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Full text of "The maids of Paradise a novel"

LIBRARY 

UNIVERSITY OP 
CALIFORNIA 
SAN OIEQO 



THE MAIDS OF 
PARADISE 



By 

Robert W. Chambers 

Author of " Cardigan " " The Conspirators ' 
"Maid-at-Arms " etc. 



Illustrated 




New York and London 

Harper & Brothers 

Publishers 1903 



Copyright, 1902, by ROBERT W. CHAMBBRS^ 

Illustrations by ANDRE CASTAIGNE 
Copyright, 1902, by P. F. COLLIER & SON. 



All rights reserved. 

Published September, 1903. 



^^ 

ero 

&MG) 



P R E FA C E 



AS far as the writer knows, no treasure-trains were 
actually sent to the port of Lorient from the 
arsenal at Brest. The treasures remained at Brest. 

Concerning the German armored cruiser Augusta, the 
following are the facts : About the middle of December 
she forced the blockade at Wilhelmshafen and ran for 
Ireland, where, owing to the complaisance of the British 
authorities, she was permitted to coal. 

From there she steamed towards Brest, capturing 
a French merchant craft off that port, another near 
Rochefort, and finally a third. That ended her active 
career during the war; a French frigate chased her 
into the port of Vigo and kept her there. 

To conclude, certain localities and certain charac 
ters have been sufficiently disguised to render recogni 
tion improbable. This is proper because " The Lizard " 
is possibly alive to-day, as are also the mayor of Para 
dise, Sylvia Elven, Jacqueline, and Speed, the latter 
having barely escaped death in the Virginius expedi 
tion. The original of Buckhurst now lives in New York, 
and remains a type whose rarity is its only recommen 
dation. 

Those who believe they recognize the Countess de 
Vassart are doubtless in error. Mornac, long dead, 

v 



PREFACE 

is safe in his disguise; Tric-Trac was executed on the 
Place de la Roquette, and celebrated in doggerel by 
an unspeakable ballad writer. There remains Scarlett ; 
dead or alive, I wish him well. 

ROBERT W. CHAMBERS. 

ORMOND, FLORIDA, Feb. 7, 1902. 



CONTENTS 

CHAP. PAGE 

I. AT THE TELEGRAPH 3 

II. THE GOVERNMENT INTERFERES . . . 21 

III. LA TRAPPE . . 34 

IV. PRISONERS 50 

V. THE IMMORTALS 65 

VI. THE GAME BEGINS 87 

VII. A STRUGGLE FORESHADOWED no 

VIII. A MAN TO LET 136 

IX. THE ROAD TO PARADISE 159 

X. THE TOWN-CRIER 171 

XI. IN CAMP 180 

XII. JACQUELINE 195 

XIII. FRIENDS 207 

XIV. THE PATH OF THE LIZARD 229 

XV. FOREWARNED 253 

XVI. A RESTLESS MAN 265 

XVII. THE CIRCUS 280 

XVIII. A GUEST-CHAMBER 303 

XIX. TRECOURT GARDEN .........318 

XX. THE SEMAPHORE 339 

XXI. LIKE HER ANCESTORS 353 

XXII. THE SECRET 381 

vii 



ILLUSTRATIONS 

'LOOK THERE!' SHE CRIED, IN TERROR". . Frontispiece 
'ACROSS THAT MEADOW,' SAID THE YOUNG 

GIRL" Facing p. 22 

'TO RIGHT AND LEFT, PRUSSIAN LANCERS WERE 

RIDING" " 62 

'A COMPANY OF TURCOS CAME UP " . . . . 74 

"HALT! HALT!' HE SHOUTED" 84 

'EVERY BRIDGE WAS GUARDED" .... 124 

'SISTERS OF CHARITY WERE GIVING FIRST AID" " 132 

'i WAS ON MY KNEES" " 298 



PART FIRST 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 



AT THE TELEGRAPH 

ON the third day of August, 1870, I left Paris in 
search of John Buckhurst. 

On the 4th of August I lost all traces of Mr. Buck- 
hurst near the frontier, in the village of Morsbronn. 
The remainder of the day I spent in acquiring that 
"general information" so dear to the officials in Paris 
whose flimsy systems of intelligence had already be 
gun to break down. 

On August 5th, about eight o'clock in the morning, 
the military telegraph instrument in the operator's 
room over the temporary barracks of the Third Hus 
sars clicked out the call for urgency, not the usual 
military signal, but a secret sequence understood only 
by certain officers of the Imperial Military Police. The 
operator on duty therefore stepped into my room and 
waited while I took his place at the wire. 

1 had been using the code-book that morning, pre 
paring despatches for Paris, and now, at the first 
series of significant clicks, I dropped my left middle 
finger on the key and repeated the signal to Paris, 
using the required variations. Then I rose, locked the 
door, and returned to the table. 

3 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

"Who is this?" came over the wire in the secret 
code; and I answered at once: "Inspector of Foreign 
Division, Imperial Military Police, on duty at Mors- 
bronn, Alsace." 

After considerable delay the next message arrived 
in the Morse code : " Is that you, Scarlett?" 

And I replied : " Yes. Who are you? Why do 
you not use the code? Repeat the code signal and 
your number. " 

The signal was repeated, then came the message : 
" This is the Tuileries. You have my authority to 
use the Morse code for the sake of brevity. Do you 
understand? I am Jarras. The Empress is here." 
Instantly reassured by the message from Colonel 
Jarras, head of the bureau to which I was attached, 
I answered that I understood. Then the telegrams be 
gan to fly, all in the Morse code : 

Jarras. " Have you caught Buckhurst?" 

I. "No." 

Jarras. " How did he get away?" 

I. " There's confusion enough on the frontier to cov 
er the escape of a hundred thieves." 

Jarras. " Your reply alarms the Empress. State 
briefly the present position of the First Corps." 

7. " The First Corps still occupies the heights in a 
straight line about seven kilometres long ; the plateau 
is covered with vineyards. Two small rivers are in 
front of us ; the Vosges are behind us ; the right flank 
pivots on Morsbronn, the left on Neeh wilier ; the centre 
covers Worth. We have had forty-eight hours' heavy 
rain." 

Jarras. " Where are the Germans?" 

I. " Precise information not obtainable at headquar 
ters of the First Corps." 

Jarras. " Does the Marshal not know where the Ger 
mans are?" 



AT THE TELEGRAPH 

/. " Marshal MacMahon does not know definitely." 

J arras. " Does the Marshal not employ his cavalry? 
Where are they?" 

/. "Septeuil's cavalry of the second division lie be 
tween Elsasshausen and the Grosser wald; Michel's 
brigade of heavy cavalry camps at Eberbach; the 
second division of cavalry of the reserve, General Vi- 
comte de Bonnemain, should arrive to-night and go 
into bivouac bet\yeen Reichshofen and the Grosser- 
wald. ' ' 

There was a long pause ; I lighted a cigar and waited. 
After a while the instrument began again: 

J arras. " The Empress desires to know where the 
chateau called La Trappe is." 

I. "La Trappe is about four kilometres from Mors- 
bronn, near the hamlet of Trois-Feuilles. " 

J arras. " It is understood that Madame de Vassart's 
group of socialists are about to leave La Trappe for 
Paradise, in Morbihan. It is possible that Buckhurst 
has taken refuge among them. Therefore you will 
proceed to La Trappe. Do you understand?" 

/. "Perfectly." 

J arras. " If Buckhurst is found you will bring him 
to Paris at once. Shoot him if he resists arrest. If 
the community at La Trappe has not been warned of 
a possible visit from us, you will find and arrest the 
following individuals : 

"Claude Tavernier, late professor of law, Paris 
School of Law; 

" Achille Bazard, ex-instructor in mathematics, Fon- 
tainebleau Artillery School ; 

"Dr. Leo Delmont, ex -interne, Charity Hospital, 
Paris ; 

" Mile. Sylvia Elven, lately of the Odeon ; 

"The Countess de Vassart, well known for her 
eccentricities. 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

" You will affix the government seals to the house 
as usual ; you will then escort the people named to 
the nearest point on the Belgian frontier. The Coun 
tess de Vassart usually dresses like a common peasant. 
Look out that she does not slip through your fingers. 
Repeat your instructions." 1 repeated them from my 
memoranda. 

There was a pause, then click ! click ! the instrument 
gave the code signal that the matter was ended, and 
I repeated the signal, opened my code-book, and began 
to translate the instructions into cipher for safety's 
sake. 

When I had finished and had carefully destroyed 
my first pencilled memoranda, the steady bumping 
of artillery passing through the street under the win 
dows drew my attention. 

It proved to be the expected batteries of the reserve 
going into park, between the two brigades of Raoult's 
division of infantry. I telegraphed the news to the 
observatory on the Col du Pigeonnier, then walked 
back to the window and looked out. 

It had begun to rain again ; down the solitary street 
of Morsbronn the artillery rolled, jolting ; cannoneers, 
wrapped in their wet, gray overcoats, limbers, caissons, 
and horses plastered with mud. The slim cannon, 
with canvas-wrapped breeches uptilted, dripped from 
their depressed muzzles, like lank monsters slavering 
and discouraged. 

A battery of Montigny mitrailleuses passed, gro 
tesque, hump -backed little engines of destruction. 
To me there was always something repulsive in the 
shape of these stunted cannon, these malicious metal 
cripples with their heavy bodies and sinister, filthy 
mouths. 

Before the drenched artillery had rattled out of 
Morsbronn the rain once more fell in floods, pouring 

6 



AT THE TELEGRAPH 

a perpendicular torrent from the transparent, gray 
heavens, and the roar of the downpour on slate roofs 
and ancient gables drowned the pounding of the pass 
ing cannon. 

Where the Vosges mountains towered in obscurity a 
curtain of rain joined earth and sky. The rivers ran 
yellow, brimful, foaming at the fords. The sema 
phore on the mountain of the Pigeonnier was not visi 
ble ; but across the bridge, where the Gunstett high 
way spanned the Sauer, gray masses of the Niederwald 
loomed through the rain. 

Somewhere in that spectral forest Prussian cavalry 
were hidden, watching the heights where our drenched 
divisions lay. Behind that forest a German army was 
massing, fresh from the combat in the north, where 
the tragedy of Wissembourg had been enacted only 
the day before, in the presence of the entire French 
army the awful spectacle of a single division of seven 
thousand men suddenly enveloped and crushed by 
seventy thousand Germans. 

The rain fell steadily but less heavily. I went back 
to my instrument and called up the station on the 
Col du Pigeonnier, asking for information, but got no 
reply, the storm doubtless interfering. 

Officers of the Third Hussars were continually tramp 
ing up and down the muddy stairway, laughing, jok 
ing, swearing at the rain, or shouting for their horses, 
when the trumpets sounded in the street below. 

I watched the departing squadron, splashing away 
down the street, which was now running water like a 
river; then I changed my civilian clothes for a hussar 
uniform, sent a trooper to find me a horse, and sat 
down by the window to stare at the downpour and 
think how best I might carry out my instructions to 
a successful finish. 

The colony at La Trappe was, as far as I could judge, 

7 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

a product of conditions which had, a hundred years 
before, culminated in the French Revolution. Now, 
in 1870, but under different circumstances, all France 
was once more disintegrating socially. Opposition to 
the Empire, to the dynasty, to the government, had 
been seething for years; now the separate crystals 
which formed on the edges of the boiling under-cur- 
rents began to grow into masses which, adhering to 
other masses, interfered with the healthy functions of 
national life. 

Until recently, however, while among the dissatisfied 
there existed a certain tendency towards cohesion, 
and while, moreover, adhesive forces mutually im 
pelled separate groups of malcontents to closer union, 
the government found nothing alarming in the men 
aces of individuals or of isolated groups. The Emperor 
always counted on such opposition in Paris; the pal 
ace of the Tuileries was practically a besieged place, 
menaced always by the faubourgs a castle before 
which lay eternally the sullen, unorganized multitude 
over which the municipal police kept watch. 

That opposition, hatred, and treason existed never 
worried the government, but that this opposition 
should remain unorganized occupied the authorities 
constantly. 

Groups of individuals who proclaimed themselves 
devotees of social theories interested us only when 
the groups grew large or exhibited tendencies to unite 
with similar groups. 

Clubs formed to discuss social questions were usu 
ally watched by the police; violent organizations were 
not observed very closely, but clubs founded upon mod 
erate principles were always closely surveyed. 

In the faubourgs, where every street had its bawling 
orator, and where the red flag was waved when the 
community had become sufficiently drunk, the gov- 

8 



AT THE TELEGRAPH 

ernment was quietly content to ignore proceedings, 
wisely understanding that the mouths of street ora 
tors were the safety-valves of the faubourgs, and that 
through them the ebullitions of the under-world escaped 
with nothing more serious than a few vinous shrieks. 
There were, however, certain secret and semi-secret 
organizations which caused the government concern. 
First among these came the International Society of 
Workingmen, with all its affiliations the " Internation 
ale," as it was called. In its wake trailed minor so 
cieties, some mild and harmless, some dangerous and 
secret, some violent, advocating openly the destruction 
of all existing conditions. Small groups of anarchists 
had already attracted groups of moderate socialistic 
tendencies to them, and had absorbed them or tainted 
them with doctrines dangerous to the state. 

In time these groups began to adhere even more 
closely to the large bodies of the people; a party was 
born, small at first, embodying conflicting communistic 
principles. 

The government watched it. Presently it split, as 
do all parties; yet here the paradox was revealed of 
a small party splitting into two larger halves. To 
one of these halves adhered the Red Republicans, 
the government opposition of the Extreme Left, the 
Opportunists, the Anarchists, certain Socialists, the 
so-called Communards, and finally the vast mass 
of the sullen, teeming faubourgs. It became a party 
closely affiliated with the Internationale, a colossal, 
restless, unorganized menace, harmless only because 
unorganized. 

And the police were expected to keep it harmless. 
The other remaining half of the original party began 
to dwindle almost immediately, until it became only 
a group. With one exception, all those whom the 
police and the government regarded as inclined to 

9 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

violence left the group. There remained, with this 
one exception, a nucleus of earnest, thoughtful people 
whose creed was in part the creed of the Internationale, 
the creed of universal brotherhood, equality before 
the law, purity of individual living as an example 
and an incentive to a national purity. 

To this inoffensive group came one day a young 
widow, the Countess de Vassart, placing at their dis 
posal her great wealth, asking only to be received 
among them as a comrade. 

Her history, as known to the police, was peculiar 
and rather sad: at sixteen she had been betrothed 
to an elderly, bull-necked colonel of cavalry, the no 
torious Count de Vassart, who needed what money 
she might bring him to maintain his reputation as 
the most brilliantly dissolute old rake in Paris. 

At sixteen, Eline de Tr6court was a thin, red-haired 
girl, with rather large, grayish eyes. Speed and I saw 
her once, sitting in her carriage before the Ministry 
of War a year after her marriage. There had been 
bad news from Mexico, and there were many handsome 
equipages standing at the gates of the war office, where 
lists of killed and wounded were posted every day. 

I noticed her particularly because of her reputed 
wealth and the evil reputation of her husband, who, 
it was said, was so open in his contempt for her that 
the very afternoon of their marriage he was seen pub 
licly driving on the Champs-Elysees with a pretty and 
popular actress of the Odeon. 

As I passed, glancing up at her, the sadness of her 
face impressed me, and I remember wondering how 
much the death of her husband had to do with it for 
his name had appeared in the evening papers under 
the heading, "Killed in Action." 

It was several years later before the police began 
to take an interest in the Comtesse Eline de Vassart. 

10 



AT THE TELEGRAPH 

She had withdrawn entirely from society, had founded 
a non-sectarian free school in Passy, was interested 
in certain charities and refuges for young working- 
girls, when on a visit to England, she met Karl Marx, 
then a fugitive and under sentence of death. 

From that moment social questions occupied her, 
and her doings interested the police, especially when 
she returned to Paris and took her place once more 
in Royalist circles, where every baby was bred from 
the cradle to renounce the Tuileries, the Emperor, 
and all his works. 

Serious, tender - hearted, charitable, and intensely 
interested in all social reforms, she shocked the con 
servative society of the noble faubourg, aroused the 
distrust of the government, offended the Tuileries, and 
finally committed the mistake of receiving at her own 
house that notorious group of malcontents headed by 
Henri Rochefort, whose revolutionary newspaper, La 
Marseillaise, doubtless needed pecuniary support. 

Her dossier for, alas ! the young girl already had a 
dossier was interesting, particularly in its summing- 
up of her personal character : 

" To the naive ignorance of a convent pensionnaire, 
she adds an innocence of mind, a purity of conduct, 
and a credulity which render her an easy prey to the 
adroit, who play upon her sympathies. She is dan 
gerous only as a source of revenue for dangerous men." 

It was from her salon that young Victor Noir went 
to his death at Auteuil on the loth of January; and 
possibly the shock of the murder and the almost uni 
versal conviction that justice under the Empire was 
hopeless drove the young Countess to seek a refuge 
in the country where, at her house of La Trappe, she 
could quietly devote her life to helping the desperately 
wretched, and where she could, in security, hold council 
with those who also had chosen to give their lives to 

II 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

the noblest of all works charity and the propaganda 
of universal brotherhood. 

And here, at La Trappe, the young aristocrat first 
donned the robe of democracy, dedicated her life and 
fortune to the cause, and worked with her own delicate 
hands for every morsel of bread that passed her lips. 

Now this was all very well while it lasted, for her 
father, the choleric old Comte de Tr6court, had died 
rich, and the young girl's charities were doubled, 
and there was nobody to stay her hand or draw the 
generous purse-strings ; nobody to advise her or to stop 
her. On the contrary, there were plenty of people 
standing around with outstretched, itching, and some 
times dirty hands, ready to snatch at the last centime. 

Who was there to administer her affairs, who among 
the generous, impetuous, ill - balanced friends that 
surrounded her? Not the noble-minded geographer, 
Elisee R6clus; not the fiery citizen -count, Rochefort; 
not the handsome, cultivated Gustave Flourens, al 
ready " fey " with the doom to which he had been born ; 
not that kindly visionary, the Vicomte de Coursay- 
Delmont, now discarding his ancient title to be known 
only among his grateful, penniless patients as Doctor 
Delmont ; and surely not Professor Ta vernier, nor yet 
that militant hermit, the young Chevalier de Gray, 
calling himself plain Monsieur Bazard, who chose de 
mocracy instead of the brilliant career to which Gram- 
mont had destined him, and whose sensitive and per 
haps diseased mind had never recovered from the 
shock of the murder of his comrade, Victor Noir. 

But the simple life at La Trappe, the negative pro 
test against the Empire and all existing social con 
ditions, the purity of motive, the serene and inspired 
self-abnegation, could not save the colony at La Trappe 
nor the young chatelaine from the claws of those who 
prey upon the innocence of the generous. 

T2 



AT THE TELEGRAPH 

And so came to this ideal community one John 
Buckhurst, a stranger, quiet, suave, deadly pale, a 
finely moulded man, with delicately fashioned hands 
and feet, and two eyes so colorless that in some lights 
they appeared to be almost sightless. 

In a month from that time he was the power that 
moved that community even in its most insignificant 
machinery. With marvellous skill he constructed out 
of that simple republic of protestants an absolute des 
potism. And he was the despot. 

The avowed object of the society was the advance 
ment of universal brotherhood, of liberty and equality, 
the annihilation of those arbitrary barriers called na 
tional frontiers in short, a society for the encourage 
ment of the millennium, which, however, appeared to 
be coy. 

And before the eyes of his brother dreamers John 
Buckhurst quietly cancelled the entire programme at 
one stroke, and nobody understood that it was can 
celled when, in a community founded upon equality 
and fraternity, he raised another edifice to crown it, 
a sort of working model as an example to the world, 
but limited. And down went democracy without a 
sound. 

This working model was a superior community 
which was established at the Breton home of the Coun 
tess de Vassart, a large stone house in the hamlet of 
Paradise, in Morbihan. 

An intimation from the'Tuileries interrupted a meet 
ing of the council at the house in Paradise ; an arrest 
was threatened that of Professor Reel us and the 
indignant young Countess was requested to retire to 
her chateau of La Trappe. She obeyed, but invited 
her guests to accompany her. Among those who ac 
cepted was Buckhurst. 

About this time the government began to take a 

13 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

serious interest in John Buckhurst. On the secret 
staff of the Imperial Military Police were always cer 
tain foreigners among others, myself and a young 
man named James Speed; and Colonel Jarras had 
already decided to employ us in watching Buckhurst, 
when war came on France like a bolt from the blue, 
giving the men of the Secret Service all they could at 
tend to. 

In the shameful indecision and confusion attending 
the first few days after the declaration of war against 
Prussia, Buckhurst slipped through our fingers, and 
I, for one, did not expect to hear of him again. But 
I did not begin to know John Buckhurst, for, within 
three days after he had avoided an encounter with 
us, Buckhurst was believed to have committed one 
of the most celebrated crimes of the century. 

The secret history of that unhappy war will never 
be fully written. Prince Bismarck has let the only 
remaining cat out of the bag ; the other cats are dead. 
Nor will all the strange secrets of the Tuileries ever 
be brought to light, fortunately. 

Still, at this time, there is no reason why it should 
not be generally known that the crown jewels of France 
were menaced from the very first by a conspiracy so 
alarming and apparently so irresistible that the Em 
peror himself believed, even in the beginning of the 
fatal campaign, that it might be necessary to send 
the crown jewels of France to the Bank of England 
for safety. 

On the igth of July, the day that war was declared, 
certain of the crown jewels, kept temporarily at the 
palace of the Tuileries, were sent under heavy guards 
to the Bank of France. Every precaution was taken ; 
yet the great diamond crucifix of Louis XI. was missing 
when the guard under Captain Siebert turned over the 
treasures to the governor of the Bank of France. 

14 



AT THE TELEGRAPH 

Instantly absolute secrecy was ordered, which I, for 
one, believed to be a great mistake. Yet the Emperor 
desired it, doubtless for the same reasons which al 
ways led him to suppress any affair which might give 
the public an idea that the opposition to the govern 
ment was worthy of the government's attention. 

So the news of the robbery never became public 
property, but from one end of France to the other the 
gendarmerie, the police, local, municipal, and secret, 
were stirred up to activity. 

Within forty-eight hours, an individual answering 
Buckhurst 's description had sold a single enormous 
diamond for two hundred and fifty thousand francs 
to a dealer in Strasbourg, a Jew named Fishel Cohen, 
who, counting on the excitement produced by the 
war and the topsy-turvy condition of the city, sup 
posed that such a transaction would create no interest. 

Mr. Cohen was wrong ; an hour after he had recorded 
the transaction at the Strasbourg Diamond Exchange 
he and the diamond were on their way to Paris, in 
charge of a detective. A few hours later the stone 
was identified at the Tuileries as having been taken 
from the famous crucifix of Louis XI. 

From Fishel Cohen's agonized description of the 
man who had sold him the diamond, Colonel Jarras 
believed he recognized John Buckhurst. But how on 
earth Buckhurst had obtained access to the jewels, 
or how he had managed to spirit away the cross from 
the very centre of the Tuileries, could only be explained 
through the theory of accomplices among the trusted 
intimates of the imperial entourage. And if there ex 
isted such a conspiracy, who was involved? 

It is violating no secret now to admit that every soul 
in the Tuileries, from highest to lowest, was watched. 
Even the governor of the Bank of France did not escape 
the attentions of the secret police. For it was certain 

15 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

that somebody in the imperial confidence had betrayed 
that confidence in a shocking manner, and nobody 
could know how far the conspiracy had spread, or who 
was involved in the most daring and shameless rob 
bery that had been perpetrated in France since Cardinal 
de Rohan and his gang stole the celebrated necklace 
of Marie Antoinette. 

Nor was it at all certain that the remaining jewels 
of the French crown were safe in Paris. The pre 
cautions taken to insure their safety, and the result 
of those precautions, are matters of history, but no 
body outside of a small, strangely assorted company 
of people could know what actually happened to the 
crown jewels of France in 1870, or what pieces, if any, 
are still missing. 

My chase after Buckhurst began as soon as Colonel 
Jarras could summon me; and as Buckhurst had last 
been heard of in Strasbourg, I went after him on a 
train loaded with red-legged, uproarious soldiers, who 
sang all day : 

" Have you seen Bismarck 

Drinking in the gay cafe, 
With that other brother spark 
Monsieur Badinguet?" 

and had drunk themselves into a shameful frenzy 
long before the train thundered into Avricourt. 

I tracked Buckhurst to Morsbronn, where I lost all 
traces of him; and now here I was with my orders 
concerning the unfortunate people at La Trappe, star 
ing out at the dismal weather and wondering where 
my wild-goose chase would end. 

I went to the door and called for the military telegraph 
operator, whose instrument I had been permitted to 
monopolize. He came, a pleasant, jaunty young fel 
low, munching a crust of dry bread and brushing the 
crumbs from his scarlet trousers. 

16 



AT THE TELEGRAPH 

" In case I want to communicate with you I'll signal 
the tower on the Col du Pigeonnier," I said. "Come 
up to the loft overhead." 

The loft in the house which had now been turned 
into a cavalry barracks was just above my room, a 
large attic under the dripping gables, black with the 
stains of centuries, littered with broken furniture, 
discarded clothing, and the odds and ends cherished 
by the thrifty Alsatian peasant, who never throws 
away anything from the day of his birth to the day 
of his death. And, given a long line of forefathers 
equally thrifty, and an ancient high-gabled house 
where his ancestors first began collecting discarded 
refuse, the attic of necessity was a marvel of litter 
and decay, among which generations of pigeons had 
built nests and raised countless broods of squealing 
squabs. 

Into this attic we climbed, edged our way toward 
a high window out of which the leaded panes had 
long since tumbled earthward, and finally stood to 
gether, looking out over the mountains of the Alsatian 
frontier. 

The rain had ceased; behind the Col du Pigeonnier 
sunshine fell through a rift in the watery clouds. It 
touched the rushing river, shining on foaming fords 
where our cavalry pickets were riding in the valley 
mist. 

Somewhere up in the vineyards behind us an in 
fantry band was playing; away among the wet hills 
to the left the strumming vibrations of wet drums 
marked the arrival of a regiment from goodness knows 
where; and presently we saw them, their gray over 
coats and red trousers soaked almost black with rain, 
rifles en bandouliere, trudging patiently up the muddy 
slope above the town. Something in the plodding 
steps of those wet little soldiers touched me. Bravely 

17 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

their soaked drums battered away, bravely they dragged 
their clumsy feet after them, brightly and gayly the 
breaking sun touched their crimson forage-caps and 
bayonets and the swords of mounted officers; but to 
me they were only a pathetic troop of perplexed peas 
ants, dragged out of the bosom of France to be huddled 
and herded in a strange pasture, where death watched 
them from the forest yonder, marking them for slaugh 
ter with near-sighted Teutonic eyes. 

A column of white cloud suddenly capped the rocks 
on the vineyard above. Bang! and something came 
whistling with a curious, bird-like cry over the village 
of Morsbronn, flying far out across the valley: and 
among the pines of the Prussian forest a point of flame 
flashed, a distant explosion echoed. 

Down in the street below us an old man came tottering 
from his little shop, peering sideways up into the sky. 

" II pleut, berger," called out the operator beside me, 
in a bantering voice. 

" It will rain bullets/' said the old man, simply, and 
returned to his shop to drag out a chair on the door- 
sill and sit and listen to the shots which our cavalry 
outposts were exchanging with the Prussian scouts. 

"Poor old chap/' said the operator; "it will be hard 
for him. He was with the Grand Emperor at Jena." 

"You speak as though our army was already on 
the run," I said. 

"Yes," he replied, indifferently, "we'll soon be on 
the run." 

After a moment I said: "I'm going to ride to La 
Trappe. I wish you would send those messages to 
Paris." 

" All right/' he said. 

Half an hour later I rode out of Morsbronn, clad 
in the uniform of the Third Hussars, a disguise sup 
posed to convey the idea to those at La Trappe that 

18 



AT THE TELEGRAPH 

the army and not the police were responsible for their 
expulsion. 

The warm August sunshine slanted in my face as I 
galloped away up the vineyard road and out on to the 
long plateau where, on every hillock, a hussar picket 
sat his wiry horse, carbine poised, gazing steadily 
toward the east. 

Over the sombre Prussian forests mist hung; away 
to the north the sun glittered on the steel helmets 
and armor of the heavy cavalry, just arriving. And 
pn the Col du Pigeonnier I saw tiny specks move, 
flags signalling the arrival of the Vicomte de Bonne- 
main with the "grosse cavalerie," the splendid cuiras 
sier regiments destined in a few hours to join the cui 
rassiers of Waterloo, riding into that bright Valhalla 
where all good soldiers shall hear the last trumpet 
call, "Dismount!" 

With a lingering glance at the rivers which separated 
us from German soil, I turned my horse and galloped 
away into the hills. 

A moist, fern - bordered wood road attracted me; I 
reasoned that it must lead, by a short cut, across the 
hills to the military highway which passed between 
Trois-Feuilles and La Trappe. So I took it, and pres 
ently came into four cross-roads unknown to me. 

This grassy carrefour was occupied by a flock of 
turkeys, busily engaged in catching grasshoppers; 
their keeper, a prettily shaped peasant girl, looked 
up at me as I drew bridle, then quietly resumed the 
book she had been reading. 

"My child/' said I, "if you are as intelligent as you 
are beautiful, you will not be tending other people's 
turkeys this time next year." 

"Merci, beau sabreur!" said the turkey-girl, raising 
her blue eyes. Then the lashes veiled them; she 
bent her head a little, turning it so that the curve of 

19 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

her cheeks gave io her profile that delicate contour 
which is so suggestive of innocence when the ears 
are small and the neck white. 

"My child/' said I, "will you kindly direct me, 
with appropriate gestures, to the military highway 
which passes the Chateau de la Trappe?" 



n 

THE GOVERNMENT INTERFERES 

" HPHERE is a short cut across that meadow/' said 

1 the young girl, raising a rounded, sun-tinted arm, 
bare to the shoulder. 

" You are very kind," said I, looking at her steadily. 

" And, after that, you will come to a thicket of white 
birches." 

"Thank you, mademoiselle." 

"And after that," she said, idly following with her 
blue eyes the contour of her own lovely arm, "you 
must turn to the left, and there you will cross a hill. 
You can see it from where we stand " 

She glanced at me over her outstretched arm. " You 
are not listening," she said. 

I shifted a troubled gaze to the meadow which stretch 
ed out all glittering with moist grasses and tufts of 
rain-drenched wild flowers. 

The girl's arm slowly fell to her side, she looked up 
at me again, I felt her eyes on me for a moment, then 
she turned her head toward the meadow. 

A deadened report shook the summer air the 
sound of a cannon fired very far away, perhaps on 
the citadel of Strasbourg. It was so distant, so in 
distinct, that here in this peaceful country it lingered 
only as a vibration; the humming of the clover bees 
was louder. 

Without turning my head I said : " It is difficult to 

21 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

believe that there is war anywhere in the world is it 
not, mademoiselle?" 

" Not if one knows the world/' she said, indifferently. 

" Do you know it, my child?" 

"Sufficiently," she said. 

She had opened again the book which she had been 
reading when I first noticed her. From my saddle 
I saw that it was Moliere. I examined her, in detail, 
from the tips of her small wooden shoes to the scarlet 
velvet-banded skirt, then slowly upward, noting the 
laced bodice of velvet, the bright hair under the butter 
fly coiffe of Alsace, the delicate outline of nose and 
brow and throat. The ensemble was theatrical. 

" Why do you tend turkeys?" I asked. 

"Because it pleases me," she replied, raising her 
eyebrows in faint displeasure. 

" For that same reason you read Monsieur Moliere?" 
I suggested. 

"Doubtless, monsieur." 

" Who are you?" 

"Is a passport required in France?" she replied, 
languidly. 

" Are you what you pretend to be, an Alsatian tur 
key tender?" 

" Parbleu! There are my turkeys, monsieur." 

" Of course, and there is your peasant dress and 
there are your wooden shoes, and there also, mademoi 
selle, are your soft hands and your accented speech 
and your plays of Moliere." 

" You are very wise for a hussar," she said. 

" Perhaps, " said I, " but I have asked you a question 
which remains parried." 

She balanced the hazel rod across her shoulders 
with a faintly malicious smile. 

" One might almost believe that you are not a hussar, 
but an officer of the Imperial Police," she said. 

22 



THE GOVERNMENT INTERFERES 

"If you think that/' said I, "you should answer 
my question the sooner unless you come from La 
Trappe. Do you?" 

"Sometimes." 

"Oh! And what do you do at the Chateau de la 
Trappe?" 

" I tend poultry sometimes," she replied. 

"And at other times?" 

"I do other things, monsieur." 

"What things?" 

"What things? Mon Dieu, I read a little, as you 
perceive, monsieur." 

"Who are you?" I demanded. 

"Oh, a mere nobody in such learned company/' 
she said, shaking her head with a mock humility 
that annoyed me intensely. 

" Very well," said I, conscious every moment of 
her pleasure in my discomfiture; "under the circum 
stances I am going to ask you to accept my escort to 
La Trappe; for I think you are Mademoiselle Elven, 
recently of the Odeon theatre." 

At this her eyes widened and the smile on her face 
became less genuine. " Indeed, I shall not go with 
you," she said. 

"I'm afraid I'll have to insist," said I. 

She still balanced her hazel rod across her shoulders, 
a smile curving her mouth. 

"Monsieur," she said, "do you ride through the 
world pressing every peasant girl you meet with such 
ardent entreaties? Truly, your fashion of wooing is 
not slow, but everybody knows that hussars are head 
long gentlemen 'Nothing is sacred from a hussar," 
she hummed, deliberately, in a parody which made me 
writhe in my saddle. 

"Mademoiselle," said I, taking off my forage-cap, 
"your ridicule is not the most disagreeable incident 

23 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

that I expect to meet with to-day. I am attempting 
to do my duty, and I must ask you to do yours." 

"By taking a walk with you, beau monsieur?" 

"I'm afraid so." 

"And if I refuse?" 

"Then," said I, amiably, "I shall be obliged to 
set you on my horse." And I dismounted and went 
toward her. 

"Set me on on that horse?" she repeated, with a 
disturbed smile. 

" Will you come on foot, then?" 

" No, I will not!" she said, with a click of her teeth. 

I looked at my watch it lacked five minutes to one. 

" In five minutes we are going to start," said I, cheer 
fully, and stood waiting, twisting the gilt hilt-tassels 
of my sabre with nervous fingers. 

After a silence she said, very seriously, " Monsieur, 
would you dare use violence toward me?" 

"Oh, I shall not be very violent," I replied, laugh 
ing. I held the opened watch in my hand so that she 
could see the dial if she chose. 

" It is one o'clock," I said, closing the hunting-case 
with a snap. 

She looked me steadily in the eyes. 

" Will you come with me to La Trappe?" 

She did not stir. 

I stepped toward her; she gave me a breathless, 
defiant stare; then in an instant I caught her up and 
swung her high into my saddle, before either she or 
I knew exactly what had happened. 

Fury flashed up in her eyes and was gone, leaving 
them almost blank blue. As for me, amazed at what 
I had done, I stood at her stirrup, breathing very fast, 
with jaws set and chin squared. 

She was clever enough not to try to dismount, woman 
enough not to make an awkward struggle or do any- 

24 



THE GOVERNMENT INTERFERES 

thing ungraceful. In her face I read an immense 
astonishment; fascination seemed to rivet her eyes 
on me, following my every movement as I shortened 
one stirrup for her, tightened the girths, and laid the 
bridle in her half-opened hand. 

Then, in silence, I led the horse forward through 
the open gate out into the wet meadow. 

Wading knee-deep through soaking foliage, I piloted 
my horse with its mute burden across the fields ; and, 
after a few minutes a violent desire to laugh seized 
me and persisted, but I bit my lip and called up a few 
remaining sentiments of decency. 

As for my turkey-girl, she sat stiffly in the saddle, 
with a firmness and determination that proved her 
to be a stranger to horses. I scarcely dared look at 
her, so fearful was I of laughing. 

As we emerged from the meadow I heard the cannon 
sounding again at a great distance, and this perhaps 
sobered me, for presently all desire of laughter left 
me, and I turned into the road which led through the 
birch thicket, anxious to accomplish my mission and 
have done with it as soon as might be. 

" Are we near La Trappe?" I asked, respectfully. 

Had she pouted, or sulked, or burst into reproaches, 
I should have cared little in fact, an outburst might 
have relieved me. 

But she answered me so sweetly, and, too, with 
such composure, that my heart smote me for what I 
had done to her and what I was still to do. 

"Would you rather walk?" I asked, looking up at 
her. 

"No, thank you," she said, serenely. 

So we went on. The spectacle of a cavalryman 
in full uniform leading a cavalry horse on which was 
seated an Alsatian girl in bright peasant costume 
appeared to astonish the few people we passed. One 

25 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

of these foot-farers, a priest who was travelling in 
our direction, raised his pallid visage to meet my eyes. 
Then he stole a glance at the girl in the saddle, and 
I saw a tint of faded color settle under his transparent 
skin. 

The turkey-girl saluted the priest with a bright 
smile. 

" Fortune of war, father/' she said, gayly. " Behold ! 
Alsace in chains." 

"Is she a prisoner?" said the priest, turning directly 
on me. Of all the masks called faces, never had I 
set eyes on such a deathly one, nor on such pale eyes, 
all silvery surface without depth enough for a spark 
of light to make them seem alive. 

" What do you mean by a prisoner, father?" I asked. 

"I mean a prisoner," he said, doggedly. 

" When the church cross-examines the government, 
the towers of Notre Dame shake," I said, pleasantly. 
" I mean no discourtesy, father ; it is a proverb in Paris." 

"There is another proverb," observed the turkey- 
girl, placidly. "Once a little inhabitant of hell stole 
the key to paradise. His punishment was dreadful. 
They locked him in." 

I looked up at her, perplexed and irritated, conscious 
that she was ridiculing me, but unable to comprehend 
just how. And my irritation increased when the priest 
said, calmly, "Can I aid you, my child?" 

She shook her head with a cool smile. 

" I am quite safe under the escort of an officer of the 
Imperial " 

"Wait!" I said, hastily, but she continued, "of the 
Imperial Military Police." 

Above all things I had not wanted it known that 
the Imperial Police were moving in this affair at La 
Trappe, and now this little fool had babbled to a strange 
priest of all people in the world! 

26 



THE GOVERNMENT INTERFERES 

" What have the police to do with this harmless 
child?" demanded the priest, turning on me so sudden 
ly that I involuntarily took a step backward. 

"Is this the confessional, father?" I replied, sharply. 
"Go your way in peace, and leave to the police what 
alone concerns the police." 

" Render unto Caesar," said the girl, quietly. " Good 
bye, father." 

Turning to look again at the priest, I was amazed 
to find him close to me, too close for a man with such 
eyes in his head, for a man who moved so swiftly and 
softly, and, in spite of me, a nervous movement of 
my hand left me with my fingers on the butt of my 
pistol. 

" What the devil is all this?" I blurted out. " Stand 
aside, father. Do you think the Holy Inquisition is 
back in France? Stand aside then! I salute your 
cloth!" 

And I passed on ahead, one hand on the horse's 
neck, the other touching the visor of my scarlet forage 
cap. Once I looked back. The priest was standing 
where I had passed him. 

We met a dozen people in all, I think, some of them 
peasants, one or two of the better class a country 
doctor and a notary among them. None appeared to 
know my turkey-girl, nor did she even glance at them ; 
moreover, all answered my inquiries civilly enough, 
directing me to La Trappe, and professing ignorance 
as to its inhabitants. 

"Why do all the people I meet carry bundles?" I 
demanded of the notary. 

" Mon Dieu, monsieur, they are too near the frontier 
to take risks," he replied, blinking through his silver- 
rimmed spectacles at my turkey-girl. 

" You mean to say they are running away from 
their village of Trois-Feuilles?" I asked. 

27 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

"Exactly," he said. "War is a rude guest for 
poor folk." 

Disgusted with the cowardice of the hamlet of Trois- 
Feuilles, I passed on without noticing the man's sneer. 
In a moment, however, he repassed me swiftly, go 
ing in the same direction as were we, toward La 
Trappe. 

" Wait a bit!" I called out. " What is your business 
in that direction, monsieur the notary?" 

He looked around, muttered indistinctly about hav 
ing forgotten something, and started on ahead of us, 
but at a sharp "Stop!" from me he halted quickly 
enough. 

v " Your road lies the other way," I observed, and, as 
he began to protest, I cut him short. 

"You change your direction too quickly to suit me," 
I said. " Come, my friend the weather-cock, turn your 
nose east and follow it or I may ask you some ques 
tions that might frighten you." 

And so I left him also staring after us, and I had 
half a mind to go back and examine his portfolio to 
see what a snipe-faced notary might be carrying about 
with him. 

When I looked up at my turkey-girl, she was sitting 
more easily in the saddle, head bent thoughtfully. 

"You see, mademoiselle, I take no chances of not 
finding my friends at home," I said. 

"What friends, monsieur?" 

"My friends at La Trappe." 

"Oh! And . . . you think that the notary we 
passed might have desired to prepare them for your 
visit, monsieur?" 

"Possibly. The notary of Trois-Feuilles and the 
Chateau de la Trappe may not be unknown to each 
other. Perhaps even mademoiselle the turkey-girl 
may number the learned Trappists among her friends." 

28 



THE GOVERNMENT INTERFERES 

" Perhaps/' she said. 

Walking on along the muddy road beside her, arm 
resting on my horse's neck, I thought over again of 
the chances of catching Buckhurst, and they seemed 
slim, especially as after my visit the house at La 
Trappe would be vacant and the colony scattered, or 
at least out of French jurisdiction, and probably set 
tled across the Belgian frontier. 

Of course, if the government ordered the expulsion 
of these people, the people must go ; but I for one found 
the order a foolish one, because it removed a bait that 
might attract Buckhurst back where we stood a chance 
of trapping him. 

But in a foreign country he could visit his friends 
freely, and whatever movement he might ultimately 
contemplate against the French government could 
easily be directed from that paradise of anarchists, 
Belgium, without the necessity of his exposing him 
self to any considerable danger. 

I was sorry that affairs had taken this turn. 

A little breeze began blowing; the scarlet skirt of 
my turkey-girl fluttered above her wooden shoes, and 
on her head the silk bow quivered like a butterfly on 
a golden blossom. 

"They say when the Lord fashioned the first maid 
of Alsace half the angels cried themselves ill with 
jealousy," said I, looking up at her. 

"And the other half, monsieur?" 

" The sterner half started for Alsace in a body. They 
were controlled with difficulty, mademoiselle. That 
is why St. Peter was given a key to lock them in, not 
to lock us poor devils out." 

After a silence she said, musing : " It is a curious: 
thing, but you speak as though you had seen better 
days." 

"No," I said, "I have never seen better days. I 

29 



am slowly rising in the world. Last year I was a 
lieutenant; I am now inspector." 

"I meant/' she said, scornfully, "that you had been 
well-born a gentleman." 

"Are gentlemen scarce in the Imperial Military 
Police?" 

"It is not a profession that honors a man." 

" Of all people in the world," said I, " the police would 
be the most gratified to believe that this violent world 
needs no police." 

"Monsieur, there is another remedy for violence." 

"And what may that remedy be, mademoiselle?" 

"Non-resistance absolute non-resistance," said the 
girl, earnestly, bending her pretty head toward me. 

"That is not human nature," I said, laughing. 

"Is the justification of human nature our aim in 
this world?" 

" Nor is it possible for mankind to submit to violence," 
I added. 

"I believe otherwise," she said, gravely. 

As we mounted the hill along a sandy road, bordered 
with pines and with cool, green thickets of broom and 
gorse, I looked up at her and said : " In spite of your 
theories, mademoiselle, you yourself refused to accom 
pany me." 

" But I did not resist your violence," she replied, 
smiling. 

After a moment's silence I said : " For a disciple of 
a stern and colorless creed, you are very human. I am 
sorry that you believe it necessary to reform the world." 

She said, thoughtfully: "There is nothing joyless 
in my creed above all, nothing stern. If it be fanat 
icism to desire for all the world that liberty of thought 
and speech ajid deed which I, for one, have assumed, 
then I am, perhaps, a fanatic. If it be fanaticism to 
detest violence and to deplore all resistance to violence, 

30 



THE GOVERNMENT INTERFERES 

I am a very guilty woman, monsieur, and deserve ill 
of the Emperor's Military Police." 

This she said with that faintly ironical smile hover 
ing sometimes in her eyes, sometimes on her lips, so 
that it was hard to face her and feel quite comfortable. 

I began, finally, an elaborate and logical argument, 
forgetting that women reason only with their hearts, 
and she listened courteously. To meet her eyes when 
I was speaking interrupted my train of thought, and 
often I was constrained to look out across the hills at 
the heavy, solid flanks of the mountains, which seemed 
to steady my logic and bring rebellious thought and 
wandering wisdom to obedience. 

I explained my theory of the acceptance of. three 
things human nature, the past, and the present. 
Given these, the solution of future problems must be 
a different solution from that which she proposed. 

At moments the solemn absurdity of it all came 
over me the turkey-girl, with her golden head bent, 
her butterfly coiffe a-flutter, discussing ethics with an 
irresponsible fly-by-night, who happened at that period 
of his career to carry a commission in the Imperial 
Police. 

The lazy road-side butterflies flew up in clouds be 
fore the slow-stepping horse; the hill rabbits, rising 
to their hind-quarters, wrinkled their whiskered noses 
at us; from every thicket speckled hedge-birds peered 
at us as we went our way solemnly deciding those 
eternal questions already ancient when the Talmud 
branded woman with the name of Lilith. 

At length, as we reached the summit of the sandy 
hill, "There is La Trappe, monsieur," said my turkey- 
girl, and once more stretched out her lovely arm. 

There appeared to be nothing mysterious about the 
house or its surroundings ; indeed, a sunnier and more 
peaceful spot would be hard to find in that land of 

31 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

hills, ravines, and rocky woodlands, outposts of those 
cloudy summits soaring skyward in the south. 

The house itself was visible through gates of wrought 
iron, swinging wide between pillars of stone, where 
an avenue stretched away under trees to a granite 
terrace, glittering in the sun. And under the terrace 
a quiet pool lay reflecting tier on tier of stone steps 
which mounted to the bright esplanade above. 

There was no porter at the gate to welcome me or 
to warn me back; the wet road lay straight in front, 
barred only by sunbeams. 

"May we enter?" I asked, politely. 

She did not answer, and I led the horse down that 
silent avenue of trees towards the terrace and the 
glassy pool which mirrored the steps of stone. 

Masses of scarlet geraniums, beds of living coals, 
glowed above the terrace. As we drew nearer, the 
water caught the blaze of color, reflecting the splendor 
in subdued tints of smothered flame. And always, 
in the pool, I saw the terrace steps, reversed, leading 
down into depths of sombre fire. 

"And here we dismount," said I, and offered my 
aid. 

She laid her hands on my shoulders; I swung her 
to the ground, where her sabots clicked and her silver 
neck-chains jingled in the silence. 

I looked around. How intensely still was everything 
the leaves, the water! The silent blue peaks on the 
horizon seemed to be watching me; the trees around 
me were so motionless that they also appeared to be 
listening with every leaf. 

This quarter of the world was too noiseless for me; 
there might have been a bird-note, a breeze to whisper, 
a minute stirring of unseen life but there was not. 

"Is that house empty?" I asked, turning brusquely 
on my companion. 



THE GOVERNMENT INTERFERES 

" The Countess de Vassart will give you your an 
swer/' she replied. 

"Kindly announce me, then/' I said, grimly, and 
together we mounted the broad flight of steps to the 
esplanade, above which rose the gray mansion of 
La Trappe. 
a 



Ill 

LA TRAPPE 

THERE was a small company of people gathered 
at a table which stood in the cool shadows of the 
chateau's eastern wing. Towards these people my 
companion directed her steps; I saw her bend close 
to the ear of a young girl who had already turned to 
look at me. At the same instant a heavily built, hand 
some man pushed back his chair and stood up, re 
garding me steadily through his spectacles, one hand 
grasping the back of the seat from which he had 
risen. 

Presently the young girl to whom my companion of 
the morning had whispered rose gracefully and came 
toward me. 

Slender, yet with that charming outline of body 
which youth wears as a promise, she moved across 
the terrace in her flowing robe of crape, and welcomed 
me with a gesture and a pleasant word, which I scarcely 
heard, so stupidly I stood, silenced by the absolute 
loveliness of the girl. Did I say loveliness? No, 
not that, but something newer, something far more 
fresh, far sweeter, that made mere physical beauty 
a thing less vital than the colorless shadow of a crystal. 

She was not only beautiful, she was Beauty itself, 
incarnate, alive, soul and body. Later I noticed that 
she was badly sunburned under the eyes, that her deli 
cate nose was adorned by an adorable freckle, and that 

34 



LA TRAPPE 

she had red hair. . . . Could this be the Countess de 
Vassart? What a change! 

I stepped forward to meet her, and took off my forage 
cap. 

"Is it true, monsieur, that you have come to arrest 
us?" she asked, in a low voice. 

" Yes, madame," I replied, already knowing that she 
was the Countess. She hesitated ; then : 

"Will you tell me your name? I am Madame de 
Vassart." 

Cap in hand I followed her to the table, where the 
company had already risen. The young Countess 
presented me with undisturbed simplicity ; I bowed to 
my turkey-girl, who proved, after all, to be the actress 
from the Odeon, Sylvia Elven; then I solemnly shook 
hands with Dr. Leo Delmont, Professor Claude Taver- 
nier, and Monsieur Bazard, ex-instructor at the Fon- 
tainebleau Artillery School, whom I immediately rec 
ognized as the snipe-faced notary I had met on the 
road. 

" Well, sir/' exclaimed Dr. Delmont, in his deep, 
hearty voice, "if this peaceful little community is 
come under your government's suspicion, I can only 
say, Heaven help France!" 

" Is not that what we all say in these times, doctor?" 
I asked. 

" When I say ' Heaven help France ! ' I do not mean 
Vive rEmpereur!'" retorted the big doctor, dryly. 

Professor Ta vernier, a little, gray -headed savant 
with used-up eyes, asked me mildly if he might know 
why they all were to be expelled from France. I did 
not reply. 

"Is thought no longer free in France?" asked Dr. 
Delmont, in his heavy voice. 

"Thought is free in France," I replied, "but its 
expression is sometimes inadvisable, doctor." 

35 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

" And the Emperor is to be the judge of when it is 
advisable to express one's thoughts?" inquired Pro 
fessor Tavernier. 

" The Emperor," I said, " is generous, broad-minded, 
and wonderfully tolerant. Only those whose attitude 
incites to disorder are held in check." 

"According to the holy Code Napoleon," observed 
Professor Tavernier, with a shrug. 

"The code kills the body, Napoleon the soul," said 
Dr. Delmont, gravely. 

"It was otherwise with Victor Noir," suggested 
Mademoiselle Elven. 

" Yes," added Delmont, " he asked for justice and 
they gave him . . . Pierre!" 

" I think we are becoming discourteous to our guest, 
gentlemen," said the young Countess, gently. 

I bowed to her. After a moment I said: "Doctor, 
if you do truly believe in that universal brotherhood 
which apparently even tolerates within its boundaries 
a poor devil of the Imperial Police, if your creed really 
means peace and not violence, suffering and patience, 
not provocation and revolt, demonstrate to the govern 
ment by the example of your submission to its decrees 
that the theories you entertain are not the chimeras 
of generous but unbalanced minds." 

" We never had the faintest idea of resisting," said 
Monsieur Bazard, the notary, otherwise the Chevalier 
de Grey, a lank, hollow-eyed young fellow, already 
marked heavily with the ravages of pulmonary disease. 
But the fierce glitter in his eyes gave the lie to his words. 

"Yesterday, Madame la Comtesse," I said, turning 
to the Countess de Vassart, " the Emperor could easily 
afford to regard with equanimity the movement in 
which you are associated. To - day that is no longer 
possible." 

The young Countess gave me a bewildered look. 

36 



LA TRAPPE 

"Is it true," she asked, "that the Emperor does 
not know we have severed all connection with the 
I nternationale ?" 

"If that is so," said I, "why does Monsieur Bazard 
return across the fields to warn you of my coming? 
And why do you harbor John Buckhurst at La Trappe? 
Do you not know he is wanted by the police?" 

" But we do not know why," said Dr. Delmont, bend 
ing forward and pouring himself a glass of red wine. 
This he drank slowly, eating a bit of black bread with it. 

"Monsieur Scarlett," said Mademoiselle Elven, sud 
denly, " why does the government want John Buck- 
hurst?" 

"That, mademoiselle, is the affair of the govern 
ment and of John Buckhurst," I said. 

"Pardon," interrupted Delmont, heavily, "it is the 
affair of every honest man and woman where a Bona 
parte is concerned." 

"I do not understand you, doctor," I said. 

"Then I will put it brutally," he replied. "We 
free people fear a family a prince of which is a common 
murderer." 

I did not answer; the world has long since judged 
the slayer of Victor Noir. 

After a troubled silence the Countess asked me if 
I would not share their repast, and I thanked her and 
took some bread and grapes and a glass of red wine. 

The sun had stolen into the corner where we had 
been sitting, and the Countess suggested that we 
move down to the lawn under the trees ; so Dr. Delmont 
and Professor Tavernier lifted the table and bore it 
down the terrace steps, while I carried the chairs to 
the lawn. 

It made me uncomfortable to play the r61e I was 
playing among these misguided but harmless people; 
that I showed it in my face is certain, for the Countess 

37 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

looked up at me and said, smilingly : " You must 
not look at us so sorrowfully, Monsieur Scarlett. It 
is we who pity you." 

And I replied, "Madame, you are generous," and 
took my place among them and ate and drank with 
them in silence, listening to the breeze in the elms. 

Mademoiselle Elven, in her peasant's dress, rested 
her pretty arm across her chair and sighed. 

" It is all very well not to resist violence," she said, 
" but it seems to me that the world is going to run over 
us some day. Is there any harm in stepping out of 
the way, Dr. Delmont?" 

The Countess laughed outright. 

" Not at all," she said. " But we must not attempt 
to box the world's ears as we run. Must we, doctor?" 

Turning her lovely, sun-burned face to me, she con 
tinued: "Is it not charming here? The quiet is 
absolute. It is always still. We are absurdly con 
tented here; we have no servants, you see, and we all 
plough and harrow and sow and reap not many 
acres, because we need little. It is one kind of life, 
quite harmless and passionless, monsieur. I have 
been raking hay this morning. It is so strange that 
the Emperor should be troubled by the silence of these 
quiet fields " 

The distress in her eyes lasted only a moment; she 
turned and looked out across the green meadows, 
smiling to herself. 

"At first when I came here from Paris," she said, 
" I was at a loss to know what to do with all this land. 
I owe much happiness to Dr. Delmont, who suggested 
that the estate, except what we needed, might be loaned 
free to the people around us. It was an admirable 
thought; we have no longer any poor among us " 

She stopped short and gave me a quick glance. 
"Please understand me, Monsieur Scarlett. I make 

38 



LA TRAPPE 

no merit of giving what I cannot use. That would 
be absurd." 

" The world knows, madame, that you have given 
all you have/' I said. 

" Then why is your miserable government sending 
her into exile?" broke in Monsieur Bazard, harshly. 

"I will tell you," I said, surprised at his tone and 
manner. " The colony at La Trappe is the head and 
centre of a party which abhors war, which refuses 
resistance, which aims, peacefully perhaps, at political 
and social annihilation. In time of peace this colony 
is not a menace; in time of war it is worse than a 
menace, monsieur." 

I turned to Dr. Delmont. 

" With the German armies massing behind the forest 
borders yonder, it is unsafe for the government to leave 
you here at La Trappe, doctor. You are too neutral." 

"You mean that the government fears treason?" de 
manded the doctor, growing red. 

"Yes," I said, "if you insist." 

The Countess had turned to me in amazement. 

"Treason!" she repeated, in an unsteady voice. 
"Is it treason for a small community to live quietly 
here in the Alsatian hills, harming nobody, asking 
nothing save freedom of thought? Is it treason for 
a woman of the world to renounce the world? Is it 
treason for her to live an unostentatious life and use 
her fortune to aid others to live? Treason! Monsieur, 
the word has an ugly ring to me. I am a soldier's 
daughter!" 

There was something touchingly illogical in the 
last words this young apostle of peace naively dis 
playing her credentials as though the mere word 
" soldier " covered everything. 

" Your government insults us all," said Bazard, be 
tween his teeth. 

39 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

Mademoiselle Elven leaned forward, her blue eyes 
shining angrily 

"Because I have learned that the boundaries of na 
tions are not the frontiers of human hearts, am I a 
traitor? Because I know no country but the world, 
no speech but the universal speech that one reads in 
a brother's eyes, because I know no barriers, no boun 
daries, no limits to human brotherhood, am I a traitor?" 

She made an exquisite gesture with half -open arms ; 
all the poetry of the Theatre Francais was in it. 

" Look at me ! I had all that life could give, save 
freedom, and that I have now freedom in thought, 
in speech, in action, freedom to love as friends love, 
freedom to love as lovers love. Ah, more! freedom 
from caste, from hate and envy and all suspicion, 
freedom to give, freedom to receive, freedom in life 
and in death! Am I a traitor? What do I betray? 
Shame on your Emperor!" 

The young Countess, too, had risen in her earnest 
ness and had laid one slender, sun-tanned hand upon 
the table. 

" War?" she said. " What is this war to us? The 
Emperor? What is he to us? We who have set a 
watch on the world's outer ramparts, guarding the 
white banner of universal brotherhood! What is 
this war to us!" 

"Are you not a native of France?" I asked, bluntly. 

"I am a native of the world, monsieur." 

"Do you mean to say that you care nothing for 
your own birthland?" I demanded, sharply. 

"I love the world all of it every inch and if 
France is part of the world, so is this Prussia that we 
are teaching our poor peasants to hate." 

"Madame," said I, "the women of France to-day 
think differently. Our Creator did not make love 
of country a trite virtue, but a passion, and set it in 

40 



LA TRAPPE 

our bodies along with our other passions. If in you 
it is absent, that concerns pathology, not the police!" 

I did not mean to wound her I was intensely in 
earnest; I wanted her to show just a single glimmer 
of sympathy for her own country. It seemed as though 
I could not endure to look at such a woman and know 
that the primal passion, born with those who had at 
least wept for their natal Eden, was meaningless to her. 

She had turned a trifle pale; now she sank back 
into her chair, looking at me with those troubled gray 
eyes in which Heaven itself had set truth and loyalty. 

I said: "I do not believe that you care nothing 
for France. Train and curb and crush your own 
heart as you will, you cannot drive out that splendid 
earth-born humanity which is part of us else we had 
all been born in heaven!" 

" Come," said Bazard, in a rage-choked voice, " let it 
end here, Monsieur Scarlett. If the government sends 
you here as a spy and an official, pray remember that 
you are not also sent as a missionary." 

My ears began to burn. " That is true," I said, look 
ing at the Countess, whose face had become expres 
sionless. "I ask your pardon for what I have said 
and . . . for what I am about to do." 

There was a silence. Then, in a low voice, I placed 
them under formal arrest, one by one, touching each 
lightly on the shoulder as prescribed by the code. 
And when I came to the Countess, she rose, without 
embarrassment. I moved my lips and stretched out 
my arm, barely touching her. I heard Bazard draw 
a deep breath. She was my prisoner. 

"I must ask you to prepare for a journey," I said. 
"You have your own horses, of course?" 

Without answering, Dr. Delmont walked away tow 
ards the stables; Professor Ta vernier followed him, 
head bent. 

41 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

"We shall want very little," said the Countess, 
calmly, to Mademoiselle Elven. " Will you pack up 
what we need? And you, Monsieur Bazard, will 
you be good enough to go to Trois-Feuilles and hire 
old Brauer's carriage?" Turning to me she said: "I 
must ask for a little delay; I have no longer a car 
riage of my own. We keep two horses to plough and 
draw grain ; they can be harnessed to the farm- wagon 
for our effects." 

Monsieur Bazard's hectic visage flushed, he gave 
me a crazy stare, and, for a moment, I fancied there 
was murder in his bright eyes. Doubtless, however, 
devotion to his creed of non-resistance conquered the 
impulse, and he walked quickly away across the 
meadows, his skeleton hands clinched under his loose 
sleeves. 

Mademoiselle Elven also departed tip-tap! up the 
terrace in her coquettish wooden shoes, leaving me 
alone with the Countess under the trees. 

"Madame," said I, "before I affix the government 
seals to the doors of your house I must ask you to 
conduct me to the roof of the east wing." 

She bent her head in acquiescence; I followed her 
up the terrace into a stone hall where the dark Flemish 
pictures stared back at me and my spurred heels jingled 
in the silence. Up, up, and still up, winding around a 
Gothic spiral, then through a passage under the battle 
ments and out across the slates, with wind and setting 
sun in my face and the sighing tree-tops far below. 

Without glancing at me the Countess walked to 
the edge of the leads and looked down along the sheer 
declivity of the stone fagade. Slender, exquisite, she 
stood there, a lonely shape against the sky, and I saw 
the sun glowing on her burnished red-gold hair, and 
her sun-burned hands, half unclosed, hanging at her 
side. 

42 



LA TRAPPE 

South, north, and west the mountains towered, 
purple as the bloom on October grapes; the white arm 
of the semaphore on the Pigeonnier was tinted with 
rose color; green velvet clothed the world, under a 
silver veil. 

In the north a spark of white fire began to flicker 
on the crest of Mount Tonnerre. It was the mirror 
of a heliograph flashing out across leagues of gray- 
green hills to the rocky pulpit of the Pigeonnier. 

I unslung my glasses and levelled them. The 
shining arm of the semaphore fell to a horizontal posi 
tion and remained rigid; down came the signal flags, 
up went a red globe and two cones. Another string of 
flags blossomed along the bellying halliards; the white 
star flashed twice on Mount Tonnerre and went out. . 

Instantly I drew a flag from my pouch, tied it to 
the point of my sabre, and stepped out along the pro 
jecting snout of a gargoyle. Below, under my feet, 
the tree-tops rustled in the wind. 

I had been flagging the Pigeonnier vigorously for 
ten minutes without result, when suddenly a dark 
dot appeared on the tower beneath the semaphore, 
then another. My glasses brought out two officers, 
one with a flag ; and, still watching them through the 
binoculars, I signalled slowly, using my free hand: 
" This is La Trappe. Telegraph to Morsbronn that 
the inspector of Imperial Police requires a peloton of 
mounted gendarmes at once." 

Then I sat down on the sun-warmed slates and 
waited, amusing myself by watching the ever-chang 
ing display of signal flags on the distant observatory. 

It may have been half a minute before I saw two 
officers advance to the railing of the tower and signal : 
"Attention, La Trappe!" 

Pencil and pad on my knee, I managed to use my 
field-glasses and jot down the message: 

43 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

"Peloton of mounted gendarmes goes to you as 
soon as possible. Repeat." 

I repeated, then raised my glasses. Another mes 
sage came by flag: "Attention, La Trappe. Uhlans 
reported near the village of Trois-Feuilles ; have you 
seen them?" 

Prussian Uhlans! Here in the rear of our entire 
army! Nonsense! And I signalled a vigorous: 

"No. Have you?" 

To which came the disturbing reply : " Be on your 
guard. We are ordered to display the semaphore at 
danger. Report is credited at headquarters. Re 
peat." 

I repeated. Raising my glasses again, I ^could 
plainly see a young officer, an unlighted cigar be 
tween his teeth, jotting down our correspondence, 
while the other officer who had flagged me furled up 
his flags and laid them aside, yawning and stretching 
himself to his full height. 

So distinctly did my powerful binoculars bring the 
station into range that I could even see the younger 
officer light a match, which the wind extinguished, 
light another, and presently blow a tiny cloud of smoke 
from his cigar. 

The Countess de Vassart had come up to where I 
was standing on the gargoyle, balanced over the gulf 
below. Very cautiously I began to step backward, 
for there was not room to turn around. 

" Would you care to look at the Pigeonnier, madame?" 
I asked, glancing at her over my shoulder. 

" I beg you will be careful," she said. " It is a use 
less risk to stand out there." 

I had never known the dread of great heights which 
many people feel, and I laughed and stepped back 
ward, expecting to land on the parapet behind me. 
But the point of my scabbard struck against the battle- 

44 



LA TRAPPE 

merits, forcing me outward; I stumbled, staggered, 
and swayed a moment, striving desperately to recover 
my balance; I felt my gloved fingers slipping along 
the smooth face of the parapet, my knees gave way 
with horror; then my fingers clutched something 
an arm and I swung back, slap against the parapet, 
hanging to that arm with all my weight. A terrible 
effort and I planted my boots on the leads and looked 
up with sick eyes into the eyes of the Countess. 

"Can you stand it?" I groaned, clutching her arm 
with my other hand. 

"Yes don't be afraid/' she said, calmly. "Draw 
me toward you; I cannot draw you over." 

"Press your knees against the battlements," I 
gasped. 

She bent one knee and wedged it into a niche. 

"Don't be afraid; you are not hurting me," she 
said, with a ghastly smile. 

I raised one hand and caught her shoulder, then, 
drawn forward, I seized the parapet in both arms, and 
vaulted to the slate roof. 

A fog seemed to blot my eyes; I shook from hair to 
heel and laid my head against the solid stone, while 
the blank, throbbing seconds past. The Countess 
stood there, shocked and breathless. I saw her sleeve 
in rags, and the snowy skin all bruised beneath. 

I tried to thank her ; we both were badly shaken, and 
I do not know that she even heard me. Her burnished 
hair had sagged to her white neck; she twisted it up 
with unsteady fingers and turned away. I followed 
slowly, back through the dim galleries, and presently 
she seemed to remember my presence and waited for 
me as I felt my way along the passage. 

"Every little shadow is a yawning gulf," I said. 
"My nerve is gone, madame. The banging of my 
own sabre scares me." 

45 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

I strove to speak lightly, but my voice trembled, 
and so did hers when she said : " High places always 
terrify me; something below seems to draw me. Did 
you ever have that dreadful impulse to sway forward 
into a precipice?" 

There was a subtle change in her voice and manner, 
something almost friendly in her gray eyes as she 
looked curiously at me when we came into the half- 
light of an inner gallery. 

What irony lurks in blind chance that I should owe 
this woman my life this woman whose home I had 
come to confiscate, whose friends I had arrested, who 
herself was now my prisoner, destined to the shame of 
exile ! 

Perhaps she divined my thoughts I do not know 
but she turned her troubled eyes to the arched win 
dow, where a painted saint imbedded in golden glass 
knelt and beat his breast with two heavy stones. 

"Madame," I said, slowly, "your courage and your 
goodness to me have made my task a heavy one. Can 
I lighten it for you in any manner?" 

She turned towards me, almost timidly. "Could 
I go to Morsbronn before before I cross the frontier? 
I have a house there; there are a few things I would 
like to take" 

She stopped short, seeing, doubtless, the pain of re 
fusal in my face. " But, after all, it does not matter. 
I suppose your orders are formal?" 

"Yes, madame." 

"Then it is a matter of honor?" 

"A soldier is always on his honor; a soldier's 
daughter will understand that." 

"I understand," she said. 

After a moment she smiled and moved forward, 
saying : 

"How the world tosses us flinging strangers into 

46 



LA TRAPPE 

each other's arms, parting brothers, leading enemies 
across each other's paths ! One has a glimpse of kindly 
eyes and never meets them again. Often and often 
I have seen a good face in the lamp-lit street that I 
could call out to, 'Be friends with me!' Then it is 
gone and I am gone Oh, it is curiously sad, Mon 
sieur Scarlett!" 

" Does your creed teach you to care for everybody, 
madame?" 

" Yes I try to. Some attract me so strongly some 
I pity so. I think that if people only knew that there 
was no such thing as a stranger in the world, the world 
might be a paradise in time." 

"It might be, some day, if all the world were as 
good as you, madame." 

" Oh, I am only a perplexed woman," she said, laugh 
ing. "I do so long for the freedom of all the world, 
absolute individual liberty and no law but that best 
of all laws the law of the unselfish." 

We had stopped, by a mutual impulse, at the head 
of the stone stairway. 

"Why do you shelter such a man as John Buck- 
hurst?" I asked, abruptly. 

She raised her eyes to me with perfect composure. 

"Why do you ask?" 

"Because I have come here from Paris to arrest 
him." 

She bent her head thoughtfully and laid the tips of 
her fingers on the sculptured balustrade. 

"To me," she said, "there's no such thing as a 
political crime." 

"It is not for a political crime that we want John 
Buckhurst," I said, watching her. "It is for a civil 
outrage." 

Her face was like marble; her hands tightened on 
the fretted carving. 

47 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

" What crime is he charged with?" she asked, without 
moving. 

"He is charged with being a common thief/' I said. 

Now there was color enough in her face, and to 
spare, for the blood-stained neck and cheek, and even 
the bare shoulder under the torn crape burned pink. 

"It is brutal to make such a charge!" she said. 
"It is shameful! " her voice quivered. "It is not 
true! Monsieur, give me your word of honor that the 
government means what it says and nothing more!" 

" Madame," I said, " I give my word of honor that 
no political crime is charged against that man." 

" Will you pledge me your honor that if he answers 
satisfactorily to that false charge of theft, the govern 
ment will let him go free?" 

"I will take it upon myself to do so," said I. " But 
what in Heaven's name is this man to you, madame? 
He is a militant anarchist, whose creed is not yours, 
whose propaganda teaches merciless violence, whose 
programme is terror. He is well known in the fau 
bourgs ; Belleville is his, and in the Chateau Rouge he 
has pointed across the river to the rich quarters, calling 
it the promised land! Yet here, at La Trappe, where 
your creed is peace and non-resistance, he is welcomed 
and harbored, he is deferred to, he is made executive 
head of a free commune which he has turned into a 
despotism . . . for his own ends!" 

She was gazing at me with dilated eyes, hands 
holding tight to the balustrade. 

"Did you not know that?" I asked, astonished. 

"No/' she said. 

"You are not aware that John Buckhurst is the 
soul and centre of the Belleville Reds?" 

"It is it is false!" she stammered. 

"No, madame, it is true. He wears a smug mask 
here; he has deceived you all." 

48 



LA TRAPPE 

She stood there, breathing rapidly, her head high. 

"John Buckhurst will answer for himself/' she said, 
steadily. 

"When, madame?" 

For answer she stepped across the hall and laid one 
hand against the blank stone wall. Then, reaching 
upward, she drew from between the ponderous blocks 
little strips of steel, colored like mortar, dropping them 
to the stone floor, where they rang out. When she had 
flung away the last one, she stepped back and set her 
frail shoulder to the wall; instantly a mass of stone 
swung silently on an unseen pivot, a yellow light 
streamed out, and there was a tiny chamber, illumi 
nated by a lamp, and a man just rising from his chair. 



IV 

PRISONERS 

T NSTANTLY I recognized in him the insolent priest 
1 who had confronted me on my way to La Trappe that 
morning. I knew him, although now he was wearing 
neither robe nor shovel-hat, nor those square shoes too 
large to buckle closely over his flat insteps. 

And he knew me. 

He appeared admirably cool and composed, glancing 
at the Countess for an instant with an interrogative 
expression; then he acknowledged my presence by 
bowing almost humorously. 

" This is Monsieur Scarlett, of the Imperial Military 
Police," said the Countess, in a clear voice, ending 
with that slightly rising inflection which demands an 
answer. 

"Mr. Buckhurst," I said, "I am an Inspector of 
Military Police, and I cannot begin to tell you what a 
pleasure this meeting is to me." 

"I have no doubt of that, monsieur," said Buck- 
hurst, in his smooth, almost caressing tones. "It, 
however, inconveniences me a great deal to cross the 
frontier to-day, even in your company, otherwise I 
should have surrendered with my confreres." 

" But there is no question of your crossing the fron 
tier, Mr. Buckhurst," I said. 

His colorless eyes sought mine, then dropped. They 
were almost stone white in the lamplight white as 
his delicately chiselled face and hands. 

50 



PRISONERS 

"Are we not to be exiled?" he asked. 

" You are not," I said. 

"Am I not under arrest?" 

I stepped forward and placed him formally under 
arrest, touching him slightly on the shoulder. He 
did not move a muscle, yet, beneath the thin cloth of 
his coat I could divine a frame of iron. 

"Your creed is one of non-resistance to violence," 
I said "is it not?" 

"Yes," he replied. I saw that gray ring around 
the pale pupil of his eyes contracting, little by little. 

"You have not asked me why I arrest you," I sug 
gested, "and, monsieur, I must ask you to step back 
from that table quick! don't move! not one fin 
ger!" 

For a second he looked into the barrel of my pistol 
with concentrated composure, then glanced at the 
table-drawer which he had jerked open. A revolver 
lay shining among the litter of glass tubes and papers 
in the drawer. 

The Countess, too, saw the revolver and turned an 
astonished face to my prisoner. 

"Who brought you here?" asked Buckhurst, quietly 
of me. 

"I did," said the Countess, her voice almost break 
ing. " Tell this man and his government that you are 
ready to face every charge against your honor! There 
is a dreadful mistake ; they they think you are " 

" A thief," I interposed, with a smile. " The govern 
ment only asks you to prove that you are not." 

Slowly Buckhurst turned his eyes on the Countess; 
the faintest glimmer of white teeth showed for an in 
stant between the gray lines that were his lips. 

"So you brought this man here?" he said. "Oh, 
I am glad to know it." 

"Then you cannot be that same John Buckhurst 

51 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

who stands in the tribune of the Chateau Rouge and 
promises all Paris to his chosen people/' I remarked, 
smiling. 

"No," he said, slowly, "I cannot be that man, nor 
can I" 

"Stop! Stand back from that table!" I cried. 

"I beg your pardon," he said, coolly. 

"Madame," said I, without taking my eyes from 
him, "in a community dedicated to peace, a revolver 
is an anachronism. So I think if you move I will 
shoot you, Mr. Buckhurst! so I think I had better 
take it, table-drawer and all " 

"Stop!" said Buckhurst. 

"Oh no, I can't stop now," said I, cheerfully, "and 
if you attempt to upset that lamp you will make a sad 
mistake. Now walk to the door! Turn your back! 
Go slowly! halt!" 

With the table-drawer under one arm and my pistol- 
hand swinging, I followed Buckhurst out into the hall. 

Daylight dazzled me; it must have affected Buck 
hurst, too, for he reached out to the stone balustrade 
and guided himself down the steps, five paces in front 
of me. 

Under the trees on the lawn, beside the driveway, 
I saw Dr. Delmont standing, big, bushy head bent 
thoughtfully, hands clasped behind his back. 

Near him, Tavernier and Bazard were lifting a few 
boxes into a farm-wagon. The carriage from Trois- 
Feuilles was also there, a stumpy Alsatian peasant 
on the box. But there were yet no signs of the escort 
of gendarmes which had been promised me. 

As Buckhurst appeared, w-alking all alone ahead 
of me, Dr. Delmont looked up with a bitter laugh. 
"So they found you, too? Well, Buckhurst, this is 
too bad. They might have given you one more day 
on your experiments." 

52 



PRISONERS 

"What experiments?" I asked, glancing at the bot 
tles and retorts in the table-drawer. 

"Nitrogen for exhausted soil/' .said the Countess, 
quietly. 

I set the table-drawer on the grass, rested my pistol 
on my hip, and looked around at my prisoners, who 
now were looking intently at me. 

"Gentlemen," said I, "let me warn you not to claim 
comradeship with Mr. Buckhurst. And I will show you 
one reason why." 

I picked up from the table-drawer a little stick about 
five inches long and held it up. 

" What is that, doctor? You don't know? Oh, you 
think it might be some sample of fertilizer containing 
concentrated nitrogen? You are mistaken, it is not 
nitrogen, but nitro-glycerine. " 

Buckhurst 's face changed slightly. 

"Is it not, Mr. Buckhurst?" I asked. 

He was silent. 

" Would you permit me to throw this bit of stuff at 
your feet?" And I made a gesture. 

The superb nerve of the man was something to 
remember. He did not move, but over his face there 
crept a dreadful pallor, which even the others noticed, 
and they shrank away from him, shocked and amazed. 

"Here, gentlemen," I continued, "is a box with 
a German label 'Oberlohe, Hanover/ The silicious 
earth with which nitro-glycerine is mixed to make 
dynamite comes from Oberlohe, in Hanover/' 

I laid my pistol on the table, struck a match, and 
deliberately lighted my stick of dynamite. It burned 
quietly with a brilliant flame, and I laid it on the grass 
and let it burn out like a lump of Greek fire. 

"Messieurs," I said, cocking and uncocking my 
pistol, "it is not because this man is a dangerous, 
political criminal and a maker of explosives that the 

53 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

government has sent me here to arrest him ... or 
kill him. It is because he is a common thief, ... a 
thief who steals crucifixes, . . . like this one " 

I brushed aside a pile of papers in the drawer and 
drew out a big gold crucifix, marvellously chiselled 
from a lump of the solid metal. ... "A thief," I con 
tinued, "who strips the diamonds from crucifixes, 
... as this has been stripped, . . . and who sells 
a single stone to a Jew in Strasbourg, named Fishel 
Cohen, . . . now in prison to confront our friend Buck- 
hurst." 

In the dead silence I heard Dr. Delmont's heavy 
breathing. Tavernier gave a dry sob and covered 
his face with his thin hands. The young Countess 
stood motionless, frightfully white, staring at Buck- 
hurst, who had folded his arms. 

Sylvia Elven touched her, but the Countess shook 
her off and walked straight to Buckhurst. 

" Look at me," she said. " I have promised you 
my friendship, my faith and trust and support. And 
now I say to you, I believe in you. Tell them where 
that crucifix came from." 

Buckhurst looked at me, long enough to see that 
the end of his rope had come. Then he slowly turned 
his deadly eyes on the girl before him. 

Scarlet to the roots of her hair, she stood there, utterly 
stunned. The white edges of Buckhurst 's teeth began 
to show again ; for an instant I thought he meant to 
strike her. Then the sudden double beat of horses' 
hoofs broke out along the avenue below, and, through 
the red sunset I saw a dozen horsemen come scampering 
up the drive toward us. 

"They've sent me lancers instead of gendarmes 
for your escort," I remarked to Dr. Delmont; at the 
same moment I stepped out into the driveway to sig 
nal the riders, raising my hand. 

54 



PRISONERS 

Instantly a pistol flashed then another and an 
other, and a dozen harsh voices shouted: "Hourra! 
Hourra! Preussen!" 

"Mille tonnerre!" roared Delmont; "the Prussians 
are here!" 

"Look out! Stand back there! Get the women 
back!" I cried, as an Uhlan wheeled hi's horse straight 
through a bed of geraniums and fired his horse-pistol 
at me. 

Delmont dragged the young Countess to the shelter 
of an elm ; Sylvia Elven and Ta vernier followed ; Buck- 
hurst ran to the carriage and leaped in. 

"No resistance!" bellowed Delmont, as Bazard 
snatched up the pistol I had taken from Buckhurst. 
But the invalid had already fired at a horseman, and 
had gone down under the merciless hoofs with a lance 
through his face. 

My first impulse was to shoot Buckhurst, and I 
started for him. 

Then, in front of me, a horse galloped into the table 
and fell with a crash, hurling his rider at my feet. I 
can see him yet sprawling there on the lawn, a lank, 
red-faced fellow, his helmet smashed in, and his spurred 
boots sticking fast in the sod. 

Helter-skelter through the trees came the rest of 
the Uhlans, shouting their hoarse " Hourra ! Hourra ! 
Preussen!" white-and-black pennons streaming from 
their lance-heads, pistols flashing in the early dusk. 

I ran past Bazard 's trampled body and fired at an 
Uhlan who had seized the horses which were attached 
to the carriage where Buckhurst sat. The Uhlan's 
horse reared and plunged, carrying him away at a 
frightful pace, and I do not know whether I hit him 
or not, but he dropped his pistol, and I picked it up and 
fired at another cavalryman who shouted and put 
his horse straight at me. 

55 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

Again I ran around the wagon, through a clump of 
syringa bushes, and up the stone steps to the terrace, 
and after me galloped one of those incomparable cos- 
sack riders an Uhlan, lance in rest, setting his wiry 
little horse to the stone steps with a loud " Hourra!" 

It was too steep a grade for the gallant horse. I flung 
my pistol in the animal's face and the poor brute reared 
straight up and fell backward, rolling over and over 
with his unfortunate rider, and falling with a tremen 
dous splash into the pool below. 

"In God's name stop that!" roared Delmont, from 
below. " Give up, Scarlett! They mean us no harm!" 

I could see the good doctor on the lawn, waving his 
handkerchief frantically at me; in a group behind 
stood the Countess and Sylvia ; Tavernier was kneeling 
beside Bazard's body; two Uhlans were raising their 
stunned comrade from the wreck of the table; other 
Uhlans cantered toward the foot of the terrace above 
which I stood. 

"Come down, hussar!" called an officer. "We re 
spect your uniform." 

"Will you parley?" I asked, listening intently for 
the gallop of my promised gendarmes. If I could 
only gain time and save Buckhurst. He was there 
in the carriage; I had seen him spring into it when 
the Germans burst in among the trees. 

"Foulez-fous fous rendre? Oui ou non?" shouted 
the officer, in his terrible French. 

"Ehbien, . . . non!" I cried, and ran for the chateau. 

I heard the Uhlans dismount and run clattering and 
jingling up the stone steps. As I gained the doorway 
they shot at me, but I only fled the faster, springing 
up the stairway. Here I stood, sabre in hand, ready 
to stop the first man. 

Up the stairs rushed three Uhlans, sabres shining 
in the dim light from the window behind me; I laid 

56 



PRISONERS 

my forefinger flat on the blade of my sabre and 
shortened my arm for a thrust then there came a 
blinding flash, a roar, and I was down, trying to rise, 
until a clinched fist struck me in the face and I fell 
flat on my back. 

Without any emotion whatever I saw an Uhlan 
raise his sabre to finish me; also I saw a yellow-and- 
black sleeve interposed between death and myself. 

"No butchery!" growled the big officer who had 
summoned me from the lawn. "Cursed pig, you'd 
sabre your own grandmother! Lift him, Sepp! You, 
there, Loisel! lift him up. Is he gone?" 

" He is alive, Herr Rittmeister," said a soldier, but 
his back is broken." 

" It isn't," I said. 

" Herr Je!" muttered the Rittmeister; "an eel, and a 
Frenchman, and nine long lives! Here, you hussar, 
what's the matter with you?" 

" One of them shot me ; I thought it was to be sabres," 
said I, weakly. 

"And why the devil wasn't it sabres!" roared the 
officer, turning on his men. "One to three and 
six more below! Sepp, you disgust me. Carry him 
out!" 

I groaned as they lifted me. " Easy there!" growled 
the officer, " don't pull him that way. Now, young 
hell-cat, set your teeth; you have eight more lives 
yet." 

They got me out to the terrace, and carried me to 
the lawn. One of the men brought a cup of water 
from the pool. 

" Herr Rittmeister," I said, faintly, " I had a prisoner 
here; he should be in the carriage. Is he?" 

The officer walked briskly over to the carriage. 
"Nobody here but two women and a scared peasant!" 
he called out. 

57 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

As I lay still staring up into the sky, I heard the 
Rittmeister addressing Dr. Delmont in angry tones. 
"By every law of civilized war I ought to hang you 
and your friend there! Civilians who fire on troops 
are treated that way. But I won't. Your foolish 
companion lies yonder with a lance through his mouth. 
He's dead; I say nothing. For you, I have no re 
spect. But I have for that hell-cat \vho did his duty. 
You civilians you go to the devil!" 

"Are not your prisoners sacred from insult?" asked 
the doctor, angrily. 

" Prisoners ! My prisoners ! You compliment your 
self ! Loisel! Send those impudent civilians into the 
house! I won't look at them! They make me sick!" 

The astonished doctor attempted to take his stand 
by me, offering his services, but the troopers hustled 
him and poor Tavernier off up the terrace steps. 

" The two ladies in the carriage, Herr Rittmeister?" 
said a cavalryman, coming up at salute. 

"What? Ladies? Oh yes." Then he muttered 
in his mustache : " Always around always every 
where. They can't stay there. I want that carriage. 
Sepp!" 

"At orders, Herr Rittmeister!" 

"Carry that gentleman to the carriage. Place 
Schwartz and Ruppert in the wagon yonder. Got 
straw you, Brauer, bring straw and toss in those 
boxes, if there is room. Where's Hofman?" 

"In the pool, Herr Rittmeister." 

" Take him out/' said the officer, soberly. " Uhlans 
don't abandon their dead." 

Two soldiers lifted me again and bore me away in 
the darkness. I was perfectly conscious. 

And all the while I was listening for the gallop of 
my gendarmes, not that I cared very much, now that 
Buckhurst was gone. 

58 



PRISONERS 

"Herr Rittmeister," I said, as they laid me in the 
carriage, "ask the Countess de Vassart if she will 
let me say good-bye to her." 

"With pleasure," said the officer, promptly. 
" Madame, here is a polite young gentleman who 
desires to make his adieux. Permit me, madame 
he is here in the dark. Sepp! fall back! Loisel, ad 
vance ten paces! Halt!" 

"Is it you, Monsieur Scarlett?" came an unsteady 
voice, from the darkness. 

"Yes, madame. Can you forgive me?" 

"Forgive you? My poor friend, I have nothing to 
forgive. Are you badly hurt, Monsieur Scarlett?" 

"I don't know," I muttered. 

Suddenly the chapel bell of La Trappe rang out a 
startling peal ; the Prussian captain snouted : " Stop 
that bell! Shoot every civilian in the house!" But 
the Uhlans, who rushed up the terrace, found the 
great doors bolted and the lower windows screened 
with steel shutters. 

On the battlements of the south wing a red radiance 
grew brighter; somebody had thrown w T ood into the 
iron basket of the ancient beacon, and set fire to it." 

"That teaches me a lesson!" bawled the enraged 
Rittmeister, shaking his fist up at the brightening 
alarm signal. 

He vaulted into his saddle, wheeled his horse and 
rode up to the peasant, Brauer, who, frightened to the 
verge of stupidity, sat on the carriage-box. 

" Do you know the wood-road that leads to Gunstett 
through the foot-hills?" he demanded, controlling 
his fury with a strong effort. 

The blank face of the peasant was answer enough; 
the Rittmeister glared around; his eyes fell on the 
Countess. 

"You know this country, madame?" 

59 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

"Yes, monsieur." 

" Will you set us on our way through the Gunstett 
hill-road?" 

"No." 

The chapel bell was clanging wildly; the beacon 
shot up in a whirling column of sparks and red smoke. 

"Put that woman into the carriage!" bellowed the 
officer. "I'm cursed if I leave her to set the whole 
country yapping at our heels! Loisel, put her in 
beside the prisoner! Madame, it is useless to resist. 
Hark! What's that sound of galloping?" 

I listened. I heard nothing save the clamor of the 
chapel bell. 

An Uhlan laid a heavy hand on the shoulder of 
the listening Countess ; she tried to draw back, but he 
pushed her brutally into the carriage, and she stumbled 
and fell into the cushions beside me. 

"Uhlans, into your saddles!" cried the Rittmeister, 
sharply. " Two men to the wagon ! a man on the box 
there! Here you, Jacques Bonhomme, drive carefully 
or I'll hang you higher than the Strasbourg clock. 
Are the wounded in the straw? Sepp, take the rider 
less horses. Peloton, attention ! Draw sabres! March! 
Trot!" 

Fever had already begun to turn my head ; the jolting 
of the carriage brought me to my senses at times; 
at times, too, I could hear the two wounded Uhlans 
groaning in the wagon behind me, the t tramping of 
the cavalry ahead, the dull rattle of lance butts in the 
leather stirrup-boots. 

If I could only have fainted, but I could not, and 
the agony grew so intense that I bit my lip through 
to choke the scream that strained my throat. 

Once the carriage stopped; in the darkness I heard 
somebody whisper: "There go the French riders!" 
And I fancied I heard a far echo of hoof-strokes along 

60 



PRISONERS 

the road to La Trappe. It might have been the fancy 
of an intermittent delirium; it may have bsen my 
delayed gendarmes I never knew. And the carriage 
presently moved on more smoothly, as though we 
were now on one of those even military high-roads 
which traverse France from Luxembourg to the sea. 

Which way we were going I did not know, I did 
not care. Absurdly mingled with sick fancies came 
flashes of reason, when I could see the sky frosted with 
silver, and little, bluish stars peeping down. At times 
I recognized the mounted men around me as Prussian 
Uhlans, and weakly wondered by what deviltry they 
had got into France, and what malignant spell they 
cast over the land that the very stones did not rise up 
and smite them from their yellow-and-black saddles. 

Once it was, I think, very near daybreak I came 
out of a dream in which I was swimming through 
oceans of water, drinking as I swam. The carriage 
had stopped ; I could not see the lancers, but presently 
I heard them all talking in loud, angry voices. There 
appeared to be some houses near by; I heard a dog 
barking, a great outcry of pigs and feathered fowls, 
the noise of a scuffle, a trampling of heavy boots, a 
shot! 

Then the terrible voice of the Rittmeister: "Hang 
that man to his barn gate! Pig of an assassin, I'll 
teach you to murder German soldiers!" 

A woman began to scream without ceasing. 

"Burn thai house!" bellowed the Rittmeister. 

Through the prolonged screaming I heard the crash 
of window-glass; presently a dull red light grew out 
of the gloom, brighter and brighter. The screaming 
never ceased. 

"Uhlans! Mount!" came the steady voice of the 
Rittmeister; the carriage started. Almost at the word 
the darkness ^turned to flame; against the raging 

61 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

furnace of a house on fire I saw the figure of a man, 
inky black, hanging from the high cross-bar of the 
cow-yard gate, and past him filed the shadowy horse 
men, lances slanting backward from their stirrups. 

The last I remember was seeing the dead man's 
naked feet for they hanged him in his night-shirt 
and the last I heard was that awful screaming from 
the red shadows that flickered across the fields of uncut 
wheat. 

For presently my madness began again, and again 
I was bathed to the mouth in cold, sweet waters, and 
I drank as I swam lazily in the sunshine. 

My next lucid interval came from pain almost un 
endurable. We were fording a river in bright star 
light; the carriage bumped across the stones, water 
washed and slopped over the carriage floor. To right 
and left, Prussian lancers were riding, and I saw the 
water boiling under their horses and their long lances 
aslant the stars. 

But there were more horsemen now, scores and 
scores of them, trampling through the shallow river. 
And beyond I could see a line of cannon, wallowing 
through the water, shadowy artillerymen clinging 
to forge and caisson, mounted men astride straining 
teams, tall officers on either flank, sitting their horses 
motionless in mid-stream. 

The carriage stopped. 

"Are you suffering?" came a low voice, close to my 
ear. 

"Madame, could I have a little of that water?" I 
muttered. 

Very gently she laid me back. I was entirely with 
out power to move below my waist, or to support my 
body. 

She filled my cap with river water and held it while 
I drank. After I had my fill she bathed my face, 

62 



PRISONERS 

passing her wet hands through my hair and over my 
eyes. The carriage moved on. 

After a while she whispered. 

"Are you awake?" 

"Yes, madame." 

" See the dawn how red it is on the hills ! There 
are vineyards there on the heights, . . . and a castle, 
. . . and soldiers moving out across the river mead 
ows." 

The rising sun was shining in my eyes as we came 
to a halt before a small stone bridge over which a col 
umn of cavalry was passing Prussian hussars, by 
their crimson dolmans and little, flat busbies. 

Our Uhlan escort grouped themselves about us to 
watch the hussars defile at a trot, and I saw the Ritt- 
meister rigidly saluting their standards as they bobbed 
past above a thicket of sabres. 

"What are these Uhlans doing?" broke in a nasal 
voice behind us; an officer, followed by two orderlies 
and a trumpeter, came galloping up through the mud. 

"Who's that a dead Frenchman?" demanded the 
officer, leaning over the edge of the carriage to give 
me a near-sighted stare. Then he saw the Countess, 
vstared at her, and touched the golden peak of his helmet. 

" At your service, madame," he said. " Is this offi 
cer dead?" 

"Dying, general," said the Rittmeister, at salute. 

"Then he will not require these men. Herr Ritt 
meister, I take your Uhlans for my escort. Madame, 
you have my sympathy; can I be of service?" 

He spoke perfect French. The Countess looked up 
at him in a bewildered way. "You cannot mean to 
abandon this dying man here?" she asked. 

There was a silence, broken brusquely by the Ritt 
meister. "That Frenchman did his duty!" 

"Did he?" said the general, staring at the Countess. 

63 



THE 'MAIDS OF PARADISE 

"Very well; I want that carriage, but I won't take it. 
Give the driver a white flag, and have him drive into 
the French lines. Herr Rittmeister, give your orders! 
Madame, your most devoted!" And he wheeled his 
beautiful horse and trotted off down the road, while 
the Rittmeister hastily tied a handkerchief to a stick 
and tossed it up to the speechless peasant on the box. 

"Morsbronn is the nearest French post!" he said, 
in French. Then he bent from his horse and looked 
down at me. 

" You did your duty!" he snapped, and, barely salut 
ing the Countess, touched spurs to -his mount and dis 
appeared, followed at a gallop by his mud -splashed 
Uhlans. 



THE IMMORTALS 

WHEN I became conscious again I was lying on 
a table. Two men were leaning over me ; a third 
came up, holding a basin. There was an odor of car 
bolic in the air. 

The man with the basin made a horrid grimace 
when he caught my eye ; his face was a curious golden 
yellow, his eyes jet black, and at first I took him for 
a fever phantom. 

Then my bewildered eyes fastened on his scarlet 
fez, pulled down over his left ear, the sky-blue Zouave 
jacket, with its bright-yellow arabesques, the canvas 
breeches, leggings laced close over the thin shins and 
ankles of an Arab. And I knew him for a soldier of 
African riflemen, one of those brave children of the 
desert whom we called "Turcos," and whose faith 
in the greatness of France has never faltered since 
the first blue battalion of Africa was formed under 
the eagles of the First Empire. 

" Hallo, Mustapha!" I said, faintly; " what are they 
doing to me now?" 

The Turco's golden-bronze visage relaxed ; he saluted 
me. 

"Macache sabir/' he said; "they picked a bullet 
from your spine, my inspector." 

An officer in the uniform of a staff-surgeon came 
around the table where I was lying. 

65 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

" Bon!" he exclaimed, eying me sharply through his 
gold-rimmed glasses. "Can you feel your hind -legs 
now, young man?" 

I could feel them all too intensely, and I said so. 

The surgeon began to turn down his shirt-sleeves 
and button his cuffs, saying, "You're lucky to have 
a pain in your legs." Turning to the Turco, he added, 
" Lift him!" And the giant rifleman picked me up and 
laid me in a long chair by the window. 

"Your case is one of those amusing cases," con 
tinued the surgeon, buckling on his sword and revol 
ver; " very amusing, I assure you. As for the bullet, I 
could have turned it out with a straw, only it rested 
there exactly where it stopped the use of those long 
legs of yours ! a fine example of temporary reflex 
paralysis, and no hemorrhage to speak of nothing 
to swear about, young man. By-the-way, you ought 
to go to bed for a few days." 

He clasped his short baldric over his smartly buttoned 
tunic. The room was shaking with the discharges 01 
cannon. 

"A millimetre farther and that bullet would have 
cracked your spine. Remember that and keep off 
your feet. Ouf! The cannon are tuning up!" as a 
terrible discharge shattered the glass in the window- 
panes beside me. 

" Where am I, doctor?" I asked. 

"Parbleu, in Morsbronn! Can't you hear the or 
chestra, zim-bam-zim! The Prussians are playing 
their Wagner music for us. Here, swallow this. How 
do you feel now?" 

" Sleepy. Did you say a day or two, doctor?" 

"I said a week or two perhaps longer. I'll look 
in this evening if I'm not up to my chin in amputations. 
Take these every hour if in pain. Go to sleep, my son. " 

With a paternal tap on my head., he drew on his 
66 



THE IMMORTALS 

scarlet, gold-banded cap, tightened the check strap, 
and walked out of the room. Down -stairs I heard 
him cursing because his horse had been shot. I never 
saw him again. 

Dozing feverishly, hearing the cannon through 
troubled slumber, I awoke toward noon quite free 
from any considerable pain, but thirsty and restless, 
and numbed to the hips. Alarmed, I strove to move 
my feet, and succeeded. Then, freed from the haunt 
ing terror of paralysis, I fell to pinching my legs with 
satisfaction, my eyes roving about in search of water. 

The room where I lay was in disorder; it appeared 
to be completely furnished with well-made old pieces, 
long out of date, but not old enough to be desirable. 
Chairs, sofas, tables were all fashioned in that poor 
design which marked the early period of the Consulate ; 
the mirror was a fine sheet of glass imbedded in 
Pompeian and Egyptian designs ; the clock, which had 
stopped, was a meaningless lump of gilt and marble, 
supported on gilt sphinxes. Over the bed hung a 
tarnished canopy broidered with a coronet, which, from 
the strawberry leaves and the pearls raised above them, 
I took to be the coronet of a count of English origin. 

The room appeared to be very old, and I knew the 
house must have stood for centuries somewhere along 
the single street of Morsbronn, though I could not 
remember seeing any building in the village which, 
judging from the exterior, seemed likely to contain 
such a room as this. 

The nearer and heavier cannon-shots had ceased, but 
the window-sashes hummed with the steady thunder 
of a battle going on somewhere among the mountains. 
Knowing the Alsatian frontier fairly well, I understood 
that a battle among the mountains must mean that 
our First Corps had been attacked, and that we were 
on the defensive on French soil. 

67 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

The booming of the guns was unbroken, as stead y 
and sustained as the eternal roar of a cataract. At 
moments I believed that I could distinguish the staccato 
crashes of platoon firing, but could not be certain in 
the swelling din. 

As I lay there on my long, cushioned chair, burning 
with that insatiable thirst which, to thoroughly ap 
preciate, one must be wounded, the door opened and a 
Turco soldier came into the room and advanced toward 
me on tip-toe. 

He wore full uniform, was fully equipped, crimson 
Chechia,, snowy gaiters, and terrible sabre-bayonet. 

I beckoned him, and the tall, bronzed fellow came 
up, smiling, showing his snowy, pointed teeth under 
a crisp beard. 

"Water, Mustapha/' I motioned with stiffened lips, 
and the good fellow unslung his blue water-bottle and 
set it to my burning mouth. 

"Merci, mon brave!" I said. "May you dwell in 
Paradise with Ali, the fourth Caliph, the Lion of God!" 

The Turco stared, muttered the Tekbir in a low voice, 
bent and kissed my hands. 

" Were you once an officer of our African battalions?" 
he asked, in the Arab tongue. 

" Sous - officier of spahi cavalry," I said, smiling. 
" And you are a Kabyle mountaineer from Constantine, 
I see." 

" It is true as I recite the fatha," cried the great fellow, 
beaming on me. "We Kabyles love our officers and 
bear witness to the unity of God, too. I am a marabout, 
my inspector, Third Turcos, and I am anxious to have 
a Prussian ask me who were my seven ancestors." 

The music of his long - forgotten tongue refreshed 
me ; old scenes and memories of the camp at Oran, the 
never-to-be-forgotten cavalry with the scarlet cloaks, 
rushed on me thick and fast ; incidents, trivial matters 

68 



THE IMMORTALS 

of the bazaars, faces oi comrades dead, came to me 
in flashes. My eyes grew moist, my throat swelled, I 
whimpered : 

"It is all very well, mon enfant, but Fm here with 
a hole in me stuffed full of lint, and you have your 
two good arms and as many legs with which to ex 
plain to the Prussians who your seven ancestors may 
be. Give me a drink, in God's name!" 

Again he held up the blue water-bottle, saying, 
gravely: "We both worship the same God, my in 
spector, call Him what we will." 

After a moment I said: "Is it a battle or a bous- 
culade? But I need not ask ; the cannon tell me enough. 
Are they storming the heights, Mustapha?" 

"Macache comprendir," said the soldier, dropping 
into patois. " There is much noise, but we Turcos are 
here in Morsbronn, and we have seen nothing but 
sparrows." 

I listened for a moment ; the sound of the cannonade 
appeared to be steadily receding westward. 

"It seems to me like retreat!" I said, sharply, 

"Ritrite? Quis qui ci^ ritrite?" 

I looked at the simple fellow with tears in my 
eyes. 

"You would not understand if I told you/' said I. 
" Are you detailed to look after me?" 

He said he was, and I informed him that I needed 
nobody; that it was much more important for every 
body that he should rejoin his battalion in the street 
below, where even now I could hear the Algerian bugles 
blowing a silvery sonnerie " Garde a vous !" 

" I am Salah Ben- Ahmed, a marabout of the Third 
Turcos/' he said, proudly, " and I have yet to explain 
to these Prussians who my seven ancestors were. 
Have I my inspector's permission to go?" 

He was fairly trembling as the imperative clangor 

69 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

of the bugles rang through the street ; his fine nostrils 
quivered, his eyes glittered like a cobra's. 

"Go, Salah Ben -Ahmed, the marabout/' said I, 
laughing. 

The soldier stiffened to attention; his bronzed hand 
flew to his scarlet fez, and, "Salute! O my inspector!" 
he cried, sonorously, and was gone at a bound. 

That breathless unrest which always seizes me when 
men are at one another's throats set me wriggling 
and twitching, and peering from the window, through 
which I could not see because of the blinds. Command 
after command was ringing out in the street below. 
"Forward!" shouted a resonant voice, and "Forward! 
forward! forward!" echoed the voices of the captains, 
distant and more distant, then drowned in the rolling of 
kettle-drums and the silvery clang of Moorish cymbals 
"" The band music of the Algerian infantry died away 
in the distant tumult of the guns ; faintly, at moments, 
I could still hear the shrill whistle of their flutes, the 
tinkle of the silver chimes on their toug ; then a blank, 
filled with the hollow roar of battle, then a clear note 
from their reeds, a tinkle, an echoing chime and noth 
ing, save the immense monotone of the cannonade. 

I had been lying there motionless for an hour, my 
head on my hand, snivelling, when there came a knock 
at the door, and I hastily buttoned my blood-stained 
shirt to the throat, threw a tunic over my shoulders, 
and cried, "Come in!" 

A trick of memory and perhaps of physical weak 
ness had driven from my mind all recollection of the 
Countess de Vassart since I had come to my senses 
under the surgeon's probe. But at the touch of her 
fingers on the door outside, I knew her I was cer 
tain that it could be nobody but my Countess, who 
had turned aside in her gentle pilgrimage to lift this 
jLazarus from the waysides of a hostile world. 

70 



THE IMMORTAL-S 

She entered noiselessly, bearing a bowl of broth and 
some bread ; but when she saw me sitting there with 
eyes and nose all red and swollen from snivelling she 
set the bowl on a table and hurried to my side. 

"What is it? Is the pain so dreadful?" she whis 
pered. 

" No oh no. I'm only a fool, and quite hungry, 
madame." 

She brought the broth and bread and a glass of the 
most exquisite wine I ever tasted a wine that seemed 
to brighten the whole room with its liquid sunshine. 

" Do you know where you are?" she asked, gravely. 

" Oh yes in Morsbronn." 

" And in whose house, monsieur?" 

"I don't know " I glanced instinctively at the 
tarnished coronet on the canopy above the bed. " Do 
you know, Madame la Comtesse?" 

"I ought to," she said, faintly amused. "I was 
born in this room. It was to this house that I desired 
to come before my exile." 

Her eyes softened as they rested first on one familiar 
object, then on another. 

"The house has always been in our family," she 
said. "It was once one of those fortified farms in the 
times when every hamlet was a petty kingdom like 
the King of Yvet6t's domain. Doubtless the ancient 
Tr6courts also wore cotton night-caps for their cor 
onets." 

"I remember now," said I, "a stone turret wedged 
in between two houses. Is this it?" 

" Yes, it is all that is left of the farm. My ancestors 
built this crazy old row of houses for their tenants." 

After a silence I said, " I wish I could look out of 
the window." 

She hesitated. " I don't suppose it could harm you?" 

"It will harm me if I don't," said I. 

71 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

She went to the window and folded up the varnished 
blinds. 

" How dreadful the cannonade is growing," she said. 
"Wait! don't think of moving! I will push you close 
to the window, where you can see." 

The tower in which my room was built projected 
from the rambling row of houses, so that my narrow 
window commanded a view of almost the entire length 
of the street. This street comprised all there was of 
Morsbronn; it lay between a double rank of houses 
constructed of plaster and beams, and surmounted by 
high -pointed gables and slated or tiled roofs, so fan 
tastic that they resembled steeples. 

Down the street I could see the house that I had left 
twenty-four hours before, never dreaming what my 
journey to La Trappe held in store for me. One or 
two dismounted soldiers of the Third Hussars sat in 
the doorway, listening to the cannon; but, except for 
these listless troopers, a few nervous sparrows, and 
here and there a skulking peasant, slinking off with a 
load of household furniture on his back, the street 
was deserted. 

Everywhere shutters had been put up, blinds closed, 
curtains drawn. Not a shred of smoke curled from 
the chimneys of these deserted houses; the heavy 
gables cast sinister shadows over closed doors and 
gates barred and locked, and it made me think of an 
unseaworthy ship, prepared for a storm, so bare and 
battened down was this long, dreary commune, lying 
there in the August sun. 

Beside the window, close to my face, was a small, 
square loop-hole, doubtless once used for arquebus 
fire. It tired me to lean on the window, so I contented 
myself with lying back and turning my head, and I 
could see quite as well through the loop-hole as from 
the window. 



THE IMMORTALS 

Lying there, watching the slow shadows crawling 
out over the sidewalk, I had been for some minutes 
thinking of my friend Mr. Buckhurst, when I heard 
the young Countess stirring in the room behind me. 

" You are not going to be a cripple?" she said, as I 
turned my head. 

"Oh no, indeed!" said I. 

"Nor die?" she added, seriously. 

" How could a man die with an angel straight from 
heaven to guard him! Pardon, I am only grateful, 
not impertinent. " I looked at her humbly, and she 
looked at me without the slightest expression. 

Oh, it was all very well for the Countess de Vassart 
to tuck up her skirts and rake hay, and live with a 
lot of half-crazy apostles, and throw her fortune to 
the proletariat and her ^reputation to the dogs. She 
could do it; she was Eline Cyprienne de Tre"court, 
Countess de Vassart ; and if her relatives didn't like 
her views, that was their affair; and if the Faubourg 
Saint -Germain emitted moans, that concerned the 
noble faubourg and not James Scarlett, a policeman 
attached to a division of paid mercenaries. 

Oh yes, it was all very well for the Countess de 
Vassart to play at democracy with her unbalanced 
friends, but it was also well for Americans to remember 
that she was French, and that this was France, and 
that in France a countess was a countess until she was 
buried in the family vault, whether she had chosen to 
live as a countess or as Doll Dairymaid. 

The young girl looked at me curiously, studying 
me with those exquisite gray eyes of hers. Pensive, 
distraite, she sat there, the delicate contour of her head 
outlined against the sunny window, which quivered 
with the slow boom! boom! of the cannonade. 

"Are you English, Monsieur Scarlett?" she asked, 
quietly. 

73 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

"American, madame." 

"And yet you take service under an emperor." 

"I have taken harder service than that." 

"Of necessity?" 

"Yes, madame." 

She was silent. 

" Would it amuse you to hear what I have been?" 
I said, smiling. 

" That is not the word," she said, quietly. " To hear 
of hardship helps one to understand the world." 

The cannonade had been growing so loud again 
that it was with difficulty that we could make our 
selves audible to each other. The jar of the discharges 
began to dislodge bits of glass and little triangular 
pieces of plaster, and the solid walls of the tower shook 
till even the mirror began to sway and the tarnished 
gilt sconces to quiver in their sockets. 

" I wish you were not in Morsbronn," I said. 

" I feel safer here in my own house than I should at 
La Trappe," she replied. 

She was probably thinking of the dead Uhlan and 
of poor Bazard; perhaps of the wretched exposure of 
Buckhurst the man she had trusted and who had 
proved to be a swindler, and a murderous one at that. 

Suddenly a shell fell into the court-yard opposite, 
bursting immediately in a cloud of gravel which rained 
against our turret like hail. 

Stunned for an instant, the Countess stood there 
motionless, her face turned towards the window. I 
struggled to sit upright. 

She looked calmly at me; the color came back into 
her face, and in .spite of my remonstrance she walked 
to the window, closed the heavy outside shutters and 
the blinds. As she was fastening them I heard the 
whizzing quaver of another shell, the racket of its 
explosion, the crash of plaster. 

74 




[Reproduced by permission of Unnpil A Co., of 

A COMPANY OF TUFCOS CAME UP " 



THE IMMORTALS 

" Where is the safest place for us to stay?" she asked. 
Her voice was perfectly steady. 

"In the cellar. I beg you to go at once." 

Bang! a shell blew up in a shower of slates and 
knocked a chimney into a heap of bricks. 

"Do you insist on staying by that loop-hole?" she 
j asked, without a quiver in her voice. 

" Yes, I do," said I. " Will you go to the cellar?" 

"No," she said, shortly. 

I saw her walk toward the rear of the room, hesitate, 
sink down by the edge of the bed and lay her face in 
the pillow. 

Two shells burst with deafening reports in the street ; 
the young Countess covered her face with both hands. 
Shell after shell came howling, whistling, whizzing into 
the village; the two hussars had disappeared, but a 
company of Turcos came up on a run and began to dig 
a trench across the street a hundred yards west of our 
turret. 

How they made the picks and shovels fly! Shells 
tore through the air over them, bursting on impact 
with roof and chimney; the Turcos tucked up their 
blue sleeves, spat on their hands, and dug away like 
terriers, while their officers, smoking the eternal ciga 
rette, coolly examined the distant landscape through 
their field-glasses. 

Shells rained fast on Morsbronn; nearer and nearer 
bellowed the guns; the plaster ceiling above my head 
cracked and fell in thin flakes, filling the room with 
an acrid, smarting dust. Again and again metal 
fragments from shells rang out on the heavy walls of 
our turret; a roof opposite sank in; flames flickered 
up through clouds of dust; a heavy yellow smoke, 
swarming with sparks, rolled past my window. 

Down the street a dull sound grew into a steady roar ; 
the Turcos dropped pick and shovel and seized their rifles. 

75 



TH MAIDS OF PARADISE 

" Garde 1 Garde a vous ! " rang their startled bugles ; 
the tumult increased to a swelling uproar, shouting, 
cheering, the crash of shutters and of glass, and 

"The Prussians'/' bellowed the captain. "Turcos 
charge!" 

His voice was lost ; a yelling mass of soldiery burst 
into view; spiked helmets and bayonets glittering 
through the smoke, the Turcos were whirled about 
like brilliant butterflies in a tornado; the fusillade 
swelled to a stupefying din, exploding in one terrible 
crash; and, wrapped in lightning, the Prussian onset 
passed. 

From the stairs below came the sound of a voiceless 
struggle, the trample and panting and clicking of 
steel, till of a sudden a voice burst out into a dreadful 
screaming. A shot followed silence another shot 
then the stairs outside shook under the rush of mount 
ing men. 

As the door burst open I felt a touch on my arm; 
the Countess de Vassart stood erect and pale, one 
slender, protecting hand resting lightly on my shoul 
der; a lieutenant of Prussian infantry confronted us; 
straight, heavy sword drawn, rigid, uncompromising, 
in his faultless gray-and-black uniform, with its tight, 
silver waist-sash. 

" I do not have you thrown into the street," he said 
to me, in excellent French, "because there has been 
no firing from the windows in this village. Other 
wise other measures. Be at ease, madame, I shall 
not harm your invalid." 

He glanced at me out of his near-sighted eyes, dropped 
the point of his sword to the stone floor, and slowly 
caressed his small, blond mustache. 

"How many troops passed through here yesterdaj^ 
morning?" he asked. 

I was silent. 

76 



THE IMMORTALS 

"There was artillery, was there not?" 

I only looked at him. 

"Do you hear?" he repeated, sharply. "You are a 
prisoner, and I am questioning you." 

"You have that useless privilege," I observed. 

" If you are insolent I will have you shot!" he retort 
ed, staring haughtily at me. 

I glanced out of the window. 

There was a pause; the hand of the Countess de 
Vassart trembled on my shoulder. 

Under the window strident Prussian bugles were 
blowing a harsh summons; the young officer stepped 
to the loop-hole and looked out, then hastily removed 
his helmet and thrust his blond head through the 
smoky aperture. "March those prisoners in below!" 
he shouted down. 

Then he withdrew his head, put on his polished 
helmet of black leather, faced with the glittering Prus 
sian eagle, and tightened the gold-scaled cheek-guard. 

A moment later came a trample of feet on the land 
ing outside, the door was flung open, and three prisoners 
were brutally pushed into the room. 

I tried to turn and look at them; they stood in the 
dusk near the bed, but I could only make out that 
one was a Turco, his jacket in rags, his canvas breeches 
covered with mud. 

Again the lieutenant came to the loop-hole and 
glanced out, then shook his head, motioning the sol 
diers back. 

"It is too high and the arc of fire too limited," he 
said, shortly. "Detail four men to hold the stairs, 
ten men and a sergeant in the room below, and you'd 
better take your prisoners down there. Bayonet that 
Turco tiger if he shows his teeth again. March!" 

As the prisoners filed out I turned once more and 
thought I recognized Salah Ben - Ahmed in the di- 

77 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

shevelled Turco, but could not be certain, so disfigured 
and tattered the soldier appeared. 

"Here, you hussar prisoner!" cried the lieutenant, 
pointing at me with his white -gloved finger, "turn 
your head and busy yourself with what concerns you. 
And you, madame," he added, pompously, "see that 
you give us no trouble and stay in this room until 
you have permission to leave." 

"Are are you speaking to me, monsieur?" ask 
ed the Countess, amazed. Then she rose, exasper 
ated. 

"Your insolence disgraces your uniform," she said. 
" Go to your French prisoners and learn the rudiments 
of courtesy!" 

The officer reddened to his colorless eyebrows; his 
little, near-sighted eyes became stupid and fixed; he 
smoothed the blond down on his upper lip with hesitat 
ing fingers. 

Suddenly he turned and marched out, slamming the 
door violently behind him. 

At this impudence the eyes of the Countess began 
to sparkle, and an angry flush mounted to her cheeks. 

"Madame," said I, "he is only a German boy, un 
balanced by his own importance and his first battle. 
But he will never forget this lesson; let him digest it 
in his own manner." 

And he did, for presently there came a polite knock 
at the door, and the lieutenant reappeared, bowing 
rigidly, one hand on his sword-hilt, the other holding 
his helmet by the gilt spike. 

"Lieutenant von Eberbach present to apologize," 
he said, jerkily, red as a beet. "Begs permission to 
take a half-dozen of wine; men very thirsty." 

"Lieutenant von Eberbach may take the wine," 
said the Countess, calmly. 

"Rudeness without excuse!" muttered the boy; 
78 



THE IMMORTALS 

"beg the graciously well-born lady not to judge my 
regiment or my country by it. Can Lieutenant von 
Eberbach make amends?" 

" The Lieutenant has made them/' said the Countess. 
"The merciful treatment of French prisoners will 
prove his sincerity." 

The lad made another rigid bow and got himself 
out of the door with more or less dignity, and the Coun 
tess drew a chair beside my sofa-chair and sat down, 
eyes still bright with the cinders of a wrath I had never 
suspected in her. 

Together we looked down into the street. 

Under the window the flat, high-pitched drums began 
to rattle; deep voices shouted; the whole street un 
dulated with masses of gray - and - black uniforms, 
moving forward through the smoke. A superb reg 
imental band began to play ; the troops broke out into 
heavy cheering. 

" Vorwarts ! Vorwarts ! ' ' came the steady commands. 
The band passed with a dull flash of instruments; a 
thousand brass helmet-spikes pricked the smoke; the 
tread of the Prussian infantry shook the earth. 

"The invasion has begun," I said. 

Her face was expressionless, save for the brightness 
of her eyes. 

And now another band sounded, playing "I Had 
a Comrade!" and the whole street began to ring with 
the noble marching-song of the coming regiment. 

"Bavarian infantry," I whispered, as the light-blue 
columns wheeled around the curve and came swinging 
up the street; for I could see the yellow crown on the 
collars of their tunics, and the heavy leather helmets, 
surmounted by chenille rolls. 

Behind them trotted a squadron of Uhlans on their 
dainty horses, under a canopy of little black-and-white 
flags fluttering from the points of their lances. 

79 



THE MAIDS OP PARADISE 

"Uhlans/' I murmured. I heard the faint click of 
her teeth closing tightly. 

Hussars in crimson tunics, armed with curious 
weapons, half carbine, half pistol, followed the Uh 
lans, filling the smoky street with a flood of gorgeous 
color. 

Suddenly a company of Saxon pioneers arrived on 
the double-quick, halted, fell out, and began to break 
down the locked doors of the houses on either side of 
the street. At the same time Prussian infantry came 
hurrying past, dragging behind them dozens of vehi 
cles, long hay- wagons, gardeners' carts, heavy wheel 
barrows, even a dingy private carriage, with tarnished 
lamps, rocking crazily on rusty springs. 

The soldiers wheeled these wagons into a double line, 
forming a complete chain across the street, where the 
Turcos had commenced to dig their ditch and breast 
works a barricade high enough to check a charge, 
and cunningly arranged, too, for the wooden abatis 
could not be seen from the eastern end of the street, 
where a charge of French infantry or cavalry must 
enter Morsbronn if it entered at all. 

We watched the building of the barricade, fascinated. 
Soldiers entered the houses on either side of the street, 
only to reappear at the windows and thrust out helmet- 
ed heads. More soldiers came, running heavily the 
road swarmed with them; some threw themselves flat 
under the wagons, some knelt, thrusting their needle- 
guns through the wheel-spokes ; others remained stand 
ing, rifles resting over the rails of the long, skeleton 
hay- wagons. 

"Something is going to happen," I said, as a group 
of smartly uniformed officers appeared on the roof of 
the opposite house and hastily scrambled to the ridge 
pole. 

Something was surely going to happen; the officers 

80 



THE IMMORTALS 

were using their field-glasses and pointing excitedly 
across the roof-tops; the windows of every house as 
far as I could see were black with helmets ; a regiment 
in column came up on the double, halted, disintegrated, 
melting away behind walls, into yards, doorways, gar 
dens. 

A colonel of infantry, splendidly mounted, drew bri 
dle under our loop-hole and looked up at the officers on 
the roof across the way. 

" Attention, you up there!" he shouted. "Is it in 
fantry?" 

"No!" bawled an officer, hollowed hand to his eheek. 
"It's their brigade of heavy cavalry coming like an 
earthquake!" 

"The cuirassiers!" I cried, electrified. "It's Mi 
chel's cuirassiers, madame! And oh, the barricade!" 
I groaned, twisting my fingers in helpless rage. 
" They'll be caught in a trap ; they'll die like flies in 
that street." 

"This is horrible!" muttered the girl. " Don't they 
know the street is blocked? Can't they find out before 
they ride into this ravine below us? Will they all be 
killed here under our windows?" 

She sprang to her feet, stood a moment, then stepped 
swiftly forward into the angle of the tower. 

"Look there!" she cried, in terror. 

"Push my chair quick!" I said. She dragged it 
forward. 

An old house across the street, which had been on 
fire, had collapsed into a mere mound of slate, charred 
beams, and plaster. Through the brown heat which 
quivered above the ruins I could see out into the coun 
try. And what I saw was a line of hills, crowned 
with smoke, a rolling stretch of meadow below, set 
here and there with shot-torn trees and hop-poles ; and 
over this uneven ground two regiments of French cui- 
6 81 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

rassiers and two squadrons of lancers moving slowly 
forward as though on parade. 

Above them, around them, clouds of smoke puffed 
up suddenly and floated away the shells from Prus 
sian batteries on the heights. Long, rippling crashes 
broke out, belting the fields with smoky breastworks, 
where a Prussian infantry regiment, knee -deep in 
smoke, was firing on the advancing cavalry. 

The cuirassiers moved on slowly, the sun a blind 
ing sheet of fire on their armor ; now and then a horse 
tossed his beautiful head, now and then a steel helmet 
turned, flashing. 

Grief - stricken, I groaned aloud: "Madame, there 
rides the finest cavalry in the world ! to annihila 
tion." 

How could I know that they were coming deliberately 
to sacrifice themselves? that they rode with death 
heavy on their souls, knowing well there was no hope, 
understanding that they were to die to save the frag 
ments of a beaten army? 

Yet something of this I suspected, for already I 
saw the long, dark Prussian lines overlapping the 
French flank ; I heard the French mitrailleuses rattling 
through the cannon's thunder, and I saw an entire 
French division, which I did not then know to be 
Lartigue's, falling back across the hills. 

And straight into the entire Prussian army rode 
the "grosse cavallerie" and the lancers. 

" They are doomed, like their fathers," I muttered 
"sons of the cuirassiers of Waterloo. See what men 
can do for France!" 

The young Countess started and stood up very 
straight. 

"Look, madame!" I said, harshly "look on the 
men of France! You say you do not understand 
the narrow love of country! Look!" 

82 



THE IMMORTALS 

"It is too pitiful, too horrible," she said, hoarsely. 
"How the horses fall in that meadow!" 

"They will fall thicker than that in this street!" 

"See!" she cried; "they have begun to gallop! 
They are coming! Oh, I cannot look! I I cannot!" 

Far away, a thin cry sounded above the cannon 
din; the doomed cuirassiers were cheering. It was 
the first charge they had ever made ; nobody had ever 
seen cavalry of their arm on any battle-field of Europe 
since Waterloo. 

Suddenly their long, straight blades shot into the 
air, the cuirassiers broke into a furious gallop, and 
that mass of steel-clad men burst straight down the 
first slope of the plateau, through the Prussian in 
fantry, then wheeled and descended like a torrent on 
Morsbronn. 

In the first ranks galloped the giants of the Eighth 
Cuirassiers, Colonel Guiot de la Rochere at their head ; 
the Ninth Cuirassiers thundered behind them; then 
came the lancers under a torrent of red - and - white 
pennons. Nothing stopped them, neither hedges nor 
ditches nor fallen trees. 

Their huge horses bounded forward, manes in the 
wind, tails streaming, iron hoofs battering the shaking 
earth; the steel-clad riders, sabres pointed to the front, 
leaned forward in their saddles. 

Now among the thicket of hop -vines long lines of 
black arose ; there was a flash, a belt of smoke, another 
flash then the metallic rattle of bullets on steel breast 
plates. Entire ranks of cuirassiers went down in 
the smoke of the Prussian rifles, the sinister clash 
and crash of falling armor filled the air. Sheets of 
lead poured into them; the rattle of empty scabbards 
on stirrups, the metallic ringing of bullets on helmet 
and cuirass, the rifle-shots, the roar of the shells 
exploding swelled into a very hell of sound. And, 

83 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

above the infernal fracas rose the heavy cheering of 
the doomed riders. 

Into the deep, narrow street wheeled the horsemen, 
choking road and sidewalk with their galloping squad 
rons, a solid cataract of impetuous horses, a flashing 
torrent of armored men and then! Crash! the firs', 
squadron dashed headlong against the barricade of 
wagons and went down. 

Into them tore the squadron behind, unable to stop 
their maddened horses, and into these thundered squad 
ron after squadron, unconscious of the dead wall ahead. 

In the terrible tumult and confusion, screaming 
horses and shrieking men were piled in heaps, a hu 
man whirlpool formed at the barricade, hurling bodily 
from its centre horses and riders. Men galloped head 
long into each other, riders struggled knee to knee, 
pushing, shouting, colliding. 

Posted behind the upper and lower windows of the 
houses, the Prussians shot into them, so close that 
the flames from the rifles set the jackets of the cuiras 
siers on fire : a German captain opened the shutters 
of a window and fired his pistol at a cuirassier, who 
replied with a sabre thrust through the window, trans 
fixing the German's throat. 

Then a horrible butchery of men and horses began ; 
the fusillade became so violent and the scene so sick 
ening that a Prussian lieutenant went crazy in the 
house opposite, and flung himself from the window 
into the mass of writhing horsemen. Tall cuirassiers, 
in impotent fury, began slashing at the walls of the 
houses, breaking their heavy sabres to splinters against 
the stones; their powerful horses, white with foam, 
reared, fell back, crushing their riders beneath them. 

In front of the barricade a huge fellow reined in 
his horse and turned, white -gloved hand raised, red 
epaulets tossing. 

84 



THE IMMORTALS 

"Halt! Halt!" he shouted. "Stop the lancers!" 
And a trumpeter, disengaging himself from the frantic 
chaos, set his long, silver trumpet to his lips and blew 
the "Halt!" 

A bullet rolled the trumpeter under his horse's feet; 
a volley riddled the other's horse, and the agonized 
animal reared and cleared the bristling abatis with a 
single bound, his rider dropping dead among the hay- 
wagons. 

Then into this awful struggle galloped the two 
squadrons of the lancers. For a moment the street 
swam under their fluttering red-and-white lance-pen 
nons, then a volley swept them another another- 
and down they went. 

Herds of riderless horses tore through the street; 
the road undulated with crushed, quivering creatures 
crawling about. Against the doorway of a house 
opposite a noble horse in agony leaned with shaking 
knees, head raised, lips shrinking back over his teeth. 

Bewildered, stupefied, exhausted, the cuirassiers sat 
in their saddles, staring up at the windows where 
the Prussians stood and fired. Now and then one 
would start as from a nightmare, turn his jaded horse, 
and go limping away down the street. The road was 
filled with horsemen, wandering helplessly about under 
the rain of bullets. One, a mere boy, rode up to a 
door, leaned from his horse and began to knock for 
admittance; another dismounted and sat down on a 
doorstep, head buried in his hands, regardless of the 
bullets which tore the woodwork around him. 

The street was still crowded with entrapped cuiras 
siers, huddled in groups or riding up and down the 
walls mechanically seeking shelter. A few of these, 
dismounted, were wearily attempting to drag a heavy 
cart away from the barricade; the Prussians shot 
them, one at a time, but others came to help, and a 

85 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

few lancers aided them, and at length they managed 
to drag a hay-wagon aside, giving a narrow passage 
to the open country beyond. Instantly the Prussian 
infantry swarmed out of the houses and into the street, 
shouting, "Prisoners!" pushing, striking, and drag 
ging the exhausted cuirassiers from their saddles. 
But contact with the enemy, hand to hand, seemed 
to revive the fury of the armored riders. The debris 
of the regiments closed up, long, straight sabres glit 
tered, trembling horses plunged forward, broke into a 
stiff gallop, and passed through the infantry, through 
the rent in the barricade, and staggered away across 
the fields, buried in the smoke of a thousand rifles. 

So rode the "Cuirassiers of Morsbronn," the flower 
of an empire's chivalry, the elect of France. So rode 
the gentlemen of the Sixth Lancers to shiver their 
slender spears against stone walls for the honor of 
France. 

Death led them. Death rode with them knee to knee. 
Death alone halted them. But their shining souls 
galloped on into that vast Valhalla where their ances 
tors of Waterloo stood waiting, and the celestial trum 
pets pealed a last "Dismount I" 



VI 

THE GAME BEGINS 

THE room in the turret was now swimming in 
smoke and lime dust; I could scarcely see the 
gray figure of the Countess through the powder-mist 
which drifted in through shutters and loop-hole, dim 
ming the fading daylight. 

In the street a dense pall of pungent vapor hung 
over roof and pavement, motionless in the calm August 
air; two houses were burning slowly, smothered in 
smoke; through a ruddy fog I saw the dead lying 
in mounds, the wounded moving feebly, the Prussian 
soldiery tossing straw into the hay-carts that had 
served their deadly purpose. 

But oh, the dreadful murmur that filled the heavy 
air, the tremulous, ceaseless plaint which comes from 
strong, muscular creatures, tenacious of life, who are 
dying and who die hard. 

Helmeted figures swarmed through the smoke; 
wagon after wagon, loaded deep with dead cavalry 
men, was drawn away by heavy teams of horses now 
arriving from the regimental transport train, which 
had come up and halted just at the entrance to the 
village. 

And now wagon-loads of French wounded began to 
pass, jolting over crushed helmets, rifles, cuirasses, 
and the carcasses of dead horses. 

A covey of Uhlans entered the shambles, picking 

87 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

their way across the wreckage of the battle, a slim, 
wiry, fastidious company, dainty as spurred game 
cocks, with their helmet - cords swinging like wattles 
and their schapskas tilted rakishly. 

Then the sad cortege of prisoners formed in the 
smoke, the wounded leaning on their silent comrades, 
bandaged heads hanging, the others erect, defiant, 
supporting the crippled or standing with arms folded 
and helmeted heads held high. 

And at last they started, between two files of mount 
ed Uhlans Turcos, line infantrymen, gendarmes, lan 
cers, and, towering head and shoulders above the 
others, the superb cuirassiers. 

A German general and his smartly uniformed staff 
came clattering up the slippery street and halted to 
watch the prisoners defile And, as the first of the 
captive cuirassiers came abreast of the staff, the gen 
eral stiffened in his saddle and raised his hand to his 
helmet, saying to his officers, loud enough for me to 
hear: 

"Salute the brave, gentlemen!" 

And the silent, calm-eyed cuirassiers passed on, 
heads erect, uniforms in shreds, their battered armor 
foul with smoke and mud, spurs broken, scabbards 
empty. 

Troops of captured horses, conducted by Uhlans, 
followed the prisoners, then wagons piled high with 
rifles, sabres, and saddles, then a company of Uhlans 
cantering away with the shot -torn guidons of the 
cuirassiers. 

Last of all came the wounded in their straw-wadded 
wagons, escorted by infantry; I heard them coming 
before I saw them, and, sickened, I closed my ears with 
my hands; yet even then the deep, monotonous groan 
ing seemed to fill the room and vibrate through the 
falling shadows long after the last cart had creaked 



THE GAME BEGINS 

out of sight and hearing into the gathering haze of 
evening. 

The deadened booming of cannon still came steadily 
from the west, and it needed no messenger to tell me 
that the First Corps had been hurled back into Alsace, 
and that MacMahon's army was in full retreat; that 
now the Rhine was open and the passage of the Vosges 
was clear, and Strasbourg must stand siege and Belfort 
and Toul must man their battlements for a struggle 
that meant victory, or an Alsace doomed and a Lorraine 
lost to France forever. 

The room had grown very dark, the loop-hole admit 
ting but little of the smoky evening sunset. Some 
soldiers in the hallway outside finally lighted torches ; 
red reflections danced over the torn ceiling and plaster- 
covered floor, illuminating a corner where the Countess 
was sitting by the bedside, her head lying on the 
covers. How long she had been there I did not know, 
but when I spoke she raised her head and answered 
quietly. 

In the torchlight her face was ghastly, her eyes red 
and dim as she came over to me and looked out into 
the darkness. 

The woman was shaken terribly, shaken to the 
very soul. She had not seen all that I had seen; she 
had flinched before the spectacle of a butchery too 
awful to look upon, but she had seen enough, and 
she had heard enough to support or to confound the 
ories formed through a young girl's brief, passionless, 
eventless life. 

Under the window soldiers began shooting the 
crippled horses; the heavy flash and bang of rifles 
set her trembling again. 

Until the firing ceased she stood as though stupefied, 
scarcely breathing, her splendid hair glistening like 
molten copper in the red torches' glare. 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

A soldier came into the room and dragged the bed 
clothes from the bed, trailing them across the floor be 
hind him as he departed. An officer holding a lantern 
peered through the door, his eye-glasses shining, his 
boots in his hand. 

He evidently had intended to get into the bed, but 
when his gaze fell upon us he withdrew in his stock 
inged feet. 

On the stairs soldiers were eating hunches of stale 
bread and knocking the necks from wine bottles with 
their bayonets. One lumpish fellow came to the door 
and offered me part of a sausage which he was devour 
ing, a kindly act that touched me, and I wondered 
whether the other prisoners might find among their 
Uhlan guards the same humanity that moved this 
half-famished yokel to offer me the food he was gnaw 
ing. 

Soldiers began to come and go in the room ; some 
carried off chairs for officers below some took the 
pillows from the bed, one bore away a desk on his 
broad shoulders. 

The Countess never moved or spoke. 

The evening had grown chilly; I was cold to my 
knees. 

A soldier offered to build me a fire in the great stone 
fireplace behind me, and when I assented he calmly 
smashed a chair to kindling-wood, wrenched off the 
heavy posts of the bed, and started a fire which lit 
up the wrecked room with its crimson glare. 

The Countess rose and looked around. The soldier 
pushed my long chair to the blaze, tore down the canopy 
over the bed and flung it over me, stolidly ignoring my 
protests. Then he clumped out with his muddy boots 
and shut the door behind him. 

For a long while I lay there, full in the heat of the 
fire, half dozing, then sleeping, then suddenly alert, 

90 



THE GAME BEGINS 

only to look about me to see the Countess with eyes 
closed, motionless in her arm-chair, only to hear the 
muffled thunder of the guns in the dark. 

Once again, having slept, I roused, listening. The 
crackle of the flames was all I heard ; the cannon were 
silent. A few moments later a clock in the hall 
way struck nine times. At the same instant a dead 
ened cannon-shot echoed the clamor of the clock. It 
was the last shot of the battle. And when the dull 
reverberations had died away Alsace was a lost prov 
ince, MacMahon's army was in full retreat, leaving 
on the three battle-fields of Worth, Reichshoffen, and 
Froschweiler sixteen thousand dead, wounded, and 
missing soldiers of France. 

All night long I heard cavalry traversing Morsbronn 
in an unbroken column, the steady trample of their 
horses never ceasing for an instant. At moments, 
from the outskirts of the village, the sinister sound 
of cheering came from the vanguard of the German 
Sixth Corps, just arriving to learn of the awful disaster 
to France. Too late to take any part in the battle, 
these tired soldiers stood cheering by regiments as 
the cavalry rode past in pursuit of the shattered army, 
and their cheering swelled to a terrific roar toward 
morning, when the Prince Royal of Prussia appeared 
with his staff, and the soldiers in Morsbronn rushed 
out into the street bellowing, " Hoch soil er leben ! 
Er soil leben Hoch!" 

About seven o'clock that morning a gaunt, leather- 
faced Prussian officer, immaculate in his sombre uni 
form, entered the room without knocking. The young 
Countess turned in the depths of her chair; he bowed 
to her slightly, unfolded a printed sheet of paper which 
bore the arms of Prussia, hesitated, then said, looking 
directly at me: 

" Morsbronn is now German territory and will con- 
91 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

tinue to be governed by military law, proclaimed under 
the state of siege, until the country is properly pacified. 

" Honest inhabitants will not be disturbed. Citizens 
are invited to return to their homes and peacefully 
continue their legitimate avocations, subject to and 
under the guarantee of the Prussian military govern 
ment. 

" Monsieur, I have the honor to hand you a copy of 
regulations. I am the provost marshal ; all complaints 
should be brought to me." 

I took the printed sheet and looked at the Prussian 
coat of arms. 

" A list of the inhabitants of Morsbronn will be made 
to-day. You will have the goodness to declare yourself 
and you also, madame. There being other build 
ings better fitted, no soldiers will be quartered in this 
house." 

The officer evidently mistook me for the owner of 
the house and not a prisoner. A blanket hid my hussar 
trousers and boots ; he could only see my ragged shirt. 

"And now, madame," he continued, "as monsieur 
appears to need the services of a physician, I shall 
send him a French doctor, brought in this morning 
from the Chateau de la Trappe. I wish him to get 
well; I wish the inhabitants of my district to return 
to their homes and resume the interrupted regimes 
which have made this province of Alsace so valuable 
to France. I wish Morsbronn to prosper; I wish it 
well. This is the German policy. 

" But, monsieur, let me speak plainly. I tolerate 
no treachery. The law is iron and will be applied 
with rigor. An inhabitant of my district who deceives 
me, or who commits an offence against the troops 
under my command, or who in any manner holds, 
or attempts to hold, communication with the enemy, 
will be shot without court-martial." 

92 



THE GAME BEGINS 

He turned his grim, inflexible face to the Countess 
and bowed, then he bowed to me, swung squarely on 
his heel, and walked to the door. 

"Admit the French doctor," he said to the soldier 
on guard, and marched out, his curved sabre banging 
behind his spurred heels. 

"It must be Dr. Delmont!" I said, looking at the 
Countess as there came a low knock at the door. 

"I am very thankful!" she said, her voice almost 
breaking. She rose unsteadily from her chair; some 
body entered the room behind me and I turned, calling 
out, "Welcome, doctorl" 

"Thank you," replied the calm voice of John Buck- 
hurst at my elbow. 

The Countess shrank aside as Buckhurst coolly 
passed before her, turned his slim back to the embers 
of the fire, and fixed his eyes on me those pale, slow 
eyes, passionless as death. 

Here was a type of criminal I had never until re 
cently known. Small of hand and foot too small 
even for such a slender man clean shaven, colorless 
in hair, skin, lips, he challenged instant attention 
by the very monotony of his bloodless symmetry. 
There was nothing of positive evil in his face, nothing 
of impulse, good or bad, nothing even superficially 
human. His spotless linen, his neat sack-coat and 
trousers of gray seemed part of him like a loose outer 
skin. There was in his ensemble nothing to disturb 
the negative harmony, save perhaps an abnormal 
flatness of the instep and hands. 

"My friend," he observed, in English, " do you think 
you will know me again when you have finished your 
scrutiny?" 

The Countess, face averted, passed behind my chair. 

"Wait," said Buckhurst; and turning directly to 
me, he added: "You were mistaken for a hussar at 

93 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

La Trappe; you were mistaken here for a hussar as 
long as the squad holding this house remained in 
Morsbronn. A few moments ago the provost mistook 
you for a civilian." He looked across at the Countess, 
who already stood with her hand on the door-knob. 

"If you disturb me," he said, "I have only to tell 
the provost the truth. Members of the Imperial Police 
caught without proper uniform inside German lines 
are shot, stance tenante." 

The Countess stood perfectly still a moment, then 
came straight to me. 

"Is that true?" she asked. 

"Yes," I said. 

She still leaned forward, looking down into my 
face. Then she turned to Buckhurst. 

"Do you want money?" she asked. 

"I want a chair and your attention for the pres 
ent," he replied, and seated himself. 

The printed copy of the rules handed me by the 
provost marshal lay on the floor. Buckhurst picked 
up the sheet, glanced at the Prussian eagle, and 
thoughtfully began rolling the paper into a grotesque 
shape. 

"Sit down, madame," he said, without raising his 
eyes from the bit of paper which he had now fashioned 
into a cocked hat. 

After a moment's silent hesitation the Countess 
drew a small gilt chair beside my sofa-chair and sat 
down, and again that brave, unconscious gesture of 
protection left her steady hand lying lightly on my arm. 

Buckhurst noted the gesture. And all at once I 
divined that whatever plan he had come to execute 
had been suddenly changed. He looked down at the 
paper in his hands, gave it a thoughtful twist, and, 
drawing the ends out, produced a miniature paper 
boat. 

94 



THE GAME BEGINS 

" We are all in one like that," he observed, holding 
it up without apparent interest. He glanced at the 
young Countess; her face was expressionless. 

"Madame," said Buckhurst, in his peculiarly soft 
and persuasive voice, "I am not here to betray this 
gentleman; I am not here even to justify myself. I 
came here to make reparation, to ask your forgive 
ness, madame, for the wrong I have done you, and to 
deliver myself, if necessary, into the hands of the 
proper French authorities in expiation of my mis 
guided zeal." 

The Countess was looking at him now; he fumbled 
with the paper boat, gave it an unconscious twist, 
and produced a tiny paper box. 

"The cause," he said, gently, "to which I have 
devoted my life must not suffer through the mistake 
of a fanatic ; for in the cause of universal brotherhood 
I am, perhaps, a fanatic, and to aid that cause I have 
gravely compromised myself. I came here to expiate 
that folly and to throw myself upon your mercy, 
madame." 

"I do not exactly understand," said I, "how you 
can expiate a crime here." 

"I can at least make restitution," he said, turning 
the paper box over and over between his flat fingers. 

" Have you brought me the diamonds which belong 
to the state?" I inquired, amused. 

" Yes," he said, and to my astonishment he drew a 
small leather pouch from his pocket and laid it on my 
blanket-covered knees. "How many diamonds were 
there?" he asked. 

"One hundred and three," I replied, incredulously, 
and opened the leather pouch. Inside was a bag of 
chamois-skin. This I stretched wide and emptied. 

Scores of little balls of tissue-paper rolled out on the 
blanket over my knees; I opened one; it contained a 

95 



THE MAIDS OP PARADISE 

diamond; I opened another, another, and another; 
diamonds lay blazing on my blanket, a whole handful, 
glittering in undimmed splendor. 

"Count them," murmured Buckhurst, fashioning 
the paper box into a fly-trap with a lid. 

With a quick movement I swept them into my hands, 
then one by one dropped the stones while I counted 
aloud one hundred and two diamonds. The one hun 
dred and third jewel was, of course, safely in Paris. 

When I had a second time finished the enumeration 
I leaned back in my chair, utterly at a loss to account 
for this man or for what he had done. As far as I 
could see there was no logic in it, nothing demonstrated, 
nothing proven. To me and I am not either sus 
picious or obstinate by nature Buckhurst was still 
an unrepentant thief and a dangerous one. 

I could see in him absolutely nothing of the fanatic, 
of the generous, feather-headed devotee, nothing of 
the hasty disciple or the impulsive martyr. In my 
eyes he continued to be the passionless master-criminal, 
the cold, slow-eyed source of hidden evil, the designer 
of an intricate and viewless intrigue against the state. 

His head remained bent over the paper toy in his 
hands. Was his hair gray with age or excesses, or 
was it only colorless like the rest of his exterior? 

" Restitution is not expiation," he said, sadly, with 
out looking up. "I loved the cause; I love it still; 
I practised deception, and I am here to ask this gentle 
lady to forgive me for an unworthy yet unselfish use 
of her money and her hospitality. If she can pardon 
me I welcome whatever punishment may be meted 
out." 

The Countess dropped her elbow on the arm of my 
chair and rested her face in her hand. 

"Swept away by my passion for the cause of uni 
versal brotherhood," said Buckhurst, in his low, caress- 

96 



THE GAME BEGINS 

ing voice, "I ventured to spend this generous lady's 
money to carry the propaganda into the more violent 
centres of socialism into the clubs in Montmartre 
and Belleville. There I urged non-resistance ; I pleaded 
moderation and patience. What I said helped a little, 
I think" 

He hesitated, twisting his fly-box into a paper creature 
with four legs. 

"I was eager; people listened. I thought that if 
I had a little more money I might carry on this work. 
... I could not come to you, madame " 

" Why not?" said the Countess, looking at him quick 
ly. "I have never refused you money!" 

"No," he said, "you never refused me. But I knew 
that La Trappe was mortgaged, that even this house 
in Morsbronn was loaded with debt. I knew, madame, 
that in all the world you had left but one small roof 
to cover you the house in Morbihan, on Point Paradise. 
I knew that if I asked for money you would sell Para 
dise, . . . and I could not ask so much, ... I could 
not bring myself to ask that sacrifice." 

"And so you stole the crucifix of Louis XL," I sug 
gested, pleasantly. 

He did not look at me, but the Countess did. 

" Bon," I thought, watching Buckhurst's deft fingers ; 
"he means to be taken back into grace. I wonder 
exactly why? And ... is it worth this fortune in 
diamonds to him to be pardoned by a penniless girl 
whom he and his gang have already stripped?" 

"Could you forgive me, madame?" murmured Buck- 
hurst. 

"Would you explain that stick of dynamite first?" 
I interposed. 

The Countess turned and looked directly at Buck- 
hurst. He sat with humble head bowed, nimbly con 
structing a paper bird. 

7 97 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

" That was not dynamite ; it was concentrated phos 
phorus/' he said, without resentment. " Natural^ it 
burned when you lighted it, but if you had not burned 
it I could easily have shown Madame la Comtesse what 
it really was." 

"I also," said I, "if I had thrown it at your feet, 
Mr. Buckhurst." 

" Do you not believe me?" he asked, meekly, looking 
up at the Countess. 

" Mr. Buckhurst," said the young Countess, turning 
to me, " has aided me for a long time in experiments. 
We hoped to find some cheap method of restoring 
nitrogen and phosphorus to the worn - out soil which 
our poor peasants till. Why should you doubt that 
he speaks the truth? At least he is guiltless of any 
connection with the party which advocated violence." 

I looked at Buckhurst. He was engaged in con 
structing a multi-pointed paper star. What else was 
he busy with? Perhaps I might learn if I ceased to 
manifest distrust. 

" Does concentrated phosphorus burn like dynamite?" 
I asked, as if with newly aroused interest. 

"Did you not know it?" he said, warily. 

But was he deceived by my manner? Was that 
the way for me to learn anything? 

There was perhaps another way. Clearly this ex 
traordinary man depended upon his persuasive elo 
quence for his living, for the very shoes on his little, 
flat feet, as do all such chevaliers of industry. If he 
would only begin to argue, if I could only induce him 
to try his eloquence on me, and if I could convince him 
that I myself was but an ignorant, self-centred, bullet- 
headed 'gendarme, doing my duty only because of per 
spective advancement, ready perhaps to take bribes 
perhaps even weakly, covetously, credulous well, 
perhaps I might possibly learn why he desired to cling 

98 



THE GAME BEGINS 

to this poor young lady, whose life had evidently gone 
dreadfully to smash, to land her among such a coterie 
of thieves and lunatics. 

"Mr. Buckhurst," I said, pompously, "in bringing 
these diamonds to me you have certainly done all 
in your power to repair an injury which concerned all 
France. 

" As I am situated, of course I cannot now ask you 
to accompany me to Paris, where doubtless the proper 
authorities would gladly admit extenuating circum 
stances, and credit you with a sincere repentance. 
But I put you on your honor to surrender at the first 
opportunity." 

It was as stupidly trite a speech as I could think of. 

Buckhurst glanced up at me. Was he taking my 
measure anew, judging me from my bray? 

"I could easily aid you to leave Morsbronn," he 
said, stealthily. 

" Oho," thought I, " so you're a German agent, too, 
as I suspected." But I said, aloud, simulating aston 
ishment: "Do you mean to say, Mr. Buckhurst, that 
you would deliberately risk death to aid a police offi 
cer to bring you before a military tribunal in Paris?" 

" I do not desire to pose as a hero or a martyr," he 
said, quietly, " but I regret what I have done, and I 
will do what an honest man can do to make the fullest 
reparation even if it means my death." 

I gazed at him in admiration real admiration be 
cause the gross bathos he had just uttered betrayed a 
weakness vanity. Now I began to understand him; 
vanity must also lead him to undervalue men. True, 
with the faintest approach to eloquence he could no 
doubt hold the " Clubs " of Belleville spellbound ; with 
self-effacing adroitness to cover stealthy persuasion, 
he had probably found little difficulty in dominating 
this inexperienced girl, who, touched to the soul with 

99 



pity for human woe, had flung herself and her fortune 
to the howling proletariat. 

But that he should so serenely undervalue me at my 
first bray was more than I hoped for. So I brayed 
again, the good, old, sentimental bray, for which all 
Gallic lungs are so marvellously fashioned : 

"Monsieur, such sentiments honor you. I am 
only a rough soldier of the Imperial Police, but I am 
profoundly moved to find among the leaders of the 
proletariat such delicate and chivalrous emotions " 
I hesitated. Was I buttering the sop too thickly? 

Buckhurst, eyes bent on the floor, began picking 
to pieces his paper toy. Presently he looked up, not 
at me, but at the Countess, who sat with hands clasped 
earnestly watching him. 

"If if the state pardons me, can . . . you?" he 
murmured. 

She looked at him with intense earnestness. I saw 
he was sailing on the wrong tack. 

"I have nothing to pardon," she said, gravely. 
"But I must tell you the truth, Mr. Buckhurst, I can 
not forget what you have done. It was something 
the one thing that I cannot understand that I can 
never understand something so absolutely alien to me 
that it somehow leaves me stunned. Don't ask me 
to forget it. ... I cannot. I do not mean to be harsh 
and cruel, or to condemn you. Even if you had taken 
the jewels from me, and had asked my forgiveness, 
I would have given it freely. But I could not be as I 
was, a comrade to you." 

There was a silence. The Countess, looking perfect 
ly miserable, still gazed at Buckhurst. He dropped 
his gray, symmetrical head, yet I felt that he was lis 
tening to every minute sound in the room. 

"You must not care what I say," she said. "I am 
only an unhappy woman, unused to the liberty I have 

100 



THE GAME BEGINS 

given myself, not yet habituated to the charity of those 
blameless hearts which forgive everything! I am a 
novice, groping my way into a new and vast world, a 
limitless, generous, forgiving commune, where love 
alone dominates. . . . And if I had lived among my 
brothers long enough to be purged of those traditions 
which I have drawn from generations, I might now be 
noble enough and wise enough to say I do forgive and 
forget that you " 

"That you were once a thief," I ended, with the 
genial officiousness of the hopelessly fat-minded. 

In the stillness I heard Buckhurst draw in his breath 
once. Some day he would try to kill me for that ; in 
the mean time my crass stupidity was no longer a 
question in his mind. I had hurt the Countess, too, 
with what she must have believed a fool's needless 
brutality. "But it had to be so if I played at Jaques 
Bonhomme. 

So I put the finishing whine to it "Our Lord died 
between two thieves " and relapsed into virtuous con 
templation of my finger-tips. 

"Madame," said Buckhurst, in a low voice, "your 
contempt of me is part of my penalty. I must endure 
it. I shall not complain. But I shall try to live a life 
that will at least show you my deep sincerity." 

"I do not doubt it," said the Countess, earnestly. 
"Don't think that I mean to turn away from you or 
to push you away. There is nothing of the Pharisee 
in me. I would gladly trust you with what I have. 
I will consult you and advise with you, Mr. Buck 
hurst" 

"And . . . despise me." 

The unhappy Countess looked at me. It goes hard 
with a woman when her guide and mentor falls. 

" If you return to Paradise, in Morbihan, ... as we 
had planned, may I go," he asked, humbly, " only as 

101 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

an obscure worker in the cause? I beg, madame, that 
you will not cast me off." 

So he wanted to go to Morbihan to the village of 
Paradise? Why? 

The Countess said : "I welcome all who care for the 
cause. You will never hear an unkind word from me 
if you desire to resume the work in Paradise. Dr. 
Delmont will be there; Monsieur Ta vernier also, I 
hope; and they are older and wiser than I, and they 
have reached that lofty serenity which is far above 
my troubled mind. Ask them what you have asked 
of me; they are equipped to answer you." 

It was time for another discord from me, so I said : 
"Madame, you have seen a thousand men lay down 
their lives for France. Has it not shaken your alle 
giance to that ghost of patriotism which you call the 
' Internationale' ? " 

Here was food for thought, or rather fodder for 
asses the Police Oracle turned missionary under the 
nose of the most cunning criminal in France and the 
vainest. Of course Buckhurst's contempt for me at 
once passed all bounds, and, secure in that contempt, 
he felt it scarcely worth while to use his favorite 
weapon persuasion. Still, if the occasion should re 
quire it, he was quite ready, I knew, to loose his elo 
quence on the Countess, and on me too. 

The Countess turned her troubled eyes to me. 

"What I have seen, what I have thought since yes 
terday has distressed me dreadfully," she said. "I 
have tried to include all the world in a broader pity, a 
broader, higher, and less selfish love than the jealous, 
single-minded love for one country " 

"The mother-land," I said, and Buckhurst looked 
up, adding, "The world is the true mother-land." 

Whereupon I appeared profoundly impressed at such 
a novel and epigrammatic view. 

102 



THE GAME BEGINS 

"There is much to be argued on both sides/' said 
the young Countess, "but I am utterly unfitted to 
struggle with this new code of ethics. If it had been 
different if I had been born among the poor, in 
misery! But you see I come a pilgrim among the 
proletariat, clothed in conservatism, cloaked with tra 
dition, and if at heart I burn with sorrow for the mis 
erable, and if I gladly give what I have to help, I 
cannot with a single gesture throw off those inherited 
garments, though they tortured my body like the gar 
ment of Nessus." 

I did not smile or respect her less for the stilted 
phrases, the pathetic poverty of metaphor. Profound 
ly troubled, struggling with a reserve the borders 
of which she strove so bravely to cross, her distress 
touched me the more because I knew it aroused the 
uneasy contempt of Buckhurst. Yet I could not spare 
her. 

"You saw the cuirassiers die in the street below/' 
I repeated, with the obstinacy of a limited intellect. 

"Yes and my heart went out to them," she replied, 
with an emphasis that pleased me and startled Buck- 
hurst. 

Buckhurst began to speak, but I cut him short. 

" Then, madame, if your heart went out to the sol 
diers of France, it went out to France, too!" 

"Yes to France," she repeated, and I saw her lip 
begin to quiver. 

" Wherein does love for France conflict with our 
creed, madame?" asked Buckhurst, gently. "It is 
only hate that we abjure." 

She turned her gray eyes on him. " I will tell you : 
in that dreadful moment when the cavalry of France 
cheered Death in his own awful presence, I loved them 
and their country my country ! as I had never loved 
in all my life. . . . And I hated, too! I hated the 

103 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

men who butchered them more! I hated the coun 
try where the men came from ; I hated race and coun 
try and the blows they dealt, and the evil they wrought 
on France my France ! That is the truth ; and I 
realize it!" 

There was a silence ; Buckhurst slowly unrolled the 
wrinkled paper he had been fingering. 

"And now?" he asked, simply. 

"Now?" she repeated. "I don't know truly, I do 
not know." She turned to me sorrowfully. "I had 
long since thought that my heart was clean of hate, 
and now I don't know." And, to Buckhurst, again: 
"Our creed teaches us that war is vile a savage be 
trayal of humanity by a few dominant minds; a dis 
honorable ingratitude to God and country. But from 
that window I saw men die for honor of France with 
God's name on their lips. I saw one superb cuiras 
sier, trapped down there in the street, sit still on his 
horse, while they shot at him from every window, and 
I heard him call up to a Prussian officer who had just 
fired at him : ' My friend, you waste powder ; the heart 
of France is cuirassed by a million more like me!'" 
A rich flush touched her face; her gray eyes grew 
brighter. 

" Is there a Frenchwoman alive whose blood would 
not stir at such a scene?" she said. "They shot him 
through his armor, his breastplate was riddled, he 
clung to his horse, always looking up at the riflemen, 
and I heard the bullets drumming on his helmet and 
his cuirass like hailstones on a tin roof, and I could 
not look away. And all the while he was saying, qui 
etly : ' It is quite useless, friends ; France lives ! You 
waste your powder!' and I could not look away or 
close my eyes " 

She bent her head, shivering, and her interlocked 
fingers whitened. 

104 



THE GAME BEGINS 

" I only know this/' she said : "I will give all I have 
I will give my poor self to help the advent of that 
world -wide brotherhood which must efface national 
frontiers and end all war in this sad world. But if 
you ask me, in the presence of war, to look on with 
impartiality, to watch my own country battling for 
breath, to stop my ears when a wounded mother-land 
is calling, to answer the supreme cry of France with 
a passionless cry, 'Repent!' I cannot do it I will not! 
I was not born to!" 

Deeply moved, she had risen, confronting Buck- 
hurst, \vhose stone-cold eyes were fixed on her. 

" You say I hold you unworthy," she said. "Others 
may hold me, too, unworthy because I have not reached 
that impartial equipoise whence, impassive, I can bal 
ance my native land against its sins and watch blind 
justice deal with it all unconcerned. 

" In theory I have done it oh, it is simple to teach 
one's soul in theory! But when my eyes saw my 
own land blacken and shrivel like a green leaf in the 
fire, and when with my own eyes I saw the best, the 
noblest, the crown of my country's chivalry fall rolling 
in the mud of Morsbronn under the feet of Prussia, 
every drop of blood in my body was French hot and 
red and French! And it is now; and it will always 
be as it has always been, though I did not under 
stand." 

After a silence Buckhurst said: "All that may be, 
madame, yet not impair your creed." 

"What!" she said, "does not hatred of the stranger 
impair my creed?" 

"It will die out and give place to reason." 

"When? When I attain the lofty, dispassionate 
level I have never attained? That will not be while 
this war endures." 

"Who knows?" said Buckhurst, gently. 
105 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

"I know!" replied the Countess, the pale flames in 
her cheeks deepening again. 

"And yet/' observed Buckhurst, patiently, "you are 
going to Paradise to work for the Internationale." 

"I shall try to do my work and love France," she 
said, steadily. " I cannot believe that one renders the 
other impossible." 

"Yet," said I, "if you teach the nation non-resist 
ance, what would become of the armies of France?" 

"I shall not teach non-resistance until we are at 
peace," she said "until there is not a German soldier 
left in France. After that I shall teach acquiescence 
and personal liberty." 

I looked at her very seriously ; logic had no dwelling- 
place within her tender and unhappy heart. 

And what a hunting-ground was that heart for men 
like Buckhurst! I could begin to read that mouse- 
colored gentleman now, to follow, after a fashion, the 
intricate policy which his insolent mind was shaping 
shaping in stealthy contempt for me and for this 
young girl. Thus far I could divine the thoughts of 
Mr. Buckhurst, but there were other matters to account 
for. Why did he choose to spare my life when a word 
would have sent me before the peloton of execution? 
Why had he brought to me the fortune in diamonds 
which he had stolen? Why did he eat humble -pie 
before a young girl from whom he and his companions 
had wrung the last penny? Why did he desire to go 
to Morbihan and be received among the elect in the 
Breton village of Paradise? 

I said, abruptly : " So you are not going to denounce 
me to the Prussian provost?" 

He lifted his well - shaped head and gazed at the 
Countess with an admirable pathos which seemed a 
mute appeal for protection from brutality. 

" That question is a needless one," said the Countess, 
106 



THE GAME BEGINS 

quietly. "It was a cruel one, also, Monsieur Scar 
lett." 

"I did not mean it as an offensive question," said I. 
"I was merely reciting a fact, most creditable to Mr. 
Buckhurst. Mon Dieu, madame, I am an officer of 
Imperial Police, and I have lived to hear blunt ques 
tions and blunter answers. And if it be true that 
Monsieur Buckhurst desires to atone for for what 
has happened, then it is perfectly proper for me, even 
as a prisoner myself, to speak plainly." 

I meant this time to thoroughly convince Buckhurst 
of my ability to gabble platitude. My desire that he 
should view me as a typical gendarme was intense. 

So I coughed solemnly behind my hand, knit my 
eyebrows, and laid one finger alongside of my nose. 

" Is it not my duty, as a guardian of national inter 
ests, to point out to Mr. Buckhurst his honest errors? 
Certainly it is, madame, and this is the proper time." 

Turning pompously to Buckhurst, I fancied I could 
almost detect a sneer on that inexpressive mask he 
wore at least I hoped I could, and I said, heavily: 

"Monsieur, for a number of years there has passed 
under our eyes here in France certain strange phe 
nomena. Thousands of Frenchmen have, so to speak, 
separated themselves from the rest of the nation. 

"All the sentiments that the nation honors itself 
by professing these other Frenchmen rebuke the love 
of country, public spirit, accord between citizens, so 
cial repose, and respect for communal law and order 
these other Frenchmen regard as the hallucinations 
of a nation of dupes. 

" Separated by such unfortunate ideas from the na 
tion within whose boundaries they live, they continue 
to abuse, even to threaten, the society and the country 
which gives them shelter. 

" France is only a name to them ; they were born there, 
107 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

they live there, they derive their nourishment from her 
without gratitude. But France is nothing to them; 
their mother-land is the Internationale !" 

I was certain now that the shadow of a sneer had 
settled in the corners of Buckhurst's thin lips. 

"I do not speak of anarchists or of terrorists/' I 
continued, nodding as though profoundly impressed 
by my own sagacity. "I speak of socialists that 
dangerous society to which the cry of Karl Marx was 
addressed with the warning, 'Socialists! Unite!' 

" The government has reason to fear socialism, not 
anarchy, for it will never happen in France, where the 
passion for individual property is so general, that a 
doctrine of brutal destruction could have the slightest 
chance of success. 

"But wait, here is the point, Monsieur Buckhurst. 
Formerly the name of 'terrorist' was a shock to the 
entire civilized world; it evoked the spectres of a year 
that the world can never forget. And so our modern 
reformers, modestly desiring to evade the inconven 
iences of such memories among the people, call them 
selves the 'Internationale.' Listen to them; they are 
adroit, they blame and rebuke violence, they condemn 
anarchy, they would not lay their hands on public or 
individual property no, indeed! 

"Ah, madame, but you should hear them in their 
own clubs, where the ladies and gentlemen of the gut 
ters, the barriers, and the abattoirs discuss ' individual 
property,' 'the tyranny of capital/ and similar sub 
jects which no doubt they are peculiarly fitted to dis 
cuss. 

"Believe me, madame, the little coterie which you 
represent is already the dupe and victim of this 
terrible Internationale. Their leaders work their will 
through you; a vast conspiracy against all social 
peace is spread through your honest works of mercy. 

108 



THE GAME BEGINS 

The time is coming when the whole world will rise to 
ombat this Internationale; and when the mask is 
dragged from its benignant visage, there, grinning be 
hind, will appear the same old 'Spectre Rouge/ torch 
in one hand, gun in the other, squatting behind a 
barricade of paving-blocks." 

I wagged my head dolefully. 

" I could not have rested had I not warned Mr. Buck- 
hurst of this," I said, sentimentally. 

Which was fairly well done, considering that I was 
figuratively lamenting over the innocence of the most 
accomplished scoundrel that ever sat in the supreme 
council of the Internationale. 

Buckhurst looked thoughtfully at the floor. 

"If I thought," he murmured "if I believed for one 
instant " 

"Believe me, my dear sir," I said, "that you are 
playing into the hands of the wickedest villains on 
earth!" 

"Your earnestness almost converts me," he said, 
lifting his stealthy eyes. 

The Countess appeared weary and perplexed. 

"At all events," she said, "we must do nothing to 
embarrass France now ; we must do nothing until this 
frightful war is ended." 

After a silence Buckhurst said, " But you will go to 
Paradise, madame?" 

"Yes," replied the Countess, listlessly. 

Now, what in Heaven's name attracted that rogue 
to Paradise? 



VII 

A STRUGGLE FORESHADOWED 

I TOOK my breakfast by the window, watching the 
German soldiery cleaning up Morsbronn. For that 
wonderful Teutonic administrative mania was already 
manifesting itself while ruined houses still smoked; 
method replaced chaos, order marched on the heels of 
the Prussian rear-guard, which enveloped Morsbronn in 
a whirlwind of Uhlans, and left it a silent, blackened 
landmark in the August sunshine. 

Soldiers in canvas fatigue-dress, wearing soft, round, 
visorless caps, were removing the debris of the fatal 
barricade; soldiers with shovel and hoe filled in the 
trenches and raked the long, winding street clean of 
all litter ; soldiers with trowel and mortar were perched 
on shot -torn houses, mending chimneys and slated 
roofs so that their officers might enjoy immunity from 
rain and wind and defective flues. 

In the court-yards and stables I could see cavalry 
men in stable - jackets, whitewashing walls and out 
buildings and ill-smelling stalls, while others dug shov 
elfuls of slaked lime from wheelbarrows and spread 
it through stable - yards and dirty alleys. Every 
where quiet, method, order, prompt precision reigned; 
I even noticed a big, red-fisted artilleryman tying up 
tall, blue larkspurs, dahlias, and phlox in a trampled 
garden, and he touched the ragged masses of bloom 
with a tenderness peculiar to a flower-loving and sen- 

IIO 



A STRUGGLE FORESHADOWED 

timental people, whose ultimate ambition is a quart of 
beer, a radish, and a green leaf overhead. 

At the corners of the walls and blind alleys, pla 
cards in French and German were posted, embody 
ing regulations governing the village under Prussian 
military rule. The few inhabitants of Morsbronn 
who had remained in cellars during the bombard 
ment shuffled up to read these notices, or to loiter stu 
pidly, gaping at the Prussian eagles surmounting the 
posters. 

A soldier came in and started the fire in my fire 
place. When he went out I drew my code-book from 
my breeches - pocket and tossed it into the fire. After 
it followed my commission, my memoranda, and every 
scrap of writing. The diamonds I placed in the bosom 
of my flannel shirt. 

Toward one o'clock I heard the shrill piping of a 
goat-herd, and I saw him, a pallid boy, clumping along 
in his wooden shoes behind his two nanny-goats, while 
the German soldiers, peasants themselves, looked after 
him with curious sympathy. 

A little later a small herd of cattle passed, driven to 
pasture by a stolid Alsatian, who replied to the soldiers' 
questions in German patois and shrugged his heavy 
shoulders like a Frenchman. 

A cock crowed occasionally from some near dung 
hill; once I saw a cat serenely following the course of 
a stucco wall, calm, perfectly self-composed, ignoring 
the blandishments of the German soldiers, w r ho called, 
"Komm mitz! mitz!" and held out bits of sausage 
and black bread. 

A German ambulance surgeon arrived to see me in 
the afternoon. The Countess was busy somewhere 
with Buckhurst, who had come with news for her, and 
the German surgeon's sharp double rap at the door 
did not bring her, so I called out, "Entrez done!" and 

III 



THE MAIDS OP PARADISE 

he stalked in, removing his fatigue-cap, which action 
distinguished him from his brother officers. 

He was a tall, well-built man, perfectly uniformed 
in his double-breasted frocked tunic, blue-eyed, blond- 
bearded, and immaculate of hand and face, a fine type 
of man and a credit to any army. 

After a brief examination he sat down and resumed 
a very bad cigar, which had been smouldering between 
his carefully kept fingers. 

"Do you know/' he said, admiringly, "that I have 
never before seen just such a wound. The spinal col 
umn is not even grazed, and if, as I understand from 
you, you suffered temporarily from complete paralysis 
of the body below your waist, the case is not only in 
teresting but even remarkable." 

"Is the superficial lesion at all serious?" I asked. 

"Not at all. As far as I can see the blow from the 
bullet temporarily paralyzed the spinal cord. There 
is no fracture, no depression. I do not see why you 
should not walk if you desire to." 

"When? Now?" 

"Try it," he said, briefly. 

I tried. Apart from a certain muscular weakness 
and a great fatigue, I found it quite possible to stand, 
even to move a few steps. Then I sat down again, 
and was glad to do so. 

The doctor was looking at my legs rather grimly, 
and it suddenly flashed on me that I had dropped my 
blanket and he had noticed my hussar's trousers. 

"So," he said, "you are a military prisoner? I un 
derstood from the provost marshal that you were a 
civilian." 

As he spoke Buckhurst appeared at the door, and 
then sauntered in, quietly greeting the surgeon, who 
looked around at the sound of his footsteps on the stone 
floor. There was no longer a vestige of doubt in my 

112 



A STRUGGLE FORESHADOWED 

mind that Buckhurst was a German agent, or at least 
that the Germans believed him to be in their pay. And 
doubtless he was in their pay, but to whom he was 
faithful nobody could know with any certainty. 

"How is our patient, doctor?" he asked. 

" Convalescent/' replied the doctor, shortly, as though 
not exactly relishing the easy familiarity of this pale- 
eyed gentleman in gray. 

"Can he travel 'to-day?" inquired Buckhurst, with 
out apparent interest. 

"Before he travels," said the officer, "it might be 
well to find out why he wears part of a hussar uniform." 

"I've explained that to the provost," observed Buck 
hurst, examining his well-kept finger-nails. "And I 
have a pass for him also if he is in a fit condition to 
travel." 

The officer gave him a glance full of frank dislike, 
adjusted his sabre, pulled on his white gloves, and, 
bowing very slightly to me, marched straight out of 
the room and down the stairs without taking any notice 
of Buckhurst. The latter looked after the officer, then 
his indifferent eyes returned to me. Presently he sat 
down and produced a small slip of paper, which he very 
carefully twisted into a cocked hat. 

"I suppose you doubt my loyalty to France/' he 
said, intent on his bit of paper. 

Then, logically continuing my r61e of the morning, 
I began to upbraid him for a traitor and swear that I 
would not owe my salvation to him, and all the while 
he was calmly transforming his paper from one toy 
into another between deft, flat fingers. 

"You are unjust and a trifle stupid," he said. "I 
am paid by Prussia for information which I never give. 
But I have the entre of their lines. I do it for the sake 
of the Internationale. The Internationale has a few 
people in its service. . . . And it pays them well." 
s 113 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

He looked squarely at me as he said this. I almost 
trembled with delight: the man undervalued me, he 
had taken me at my own figure, and now, holding me 
in absolute contempt, he was going to begin on me. 

"Scarlett," he said, "what does the government pay 
you?" 

I began to protest in a torrent of patriotism and sen 
timentality. He watched me impassively while I called 
Heaven to witness and proclaimed my loyalty to France, 
ending through sheer breathlessness in a maundering, 
tearful apotheosis where mixed metaphors jostled each 
other the government, the Emperor, and the French 
flag, consecrated in blood and finally, calling his at 
tention to the fact that twenty centuries had once looked 
down on this same banner, I collapsed in my chair and 
gave him his chance. 

He took it. With subtle flattery he recognized in me 
a powerful arm of a corrupt Empire, which Empire he 
likened to the old man who rode Sindbad the Sailor. 
He admitted my noble loyalty to France, pointing out, 
however, that devotion to the Empire was not devotion 
to France, but the contrary. Skilfully he pictured the 
unprepared armies of the Empire, huddled along the 
frontier, seized and rent to fragments, one by one; 
adroitly he painted the inevitable ending, the armies 
that remained cut off and beaten in detail. 

And as I listened I freely admitted to myself that I 
had undervalued him; that he was no crude Belleville 
orator, no sentimental bathos - peddling reformer, no 
sansculotte with brains ablaze, squalling for indis 
criminate slaughter and pillage ; he was a cool student 
in crime, taking no chances that he was not forced to 
take, a calm, adroit, methodical observer, who had es 
tablished a theory and was carefully engaged in prov 
ing it. 

"Scarlett," he said, in English, "let us come to the 
114 



A STRUGGLE FORESHADOWED 

point. I am a mercenary American ; you are an Amer 
ican mercenary, paid by the French government. You 
care nothing for that government or for the country; 
you would drop both to-day if your pay ceased. You 
and I are outsiders ; we are in the world to watch our 
chances. And our chance is here." 

He unfolded the creased bit of paper and spread it 
out on his knees, smoothing it thoughtfully. 

"What do I care for the Internationale?" he asked, 
blandly. " I am high in its councils ; Karl Marx knows 
less about the Internationale than do I. As for Prussia 
and France bah! it's a dog-fight to me, and I lack 
even the interest to bet on the German bull-dog. 

" You will know me better some day, and when you 
do you will know that I am a man who has determined 
to get rich if I have to set half of France against the 
other half and sack every bank in the Empire. 

"And now the time is coming when the richest city 
in Europe will be put to the sack. You don't believe 
it? Yet you shall live to see Paris besieged, and you 
shall live to see Paris surrender, and you shall live to 
see the Internationale rise up from nowhere, seize the 
government by the throat, and choke it to death under 
the red flag of universal ahem! . . . license" the 
faintest sneer came into his pallid face "and every 
city of France shall be a commune, and we shall pass 
from city to city, leisurely, under the law our laws, 
which we will make and I pity the man among us 
who cannot place his millions in the banks of England 
and America!" 

He began to worry the creased bit of paper again, 
stealthy eyes on the floor. 

"The revolt is as certain as death itself," he said. 
" The Society of the Internationale honeycombs Europe 
your police archives show you that and I tell you 
that, of the two hundred thousand solders of the na- 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

tional guard in Paris today, ninety per cent, are ours 
ours, soul and body. You don't believe it? Wait! 

"Yet, for a moment, suppose I am right? Where 
are the government forces? Who can stop us from 
working our will? Not the fragments of beaten and 
exhausted armies! Not the thousands of prisoners 
which you will see sent into captivity across the Rhine ! 
What has the government to lean on a government 
discredited, impotent, beaten! What in the world can 
prevent a change, an uprising, a revolution? Why, 
even if there were no such thing as the Internationale 
and its secret Central Committee to which I have the 
honor to belong" and here his sneer was frightful 
"I tell you that before a conquering German army 
had recrossed the Rhine this land of chattering apes 
would be tearing one another for very want of a uni 
versal scape-goat. 

"But that is exactly where we come into the affair. 
We find the popular scape-goat and point him out 
the government, my friend. And all we have to do is 
to let the mob loose, stand back, and count profits." 

He leaned forward in his chair, idly twisting his 
crumpled bit of paper in one hand. 

" I am not fool enough to believe that our reign will 
last," he said. "It may last a month, two months, 
perhaps three. Then we leaders will be at one another's 
throats and the game is up! It's always so mob 
rule can't last it never has lasted and never will. But 
the prudent man will make hay before the brief sun 
shine is ended; I expect to economize a little, and set 
aside enough well, enough to make it pay, you see." 

He looked up at me quietly. 

"I am perfectly willing to tell you this, even if you 
used your approaching liberty to alarm the entire coun 
try, from the Emperor to the most obscure scullion in 
the Tuileries. Nothing can stop us now, nothing in 

116 



A STRUGGLE FORESHADOWED 

the world can prevent our brief reign. Because these 
things are certain, the armies of France will be beaten 
they are already beaten. Paris will hold out; Paris 
will fall; and with Paris down goes France! And as 
sure as the sun shall rise on a conquered people, so 
sure shall rise that red spectre we call the Inter 
nationale." 

The man astonished me. He put into words a 
prophecy which had haunted me from the day that 
war was declared a prophetic fear which had haunted 
men higher up in the service of the Empire thinking 
men who knew what war meant to a country whose 
government was as rotten as its army was unprepared, 
whose political chiefs were as vain, incompetent, igno 
rant, and weak as were the chiefs of its brave army 
an army riddled with politics, weakened by intrigue 
and neglect an army used ignobly, perverted, cheated, 
lied to, betrayed, abandoned. 

That, for once, Buckhurst spoke the truth as he 
foresaw it, I did not question. That he was right in 
his infernal calculations, I was fearsomely persuaded. 
And now the game had advanced, and I must display 
what cards I had, or pretended to have. 

"Are you trying to bribe me?" I blurted out, weakly. 

"Bribe you," he repeated, in contempt. "No. If 
the prospect does not please you, I have only to say 
a word to the provost marshal." 

" Wouldn't that injure your prospects with the Coun 
tess?" I said, with fat-brained cunning. "You cannot 
betray me and hope for her friendship." 

He glanced up at me, measured my mental capacity, 
then nodded. 

"I can't force you that way," he admitted. 

" He's bound to get to Paradise. Why?" I wondered, 
and said, aloud : 

"What do you want of me?" 
117 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

" I want immunity from the secret police, Mr. Scarlett. " 

"Where?" 

"Wherever I may be." 

"In Morbihan?" 

"Yes." 

"In Paradise?" 

"Yes." 

I was silent for a moment, then, looking him in the 
eye, "What do I gain?" 

Ah, the cat was out now. Buckhurst did not move, 
but I saw the muscles of his face relax, and he drew a 
deep, noiseless breath. 

"Well," he said, coolly, "you may keep those dia 
monds, for one thing." 

Presently I said, "And for the next thing?" 

"You are high-priced, Mr. Scarlett," he observed. 

"Oh, very," .1 said, with that offensive, swaggering 
menace in my voice which is peculiar to the weak 
criminal the world over. 

So I asserted myself and scowled at him and told 
him I was no fool and taunted him with my impor 
tance to his schemes and said I was not born yesterday, 
and that if Paris was to be divided I knew what part 
I wanted and meant to stand no nonsense from him 
or anybody. 

All of which justified the opinion he had already 
formed of me, and justified something else, too his 
faith in his own eloquence, logic, and powers of per 
suasion. Not that I meant to make his mistake and 
undervalue him; he was an intelligent, capable, re 
markable criminal with the one failing an over 
confident contempt of all men. 

"There is one thing I want to ask you," said I. 
"Why do you desire to go to Paradise?" 

He did not answer me at once, and I studied his 
passionless profile as he gazed out of the window. 

118 



A STRUGGLE FORESHADOWED 

"Well," he said, slowly, "I shall not tell you." 

"Why not?" I demanded. 

" But I'll say this," he continued. " I want you to 
come to Paradise with me and that fool of a woman. 
I want you to report to your government that you are 
watching the house in Paradise, and that you are 
hoping to catch me there." 

"How can I do that?" I asked. "As soon as the 
government caich'es the Countess de Vassart she will 
be sent across the frontier." 

" Not if you inform your government that you desire 
to use her and the others as a bait to draw me to Para 
dise." 

"Oh, that's it, is it?" I asked, thoughtfully. 

"Yes," said Buckhurst, "that's it." 

"And you do not desire to inform me why you are 
going to stay in Paradise?" 

"Don't you think you'll be clever enough to find 
out?" he asked, with a sneer. 

I did think so; more than that, I let him see that 
I thought so, and he was contented with my con 
ceit. 

"One thing more," I said, blustering a little, "I want 
to know whether you mean any harm to that innocent 
girl?" 

"Who? The Countess? What do you mean? Harm 
her? Do you think I waste my thoughts on that little 
fool? She is not a factor in anything except that 
just now I'm using her and mean to use her house in 
Paradise." 

"Haven't you stripped her of every cent she has?" 
I asked. "What do you want of her now?" And I 
added something about respect due to women. 

"Oh yes, of course," he said, with a vague glance at 
the street below. "You need not worry; nobody's 
going to hurt her He suddenly shifted his eyes to 

119 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

me. "You haven't taken a fancy to her, have you?" 
he asked, in faint disgust. 

I saw that he thought me weak enough for any sen 
timent, even a noble one. 

" If you think it pays/' he muttered, " marry her and 
beat her, for all I care ; but don't play loose with me, my 
friend; as a plain matter of business it won't pay you." 

"Is that a threat?" I asked, in the bullying tone of a 
born coward. 

" No, not a threat, a plain matter of profit and loss, 
a simple business proposition. For, suppose you be 
tray me and, by a miracle, live to boast of it? What 
is your reward? A colonelcy in the Military Police 
with a few thousand francs salary, and, in your old 
age, a pension which might permit you to eat meat 
twice a week. Against that, balance what I offer 
free play in a helpless city, and no one to hinder you 
from salting awav as many millions as you can carry 
off!" 

Presently I said, weakly, " And what, once more, is 
the service you ask of me?" 

"I ask you to notify the government that you are 
watching Paradise, that you do not arrest the Countess 
and Dr. Delmont because you desire to use them as a 
bait to catch me." 

"Is that all?" 

"That is all. We will start for Paris together; I 
shall leave you before we get there. But I'll see you 
later in Paradise." 

" You refuse to tell me why you wish to stay at the 
house in Paradise?" 

" Yes, ... I refuse. And, by-the-way, the Countess 
is to think that I have presented myself in Paris and 
that the government has pardoned me." 

" You are willing to believe that I will not have you 
arrested?" 

120 



A STRUGGLE FORESHADOWED 

" I don't ask you to promise. If you are fool enough 
to try it try it! But I'm not going to give you the 
chance in Paris only in Paradise." 

"You don't require my word of honor?" 

"Word of what? Well no; . . . it's a form I can 
dispense with." 

"But how can you protect yourself?" 

" If all the protection I had was a ' word of honor, ' 
I'd be in a different business, my friend." 

"And you are willing to risk me, and you are per 
fectly capable of taking care of yourself?" 

"I think so," he said, quietly. 

"Trusting to my common-sense as a business man 
not to be fool enough to cut my own throat by cutting 
yours?" I persisted. 

"Exactly, and trusting to a few other circumstances, 
the details of which I beg permission to keep to my 
self," he said, with a faint sneer. 

He rose and walked to the window ; at the same mo 
ment I heard the sound of wheels below. 

"I believe that is our carriage/' he said. "Are you 
ready to start, Mr. Scarlett?" 

"Now?" I exclaimed. 

"Why not? I'm not in the habit of dawdling over 
anything. Come, sir, there is nothing very serious 
the matter with you, is there?" 

I said nothing ; he knew, of course, the exact state of 
the wound I had received, that the superficial injury 
was of no account, that the shock had left me sound 
as a silver franc though a trifle weak in the hips and 
knees. 

"Is the Countess de Vassart to go with us?" I asked, 
trying to find a reason for these events which were 
succeeding one another too quickly to suit me. 

He gave me an absent-minded nod; a moment later 
the Countess entered. She had mended her black 

121 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

crepe gown where I tore it when I hung in the shadow 
of death under the battlements of La Trappe. She 
wore black gloves, a trifle shabby, and carried a worn 
satchel in her hands. 

Buckhurst aided me to rise, the Countess threw my 
hussar jacket over my shoulders and buttoned it; I 
felt the touch of her cool, little fingers on my hot, un- 
shaved throat. 

"I congratulate you on your convalescence," she 
said, in a low voice. "Lean on me, monsieur." 

My head swam; hips and knees were without 
strength; she aided me down the stairway and out 
into the pale sunshine, where stood the same mud- 
splashed, rusty vehicle which had brought us hither 
from La Trappe. 

The Countess had only a satchel and a valise ; Buck- 
hurst's luggage comprised a long, flat, steel-bound box, 
a satchel, and a parcel. I had nothing. My baggage, 
which I had left in Morsbronn, had without doubt 
been confiscated long since ; my field - glasses, sabre, 
and revolver were gone; I had only what clothes I 
was wearing a dirty, ragged, gray-blue flannel shirt, 
my muddy jacket, scarlet riding-breeches, and officer's 
boots. But in one of the hip-pockets of my breeches 
I carried a fortune in diamonds. 

As I stood beside the carriage, wondering how I 
was going to get in, I felt an arm slip under my neck 
and another slide gently under my knees, and Buck- 
hurst lifted me. Beneath the loose, gray coat-sleeves 
his bent arms were rigid as steel; his supple frame 
straightened; he moved a step forward and laid me 
on the shabby cushions. 

The Covmtess looked at me, turned and glanced up 
at her smoke-blackened house, where a dozen Prussian 
soldiers leaned from the lower windows smoking their 
long porcelain pipes and the provost marshal stood in 

12?. 



the doorway, helmeted, spurred, immaculate from golden 
cheek-guard to the glittering tip of his silver scabbard. 
An Uhlan, dismounted, stood on guard below the steps, 
his lance at a "present," the black-and-white swallow- 
tailed pennon drooping from the steel point. 

The Countess bent her pretty head under its small 
black hat; the provost's white-gloved hand flew to his 
aelmet peak. 

"Fear nothing, madame," he said, pompously. 
"Your house and its contents are safe until you re 
turn. This village is now German soil." 

The Countess looked at him steadily, gravely. 

" I thank you, monsieur, but frontiers are not changed 
in a day." 

But she was mistaken. Alsace henceforth must 
be written Elsass, and the devastated province called 
Lothringen was never again to be written Lorraine. 

The Countess stepped into the carriage and took her 
place beside me; Buckhurst followed, seating himself 
opposite us, and the Alsatian driver mounted to the 
box. 

"Your safe-conduct carries you to the French out 
posts at Saverne," said the provost, dryly. "If there 
are no longer French outposts at Saverne, you may 
demand a vise for your pass and continue south to 
Strasbourg." 

Buckhurst half turned towards the driver. "Allez," 
he said, quietly, and the two gaunt horses moved on. 

There was a chill in the white sunshine the first 
touch of autumn. Not a trace of the summer's balm 
remained in the air; every tree on the mountain out 
lines stood out sharp-cut in the crystalline light; the 
swift little streams that followed the road ran clear 
above autumn-brown pebbles and golden sands. 

Distant beach woods were turning yellow; yellow 
gorse lay like patches of sunshine on the foot-hills; 

123 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

oceans of yellow grain belted the terraced vineyards. 
Here and there long, velvet} 7 , black strips cut the green 
and gold, the trail of fire which had scarred the grain 
belts ; here and there pillars of smoke floated, dominat 
ing blue \voodlands, where the flames of exploding 
shells had set the forest afire. 

Already from the plateau I could see a streak of 
silver reflecting the intense blue sky the Rhine, upon 
whose westward cliffs France had mounted guard but 
yesterday. 

And now the Rhine was lost, and the vast granite 
bastions of the Vosges looked out upon a sea of German 
forests. Above the Col du Pigeonnier the semaphore 
still glistened, but its signals now travelled eastward, 
and strange flags fluttered on its invisible halliards. 
And every bridge was guarded by helmeted men who 
halted us, and every tunnel was barred by mounted 
Uhlans who crossed their lances to the ominous shout : 
"Werda? On ne basse bas!" The Vosges were lit 
erally crawling with armed men! 

Driving slowly along the base of the hills, I had 
glimpses of rocky defiles which pierced the moun 
tain wall; and through every defile poured infantry 
and artillery in unbroken columns, and over every 
mountain pass streamed endless files of horsemen. 
Railroad tunnels were choked with slowly moving 
trains piled high w r ith artillery; viaducts glistened 
with helmets all moving westward ; every hillock, every 
crag, every height had its group of tiny dark dots or 
its solitary Uhlan. 

Very far away I heard cannon so far away that the 
hum of the cannonade was no louder than the panting 
of our horses on the white hill-road, and I could hear 
it only when the carriage stopped at intervals. 

"Do we take the railroad at Saverne?" I asked at 
last. "Is there a railroad there?" 

124 



A STRUGGLE FORESHADOWED 

Buckhurst looked up at me. "It is rather strange 
that a French officer should not know the railroads in 
his own country/' he said. 

I was silent. I was not the only officer whose shame 
was his ignorance of the country he had sworn to de 
fend. Long before the war broke out, every German 
regimental officer, commissioned and non-commissioned, 
carried a better map of France than could be found in 
France itself. And the French government had issued 
to us a few wretched charts of Germany, badly printed, 
full of gross errors, one or two maps to a regiment, 
and a few scattered about among the corps headquar 
ters among officers who did not even know the general 
topography of their own side of the Rhine. 

" Is there a railroad at Saverne?" I repeated, sullenly. 

"You will take a train at Strasbourg," replied Buck- 
hurst. 

"And then?" 

"And then you go to Avricourt," he said. "I sup 
pose at least you know where that is?" 

"It is on the route to Paris," said I, keeping my 
temper. "Are we going direct to Paris?" 

"Madame de Vassart desires to go there," he said, 
glancing at her with a sort of sneaking deference which 
he now assumed in her presence. 

"It is true," said the Countess, turning to me. "I 
wish to rest for a little while before I go to Point Para 
dise. I am curiously tired of poverty, Monsieur Scar 
lett," she added, and held out her shabby gloves with 
a gesture of despair ; " I am reduced to very little I 
have scarcely anything left, . . . and I am weak 
enough to long for the scent of the winter violets on 
the boulevards." 

With a faint smile she touched the bright hair above 
her brow, where the wind had flung a gleaming tendril 
over her black veil. 

125 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

As I looked at her, I marvelled that she had found 
it possible to forsake all that was fair and lovely in 
life, to dare ignore caste, to deliberately face ridicule 
and insult and the scornful anger of her own kind, 
for the sake of the filthy scum festering in the sink 
holes of the world. 

There are brave priests who go among lepers, there 
are brave missionaries who dispute with the devil over 
the souls of half-apes in the Dark Continent. Under 
the Cross they do the duty they were bred to. 

But she was bred to other things. Her lungs were 
never made to breathe the polluted atmosphere of the 
proletariat, yelping and slavering in their kennels; 
her strait young soul was never born for communion 
with the crooked souls of social pariahs, with the 
stunted and warped intelligence of fanatics, with the 
crippled but fierce minds which dominated the Inter 
nationale. 

Not that such contact could ever taint her; but it 
might break her heart one day. 

"You will think me very weak and cowardly to 
seek shelter and comfort at such a time," she said, 
raising her gray eyes to me. " But I feel as though all 
my strength had slipped away from me. I mean to 
go back to my work ; I only need a few days of quiet 
among familiar scenes pleasant scenes that I knew 
when I was young. I think that if I could only see 
a single care-free face only one among all those who 
who once seemed to love me " 

She turned her head* quickly and stared out at the 
tall pines which fringed the dusty road. 

Buckhurst blinked at her. 

It was late in the afternoon when the last Prussian 
outpost hailed us. I had been asleep for hours, but 
was awakened by the clatter of horses, and I opened 

126 



A STRUGGLE FORESHADOWED 

my eyes to see a dozen Uhlans come cantering up 
and surround our carriage. 

After a long discussion with Buckhurst and a rigid 
scrutiny of our permit to pass the lines, the slim officer 
in command vised the order. One of the troopers tied 
a white handkerchief to his lance-tip, wheeled his wiry 
horse, and, followed by a trumpeter, trotted off ahead 
of us. Our carriage creaked after them, slowly moving 
to the summit of a hill over which the road rose. 

Presently, very far away on the gray-green hill- side, 
I saw a bit of white move. The Uhlan flourished his 
lance from which the handkerchief fluttered ; the trump 
eter set his trumpet to his lips and blew the parley. 

One minute, two, three, ten passed. Then, distant 
galloping sounded along the road, nearer, nearer; 
three horsemen suddenly wheeled into view ahead 
French dragoons, advancing at a solid gallop. The 
Uhlan with the flag spurred forward to meet them, 
saluted, wheeled his horse, and came back. 

Paid mercenary that I was, my heart began to beat 
very fast at sight of those French troopers with their 
steel helmets bound with leopard-hide and their horse 
hair plumes whipping the breeze, and their sun-bronzed, 
alert faces and pleasant eyes. I had had enough of 
the supercilious, near-sighted eyes of the Teuton. 

As for the young Countess, she sat there smiling, 
while the clumsy dragoons came rattling up, beaming 
at my red riding-breeches, and all saluting the Count 
ess with a cheerful yet respectful swagger that touched 
me deeply as 1 noted the lines of hunger in their lean 
jaws. 

And now the brief ceremony was over and our rusty 
vehicle moved off down the hill, while the Uhlans turned 
bridle and clattered off, scattering showers of muddy 
gravel in the rising wind. 

The remains of our luncheon lay in a basket under 
127 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

our seat plenty of bread and beef, and nearly a quart 
of red wine. 

"Call the escort they are starving," I said to Buck- 
hurst. 

"I think not," he said, coolly. "I may eat again." 

"Call the escort!" I repeated, sharply. 

Buckhurst looked up at me in silence, then glanced 
warily at the Countess. 

A few moments later the gaunt dragoons were munch 
ing dry bread as they rode, passing the bottle from 
saddle to saddle. 

We were ascending another hill; the Countess, anx 
ious to stretch her limbs, had descended to the road, 
and now walked ahead, one hand holding her hat, 
which the ever-freshening wind threatened. 

Buckhurst bent towards me and said: "My friend, 
your suggestion that we deprive ourselves to feed those 
cavalrymen was a trifle peremptory in tone. I am 
wondering how much your tone will change when we 
reach Paris." 

"You will see," said I. 

"Oh, of course 111 see," he said, . . . "and so will 

you." 

"I thought you had means to protect yourself," I 
observed. 

" I have. Besides, I think you would rather keep 
those diamonds than give them up for the pleasure of 
playing me false." 

I laughed in a mean manner, which reassured him. 
"Look here," said I, "if I were to make trouble for 
you in Paris I'd be the most besotted fool in France, 
and you know it." 

He nodded. 

And so I should have been. For there was something 
vastly more important to do than to arrest John Buck 
hurst for theft ; and before I suffered a hair of his sleek, 

128 



A STRUGGLE FORESHADOWED 

gray head to come to harm I'd have hung myself for a 
hopeless idiot. Oh no ; my friend John Buckhurst had 
such colossal irons in the fire that I knew it would take 
many more men as strong as he to lift them out again. 
And I meant to know what those irons were for, and 
who were the gentlemen to aid him lift them. So not 
only must Buckhurst remain free as a lively black 
cricket in a bog, but he must not be frightened if I could 
help it. 

And to that end I leered at him knowingly, and 
presently bestowed a fatuous wink upon him. 

It was unpleasant for me to do this, for it implied that 
I was his creature; and, in spite of the remorseless re 
quirements of my profession, I have an inborn hatred 
of falsehood in any shape. To lie in the line of duty 
is one of the disagreeable necessities of certain pro 
fessions; and mine is not the only one nor the least 
respectable. The art of war is to deceive; strategy 
is the art of demonstrating falsehood plausibly; there 
is nothing respectable in the military profession except 
the manual which is now losing importance in the 
eyes of advanced theorists. All men are liars a few 
are unselfish ones. 

"You have given me your word of honor," said 
Buckhurst. 

"Have I?" I had not, and he knew it. I hoped I 
might not be forced to. 

"Haven't you?" asked Buckhurst. 

"You sneered at my word of honor," I said, with all 
the spite of a coward; "now you don't get it." 

He no longer wanted it, but all he said was : " Don't 
take unnecessary offence; you're smart enough to 
know when you're well off." 

I dozed towards sunset, waking when the Countess 
stepped back into the carriage and seated herself by 
9 129 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

my side. Then, after a little, I slept again. And it 
was nearly dark when I was awakened by the startling- 
whistle of a locomotive. The carriage appeared to be 
moving slowly between tall rows of poplars and tele 
graph-poles ; a battery of artillery was clanking along 
just ahead. In the dark southern sky a luminous haze 
hung. 

" The lights of Strasbourg/' whispered the Countess, 
as I sat up, rubbing my hot eyes. 

I looked for Buckhurst; his place was empty. 

"Mr. Buckhurst left us at the railroad crossing," 
she said. 

"Left us!" 

"Yes! He boarded a train loaded with wounded. 
. . . He had business to transact in Colmar before 
he presented himself to the authorities in Paris. . . . 
And we are to go by way of Avricourt." 

So Buckhurst had already begun to execute his 
programme. But the abrupt, infernal precision of the 
man jarred me unpleasantly. 

In the dark I felt cautiously for my diamonds; they 
were safe in my left hip-pocket. 

The wind had died out, and a fine rain began to filter 
down through a mist which lay over the flat plain as 
we entered the suburbs of Strasbourg. 

Again arid again we were halted by sentinels, then 
permitted to proceed in the darkness, along deserted 
avenues lighted by gas-jets burning in tall bronze 
lamp-posts through a halo of iridescent fog. 

We passed deserted suburban villas, blank stretches 
of stucco walls enclosing gardens, patches of cabbages, 
thickets of hop-poles to which the drenched vines clung 
fantastically, and scores of abandoned houses, shutters 
locked, blinds drawn. 

High to the east the ramparts of the city loomed, 
130 



A STRUGGLE FORESHADOWED 

set at regular distances with electric lights; from the 
invisible citadel rockets were rising, spraying the fog 
with jewelled flakes, crumbling to golden powder in the 
starless void above. 

Presently our carriage stopped before a tremen 
dous mass of masonry pierced by an iron, arched gate, 
through which double files of farm-wagons were roll 
ing, escorted by customs guards and marines. 

"No room! no room!" shouted the soldiers. "This 
is the Porte de Pierre. Go to the Porte de Sa- 
verne!" 

So we passed on beneath the bastions, skirting the 
ramparts to the Porte de Saverne, where, after a ha 
rangue, the gate guards admitted us, and we entered 
Strasbourg in the midst of a crush of vehicles. At the 
railroad station hundreds of cars choked the tracks; 
loaded freight trains stalled in the confusion, trains 
piled with ammunition and provisions, trains crowd 
ed with horses and cattle and sheep, filling the air 
with melancholy plaints; locomotives backing and 
whistling, locomotives blowing off deafening blasts of 
steam; gongs sounding, bells ringing, station-masters' 
trumpets blowing; and, above all, the immense clam 
or of human voices. 

The Countess and our Alsatian driver helped me 
to the platform. I looked around with dread at the 
throng, being too weak to battle for a foothold ; but the 
brave Alsatian elbowed a path for me, and the Countess 
warded off the plunging human cattle, and at length 
I found myself beside the cars where line-soldiers stood 
guard at every ten paces and gendarmes stalked about, 
shoving the frantic people into double files. 

" Last train for Paris!" bawled an official in gilt and 
blue; and to the anxious question of the Countess 
he shook his head, saying, "There is no room, ma- 
dame ; it is utterly impossible pardon, I cannot discuss 

131 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

anything now ; the Prussians are signalled at Ostwald, 
and their shells may fall here at any moment." 

" If that is so," I said, " this lady cannot stay here!" 

" I can't help that!" he shouted, starting off down the 
platform. 

I caught the sleeve of a captain of gendarmerie who 
was running to enter a first-class compartment. 

"Eh what do you want, monsieur?" he snapped, 
in surprise. Then, as I made him a sign, he regarded 
me with amazement. I had given the distress signal 
of the secret police. 

"Try to make room for this lady in your compart 
ment," I said. 

" Willingly, monsieur. Hasten, madame ; the train is 
already moving!" and he tore open the compartment 
door and swung the Countess to the car platform. 

I suppose she thought I was to follow, for when the 
officer slammed the compartment door she stepped to 
the window and tried to open it. 

" Quick!" she cried to the guard, who had just locked 
the door; "help that officer in! He is wounded can't 
you see he is wounded?" 

The train was gliding along the asphalt platform; 
I hobbled beside the locked compartment, where she 
stood at the window. 

"Will you unlock that door?" said the Countess to 
the guard. "I wish to leave the train!" 

The cars were rolling a little faster than I could move 
along. 

The Countess leaned from the open window ; through 
the driving rain her face in the lamp-light was pitifully 
white. I made a last effort and caught up with her car. 

"A safe journey, madame," I stammered, catching 
at the hand she held out and brushing the shabby- 
gloved fingers with my lips. 

"I shall never forgive this wanton self-sacrifice," 
132 




IKeproduced by permission of Guupil & Co., of Paris 

"SISTERS OF CHARITY WERE GIVING FIRST AID" 



A STRUGGLE FORESHADOWED 

she said, unsteadily. Then the car rolled silently past 
me, swifter, swifter, and her white face faded from my 
sight. Yet still I stood there, bareheaded, in the rain, 
while the twin red lamps on the rear car grew smaller 
and smaller, until they, too, were shut out in the closing 
curtains of the fog. 

As I turned away into the lighted station a hospital 
train from the north glided into the yard and stopped. 
Soldiers immediately started carrying out the wounded 
and placing them in rows on mattresses ranged along 
the walls of the passenger depot; sisters of charity, 
hovering over the mutilated creatures, were already 
giving first aid to the injured ; policemen kept the crowd 
from trampling the dead and dying ; gendarmes began 
to clear the platforms, calling out sharply, " No more 
trains to-night! Move on! This platform is for gov 
ernment officials only!" 

Through the scrambling mob a file of wounded tot 
tered, escorted by police; women were forced back and 
pushed out into the street, only to be again menaced by 
galloping military ambulances arriving, accompanied 
by hussars. The confusion grew into a tumult ; men 
struggled and elbowed for a passage to the platforms, 
women sobbed and cried ; through the uproar the treble 
wail of terrified children broke out. 

Jostled, shoved, pulled this way and that, I felt that 
I was destined to go down under the people's feet, and 
I don't know what would have become of me had not a 
violent push sent me against the door of the telegraph 
office. The door gave way, and I fell on my knees, 
staggered to my feet, and crept out once more to the 
platform. 

The station-master passed, a haggard gentleman 
in rumpled uniform and gilt cap; and as he left the 
office by the outer door the heavy explosion of a ram 
part cannon shook the station. 

133 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

"Can you get me to Paris?" I asked. 

" Quick, then," he muttered ; " this way lean on me, 
monsieur! I am trying to send another train out 
but Heaven alone knows! Quick, this way!" 

The glare of a locomotive's headlight dazzled me; 
I made towards it, clinging to the arm of the station- 
master; the ground under my feet rocked with the 
shock of the siege-guns. Suddenly a shell fell and 
burst in the yard outside; there was a cry, a rush of 
trainmen, a gendarme shouting; then the piercing 
alarm notes of locomotives, squealing like terrified 
leviathans. 

The train drawn up along the platform gave a jerk 
and immediately moved out towards the open coun 
try, compartment doors swinging wide, trainmen and 
guards running alongside, followed by a mob of fren 
zied passengers, who leaped into empty compartments, 
flinging satchels and rugs to the four winds. Crash! 
A shell fell through the sloping roof of the platform 
and blew up. Through the white cloud and brilliant 
glare I saw a porter, wheeling boxes and trunks, fall, 
buried under an avalanche of baggage, and a sister of 
charity throw up her arms as though to shield her face 
from the fragments. 

A car, doors swinging wide, glided past me ; I caught 
the rail and fell forward into a compartment. The 
cushions of the seats were afire, and a policeman was 
hammering out the sparks with naked fists. 

I was too weak to aid him. Presently he hurled the 
last burning cushion from the open door and leaped 
out into the train -yard, where red and green lamps 
glowed and the brilliant flare of bursting shells lighted 
the fog. By this time the train was moving swiftly; 
the car windows shook with the thunder from the ram 
parts under which we were passing; then came inky 
darkness a tunnel then a rush of mist and wind 

134 



A STRUGGLE FORESHADOWED 

from the open door as we swept out into the coun 
try. 

Passengers clinging to the platforms now made their 
way into the compartment where I lay almost senseless, 
and soon the little place was crowded, and somebody 
slammed the door. 

Then the flying locomotive, far ahead, shrieked, 
and the train leaped, rushing forward into the unknown. 
Blackness, stupefying blackness, outside; inside, un 
seen, the huddled passengers, breathing heavily with 
sudden stifled sobs, or the choked, indrawn breath of 
terror; but not a word, not a quaver of human voices; 
peril strangled speech as our black train flew onward 
through the night. 



VIII 

A MAN TO LET 

THE train which bore me out of the arc of the 
Prussian fire at Strasbourg passed in between the 
fortifications of Paris the next morning about eleven 
o'clock. Ten minutes later I was in a closed cab on 
my way to the headquarters of the Imperial Military 
Police, temporarily housed in the Luxembourg Palace. 

The day was magnificent; sunshine flooded the 
boulevards, and a few chestnut - trees in the squares 
had already begun to blossom for the second time in 
the season ; there seemed to be no prophecy of autumn 
in sky or sunlight. 

The city, as I saw it from the open window of my cab, 
appeared to be in a perfectly normal condition. There 
were, perhaps, a few more national-guard soldiers on 
the streets, a few more brightly colored posters, notices, 
and placards on the dead walls, but the life of the city 
itself had not changed at all; the usual crowds filled 
the boulevards, the usual street cries sounded, the 
same middle-aged gentlemen sat in front of the cafes 
reading the same daily papers, the same waiters served 
them the same drinks; rows of cabs were drawn up 
where cabs are always to be found, and the same police 
men dawdled in gossip with the same flower-girls. 
I caught the scent of early winter violets in the fresh 
Parisian breeze. 

Was this the city that Buckhurst looked upon as 
already doomed? 

136 



A MAN TO LET 

On the marble bridge gardeners were closing up the 
morning flower-market; blue-bloused men with jointed 
hose sprinkled the asphalt in front of the Palais de Jus 
tice; students strolled under the trees from the School 
of Medicine to the Sorbonne ; the Luxembourg fountain 
tossed its sparkling sheets of spray among the lotus. 

All this I saw, yet a sinister foreboding oppressed 
me, and I could not shake it off even in this bright 
city where September was promising only a new lease 
of summer and the white spikes of chestnut blossoms 
hummed with eager bees. 

Physically I felt well enough ; the cramped sleep in 
the dark compartment, far from exhausting me, had 
not only rested me, but had also brought me an appetite 
which I meant to satisfy as soon as might be. As for 
my back, it was simply uncomfortable, but all effects 
of the shock had disappeared unless this heavy mental 
depression was due to it. 

My cab was now entering the Palace of the Luxem 
bourg by the great arch facing the Rue de Tournon; 
the line sentinels halted us; I left the cab, crossed the 
parade in front of the guard-house, turned to the right, 
and climbed the stairs straight to my own quarters, 
which were in the west wing of the palace, and consisted 
of a bedroom, a working cabinet, and a dressing-room. 

But I did not enter my door or even glance at it; I 
continued straight on, down the corridor to a door, 
on the ground-glass panes of which was printed in 
red lettering: 



HEADQUARTERS 

IMPERIAL MILITARY POLICE 

SAFE DEPOSIT 

137 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

The sentinel interrogated me for form's sake, although 
he knew me; I entered, passed rapidly along the face 
of the steel cage behind which some officers sat on high 
stools, writing, and presented myself at the guichet 
marked, "Foreign Division." 

There was no military clerk in attendance there, and, 
to my surprise, the guichet was closed. 

However, a very elegant officer strolled up to the 
guichet as I laid my bag of diamonds on the glass shelf, 
languidly unlocked the steel window-gate, and picked 
up the bag of jewels. 

The officer was Mornac, the Emperor's alter ego, or 
ame damnde, who had taken over the entire department 
the very day I left Paris for the frontier. Officially, I 
could not recognize him until I presented myself to 
Colonel Jarras with my report ; so I saluted his uniform, 
standing at attention in my filthy clothes, awaiting 
the usual question and receipt. 

"Name and number?" inquired Mornac, indolently. 

I gave both. 

"You desire to declare?" 

I enumerated the diamonds, and designated them as 
those lately stolen from the crucifix of Louis XI. 

Mornac handed me a printed certificate of deposit, 
opened a compartment in the safe, and tossed in the 
bag without sealing it. And, as I stood waiting, he 
lighted a scented cigarette, glanced over at me, puffed 
once or twice, and finally dismissed me with a dis 
courteous nod. 

I went, because he was Mornac; I thought that I 
was entitled to a bureau receipt, but could scarcely 
demand one from the chief of the entire department 
who had taken over the bureau solely in order to reform 
it, root and branch. Doubtless his curt dismissal of 
me without the customary receipt and his failure to 
seal the bag were two of his reforms. 

138 



A MAN TO LET 

I limped off past the glittering steel cage, thankful 
that the jewels were safe, turned into the corridor, and 
hastened back to my own rooms. 

To tear off my rags, bathe, shave, and dress in a light 
suit of civilian clothes took me longer than usual, for 
I was a trifle lame. 

Bath and clean clothes ought to have cheered me; 
but the contrary was the case, and I sat down to a 
breakfast brought by a palace servant, and ate it 
gloomily, thinking of Buckhurst, and the Countess, 
and of Morsbronn, and of the muddy dead lying under 
the rifle smoke below my turret window. 

I thought, too, of that astonishing conspiracy which 
had formed under the very shadow of the imperial 
throne, and through which already the crucifix and 
diamonds of Louis XL had been so nearly lost to France. 

Who besides Buckhurst was involved ? How far had 
Colonel Jarras gone in the investigation during my 
absence? How close to the imperial throne had the 
conspiracy burrowed? 

Pondering, I slowly retraced my steps through the 
bedroom and dressing-room, and out into the tiled hall 
way, where, at the end of the dim corridor, the door 
of Colonel Jarras 's bureau stood partly open. 

Jarras was sitting at his desk as I entered, and he 
gave me a leaden-eyed stare as I closed the door behind 
me and stood at attention. 

For a moment he said nothing, but presently he partly 
turned his ponderous body towards me and motioned 
me to a chair. 

As I sat down I glanced around and saw my old 
comrade, Speed, sitting in a dark corner, chewing a 
cigarette and watching me in alert silence. 

"You are present to report?" suggested Colonel 
Jarras, heavily. 

I bowed, glancing across at Speed, who shrugged 
139 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

his shoulders and looked at the floor with an ominous 
smile. 

Mystified, I began my report, but was immediately 
stopped by Jarras with a peevish gesture : " All right, 
all right; keep all that for the Chief of Department. 
Your report doesn't concern me." 

"Doesn't concern you!" I repeated; "are you not 
chief of this bureau, Colonel Jarras?" 

"No," snapped Jarras; "and there's no bureau 
now at least no bureau for the Foreign Division." 

Speed leaned forward and said : " Scarlett, my friend, 
the Foreign Division of the Imperial Military Police 
is not in favor just now. It appears the Foreign Divi 
sion is suspected." 

"Suspected? Of what?" 

"Treason, I suppose," said Speed, serenely. 

I felt my face begin to burn, but the astonishing 
news left me speechless. 

" I said," observed Speed, " that the Foreign Division 
is suspected ; that is not exactly the case ; it is not sus 
pected, simply because it has been abolished." 

"Who the devil did that?" I asked, savagely. 

"Mornac." 

Mornac! The Emperor's shadow! Then truly 
enough it was all up with the Foreign Division. But 
the shame of it! the disgrace of as faithful a body 
of police, mercenaries though they were, as ever worked 
for any cause, good or bad. 

"So it's the old whine of treason again, is it?" I said, 
while the blood beat in my temples. "Oh, very well, 
doubtless Monsieur Mornac knows his business. Are 
we transferred, Speed, or just kicked out into the 
street?" 

"Kicked out," replied Speed, rubbing his slim, bony 
hands together. 

"And you, sir?" I asked, turning to Jarras, who sat 
140 



A MAN TO LET 

with his fat, round head buried in his shoulders, staring 
at the discolored blotter on his desk. 

The old Corsican straightened as though stung: 
"Since when, monsieur, have subordinates assumed 
the right to question their superiors?" 

I asked his pardon in a low voice, although I was 
no longer his subordinate. He had been a good and 
loyal chief to us all ; the least I could do now was to 
show him respect in his bitter humiliation. 

I think he felt our attitude and that it comforted him, 
but all he said was : " It is a heavy blow. The Em 
peror knows best." 

As we sat there in silence, a soldier came to summon 
Colonel Jarras, and he went away, leaning on his ivory- 
headed cane, head bowed over the string of medals on 
his breast. 

When he had gone, Speed came over and shut the 
door, then shook hands with me. 

" He's gone to see Mornac ; it will be our turn next. 
Look out for Mornac, or he'll catch you tripping in your 
report. Did you find Buckhurst?" 

"Look here," I said, angrily, "how can Mornac 
catch me tripping? I'm not under his orders." 

" You are until you're discharged. You see, they've 
taken it into their heads, since the crucifix robbery, to 
suspect everybody and anybody short of the Emperor. 
Mornac came smelling around here the day you left. 
He's at the bottom of all this a nice business to cast 
suspicion on our division because we're foreigners. 
Gad, he looks like a pickpocket himself he's got the 
oblique trick of the eyes and the restless finger move 
ment." 

"Perhaps he is," I said. 

Speed looked at me sharply. 

"If I were in the service now I'd arrest Mornac 
if I dared." 

141 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

"You might as well arrest the Emperor," I said, 
wearily. 

"That's it/' observed Speed, throwing away his 
chewed cigarette. "Nobody dare touch Mornac; no 
body dare even watch him. But if there's a leak some 
where, it's far more probable that Mornac did the dirty 
work than that there's a traitor in our division." 

Presently he added: "Did you catch Buckhurst?" 

"I don't want to talk about it," I said, disgusted. 

" Because," continued Speed, "if you've got him, 
it may save us. Have you?" 

How I wished that I had Buckhurst safely hand 
cuffed beside me! 

"If you've got him," persisted Speed, "we'll shake 
him like a rat until he squeals. And if he names 
Mornac " 

"Do you think that Mornac would give him or us 
the chance?" I said. "Rubbish! He'd do the shak 
ing in camera; and it would only be a hand-shaking 
if Buckhurst is really his creature. And he's rid him 
self of our division, anyhow. Wait ! " I added, sharply ; 
" perhaps that is the excuse ! Perhaps that is the very 
reason that he's abolished the foreign division! We 
may have been getting too close to the root of this 
matter; I had already caught Buckhurst " 

"You had?" cried Speed, eagerly. 

"But I'm not going to talk about it now," I added, 
sullenly. "My troubles are coming; I've a story to 
tell that won't please Mornac, and I have an idea that 
he means mischief to me." 

Speed looked curiously at me, and I went on : 

"I used my own judgment supposing that Jarras 
was my chief. I knew he'd let me take my own way 
but I don't know what Mornac will say." 

However, I was soon to know what Mornac had to 
say, for a soldier appeared to summon us both, and we 

142 



A MAN TO LET 

followed to the temporary bureau which looked out to 
the east over the lovely Luxembourg gardens. 

Jarras passed us as we entered ; his heavy head was 
bent, and I do not suppose that he saw either us or our 
salutes, for he shuffled off down the dark passage, 
tapping his slow way like a blind man ; and Speed and 
I entered, saluting Mornac. 

The personage whom we saluted was a symmetrical, 
highly colored gentleman, with black mustache and 
Oriental eyes. His skin was too smooth there was 
not a line or a wrinkle visible on hand or face, nothing 
but plump flesh pressing the golden collar of his light- 
blue tunic and the half-dozen gold rings on his care 
fully kept, restless fingers. His light, curved sabre 
hung by its silver chain from a nail on a wall behind 
him; beside it, suspended by the neck cord, was his 
astrakhan - trimmed dolman of palest turquoise - blue, 
and over that hung his scarlet cap. 

As he raised his heavy-lidded, insolent eyes to me, I 
thought I had never before appreciated the utter false 
ness of his visage as I did at that moment. Instantly 
I decided that he meant evil to me ; and I instinctively 
glanced at Speed, standing beside me at attention, his 
clear blue eyes alert, his lank limbs and lean head 
fairly tremulous with comprehension. 

At a careless nod from Mornac I muttered the formal 
"I have to report, sir " and began mumbling a per 
functory account of my movements since leaving Paris. 
He listened, idly contemplating a silver penknife which 
he alternately snapped open and closed, the click of 
the spring punctuating my remarks. 

I told the truth as far as I went, which brought me to 
my capture by Uhlans and the natural escape of my 
prisoner, Buckhurst. I merely added that I had se 
cured the diamonds and had managed to reach Paris 
via Strasbourg. 

143 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

"Is that all?" inquired Mornac, listlessly. 

"All I have to report, sir." 

" Permit me to be the judge of how much you have 
to report," said Mornac. "Continue." 

I was silent. 

" Do you prefer that I draw out information by ques 
tions?" asked Mornac, looking up at me. 

I was already in his net ; I ought not to have placed 
myself in the position of concealing anything, yet I 
distrusted him and wished to avoid giving him a chance 
to misunderstand me. But now it was too late; if the 
error could be wiped out at all, the only way to erase 
it was by telling him everything and giving him his 
chance to misinterpret me if he desired it. 

He listened very quietly while I told of my encoun 
ter with Buckhurst in Morsbronn, of our journey to 
Saverne, to Strasbourg, and finally my own arrival in 
Paris. 

"Where is Buckhurst?" he asked. 

"I do not know," I replied, doggedly. 

"That is to say that you had him in your power 
within the French lines yet did not secure him?" 

"Yes." 

"Your orders were to arrest him?" 

"Yes." 

"And shoot him if he resisted?" 

"Yes." 

"But you let him go?" 

"There was something more important to do than 
to arrest Buckhurst. I meant to find out what he had 
on hand in Paradise." 

"So you disobeyed orders?" 

"If you care to so interpret my action." 

"Why did you not arrest the Countess de Vassart?" 

"I did; the Uhlans made me prisoner as I reported 
to you." 

144 



A MAN TO LET 

" I mean, why did you not arrest her after you left 
Morsbronn?" 

" That would have prevented Buckhurst from going 
to Paradise." 

"Your orders were to arrest the Countess?" 

"Yes." 

"Did you obey those orders?" 

"No," I said, between my teeth. 

"Why?" 

"I had every reason to believe that an important 
conspiracy was being ripened somewhere near Para 
dise. I had every reason to believe that the robbery 
of the crown jewels might furnish funds for the plot 
ters. 

" The arrest of one man could not break up the con 
spiracy; I desired to trap the leaders; and to that end 
I deliberately liberated this man Buckhurst as a stool- 
pigeon. If my judgment has been at fault, I accept the 
blame." 

Mornac 's silver penknife closed. Presently he open 
ed the blade again and tested the edge on his plump 
forefinger. 

" I beg to call your attention to the fact," I continued, 
"that a word from Buckhurst to the provost at Mors 
bronn would have sent me before the squad of execu 
tion. In a way, I bought my freedom. But," I added, 
slowly, " I should never have bought it if the bargain 
by which I saved my own skin had been a betrayal 
of France. Nobody wants to die ; but in my profession 
we discount that. No man in my division is a physical 
coward. I purchased my freedom not only without 
detriment to France, but, on the contrary, to the advan 
tage of France." 

" At the expense of your honor," observed Mornac. 

My ears were burning ; I advanced a pace and looked 
Mornac straight between the eyes; but his eyes did 

145 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

not meet mine they were fixed on his silver pen 
knife. 

" I did the best I could do in the line of duty/' I said. 
" You ask me why I did not break my word and ar 
rest Buckhurst after we left the German lines. And 
I answer you that I had given my word not to ar 
rest him, in pursuance of my plan to use him fur 
ther." 

Mornac examined his carefully kept finger-tips in 
detail. 

"You say he bribed you?" 

" I said that he attempted to do so," I replied, sharply. 

"With the diamonds?" 

"Yes." 

"You have them?" 

"I deposited them as usual." 

"Bring them." 

Angry as I was, I saluted, wheeled, and hastened off 
to the safe deposit. The jewel-bag was delivered when 
I presented my printed slip ; I picked it up and marched 
back, savagely biting my mustache and striving to 
control my increasing exasperation. Never before had 
I endured insolence from a superior officer. 

Mornac was questioning Speed as I entered, and that 
young man, who has much self-control to learn, was 
already beginning to answer with disrespectful im 
patience, but my advent suspended matters, and Mornac 
took the bag of jewels from my hands and examined it. 
He seemed to be in no hurry to empty it; he lolled in 
his chair with an absent-minded expression like the 
expression of a cat who pretends to forget the mouse 
between her paws. Danger was written all over him; 
I squared my shoulders and studied him, braced for a 
shock. 

The shock came almost immediately, for, without a 
word, he suddenly emptied the jewel-bag on the desk 

146 



A MAN TO LET 

oefore him. The bag contained little pebbles wrapped 
in tissue-paper. 

I heard Speed catch his breath sharply; I stared 
stupidly at the pebbles. Mornac made a careless, sweep 
ing gesture, spreading the pebbles out before us with 
his restless, ringed fingers. 

"Suppose you explain this farce?" he suggested, 
unmoved. 

"Suppose you explain it!" I stammered. 

He raised his delicately arched eyebrows. "What 
do you mean?" 

"I mean that an hour ago that bag contained the 
diamonds from the crucifix of Louis XI. ! I mean that 
I handed them over to you on my arrival at this bureau \" 

"Doubtless you can prove what you say," he ob 
served, and his silver penknife snapped shut like the 
click of a trap, and he lay back in his padded chair 
and slipped the knife into his pocket. 

I looked at Speed ; his sandy hair fairly bristled, but 
his face was drawn and tense. I looked at Mornac; 
his heavy, black eyes met mine steadily. 

"It seems to me," he said, "that it was high time 
we abolished the Foreign Division, Imperial Milita^ 
Police." 

"I refuse to be discharged!" I said, hoarsely. "It 
is your word against mine; I demand an investiga 
tion!" 

" Certainly," he replied, almost wearily, and touched 
a bell. "Bring that witness," he added to the soldier 
fho appeared in answer to the silvery summons. 

"I mean an official inquiry," I said "a court-mar 
tial. It is my right where my honor is questioned." 

" It is my right, when you question my honor, to 
throw you into Mont Vale"rien, neck and heels," he 
said, showing his teeth under his silky, black mustache. 

Almost stunned by his change of tone, I stood like 
147 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

a stone. Somebody entered the room behind me, 
passed me; there was an odor of violets in the air, a 
faint rustle of silk, and I saw Mornac rise and bow 
to his guest and conduct her to a chair. 

His guest was the young Countess de Vassart. 

She looked up at me brightly, gave me a pretty nod 
of recognition, then turned expectantly to Mornac, who 
was still standing at her elbow, saying, " Then it is no 
longer a question of my exile, monsieur?" 

"No, madame; there has been a mistake. The 
government has no reason to suspect your loyalty." 
He turned directly on me. " Madame, do you know 
this officer?" 

"Yes," said the Countess, smiling. 

" Did you see him receive a small sack of diamonds 
in Morsbronn?" 

The Countess gave me a quick glance of surprise. 
"Yes," she said, wonderingly. 

" Thank you, madame; that is sufficient," he replied ; 
and before I could understand what he was about he 
had conducted the Countess to the next room and had 
closed the door behind him. 

"Quick!" muttered Speed at my elbow; "let's back 
out of this trap. There's no use; he's one of them, 
and he means to ruin you." 

"I won't go!" I said, in a cold fury; "I'll choke the 
truth out of him, I tell you." 

" Man ! Man ! He's the Emperor's shadow ! You're 
done for; come on while there's time. I tell you there's 
no hope for you here." 

" Hope ! What do I care?" I said, harshly. " Why, 
Speed, that man is a common thief." 

"What of it?" whispered Speed. "Doesn't every 
body know that the conspiracy runs close to the 
throne? What do you care? Come on, I tell you; 
I've had enough of this rotten government. So have 

148 



A MAN TO LET 

you. And we've both seen enough to ruin us. Come 
on!" 

" But he's got those diamonds ! Do you think I can 
stand that?" 

"I think you've got to/' muttered Speed, savagely. 
"Do you want to rot in Cayenne? If you do, stay 
here and bawl for a court-martial!" 

"But the government " 

"Let the government go to the devil! It's going 
fast enough, anyhow. Come, don't let Mornac find 
us here when he returns. He may be coming now 
quick, Scarlett! We've got to cut for it!" 

"Speed," I said, unsteadily, "it's enough to make 
an honest man strike hands with Buckhurst in earnest. " 

Speed took my arm with a cautious glance at the 
door of the next room, and urged me toward the corri 
dor. 

" The government has kicked us out into the street," 
he muttered; "be satisfied that the government didn't 
kick us into Biribi. And it will yet if you don't come." 

"Come? Where? I haven't any money, and now 
they've got my honor " 

"Rubbish!" he whispered, fairly dragging me into 
the hallway. "Here! No don't go to your rooms. 
Leave everything get clear of this rat-pit, I tell you." 

He half pushed, half dragged me to the parade; then, 
dropping my arm, he struck a jaunty pace through the 
archway, not even glancing at the sentinels. I kept 
pace with him, scarcely knowing what I did. 

In the Rue de Seine I halted suddenly, crying out 
that I must go back, but he seized me with a growl of 
"Idiot! come on!" and fairly shoved me through the 
colonnades of the Institute, along the quay, down the 
river- wall, to a dock where presently a swift river-boat 
swung in for passengers. And when the bateau mouche 
shot out again into mid-stream, Speed and I stood 

149 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

silently on deck, watching the silver - gray facades of 
Paris fly past above us under the blue sky. 

We sat far forward, quite alone, and separated from 
the few passengers by the pilot-house and jointed fun 
nel. And there, carelessly lounging, with one of his 
lank legs crossed over the other and a cigar between 
his teeth, my comrade coolly recounted to me the infa 
mous history of the past week: 

" Jarras put his honest, old, square-toed foot in it by 
accident; I don't know how he managed to do it, but 
this is certain: he suddenly found himself on a per 
fectly plain trail which could only end at Mornac's 
threshold. 

" Then he did a stupid thing he called Mornac in 
and asked him, in perfect faith, to clear up the affair, 
never for a moment suspecting that Mornac was the 
man. 

" That occurred the day you started to catch Buck- 
hurst. And on that day, too, I had found out some 
thing; and like a fool I told Jarras." 

Speed chewed his cigar and laughed. 

"In twenty-four hours Jarras was relieved of his 
command; I was requested not to leave the Luxem 
bourg in other words, I was under arrest, and Mornac 
took over the entire department and abolished the 
Foreign Division 'for the good of the service/ as 
the Official had it next day. 

"Then somebody Mornac probably let loose a 
swarm of those shadowy lies called rumors you know 
how that is done ! and people began to mutter, and the 
cafs began to talk of treason among the foreign police. 
Of course Rochefort took it up; of course the Official 
printed a half-hearted denial which was far worse than 
an avowal. Then the division was abolished, and the 
illustrated papers made filthy caricatures of us, and 
drew pictures of Mornac, sabre in hand, decapitating 

150 



A MAN TO LET 

a nest full of American rattlesnakes and British 
cobras, and Rochefort printed a terrible elaboration 
of the fable of the farmer and the frozen serpent." 

"Oh, that's enough," I said, sick with rage and 
disgust. "Let them look out for their own country 
now. I pity the Empress ; I pity the Emperor. I don't 
know what Mornac means to do, but I know that the 
Internationale boa-constrictor is big enough to swallow 
government, dynastv, and Empire, and it is going to 
try/' 

"I am certain of one thing," said Speed, staring out 
over the sunlit water with narrowing eyes. " I know 
that Mornac is using Buckhurst." 

"Perhaps it is Buckhurst who is using Mornac/' 
I suggested. 

"I think both those gentlemen have the same view 
in end to feather their respective nests under cover 
of a general smash," said Speed. "It would not do 
for Mornac to desert the Empire under any circum 
stances. But he can employ Buckhurst to squeeze 
it dry and then strike an attitude as its faithful de 
fender in adversity." 

"But why does Buckhurst desire to go to Paradise?" 
I asked. 

The boat swung into a dock near the Point du Jour ; 
a few passengers left, a few came aboard; the boat 
darted on again under the high viaduct of masonry, 
past bastions on which long siege cannon glistened in 
the sunshine, past lines of fresh earthworks, past grassy 
embankments on which soldiers moved to the rumble 
of drums. 

"I know something about Paradise," said Speed, 
in a low voice. 

I waited; Speed chewed his cigar grimly. 

" Look here, Scarlett," he said. " Do you know what 
has become of the crown jewels of France?" 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

"No," I said. 

"Well, I'll tell you. You know, of course, that the 
government is anxious ; you know that Paris is prepar 
ing to stand siege if the Prussians double up Bazaine 
and the army of Chalons in the north. But you don't 
know what a pitiable fright the authorities are in. Why, 
Scarlett, they are scared almost to the verge of idiocy." 

"They've passed that verge," I observed. 

"Yes, they have. They have had a terrible panic 
over the safety of the crown jewels they were nervous 
enough before the robbery. And this is what they've 
done in secret: 

"The crown jewels, the bars of gold of the reserve, 
the great pictures from the Louvre, the antiques of 
value, including the Venus of Milo, have been packed 
in cases and loaded on trains under heavy guard. 

"Twelve of these trains have already left Paris for 
the war-port of Lorient. The others are to follow, one 
every twenty-four hours at midnight. 

"Whether these treasures are to be locked up in 
Lorient, or whether they are to be buried in the sand- 
dunes along the coast, I don't know. But I know this : 
a swift cruiser the Fer-de-Lance is lyi A ng off Para 
dise, between the light -house and the lie de Groix, 
with steam up night and day, ready to receive the 
treasures of the government at the first alarm and 
run for the French possessions in Cochin-China. 

" And now, perhaps, you may guess why Buckhurst 
is so anxious to hang around Paradise." 

Of course I was startled. Speed's muttered informa 
tion gave me the keys to many doors. And behind 
each door were millions and millions and millions of 
francs' worth of plunder. 

Our eyes met in mute interrogation; Speed smiled. 

"Of course," said I, with dry lips, "Buckhurst is 
devil enough to attempt anything." 

152 



A MAN TO LET 

"Especially if backed by Mornac," said Speed. 

Suddenly the professional aspect of the case burst 
on me like a shower of glorious sunshine. 

"Oh, for the chance!" I said, brokenly. "Speed! 
Think of it ! Think how completely we have the thing 
in hand!" 

"Yes," he said, with a shrug, "only we have just 
been kicked out of the service in disgrace, and we are 
now going to be fully occupied in running away from 
the police." 

That was true enough; I had scarcely had time to 
realize our position as escaped suspects of the depart 
ment. And with the recognition of my plight came a 
rush of. hopeless rage, of bitter regret, and soul-sicken 
ing disappointment. 

So this was the end of my career a fugitive, dis 
graced, probably already hunted. This was my re 
ward for faithful service penniless, almost friendless, 
liable to arrest and imprisonment with no hope of jus 
tice from Emperor or court-martial a banned, ruined, 
proscribed outcast, in blind flight. 

"I've thought of the possibility of this," observed 
Speed, quietly. " We've got to make a living somehow. 
In fact, I'm to let and so are you." 

I looked at him, too miserable to speak. 

" I had an inkling of it," he said. A shrewd twinkle 
came into his clear, Yankee eyes ; he chewed his wreck 
ed cigar and folded his lank arms. 

"So," he continued, tranquilly, blinking at the 
sparkling river, "I drew out all my money and 
yours, too." 

"Mine!" I stammered. "How could you?" 

"Forged an order," he admitted. "Can you forgive 
me, Scarlett?" 

"Forgive you! Bless your generous heart!" I mut 
tered, as he handed me a sealed packet. 

153 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

"Not at all/' he said, laughing; "a crime in time 
saves nine eh, Scarlett? Pocket it; it's all there. 
Now listen. I have made arrangements of another 
kind. Do you remember an application for license 
from the manager of a travelling American show 
a Yankee circus?" 

"Byram's Imperial American Circus?" I said. 

"That's it. They went through Normandy last 
summer. Well, Byram's agent is going to meet us 
at Saint-Cloud. We're engaged; I'm to do ballooning 
you know I worked one of the military balloons 
before Petersburg. You are to do sensational riding. 
You were riding-master in the Spahis were you 
not?" 

I looked at him, almost laughing. Suddenly the 
instinct of my vagabond days returned like a sweet 
wind from the wilds, smiting me full in the face. 

"I tamed three lions for my regiment at Constan- 
tine," I said. 

" Good lad ! Then you can play with Byram's lions, 
too. Oh, what the devil!" he cried, recklessly; "it's 
all in a lifetime. Quand me 1 me, and who cares ? We've 
life before us and an honest living in view, and Byram 
has packed two of his men back to England and I've 
tinkered up their passports to suit us. So we're rea 
sonably secure." 

" Will you tell me, Speed, why you were wise enough 
to do all this while I was gone?" I asked, in astonish 
ment. 

"Because," said Speed, deliberately, "I distrusted 
Mornac from the hour he entered the department." 

A splendid officer of police was spoiled when Mornac 
entered the department. 

Presently the deck guard began to shout : " Saint- 
Cloud! Saint-Cloud!" and the little boat glided up 
alongside the floating pier. Speed rosej I followed him 



A MAN TO LET 

across the gang-plank; and, side by side, we climbed 
the embankment. 

" Do you mean to say that Byram is going travelling 
about with his circus in spite of the war?" I whispered. 

"Yes, indeed. We start south from Chartres to 
morrow." 

Presently I said: "Do you suppose we will go to 
Lorient or Paradise?" 

" We will if I have anything to say about it/' replied 
Speed, throwing away his ragged cigar. 

And I walked silently beside him, thinking of the 
young Countess and of Buckhurst. 



PART SECOND 



IX 

THE ROAD TO PARADISE 

ON the 3d of November Byram's American Circus, 
travelling slowly overland toward the Spanish 
frontier, drew up for an hour's rest at Quimperl6. I, 
however, as usual, prepared to ride forward to select a 
proper place for our night encampment, and to procure 
the necessary license. 

The dusty procession halted in the town square, 
which was crowded, and as I turned in my saddle I 
saw Byram stand up on the red-and-gold band-wagon 
and toss an armful of circulars and bills into the throng. 

The white bits of paper fluttered wide and disappeared 
in the sea of white Breton head-dresses; there was a 
rhythmic clatter of wooden shoes, an undulation of 
snowy coiffes, then a low murmur as the people slowly 
read the circulars aloud, their musical monotone ac 
companying the strident nasal voice of Byram, who 
stood on the tarnished band-wagon shouting his crowd 
around him. 

"Mossoors et madams! Ecooty see voo play! J'ai 
1'honnoor de vous presenter le ploo magnifique cirque " 
And the invariable reclame continued to the stereotyped 
finis; the clown bobbed up behind Byram and made 
his usual grimaces, and the band played "The Cork 
Leg." 

The Bretons looked on in solemn astonishment; 
my comrade, Speed, languidly stood up on the elephant 

159 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

and informed the people that our circus was travelling 
to Lorient to fill a pressing engagement, and if we 
disappointed the good people of Lorient a riot would 
doubtless result, therefore it was not possible to give 
any performance before we reached Lorient and the 
admission was only ten sous. 

Our clown then picked up the tatters of his thread 
bare comic speech. Speed, munching a stale sand 
wich, came strolling over to where I stood sponging 
out my horse's mouth with cool water. 

"We'll ride into Paradise in full regalia, I suppose," 
he observed, munching away reflectively; "it's the 
cheapest reclame." 

I dashed a bucket of water over my horse's legs. 
"You'd better look out for your elephant: those drunk 
en Bretons are irritating him," I said. "Mahouts are 
born, not made." 

Speed turned ; the elephant was squealing and thrust 
ing out a prehensile trunk among the people. There 
would be trouble if any fool gave him tobacco. 

" Hi !" cried Speed, " tobah 1 Let the mem-log alone ! 
Ai! he's snatched a coiffe! Drop it, Djebe! C'hast 
buhan! Don't be afraid, mesdames; the elephant is 
not ugly! Chomit oil en ho trankilite!" 

The elephant appeared to understand the mixture 
of Hindu, French, and Breton or perhaps it was the 
sight of the steel ankus that Speed flourished in his 
quality of mahout. The crowd pressed forward again, 
reassured by the "Chomit oil en ho trankilite!" 

Speed swallowed the last crumb of his sandwich, 
wiped his hands on his handkerchief, and shoved 
them into his shabby pockets ; the ankus dangled from 
his wrist. 

We were in seedy circumstances ; an endless chain of 
bad luck had followed us from Chartres bad weather, 
torrents of rain, flooded roads, damaging delays on 

160 



THE ROAD TO PARADISE 

railways already overcrowded with troops and war 
material, and, above all, we encountered everywhere 
that ominous apathy which burdened the whole land, 
even those provinces most remote from the seat of war. 
The blockade of Paris had paralyzed France. 

The fortune that Byram had made in the previous 
year was already gone ; we no longer travelled by rail ; 
we no longer slept at inns; we could barely pay for 
the food for our animals. 

As for the employe's, the list had been cut down below 
the margin of safety, yet for a month no salaries had 
been paid. 

As I stood there in the -public square of Quimperle', 
passing the cooling sponge over my horse's nose, old 
Byram came out of the hotel on the corner, edged his 
way through the stolid crowd that surrounded us gaunt 
mountebanks, and shuffled up to me. 

"I guess we ain't goin' to push through to-night, 
Scarlett," he observed, wiping his sweating forehead 
on the sleeve of his linen duster. 

"No, governor, it's too far," I said. 

"We'll be all right, anyway," added Speed; "there's 
a change in the moon and this warm weather ought 
to hold, governor." 

"I dunno," said Byram, with an abstracted glance 
at the crowd around the elephant. 

"Cheer up, governor," I said, "we ought at least to 
pay expenses to the Spanish frontier. Once out of 
France we'll find your luck again for you." 

"Mebbe," he said, almost wearily. 

I glanced at Speed. This was the closest approach 
to a whine that we had heard from Byram. But the 
man had changed within a few days; his thin hair, 
brushed across his large, alert ears, was dusty and 
iinkempt ; hollows had formed under his shrewd eyes ; 
his black broadcloth suit was as soiled as his linen, 
161 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

his boots shabby, his silk hat suitable only for the 
stage property of our clown. 

"Don't ride too far," said Byram, as I set foot to 
stirrup, "them band-wagon teams is most done up, 
an' that there camuel gits meaner every minute." 

I wheeled my horse out into the road to Paradise, 
cursing the " camuel," the bane of our wearied caravan. 

"Got enough cash for the license?" asked Byram, 
uneasily. 

"Plenty, governor; don't worry. Speed, don't let 
him mope. We'll be in Lorient this time to-morrow," 
I called back, with a swagger of assumed cheerfulness. 

Speed stepped swiftly across the square and laid his 
hand on my stirrup. 

"What are you going to do if you see Buckhurst?" 

"Nothing."* 

"Or the Countess?" 

"I don't know." 

" I suppose you will go out of your way to find her 
if she's in Paradise?" 

"Yes." 

"And tell her the truth about Buckhurst?" 

"I expect to." 

After a moment's silence he said : " Don't do any 
thing until I see you to-night, will you?" 

"All right," I replied, and set my horse at a gallop 
over the old stone bridge. 

The highway to the sea which winds down through 
acres of yellow gorse and waving broom to the cliffs 
of Paradise is a breezy road, swept by the sweet winds 
that blow across Brittany from the Cote d'Or to the 
Pyrenees. 

It is a land of sea-winds ; and when in the still noon 
tide of midsummer the winds are at play far out at 
sea, their traces remain in the furrowed wheat, in the 
incline of solitary trees, in the breezy trend of the cliff- 

162 



THE ROAD TO PARADISE 

clover and the blackthorn and the league-wide sweep 
of the moorlands. 

And through this land whose inland perfume always 
savored the unseen sea I rode down to Paradise. 

It was not until I had galloped through the golden 
forest of Kerselec that I came in sight of the ocean, al 
though among the sunbeams and the dropping showers 
of yellow beech-leaves I fancied I could hear the sound 
of the surf. 

And now I rode slowly, in full sight of the sea where 
it lay, an immense gray band across the world, touch 
ing a looming horizon, and in throat and nostril the 
salt stung sweetly, and the whole world seemed younger 
for the breath of the sea. 

From the purple mystery of the horizon to the land 
ward cliffs the ocean appeared motionless ; it was only 
when I had advanced almost to the cliffs that I saw the 
movement of waves that I perceived the contrast be 
tween inland inertia and the restless repose of the 
sea, stirring ceaselessly since creation. 

The same little sparkling river I had crossed in 
Quimperle I now saw again, spreading out a wide, 
flat current which broke into waves where it tumbled 
seaward across the bar ; I heard the white-winged gulls 
mewing, the thunderous monotone of the surf, and a 
bell in some unseen chapel ringing sweetly. 

I passed a stone house, another ; then the white road 
curved under the trees and I rode straight into the 
heart of Paradise, my horse's hoofs awaking echoes 
in the silent, stone-paved square. 

Never had I so suddenly entered a place so peaceful, 
so quiet in the afternoon sun yet the silence was not 
absolute, it was thrilling with exquisite sound, lost 
echoes of the river running along its quay of stone, 
half -heard harmonies of the ocean where white surf 
seethed over the sands beyond the headland. 

163 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

There was a fountain, too, dripping melodiously 
under the trees ; I heard the breathless humming of a 
spinning-wheel from one of the low houses of gray 
stone which enclosed the square, and a young girl 
singing, and the drone of bees in a bed of resida. 

So this was Paradise ! Truly the name did not seem 
amiss here, under the still vault of blue above ; Paradise 
means peace to so many of us surcease of care and 
sound and the brazen trample of nations not the 
quiet of palace corridors or the tremendous silence of 
a cathedral, but the noiselessness of pleasant sounds, 
moving shadows of trees, wordless quietude, simplicity. 

A young girl with a face like the Madonna stole 
across the square in her felt shoes. 

"Can you tell me where the mayor lives?" I asked, 
looking down at her from my horse. 

She raised her white -coiffed head with an innocent 
smile: "Eman' barz ar sal o leina." 

"Don't you speak French?" I asked, appalled. 

"Ho! ia; oui, monsieur, si'l faut bien. The mayor 
is at breakfast in his kitchen yonder." 

"Thank you, my child." 

I turned my horse across the shady square to a stone 
house banked up with bed on bed of scarlet geraniums. 
The windows were open; a fat man with very small 
eyes sat inside eating an omelet. 

He watched me dismount without apparent curios 
ity, and when I had tied my horse and walked in at the 
open door he looked at me over the rim of a glass of 
cider, and slowly finished his draught without blink 
ing. Then he said, "Bonjour." 

I told him that I wanted a license for the circus to 
camp for one night; that I also desired permission to 
pitch camp somewhere in the vicinity. He made out 
the license, stamped it, handed it to me, and I paid 
him the usual fee. 

164 



THE ROAD TO PARADISE 

"I've heard of circuses/' he said; "they're like 
those shows at country fairs, I suppose." 

"Yes in a way. We have animals." 

"What kind?" 

"Lions, tigers " 

"I've seen them." 

" a camel, an elephant " 

"Alive?" 

"Certainly." 

"Ma doue!" he said, with slow emotion, "have you 
a live elephant?" 

I admitted that fact. 

Presently I said, " I hope the people of Paradise will 
come to the circus when we get to Lorient." 

"Eh? Not they," said the mayor, wagging his 
head. "Do you think we have any money here in 
Paradise? And then," he added, cunningly, "we 
can all see your elephant when your company arrives. 
Why should we pay to see him again? War does not 
make millionaires out of the poor." 

I looked miserably around. It was quite true that 
people like these had no money to spend on strolling 
players. But we had to live somehow, and our animals 
could not exist on air, even well-salted air. 

" How much will it cost to have your town-crier an 
nounce the coming of the circus?" I inquired. 

"That will cost ten sous if he drums and reads the 
announcement from here to the chateau." 

I gave the mayor ten copper pennies. 

"What chateau?" I asked. 

"Dame, the chateau, monsieur." 

"Oh," said I, "where the Countess lives?" 

"The Countess? Yes, of course. Who else?" 

"Is the Countess there?" 

"Oui, dame, and others not to my taste." 

I asked no more questions, but the mayor did, and 

165 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

when he found it might take some time to pump me, 
he invited me to share his omelet and cider and after 
wards to sit in the sun among his geraniums and 
satisfy his curiosity concerning the life of a strolling 
player. 

I was glad of something to eat. After I had un 
saddled my horse and led him to the mayor's stable 
and had paid for hay and grain, I returned to sit in 
the mayor's garden and sniff longingly at his tobacco 
smoke and answer his impertinent questions as good- 
naturedly as they were intended. 

But even the mayor of Paradise grew tired of asking 
questions in time; the bees droned among the flowers, 
the low murmur of the sea stole in on our ears, the 
river softly lapped the quay. The mayor slept. 

He was fat, very fat ; his short, velvet jacket hung 
heavy with six rows of enormous silver buttons, his 
little, round hat was tilted over his nose. A silver 
buckle decorated it in front; behind, two little velvet 
ribbons fluttered in futile conflict with the rising sea- 
breeze. 

Men in embroidered knee - breeches, with bare feet 
thrust into straw-filled sabots, sat sunning on the quay 
under the purple fig-trees ; one ragged fellow in soiled 
velvet bolero and embossed leggings lay in the sun, 
chin on fists, wooden shoes crossed behind him, watch 
ing the water with the eyes of a poacher. 

This mild, balmy November weather, this afterglow 
of summer which in my own country we call Indian 
summer, had started new blossoms among the climb 
ing tea-roses, lovely orange-tinted blossoms, and some 
of a clear lemon color, and their fragrance filled the air. 
Nowhere do roses blow as they blow near the sea, no 
where have I breathed such perfume as I breathed that 
drowsy afternoon in Paradise, where in every door- 
yard thickets of clove-scented pinks carpeted the ground 

166 



THE ROAD TO PARADISE 

and tall spikes of snowy phlox glimmered silver-white 
in the demi-light. 

Where on earth could a more peaceful scene be found 
than in this sea-lulled land, here in the subdued light 
under aged, spreading oaks, where moss crept over the 
pavements and covered the little fountain as though 
it had been the stony brink of a limpid forest spring? 

The mayor woke up toward five o'clock and stared 
at me with owlish gravity as though daring me to say 
that he had been asleep. 

"Urn ah ma fois oui!" he muttered, blowing his 
nose loudly in a purple silk bandanna. Then he 
shrugged his shoulders and added: "C'est la vie, 
monsieur. Que voulez-vous?" 

And it was one kind of life after all a blessed re 
lease from the fever of that fierce farandole which we 
of the outer world call "life." 

The mayor scratched his ear, yawned, stretched one 
leg, then the other, and glanced at me. 

" Paris still holds out?" he asked, with another yawn. 

"Oh yes," I replied. 

"And the war is it still going badly for us?" 

''There is always hope," I answered. 

" Hope," he grumbled ; " oh yes, we know what hope 
is we of the coast live on it when there's no bread; 
but hope never yet filled my belly for me." 

" Has the war touched you here in Paradise?" I asked. 

"Touched us? Ho! Say it has crushed us and 
I'll strike palms with you. Why, not a keel has passed 
out of the port since August. Where is the fishing- 
fleet? Where are the sardine sloops that ought to have 
sailed from Algiers? Where are the Icelanders?" 

"Well, where are they?" I suggested. 

"Where? Ask the semaphore yonder. Where are 
our salt schooners for the Welsh coast? I don't know. 
They have not sailed, that's all I know. You do well 

167 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

to come with your circus and your elephant! You 
can peddle diamonds in the poor-house, too, if it suits 
your taste." 

" Have the German cruisers frightened all your craft 
from the sea?" I asked, astonished. 

" Yes, partly. Then there's an ugly French cruiser 
lying off Groix, yonder, and her black stacks are drib 
bling smoke all day and all night. We have orders 
to keep off and use Lorient when we want a port." 

" Do you know why the cruiser warns your fishing- 
boats from this coast?" I inquired. 

"No," he said, shortly. 

"Do you know the name of the cruiser?" 

"She's a new one, the Fer-de-Lance. And if I were 
not a patriot and a Breton I'd say: 'May Sainte-Anne 
rot her where she lies; she's brought a curse on the 
coast from Lorient to the Saint -Julien Light! and the 
ghosts of the Icelanders will work her evil yet. ' ' 

The mayor's round, hairless face was red ; he thumped 
the arm of his chair with pudgy fists and wagged his 
head. 

"We have not seen the end of this," he said "oh 
no! There's a curse coming on Paradise the cruiser 
brought it, and it's coming. He! did a Bannalec man 
not hear the were-wolf in Kerselec forest a week since? 
Pst! Not a word, monsieur. But old Kloark, of Ros- 
coff, heard it too oui dame ! and he knows the howl 
of the Loup-Garou! Besides, did I not with my own 
eyes see a black cormorant fly inland from the sea? 
And, by Sainte-Eline of Paradise ! the gulls squeal when 
there's no storm brewing and the lancons prick the dark 
with flames along the coast till you'd swear the witches 
of Ker-Is were lighting death-candles from Paradise 
to Pont-Aven." 

"Do you believe in witches, monsieur the mayor?" 
I asked, gravely. 

168 



THE ROAD TO PARADISE 

He gave me a shrewd glance. " Not at all not even 
in bed and the light out," he said, with a fat swagger. 
"/ believe in magic? Ho! foi non! But many do. 
Oui dame! Many do." 

"Here in Paradise?" 

" Parbleu ! Men of parts, too, monsieur. Now there's 
Terrec, who has the evil eye not that I believe it, but, 
damn him, he'd better not try any tricks on me! 

" Others stick twigs of aubdpine in their pastures ; 
the apothecary is a man of science, yet every year he 
makes a bonfire of dried gorse and drives his cattle 
through the smoke. It may keep off witches and light 
ning or it may not. I myself do not do such things. " 

"Still you believe the cruiser out at sea yonder is 
going to bring you evil?" 

"She has brought it. But it's all the same to me. 
I am mayor, and exempt, and I have cider and tobacco 
and boudin for a few months yet." 

He caressed his little, selfish chin, which hung between 
his mottled jowls, peered cunningly at me, and opened 
his mouth to say something, but at that moment we 
both caught sight of a peasant running and waving a 
packet of blue papers in the air. " Monsieur the mayor ! 
Monsieur the mayor!" he called, while still far away. 

"Cr6 cochon de malheur!" muttered the mayor, turn 
ing pale. "He's got a telegram 1" 

The man came clattering across the square in his 
wooden shoes. 

" A telegram," repeated the mayor, wiping the sudden 
sweat from his forehead. "I never get telegrams. I 
don't want telegrams!" 

He turned to me, almost bursting with suppressed 
prophecy. 

" It has come the evil that the black cruiser brings 
us! You laughed! Tenez, monsieur; there's your 
bad luck in these blue morsels of paper!" 

169 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

And he snatched the telegram from the breathless 
messenger, reading it with dilating eyes. 

For a long while he sat there studying the telegram, 
his fat forefinger following the scrawl, a crease deepen 
ing above his eyebrows, and all the while his lips moved 
in noiseless repetition of the words he spelled with dif 
ficulty and his labored breathing grew louder. 

When at length the magistrate had mastered the con 
tents of his telegram, he looked up with a stupid stare. 

"I want my drummer. Where's the town-crier?" 
he demanded, as though dazed. 

"He has gone to Lorient, m'sieu the mayor/' vent 
ured the messenger. 

"To get drunk. I remember. Imbecile! Why did 
he go to-day? Are there not six other days in this 
cursed week? Who is there to drum? Nobody. No 
body knows how in Paradise. Seigneur, Dieu! the 
ignorance of this town!" 

"M'sieu the mayor," ventured the messenger, 
"there's Jacqueline." 

"Ho! Vrai. The Lizard's young one! She can 
drum, they say. She stole my drum once. Why did 
she steal it but to drum upon it?" 

" The little witch can drum them awake in Ker-Is," 
muttered the messenger. 

The mayor rose, looked around the square, frowned. 
Then he raised his voice in a bellow: "Jacqueline! 
Jacqueline! Thou Jacqueline!" 

A far voice answered, faintly breaking across the 
square from the bridge : " She is on the rocks with her 
sea-rake!" 

The mayor thrust the blue telegram into his pocket 
and waddled out of his garden, across the square, and 
up the path to the cliffs. 

Uninvited, I went with him. 



THE TOWN-CRIER 

THE bell in the unseen chapel ceased ringing as 
we came out on the cliffs of Paradise, where, on 
the horizon, the sun hung low, belted with a single 
ribbon of violet cloud. 

Over acres of foaming shoals the crimson light flick 
ered and spread, painting the eastern cliffs with som 
bre fire. The ebb-tide, red as blood, tumbled seaward 
across the bar, leaving every ledge a glowing cinder 
under the widening conflagration in the west. 

The mayor carried his silver-buttoned jacket over 
his arm; the air had grown sultry. As we walked our 
gigantic shadows strode away before us across the 
kindling stubble, seeming to lengthen at every stride. 

Below the cliffs, on a crescent of flat sand, from which 
sluggish, rosy rivulets crawled seaward, a man stood 
looking out across the water. And the mayor stopped 
and called down to him : " Ohe", the Lizard ! What do 
you see on the ocean you below?" 

"I see six war-ships speeding fast in column," re 
plied the man, without looking up. 

The mayor hastily shaded his eyes with one fat hand, 
muttering: "All poachers have eyes like sea-hawks. 
There is a smudge of smoke to the north. Holy Vir 
gin, what eyes the rascal has!" 

As for me, strain my eyes as I would, I saw nothing 
save the faintest stain of smoke on the horizon. 

171 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

"H6, Lizard! Are they German, your six war 
ships?" bawled the mayor. His voice had suddenly 
become tremulous. 

" They are French/' replied the poacher, tranquilly. 

"Then Sainte-Eline keep them from the rocks!" 
sang out the mayor. " Ohe, Lizard, I want somebody to 
drum and read a proclamation. Where's Jacqueline?" 

At that instant a young girl, a mere child, appeared 
on the beach, dragging a sea-rake over the ground 
behind her. She was a lithe creature, bare-limbed 
and ragged, with the sea-tan on throat and knee. The 
blue tatters of her skirt hung heavy with brine; the 
creamy skin on her arms glittered with wet spray, and 
her hair was wet, too, clustering across her cheeks in 
damp elf-locks. 

The mayor glanced at her with that stolid contempt 
which Finistere Bretons cherish toward those women 
who show their hair an immodesty unpardonable in 
the eyes of most Bretons. 

The girl caught sight of the mayor and gave him a 
laughing greeting which he returned with a shrug. 

"If you want a town-crier," she called up, in a de- 
liciously fresh voice, scarcely tinged with the accent, 
"I'll cry your edicts and I'll drum for you, too!" 

"Can your daughter beat the drum?" asked the 
mayor of the poacher, ignoring the girl's eager face 
upturned. 

"Yes," said the poacher, indifferently, "and she can 
also beat the devil with two sticks." 

The girl threw her rake into a boat and leaped upon 
the rocks at the base of the cliff. 

"Jacqueline! Don't come up that way!" bawled 
the mayor, horrified. "Hey! Robert! Oh6! Lizard! 
Stop her or she'll break her neck!" 

The poacher looked up at his daughter then shrug 
ged his shoulders and squatted down on his ragged 

172 



THE TOWN-CRIER 

haunches, restless eyes searching the level ocean, as 
sea-birds search. 

Breathless, hot, and laughing, the girl pulled herself 
up over the edge of the cliff. I held out my hand to aid 
her, but she pushed it away, crying, " Thank you all 
the same, but here I ami" 

"Spawn of the Lizard," I heard the mayor mutter 
to himself, "like a snake you wriggle where honest 
folk fall to destruction!" But he spoke condescend 
ingly to the bright-eyed, breathless child. " I'll pay six 
sous if you'll drum for me." 

"I'll do it for love," she said, saucily "for the love 
of drumming, not for your beaux yeux, m'sieu le maire. " 

The mayor looked at her angrily, but, probably re 
membering he was at her mercy, suppressed his wrath 
and held out the telegram. "Can you read that, my 
child?" 

The girl, still breathing rapidly from her scramble, 
rested her hands on her hips and, head on one side, 
studied the blue sheets of the telegram over the mayor's 
outstretched arm. 

"Yes, I can read it. Why not? Can't you?" 

"Read? I the mayor of Paradise!" repeated the 
outraged magistrate. " What do you mean, lizard of 
lizards! gorse cat!" 

"Now if you are going to say such things I won't 
drum for you," said the child, glancing at me out of 
her sea-blue eyes and giving a shake to her elf-locks. 

" Yes, you will !" bawled the angry mayor. " Shame 
on your manners, Jacqueline Garenne ! Shame on your 
hair hanging where all the world can see it I Shame on 
your bare legs " 

" Not at all," said the child, unabashed. " God made 
my legs, m'sieu the mayor, and my hair, too. If my 
coiffe does not cover my hair, neither does the small 
Paris hat of the Countess de Vassart cover her hair, 

173 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

Complain of the Countess to m'sieu the cure, then I 
will listen to you." 

The mayor glared at her, but she tossed her head and 
laughed. 

" Ho fois ! Everybody knows what you are," sniffed 
the mayor "and nobody cares, either," he muttered, 
waddling past me, telegram in hand. 

The child, quite unconcerned, fell into step beside 
me, saying, confidentially: "When I was little I used 
to cry when they talked to me like that. But I don't 
now; I've made up my mind that they are no better 
than I." 

"I don't know why anybody should abuse you/' 
I said, loudly enough for the mayor to hear. But that 
functionary waddled on, puffing, muttering, stopping 
every now and then in the narrow cliff-path to strike 
flint to tinder or to refill the tiny bowl of his pipe, which 
a dozen puffs always exhausted. 

"Oh, they all abuse us," said the child, serenely. 
" You see, you are a stranger and don't understand ; 
but you will if you live here." , 

"Why is everybody unkind to you?" I asked, after 
a moment. 

"Why? Oh, because I am what I am and my father 
is the Lizard." 

"A poacher?" 

"Ah," she said, looking up at me with delicious 
malice, "what is a poacher, monsieur?" 

"Sometimes he's a fine fellow gone wrong," I said, 
laughing. " So I don't believe any ill of your father, 
or of you, either. Will you drum for me, Jacqueline?" 

" For you, monsieur? Why, yes. What am I to read 
for you?" 

I gave her a hand-bill; at the first glance her eyes 
sparkled, the color deepened under her coat of amber 
tan ; she caught her breath and read rapidly to the end. 

174 



THE TOWN-CRIER 

"Oh, how beautiful," she said, softly. "Am I to 
read this in the square?" 

"I will give you a franc to read it, Jacqueline." 

"No, no only oh, do let me come in and see the 
heavenly wonders! Would you, monsieur? 1 I can 
not pay but would could you let me come in? I 
will read your notice, anyway," she added, with a 
quaver in her voice. 

The flushed face, the eager, upturned eyes, deep blue 
as the sea, the little hands clutching the show-bill, 
which fairly quivered between the tanned fingers 
all these touched and amused me. The child was mad 
with excitement. 

What she anticipated, Heaven only knows. Shabby 
and tarnished as we were, the language of our hand 
bills made up in gaudiness for the dingy reality. 

"Come whenever you like, Jacqueline," I said. 
"Ask for me at the gate." 

"And who are you, monsieur?" 

"My name is Scarlett." 

"Scarlett," she whispered, as though naming a sa 
cred thing. 

The mayor, who had toddled some distance ahead of 
us, now halted in the square, looking back at us through 
the red evening light. 

" Jacqueline, the drum is in my house. I'll lend you 
a pair of sabots, too. Come, hasten little idler!" 

We entered the mayor's garden, where the flowers 
were glowing in the lustre of the setting sun. I sat 
down in a chair; Jacqueline waited, hands resting on 
her hips, small, shapely toes restlessly brushing the 
grass. 

" Truly this coming wonder-show will be a peep into 
paradise," she murmured. "Can all be true really 
true as it is printed here in this bill I wonder " 

Before she had time to speculate further, the mayor 
175 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

reappeared with drum and drum- sticks in one hand 
and a pair of sabots in the other. He flung the sabots 
on the grass, and Jacqueline, quite docile now, slipped 
both bare feet into them. 

" You may keep them," said the mayor, puffing out 
his mottled cheeks benevolently; "decency must be 
maintained in Paradise, even if it beggars me." 

" Thank you," said Jacqueline, sweetly, slinging the 
drum across her hip and tightening the cords. She 
clicked the ebony sticks, touched the tightly drawn 
parchment, sounding it with delicate fingers, then look 
ed up at the mayor for further orders. 

"Go, my child," said the mayor, amiably, and 
Jacqueline marched through the garden out into the 
square by the fountain, drum-sticks clutched in one 
tanned fist, the scrolls of paper in the other. 

In the centre of the square she stood a moment, look 
ing around, then raised the drum-sticks; there came 
a click, a flash of metal, and the quiet square echoed 
with the startling outcrash. Back from roof and 
wall bounded the echoes; the stony pavement rang 
with the racket. Already a knot of people had gathered 
around her; others came swiftly to windows and door 
steps ; the loungers left their stone benches by the river, 
the maids of Paradise flocked from the bridge. Even 
Robert the Lizard drew in his dripping line to listen. 
The drum-roll ceased. 

" Attention ! Men of Finistere ! By order of the gov 
ernor of Lorient, all men between the ages of twenty 
and forty, otherwise not exempt, are ordered to report 
at the navy-yard barracks, war-port of Lorient, on the 
5th of November of the present year, to join the army 
of the Loire. 

" Whosoever is absent at roll - call will be liable 
to the punishment provided for such delinquents 
under the laws governing the state of siege now 

176 



THE TOWN-CRIER 

declared in Morbihan and Finist&re. Citizens, to 
arms ! 

"The enemy is on the march 1 Though Metz has 
fallen through treachery, Paris holds firm! Let the 
provinces rise and hurl the invader from the soil of the 
motherland ! 

" Bretons ! France calls ! Answer with your ancient 
battle-cry, ' Sainte- Anne ! Sainte- Anne!' The eyes of 
the world are on Armorica! To arms!" 

The girl's voice ceased; a dead silence reigned in the 
square. The men looked at one another stupidly; a 
woman began to whimper. 

"The curse is on Paradise!" cried a hoarse voice. 

The drummer was already drawing another paper 
from her ragged pocket, and again in the same clear, 
emotionless voice, but slightly drawling her words, she 
read: 

"To the good people of Paradise! The manager of 
the famous American travelling circus, lately returned 
from a tour of the northern provinces, with camels, 
elephants, lions, and a magnificent company of artists, 
announces a stupendous exhibition to be held in Lorient 
at greatly reduced prices, thus enabling the intelligent 
and appreciative people of Paradise to honor the Repub 
lican Circus, recently known as the Imperial Circus, with 
their benevolent and discerning patronage ! Long live 
France! Long live the Republic ! Long live the Circus 1" 

A resounding roll of the drum ended the announce 
ments ; the girl slung the drum over her shoulder, turned 
to the right, and passed over the stone bridge, sabots 
clicking. Presently from the hamlet of Alincourt over 
the stream came the dull roll of the drum again and 
the faint, clear voice : 

"Attention! Men of Finistere! By order of the 
governor of Lorient, all men " The wind changed 
and her voice died away among the trees. 

177 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

The maids of Paradise were weeping now by the 
fountain; the men gathered near, and their slow, 
hushed voices scarcely rose above the ripple of the 
stream where Robert the Lizard fished in silence. 

It was after sunset before Jacqueline finished her 
rounds. She had read her proclamation in Alincourt 
hamlet, she had read it in Sainte-Ysole, her drum had 
aroused the inert loungers on the breakwater at Trinite'- 
on-Sea. Now, with her drum on her shoulder and 
her sabots swinging in her left hand, she came down 
the cliffs beside the Chapel of Our Lady of Paradise, 
excited and expectant. 

Of the first proclamation which she had read she 
apparently understood little. When she announced 
the great disaster at Metz in the north, and when her 
passionless young voice proclaimed the levee en masse 
the call to arms for the men of the coast from Sainte- 
Ysole to Trinit6 Beacon she scarcely seemed to realize 
what it meant, although all around her women turned 
away sobbing, or clung, deathly white, to sons and 
husbands. 

But there was certainly something in the other proc 
lamation which thrilled her and set her heart galloping 
as she loitered on the cliff. 

I walked across to the Quimperle road and met 
her, dancing along with her drum; and she promptly 
confided her longings and desires to me as we stood 
together for an instant on the high-road. The circus ! 
Once, it appeared, she had seen very far off a glit 
tering creature turning on a trapeze. It was at the 
fair near Bannalec, and it was so long ago that she 
scarcely remembered anything except that somebody 
had pulled her away while she stood enchanted, and 
the flashing light of fairyland had been forever shut 
from her eyes. 

At times, when the maids of Paradise were sociable 
178 



THE TOWN-CRIER 

at the well in the square, she had listened to stories of 
the splendid circus which came once to Lorient. And 
now it was coming again! 

We stood in the middle of the high-road looking 
through the dust haze, she doubtless dreaming of the 
splendors to come, I very, very tired. The curtain of 
golden dust reddened in the west; the afterglow lit up 
the sky once more with brilliant little clouds suspended 
from mid-zenith. The moorland wind rose and tossed 
her elf-locks in her eyes and whipped her skirt till the 
rags fluttered above her smooth, bare knees. 

Suddenly, straight out of the naming gates of the 
sunset, the miracle was wrought. Celestial shapes in 
gold and purple rose up in the gilded dust, chariots of 
silver, milk-white horses plumed with fire. 

Breathless, she shrank back among the weeds, one 
hand pressed to her throbbing throat. But the vision 
grew as she stared ; there was heavenly music, too, and 
the clank of metal chains, and the smothered pounding 
of hoofs. Then she caught sight of something through 
the dust that filled her with a delicious terror, and she 
cried out. For there, uptowering in the haze, came 
trudging a great, gray creature, a fearsome, swaying 
thing in crimson trappings, flapping huge ears. It 
shuffled past, swinging a dusty trunk; the sparkling 
horsemen cantered by, tin armor blazing in the fading 
glory; the chariots dragged after, and the closed dens 
of beasts rolled behind in single file, followed by the 
band-wagon, where Heaven-inspired musicians played 
frantically and a white-faced clown balanced his hat 
on a stick and shrieked. 

So the circus passed into Paradise ; and I turned and 
followed in the wake of dust, stale odors, and clamor 
ous discord, sick at heart of wandering over a world 
I had not found too kind. 

And at my heels stole Jacqueline. 
179 



XI 

IN CAMP 

WE went into camp under the landward glacis of 
the cliffs, in a field of clover which was to be 
ploughed under in a few days. We all were there ex 
cept Kelly Eyre, who had gone to telegraph the gov 
ernor of Lorient for permission to enter the port with 
the circus. Another messenger also left camp on pri 
vate business for me. 

It was part of my duty to ration the hay for the ele 
phant and the thrice-accursed camel. The latter had 
just bitten Mr. Grigg, our clown not severely and 
Speed and Horan the " Strong Man " were hobbling the 
brute as I finished feeding my lions and came up to 
assist the others. 

"Watch that darn elephant, too, Mr. Grigg," said 
Byram, looking up from a plate of fried ham that Miss 
Crystal, our "Trapeze Lady," had just cooked for him 
over our gypsy fires of driftwood. 

"Look at that elephant! Look at him!" continued 
Byram, with a trace of animation lighting up his care 
worn face " look at him now chuckin' hay "over his 
back. Scrape it up, Mr. Scarlett; hay's thirty a ton 
in this war-starved country." 

As I started to clean up the precious hay, the ele 
phant gave a curious grunt and swung his trunk tow 
ard me. 

" There's somethin' paltry about that elephant," said 
180 



IN CAMP 

Byram, in a complaining voice, rising, with plate of 
ham in one hand, fork in the other. " He's gittin' as 
mean as that crafty camuel. Make him move, Mr. 
Speed, or hell put his foot on the trombone." 

"H6 Djebe! Mail!" said Speed, sharply. 

The elephant obediently shuffled forward; Byram 
sat down again, and wearily cut himself a bit of fried 
ham ; and presently we were all sitting around the long 
camp-table in the glare of two smoky petroleum torches, 
eating our bread and ham and potatoes and drinking 
Breton cider, a jug of which Mr. Horan had purchased 
for a few coppers. 

Some among us were too tired to eat, many too tired 
for conversation, yet, from habit we fell into small talk 
concerning the circus, the animals, the prospects of bet 
ter days. 

The ladies of the company, whatever quarrels they 
indulged in among themselves, stood loyally by Byram 
in his anxiety and need. Miss Crystal and Miss Delany 
displayed edifying optimism; Mrs. Horan refrained 
from nagging ; Mrs. Grigg, a pretty little creature, who 
was one of the best equestriennes I ever saw, declared 
that we were living too well and that a little dieting 
wouldn't hurt anybody. 

McCadger, our band-master, came over from the other 
fire to say that the men had finished grooming the 
horses, and would I inspect the picket-line, as Kelly 
Eyre was still absent. 

When I returned, the ladies had retired to their 
blankets under their shelter-tent; poor little Grigg lay 
asleep at the table, his tired, ugly head resting among 
the unwashed tin plates ; Speed sprawled in his chair, 
smoking a short pipe; Byram sat all hunched up, his 
head sunk, eyes vacantly following the movements 
of two men who were washing dishes in the flickering 
torchlight. 

181 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

He looked up at me, saying : " I guess Mr. Speed is 
right. Them lions o' yourn is fed too much horse- 
meat. Overeatin' is overheatin' ; we've got to give 'em 
beef or they'll be clawin' you. Yes, sir, they're all het 
up. Hear 'em growl!" 

" That's a fable, governor," I said, smiling and drop 
ping into a chair. "I've heard that theory before, but 
it isn't true." 

"The trouble with your lions is that you play with 
them too much and they're losing respect for you," 
said Speed, drowsily. 

"The trouble with my lions," said I, "is that they 
were born in captivity. Give me a wild lion, caught 
on his native heath, and I'll know what to expect from 
him when I tame him. But no man on earth can tell 
what a lion born in captivity will do." 

The hard cider had cheered Byram a little ; he drew 
a cherished cigar from his vest-pocket, offered it to me, 
and when I considerately refused, he carefully set it 
alight with a splinter from the fire. Its odor was in 
describable. 

" Luck's a curious phenomena, ain't it, Mr. Scarlett?" 
he said. 

I agreed with him. 

" Luck," continued Byram, waving his cigar toward 
the four quarters of the globe, " is the rich man's slave 
an' the poor man's tyrant. It's also a see-saw. When 
the devil plays in luck the cherubim git spanked or 
words to that effec' not meanin' no profanity." 

"It's about like that, governor," admitted Speed, 
lazily. 

Byram leaned back and sucked meditatively at his 
cigar. The new moon was just rising over the ele 
phant's hindquarters, and the poetry of the incident 
appeared to move the manager profoundly. He turned 
and surveyed the dim bivouac, the two silent tents, the 

182 



IN CAMP 

monstrous, shadowy bulk of the elephant, rocking 
monotonously against the sky. "Kind of Silurian 
an' solemn, ain't it," he murmured, "the moon shinin' 
onto the rump of that primeval pachyderm. It's like 
the dark ages of the behemoth an' the cony. I tell 
you, gentlemen, when them fearsome an' gigantic 
mamuels was aboundin' in the dawn of creation, the 
public missed the greatest show on earth by a few 
million years!" 

We nodded sleepily but gravely. 

Byram appeared to have recovered something of his 
buoyancy and native optimism. 

"Gentlemen," he said, "let's kinder saunter over to 
the inn and have a night-cap with Kelly Eyre." 

This unusual and expensive suggestion startled us 
wide awake, but we were only too glad to acquiesce in 
anything which tended to raise his spirits or ours. 
Dog tired but smiling we rose; Byram, in his shirt 
sleeves and suspenders, wearing his silk hat on the 
back of his head, led the way, fanning his perspiring 
face with a red-and-yellow bandanna. 

"Luck," said Byram, waving his cigar toward the 
new moon, " is bound to turn one way or t'other like 
my camuel. Sometimes, resemblin' the camuel, luck 
will turn on you. Look out it don't bite you. I once 
made up a piece about luck: 

" ' Don't buck 
Bad luck 
Or you'll get stuck ' 

I disremember the rest, but it went on to say a few 
other words to that effec'." 

The lighted door of the inn hung ajar as we crossed 
the star-lit square ; Byram entered and stood a moment 
in the doorway, stroking his chin. "Bong joor the 
company 1" he said, lifting his battered hat. 

183 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

The few Bretons in the wine - room returned his 
civility; he glanced about and his eye fell on Kelly 
Eyre, Speed's assistant balloonist, seated by the win 
dow with Horan. 

" Well, gents/' said Byram, hopefully, " an' what aire 
the prospects of smilin' fortune when rosy -fingered 
dawn has came again to kiss us back to life?" 

"Rotten," said Eyre, pushing a telegram across the 
oak table. 

Byram 's face fell; he picked up the telegram and 
fumbled in his coat for his spectacles with unsteady 
hand. 

"Let me read it, governor," said Speed, and took the 
blue paper from Byram's unresisting, stubby fingers. 

"Oho!" he muttered, scanning the message; "well 
well, it's not so bad as all that " He turned abruptly 
on Kelly Eyre " What the devil are you scaring the 
governor for?" 

"Well, he's got to be told I didn't mean to worry 
him, "said Eyre, stammering, ashamed of his thought 
lessness. 

"Now see here, governor," said Speed, "let's all 
have a drink first. He" ma belle!" to the big Breton 
girl knitting in the corner "four little swallows of 
eau-de-vie, if you please ! Ah, thank you, I knew you 
were from Bannalec, where all the girls are as clever 
as they are pretty! Come, governor, touch glasses! 
There is no circus but the circus, and Byram is it's 
prophet! Drink, gentlemen!" 

But his forced gayety was ominous; we scarcely 
tasted the liqueur. Byram wiped his brow and squared 
his bent shoulders. Speed, elbows on the table, sat 
musing and twirling his half-empty glass. 

"Well, sir?" said Byram, in a low voice. 

"Well, governor? Oh er the telegram?" asked 
Speed, like a man fighting for time. 

184 



IN CAMP 

"Yes, the telegram/' said By ram, patiently. 

" Well, you see they have just heard of the terrible 
smash -up in the north, governor. Metz has surren 
dered with Bazaine's entire army. And they're natu 
rally frightened at Lorient. . . . And I rather fear that 
the Germans are on their way toward the coast. . . . 
And . . . well . . . they won't let us pass the Lorient 
fortifications." 

"Won't let us in?" cried Byram, hoarsely. 

"I'm afraid not, governor." 

Byram stared at us. We had counted on Lorient to 
pull us through as far as the frontier. 

"Now don't take it so hard, governor," said Kelly 
Eyre; "I was frightened myself, at first, but I'm 
ashamed of it now. We'll pull through, anyhow." 

"Certainly," said Speed, cheerily, "we'll just lay up 
here for a few days and economize. Why can't we try 
one performance here, Scarlett?" 

" We can," said I. " We'll drum up the whole district 
from Pontivy to Auray and from Penmarch Point to 
Plouharnel ! Why should the Breton peasantry not 
come? Don't they walk miles to the Pardons?" 

A gray pallor settled on By ram's sunken face; with 
it came a certain dignity which sorrow sometimes 
brings even to men like him. 

"Young gentlemen," he said, "I'm obliged to you. 
These here reverses come to everybody, I guess. The 
Lord knows best ; but if He'll just lemme run my show 
a leetle longer, I'll pay my debts an' say, 'Thy will be 
done, amen ! ' ' 

"We all must learn to say that, anyway/' said 
Speed. 

"Mebbe," muttered Byram, "but I must pay my 
debts." 

After a painful silence he rose, steadying himself 
with his hand on Eyre's broad shoulder, and shambled 

185 



out across the square, muttering something about his 
elephant and his camuel. 

Speed paid the insignificant bill, emptied his glass, 
and nodded at me. 

"It's all up," he said, soberly. 

" Let's come back to camp and talk it over," I said. 

Together we traversed the square under the stars, 
and entered the field of clover. In the dim, smoky 
camp all lights were out except one oil-drenched torch 
stuck in the ground between the two tents. Byram 
had gone to rest, so had Kelly Eyre. But my lions 
were awake, moving noiselessly to and fro, eyes shin 
ing in the dusk ; and the elephant, a shapeless pile of 
shadow against the sky, stood watching us with little, 
evil eyes. 

Speed had some cigarettes, and he laid the pink 
package on the table. I lighted one when he did. 

"Do you really think there's a chance?" he asked, 
presently. 

"I don't know," I said. 

"Well, we can try." 

"Oh yes." 

Speed dropped his elbows on the table. "Poor old 
governor," he said. 

Then he began to talk of our own prospects, which 
were certainly obscure if not alarming; but he soon 
gave up speculation as futile, and grew reminiscent, 
recalling our first acquaintance as discharged soldiers 
from the African battalions, our hand-to-mouth exist 
ence as gentlemen farmers in Algiers, our bankruptcy 
and desperate struggle in Marseilles, first as dock- 
workmen, then as government horse -buyers for the 
cavalry, then as employe's of the Hippodrome in Paris, 
where I finally settled down as bareback rider, lion- 
tamer, and instructor in the haute-6cole ; and he accepted 
a salary as aid to Monsieur Gaston Tissandier, the sci- 

186 



IN CAMP 

enlist, who was experimenting with balloons at Saint- 
Cloud. 

He spoke, too, of our enlistment in the Imperial Po 
lice, and the hopes we had of advancement, which not 
only brought no response from me, but left us both 
brooding sullenly on our wrongs, crouched there over 
the rough camp-table under the stars. 

"Oh, hell!" muttered Speed, "I'm going to bed." 

But he did not move. Presently he said, " How did 
you ever come to handle wild animals?" 

"I've always been fond of animals; I broke colts 
at home; I had bear cubs and other things. Then, in 
Algiers, the regiment caught a couple of lions and kept 
them in a cage, and well, I found I could do what I 
liked with them." 

"They're afraid of your eyes, aren't they?" 

"I don't know perhaps it's that; I can't explain it 
or, rather, I could partly explain it by saying that I 
am not afraid of them. But I never trust them." 

"You drag them all around the cage! You shove 
them about like sacks of meal!" 

"Yes, ... but I don't trust them." 

"It seems to me," said Speed, "that your lions are 
getting rather impudent these days. They're not very 
much afraid of you now." 

"Nor I of them," I said, wearily; "I'm much more 
anxious about you when you go sailing about in that 
patched balloon of yours. Are you never nervous?" 

"Nervous? When?" 

"When you're up there?" 

"Rubbish." 

"Suppose the patches give way?" 

" I never think of that," he said, leaning on the table 
with a yawn. " Oh, Lord, how tired I am ! . . . but I 
shall not be able to sleep. I'm actually too tired to 
sleep. Have you got a pack of cards, Scarlett? or a 

187 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

decent cigar, or a glass of anything, or anything t v: 
show me more amusing than that nightmare of an 
elephant? Oh, I'm sick of the whole business sick! 
sick! The stench of the tan -bark never leaves my 
nostrils except when the odor of fried ham or of that 
devilish camel replaces it. 

" I'm too old to enjoy a gypsy drama when it's acted 
by myself; I'm tired of trudging through the world 
with my entire estate in my pocket. I want a home, 
Scarlett. Lord, how I envy people with homes!" 

He had been indulging in this outburst with his back 
partly turned toward me. I did not say anything, and, 
after a moment, he looked at me over his shoulder to 
see how I took it. 

"I'd like to have a home, too," I said. 

" I suppose homes are not meant for men like you and 
me," he said. "Lord, how I would appreciate one, 
though anything with a bit of grass in the yard 
and a shovelful of dirt enough to grow some damn 
flower, you know. . . . Did you smell the posies in 
the square to-night? . . . Something of that kind, 
. . . anything, Scarlett anything that can be called 
a home! . . . But you can't understand." 

"Oh yes, I can," I said. 

He went on muttering, half to himself: "We're of 
the same breed pariahs; fortunately, pariahs don't 
last long, . . . like the wild creatures who never die 
natural deaths, . . . old age is one of the curses they 
can safely discount, . . . and so can we, Scarlett, so 
can we. . . . For you'll be mauled by a lion or kicked 
into glory by a horse or an ox or an ass, . . . and I'll 
fall off a balloon, ... or the camel will give me tetanus, 
or the elephant will get me in one way or another, . . . 
or something. ..." 

Again he twisted around to look at me. "Funny, 
isn't it?" 

188 



IN CAMP 

"Rather funny," I said, listlessly. 

He leaned over, pulled another cigarette from the 
pink packet, broke a match from the card, and light 
ed it. 

"I feel better/' he observed. 

I expressed sleepy gratification. 

" Oh yes, I'm much better. This isn't a bad life, is 
it?" 

"Oh no!" I said, sarcastically. 

" No, it's all right, and we've got to pull the poor old 
governor through and give a jolly good show here and 
start the whole country toward the tent door! Eh?" 

"Certainly. Don't let me detain you." 

"I'll tell you what," he said, "if we only had that 
poor little girl, Miss Claridge, we'd catch these Bretons. 
That's what took the coast -folk all over Europe, so 
Grigg says." 

Miss Claridge had performed in a large glass tank 
as the "Leaping Mermaid." It took like wildfire ac 
cording to our fellow-performers. We had never seen 
her; she was killed by diving into her tank when the 
circus was at Antwerp in April. 

" Can't we get up something like that?" I suggested, 
hopelessly. 

"Who would do it? Miss Claridge 's fish-tights are 
in the prop-box; who's to wear them?" 

He began to say something else, but stopped sud 
denly, eyes fixed. We were seated nearly opposite each 
other, and I turned around, following the direction of 
his eyes. 

Jacqueline stood behind me in the smoky light of the 
torch Jacqueline, bare of arm and knee, with her sea- 
blue eyes very wide and the witch -locks clustering 
around the dim oval of her face. After a moment's 
absolute silence she said : " I came from Paradise. 
Don't you remember?" 

189 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

"From Paradise?" said Speed, smiling; "I thought 
it might be from elf-land." 

And I said : " Of course I remember you, Jacqueline. 
And I have an idea you ought to be in bed." 

There was another silence. 

"Won't you sit down?" asked Speed. 

"Thank you," said Jacqueline, gravely. 

She seated herself on a sack of sawdust, clasping 
her slender hands between her knees, and looked 
earnestly at the elephant. 

"He won't harm you/' I assured her. 

" If you think I am afraid of that," she said, " you are 
mistaken, Monsieur Scarlett." 

"I don't think you are afraid of anything," observed 
Speed, smiling; "but I know you are capable of as 
tonishment." 

"How do you know that?" demanded the girl. 

" Because I saw you with your drum on the high-road 
when we came past Paradise. Your eyes were similar 
to saucers, and your mouth was not closed, Made 
moiselle Jacqueline." 

"Oh pour ca yes, I was astonished," she said. 
Then, with a quick, upward glance : " Were you riding, 
in armor, on a horse?" 

"No," said Speed ; "I was on that elephant's head." 

This appeared to make a certain impression on Jacque 
line. She became shyer of speech for a while, until he 
asked her, jestingly, why she did not join the circus. 

"It is what I wish," she said, under her breath. 

"And ride white horses?" 

" Will you take me?" she cried, passionately, spring 
ing to her feet. 

Amazed at her earnestness, I tried to explain that 
such an idea was out of the question. She listened 
anxiously at first, then her eyes fell and she stood 
there in the torch-light, head hanging. 

190 



IN CAMP 

" Don't you know," said Speed, kindly, " that it takes 
years of practice to do what circus people do? And the 
life is not gay, Jacqueline ; it is hard for all of us. We 
know what hunger means ; we know sickness and want 
and cold. Believe me, you are happier in Paradise than 
we are in the circus." 

"It may be," she said, quietly. 

"Of course it is," he insisted. 

"But," she flashed out, "I would rather be unhappy 
in the circus than happy in Paradise!" 

He protested, smiling, but she would have her 
way. 

"I once saw a man, in spangles, turning, turning, 
and ever turning upon a rod. He was very far away, 
and that was very long ago at the fair in Bannalec. 
But I have not forgotten ! No, monsieur ! In our net- 
shed I also have fixed a bar of wood, and on it I turn, 
turn continually. I am not ignorant of twisting. I 
can place my legs over my neck and cross my feet under 
my chin. Also I can stand on both hands, and I can 
throw scores of handsprings which I do every morning 
upon the beach I, Jacqueline!" 

She was excited; she stretched out both bare arms 
as though preparing to demonstrate her ability then 
and there. 

"I should like to see a circus," she said. "Then I 
should know what to do. That I can swing higher 
than any girl in Paradise has been demonstrated often," 
she went on, earnestly. "I can swim farther, I can 
dive deeper, I can run faster, with bare feet or with 
sabots, than anybody, man or woman, from the Beacon 
to Our Lady's Chapel ! At bowls the men will not allow 
me because I have beaten them all, monsieur, even the 
mayor, which he never forgave. As for the farandole, 
I tire last of all and it is the biniou who cries out for 
mercy!" 

191 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

She laughed and pushed back her hair, standing 
straight up in the yellow radiance like a moor-sprite. 
There was something almost unearthly in her lithe 
young body and fearless sea-blue eyes, sparkling from 
the shock of curls. 

"So you can dive and swim?" asked Speed, with a 
glance at me. 

"Like the salmon in the Laita, monsieur." 

"Under water?" 

"Parbleu!" 

After a pause I asked her age. 

"Fifteen, M'sieu Scarlett." 

"You don't look thirteen, Jacqueline." 

" I think I should grow faster if we were not so poor/' 
she said, innocently. 

"You mean that you don't get enough to eat?" 

"Not always 1 , m'sieu. But that is so with every 
body except the wealthy." 

"Suppose we try her," said Speed, after a silence. 
"You and I can scrape up a little money for her if 
worst comes to worst." 

"How about her father?" 

"You can see him. What is he?" 

"A poacher, I understand." 

" Oh, then it's easy enough. Give him a few francs. 
He'll take the child's salary, anyway, if this thing 
turns out well." 

"Jacqueline," I said, "we can't afford to pay you 
much money, you know." 

"Money?" repeated the child, vacantly. "Money! 
If I had my arms full so! I would throw it into 
the world so!" she glanced at Speed "reserving 
enough for a new skirt, monsieur, of which I stand 
in some necessity." 

The quaint seriousness, the resolute fearlessness of 
this little maid of Paradise touched us both, I think, 

192 



IN CAMP 

as she stood there restlessly, balancing on her slim 
bare feet, finger-tips poised on her hips. 

"Won't you take me?" she asked, sweetly. 

" I'll tell you what III do, Jacqueline," said I. " Very 
early in the morning I'll go down to your house and 
see your father. Then, if he makes no objection, I'll 
get you to put on a pretty swimming-suit, all made out 
of silver scales, and you can show me, there in the sea, 
how you can dive and swim and play at mermaid. 
Does that please you?" 

She looked earnestly at me, then at Speed. 

"Is it a promise?" she asked, in a quivering voice. 

"Yes, Jacqueline." 

"Then I thank you, M'sieu Scarlett, . . . and you, 
m'sieur, who ride the elephant so splendidly. . . . 
And I will be waiting for you when you come. . . . 
We live in the house below the Saint- Julien Light. . . . 
My father is pilot of the port. . . . Anybody will tell 
you." . . . 

"I will not forget," said I. 

She bade us good-night very prettily, stepped back 
out of the circle of torch-light, and vanished there 
is no other word for it. 

" Gracious," said Speed, " wasn't that rather sudden? 
Or is that the child yonder? No, it's a bush. Well, 
Scarlett, there's an uncanny young one for you no, 
not uncanny, but a spirit in its most delicate sense. 
I've an idea she's going to find poor Byram's lost luck 
for him." 

"Or break her neck," I observed. 

Speed was quiet for a long while. 

"By-the-way," he said, at last, "are you going to 
tell the Countess about that fellow Buckhurst?" 

"I sent a note to her before I fed my lions/' I replied. 

"Are you going to see her?" 

"If she desires it." 

3 193 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

"Who took the note, Scarlett?" 

"Jacqueline's father, . . . that Lizard fellow." 

" Well, don't let's stir up Buckhurst now," said Speed. 
"Let's do what we can for the governor first." 

" Of course/' said I. " And I'm going to bed. Good 
night." 

"Good-night," said Speed, thoughtfully. "I'll join 
you in a moment." 

When I was ready for bed and stood at the tent door, 
peering out into the darkness, I saw Speed curled up on 
a blanket between the elephant's forefeet, sound asleep. 



xn 

JACQUELINE 

THE stars were still shining when I awoke in my 
blanket, lighted a candle, and stepped into the 
wooden tub of salt-water outside the tent. 

I shaved by candle-light, dressed in my worn riding- 
breeches and jacket, then, candle in hand, began grop 
ing about among the faded bits of finery and tarnished 
properties until I found the silver - scaled swimming- 
tights once worn by the girl of whom we had heard so 
much. 

She was very young when she leaped to her death 
in Antwerp a slim slip of a creature, they said so I 
thought it likely that her suit might fit Jacqueline. 

The stars had begun to fade when I stepped out 
through the dew-soaked clover, carrying in one hand a 
satchel containing the swimming - suit, in the other 
a gun-case, in which, carefully oiled and doubly cased 
in flannel, reposed my only luxury my breech-loading 
shot-gun. 

The silence, intensified by the double thunder of the 
breakers on the sands, was suddenly pierced by a far 
cock-crow ; vague gray figures passed across the square 
as I traversed it; a cow-bell tinkled near by, and I 
smelt the fresh-blown wind from the downs. 

Presently, as I turned into the cliff-path, I saw a 
sober little Breton cow plodding patiently along ahead ; 
beside her moved a fresh -faced maid of Paradise in 

195 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

snowy collarette and white-winged head-dress, knitting 
as she walked, fair head bent. 

As I passed her she glanced up with tear -dimmed 
eyes, murmuring the customary salutation: "Bon- 
jour d'ac'h, m'sieu!" And I replied in the best patois 
I could command: "Bonjour d'ec'h a laran, na oeled 
Ket! Why do you cry, mademoiselle?" 

" Cry, m'sieu? They are taking the men of Paradise 
to the war. France must know how cruel she is to 
take our men from us." 

We had reached the green crest of the plateau; the 
girl tethered her diminutive cow, sat down on a half- 
imbedded stone, and continued her knitting, crying 
softly all the while. 

I asked her to direct me to the house where Robert, 
the Lizard, lived ; she pointed with her needles to a large 
stone house looming up in the gray light, built on the 
rocks just under the beacon. It was white with sea- 
slime and crusted salt, yet heavily and solidly built as 
a fort, and doubtless very old, judging from the traces 
of sculptured work over portal and windows. 

I had scarcely expected to find the ragged Lizard and 
more ragged Jacqueline housed in such an anciently 
respectable structure, and I said so to the girl beside me. 

"The house is bare as the bones of Sainte-Anne," 
she said. " There is nothing within not even crumbs 
enough for the cliff-rats, they say." 

So I went away across the foggy, soaking moorland, 
carrying my gun and satchel in their cases, descended 
the grassy cleft, entered a cattle-path, and picked my 
way across the wet, black rocks toward the abode of 
the poacher. 

The Lizard was standing on his doorsill when I 
came up; he returned my greeting sullenly, his keen 
e3~es of a sea-bird roving over me from head to foot. 
A rumpled and sulky yellow cat, evidentlv just awake, 

196 



JACQUELINE 

sat on the doorstep beside him and yawned at intervals. 
The pair looked as though they had made a night of it. 

"You took my letter last night?" I asked. 

"Yes." 

"Was there an answer for me?" 

"Yes." 

"Couldn't you have come to the camp and told me?" 

" I could, but I had other matters to concern me," 
he replied. " Here's your letter/' and he fished it out 
of his tattered pocket. 

I was angry enough, but I did not wish to anger 
him at that moment. So I took the letter and read it 
a formal line saying the Countess de Vassart would 
expect me at five that afternoon. 

"You are not noted for your courtesy, are you?" 
I inquired, smiling. 

Something resembling a grin touched his sea-scarred 
visage. 

"Oh, I knew you'd come for your answer," he said, 
coolly. 

"Look here, Lizard," I said, "I intend to be friends 
with you, arid I mean to make you look on me as a 
friend. It's to my advantage and to yours." 

"To mine?" he inquired, sneeringly, amused. 

" And this is the first thing I want," I continued ; 
and without further preface I unfolded our plans con 
cerning Jacqueline. 

"Entendu," he said, drawling the word, "is that 
all?" 

"Do you consent?" 

"Is that all?" he repeated, with Breton obstinacy. 

"No, not all. I want you to be my messenger in 
time of need. I want you to be absolutely faithful to 
me." 

"Is that all?" he drawled again. 

"Yes, that is all." 

197 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

"And what is there in this, to my advantage, 
m'sieu?" 

"This, for one thing/' I said, carelessly, picking 
up my gun-case. I slowly drew out the barrels of 
Damascus, then the rose-wood stock and fore-end, 
assembling them lovingly ; for it was the finest weapon 
I had ever seen, and it was breaking my heart to give 
it away. 

The poacher's eyes began to glitter as I fitted the 
double bolts and locked breech and barrel with the 
extension rib. Then I snapped on the fore-end; and 
there lay the gun in my hands, a fowling-piece fit for 
an emperor. 

"Give it?" muttered the poacher, huskily. 

" Take it, my friend the Lizard," I replied, smiling 
down the wrench in my heart. 

There was a silence; then the poacher stepped 
forward, and, looking me square in the eye, flung out 
his hand. I struck my open palm smartly against his, 
in the Breton fashion; then we clasped hands. 

"You mean honestly by the little one?" 

"Yes," I said; "strike palms by Sainte Thekla of 
Yc6ne!" 

We struck palms heavily. 

"She is a child," he said; "there is no vice in her; 
yet I've seen them nearly finished at her age in Paris." 
And he swore terribly as he said it. 

We dropped hands in silence; then, "Is this gun 
mine?" he demanded, hoarsely. 

"Yes." 

"Strike!" he cried; "take my friendship if you want 
it, on this condition what I am is my own concern, 
not yours. Don't interfere, m'sieu; it would be use 
less. I should never betray you, but I might kill you. 
Don't interfere. But if you care for the good-will of a 
man like me, take it; and when you desire a service 

198 



JACQUELINE 

from me, tell me, and I'll not fail you, by Sainte-Eline 
of Paradise!" 

" Strike palms," said I, gravely ; and we struck palms 
thrice. 

He turned on his heel, kicking off his sabots on the 
doorsill. "Break bread with me; I ask it," he said, 
gruffly, and stalked before me into the house. 

The room was massive and of noble proportion, but 
there was scarcely anything in it a stained table, a 
settle, a little pile of rags on the stone floor no, not 
rags, but Jacqueline's clothes! and there at the end 
of the great chamber, built into the wall, was the ancient 
Breton bed with its Gothic carving and sliding panels 
of black oak, carved like the lattice-work in a chapel 
screen. 

Outside dawn was breaking through a silver shoal 
of clouds; already its slender tentacles of light were 
probing the shadows behind the lattice where Jacque 
line lay sleeping. 

From the ashes on the hearth a spiral of smoke 
curled. The yellow cat walked in and sat down, con 
templating the ashes. 

Slowly a saffron light filled the room; Jacqueline 
awoke in the dim bed. 

She pushed the panels aside and peered out, her 
sea-blue eyes heavy with slumber. 

"Ma doue"!" she murmured; "it is M'sieu Scarlett! 
Aie! Aie! Am I a countess to sleep so late? Bon- 
jour, m'sieu! Bonjour, papa!" She caught sight of 
the yellow cat, "Et bien le bonjour, Ange Pitou!" 

She swathed herself in a blanket and sat up, looking 
at me sleepily. 

"You came to see me swim," she said. 

"And I've brought you a fish's silver skin to swim 
in," I replied, pointing at the satchel. 

She cast a swift glance at her father, who, with the 
199 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

gun on his knees, sat as though hypnotized by the 
beauty of its workmanship. Her bright eyes fell on 
the gun; she understood in a flash. 

"Then you'll take me?" 

"If you swim as well as I hope you can." 

"Turn your back!" she cried. 

I wheeled about and sat down on the settle beside the 
poacher. There came a light thud of small, bare feet 
on the stone floor, then silence. The poacher looked up. 

"She's gone to the ocean," he said; "she has the 
mania for baths like you English." And he fell to 
rubbing the gunstock with dirty thumb. 

The saffron light in the room was turning pink when 
Jacqueline reappeared on the threshold in her ragged 
skirt and stained velvet bodice half laced, with the 
broken points hanging, carrying an armful of drift 
wood. 

Without a word she went to work; the driftwood 
caught fire from the ashes, flaming up in exquisite 
colors, now rosy, now delicate green, now violet; the 
copper pot, swinging from the crane, began to steam, 
then to simmer. 

"Papa!" 

"De quoi!' growled the poacher. 

"Were you out last night?" 

"Dame, I've just come in." 

"Is there anything?" 

The poacher gave me an oblique and evil glance, 
then coolly answered : " Three pheasant, two partridges, 
and a sea-trout in the net-shed. All are drawn." 

So swiftly she worked that the pink light had scarcely 
deepened to crimson when the poacher, laying the gun 
tenderly in the blankets of Jacqueline's tumbled bed, 
came striding back to the table where a sea-trout smoked 
on a cracked platter, and a bowl of bread and milk stood 
before each place. 

200 



JACQUELINE 

We ate silently. Ange Pitou, the yellow cat, came 
around with tail inflated. There were fishbones enough 
to gratify any cat, and Ange Pitou made short work of 
them. 

The poacher bolted his food, sombre eyes brooding 
or stealing across the room to the bed where his gun 
lay. Jacqueline, to my amazement, ate as daintily 
as a linnet, yet with a fresh, hearty unconsciousness 
that left nothing in her bowl or wooden spoon. 

"Schist?" inquired the poacher, lifting his tired eyes 
to me. I nodded. So he brought a jug of cold, sweet 
cider, and we all drank long and deeply, each in turn 
slinging the jug over the crooked elbow. 

The poacher rose, wiped his mouth with the back of 
his hand, and made straight for his new gun. 

"You two," he said, with a wave of his arm, "you 
settle it among yourselves. Jacqueline, is it true that 
Le Bihan saw woodcock dropping into the fen last 
night?" 

"He says so." 

"He is not a liar usually/' observed the poacher. 
He touched his beret to me, flung the fowling-piece over 
his shoulder, picked up a canvas bag in which I heard 
cartridges rattling, stepped into his sabots, and walked 
away. In a few moments the hysterical yelps of a dog, 
pleased at the prospect of a hunt, broke out from the 
net-shed. 

Jacqueline placed the few dishes in a pan of hot 
water, wiped her fingers, daintily, and picked up Ange 
Pitou, who promptly acknowledged the courtesy by 
bursting into a crackling purring. 

"Show me the swimming-suit," she said, shyly. 

I drew it out of the satchel and laid it across my knees. 

" Oh, it has a little tail behind like a fish !" she cried, 
enchanted. "I shall look like the silver grilse of 
Quimperle"!" 

20T 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

"Do you think you can swim in those scales?" I 
asked. 

"Swim? I Jacqueline? Attendez un peu you 
shall see!" 

She laughed an excited, confident little laugh and 
hugged Ange Pitou, who closed his eyes in ecstasy 
sheathing and unsheathing his sharp claws. 

"It is almost sunrise," I said. 

"It lacks many minutes to sunrise," she replied. 
"Ask Ange Pitou. At sunrise he leaves me; nothing 
can hold him ; he does not bite or scratch, he just pushes 
and pulls until my arms are tired. Then he goes. 
It is always so." 

"Why does he do that?" 

" Ask him. I have often asked, but he never tells 
me do you, my friend? I think he's a moor-sprite 
perhaps a devil. Do devils hate all kinds of 
water?" 

"No, only holy water," I replied. 

" Well, then, he's something else. Look! Look! He 
is beginning ! See him push to get free, see him drive 
his furry head into my hands. The sun is coming 
up out of the sea! It will soon be here." 

She opened her arms; the cat sprang to the door 
step and Vctnished. 

Jacqueline looked at the swimming-suit, then at me. 
"Will you go down to the beach, M'sieu Scarlett?" 

But I had not traversed half the strip of rock and 
hard sand before something flew past a slim, glitter 
ing shape which suddenly doubled up, straightened 
again, and fell headlong into the thundering surf. 

The waves hurled her from crest to crest, clothing 
her limbs in froth; the singing foam rolled her over 
and over, stranding her on bubbling sands, until the 
swell found her again, lifted her, and tossed her sea 
ward into the wide, white arms of the breakers. 

202 



JACQUELINE 

Back to land she drifted and scrambled up on the 
beach, a slender, drenched figure, glistening and flash 
ing with every movement. 

Dainty of limb as a cat in wet grass, she shook the 
spray from her fingers and scrubbed each palm with 
sand, then sprang again headlong into the surf; there 
was a flash, a spatter, and she vanished. 

After a long, long while, far out on the water she 
rose, floating. 

Now the red sun, pushing above the ocean's leaden 
rim, flung its crimson net across the water. String 
after string of white-breasted sea-ducks beat to wind 
ward from the cove, whirling out to sea ; the gray gulls 
flapped low above the shoal and settled in rows along 
the outer bar, tossing their sun-tipped wings ; the black 
cormorant on the cliff craned its hideous neck, scanning 
the ocean with restless, brilliant eyes. 

Tossed back once more upon the beach like an opales 
cent shell, Jacqueline, ankle-deep in foam, looked out 
across the flaming waters, her drenched hair dripping. 

From the gorse on cliff and headland, one by one the 
larks shot skyward like amber rockets, trailing a shower 
of melody till the whole sky rained song. The crested 
vanneaux, passing out to sea, responded plaintively, 
flapping their bronze-green wings. 

The girl twisted her hair and wrung it till the last 
salt drop had fallen. Sitting there in the sands, idle 
ringers cracking the pods of gilded sea -weed, she 
glanced up at me and laughed contentedly. Pres 
ently she rose and walked out to a high ledge, mo 
tioning me to follow. Far below, the sun -lit water 
shimmered in a shallow basin of silver sand. 

" Look \" she cried, flinging her arms above her head, 
and dropped into space, falling like a star, down, down 
into the shallow sea. Far below I saw a streak of liv 
ing light shoot through the water on, on, closer to the 

203 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

surface now, and at last she fairly sprang into the air, 
quivering like a gaffed salmon, then fell back to float 
and clear her blue eyes from her tangled hair. 

She gave me a glance full of malice as she landed, 
knowing quite well that she had not only won, but had 
given me a shock with her long dive into scarce three 
feet of water. 

Presently she climbed to the sun-warmed hillock of 
sand and sat down beside me to dry her hair. 

A langouste, in his flaming scarlet coat of mail, 
passed through a glassy pool among the rocks, tread 
ing sedately on pointed claws; the langons tunnelled 
the oozing beach under her pink feet, like streams 
of living quicksilver; the big, blue sea -crabs sidled 
off the reef, sheering down sideways into limpid 
depths. Landward the curlew walked in twos and 
threes, swinging their long sickle bills; the sea-swal 
lows drove by like gray snow -squalls, melting away 
against the sky; a vitreous living creature, blazing 
with purest sapphire light, floated past under water. 

Ange Pitou, coveting a warm sun-bath in the sand, 
came wandering along pretending not to see us; but 
Jacqueline dragged him into her arms for a hug, which 
lasted until Ange Pitou broke loose, tail hoisted but 
ears deaf to further flattery. 

So Jacqueline chased Ange Pitou back across the 
sand and up the rocky path, pursuing her pet from 
pillar to post with flying feet that fell as noiselessly 
as the velvet pads of Ange Pitou. 

"Come to the net-shed, if you please!" she called 
back to me, pointing to a crazy wooden structure built 
above the house. 

As I entered the net - shed the child was dragging a 
pile of sea-nets to the middle of the floor. 

"In case I fall," she said, coolly. 

" Better let me arrange them, then " I said, glancing 
204 



JACQUELINE 

up at the improvised trapeze which dangled under the 
roof-beams. 

She thanked me, seized a long rope, and went up, 
hand over hand. I piled the soft nets into a mattress, 
but decided to stand near, not liking the arrangements. 

Meanwhile Jacqueline was swinging, head down 
ward, from her trapeze. Her cheeks flamed as she 
twisted and wriggled through a complicated manoeu 
vre, which ended by landing her seated on the bar of 
the trapeze a trifle out of breath. With both hands 
resting on the ropes, she started herself swinging, 
faster, faster, then pretended to drop off backward, 
only to catch herself with her heels, substitute heels 
for hands, and hang. Doubling back on her own body, 
she glided to her perch beneath the roof, shook her 
damp hair back, set the trapeze flying, and curled up 
on the bar, resting as fearlessly and securely as a 
bullfinch in a tree-top. 

Above her the red-and-black wasps buzzed and crawl 
ed and explored the sun-scorched beams. Spiders 
watched her from their silken hammocks, and the tiny 
cliff-mice scuttled from beam to beam. Through the 
open door the sunshine poured a flood of gold over the 
floor where the bronzed nets were spread. Mending 
was necessary ; she mentioned it, and set herself swing 
ing again, crossing her feet. 

"You think you could drop from there into a tank 
of water?" I asked. 

"How deep?" 

"Say four feet." 

She nodded, swinging tranquilly. 

"Have you any fear at all, Jacqueline?" 

"No." 

"You would try whatever I asked you to try?" 

"If I thought I could," she replied, naively. 

" But that is not it. I am to be your master. You 
205 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

must have absolute confidence in me and obey orders 
instantly." 

"Like a soldier?" 

"Exactly." 

"Bien." 

"Then hang by your hands!" 

Quick as a flash she hung above me. 

"You trust me, Jacqueline?" 

"Yes." 

"Then drop!" 

Down she flashed like a falling meteor. I caught her 
with that quick trick known to all acrobats, which left 
her standing on my knee. 

"Jump!" 

She sprang lightly to the heap of nets, lost her 
balance, stumbled, and sat down very suddenly. Then 
she threw back her head and laughed; peal on peal of 
deliciously childish laughter rang through the ancient 
net-shed, until, overhead, the passing gulls echoed her 
mirth with querulous mewing, and the sea-hawk, tower 
ing to the zenith, wheeled and squealed. 



XIII 
FRIENDS 

AT seven o'clock that morning the men in the circus 
camp awoke, worried, fatigued, vaguely resentful, 
unusually profane. Horan was openly mutinous, and 
announced his instant departure. 

By eight o'clock a miraculous change had taken 
place ; the camp was alive with scurrying people, gal 
vanized into hopeful activity by my possibly unwarrant 
ed optimism and a few judiciously veiled threats. 

Clothed with temporary authority by Byram, I took 
the bit between my teeth and ordered the instant erec 
tion of the main tents, the construction of the ring, 
barriers, and benches, and the immediate renovating 
of the portable tank in which poor little Miss Claridge 
had met her doom. 

I detailed Kelly Eyre to Quimperle" with orders for 
ten thousand crimson hand -bills; I sent McCadger, 
with Dawley, the bass-drummer, and Irwin, the cornet- 
tist, to plaster our posters from Pont Aven to Belle Isle, 
and I gave them three days to get back, and promised 
them a hundred dollars apiece if they succeeded in 
sticking our bills on the fortifications of Lorient and 
Quimper, with or without permission. 

I sent Grigg and three exempt Bretons to beat up 
the country from Gestel and Rosporden to Pontivy, clear 
across to Quiberon, and as far east as St. Gildas Point. 

By the standing-stones of Carnac, I swore that I'd 
have all Finistere in that tent. "Governor," said I, 

207 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

" we are going to feature Jacqueline all over Brittany, 
and, if the ladies object, it can't be helped ! By-the- 
way, do they object?" 

The ladies did object, otherwise they would not have 
been human ladies; but the battle was sharp and de 
cisive, for I was desperate. 

"It simply amounts to this/' I said: "Jacqueline 
pulls us through or the governor and I land in jail. 
As for you, Heaven knows what will happen to you ! 
Penal settlement, probably." 

And I called Speed and pointed at Jacqueline, sitting 
on her satchel, watching the proceedings with amiable 
curiosity. 

" Speed, take that child and rehearse her. Begin as 
soon as the tent is stretched and you can rig the flying 
trapeze. Use the net, of course. Horan rehearsed Miss 
Claridge; he'll stand by. Miss Crystal, your good-will 
and advice I depend upon. Will you help me?" 

"With all my heart," said Miss Crystal. 

That impulsive reply broke the sullen deadlock. 

Pretty little Mrs. Grigg went over and shook the 
child's hand very cordially and talked broken French 
to her; Miss Delany volunteered to give her some 
" Christian clothes " ; Mrs. Horan burst into tears, com 
plaining that everybody was conspiring to injure her 
and her husband, but a few moments later she brought 
Jacqueline some toast, tea, and fried eggs, an attention 
shyly appreciated by the puzzled child, who never before 
had made such a stir in the world. 

"Don't stuff her," said Speed, as Mrs. Horan en 
thusiastically trotted past bearing more toast. " Here, 
Scarlett, the ladies are spoiling her. Can I take her 
for the first lesson?" 

Byram, who had shambled up, nodded. I was glad 
to see him reassert his authority. Speed took the 
child by the hand, and together they entered the big 



FRIENDS 

white tent, which now loomed up like a mammoth 
mushroom against the blue sky. 

"Governor," I said, "we're all a bit demoralized; 
a few of us are mutinous. For Heaven's sake, let the 
men see you are game. This child has got to win out 
for us. Don't worry, don't object; back me up and let 
me put this thing through." 

The old man shoved his hands into his trousers- 
pockets and looked at me with heavy, hopeless eyes. 

"Now here's the sketch for the hand-bill," I said, 
cheerfully, taking a pencilled memorandum from my 
pocket. And I read: 

"THE PATRIOTIC ANTI-PRUSSIAN REPUBLICAN CIRCUS, 
MORE STUPENDOUS, MORE GIGANTIC, MORE 

OVERPOWERING THAN EVER I 
GLITTERING, MARVELLOUS, SOUL-COMPELLING I" 

"What's 'soul-compelling'?" asked Byram. 

"Anything you please, governor," I said, and read 
on rapidly until I came to the paragraph concerning 
Jacqueline : 

"THE WONDER OF EARTH AND HEAVEN! 

THE UNUTTERABLY BEAUTIFUL FLYING 

MERMAID! CAUGHT ON THE 

COAST OF BRITTANY! 

WHAT IS SHE? 

FISH? BIRD? HUMAN? DIVINE? 

WHO KNOWS? 

THE SCIENTISTS OF FRANCE DO NOT KNOW 11 

THE SCIENTISTS OF THE WORLD 

ARE CONFOUNDED! 

IS SHE 

A LOST SOUL 

FROM THE SUNKEN CITY OF KER-YS? 

50,000 FRANCS REWARD FOR THE BRETON WHO CAN 

PROVE THAT SHE DID NOT COME STRAIGHT FROM 

PARADISE I ! I" 
i 209 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

"That's a damn good bill," said Byram, suddenly. 

He was so seldom profane that I stared at him, wor 
ried lest his misfortunes had unbalanced him. But 
a faint, healthy color was already replacing the pallor 
in his loose cheeks, a glint of animation came into his 
sunken eyes. He lifted his battered silk hat, replaced 
it at an angle almost defiant, and scowled at Horan, 
who passed us sullenly, driving the camel tentwards 
with awful profanity. 

"Don't talk such langwidge in my presence, Mr. 
Horan," he said, sharply ; " a camuel is a camuel, but 
remember: 'kind hearts is more than cornets,' an' it's 
easier for that there camuel to pass through the eye 
of a needle than for a cussin' cuss to cuss his way into 
Kingdom Come!" 

Horan, who had betrayed unmistakable symptoms 
of insubordination that morning, quailed under the 
flowing rebuke. He was a man of muscular strength 
and meagre intellect ; words hit him like trip-hammers. 

"Certainly, governor," he stammered, and spoke to 
the camel politely, guiding that enraged and squealing 
quadruped to his manger with a forced smile. 

With mallet, hammer, saw, and screw-driver I worked 
until noon, maturing my plans all the while. These 
plans would take the last penny in the treasury and 
leave us in debt several thousand francs. But it was 
win or go to smash now, and personally I have always 
preferred a tremendous smash to a slow and oozy fizzle. 

A big pot of fragrant soup was served to the company 
at luncheon ; and it amused me to see Jacqueline troop 
into the tent with the others and sit down with her bit 
of bread and her bowl of broth. 

She was flushed and excited, and she talked to her 
instructor, Speed, all the while, chattering like a linnet 
between mouthfuls of bread and broth. 

"How is she getting on?" I called across to Speed. 
210 



FRIENDS 

"The child is simply startling/' he said, in English. 
" She is not afraid of anything. She and Miss Crystal 
have been doing that hair-raising ' flying swing ' with 
out rehearsal I" 

Jacqueline, hearing us talking in English, turned 
and stared at me, then smiled and looke t d up sweetly 
at Speed. 

"You seem to be popular with your pupil," I said, 
laughing. 

" She's a fine girl a fine, fearless, straight-up-and- 
down girl," he said, with enthusiasm. 

Everybody appeared to like her, though how much 
that liking might be modified if prosperity returned 
I was unable to judge. 

Now all our fortunes depended on her. She was not 
a ballon d'essai; she was literally the whole show; 
and if she duplicated the sensational success of poor 
little Miss Claridge, we had nothing to fear. But her 
troubles would then begin. At present, however, we 
were waiting for her to pull us out of the hole before we 
fell upon her and rent her professionally. And I use 
that " we " not only professionally, but with an attempt 
at chivalry. 

Byram's buoyancy had returned in a measure. He 
sat in his shirt-sleeves at the head of the table, vigor 
ously sopping his tartine in his soup, and, mouth full, 
leaned forward, chewing and listening to the conversa 
tion around him. 

Everybody knew it was life or death now, that each 
one must drop petty jealousies and work for the com 
mon salvation. An artificial and almost feverish ani 
mation reigned, which I adroitly fed with alarming al 
lusions to the rigor of the French law toward foreigners 
and other malefactors who ran into debt to French 
subjects on the sacred soil of France. And, having 
lived so long in France and in the French possessions, 

211 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

I was regarded as an oracle of authority by these am 
bulant professional people who were already deadly 
homesick, and who, in eighteen months of Europe, had 
amassed scarcely a dozen French phrases among them 
all. 

"I'll say one thing," observed By ram, with dig 
nity; "if ever I git out of this darn continong with 
my circus, I'll recooperate in the undulatin' medders 
an' j'yful vales of the United States. Hereafter that 
country will continue to remain good enough for 
me." 

All applauded all except Jacqueline, who looked 
around in astonishment at the proceedings, and only 
smiled when Speed explained in French. 

"Ask maddermoselle if she'll go home with us?" 
prompted Byram. "Tell her there's millions in it." 

Speed put the question ; Jacqueline listened gravely, 
hesitated, then whispered to Speed, who reddened a 
trifle and laughed. 

Everybody waited for a moment. "What does she 
say?" inquired Byram. 

"Oh, nothing; she talked nonsense." 

But Jacqueline's dignity and serene face certainly 
contradicted Speed's words. 

Presently Byram arose, flourishing his napkin. 
" Time's up!" he said, with decision, and we all trooped 
off to our appointed labors. 

Now that I had stirred up this beehive and set it 
swarming again, I had no inclination to turn drone. 
Yet I remembered my note to the Countess de Vassart 
and her reply. So about four o'clock I made the best 
toilet I could in my only other suit of clothes, and 
walked out of the bustling camp into the square, where 
the mossy fountain splashed under the oaks and the 
children of Paradise were playing. Hands joined, they 
danced in a ring, singing: 

212 



" tBarzig ha barzig a Goner i 
Ari e mab roue gand daou pe dri " 

" Little minstrel-bard of Coneri 

The son of the King has come with two or three- 
Nay, with a whole bright flock of paroquets, 
Crimson, silver, and violet." 

And the children, in their white coiffes and tiny 
wooden shoes, moved round and round the circle, in 
the middle of which a little lad and a little lass of Par 
adise stood motionless, hand clasping hand. 

The couplet ended, the two children in the middle 
sprang forward and dragged a third child out of the 
circle. Then the song began again, the reduced circle 
dancing around the three children in the middle. 

" The son of the King has come with two or three 
Nay, with a whole bright flock of paroquets, 
Crimson, silver, and violet." 

It was something like a game I had played long ago 
in the age of fable and I lingered, touched with home 
sickness. 

The three children in the middle took a fourth com 
rade from the circle, crying, " Will you go to the moon 
or will you go to the stars?" 

"The moon," lisped the little maid, and she was 
led over to the fountain. 

"The stars," said the first prisoner, and was con 
ducted to the stone bridge. 

Soon a small company was clustered on the bridge, 
another band at the fountain. Then, as there were 
no more to dance in a circle, the lad and lassie who had 
stood in the middle to choose candidates for the moon 
and stars clasped hands and danced gayly across the 
square to the group of expectant children at the foun 
tain, crying: 

213 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

" Baradozl Baradoz!' 
(Paradise I Paradise 1) 

and the whole band charged on the little group on the 
bridge, shouting and laughing, while the unfortunate 
tenants of the supposed infernal regions fled in every 
direction, screaming: 

" Pater noster 
Dibi doub! 
Dibi doub ! 
Dibi doub!" 

Their shouts and laughter still came faintly from the 
tree-shaded square as I crossed the bridge and walked 
out into the moorland toward the sea, where I could 
see the sun gilding the headland and the spouting- 
rocks of Point Paradise. 

Over the turning tide cormorants were flying, now 
wheeling like hawks, now beating seaward in a duck- 
like flight. I passed little, lonely pools on the moor, 
from which snipe rose with a startling squak! squak! 
and darted away inland as though tempest blown. 

Presently a blue-gray mass in mid-ocean caught 
my eye. It was the island of Groix, and between it 
and Point Paradise lay an ugly, naked, black shape, 
motionless, oozing smoke from two stubby funnels 
the cruiser Fer-de-Lance I So solidly inert lay the iron 
clad that it did not seem as if she had ever moved or 
ever could move; she looked like an imbedded ledge 
cropping up out of the sea. 

Far across the hilly moorland the white semaphore 
glistened like a gull's wing too far for me to see the 
balls and cones hoisted or the bright signals glimmer 
ing along the halyards as I followed a trodden path 
winding south through the gorse. Then a dip in the 
moorland hid the semaphore and at the same moment 

214 



FRIENDS 

brought a house into full view a large, solid structure 
of dark stone, heavily Romanesque, walled in by an 
ancient buttressed barrier, above which I could see the 
tree-tops of a fruit-garden. 

The Chateau de Trecourt was a fine example of the 
so called "fortified farm"; it had its moat, too, and 
crumbling wing-walls, pierced by loop-holes and over 
hung with miniature battlements. A walled and loop- 
holed passageway connected the house with another 
stone enclosure in which stood stable, granary, cattle- 
house, and sheepfold, all of stone, though the roofs 
of these buildings were either turfed or thatched. And 
over them the weather-vane, a golden Dorado, swam 
in the sunshine. 

One thing I noticed as I crossed the unused moat on 
a permanent bridge: the youthful Countess no longer 
denied herself the services of servants, for I saw a 
cloaked shepherd and his two wolf-like and tailless 
sheep-dogs watching the flock scattered over the 
downs; and there were at least half a dozen farm ser 
vants pottering about from stable to granary, and a 
toothless porter to answer the gate-bell and pilot me 
past, the tiny loop-holed lodge -turret to the house. 
There was also a man, lying belly down in the bracken, 
watching me; and as I walked into the court I tried to 
remember where I had seen his face before. 

The entire front of the house was covered with those 
splendid orange-tinted tea-roses that I had noticed in 
Paradise; thicket on thicket of clove - scented pinks 
choked the flower-beds; and a broad mat of deep- 
tinted pansies lay on the lawn, spread out for all the 
world like a glorious Eastern rug. 

There was a soft whirring in the air like the sound of a 
humming-bird close by; it came from a spinning-wheel, 
and grew louder as a servant admitted me into the house 
and guided me to a sunny room facing the fruit garden. 

215 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

The spinner at the wheel was singing in an under 
tone singing a Breton "gwerz," centuries old, re 
tained in memory from generation to generation : 

" Woe to the Maids of Paradise, 

Yvonne ! 
Twice have the Saxons landed; twice! 

Yvonne I 
Yet must Paradise see them thrice I 

Yvonne ! Yvonne ! Marivonik." 

Old as were the words, the melody was older so 
old and quaint and sweet that it seemed a berceuse 
fashioned to soothe the drowsing centuries, lest the 
memories of ancient wrongs awake and rouse the very 
dead from their Gothic tombs. 

All the sad history of the Breton race was written in 
every minor note; all the mystery, the gentleness, the 
faith of the lost people of Armorica. 

And now the singer was intoning the " Gwerz Ar 
Baradoz " the "Complaint of Paradise" a slow, 
thrilling mise're'r^, scarcely dominating the velvet whir 
of the spinning-wheel. 

Suddenly the melody ceased, and a young Bretonne 
girl appeared in the doorway, courtesying to me and 
saying in perfect English : " How do you do, Mr. 
Scarlett; and how do you like my spinning songs, if 
you please?" 

The girl was Mademoiselle Sylvia Elven, the mar 
vellously clever actress from the OdSon, the same young 
woman who had played the Alsacienne at La Trappe, 
as perfectly in voice and costume as she now played 
the Bretonne. 

"You need not be astonished at all," she said, calm 
ly, "if you will only reflect that my name is Elven, 
which is also the name of a Breton town. Naturalh", 
I am a Bretonne from Elven, and my own name is 

216 



FRIENDS 

Duhamel Sylvenne Duhamel. I thought I ought to 
tell you, so that you would not think me too clever 
and try to carry me off on your horse again." 

I laughed uncertainly ; clever women who talk clev 
erly always disturb me. Besides, somehow, I felt she 
was not speaking the truth, yet I could not imagine 
why she should lie to me. 

"You were more fluent to the helpless turkey-girl," 
she suggested, maliciously. 

I had absolutely nothing to say, which appeared to 
gratify her, for she dimpled and smiled under her 
snowy-winged coiffe, from which a thick gold strand 
of hair curled on her forehead a sad bit of coquetry 
in a Bretonne from Elven, if she told the truth. 

"I only came to renew an old and deeply valued 
friendship," she said, with mock sentimentality; "I 
am going back to my flax now." 

However, she did not move. 

" And, by-the-way," she said, languidly, " is there 
in your intellectual circus company a young gentleman 
whose name is Eyre?" 

"Kelly Eyre? Yes," I said, sulkily. 

"Ah." 

She strolled out of the room, hesitated, then turned 
in the doorway with a charming smile. 

"The Countess will return from her gallop at five." 

She waited as though expecting an answer, but I 
only bowed. 

" Would you take a message to Mistaire Kelly Eyre 
for me?" she asked, sweetly. 

I said that I would. 

" Then please say that : ' On Sunday the book-stores 
are dosed in Paris.' ' 

"Is that what I am to say?" 

"Exactly that." 

"Very well, mademoiselle." 
217 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

"Of course, if he asks who told you you may say 
that it was a Bretorme at Point Paradise." 

"Nothing else?" 

"Nothing, monsieur." 

She courtesied and vanished. 

"Little minx," I thought, "what mischief are you 
preparing now?" and I rested my elbow on the window- 
sill and gazed out into the garden, where apricot-trees 
and fig-trees lined the winding walks between beds of 
old-fashioned herbs, anise, basil, caraway, mint, sage, 
and saffron. 

Sunlight lay warm on wall and gravel-path; scarlet 
apples hung aloft on a few young trees ; a pair of trim, 
wary magpies explored the fig-trees, sometimes quarrel 
ling, sometimes making common cause against the 
shy wild-birds that twittered everywhere among the 
vines. 

I fancied, after a few moments, that I heard the 
distant thudding of a horse's hoofs ; soon I was sure of 
it, and rose to my feet expectantly, just as a flushed 
young girl in a riding-habit entered the room and gave 
me her gloved hand. 

Her fresh, breezy beauty astonished me; could this 
laughing, gray-eyed girl with her silky, copper-tinted 
hair be the same slender, grave young Countess whom 
I had known in Alsace' this incarnation of all that is 
wholesome and sweet and winning in woman? What 
had become of her mission and the soiled brethren of 
the proletariat? What had happened? 

I looked at her earnestly, scarcely understanding 
that she was saying she was glad I had come, that she 
had waited for me, that she had wanted to see me, that 
she had wished to tell me how deeply our tragic ex 
perience at La Trappe and in Morsbronn had impressed 
her. She said she had sent a letter to me in Paris 
which was returned, opened, with a strange note from 

218 



FRIENDS 

Monsieur Mornac. She had waited for some word 
from me, here in Paradise, since September; "waited 
impatiently," she added, and a slight frown bent her 
straight brows for a moment a moment only. 

" But come out to my garden," she said, smiling, and 
stripping off her little buff gauntlets. " There we will 
have tea a TAnglaise, and sunshine, and a long, long, 
satisfying talk; at least I will," she added, laughing 
and coloring up; "for truly, Monsieur Scarlett, I do 
not believe I have given you one second to open your 
lips." 

Heaven knows I was perfectly content to watch her 
lips and listen to the music of her happy, breathless 
voice without breaking the spell with my own. 

She led the way along a path under the apricots to 
a seat against a sunny wall, a wall built of massive 
granite, deeply thatched with fungus and lichens, 
where, palpitating in the hot sun, the tiny lizards 
lay glittering, and the scarlet-banded nettle-butterflies 
flitted and hovered and settled to sun themselves, wings 
a-droop. 

Here in the sunshine the tea-rose perfume, mingling 
with the incense of the sea, mounted to my head like 
the first flush of wine to a man long fasting ; or was it 
the enchantment of her youth and loveliness the 
subtle influence of physical vigor and spiritual in 
nocence on a tired, unstrung man? 

"First of all," she said, impulsively, "I know your 
life all of it in minute particular. Are you as 
tonished?" 

"No, madame," I replied; "Mornac showed you my 
dossier." 

" That is true," she said, with a troubled look of 
surprise. 

I smiled. " As for Mornac/' I began, but she inter 
rupted me. 

219 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

" Ah, Mornac ! Do you suppose I believed him ? Had 
I not proof on proof of your loyalty, your honor, your 
courtesy, your chivalry " 

"Madame, your generosity and, I fear, your pity 
overpraises." 

" No, it does not ! I know what you are. Mornac 
cannot make white black! I know what you have 
been. Mornac could not read you into infamy, even 
with your dossier under my own eyes!" 

"In my dossier you read a sorry history, madame." 

"In your dossier I read the tragedy of a gentle 
man." 

" Do you know," said I, " that I am now a performer 
in a third-rate travelling circus?" 

" I think that is very sad," she said, sw r eetly. 

"Sad? Oh no. It is better than the disciplinary 
battalions, of Africa." 

Which was simply acknowledging that I had served 
a term in prison. 

The color faded in her face. " I thought you were 
pardoned." 

" I was from prison, not from the battalion of 
Biribi." 

"I only know," she said, "that they say you were 
not guilty; that they say you faced utter ruin, even 
the possibility of death, for the sake of another man 
whose name even the police even Monsieur de Mornac 
could never learn. Was there such a man?" 

I hesitated. " Madame, there is such a man ; / am 
the man who KXLS." 

"With no hope?" 

"Hope? With every hope," I said, smiling. "My 
name is not my own, but it must serve me to my end, 
and I shall wear it threadbare and leave it to no 
one." 

"Is there no hope?" she asked, quietly. 

220 



FRIENDS 

"None for the man who was. Much for James 
Scarlett, tamer of lions and general mountebank/' I 
said, laughing down the rising tide of bitterness. Why 
had she stirred those dark waters? I had drowned 
myself in them long since. Under them lay the corpse 
of a man I had forgotten my dead self. 

"No hope?" she repeated. 

Suddenly the ghost of all I had lost rose before me 
with her words rose at last after all these years, tower 
ing, terrible, free once more to fill the days with loath 
ing and my nights with hell eternal, . . . after all these 
years ! 

Overwhelmed, I fought down the spectre in silence. 
Kith and kin were not all in the world ; love of woman 
was not all ; a chance for a home, a wife, children, were 
not all ; a name was not all. Raising my head, a trifle 
faint with the struggle and the cost of the struggle, 
I saw the distress in her eyes and strove to smile. 

"There is every hope/' I said, "save the hopes of 
youth the hope of a woman's love, and of that hap 
piness which comes through love. I am a man past 
thirty, madame thirty-five, I believe my dossier makes 
it. It has taken me fifteen years to bury my youth. 
Let us talk of Mornac." 

"Yes, we will talk of Mornac," she said, gently. 

So with infinite pains I went back and traced for 
her the career of Buckhurst, sparing her nothing; I 
led up to my own appearance on the scene, reviewed 
briefly what we both knew, then disclosed to her in its 
most trivial detail the conference between Buckhurst 
and myself in which his cynical avowal was revealed 
in all its native hideousness. 

She sat motionless, her face like cold marble, as I 
carefully gathered the threads of the plot and gently 
twitched that one which galvanized the mask of Mornac. 

"Mornac!" she stammered, aghast. 

221 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

I showed her why Buckhurst desired to come to 
Paradise; I showed her why Mornac had initiated her 
into the mysteries of my dossier, taking that infernal 
precaution, although he had every reason to believe 
he had me practically in prison, with the keys in his 
own pocket. 

"Had it not been for my comrade, Speed," I said, 
"I should be in one of Mornac 's fortress cells. He 
overshot the mark when he left us together and stepped 
into his cabinet to spread my dossier before you. He 
counted on an innocent man going through hell itself 
to prove his innocence; he counted on me, and left 
Speed out of his calculations. He had your testi 
mony, he had my dossier, he had the order for my 
arrest in his pocket. . . . And then I stepped, out of 
sight! I, the honest fool, with my knowledge of his 
infamy, of Buckhurst's complicity and purposes I 
was gone. 

"And now mark the irony of the whole thing: he 
had, criminally, destroyed the only bureau that could 
ever have caught me. But he did his best during the 
few weeks that were left him before the battle of Sedan. 
After that it was too late ; it was too late when the first 
Uhlan appeared before the gates of Paris. And now 
Mornac, shorn of authority, is shut up in a city 
surrounded by a wall of German steel, through which 
not one single living creature has penetrated for two 
months." 

I looked at her steadily. "Eliminate Mornac as a 
trapped rat; cancel him as a dead rat since the ship 
of Empire went down at Sedan. I do not know what 
has taken place in Paris save what all now know 
that the Empire is ended, the Republic proclaimed, and 
the Imperial police a memory. Then let us strike out 
Mornac and turn to Buckhurst. Madame, I am here 
to serve you." 

222 



FRIENDS 

The dazed horror in her face which had marked my 
revelations of Buckhurst's villanies gave place to a 
mantling flush of pure anger. Shame crimsoned her 
neck, too ; shame for her credulous innocence, her belief 
in this rogue who had betrayed her, only to receive 
pardon for the purpose of baser and more murderous 
betrayal. 

I said nothing for a long time, content to leave her 
to her own thoughts. The bitter draught she was 
draining could not harm her, could not but act as the 
most wholesome of tonics. 

Hers was not a weak character to sink, embittered, 
under the weight of knowledge knowledge of evil, 
that all must learn to carry lightly through life ; I had 
once thought her weak, but I had revised that opinion 
and substituted the words " pure in thought, inherently 
loyal, essentially unsuspicious." 

"Tell me about Buckhurst/' I said, quietly. "I 
can help you, I think." 

The quick tears of humiliation glimmered for a 
second in her angry eyes; then pride fell from her, 
like a stately mantle which a princess puts aside, tired 
and content to rest. 

This was a phase I had never before seen a lovely, 
natural young girl, perplexed, troubled, deeply wounded, 
ready to be guided, ready for reproof, perhaps even for 
that sympathy without which reproof is almost valueless. 

She told me that Buckhurst came to her house here 
in Paradise early in September; that while in Paris, 
pondering on what I had said, she had determined to 
withdraw herself absolutely from all organized social 
istic associations during the war; that she believed 
she could do the greatest good by living a natural and 
cheerful life, by maintaining the position that birth 
and fortune had given her, and by using that position 
and fortune for the benefit of those less fortunate. 

223 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

This she had told Buckhurst, and the rascal appeared 
to agree with her so thoroughly that, when Dr. Delmont 
and Professor Ta vernier arrived, they also applauded 
the choice she made of Buckhurst as distributer of 
money, food, and clothing to the provincial hospitals, 
now crowded to suffocation with the wreck of battle. 

Then a strange thing occurred. Dr. Delmont and 
Professor Tavernier disappeared without any explana 
tion. They had started for St. Nazaire with a sum of 
money twenty thousand francs, locked in the private 
strong-box of the Countess to be distributed among 
the soldiers of Chanzy; and they had never re 
turned. 

In the light of what she had learned from me, she 
feared that Buckhurst had won them over; perhaps 
not she could not bear to suspect evil of such 
men. 

But she now believed that Buckhurst had used every 
penny he had handled for his own purposes ; that not 
one hospital had received what she had sent. 

"I am no longer wealthy," she said, anxiously, 
looking up at me. " I did find time in Paris to have 
matters straightened; I sold La Trappe and paid 
everything. It left me with this house in Paradise, 
and with means to maintain it and still have a few 
thousand francs to give every year. Now it is nearly 
gone I don't know where. I am dreadfully unhappy ; 
I have such a horror of treachery that I cannot even 
understand it, but this ignoble man, Buckhurst, is 
assuredly a heartless rascal." 

" But," I said, patiently, " you have not yet told me 
where he is." 

"I don't know," she said. "A week ago a dreadful 
creature came here to see Buckhurst ; they went across 
the moor toward the semaphore and stood for a long 
while looking at the cruiser which is anchored off Groix. 

224 



FRIENDS 

Then Buckhurst came back and prepared for a jour 
ney. He said he was going to Tours to confer with 
the Red Cross. I don't know where he went. He took 
all the money for the general Red Cross fund." 
"When did he say he would return?" 
"He said in two weeks. He has another week 
yet." 

"Is he usually prompt?" 

"Always so to the minute." 

"That is good news," I said, gayly. "But tell me 
one thing: do you trust Mademoiselle Elven?" 

"Yes, indeed! indeed!" she cried, horrified. 

"Very well," said I, smiling. "Only for the sake 
of caution extra, and even perhaps useless caution 
say nothing of this matter to her, nor to any living soul 
save me." 

"I promise," she said, faintly. 

" One thing more : this conspiracy against the state 
no longer concerns me officially. Both Speed and 
I did all we could to warn the Emperor and the Em 
press ; we sent letters through the police in London, we 
used the English secret-service to get our letters into 
the Emperor's hand, we tried every known method of 
denouncing Mornac. It was useless ; every letter must 
have gone through Mornac 's hands before it reached 
the throne. We did all we dared do ; we were in disguise 
and in hiding under assumed names ; we could not do 
more. 

" Now that Mornac is not even a pawn in the game 
as, indeed, I begin to believe he never really was, but 
has been from the first a dupe of Buckhurst it is the 
duty of every honest man to watch Buckhurst and warn 
the authorities that he possibly has designs on the 
crown jewels of France, which that cruiser yonder is 
all ready to bear away to Saigon. 

" How he proposes to attempt such a robbery I can't 
15 225 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

imagine. I don't want to denounce him to General 
Chanzy or Aurelles de Palladine, because the con 
spiracy is too widely spread and too dangerous to be 
defeated by the capture of one man, even though he 
be the head of it. 

" What I want is to entrap the entire band ; and that 
can only be done by watching Buckhurst, not arresting 
him. 

" Therefore, madame, I have written and despatched 
a telegram to General Aurelles de Palladine, offering 
my services and the services of Mr. Speed to the Re 
public without compensation. In the event of accept 
ance, I shall send to London for two men who will do 
what is to be done, leaving me free to amuse the pub 
lic with my lions. Meanwhile, as long as we stay in 
Paradise we both are your devoted servants, and we 
beg the privilege of serving you." 

During all this time the young Countess had never 
moved her eyes from my face perhaps I was flattered 
perhaps for that reason I talked on and on, pouring 
out wisdom from a somewhat attenuated supply. 

And I now rose to take my leave, bowing my very 
best bow; but she sat still, looking up quietly at 
me. 

"You ask the privilege of serving me," she said. 
"You could serve me best by giving me your friend 
ship." 

"You have my devotion, madame," I said. 

"I did not ask it. I asked your friendship in all 
frankness and equality." 

" Do you desire the friendship of a circus performer?" 
I asked, smiling. 

" I desire it, not only for what you are, but for what you 
have been have always been, let them say what they 
will!" 

I was silent. 

226 



FRIENDS 

"Have you never given women your friendship?" 
she asked. 

"Not in fifteen years nor asked theirs." 

"Will you not ask mine?" 

I tried to speak steadily, but my voice was uncertain; 
I sat down, crushed under a flood of memories, hopes 
accursed, ambitions damned and consigned to ob 
livion. 

" You are very kind," I said. " You are the Countess 
de Vassart. A man is what he makes himself. I have 
made myself with both eyes open; and I am now an 
acrobat and a tamer of beasts. I understand your 
goodness, your impulse to help those less fortunate 
than yourself. I also understand that I have placed 
myself where I am, and that, having done so delib 
erately, I cannot meet as friends and equals those 
who might have been my equals if not friends. Be 
sides that, I am a native of a paradox a Republic 
which, though caste -bound, knows no caste abroad. 
I might, therefore, have been your friend if you had 
chosen to waive the traditions of your continent and 
accept the traditions of mine. But now, madame, I 
must beg permission to make my adieux. " 

She sprang up and caught both my hands in her un 
gloved hands. "Won't you take my friendship and 
give me yours my friend?" 

"Yes," I said, slowly. The blood beat in my tem 
ples, almost blinding me; my heart hammered in my 
throat till I shivered. 

As in a dream I bent forward; she abandoned her 
hands to me; and I touched a woman's hands with my 
lips for the first time in fifteen years. 

"In all devotion and loyalty and gratitude," I 
said. 

"And in friendship say it!" 

"In friendship." , '- 

227 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

" Now you may go if you desire to. When will you 
come again?" 
"When may I?" 
"When you wiU." 



XIV 

THE PATH OF THE LIZARD 

ABOUT nine o'clock the next morning an incident 
occurred which might have terminated my career 
in one way, and did, ultimately, end it in another. 

I had been exercising my lions and putting them 
through their paces, and had noticed no unusual in 
subordination among them, when suddenly, Timour 
Melek, a big Algerian lion, flew at me without the 
slightest provocation or warning. 

Fortunately I had a training-chair in my hand, on 
which Timour had just been sitting, and I had time 
to thrust it into his face. Thrice with incredible swift 
ness he struck the iron-chair, right, left, and right, as 
a cat strikes, then seized it in his teeth. At the same 
moment I brought my loaded whip heavily across his 
nose. 

"Down, Timour Melek! Down! down! down!" I 
said, steadily, accompanying each word with a blow 
of the whip across the nose. 

The brute had only hurt himself when he struck the 
chair, and now, under the blows raining on his sensitive 
nose, he doubtless remembered similar episodes in his 
early training, and shrank back, nearly deafening me 
with his roars. I followed, punishing him, and he 
fled towards the low iron grating which separated the 
training-cage from the night-quarters. 

This I am now inclined to believe was a mistake of 
229 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

judgment on my part. I should have driven him into 
a corner and thoroughly cowed him, using the training- 
chair if necessary, and trusting to my two assistants 
with their irons, who had already closed up on either 
side of the cage. 

I was not in perfect trim that morning. Not that I 
felt nervous in the least, nor had I any lack of self-con 
fidence, but I was not myself. I had never in my life 
entered a lion-cage feeling as I did that morning 
an indifference which almost amounted to laziness, 
an apathy which came close to melancholy. 

The lions knew I was not myself they had been 
aware of it as soon as I set foot in their cage; and I 
knew it. But my strange apathy only increased as I 
went about my business, perfectly aware all the time 
that, with lions born in captivity, the unexpected is 
always to be expected. 

Timour Melek was now close to the low iron door be 
tween the partitions; the other lions had become un 
usually excited, bounding at a heavy gallop around 
the cage, or clinging to the bars like enormous cats. 

Then, as I faced Timour, ready to force him back 
ward through the door into the night-quarters, some 
thing in the blank glare of his eyes seemed to fascinate 
me. I had an absurd sensation that he was slipping 
away from me escaping ; that I no longer dominated 
him nor had authority. It was not panic, nor even 
fear ; it was a faint paralysis temporary, fortunately ; 
for at that instant instinct saved me ; I struck the lion 
a terrific blow across the nose and whirled around, 
chair uplifted, just in time to receive the charge of 
Empress Khatoun, consort of Timour. 

She struck the iron-bound chair, doubling it up 
like crumpled paper, hurling me headlong, not to the 
floor of the cage, but straight through the sliding-bars 
which Speed had just flung open with a shout. As 

230 



THE PATH OF THE LIZARD 

for me, I landed violently on my back in the sawdust, 
the breath knocked clean out of me. 

When I could catch my breath again I realized that 
there was no time to waste. Speed looked at me an 
grily, but I jerked open the grating, flung another 
chair into the cage, leaped in, and, singling out Empress 
Khatoun, I sailed into her with passionless thorough 
ness, punishing her to a stand-still, while the other 
lions, Aicha, Marghouz, Timour, and Genghis Khan 
snarled and watched me steadily. 

As I emerged from the cage Speed asked me whether 
I was hurt, and I gasped out that I was not. 

"What went wrong?" he persisted. 

" Timour and that young lioness no, I went wrong ; 
the lions knew it at once ; something failed me, I don't 
know what ; upon my soul, Speed, I don't know what 
happened." 

"You lost your nerve?" 

"No, not that. Timour began looking at me in a 
peculiar way he certainly dominated me for an in 
stant for a tenth of a second; and then Khatoun 
flew at me before I could control Timour " 

I hesitated. 

" Speed, it was one of those seconds that come to us, 
when the faintest shadow of indecision settles matters. 
Engineers are subject to it at the throttle, pilots at the 
helm, captains in battle " 

"Men in love," added Speed. 

I looked at him, not comprehending. 

"By -the -way," said Speed, "Leo Grammont, the 
greatest lion-tamer who ever lived, once told me that 
a man in love with a woman could not control lions; 
that when a man falls in love he loses that intangible, 
mysterious quality call it mesmerism or whatever 
you like the occult force that dominates beasts. And 
he said that the lions knew it, that they perceived it 

231 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

sometimes even before the man himself was aware that 
he was in love." 

I looked him over in astonishment. 

"What's the matter with you?" he asked, amused. 

"What's the matter with you?" I demanded. "If 
you mean to intimate that I have fallen in love you are 
certainly an astonishing ass!" 

"Don't talk that way," he said, good-humoredly. 
" I didn't dream of such a thing, or of offending you, 
Scarlett." 

It struck me at the same moment that my irritable 
and unwarranted retort was utterly unlike me. 

"I beg your pardon," I said. " I don't know exactly 
what is the matter with me to - day. First I quarrel 
with poor old Timour Melek, then I insult you. I've 
discovered that I have nerves; I never before knew 
it." 

"Cold flap-jacks and cider would have destroyed 
Hercules himself in time," observed Speed, following 
with his eyes the movements of a lithe young girl, 
who was busy with the hoisting apparatus of the fly 
ing trapeze. The girl was Jacqueline, dressed in a 
mended gown of Miss Delany's. 

" At times," muttered Speed, partly to himself, " that 
little witch frightens me. There is no risk she 
dares not take ; even Horan gets nervous ; and when 
that bull -necked numbskull is scared there's reason 
for it." 

We walked out into the main tent, where simulta 
neous rehearsals were everywhere in progress; and I 
picked up the ring-master's whip and sent it curling 
after "Briza," a harmless, fat, white mare on which 
pretty Mrs. Grigg was sitting expectantly. Round and 
round the ring she cantered, now astride two horses, 
now guiding a "spike," practising assiduously her 
acrobatics. At intervals, far up in the rigging over- 

232 



THE PATH OF THE LIZARD 

head, I caught glimpses of Miss Crystal swinging on 
her trapeze, watching the ring below. 

Byram came in to rehearse the opening proces 
sional and to rebuke his dearest foe, the unspeakable 
"camuel," bestridden by Mrs. Horan as Fatima, Queen 
of the Desert. Speed followed, squatted on the head of 
the elephant, ankus on thigh, shouting, " Hout! Mail! 
Djebe" Noain! Mail the hezarl Mail!" he thundered, 
triumphantly, saluting Byram with lifted ankus as the 
elephant ambled past in a cloud of dust. 

"Clear the ring!" cried Byram. 

Miss Delany, who was outlining Jacqueline with 
juggler's knives, began to pull her stock of cutlery 
from the soft pine backing ; elephant, camel, horses 
trampled out; Miss Crystal caught a dangling rope 
and slid earthward, and I turned and walked towards 
the outer door with Byram. 

As I looked back for an instant I saw Jacqueline, in 
her glittering diving-skin, calmly step out of her dis 
carded skirt and walk towards the sunken tank in the 
middle of the ring, which three workmen were uncover 
ing. 

She was to rehearse her perilous leap for the first 
time to-day, and I told Speed frankly that I was too 
nervous to be present, and so left him staring across 
the dusky tent at the slim child in spangles. 

I had an appointment to meet Robert the Lizard at 
noon, and I was rather curious to find out how much 
his promises were worth when the novelty of his new 
gun had grown stale. So I started towards the cliffs, 
nibbling a crust of bread for luncheon, though the in 
cident of the morning had left me small appetite for 
food. 

The poacher was sunning himself on his door-sill 
when T came into view over the black basalt rocks. 
To my surprise, he touched his cap as I approached, 

233 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

and rose civilly, replying to my greeting with a brief, 
"Salute, m'sieu!" 

"You are prompt to the minute," I said, pleasantly. 

" You also/' he observed. " We are quits, m'sieu 
so far." 

I told him of the progress that Jacqueline was mak 
ing; he listened in silence, and whether or not he was 
interested I could not determine. 

There was a pause; I looked out across the sun-lit 
ocean, taking time to arrange the order of the few 
questions which I had to ask. 

"Come to the point, m'sieu," he said, dryly. "We 
have struck palms." 

Spite of my training, spite of the caution which ex 
perience brings to the most unsuspicious, of us, I had 
a curious confidence in this tattered rascal's loyalty 
to a promise. And apparently without reason, too, 
for there was something wrong with his eyes or else 
with the way he used them. They were wonderful, 
vivid blue eyes, well set and well shaped, but he never 
looked at anybody directly except in moments of excite 
ment or fury. At such moments his eyes appeared to 
be lighted up from behind. 

"Lizard/' I said, "you are a poacher." 

His placid visage turned stormy. 

"None of that, m'sieu," he retorted; "remember the 
bargain! Concern yourself with your own affairs!" 

"Wait," I said. "I'm not trying to reform you. 
For my purposes it is a poacher I want else I might 
have gone to another." 

" That sounds more reasonable/' he admitted, guard 
edly. 

" I want to ask this," I continued : " are you a poach 
er from necessity, or from that pure love of the chase 
which is born in even worse men than you and I?" 

"I poach because I love it. There are no poachers 
234 



THE PATH OF THE LIZARD 

from necessity ; there is always the sea, which furnishes 
work for all who care to steer a sloop, or draw a seine, 
or wield a sea-rake. I am a pilot. " 

"But the war?" 

" At least the war could not keep me from the sardine 
grounds/' 

"So you poach from choice?" 

" Yes. It is in me. I am sorry, but what shall I do? 
It's in me." 

"And you can't resist?" 

He laughed grimly. "Go and call in the hounds 
from the stag's throat!" 

Presently I said : 

"You have been in jail?" 

"Yes," he replied, indifferently. 

"For poaching?" 

"Eur e'harvik rous," he said in Breton, and I could 
not make out whether he meant that he had been in 
jail for the sake of a woman or of a "little red doe." 
The Breton language bristles with double meanings, 
symbols, and allegories. The word for doe in Breton 
is karvez ; or for a doe which never had a fawn, it is 
heiez; for a fawn the word is karvik. 

I mentioned these facts to him, but he only looked 
dangerous and remained silent. 

" Lizard," I said, " give me your confidence as I give 
you mine. I will tell you now that I was once in the 
police " 

He started. 

" And that I expect to enter that corps again. And 
I want your aid." 

"My aid? For the police?" His laugh was simply 
horrible. "I? The Lizard? Continue, m'sieu." 

" I will tell you why. Yesterday, on a visit to Point 
Paradise, I saw a man lying belly down in the bracken ; 
but I didn't let him know I saw him. I have served 

235 



THE MAIDS OP PARADISE 

in the police ; I think I recognize that man. He is 
known in Belleville as Tric-Trac. He came here, I 
believe, to see a man called Buckhurst. Can you 
find this Tric-Trac for me? Do you, perhaps, know 
him?" 

"Yes," said the Lizard, "I knew him in prison." 

"You have seen him here?" 

"Yes, but I will not betray him." 

"Why?" 

" Because he is a poor, hunted devil of a poacher like 
me 1" cried the Lizard, angrily. " He must live ; there's 
enough land in Finistere for us both." 

"How long has he been here in Paradise?" 

"For two months." 

"And he told you he lived by poaching?" 

"Yes." 

"He lies." 

The Lizard looked at me intently. 

" He has played you ; he is a thief, and he has come 
here to rob. He is a filou a town rat. Can he bend 
a hedge-snare? Can he line a string of dead-falls? 
Can he even snare enough game to keep himself from 
starving? He a woodsman? He a poacher of the 
bracken? You are simple, my friend." 

The veins in the poacher's neck began to swell and 
a dull color flooded his face. 

"Prove that he has played me," he said. 

"Prove it yourself." 

"How?" 

"By watching him. He came here to meet a man 
named Buckhurst." 

"I have seen that man Buckhurst, too. What is 
he doing here?" asked the Lizard. 

" That is what I want you to find out and help me to 
find out!" I said. "Voila! Now you know what I 
want of you." 

236 



THE PATH OF THE LIZARD 

The sombre visage of the poacher twitched. 

"I take it," said I, "that you would not make a 
comrade of a petty pickpocket." 

The poacher uttered an oath and shook his fist at 
me. "Bon sang!" he snarled, "I am an honest man 
if I am a poacher!" 

"That's the reason I trusted you," said I, good- 
humoredly. "Take your fists down, my friend, and 
think out a plan which will permit me to observe this 
Monsieur Tric-Trac at my leisure, without I myself 
being observed." 

"That is easy," he said. "I take him food to 
day." 

"Then I was right," said I, laughing. "He is a 
Belleville rat, who cannot feed himself where there are 
no pockets to pick. Does he know a languste from a 
linnet? Not he, my friend!" 

The Lizard sat still, head bent, knees drawn up, ap 
parently buried in thought. There is no injury one 
can do a Breton of his class like the injury of deceiving 
and mocking. 

If Tric-Trac, a man of the city, had come here to 
profit by the ignorance of a Breton and perhaps 
laugh at his stupidity! 

But I let the ferment work in the dark blood of the 
Lizard, leaving him to his own sombre logic, undis 
turbed. 

Presently the Lizard raised his head and fixed his 
bright, intelligent eyes on me. 

"M'sieu," he said, in a curiously gentle voice, "we 
men of Paradise are called out for the army. I must 
go, or go to jail. How can I remain here and help you 
trap these filous?" 

"I have telegraphed to General Chanzy," I said, 
frankly. "If he accepts or if General Aurelles de 
Palladine is favorable I shall make you exempt under 

237 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

authority from Tours. I mean to keep you in my 
service, anyway/' I added. 

"You mean that that I need not go to Lorient to 
this war?" 

"I hope so, my friend." 

He looked at me, astonished. " If you can do that, 
m'sieu, you can do anything." 

"In the meanwhile," I said, dryly, "I want another 
look at Tric-Trac." 

" I could show you Tric-Trac in an hour but to 
go to him direct would excite his suspicion. Besides, 
there are two gendarmes in Paradise to conduct the 
conscripts to Lorient; there are also several gardes- 
champtre. But I can get you there, in the open 
moorland, too, under everybody's noses! Shall I?" 
he said, with an eager ferocity that startled me. 

" You are not to injure him, no matter what he does 
or says," I said, sharply. "I want to watch him, not 
to frighten him away. I want to see what he and 
Buckhurst are doing. Do you understand?" 

"Yes." 

"Then strike palms!" 

We struck vigorously. 

"Now I am ready to start," I said, pleasantly. 

"And now I am ready to tell you something," he 
said, with the fierce light burning behind his blue 
eyes. "If you were already in the police I would not 
help you no, not even to trap this filou who has mocked 
me! If you again enter the police I will desert you!" 

He licked his dry lips. 

"Do you know what a blood-feud is?" 

"Yes," I said. 

"Then understand that a man in a high place has 
wronged me and that he is of the police the Imperial 
Military police!" 

"Who?" 

238 



THE PATH OF THE LIZARD 

" You will know when I pass my fagot-knife into his 
throat," he snarled "not before." 

The Lizard picked up his fishing-rod, slung a canvas 
bag over his stained velveteen jacket, gathered together 
a few coils of hair-wire, a pot of twig-lime, and other 
odds and ends, which he tucked into his broad-flapped 
coat - pocket. "Allons," he said, briefly, and we 
started. 

The canvas bag on his back bulged, perhaps with 
provisions, although the steel point of a murderous 
salmon-gaff protruded from the mouth of the sack and 
curved over his shoulder. 

The village square in Paradise was nearly deserted. 
The children had raced away to follow the newly arrived 
gendarmes as closely as they dared, and the women 
were in-doors hanging about their men, whom the gov 
ernment summoned to Lorient. 

There were, however, a few people in the square, and 
these the Lizard was very careful to greet. Thus we 
passed the mayor, waddling across the bridge, puffing 
with official importance over the arrival of the gen 
darmes. He bowed to me; the Lizard saluted him 
with, " Times are hard on the fat!" to which the mayor 
replied morosely, and bade him go to the devil. 

"Au revoir, done," retorted the Lizard, unabashed. 
The mayor bawled after him a threat of arrest unless 
he reported next day in the square. 

At that the poacher halted. "Don't you wish you 
might get me!" he said, tauntingly, probably presum 
ing on my conditional promise. 

" Do you refuse to report?" demanded the mayor, also 
halting. 

" Et ta soeur!" replied the poacher; "is she reporting 
at the caserne?" 

The mayor replied angrily, and a typical Breton 
quarrel began, which ended in the mayor biting his 

239 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

thumb-nail at the Lizard and wishing him " St. Hubert's 
luck" an insult tantamount to a curse. 

Now St. Hubert was a mighty hunter, and his luck 
was proverbially marvellous. But as everything goes 
by contrary in Brittany, to wish a Breton hunter good 
luck was the very worst thing you could do him. Bad 
luck was certain to follow if not that very day, cer 
tainly, inexorably, some day. 

With wrath in his eyes the Lizard exhausted his 
profanity, stretching out his arm after the retreating 
mayor, who waddled away, gesticulating, without turn 
ing his head. 

"Come back! Toadl Sourd! V-Snake! Bat of 
the gorse!" shouted the Lizard. "Do you think I'm 
afraid of your spells, fat owl of Faouet? Evil-eyed eel! 
The luck of Ker-Ys to you and yours ! Ho fois ! Do 
you think I am frightened I, Robert the Lizard? 
Your wife is a camel and your daughter a cowl" The 
mayor was unmarried, but it didn't matter. And, 
moreover, as that official was now out of ear-shot, the 
Lizard turned anxiously to me. 

" Don't tell me you are superstitious enough to care 
what the mayor said," I laughed. 

" Dame, m'sieu, we shall have no luck to-day. To 
morrow it doesn't matter but if we go to-day, bad luck 
must come to us." 

"To-day? Nonsense!" 

"If not, then another day." 

"Rubbish! Come on." 

" Do you think we could take precautions?" he asked, 
furtively. 

"Take all you like," I said; "rack your brains for 
an antidote to neutralize the bad luck, only come on, 
you great gaby!" 

I knew many of the Finistere legends; out of the 
corner of my eye I watched this stalwart rascal, cowed 

240 



THE PATH OP THE LIZARD 

by gross superstition, peeping about for some favorable 
sign to counteract the luck of St. Hubert. 

First he looked up at the crows, and counted them 
as they passed overhead cawing ominously one two 
three four five ! Five is danger ! But wait, more 
were coming : one two three four five six 
seven ! A loss! Well, that was not as bad as some 
things. But harkl More crows coming: one two 
three! Death! 

" Jesu!" he faltered, ducking his head instinctively. 
'Til look elsewhere for signs." 

The signs were all wrong that morning ; first we met 
an ancient crone with a great pack of fagots on her 
bent back, and I was sure he could have strangled her 
cheerfully, because there are few worse omens for a 
hunter of game or of men. Then he examined the 
first mushroom he found, but under the pink-and-pearl 
cap we saw no insects crawling. The veil, too, was 
rent, showing the poisonous, fluted gills ; and the toad 
stool blackened when he cut it with the blade of his 
fagot-knife. 

He tried once more, however, and searched through 
the gorse until he found a heavy lizard, green as an 
emerald. He teased it till it snapped at the silver franc 
in my hand ; its teeth should have vanished, but when 
he held out his finger the creature bit into it till the 
blood spurted. 

Still I refused to turn back. What should he do? 
Then into his mind crept a Pouldu superstition. It 
was a charm against evil, including lightning, black- 
rot, rheumatism, and " douleurs " of other varieties. 

The charm was simple. We needed only to build 
a little fire of gorse, and walk through the smoke once 
or twice. So we built the fire and walked through the 
smoke, the Lizard coughing and cursing until I feared 
he might overdo it by smothering us both. Then 
16 241 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

stamping out the last spark for he was a woods 
man always we tramped on in better humor with 
destiny. 

" You think that turned the curse backward, m'sieu?" 
he asked. 

"There is not the faintest doubt of that," I said. 

Far away towards Sainte-Ysole we saw the blue woods 
which were our goal. However, we had no intention 
of going there as the bee flies, partly because Tric-Trac 
might see us, partly because the Lizard wished any 
prowling passer-by to observe that he was occupied 
with his illegitimate profession. For my part, I very 
much preferred a brush with a garde-champe'tre or a 
summons to explain why no shots were found in the 
Lizard's pheasants, rather than have anybody ask 
us why we were walking so fast towards Sainte-Ysole 
woods. 

Therefore we promptly selected a hedge for opera 
tions, choosing a high, thick one, which separated two 
fields of wheat stubble. 

Kneeling under the hedge, he broke a hole in it just 
large enough for a partridge to worry through. Then 
he bent his twig, fastened the hair-wire into a running 
noose, adjusted it, and stood up. This manoeuvre he 
repeated at various hedges or in thickets where he 
"lined" his trail with peeled twigs on every bush. 

Once he paused to reset a hare-trap with a turnip, 
picked up in a neighboring field ; once he limed a young 
sapling and fixed a bit of a mirror in the branches, but 
not a bird alighted, although the blackthorns were 
full of fluttering wings. And all the while we had been 
twisting and doubling and edging nearer and nearer 
to the Sainte-Ysole woods, until we were already within 
their cool shadow, and I heard the tinkle of a stream 
among leafy depths. 

Now we had no fear ; we were hidden from the eyes 
242 



THE PATH OF THE LIZARD 

of the dry, staring plain, and the Lizard laughed to 
himself as he fastened a grasshopper to his hook and 
flung it into the broad, dark water of the pool at his 
feet. 

Slowly he fished up stream, but, although he seemed 
to be intent on his sport, there was something in the 
bend of his head that suggested he might be listening 
for other sounds than the complex melodies of mossy 
waterfalls. 

His poacher's eyes began to glisten and shimmer 
in the forest dusk like the eyes of wild things that hunt 
at night. As he noiselessly turned, his nostrils spread 
with a tremor, as a good dog's nose quivers at the point. 

Presently he beckoned me, stepped into the moss, 
and crawled without a sound straight through the 
holly thicket. 

"Watch here/' he whispered. "Count a hundred 
when I disappear, then creep on your stomach to the 
edge of that bank. In the bed of the stream, close under 
you, you will see and hear your friend Tric-Trac." 

Before I had counted fifty I heard the Lizard cry out, 
"Bonjour, Tric-Trac!" but I counted on, obeying the 
Lizard's orders as I should wish mine to be obeyed. 
I heard a startled exclamation in reply to the Lizard's 
greeting, then a purely Parisian string of profanity, 
which terminated as I counted one hundred and crept 
forward to the mossy edge of the bank, under the yellow 
beach leaves. 

Below me stood the Lizard, intently watching a figure 
crouched on hands and knees before a small, iron-bound 
box. 

The person addressed as Tric-Trac promptly tried 
to hide the box by sitting down on it. He was a young 
man, with wide ears and unhealthy spots on his face. 
His hair, which was oily and thick, he wore neatly 
plastered into two pointed love-locks. This not only 

243 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

adorned and distinguished him, but it lent a casual 
and detached air to his ears, which stood at right angles 
to the plane of his face. I knew that engaging coun 
tenance. It was the same old Tric-Trac. 

"Zut, alors!" repeated Tric-Trac, venomously, as 
the poacher smiled again ; " can't you give the company 
notice when you come in?" 

"Did you expect me to ring the tocsin?" asked the 
Lizard. 

"Flute!" snarled Tric-Trac. "Like a mud-rat, you 
creep with no sound c'est pas polite, nom d'un 
nom!" 

He began nervously brushing the pine-needles from 
his skin-tight trousers, with dirty hands. 

"What's that box?" asked the Lizard, abruptly. 

"Box? Where?" A vacant expression came into 
Tric-Trac 's face, and he looked all around him except 
at the box upon which he was sitting. 

"Box?" he repeated, with that hopeless effrontery 
which never deserts criminals of his class, even under 
the guillotine. "I don't see any box." 

"You're sitting on it," observed the Lizard. 

"T/taJbox? Oh! You mean that box? Oh!" He 
peeped at it between his meagre legs, then turned a 
nimble eye on the poacher. 

"What's in it?" demanded the poacher, sullenly. 

" Don't know," replied Tric-Trac, with brisk interest. 
"I found it." 

"Found it!" repeated the Lizard, scornfully. 

"Certainly, my friend; how do you suppose I came 
by it?" 

"You stole it!" 

They faced each other for a moment. 

"Supposition that you are correct; what of it?" said 
the young ruffian, calmly. 

The Lizard was silent. 

244 



"Did you bring me anything to chew on?" inquired 
Tric-Trac, sniffing at the poacher's sack. 

"Bread, cheese, three pheasants, cider more than 
I eat in a week," said the Lizard, quietly. " It will cost 
forty sous." 

He opened his sack and slowly displayed the pro 
visions. 

I looked hard at the iron-bound box. 

On one end was painted the Geneva cross. Dr. Del- 
mont and Professor Tavernier had disappeared carry 
ing red-cross funds. Was that their box? 

"I said it costs forty sous two silver francs," re 
peated the Lizard, doggedly. 

"Forty sous? That's robbery!" sniffed the young 
ruffian, now using that half -whining, half - sneering 
form of discourse peculiar alike to the vicious chevalier 
of Paris and his confrere of the provincial centres. 
Accent and slang alone distinguish between them ; the 
argot, however, is practically the same. 

Tric-Trac fished a few coins from his pocket, counted 
carefully, and handed them, one by one, to the poacher. 

The poacher coolly tossed the food on the ground, 
and, as Tric-Trac rose to pick it up, seized the box. 

"Drop that!" said Tric-Trac, quickly. 

"What's in it?" 

"Nothing! Drop it, I tell you." 

"Where's the key?" 

"There's no key it's a. machine." 

"What's in it?" 

"Now I've been trying to find out for two weeks," 
sneered Tric-Trac, "and I don't know yet. Drop it!"* 

"I'm going to open it all the same," said the Lizard, 
coolly, lifting the lid. 

A sudden silence followed; then the Lizard swore 
vigorously. There was another box within the light, 
iron -edged casket, a keyless cube of shining steel, 

245 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

with a knob on the top, and a needle which revolved 
around a dial on which were engraved the hours and 
minutes. And emblazoned above the dial was the coat 
of arms of the Countess de Vassart. 

When Tric-Trac had satisfied himself concerning the 
situation, he returned to devour his food. 

" Flute ! Zut ! Mince ! " he observed ; " you and your 
bad manners, they sicken me tiens!" 

The Lizard, flat on his stomach, lay with the massive 
steel box under his chin, patiently turning the needle 
from figure to figure. 

" Wonderful ! wonderful ! " sneered Tric-Trac. " Con 
tinue, my friend, to put out your eyes with your fingers !" 

The Lizard continued to turn the needle backward 
and forward around the face of the dial. Once, when 
he twirled it impatiently, a tiny chime rang out from 
within the box, but the steel lid did not open. 

"It's the Angelus," said Tric-Trac, with a grimace. 
" Let us pray, my friend, for a cold-chisel when my 
friend Buckhurst returns." 

Still the Lizard lay, unmoved, turning the needle 
round and round. 

Tric-Trac having devoured the cheese, bread, and an 
entire pheasant, made a bundle of the remaining food, 
emptied the cider-jug, wiped his beardless face with his 
cap, and announced that he would be pleased to " broil " 
a cigarette. 

"Do you want the gendarmes to scent tobacco?" 
said the Lizard. 

"Are the 'Flics' out already?" asked Tric-Trac, as 
tonished. 

" They're in Paradise, setting the whole Department 
by the ears. But they can't look sideways at me; I'm 
going to be exempt." 

" It strikes me," observed Tric-Trac, " that you take 
great precautions for your own skin." 

246 



THE PATH OF THE LIZARD 

"I do," said the Lizard. 

"What about me?" 

The poacher looked around at the young ruffian. 
Those muscles in the human face which draw back 
the upper lip are not the muscles used for laughter. 
Animals employ them when they snarl. And now the 
Lizard laughed that way; his upper lip shrank from 
the edge of his yellow teeth, and he regarded Tric- 
Trac with oblique and burning eyes. 

" What about me?" repeated Tric-Trac, in an offended 
tone. "Am I to live in fear of the Flics?" 

The Lizard laughed again, and Tric-Trac, disgusted, 
stood up, settled his cap over his wide ears, humming 
a song as he loosened his trousers-belt: 

" Si vous t'nez a vot' squelette 
Ne fait' pas comme Bibi! 
Claquer plutot dans vot' lit 
Que de claquer a la Roquette 1" 

"Who are you gaping at?" he added, abruptly. 
"Bon; c'est ma geule. Et apres? Drop that box!" 

"Come," replied the Lizard, coldly, placing the 
box on the moss, "you'd better not quarrel with 
me." 

"Oh, that's a threat, is it?" sneered Tric-Trac. He 
walked over to the steel box, lifted it, placed it in the 
iron-edged case, and sat down on the case. 

"I want you to comprehend," he added, "that you 
have pushed your nose into an affair that does not 
concern you. The next time you come here to sell 
your snared pheasants, come like a man, nom de Dieu! 
and not like a cat of the Glaciere! or I'll find a way to 
stop your curiosity." 

The dull-red color surged into the poacher's face and 
heavy neck; for a moment he stood as though stunned. 
Then he dragged out his knife. 

247 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

Tric-Trac sat looking at him insolently, one hand 
thrust into the bosom of his greasy coat. 

"I've got a toy under my cravate that says 'Papa!' 
six times pop! pop! pop! pop! pop! pop! Papa!" he 
continued, calmly ; "so there's no use in your turning 
red and swelling the veins in your neck. Go to the 
devil! Do you think I can't live without you? Go to 
the devil with your traps and partridges and fish-hooks 
and that fagot-knife in your fist and if you try to 
throw it at me you'll make a sad mistake!" 

The Lizard's half-raised hand dropped as Tric-Trac, 
with a movement like lightning, turned a revolver full 
on him, talking all the while in his drawling whine. 

" C'est c.a ! Now you are reasonable. Get out of this 
forest, my friend or stay and join us. Eh! That 
astonishes you? Why? Idiot, we want men like you. 
We want men who have nothing to lose and millions 
to gain! Ah, you are amazed! Yes, millions I say 
it. I, Tric-Trac of the Glaciere, who have done my time 
in Noumea, too! Yes, millions." 

The young ruffian laughed and slowly passed his 
tongue over his thin lips. The Lizard slowly returned 
his knife to its sheath, looked all around, then de 
liberately sat down on the moss cross-legged. I could 
have hugged him. 

"A million? Where?" he asked, vacantly. 

"Parbleu! Naturally you ask where," chuckled 
Tric-Trac. "Tiens! A supposition that it's in this 
box!" 

"The box is too small," said the Lizard, patiently. 

Tric-Trac roared. "Listen to him! Listen to the 
child!" he cried, delighted. "Too small to hold gold 
enough for you ? Very well but is a ship big enough ? ' ' 

"A big ship is." 

Tric-Trac wriggled in convulsions of laughter. 

"Oh, listen! He wants a big ship! Well say a 
248 



THE PATH OF THE LIZARD 

ship as big as that ugly, black iron-clad sticking up 
out of the sea yonder, like a Usine-de-gaz!" 

"I think that ship would be big enough," said the 
poacher, seriously. 

Tric-Trac did not laugh ; his little eyes narrowed, and 
he looked steadily at the poacher. 

"Do you mean what I mean?" he asked, deliberately. 

"Well," said the Lizard, "what do you mean?" 

" I mean that France is busy stitching on a new flag." 

"Black?" 

"Red first." 

"Oh-h!" mused the poacher. "When does France 
hoist that new red flag?" 

"When Paris, falls." 

The poacher rested his chin on his doubled fist and 
leaned forward across his gathered knees. "I see," 
he drawled. 

" Under the commune there can be no more poverty," 
said Tric-Trac; "you comprehend that." 

"Exactly." 

"And no more aristocrats." 

"Exactly." 

"Well," said Tric-Trac, his head on one side, "how 
does that programme strike you?" 

" It is impossible, your programme," said the poacher, 
rising to his feet impatiently. 

" You think so ? Wait a few days ! Wait, my friend, ' ' 
cried Tric-Trac, eagerly; "and say! come back here 
next Monday! There will be a few of us here a few 
friends. And keep your mouth shut tight. Here! 
Wait. Look here, friend, don't let a little pleasantry 
stand between comrades. Your fagot-knife against 
my little flute that sings pa-pa! that leaves matters 
balanced, eh?" 

The young ruflian had followed the Lizard and caught 
him by his stained velvet coat. 

249 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

" Voyons," he persisted, "do you think the commune 
is going to let a comrade starve for lack of Badinguet's 
lozenges? Here, take a few of these!" and the rascal 
thrust out a dirty palm full of twenty-franc gold pieces. 

"What are these for?" muttered the Lizard, sullenly. 

"For your beaux yeux, imbecile!" cried Tric-Trac, 
gayly. " Come back when you want more. My com 
rade, Citizen Buckhurst, will be glad to see you next 
Monday. Adieu, my friend. Don't chatter to the Flics I" 

He picked up his box and the packet of provisions, 
dropped his revolver into the side-pocket of his jacket, 
cocked his greasy cap, blew a kiss to the Lizard, and 
started off straight into the forest. After a dozen steps 
he hesitated, turned, and looked back at the poacher 
for a moment in silence. Then he made a friendly 
grimace. 

"You are not a fool/' he said, "so you won't follow 
me. Come again Monday. It will really be worth 
while, dear friend." Then, as on an impulse, he came 
all the way back, caught the Lizard by the sleeve, 
raised his meagre body on tiptoe, and whispered. 

The Lizard turned perfectly white ; Tric-Trac trotted 
away into the woods, hugging his box and smirking. 

The Lizard and I walked back together. By the 
time we reached Paradise bridge I understood him 
better, and he understood me. And when we arrived 
at the circus tent, and when Speed came up, handing 
me a telegram from Chanzy refusing my services, the 
Lizard turned to me like an obedient hound to take my 
orders now that I was not to re-enter the Military 
Police. 

I ordered him to disobey the orders from Lorient 
and from the mayor of Paradise ; to take to the woods 
as though to avoid the conscription; to join Buck- 
hurst's franc - company of ruffians, and to keep me 
fully informed. 

250 



THE PATH OF THE LIZARD 

"And, Lizard/' I said, "you may be caught and 
hanged for it by the police, or stabbed by Tric-Trac." 

"Bien/' he said, coolly. 

"But it is a brave thing you do; a soldierly thing'/' 

He was silent. 

"It is for France/' I said. 

He shrugged his shoulders. 

"And we'll catch this Tric-Trac red-handed/' I sug 
gested. 

"Ah yes!" His eyes glowed as though lighted up 
from behind. " And another who is high in the police, 
and a friend of this Tric-Trac!" 

" Was it that man's name he whispered to you when 
you turned so white?" I said, suddenly. 

The Lizard turned his glowing eyes on me. 

" Was the man's name Mornac?" I asked, at a hope 
less venture. 

The Lizard shivered; I needed no reply, not even 
his hoarse, "Are you the devil, that you know all 
things?" 

I looked at him wonderingly. What wrong could 
Mornac have done a ragged outcast here on the Bre 
ton coast? .And where was Mornac ? Had he left Paris 
in time to avoid the Prussian trap? Was he here in 
this country, rubbing elbows with Buckhurst? 

" Did Tric-Trac tell you that Mornac was at the head 
of that band?" I demanded. 

"Why do you ask me?" stammered the Lizard; 
" you know everything even when it is scarcely 
whispered!" 

The superstitious astonishment of the man, his utter 
collapse and his evident fear of me, did not suit me. 
Treachery comes through that kind of fear; I meant 
to rule him in another and safer manner. I meant 
to be absolutely honest with him. 

It was difficult to persuade him that I had only guessed 
25,1 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

the name whispered ; that, naturally, I should think of 
Mornac as a high officer of police, and particularly so 
since I knew him to be a villain, and had also divined 
his relations with Buckhurst. 

I drew from the poacher that Tric-Trac had named 
Mornac as head of the communistic plot in Brittany; 
that Mornac was coming to Paradise very soon, and that 
then something gay might be looked for. 

And that night I took Speed into my confidence and 
finally Kelly Eyre, our balloonist. 

And we talked the matter over until long after mid 
night. 



XV 

FOREWARNED 

THE lions had now begun to give me a great deal 
of trouble. Timour Melek, the old villain, sat on 
his chair, snarling and striking at me, but still going 
through his paces; Empress Khatoun was a perfect 
devil of viciousness, and refused to jump her hoops ; 
even poor little Aicha, my pet, fed by me soon after 
her foster-mother, a big Newfoundland, had weaned 
her, turned sullen in the pyramid scene. I roped her 
and trimmed her claws ; it was high time. 

Oh, they knew, and I knew, that matters had gone 
wrong with me ; that I had, for a time, at least, lost the 
intangible something which I once possessed that oc 
cult right to dominate. 

It worried me ; it angered me. Anger in authority, 
which is a weakness, is quickly discovered by beasts. 

Speed's absurd superstition continued to recur to me 
at inopportune moments; in my brain his voice was 
ceaselessly sounding " A man in love, a man in love, 
a man in love " until a flash of temper sent my lions 
scurrying and snarling into a pack, where they huddled 
and growled, staring at me with yellow, mutinous eyes. 

Yet, strangely, the greater the risk, and the plainer 
to me that my lions were slipping out of my control, 
the more my apathy increased, until even Byram began 
to warn me. 

Still I never felt the slightest physical fear; on the 
253 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

contrary, as my irritation increased my disdain grew. 
It seemed a monstrous bit of insolence on the part of 
these overgrown cats to meditate an attack on me. 
Even though I began to feel that it was only a question 
of time when the moment must arrive, even though 
I gradually became certain that the first false move 
on my part would precipitate an attack, the knowledge 
left me almost indifferent. 

That morning, as I left the training-cage where, 
among others, Kelly Eyre stood looking on I suddenly 
remembered Sylvia Elven and her message to Eyre, 
which I had never delivered. 

We strolled towards the stables together; he was a 
pleasant, clean-cut, fresh-faced young fellow, a man I 
had never known very well, but one whom I was in 
clined to respect and trust. 

"My son," said I, politely, "do you think you have 
arrived at an age sufficiently mature to warrant my 
delivering to you a message from a pretty girl?" 

"There's no harm in attempting it, my venerable 
friend," he replied, laughing. 

" This is the message," I said : " On Sunday the 
book-stores are closed in Paris." 

"Who gave you that message, Scarlett?" he stam 
mered. 

I leaked at him curiously, brutally ; a red, hot blush 
had covered his face from neck to hair. 

"In case you asked, I was to inform you," said I, 
" that a Bretonne at Point Paradise sent the message." 

"A Bretonne!" he repeated, as though scared. 

"A Bretonne!" 

"But I don't know any!" 

I shrugged my shoulders discreetly. 

"Are you certain she was a Bretonne?" he asked 
His nervousness surprised me. 

"Does she not say so?" I replied. 
254 



FOREWARNED 

" I know I know but that message there is only 
one woman who could have sent it " He hesitated, 
red as a pippin. 

He was so young, so manly, so unspoiled, and so red, 
that on an impulse I said : " Kelly, it was Mademoiselle 
Elven who sent you the message." 

His face expressed troubled astonishment. 

"Is that her name?" he asked. 

" Well it's one of them, anyway/' I replied, begin 
ning to feel troubled in my turn. "See here, Kelly, 
it's not my business, but you won't mind if I speak 
plainly, will you? The times are queer you under 
stand. Everybody is suspicious; everybody is under 
suspicion in these days. And I want to say that the 
young lady who sent that curious message to you is 
as clever as twenty men like you and me." 

He was silent. 

" If it is a love affair, I'll stop now not a question, 
you understand. If it is not well, as an older and 
more battered and world- worn man, I'm going to make 
a suggestion to you with your permission." 

"Make it," he said, quietly. 

"Then I will. Don't talk to Mademoiselle Elven. 
You, Speed, and I know something about a certain 
conspiracy ; we are going to know more before we inform 
the captain of that cruiser out there beyond Point 
Paradise. I know Mademoiselle Elven slightly. I 
am afraid of her and I have not yet decided why. 
Don't talk to her." 

"But I don't know her," he said; "or, at least I 
don't know her by that name." 

After a moment I said: "Is the person in question 
the companion of the Countess de Vassart?" 

"If she is I do not know it," he replied. 

"Was she once an actress?" 

"It would astonish me to believe it!" he said. 
255 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

"Then who do you believe sent you that message, 
Kelly?" 

His cheeks began to burn again, and he gave me an 
uncomfortable look. A silence, and he sat down in 
my dressing-room, his boyish head buried in his hands. 
After a glance at him I began changing my training- 
suit for riding - clothes, whistling the while softly to 
myself. As I buttoned a fresh collar he looked up. 

"Mr. Scarlett, you are well-born and you are here 
in the circus with the rest of us. You know what we 
are you know that two or three of us have seen better 
days, . . . that something has gone wrong with us to 
bring us here, . . . but we never speak of it, ... and 
never ask questions. . . . But I should like to tell 
you about myself; . . . you are a gentleman, you 
know, . . . and I was not born to anything in par 
ticular. ... I was a clerk in the consul's office in Paris 
when Monsieur Tissaridier took a fancy to me, and I 
entered his balloon ateliers to learn to assist him." 

He hesitated. I tied my necktie very carefully before 
a bit of broken mirror. 

" Then the government began to make much of us, 
. . . you remember? We started experiments for the 
army. ... I was intensely interested, and . . . there 
was not much talk about secrecy then, . . . and my 
salary was large, and I was received at the Tuileries. 
My head was turned ; . . . life was easy, brilliant. I 
made an invention a little electric screw which steered 
a balloon . . . sometimes ..." He laughed, a mirth 
less laugh, and looked at me. All the color had gone 
from his face. 

" There was a woman " I turned partly towards him. 

"We met first at the British Embassy, . . . then 
elsewhere, . . . everywhere. . . . We skated together 
at the club in the Bois at that celebrated fe'te, . . . you 
know? the Emperor was there " 

256 



FOREWARNED 

"I know," I said. 

He looked at me dreamily, passed his hand over his 
face, and went on : 

" Somehow we always talked about military balloons. 
And that evening . . . she was so interested in my 
work ... I brought some little sketches I had made " 

"I understand," I said. 

He looked at me miserably. "She was to return 
the sketches to me at Caiman's the fashionable book 
store, . . . next day. ... I never thought that the 
next day was to be Sunday. . . . The book -stores 
of Paris are not open on Sunday but the War Office 
is." 

I began to put on my coat. 

"And the sketches were asked for?" I suggested 
"and you naturally told what had become of them?" 

"I refused to name her." 

"Of course; men of our sort can't do that." 

"I am not of your sort you know it." 

"Oh yes, you are, my friend and the same kind of 
fool, too. There's only one kind of man in this world." 

He looked at me listlessly. 

"So they sent you to a fortress?" I asked. 

" To New Caledonia, . . . four years. ... I was only 
twenty, Scarlett, . . . and ruined. ... I joined Byram 
in Antwerp and risked the tour through France." 

After a moment's thought I said: "In your opin 
ion, what nation profited by your sketches? Italy? 
Spain? Prussia? Bavaria? England? . . . Perhaps 
Russia?" 

" Do you mean that this woman was a foreign spy?" 

" Perhaps. Perhaps she was only careless, or capri 
cious, ... or inconstant. . . . You never saw her 
again?" 

" I was under arrest on Sunday. I do not know. . . . 
I like to believe that she went to the book-store on 
17 257 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

Monday, . . . that she made an innocent mistake, . . . 
but I never knew, Scarlett, ... I never knew." 

"Suppose you ask her?" I said. 

He reddened furiously. 

" I cannot. ... If she did me a wrong, I cannot re 
proach her; if she was innocent look at me, Scarlett! 
a ragged, ruined mountebank in a travelling circus, 
. . . and she is " 

"An honest woman that a man might care for?" 

"That is ... my belief." 

"If she is/' I said, "go and ask her about those 
drawings." 

"But if she is not, ... I cannot tell you /"he flashed 
out. 

"Let us shake hands, Kelly," I said, . . . "and be 
very good friends. Will you?" 

He gave me his hand rather shyly. 

"We will never speak of her again," I said, . . . 
" unless you desire it. You have had a terrible lesson 
in caution ; I need say no more. Only remember that 
I have trusted you with a secret concerning Buck- 
hurst's conspiracy." 

His firm hand tightened on mine, then he walked 
away, steadily, head high. And I went out to saddle 
my horse for a canter across the moor to Point Paradise. 

It was a gray day, with a hint of winter in the air, 
and a wind that set the gorse rustling like tissue-paper. 
Up aloft the sun glimmered, a white spot in a silvery 
smother; pale lights lay on moorland and water; the 
sea tumbled over the bar, boiling like a flood of liquid 
lead from which the spindrift curled and blew into a 
haze that buried the island of Groix and turned the 
anchored iron-clad to a phantom. 

A day for a gallop, if ever there was such a day I a 
day to wash out care from a troubled mind and cleanse 
it in the whipping, reeking, wet east wind a day for a 

258 



fox ! And I rose in my saddle and shouted aloud as a 
red fox shot out of the gorse and galloped away across 
the endless moorland, with the feathers of a mallard 
still sticking to his whiskers. 

Oh, what a gallop, with risk enough, too ; for I did 
not know the coast moors ; and the deep clefts from the 
cliffs cut far inland, so that eye and ear and bridle- 
hand were tense and ready to catch danger ere it in 
gulfed us in some sea-churned crevice hidden by the 
bracken. And how the gray gulls squealed, high 
whirling over us, and the wild ducks in the sedge rose 
with clapping wings, craning their necks, only to swing 
overhead in circles, whimpering, and drop, with pen 
dent legs and wings aslant, back into the bog from 
which we startled them. 

A ride into an endless gray land, sweet with sea- 
scents, rank with the perfume of 'salty green things; 
a ride into a land of gushing winds, wet as spray, strong 
and caressing, too, and full of mischief ; winds that set 
miles of sedge rippling; sudden winds, that turned still 
pools to geysers and set the yellow gorse flowers fly 
ing ; winds that rushed up with a sea-roar like the 
sound in shells, then, sudden, died away, to leave the 
furrowed clover motionless and the tall reeds still as 
death. 

So, by strange ways and eccentric circles, like the 
aerial paths of homing sea-birds, I came at last to 
the spot I had set out for, consciously; yet it sur 
prised me to find I had come there. 

Before I crossed the little bridge I scented the big 
orange - tinted tea-roses and the pinks. Leaves on 
apricots were falling ; the fig-tree was bare of verdure, 
and the wind chased the big, bronzed leaves across the 
beds of herbs, piling them into heaps at the base of the 
granite wall. 

A boy took my horse ; a servant in full Breton costume 
259 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

admitted me; the velvet humming of Sylvia Elven's 
spinning-wheel filled the silence, like the whirring of a 
great, soft moth imprisoned in a room : 

" Woe to the Maids of Paradise, 

Yvonne 1 
Twice have the Saxons landed twice I 

Yvonne 1 
Yet shall Paradise see them thrice ! 

Yvonne I Yvonne ! Marivonik I 

" Fair is their hair and blue their eyes, 

Yvonne 1 
Body o' me I their words are lies, 

Yvonne I 
Maids of Paradise, oh, be wisel 

Yvonne ! Yvonne ! Marivonik I" 

The door swung open noiselessly ; the whir of the 
wheel and the sound of the song filled the room for an 
instant, then was shut out as the Countess de Vassart 
closed the door and came forward to greet me. 

In her pretty, soft gown, with a tint of blue ribbon at 
the neck and shoulders, she seemed scarcely older than 
a school-girl, so radiant, so sweet and fresh she stood 
there, giving me her little hand to touch in friendship. 

" It was so good of you to come," she said ; " I know 
you made it a duty and gave up a glorious gallop to be 
amiable to me. Did you?" 

I tried to say something, but her loveliness confused 
me. 

Somebody brought tea I don't know who; all I 
could see clearly was her gray eyes meeting mine 
the light from the leaded window touching her glori 
ous, ruddy hair. 

As for the tea, I took whatever she offered ; doubtless 
I drank it, but I don't remember. Nor do I remember 
what she said at first, for somehow I began thinking 
about my lions, and the thought obsessed me even while 

260 



FOREWARNED 

striving to listen to her, even in the tingling maze of 
other thoughts which kept me dumb under the ex 
quisite spell of this intimacy with her. 

The delicate odor of ripened herbs stole into the room 
from the garden; far away, through the whispering 
whir of the spinning-wheel, I heard the sea. 

" Do you like Sylvia's song?" she asked, turning her 
head to listen. "It is a very old song a very, very 
old one centuries old. It's all about the English, 
how they came to harry our coasts in those days and 
it has almost a hundred verses!" Something of the 
Bretoruie came into her eyes for a moment, that shad 
ow of sadness, that patient fatalism in which, too, there 
is something of distrust. The next instant her eyes 
cleared and she smiled. 

" The Trcourts suffered much from the English raid 
ers. I am a Tre"court, you know. That song was made 
about us about a young girl, Yvonne de Trcourt, who 
was carried away by the English. She was foolish ; she 
had a lover among the Saxons, . . . and she set a signal 
for him, and they came and sacked the town, and carried 
her away, and that was what she got for her folly." 

She bent her head thoughtfully; the sound of the 
sea grew louder in the room ; a yellow light stole out 
of the west and touched the window-panes, slowly 
deepening to orange; against it the fruit trees stood, 
a leafless tracery of fragile branches. 

"It is the winter awaking, very far away," she 
said, under her breath. 

Something in the hollow monotone of the sea made 
me think again of the low grumble of restless lions. 
The sound was hateful. Why should it steal in here 
why haunt me even in this one spot in all the world 
where a world-tired man had found a moment's peace 
in a woman's eyes. 

"Are you troubled?" she asked, then colored at her 
261 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

own question, as though deeming the impulse to speak 
unwarranted. 

"No, not troubled. Happiness is often edged with 
a shadow. I am content to be here." 

She bent her head and looked at the heavy rose 
lying in solitary splendor on the table. The polished 
wood reflected it in subdued tints of saffron. 

"It is a strange friendship," I said. 

"Ours? . . . yes." 

I said, musing: "To me it is like magic. I scarce 
dare speak, scarce breathe, lest the spell break." 

She was silent. 

" Lest the spell break and this house, this room, 
fade away, leaving me alone, staring at the world once 
more." 

" If there is a spell, you have cast it," she said, laugh 
ing at my sober face. " A wizard ought to be able to 
make his spells endure." 

Then her face grew graver. " You must forget the 
past," she said; "you must forget all that was cruel 
and false and unhappy, . . . will you not?" 

"Yes, madame." 

" I, too," she said, " have much to forget and much 
to hope for ; and you taught me how to forget and how 
to hope." 

"I, madame?" 

" Yes, ... at La Trappe, at Morsbronn, and here. 
Look at me. Have I not changed?" 

"Yes," I said, fascinated. 

"I know I have," she said, as though speaking to 
herself. " Life means more now. Somehow my child 
hood seems to have returned, with all its hope of the 
world and all its confidence in the world, and its cer 
tainty that all will be right. Years have fallen from 
my shoulders like a released burden that was crush 
ing me to my knees. I have awakened from a dream 

262 



FOREWARNED 

that was not life at all, ... a dream in which I, alone, 
staggered through darkness, bearing the world on my 
shoulders the world doubly weighted with the sorrows 
of mankind, ... a dream that lasted years, but . . . you 
awoke me." 

She leaned forward and lifted the rose, touching her 
face with it. 

" It was so simple, after all this secret of the world's 
malady. You read it for me. I know now what is 
written on the eternal tablets to live one's own life 
as it is given, in honor, charity, without malice; to 
seek happiness where it is offered ; to share it when 
possible; to uplift. But, most of all, to be happy and 
accept happiness as a heavenly gift that is to be shared 
with as many as possible. And this I have learned 
since ... I knew you." 

The light in the room had grown dimmer; I leaned 
forward to see her face. 

"Am I not right?" she asked. 

"I think so. ... I am learning from you." 

"But you taught this creed to me!" she cried. 

" No, you are teaching it to me. And the first lesson 
was a gift, . . . your friendship." 

"Freely given, gladly given," she said, quickly. 
"And yours I have in return, . . . and will keep al 
ways always ' ' 

She crushed the rose against her mouth, looking at 
me with inscrutable gray eyes, as I had seen her look 
at me once at La Trappe, once in Morsbronn. 

I picked up my gloves and riding-crop ; as I rose she 
stood up in the dusk, looking straight at me. 

I said something about Sylvia Elven and my com 
pliments to her, something else about the happiness 
I felt at coming to the chateau again, something about 
her own goodness to me Heaven knows what! and 
she gave me her hand and I held it a moment. 

263 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

''Will you come again?" she asked. 

I stammered a promise and made my way blindly to 
the door which a servant threw open, flung myself 
astride my horse, and galloped out into the waste of 
moorland, seeing nothing, hearing nothing save the 
low roar of the sea, like the growl of restless lions. 



XVI 

A RESTLESS MAN 

WHEN I came into camp, late that afternoon, I 
found Byram and Speed groping about among 
a mass of newspapers and letters, the first mail we cir 
cus people had received for nearly two months. 

There were letters for all who were accustomed to 
look for letters from families, relatives, or friends at 
home. I never received letters I had received none 
of that kind in nearly a score of years, yet that curious 
habit of expectancy had not perished in me, and I 
found myself standing with the others while Byram 
distributed the letters, one by one, until the last home- 
stamped envelope had been given out, and all around 
me the happy circus-folk were reading in homesick 
contentment. I know of no lonelier man than he who 
lingers empty-handed among those who pore over the 
home mail. 

But there were newspapers enough and to spare 
French, English, American; and I sat down by my 
lion's cage and attempted to form some opinion of the 
state of affairs in France. And, as far as I could read 
between the lines, this is what I gathered, partly from 
my own knowledge of past events, partly from the 
foreign papers, particularly the English: 

When, on the 3d of September, the humiliating news 
arrived that the Emperor was a prisoner and his army 
annihilated, the government, for the first time in its ex- 

265 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

istence, acted with promptness and decision in a matter 
of importance. Secret orders were sent by couriers to 
the Bank of France, to the Louvre, and to the Invalides ; 
and, that same night, train after train rushed out of 
Paris loaded with the battle-flags from the Invalides, 
the most important pictures and antique sculptures 
from the Louvre, the greater part of the gold and silver 
from the Bank of France, and, last but by no means 
least, the crown and jewels of France. 

This Speed and I already knew. 

These trains were despatched to Brest, and at the 
same time a telegram was directed to the admiral com 
manding the French iron-clad fleet in the Baltic to send 
an armored cruiser to Brest with all haste possible, 
there to await further orders, but to be fully prepared 
in any event to take on board certain goods designated 
in cipher. This we knew in a general way, though 
Speed understood that Lorient was to be the port of 
departure. 

The plan was a good one and apparently simple; 
and there seemed to be no doubt that jewels, battle- 
flags, pictures, and coin were already beyond danger 
from the German armies, now plodding cautiously 
southward toward the capital, which was slowly re 
covering from its revolutionary convulsions and pre 
paring for a siege. 

The plan, then, was simple ; but, for an equally simple 
reason, it miscarried in the following manner. Early 
in August, while the French armies from the Rhine 
to the Meuse were being punished with frightful 
regularity and precision, the French Mediterranean 
squadron had sailed up and down that interesting 
expanse of water, apparently in patriotic imitation of 
the historic 

"King of France and twenty thousand men." 
266 



A RESTLESS MAN 

For, it now appeared, the French admiral was afraid 
that the Spanish navy might aid the German ships in 
harassing the French transports, which at that time 
were frantically engaged in ferrying a sea-sick Algerian 
army across the Mediterranean to the mother country. 

Of course there was no ground for the admiral's sus 
picions. The German war-ships stayed in their own 
harbors, the Spaniards made no offensive alliance with 
Prussia, and at length the French admiral sailed tri 
umphantly away with his battle-ships and cruisers. 

On the yth of August the squadron of four battle 
ships, two armored corvettes, and a despatch - boat 
steamed out of Brest, picking up on its way north 
ward three more iron-clad frigates, and several cruisers 
and despatch-boats; and on the nth of August, 1870, 
the squadron anchored off Heligoland, from whence 
Admiral Fourichon proclaimed the blockade of the 
German coast. 

It must have been an imposing sight! There lay 
the great iron-clads, the Magnanime, the Heroine, the 
Provence, the Valeureuse, the Revanche, the Invincible, 
the Couronnel There lay the cruisers, the Atalante, 
the Renaud, the Cosmao, the Decres ! There, too, lay 
the single-screw despatch - boats Reine-Hortense, Re- 
nard, and Dayot. And upon their armored decks, 
three by three, stalked the French admirals. Yet, 
without cynicism, it may be said that the admirals of 
France fought better, in 1870, on dry land than they did 
on the ocean. 

However, the German ships stayed peacefully inside 
their fortified ports, and the three French admirals 
pranced peacefully up and down outside, until the God 
of battles intervened and trouble naturally ensued. 

On the 6th of September all the seas of Europe were 
set clashing under a cyclone that rose to a howling 
hurricane. The British iron-clad Captain foundered 

267 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

off Finistere; the French fleet in the Baltic was scat 
tered to the four winds. 

In the midst of the tempest a French despatch-boat, 
the Hirondelle, staggered into sight, signalling the 
flag-ship. Then the French admiral for the first time 
learned the heart-breaking news of Sedan, and as the 
tempest - tortured battle -ship drove seaward the sig 
nals went up: "Make for Brest!" The blockade of the 
German coast was at an end. 

On the 4th of September the treasure - laden trains 
had left Paris for Brest. On the 5th the Hirondelle 
steamed out towards the fleet with the news from Sedan 
and the orders for the detachment of a cruiser to receive 
the crown jewels. On the 6th the news and the orders 
were signalled to the flag-ship; but the God of battles 
unchained a tempest which countermanded the order 
and hurled the iron-clads into outer darkness. 

Some of the ships crept into English ports, burning 
their last lumps of coal, some drifted into Dunkerque; 
but the flag-ship disappeared for nine long days, at 
last to reappear off Cherbourg, a stricken thing with a 
stricken crew and an admiral broken-hearted. 

So, for days and days, the treasure-laden trains must 
have stood helpless in the station at Brest, awaiting the 
cruiser that did not come. 

On the ijth of September the French Channel 
squadron, of seven heavy iron-clads, unexpectedly 
steamed into Lorient harbor and dropped anchor amid 
thundering salutes from the forts; and the next day 
one of the treasure-trains came flying into Lorient, 
to the unspeakable relief of the authorities in the be 
leaguered capital. 

Speed and I already knew the secret orders sent. 
The treasures, including the crown diamonds, were to 
be stored in the citadel, and an armored cruiser was 
to lie off the arsenal with banked fires, ready to receive 

268 



A RESTLESS MAN 

the treasures at the first signal and steam to the French 
fortified port of Saigon in Cochin China, by a course 
already determined. 

Why on earth those orders had been changed so that 
the cruiser was to lie off Groix I could not imagine, 
unless some plot had been discovered in Lorient which 
had made it advisable to shift the location of the treas 
ures for the third time. 

Pondering there at the tent door, amid my heap of 
musty newspapers, I looked out into the late, gray 
afternoon and saw the maids of Paradise passing and 
repassing across the bridge with a clicking of wooden 
shoes and white head-dresses glimmering in the dusk 
of the trees. 

The town had filled within a day or two ; the Paradise 
coiffe was not the only coiffe to be seen in the square; 
there was the delicate-winged head-dress of Faouet, the 
beautiful coiffes of Rosporden, Sainte-Anne d'Auray, 
and Pont Aven ; there, too, flashed the scarlet skirts of 
Bannalec and the gorgeous embroidered bodices of the 
interior; there were the men of Quimperle" in velvet, 
the men of Penmarch, the men of Faouet with their 
dark, Spanish-like faces and their sombreros, and their 
short yellow jackets and leggings. All in holiday cos 
tume, too, for the maids were stiff in silver and lace, 
and the men wore carved sabots and embroidered gilets. 

"Governor," I called out to Byram, "the town is 
filling fast. It's like a Pardon in Morbihan; we'll 
pack the old tent to the nigger 's-hea ven !" 

"It's a fact," he said, pushing his glasses up over 
his forehead and fanning his face with his silk hat. 
"We're going to open to a lot of money, Mr. Scarlett, 
and . . . I ain't goin' to forgit them that stood by me, 
neither." 

He placed a heavy hand on my shoulder, and, stoop 
ing, peered into my face. 

269 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

"Air you sick, m' friend?" he asked. 

"I, governor? Why, no." 

"Ain't been bit by that there paltry camuel nor 
nothin', hev ye?" 

"No; do I look ill?" 

" Peaked kind o' peaked. White, with dark succles 
under your eyes. Air you nervous?" 

"About the lions? Oh no. Don't worry about me, 
governor." 

He sighed, adjusted his spectacles, and blew his 
nose. 

" Mr. Speed he's worriting, too ; he says that Em 
press Khatoun means to hev ye one o' these days." 

"You tell Mr. Speed to worry over his own affairs 
that child, Jacqueline, for instance. I suppose she 
made her jump without trouble to-day? I was too 
nervous to stay and watch her." 

"M' friend," said Byram, in solemn ecstasy, "I 
take off my hat to that there kid!" And he did so 
with a nourish. "You orter seen her; she hung on 
that flying trap, jest as easy an' sassy! We was all 
half crazy. Speed he grew blue around the gills : 
Miss Crystal, a-swingin' there in the riggin' by her 
knees, kept a swallerin' an' lickin' her lips, she was 
that scared. 

"'Ready?' she calls out in a sort o' quaver. 

"'Ready!' sez little Jacqueline, cool as ice, swingin' 
by her knees. 'Go!' sez Miss Crystal, an' the kid let 
go, an' Miss Crystal grabbed her by the ankles. 
'Ready?' calls up Speed, beside the tank. 

"'Ready!' sez the kid, smilin'. 'Drop!' cries Speed. 
An' Jacqueline shot down like a blazing star whir! 
swish! splash! All over! An' that there nervy kid 
a floatin' an' a sportin' like a minnie-fish at t'other 
end o' the tank! Oh, gosh, but it was grand! It was 
jest" 

270 



A RESTLESS MAN 

Speech failed; he walked away, waving his arms, 
his rusty silk hat on the back of his head. 

A few moments later drums began to roll from the 
square. Speed, passing, called out to me that the con 
scripts were leaving for Lorient; so I walked down to 
the bridge, where the crowd had gathered and where 
a tall gendarme stood, his blue - and - white uniform 
distinct in the early evening light. The mayor was 
there, too, dressed in his best, waddling excitedly about, 
and buttonholing at intervals a young lieutenant of 
infantry, who appeared to be extremely bored. 

There were the conscripts of the Garde Mobile, an 
anxious peasant rabble, awkward, resigned, docile 
as cattle. Here stood a farmer, reeking of his barn 
yard ; here two woodsmen from the forest, belted and 
lean; but the majority were men of the sea, heavy- 
limbed, sun-scorched fellows, with little, keen eyes al 
ways half closed, and big, helpless fists hanging. Some 
carried their packets slung from hip to shoulder, some 
tied their parcels to the muzzles of their obsolete mus 
kets. A number wore the boatman's smock, others 
the farmer's blouse of linen, but the greater number 
were clad in the blue-wool jersey and cloth be"ret of the 
sailor. 

Husbands, sons, lovers, looked silently at the women. 
The men uttered no protest, no reproach ; the women 
wept very quietly. In their hearts that strange mys 
ticism of the race predominated the hopeless accept 
ance of a destiny which has, for centuries, left its im 
print in the sad eyes of the Breton. Generations of 
martyrdom leave a cowed and spiritually fatigued race 
which breeds stoics. 

Like great white blossoms, the spotless head-dresses 
of the maids of Paradise swayed and bowed above 
the crowd. 

A little old woman stood beside a sailor, saying 
271 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

to anybody who would listen to her: "My son 
they are taking my son. Why should they take my 
son?" 

Another said: "They are taking mine, too, but 
he cannot fight on land. He knows the sea; he is 
not afraid at sea. Can nobody help us? He cannot 
fight onjand; he does not know how!" 

A woman carrying a sleeping baby stood beside 
the drummers at the fountain. Five children dragged 
at her skirts and peered up at the mayor, who shrugged 
his shoulders and shook his fat head. 

"What can I do? He must march with the others, 
your man," said the mayor, again and again. But 
the woman with the baby never ceased her eternal 
question: "What can we live on if you take him? 
I do not mean to complain too much, but we have noth 
ing. What can we live on, m'sieu the mayor?" 

But now the drummers had stepped out into the 
centre of the square and were drawing their drum 
sticks from the brass sockets in their baldricks. 

"Good-bye! Good-bye!" sobbed the maids of Para 
dise, giving both hands to their lovers. "We will 
pray for you!" 

"Pray for us," said the men, holding their sweet 
hearts' hands. 

"Attention!" cried the officer, a slim, hectic lieu 
tenant from Lorient. 

The mayor handed him the rolls, and the lieutenant, 
facing the shuffling single rank, began to call off: 

"Roux of Bannalec?" 

"Here, monsieur " 

"Don't say, 'Here, monsieur!' Say, 'Present!' 
Now, Roux?" 

"Present, monsieur " 

"Idiot! Kedrec?" 

"Present!" 

272 



A RESTLESS MAN 

"That's right! Penmarch?" 

"Present!" 

"Rhuis of Sainte-Yssel?" 

"Present!" 

"Herv of Paradise Beacon?" 

" Present!" 

"Laenec?" 

"Present!" 

"Duhamel?" 

"Present!" 

The officer moistened his lips, turned the page, and 
continued : 

"Carnac of Alincourt?" 

There was a silence, then a voice cried, "Crippled!" 

"Mark him off, lieutenant," said the mayor, pom 
pously; "he's our little hunchback." 

" Shall I mark you in his place?" asked the lieutenant, 
with a smile that turned the mayor's blood to water. 
"No? You would make a fine figure for a forlorn 
hope." 

A man burst out laughing, but he was half crazed 
with grief, and his acrid mirth found no response. 
Then the roll-call was resumed: 

"Gestel?" 

"Present!" 

"Garenne!" 

There was another silence. 

"Robert Garenne!" repeated the officer, sharply. 
" Monsieur the mayor has informed me that you are 
liable for military duty. If you are present, answer 
to your name or take the consequences!" 

The poacher, who had been lounging on the bridge, 
slouched slowly forward and touched his cap. 

"I am organizing a franc corps," he said, with a 
deadly sidelong glance at the mayor, who now stood 

beside the lieutenant. 

is 273 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

"You can explain that at Lorient," replied the lieu 
tenant. "Fall in there!" 

"But I" 

"Fall in!" repeated the lieutenant. 

The poacher's visage became inflamed. He hesitat 
ed, looking around for an axenue of escape. Then 
he caught my disgusted eye. 

" For the last time," said the lieutenant, coolly draw 
ing his revolver, "I order you to fall in!" 

The poacher backed into the straggling rank, glaring. 

"Now," said the lieutenant, "you may go to your 
house and get your packet. If we have left when you 
return, follow and report at the arsenal in Lorient. 
Fall out! March!" 

The poacher backed out to the rear of the rank, 
turned on his heel, and strode away towards the coast, 
clinched fists swinging by his side. 

There were not many names on the roll, and the call 
was quickly finished. And now the infantry drum 
mers raised their sticks high in the air, there was a 
sharp click, a crash, and the square echoed. 

"March!" cried the officer; and, drummers ahead, 
the long single rank shuffled into fours, and the column 
started, enveloped in a throng of women and children. 

"Good-bye!" sobbed the women. "We will pray!" 

"Good-bye! Pray!" 

The crowd pressed on into the dusk. Far up the 
darkening road the white coiffes of the women glim 
mered; the drum-roll softened to a distant humming. 

The children, who did not understand, had gathered 
around a hunchback, the exempt cripple of the roll- 
call. 

"Ho! Fois!" I heard him say to the crowd of won 
dering little ones, " if I were not exempt I'd teach these 
Prussians to dance the farandole to my biniou! 
Oui, dame! And perhaps I'll do it yet, spite of the 

274 



A RESTLESS MAN 

crooked back I was not born with as everybody knows! 
Oui, dame! Everybody knows I was born as straight 
as the next man!" 

The children gaped, listening to the distant drum 
ming, now almost inaudible. 

The cripple rose, lighted a lantern, and walked slowly 
out toward the cliffs, carrying himself with that un 
canny dignity peculiar to hunchbacks. And as he 
walked he sang, in his thin, sharp voice, the air of 
"The Three Captains": 

" J'ai eu dans son coeur la plac' la plus belle, 

La plac' la plus belle. 
J'ai passe trois ans, trois ans avec elle. 

Trois ans avec elle. 
J'ai eu trois enfants qui sont capitaines, 

Qui sont capitaines. 
L'un est a Bordeaux, 1'autre a la Rochelle, 

L'autre a la Rochelle. 
Le troisieme ici, caressent les belles, 

Caressent les belles.' 

Far out across the shadowy cliffs I heard his lingering, 
strident chant, and caught the spark of his lantern ; 
then silence and darkness fell over the deserted square ; 
the awed children, fingers interlocked, crept home 
ward through the dusk; there was no sound save the 
rippling wash of the river along the quay of stone. 

Tired, a trifle sad, thinking perhaps of those home 
letters which had come to all save me, I leaned against 
the river wall, staring at the darkness; and over me 
came creeping that apathy which I had already learned 
to recognize and even welcome as a mental anaesthetic 
which set that dark sentinel, care, a-drowsing. 

What did I care, after all? Life had stopped for me 
years before; there was left only a shell in which that 
unseen little trickster, the heart, kept tap-tapping 
away against a tired body. Was that what we call 
life? The sorry parody! 

275 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

A shape slunk near me through the dusk, furtive, 
uncertain. " Lizard," I said, indifferently. He came 
up, my gun on his ragged shoulder. 

"You go with your class?" I asked. 

"No, I go to the forest/' he said, hoarsely. "You 
shall hear from me." 

I nodded. 

"Are you content?" he demanded, lingering. 

The creature wanted sympathy, though he did not 
know it. I gave him my hand and told him he was a 
brave man; and he went away, noiselessly, leaving 
me musing by the river wall. 

After a long while or it may only have been a few 
minutes the square began to fill again with the first 
groups of women, children, and old men who had 
escorted the departing conscripts a little way on their 
march to Lorient. Back they came, the maids of 
Paradise silent, tearful, pitifully acquiescent; the 
women of Bannalec, Faouet, Rosporden, Quimperle 
chattering excitedly about the scene they had wit 
nessed. The square began to fill; lanterns were 
lighted around the fountain; the two big lamps with 
their brass reflectors in front of the mayor's house 
illuminated the pavement and the thin tree-foliage 
with a yellow radiance. 

The chatter grew louder as new groups in all sorts 
of gay head-dresses arrived; laughter began to be 
heard; presently the squealing of the biniou pipes 
broke out from the bowling-green, where, high on a 
bench supported by a plank laid across two cider bar 
rels, the hunchback sat, skirling the farandole. Ah, 
what a world entire was this lost little hamlet of Para 
dise, where merrymakers trod on the mourners' heels, 
where the scream of the biniou drowned the floating 
note of the passing bell, where Misery drew the cur 
tains of her bed and lay sleepless, listening to Gayety 

276 



A RESTLESS MAN 

dancing breathless to the patter of a coquette's wooden 
shoes! 

Long tables were improvised in the square, piled 
up with bread, sardines, puddings, hams, and cakes. 
Casks of cider, propped on skids, dotted the outskirts 
of the bowling-green, where the mayor, enthroned in 
his own arm-chair, majestically gave his orders in a 
voice thickened by pork, onions, and gravy. 

Truly enough, half of Finistere and Morbihan was 
gathering at Paradise for a fte. The slow Breton 
imagination had been fired by our circus bills and 
posters; ancient Armorica was stirring in her slum 
ber, roused to consciousness by the Yankee bill 
poster. 

At the inn all rooms were taken; every house had 
become an inn; barns, stables, granaries had their 
guests ; fishermen's huts on coast and cliff were bright 
with coiffes and embroidered jerseys. 

In their misfortune, the lonely women of Paradise 
recognized in this influx a godsend a few francs to 
gain with which to face those coming wintry months 
while their men were absent. And they opened their 
tiny houses to those who asked a lodging. 

The crowds which had earlier in the evening gath 
ered to gape at our big tent were now noisiest in the 
square, where the endless drone of the pipes intoned 
the farandole. 

A few of our circus folk had come down to enjoy the 
picturesque spectacle. Speed, standing with Jacque 
line beside me, began to laugh and beat time to the wild 
music. A pretty maid of Bannalec, white coiffe and 
scarlet skirts a-flutter, called out with the broad free 
dom of the chastest of nations : " There is the lover I 
could pray for if he can dance the farandole 1" 

" I'll show you whether I can dance the farandole, 
ma belle ! " cried Speed, and caught her hand, but she 

277 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

snatched her brown fingers away and danced off, laugh 
ing: "He who loves must follow, follow, follow the 
farandole!" 

Speed started to follow, but Jacqueline laid a timid 
hand on his arm. 

"I dance, M'sieu Speed," she said, her face flush 
ing under her elf-locks. 

"You blessed child/' he cried, "you shall dance till 
you drop to your knees on the bowling-green! " And, 
hand clasping hand, they swung out into the faran 
dole. For an instant only I caught a glimpse of Jacque 
line's blissful face, and her eyes like blue stars burning ; 
then they darkened into silhouettes against the yellow 
glare of the lanterns and vanished. 

By ram rambled up for a moment, to comment on 
the quaint scene from a showman's point of view. " It 
would fill the tent in old Noo York, but it's n. g. in this 
here country, where everybody's either a coryphee or a 
clown or a pantaloon ! Camuels ain't no rara avises 
in the Sairy, an' no niggers go to burnt-cork shows. 
Phylosophy is the thing, Mr. Scarlett! Ruminate! 
Ruminate! " 

I promised to do so, and the old man rambled away, 
coat and vest on his arm, silk hat cocked over his left 
eye, the lamplight shining on the buckles of his sus 
penders. Dear old governor! dear, vulgar incarna 
tion of those fast vanishing pioneers who invented civil 
ization, finding none; who, self-taught, unashamed 
taught their children the only truths they knew, that 
the nation was worthy of all good, all devotion, and all 
knowledge that her sons could bring her to her glory 
that she might one day fulfil her destiny as greatest 
among the great on earth. 

The whining Breton bagpipe droned in my ears ; the 
dancers flew past; laughter and cries arose from the 
tables in the square where the curate of St. Julien stood, 

278 



A RESTLESS MAN 

forefinger wagging, soundly rating an intoxicated but 
apologetic Breton in the costume of Faouet. 

I was tired tired of it all; weary of costumes and 
strange customs, weary of strange tongues, of tinsel 
and mummers, and tarnished finery; sick of the saw 
dust and the rank stench of beasts and the vagabond 
life and the hopeless end of it all the shabby end of 
a useless life a death at last amid strangers! Sol 
diers in red breeches, peasants in embroidered jackets, 
strolling mountebanks all tinselled and rouged they 
were all one to me. ... I wanted my own land. ... I 
wanted my own people. ... I wanted to go home . . . 
home! and die, when my time came, under the skies 
I knew as a child, . . . under that familiar moon which 
once silvered my nursery windows. . . . 

I turned away across the bridge out into the dark 
road. Long before I came to the smoky, silent camp I 
heard the monotonous roaring of my lions, pacing 
their shadowy dens. 



xvn 

THE CIRCUS 

A LITTLE after sunrise on the day set for our first 
J~\ performance, Speed sauntered into my dressing- 
room in excellent humor, saying that not only had the 
village of Paradise already filled up with the peasantry 
of Finistere and Morbihan, but every outlying hamlet 
from St. Julien to Pont Aven was overflowing; that 
many had even camped last night along the roadside ; 
in short, that the country was unmistakably aroused to 
the importance of the Anti-Prussian Republican circus 
and the Flying Mermaid of Ker-Ys. 

I listened to him almost indifferently, saying that I 
was very glad for the governor's sake, and continued 
to wash a deep scratch on my left arm, using saltwater 
to allay the irritation left by Ai'cha's closely pared claws 
the vixen. 

But the scratch had not poisoned me; I was in fine 
physical condition ; rehearsals had kept us all in trim ; 
our animals, too, were in good shape; and the machin 
ery started without a creak when, an hour later, Byram 
himself opened the box-office at the tent-door and began 
to sell tickets to an immense crowd for the first perform 
ance, which was set for two o'clock that afternoon. 

I had had an unpleasant hour's work with the 
lions, during which Marghouz, a beast hitherto lazy 
and docile, had attempted to creep behind me. Again 
I had betrayed irritation; again the lions saw it, un- 

280 



THE CIRCUS 

derstood it, and remembered. Ai'cha tore my sleeve ; 
when I dragged Timour Melek's huge jaws apart he 
endured the operation patiently, but as soon as I 
gave the signal to retire he sprang snarling to the floor, 
mane on end, and held his ground, just long enough to 
defy me. Poor devils ! Who but I knew that they were 
right and I was' wrong ! Who but I understood what 
lack of freedom meant to the strong meant to caged 
creatures, unrighteously deprived of liberty! Though 
born in captivity, wild things change nothing ; they 
sleep by day, walk by night, follow as well as they can 
the instincts which a caged life cannot crush in them, 
nor a miserable, artificial existence obliterate. 

They are right to resist. 

I mentioned something of this to Speed as I was put 
ting on my coat to go out, but he only scowled at me, 
saying: "Your usefulness as a lion -tamer is ended, 
my friend ; you are a fool to enter that cage again, and 
I'm going to tell Byram." 

"Don't spoil the governor's pleasure now," I said, 
irritably ; " the old man is out there selling tickets with 
both hands, while little Griggs counts receipts in a 
stage whisper. Let him alone, Speed; I'm going to 
give it up soon, anyway not now not while the gov 
ernor has a chance to make a little money ; but soon 
very soon. You are right; I can't control anything 
now not even myself. I must give up my lions, after 
all." 

"When?" said Speed. 

"Soon I don't know. I'm tired really tired. I 
want to go home." 

"Home! Have you one?" he asked, with a faint 
sneer of surprise. 

" Yes ; a rather extensive lodging, bounded east and 
west by two oceans, north by the lakes, south by the 
gulf. Landlord's a relation my Uncle Sam." 

281 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

"Are you really going home, Scarlett?" he asked, 
curiously. 

"I have nothing to keep me here, have I?" 

"Not unless you choose to settle down and . . . 
marry." 

I looked at him ; presently my face began to redden ; 
and, " What do you mean?" I asked, angrily. 

He replied, in a very mild voice, that he did not mean 
anything that might irritate me. 

I said, "Speed, don't mind my temper; I can't seem 
to help it any more ; something has changed me, some 
thing has gone wrong." 

"Perhaps something has gone right," he mused, 
looking up at the flying trapeze, where Jacqueline 
swung dangling above the tank, watching us with 
sea-blue eyes. 

After a moment's thought I said : " Speed, what the 
devil do you mean by that remark?" 

" Now you're angry again," he said, wearily. 

"No, I'm not. Tell me what you mean." 

"Oh, what do you imagine I mean?" he retorted. 
" Do you think I'm blind ? Do you suppose I've watched 
you all these years and don't know you? Am I an 
ass, Scarlett? Be fair; am I?" 

"No; not an ass," I said. 

"Then let me alone unless you want plain speak 
ing instead of a bray." 

"I do want it." 

"Which?" 

"You know; go on." 

"Am I to tell you the truth?" 

"As you interpret it yes." 

" Very well, my friend ; then, at your respectful re 
quest, I beg to inform you that you are in love with 
Madame de Vassart and have been for months." 

I did not pretend surprise ; I knew he was going to 
282 



THE CIRCUS 

say it. Yet it enraged me that he should think it and 
say it. 

"You are wrong/' I said, steadily. 

"No, Scarlett; I am right." 

" You are wrong," I repeated. 

"Don't say that again," he retorted. "If you do 
not know it, you ought to. Don't be unfair; don't be 
cowardly. Face it, man! By Heaven, you've got to 
face it some time here, yonder, abroad, on the ocean, 
at home no matter where, you've got to face it some 
day and tell yourself the truth ! " 

His words hurt me for a moment ; then, as I listened, 
that strange apathy once more began to creep over me. 
Was it really the truth he had told me? Was it? Well 
and then? What meaning had it to me? ... Of 
what help was it? . . .of what portent? ... of what 
use? . . . What door did it unlock? Surely not the 
door I had closed upon myself so many years ago ! 

Something of my thoughts he may have divined as I 
stood brooding in the sunny tent, staring listlessly at 
my own shadow on the floor, for he laid his hand on 
my shoulder and said: "Surely, Scarlett, if happiness 
can be reborn in Paradise, it can be reborn here. I 
know you; I have known you for many years. And 
in all that time you have never fallen below my ideal!" 

"What are you saying, Speed?" I asked, rousing 
from my lethargy to shake his hand from my shoulder. 

"The truth. In all these years of intimacy, famil 
iarity has never bred contempt in me; I am not your 
equal in anything; it does not hurt me to say so. I 
have watched you as a younger brother watches, lov 
ingly, jealous yet proud of you, alert for a failing 
or a weakness which I never found or, if I thought 
I found a flaw in you, knowing that it was but part 
of a character too strong, too generous for me to 
criticise." 

283 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

"Speed," I said, astonished, "are you talking about 
me about me a mountebank and a failure at that? 
You know I'm a failure a nobody " I hesitated, 
touched by his kindness. "Your loyalty to me is all 
I have. I wish it were true that I am such a man as you 
believe me to be." 

"It is true," he said, almost sullenly. "If it were 
not, no man would say it of you though a woman 
might. Listen to me, Scarlett. I tell you that a man 
shipwrecked on the world's outer rocks if he does not 
perish makes the better pilot afterwards." 

"But . . . I perished, Speed." 

" It is not true," he said, violently ; " but you will if 
you don't steer a truer course than you have. Scarlett, 
answer me!" 

"Answer you? What?" 

"Are you in love?" 

"Yes," I said. 

He waited, looked up at me, then dropped his hands 
in his pockets and turned away toward the interior of 
the tent where Jacqueline, having descended from the 
rigging, stood, drawing her slim fingers across the 
surface of the water in the tank. 

I walked out through the tent door, threading my 
way among the curious crowds gathered not only at 
the box-office, but even around the great tent as far as 
I could see. Byram hailed me with jovial abandon, 
perspiring in his shirt-sleeves, silk hat on the back of 
his head; little Grigg made one of his most admired 
grimaces and shook the heavy money-box at me ; Horan 
waved his hat above his head and pointed at the 
throng with a huge thumb. I smiled at them all and 
walked on. 

Cloud and sunshine alternated on that capricious 
November morning ; the sea-wind was warm ; the tinct 
ure of winter had gone. On that day, however, I saw 

284 



THE CIRCUS 

wavering strings of wild ducks flying south ; and the 
little hedge-birds of different kinds were already flock 
ing amiably together in twittering bands that filled 
the leafless blackthorns on the cliffs; true prophets, 
all, of that distant cold, gathering somewhere in the 
violet north. 

I walked fast across the moors, as though I had a 
destination. And I had; yet when I understood it I 
sheered off, only to turn again and stare fascinated 
in the direction of the object that frightened me. 

There it rose against the seaward cliffs, the little 
tower of Trecourt farm, sea-smitten and crusted, wind- 
worn, stained, gray as the lichened rocks scattered 
across the moorland. Over it the white gulls pitched 
and tossed in a windy sky ; beyond crawled the ancient 
and wrinkled sea. 

" It is a strange thing/' I said aloud, "to find love at 
the world's edge/' I looked blindly across the gray 
waste. " But I have found it too late." 

The wind blew furiously ; I heard the gulls squealing 
in the sky, the far thunder of the surf. 

Then, looking seaward again, for the first time I no 
ticed that the black cruiser was gone, that nothing 
now lay between the cliffs and the hazy headland of 
Groix save a sheet of lonely water spreading league on 
league to meet a flat, gray sky. 

Why had the cruiser sailed? As I stood there, brood 
ing, to my numbed ears the moor-winds bore a sound 
coming from a great distance the sound of cannon 
little, soft reports, all but inaudible in the wind and the 
humming undertone of the breakers. Yet I knew the 
sound, and turned my unquiet eyes to the sea, where 
nothing moved save the far crests of waves. 

For a while I stood listening, searching the sea, until 
a voice hailed me, and I turned to find Kelly Eyre al 
most at my elbow. 

285 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

" There is a man in the village haranguing the peo 
ple," he said, abruptly. "We thought you ought to 
know." 

" A man haranguing the people," I repeated. " What 
of it?" 

"Speed thinks the man is Buckhurst." 

"What!" I cried. 

"There's something else, too," he said, soberly, and 
drew a telegram from his pocket. 

I seized it, and studied the fluttering sheet : 

" The governor of Lorient, on complaint of the mayor of Para 
dise, forbids the American exhibition, and orders the individual 
Byram to travel immediately to Lorient with his so-called circus, 
where a British steamship will transport the personnel, baggage, 
and animals to British territory. The mayor of Paradise will see 
that this order of expulsion is promptly executed. 

" (Signed) BRETEUIL. 

"Chief of Police." 

" Where did you get that telegram?" I asked. 

"It's a copy; the mayor came with it. Byram does 
not know about it." 

"Don't let him know it!" I said, quickly; "this thing 
will kill him, I believe. Where is that fool of a mayor? 
Come on, Kelly! Stay close beside me." And I set 
off at a swinging pace, down the hollow, out across 
the left bank of the little river, straight to the bridge, 
which we reached almost on a run. 

"Look there!" cried my companion, as we came in 
sight of the square. 

The square was packed with Breton peasants; near 
the fountain two cider barrels had been placed, a plank 
thrown across them, and on this plank stood a man 
holding a red flag. 

The man was John Buckhurst. 

When I came nearer I could see that he wore a red 
scarf across his breast ; a little nearer and I could hear 

286 



THE CIRCUS 

his passionless voice sounding; nearer still, I could 
distinguish every clear-cut word : 

" Men of the sea, men of that ancient Armorica which, 
for a thousand years, has suffered serfdom, I come to 
you bearing no sword. You need none; you are free 
under this red flag I raise above you." 

He lifted the banner, shaking out the red folds. 

" Yet if I come to you bearing no sword, I come with 
something better, something more powerful, something 
so resistless that, using it as your battle-cry, the world 
is yours! 

"I come bearing the watchword of world-brother 
hood Peace, Love, Equality! I bear it from your 
battle-driven brothers, scourged to the battlements of 
Paris by the demons of a wicked government! I bear 
it from the devastated towns of the provinces, from 
your homeless brothers of Alsace and Lorraine. 

"Peace, Love, Equality! All this is yours for the 
asking. The commune will be proclaimed through 
out France; Paris is aroused, Lyons is ready, Bor 
deaux watches, Marseilles waits! 

" You call your village Paradise yet you starve here. 
Let this little Breton village be a paradise in truth 
a shrine for future happy pilgrims who shall say : 'Here 
first were sewn the seeds of the world's liberty ! Here first 
bloomed the perfect flower of universal brotherhood!" 

He bent his sleek, gray head meekly, pausing as 
though in profound meditation. Suddenly he raised 
his head; his tone changed; a faint ring of defiance 
sounded under the smooth flow of words. 

He began with a blasphemous comparison, alluding 
to the money-changers in the temple a subtle appeal 
to righteous violence. 

" It rests with us to cleanse the broad temple of our 
country and drive from it the thieves and traitors who 
enslave us! How can we do it? They are strong; we 

287 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

are weak. Ah, but are they truly strong? You say 
they have armies ? Armies are composed of men . These 
men are your brothers, whipped forth to die for what? 
For the pleasure of a few aristocrats. Who was it 
dragged your husbands and sons away from your 
arms, leaving you to starve? The governor of Lorient. 
Who is he? An aristocrat, paid to scourge your hus 
bands and children to battle paid, perhaps, by Prussia 
to betray them, too!" 

A low murmur rose from the people. Buckhurst 
swept the throng with colorless eyes. 

"Under the commune we will have peace. Why? 
Because there can be no hunger, no distress, no home 
less ones where the wealth of all is distributed equally. 
We will have no wars, because there will be nothing 
to fight for. We will have no aristocrats where all 
must labor for the common good; where all land is 
equally divided ; where love, equality, and brotherhood 
are the only laws " 

"Where's the mayor?" I whispered to Eyre. 

"In his house; Speed is with him." 

"Come on, then," I said, pushing my way around 
the outskirts of the crowd to the mayor's house. 

The door was shut and the blinds drawn, but a knock 
brought Speed to the door, revolver in hand. 

" Oh," he said, grimly, " it's time you arrived. Come 
in." 

The mayor was lying in his arm-chair, frightened, 
sulky, obstinate, his fat form swathed in a red sash. 

"0-ho!" I said, sharply, "so you already wear the 
colors of the revolution, do you?" 

" Dame, they tied it over my waistcoat," he said, " and 
there are no gendarmes to help me arrest them " 

"Never mind that just now," I interrupted; "what 
I want to know is why you wrote the governor of Lorient 
to expel our circus." 

288 



THE CIRCUS 

"That's my own affair/' he snapped; "besides, who 
said I wrote?" 

" Idiot," I said, " somebody paid you to do it. Who 
was it?" 

The mayor, hunched up in his chair, shut his mouth 
obstinately. 

"Somebody paid you," I repeated; "you would 
never have complained of us unless somebody paid 
you, because our circus is bringing money into your 
village. Come, my friend, that was easy to guess. 
Now let me guess again that Buckhurst paid you to 
complain of us." 

The mayor looked slyly at me out of the corner of 
his mottled eyes, but he remained mute. 

"Very well," said I; "when the troops from Lorient 
hear of this revolution in Paradise, they'll come and 
chase these communards into the sea. And after that 
they'll stand you up against a convenient wall and 
give you thirty seconds for absolution " 

" Stop ! " burst out the mayor, struggling to his feet. 
"What am I to do? This gentleman, Monsieur Buck- 
hurst, will slay me if I disobey himl Besides," he added, 
with cowardly cunning, " they are going to do the same 
thing in Lorient, too and everywhere in Paris, in 
Bordeaux, in Marseilles even in Quimperle"! And 
when all these cities are flying the red flag it won't be 
comfortable for cities that fly the tricolor." He began 
to bluster. "I'm mayor of Paradise, and I won't be 
bullied 1 You get out of here with your circus and your 
foolish elephants! I haven't any gendarmes just now 
to drive you out, but you had better start, all the same 
before night." 

"Oh," I said, "before night? Why before night?" 

"Wait and see then," he muttered. "Anyway, get 
out of my house d' ye hear?" 

" We are going to give that performance at two o'clock 

19 289 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

this afternoon," I said. " After that, another to-morrow 
at the same hour, and on every day at the same hour, 
as long as it pays. Do you understand?" 

"Perfectly," sneered the mayor. 

" And," I continued, " if the governor of Lorient sends 
gendarmes to conduct us to the steamship in Lorient 
harbor, they'll take with them somebody besides the 
circus folk." 

" You mean me?" he inquired. 

"I do." 

" What do I care?" he bawled in a fury. "You had 
better go to Lorient, I tell you. What do you know 
about the commune? What do you know about uni 
versal brotherhood? Everybody's everybody's brother, 
whether you like it or not ! I'm your brother, and if it 
doesn't suit you you may go to the devil!" 

Watching the infuriated magistrate, I said in English 
to Speed : " This is interesting. Buckhurst has learned 
we are here, and has paid this fellow heavily to have us 
expelled. What sense do you make of all this? for I 
can make none." 

"Nor can I," muttered Speed; "there's a link gone; 
we'll find it soon, I fancy. Without that link there's 
no logic in this matter." 

" Look here," I said, sharply, to the mayor, who had 
waddled toward the door, which was guarded by Kelly 
Eyre. 

"Well, I'm looking," he snarled. 

Then I patiently pointed out to him his folly, and he 
listened with ill-grace, obstinate, mute, dull cunning 
gleaming from his half-closed eyes. 

Then I asked him what he would do if the cruiser 
began dropping shells into Paradise; he deliberately 
winked at me and thrust his tongue into his cheek. 

" So you know that the cruiser has gone? " I asked. 

He grinned. 

290 



THE CIRCUS 

"Do you suppose Buckhurst's men hold the sema 
phore? If they do, they sent that cruiser on a fool's 
errand," whispered Speed. 

Here was a nice plot ! I stepped to the window. Out 
side in the square Buckhurst was still speaking to a 
spellbound, gaping throng. A few men cheered him. 
They were strangers in Paradise. 

" What's he doing it for?" I asked, utterly at a loss to 
account for proceedings which seemed to me the acme 
of folly. "He must know that the commune cannot 
be started here in Brittany! Speed, what is that man 
up to?" 

Behind us the mayor was angrily demanding that 
we leave his house; and after a while we did so, skirt 
ing the crowd once more to where, in a cleared space 
near the fountain, Buckhurst stood, red flag in hand, 
ranging a dozen peasants in line. The peasants were 
not Paradise men; they wore the costumes of the in 
terior, and somebody had already armed them with 
scythes, rusty boar ding -pikes, stable -forks, and one 
or two flintlock muskets. An evil -looking crew, if 
ever I saw one; wild-eyed, long-haired, bare of knee 
and ankle, loutish faces turned toward the slim, gray, 
pale-faced orator who confronted them, flag in hand. 
They were the scum of Morbihan. 

He told them that they were his guard of honor, the 
glory of their race a sacred battalion whose names 
should shine high on the imperishable battlements of 
freedom. 

Around them the calm-eyed peasants stared at them 
stupidly; women gazed fascinated when Buckhurst, 
raising his flag, pointed in silence to the mayor's house, 
where that official stood in his doorway, observing the 
scene : 

"Forward!" said Buckhurst, and the grotesque es 
cort started with a clatter of heavy sabots and a rattle 

291 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

of scythes. The crowd fell back to give them way, 
then closed in behind like a herd of sheep, following 
to the mayor's house, where Buckhurst set his sen 
tinels and then entered, closing the door behind him. 

" Well!" muttered Speed, in amazement. 

After a long silence, Kelly Eyre looked at his watch. 
" It's time we were in the tent," he observed, dryly; and 
we turned away without a word. At the bridge we 
stopped and looked back. The red flag was flying 
from the mayor's house. 

" Speed," I said, " there's one thing certain : Byram 
can't stay if there's going to be fighting here. I heard 
guns at sea this morning; I don't know what that 
may indicate. And here's this idiotic revolution start 
ed in Paradise! That means the troops from Lorient, 
and a wretched lot of bushwhacking and guerilla work. 
Those Faouet Bretons that Buckhurst has recruited 
are a bad lot; there is going to be trouble, I tell 
you." 

Eyre suggested that we arm our circus people, and 
Speed promised to attend to it and to post them at the 
tent doors, ready to resist any interference with the 
performance on the part of Buckhurst's recruits. 

It was already nearly one o'clock as we threaded our 
way through the crowds at the entrance, where our band 
was playing gayly and thousands of white head-dresses 
fluttered in the sparkling sunshine that poured inter 
mittently from a sky where great white clouds were 
sailing seaward. 

"Walk right up, messoors! Entry done, mesdames, 
see voo play!" shouted Byram, waving a handful of 
red and blue tickets. " Animals all on view before the 
performance begins! Walk right into the corridor of 
livin' marvels and defunct curiosities! Bring the lit 
tle ones to see the elephant an' the camuel the fleet 
ship of the Sairy! Don't miss nothing! Don't fail 

292 



THE CIRCUS 

to contemplate le ploo magnifique spectacle in all 
Europe! Don't let nobody say you died an' never saw 
the only Flyin' Mermaid! An' don't forget the prize 
ten thousand francs to the man, woman, or che-ild 
who can prove that this here Flyin' Mermaid ain't a 
fictious bein' straight from Paradise!" 

Speed and I made our way slowly through the crush 
to the stables, then around to the dressing-rooms, where 
little Grigg, in his spotted clown's costume, was putting 
the last touches of vermilion to his white cheeks, and 
Horan, draped in a mangy leopard -skin to imitate 
Hercules, sat on his two - thousand - pound dumbbell, 
curling his shiny black mustache with Mrs. Grigg's 
iron. 

"Jacqueline's dressed," cried Miss Crystal, parting 
the curtain of her dressing-room, just enough to show 
her pretty, excited eyes and nose. 

"All right; I won't be long," replied Speed, who was 
to act as ring-master. And he turned and looked at 
me as I raised the canvas flap which screened my 
dressing-room. 

"I think," I said, "that we had better ride over to 
Tr6court after the show not that there's any imme 
diate danger " 

"There is no immediate danger/' said Speed, "be 
cause she is here." 

My face began to burn; I looked at him miserably. 
" How do you know?" 

"She is there in the tent. I saw her." 

He came up and held his hand on my shoulder. "I'm 
sorry I told you," he said. 

"Why?" I asked. "She knows what I am. Is 
there any reason why she should not be amused? I 
promise you she shall be!" 

"Then why do you speak so bitterly? Don't mis 
construe her presence. Don't be a contemptible fool. 

293 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

If I have read her face and I have never spoken to her, 
as you know I tell you, Scarlett, that young girl is 
going through an ordeal! Do women of that kind 
come to shows like this to be amused?" 

"What do you mean?" I said, angrily. 

"I mean that she could not keep away! And I tell 
you to be careful with your lions, to spare her any reck 
lessness on your part, to finish as soon as you can, and 
get out of that cursed cage. If you don't you're a 
coward, and a selfish one at that!" 

His words were like a blow in the face; I stared at 
him, too confused even for anger. 

"Oh, you fool, you fool!" he said, in a low voice. 
"She cares for you; can't you understand?" 

And he turned on his heel, leaving me speechless. 

I do not remember dressing. When I came out into 
the passage-way Byram beckoned me, and pointed at 
a crack in the canvas through which one could see the 
interior of the amphitheatre. A mellow light flooded 
the great tent ; spots of sunshine fell on the fresh tan- 
bark, where long, luminous, dusty beams slanted from 
the ridge-pole athwart the golden gloom. 

Tier on tier the wooden benches rose, packed with 
women in brilliant holiday dress, with men gorgeous 
in silver and velvet, with children decked in lace and 
gilt chains. The air was filled with the starched rustle 
of white coiffes and stiff collarettes; a low, incessant 
clatter of sabots sounded from gallery to arena; gusts 
of breathless whispering passed like capricious breezes 
blowing, then died out in the hush which fell as our 
band-master, McCadger, raised his wand and the band 
burst into "Dixie." 

At that the great canvas flaps over the stable entrance 
slowly parted and the scarlet-draped head of Djebe, the 
elephant, appeared. On he came, amid a rising roar 
of approval, Speed in gorgeous robes perched on high, 

294 



THE CIRCUS 

ankus raised. After him came the camel, all over tas 
sels and gold net, bestridden by Kelly Eyre, wearing 
a costume seldom seen anywhere, and never in the 
Sahara. White horses, piebald horses, and cream- 
colored horses pranced in the camel's wake, dragging 
assorted chariots tenanted by gentlemen in togas; 
pretty little Mrs. Grigg, in habit and scarlet jacket, 
followed on Briza, the white mare ; Horan came next, 
driving more horses; the dens of ferocious beasts 
creaked after, guarded by a phalanx of stalwart stable 
men in plumes and armor ; then Miss Crystal, driving 
zebras to a gilt chariot ; then more men in togas, leading 
monkeys mounted on ponies ; and finally Mrs. Horan 
seated on a huge egg drawn by ostriches. 

Once only they circled the sawdust ring; then the 
band stopped, the last of the procession disappeared, 
the clown came shrieking and tumbling out into the 
arena with his " Here we are again!" 

And the show was on. 

I stood in the shadow of the stable-tent, dressed in my 
frock-coat, white stock, white cords, and hunting-boots, 
sullen, imbittered, red with a false shame that better 
men than I have weakened under, almost desperate in 
my humiliation, almost ready to end it all there among 
those tawny, restless brutes pacing behind the bars 
at my elbow, watching me stealthily with luminous 
eyes. 

She knew what I was but that she could come to 
see with her own eyes I could not understand, I could 
not forgive. Speed's senseless words rang in my ears 
"She cares for you!" But I knew they were mean 
ingless, I knew she could not care for me. What fools' 
paradise would he have me enter? What did he know 
of this woman whom I knew and understood whom I 
honored for her tenderness and pity to all who suffered 
who I knew counted me as one among a multitude 

295 



of unhappy failures whom her kindness and sympathy 
might aid. 

Because she had, in her gracious ignorance, given 
me a young girl's impulsive friendship, was I to mis 
take her? What could Speed know of her of her creed, 
her ideals, her calm, passionless desire to help where 
help was needed anywhere in the palace, in the fau 
bourgs, in the wretched chaumieres, in the slums ? It was 
all one to her to this young girl whose tender heart, 
bruised by her own sad life, opened to all on whom the 
evil days had dawned. 

And yet she had come here and that was cruel; 
and she was not cruel. Could she know that I had 
a shred of pride left one little, ragged thread of pride 
left in me that she should come to see me do my moun 
tebank tricks to the applause of a greasy throng? 

No, she had not thought of that, else she would have 
stayed away ; for she was kind, above all else gener 
ous and kind. 

Speed passed me in ring-master's dress; there came 
the hollow thud of hoofs as Mrs. Grigg galloped into 
the ring on her white mare, gauze skirts fluttering, 
whip raised; and, "Hoop-la!" squealed the clown as 
his pretty little wife went careering around and around 
the tan-bark, leaping through paper-hoops, over hur 
dles, while the band played frantically and the Bre 
tons shouted in an ecstasy of excitement. 

Then Grigg mounted his little trick donkey; roars 
of laughter greeted his discomfiture when Tim, the 
donkey, pitched him headlong and cantered off with a 
hee-haw of triumph. 

Miss Delany tripped past me in her sky-blue tights 
to hold the audience spellbound with her jugglery, 
and spin plates and throw glittering knives until the 
satiated people turned to welcome Horan and his 
"cogged" dumbbells and clubs. 

296 



THE CIRCUS 

"Have you seen her?" whispered Speed, coming up 
to me, long whip trailing. 

I shook my head. 

He looked at me in disgust. " Here's something for 
you," he said, shortly, and thrust an envelope into my 
hand. 

In the envelope was a little card on which was writ 
ten: "I ask you to be careful, for a friend's sake." 
On the other side of the card was engraved her name. 

I raised my head and looked at Speed, who began 
to laugh nervously. "That's better," he said; "you 
don't look like a surly brute any more." 

"Where is she?" I said, steadying my voice, which 
my leaping heart almost stifled. 

He drew me by the elbow and looked toward the 
right of the amphitheatre. Following the direction of 
his eyes, I saw her leaning forward, pale-faced, grave, 
small, gloved hands interlocked. Beside her sat Syl 
via Elven, apparently amused at the antics of the 
clown. 

Shame filled me. Not the false shame I had felt 
that vanished but shame that I could have misun 
derstood the presence of this brave friend of mine, this 
brave, generous, tender-hearted girl, who had given 
me her friendship, who was true enough to care what 
might happen to me and brave enough to say so. 

"I will be careful," I said to Speed, in a low voice. 
" If it were not for Byram I would not go on to-day 
but that is a matter of honor. Oh, Speed," I broke 
out, "is she not worth dying for?" 

"Why not live for her?" he observed, dryly. 

" I will don't misunderstand me I know she could 
never even think of me as I do of her yes, as I dare 
to, Speed. I dare to love her with all this wretched heart 
and soul of mine! It's all right I think I am crazy 
to talk like this but you are kind, Speed you will 

297 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

forget what I said you have forgotten it already 
bless your heart " 

"No, I haven't," he retorted, obstinately. "You 
must win her you must ! Shame on you for a cow 
ard if you do not speak that word which means life 
to you both!" 

"Speed!" I began, angrily. 

"Oh, go to the devil!" he snapped, and walked off 
to where Jacqueline stood glittering, her slim limbs 
striking fire from every silver scale. 

"All ready, little sweetheart!" he cried, reassuringly, 
as she raised her blue eyes to his and shook her elf- 
locks around her flushed face. "It's our turn now; 
they're uncovering the tank, and Miss Crystal is on 
her trapeze. Are you nervous?" 

" Not when you are by me," said Jacqueline. 

" I'll be there," he said, smiling. " You will see me 
when you are ready. Look! There's the governor! 
It's your call! Quick, my child!" 

"Good-bye," said Jacqueline, catching his hand in 
both of hers, and she was off and in the middle of 
the ring before I could get to a place of vantage to 
watch. 

Up into the rigging she swung, higher, higher, hang 
ing like a brilliant fly in all that net-work of wire and 
rope, turning, twisting, climbing, dropping to her 
knees, until the people's cheers rose to a sustained 
shriek. 

"Ready!" quavered Miss Crystal, hanging from her 
own trapeze across the gulf. 

It was the first signal. Jacqueline set her trapeze 
swinging and hung by her knees, face downward. 

"Ready!" called Miss Crystal again, as Jacque 
line's trapeze swung higher and higher. 

"Ready!" said Jacqueline, calmly. 

"Go!" 

298 



THE CIRCUS 

Like a meteor the child flashed across the space 
between the two trapezes; Miss Crystal caught her 
by her ankles. 

"Ready?" called Speed, from the ground below. 
He had turned quite pale. I saw Jacqueline, hanging 
head down, smile at him from her dizzy height. 

"Ready," she said, calmly. 

"Go!-" 

Down, down, like a falling star, flashed Jacqueline 
into the shallow pool, then shot to the surface, shim 
mering like a leaping mullet, where she played and 
dived and darted, while the people screamed them 
selves hoarse, and Speed came out, ghastly and trem 
bling, colliding with me like a blind man. 

" I wish I had never let her do it ; I wish I had never 
brought her here never seen her," he stammered. 
"She'll miss it some day like Miss Claridge and 
it will be murder and I'll have done it! Anybody 
but that child, Scarlett, anybody else but I can't 
bear to have her die that way the pretty little thing!" 

He let go of my arm and stood back as my lion-cages 
came rolling out, drawn by four horses. 

" It's your turn," he said, in a dazed way. " Look 
out for that lioness." 

As I walked out into the arena I saw only one face. 
She tried to smile, and so did I ; but a terrible, helpless 
sensation was already creeping over me the knowl 
edge that I was causing her distress the knowledge 
that I was no longer sure of myself that, with my 
love for her, my authority over these caged things had 
gone, never to return. I knew it, I recognized it, and 
admitted it now. Speed's words rang true horribly 
true. 

I entered the cage, afraid. 

Almost instantly I was the centre of a snarling mass 
of lions ; I saw nothing ; my whip rose and fell mechan- 

299 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

ically. I stood like one stunned, while the tawny forms 
leaped right and left. 

Suddenly I heard a keeper say, "Look out for Em 
press Khatoun, sir!" And a moment later a cry, 
"Look out, sir!" 

Something went wrong with another lion, too, for 
the people were standing up and shouting, and the 
sleeve of my coat hung from the elbow, showing my 
bare shoulder. I staggered up against the bars of 
the sliding door as a lioness struck me heavily and I 
returned the blow. I remember saying, aloud: "I 
must keep my feet; I must not fall!" Then daylight 
grew red, and I was on my knees, with the foul breath 
of a lion in my face. A hot iron bar shot across the 
cage. The roaring of beasts and people died out in 
my ears; then, with a shock, my soul seemed to be 
dashed out of me into a terrific darkness. 



PART THIRD 



XVIII 

A GUEST-CHAMBER 

ALIGHT was shining in my eyes and I was talking 
excitedly; that and the odor of brandy I remem 
ber and something else, a steady roaring in my ears ; 
then darkness, out of which came a voice, empty, mean 
ingless, finally soundless. 

After a while I realized that I was in pain ; that, at 
intervals, somebody forced morsels of ice between my 
lips ; that the darkness around me had turned grayer. 

Time played tricks on me ; centuries passed steadily, 
year following year long years they were, too, with 
endless spring-tides, summers, autumns, winters, each 
with full complement of months, and every month 
crowded with days. Space, illimitable space, surround 
ed me skyless, starless space. And through its ter 
rific silence I heard a clock ticking seconds of time. 

Years and years later a yellow star rose and stood 
still before my open eyes ; and after a long while I saw 
it was the flame of a candle : and somebody spoke my 
name. 

"I know you, Speed," I said, drowsily. 

"You are all right, Scarlett?" 

"Yes, . . . all right." 

"Does the candle-light pain you?" 

"No; ... do they contract?" 

" A little. . . . Yes, I am sure the pupils of your eyes 
are contracting. Don't talk." 

303 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

"No; . . . then it was concussion of the brain?" 

"Yes; . . . the shock is pasfeing. . . . Don't talk." 

Time moved on again; space slowly contracted into 
a symmetrical shape, set with little points of light; 
sleep and fatigue alternated with glimmers of reason, 
which finally grew into a faint but steady intelligence. 
And, very delicately, memory stirred in a slumbering 
brain. 

Reason and memory were mine again, frail toys 
for a stricken man, so frail I dared not, for a time, 
use them for my amusement and one of them was 
broken, too memory ! broken short at the moment 
when full in my face I had felt the hot, fetid breath 
of a lion. 

"Speed!" 

"Yes; I am here." 

"What time is it?" 

I heard the click of his hunting - case. " Eleven 
o'clock." 

"What day?" 

"Saturday." 

"When " I hesitated. I was afraid. 

"Well?" he asked, quietly. 

"When was I hurt? Many days ago many 
weeks?" 

"You were hurt at half -past three this afternoon." 

I tried to comprehend ; I could not, and after a while 
I gave up my feeble grasp on time. 

"What is that roaring sound?" I asked. "Not 
drums? Not my lions?" 

"It is the sea." 

"So near?" 

"Very near." 

I turned my head on the white pillow. "Where is 
this bed? Where is this room?" 

"Shall I tell you?" 

304 



A GUEST-CHAMBER 

I was silent, struggling with memory. 

"Tell me," I said. "Whose bed is this?" 

"It is hers." 

The candle -flame glimmered before my wide-open 
eyes once more, and 

"Oh, you are all right," he muttered, then leaned 
heavily against the bedside, dropping his arms on 
the coverlet. 

"It was a close call a close call!" he said, hoarsely. 
" We thought it was ended. . . . They were all over you 
Empress dragged you; but they all crowded in too 
close they blocked each other, you see; . . . and we 
used the irons. . . . Your left arm lay close to the cage 
door and ... we got you away from them, and . . . it's 
all right now it's all right " 

He broke down, head buried in his arms. I moved 
my left hand across the sheets so that it rested on his 
elbow. He lay there, gulping for a while; I could not 
see him very clearly, for the muscles that controlled 
my eyes were still slightly paralyzed from the shock 
of the blow that Empress Khatoun had dealt me. 

"It's all very well," he stammered, with a trace of 
resentment in his quavering voice " it's all very well 
for people who are used to the filthy beasts; but I tell 
you, Scarlett, it sickened me. I'm no coward, as men 
go, but I was afraid I was terrified!" 

"Yet you dragged me out," I said. 

"Who told you that? How could you know " 

"It was not necessary to tell me. You said, 'We 
got you away ' ; but I know it was you, Speed, because 
it was like you. Look at me! Am I well enough to 
dress?" 

He raised a haggard face to mine. "You know 
best," he said. "They tore your coat off, and one of 
them ripped your riding-boot from top to sole; but the 
blow Empress struck you is your only hurt, and she 

305 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

all but missed you at that. Had she hit you fairly 
but, oh, hell! Do you want to get up?" 

I said I would in a moment, . . . and that is all I re 
member that night, all I remember clearly, though it 
seems to me that once I heard drums beating in the 
distance; and perhaps I did. 

Dawn was breaking when I awoke. Speed, partly 
dressed, lay beside me, sleeping heavily. I looked 
around at the pretty boudoir where I lay, at the silken 
curtains of the bed, at the clouds of cupids on the paint 
ed ceiling, flying through a haze of vermilion flecked 
with gold. 

Raising one hand, I touched with tentative fingers 
my tightly bandaged head, then turned over on my 
side. 

There were my torn clothes, filthy and smeared with 
sawdust, flung over a delicate, gilded chair; there 
sprawled my battered boots, soiling the polished, in 
laid floor ; a candle lay in a pool of hardened wax on 
a golden rococo table, and I saw where the smoulder 
ing wick had blistered the glazed top. And this was 
her room! Vandalism unspeakable! I turned on my 
snoring comrade. 

"Idiot, get up!" I cried, hitting him feebly. 

He was very angry when he found out why I had 
awakened him ; perhaps the sight of my bandaged head 
restrained him from violence. 

" Look here," he said, " I've been up all night, and 
you might as well know it. If you hit me again " 
He hesitated, stared around, yawned, and rubbed his 
eyes. 

"You're right," he said, " I must get up." 

He stumbled to the floor, bathed, grumbling all the 
while, and then, to my surprise, walked over to a flat 
trunk which stood under the window and which I recog 
nized as mine. 

306 



A GUEST-CHAMBER 

" I'll borrow some underwear," he remarked, viciously. 

"What's my trunk doing here?" I demanded. 

"Madame de Vassart had them bring it." 

"Had who bring it?" 

"Horan and McCadger before they left." 

"Before they left? Have they gone?" 

" I forgot," he said, soberly ; " you don't know what's 
been going on." 

He began to dress, raising his head now and then 
to gaze out across the ocean towards Groix, where the 
cruiser once lay at anchor. 

" Of course you don't know that the circus has gone," 
he remarked. 

"Gone!" I echoed, astonished. t 

"Gone to Lorient." 

He came and sat down on the edge of the gilded 
bedstead, buttoning his collar thoughtfully. 

"Buckhurst is in town again with a raft of pictu 
resque ruffians," he said. "They marched in last 
night, drums beating, colors unfurled the red rag, 
you know and the first thing they did was to order 
By ram to decamp." 

He began to tie his cravat, with a meditative glance 
at the gilded mirror. 

"I was here with you. Kelly Eyre came for me 
Madame de Vassart took my place to watch you " 

A sudden heart-beat choked me. 

" So I," he continued, "posted off to the tent, to 
find a rabble of communist soldiers stealing my bal 
loon-car, ropes, bag, and all. I tell you I did what I 
could, but they said the balloon was contraband of 
war, and a military necessity; and they took it, the 
thieving whelps! Then I saw how matters were go 
ing to end, and I told the governor that he'd better go 
to Lorient as fast as he could travel before they stole 
the buttons off his shirt. 

307 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

"Scarlett, it was a weird sight. I never saw tents 
struck so quickly. Kelly Eyre, Horan, and I har 
nessed up ; Grigg stood guard over the props 
with a horse-pistol. The ladies worked like Trojans, 
loading the wagons; Byram raged up and down 
under the bayonets of those bandits, cursing them 
as only a man who never swears can curse, invok 
ing the Stars and Stripes, metaphorically placing 
himself, his company, his money-box, and his camuel 
under the shadow of the broad eagle of the United 
States. 

" Oh, those were gay times, Scarlett. And we fright 
ened them, too, because nobody attempted to touch 
anything." 

Speed laughed grimly, and began to pace the floor, 
casting sharp glances at me. 

"Byram's people, elephant and all, struck the road 
a little after three o'clock this morning, in good order, 
not a tent-peg nor a frying-pan missing. They ought 
to be in Lorient by early afternoon." 

"Gone!" I repeated, blankly. 

"Gone. Curious how it hurt me to say good-bye. 
They're good people good, kindly folk. I've grown 
to care for them in these few months. ... I may go 
back to them . . . some day ... if they want a balloon 
ist ... or any kind of a thing." 

"You stayed to take care of me?" I said. 

"Partly. . . . You need care, especially when you 
don't need it." He began to laugh. "It's only when 
you're well that I worry." 

I lay looking at him, striving to realize the change 
that had occurred in so brief a time trying to under 
stand the abrupt severing of ties and conditions to 
which, already, I had become accustomed perhaps 
attached. 

"They all sent their love to you," he said. "They 
308 



A GUEST-CHAMBER 

knew you were out of danger I told them there was 
no fracture, only a slight concussion. Byram came 
to look at you; he brought your back salary all of 
it. I've got it." 

"Byram came here?" 

"Yes. He stood over there beside you, snivelling 
into his red bandanna. And Miss Crystal and Jacque 
line stood here. . . . Jacqueline kissed you." 

After a moment I said : " Has Jacqueline gone with 
them?" 

"Yes." 

There was another pause, longer this time. 

"Of course," I said, "Byram knows that my use 
fulness as a lion-tamer is at an end." 

"Of course," said Speed, simply. 

I sighed. 

" He wants you for the horses," added Speed. " But 
you can do better than that." 

"I don't know, . . . perhaps." 

"Besides, they sail to-day from Lorient. The gov 
ernor made money yesterday enough to start again. 
Poor Byram! He's frantic to get back to America; 
and, oh, Scarlett, how that good old man can swear!" 

"Help me to sit up in bed," I said; "there that's 
it! Just wedge those pillows behind my shoulders." 

"All right?" 

"Of course. I'm going to dress. Speed, did you 
say that little Jacqueline went with Byram?" 

He looked at me miserably. 

"Yes," he said. 

I was silent. 

"Yes," he repeated, "she went, lugging her pet cat 
in her arms. She would go; the life has fascinated 
her. I begged her not to I felt I was disloyal to By 
ram, too, but what could I do? I tell you, Scarlett, I 
wish I had never seen her, never persuaded her to try 

309 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

that foolish dive. She'll miss some day like the 
other one." 

"It's my fault more than yours," I said. "Couldn't 
you persuade her to give it up?" 

"I offered to educate her, to send her to school, to 
work for her," he said. "She only looked at me out 
of those sea-blue eyes you know how the little witch 
can look you through and through and then and 
then she walked away into the torch-glare, clasping 
her cat to her breast, and I saw her strike a fool of a 
soldier who pretended to stop her! Scarlett, she was 
a strange child proud and dainty, too, with all her 
rags you remember a strange, sweet child almost 
a woman, at times, and I thought her loyal " 

He walked to the window and stared moodily at the 
sea. 

"Meanwhile," I said, quietly, "I am going to get 
up." 

He gave me a look which I interpreted as, " Get up 
and be damned!" I complied in part. 

"Oh, help me into these things, will you?" I said, 
at length ; and instantly he was at my side, gentle and 
patient, lacing my shoes, because it made my head 
ache to bend over, buttoning collar and cravat, and 
slipping my coat on while I leaned against the tum 
bled bed. 

" Well !" I said, with a grimace, and stood up, shakily. 

" Well," he echoed, " here we are again, as poor little 
Grigg says." 

"With our salaries in our pockets and our posses 
sions on our backs." 

" And no prospects," he added, gayly. 

"Not a blessed one, unless we count a prospect of 
trouble with Buckhurst." 

" He won't trouble us unless we interfere with him," 
observed Speed, drumming nervously on the window. 

310 



A GUEST-CHAMBER 

" But I'm going to," I said, surprised. 

"Going to interfere?" he asked, wheeling to scowl 
at me. 

"Certainly." 

"Why? We're not in government employ. What 
do we care about this row? If these Frenchmen are 
tired of battering the Germans they'll batter each other, 
and we can't help it, can we?" 

"We can help Buckhurst's annoying Madame de 
Vassart." 

"Only by getting her to leave the country," said 
Speed. "She will understand that, too." He paused, 
rubbing his nose reflectively. " Scarlett, what do you 
suppose Buckhurst is up to?" 

" I haven't an idea," I replied. " All I know is that, 
in all probability, he came here to attempt to rob the 
treasure-trains and that was your theory, too, you 
remember?" 

And I continued, reminding Speed that Buckhurst 
had collected his ruffianly franc company in the forest ; 
that the day the cruiser sailed he had appeared in Para 
dise to proclaim the commune; that doubtless he had 
signalled, from the semaphore, orders for the cruiser's 
departure ; that a few hours later his red battalion had 
marched into Paradise. 

"Yes, that's all logical," said Speed, "but how 
could Buckhurst know the secret-code signals which 
the cruiser must have received before she sailed? To 
hoist them on the semaphore, he must have had a 
code-book." 

I thought a moment. "Suppose Mornac is with 
him?" 

Speed fairly jumped. "That's it! That's the link 
we were hunting for! It's Mornac it must be Mor 
nac ! He is the only man ; he had access to every 
thing. And now that his Emperor is a prisoner and 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

his Empress a fugitive, the miserable hound has noth 
ing [to lose by the anarchy he once hoped to profit 
by. Tell me, Scarlett, does the tail wag the dog, 
after all? And which is the dog, Buckhurst or 
Mornac?" 

"I once thought it was Buckhurst," I said. 

"So did I, but I don't know now. I don't know 
what to do, either. I don't know anything!" 

I began to walk about the room, carefully, for my 
knees were weak, though I had no headache. 

" It's a shame for a pair of hulking brutes like you 
and me to desecrate this bedroom," I muttered. " Mud 
on the floor look at it! Sawdust and candle- wax 
over everything ! What's that all that on the lounge? 
Has a dog or a cat been rolling over it? It's plastered 
with tan-colored hairs!" 

" Lion's hairs from your coat," he observed, grimly. 

I looked at them for a moment rather soberly. They 
glistened like gold in the early sunshine. 

Speed opened his mouth to say something, but closed 
it abruptly as a very faint tapping sounded on our 
door. 

I opened it ; Sylvia Elven stood in the hallway. 

"Oh," she said, in ungracious astonishment, "then 
you are not on the grave's awful verge, . . . are 
you?" 

"I hope you didn't expect to discover me there?" 
I replied, laughing. 

"Expect it? Indeed I did, monsieur, ... or I 
shouldn't be here at sunrise, scratching at your door 
for news of you. This," she said, petulantly, "is 
enough to vex any saint!" 

"Any other saint," I corrected, gravely. "I admit 
it, mademoiselle, I am a nuisance; so is my comrade. 
We have only to express our deep gratitude and go." 

" Go? Do you think we will let you go, with all those 
312 



A GUEST-CHAMBER 

bandits roaming the moors outside our windows? And 
you call that gratitude?" 

"Does Madame de Vassart desire us to stay?" I 
asked, trying not to speak too eagerly. 

Sylvia Elven gave me a scornful glance. 

"Must we implore you, monsieur, to protect us? 
We will, if you wish it. I know I'm ill-humored, but 
it's scarcely daybreak, and we've sat up all night on 
your account Madame de Vassart would not allow 
me to go to bed and if I am brusque with you, remem 
ber I was obliged to sleep in a chair and I hope 
you feel that you have put me to very great incon 
venience." 

"I feel that way . . . about Madame de Vassart," 
I said, laughing at the pretty, pouting mouth and 
sleepy eyes of this amusingly exasperated young 
girl, who resembled a rumpled Dresden shepherdess 
more than anything else. I added that we would be 
glad to stay until the communist free-rifles took them 
selves off. For which she thanked me with an ex 
aggerated courtesy and retired, furiously conscious 
that she had not only slept in her clothes, but that 
she looked it. 

" That was Madame de Vassart's companion, wasn't 
it?" asked Speed. 

" Yes, Sylvia Elven. ... I don't know what she is 
I know what she was no, I don't, either. I only 
know what Jarras says she was." 

Speed raised his eyebrows. "And what was that?" 

"Actress, at the Odeon." 

" Never heard of her being at the Ode"on," he said. 

"You heard of her as one of that group at La 
Trappe?" 

"Yes." 

"Well, when I was looking for Buckhurst in Mors- 
bronn, Jarras telegraphed me descriptions of the people 

313 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

I was to arrest at La Trappe, and he mentioned her as 
Mademoiselle Sylvia Elven, lately of the Odeon." 

"That was a mistake/' said Speed. "What he 
meant to say was that she was lately a resident of the 
Odeonsplatz. He knew that. It must have been a 
telegraphic error." 

"How do you know?" I asked, surprised. 

"Because I furnished Jarras with the data. It's in 
her dossier." 

"Odeon Odeonsplatz," I muttered, trying to un 
derstand. "What is the Odeonsplatz? A square in 
some German city, isn't it?" 

"It's a square in the capital of Bavaria Munich." 

"But but she isn't a German, is she? Is she?" I 
repeated, staring at Speed, who was looking keenly at 
me, with eyes partly closed. 

There was a long silence. 

"Well, upon my soul!" I said, slowly, emphasizing 
every word with a noiseless blow on the table. 

"Didn't you know it? Waitl Hold on," he said, 
"let's go slowly let's go very slowly. She is part 
ly German by birth. That proves nothing. Granted 
that Jarras suspected her, not as a social agitator, but 
as a German agent. Granted he did not tell you what 
he suspected, but merely ordered her arrest with the 
others perhaps under cover of Buckhurst's arrest 
you know what a secret man, the Emperor was how, 
if he wanted a man, he'd never chase him, but run in 
the opposite direction and head him off half-way around 
the world. So, granted all this, I say, what's to prove 
Jarras was right?" 

" Does her dossier prove it? You have read it." 

" Well, her dossier was rather incomplete. We knew 
that she went about a good deal in Paris went to the 
Tuileries, too She was married once. Didn't you 
know even that?" 

314 



A GUEST-CHAMBER 

"Married!" I exclaimed. 

"To a Russian brute I've forgotten his name, but 
I've seen him one of the kind with high cheek-bones 
and black eyes. She got her divorce in England; 
that's on record, and we have it in her dossier. Then, 
going back still further, we know that her father was a 
Bavarian, a petty noble of some sort baron, I believe. 
Her mother's name was Elven, a Breton peasant; it 
was a mesalliance trouble of all sorts I forget, but 
I believe her uncle brought her up. Her uncle was 
military attache of the German embassy to Paris. . . . 
You see how she slipped into society and you know 
what society under the Empire was." 

"Speed," I said, "why on earth didn't you tell me 
all this before?" 

"My dear fellow, I, supposed Jarras had told you; 
or that, if you didn't know it, it did not concern us at 
all." 

"But it does concern a person I know," I said, 
quickly, thinking of poor Kelly Eyre. "And it ex 
plains a lot of things or, rather, places them under a 
new light." 

"What light?" 

" Well, for one thing, she has consistently lied to me. 
For another, I believe her to be hand-in-glove with Karl 
Marx and the French leaders not Buckhurst, but the 
real leaders of the social revolt ; not as a genuine disciple, 
but as a German agent, with orders to foment disorder 
of any kind which might tend to embarrass and weaken 
the French government in this crisis." 

"You're inclined to believe that?" he asked, much 
interested. 

"Yes, I am. France is full of German agents; the 
Tuileries was not exempt you know it as well as I. 
Paris swarmed with spies of every kind, high and low 
in the social scale. The embassies were nests of spies ; 

315 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

every salon a breeding spot of intrigue; the foreign 
governments employed the grande dame as well as 
the grisette. Do you remember the military-balloon 
scandal?" 

" Indistinctly. . . . Some poor devil gave a woman 
government papers." 

"Technically they were government papers, but he 
considered them his own. Well, the woman who re 
ceived those papers is down-stairs." 

He gave a short whistle of astonishment. 

"You are sure, Scarlett?" 

"Perfectly certain." 

"Then, if you are certain, that settles the question 
of Mademoiselle Elven's present occupation." 

I rose and began to move around the room restlessly. 

" But, after all," I said, " that concerns us no longer." 

"How can it concern two Americans out of a job?" 
he observed, with a shrug. "The whole fabric of 
French politics is rotten to the foundation. It's totter 
ing; a shake will bring it down. Let it tumble. I 
tell you this nation needs the purification of fire. Our 
own country has just .gone through it ; France can do 
it, too. She's got to, or she's lost!" 

He looked at me earnestly. "I love the country," 
he said ; " it's fed me and harbored me. But I wouldn't 
lift a finger to put a single patch on this makeshift of 
a government; I wouldn't stave off the crash if I could. 
And it's coming! You and I have seen something of 
the rottenness of the underpinning which props up 
empires. You and I, Scarlett, have learned a few of 
the shameful secrets which even an enemy to France 
would not drag out into the daylight." 

I had never seen him so deeply moved. 

" Is there hope is there a glimmer of hope to incite 
anybody while these conditions endure?" he continued, 
bitterly. 

316 



A GUEST-CHAMBER 

" No. France must suffer, France must stand alone 
in terrible humiliation, France must offer the self- 
sacrifice of fire and mount the altar herself! 

"Then, and only then, shall the nation, purified, 
reborn, rise and live, and build again, setting a beacon 
of civilized freedom high as the beacon we Americans 
are raising, . . . slowly yet surely raising, to the glory 
of God, Scarlett to the glory of God. No other dedi 
cation can be justified in this world." 



XIX 

TRfiCOURT GARDEN 

ABOUT nine o'clock we were summoned by a Bre 
ton maid to the pretty breakfast-room below, and 
I was ashamed to go with my shabby clothes, ban 
daged head, and face the color of clay. 

The young countess was not present; Sylvia Elven 
offered us a supercilious welcome to a breakfast the 
counterpart of which I had not seen in years one of 
those American breakfasts which even we, since the 
Paris Exposition, are beginning to discard for the sim 
pler French breakfast of coffee and rolls. 

"This is all in your honor," observed Sylvia, turn 
ing up her nose at the array of poached eggs, fragrant 
sausages, crisp potatoes, piles of buttered toast, muf 
fins, marmalade, and fruit. 

"It was very kind of you to think of it," said Speed. 

"It is Madame de Vassart's idea, not mine," she 
observed, looking across the table at me. "Will the 
gentleman with nine lives have coffee or chocolate?" 

The fruit consisted of grapes and those winy Breton 
cider-apples from Bannalec. We began with these in 
decorous silence. 

Speed ventured a few comments on the cultivation of 
fruit, of which he knew nothing; neither he nor his 
subject was encouraged. 

Presently, however, Sylvia glanced up at him with 
a malicious smile, saying: "I notice that you have 



TRECOURT GARDEN 

been in the foreign division of the Imperial Military 
Police, monsieur." 

"Why do you think so?" asked Speed, calmly. 

"When you seated yourself in your chair," said 
Sylvia, "you made a gesture with your left hand 
as though to unhook the sabre which was not 
there." 

Speed laughed. "But why the police? I might 
have been in the cavalry, mademoiselle; for that mat 
ter, I might have been an officer in any arm of the ser 
vice. They all carry swords or sabres." 

"But only the military police and the gendarmerie 
wear aiguilettes," she replied. "When you bend 
over your plate your fingers are ever unconsciously 
searching for those swinging, gold-tipped cords to 
keep them out of your coffee-cup, monsieur." 

The muscles in Speed's lean, bronzed cheeks tight 
ened; he looked at her keenly. 

"Might I not have been in the gendarmerie?" he 
asked. " How do you know I was not?" 

"Does the gendarmerie wear the sabre-tache?" 

"No, mademoiselle, but " 

"Do the military police?" 

"No that is, the foreign division did, when it ex 
isted." 

"You are sitting, monsieur," she said, placidly, 
" with your left foot so far under the table that it quite 
inadvertently presses my shoe-tip." 

Speed withdrew his leg with a jerk, asking par 
don. 

"It is a habit perfectly pardonable in a man who is 
careful that his spur shall not scratch or tear a patent- 
leather sabre-tache," she said. 

I had absolutely nothing to say; we both laughed 
feebly, I believe. 

I saw temptation struggling with Speed's caution; 
319 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

I, too, was almost willing to drop a hint that might 
change her amusement to speculation, if not to alarm. 

So this was the woman for whose caprice Kelly Eyre 
had wrecked his prospects ! Clever oh, certainly 
clever. But she had made the inevitable slip that such 
clever people always make sooner or later. And in a 
bantering message to her victim she had completed 
the chain against herself a chain of which I might 
have been left in absolute ignorance. Impulse prob 
ably did it reasonless and perhaps malicious caprice 
the instinct of a pretty woman to stir up memory in 
a discarded and long - forgotten victim just to note 
the effect just to see if there still remains one nerve, 
one pulse-beat to respond. 

" Will the pensive gentleman with nine lives have a 
little more nourishment to sustain him?" she asked. 

Looking up from my empty plate, I declined politely ; 
and we followed her signal to rise. 

"There is a Mr. Kelly Eyre," she said to Speed, 
"connected with your circus. Has he gone with the 
others?" 

"Yes, mademoiselle." 

"Really?" she mused, amiably. "I knew him as a 
student in Paris, when he was very young and I was 
younger. I should have liked to have seen him 
once more." 

" Did you not see him?" I asked, abruptly. 

Her back was toward me; very deliberately she 
turned her pretty head and looked at me over her shoul 
der, studying my face a moment. 

" Yes, I saw him. I should have liked to have seen 
him once more," she said, as though she had first 
calculated the effect on me of a different reply. 

She led the way into that small room overlook 
ing the garden where I had been twice received by 
Madame de Vassart. Here she took leave of us, 

320 



TRECOURT GARDEN 

abandoning us to our own designs. Mine was to 
find a large arm-chair and sit down in it, and give 
Speed a few instructions. Speed's was to prowl 
around Paradise for information, and, if possible, 
telegraph to Lorient for troops to catch Buckhurst 
red-handed. 

He left me turning over the leaves of the " Chanson 
de Roland," saying that he would return in a little while 
with any news he might pick up, and that he would do 
his best to catch Buckhurst in the foolish trap which 
that gentleman had set for others. 

Tiring of the poem, I turned my eyes toward the 
garden, where, in the sunshine, heaps of crisped leaves 
lay drifted along the base of the wall or scattered be 
tween the rows of herbs which were still ripely green. 
The apricots had lost their leaves, so had the grape 
vines and the fig-trees; but the peach-trees were in 
foliage; pansies and perpetual roses bloomed amid 
sere and seedy thickets of larkspurs, phlox, and dead 
delphinium. 

On the wall a cat sat, sunning her sleek flanks. 
Something about the animal seemed familiar to me, 
and after a while I made up my mind that this was 
Ange Pitou, Jacqueline's pet, abandoned by her mis 
tress and now a feline derelict. Speed must have been 
mistaken when he told me that Jacqueline had taken 
her cat; or possibly the home-haunting instinct had 
brought the creature back, abandoning her mistress 
to her fortunes. 

If I had been in my own house I should have offered 
Ange Pitou hospitality; as it was, I walked out into 
the sunny garden and made courteous advances which 
were ignored. I watched the cat for a few moments, 
then sat down on the bench. The inertia which fol 
lows recovery from a shock, however light, left me 
with the lazy acquiescence of a convalescent, willing 

321 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

to let the world drift for an hour or two, contented to 
relax, apathetic, comfortable. 

Seaward the gulls sailed like white feathers float 
ing ; the rocky ramparts of Groix rose clear-cut against 
a horizon where no haze curtained the sea; the break 
ers had receded from the coast on a heavy ebb-tide, 
and I saw them in frothy outline, noiselessly churning 
the shallows beyond the outer bar. 

And then my reverie ended abruptly; a step on the 
gravel walk brought me to my feet. . . . There she 
stood, lovely in a fresh morning-gown deeply belted 
with turquoise-shells, her ruddy hair glistening, coiled 
low on a neck of snow. 

For the first time she showed embarrassment in her 
greeting, scarcely touching my hand, speaking with 
a new constraint in a voice which grew colder as she 
hesitated. 

" We were frightened ; we are so glad that you were 
not badly hurt. I thought you might find it comfort 
able here of course I could not know that you were 
not seriously injured." 

"That is fortunate for me," I said, pleasantly, "for 
I am afraid you would not have offered this shelter if 
you had known how little injured I really was." 

"Yes, I should have offered it had I reason to be 
lieve you would have accepted. I have felt that per 
haps you might think what I have done was unwar 
ranted." 

" I think you did the most graciously unselfish thing 
a woman could do," I said, quickly. "You offered 
your best; and the man who took it cannot dare not 
express his gratitude." 

The emotion in my voice warned me to cease; the 
faintest color tinted her cheeks, and she looked at me 
with beautiful, grave eyes that slowly grew inscrutable, 
leaving me standing diffident and silent before her. 

322 



TRECOURT GARDEN 

The breeze shifted, bringing with it the hollow sea- 
thunder. She turned her head and glanced out across 
the ocean, hands behind her, fingers linked. 

"I have come here into your garden uninvited/' I 
said. 

"Shall we sit here a moment?" she suggested, 
without turning. 

Presently she seated herself in one corner of the 
bench; her gaze wandered over the partly blighted 
garden, then once more centred on the seaward sky 
line. 

The color of her hands, her neck, fascinated me. 
That flesh texture of snow and roses, firmly and deli 
cately modelled, which sometimes is seen with red 
hair, I had seen once before in a picture by a Spanish 
master, but never, until now, in real life. 

And she was life incarnate in her wholesome beauty 
a beauty of which I had perceived only the sad shadow 
at La Trappe a sweet, healthy, exquisite woman, 
moulded, fashioned, colored by a greater Master than 
the Spanish painter dreaming of perfection centuries 
ago. 

In the sun a fragrance grew the subtle incense 
from her gown perhaps from her hair. 

"Autumn is already gone; we are close to winter," 
she said, under her breath. "See, there is nothing 
left scarcely a blossom a rose or two; but the first 
frost will scatter the petals. Look at the pinks; look 
at the dead leaves. Ah, tristesse, tristesse! The life 
of summer is too short ; the life of flowers is too short ; 
so are our lives, Monsieur Scarlett. Do you believe it?" 

"Yes now." 

She was very still for a while, her head bent toward 
the sea. Then, without turning : " Have you not al 
ways believed it?" 

"No, madame." 

323 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

"Then . . . why do you believe it ... now?" 

"Because, since we have become friends, life seems 
pitiably short for such a friendship." 

She smiled without moving. 

" That is a ... very beautiful . . . compliment, mon 
sieur." 

"It owes its beauty to its truth, madame." 

"And that reply is illogical," she said, turning to 
look at me with brilliant eyes and a gay smile which 
emphasized the sensitive mouth's faint droop. "Il 
logical, because truth is not always beautiful. As 
example: you were very near to death yesterday. 
That is the truth, but it is not beautiful at all." 

"Ah, madame, it is you who are illogical," I said, 
laughing. 

"I?" she cried. "Prove it!" 

But I would not, spite of her challenge and bright 
mockery. 

In that flash all of our comradeship returned, bring 
ing with it something new, which I dared not think was 
intimacy. 

Yet constraint fell away like a curtain between us, 
and though she dominated, and I was afraid lest I 
overstep limits which I myself had set, the charm of 
her careless confidence, her pretty, undissembled ca 
prices, her pleasure in a delicately intimate badinage, 
gave me something of a self-reliance, a freedom that I 
had not known in a woman's presence for many years. 

"We brought you here because we thought it was 
good for you," she said, reverting maliciously to the 
theme that had at first embarrassed her. "We were 
perfectly certain that you have always been unfit to 
take care of yourself. Now we have the proofs." 

" Mademoiselle Elven said that you harbored us only 
because you were afraid of those bandits who have 
arrived in Paradise," I observed. 

324 



TRECOURT GARDEN 

"Afraid!" she said, scornfully. "Oh, you are mak 
ing fun of me now. Indeed, when Mr. Buckhurst 
came last night I had my men conduct him to the 
outer gate!" 

"Did he come last night?" I asked, troubled. 

"Yes." She shrugged her pretty shoulders. 

"Alone?" 

" That unspeakable creature, Mornac, was with him. 
I had no idea he was here ; had you?" 

I was silent. Did Mornac mean trouble for me? 
Yet how could he, shorn now of all authority? 

The thought seemed to occur to her, too, and she 
looked up quickly, asking if I had anything to fear. 

"Only for you," I said. 

"For me? Why? I am not afraid of such men. 
I have servants on whom I can call to disembarrass 
me of such people." She hesitated; the memory of 
her deception, of what she had suffered at Buckhurst's 
hands, brought a glint of anger into her beautiful eyes. 

"My innocence shames me," she said. "I merited 
what I received in such company. It was you who 
saved me from myself." 

"A noble mind thinks nobly," I said. "Theirs is 
the shame, not yours, that you could not understand 
treachery that you never can understand it. As for 
me, I was an accident, which warned you in time that 
all the world was not as good and true as you desired 
to believe it." 

She sat looking at me curiously. "I wonder," she 
said, "why it is that you do not know your own 
value?" 

"My value to whom?" 

"To ... everybody to the world to people." 

"Am I of any value to you, madame?" 

The pulsing moments passed and she did not answer, 
and I bit my lip and waited. At last she said, coolly : 

325 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

" A man must appraise himself. If he chooses, he is 
valuable. But values are comparative, and depend 
on individual taste. . . . Yes, you are of some value 
to me, ... or I should not be here with you, ... or I 
should not find it my pleasure to be here or I should 
not trust you, come to you with my petty troubles, ask 
your experience to help me, perhaps protect me." 

She bent her head with adorable diffidence. "Mon 
sieur Scarlett, I have never before had a friend who 
thought first of me and last of himself." 

I leaned on the back of the bench, resting my ban 
daged forehead on my hand. 

She looked up after a moment, and her face grew 
serious. 

"Are you suffering?" she asked. "Your face is 
white as my sleeve." 

"I feel curiously tired," I said, smiling. 

"Then you must have some tea, and I will brew it 
myself. You shall not object! No it is useless, be 
cause I am determined. And you shall lie down in 
the little tea-room, where I found you that day when 
you first came to Trecourt." 

"I shall be very happy to do anything if you are 
there." 

"Even drink tea when you abhor it? Then I cer 
tainly ought to reward you with my presence at the 
rite. . . . Are you dizzy? You are terribly pale. . . . 
Would you lean on my arm?" 

I was not dizzy, but I did so; and if such deceit is 
not pardonable, there is no justice in this world or in 
the next. 

The tea was hot and harmless; I lay thinking while 
she sat in the sunny window-corner, nibbling biscuit 
and marmalade, and watching me gravely. 

"My appetite is dreadful in these days," she said; 
"age increases it; I have just had my chocolate, yet 

326 



TRECOURT GARDEN 

here am I, eating like a school-girl. ... I have a strange 
idea that I am exceedingly 3 7 oung, . . . that I am just 
beginning to live. That tired, thin, shabby girl you 
saw at La Trappe was certainly not I. ... And long 
before that, before I knew you, there was another im 
personal, half - awakened creature, who watched the 
world surging and receding around her, who grew 
tired even of violets and bonbons, tired of the compan 
ionship of the indifferent, hurt by the intimacy of the 
unfriendly; and I cannot believe that she was I. ... 
Can you?" 

"I can believe it; I once saw you then/' I said. 

She looked up quickly. "Where?" 

"In Paris." 

"When?" 

"The day that they received the news from Mexico. 
You sat in your carriage before the gates of the war 
office." 

"I remember," she said, staring at me. Then a 
slight shudder passed over her. 

Presently she said: "Did you recognize me after 
ward at La Trappe?" 

"Yes, . . . you had grown more beautiful." 

She colored and bent her head. 

"You remembered me all that time? . . . But why 
didn't you didn't you " She laughed nervously. 
"Why didn't we know each other in those years? 
Truly, Monsieur Scarlett, I needed a friend then, if 
ever ; . . . a friend who thought first of me and last of 
himself." 

I did not answer. 

"Fancy," she continued, "your passing me so long 
ago, . . . and I totally unconscious, sitting there in my 
carriage, . . . never dreaming of this friendship which 
I ... care for so much! ... Do you remember at La 
Trappe what I told you, there on the staircase? how 

327 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

sometimes the impulse used to come to me when I saw 
a kindly face in the street to cry out, ' Be friends with 
me!' Do you remember? ... It is strange that I did 
not feel that impulse when you passed me that day in 
Paris feel it even though I did not see you for I 
sorely needed kindness then, kindness and wisdom; 
and both passed by, at my elbow, . . . and I did not 
know." She bent her head, smiling with an effort. 
"You should have thrown yourself astride the horse 
and galloped away with me. . . . They did those things 
once, Monsieur Scarlett on this very spot, too, in the 
days of the Saxon pirates." 

The whirring monotone of the spinning-wheel sud 
denly filled the house ; Sylvia was singing at her wheel : 

" Woe to the maids of Paradise ! 

Yvonne ! 
Twice have the Saxons landed ; twice 1 

Yvonne ! 
Yet shall Paradise see them thrice, 

Yvonne! Yvonne! Marivonikl" 

"The prophecy of that Breton spinning song is 
being fulfilled," I said. "For the third time we Sax 
ons have come to Paradise, you see." 

"But this time our Saxons are not very formidable," 
she said, raising her beautiful gray eyes; "and the 
gwerz says, 'Woe to the maids of Paradise!' Do you 
intend to bring woe upon us maids of Paradise do you 
come to carry us off, monsieur?" 

" If you will go with me," I said, smiling. 

"All of us?" 

"Only one, madame." 

She started to speak, then her eyes fell. She laughed 
uncertainly. "Which one among us, if you please 
mizilour skier ha brillant deuz ar fidelite?" 

"Met na varwin Ket Kontant, ma na varwan fidel," 
328 



TRECOURT GARDEN 

I said, slowly, as the words of the song came back to 
me. "I shall choose only the fairest and loveliest, 
madame. You know it is always that way in the story. " 
My voice was not perfectly steady, nor was hers when 
she smiled and wished me happiness and a long life 
with the maid of Paradise I had chosen, even though I 
took her by force. 

Then constraint crept in between us, and I was grimly 
weighing the friendship this woman had given me 
weighing it in the balance against a single hope. 

Once she looked across at me with questioning eyes 
in which I thought I read dawning disappointment. 
It almost terrified me. ... I could not lose her con 
fidence, ... I could not, and go through life without 
it. ... But I could live a hopeless life to its end with 
that confidence. . . . And I must do so, ... and be 
content. 

"I suppose," said I, thinking aloud, "that I had 
better go to England." 

"When?" she asked, without raising her head. 

"In a day or two. I can find employment there, I 
think." 

"Is it necessary that you find employment ... so 
soon?" 

"Yes," I said, with a meaningless laugh, "I fear it 
is." 

"What will you do?" 

"Oh, the army horses something of that kind. 
Riding-master, perhaps perhaps Scotland Yard. I 
may not be able to pick and choose. ... If I ever save 
enough money for the voyage, perhaps you would let 
me come, once in a long while, to pay my respects, 
madame?" 

"Yes, . . . come, if you wish." 

She said no more, nor did I. Presently Sylvia ap 
peared with a peasant woman, and the young countess 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

went away, followed by the housekeeper with her keys 
at her girdle. 

I rose and walked to the window; then, nerveless 
and depressed, I went out into the garden again to 
smoke a cigar. 

The cat had disappeared; I traversed the garden, 
passed through the side wicket, and found myself on 
the cliffs. Almost immediately I was aware of a young 
girl, a child, seated on the rocks, her chin propped on 
her hands, the sea-wind blowing her curly elf-locks 
across her cheeks and eyes. A bundle tied in a hand 
kerchief lay beside her ; a cat dozed in her lap, its sleek 
fur stirring in the wind. 

"Jacqueline!" I said, gently. 

She raised her head; the movement awakened the 
cat, who stood up in her lap, stretching and yawning 
vigorously. 

"I thought you were to sail from Lorient to-day?" 

The cat stepped purring from her knees; the child 
rose, pushing back her hair from her eyes with both 
hands. 

"Where is Speed?" she asked, drowsily. 

"Did you want to see him, Jacqueline?" 

"That is why I returned." 

"To see Speed?" 

"Parbleu." 

"And you are going to let the others sail without 
you?" 

"Yes." 

"And give up the circus forever, Jacqueline?" 

"Y-es." 

"Just because you want to see Speed?" 

"Only for that." 

She stood rubbing her eyes with her small fists, as 
though just awakened. 

"Oui," she said, without emotion, "c'est comme ca, 
330 



TRECOURT GARDEN 



m'sieu. Where the heart is, happiness lies. I left 
the others at the city gate; I said, 'Voyons, let us be 
reasonable, gentlemen. I am happy in your circus; 
I am happy with Speed; I can be contented without 
your circus, but I cannot be contented without Speed. 
Voila!' ... and then I went." 

" You walked back all the way from Lorient?" 

"Bien sur! I have no carriage I, Jacqueline." 
She stretched her slim figure, raised her arms slowly, 
and yawned. "Pardon," she murmured, "I have 
slept in the gorse badly." 

"Come into the garden," I said; "we can talk while 
you rest." 

She thanked me tranquilly, picked up her bundle, 
and followed me with a slight limp. The cat, tail up, 
came behind. 

The young countess was standing at the window 
as we approached in solemn single file along the path, 
and when she caught sight of us she opened the door 
and stepped out on the tiny porch. 

" Why, this is our little Jacqueline," she said, quick 
ly. " They have taken your father for the conscription, 
have they not, my child? And now you are homeless ! " 

"I think so, madame." 

" Then you will stay with me until he returns, won't 
you, little one?" 

There was a moment's pause; Jacqueline made a 
grave gesture. "This is my cat, madame Ange 
Pitou." 

The countess stared at the cat, then broke out into 
the prettiest peal of laughter. "Of course you must 
bring your cat ! My invitation is also for Ange Pitou, 
you understand." 

"Then we thank you, and permit ourselves to ac 
cept, madame," said Jacqueline. "We are very glad 
because we are quite hungry, and we have thorns 

331 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

from the gorse in our feet " She broke off with 
a joyous little cry: "There is Speed!" And Speed, 
entering the garden hurriedly, stopped short in his 
tracks. 

The child ran to him and threw both arms around 
his neck. "Oh, Speed! Speed!" she stammered, over 
and over again. " I was too lonely ; I will do what 
you wish; I will be instructed in the graces of edu 
cation truly I will. I am glad to come back and 
I -am so tired, Speed. I will never go away from you 
again. . . . Oh, Speed, I am contented! ... Do you 
love me?" 

" Dearly, little sweetheart," he said, huskily, trying 
to steady his voice. " There ! Madame the countess 
is waiting. All will be well now." He turned, smil 
ing, toward the young countess, and lifted his hat, 
then stepped back and fixed me with a blank look of 
dismay, which said perfectly plainly that he had un 
pleasant news to communicate. The countess, I think, 
saw that look, too, for she gave me an almost imper 
ceptible nod and took Jacqueline's hand in hers. 

" If there are thorns in your feet we must find them," 
she said, sweetly. "Will you come, Jacqueline?" 

"Yes, madame," said the child, with an adoring 
smile at Speed, who bent and kissed her upturned face 
as she passed. 

They went into the house, the countess holding 
Jacqueline's thorn-scratched hand, the cat following, 
perfectly self-possessed, to the porch, where she halted 
and sat down, surveying the landscape with dignified 
indifference. 

" Well," said I, turning to Speed, " what new deviltry 
is going on in Paradise now?" 

"Preparations for train- wrecking, I should say," he 
replied, bluntly. " They are tinkering with the trestle. 
Buckhurst's ragamuffins have just seized the railroad 

332 



TRECOURT GARDEN 

station at Rose - Sainte - Anne, where the main line 
crosses, you know, near the ravine at Lammerin. I 
was sure there was something extraordinary going to 
happen, so I went down to the river, hailed Jeanne 
Rolland, the passeuse, and had her ferry me over to 
Bois-Gilbert. Then I made for the telegraph, gave 
the operator ten francs to let me work the keys, and 
called up the arsenal at Lorient. But it was no use, 
Scarlett, the governor of Lorient can't spare a soldier 
not a single gendarme. It seems that Uhlans have 
been signalled north of Quimper, and Lorient is fran 
tic, and the garrison is preparing to stand siege." 

"You mean," I said, indignantly, "that they're not 
going to try to catch Buckhurst and Mornac?" 

"That's what I mean; they're scared as rabbits 
over these rumors of Uhlans in the west and north." 

"Well," said I, disgusted, "it appears to me that 
Buckhurst is going to get off scot-free this time and 
Mornac, too! Did you know that Mornac was here?" 

"Know it? I saw him an hour ago, marshalling a 
new company of malcontents in the square a bad lot, 
Scarlett deserters from Chanzy's army, from Bour- 
baki, from Garibaldi a hundred or more line soldiers, 
dragoons without horses, francs-tireurs, Garibaldians, 
even a Turco, from Heaven knows where bad soldiers 
who disgrace France marauders, cowardly, skulking 
mobiles a sweet lot, Scarlett, to be let loose in Madame 
de Vassart's vicinity." 

"I think so, too," I said, seriously. 

" And I earnestly agree with you," muttered Speed. 
"That's all I have to report, except that your friend, 
Robert the Lizard, is out yonder flat on his belly under 
a gorse-bush, and he wants to see you." 

"The Lizard!" I exclaimed. "Come on, Speed. 
Where is he?" 

" Yonder, clothed in somebody's line uniform. He's 

333 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

one of them. Scarlett, do you trust him? He has a 
rifle." 

"Yes, yes/' I said, impatiently. "Come on, man! 
It's all right ; the fellow is watching Buckhurst for me." 
And I gave Speed a nervous push toward the moors. 
We started, Speed ostentatiously placing his revolver 
in his side-pocket so that he could shoot through his 
coat if necessary. I walked beside him, closely scan 
ning the stretch of open moor for a sign of life, knowing 
all the while that it is easier to catch moon-beams in a 
net than to find a poacher in the bracken. But Speed 
had marked him down as he might mark a squatting 
quail, and suddenly we flushed him, rifle clapped to 
his shoulder. 

"None of that, my friend," growled Speed; but the 
poacher at sight of me had already lowered the weapon. 

I greeted him frankly, offering my hand ; he took it, 
then his hard fist fell away and he touched his cap. 

"I have done what you wanted," he said, sullenly. 
"I have the company's rolls here they are." He 
dragged from his baggy trousers pockets a mass of 
filthy papers, closely covered with smeared writing. 
" Here is the money, too," he said, fishing in the other 
pocket; and, to my astonishment, he produced a flat 
tened, soiled mass of bank-notes. "Count it," he 
added, calmly. 

" What money is that?" I asked, taking it reluctantly. 

" Didn't you warn me to get that box the steel box 
that Tric-Trac sat down on when he saw me?" 

"Is that money from the box?" I exclaimed. 

" Yes, m'sieu. I could not bring the box, and there 
had been enough blood shed over it already. Besides, 
when Buckhurst broke it open there was only a bit of 
iron for the scrap-heap left." 

I touched Speed's arm to call his attention ; the poach 
er shrugged his shoulders and continued : " Tric-Trac 

334 



TRECOURT GARDEN 

made no ceremony with me; he told me that he and 
Buckhurst had settled this Dr. Delmont, and the other 
the professor Ta vernier. ' ' 

"Murdered them?" muttered Speed. 

"Dame! the coup du Pere Francois is murder, I 
suppose." 

Speed turned to me. "That's the argot for stran 
gling," he said, grimly. 

"Go on," I motioned to the poacher. "How did 
you get the money?" 

"Oh, pour ca in my turn I turned sonneur," he 
replied, with a savage smile. 

A sonneur, in thieves' slang, is a creature of the 
footpad type who, tripping his victim flat, seizes him 
by the shoulders and beats his head against the pave 
ment until he renders him unconscious if he doesn't 
kill him. 

"It was pay-day," continued the Lizard. "Buck- 
hurst opened the box and I heard him he hammered it 
open with a cold chisel. I was standing guard on the 
forest's edge; I crept back, hearing the hammering 
and the little bell ringing the Angelus of Tric-Trac. 
It was close to dusk; by the time he got into the box 
it was dark in the woods, and it was easy to jump on 
his back and strike not very hard, m'sieu but, I 
tell you, Buckhurst lay for two days with eyes like a 
sick owl's ! He knew one of his own men had done it. 
He never said a word, but I know he thinks it was 
Tric-Trac. . . . And when he is ready bon soir, Tric- 
Trac!" 

He drew his right hand across his corded throat with 
a horridly suggestive motion. Speed watched him 
narrowly. 

I asked the poacher why Buckhurst had come to 
Paradise, and why his banditti had seized the railroad 
at Rose-Sainte-Anne. 

335 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

"Ah," cried the Lizard, with a ferocious leer, "that 
is the kernel under the limpet's tent! And I have 
uncovered it I, Robert Garenne, bon sang de Jesu!" 

He stretched out his powerful arm toward the sea. 
"Where is that cruiser, m'sieu? Gone? Yes, but 
who sent her off? Buckhurst, with his new signal- 
book! Where? In chase of a sea-swallow, or a frigate 
(bird). Who knows? Listen, messieurs! We are to 
wreck the train for Brest to-night. Do you compre 
hend?" 

"Where?" I asked, quietly. 

"Just where the trestle at Lammerin crosses the 
ravine below the house of Josephine Tanguy." 

Speed looked around at me. " It's the treasure-train 
from Lorient. They're probably sending the crown 
diamonds back to Brest in view of the Uhlans being 
seen near Quimper." 

"On a false order?" 

"I believe so. I believe that Buckhurst sent the 
cruiser to Brest, and now he's started the treasure- 
trains back to Brest in a panic." 

"That is the truth," said the Lizard; "Tric-Trac 
told me. They have the code-book of Mornac." His 
eyes began to light up with that terrible anger as the 
name of his blood enemy fell from his lips; his nose 
twitched ; his upper lip wrinkled into a snarl. 

I thought quietly for a moment, then asked the 
poacher whether there was a guard at the semaphore 
of Saint-Yssel. 

" Yes, the soldier Rolland, who says he understands 
the telegraph a sot from Morlaix." He hesitated 
and looked across the open moor toward Paradise. 
"I must go," he muttered; "I am on guard yonder." 

I offered him my hand again ; he took it, looking me 
sincerely in the eyes. 

"Let your private wrongs wait a little longer," I 
336 



TRECOURT GARDEN 

said. "I think we can catch Buckhurst and Mornac 
alive. Do you promise?" 

"Y-es," he replied. 

"Strike, then, like a Breton!" 

We struck palms heavily. Then he turned to Speed 
and motioned him to retire. 

Speed walked slowly toward a half-buried bowlder 
and sat down out of ear- shot. 

"For your sake/' said the poacher, clutching my 
hand in a tightening grip "for your sake I have let 
Mornac go let him pass me at arm's-length, and did 
not strike. You have dealt openly by me and justly. 
No man can say I betrayed friendship. But I swear 
to you that if you miss him this time, I shall not miss 
I, Robert the Lizard!" 

"You mean to kill Mornac?" I asked. 

His eyes blazed. 

" Ami," he said, " I once spoke of ' a little red deer,' 
and you half understood me, for you are wise in strange 
ways, as I am." 

"I remember," I said. 

His strong fingers closed tighter on my hand. 
"Woman or doe it's all one now; and I am out of 
prison the prison he sent me to! Do you understand 
that he wronged me me, the soldier Garenne, in gar 
rison at Vincennes; he, the officer, the aristocrat?" 

He choked, crushing my hand in a spasmodic grip. 
"Ami, the little red deer was beautiful to me. He 
took her the doe a silly maid of Paradise and I 
was in irons, m'sieu, for three years." 

He glared at vacancy, tears falling from his staring 
eyes. 

"Your wife?" I asked, quietly. 

"Yes, ami." 

He dropped my numbed fingers and rubbed his eyes 
with the back of his big hand. 

337 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

"Then Jacqueline is not your little daughter?" I 
asked, gravely. 

" Hers not mine. That has been the most terrible 
of all for me since she died died so young, too, m'sieu 
and all alone in Paris. If he had not done that 
if he had been kind to her. And she was only a child, 
ami, yet he left her." 

All the ferocity in his eyes was gone; he raised a 
vacant, grief -lined visage to meet mine, and stood 
stupidly, heavy hands hanging. 

Then, shoulders sloping, he shambled off into the 
thicket, trailing his battered rifle. 

When he was very far away I motioned to Speed. 

" I think," said I, " that we had better try to do some 
thing at the semaphore if we are going to stop that 
train in time." 



XX 

THE SEMAPHORE 

THE telegraph station at the semaphore was a 
little, square, stone hut, roofed with slate, perched 
high on the cliffs. A sun-scorched, wooden signal- 
tower rose in front of it ; behind it a line of telegraph 
poles stretched away into perspective across the moors. 
Beyond the horizon somewhere lay the war-port of 
Lorient, with its arsenal, armed redoubts, and heavy 
bastions; beyond that was war. 

While we plodded on, hip deep, through gorse and 
thorn and heath, we cautiously watched a spot of red 
moving to and fro in front of the station; and as we 
drew nearer we could see the sentry very distinctly, 
rifle slung muzzle down, slouching his beat in the 
sunshine. 

He was a slovenly specimen, doubtless a deserter 
from one of the three provincial armies now forming 
for the hopeless dash at Belfort and the German eastern 
communications. 

When Speed and I emerged from the golden gorse 
into plain view the sentinel stopped in his tracks, 
shoved his big, red hands into his trousers pockets, 
and regarded us sulkily. 

"What are you going to do with this gentleman?" 
whispered Speed. 

"Reason with him, first," I said; "a louis is worth 
a dozen kicks." 

339 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

The soldier left his post as we started toward him, 
and advanced, blinking in the strong sunshine, meeting 
us half-way. 

"Now, bourgeois," he said, shaking his unkempt 
head, "this won't do, you know. Orders are to keep 
off. And," he added, in a bantering tone, "I'm here 
to enforce them. Aliens! En route, mes amis!" 

"Are you the soldier Holland?" I asked. 

He admitted that he was with prompt profanity, 
adding that if we didn't like his name we had only to 
tell him so and he would arrange the matter. 

I told him that we approved not only his name but 
his personal appearance; indeed, so great was our ad 
miration for him that we had come clear across the 
Saint -Yssel moor expressly to pay our compliments 
to him in the shape of a hundred-franc note. I drew 
it from the soiled roll the Lizard had intrusted to me, 
and displayed it for the sentinel's inspection. 

"Is that for me?" he demanded, unconvinced, plain 
ly suspicious of being ridiculed. 

"Under certain conditions," I said, "these five louis 
are for you." 

The soldier winked. "I know what you want; you 
want to go in yonder and use the telegraph. What 
the devil," he burst out, "do all you bourgeois want 
with that telegraph in there?" 

"Has anybody else asked to use it?" I inquired, 
disturbed. 

"Anybody else?" he mimicked. "Well, I think so ; 
there's somebody in there now here, give your hun 
dred francs or I tell you nothing, you understand!" 

I handed him the soiled note. He scanned it with 
the inborn distrust of the true malefactor, turned it 
over and over, and finally, pronouncing it " en rgle," 
shoved it cheerfully into the lining of his red forage 
cap. 

340 



THE SEMAPHORE 

" A hundred more if you answer my questions truth 
fully/' I said, amiably. 

" 'Cre cochon!" he blurted out; "fire at will, com 
rade! I'll sell you the whole cursed semaphore for a 
hundred more! What can I do for you, captain?" 

" Who is in that hut?" 

"A lady she comes often she gives ten francs 
each time. Zut! what is ten francs when a gentle 
man gives a hundred! She pays me for my complai 
sance bon! Place aux dames! You pay me better 
bon! I'm yours, gentlemen. War is war, but money 
pulls the trigger!" 

The miserable creature cocked his forage-cap with a 
toothless smirk and twisted his scant mustache. 

" Who is this lady who pays you ten francs?" I asked. 

" I do not know her name but," he added, with an 
offensive leer, " she's worth looking over by gentlemen 
like you. Do you want to see her? She's in there 
click-clicking away on the key with her pretty little 
fingers bon sang! A morsel for a king, gentlemen." 

"Wait here," I said, disgusted, and walked toward 
the stone station. The treacherous cur came running 
after me. "There's a side door," he whispered; "step 
in there behind the partition and take a look at her. 
She'll be done directly: she never stays more than 
fifteen minutes. Then you can use the telegraph at 
your pleasure, captain." 

The side door was partly open; I stepped in noise 
lessly and found myself in a small, dusky closet, par 
titioned from the telegraph office. Immediately the 
rapid clicking of the Morse instrument came to my 
ears, and mechanically I read the message by the 
sound as it rattled on under the fingers of an expert : 

" Must have already found out that the signals 
were not authorized by the government. Before the 
Fer-de-Lance returns to her station the German cruiser 

341 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

ought to intercept her off Groix. Did you arrange for 
this?" 

There was a moment's silence, then back came rat 
tling the reply in the Morse code, but in German : 

"Yes, all is arranged. The Augusta took a French 
merchant vessel off Pont Aven yesterday. The Au 
gusta ought to pass Groix this evening. You are to 
burn three white lights from Point Paradise if a land 
ing-party is needed. It rests with you entirely." 

Another silence, then the operator in the next room 
began: 

" You say that Lorient is alarmed by rumors of Uh 
lans, and therefore sends the treasure-train back to Brest. 
The train, you assure me, carries the diamonds of the 
crown, bar-silver, gold, the Venus of Milo, and ten battle- 
flags from the Invalides. Am I correct?" 

"Yes." 

" The insurgents here, under an individual in our pay, 
one John Buckhurst, are preparing to wreck the train 
at the Lammerin trestle. 

" If the Augusta can reach Point Paradise to-night, 
a landing-party could easily scatter these insurgents, 
seize the treasures, and re-embark in safety. 

" There is, you declare, nothing to fear from Lorient ; 
the only thing, then, to be dreaded is the appearance 
of the Fer-de-Lance off Groix. She is not now in sight ; 
I will notify you if she appears. If she does not come 
I will burn three white lights in triangle on Paradise 
headland." 

A short pause, then : 

"Are there any Prussian cavalry near enough to 
help us?" 

And the answer: 

" Prussian dragoons are scouting toward Bannalec. 
I will send a messenger to them if I can. This is all. 
Be careful. Good-bye." 

342 



THE SEMAPHORE 

"Good-bye," clicked the instrument in the next 
room. There was a rustle of skirts, a tap of small 
shoes on the stone floor. I leaned forward and looked 
through the little partition window ; Sylvia Elven stood 
by the table, quietly drawing on her gloves. Her face 
was flushed and thoughtful. 

Slowly she walked toward the door, hesitated, turn 
ed, hurried back to the instrument, and set the switch. 
Then, without seating herself, she leaned over and gave 
the station call, three S's. 

" I forgot to say that the two Yankee officers of mili 
tary police, Scarlett and Speed, are a harmless pair. 
You have nothing to fear from them. Good-bye." 

And the reply : 

"Watch them all the same. Be careful, madame, 
they are Yankees. Good-bye." 

When she had gone, closing the outer door behind 
her, I sprang to the ke}^, switched on, rattled out the 
three S's and got my man, probably before he had 
taken three steps from his table. 

"I forgot to say," I telegraphed, using a light, rapid 
touch to imitate Sylvia's "I forgot to say that, in 
case the treasure-train is held back to-night, the Au 
gusta must run for the English Channel." 

" What's that?" came back the jerky reply. 

I repeated. 

"Donnerwetter!" rattled the wires. "The entire 
French iron-clad fleet is looking for her." 

" And I hope they catch her," I telegraphed. 

"Are you crazy?" came the frantic reply. "Who 
are you?" 

"A Yankee, idiot!" I replied. "Run for your life, 
you hopeless ass!" 

There was, of course, no reply, though I sent a few 
jocular remarks flying after what must have been the 
most horrified German spy south of Metz. 

343 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

Then, at a venture, I set the switch on the arsenal 
line, got a quick reply, and succeeded in alarming 
them sufficiently, I think, for in a few moments I was 
telegraphing directly to the governor of Lorient, and 
the wires grew hot with an interchange of observa 
tions, which resulted in my running to the locker, 
tumbling out all the signal bunting, cones, and balls, 
sorting five flags, two red cones, and a ball, and has 
tening out to the semaphore. 

Speed and the soldier Holland saw me set the cones, 
hoist away, break out the flags on the halyards, and 
finally drop the white arm of the semaphore. 

I had set the signal for the Fer-de-Lance to land in 
force and wipe Buckhurst and his grotesque crew from 
the face of the earth. 

"Holland," I said, "here is another hundred francs. 
Watch that halyard and guard it. To-night you will 
string seven of those little lamps on this other halyard, 
light them, hoist them, and then go up that tower and 
light the three red lamps on the left." 

" 'Tendu," he said, promptly. 

"If you do it I will give you two hundred francs 
to-morrow. Is it a bargain?" 

The soldier broke out into a torrent of promises which 
I cut short. 

" That lady will never come here again, I think. If 
she does, she must not touch those halyards. Do 
you hear? If she offers you money, remember I will 
double it. But, Holland, if you lie to me I will have 
you killed as the Bretons kill pigs; you understand 
how that is done?" 

He said that he understood, and followed us, fawn 
ing and whining his cow^ardly promises of fidelity 
until we ordered the wretch back to the post which he 
had already twice betrayed, and would certainly be 
tray again if the opportunity offered. 

344 



THE SEMAPHORE 

Walking fast over the springy heath, I told Speed 
briefly what I had done that the treasure-train would 
not now leave Lorient, that as soon as the Fer-de- 
Lance came in sight of the semaphore Buckhurst's 
game must come to an end. 

Far ahead of us we saw the flutter of a light dress on 
the moor; Sylvia Elven, the spy, was going home; 
and from the distance, across the yellow - flowered 
gorse, her gay song floated back to us : 

" Those who die for a maid 

Are paid; 
Those who die for a creed 

God-speed ; 

Those who die for their own dear land 
Shall stand forever on God's right hand I " 

"A spy!" muttered Speed. 

"I think," said I, "that she had better leave Para 
dise at once. Oh, the little fool, to risk all for a caprice 
for a word to the poor fellow she ruined! Vanity 
does it every time, Speed." 

"I don't understand what you mean," he said. 

"No, and I can't explain," I replied, thinking of 
Kelly Eyre. " But Sylvia Elven is running a fearful 
risk here. Mornac knows her record. Buckhurst 
would betray her in a moment if he thought it might 
save his own skin. She ought to leave before the 
Fer-de-Lance sights the semaphore and reads the sig 
nal to land in force." 

"Then you'll have to tell her," he said, gloomily. 

"I suppose so," I replied, not at all pleased. For 
the prospect of humiliating her, of proving to this 
woman that I was not as stupid as she believed me, gave 
me no pleasure. Rather was I sorry for her, sorry 
for the truly pitiable condition in which she must now 
find herself. 

345 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

As we reached the gates of Tr6court, dusty and 
tired from our moorland tramp, I turned and looked 
back. My signal was still set; the white arm of 
the semaphore glistened like silver against a brilliant 
sky of sapphire. Seaward I could see no sign of the 
Fer-de-Lance. 

" The guns I heard at sea must have been fired from 
the German cruiser Augusta," I suggested to Speed. 

"She's been hovering off the coast, catching French 
merchant craft. I wish to goodness the Fer-de-Lance 
would come in and give her a drubbing." 

"Oh, rubbish!" he said. "What the deuce do we 
care?" 

"It's human to take sides in this war, isn't it?" I 
insisted. 

" Considering the fashion in which France has treated 
us individually, it seems to me that we may as well 
take the German side," he said. 

"Are you going to?" I asked. 

He hesitated. "Oh, hang it all, no! There's some 
thing about France that holds us poor devils I don't 
know what. Barring England, she's the only human 
nation in the whole snarling pack. Here's to her 
damn her impudence! If she wants me she can have 
me empire, kingdom, or republic. Vive anything 
as long as it's French!" 

I was laughing when we entered the court; Jacque 
line, her big, furry cat in her arms, came to the door 
and greeted Speed with : 

"You have been away a very long time, and the 
thorns are all out of my arms and my legs, and I have 
been desiring to see you. Come into the house and 
read shall we?" 

Speed turned to me with an explanatory smile. " I've 
been reading the ' Idyls ' aloud to her in English/' he 
said, rather shyly. " She seems to like them ; it's the 

346 



THE SEMAPHORE 

noble music that attracts her; she can't understand 
ten words." 

"I can understand nearly twenty/' she said, flush 
ing painfully. 

Speed, who had no thought of hurting her, colored 
up, too. 

" You don't comprehend, little one," he said, quickly. 
"It was in praise, not in blame, that I spoke." 

"I knew it I am silly," she said, with quick tears 
trembling in her eyes. " You know I adore you, Speed. 
Forgive me." 

She turned away into the house, saying that she 
would get the book. 

"Look here, Speed," I said, troubled, "Jacqueline 
is very much like the traditional maid of romance, 
which I never believed existed all unspoiled, frankly 
human, innocently daring, utterly ignorant of con 
vention. She's only a child now, but another year or 
two will bring something else to her." 

" Don't you suppose I've thought of that?" he said, 
frowning. 

"I hope you have." 

"Well, I have. When I find enough to do to keep 
soul and body friendly I'm going to send her to school, 
if that old ruffian, her father, allows it." 

"I think he will," I said, gravely; "but after that?" 

"After what?" 

"After she's educated and unhappy?" 

"She isn't any too happy now," he retorted. 

" Granted. But after you have spent all your money 
on her, what then?" 

"What do you mean?" 

" I mean that you'll have no child to deal with, but 
a woman in full bloom, a woman fairly aquiver with 
life and intelligence, a high-strung, sensitive, fine 
grained creature, whose educated ignorance will not 

347 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

be educated innocence, remember thatl And I tell 
you, Speed, it's the heaviest responsibility a man can 
assume." 

"I know it," he replied. 

" Then it's all right, if you do know it," I said, cheer 
fully. "All I can say is, I am thankful she isn't to 
spend her life in the circus." 

" Or meet death there," he added. " It's not to our 
credit that she escapes it." 

Jacqueline came dancing back to the porch, cat 
under one arm, book under the other, so frankly happy, 
so charmingly grateful for Speed's society, that the 
tragedy of the lonely child touched me very deeply. 
I strove to discover any trace of the bar sinister in her, 
but could not, though now I understood, from her par 
entage, how it was possible for a poacher's child to 
have such finely sculptured hands and feet. Perhaps 
her dark, silky lashes and hair were Mornac's, but if this 
was so, I trusted that there the aristocratic blood had 
spent its force in the frail body of this child of chance. 

I went into the house, leaving them seated on the 
porch, heads together, while in a low monotone Speed 
read the deathless " Morte d'Arthur." 

Daylight was waning. 

Out of the west a clear, greenish sky, tinged with 
saffron tints, promised a sea-wind. But the mild land- 
breeze was still blowing and the ebb-tide flowing as I 
entered the corridor and glanced at the corner where 
the spinning-wheel stood. Sylvia sat beside it, read 
ing in the Lutheran Bible by the failing light. 

She raised her dreamy eyes as I passed ; I had never 
seen her piquantly expressive face so grave. 

" May I speak to you alone a moment, after dinner?" 
I asked. 

"If you wish," she replied. 

I bowed and started on, but she called me back. 
348 



THE SEMAPHORE 

"Did you know that Monsieur Eyre is here?'* 

"Kelly Eyre?" 

"Oui, monsieur. He returns with an order from 
the governor of Lorient for the balloon." 

I was astonished, and asked where Eyre had gone. 

"He is in your room," she said, "loading your re 
volver. I hope you will not permit him to go alone to 
Paradise." 

" I'll see about that," I muttered, and hurried up the 
stairs and down the hallway to my bedchamber. 

He sprang to the door as I entered, giving me both 
hands in boyish greeting, saying how delighted they 
all were to know that my injury had proved so 
slight. 

"That balloon robbery worried me," he continued. 
" I knew that Speed depended on his balloon for a liv 
ing ; so as soon as we entered Lorient I went to our con 
sul, and he and I made such a row that the governor of 
Lorient gave me an order for the balloon. Here it is, 
Mr. Scarlett." 

His heightened color and excitement, his nervous 
impetuosity, were not characteristic of this quiet and 
rather indifferent young countryman of mine. 

I looked at him keenly but pleasantly. 

" You are going to load my revolver, and go over to 
Paradise and take that balloon from these bandits?" 
I asked, smiling. 

" An order is all right, but it is the more formal when 
backed by a bullet," he said. 

" Do you mean to tell me that you were preparing to 
go over into that hornet's nest alone?" 

He shrugged his shoulders with a reckless laugh. 

"Give me my revolver," I said, coldly. 

His face fell. "Let me take it, Mr. Scarlett/' he 
pleaded; but I refused, and made him hand me the 
weapon. 

349 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

"Now/' I said, sternly, "I want to know what the 
devil you mean by attempting suicide? Do you sup 
pose that those ruffians care a straw for you and your 
order? Kelly, what's the matter with you? Is life 
as unattractive as all that?" 

His flushed and sullen face darkened. 

"If you want to risk your life," I said, "you have 
plenty of chances in your profession. Did you ever 
hear of an aged aeronaut? Kelly, go back to America 
and break your neck like a gentleman." 

He darted a menacing glance at me, but there was 
nothing of irony in my sober visage. 

"You appear here," I said, "after the others have 
sailed from Lorient. Why? To do Speed this gen 
erous favor? Yes and to do yourself the pleasure 
of ending an embittered life under the eyes of the 
woman who ruined you." 

The boy flinched as though I had struck him in the 
face. For a moment I expected a blow; his hands 
clinched convulsively, and he focussed me with blaz 
ing eyes. 

"Don't," I said, quietly. "I am trying to be your 
friend; I am trying to save you from yourself, Kelly. 
Don't throw away your life as I have done. Life is 
a good thing, Kelly, a good thing. Can we not be 
friends though I tell you the truth?" 

The color throbbed and throbbed in his face. There 
was a chair near him; he groped for it, and sat down 
heavily. 

"Life is a good thing," I said again, "but, Kelly, 
truth is better. And I must tell you the well, some 
thing of the truth as much as you need know . . . 
now. My friend, she is not worth it." 

"Do you think that makes any difference?" he said, 
harshly. "Let me alone, Scarlett. I know! . . . / 
know, I tell you!" 

350 



THE SEMAPHORE 

" Do you mean to tell me that you know she deliber 
ately betrayed you?" I demanded. 

" Yes, I know it I tell you I know it!" 

"And . . . you love her?" 

" Yes." He dropped his haggard face on his arms a 
moment, then sat bolt upright. " Truth is better than 
life," he said, slowly. "I lied to you and to myself 
when I came back. I did come to get Speed's balloon, 
but I came . . . for her sake, ... to be near her, . . . 
to see her once more before I " 

"Yes, I understand, Kelly." 

He winced and leaned wearily back. 

" You are right/' he said ; " I wanted to end it, ... 
I am tired." 

I sat thinking for a moment; the light in the room 
faded to a glimmer on the panes. 

"Kelly," I said, "there remains another way to risk 
your neck, and, I think, a nobler way. There is in 
this house a woman who is running a terrible risk a 
German spy whose operations have been discovered. 
This woman believes that she has in her pay the com 
munist leader of the revolt, a man called Buckhurst. 
She is in error. And she must leave this house to 
night." 

Eyre's face had paled. He bent forward, clasped 
hands between his knees, eyes fastened on me. 

" There will be trouble here to-night or, in all prob 
ability, within the next twenty-four hours. I expect 
to see Buckhurst a prisoner. And when that happens 
it will go hard with Mademoiselle Elven, for he will 
turn on her to save himself. . . . And you know what 
that means; ... a blank wall, Kelly, and a firing-squad. 
There is but one sex for spies." 

A deadly fear was stamped on his bloodless face. I 
saw it, tense and quivering, in the gray light of the 
window. 

351 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

"She must leave to-night, Kelly. She must try to 
cross into Spain. Will you help her?" 

He nodded, striving to say "yes." 

"You know your own risk?" 

"Yes." 

"Her company is death for you both if you are 
taken." 

He stood up very straight. In what strange forms 
comes happiness to man! 



XXI 

LIKE HER ANCESTORS 

A SENSE of insecurity, of impending trouble, seem 
ed to weigh upon us all that evening a physical 
depression, which the sea-wind brought with its flying 
scud, wetting the window-panes like fine rain. 

At intervals from across the moors came the dead 
ened rolling of insurgent drums, and in the sky a 
ruddy reflection of a fire brightened and waned as the 
fog thickened or blew inland an ominous sign of dis 
order, possibly even a reflection from that unseen war 
raging somewhere beyond the obscured horizon. 

It may have been this indefinable foreboding that 
drew our little company into a temporary intimacy; 
it may have been the immense loneliness of the sea, 
thundering in thickening darkness, that stilled our 
voices to whispers. 

Eyre, ill at ease, walked from window to window, 
looking at the luminous tints on the ragged edges of 
the clouds; Sylvia, over her heavy embroidery, lifted 
her head gravely at moments, to glance after him when 
he halted listless, preoccupied, staring at Speed and 
Jacqueline, who were drawing pictures of Arthur and 
his knights by the lamp-lit table. 

I leaned in the embrasure of the southern window, 

gazing at my lighted lanterns, which dangled from the 

halyards at Saint -Yssel. The soldier Holland had so 

far kept his word three red lamps glimmered through 

* 3 353 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

a driving mist ; the white lanterns hung above, faintly 
shining. 

Full in the firelight of the room sat the young Count 
ess, lost in reverie, hands clasping the gilt arms of her 
chair. At her feet dozed Ange Pitou. 

The dignity of a parvenu cat admitted for the first 
time to unknown luxury is a lesson. I said this to 
the young Countess, who smiled dreamily, watching 
the play of color over the drift-wood fire. A ship's 
plank was burning there, tufted with golden -green 
flames. Presently a blaze of purest carmine threw a 
deeper light into the room. 

"I wonder," she said, "what people sailed in that 
ship and when? Did they perish on this coast when 
their ship perished? A drift-wood fire is beautiful, 
but a little sad, too." She looked up pensively over 
her shoulder. " Will you bring a chair to the fire?" she 
asked. "We are burning part of a great ship for 
our pleasure, monsieur. Tell me what ship it was; 
tell me a story to amuse me not a melancholy one, 
if you please." 

I drew a chair to the blaze; the drift-wood burned 
gold and violet, with scarcely a whisper of its velvet 
flames. 

" I am afraid my story is not going to be very cheer 
ful," I said, "and I am also afraid that I must ask you 
to listen to it." 

She met my eyes with composure, leaned a little 
toward me, and waited. 

And so, sitting there in the tinted glare, I told her 
of the death of Delmont and of Ta vernier, and of Buck- 
hurst's share in the miserable work. 

I spoke in a whisper scarcely louder than the rustle 
of the flames, watching the horror growing in her 
face. 

I told her that the money she had intrusted to them 
354 



LIKE HER ANCESTORS 

for the Red Cross was in my possession, and would be 
forwarded at the first chance; that I hoped to bring 
Buckhurst to justice that very night. 

"Madame, I am paining you/' I said; "but I am 
going to cause you even greater unhappiness. " 

"Tell me what is necessary," she said, forming the 
words with tightened lips. 

" Then I must tell you that it is necessary for Mad 
emoiselle Elven to leave Trecourt to-night." 

She looked at me as though she had not heard. 

" It is absolutely necessary," I repeated. " She must 
go secretly. She must leave her effects; she must go 
in peasant's dress, on foot." 

"Why?" 

"It is better that I do not tell you, madame." 

"Tell me. It is my right to know." 

"Not now; later, if you insist." 
'\The young Countess passed one hand over her eyes 
as though dazed. 

"Does Sylvia know this?" she asked, in a shocked 
voice. 

"Not yet." 

"And you are going to tell her?" 

"Yes, madame." 

"This is dreadful," she muttered. ... "If I did 
not know you, ... if I did not trust you so perfect 
ly, ... trust you with all my heart! . . . Oh, are 
you certain she must go? It frightens me; it is so 
strange! I have grown fond of her. . . . And now 
you say that she must go. I cannot understand I 
cannot." 

" No, you cannot understand/' I repeated, gently ; 
" but she can. It is a serious matter for Mademoiselle 
Elven; it could not easily be more serious. It is even 
perhaps a question of life or death, madame." 

"In Heaven's name, help her, then!" she said, scarce- 
355 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

ly controlling the alarm that brought a pitiful break in 
her voice. 

" I am trying to," I said. " And now I must consult 
Mademoiselle Elven. Will you help me?" 

"What can I do?" she asked, piteously. 

"Stand by that window. Look, madame, can you 
see the lights on the semaphore?" 

"Yes." 

"Count them aloud." 

She counted the white lights for me, then the red 
ones. 

"Now," I said, "if those lights change in number 
or color or position, come instantly to me. I shall 
be with Mademoiselle Elven in the little tea-room. 
But," I added, "I do not expect any change in the 
lights; it is only. a precaution." 

I left her in the shadow of the curtains, and passed 
through the room to Sylvia's side. She looked up 
quietly from her embroidery frame, then, dropping 
the tinted silks and needles on the cloth, rose and walked 
beside me past Eyre, who stood up as we came abreast 
of him. 

Sylvia paused. "Monsieur Eyre," she said, "I 
have a question to ask you . . . some day/ ; and 
passed on with a smile and a slight inclination of her 
head, leaving Eyre looking after her with heavy eyes. 

When we entered the little tea-room she passed on 
to the lounge and seated herself on the padded arm ; 
I turned, closed the door, and walked straight toward 
her. 

She glanced up at me curiously; something in my 
face appeared to sober her, for the amused smile on her 
lips faded before I spoke. 

"What is it?" she asked. 

"I am sorry to tell you," I said "sorry from my 
heart. You are not very friendly to me, and that 

356 



LIKE HER ANCESTORS 

makes it harder for me to say what I have to 
say." 

She was watching me intently out of her pretty, in 
telligent eyes. 

"What do you mean?" she asked, guardedly. 

"I mean that you cannot stay here," I said. "And 
you know why." 

The color flooded her face, and she stood up, con 
fronting me, exasperated, defiant. 

"Will you explain this insult?" she asked, hotly. 

"Yes. You are a German spy," I said, under my 
breath. 

There was no color in her face now nothing but 
a glitter in her blue eyes and a glint from the small, 
white teeth biting her lower lip. 

" French troops will land here to-night or to-morrow," 
I went on, calmly. " You will see how dangerous your 
situation is certain to become when Buckhurst is taken, 
and when it is understood what use you have made of 
the semaphore." 

She winced, then straightened and bent her steady 
gaze on me. Her courage was admirable. 

" I thank you for telling me," she said, simply. " Have 
I a chance to reach the Spanish frontier?" 

" I think you have," I replied. " Kelly Eyre is going 
with you when " 

"He? No, no, he must not! Does he know what I 
am?" she broke in, impetuously. 

"Yes, mademoiselle; and he knows what happens 
to spies." 

"Did he offer to go?" she asked, incredulously. 

"Mademoiselle, he insists." 

Her lip began to tremble. She turned toward the 
window, where the sea-fog flew past in the rising wind, 
and stared out across the immeasurable blackness of 
the ocean. 

357 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

Without turning her head she said : " Does he know 
that it may mean his death?" 

"He has suffered worse for your sake!" I said, bit 
terly. 

"What?" she flashed out, confronting me in an 
instant. 

"You must know that/' I said "three years of 
hell prison utter ruin ! Do you dare deny you have 
been ignorant of this?" 

For a space she stood there, struck speechless ; then, 
"Call him!" she cried. "Call him, I tell you! Bring 
him here I want him here here before us both!" 
She sprang to the door, but I blocked her way. 

" I will not have Madame de Vassart know what you 
did to him!" I said. "If you want Kelly Eyre, I will 
call him." And I stepped into the hallway. 

Eyre, passing the long stone corridor, looked up as 
I beckoned ; and when he entered the tea-room, Sylvia, 
white as a ghost, met him face to face. 

"Monsieur," she said, harshly, "why did you not 
come to that book-store?" 

He was silent. His face was answer enough a ter 
rible answer. 

" Monsieur Eyre, speak to me ! Is it true ? Did 
they did you not know that I made an error that I 
did go on Monday at the same hour?" 

His haggard face lighted up ; she saw it, and caught 
his hands in hers. 

" Did you think I knew?" she stammered. " Did you 
think I could do that? They told me at the usine 
that you had gone away I thought you had forgotten 
that you did not care " 

"Care!" he groaned, and bowed his head, crushing 
her hands over his face. 

Then she broke down, breathless with terror and 
grief. 

358 



LIKE HER ANCESTORS 

"I was not a spy then truly I was not, Kelly. 
There was no harm in me I only only asked for the 
sketches because because I cared for you. I have 
them now; no soul save myself has ever seen them 
even afterward, when I drifted into intrigue at the 
Embassy when everybody knew that Bismarck meant 
to force war everybody except the French people 
I never showed those little sketches! They were 
were mine! Kelly, they were all I had left when you 
went away to a fortress! and I did not know! I did 
not know!" 

"Hush!" he groaned. "It is all right it is all 
right now." 

"Do you believe me?" 

"Yes, yes. Don't cry don't be unhappy now/' 

She raised her head and fumbled in her corsage with 
shaking fingers, and drew from her bosom a packet of 
papers. 

"Here are the sketches," she sobbed; "they have 
cost you dear! Now leave me hate me! Let them 
come and take me I do not want to live any more. 
Oh, what punishment on earth!" 

Her suffering was unendurable to the man who had 
suffered through her; he turned on me, quivering in 
every limb. 

" We must start," he said, hoarsely. " Give me your 
revolver." 

I drew it from my hip-pocket and passed it to him. 

"Scarlett," he began, "if we don't reach" 

A quick rapping at the door silenced him ; the young 
Countess stood in the 'hall way, bright-eyed, but com 
posed, asking for me. 

"The red and the white lights are gone," she said. 
"There are four green lights on the tower and four 
blue lights on the halyards." 

I turned to Eyre. "This is interesting," I said, 
359 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

grim! y. " I set signals for the Fer-de-Lance to land in 
force. Somebody has changed them. You had better 
get ready to go." 

Sylvia had shrunk away from Eyre. The Countess 
looked at her blankly, then at me. 

"Madame," I said, "there is little enough of hap 
piness in the world so little that when it comes it 
should be welcomed, even by those who may not share 
in it." 

And I bent nearer and whispered the truth. 

Then I went to Sylvia, who stood there tremulous, 
pallid. 

"You serve your country at a greater risk than do 
the soldiers of your King," I said. "There is no cour 
age like that which discounts a sordid, unhonored 
death. You have my respect, mademoiselle." 

"Sylvia!" murmured the young Countess, incred 
ulously; "you a spy? here under my roof?" 

Sylvia unconsciously stretched out one hand toward 
her. 

Eyre stepped to her side, with an angry glance at 
Madame de Vassart. 

"I I love you, madame," whispered Sylvia. "I 
only place my own country first. Can you forgive 
me?" 

The Countess stood as though stunned ; Eyre passed 
her slowly, supporting Sylvia to the door. 

"Madame," I said, "will you speak to her? Your 
countries, not your hearts, are at war. She did her 
duty." 

"A spy!" repeated the Countess, in a dull voice. 
"A spy! And she brings this this shame on me!" 

Sylvia turned, standing unsteadily. For a long 
time they looked at each other in silence, their eyes 
wet with tears. Then Eyre lifted Sylvia's hand and 
kissed it, and led her away, closing the door behind. 

360 



LIKE HER ANCESTORS 

The Countess still stood in the centre of the room, 
transfixed, rigid, staring through her tears at the 
closed door. With a deep-drawn breath she straight 
ened her shoulders ; her head drooped ; she covered her 
face with clasped hands. 

Standing there, did she remember those who, one 
by one, had betrayed her? Those who first whispered 
to her that love of country was a narrow creed; those 
who taught her to abhor violence, and then failed at 
the test Bazard, firing to kill, going down to death 
under the merciless lance of an Uhlan; Buckhurst, 
guilty of every crime that attracted him; and now 
Sylvia, her friend, false to the salt she had eaten, false 
to the roof above her, false, utterly false to all save 
the land of Jier nativity. 

And she, Eline de Tr6court, a soldier's daughter and 
a Frenchwoman, had been used as a shield by those who 
were striking her own mother-land the country she 
once had denied ; the country whose frontiers she knew 
not in her zeal for limitless brotherhood; the black 
ened, wasted country she had seen at Strasbourg ; the 
land for which the cuirassiers of Morsbronn had died ! 

"What have I done?" she cried, brokenly "what 
have I done that this shame should come upon me?" 

"You have done nothing," I said, "neither for good 
nor evil in this crisis. But Sylvia has; Sylvia the 
spy. That a man should give up his life for a friend 
is good; that a woman offer hers for her country is 
better. What has it cost her? The friendship of the 
woman she worships you, madame! It has cost her 
that already, and the price may include her life and the 
life of the man she loves. She has done her duty; the 
sacrifice is still burning ; I pray it may spare her and 
spare him." 

I walked to the door and laid my hand on the brass 
knob. 

361 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

"The world is merciless to failures/' I said. "Yet 
even a successful spy is scarcely tolerated among the 
Philistines; a captured spy is a horror for friends to 
forget and for enemies to destroy in righteous indig 
nation. Madame, I know, for I have served your 
country in Algiers as a spy, . . . not from patriotism, 
for I am an alien, but because I was fitted for it in my 
line of duty. Had I been caught I should have looked 
for nothing but contempt from France ; from the Ka- 
byle, for neither admiration nor mercy. I tell you 
this that you may understand my respect for this 
woman, whose motives are worthy of it." 

The Countess looked at me scornfully. " It is well," 
she said, "for those who understand and tolerate 
treachery to condone it. It is well that the accused 
be judged by their peers. We of Trcourt know only 
one tongue. But that is the language of truth, mon 
sieur. All else is foreign." 

"Where did the nobility learn this tongue to our 
exclusion?" I asked, bluntly. 

"When our forefathers faced the tribunals!" she 
flashed out. " Did you ever hear of a spy among us? 
Did you ever hear of a lie among us?" 

"You have been taught history by your peers, 
madame," I said, with a bow; "I have been taught 
history by mine." 

"The sorry romance!" she said, bitterly. "It has 
brought me to this!" 

"It has brought others to their senses/' I said, 
sharply. 

"To their knees, you mean!" 

"Yes to their knees at last." 

"To the guillotine yes!" 

" No, madame, to pray for their native land too late! " 

"I think," she said, "that we are not fitted to under 
stand each other." 

362 



LIKE HER ANCESTORS 

"It remains," I said, "for me to thank you for your 
kindness to us all, and for your generosity to me in 
my time of need. ... It is quite useless- for me to 
dream of repaying it. ... I shall never forget it. ... 
I ask leave to make my adieux, madame." 

She flushed to her temples, but did not answer. 

As I stood looking at her, a vivid flare of light flashed 
through the window behind me, crimsoning the walls, 
playing over the ceiling with an infernal radiance. 
At the same instant the gate outside crashed -open, 
a hubbub of voices swelled into a roar; then the outer 
doors were flung back and a score of men sprang into 
the hallway, soldiers with the red torch-light dancing 
on rifle-barrels and bayonets. 

And before them, revolver swinging in his slender 
hand, strode Buckhurst, a red sash tied across his 
breast, his colorless eyes like diamonds. 

Speed and Jacqueline came hurrying through the 
hall to where I stood ; Buckhurst 's smite was awful as 
his eyes flashed from Speed to me. 

Behind him, close to his shoulder, the torch-light fell 
on Mornac's smooth, false face, stretched now into a 
ferocious grimace; behind him crowded the soldiers 
of the commune, rifles slung, craning their unshaven 
faces to catch a glimpse of us. 

" Demi - battalion, halt!" shouted an officer, and 
flung up his naked sabre. 

"Halt," repeated Buckhurst, quietly. 

Madame de Vassart's servants had come running 
from kitchen and stable at the first alarm, and now 
stood huddled in the court-yard, bewildered, cowed by 
the bayonets which had checked them. 

"Buckhurst," I said, "what the devil do you mean 
by this foolery?" and I started for him, shouldering 
my way among his grotesque escort. 

For an instant I looked into his deadly eyes ; then he 
363 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

silently motioned me back; a dozen bayonets were 
levelled, forcing me to retire, inch by inch, until I felt 
Speed's grip on my arm. 

"That fellow means mischief/' he whispered. 
"Have you a pistol?" 

"I gave mine to Eyre," I said, under my breath. 
"If he means us harm, don't resist or they may take 
revenge on the Countess. Speed, keep her in the room 
there! Don't let her come out." 

But the Countess de Vassart was already in the hall, 
facing Buckhurst with perfect composure. 

Twice she ordered him to leave; he looked up from 
his whispered consultation with Mornac and coolly mo 
tioned her to be silent. 

Once she spoke to Mornac, quietly demanding a 
reason for the outrage, and Mornac silenced her with a 
brutal gesture. 

"Madame," I said, "it is I they want. I beg you 
to retire." 

" You are my guest," she said. " My place is here." 

"Your place is where I please to put you!" broke 
in Mornac; and to Buckhurst: "I tell you she's as 
guilty as the others. Let me attend to this and make 
a clean sweep!" 

" Citizen Mornac will endeavor to restrain his zeal," 
observed Buckhurst, with a sneer. And then, as I 
looked at this slender, pallid man, I understood who 
was the dominant power behind the curtain; and so 
did Speed, for I felt him press my elbow significantly. 

He turned and addressed us, suavely, bowing with a 
horrid, mock deference to the Countess : 

"In the name of the commune! The ci-devant 
Countess de Vassart is accused of sheltering the indi 
vidual Scarlett, late inspector of Imperial Police; the 
individual Speed, ex-inspector of Imperial Gendarmes; 
the individual Eyre, under general suspicion; the 

364 



LIKE HER ANCESTORS 

woman called Sylvia Elven, a German spy. As war- 
delegate of the commune, I am here to accuse!" 

There was a silence, then a low, angry murmur from 
the soldiers, which grew louder until Buckhurst turned 
on them. He did not utter a word, but the sullen roar 
died out, a bayonet rattled, then all was still in the 
dancing torchlight. 

"I accuse," continued Buckhurst, in a passionless 
voice, " the individual Scarlett of treachery to the com 
mune ; of using the telegraph for treacherous ends ; of 
hoisting signals with the purpose of attracting govern 
ment troops to destroy us. I accuse the individual 
Speed of aiding his companion in using the telegraph 
to stop the government train, thus depriving the com 
mune of the funds which rightfully belong to it the 
treasures wrung from wretched peasants by the aristo 
crats of an accursed monarchy and a thrice-accursed 
empire!" 

A roaring cheer burst from the excited soldiers, 
drowning the voice of Buckhurst. 

"Silence!" shouted Mornac, savagely. And as the 
angry voices were stilled, one by one, above the bang 
ing of rifle -stocks and the rattle of bayonets, Buck- 
hurst's calm voice rose in a sinister monotone. 

"I accuse the woman Sylvia Elven of communica 
tion with Prussian agents; of attempted corruption of 
soldiers under my command. I accuse the citoyenne 
Eline Trecourt, lately known as the Countess de Vas- 
sart, of aiding, encouraging, and abetting these ene 
mies of France!" 

He waited until the short, fierce yell of approval had 
died away. Then: 

"Call the soldier Rolland!" he said. 

My heart began to hammer in my throat. "I be 
lieve it's going hard with us," I muttered to Speed. 

"Listen," he motioned. 

365 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

I listened to the wretched creature Holland while he 
told what had happened at the semaphore. In his 
eagerness he pushed close to where I stood, menacing 
me with every gesture, cursing and lashing himself 
into a rage, ignoring all pretence of respect and disci 
pline for his own superiors. 

"What are you waiting for?" he shouted, inso 
lently, turning on Buckhurst. "I tell the truth; and 
if this man can afford to pay hundreds of francs for 
a telegram, he must be rich enough to pluck, I tell 
you!" 

"You say he bribed you?" asked Buckhurst, gently. 

"Yes; I've said it twenty times, haven't I?" 

"And you took the bribes?" 

"Parbleu!" 

" And you thought if you admitted it and denounced 
the man who bribed you that you would help divide a 
few millions with us, you rogue?" suggested Buck 
hurst, admiringly. 

The wretch laughed outright. 

"And you believe that you deserve well of the com 
mune?" smiled Buckhurst. 

The soldier grinned and opened his mouth to an 
swer, and Buckhurst shot him through the face ; and, 
as he fell, shot him again, standing wreathed in the 
smoke of his own weapon. 

The deafening racket of the revolver, the smoke, the 
spectacle of the dusty, inert thing on the floor over 
which Buckhurst stood and shot, seemed to stun 
us all. 

"I think," said Buckhurst, in a pleasantly per 
suasive voice, "that there will be no more bribery in 
this battalion." He deliberately opened the smoking 
weapon; the spent shells dropped one by one from 
the cylinder, clinking on the stone floor. 

"No no more bribery," he mused, touching the 
366 



LIKE HER ANCESTORS 

dead man with the carefully polished toe of his shoe. 
" Because," he added, reloading his revolver, " I do not 
like it." 

He turned quietly to Mornac and ordered the corpse 
to be buried, and Mornac, plainly unnerved at the 
murderous act of his superior, repeated the order, curs 
ing his men to cover the quaver in his voice. 

"As for you," observed Buckhurst, glancing up at 
us where we stood speechless together, "you will be 
judged and sentenced when this drum-head court de 
cides. Go into that room!" 

The Countess did not move. 

Speed touched her arm ; she looked up quietly, smiled, 
and stepped across the threshold. Speed followed; 
Jacqueline slipped in beside him, and then I turned on 
Buckhurst, who had just ordered his soldiers to sur 
round the house outside. 

"As a matter of fact," I said, when the last armed 
ruffian had departed, "I am the only person in this 
house who has interfered with your affairs. The 
others have done nothing to harm you." 

"The court will decide that," he replied, balancing 
his revolver in his palm. 

I eyed him for an instant. " Do you mean harm to 
this unfortunate woman?" I asked. 

"My friend," he replied, in a low voice, "you have 
very stupidly upset plans that have cost me months 
to perfect. You have, by stopping that train, robbed 
me of something less than twenty millions of francs. 
I have my labor for my pains; I have this mob of 
fools on my hands; I may lose my life through this 
whim of yours; and if I don't, I have it all to begin 
again. And you ask me what I am going to do!" 

His eyes glittered. 

"If I strike her I strike you. Ask yourself whether 
or not I will strike." 

367 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

All the blood seemed to leave my heart ; I straightened 
up with an effort. 

"There are some murders/' I said, "that even you 
must recoil at." 

"I don't think you appreciate me/' he replied, with 
a deathly smile. 

He motioned toward the door with levelled weapon. 
I turned and entered the tea-room, and he locked the 
door from the outside. 

The Countess, seated on the sofa, looked up as I 
appeared. She was terribly pale, but she smiled as 
my heavy eyes met hers. 

"Is it to be farce or tragedy, monsieur?" she asked, 
without a tremor in her clear voice. 

I could not have uttered a word to save my life. Speed, 
pacing the room, turned to read my face; and I think 
he read it, for he stopped short in his tracks. Jacqueline, 
watching him with blue, inscrutable eyes, turned sharp 
ly toward the window and peered out into the dark 
ness. 

Beyond the wall of the garden the fog, made luminous 
by the torches of the insurgents, surrounded the house 
with a circle of bright, ruddy vapor. 

Speed came slowly across the room with me. 

"Do they mean to shoot us?" he asked, bluntly. 

"Messieurs," said the Countess, with a faint smile, 
"your whispers are no compliment to my race. Pray 
honor me by plain speaking. Are we to die?" 

We stood absolutely speechless before her. 

"Ah, Monsieur Scarlett," she said, gravely, "do 
you also fail me ... at the end? . . . You, too 
even you? . . . Must I tell you that we of Trecourt 
fear nothing in this world?" 

She made a little gesture, exquisitely imperious. 

I stepped toward her ; she waited for me to seat my 
self beside her. 

368 



LIKE HER ANCESTORS 

"Are we to die?" she asked. 

"Yes, madame." 

" Thank you," she said, softly. 

I looked up. My head was swimming so that I could 
scarcely see her, scarcely perceive the deep, steady 
tenderness in her clear eyes. 

"Do you not understand?" she asked. "You are 
my friend. I wished to know my fate from you." 

"Madame," I said, hoarsely, "how can you call 
me friend when you know to what I have brought 
you?" 

"You have brought me to know myself," she said, 
simply. " Why should I not be grateful? Why do you 
look at me so sadly, Monsieur Scarlett? Truly, you 
must know that my life has been long enough to 
prove its uselessness. " 

"It is not true!" I cried, stung by remorse for all 
I had said. "Such women as you are the hope of 
France! Such women as you are the hope of the 
world! Ah, that you should consider the bitterness 
and folly of such a man as I am that you should 
consider and listen to the sorry wisdom of a homeless 
mountebank a wandering fool a preacher of empty 
platitudes, who has brought you to this with his cursed 
meddling!" 

"You taught me truth," she said, calmly; "you 
make the last days of my life the only ones worth liv 
ing. I said to you but an hour since when I was 
angry that we were unfitted to comprehend each other. 
It is not true. We are fitted for that. I had rather 
die with you than live without the friendship which I 
believe which I know is mine. Monsieur Scarlett, 
it is not love. If it were, I could not say this to you 
even in death's presence. It is something better; 
something untroubled, confident, serene. . . . You see 
it is not love. . . . And perhaps it has no name. . . . 
* 369 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

For I have never before known such happiness, such 
peace, as I know now, here with you, talking of our 
death. If we could live, . . . you would go away. . . . 
I should be alone. . . . And I have been alone all my 
life, . , . and I am tired. You see I have nothing to 
regret in a death that brings me to you again. . . . 
Do you regret life?" 

"Not now," I said. 

" You are kind to say so. I do believe yes, I know 
that you truly care for me. ... Do you?" 

"Yes." 

"Then it will not be hard. . . . Perhaps not even 
very painful." 

The key turning in the door startled us. Buckhurst 
entered, and through the hallway I saw his dishevelled 
soldiers running, flinging open doors, tearing, tramp 
ling, pillaging, wrecking everything in their path. 

" Your business will be attended to in the garden at 
dawn," he observed, blinking about the room, for the 
bright lamp-light dazzled him. 

Speed, who had been standing by the window with 
Jacqueline, wheeled sharply, took a few steps into the 
room, then sank into a chair, clasping his lank hands 
between his knees. 

The Countess did not even glance up as the sentence 
was pronounced; she looked at me and laid her left 
hand on mine, smiling, as though waiting for the mo 
ment to resume an interrupted conversation. 

"Do you hear?" demanded Buckhurst, raising his 
voice. 

There was no answer for a moment ; then Jacqueline 
stepped from the window and said : "Am I free to go?" 

"You!" said Buckhurst, contemptuously; "who in 
hell are you?" 

"I am Jacqueline." 

" Really," sneered Buckhurst. 
370 



LIKE HER ANCESTORS 

He went away, slamming and locking the door ; and 
I heard Mornac complaining that the signals had gone 
out on the semaphore and that there was more treach 
ery abroad. 

"Get me a horse!" said Buckhurst. "There are 
plenty of them in the stables. Mornac, you stay here; 
I'll ride over to the semaphore. Gut this house and 
fire it after you've finished that business in the garden 
to-morrow morning," 

"Where are you going?" demanded Mornac's angry 
voice. "Do you expect me to stay here while you 
start for Paris?" 

"You have your orders," said Buckhurst, menac 
ingly. 

"Oh, have I? What are they? To stay here when 
the country is roused stay here and perhaps be shelled 
by that damned cruiser out there " 

His voice was stifled as though a hand had clutched 
his throat ; there came the swift sound of a struggle, the 
banging of scabbards and spurs, the scuffle of heavy 
boots. 

"Are you mad?" burst out Mornac's strangled voice. 

"Are you?" breathed Buckhurst. "Silence, you 
fool. Do you obey orders or not?" 

Their voices receded. Speed sprang to the door to 
listen, then ran back to the window. 

"Scarlett," he whispered, "there are the lights of a 
vessel at anchor off Groix." 

I was beside him in an instant. " It's the cruiser," 
I said. "Oh, Speed, for a chance to signal!" 

We looked at each other desperately. 

"We could set the room afire," he said; "they might 
land to see what had happened." 

"And find us all shot." 

Jacqueline, standing beside Speed, said, quieHy: "I 
could swim it. Wait. Raise the window a little^" 

371 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

"You cannot dive from that cliff!" I said. 

She cautiously unlocked the window and peered out 
into the dark garden. 

"The cliff falls sheer from the wall yonder," she 
whispered. "I shall try to drop. I learned much in 
the circus. I am not afraid, Speed. I shall drop into 
the sea." 

"To your death," I said. 

"Possibly, m'sieu. It is a good death, however. 
I am not afraid." 

"Close the window," muttered Speed. "They'd 
shoot her from the wall, anyway." 

Again the child gravely asked permission to try. 

"No," said Speed, harshly, and turned away. But 
in that instant Jacqueline flung open the window and 
vaulted into the garden. Before I could realize what 
had happened she was only a glimmering spot in the 
darkness. Then Speed and I followed her, running 
swiftly toward the foot of the garden, but we were too 
late; a slim, white shape rose from the top of the wall 
and leaped blindly out through the ruddy torch glare 
into the blackness beyond. 

We heard a soldier's startled cry, a commotion, 
curses, and astonished exclamations from the other 
side of the wall. 

"It was something, I tell you!" roared a soldier. 
"Something that jumped over the cliff!" 

"It was an owl, idiot!" retorted his comrade. 

"I tell you I saw it!" protested the other, in a shak 
ing voice. 

"Then you saw a witch of Ker-Ys," bawled another. 
" Look out for your skin in the first battle. It's death 
to see such things." 

I looked at Speed. He stood wide-eyed, staring at 
vacancy. 

"Could she do it?" I asked, horrified. 
372 



LIKE HER ANCESTORS 

"God knows," he whispered. 

Soldiers were beginning to clamber up the garden 
wall from the outside; torches were raised to investi 
gate. As we shrank back into the shadow of the 
shrubbery I stumbled over something soft Jacque 
line's clothes, lying in a circle as she had stepped out 
jOf them. 

Speed took them. I followed him, creeping back to 
the window, where we entered in time to avoid discov 
ery by a wretch who had succeeded in mounting the 
wall, torch in hand. 

One or two soldiers climbed over and dropped into 
the garden, prowling around, prodding the bushes 
with their bayonets, even coming to press their dirty 
faces and hands against our window. 

"They're all here!" sang out one. "It was an owl, 
I tell you!" And he menaced us with his rifle in 
pantomime and retired, calling his companions to fol 
low. 

"Where is Jacqueline?" asked the Countess, looking 
anxiously at the little blue skirt on Speed's knees. 
"Have they harmed that child?" 

I told her. 

A beautiful light grew in her eyes as she listened. 
"Did I not warn you that we Bretons know how to 
die?" she said. 

I looked dully at Speed, who sat by the window, 
brooding over the little woollen skirt on his knees, 
stroking it, touching the torn hem, and at last folding 
it with unaccustomed and shaky hands. 

There were noises outside our door, loud voices, 
hammering, the sound of furniture being dragged over 
stone floors, and I scarcely noticed it when our door 
was opened again. 

Then somebody called out our names ; a file of half- 
drunken soldiers grounded arms in the passage-way 

373 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

with a bang that brought us to our feet, as Mornac, 
flushed with wine, entered unsteadily, drawn sword 
in hand. 

"I'm damned if I stay here any longer," he broke 
out, angrily. "I'll see whether my rascals can't shoot 
straight by torch-light. Here, you! Scarlett, I meanl 
And you, Speed ; and you, too, madame ; patter your 
prayers, for you'll get no priest. Lieutenant, withdraw 
the guard at the wall. Here, captain, march the bat 
talion back to Paradise and take the servants!" 

A second later the drums began to beat, but Mornac, 
furious, silenced them. 

"They can hear you at sea!" he shouted. "Do you 
want a boat-load of marines at your heels? Strikeout 
those torches! Four will do for the garden. March!" 

The shuffling tread of the insurgent infantry echoed 
across the gravel court-yard ; torches behind the walls 
were extinguished; blackness enveloped the cliffs. 

"Well," broke out Speed, hoarsely, "good-bye, Scar 
lett." 

He held out his hand. 

"Good-bye," I said, stunned. 

I dropped my hand as two soldiers placed themselves 
on either side of him. 

"Well, good-bye," he repeated, aimlessly; and then, 
remembering, he went to the Countess and offered his 
hand. 

" I am so sorry for you," she said, with a pallid smile. 
" You have much to live for. But you must not feel 
lonely, monsieur; you will be with us we shall be 
close to you." 

She turned to me, and her hands fell to her side. 

"Are you contented?" she asked. 

" Yes," I answered. 

" I, too," she said, sweetly, and offered her hands. 

I held them very tightly. "You say," I whispered, 
374 



LIKE HER ANCESTORS 

"that it is not love. But you do not speak for me. 
I love you." 

A bright blush spread over brow and neck. 

"So it was love after all/' she said, under her 
breath. "God be with us to-day I love you." 

"March!" cried Mornac, as two soldiers took station 
beside me. 

"I beg you will be gentle with this lady/' I said, 
angrily, as two more soldiers pushed up beside the 
young Countess and laid their hands on her shoul 
ders. 

"Who the devil are you giving orders to?" shouted 
Mornac, savagely. "March!" 

Speed passed out first ; I followed ; the Countess came 
behind me. 

"Courage," I stammered, looking back at her as we 
stumbled out into the torch-lit garden. 

She smiled adorably. Her forefathers had mounted 
the guillotine smiling. 

Mornac pointed to the garden wall near the bench 
where we had sat together. A soldier dressed like a 
Turco lifted a torch and set it in the flower-bed under 
the wall, illuminating the spot where we were to stand. 
As this soldier turned to come back I saw his face. 

" Salah Ben- Ahmed!" I cried, hoarsely. " Do Mara 
bouts do this butcher's work?" 

The Turco stared at me as though stunned. 

"Salah Ben- Ahmed is a disgraced soldier!" I said, 
in a ringing voice. 

"It's a lie!" he shouted, in Arabic "it's a lie, 
my inspector! Speak! Have these men tricked me? 
Are you not Prussians?" 

"Silence! Silence!" bawled Mornac. "Turco, fall 
in! Fall in, I say! What! You menace me?" he 
snarled, cocking his revolver. 

Then a man darted out of the red shadows of the 
375 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

torch-light and fell upon Mornac with a knife, and 
dragged him down and rolled on him, stabbing him 
through and through, while the mutilated wretch 
screamed and screamed until his soul struggled out 
through the flame-shot darkness and fled to its last 
dreadful abode. 

The Lizard rose, shaking his fagot knife; they fell 
upon him, clubbing and stabbing with stock and bayo 
net, but he swung his smeared and sticky blade, clear 
ing a circle around him. And I think he could have 
cut his way free had not Tric-Trac shot him in the 
back of the head. 

Then a frightful tumult broke loose. Three of the 
torches were knocked to the ground and trampled out 
as the insurgents, doubly drunken with wine and the 
taste of blood, seized me and tried to force me against 
the wall ; but the Turco, with his shrill, wolf-like battle 
yelp, attacked them, sabre - bayonet in hand. Speed, 
too, had wrested a rifle from a half -stupefied ruffian, 
and now stood at bay before the Countess ; I saw him 
wielding his heavy weapon like a flail; then in the 
darkness Tric-Trac shot at me, so close that the pow 
der-flame scorched my leg. He dropped his rifle to 
spring for my throat, knocking me flat, and, crouching 
on me, strove to strangle me ; and I heard him whining 
with eagerness while I twisted and writhed to free my 
windpipe from his thin fingers. 

At last I tore him from my body and struggled to 
my feet. He, too, was on his legs with a bound, run 
ning, doubling, dodging ; and at his heels I saw a 
dozen sailors, broadaxes glittering, chasing him from 
tree to shrub. 

"Speed!" I shouted "the sailors from the Fer-de- 
Lance!" 

The curtains of the house were on fire; through the 
hallway poured the insurgent soldiery, stampeding 

376 



LIKE HER ANCESTORS 

in frantic flight across the court out into the moors; 
and the marines, swarming along the cliffs, shot at 
them as they ran, and laughed savagely when a man 
fell into the gorse, kicking like a wounded rabbit. 

Speed marked their flight, advancing coolly, pistol 
flashing ; the Turco. Ben- Ahmed, dark arms naked to 
the shoulder, bounded behind the frightened wretches, 
cornering, hunting them through flower - beds and 
bushes, stealthily, keenly, now creeping among the 
shadows, now springing like a panther on his prey, 
until his blue jacket reeked and his elbows dripped. 

I had picked up a rifle with a broken bayonet; the 
Countess, clasping my left arm, stood swaying in the 
rifle-smoke, eyes closed; and, when a horrid screeching 
arose from the depths of the garden where they were 
destroying Tric-Trac, she fell to shuddering, hiding 
her face on my shoulder. 

Suddenly Speed appeared, carrying a drenched lit 
tle figure, partly wrapped in a sailor's pea-jacket, slim 
limbs drooping, blue with cold. 

"Put out that fire in there," he said, hoarsely; "we 
must get her into bed. Hurry, for God's sake, Scarlett! 
There's nobody in the house!" 

"Jacqueline! Jacqueline! brave little Bretonne," 
murmured the Countess, bending forward and gather 
ing the unconscious child into her strong, young arms. 

Through the dim dawn, through smoke and fading 
torch-light, we carried Jacqueline into the house, now 
lighted up with an infernal red from the burning dining- 
room. 

" The house is stone ; we can keep the flames to one 
room if we work hard," I said. A sailor stood by the 
door wiping the stained blade of his broadaxe, and I 
called on him to aid us. 

A fresh company of sailors passed on the double, 
rifles trailing, their officer shouting encouragement. 

377 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

And as we came in view of the semaphore, I saw the 
signal tower on fire from base to top. 

The gray moorland was all nickering with flashes 
where the bulk of the insurgent infantry began firing 
in retreat; the marines' fusillade broke out from Para 
dise village; rifle after rifle cracked along the river- 
bank. Suddenly the deep report of a cannon came 
echoing landward from the sea; a shell, with lighted 
fuse trailing sparks, flew over us with a rushing whis 
tle and exploded on the moors. 

All this I saw from the house where I stood with 
Speed and a sailor, buried in smoke, chopping out 
blazing wood-work, tearing the burning curtains from 
the windows. The marines fired steadily from the 
windows above us. 

"They want the Red Terror 1" laughed the sailors. 
"They shall have it!" 

"Hunt them out! Hunt them out!" cried an officer, 
briskly. "Fire!" rang out a voice, and the volley 
broke crashing, followed by the clear, penetrating 
boatswain's whistle sounding the assault. 

Blackened, scorched, almost suffocated, I staggered 
back to the tea-room, where the Countess stood clasp 
ing Jacqueline, huddled in a blanket, and smoothing 
the child's wet curls away from a face as white as 
death. 

Together we carried her back through the smoking 
hallway, up the stairs to my bedroom, and laid her in 
the bed. 

The child opened her eyes as we drew the blankets. 

"Where is Speed?" she asked, dreamily. 

A moment later he came in, and she turned her head 
languidly and smiled. 

"Jacqueline! Jacqueline!" he whispered, bending 
close above her. 

"Do you love me, Speed?" 
378 



LIKE HER ANCESTORS 

"Ah, Jacqueline," he stammered, "more than you 
can understand." 

Suddenly a step sounded on the stairs, a rifle-stock 
grounded, clanging, and a sonorous voice rang out : 

" Salute, my brother of the toug ! The enemies of 
France are dead!" 

And in the silence around him Salah Ben-Ahmed 
the Marabout recited the fatha, bearing witness to the 
eternal unity of God. 

Late that night the light cavalry from Lorient rode 
into Paradise. At dawn the colonel, established in 
the mayory, from whence its foolish occupant had 
fled, sent for Speed and me, and when we reported he 
drew from his heavy dolman our commissions, restor 
ing us to rank and pay in the regiment de marche which 
he commanded. 

At sunrise I had bade good-bye to the sweetest woman 
on earth ; at noon we were miles to the westward, riding 
like demons on Buckhurst's heavy trail. 

I am not sure that we ever saw him again, though 
once, weeks later, Speed and I and a dozen hussars 
gave chase to a mounted man near St. Brieuc, and that 
man might have been Buckhurst. He led us a magh 
nificent chase straight to the coast, where we rode 
plump into a covey of Prussian hussars, who were 
standing on their saddles, hacking away at the tele 
graph-wires with their heavy, curved sabres. 

That was our first and last sight of the enemy in 
either Prussian or communistic guise, though in the 
long, terrible days and nights of that winter of '71, 
when three French armies froze, and the white death, 
not the Prussians, ended all for France, rumors of in 
surrection came to us from the starving capital, and 
we heard of the red flag flying on the H6tel-de-Ville, 
and the rising of the carbineers under Flourens; and 

379 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

some spoke of the leader of the insurrection and called 
him John Buckhurst. 

That Buckhurst could have penetrated Paris neither 
Speed nor I believed; but, as all now know, we were 
wrong, though the testimony concerning his death* 
at the hands of his terrible colleague, Mortier, was not 
in evidence until a young ruffian, known as "The 
Mouse," confessed before he expiated his crimes on 
Sartory Plain in 1872. 

Thus, for three blank, bitter months, freezing and 
starving, the 1st Regiment de marche of Lorient Hus 
sars stood guard at Brest over the diamonds of the 
crown of France. 

*This affair is dealt with in Ashes of Empire. 



XXII 

THE SECRET 

THE news of the collapse of the army of the East 
found our wretchedly clothed and half -starved 
hussars still patrolling the environs of Brest from 
Belair to the Pont Tournant, and from the banks of 
the Elorn clear around the ramparts to Lannion Bay, 
where the ice-sheathed iron-clads lay with banked 
fires off the Port Militaire, and the goulet guard-boats 
patrolled the Port de Commerce from the Passe de 
1'Ouest to the hook on the Digue and clear around to 
Cap Espagnol. 

All Brest, from the battlements of the Chateau of St. 
Martin, in Belair, was on watch, so wrought up was the 
governor over the attempt on the treasure-train. For 
three months our troopers scarcely left their saddles, 
except to be taken to the hospital in Recouvrance. 

The rigor of the constant alert wore us to shadows ; 
rockets from the goulet, the tocsin, the warning boom 
of a gun from the castle, found us spurring our jaded 
horses through ice and snow to scour the landward 
banlieue and purge it of a dreaded revolt. The names 
of Marx, of Flourens, of Buckhurst, were constantly re 
peated; news of troubles at Bordeaux, rumors of the 
red flag at Marseilles, only served to increase the rigid 
system of patrol, which brought death to those in the 
trenches as well as to our sleet-soaked videttes. 

Suddenly the nightmare ended with a telegram. 
Paris had surrendered. 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

Immediately the craze to go beset us all; our im 
provised squadrons became clamoring mobs of peas 
ants, wild to go home. Deserters left us every night; 
they shot some in full flight ; some were shot after drum 
head stances in which Speed and I voted in vain for 
acquittal. But affairs grew worse; our men neglected 
their horses; bands of fugitives robbed the suburbs, 
roving about, pillaging, murdering, even burning the 
wretched hovels where nothing save the four walls 
remained even for the miserable inmates. 

Our hussars were sent on patrol again, but they de 
serted with horses and arms in scores, until, when we 
rode into the Rue du Bois d' Amour, scarce a squadron 
clattered into the smoky gateway, and the infantry of 
the line across the street jeered and cursed us from their 
barracks. 

On the last day of February our regiment was dis 
banded, and the officers ordered to hold themselves in 
readiness to recruit the debris of a dragoon regiment, 
one squadron of which at once took possession of our 
miserable barracks. 

On the first day of March, by papers from London, 
we learned that the war was at an end, and that the 
preliminary treaty of Sunday, the 26th, had been sign 
ed at Versailles. 

The same mail brought to me an astonishing offer 
from Cairo, to assist in the reorganization and accept 
a commission in the Egyptian military police. Speed 
and I, shivering in our ragged uniforms by the bar 
rack stove, discussed the matter over a loaf of bread 
and a few sardines, until we fell asleep in our greasy 
chairs and dreamed of hot sunshine, and of palms, and 
of a crimson sunset against which a colossal basking 
monster, half woman, half lion, crouched, wallowing 
to her stone breasts in a hot sea of sand. 

When I awoke in the black morning hours I knew 
382 



THE SECRET 

that I should go. All the roaming instinct in me was 
roused. I, a nomad, had stayed too long in one stale 
place ; I must be moving on. A feverish longing seized 
me; inertia became unbearable; the restless sea called 
me louder and louder, thundering on the breakwater; 
the gulls, wheeling above the arsenal at dawn, screamed 
a challenge. 

Leave of absence, and permission to travel pending 
acceptance of my resignation, I asked for and obtained 
before the stable trumpets awoke my comrade from his 
heavy slumber by the barrack stove. 

I made my packet not much a few threadbare gar 
ments folded around her letters, one to mark each 
miserable day that had passed since I spurred my 
horse out of Tre"court on the track of the wickedest man 
I ever knew. 

Speed awoke with the trumpets, and stared at me 
where I knelt before the stove in my civilian clothes, 
strapping up my little packet. 

"Oh," he said, briefly, "I knew you were going." 

"So did I," I replied. "Will you ride to Tre"court 
with me? I have two weeks' permission for you." 

He had no clothing but the uniform he wore, and no 
baggage except a razor, a shirt, a tooth-brush, and a 
bundle of letters, all written on Madame de Vassart's 
crested paper, but not signed by her. 

We bolted our breakfast of soup and black bread, 
and bawled for our horses, almost crazed with impa 
tience, now that the moment had come at last. 

"Good-bye!" shouted the shivering dragoon officers, 
wistfully, as we wheeled our horses and spurred, clat 
tering, towards the black gates. " Good-bye and good 
luck! We drink to those you love, comrades!" 

"And they shall drink to you! Good-bye! Good 
bye!" we cried, till the salt sea- wind tore the words 
from our teeth and bowed our heads as we galloped 

383 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

through the suburbs and out into the icy high-road, 
where, above us, the telegraph-wires sang their whir 
ring dirge, and the wind in the gorse whistled, and the 
distant forest sounded and resounded with the gale's 
wailing. 

On, on, hammering the flinty road with steel-shod 
hoofs, racing with the racing clouds, thundering across 
the pontoon, where benumbed soldiers huddled to 
stare, then bounding forward through the narrow 
lanes of hamlets, where pinched faces peered out at 
us from hovels, and gaunt dogs fled from us into the 
frozen hedge. 

Far ahead we caught sight of the smoke of a loco 
motive. 

"Landerneau!" gasped Speed. "Ride hard, Scar 
lett!" 

The station-master saw us and halted the moving 
train at a frantic signal from Speed, whose uniform 
was to be reckoned with by all station-masters, and 
ten minutes later we stood swaying in a cattle-car, 
huddled close to our horses to keep warm, while the 
locomotive tore eastward, whistling frantically, and an 
ocean of black smoke poured past, swarming with 
sparks. Crossing the Aune trestle with a ripping roar, 
the train rushed through Chateaulin, south, then east, 
then south. 

Toward noon, Speed, clinging to the stall -bars, 
called out to me that he could see Quimper, and in a 
few moments we rolled into the station, dropped two 
cars, and steamed out again into the beautiful Breton 
country, where the winter wheat was green as new grass 
and the gorse glimmered, and the clear streams rushed 
seaward between their thickets of golden willows and 
green briers, already flushing with the promise of new 
buds. 

Rosporden we passed at full speed ; scarcely a patch 
384 



THE SECRET 

of melting snow remained at Bannalec; and when we 
steamed slowly into Quimperle 1 , the La'ita ran crystal- 
clear as a summer stream, and I saw the faint blue of 
violets on the southern slope of the beech-woods. 

Some gendarmes aided us to disembark our horses, 
and a sub-officer respectfully offered us hospitality at 
the barracks across the square; but we were in our sad 
dles the moment our horses' hoofs struck the pave 
ment, galloping for Paradise, with a sweet, keen wind 
blowing, hinting already of the sea. 

This was that same road which led me into Paradise 
on that autumn day which seemed years and years 
ago. The forests were leafless but beautiful ; the black 
thorns already promised their scented snow to follow 
the last melting drift which still glimmered among the 
trees in deep woodland gullies. A violet here and 
there looked up at us with blue eyes ; in sheltered spots, 
fresh, reddish sprouts pricked the moist earth, here a 
whorl of delicate green, there a tender spike, guarding 
some imprisoned loveliness; buds on the beeches were 
brightening under a new varnish; naked thickets, no 
longer dead gray, softened into harmonies of pink 
and gold and palest purple. 

Once, halting at a bridge, above the quick music 
of the stream we heard an English robin singing all 
alone. 

" I never longed for spring as I do now," broke out 
Speed. "The horror of this black winter has scarred 
me forever the deathly whiteness, month after month ; 
the freezing filth of that ghastly city ; the sea, all slime 
and ice!" 

"Gallop," I said, shuddering. "I can smell the 
moors of Paradise already. The winds will cleanse 
us." 

We spoke no more ; and at last the road turned to the 
east, down among the trees, and we were traversing 
s 385 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

the square of Paradise village, where white -capped 
women turned to look after us, and children stared at 
us from their playground around the fountain, and the 
sleek magpies fluttered out of our path as we galloped 
over the bridge and breasted the sweet, strong moor 
wind, spicy with bay and gorse. 

Speed flung out his arm, pointing. "The circus 
camp was there/' he said. " They have ploughed the 
clover under." 

A moment later I saw the tower of Trcourt, touched 
with a ray of sunshine, and the sea beyond, glittering 
under a clearing sky. 

As we dismounted in the court-yard the sun flashed 
out from the fringes of a huge, snowy cloud. 

"There is Jacquelinel" cried Speed, tossing his 
bridle to me in his excitement, and left me planted 
there until a servant came from the stable. 

Then I followed, every nerve quivering, almost dread 
ing to set foot within, lest happiness awake me and I 
find myself in the freezing barracks once more, my 
brief dream ended. 

In the hallway a curious blindness came over me. I 
heard Jacqueline call my name, and I felt her hands 
in mine, but scarcely saw her; then she slipped away 
from me, and I found myself seated in the little tea-room, 
listening to the dull, double beat of my own heart, trem 
bling at distant sounds in the house waiting, endless 
ly waiting. 

After a while a glimmer of common-sense returned 
to me. I squared my shoulders and breathed deeply, 
then rose and walked to the window. 

The twigs on the peach-trees had turned wine-color ; 
around the roots of the larkspurs delicate little pal- 
mated leaves clustered ; crocus spikes pricked the grass 
everywhere, and the tall, polished shoots of the peonies 
glistened, glowing crimson in the sun. A heavy cat 

386 



sunned its sleek flanks on the wall, brilliant eyes half 
closed, tail tucked under. Ange Pitou had grown 
very fat in three months. 

A step at the door, and I wheeled, trembling. But 
it was only a Breton maid, who bore some letters on a 
salver of silver. 

" For me?" I asked. 

"If you please/' she said, demurely. 

Two letters, and I knew the writing on one. The 
first I read standing : 

"BUFFALO, N. Y., Feb. 3, 1871. 

" MR. SCARLETT, DEAR SIR AND FRIEND, Trusting you're 
well I am pleased to admit the same, the blind Goddess having 
smiled on me and the circus since we quit that damn terra firma 
for a more peeceful climb. 

" We are enjoying winter quarters near to the majestic phe 
nomena of Niagara, fodder is cheap and vittles bountiful. 

" Would be pleased to have you entertain idees ot joining us, 
and the same to Mr. Speed you can take the horses. I have 
a lion man from Jersey City. We open in Charleston S. C. 
next week no more of La continong for me, savvy voo! home is 
good enough for me. That little Jacqueline left me I got a girl 
and am training her but she ain't Jacqueline. Annimals are 
well Mrs. Grigg sends her love and is joined by all especially 
the ladies and others too numerous to mention. Hoping to hear 
from you soon about the horses I remain yours truly and cour 
teously, H. BYRAM ESQ." 

The second letter I opened carelessly, smiling a 
little: 

"NEW YORK, Feb. i, 1871. 

" DEAR MR. SCARLETT, We were married yesterday. We 
have life before us, but are not afraid. I shall never forget you ; 
my wife can never forget the woman you love. We have both 
passed through hell but we have passed through alive. And 
we pray for the happiness of you and yours. 

" KELLY EYRE." 

Sobered, I laid this letter beside the first, turned 
thoughtfully away into the room, then stood stock- 
still. 

387 



THE MAIDS OF PARADISE 

The Countess de Vassart stood in the doorway, a 
smile trembling on her lips. In her gray eyes I read 
hope ; and I took her hands in mine. She stood silent 
with bent head, exquisite in her silent shyness ; and I 
told her I loved her, and that I asked for her love ; that 
I had found employment in Egypt, and that it was suf 
ficient to justify my asking her to wed me. 

"As for my name/' I said, "you know that is not 
the name I bear; yet, knowing that, you have given 
me your love. You read my dossier in Paris; you 
know why I am alone, without kin, without a family, 
without a home. Yet you believe that I am not tainted 
with dishonor. And I am not. Listen, this is what 
happened ; this is why I gave up all ; and . . . this is 
my name!" . . . 

And I bent my head and whispered the truth for the 
first time in my life to any living creature. 

When I had ended I stood still, waiting, head still 
bowed beside hers. 

She laid her hand on my hot face and slowly drew it 
close beside hers. 

"What shall I promise you?" she whispered. 

"Yourself, Eline." 

"Take me. ... Is that all?" 

"Your love." 

She turned in my arms and clasped her hands be 
hind my head, pressing her mouth to mine. 



THE END 



l\ "