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The idea was so foreign to his temperament 
that Heriot was reluctant to believe that he had 
entertained it even during a few seconds. He 
continued his way past the big pink house and 
the girl on the balcony, surprised at the interest 
roused in him by this fortuitous discovery of 
her address. Of what moment was it where she 
was staying? He had noticed her among the 
O crowd about the band-stand one morning, and 
f admired her. In other words, he had uncon- 
sciously attributed to the possessor of a delicious 
complexion and a pair of grey eyes, darkly 
fringed, vague characteristics to which she was 

I B 


probably a stranger. He had seen her the next 
day also, and the next— even hoped to see her ; 
speculated quite idly what her social position 
might be, and how she came beside the impos- 
sible woman who accompanied her. All that 
was nothing ; his purpose in coming to East- 
bourne was to be trivial. But why the sense 
of gratification with which he had learnt where 
she lived ? 

As to the idea which had crossed his brain, 
that was preposterous! Of course, since the 
pink house was a boarding establishment, he 
might, if he would, make her acquaintance by 
the simple expedient of removing there, but he 
did not know how he could have meditated such 
a step. It was the sort of semi-disreputable 
folly which a man a decade or so younger 
might commit, and describe as a "lark." No 
doubt many men a decade or so younger would 
commit it He could conceive that a freshly- 
painted balcony, displaying a pretty girl for an 
hour or two every afternoon, might serve to 
extend the clientele of a boarding-house enor- 
mously, and wondered that more attention had 
not been paid to such a form of advertise- 




ment For himself, however, — ^his hair was 
already thinning at the temples ; solicitors were 
deferential to him, and his clerk was taking 
a villa in Brixton — for himself, it would not 

Eastbourne was dreary, he reflected, as he 
strolled towards the inevitable Wish Tower. 
He was almost sorry that he had not gone to 
Fairlawn, and quartered himself on his brother 
for a week or two instead. Francis was always 
pleased to meet him of recent years, and no 
longer remarked early in the conversation that 
he was "overdrawn at Cox's," On the whole, 
Francis was not a bad fellow, and Fairlawn and 
pheasants would have been livelier. 

He stifled a yawn, and observed with relief 
that it was near the dinner-hour. In the even- 
ing he turned over the papers in the smoking- 
room. He perceived, as he ofl:en did perceive 
in the vacations, that he was lonely. Vacations 
were a mistake : early in one's career one could 
not afford them, and by the time one was able 
to do so, the taste for holidays was gone. This 
hotel was depressing, too. The visitors were 
dull, and the cooking was indifferent What 



could be more tedious than the meal from which 
he had just risen ? — the feeble soup, the flaccid 
fish, the uninterrupted view of the stout lady 
with the aquiline nose, and a red shawl across 
her shoulders. Now he was lolling on a 
morocco couch, fingering the Field ; two or three 
other men lay about, napping, or looking at the 
Graphic, There was a great deal of tobacco- 
smoke, and a little whisky; he might as well 
have stopped in town, and gone to the club. 
He wondered what they did in Belle Vue 
Mansion after dinner. Perhaps there was music, 
and the girl sang ? he could fancy that she sang 
well. Or they might have impromptu dances ? 
He did not care for dancing personally, but 
even to see other people enjoying themselves 
would be comparatively gay. After all, why 
should he not remove to Belle Vue Mansion if 
he wished ? He had attached a significance 
to the step that it did not possess, making it 
appear absurd by the very absurdity of the 
consideration he accorded it. He remembered 
the time when he would not have hesitated — 
those were the days when Francis was always 
"overdrawn at Cox's." Well, he had worked 



hard since then, and anything that Francis 
might have lent him had been repaid, and he 
had gradually acquired soberer views of life. 
Perhaps he might be said to have gone to an 
extreme, indeed, and taken the pledge ! He 
sometimes felt old, and he was still in the 
thirties. Francis was the younger of the two of 
late, although he had a boy in the Brigade ; but 
elder sons often kept young very long — it was 
easy for them, like the way of righteousness 
to a bishop. ... A waiter cast an inquir- 
ing glance round the room, and, crossing 
to the sofa, handed him a card. Heriot read 
the name with astonishment ; he had not seen 
the man for sixteen years, and even their 
irregular correspondence had died a natural 

** My dear fellow ! " he exclaimed in the hall. 
"Come inside." 

In the past, of which he had just been think- 
ing, he and Dick Cheriton had been staunch 
friends, none the less staunch because Cheriton 
was some years his senior. Dick had a studio in 
Rowland Street then, and was going to set the 
Academy on fire. In the meanwhile he wore a 



yellow necktie, and married madly, and smoked 
a clay pipe ; he could not guarantee that he 
would be an R.A., but at least he was resolved 
that he would be a Bohemian. He had all the 
qualifications for artistic success, excepting the 
talent When he discovered the fact beyond the 
possibility of mistake, he accepted a relative's 
offer of a commercial berth in the United States, 
and had his hair cut. The valedictory supper 
in the studio, at which he had renounced ambi- 
tion, and solemnly burned all his canvases, which 
the dealers would not buy, had been a very 
affecting spectacle. 

"My dear fellow!" cried Heriot "Come 
inside. This is a tremendous pleasure ! When 
did you arrive ? " 

" Came over in the Germanic^ ten days ago. 
It is you, then ! I saw * George Heriot ' in the 
Visitors' List, and strolled round on the chance. 

I scarcely hopec^ How are you, old man ? 

I'm mighty glad to see you — fact ! " 

" You've been here ten days ? " 

" Not here, no ; I've only been in Eastbourne 
a few hours." 

" You should have looked me up in town." 



" I tried. Your chambers were shut" 
" Of course ; but the porter at the club- 


" What club ? You forget what an exile I 
am ! " 

" Have a drink ? Well, upon my word, this 
is very jolly ! Sit down ; try one of these ! " 

"Would you have recognised me?" asked 
Cheriton, stretching his legs, and lighting 

" You have changed," admitted Heriot ; " it's 
a long time. IVe changed too." 

They regarded each other with a gaze of 
friendly criticism. Heriot noted with some 
surprise that the other's appearance savoured 
little of the American man of business, or of the 
man of business outside America. His hair, 
though less disordered than it had been in the 
Howland Street period, was still rather longer 
than is customary in the city. It was now grey, 
and became him admirably. He wore a brown 
velvet jacket, and showed a glimpse of a loosely 
tied knot of silk. He no longer looked a 
Bohemian, but he had acquired the air of a 

" Have you come home for good, Cheriton ? " 



Cheriton shook his head. 

" I guess the States have got me for life," he 
answered ; " Tm only making a trip. And you ? 
YouVe still at the Bar, eh ? " 

" Oh, yes," said Heriot drily ; " Tm still at the 
Bar." (It IS not agreeable, when you have suc- 
ceeded in a profession, to be asked if you belong 
to it still.) " IVe travelled on the lines on which 
you left me — it doesn't make an exciting narra- 
tive. Chambers, court, and bed ! A laundress 
or two has died in the interval. The thing 
pays better than it used to do, naturally ; that's 

" You're doing well ? " 

" I should have called it * doing well ' once ; 
but we are all Olivers in our hearts. To- 
day " 

" Mistake ! " said the elder man. " You 
wanted the Bar — ^you've got the Bar ; you ought 
to be satisfied. Now / " 

" Yes ? " said Heriot, as he paused. " How's 

the world used you, Cheriton ? " By the 

way, you never answered my last letter, I 


" It W2is you who didn't answer me,** 



" I fancy not You were going to Chicago, 
and I wrote " 

" I wrote after I arrived in Chicago." 

" Well, it must be five years ago ; we won't 
argue. What did you do in Chicago, Cheri- 
ton ? " 

"No good, sir. I went there with a patent 
horse-collar. Capital invention — not my own, I 
never invented anything! — ^but it didn't catch 
on. They seemed to take no interest in horse- 
collars ; no money in it, not a cent ! After the 
horse-collar I started in the dry-goods trade ; 
but I was burned out. From Chicago I went to 
Duluth ; IVe an hotel there to-day." 

" An hotel ? " 

** That's so. It isn't a distinguished career, 
running a little hotel, but it's fairly easy. Com- 
pared with hustling with horse-collars it's 
luxurious. Duluth is a hole ; but what would 
you have ! I make my way, and that's all I 

ask now. If I had my life over again " 

He sighed. " If we could have our lives over 
again, eh, Heriot?" 

" Humph ! " said Heriot doubtfully ; he was 
wondering if he could make any better use of 



his own — if he would be any livelier the next 
time he was eight-and-thirty. " I suppose we 
all blunder^, of course." 

" You are a young man yet ; it's different for 
you ; and you're in the profession of your choice : 
it*s entirely different. We don't look at the 
thing from the same standpoint, Heriot" 

" You don't mean that you regret giving up 

" Sir," said Cheriton mournfully, " it was the 
error I shall always regret ! I wouldn't say as 
much to anybody else; I keep it here" — he 
tapped his velvet jacket—" but I had a gift, and 
I neglected it ; I had power, and — and I run an 
hotel ! When I reflect, man, there are hours — 
well, it's no use crying over spilt milk ; but to 
think of the position I should have made, and to 
contrast it with what I am, is bitter." He swept 
back his wavy hair impatiently, and in the 
momentary pose looked more like a celebrity 
still. Heriot could see that the cherished de- 
lusion gave him a melancholy pleasure, and was 
at a loss how to reply. 

" It was up-hill work," he said at last " Who 
can tell ! Luck " 



" I was a lad, an impetuous lad ; and I was 
handicapped — I married ! " (The man with a 
failure to explain is always grateful to have 
married.) " But I had the stuff in me, I had the 
temperament. *Had' it? I have it now! I 
may keep an hotel, but I shall never be an hotel- 
keeper. God gave me my soul, sir ; circum- 
stances gave me an hotel. I mayn't paint any 
more, but an artist by nature I shall always be ! 
I don't say it in any bragging spirit, Heriot ; I 
should be happier if I didn't feel it The 
commonplace man may be contented in the 
commonplace calling: he fills the r61e he was 
meant for. It's the poor devil like myself, who 
knows what he might have been, who suffers ! " 

Heriot did not pursue the subject ; he puffed 
his cigar meditatively. After the effervescence 
subsides, such meetings must always have a little 
sadness ; he looked at the wrinkles that had 
gathered in his friend's face, and realized the 
crow's-feet on his own. 

"You lost your wife, you wrote me?" he 
remarked, breaking a rather lengthy silence. 

" In New York, yes — pneumonia. You never 
married, eh ? " 



" No. Do you stay over here long ? " 

" A month or two ; I can't manage more ! 
But I shall leave my girl in London. IVe 
brought her with me, and she'll remain." 

" Of course," said Heriot, " you have a child — 
of course you have ! I remember a little thing 
tumbling about in Rowland Street. She must 
be a woman, Cheriton ? " 

" Mamie is twenty-one. I want to see if I can 
do anything for her before I go back. She 
loathes Duluth ; and she has talent She'll live 
with my sister. I don't think you ever saw my 
sister, did you ? She is a widow, and stagnates 
in Wandsworth — Mamie will be company for 

" Your daughter paints ? " 

" No, not paints ; she wants to be an actress. 
I wasn't very keen on it; but she's got the 
material in her, and I concluded I'd no right 
to say * no *. Still, she's not very strong — takes 
after her mother, I'm afraid, a little ; I'd rather 
she'd had a gift for something else." 

" Was it necessary for her to have a gift 
at all?" asked Heriot, a shade sarcastically. 
"Couldn't she stop at home?" 



" Well," said Cheriton, " she tried it, but it's a 
hard thing for a girl like' Mamie to content her- 
self with the life in Duluth. There isn't much 
art in that, Heriot ; there isn't much anything. 
There's the lake, and Superior Street, and the 
storekeepers lounging in the doorways and 
spitting on the wooden side-walks. And there's 
a theatre of a sort — which made her worse. For 
a girl panting to be famous, Duluth is a hell. 
She's been breaking her heart in it ever since 
she was sixteen ; and after all, it's in the blood. 
It would have been odd if my daughter hadiit 
had the artistic temperament, I suppose ! " 

" I suppose it would," said Heriot " Well, 
why doesn't she go on the stage in America ? 
I shouldn't think she'd find it easy here." 

" She wouldn't find it easy there. There's no 
stock company in Duluth ; only the travelling 
companies come sometimes for a few nights. 
There's no bigger opportunity for her on the 
other side than on this. Besides, she* wants the 
English stage. I wonder if you know anybody 
who could give her any introductions ? " 

" I ? " said Heriot ; " not a soul ! '* 

" Tm sorry to hear you say that," replied 



Cheriton blankly; "I was counting on you 
same ! " 

Heriot looked at him. 

" You counted on me ! " he said ; " for Heaven's 
sake, why ? " 

" Well, I don't know many people over here 
to-day, you see ; the fellows I used to knock 
against have died, gone to the Colonies — 
fizzled out You were solid ; and you were 
a swell, with connections and all that! I 
understand the stage has become very fashion- 
able in London — I thought you might meet 
actor-managers at dinners and f(§tes and blessed 
things. That was the idea ; I daresay it was 
very stupid, but I had it. I mentioned your 
name to Mamie as soon as it was settled we 
should come. However, we'll fix the matter 

" I'm sorry to prove a disappointment," said 
Heriot " Tell your daughter so for me. I'd do 
what you want with pleasure, if I were able. 
You know that, I'm sure ? " 

" Oh, I know that," said Cheriton ; " it can't 
be helped. Yes, I'll tell her. She will be dis- 
appointed, of course ; she understands how 



difficult the thing is without influence, and 
I've talked about you a lot." 

"Do you think you were wise to — to " 

" Oh, it was a mistake as it turns out." 
" I don't mean that only. I mean, do you 
think you were wise to encourage her hopes 
in such a direction at all ? Frankly, if / had 

a daughter Forgive me for speaking 


" My dear fellow ! your daughter and mine ! 
— their paths would be as wide apart as the 
Poles. And you don't know Mamie ! " 

•*At all events I know that the stage is 
more overcrowded every year. Most girls are 
stage-struck at some time or other ; and there 
are hundreds of actresses who can't earn bread- 
and-cheese, A man I know has his type-writing 
done by a woman who used to be on the stage. 
She played the best parts in the country, I 
believe, and, I daresay, nursed the expectation 
of becoming a Bernhardt She gets a pound 
a week in his office, he tells me, and was 
thankful to obtain the post!" 

" Mamie is bound to come to the front She's 
got it — she's an artist born ! I tell you, I should 



be brutal to stand in the way of her career ; 

the girl is pining, really pining, for distinction. 

When youVe talked to her you'll change your 


" Perhaps," said Heriot, as the shortest way of 

ending the discussion ; " very likely Fm wrong ! " 

The budding genius bored him. " Mind you 

explain to the young lady that my inability, and 

not my will, refuses, at any rate." 

" That's all right," declared Cheriton, getting 
up. " I told her I was coming round to see if 
it was you." He laughed. " She's picturing me 
coming back with a bushel of letters of intro- 
duction from you by now, Til bet ! Well, I must 
be going ; it's getting late." 

" You brought her down to Eastbourne 
to-day ? " 

" Oh, I've been dangling about town a little 
by myself ; Mamie and my sister have been here 
a week. Good-night, old chap ; shall I see you 
to-morrow? You might give us a look in if 
you will — say in the afternoon. Belle Vue 
Mansion ; don't forget ! " 

" Where ? " exclaimed Heriot, startled into 



" Belle Vue Mansion," repeated Cheriton, 
gripping his hand. " You can't miss it : a big 
pink house on the Esplanade." 




Heriot betook himself there on the following 
day with a curious eagerness. If the girl he 
had noticed should prove to be Cheriton*s 
daughter, how odd it would be ! He at once 
hoped for the coincidence, and found the pos- 
sibility a shade pathetic. It emphasized his 
years to think that the ill-kept child of the dirty 
studio might have become the girl he had 
admired. His progress during the interval ap- 
peared momentarily insignificant to him; he 
felt that while a brat became a woman he ought 
to have done much more. He was discouraged 
to reflect that he had not taken silk; for he 
had always intended to take silk, and had small 
misgivings that he would have cause to repent 
it. His practice had indicated for some time 
that he would not suffer by the step, and yet 
he had delayed his application. His motto 



had been, "Slow and Sure," but it seemed to 
him suddenly that he had been too slow ; his 
income as a Junior should not have contented 
him so long. 

He pulled the bell, and was preceded up the 
stairs by a maid-servant, who opened a door, 
and announced him to the one occupant of the 
room. Heriot saw that she was the girl of the 
balcony and the Parade, and that she moved 
towards him smiling. In the instant of his 
anticipation being confirmed, the coincidence 
looked stranger to him still. 

" I am Mamie Cheriton," she said. " My 
father is expecting you." 

Her intonation was faintly American, but her 
voice was full and sweet. He took her hand 
with singular pleasure, and a touch of excite- 
ment that did not concord with his countenance, 
which was formal and impassive. 

" I am glad to make your acquaintance, Miss 

" Won't you sit down ? " she said. " He will 
be here in a minute." 

Heriot took a seat, and decided that her eyes 
were even lovelier than he had known. 



" When I saw you last, you were a child," he 
remarked inaccurately. 

" Yes ; it must have astonished you meeting 
my father again after so many years. It was 
funny your being here, wasn't it ? . . . But 
perhaps you often come to Eastbourne ? " 

" No," said Heriot, " no, I don't often come. 
How does it strike you. Miss Cheriton ? I 
suppose you can hardly remember England, 
can you?" 

"Well, I shan't be sorry to be settled in 
London. It was London I was anxious to go 
to, not a seaside resort . . . Do you say * sea- 
side resort ' in Europe, or is it wrong ? When I 
said * seaside resort 'this morning, I noticed that 
a woman stared at me." 

" One generally says a * watering-place * over 
here," he admitted ; " I don't know that it's 

" Well, a * watering-place ' then. A watering- 
place was my aunt's wish. Well Well, I'jn 

saying * well ' too often, I guess ? — that's Ameri- 
can, too ! I've got to be quite English — ^that's 
my first step. But at least I don't talk through 
my nose, Mr. Heriot, do I ? " 



" You talk very delightfully, I think," he said, 
taken aback. 

" I hope you mean it ! My voice is most im- 
portant, you know. It would be very cruel that 
I should be handicapped in my own country 
by having a foreigner's voice. I shall have diffi- 
culties enough without ! " 

" I'm afraid," he said, " that Fm unfortunate. 
I wish I could have done something to further 
the ambitions your father mentioned." 

She smiled again, rather wistfully this time. 

"They seem very absurd to you, I dare- 

He murmured deprecation : " Why ? " 

" The stage-struck girl is always absurd." 

Recognising his own phrase, he perceived that 
he had been too faithfully reported, and was 

" I fear I spoke hastily. In the abstract the 
stage-struck girl may be absurd, but so is a 
premature opinion." 

" Thank you ! " she said. " But why * stage- 
struck,' anyhow ? it's a term I hate. I suppose 
you wanted to be a barrister, Mr. Heriot ? " 

" I did," he confessed, " certainly. There are 



a great many, but I thought there was room for 

one more." 

" But you weren't described as * bar-struck ' ? " 

" I don't think I ever heard the expres- 

"It would be a very foolish one? " 

" It would sound so to me." 

" Why * stage-struck ' then ? Is it any more 
ridiculous to aspire to one profession than 
another? You don't say a person is 'paint- 
struck,' or * ink-struck/ or anything else '-struck*; 
why the sneer when one is drawn towards the 
theatre ? But perhaps no form of art appears to 
you necessary ? " 

" I think I should prefer to call it * desirable,' 
since you ask the question," he said. "And 
*art' is a word used to weight a great many 
trivialities too ! Everybody who writes a novel 
is an artist in his own estimation, and, per- 
sonally, I find existence quite possible without 

" Did you ever read Mademoiselle de Maupin ? " 
asked Miss Cheriton. 

" Haxej^ou ? " he said quickly. 

" Oh, yes ; books are very cheap in America. 



* I would rather grow roses than potatoes/ is one 
of the lines in the preface. You would rather 
grow potatoes than roses, eh ? " 

" You are an enthusiast," said Heriot ; " I see ! " 
He pitied her for being Dick Cheriton's daughter. 
She was inevitable : the pseudo-artist's discontent 
with realities — ^the inherited tendencies, fanned 
by thinly-veiled approval ! He understood. 

Cheriton came in after a few minutes, followed 
by the aunt, to whom Heriot was introduced. 
He found her primitive, and far less educated 
than her brother. She was very happy to see 
dear Dick again, and she was sorry that she 
must lose him again so soon. Dear Mamie, 
though, would be a consolation, A third-rate 
suburban villa was stamped upon her ; he could 
imagine her making ghastly antimacassars for 
horse-hair armchairs, and that a visit to an 
Eastbourne boarding-house was the event of 
her life. She wore jet earrings, and poured her 
tea into the saucer. With the circulation of the 
tea, strangers drifted into the room, and the 
conversation was continued in undertones. 

" Have you been talking to Mamie about 
her intentions ? " Cheriton inquired. 




" We've been chatting, yes. What steps do 
you mean to take, Miss Cheriton? What 
shall you do ? " 

" I propose to go to the dramatic agents," 
she said, " and ask them to hear me recite." 

" Dramatic agents must be kept fairly busy, 
I should say. What if they don't consent ? " 

" I shall recite to them." 

" You are firm ! " he laughed. 

" I am eager, Mr. Herioti I have longed till 
I am sick with longing. London has been my 
aim since I was a little girl. I have dreamt 
of it ! — Fve gone to sleep hoping that I 
might. I couldn't recall one of its streets, but 
in dreams I've reached it over and over again ! 
The way was generally across Lincoln Park, 
in Chicago ; and all of a sudden I was among 
theatres and lights, and it was London ! " 

" And you were an actress ! And the audi- 
ence showered bouquets ! " 

" I always woke up before I was an actress. 
But now I'm here really, I mean to try to wake 
London up." 

" I hope you will," he said. Her faith in 
herself was a little infectious, since she was 



beautiful. If she had been plain, he would 
have considered her conceited, 

" Have I gushed ? " she said, colouring. 

He was not sure but what she had. 

" She's like her father," said Cheriton gaily ; 
" get her on the subject of Art, and her tongue 
runs away with her. WeVe all children, we 
artists — up in the skies, or down in the dumps. 
No medium with us ! She must recite to you 
one of these days, Heriot ; I want you to hear 

« Will you, Miss Cheriton ? " 

" If you like," she said. 

" Dear Mamie must recite to mel^ murmured 
Mrs. Baines ; " Fm quite looking forward to it ! 
What sort of pieces do you say, dear ? Nice 
pieces ? " 

" She knows the parts of Juliet, and Rosalind, 
and Pauline by heart," said Cheriton, ignoring 
his sister. " I think you'll say her Balcony 
Scene is almost as fine a rendering as youVe 
ever heard. There's a delicacy, a spiritual " 

" Has she been trained ? " asked Heriot ; " I 
understood she was quite a novice." 

" I've coached her myself," replied Cheriton 



complacently. **I don't pretend to be an 
elocutionist, of course; but IVe been able to 
give her some hints. All the arts are related, 
you know, my boy — it's only a difference in the 
form of expression ! They are playing Romeo 
and Juliet at the theatre here to-night, and 
we're going ; she never loses an opportunity for 
study. It's been said that you can learn as 
much by watching bad acting as good ! Will 
you come with us?" he added, lowering his 
voice. "You'll see how she warms up at the 
sight of the footlights." 

" I don't mind," said Heriot, " if I shan't be in 
the way. Suppose we all dine together at the 
hotel, and go on from there? ' What do you 
say ? He turned to the ladies, and the widow 
faltered : 

" Lor ! I'm sure it's very kind of you to in- 
vite me, Mr. Heriot. That would be gay, 
wouldn't It ! " 

She smoothed her flat hair tremulously, and 
left the decision to her brother and her niece. 

Heriot took his leave with the understanding 
that he was to expect them, and sauntered 
along the Parade more cheerfully than was his 



wont. The girl had not failed to impress him, 
though he disapproved of her tendencies ; nor 
did these appear quite so preposterous to him 
now, albeit he thought them regrettable. He 
did not know whether he believed in her or 
not yet, but he was conscious that he wished to 
do so. His paramount reflection was that she 
would have been a wholly charming girl if 
she had had ordinary advantages — a finishing 
governess, and a London season, and a touch 
of conventionality. He disliked to use the word 
"conventionality," for it sounded priggish; but 
" conventionality " was what he meant. 

At dinner, however, and more especially after 
it, he forgot his objections. In the theatre he 
watched Miss Cheriton more attentively than 
the stage. She herself sat with her eyes 
rivetted on it, and he could see that she was 
the prey to strong excitement. He wondered 
whether this was created by the performance, 
which seemed to him indifferent, or by the 
thoughts that it awoke, and resolved that he 
would ask her. When the curtain fell, and they 
issued into the street, he was not sorry that 
Cheriton derided his suggestion of a cab, and 



declared that the walk back would be agree- 
able. He kept by the girl's side, and the 
others followed. 

She did not speak, and after a minute he 
said : 

"Will it jar upon you if I say, *Let us 
talk ' ? " 

She turned to him with a slight start. 

" Of course not ! How can you think me so 
ridiculous ? " 

" Yet it did ! " said Heriot ; " I could see. ' 

" I know exactly how I appear," she said 
constrainedly. " I look an affected idiot. If 
you knew how I hate to appear affected ! I 
give you my word I don't put it on ; I can't 
help it ! The theatre gives me hot and cold 
shivers, and turns me inside out. That isn't 
prettily expressed, but it describes what I 
mean as nearly as possible. Am I ' enthusing ' 
again ? " 

" I never said you * enthused ' before. You're 
not my idea of — of *the gushing girl' at 

" I'm glad to hear it. I was very ashamed 
when you had gone this afternoon." She hesi- 



tated painfully. " I wish I could explain myself, 
but I can't — without a pen. I can write what 
I feel much better than I can say it I began 
to write a play once, and the girl said what I 
felt perfectly. It was a bad play, but a big 
relief. I've sometimes thought that if I walked 
about with a pen in my hand, I should be a 
good conversationalist." 

" Try to tell me what you feel without one," 
said Heriot. 

"You encourage me to bore you! Mr. Heriot, 
I yearn, I crave, to do something clever. It 
isn't only vanity : half the craving is bom of 
the desire to live among clever people. Ever 
since I can remember, I've ached to know 
artists, and actors, and people who write and do 
things. I've been cooped among storekeepers 
without an idea in their heads ; I've never seen 
a man or woman of talent in my life, excepting 
my father ; I've never heard anybody speak who 
knew what art or ambition meant. You may 
laugh, but if I had it, I would give five hun- 
dred dollars to go home with some of those 
actresses to-night, and sit mum in a comer, and 
listen to them ! " 



"Don't you think it very likely you might 
be disappointed ? " he asked. 

" I don't ! I don't expect they would talk 
blank-verse at supper, but they would talk of 
their work, of their hopes. An artist must be 
an artist always — on the stage, or off it; in 
his studio, or in his club. My father is an 
instance : he could not be a Philistine _if he. 
tried. He once said something IVe always 

remembered. He said : * God gave me my 
soul, child ; circumstances gave me an hotel.* 
I thought it happily put" 

Heriot perceived that Cheriton had thought 
so too, since he had repeated the " impromptu " 
to himself. 

"What a different world we should have 
lived in by now if he had kept in his pro- 
fession ! " she exclaimed. " I quiver when I 
realize what IVe missed ! People I only know 
through their books, or the newspapers, would 
have been familiar friends. I should have 
seen Swinburne smoking cigars in our parlour ; 
and Sarah Bernhardt would have dropped in 
to tea, and chatted about the rehearsal she 
had just left, and showed me the patterns of 



the new costumes she was ordering. Isn't it 
wonderful ? " t 

In sympathy for her he said : 

" It is possible your father might have re- 
mained in England, and still not have become 
intimate with celebrities." 

She looked doubtful. " Even if he hadn't — 
and one likes to believe in one's own father, 
Mr. Heriot — the atmosphere would have been 
right. They mightn't have been Swinbumes 
and Bernhardts that were at home in our place 
— they might have been people the world 
hasn't heard of yet. But they would have 
talked of the time when the world was going 
to hear of them. One can respect an obscure 
genius as much as a famous one." 

They had reached the door of Belle Vue 
Mansion ; and when he was begged to go in 
for half an hour, Heriot did not demur. They 
had the drawing-room to themselves now, and 
Cheriton descanted with relish on the qualifi- 
cations necessary to make a successful actress. 
He had no knowledge of the subject, but 
possessed great fluency, and he spoke of " broad 
effects,'* and "communicable emotion," and 



" what he might call a matter of perspective " 
with an authority which came near to disguis- 
ing the fact that there was little or no meaning 
in what he said. The girl sat pale and attentive, 
and Mrs. Baines listened vaguely, as she might 
have done to a discourse in Choctaw. Relatives 
who came back from abroad, and invited her 
to stay with them in a house where she cost 
two guineas a week, must be treated with 
deference ; but the stage and the circus were of 
equal significance to her mind, and she would 
have simpered just as placidly if her niece had 
been anxious to jump through a hoop. Her 
chief emotion was pride at being in a room with 
a barrister who, she had learnt, was the 
brother of a baronet ; and she watchdJ him 
furtively, with the anticipation of describing 
the event in Lavender Street, Wandsworth, 
where the magnate was a gentleman who tra- 
velled in a brougham, and haberdashery. 

"Would it be inconsiderate to ask you to 
recite to-night. Miss Cheriton ? " inquired Heriot. 
" Don't, if you are too tired." 

She rose at once, as if compelling herself to 
subdue reluctance, and moved towards the bay 



of the window slowly. For a second or two 
after she stood there she did not speak, only her 
lips trembled. Then she began Portia's speech 
on Mercy. In recitation her voice had the 
slight tremolo which is natural to many begin- 
ners who feel deeply; but its quality was 
delicious, and her obvious earnestness was not 
without effect. Conscious that her gestures 
were stiff, she had chosen a speech that de- 
manded little action, and it was not until she 
came to "Therefore, Jew, though justice be 
thy plea," that her hands, which she had 
clasped lightly in front of her, fell apart. With 
the change of position she seemed to acquire 
a dignity and confidence that made the climax 
triumphant, and though Heriot could see that 
she had much to learn, his compliments were 

When he bade her good-night, she looked at 
him appealingly. 

" Tell me the truth ! " she said under her 
breath ; " IVe only had my father's opinion 
Tell me the truth ! " 

"I honestly believe you're clever," he an- 
swered. " I'm sure of it ! " He felt his words 

33 D 


to be very cold compared with the sympathy 
that was stirring in him. 

The proprietress, who had entered, hovered 
about with an eye on the gas, and he repeated 
his adieux hurriedly. The interest he already 
took in the question of Miss Cheriton's success 
surprised him. The day had had a charm that 
was new, and he found that he was eagerly 
anticipating the morrow. 



On the pavements of the Strand the snow had 
turned to slush ; and from the river a fog was 
blowing up, which got into the girl's throat, 
and made her cough. She mounted a flight of 
gloomy stairs, and pulled a bell. Already her 
bearing had lost something that had distin- 
guished it in the summer : something of courage. 
She rang the bell deprecatingly, as if ashamed. 

The anteroom into which she passed had be- 
come painfully familiar to her, like the faces of 
many of the occupants. They all wore the same 
expression — an air of repressed eagerness : of 
diffidence striving to look assured. The walls 
were covered with theatrical photographs, and 
in a corner a pimply youth sat writing at a 
table. What he wrote nobody knew or cared. 
The crowd had but one thought — the door that 
communicated with the agent's private office, to 



which they prayed, though they were no longer 
sanguine, that they would gain admission. It 
was four o'clock, and at five the office would 
close. There were so many of them, it was 
impossible that Mr. Passmore could interview 
everybody. Which would be lucky to-day ? 

Mamie also looked towards the door, and 
from the door back to her companions in dis- 
tress. A little fair woman in a light fawn cos- 
tume — terribly incongruous to the season, but 
her least shabby — met her eyes and spoke. 

" Have you got an appointment ? " she asked 
in a low voice. 

« No." 

" Oh, then you won't see him," said the little 
woman more cheerfully. " I thought as you'd 
come in so late that you had an appointment. 
rve been here since twelve." 

The door opened, and Mr. Passmore appeared 
on the threshold. He did not say " good-after- 
noon " to his clients ; he cast an indifferent gaze 
round the room, and signed to a cadaverous man 
who sat sucking the handle of his umbrella. 

" Here ! You I " he said, retiring again. The 
cadaverous man rose hurriedly, among envious 



glances, and twenty-five heads that had been 
lifted in expectation drooped dejectedly afresh. 
The men whose watches were not pawned 
looked to see the time. 

"What's your line?" said the little woman, 
addressing Mamie once more. 

" I beg your pardon ? Oh, Fm trying for my 
first engagement ; I haven't acted yet at all." 

The other showed surprise and some con- 

" A novice, are you ! Good Lord, it's no 
good your coming to the agents, my dear ; they 
can't find shops for us ! " 

" I paid Mr. Passmore the usual fee," said 
Mamie ; " he promised he'd do what he could." 

The little woman smiled, and turned her 
shoulder to her, declining further discussion. 
Another girl rang the bell, but withdrew with 
a sigh as she perceived the futility of waiting. 
The cadaverous man came out, with "an en- 
gagement" writ large upon his features. He 
stowed a type-written "part" into the pocket 
of his overcoat, and nodded a farewell to an 
acquaintance, whose cast of countenance pro- 
claimed him a low comedian. 



" Got anything, dear boy ? " inquired the latter 
in a husky whisper. 

" They want me for the White Slaves Com- 
pany — the Father ! Offered four. Of course I 
refused point-blank. *No/ I said, *six.' *Oh/ 
he said, * impossible ! * I wouldn't budge ; what 
^oyoii think! Why, I had eight with Kavanagh, 
and she's as good as booked me for her next 
tour. * / don't mind,' I said ; * I'll go to the 
Harcourts ! ' They've been trying to get me 
back, and he knows it. * Don't do that,' he 
said ; * say five, my boy ! ' * Six ! ' I said, * and 
I only take it then to fill in.' * Well, they want 
you,' he said ; * you're the only man for the part, 
and I suppose you've got to have your own 
terms ; but they wouldn't pay it to anybody 
else!'" (Hi3 salary was to be three pounds 
ten, and he could have shed tears of relief to 
get It) 

"Damn fine, old chap!" said the low comedian, 
who di,dn't believe a word. ^" Is the comedy part 
open, do you know ? I might " 

"Don't think so; fancy they're complete." 
His manner was already condescending. 
"^ Olive oil!'" 



" Now, I can't see you people to-day," ex- 
claimed Mr. Passmore, putting up his hands 
impatiently. "No good, Miss Forbes," as a 
girl made a dart towards him with a nervous 
smile that was meant to be ingratiating ; " got 
nothing for you, it's no use ! . . . What do 
vou want, my dear ? " 

Another lady, who found it embarrassing to 
explain her anxiety in public, faltered that she 
had just looked in to hear if Mr. Passmore 
could kindly " 

" Nothing doing ! perhaps later on. Til let 
you know." 

" You will bear me in mind, won't you, Mr. 
Passmore ? " she pleaded. 

" What ? " he said. " Oh, yes, yes ; Fll drop 
you a postcard — I won't forget you. Good- 
day." He did not even recollect her name ! 

"Can I speak to you, Mr. Passmore?" said 
Mamie, rising. 

" You ? " he said questioningly. " Oh, I can't 
do anything for you yet ! Everything's made 
up — ^things are very quiet just now. . . . 
Here, Miss Beaumont, I want a word with 



" Give me a minute," persisted Mamie. " I 
want an engagement ; I don't care how small 
the part is. Til be a servant, FU be anything, 
I want a beginning ! I recited to you, if you 
remember, and " 

" Did you ? " he said. " Oh, yes, yes, I re- 
member — very nice. You wanted to play 
* Juliet M " He laughed. 

" ril be anything V she said again. " Til give 
you double the commission if " 

" Have you got enough voice for chorus ? " he 
asked testily. " How are your limbs ? " 

" I want to be an actress," she said, flushing. 
" I mean to work ! " 

" Come on, Miss Beaumont ! " he cried. And 
Miss Beaumont swept past her into the sanctum. 

The girl who six months ago had looked for- 
ward to playing "Juliet" made her way down 
the dingy staircase drearily. This was but one of 
the many dramatic agents with whom she had 
gone through the form of registering her name. 
Mr. Passmore's booking-fee had been five shil- 
lings ; most of the others' booking-fee had been 
five shillings ; one had charged a guinea. All 
alike had been affable on her first visit, and for- 



gotten who she was when she paid her second ; 
all had been reminded who she was on her 
second, and failed to recognise her again upon 
her third. She called on one or another of them 
every day, and contrived to gain such an inter- 
view as she had just had about once a week. 
She had taken in the theatrical papers and 
replied to shoals of advertisements, but as she 
had to state she was a novice, nobody ever 
took any notice of her applications. She had 
haunted the stage-doors when she read that a 
new piece was to be produced, and begged in 
vain to be allowed to see the manager. She 
had, in fine, done everything that was possible, 
and she was as far from securing an engage- 
ment as on the day that she arrived in England. 
And she had talent, and she was beautiful, and 
was prepared to commence upon the lowest 
rung of the ladder. 

The Stage is generally supposed to be the 
easiest of all callings to enter. The girl who 
is unhappy at home, the boy who has been 
plucked for the army, the woman whose hus- 
band has failed on the Stock Exchange, all 
speak of " going on the stage " as calmly as if 



it were only necessary to take a stroll to get 
there. As a matter of fact, unless an extra- 
ordinary piece of fortune befall her, it is almost 
as difficult for a girl without influence, or a good 
deal of money, to become an actress as it is for 
her to marry a duke. She may be in earnest, 
but there are thousands who are in earnest ; she 
may be pretty, but there are hundreds of pretty 
actresses struggling and unrecognised ; she may 
be a genius, but she has no opportunity to dis- 
play her gift until the engagement is obtained. 
And this is the tremendous obstacle. She can 
prove nothing ; she can only say, " I feel I 
should succeed." If she is allowed to recite — 
and it is very rarely that she is — a recital is 
little or no test of her qualifications for the 
boards. She may recite superbly, and as an 
actress be very indifferent She has to beg to 
be taken on trust, while myriad women, eaget 
for the vacant part, can cry, " I can refer you to 
so-and-so ; I have experience ! " Though other 
artistic professions may be as hard to rise in, 
there is probably none other in which it is 
quite so difficult to make the first steps. If a 
girl is able to write, she can sit alone in her 



bedroom, and demonstrate her capability ; if 
she can paint, her canvases speak for her ; if 
she pants to be a prima donna^ she can open 
her mouth, and people hear her sing. The 
would-be actress, alone among artists, can do 
nothing to show her fitness for the desired 
vocation until her self-estimate has been blindly 
accepted — and she may easily fail to do her- 
self justice then, cast as she will be for minor 
rdles entirely foreign to her bent. 

To succeed on the stage requires indomitable 
energy, callousness to rebuffs, tact, luck, talent, 
and facilities for living six or nine months out 
of the year without earning a shilling. To get 
on to the stage requires valuable introductions 
or considerable means. If a woman has neither, 
the chances are in favour of her seeking a com- 
mencement vainly all her life. And as to a 
young man so situated who seeks it, he is en- 
deavouring to pass through a brick wall. 

Mamie descended the dingy staircase, and at 
the foot she saw the girl who had been addressed 
as "Miss Forbes." She was standing on the 
doorstep, gathering up her skirts. It had com- 
menced to snow again, and she contemplated 



the dark, damp street shrinkingly. An impulse 
seized Mamie to speak as she passed. From 
such trifles great things sometimes followed, she 
remembered. She was at the age when the 
possibility of the happy accident recurs to the 
mind constantly — a will-o'-the-wisp that lightens 
the gloom. The reflection takes marvellous 
forms, and at twenty-one the famous actor — of 
the aspirant's imagination — who goes about the 
world crying, " A genius ! you must come to 
me ! " may be met in any omnibus. The famous 
actor of the aspirant's invagination is like the 
editor as conceived by the general public : he 
spends his life in quest of obscure ability. 

"If we're going the same way, I can offer you 
a share of my umbrella," she said. 

"Oh, thanks!" said the girl in a slightly 
surprised voice ; " I'm going to Charing 

"And Vm going to Victoria, so our road is 
the same," said Mamie. 

A feeling of passionate pleasure suffused her 
as she moved away by the girl's side through 
the yellow fog. The roar of the Strand had 
momentarily the music of her dreams while she 



yearned in Duluth, and the greatness of the city 
— the London of theatres, Art, and books — 
throbbed in her veins. She was walking with 
an actress ! 

" Isn't it beastly ? " said the girl. " I suppose 
youVe got to train it ? " 

"Yes ; Tm living in Wandsworth. Havcj^ou 
far to go ? " 

" Notting Hill. I take the 'bus. Passmore 
hadn't got anything for you, had he ? " 

Mamie shook her head. "We were both 
unlucky ; but perhaps it doesn't matter so 
much to you ? " 

" Doesn't it ! . . . Have you been on his 
books long, Miss — ;— ? " 

" Miss Cheriton — Mamie Cheriton." 

" That's a good name ; it sounds like a 
character in a play — as if she'd have a love- 
scene under the apple-blossom ! Where were 
you last ? " 

" At Mr. Faulkner's ; but he didn't know of 
any vacancy either." 

" I don't mean that," said Miss Forbes ; " I 
mean, how long have you been * out ' ? " 

" Oh," answered Mamie, " I left home at one 



o'clock ; that's the worst of living such a long 
way off ! " 

The other stared. 

" Don't you understand ? " she exclaimed. 
" I mean, what Company were you in last, and 
when did it finish ? " 

" Oh, I see," stammered Mamie. " Tm sorry 
to say IVe everything in front of me ! I've 
never had a part yet at all. I'm that awful 
thing — a novice." 

" Crumbs ! " said Miss Forbes. 

" I guess you actresses look cjown on novices 
rather ? " 

" Well, the profession is full enough already, 
goodness knows ! Still, I suppose we've all got 
a right to begin. I don't mind a novice who 
goes to the agents in the snow ; it shows she 
means business anyhow. It's the amateurs A\iio 
go to the managers in hansoms that I hate. But 
it's an awful struggle, my dear, take my word 
for it ; you'd better stop at home if you can 
afford to ! And Passmore will never be any 
use to you. Look at me ! I've been going to 
him for four months ; and I played ^ Prince 
Arthur ' on tour with Sullivan when I was nine." 



" I am looking at you," said Mamie, smiling, 
" and envying you till Tm ill. You say Pass- 
more is no use : let me into a secret. What 
can I do to get an engagement ? " 

" Blessed if / know, if you haven't got any 
friends to pull the strings. Td like to know the 
secret myself! Well," she broke off, "perhaps 
we shall meet again. I must say ' good-even- 
ing ' here ; there's my 'bus." 

" Don't go yet ! " begged Mamie. " Won't you 
come and have some tea first ? " 

Miss Forbes hesitated eloquently. 

"I shall get tea when I reach home," she 
murmured, " and I'm rather late." 

" Oh, let me invite an actress to tea. Do, 
please ! It will be the next best thing to get- 
ting a part." 

" You're very kind. I don't mind, I'm sure. 
There's a place close by where they give you a 
pot for two for fourpence. You're American, 
aren't you?" 

" I've lived in America ; I'm English really." 

They entered the establishment referred to, 
and seated themselves at a table. Mamie 
ordered a pot of tea and muffins. 



" It's nice and warm in here ! " she said. 

" Isn't it ! I noticed you in the office. My 
name is Mabel Forbes ; but I daresay you heard 
Passmore speak to me ? " 

" Yes ; he didn't speak very nicely, did he ? " 

" They never do ; they're all alike. They 
know we can't do without them, and they treat 
us like dirt. I tell you, it's awful ; you don't 
know what you're letting yourself in for, my 
dear ! " 

" To succeed I'd bear anything, all the snubs 
and drudgery imaginable. I do know ; I know 
It's not to be avoided. I've read the biographies 
of so many great actresses. I should think of 
the future — the reward. I'd set my teeth and 
live for that time ; and I'd work for it morning, 
noon, and night." 

" It would do me good to live with you if we 
were on tour together," said Miss Forbes cheer- 
fully ; " you'd keep my pecker up, I think ! I 
loathe sharing diggings with another girl, as a 
rule — one always quarrels with her, and, with 
the same bedroom, one has nowhere to go and 
cry. After they've been in the profession a few 
years they don't talk like you. Not that there's 



really much in it," she added with a sigh. " To 
set your teeth, and work morning, noon, and 
night sounds very fine, but what does it amount 
to ? It means you'd get two-ten a week, and 
study leading business on the quiet till you 
thought you were as good as Ellen Terry. But 
if nobody made you an offer, what then ? " . 

" You mean it's possible to be really clever, 
and yet not to come to the front?" asked 
Mamie earnestly. 

" How can you come to the front if no one 
gives you the opportunity ? You may be liked 
where you are — in what youVe doing — but you 
can't play * lead * in London, unless a London 
manager offers you an engagement to play 
Mead,' can you? You can't make him. Do 
you suppose the only clever actresses alive are 
those who are known? Besides, if leading 
business is what you are thinking of, I don't 
believe you've the physique for it; you don't 
look strong enough. I should have thought 
light comedy was more your line." 

" It isn't. If I'm meant for anything, it's for 
drama, and — and tragedy. But I'd begin in 
the smallest capacity, and be grateful The 

49 = 


ideas I had when I came to London have been 
knocked out of me — and they were moderate 
enough, too ! I'd begin by saying that the din- 
ner was ready. Surely it can't be so difficult 
to get an opening like that, if one knows the 
way to go about it ? " 

" Well, look here, my dear. I played * Prince 
Arthur ' with Sullivan when I was nine, as I 
tell you, and I've been in the profession ever 
since. But I've been out of an engagement 
four months now. All I could save out of my 
last screw has gone in 'bus fares and stamps ; 
and my people haven't got any more money 
than they know how to spend. If an engage- 
ment to announce the dinner had been offered 
me to-day, I'd have taken it ; and I'd be going 
back to Notting Hill happy.*' 

" I'm awfully sorry," said Mamie sympatheti- 
cally. " Shall we have another muffin ? " 

"No, I don*t want any more, thanks. But 
you've no idea what a business it is. I've got 
talent and experience, and I'm not bad-looking, 
and yet you see how I've got to struggle. One 
is always too late everywhere ! I was at the 
Queen's this morning. There are always any 



number of small parts in the Queen's things, you 
know, and I thought there might be a chance 
for The Pride of the Troop, They'd got every- 
body except the extra-ladies. By the way, 
you might try to get on at the Queen's as 
an extra, if you like. With your appearance 
you'd have a very good chance, I should say." 

Mamie felt her heart stirring feverishly. " Do 
you mean it ? " she asked. " What are ' extras ' 
— you don't mean * supers ' ? " 

"Oh, they're better than supers — different 
class, you know. Of course they've nothing to 
say excepting in chorus. They come on in 
the Race Course scene and the Ball-room, and 
look nice. They wear swagger frocks — the 
management finds their dresses — and are 
supposed to murmur, and laugh, and act in 
dumb-show in the background. You know ! 
They're frightful fools— a girl who could act a 
bit would stand out among extra-ladies like a 
Bernhardt at the Ladbroke Hall ! " 

" If they would take me," said Mamie, clasp- 
ing her hands ; " if they would only take me ! 
Do you really think they will ? " 

" It couldn't hurt to try. Ask for Mr. Casey 



and tell him you want to 'walk on.' There, 
Fve given you a hint after all," she exclaimed, 
as she got up ; " one can't think of everything 
right off! It might prove a start for you ; who 
knows? If Casey sees you're intelligent, he 
may give you a line or two to speak. You go 
up to one of the principals, and say, *Lord 
Tomnoddy, where's that bracelet you promised 
to send me when I saw you at Kempton Park ? ' 
Then the low-comedy merchant — it's generally 
the low-comedy merchant you speak to — says 
something that gets a laugh, and bustles up 
the stage, and you run after him angrily. But 
don't be sanguine, even of getting on as an 
extra ! There's always a crowd of women 
besieging the Queen's at every production — ^you 
won't be the only pretty one. Well, I must 
be going, my dear. I wish you luck ! " 

" And luck to you \ " said Mamie, squeezing 
her hand gratefully ; " and many, many thanks ! 
I look forward to telling you the result I 
suppose we're sure to see each other at Mr. 

" Oh, we're bound to run against each other 
somewhere before long ! " returned Miss Forbes 



cordially. "Yes, I shall be curious to hear 
what you do ; I've enjoyed our chat very much. 

Take care of yourself ! " 

She hurried towards her 'bus, waving an " au 
revoir," and Mamie crossed the road. London 
widened between the girls — and their paths in 
it never met again. 



As she reached the opposite pavement Heriot 
exclaimed : " Miss Cheriton ! Are you going 
to cut me ? " 

" You ? " she cried with surprise. " It was — 
it was the fog's fault ; I didn't see. What a 
stranger you are! it's a fortnight since you 
came out to us. A * fortnight,' you observe 
— I'm * quite English, you know,' now." 

" You're in good spirits," he said. " What 
have you been doing ? " 

" I've been rising in my career," she answered 
gaily. " I have had tea in a cakeshop with 
an actress! I have just shaken harjds with 
her; she has just given me a piece of ad- 
vice. I am, in imagination, already a person- 
age ! " 



"Who is she?" asked Heriot "Where does 
she come from? * . . Let me see you to 
Victoria, I suppose that's where you are 
going ? " 

He stopped a hansom, and scrutinized her 
sadly as they took their seats. " Have you 
been out in this weather long ? " he said. " You 
poor child, how wet you must be ! Well, you 
know an actress! Am I not to be told all 
about it ? " 

She was as voluble as he wished ; he had 
become in the last few months her confidant 
and consoler. Lavender Street, Wandsworth, 
or those residents who commanded a view 
of No. 20, had learnt to know his figure well. 
Awhile ago he had marvelled at the rdle he 
was filling ; latterly he had ceased to marvel. 
He realized the explanation — and as he listened 
to the tale her words smote him. It hurt him 
to think of the girl beside him cringing to a 
theatrical agent, forming a chance acquaintance 
in the streets, and contemplating so ignoble a 
position as the one of which she spoke. He 
looked at her yearningly. 

" You are not pleased," she said. 



" Is there a great deal to be pleased at ? Is 
this sort of thing worthy of you ? " 

" It is the first step. Oh, be nice about it, 
do ! If you understood — can I be a Juliet at 
once ! If I am to succeed " 

" I have sympathised with you," he said ; 
" I've entered into your feelings ; I do under- 
stand ! But you don't know what you're 
meditating. Admitting it's inevitable — admit- 
ting, if you're to be an actress, that you must 
begin, since you've no influence, where you're 
content to begin — can you bear it? These 
women you'll be thrown amongst " 

" Some at least," she said, " will surely be like 
myself! I am not the only girl who has to 
begin at the bottom ! And if . . . whatever 
they are, it can't be helped. Remember, I'm in 
earnest ! I talked at first wildly ; I see how 
childish I was. What should I be if I fal- 
tered because the path isn't strewn with roses ? 
An actress must be satisfied to work." 

" It is not decreed that you need be an 
actress," answered Heriot. " After all, there 
is no necessity to fight for subsistence. If you 
were compelled " 



"There are other compelling forces than 
poverty. Can't you recognise ambition ? " 

"Haven't I ? ^' he said. "Have I been 
wood ? " 

" Ah ! " she smiled, " forgive me ! I didn't 
mean that But be nice still! Am I to reject a 
career because I'm not starving? I'm starving 
with my soul! I'm like a poor mute battling 
for voice. I want — I want to give expression 
to what I feel within me." She beat her hands 
in her lap. " I'm willing to struggle — eager to ! 
You've always known it ! Why do you dis- 
appoint me now ? I have to begin even lower 
than I understood, that's all. And what is 
it? I shall be surrounded by artists then! 
By degrees Ishall rise. * You are in the right 
way, but remember what I say, Study, study, 
study ! Study well, and God bless you I * Do 
you know who said that? — Mrs. Siddons to 
Macready. It was at Newcastle, and it was 
about her performance the same night that he 
wrote : * The violence of her emotion seemed 
beyond her power longer to endure, and the 
words, faintly articulated, " Was he alive ? " sent 
an electric thrill through the audience.' Think 



what that means ; three words ! I can't do it, 
IVe tried — oh, how I've tried ! For months 
after I read that book, I used to say them 
dozens of times every day, with every intona- 
tion I could think of. But there was no effect, 
no thrill even to myself. * Study, study, study ! 
Keep your mind on your art, do not remit your 
study, and you are certain to succeed ! * I will 
keep my mind on it, Til obey her advice, I 
will succeed ! Heaven couldn't be so cruel as 
to let me fail after putting such longings into 

Heriot sighed. The impulse to tell her that 
he loved her, to keep her to himself, was master- 
ing him. Never before had her hold on him 
been displayed so vividly, nor had the temp- 
tation to throw prudence to the winds been 
quite so strong. 

" If you had a happier home," he said, " there 
would be other influences. Don't think me 
impertinent, but it can't be very lively for 
you in that house." 

" It isn't a whirl of gaiety, and Aunt Lydia is 
not ideal! But — but I was just the -s^me in 



" Duluth ! " he echoed ; " it was dreary in 
Duluth, too." 

** At all events I had my father there." 

"What does he write?" asked Heriot. " Have 
you had a letter since I saw you ? " 

•* He gives no news. The news is to come 
from me'^ 

" I think there's a little," he said ; " I can tell 
it by your tone." 

" It's cheerful to be with some one who ca7i 
tell things by one's tone. Well, he thinks, if 
I can't make a commencement, that I may 
as well go back." 

" I see," he said. " I won't ask you if you 
mean to." 

She laughed a shade defiantly. " Duluth has 
many charms. I've been remembering them 
since his letter ! There is my father, and there's 
strawberry-shortcake. My father will be dis- 
appointed in me if I have to go ; the straw- 
berry-shortcake — well, there's a tiny shop there 
where they sell it hot. I've never seen it hot 
anywhere else — and they turn on the cream 
with a tap, out of a thing that looks like a 
miniature cistern ! " 



"You're not going back," he said. "You're 
going on the stage as a supernumerary in- 
stead ! " 

In the flare of the station lamps her eyes 
flashed at him; he could see the passionate 
trembh'ng of her mouth. The cab stopped, and 
they got out, and threaded their way among 
the crowd to the barriers. There was a train 
in ten minutes, Heriot learnt 

" Shall we go to the waiting-room ? " 

" No," said Miss Cheriton. 

" Forgive me what I said just now. I am 

" What does it matter ? " 

" It was brutal." 

" Rather, perhaps. It was unexpected. You 
have failed me when I wanted you most." 

He took two first-class tickets — he wished to 
be alone with her, and he knew that she travel- 
led " second." 

" I'm coming with you," he said. 

" But you can't have dined ? Our suppers are 
not extensive." 

" Let us get in ! " he answered. 

They had the compartment to themselves 




when the door banged, and he regarded her 
silently, with nerves that had escaped con- 

" I have warned you," she said. " It will be 
something out of a tin for certain, with vinegar 
over it." 


There was rebuke in the expression. 

" Mamie ! " he repeated, " I love you. Why I 
dislike your going on the stage is because I 
want you myself. I was * brutal,' because Fm 
fond of you. Will you marry me? " 

She lay back against the darkness of the 
cushions, pale and startled. 

" Are you serious ? " she said. " You — want 
to marry me ! Do you mean it ? " 

" I mean it. I don't seem able to tell you 
how much I mean it ! Can you like me well 
enough to be my wife ? " 

"I do like you," she stammered; "but I 
hadn't an idea. . . .1 never thought you 
thought Oh, I'm sorry ! " 

" Why ? Why can't you say * yes ' ?" 

" To marry you ! " 

" I'll be very gentle to you," he said shakily. 



" I — for God's sake, don't judge my love for 
you by the way I put it ! I haven't had much 
practice in love-making, it's a pity, perhaps! 
There's a word that says it all — I 'worship' you. 
My darling, what have you to look forward to ? 
You've seen, you've tried, you know what an 
uphill life it will be. It's not as if I begged you 
to waive your hopes while you had encourage- 
ment to hope — ^you've made the attempt, and 
you know the difficulties now ! Come to me in- 
stead. You shall live where you like — ^you can 
choose your own quarter. You can have every- 
thing you care for — books, pictures, theatres, 
too. Oh, my sweet ! come to me, and I'll fulfil 
every wish. Will you, Mamie ? " 

" I can't," she said tremulously, " it wouldn't 
be fair." Her eyes shone at him, and she leant 
forward with parted lips. "I like you, I like 

you very much, but I don't — I'm not I've 

never been in love with any one ! " 

" I will be grateful for small mercies," said 
Heriot, with an unhappy laugh. 

" And I could not do what you ask. If I fail, 
I fail ; but I must persevere. I can't accept 
failure voluntarily — I can't stretch out my 



arms to it. I should despise myself if I gave 
in to-day. Even you " 

" You know better than that," he said. 

"Well, yes/* she owned, "perhaps Tm wrong 
there ! To you it would seem a sensible step ; 
but I believe in myself All my life I've had 
the thought, and I should be miserable, I should 
hate myself I should be like my father — I 
should be always thinking of the * might have 
been.* You'd be good to me, but you'd know 
you'd been a fool. I'm not a bit the sort of 
woman you should marry, and you'd repent 

Heriot took her hand and held it tightly. 

" I love you," he said. " Consider your own 
happiness only. I love you ! " 

" I am quite selfish — I know it wouldn't con- 
tent me; I'm not pretending to any nobility. 
But I'm sorry ; I may say that ! I didn't dream 
you liked me in this way. I'm not hard, I'm 
not a horror, and I can see — I can see that I'm 
a lot to you.*' 

"I'm glad of that," he said simply. "Yes, 
you're *a lot to me,' Mamie. If you know it, 
and you can't care for me enough, there's no 



more for me to say. Don't worry yourself. It's 
not unusual for a man to be fond of a woman 
who doesn't want to marry him." 



She betook herself to the Queen's next morning 
less buoyantly than she had anticipated. Her 
meeting with Heriot had depressed her. She 
retained much of the nature of a child, and 
laughed or cried very easily. She had met 
Heriot laughing, and he had been serious and 
sad. With some petulance she felt that she 
was very unfortunate in that he had fallen in 
love with her, and chosen that particular day. to 
tell her so. 

She entered the stage-door with no presenti- 
ment of conquest, and inquired of the man in 
the little recess if Mr. Casey was in the theatre. 
Stage-door keepers are probably the surliest 
class in existence. They have much to try 

65 F 


them, and they spend their lives in a violent 
draught ; but the only known creature more 
uncivil to the public at large than a stage-door 
keeper is a New York policeman. 

He took her measure in an instant, saving 
in one particular — she was prepared to give 
him a shilling, and he did not suspect it ! 

" Mr. Casey's on the stage," he said ; " he won't 
be disturbed now." 

" If I waited, do you think I might see him ? " 

" I couldn't tell you, I'm sure." 

He resumed his perusal of a newspaper, and 
Mamie looked at him through the aperture help- 
lessly. There was the usual knot of loafers 
about the step — a scene-hand or two in their 
shirt-sleeves, a girl in her pathetic best dress, 
also hoping for miracles, a member of the com- 
pany, who had slipped out from rehearsal to 
smoke a cigarette. 

Cerberus was shown where his estimate had 
been at fault. He said " Miss" now : "If you 
write your business on one of these forms, I'll 
send it in to Mr. Casey, Miss." 

He gave her a stump of pencil, and a printed 
slip specially designed to scare intruders. She 



wrote her name, and Mr. Casey's name, and 
could find no scope for euphemisms regarding 
the nature of the interview she sought. She 
added, " To obtain engagement as Extra," and 
returned the paper with embarrassment; she 
was sufficiently unsophisticated in such matters 
to assume that her object had not been divined. 

" *Ere, Bill." One of the scene-hands turned. 
" Take it in to Mr. Casey for this lady." 

The man addressed as Bill departed through 
a second door with a grunt and a bang, and she 
waited expectantly. The girl in her best frock 
sneered j she could not afford to dispense shiU 
lings herself, and already her feet ached. The 
door swung back constantly. At intervals of a 
few seconds a stream of nondescripts issued 
from the unknown interior, and Mamie stood 
watching for the features of her messenger, ' It 
was nearly a quarter of an hour before he re- 
appeared, however. 

" Mr. Casey can't see you," he announced. 

The hall-keeper heard the intelligence with 
absolute indifference; but the girl on the step 
looked gratified. 

" What shall I do ? " asked Mamie. 



"I can't do no more than send in for you, 
Miss. It ain't much good your waiting — the 
* call ' won't be over till three o'clock." 

" Could I see him then ? " 

" He'll come out. If you like to take your 
chance " 

" I'll come back at three o'clock," she said. 
It was then eleven. 

She turned into the Strand — ^the Strand that 
has broken more hearts than Fleet Street Here 
a young actor passed her, who was likewise 
pacing the inhospitable pavements until the 
hour arrived in which he hoped that patience 
and importunity might bear result. He wore a 
fashionable overcoat, and swung his cane with a 
gloved hand. Presently he would seek a public- 
house, and lunch on a scone and a glass of 
" mild-and-bitter." If he had " bitter," he would 
be a halfpenny short in his homeward fare to 
Bow. There a burlesque actress went by, who 
had "married a swell." His family had been 
deeply wounded, and they showed their mortifi- 
cation by allowing her to support him. She had 
had three children; and when he was drunk, 
which was frequently, he said, " God forbid that 



they should ever become damned mummers h'ke 
their mother!" A manager had just told her 
that " she had lost her figure, and wouldn't look 
the part ! " and she was walking back to Isling- 
ton, where the brokers were in the house. A 
popular comedian, who had been compelled to 
listen to three separate tales of distress between 
Charing Cross and Bedford Street, and had 
already lent unfortunate acquaintances thirty 
shillings, paused, and hailed a hansom from 
motives of economy. It was the typical crowd 
of the Strand, a crowd of the footlights. The 
men whose positions had been won were little 
noticeable, but the gait and costume of the 
majority — affected Youth and disheartened Age 
— indicated their profession to the least experi- 
enced eyes. Because she grew very tired, and 
not that she had any expectation of hearing 
good news, Mamie went into Mr. Passmore's 
office, and sat down. 

And she did not hear any. After an hour she 
went away, and rested next in the anteroom of 
another of the agents, who repeated that "things 
were very quiet," and that " he wouldn't forget 
her." Seven or eight other girls were waiting 



their turn to be told the same thing. At a 
quarter to three she went back to the Queen's. 

" Is he coming out now ? " she said. " Am I 
too soon ? " 

" Eh ? " said the hall-keeper. 

"You told me he'd be out about three. I 
was asking for Mr. Casey this morning." 

" Oh, were you ? " he said. " There's been a 
good many asking for him since then." He 
gradually recalled her. " Mr. Casey's gone," he 
added ; " they finished early. He won't be here 
till to-night." 

There \yas a week in which she went to the 
stage-door of the Queen's Theatre every day, at 
all hours, and at last she learnt casually that as 
many " extras " as were required for the produc- 
tion had been engaged. There were months 
during which she .persisted in her applications at 
other stage-doors, and hope still flickered within 
her. But when September came, and a year 
had passed since her arrival, the expiring spark 
had faded into lassitude. She tried no longer. 
Only sometimes, out of the sickness of her soul, 
the impulse to write was born, and she picked 
up a pen. 



Then it was definitely decided that she should 
return to America. It was characteristic of her 
that she had no sooner dried her eyes after the 
decision than she was restless to return at once. 
Duluth was no drearier than Wandsworth ; ex- 
ternally it was even picturesque, with the blue 
water and the sunshine, and the streets of white 
chalets rising in tiers like a theatre. In Duluth 
the residents " looked down on one another " 
literally. The life was appalling, but when all 
was said, was it more limited than Aunt Lydia ! 
And if, in lieu of acting, she dared aspire to 
dramatic authorship — the thought stirred her 
occasionally — she could work as well in Min- 
nesota as in London. Cheriton had remitted 
the amount of her passage, and suggested that 
she should sail in a week or two. She had not 
received the draft two hours when she went up 
to town, and booked a berth in the next 

When it was done, she posted a note to 
Heriot, acquainting him with her intention. 
His visits had not been discontinued, but he 
came at much longer intervals latterly, and she 



could not go without bidding him good- 

She sat in the Lavender Street parlour the 
next evening, wondering if he would come. 
Almost she hoped he would not She had 
written, and therefore done her duty. To see 
him under the circumstances, she felt, would 
humiliate her cruelly. She remembered how 
she had talked to him twelve months before — 
recalled her confidence, her pictures of a future 
that she was never to know now, and her eyes 
smarted afresh. She had even failed to obtain 
a hearing ! " What a fool, what an idiot I 
look ! " she thought passionately. 

Tea was over, but the maid-of-all-work had 
not removed the things ; and when Heriot 
entered, the large loaf and the numerous knives, 
which are held indispensable to afternoon tea in 
Lavender Street, were still on the big round 
table. The aspect of the room did not strike 
him any more. He was familiar with it, like 
the view of the kitchen when the front door had 
been opened, and the glimpse of clothes-line in 
the yard beyond. 



" May I come in ? " he said. " Did you ex- 
pect me ? " 

" Lor, it's Mr. Heriot ! " said Mrs. Baines. 
« Fancy ! " 

She told the servant to take away the teapot, 
'and to bring in another knife. He wondered 
vaguely what he was supposed to do with 

"I thought it likely you'd be here," said 
Mamie ; " won't you sit down ? " 

"I only had your letter this morning. So 
you are going away ? " 

" I am going away. I bow, more or less 
gracefully, to the inevitable." 

" To bow gracefully to the inevitable is strong 
evidence of the histrionic gift," he said. 

" I came, I saw, I was conquered ; please don't 
talk about it. . r . It was only settled yes- 
terday. I sail on Saturday, you know." 

" Ye3, you wrote me," murmured Heriot. "It 
is very sudden ! " 

" I am crazy to do something, if only to con- 
fess myself beaten." 

" May I offer you a cup o' tea, Mr. Heriot ? " 
asked Mrs. Baines. 



She always "offered" cups of tea, and was 
indebted to neighbours for their " hospi- 

He thanked her. 

" You will miss your niece," he said, declining 
a place at the round table, to which she had 
moved a chair. 

" Yes, Fm sure," she answered. " I say it's a 
pity now she didn't go with her father last 
October. . . . Going in a vessel by herself, 
oh, dear ! I say I wouldn't have got accustomed 
to having her with me if she'd gone with 
her father ; though that's neither here nor 

" Yes, I think you may believe you will be 
missed. Miss Cheriton," he said. 

" I say it's very odd she couldn't be an actress 
as she wanted," continued Mrs. Baines. " Seems 
so unfortunate with, all the trouble that she took. 
But la ! my dear, we can't see what lies ahead of 
us, and perhaps it's all for the best! I say 
perhaps it's all for the best, Mr. Heriot, eh? 
Dear Mamie may be meant to do something 
different — writing, or what not ; it's not for us 
to say." 



" Have you been writing again ? " asked 
Heriot, turning to the girl. 

" A little," she said bitterly. " My vanity dies 
hard — and Aunt Lydia has encouraged 

Heriot looked a reproach ; her tone hurt him, 
though he understood of what it was the out- 

" I should be glad if you had encouragement," 
he replied ; " I think you need it now ! " 

But it hurt him, also, to discuss her pain in 
the presence of the intolerable third. He knew 
that if he remained to supper there would be a 
preparatory quarter of an hour in which he was 
alone with her ; and it was for this quarter of an 
hour that he hungered, conscious that during 
the opening of the lobster-tin two destinies 
would be determined. 

" That's right, Mr. Heriot," said Mrs. Baines 
placidly. " Tm glad to hear you say so. That's 
what I've been telling her. I say she mustn't 
be disheartened. Why, it's surprising,' I'm sure, 
how much seems to be thought of people who 
write stories and things now-a-days ; they seem 
to make quite a fuss of them, don't they ? And 



Vm certain dear Mamie could write if she put 
her mind to it. I was reading in the paper, Tz^- 
Bits^ only last week, that there was a book 
called Robert Ellis^ or some such name, that 
made the author quite talked about Now, I 
read the piece out to you, dear, didn't I ? A 
book about religion, it was, by a lady ; and Fm 
sure dear Mamie knows as much about religion 
as any one." 

" My aunt means Robert Elsmerel^ said Ma- 
mie, in a laboured voice. "You may have 
heard it mentioned ? " 

"You mustn't expect Mr. Heriot to know 
much about it," said Mrs. Baines ; " Mr. Heriot 
is so busy a gentleman that very likely he 
doesn't hear of these things. But I assure you, 
Mr. Heriot, the story seems to have been read 
a great deal ; and what I say is, if dear Mamie 
can't be an actress, why shouldn't she write 
books, if she wants to do something of the sort ? 
I wonder my brother didn't teach her to paint, 
with her notions and that — but, not having 
learnt, I say she ought to write books. That's 
the thing for her — a nice pen and ink, and her 
own home ! " 



" I agree with you, Mrs. Baines. If she wants 
to write, she can do that in her own home." 

" Not to compare it with such a profession as 
yours, Mr. Heriot," she said, " which, of course, 
is sensible and grave. But girls can't be bar- 
risters, and " 

" Will you open the window for me ? " ex- 
claimed Mamie; "it's frightfully warm, don't 
you think so?" 

She stood there with her head thrown back, 
and closed eyes, her foot tapping the floor rest- 

" Are you wishing you hadn't come ? " she 
asked under her breath. 

« Why ? " 

" One must suffer to be polite here." 

"Aren't you a little unjust?" said Heriot 

" You have it for an hour," she muttered ; " / 
have had it for twelve months. Have you ever 
wanted to shriek ? / wanted to shriek just now, 
violently ! " 

" I know you did," he said. " Well, it's nearly 
over. . . . Are you glad ? " 

" Yes, and no — I can't say. If " 



" Won't you go on ? " 

" If I dared hope to do anything else . . . 
But Vm not going to talk like that any more ; 
Vm ridiculous enough already ! " 

" To whom are you ridiculous ? " 

" To my own perception ; you ! " 

" Not to me," he said. 

" * Pathetic ' ? yes, to you Fm * pathetic* You 
pity me as you might pity a lunatic who im- 
agined she was the Queen of England." 

" I think you know," said Heriot diffidently, 
" that neither Her Majesty nor a lunatic inspires 
quite the feeling in me that I have for your- 

She changed her position, and spoke at 
random : 

"This street is awfully stupid, isn't it?" she 
said. " Look at that man going up the steps ! " 

" Yes, he is very stupid, I daresay. What 

" He is a clerk," she said ; " and wheels his 
babies out on Sunday." 

" Mamie ! " 

" Come and talk to Aunt Lydia again. • How 
rude we are ! " 



" I want to talk to you^' he demurred. 
" Aren't you going to ask me to stay to 
supper ? " 

The suggestion came from the widow almost 
at the same moment. 

" I think we had better have the lamp," she 
went on. " The days are drawing in fast, Mr. 
Heriot, aren't they? We shall soon have 
winter again ! Do you like the long evenings, 
or the long afternoons best? Just about now I 
always say that I can't bear to think of having 
to begin lighting up at five or six o'clock — it 
seems so unnatural ; and then, next summer, 
somehow I feel quite lost, not being able to let 
down the blinds, and light the lamp for tea. 
Mamie, dear, shut the window, and let down 
the blinds before I light the lamp — somebody 
might see in ! " She suggested this danger in 
the same tone in which she might have hinted 
at a burglary. 

Under a glass shade a laggard clock ticked 
drearily towards the crisis, and Heriot provoked 
its history by the eagerness with which he 
looked to see the time. It« had been a wedding- 
present from " poor dear Edward's brother " ; 



and only one clockmaker had really understood 
it. The man had died, and since then 

He listened, praying for the kitchen to en- 
gulf hen 

When she withdrew at last, with an apology 
for leaving him, he rose, and went to the girl's 

" Do you know why I came this afternoon ? " 
he said. 

She did know — ^had known it in the moment 
that he opened the window for her : 

" To say * good-bye,* " she murmured. 

" I came to beg you not to go ! Dearest, 
what do you relinquish by marrying me now ? 
Not the Stage — ^your hope of the Stage is over ; 
not your ambition in itself— you can be ambi- 
tious as my wife. You lose nothing, and you 
give — ^a heaven. Mamie, won't you stay ? " 

She leant upon the mantelpiece without 
speaking. In the pause, Mrs. Baines' voice 
reached them distinctly, as she said, " Put the 
brawn on a smaller dish," 

"You are- forgetting," answered the girl 
slowly ; " there was '. . . a reason besides^the 



" It is you whoVe forgotten. I told you 
I would be content. • . .It would not be 
repugnant to you ? " 

" To refuse while I thought I had a future ; 

and to say * yes/ now How can you ask 

me ! It would be an insult to your love." 

" I do ask you," he urged ; " I implore ! " 

"You implore me to be contemptible. You 
would have a disappointed woman for your 
wife. You deserve something better than 

" Oh, my God," said Heriot, in a low voice, 
" if I could only tell you how I ache to take you 
in my arms, as softly as if you were a child ! If 
I could tell you what it is to me to know that 
you are passing out of my life, and that in two 
days* time I shall never see you again ! . . • 
Mamie ? " 

The heavy shuffle of the domestic was heard 
in the passage. 

" Mamie ? " he repeated desperately. " It will 
be worse over there." 

Her eyes were big with perplexity and doubt. 


" Are you sure you — ^sure " 

8i G 


" I love you ; I want you. Only trust me ! 
. . . Mamie ? " . , 

"If you*re quite sure you wish it," she 
faltered,—" yes ! " 



When Heriot informed his brother of his ap- 
proaching marriage, Sir Francis said, " I never 
offer advice to a man on matters of this sort " ; 
and proceeded to advise. He considered the 
union undesirable, and used the word. 

Heriot replied, "On the contrary, I desire 
it extremely." 

" YouVe of course the best judge of your own 
affairs. I will only say that it is hardly the 
attachment I should have expected you to form. 
It appears to me — if I may employ the term — 

" I should say," said Heriot, in his most im? 
passive manner, " that that is what it might be 
called. Admitting the element of romance, 
what of it ? " 

" We are not boys, George," said Sir Francis. 



He added, " And the lady is twenty-two ! The 
father is an hotel-keeper in the United States, 
you tell me, and the aunt lives in Wandsworth. 
Socially, Wandsworth is farther than the United 
States, but geographically it is close. This 
Mrs. Payne — or Baynes — is not a connection 
you will be proud of, I take it ? " 

" I shall be very proud of my wife," said 
Heriot, with some stiffness. " There are more 
pedigrees than happy marriages." 

The baronet looked at his jvatch. "As I 
have said, it's not a matter that I would venture 
to advise you upon. Of course I congratulate 
you. We shall see Miss Cheriton at Fairlawn, 
I hope? And — er — Catherine will be delighted 
to make her acquaintance. I have to meet Phil 
at the * Piccadilly.' He's got some absurd idea 
of exchanging — wants to go out to India, and 
see active service. And I got him into the 
Guards ! Boys are damned ungrateful ! . . 
When do you marry ? " 

" Very shortly : during the vacation ; there'll 
be no fuss." 

Sir Francis told his wife that it was very 
"lamentable," and Lady Heriot preferred to 



describe it as "disgusting." But in spite of 
adjectives the ceremony took place. 

The honeymoon was brief, and when the 
bride and bridegroom came back to town, they 
stayed in an hotel in Victoria Street while they 
sought a flat. Ultimately they decided upon 
one in South Kensington, and it was the man's 
delight to render this as exquisite as taste and 
money made possible. The furniture for his 
study had simply to be transferred from his 
bachelor quarters, but the other rooms gave 
scope for a hundred consultations and caprices, 
and he enjoyed the moments like a lad in which 
Mamie and he bent their heads together over 
patterns ^nd designs. 

She would have been more than human, 
and less than lovable, if in those early weeks 
her disappointment had not been lost sight 
of; more than a girl if the atmosphere of 
devotion in which she moved had not per- 
suaded her primarily that she was content. 
Only after the installation was effected and 
the long days while her husband was away 
were no longer occupied by the upholsterers' 
plans, did the earliest returning stir of recollec- 



tion come; only as she wandered from the 
drawing-room to the dining-room, and could 
find no further touches to make, did she first 

A gift of Heriot's — he had chosen it without 
her knowledge, and it had been delivered as a 
surprise — was a writing-table; a writing-table 
that was not merely meant to be a costly orna- 
ment, and one morning she sat down to it and 
began another attempt to produce a play. The 
occupation served to interest her, and now the 
days were not so empty. In the evening, as 
often as he was able, Heriot took her out to a 
theatre, or a concert, or to houses from which 
invitations commenced to arrive. The evenings 
were enchantingly new to her ; less so, perhaps, 
when they dined at the solemn houses than 
when a hansom deposited them at the doors of 
a restaurant, and her husband's pocket con- 
tained the tickets for a couple of stalls. She 
was conscious that she owed him more than she 
could ever repay ; and though she had casually 
informed him that she had begun a drama, she 
did not discuss the subject with him at any 
length. To dwell upon those eternal ambitions 



of hers was to remind him that she had said 
she would be dissatisfied, and he deserved some- 
thing different from that ; he deserved to forget 
it, to be told that she had not an ungratified 
wish ! She felt ungrateful to realize that such 
a statement \yould be an exaggeration. 

In the November following the wedding it 
was seen that ^* Her Majesty had been pleased, 
on the recommendation of the Lord Chancellor, 
to approve the name of George Langdale Heriot 
to the rank of Queen's Counsel," and Heriot 
soon found reason to congratulate himself on 
his step. A man may earn a large income as a 
Junior, and find himself in receipt of a very poor 
one as a Leader. There is an instance cited in 
the Inns of Court of a stuff-gownsman, making 
eight thousand a year, whose income fell, when 
he took silk, to three hundred. But Heriot's 
practice did not decline. Few men at the Bar 
could handle a jury better, or showed greater 
address in their dealings with the Bench. He 
knew instinctively the moment when that small 
concession was advisable, when the attitude of 
uncompromising rigour would be fatal to his 
case. He had his tricks in court: the least 



affected of men out of it, in court he had his 
tricks. Counsel acquire them inevitably, and 
one of Heriot's had been a favourite device of 
Ballantyne's : in cross-examination he looked 
at the witness scarcely at all, but kept his 
face turned to the jury-box. Why this should 
be persuasive is a mystery that no barrister 
can explain, but its effectiveness is undeniable. 
Nevertheless, he was essentially "sound." As 
he had been known as "a safe man" while 
a Junior, so, now that he had taken silk, he 
was believed in as a Leader, The figures 
on the briefs swelled enormously ; his services 
were more and more in demand. Then by-and- 
by there came a criminal case that was dis- 
cussed day by day throughout the length and 
breadth of the kingdom — in drawing-rooms and 
back parlours, in clubs and suburban trains, 
and Heriot was for the Defence, The Kensing- 
ton study had held him until dawn during 
weeks, for he had to break down medical evi- 
dence. And on the last day he spoke for five 
hours, while the reporters' pens flew and the 
prisoner swayed in the dock ; and the verdict 
returned Was, " Not Guilty." 



When he unrobed and left the court, George 
Heriot walked into the street the man of the 
hour ; and he drove home to Mamie, who kissed 
him as she might have kissed her father. 

He adored his wife, and his wife felt affection 
for him. But the claims of his profession left 
her to her own resources ; and she had no child. 



When they had been married three years she 
knew many hours of boredom. She could not 
disguise from herself that she found the life she 
led more and more unsatisfying — that luxury 
and a devoted husband, who was in court 
during the day and often in his study half 
the night, were not all that she had craved for ; 
that her environment was Philistine, depressing, 
dull ! 

And she lectured herself, and said the fault 
was her own, and that it was a very much better 
environment than her abilities entitled her to. 
She recited all the moral precepts that a third 
person might have uttered; and the dissatis- 
faction remained. 

To write plays ceases to be an attractive oc- 
cupation when they are never produced. She 
had written several plays by this time, and sub- 



mitted them, more or less judiciously, to several 
West End theatres. There had even been an 
instance of a manager returning a manuscript 
in response to her fourth application for it. But 
she was no nearer to success, or to an artistic 

A career at the Bar is not all causes c^lfebres, 
and the details of Heriot's briefs were rarely 
enthralling to her mind, even when he discussed 
them with her ; and when he came into the 
drawing-room he did not want to discuss his 
briefs. He wanted to talk trifles, just as he 
preferred to see a musical comedy or a farce 
when they went out. Nor did he press her for 
particulars of her own pursuits during his ab- 
sence. She never sighed over him, and he read 
her display of cheerfulness as true contentment. 
That such allusions to her literary work as she 
made were careless, he took to mean that she 
had gradually acquired staider views. Once he 
perceived that it was perhaps quieter for her 
than for most women, for she had no intimate 
acquaintances ; but then she had never been 
used to any ! There were her books, and her 
music, and her shopping — no, he did not think 



she could be hipped. Besides, her manner at 
dinner was always direct evidence to the con- 
trary ! 

She was now twenty-five years old, and the 
Kensington flat and abundant means had lost 
their novelty. She was never moved by a clever 
novel without detesting her own obscurity ; 
never looked in the window of the Stereoscopic 
Company without a passion of envy for the suc- 
cessful artists ; never accompanied Heriot to 
the solemn houses without yearning for the 
entree to Upper Bohemia instead. She was 
twenty -five years old, and marriage, without 
having fulfilled the demands of her tempera- 
ment, had developed her sensibilities. It was 
at this period that she met Lucas Field. 

If her existence had been a story, nothing 
could have surprised her less than such a meet- 
ing. It would have been at this juncture pre- 
cisely that she looked for the arrival of an artist, 
and "Lucas Field" would probably have been 
a brilliant young man who wore his hair long, 
and published decadent verse* The trite in 
fiction is often very astonishing in one's own 
life, however, and, as a matter of fact, she 



found their introduction an event, and fore- 
saw nothing at all. 

Lucas Field was naturally well known to 
her by reputation — ^so well known that when 
the hostess brought " Mr, Field " across to her, 
Mamie never dreamed of identifying him with 
Ihe dramatist. She had long since ceased to 
expect to meet anybody congenial at these 
parties, and the fish had been reached before 
she discovered who it really was who had 
taken her down. 

Field was a trifle bored himself. He had 
not been bred in the vicinity of the foot- 
lights — his father had been a physician, and 
his mother the daughter of a Lincolnshire 
parson — but he had drifted into dramatic 
literature when he came down from Oxford, 
and the atmosphere of the artistic world had 
become essential to him by now. Portman 
Square, though he admitted its desirability 
and would have been mortified if it had been 
denied to him, invariably oppressed him a shade 
when he entered it He was at the present 
time foretasting hell in the fruitless endeavour 
to devise a scenario for his next play, and he 
had looked at Mamie with a' little interest as 



he was conducted across the drawing-room. A 
beautiful woman has always an air of sugges- 
tion ; she is a beginning, but she does not 
advance. She is a heroine without a plot 
Regarded from the easel she is all-sufficing — 
contemplated from the desk, she is illusive. 
After you have admired the tendrils of hair^ 
at the nape of her neck, you realize with de- 
spondence that she takes you no farther than 
if she had been plain. 

Field had realized that she left him in the 
lurch before his soup plate had been removed. 
Presently he inquired if she was fond of the 

" Please don't say * yes ' from politeness," he 

" Why should I ? " 

She had gathered the reason in the next 
moment, and her eyes lit with eagerness. He 
had a momentary terror that she was going 
to be commonplace. 

"I couldn't dream that it was you— here!" 
she said apologetically. 

"Isn't a poor playwright respectable?" he 



There was an instant in which she felt that 
on her answer depended the justification of her 
soul. She said afterwards that she could have 
" fallen round an epigram's neck." 

" I should think the poor playwright must 
be very dull!" she replied. 

This was adequate, however, and better than 
his own response, which was of necessity con- 

"I have seen your new comedy," she con«» 

"I hope it pleased you?" 

" I admired it immensely — like every one eke. 
It is a great success, isn't it?" 

"The theatre is very full every night," he 
said deprecatingly. 

"Then it is a success!" 

" Does that follow ? " 

"You are not satisfied with it? It falls 
short of what you meant? I shouldn't have 
supposed that ; it seemed to me entirely clear ! " 

"That I had a theory? Really f Perhaps 
I have not failed so badly as I thought." He 
did not think he had failed at all, but this 
sort of thing was his innocent weakness. 



"Miss Millington is almost perfect as 
* Daisy/ isn't she ? " 

" * Almost ' ? Where do you find her weak ? " 

She blushed ^ 

" She struck me— hdF course I am no authority 
— as not quite fulfilling your idea in the first 
Act — when she accepted the captain, I thought 
perhaps she was too responsible there — too 
grown up." 

" There isn't a woman in London who could 
play * Daisy/ " said Field savagely. " In other 
words, you think she wrecked the piece ? " 

" Oh, no, indeed ! " 

"If * Daisy' isn't a child when she marries, 
the play has no meaning, no sense. That is 
why the character was so difficult to cast — in 
the first Act she must be a school-girl, and in 
the others an emotional woman." 

"Perhaps I said too much." 

"You are a critic, Mrs. Heriot." 

" Oh, merely " 


" Merely very interested by the Stage." 

^*To be interested by the Stage is very or- 
dinary," he said ; " to be a judge of it is rather 



rare. No, you didn't say too much: Miss 
Millington doesn't fulfil my idea when she 
accepts * Captain Arminger.' And to be frank, 
/ haven't fulfilled Miss Millington's idea of 
a consistent part." 

" I can understand," said Mamie, " that it is 
the great drawback to writing for the stage, 
that one depends so largely on one's inter- 
preters. A novelist succeeds or fails by him- 
self, but a dramatist " 

" A dramatist is the most miserable of created 
beings," said Field, "if he happens to be an 

" I can hardly credit that ! I can't credit 
anybody being miserable who is an, artist" 
(He laughed. It was not polite, but he 
couldn't help it.) "Though I can understand 
his having moods of the most frightful de- 
pression," she added. 

" Oh, you can understand that ? " 

" Quite. Would he be an artist if he didn't 
have them ! " 

" May I ask if you write yourself? " 

" N — no," she murmured. 

" Does that mean * yes ' ? " 

97 H 


" It means * only for my own amusement * ! " 

"The writer who only writes for his own 
amusement is mythical, I'm afraid," said Field. 
" One often hears of him, but he doesn't bear 
investigation. You don't write plays ? " 

«No— I try to!" 

He regarded her a little cynically. 

" I thought ladies always wrote novels ? " 

" I wish to be original, you see." 

" Do you send them anywhere ? " 

" Oh, yes ; I send them ; I suppose I always 

"You're really in earnest then? You're not 
discouraged ? " 

" I'm very earnest, and very discouraged, too. 
. . . Is it impertinent to ask if you had 
such experiences as mine when you were 
younger ? " 

" I wrote plays for ten years before I passed 
through a stage-door — one must expect to 
work for years before one is produced. . . . 
Of course, one may work all one's life, and 
not be produced then!" 

" It depends how clever one is, or whether 
one is clever at all?" 



" It depends on a good many things. It 
depends sometimes on advice." 

If she had been less lovely, he would not 
have said this, and he knew it; if she had 
not been Mrs. Heriot, he would not have said 
it either. The average woman who "wants a 
literary man's advice " is the bane of his exist- 
ence, and Field had not only no sympathy 
with the tyro as a rule, but was inclined to 
disparage the majority of his colleagues. He 
was clever, and was aware of it ; he occupied 
a prominent position. He had arrived at the 
point when he could dare to be psychological 
" It depends sometimes on advice," he said. 
And the wife of George Heriot, Q.C., mur- 
mured : "Unfortunately, I liave nobody to advise 

Even as it was he regretted it when he took 
his leave; and the manuscript that he had 
offered to read lay in his study for three weeks 
before he opened it. He picked it up one 
night, remembering that the writer had been 
very beautiful. The perusal inspired him with 
the desire to see her again. That the play 
was full of faults goes without saying, but it 




was unconventional, and there was character 
in it He recollected that she had interested 
him while they talked after dinner on a 
couch by the piano ; and, since her work 
was promising, he wrote, volunteering to point 
out in an interview, if she liked, those errors 
in technique which it would take too long to 
explain by letter. It cannot be made too clear 
that if she had sent him a work of genius 
and she had been plain Miss Smith in a home- 
made blouse, he would have done nothing of 
the sort. He called upon her with no idea 
that his hints would make a dramatist of her 
eventually ; nor did he care in the slightest 
degree whether they did, or did not She was 
a singularly lovely woman, and as her drama 
had not been stupid — stupidity would have re- 
pelled him — ^he thought a t^te-^-tfite with her 
would be agreeable. 

To Mamie he was as all the Muses in one, 
however, and the afternoon on which he sat like 
an ordinary mortal sipping tea in her flat was 
the day of her life. She told him she had once 
hoped to be an actress, and believed that the 
avowal would advance her in his esteem. He 



answered that he should not be astonished if she 
had the histrionic gift ; and was inwardly dis- 
enchanted a shade by what he felt to be banal. 
Then they discussed his own work, and he 
found her appreciation remarkably intelligent. 
To talk about oneself to a woman, who listens 
with exquisite eyes fixed upon one's face, is very 
gratifying to a literary man. If one is mediocre, 
she makes one feel clever; and if one have 
talent, one feels greater still. Field had rarely 
spent a pleasanter hour. It is not intimated 
that he was a vain puppy — ^he was not a puppy 
at all. He had half unconsciously felt the want 
of a sympathetic confidant for a long while, 
though, and albeit he did not instantaneously 
realize that Mrs. Heriot supplied the void, 
he walked back to his chambers with exhila- 

He realized it by degrees. He had never 
married. He had avoided matrimony till he 
was thirty because he could not afford it ; and 
during the last decade he had escaped it be- 
cause he had not met a woman whom he desired 
sufficiently to pay such a price. When he had 
seen Mamie several times — and under the cir- 



cumstances it was not difficult to invent reasons 
for seeing her — he wondered whether he would 
not have proposed to her if she had been single. 

Heriot was very pleased to have him dine 
with them ; and he was not ignorant that during 
the next few months Field often dropped in 
about five o'clock. Mamie concealed nothing — 
knowingly — and the subject of her writing was 
revived now. She told George that Mr. Field 
thought she had ability. She repeated his 
criticisms ; frankly admired his talent ; con- 
fessed that she was proud to have him on her 
visiting list ; and fell in love with him without 
either analysing her feelings or perceiving her 

And while Mrs. Heriot fell in love with him, 
Lucas Field was not blind. He saw a great 
deal more than she saw herself— he saw, not 
only the influence he exercised over her, but 
that she had moped before he appeared. He 
did not misread her ; he was conscious that she 
would never take a lover from caprice — that 
she was the last woman in the world to sin 
lightly and in secret. He saw that, if he yielded 
to the temptation that had begun to assail him, 



he must be prepared to ask her to live with him 
openly. But he asked himself if it was quite 
impossible he could prevail on her to do that, 
if he had the mind to do so — whether she was 
so impregnable as she believed. 

He was by this time fascinated by her. His 
happiest afternoons were spent in South Ken- 
sington, advancing his theories, and reciting his 
latest scenes ; nor was it a lie when he averred 
that she assisted him. To be an artist it is not 
necessary to be able to produce, and if her own 
attempts had been infinitely more futile than 
they were, she might still have expressed 
opinions that were of service to another. Many 
of her views were impracticable, naturally. 
Psychological as his tendencies were, he was a 
dramatist ; and he could not snap his fingers at 
the laws imposed by the footlights, though he 
might affect to deride them in his confidences. 
The only dramatist alive was Ibsen, he said ; 
yet he did not model himself on Ibsen, albeit 
he was delighted when she exclaimed, " How 
Ibsenish that is!" Many of her views were 
impracticable, because she was ignorant about 
the Stage ; but many were intensely stimulating. 



The more he was with her, the less he doubted 
her worthiness of sinning for his sake. He 
was so different from the ordinary dramatic 
author. On the ordinary dramatic author with 
no ideas beyond "curtains" and "fees," she 
would have been thrown away. He did not 
wish to be associated with a scandal — it would 
certainly be unpleasant — ^but she dominated 
him, there was no disguising the fact. And he 
would be very good to her ; he would marry 
her. She was adorable 

His meditations had not progressed so far 
without the girl's eyes being opened to her 
weakness; and now she hated herself more 
bitterly than she had hated the tedium of her 
life. She knew that she loved him. She was 
wretched when he was not with her, and ashamed 
when he was there. She wandered about the 
flat in her solitude, frightened as she realized 
what an awful thing had come to her. But she 
was drunk — intoxicated by the force of the 
guilty love, and by the thought that such a man 
as Lucas Field could be in love with her. She 
revered him for not having told her of the feel- 
ings she inspired ; her courage was sustained 



by the belief that he did not divine her own — 
that she would succeed in stamping them out 
without his ever having dreamed of the danger 
she had run. Yet she was " drunk " ; and one 
afternoon the climax was reached — he implored 
her to go away with him ! 




If a woman sins, and the chronicler of her sin 
desires to excuse the woman, her throes and 
her struggles, her pangs and her prayers always 
occupy at least three chapters. If one does not 
seek to excuse her, the fact of her fall may as 
well be stated in the fewest possible .words, 
Mamie did struggle — she struggled for a long 
time — but in the end she was just as guilty as 
if she hadn't shed a tear. Field's pertinacity 
and passion wore her resistance out at last. 
Theirs was to be the ideal union, and of course 
he cited famous cases where the man and woman 
designed for each other by Heaven had only 
met after one of them had blundered. He did 
not explain why Heaven had permitted the 
blunders, after being at the pains to design 
kindred souls for one another's ecstasy ; but 
there are things that even the youngest curate 



cannot explain. He insisted that she would 
never regret her step ; he declared that, with 
himself for her husband, she would become 
celebrated. Art, love, joy, all might be hers at 
a word. And she spoke it. 

When Heriot came in one evening, Mamie 
was not visible, and he wondered what had be- 
come of her, for at this hour she was always at 
home. But he had not a suspicion of evil — ^he 
was as far from being prepared for the blow 
that was in store as if Field had never crossed 
their path. He had let himself in with his latch- 
key, and after a quarter of an hour it occurred 
to him that she might be already in the dining- 
room. When he entered it he noted with sur- 
prise that the table was only laid for one. 

" Where is Mrs. Heriot ? " he said, when the 
servant appeared in response to his ring. 

" Mrs. Heriot has gone out of town, sir." 

" Out of town ! " he exclaimed. " What do 
you mean?" 

" Mrs. Heriot left a note for you, sir, to 
explain. There it is, sir." 

Heriot took it from the mantlepiece quickly ; 
but still he had no suspicion — not an inkling 



of the truth. He tore the envelope open and 
read the enclosure, while the maid waited 
respectfully by the door. 

" Your mistress has been called away," he 
said when he had finished ; " illness ! She will 
be gone some time." 

His back was to her ; he could command his 
voice, but his face was beyond his control. He 
felt that if he moved he would reel, perhaps fall. 
He stood motionless, with the letter open in his 

" Shall I serve dinner, sir ? " 

" Yes, serve dinner, Odell ; Fm quite ready." 

It was his opportunity to gain the chair when 
the door closed, and he walked towards it 
slowly like a blind man. The letter that he 
held had left but one hope possible — the last 
hope of despair — to keep the matter for awhile 
from the servants' knowledge. As yet he was 
not suffering acutely ; indeed, in these early 
moments, the effect of the shock was more 
physical than mental. There was a trembling 
through his body, and his head felt queerly 
light — empty, not his own. 

The maid came back, and he forced himself 



to dine. The first spoonfuls of the soup he took 
were but heat — entirely tasteless — to his mouth, 
and at the pit of his stomach a sensation of 
sickness rose and writhed like something living. 
When she retired once more, his head fell for- 
ward on his arms ; it was a relief to rest it so in 
the seconds in which her vigilance was removed. 
He did not know how he could support the 
strain of the long ordeal ! 

By degrees his stupor began to pass as he 
stared at the vacant place where his wife should 
have sat ; the dazed brain rallied to compre- 
hension. His wife was not there because she 
was with her lover ! Oh, God ! with her " lover " 
— Mamie had given herself to another man ! 
Mamie I Mamie had gone to another man ! 
His face was grey and distorted now, and the 
glass that he was lifting snapped at the stem. 
She had gone. She was no longer his wife! 
She was guilty, shameless, defiled — Mamie ! 

He rose, an older, a less vigorous, figure. 

" I shall be busy to-night," he muttered ; 
"don't let me be disturbed." 

He went to his study, and dropped upon the 
seat before his desk. Her photograph confronted 



him, and he took it down, and held it shakenly. 
How young she looked ! was there ever a face 
more pure ! And Heaven knew that he had 
loved her as dearly only an hour ago as 
on the day that they were married! Not a 
whim of hers had been refused ; not a request 
could he recollect that he had failed to obey. 
Yet now she was with a lover ! She smiled in 
the likeness ; the eyes that met his own were 
clear and tender ; truth was stamped upon her 
features. He recalled incidents of the past 
three years, incidents that had been rich in the 
intimacy of their life. Surely in those hours she 
had loved him ? That had not been gratitude — 
a sense of duty merely? — had she not loved him 
then ? He remembered their wedding-day. 
How pale she had been, how innocent — a child. 
Yet now she was with a lover ! A sob convulsed 
him, and he nodded slowly at the likeness 
through his tears. Presently he put it back ; he 
was angered at his weakness. He had deserved 
something better at her hands ! Pride forbade 
that he should mourn for her ! He had married 
wildly, yes, he should have listened to advice ; 
Francis had warned him. Perhaps while he 



wept they were laughing at him together, she 
and Field ! How did he know it was Field — 
had she oientioned his name in the letter ? He 
knew that it was Field instinctively ; he mar- 
velled that he had not foreseen the danger, and 
averted it. How stupid had the petitioners in 
divorce suits often appeared to him in his time! 
— he had wondered that men could be so pur- 
blind—and he himself had been as dense as 
any ! • . . But she would not laugh ! Ah, 
guilty as she was, she would not laugh — ^she was 
not so vile as that! The clock in the ropm 
struck one. He heard it half unconsciously — 
then started, and threw out his arms with a 
hoarse cry. He sprang to his. feet, fired with 
the tortures of the damned. The sweat burst 
out on him, and the veins in his forehead swelled 
like cords. He was a temperate man, at once 
by taste and by necessity, but now he walked to 
where the brandy was kept, and drank a wine- 
glassful in gulps. " Mamie ! " he groaned again ; 
" Mamie ! " The brandy did not blot the picture 
from his brain ; and he refilled the glass. . . . 
Nothing would efface the picture t 
He knew that it was hopeless to attempt 



to sleep, yet he went to the bedroom. The 
ivory brushes were gone from the toilet-table — 
she had been able to think of brushes ! In the 
wardrobe the frocks were fewer, and the linen 
was less ; the jewellery that he had given to her 
had been left behind. All was orderly. There 
were no traces of a hurried departure ; the room 
had its usual aspect He looked at the pillows. 
Against the one that had been hers lay the bag 
of silk and lace that contained her night-dress. 
Had she forgotten it; or was it that she had 
been incapable of transferring that ? He picked 
it up, and dropped it out of sight in one of the 

He did not go to bed ; he spent the night in 
an armchair, re-reading the letter, and thinking. 
When the servant knocked at the door, he went 
to his dressing-room, and shaved. He had a 
bath, and breakfasted, and strolled to the station. 
Outwardly he had recovered from the blow, and 
his clerk who gave him his list of appointments 
remarked nothing abnormal about him. In 
court Heriot remembered that Mamie and he 
were to have dined in Holland Park in the 
evening, and during the luncheon adjournment 



he sent a telegram of excuse. If any one had 
known what had happened to him, he would 
have been thought devoid of feeling. 

He had scarcely re-entered the flat when 
Mrs. Baines called. His first impulse was to 
decline to see her ; but he told the maid to show 
her in. 

A glance assured him that she was ignorant 
of what had occurred. 

" Dear Mamie is away, the servant tells me ! " 
she said, simpering. " I hadn't seen her for such 
a long time that I thought Vd look in to-day. 
Not that I should have been so late, but I missed 
my train. I meant to come in and have a cup 
of tea with her at five o'clock. Well, I am un- 
fortunate ! And how have you been keeping, 
Mr. Heriot ? " 

" I'm glad to see you. I hope you are well 
Mrs. Baines." 

" Where has dear Mamie gone ? " she asked. 
" Pleasuring ? " 

" She is on the Continent, I believe. May I 
tell them to bring you some tea now ? " 

"On the Continent alone?" exclaimed Mrs. 
Baines. " Fancy ! " 

113 I 


"No, she is not alone," said Heriot. "You 
must prepare yourself for a shock, Mrs. Baines. 
Your niece has left me." 

She looked at him puzzled. His tone was so 
composed that it seemed to destroy the signifi- 
cance of his words. 

" Left you ? How do you mean ? " 

" She has gone with her lover." 

« Oh, my Gawd ! " said Mrs. Baines. " What- 
ever are you saying, Mr. Heriot ? Don*t ! " 

" Your niece is living with another man. She 
left me yesterday," he continued quietly. " I 
regret to have to tell you such news." 

He was sorrier as he observed the effect of 
the intelligence, but he could not soften the 
shock for her by any outward participation in 
her grief. Since he must speak at all, he must 
speak as he did. 

" Oh, to hear of such a thing ! " she gasped. 

" Oh, to think that— well Oh, Mr. Heriot, 

I can*t — it can*t be true. Isn't it some mis- 
take? Dear Mamie would never be so wicked, 
Fm sure she wouldn't ! It's some awful mis- 
take, you may depend." 

" There's no mistake, Mrs. Baines. My au- 



thority is your niece herself. She left a letter 
to tell me she was going, and why." 

The widow moaned feebly. 

" With another man ? " 

He bowed. 

" Oh, Heaven will punish her, Mr. Heriot ! 
Oh, what will her father say — how could she do 
it ! And you — ^how gentle and kind to her you 
were / could see ! " 

" I did my best to make her happy," he said ; 
" evidently I didn't succeed. Is it necessary for 
us to talk about it much? Believe me, you 
have my sympathy, but talking won't improve 

" Oh, but I can't look at it so — so calmly, Mr. 
Heriot! The disgrace! and so sudden! And 
it isn't for ;«^ to have ^^^z* sympathy, I'm sure. 
I say it isn't {or you to sympathise with me. My 
heart bleeds for you, Mr. Heriot ! " 

" You're very good," he answered; "but I don't 
know that a faithless wife is much to grieve for 
after all." 

" Ah^ but you don't mean, that! You were 
too fond of her to mean it ! She'll live to repent 
it, you may be certain — the Lord will bring it 



home to her ! Oh, how could she do it ! You 
don't — ^you don't intend to have a divorce ? " 

"Naturally I intend it What else do you 
propose ? " 

"Oh, I don't know," she quavered, rocking 
herself to and fro, and smearing the tears down 
her cheeks with a forefinger in a black silk glove; 
" but the disgrace ! And all Lavender Street to 
read about it ! Ah, you won't divorce her, Mr. 
Heriot ? It would be so dreadful ! " 

" Don't you want to see the man marry her ? " 

" How marry her ? " she asked vaguely. " Oh, 
I understand ! Yes, I suppose he could marry 
her then, couldn't he ? I'm not a lawyer like 
you ; I didn't look so far ahead. But I don't 
want a divorce." 

" Ah, well, / want it," he said ; " for my own 

"Then you don't love her any more, Mr. 
Heriot ? " 

He laughed drearily. 

" Your niece has ended her life with me of 
her own accord. I've nothing more to do with 

" Those are cruel words," said Mrs. Baines ; 



" those are cruel words about a girl who was 
your lawful wife — the flesh of your bone in the 
sight of Gawd and man. YouVe harder than I 
thought, Mr. Heriot; you don't take it quite 
as Fd have supposed you'd take it. • . . So 
quiet and stern like ! I think if you'd loved 
her tenderly, you'd have talked more heart- 
broken, though it's not for me to judge." 

Heriot rose. 

" I can't discuss my sentiments with you, Mrs. 
Baines. Think, if you like, that I didn't care 
for her at all. At least my duty to her is 
over ; and I have a duty to myself to-day." 

"To cast her off?" The semi-educated 
classes use the phrases of novelettes habitually. 
Whether this is the reason the novelettes trade 
in the phrases, or whether the semi-educated 
acquire the phrases from the novelettes, is not 

" To " He paused. He could not trust 

himself to speak at that moment. 

"To cast her off!" repeated Mrs. Baines. 
" Oh, I don't make excuses for her ; I don't pity 
her. Though she is my brother's child, I say 
she is deserving of whatever befalls her ! I re- 



member well that when Dick married I warned 
him against it; I said, *She isn't the wife for 
you ! ' It's the mother's blood coming out in 
her, though still my brother's child. What was 
I going, to say ? I'm that upset that—— Oh, 
yes ! 1 make no excuses for her, but I would 
have liked to see more sorrow, Mr. Heriot, on 
your part. I could have pitied you more if 
you'd have taken it more to heart. You may 
think me bold, but it was ever my way to say 
what was in my mind. I don't think I'll stop 
any longer. The way you may take it is be- 
tween you and your Gawd, but " — she put 

out her hand—" I don't think I'll stop." 

" Good-evening," he said stonily. " I'm sorry 
you cannot stay and dine." 

She recollected on the stairs that she had not 
inquired who the man was ; but she was too 
disgusted by Heriot's manner to go back. 



When a naturally pure woman, who is not sus- 
tained by any emancipated views, consents to 
live with a man in defiance of social prejudices, 
she probably obtains as clear an insight as the 
world affords into the enormous difference that 
exists between the ideal and the actual. Matri- 
mony does not illumine the difference so vividly, 
because matrimony, with all its disillusions, 
leaves her an unembarrassed conscience. With 
her lover such a woman experiences all the 
prose of wedlock, and a sting to boot A man 
cannot be at concert-pitch all day long with his 
mistress any more easily than he can with his 
wife. She has to submit to bills and other 
practical matters just as much with a smirched 
reputation as she had with a spotless one. The 
romance does not wear any better because the 
Marriage Service is omitted. A lover is no less 



liable to be common-place than a husband when 
the laundress knocks the buttons off his shirts. 

Yes, Mamie was infatuated by Field; she 
had not sinned with a cool head simply to 
procure a guide up Parnassus. But she had 
hoped to pick a few laurels there all the same. 
She found herself in a little flat in the Rue 
Tronchet. They had few visitors, and those 
who did come were men who talked in a lan- 
guage that she did not understand, but who 
looked things that she would have been glad 
had she misunderstood. 

Nor was the remorse and humiliation that rfie 
felt leavened by any consciousness of advancing 
in her art Field rather pooh-poohed her art 
as the months went by after the decree nisi was 
pronounced. He still discussed his work with 
her — perhaps less as if she had been a sybil 
than formerly, but still with interest in her 
ideas. Her own work, however, bored him now. 
He had no intention of being cold, but the sub- 
ject seemed puerile to his mind. If she did 
write a play that was produced one day, or if 
she didn't, what earthly consequence was it? 
She would never write a great one ; and these 



panting aspirations which begot such mediocre 
results savoured to him of a storm in a teacup — 
of a furnace lit to boil the kettle. 

He was rather sorry that he had run away 
with her, but he did not regret it particularly. 
Of course he would marry her as soon as he 
could — ^he owed her that; and, since he was 
not such a blackguard as to contemplate desert- 
ing her by-and-by, he might, just as well marry 
her as not. The whole affair had been a folly 
certainly. He was not rich, and he was ex- 
travagant; he would have done better to remain 
as he was. Still many men envied him. He 
trusted fervently she would not have children, 
though ! It didn't seem likely ; but if she ever 
did, the error would be doubled. He did not 
want a son who had cause to be ashamed of 
his mother when he grew up ! 

It was curious that she did not refer more 
often to his legalizing their union. Her position 
pained her he could see, and made her very 
frequently a dull companion. That was the 
worst of these things ! One paid for the step 
dearly enough to expect lively society in return, 
and yet, if one complained of mournfulness, one 



would be a brute. He would write a drama 
some time or other to show that it was really 
the man who was deserving of sympathy in 
such an alliance. It would be very original, as 
he would treat it The lover should explain 
his situation to another woman whom he had 
learnt to love since, and — well, he didn't see 
how it should end : — with the dilemma repeated? 
And it didn't matter after all, for nobody would 
have the courage to produce it 

He made these reflections in his study. In 
the salon — furnished in accordance with the 
taste$ of the lady who had sub-let the flat to 
them for six months — Mamie stood staring 
down at the street It was four o'clock, and, 
saving for half an hour at lunch, she had not 
seen him since ten. For distraction she could 
make her choice among some Tauchnitz novels, 
her music, and a walk. Excepting that the 
room was tawdry and ill-ventilated, ajid that 
she had lost her reputation, it was not unlike 
her life in South Kensington. 

In her pocket was a letter from her father — 
the most difficult letter that it had ever fallen 
to Dick Cheriton's lot to compose. Theoreti- 



cally he thought social prejudices absurd — as 
became an artist to whom God had given his 
soul — ^and had often insisted on their ineptitude. 
As regarded his own daughter, however, he 
would have preferred to see them treated with 
respect. There was a likeness to Lucas Field 
here. Field also dwelt on the hill-top, but he 
wanted his son, if he ever had one, to boast 
a stainless mother. Cheriton had not indited 
curses, like the fathers in melodrama, and the 
people who have "found religion ";— only the 
parents of melodrama, and the " Christians " 
who go to church twice every Sunday, are in- 
famous enough to curse their children ; — he had 
told her, if she found herself forsaken, to cable 
him for her passage-money back to Duluth. 
But that he was ashamed and broken by what 
she had done, he had not attempted to conceal ; 
and as she stood there, gazing down on the 
Rue Tronchet, Mamie was recalling the confes- 
sion she had sent, to which this was an answer. 
Phrases she had used came back to her: — "I 
have done my best, but my love was too strong 
for me " ; " Wicked as it may be to say it, I 
know that, even in my guilt, I shall always be 



happy " ; "I met the right man too late, but I 
am so young — I could not suffer all my life 
without him " ; " Forgive me if you can." Had 
she — it was a horrible thought — had she been 
mistaken? Had she blundered more terribly 
than when she married? For, unless her pro- 
phecies of joy to the brim were fulfilled — unless 
her measure of thanksgiving overflowed — the 
blunder was more terrible, infinitely more ter- 
rible : she had been a gambler who staked her 
soul in her conviction of success. 

The question was one that she had asked 
herself many times before, without daring to 
hear the answer; but that the answer was in 
her heart, though she shrank from acknowledg- 
ing it, might be seen in her expression, in her 
every pose ; it might be seen now, as she 
drooped by the window. She sighed, and sat 
down, and shivered. Yes, she knew it — she had 
thrown away the substance for the shadow ; 
she could deceive herself no longer. Lucas 
Field was not so poetical a personality as she 
had imagined ; guilt had no glamour ; her de- 
votion had been a flash in the pan — a madness 
that had burned itself out. She had no right 



to blame her lover for that ; only the prospect 
of marriage with him filled her with no elation ; 
it inspired misgiving rather. If she had made 
a blunder, would it improve matters to per- 
petuate it? He was considerate to her, he 
spared her all the ignominy that was possible ; 
but instinctively she was aware that, if they 
parted, he would never miss her as her husband 
had done. In his life she would never make a 
hole ! She guessed the depth of Heriot's love 
better now that she had obtained a smaller one 
as plummet. Between the manner of the man 
who was not particularly sorry to have run 
away with her, and his whose pride she had 
been, the difference was tremendous to a woman 
whose position was calculated to develop her 
natural sensitiveness to the point of a disease. 

Should she marry Lucas or not? Hitherto 
she had merely avoided the query; now she 
trembled before it. Expedience said, " Yes " ; 
something within her said, " No." The decree 
would be made absolute in two months' time. 
What was to become of her if they separated ? 
To Duluth she could never go, to be pointed 
at and despised 1 She sighed again. 



" Bored, dear?" asked Field, in the doorway. 

" I was thinking." 

" That was obvious. Not of your— er — 
work ? " 

" No, not of my — ' er — work.' " 

He pulled his moustache with some embar- 

" I didn't mean anything derogatory to it." 

"Oh, I know," she said wearily; "don't — it 
doesn't matter! You can't think much less 
of it than I am beginning to do myself. You 
can't take much less interest in it ! " 

"You are unjust," said Field. 

" I am moped. Take me out. Take me 
out of myself if you can, but take me out of 
doors at any rate. I am yearning to be in a 

"We might go to a theatre to-night," he 
said ; " would you like to ? " 

"It doesn't amuse me very much;- I don't 
understand what they say. Still it would be 
something. But I want to go out now for a 
walk. I don't like walking here alone; can't 
you come with me?" 

" I'm afraid I can't. You forget I promised 



an * interview ' to that paper this afternoon. I 
expect the fellow here any moment." 

" You promised it ? " she exclaimed, with sur- 
prise. " Why, I thought you said that the 
pSlper was a * rag,' and you wouldn't dream of 
consenting ? " 

" After all, one must be courteous. I changed 
my mind. There's some talk of translating 
A Clever Man's Son into French. An 'inter- 
view ' just now would be good policy." 

" You are going to be * adapted ' ? A Clever 
Man's Son ? " 

" Translated," he said. " I may adapt. I am 
— translated ! " 

She smiled, but perceived almost at the same 
instant that she had not been intended to do 
so, and that he had said it seriously. 

" I make a very good ' interview,' " he con- 
tinued, lighting a cigarette ; " I daresay you've 
noticed it. I never count an epigram or two 
wasted, though they do go into another chap's 
* copy.' That's where many men make a mis- 
take ; or very likely they can't invent the epi- 
grams. Anyhow, they don't! The average 
'interview' is as dull as the average play. 



People think it's the journalists' fault, but it 
isn't It's the fault of the deadly dull dogs 
who've got nothing to tell them. I ought to 
have gone a good deal farther than I have : 
I've the two essential qualities for success — 
I'm an artist and a showman." 

" Don't ! " she murmured ; " don't ! " 

He laughed gaily. 

" I'm perfectly frank ; I admit the necessities 
of life — ^^I've told you so before ! My mind 
never works so rapidly as it does in prospect 
of a good advertisement. There the fellow is, 
I expect ! " he added, as the bell rang. " The 
study is quite in disorder for him, and there are 
a bunch of Parma violets and a flask of maras- 
chino on the desk. I'm going to remark that 
maraschino and the scent of violets are indis- 
pensable to me when I work. He won't believe 
it, unless he is very young, but he'll be im- 
measurably obliged; that sort of thing looks 
well in an ' interview ' ! Violets and maraschino 
are a graceful combination, I think." 

She did not reply ; she sat pale and chagr 
rined. He was renowned enough, and more 
than talented enough to dispense with these 



stage-tricks in the library. She knew it, and 
he knew it, but he could not help them. Awhile 
ago they had caused her the cruellest pain ; now 
she was more contemptuous than anything else, 
albeit she was still galled that he should display 
his foibles so candidly. " I am quite frank," 
he had said. She found such "frankness" a 
milestone on the road she had travelled. 

"My dear child," said Field, "among the 
illusions of a man's youth is the belief that, if 
he goes through life doing his humble best in 
an unobtrusive way, the press will say what a 
jolly fine fellow he is, and hold him up as a 
pattern to all the braggarts and poseurs who 
are blowing their own trumpets, and scraping 
on their own fiddles. Among the things he 
learns as he grows older is the fact that, if he 
does his best in an unobtrusive way, the press 
will say nothing about him at all ! The fiddle 
and the trumpet are essential, but it is possible 
to play them with a certain amount of refine- 
ment. It is even possible — though a clever 
man cannot dispense with the fiddle and the 
trumpet — for the fiddle and the trumpet to be 
played so dexterously that he may dispense 

129 K 


with cleverness ! I do not go to such lengths 
myself " 

"You have no need to do so," she said 

" I have no need to do so — thank you ! But 
I can quite conceive that, say, violets and maras- 
chino, worked for all they were worth, might 
make a man famous alone. A mouse liberated 
a lion, and things smaller than a mouse have 
created one before now. The violet in the 
hedgerow * bloomed unseen,' — or * died unknown,' 
was it? It did something modest and un- 
successful, I know ! The violet assiduously 
paragraphed and paraded might lead to for- 

" I would rather be obscure, and do honest, 
conscientious work," answered Mamie, "than 
write rubbish, and finesse myself into popu- 

" It is much easier ! " he said tranquilly. " To 
be obscure is the one thing that is easy still. 
You don't mind my saying that I hate the 
adjectives you used, though, do you ? The 
words, 'honest' and 'conscientious,' applied 
to literature, dearest, make me shudder, I 



am always afraid that 'wholesome* is coming 
in the next sentence." 

"Are you going to say so to your inter- 
viewer ? " 

"The remark doesn't scintillate with bril-- 
liance. It was sincere, and to be sincere and 
brilliant at the same time is a little difficult. 
. . . IVe been both, though, in the Act I've 
just done ; you must read it, or rather I'll read 
it to you. You'll be pleased with it. As soon 
as the piece is finished I must write to Erskine. 
It will suit the Pall Mall down to the ground, 
and I should like it done there, only " 

" Only what ? " 

Field hesitated. 

" I meant it for Erskine from the commence- 
ment. He saw the scenario, and the part fits 
him like a glove." 

" But what were you going to say ? " 

" Well, I fancy tfc has some idea that a piece 
of mine just now — ^you understand, with the case 
so fresh in people's minds . . . Erskine's a 
fool ! What on earth does the public care ? Of 
course he'll do it when he reads the part he's 
got! Only I know he is doubting whether 



my name would be a judicious card to play 
yet awhile." 

There was a pause, in which her heart 
contracted painfully. 

" I see," she rejoined, in a low voice. 

He fidgetted before the mirror, and glanced 
at his watch. 

" That fellow must be getting impatient ! " 

" You had better go in to him," she said. 

"Well, we'll go to the Vaudeville, or some- 
where to-night, Mamie — ^that's arranged ? " 

" Yes, to the Vaudeville, or somewhere," she 
assented, with another sigh. 

She went back to the window, and stared at 
the Rue Tronchet with wet eyes. 



Some weeks afterwards Field went to England. 
He did not take Mamie with him, for he only 
intended to remain a few days, nor had she 
been at all desirous of accompanying him. She . 
had begun, indeed, to see that she did not know 
what she did desire. Her life in Paris oppressed 
her ; the notion of Duluth was horrible ; and 
the thought of living with Lucas in London, 
where she might meet an acquaintance of 
Heriot's at any turn, was repugnant in an 
almost equal degree. 

Field was unexpectedly detained in London. 
The business which had been responsible for 
his journey constantly evaded completion, and 
after he had been gone about a month a letter 
came, in which he mentioned incidentally that 
he had contracted a touch of influenza. After 



this letter a fortnight went by without her hear- 
ing from him, and, rendered anxious at last, she 
wrote to inquire if his silence was attributable 
to his indisposition — if the latter was of a 
serious nature. 

Her mind did not instantaneously grasp the 
significance of the telegram that she tore open 
a few hours later. It ran : 

" My nephew dangerously ill. If you desire 
to see him, better come. — Porteous." 

She stood gazing at it Who had tele- 
graphed? Who Then she understood 

that it was Lucas who was meant Lucas was 
" dangerously ill " ! She must go to him. She 
must go at once ! She was so staggered by 
the suddenness of the intelligence that she was 
momentarily incapable of recollecting when the 
trains left, or how she should act in order to 
ascertain. All she realized was that this was 
Paris, and Lucas lay " dangerously ill " in Lon- 
don, and that she had to reach him. Her head 
swam, and the little French she knew seemed 
to desert her ; the undertaking looked enormous 
— beset with difficulties that were almost insu- 



The stupidity of the bonne, for whom she 
pealed the bell, served to sharpen her faculties 
a trifle, but she made her preparations, as if in 
a dr^am. When she found herself in the train, 
it appeared to her unreal that she could be there. 
The interval had left no salient impressions on 
her brain, nothing but a confused sense of delay. 
It was only now that she felt able to reflect. 

The telegram was crumplied in her pocket, 

and she took it out and re-read it agitatedly. 

How did this relative come to be at the hotel ? 

Lucas had scarcely spoken of his relations. " If 

you desire to see him " ! The import of those 

words was frightful — he could not be expected 

to recover ! Her stupefaction rolled away, and 

was succeeded by a fever of suspense. The 

restriction of the compartment was maddening, 

and she looked at her watch a dozen times, only 

to find that not ten minutes had passed since 

she consulted it last. 

It seemed to her that she had been travelling 

for at least two days, when she stood outside 

a bedroom door in a little hotel off* Bond Street, 

and tapped at the panels with her heart in her 




The door was opened by a woman whose^ 
dress proclaimed her to be an institution nurse. 
Field slept, and Mamie sank into a chair, and 
waited for his wakening. 

" How is he ? " she asked in a low tone. 

The nurse shook her head. 

" He's not doing as well as we could wish, 

" Is Mr. Porteous here ? " 

" Mrs. Porteous ! She'll be coming presently. 
She lives close by." 

So it was a woman who had telegraphed ! 
Somehow she had assumed unquestioningly that 

it was a man. "If you desire to see him " 

Ah, yes, she might have known it ! An aunt, 
who would be frigid and contemptuous, of course. 
Well, she deserved that, she would have no 
right to complain ; nor was it to be expected 
that Lucas's family should show her much con- 
sideration, though she could not perceive that 
she had done them any injury. 

It was two hours before her interview with 
the lady took place. Mamie was in the room 
she had engaged in the meanwhile, and had 
bathed her face, and was making ready to re- 



turn to the sick-chamber when she was told 
that Mrs. Porteous was inquiring for her. 

" Won't you come in ? " she asked. " Our 
voices will not disturb him here." 

Mrs. Porteous entered gingerly. She was a 
massive woman, of middle age, fashionably 
dressed. Her expression suggested no grief, 
only a vague fear of contamination. She had 
telegraphed to Paris because she felt that it 
was her duty to do so ; but she had not cabled 
until it was almost certain that the patient 
would not rally sufficiently to make a will. 

"You are — er — Mrs, Heriot?" she said, re- 
garding her curiously. "The doctor advised 
that Mr. Field's condition should be made 
known to you ; so I wired." 

" Thank you ; it was very kind." 

"The doctor advised it," said Mrs. Porteous 
again, significantly. 

" Is he — is there no hope ? " 

" We fear not ; my nephew is sinking fast — 
it's as well you should understand it. If you 

think it necessary to remain I see you 

have taken a room ? As — as * Mrs. Field,' I 
presume ? " 



" I should have been ' Mrs. Field,' if Lucas 


His aunt shivered. 

"There are things we need not discuss. Of 
course I am aware that you are living under 
my nephew's name. I was about to say that 
if you think it necessary to remain until the 
end, I have no opposition to offer ; but the 
end is very near now. My telegram must have 
prepared you? I should not have wired un- 
less " 

" I understood," answered Mamie ; " yes, I 
am glad that your nephew had a relative near 
him, though your name was quite unfamiliar to 
me. He never mentioned it." 

" Really ! Lucas called to see us at once. 
Our house is in the neighbourhood." 

" He wrote me," said Mamie, " that he had a 
touch of influenza. It seems extraordinary that 
influenza should prove so serious? He was 
strong, he was in good health " 

The other's air implied that she did not find 
it necessary to discuss this either. 

" People die of influenza or the results every 
year," she said. " The doctor will give you any 



information you may desire, no doubt. You 
must excuse me — I may be wanted." 

While Field lingered she never left his side 
after Mamie's arrival. Men committed prer 
posterous actions on their death-beds, and 
though it was not anticipated that he would 
recover consciousness, there was always the pos- 
sibility of such a thing happening. If an oppor- 
tunity occurred, his mistress would doubtless 
produce a solicitor and a provision for herself 
with the rapidity of a conjuring trick ; and, as 
it was, Mrs. Porteous had small misgivings but 
what he would die intestate. There might not 
be much, but what there was should at least 
not swell the coffers of guilty wives ! 

Events proved that her summons had not 
been precipitate, however. Field spoke at the 
last a few coherent words, and took Mamie's 
hand. But that was all. Then he never spoke 
any more. Even as she stood gazing at the 
inanimate form under the sheet, the swiftness 
of the catastrophe made it difficult for the girl 
to realize that all was over. The calamity had 
fallen on her like a thunderbolt — it seemed 
strange, inexplicable, untrue. The last time 



but one on which he had talked to her he 
had been full of vigour, packing a portmanteau, 
humming a tune, alluding to fees, some details 
of the theatre, the prospect of a smooth cross- 
ing. And now he was dead ! There had been 
little or no transition; he was well — ^he was 
dead ! The curtain had tumbled in the middle 
of the play — and it would never go up any 

It was not until after the funeral that she was 
capable of meditating upon the change in her 
life that was wrought by Lucas Field's death. 
She did not aslc herself whether he had left her 
anything or not. The idea that he might have 
done so never occurred to her, nor would she 
have felt that she could accept his bequest, if 
he had made one. She perceived that she had 
nobody to turn to but her father, and to him 
she cabled. 

Cheriton replied by two questions : What was 
Field's will? and would she like to return to 
Duluth? To the latter she gave a definite 
answer. " Impossible ; pray don't ask me." 
And then there was an interval of correspond- 



While Mrs. Porteous was delighted to find 
her confidence justified, and that her nephew 
had died intestate, Mamie was face to face with 
the alternative of swallowing her repugnance to 
going back to America, or of living with Mrs. 
Baines. Cheriton had written to them both, and 
on one course or the other being adopted he 
was insistent. Mamie need not live in Lavender 
Street unless she chose; Mrs. Baines might 
make her home in another neighbourhood where 
they would be strangers. But that the girl 
should remain in England alone was out of 
the question. Which line of conduct did she 
prefer ? 

. She could not immediately decide. Both 
proposals distressed her. On the whole, per- 
haps, the lesser evil was to resign herself to her 
Aunt Lydia if, as her father declared, her aunt 
was willing to receive her, Mrs. Baines, at any 
rate, was but one, while in Duluth half the popu- 
lation, and more than that, would be acquainted 
with her story. 

But was her Aunt Lydia willing ? Was she 
expected to write to her, and inquire? She 
was not entitled to possess dignity, of course ; 



but it was not easy to eat dust because the right 
to self-respect was forfeited. 

She had removed to a lodging in Bernard 
Street, Bloomsbury, and in the fusty sitting- 
room she sat all day, lonely and miserable, 
reviewing the blunder of her life. She neither 
wrote nor read— her writing was an idea she 
hated now ; she merely thought ; wishing she 
could recall the past, wondering how she could 
bear the future. One afternoon when she sat 
there, pale and heavy-eyed, the maid-of-all-work 
announced a visitor, and Mrs. Baines came in. 

Mamie rose nervously, and the other ad- 
vanced. She had rehearsed an interview which 
should be a compromise between the instruc- 
tions laid upon her by her brother, and the 
attitude of righteous rebuke that she had felt 
to be a permissible luxury, but the forlornness 
of the figure before her drove her opening sen- 
tence from her head. All she could say was 
the girl's name ; and then there was a pause in 
which they looked at each other. 

" It is kind of you to come," Mamie mur- 

" I hope you are well ? " said Mrs. Baines. 



" Not very. I Won't you sit down ? " 

"I never thought I should see you like 
this, Mamie," said the widow half involuntarily, 
shaking her head. 

The girl made no answer in words. She 
caught her breath, and stood passive. If the 
lash fell she would suffer silently. 

" Sin always brings its own punishment, 
though " — she believed it always did ; she had 
such startling optimisms — "it*s not for me to 
reproach you." 

"Thank you! I am not too happy, Aunt 

" I daresay, my dear. I haven't come to 
make it worse for you." 

She scrutinized her again. She would have 
been horrified to hear the suggestion, but her 
niece's presence was not without a guilty fasci- 
nation, a pleasurable excitement, to her as she 
remembered that here was one who had broken 
the Seventh Commandment. She was sitting 
opposite a girl who had lived in Paris with a 
lover ; and she was sitting opposite her under 
circumstances which redounded to her own 
credit ! 



"I have heard from your father," she went 
on ; "I suppose you know ? " 

" Yes," said Mamie ; " he has written me." 

" And do you wish to make your home with 
me again? I am quite ready to take you if 
you like." 

"I could never live in Lavender Street any 
more, Aunt Lydia. You must understand that 
— that it would be awful to me ! " 

" Your father hinted at my moving. It will 
be a great trouble, but I shan't shirk my 
duty, dear Mamie. If it will make your burden 
any easier to bear, we will live together some- 
where else. I say, if I can make your burden 
any easier for you, I will live somewhere else." 

"I am not ungrateful. I — ^yes, if you will 
have me, I should like to come to you." 

Mrs. Baines sighed, and smoothed her skirt 

" To Balham ? " she inquired. 

" You are moving to Balham ? " 

" I was thinking about it. I was over, there 
the other day to get some stuff for a bodice. 
It's nice and healthy, with the Commons and 
what not, and the shopping is cheap." 



" It is all the same to me where we go," said 
Mamie, ** so long as the people don't know me." 

"I hear you were living with — ^with him in 
Paris? Operas, and drives, and all manner of 
things to soothe your conscience he gave you, 
I've no doubt?" said Mrs. Baines, in an awe- 
struck invitation to communicativeness. " After 
that terrible life in Paris, Balham will seem 
quiet to you, I daresay ; but perhaps you won't 
mind that ? " 

"No place can be too quiet for me. The 
quieter it is, the better I shall like it." 

" That's as it should be ! Though, I suppose, 
with * him,' you were out among gaieties every 
night ? " She waited for a few particulars again. 
As none were forthcoming : " Then I'll try to 
let the house, and we'll go over together and 
look at some in Balham as soon as you like, 
my dear," she continued. "Your father will 
see that I'm not put to any expense. In the 
meantime you'll stay where you are, eh ? You 
know — ^j'ou know I saw Mr. Heriot after you'd 
gone, don't you ? " 

" No," stammered the girl, lifting eager eyes. 
" You went to him ? " 

145 L 


" The very next day, my dear, so it seemed ! 
I thought rd drop in and have a cup of tea 
with you, not having seen you for so long ; and 
through missing a train, and having such a time 
to wait at the station, I was an hour and more 
late when I got to Kensington. He was at 
home. Of course I had no suspicion there was 
anything wrong ; I shall never forget it — never t 
You might have knocked me down with a 
feather, as the saying is, when I heard you*d 
gone ! " 

"What," muttered Mamie, "what did he 
say ? " 

"It was like this. I said to him, * Dear 
Mamie's away, the servant tells me?' For 
naturally I thought you were visiting friends. 

* As likely as not, she's with his family,' I said to 
myself. * Oh, yes,' he said, * you must prepare 
yourself for a shock, Mrs. Baines — my wife has 
left me.' *Left you?' I said ^ Yes,' said he, 
so cool that it turned me a mask of blood to 
hear him, * she's gone away with a lover.' * Mr. 
Heriot!' I exclaimed — I was almost pinching 
myself to see if I was awake — * Mister Heriot ! ' 

* She left a note,' he said, * so it's all right ! Do 



you think we need talk about it much ? I don't 
know that a worthless woman is any loss/ he 

" He said that ? "^ 

" Those were his very words, my dear. But 
how cool 1 can't give you an idea ! I stared 
at him» Fd no mind to make excuses for you, 
Gawd knows ; but, for all that, one's own flesh 
and blood wasn't going to be talked about like 
niggers, or what not, in my hearing. When I 
got my wits together, I said, * It seems to me 
I'd be sorrier for you, Mr. Heriot, if you took 
it different' * Oh,' said he in a superior way, 
* would you ? We needn't discuss my feelings, 
madam. Perhaps you'll stay and dine ? ' I was 
so angry that I couldn't be civil to him. * I 
thank you,* I said, * I will not stay and dine. 
And I take the opportunity, Mr. Heriot, of 
telling you you're a brute ! ' With that I came 
away ; but there was much more in between 
that I've forgotten^about the divorce it was! 
He said he had * a duty to himself,' and that the 
man could marry you when you were divorced ; 
which I suppose he would have done if he had 
lived ? though whether your sin would have been 



any less, my dear, if an archbishop had per- 
formed the ceremony is a question that I couldn't 
undertake to decide. You must begin your 
life afresh, now that it's all * absolute,' — which I 
learn is the proper term, — and you'll never be 
in a newspaper any more ! Pray to Heaven for 
aid, and take heart of grace ! And if it will 
relieve you to speak sometimes of those sinful 
months with — with the other one in Paris, why, 
you shall talk about them to me, my dear, and 
I won't reproach you." 

Mamie was no longer listening. An emotion 
that she did not seek to define was roused in 
her as she wondered if Heriot could indeed have 
taken the blow so stoically as her aunt declared. 
She scarcely knew whether she wished to put 
faith in his demeanour or not, but the subject 
was one that filled her thoughts long after Mrs. 
Baines* departure. It was one to which she 
constantly recurred, too. 

With less delay than might have been antici- 
pated, the widow found a house in Balham 
which fulfilled her requirements, and the re- 
moval was effected several months before No. 
20, Lavender Street, was sub-let 



The houses of this class difTer from one 
another but slightly^ Excepting that the one in 
Balham was numbered " 44," and that the street 
was called " Rosalie Road," Mamie could have 
found it easy to believe that she was re-installed 
in Wandsworth. Such villas are, for the most 
part, the crown of lives too limited to realize 
their limitations — too unsuccessful to be aware 
that they have failed. The residents' strongest 
characteristic is a scorn of the gentlepeople who 
live in lodgings. " Lodgings " are mentioned 
here with the same horror which, in a still lower 
grade, is inspired by the name of the workhouse. 
In Rosalie Road they have " a house to them- 
selves"! Banners of victory, the "washing" 
swirls till nightfall on their own clothes-props ; 
each morning the odour of bacon floats into 
their own back-yard ! In such regions breakfast 
means bacon every day of the week — bacon 
all the year round. Children are born, and 
develop into clerks, and beget more clerks, 
and are buried, never having known any other. 
" Breakfast " is a synonym for " bacon " here. 
Beyond bacon and tea, a lump of meat, and the 
boiled potatp, the culinary imagination does not 



soar; nor could the slatternly "servant-girls," 
to whom such mistresses are slaves, rise to any 
farther height if required. The latter have at- 
tained, however — ^Mecca of the middle-classes ! 
— " a house to themselves " ; and the burden of 
the dreadful little domiciles bowing their weary 
backs, they view the comparative refinement of 
furnished apartments with contempt ; forced to 
submit to the vagaries of a dilatory drab, if they 
would not be left without a servant at all, they 
boast of their own " independence " ! 

To Rosalie Road, Balham, with her Aunt 
Lydia for companion, the divorcee at the age 
of twenty-six retired to remember that she had 
once hoped to be an artist, and had had the 
opportunity of being a happy woman. 

To-day she hoped for nothing. There was 
no scope for hope. If she could have awakened 
to iind herself famous, her existence would have 
been coloured a little, — though she knew that 
fame could never satisfy her now as it would 
once have done, — but the ability to labour for 
distinction was quite gone. She was apathetic, 
she had no interest in anything. When six 
months had passed, she regarded death as the 



only event to which she could still look forward ; 
when she had been here a year, a glimmer of 
relief entered into her depression — the doctor 
who had attended her, and sounded her lungs, 
told her that she " must take care of herself." 

Sometimes a neighbour looked in, and spoke 
of the dilapidations of a kitchen range, and the 
indifference of the landlord, the reductions at a 
High Road linen draper's, and the whooping- 
cough. Sometimes a curate called to sell tickets 
for a concert more elementary than his sermons. 
In the afternoon she walked to Tooting Bee, 
and stared at the bushes ; in the evening she 
betook herself to the " circulating library," where 
the most recent additions were Lady AucUe^s 
Secret and The Wide, Wide World, and the 
proprietor said he hadn't heard of Meredith ; 
"perhaps she had made a mistake in the name?" 
God help her! She was guilty, and she had 
left a husband desolate ; but the music she had 
dreamed of was the opera on " Wagner nights," 
when the box would have been full of men and 
women who also wore their bays ; the books she 
had expected had been "presentation copies," 
containing signatures which were the envy of 



the autograph-collector ; the circle that had been 
her aim was the world of Literature and Art 
She lived in Balham ; she saw the curate, and 
she heard about the range in the neighbour's 
kitchen. One year merged into another ; and if 
she lived for forty more, the neighbour and the 
curate would be her All. 



When five had passed after the divorce, the 
Liberal Party came into power again, and 
George Heriot, Q.C., M.P., was appointed 
Solicitor-General. His work and ambitions had 
not sufficed to mend the gap which his wife had 
left in his life; but it had been in work and* 
ambition that he endeavoured to find assuage- 
ment of the wound. Perhaps eagerness had 
never been so keen in him after she went as 
while he was contesting the borough that he 
represented ; perhaps he had never realized the 
inadequacy of success so fully as he did to-day 
when one of the richest prizes of his profession 
was obtained. Conscious that the anticipated 
flavour was lacking, the steps to which he might 
look forward still lost much of their allurement. 



Were he promoted to the post of Attorney- 
General, and raised to the Bench, he could 
foresee that the gratification would be no more 
keen than he experienced now, when as Sir 
George Heriot, and a very wealthy man, he 
recalled the period in which, a struggling Junior, 
he had sat up half the night to earn a guinea. 

The five years had left their mark upon him ; 
the hours of misery which no one suspected had 
left their mark upon him. The lines about the 
eyes and mouth had deepened ; his hair was 
greyer, his figure less erect. Men who, in their 
turn, sat up half the night to earn a guinea, 
envied him, cited his career as an example of 
brilliant luck — ^the success of others is always 
" luck " — and, though they assumed that a fellow 
was " generally cut up a bit when his wife went 
wrong," found it difficult to conceive that Sir 
George had permitted domestic trouble to alloy 
his triumphs in 'any marked degree. Nobody 
imagined that there were still nights in which he 
suffered scarcely less acutely than on the one 
when he returned to discover that Mamie had 
gone — that there were evenings when his loneli- 
ness was almost unbearable to the dry, self- 



contained man — ^that moments came when he 
took from a drawer the likeness that had stood 
on his desk once, and yearned over it with 
despair. That was his secret ; pride forbade 
that he should share it with another. He con- 
temned himself that he did suffer still. A 
worthless woman should not be mourned. Out 
of his life should be out of his memory ; such 
weakness shamed him. 

In August, a week or so after the vacation 
commenced, he went to stay at Fairlawn. His 
object in going to Fairlawn was not wholly to 
see his brother, and still less was it to see his 
sister-in-law. He was solitary, he was wretched, 
and he was only forty-seven years of age. He 
had been questioning for some time whether the 
wisest thing he could do would not be to marry 
again ; he sought no resumption of rapture, but 
he wanted a home. An estimable wife, perhaps 
a son, would supply new interests ; and the 
vague question that had entered his mind had 
latterly been emphasized by his introduction to 
Miss Pierways, who, he was aware, was now the 
guest of Lady Heriot 

Miss Pierways was the daughter of a lady 



who had been the Hon. Mrs. Pierways, and who 
had been left in such straitened circumstances, 
that she was even debarred from accepting the 
suite in Hampton Court that had been offered 
to her at the period of her husband's death. 
The mother and the girl had retired to obscure 
lodgings; the only break in the monotony of 
the latter's existence being an occasional visit to 
some connections or friends, at whose places it 
was hoped she might form a desirable alliance. 
The most stringent economies had to be prac- 
tised in order to procure passable frocks for 
these visits, but the opportunities led to no 
result, though she had beauty. And then an 
extraordinary event occurred. When the girl 
was twenty-eight, the widow who for once had 
reluctantly accepted an invitation to accompany 
her, received an offer of marriage herself, and 
became the wife of an American who was known 
to be several times over a millionaire ! 

For one door that had been ajar to the 
daughter of the Hon. Mrs. Pierways, with 
nothing but her birth and her appearance to 
recommend her, a hundred flew open to the 
step-daughter of Henry Van Buren ; and it was 



shortly after the startling metamorphosis in the 
fortunes of the pair that Heriot had first met 

The possible dowry which Agnes Pierways 
would bring to her husband weighed with him 
very little, for he was in a position to disregard 
such considerations; but Miss Pierways* per- 
sonality appeared to him suggestive of all the 
qualifications that he sought in the lady he 
should marry. Without her manner being im- 
pulsive or girlish, she was sufficiently young to 
be attractive. She was handsome, and in a 
slightly statuesque fashion that bore the pro- 
mise of the serenity which he told himself was 
now his aim. Certainly if he did re-marry 
— and he was contemplating the step very 
seriously — it would be difficult to secure a 
partner who fulfilled his requirements more 
admirably than Miss Pierways. Whether he 
fulfilled hersy he could ascertain when he had 
fully made up his mind. It was with the 
intention of making up his mind in proximity 
to the lady that he had come to Fairlawn ; and 
one evening, when he was alone in the smoking- 
room with his brother, the latter blundered 



curiously enough on to the bulFs-eye of his 

" I wonder," said Sir Francis, " that youVe 
never thought of re-marrying, Greorge ? " 

"My experience of matrimpny was not for- 
tunate," answered Heriot, smoking slowly, but 
with inward perturbation. 

" Your experience of matrimony was a colos- 
sal folly. All things considered, the conse- 
quences might easily have been a good deal 

" I don't follow you." 

" Between ourselves, the end never seemed to 
me so regrettable as you think it." 

" My wife left me." 

" And you divorced her ! And you have no- 

" If I had had children," said Heriot mus- 
ingly, " it is a fact that the consequences would 
have been worse." 

^* But in any case," said the baronet, " it was 
a huge mistake. Really one may be frank 
under the circumstances. You married madly. 
The probability is that if your wife had been — 
if you were living together still, you would be a 



miserable man to-day. It was a very lament- 
able affair, of course, when it happened, but 
regarding it coolly — in looking back on it — 
don't you fancy that perhaps things are just as 
well as they are ? " 

" I was very fond of my wife," replied Heriot, 
engrossed by his cigar. 

" To an extent," said Sir Francis indulgently, 
" no doubt you had an affection for her. But, 
my dear fellow, what companionship had you ? 
Was she a companion ? " 
" I don't know," 

" Was she interested in your career ? Could 
she understand your ways of thought? Was 
she used to your world? One doesn't ask a 
great deal of women, but had you any single 
thing in common ? " 

" I don't know,"^ said Heriot again. 
Sir Francis shrugged his shoulders. 
" Take my word for it that, with such a girl 
as you married, your divorce was not an un- 
mixed evil. It wasn't the release one would 
have chosen, but at least it was better for you 
than being tied to her for life. Damn it, 
George ! what's the use of blinking the matter 



now? She was absolutely unsuited to you in 
every way ; you must admit it ! " 

" I suppose she was. At the same time I 
was happy with her." 

"How long would the infatuation have 
lasted ? " / 

" It lasted more than three years." 
" Would it have lasted another five ? " 
"• Speaking honestly, I believe it would." 
" Though you had nothing in common ! " 
" I don*t explain," said Heriot. " I tell you, 
I was happy with her, that's all ! Viewing it 
dispassionately, I suppose she was unsuited to 
me. I don't know that we did have anything 
in common ; I don't see any justification for the 
fool's paradise I lived in. But for all that, if 
I married again, I should never care for the 
woman as — as I cared for Aer. In fact, I should 

merely marry to " — he was about to say 

" to try to forget her " — " to make a home for 
myself," he said, instead. 

" Have you considered such a step ? " asked 
Sir Francis. 
" Sometimes, yes." 

" The best thing you could do — a very proper 

1 60 


thing for you to do. . , . Anybody in 


" It's rather premature " 

" YouVe not in chambers, old fellow ! " 

"What do you think of Miss Pierways?" 

inquired Heriot after a scarcely perceptible 

" A very excellent choice ! I should congratu- 
late you heartily. I had not noticed—— And 
Catherine is very acute in these matters " 

"There has been nothing to notice; prob- 
ably she would refuse m^ point-blank. But in 
the event of my determining to marry again, 
IVe wondered whether Miss Pierways wouldn't 
be the lady I proposed to." 

" I don't think you could do better." 

" Really ? You don't think I'm too old for 
her ? " 

" On my honour ! * Too old for her ? ' 
Not a bit, a very sensible marriage. I'm not 
surprised that you should be attracted by her." 

" * Attracted by her,' " said Heriot, " suggests 
rather more than the actual facts. I appreciate 
her qualities, but I can't say I'm sensible of any 
attachment I'm sorry that I'm not. I ap- 

l6i M 


preciate her so fully that I am anxious to be 
drawn towards her a little more. Tm some- 
what past the age for ardent devotion, but I 
couldn't take a wife as I might buy a horse. 
Of course, IVe not been very much in her 
society; er — down here, I daresay, when I 

come to know her better Have you 

met Van Buren?" 

" In town, before he sailed. He is in New 
York, you know. I like them all. We were 
very pleased to have the mother and the girl 
to stay with us. . . ; Well, make your hay 
while the sun shines." 

" It isn't shining," said Heriot ; " I'm just 
looking east, waiting for it to rise. But I'm 
glad to have talked to you ; as soon as the first 
gleam comes I think TU take your advice. I 
aught to marry, Francis ; I know you're right." 



The more he reflected the more he was con- 
vinced of it. In marriage lay his chance of 
contentment, and during the ensuing fortnight 
his approval of Miss Pierways deepened. The 
house would not fill until the following month, 
and the smallness of the party there at present 
was favourable to the development of acquaint- 

Excepting that she was a trifle cold, there 
was readily no scope for adverse criticism upon 
Miss Pierways. She was unusually well read, 
took an intelligent interest in matters on which 
women of her age were rarely informed, and 
was accomplished to the extent that she played 
the piano after dinner with brilliant execution 
and admirable hands and wrists. Her coldness, 
theoretically, was no drawback to him, and 



Heriot was a little puzzled by his own attitude. 
Her air was neither so formal as to intimate 
• that his advances would be unwelcome, nor so 
self-conscious as to repel him by the warmth of 
its encouragement ; yet, in spite of his admira- 
tion, the idea of proposing to her dismayed 
him when he forced himself to approach the 

His vacillation was especially irritating since 
he had learned that the ladies were on the point 
. of joining Mr. Van Buren in New York. The 
opportunity of which he was failing to take 
advantage would speedily be past, and he 
dreaded that if he suffered it to escape him, he 
would recall the circumstances with a certain 
regret. He perceived as well, however, that if 
he were precipitate, he might regret that too, 
and he was sorry that the pair were not remain- 
ing in Europe longer. 

One evening shortly before their departure, 
which was being discussed, the mother expressed 
surprise that he should never have been curious 
to visit a continent, to which she had never given 
a thought herself until she married an American , 
and in answer Heriot declared that he had 



frequently meditated taking a run across during 
the long vacation. 

"If you ever do," she said, " I hope you will 
choose a year when we are there." 

" To tell you the truth, I was thinking of it 
during the present one." 

" We may see you in New York, Sir George ? " 
said Miss Pierways. " Really ? How strange 
that will seem! IVe been anxious to go to 
New York all my life ; but now that I'm going, 
I feel a contradictory desire to stay at home. 
The idea of a large city across a lot of water, 
where I haven't any friends " 

" But you will have many friends, Agnes." 

" By-and-by," answered Miss Pierways. " Yes, 
I suppose so. But it's very fatiguing making 
friends, don't you think so? And I tremble 
when I contemplate the voyag6." 

" How delightful it would be," remarked Mrs. 
Van Buren, "if we were going by the same 
steamer. Sir George ! " 

Heriot laughed. 

" It would be very delightful to me to make 
the voyage in your company. But I might 
bore you frightfully* A week at sea must 



be a severe test I should be afraid of being 
found out" 

" We are promised other passengers," observed 
Miss Pierways, looking down with a faint smile. 
Her archness was a shade stiff, but her neck 
was one of her chief attractions. 

"Why don't you go, George?" said Lady 
Heriot cheerfully. " You'd much better go by 
Mrs. Van Buren's boat than any other; and 
you've been talking of making a trip to America 
• next year ' ever since I've known you ! " 

This amiable fiction was succeeded by fresh 
protestations on Mrs. Van Buren's part that no 
arrangement could be more charming, and 
Heriot, half against his will, half with pleasure, 
found himself agreeing to telegraph in the 
morning to inquire if he could obtain a berth. 

He hardly knew whether he was sorry or glad 
when he had done so. That the step would 
result in an engagement might be predicted 
with a tolerable degree of certainty, and he 
would have preferred to arrive at an under- 
standing with himself under conditions which 
savoured less of coercion. 

Since a state-room proved to be vacant, how- 



ever, he could do no less than engage it now ; 
and everybody appeared so pleased, and Miss 
Pierways was so gracious, that the anomalous 
misgivings which disturbed him looked momen- 
tarily more unreasonable than ever. 

The night before he sailed, in their customary 
colloquy over whisky and cigars. Sir Francis 
said to him : 

** * Ask, and it shall be given unto you * ! " 

" Tm inclined to think you're right," said his 
brother. " I suppose it will end in it ! . . . 
She's a trifle like a well-bred machine— doesn't 
it strike you so? — warranted never to get out 
of order ! " The other's look was sigjnificant, 
and Heriot added, "Very desirable in a wife, 
of course! Only somehow " 

" ' Only somehow - you're eccentric, George — 
you always were ! " 

" It's not my reputation," said Heriot drily ; 
" I believe that I'm esteemed particularly prac- 

" Reputations," retorted the baronet, attempt- 
ing an epigram, as he sometimes did in the 
course of the second whisky-and-potash, and 
failing signally in the endeavour, "are like 



tombstones — generally false ! " He realized the 
reality of tombstones, and became immediately 
controversial, to mask the defeat. " Fve known 
you from a boy, and I say you were always 
eccentric. It was nothing but your eccentricity 
that you had to thank tjefore ! Here's a nice 
girl, a girl who will certainly have a good settle- 
ment, a girl who's undeniably handsome, ready 
to say * yes ' at the asking, and you gramble — 
I'm hanged if you don't grumble ! — ^because you 
see she is to be depended on. What the devil 
do you want ? " 

" I want to be fond of her," answered Heriot 
" I admit all you've said of her ; I waat to like 
her more." 

"So you ought to; but what does it matter 
if you don't ? All women are alike to the men 
who've married them after a year or two. She'll 
make an admirable mother, and that's the main 
thing, I suppose ! " 

Was it? 

Heriot recalled the criticism during his first 
day on board. Neither of the ladies wis visible 
until Queenstown was reached, and le paced 
the deck pursuing his reflections by the aid of 



tobacco. She would "make an admirable 
mother, and that was the main thing"! Of 
the second half of the opinion he was not so 
sure. To marry a woman simply because one 
believed she would shine in a maternal capacity 
was somewhat too altruistic, he thought. How- 
ever, he was fully aware that Miss Pierways had 
other recommendations. 

She appeared with her mother at the head of 
the companion-way while he was wishing that 
he had not come, and he found their chairs for 
them, and arranged their rugs, and subsequently 
gave their letters to the steward to be posted. 

After leaving Queenstown, Mrs. Van Buren*s 
sufferings increased, and the girl, who, saving 
for a brief interval, was well and cheerful, was 
practically in his charge. It was Heriot who 
accompanied her from the saloon after break- 
fast, and strolled up and down with her till she 
was tired. When the chair and the rug — the 
salient features of a voyage are the chair, the 
rug, and the woman — were satisfactorily ar- 
ranged, it was he who sat beside her talking. 
Flying visits she made below, while her mother 
kept her cabin ; but she was on deck for the 



most part— or in the saloon, or in the reading- 
room — and for the most part Heriot was the 
person to whom she looked for conversation. 
If he had been a decade or two younger, he 
would probably have proposed to her long be- 
fore they sighted Sandy Hook, and it surprised 
him that he did not succumb to the situation 
as it was. A woman is nowhere so dangerous, 
and nowhere is a man so susceptible, as at sea. 
The interminable days demand flirtation, if one 
is not to perish of boredom ; and the environ- 
ment is conducive to the development of flirta- 
tion into the semblance of love. Moonlight 
and water are notoriously potent, even when 
only viewed for half an hour ; and at sea, the 
man and the girl look at the moonlight on the 
water together regularly every evening. And 
it is very becoming to the girl. Miss Pierways- 
face was always a disappointment to Heriot at 
breakfast The remembrance of its factitious 
softness the previous night made its hardness in 
the sunshine look harder. He wondered if it 
was the remembrance of its hardness at break- 
fast that kept him from proposing to her when 
they loitered in the moonlight He was cer- 



tainly doing his best to fall in love with her, 
and everything conspired to assist him ; but the 
days went on, and the momentous question 
remained unuttered. 

" We shall soon be there," she said one even- 
ing as they strolled about the deck after dinner. 
" I'm beginning to be eager. Have you noticed 
how everybody who passes is saying, 'New 
York* now? At first no one alluded to our 
arrival — we mightn't have been due for a year, 
by the way the subject was ignored — and since 
yesterday nobody is talking of anything else ! " 

"Nearly every one I've spoken to seems to 
have made the trip half a dozen times," said 
Heriot " I feel dreadfully untravelled in the 
smoking-room. When are you going to Niagara, 
Miss Pierways? That's a solemn duty to a 
foreigner, you know." 

" But it isn't to a native ! I was talking to 
some girls who have lived in New York all 
their lives — when they weren't in Europe — and 
haven't been there yet! They told me they 
had been to the panorama in Westminster ! " 

"*The average thinking man can't stand 
Europe for more than six months,' " Heriot re- 



marked. " I heard that this morning ! I fancy 
Americans are the most patriotic people in the 


world ; they are even angry with themselves 
for liking any country but their own ! " 
" Well, there is a great deal of it to like ! " 
"Yes, I wish I had time to see more. I 
should like to go west ; I should like to see 

" I wouldn't see California for any consider- 
ation upon earth!" Miss Pierways declared. 
" California, to me, is Bret Harte — I should be 
so afraid of being disillusioned. When we went 
to Ireland once, do you know. Sir George, it 
was a most painful shock to me ! My ideas of 
Ireland were based on Dion Boucicault's plays ; 
I expected to see all the peasants in fascinating 
costumes, with their hair down their backs, just 
as one sees them on the stage. The reality 
was terrible. I shudder when I recall the dis- 
appointment I suffered." 
" I can appreciate it." 
" Of course youVe laughing at me ? " 
" Disinterested sympathy is always doubted ! " 
" I shall have my revenge, if you don*t like 
New York," she said. " But, I don't know ! I 



shall feel guilty. You musn't blame us if you 
don't like New York, Sir George. Fortunately 
you won't have time to be very bored, though ; 
will you ? " 

" * Fortunately ' ? " 

" Fortunately if it doesn't amuse you, I mean. 
When does the — how do you say it? When 
does your holiday end ? " 

" I must be back in London on the twenty- 
fourth of next month. I am almost American 
myself, am I not ? I shall have such a fleeting 
glimpse of the country, that I must really think 
of writing a book about it" 

"You have something better to do than writ- 
ing vapid books ! To me your profession seems 
the most interesting one there is. If I were a 
man, I would rather be called to the Bar than 
anything. You would be astonished if you 
knew how many biographies of eminent lawyers 
I have read — they enthralled me as a child, I 
don't know any career that conveys such a 
sense of power to me as the Bar. Don't smile ; 
but sometimes when we are talking I look at 
you, remembering the vital issues that have 
been in your hands, and tremble." 




She lifted her eyes to him, deprecating the 
enthusiasm which was too palpably a pose, and 
again Heriot was conscious that the opportunity 
was with him, if he could but grasp it They 
had paused by the tafTrail, and he stood looking 
at her, trying to speak the words which would 
translate their relations to a definite footing. 
He no longer had any doubt as to her answer ; 
he could foresee her reply — at least the manner 
of her reply — with disturbing clearness. He 
knew that she would hesitate an instant, and 
droop her head, and ultimately murmur correct 
phrases which would exhilarate him not at all. 
In imagination he already heard her tones, as 
she promised to be his wife. He supposed, as 
they were screened from observation, that he 
might take her hand. How passionless, how 
mechanical and flat it would all be ! He re^ 
plied with a common-place, and after a few 
moments they continued their promenade. 
When he turned in, however, he reproached 
himself more forcibly than he had done yet, 
and his vacillation was by no means at an end. 
He. was not at war with his judgment, but 
with his instinct, and it was the perception of 



this fact which always increased his perturba- 

They landed the following day, and, after 
being introduced to Mr. Van Buren in the 
custom-house, Heriot drove to an hotel. The 
hotel was excellent, but the city did not appear 
to him the brilliant capital that he had under- 
stood it to be. He had vaguely pictured New 
York as a Paris, where everybody talked Eng- 
lish ; and the arid, ill-paved streets, the cease- 
less jangle of the surface-cars, and the ubiquitous 
rush and scream of the Elevated Railway, at 
once irritated and oppressed him. He did 
not wish to take the Van Burens' invitations 
too literally, and to a man or woman who has 
few acquaintances there. New York is a duller 
capital than most While rendering homage 
to the cuisine of the country, which, as a whole, 
is infinitely better than the cooking of France, 
and as superior to that of England as the 
worst American train is to our best, the place, 
as a place, disappointed him woefully. Broad- 
way, narrow and abominable, till it widened 
into the momentary brightness of Union Square, 
proved a shock in its painful dissimilarity to 



the Boulevard des Italiens, with which the few 
American novels into which he had dipped had 
led him to associate it; and Fifth Avenue, 
when he called on the Van Burens, had so 
little external resemblance to the description 
of a " street of palaces," that in the middle of 
the thoroughfare, he begged a pedestrian to tell 
him where it was. 

American hospitality, however, is the most 
charming in the world, and he spent several 
very agreeable hours inside the big brown- 
stone house. Nothing could have exceeded the 
geniality of Mr. Van Buren's manner, nor was 
this due solely to the position of his visitor, 
and a hope of their becoming connected. The 
average American business man will show more 
kindness to a complete stranger, who intrudes 
into his office, than most Englishmen display 
to one who comes to them with the warmest 
letter of introduction from a bosom-friend, and 
Van Buren's welcome was as sincere as it was 

Heriot stayed in New York a week, and then 
fulfilled his desire of visiting Niagara. On 
his return he called at Fifth Avenue again. 



He was already beginning to refer to his home- 
ward voyage, and he was still undetermined 
whether he would propose to Miss Pierways or 
not The days slipped by without his arriving 
at a conclusion ; and then one morning he told 
himself he had gone too far to retreat now, 
and that the step, which was doubtless the 
most judicious he could take, should be made 
without delay. 

He called at the house the same afternoon — 
for on the next day but one the Etruria sailed 
— and he found the ladies at home. He sat 
down, wondering if he would be left alone with 
Miss Pierways, and take his departure engaged 
to her ; but for half an hour there seemed no 
likelihood of a t6te-ct-t6te. Presently some cards 
were brought in, and the visitors were shown 
into another room. Mrs. Van Buren begged 
him to excuse her. He rose to leave, but was 
pressed to remain. 

" I want to talk to you when they Ve gone," 
she said ; " I haven't half exhausted my list of 
messages for you to take to London." ' 

Heriot resumed his seat, and Miss Pierways 

177 N 




" Poor mamma wishes she were going herself, , 
if the truth is told ! Now that we're here, it 
is I who like New York the better." 

"We soon become creatures of custom," he 
said; "your mother has lived in London too 
long to accustom herself to America very easily. 
Of course you'll be returning next season ? " 

" Oh, yes. Shall you ever come to Aj 
again, Sir George ? " 

" I — I hardly know," he answered. " i 
tainly hope to." 

" Oh, then, you will ! You are your own 

"Is anybody ever his own master? " 

"To the extent of travelling to America, 
many people, I should think ! " 

He remembered with sudden gratification that 
he had never said a word to her that he might 
not have spoken before a crowd of listeners. 
What was there to prevent him withholding the 
proposal if he liked ! 

" I've no doubt I shall come," he said ab- 

She looked slightly downcast This was not 
the reply that she hoped to hear, 





" I shall always owe a debt of gratitude to you 

and to Mr. and Mrs. Van Buren for making my 

visit so pleasant to me," he found himself saying 

next. " My trip has been a delightful experience." 

She murmured a conventional response, but 

chagrin began to creep about her heart 

L Heriot diverged into allusions which advanced 

^^position not at all. They spoke of New 

JBHPUBK^^S^^^d) o^ ^h^ voyage— she per* 

#and he with ever-increasing relief. 
j^hQ felt that he had been on the verge 
of tri^precipice for the last time. He had es- 
caped — and by the intensity of his gratitude he 
realized how ill-judged had been his action in 
playing around it. 

When Mrs. Van Buren re-appeared, followed 
by her husband, her daughter's face told her 
that the crisis had not been reached ; and bold 
in thanksgiving, Heriot excused himself when 
he was asked to dine with them that evening. 
Had the invitation been transferred to the next, 
• he 'could not without rudeness have found a 
pretext for refusing ; but on the next night, as 
luck would have it, the Van Burens were dining 
out themselves. 



•. • • *■• r 


When the footmein opened the big door he 
descended the steps with a sensation that was 
foreign to him, and not wholly agreeable. He 
knew he did not want to marry Miss Pierways, 
and that he had behaved like a fool in trying 
to acquire the desire, but he was a little ashamed 
of himself. His conduct had not been irreproach- 
able ; and he was conscious that when the steamer 
sailed,-and the chapter was closed for good and 
all, he would be glad to have done with it. He 
had blundered badly. Nevertheless he would 
have blundered worse, and been a still greater 
fool, if the affair had terminated in an engage- 
ment Of course his brother would say distaste- 
ful things when they met, and Lady Heriot 
would convey her extreme disapproval of him 
without saying anything. That he must put 
up with. Of two evils, he had at any rate 
chosen the lesser ! 

He repeated the assurance with still more 
conviction on Saturday morning during the 
quarter of an hour in which the cab rattled him 
over the villainous roads to the boat. The ex- 
perience had been a lesson to him, and hence- 
forward he was resolved that he would dismiss 



the idea of marriage from his mind^ He saw his 
portmanteau deposited in his cabin, and returned 
to the deck as the steamer commenced to move, 
The decks were in the confusion that always 
reigns during the first hour on board. Pas- 
sengers still hung at the taffrail, taking a fare- 
well gaze at friends upon the landing-stage. 
The chairs were huddled in a heap, and stewards 
bustled about among the piles of luggage, im- 
portuned at every second step with instructions 
and inquiries. . 

The deep pulsations appeared to grow more 
regular ; the long line of sheds that had been 
left, receded ; and the figures of the friends 
were as little dark toys, waving specks of white. 
Even the most constant among the departing 
began to turn away now. The hastening 
stewards were importuned more frequently than 
before. Everybody was in a hurry, and all the 
women in the crowd that flocked below seemed 
uttering the words, "baggage" and " state-room," 
at the same time, 

A few men were temporarily in possession of 
the deck, striding to and fro behind pipes or 
cigars. The regulation as to "No smoking abaft 




this " was not yet in force, or, at least, was at 
present disobeyed. Heriot sauntered along the 
length of promenade until it began to fill again. 
The mountain of chairs received attention — 
they were set out in a row under the awning. 
The deck took a dryness and a whiteness, and a 
few people sat dbwn, and questioned inwardly 
if they would find one another companionable. 
He bent his steps to the smoking-room, but it 
was empty and uninviting thus early, and he 
forsook it after a few minutes. As the door 
slammed behind him, he came face to face with 
the woman who had been his wife ! 



rf . 



She approached — their gaze met — he had 
bowed, and passed her. Perhaps it had lasted 
a second, the mental convulsion in which he 
looked in her eyes ; he did not know. He found 
a seat and sank into it, staring at the sky and 
sea, acutely conscious of nothing Ijut her near- 
ness. He could not tell whether it was despair 
or rejoicing that beat in him ; he knew nothing 
hut that the world had swayed, that life was in 
an instant palpitating and vivid — that he had 
seen her! 

Then he knew that in the intensity of emotion 
that shook him body and brain, there was a 
thrill of joy, inexplicable but insistent. But 
when he rose at last, he dreaded that he might 
see her again. 

He did not see her till evening, when he drew 


■' . "^f-. •"' *ii«4iyjra'/Tiii 



back at the door of the saloon as she came out. 
His features were imperturbable now, and be- 
trayed nothing, though her own, before her head 
drooped, were piteous in appeal. 

Heriot noted that she looked pale and ill, and 
that she wore a black dress with crape on it. 
He wondered whether she had lost her father or 
her aunt. Next morning he understood that it 
must be her father, for he saw her sitting inertly 
beside Mrs. Baines against the bulwark. So 
Dick Cheriton was dead ! He had once been 
fond of Dick Cheriton. The stranger in the 
black frock had once slept in his arms, and borne 
his name! . • . The sadness of a lifetime 
weighed on his soul. 

He perceived that she shunned him by every 
means in her power. But they were bound to 
meet ; and then the same look would flash across 
her face that he had seen at the foot of the 
companion-way ; its supplication and abasement \ 
wrung him. They were bound to meet ! Horrible 
as the continual encounters grew, in the reading- 
room, on deck, or below, their lines crossed a 
dozen times between breakfast and eleven o'clock 
at night. The unavoidableness of these meetings 




became as torturous to Heriot as to her. He 
felt as if he had struck her as he saw her whiten 
and shrink when he passed her by. He hated 
himself soon for being here to cause her this in- 
tolerable pain. 

It was on the evening of the third day that 
her endurance broke down, and she made he» 
petition. He recognised the voice of her mes- 
senger with a pang before he turned. 

<' Mrs. Baines ! " 

** You're surprised I should address you, Mn 
Heriot/* she said.. "I shouldn't have, but sht 
wants me to beg you to — to speak to her, if it's 
only for five minutes. She implores you humbly 
to let her speak to you ! She made me ask 
you ; I couldn't say * no.' *" 

His pulses throbbed madly, and momentarily 
he could not reply. 

"What purpose would it serve?" he said in 
tones he struggled to make firm. 

" She can't bear it, Mr. Heriot — Sir Heriot, I 
should say ; I was forgetting, I'm sure I beg 
your pardon ! She * implores you humbly to 
let her speak to you ' ; I was to use those words. 
Won't you consent ? She is ill, she's dying," 



** Dying?" whispered Heriot by a physical 

She nodded slowly. "The doctor has told 
her ! She won't be here long, poor girl ! But 
whether she's to be pitied for it or not, it's 
hard to say ; I don't think she'll be sorry to go. 
» . • My brother is gone, Sir Heriot." 

His answer was inarticulate. 

" We got there just at the end. If we had 
been too late, she— She has been ailing a 
long while, but we didn't know it was so 
serious. When she saw you, it was awful for 

her. I Oh, what am I to tell her? — ^she's 

waiting now ! " 

" Where ? " said Heriot hoarsely. 

" Will you come with me ? " 

" Show me," he said ; " show me where she 

He still heard the knell of it—" Dying ! " It 
tolled in his being. He heard it as the lonely 
figure in the darkness rose : — 

" Thank you, I am grateful." 

The familiar voice knocked at his heart. 

" Mrs. Baines has told me you are ill. I am 
grieved to learn how ill you are ! " 






^ \ 


" It doesn't matter. It was good of you to 
come ; I thought you would. I — I have prayed 
to speak to you again ! " 

** It was not much to ask," he said ; " I — ^am 

He could see she trembled painfully. He 
indicated the chair she had left, and drew one 
closer for himself. Then for some minutes there 
was silence. 

*' Do you hate me ? " she said. 

He shook his head. " Should I have come to 
tell you so ? " 

^* But you can never forgive ? " 

" Why distress yourself? If for a moment 
I hesitated to come, it was because I knew it 
would be distressing for you. Perhaps a refusal 
would have been kinder after all." 

" No, no ; I was sure you wouldn't refuse. 
She doubted ; but I was sure ! I said you 
would come when you heard about me." 

" Is it so serious ? What is it ? Tell me ; I 
know nothing." 

" It's my lungs ; they were never very strong, 
you remember. The doctor told me in Duluth : 
* Perhaps a year,' if I am • very careful.' I am 






.V? -'^" I' 


not very careful — it will soon be all over. Don't 
look like that. Why should you care ? / don't 

care — I don't want to live a bit Only Do 

you think, if — if there's anything afterwards, 
that a woman who's gone wrong like me will 
be punished ? " 

"For God's sake," he said, "don't talk 

" But do you ? It makes one think of these 
things when one knows one has only a very 
little time to live. You can't forgive me — ^you 
said so." 

" I do," he said ; " I forgive you freely. If I 
could give my life to undo your wretchedness, 
I'd give it you. You don't know how I loved 
you ; what it meant to me to find you gone ! 
Ah, Mamie, how could you do it ? " 

The tears stood in her eyes, as she lifted her 
white face to him in the obscurity. 

" I am ashamed, ashamed ! " she moaned. 
" What can I say ? '*^ 

" Why ? " said Heriot, at the end of a tense 
pause ; " why ?" Did you care for him so 
much? If he had lived, and married you, 
would you be happy now?" 



* Happy ! " she -echoed, with something be- 
tween a laugh and a sob. 

"Tell me! I hoped you would be happy^ 
That's true ! I never wanted you to suffer for 
what you'd done. / suffered enough for both." 

" I. don't think I should have married him. I 
don't know. I don't think so. I knew I'd made 
a mistake before — oh, in the first month. Uj^ou 
haven't hated me, I have hated myself," 

" And sincje ? You have been with /ler? " 

" Ever since. My poor father wanted me to 
go home. I wish I had ! You know I've lost 
him — she told you that? He wanted me to 
go home, but I couldn't — where everybody 
knew ! You understand ? And then she 
moved to Balham, and we never left it until 
two months ago, when the cable came. We 
were in time to see him die. My poor father ! " 

He touched her hand, and her fingers closed 
xound his own convulsively. 

"You oughtn't to be up here at night," he 
said huskily, looking at her with blinded eyes. 
^* Didn't the man tell yoa that the night air was 
•bad ? And that flimsy wrap— it's no use so ! 
Draw it across your mouth." 


■■€• . *,-,/ 


" What's the difference ?— there, then ! Shall 
you — will you speak to me again after this even- 
ing, or is this the last talk we shall have? I 
had so much to say to you, but I don't seem 
able to find it now you're here. If you believe 
that I ask your pardon on my knees, I suppose, 
after all, that that is everything ! If ever a man 
deserved a good wife, it was you; I realize it 
more clearly than I did while we were together 
— though I think I knew it then. » » » You 
never married again ? " 

" No," he answered ; " no, I haven't married." 
" But you will, perhaps ? Why haven't you ? " 
" I'm too old, and — I cared too much for 

The tears were running down her face now ; 
she loosed his hand to wipe them away. 

"Don't say I've ruined your life!" she pleaded; 
" don't say that ! My own — ^yes ; my own — 
it served me right ! but I've tried so hard to 
believe thsXyou had got over it When I read 
of your election, and then that you were made 
Solicitor-General, I was glad, ever so glad ! 
I thought, * He is successful ; he has his career 
— ^his career/ I've always wanted to believe 



that your work was enough— that you had 
forgotten ! It wasn't so ? " . . , 

" No," he replied, " it wasn't so. I did my 
best to forget you, but I couldn't" 

"Aunt Lydia said you weren't cut up at all 
when she saw you. You deceived her very well. 
• A worthless woman,^ you called me ; I * was 
not any loss ' ! It was quite true ; but I knew 
you couldn't feel like that — not so soon. * Worth- 
less * ! I've heard it every day since she told 
me! . '• . I meant to do my duty when I 
married you, George ; if I could have foreseen 

" She broke off, coughing. " If I could 

have foreseen what the end would be, I'd have 
killed myself rather than become your wife. I 
was always grateful to you ; you were always 
good to me — and I only brought you shame l" 

" Not ' only,' " he said ; " you gave me happi- 
ness first, Mamie — the greatest happiness I've 
known ! I loved you, and you came to me. 
You never understood how much I did love 
you — I think that was the trouble." 

^* 'There's a word that says it all : I worship 
you ! ' Do you remember saying that ? You 
said it in the train when you first proposed to 







. -^ r 


me. I refused you then — why did I ever give 
way ! • « « How different everything would 

be now ! You * worshipped ' me, and I " 

Her voice trailed off, and once more only the 
pounding of the engine broke the stillness on the 
f deck. The ocean swelled darkly under a star- 

less sky, and Heriot sat beside her staring into 
space. In the steerage some one commenced 
to play " Robin Adair " on a fiddle. A drizzle 
began to fall, to blow in upon them. Heriot 

became conscious of it with a start 

» • « 

" You must go belowj" he said ; " it is rain- 

She rose obediently, shivering a little, and 
drawing the white shawl more closely about her 

" Good-night ! " she said, standing there with 
wide eyes. 

He put out his hand, and her clasp ran 
through his blood agaii). 

"Good-night!" he repeated gently. "Sleep 

Was it real? Was he awake? He looked 
after her as she turned away — looked long after 
she had disappeared. The fiddle in the steerage 




was still scraping "Robin Adair"; the black 
stretch of deck was desolate. A violent impulse 
seized him to overtake her, to snatch her back, 
to hold her in his arms for once, with words 
and caresses of consolation. " Dying ! " He 
wondered if Davos, Algiers, the Cape, anything 
and everything procurable by money, could pro- 
long her life. Then he recollected that she had 
said she did not wish to live. But that was 
horrible! She should consult an eminent man 
in town, and follow his advice ; he would make 
her promise it With the gradual defervescence 
of his mood, he wondered if she was properly 
provided for, and resolved to question Mrs* 
Baines on the point He would elicit the in- 
formation he sought the following day, and 
something could be arranged if necessary — if 
not with Mamie's knowledge, then without it. 
The morning was bright, and Mamie was in 
her chair when he came up from the saloon after 
breakfast As he approached, she watched him 
expectantly, and it was impossible to pass with- 
out a greeting. It was impossible, when the 
greeting had been exchanged, not to remain 
with her for a few minutes. 

193 o 



" How are you feeling ? " he asked ; " any 
better ? " 

" I never feel very bad ; I am just the same 
to-day as yesterday, thank you." The "thank 
you " was something more than a formula, and 
he felt It It hurt him to hear the gratitude in 
her tone, natural as it might be. 

" I want you to go to a good physician when 
you arrive," he said ; " say to Drummond ; and 
to do just as he tells you. You must do that ; 
it is a duty you owe yourself." 

She shrugged her shoulders. "What for? 
That I may last two years, perhaps, instead of 
one ? It is kind of you to care, but I'm quite 
satisfied as things are. Don't bother about 

" You will have to go ! " he insisted; " Before 
we land I shall speak to your aunt about 

He had paused by her seat with the intention 
of resuming his promenade as soon as civility 
permitted, but her presence was subversive of 
the intention. He sat down beside her as he 
had done the previous evening ; but it was in- 
evitable that they should now speak of other 



subjects than infidelity and death. The sky 
was blue, and the white deck glistened in the 
sunshine. The sea before them tumbled cheer- 
fully, and to right and left were groups of 
passengers laughing, flirting, doing fancy-work, 
or reading novels. 

" You haven't told me how it was you came to 
the States ? " she said presently ; " were you in 
New York all the time ? " 

Heriot did not answer, and she waited with 

" I will tell you, if you wish," he said hastily. 
" I came out half meaning to marry." 

" Oh ! " she said, as if he had struck her. 

" I thought I might be happier married," he 
went on. " The lady and her mother were going 
to New York, and I travelled with them. I — I 
was mistaken in myself." 

They were not looking at each other any 
longer, and her voice trembled a little as she 
replied : 

" You were not fond enough of her ? " 

" No," he said. " I shall never marry again ; 
I told you so last night" 

After a long pause, she said : 




" Was she pretty ? . . , Prettier than / 
used to be ? " 

" She was handsome, I think. Not like you 
at all. Why talk about it ? ^ . . I am glad 
I came, though, or I shouldn't have seen you. 
I shall always be glad to have seen you 
again ! Remember that, after we part For me, 
at least, it will never be so bitter since we've 
met and I've heard you say you're sorry." 

" God bless you ! " she murmured almost 

He left her after half an hour, but drifted 
towards her again in the afternoon. Insensibly 
they lost by degrees much of their constraint in 
talking together. She told him of her father's 
illness, of her own life in Balham ; Heriot gave 
her some details of his appointment, explaining 
that it was the duty of an Attorney and 
Solicitor-General to reply to questions of law in 
th^ House, to advise the Government, and con- 
duct its cases, and the rest of it. By Wednesday 
night it was difficult to him to realize that their 
first interview had occurred only forty-eight 
hours ago. It had become his habit to turn his 
steps towards her on deck, to sip tea by her side 



in the saloon, to saunter with her after dinner in 
the starlight. Even at last he felt no embarrass- 
ment as he moved towards her ; even at last she 
came to smile up at him as he drew near. 
Moments there could not fail to be when such 
a state of things seemed marvellous and un- 
natural — when conversation ceased, and they 
paused oppressed and tongue-tied by a con- 
sciousness of the anomaly of their relations. 
Nevertheless such moments were but hitches in 
an intercourse which grew daily more indis- 
pensable to them both. 

How indispensable it had become to herself 
the woman perceived as the end of the voyage 
approached ; and now she would have asked no 
better than for them to sail on until she died. 
When she undressed at night, she sighed, 
" Another day over " ; when she woke in the 
morning, eagerness quickened her pulses. On 
Saturday they would arrive ; and when Friday 
dawned, the abnormality of the reunion had 
less of strangeness than the reflection that she 
and Heriot would separate again directly. To 
think that, as a matter of course, they would 
say good-bye to each other, and resume their 




opposite sides of an impassable gulf, looked 
more unnatural to her than the renewed 

Their pauses were longer than usual on Friday 
evening. Both were remembering that it was 
the last Heriot had ascertained that Cheriton 
had been able to leave her but little ; and the 
notion of providing her with the means to 
winter in some favourable climate was hot in 
his mind. 

" It is understood," he said abruptly, " that 
you go to Drummond, and do exactly as he 
orders ? You will not be so mad as to refuse 
at the last moment ? " 

" All right ! " she answered apathetically, " I 
will go. Shall I — will you care to hear what 
he says ? " 

" Your aunt has promised to write to me. By 
the way, there's something I want to say to- 
night. If what he advises is expensive, you must 
let me make it possible for you. I claim that 
as my right. I intended arranging it with Mrs. 
Baines, but she tells me you — ^you would be 
bound to know where the money came from. 
He will probably tell you to live abroad." 



" Thank you ! " she said after a slight start ; " I 
could not take your money. It is very good 
of you, but I would rather you didn't speak of 
it. If you talked for ever, I wouldn't consent ! " 

" Mamie " 

"The very offer turns me cold. Please 
don't ! " 

" You are cruel," he said. " You are refusing 
to let me prolong your life. Have I deserved 
that from you ? " 

" Oh ! " she cried, in a tortured voice, " for 
God's sake, don't press me ! Leave me some- 
thing — I won't say * self-respect,' but a vestige, 
a grain of proper pride ! Think what my feel- 
ings would be living on money from you — 
it would not prolong my life, George ; it would 
kill me sooner ! You have been generous and 
merciful to me ; be merciful to me still, and 
talk of something else." 

"You are asking me to stand by and 
see you die. / have feelings, too ! Mamie, I 
can't do it ! " 

" I am dying," she said ; " if it happens a little 
sooner or a little later, does it matter very 
greatly ? If you want to be very kind to me, to 




— to brighten the time that remains as much as 
you can, tell me that if I send to you when — 
when it's a question of days, you will come to 
the place and see me again. I would bless you 
for that ! Fve been afraid to ask you till now ; 
but it would mean more to me than anything 
else you could do. Would you, if I sent ? " 

" Why," said Heriot labouredly, after another 
pause, " why would it mean so much ? " 

They were leaning over the taffrail ; and sud- 
denly her head was bent, and she broke into 
convulsive sobs that tore his breast. 

" Mamie ! " he exclaimed. " Mamie, tell me ! " 
He glanced around, and laid a trembling touch 
upon her hands. " Tell me, dear ! " he repeated 
hoarsely. " Do you love me, then ? " 

Her figure was shaken by the shuddering 
breaths. His touch upon her tightened to a 
clasp ; he drew the hands down from the dis- 
torted face, drew the shaken figure closer, till 
his own met it — till her bosom was heaving 
against his heart 

" Do you love me, Mamie ? " 

" Yes ! " she gasped. And then for an instant 
only their eyes spoke, and in the intensity of 



their eyes each gave to the other body and 

" I love you ! " she panted ; " it's my punish- 
ment, I suppose, to love you too late ! I shall 
never see you after to-morrow, till I am dying 
— if then — but I love you. Remember it ! It's 
no good to you, you won't care, but remember 
it, because it's my punishment. You can say, 
* When it was too late, she knew ! She died de- 
testing herself, shrinking at her own body, her 
own loathsome body that she gave to another 
man ! * Oh " — she beat her hands hysterically 
against his chest — " I hate him, I hate him ! 
God forgive me, he's in his grave, but I hate 
him when I think what's been ! And it wasn't 
his fault ; it was mine, mine — my own degraded, 
beastly self! Curse me, throw me from you ! 
I'm not fit to be standing here ; I'm lower than 
the lowest woman in the streets ! " 

The violence of her emotion maddened him. 
He knew that Ae, too, loved Aer ; the truth was 
stripped' of the disguise in which he had sought 
for years to wrap it — he knew that he had never 
ceased to love her ; and a temptation to make 
her his wife again, to cherish and possess her so 




long as life should linger in her veins, flooded his 
reason. Their gaze grew wider, deeper still ; 
he could feel her quivering from head to foot. 
Another moment, and he would have offered his 
honour to her keeping afresh. Some men left 
the smoking-room ; there was the sharp inter- 
ruption of laughter — the slam of the door. They 
both regained some semblance of self-possession 
as they moved apart. 

" I must go down," she said. And he did 
not beg her to remain. 

It was their real farewell, for on the morrow 
they could merely exchange a few words amid 
the bustle of arrival. Liverpool was reached 
early in the morning, and when Heriot saw 
her, she wore a hat and veil, and was already 
prepared to go ashore. In the glare of the 
sunshine the veil could not conceal that her 
eyes were red with weeping, however, and he 
divined that she had passed a sleepless night. 
To Mrs. Baines he privately repeated his in- 
junctions with regard to the physician, for he 
was determined to have his way; and the 
widow assured him that she would write to 
Morson Drummond for an appointment with- 


ONE man;s view 

out loss of time. The delays and shouts came 
to an end, and the gangway was lowered while 
he was speaking to her, and Mamie moved 
forward to her side. He saw the pair again 
in the custom-house, but for a minute only, 
and from a distance. They evidently got 
through without trouble, for when he looked 
across again, they were gone. 

A sensation of blankness fell upon Heriot's 
mood as he perceived it, where he stood wait- 
ing amid the scattered luggage. His life felt 
newly empty, and the dav all at once seemed 
cold and dark. 



The truth was stripped of the disguise in which 
he had sought to wrap it ; he knew that he had 
never ceased to love her. As he had known 
it while she sobbed beside him on the boat, so 
he knew it when the Bar claimed him again, 
and he wrestled with temptation amid his work. 
He might re-marry her! He could not drive 
this irruptive idea from his mind. It lurked 
there, impelled attention, dozed, woke, and 
throbbed in his consciousness persistently. 
Were he but weak enough to make the choice, 
the woman he loved might belong to him once 

Were he but weak enough ! There were 
minutes in which he was very near to it, minutes 
in which the dishonour, if dishonour it were, 
looked as nothing to him compared with the 



joy of having her for his wife again. Yet were 
he but "weak" enough? Would it indeed be 
weakness — would it not rather be strength, the 
courage of his convictions? The noetic long- 
ing illumined his vision, and he asked himself 
on what his doubt and hesitation was based. 
She had sinned ; but he had pardoned her sin, 
not merely in words, but in his heart. And 
she was very dear to him; and she had re- 
pented. Then why should it be impossible? 
What after all had they done to her, what 
change in the beloved identity had they 
wrought, those months that were past? He 
was aware that it was the physical side that 
repelled him — there had been another man. 
Yet if she had been a widow when he met 
her first, there would have been aiiother man, 
and it would have mattered nothing! Did 
this especial sin make of a woman somebody 
else ? Did it give to her another face, another 
form, another brain ? Did unfaithfulness trans- 
form her personality ? The only difference was 
the knowledge of what had happened — the 
woman herself was the same ! But he would 
not vindicate his right to love her — he loved 



her, that was enough. In its simplicity the 
question was whether he would do better to 
condone her guilt, and know happiness, or to 
preserve his dignity, and suffer. He could not 
blink the question ; it confronted him nakedly 
when a week had worn by. Without her he 
was lonely and wretched ; with her, while she 
lived, he was confident that his joy would be 
supreme. The step that he considered was, it 
any one pleased, revolting ; but if it led to his 
contentment, perhaps to be "revolting" might 
be height of wisdom. He must sacrifice his 
pride or his peace ; and at last, quite deliber- 
ately, without misgiving or a backward glance, 
Heriot determined to gain peace. 

A few days after the arrival, Mrs. Baines had 
written to inform him that the physician was 
out of town, but now a line came to say that 
an appointment had been made for " Monday," 
and that she would communicate Dr. Drum- 
mond's pronouncement immediately they reached 
home after the interview. It was on Monday 
morning that Heriot received the note, and he 
resolved to go to Mamie the same evening. 

The thought of the amazement that his 



appearance would produce in her excited him 
wildly as he drove to Victoria. He could fore- 
see the wonder in her eyes as he entered, the 
incredulity on her features as she heard what 
he was there to say ; and the profoundest 
satisfaction pervaded him that he had resolved 
to say it. The comments that his world would 
make had no longer any place in his medita- 
tions; a fico for the world that would debar 
him from delight, and censure what it could 
not understand ! He had suffered long enough ; 
his only regret was for the years which had been 
lost before he grasped the vivid truth that, in- 
nocent or guilty, the woman who conferred hap- 
piness was the woman to be desired. 

A criticism of his brother*s recurred to him : 
" You hadn*t a single taste in common ! " He 
had not disputed it at the time ; he was not 
certain that he could deny it now. But there 
was no need to consider whether their views 
were kindred or opposed, whether she was de- 
filed or stainless, when she was the woman 
whose magic could transfigure his existence. 
He was conscious that this marriage to be ap- 
proved by his judgment, and condemned by 



Society, would be a sweeter and holier union 
than their first, to which she had brought purity 
and indifference. As the cab sped down Vic- 
toria Street, his excitement increased, and in 
imagination he already clasped her, and felt 
the warmth of her cheek against his face. He 
felt the softness of her hair between his fingers, 
and stinging his lips, as he smoothed and kissed 
it as he had done five years ago. 

The hansom slackened, jerked to a standstill, 
and he leapt out, and hurried to the booking- 
office. A train was on the point of starting* 
The sentiment of the byegone was quick in 
him as he found that he mtist pass through a 
yellow barrier on to the same platform to which 
he had been wont to hasten in the period when 
he used to go to see her in Lavender Street, 
Wandsworth. He had never trodden it since. 
A thousand associations, sad but delicious, were 
revived as he took his seat, and the guard, 
whose countenance struck him as familiar, saun- 
tered with a green flag and a lantern past the 
window, Victoria slipped back. It had been 
in one of these compartments— perhaps in this 
one ! — that he had first asked her to be his wife. 



How damp she had been ! he remembered that 
her cape was quite wet when he touched it. 
A porter sang out, "Grosvenor Road," and at, 
the sound of it Heriot marvelled he should 
have forgotten that they were about to stop 
there. Yes, "Grosvenor Road," and then — 
what next? He could not recollect; but 
memory knocked with a louder pang as each 
of the impossible places on the line was reached. 
When the name of Wandsworth Common was 
cried, he glanced out at the dimly-lighted 
station, while in fancy he traced the course to 
the shabby villa that had been her home. He 
thought he could find it blindfold. 

After Wandsworth the line was quite strange 
to him ; and now the impatience of his mood 
had no admixture, and he merely trembled with 
eagerness to gain his destination. 

"Balham!" was bawled two minutes later, 
and among a stream of clerks and nondescripts, 
he descended a flight of steps and emerged 
into a narrow street. No cabs were in attend- 
ance, and, having obtained directions, he pur- 
sued his way to Rosalie Road on foot. 

A glimpse he had of cheap commerce, of the 

209 p 


flare of gas-jets on oranges, and eggs, and fifth- 
rate millinery ; and then the shops and the 
masses were left behind, and he was in ob- 
scurity. The ring of footsteps occurred but 
seldom here, and he wandered vainly in a maze 
of little houses for half an hour before a wel- 
come postman earned a shilling. 

Rosalie Road began in darkness, and ended 
in a brickfield. Heriot identified Number 44 by 
the aid of a vesta. A hollow jangle succeeded 
his pull at the bell, and presently, through the 
panes in the door, he could discern a figure 
advancing along the passage. 

His throat appeared to contract, and his voice 
sounded strange in his ears, as he inquired if 
Mamie was within. 

"Yessir; she's in the drOrin'-room," replied 
the drudge. " Oo shall I say ? " 

" Sir George Heriot. Is Mrs. Baines at 
home ? " 

His title rendered her incapable of immediate 

" Missis is out of a herrandt, sir," she stam- 
mered, recovering herself ; " she won*t be long." 

" When she comes in, tell her that Tm talk- 



ing privately to her niece. Privately ; don't 
forget ! " 

She turned the handle, and Heriot followed 
her into the room. He heard her announce 
him, but vaguely. He saw the room as in a 
mist Momentarily all that was clear was 
Mamie's face, white and wonder-stricken in the 
lamplight She stood where she had been 
standing at his entrance, looking at him ; he 
had the impression of many minutes passing 
while she only looked. A long time seemed to 
go by before her colour fluttered back, and she 
said, "You?" 

" Yes, it's I," he said. " Won't you say you're 
glad to see me ? " 

" Aunt Lydia has written to you," she mur- 
mured, still gazing at him as if she doubted his 
reality. " Her letter has gone." 

" I have come to hear what Dr. Drummond 

She motioned him to a chair, and drooped 
weakly on to the shiny couch herself. 

" I am not going to die,*' she said, moistening 
her lips. " Your sympathy has been thrown 
away. I am a fraud ! " 



In the tenseness of the pause in which he 
waited, the tumultuous throbbing of his heart 
seemed to shake it in his breast. 

" He has given you hope ? " he asked, articu- 
lating at last. 

"He said, *Bosh!' I told him what the 
doctor declared in Duluth. He said, * Bosh ! ' 
One lung isn't sound, that's all. I may live to 
be eighty." 

" O dear God ! " said Heriot slowly, " how I 
thank You ! " 

She gave a short laugh, harsh and bitter. 

" I always posed. My last pose was as a 
dying woman ! " 

" Mamie," he said firmly — he went across to 
her and sat down by her side — " Mamie, I love 
you! I want you to come back to me, my 
dearest ! My life's no good without you, and 
I want you for my wife again. Will you 
come ? " 

He heard her catch her breath, but she could 
not speak. He took her hands, and drew her 
to him. She fell upon his neck, and their 
mouths clung together, and presently he felt 
hot tears on his cheek. 



Then she released herself with a gesture of 

" You are mad ! " she said. " And / should 
be madder to accept the sacrifice ! " 

For this he was prepared. 

" I am very sane," he answered. " When you 
understand, you will see that it is the only 
reparation you can make me. Listen ! " 


Butler & Tanner, The Sdwood Printing Works. Frome, and London. 



SATURDAY REVIEW.— How it has fared with the Jew in modern 
fiction is a theme that should one day be treated by some philosophic 
writer. When the hour arrivesi that writer cannot possibly afford to 
neglect Mr. Leonard Merrick's Violet Moses, There is not the least 
suggestion of racial sentiment or of imperfect S3rmpathies in Mr. Mer- 
rick^s clever sketches of Jewish society in the cool, sequestered Maida 
Vale of life. The Jew ihaX George Eliot drew is more gratifying to the 
romantic eye than Mr. Leopold Moses, but the latter is unquestionably 
the more persuasive portraiture. Mr. Moses possesses everjrthing — 
even to flesh and blood — that Mr. Deronda lacked. 

ATHENiEUM.— Whether Maida Vale will be gratified or not by 
extremely vivid portraiture may be open to doubt ; but certainly the 
circles to which Leopold Moses, financier, introduces a very sensitive 
and intelligent youne wife will have the charm of novelty to most of 
those who share the introduction. 

THE TIMES. — The author is fairly entitled to the honours of a 
discoverer. He has struck down into a new social stratum^ and he 
seems to be at home in it. 

JEWISH CHRONICLE.— The right way to deal with a book of 
this kind is not to shriek at it as a libel — which it is not — but to profit 
by the salutary lesson that it teaches. 


SPECTATOR. — There was enough cleverness in Violet Moses — that 
brilliant and cynical study of middle-class Jewish life — to excite interest 
in its author's future. . . . Here we are allowed a glimpse, and 
something more than a glimpse, of heights of aspiration and attainment. 
. . . With the entrance into the story of Dr. Kincaid, we begin to 
breathe a clearer, sweeter atmosphere than that of the drawing-rooms 
of Maida Vale. 

SATURDAY REVIEW.— Mr. Leonard Merrick is distinguished in 
the school of fiction to which he belongs. His talent is rare, and what 
the French mean by fine. 

ATHENiEUM. — The Man who was Good is one of a cluster of simul- 
taneous novels, all turning on the self-abandonment of a woman, more 
or less complete, for a man who proves to be unworthy of the sacrifice. 
The main justification of such a central incident consists in the treat- 
ment of the woman's attitude after she has discovered that her idol 
is but iron and clay. Most of the novels now referred to are written 
by women, as might seem to be natural, since the question is one of 
the interpretation of sexual predispositions. But the author of Violet 
Moses f who has already shown himself an exceptionally acute observer, 
probably comes as near to the truth in his example of the eternal 
paradox as any woman has done. 


SPEAKER. — Mr. Leonard Merrick possesses that thrice-blessed 
gift — the power of interesting his readers. In This Stage of Fools he 
proves from cover to cover his grasp of that essential quality of the 

novelist*s mental equipment. The volume is mainly a rich<mffioi short 
stories and sketches which have already appeared in various magazines, 
though the first and most important contribution, The Laurels and the 
Lady^ is printed for the first time in these pages. But all alike justify 
their appearance in volume form by virtue of their excellent technique, 
bold treatment, and originality of idea. Unconventional as Mr. Mer- 
rick is in his methods of dealing with our social scheme, his is by no 
means that kind of unconventionality which, in recent novels, has so 
often shown itself allied with a hectic and sdmost hysterical morbid- 
ness. He has, happily for his readers, no desire to thrust upon them 
fantastic theories of existence. Artistic enough to paint life as he sees 
it, he is also imaginative enough to see in it those dumb tragedies of 
emotion which are not visible to the casual onlooker. The polished 
style in which it is written is not the smallest merit in this remarkably 
clever and suggestive volume. 

THE TABLET. — The keenness of observation and power of drawing 
womanly strength in Violet Moses^ the intensity, the emotional charm 
and pathos, of The Man who was Good\ the fidelity of his pictures, the 
absence of exaggeration, the simplicity, the insight into human nature 
of both books, are all in This Stage of Fools ^ but in miniature. Still, 
Mr. Merrick has done himself an injustice by his title. Violet Moses 
was a cynical study, but these sketches are written, not like Rabelais, 
with his finger by his nose ; nor like Balzac, with his tongue in his 
cheek ; not like Carlyle, with his back upon humanity ; nor like 
Heine, with lips tightened and drawn. In this book, at least, Mr. 
Merrick has too warm a pulse to be a satirist ; it is too full of the rich 
blood of life for him to feel — whatever he thinks — that men are 
" mostly fools." Of course they are ; but his sense of a situation, his 
gift of dramatic effect, his power of touching very sensitive chords with 
a fine hand, carry us past the veil of folly to the tragedies that breathe 
beyond. The wine of life may be, as it is, sour, but he sweetens it in 
presenting the cup. 


DAILY CHRONICLE.— A book that starts upon a good literary 
level, and maintains it to the end ; that never for a moment d^ene- 
rates into the slipshod or the sloshy ; is a thing of comfort and joy to 
the reviewer — so much so, in fact, that he has to be on his guard 
against the temptation to praise it unduly. Such a book is Cynthia, 
Mr. Merrick is an author with a conscience. He writes with the 
feeling full upon him that he has a duty to perform to the reader ; that 
a few smart dialogues, a little bit of clever characterisation here and 
there, a few wise remarks in proprid persond^ are insufficient to what 
should be a serious work of art. But good conscience is not Mr. 
Merrick's only qualification for his art ; he has all sorts of others : 
observation, knowledge of life, humour, a turn for neat phrasii^, an 
eye for the essential, and a clear recognition of development as a factor 
in human character. 

THE WORLD.— The story of a novelist by a novelist is likely to 
prove interesting, because there must inevitably be something real and 
characteristic in it, and here we have that interest developed by 
genuine ability, humour, a good style, and a clever plot. 

ULr. Grant Richards's New Books, 


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TAe ACADEMY: " Mr. Clodd's is probably the first attempt that has been 
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A New Annual. 

POLITICS IN 1896 : An Annual, containing Contributions by 
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J^ i-v