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THE LIBRARY 

OF 

THE UNIVERSITY 
OF CALIFORNIA 

LOS ANGELES 



THE METROPOLITANS 



THE 

METROPOLITANS 



BY 

JEANIE DRAKE 




NEW YORK 
THE CENTURY CO. 

1896 



Copyright, 1896, by 
THE CENTURY Co. 



THE DtViNNE PREM. 



ps 



THE METROPOLITANS 



1522705 




THE METROPOLITANS 



|HE full moon, sailing across the sky 
above Staten Island, in serene indiffer 
ence to mundane revel, might have per 
ceived that the fifth annual ball of the 
Hunt Club was nearly at an end. Her 
light on the hoar-frost made grass and late foliage 
everywhere sparkle with myriad crystals, hid itself in 
hollowed wave and umbrageous forest near, and only 
gave way before long pencils of warmer, rosier rays, 
which shot forth now and then from the open doorway 
of a great illuminated building. The brittle earth 
crackled beneath the hoofs of champing horses wait 
ing outside. Impatient coachmen came and went, flap 
ping their arms together to keep warm, like grotesque 
birds in livery; finding small comfort in the fitful 
bursts of music which came from within, but more 
in visits to the rear premises of the G-oldenrod Inn, 
whence they issued wiping their mouths with the backs 
of their hands. 

"There 's to be another supper after the women 
goes. I 'm here till mornin', I 'd wager me soul ! " 
i i 



2 THE METROPOLITANS 

grumbled Mr. Pundit's coachman, with a prodigious 
yawn. 

"Vy don't you bet somethin' large?" responded 
Lady Mellon's man, disdainfully. " That there yawn, 
f r i'stauce. I thought you 'd a-swallerred me ! " 

" No ; I ain't takin' bitters in mine," chuckled Denis, 
restored to good humor by the subtlety of his own 
retort courteous. 

In the new wing of the Goldenrod, the great ball 
room resounded to the strains of the Hungarian band 
hidden in an alcove, from which protruded two arti 
ficial heads of horses apparently feeding. 

" Is that what you end-of-the-century moderns call 
realism in decoration, Mr. Penrose?" asked, with a 
smile, a pleasant-faced old man, directing his neigh 
bor's attention to these bronzed effigies. 

" I rather fancy, Mr. de Mansur," said the younger, 
adjusting his eye-glasses, " that Archie Pundit prides 
himself especially on that touch. He generally orders 
matters and takes the fatal slide from the artistic 
to the ridiculous. Otherwise, those corn-stalks and 
sheaves of straw and pumpkins and vines, and the 
rest of the weeds, are not half bad as a background 
for the men's pink coats and the women's gowns." 

"Why are you not in pink yourself!" asked the 
elder man, kindly, looking up at his tall, thin compan 
ion, whose quite smooth face, with its marked features 
and very fair coloring, made him noticeable. " I hear 
that you ride very straight to hounds." 

" I am not a club member only an invited guest." 

" Well, cucullus non facit monachum. I think I 've 
heard something of an impromptu leap, was it not ? 



THE METROPOLITANS 3 

But now I must find my daughter and go. You young 
fellows may sit up the rest of the night at your late 
supper, but I want a few hours' sleep before going back 
to the city." 

He went off with a roll in his walk suggestive of in 
creased avoirdupois. Stephen Penrose, who remained 
behind, looked as expressionless as usual ; but he had 
noted, with those near-sighted eyes which missed very 
little, the withdrawal of Miss de Mansur and her last 
partner into a nook among the vines, where they would 
not be easily found. 

This partner, whose straight, well-knit figure and 
clear, dark tints went well with his scarlet coat, was 
leaning over Katherine at the moment, and mur 
muring : 

"The quotation is trite, but cannot be improved, 
when I say that when you dance with me I wish that 
you might ever do nothing but that." 

"Oh," smiled the slim girl in pale blue and silver, 
still a little breathless from the last measures of " San 
tiago/' " what a useful career you would sketch out for 
me in this age of enlightenment, progress, and women's 
clubs ! Even papa, who would not have me a judge, 
say, or a railroad official, approves of fresh-air societies, 
hospital missions, and needlework guilds, not to speak 
of art clubs and Browning societies. Life was a much 
simpler matter in Perdita's time, you know. Her prin 
cipal occupation seemed to be picking flowers and pay 
ing compliments ; but now, in this year of grace, I shall 
feel that to-night's pleasure calls for some bit of un 
comfortable, disagreeable work, by way of equalizing 
things with my conscience." 



4 THE METROPOLITANS 

" Then the sooner you acquire a conscience like hers 
the better, I should think," ventured this bold youth. 
" A woman and a flower, now, what can they do more 
useful than just to bloom ? And all pretty blossoms 
should live in sunshine." 

" Oh, what an enervating doctrine ! And what 
would become of those without sunlight unless helped 
to some by the more fortunate ? In the mean time " 
(with a touch of self-accusing humility according 
well with her gracious maidenhood), "I am afraid 
these untimely misgivings are only the dash of bitter 
I wilfully add to make my cup more piquant. I would 
not appear better than I am." The upward glance of 
the great clear eyes, which accompanied a little confi 
dential sigh, gave his heart a quick throb. 

" Than you are ? O Katherine ! " 

The musicians had left the room ; there was a soft 
flutter and hum of many people passing into the hall ; 
the spicy smell of the evergreens was around them. 
Her sudden color at his calling her by her first name 
might have been of good or ill omen ; but just here a 
stately woman in black and gold parted the vines of 
their alcove, and stood before them. 

" Pardon the interruption, my dear Miss de Mansur, 
but Lord Mellon has just let me know the hour, and 
I think the women are going. Allan, I want a word 
with you before leaving, if you can see me to the 
carriage." 

Katherine was already herself. " Indeed, I should 
find papa, then," she said ; " and, Lady Mellon, if you 
sail to-morrow, I will bid you good-by now, and wish 
you a safe and pleasant voyage." She had it in her 



THE METROPOLITANS 6 

mind confusedly to add something of regret that 
American society should lose Lady Mellon to the gain 
of Europe, but ceased with relief on her father's ap 
proach ; for, indeed, Lady Mellon was haughtily cold, 
and the girl hated small social hypocrisies. In the 
hallway, Mr. Archibald Pundit, monocle and all, stood, 
as chairman of the committee, speeding the fair de 
parting guests and receiving their compliments. 

" Ah, yes, thank you ! I think myself, don't you 
know, that the decorations were fair. Intended to 
represent a barn, don't you see. Cornelius, if you 
will absent yourself from the little stag supper with 
which we propose to finish the night, I suppose we 
must forgive you, for the sake of your fair daughter, 
one of our stars. Ahem ! ah, thank you ! I hope it 
was a success, and that you were not bored, don't you 
know. No, Van Krippen ; I am not alluding to you, 
though I am aware you tried to dance with Miss de 
Mansur six times. Ah! good night, Lady Mellon; I 
shall have the honor of wishing you bon voyage on the 
deck of the Astoria. Have an indulgent thought for 
our little reunions on this side when you are treading 
the historic halls of the old country. "We cannot help, 
don't you see, getting things a little mixed over here. 
Though" (lowering his voice a fraction), "if I had my 
way, my dear madam, you would n't have to meet 
printers and such fellows, don't you know, at a hunt 
ball." 

"If you mean Stephen Penrose," here interposed 
Allan Rexf ord, on whose arm his mother leaned, " you 
are mistaken, Mr. Pundit. He is a very clever journal 
istassistant editor on the daily ' Argus.' " 



6 THE METROPOLITANS 

" You may be right ; it 's quite the same thing, don't 
you know. When I was young, you did n't meet trades 
people or any of these fellows anywhere. Why, Lady 
Mellon " (in a tragic whisper), " I believe that man had 
on a ready-made tie at the meet yesterday a thing, 
don't you know, that stamps a fellow at once, you 
understand." 

Lady Mellon had just time to say to her son, before 
reaching the carriage, " Come to me at the Battenberg, 
Allan, a little while before we leave. I w r ant to speak 
to you." 

" I would be there in any case, my dear mother," he 
answered heartily. " I must have a farewell romp with 
the boy." Her carnage made way for the De Mansurs', 
and he had the miraculous good fortune of handing 
Katherine into hers ; and the further luck of reverently 
detaching a young goddess's lace furbelow from an im 
pertinent hinge. If the sibyl ever raised her white lids 
to give a votary a swift glance and say, " We shall soon 
see you in town, of course," no doubt her client inter 
preted the remark as absolutely favorable to his wishes. 
Be that as it may, this young man sped gaily through 
the vestibule again, and up the broad staircase three 
steps at a time. So radiant was his aspect, indeed, that 
Penrose hailed him from the group of men gathered 
outside the supper-room. 

" Where has our young Apollo been, that his eyes 
are as stars and he treads on air ? Pursuing a nymph 
through Staten Island woods ? or merely sampling the 
Goldenrod brand of nectar, otherwise Pommery Sec. ? " 

" He has n't had a chance at anything half so good," 
grumbled little Morty van Krippen, puffing at a cigar 



THE METROPOLITANS 7 

much too big for him. " That was beastly stuff at the 
ladies' supper." 

"Then Mr. Pundit showed some sense in that, at 
least," observed Penrose. "It would be throwing 
pearls before angels, who never wear them, to give 
good wine to women. The dear things, when they 're 
talking, don't know what they 're drinking or saying, 
either, sometimes." 

" Oh, come, Penrose," objected Rexf ord, to whom in 
his present mood this was profane, "were you born 
cynical, or have you simply acliieved it ? " 

"I have had it thrust upon me, my dear fellow. 
Before I lived this time, I was Timon of Athens ; and 
before that Samson, I think. There go the last of the 
women " (leaning over the balustrade). " Watch old 
Archie bowing them out ! " 

" For Sir Jacob thought he bowed like a Guelf, 
And therefore he bowed to imp and elf, 
And would have made a bow to himself 
Had such a bow been feasible," 

murmured Rexford; but he had the grace to blush 
when Mr. Pundit, coming up unperceived, laid a sudden 
hand on his shoulder. 

"My dear boy, when your honored mother leaves, 
you must let me take an interest in you; as your 
lamented father's friend, don't you know. Your ma 
jority comes to-morrow, I think I have heard. You 
must let me drink your health presently, don't you see." 

" I must drink that too," said Penrose, as they fol 
lowed the old gentleman in. "You 're coming into 
your kingdom ! " This man, reputed very cold, gave 



8 THE METROPOLITANS 

a look of great kindliness to fortune's favorite, young, 
handsome, and soon to be very wealthy, whom he 
generously admired as frank, honest, and still un 
spoiled. 

The supper-room resounded already with the buzz 
of talk among the men, divided into little knots. Foot 
men, in the club livery, moved swiftly hither and 
thither. With a surcease of the women's voices and 
tinkling ripple of laughter, had come a louder, noisier 
note in the merriment, and a franker abandonment to 
the pleasures of the table. The talk drifted mainly 
now on two subjects : the incidents of yesterday's 
hunt, and some very choice vintages, brought forth by 
Mr. Pundit's orders. 

" This Madeira," he was saying, " is from the South. 
Picked up there by one of the Barings, you understand. 
It had been around the Cape two or three times ; but 
something went wrong in the way he treated it, and it 
turned out badly, you see. I heard of it, and made a 
special trip to England, and he was very glad, you com 
prehend, to have me take it off his hands. Nursed it 
back to health myself, and I think you will say, my 
dear sir, you have n't tasted anything much finer. I 
must justify the implicit confidence the club places in 
my judgment, don't you know " (his monocle gleamed 
sagaciously) ; " and you '11 find the Brut Imperial, '63, 
they serve with the next course, fit for the gods. Yes, 
Lord Mellon " (to the bald, languid, elderly little man 
at his right) ; " yesterday's course was a hard one, but 
so much the better. Our cross-country riders will im 
prove with such runs. I wish they might have, as I 
did, a season or two over in your country with the 



THE METROPOLITANS 9 

Royal Hunt. But even then it 's my unalterable con 
viction, don't you know, that their style will never 
equal yours." 

"An unalterable conviction," commented Penrose, 
in an undertone, "proclaims, according to Sydney 
Smith, an unalterable ass." 

" Then don't contradict him," said Rexford, in the 
same key ; " for you know the proverb, ' It is a waste 
of lather to shave an ass.' " 

" I wonder," sputtered little Van Krippen, with his 
mouth full, "if it was his practice with the buck 
hounds made him come a cropper over that post and 
rail yesterday. And oh, by Jove ! Mr. Penrose, I don't 
know when I 've laughed as I did when he slipped off 
at the water jump, and you vaulted on his mare and 
cleared the brook in such style, and rode her to the 
finish." 

" He is an elderly man, and I did n't come down to 
ride, and should n't have done it ; but I was standing 
close by when he declined the jump, and I rushed at the 
gallant little mare's bridle before I thought. I have 
apologized since, of course," said Penrose, quietly. 

" I don't believe he '11 forgive you," laughed Rexford ; 
" but it was good riding, old fellow, and a good joke ! " 

An echo of his joyous laugh reached the chairman, 
who raised his glass to him and Van Krippen, pointedly 
ignoring Penrose. International riding was still the 
theme at the head of the table, and from out the con 
fusion of tongues Lord Mellon's indifferent drawl could 
be distinguished : 

" I Ve heard my father say he saw the jump himself, 
in the White Hart at Aylesbury, at a steward's dinner. 



10 THE METROPOLITANS 

Over table and all and back again. A nasty risk to take 
even if a horse will come up-stairs." 

" I believe I could bring my roan up now, and make 
him jump this one," declared Allan Rexford, impetu 
ously. It may have been the Brut Imperial or mere 
joy in living that made the youth so ready this even 
ing to drink up Esil, eat a crocodile, or perform any 
such trifling task. 

" Don't be rash, lad," said Peurose. 

" Why not try it, then ? " murmured Lord Mellon, 
with half-shut eyes. " I would back you to any amount." 

Some further animated discussion, and then several of 
the men accompanied Rexford down to the stable. In 
a short while their voices and a heavy lumbering noise 
on the stairs preceded Rexford's return, bringing by 
the halter his spirited little roan. He led it around the 
wide room, resting before the great log fire blazing in 
the huge fireplace. " The jump ! the jump ! " called 
many voices. The scarlet-coated lookers-on hastily 
grouped themselves against the walls here and there, 
odds being given and taken. The chairs were removed 
from the table, otherwise left untouched, with fruit and 
flowers, glasses, decanters, and candelabra, and many 
wax-lights burning. " My father said it was so on the 
occasion he spoke of," suggested Lord Mellon, listlessly. 
Then Rexford, his eyes sparkling and cheeks flushing 
with the novelty of the enterprise, sprang on the bare 
backed roan, struck him with his heel, and sent him 
over table and appointments, just clearing them ; but 
the animal's hoof catching in the edge of the cloth, 
pulled it off and broke a few glasses. Upon which, 
without hesitating, he turned, and, with a cry and blow 



THE METROPOLITANS 11 

on the neck from his right palm, sent him over again 
in perfect style. There was a storm of applause and 
congratulations as he dismounted. Archie Pundit 
ceased strolling excitedly about, to shake his hand 
and exclaim jerkily, " My dear young friend, my heart 
was in my mouth, to use a vulgar phrase, until you 
were over, don't you know. I was telling Lord Mellon 
that I disapproved highly disapproved, I may say of 
your valuable neck being so endangered : a man who 
comes to-morrow, don't you know, into such a fortune 
as yours. Some of these penniless nobodies, now." 
His glance rested, accidentally perhaps, on Penrose. 

" How are you going to get him down again ? " the 
latter asked Rexford. " That '11 be the real difficulty, 
as I suppose you don't mean to emulate General 
Putnam." 

The roan did, in fact, object to the descent. He 
went quietly enough along the narrow strip of carpet 
laid on the polished oak hall floor, but not one step 
downward could he be induced to take. After repeated 
efforts had failed, Penrose suggested their leading him 
to the extreme end of the hall, blindfolding him, then 
bringing him steadily along without stopping even an 
instant at the head of the staircase. By this means he 
took the first steps of the descent without knowing, and, 
though he stumbled and fell on his knees, scrambled 
on somehow. Penrose and Rexford, holding him 
tightly by the head, encouraged and got him down, 
with no damage except to the balusters. 

" Who's that thin-legged, cold-blooded, sleepy-look 
ing chap ? " asked one man of another, as they went out 
into the nipping air of morning. " Sat next Pundit 



12 THE METROPOLITANS 

at the head of the table, and put Rexford up to the 
jump." 

" That 's his loving stepfather, Lord Mellon," said 
the other. 

The gentleman in question, just then burying his 
nose in the fur collar of his overcoat, confided to its 
depths the murmured remark, "Seems a pity, 'pon 
honor, that young idiot did n't break his neck. It 
would have saved his mother a deuced unpleasant 
half-hour or so before we sail." 




II 



the quiet region bordering on Second 
Avenue in New York, overlooking Stuy- 
vesant Square, and under the shadow of 
St. George's steeple, there are some fine 
and stately old houses family mansions, 
whose occupants, having dwelt there for several gen 
erations, obstinately resist the tide of change and fash 
ion sweeping their neighbors up-town. 

" If you really wished it, Katherine dear, we might 
buy another without its quite ruining us," Cornelius 
de Mansur would say of one of these houses. " But 
you see, my father and grandfather were born and died 
here ; and I should like to die here myself, if you don't 
mind, my dear." 

" But I do mind, you dreadful papa ! " the girl would 
cry, rumpling his gray hair with her pretty hands. 
" You have my gracious permission to stay here only 
on condition that you never die, but just soar upward 
after a hundred years or so ! " 

" I will need strong pinions to accomplish that if I 
keep on getting stouter," he chuckled contentedly, set 
tling down again to his books and papers. 

In truth, she was as fond as he of this old library, with 
its deep bow- windows, from which one saw the trees and 

13 



14 THE METROPOLITANS 

walks of the square, alive with twittering, hopping spar 
rows. His great writing-table of black oak stood here, 
with silver inkstand and fittings ; and around two sides 
of the room ran bookcases, filled to overflowing with 
works of all dates and editions, Mr. de Mansur's great 
treasure. Most of the heavy old furniture was of the 
black oak; a few pieces being covered with faded 
tapestry, worked by his mother and her mother. The 
walls in crimson tones were hung with a portrait or 
two, and a fine collection of old colored prints in nar 
row, unobtrusive frames, among them a few good 
examples of the lost art of colored stippling in its 
perfection. And in front of the open fireplace stood a 
quaint couch with square adjustable ends, Katherine's 
favorite resting-place. Here she could dream, with her 
head among the countless pillows, and her feet resting 
on a tiger's head, whose skin had come all the way from 
Africa as a present from Mr. de Mansur's nephew, an 
amateur explorer. 

" Reginald never said he shot that tiger," Cornelius 
would remark, "but he 's just the fellow to shoot a 
tiger if he could n't get out of its way, and the tiger 
did n't have first innings. Now that sounds like a pun, 
which is unworthy of an honest man, eh, Katherine ? 
Well, never mind ; it was accidental. Did I tell you 
that Reginald was very proud of a new idea of his for 
impressing the ignorant savage with the white man's 
superiority ? He has taken with him an immense num 
ber of kid gloves, of which he always wears a pair in 
any interview with native chiefs. Then, somewhere 
in the talk, he draws them slowly off, to the awed 
amazement of the crude African, who naturally con- 



THE METROPOLITANS 15 

eludes that it is the skin of his hands which he can 
peel off at any time with impunity ! He would like to 
have a patent on the idea, I fancy ; but I wrote him I 
did n't think it so good as my poor friend, Sir Charles 
Dormer's. He had a glass eye in latter years (I was 
traveling with him on the Continent when he lost his 
own), and while he was parleying with Arab chiefs in 
Egypt, he used coolly to pluck out his eye, twirl it in 
the air, and put it back ; which had, they told me, a very 
inspiring effect. I might compliment Reginald more ; 
but he 7 s a youth, as your Mortimer van Krippen would 
say, who is the better for being sat upon a little. Not 
your Van Krippen ? No, my love ; I was jesting, of 
course. I know my Katherine better. We are not 
such worshipers of the golden calf, either of us, as to 
offer him such a sacrifice as that ! You need not go ; 
you are not in my way at all if you '11 just keep quiet 
and not talk so much ! " 

Katherine smiled ; she had spoken just once. She 
stayed, knowing that the waves of her bright hair 
showing over the sofa were a delight to her father in 
the intervals of his scholarly researches ; but not know 
ing that sometimes, as now, the sight was a useful de 
terrent from some extravagance. He tore up slowly 
and dropped in the waste-basket a letter just finished, 
ordering a very costly work newly brought out by his 
club of clubs, the Grolier. " My Katherine will have 
such a modest fortune when I go," he thought, " that 
I am a selfish wretch to spend so much on these 
things." He frowned at an imaginary greedy, un 
scrupulous, bibliophile self, in whom others would not 
have recognized the one parent, guardian, teacher, in- 



16 THE METROPOLITANS 

timate companion Katherine had known since her 
mother's early death. The scratching of his pen now, 
the crackling of the burning logs, the rustling leaves 
of Katherine's book, alone disturbed the silence for a 
while. Then, " What has my lassie there ? " he asked. 

" You will smile when I say ' Henry Esmond ' again. 
It ought to be, perhaps, some modern story, dealing 
with a question of the day, or something realistic, or 
something with a stern and resolute purpose. But 
when the great masters hold the mirror up to nature, 
the picture is so much more vivid and picturesque." 

"Athanasius against the world! A maiden free 
lance against the professional critics ! " said her father, 
with a twinkle in his eye. " You should read for im 
provement. And would you really place ' Vanity Fair ' 
or ' Pride and Prejudice ' before works of the apostles 
of realism ? " 

" I would n't place them at all, but just enjoy them, 
and let the others alone. You don't know that charm 
ing essayist, papa, but you must know her, who ob 
jects to having an instructive work thrust on her as 
though it were 'paregoric or a porous plaster,' and 
thanks Heaven that, 'whatever the eccentricities of 
fiction writers to come, they cannot take from us the 
past.'" 

" Fiction as a vehicle for preaching is bad art, I am 
sure," said he ; "but" (persisting) "realism, now; I 
thought Ibsen and some of that school were rather a 
fad among the younger people." 

" Perhaps ; among those that would sup on cucum 
bers and beer to get a nightmare, or visit dissecting- 
rooms for pleasure ! Useful and necessary statistics, 



THE METROPOLITANS 17 

now essays on social and" But any deeper plunge 
into the ethics of the question was prevented by a 
footman's entrance, announcing, " Miss Lavender and 
Miss van Krippen." 

" We ventured to follow the man, Katherine," said 
a thin, sweetly childish voice from under the portiere, 
11 though we know this is your papa's sanctum. But 
it is so delightfully quaint ! " 

The speaker was a girl, small and plump ; pink and 
white as to skin, very blond and fluffy as to hair; 
daintily picturesque as a Greuze shepherdess. She 
was still under twenty, but, armed with rare native 
self-possession, and a lorgnette which she did not 
need, would have confronted all the monarchs of Eu 
rope, including the Emperor William, with the same 
smiling confidence with which she bearded Cornelius 
de Mansur in his lair. She preceded a woman many 
years older and much thinner, with very black eyes 
and hair, in dress a modified and fairly acceptable 
fashion-plate. 

" I beg you to believe, Mr. de Mansur," said the lat 
ter, with some asperity, " that when Miss van Krippen 
says ' we/ she means herself only. I hope before she 
leaves me she will allow no impulse to hurry her into 
unconventionalities." 

"You are ahem! very welcome, Miss Lavender," 
said Cornelius. " Take this arm-chair. I can recom 
mend it for comfort. Our ahem! intimates fre 
quently drop in here, though it is called my study." 

Miss Lavender sat quite erect' on the edge of her 
chair, her bony, neatly gloved hands folded over a 
card-case. 



18 THE METROPOLITANS 

" Our dear Miss Lavender," said Angelica van Krip- 
pen, smiling sweetly, "has been a little ruffled this 
morning, which, under the circumstances, was quite 
natural. Katherine and Mr. de Mansur would sym 
pathize, I am sure, Miss Lavender." 

"Miss van Krippen alludes to a meeting of the 
Provincial Matrons which I have been attending, and 
in which, I am ashamed to say, there was much un 
seemly excitement displayed. With your lineage, Miss 
de Mansur" (parenthetically), "I am surprised that you 
are not a member." Katherine checked a smile at her 
father's expression of countenance. "You have but 
little leisure? Ah, well, perhaps it might be better 
for you to wait now and see the outcome of this this 
little difference." 

"A very pretty quarrel as it stands," murmured 
Angelica, who was peering at the engravings through 
her lorgnette. 

"I thought from the beginning," pursued Miss 
Lavender, " that there was a lack of shall I say par 
liamentary courtesy? in their methods of electing 
officers. Those in office would just retire for a while, 
and then come out and report that they had reflected 
themselves. But the real trouble began after the elec 
tion of a new member at the last meeting. They find 
now that she is not directly descended from the patroon 
whom she claims as ancestor. We wanted her to go 
out again peaceably and quietly, and she would n't, 
which was not ladylike, to say the least, Mr. de Man 
sur, and actually had her lawyers take it up and say 
that as the society was an incorporated one, being once 
in she had the right to stay in. I did n't care so much 



THE METROPOLITANS 19 

about that " (with an impartial air), " though it caused 
scandal, as the vice-president was responsible, and has 
acted in what I must consider bad taste all along 
keeping her own two sisters out on some pretext, and 
telling Mrs. Crowne Derby that the Derby ancestor, 
coining from Virginia, which was a penal colony, 
could not be considered ! Then the Royall Worces- 
ters; she detained them here a whole winter from 
their Egyptian trip, hunting up positive evidence of 
their descent from Dietrich Knickerbocker, which every 
one admitted. But " (and here the card-case began to 
tremble) " it was my own personal difficulty with her 
which has agitated me somewhat. As you know, Mr. 
de Mansur, I am a Philadelphian, and, during my hon 
ored and wealthy papa's lifetime, little expected ever 
to be in charge of a young ladies' finishing academy. 
However, it is a noble mission. But when that Doul- 
ton-Minton person presumes to tell me that my revered 
ancestor, Benjamin Franklin, was too light and gay to 
be considered as a proper and respectable founder of 
a family, I confess that only an unswerving habit of 
decorum restrained me ! " She paused to smooth out 
an unbecoming frown. 

" Heavens and earth ! " cried Cornelius, with simu 
lated heat, to cover an inappropriate twinkle behind his 
glasses. " My dear Miss Lavender, Benjamin Franklin 
too gay or frisky ! I should have thought him in all 
respects a first-class ancestor. It must be a case of 
pure envy in Mrs. Doulton-Minton." 

"Katherine," Miss van Krippen softly interjected 
here, " you promised to show me that new water-color 
in the music-room. Excuse us for a few moments." 



20 THE METROPOLITANS 

She drew Katherine away at once. " And now," slie ex 
claimed triumphantly outside, her arm in her friend's, 
' the next time she objects to my going anywhere with 
out a chaperon at fifty cents an hour, I will say, * Why, 
you did not mind my leaving you alone with Mr. de 
Mansur.' That will break her all up. Imagine ! she 
wanted me to apply for admission inio those Provin 
cial Matrons ! " 

" And why did you not ? " 

" Katheriue ! you know very well. I might not be 
such a fool in any case j but in this case, my name 's 
McGregor, my foot is on my native heath, and I pro 
pose to keep it there." 

"You did not tell her that?" 

" Not exactly. I told her simply that the Van Krip- 
pens were so very exclusive that they hesitated to join 
any association for any purpose whatever; and that 
I had not noticed in the Matrons that repose which 
stamps the caste of Vere de Vere. My dear, their 
personalities to each other this afternoon would have 
made a wooden Indian blush ! And if that was their 
opinion of Benjamin Franklin, I wonder what they 
would think of John Cripps, who kept a little store in 
a mining-camp out in Colorado some years ago, and 
made a fortune which they do sincerely admire." 

"If they thought as I do" 

"Oh, you, Katherine ! " (with an impulsive embrace). 
" "When they left me here to be finished at Miss Lav 
ender's, and then launched in society, I do believe I 
should have died of nothing but hardness and world- 
liness all around me if it had n't been for that lucky 
visit to the blind woman's place, where I met my 



THE METROPOLITANS 21 

Katherine ; so the little bit of charity she lets me do 
with a chaperon had more than its reward. But 
cheerily, ho, my lads ! Let 's not be sentimental. I 
had a letter from mamma yesterday. She writes, in 
French, that Anastelle is getting on nicely at school 
there, and will soon forget all her English, she hopes. 
Papa, too, is getting over what she calls idioms, and 
she makes him read French novels day and night. He 
writes that he hates everything and everybody there, 
and wishes he was back in Colorado. He loves work? 
and never read a bit of fiction before in his life, ex 
cept ' The Children of the Abbey ' when he was a boy. 
That 's how my brother came to be called Mortimer, 
and I Amanda. Mamma added Angelica, and I insisted 
on being called that w r hen I was older. Mamma com 
posed the name of Anastelle herself Anastelle 
Mauveleen is the whole name. And it was her idea 
to change Cripps into Van Krippen when we moved 
East. She thought it was more harmonious with 
the New York atmosphere ! " 

She broke off her clear-toned, monotonous ripple 
of talk at this, to join heartily in Katherine's merry 
laughter. "Miss de Mansur," she resumed, "I feel 
guilty at being tempted into such reckless revelations. 
It is only with you, and in confidence, believe me. 
Will you kindly show me the new aquarelle ? " Her 
manner now was in patent imitation of the respected 
Miss Lavender's. She added, in an absurdly stilted 
tone, " Ah ! that is a truly delicious bit of color, prov 
ing an artistic feeling which is as rare as it is admi 
rable in so young an artist. It adds to the charm of 
an already charming room." 



22 THE METROPOLITANS 

In point of fact, the room teas charming. Its cream 
and gold tints were relieved by water-colors, most of 
them Katherine's own work; and an old Sheraton 
cabinet, with a few fine bits of ceramics and Venetian 
glass, filled a corner opposite to that where the piano 
stood. The man came in now with a basket of or 
chids, a card attached with Mr. van Krippen's name. 

" How kind your brother is ! " said Katherine. 

Her friend looked at her earnestly more earnestly 
than was her wont and answered quietly, "Yes; 
Morty is not always brilliant, bnt he is always kind, 
and the best-hearted fellow." 

The man interrupted again, bearing just a knot of 
fragrant violets and a card, on which was penciled, 
without a name: 

Violets dim, 

Bat sweeter than the lids of Juno's eyes, 
Or.Cytherea's breath. 

The sender was some one who knew the girl's taste 
in flowers and verse. 

" Mortimer was telling me," Angelica went on, " of 
some feat of your friend, Mr. Rexf ord's, at the late 
supper of the Hunt Club. You heard, perhaps? 
Some sort of Pegasus performance flying his horse 
over the table. Mortimer was so eloquent about the 
daring of it, and about the club wine, that somehow 
I " (with malice) " have mixed the two matters up." 

' It was daring in the horse, at least, who had had 
no wine," said Katherine, carelessly. 

" By the way, Morty tells me that Mr. Rexford is 
very musical composes." 

" ( Fanatico per la musica,' as Italians call it Here 



THE METEOPOLITANS 23 

is a song of which, he has just set the words to music. 
You might like it." 

" Your words ? or his own, perhaps ? " 

" Neither ; only some I chanced to fancy in a maga 
zine. It is called ' Retribution/ by Stanton, I think." 
Her voice was a mezzo-soprano of limited compass, but 
sweetness which gave effect to the minor strain. 

" Once, when I was poor, 
Love knocked at my door. 
'Some sad wretch/ I said, 'who begs, 
And my cup drained to the dregs.' 
So I cursed him from the light, 
Out into the homeless night." 

Some one here entered, preventing James from an 
nouncing him, and stood beside Angelica, who nodded 
silently. Katheriue sang again : 

" Once, with golden store, 
I knocked at Love's sweet door. 
'Some sad wretch,' he cried, 'whose gold 
Would my loving breast enfold ! ' 
So he cursed me from the light, 
Out into the homeless night." 

" Out into the homeless night the homeless night 
the homeless night ! " chimed in vibrant male tones 
with the plaintive refrain. 

" Ah ! " cried Angelica, " that is lovely. I am ready 
to weep ! Not at the sentiment, Mr. Rexford ; I am 
impervious to that ; it is the music thrills me." 

" Thank you, Miss van Krippen ; but an emotional 
crisis brought on by art should not be expressed in 
tears. It should take the form of cold chills running 
up and down the spine. Remember that, please, 



24 THE METROPOLITANS 

when you listen to the great Wagner of whom a 
humorist remarks that his music is not so bad as it 
sounds." 

Katherine, who had started a little at the unexpected 
voice, had gone on playing the melody in soft chords. 

" I must thank you" she began now. 

"You must rather forgive me for venturing in 
when I have to leave so hurriedly. My mother sails 
this afternoon, and I am due at her rooms now, but 
could not resist coming in for a moment to ask your 
good wishes. It is my birthday ; and I have a sort of 
superstition about having my friends' good wishes." 

Angelica van Krippen had a shrewd suspicion that 
the friends whose good wishes were a superstition 
with this young man were limited to one; but the 
Dresden-china maiden thought of Morty, and did not 
move away. " If, as I have heard, your majority was 
fixed for this, your twenty-fifth birthday," she said, 
" there is little left for your friends to wish you, Mr. 
Rexford. With youth, health, and a competence, be 
sides a very pretty talent for music, Prince Fortunatus 
might be satisfied." 

"And yet I am not," he said ardently, with spar 
kling eyes, "but seem to crave what is it I do want? 
Oh, yes, just a flower or two." He fixed an appealing 
glance on Katherine, who faintly colored, selecting a 
few violets. He must have taken them awkwardly, 
for they fell on the polished floor, and down he went 
on his knees, which necessitated turning his back to 
Miss van Krippen, and permitted him, seen only of 
Katherine, to press the flowers to his lips before fast 
ening them in his buttonhole. And he was gone, and 



THE METROPOLITANS 25 

a minute later bowling away from the front door in 
his trimly appointed dog-cart. 

"I hear my revered preceptress's voice in the hall 
now," declared Angelica. " She will have talked your 
father limp by this time. Let us go to his rescue ! " 

Miss Lavender was, indeed, awaiting her pupil with 
a look of lofty displeasure, and she would not hear of 
waiting until tea was brought in. " The drive to the 
Park is a long one, as Miss van Krippen is aware," 
said she, stiffly, "and we shall hardly have time to 
dress for dinner." 

As she followed in her wake to the waiting coupe, 
Angelica, in allusion to the lady principal's glacial 
kiss, said demurely, " I hope, Katherine dear, you will 
not have bronchitis. You had better see now to your 
poor dear papa." 

11 ' Poor dear papa/ in truth," Katherine said, half 
laughing; "you do look as though you needed a re 
storative. Sit down in your own chair again, and I 
will bring you your tea ; and you shall drink it while 
I sit here at your knee." 

" It was an ordeal, Katherine," he presently admitted 
in an exhausted tone, between sips. " I did not know 
there was a woman alive who could, in my own library, 
make me listen to anecdotes of Franklin in his boy 
hood ! But how you look, my beauty ! Such shining 
eyes, and so bright and sweet, and smelling of violets. 
Does the saucy Angelica's talk give all that radiance f " 

" Oh ! we had other callers and music, you know," 
said Katherine, hiding pink cheeks against his knee. 
" But what an imaginative old gentleman ! And what 
a fairy princess you would make of me ! " 




Ill 



[HEN the dog-cart pulled up before the 
Battenberg, where Lord and Lady Mel 
lon had temporary lodging, his mother 
had been expecting Rexford for some 
time. For so self-controlled a woman, 
there was much restlessness in the way she moved 
about the garishly appointed hotel room, strewn with 
evidences of approaching departure ; and there was a 
slight flush on the smooth cheek she offered for his 
kiss. " You may go now, Stephanie. And, Warren, 
that will do for the present. Send Roberts here with 
Lord Cantaloupe." 

The door opened in a few moments, and admitted 
a little fellow of about three, who, toddling in with 
an exultant crow, made straight for his tall brother, 
about whom he clung until hoisted, with romping and 
laughter, to his shoulder. 

" You must not make a noise, if I let you stay," said 
his mother. And the docile child buried his fat little 
hands in Rexford's hair, and subdued his mirth to 
small chuckles and infantine whisperings. 

" He is growing finely, Allan, rosy and strong." 
" I believe you. His heels' tattoo on my chest in 
dicates great vigor; he is like his mother," Allan 

26 



THE METROPOLITANS 27 

laughed, patting the little knee, "and my little Lord 
Cantaloupe will grow up to be an ornament to the 
British peerage." 

She winced slightly, thinking, perhaps, of Lord 
Mellon. 

" You have failed to visit me, Allan, in these few 
years I have spent in England ; so you cannot tell 
from observation what a grand old place is Oudenard 
Hall, this boy's heritage, if I have brought a picture 
with me, a large photograph, for you to see." 

He glanced carelessly at a picture of a fine and 
stately castle on a hill, which commanded, on one side, 
undulating green slopes leading down to a shimmer 
ing lake; on the other, forest depths, from which 
looked forth a deer or two quietly grazing. The 
spire of the village church just showed above the 
tree-tops. " It is a beautiful place," he commented 
quietly, "and with historic associations. That is, I 
suppose, the morning-room on the east, where Charles 
the Second supped. I forget how it came to the first 
lord ; but that does not matter. Our boy is only con 
cerned with the present." 

" Yes ; that concerns him vitally " (putting away the 
picture). " That is partly why I am here in America 
on your twenty-fifth anniversary, Allan. Of course 
you know the affection I bear my first-born, and that 
my congratulations are yours to-day. My birthday 
gift I directed Mr. Redtape to present for me." 

He was stooping to roll a ball to the child, and an 
swered lightly, " I am quite ashamed ; but my engage 
ments at the club and elsewhere with fellows who 
would congratulate Prince Fortunatus, as they have 



28 THE METEOPOLITANS 

chosen to nickname me, made me entirely forget the 
appointment with Redtape." 

" I am sorry that you forgot, as to-day, you know, 
was fixed by your father for your majority, and Mr. 
Redtape was to explain to you more precisely the 
terms of his will. In a codicil, to be produced to-day, 
you would have found his strong expression of entire 
trust in my care of you." 

He stopped playing, and listened quietly. 

" I think your father, Allan, would have found no 
fault with the way in which I dispensed his means for 
your benefit during your minority. And only when 
you were grown did I marry again. I have given you 
a brother, who is Lord Cantaloupe at present." Her 
look at him, which had imperceptibly faltered, was 
again calm and cold and unflinching as ambition's 
self. " The Queen may be induced to restore a title 
in abeyance, the Marquisate of Gourdes. In any 
case, he succeeds to Lord Mellon's titles. But of what 
use is empty rank? With heavy mortgages encum 
bering the broad acres and parks of Oudenard, his 
titles would be a mere burden. As I am left absolute 
mistress of the American fortune (you were a mere 
child at your father's death), I have decided to free my 
younger son's inheritance, and leave the future Lord 
Mellon wherewithal to support his high rank." She 
paused a moment, then went on rapidly : " If you are 
not still Prince Fortunatus by this arrangement, you 
will yet have control of a handsome income from my 
own property in the city, which I have made over to 
you by deed of gift this morning, Allan, and directed 
Mr. Redtape to tell you." 



THE METROPOLITANS 29 

If Rexford had seemed bewildered for a moment 
by this most unexpected shock, his bearing was now 
as gallant as ever, and he confronted her with a steady 
look, as calm, if not as cold, as her own. 

" My dear mother," he began, in an almost uncon 
cerned tone, " if my father trusted you so absolutely, 
it is my pleasure to do the same. What he left is 
yours, doubtless, to dispose of as you will. And for 
the dear little boy" he stopped suddenly, and laid a 
hand on the child's curly head. 

Some people came in now to make their farewells ; 
Lord Mellon entered, listless as ever ; tea was served ; 
and what with these interruptions, the gathering up 
of impedimenta, and starting for the steamer, there 
was no chance for another word in private between 
mother and son. 

The lawyer, waiting on the deck for a few more 
words of instruction, took the opportunity to hand a 
package to Rexford ; in his professional indifference 
there may have been a grain of pity. The young man 
received the thing mechanically, moved into the cabin, 
opened and glanced through it, and penciled a note, 
which he inclosed again with the document. After a 
while the noise and shouting of getting ready, the 
embarking of passengers, the farewells and tears and 
last words, all came to an end; and Rexford kissed 
the little man in his nurse's arms, and ran down the 
gang-plank. And, amid cheering and waving of 
handkerchiefs, the great ocean greyhound slipped her 
leash, and went speeding out over the waste of waters. 

" What a deuced bore, all this fuss ! " said Lord Mel 
lon, starting for the smoking-room. But Lady Mel- 



30 THE METROPOLITANS 

Ion, going into her state-room, found there a package 
with broken red seals. It was the deed of gift to her 
son, returned with a note. 

" MY DEAR MOTHER," she read : " I am glad the dear 
little fellow is to profit by my own father's prosperity ; 
but that is no reason I should despoil you ; so I return 
your kind gift, which I must decline. I own, you know, 
a little house cottage what is it? in Orange, which 
was my grandmother's, and still have in pocket most 
of last month's receipts, so shall do very well. Once 
more, a pleasant voyage. 

"A. R." 

Lady Mellon's face paled a little ; she felt that he 
would have no favors when rights were disregarded. 
She shivered, drawing her wrap more closely about 
her as she went on deck to look at the Statue of Lib 
erty and the wooded islands and the Jersey shores; 
but Allan's face came between her and the scenery, 
and his dark, expressive eyes, so like those of the 
husband of her youth, looked at her, she fancied, re 
proachfully. Yet she never once thought of altering 
her ambitious and unjust intentions. 

Her son, meanwhile, made his way through the 
throng to where his dog-cart waited. He took the 
reins from the groom, who sprang up behind. " I 
shall sell the trap, of course," he thought, even as they 
went with smooth swiftness toward the Orchid, a club 
famous for its chef. What a ready handmaid, what a 
serviceable slave, is Habit in the great crises of life ! 
Even with the golden castle in which prospective 



THE METROPOLITANS 31 

millionaires abide tumbling about his ears, the noise 
and dust of its crashing walls confusing his ideas, 
our youth sat down as coolly as ever at his own par 
ticular table ; ordered a choice little dinner, of which 
he hardly tasted; drank Chablis, and exchanged a 
word or two with Morty van Krippen, who came in 
with a chrysanthemum almost as large as himself in 
his buttonhole. And all the while he felt the hurt of 
a sudden wound dealt by the hand which had directed 
his childish steps the hand of a woman who, of all 
the world, should have refrained. " It seems," he re 
flected, " that a husband's boundless confidence in his 
widow's motherly love may be abused." He had not 
yet learned what an exacting idol Ambition is ; how 
she hardens her votaries into laying all sacred emo 
tions on her altar. But, indeed, the young fellow 
was dazed; and, with this bitter undercurrent of 
thought flowing, he heard, unheeding, honest Morti 
mer's chatter. 

''Had the impudence, you know," the latter was 
saying, " to call me a weak-kneed dude at the Athlet 
ic, it was ; and I heard him, and was going for him ; 
and just then your newspaper friend, Penrose, spoke 
up and said Ms definition of a dude was a man who 
was better dressed than you. The fellows laughed, 
and that made me forget to hit him. For he swears 
those awful plaids of his come from London, you 
know. I mean to ask him if he got that cudgel of 
his at Donnybrook Fair ; and then perhaps I '11 get a 
chance." 

Mortimer was a famous sparrer for his weight, and 
frequently astonished grave and dignified strangers 



32 THE METROPOLITANS 

on a first introduction by requesting them to "feel 
his muscle " inherited, doubtless, from the erstwhile 
storekeeper in a Western mining-camp. 

" Say, where 're you off to this evening, Rexford ? 
Goin' to the opera? 'Lohengrin,' you know Eames 
as Elsa. Beastly bore, music; I never listen to a 
note ; but there 's the ballet, and people to talk to." 

Elderly, prosperous-looking club members, coming 
and going, bowed with the same flattering geniality 
to the two young men both supposed to be heirs to 
fortunes large enough to make the fathers of daugh 
ters easily accessible. "Their prophetic souls have 
not yet discerned the fading of my golden halo," 
thought Rexford, with his first misgiving. " Morty's 
still shimmers about his sandy curls and tip-tilted 
nose. Well, he 's a good-hearted little beggar, and 
Katherine says oh ! " 

Katherine ! how had he not thought of her before 
since his mother's announcement ? How did he stand 
with her father ? What diif ereuce would this make ? 
Even if Cornelius de Mansur would match her peer 
less self and substantial, if not extravagant, income to 
his what? Five feet eleven, and empty hands- 
would self-respect allow? He felt for the moment 
savagely jealous of unconscious Mortimer, who was 
still in a position, materially, to woo any one. But 
he shook this off as unworthy, and said aloud : 

"Fate cannot harm me any more to-day; I have 
dined. Come on, Morty. I 'm for the opera with 
you, and vogue la galbre? 

" I 'm willing," said Morty, " whatei-er that means," 
trotting along beside him, with his cane at an angle 



THE METROPOLITANS 33 

warranted to put out somebody's eye sooner or later. 
But once at the opera-house, though he liked to be 
seen with Rexford, whom he greatly admired, he 
wearied presently of his companion's persistent silence 
during the music, and began a round of visiting 
through the boxes, where he was received with warmth 
by the fair occupants, as a small but golden lion, with 
a very superior roar. 

" But why did you not bring Prince Fortunatus ? " 
asked one not insensible to personal charm. 

" Because he would n't come," said Morty, with the 
uncompromising candor of the modern gilded youth, 
which would have made Sir Philip Sidney shudder. 

Rexford, indeed, was in no humor for the unprofit 
able nothings loudly chattered in the boxes. He was 
almost tempted to join in the occasional hisses at 
their noise indulged in by real music-lovers, mostly 
foreign, in the body of the house. In his feverishly 
excited mood, with the tide of music surging over 
him, it seemed as though the great issues of love and 
life and death forced themselves even into this gor 
geously artificial throng. The pale spiritual lights on 
the stage, the mystic meanings, Elstfs sweet, clear 
notes, excited in him an irritating sense of the incon- 
gruousness of the nearest dowager's fat shoulders, 
generously displayed, or the priceless diamonds, whose 
sparkling only drew attention to another's spinal 
vertebra?. 

" I did n't see you in the house, Penrose," he said, 
brushing against an acquaintance when it was over. 

" Did n't get here in time for the opera ; just for 
the vaudeville. You are coming? Then let us go 

3 



34 THE METROPOLITANS 

through this door. It leads to the other part of the 
house." 

They left overcoats and sticks in the cloak-room ; 
but kept their hats, to be presently deposited under 
their chairs. The miniature theater of the Vaudeville 
Club had a stage about the size of a billiard-table, on 
which the champion strong man, in scant attire, was 
now performing marvelous feats. Society women 
came trooping in ; some in full dress, as they had left 
the opera; some, in demi-toilets, from the theater or 
"small and early" affairs; some in walking-dress, 
with hats on ; all talking gaily, and grouping them 
selves about small tables, where the men with them 
fell to smoking, and ordering light drinks from the 
waiters gliding about. Our two had a little table to 
themselves. 

"When Sandow has finished," said Penrose, con 
sulting a small program, "there is let me see a 
song and dance. Then the Hindu jugglers, the 
Leffner family acrobats, a male quartet. I am earlier 
than I intended. Our theatrical critic is laid up with 
influenza, and I would n't trust the others to write 
up what I wanted a new star. Ah, yes ; here she is 
on the bill: 'First appearance in America Romany 
dancer, Jasmina.' What will you have B. and S. ? 
I saw this dancer abroad once or twice, and think you 
will like her. Try one of these Perfectos. I brought 
them from Cuba myself." 

The Hindu jugglers, the Leffner acrobats, the 
male singers, might have been performing solely for 
their own enjoyment, so uninterruptedly went on the 
drinking, smoking, chatting, visiting from box to box 



35 

and table to table. But now there was some sort of 
thrill of expectation communicated from one to an 
other in the mysterious way such things are. The 
women leaned back more comfortably, picking up 
their lorgnettes ; the men, on the contrary, bent for 
ward, eyes fixed with eager expectancy on the dark- 
red drop-curtain. There was comparative stillness. 

The orchestra began the preluding bars of " Anitra's 
Tanz," a clash of cymbals marking the time, and as 
the curtain rose a woman, quite young, glowing of 
color, sinuous of limb, barbarously gorgeous as to 
hue of dress and glitter of ornaments, stood against 
the crimson background and began swaying to and 
fro. Increasing the rapidity of movement, she pres 
ently floated hither and thither, bending, gliding, 
sometimes with dusky hair flowing loosely, sometimes 
with background of silken skirts blossoming out 
widely, then folding petal-wise about her. After 
Elsrfs exalted spirituality, this was to Rexford from 
moonlight to glowing firelight. With nerves high- 
pitched and impressionable, he missed not a note of 
the music, not a movement of the dance. Was it only 
his fancy that the dancer's thrilling gaze turned more 
than once in their direction ? 

"What are you trying to write there!" he asked 
the journalist, in an undertone. " To describe those 
rhythmic Gipsy movements would be to put in words 
a wild Moskowski rhapsody, or give in prose the 
swaying of a field of scarlet poppies blown by the 
wind. You cannot do it." 

Penrose, as impenetrable as usual in demeanor, was 
taking a note or two. " You like her ? " he asked. 



36 THE METROPOLITANS 

" She is a beauty," declared Rexford. " Her eyes 
are stars, her lips crimson flowers ! But she is a 
mere incident of the evening, which is over ! Whither 
away now ? It 's only one o'clock. You would n't 
desert me so soon?" 

He spoke at random ; and Penrose looked at him 
attentively, as he had once or twice before during the 
evening. " I can give you a while longer," said he, 
" when I send these notes." 

He found a messenger, and then they called a hack, 
and turned in again at a club where high play was 
the rule. An hour or so later they stood outside. 

"What have you been doing?" Penrose asked 
gravely. 

" Just burning my bridges behind me. I had but a 
few thousand, and they are gone. Sir ! " lowering his 
tone to a mock-dramatic one, "you see before you a 
disinherited Infortunatus. The little Lord Cantaloupe 
now wears my robe, and in a short while there will be 
none so poor to do me reverence. I were no Ancient 
Mariner to force into reluctant ear the story of my ill 
fortune, were it not that by the morrow, as sure as 
you stand there, 't will be a topic of the town. Give 
me a light, will you ? " He pulled himself together. 
" Don't think me quite a fool, chattering of my own 
affairs at such short notice. But though I have n't 
been with you much, old man, when a fellow 's on a 
strain, you have a sort of way about you 

" It 's only that I like you," said the other, with an 
entire absence of demonstration. " And if things are 
as you say, I wish you 'd see me at my office to-mor 
row. You might find it amusing to force the world, 



THE METROPOLITANS 37 

with some sort of talent held at its head, to stand and 
deliver. As for me, I have been a wanderer, and 
even at times a refugee, in Alsatia, and am no better 
than I should be. But I find the gospel of work 
better than none at all, to keep one from going to 
pieces. Until to-morrow, then." He went down-town 
toward the huge edifice whose crest, rearing among 
the stars, looks out over the bay and down upon the 
Goddess of Liberty, keeping watch in the harbor a 
building alive with activity, twinkling with electric 
lights, where great, untiring engines revolve, sending 
out the results of thought and enterprise to the ends 
of the earth. 

It was a curious thing that this man of the world, 
ordinarily quite impassive in bearing, and supposed 
in the office and the club to be abnormally unemo 
tional, should have been the one to divine, with a 
great pity, the pangs of wounded trust and reverence 
and affection which tore his young companion. The 
revelation kept him sleepless until sunshine lighted 
the streets again, and awakened life roared and surged 
once more among the city's marts. 




IV 



AR up-town, in Central Park West, the,re 
is a row of five or six handsome stone 
villas, which were named collectively by 
the original owner, an Anglophile, Buck 
ingham Terrace. Among these, the 
soberest in architecture, quietest in appearance, and 
most widely bordered with shaven lawn, belonged to 
Miss Valentia Lavender ; which proved that that es 
timable lady had laid up quite a pretty sum during 
the years following her lamented father's sudden 
death in the most respectable street in Philadelphia. 
He had left her his blessing only, and a choice collec 
tion of debts, which influenced her to go to New York 
and open there a "Fashionable School for Young 
Ladies." It might be supposed from this that she 
enjoyed, in addition, that most valuable heritage, a 
complete and liberal education. But when, thanks to 
a wide acquaintance in the metropolis, and friendly 
assistance from Mr. Pundit and others, her school 
flourished apace, it was as a business woman and 
financier that Miss Lavender had been a brilliant suc 
cess. She had a staff of professors, native and foreign, 
to do the necessary drudgery ; and it was a fact that 
when a new pupil, in some ill-advised moment, pre- 
38 



THE METROPOLITANS 39 

sumed rashly to refer a scientific or literary question 
to the principal, she was conscious mainly of two 
things : first, an immediate chill, and soon afterward 
a calm, but paralyzing, criticism, administered in pub 
lic, of some special act, or breeding in general. And 
if she was a girl of ordinary feminine perceptions, she 
soon learned the connection between these two events, 
and refrained from further experiments. 

But this was a long time ago, and Miss Lavender 
was now the head of a " finishing academy." That is, 
she received into her own elegant home a limited 
number of young girls between sixteen and twenty- 
one, at some fabulous sum yearly. 

"But what is mere dross, Miss Lavender," asked 
Archibald Pundit, gently waving his monocle, " to the 
priceless advantages to the absolutely unique privi 
lege, don't you know which this raw material enjoys 
with you, don't you perceive" ? " 

They were pacing sedately the upper terrace, while 
from the lawn below came subdued calling and laugh 
ter of girls playing tennis; and an autumn sunset 
shed golden colors on the park before them. Through 
a side entrance masters in elocution, calisthenics, lan 
guages, music, the Delsarte method, conversation, the 
art of using a fan, a lorgnette, what not ? came and 
went. Pupils were summoned now and then from 
the tennis-court ; and from behind the window-panes 
an occasional running of vocal scales made itself 
heard, or a smothered burst of instrumental pyro 
technics. 

"You are always kind, Mr. Pundit," the principal 
remarked; "but, without wishing to flatter myself, 



40 THE METROPOLITANS 

there is positively no other finishing academy in this 
city. Of course I don't mean with regard to art or 
the languages, or any of that useless stuff learning 
which is entirely optional with my girls. Those 
things are very well for people who have to earn a 
living. But for daughters of the wealthy, who will 
be matrimonial prizes, complexion, figure, dress, style, 
ease of manner, intimate acquaintance with the cus 
toms of the best society these are of the utmost 
importance, and these things I guarantee them; as 
also to launch them afterward, if desired with your 
valuable assistance, Mr. Pundit. Sometimes, in that 
event, I am obliged to insist on the parents keeping 
out of the way, if they are quite impossible. For in 
stance, that old Prime Western, who has such a for 
tune in gas- wells, and sent in his printed card tome with 
' P. D. Q. Western ' on it. Ah, I see you smile, Mr. Pun 
dit! Well, I may have confused the initials with 
some foolish play. I saw at once that he would spoil 
everything unless kept in the background; but I 
make the daughter call herself Miss Prime- Western, 
with the hyphen. She is quite stupid and very 
pretty ; so I saw it was perfect nonsense to make her 
spoil her looks studying all the things he wanted, 
because he had n't had no early advantages himself.' 
' Leave it all to me,' I said ; and he is very grateful, 
and pays for all the extras she does n't learn. But 
you know, Mr. Pundit, I do not keep a kindergarten. 
Ah, there is the riding-master." 

Six or eight horses had by this time been brought 
round to the side gate, and several girls were being 
carefully mounted. Angelica van Krippen, in irre- 



THE METROPOLITANS 41 

proachable London habit and high hat, now came up, 
and, after saluting Mr. Pundit, asked, " Shall I refer 
Herr Strebel to you, Miss Lavender! He seems an 
noyed because I wish to ride during the hour for 
German. But I told him that uncouth language was 
ruining the shape of my mouth; and the verb 
schrecJcen einjagen, on which he is now exercising us, 
is especially distorting." 

" I think you might drop German, Miss van Krip- 
pen," said the principal, gravely. "Riding is better 
for your complexion. But I wish you would practise 
your French which I, ahem ! believe is fair with our 
guests from Paris this evening. And ask Mr. Pran- 
cer to bring the class back in an hour's time, as the 
hair-dresser and manicure will be here before the 
dressing-bell rings." The cavalcade clattered off into 
the Park, and she continued to Mr. Pundit, " I insist 
on full dress every evening. It is a habit which must 
be firmly implanted, as indispensable under all cir 
cumstances. I remember that young Dashington, 
who was such a lion in society and in Wall street, and 
is in the penitentiary now, you know well, he said 
that after losing his fortune and other people's, and 
honesty and reputation, he never really lost his self- 
respect until he ceased to dress for dinner. You will 
dine with us to-night, Mr. Pundit? A previous en 
gagement? I am sorry. We are to have young De 
Vaurien and his friend, the charge d'affaires, Mauvais 
Sujet. I have a charming letter from his aunt in the 
Faubourg, begging me to let her nephew admire some 
of the 'buds in my conservatory before they are ex 
posed to the full glare of society's sun.' " 



42 THE METROPOLITANS 

" Veiy pretty, very pretty indeed, Miss Lavender 
and shrewd too." 

" Yes " (bridling) ; " I thought so. And was an 
noyed to receive by the same mail a letter from 
a former pupil, who says rather roughly that she 
thought it right to warn me that these two young 
men are said to have come over in search of an 
American heiress. Their debts are enormous, she 
says it is reported. But there is always more or less 
malicious gossip and poor Milly seems to be embit 
tered. You remember Millicent Ophir, Mr. Pundit ? 
It was you, by the way, who first presented her hus 
band, the Baron Rouge-et-Noir, to her." 

"Yes," said Archibald; "a very brilliant match, 
don't you know, between money and rank. They 
say, I believe, that Rouge-et-Noir spends all her 
money gambling, and even, ahem ! even beats her. 
But I don't believe these exaggerated reports, you see, 
any more than those about the Marquis de Monte 
Carlo, who married our little protegee, Miss Mc- 
Flamm." 

"Miss van Krippen will be one of next season's 
debutantes, I think we agreed ; but I am willing to 
have her meet a few partis beforehand. They are 
simply rolling in wealth, as you know, of course; and 
the girl is not bad looking. Her mother, a very vulgar 
woman, by the way, who has actually been seen to 
put on her gloves in the street, would be pleased if 
she secured rank." 

" It seems rather a pity, don't you know, for all our 
fortunes to go abroad. And you and I, dear madam, 
have made such brilliant successes in that line that 



THE METROPOLITANS 43 

we can afford, I think, to marry a few of your charm 
ing pupils here." 

"She will have opportunities for that too," said 
Miss Lavender, thoughtfully. "Her brother dines 
with us occasionally, and also attends our very ex 
clusive dancing-class at Cudworth's with some of his 
friends." 

" Ye-es ; but the best thing for such a very rich girl, 
whose name, you understand, was originally Cripps, 
would be to find a parti, don't you perceive, willing 
to exchange family for money. There is young Rex- 
ford, say." 

"Who has nothing at all now, and refuses his 
mother's munificent gift, my dear Mr. Pundit ! Too 
erratic, I think." 

" I was his father's friend, Miss Lavender, and owe 
it to his memory, don't you understand, to give the 
young fellow a lift if it comes in my way. And it 
would rescue him from that lot of musicians and 
artists and writers, and such fellows, don't you know, 
out of whose depths, once well in, there is no redemp 
tion." 

It occurred to him that the last phrase had a scrip 
tural flavor, and he bowed his head slightly, as he did 
in church at the responses, and wore a piously disin 
terested air. He did not mention that this had been 
a point designedly reached, and that there was in his 
pocket a letter from Lady Mellon, in which she sug 
gested to the high priest of "form" that his aid in 
this matter would be valued, and even delicately com 
pensated, by an old acquaintance. 

As for the unconscious subject of his charitable 



44 THE METROPOLITANS 

plans, he had let several weeks elapse after Penrose's 
invitation before accepting it, and without seeing him ; 
for their orbits seldom crossed. 

" I have not been idle, however," he averred, when 
he followed his card, at last, up the little black stair 
case leading to the assistant editor's office. " On the 
contrary, I was never so busy before. There were 
horses and traps to sell ; apartment at the Albatross 
unlucky name, by the way to get rid of. Unne 
cessary? Oh, no; a gilded cobweb holds you by so 
many fine little meshes that there is no having free 
dom of limb until one breaks away from it all. And 
Prince Fortunatus" (laughing) "would like to leave 
the stage before his audience leaves him. How can I 
tell that some houses, now hospitable, may not soon 
be serving me to a dish of cold shoulder ! No, no ; 
let me depart with the honors of war, at least." 

"Other philosophers have remarked before me," 
said Penrose, making dots on a bit of paper, " that as 
long as a man turns a pleasant face to the world, it is 
glad to see him. It is mostly in one's over-sensitive 
consciousness that Mr. Worldly Wiseman's slights 
exist ; and you have many things to make you accept 
able if you chose to stay where you are. As youth, 
talent, a face " (smiling kindly at his companion) " and 
figure not repulsive to most people no? Then that 
chapter ends. And for departed glories" (he began 
walking about the office), " those things pass away like 
a shadow, and like a post that runneth on. . . . And 
as a ship that passeth through the waves, whereof, 
when it is gone by, the trace cannot be found, nor the 
path of its keel in the waters. ... Or as when a bird 



THE METROPOLITANS 45 

flieth through the air, of the passage of which no mark 
can be found, but only the sound of the wings beating 
the light air and parting it by the force of her flight. 
... Or as when an arrow is shot at a mark, the di 
vided air presently cometh together again, so that the 
passage thereof is not known." 

" That is fine ! that is sonorous ! " exclaimed Rexf ord, 
his eyes sparkling. 

" Yes you know who quotes Scripture for his own 
purpose ; and mine is to draw you into my world. You 
will heed the voice of the charmer if he charm melo 
diously, for I know your special weakness." He as 
sumed a business tone. "You sometimes write the 
words for your own songs ? I had heard so. We oc 
casionally pay for original verse if it will compare 
with what we get from other papers without pay. But 
in the mean time, for steady work, you might take our 
musical and dramatic critic's place he is still ill. Your 
knowledge of music would come in there. And there 
are odd jobs, such as the foot-ball game to-morrow 
afternoon that would be easy for a university man. 
And and bring in any matter that presents itself; a 
fresh touch is often acceptable." 

" Well," said Rexford, smiling, but a little flurried, 
" you give me variety, at least, from poetry to foot-ball. 
Enter a raw recruit, and here his weapons." He seized 
a bundle of pens. 

" Did you call me ? " inquired a flaxen-haired youth, 
putting his head in at the door. 

" I did not," said Penrose, " but as you are in, let 
me introduce you to Mr. Rexford Mr. Jenkins, one of 
ours. Mr. Rexford is joining our ranks." 



46 THE METROPOLITANS 

" Glad to meet you, sir," said Jenkins, who had often 
admired Rexford at a distance, and marveled at the 
brilliancy and subsequent eclipse of his fortune. 
"Finest career in the world," declared Mr. Jenkins, 
" always" (with a heavy sigh) "excepting art." 

" You must know," said Penrose, " that Mr. Jenkins, 
whose specialty is frequenting the giddy haunts of 
fashion and describing the ladies' pretty gowns, is 
discontented because fate will not allow him to attain 
eminence in music or the drama. He longs for the 
technic and hair of Paderewski." 

" I hope Mr. Rexford knows chaff from wheat," ob 
served the careless Jenkins. But, as he appeared to 
have some sort of business with his chief, Rexford took 
his leave a few moments afterward, ran down the 
narrow stairs whistling, " A Wandering Minstrel I," 
and laughed when he found himself with one of the 
pens still in his hand. He thrust it in his pocket, and 
crossed over to the elevated road, still whistling softly. 
It was a proof of the soundness of the young fellow's 
nature that he did not shrink from beginning life again 
on this other plane, but really felt a certain exhilaration 
at thought of the conflict to come. His curiosity, too, 
was newly alert to observe the humors of the traveling 
crowd about him in the car, from contact with which 
he had been generally kept hitherto by the possession 
of a dog-cart and groom. 

" Everything is possible ' matter ' now," he thought, 
with the instinct of the budding journalist ; and, find 
ing nothing of much interest about him, he took to 
observing and making mental notes for future use of 
the flying panorama outside. A man at a fifth-story 



THE METEOPOLITANS 47 

window shaving himself, and humming a broken bar 
or two of a popular song between strokes ; a baker's 
sign, "Muffins and Crumpets"; "Aqui se habla Es- 
panol " ; " Spanknebel, Phrenologist " ; a woman hang 
ing out many-colored, fluttering garments to dry on a 
roof clothes-line ; tenements with dilapidated bedding 
on fire-escapes, and a pitiful bit of black crape hanging 
at one window ; huge wall-posters of the Thingvalla 
Steamship Line ; a soup-kitchen for the very poor, and 
" The Only Bible Truth Supply" for the same clients ; 
an Italian boarding-house wafting in a smell of garlic 
when the conductor opened a door ; the Lutherisches 
Pilger-Haus; "Studio for Welsh Rabbits"; "Spook 
Pictures Developed Cheap"; "Thornbush's Chop- 
house"; "Deutsche Apotheke" these and all the 
other kaleidoscopic signs and sights of the unfashion 
able quarters of a cosmopolis he passed ; and, instead 
of the indifference with which he would have regarded 
them not long before, he felt in his heart the stirring 
of a latent kinship with all humanity. And just after 
he ran down the steps at his station and started toward 
Broadway, an accident occurred to arouse him into 
warmer sympathy. There was a collision between 
vehicles; some one was knocked down; a throng 
formed as quickly as such throngs do ; and a police 
man essayed, with voice and club, to procure a little 
clear space and air around a motionless figure on the 
pavement. 

"What keeps the ambulance?" asked Rexford, 
shouldering his way through. 

" I dunno " (shortly) ; " it 's been rung for twice ; 
seems like it ain't a-comin'." 



48 THE METROPOLITANS 

"Why," the young man exclaimed, "the hospital 's 
only two blocks off ! She should have help at once. 
See here, give her to me ; I can carry her easily." The 
straight-shouldered figure, toughened by polo and 
other athletics, stooped and picked up the unconscious 
woman, her cheap, blood-stained gown hanging against 
his sleeve. " Come on," he said to the policeman, who, 
taken by surprise, tramped at his side, followed by 
such of the crowd as had no business or desire of their 
own to point them ; and, turning a corner to the hos 
pital, they ran against Mortimer van Krippen. " Why, 
hello ! " cried he. " What sort of procession is this ? 
It is n't the 17th of March ! " 

But when the good-hearted little dandy understood, 
he too trotted along to the hospital door, where Rex- 
ford delivered up his wounded charge. " My name ? 
No, certainly not," to a man with a note-book. " Like 
the spring flowers, it ' has nothing to do with the case.' " 
He took Morty by the arm and strode off for fear some 
one might recognize him. 

" Now," grumbled Morty, " what do you mean by it 
all this hiding out and not letting anybody know 
where you are ? Never at a club, and a strange fellow 
in your place at the Albatross ! Where are you, any 
how, when a chap wants you ? " 

" Right here, then for the present only, however, 
I must tell you," replied Rexford, stopping at a hotel. 
" But, Van Krippen, you are aware that I Ve retired 
from the giddy vortex, and can't even ask you up just 
now, as I 've some work on hand." 

"Work ! " echoed Morty ; "well, it's a beastly shame !" 

11 Pooh ! " (loftily) " there are hundreds would be glad 



THE METROPOLITANS 49 

to get it. You must study up social economics." He 
was eager to get rid of his good-natured companion, 
and try his not altogether prentice hand at something 
for the "Argus." 

" But see here," persisted Mortimer, " I 'm not going 
to let you slip entirely. Can't you come to the Or 
pheus to-morrow ? I Ve a box, you know. Got Miss 
Lavender to let my sister out for the night. She '11 be 
there with Miss de Mansur and her father. There '11 
be some other fellows. Benefit performance, you know 
sort of olla podridano, that 's a beastly stuff with 
oil and garlic, and nearly killed me at a Spanish res 
taurant once ! But you know what I mean, old chappy 
new dancer, Paderewski, and that." 

As Eexford was music mad, the last name was one 
to conjure with especially when Katherine's was 
added. " I 'm a weak fool," he hastily thought, " but 
I have n't been near her since ; and why not? " He 
said aloud carelessly, " Well, I '11 drop in for a while, 
thank you, Van Krippen. I may have to write the 
critique on that performance." 




IHOUGH Cornelius de Mansur lifted his 
voice in protest against many features 
of modern journalism, the paper which 
annoyed him least in these matters was 
usually an accompaniment to his break 
fast roll. Carefully avoiding the murders and elabo 
rately worked-up sensations and other feasts of horror 
prepared for the morbid, as well as the unconsidered 
trifles snapped up by those who greedily relish per 
sonal gossip, it was his amiable habit to glance over 
the pages, and if anything of interest appeared to pass 
it over presently to Katherine. And on this morning, 
after looking at notices of new books, he handed her 
the page on which were also dramatic reviews and 
short verses, mostly copied, which treated of birds and 
butterflies and blossoms and young affections, and such 
pretty little tiny kickshaws. And among these was 
one signed " A. R." which Katherine noted with quick 
ening of the pulse and elaborate indifference of man 
ner. It was called " Love's Signal Service," and ran : 

When I would know 
If balmy airs or stormy winds do blow, 

My lady's face I view. 
The fine and level-fronting eyebrows dark, 
The soft cheek's flaming crimson flag I mark, 

Tempestuous days to rue. 
50 



THE METROPOLITANS 51 

Or would I ask 
If I in frost must freeze, or warmth may bask, 

I seek my lady's eyes. 

Should she their light, all careless, turn away, 
Or veil them, coldest waves relentless play 

On heart that prostrate lies. 

But when I find 
My heavens clear, my sunshine to my mind, 

Harsh frost and storm o'erpast, 
What sweetest rose can match her cheek or mouth? 
Her glance, that 's softer far than breeze of South, 

Makes weather bright at last. 

If but my dear 
With such fair signs the days would always cheer, 

Sigh or smile so, 

Blue skies and zephyrs mild throughout the year, 
Sweet spring in winter, taste of heaven here, 

Then I should know. 

In another column was a fairly interesting criticism 
on last night's opera, signed " A. R." also. 

" Nothing but trash there, I suppose ? " asked papa, 
unconscious, lifting his cup. " Remind me, Katherine, 
of that meeting of the Grolier on the fourth. The 
coffee is exceptionally good this morning." 

He tasted it leisurely and placidly, no more suspect 
ing the quickened emotions behind the clear eyes of 
the "cherished, stately daughter across the table than 
any of us suspect what is going on in the hearts and 
minds of our nearest and dearest who walk always at 
our side and drink of the same cup. And she an 
swered, laughing, " You will not need to be reminded 
of that meeting, you blessed hypocrite ! You will think 
of nothing else until then." 

And with that very crimson flag the writer spoke of 



52 THE METROPOLITANS 

flaming on her cheek, and hotter anger within, she 
thought, "Has the gentleman, perchance, been flirtiug 
with some shrew? Beshrew me if I care!" then 
scorned herself for using his sometimes playfully 
stilted phrases ; for it was in her pride that she was, 
after all, most wounded. This young nymph, with a 
heart accessible to all other kindly and tender emotions, 
had walked with her head high, defying the eternal 
Eros. And though no one but herself knew that her 
step had faltered for a moment, that her glance had 
drooped, that an appealing meekness had threatened 
to subdue her, none the less was her resentment. 
" How dared he look and speak so with no sequel ! 
After after everything he has said and done not to 
approach us for weeks ! Perhaps Ms mamma the Lady 
Mellon disapproves, and he dutifully acquiesces ! " 
So by evening the varying and not readily controlled 
emotions of the morning had settled into a cool con 
tempt, to which it might have been well if the heart 
of the " Love's Signal " observer had not been exposed. 
It never once occurred to the unworldly spirit of the 
girl that his altered fortunes would seem to a high- 
spirited man reason enough for not unduly pressing 
before the more fortunate ones attracted by her beauty 
and charm. 

A few of these minions of fortune, as young Koyall 
Worcester, Dick Crowne Derby, one of the Ashley 
Vanderlyns, and others, were in evidence in the box at 
the Orpheus, grouped about the two girls, when Rex- 
ford entered that evening. He was rather buoyant in 
manner, for, even if it were but a verse or so and an 
opinion or two, they had been printed and everything 



THE METROPOLITANS 53 

must have a beginning. He greeted Mr. de Mansur, 
who responded cordially, " How d' ye do, my dear boy, 
and where have you been all this while ? " Angelica 
van Krippen looked at him distantly through her 
lorgnette ; then murmured, " Have you a strawberry- 
mark! No? Then you are you are my long-lost 
friend ! " and gave him her hand. 

" I must not," he thought, " meet Tier eye indecently 
soon or show my wild gladness;" deferring his bliss 
for the space of a word with this one or a jest with 
that one ; and lo ! when he did meet her glance it was 
as bright and distant as stars on a frosty night. She 
said "Good evening," as to a casual acquaintance, and, 
with Royall Worcester at one shoulder and Morty van 
Krippen talking over the other, there was small chance 
of approaching. " But what does it mean ? " He forgot 
that the changes and preoccupations of the past weeks 
and his absorption in his own affairs were unexplained, 
expecting, quite humanly, that she would have been 
awaiting his return with suspended breath and eyes 
softly luminous. " Of course all the world knows of 
my altered fortune, and lots of people will be different. 
But she Katherine de Mansur a being noble and 
spiritual, compact of snow and fire oh ! by heaven ! " 
He winced, and then laughed at something Ashley 
Vanderlyn said without knowing what it was. He 
held in his hand some pale roses, with ferns, and when 
she suggested, with repellent carelessness, "For Pade- 
rewski, of course ? " he answered, with equally polite 
indifference, " Should one give flowers to a man ? " 

" We only needed this worldly old noodle to make 
the party complete ! " he thought, when Archie Pundit 



54 THE METROPOLITANS 

came in ; which was unjust to his father's old friend, 
who was well enough pleased to note his proximity 
to Angelica van Krippen. He began now to devote 
himself with feverish assiduity to his fair neighbor, 
who gave flattering attention to his least remark and 
paid no heed to the comedy with which the program 
opened. But Miss van Krippen was a clear-headed 
damsel, under whose flaxen brows and piquant little 
nose events might pass exciting special wonder with 
out a sign from her. 

Now the great pianist appeared, long and slender, 
with shock of light-colored hair and features regular 
and too cold in expression, it would seem, to denote 
the emotional artistic temperament. He played Schu 
mann's " Papillons " superbly ; and when the enthusi 
asm which followed could be quieted, he gave his own 
tender and melodious " Chant du Voyageur." A little 
later it was Liszt's arrangement of " Hark, Hark, the 
Lark ! " 

"Ars longa, vita brevis," said Cornelius de Mansur, 
"which is trite, but true. It makes humanity's futile 
struggling for this or that seem ignoble, sordid, when 
these immortal melodies and harmonies soar like that 
lark to 'heaven's gate' and join the music of the 
spheres. Yes, and will still resound when our hot 
hearts_and restless minds are dust!" 

" True, true, quite true," said Archibald Pundit, who 
knew no more of music than of Sanskrit, and detested 
any reference to man's inevitable end as "very bad 
form, don't you know." 

" Thank you, Mr. de Mansur," said Rexford, simply. 
He had felt both the exaltation and the soothing 



THE METEOPOLITANS 55 

consequent on music. Cornelius gave him a friendly 
glance. Ashley Vanderlyn belonged to a Southern 
family whose traditions inculcated deference to age ; 
so he had listened to the old gentleman with respect. 
The others, except Rexford, had not listened at all. 
Morty was trying to distract Katherine's attention, and 
Angelica was keeping most of the young men amused 
by running comments on Mr. Pundit, whom she ex 
amined as though he were some rare specimen of beetle. 
" I love to see him beat time," she murmured ; " he al 
ways does it in public, and never does it right. He 
says the opera is primarily a social function, and the 
artists and listeners are merely incidental. Says how 
would they be supported if society did n't do it ! No 
money, no opera. Says he shows himself there as a 
duty to the public, and considers his subscription gives 
him full right to talk all the time if he wishes. Says 
it 's very good in society women to give ordinary music- 
lovers a chance to see their diamonds and gowns, 
which 'otherwise they would never have, don't you 
know.' " 

" I had n't thought of that," said Royall Worcester. 

" He comes to Miss Lavender's evenings sometimes," 
she continued, " and told me the other night that what 
I sang was a ' little noisy, but not otherwise disagree 
able.' I was delighted, for I suspected then that he 
might have heard me speak of him as a ' pompous old 
idiot.' Yes, I know it was horrid, but I meant it to 
shock Miss Lavender. He is said to be paying his 
addresses to our Valentia. He is a widower, you know, 
of attenuated income and expensive habits; and she 
has money and is a descendant of Poor Richard, if she 



56 THE METROPOLITANS 

is the head of a finishing academy ! His coat of arms 
would look well on her dark-green coupe. But he will 
never see it there oh dear, no ! She is an excel 
lent business woman, with remarkably level head, and 
knows when she is well off, I think. Ah, here conies 
Ignace once more ! " 

The pianist played again, and then a final encore, 
and the delight of the audience knew no bounds. 
Women stood up in the rear to catch a glimpse of him, 
shouting and waving their handkerchiefs; those in 
front pressed and crowded to the footlights, taking 
off their boutonnieres to pass them over into his re 
luctant hands. 

" He looks veiy bored," said Katherine, " as though 
he might soon insist upon having a body-guard. It 
must be a penalty of greatness that admirers should 
overstep the homage due to art, and infringe on the 
rights of the man. Too bad to have all this noise spoil 
those last heavenly chords ! " 

It was the first time she had seemed to address him 
directly, and Rexf ord, still under the spell of the music, 
answered softly, " Yes, it is too bad. I must have him 
to play for you and your father only in my rooms, if 
you will." 

If he had forgotten for a moment, her look of slight 
surprise instantly recalled while it chilled him. " Ah, 
I have reminded her that I am no longer Prince For- 
tunatus, but a man of no consequence." 

He bent to tell Miss van Krippen the name of the 
new Spanish air the orchestra now played. " Yes, her 
own name is Jasmina, I believe. There she is." 

The dancer wore now a Calabrian peasant dress and 



THE METROPOLITANS 57 

carried castanets, which clicked in time with the odd, 
rhythmic tread of the bolero. The " bravas " and ex 
cited cheers were as on her first appearance, and, as 
then, the great starry eyes blazed and softened alter 
nately, when, gliding to the front, her mnte daring 
demand for admiration changed into appeal. And 
suddenly, with hands held straight down at her sides 
and fingers locked upon the castanets, she came swiftly 
just below the Van Krippen box, quite near, and stood 
perfectly still, looking up. The orchestra, astonished, 
still continued the strain. The party looked down at 
her. 

"She awaits her due," said Rexford, and, gazing 
down into the dusky eyes upraised, tossed his flowers 
to her. She caught them before they fell, pressed them 
with a passionate gesture to her heart, and went on 
with the dance. When the curtain came down after 
her last recall, he perceived Penrose standing near the 
doorway, who beckoned to him. " Not going to stay 
for the last act of Brummel?" asked Van Krippen. 
" That ends the bill, you know ; and I thought you ; d 
come to supper afterward." 

" Can't this evening, thank you," he answered. He 
had not seen Katherine shrink and bite her lip when 
her flowers were thrown to the dancer. "I am late 
now ; I must see one of ours on business." He made 
a comprehensive farewell bow, and Katherine's in re 
turn had perhaps an extra film of ice. 

" Very bad form," said Mr. Pundit, disgusted, " for 
a man to allude to business in society. Mark my words, 
that young man is deteriorating, don't you under 
stand." 



68 THE METROPOLITANS 

" I would have come for you," said Penrose, " but 
saw old Archie there, and would n't afflict him unne 
cessarily. You '11 lose the treat of seeing him enjoy 
the ' Beau ' j kindred spirits, he thinks ; and they tell 
me he insisted on shaking hands with Mansfield the 
first time he saw liirn act the part. Jenkins is here, and 
will give you notes of the rest to write up, and add to 
your own of Paddy ne vous en deplaise, maestro and 
of Jasmina. By the way, youngster, you distinguished 
yourself with your flowers, and set a bad example, for 
I saw Van Krippen throw his sister's down afterward, 
for which that little lady appeared to rate him soundly. 
Would you like " (he drew out his watch and glanced 
at it carelessly) "you might like to meet Jasmina, 
whose other name is Madame Vaskaros. I knew her in 
Paris, and have the entree to her dressing-room. She 
said something about wishing to have you presented." 

Allan Rexford wondered a little that Penrose had 
not mentioned this previous acquaintance when they 
first saw her at the vaudeville. But what did it matter 
to him ? "A lovely creature," he commented, " and as 
graceful and light as thistle-down. Of course let us 
go." 

They went around to the stage entrance, where 
Penrose's careless hand- wave reassured the porter ; at 
the end of a dingy little passage they stumbled over 
some steps leading to the star's room. "Entrez!" 
called the shrill voice of a maid. They went in where 
Jasmina sat before a dressing-table strewn with the 
necessaries of a stage toilet curling-tongs, rouge, 
India ink, rice powder, perfume, all in confusion. She 
still wore her Calabrian dress ; but the maid had folded 



THE METROPOLITANS 59 

a crimson velvet and fur carriage- wrap about her and 
was removing an inconveniently high comb from her 
hair. She gave an impatient movement as they en 
tered, and the dusky crown fell in undulating masses 
over her shoulders. " It is nothing/' she said in French ; 
11 leave it so." The lace scarf the maid threw over it 
was hardly blacker. She did not wait, but rose and 
advanced to them with a swift glide. " Ah, Stephen, 
is it you ? " Only the accent was foreign. " And your 
friend, Mr. Raix oh, the hard name ! I have heard 
Mr. Penrose speak so much of you. The lovely flowers, 
too." She raised them to her face. Her tables were 
loaded with others, but these were all she held. " I 
would ask you both to supper, but I am so tired to 
night." 

There was something appealing in her wearied tone, 
and quite softly youthful in her manner. "Ah, you 
liked it ! You are both so kind ; some night soon, then. 
And, Stephen, about to-morrow, when I am to make 
trial with the manager of the Rosemont by your in 
terest. Tell me, will you come or will you send some 
one at twelve o'clock ? " 

" I cannot come then, Jasmina, at that hour. It is 
quite a sure thing, your engagement. The press no 
tices have made him eager to see you himself. But 
Mr. Rexford may be able to go." By this time they 
were at her carriage door, the maid following. Then 
she said, seating herself, " It will be for Mr. Raixf ore 
I will dance, then, not for the stupid manager." She 
raised her flowers once more to her face, leaned out 
once more until they could see her shining eyes. 
" Good night ! good night ! " and she was gone. 



60 THE METROPOLITANS 

" Coquettish, I suppose, as they usually are ? " Rex- 
ford said tentatively. 

His quiet companion paused a few moments, look 
ing straight ahead, and then said deliberately, " No, I 
should say not coquettish as they usually are. Jas- 
mina is rather unusual, I think." 




VI 



[HEN Rexford jarred the finest chords of 
Mr. Pundit's nature by turning his back 
011 that gentleman's select circle and cast 
ing in his lot with the " Argus," Penrose 
had suggested, "That 's an inconveni 
ently distant place you stay at now. Why not come 
down a little nearer the office f There 's a vacant room 
or two near mine at our place, I think." So he had 
moved down to Penrose's lodgment, a sort of pigeon- 
house up among the clouds, and commanding a view 
of the East River and the Brooklyn Bridge, and hav 
ing its little nooks filled with all sorts and conditions 
of fledgelings, who were trying their wings and sharp 
ening their beaks in their more or less venturesome 
flights. 

Our young men's floor was the highest of all " for 
the air and the scenery," said Penrose. " Jenkins calls 
this floor ' Simla ' ; for he says that in July it 's quite 
like getting up among the hills from the East Indian 
heat of the pavements." That ingenuous youth occu 
pied an apartment separated from their rooms by only 
a narrow passage, and when Rexford awoke on the 
morning after the Orpheus benefit performance he 
could hear him declaiming as he performed his toilet. 
He was, indeed, announcing loudly : 

61 



62 THE METEOPOLITANS 

" I was a viking old ! 
My deeds, though manifold, 
No scald in song has told, 
No saga taught thee." 

" Open the doors," called Rexford, in a sleepy voice, 
" so that I can hear you." And when the other, de 
ceived, threw open the two doors between, it was nar 
rowly to escape a well-aimed boot-jack. It was hurled 
back and followed by the stout figure of the elocution 
ist, whose wiry hair, with the aid of two brushes, was 
being forced into chevaux-de-frise on each side of his 
ears. 

" What do you mean ? " he asked indignantly. " Have 
you not taste enough to appreciate Longfellow ! " 

" You look like a comic valentine," responded Rex- 
ford, cruelly. " Will you dare to tell me that, fatter 
and scanter of breath than any Prince of Denmark 
ever was, you mean to recite ' The Skeleton in Armor > 
in public ! " 

" Sir, you may go to go three ! go four, if you will ! 
I would have you to know that I am the bright par 
ticular star of our Amateur Dramatic Club, and it is 
your loss that you have not heard me. I must give 
you a ticket for the next performance; it 's for a 
charity, and to be followed by a masquerade." He 
finished his hair at the glass, then exclaimed, "See 
here, don't you mean to get up to-day? 'Falsely 
luxurious/ " he pompously spouted, " ' when will man 
arise, and, springing from his bed of sloth, enjoy the 
cool, the fragrant, and the solemn hour, to meditation 
due and sacred song ! ' also sometimes to one's laun 
dress, when she calls with her little bill ; I hear her now 



THE METEOPOLITANS 63 

at my door. I will return anon whenever that is ! " 
He went off humming in falsetto Neidlinger's " Sere 
nade." He was perfectly at home now in his fellow- 
scribbler's room, having lost his former awe of him 
as a "tremendous swell," and having become accus 
tomed to his presence in this hive of working bees. 
But Rexford had that touch of human sympathy, that 
accessibility to his kind, which made his handsome 
face and form welcome everywhere, as such happily 
endowed natures are. With Penrose, uneffusive of 
demeanor ordinarily, coldly exacting in most things, 
perfectly reticent as to his past and inscrutable as to 
present aims or hopes, he grew daily more intimate. 
Even now there was a fragrant steam arising from the 
coffee bubbling over the lamp left in readiness for him 
by the elder on going out one of many little unpre 
cedented acts of thoughtfulness, which made Jenkins 
open wider his already rather staring light eyes. 

After dressing and taking the cup of coffee the only 
breakfast these night-birds needed Rexford remem 
bered the appointment at the Rosemont. He remem 
bered Katherine, too, as he went quickly through the 
streets to the theater, but it was with a quickening of 
resentment which last night's chill of disappointment 
had brought. " There are Royall Worcester, Crowne 
Derby, and the rest always at her elbow. They still 
have fortunes to spend ! Or perhaps De Mansur is more 
mercenary than I thought. Morty is an amiable little 
fellow, if he is not bright, and has more money than 
all of them together. His sister is with her constantly. 
O Katherine, could it be possible ! " He ran into some 
one and apologized hastily. " Katherine, Katherine," 



64 THE METROPOLITANS 

his thoughts went on. " Well, ' if she be not fair to 
me ' if of herself she will not love, nothing can make 
her." He was distracted enough when he stopped at 
the back door of the stage entrance of the Rosemont, 
which the ancient Cerberus unbolted and flung open 
with, " Will ye please to step inside ? The manager 's 
there waitin'." 

He went in. The manager greeted him hastily: 
"Make yourself comfortable anywhere you can, Mr. 
Rexford. Advertised yesterday for girls for the Dance 
of Bedouins, you know, and the cry is, ' Still they come ! ' 
Can you get through ? Don't mind the crowd." He 
bustled about, himself trying to bring some sort of 
order out of confusion. Girls had answered the 
advertisement; not only the hundred required, but 
twice or thrice that number ; and they surged through 
the narrow hallway and out on the stage girls and 
girls galore ! Tall and short, stout and thin, fair and 
dark. They melted away in the shadow of the great 
stage and emerged again into the open space in front 
of the footlights. Two arc-lamps, dangling from 
mysterious heights above, shed a dim light over the 
scene. Rexford, as soon as might be, made his way 
through the armies and took refuge in a box. 

"Please to form a row," said the manager, mar 
shaling them for their ordeal. A pretty, well-shaped 
girl stepped timidly to the front and hung her head. 
After being carefully inspected, he made her a sign of 
approval, and she retreated smiling. Then another 
came forward. 

" Stand to one side. You will not do." 

"What's the matter?" 



THE METEOPOLITANS 65 

" Why, you are scarcely five feet high. Arab women 
are tall and willowy. Stand aside." 

The next accepted with a sigh a sign of dismissal, 
but Rexford had an uneasy misgiving that she burst 
into tears after retiring. Suppose she needed the 
money for an ill or aged father or mother, or some 
little sisters ? He was obliged to harden his heart with 
the reflection that, even so, the manager could not 
engage them all. The number required was at last 
secured, and accepted and rejected were alike shown 
out again by the gruff doorkeeper, who was really a 
kind old fellow, with a rough word or two of sym 
pathy and encouragement for the dejected. 

" Now that 's over," said the manager. " The men 
will not come until to-morrow. As for trying Jasmina, 
that 's a mere form. Between you and me, we are 
bound to have her at any price. Here she is now." 

He left Rexford in the semi-darkness of the pro 
scenium-box to meet the dancer, who advanced to the 
front, leaving her maid with wraps in the rear of the 
stage. She nodded quietly to the manager, not ap 
pearing to see any one else. Her silken costume, all 
black, seemed a sheath from which the graceful 
shoulder and head, clear olive tints and scarlet of 
cheek and lip, glowed in relief. Her foot, its arched 
instep defined in the black satin shoe which clung to 
its perfect mold, tapped the floor for a moment or two 
in time with the orchestra magically appearing from 
beneath the stage. "Ver-ry, ver-ry slow," she told 
them, and began. The manager clapped his hands at 
the end. " I think, madame, we will contrive to suit 
each other. If you are willing, the contract may be 



66 THE METROPOLITANS 

signed to-day. We hope for a long run for ' The Pearl 
of the Bedouins.' Excuse me for a moment ; some one 
is calling." The orchestra suddenly disappeared into 
the floor again. " Wait for me outside," she told her 
maid ; and then, opening the box door, came down a 
step and seated herself beside Rexford. 

" It was so good of you to come. Not that I care 
for the press notices. Stephen scolds me a little be 
cause I do not care says I am too wild and thought 
less about those things ; but what does it really matter ? 
The sun will shine just the same ; a tambourine makes 
a good enough orchestra ; and bread with liberty, and 
a little stew now and then, is always possible." She 
rolled her r's a little, not unpleasantly. There was 
about her a faint atmosphere of some sort of perfume 
sandalwood perhaps Oriental in its suggestiveness. 
" A firefly, I tell Stephen, lives but for a day and night 
or so, and needs not much. But I will like to thank 
you for coming. I was glad to dance for for some 
one else than the old manager. And I will not sign 
a long contract no ; it would suffocate me ! I dance 
at the vaudeville to-night. Will you come, after, to 
supper with Stephen? Mr. ah, Mr. your name is 
so hard ! " 

" I have another " (beginning to laugh) ; " you might 
call me Allan." 

" Allan ! Allan ! not quite so bad. Say mine. It is 
more musical Jasmina." 

He could not refuse, still laughing, to say her name 
over once or twice, to her almost childish pleasure. 

" Then you will come ? " She touched his hand with 
her smooth brown fingers, and was gone before the 



THE METEOPOLITANS 67 

manager came bustling back with profuse apologies. 
He was nearly as attentive to the " Argus " represen 
tative as hitherto to the fashionable patron. 

When the two men were going along the street that 
night together, Penrose, after being answered at ran 
dom two or three times, inquired, " Ou est la femme f 
I seem to hear the rustle of her garments." 

" I beg your pardon oh ! I was not necessarily in 
that 'delightful atmosphere. I may have been with 
Reginald Crofton in Africa, pulling off kid gloves to 
startle the natives, or up in my room, attempting to 
make Pegasus trot in time with some of my verselets." 

" I beg your pardon I was intrusive." 

" My dear fellow, no. Who has a better right ? I 
suppose I have been doing my work to-day on a per 
functory basis, which your keen sight has noted. I 
am suffering, in fact, from a disillusionment, which 
has lately caused me to wear my rue with a difference." 

" That," said Penrose, " is, I surmise, a pang you 
share with many after first youth slips away, which, 
like charity, believeth and hopeth all things. Maturity 
mostly spends itself clutching desperately at what 
fragments are left of that early beautiful faith in hu 
manity. For myself, I never had it. It may, perhaps, 
have been born with me, but if so I learned my pes 
simism very soon. I have never been much with people 
belonging to me, and the world looks very large and 
unfeeling to the eyes of a small Welsh boy left in a 
Hungarian forest, with no English-speaking creature 
near. Well, as I was saying, life comes high, though 
it seems we must have it. But, my dear lad " (he put 
a hand on his friend's shoulder, with a smile softening 



68 THE METEOPOLITANS 

wonderfully his cold face), " you were never meant for 
a pessimist, and your own nature will make up all to 
you even disillusionment with your ideals. But" 
(more lightly) " you will like Jasmina, I hope, who is 
not ideal at all. But she has a heart yes, Jasmina 
has a heart, which is not an every-day possession with 
wandering Romany dancers." 

She had a pretty manner too, as she presently proved, 
greeting them with an unconventional frankness fasci 
nating in its warmth. She took Peurose's two hands 
in hers as though she would lift them to her lips ; and 
closed the left softly over the one which clasped Rex- 
ford's. Advancing to meet them, she had thrown down 
a guitar among the pile of cushions into which she 
sank again, taking up the instrument and now and 
then sweeping a tinkling chord or two. " You know 
every one, I think ? " There were one or two actresses 
of note, a famous tenor from the opera, an artist who 
made surreptitious sketches of her when she kept still 
long enough, and two or three men of fashion and 
also of some wit; for Jasmina's requirements began 
and ended with that. "Life is too short," she said. 
" I cannot be bored." And there was a story extant 
that she had told Mortimer van Krippen, " You must 
uot come any more. I am sorry, but you do not amuse 
me at all. You have no ideas and no ear for music." 

Penrose's glance sought an alcove where stood an 
elongated table with green cloth cover, and in the 
center a revolving disk with cells alternating red and 
black and numbered, but motionless just now. " No," 
she said, "you bad Stephen, no play to-night. I am 
too tired for late hours this evening, and shall send 



THE METROPOLITANS 69 

you all off after supper." This was brought in while 
she talked to Rexf ord. " You will sit beside me," she 
said. They talked of everything and nothing, and 
drank Tokay out of tall thin glasses, and broke out 
into a snatch of chorus around the table every now 
and then. Suddenly she picked up her guitar, and 
Rexford was surprised to hear her sing, to a very odd 
melody : 

" When I would know 
If balmy airs or stormy winds do blow, 
My lady's face I view." 

Penrose might have pointed out the words as his 
friend's ; they were in the paper for all to read ; but 
who had set them to this strange melody ! She laughed 
gaily at his look of wonder. " It is a Romany ah-. I 
fitted the words to it. They go well, do they not ? " 

" But I did not know you sang and such a voice ! " 

" Oh, yes, my voice was trained when my feet were ; 
but I used them both before that." She dismissed them 
soon after, but with a pretty, soft apology in her 
sweetly bewildering good-night glance. 

"We have time still," suggested Penrose, "to stop 
at the Chimes for a ' beer.' " 

This was a sort of club to which he had introduced 
the younger. It was mainly for journalists and others 
whose late occupations brought with them a nipping 
and an eager appetite toward the dawn, and it was 
open only after twelve at night. " Named, I believe," 
said Penrose, " in honor of the immortal Justice Shal 
low. A good place, youngster, for you to meet others 
of the profession, and get as much and give as little 
news as possible. And you 're certain not to meet 



70 THE METROPOLITANS 

college students there a blessing to be devoutly 
thankful for ! " This, as they were almost run into 
by a band of the last-named youths, proving with 
linked arms the breadth of the pavement, and shout 
ing, that all the town might hear, that they were " sons 
of a sons of a sons of a sous of a sons of a gam- 
boleer ! " Also that, being rambling rakes of poverty, 
they took their whisky clear. Perhaps it was for this 
last purpose that their voices died away in the distance. 
" Now how pleasant that for sleepers along this route 
invalids especially ! Somebody ought to be in charge 
of those boys and keep them from being too offensive." 

" Now what do you want, Penrose," grumbled Rex- 
ford, good-naturedly, "with beer after Tokay, and a 
pipe after Russian cigarettes, and all that smoke and 
noisy talk after Jasmina ? " 

" I 'm in the habit of going suddenly from country 
to country. I like violent contrasts, and New York 's 
the place for that, for we have all countries right here. 
One may dine in all languages, or breakfast in Ger 
many, lunch in Italy, and dine in France. You have 
not tried the Malay restaurant in Madison street and 
scorched your palate with curry and pilau? or been 
among the Scandinavians down near Castle Garden, 
drinking Swedish punch and caraway beer ? Ah, you 
thought an occasional Greek or Chinese meal a novelty, 
but you have n't half explored. Here we are j and just 
listen to those fellows roar." 

They stopped at the doorway of an old house in the 
neighborhood of Trinity graveyard, and pushed open 
a second swing-door, from behind which came a mighty 
tumult of voices. Through the mist of tobacco smoke 



THE METROPOLITANS 71 

a large square room showed, with a stained and faded 
picture of Cornwallis's surrender over the mantelpiece 
of carved wood. Walls and ceiling were a sort of 
chrome yellow, the woodwork dirty red, tables un- 
painted and unvarnished, and the floor sanded. Orders 
for chops punctuated the conversation, as also, more 
frequently, impatient calls for beer, porter, or ale from 
the wood, quaffed thirstily out of pewter mugs. 

" Ha, is 7 t thou, my gentle youth ! " ranted some one 
in the cloud of smoke. " Come hither ; and, boy, bring 
us zwei bier." 

"Nay, nay," called another; "I want the gallant 
Rexford myself." 

Jenkins stood nearest to them. He seemed incensed, 
and held the ruins of a hat on which some considerable 
amount of avoirdupois had evidently been deposited. 
" 1 7 d like to know," he soliloquized loudly, " what fool 
has been sitting on my hat." 

"I cannot tell you," replied Rexford, laughing; 
" but if the gentleman is in the room, he has had the 
benefit of a candid opinion at least." 

One of the "Argus" book reviewers, a languid 
young man with a long nose, came in and called out, 
" Did you know, Rexford, that your Jenkins, my Jen 
kins, our Jenkins, Jenkins of the 'Argus,' is on the 
eve of deadly combat ? And that with a man who was 
hobnobbing with him only yesterday at the horse show, 
under the eyes of a boxful of pretty girls ! And com 
pliments flew back and forth between them on the 
things they write heaven save the mark ! I Ve al 
ways suspected Jenkins, myself, of being a wild-eyed 
socialist and a bold, bad man who would shake hands 



72 THE METBOPOLITANS 

with a pirate ! And now this other fellow has found 
him out and wants to fight him ! " 

Jenkins's round red face expanded in a grin. "I 
know I 'm sanguinary," said he, " and gunpowder 's 
the only perfume. But I don't send type- written cartels 
calling names and wanting people to fight duels ! I 
think it 's too late in the century for that. It 's a most 
entertaining letter. It calls me a cad and other pretty 
things because I wrote a humorous little skit on an 
article of his. And when he was so solemnly affable 
to me at the show, it was because he did n't know I 
was the one who wrote it. And now he seems so con 
foundedly mad because I did n't sign my name. He 
is n't half as sorry as I am that I 'm not allowed to 
write over my own name. I thought nearly everybody 
had discovered by this time that newspaper reporters 
write anonymously. It 's a fact, you know." 

"Is it?" came a laughing chorus. 

" Of course you will now scrap on the field of honor," 
said the book reviewer with the long nose. "You 
must have Rexford as second. He is authority on 
form; he knows Mr. Pundit." 

" I say, Rexford," said Jenkins, his own genial self 
again, " be sure and come to our dramatic performance 
next week. It '11 be fine ; and for the benefit of the 
Indigent Dyspeptics a very worthy charity. I have 
not asked Penrose. He makes fun of everything in 
that freezing way of his, and the others don't like 
him. Dash of cold water, you know." 

It would seem that Rexford was as much a favorite 
in this free-and-easy resort as elsewhere. "All the 
same," observed a quiet old stock-reporter in the corner, 



THE METROPOLITANS 73 

" he '11 never make a journalist. His heart is not in it. 
It 7 s just an odd column or two of matter in his life." 
Penrose overheard him and winced. " You are a fool," 
he told himself, roughly. " Did you expect to turn the 
lad into a scribbler just that you might keep him be 
side you ? " 




VII 



[ORNELIUS DE MANSUR loved his one 
fair daughter passing well and with a 
watchful tenderness ; still, it was a num 
ber of years since he had been young 
himself and had lost his young wife, and 
during that interval he had concerned himself more 
with rare editions and curious bindings than with 
matters of sentiment. So when it occurred to him one 
morning that her step was a thought languid, perhaps, 
and her manner listless, he ascribed it at once to the 
only ailment he knew much about, a "touch of dys 
pepsia," for which he always prescribed air and exer 
cise. He proceeded now to catechize her with the 
magisterial solemnity at which it was her custom to 
laugh. 

" Come here, Katherine." 
She sat upon the arm of his chair. 
" I can't see you there." 
" You can feel me " (with a little squeeze). 
" I suppose you have been poking about with your 
charity work in all sorts of stuffy, unwholesome holes 
and corners ? " 

" No more than usual." 

" You know I am satisfied to have you give what we 

74 



THE METROPOLITANS 75 

can, but not to have you go about taking risks in in 
fected places, perhaps. You can send what 's needed." 
" You know " (gently) " that 7 s not the same thing." 
" Well " (giving up this point for the hundredth time, 
and tacking), " you have been keeping too late hours. 
Confound this modern mania for turning night into 
day ! For fear one should go to bed before sensible 
people are taking breakfast, society must now have a 
Vaudeville Club ! " 

" Papa, you know I have only been to it twice." 
She leaned her heavy head on the arm resting on 
the chair-back. Was it not there, that second time, 
last night, that Allan Rexford had passed her with a 
bow, not speaking? 

"Then," said her father, briskly, as one who has 
gained an argument, " what you need is fresh air and 
exercise ; and I want you to promise me that every fine 
morning, after this, you will drive to the Park and stay 
there an hour. More outdoor life that is what women 
need." And with an illustrative wave of his arm to 
ward St. George's steeple, he trotted off to the Grolier 
there to shut himself in for the rest of the day and 
forget his lunch. 

Katherine had obeyed him faithfully for a week, 
when there came a day which no stretch of imagina 
tion could possibly describe as fine. A gray sky, with 
the waves in the harbor whipped into little whitecaps 
by small sharp gusts ; swirls of wind gathering eddies 
of straw and dust and bits of paper at street cor 
ners, and impishly scattering them in the eyes of 
passers-by ; and a raw chill in the air which had some 
mysterious way of penetrating the warmest wraps and 



76 THE METROPOLITANS 

going straight to the bone. Nature in the Park wore 
a frowning and discouraging aspect, which would 
hardly have attracted Katherine if she had not been 
possessed by a sharp restlessness that would let her 
settle to no home occupation. So she drove, as usual, 
up the avenue, passing Mortimer van Krippen and 
Royall "Worcester and half a score of other dandies 
coming down in the latest style of amble, and trying 
to look unconscious of the wind's assaults on their tall 
hats. A cold mist was thickening the atmosphere 
when she reached the Park; she bade the coachman 
drive to the Metropolitan Museum, and was soon shut 
in behind its portals. There were few if any visitors 
this inclement day, and she seemed to have the col 
lected treasures of art to herself which might have 
satisfied a reasonable art lover who had remembered 
to bring her catalogue. But she was conscious of a 
feeling of loneliness and depression, and wandered 
about aimlessly for a while ; and instead of admiring 
in the west gallery the joyous painted nymphs under 
which she stood, she began idly scribbling on the edge 
of the leaf which described them ; and then, raising 
her head, perceived near her a gentleman, his back 
turned, who was also writing in a small note-book. 
Her heart gave a throb, and at the same instant oh, 
wonderful wealth of feminine resource ! her eyes were 
at once calmly serene, her slim figure erect in graceful 
indifference, and an artistic, unaffected pleasure in the 
nymphs overhead seemed to be her dominant feeling. 
" Oh good morning," said the young man, turning. 
" It is quite a surprise to meet any one here on such 
a day. I happen to be tracing a certain artist's works 



THE METEOPOLITANS 77 

through the galleries for an article. And you, too, are 
taking notes? Do you not notice" (coming nearer) 
" how depressingly trivial any remark sounds in this 
appalling vastuess ? Is it the absence of people, or the 
silent presence of all these painted notabilities, or just 
that the emptiness makes unusual echoes ? My voice 
actually reverberates ; excuse me if I whisper." It was 
his old friendly, half -jesting, half -tender accent; for 
he was a man and taken unawares by the beloved's 
unexpected presence! She softened too; she could 
not help it. 

" Good morning, Mr. Rexf ord. I fancied until I saw 
you that I was monarch of all I surveyed and that 
I owned all the pictures." 

"And you were criticizing your possessions? Let 
me see " (taking the catalogue gently from her hand) 
" what you write of the nymphs. Ah, you quote : 

Alas ! they heed not what we say ; 
They smile with ardor undiminished ; 
But we we are not always gay. 

"Allow me, Miss de Mansur" (playfully), "to crit 
icize your criticism. An art notice should always be 
objective never subjective. But you " (changing his 
tone) "you are always gay?" 

A swift coldness punished his presumption. 

" Why should I be always gay ? Is this a world in 
which one who thinks or feels can be always gay ? " 

" But women most women have so little to trou 
ble them." 

"Women most women have so little to distract 
them from such trouble as they may have." 



78 THE METROPOLITANS 

A hasty retrospect of those changeful last weeks, 
crowded as they had been with novelty and variety 
enough almost to deaden the shock of an unexpected 
blow, seemed to confirm the difference she indicated. 

"I think," said she, drawing her furs about her 
shoulders, " that it grows chillier up here. I must go 
down. I always " (with a smile) " visit the mummies 
before leaving. They are so fascinating." 

" Permit me." He took her hand in his, preceding 
her down the stairway. With the touch of her slen 
der gloved fingers, the doubts, suspicion, resentment, 
everything which had kept him from her, resolved 
itself into a sudden determination. " If she is calcu 
lating, mercenaiy enough to have changed, I will know 
it from herself ! " The hopeful ardor of his young 
manhood asserted itself. His eye dwelt on a silken 
lock which curled behind her ear; the faint perfume 
of some flowers she wore reached him. He looked 
down at her tenderly as she kept pace with him. Thej r 
walked up and down beside the mummy-cases, abso 
lutely alone now, save for a sleepy official, who gave 
them an indifferent look and went off to a distant 
window, drawn there by a sudden downpour of rain. 
Katherine paused beside this case and that, reading 
the inscriptions. "'Casket of the Lady Taon-Hor, 
from Thebes. A Lady of the House Arshep. Twen 
tieth Dynasty before Christ, 1275-1100.' < The Lady 
of the House Tsa-isi-emmiu. 7 " 

" To think that the silent shell, lying here for curi 
ous sight-seers to peer at, should have been, two or 
three thousand years ago, a being like ourselves, with 
pride and passion and hope and ambition ! Noble she 



THE METROPOLITANS 79 

was ; young, perhaps, and beautiful ; surrounded with 
splendor and adulation. And she might have sent us 
to death then for idle speculations about her, which 
now she has no power to prevent." 

" She she was laid away" (he repeated), 
" From the loving light of day 

In the early far-off ages, while yet the Sphinx was young ; 
And the quiet earth hath kept her 
Since they who wailed and wept her 

Cried their cry of lamentation in the old Egyptian tongue. 
She she has rested well, 
For yet a glance can tell 
The latest hands that touched her were loving, longing hands. 

" Ah," discontinuing, " what were the flatteries and 
splendor of the court of Pharaoh, after all, to her, a 
human creature ? Mere incidents, as would have been 
the coarse garments and reed hut of a Nile fisher's 
wife. Nothing counted but the love she felt and re 
ceived ! " 

" I must go now," she said. The rain dashed against 
the window-panes. The sleepy official had probably 
gone to sleep in some corner. 

"Wait," he urged, "until this shower is over." 

They passed through a doorway into the rotunda 
near the pictured Emperor Justinian and his council 
ors ; and she slipped and struck her wrist sharply on 
the iron back of a bench, provoking a little cry. It 
was surely not hurt enough to force the tears into her 
eyes, one of which fell on her cheek ; and he must have 
divined this, for in an instant he held her in his arms 
and passionately kissed that tear away. 

" Oh, oh ! " she whispered breathlessly, pushing.him 



80 THE METROPOLITANS 

from her, a wave of crimson dyeing cheek and throat 
and little ear. 

"I know," he cried, forestalling all reproach, "it 
was presumptuous, audacious, and everything wrong ! 
But, Katherine, there was no need to tell you that I 
love you more than life ! Sweetest, loveliest, dearest, 
best ! forgive me if I have dared to think you like me 
just a little ! " 

" You have not hurried to ask," she answered, still 
in a whisper, and with an upward misty glance which 
made him long to repeat his offense. 

" And did you not know why ? " he said impetuously. 
"Could I ask your father's daughter to share I 
scarcely know what ? For I will not take the mess of 
pottage offered in place of my birthright. I have my 
own way still to carve, and that is hardly a recom 
mendation to a modern father. Katherine, it was 
torment enough to keep away and leave the field to 
Van Krippens and Worcesters and others not so 
handicapped as I." 

" Let me see," she said softly, herself again, a little 
smile playing about her lips ; " was it of a lady of the 
house Arshep or De Mansur that some one said that 
nothing in her life counted but the love she received 
-and felt?" 

The purely Arcadian hours of life come seldom 
enough ; but when they do they are happily indepen 
dent of circumstance. No previous misgivings, nor 
chill of surrounding atmosphere, nor the rain that 
raineth every day, is allowed to interfere. The living 
picture of Love and Youth seen here far excelled any 
painted canvas in the hundreds about them. And if 



THE METROPOLITANS 81 

the Emperor Justinian and his councilors had been 
sentient beings, they might, seeing it, have stepped 
down from their frame this stormy afternoon, wreathed 
their heads with roses, and sung " Carpe diem." As it 
was, they were discreetly unobservant. But these 
golden moments were winged. The sleepy official 
wakened after a while to a sense of duty, shown mainly 
by bustling in and out. And it was at last necessary 
for Rexf ord to show Katherine into her carriage and 
resume his art notes in what was then a mere wilder 
nesswith what success Penrose's comment indicated : 
"I don't know much about paintings, but it strikes 
me, Rexford, these remarks are a little mixed." 

Katherine looked radiant enough at dinner to justify 
the credit Mr. de Mansur took to himself for his pre 
scription. "Nothing like it nothing, I assure you," 
he repeated. " It is what nine out of ten ailing people 
need air and exercise air and exercise ! In good 
weather, of course not on a day like this, when it 
would argue perfect lunacy to take any unnecessary 
outing." Katherine laughed; she remembered a 
French jingle: 

Si t'aimer est folie, 

Je serais folle toute la vie. 

But she was not yet prepared to confess her lunacy, 
and only showed her inner gladness by filial attentions 
and caresses, which Cornelius accepted complacently. 
And already, in her room that night, the eternal un 
dertone of warning came to give pause to her unreck- 
oning happiness. A little superstitious chill came over 
her once or twice when she thought of her joy com 
ing to her so near the coffined lady of the Nile. She 



82 THE METROPOLITANS 

dreamed of her that night tall, dark, and sad-eyed, in 
her Egyptian robes, with a lotus in her hand. And she 
said, like Thekla, "I too have lived andloved, and now" 

But the sun burst forth next morning, and shone, 
as he does shine in New York, with surpassing bril 
liancy. He sparkled on the waters of the bay, and 
gilded the tall roofs and steeples, and flooded with 
light the rooms and the heart of a young woman for 
whom that day neither guilt nor poverty nor great 
troubles nor petty vexations existed upon the face of 
the earth. She walked the avenue with a big dog fol 
lowing her, and a rose in her trim coat; and Jack 
Doultou-Minton twisted his head to look after her, and 
said to a chum : 

" By Jove ! old chappy, that woman gets lovelier 
every day. She and the new dancer what 's her 
name? Jasmina are the greatest beauties in town. 
They 're the aborigines no, I don't mean that! the 
antipodes of each other." 

And Archibald Pundit exclaimed, "Like Aurora, 
'pon my honor, Miss Katherine, like Aurora, don't you 
know ! " He walked some distance with her, confiding 
to her graciously his idea for rescuing Allan Rexford 
from the depths to which he must fall. "For, don't 
you understand, he 's rather dropped out of our set, 
and is bound to lose prestige ; and and from, don't 
you know, from lack of association with, ahem ! with 
some of us. If he won't take provision amply made 
for him, why, don't you perceive, the only thing left 
to rescue him from that low lot of musicians and all 
he 's fallen in with is a marriage to such an heiress, 
say, as your friend, Miss van Krippen. You are so 



THE METROPOLITANS 83 

sensible, Miss Katherine, I know you catch my idea. 
We will talk of it another time." 

The next acquaintance to meet her was the very 
heiress alluded to ; her little head well up in the air, 
a tiny King Charles at her heels, as also the German 
teacher (otherwise chaperon), at fifty cents an hour, 
who was hardly able to keep up with her. 

" Excuse me, fraulein," said Angelica, sweetly, " for 
speaking French, as you do not understand it, but Miss 
Lavender desires me to practise it whenever I can." 
So addressing her friend in a rapid flow of that lan 
guage, she told her that she had been yesterday to a 
matinee with Miss Lavender. Did n't remember the 
play ; it was stupid ; had eaten chocolate caramels until 
torpid. "But oh, my dear, the loveliest adventure 
afterward ! We went to Del's for an ice ; and such an 
interesting young foreigner there assistant cashier, 
somebody said. And he came into our room and 
picked up my lorgnette, which I let fall, and restored 
it with such a bow under her very nose ! And, see 
ing her look at programs lying around of an entertain 
ment for the Indigent Dyspeptics, he said in the 
friendliest way, 'Madame will, perhaps, attend that? 
I feel an interest myself, as maybe it is here they will 
have acquired the dyspepsia or the indigence.' I ex 
pected to see him instantly stiffen into a lifeless heap 
under her glacial gaze ; but, instead, he gave me an 
other friendly smile and went off." 

" Angelica, a strange employee ! " 

" My child, foreigners of high rank often fill those 
humble positions until their remittances arrive." She 
spoke assuredly, as though acquainted herself with 



84 THE METROPOLITANS 

several continental princes who had, during tempo 
rary embarrassment, served in Sherry's or Delmonico's. 
" I asked a waiter who the gentleman was, for he cer 
tainly looks like a gentleman, and he said his name 
was Federling. Now, Katherine, you need not look 
shocked. It was amusing to let him do it with Miss 
Lavender herself on guard. I like everybody myself 
who seems jolly and friendly, and so does papa. I 
wonder how he will like to pay fifty cents an hour to 
have his daughter tagged after and watched, a thing he 
never would do himself ? Miss Lavender will not go to 
the Indigent Dyspeptics," she continued ; " but, though 
I am not ' out,' she will let me go with Mrs. Crowne 
Derby on condition that Morty goes too. That 's be 
cause I told her those two Frenchmen whose people she 
knows would be there. I am to stay at Mrs. Derby's 
all night. Mrs. Crowne Derby is very attentive to me " 
(demurely) ; " I don't know why. Dick will be with us, 
of course. You come too, Katherine, there 's a love." 

Nor would she cease urging, the patient fraulein 
waiting, until Katherine consented. 

When the Crowne Derby carriage stopped at their 
door that night, she ran lightly down their front steps, 
to find her way barred for a moment by an organ- 
grinder who handed her a paper which said : 

This is Gibson. He is deaf and dumb. He has music for a 
small compensation. Please help him. He plays these tunes : 

" Down on the Suwanee River." 

" Old Dan Tucker." 

"Run, Nigger, Run." 

"Daddy was a butcher, lives up-town." 

Please help him. 



THE METROPOLITANS 85 

She smiled and found a small coin. " Thank you, 
Miss de Mansur," said Mortimer van Krippen's voice ; 
"this will be a precious souvenir." He whistled for 
the organ's owner, who came round the corner and 
took his fee for its use. Then Morty was ready to pull 
down the collar of his greatcoat and present the 
grinder, with slouch hat worn for the occasion, and 
remind Dick Crowne Derby that he had won the bet, 
which was odds that Miss de Mansur would n't know 
him. His sister and Mrs. Derby laughed, but Kathe- 
rine's lip curled as she took her place in the carriage. 
" If this is all," she thought, " that young men of means 
can find to occupy their time, the sooner they are poor 
and go to work the better." Perhaps she was think 
ing, too, as they rolled along, that to write articles on 
music and literature and art generally was even finer, 
if possible, by contrast. 

And yet there was Jenkins, of whom she had never 
heard, who worked at such matters, and, moreover, 
gave leisure time unselfishly to making himself absurd 
for the benefit of the Indigent Dyspeptics. He was on 
the stage when they entered, taking the chief part in a 
melodrama which he had also written. Border Eagle 
was his name, and he was to be seen in a rocky pass, 
breathing hard and overhearing a plot against the 
whites between three presumably deaf Shoshone In 
dians in the foreground. These three, with a comic 
negro and an Irishman, were mixed in inextricable 
confusion, the only thing clear to the audience being 
that virtue, in the form of Jenkins aided by a six- 
shooter and a bowie-knife, was finally successful in 
rescuing the heroine from a great variety of assorted 

6* 



86 THE METROPOLITANS 

dangers amid applause and some concealed laughter. 
Katherine leaned back with an abstracted smile not, 
assuredly, inspired by Jenkins. 

The young men jested ; the matron politely veiled 
her yawns; Angelica looked about through her lor 
gnette for Federling. They lingered when it was over 
for the crowd to decrease ; and going out, she actually 
saw him. Under this great roof of the Square Garden 
there are many festal halls, and into one of these 
others, maskers were passing. A Mephistopheles 
raised his mask and bowed to Angelica ; and Kath 
erine marked the contrast between a diabolic, close- 
fitting suit of red and the frank, smiling blue eyes 
and blond hair. Angelica, in the amused interest of 
this meeting, did not notice that Katherine, as they 
next passed a small supper-room leading to the ball 
room, gave a quick start. She saw at supper, with 
distant strains of music and much jesting, a little 
party of merry-makers who had laid aside their masks. 
Chief among them was Rexford, beside a woman all 
wrapped in black lace, with a face like a flower for 
which she vainly searched her memory. She saw Pen- 
rose also, whom she knew slightly, before they passed 
on ; and answered lightly some remark of Morty van 
Krippen's about the group. But she thought : " Was 
this the engagement which prevented his coming to 
me this evening ? I fancied it was work." 

She no longer smiled happily in her dark corner of 
the carriage going back. 




VIII 

did not consist with Katherine's ideal of 
living to keep secret anything of impor 
tance from the father who had been all 
the world to her in childhood and young 
maidenhood. But it was Rexford who 
had said, "A few days or weeks, perhaps, will not 
matter, for it to be between just you and me. ' Au 
jour le jour,' I am afraid, has been my selfish motto 
until now. But I mean to become a combination of 
busy bee and miser for the sake of the sweetest eyes 
ever were seen. When I have something definite in 
view I will speak to your father at once." 

This was the next Sunday when he came from 
church with her and lunched at their house ; and he 
had mentioned the masquerade supper to her in a 
large way men have as being " partly business." Mr. 
de Mansur accepted his occasional appearance as 
placidly as he did most things. He was accustomed 
to have young men about his house, whose presence 
he affected to consider as due to his own charms. 
"Nice, pleasant manners, Rexford," he would say, "like 
his father. The other Allan Rexford was a favorite, 
too, everywhere ; knew an Elzevir when he saw it, and 
played a fair hand at whist. I ; m afraid the mother 
has n't treated this lad well." 

87 



88 THE METEOPOLITANS 

Katherine atoned for her delayed confidence by extra 
thoughtfulness for his comfort and an abundance of 
caresses, which caused the old gentleman to declare to 
two or three present, " I call you to witness, Mr. van 
Krippen, Mr. Worcester, gentlemen all, that I will 
not do it, whatever it is ; I will not do it ! If you 
should ever be heads of families yourselves you would 
understand that these alarming accessions of demon 
stration on the part of a daughter cover some deep- 
laid design on her father's purse or time or both." 
He was given these days to many small jests, being 
unusually happy in the return of his nephew, Reginald 
Crofton, the African explorer. This broad-shouldered 
Apollo had brought back with him quite a museum 
of skins and assagais and shields, and all sorts of in 
teresting barbaric trophies, in which his uncle took 
great delight. He was, indeed, so genially interested 
and gay that Katherine had a proportionate shock 
when he said to her seriously one day, " My dear, I 
hate to have to say it of an old friend's son, but I 
hear that Allan Rexford is very different from what 
he used to be ; has grown wild and reckless, and keeps 
company that that would have pained his father very 
much. They are saying at the club and everywhere 
well, it is not worth while to repeat scandal ; but it 
might be better not to have him here often, and not to 
hurt his feelings, but to be just a little distant until I 
can ascertain more." 

Before Katherine collected her ideas to answer he 
had gone. She reared her head quite haughtily, being 
alone ; a red spot burned on each cheek. " Her Allan ! 
Scandal-hunters must always have noble game to pur- 



THE METEOPOLITANS 89 

sue. Papa was not used to listen to them. What an 
outrage ! " She went to her own room and looked at 
a picture of St. George and the dragon which she had 
bought because the warrior saint's face and figure bore 
a resemblance to Rexford's. "If the dragon stands 
for scandal/' the girl thought proudly, "my knight's 
strength and gallantry will keep his shield spotless. 
If he still had a fortune, he might be as wicked as 
as he is not, and they would think it only amusing ! " 

In which she may have been right ; for society dis 
plays a truly Christian forbearance toward a sinner 
whose millions may endow a church or hospital or 
even, with better management, its own daughters. 

"Peurose," observed Rexford, the same day, "I 
want you to answer me a question quite truthfully." 

" As it was in haste that King David proclaimed all 
men liars, perhaps I may. But I decline from the first 
any of those standard crucial tests of friendship, as to 
tell what I think of your looks or your verselets, or 
what are your chief faults of character, or what people 
say in my hearing about you." 

"Try not to be an idiot," said Rexford, gravely. 
" What I want seriously to know is this : how do you 
think I progress in journalism?" 

If Penrose was ever so little discomposed by this 
question, he did not show it. "You draw a fair 
monthly salary now, do you not? Besides that, a 
variable sum for articles for other papers and maga 
zines. It is n't often beginners can show as good ac 
count as that." 

" Yes, I know. That is n't what I 'm asking. With 
your experience in newspaper men and things, should 



90 THE METROPOLITANS 

you think that in the course of a few years I might 
hold a fairly high place in the profession be a dis 
tinct success, in short ? " 

Penrose got up and walked about the little office. 
" I don't know why you ask," he said, giving him a 
keen look. " At present you are enjoying the inde 
pendence dear to every manly being; with the pre 
cious certainty of being able, without help from any 
one, to keep yourself in bread and butter, not to say 
sandwiches and beer." 

" I ask because I want to know." 

" Well then " (slowly), " since I am bound to contro 
vert King David's hasty proposition, I will tell you 
that I think you are wasting your time. Your criti 
cisms lately always excepting those on music have 
had a perfunctory, dilettante ring, as of one not tak 
ing himself or his subject or his readers seriously." 

Rexford winced visibly. He had asked for truth, 
but, being human, it hurt him. 

"Mind you," Penrose added, "this is an individual 
opinion. No one else has said so. Others may think 
you improving." Though Rexford's senior by compar 
atively few years, his self-possessed bearing hid now 
a pang which a father might feel at wounding a son. 
"Is truth-telling to cost me as much as it did Gil 
Bias?" 

"Indeed, no." Rexford looked up with his own 
bright, friendly glance. " Thank you," he added sim 
ply. " I feel that you are right ; but what is to be 
done ? " 

" Do ! why, what you do best, man. A hundred 
other fellows could at a pinch turn out just such arti- 



THE METROPOLITANS 91 

cles as yours, lacking a touch or so. But they could 
not write that dainty serenade I heard you humming 
when you were dressing; nor that adagio you were 
playing last night. They could not set a Hungarian 
folk-song to music Jasmina is quite wild about. Mel 
ody is your Muse, my lad ! Leave fooling with the 
others, and give yourself to her. Come, try your hand 
at a light tuneful opera ; and let me write the libretto. 
If it 's any good, we have between us influence 
enough with the manager." 

" Oh ! do you think I really could ? I will begin 
right away ! " Hope rekindled in his eyes. His 
great opera was already written and a success. He 
saw himself in a moment rich again, and famous, and 
living with Katherine in a beautiful castle in Spain. 
He felt annoyed at sudden roars of laughter from a 
neighboring apartment where Jenkins was amusing 
his fellow-reporters with a choice story having a cigar- 
store Indian for its hero. Then he smiled indulgently. 
" Life with that fellow," he observed, " is a mere mat 
ter of cakes and ale and a good story. But I must 
get to work. I know a motif " 

" Yes," said Penrose, dryly. " We, unlike Jenkins, 
are philosophers. But I would not begin on a motif, 
if I were you, until I had finished that notice of last 
night's concert." 

Rexford stopped his humming and laughed. He 
was proof now against a dash of cold water. He set 
tled down to his desk ; but loose sheets of paper were 
decorated with a bit of this or that score, as musical 
ideas obtruded themselves. He was impatient for 
morning to pass, that he might lock himself into his 



92 THE METROPOLITANS 

room with the piano ; and he sent a second note to 
Katherine, saying that something important to 
be explained later would prevent his calling that 
evening. 

This would have been unpardonable but for the 
fact that the corner-stone he was so eager to lay was 
in an edifice to be dedicated to her. Still, it was no 
wonder a little creeping doubt presented itself: "An 
other masquerade, perhaps." She rejected it with 
generous indignation as well as Mr. Pundit's sugges 
tive remarks to her father over the card-table: "I 
won't say, my dear sir, don't you know, with all re 
spect for my noble friend, Lady Mellon, you under 
stand, that he was well treated ; but he need not have 
taken to such wild courses, don't you comprehend. 
Walking in broad daylight with actors and reporters 
and such people, whom his friends must pretend not 
to see, don't you know. And then" his voice lowered 
until several words were indistinguishable. Then, 
louder : " Roulette, I am told, every night. Manipu 
lates the wheel herself ! Yes, it 's a pity, don't you 
know, quite a pity. They say, by the way, that Lady 
Mellon is having some trouble with his lordship. I 
never believe all that gossip about a nobleman. It 's 
just sheer envy, don't you understand." 

She should not have heard this, which was not for 
her, but ought to have been listening instead to her 
cousin, who had allowed nothing to interfere with his 
call, and was giving herself and a few others an im 
promptu lecture on Zululand, stimulated into elo 
quence by feeling her eyes upon him. 

" If I were you," said Angelica van Krippen later, 



THE METROPOLITANS 93 

up in her room (she had come to spend the night), " I 
should immediately lose my heart to Mr. Crofton. 
Though I should be sorry for Morty ! Morty will not 
commit suicide, however, no matter how badly you 
treat him. He is more likely to die at the hands of 
papa when that dear man finds out about Otto." She 
cast down her eyes and gave a well-executed sigh. 

"Otto?" 

" Mr. Federling, you know." 

11 That man again ? O Angelica ! " 

"My dear, no one alive shall marry me for my 
money if I can prevent it. And whether I am brought 
out here, with Miss Lavender, Mr. Pundit, and all the 
Patriarchs superintending, or mamma arranges a 
European match for me over yonder, it is all one ; my 
value in cash will be trumpeted. You may not have 
suspected me of romance, but I am papa's daughter- 
poor dear papa ! with his ' Children of the Abbey.' I 
mean to marry for love or not at all ! " This warlike 
declaration was in her usual thin, sweet tones, and 
her eyes looked childlike clear at Katherine without 
the lorgnette. 

"But, Angelica, a stranger, a foreigner, utterly 
unknown, in such a position. It is, of course, some 
adventurer taking advantage of your imprudence." 

" Not at all " (triumphantly). " I know plenty about 
him already. He has told me himself, and I believed 
him. Perhaps you think, Katherine" (flushing pink 
under her transparent skin), " that, from my antece 
dents, I cannot always tell a gentleman, but I can. 
However, I prudently asked Morty to investigate, as 
though it were for a possible German teacher for Miss 



94 THE METROPOLITANS 

Lavender, and it was all right. My dear, he is really 
Von Federling, and a baron, but poor as any barn 
yard fowl Job ever had before the neighbors stole 
them. And he was a student at Heidelberg, and then 
in the army for the usual time ; and has a little crooked 
scar he got in a duel just under his front hair, and he 
is so proud of it ; I don't know why, for it would have 
shown more sense to have kept out of fights. But the 
family estate was small, and the daughters have to be 
provided for ; he is the youngest of eleven ; the others 
are all girls ; so you can't blame a poor man with ten 
sisters for coming over to America to try his luck. 
He hoped for a professorship or something like that, 
for he is scientific and speaks several languages ; but, 
knowing no one, he did anything he could find to do, 
and was glad enough to get that place at Del's. Find 
ing out about the title was just accidental, for he has 
too much sense to use it now. But he is delightfully 
sentimental, and quotes yards of poetry, which makes 
me laugh." 

" Was it through Mortimer you found out that this 
was all true ? " 

" That is the cream of the affair. Morty had no 
trouble in getting at a lot about him, and was on the 
point of imparting it to Miss Lavender, as per request, 
when I diverted her attention. But I was walking in 
the Park with Fraulein Volmer, the day after the In 
digent Dyspeptics' benefit (I always like her for chape 
ron ; she is even more stupid than she looks), when 
who should appear but Mephisto of the night before. 
Did n't he look delightfully absurd in that satanic 
dress, with his curly blond mustache and round rosy 



THE METROPOLITANS 95 

cheeks ! He raised his hat to me, then looked at her 
and stopped. ' Ach, Gott ! ' she cried, or something to 
that effect. ' Is it thou, dear Baron Otto ? ' And it 
turned out that the fraulein had been governess to 
half a dozen of his sisters in their beloved native vil 
lage with the unpronounceable name on the Rhine. 
So he stayed and talked with us for a while. She has 
prosed to me before by the hour at fifty cents of 
her past life, and I never listened, for, though I be 
lieved her to be truthful, I knew her to be debilitat 
ing. But now I make her tell me all about Otto and 
Castle Schlippenschloppenschlanberg it 's something 
like that ! If Miss Lavender's policy with her teachers 
were not so sternly repressive, if she were not a glacier 
to attempted confidences, the simple soul would tell 
her too, and all would be lost ! As it is, the fraulein 
treats herself to this little revival of home associations 
without imagining my special interest. And oh, 
Katherine, what fun to lunch at Del's with Miss Lav 
ender, and smile at Otto under her nose while she 
studies the menu with severe propriety ! " 

Miss van Krippen paused for breath, and Katherine 
had a chance to ask, " But if your brother discovered 
nothing to this this gentleman's discredit, and he is 
of good birth and education, why not tell Mortimer ? 
Why not write of him to your parents, and have him 
visit you ? " 

" Katherine de Mansur ! Have you ever met mam 
ma? No, I thought not! When she takes me out 
of Miss Lavender's and puts poor little Anastelle in 
my place, her plans for me will be fixed, and not in 
connection with a disinterested affection." 



96 THE METROPOLITANS 

Katherine could not forbear an expressive look. 

"You wonder," cried her friend, " how with a poor 
man I can be sure he is disinterested ! Why, he does 
not know my name, even. The fraulein calls me An 
gelica, and I told him it was Cripps. O Katherine, 
you must know Otto sometime. He is quite learned 
too, but very fond of sweets, and always keeps bon 
bons about him and treats the fraulein and me. And 
she eats them and weeps when he quotes German 
poetry. You should hear him tell of a friend of his 
at home who was dying of love for a girl, and there 
was a favored rival whom he hated. And he came to 
Otto and said he could bear to give her up to a friend, 
but not to an enemy, and begged Otto to be presented 
to her, make love, win her perhaps. At his friend's 
sighs and groans of despair Otto consented and met 
the lady. She made no impression on a heart reserved 
for me, and he was obliged to tell his almost frenzied 
friend, who thought of suicide, but went away instead 
to practise microscopy at Stockholm. Otto asked me 
if it was not a touching poem ; and when I inquired if 
during that time his friend refrained from potato 
salad, or was noticeably moderate in the matter of 
beer, he looked at me so reproachfully that that 
her voice died away into what the poet Keats is 
pleased to call " a slumbrous tenderness." 

But Katherine lay awake a long time afterward, 
speedily forgetting about Otto to wonder what Mr. 
Pundit's unheard remarks had been, and why he 
should wish to malign her Allan; and, subcon 
sciously, to let her mind misgive her as to what un- 
imagined recklessness might keep the latter from her. 



THE METEOPOLITANS 97 

He was blamelessly occupied, at the time, looking at 
the same stars through his window in a mood of ela 
tion, for the plot of the opera was well under way be 
tween the chief conspirators, and he was planning, 
incidentally, a sonnet to her as his inspiration. 




IX 



I HE approved of his absence; she ap 
proved of this new work which had de 
tained him; in fine, she approved of 
him, smiling with sweet, clear, inter 
ested eyes, bright with sympathy, 
across her little tea-table the next afternoon, when 
fate favored them with a half -hour together. 

"Penrose," he told her, "my collaborator, just 
sketched off the plot of the book in no time. I told 
him it was impossibly sensational. He said nothing 
was impossible in life ; everything could happen and 
did, sometimes ; that these incidents had actually oc 
curred. So this is the way it is to be. Zora is the 
Hungarian girl; has two lovers, and is in love with 
the poor one. Her father, favoring the rich suitor, 
suggests that the field will be clear for him if he con 
trives to get the other out of the way. The rich 
farmer manages this, and the girl, thinking herself 
deserted by the other, accepts his attentions. At the 
wedding the groom, drinking healths until he loses all 
prudence, boasts in her hearing that he has killed his 
rival. She seizes a knife from the table and springs 
toward him ; her father checks her, rushing between, 
whereupon she kills herself. At this sight the father, 

98 



THE METEOPOLITANS 99 

frenzied, shoots the farmer, who falls dead just as the 
other suitor appears to hear her dying words, and ex 
plain, as well as horror will permit, that no violence 
had been used to send him to a distance, as the farmer 
had falsely and foolishly declared, but just a lengthy 
business errand invented for that purpose." 

" And what becomes of him ? " 

" That we have not settled. As a matter of fact, 
Penrose says, he became a member of the village 
band, and did very well until an attack of measles 
carried him off. But that would hardly do." 

" Certainly not ! Why not have him die of grief ? " 

" He would have to expire to the very slowest music 
composer ever wrote. There is a further complication 
in the opera, in the shape of the great lady of the vil 
lage, who takes a fancy to his fine eyes. We might 
manage his end well, that will arrange itself. It is 
not so hard as you might think. There are some de 
lightful chances for melody at the plaza, with the rivals 
and the love-scenes and the wedding, with Hungarian 
bride-song and choruses." He passed into the music- 
room through the archway. "Listen, now; this is 
the air Manuel sings under her window." A few bars 
were played and sung. " Now this " (with a crash of 
chords and a descent into the bass, changing the key) 
" is where the father and farmer are plotting to be rid 
of Manuel. Now then, this little minor is always to 
be played when Zora is coming. Do you like it ? 
Katherine" (he came back, his eyes aflame), " I mean 
to work day and night until it is finished. If it is a 
success Penrose encourages me I need not wait any 
longer to ask your father ! " She made a little barri- 



100 THE METROPOLITANS 

cade of the tea equipage between them, which he en 
compassed in a moment. "Do not insult me with 
offers of more tea ! " he cried, " and as for sweets" 
Then, whatever delight he had promised himself when 
he went on one knee beside her low chair was post 
poned, as callers entered, and he was on his feet 
again, saying, with rare presence of mind, " There is 
your pretty cup quite safe ; I think I rescued it very 
cleverly ! " 

Miss Lavender's unpremeditated interruption hardly 
justified the instant wild hatred he felt, though her ex 
cessively cold greeting might have excited his wonder 
if he had noticed it, and if Angelica van Krippen had 
not taken it on herself to supply all missing cordiality. 
Miss Lavender, deceived by Katherine's look of inter 
est, began to murmur into her ear further confidences 
connected with the scandalous treatment accorded by 
the very unparliamentary Provincial Matrons to a de 
scendant, collaterally, of Poor Richard. " They will 
regret it, I fancy, when they find themselves in court. 
If Franklin Hall needed an advertisement," added the 
business woman, " it would have it just through Mrs. 
Doulton-Minton's machinations against its principal ! " 
She shrugged her thin shoulders. " As it is, my dear, 
applications come in shoals; especially since De 
Vaurien and Mauvais Sujet are so constantly at my 
Wednesdays. And my friend and ex-pupil, the mar 
quis's aunt by marriage, writes me the sweetest letters 
in praise of these young noblemen. With domestic 
anxieties of her own, as I hear, it is charming in her 
to take such unselfish interest in others." 

"Devilish unselfish," said Mortimer, in an aside, 



THE METROPOLITANS 101 

closing the eye near Rexford ; " like the interest the 
fox, once caught in a trap, took in his fellows' brushes. 
Oh, say, you 're not going yet ! A chap never gets a 
chance to talk to you now, you 're running so much 
with Penrose and that lot. Saw him at a supper the 
other night Harvard foot-ball team. Good spread, 
too and he called me Dugald Dalgetty. Who 's 
Dalgetty, anyhow ? I don't believe I 've ever met him. 
Say " (in a whisper), " I hear you 've had better luck 
with the Jasmina than I did. Did n't seem to like me ; 
shows her bad taste ! " The good-natured little fellow 
grinned. " Well, if you mil go ! " 

Though Rexford was in too exalted a state of mind 
to perceive that Morty's friendliness was not shared 
by Katherine's cousin, now mounting guard at the 
tea-table, still he did not fancy seeing him and half a 
dozen of the unemployed rich keeping him from her ; 
so presently he took his leave. 

" Of course," said Miss Lavender to Archibald Pun 
dit, " that young man is out of the question, matrimo 
nially. I have given that hint to my girls, in case 
they meet him anywhere. The fact that he has noth 
ing forces me, in spite of my respect for Lord and 
Lady Mellon, to frown on on such goings on as have 
been hinted to me. If he had De Vaurien's rank or 
Royall Worcester's money it would be different. A 
few eccentricities might easily be overlooked. But 
as it is" 

" My dear lady," Mr. Pundit answered, with a pon 
derous sigh, "I am afraid you are right. I have 
written his mother to the effect that I have been able 
to do nothing as regards Miss van Krippen, don't you 



102 THE METROPOLITANS 

know. In fact, I hardly ever see him now, and I fear 
that if his dissipation and low associations continue, 
society will have to cut him entirely, you understand." 
He drew his portly figure up and straightened his 
shoulders to show how society looked at times. 

" Miss van Krippen," said Miss Lavender, " is quite 
young yet, and until her parents approve, no match 
will be arranged positively for her. My girls are 
brought up, you know, quite on the European plan. 
No reckless, ill-regulated American independence. 
They are, I flatter myself, better guarded and chap 
eroned than any in New York. They have hardly a 
thought without my supervision." 

Archibald Pundit's eyes gleamed as he reflected how 
handsomely this watchfulness at Franklin Hall was 
paid for. Their tea-cups drew closer together as their 
voices sank to a confidential undertone. 

The weeks following this were a rush of work and 
excitement to Rexford. He furnished only musical 
reviews to the "Argus" now, the rest of his time 
being given to composing, polishing, altering, trans 
posing melodies and harmonies, as the words and situ 
ations in "Zora" necessitated. Jenkins, though a 
melomaniac himself, threatened to leave " Simla " per 
manently. "After all, however," he relented, "it is, 
to quote the famous Frenchman, a not disagreeable 
noise ; and you would fail if I left you, for I know I 
am your inspiration." He was more or less useful as 
a lay-figure, to be hustled and poked into corners as 
points in the play needed illustration, or to hum an 
occasional falsetto in the part of the cold and haughty 
soprano. The kindly fellow was as eager for Eex- 



THE METROPOLITANS 103 

ford's success as could be, and when the work was 
finally in a friendly manager's hands, he was secretly 
as anxious for good news as the collaborators them 
selves. 

And if in all this hurry and pressure and absorption 
the hours with Katherine were few, they were all the 
sweeter, and their infrequency was generously over 
looked by her for the cause. It was to her that the 
tidings of an acceptance first came, the note buried 
in flowers; and her congratulations were the first he 
received. "Now, dear, my life, my love," he wrote, 
"if it only proves a success, I can tell your father 
boldly that I am able to take care of the dearest and 
sweetest" and all the rest of the lover's little phrases. 
Her heart sang within her, and when they dined out 
that night, she smiled with equal indulgence on Morty's 
little stories and her cousin's devotion, and even Mr. 
Pundit's struggles when he stuck on " conversation's 
burs." It was over the coffee that some one mentioned 
the forthcoming opera by Rexford and Peurose. 

" Penrose ! " repeated Mr. Pundit, contemptuously, 
" that 's natural enough. But for Allan Rexford son 
of one of ourselves, don't you know to run to music, 
in company with that sort of person ! It quite stupe 
fies me, don't you understand." 

" Oh, is it that, Mr. Pundit ? " Katherine asked, with 
dangerous sweetness. "I did not know the cause. 
And why should he not?" 

" To please his friends, a little song now and then, 
very well, don't you perceive. But not for money" 

" There are so many easier and meaner things he 
may do for money," Katherine began, with a fire which 



104 THE METROPOLITANS 

made her father look at her in mild surprise. Some 
of the younger men fell to discussing the probable 
dramatis personee to be selected by Menu, the mana 
ger, and the authors. 

" Only one I 've heard of," drawled Crowne Derby, 
" is Jasmin a." 

" It is n't a ballet, my dear fellow." 

"N-no. Dancing enough in it, though, I hear. 
Principal part 's a contralto or mezzo-soprano. Didn't 
even know she sang, 'pon my honor." 

"Rexford did, evidently," said Royall Worcester. 
The u miching mallecho " of this remark was not lost 
on Katherine, who listened, however, with a lady's 
trained calmness. 

"What you don't know, my dear fellow," chirped 
Morty, with cheerful impertinence, "would fill vol 
umes." He was aware that Crowne Derby as well as 
himself had failed to find favor in Jasmina's lovely 
eyes. 

If, after the women had withdrawn, the men's talk 
over their wine was quite damnatory in its entire 
tolerance of Rexford's late reckless and daring follies, 
most of them apocryphal, Morty's friendly and uneasy 
protests and Crofton's fastidious withdrawal with his 
uncle from the conversation made very little differ 
ence. 

It made very little difference, Rexford himself would 
have thought, as he went hither and thither and inter 
viewed manager and underlings, and arranged and 
rearranged scores, and approved or objected to those 
assigned to certain roles, and attended rehearsals, and 
had his soul vexed within him by stupidities and ob- 



THE METROPOLITANS 105 

stinacies and delays and disappointments innumerable. 
The only one who gave him no trouble, whose part 
fitted her as though it were herself, who sang perfectly 
without any apparent practice, who danced as no one 
else could, who seemed almost to carry the opera 
through triumphantly by herself, was Jasmina. And 
he would never have thought of her if Penrose had not 
said negligently : 

" You will find Zom's part difficult to fill. She must 
dance as well as she sings. If Jasmina were willing, 
now ; you have heard her hum a little, but perhaps you 
do not know she is a graduate of the Paris Conserva 
tory, and did not go on the operatic stage simply be 
cause she has a wild fancy for only singing when she 
chooses like a bird, she says." 

It came into Rexford's mind to wonder, as several 
times before, when Penrose, in his vagrant career, had 
come across Jasmina ; but that was not his present 
concern, which was to find a Zora satisfactory to M. 
Menu and himself. 

" But, certainly," she said, " I will be Zora if I can. 
I must have a part in your success." 

" But your contract with the manager of the Rose- 
montf" 

" That is nothing " (gaily) ; " I will break it. I have 
done that before. It is only a money forfeit." 

He had no further scruples after seeing her in the 
part. She was the pivot on which all turned. And 
besides, meeting her at the daily rehearsals, what more 
natural than that he should drop in at her pretty 
apartment afternoon or evening, to consult, to advise, 
to talk over this or that connected with the affair of 



106 THE METROPOLITANS 

paramount interest? She had a gift for soothing, 
encouraging, cheering, beyond, he thought, and re 
proached himself for thinking, any woman he knew. 

" Jasmiua," said Penrose, casually, " is, I need hardly 
say, no ordinary variety actress ; with youth, beauty, 
fascination, and her profession hardly ever goes such 
savage rectitude as hers. When merely a child she 
was married to a sort of brute ; but in a short while 
the man one of her own people died. I do not 
know " (slowly) " that the code of her race, morally, is 
high; but she is untamable as a wild lark, and has 
never cared for any one before." 

Rexford did not remark this "before"; he was 
humming under his breath a passage which did not 
quite go to please him. In the mean time his name, 
neglected in brilliant circles for a while, was once 
more a topic of interest in clubs. Various pranks of 
the utmost recklessness were attributed to him. While 
Mr. Pundit frowned and Cornelius de Mansur looked 
grave, and club-men jested and dandies admired, 
Katherine was forced in many a great lady's room to 
listen to a thousand stories which derived their pic- 
turesqueness mainly from the fact of truth's abashed 
withdrawal to her well. When she hinted to her lover 
that he was ill spoken of, he only laughed. " Dearest 
love," he protested lightly, "what do these people 
matter to us ? I am no such roaring, ranting blade. 
All my world is full of melody just now." He wished 
to speak to her father after the hoped-for success. 
And the latter, after securing, as a sort of duty to an 
old friend's son, a box for the first night of "Zora," 
commented thus : 



THE METROPOLITANS 107 

"I hope the young man's artistic career may be 
prosperous, I am sure ; but I am glad you have taken 
my suggestion, and that he comes but seldom now. 
The sooner we sever the acquaintance the better." 

"Papa, you you did not use to listen to scandal. 
I I like Mr. Rexford." 

" My information about him seemed reliable," said 
the old man ; but he spoke wearily and with a certain 
lack of interest which made a new anxiety check the 
rush of words to his daughter's lips. Cornelius's 
strength had seemed suddenly to lessen lately, per 
haps from persistent burrowing in dark, ill- ventilated 
library rooms. Katherine teased him lovingly about 
not using the remedies of air and exercise which he 
urged on others, and the doctor ordered gentle horse 
back riding. But, with some jesting excuse as to his 
claim to the title of " Old-Man- Afraid-of-his-Horse," 
he drifted on from day to day in his long-settled habits. 




VEN the society maids and matrons who 
had cherished a double grudge against 
Rexford first, that he should, though 
innocently, have so suddenly lost prestige 
as a matrimonial prize; next, that he 
should have carelessly dropped them before they had 
a chance to drop him felt a keenly curious interest 
in " Allan Rexf ord's opera." Of his songs old rhymes 
set to melodious strains several were already much 
liked among music-lovers ; and his " Go, Lovely Rose," 
especially was widely popular. Hosts of his parents' 
friends came, even from semi-retirement, to judge of 
his work ; old acquaintances of his own dropped in by 
scores ; club-men galore, whose recent much-relished 
stories of his wild excesses and extravagances were a 
distinct advertisement, in their way. When to these 
were added the usual first-nighters, the critics, the 
general public, wrought up to intense anticipatory in 
terest by judicious manipulation of the " Argus " and 
other allied powers, a house greeted the raising of the 
curtain on the first act of " Zora " which, in point of 
numbers, was encouraging to behold. The composer 
sat well out of sight, in a proscenium-box, with curtains 
half drawn, and with him Penrose, whose perfect cool- 

108 



THE METROPOLITANS 109 

ness contrasted with his own repressed excitement. 
The first scene showed the pains, never spared in 
modern days, to secure an exact reproduction of the 
picturesque mountain village. The overture and open 
ing chorus of villagers had been received with an ac 
claim which sounded perfunctory; the duo between 
the rich farmer and Zom's father with something like 
apathy or so it seemed to the author, to whom Pen- 
rose's confidence should have been reassuring, as well 
as the buoyant hopefulness of Jenkins, who sat with 
them by special request of Rexf ord, and was immensely 
pleased at the compliment. 

" I wish they 'd quit that harmonious wrangling," 
the latter said, " and let Zora come on." 

Peurose said nothing, being busy surveying the 
house unconcernedly through his glass. He noted the 
crowds of gilded youth, some of whom requested ad 
mission to their box, which the ushers were strictly 
directed to refuse. He had seen Miss de Mansur be 
fore Rexf ord perceived her, surrounded by father and 
friends ; he had even remarked a blond foreigner near 
the De Mansur box, who looked often at Miss van 
Krippen and whose face somehow seemed familiar, 
though he did not_connect him with the famous res 
taurant. Mortimer had obtained from Miss Lavender 
permission for Angelica's presence, "though a little 
irregular before her coming out," on the principal's 
being told that De Vaurien and Mauvais Sujet would 
also be there. Among the literary and artistic sets 
Penrose's glance found numbers known to him pro 
fessionally; for of social life outside the Chimes 
this busy, absorbed man permitted himself little. It 



110 THE METEOPOLITANS 

rested longest, however, returning again and again, 
upon Katherine, whose shining brown eyes and deli 
cate tints showed nothing of the eager interest she felt. 

" These daughters of the gods," he thought, " they 
are so fair. But have they hearts? Now, nry poor 
Jasmina ! " There was a sudden clash of cymbals. 

" There goes that minor. She 7 s coming ! " muttered 
Jenkins. And slowly, out from the dusk shades of 
the forest where she had been straying with the min 
strel lover, came Zora, a glowing vision. 

Even to Rexf ord, who knew her beauty, this seemed 
something new. Guessing the cause of her father's 
difference with the rich villager, she advances, glides 
from recitation into song, argues, persuades, entreats, 
cajoles. The first outbreak of spontaneous applause 
shook the house, and was stilled again as she and 
the farmer sang together, with occasional foreboding 
strains from Manuel, already jealous. Then, with a 
passionate glance for him, and waving her graceful 
arms to all, "Come," she sings, "we celebrate the treaty. 
Are we not all Hungarians? A czardas come !" 
Night has crept on, the camp-fires are lit, old crones 
hang the pots over the blaze ; but a space is cleared, 
the depths of the forest are lit up with torches kindled 
at the glowing embers, and the swarthy musicians of 
the tribe group themselves at one side, with cymbals 
and tambourines. " Come ! " cries Zora, marking time 
with her castanets. They dance the czardas to a 
measure of broken, barbaric rhythm and wild melody, 
slow to dreaminess at first. 

" That is fine, very fine," said Penrose ; " that air 'a 
an inspiration." 



THE METROPOLITANS 111 

Rexford himself leaned forward with quickened 
pulse as Zora bent and swayed to the music, which 
went fast and faster and still faster, to giddiness. 

" If they don't rise to that ! " said Jenkins. But 
they did, almost literally. The silence which held 
them during the first fascinating bars gave way to 
tumultuous admiration of the odd, bewildering Gipsy 
melody. Before the last note sounded roars of applause 
went up, echoed and reechoed. It must be played, it 
must be danced, every b^r, again. Rexford leaned 
back, contented. Penrose said quietly, "We 're all 
right now." Jenkins beat time softly on the cushioned 
ledge, a broad grin expanding his features. From 
that time there was hardly a moment's surcease of 
enthusiasm. Through the scene of the great lady's 
advances to Manuel, his serenade under the castle 
wall, the tuneful duets of love and jealousy, Gipsy 
dances, and Zortfs fortune-telling, the father and rich 
rival's plotting, the joyful trumpet tones of the wed 
ding music, and the plaintive strains of the tragic 
end, went outbursts of appreciation. Zora and the 
tenor were recalled again and again after each scene, 
and showered with tribute blossoms. When the cur 
tain went down finally, there were loud cries of " Au 
thor ! author ! " The manager came bustling in to 
know why no one responded, but found only Penrose, 
who positively refused to do more than bow from the 
front of the box. " Rexford ! Rexford ! " the cry in 
creased in volume. He had stepped round to the 
wings for a moment to thank Jasmina for her share 
in his success. Her eyes glowed under their dark 
fringes ; she held, of all her flowers, only the bunch 



112 THE METROPOLITANS 

of red roses he had sent her. " Come on ! come on ! " 
cried M. Menu ; " don't you hear them ? " She took 
his hand in her little brown one, and drew Mm on 
before the lights until they stood there together. 

" A deuced handsome pair," said Royall Worcester, 
in the De Mansur box. 

"A perfectly lovely opera," chattered Angelica, 
mechanically, intent on seeing what had become of 
Federling. Their party moved slowly outward, and 
Katherine heard some one in the throng remark, " The 
little dancer 's bound in decency to help him with his 
opera, if it 's only to pay back what she wins from 
him every night at roulette." 

And Jasmina, in her dressing-room, was talking to 
Penrose and Rexf ord. " It is a success ! " she kept 
repeating exultantly. She laid both hands on the 
younger man's shoulders. " Thank you so much for 
letting me sing dance the beautiful part! I am 
wild, intoxicated ! I shall not sleep for a week ! You 
will both come to supper? for us to congratulate 
each other." 

" Certainly," Rexford replied, radiant. " I will follow 
you." He ran round to the front entrance ; he hoped 
for a word with Katherine, but she was gone, and his 
triumph lacked the one little touch which most earthly 
triumphs do to make them happiness. 

When Cornelius de Mansur and his daughter reached 
home that night he drew her into the library, where 
only a shaded lamp still burned and the open fire sent 
a rosy glow about. 

" I was glad of to-night's success," he said thought 
fully ; " work may still be that young fellow's salvation 



THE METROPOLITANS 113 

and I was fond of his father. I am not very harsh, 
I hope " (gently stroking her head at his knee), " but 
there is too much leniency shown to what they euphe 
mistically call the sowing of wild oats. There is high 
authority for saying, ' Be not deceived ; what things a 
man shall sow, those also shall he reap ' ! " 

" But we need not believe all we hear," said Kathe- 
rine, " and every one is entitled to his defense." She 
had risen, and stood with an arm around his neck; 
then added bravely, despite a sudden vision presenting 
itself of her lover standing at the footlights beside that 
beautiful creature, " You will give Mr. Rexf ord a hear 
ing when he comes to you, papa ? " 

He looked up at her, mystified, and she saw that his 
face was drawn and weary. " I wish you would get 
me a glass of wine," he said, in a tired way. She went 
quickly and brought him this refreshment. He sipped 
it absently. " What was it I was saying ? Oh, yes ; 
I like the rest of that : ' And in doing good let us not 
fail : for in due time we shall reap, not failing.' Go 
to bed now, my darling ; it is late, and I still have a 
note to write." 

After a tender good night she turned at the door 
to look again at his beloved gray head bending over 
the writing-table. Here was affection, sure, unselfish, 
lavish, hers beyond a doubt hers since she could re 
member, with no shadow of uncertainty or misgiving. 
She could not resist turning back to give him another 
embrace. He smiled up at her. His color was 
brighter, the wine having dispelled the look of ex 
haustion which had before distressed her; and she 
went away, hoping all things of the morrow. 



114 THE METROPOLITANS 

And, while the first sparrows were twittering on the 
bare boughs of the trees in the square and slanting 
sun-rays gilded the steeple of St. George's, a maid with 
frightened face came knocking at her door ; the butler 
must see her immediately. In wrapper and slippers 
she confronted him, with the group of domestics hud 
dled about him in the upper hall. The old man ex 
plained, as well as his stammering tongue would let 
him, that his master was ill very ill. When he had 
gone, as usual, to open the library, he had stumbled 
over Mr. de Mansur's prostrate form between the fire 
place and writing-desk, where he must have lain all 
night. They had carried him to his room, and the 
doctor was sent for ; " and, dear Miss Katherine " (as 
she would have hurried past him), " he will not know 
you." 

He did not know her or any one, but lay breathing 
heavily. The doctor's face held no encouragement 
after his careful examination. " He may recover con 
sciousness," he said, " after a while." In view of which 
event a priest of the church of which Cornelius de 
Mansur was a devoted adherent was at his side when 
his eyelids were first raised to show awakening intel 
ligence. A little while with him, the last rites admin 
istered, and the gentle old man whispered brokenly to 
his darling, "My Katherine be good, as you have 
been, and I leave you in His care ;" then lapsed into 
a silence henceforth unbroken. The letter which he 
had sat up to write was to Reginald Crofton's mother, 
his only sister, written, in view of his late uncertain 
health, to commend his child to her tenderness. She 
was at a distance, but came hurrying by train when 



THE METROPOLITANS 115 

he was gone. Her son was here, but could not see 
Katherine yet awhile ; no one could see her not even 
Allan Rexford, shocked unspeakably by the news 
awaiting him at her threshold when he presented him 
self there. It was much later than he had meant to 
come, but one does not bring out a first opera every 
night ; not every night, either, was Jasmina just so 
proudly joyful. Then, though she had always the 
voice of scandal notwithstanding withheld him, with 
a thousand pretty arts, from roulette, this night she 
laughingly challenged him to try his luck, saying that 
fortune smiled upon him. It seemed so, for, with her 
at his elbow, he won and won again ; and it was quite 
morning before he turned in to his room ; the newsboys 
were already shouting, his name was prominently dis 
played in the papers, and his opera was soon a topic 
at hundreds of breakfast-tables. And it was at about 
this hour that Cornelius de Mansur's man, horror- 
struck, was gently raising the unconscious gray head 
of his master. 

Rexford called, morning and afternoon, for three or 
four days after this, at the closed De Mansur house ; 
to have his flowers taken by servants ; to suffer a pang 
of envy in seeing Reginald Crofton performing all 
needful offices as the dead man's son ; to leave a note 
of passionate sympathy for Katherine, passed into the 
darkened room where she and Sorrow sat, answered 
by a faint, penciled line: "I cannot answer. You 
must wait." Learning that the interment was delayed 
some days for the expected arrival of Mrs. Crofton, he 
arranged with Penrose to run over to a neighboring 
city to arrange for the production of "Zora" there; 



116 THE METROPOLITANS 

aud, the manager detaining him for one reason or an 
other, ill fate decreed that the funeral took place before 
his return. On a very cold, clear, bright day the shell 
of Cornelius de Mansur, from which the animula, va- 
gula, llandula had flown, was laid away with the ele 
ments to which it belonged. And the honor, love, and 
troops of friends which should accompany old age went 
with him so far, but could not go one step farther. 
And religion, in the person of her white-robed priest, 
stood near him, believing and hoping all things, but 
humbly confessing that from this side of the grave 
she saw but through a glass, darkly. And the poor 
and the aged and the friendless to whom he had been 
a friend stood about and prayed with tears that in 
that hereafter in which would be no sun nor moon nor 
stars there would also be no pang of severed hearts, 
nor the bitterness of disillusions or disappointed hopes 
from which the dead, being human, must have suffered. 
And Penrose's set f eatures confessed nothing of fulfilled 
desires, nor yet of failures, as he noted the absence of 
the slim figure of the dead man's daughter ; and, again, 
the striking contrast with the character of the scene 
which his nephew's stalwart form made, the very in 
carnation of strength and life and vigorous young 
manhood, standing by the grave with uncovered head, 
while the cold wind blew the thick- waved locks about 
his bronzed forehead. 

And Katherine, at home, endured her first stroke 
from him who has been called the best of man's 
friends. But he wears a grisly front and tears asun 
der with relentless hand those who would fain cling 
together a little longer, and it is easy to mistake him 



THE METROPOLITANS 117 

for a cruel enemy. Of the one who should have stayed 
her sinking spirit there was no present sign or token. 
For her aunt, in affectionate attempt to screen the 
suffering girl, mentioned no visitors' names to her, 
receiving all herself j and likewise answered all notes 
and letters now. Among these was one from Archi 
bald Pundit, absent when his friend was taken : 

" The vacation which I needed sorely from the strain 
of constant social leadership has been restful and most 
interesting. But the intelligence of the death of Cor 
nelius de Mansur, devoted father, polished gentleman, 
and trusted friend, comes to me with a thrilling ten 
derness, and has saddened my heart. Beloved by 
every one for his manly virtues, as well as for the 
noblest graces of head and heart, his loss to society is 
irreparable. In his death has society sustained its 
first decisive blow this winter. Always on the right 
side, he aided, by his conservatism, to still the angry 
waters of debate, thus imparting strength and dignity 
to argument. It will be long before we look upon his 
like again. I am pained beyond expression at my en 
forced absence from New York at such a time. What 
a denial not to have had the mournful privilege of 
joining hands with you at his open grave, and min 
gling my tears, hot tears, with yours at that sacred spot ! 
A mysterious Providence has willed otherwise, yet He 
doeth all things well. I trust, however, to be with 
you ere long, and then in fitting terms to speak to 
you of the merit of my treasured friend in a way that 
my overburdened heart will not permit now. In all 
sincerity and esteem, I beg leave to remain, yours de 
votedly." 



118 THE METROPOLITANS 

"He means well," said Mrs. Crofton to her son, 
" but until our Katherine is stronger I am glad to save 
her from these letters." 

"It is very kind in him to patronize Providence," 
said Reginald, dryly, who did not admire Mr. Pundit, 
" but he is a platitudinous ass, all the same." Which 
opinion, as we know, was shared by Miss van Krip- 
pen and others. The young man was not as much 
softened as his mother by their common grief. When 
she commented on the sincere feeling shown by young 
Rexford at his call, when only she had seen him, he 
remarked that Mr. Rexford had absented himself from 
the funeral of his father's friend, and that, since his 
disappointment about his father's fortune, he had 
rather taken to wildness and kept all sorts of company 
and hours, and was an undesirable visitor. He was 
exceptional himself in withstanding the temptation 
which wealth and leisure bring with them, devoting 
much time and money to scientific research and ex 
ploration; but this superiority had the unfortunate 
effect of making him harsh in judgment. He would 
gladly, in going from Jerusalem to Jericho, have paid 
the wounded man's bill at the inn ; but he would not 
himself have tended him, for fear the wounds had 
been received in some discreditable affray. 

When, after a month's seclusion, Katherine came 
out into the family circle so different, alas ! and yet 
with echoes everywhere of the dear lost voice telling 
her to lift up her eyes and live her life, as she must, 
courageously he strove, with his mother, to interest 
her. But he talked mainly, and well, of travel by 
land and sea, and not of the matter nearer home of 



THE METEOPOLITANS 119 

which she longed to hear. He did once mention, 
with a slight lifting of the brow, the marvelous popu 
larity of " Zora," and that Rexford had been, on such 
a date, to arrange for its production elsewhere. And 
it came to Katherine, with a shock, that that was the 
time of her father's funeral. 




XI 



iHEN Penrose first came to New York he 
had chanced into a stationer and en 
graver's in Sixth Avenue to have some 
repairing done. It was not a large 
shop, but handsome and tasteful in all 
its appointments, and the proprietor, an elderly man 
with fine and delicate features, old-fashioned courtesy 
of manner, and a pleasant old-world bur in his speech 
that appealed favorably to the Welshman, served him 
in person. The order filled, Penrose would have 
thought of it no more, but, happening to be in that 
quarter a year or two later and needing more of the 
same work, he looked for the sign and missed it. 
Trusting to an excellent memory for locality, he went 
in where he thought the engraver had been ; and, be 
hold, he was still there, but with his sign in a quiet 
corner, and a bookseller's name and wares occupying 
the space which had formerly been his. He came 
forward with just the same manner and gentle sim 
plicity as of old ; but his delicate features and frame 
were thinner, and his clothing, though scrupulously 
neat, bore marks of long and conscientious brushing. 
There was a certain patient dignity in his quietude 
which would have curbed a stranger's curiosity; but 

120 



THE METEOPOLITANS 121 

when out again on the sidewalk Penrose, an experi 
enced observer, thought, " Ah, I know that look; it is 
written all over him. The hurts which weaklings get 
under the juggernaut wheels of a great city are not so 
deep as a well, nor so wide as a church door, but they 
serve ; they are slight, but daily. The old fellow has 
commenced th&tfaciUs descensus which leads to the 
poorhouse or hospital unless the cemetery claims 
him first." 

He might have applauded his own perception if he 
had cared to, some three years later, when he went 
into the same place and asked for Becker. " Becker ? " 
repeated the fat little man, bustling about. "Don't 
know such a person. Oh, yes ; let 7 s see ; the old en 
graver used to stay here long ago. Ask three doors 
above." And three doors above they sent him down 
the steps in front into a basement, where the old man 
now occupied a tiny corner. He was much bent, and 
shuffled in his walk, but that might have been from 
advancing years. His slippers were frayed and broken, 
his clothes quite green now with age, and there were 
many patches, a very large one of different stuff show 
ing on the left elbow of his coat. He was as quietly 
polite as ever, a curious pathetic tone sounding in his 
gentle voice ; but he made no ostensible appeal against 
the hard conditions of a life which shoves the feeble 
to the wall. He thanked Penrose for an order, and 
was just a trifle confused when the latter noticed let 
ter-boxes fixed to the wall above and alphabetically 
labeled. " A little sort of private post-office," he ex 
plained ; " people bring their letters and leave them 
until called for. It brings a trifle of rent ; and times 



122 THE METROPOLITANS 

are so hard, and business dull. I ask no questions, 
but I hope " (with a faint flush) " I am not helping on 
burglaries or things of the sort." He had misunder 
stood Penrose's smile, who had been merely thinking 
that this would be convenient for Jasmina. Only 
yesterday she had told him, with charming pettish- 
ness, " I am sure Marie opens my notes and letters ; 
they come before I am awake always." 

So now he told her of Becker, where she might leave 
or call for notes herself when out driving, or taking 
the long daily ramble alone which was the delight of 
this child of the plains and the forest. And this gave 
Penrose an excuse for occasional descents on the old 
engraver, whom he had vowed to rescue before the 
last stage. "Not," he declared to himself, cynically, 
"that I care a straw, but just for the pleasure of 
cheating the old hag who plays Atropos for him." 
He found a note awaiting him one morning in his 
pigeonhole at Becker's, which said: "Come to me, 
Stephen. I am so very unhappy. Your JASMINA." 
He did what he would have done for no one else 
put aside all other engagements and went to her pretty 
rooms, where he found her trailing her long, silken, 
clinging skirts up and down the floor, the loose knot 
of her dusk hair falling low on her neck. " Stephen, 
Stephen," she said, in an agitated whisper, both 
hands on his shoulders, "is it true? Tell me, is it 
true?" 

" What is it you wish to hear, Jasmina ? " 
" You know you know, I shall die if he does not 
love me ! And a man last night, when he was not 
here, said something of an affair, an attachment once 



THE METROPOLITANS 123 

talked of. I wanted to strike him ! But I was your 
good Jasmina. I clenched my fingers into my palms 
and just listened. How dared they say it ! It is not 
true. You will tell me, Stephen. You will know; 
you will help me." 

He looked at her glowing, tremulous face very ten 
derly, led her to a low chair, stroked her hair sooth 
ingly. " Be quiet, Jasmina. I cannot tell you surely ; 
there are things a man does not always confide to his 
nearest friend. But we are together much of our time ; 
I would probably have known something of it. There 
was a girl of his own class whom he did admire. He 
has not spoken of her lately ; did not even make an 
effort to attend her father's funeral. It was when he 
was called Prince Fortunatus; things have changed 
since then." A fleeting remembrance of Katherine's 
fine, spiritual face rebuked him. " At any rate, if for 
tune smiles on him now it is with Zora's features." 

But the excited creature beside him had caught at 
one phrase. "Of his own class! Stephen Stephen 
would that hinder ? He is one of us now, and there 
is nothing in my past to bar ! For Anton's death- 
was I to blame! You know none so well oh ! for 
give me " 

His face had not changed in the least. " You need 
not say a word, Jasmina. Whatever I have done for 
you I would do again to-morrow. What you desire 
now you shall have if I can help you. But, remem 
ber, we are in another country, among other people." 

" Tell me, who was that woman of his own class ? " 

" What does it matter, if it is all off now ? Her 
name is Miss de Mansur. She is tall and fair." 



124 THE METROPOLITANS 

"Ouf ! like a white camellia, cold and colorless. 
No fragrance no spirit no heart no life ! " 

He did not answer. "Miss de Mansur," she re 
peated. 

"Do not trouble your little head any more." He 
touched the dark waves caressingly. " Zora had bet 
ter have a refreshing sleep, to be ready for all that 
will happen to her in the play." He half smiled, going 
out from her luxurious surroundings, with their Ori 
ental air and perfume of sandalwood, into the New 
York streets. " The child is a care to me," he thought, 
u but even her passionate, untamed nature might find 
something conventionally sobering in these formal, 
ugly streets. In her own forests, now" A vision 
flashed on him of swarthy, low-browed men, angry 
and muttering together, their knives drawn. His 
forehead contracted. " I fancy she is all right here." 
As soon as he left she had sent her maid for a direc 
tory, had copied an address on a card, slipped it into 
her case, and, assuming her quietest street-dress, had 
then gone out alone. 

When Katherine, remembering wistfully her father's 
simple rules of right living, began gathering up the 
loosened threads of her life, she thought, with an in 
expressible pang, "I am free now to do as I like. 
There is no one whose approval I must seek." And 
then she knew that it was not only her father's mis 
givings which had weighed on her in this matter of 
Eexford ; they had but distracted her from her own 
doubts. The evening of the masquerade came back 
to her ; Mr. Pundit's whispers j the disturbing vision 
of that lovely woman beside him again ; the voice in 



THE METROPOLITANS 125 

the crowd ; his seeming want of sympathy in her grief, 
aiid his absence at first for she had not been told 
how often he called, and could not ask of him with 
out exciting wonder. But hers was too proud a na 
ture to give room long to suspicion. "We must at 
least give him a hearing," she said, as though still 
speaking to her father. And Rexford had the few 
lines without which Penrose's companionship and 
the theater's plaudits and Jenkins's chaff and Jasmi- 
na's smiles had alike been as sounding brass. "I 
will see you," she wrote, " this afternoon." But before 
the time appointed another visitor was announced. 
" A lady, who did not give her name," the man said. 

" TeU my aunt." 

" Mrs. Crofton is out, Miss de Mansur." 

She sighed, but it was perhaps one of the committee 
on this or that charity, and she had begun to interest 
herself again in this duty. She would not stay long. 
"To see you particularly," the man added; "some 
thing important." 

She went languidly down to where her caller waited, 
her slim figure looking taller for the somber draperies 
trailing after her. Her visitor was also young and 
graceful, and clad in black likewise; but a black 
which, in cut and style, spoke not of bereavement, 
but of the pride and joy of life. She rose, bowed 
slightly in a manner altogether foreign, and reseated 
herself. Katherine's various interests brought her in 
contact with many strangers, and now she was too 
forlornly incurious to wonder who her visitor might 
be. For a few moments the caller was quite silent; 
then Katherine broke the stillness : " I beg your par- 



126 THE METROPOLITANS 

don. I was told you wished to see me, but I did not 
hear your name." 

Jasmina's flashing glance had been noting the pure, 
proud outlines of the head and face in their dark set 
ting, the paling of tints, and the desolate expression, 
and she was thinking exultantly, " Just as I said ! 
No warmth no life ! An iceberg cold hard ! " 
Just at that moment Katherine's eye, growing ac 
customed to the half -darkness of the room, recognized 
the dancer with a sudden shock of surprise. 

" My name," said Jasmina, " is Madame Vaskar6s." 
There was again a pregnant silence of a few mo 
ments. " I do not call on many ladies here," she went 
on ; "I have no time from my art ; I have no wish." 
She spoke slowly, her accent marking how carefully 
she chose her words. "If I take your time now, 
mademoiselle, it is only for a short while a moment 
if, of your kindness, you answer a question. My 
friends come to me sometimes. One of them is Mr. 
Raixfore. It is of him I will ask you." 

Katherine said not a word, nor moved ; only one 
hand tightened over the other until the rings pressed 
deep into the white flesh. 

" I am perhaps you know the Zora of his opera. 
He is an artist, but I have heard that he has ties in 
the great world, not the world of art ; ties that would 
kill his art. I do not believe what they say, now 
less than ever" (her scarlet lip curled, showing a 
gleam of teeth)," but thought I would ask you." 

" Ask me! " Katherine's voice sounded unnatural 
in her own ears. 

" It was your name they mentioned." 



THE METROPOLITANS 127 

" Oh ! " said Katherine, rising to her feet. The 
dancer rose too and took a few steps nearer the win 
dow, from which a glancing light disclosed the eager, 
dusky eyes and warmly tinted, mobile features. The 
pride that spoke in the other girl's silent look stung 
Jasmina for the first time out of the studied quiet she 
had so far maintained. 

"Mademoiselle would know, doubtless," she said 
mockingly, " how I have right to ask questions ! He 
is my very dear, good friend. He has other good 
friends who love and admire him. We would be 
sorry to hand him over to those who pick him up and 
put him down as fortune favors and unfavors ! " In 
the continued shock of an event which her senses 
hardly persuaded her to believe, Katherine wore on 
her fair features the look of a young St. Michael con 
fronting the power of evil. "Mademoiselle," con 
tinued the Hungarian, " will then say nothing ! " 

" Nothing," she answered clearly ; " it is humiliation 
enough that my name should have been mentioned in 
your rooms." A rush of crimson surged over Jasmina's 
cheeks and little ears; her eyes flashed, but she re 
strained herself. She picked up the little wrap, thrown 
on a chair-back, and put it about her graceful shoulders, 
while Katherine, with cold fingers, touched the bell 
mechanically. "I have found here, then, no news, 
mademoiselle. The woman he loves will have pride 
and joy to proclaim it. Au plalsir! " She waved her 
hand and followed the footman out. 

When Katherine, with slow steps, mounted the stairs 
to her own room, it was mechanically to do what she 
had fallen into the habit of doing lately that the piteous 



128 THE METROPOLITANS 

signs of grief might not distress others. But the eyes 
were quite dry which she bathed now with perfumed 
water, and she even smiled at herself when pressing 
the towel to them afterward. Indeed, her spirit was 
stung to the point of bewilderment by what she con 
sidered the ineffaceable insult of this unexpected hap 
pening. Joined with what had gone before, the 
whispered rumors that had come to her, her family's 
censure of him, the two occasions when she had seen 
him with Jasmina, his seeming forgetfulness of herself 
in trouble, this last shock made a damning whole. 
"What can he be when a dancer of unknown past 
dares to call him friend to come to Cornelius de 
Mansur's house to question Katherine de Mansur! " 
Her proud head, lowered in the softening of grief, 
reared itself once more. Scorn for a time trampled 
her love underfoot. Her large, shining eyes, fixed on 
her father's portrait, seemed to say, "Perhaps you 
were right." When, in all this exaltation of wounded 
pride, she had finished a note to him, she went, in her 
black robes, to a church, and sat there, her heart like 
a stone, unable even to pray. 

It was well, perhaps, she could not see him mount 
to her door with buoyant step and ardent eyes, his 
mien changing to utter bewilderment at the stolid 
"Not at home, sir." He took the note left for him 
mechanically, and when he had a chance to open it, 
it said : 

" I feel that I have done you an injustice in not 
telling you before that what we spoke of formerly is 
impossible. I had not secured my dear father's ap- 



THE METROPOLITANS 129 

proval, and now I have not even my own. It was all 
a mistake. I feel that we were never suited to each 
other. And, though I wish you all success, I think 
you will agree with me that it is better we should not 
meet again. <4 K. DE M." 

He read it over three or four times in utter amaze 
ment. "What can she mean? It is impossible no 
reason given it sounds like delirium ! " When he 
could collect his senses he replied : 

" I do not understand. I am not used to making 
out enigmas. To throw me over with no cause as 
signedyou, Katherine ! It would be too unworthy. 
If we are not suited to each other now, we once 
thought we were, will you not at least tell me why? 

"A. R." 

She answered : " I had not meant to write again, but 
you force me to say what I did not wish. All that I 
hear of your life and friends proves to me how un- 
suited we are. This must be final." 

" Final ! No, by Heaven ! " declared Rexford to 
himself. " I will see her. She must explain ! " He 
rushed off to her house next afternoon, leaving a musi 
cal critique half done, to be finished in a hurry and 
badly by Jenkins, and was met by James's calm an 
nouncement that Miss de Mansur had gone into the 
country. " Did not know for how long. It was his 
[James's] opinion that Miss Katherine had failed sadly 
since the master's death. The change would do her 
good. Mr. Reginald thought so too." 



130 THE METROPOLITANS 

"Damn Mr. Reginald," Rexford had nearly said, 
though it was not his habit to swear. He felt for the 
moment a savage hatred against those relatives who, 
being near her, seemed a barrier between him and her. 
Even the unconscious James came in, at the moment, 
for a share of his resentment; which that domestic, 
with a secret weakness for Rexford's virile beauty and 
broad shoulders, generously repaid by volunteering 
that " all letters and notes was to be forwarded from 
house, as instructions was sent. No, sir; could n't 
give address, as they '11 be movin' about." 

"Ah, very well," said Rexford, marching off. He 
did, in fact, send to the house in a few days these 
lines : " A lady's word must, I suppose, be accepted as 
final. Yet, as I have failed to see you or obtain an 
explanation, I will say that a faith at the mercy of 
rumor's breath is not invaluable." (He knew nothing 
of Jasmina's visit.) "It is better it should fail me 
now than later, when I might have learned to depend 
utterly upon it. Good-by, then, since you will it so." 

But after this his indignation soon burned itself out 
and left dull embers of pain. 

He worked harder than ever both at the office and 
at home, where he was engaged upon a new opera. 
"Zora," the season's success, was being brought out 
now in distant cities. Jasmina saw him seldomer now, 
though the pretty creature's soft chatter and music 
were as restful to him as stroking a kitten ; but he 
stayed later when he went, and did not always refrain 
from roulette, even at her request. Penrose gave no 
sign that he had quickly remarked his friend's pale and 
haggard looks. He knew that no remonstrance, how- 



THE METROPOLITANS 131 

ever well intended, would prevent a man's overworking 
himself if he so elected. But he studied him quietly, 
and remarked casually, "'Zora' will run for a long 
time yet. There is no hurry for the new thing, even 
if Jenkins does yearn to see his name on a libretto." 
This was one afternoon when Van Krippen had lent 
them his yacht, and, the first prophetic mildness of the 
spring being in the air, they talked, stretched out on 
her deck, while she dived and skimmed and dipped in 
and out of coves and windings of the river like some 
great, white- winged bird uncertain of her mind. Rex- 
ford might have borrowed half a dozen yachts at a 
time if he would, for since " Zora "and Jasmina had 
loomed on the horizon he was more than ever an ob 
ject of envious admiration among young plutocrats. 
But Morty, to do him justice, was a loyal little fellow, 
who stuck to those he liked, successful or not a trait 
inherited from the former miner, John Cripps. 

Rexford pushed back the cap he wore, that the crisp 
breeze might blow refreshingly on his head a little 
hot and feverish. He did not answer, but presently, 
taking the short pipe from his mouth, he said, with a 
laugh, " Did I show you the letter I had from Archi 
bald Pundit ? He could not delay another moment 
the old worldling ! his hearty felicitations, and the 
rest of it, to my father's son, and the pride of my 
mother's heart (I did have a cablegram, you know, 
from Lady Mellon). Pundit regrets, so he writes, not 
to meet me oftener in those hospitable halls which I 
formerly adorned. Somebody told me he said I was 
unfit for them, and a disgrace generally, don't you 
understand, to my family. He says now that Reginald 



132 THE METROPOLITANS 

Crofton and I are two young men of whom New York 
is justly proud. Bah ! what does it matter ? " (with 
another laugh, still drearier. His success, even his 
art, had been to him lately as ashes in the mouth.) " I 
had half a mind to answer the old gentleman, l Shall 
windy words have no end ? Or is it any trouble to 
thee to speak ? ' " 

Penrose appeared not to notice the tone of bitter 
ness. He looked out over the farther banks and over 
hanging clouds, and blew rings of smoke. "I can 
quote from that same old moralist myself : ' One man 
dieth strong and hale, rich and happy ; but another in 
bitterness of soul, without any riches ; and yet they 
shall sleep together in the dust.' Which, after all, is 
poor consolation, while still alive, for meager dinners." 
He noticed the dark shadows under his companion's 
eyes, and remembered, irrelevantly, that some one had 
said that Miss de Mansur had gone away. Then his 
thoughts became subjective again, and took a wide 
leap across the ocean ; and he seemed to see a little 
lad, playing by the side of a Welsh stream, start and 
tremble when a harsh voice called, " Stephen ! " He 
blew another ring of smoke, and went on : "I also 
have had ' empty months,' and have numbered to myself 
' wearisome nights ' ! Let us quit Job now, and his 
eloquently impatient patience, and talk of Jasmina." 

His voice softened, dwelling on her name. 

"How well she sang the first solo in your new 
'Lotus-eaters' at last night's rehearsal! I never 
dreamed that woodland bird could be even so much 
tamed. I can remember her, almost a baby, with little 
face that seemed all eyes, sitting on the ground in a 



THE METROPOLITANS 133 

far Hungarian forest, trilling measures improvised or 
caught up somewhere. She could hardly walk when 
her small feet were flying over the grass in unison 
with castanet or tambourine. Poor child ! a Gipsy 
camp is a rough school, as I know, and she lost her 
mother so soon a kind woman, and intelligent in her 
way. Would you believe it, Rexf ord ? that uneducated 
woman cared for me when we were both deserted, and 
my pinched, childish features must have reminded 
her of one who had cruelly ill treated her. Many 
Christians would have thought it a small matter to 
leave his son, as he had done himself. Well " (sending 
up a great puff of smoke), " when he had gone to his 
account, and I had found my way back to Wales, and 
received no thanks to him my small patrimony, I 
would have helped her; but she had died, and there 
was only Jasmina. She learned to read and write from 
jne, and solely to please me. The foolish child had 
been persuaded into a marriage with one of the tribe 
a brute before I could save her. But he was re 
moved so quickly that he must be but a bad dream 
to her. Then she could be sent to Vienna and Paris 
for music and dancing. She came out on the stage 
there, and now here with success, as you know ; with 
high character and untouched heart, as I know. In 
deed, her charm is so great and her nature so faithful 
that " (very slowly, and with gaze intent on some far- 
off point) " I have sometimes thought the man would 
be fortunate whom she could fancy. With her soft 
adaptability, the part of great lady would fit her well 
if it should come." 
He shook the ashes out of his pipe, and put it in his 



134 THE METEOPOLITANS 

pocket. Rexford had never, even indirectly, sought 
to question the reticent man of his past, but broke 
out now, with a return of impulsiveness, " I had ima 
gined you passing your boyhood in Wales." 

" The earliest part, yes ; but my mother died in my 
babyhood, and my father took me about with him on 
the Continent into all manner of out-of-the-way parts. 
I was a forlorn little chap of only ten when he left 
me, without a word, in Hungary. I never saw him 
again, as he was dead when I made my way back to 
the little Welsh place among the hills. I did not miss 
him ; all I remember of him is, by my troth, some very 
bitter words and a hard blow now and then. The 
sole kindness I ever had was from that poor Gipsy 
woman ; and the Lord do so unto me, and more also 
well, a Gipsy tribe is a mighty interesting one to 
travel with." 

" I believe you. It must have given you valuable 
dots in writing the book of ' Zora.' " 

"Yes," Penrose assented, as though weary of the 
subject. They were nearing shore now, and he was 
listening cynically to the varied blasphemy being ex 
changed between the crew of two coal-barges which 
had nearly run into each other. It did not occur to 
Rexford, who wore a more interested expression now, 
that his friend had broken through a fixed habit of 
reserve for this very purpose and reward. 



XII 

ES!MB:22Si g|P Sit Miss Lavender's, as elsewhere, the 
early spring was making a fitful and 




uncertain appearance, young and most 
untender; for it came over Central 
Park with a nipping east wind, and took 
a spiteful pleasure in coaxing out a stray narcissus or 
snowdrop in sheltered nooks here and there, only to 
blight it again with a sudden sprinkle of snow or 
frosty blast. The east wind seemed also to have 
touched with acidity the lady principal's temper this 
March day, as well as given a tinge of red to her classic 
nose; for she spoke with extreme asperity to her 
coachman on stepping into her coupe, and while she 
was rolled along past some very pleasant glimpses of 
lawn and foliage saw nothing, evidently, but gave 
herself to thought, accompanied by a clouded brow 
and sharp, impatient tapping of thin, gloved finger 
against the glass. 

First of all, Miss Lavender had expected to escape 
this weather in the balmy air of Florida, where friends, 
lounging on the verandas of the great hotels, even now 
expected her. And there that foolish third Miss Goslin 
must make a point of taking the mumps at the fash- 

135 



136 THE METROPOLITANS 

ionable dancing academy her girls attended. Mumps ! 
the very name was plebeian, and seemed intended for 
factory-workers and tenement-houses. What could 
Cudworth have been thinking of to let such a thing 
into his exclusive classes ! If Miss Goslin must be ill, 
and communicate illness to others of the pupils, it 
was just like her, why could she not have pneumonia 
or nervous prostration, or something that would be a 
little less repugnant to speak or write about? How 
make it possible for the chief to take her trip, with the 
chance of the household and staff being attacked ? If 
that elegant Frenchwoman, Madame Bonair, were to 
be depended upon but all she could do in this crisis 
was to shrug her shoulders with a little shriek of hor 
ror, and cry, "Juste ciel! qu'on est affreux, comme 
cela ! Ne m'en parlez plus ! " Fraulein Volmer would 
have taken a sentimental interest in each sufferer if 
admitted to her, and gladly read the "Sorrows of 
Werther " aloud, or otherwise ministered ; but she was 
not very practical. No ; clearly, Miss Lavender must 
remain ; and the Lenten consolations of the Ponce de 
Leon brightened as they took their flight. 

Still, it might have been worse. Her prote'ge's, De 
Vaurien and Mauvais Sujet, had had many opportu 
nities of inspecting this garden of girls before the ser 
pentthe vulgar serpent of mumps had made his 
appearance. She had had the pleasure of transmitting 
to the parents of Miss van Krippen and another Miss 
Kilmansegg formal proposals for the hands of those 
young ladies, and had no doubt of favorable responses. 
She had already written hopefully to the aunt in the 
Faubourg; and various tailors and other tradesmen 



THE METROPOLITANS 137 

of Paris were feeding fat their hopes of getting back 
a little of their money when their illustrious and im 
pecunious patrons should wed American heiresses. 

But Miss Lavender frowned once more, turning over 
the package of letters which had been handed to her 
on leaving. The European plan, on which her girls 
were brought up, included by rights an inspection 
of correspondence, but "one must allow a little for 
American prejudices; after all, it is not a kinder 
garten." So, though surprisingly well acquainted 
with the subject-matter of their letters, she had never 
been actually known to open them. One among 
these, however, she held some time in her hand, turn 
ing it over and over as if undecided. It was in Arch 
ibald Pundit's well-known handwriting, and addressed 
to Miss van Krippen. What could he possibly have 
to write about that he might not first discuss with 
herself! She remembered that, on one or two occa 
sions recently, his attentions had not been exclusively 
her own, as formerly, nor even general ; but that he 
had contrived to sit and talk with Angelica. " A self- 
willed, pert, and troublesome young woman," decided 
Miss Lavender, tartly. " I shall be glad when I get 
her off my hands with eclat." It was on a shopping 
tour that the principal was bound this afternoon ; and 
it was soon concluded ; for her orders, though large, 
were well considered, gave little trouble, and were 
promptly paid. Then the coupe turned through 
Twentieth street and upward along Sixth Avenue, 
and here, to her surprise, coming out from what 
seemed a tiny book-stall in a basement shop, were Miss 
van Krippen and Fraulein Volmer, supposed to be 



138 THE METROPOLITANS 

walking in the Park. It was, in fact, Becker's little 
post-office, where Angelica had just pocketed, after 
reading, a poetic epistle from Otto ; the soft-hearted 
but injudicious fraulein being bribed to countenance 
this by occasional verses addressed to herself, descrip 
tive of the fatherland, the Rhine, edelweiss, first love, 
or such impersonal topics, together with a caress and 
a soft, " Ah, dearest fraulein ! when you were a girl 
did you have a Miss Lavender to freeze you up and 
read your letters ? " The sentimental spinster thought 
of a bursch she had once known, with a long pipe and a 
toy cap perched amid his frowzy hair, who had given 
her a spray of forget-me-nots. She had them, dry and 
pressed, still, and with a sigh she gave in at once ; and 
it must be admitted that she did not, as chaperon, earn 
that fifty cents an hour which went into Miss Laven 
der's exchequer. 

That lady took no notice of her now, but, instantly 
stopping the coupe, drew up beside Angelica, calling 
to her. 

"If you are quite through your shopping, kindly 
get in with me. I will drive you home." 

" There is a cab waiting," said the unabashed An 
gelica. 

" Dismiss it, please." 

" No, thank you " (with a touch of indignation) ; 
" the fraulein is not to go home in a car." She actu 
ally kept Miss Lavender waiting until she .saw Frau 
lein Volmer safely into the cab, with a fee to the driver 
for extra care of the bewildered passenger. 

" May I ask, Miss van Krippen," said Miss Lavender, 
then, " what you are doing so far down-town ? " 



THE METROPOLITANS 139 

"I changed my mind" (sweetly) "about the Park, 
and came for some shopping instead." 

" I would rather you would tell me your exact plans 
when you go out," said the baffled Miss Lavender. 
They were now in Fifth Avenue, which caused her to 
add, " It was my intention to stop at the Provincial 
Matrons' club-room, but I can postpone it, taking this 
opportunity for a little private talk. I think I am 
sure you will be flattered when I tell you that the 
Vicomte de Vaurien made, last week, proposals for 
your hand, which I have already referred to your pa 
rents, knowing that you have received with me the 
polish fitting you for his exalted station. I make no 
doubt they will be delighted with such brilliant pros 
pects." 

" To my parents ! It is mamma, then, whom he 
wishes to commit bigamy ? " 

Miss Lavender was a picture of dignified reproof. 
"You may not have had opportunities for knowing, 
Miss van Krippen, that it is the European custom to 
first approach a young lady's parents on the subject 
of an alliance." 

" But we are American," said Angelica, innocently, 
" and, my dear Miss Lavender, how awkward for him 
to obtain the family blessing, and then have me say 
no!" 

" Do I understand that you could think of declining 
so eligible a match ? " 

"I could think of it easily," replied Angelica, 
dreamily. She was watching through the glass the 
continuous stream of gay and varied pedestrians, with 
whose draperies and hats the wind was playing antics. 



140 THE METEOPOLITANS 

" Is it his uncle, or which of the family, who ill treats 
his wife so shamefully ? But that is not to the point. 
What I was really thinking was, how interesting 
mamma's mail will be this week ! " 

Miss Lavender looked helplessly at her, opened her 
lips and shut them. She knew enough of this pupil 
not to force her hand. She might better consult Mr. 
Pundit as to how to obtain the desired end. Which 
thought reminded her : " Here is a letter for you by 
this afternoon's post." Angelica, permission obtained, 
opened and read the missive; smiled, pretended to 
hesitate, and then tendered it, remarking suavely, " If 
it is good form to refer these matters to authority, 
Miss Lavender, then it must be right to show you 
this." The lady read, with a keen pang of slighted 
vanity, what the erstwhile devoted Archibald had 
written to her pupil. 

" MY DEAR Miss VAN KRIPPEN : So carefully guarded, 
so discreetly chaperoned are the fair wards of the es 
timable and worthy Miss Lavender that I have long 
sought in vain an opportunity of avowing to you 
verbally my great admiration. Thus I am forced to 
indite my sentiments instead. Will you permit me to 
lay at your feet the homage of a heart elderly, it is 
true ; long widowed, alas ! but yearning to give and 
receive warm, earnest, disinterested affection. [Miss 
Lavender's lip curled.] How can I tell you the im 
pression your charms have made on one who, though 
your senior in years, is susceptible of a youthful ardor 
and freshness of feeling unknown to a cold and cal 
culating generation ! and who can offer you I say it 



THE METROPOLITANS 141 

with modest pride his position as an arbiter of fash 
ion, an oracle of good form, in this our city. One 
word from you one glance of encouragement from 
those celestial orbs and I hasten to kneel before you. 
" Your admiring and devoted servant, 
"ARCHIBALD PUNDIT." 

" Can this be the reason, Miss van Krippen this 
this preposterous proposal that you think of declin 
ing the brilliant De Vaurien connection ? " 

"Mr. Pundit," murmured Angelica, casting down 
her eyes, "is an elderly man, certainly; but he is no 
titled foreign adventurer. He is an American born 
and bred, and, as such, comprehensible at least. Know 
ing my early lack of advantages, dear Miss Lavender, 
you can imagine that the restfulness of having such 
an undoubted model of form for a lifelong guide, 
philosopher, and friend might be attractive to an un 
taught creature like myself. But I do not wish to be 
hasty. I have not decided to accept either, but will 
hear arguments on both sides." 

Her preceptress, who knew something of girls, 
looked at her, completely puzzled. But Angelica had 
the amusement of seeing her, after this, mount guard 
herself during Mr. Pundit's visits, when that gentleman 
would fain have discussed in person Miss van Krippen's 
non-committal reply to his note. And her venerable 
suitor gave the girl further sport by his evident dread 
lest Miss Lavender should make premature discovery 
of his defection. She found no sport, however, in the 
redoubling of Miss Lavender's smooth and incessant 
eloquence in behalf of the Vicomte de Vaurieii; nor 



142 THE METROPOLITANS 

in her connivance at what speedily became a persecu 
tion on the part of the young French roue, whose debts 
were pressing. Fraulein Volmer was surprised one 
day by Angelica's bursting out vehemently, " I am just 
tired of it ! I wish Katherine would come back ! Of 
course I have you, you kind, soft thing" (embracing 
her), "but I need my Katherine." It was that very 
day she slipped out, took a cab to Becker's, where a 
note awaited her, was absent yet awhile longer, and 
came back without her absence being remarked which 
Miss Lavender stoutly maintained was a thing impos 
sible in her well-regulated establishment. 

And, if Angelica had known it, Katherine was even 
then near her ; for she had not found in a change of 
scene the hoped-for oblivion. By shadowy river-bank 
or sunny hillside there went with her Black Care, who 
sits on the rider's crupper or dogs the pedestrian's 
footsteps with equal tenacity. " I might be better at 
home, with some work to do," she told her aunt, with 
a wistful look which went to that kind lady's heart. 
So they turned their heads homeward ; and she found 
some relief from anxiety at her niece's altered looks in 
commenting on the pitiful inefficiency of men young 
men who could devise no means of bringing back 
the hue of happiness to that cheek and light to those 
eyes. "And such eyes, and such a voice, and such 
grace and sweetness ! " Indeed, the elder woman 
never tired of sounding the praises of this young rela 
tive, whom she had not seen since childhood. Reginald 
laughed when his mother waxed eloquent. "What 
does this portend, little mother? Have you dreaded 
so much that in my African wanderings I should fall 



THE METROPOLITANS 143 

in love with a complexion the shadowed livery of the 
burnished sun ; that I should take some savage woman 
who should rear my dusky brood ? " 

" Stuff ! " said his mother, irrelevantly ; " Katherine 
would not look at you." Which she felt to be almost 
blasphemy, so goodly a sight she herself thought him. 
He would have been very willing to have Katherine 
look at him with other than the frank, serenely kind, 
cousinly glances she now gave him. 

" What a comrade she would make ! " he thought. 
11 How strong and gentle and bright and sympathetic ! 
Always helping a man, never hindering. What a rare, 
fair creature she looks among all these little, chatter 
ing, giggling society girls, with their petty views of 
life ! " He began to picture her in a palanquin, borne 
through the tropical virgin forest, he tramping beside 
her, their hopes and interests the same. 

The " little, chattering, giggling society girls " they 
ran across repaid his nattering estimate by taking an 
intense interest in what struck them as the great suit 
ability of the cousins to each other. " They looked so 
tall and handsome, my dear, standing together on the 
deck of the river steamer, and were always talking 
about books and travel and lion-hunting and that sort 
of thing. He 's very rich, you know, and he could n't 
take his eyes off her, and I believe they 're engaged." 
Not being interested in books and travel and lion- 
hunting and that sort of thing themselves, they were 
excellent disseminators of gossip, and Katherine was 
little aware how widely the report of her approaching 
marriage to Mr. Crofton was circulated and believed. 
It came out in the " Magpie," an impertinent little sheet 



144 THE METROPOLITANS 

which prints all manner of gossip and scandal and in 
solent untruths. Jenkins happened to purchase the 
copy containing an authoritative statement concerning 
Miss de Mansur and Mr. Crofton, and had it in his 
hand when he came into Rexford's room one evening 
before dinner. He waved it about as he rambled on 
in his usual style : 

" Well, I went to the opening of that new Women 
Bachelors' Club last night. Promised to recite some 
thing in first part of program. All very kind about 
it, complimented me, and that. One of the Bachelors 
walked herself in at the very last, just before supper 
pert-looking little girl, with a lot of rumpled hair, but 
pretty enough. She answered the toast to 'Men.' 
Here are her remarks (I took notes) : ' Men lovely 
men God bless them ! They double our cares, they 
divide our joys. How generously and unstintingly 
they give us advice ! How boldly they stand in solid 
phalanx to shield us from the crowds around the ballot- 
box ! How gladly they protect us from the contami 
nating influences of the court-room ! How tenderly 
they have drawn us from the coils of equal education, 
and how carefully pointed out to us the pitfalls in the 
paths which lead to fortune ! At what cost, at what 
sacrifice, they erect before our admiring eyes their 
beautiful club-houses ! How they must sit, day after 
day, deprived of the presence of her who alone brings 
light into their lives ! No ministering angel to hand 
the cup of solace. No fair divinity to warm the slip 
pers for their weary feet. All done for us for ex 
ample's sake. How unflinchingly they pose for our 
benefit! We may imagine with what longing they 



THE METROPOLITANS 145 

look forward to the time when we, in twin club-houses, 
like Egypt's men and women, shall stand by their side. 
As fathers they are indispensable; as brothers they 
are open to criticism ; as lovers they are irreproach 
able ; as husbands we have nothing better ; as men 
we can only say, with all their faults, we love them 
still!'" 

Rexford smiled appreciatively. 

" Oh, yes ; it was good enough," said Jenkins, " and 
there was plenty of applause. But, to show you her 
impudence: I had myself presented after supper, 
meaning to say something nice about her speech ; and 
she could n't have caught my name, for she said pres 
ently, looking over the program, ' I came late on pur 
pose. There was some recitation in the first part. I 
hate to hear grown men speak pieces. Tell me' 
(pointing to my poem on the bill), ' has that creature 
done his elocution act yet ? ' ' He finished some time 
ago,' said I. 'How bad was it?' she asked. 'Oh, 
about the average.' ' Thank Heaven, I escaped it ! ' she 
breathed piously. 'You don't think he is likely to 
break out again ? ' ' No/ 1 told her ; ' I can assure you 
he shall not repeat the offense for I am the man.' 
Some little balm in Gilead there was in the expression 
of her face " (he grinned despite himself) ; " but I don't 
go to the Women Bachelors' any more. Here, I '11 
leave this ' Magpie ' here ; when you 're through dress 
ing you can revel in it. I know you 're devoted to 
scandal. You know Crofton, by the way, the African 
explorer. There 's something about him." 

Reginald Crofton was not the rose, but at least he 
had lived near her. Rexford picked up the paper after 



10 



146 THE METROPOLITANS 

a while, and glanced over it. A messenger ran into 
Jenkins that night, when he was in Penrose's office, 
with a note. 

" ' The devil damn thee black, thou cream-faced 
loon ! ' " declaimed Jenkins, glancing at the paper. 
The astonished boy retreated rapidly. 

" What 's the matter ? " asked Penrose from his desk. 

" It 's Rexford confound him ! He 's asked me to 
do a lot of his work for him to-morrow ; and I 've 
plenty of my own. He '11 be out of town for a week. 
Why does n't he stick to it or give it up ? I '11 have 
to be more positive with him about these odd jobs." 

An east wind was still blowing, but with something 
of soft relenting in its breath, when Angelica came in 
to Miss de Mansur's pretty room, an irrepressible joy- 
ousness in her eye and lightness in her step. " Oh, I 
am so glad to have you back, my Katherine ; but why, 
why did you stay so long? I might have been so 
much better a girl if you had been here." 

" What is it ? What have you been doing ? " queried 
Katherine, expecting to hear of saucy tricks with Miss 
Lavender. 

" I have been changing my name," she replied, with 
affected demureness, casting down her eyes. While 
Katherine stared at her, incredulous, she fell down on 
her knees, taking care not to disarrange her stylish 
draperies, and clasped her small hands dramatically. 
"I will not arise until I have your forgiveness and 
your blessing for my Otto and myself ! " 

" Angelica ! Angelica ! get up. What do you mean 
by this nonsense ! You have not been doing anything 
foolish ? " 



THE METROPOLITANS 147 

"Certainly not, my dear" (rising and smoothing 
down her skirts) ; " only, to adapt a French rhyme, 
Si t'aimer est folie, 
Je serais folle toute la vie. 

Katherine, do not look as if you saw me led to execution ! 
Even if I have, in your absence, arranged my own life 
and become Mrs. Federling, I shall probably escape 
with twenty years in the penitentiary. Katherine 
dear " (a serious and wistful note came into her voice), 
" you don't know how one who has heard nothing but 
money from her birth craves to be loved for herself ; 
and truly, truly, when you know my Otto, you will find 
that he is the kindest, dearest, and most genuine of 
men, who cares only about me myself. I took pains 
to have him misinformed about my means. He is the 
most absurd creature about poetry and sentiment and 
that you should hear the fraulein and him " (break 
ing into laughter through her tears). " Well, I do not 
understand their Goethe and Heine, but I am not such 
a bad judge of men." 

" Oh ! " exclaimed Katherine, still aghast, " Miss 
Lavender your parents ! What will they say ! " 

" Miss Lavender, my dear ! she is blue with indigna 
tion, and has dismissed Fraulein Volmer as an acces 
sory before the fact which the fraulein was not. 
Still, it is a paler blue than it would have been if Mr. 
Pundit, her undervalued property, had not, in perfect 
form, attempted to transfer the title-deeds to me. You 
can understand that, between that bore, her resent 
ment, and her determination to assist the repulsive De 
Vaurien in his offensive addresses, life at Franklin 
Hall was just unbearable. So I wrote to a girl I used 



148 THE METROPOLITANS 

to know out West, now in Germany, to get her brother 
to find out if the fraulein's account of the Federliiigs 
and Otto was correct ; and it turned out all right." 

" If you had written to your mother to inquire" 

" You don't know mamma. She was in Paris, ex 
changing compliments with the De Vaurien family. 
If she had found me disengaged, she would have man 
aged that alliance one way or another. So I wrote 
that, as I knew she had adopted European modes, I 
hereby served her with the customary trois 'sommations 
respectueuses. 1 * " 

"In one letter?" 

" Oh, yes " (placidly) ; " time pressed. I put the last 
two in postscripts, and told her that, as she was already 
on the Continent, she might cross the Rhine and make 
friends with the Federlings, as I would be one of them 
before she could answer. Why did she leave me in 
that mill of feminine eligibles ? I informed papa, and 
have his forgiveness already by cable ; by cable, as I 
begged him. Is not that original ? " 

Katherine looked at her helplessly. "And is Mr. 
Mr. Federling still at Delmonico's ? " 

" Certainly not. He will now have time to find the 
professorship that will suit him, or what he chooses. 
He hates idleness, and is very learned and studious. 
We have a charming apartment, where you will come 
and see us." 

"My dear, it is all very wrong, you know; but I 
hope your judgment of men is correct, and that you 
are going to be very happy." 

" Of course it was wrong, and Mr. Pundit will say 
much worse. 'Bad form, don't you know. In the 



THE METROPOLITANS 149 

worst possible taste, you understand.' But just wait, 
wait until you know my Otto. He is down-stairs 
now." 

" Then let me wish him joy/' said Katherine. She 
found the suddenly made bridegroom a fresh-faced 
young Teuton, whose frank, yet modest, manner made 
a favorable impression. He beamed on his wife's 
friend with a look of bliss, somewhat modified by a 
sense of guilt in the circumstances of their hasty 
union. He quoted verse freely, in praise of his " blond 
angel " (whom his eyes sought incessantly), as the best 
excuse for what looked like rashness. He admitted the 
dereliction as regarded the "venerated and respect- 
worthy " parents on both sides, and had no excuse to 
offer beyond the tyranny of the eternal Eros. But 
Katherine divined that, had chivalrous loyalty per 
mitted, he might have pleaded his "blond angel's" 
habit of arranging matters herself. 

But there was an unwonted appeal for sympathy in 
Angelica's usually careless demeanor which touched 
her ; and she watched the young couple saunter across 
the square, all absorbed in each other, with a half- 
pleased interest which lightened for the moment her 
heavy heart. And if there is an undue proportion of 
wooing and matrimony in this chapter, the fact that 
it was in the springtime, when young blossoms were 
showing their pretty heads through the grass, and 
little birds inspected the first green sprouts on the 
trees, and formulated, amid much hopping and twit 
tering, an "Artis Amatoriae" of their own, must 
excuse it. 



10- 




XIII 

' EXFORD'S week of absence had stretched 
into three, and Jenkins was still acting as 
musical critic in his place, when, coming 
into his room at dusk one evening, his 
friendly substitute encountered hi step 
ping from the elevator. 

" Upon my word ! " exclaimed Jenkins, " it is really 
good of you to come back at all. And where have you 
been lying low all this time and chuckling over the 
blunders in my reviews? I have n't been to all the 
musical events, I tell you frankly, but just took the 
amateur ones on faith ; which proved a little awkward 
once or twice, when they altered the program without 
my knowledge. However, that 's all one now ; for not 
a day longer am I going to do double chores, and wear 
away with overwork pounds of my valuable avoirdu 
pois. I suppose the brilliant composer of ' Zora ' has 
begun to think himself above the duties of a humble 
reviewer." 

The light from an open doorway fell on his com 
panion's face. 

" Well," he continued, " I should not say your vaca 
tion had done you much good ; you look used up." 
"No wonder," replied Rexford. "Now that you 
150 



THE METROPOLITANS 151 

stop for breath, I may tell you that it is ' The Miller 
of Dee ' which has worn me out the utterly impossi 
ble words of that libretto, which I would know for 
yours in farthest Ind. I finished the scores, however." 

" Finished them ? That was quick work, most noble 
collaborator. Hurrah, hurrah, hurrah ! " he solemnly 
chanted. 

Penrose came to his door. "What is the howling 
about ? Ha, youngster, back again ? I am glad." A 
whole volume of welcome was compressed into two 
or three simple words. He was in his shirt-sleeves, 
struggling with a troublesome collar-button, but 
moved aside in mute invitation for his friend to enter, 
while Jenkins passed in at his own door. 

His opinion of Rexford's looks was, in effect, the 
same as Jenkins's. He scanned him as, appearing 
wholly occupied at the mirror with his button, he re 
marked, "Turkish bath and dinner will brace you 
up all right. Fancy you ; ve been traveling in an 
overheated Pullman." 

Rexford took no notice. He sat on the edge of a 
lounge absently punching one of the pillows. 

" Would you have minded much," he asked abruptly, 
" if I had n't done ' The Lotus-eaters ' ? It was a fear 
ful pull to finish it, and I had more than half a mind 
to leave it. I was busy in the daytime ; had to grind 
at it at night." 

" Do you mean to say that you finished l The Lotus- 
eaters ' while you were away besides, as I judge from 
Jenkins's whoops, polishing off 'The Miller'? You 
must have gone into retirement in the country." 

"I was in Washington, rushing around, but took 



152 THE METROPOLITANS 

my evenings. You can have Menu try the scores to 
night, or when you will ; he can overlook the choruses 
too." 

" Why not yourself ? " 

" I shall have all I can attend to now, getting my 
outfit ready for the expedition." 

Penrose had by this time inducted himself into his 
dinner coat. He drew a long breath, looking hard at 
Eexford, but said, even more quietly, " This dialogue 
begins to remind me of the faithful steward in ' The 
Way to Tell Bad News.' Let us leave our pribbles 
and our prabbles, and get to the heart of the matter. 
Are you intending just after 'Zora's' success, and 
before bringing out yourself 'The Lotus-eaters' and 
1 The Miller of Dee 'to leave New York definitely for 
some time ? " 

" For just as long a time as possible." 

"Would it be exceeding friendship's privilege to 
ask your reasons, most excellent 

" ' Fool,' you would finish. Do not hesitate. We 
are all fools together, we mortals, and there is not 
always a reason to be found among us. My dear fel 
low, a man must have some sort of interest in living, 
so he keeps on making experiments with himself. The 
three great human passions are, you have heard, love, 
war, and money-making. In these end-of-the-century 
days, with arbitration imminent, I may not have the 
excitement of carving my natural enemies not even 
Lord Mellon, or or " He broke off with a dismal 
sort of laugh; and Penrose noted anew the weary 
recklessness of his attitude, and the tired look about 
eyes and brow, where limp little locks of damp hair 



THE METROPOLITANS 163 

clung. " Money-making," he resumed, " is a necessary 
evil for some of us, when a little Lord Cantaloupe 
appears upon the stage ; but when we have enough to 
feel secure of bread and butter, and even occasional 
canvasback and Burgundy rose, the occupation begins 
to pall." 

" Perhaps because you use work as a means, not an 
end. Work keeps a man erect; it is fatally easy to 
sink down into mere animalism. But you were say 
ing 

" Oh" (with some vehemence), " that I begin to hate 
it all ! The crowds and the applause, and the young 
noodles that come up to compliment and don't know 
one note from another, and I beg your pardon the 
papers, with their effusive paragraphs, and and 
everything." 

" If this were mere pampered vanity," said Peurose, 
keenly, " as it might be, I should simply say, my good 
fellow, you are badly spoiled by your reverses. But 
I think I discern something else. If I am intrusive, 
let me know. But the first great human interest you 
have not touched upon. If you have been giving 
divided worship to your art, she will undoubtedly fail 
you." 

" Oh, my art, my art ! " cried Rexf ord. "I would not 
blaspheme that divine consoler ! But yes, then " (like 
one tired of bearing pain alone), "there is another 
idol, but one who will have none of my worship who 
cares less for votaries of melody than for men of thews 
and sinews, mighty hunters who lay the trophies of 
their chase at her feet ! " Suddenly the paragraph 
about Miss de Mansur and Reginald Crofton, which he 



154 THE METROPOLITANS 

also had seen, came into Penrose's mind. He looked 
gravely at the haggard young face and remembered 
Jasmina. 

" Hearsay is a poor guide of conduct," he said at last. 

" Oh " (laughing harshly), " I did not depend wholly 
upon that. I have had notes returned unopened since 
then." 

Jenkins, who had been whistling shrilly in his room, 
broke now into a snatch of song, "There are other 
eyes in Spain," and Penrose closed the door softly. 

" It is not easy for most men to leave an idol's shrine." 

" It is impossible for me to stay near this one." 

" And where, then, will you go ? " 

"You have heard of the Ritler arctic trip, to be 
made this summer? The 'Argus' has had sporadic 
paragraphs about it. It is sent by a wealthy scientist, 
too old to go himself, but with this hobby. It is not 
to find an impracticable northwest passage, nor yet to 
go farther north than any previous party. It is just 
to settle certain geographical and scientific questions ; 
and I judge it will be safe enough, and comparatively 
unexciting, for the professor in charge, Dr. Ritler, is 
going to take his wife. I saw him in Washington, and 
found him willing enough to have me as volunteer, for 
I know something of his specialties and am a fair shot. 
Their party goes on this week to St. John's, and I join 
them there next week." 

Penrose thought vaguely that he would have time 
enough after next week to suffer for the cheery com 
panionship and joyous looks which had so brightened 
his last year or two. He only asked : 

" And ' Zora,' and the new ones ? " 



THE METROPOLITANS 155 

" Oh " (indifferently), " the managers have accepted 
them. I leave the rest in your hands." 

"And and Jasmina?" 

" For that matter "he was passing into his own 
room now) " for that matter, it is you who have always 
had most interest in our Gipsy star." 

For days following he was as one driven in his haste 
to complete preparations for getting away. A list 
had been furnished him by Dr. Ritler and others of the 
party, glad to have as a recruit this frank and fearless 
spirit, with well-trained muscles and superb health to 
make him valuable. The pemmican, dog food, lime- 
juice, and such things as he had vaguely connected, 
from reading, with circumpolar wanderings, came not 
within his province, he was laughingly told, but merely 
the personal belongings indicated. Penrose, heavy- 
hearted, but externally unmoved, watched him prepar 
ing to quit the orbit in which, on one plane or other, 
he had taken pleasure in his brilliant revolutions. 

" I have seen Menu and the others," Rexford told him. 
" l Zora ' will soon be sent into the provinces, and make 
way for l The Lotus-eaters.' That is to be on a grand 
scale, Menu tells me ; but I leave my prestige in your 
hands, old chap. Jenkins, the great, the only Jenkins, 
will look after i The Miller ' at the Gaiety, as the book 
is his. And, Jenkins, if I don't come back, you may 
claim the music too." 

" What larks, Pip ! " cried Jenkins, not as cheerily 
as usual. " If you insist on being frozen stiff, why not 
go up and sit awhile with Miss Lavender ? I was with 
her for a half -hour yesterday to get notes for an arti 
cle on < Finishing Academies,' and my teeth chattered 



156 THE METROPOLITANS 

in my head when I left." In truth, the good fellow 
was very loath to have this favorite of his leave so 
early in their new partnership ; nor could he under 
stand, ease-loving himself, how a sane man could give 
up the comforts of civilization for any cause whatever. 
" If he dislikes the eastern exposure in ' Simla/ 1 would 
have given him my room," he thought ruefully. 

The Van Krippens, the Doulton-Mintons,the Crowne 
Derbys, the Royall Worcesters, and all the rest of the 
dandies were likewise filled with surprise. That a 
handsome man, connected with the English nobility, 
a composer at present the rage (could they not, each 
one, hum an air or two from " Zora " ?), sure of adula 
tion from society, which had evidently made a mistake 
during the short while she hid her face from him 
that he should leave all these splendors for certain 
hardship ! " Was n't there an old great-aunt or some 
body in the family that was eccentric ? Yes, that 's 
it; he 's off, by Jove!" 

" Hum ha my dear boy," said Archibald Pundit, 
meeting him, " what 's this I hear ? Our brilliant 
young artist leaving us? We can't spare you, don't 
you know. And Lady Mellon will hardly approve, 
don't you perceive." 

"I think I perceive," said Rexford, "that Lord 
Mellon's pranks are absorbing most of Lady Mellon's 
time and attention just now. I hardly approve of 
them myself, don't you know." 

" I was sorry in an instant," he told Penrose after 
ward, "for the disrespect. He had nothing to say, 
for I know he has heard all those hideous stories about 
Lord Mellon, that descendant of the great Henry, 



THE METROPOLITANS 157 

Marquis of Gourdes. Still, I had no right to abash 
the old fellow, worldling as he is. He did not use to 
irritate me so ; but oh, Penrose, I am sick of everything ! 
' Grattez le moderne, vous trouvez le sauvage.' I long to be 
far away, where the aurora takes the place of the elec 
tric light and the sledge is the only transit, rapid or 
slow. Do you remember our reading last year of the 
arctic squadron lauding in Iceland, and how full of 
wonder seemed their adventures to us? And I had 
never a presentiment that, this very next year, I should 
be going myself on a similar expedition." And in all 
this sceva indignatio and feverish hurry to be gone was 
a throbbing consciousness that he would give up this 
scheme too, as one of utter futility, if Katherine said 
but the word. He just missed meeting her face to 
face one afternoon, when the church door had but 
closed on her as he passed by, where she had come, 
with stricken heart, to offer a petition for him, in 
deed. It was after her cousin's mentioning at home 
this addition to the arctic party. 

" I begin to feel a little more respect for him," he 
said. " It looks as though he might find some better 
use for his brain than composing jingles for street 
boys to whistle." 

"Oh, you, Reginald!" laughed his mother; "your 
one idea of the whole duty of man is to go about 
poking and prying into the dark corners of the earth. 
But I am glad Mr. Rexford withdraws himself from 
the temptations of theatrical success. I hope " (kindly) 
" he will come to no harm." 

" Oh," said her son, carelessly, " this is an easy and 
safe trip, I hear, as far as prudent and reasonable fore- 



158 THE METROPOLITANS 

sight can make it. A very practical scheme, and 
throws no sort of glamour of mysterious danger over 
the party. Dr. Hitler's wife will go. He thinks arctic 
perils have been much overrated." 

" There have been a good many lives lost," said his 
mother, dubiously. " People will hardly go the length 
of dying just to win a little romantic interest dying 
slowly and painfully." 

Katherine said nothing, but presently slipped away 
to where she was in the habit of carrying her troubles. 

During this time Jasmina, as Zora, danced and sang 
as usual, and had begun to look over her new part in 
the rehearsals of "The Lotus-Eaters." As for the 
" Mayde who followed the Man who followed the Miller 
of Dee," that light role was acceptably filled by a noted 
soubrette. Penrose had reason to know that Jasmina 
had fretted restively during the young composer's ab 
sence, and delayed telling her of his proposed departure 
now. So it chanced that she first learned of it through 
a paper, where some head-line attracted her careless 
eye. " ' List of Members of Expedition/ " she repeated. 
" What Raixf ore is this he means ? It says ' Allan ! ' ' 
(with incredulous disdain). " Some foolish blunder 
a canard. He leave the city leave Zora" (softly) 
" for these snowbanks ? Absurd ! See, Stephen " (on 
his coming in), " what these ridiculous papers write 
one day, only to contradict the next. How did they 
get his name ? " 

" My dear child," he answered seriously, " it may be 
true. I have heard something of it." 

" Stephen ! Stephen ! " (voice and hands appealing) 
" it is not true ; say it is not true." 



THE METROPOLITANS 159 

" I am afraid it is true." 

Her white teeth closed on the lower scarlet lip ; her 
breath came in quick gasps ; her slender fingers clasped 
his arm. 

"Oh," she cried, in piteous, childlike appeal, "I 
would die then. You will not let me die ; you have 
done everything in my life for me, Stephen. Do this 
now : keep him here." 

" Jasmina," he said, almost in a whisper, " you know 
it kills me to refuse you anything, but this I cannot 
do. He will not stay for any reason that I have to 
offer." 

She gave him a look from her great eyes like a 
deer's that is hurt. "If it is true, then when does 
he go ? " 

" In about ten days." 

"Will he be here to-night?" 

" I heard him say he had another engagement." 

She walked up and down the room with her free, 
graceful step, then looked again at the paper ; some 
thing in the paragraph held her attention. Suddenly 
she said, " I shall not sing this evening ; my throat is 
sore." 

" Your manager will rage." 

" I can get him a doctor's certificate. I should give 
my understudy a chance ; she has wished for it long." 

Penrose sighed when outside again perhaps with 
relief that the scene had been less painful than he 
dreaded. " Poor child ! poor little impulsive girl ! To 
have given me single-minded affection all this time, 
only to save a wealth of savage loyalty for Rexf ord, 
who goes away unknowing and unheeding ! " 



160 THE METROPOLITANS 

The ill wind which took away from the audience 
that night the popular idol in "Zora" blew a long- 
looked-for chance to an ambitious understudy; but 
alas ! there was no dreamed-of round of applause. Her 
hearers were but politely tolerant, and showed their 
sense of injury in losing Jasmina, who was denied to 
every caller that evening on the same plea of illness ; 
to the regret of Rexf ord, who missed, with all his pre 
occupation, the warm, scented room where, with joyous 
chatter and soothing music, he had found in recent 
bitterness the sympathy so essential to his nature. 
That she was denied to him caused Penrose wonder 
ment, who knew her ailment to be feigned, and found, 
besides, at Becker's two or three little notes which 
begged her dear Stephen not to be at all anxious at 
her seclusion, which was merely on account of her 
being particularly engaged just now. " I shall feel 
better satisfied," he reflected, " when she is in harness 
again with ' The Lotus-eaters.' " 

But it was another sort of harness Jasmina was 
seeking when, leaving her maid on guard at her apart 
ment, she had gone quietly over to Washington. There 
she found the address she wanted, and went near there 
in a cab, which was left in waiting while she walked a 
block farther and up the steps of a house. There she 
inquired for Mrs. Ritler. "I saw," said she to the 
strong, capable-looking wife of the scientist, who came 
to her, " that madame was to accompany her husband 
on his voyage ; also that the maid had fallen ill who 
was to go with her. If madame still desires an atten 
dant, it is I who would like to go with her." 

Mrs. Ritler scrutinized the new applicant. In spite 



THE METROPOLITANS 161 

of plain, dark attire, there was something too brilliant 
about her ; and yet the time was so short, no one else 
seemed eager to volunteer, this one was younger than 
the maid who had failed her, therefore more service 
able; Dr. Ritler made such a point of her having 
another woman with her, as he might be absent fre 
quently. " Some reference would be necessary," at last 
she said hesitatingly ; " I do not know you at all." 

"The best of references," said Jasmina, promptly. 
"Dr. Ritler shall have them. See, madame," with a 
pleading gesture of the little brown hands, " not many 
will desire to go with you to such a place ; but me I 
have great wish to see the wonderland ! " This with 
odd emphasis and ineffable expression. The charm of 
her voice and manner began to tell on Mrs. Ritler. 
" See, now; I do not know much, but I am so willing. 
Let me go with you to St. John's to-morrow ; I will 
give references in New York. Write to this address 
at once. The answer will come to St. John's, and if 
it is not right you can still leave me there." 

" Wait until Dr. Ritler comes in," said his wife, 
then. 

Penrose had next morning a note from her, asking 
information as to her new companion. By the same 
mail Jasmina had written : 

" Say what you can or invent to satisfy the scruples 
of madame. For, Stephen, mark you, I am determined 
to go. And if she leaves me, I swear to you I will kill 
myself. If he goes to cold or starvation, I go too ; and, 
Stephen, I trust you to keep from him and every one 
the slightest hint of my presence here. He shall not 



162 THE METEOPOLITANS 

know until we have started. The public and mana 
gers may think what they please of the sudden disap 
pearance of Zora. But will you look after the few 
things in my rooms, and pay the maid and dismiss ? 
If I did not give you trouble, you would not know 
it was 

"Your 

"JASMINA." 

Penrose was stunned, but, knowing well her pas 
sionate and wilful nature, did not for a moment hesi 
tate. In consideration of the extortionate fee the maid 
asked in place of warning, he borrowed, without 
scruple, her name for the credentials inclosed, with 
some words of his own, to Dr. Ritler, to whom the 
" Argus's " assistant editor was known by reputation. 
And not a line in his pale face betrayed emotion when 
Rexf ord, himself much moved, bade him farewell. 

" I am more than sorry that Jasmina continues ill. 
It seems almost ungrateful not to thank my star my 
only inspiration lately for all her goodness. I grieve 
not to see her before leaving. Besides you and her, 
who is there" (bitterly) "cares for my going? Oh, 
yes j there is Jenkins ! There is always Jenkins ! " 
That good fellow did, indeed, drink a bumper to the 
prosperous voyage and return of his friend and col 
laborator. It was only in a half-hearted way that he 
went about his part in the bringing out of "The 
Miller of Dee " in the approaching season. He would 
have gone with a host of friends and admirers to see 
Rexf ord off, but the latter objected to any " confounded 
fuss." Only Penrose knew exactly when he did get 



THE METROPOLITANS 163 

off. Like any other hurt animal, he shrank from ob 
servation, and in his morbidness was unlike the gallant 
young fellow whom Katherine de Mansur had favored 
and whom nothing but her supposed will could have 
induced to leave her to another. Yet when the girl 
read or heard any notice of his going, all her wounded 
pride could not keep her from breathing a fervent 
" God be with him, if we never meet again." If he 
were all her soul had feared, he was at least turning 
his back now on the mad whirl and riotous living of 
the great city ; that, too, at a moment of brilliant suc 
cess. He was adventuring something which required 
strength and courage and manly self-denial. He 
seemed to her fancy to be sailing away from confusion 
and sound and fury up into higher, purer altitudes. 
But alas! it was away from her, too, and her sore 
heart felt that, in spite of rumor and eyesight believed, 
and even that fatal visit, one last appeal might have 
melted her ; but it did not come. 

The Meteor, the expedition steamer, was already at 
St. John's, but was detained there some days after 
arriving by a delay of part of the equipment. Rex- 
ford, after reporting to Dr. Ritler, wandered about the 
town, then back to his room at the hotel. He had been 
reflecting on his long separation from his mother, and 
softened toward her now. Cold and unjust as she 
seemed, she could hardly find the glittering social 
triumphs of London, nor even her lofty ambitions for 
a baby boy, compensation for slights and all domestic 
infelicity. " It is a long trip," he wrote her, " that I 
meditate ; and, as it is our last chance for the present 
to send a mail, I want to leave with you across the 



164 THE METROPOLITANS 

ocean my best wishes for your health and content. 
For myself, I have lost a hope which I think you 
guessed at before leaving America; so mere life is 
worth nothing to me, and I seek now distraction of 
thought," with a few more lines, which he sealed and 
addressed. Then for a long time he gazed from the 
hotel window. He could see, over the waters of the 
bay, the little steamer Newfoundland, which had brought 
him, and the Meteor swinging at anchor off Queen's 
Wharf. It would be there some days yet, owing to 
this delay. With sudden decision, he sat down again 
and wrote a note to Katherine, which he inclosed in 
one to Penrose addressed in care of Becker. When 
the latter, in New York, opened it, he read : " There 
is still time to retreat honorably, and I am in no sense 
indispensable. Dr. Ritler sails to-morrow for Upper- 
nivik, but I am to wait here with the photographer 
for some instruments not yet arrived. Penrose, if 
she would call me back ! I have been thinking I have 
been too easily content without more definite expla 
nation ; but one cannot persecute a woman ! Still, I 
inclose a note which I trust you to place in her hand ; 
not sending by regular mail, as she may not understand 
there is no time for delay." 

Jasmina wrote at the same time : " Stephen, I have 
been careful that he should not see me until we start 
from Upperuivik, where we go ahead of him and those 
waiting here, who are to follow us in the steam-launch. 
Be careful at your end, for it is with my life I trust 
you. I will not survive parting with him." 

Penrose felt as though invisible hands drew him in 
opposite directions. He shrugged his shoulders. " I 



THE METROPOLITANS 165 

will do just nothing," he muttered ; " things must go 
as they will." He locked into some private receptacle 
the note inclosed from Rexford; answered him, "I 
wish you forgetfulness and a safe home-coming from 
the far North," and resolutely put from him, with that 
fatalism which was a part of him, the thought of an 
unfulfilled commission hurtful to Jasmina ; while Rex- 
ford tore to pieces and threw overboard the line con 
taining, he supposed, the implied destruction of all 
hope. 

One hour afterward the little steamer was passing 
the majestic cliffs through the narrows of St. John's, 
and upward into the ice-pack bordering the Greenland 
coast, and there plunging into a fog which retarded 
progress and hid from them the glacial mountains 
towering high along the desolate coast. It was only 
when this curtain rolled back before the wind, after 
they had been lying for many hours before Uppernivik, 
that the native pilot could take them safely in. Here, 
in this little cove, lay the Meteor awaiting them. 

" I have used my week well," said Dr. Ritler, greet 
ing Rexford. "The boots and skin suits are all in, 
the dogs and drivers secured. There is small tempta 
tion to linger in this bleak spot, though they tell me 
that in fourteen years it has never been so green. But 
what a scanty patch of vegetation, and what a barren, 
desolate spot ! The fog kept you, I suppose ? Well, 
you must see from high ground that wonderful Aug- 
padlarsok ice-fiord, with its immense glacier front, 
sending out its thousands of icebergs. But we start 
as soon as possible. I am impatient to be off ; madame 

almost as much so. She is quite well, yes. Her com- 

11* 



166 THE METROPOLITANS 

panion has kept a little close ; not accustomed to the 
water, perhaps ; she soon will be." 

At midnight, for it was now the season of perpetual 
daylight in this region, they were speeding onward 
through the sea, the bergs becoming more numerous 
in their path. Rexford, at the bow, the frosty air 
tingling in his cheeks, looked at the novel scene. The 
sun, in all its brilliancy, sparkled on a few delicate 
cirrus clouds alone appearing overhead. The neighbor 
ing coasts were sharp, clear, and distinct through the 
pure thin atmosphere, and their outlines were reflected 
in the glassy water. The light pouring from above glo 
rified all, shining especially on highlands to the east, 
where in a ravine a torrent came plunging downward 
over fourteen hundred feet through a cleft in the solid 
rock. He drew a long breath. " We are sailing away," 
he said, in continuance of remarks to Mrs. Ritler, 
" into a new world of enchantment." But the sighting 
of a polar bear on a berg had drawn that lady to the 
side, where a boat was being lowered for pursuit. It 
was not her rather nasal tones, but instead a familiar, 
softly musical voice which answered : 

" Yes ; and it is not very cold, do you think ? " 
He turned, and, to his stupefaction, there stood 
Jasmina, her glowing tints made more vivid by this 
crisp air, and the great friendly dark eyes, into which 
looked his own bewildered, were widened by an ex 
pression of resolution and soft deprecation commingled. 




XIV 

FTER all, Katherine, you need not look 
so serious whenever I allude to my hav 
ing married myself off. Of course it 
was outrageous and shocking for me to 
have even seen that so humble an in 
dividual as Otto was alive, when I might have been 
Madame la Vicomtesse de Vaurien, or else been trotted 
out, on approval, by the Lavender-Pundit Trust Com 
pany, or, perhaps, been hawked about the Continent 
by mamma. Ah ! the idea was detestable. No, dearest ; 
of course you could not mean that. It was not duti 
ful, but if you had been tried like me ! And I did 
know something of Otto, remember. Did I tell you 
that mamma has actually gone to inspect the Feder- 
lings, and dined with the ten sisters and the herr 
papa at Castle Schlippenschloppenschlanberg you 
need not laugh ; it is that. She finds the place very 
ancient and picturesque, but damp and abounding in 
rats, and would not advise me to live there. But on 
finding that I may have 'baroness' on my card if I 
choose, she has relented and forgives and blesses Otto. 
She cannot come over, however, on account of Anas- 
telle, for whom she trusts there is something lofty in 
prospect. I hope it is no wretched De Vaurien the 
poor child would marry the Shah of Persia if mamma 

167 



168 m HE METROPOLITANS 

ordered her (she is the most obedient of daughters, 
the postscript says, which is the only reflection the 
letter contains on my misconduct). Papa will be over 
on the next steamer to see me and interview Otto. 
He is not at all afraid ; he thinks it will be interesting 
to talk with a mining expert like papa. We may go 
back with him, but we mean to be Americans; for 
Otto promises to make his career where he has found 
his wife, and he will be distinguished here, I know." 

Indeed, her faith in her husband was very pretty, 
and natural enough, Katherine considered. For the 
pleasant-faced young German was studious and thor 
ough, and really learned in his specialties, with great 
simplicity of manner and frank demonstration tinged 
with sentiment, which insured a half-amused liking ; 
and her interest in this young pair was a welcome dis 
traction from the heavy thoughts which followed every 
stray word coming to her concerning polar voyages, 
and one voyage in particular. " A line of farewell, for 
old acquaintance' sake, would have been natural," was 
a secret, inconsistent thought. 

Said Mortimer to his sister (he had accepted her 
astounding escapade with his usual philosophy), " Why 
don't you get Miss Katherine to go abroad with you 
when you go, and then I might join you." 

Angelica shook her flaxen head thoughtfully. With 
all her joyous chatter and bird-like flutterings in and 
out, she had discovered that things were not well with 
her friend. 

" But Katherine will grieve always for her father ; 
she is of that faithful nature. I wonder if that dis 
tinguished-looking cousin" 



THE METROPOLITANS 169 

The distinguished-looking cousin wondered a little 
himself. Katherine had a way of parrying love pas 
sages and discoursing on things impersonal which was 
baffling to a degree ; and she wore at times an air of 
weary coldness, as if she had already lived a century, 
and cared for nothing more. 

" It is her mourning," he decided sagely. " They 
adored each other, my uncle and she." And forthwith 
he began planning another trip for his mother and 
the girl, with himself as escort. 

The town began to wear now, in certain regions, a 
deserted and desolate look, with windows shuttered, 
front doors barricaded, no one in the houses but care 
takers. Even the churches in this quarter, with few 
exceptions, were closed for the season, these being folds 
into which only sheep with golden fleece were gathered ; 
and when these scattered for a summer's pleasant graz 
ing, why should not the shepherds do likewise, leaving 
others to concern themselves for the poor who are 
always with us ? In short, as Mr. Pundit said, " The 
city is quite empty now, don't you know. Society is 
either at Newport or in the hills or gone abroad. Very 
large New York contingent went over for the season, 
so I 'm told, you understand. By the way, Miss Lav 
ender, I see Mr. van Krippen's and Mr. and Mrs. Fed- 
erling's names among passengers on the last steamer 
going out." 

" Her father called on me before leaving, and was 
ahem! most gentlemanly about the extra expense 
and annoyance and possible detriment to the material 
interests of Franklin Hall caused by that ungrateful 
girl's imprudent step. Otherwise, Mr. Pundit " (with 



170 THE METEOPOLITANS 

a gleam of vindictiveness in her eyes), " I should have 
refused even to notice her again. I promise you, no 
sentimental Friiulein Volmer chaperons my young 
ladies after this." 

" I hear," said the gentleman, thoughtfully, rubbing 
a bald spot near the temples, " that her father dowers 
Mrs. Federling magnificently quite magnificently." 
He aUowed a sigh to escape, which Miss Lavender 
heard with cold disdain. " Well " (more briskly), " I 
shall be running down to Newport myself next week. 
Shall I meet you there, my dear lady, this season ? " 

" I think so " (demurely). " I need a change after 
the shock of the Van Krippen affair ; and I shall leave 
Madame Bonair in charge at the Hall. Miss Kilmans- 
egg's people she is, you know, to marry the Marquis 
de Mauvais Sujet, who will be there have taken a 
cottage for us. I will chaperon her and arrange for 
the wedding. Her father is quite unpresentable, and 
had better stay in Oshkosh. He pays all expenses, of 
course very liberally." 

" I will be down about Thursday," said Mr. Pundit. 
" There will absolutely be no one in town after this 
week." 

Which might have surprised the thousands swarm 
ing in and out and through and about the vast city if 
they knew, or cared to know, what Mr. Pundit said. 
The sun's beams grew hotter, and the long days longer, 
and the baking streets dustier and more stifling ; and 
the occupants of the human hive hummed and buzzed 
and knocked against one another in the struggle for 
mere life, which in the aged and weak and little ones 
died out with appalling frequency in the narrow ovens 



THE METROPOLITANS 171 

which they call homes. And none of them missed a 
dainty toilet here and there, or a well-appointed trap 
which had disappeared for a while from up-town 
streets. Only out on the waters of the bay or river, 
or up in the verdant, lovely Park, could it be guessed 
how nature had once smiled here for man, until her 
face had been covered and hidden by humanity's toil 
and misery and incessant, carking care. 

Penrose and Jenkins were among the summer 
workers who snatched but an occasional hour or two 
for refreshing sail or saunter. " But we have always 
'Simla,'" the latter boasted, leaning in shirt-sleeves 
from the lofty window of his apartment. " If not in the 
hills, I may dream of them." Penrose, walking now 
much alone these hot afternoons in the Park alleys or 
the shaded galleries of the museum, found his thoughts 
wander sometimes to a note locked away in his desk. 
" I wonder where they are now, and what will happen 
when if they come back. Ah ! things arrange them 
selves in life." The few people near saw a tall, thin, 
worn-looking man, with keen eyes, veiled by glasses, 
strolling among the mummy-cases, and even reading 
idly the inscriptions to the ladies of the houses Taon- 
Hor and Arshep, while his mind, instead of conjuring 
up the Sphinx and burning sands of Egypt, could only 
see polar solitudes. He little thought what had once 
happened to his friend in this very place. The De 
Mansur house was closed when he afterward passed it. 
" Family gone to the Yellowstone," somebody had said. 

" The Lotus-eaters " and " The Miller of Dee " were 
to appear simultaneously at two city theaters in the 
first of the coming season, which meant that he and 



172 THE METROPOLITANS 

Jenkins had more than enough, with regular duties, 
to attend to. "I believe the music and book will carry 
us through, Mr. Penrose," said Menu ; " but it was the 
devil's own luck to have Jasmina swallowed up just 
now. Such a card as that girl was ! I wonder what 
struck her? I suppose she '11 turn up again some 
time." He had raged as much over her sudden dis 
appearance as the public had speculated. But time 
pressed ; the inefficient understudy was relegated to a 
minor part, and a French singer, just arrived, was 
tried and secured for " The Lotus-eaters." There is 
no leisure in this hurrying, bustling world to bewail 
a loss ; it must be supplied, more or less fully. 

So the long, torrid days and unrestful nights 
dragged themselves along, and an occasional puff of 
wind from the bay would bring a longed-for promise 
of coolness. Then a stray leaf here and there began 
to drop, and then faster and faster; and by and by 
battalions of sweepers were kept busy gathering them 
up ; and stragglers, returning from their summer out 
ing, reappeared on the streets ; and though many of 
Mr. Pundit's friends still shrank from the sight of the 
beautiful slender white spires of the cathedral, and 
lingered elsewhere until Christmas, on the whole, so 
ciety was slowly returning. 

To crowds at the theaters the two new Rexford 
operas were brought out successfully. The cheery, the 
stout, the florid Jenkins awoke to find himself, as a 
librettist, effulgent with the reflected glory of the ab 
sent composer. He ordered beers all round to cele 
brate the event at the Chimes, and pretended to be 
overcome with emotion at the tumultuous ovation 



THE METKOPOLITANS 173 

greeting him there. " Tears, idle tears," he quavered, 
with a large handkerchief pressed to his twinkling 
eyes; "nay, worse than idle, since these briny drops 
would flatten beer already thin enough. Boy, another 
flagon. Gentlemen, I thank you for this loud applause. 
I know I have done well, but it is uncommon clever in 
the fool public to have found it out. You understand, 
my good friends all, that this remark is strictly con 
fidential ; nor, should I ever see it with mine eyes in 
print, shall I scruple to deny the allegation, and to 
kick the allegator. Only a small share of the glory, 
did you say ? Nay, my good lord, a word in your ear : 
les absents ont toujours tort. I wrote the music too ! " 

" How much beer did you have before you came ? " 
asked Penrose. 

"Beer, forsooth! Is that the nectar you had in 
Lotus-eaters' Land ? The Miller and all his procession 
fared better than that. Bring still more drink, my 
lad ; and base the slave who pays for that or anything 
while I am here ! " 

With all this flood of nonsense, Penrose knew the 
good fellow heartily regretted that Rexford was not 
present to claim a lion's share of the triumph. For 
himself, success was better than failure certainly, but, 
having done the best he could with the book, he took 
events as they came, without much excitement. 

" It might have been damned as easily," he told his 
neighbor; "it depends very much on the mood of 
what Jenkins calls the ' fool public.' That very clever 
English impersonator that was here, you know, and 
those delightful French pantomimists they had no 
success. Anything subtle is wasted on an audience 



174 THE METROPOLITANS 

over here." His neighbor remembered that Penrose 
was not an American, and resented the criticism ac 
cordingly. 

Among the club dandies the appearance of the 
French singer revived talk about Jasmina's sudden 
vanishing. 

" Good enough voice/' said Morty van Krippen, " but 
not in it with Jasmina not a patch on her. Want 
to do the little thing justice, though she was n't par 
ticularly stuck on me. Poor taste, eh ? " 

" Ya-as," came a languid chorus. " You 're not half 
bad, Morty." 

" But what became of her, old chappies ? That 's 
the question. Nobody seems to know a deuced thing, 
by Jove ! " 

" Well," said Doulton-Minton, slowly pulling at his 
mustache and affecting to look modest, "a fellow 
does n't tell everything he knows ; but but town 's 
deadly flat without her, and I mean to cut it myself 
pretty soon, and run over to Paris." This hint was 
received with mingled envy and admiration by the 
group. 

" Devil of a fellow Jack Doulton-Minton," muttered 
Morty. 

" Something of a liar too," said Ashley Vanderlyn, 
in an undertone; "everybody knew the Hungarian 
was wild about Rexford." 

" Think she 's killed herself in some quiet corner 
'cause he 's gone away ? " drawled his hearer. " See 
here, what does that newspaper fellow mean that 
Penrose by listenin' and glarin' at a man when he 
passes ? Somebody ought to hit him." 



THE METROPOLITANS 175 

" Might not be a soft snap," suggested Morty. " No 
body knows much about that man ; shady past, they 
say; knocked about all over the globe. Killed his 
man in Kamchatka, or somewhere." 

" Did he ? " said Royall Worcester, with a fleeting 
interest. " I don't blame him ; I wish somebody 'd 
kill mine ; he 's so deuced stupid." 

" Oh, come now," said Ashley Vanderlyn, " that 's 
cribbed from one of the comic weeklies ; you know it 
is." 

In fine, none of the gilded youth who had wildly 
applauded the beautiful dancer's every movement, and 
lurked at the stage door to watch for her, and sent her 
masses of flowers, and hinted to their fellows that they 
were favored in her smiles, not even the few admitted 
to the charming apartments and gay little suppers, 
cared in the least what had become of her. If she was 
weak enough to have more heart and feeling than their 
precious selves, so much the worse for her ; and whether 
she lay ill in a Paris attic, or even cold in death, there 
was always the new Mademoiselle Pas- Volants, more 
accessible to fatuous admiration, and " no little, half- 
savage, stand-off Gipsy, by Jove ! " 

In the mean time the music of " The Lotus-eaters," 
and even the more lightsome strains of " The Miller," 
became almost as popular as " Zora." The box receipts 
showed this in substantial form; and Jenkins, with 
humor as mild as that of Mr. Peter Magnus, added 
B. C. after his name, which meant Bloated Capitalist, 
though cruelly misinterpreted as alluding to the date 
of his birth. Katherine, coming back from the Pacific 
coast, and the Federlings, gaily returning from their 



176 THE METROPOLITANS 

tour abroad, heard the melodies chanted and strummed 
and tinkled and whistled in opera-house, concert hall, 
Vaudeville Club, drawing-room, on the street every 
where. It was at a private exhibition of paintings by 
a foreign artist with a wonderful name that Penrose 
first saw Miss de Mansur on her return. He had 
paused to look at a gory and painfully realistic head 
of Holofernes when he observed Katherine near by, 
her cousin in attendance. She seemed to him taller 
and paler, and took but a perfunctory interest in the 
works of art. 

" This is the most bloody object yet/' said Mr. Oof- 
ton, with strong disapproval, " where all is carnage. 
Why, it is worse than a Matabele skirmish ! " 

" You should feel at home, then ; but cheer up ; there 
are only fifteen more by the catalogue." 

" Fifteen more nightmares ! Let us go ; these hor 
rors cannot be good for you." 

Penrose divined that the young man would have 
liked to keep from her all manner of unpleasantness. 
He was familiar with the report which asserted posi 
tively that he had been given the right. The journal 
ist's lip smiled cynically. " My nut-brown maid's warm 
heart and loyalty are worth a thousand of these great 
ladies whose love is fatal." The cousins turned to go, 
and Miss de Mansur saw Penrose, whom she knew 
very slightly. She stopped now. 

"How do you do, Mr. Penrose? I find, after my 
absence, your name on all lips. Let me congratulate 
you on the success of ' The Lotus-eaters.' " 

"Thank you" (briefly). "The librettist, however, 
can hardly claim a large share of credit in an opera. 



THE METROPOLITANS 177 

You may remark that the orchestra here, now playing a 
part of it, gets on very successfully without the words." 

" That that is a very striking melody ; I do not 
know the words." - 

11 It is ' The House of Clay.' The words are not mine ; 
they are some I fancied, and interpolated as in harmony 
with the spirit of the score. It is good of you to take 
so much interest." 

" Not at all " (with an access of coldness). " I delight 
in all talent, and I used to know your collaborator, 
Mr. Rexford. He is quite well? You hear often? 
Oh, of course not ; how could you from that distance ? " 
A few more polite trivialities in a sweet, even, uncon 
cerned tone, and she went away slowly, moving her 
graceful head from side to side, down the lane of pic 
tures. 

" I thank Heaven," he muttered, " for my small ac 
quaintance with these daughters of the gods. They 
chill a man, even when he regards them least. The 
frank 'give-and-take that loves for a day, a week, a 
year, I have known ; but the best of sweethearts is 
one's pipe. Yale Mixture is good enough for me ! " 
He stared at Holof ernes's ghastly head, and saw in its 
place a sudden wearisome panorama of a boyhood 
in Wales, embittered with harsh words and blows; 
dragged later hither and thither in travels where he was 
neglected and misused ; and then cruelly abandoned, 
and kept in life only through a Gipsy's pity. " I might 
have been different if fate Yes, they chill one." 

"Hello, Penrose ! " called an acquaintance, "you look 
as if you had seen a ghost. No wonder, if you persist 

in admiring that hideous Judith." 
12 



178 THE METROPOLITANS 

And this girl of manner so chilling was in a tumult 
of feeling going homeward, while she mechanically 
answered her cousin's remarks. "No," she told her 
self ; " no, no, no ! I will not buy his opera. If I hear 
those melodies it shall be by chance. I will punish 
myself that way, at least, that I was so eager to hear 
his name that I would stop to speak to a slight ac 
quaintance on the mere chance of hearing some news 
of him of him, who has perhaps forgotten me. And 
this good man devoted at my side, why must I deny 
him for a mere memory?" 

The Federlings came in that evening, with some 
thing of the freshness on them of their flight over 
seas. Angelica, after first greetings, began at once, 
with gay complacency : 

" My dear, you will be delighted to hear that papa 
and Otto are the greatest of chums. They talk chem 
istry and mining and such stuff until I am bored to 
death. But mamma well, Miss Lavender is summer 
heat to the way she tried to freeze him, and only 
thawed when she found he did n't mind at all. That 's 
the most delightful moldy old ruin of a place on the 
Rhine, with ivy and beetles all over it ; and inside the 
ten little frauleins, so kind and so friendly, and such 
good musicians and cooks ! I think they were rather 
shocked at my Worth gowns and command of pocket- 
money. I mean to have some of the dear creatures 
over here sometime ; but they will not like it. And 
Anastelle ! I gave that poor child some hints which 
may save her from any prowling De Vauriens. The 
Venetian glass ? Oh, yes, I am glad you liked it." 

Otto, who had been placidly awaiting his opportu- 



THE METROPOLITANS 179 

nity, approached Katherine with a flat package. " It is 
nothing foreign," he said ; " only the music of the new 
opera, bound, which is now out in Paris and London. 
There was nothing new more melodious, and my An 
gelica said you both knew the composer." She had 
not bought nor sought this music, though the melan 
choly minor strain of " The House of Clay " had been 
pursuing her since yesterday. He placed the book in 
the music-rack, and opened at that very place. " You 
will try this for me, will you not ? " It would be un 
gracious to refuse. She struck the opening chords 
mechanically. "It is against my will," she thought, 
and sang : 

" There was a House a House of Clay, 
Wherein the inmate sang all day, 

Merry and poor. 

For Hope sat, likewise, heart to heart, 
Vowing he never would depart ; 
Till, all at once, he changed his mind : 
'Sweetheart, good-by.' He slipped away 

And shut the door. 

" But Love came past, and, looking in 
With smiles that pierced like sunshine thin 

Through wall, roof, floor, 
Stood, in the midst of that poor room, 

Grand and fair, grand and fair, 
Making a glory out of gloom ; 

Till at the window mocked old Care. 
Love sighed : ' All lose, and nothing win ? ' 
He shut the door." 

She had sung steadily through this with clear voice, 
but it sank away on these last words. " You are too 
tired ! " cried Angelica. " Otto " (reproachfully), " when 



180 THE METROPOLITANS 

you reach that point of ecstasy over music that you 
stand with your mouth open, you would let a singer 
wear herself to death without noticing." 

" I am not so weak as that," said Katheriue, forcing 
a smile, and continuing : 

" Then o'er the barred House of Clay 
Kind jessamine and roses gay 

Grew evermore. 
And bees hummed merrily outside 

Loud and strong, loud and strong, 
The inner silentness to hide, 

The steadfast silence all day long ; 
Till evening touched, with finger gray, 
The close-shut door." 

But Angelica was now looking over her shoulder. 
" You must not sing the last verse," she said with de 
cision. " It is quite too sad, though the air is lovely. 
Otto, find something more cheerful. Katherine," 
she confided to Mr. Crofton, "is not looking as well 
as she ought, after all that travel. She is still griev 
ing, I am afraid." 

" She will soon feel the good effect of your cheerful 
society," said Mr. Crofton, politely, with whom Angel 
ica was not a favorite. 

" I don't know," she said abstractedly ; but Katherine 
had summoned a smile, and was playing something 
spirited; but her fingers were cold, and she hardly 
knew when the Federlings took their leave. For all 
these words, words, words suddenly seemed so idle 
when, even now, the long arctic darkness was closing 
around some one some one ; and a breath from that 
frozen region seemed to blow upon her as she sat there. 



THE METROPOLITANS 181 

It was not well for Reginald Crof ton that lie should 
have chosen just this time for the pressing of his suit. 
" Forgive me ! forgive me that I cannot ! " she pleaded 
quite piteously for the usually self-possessed maiden 
that he knew. "It was wicked even to think for a 
moment, as I confess I have done, of marrying you 
without a heart to give." 

" If I am satisfied" 

" No, no ! take my word that it can never be." 

" Never is a long day. But, Katherine, it is my last 
time of asking, for I am weary now of hanging about 
this dull town. If my patient months of waiting and 
serving are to count for nothing There was some 
thing grimly resentful in the regular lines of his hand 
some mouth, for he had grown restive in the suspense 
of the last year. 

" Oh, dear Reginald, forgive me/' was all she could 
find to say. And less than a month after he was on 
his way to Matabeleland, and his mother was listen 
ing to Archibald Pundit, who murmured sympatheti 
cally : 

"Ah, yes, my dear madam, these young men little 
know, don't you understand, what their restless love 
of wandering inflicts on those to whom they are dear. 
I feel, don't you know, with all my heart for your 
loneliness. Ah ! sometimes," he said, with a glance at 
unconscious Katherine, "cruel beauty is to blame in 
these matters." (Her aunt gave the girl the first cold 
look she had ever encountered from those mild eyes.) 
" There is Allan Rexford too, don't you remember of 
course you do 'Lotus-eaters' and that, don't you 
know. The rage, I believe, though I don't understand 
12* 



182 THE METROPOLITANS 

music and all that ; but a fine fellow, that I always 
liked and praised everywhere ; but would n't listen to 
a word against going off on some wild-goose chase, 
don't you know, among the icebergs. And nobody 
knows where he is, just when his mother most needs 
him ; for it was only yesterday, my dear madam, I had 
the duty of writing a letter of condolence to her on 
the unexpected demise of the nobleman, her husband." 
(He cast down his eyes decorously. It was not neces 
sary, and besides would be disrespectful to the British 
peerage, to relate to a lady the circumstances attending 
that nobleman's sudden taking off.) " I hope my letter 
may prove some small comfort to her. I have had 
lately a little experience in literary work." 

It was a fact that he condescended to furnish to the 
" Argus " some weekly obiter dicta on matters of form, 
which Penrose, on another page of the same great 
journal, ridiculed so subtly that most people took it 
for praise. 

" Do you mean to say that we are going to print 
these solemn platitudes regularly ? " asked Jenkins of 
his chief. 

"Where is wisdom and the place of understanding? 
Not in the depth, nor in the sea, nor yet in the great 
mass of newspaper readers. Mr. Pundit has many ad 
mirers, and he owes me the small revenge of watching 
him write himself down an ass," said he, and continued 
to print Mr. Pundit's mental wanderings with heb 
domadal regularity. 

In the meanwhile that gentleman's letter, which 
spoke of Lord Mellon's demise as a loss to the English 



THE METROPOLITANS 183 

nobility, and consequently to the civilized world, and 
suggested him as a model for the youth of his country, 
found and left the widow quite dry-eyed down in the 
seclusion of Oudenarde. She had, indeed, been alone 
there for many months before the lamentable event 
which caused the coming down from London of a 
special funeral train ; when, with solemn pageant of 
woe, the body of Frederick, Lord Mellon, was laid 
away with his forefathers, who could not rise up to 
protest, nor yet to accept him as a weak copy, with 
modern limitations, of the brilliant, dashing, venal, 
and unscrupulous founder of the family. His long 
absence had been a sensible relief to Lady Mellon, 
absorbed in her little son, on whom her ambitions 
were staked ; and she was scornfully aware that the 
stroke which ended him came while he drove in Hyde 
Park under the lace parasol of a chorus-girl. " How 
horrid ! " the latter said, when told that her escort was 
quite dead. " He might 'a' taken me 'ome first ! " But 
she made a duty of composing herself before the even 
ing operetta. 

And Lady Mellon, calm, stately, and unmoved, gave 
her approval to a Latin inscription to be placed in the 
village church, which celebrated the virtues and noble 
deeds of the " warrior, statesman, husband, father, and 
friend." The list of his recent debts was handed her 
later, and, though she had had much experience in this 
line, it amazed even her. The long some said pur 
poselydelayed letters from the Queen, confirming 
renewal of the title of Marquis of Gourdes to the little 
heir, coming now, made her heart swell with pride. 



184 THE METROPOLITANS 

But the child had grown very delicate in the last year 
or two, and was but a fragile little reed on which to 
lean such weighty hopes. If she thought at all of the 
strong arm and warm heart of the other son, wander 
ing on distant ice-fields, she gave no sign. 



XV 




P in the great frozen, silent North this son 
walked now in perpetual snows. The 
haunting care which had dogged his steps 
in city streets was doubtless at his elbow 
here, or lay in wait across each crackling 
ice- waste or behind each shimmering berg to mock at 
his heartache ; but the outside world was so dazzling 
in its strangeness, so novel in its magnificence, that 
it must, perforce, distract the outer sense, and almost 
convince one that the planet was left behind where 
weakness and passion cloud the air, and one attained 
where all was fine and pure and clear. 

That is, Rexford amended the thought, if one might 
be alone with nature. But after a long sledging tour 
over the lakes, or a tramp on snow-shoes through the 
drifts, the wings of exaltation would be suddenly 
clipped, and he knew he was on earth by finding the 
Eskimo driver quarreling over his share of seal meat ; 
or Dr. Ritler, good fellow as he was, disposed to find 
fault with things unavoidable. The little party was 
now ensconced in winter quarters ; a carefully con 
structed house of fair dimensions, near the frozen 
fiord, and sheltered as far as might be by immense 
cliffs to the north. Through a break in these had 

185 



186 THE METROPOLITANS 

Rexford returned only yesterday from a long sledge 
journey. This was to be the last long trip until the 
sun should return to them, for on this October day he 
would leave them for all the dark winter. Rexford, 
restless on this last day of light, had left the station 
and climbed the hills at some distance for a better 
view. It was cloudy, but through a rift here and there 
broke gleams which gilded the high snow-peaks, while 
the low-lying valleys lay in deep shadow. Then a 
wind sprang up which tossed and tumbled the clouds 
hither and thither, and gave a dissolving view of a 
crag or hilltop here, and again of the harbor and the 
outer bay there ; and the sun painted them in strange 
and varying and fitful colors, as the wind and the 
clouds would let him. The snow crackled under a 
light footfall behind Rexford, and he let his eyes 
wander for a moment from these marvels to Jasmina 
stopping beside him. She was not in the least breath 
less from the climb, but the exertion had brought a 
deeper tint into her olive cheek, that was a little less 
round, perhaps, than it had been, and her bright dark 
eyes had a wistfulness now and then which it might 
have hurt the absent Penrose to notice. She wore her 
short crimson blanket skirt, tanned top-boots, sealskin 
jacket, hood, and mittens with the same distinction 
with which she had formerly borne her silk attire. 
Indeed, her hand rested on the cartridge-belt and re 
volver at her waist with an ease bespeaking delight at 
escaping from civilization's restraints. But alas for 
the Romany girl that it was to these ice-fields rather 
than her native greenwood that her heart had led her ! 
Some shadowy thought of the kind must have crossed 



THE METROPOLITANS 187 

Rexford's mind in looking at her now, for he said ab 
ruptly, " It is as much a surprise to me each time as 
it was the first to see you here, Jasmina as though 
I should meet a humming-bird perched on a floe, or 
find a field of passion-flowers in the north valley." 

"Yes," she answered simply, "it is strange to be 
here in all this whiteness and barrenness and coldness ; 
but I am glad I came." 

" You are not homesick ? " 

"Oh, homesick! I never had any special home. 
The home is where the heart well, you know. Dr. 
and Mrs. Ritler are so kind. I should tell them who 
I am, but what does it matter, if I too love adventure 
like them ? I do my share of work." 

"Indeed you do" (warmly). "You certainly earn 
your share in such glory as any of us is likely to get 
up here, and in the little cubbyhole each one calls his 
own indoors. I don't see how Mrs. Ritler could have 
done without you at all ; but she must think us very 
good friends on very short notice." 

She gave him a long look which he did not see, as 
he was once more observing the magnificent panorama 
before him. A patch of yellow sunlight on a cliff 
across the bay drew his attention to a moving object 
there. " Is it a fox," he asked, " or a white hare ? " 

" More likely a little brent-goose or an ivory gull ; 
they have not all gone south yet. That light mist 
floating about magnifies things so. The pack of wolves 
that came visiting us while you were gone, why, they 
seemed musk-oxen at least for size." 

" Ah, yes ; I am told you distinguished yourself then, 
Jasmina, being the only light-foot that succeeded in 



188 THE METROPOLITANS 

getting near enough for a shot ; but they should not 
have let you try. I hear there were twenty gaunt, 
hungry-looking brutes at that." 

" Oh " (lightly), " there was no risk ; they ran away, 
so that we only got the body of the one I wounded 
after chasing him for ever so far. If they had been 
walruses, now" (roguishly). 

He smiled too, but more gravely, not liking to re 
member the peril the two women had been in. It was 
he and the Eskimo who had taken her and Mrs. Ritler 
out in a kayak before the harbor ice was firm, and had 
harpooned a walrus which had dragged the boat 
through the new ice into a whole school of the mon 
sters. It was something to put away for use as a 
nightmare, that memory of the swarming huge heads 
and grinding tusks and glaring, fierce eyes of the hun 
dred and more furious brutes ; and the smoke of the 
incessant crack of the guns which the women steadily 
loaded and passed to them ; and the tilting boat which 
the whirling, plunging mass of driving beasts threat 
ened every moment to sink. 

The pearl-gray cloud-masses sundered, showing col 
ors of vivid orange and gorgeous red ; then slowly 
rolled back, curtain-wise, and over the grand arctic 
scene burst the crimson sunshine, rosing mountains, 
cliffs, and bay for the last time this year. They were 
silent and breathless until the red faded into yellow, 
and that into light gray once more. 

"See," then cried Rexford, "my fox or hare has 
turned into a bird, as you said. It is coming this 
way." He unslung his rifle as the bird flew through 
the sharp air toward them. 



THE METROPOLITANS 189 

" No, no," she said, her hand on his arm ; " let it go." 

" As you say " (somewhat surprised), " but I thought 
you would like a shot yourself. It may be the last for 
some time. In the twilight that has come their white 
winter uniform makes bird and beast invisible." 

" To think," she said, with soft impressiveness, " that 
a month ago we shot those ptarmigans in brown and 
black feathers, and now they have put on a spotless 
white plumage." 

" We are in a wonderful white country up here," he 
answered lightly. " Perhaps all the dusky plumes of 
our past will slip away from us too, and our souls take 
on snowy pinions like the birds, to match the universal 
whiteness." At the same moment he remembered 
calling Katherine once "the wings of his soul," and 
knew that in coming hither to escape poignant regrets 
he had done a vain thing. 

And Jasmina thought suddenly of a camp-fire and 
clashing cymbals, and angry words and oaths and 
shouts, and the flash of knives and a downward blow 
and stillness ! And then of orchestral strains that 
stirred the blood, and glancing feet, and wild applause, 
and wealth of blossoms and warm-scented bowers. 
But she had no regrets, and said quite simply, " I am 
not sure I have a soul. But it is no matter ; I have a 
heart to feel with." 

"But not much light to see with," he said, with 
forced jesting. For now the pale yellow had given 
place everywhere to a light gray, and that to one 
deeper and darker of hue. "The arctic night has 
come. Let us go down. Give me your hand, Jasmina. 
In the half-light it is easy to fall on these slopes." 



190 THE METROPOLITANS 

Across the hills came Dr. Ritler and his wife, who, 
from a farther height, had also watched the going of 
the sun. "Your companion, my dear," he said, at 
sight of Jasmina, "grows prettier and more girlish 
every day. One a trifle older and plainer would have 
suited our purpose as well. Do you, perhaps, spoil 
her a little?" 

" It will not hurt," said his strong, capable, sensible 
wife. " She is a great help, with all her prettiness. 
There was no rush of older, plainer applicants." She 
went into the house with Jasmina. 

" You should have been with us, Mr. Rexf ord," called 
the professor. "Our point overlooked the bay, and 
before the light went we saw gamboling and snorting 
about the ice-cakes forty or more white whales the 
last of the season, I fancy." 

" I had my gun ; I wish I 'd been with you," said 
Rexford, with unmistakable regret, which seemed to 
remove a misgiving of the professor's. "And look 
there ! I appear to have missed everything ! " 

The eager young college graduate who had come 
with them as astronomer and photographer had been 
out in a kayak with Jens to paddle. They were com 
ing now from the other side, excited over something, 
which was presently seen to be a reindeer, and the 
soun d of shots came through the clear air. The animal 
was wounded, killed perhaps, for, after struggling 
along the ice-foot, it fell, half in, half out, of the water. 
They approached it, taking extraordinary pains not 
to lose game so late in the season. Down below Jas 
mina came out of the house, and, taking a horn hang 
ing there, blew a blast to recall wanderers ; and the 



THE METROPOLITANS 191 

sound, thrown from cliff to cliff, echoed and reechoed 
until it sank into silence. Then, awaiting them, she 
took a broom and swept off the few steps leading from 
indoors. Her movements were as graceful in this as 
they had ever been before the footlights ; and the shed 
and supports of the lean-to made a frame for the slight, 
crimson-clad figure. The surgeon, also a botanist, 
came from the rear of the house, the tin case over his 
shoulder filled with the specimens he had been collect 
ing in the valley. Her clear laugh at some jest of his 
reached faintly and pleasantly to where they stood. 

" Our maid," said Dr. Eitler, " is unusual in every 
way. Mrs. Eitler reports her very helpful, but quite 
indifferent as to compensation present or future. If 
we had had more time I might have doubted the wis 
dom of bringing her. Is n't it rather extraordinary 
that a young and beautiful girl should be attracted by 
the hardships of polar adventure ? " 

" Women prefer to do unusual things at this end of 
the century," said Rexford, shortly. " I am not young 
enough to pretend to understand them." The hard 
ness in his tone was evoked by quite another than 
Jasmina. As for her, after his first shock of unpleased 
surprise at this unexpected link with the life he had 
desired to leave quite behind him, he had taken her 
presence very much as a matter of course. "Well," 
he resumed more pleasantly, " if she does not freeze 
up here, fragile as she looks, she will always be com 
pany for Mrs. Ritler when we are away ; and when we 
get down to scant rations she will keep up the spirits 
of the youngsters." 

"No fear of that," cried the professor, cheerily. 



192 THE METEOPOLITANS 

" There is ample provision for our comfort until the 
ship comes for us in the spring. Our high thinking 
is to be done on high living." 

As they approached the house the kayak had been 
beached, and the Eskimo and the boys were bringing 
the carcass of the deer up the path. Again Jasmina, 
laughing, sounded the horn. " These delays must be 
frowned on," said Mrs. Ritler, as they all came troop 
ing in. " I have been indulgent in the beginning, but 
mean to enforce strict attention to meal-time for the 
sake of Mina's culinary triumphs and my own." She 
surveyed the little table in the common dining- and 
living-room with pardonable pride ; for it was quite 
homelike with unbleached table-cloth and napkins, 
and gay with the arctic poppies the surgeon had 
brought Jasmina. 

"You will have us with you more than you wish, 
perhaps," said her husband, "now that the sun has 
gone." 

"I believe you," laughed Mrs. Ritler, "for needs 
must." 




XVI 

the living-room, within doors, a great 
Rochester lamp shed its needed rays over 
the little group busily occupied in their 
daytime labors. 

"I think," said Dr. Ritler, standing 
back to admire the effect of the last piece of red blan 
keting tacked up to form ceiling and wall covering, " that 
our tapestry is something as unique as pleasantly warm 
in tone. I envy no monarch his palace or its hangings, 
now that this last heavy snowfall has given us such a 
comfortable thatch. We need not desire a cozier home." 
The photographer, arranging some negatives at a table, 
looked up and smiled approvingly. " Now," continued 
he, " here are some weeks of the longest, darkest days 
away, and they have seemed as bright as bright as 
our Mina, for instance." He beamed paternally on that 
graceful creature's opportune appearance, broom in 
hand, to clear up the litter he had made. She helped 
him skilfully to hang up the flags, with which, on this 
white arctic Christmas eve, the walls were to be further 
decorated. 

"Is it a wild songster of the woods or a foreign 
bird of Paradise that we have tamed into a household 
joy ? " he had asked his wife once or twice lately. " Both, 
w 193 



194 THE METEOPOLITANS 

perhaps," she had answered lightly, without imagining 
that she spoke the truth. She had been won from the 
first by the girl's charm, and to this little band, so far 
from conventionalities, Jasmina's lightness of hand and 
foot, and deftness in household tasks, and pleasant voice 
and smile were treasures in sunless days and long arctic 
evenings. 

" Come out," called the professor, now, tapping on 
the partition from behind which came appetizing odors. 
" Leave Mina there and come with me to the dogs' igloo. 
It is time to feed them, and Jens is at the fox-traps. 
Rexf ord and the boys should be in now with the sledge 
with the ice, for the water is nearly out." He and his 
wife passed out toward the dogs' snow house, where the 
animals might soon have been heard growling and fight 
ing over their food, and indoors the photographer and 
Jasmina pursued their avocation ; but presently Jens 
thrust in his shaggy head and called to the former. He 
went out at once, closing this and the outer door, but 
through them came to Jasmina a great hubbub of voices. 
Her unreasoning heart leaped to the conclusion that 
some one Rexford, perhaps had returned hurt from 
cutting ice. There was no time for the usual outdoor 
toilet ; she caught up a great fur robe and, wrapping 
it round her, ran out in the snow. Instinct took her 
along the beaten path for a while, but, though it should 
have been a moon-lit day, the sky was heavily over 
clouded and she could not see a step in advance. In 
the direction of the dogs' house there was the sound 
of barking, and far down the path, past the Eskimo 
igloo in which lived Jens, two or three lanterns glim 
mered and moved to and fro with the group there, 



THE METROPOLITANS 195 

whose voices came to her. She directed her course, 
as she thought, toward them, but in her haste swerved 
to the left, and then, with a misstep, stumbled and 
rolled down the snow-bank, coming with force upon 
the ice-foot. Stunned at first, she found herself un 
able to cry out and became very weak. Then the group 
passed along on the pathway above, their lanterns 
swinging, and she could hear them laughing and 
speaking of a white fox caught in Jens's trap, which 
had been the cause of his excitement. She distin 
guished Rexford's vibrant tones saying, "Best time 
yet to bring in a load of ice from the two-mile berg. 
Doctor, you and I are the record-breakers ; it is just 
noon." 

"How can you tell," some one asked, "until we get 
in to the lamp ? You cannot see the face of your watch 
at noon now, and your lantern 's out. Jens, get on ; 
that 's a fierce gust blowing up." After that she re 
membered nothing. 

The men were all busied for a while removing out 
door wraps, and it was not until Mrs. Ritler had heated 
the stew again and was about to place it on the lunch- 
table that she suddenly exclaimed, -" And where is Mina 
all this time?" 

" I left her here," said the photographer. 

The professor promptly went out, and after calling 
once or twice tramped to Jens's igloo, from which he 
came to say she had not been there. The wind was 
now howling and hurtling against the outer wall which 
formed a protected passage around the house. 

" We must look for her," exclaimed Rexford. He 
and the surgeon were already pulling on the snow- wet 



196 THE METROPOLITANS 

outer furs just discarded. The latter was the first out, 
lantern in hand, and Rexf ord close behind him. They 
went hither and thither, knee-deep in snow, about the 
house, which, with its superincumbent load, looked like 
a great snow-hill, with the lower white mounds of the 
igloos close beside. When they met each other on the 
foot-path the surgeon's face looked wild and anxious 
under his hood. " Mina ! Mina ! " he tried to shout, 
but in this boisterous wind his voice reached but a few 
paces. 

" She may have gone down the foot-path and fallen," 
shouted Rexf ord. He went ahead, flashing his lantern 
over every foot of snow, and at last observed where it 
was beaten down on one side, where she had stumbled 
and slipped. Scrambling down the embankment, he 
saw her form outstretched. He waved his lantern to 
the surgeon, then spoke to her, and, receiving no an 
swer, stooped and picked her up. The surgeon reached 
them breathless, having fallen once or twice in his haste. 
" Give her to me," he said abruptly. 

" Let 's get her in first," replied Rexf ord, as shortly. 
" Take my light too. There 's the bank to climb." 

Up this they went, breasting the wind and snow. 
On the pathway she opened her eyes, saw Rexford's 
face close to hers, and murmured, "You were not hurt, 
then ? I was frightened. I ran out to see." The sur 
geon did not hear her words, but he saw her smile at 
her bearer before she closed her eyes again, and he 
ground his teeth. So strangely rough was his manner 
to Rexford, in some few necessary directions about the 
patient on entering, that even the professor was struck 
by it. 



THE METROPOLITANS 197 

" Shall we have a little drama of love and jealousy 
up here in the frozen zone ? " he asked his wife, jocosely. 

" I hope/' she answered severely, " that we have left 
all that nonsense behind us." She had suffered as keen 
anxiety as he for the safety of their pretty Hungarian, 
but her nerves began to feel the reaction and the 
ptarmigan stew had again grown cold. She was 
heartily glad the girl was not seriously hurt, but she 
steeled herself against the grateful look in Jasmina's 
great soft eyes when she closed them like a tired, 
bruised child after her ministrations. " I shall keep 
her busier than ever," she resolved sternly, " and the 
spring will soon be back." But when the long after 
noon and night's rest restored Jasmina, and with the 
coming of Christmas morning she was herself again, 
moving at her side all sympathy and warm helpf ulness. 
she thought no more of these perplexities, but was glad 
of such deft aid in perfecting their little festive arrange 
ments. Late in rising, the two women were yet first 
in moving about softly in the morning of the holiday, 
decking as prettily as possible the table for the noon 
day breakfast, at which the little party exchanged their 
merry greetings. Dr. Andersen had brought all the 
way from Uppernivik a little box of holly, carefully 
waxed and kept, and Jasmina, accepting it, placed a 
spray in her bodice and her dark hair and watched for 
its effect on Rexford, whose eyes, indeed, were with 
his thoughts this festive day, and that was far away. 
To haul ice, help train the dogs, hunt, do anything 
conducive to dreamless sleep, was well enough, but 
these holidays were trying. He gave a sort of groan 
When breakfast was at length over, hastening then to 

13* 



198 THE METROPOLITANS 

thank Mrs. Ritler for a pretty card, the only possible 
exchange of gifts up here. Jasmina's to him was 
wrapped in tissue-paper ; it contained her own picture, 
smiling and glowing in Zora's Gipsy dress. His heart 
smote him, remembering her aid in his success. " Good 
Lord ! " he thought bitterly, " by what spite of human 
nature is it that a man should let the unattainable 
always spoil the present? Why cannot I make bet 
ter return for these women's friendliness than by a 
gloomy face ? " He kissed her hand under Mrs. Hitler's 
eyes. 

" That was a famous triumph for us both, and I still 
owe you much for my share." 

She laughed happily, and turned with her old soft 
daring to Mrs. Ritler. "He flatters," she said. "I 
was the prima donna, but another could have done as 
much with that music, he knows very well." 

Mrs. Ritler looked from one to the other bewildered ; 
but she had almost expected something like this. 

" She sings, and has never sung for us at all ! " 

Jasmina flushed. She had waited for Rexford to ask 
her, fancying, without knowing why, that he and music 
were at odds. " I will tell you all about it soon," she 
said to Mrs. Ritler. 

" The table looks very nice. All may go now for a 
tramp. It will give you appetites." 

Outside the walking party started for their tramp on 
snow-shoes. A clear moon lighted the midday sky. 
The two lads, going ahead, called back that they would 
best keep to the beaten track, the snow-drifts being so 
deep. Dr. Ritler kept his big pipe glowing and smok 
ing between his teeth as he strode on. " How heavenly 



THE METROPOLITANS 199 

fair the cliffs and bergs and all this whiteness show in 
the silvery light ! " muttered the big man, to whom poetry 
and tobacco were the breath of Me. The wonderful 
landscape was nothing to Dr. Andersen. He knelt in 
the snow, pretending to find something wrong with his 
ski, so that he might linger until Rexford and Jas- 
mina came up. But the path was narrow for three, 
and she was too joyously decided as to who her com 
panion should be to make the manoeuver worth while. 
He went on in sullenness, and answered at random the 
professor's stray remarks, while the crisp air brought 
back to him, as if in mockery, the youngsters' roars of 
laughter and scraps of college songs. A line or two 
of " The Son of a Gambolier " recalled to Rexford a 
night in New York, with a noisy troop of students 
shouting along the pavement, and Penrose standing 
beside him. 

" I beg your pardon ; I was not listening." 

"I was only saying," Jasmina laughed, "that you 
might smoke if you liked." She looked like a small 
bundle of furs, so enveloped was she in her long Jcoo- 
letah; but her bright face peeped out from the fur hood, 
little chin and rosy lips pursed up, and great eyes 
dancing. 

" Take care ! " He held out a f ur-mittened hand as 
she slipped. She laid hers on it a moment, then with 
drew it. " No, I am not going to take help. Dr. Ritler 
tells me I am improving wonderfully in snow-shoe 
walking." 

" Is there anything those light, clever little feet can 
not do ? " 

She laughed again, a tinkling, silvery laugh on the 



200 THE METROPOLITANS 

frosty air, with a wistful note which came from the 
heart's great yearning for a word of tenderness rather 
than compliment. They went on for a few moments 
in silence. 

" It seems a long time," she said then, hesitatingly, 
" since I have danced, and none of us sing any more." 

He did not tell her that he had shrunk from all re 
minders of that art, his mistress, only less fair and 
adored than one other with whom he connected her. 
But something in her tone touched him and recalled 
Penrose once more. 

"Why should you not sing and dance sometimes? 
You will electrify the doctor and Mrs. Ritler ; the boys 
will be quite wild with delighted wonder ; as for the 
Norwegian surgeon, his case will be past praying 
for." 

" Oh ! Dr. Andersen " (shrugging her shoulders as 
well as she could under the furs). "Would you like 
it?" 

"Jasmina," he answered gently, "when one has a 
little comrade like you, who has helped him gallantly 
pn occasion, he likes whatever she chooses to do." 

They met the others now at the foot of the hill, and 
the racing, shouting, laughing, and talking were gen 
eral on the way back. "Upon my word," cried Mrs. 
Ritler, as they came in on her, full of Christmas merri 
ment and rosy from the cold air, " I might have believed, 
from the uproar, that it was a band of wild revelers 
rather than one little white company ! " She was in 
her best black silk to receive them, and wore a smile 
of housewifely complacency, justified by the profuse 
compliments paid her. 



THE METROPOLITANS 201 

" You look lovely, my dear," said her husband, with 
enthusiasm, " and so does the table." 

" Hear, hear ! " cried the young men, who presently 
did full justice to this Christmas feast, for which she 
had exhausted the resources of her arctic larder. 

Rexford, to whom the Christmas mood had not 
come, found himself wondering at the light-hearted- 
ness of the two youngest men, now playing tricks of 
legerdemain with the wine-glasses. He noticed indif 
ferently that Jasmina had not, like Mrs. Ritler, paid 
them the compliment of a special toilet, though she 
still wore in bodice and hair the holly the surgeon had 
given her ; and he thought of the radiant creature, as 
he had so often seen her, in full dress at evening func 
tions such as this, but in civilized confines. Yet her 
early life, from stray bits of information accorded by 
herself or Penrose, had been more unconventional than 
this until she had burst into full splendor. And now, 
after such varied and final brilliancy of career, to be 
trying once more her Gipsy skill in cooking for the 
little group up here under the polar moon it was like 
the fabric of a vision. 

"Will you kindly pass the nut-crackers, Rexford," 
said Dr. Ritler, "unless you want all the nuts your 
self?" 

"Certainly; they were of no use to me with the 
special nut on which I was engaged." 

" Drop it, then," counseled Mrs. Ritler, with a half- 
meaning. She was of opinion, this practical, clear 
headed woman, that singleness of purpose, and no 
sentimental complications, best suited the purpose of 
the Ritler expedition. And Rexford, filling his pipe 



202 THE METROPOLITANS 

and puffing great volumes of smoke, did not know that 
while Mrs. Ritler was clearing the table and laying out 
the wine and tobacco Jasmina had disappeared. Dr. 
Ritler came in, stamping the snow off in the outer 
passage. "Ha! this is cozy," he declared. "Jens is 
fed, and so are the dogs. Nothing to do for the even 
ing but smoke and talk. To think that it marks fifty 
below zero outside ! Rexf ord, have you been tamper 
ing with my pet pipe ? I thought you would hardly 
be so mean in this latitude. Why Mina ! " 

The others stared without a word, except the astron 
omer's muttered " By Jove ! " Jasmina advanced into 
a clear space where the big lamp's luminous rays fell 
full upon her black hair, hanging down in two long 
braids, crowned with a carelessly knotted scarlet hand 
kerchief. Her dress was Zero's Hungarian costume. 
Her eyes glowed like coals ; she smiled, swaying slightly 
from side to side, her upraised fingers clicking castanets. 
She hummed the opening bars of Zorcts first song. Rex- 
ford winced ; not even when off hunting, with no one 
but Jens or quite alone, covering with the swift snow- 
shoe trackless wastes, with moon-lit noon sky overhead, 
had he ventured to recall these melodies, interwoven as 
they were with hopes laid low. Now, meeting an anx 
ious look from Jasmina's eyes, he thought, "This is 
a mere weakness," and picked up the ineffective guitar 
which the young astronomer had been ill treating and 
had dropped on the girl's appearance. He gave the 
strings a bold sweep, while its owner called, " Lightly, 
old boy," and Zora stood, poised, expectant. 

Then, with no orchestra but this and the beating of 
the wind and snow outside, and no background of 



THE METROPOLITANS 203 

scenery but the red color of the blanket hangings 
brought out by the lamp-glow, the slow, undulating 
measure of the czardas was paced. The tune grew 
faster and faster, and the fantastic and barbarically at 
tractive strains kept growing more rapid with her fly 
ing feet. So perfect was her art and the charm of the 
melody that a vision of the woods and tents, camp-fires 
with old crones in attendance, nimble-footed girls danc 
ing to clashing cymbals, swarthy men playing cards 
and quarreling, and love-making seemed to come over 
them. Suddenly the dancer stopped and stood quite 
still, her arms straight down at her sides, her bosom 
heaving, her lips still smiling. It had been so great a 
surprise to every one but Rexford that only he spoke 
now, saying simply, " That was very lovely, and we 
thank you." 

" Lovely ! " cried Dr. Ritler, finding his voice ; " it is 
fine, superb, wonderful ! " 

" Lovely," said his wife. She was still bewildered. 
Dr. Andersen, enraptured, called " Brava! bravissima ! " 
leading a volley of applause. But Jasmina had re 
marked the shade of reserve in Mrs. Ritler^s tone, and 
ran to her now, taking her hand. 

" See, now ; if you do not like it I will not do it. 
I only care for you for a few people to love me. I 
thought only it was a holiday ; it might amuse you all." 

" My dear," said the elder woman, touched, " it was 
beautiful. I was only wondering where you could have 
learned to dance so perfectly as that." 

She laughed. " Where do the birds learn to sing ? 
But I will not deny some help from the conservatory 
too. Mr. Raixfore will tell you." 



204 THE METROPOLITANS 

He was softly tuning and tinkling on the guitar 
strings, but rose at once and, bowing, said, " Permit me 
to introduce Madame Jasmina Vaskaros of the world, 
I imagine. Certainly the star of an opera which I had 
the honor of presenting to the public, and whose suc 
cess was largely due to her ! " There was a great clap 
ping of hands, in which the Norwegian did not join, 
but looked with frowning brow at Rexford. " Now the 
wedding-dance," called the latter. His blood stirred to 
the music ; a certain excitement replaced the gloom of 
the earlier day. He leaned on the partition, well in the 
shadow, playing the opening bars. Again she glided 
and swayed and glanced here and there the appeal 
ing, delighted look of a child in the eyes which had 
gazed indifferently on brilliant audiences. 

"I am so glad you all like it," she said, with her 
pretty accent. She need be no longer on the defensive 
against heartless adulation or insolent homage. This 
was a friendly little group. The spiritual nature, of 
which she was unconscious, poor child ! seemed to soften 
and grow. If only Stephen were here too ! 

Rexford twanged the guitar, humming a refrain from 
" The Lotus-eaters." With breath recovered, she took 
it up and joined in the duet. 

" That you should not both have sung before ! " cried 
Dr. Ritler. " Now our winter will be short indeed." 

Jasmina had sat down ; her hands folded in her lap, 
her long braids hanging to the floor, the glow still on 
her cheeks. But the languor of reaction was in her 
manner. She hummed suggestively, 

"There was a House a House of Clay," 



THE METROPOLITANS 205 

looking at Rexford, and he played the opening chords, 
and the minor strains rose sweet and full. 

The quiet that had fallen on them with her spell of 
woven paces and of waving hands was even deeper 
now. The wind had fallen, and the dogs slept in their 
snow igloo, with an occasional sharp bark in their 
dreams. Illimitable wastes of snow and ice surrounded 
them outside, while within was the circle of rosy light 
in which the singer's figure showed in relief against 
dark shadows as she sang, 

"For Hope sat, likewise, heart to heart," 
and then, 

"'Sweetheart, good-by.' He slipped away 
And shut the door. 

Not the last verse on Christmas night," she said, 
stopping there. 

" It is sad," said Rexford, and laid down the guitar. 

The Norwegian had hardly spoken all evening, but, 
frowning, tugged at his fair mustache. "It is your 
opera," he asked, "which madame used to sing?" 

"Madame did me that honor" (coolly). 

" Oh, no madame here," cried the girl. " Every one, 
every one," stretching out her arms and laughing, 
"may call me Jasmina." 

" And as we have come back to earth," said the pro 
fessor, "we will drink your health by that name in 
egg-nog." 

" It is my part, then, to beat the eggs," she cried, 
hastening to assist Mrs. Ritler, and the evening closed 
in a joyous clatter and confusion. 

"Christmas is over," said Mrs. Ritler, as the tiny 



206 THE METROPOLITANS 

clock on the improvised book-shelf struck midnight ; 
" and soon winter will be over ; and the Meteor will be 
here again for us, and we shall sail home again." 

"As for me," declared Jasmina, the soft flush still 
burning in her cheek, " I like it up here ; I should love 
to stay always." 




XVII 

ANOTHER Lenten season had come and 
gone in New York, and Mr. Jenkins 
gravely assured his friends that a slight 
decrease perceptible in his flesh was due 
to a too rigorous observance of its rules. 
" Perhaps it was over-zealous in me," he admitted, " to 
take tonics to increase my appetite and then mortify 
it by starving. But we society men are like that" 
(with affected languor) "always in extremes." 

" If beer and ale are tonics," growled the stock-re 
porter, " I saw you take them to an unlimited extent ; 
but I didn't notice the fasting afterward." 
" My good man, do I live at the Chimes ? " 
" Between there and your tenement, wherever it is. 
Oh, I forgot. ' The Miller ' must have brought you in 
a trifle. Perhaps you have a castle up the Hudson." 
"Do you bite your thumb at me, sir?" (haughtily). 
" Talking of society men," interrupted Penrose, " I 
wish, Jenkins, you would go up and interview Mr. 
Pundit before he starts." 

Jenkins followed him into his office with a stare and 
frown which might have been more effective but for 
pale-blue eyes and flaxen brows. 

"Why should I go ? Let one of the youngsters see 

207 



208 THE METROPOLITANS 

him. They 're good enough for old Archie. Suppose 
he asks who wrote that article in which he was alluded 
to as a living contradiction to the law anent nature's 
abhorring a vacuum ? It was on the opposite page from 
his weekly maunderings, and must have stared him in 
the face when he read them over, as of course he does." 

" Oh, tell him that in a paper as large as ours yon can't 
keep up with every one's news ; that you '11 inquire and 
have the author called down ; tell him anything." 

"Very well," said Jenkins, lapsing into indifferent 
whistling as he clapped his hat on the back of his head 
before descending. 

" An invaluable man in his way," reflected Penrose, 
sorting his papers methodically ; " but very weak to 
let these stupid paragraphers make his work as uneven 
as it has been lately." 

His eye fell on the file of exchanges, in which he 
remembered such lines as these : " It is quite time the 
Meteor was heard from. If unable from any cause 
to send reassuring messages, she should return in time 
for another relief vessel to start." " There is no cause 
for anxiety, as some suppose, about the Ritler expedi 
tion. It was clearly understood before the departure 
of Dr. Ritler that he was provisioned for one winter 
only; but there are said to be large caches in his 
neighborhood, though he is unlikely to need them 
with the relief vessel already on its way." 

"Jenkins lets these croakings of uninformed scrib 
blers disquiet him unduly." The keen-eyed editor went 
on with his work. 

And Jenkins whistled in the elevator on his way to 
Mr. Pundit's apartment, which was a rash thing to do 



THE METROPOLITANS 209 

in this elegant and rigidly correct atmosphere, and 
called Mr. Pundit to his door with a look of strong 
protest on his countenance. He softened somewhat 
when Jenkins, note -book in hand, and an air of rapt 
attention, was seated opposite him. 

"Yes, yes; I go abroad this week by the Elmira, 
you may say. I have not visited Europe in two years 
now, and there are certain distinguished attentions 
paid me from the other side social debts, you under 
standwhich should be acknowledged in person, don't 
you perceive. Yes, yes ; as you say, it will be a little 
hard for our set to spare me. But I have been down 
to Newport for the last ten days, you see, making up 
the season's program. By this arrangement, don't 
you know, they may be able to do without me for a 
short while. A touch of hereditary gout forces me to 
try Carlsbad for a time. I hope, my dear young man " 
(with condescension), " that you may never have that 
reason for travel." 

" I have that down," said Mr. Jenkins, innocently. 

"No, no," coloring slightly; "that was merely a 
reflection by the way, don't you perceive." 

"Until August?" 

" Not " (composing himself afresh in a stately atti 
tude and twirling his monocle) " at Carlsbad all that 
time, though the waters are most highly commended. 
I am told that the Duke of Wellington once tried 
them ; and they are honored at present by many of 
the princes and princesses of Europe drinking them. 
The Prince of Wales himself, don't you know, has ex 
pressed his august approval of their value. Lady 
Mellon writes me that she intends trying the waters 

14 



210 THE METEOPOLITANS 

for the little Marquis of Gourdes. So, you see, I am 
safe as to society, you perceive. There was a little 
matter I intended mentioning to the editor himself, 
had he called." Mr. Pundit's tone implied that a slight 
had been put upon him by Jenkins's presence instead, 
but the latter still smiled blandly. " Instead of my 
usual weekly article, I thought of letting the ' Argus ' 
have, from on board (I am fortunate in immunity from 
seasickness)" 

" I should think so," murmured Jenkins, admiringly. 

"Letting the 'Argus' have a trifle a poem, let us 
say inspired by the ocean voyage, and written in 
pterodactyls." 

" In pterodactyls ? " repeated Jenkins, doubtfully. 

" Certainly, sir " (sharply) ; " that is what I said in 
pterodactyls. It is a measure I prefer, you under 
stand." 

The reporter asked Mr. Pundit how to spell the 
word, and wrote it down carefully, muttering, " Can 
such things be, and overcome us like a summer cloud ? " 
The spirit of malice now gamboling unchecked within 
him further incited him, on taking leave, to lay upon 
the table a card which had been thrust into his own 
hand on the street below, with the remark, "As you 
are parting from your friends for a time, Mr. Pundit, 
this may be of interest to you." It was a photogra 
pher's card, with a hideous tintype attached, bearing 
the legend : " This is what we aim at. "We pose you 
in picture, or write you in song, for five cents, in five 
minutes." 

"Adams," said Mr. Pundit, with deep disgust, after 
ringing for his man, "take that thing away. And, 



THE METROPOLITANS 211 

Adams, you might open a window for a while. I 
wonder why the ' Argus ' sends such persons here. I 
shall mention it to the editor." 

A highly embellished account of the interview ap 
peared under the heading, " Pundit in Pterodactyls." 
"But you will find it a boomerang, just the same," 
prophesied Penrose. And, indeed, it did dampen Mr. 
Jenkins's delight a little to find the other papers de 
claring that it was the " Argus," and not Mr. Pundit, 
who did not know any better. 

About the time society was suffering an eclipse of 
that distinguished writer's countenance Katherine de 
Mansur was talking quietly to her aunt by the fireside 
in her little morning-room. " It is not your fault, dear 
aunt," she told her, gently, " that your heart draws you 
away. It is but natural that you should long for 
a sight of your only daughter j and if Clara cannot 
come to you, why, you must just cross the continent 
to her. I feel very selfish that I should have kept you 
from her all this time." 

" My dear," said the elder woman, " my duty was 
with you in your trouble. How could I leave you if 
only" She stopped. It was an unacknowledged 
barrier between them, the girl's rejection of the son 
of whom his mother was so proud. " That her blind 
ness or coldness should drive my boy away from me 
again among those savages ! " " And it is not fair to 
blame me," Katherine thought. So that a constraint, 
fast becoming painful, had sprung up. Their silence 
now was broken by James's announcement of " Mrs. 
Federling." If Angelica's complexion and high spirits 
in girlhood were attributable, as she maintained, to 



212 THE METROPOLITANS 

her always having her own way, this recipe was evi 
dently still in successful operation. She brought a 
feeling of sunshine into the darkened room with her 
buoyant step and clear, high tones, and seemed to re 
gard it as highly amusing that she should trip over a 
footstool which her lorgnette overlooked. 

" It is a trifle dark in here, but what a pretty fire ! 
I have sent Otto off to drive by himself for half an 
hour or so in the Park. I insist on his doing it once 
a week, so that he may have quiet and solitude to re 
flect on how grateful he should be for me. And, do 
you know, the dear, delightful goose brought me back 
a poem he wrote, the last time, addressed to me. 
Luckily it was in German, and I did not feel equal to 
reading it." 

"The compliment was the same," suggested Mrs. 
Crofton, who did not consider this flippant young per 
son entirely good form. 

"Her marriage, you know, Katherine, was in the 
worst imaginable taste," she had once observed. " It 
must take large fortunes to make these crude West 
erners possible." "Mr. Pundit is said to have ap 
proved her," Katheriue had replied demurely. Her 
aunt's social canons were much narrower than her 
father's had been. 

"Yes," assented Angelica now, indifferently. 
" Katherine, do you know that mamma has begun to 
write the most affectionate letters to Otto, addressing 
him as 'von.' She goes down to Cowes next week, 
where the Squadron will be. All sorts of flattering 
possibilities for little Anastelle. In the mean time 
they have become English for the present, visiting at 



THE METROPOLITANS 213 

country houses in Kent. She makes papa go to 
church twice on Sundays, and he writes me confiden 
tially that he expects the fate dreaded by some Eng 
lish divine, l to be preached to death by wild curates.' 
Also that he shocked the portly Bishop of Titheton 
almost into loss of appetite at dinner by telling him 
he agreed with some one who said that 'Job knew a 
thing or two if he did have boils.' Mamma did not 
get over it for a week. Poor papa ! if he had no sense 
of humor he 'd get on better over there. Who, do 
you think, came to see me yesterday ? Miss Lavender. 
She was quite friendly, and alluded delicately to ' our 
little misunderstanding/ asking me why I had not 
confided in her. As if she would n't have had me 
under lock and key that day, and mamma cabled for ! 
She talked the fraulein over into promising to give 
German lessons. She can get her cheaper than any 
one else. I had to be firm, or she would have per 
suaded her back entirely though not as chaperon." 

" I should have liked Fraulein Volmer's company 
myself," said Katherine. " Auntie is pining for her 
daughter out in San Francisco, and I mean to let her 
go after her heart." 

" I thought you looked like a pair of conspirators 
when I came in," cried Angelica. "But, Katherine, 
the very thing! If you will have me Otto is no 
trouble, and devoted to you why should we not keep 
house together until, some day, you go to another's? 
You would not like a stranger with you." 

" Would you like it f " asked Katherine, taking her 
friend's hand. Her eyelids and lips drooped a little, 
for, with all her courageous composure, an almost in- 

14* 



214 THE METROPOLITANS 

tolerable sense of loneliness had been intensified by 
knowledge of her aunt's slight estrangement. 

" Like it ! It would be just heavenly. Then it is 
settled?" 

" Should you not first consult your husband ? " asked 
Mrs. Crofton, to whom the scheme did not appear so 
roseate. 

" Oh, I arrange all those matters," said the young 
American matron ; "but Otto adores Katherine next 
to me, of course." He was, in fact, a trifle bewildered 
at this new plan when she presently mentioned it to 
him in the coupe, but entirely willing if it pleased his 
blond angel. " To the ' Gilder Rooms,' " she told the 
coachman. 

" I do not think the brother is always delighted with 
these impromptu visits, my treasure." 

" Oh well, that is because the last once or twice I 
found him playing cards in bed. Morty is always glad 
to see me ; his heart 's all right. Now you stay in the 
carriage. I '11 be back in a minute. Mr. van Krippen 
taking breakfast? Then I '11 see him," she told the 
man. " Yes, it 's I, Mortimer. Nice time for you to 
be at breakfast ! Why don't you wait until dark ? I 
want to speak to you a moment. No, nothing wrong 
and I had my breakfast ages ago." The man dis 
missed, she took her brother by the lapels of his coat 
and looked solemnly in his wondering face. " Listen 
to me. Otto and I are going to live with Katherine. 
Her aunt 's going away, and I won't have her with 
nobody but a strange companion. But if you think, 
Mortimer van Krippen, that coming there oftener to 
see me will give you more chances for love-making, 



THE METROPOLITANS 215 

you are mistaken. I want you to give me your prom 
ise that you will be only a friend ; for I will not have 
our being there the occasion for the slightest embar 
rassment or restraint to Katherine ! " 

" If that 's all," he cried ruefully, turning away from 
the gleam of his sister's lorgnette, "you might have 
spared yourself the trouble. Fellows at the club are 
chaffin' me now. Say nobody '11 listen to me since 
Jasmina hoodooed me. Wonder what became of that 
woman ? All sorts of wild stories about her. As for 
Katherine, 't ain't likely I '11 take advantage of your 
being there to worry her. I 'm a gentleman, I hope, 
and her friend anyhow. And you know, Angelica" 
(hedging a little), " if there 's a chance any time you 
can tell me." 

"Mortimer, you're all right," said his sister, warmly, 
bestowing, much to his discomfiture, an unwonted kiss 
before releasing his coat. 

" If you won't have somethin' to eat," he grumbled, 
" I '11 take mine, for it 's gettin' cold." 

So, Mrs. Crofton having departed with tears, for, 
after all, was it not her dead brother's only child she 
was leaving! Katherine found herself with friends 
who, in no way abridging her perfect independence, 
supplied a delicate and warm sympathy. "What is 
it, then, my Angelica?" asked Federling, after they 
had been together some time. "Is it that the so 
beautiful friend is always a mourner? Others have 
mourned a father, but they find new affection after a 
while. She will smile at music and many things, but 
the eyes are sad. They look like Marguerite's when 
she will say : 



216 THE METROPOLITANS 

Meine Euh 1st bin, 
Mein Herz 1st schwer. 

And what is it, then ? " 

"Am I a witch that I can tell?" replied his wife. 
" Her days are very full and busy, but she is alone in 
the world. It was a good thought of yours, Otto, to 
have the Thursdays again, with talk and music. That 
will brighten her, perhaps. Some of the young fellows 
who come are well enough to look at, and rich enough, 
but no one fit for my Katherine. She is just a queen," 
averred this fiery partizan, " and shall take her own 
time to choose among her subjects. But you must not 
imagine things about her, Otto." 

The warm weather came on apace, and Katherine 
said, " We have surely had enough wandering about 
for a while, you and I, Angelica. Would it be selfish 
if I begged you not to travel this summer? Would 
you find it dull if we took a little place on the water 
somewhere in the country, but not too far from town ?" 

" That is just what we should like," Angelica promptly 
replied for both, "and Otto will see about it at once." 
So they found a pretty cottage up the river, where 
Otto, when not picking cherries or reading Schiller or 
Heine, could run into the city to discuss the latest 
discovery or invention at his club of scientists ; and 
Katherine could overlook'her poor people from there ; 
and friends, detained in town for one cause or another, 
could come out in the warm afternoons to eat straw 
berries under the trees. Morty van Krippen and 
Royall Worcester were even suspected of foregoing 
the delights of Newport or an ocean trip that they 
might take Katherine out on the river. 



THE METROPOLITANS 217 

"I suppose you don't go down," Angelica said to 
them, flippantly, " because Mr. Pundit is not there." 

" That is why," said Royall Worcester. " I am not 
quite in despair, however : I hear of Archie sometimes. 
He is still at Carlsbad, paying devoted attention to 
the widowed Lady Mellon, who hardly notices him or 
any one ; for that idolized child of hers, his little lord 
ship, is failing fast likely to die soon, they say, 
though she will not believe it." 

This was one of the times when Katherine slipped 
away alone to the boat-house, and rowed herself out 
on the stream, where her lithe figure, in black serge, 
with wide collar and cuffs, was soon a familiar sight to 
the residents along the banks. " I call that mean in 
you, Miss Katherine," grumbled Morty, when she came 
back, a little paler, with the shining locks around her 
fair temples blown about by the wind under her boat 
ing-cap. " What 's the use of the Athletic Club here 
assembled, but to row you across the herring-pond 
if you say so." 

" And if she does n't say so to keep still," said his 
sister, snubbing him remorselessly. 

" Presumptuous little devil, Morty," was the other 
men's mental comment. 

" You hardly had time to miss me," said Katherine, 
gently ; " and we may all go rowing later if you wish." 
But, even with Otto to lead in German student and 
boating songs, for which the others supplied an echo 
ing chorus, this was not the refuge she so often sought. 
What she liked best was to have the green meadows 
and sloping, verdant terraces glide past, the water 
parting under her swift oar strokes; alone, her eye 



218 THE METROPOLITANS 

seeing little of the surrounding beauty of the sky and 
land, which nevertheless helped to soothe the imagina 
tion tormenting her with dismal possibilities of days to 
come whose dire hopelessness might count these happy. 
" If I could only hear of him but a word ! " And 
another inner voice, in shrill reproof, would answer, 
" Of one who is nothing to you now who left you 
without a word ! " When it seemed quite intolerable 
she could tire herself rowing faster and faster. Was 
there not always Morty, to whom no wrong would be 
done, as to Reginald and others? For he did not 
dream of ideals, and would be content with very little. 
But she only mocked at her own pain with this thought, 
regarding Mortimer gratefully as her loyal friend. 

She had occasion to go down to the city a few days 
later, and after attending to her special errand went 
into a publisher's of music to order a new supply. A 
tall, thin man whose back was turned to her was talk 
ing with the proprietor, and an occasional word reached 
her of " scores," the " book," and the like. It was not 
until she had completed her purchase and was leaving 
that she recognized him as Penrose, who raised his hat 
on seeing her. She hesitated, stopped, and held out 
her hand with the dignified simplicity peculiarly hers. 

" Mr. Penrose ! it is a long time since I have seen 
you." 

" We toilers seldom have the privilege of wandering 
in the rose-fields which are your country." 

" That would seem to call us others butterflies." She 
smiled slightly, meeting the gaze through his glasses 
which she had before remarked as singularly intent, 
though not unpleasant. 



THE METROPOLITANS 219 

" I am afraid," he answered, " that I shall appear to 
assent to that view if I express my surprise at having 
this pleasure in July." 

"I was tired of summer travel. We are now Mrs. 
Federling and I up at a cottage in Witehwood." She 
spoke on a sudden impulse. "If you have time for 
trifling, we receive our friends there on Thursday after 
noons, or, indeed, if you row, they come to us in that 
pleasant way any afternoon, informally." 

" If I may if you will do me the honor of receiving 
me I will certainly make time for that." His pale 
cheek had a slight color. 

" We shall be glad to see you," she repeated. 

After she had moved away he drew a long breath. 
" She may be heartless," he reflected, " but while New 
York held that woman, for a man to risk his life in the 
arctic zone ! Lord, ' what fools we mortals be ! ' " 

Katherine's thoughts were also busy in the train and 
the pony carriage afterward. "Aunt Crofton would 
never approve of stepping outside one's circle in this 
way. But what harm can it do! His face is very 
plain, but clever, I think. He must be interesting." 
But the relentless, assured voice, which was that of her 
pride, said scornfully, "He can only interest you in 
one subject. It is in that hope you ask him." " Well, 
yes, then " (in passionate assent), " I must I must hear 
something." 

So it was that Stephen Penrose, after his first cere 
monious call, got into the way of rowing up the river 
in the afternoons and stopping an hour or so at the 
pretty landing at Witehwood. To the other men lying 
round on the grass or flourishing tennis-rackets, who 



220 THE METROPOLITANS 

wondered to meet an outsider in Katherine's exclusive 
circle, he paid small heed. He had no care to form 
intimacies with the club dandies ; and at his evident 
indifference they began to say, " Clever beggar, I 'm 
told. No money or family, but a power in journalism. 
Good deal talked about in clubs." 

" I should say so," another would answer ; " all sorts 
of tales about him. Say he used to be a bandit in 
Transylvania wherever that is. Kind that cut off 
people's ears and noses, you know, and send them home 
to their folks to hurry up the ransom. Queer idea, 
is n't it, a light-haired bandit, with eye-glasses ? " 

" Good Lord," cried Ashley Vanderlyn, " what rot ! 
The man 's a Welshman, and looks like a university 
fellow. We meet him at the clubs ; I put Morty van 
Krippen on his trail myself, on account of Miss de 
Mansur's receiving him, and there 's no such shady 
past. Wild lot, some of the journalists ; but this fel 
low 's a worker. His manner 's quiet enough better 
than yours, Dicky." 

Penrose was rather silent in their company, and 
gravely polite when he spoke. He liked to draw them 
out about their prowess in polo or coaching. " Tut, 
tut, my friend," said Otto Federling, observing this 
habit, "you expect too much. It is only in German 
colleges men go to study. Here it is all foot-ball, you 
see ; and one must not be too hard." It was all one to 
the amiable Federling what they talked about, as long 
as Angelica and Katherine were entertained. He liked 
to see their figures scattered about the lawn, while he 
lay in the hammock with his favorite poems. He would 
read these aloud, sometimes. Then, the others being 



THE METKOPOLITANS 221 

absent, Penrose had joined them ; and Federling was 
overjoyed to find that this last auditor understood 
perfectly his native tongue. 

" Und hurre, hurre, hopp, hopp, hopp, 
Ging 's fort in sausendem Galopp. 

Is not that wonderfully fine ! " he would exclaim. 
"Can you not hear the horse his hoofs clattering 
over the bridge ? " 

11 Very fine," would Angelica reply, drowsily. " A 
little more and I shall be asleep." 

But whether he read Burger, or gave them selections 
from Shakspere, pronounced in a manner which must 
at least have moved that poet's bones and so incurred 
the threatened malediction, Penrose was equally at 
liberty, from his low station on the grass with cap tilted 
over his eyes, to watch, fascinated, the two fair women 
moving gracefully about the lawn tea-table, or play 
ing with soft-colored embroidery silks as an excuse, 
maybe, for vagrant fancies which the bard of Avon, 
weirdly disguised, could not hold. With daughters of 
the gods, he had once said, his earlier lines had never 
fallen. This might excuse the rapt gaze which included 
in one harmonious, satisfying whole the beauty of the 
soft, sailing clouds overhead, the swift-flowing river, 
the fluttering little flags of the boat-house, and the 
foliage which cast flickering shadows over a slender, 
maidenly figure and head bent down over some bit of 
work. 

Otto was making wilder work than usual of one of 
the minor dramas, which owed its interest less to 
grandeur of form than to its dealing with the eternal 



222 THE METROPOLITANS 

theme of which the varying chords and cadences ring 
down through the centuries with never-failing music. 
Katherine raised her head, and the light fell through 
the branches on the waving chestnut tresses, and 
touched the white brow and delicate mouth. " I think," 
she interrupted softly, " that must be the finest thing 
on earth that close friendship between two men, pass 
ing the love of women. The only thing, perhaps " (with 
a note of wistful inquiry in her tone as she looked at 
the two men), " which is quite unselfish and strong and 
enduring." 

Otto burst into a poetic vindication of Eros's superior 
power, which made his wife laugh tolerantly. Penrose, 
plucking and throwing away blades of grass, was silent 
awhile. Her words had conjured up an instant re 
membrance of a tall, broad-shouldered figure, with 
dark, clustering hair and frank, fearless gaze, who 
seemed to lay a hand on his shoulder. 

" In this very play, Miss de Mansur," he said then, 
slowly, " there is treacherous breach of faith between 
sworn friends." 

" I was not thinking of this so much, which is pure 
fiction, but of cases given us from history and tradition." 
He looked up at her now, and she met his gaze quite 
directly, not knowing that he guessed at her wish 
to have him speak of one who had been near to 
both. 

" I cannot answer for history, which is as much fic 
tion as anything else," he said, deliberately drawing his 
long, thin form into position to rise ; " but we have the 
omniscient poet's word for this : 

O gentle Proteus ! Love 's a mighty lord. 



THE METROPOLITANS 223 

Well, I must be off now, or the office will be neglected. 
Work 7 s a mighty lord likewise. What does some other 
rhymester say about that ? 

Work's worth is bread in hand aye, and sweet rest ! 

Sweet rest, you see, independent of love or friendship, 
or any of those uncertain quantities. Good wages, 
Miss de Mansur ! " 

" I believe," she said, looking across the river, " that 
I was not thinking of any wages or profit whatever, 
but just which was highest and finest and most un 
selfish and most enduring." 




XVIII 

HE boat went cityward slowly under Pen- 
rose's handling, for he was in no hurry 
to dine this evening, with his thoughts 
revolving around the girl's unconscious 
suggestions. The twinkling lights, break 
ing out here or there from this height or that as he 
passed along, had always seemed very pretty to him, 
and the way they thickened into sparkling electric 
constellations the nearer and nearer he drew to the 
great, shining, illusive city. But he saw nothing, un 
less it was a pure and virginal and gently proud face ; 
and now another, darker and deeper of hue, with eyes 
looking unsuspiciously into his, of one who had been 
dear to him nay, who was, after all, dearer to him 
than aught else in the world. His pulse throbbed. 

O gentle Proteus ! Love 's a mighty lord. 

Of green-room dallyings or vagrant wayside fancies, 
so slight that they left not a rack behind, there had 
been a plenty ; but now, at this first dawning of some 
thing exquisite and divine in which he had not before 
believed, it was hard luck that loyalty loj r alty ? He 
set his teeth hard. " Come, my fine fellow ! You have 

224 



THE METEOPOLITANS 225 

never been a self-deceiver. Put things plainly. We 
will admit that the emotion you feel for the bright 
comrade of a year ago is still a near and vital thing 
that you would make some slight sacrifice for him. 
But do not plume yourself on this one, for the strong 
est temptation is not yours. It is not your image 
which dwells in this girl's heart yes, and speaks in 
her eyes and voice. My only distinction from the crowd 
of Morty van Krippens and the like is that I could 
speak of him an I would. If he never comes back 
then indeed ! Ah, poor little Jasmina ! Life owed you 
something too." 

He stayed out on the water long, forgetting his din 
ner and the crowd awaiting him, as usual, at the office. 
Jenkins was there, flushed and excited. 

" You 're late," he blurted out at once. " Have you 
heard latest from Newfoundland ? Officers and crew 
of the Meteor made their way back there in small boats. 
Ship caught in an ice-nip and crushed to pieces. Just 
had time to save themselves. Say they left note and 
provisions in cache. But great heavens ! they were 
late enough in going, and now to come back without 
making more of an effort to find the party ! You 
know they were only provisioned for winter, and the 
season 's well advanced." 

" Another ship will probably sail," said Penrose, set 
tling down at his desk. 

Jenkins looked at his impassive chief and growled 
out, " You make me think, Mr. Penrose, of a field I once 
saw, with savage barbed- wire fence all around, and it 
was carefully placarded besides, ' No thoroughfare.' " 

" I will ask you for an explanation of your parable 

15 



226 THE METROPOLITANS 

sometime when I am not so busy," said Penrose, coolly. 
A messenger came in just now with a cablegram from 
Carlsbad, and it read, " The young Marquis of Gourdes, 
heir to the vast Mellon estates, died here this day at 
noon." 

" So that the lady's air-castles are quite, quite low/' 
observed Penrose, pushing it toward Jenkins. 

" Idolized the boy, I 've heard," said the kindly Jen 
kins. " Our friend will surely be her heir now if 
when he comes back." 

" ' If when he comes back ' I must tell him how 
cheering you always were. Will you work up a little 
this paragraph about destruction of relief vessel ? " 

" I '11 pass it on to one of the others," said Jenkins, 
gloomily. " Give me that about the boy. Besides the 
news there '11 be a lot of stuff concerning the previous 
lords and their titles and honors and dishonors, and 
some sic transit gloria mundi reflections. Pundit would 
be good for that. You '11 hear from him now." 

Indeed, the office had an epistle by the very next 
steamer from that gentleman ; and, besides his weekly 
stint of prosing, there was, to Penrose's surprise, a 
personal letter to himself, whom he knew to be un 
favored of Mr. Pundit. " Aware of your intimacy with 
Mr. Allan Rexford," he wrote, " I apply to you rather 
than the editor officially for any news of him. His 
bereaved mother, of whose loss in the death of the 
young Marquis of Gourdes your paper has been cabled, 
is utterly prostrated. Informed by her physician that 
there was grave cause for anxiety, I recommended to 
him a mention of her remaining son's name, which was 
followed, happily, by a relieving burst of tears. I hope 



THE METROPOLITANS 227 

now, through your services, to be able to afford her 
information of his whereabouts, etc., knowing that it 
will be to you, as to myself, a profound gratification 
to be of service to the distinguished widow of the late 
Lord Mellon and mother of the late Marquis of 
Gourdes," etc. 

" The plot thickens," said Penrose, with grim irony. 
" If a man disappears, hurt by the slings and arrows 
of those who owed him better things, then every one 
wants him. The mother who was so cruelly unjust ; 
the sweetheart well, that is a mystery." He prepared 
himself the account of the loss of the Meteor dispas 
sionately enough, though with a comment on the large 
proportion of their stores it had been deemed neces 
sary to bring back for so short and comparatively safe 
a voyage. "They might be surprised to learn," he 
thought, on finishing, " that I too have a stake in this 
my only interest in life a few short years ago." They 
were hurrying him for copy on the matter of the mill 
strikes; for on this subject the subeditor's large and 
just views were daily looked for. As for the freezing 
or starving of a few people up at the pole, that was 
naturally less interesting to the public. They were 
not obliged to go, and, in Rexford's case especially, it 
was a foolhardy thing. One paper remarked jestingly 
the next day that, in view of the recent hot wave, it 
would be more seasonable in the arctic explorers to 
send relief to those south of them instead of requir 
ing it. 

It was this one Katherine held in her hand when she 
came across the lawn, tall and white-robed, to meet 
Penrose on his next visit. It was the first time he had 



228 THE METROPOLITANS 

chanced to be alone with her, and she began at once, 
forcing a smile : " It is encouraging to Mr. Rexford's 
friends to you, I am sure, Mr. Penrose to find that 
matters are bright enough with the Ritler expedition 
to make jests about. Is it true that another boat will 
go to their relief that it is almost certain to bring 
them back soon?" 

" Arrangements are being made, I understand," he 
answered evasively. " You are looking a little tired, 
if you will permit me to say so the heat, perhaps. 
Will you let me take you out on the water ? You can 
steer, and we will drift about in the shade." 

" Yes, I should like that. Mr. Penrose," she went 
on, when out on the stream, her white draperies settled 
about her and the tiller-rope in her hand, " would you 
mind you are so kind letting me know, now and 
then, about this expedition ? Your information would 
be late and reliable." She was not conscious, in the 
effort of speaking composedly, of the pathetic contrac 
tion of her brow. 

" It is a small matter that you ask ; certainly I will 
tell you as soon as I know, but that will not be long 
before the published account." 

" I shall like to know what you really think yourself, 
who care more than the public." 

" Then you shall, of course, though I shall only pos 
sess the facts known to all." 

She wondered afterward when she heard Mr. Pen- 
rose spoken of as a cold, repellent man, remembering 
how restful had been his companionship on this after 
noon when she felt so listless and weary. It seemed 
that he sympathized with her disinclination for words, 



THE METROPOLITANS 229 

with no obtrusive sense that the long silences were 
unusual. When he helped her to land, behind the in 
different quiet of his face, with her hand in his, was a 
thought : " I am so sorry for her. I was never so sorry 
for a woman before but once and then I was sav 
agely angry." 

The first russet leaves had begun to mar this velvety 
lawn, and with the waning summer the little party had 
gone back to town when he next saw her alone. He 
called in Stuyvesant Square one afternoon, and she 
came down at once. 

"You remember my promise to give you all news 
of the Ritler expedition. The government will not fit 
out another vessel. They say it is too late in the season. 
But we need not be too anxious about our friends." 

" You remember," she said clearly, " they were only 
provisioned for one winter, and another is coming." 

" There will be the caches and game, doubtless." 

" I read your article which said from the large share 
brought back from the Meteor there could be but 
little." 

He bit his lip. "An editor is not infallible, you 
know." There was a few moments' silence. " I must 
write to Mr. Pundit of this, but hope he will not alarm 
Lady Mellon unnecessarily." 

" That would be a pity," Katherine managed to say 
with trembling lips. He was shocked at her pale cheeks 
when he saw her again in a day or two. " I 'm not 
happy myself," he reflected, " but her type will torture 
itself with distressing imaginings." 

" Katherine suffers from headache," said Angelica. 
" Otto persists that music is good for it, and would, I 

16* 



230 THE METROPOLITANS 

believe, sing the whole of ' The Lotus-eaters' every day 
for her if I would let him." Her concern for her friend, 
with whom she was most gentle, took the form of a 
sharpness bewildering to her husband and her brother. 
" Mortimer, if one is not quite as rosy as usual your 
one idea is going for the doctor. A change from 
country to city air is apt to affect the complexion. You 
might get her some orchids." 

" Did n't know, you know, that orchids were good 
for the complexion. But of course, Angelica, if you 
say so. Glad to be of use." Which, indeed, he was 
heartily. Otto too was distressed that his well-meant 
attempt to soothe the girl's pain had been pronounced 
futile. Penrose could not forget how cold had been 
the slim hand, lying for a moment in his, on his last 
call. He went about his duties more quietly than ever, 
and irritated Jenkins unspeakably by refusing to be 
come excited over important matters, such as the lame 
and impotent conclusion of the great strike, and other 
absorbing copy that came in. He worked one night 
until morning without rest; then went up to Lenox 
and had a long interview with the generous and learned 
man who had fitted out the Meteor. " I am quite will 
ing to help to the extent of my modest resources," 
Penrose told him. 

" Not at all necessary," said the former ; " you may 
be giving up your place in going." 

" They may keep it open for me. In any case, I do 
not care. We should hardly like to feel responsible 
for their deaths." 

" I might feel so," answered the millionaire scientist. 
" I cannot see how you would be accountable. Well, 



THE METROPOLITANS 231 

the sooner a vessel is obtained and provisioned the 
better ; for if they are in distress each day will count." 

"Thank you," said Penrose, abstractedly. Going 
back to the city, he made a Turkish bath take the place 
of a deferred rest ; then went straight to Stuyvesant 
Square. It was the eve of a church holiday, and Kath- 
erine, in spite of Angelica's protest that she looked ill, 
had gone to her church, where she knelt in front of the 
high altar and raised her eyes to the cross ; but she 
seemed too dumbly wretched to find words for her 
prayer. The choir was rehearsing for the next day. 
"Kyrie ele'ison ! Kyrie eleison !" they chanted again and 
again. " Have mercy ! have mercy ! " something an 
guished, repeated within her, though the outline of her 
pure, proud features was not moved by a whisper. It 
was late when she came out ; still later when she as 
cended her steps again. "A letter for you, Miss 
Katherine," said James, presenting it ; " and Mr. Pen- 
rose has been waiting a long time." She took the letter 
without looking at it, and passed at once to the draw 
ing-room. Life was too nearly at a crisis with him to 
be given to mere formalities. " I came to tell you," he 
said without prelude, " that another ship is sailing. I 
shall go with it. It is late, but we will find them and 
bring them back." 

" Oh ! " she said, drawing a deep breath. 

"I shall not see you again before I go," he went 
on hurriedly. "You have no message, if we meet 
them!" 

She cast down her eyes, and they fell for the first 
time on the address of the letter in her hand. She 
gave a great start and, exclaiming again, broke it open. 



232 THE METROPOLITANS 

" Shall I leave you to read your letter * " 

" No, uo " (breathlessly), " if you will allow me." She 
drew closer to the window, catching the faint afternoon 
light on the paper, and not seeing the long, devouring 
gaze with which he watched for the last time the fair 
face beneath the wide black hat. 

" Oh," she panted at last, " it is it is from him 
written months ago. Delayed I can't tell how. But 
if I had had it in time, he should never have gone." 

" Is that the message, then ? " 

" Yes " (raising her limpid gaze directly to his) ; " and 
that I am waiting for him." 

" That will bring him," cried Penrose ; " never fear. 
From the gates of Paradise he would venture for such 
merchandise. Good-by, then, for I must be gone." 

" Good-by, Mr. Penrose ; and I will pray for your 
success and for you too." 

" Have I ever had a woman pray for me before ? " he 
asked himself, outside the house. " I trow not. The 
women I have known best did not pray much. I feel 
a little light-headed, I think." He took off his hat in 
the street and waved it toward the house. " Good-by, 
Katherine," he said half aloud. " I would not choose 
those clear eyes to look into mine after you knew who 
had delayed your note, abusing a friend's trust." His 
substitute had already assumed his duties at the office ; 
but he had a busy day otherwise, and it was not until 
evening had brought them together in " Simla " that 
Jenkins had a chance to speak to him. 

" What 's this I hear ! " said that easily moved young 
man. " That you are going after Rexford ? At this 
season, too ! Then you have n't given him up ? Then 



THE METROPOLITANS 233 

you think we will see him again ? It 's like the libretto, 
though, isn't it ? " He began to whistle the refrain : 

" He followed the Man, who followed the Mayde, 
Who followed the Miller of Dee," 

but broke down. " I say, Penrose," he jerked out, " I 've 
been misjudging you thought you were too cold 
blooded to care whether that fine fellow we Ve worked 
and played with came back or not ; and all the while 
you were getting ready to go aftr him ! Now, too, 
when it 's dangerous ! " 

"I don't know what you are talking about," said 
Penrose, coldly. " You 're too excitable, Jenkins. I 've 
been pegging away at that office until I need a change 
somewhere, and if I choose to take it that way it 's 
nothing to any one. If we find him we '11 bring him 
back ; if not we can't help it ! " He shrugged his 
shoulders. Jenkins stared at him, discomfited ; then 
turned on his heel, muttering, " He must be better than 
he makes out, but talks like an unfeeling brute." 

The papers recorded, in due course, the leaving of a 
second relief party after the Ritler expedition. And 
the " Argus " blazoned in head-lines that it was under 
the leadership of a prominent member of their staff, 
and spoke quite severely of such contemporaries as 
made light of human life and thought that too much 
time and attention were given to this handful of people, 
who might very well get along until next spring. And 
Katherine eagerly gathered every word she could learn 
on the subject ; and, if it had not been for a certain 
feverish restlessness, Angelica might have thought all 
well with her again ; for there was a fitful light in her 



234 THE METROPOLITANS 

eyes and a spring in her step since she knew Pennrose's 
mission and held, besides, the precious certainty that 
her lover had not left her uncaring. The pride that 
had made her, with merely circumstantial nay, infer 
entialevidence, cast him off seemed now a thing of 
naught in the great fear that he might never come 
back to her. " Why did I not see him at least speak 
to him?" she thought humbly. "Ah, I cared more 
then for Katherine de Mansur and her dignity than 
anything else ! And he he loved me always; I feel 
it now," laying her hand on the paper which she ever 
carried with her, and whose unfortunate delay she 
could not in any way explain. 

One day, early in this present suspense, she had a 
note from Lady Mellon, just arrived, asking her to 
come to her. It was hard to recognize in this pale, 
mourning figure the brilliant, haughty woman Kathe 
rine remembered. She took the girl's hand in hers and 
drew her to a low seat. 

" I have not been able to see any one before," she 
said ; " but I am a little stronger now, and I must talk 
to you. You know, perhaps, that all my hopes and 
joys are dead but one, but one ! And that one, too 
who can tell ? " 

It was not possible to meet these hollow eyes, from 
which dropped slow tears, with the keen resentment 
Katherine had always felt for her treatment of Allan. 
She was silent. 

"I know," said the elder, taking her hand again, 
" that I have no right to send for you to ask you such 
a question ; but I thought once that my son now ab 
sentcared for you ? " 



THE METROPOLITANS 235 

Katherine flushed crimson ; there was a pause then, 
for to such regret as she divined here much might be 
allowed. 

"He did," she answered, her fair head held erect. 
"He does, I hope and think. We were betrothed, 
though now parted." 

" I was ambitious alwaj r s," said his mother, hurriedly, 
" too ambitious, for my my children. I see now that 
love is best ; and any parent should be satisfied with 
such a daughter as you. Oh, if in the humblest home 
one could only keep the loved ones ! And now he too 
may not come back ! " The girl found herself with 
protecting arms about the once unbending form, and 
with the sobbing head bowed on her younger, stronger 
shoulder. 

" Then, if you think and hope as you say," went on 
Lady Mellon, with recovered composure, " that brings 
me to what I want. Why should you and I stay here, 
counting the slow hours ? News will come first to St. 
John's. Why not go there at our leisure, you and I, 
and wait? It is so much nearer. Mr. Pundit, who 
has kindly advised me in business matters and escorted 
me back, thinks the idea rash. But I do not mind. I 
should not think of asking him, at his age, to go there 
in cold weather." 

" O Lady Mellon ! " cried Katherine, flushing and 
paling, and flushing again ; " yes, then ; I will go if 
you care to have me." 

" Angelica," she said, on her return home, " will you 
mind if I leave you and Mr. Federling to keep house 
without me for a while ? I am going to St. John's 
with Lady Mellon, until we hear from her son. I am 



236 THE METROPOLITANS 

engaged to him, and if I have not told you before it 
was because because 

" I understand perfectly," said Angelica, never to be 
taken by surprise. " You meant to tell me on his re 
turn. My dearest girl, I hope it will be soon ! " " And, 
Mortimer" (later), "I will not have you show the 
slightest feeling which might pain Katherine." 

" I suppose you think it 's the thing, when a fellow 's 
lost a girl, to go the pace and give champagne suppers 
in honor of the event ! " But this mood did not last 
long with the good-hearted little fellow. " Miss Kathe- 
rine," he said quite humbly, " I hear that you and Lady 
Mellon are going to make a ahem ! a very cold trip. 
Now maybe if I went along to look after the baggage 
and that, you know, I might be of use." 

" It is so good of you," said Katherine, gratefully ; 
" but Lady Mellon has declined Mr. Pundit's help and 
thinks we shall get on very well. But it is just as 
kind of you." 

With this he was fain to be content, and with Mr. 
Pundit's confidential comments at the club that even 
ing: 

"Idiotic scheme, I call it, don't you know. Why 
can't they stay at home and wait, you understand. 
Suppose the party is all dead, no use to hurry to meet 
bad news. Beastly place, St. John's ; get your nose 
frost-bitten. If Rexford must go to a pole, why did n't 
he go down to the antarctic, in the south, where it 
would be warm, don't you know. Lady Mellon seems 
a trifle obstinate. Between ourselves, my dear young 
friend, very few women have any sense. I am still 
looking for one of that kind, myself." His mind re- 



THE METROPOLITANS 237 

verted to the recent very evident appreciation shown 
him by Miss Lavender, which had been soothing after 
Lady Mellon's patent indifference. He went to see her 
the next afternoon, and came away looking as if he 
might allow that there still existed one woman of sense. 
As for Mortimer, after seeing Katherine's party off 
with a pretense of light-heartedness, he went in for 
champagne and baccarat to an extent which came to 
his sister's ears and gave him a bad quarter of an hour 
with her, finally. 




XIX 

'R. RITLER and his wife walked briskly 
up and down the beaten track in front 
of their arctic home. 

" It was a piece of work," said the pro 
fessor, "to clear our path again. The 
snow was lying on it thirty inches deep. The new 
drifts are taller than I am." 

" Ah, but what a pleasure to be in the air once more," 
said his wife, "and to hope that the storm has ex 
hausted itself in these eight wild days. How the wind 
screamed and wailed last night, and dashed the snow 
against the roof ! It seemed that it must burst in. It 
did find its way through every crack and crevice in the 
outer wall, and sprinkled our indoor promenade be 
tween the walls." 

"We have been so busy with our sledge and ski 
carpentering, and you with your cooking and serving, 
that the long confinement has not irked so much. I 
had a chance to revise all our scientific observations, 
but had to thaw the frozen ink pretty often.- Never 
mind ; it is clear now, and the shortest day well in the 
past. Why, to-day I could distinguish at noon the 
hands of my watch held to the south. Pretty soon we 

238 



THE METROPOLITANS 239 

shall have twilight every day, and then his majesty, 
the sun, once more ! " 

Afar off the sky over the glacier had been one shift 
ing, dazzling splendor. Arches of light, pale pink 
deepening into crimson, changed and melted here and 
there into curved ribbons of every shade from prim 
rose yellow to deep orange ; and then again stretched 
onward to the horizon in long, slender, pointed stream 
ers which showed in lilac and softest green ; and all 
these whirling and twisting and interchanging shape 
and color in bewildering magnificence. 

" It is," she admitted, " a gorgeous sight." 

" Why, then, when the heavens are telling the glory 
of the Lord, do you give so divided an attention to the 
grandest spectacular display imaginable ! What are 
you thinking of so seriously ? " 

" Of my complexion, perhaps, which they tell me will 
be, after this long night of months, as yellow as the 
pumpkins of my dear native State." 

Some others of the household had now come out to 
view the aurora. It was Rexford's voice they heard, 
and from the slighter, smaller hooded figure proceeded 
Jasmina's clear, fresh tones. A second bulkier form, 
which came out shortly afterward and stood near them, 
did not speak ; so, by this light, Dr. Ritler could only 
guess at its identity. 

"See here, my dear," he resumed, more earnestly, 
"I may be too optimistic, as you sometimes tell me; 
but this seems a case where you are crossing the bridge 
without having reached it. The night is nearly gone, 
and I can still find work for my assistants near me or 
out of doors, as you have been so clever in doing for 



240 THE METROPOLITANS 

Jasmina. Then there are only the evenings ; but we 
are all together then, and the little witch uses her 
charms and graces for us all alike. How pretty she 
looked last night in ' Anitra's Tanz ' ! She keeps up 
the spirits of the whole party with her music and her 
charming ways. The spring will soon be here now, 
and then the men will be off on sledging parties." 

She opened her lips to answer, " And with one of your 
few helpers developing so much ill will, what sort of 
harmony is to be expected in your explorations?" 
but refrained. 

"Come in now," she said; "my skirt is hard as a 
board half-way up, and the kamiks are, I do believe, 
frozen to the stockings." She would not have the 
chief, whose responsibility was heavy, too much dis 
turbed. Yet to her woman's fancy it appeared more 
than a minor annoyance that the Norwegian, ever since 
the night Jasmina first sang and danced, had missed 
no chance to show her an attention, which the girl 
carelessly ignored, and to the others and Rexford 
especially a sullenness and temper unsuspected at 
first. 

" I think not much of that," said Jasmina, " that he 
tries to devote himself. Men have that way. It is 
nothing. I shall not care about it." 

" But it may hinder Dr. Hitler's plans," said the wife, 
" not to have good feelings in so small a party." 

" That would be bad," commented the girl, thought 
fully. " But what must I do ? I stay much with you 
now." 

"You do indeed, and are such a comfort. But" 
(flushing a little) "if you did not show not seem so 



THE METROPOLITANS 241 

friendly to Mr. Rexford. It makes Dr. Andersen dis 
agreeable, I think." 

Jasmina flushed not at all. "See, then," she an 
swered quietly ; " I cannot do that. Mr. Raixfore is 
my friend, and I do not like the surgeon at all, since 
he is so cross. It is a pity that he came. But never 
mind ; it will be all right." She stroked in her caress 
ing way the sleeve of the matron, who was devoted to 
her. " And now only a half-mile back !" The two were 
taking a snow-shoe tramp. " How well we get on ! " 

From that date the days lengthened apace. Now 
Mrs. Ritler could not keep Jasmina so constantly at 
her side, for all the great whiteness outside of ice-cliffs 
and frozen wastes was silvered with returning daylight 
in which no sun was yet visible. And one would cry, 
"Let us go to the berg. We can do it now without 
skis." Or Dr. Ritler would arrange that all should 
climb to the ice-cap and see the sun appear, which now 
cast a glow on the western sky. And Mrs. Ritler 
would wander away with him to view the enchantingly 
novel effect of sunlight on bay and hill, and would 
return to find the Norwegian, with lowering brow, 
listening in sullen silence to Jasmina's prattle to Rex- 
ford. On this last occasion, as they were descending 
from the summit in single file, Rexford, observing the 
girl slip once or twice, endeavored to pass that he 
might give her his hand ; but Dr. Andersen pushed 
roughly before him and said huskily, " Turn about is 
fair play. A chance, if you please." Rexford stared, 
frowning, but Mrs. Ritler slipped her arm through his. 

" What 's the matter with that fellow," he asked, half 
amused again, " that he glares so ? That 's the way the 

16 



242 THE METROPOLITANS 

Norwegians looked, I suppose, when they drank from 
their enemies' skulls. Very bad manners, has n't he ? 
If he gets impossible I '11 have to dip him in the bay 
when the ice breaks." 

" Oh," she said nervously, " he means no offense to 
you. It 's just that he admires Jasmina, and she 's able 
to take care of herself." 

" Yes " (with a sort of careless friendliness she won 
dered at) ; " but she 's been so good to all of us that 
we must n't let him persecute her; that is, if she 
does n't like him." She looked at him thoughtfully 
once or twice going down the hill. " What should we 
have done without you both," he returned, "all the 
dark winter? It was a good plan of Dr. Hitler's to 
bring you with us." 

" He did not specially design to bring Jasmina." 

" No ; that, I suppose, was a freak of that wayward 
child of the sun. It is certainly a far cry from Hun 
gary to the north pole by way of New York. But 
perhaps she counts it but an incident in an adventur 
ous career by which," he added gravely, "I mean 
nothing disloyal to our little queen, abdicating for a 
while to serve and cheer a band of arctic travelers." 

" It is like a brilliant comet," said the practical New 
England woman, surprised into a thought of poetry, 
" flashing in our midst and as suddenly disappearing." 

" Ah, that must not happen with our helpful little 
comrade. We could ill spare Jasmina ! " He spoke 
warmly, but there was a lack of something which made 
her sigh to herself. He did not notice, being intent 
on the sky tints. The air was soft and balmy, though 
the sun was gone almost as soon as it appeared this 



THE METROPOLITANS 243 

first time. As they went down toward the valley's 
twilight soon another aurora illumined the landscape. 
They all stood near the entrance to the great snow 
mound covering the house watching it awhile. It was 
in slender lances of white light, tipped with yellow ; at 
the side a pillar of rose red stood, changing after into 
orange. " Those golden spears," commented Dr. Ritler, 
" might be arms of the celestial hosts standing in battle 
array." 

" It is bright enough to cast a shadow," said his wife, 
more practically. "They call that polychromatic 
foundation of restless, quivering curves, from which 
the auroral streamers all proceed, the merry dancers." 

" Oh, do they I " cried Jasmina. " That is a challenge 
I will not refuse." She detached herself a little from 
the group, and, even in moccasins and outdoor furs, 
commenced some fantastic evolutions, in which her 
shadow went bending and gliding with her over the 
trodden snow, to her own whistling of some wild Gipsy 
strain. It was oddly attractive, and they all watched 
her pleased and laughing. " The gambols of a little 
brown bear," cried Dr. Ritler. 

" Come in now, Ursa Minor," said his wife, " and 
help me with the supper." 

The girl was flushed and radiant as she emerged 
from her sealskin Jcooletah. She chatted merry non 
sense while moving about the table, and teased the 
Norwegian, letting him, to his delight, wait on her, 
which he did very awkwardly. Later, her mood chang 
ing, she took up the guitar, and began to sing : 

" Once, when I was poor, 
Love knocked at my door." 



244 THE METEOPOLITANS 

Rexford started and turned quite pale. "Do not 
sing that, Jasmina ; I do not like it any more. I did 
not know any one had the music." 

" I play it from ear. I heard you sing it once. But 
I will not if you do not like." 

" By God," muttered the Norwegian, into his beard, 
" that 's too much ! Is Mr. Rexford," he asked, " com 
poser, manager, and censor in one? That was too 
pretty to stop short." 

" It is pretty," she said hastily and sweetly, " but I 
do not know it very well ; I will sing something else." 
She smiled on him in bewildering fashion. She had 
never talked to him so much before as on this evening. 

The sun now paid them longer visits daily, and the 
men were much absent at the ice-hills and looking for 
stray deer or ptarmigan, while Jens spent his time 
watching patiently for hours beside the seal-holes. He 
stayed with the women when, after long preparation, 
the men, full of excitement and anticipation, set off on 
their long sledge trip. 

"We will keep busy until they return," said Mrs. 
Ritler, " and the time will not be so long ; and then 
the ship, and home home again ! " 

" It will seem long, long until they come back," said 
Jasmina; "but for home in the hard, noisy world- 
well, there is one there I should like to see. You will 
not mind, perhaps, the long shutting in. You will have 
lived much in towns. You have never slept under a 
tree with the stars over you. They would gather the 
children, when I was little, where they were rolling in 
the ashes of the camp-fire, and take them under shelter. 
But I I would hide. I liked it better outside. We 



THE METROPOLITANS 245 

did not have much to eat sometimes, but it was free, 
and we went and we came. See now, dear madame," 
she said another time, when they sat in the firelight : 
" I must tell your fortune. You know it is a Romany 
gift. You cross my palm with a bit of gold and here, 
let me see. Dr. Ritler comes back safe, successful. You 
will both go South again and prosper, and live long 
and happy." 

Mrs. Ritler had a feeling that she ought to protest 
against this heathenish practice and preach a little, 
instead of which she merely said, "And your own, 
Mina?" 

"Not by the hand I cannot; but by the cards." 
She went for the boys' well-thumbed pack, and shuffled, 
and knit her fine black brows, and pondered, and 
shuffled again ; then, of a sudden, threw the pack on 
the table. " There 's nothing to be seen but snow and 
snow and snow," she cried petulantly, "and that has 
no sense ! But what will happen will happen, and now 
I will sing ! You like < The House of Clay ' ? " 

So well she beguiled Mrs. Ritler's solitude that time 
passed swiftly enough to have the sledge party's 
return almost surprise her. The leader was enthu 
siastic over their prosperous journey and splendid 
success in scientific discovery and exploration. But 
when they were alone together, she asked quietly, 
" What was the trouble ? " 

" Oh, that stupid Andersen was perverse and wear 
ing. Only for Rexford's cool self-command I should 
have had much annoyance. I thanked him and begged 
him not to notice the fellow's ill nature, as it would 
soon be over now. He may be a little ' off/ you know. 



16* 



246 THE METROPOLITANS 

The long polar winter is said to affect the brain in 
certain cases. He is indispensable as surgeon, too, 
confound it! Well, we have seen no deer to bring 
back, and I am sorry you had to use seal meat, but you 
have both kept up on the other things. What are you 
looking at, Jasmina ? " 

She was in the doorway, both hands shading her 
eyes, looking upward. " What birds are those ? " she 
said. 

" Those black ones ? Oh, ravens." 

" Ah, I do not like them. I am glad they are going." 

" Come " (laughing good-naturedly), " you must not 
be superstitious or morbid. You are thinner since 
we have been away. We must take you boating and 
amuse you now." 

"I will like that," she said, with her pretty smile. 
And very soon she was her bright self once more, and 
the life of their little excursion, laughing and clapping 
her hands with childish delight to see the banks yel 
low with poppies and gay with anemones, the water 
flowing free again, the ice-foot nearly gone, and the 
beautiful green fields sprinkled with myriad blossoms. 
On one of these occasions she had gone out with the 
younger men in the boat and rocked idly in the cove 
while waiting their return from where they had gone 
inland with their guns in hope of game. Playing with 
the tips of her fingers in the still freezing water, and 
dreaming happily, she hardly noticed when a storm- 
blast swept down the bay and a few large drops of 
rain fell. Rexford came hurrying, followed by the 
others. 

" The sooner we get you back the better," he said, 



THE METEOPOLITANS 247 

looking upward at the lowering clouds. They were 
stowed in the boat again in inarvelously quick time 
and heading for home. But once out from the shel 
tering cove the gale came full upon them, with sheets 
of rain and dashing and roaring of waves. The wind 
was in their favor, and they sped on through the tur 
moil, with great dislodged bergs rushing out of the 
bay and tottering and striking against one another in 
perilous proximity to them. Clouds overhead cast a 
threatening gloom, in which the huge glaciers reared 
themselves spectral and awesome, while the blast and 
the overtopping waves came swooping down upon the 
little party in the boat as though to snatch a prey. 
There was hardly a word spoken, but, with faces grim 
and teeth set, the men worked their sometimes slow and 
toilsome and sometimes flying way ; but when at last 
the keel grated on the longed-for beach Rexf ord picked 
up the silent Jasmina in his arms and held her for a 
moment before setting her down. 

" I thank Heaven for your sake," said he. 

"Thank you," she replied, with a breathless little 
laugh, closing her arms about his neck, and the next 
moment was fighting her way through the wind toward 
the house. The Norwegian stepped out after her, and 
no one could tell exactly how it happened, but sud 
denly his gun went off and a bullet pierced Rexf ord's 
fur hood close to his head. 

"It caught in my sleeve," Andersen said hastily. 
"I did not know it was cocked." 

Rexford looked him straight in the face. " If you 
handle a gun so carelessly you should not be trusted 
with one," said he, turning on his heel. 



248 THE METROPOLITANS 

Now, day after day, some one mounted the hill 
overlooking the bay that they might have the first 
sight of the relief vessel steaming in. But the mouth 
wore away without its appearance, and Dr. Ritler would 
always say, " To-morrow, very likely." At last he said 
to his wife, " Rexford and I have talked it over, and 
we agree that the boat may have been delayed, or per 
haps cannot reach us through the thick ice which still 
prevails, we have seen, below us in the sound. It is 
a late spring, after all. If we go to meet them through 
the open water up here, it saves time. And and you 
know our provisions were for only one winter. We 
can reach, in any case, one or two caches while wait 
ing ; and there seems to be no game about here now." 

" There is a good deal of seal meat still, and a few 
auks and guillemots." 

He shook his head. "Not enough for another 
winter. Another winter, too, with the Norwegian 
shut up in the same house with Rexford ! Do you 
think that was an accident with his gun?" 

" Jasmina and I need not keep you back," she said 
then firmly. " We are accustomed now to life here and 
can stand a tramp." 

All began energetically to pack the small amount 
allowed in the boats. They would not admit, even to 
themselves, that it could be anything but a slight delay 
of the steamer. It was but a short time before the 
boats were well down the bay, coasting where they 
could, and with propitious weather making good dis 
tance at first. Then it snowed steadily, and the ice in 
the passage thickened, and it was harder and harder 
to get through, and in one place Dr. Ritler stopped in 



THE METROPOLITANS 249 

dismay, for here towered in their way tremendous floe- 
bergs, with no outlet around them. " This one is split ! " 
called Rexford, excitedly, standing up in the boat. " I 
believe we may go through ! " And they made the 
wonderful passage through a split berg, the lane of 
water being but twelve feet wide, though one hun 
dred feet long, with perpendicular ice- wall fifty feet 
high on each side. Beyond this again the ice-foot, 
loosening, presented the constant danger of grinding 
their boats. But just as they first began to look 
doubtfully at one another matters mended. They 
found the ice melted in a fairly safe though narrow strip 
along the western shore, and Dr. Ritler decided to haul 
the boats up on it, and with the rubber tent-cloths form 
a temporary resting-place. 

"They will easily find us here," he told Rexford, 
hopefully, "and the women are much exhausted. I 
must appeal to them for everything. That is a woman's 
panacea to find others dependent on her for cheering." 

Indeed, it was wonderful how Mrs. Ritler and the 
fragile-looking Jasmina alike ministered to the others. 
Jens went out in his kayak to look for walrus; for 
their fare was scant, and the young photographer con 
fided to him that it was " a queer feeling to be always 
hungry." The younger hunters both came back badly 
frost-bitten and were laid up. In two or three days 
the professor said to Rexford, abruptly, " There ought 
to be a cache in the direction I have marked on this 
map, and it would be a most helpful addition to the 
little we have left. Could you go with Andersen ? The 
youngsters are helpless just now, and, though they need 
the doctor, I do not like to leave him in charge of the 



250 THE METROPOLITANS 

women ; he has been acting so strangely, Jasmiua tells 
me, and frightened her once or twice. Two must go. 
You would be armed, of course, and, I think, able to 
take care of him." 

" Certainly," said Rexford, indifferently ; " he would 
be necessary with the sledge." 

The surgeon said nothing on receiving his orders, 
and looked no more morose than usual. They started 
early in the morning, Jasmina coming from the tents 
where the boys lay to watch them out of sight. "I 
saw that distressful raven again this morning," she 
told Dr. Bitter. Why does he follow us ? " 

" We may have to eat him," said Mrs. Ritler, trying 
to make a jest of their wretched plight. 

" I wish he would go away," repeated Jasmina. 

It was understood that the two absent would be 
back next day, and she languidly and abstractedly 
discharged her duties. The second day passed, how 
ever, without their return, and she could fix her mind 
on nothing else. 

When Rexford started on his journey he was agree 
ably surprised to find his companion, though silent, 
not obstructive in any way ; on the contrary, he made 
a suggestion now and then helpful enough and to the 
point. After some searching they found the cache 
about where Dr. Ritler had supposed it to be, but the 
supplies were spoiled. His companion shrugged his 
shoulders and said, his first evidenceof strangeness, 
" It makes no difference." After the night in sleeping- 
bags they started on the return journey ; and Rexford, 
climbing a small ice-hill the better to survey the shore 
on that side, slipped and fell, and rose again and 



THE METEOPOLITANS 251 

walked on immediately, but presently felt his ankle 
swollen and painful. After some further steps he was 
unable to stand on it at all, and sank down on the 
sledge he was helping to draw. 

"This is a bad business, Dr. Andersen," he said. 
" Perhaps you are strong enough to haul the load with 
me added. If not, go on to the tents and bring help 
back." 

" No," said the Norwegian, very quietly ; but some 
thing in his tone drew Rexford's attention, and he 
looked up at him and saw the gleam in his eyes which 
had frightened Jasmina. " It is not worth while," he 
continued. " I did not intend you to go back. One 
way will do just as well as another, and it will save 
me trouble now to leave you here. There is a heavy 
snow coming, and I will say you fell from the cliff ; 
and when they come to look the snow will have hid 
den you safely away." 

Rexford's hand went to his belt, but the other was 
too quick for him. He snatched the revolver from his 
grasp and sent it whirling through the snow. 

" It is not worth while," he said again, " or I would 
shoot you. It is a pity I cannot stay for the end of 
the fine gentleman that held his head so high and 
laughed and mocked, and cared nothing at all for the 
pretty creature's love that better men than he would 
have died to gain ; but the snow is coming and I will 
not waste time ; for I am going back to her, and very 
soon she will forget you, and I shall have my chance." 

Rexford watched him going off with uneven, wan 
dering steps, still talking to himself and waving his 
arms. This seemed to be the end, here in the ice des- 



252 THE METROPOLITANS 

ert with snow now falling, and alone. He tried again 
to stand, but found it impossible ; so, making himself 
as comfortable as possible, just waited. He had heard 
that one slept from cold and died so, but surely not 
with an ankle aching this way. Meanwhile the snow 
fell more and more thickly in a blinding white sheet. 
At the end of two or three hours the fatigue and pri 
vation of the journey began to tell on him in an in 
creasing drowsiness. " This will not do," he thought, 
and commenced to recite any song or poem he could 
remember, clapping his mittened hands together ; then, 
as the words mixed and tripped one another upon his 
heavy tongue, he suddenly began to shout. Was it 
only a continuation of confused fancies, or did a dis 
tant voice faintly answer him ? He called again and 
again. Had his enemy relented and come back ? No ; 
for, now that the response was nearer, the Eskimo's 
tones were unmistakable. 

Presently through the encompassing snow came 
Jens drawing a sledge, from which a little figure rose 
and drew near, bending over him. Jasmina, who, 
unknown to the others, had come in search of him, 
asked no questions, seeing that from exhaustion he 
was nearly unconscious; she quickly gave him some 
brandy. " We must get him on the sledge, Jens." The 
Eskimo grinned vacantly, his one mode of expressing 
emotion. It was, perhaps, in some of the wild and 
whirling fancies that had beset him that Bexford felt 
her, in stooping to help, press a kiss on his forehead. 
Her little mittened hands tucked the fur covering more 
securely about him, and then he remembered no more. 



THE METROPOLITANS 253 

" I am going to help you draw/' she told the Eskimo. 
" It is not far, and every moment is precious until we 
get him there." 

By this time the snow was thick to density, but 
they had a sort of glimmer of light from the midnight 
sun beyond, and Jens could find a way over trackless 
wastes. From utter fatigue she would stop drawing 
sometimes and walk panting beside the sledge ; and 
then, thinking time lost, take her place again with 
Jens, desperately striving to hurry him. It was about 
two in the morning when they reached the tents, where 
Dr. Kitler was anxiously looking for them. 

" He is not dead, and I have brought him back," she 
said proudly, with white lips. 

" Oh, my dear child, go to Mrs. Ritler at once." And 
while his wife gave the girl some hot drink and made 
her lie down, he, with Jens's help, tended Rexf ord. The 
latter came to himself in a little while enough to give 
information. 

"Well," said the professor, "he had better not 
come back ; and it is not likely that he will through 
this storm and his wits in disorder. He will have 
wandered off among the snow-drifts and never be 
heard of again. Unfortunate wretch ! But keep still 
now and do not talk." Outside he said to himself, " So 
our physician is gone when most needed. Well, it 
matters little ; for it is only a question of time with 
us all, I think." His own knowledge of the simpler 
remedies helped Rexford's vigorous constitution to 
throw off in a few days the effects of the exposure ; 
and the hurt to his ankle, proving to be but a severe 
strain, was yielding to treatment. The youngsters 



254 THE METROPOLITANS 

too, recovered from their injuries, were about again, 
helping weakly. 

" By heavens ! " said the photographer to Rexford, 
" that was a fine thing for that girl to do." 

When Mrs. Ritler next came from her tent on a visit 
to the convalescent he asked, " How is it Jasmina has 
never been in to see me ? " 

" It was a trying experience for her," said Mrs. Ritler, 
evasively, " and I am making her keep quite still." 

Rexford made no reply, but a few days later said to 
the professor, "I have been sitting up to-day, Dr. 
Ritler, and can now walk a few steps with a stick. My 
strength has pretty well returned. If Jasmina is ill, 
why do you not tell me ? " 

"Well then, ill she is very ill, we fear. I have 
done what I knew, but but it may be pneumonia; 
and here we are without a doctor, thanks to that ani 
mal's madness ! " 

Rexford was silent for a minute ; then said abruptly, 
"Why should the rest of us touch the little tea and 
pemmican left ? We are well enough to do with seal 
meat. She will need the other things for nourishment." 

"Yes," said the professor, huskily; "but the ship 
must be here soon." 

The younger men still went out every day with their 
guns, though no game had been seen. Rexford the 
morning after this limped out on his stick with them. 
The photographer made a hasty gesture outside to 
keep him back. "You 'd better not try the ankle." 
But Rexford went past him, listening to a weak strain 
of melody which smote on his heart and which all 
heard from the women's tent. It was Jasmin a's voice, 



THE METROPOLITANS 255 

though changed by illness. She sang that verse of 
" The House of Clay " which before she would not-: 

" Most like the next that passes by 
Will be the angel whose calm eye 

Marks rich, marks poor ; 
Who, pausing not at any gate, 

Stands and calls, stands and calls 

Why does he call ? " she broke off petulantly. " I would 
not wish to receive him. I do not know any angels." 
She resumed presently : 

" Whom, ere the crumbling clay house falls, 
He takes in kind arms, silently, 
And shuts the door. 

Ah, I like that. That is pleasant and warm." Another 
moment's pause, and she commenced talking rapidly 
and excitedly in an unknown tongue. The 3 r oung 
photographer's face was working. " Come on," he said 
gruffly to the astronomer. " We shall not shoot much 
standing here." Rexford remained where they left 
him in the dazzling sunlight. The creaking and groan 
ing of broken ice in the bay went on, and the yellow 
glare of the endless snow seemed mocking him. Mrs. 
Ritler came outside her tent for a moment. She had 
been weeping. He beckoned to her and she came. 

11 1 wish," he said, " that I might have thanked her 
while she knew." 

" She may be conscious soon," said Mrs. Ritler, with 
a sob, " but my husband thinks the end is near. I will 
call you if if she knows any one again." 

She hurried back. Jens was out in his kayak ; the 



256 THE METROPOLITANS 

hunters were still away. Rexf ord sat in and out of his 
tent for several hours, scarcely thinking. Then Dr. 
Ritler called him: 

" She will know you now." 

So sudden and acute had been this attack that she 
was hardly wasted. When he approached her low 
couch of skins there was a gleam of pleasure in her 
eyes again. He clasped her hand in both of his, but 
she whispered first, brokenly, " How glad I am and 
proud that I went for you ! Now you know why I 
came up here in the snow." 

" Jasmina dear, I was not worth the price of your 
warm, bright life ! " 

"I think so; but I am so tired." She lay awhile 
silent, her hand in his, Dr. and Mrs. Ritler coming and 
going quietly. Then the long dark lashes lifted once 
more from the olive cheek, and the great, soft, dark 
eyes looked longingly into his. "You might," she 
breathed, "kiss me good night." He bent over her, 
and presently Jasmina went to sleep for the last time. 




XX 

|HEY laid her reverently under the snow 
at the foot of the nearest cliff; and it 
seemed as though in the little white 
mound were put away what light and 
warmth had kept up their courage until 
now. Their small stock of provisions grew more and 
more scanty; their hollow cheeks showed the ever- 
present craving which distressed them. The men res 
olutely set aside certain articles from their miserable 
supply for Mrs. Ritler, and even now she would resort 
to touching stratagem to share these portions with her 
husband and the others. They were too weak to think 
of moving farther southward, even if the boats had 
not been gradually broken up for firewood. And an 
other misfortune came to them when poor, devoted 
Jens, venturing too far among the broken ice after 
walrus, was capsized and seen no more. The little 
party of five kept up but a hollow pretense of bravery 
now, as time went on without succor ; and the glass fall 
ing and the snow drifting into the tents showed them 
the flight of summer ; and the cold, which hunger made 
them feel more keenly, increased. 

One night they had all been unable to sleep for the 
storm, which threatened to snatch their wretched 
" 257 



258 THE METROPOLITANS 

shelter from overhead, and the spray from the inlet 
and even waves rolled in, wetting and freezing. With 
the morning came calm and the possibility of a little 
heat to warm their few mouthfuls. " I am quite sure," 
said Dr. Ritler to Rexford, " we are abandoned for this 
year which means forever." 

" I still think," said Rexford, calmly, " that they will 
come perhaps because I do not care much, except for 
you and the others." He took his gun, from force of 
habit, and dragged himself up the hill overlooking the 
bay before turning in for needful rest. His eyes, like 
those of his companions, had been somewhat affected 
by the snow-glare, and he did not wholly trust them ; 
but surely it was smoke that he saw rising faintly from 
the open water far below the smoke of a vessel; and 
surely that was her whistle now. He shouted with all 
the strength left him ; he raised his gun above his head 
and waved it. They saw him, dark against the ice- 
cliffs, heard him, and shouted and whistled again in 
return. He went back to the tents and met Dr. Ritler 
coming out. 

" They have come for us," he told him. " Your wife 
is saved." She heard him from inside, and, overcome 
after long suspense, became unconscious. 

"It does not matter," said the professor, brokenly, 
tending her. " Joy will not kill." 

There was soon the rush of sympathizing, minister 
ing officers from the boat. But Rexford had eyes for 
only one ; a tall, thin figure, a light-haired man with 
eye-glasses, who came swiftly over the crackling snow 
and seized his hands and looked into his eyes and 
threw his arms around him. 



THE METROPOLITANS 259 

" Penrose ! " cried Rexford, stupefied. 

" Lad, lad ! " said his comrade of the past, " I began 
to fear we should not find you ! " Then he looked to 
ward the only female figure, about whom the little 
crowd clustered. "Jasmins?" 

The little snow mound, with flag as headstone, was 
in bright yellow light. Rexford drew him apart and 
motioned to it. 

" Ah ! " He shrank as from a blow ; then walked 
slowly to the mound and looked down on it for a few 
moments. 

" Mrs. Ritler will tell you," muttered Rexford ; " I 
cannot." 

The tender, enlightened care they received, the quiet 
and assured safety which was their portion as passen 
gers on the sturdy vessel forcing its way toward home 
through the stubborn ice, soon restored calmness and 
strength to those who, happily, had not reached the 
lowest ebb. As a time and place of preparation before 
too sudden a transition to the different world this 
voyage was invaluable. Beyond an unusual spareness 
of form and a slight limp, Rexford had recovered some 
of his old-time appearance before they steamed into St. 
John's again. " The captain tells me," he said to Pen- 
rose, " that he shall stay in harbor a few days ; but if 
we prefer to hurry we may return by the steamer we 
shall meet as we go in." 

" And which will you choose ? " 

" Whichever you do, of course. Penrose, the officers 
have just told me what I might have known. Instead 
of merely accompanying this relief party it is practi 
cally yours, instituted and carried out through your 



260 THE METROPOLITANS 

idea and energy, when otherwise there was not a chance 
for us. And you think, after that, that we could go 
back in any way but together ! " 

It was the older man that might now have been mis 
taken for the rescued instead of the rescuer, a certain 
melancholy gravity having settled upon him, and an 
inscrutable expression which would have puzzled Rex- 
ford but that he was watching the outgoing steamer's 
approach. He presently went forward, leaving Pen- 
rose ; for, as the others of the exploring party left by 
this boat, there was much to be said, after all they had 
undergone together, to the Ritlers and the young men 
promises of continued interest, pledges of future 
meetings ; and all knew too well the uncertainty of Me 
and human affairs to count very much on what they 
said. 

He was still calling and waving to them when a 
bundle of mail was tossed from the deck of their vessel. 
He did not observe, as he gazed after the receding f onns 
of his friends, that the captain, passing him, handed a 
letter to Penrose. It was to the latter an unknown 
hand, and opening it he looked, as one does, at the 
signature first, which was "Frances, Lady Mellon." 
She wrote to him : " You will see, dear Mr. Penrose, 
that this is dated from St. John's, where for many 
weary weeks we have been waiting for some sign of 
you. And that you should come in at last, having 
fulfilled your noble promise and been his savior! I 
must wait to see you before I can tell you what thanks 
are in my heart. I have with me my son's betrothed, 
Miss de Mansur, but, as we have no particulars of his 
rescue beyond his being alive, we will not venture 



THE METROPOLITANS 261 

among the welcoming crowd that will meet you at the 
wharf, fearing that it might agitate him if much en 
feebled. We have strained our eyes many hours 
watching for the steamer, and now wait your coming 
in our rooms at the Queen's Hotel. You will tell him, 
please, and believe me, your most grateful," etc. 

There was a postscript at the foot of this : " May God 
reward you, Mr. Penrose," signed "K. DE M." He 
smiled drearily, looking out over the water. " Perhaps 
He has in taking from me the one creature on whom 
I had a rightful claim." He detached the postscript 
from the rest of the writing and placed it carefully in 
his note-book, and tore up and threw away the rest. 

The receding steamer was far out on the bay now, 
and the town was assuming shape and outlines. They 
had the after part of the deck to themselves, the others 
crowding forward. There was to be some delay in 
getting in ; they did not inquire into the cause. 

" Do you know, Penrose, I am more than loath to 
return to civilization ? What can it give me ? I was 
so tired of it when I went north ! " 

"Will you break loose again, then" (mockingly), 
" and come with me ? " 

"Where? when?" 

" If any man turns ass, 
Leaving his wealth and ease 
A stubborn will to please, 

There shall he see 

Gross fools as he 

I beg your pardon, my dear fellow" (relapsing into 
his habitual gravity) ; " I was convinced that you left 

17* 



262 THE METROPOLITANS 

behind you the last time most that makes life worth 
living." 

Rexford looked at him, questioning. 

" It is in the snow," said Penrose, calmly, " that / 
have left my nearest." His companion continued to 
look at him. Penrose laid his hand on the rail, gazing 
at the softly lapping waves. " Jasmina was my sister, 
you know ; or perhaps I never told you." 

"No." 

" Well, yes. The same father. And when he went 
off and left her Gipsy mother and me too quite 
friendless, that kind creature saved me from much ill 
treatment when she might have hated me, too; for 
I was said to look like him. Well, the least I could 
do was to befriend the little daughter when the mother 
died ; and afterward, when I came back and found her 
still a child married to a brute of her tribe, I would n't 
leave her, but stood between her and his violence as 
much as I could. The end came abruptly one day. 
She was really too soft and slight a thing for him to 
be so cruel ; I killed him when he drew a knife." There 
was a pause for a moment or two. " After that it was 
better to go and take her away from all of them. I 
had her taught, and with her beauty and gifts success 
was an easy matter. I was very fond of her." 

" If my lif e could have saved hers ! " said Rexford, 
very low. 

" She was the only being I cared for until I met 
you, lad. To lose both but I will not have you ; you 
shall not come with me. There is your mother, you 
know." 

" Yes " (dryly) ; " she is a long way off." 



THE METEOPOLITANS 263 

" Not so far as you think. She crossed to New York 
to seek for news of you." 

" Ah " (softening a little), " you did not tell me." 

"No. I am giving you home news as they gave you 
food at first little by little, not to shock the system. 
What should you say if she were waiting for you in 
the town here eagerly waiting ? " 

Rexford flushed. There would, after all, be some 
one of his own to welcome him back to life ! His mood 
became daring. " Tell me," he cried, going close to 
Penrose, "of other friends too." 

" Of Miss de Mansur, do you mean ? I saw her be 
fore leaving. She bade me tell you she was waiting 
for you." 

Rexford turned his back to walk the length of the 
deck. He returned with crest upreared almost as of 
old. 

"Are you quite, quite sure?" 

"As sure as that your world begins afresh. I am 
fairly sure of one thing more that she waits for you 
in the town here with your mother." 

Again Rexford turned his back. The ship was near- 
ing shore rapidly now. It seemed to the captain and 
others that Mr. Rexford might restrain his impatience a 
little better. His mother was in St. John's ? oh ! that 
was different. How wonderfully well that young fellow 
looked after all he 'd been through ! Arctic privation 
must have made him handsomer. Surprising that 
people should leave comforts and luxuries to get into 
danger and hardship. Now when one did it for a liv 
ing, as he himself did, but this young man was very 
rich, he heard, and a famous composer. The bluff, 



264 THE METROPOLITANS 

voluble man did not notice that Mr. Penrose's face was 
quite gray and that he appeared not to hear what was 
said to him. 

At last the steamer was in, and the crowd's attention, 
rightfully belonging to the whole arctic party, was 
concentrated on its sole representative. "You will 
not," he cried to Penrose, "let me run this gantlet 
alone on the wharf ; you '11 come with me. No ? Then 
to dinner, of course ; my mother will certainly expect 
you." 

" Not to-night," said Penrose. Something in his tone 
struck Rexf ord, who turned and looked at him. Pen- 
rose put his arm once more around his friend's shoul 
der. " Good-by, my dear lad. I have cared for you 
too; good-by." 

"Until to-morrow, then," called Rexf ord, running 
down the gang-plank. He bowed and smiled plea 
santly right and left to the cheering crowd, but was 
glad to take refuge from the shouts in a cab, which 
presently brought him to his hotel. And his heart beat 
high as he sprang up the staircase to meet again the 
mother against whom he felt he had cherished some 
bitterness. Her sitting-room door was already opened 
expectantly. She drew him within, closing it, and fell 
upon his shoulder. " My dear, dear mother ! " he cried, 
his heart melting at once at her aspect and mourning 
robes. 

" My only son ! " she said, with sobs. " If a mother 
might acknowledge injustice might ask pardon" 

" No, no," he interrupted. 

"Then if suspense can atone I have suffered so 
much. But I have a gift of great value of priceless 



THE METROPOLITANS 265 

worth to make restitution with. It will repay for all." 
Even now he winced at this. Could she speak of 
atoning materially for the hurt inflicted ? " Let me 
kiss you and bless you, my own son, before making 
this gift." Indeed, she was all mother now, and it was 
with a pang of renunciation indescribable that, after 
embracing him, she withdrew herself. She opened a 
door and went in. " Katheriue ! " she called. In a 
moment she came back, leading the girl with her. 
" See, now," she said, " this is full reparation," and left 
him. Katherine advanced toward him, while he stood 
motionless, transfixed. Tall of figure, robed in some 
thing soft and white, her eyes shining, she stood a few 
paces away. Even so had he often dreamed in arctic 
snows. But this was no vision. 

" Welcome back, my own," said her soft voice, " to 
life and me ! " Then he held her clasped in his arms, 
and their lips met. " Oh ! " she cried 5 " no more j you 
almost frighten me." 

"You must not rebuke me," he answered masterfully. 
" I have waited long, fasting." And he lifted her quite 
up in his arms and kissed her hair and cheek again. 
" My dear, brave, beautiful darling ! My dainty 
sweet ! To have come away up here to meet me ! It 
repays for all even for your letting me go." There 
was some confused remembrance on this of rumors, 
of a strange visit, of a letter delayed ; but there was a 
golden future stretching ahead in which would be 
ample time for explanations. All that was needed now 
was to know that her dear and only love stood again 
at her side. 

" Indeed, I knew you had forgotten me," smiled his 



266 THE METROPOLITANS 

mother when he brought Katherine to her. She had 
carefully removed all traces of the bitter tears which 
came at the thought, "I have lost this one too," and 
she could smile as she said, " She has been my daugh 
ter already all these weeks. She is a birthday present 
to you, my Allan ; it is your anniversary." 

" Much has happened," said he, when she left them 
again, " since my majority at twenty -five, two years 
ago. But now I enter into my kingdom ! " He turned 
and clasped once more his fondly yielding, gracious 
sweetheart. 

It was to him that a note came next day. 

" You will receive this," it said, " when I am far away 
from you; for I have hired a boat to overtake the 
steamer already started. No one wishes you both 
more happiness than I, but you will not see me again. 
The few years spent in New York have satisfied me. 
The price was too heavy. I cannot tell where I may 
pitch my tent next, being naturally a rover. You may 
know by this time that you need not have been parted 
so long but for me. Ah well ! as I brought you back, 
perhaps your beautiful friend may forget that. It 
was poor little Jasmina whose stakes were too high ; 
but life hardly treated her quite fairly, poor child 
Tell Miss de Mansur I have a talisman which will keep 
me safe for a while. Beyond that I cannot say, but 
one road or another is much the same. Perhaps, if I 
chance upon Jasmina's people, they may remember to 
exact vendetta. It is all one. But I have cared for 
you, believe me. 

"STEPHEN PENROSE." 



THE METROPOLITANS 267 

Rexford crumpled this in his hand. " I think I had 
counted on him assuredly in my life," he said slowly ; 
then went to the window and looked abstractedly far 
over the waters of the bay. He saw in thought, a lit 
tle white mound at the foot of a distant snow-cliff in 
the remote northern waste ; and it was pure fancy that 
from the twisted note a scent of sandalwood breathed 
in his face. 

" I wonder what talisman he carries," Katherine said 
softly. But her lover did not answer ; so she went and 
laid her head on his shoulder. 



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