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Full text of "The late tenant"


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THE LATE TENANT 



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THE 

LATE TENANT 



BY 

GORDON HOLMES 

Author of "A Mysterious Disappearance," 
"The Arncliffe Puzzle." 




New York 

Edward J. Clode 

156 Fifth Avenue 

1906 









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Copyright, 1906, bv 
EDWARD J. CLODE 



Eti'.ered at Stationers Hall 



The Plimpton Press Norwood Mass. U.SA. 



1 

'■'■ t 






CONTENTS 



CHAPTER I 

PAGE 

A Whiff of Violets 1 

CHAPTER II 
A Signature with a Flourish 15 

CHAPTER III 
Violet 27 

CHAPTER IV 

"Johann Strauss" 36 

CHAPTER V 
Von or Van ? 45 

CHAPTER VI 
The Word of Joy 60 

CHAPTER VII 
Violet's Conditions 70 

CHAPTER VIII 
At Dead of Night 83 

CHAPTER IX 
Coming Near 96 

CHAPTER X 
The Marriage-Lines 106 

V 



[Vi53JiD53 



Contents 

CHAPTER XI 

PAGE 

Swords Drawn 11*7 

CHAPTER Xn 
Thj: Night- Watche3 . 133 

CHAPTER XHI 
No More Violet 144 

CHAPTER XIV 
TheDluiy 163 

CHAPTER XV 
In Pain 1*73 

CHAPTER XVI 
Hand to Hand 180 

CHAPTER XVII 
David more than Regains Lost Ground 197 

CHAPTER XVIII 

From the Depths 213 

CHAPTER XIX 
Violet Decides 227 

CHAPTER XX 

David has One Visitor and Expects Others .... 242 

CHAPTER XXI 
The Midnight Gathering 257 

CHAPTER XXII 
Van Hupfeldt Makes Amends 271 

vi 



The Late Tenant 



I 



CHAPTER I 

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 

1 



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 
London. 

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 

2 



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." 

3 



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- 
able. 

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 

4 



A Whiff of Violets 

linen, gas-stove, electric light, bath H. and C," for 
six months. 

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 

5 



(( 



a 



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 
talk." 

"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 

6 



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 
price. 

"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 
you." 

"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 
generally. 

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 

7 



The Late Tenant 

sweet face in chalks, to return presently to the win- 
dow. 

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 
as eleven. 

The elevator, placed in the center of the building, 
ran from the basement floor; those who used it had to 

8 



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 
stairs. 

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 ? " 
he asked. 

"Miss Ermyn L'Estrange, sir," was the instant 
answer. 

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 
months, sir." 

" 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 

9 



The Late Tenant 

two sections were visible from the landing where they 
stood. 

" I 'ave 'eard," said he, " that a young lydy used 
ter live 'ere of the nyme of Miss Gwendoline 
Barnes." 

"Ah, that sounds more like it. Good-night." 

"Good-night, sir." 

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 
lighted. 

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 

10 



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 
of earth. 

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 

11 



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, 

12 



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 

13 



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. 



14 



CHAPTER II 

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, 

15 



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 
action. 

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 
hand. 

"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 
my flat—" 

" Is that so, sir .? " 

" Where have you been during the last five minutes ? " 

"Down-stairs, sir." 

16 



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 
followed him. 

"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. 

17 



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 

18 



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 ? " 

19 



The Late Tenant 



"Yes. Oh, yes." 

"Nice girl?" 

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 
groaned. 

"If it distresses you, I will talk of something else," 
said Harcourt. 

"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 
another agency." 

"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 
information." 

20 



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 
ground." 

"Did she rent the flat herself.^" 

"No. That is the only really mysterious circum- 

21 



a 



{( 



(( 



f( 



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 
everything." 

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 

22 



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, 
Mr. Dibbin." 

"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 

2S 



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 
a claim." 

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 
Green cemetery. 

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 

24 



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 

25 



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. 

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 
retire. 

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 
and gentle. 



26 



CHAPTER III 

VIOLET 

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. 

27 



The Late Tenant 

"I did not realize that I looked 'strangely.' However, 
let me be frank. I did come to see your sister's 
grave." 

"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 
girl." 

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 
reassuring smile. 

"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 
sister." 

"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 

28 



Violet 

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 
gently. 

"Ah, no doubt," she said again. "But did you 
know the history of the flat before you went into it ? " 

"Why, yes." 

" 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 

29 



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 
valid explanation." 

" 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 

30 



Violet 

merely ask for an explanation which you seem unable 
to give." 

"Think, now! Have I not given it? I say that I 
wanted a flat and took this one. Don't mistrust me 
for nothing!" 

"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 
presence. 

" 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 

31 



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 ? " 
asked David. 

"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, 

32 



Violet 

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 
book. 

" 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 — " 

33 



(( 



(( 



(( 



(( 



ie 



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- 
ruption. 

" 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 
carriage." 

"But I ought not to be tracked," said Violet, with the 
quick petulance which already was music for David. 

34 



Violet 

"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. 



35 



CHAPTER IV 



"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, 

36 



^'Johann Strauss'' 

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 
nest." 

"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, 

37 



The Late Tenant 

coal-dust in your very soul, and even at night in your 
bed!" 

"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 
us talk." 

" 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." 

38 



(( 



Johann Strauss'' 






" What ? You have discovered their names ? " cried 
Dibbin with a start. 

"I have." 

"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 ? " 

"Several times." 

"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.^" 

"Rather!" 

"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 

39 



The Late Tenant 

from Kenilworth. Good old family, and that sort 
of thing." 

"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. 

40 



(( 



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 



sex — 



"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 

41 



a 



a I 



The Late Tenant 

how fascinating this man must be in the eyes of a 
young woman!" 

"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 

42 



(( 



Johann Strauss ^^ 



by Violet Mordaunt, which was the notion that 
rankled. 

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 

43 



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 
Gwendoline Mordaunt." 

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 
L'Estrange. 



44 



CHAPTER V 

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 

45 



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 
young man. 

46 



(( 



a 



a 



a 



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 
ghosts." 

" 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 ? " 

"Violets!" 

David started, not wholly because he thought Miss 
L'Estrange would be flattered by this tribute to her 
forcible style. 

"And I'm not one of vour fanciful ones either," she 
went on, smirking at the effect she had made. 

47 



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 

48 



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 ? " 
asked David. 

"Pretty tall; one would have called her tall." 

" And Jenny was certain ? She had really seen a 
woman ? " 

"Quite certain." 



•j » 



a 



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 
tidy." 

"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 

49 






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.' 

50 



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 
more." 

"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 
lowered lids. 

" Oh, this isn't a Sunday school. If you hem and 
haw at me I shall show you the short cut to the front 

51 



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, 

52 



Von or Van ? 
an hour's search each day; and Jenny and I moved 



in." 



"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 — " 

53 



i( 



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 
never got." 

"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. 

54 



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 ! " 
groaned David. 

" 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 
don't preach." 

"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, 

5Q 



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 — " 

57 



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 
the flat." 

58 



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 
soon." 

"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 
to her. 



59 



CHAPTER VI 

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- 
ing: 

"A letter for Miss Violet, and it contains good 
news; for I dreamt of soldiers last night, and so sure 

60 



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 

61 



(( 



a 



a 



it 



a . 



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- 

62 



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 
to-day." 

"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 

63 



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 
shaken. 

"And better still life with neither, it seems to me; 
and best of all, the end of life, and good-by to it all, 
mother." 

"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, 
then." 

"Tell me." 

"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 

64 



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 
to-day." 

" 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 

Q5 



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- 
coming." 

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— " 

"Well?" 

"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 
take it." 

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, 

67 



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 
notice." 

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 

68 



<( 



<( 



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 
the stairs. 



69 



CHAPTER VII 

violet's conditions 

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 
Dutch. 

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 

70 



Violet's Conditions 

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, 

71 



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 } " 

72 



Violet's Conditions 

"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 

73 



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 
to Hfe." 

"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 — " 

74 



Violet's Conditions 

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 
on her. 

"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." 

75 



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 
nowr 

"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 
bargain." 

" 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 

76 



Violefs Conditions 

be ! Clear your sister's nax^e ? You still talk like a 
child—" 

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. 

77 



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 

78 



Violefs Conditions 

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 
miserable man." 

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 must!" 

" 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, 

79 



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 
before?" 

" 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 

80 



Violet's Conditions 

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 
her cold. 

"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, 

81 



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 ! 



82 



CHAPTER VIII 

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 

83 



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 
Chalfont. 

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." 

84 



(< 



( i^ 



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 
myself." 

"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 ? " 

"Yes, sir." 

"Well, that seems to say that it was Miss Barnes 

85 



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 

86 



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 

87 



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 

88 



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 
cranny." 

"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 
her." 

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 

89 



it 



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- 

ing-" 

" 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 

90 



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- 

91 



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 

92 



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- 

93 



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 
Violet. 

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 

94 



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 
like." 

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 
the night. 



95 



CHAPTER IX 

COMING NEAR 

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 

96 



Coming Near 

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 
sight! 

97 



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. 

98 



Coming Near 

"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, 
earnestly. 

"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 

99 



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 
between us." 

" For what reason did you ask her about these papers 

100 



Coming Near 

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 ? " 

"Yes." 

" 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 
pals—" 

" But what is he like, this young man ? " 

"Not a bad sort, something like a Jameson raider, 
a merry, upstanding fellow — " 

101 



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 
then.?" 

" 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 

102 



Coming Near 

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 
secret. 

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 

103 



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 

104 



Coming Near 

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 
late. 

What a web, this, which was being spun round the 
young adventurer from Wyoming! 



105 



CHAPTER X 

THE MARRIAGE-LINES 

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 
Violets." 

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 

106 



The Marriage-Lines 

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 
David. 

" 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 

107 



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 

108 



The Marriage-Lines 

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. 

109 



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." 

110 



The Marriage-Lines 

"Who are you ? I don't even know you!" cried the 
perplexed Jenny. 

"I didn't say I was Mr. Strauss himself," began 
Neil. 

"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 
my business." 

"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- 
flection. 

Ill 



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." 

112 



The Marriage-Lines 

"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 
troubles." 

"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 
saying that." 

" 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 

113 



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 
hundred pounds." 

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 
much Violet!" 

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 

114 



The Marriage-Lines 

decided to take her to his flat, and leave her there in 
Mrs. Grover's charge till he returned from the Mor- 
daunts. 

"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- 



man. 



Gentleman who just come down," he said, "does 
he live here ? " 

"He do, in No. 7," was the answer. 

115 



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. 



116 



CHAPTER XI 

SWORDS DRAWN 

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 

117 



t( 



a 



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- 
dred pounds." 

She scrutinized him with a certain furtiveness, 
weighing him. 

" In my interests .? " said she. 

"Yours and your mother's." 

" One hundred pounds ? " 

"Yes." 

" 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 
deeply concerned." 

" But you come like a storm, and speak like one." 

" On a purely business matter of your own — re- 
member." 

"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." 

118 



Swords Drawn 

"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 
what." 

"Now I have put my foot in it, I suppose," said 

119 



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 — " 

"Married.?" 

"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 — " 

"Well.?" 

" Because — nothing. I was simply taken aback, 
that's all. Or rather because I had not heard of it 
before." 

"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 
know when." 

"And the happy man.?" 

120 



(( 



« 



Swords Drawn 

"The same whom you saw come to take me from 
Kensal Green." 

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 
anger me.'* 

121 



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 
disinterested." 

" 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 ? " 

122 



« 



(( . 



Swords Drawn 



"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." 

123 



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 
over it. 

"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." 

124 



Swords Drawn 

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- 
ture." 

"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 
come r 

"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 

125 



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." 

126 



Swords Drawn 

"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- 

127 



a 



a 



a 



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." 

David groaned. 

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, 

128 



Swords Drawn 

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 
her. 

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 
easily won." 

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 

129 



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 
wanderings. 

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 

130 



Swords Drawn 

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 
David, hotly. 

"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 — " 

131 



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 
vehicles behind. 



132 



CHAPTER XII 

THE NIGHT-WATCHES 

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 
myself." 

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' 

133 



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 
dozen ghost-panics. 

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 

134 



The Night-Watches 

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 
six o'clock. 

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 
answer. 

135 



<( I 



(S I 



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 
you?" 

"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 — " 

"But, sir!" 

" 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. 

136 



The Night-Watches 

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 

137 



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 

138 



The Night-Watches 

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 

139 



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 

140 



The Night-Watches 

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. 

141 



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 
still again. 

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 

142 



The Night-Watches 

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 
with light. 

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. 



143 



CHAPTER XIII 

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 

144 



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 
wall? 

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 

145 



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 
wrote : 

"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 

146 



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 
thankful. 

147 



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 



me." 



"You received my telegram of this morning.^" 
"Saying that you would come at half -past one? 
Yes." 

"Well, I am lucky to have found you alone, for in 

148 



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 

149 



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 
is—" 

"Violet.^" breathed Mrs. Mordaunt, with a long 
face. 

"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 

150 



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- 
ent—" 

"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. 

151 



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- 
feldt. 

152 



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 certificates?" 

" 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 
again. 

"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." 

153 



The Late Tenant 

Violet flushed angrily. "Some one is untrue!" she 
cried out. 

"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 
miserable ruffian." 

"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, 

154 



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: 

155 



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 morning." 

" 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; 

156 



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." 

157 



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 
grave r 

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 
injury." 

"Not trying to me where Violet is," said Van Hup- 
feldt. 

"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." 

158 



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, 

159 



The Late Tenant 

dearly, if only it were not for the lack of dignity and 
reserve. 

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 
Kenilworth, Warwickshire." 

"What do you think of this handwriting?" Van 

160 



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 
lain. 

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 

161 



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. 



162 



CHAPTER XIV 

THE DIARY 

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 ? 

163 



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 
Gardens. 

"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 
was true. 

" When did she go ? " he asked. 

"Last Tuesday week," was the answer. 

The note was true! 

"I have written Miss Mordaunt a letter," said 

164 



The Diary 

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 
them on." 

" 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 



on." 



" Through Mr. Van Hupfeldt .? " 

"Yes." 

"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 
tell you—" 

" 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," 

165 



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- 
feldt." 

" Have you ever seen him, Dibbin ? " 

"Never." 

" 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 
to forward." 

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 

166 



The Diary 

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 
there. 

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. 

167 



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 
the country. 

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 

168 



The Diary 

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 
address ! 

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 
wire. 

"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 
solemn music: 

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 

169 



The Late Tenant 

well," nor your pallid cheeks reveal your grief because my " sub- 
dued eyes, 

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- 
self. 

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. 

170 



The Diary 



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 
things. 

Then, some four months after marriage: 

171 



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. 



17a 



CHAPTER XV 

IN PAIN 

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 
mantelpiece. 

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 

173 



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, 

174 



In Pain 

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 

175 



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 

176 



In Pain 

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 

177 



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- 
selves. 

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 

178 



In Pain 

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." 



179 



CHAPTER XVI 

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 

180 



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 
followed. 

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 

181 



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, 

182 



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 

183 



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. 
"Step inside." 

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 
you." 

" 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 ? " 

184 



(( 



(( 



(( 



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 
he was." 

"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 
learn." 

"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." 

185 



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- 
ter. 

David strolled about Pangley, looked into the tiny 
shop-windows, dined on fruit, wished that he had not 

186 



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 
the book. 

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 

187 



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- 
St., Chelsea. 

"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." 

188 



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 

189 



it 



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 
mind." 

" 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 — " 

190 



Hand to Hand 

"You wrote to say that no certificates were ever 
found!" 

"I did." 

"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 
to send." 

"Ah, he's a cautious beast!" said David, bitterly. 
" Still — I'll have him — not to-morrow, but to-night. 
Quick, now — his address." 

191 



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 
across London. 

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 

192 



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. 

193 



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 — " 

"You interloper!" 

"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 

194 



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 

195 



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. 



196 



CHAPTER XVII 

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 

197 



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 

198 



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 
manner. 

199 



The Late Tenant 

"So's my orders," said velveteens. 

"But I must see either Mrs. Mordaunt or Miss 
Violet." 

"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 
everything. 

He was instantly aware that the country policeman 
who had lolled through the village behind him was a 

200 



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- 
riage window. 

"Good-by, P. C. 198," he said. 

Now, he was traveling first-class, and, in England, 
even a villain demands respect under that circum- 
stance. 

" 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 



soon." 



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 

day." 

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. 

201 



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. 

202 



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 

203 



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 
house. 

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, 

204 



David More Than Regains Lost Ground 

moving body seemed to be as impalpable as its spirit 
image. 

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." 

205 



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." 

206 



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 

207 



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. 

208 



David More Than Regains Lost Ground 



" Yes, dear — may I call you dear ? " 

"And you have it ? " 

"No." 

"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 
nature. 

"Van Hupfeldt stole it from the flat during my 
absence." 

"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 
instead." 

"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. 

209 



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 
in him. 

" 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. 

210 



David More Than Regains Lost Ground 

"Do you swear that you are telling me the truth?" 
she cried. 

"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- 
morrow morning." 

"Make it to-night, if possible. Tell your mother 
I will not add to her sorrows, and it is best she should 
know all." 

Good-by, then, Violet." 
Good-by, David." 

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 

211 



a 



(( 



The Late Tenant 

waved a hand to him. He replied. Then she van- 
ished, and David walked on, the happiest man in 
England. 

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. 



212 



CHAPTER XVIII 

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 
Hupfeldt. 

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 

213 



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 
lawyers." 

"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 ? " 

214 



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, 

215 



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 ! " 
she cried. 

"That is yet possible," he answered with a strange 
humility. 

Do you deny all, all ? " she almost screamed. 

Not only do I deny, but I affirm, and I have my 

216 



(( 



i( 



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 

217 



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 
eyes. 

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 
again." 

" Oh, if that is so, there is no faith or honesty in the 
world." 

" Is lie your world, then .^ " demanded Van Hup- 
feldt, bitterly, and even Mrs. Mordaunt broke in with 
her moan: 

" Oh, Vi ! " 

"Let us end this distressing scene," went on Van 
Hupfeldt with a repressed indignation that was ex- 

218 



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 
made up." 

"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." 

t/ 

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 

219 



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 
proofs." 

"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- 
culty." 

"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 — " 

220 



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 
horses. 

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 

221 



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, 

222 



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. _, 

Yours, 

David. 

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 
ask. 

"To Miss Violet, sir." 

" Are you sure ^ " 

" Oh, yes, sir. Gave it to her myself." 

" And she read it ? " 

"Yes, sir." 

"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. 

223 



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 
Mansions. 

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 
love. 

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 

224 



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 

me. TT 

Harry. 

"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. 

225 



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 ! 



226 



CHAPTER XIX 

VIOLET DECIDES 

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." 

227 



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 
unusual sharpness: 

"Aloud, please!" 

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 

228 



Violet Decides 

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 - . , » ,, 

John Dibbin. 

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 

229 



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 
bit." 

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 
lovin' her." 

That was better. Violet thawed again. "I hardly 

230 



Violet Decides 

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' 
husband." 

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 
volubility. 

" Did you address her as * Miss Gwendoline,' then ? " 
"Yes, miss. That is the way on the stage, you 
know." 

231 



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 
knowledge." 

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 
days." 

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 
asked. 

"Henry, miss, after its father." 

232 



Violet Decides 

"But why * Henry,' since the father's name was 
Johann ? " 

"That is a puzzle, miss. I'm only tellin' you what 
I know." 

" 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 
child." 

A maid entered with a telegram which she handed 
to Violet. In a quiet country mansion the advent of a 

233 



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 
relatives' ailments. 

"What is it, Vi.^" she asked anxiously, while Van 
Hupfeldt wondered if any unoccupied fiend had 
tempted David Harcourt to interfere at this critical 
moment. 

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 
hand. 

234 



Violet Decides 

"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 
Violet. 

"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- 

235 



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 ? " 
she asked. 

"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. 
Mordaunt. 

"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 

236 



Violet Decides 

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- 

237 



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 
was sufficient. 

"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 

238 



Violet Decides 

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. 

It read: 

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. 

239 



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, 

Violet. 

"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 
accustomed haunts. 

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. 

240 



Violet Decides 

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 
money to-night. 

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 

unavoidable. -, 

Violet. 

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. 



241 



CHAPTER XX 

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 
his mates. 

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. 

242 



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." 

243 



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- 
fast." 

"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." 

244 



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 
against Strauss." 

"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 — " 

245 



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 

246 



David has One Visitor and Expects Others 

pair of really pretty feet, and lit a pipe. Then she 
continued : 

" 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 



cigarette.' 



"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- 
ment. 

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. 

247 



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.' 

248 



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 
her. 

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 

249 



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," 
he said. 

"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. 

250 



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 
ran: 

Miss Violet Mordaunt traveled to London this morning by the 

nine-eleven train. This is right. t-. 

*' Friend. 

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 

251 



The Late Tenant 

Violet had never sent him to Pangley to hunt for a 
missing baby. 

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, 

Violet Mordahnt. 

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. 

252 



David has One Visitor and Expects Others 

London is the biggest bundle of hay when you want to 
find anybody. 

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 

253 



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- 
dons. 

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 

254 



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 

255 



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. 



9.5Q 



CHAPTER XXI 

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 

257 



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 
by Jenny. 

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, 

258 



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?" 

259 



The Late Tenant 

"No, miss." 

" 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 
Violet. 

"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." 

260 



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 

261 



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- 
bin's oflBce. 

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?" 
asked Violet. 

"Let me see, miss; he went away on the fourth, 
and this is the ninth; practically six days, counting the 
journeys." 

" 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. 

262 



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 
called here.^" 

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 
man breathing. 

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 

263 



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 

264 



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 

^^5 



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 
Surbiton. 

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, 

266 



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 

267 



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 
up." 

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 

268 



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 
him bottled." 

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 

269 



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 
disobey her. 

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. 



270 



CHAPTER XXII 

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- 
stance ! 

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 
fateful message: 

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. ,-. 

David. 

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- 

271 



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 
living one. 

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 

272 



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." 

273 



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 
this before." 

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 
tremblingly. 

" 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. 

274 



Van Hupfeldt Makes Amends 

The doctor made light of the hemorrhage; but he 
detected a pulse which made him look up at the others 
gravely. 

" 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 
here." 

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- 
tion." 

" 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. 

275 



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. 

276 



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 

277 



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. 

278 



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 

279 



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 
Hupfeldt. 

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 

280 



Van Hupfeldt Makes Amends 

sister. This had become a mania with him. The 
unhappy man thought that, this way, he could win 
forgiveness. 

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- 
ance." 

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 
inheritance. 

281 



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. 

282 



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 
his cab. 

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- 
som. 

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 

283 



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 
ribaldry. 

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 
fortune. 

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. 

284 



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. 



THE END 



285 



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UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA LIBRARY 

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