"Then I go now to meet him, and his lawyer, and
my mother. Poor mother! How she will suffer!"
*' Shall I come with you ? "
She blushed. She began to remember, more vividly
each instant, how long she had been there in his arms,
almost clinging to him.
"Better not," she said. "I shall drive him away,
and when mother and I have cried together we shall
see you. Are you staying in the village.^"
"Yes. At the inn, the Feathers I think it is called."
"Then I shall send for you to-night, or perhaps to-
"Make it to-night, if possible. Tell your mother
I will not add to her sorrows, and it is best she should
Good-by, then, Violet."
He held out his hand, so frankly that she placed her
white fingers within the grasp of his strong ones. He
was tempted to draw her nearer, but her color rose
again, her eyes dropped, and she tore herself away,
breaking almost into a run.
David, careless whether he was seen or not, walked
off towards the lodge, glancing every now and then
over his shoulder to watch Violet hastening to the house.
Once, when crossing the lawn, she looked around and
The Late Tenant
waved a hand to him. He replied. Then she van-
ished, and David walked on, the happiest man in
What a pity it is that ignorance should so often be
an essential part of bliss. David should either have
gone with Violet, or, failing that, he should have let
Van Hupfeldt believe that he was well on his way to
London. As it was, Van Hupfeldt saw him crossing
the park, and such a man forewarned is forearmed.
FROM THE DEPTHS
Violet entered the drawing-room with the air of
one who rejoices in good news. Consider that she
had just learned the certainty of her sister's fair fame,
and that, in the same breath, she was freed from Van
Hupf eldt's pestering : was it to be wondered at if, since
the dread day she received a letter from a loved one
already dead, she had never once looked so light-
hearted, so full of the wine of life, as when she danced
into the house after her interview with David. And
this quickening of her pulses boded no good to Van
A lawyer-like man was arranging parchments on a
table — a large, square table which had evidently
been brought from a library for the purpose, as the
day was chill indoors and the drawing-room was cozy
with a log fire. Van Hupfeldt, who had turned from
the window before Violet appeared, affected to be
examining the great red seals on the green ribbons
laced into the vellum. That weak heart of his was
knocking hard at his ribs; but his lips were tight set:
he was fighting with his back to the wall, for that
interloper, David Harcourt, must have told Violet
The Late Tenant
everything. So, really, Van Hupfeldt deserved some
consideration for his splendid nonchalance.
Mrs. Mordaunt sat in an easy-chair, stroking her
toy Pom. She was anxious for these preliminaries to
be done with. Dale Manor was an expensive place to
keep up; Van Hupfeldt's millions would restore the
Falerian order. So she hailed her daughter pleasantly,
after one critical glance.
"Your little walk did, indeed, bring out the roses,
Vi. But you were rather beyond the ten minutes,
and Mr. Sharpe is a business man, dear; we must not
detain him unduly."
Mr. Sharpe coughed with deference. He was open
to be detained or retained for the rest of his life, at the
price fer diem.
"Ah, yes," said Violet, softly, giving Van Hupfeldt a
queer look which he alone understood. "There are
things to be signed, something about some one of the
first part and some other person of the second part.
Why do you use such odd terms, Mr. Sharpe ? "
" It is the jargon of the law. Miss Mordaunt. Every
line adds a mite to the small incomes of us poor
"But who are these people?"
Sharpe looked puzzled. " The first deed recites the
marriage contract between you and Mr. Van Hup-
feldt," he began to explain.
But Violet said, and her words had the cold clink of
ice in a glass : " Who is Mr. Van Hupfeldt ? "
From the Veptfis
"Vi!" This from Mrs. Mordaunt.
"Mother, better not interfere. You don't seem to
understand, Mr. Sharpe. You spoke of a Mr. Henry
Van Hupf eldt. Who is he ? "
The lawyer, smirking at the hidden joke, pointed
to the man standing by the table. "Of course, that
is he," he said.
"Oh, no. That is Johann Strauss, the man who
married and, it may be found, killed my sister. You
must look further into your papers, Mr. Sharpe.
There is some terrible mistake. Perhaps, if you went
on your knees and prayed to God for guidance in your
work, it might be better!"
"Vi!" shrieked her mother again, and the dog in
her lap sprang off in alarm.
The solicitor stood dumfounded, still thinking that
some bizarre piece of humor was toward.
It was Van Hupfeldt who saved Mrs. Mordaunt
from imminent hysteria. "Violet has been talking to
that fellow Harcourt, of whom I told you," he said
coolly. "She is, unfortunately, only too ready to be-
lieve him, and a further wall of distrust is built between
us at a most inopportune moment. I am sorry, Mrs.
Mordaunt; it is not my fault. And I would have
saved you from this, Violet. I knew he had left
London, so I wired precautions. But he is a scamp
of unparalleled audacity and resource. Surely you
have given him no money ? "
Violet, scarce trusting her ears, listened to the calm,
The Late Tenant
smooth sentences with rising indignation. But she
mastered herself sufficiently to say: *'He has told
me everything — about the certificates, the diary, all.
The time of lies has passed. Did you, then, kill my
sister ? "
"Why condense the tale? Of course he assured
you that Dibbin, the agent who let the flat to your
sister's husband, will readily identify me as Strauss;
that Sarah Gissing, her servant, will hail me as her
former master .p"
"Yes. He did say that."
" Why did he not bring them here ? "
"He will bring them to-morrow."
Van Hupfeldt smiled wearily. It seemed as though
he could not help himself. "Forgive me, Violet,"
he said. " It is I who will bring them — not Har-
court. He dare not. His bubble bursts the moment
you ask for proof. Indeed, I am beginning to think
the man is mad. He must have conceived an insane
affection for you, and you are committing a great
wrong in giving him these clandestine meetings."
This was too much. Violet advanced toward him
with eyes aflame. "There were days in the history
of the world when men were struck dead from Heaven ! "
"That is yet possible," he answered with a strange
Do you deny all, all ? " she almost screamed.
Not only do I deny, but I affirm, and I have my
From the Depths
proofs. I have known for some time, not very long, it
is true, that a man named Johann Strauss did assume
my name when he married your sister. There is
nothing remarkable in that. I am a rich man, known
to many. The adoption of a pseudonym is a common
device of actors. There was no real resemblance be-
tween this person Strauss and myself. Of that fact
those who were well acquainted with him — Dibbin
and Sarah Gissing — will assure you to-morrow in
this house. I have your sister's marriage certificate,
and the birth registration of her child. I know where
the child is. I will bring the foster-mother to tell you
that I was not the man who intrusted the infant to her
care. I have your sister's diary, which this Harcourt
did really secure. I got it from him by a trick, 1 ad-
mit, but only to save you from becoming his dupe.
Now I have placed all my cards on the table, by the
side of your marriage settlement. Can David Har-
court do as much?"
The girl's lips quivered a little. What was she to
believe.^ In whom was she to trust.'' She wanted to
cry, but she dug her nails into her white hands; for the
encircling clasp of David's arms still tingled on her
shoulders. *'AMiy do you tell me all this only when I
force it from you ? " she asked.
"You answer your own question. You force it
from me. Exactly I would prefer that my promised
wife should have trust in me. I wished to spare you
certain sordid revelations; but because some American
The Late Tenant
adventurer happens upon a family tragedy and uses
it for his own purposes — whether base or not I do not
stop to inquire — you treat me as the one quite un-
worthy of behef. Violet, you hurt me more than you
know." The man's voice broke. Tears stood in his
The girl was nearly distraught under the stress of
the struggle going on with her. "Henry Van Hup-
feldt," she said solemnly, looking him straight in the
face, " may the Lord judge between me and you if I
have wronged you ! "
"No, sweet girl, you cannot wrong me; for my con-
science is clear, but it is a hard thing that you should
incline rather to this blackmailer than to me."
"Blackmailer!" The ugly word came from her
lips in sheer protest; the lash of a whip could not have
stung as cruelly.
"Yes, most certainly. Did he not demand a hun-
dred pounds from you .^ Let me go to him and offer
five hundred, and you will never see or hear of him
" Oh, if that is so, there is no faith or honesty in the
" Is lie your world, then .^ " demanded Van Hup-
feldt, bitterly, and even Mrs. Mordaunt broke in with
" Oh, Vi ! "
"Let us end this distressing scene," went on Van
Hupfeldt with a repressed indignation that was ex-
From the Depths
ceedingly convincing. "Mr. Sharpe, you see, of
course, that Miss Mordaunt cannot be expected to
complete these agreements to-day. Please be here
to-morrow at the same time. Before that hour I
shall be back from London with all the witnesses and
documents which shall prove to Miss Mordaunt's
complete satisfaction that she has been grossly misled
by a cleverly concocted story. Indeed, I would be
glad if, subsequently, you interviewed this David
Harcourt. It seems to me almost credible now that
he himself believed the extraordinary tale he has
"Whatever you please shall be done, sir," said the
lawyer. " And may I add, for the benefit of these two
ladies, that — er — my own knowledge of your posi-
tion and — er — career completely excludes such a
preposterous — er — "
"Thank you, Mr. Sharpe," broke in Van Hupfeldt.
"You mean that kindly, I know; but this is a matter
between Miss Mordaunt and mvself at the moment."
The solicitor gathered up his papers and withdrew.
For a little while there was no sound in the room except
the mother's sobbing and the daughter's labored
breathing; for unhappy Violet w^as so torn with doubt
that her breast appeared to be unable to harbor its
agitation. A few minutes ago she deemed herself
free from a compact hateful to her soul; yet, here was
Van Hupfeldt more convincing, more compelling, than
ever. To her terrified eyes the man assumed the shape
The Late Tenant
and properties of a python, a monstrous snake from
which there was no escape.
And then the sibilant hiss of his voice reached her
dulled ears. "Mrs. Mordaunt, may I appeal to your
authority.^ Surely this Harcourt will not be admitted
here in my absence .^ I do not ask much, only a respite
of twenty-four hours. Then I return, with all the
"Why have they been withheld so long.?" came
Violet's agonized protest.
"I do declare, Vi," broke in her mother, "that you
would try the patience of Job! Have you lost all
your fine sense of honor and fairness ? What more
can Mr. Van Hupfeldt do to please you ^ And where
do you meet tliis young man who so unwarrantably
thrusts himself into our affairs, I should like to know ? "
Poor Violet knew that the British matron instinct
was fighting against her now. And there never was
a girl more bound up in her family ties than this one.
"Forgive me, mother," she said wearily. "The long
struggle is at an end, now. Let Mr. Van Hupfeldt
keep his promise, and I shall not cause further diffi-
"Well said!" cried Van Hupfeldt, eagerly. "That
is a brave resolve. I accept it implicitly. Mrs. Mor-
daunt, I trust you will not be angry with my Violet
wliile I am away. I know how she has suffered. It is
for me to make amends for all that. And I promise
her happiness, a full cup. And, meanwhile, Violet — "
From the Depths
"I agree. I neither see nor speak to nor send any
message to David Harcourt, as far as lies in my power,
until your return to-morrow."
"I kiss my hand to you both!" cried Van Hupfeldt
with the gallant air which came natural to him, and
he went out. His preparations were soon made. A
carriage took him to the station; but before he quitted
the manor, he sent for the gamekeeper.
"You were remiss in your duty," he said sternly to
the man. "The person of whom I warned you has
been in the park and has spoken to Miss Violet. Now,
listen carefully to what I say. Obtain any help you
require and guard this house and its grounds so that
not a bird can fly over it nor a rabbit scamper among
the bushes without your knowledge. Do this until I
return to-morrow and I give you fifty pounds, but fail
in the least particular and you will be dismissed in-
stantly." He was gone, with a rush of whipped
Velveteens took thought. "Twiced in one day!"
he growled. "A licking or the sack, an' fifty quid or
the sack — which is it to be ? "
It might be one, or all, or none. Of such firsts,
seconds, and thirds is the acrostic of life made up.
But the promise of money stirred the man's dull wits.
No watch-dog Could have been more faithful to his
trust, and, by lavish oft'ers of silver and beer — de-
ferred luxuries, of course — he secured the aid of
certain local poachers, his lasting enemies, but his
The Late Tenant
friends for the night. In g, word, if David had crept
again into the park, he would probably have been
beaten to a jelly.
But David attempted nothing of the sort. He was
loyal to his pact with Violet, never dreaming of the
ordeal to which the girl had submitted. Nevertheless,
having no sort of occupation, he kept his eyes and
ears open. He saw Sharpe drive through the village,
and was told that the lawyer was head of a trusted
firm in the county town. He saw Van Hupfeldt pass
toward the station, and the ostler learned from a rail-
way porter that the "gentleman from the manor" had
gone to "Lunnon."
This gave David cause to think, seeing that there
was no news from Violet. But he waited, with much
hope and some spasms of miserableness, through the
long dull evening; heard nothing from her; went to
bed; tossed restlessly until the sun rose; met the village
postman at the door of the inn; and still received no
tidings. He breakfasted, hung about, watched the
road, sauntered as far as the lodge, nodded aifably to
velveteens behind the bars, and caught no glimpse
of Violet. Then he determined to break the spell of
silence. He returned to the inn and wrote a letter,
which he intrusted to His Majesty's Postmaster-
General for express delivery.
Sure enough, the postmistress's young sister re-
fused to be turned back by the Cerberus at the gate,
nor would she tell her business. The man knew her,
From the Depths
suspected her errand, but dared not interfere, having
a wholesome regard for the law; so all he could do
was to note her coming and going, and report to his
briber, for he was Mrs. Mordaunt's servant.
And this is what David wrote:
My dear One — Can it be that some newly conceived lie has
kept you from sending for me? I only ask your full inquiry: I
stand or fall by that. But spare me this silence; for I am eating
mv heart out. _,
The messenger tripped back. "No answer, sir,"
she said, and the words smote David such a blow that
his cheek blanched, while the girl wondered.
" To whom did you hand my note ? " he managed to
"To Miss Violet, sir."
" Are you sure ^ "
" Oh, yes, sir. Gave it to her myself."
" And she read it ? "
"Did she say anything?"
"Just that, sir; no answer."
Then David, in a mighty wrath and fume, dashed
off another note.
Very well, be it so. I return to London. Grod help you if you
marry that man ! You will sink to the pit, and the angels alone
will be able to lift you therefrom. Let there be no error this time.
I leave for London at one fifteen, p.m. If you want me you must
either detain me now or come to me in London.
The Late Tenant
Back went the postmistress's sister, marveling at
the strangeness of these one-sided missives between
the young woman of the manor and a handsome young
man at the Feathers. Being seventeen, she took
David's side as against Violet. So she added, on her
own account, when she saw the white-faced aristocrat
in the house, the explanatory statement that "the
young gentleman seemed to be very much upset at
receiving no reply."
Poor Violet, in whom loyalty was hereditary, could
not break her word. But she did say: *'I have no
message to-day; but I know Mr. Harcourt's address."
That was the only crumb of comfort vouchsafed to
David. Away he went at quarter-past one, nor did
the volcano in him show any sign of subsidence when
he reached the gloom and shadows of No. 7 Eddystone
For a little drop of acutest poison had been poured
into his ear by the gossip of the village. In the bar
overnight he heard yokels talking of the need of money
at the big house, how Van Hupfeldt's wealth would
make the flowers grow again in Rigsworth. He
smiled at the conceit then; now he knew that deadly
nightshade was sown in the garden of his hopes, for
he imagined that money had proved more potent than
It was a remarkable thing that of all the pictures
in the flat he had left untouched the portrait in chalk
which hung over the dining-room fireplace. It savored
From the Depths
too much of sacrilege to disturb that ethereal face;
but David was in far too savage a mood to check at
sentiment during those dark hours. He surveyed the
portrait almost vindictively, though had he been less
bitter he might have seen a reassuring smile in the
parted lips. So it came to pass that, after eating some
dry bread, which was the only food he found in the
larder, he lit a pipe, looked at the picture again, and
yielded to the impulse to examine it.
Strong as were his nerves, he had to force himself
to apply a knife to its brown-papered back. And
then, with a queer vindictive howl of triumph, he drew
forth a curiously insipid portrait of Van Hupfeldt,
inscribed "To Gwen," with a date, and, folded be-
hind it, a terrible little note, merely dated "Paris;
Tuesday," which read:
My Poor Girl — At last, then, you force the miserable truth
from me. Mrs. Strauss is my wife. She is twice my age. She
forced me to marry her ten years ago for her money. She is, indeed,
dying, and then I can fly to you. For the sake of our boy, forgive
"Ah!" There was something sadly animal in
David's triumph. He felt like a dog which has seized
the rat after which it has been straining, and, in a
minute or two, he had the grace to be ashamed of
himself. Then he thought of Violet, and he broke
down, crying like a child. Those tears were good for
him; they brought him back to sanity and garnished
the dark places of his heart.
The Late Tenant
But what to do? That was more than ever the
problem. He bolted and barred his door that night,
and the photograph and letter lay beside his revolver
under his pillow. Not forty Van Hupfeldts nor a
legion of ghosts should reave him of those telling
pieces of evidence !
Violet, waked from broken rest by the cooing of
doves, had rue in her soul. She met her mother at
breakfast, and the good woman, thinking her daughter
not altogether in her right senses, was disposed to be
somewhat snappish. So the girl was driven back on
her sad imaginings, nor were they dissipated by David's
two little notes. When she sent the messenger away
the second time she was in a strange state of calm.
Despair had numbed her: she thought persistently of
her sister, and wondered if the only true rest was to
be found in that dark nook of the grave.
She saw a carriage depart for the railway station to
bring Van Hupfeldt. In half an hour its wheels
grated on the gravel of the drive, and a servant came
to her room to summon her to the fateful conclave.
She was on her knees, in dry-eyed prayer, and the
frightened maid, who loved Miss Violet, had a little
catch in her voice as she said:
"You are wanted in the drawing-room, miss, and
please, miss, I do hope you won't take on so. Every-
body says you ought to be happy; but I " — snifT — "I
know yer ain't, miss."
The Late Tenant
Violet rose and kissed the girl. It was good to have
such honest sympathy.
In the big, cheerful salon beneath she found her
mother, stiff and self-conscious, wondering what people
would think if Violet persisted in her folly; Van Hup-
feldt, collected and deferential, wearing a buttonhole
of violets (of all flowers in creation!), and, seated
gingerly on the edge of a chair, a quietly dressed young
woman with "domestic servant" writ large upon her.
But Dibbin, for whom Violet's eyes searched dreamily,
was not there.
Van Hupfeldt, who seemed to have an uncanny trick
of reading her thoughts when they were hostile, ex-
plained instantly: "Not all my persuasions could
bring Mr. Dibbin from his office to-day. He had
some business engagement which was imperative, he
said. But I have done the next best thing. Here is
a letter from him. He will substantiate its statements
in person some later day."
He held out a letter. The girl took it mechanically.
The envelope bore her name, typed. She broke the
seal and began to read; but her mother, resolved to
have "no nonsense this time," interrupted, with an
So Violet read:
Dear Miss Mordaunt: — For some reason, not explained to
me, a gentleman named Van Hupfeldt has asked me to assure you
that he is not Johann Strauss, who rented the flat No. 7, Eddystone
Mansions, some two years since. Of course, I do that readily. I
much regret that I cannot travel to Rigsworth with Mr. Van Hup-
feldt to-day; but I do not suppose that the odd request he makes
is really so urgent as he would have me believe. Please convey my
respectful regards to Mrs. Mordaunt. y - . , » ,,
Excepting the signature, the letter was typewritten.
Violet knew the old agent's scrawling handwriting
very well. He had never sent her a typewritten letter
before. She laid the document on the table which had
borne the parchments of yesterday.
" Well ? Is that satisfactory ? " said Van Hupfeldt.
"Quite conclusive," murmured Mrs. Mordaunt.
" Who is this ? " asked Violet, turning toward the
nervous young person on the edge of a chair.
"That is Sarah Gissing, poor Gwen's maid."
It was not Sarah Gissing; but Jenny, loaned by
Miss Ermyn L'Estrange for the day at a stiff figure
paid to both — Jenny, schooled for her part and glib
enough at it, though her Cockney pertness was momen-
tarily awed by the old-world grandeur of Dale Manor
and its two "real" ladies.
So Van Hupfeldt was playing vdih loaded dice;
he had discarded the dangerous notion of trjing to
buy Dibbin for the simpler expedient of a forged
letter. The marriage ceremony was now the great
coup; let that be an irrevocable fact and he believed
he would be able to manage everything.
"Ah!" said Violet, with a pathos that might have
The Late Tenant
touched even a calloused heart, "you are Sarah Giss-
ing. You knew my dear sister? You saw her in her
last hours ? You heard her last words ? "
"Yes, miss," sniveled Jenny, "an* this gentleman
ain't Mr. Strauss, though he do resemble him a
Now, this assurance came too quick on the heels of
a natural question. It had not been asked for as yet.
Violet was ready to bare her heart to this common-
looking girl for sake of the knowledge that she was
Gwendoline's only confidante. But the exceeding
promptitude of Jenny's testimony forced back the
rush of sentiment. Violet even recoiled a little. Could
it be possible that her sweet and gracious sister, the
laughing sprite of bygone days, had been driven to
make something of a friend of this coarse, small-
faced, mean-eyed wench .'^ How pitiful, how sordid,
was each fresh chapter of Gwen's hidden life !
Van Hupfeldt saw that a check had occurred,
though his seething brain, intent only on securing an
unalterable verdict, was unable to appreciate the
delicate poise of Violet's emotions. "Question her,"
he said gently. "She will tell you all about her mis-
tress, to whom she was very greatly attached. Were
you not, Sarah?"
"Oh, yes, sir. She were such a lovely lady, and so
nice an' kind in her ways, that nobody could help
That was better. Violet thawed again. "I hardly
know what to ask you," she said wistfully. "Did she
ever speak of us, of my mother and me ? "
"She would talk about you for hours, miss. Many
a time I could hardly get on with my work, she was so
anxious to have some one to gossip with. Bless your
'eart, miss, I know your name as well as my own."
Strange, most unutterably strange, thought Violet;
but she said, with a sad smile: "You were much
favored, Sarah. I would have given all I have in the
world to have changed places with you. Tell me, was
this man — this Mr. Strauss — kind to her ? "
" He must have been, miss. He — "
" Must have been ? But you saw and heard ! "
Jenny kept her head, though she flushed a little.
"People often do put on a different way before ser-
vants, miss, to what they have in private. Not that
I have reason to think anyways bad of Mr. Strauss.
He was a very generous sort of gentleman, always free
with his money. What I meant was that Miss — er
— Miss Gwendoline used to speak of him as a lovin'
Jenny caught her breath a trifle. She did not dare
to look at Van Hupfeldt, as he had specially warned
her against doing so. Like most of her class, she was
prepared now to cover any mistake by excessive
" Did you address her as * Miss Gwendoline,' then ? "
"Yes, miss. That is the way on the stage, you
The Late Tenant
"But this was not on the stage."
"Quite right, miss, only ladies in the profession
mostly uses their stage names in private."
"My sister never appeared on any stage, to my
Jenny became a little defiant. "Of course, miss,"
she answered tartly, "I didn't know much about my
missus's comin's and goin's, but she used to go regular
to rehearsal. The call was for eleven and two most
Violet found herself in a new world. What could
have come to Gwendoline that she should have quitted
her home and gone away among these strange people ?
And what had she said that this servant-girl should
suddenly show the shrew in her?
She glanced toward her mother, who, indeed, was
as greatly perturbed as herself. The old lady could
scarce comprehend that the talk was of her darling
GwendoHne. Then Van Hupfeldt, thinking to lead
Violet's ideas into a fresh channel, broke in:
"I was sure that these things would distress you,"
he said in the low voice of sympathy. "Perhaps you
would prefer to send Sarah to the housekeeper's room
while you look at the documents I have brought."
Violet, in whose brain a hundred wild questions as
to her sister's life were jostling, suddenly faced Jenny
again. "What was my sister's baby called?" she
"Henry, miss, after its father."
"But why * Henry,' since the father's name was
Johann ? "
"That is a puzzle, miss. I'm only tellin' you what
" And what became of the child ? Why was it
spirited away from its mother.^ or was it not taken
away until after her death .^"
Jenny had been told to be close as an oyster on this
matter. " I don't know why the baby was sent out
to nurse, miss," she said. "I can only tell you it was
never in the flat."
Violet passed a hand across her eyes as though to
clear a bewildered brain. This domestic lived in a
small flat with her sister, who " gossiped " for " hours "
with her, yet the girl knew little about a child which
Gwen must have idolized.
" Then you never saw the baby ? " she asked.
"No, miss; that is, once, I think," for Jenny did
now venture to look at Van Hupfeldt, and his slight
nod came at the instant of her denial. He thought
the infant a safe topic, in regard to its appearance,
and the mother's love of it.
Mrs. Mordaunt, who had been listening intently
enough, caught Jenny's hesitation. " It is odd," she
said, "that you should have forgotten, or be uncer-
tain of, such a definite fact as seeing my daughter's
A maid entered with a telegram which she handed
to Violet. In a quiet country mansion the advent of a
The Late Tenant
telegram is a rare event. People in rural England
regard this curt manner of communication as reserved
only for important items. Mrs. Mordaunt was a
little alarmed. Her mind quickly reviewed all her
"What is it, Vi.^" she asked anxiously, while Van
Hupfeldt wondered if any unoccupied fiend had
tempted David Harcourt to interfere at this critical
Violet opened the buff envelope and read the mes-
sage slowly. It was a perfectly marvelous thing that
she retained her self-control, for the telegram was
from Dibbin at Dundee.
Have just concluded sale, after three days' private negotiation
here. Your moiety five hundred pounds. Letter follows.
It referred to a long-deferred bequest from a cousin,
and was a simple matter enough. But Dibbin realiz-
ing an estate in the north of Scotland and Dibbin
writing typewritten testimonials of Van Hupfeldt in
London on one and the same day was a Mahatma
performance, a case of psychic projection which did
not enter into the ordinary scheme of things.
Nevertheless, Violet, save for one flash of intensest
surprise in those deep eyes of hers, maintained her
self-control. She had been so tried already that her
mind could withstand any shock. "It is nothing,
mother — merely a reference to the Auchlachan affair,"
she said, crushing the telegram into a little ball in her
"Ah!" said Mrs. Mordaunt, greatly relieved. "I
dreamed of Aunt Jane last night."
"Well, now," said Van Hupfeldt, after a bound or
two of his heart, " what do you say ? Mr. Sharpe will
be here soon."
"You have the certificates and the diary?" said
"The certificates, yes; not the diary. On calm
thought, I have decided irrevocably that the diary
shall not be placed in your hands until the lapse of
our six months' agreement. I have yielded every
other point; there I am rigid."
" Do you assign any reason ? "
" Yes, my right as your affianced husband to preserve
you from the grief and morbidness of reading a record
of suffering. I would not have you a weeping bride.
When we return from our wedding-tour I shall hand
you the diary, no sooner."
"The certificates, then," said Violet, composedly.
Van Hupfeldt took two papers from a pocket-book.
One recorded the marriage of Henry Van Hupfeldt
to Gwendoline Mordaunt at the office of the Brighton
registrar. The other was the certificate of the birth
of the child in the same town a year later.
It was a fine piece of daring for the man to produce
these documents. His own name; his age, thirty eight;
his occupation, gentleman, were set forth on the long
narrow strip, and the address was given as No. 7,
Eddystone Mansions, London, W. Even Mrs. Mor-
The Late Tenant
daunt was startled when she glanced over her daughter's
shoulder at the papers.
Suddenly Violet thought she saw a ray of light.
" Was this man a brother, some near relative, of yours ? "
"No, no relation." Van Hupfeldt was taken aback,
and the negative flew out before he realized that this
might have been a good card to play. But no; Violet
would never have married him then.
"What a mystery! To think that he should adopt
your name, be of your apparent age, and yet that you
should come here to Rigsworth and make our acquaint-
ance ! "
"No mystery at all. You drag everything from me
like a skilled lawyer. Strauss did more than borrow
my name; he forged it. There was a police inquiry.
I was called into it. My curiosity was aroused. I
learned something of your sister's story, and I took
steps to meet you."
"Introduced by Lord Vanstone!" murmured Mrs.
"Yes, some one. I quickly forgot all else when I
was granted the privilege of your friendship."
And he took Violet's hand and kissed it, with a
delicate grace that was courtly in him.
Sharpe was announced. Mrs. Mordaunt sent Jenny
away in a maid's escort, and Violet knew that her
hour of final yielding was near.
She still held the certificates. "Am I to keep
these?" she asked, while her mouth quivered shghtly.
She was thinking, thinking, all the time, of David and
Dibbin and of the queer collapse of Gwendoline which
made that little Cockney woman her companion.
But what plea could she urge now? She could only
ask for a few days' respite, just to clear away some
lingering doubts, and then — But, for mother's sake,
no protests now, nor tears, nor questions.
Sharpe's ferret eyes took in the altered situation.
Yesterday's clouds had passed. A glance from Van
Hupfeldt brought him to business. There was a
marriage settlement of five thousand pounds per
annuiUy to be increased to twice the amount in the
event of widowhood — and Sharpe explained the
legal proviso that Violet was to be free to marry again,
if so minded, without forfeiting any portion of this
magnificent yearly revenue.
"Most generous!" Mrs. Mordaunt could not help
saying, and even the girl herself, miserable and droop-
ing as a caged thrush, knew that Van Hupfeldt was
showing himself a princely suitor.
"And now follows a somewhat unusual document,"
said Sharpe in his brisk legal way. "Mr. Van Hup-
feldt has instructed me to prepare a will, leaving all his
real and personal estate to Miss Violet Mordaunt, he
being confident that she will faithfully carry out cer-
tain instructions of his o^\ti. Of course, this instru-
ment will have a very brief life. Marriage, I may
explain, Miss Mordaunt, invalidates all wills previ-
The Late Tenant
ously executed by either of the parties. Hence, it is
intended only to cover the interregnum, so to speak,
between to-day's bachelordom and the marriage cere-
mony of — er —
" Of this day week ? " asked Van Hupfeldt, eagerly.
"Be it so," said Violet, for she had a plan in her
mind now, and whatever happened, a week's grace
"Mrs. Mordaunt and I are appointed trustees fro
tern for the purposes of the marriage settlement," went
on Sharpe. "Mr. Van Hupfeldt will, of course,
execute a fresh will after marriage. All we need now
are two witnesses for various signatures. My clerk,
who is waiting in the hall, will serve as one."
"The girl, Sarah Gissing, who was here just now,
might be called in," said Mrs. Mordaunt.
" No, no ! " cried Van Hupfeldt. " She is a stranger.
After to-day she vanishes from our lives. Please
summon one of your own servants — the housekeeper,
or a footman."
So Violet and Van Hupfeldt and Mrs. Mordaunt
and the witnesses signed their names on various
parchments at places where the lawyer had marked
little crosses in pencil.
Violet, as in a dream, saw the name "Henry Van
Hupfeldt" above that of "Violet Mordaunt," just as
it appeared over " Gwendoline Mordaunt " in the
marriage certificate. In her eyes, the tiny crosses
made the great squares of vellum look like the chart
of a cemetery. Yet there was soniething singing
sweetly in her ears : *' You still have a week of liberty.
Use your time well. Not all the law in the land can
force you to the altar unless you wish it." And this
lullaby was soothing.
Soon the solicitor took off himself and his duplicates,
for he handed certain originals to Violet, advising her
to intrust them to the care of a bank or her mother's
legal advisers. Van Hupfeldt, with a creditable tact,
set himself to entertain the two ladies, and when
Violet wished to interview "Sarah Gissing" again, he
explained that the girl had been sent back to London
by his orders.
"No more tears," he said earnestly; "no more
doubtings and wonderings. When we return from a
tour in the States you shall meet her again and satisfy
all your cravings."
Evidently his design was to remain at Dale Manor
until they were quietly married, and, meanwhile,
surround the place with every possible protection. It
came, therefore, as a dreadful shock to him when
Violet disappeared for a whole hour after breakfast
next morning, and then Mrs. Mordaunt, red-eyed and
incoherent, rushed to find him with a note which had
just reached her from the station.
Dear Mother — I suppose I have freedom of action for two
days out of my seven. I wish to make certain inquiries; so I am
going away until to-morrow night, or, possibly, the next morning.
The Late Tenant
I think Mr. Van Hupfeldt will say this is fair, and, in justice to him,
I wish to state that I shall not see Mr. David Harcourt by design.
Should I see him by chance I shall refuse to speak to him.
Your loving daughter,
"It is ended! I have done with her! She has
played me false!" screamed the man when he under-
stood that Violet had really quitted Rigsworth. His
paroxysm of rage was so fierce that Mrs. Mordaunt
was terrified that he would die on the spot; but his
passion ended in an equally vehement declaration of
sorrow and affection. He would follow her and bring
her back. Mrs. Mordaunt must come with him in-
stantly. The girl must be saved from herself. Surely
they would find her, even in London, whither he was
certain she had gone, for she would only go to her
He infected the grief-stricken mother with some of
his own frenzy. She promised to be at the station in
time for the next train; he tore off to the telegraph
office, where he wrote messages in a white fever of
action. First, he bade his factotum Neil meet the
train from Rigsworth in which Violet traveled, and
ascertain her movements, if possible.
The second was to Dibbin:
A client has recommended you to me. Leave by earliest train
for Portsmouth and call at offices of (a named firm of solicitors)
for instructions. I forward herewith fifty pounds for preliminary
expenses. „ _, „
Henry Van Hupfeldt.
The fifty pounds which he thus telegraphed to Dibbin
were notes which he had brought for the gamekeeper;
so this payment was deferred, at the least.
Then he sent word to the Portsmouth firm that Dib-
bin was to be dispatched on a secret estate-hunting
quest in Devonshire, at any terms he chose to demand.
His next telegram was to Mrs. Carter at Pangley:
Take baby at once by train to Station Hotel, New-street, Bir-
mingham. Leave word with neighbors and at station to say
where you have gone. I will write you at Birmingham and send
Finally to David he wired:
I now know everything. Mrs. Carter is about to take my sister's
child away from Pangley. Please go there at once, find out where
she has gone, and follow her. Wire me to-morrow, or next day,
what you have discovered. Forgive yesterday's silence; it was
That was all he could devise in the present chaos of
his mind. But it would serve, he thought, to give a
few hours' breathing-space. He was hard pressed,
but far from beaten yet. And now that Violet and her
mother were away from Dale Manor, he would take
care that they did not return to the house until Violet
was his wife. Perhaps even in this desperate hour
things had happened for the best.
DAVID HAS ONE VISITOR, AND EXPECTS OTHERS
David had to rise pretty early to admit his char-
woman. Behind her, in the outer lobby, he saw the
scared face of the hall-porter, who remembered that a
certain loud knocking and difficulty of gaining access
to that flat on one other occasion had been the prelude
to a tragic discovery, though he, not being in the
building at the time, had heard of the affair only from
David smiled reassurance at him, and went back
to his bed-room to dress. He placed the portrait and
the letter in an inner pocket of his waistcoat provided
for paper money, and, the hour being in advance of
breakfast-time, went out for a stroll.
Regent's Park was delightful that morning. Not
spring, but summer, was in the air. Nature, to com-
pel man to admire her dainty contrivances, v/as shut-
ting in the vistas. Already trees and hedge-rows flung
their leafy screens across the landscape. So David
wandered on, promising himself many such mornings
with Violet; for it passed his wit to see how Van Hup-
feldt could wriggle out of the testimony of his own pic-
ture and his own handwriting.
David has One Visitor and Expects Others
Hence, instead of being earlier he was somewhat
later than usual in sitting down to breakfast, and he
was a surprised young man when, his charwoman hav-
ing gone to answer a ring at the door, the announce-
ment came of:
"A lady to see you, sir."
• "A lady!" he gasped. "Who is she?" and he
hoped wildly that it might be Violet.
"You know her well enough, old boy," came the
high-pitched voice of Miss Ermyn L'Estrange, who
now appeared in the dining-room, a pink-faced vision
in a flower-garden hat and muslins. "Poof!" she
cried. "I have not been out for many a day before
the streets were aired. Say, young party, that bacon
and egg has a more gratifying scent than violets. I
have come all the way from Chelsea on one cup of tea."
The charwoman, eying the visitor askance, admitted
that more supplies could be arranged.
"Hurry up, then, fairy," said Miss L'Estrange.
"And don't look so shocked. Your master here is
the very goodest young man in London."
David said that even the just man fell seven times
a day; but, anyhow, he was delighted to see her.
"You look it," was the dry response. "I never
knew anybody who threw their heart into their eyes as
you do. You will never get on in London if you don't
learn to lie better. When you say that sort of thing
you should gush a little and leer — at any rate, when
you are talking to a woman."
The Late Tenant
"But I mean it," he vowed. "You can't tell how
nice it is to have some frills on the other side of the
table. That hat, now, is a picture."
"The hair is a bad color to suit, you know."
"Ah, no, it has the gold of the sun in it. Perhaps
I may be phrasing the words awkwardly, but you
look ten years younger this morning. Miss L'Estrange."
She turned her eyes to the ceihng. "Ye gods!"
she cried, " if only I had those ten back again ! " Then
she gave David a coy glance. " I don't mind betting
you half a quid," she said, "that you are only pleased
to see me here because I bring to your mind the pos-
sibility of another girl being your vis-a-vis at break-
"Now you would make me dumb when I am most
anxious to talk."
"Oh, you candid wretch! Why did I come here?
Don't you believe that there are twenty men in London
who would give quite a lot if I honored them by this
morning call ? "
"I do believe it," said David, gravely, "and that is
just why you are here, and not with one of the twenty.
You are a far more upright little lady than you profess
to be. Miss L'Estrange."
She actually blushed, for, like most women who are
compelled to make up professionally, never an atom
of grease or rouge was on her face at other times.
"David," she said, "you are a nice boy. I wish you
were my brother."
David has One Visitor and Expects Others
"You would be fine and dandy as a sister."
" Well, let's be friends. And the first sign of friend-
ship is a common alliance. I've taken your side
"What of him?" demanded David, warily; for Miss
Ermyn was a slippery customer, he fancied.
"Now, no fencing, or the alliance is off. You were
down at Rigsworth yesterday, remember, and you
came back in a mighty temper. Not even your pretty
Violet was all perfection last evening, was she ? "
*' Things did go wrong, I admit," said he, marveling
at this attack.
" Well, I am not here to pump you, or else I would
surprise you a bit more. No, David, I'm here just
because I'm a woman, and as full of mischief as an
egg is full of meat; so that I can't help interfering in a
love affair, though it isn't my own. Did you know
that Strauss brought Jenny to Rigsworth yesterday?"
" Jenny ? Why Jenny ? "
" That is what I wanted to know. And she wouldn't
tell me, the cat, until I got my Irish up and offered to
drag her over the furniture by the hair of her head.
And it was no use her lying to me, either. Every time
she tried to think of a plausible tale I told her it would
hurt to cross the chiffonier head first. At last she
owned up, and then I opened a small bottle — she
wanted it, I assure you — and I got the whole story
while we finished it."
" But, for goodness' sake — "
The Late Tenant
''Whoa, my boy! Don't rush your fences. I'll tell
you everything, so keep calm. First, the night before
last, Strauss comes to me — "
" One moment," broke in David. " Is this Strauss ? "
and he handed her the portrait.
She looked at it and laughed. "Why, of course it
is!" she said. "Fancy you keeping his picture over
your heart ! Now, if it had been Violet, or me — "
" Sorry to have interrupted you," he said.
"Funny idea! Anyhow, Strauss turned up the
night before last and wanted to borrow Jenny for the
whole of next day. It was beastly awkward, as she
was helping me to re-hem this dress and put new
sleeves in the bodice; but he badgered me so that I
could hardly refuse," and she thought for an instant
of certain notes crumpled up in the gold purse which
was slung from her neck; "so I packed Jenny off
about eight o'clock next morning — yesterday, that is.
I was in a temper all day, and tore two flounces out
of my frock, and scraped my shin on the step of a
hansom; so when the minx came smirking home about
midnight, to find me making my own fire, I let her
have it, I can tell you. But it fairly gave me the
needle when she wouldn't say what Strauss wanted
her for, and then the row sprang up. Guess you want
to smoke, eh .? I would like a cigarette myself."
David was most docile outwardly when all of a boil
within. He awaited her pleasure, saw her seated in a
comfortable chair, joined in her own admiration of a
David has One Visitor and Expects Others
pair of really pretty feet, and lit a pipe. Then she
" There was poisonous trouble for about five minutes.
I might have let her off if she hadn't said things. Then
I frightened her. I believe I did yank her hat off. At
last, she confessed that Strauss told her that his name
now was Van Hupfeldt, and he wanted her to go down
to Rigsworth to be introduced to two ladies as Sarah
Gissing, Gwen Barnes's maid."
"What.'^" yelled David, springing to his feet.
" Oh, chuck it ! " said Miss L'Estrange in a voice of
deep disgust. "You nearly made me swallow my
"But the man is a devil."
"Sit down, boy, sit down. You men are all six of
one and half a dozen of the other where a woman is
concerned. Poor things! I wonder how any of us
escape you at all. Still, Strauss is pretty artful, I
admit. You see, Jenny, having been in service here,
could lie so smoothly about Gwen Barnes that it would
be hard to find her out."
"Did she do this?" asked David in a fierce excite-
Miss L'Estrange laughed again as she selected a
fresh cigarette to replace the spoiled one.
" Did the cat steal cream ? Fancy Jenny being
offered twenty pounds for a day's prevarication and
refusing it! Why, that girl lies for practise."
" Oh, please go on ! " he groaned.
The Late Tenant
"Queer game, isn't it? I often think the ha'penny
papers don't get hold of half the good things that are
going. Well, Jenny, according to her own version,
spoofed Mrs. Mordaunt and your Violet in great
shape. What is more, Strauss and a lawyer man
wheedled them into signing all sorts of papers, includ-
ing a marriage settlement. Will you believe it.^ The
Dutchman had the cheek to give your Violet the cer-
tificates which Jenny sold to him."
David said something under his breath.
"Yes," said Miss L'Estrange, "he deserves it. I
can't abide a man who goes in for deceiving a poor
girl. So, at my own loss, mind you, I determined to
come here this morning and give you a friendly tip."
"Heaven knows I shall endeavor to repay you!"
sighed David, in a perfect heat now to be out and
doing, doing he knew not what.
" Is she very beautiful, your Violet ? " asked his
visitor, turning on him with one of her bird-like move-
ments of the head.
"That is her sister," said David, flinging a hand
toward the portrait.
" Ah, I knew Gwen Barnes. Saw her in the theater,
you know. A nice girl, but notliing to rave about.
Rather of the clinging sort. You men prefer that type
I do believe. And now that you have heard my yarn,
you want me to go, eh ? "
"No, no. No hurry at all."
"You dear David! Mouth all 'No,' eyes all 'Yes.'
David has One Visitor and Expects Others
That's it. Treat me like an old shoe. Bless you!
we women worship that sort of thing, until, all at once,
we blaze up. Well, you will give Strauss a drubbing
one of these days, and I shan't be sorry. I hate pretty
men. They are all affectation, and waxy like a bar-
ber's doll. Well, ta-ta! You're going to have a nice,
pleasant day, I can see. But, fair play, mind. No
telling tales about your little Ermyn. I have done
more for you to-day than I would do for any other
man in creation. And some day you must bring
your Violet to tea; I promise to be good and talk nice.
There, now ; ain't I a wonder ? "
And she was gone, in a whirl of flounces and high
heels, the last he heard of her when she declined to let
him come to the door " with that glare " in his eye being
her friendly hail to the lift-man : " Hello, Jimmie ! Like
old times to see you again. How's the wife and the
kiddies ? "
Left to his own devices, David was at his wits' end
to know how to act for the best. At last he wrote a
telegram to Violet:
The girl you met yesterday as Sarah Gissing was not your sister's
maid, but another woman masquerading in her stead. I implore
you and your mother to come to London and meet me in Mr. Dib-
bin's oflSce. He knows the real Sarah Gissing, and will produce
This was definite enough, and he thought the in-
troduction of Dibbin's name would be helpful with
Mrs. Mordaunt. Then he rushed off to see Dibbin
The Late Tenant
himself, but learned from a clerk that the agent would
not arrive from Scotland until six- thirty p.m., "which
is a pity," said the clerk, ruefully, "because a first-rate
commission has just come in for him by wire."
"Some one in a hurry?" said Harcourt, speaking
rather to cloak his own disappointment than out of
any commiseration for Dibbin's loss.
" I should think so, indeed. Fifty golden sovereigns
sent by telegraph, just to get him quick to Portsmouth."
David heard, and wondered. He made a chance
shot. "I expect that is my friend. Van Hupfeldt,"
"The very man!" gasped the clerk.
" Oh, there is no harm done. Mr. Dibbin comes to
King's Cross, I suppose.'^"
"Yes. I shall be there to meet him."
Certainly things were lively at Rigsworth. David
had a serious notion of going there by the next train.
But he returned to Eddystone Mansions, in case there
might be an answer from Violet. Sure enough, there
he found the telegram sent in her name by Van Hup-
feldt. The time showed that it was despatched about
the same hour as his own. At first, his heart danced
with the joy of knowing that she still trusted him.
And how truly wonderful that she mentioned Pangley,
a town he had not named to her; there must, indeed,
have been a tremendous eruption at Dale Manor.
Yet it was too bad that he should be forced to leave
London and go in chase of Mrs. Carter and the baby.
David has One Visitor and Expects Others
Why, he would be utterly cut off from active com-
munication with her for hours, and it was so vitally
important that they should meet. Of course, he would
obey, but first he would await the chance of a reply
to his message. So he telegraphed again:
Will go to Pangley. Tell me when I can see you.
He was his own telegraph messenger. While he
was out another buff envelope found its way to his
table. Here was the confusion of a fog, for this screed
Miss Violet Mordaunt traveled to London this morning by the
nine-eleven train. This is right. t-.
There was no name; but the post-office said the in-
formation came from Rigsworth, and the post-office
indulges in cold official accuracy. Somehow, this
word from a friend did strike him as friendly. It
made him read again, and ponder weightily, the longer
statement signed "Violet."
He could not tell, oh, sympathetic little sister of the
Rigsworth postmistress, that you wheedled the grocer's
assistant into writing that most important telegram.
It was a piece of utmost daring on the part of a village
maid, and perhaps it might be twisted into an infringe-
ment of the "Official Secrets Act," or some such
terrifying ordinance; but your tender little heart had
gone out to the young man who got " no answer " from
the lady of the manor, and you knew quite well that
The Late Tenant
Violet had never sent him to Pangley to hunt for a
Anyhow, David was glowering at both flimsy slips
of paper, when a letter reached him. It was marked
*' Express Delivery," and had been handed in at Euston
Station soon after twelve o'clock.
This time there could be no doubt whatever that
Violet was the writer. Here was the identical hand-
writing of the first genuine note he had received from
her. And there was Violet herself in the phrasing of
it, though she was brief and reserved. She wrote:
Dear David — I am in London for the purpose of making
certain inquiries. I must not see you if I can help it. I must be
quite, quite alone and unaided. Please pardon my seeming want
of confidence. In this matter I am trusting to God's help and my
own endeavors. But I want you to oblige me by being away from
your flat to-night between midnight and two a.m. That is all.
Perhaps I may be able to explain everything later.
Your sincere well-wisher,
Then David ran like a beagle to Euston Station;
but Violet had been gone from there nearly an hour,
because he found on inquiry that the nine-eleven train
from Rio:sworth had arrived at noon. Yet he could
not be content unless he careered about London look-
ing for her, first at Porchester Gardens, then at Dib-
bin's office, at which he arrived exactly five minutes
before she did, and he must have driven along Picca-
dilly while she was turning the corner from Regent's.
David has One Visitor and Expects Others
London is the biggest bundle of hay when you want to
Amidst the maelstrom of his doubts and fears one
fact stood out so clearly that he could not fail to recog-
nize it. Not Violet alone, but some other hidden
personality, most earnestly desired his absence from
the flat that night. In a word. Van Hupfeldt, who
knew of the photograph and the letter being hidden
there, had the strongest possible reason for seeking an
opportunity to make an absolutely unhindered search
of every remaining nook and crevice. But how was
Violet's anxiety on this head to be explained.? Was
she, too, wishful to carry out a scrutiny of pictures,
cupboards, and ornaments on her own account ?
Then, with a sort of intuition, David felt that it was
she who had already visited her sister's latest abode
at such uncanny hours of gloom and mystery that her
presence had given rise to the ghost legend. And with
the consciousness that this was so came a hot flush of
shame and remorse that he had so vilified Violet in
his thoughts on the night of his long run from Chal-
font. It was she whom he had seen standing at the
end of the corridor on the first night of his ever-memor-
able tenancy of this sorrow-laden abode, and, no
doubt, her earlier efforts at elucidating the dim tragedy
which cloaked her sister's death had led to the eery
experiences of Miss L' Estrange and Jenny.
Well, thank goodness! he held nearly all the threads
of this dark business in his hands now, and it would go
The Late Tenant
hard with Van Hupfeldt if he crossed his path that
nisrht. For David resolved, with a smile which had
in it a mixture of grimness and tenderness, that he
would obey the letter of Violet's request while decidedly
disobeying its spirit. She wished him to be "away
from the flat between midnight and two a.m." Cer-
tainly he would be away ; but not far away — near
enough, indeed, to know who went into it and who
came out, and some part of their business there if he
saw fit. Violet, of course, might come and go as she
pleased; not so Van Hupfeldt or any of his myrmi-
Thereupon, determined to oppose guile to guile, he
dismissed his charwoman long before the usual time,
and called the friendly hall-porter into consultation.
*' Jim," he said, when the lift shot up to his floor in
response to a summons, *' I guess you want a drink."
Jim knew Harcourt's little ways by this time. *' Well
sir," he said, stepping forth, and unshipping the motor
key, "I'm bound to admit that a slight lubrikytion
wouldn't be amiss."
"In fact, it might be a hit, a palpable hit. Well,
step lively. Here's the whisky. Now, Jim, listen
while I talk. I understand there is to be a meeting
of ghosts here to-night — no, not a word yet; drink
steadily, Jim — and it is up to you and me to attend
the convocation. There is nothing to worry about.
These spirits are likely to be less harmful than those
you are imbibing ; indeed, we may be called on to grab
David has One Visitor and Expects Others
one or two of them, but they will turn out to be ordi-
nary men. You're not afraid of a man, Jim ? "
"Not if 'e is a man, sir. But will there be any
shootin' ? "
"Ah, you heard of that?"
"People will talk of bullet-marks, sir, to say noth-
ing of drops o' blood."
"Drops of blood? Where?"
" All round our front door. They wasn't there over-
night, an' next day there was a revolver bullet stuck
in your kitchen skirting-board."
" Excellent ! Clear proof that our sort of ghosts will
bleed if you punch them hard enough on the nose.
Now, I want your help in three ways. In the first
place, I am going out about seven and will return
about nine. I want you to make sure that no one
enters my flat within those hours. Secondly, when I
come back, I wish to reach this floor without coming
in by the front door. You understand ? If any one
should be watching my movements, I would like to be
seen leaving the mansions but not returning. Thirdly,
I want you to join me on guard when you close the
front door at midnight, hiding the pair of us some-
where above, so that we can see, without fear of mis-
take, any persons who may possess keys which fit
my front door."
" Oh, that's it, is it ? " said the porter, setting down
his glass. "Well, I'm your man, sir. Leave every-
thing to me. When you comes home at nine just pop
The Late Tenant
along the other street until you sees a door leadin' to a
harea. Drop down there, an' you'll find yourself in
our basement. At twelve sharp I'll come up in the lift
and fix you up proper."
" Jim, you're a treasure ! " said David.
THE MIDNIGHT GATHERING
When the train from Rigsworth brought Violet into
Euston Station, she hurried through the barrier and
asked an official to direct her to the nearest post-
office. At this instant a slight accident happened
which had a singular bearing on the events of the day.
Neil, the valet, who had driven to Euston just in time
to meet the incoming train, had seen her, and was
pressing in close pursuit when he tripped over a lug-
gage barrow and fell headlong.
He was not much injured, but shaken more than a
little, and when he was able to take up the chase again,
Violet had vanished. Hence she was freed from
espionage, and Van Hupfeldt could only curse his
useless emissary. The man Neil certainly did rush
about like a whirlwind as soon as he recovered his
breath; but Violet was in the post-office writing to
David, and securely hidden from his ferret eyes.
Oddly enough, the first person she wished to see
was Miss Ermyn L'Estrange. She remembered the
actress well, as she had visited her once (Jenny, the
maid, was out on an errand at the time), and it was one
of the many curious discrepancies in the tissue of
The Late Tenant
mingled fact and fiction which obscured her sister's
fate that such a volatile and talkative woman should
have written the curt little note sent at Hupfeldt's
bidding. Violet could not understand the reason,
but she saw a loophole here. The long journey in
the train had enabled her to review the information
she possessed with a certain clarity and precision
hitherto absent from her bewildered thoughts. In
a word, there were several marked lines of inquiry,
and she was resolved to follow each separately.
She felt that she had gone the wrong way to work in
the first frenzy of her grief. She was calm now, more
skilled in hiding her suspicion, less prone to jump at
conclusions. All unknown to her, the little germ of
passion planted in her heart by David's few words in
the summer-house was governing her whole being.
From the timid, irresolute girl, who clung to unattain-
able ideals, she was transformed into a woman, ready
to dare anything for the sake of the man she loved,
while the mere notion of marriage with Van Hupfeldt
was so loathsome that she was spurred into the physi-
cal need of strenuous action to counteract it.
So it was in a restrained yet business-like mood that
she climbed the stairs leading to Miss L'Estrange's
flat and rang the electric bell. The door was opened
Not all the resources of pert Cockneyism availed
that hapless domestic when she set eyes on Miss Mor-
daunt. She uttered a helpless little wail of dismay,
The Midnight Gathering
and retreated a few steps, as though she half expected
the wonder-stricken young woman to use strong
measures with her.
"Well, what is it now?" came her mistress's sharp
demand, for in that small abode there reigned what
the Italians call "a delightful confidence," Jenny's
scream and rush being audible in the drawing-room.
"Ow!" stammered Jenny, "it's a young lady, miss."
" A young lady ? Is she nameless } "
"No," said Violet, advancing toward the voice; "but
your maid seems to be alarmed by the sight of me.
You know me. Miss L'Estrange. I only wish I had
discovered sooner that you employed my sister's ser-
vant, Sarah Gissing."
Ermyn was accustomed to stage situations. She
instantly grasped her part; for she was fresh from the
interview with David, and there could be no doubt
that the unmasking of Van Hupfeldt was as settled
now as the third act of the farcical comedy in which
she would play the soubrette that night.
" Sarah Gissing ! " she said with a fine scorn. " That
is not her name. She is Jenny — Jenny — blest if I
have ever called her anything else. Here, you! what
is your other name ? "
" Blaekey, miss," sobbed Jenny, in tears.
"But you said only yesterday that you were Sarah
Gissing ? " cried Violet.
"Y-yus, miss, an' it wasn't true."
"So you have never seen my sister?"
The Late Tenant
" Why did you lie to me so shamelessly ? "
"Please, miss, I was pide for it."
" Paid ! By Mr. Van Hupf eldt ? "
" There is some mistake," broke in Miss L'Estrange,
who was a trifle awed by Violet's quiet dignity. "It
was a Mr. Strauss who came here and asked permission
for Jenny to have the day free yesterday in order to
give some evidence he required."
" Are you quite sure it was Mr. Strauss ? " asked
Violet, turning away from Jenny as though the sight
of her was offensive.
" Positive ! I rented, or rather I took your sister's flat
from him, and he has been plaguing my life out ever
since about some papers he imagined I found there."
"But you wrote to me a little while ago," pleaded
"Strauss is a plausible person," countered the other
woman readily. " He came here and spun such a yarn
that I practically wrote at his dictation."
" There is no mistake this time, I hope."
Miss L'Estrange's color rose, and her red hair
troubled her somewhat; but she answered with an
effort : " There has never been any mistake on my part.
Had you come to me in the first instance, and taken me
into your confidence, I would have helped you. But
you stormed at me quite unjustly. Miss Mordaunt,
and it is not in human nature to take that sort of thing
lying down, you know."
The Midnight Gathering
Then, seeing the sorrow in Violet's eyes, she went
on with a real sympathy: "I wish we had been more
candid with each other at first. And I had nothing
whatever to do with Jenny's make-believe of yesterday.
The girl is a first-rate cook, but she can tell lies faster
than a dog can trot."
This poetic simile popped out unawares; but Violet
heard the kindly tone rather than the words.
"I may want you again," she said simply. "May
I rely on you if the need arises .'' "
" Indeed you may ! " was the impulsive reply. " I
have wept over your sister's unhappy fate. Miss Mor-
daunt, and I always thought Strauss was a \dllain. I
hope that nice young fellow, David Harcourt, who
has been on his track for months, will catch him one
of these days, and give him a hiding, at the very least."
"Oh, you know Mr. Harcourt.^"
And then Ermyn L'Estrange did a thing which en-
nobled her in her owti eyes for many a day. "Yes,"
she said. " He found out that I occupied your sister's
flat after her death; so he came to see me, and, if I
may venture to say so, he betrayed an interest in you.
Miss Mordaunt, which, had such a man sho^sTi it
towards me, would have been deemed a very pleasing
and charming testimony of his regard."
It was only a line out of an old play; but it served,
and they kissed each other when they said " Good-by."
Although Violet was startled at alighting on such
ready confirmation of Van Hupfeldt's duplicity, there
The Late Tenant
was a remarkable brightness in her eye, a spring-time
elasticity in her step, when she emerged into the High-
St. of Chelsea, which had not been visible a little while
earlier. In truth, she felt as a thrush may be sup-
posed to feel after having successfully dodged the
attack of a hawk. Were it not that she was treading
the crowded streets of London she would have sung
for sheer joy.
And now, feeling hungry after her long journey, she
entered a restaurant and ate a good meal, which was
a sensible thing to do in itself, but which, in its way,
was another tiny factor in the undoing of Van Hup-
feldt, as, thereby, she missed meeting David at Dib-
When she did ultimately reach that unconscious
rendezvous, she found there the clerk who had given
David such interesting information. This man knew
Miss Mordaunt, and had some recollection of the dead
Gwendoline; so he was civil, and assured Violet that
his master would return from Scotland that evening.
"Mr. Dibbin has been at Dundee for some days?"
"Let me see, miss; he went away on the fourth,
and this is the ninth; practically six days, counting the
" Then he certainly could not have written to me on
the seventh from London ? "
The clerk was puzzled. " If you mean that he wasn't
in London, then — " he began.
The Midnight Gathering
Violet did not show the man the letter which she
had in her pocket. Perhaps it was best that Dibbin
himself should read it first. But she did say: "He
could not have had an interview with a Mr. Van Hup-
feldt, for instance.^"
"Now, that is very odd, miss," said the clerk.
"That is the very name of the gentleman who wired
instructions to-day for Mr. Dibbin to go at once to
Portsmouth. And, by Jove! begging your pardon, but
the telegram came from your place, Rigs worth, in
Warwickshire. I never thought of that before."
"It doesn't matter," said Violet, sweetly; "I shall
endeavor to meet Mr. Dibbin at King's Cross. And
will you please not mention to any one that I have
The knowledge that Van Hupfeldt was striving to
decoy Dibbin away from London revealed that the
pursuit had begun. For an instant she was tempted
to appeal to David for help. But she had given her
word not to see him, and that was sacred, even in
relation to one whom she considered to be the worst
The clerk promised readily enough to observe due
discretion anent her visit. He would have promised
nearly anything that such a nice-looking girl sought
of him. Suddenly Violet recollected that the house-
agent might know the whereabouts of the real Sarah
Gissing. She asked the question, and, Dibbin being
a man of dockets and pigeon holes, the clerk found the
The Late Tenant
address for her in half a minute, told her where Chal-
font was, looked up the next train from Baker-St, and
sent her on her way rejoicing.
Violet, like the majority of her charming sex, paid
small heed to time, and, indeed, time frequently re-
turns the compliment to pretty women. It was five
hours ere Dibbin was due at King's Cross, and five
hours were sufficient for almost any undertaking. So
she journeyed to Chalfont, found the genuine Sarah,
and was alarmed and reassured at the same time by
the girl nearly fainting away when she set eyes on her.
Here, then, at last, was real news of her Gwen. She
could have listened for hours. The landlady of the
little hotel charitably let the two talk their fill, and
sent tea to them in the small parlor where David had
met Sarah. Like David, too, whom Sarah did not
forget to describe as " that nice young gentleman, Mr.
Harcourt," Violet outstayed the train time, and,
when she did make an inquiry on this head, it was im-
possible to reach King's Cross at six-thirty p.m.
Amid all the tears and poignancy of grief aroused
by the recital of her sister's lonely life and tragic end,
there was one strange, unaccountable feature which
stood out boldly. Neither by direct word nor veiled
inference did Sarah Gissing attribute deliberate neglect
or unkindness to Strauss. If anything, her simple
story told of a great love between those two, and there
was the evidence of it in Gwendoline's latest distracted
words about him. Of course, had Violet read the
The Midnight Gathering
diary, this would have been clear enough; but, in view
of the man's present attitude, this testimony of the
servant's was hard to understand.
At any rate, Violet, sure now beyond the reach of
doubt that Van Hupfeldt was Strauss, and that he
was engaged in an incomprehensible conspiracy, never-
theless felt a sensible softening toward him. Perhaps
her escape from the threatened marriage had some-
thing to do with this; and then, the man seemed to
have almost worshiped Gwen.
Assuredly the gods, meaning to destroy Van Hup-
feldt, first decided to make him mad. When he
reached Dibbin's office, the clerk recognized him as
Strauss, and was rendered suspicious by his reappear-
ance, after this long time, within an hour of Violet's
call, seeing that the first person he inquired about was
Violet herself. Hence, being of the same mind as
Miss Ermyn L' Estrange as to the secret of success in
London life, he failed to recognize any young lady
named Mordaunt as among the list of Dibbin's visitors
that day. Further, when Van Hupfeldt, goaded to
extremities, was fain to confess that it was he who had
telegraphed from Rigsworth, the clerk became obtuse
on the matter of his employer's whereabouts. All he
could say definitely was that Dibbin would be in his
office next morning at ten o'clock.
The outcome of these cross purposes, seeing that
David was in no hurry to meet the agent, was that
Dibbin met only the clerk at King's Cross, and had a
The Late Tenant
mysterious story poured into his ear, together with a
bag of gold placed in his hands, as he tackled a chop
prior to catching a train for the home of the Dibbins at
Van Hupfeldt took Mrs. Mordaunt to her old resi-
dence at Porchester Gardens, enjoining her not to say
a word to Mrs. Harrod about Violet's escapade.
That was asking too much of a mother who had en-
dured such heart-searchings during a day of misery.
Not even the glamour of a wealthy marriage could
blind Mrs. Mordaunt to certain traits in his character
which the stress of fear had brought to the surface.
She began to ask herself if, after all, Violet were not
right in her dread of the man. She was afraid of she
knew not what; so kind-hearted Mrs. Harrod's first
natural question as to Violet's well-being drew a flood
of tears and a resultant outpouring of the whole tragedy.
But, lo and behold! Mrs. Harrod had dreamed of
clear water and a trotting horse the previous night,
and this combination was irresistible in its excellence
on behalf of her friends. Mrs. Harrod's prophetic
dreams were always vicarious; her own fortunes were
fixed — so much jper annum earned by keeping a first-
rate private hotel.
The manifold attractions of town life did not suffice
to while away the weary hours of that evening for at
least three people in London. Violet, returning from
Chalfont, took a room in the Great Western Hotel at
Paddington, and, when asked to sign the register,
The Midnight Gathering
obeyed some unaccountable impulse by writing " Miss
Barnes." It gave her a thrill to see poor Gwendo-
line's nom de theatre thus resurrected, and there was
something uncanny in the incident too; but she was
aroused by the hotel clerk's respectful inquiry if she
had any luggage.
"No," she said, somewhat embarrassed; "but I will
pay for my room in advance, if you wish."
"That is not necessary, madam, thank you," was
the answer; so Violet, unconscious of the trust reposed
in her appearance, took her key and went to rest a
little before undertaking the last task she had set her-
self. She carried in her hand some violets which she
had bought from a poor woman outside the hotel.
Van Hupfeldt, tortured by want of knowledge of the
actions of those in whom he was most interested, was
compelled to enlist Neil's services again after reviling
him. The valet went openly to Eddystone Mansions
and inquired for Harcourt.
" He's bin aht all d'y," said Jim the porter, speculat-
ing on Neil's fighting weight, if he was one of the
ghosts to be laid after midnight.
Neil brought back this welcome information, and
Van Hupfeldt hoped uneasily that his ruse had been
successful. If it had, David would be somewhere
near Birmingham, and would there await a message
from Violet, which Van Hupfeldt would take care he
received next day.
As for David, he smoked and mused in Hyde Park
The Late Tenant
until after night had fallen. Then he returned to his
abode by the way indicated by the porter, and smoked
again in the dark, and without a fire, until a few minutes
after midnight, when he heard the clank of the ascend-
ing lift, followed by a ring at the door. In case of
accident, he had his revolver in his pocket this time;
moreover, his right hand was ready when he opened
the door with his left.
But it was his ally; Jim pointed to the lift with a
grin. "Everybody else is in, sir," he said. *' Just
step in there an' I'll take you to the next floor. We'll
switch off the light inside, but leave it on here as usual.
Then we can see a mouse comin' up the stairs if need
be, an' there's no other way in, unless a real ghost turns
They took up their position, leaving the door of the
lift open. Thus they could step out without noise if
necessary. They had not long to wait. Scarcely five
minutes had elapsed before the porter, with an ear
trained to the noises of the building, whispered eagerly :
*' Some one has just closed the front door, sir."
They heard ascending footsteps. It was Van Hup-
feldt, panting, darting quick glances at shadows, has-
tening up the stairs with a sort of felon fright. In
front of No. 7 he paused and Hstened. Apparently not
daring to risk everything, he rang the bell; he had not
forgotten that a bullet had seared his leg at one of his
unauthorized visits. Again he listened, being evi-
dently ready for flight if he heard any answering
The Midnight Gathering
sound. Then, finding all safe, he produced a key,
entered, and closed the door behind him.
" Well, I'm — " began the porter, in a tense whisper,
this unlawful entry being a sacrilege to him.
But David said in his ear: "Let him alone; we have
Nevertheless, seeing that Violet had undoubtedly
stated her intent (or it seemed like that) to visit the
flat that night, he began to consider what he should do
if she put in an appearance. What would happen if
she unexpectedly encountered Van Hupfeldt within ?
That must be provided for. The unforeseen difficulty
was an instance of the poverty of man's judgment
where the future is concerned. In keeping his implied
promise to Violet, he would expose her to grave peril;
for, in David's view, Van Hupfeldt had done her sister
to death in that same place, and there was no knowing
what the crime a man in desperate straits would commit.
David was sure now that, actuated by widely different
motives, both Van Hupfeldt and Violet were bent on
searching for the photograph and letter reposing
securely in his own pocket. He smiled grimly as he
thought of that which Van Hupfeldt would find, but,
obviously, he ought to warn Violet beforehand. Or
would it suffice if he followed quickly after her, thus
giving her the opportunity of scaring Van Hupfeldt
into the right mood to confess everything.?
There was a slight risk in that; but it seemed to offer
the best solution of a difficulty, and it would avoid the
The Late Tenant
semblance of collusion between them, which Van Hup-
feldt was adroit enough to take advantage of. So,
when Violet did run lightly up the stairs, though his
heart beat with joy at the sight of her, he restrained
himself until she had opened the door. She applied
her key without hesitation.
" She trusts in me fully, then ! " thought David, with a
pang of regret that he should be compelled now to
He gripped the porter's arm as he stepped noise-
lessly out on to the landing above, and thus lost sight
of Violet. The man followed, and David, leaning over
the stair-rail, saw the door of his flat close. He had
never before realized how quietly that door might be
closed if due care was taken. Even his keen ears
heard no sound whatever.
And then he heard that which sent the blood in a
furious race from his brain to his heart and back to his
brain again. For there came from within a cry as from
some beast in pain, and, quickly following, the shriek
of a woman in mortal fear.
David waited for no key-turning. He dashed in the
lock with his foot and entered. The first thing that
greeted his disordered senses was the odor of violets
which came to him, fresh and pungent, with an eery
reminiscence of the night he thought he saw the spec-
tral embodiment of dead Gwendoline.
VAN HUPFELDT MAKES AMENDS
Violet's first act, on entering the hall, had been to
turn on the light. She did this without giving a thought
to the possibility of disturbing some prior occupant.
The day's events demonstrated how completely David
was worthy of faith; she was assured that he would
obey the behest in her letter. How much better would
it have been had she trusted intuition in the first in-
But it chanced that David had written a little note
to her, on an open sheet of paper, which he pinned to
the table-cloth in the dining-room in such a position
that she could not fail to see it when there was a light.
And this note, headed "To Violet," contained the
I have found the photograph of Strauss, or Van Hupfeldt, and
with it the letter in which he announced to your sister that he was
already married to another woman. ,-.
Van Hupfeldt, of course, had seen this thrice-con-
vincing and accusing document, which proved not
only that he and his secret were in David's power,
but that David had expected Violet to visit his dwell-
The Late Tenant
ing. He was sitting at the table in a stupor of rage
and terror, when he fancied he heard a rustUng in the
outer passage. Beside himself with anger at the
threatened downfall of his cardboard castle, strung to
a state of high nervous tension by the horror he had of
that abode of dreadful memories, he half turned toward
the door, which had swung back almost into its place.
Through the chink he noticed an exterior radiance;
nevertheless, he paid no heed to it, although his wearied
brain seemed to remind him that he had not left a light
in the corridor. Yet again he heard another rustle,
as of a woman's garments. This time he sprang up,
with the madness of hysteria in his eyes; he tore open
the door, and saw Violet near to him. She, noting the
movement of the door, stood stock-still with surprise
and some fear, ungovernable emotions which un-
doubtedly gave a touch of wan tragedy to her expres-
sion. Moreover, the glow of the hall lamp was now
behind her, and her features were somewhat in gloom;
so it was not to be wondered at that Van Hupfeldt,
with his conscience on the rack, thought he was actually
looking at the embodied spirit of Gwendoline. He
expected to see the dead woman, and he was far too
unhinged to perceive that he was face to face with a
He threw up his arms, uttered that horrible screech
which had reached the ears of David and the porter,
and collapsed limply to the floor, whence, from his
knees, while he sank slowly, he gazed at the frightened
Van Hupfeldt Makes Amends
girl with such an awful look of a doomed man that she,
in turn, screamed aloud. Then she saw a thin stream
of blood issuing from between his pallid lips, and, the
strain being too great, she fainted; so that David,
after bursting in the door and finding the two bodies
prostrate, one on each side of the entrance to the
dining-room, imagined for one agonizing second that
another and more ghastly crime had been enacted in
those haunted chambers.
He lifted Violet tenderly in his arms, and guessed
at once that she had been overcome by the sight of
Van Hupfeldt, who, at the first glance, seemed to have
inflicted some mortal injury on himself.
The hall-porter, aghast at the discovery of two
people apparently dead whom he had seen alive a few
minutes earlier, kept his wits sufficiently together to
stoop over Van Hupfeldt; then he, too, noticed the
blood welling forth. " It's all right, sir," cried he, in
a queer, cracked voice to David; "this here gent has
on'y broke a blood-vessel!"
David said something which had better be forgotten ;
just then Violet, who was not at all of the lymphatic
order, opened her eyes and looked at him.
*' Thank God ! " he whispered, close to her Hps, and
she, scarce comprehending her whereabouts yet, made
a brave effort to smile at him.
He had carried her into the little drawing-room,
and he now placed her in a chair. "Have no fear,"
he said. " I am here. I shall not leave you."
The Late Tenant
He ran to the door. "If that man's condition is
serious, you had better summon a doctor," he cried
to the porter, whom he saw engaged in the effort to
prop Van Hupfeldt's body against a chair. David
was pitiless, perhaps; he had not recovered from the
shock of finding Violet lying prostrate.
" He mustn't be allowed to fall down, sir," said Jim,
anxiously, "or he will choke. I've seen a kise like
David, though quickly subsiding from his ferment,
was divided between the claims of Violet and the
demands of humanity. Personally, he thought that
the Dutchman would be no loss to the world; but
the man was helpless. And now Violet, recovering
strength and recollection with each more regular
breath, knew what had happened. She stood up
" Let us go to him," she said, with the fine chivalry
of woman, and soon, kneeling on each side of Van
Hupfeldt, they supported him, and endeavored to
stanch the outpouring from his lips.
The porter hurried away. David, wondering what
to do for the best, held his enemy's powerless body a
little inclined forward, and asked Violet if she would
bring a wet towel from the bath-room. She did this at
once, and wrapped it round Van Hupfeldt's forehead.
The relief thus afforded was effective, and the flow of
blood had ceased when the porter returned with a
doctor who lived in the next block of dwellings.
Van Hupfeldt Makes Amends
The doctor made light of the hemorrhage; but he
detected a pulse which made him look up at the others
" This is a bad case of heart failure," he said. *' The
rupture of a blood-vessel is a mere symptom. Has he
had a sudden shock ? "
"I fear so," said David. "What can we do for
him ? "
"Nothing, at present," was the ominous answer.
"I dread even the necessity of moving him to a bed-
room. Certainly he cannot be taken elsewhere. Is
he a friend of yours.? I understand he does not live
David was saved from the difficulty of answering
by a feeble indication of Van Hupfeldt's wish to speak.
The doctor gave him some water, then a little weak
brandy and water. Violet again helped David to
hold him, and the unfortunate man, seemingly recog-
nizing her, now turned his head toward her.
"Forgive me!" he whispered, with the labored dis-
tinctness of one who speaks with the utmost effort.
" I have deceived you vilely. I wished to make repara-
" I think I know all you wish to tell me," said Violet,
bravely, " and, even so, I am sorry for you."
" You heard what the doctor said ? " he muttered.
" Yes, but you will recover. Don't try to talk. You
must calm yourself. Then the doctor will help."
" I know more than he knows of my own condition.
The Late Tenant
I am dying. I shall be dead in a few minutes. It is
only just. I shall die here, where Gwen died — my
Gwen, whom I loved more than my own soul. May
God forgive — "
"Oh, don't!" cried Violet, brokenly; the presence
of gray death, that last and greatest adjuster of wrong,
obliterated many a bitter vow and stifled the cry for
vengeance in her.
*'It is just,'* he whispered again. "I killed her by
that letter. And now she has summoned me to the
grave, she who gave her life to shield me. Ah! what
a punishment was mine! when I flew here from Paris
to tell her that all was well, and arrived only in time to
see her die! She died in my arms, just as I am dying
in yours, Vi! But she suffered, and I, who deserve
all the suffering, am falling away without pain."
Truly, he seemed to gain strength as he spoke; he
still fancied he had seen Gwendoline; the gathering
mists clouded his brain to that extent.
Violet's eyes were dim with tears; her lips trembled
so that she scarce could utter a word. The doctor,
who was watching Van Hupfeldt narrowly, said to her
in a low tone: *'Take my advice, and leave us now."
But Van Hupfeldt heard him, and roused himself
determinedly for a final effort. Yet he spoke with
difficulty and brokenly. " I escaped down the service-
lift that night — once again when Harcourt shot at me.
I only wished to atone, Vi ! I made my will — you
know — the lawyers will explain. The boy — Mrs.
Van Hupfeldt Makes Amends
Carter — New Street, Birmingham. See to the boy,
Vi, for Gwen's sake. Ah, God! for her sake!"
And that was all.
Violet, weeping bitterly, was led away. From over
the mantelpiece the wild eyes of a portrait in chalk
of a beautiful woman looked down in pity, it may be,
on the dead face of the man lying on the floor. And
so ended the sad love story of Henry Van Hupfeldt
and Gwendoline Mordaunt. In the street beneath,
hansoms were jingling along, bringing people home
from the restaurants. London recked little of the last
scene of one of its many dramas.
Yet it had its sequel in life and love, for Violet and
her mother, as the result of a telegram to Birmingham,
took into their arms a happy and crowing infant, a
fine baby boy who won his way to their hearts by his
instant readiness to be fondled by them, and who re-
tained his place in their affections by the likeness he
bore to his dead mother; though his hair was dark,
and he promised to have the Spanish profile of his
father, his eyes were Gwen's blue ones, and his lips
parted in the merry smile they knew so well.
But that was next day, when the fount of tears was
nearly dry, and the shudderings of the night had
passed. Lucky it was for Violet that David was near.
What would have become of her had she regained her
senses and found herself alone in the flat, alone with a
dead man ?
David, somewhat hardened by his career in the
The Late Tenant
turbulent West, quickly hit upon a line of action.
The doctor, a good soul, volunteered to drive to Van
Hupfeldt's residence and summon Neil, who would
probably bear the porter company during a night
vigil in the flat. David, therefore, made Violet drink
a little brandy, and, talking steadily the while, com-
pelling occasional answers to his questions, he led her
to a cab, which he directed to Porchester Gardens.
He knew that in Mrs. Harrod she would find a friend,
and it was an added relief to him to discover, after
repeated ringing had brought a servant to the door,
that Mrs. Mordaunt was there, too.
To save Violet the undue strain of an explanation,
he asked that her mother might be aroused. There
was no need for that. She was down-stairs promptly,
having heard the imperative bell, certain that news
of Violet was to hand.
So he told of the night's doings to a tearful and per-
plexed woman who had never previously set eyes on
him, and it was three o'clock ere he turned his face
toward Eddystone Mansions again. Arrived there,
he found that the porter and Neil had carried the
unfortunate Van Hupfeldt to the room in which Gwen-
doline died. That was chance; it must have been
something more than chance which caused David to
pick up the bunch of violets, torn from the breast of
their wearer when she fell in a faint, and place them
on the pillow near the pallid head. David was sorry
for the man, after all.
Van Hupfcldt Makes Amends
In one matter, the sorely tried mother and daughter
were fortunate; there was no inquest. The doctor
who was present at Van Hupfeldt's death, after con-
sulting the coroner and a West End specialist who had
warned the sufferer of his dangerous state, was able to
give a burial certificate in due form. Thus all scandal
and sensation-mongering were avoided. The inter-
ment took place in Kensal Green cemetery. Van
Hupfeldt's mortal remains were laid to rest near to
those of the woman he loved.
Violet was his sole heiress under the will he had
executed. A sealed letter, attached by him to that
document, explained his motive. In case of accident
prior to the contemplated marriage, he thereby sur-
mounted the legal difficulty and inevitable exposure
of pro\^ding for the child. He asked Violet to take
the requisite steps to administer the estate, bidding
her reserve a capital sum sufficient to provide the ten
thousand pounds per annum given her by the marriage
settlement, and set apart the residue, under trustees,
for the benefit of the boy.
At first she refused to touch a penny of the money;
but wiser counsels prevailed. There would not only
be a serious tangle in the business if she declined the
bequest, but Van Hupfeldt was so rich that nearly five
times the amount was left for the child, the value of
the estate being considerably over a million sterling.
The requisite investigation of the sources of his
wealth cleared up a good deal that was previously
The Late Tenant
obscure. Undoubtedly he had been helped in his
early career, that of a musician, by a Mrs. Strauss,
widow of a California merchant. She educated him,
and, yielding to a foolish passion, offered to make him
her heir if he married her and assumed the name of
Strauss, she having already attained some notoriety in
Continental circles under that designation. She was
a malade imaginaire, in the sense that she would seldom
reside more than a few weeks in any one place, while
she positively detested both England and America.
He was kind to her, and she was devoted to him;
but unUmited wealth cloyed when it involved constant
obedience to her whims. Yet, rather than lose him
altogether, she agreed to his occasional visits to Eng-
land during the season, and when hunting was toward.
Eager to shake off the thraldom of the Strauss regime,
he then invariably passed under his real name of Van
Hence, when he fell in love with Gwendoline, and
resolved to make her his in defiance of all social law,
he was obliged to tell her that he was also Johann
Strauss, and under an obligation to the Mrs. Strauss
who had adopted him. Gwendoline's diary, which,
with the certificates, was found in a bureau, became
clear enough when annotated with these facts. Van
Hupfeldt himself left the fewest possible papers, the
letter accompanying the will merely setting forth his
wishes, and announcing that he desired to marry
Violet as an act of reparation to the memory of her
Van Hupfeldt Makes Amends
sister. This had become a mania with him. The
unhappy man thought that, this way, he could win
And then the bright world became a Valley of De-
spair for David Harcourt. During many a bitter hour
he lamented Van Hupfeldt's death. Alive, he was a
rival to be fought and conquered; dead, he had inter-
posed that insurmountable barrier of great wealth
between Violet and one who was sick for love of her.
Poor David! He sought refuge in work, and found his
way up some rungs of the literary ladder; but he could
neither forget his Violet nor follow her to Dale Manor,
the inaccessible, fenced in now by a wall of gold.
Once, he was in a hansom on the way to Euston,
telling himself he was going to Rigsworth to give the
gamekeeper that promised licking; but he stopped the
cab and returned, saying bitterly: *'Why am I trying
to fool myself ? That is not the David of my acquaint-
So he went back, calling in at a florist's and buying
a huge bowlful of violets, thinking to reach Nirvana
by their scent, and thereby humbugging himself so
egregiously that he was in despondent mood when he
sat down to a lonely tea in his flat. He had not seen
or heard of Violet in three long months, not since he
took Mrs. Mordaunt and her to the train for War-
wickshire, and, walking afterward with Dibbin from
the station, learned the fateful news of her intolerable
The Late Tenant
He had promised to write, but he had not written.
What was he to say ? That he still loved her, although
she was rich? Perhaps he dreamed that she would
write to him. But no; silence was the steady scheme
of things — and work, fourteen hours a day work as
the solatium, until his bronzed face began to take on
the student's cast, and he wondered, at times, if he had
ever caught and saddled a bronco, or slept under the
stars. Or was it all a dream?
Wanting some bread, and being alone, the char-
woman having believed his statement that he would
be away until next midday, he went into the kitchen.
It was now high summer; hot, with the stable-like heat
of London, and the kitchen window was wide open.
Some impulse prompted him to look out and examine
the service-lift by way of which Van Hupfeldt had
twice quitted the flat, once when driven by mad fear
of being held guilty of Gwendoline's death, and again
to save his life from David's revolver.
Given a steady brain and some little athletic skill,
the feat was easy enough. All that was needed was
to cling to two greasy iron uprights and slide from one
floor to the next, where cross-bars marked the different
stories and provided halting-places for the lift. It was
typical of Van Hupfeldt that he had the nerve to essay
this means of escape and the cunning to think of it.
David was looking into the well of the building a
hundred feet below, when an electric bell jarred over his
head. Some one was at the front door. It was a porter.
Van Hupfeldt Makes Amends
"You are wanted down-stairs, sir,'* said he, his
honest face all of a grin.
"Down-stairs?" repeated David, puzzled.
"Yes, sir. There's a hansom waitin,' sir."
"Oh," said David, wondering what he had left in
He went down, hatless, and not a word said Jim,
though he watched David out of the comer of his eye,
and smiled broadly when he saw David's sudden recog-
nition of Violet through the side-window of the han-
She, too, smiled delightedly when David appeared.
"I want you to come with me for a little drive," she
said; "but not without a hat. That would be odd."
David, casting off three months' cobwebs in a second,
was equal to the emergency. Somehow, the damask
of Violet's flushed cheeks banished the dull tints in his.
" Jim," he said, " Here's my key. Bring me a hat
— any old hat — first you can grab."
Then he climbed into the vacant seat by her side.
" Do you know," he said, " I was nearly going to Rigs-
worth to-day ? "
" I only know," she replied, " that you were to write
to me, and I have had no letter."
"Don't put me on my self-defense, or I shan't care
tuppence if you are worth ten thousand or ten millions
a year," he said.
Violet leaned over the door. "That man is a long
time going for your hat," she said. " By the way, can
The Late Tenant
you spare the time to drive with me to Kensal Green ?
And then I am to take you to Porchester Gardens,
where mother expects you to dine with us, en Jamille,
so you need not return here.'' She was a Httle breath-
less, and spoke in a fluster.
Jim arrived, with the missing head-gear. The
driver whipped up his horse, and David's left arm
went round Violet's waist. She bent forward, aston-
ished, with a sidelong glance of questioning.
*'It is a reasonable precaution," said David. "If
the horse goes down, you don't fall out."
Violet laughed and blushed prettily.
A bus-driver, eying them, jerked his head at the cab-
man. *'A11 right, the lydy," he said, and the cabman
winked. But the two inside knew nothing of this
So, you see, David simply couldn't help himself, or
rather, from another point of view, he did help him-
self to a remarkably charming wife and a considerable
Miss Ermyn L'Estrange insisted on an invitation
to the wedding, which took place at Rigsworth as
quietly as the inhabitants of the village would allow.
The volatile actress won such favor from a local land
agent in a fair way of business that he goes to town
far too frequently, people say, and it is highly probable
that her name will be changed soon to a less euphoni-
ous one, which will be good for her and excellent for
the land agent's business.
Van Hupfeldt Makes Amends
Sarah Gissing found a new post as Master Henry's
nurse, and Mrs. Carter was well rewarded for the care
she had taken of the boy. The postmistress's sister
received a fine diamond ring when David, by dint of
judicious questioning, found out the identity of the
"friend" who sent that most timely telegram, and,
strangely enough, the surly gamekeeper never received
either the fifty pounds, or the thrashing, or the sack;
but was minus the silver paid to his poacher assistants
for their night watch.
So, even this little side issue, out of the many grave
ones raised by David's tenancy of an ordinary flat
in an ordinary London mansion, shows how often the
unexpected happens, even in ordinary life.
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