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ROSE O' THE SEA
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ROSE O' THE SEA
ROSE O' THE SEA
All day long Rose had been walking. In her grief she
had covered miles. She could not have remained in-
active in the little peaceful Cornish village that lay in
the sun : every one there watched her so curiously, so
govertly. No one had come up to her after the fimeral.
Up here, amongst the rocks and crags, she could cry
her heart out. She derived a certain solace from these
frowning rocks. They were gaunt and solemn, yet
kind; they reminded her of him. Simshine was not in
her to-day, in her who was usually all radiance and
happy laughter, a sunbeam of a giri.
Henry Eton, the queer old man who had named her
for the wild roses on the shore, who had been father
and mother and nurse to her, was gone, and she was
alone as on the day when the sea had brought her to
him, flotsam then, flotsam again.
Eton had no friends in the village. He was not of
the class to foregather with the fisher-folk, and be-
yond these there were only the Vicar and his wife.
Against these two old Eton had shut his door, forbid-
ding intimacy. He was just a recluse, an eccentric
mystery from beyond the seas. He had come amongst
them seventeen years ago, had settled there, lived
his own life — and died.
Some ancient labels on still more ancient boxes bore
4 ROSE O' THE SEA
the name of an American township; his speech, had
any one been curious enough to classify it, was that
of Connecticut. Tadtum himself, he had appreciated
the equal taciturnity of these Cornish people, their
lack of peasant curiosity, almost their dislike.
Up to the night of the wreck, sixteen years ago, he
had lived alone. Then the waves had laid Rose at his
feet. No one had wanted the baby, though some
fisherman's wife no doubt would have succoured it,
had not old Eton picked it up in his arms and claimed
it from that night on. All that life had taught Rose, all
that love could give her, had come from his handi. He
had brought her up without help of a woman, and she
had grown as a flower grows. Of Ufe as it is, of men and
women, she knew nothing. She had a flower's innocence
and a flower's beauty. She had not mixed enough with
the village people to acquire their dialect. If anything,
her speech, learnt from her foster-father alone, had
some of the archaic quaintnesses of New England.
Old Eton had gloried in her. The girl was a himiaii
blossonci, but wild — wild as the sea that had fltmg her
up, as the winds that had whistled or sung her to sleep
night after night — a child of Nature, whole and whole-
some as Nature herself, as much a creature of moods.
From the beginning she had seemed like a rose to
Eton. Any other name had seemed inappropriate.
Eton had taught her very little of books but he had
taught her to love the sea in all its moods (though
that surely was in her blood), nights xmder the stars,
the joy of wide and wind-swept spaces. For he had
been a wild, strange old man.
Of his life prior to his arrival in that remote Cornish
village he had never spoken, even to Rose. In this one
ROSE O' THE SEA 5
respect she knew as little about her adopted father as
did the people amongst whom he lived. It had never
occurred to her to be curious about him, any more
than it had entered her calculations to envisage that,
one day, death would take him from her. Now this had
happened without warning or farewell. Her personal
desolation was so great that nothing else coimted.
In a stricken way she had suffered others to make the
simple fimeral arrangements, had followed the loved
remains to the graveside, dressed as he would have
had her dressed, — print-f rocked and bareheaded, —
disdaining the doleful garb of black provided for her
by the well-meaning if over-zealous Vicar's wife.
After the fxmeral. Rose had not gone straight home.
Her instinct was to seek comfort out here in the open,
away from the sight of those who would pry upon
And, after many hours, comfort came to her; a sense
of loneliness removed, of invisible companionship.
Instinctively, she fell on her knees — she who knew
nothing of stereotyped prayer because Eton had never
taught her to pray. And words came to her lips that
surely were a supplication for the repose of her loved
Then, strengthened, how or why she could not have
told, she got on her feet, and started towards home.
Now, strangely enough, she no longer dreaded go-
ing back to the little cottage where she had lived so
happily for the sixteen years of her joyous life. Eton
would not be there for her to see, but she would feel him
near her, just as she felt his presence now. He would
be lonely if she stayed away longer. She hurried on.
On the outskirts of the village lived bedridden Re-
becca Gryls, the oldest woman in those parts. She had
been cradled in superstition, grown wise in it, traded
in it. Young men and maidens sought her in fear and
trepidation. She could look forward into the shrouded
future and back into the darkest past; an evil woman,
people said, whom nevertheless it was not wise to
shim. Even tourists, greatly venturing, had sometimes
located this ancient mystery woman and crossed her
palm with silver to open the gates of futurity.
Rose was a friend of hers. Rose was not frightened
of her. Rose had sat up with her all one wild long night
when the wind, had been calling for her soul, which
old Rebecca had not been ready to surrender.
From her bed by the window she had seen the girl
run by her cabin that morning on her grief -stricken
way to the rocks. Now, in the late afternoon, she saw
her returning home again, and called to her as she
Rose paused on the threshold and went in.
"I can't stay, Becky,'* she said. "I promised Mr.
Bree and his wife and a lawyer I would see them in the
cottage at six. What will the lawyer be for? "
Old Becky chuckled.
"For all the fortxme that is coming to you. Rose,"
she answered. "Hurry home now and hear about it."
Rose shook her head.
"What is a fortune?" she asked.
ROSE O' THE SEA 7
Becky's black eyes twinkled cannily.
"Money. More money than you Ve ever seen. Gold!
More gold than you can ever count. Gold making
gold every day— for yout Gold growing and breeding
and no stopping it. A flow of gold!"
She licked her lips over the word. There was gold
in the stocking imder her bed. She counted it and
played with it every night when the wind howled and
she could not sleep.
"I should n't know what to do with money," pon-
Becky chuckled again.
"You'll know what to do with it when the time
comes. You'll be a great lady, Rose. I see diamonds
shining in your hair."
Rose shook her damp curls.
"Sea-spray, Becky. You're dreaming."
Becky put out a hand like a bird's claw and reached
for Rose's. It was a little hand, tanned and taper-
fingered. Old Becky fondled it.
"You'll have more diamonds than you can wear
on all the fingers of your hands," she gloated. "You
will kiss a Queen's hand and walk in high places. The
world will be at your feet, pretty Rose, and you the^
richest woman in it. What'U you give old Becky for
her stocking if her words come true? "
Rose shook up old Becky's pillow and tidied the bed-
"Don't talk to me about money," she said. "It can
only buy food. Dad hated the sight of it. He foimd a
gold piece once in his pocket and threw it out to sea."
Old Becky spoke oracularly.
" If he had thrown money into the sea all day, Rose,
8 ROSE O' THE SEA
he 'd never have emptied his pockets. Give me my pipe.
Go home now — and see."
Rose left her puffing at her pipe and muttering
oddly to herself. The little time she had spent with
Becky had delayed her. She ran the rest of the way to
the cottage and arrived there a quarter of an hour
later than she had promised.
The Vicar and his wife were waiting for her. They
meant well by Rose, were sorry for her, intended to
help her according to their lights. She stood, it seemed
to them, in very immediate need of their help. They
had this amongst other things to tell her.
The Reverend Mr. Bree emitted several himis and
haws. Extempore speech even in conversation was
not one of his gifts.
"You're late. Rose," he began. "The lawyer could
not wait any longer. He had business in Trethew."
"Not that it matters," his wife put in. "He left us
to tell you that he has made a search amongst all your
adopted father's effects. He has found no letters, no
papers, no will — not a scrap of anything in writing.
We are very sorry for you, Rose. We all — everybody
— thought he had a little money to leave you."
Rose stared from one to the other.
"Money?" she cried. "Why do you all talk about
money? What does it matter? What do I want with it
when I Ve never had it all my life? Old Becky was talk-
ing about it just now. I '11 live here where he lived till
I die, and what I want I can buy with the silver he kept
in his drawer. Is n't that enough? "
"Enough?" Mr. Bree stared at her. "There's a
small drawer full of shillings and half-crowns. How
long do you think that will last you? "
ROSE O' THE SEA 9
"Years. Won't it?''
"Have you never had the handling of money?"
he asked incredidously.
Rose shook her head.
"He'd never let me touch it," she explained. "He
said all money was tainted. I don't know what he
meant. When we wanted food he bought it. There
was always silver in his drawer."
"You had better explain the situation to her," Mrs.
Bree said in an undertone.
The Vicar had come for that very purpose, but it
was a task he did not relish. He cleared his throat.
"In that drawer," he said in a troubled voice,
"there is only enough money to keep you for a few
weeks. The cottage you are in belongs to some one
else. That is to say, Mr. Eton only rented it, and I
am afraid he was in arrealrs for rent. Your position,
my poor child, is a peculiarly difficult one. In fact, if
my wife had not suggested a plan whereby we may
ourselves help you, you would be in sad case indeed."
Here Mrs. Bree lifted the burden from his shoulders.
"I am willing to take you into our house, and train
you as a maidservant," she said. "We could not afford
to pay you any wages. We can only keep one maid as
it is. But we will provide for you suitably and give
you a start in life."
Rose had gone very white. She looked roimd the
four walls of the little cottage parlour in a helpless
way. To leave it all! It seemed incredible, impossible.
She shrank from the thought of it.
"Of course," pursued the Vicar's wife, a shade
sternly, "you will have to conform to a more regular
life than you've led hitherto. And you would have
lo ROSE O' THE SEA
to dress suitably in black, and wear white aprons
and — ''
" Could I take my bed in the garden at night? "
"Certainly not. You would sleep with cook, rise
when she rises, help her with her work, listen for the
bells, and answer them and learn to be generally
Rose stared in stupefaction at the good lady.
"Dressed in black! Answering bells!" she ejacu-
lated. "Dress in black and stay indoors in the summer-
time when the birds are singing and the flowers are
awake and blowing."
" But you would have good food and a roof over your
Rose flxmg out her arms.
"What do I want with a roof when there's a sky
above me and star-shine and smnmer winds?" she
cried passionately. "Why should I think about food
until it's time to get it!"
"You woul^d think about it quick enough when
you had n't aiiy at all and you were hungry," said the
lady acidly. She was getting impatient.
The Vicar got up and patted Rose's shoulder.
"Try and be sensible, my child," he counselled.
"You're nearly a woman. You've got to learn to
behave like one — with decency and decorum. You
have not been schooled yet at aU. It has pained us all
these years to see you growing up neglected — "
"Neglected?" Rose caught him up, her face aflame
now, her small hands clenched in sudden fury. "You
say that because you don't know. Who bathed me
every night until I was big enough to do things for
myself? Who brushed my hair, cooked and mended
ROSE O' THE SEA 1 1
for me? Who sat by my side night after night when I
was ill? Who taught me everything I know? Tell me
"We are not speaking of physical neglect. We refer
to your imdisciplined upbringing, your wild habits in
general. You may have a certain knowledge of nature,
since you have Uved so much out of doors, but of life
itself you know nothing!"
"Do I not?" she flung back. "I know all the pre-
cious things. I know where the very first primroses
come out. I know where the shyest birds have their
nests. I know how to sit so still that the little wild
things in the woods will come out and play around
me. I know what it means to be alive, and the joy of
it. He taught me all that."
"He was mad, poor old man," said the Vicar's wife
with a pious sigh.
"He was the grandest man that ever lived," Rose
avowed proudly. She squared her yoimg shoulders and,
walking straight to the cottage door, opened it wide.
"Old Becky said I was to be the richest girl in the
world. She knew. I am the richest girl in the world
because he loved me. And I '11 live as he taught me
because I loved him."
Mrs. Bree made a despairing gesture.
"You imgrateful girl! Don't you understand that
we want to do our best for you?"
Rose's clear young eyes looked her through.
"You did n't like him," she said. "You called him a
mad old man. I could n't live with anyone who thought
of him like that." Her lips quivered suddenly as the
recentness of her loss recurred to her. "Won't you
leave me now? "
12 ROSE O' THE SEA
But we can't leave you," Mrs. Bree said hopelessly.
You can't stay on here, all by yourself. It would n't
be safe or proper." Her tone sharpened. 'Xome back
with us, child. Don't be stubborn."
The authoritative note in her voice, the cold ex-
pression in her eyes were determining factors in Rose's
complete revolt. A caress, a tender word, would have
sent her sobbiag, tamed, into the woman's arms.
"I'll stay here," she said decisively. "And — and if
I 'm to be turned out, I can pick flowers and sell them.
I could do that better than answering bells — dressed
in black! I could n't breathe like that. I'd burst!"
" You can't sell flowers in a village where they grow
for the picking," was the severe correction. "People
don't buy flowers — except in London."
Rose looked from one to the other in desperation.
Something hard ia the expression of both her would-
be mentors' faces fired resolution within her. Affec-
tionate restraint she might have borne; disciplined
"Then — I'll go to London," she said.
««* CHAPTER III
ex- At the base of the fountain in Piccadilly Circus where
se's the flower-girls have their pitch, Mr. Louie paused,
ive • Spring was in the air. It pleased his eyes to rest them
on these laden, colourful baskets of blooming mer-
[ if chandise, set him thinking of green glades where daf-
m. fodils grew, of bank-edges blued over by forget-me-
ed nots, and grassy slopes where narcissi nodded in the
w • Gentle-hearted Mr. Louie had a soul as well as an
le ■ eye for flowers, albeit he bought them in bulk every
morning for the floral department of Gardner's Mam-
' moth Store. Flowers, as it happens, are one of the rare
possessions of which it cannot be said that familiarity
breeds contempt. At least Mr. Louie foimd it so. He
truly loved them.
Because he had an eye for colour and almost an
artist's instinct for beauty, he was pulled up short by
the startling loveliness of pne of the flower-girls. She
was like a flower herself, innocently blooming and as
unconsciously beautiful. In place of the imbecoming
garb of the other women to right and left of her —
ragged skirt, plaid shawl, dilapidated hat with its un-
speakable feather — she wore a clean though faded
print frock and a flopping simbonnet that had once
been pink. She looked deliciously yotmg and fresh.
Such exceptional attire and so captivating a creature
set in the vortex of the great dty struck Mr. Louie
as something of aoi anomdy.
It was early morning; the streets were compara-
14 ROSE O' THE SEA
lively empty; otherwise Mr. Louie could quite imagine
that the girl woul4 have attracted undue attention.
Just for a moment he wondered if hers was what
he would have called "a theatrical get-up." Her
skirts scarcely reached to her knees. Her masses of
curly dark hair flowed over her shoulders, implaited
He gave her a keen glance, admiration mingling
with disapproval. The disapproval was not lasting;
closer scrutiny made it quite plain that the girl was
devoid of artificiality. She was the very incarnation
of the coimtryside. Involimtarily he came to a stand-
still and addressed her.
"I pass here every day. I have n't seen you before."
Rose looked up, met his kind eyes and smiled the
smile of a child. Mr. Louie foimd himself reminded
forcibly of a certain portrait of Lady Hamilton: one
of those immortal canvases on which Romney has
limned the beautiful Emma as a simple girl, and so
given permanent illustration of the eternal spirit of
"This is my first day here," was the unaffected
rejoinder. "Do you think I shall sell any flowers?
I Ve come to London to do that. They 're terribly dear
to buy. Some one sent me to Covent Garden, but I
couldn't see a garden anywhere, and these flowers
cost all the money I had left." Rose paused before
adding thoughtfully: "In my garden they grew for
"Have you a garden?" asked the surprised man.
"What made you leave it?"
Rose's face clouded.
"It's not my garden any longer. I had to choose
ROSE O' THE SEA 15
between wearing a hot black dress and answering
hells all day^ or running away. So I ran away."
"Dear me! Of course you must go back. How old
are you? Fourteen? "
She shook her head vehemently. »
"Seventeen. And I don't belong to anybody,, so
I'll stay now I'm here. Still," she proceeded, "I
would n't have dared to come if I 'd thought London
was bigger than Truro. I went there once. Would you
like a flower? " she finished eagerly.
"I'll have them all," Mr. Louie said, with business--
like definiteness. "That is, if you '11 bring them over
to Gardner's across the road." He indicated the posi-
tion of the big multiple store. "In fact, I think I may
be able to help you sell your flowers under more favour-
able conditions than in the streets. I '11 see you in my
office. Come over in ten minutes and ask for Mr,
Louie. As it happens, we have a vacancy for a flower
hand. We'll talk about that, perhaps."
He nodded encouragingly and passed on.
In less than ten minutes he was interviewing Hose
in the small private office leading out of Gardner's
floral department. He Was touched by her apparent
forlomness (which, to his perplexity, did not seem to
trouble her in the least), anxious to help her if he
Nevertheless, these amiable qualities did not prevent
him from being extremely businesslike. True, he bought
her flowers and paid for them out of his own private
pocket. That was a purely personal matter. Even the
most acute business man has his soft moments, his
"How would you like to work in there?" he asked,
i6 ROSE O' THE SEA
with a jerk'^of his head towards the veritable bower
of flowers through which she had had to pass on her
way to his office.
"Ever so much!" she cried. "It would be more
like a garden than the streets. But you wouldn't
find me any use, would you?" she added deprecat-
Mr. Louie pressed a bell. An attendant appeared.
"Bring me some sweet-peas and some roses and
two flower-bowls," he directed.
When the blooms were brought he turned to Rose.
"Will you please put those in water?" he said.
Rose obeyed. Mr. Louie watched her as she bent
over the blossoms, handling them with light, caressing
fingers. So engaged, she looked to him more than ever
like a flower herself.
But for the moment he was concerned with her
work only. In a very few minutes she had arranged
the flowers with excellent effect, instinctively blend-
ing them, making the utmost of colours and foliage.
"You'll do," he pronoimced. "You love flowers,
"I love everything that belongs to out-of-doors.
Flowers most of all. They're such a wonderful proof."
"Proof? Of what?"
Rose coloured a little, shy of expressing her thoughts.
"Why, that there are things meant simply to be
beautiful — things made only to look at. I think it
was so kind of the Person who made the world."
" God made the world in six days," said Mr. Louie
sententiously, "and rested on the seventh."
"I've heard that. But I think He made flowers on
the seventh day to keep it holy."
ROSE O' THE SEA 17
"Very likely. They certainly help one to be good.
Sometimes when I'm tired or my temper is tried I
come and look at a vase of flowers, or, better still,
flowers growing, and I feel like a child who has been
naughty — ashamed of myself." He pulled himself,
up, suddenly conscious that he was talking a little
too familiarly to this waif of the streets.
"That's just it," she agreed eagerly. "You fed
flowers. So do I. But it's most wonderful of all to walk
in a garden at night where the flowers are growing
and it's all — hush."
"You will miss a garden," he said in a more matter-
of-fact tone. "Only rich people have gardens in Lon-
Rose sighed. "How poor the poor must be I Perhaps
— might I — take a bunch sometimes to my room to
make it seem like home?" she asked wistfully.
" Surely. But I have n't engaged you yet. What
about a reference?"
"A reference? What's that?"
"Well, some one who can speak for you personally
or by letter as to your character and respectability.
A clergyman, for instance — "
She shook her head;
"I'm afraid I won't do, then. I only know one
clergyman and his wife — the ones who wanted me
to dress in black and answer bells. They wouldn't
call me respectable. I don't think I am."
Mr. Louie looked his amazement.
"I mean, " Rose explained, "I like being out all day
and sleeping out of doors at night."
"You can't do that in London," he interjected de-
i8 ROSE O' THE SEA
" I know. I Ve got a horrid little room. It 's iq a place
called King's Cross, that a porter at the station told
me of. When you look out of the window you see noth-
ing but roofs and chimney-pots, and never a blade of
grass!" She clasped her hands. "Oh, do let me work
for you here ! If I can be with flowers all day I may be
able to dream of the coxmtry at night!"
"Very well," he said; and to himself, "I'll trust
my judgment. ... I '11 engage you from to-morrow at
eighteen shillings a week to commence. You wiU have
your dinner and tea in the building. You must be
measured in our costume department for a' suitable
dress at once. You 'd better stay now you 're here and
pick up what you can. Miss Hobbs, our principal
assistant, will tell you what to do." He hesitated, and
went on quickly: " I want you to understand that I am
doiQg an imusual thing in engaging you without en-
quiry. Because of that I hope you '11 behave well in all
ways. We like to be careful about our young ladies.
We don't encourage them to make friendships with
male customers. It 's neither good for the prestige of our
house or the girls themselves. I 'm telling you this for
your own sake, because it seems to me you know very
Kttie of life."
"I don't imderstand," said Rose.
"I mean, you must be careful of any men who may
want to piake friends with you."
Still kose did not imderstand.
"But you are a man!"
An imcomfortable look came into Mr. Louie's face.
"I am a business man," he replied; "and in my busi-
ness as well as my private life I respect all women."
Rose thought for a minute.
ROSE O' THE SEA 19
"Don't all men respect all women?'*
Mr. Louie met her innocent eyes.
"Not always, I'm afraid."
Rose said no more. This was her j&rst wordy excur-
sion into the circumstances of life as she might find it,
and it required thinking over.
She turned to go, hesitated and came back.
"I have n't thanked you," she said gratefully, "for
helping me like this. What makes you so kind? "
Mr. Louie looked at her, and then out of the window
for a few moments. A mist had come over his eyes.
"I had a little sister once — " he began, but did not
finish the sentence. Then he brisked up: "Come with
me. I'll put you in charge of Miss Hobbs."
From one till half-past two every afternoon Rose was
alone in her kingdom of flowers at Gardner's Mammoth
Store, except for any customer who might put in an
appearance during the luncheon hour. Of Mr. Louie
she saw very little. He was watching her, keeping note
of her progress; but he purposely abstained from show-
ing her any favouritism. Others might do that; it was
not his way.
In an extraordinary fashion it had come to pass that
every one in the huge building, male or female, with
whom Rose was brought into contact, any one indeed
at whom she smiled or to whom she spoke, instantly
became her admirer or friend. She gave out charm just
as a flower exudes sweet scent.
From the business point of view she had more
than justified Mr. Louie's estimate of her. Her love-
liness compelled attention and (or so it seemed to Mr.
Louie) enhanced the very desirability of the flowers
she sold. She had proved herself remarkably quick
Even Sir Gerald Gardner, managing director of the
great emporimn, when on a tour of inspection one day,
noticed her, made enquiries about her, and finally
congratulated Mr. Louie on his perspicacity in engag-
"We must keep an eye on her," he had observed.
"A remarkable young woman, Louie. I don't think
I have ever seen quite such a perfect beauty. If we 're
not careful we shall have some West End manager
ROSE O' THE SEA 21
spotting her for his theatre, or a fihn-produdng John-
nie discovering her, and whisking her oflF."
"She's best amongst flowers," Mr. Louie remarked.
"Let's hope she'll always think so."
As for Rose herself, as long as she was in the shop
tending flowers, arranging them, breathing in their
sweetness, she was as happy as the day was long. For
all that, loneliness settled on her like a cloud when she
returned to her dismal lodging. Then she longed for
all she had left behind in Cornwall: the sea, the coim-
try, her cottage garden at dusk, the old man whom she
had loved with all the intensity of her yoimg being.
Those lonely hours were her danger time, although she
was far from knowing it,
Just now she was singing while she gave her flowers
fresh water. Miss Hobbs was at lunch, Mr. Louie out on
business. She was imaware of the entrance of a young
man who had come in silently at the swing doors of the
floral department, and now stood watching her. He was
little more than a boy, but he had the face of a roui
and tired eyes that for a few moments flickered with
interest as they rested on her.
Rose at last became conscious of his regard and
looked up. He smiled.
"Now, are you coming out with me to-night?" he
asked lazily, persuasively, as one who resiraies an
Rose gave her head a negative shake. This Corin-
thian youth was no stranger to her.
"Mr. Louie told me to be very careful of anybody
who tried to make friends with me," was her guileless
The boy's e^epression became amused, but knowing.
22 ROSE O' THE SEA
"Oh, come now. Surely you can see through that!
Who's this Louie, anyway? Some bird who wants to
keep you to himself, of course. . . . What do you do in
the evening? I bet you don't stay in."
"Indeed I do. One evening I did try to find some
fields. I walked and walked. But I never got oflf pave-
ments. They never seemed to end. So now I sit in my
room. There 's a big shell on the mantelpiece. I shut
my eyes and put it to my ear and try to hear the sea
and forget that I'm in London."
"Why forget it?" he asked, and lounged towards
her. "It's a ripping old place. You Ve not seen it yet,
not the proper side of it. You're cooped up here all
day — and perfectly delicious you look, too. I tell you,
when I first saw you through the glass partition a week
ago I nearly fell slap into it ! I did, b ' George I . . . And
in the evening you go and bury yourself ! I shall fetch
you to-night. Here 's my card, and that 's who I am.
If I could have got a straight introduction to you I'd
have done it."
Rose took the piece of pasteboard. It was engraved
"Lord Caister," with the address: "287, Bulkeley
Place, S.W.," and "Winter's Club," in the right-hand
"*Lord Caister'l" she read and hesitated over the
title. "Is that you? Really?"
"Sorry," he apologised. "I've given you my^^gover-
nor's card by mistake. Don't know how it got there.
Same address, though. I 'm the hope of the family —
Denis Wyndham Mallory. Rather a mouthful, is n't
it? Well, we 're properly introduced now, or at least I
Rose was studying him with her grave young eyes.
ROSE O' THE SEA 23
"I think as you're a lord's son I might come out
with you, because you 're not an ordinary man like Mr.
Louie told me to be careful of. I read a piece of poetry
once all about Knights of the Round Table and a won-
derful King called Arthur. They were all lords and they
all respected women."
The Honourable Denis looked rather at sea. He
did not quite follow the drift of Rose's thoughts. Still,
it was good enough for him that she had apparently
changed her mind about accepting his invitation. In
all his short, jaded life he had never come across such a
wonder-girl. She made a fellow think of morning dew
and open air and other poetic things that seemed obso-
lete nowadays as applied to women or girls.
'*A11 those Johnnies lived hundreds of years ago,"
he observed cheerfully. "Jolly good chaps they were,
too, I dare say; but I expect they enjoyed themselves
when they got the chance. Dare say they championed
maidens in distress and aU the rest of it, but made
love to 'em in between. That need n't have made them
any the less respectful, of coxirse," he hastened to add.
Rose was considering.
"I think I'll come out with you to-night," she de-
cided at length. "I'll ask Mr. Louie if I can."
"Shall I fetch you? Or will you meet me? We '11 dine
at Oddenino's and I '11 take you to a theatre. How will
"I'll meet you. I suppose I can find my way."
' The Honourable Denis gave her full directions.
"If you don't turn up I shall come and rout you out,"
he went on. "You told me your address the other day,
you know. I 'd half a mind to motor round last night
and carry you off. You'd have liked a spin through
24 ROSE O' THE SEA
Richmond Park far better than sitting with a seashell
to your ear and the smell of fried fish in your nose."
"How do you know it smells of fried fish where I
live?" she asked quickly. The fact was undoubtedly
true and a nightly scourge to Rose.
* Because I've been there. I went to Kling^s Cross to
locate you. You 're as out of place in that imspeakable
street as an orchid in a jam-jar. If you were my flower
I should buy a priceless vase for you, set you in a
beautifid room, and worship your beauty. Do you
know you 're a perfect delight to the eye? I 'd like to
see you with your hair piled high on top of your little
head, a jewelled comb in it, wearing a shell-pink frock
trinuned with old lace made by Lucille, and a string
of pearls lying warm roimd your throat. You 'd take
the shine out of every woman you came across. What
will you wear to-night? "
"Oh, any old thing," Rose answered, imconsdously
using a colloquialism of the day.
The Honourable Denis Mallory did not appreciate
that Rose, imlike all the other females of his acquaint-
ance, was literally as the flowers of the field, taking no
heed of her appearance or charm. In the shop she wore
a blue overall, and out of it dimg to the print dresses
which constituted her sole wardrobe.
In one of these, freshly laundered, she kept her
appointment with him that evening. She arrived on
foot, a little late, a trifle hot, her shoes dusty, her pretty
hair escaping from the hairpins to which she had only
lately learned to accustom herself.
Denis caught his breath when he saw her. Of course
she looked perfectly delightful: a lovely child fresh
ROSE O' THE SEA 25
from the country. But a man could n't dine with her,
dressed like that, at a fashionable restaurant.
"Look here," he said with ready resource, "IVe
no end of a jolly plan. How would you like to hop into
a motor and spin right out into the country and have
supper at a little village inn? "
Rose's eyes danced. Her feet nearly followed suit.
" I would love it I " she exclaimed. " Don't let 's waste
a minute 1 "
Denis did not intend to waste a minute in any sense
of the word. For one thing, Rose's rustic get-up, al-
though a little too distinctive for Regent Street, con-
vinced him of her absolute unsophistication. She was
none the less desirable in his eyes. He was tired of the
girls he knew; crowds of girls of his own set — and
other sets; girls for the most part with yoimg faces and
old eyes ; girls who knew as much of the world as he did ;
amusing, witty girls, but not any of them simple and
dean-minded like this print-clad baby at his side.
"Come along, then," he said. "Here's a taxi. Hop
If Rose had harboured any feelings of misgiving they
kft her now. True, she had not been able to see Mr.
Louie to ask his advice, but she did not think he would
mind her enjoying an evening out of doors with a
pleasant young man who respected women. Every-
thing was arranging itself delightfully.
When, in less than an hour, they were whirling
through twisty country lanes with green fields on
either side, her spirits became ebullient.
"Oh! You don't know how I am enjoying myself!"
she cried. "How good you are to me!"
He meant to be good to her according to his lights
26 ROSE O' THE SEA
and in all probability according to hers. She might be
simple — she gave that impression — but he did not
suppose she was altogether artless. One did n't look
for artlessness in a pretty West End florist. Shopgirls
were all fair game. Certainly this one had not exhibited
an immediate coming-on disposition, the habitual
readiness of her kind to be entertained by any fellow
who could afford to give her a good time. In fact, she
had kept him "guessing" until to-day. He put that
down to 'cuteness — the proverbial 'cuteness of the
This jaunt, away from the blaze of electric-lit
streets and the stuffy atmosphere of crowded restau-
rants, gave him no pleasure. Except for what it prom-
ised later on it bored him. Only the reward he looked
for made it worth while. It kept him " up to the snaffle,"
patiently attentive to her.
They dined at a small hotel on one of the lower
reaches of the Thames. The river scenery entranced
Rose. To her the dinner was a wonderful repast. Denis
Mallory, regretting the amenities of Oddenino's, f oxmd
it a martjnrdom. He tried to solace himself with a bottle
of doubtful champagne. Rose would not drink any-
thing but water.
Somewhere about half -past eleven — a premature
hour in his estimation, an unconscionably late one in
hers — they got back to town. Rose was tired and
sleepy. Denis was just beginning to wake up. But he
felt he wanted priming: something to make up for a too
Arcadian evening in the tmspeakable riverside hostelry.
So without consulting Rose he put his head out of the
cab window and gave the driver the address of a night
dub of the second rank in which her print frock would
ROSE O' THE SEA 27
not attract too much attention or not greatly matter
if it did.
There at a supper table she looked with amazement
and modest confusion at the wild dancing, the general
unrestraint, the scantily clothed women. Supper with
her was a pretence. Nor did Denis do more than employ
it as a stimulus to a Tantalus-like thirst to be quenched
with cocktails. Rose did not know they were going to
"What a lot of those little pink drinks you are tak-
ing!" was all she remarked. "Why don't you have
them all at once in one large glass? "
He smiled at her. His eyes had a glassy look.
"If I took 'em all at once I might get tight. It's not
lemonade, don't you know."
Lemonade was her drink. She finished what re-
mained of it in her glass.
"I should like to go home now," she said. "I don't
very much care for this place. Do you mind? "
"Right-o! That's what I've been waiting for, you
He got up with alacrity, but staggered a little on
the way out, another sign of inebriety that escaped
her. But when they were once more in a taxi and she
felt his arm round her and his hot breath on her face
she recoiled from him. He laughed sottishly and let
her go; supposed she was coquettish and himself a
little too previous.
At her door in Sidey Street she said a few hurried
words of thanks and bade him "Good-night."
"I say! Is n't that to come?" he said, with marked
meaning. "That's not the way to thank a fellow.
Can't let you go up in the dark, anyway."
28 ROSE O' THE SEA
The occupants of the house had long since gone to
bed. There was only a glimmer of light at the top of the
"I'd rather you came another time — in the day-
time," she replied dubiously.
"'To-night's the night' 1" he hiccoughed, closing
the street door.
She did not realise his condition, had no idea of his
intentions. She knew nothing of men. But when they
reached her room and once again his arms went round
her while she was fumbling with a match-box she felt
alarmed. When he mumbled something, although the
actual meaning of his words was unintelligible to her,
she sensed insult.
"I'll light the candle," she faltered. "Please — no,
don't touch me!"
"Oh, bother the light! We can do without it!"
He ignored her request, held her to him, held one
of her hands. Matches spluttered and went out. She
swayed about trying to release herself. She was more
frightened now, more indignant. Her lips were tight
shut, but her heart was thumping.
"Don't be imkind, darling. ... I'm not going to
hurt you," he murmured in her ear.
"Then let me go!" she panted.
"Not imless you promise — "
The sentence was never finished. Rose's ire boiled
over. So far her resistance had been passive; she had
not exerted her strength. But instinct as well as exas-
peration now made her do so. Her yoimg muscles, full
of latent vigour, became tense. For a few moments the
pair swayed to and fro in the confined space. Then she
got free and flimg him ofi. His foot caught against thQ
ROSE O' THE SEA 29
leg of a chair and tripped him. There was a dull thud as
his head struck the edge of the fender.
Rose stood in a tremble. With the cessation of the
struggle her anger died down. In the faint light reflected
against the ceiling from a street lamp she could make
out his huddled form. She lit the candle with shaking
hands and bent over him.
"Are you hurt?" she cried.
He lay quite still. His breathing was inaudible. She
put down the candle and tried to raise him. Then, as
his head rolled limply, she was horrified to see blood
oozing from a cut on his forehead. It was a mere trickle
and the cut a negligible one, but she did not know that,
or that his collapse was due more to alcoholic excess
than impact with the fender. She thought he was dead,
thought she bad killed him.
For a httle while she was almost demented. She
stood over him wringing her hands in anguish. She
called to him, shook him. Finally she tried to lift him on
to her bed, but could not. The dead-weight in her arms
only tended to confirm her worst fears. She wanted
help, ministration, though of what sort her mind was
too agitated to tell. Not from her landlady. Some rea-
soning capacity told her she would be useless. Whoni
then to appeal to? In its devious way memory came to
her aid, holding up to her mental vision the name and
address she had read on a visiting card that afternoon
— "Lord Caister, 287, Bulkeley Place, S.W."
She had no idea in which direction it lay nor how far
off it was. Her one and only consideration was to get
there. Down the stairs she flew in hot haste, out into
The hands of the old bracket clock on the library
mantelpiece pointed to 12.30 a.m. With a sigh Lord
Caister put down the book he was reading. It was
a disappointing life-history of a young aristocrat, and
provided too close a parallel with a trouble of his own
to make pleasant reading.
As usual, his son was not in yet: as usual, the father
was waiting up for hun. It had perforce become neces-
sary of late that he should never retire before the boy
made his belated appearance; equally necessary that
the servants should not see the flagrant coudition of the
heir when he did so. It hurt Caister's pride to think
that strangers, and above all servants, should be in a
position to scoff at one of his name. The frailties of his
son, the smudges the boy had already made on one of
the fairest escutcheons of England, were the sorrow of
the father's life. It seemed to Caister so curiously un-
fair that he, a man of almost rigid principles, should
have a moral weakling for an heir. The motherlessness
of the boy from early childhood had perhaps adversely
affected his mental fibre. He lacked the restraining
moral hand on his shoulder. Only an iron one would
The soimd of the front-door bell pulled violently
broke the stillness of the house. Caister left the room
to answer it himself. The servants had gone to bed half
an hour ago.
Some one, perhaps, had brought Denis home. That
unpleasant incident had occurred more than once.
ROSE O' THE SEA 31
To his complete surprise a slip of a girl dressed in a
sprigged cotton frock stepped into the circle of lamp-
light. She was deadly white and shaking with emotion
of some sort. It was Rose, panic-stricken, beside her-
self with fright.
"I want to see Lord Caister," she cried. *'Is he in?"
"I am Lord Caister. What can I do for you?"
At that moment Rose evinced no astonishment that
the young-looking man with the strong, fine face was
old enough to be the father of a grown-up son. His
statement to that effect satisfied her.
She caught at the lapels of his coat, almost tearing
them in her frenzy.
"Then don't waste a moment!" she cried. "Please
come with me now — now ! "
Outwardly, Caister did not evince the least per-
turbation. If he had felt it he would not have shown
it. He had his kind's inherent dislike of a scene, in-
deed of any emotional exhibition whatsoever. He was
taken aback, naturally. He anticipated that some-
thing tmpleasant had occurred to Denis, and he did
not want to be told about it in the hall. For a moment
he was puzzled how to classify this girl. She was of
quite a distinctive type. But, then, Denis had such a
diversity of acquaintances: some of them quite beyond
classification. . . .
"Please calm yourself," he said; "and if you have
anything to tell me about my son be good enough to
come in here." _
He led her into the library and closed the door.
"Now," he invited, "tell me."
Rose was still fighting for breath, still in a state of ag-
itation. Her littie hands opened and shut convulsively.
32 ROSE O' THE SEA
"I've killed him!" she whispered tensely. "I did n't
mean to. I just pushed him away, and he fell. He
did n't get up. I called to him. He never moved. And
then I came here, nmning all the way. Oh, don't
waste time! Please come back with me!"
Caister put his hand on her shaking shoulder and
forced her gently into a chair. On a side table was the
evening tray with its usual equipment of syphon,
decanters, and glasses. He crossed over to it, poured
out some brandy, diluted it, and returning held it to
"If you don't drink this you'll faint," he insisted.
She thanked him, drank obediently enough, then
jumped to her feet.*
"Of course I'll come. But I want you to be calm."
Rose wrung her hands.
"Don't you care?"
"Naturally I care. But I find it difficult to believe
what you say. A little bit of a girl cannot kill a man
simply by pushing him down. Denis, I am very much
afraid, must have been — imwell."
She was too distraught to notice the pain in his
voice or the implication conveyed by the last word.
"But I'm strong!" she cried, holding out her slen-
der wrists. "And I was so angry. I have never been
so angry in all my life."
"I want you to explain why, before I come with
you," he said. "Are you a friend of my son's?"
"I thought I was. At least I did earlier in the after-
noon. Before that I would n't talk to him at all be-
cause of Mr. Louie's advice. Mr. Louie is the manager
of the floral department at Gardner's in Regent Street
ROSE O' THE SEA 33
where I work. When he engaged me he told me never
to take any notice of yoimg men who might come to
the shop and try to make friends. And I never should
have if your son had n't told me who he was. I thought
that, as he was" — she cast aroimd wildly for the
right word — "a nobleman like King Arthur and his
knights, he would be gentle and respectful. And so
he was xmtil a little while ago. He took me into the
country this evening in a motor-car. I loved every
minute of it. I 'm afraid he did n't enjoy himself quite
as much as I did, because he was n't starving to see
green grass and little cottages and peaceful, browsing
cows. When we got back to London again he said he
was tired and thirsty. He took me to a fimny place. I
did n't like it. There were ladies and gentlemen there
dancing about as if they had gone mad. The. music
was mad too. It was a night club, he said, and a very
jolly place, if you were a Bohemian. I don't think I
can be a Bohemian, because I come from Polseth in
Cornwall, and they haven't places like that there.
Aad all the time he was drinking bright-coloured stuff
out of little glasses. Cocktails, he called them. When
we left he seemed to have become quite different —
horrid all of a sudden. When we got to my lodgings he
came upstairs. And then — and then" — she covered
her shamed face with her hands — "he tried to kiss
me. He made me frightened. He was n't nice. I only
meant to keep him away. I did n't think he'd tmnble
over and lie there. . . . Now I 've told you everything.
Really I have! Don't leave it any longer, I see you
don't believe I've hurt him. What will you do when
you find I have? I could n't bring him back."
"I think you will find that he will bring himself
34 ROSE O' THE SEA
back," Caister said grimly. "Listen. ... If I am not
very much mistaken, there he is now."
His ears, familiarised to the almost nightly sound
of Denis fumbling with a latch-key, had already de-
tected that preliminary to the boy's uncertain entry.
Rose, all her senses on the stretch, held her breath
Some one had opened the front door and come into
the hall. She heard unsteady steps on the tessellated
floor outside. She would have been at the door, outside
it, had not Caister laid a restraining hand on her.
"Stay here," he said. "He's going upstairs."
He kept his hand on her shoulder. Together they
listened to the muflBied, irregular sounds made by im-
steady feet mounting the stairs. Then a door banged
and there was sUence again.
"Now I'll go and see how he is."
Rose nodded mutely. Great tears were rolling down
her cheeks. The stress of the last few hours was telling
On his way to the door Caister paused.
"I want you to give me your word," he said, "that
you will not go imtil I rejoin you."
She looked at him in surprise. '
"There's no need to give you my- word," she an-
swered with unconscious dignity. "Of course I will
stay here until you come back. I don't run away from
things — or people."
Left alone, the turmoil of her thoughts was too po-
tent to allow her to take stock of her surroundings.
She sat on in the great chair, staring straight in front
of her with a dazed look in her eyes. Never in her
short life had she been in such a chaotic state of mind.
ROSE O' THE SEA 35
So Caister found her when he returned. A look of
grief was in his face. He was ashamed of his son,
ashamued to have to confess as much to this strange
"It is as I thought/' he said. "My son has come
home. He is not a bit hurt. When you pushed him,
he must have simply fallen over and — gone to sleep
People who drink a lot of coloured stuff out of little
glasses sometimes get like that. No blame whatever
attaches to you. I am sorry, more sorry than I can
properly express, that your trust in him should have
been misplaced. When he has recovered he will apol-
ogise to you in person."
Rose looked relieved. "Oh, I don't care about that,"
she responded. She paused and then said softly: "Does
it make you sad — because he likes that coloured
Rose looked serious, too.
"I think it is a pity," she said gravely. "Because,
you know, he can be a very nice boy."
"All this afternoon he was so kind and gentle.
Please don't be cross with him. It was partly my own
fault for not listening to Mr. Louie's advice. You
asked me to give you my word about staying just now.
Won't you please give me yours that you won't be
"I don't think Denis would care very much if I
were," was the answer, made with a bitterness which
did not escape her this time. ^ '
"You must n't say that. He was talking about you
this afternoon. If you could have heard him! He said
36 ROSE O' THE SEA
you were the splendidest pal — those were his own
words — a man could have, and that he wished you
had the same cause to be proud of him as he has of
She had no idea how greatly her words aflfected him.
"I expect you would like to go home now," he
said. "Where do you live?"
She told him.
"But at this time of night you can't go there on
"I foimd my way here, so I can get home as easily.
Please don't trouble about me."
For answer he reached for the telephone on the
table and rang up his garage.
In less than five minutes Rose found herself being
driven through the streets in a luxurious closed car
that felt more like a feather bed to her exhausted
little body than anything else.
Long after she had gone Caister sat on in the library,
lost in careworn thought. Once, for a moment, Ms
expression lightened. That was when he thought of
Rose entreating him not to be angry with his boy,
assuring him that Denis was not altogether indifferent.
The girl was a good girl. He was sure of that. Of her
he had no doubts or fears, only kind thoughts. A win-
ning child. She would come through life with flying
colours. She was of the type that a special Providence
guards and watches over, even as the defenceless
living things of the woods and fields are watched over
and cared for. But for the waste product of over-
civilisation, a weakling such as Denis, there seemed
no beneficent Influence to strengthen or restrain. It
was the hardest thing in life Caister had been called
ROSE O' THE SEA 37
upon to face: recognition of the fact that the boy on
whom all his hopes centred was morally incapable of
fulfilling them. And he had desired so greatly that
Denis should ride straight, hold straight, live straight,
wield a straight bat through life and — play the
game. • . .
Mr. Louie's quick eyes noticed that something was
amiss with Rose the next morning. No detail con-
nected with his work or the iadividuals associated with
it ever escaped him. Besides, in Rose he took a special
interest. To-day he was quite sure she was either tired
By and by he sent for her to come to his office.
"You don't look very well," he said. "Would you
like to go home and rest? You work very hard. A few
hours off would n't do you any harm."
Rose thanked him. But she didn't want to rest.
Nothing soothed her so much as being amongst her
beloved flowers. It is probable that she would have
confided the whole of her adventure to the kindly
little man, had not an innate sense of loyalty restrained
her. Lord Caister had shown her consideration, sym-
pathy. Denis was his son. He was sad, grieved about
Denis. It would grieve him still more if he knew that
his son's indiscretions were a subject of discussion
among third persons. Rose did not put it quite like
that to herself, but it was what she felt. So she said
nothing of last night's adventure with its impleasant
ending, and thinking herself dismissed, turned to leave
the office. Mr. Louie called her back.
"Wait a minute. I have n't seen very much of you
lately. Do you feel you are settling down? Are you
happy in your work? "
"I love my work."
"I'm glad to hear that. And of coiurse you like
ROSE O' THE SEA 39
London too. I hope so. It is a wonderful dty — the
most wonderful in the world. There 's nothing like it
for sheer greatness — beauty of structure, history,
individuality. London's alive! I couldn't live away
from it. Not for long."
"I couldn't care for it like that," Rose said. "I
expect you feel for London what I feel for the sea.
Now that I'm away from it I think of it imtil some-
times I nearly cry with longing."
"But the sea can't make you. That's what London
or any great city does. You can live all your life by the
sea, and when you're dead there's an end of it: not
even a footprint left upon the sand. In London you
can do things, become some one, get some of its force
inside you, achieve something; make your place in the
world and keep it. Ambition is a wonderful spur." He
stopped for a moment. "I don't generally talk about
myself. It came about through my wanting you to
know London and to love it, as I do. Some afternoon
I would like to take you out and show it to you if
you'd care to come. I should feel honoured if you
would." He flushed to the roots of his very fair hair,
and weiited for her answer with obvious anxiety.
Rose did not hesitate. She might mistrust Denis;
indeed she did not feel she could ever trust any
stranger again. But Mr. Louie was different. She did
not think of him as a stranger. It was impossible to
doubt his integrity. Honesty, kindliness, zeal were
written on his countenance for all to read; the open
book of a man, clean-paged, straightforward.
"It's very good of you and I'd love to come," she
40 ROSE O' THE SEA
"That will be nice. It's my birthday. At least, I
date from then."
Mr. Louie looked puzzled.
"I was washed up by the sea, and Dad counted my
birthday as from that day."
"Not my real one: a better-than-rcal-one. He found
me and made himself my father. We lived on the money
he kept in a drawer. When he died it was nearly all
gone. There was n't any gold. He hated gold."
"Dear me, how extraordinary! You must tell me all
about yourself on Sxmday, if you will. We '11 have an
afternoon on the river, and afterwards I will take you
home. I live with my mother,'' he added. "She will
be pleased to meet you."
The wording of the last sentence carried nothing
stereotyped to Rose's ears : it only sounded hospitable
and well-meaning. If she missed the compliment it
voiced, her unsophistication was to blame. It touched
her, who had never known a mother of her own. She
looked at Mr. Louie with grateful eyes.
"That will be lovely," she said. "I know I shall
"I want her to like y(W." Mr. Louie spoke with em-
phasis. " I have never taken a young lady home before."
The explanation was intended as a double assur-
ance to Rose, if she needed one, of his sincerity — and
perhaps of his regard.
"At the same time," he went on, a little timidly,
" I want to ask you not to mention our proposed little
excursion to any one here. To begin with, I don't
want to hurt the feelings of others who — er — might
assume that I am making a favourite of you; and
ROSE O' THE SEA 41
secondly, I think it would be a pity to have our — er
— friendship discussed or wrongly interpreted. A little
later on, perhaps, when we know each other better,
we may be in a position to declare our plans and accept
the congratulations of our friends."
Rose nodded. Anything that Mr. Louie suggested
was in her estimation sure to be wise. Her confidence
in him was imboimded. The deeper significance of his
words was entirely lost on her. Love had never entered
into her calculations. Lideed, how should it? Certainly
not love in relation with Mr, Louie.
She went back to her work serenely enough, cheered
by the pleasant interview.
Miss Hobbs, her superior, gave her a keen glance.
There was curiosity in it, perhaps a touch of envy.
"Been hauled over the coals?" she asked, although
she knew very well that could not be the case. She
had herself given Mr, Louie a glowing report of her
pupil. " I mean, was he cross about anything? Not
likely with you. It's my belief he's sweet on you."
She nodded meaningly. "Mashed!"
The term was a strange one to Rose. She looked
slightly at fault. It was a look that often came over
her face nowadays. There were so very many things
she did not imderstand.
Miss Hobbs proceeded :
"Now if I were you, kid, I'd play up. It's a chance
a lot of us would give our eyes for — to get the right
side of a man in Mr. Louie's position. Why, his salary
must be four himdred a year, if not more, and he
won't stop there. You mark my words. Our Mr. Louie
will be Somebody one day. You '11 never do better. I
could love a little man like that myself."
42 ROSE O' THE SEA
" Could you? " asked Rose, big-eyed.
"Rather. I could love any one who wanted to be
kind and take care of me."
The admission seemed to Rose a strange one coming
from Miss Hobbs. Miss Hobbs was such a massive
young woman. She could have picked Mr. Louie up
and carried him about in her arms. As a sentiment, her
desire to be " taken care of *' was hardly in accord with
her physique and her assurance of manner. Rose had
yet to understand that the tender, timorous heart of
a woman may beat within the frame of one of the
out-sizes of her sex.
"I have n't thought about love at all — ever," she
confessed. "I'm too young."
"Stuflf and nonsense! It's time you began, then.
Love 's just wonderful. I don't know what the nov-
elists would do without it, I 'm sure, or any one else
for that matter. Love is the chiefest thing in the
world — love of men for women, and women for men.
All the books worth reading are all about it; nearly all
the shops are run for it — flower-shops, jewellers, mil-
liners, perfumers, even this store. They're all kept
going to provide us women and the men who like us
to look nice and have the loveKest things that money
can buy to please us or make us beautiful. There
would n't be any shops or luxuries if it were n't for
love ; nor yet half the music or theatre pieces. Love
The last expression was no doubt trite, but it was
Rose pondered. "Then I don't suppose I've ever
lived," she remarked, with truth.
Miss Hobbs shook her head sagaciously. She was
ROSE O' THE SEA 43
in a prophetic mood. The mantle of old Becky Gryls
seemed to have fallen temporarily upon her shoulders.
"You're one of the lucky ones, Miss Eton," she
asserted. "You'll draw love all your life without being
able to help yourself, same as you could draw crowds
if you liked — just to look at you." She sighed. "But
a girl like me, just eating her heart out for a bit of
romance, has to get it out of a three-penny novelette,
or sit in the pit of a theatre, or go to a cinema show, or
else just stand by and watch some one else Uving what
she can only get at second-hand. That's life too!"
At that moment a gentleman came into the shop.
Miss Hobbs instantly became businesslike. She never
confused business with romance, though she often
had a wild hope that the one might result from the
The customer wanted roses. Miss Hobbs showed
him 3ome — Madame Edouard Herriotts — at two
shillings a bloom. He hesitated. They were too ex-
pensive. On his way out he caught sight of Rose. She
had just picked up a large vase of the selfsame flowers.
They were not too fresh. Miss Hobbs had told her
to remove them from the window just before Mr.
Louie had asked to see her. She was doing so now.
The customer stopped her and enquired the price.
"The same price, sir," Miss Hobbs interposed
Still with his eyes on Rose, the customer asked for
a dozen blooms, paid for them, and left the shop.
Rose's face had sold the flowers, whereas from capable,
xmattractive Miss Hobbs, Madame Edouard Herriotts
at two shillings each were not to be thought of.
When he had gone, with yet another backward
44 ROSE O' THE SEA
glance at Rose, Miss Hobbs smiled across at her mean-
ingly, but without rancour.
"There was a woman in the old history times
called Somebody of Troy," she remarked. "Ellen I
think her name was. Well, they do say it was a smile
of hers that launched a thousand ships. . . . Now, I
wonder if she was alive to-day and in here whether
that same old history smile of hers wotdd sell a
dozen fading Madame Herriotts at two shilling
apiece? I dew'/ think!"
On Sunday morning, in her lone top-floor room, Rose
was dressed ready for her day out with Mr. Louie.
A shady straw hat was already pinned on her head;
her white cotton gloves, washed and ironed overnight,
lay on the bed. But before putting them on, a pleasant
duty had to be observed. She did not know what was
in the small sealed packet that she held in her hands,
but rose-coloured anticipation had made her reserve
the opening of it until the last moment.
For its size it was heavy. An inscription on the
paper wrapper ran:
To my dear Rose, to be opened on her eighteenth birthday^
if old Dad is not with her on that happy day.
The loving words had the same effect as a caress.
She could almost imagine that the dear old man who
had penned them was standing by her side.
With girlish curiosity she broke the seal. Inside the
box was something wrapped in tissue paper and cotton-
wool. Rose's fingers, pressing through these, felt a row
of protuberances. They might be buttons or beads. In
her eagerness to discover the contents she turned back
an end of the paper and the cotton-wool slipped out,
displaying a double row of pearls. She picked them
up with an exclamation of delight and fastened them
round her throat. Rose knew nothing about gems or
jewels, but pearls — even a cheap double string of
manufactured pearls — commended themselves to her,
because of their association with the sea.
46 ROSE O' THE SEA
"Thank you, darling," she said aloud. "They're
lovely. I'll wear them always."
The pearls were round her neck when a little later
she met Mr. Louie. He carried a giant bimch of roses,
a bouquet fit for a bride or a prima-donna.
"You had roses when I first saw you," he said gal-
lantly, presenting them. "I've brought you some to-
day. I think you said it was your birthday. I hope you
will always be as happy as you look just now."
He could not disguise the admiration she evoked
in him. It was a sheer delight to look at her. Her glow-
ing beauty made him feel almost humble. Though by
accident or circumstance she was of low station, her
loveliness made him forget it. Her chief charm lay in
her utter obliviousness of it.
She thanked him with words and lips and eyes. The
roses were lovely. He was so kind. She showed him the
only other present she had had, the pearls round her
neck. Mr. Louie, no judge of pearls, thought the slen-
der pillar of her throat far lovelier than the double
iridescent row that circled it.
"Everybody would want to give you a present if
they knew it was your birthday," he said with sincer-
ity. "You make people feel generous."
"Do I?" she asked. "Why?"
" Because you give out so much yourself — of youth
and radiance — and beauty."
Rose inhaled the fragrance of her roses with keen
"I wish I could give as much pleasure as a flower
does," she said. "Just to grow; to look lovely; to smell
delicious; to please a sick person or a dear little child.
I'd love to be a flower!"
ROSE O' THE SEA 47
"There are such things as human flowers/* said
Mr. Louie sententiously. "I think you are surely
Rose gave a merry laugh.
"Do you know, I've really forgotten what I'm like
to look at. There 's such a funny little old glass in my
bedroom. It 's spotted and cradked, and it makes me
look pale green and twisted. Of course there's a big
looking-glass in our dressing-room at Gardner's, but
there 's always such a crowd roimd it that I ' ve never
bothered to go near."
" You don't need to see yourself. It 's good enough that
others can have the pleasure of looking at — and be-
ing with you. I hope we shall have a pleasant afternoon,
and that it may be one of many more to follow."
He certainly did his best to entertain her — a
thought laboriously, it is true, for he was not used to
playing the gallant. He took her to Richmond as he
had promised. They travelled by train first-class. The
dewy radiance of the girl, the expensive bouquet she
carried, coupled with the serene expression on her
cavalier's coimtenance, made strangers notice them,
assuming, no doubt, that they were bride and bride-
groom. Rose, as usual, was absolutely imaware of the
attention she attracted. Mr. Louie, on this occasion,
was conscious of it, and, being very human, felt not a
little proud. He was quite aware that many a man of
position would have been glad to be seen about with
pretty Rose. The notice she excited was of the right
kind; the homage that fell to her was spontaneous and
They spent some placid hours on the river. Mr.
Louie, unfortunately, was unskilled .in the xxlanage-
48 ROSE O' THE SEA
ment of a boat, but Rose's handling of a pair of sculls
was masterly. She appreciated the charm of the wooded
reaches of the river, but she missed the surge of the
sea, the exhilarating sensation of tossing in a boat on
its tempestuous bosom, the scream of the wind, the
sting of sea-spray. Still, this gentle movement on a
softly stealing current had its fasdnation.
Mr. Louie drew her out, got her to talk about her-
self. Rose was no egotist, but the life she had left be-
hind had been so precious that she required little urging
to dilate upon it. Artlessly enough she described the
simple, untrammelled existence of those past days, so
that Mr. Louie was able to picture her upbringing more
or less correctly, imderstand how it was that she had
grown up so naturally and beautifully, wild as a bird,
innocent as a flower, half child, half Naiad, a nymph fit
to preside over any river.
Even his mother, a little inclined to be critical, as
mothers of adored only sons often are, fell under
Rose's charm from the moment Mr. Lotiie brought her
home. To her, in the most natural way. Rose put up
her face to be kissed, as a child might. She took an
instant liking to the homely, faded little woman, and
wanted to be liked by her in return.
Diplomatic Mr. Louie effaced himself almost at
once. He guessed that it would be good for these two
to be left alone for a while. Those quiet hours on the
river with Rose had made him more than ever desir-
ous that the mother, who up till now had filled his life,
should find room in her heart for the girl who had come
to mean all the world to him. It staggered him at first
— this realisation of the magical thing that almost in
a moment of time had coloured and transfigured
ROSE O' THE SEA 49
his whole existence. Its wonder would be an abiding
glory, whichever way their paths were set, together or
Upstairs with Mrs. Louie, Rose took off her hat.
She looked about the bright bedroom and exclaimed
"How lovely everything is I"
"My son has excellent taste/' said Mrs. Louie com-
fortably. "He bought this little house, chose every-
thing for it, planned the garden and madfe it. Every-
thing has grown aroimd us. We a,v^ very proud of it, he
and L One day he will bring a wife jome to it, no doubt"
— she looked at Rose steadily fo* a moment — "and
I hope she will care for it too."
"I'm sure she will. I should. Is he going to be mar-
ried soon? I hope his wife will be nice, and let me come
and see them both. He 's been sq gcod to me. I can't
tell you how good 1 " ^
But she tried to. Her artlessne^ rlmost took Mrs.
Louie's breath away. The girl was fe incredibly xm-
sophisticated, though that was a wprt the simple soul
was a little too homely to use. A child. JVell, far better a
child in heart than a young woman of the world. Mrs.
Louie disapproved of worldly young women. It was
almost her daily prayer that her son should not fall
a prey to the studied fascinations of one of the yoimg
ladies in Gardner's. Rose worked at Gardner's. She was
aware of that, and had been inclined to disapprove of
the friendship. But Rose, most clearly, was not a minx.
She was apparently just herself.
Something waiflike about her touched Mrs. Louie's
motherly emotions. Of her own accord she bent to-
wards the girl and kissed her again.
so ROSE O' THE SEA
^^Be good to him, too, child," she said, and winked
away a tear.
Then she took Rose downstairs. Tea — a somewhat
elaborate one — was ready. Mr. Louie was assidu-
ously attentive. Mr. Britton, an uncle of his, was of the
party too, a solid business gentleman who said little and
who, unlike his nephew, seemed far more interested in
the pearls at Rose's throat than in pretty Rose herself.
By and by he was unable to restrain his curiosity.
"Would you mind my looking at your necklace a
little more closely. Miss Eton?" he asked. "One does
n't expect to see pearls like those out of Bond Street."
The request astonished Mr. Louie. His xmcle was
manager of Stark and Bowden's, the eminent West End
jewellers, and the |ast man in the world to evince in*
terest in Rose's trivial neck ornament. For of course
her "pearls" could not be real.
Rose imfastened and handed them to the old gen-
"Do you like them?" she asked artlessly.
Mr. Britton put on his glasses. He weighed the pearls
in his hand, scrutinised them with the aid of a pocket
lens. The examination absorbed him. Then he fixed
Rose with a keen, almost suspicious, glance.
"How did these come into your possession?" he
queried in a curious tone. "If you found them I should
advise you to take them to Scotland Yard at once. You
will in all probability get a reward — a substantial
reward. No doubt when you found them you took them
to be of no value."
Rose's face showed perplexity.
"But I did n't find them!" she cried. "They were
given to me — for my birthday. To-day."
ROSE O' THE SEA 51
Mr. Britton fixed her with an odd look over the top
of his spectacles. His handling of the pearls was almost
reverential, but he retained them.
"Are you aware what they are worth? " he enquired.
Rose shook her head. "The person who gave them
to me was n't rich/' she replied. "When he died he left
them for me. They were just a little present."
"A princely present," was the cynical correction.
"Will it surprise you to hear that these pearls are
worth something like ten thousand pounds? Under the
circumstances I'm inclined to think they must be con-
sidered — stolen property. They ought to be in the
possession of the police. You don't want to get into
trouble, do you? "
A gasp of fright and dismay broke from Mrs. Louie.
"Charles! You don't say!" she exclaimed.
Mr. Louie sat very still, quite bereft of speech.
But over Rose's face there crept an expression —
an emotion — superseding that of fear or dismay or
surprise. Even the delight at discovering that she
owned anything of such great value was absent from it.
Wave after wave of hot colour surged into her cheeks.
Her eyes blazed.
She started up, pushing her chair back, forgetful of
appearances — a young, living, loyal creature, eager
to defend her beloved dead.
"How dare you say that?" she cried indignantly.
"Give me back my necklace at once!"
Rose's indignation had the effect of allaying some of
Mr. Britton's suspicions.
"I did n't mean to upset you, Miss Eton," he said,
breaking a rather long silence. ''But these pearls are
so exceptionally good and valuable that — that — in
short, it was difficult for me to understand how they
came into yourpossession. Of course,if you aresatisfied
yourself; if the necklace is really yours — bought and
paid for — well, you are a very lucky girl."
He considered he had made the amende honorable.
After all, it was none of his business.
"I should think so, indeed!" Mrs. Louie declared
enthusiastically. "Why, it's a fortune. I can hardly
credit it, even now."
Rose sat down again. She was a little ashamed of her
exhibition of temper.
"Please forgive me if I was rude," she said. "I did
n't mean to be. Only I can't tell you how much I loved
the person who gave me my necklace. He was n't rich.
In fact, he was'quite poor. But he was the most wonder-
ful man in the world. If he bought my pearls he must
have spent all he ever had on them; imless he found
them washed up by the sea, like myself."
All this time Mr. Louie had not said a word. The
romance of the thing literally robbed him of speech.
It was so incredible, and yet, as Rose explained it, so
believable. Until he had met her, romance, in fiction or
in real life, had never touched him. He had not had
time to read of or consider about it. Rose's own story.
ROSE O' THE SEA 53
as she had told it on the river that afternoon, had
sounded convincing enough. But now in conjunction
with this magic necklace he found himself doubting
her veracity, her very artlessness. And then he glanced
at her open face, met her clear, honest eyes, — wells of
innocence and Ught, — and his momentary suspicions
were swallowed up in this new-found love of his.
So far as the actual value of her birthday present was
concerned. Rose was the least staggered of the three.
She had so little idea of money values. Ten thousand
pounds soimded a big siun, but she had no conception
of how much it really stood for.
Having done what he thought his duty, Mr. Britton's
magisterial maniner left him. Had he really been a
judge he would, no doubt, have ended by being prej-
udiced in favour of such a sweet-looking girl as Rose.
Her pearls still fascinated him. He would have pre-
ferred to see them reposing on a blue velvet bed behind
a barred glass window. In his eyes they were out of
place on the neck of a girl of Rose's position — a girl in
a print frock. They were suitable for a duchess, not a
"If they are a legacy, and if you are quite satisfied in
your own mind as to your legitimate right to them,
I should advise you to sell them," he said. "My firm
would give you the sum I estimate them to be worth —
ten thousand poimds. We should have to make a few
enquiries, of course; but I have no doubt, after what
you say, everything would be found in order. There's
my card and business address if you care to see me at
Rose took the card and thanked him.
"No, I wouldn't sell it, thank you," she said.
54 ROSE O' THE SEA
"What could I possibly do with such a lot of money?
I could n't wear it round my neck. Besides, if my dear
old Dad had wanted me to have the money he would
not have given me the pearls, would he? I could n't
sell them for money or change them for anything else."
"Well, I don't know," debated Mrs. Louie. "Some
people buy jewels as an investment, to be turned into
money when needed. I should look on it like that if I
were you, Miss Eton. Don't you think so, Leonard?"
She turned to her son.
But Mr. Louie was looking troubled. He foresaw
diflEiculties looming ahead for himself in this vast ac-
quisition of Rose's. Except for her own sake, he had far
rather that her present had been no more than a pretty
string of beads.
"I share Miss Eton's views," he answered. "Pres-
ents are not meant to be converted into money. They
stand for sentiment, not value. A flower picked from
a hedge and given with all love is worth a great deal
more than an expensive present without affection. It 's
all relative; mother."
Mrs. Louie looked her surprise at this imexpected
statement. It was the first time she had ever known
him to express an unbusinesslike view.
"Well, poets might put it like that," she agreed
grudgingly; "but it is n't sense, to my mind. However,
it's your necklace. Miss Eton, and I'm sure I'm glad
to congratulate you on it."
The subject lapsed. Rose apparently forgot all about
it. Not until Mr. Louie was taking her home did it crop
up again. He had been very quiet, and Rose, stealing
a look at his preoccupied face, wondered at the cause
of it. She began asking herself whether unwittingly she
ROSE O' THE SEA 55
had done anything to merit his or his mother's dis-
"Are you cross about anything?" she said. "I am
so sorry I was rude to your uncle."
Mr. Louie started. "Cross? With you? How could
I be? What made you think so?"
"You were so quiet."
"I was thinking — of you."
** And your necklace. The value of it. This afternoon
when my mother asked my opinion, you heard me tell
her that I agreed with you : that the giver might not
have wished it to be turned into money. I've been
thinking it over since. Very likely he had nothing of
the sort in his mind. He meant it, I should think, that
you should do what you liked with it. That is the es-
sence of a gift. It should have no conditions attached
" Go on," said Rose.
"And I was thinking that very probably you do not
realise the extraordinary change that this great gift
can make in your life from now onwards. You ought to
know it and to think it over for your own sake. At
Gardner's you now receive thirty shillings a week. If
you sell your necklace for ten thousand pounds, and
invest it, it will bring you in nearly five hundred a year.
That is its value — ten poimds a week. With that
money you would no longer need to work. You could
have a little house by the sea, a boat, and a garden of
your own, pretty dresses — anything in reason. As for
living in one room in an impleasant street as you do
now, that would all be behind you. So that I'm not
sure that I advised you rightly. Although at the
56 ROSE O' THE SEA
moment you are a shopgirl you have the means to live
like a lady."
Rose walked on in silence. By and by she turned to
"Am I like a lady?" she asked simply.
He could not answer her that. She was unlike any
one at all.
"You are just yourself," he told her.
Rose considered. "Ladies come to the shop. I'm not
a bit like them. They are so quiet • — the ones I mean —
in the way they dress and the way they speak."
"Repose," averred Mr. Louie.
"Is that the word? Well, I 'm qxiite di£ferent f rom
them, anyhow. One has to be bom a lady, I think."
"I should n't be surprised if you were bom a prin-
cess," was his quick and involuntary rejoinder. "That,
to my mind, is the difference between you and a lady."
At any rate she would always be the Princess of his
"Well, I don't feel a princess, or a lady," Rose said
with decision. "I simply feel I love my life and would
like to go on with it. Of course I miss the sea and my
garden and the flowers; but if I went back to them I
should miss my work, and the shop and all the kind
people I have got to like so much — and you. I'll go
on being as I am, I think."
Mr. Louie's face cleared. He had done the right thing
in explaining the extent of her wealth, and for the pres-
ent, at any rate, she had made her choice. He was con-
tent to leave it at that. There was only one thing more
he wanted to say, and he desired above all that she
should not misunderstand him.
"I wonder if you can imderstand why, for a purely
ROSE O' THE SEA 57
selfish reason, I should have felt happier if you had
never received such a gift. It = — it puts you and me on
a different footing. In a moment of time, through a
turn of f ortime's wheel, you have become the possessor
of a siun of money such as I could only expect to save
by the time I am an old man. I had hoped to help you
in so many ways, and now you are independent of any
help I can give you."
"But you have helped me already. Besides, / am not
any different just because IVe got a real pearl neck-
lace, so I don't see how anything can be altered by it."
Shyness descended on Mr. Louie.
"One has ideals," he murmured. "I had hoped to
tell you about mine one day."
She laid her hand on his arm.
"Won't you now?"
But he was afraid. She was so young, too young yet
by far to imderstand the mind or the heart of a man.
"Another time," he promised. "Meanwhile, will
you remember what I said just now? If you ever come
to appreciate the value of money I want you to believe
that really and truly I would have preferred you had
nothing — nothing at all."
Rose nodded, but she looked a little perplexed.
"I wish it had n't made any difference," she said.
" If I had fifty real pearl necklaces and all the money
in the world, I should still want to be just your little
friend. I should be miserable if it altered things."
Mr. Louie took her hand.
"God bless you for that," he said fervently. "Let
us always be friends, whatever happens."
"Whatever happens," she echoed, and flashed at
him one of her sunny smiles. Then she thanked him
58 ROSE O' THE SEA
for her happy afternoon. They had reached the street
and the cheap little house where she lodged. Outside
it a car was drawn up — the one in which she had been
driven home a few nights ago. At sight of it Rose paled
a little, half-fearing that it portended a visit from
"Oh, dear!" she exclaimed, alarm in her voice.
Mr. Louie had observed the car too, and the coronet
on its door panel. It filled him with misgivings. Rose
had been frank enough with him that afternoon, de-
scribing her childhood, her migration to London, and
her impressions of life at Gardner's. His suspicions
came back, whispering mistrust. Had she purposely left
out certain details? It seemed impossible to associate
her, of all people, with guile.
"Some one you know?" he asked, detesting himself
for his inquisitiveness.
"Yes — no — I think so. At least, I don't know,"
she faltered. She was flushed now, obviously nervous.
Mr. Louie asked nothing further. He bade her good-
night, and turning rather abruptly left her. As he
retraced his steps, the expression on his face became
grave and anxious. For a moment the hideous thought
came to him that Rose might not be so innocent after
all; that she, like others . . . Then, contemptuously,
he dismissed the idea as he recalled her pretty, sincere
words of a few moments back:
" jy / had fifty real pearl necklaces and all the money
in the warldy I should still want to be just your litUe
He took comfort from that.
Mrs. Bell, Rose's landlady, had occasionally let
lodgings to young ladies at the bottom of the the-
atrical ladder. She was also an omnivorous devourer
of popular romantic fiction. So that when she opened
the door shortly before Rose's return home she was
hardly surprised and extremely gratified to see a
liveried chauffeur on her doorstep and a handsome
car drawn up at the kerb.
Such an equipage accorded with her ideas of what
a young lady like Miss Eton might aspire to. She was
ever ready to abet a profitable friendship such as this
might portend. The affair of Miss Maggy Delamere,
now Lady Chalfont, was a case in point. Miss Dela-
mere had lodged in the selfsame room that Rose
Mrs. Bell was inclined to draw a parallel from this
coincidence and to look on it as an omen. Yoxmg ladies
who might suddenly marry into the peerage were to
be encouraged and helped. "Miss Delamere" — the
stage-name stuck — never, for instance, forgot Mrs,
Bell. A five-pound note and a hamper at Christmas,
not to speak of sundry other largesse, regularly found
its way to No. 109, Sidey Street, from Purton Towers,
her ladyship's country seat. Who knew how soon Miss
Eton herself might not be in a position to be equally
boimtiful? At any rate, Mrs. Bell had her wits about her.
In answer to the chauffeur's enquiry, she stated that
Miss Eton would be home "at any minute." Would
his gentleman care to wait?
6o ROSE O' THE SEA
The gentleman — it was Lord Caister — intimated
that he would be glad to do so. Mrs. Bell, with voluble
apologies for the torn stair-carpet and murky landings,
preceded him up three flights of steep stairs to the door
of Rose's tiny, cupboard-like room and squeezed her-
self against the wall so that he might enter.
"I'm sure the room never looked so homelike since
Miss Delamere that was, Lady Chalfont that now is,
left me," she remarked with pardonable pride. "Miss
Eton is Just such another one, so fond of flowers.
Sisters they might be, she and her ladyship, as far as
flowers go. No doubt you may know Lrady Chalfont,
She was not quite sure of the designation, but she,
too, had observed the coronet on the car, and as Caister
did not correct her, she assmned she could not be far
out in her mode of address.
"I know Lady Chalfcmt quite well," he admitted.
"So she lived here!"
He looked roimd the mean little room with some-
thing approaching incredulity. A dstem, naked and
imashamed and at all times noisy, occupied a consid^
erable portion of its cubic space. For the rest, it was
equipped with a small bed of curiously undulating
contour; a washstand that somehow contrived to sup-
port itself and the paraphernalia of toilette upon legs
conspicuously out of the perpendictilar; one chair,
never designed to be sat on; and a small deal table
covered with a black satin cloth awesomely worked in
coloured silks, a striking exhibition of the erstwhile
Miss Delamere's industry if not of her taste.
But the room's forbidding aspect was redeemed by
the profusion of flowers that adorned it and the artistry
ROSE O' THE SEA 61
with which they were grouped. Here lived somebody
who obviously revealed herself through flowers, just
as others do in the medium of paint on canvas, words
on paper, or acting on the stage as an outlet for self-
When Mrs. Bell had retired precipitately to inter-
view a peripatetic vegetable-merchant, who was bel-
lowing his wares in the street below, Caister surveyed
the tiny room with interested scrutiny. It was spot-
lessly dean, starkly simple, but the flowers made it
look habitable. Obviously, the girl he had come to see
possessed two outstanding characteristics. She was the
soul of neatness and she loved beauty. Both attributes
commended themselves to Caister. He could not help
wondering what sort of appeal she had made to Denis,
who, as a rule, would have expressed himself as " bored
stiflf " by simplicity.
He was bending over the wash-basin, inhaling the
fragrance of roses and carnations, when Rose entered.
At sight of her visitor — father, not son — the ex-
pression on her face changed from that of half-dread
to pretty welcome. She could not be afraid of Lord
Caister, although he was the last person in the world
from whom she had expected a visit. As on that night
when she had so frenziedly sought him, he inspired
confidence, a sense of trust. In appearance, at least, he
embodied all her inchoate thoughts of the upright, the
She stood a little shyly, still holding her giant bimch
of pink roses tied with their big pink ribbon.
"Did you want to see me, sir?" she asked.
Caister smiled. A simple child, a pretty child!
*^More flowers?" he remarked playfully.
62 ROSE O' THE SEA
"Are n't they lovely?"
She placed them in water, first attending to their
wants, as a mother does to the needs of her children,
and then, turning to her visitor, invited him to be
seated on the bed. Lord Caister could not help being
struck by her charming naturalness, or rather her
entire lade of affectation. She might have been a great
lady receiving in her boudoir, so devoid was she of
"It is very kind of you to come all this way," she
said. "I hope you have not been waiting long. Is your
son better? "
Caister took a note from his pocket-book and handed
it to her.
"I promised you he should apologise," he said.
"Just at present he is imable to do so in person, so he
has written you a letter which I have brought instead."
"May I read it?"
It was a short note, formally apologetic. Its well-
chosen wording was not a bit like Denis. Truth to
tell, he had written it at his father's dictation. His
interest in Rose had temporarily subsided since she
had repulsed his advances so definitely the other
evening. Most girls ran after him or were ready to be
run after. He was too weak and temperamentally too
lazy to enter upon a pursuit that would entail rebuffs
without any certainty of capture. As he had lain in
bed, nursing his grievance against Rose, as well as an
injured nose, which had come into forceful contact
with the cistern in his fall, he had made up his mind
to let the acquaintance lapse. Rose did n't want him.
She had plainly shown that. Besides, she was n't the
ROSE O' THE SEA 63
sort of girl he could take about, dressed in the simple
"rig" that she had "fetched up in" at Oddenino's.
Such a rustic beauty she had looked! Rusticity in
Regent Street was the limit !
So Denis had rung the bell for his valet to bring him
pen, paper, and ink, and scribbled a note to a certain
Miss Vivienne Ra3nnond of the Pall Mali Theatre
(private' address, a flat in Maida Vale), an engaging
yoxmg person without any elements of simplicity or
rusticity in her composition:
Dear Little Thing,
I have n't forgotten you — not a bit. Truth is, I Ve had
a nasty fall and can't get out for a few days. Absolutely
bored stiff and fed up, and shan't feel better till I can f etdi
up at the show again and take you out to supper.
Poor ineffectual Denis! He was always "bored stiff"
or "fed up"; generally both. He had just despatched
the epistle with directions for it to be sent by special
messenger, when his father came in.
Denis felt his nose.
"Can't be seen like this," he replied. "So may as
well stay in bed. I had an accident last night."
Caister looked a little grim.
" So I was given to understand."
Denis looked up. "Who told you?"
"The young woman herself. She came round here.
She was most distressed, thinking you had killed
" Came — round — here ! " ejaculated Denis. " What
64 ROSE O' THE SEA
^'On the contrary, I think it showed her pluck. At
any rate, she was unnecessarily exercised in mind on
your account. I think as soon as you are able you had
better get up and go and apologise to her."
Denis surveyed his parent with something like as-
"Oh, you needn't bother about that," he said at
length. "She's not the sort to kick up a row: In fact,
I don't think I shall be seeing much more of her. She's
only a sort of flower-girl. I saw her through a window
in Gardner's, looking like the peach in a beauty chorus,
and I followed her up, that's all. There's nothing in it.
At least, not for me. It appears she had been reading
some old-fashioned story about knights-errant, and
thought I was one. Ejiight-errantry 's a bit too strenu-
ous a life for me; eh, father?"
He leant back a little wearily on his pillows. Caister's
heart smote him. The boy was generally behaving
badly; he was an imspeakable disappointment, but all
the same his poor physical health had perhaps tended
to xmdermine his moral stability. That weakness had
always aroused his father's pity, the compassion of the
physically strong for the physically weak. For instance,
to-day Denis looked frightfully delicate, a mere wraith
of a lad. The pace he had set himself was slowly killing
"Look here, Denis," he said, "can't you take a pull
at yourself? If not for your own sake, for mine. You'll
be the only one left one day to cany on. You might
Denis closed his eyes. He had n't the least desire to
"carry on." The tired sensation that generally assailed
him was responsible for at least half his follies. It was
ROSE O' THE SEA 65
sometimes so overwhelming that had he had the energy
to put an end to things, he might have chosen that way
as an exit from the bustle and hurry of life. As it was,
he just drifted.
He shook his head.
"There was only one thing that might have put
some ginger into me," he answered. "You know when
the old war was on how knocked I was because I
could n't pass into the army, not even into one of the
bantam battalions I Well, that put the peter on it, I
think. I was n't a bit of use then when I wanted to be,
and now I never shall be. I'm sorry, father. You're
such a blessed good chap."
A forlorn feeling descended on Caister. He loved the
boy; yet neither his love for Denis nor Denis's love for
him' — such as it was — could make a man of him.
Such pitiless cognisance of his limitations as Denis
eiq)ressed left little hope for him. But Caister was sen-
sitive and too wise a father to show how hardly the
confession hit him. Moreover, S3nnpathy overshadowed
his disapproval. He reverted to the subject of Rose.
Denis listened to the lecture with remarkable docil-
ity. "You're right every time," he said when it was
over. "The girl didn't deserve that treatment from
me. I was a bit out of hand at the time or I should n't
have beiiaved like a cad. As you've guessed, she's a
decent little creature. Good as gold. You want me to
apologise? What a trump you are, father I Come on,
theni What shall I say? " ^
The short letter which Caister had brought in person
and Rose had just read was the result, and had marked
the termination of that interview.
. Now she thanked him for it and again enquired
66 ROSE O' THE SEA
after Denis. He answered with reserve, so that she
divined that he was deeply troubled.
" I 'm so sorry," she said gently. " You were n't angry
with him, were you? You promised me you would n't
"I wasn't angry."
"No, but you're sad."
He did not reply to that. It was as if she had placed
the healing touch of cool fingers on an aching wound.
"He's my only son, you see," he explained. "Only
sons are precious to an old name and an old house —
and an old man."
"I don't mean to be inquisitive," she pursued, "only
— I can't bear to see any one look unhappy. Are n't
there wajrs of helping him? "
"To be good."
"Suppose he doesn't want to be good," he pro-
"Not to please his own mother? "
"He has n't a mother."
"Poor Denis I" She used the Christian name uncon-
sciously, forgetting herself.
Caister echoed her sigh.
Rose was following up her own line of thought.
"The best way to be good," she said sanely, speak-
ing slowly in an attempt to express herself, "is to love
good things. Nature first of all. As long as you love
Nature, you can't go very far wrong. If — if I was
Denis's father — I would begin all over again with
him. Oh, please forgive me ! I ought n't to have said
that. It sounds like advice ! "
ROSE O' THE SEA 67
But Caister was not in the least offended. He turned
to her almost eagerly. At any rate, he could believe in
her goodness and credit her for the natural wisdom
that lay at the root of it.
"If you will tell me exactly what you think about
Denis and how I might help him, I shall be very grate-
ful to you," he said.
She responded to his appeal and sat down on the
rickety chair opposite him. Her face was sweetly
"Denis talks a lot," she said. "Just whatever comes
into his head. But he did n't mention he had n't a
mother. That explains a lot. I grew up wild myself, but
in a different way. It was a way that made me 3trong
I lived out of doors. And I expect he was brought
up mostly in a house because he was delicate, and so
the wild part that is in everybody could n't get out of
him in the ordinary way. Do you know what I mean? "
"You mean he never had half a chance. I am afraid
you are right. I was a very young man when Denis
was bom. In my grief at his mother's death I left him
to an elderly aunt and nurses. I suppose you consider
that was a mistake."
He found himself deferring to her opinion as though
she were a being infinitely wiser than himself.
"It seems a mistake to me," she told him. "If I had
a dear little delicate baby to look after" (her eyes
grew very soft) "I would n't listen to any one's advice
about the best way to bring him up. I should let Nature
tell me that. I 'd let the sim and the wind and the rain
and the sea-breezes make him fine and strong. It's life>
being out of doors. I never had a mother either: only
the earth; the sea, and the sky. I love them all."
68 ROSE O' THE SEA
The expression on Caister's face had become ahnost
reverent. Here, in this poor room, made pleasant only
by the nature-touch in it, the plenitude of flowers, he
was being vouchsafed a precious glimpse of the most
holy thing life can show — the tender, unspoilt purity
of a young girl's soul.
"And so," she pursued earnestly, "even now I
would try the same plan if I were you. I would treat
any grown-up person who had n't worked out right as
I would a little delicate baby. I would teach Denis to
love every out-of-doors thing, and all the rest would
come in time. His spirit would get strong then."
In her whole-hearted desire to be of some use, Rose
had entirely forgotten herself.
Caister stood up. He could not tell her then and
there how greatly her brave words had invigorated
"Thank you," he said, and then paused. "Suppose
I asked you to help me — and him? What would you
The disappointment and hopelessness in his eyes —
and they were young eyes — stirred Rose's heart.
There was magic in the moment. She was dimly aware
of it. It swayed her, caught her up. It was as if the
Ideal Knight of all girlish romance had become real,
was present, and was seekmg to ride out with her upon
a great adventure.
She gave him her hand — both hands. It was her
way to give with both hands.
"I would do anything to help you," she answered
And, like a knight of old, Caister bent over her
hands. His lips just touched them.
ROSE O' THE SEA 69
His wa5 the fine, tempered spirit that could rightly
appreciate the spiritual wonder and richness of hers.
He was conscious of a new stimulus, an added strength
and hope. For now he felt that an angel stood by his
side to help him battle for his boy, Denis — and the
Late in the afternoon, while Caister was out, Denis
got up and decided to dress. Bed suddenly bored him*
Nothing in the world seemed worth doing. What a
waste of time it all was! Just existing!
He wondered what other fellows felt like who
weren't tired in mind and body as he was; those
strenuous chaps who made a fetish of keeping fit
and playing hard games that made a fellow sweat:
men of his father's stamp, devotees of the cold tub,
sound m wind and limb. Denis sighed, conscious of
his own weaknesses. It struck him that he looked
rather a ridiculous figure as he stood there before the
cheval glass in his silk embroidered pyjamas and a
bulging, discoloured nose. He touched it tenderly. Not
until the swelling had gone down would he be able
to go out.
He had a tepid bath, with half a pint of lavender-
water emptied into it; anointed his hair with "Flowers
of Honey"; had his nails polished; dressed, and went
downstairs. After all, if he had only known it, he was
not an ill-looking lad. He had grace, the aristocratic
charm conferred by centuries of inherited good-
breeding, a certain likeableness.
He picked up a book to beguile the monotony, a
treatise on the military art, the only subject in which
he took an intelligent interest. But he put it down
almost at once. Was n't he a C-3 chap? They had n't
had any use for him when he had been ready, heart
p»d soul; to be of js^rvic^. TJx^it i^ct had bitten deeper
ROSE O' THE SEA 71
into Denis than anything else. It had pushed him a
little farther along the perilous road where men slide
instead of walk with firm step and confidence.
The rather dismal trend of his thoughts was inter-
rupted by the imexpected opening of the drawing-room
door. A footman annoimced: "Miss Vivienne Ray-
A sprightly little person ran into the room, embraced
the surprised Denis, and took "Centre Stage," as it
were. She was extremely pretty and exactly like an
overdressed doll. Her frock might have been quite the
thing in a refrue; as a street or even a house gown it
was altogether out of place. Vivienne liked to pose as
an English edition of Mile. Gaby des Lys; and like all
translations (and most imitations) her defidendes
were more apparent than her abilities. She was vulgar
where she meant to be chic, outri instead of artistic.
Her only real attractions were her youth and a certain
Denis, although he had not expected a visit from her,
was delighted she had come. Her exdtability and ap-
parently inexhaustible good spirits stimulated him,
much as several glasses of champagne would have done.
But he did not know her sufSidently well to understand
that her cumulative effect would be as headachy as
the aforesaid champagne. However, she was exactly
the right person for his present mood.
"I got your note," she beamed. "You made me fed
quite anxious about you, dear old thing."
"Jolly glad to see you," he rejoined. "But what on
earth put it into your head to come here? You have n't
met my father, have you? This is his house, you know,
72 ROSE O' THE SEA
'' Thought it was about time he got to know his
future daughter-in-law," was the serene reply.
Denis looked slightly apprehensive.
"Oh, come, Viv, we have n't got as far as that!" he
She alighted on the arm of his sofa, like a piece of
"How far have we got? Last time I saw you, you said
I was the only girl you could ever dream of tacking on
to for life."
"You did, dear boy!"
Denis thought it best not to contradict her. He was
addicted to saying a lot of stupid things and then for-
getting all about them. Girls like Vivienne seemed to
have extraordinarily good but embarrassing memories.
"I Ve no doubt you'd make an excellent little wife,"
he admitted; "but I'm not good enough for you. Most
days I'm only half alive, to begin with."
"I'd soon wake you up! I've no blue blood in my
veins, you know, Denny. Mine's the liquid carmine
sort. That's why I appeal to you, I expect. Force of
contrast. At any rate, if you like to marry me some old
day, I'd make life worth while for you."
"Well, we'd go about everywhere where there was
lots of life; and I'd dress to beat the band."
"You do that already. What's your frock supposed
to be to-day? Been looting an ostrich farm?"
"Something like that. Feathers are a lovely fashion,
I think. There's only two yards of material in this
frock. The rest is all dickies' tails. Forty-five guineas it
ROSE O' THE SEA 73
cost. If I had n't been an actress it would have been
There was a trifling pause. Then Denis said:
"You know, we happen to be awfully poor. Ours is
one of the most impoverished baronies in the kingdom.
The guv'nor's done a lot to pull things together since
he came into the title, but I Ve been almost as much of
an expense to him as an extravagant wife, and far more
"Oh, I expect he's got a bit over and to spare. You
need n't worry about me, anyway. When I can't have
a new frock I can plaster the old one with the family
jewels, and take the shine out of other people that way.
You 'd better talk to your dad about me. But what have
you been doing to your nose? Scrapping?"
"No, I told you in the letter that I'd had a fall."
"Did you fall or were you pushed?" enquired Miss
Raymond with more acuteness than tact.
"Oh — himting!" he answered a little savagely.
Miss Raymond pursed her lips and shook an admoni-
tory finger at him. Her manicured nail winked like a
"Oh, Denis! I'm not such a booby as to take that
In! A fall out hunting in August! You need n't tell me.
I can jolly well guess how it happened."
" The deuce you can I Oh, well, I 'm much better now.
Though it was n't worth it."
"What was n't?"
"To tell you the truth, I met a girl and took her
"Well? Did n't she like you?"
" Can't say that she did quite. She was — a quiet
74 ROSE O' THE SEA
Miss Raymond suppressed a giggle. ''But a bit sav-
age, I suppose. Oh, Denny, why not be true to me
alone? Quiet girls are n't a bit in your line. You want
some one amusing and lively like me."
"I believe I do," he said with honest conviction.
" Go and sing something, Viv."
Vivienne — she really wa? an obliging little soul,
half minx, half schemer, not altogether bad, only bad
taste — sat down at the grand piano and struck a diord.
At the piano in real life as well as on the stage, she
had "a way with her." She was not in the least musical,
and her small voice had a perceptible Cockney twang.
Nevertheless, to any one of easy taste she was very
appealing and entertaining. She was worth the thirty
poimds a week which her manager paid her. Denis could
listen to her for hours, whereas a real lover of music
would have sujffered untold agonies from her perform-
She was in the midst of a spirited music-hall song
when Caister opened the door and stood still listening
in amazement. He had never seen this young person
before, on or oS the stage, and, taking stock of her be-
fore either she or Denis was aware of his entrance, he
was quite sure that he would never want to see her
again. Quickly and correctly, he guessed that she be-
longed to the stage. EquaUy quickly and very thor-
oughly, he disapproved of her.
Not necessarily because she was an actress. He was
not a narrow-minded man. Lady Chalf ont, for instance,
to whom Rose's landlady had made allusion that
afternoon, was one of his dearest friends: almost as
dear a friend as Lord Chalfont himself. She also, as
Miss Maggy Delamere, had been on the stage. In the
ROSE O' THE SEA 75
Pall Mall Chorus, in fact. But Maggy happened to be
simplicity personified, a law imto herself, and a great
law at that. She was one in a thousand, lovely and rare
as few women are. The girl at the piano was a little
person in stature and mind, incapable of self-improve-
ment and therefore socially impossible. Caister was
certain of it. He had summed her up at oUce. He had
but just come from an atmosphere of flowers and fra-
grance, albeit in a King's Cross sliun, and the presence
of this overscented, overdressed girl at the piano filled
him with resentment.
Denis, quite animated now, was beating time with
feet and hands.
"By Gad, Viv!"he cried. "You're simply It! Don't
stop! Go on!"
But Vivienne, some sixth sense directing her eyes,
was suddenly conscious of her audience of two.
"Oh, my!" she exclaimed in consternation.
Denis turned and saw his father.
"Didn't expect you in so soon, sir," he faltered.
" Vivienne, this is my father. Miss Raymond — Lord
Vivienne got off the music-stool, all airs and graces.
"I was just telling Denis it was about time we
ran across each other," she observed with assurance.
"Pleased to meet you."
Apparently Caister did not see her outstretched
hand. Nothing daunted, she proceeded conversation-
" Charming house you 've got. Bit more roomy than
my flat. Just a shade too stiff, though. It wants a
woman's touch. Any one can see bachelors live here*
I '11 soon put that right when I 'm the Honourable Mrs.
76 ROSE O' THE SEA
Denis. We 'II have some knickknacks sprinkled about,
and silver frames and mascots. I say, you 're not cross
about anything, are you? You're looking at me as if
I were a powder without jam. Are n't you going to ask
me to stay to dinner? I 'm at a loose end this Sunday
because of Denny's variegated nose. Otherwise we'd
be out somewhere."
Caister let his eyes (they were like fire behind steel
bars) rest for a niioment on her pretty, cheeky little
face. His mouth was set as Denis had only once be-
fore seen it, and that was when he had received the
only thrashing of his life at his father's hands. That
set look affected even Vivienne. Her eyes dropped
before it. The disapproval it conveyed was so very
"I am sorry to appear inhospitable," he answered
icily. "But I am engaged, and Denis will soon be going
badk to bed."
" Going to put him there yourself without any sup-
per because he 's a naughty little boy? "
He did not respond to this ill-timed attempt at hu-
mour. It was a new experience to the volatile Vivienne.
She was in the habit of always hearing her sallies ap-
plauded, however futile. The instinctive dislike that
Denis's father evinced irritated her, stimulated her to
create a further impression.
She squared up to him, as it were.
"You don't like me, do you? I'm not a bad little
thing really. At least, that's what every one tells me.
Denis and I are great friends. Why won't you make the
best of me and be a sport? There's no harm in me. I
don't bite. But perhaps you don't Uke actresses."
Caister had not the faintest intention of entering'into
ROSE O' THE SEA 77
an exposition of his likes or dislikes either towards
her or her profession. Nor could he bring himself to be
polite to her. He felt too angry. Every day, almost
every hour, Denis was springing a fresh d^ppoint-
ment of one kind or another on him. There had been
that episode when he had brought a bookmaker home
to lunch; another when he had invited a professional*
"strong man" to dine. Those had been comparatively
boyish pranks. Truth to tell, Caister would almost
rather have entertained the "strong man" than Miss
Vivienne Raymond with her meretricious attractions
and unreposeful eyes.
Vivienne began to feel a little awkward at his con-
tinued silence. He was a nobleman of the old school,
cramful of dignity, she supposed. She preferred the
younger generation: a boy like Denis, for instance, who
looked an aristocrat, but did n't behave lik6 one.
All this while Denis had said nothing. His father's
cold scorn was gaUing him.
"Have n't you anything to say to Vivienne, father? "
he at last asked fretfully.
Vivienne shrugged her shapely shoulders.
"I don't think I want to stay after all, Denis," she
said, angry at having failed to create an effect. "But
if you'd like to come and see me" — she turned to
Caister — "my address is 105, Tremayne Mansions,
Maida Vale. You'll probably feel more like talking
when my engagement to Denis is announced. . . ; You
need n't trouble to shake hands."
She brushed past him with her head in the air, all her
ostrich-feather trimming ashake.
Her exit was not without theatrical effect, but she
marred it by shutting the door noisily behind her.
yS ROSE O' THE SEA
Denis got up. He had grown pale with excitement
and, rarer still with him, anger.
Caister remained where he stood. Not until he heard
the hall door shut did he speak.
''Now/' he said, "we'll talk."
Denis put his hands in his pockets. Something of Vi-
vienne's jaunty demeanour seemed to have communi-
cated itself to him. His was a curiously contradictory
nature. Generally speaking, he adored his father, would
have given anything to be like him, and would listen
to the earnest counsel or censure handed out to him in
a chastened spirit. For he knew he was " no bally good,"
and regretted the fact exceedingly without making any
conspicuous effort to amend his ways.
But in the matter of Vivienne he felt affronted and
not in the mood to be lectured. His rather weak mouth
took on a determined line also. Temporarily it strength-
ened his coimtenance, gave it character, as well as a
certain resemblance to his father's.
Instead of waitiag for the attack he expected, he an-
ticipated it, went halfway to meet it. Hitherto, the at-
tribute with which Rose had mentally credited him,
that of chivalry, had remained dormant within him.
Now for the first time he felt the sparks of knightli-
ness kindling within him on behalf of a far less worthy
lady. He couldn't understand himself. Until a few
seconds back he had only considered Vivienne as an
amusing little thing. Now he felt constrained to defend
her, to sing her praises.
"I don't like to see you treat a friend of mine
cavalierly," he said truculently. "After all, I'm not a
schoolboy. I 'm a man. You looked at and spoke to Vi-
vienne as though she were a scullery-maid who had no
8o ROSE O' THE SEA
business in the drawing-room. I did n't like it and I
must say so."
For a moment Caister said nothing. He was trying
hard to keep himself in hand. Only a little while back
he had left Rose with his heart full of toleration and
love for Denis. He had entered the house meaning to
make a fresh start with the boy, actively to help him
in every possible way. Vivienne had upset all that. She
had so palpably shown that Denis was her property and
that she meant to annex him. Would there be time for
the suave measures which Rose had counselled? The
crisis in Denis's affairs that had so suddenly developed
seemed beyond her inexperienced advice. It would have
to be dealt with simunarily.
Before answering, Caister went to the windows and
opened them wide. The air of the room seemed to him
to be pervaded with the scent Vivienne had brought
in with her. He could not know that, accidentally, she
had upset a whole bottle of concentrated essence over
herself, with the result that she diffused an aroma that
put RxEnmel's shop into the shade.
"Look here, Denis " — he spoke with deadly quiet-
ness — "you know as well as I do that you've taxed
my patience to the utmost. I 've given you every con-
sideration, and I 've not received very much in return
from you. But when it comes to your entertaining in
my house ayoimg womanof whom no one could possibly
approve, much less like, I must definitely make a stand.
It won't do. This room was your mother's. I intend
to see that you respect her memory. Had she been
alive you would not have dared to bring that girl
"If she had been alive I might not have wanted to/'
ROSE O' THE SEA 81
Denis retorted with heat. "The place would n't have
been so infernally dull. What sort of a life do you think
it is for a chap to sit indoors night after night without
a woman's face to look at? Never to hear a woman's
voice! Just to be bored stiff all day long! You've stood
it all these years: I don't know how. It does n't seem
to have made any difference to you. You 've filled in the
gaps in your life with politics, travel, and sport; books
and music. None of those things are in my line. I 'm just
empty ; not much soul, precious little brain, no phy-
sique. But a fellow 's got to do something, and by Gad I
I 'm going to do it at last. I think I must have made up
my mind when you came in and found Vivienne sing-
ing. I 've drifted so far ; gone with the stream. Now I 'm
going to strike out on my own. I'm going to see if I
can't enjoy something somehow. And the only girl to
teach me how to do it is Vivienne. She said so herself.
I shall marry her, and you can wash your hands of me
if you like." With the last words his tone changed.
There was a touch of unaccustomed emotion in what
followed. "I've never talked like this to you be-
fore, father, and I don't suppose I ever shall again.
Something in me seems to have snapped. I've gone
a step forward or perhaps one back. It does n't signify
"But it does signify," Caister insisted. "It's got to
matter. With God's help, I'm going to make a man
of you, Denis."
Denis's lip curled slightly.
"It's a bit too late in the day. I don't blame you,
father, but I don't blame myself either, altogether.
Looking back at my life, I don't seem to have been
given a dog's chance. There was I — a kid — brought
82 ROSE O' THE SEA
up by an old woman and a still older nurse. Swaddled
up with clothes, dosed with patent foods, kept in a hot-
house. No wonder I was too delicate for either a prepar-
atory or public school to have some sense knocked into
me. No wonder I Ve arms and legs Uke pipestems, and
a perpetual thirst. Hot rooms; no blessed air! I remem-
ber when I was a httle fellow I was always sweating.
It was a martyrdom of sorts, worse for a kid than
unkindness. You did n't get rid of the old woman and
take me in hand till the last tutor had cleared out.
It was too late then to undo all the harm. It's too
late now. Just let me rip. You made a mistake. They
made a mistake. Result, I 'm a mistake. Why worry?
The smnmary of his own life and the error of it was
pitilessly true. Rose, with intuitive accuracy, had put
her finger on the same weak spot. The boy had been
brought up all wrong. He was more victim than sin-
ner. Caister's anger, generally short-lived, petered out.
After aU, it was Vivienne who had incensed him to
start with. She was a little thing who patently knew
what she was about; the type of girl who through train-
ing and environment set her cap at young men such as
Denis as representing the pinnacle of social ambition.
He might have to be hard on Denis for a while to save
him from himself, or rather, from that girl. But first
of all he 'd try reason.
"Suppose I admit my mistake," he said. " I ought
not to have left you to elderly women when you were
small. It was, I see now, a handicap. Well, my dear boy,
if you don't care about yourself, won't you give me a
chance to help you for my own sake? "
ROSE O' THE SEA 83
" We might begin by cutting out town life altogether.
For a time, at any rate."
" The 'back to the land' stunt? I should fizzle out
completely. The little flower-shop girl was talking
about that just before she knocked me into a cocked
hat." A cogitative expression came into Denis's face.
"Fresh air and all that! I couldn't live on it. Golf,
gardening, fishing — catching trout! All I should
catch would be a beastly cold. Really, father, this talk
does n't lead anywhere. The best thing I can do is to
set up an establishment of my own. Then we shan't
always be treading on each other's toes." He moved
slowly towards the door.
Caister stood considering.
"You said just now you felt the lack of a woman
about the place," he remarked. "You're rather yoimg,
but I should n't stand in the way of your marrying — a
Denis turned about. His animation had fizzled out
with his indignation. Hang it all, his father meant
well. A fellow could n't get away from that.
"It's no use, father," he said wearily. "I'm twenty-
three. I 've been about town for three years. I 've been
introduced to every debutante in London. Some of them
would n't look at me and others would. But you can take
it from me that girls are n't what they were in your
time. They don't help a chap along. They model them-
selves on chorus girls without being half so amusing.
You 've met a good many of them here and there.
Now I ask you, can you think of any one girl of your
own or my acquaintance, who you could stake your
life was good right through — out and out?"
For a moment Caister did not answer. He was think-
84 ROSE O' THE SEA
ing. Then, as though in answer to his thoughts, there
came into his mind the vision of one girl neither
d6butante nor actress — a pink-frocked girl in a flower-
filled room — a girl who had given him both her hands
together with her promise . . .
" Yes," he answered decisively. " I cai^"
Thoughts of Rose were just then exercising the minds
of a good many people besides Caister. Even so insig-
nificant a personage as the yoimgest lift-boy at Gard-
ner's, who worshipped her in secret and thought her far,
far more beautiful than Miss Mary Pickford, hitherto
his ideal of feminine beauty, carried the picture of
Rose in his mind and heart.
There was Caister, formulating dim plans in which
she was to figure; Mr. Louie dreaming dreams of her;
Mrs. Louie praying that those same dreams might for
his sake be fulfilled; Mr. Britton still full of conjec-
ture concerning that perfect double row of pearls; Mrs.
Bell, the landlady, building baronial castles in the air
for her pretty lodger.
Even in dreamy little self-centred Polseth Rose's
sudden departure from its midst was still the subject
of conjecture and discussion. Indeed, Mrs. Bree, the
Vicar's wife, alluded to it daily.
^*I never cease wondering," she remarked to her
husband, " what has happened to Rose. She was a head-
strong girl, Ambrose, but I cannot help feeling rather
worried about her. If I 'd had the slightest idea that
she was premeditating flight, I would have done my
best to guide her in the right direction, and keep her
with us. It is over two months now since she went
The Vicar shook his head.
"I am very much afraid we shall neither hear of nor
see the child again," he said. "I fear that offer pf
86 ROSE O' THE SEA
domestic service frightened her, Mary. Perhaps we
did not put it at the right — the most propitious —
moment, although we meant it for the best. We might
have oflfered her hospitality for a little while. Looking
back on things, I think that would have been the wiser
course. She was grief-stricken, hardly aware of what
she was doing."
"Oh, well, she walked to the station and took a sin-
gle ticket to London. I try to console myself with the
reflection that if she had the sense to do that, she may
have been able to look after herself in other ways.
But where could she have gone? She had no money to
speak of and no friends, as we know."
"She would make friends. Her face would do that
for her, anywhere. An imusually beautiful young girl,
A censorious look came into Mrs. Bree's face. She
was one of those over-rigid women who are apt to con-
sider physical beauty as a snare rather than a delight.
"Rather unnecessarily so, in my opinion. She was
so noticeably attractive, Ambrose. Even dressed as a
maid in neat black she would have looked extremely
imusual and out of place. However, that does not alter
the fact that it was our duty to succour her to the best
of our ability. She must have been absolutely lost in
London, as adrift as a — a savage. What means could
she have of earning a livelihood in a great city? I
thought of going to London myself to look for her, but
I should n't know how to start about it or where to
look. She might at least have written to us and allayed
our natural anxiety."
"Perhaps it never occurred to her that we should be
anxious," suggested the Vicar, a little cynically. "Old
ROSE O' THE SEA 87
Rebecca Gryls might know something of her. It might
be worth while asking her. Have you seen her lately? "
"No. Last time I was her way I left some soup out-
side the window and called to her. Really, I'm a little
afraid of her. Her cats are so fierce and she herself is so
extremely like a witch that one can't wonder at her
reputation. Still, if you care to go we might walk over
and see her now. There 's no time like the present. And
as the hens have commenced laying again we can take
her some eggs."
In material things Mrs. Bree was charitably inclined.
If she had only combined that same charity with the
divine leaven of sympathy she would have achieved a
great deal more in a life which she honestly wished to
make purposeful and good.
It was a long walk to Becky's eyrie on the crags, a
stone-built hut perched desolately high and exposed
to every wind and all weathers. Becky, as a girl, had
gloried in the elements. Now that she was an old
woman there was no sound she liked better than the
thunder of a heavy sea and the riot of a great gale.
A wild old woman! So old and solitary had she be-
come that himian voices got on her nerves. All but
Rose's, and Rose had flown. Towards other people,
including the Vicar and his wife, her attitude was
either indifferent or inimical.
But Mrs. Bree did not intend to be put off to-day.
On their way to Becky's they passed the cottage in
which Rose and her adopted father had lived for so
many happy years. A new tenant had taken possession
of it a few days ago. The garden was overgrown; weeds
flourished amongst the flowers. Nightshade and cuckoo-
plant and a trailing wild creeper twined themselves
88 ROSE O' THE SEA
amongst stocks, jessamine, passion-flower, and honey-
suckle, — a sad garden thathad once been aglad garden,
gay and tended. Rose had left it.
''It seems difficult to imagine that child without a
garden," said Mr. Bree. "How she loved it! Every-
thing seemed to flourish imder her hand. Her flowers
were a delight to the eye. I reproach myself that we did
not take more care of her." He shook his head and
Mrs. Bree echoed the sigh. She reproached herself,
too, though she was slower to admit it.
"We might have had more influence with her if old
Mr. Eton had not been so strange in his ways," she
said. "I often wonder about him. I heard cook say the
other day that some one had seen the name of a town
— Deepville, Connecticut, I think it was — on a box-
label of his."
"Sounds American," Mr. Bree remarked. "He was
a mystery, and likely to remain one, I should say."
"I think it was wrong of him to adopt Rose when
he must have known he would not be able to provide
for her after his death. It's really dreadful to think of
her left stranded."
They pursued their own none too comfortable
thoughts until after half an hour's hard walking they
reached Becky's cottage.
Becky happened to be in one of her most unap-
proachable moods. The weight of years was a burden
to her, a burden that even God Himself seemed to have
forgotten to lift. It lay heavily on her to-day. But the
tiny room for once in a way was not foul with the smell
of smoke from her cutty pipe. It was, on the contrary,
actually redolent of flowers. On her bed there lay a
ROSE O' THE SEA 89
great cardboard box heaped with them — arum lilies,
malmaisons, roses such as even the Vicar, whose hobby
they were, could not aspire to grow.
"From Rose," mumbled old Becky, nodding her
head. "Rose don't forget an old woman who can't get
out o' bed. She will be walking on rose-petals soon, for
the rest of her lovely life. What's that you're saying,
sir? Do I know where she be? How should I know? "
"We hoped you might have heard from her. She
was often with you. She has sent you flowers, you say.
Was there no letter enclosed? " Mrs. Bree interrogated.
Becky shook her head, not once but several times,
after the fashion of those china mandarins which, once
started, keep up an enduring oscillation.
"Rose don't like writing, and I don't like reading.
She knows I can't see with my old eyes; only here."
She touched her forehead. "There's nothing but my
address writ on the box. Perhaps you'd put them in
water for me, ma'am. They've lain here without a drop
to wet their stalks all day."
Mrs. Bree readily performed the required office.
She half hoped she would come across a piece of paper
on which Rose might have scribbled her love and ad-
dress. But Rose's love had been sent unwritten with
the flowers. There was nothing to be seen.
"Ca»'/ you tell us where she is?" urged Mrs. Bree
again. "Think, now."
Old Becky's eyes looked mistily into space.
"I can see her right enough," she chanted. "I can
see her in marble halls with her little head held high
and jewels all about her, dressed in satin like the little
queen she is, and a train all a-sweeping on the ground,
but — she '5 not there yet and you wanHfind her neither J ^
90 ROSE O' THE SEA
She shut her mouth like a rat-trap after that and
refused to be drawn. She seemed to fall asleep. Per-
haps it was her way of terminating the interview.
A little discouraged, the Vicar and his wife bade the
old woman good-night and started for home.
As they passed Rose's cottage again, a voice hailed
them. It came from Charles Treffy, the new tenant.
"Parson! Parson!" he called.
The couple retraced their steps.
Treffy held out an envelope.
"I found this half an hour back, sir," he said. "I was
a-coming,to the vicarage after tea to give it up. 'T was
in the old fixed cupboard over the parlour chimney-
piece in a drawer at the back I 'd never have thought of,
but it opened with a spring accidental-like. I reckon
it's best in your care, parson. There's a will inside."
The envelope was unsealed.
Mr. Bree put on his spectacles. From the envelope
he took a sheet of paper. The few lines written on it
were signed, dated, and witnessed.
This is the last will and testament of we, Charles Henry
Eton ofPolseth, I bequeath everything of which I die possessed
to my adopted daughter, Rose Eton, absolutely.
"But had he anything to leave?" debated Mrs. Bree
who had been reading over his shoulder. "And how
shall we find Rose?"
Her husband replaced the will in its envelope.
"That," he said, "will be for the lawyer in Trethew
Lady Chalfont was one of those really busy people
who are nevertheless always accessible to their friends,
A few minutes since, Caister — " Bob " as she affection-
ately called him — had rung her up on the telephone.
He wanted her advice. There had been a worried note
in his voice. She had detected it over the wire, and was
instantly concerned on his account.
To Maggy (familiarly so called by her intimate
friends), with her universal sympathy and great heart,
he often brought his troubles about Denis. When the
Chalfonts were in town their house was like a second
home to him. Maggy, although she was a great lady in
the land now, was above all a home-maker. It seemed
impossible to associate her with the stage. She was so
entirely devoid of artificiality, so modest and withal
so untheatrical. She was loved by every one, young
and old. Her social as well as her stage career had cul-
minated in triumph. In time to come somebody would
assuredly write her biography and so hand down her
memory, beautiful and bewitching, to posterity.
She was a contradiction to almost every rule: not a
patrician, yet she behaved as though she were. She was
not even educated according to ordinary standards;
her culture was her own. She was impulsive, yet she
always said and did the right thing in her own inimi-
table Maggyesque way. Lord Chalfont, quiet, re-
served, the very antithesis of herself, adored her.
When .Caister called on her that afternoon in St.
James's Square she was alone, waiting for him. Alone,
92 ROSE O' THE SEA
that is, except for her son and heir, a year-old baby
boy; "Mrs. Slightly," a cat of humble origin; and
"Onions," an exceedingly well-behaved but mongrel
dog. All three shared the big white bearskin hearthrug
with happy impartiality. The cat was licking the dog;
the baby lay gurgling on its back. Maggy watched
them with an expression of perfect beatitude.
The very sight of Maggy soothed Caister. It struck
him as so xmusually restful to see some one deliberately
happy in a perfectly natural way. Most people in their
desperate effort to be joyful so frequently upset the
serenity of others.
Maggy gave him a wide, pleasant smile.
"Will you join the glad throng on the hearthrug, or
share the sofa with me?" she asked. "We're going to
have a nice confab-y afternoon and no one shall in-
terrupt us except Chalf ont. You 're horribly bothered
about something, are n't you? I got an irLkling of it
over the 'phone, and saw it directly you came in. It's
about Denis, of course." She slid her hand into his and
gave it a friendly squeeze. "Now, tell me, what is his
"'Departure' expresses it exactly," he said. "He
definitely wants to leave me. That's not all. Lots of
young men and women of to-day seem anxious to quit
the family roof-tree. Denis's independence is not of
that order. He does n't want to live alone. In fact, he 's
talking about getting married."
Lady Chalfont considered.
"Marriage," she remarked tritely but earnestly, "is
the salvation of a great many people. It made me want
to be a good woman. I 've been trying to live up to the
standard ever since."
ROSE O' THE SEA 93
"You are a good woman. The trouble is, that the
girl Denis talks of marrying is not good. No doubt
you Ve heard of her — Miss Vivienne Raymond."
Maggy's eyebrows went up. Once, long ago, she had
been acquainted with the lively Vivienne. Now,
Maggy's tastes had always been eclectic, but Vivienne
had outraged them.
"That's a pity," she said quietly. "He mustn't
marry her. Bob. I don't like saying hard things of any
girl, but she's pretty hopeless."
"What do you know about her?"
"Only little things — little things that coimt in tell-
ing character, at any rate. We shared a dressing-room
once, six of us : show girls. Vivienne was one. So I got
to know her pretty well. She 's rather clever, but her
mind's got a kink. It's little, to match herself, and
She did n't go into particulars, and Caister did not
ask her to do so. It was sufficient for him that Maggy's
opinion of the girl endorsed his own. He would have
been loath to misjudge anybody.
"Mind you," Maggy continued speculatively, "I
would n't say she is n't fond of Denis. I should n't be
surprised if she were. The worst of us have a soft spot
somewhere. Let's give her credit for that, auyway.
The bother is. Bob, that even if she loved a man she
would n't make him a good wife. It's not in her. And
she has ways that no white man could stand after a
bit. No sense of honour. That 's as hopeless in its way
as being bom without a sense of hmnour. You can't
graft it on. She'd help herself out of anybody's make-up
box without putting back what she took, and then
swear it was hers. And the same way with other
94 ROSE O' THE SEA
things — a man or even jewellery. She 'd end up by
making Denis wish he 'd never been bom."
She was very definite, absolutely serious.
"The best thing you can do is to go and see her
yourself," she said after a thoughtful pause. "Have it
out with her. Don't quarrel with her if you can help it.
"Find some nice ^rl for Denis and let them get
married quickly. If Denis loved Vivienne I would n't
talk like this. I'd say let things go on. But he can't
possibly love her. She only amuses him. If he had any
experience of the real thing he'd never bother about
imitations. Now, do you know any girl who would be
really good to him, fond of him, and keep him straight? "
" That 's the very thing I want to talk to you about,"
And he spoke of Rose. Maggy listened attentively
without once interrupting while he narrated what little
he knew of the girl, and how wonderfully she had im-
"I can't make her out," he finished. "As I've told
you, she's quite beautiful; she's absolutely herself,
and in my eyes charming. I gather she was brought up,
or rather Uved an untrammelled existence in a Cornish
village until a few months back. Since then she 's been
a florist at Gardner's. I can't describe her appearance
"Do you think Denis could love her?"
"I don't think any one could help loving her," he
answered after an appreciable pause. "In that sense
she's like you, Maggy, my dear."
Maggy thanked him with a smile.
ROSE O' THE SEA 95
"In short," she summed up, "in spite of the fact
that you 're conservative to the backbone, you 'd throw
your prejudices to the winds for Denis's sake, and let
him marry a girl of the people. That's great! I know
you've always looked on nUsaUiances — even the
happy ones — with a sort of cold aristocratic contempt.
You made an exception in my case, though, bless you.
Now about this girl. What's her name?"
"Rose — Rose Eton."
"Her name makes me want to like her from the
start. Where does she live?"
" 109, Sidey Street," said Caister with a half-smile.
"How quaint! My old address!"
"She has your very room, I believe."
"Poor little thing! Is the noisy old cistern still
"I think I saw one."
"And the shunter from King's Cross Station? He
had the room above. Mrs. Bell, the landlady, was n't
a bad soul, but I can tell you, it was pretty terrible in
the main, Bob. Cooking awful; noise and swearing in
the streets all night. It is n't easy to lead a lovely life
or to think lovely thoughts when you live in a slimi. I
was inured to a good deal in those days, but it was too
much for me in the end. So Denis went to see her there,
you say? "
" That 's a pity. He must have thought tt rather like
seeing a lily growing on a dust-heap. What she wants is
a fairy godmother. I wonder if there 's any magic left
in my wand!" She got up. "Look here, I think I'll go
and see her for myself right away. Will you wait till I
come back, and look after baby for me? If he cries, give
96 ROSE O' THE SEA
him anything he fancies off the silver table. I don't
think he will cry. He does n't often. He '11 curl up with
the animals and go to sleep. I won't be long. A bus will
get me there in no time. I used to have to save up my
pennies once for the bus."
She nodded cheerily, kissed her baby, patted the
dog, stroked the cat, and was gone.
Caister sat on, absorbed in thought. It was peaceful
in that cool but simlit room, homelike to a degree. On
a chair reposed Maggy's knitting. She insisted on
making all her baby's garments and the results of her
industry would have clothed a well-filled creche.
The dog and the cat curled up and drowsed. The
baby continued to make happy little noises' and play
with a shaft of sunlight.
By and by he whimpered.
Caister picked him up.
Rather to his surprise the baby made no demur, and
presently fell asleep, holding one big finger tightly in
its tiny grasp. He sat on supporting it with stiff arms,
hardly daring to move, so fearful was he of disturbing
it. The expression on his face was wonderfully soft.
Twenty-three years ago he had held just such
another scrap of humanity in his arms. Just twenty-
three years ago Denis had been a baby; helpless, pa-
thetic, motherless, so precious and so small ! And as
though they had been said yesterday, he heard again the
kindly words of the old Dean who had christened him:
"7 hope he will live to he a great blessing to you,^^
Caister looked down at the face of the sleeping child,
and memories brought a mist to his eyes.
Rose was at business when Maggy got to Sidey Street;
Mrs. Bell did not expect her back for another half-
hour. But she was overjoyed to see Maggy again. Her
pleasure at the unexpected encounter completely
swamped her awe of the preeminence to which her old
lodger had attained.
"Now, do come In, Miss Delamere — my lady,'*
she begged. "I was just taking tea in the parlour —
with shrimps for a relish. You was always partial to
shrimps. Could n't you fancy a few now, dear?"
Maggy laughed in her jolly, imaflfected way. "If
I had n't had lunch so late I'd have loved some. Do
you remember, Mrs. Bell, how you always bought me
shrimps for. a treat whenever I paid my bill? I hope
you 're equally kind to my successor. I 'm sorry she 's
out; I wanted to make friends with her."
" I 'm sure I 'm glad to hear it, for a nicer young lady
there could n't be. Nine weeks come Tuesday I 've had
her lodgin' here, payin' regular, aud givin' no trouble.
All the same" — Mrs. Bell lowered her voice confi-
dentially — "I'm worried about her. She ain't like
you was, if you '11 forgive me sayin' so : all for gaddin'
and playin' around and makin' everybody lively. Why,
after you left I got so lonesome I had to buy a gram-
merphone. Miss Eton don't take any stock in gram-
merphones or such-like. She's what you might call
"That's the word. Not stuck up with it, though.
98 ROSE O' THE SEA
but different from other girls. She ain't a Londoner to
start with. You can see that by the way she goes on
with flowers and seaweed."
"Seaweed?" wondered Maggy.
"Yes, seaweed. There was a piece we kep' in the 'all,
what I brought from Clacton last year. Well, she asked
me for it, and there, if you please, I found her in her
room after supper holdin' it to her nose and smellin' it,
and the tears nmnin' down her cheeks like as it might
'ave been a onion or her heart was breakin'."
"She 's lived by the sea all her life, I believe. Sailors
get like that: sick for the sight and the smell of it. Poor
"I did hope," Mrs. Bell pursued, "as she'd take up
with a boy, just to liven herself up a bit. But there!
as I've said, she've no more use for that sort of thing
than she had for my lovely grammerphone. Not that
she's always mopey, you'll understand. She'll sing
like a lark in its cage when the sim comes out; and other
times she 'U pine like a lark, because it 's a dark day.
Puts me in mind of a bird, she does. You take my
meanin', don't you, dearie — my lady?"
Maggy nodded. "Well, I won't keep you from your
tea, Mrs. Bell. May I wait in my — her room till she
Mrs. Bell would have preferred a gossip in the par-
lour, but, suddenly remembering her visitor's high
status, forbore to persuade.
At her own desire Maggy found her way to her old
room alone. Something of her old self, she felt, would
forever haunt it. Never, never in her life would she
forget the poverty-stricken days she had spent there.
Only to remember them made her hmnble in heart.
ROSE O' THE SEA 99
She sat down on the bumpy little bed that had re-
ceived her weary body night after night. How well
she remembered the groan that the springs gave out
when she got into it? It was a demon of a bed. One
had to be very, very tired and very young to be able
to court sliunber upon it.
It was hot in the room, although the small window
was wide open. Down in the street a fight seemed to
be in progress. In Sidey Street the inhabitants always
differed and generally settled their differences in the
roadway. Ugly words fell on Maggy's ears: words
such as she had not heard for years and never wanted
to hear again — words that sullied hiunan lips and
befouled the air. She craned her neck to look out of
the window. Two viragos were viciously quarrelling.
Several children, probably their own, were avidly
listening to the imlovely exhibition of imcontrolled
passions. A baby was crawling in the gutter.
Within a mile and a half or so was the quiet, well-
ordered square from which Maggy had set out, where
the pavements were clean and people did not fight:
not in public, at any rate. There it was easier to ob-
serve the amenities of life. In that square was a de-
lightful house, one of many delightful houses. It was
filled with beautiful things. A man who loved her
devotedly had given them all to her. Within that
house was a cool and sunlit nursery where a baby
played with fluffy, cuddly toys instead of crawling
in a gutter; and facing it was a green and leafy garden
wherein one might happily forget that one lived in the
heart of a great city ftdl of evil plague-spots known
It is not such a far cry from King's Cross to St.
loo ROSE O' THE SEA
James's, but the contrast is sharp and defined. Truly,
Maggy's lines had fallen in pleasant places.
Obeying, as she ever did, the impulse of the moment,
she knelt down by the side of the bed, and gave thanks
for the abundance that was hers. She was still on her
knees when Rose came into the room.
Maggy got up. She was no more ashamed of praying
than of kneeling in church.
Rose stood for a second a little bewildered, wonder-
ing who this beautiful creature could be. Then Maggy
came forward, put her hands on her shoulders and
"I'm Maggy Chalfont," she said. "And you're
Rose Eton, aren't you? We're going to be great
friends, I hope."
Although Rose had heard much about Lady Chal-
font from her landlady, this unlooked-for meeting
staggered her. Maggy, with her lovely frock and still
lovelier face, was like a being from another world.
And here she was, a great lady, smiling into her eyes,
holding her hands, treating her on terms of equality
and offering her friendship! It made Rose conscious
of how really lonely she had been. The people at Gard-
ner's were ever so nice; all the girls were kind to her,
especially Miss Hobbs; but they were outside her life,
somehow. Maggy in a moment had entered into it,
coloured and filled it. It was wonderful !
"I'm only a — a shopgirl," she said diffidently.
^^ Could you be friends with me?"
"/ was only an actress," said Maggy. "I lived here,
you know. I was just thanking God that I don't now,
when you came in. Only, most of the time I had another
girl to chum with. That made it endurable. Does n't
ROSE O' THE SEA loi
anybody come and see you? Don't you ever go out
after shop hours ? "
Rose shook her head. .
"I'm afraid to. This street wakes up at night and —
Maggy thoroughly understood. She knew.
"You mustn't go on living here," she asserted
categorically. "It's bad for any one who was n't born
or brought up in a slum. Souls can't grow in Sidey
Street. Mine nearly withered away and died." For a
moment her eyes grew tragic with the recollection of
the sorrows and humiUations that had come to her in
that little room. She made the resolve that Rose at
least should never find herself "up against it" as she
had, if she could help it. From that moment she de-
cided to take Rose under her wing. Maggy's spiritual
wings were ample and protective and always outspread.
She would if possible have shielded all the world from
sorrow and suffering.
She had sought Rose out in the first instance to
please Lord Caister. In a way, she had already guessed
at the half -formula ted plan in his mind: that Rose was
to work out Denis's salvation. Now she wanted to
befriend Rose for Rose's own sake. Maggy's^ affec-
tions were not of the surface description, but they
were bom in a moment. Love for a man, woman, child,
or dog would spring up in her heart at once, not re-
quiring time for growth. Rose appealed to her at every
point. She was so sweet to look at, to speak to; so un-
spoilt; worth rescuing from Sidey Street.
"Well, you 're going to have friends now," she prom-
ised. "Myself for one. Lord Caister is another. We
were talking about you this afternoon. In fact; he
102 ROSE O' THE SEA
made me so curious about you that I simply had to
come right away and see you for myself."
Over Rose's face there spread a beautiful, burning
flush. Her eyes lit up and shone like stars.
"Denis's father!" she said. "How proud I should
be if he really was my friend! It — it would make me
feel like a soldier who has won a medal."
"Then you may be proud. And when I've told you
all about him, you will be prouder still, my dear."
Rose came and sat beside her on the bed. Maggy
took her hand. As she held it she talked. In her direct,
simple way she told Rose all she knew of "Bob" and
his life; the sadness of it, the attainment of it, the glory
of it. He was everything that was fine. He had fought
in the Great War, had saved a friend's life in absolute
disregard of his own, was a "white man" all through.
"A great 'white man,'" she emphasised. "And all
his life he 's never thought of himself. I 've heard that
from my husband. He's lived for Denis. He's built
all his hopes on him. He's struggled with the estates
for him to make them pay; to leave him an unen-
cimibered heritage. He 's slaved for him. Only Denis
has n't worked out according to plan and it's breaking
his father's heart."
Rose was listening intently.
"I promised I'd help him," she said. "He asked me
to. But how can I? What use am I?"
Maggy did not offer an opinion. One day, perhaps,
Caister would tell Rose in what way she could be of
use. Would she falter and go back on her word? Maggy
wondered. It was a big thing to ask of the child. Could
she find it in her heart to love a weakling like Denis
and make him strong through that love?
ROSE O' THE SEA 103
As though in answer to her thoughts, Rose said:
"I had a dream last night. It was so real. I've not
been able to get it out of my head all day. It bothers
me. I dreamt I was climbing great cliffs, like I used to
at Polseth, only these cliffs were much higher, and
there was a terrible storm going on. The seas were —
smashing ! Then I was standing by Lord Caister's side
and some one was in the sea, drowning. He called out
that it was Denis, and dived in to save him. I saw him
struggling, and I could n't stand there seeing them both
drown. I can swim in almost any sea. So I dived in,
too, and reached them, and together we got Denis
in somehow . . ."
She stopped, labouring under the stress of her dream.
"Don't worry about a dream," said Maggy. "At any
rate, it's a good omen. You saved him between you,
"No, we didn't," Rose whispered. "We couldn't.
We — we did all we could, but he was — quite dead."
Maggy shivered. Imaginative herself, for a moment
it seemed to her as if the room had grown suddenly
chill. She gave herself an impatient little shake.
"Dreams always go by contraries," she said with
cheery optimism. "Once, during the war, I dreamt
that I was rationed for sleep and could n't find my
coupons. Silly, was n't it? I used to have nightmares
here in Sidey Street, too. Put your dream down to
Mrs. Bell's cooking, and forget it."
The telephone on Denis's dressing-table trilled im-
peratively. Vivienne, these days, seemed to be living
at the other end of it. She wanted Denis to take her
out to supper and on to a friend's flat afterwards
where there would be baccarat.
"Oh, but you must!" she exclaimed in a disap-
pointed tone. "What? Dining at Lady Chalfont's?
Cut it out."
But Denis for once was not to be cajoled. He never
refused an invitation from Maggy. A fellow never
got bored there. She was such good company.
To-night, however, he was to find her in a serious
mood, and alone. The two facts taken together por-
tended something unusual. Chalfont, he suspected,
was waiting in the drawing-room for them. Maggy had
received him in her boudoir.
Denis was always good-tempered with his father's
dose friend. He never resented her giving it to him
"straight from the shoulder." In fact, he generally
felt morally braced afterwards.
"You're like a tonic," he remarked, after he had
shaken hands. "If you could talk to me three or four
times a day before meals for a month, I should buck
up no end."
"Well, you 're going to have a good big dose now,"
she said. She was not smiling. **Look here, Denis,
from all accounts you're behaving very badly, and
Denis was making himself comfortable in a low
chair. He sat up a little.
ROSE O' THE SEA 105
"If you want to keep your friends, me included,"
pursued Maggy, " you'll have to take a pull. There
are all sorts of ways of going the pace, old son. You 're
not doing it like a gentleman/*
The aspersion made Denis wince. Maggy hastened
to apply a little salve.
"Now, I'm particularly qualified to advise you,
because I've never been an angel myself. I've seen
life, and I've had one or two knock-down blows. So
you can listen to me like a brother. Denis, what's the
sense in it all? — turning night into day, drinking,
card-playing; giving your best friends the go-by and
taking up with the wrong people. Girls, I mean. Some
of them who have the cheek to tack themselves on to
you in public are n't your friends. Don't you under-
stand that? They 're your enemies. If you 'd been under
fire out in Flanders it would n't, I suppose, have oc-
curred to you simply to walk up and surrender to the
Huns? You 'd have seen yourself shot first." She sighed.
"I'm sorry for you, Denis. If you'd been allowed to
play the game out there you might have learnt how to
do it here, because life is the biggest war-game there
is, and it goes on all the time. I would n't own myself
beaten at it for all the world. Where's your morale ?^^
Denis thought this out for a while.
"You talk jolly good sense. Lady Chalfont, dear,"
he said. "But you don't understand. You weren't
bom flabby, to start with. You don't wake up in the
morning feeling only nine carat. You don't wonder
how on earth you're going to siramion up enough
energy to get through the day. You 're always in tip-
top condition and full of beans, and it makes you
feel merry and bright. If anything happened to you,
io6 ROSE O' THE SEA
for instance, it would matter such a lot. Chalfont
adores you; your kiddie couldn't get along without
you; hundreds of people would feel a blank in their
lives if you went out. But I don't seem to have a place
in the book of life at all. I'm a misprint. So I try to
forget it, and behave as if I was censored. You can't
say harder things to me than I think about myself."
Maggy sat pondering his defence. Then she said:
"Haven't you ever met anybody who made you
feel you'd like to be different?"
Denis hesitated. "Not until the other day. And
then it passed off. It wasn't worth while, and it
could n't have happened. I was just dreaming for a
second; wishing I were a decent chap, you know."
"Tell me about it," urged Maggy.
"There 's not much to tell. I met a girl — a girl who
sells flowers in a shop. I made myself a nuisance until
I persuaded her to come out with me. We spent an
afternoon in the country. That part bored me a bit,
I'll own, because I'm out of tune with Nature, I sup-
pose. But the girl made me feel as if I were in church,
and that I liked being there. She was wonderful to
look at and to watch. You felt she was so good. Not
good like you are, the tried-by-fire sort" (it was
Maggy's turn to wince), "but good and pure like the
flowers and the birds because they were created that
" Well, part of the time I was with her I felt sort of
uplifted, and the rest of it I was simply dying to kiss
her, because — well, because she was so — so ex-
traordinarily kissable. In the end the worst part of
me got the upper hand. I wanted to kiss her, and I 'd
gone without dinner and I was thirsty. The spiritual
ROSE O' THE SEA IC7
part of me went plop. I took her to a night club and
filled myself up with cocktails. They went to my head. I
saw her home and I did n't behave myself. But I did n't
— honest Injun, Lady Chalfont — I did n't mean to
insult her, although she took it that way. My head was
spinning round like a top and I wanted to ask her to
marry me and help me to be a better chap and all that,
only somehow I foimd myself trying to kiss her in-
stead. She was angry, naturally, and gave me a push
and over I went. Fell on my nose. It's not right yet."
Maggy smiled. She could n't help it. Denis's story
was such a mixture of the pathetic and the ridiculous.
*'When I came to she wasn't there. She thought
she 'd killed me and rushed oflF to tell the governor so !
I expected there 'd be no end of a nunpus, but she
must have bewitched him, for all he did was to send
her home again. He made me write her an apology
next day. Well, then I felt fed up altogether. My nose
and what pride I 'd got left were both hurt. What was
the good, anyhow, of getting struck on a girl who
must have thought me a perfect rotter? Besides, it
was all no use. Waste of time. You know as well as I
do that the governor wouldn't give his consent to
my marrying anybody out of our own set. He would n't
have sanctioned my running after a shopgirl with a
view to matrimony, even if he did believe she was good
for my soul."
**But that's where you're wrong," cried Maggy.
"That's where neither you nor I understood him a
little bit. Denis, he'd consent to anything that he
honestly believed was good for you."
Denis looked imconvinced. He thought he knew his
father's prejudices a good deal better than Maggy did.
io8 ROSE O' THE SEA
"Let's change the subject," he said. "I did n't mean
to talk so much. You said I was behaving badly, just
now. Let's leave it at that. Besides, I've no earthly
right to think about any nice girl at all. If you only
knew — " He pulled himself up short as he thought of
Vivxenne and her importunities, and how far he might
have pledged himself. " Oh, it 's all too late," hefinished
The dinner-bell clanged a sonorous summons.
Maggy jumped up.
*' That's another thing you're wrong about, too,"
she said in a sprightly voice. "It's never too late to
mend — or to be punctual for dinner!"
She hooked her arm in his. Together they descended
the broad staircase. Maggy was smiling to herself,
as though at some happy thought.
"You are a brick!" Denis said, watching her face.
He opened the drawing-room door and followed
Lord Chalfont was already there, talking to a girl
in a grey tulle frock with a cherry sash, a giri with
dark masses of curling hair piled high on top of her
small head, and fastened with a jewelled comb. Some-
thing about the unconsciously proud poise of that
little head was familiar to Denis, although her face
was turned from hun.
"Sorry to keep you two waiting," said Maggy
At the sound of her voice the girl looked round.
Denis was altogether startled, could not believe his
eyes. It was Rose — Rose subtly changed by the wave
of a modiste's wand from a simple village maiden to a
veritable Princess of Dreams!
Dinner was over. There had been no constraint.
Maggy's natural capacity for smoothing over diffi-
culties had put Rose quite at her ease. She had passed
this first test of comportment under new conditions
with the imaffected modesty characteristic of her.
Now Maggy had stolen away to take a peep at her
sleeping baby, and Lord Chalfont had followed her
The two visitors foimd themselves alone in the
drawing-room. Denis took a long, long look at Rose.
Rose met it with a shy smile.
"I expect you were surprised to see me here," she
"Surprised isn't the word," he admitted. "Ftmny
thing is, you seem to fit into the picture wherever you
are — at Gardner's all among the flowers, or here,
looking like a — well, as if you'd been bom to it.
Though, of course, I don't understand how it's all
"I'll tell you. Only I'd like to ask you to forgive
me first for — for hurting you that night. I didn't
Shame brought a tinge of colour into Denis's face.
"It would have served me right if I had been a lot
more hurt," he murmured. "I behaved like a shop-
Though well-meant, it was a blundering comparison.
"There are lots of shop-walkers at Gardner's," said
Rose with imconscious reproof. "They all behave like
no HOSE O'THE SEA
gentlemen. I never knew until the other night that
any one could be diff — " She stopped, afraid of hav-
ing wounded his feelings.
"I deserved that," he said humbly. "And I did n't
mean to imply that the fellows in shops weren't
quite decent chaps. I expect most of them could give
me points all round. All I wanted to say was that I'd
like to kick myself for having upset you. Because my
pride was hurt I tried to make myself think of you as
if — well, as if I was the aggrieved party. When my
father told me you had come flying round in a fright
about me I believe I called it cheek. That was simply
my bad temper. In my heart I knew I had n't a leg to
stand on. I hope he was n't rude to you, too."
"Rude to me?" echoed Rose in surprise. "Why,
he's my friend!"
The simple statement, the pretty, proud way in
which she said it, the ring of loyalty and something
more in her voice, made Denis wonder.
"You like him then?" he asked in an odd voice.
Rose's eyes shone.
"I think he's the most wonderful man I ever met,"
she answered enthusiastically. "I couldn't bear to
make him sad — if I were you."
"If you were me, I don't suppose he'd read the Riot
Act to you every day of the week. And is Lady Chal-
font a friend of yours, too? "
Rose clasped her hands ecstatically.
"Yes! Is n't it strange? I feel as if I'd known her
all my life, although I met her yesterday afternoon
for the first time. She came to see me. Is n't she a
perfect dear? "
Denis held out his hand. "Don't think badly of me.
ROSE O' THE SEA 1 1 1
Kttle girl. I want you to put it there and let me be your
friend too. I promise you I '11 never give you cause to
mistrust me again."
Rose gave him her hand.
"Of course I'll have you for a friend," she answered
whole-heartedly. "But friends help each other. Can I
help you? Will you let me? "
Denis sighed. Here, in this friendly house with Rose,
so fragrantly young and unspoilt, he felt that after all
it would be worth while and not so terribly hard to
make a new start and to retrieve somethhig of his
wasted young manhood. Then he remembered Vivi-
enne. Did Vivienne mean to tie him to her? It seemed
so. She had the clinging habit. Did he really want to
escape from her and the restless life she stood for?
When a fellow had the blues there was no one like her.
There was a certain deviltry in her composition that
appealed to the sinister side of his nature, just as Rose
conversely evoked what was best in him.
"How can you help me?" he asked a shade hope-
lessly. "As I sit here looking at you I feel I could be
no end of a good chap. But I have bad times, you
know; moments when I feel so fed up that I simply
must go on a bust."
"Is that when you drink the pink stuff out of little
glasses?" she enquired.
"But why? Does it taste nice?"
"It does — at the time. Inside each glass there's a
merry little red devil who tells you that nothing mat-
ters. Nothing at all! After you've swallowed several
of 'em they make you feel as bright and lively as a bird
with a vvorm in his beak ! But in the morning when you
112 ROSE O' THE SEA
wake up, they Ve all turned blue. Any one will tell you
what blue devils are like."
"I should give it up altogether," said Rose saga-
ciously. "Perhaps you're colour-blind and don't know
the red from the blue ones. If you 're so fond of that
pink stuff, try whatldrink all the summer. It 's lovely."
"Rosalia Lemonade. You buy it in a packet; a rosy
powder. You put it in a jug and pour boiling water on
it till it fizzes. You can make pints for a penny."
Denis could not restrain a shudder.
"Do you drink it hot?" he asked in amazement.
"No; cold, of course. And it does n't hurt you a bit.
It quenches your thirst. It says so on the wrapper."
"It would quench mine. For ever and ever! Have
you ever been to Carlsbad? No, I s'pose not. German
watering-place, you know — where the Huns bottled
their poison gas, I expect. Perhaps that 's where your
Rosalia comes from. ... I say, I did n't mean to make
fim of you, kiddie. It's absolutely brickish of you to
want to help me at all. I'd love it if you would!"
"Well, then, will you drink water?" entreated Rose.
The request strudc Denis as harmless, if curious.
"All right," he promised. "I'll try. Honestly, I wiU.
But you must let me see you pretty often, or I shall
never be able to keep it up. Is that all you want me
"Not all. But it will do for a start. Now, tell me:
What do you do all day? "
" Nothing very much, I 'm afraid. I begin with limch
at one — "
"But what do you do all the morning?"
"Stay in bed."
ROSE O'THE SEA 113
"Don^t you have any breakfast? '*
*' Good Heavens, no ! It does n't agree with those
Kttle devils I was telling you about."
"Do you read in bed in the morning?" was Rose's
next question. Denis's life, so far, seemed to be one of
inertia. No wonder he had a tired look.
"There are n't many books worth reading," was his
evasion. "Books give me brain-fag, whenever I think
of the swot it must be to write 'em. Besides, what 's in a
book? The real ones are too like everyday life, and the
imaginary kind are so beastly unreal. Mostly I lie and
look at the ceiling. I 've had my bedroom ceiling painted
by a clever artist chap. It 's a sort of deep sea-green, a
wave effect. If you Ue with your eyes half closed, and
the green blind down, you can ahnost imagine you're
peacefully drowned at the bottom of the ocean. It's
quite a pleasant, final sort of feeling."
Rose could not follow him. She, like Maggy, had a
strongly developed practical side.
"You bother too much about feelings," she said.
"Yoaseem to run after them. If you're not feeling
things you're bored. Is that it?"
"I dare say."
"I don't imderstand that. I just like to wake up
every morning and find myself alive and well. I dare
say I might get miserable too if I always expected to
feel bright the whole time. One can't. There must be
blanks when one does n't feel anything in particular,
or else we should get kind of blunted."
"That's me," nodded Denis. "I've got no edge to
myself or my appetite."
"You would have if you worked. No one can live
and be happy without working. And when Sunday
114 ROSE O' THE SEA
comes round to freshen you up, you feel how nice ix
will be to start again. . . . How do you spend the after-
"About three I stroll out. Sometimes I go to my
dub. More often I fetch up at Vivienne's."
"Who is Vivienne? A friend?"
"She's the little friend of a lot of people, and the
effect she has on me is rather like the pink stuff in
the little glasses."
"Then I don't think she can be at all nice," said
Rose with much decision. "Do you take her out some-
times into the coimtry, as you did me? "
"Vivienne would n't have any use for that sort of
thing. She likes life — buzzing round, as she calls it."
"Has n't she — repose?" asked Rose.
"Not a bit."
"Then I don't suppose she is a lady. Mr. Louie at
Gardner's says that only ladies have repose."
"I dare say he's right. But Vivienne is great fim all
the same. That's why I sometimes take her out in-
stead of going to my club. Then there's dinner. If I
don't have it at home I go on to some show or other
that does n't make too much demand on my mental
faculties; finish up with supper, and get back home
when there 's nothing more to stay out for. It does seem
a pretty piflMng sort of existence, I'll admit. Why
don't you plan out a day for me? Something different.
I'll give it a try. Do!"
There was a touch of eagerness in his voice. Rose
considered. She was so very anxious to help him.
"Begin by going to bed early to-night, then," she
said. "And then—"
Maggy came back into the room.
ROSE O' THE SEA 115
"You're wanted on the 'phone, Denis," she said.
"In the haU."
There, in response to his "Hullo!" a querulous voice
"That you, Denny? . . . Where are you? . . . Yes,
Vivienne. Who's this Lady Chalfont whose niunber
they've given me. . . . What? . . . WeU, never mind
that, now. I 'm in a hurry. I 'm speaking from the the-
atre. You must come and fetch me in a quarter of an
hour. . . . Headache? Going to bed early? Rats ! You Ve
got to come and punt at Jardine's. Baccarat, dear boy.
And who knows how soon the place may not be raided?
Better enjoy ourselves while we can. Besides, you're
sure to win to-night. Your luck's bound to turn!"
Denis hesitated, and then said, "Right-o!" The
gambling fever was in his blood. The inducement
Vivienne held out was too potent to resist. After all,
what harm was there in a modest gamble? He could
still keep his promise to Rose, turn in early and keep
off heady drinks, at any rate. A fellow could n't be
expected to vanquish all his little weaknesses at one
fell swoop. He had n't mentioned his gambling propen-
sities to Rose. Even Maggy had no knowledge of them;
only his father, who had paid his losses, not once but
"Hurry up, dear boy!" urged Vivienne, and rang
Denis went back to the drawing-room.
"I say. Lady Chalfont, I 'm awfully sorry," he stam-
mered, "but I must be off. I've just been reminded of
an important engagement. I'm late for it already.
Please don't thinkmerude for clearing out so early. . . ."
Maggy had the discretion not to ask questions. The
ij6 ROSE O'THE SEA
voice that had enquired for him on the 'phone had been
a woman's. She was disappointed, but she forbore to
persuade him to stay. He had certain mule-like quali-
ties peculiar to individuals of weak character — quali-
ties of which she had had evidence on one or two previ-
ous occasions. She knew it was futile to coerce him.
So Denis, somewhat shamefaced, took himself off.
He felt a traitor, partly to Maggy but mostly to Rose.
"Poor old Denis!" sighed Maggy. "I wonder if he's
a hopeless case!"
"No, don't think that," rejoined Rose. "We've been
having a talk. Do you know, I think it's because he
feels that every one has so little faith in him that he
has n't much hope of himself. But he 's going to turn
over a new leaf. He promised me he would. Would n't
it be splendid if he made good after all, so that his
father could be reaJly proud of him?"
"Splendid!" echoed Maggy. "But, you know, dear,
it's desperately hard for some of us to achieve good-
ness all at once. Sometimes it takes a lifetime."
Just for a fleeting moment she wondered whether
Rose was already on the way to caring for Denis, but
the girl's serene face negatived the aspiration. Rose
only wished him well. Love had not even brushed her
with the tip of his wing. . . .
Not long afterwards Rose prepared to go home. It
was nearly eleven, a very late hour for her to be out.
. Up in her hostess's bedroom she endeavoured to
voice her overflowing gratitude and some of the love
with which Maggy inspired her. But Maggy would
not listen. Neither would she allow Rose to take off
the beautiful dress she had on.
"You'll want it for next time, my sweet. It's far
ROSE O'THE SEA 117
too youthful-looking for an old married woman like
me. You show it off much better/'
Rose, bereft of words, put up her face to be kissed.
"You must see my gallery before you go,'* said
Maggy. She took her to the mantelpiece, from which
vantage-point, as she said, all her best friends could
have a heart-to-heart talk with her without interrup-
tion when she was alone. It was crowded with photo-
graphs. "That's the latest of Baby. There's Chalfont
on his yacht. There's me bathing. . . . Yes, that's
Denis. Would you like it? "
Rose's eyes had come to a rest on the photograph
next to Denis's. It riveted her attention.
^ "Oh, might I — could I have that one?" she asked
in a faltering voice.
"Why, yes — take them both," assented Maggy
But Rose, in her eagerness, omitted to take both.
The one sh6 had chosen was a very good snap-shot,
taken by Maggy herself, of Caister. Rose hugged it to
her. She would treasure the likeness of her "ideal
When she had seen Rose off, Maggy came slowly
back into the room. Her beautiful face wore a faintly
troubled look. Then she spoke aloud, very thought-
"Where is that child's heart going to take her?
Why did nH she choose Denis? . . . / wonder I . . ."
Vivienne's maid opened the door of Vivienne's flat.
Caister stood outside. He gave her his card. The name
on it aroused her interest. She was very well informed,
as a maid of her position is apt to be, of the visitor's
relationship to the Honourable Denis. She hurried oflF
with the card and aroused her mistress.
It was ten o'clock in the morning. Vivienne gener-
ally slept soundly until twelve. At sight of the name
on the card she too showed undue activity. She imme-
diately jumped out of bed.
"Turn on my bath at once," she ordered. "Tell
Lord Caister I '11 be with him in ten minutes if he '11
wait; give him my book of press notices to look at.
And take in the whiskey and some Perrier."
Whenever Vivienne received male visitors, including
press interviewers, she always gave precisely the same
instructions, conceiving them to be the height of hos-
M61anie dutifully delivered the message, augmented
the whiskey stand with another of liqueurs, and went
back to help her mistress dress.
Caister regarded the plethora of alcoholic refresh-
ment with disapproval and the book of press cuttings
with indifference. His eyes roved round the small
drawing-room critically. Like Vivienne herself, it was
in doubtful taste. Everything in it, from the colour
scheme to the furniture, appeared to have been chosen
to startle the eye. It was expensive, but hopelessly
inartistic, not even original enough to be bizarre.
ROSE O' THE SEA 1 19
The top of the baby-grand piano was laden with
framed photographs — photographs of all Vivienne's
men friends. Most of them were inscribed in the most
affectionate terms. They were hers till Z, hers ever,
devotedly hers, hers all the time. Amongst this galaxy
Caister espied one of Denis. Indeed, it could hardly
have escaped his attention, for it was in the largest and
most elaborate frame of all. He was relieved to see that
Denis, at any rate, had had the discretion to refrain
from autographing it in terms of theatrical endearment.
Vivienne did not keep him waiting long. The quick-
change habit of the stage served her.
She came into the room in a trailing green peignoir
embroidered with dragons, and a gem-studded boudoir
cap crammed on over her red curls. She was quite
aware that she looked an attractive little adventuress.
It would probably pay her to play the part this
This time she did not make the mistake of offering
Caister her hand. She guessed his errand and meant
to make the most of it.
"How do you do?" she said in oflfhand style. "I
thought youM blow in one of these days. Do sit in
a more comfortable chair. Denis likes that one best.
There's room for two in it," she added archly.
"It's about Denis that IVe come to see you," he
said. "I suppose you are aware — you must be — that
he is my heir."
Vivienne settled herself opposite him and crossed
her knees. "Quite," was her undisturbed answer.
"And his age? You know it?"
"Same as mine, I think. Twenty-three."
'And my own?"
120 ROSE O' THE SEA
She did not get his meaning. "Oh, well, you look
about forty," she hazarded. "But I guess you're sixty,
imless you married very young."
"I am forty-two. Which means that bar accidents
and with ordinary luck I may live for quite another
thirty years. Perhaps more. I happen to be tough.
Until I die, Denis has to look to me for an allowance.
K he marries without my consent, I shall make him
none whatever. So that if it is your intention to
acquire him as a husband I do not see that you will
be furthering your interests or improving your posi-
tion in any way."
Vivienne did not turn a hair.
"Don't you worry any about my position," she said
coolly. "Let's talk about yours and Denis's — the
Honour of your House and all that — a fair name
dragged in the dust if I marry him. I've heard it all
"Probably you have. I don't suppose for a moment
that Denis is the only peer's son you have had designs
Vivieime's eyes glinted spitefully.
"I'm not trying to marry Denis," she replied with
candour. "We understand each other thoroughly.
I 've only got to say the word, and he '11 trot me oflf to
a registrar's like a lamb."
"That also I can quite believe. Denis does many
foolish things to escape friction or argument. Nor
need we enter into one. It simply comes to this: if you
marry Denis you will have to support him. That 's all
I have to say."
"Ah, but / haven't said anything yet," objected
ROSE O' THE SEA 121
Vivienne. "If I don't marry him, what shall I get out
of it? " Her tone was calmly businesslike.
"Perhaps you'd better see my solicitor," Caister
said. He was quite ready to come to an arrangement.
"Solicitors be bothered! I should n't trust yours and
you would n't trust mine. Besides, mine would be sure
to do you down. He's a money-lending solicitor with a
theatrical connection." A wily smile accompanied the
description. "Do you know that sort? Much better
fix it up with me direct."
" For a sum to be agreed on will you undertake not
to see Denis any more?" he demanded.
"No," she said, staring back at him, hard-eyed.
"I won't. That's flat. But I'll agree not to marry him,
if that will satisfy you."
"Do you mind telling me why you will not sever
the — friendship altogether? "
Vivienne hesitated. Beneath the rouge she flushed
"Oh, all right," she answered, with a touch of defi-
ance. " I don't want to say good-bye to him forever, be-
cause I'm bally well fond of him. You need n't laugh."
" I 'm not laughing. I 'm extremely sorry to hear what
you say, because I don't think he will be any the better
for your affection. The decent thing would be to leave
him entirely alone."
"I'm not decent," she fired back. "At least, not in
the sense you mean. I don't want to be. I don't bother
my head about whether I 'm good or bad. Denis and
I are pals. Pals we '11 stay, whether we get spliced or
not. It's no use appealing to my higher nature. I
haven't got one. That's why I'm such good com-'
pany," she finished with admirable self-knowledge.
122 ROSE O' THE SEA
''But as far as marriage is concerned, I might be in-
duced to change my mind. I'll take eight himdred
pounds to come off it."
"Come off it?" he repeated. "You mean — "
"I mean I won't marry him. I'll give you a letter
to that effect if you like. 'In consideration of the sum/
etcetera, 'I hereby undertake,' etcetera, and so on.
That do? And I can tell you this" — she tilted her
chair back with the facility and skill of an equilibrist,
imtil he feared she would overbalance — "I've asked
for a comparatively small sum because I want to square
up a Kttle matter that's rather pressing. I'm not out
to get all I can from you, or I should want the earth,
and see that I got half of it, at any rate."
Caister took out his cheque-book. As she had herself
hinted, he had come prepared to redeem her hold on
Denis at a far higher figure, even if it had crippled him
financially to pay it. He wrote the cheque and handed
it to her. In exchange she scribbled her undertaking.
The affair seemed to amuse her.
"I must stipulate that you do not mention this
transaction to Denis," he said stifl3y.
"Don't worry about that. I should n't for my own
sake. He would n't like it. Besides, I 'm not one to stir
up strife. I 'm all for peace and a quiet life, if you could
only believe it. Sure you won't have a whiskey and
soda or a B6ti6dictine? "
He declined again. He was anxious to terminate the
unpleasant and sordid interview. Vivienne also had no
desire to prolong it. It irritated her to find herself in
the company of a man who remained impervious to her
As soon as he had gone she called M61anie.
ROSE O* THE SEA 123
"Is my cx)ffee ready? That's right. Now get your
hat on and take a bus to Coutts's Bank. Cash this
cheque and bring it back in notes."
After that she rang up Denis. She wanted him to
come rotmd. She had something to give him.
"IVe got a headache," he complained. "I've been
awake all night, and I'm only just going to sleep."
An hour or so later he turned up, pallid of face,
looking ill and desperately woe-begone.
" Whatever 's the matter with you?" she asked.
He sat down in a chair and groaned.
"Oh, nothing," he sighed. "But you know I lost
eight himdred poimds last night, and I'll have to pay
it back before the day's out. That means touching the
governor again. I'd rather do an3rthing than that. He
paid in three hundred to my credit a week ago — my
quarter's allowance, I'm a sweep." He looked at her
with imutterably weary eyes. "And I say, Viv, do take
off that beastly green thing you 've got on. Those liz-
ards give me the creeps! I can see 'em moving!"
"They're only jolly little dragons," she laughed.
"Well, anyhow, I don't like them first thing in the
To hxmiour him, Vivienne went into her bedroom.
She emerged from it dressed in a sprigged muslin frock
more suited to a girl of her age and the summer morning.
"Now, cheer up," she said.
Denis's gloom did not lighten. He was staring
straight in front of him with an expression in his eyes
that was not at all good to see.
" If my governor refuses to help me out of this mess,'^
he muttered, "I'm off."
"Where to? Abroad?"
124 ROSE O' THE SEA
''No. Off the map. I was planning it out all last
night. I can't think why I've never done it before,"
Vivienne gave him a shake.
"Don't be a fool," she said sharply. "Even if you're
no good, or think you 're not, you can still be a plucky
one. Only cowards commit suicide. Why, even I
would n't do anything so beastly rotten, or — or know
a chap who would. Your father would rather you mar-
ried me than do that, anjrway."
"Only last night," he went on, "I was making good
resolutions. I was going to turn over a new leaf. I — I
promised a girl I would."
"What girl? A lady? Some designing little wretch
who wants to marry you? "
At any other time such a sentence, coming from
Vivienne, would have struck Denis as funny. But his
sense of himiour was in abeyance this morning.
"Lord, no! I don't suppose she'd marry me for any-
thing on earth. She 's just a good girl, and wants me to
"How stuffy! You needn't think about her any
more. The main thing that worries you is how you 're
going to square up, is n't it? "
"Well, it's a debt of honour."^
"I know. It worried me too. I hate you to lose, and
I knew how you would feel about it. But it 's all right,
Denny. Here you are. Eight hundred of the best."
She flung a roll of notes into his lap.
Denis looked at them stupidly.
" Put them into your pocket; tiey won't melt away,"
she said cheerily.
"But where on earth — I mean how did you get
them? Is it — it can't be your screw? "
ROSE O' THE SEA 125
"I'd have to save a long time to hoard all that!
Don't ask any questions, and you won't be told any
"But I can't take it from you, old girl."
"You needn't worry about that either. It's easy
money. Only cost me a brain-wave."
"Have you sold anything?"
"In a sense. I made a bargain. There, now!" She
took his note-case out of his pocket and crammed the
notes in. Then rather suddenly she kissed him.
The desperation in Denis's face lightened a little,
but he looked uncomfortable.
"I hate to take it, Viv. I'll pay you back," he prom-
ised. "If you only knew what a rotter I am. P'r'aps
you do. D' you know, last night I vowed I'd cut you
out of my life altogether. Called you a little schemer,
a bad influence, and all that. And here you are, as
white as the best."
Vivienne averted her face. When she turned to
Denis again a little of the black stuff she used for her
eyes had smeared her cheek.
"Not white by a long chalk, Denny," she answered.
"And not all black, either, dear. More likely a dirty
In the shop Rose was singing as she lifted great bunches
of floral merchandise from the hampers that came
straight from Covent Garden every morning. She
found it more of a pleasure than a duty to "dress" a
window, and she did it so effectively that Miss Hobbs
was glad to leave this task to her entirely. She approved
and admired. Rose had such an eye for colour effect.
While she was thus engaged Mr. Louie passed
through on the way to his oflSice. Finding Rose alone
he lingered a moment.
"You sing like a bird," he said admiringly.
"Do I?" she laughed. "I feel more like a bee — a
busy buzzing one — all amongst the flowers."
"Talking of flowers, how would you like to see Kew
Gardens? May I take you there on Sxmday? I've been
looking forward to Sxmday, hoping that we might
spend the afternoon together again."
"I'd love to go." Rose hesitated. "I want to ask
you a favour. Could n't we take Miss Hobbs with us,
Poor Mr. Louie looked dismayed. Although he had
been responsible for the engagement of massive Miss
Hobbs she only existed for him as a useful adjunct to
his department, much in the same sense as the coim-
ters and chairs did. He seldom took any notice of her.
"It would do her such a lot of good to have an after-
noon out of doors," Rose went on. "She works so
hard and she's so good. Away from business she
spends all her time looking after a little invalid sister.
ROSE O' THE SEA 127
She has n't got any one to take her out like most of the
other girls. Or perhaps you 'd enjoy it more if you and
she went alone without me."
"Indeed I should not," he objected hurriedly.
"Would you really prefer that she came?"
"It's nice to make people happy, I think. The hap-
pier I am, the more I want other people to be. Don't
"I — I'm afraid I'm more selfish than that. I cer-
tainly like to make those I — er — love happy. But
that's as far as I think it necessary to go."
"Oh, but look how kind and good you are to me!"
In her simplicity she wondered why he got so red.
"It is you who make me happy," he said. "It makes
me feel good to see you about the place. It makes me
happy to think of you, and to hope — "He broke off
in confusion. "By all means ask Miss Hobbs to come
with us on Sunday. I shall be glad to take her if it
So in due course the invitation was conveyed to
Miss Hobbs, who at first was frankly incredulous.
When at last she was convinced of its reality her ela-
tion knew no boimds.
"Of course I know I've got you to thank for it," she
declared. "But it sounds almost too good to be true.
Fancy going out for a whole afternoon with our Mr.
Louie! I've dreamt of it, I don't mind telling you, but
I never thought it would come about. What shall
I wear, Rose? Not that he'll notice me much, but
I'd like to look the lady. Do you think magenta
muslin with white shoes and stockings would be the
"I think black shoes and stockings look nicer."
128 ROSE O' THE SEA
Rose's taste, though untrained, was judicious. "And
that black and white costume you wear sometimes."
"But I'm not in mourning," protested Miss Hobbs.
"Why black? I'm all for colours myself. Now, a corn-
flower blue — perhaps you think I'm too large to
stand bright blue, though? I dare say you're right.
I 'm always forgetting I 've got red hair and freckles,
and that I'm thirty roimd the waist, especially after
I've just been having a look at the Paris models on
their stands up in the dress department. It gives me
quite a start sometimes to see myself full-length in the
glass afterwards coming down."
She could think of nothing else but the proposed
excursion three days hence. Every now and then,
when she was not attending to customers, she reverted
"You know, Rose," she confessed, "Mr. Louie's
altogether my idea of what a gentleman should be.
He 's a little bit undersized, I know. But there ! What 's
an inch or two when you love a man?"
Rose stopped short in the middle of wiring a carna-
" Do you mean you 'd like to marry Mr. Louie? " she
asked in wonder.
"Like? " Miss Hobbs cried with enormous emphasis.
"If he so much as looked at me as if he cared I think
I 'd jimip out of my skin with joy ! I can't help it. It —
it's my heart. Where I give it there it stays. He'll
never be the wiser or the worse for my loving him."
An enormous sigh inflated her capacious bosom.
"Don't let what I've said make any difference,"
she went on. "I'll be bridesmaid at your wedding if
you'll ask me, and I'm sure I'll wish you all the best
ROSE O' THE SEA 129
luck in the world when you're Mrs. Louie. My love's
too big to feel nasty, mean, envious thoughts."
"But I'm never going to be Mrs. Louie," Rose de-
clared. "I've never thought of such a thing. And I'm
sure he has n't either. I could n't possibly marry him
if he had."
"Not marry him?" Miss Hobbs could not believe
her ears. "Mean to say you'd refuse him? Make him
miserable for life? "
"I would n't make anybody miserable — Mr. Louie
especially. He's much too kind. And, if I were you,
I shouldn't think any more about him wanting to
marry either of us, because I'm sure it could never
Rose's tone of certitude put an end to the discussion.
Miss Hobbs went on with her work and her thoughts.
As the morning progressed there was little time for
conversation, for the floral department at Gardner's
did a large business.
About twelve o'clock Caister came in. It was his
first appearance in the shop. He went straight up to
Rose and waited until she had finished serving a cus-
Rose gave him a bright smile of welcome. She was
not self-centred enough to think he had come on pur-
pose to see her. She supposed he wanted to buy
"I want you to take a holiday," he said. "Can you?
My car is outside. I 'm going to pick up Lord and Lady
Chalfont. They want to run down to Purton Towers,
their home. It's near mine. I thought you would like
the drive. We shall be back at eight or nine. Can you
130 ROSE O' THE SEA
Rose's eyes lit up.
"Oh, if only I could I" she cried. "Is your son com-
ing too? "
Caister's face clouded.
"When I left Denis, he was feeling rather unwell,
I am sorry to say," he said. "I had a doctor to see him
yesterday. I want to have a talk with you about him."
The anxiety he showed decided Rose. She would
ask permission to absent herself. What she would not
have done for her own enjoyment she could not resist
doing out of sympathy for another.
"I'll ask Mr. Louie," she said.
Mr. Louie was not to be found. Rose consulted Miss
"Who is it, you say?" whispered Miss Hobbs ex-
citedly. "A lord! Oh, my I Of course you can be spared.
But" — she looked dubious — "are you sure he's a
real lord? There are all sorts of people about London
calling themselves this, that, and the other." She
glanced furtively at Caister over her shoulder. "He
does look a nobleman, I must say." It was easy to un-
derstand the eagerness in Rose's face. "Well, if you
know him well and there 's a lady going too, it must be
all right. Run along. I'll manage. I'll tell Mr. Louie
myself. Or better still, you ask the gentleman to write
him a note. That'll save trouble."
Caister approved of the latter course. He scribbled a
few lines on his card and Rose gave it to Miss Hobbs.
In a few mmutes she was ready, dressed in a heather-
mixture coat and skirt and a hat to match that Maggy
had insisted on giving her.
"Please tell me about Denis," she said as soon as
they were in the car. " He seemed quite well two nights
ROSE O' THE SEA 131
ago at Lady Chalfont's. We had a long talk, and he
promised he would try to be very good in future/'
" We '11 talk about Denis later on," was the rejoinder.
"I want you to enjoy yourself first. Lady Chalfont
is gomg to bring her baby for a blow, so we shall be
quite a family party, except for Denis."
"I hope Mr. Louie won't be cross with Miss Hobbs,"
thought Rose. And then Gardner's emporium and all
pertaining to it slipped from her mind. Who in her
position would not have given herself up to the en-
jo3nnent of the moment? The speedy, luxurious car
was like a magic carpet. The sun was shining. She was
going to spend a lovely day with the one person, next
to her beloved old "Dad," whom she thought most of;
with dear Lady Chalfont, her nice husband and their
sweet baby. Rose forgot everything else.
At the first opportimity Miss Hobbs delivered
Caister's card. She took it to Mr. Louie herself.
"I — I want to thank you for asking me to come out
on Sunday with Miss Eton," she stammered. "I'll be
so pleased. I'm sure it's most good of you."
"Oh, that's all right. I hope we shall have a fine
day. What's this?" He took the card, looked at it, and
frowned as he read it.
Lord Caister will take U as a favour if Mr. Louie will ex-
cuse Miss Eton from work to-day,
"What does this mean?" he demanded again, with
a touch of asperity. "Where is Miss Eton?"
"She's gone for a motor drive into the country.
She came to ask, but could n't find you, so I took it on
myself to give her permission. I could n't find it in my
heart to refuse her. She was longing to go. I hope you
132 ROSE O' THE SEA
don't object. I — I think she knew the gentleman very
well. She spoke as if she did."
"It was not right." Mr. Louie was emphatic. "So
far as I know she has no acquaintances at all in London.
I cautioned her very seriously when she first came here
about making friends with strangers. She 's so young
and inexperienced. You 're a London girl, Miss Hobbs.
Surely you must have known that it was not wise to
trust her out like that — such a child 1 "
Miss Hobbs stood her grotmd.
"Don't you trust her?" she asked, a little surprised.
"I would. I'd trust her anywhere, child though she
"I dare say," admitted the little man imeasily.
"But this Lord Caister! ... I — I don't like the look
"Ah, but you did n't see him. I 'm a London girl, as
you say; not a baby. It'll be all right, Mr. Louie. One
of the first things we London girls learn is to tell oflE
people by their faces. I know a gentleman when I see
one. I saw Lord Caister looking at Rose as if he would
like to put a red carpet down for her little feet to step
on from the shop door to his car. And when a man has
that look in his face you can trust him with your own
sister. That's how I think of Rose, Mr. Louie. We —
we all love her. You're not the only one."
A rebuke rose to Mr. Louie's lips, but he suppressed
it. Miss Hobbs meant no oflfence. He saw that, and
overlooked her tactlessness.
He took off his glasses and wiped them nervously.
"Yes — we none of us can help loving Rose," he
said, a little unevenly as he placed Caister's card
carefully in his pocket-book.
In Polseth the houses ranged in size from the insignif-
icant to the eight-roomed vicarage. Rose's experience
of large ones was confined to what she had seen of the
Chalfonts' town house and Lord Caister's library.
Caister Hall, therefore, when she first saw it through
a vista of parkland studded with fine old trees, took her
breath away. Its noble stone frontage, a gradation from
Tudor to Early Georgian, as its successive owners had
altered and extended it, staggered her by its vastness.
Inside, tlje nimiber and the noble proportions of its
rooms bewildered her.
For all that, she was instantly receptive to the beauty
and spirit of the place. It seemed to lay its venerable
hands on her, touching her lips with silence and her
soul with awe. It was so old and grand. Its nobility
spoke in a hundred voices — from its painted ceilings,
its furniture magnificent beyond her ken, from the
countless pictures of proud women and great men that
adorned its walls. Those proud faces looking down at
her with an unmeasurably aloof expression in their
eyes might be dead, but the spirit of them Uved, was in-
destructible. It lived, too, in the stem-faced, sad-eyed
man at her side, burnt within him as a lambent flame.
In Denis that flame was flickering to extinction.
Rose could not have put her feelings into words.
They were so intense that they brought a limip into
her throat and tears into her eyes.
"Oh, why can't Denis care about it as you do!" she
cried impulsively. "Why, I, even I, who am nobody
134 ROSE O' THE SEA
at all, feel it all so intensely. It 's nothing to me, but I
could love it. If it belonged to me I should worship it.
It 's not just a big house. It belongs to all these beauti-
ful people" — her eyes swept the walls — "as well as
to you and Denis. It 's a — a — I can't find the word I
"A heritage," supplied Caistet.
"Yes, that is it, and a — trust. It's — wonderful!"
She took a big breath.
"I am glad it has moved you," he said quietly. "I
wanted it to do so; I hoped it would. What you feel
about it all makes it easier for me."
"Easier? How do you mean?"
"I will explain later, before we go back to-day. Now
let me show you the chapel. Afterwards we will go to
the stables. Do you like horses? Hunting is Denis's
only outdoor diversion. He can ride straight to hounds,
I'm glad to say."
The private chapel attached to the house was
another revelation to Rose, who had never been in a
place of worship in her life, except at her christening,
an occasion of which, naturally enough, she had no
The chapel at Caister was one of the most beautiful
of its kind. The hands of long-dead artists had carved
its woodwork and decorated its walls. Beautiful
statues of the saints and Virgin and Child, brought
from Italy centuries ago, stood in niches, beatific,
Rose came to a pause before one of them. She
thought it lovely.
"Who is that lady?" she enquired.
Caister looked at her in some surprise.
ROSE O' THE SEA 135
''Our Lady," he answered. "The Mother of God."
"The Mother of God," she repeated. "Is He the
little Chad hi her arms? How beautiful!" Her voice
was rapt. She continued looking at it.
"Is all this — religion? You see, I was n't told any-
thing about it. I wonder why my father did not speak
to me of anything so lovely. Will you tell me all about
it? Is it a beautiful story? "
"Something more than that. It's a reality — or
"And do you come here often?"
"We have services here."
"I would like to kneel down. May I?"
So Rose fell on her knees on the small rush cushion
at the foot of the niche.
It was her first conscious prayer — the first speech
of her soul with God.
After a little while she rose and in silence stood by
Caister's side. Before turning from the altar he crossed
"Why do you do that? " she asked. "Has it a mean-
"Catholics always make the sign of the cross,"* he
told her. " It 's a form — a ritual — a courtesy in God's
"I see," she said, and crossed herself, too.
They came out into the sunlight. All around them
stretched the green parklands, gardens, terraces,
plantations — a fair and goodly heritage.
"In there," Caister said, "you prayed. Would you
think it an impertinence if I asked you what you
136 ROSE O' THE SEA
Why, of course not. It seemed to me I had to. I
wanted to so very much. I prayed for you — and
Denis. I prayed that you might be proud of him and
pleased with him; and that you might have great hap-
piness of your own as well."
"Did you not pray for yourself?"
"No . . . I Ve nothing to pray for. I said thank you
for all I've got. I'm quite contented and happy."
"I'm glad you are happy. And I thank you with all
my heart for your sweet thoughts of us. God bless you,
Rose reached out and took his hand. She carried it
to her face and rubbed her soft cheek against it: a
"Oh, how I wish I belonged to you!" she exclaimed.
"If I were only your daughter! So that I could do
things for you all the time!"
"That is not an impossibility," he said softly. "I
want you for a daughter, Rose ... I want you to
Rose dropped his hand and fell back a pace.
"You want me to marry Denis? Afc?"
Caister remarked her sudden paleness and her
wondering, almost frightened, tone. He feared she was
about to refuse his proposition. So much depended on
her acceptance of it. He felt as though Denis's well-
being, nay, his very salvation, if it were to be accom-
plished at all, lay in Rose's hands. Upon her slender
shoulders he wanted to shift the responsibility of re-
shaping the boy's misspent life. Was it too great a
sacrifice to demand of her? Must it of necessity be a
sacrifice? He was afraid to ask himself that question.
"I told you I was going to talk about Denis later
ROSE O' THE SEA 137
on," he said; "but it seems the time has come now.
Will you listen to me patiently for a little while?"
Rose nodded. She could not have told why, but she
felt an uncontrollable impulse to cry. All of a sudden
her happiness seemed to be fading. She was sad — sad.
Caister began to talk. He opened his heart to her
as never before in his life had he opened it to man,
woman, or child. He let her see his love for Denis in
its full strength, the passion and ambition of it. Last
of all he spoke of Denis's health.
"There's nothing radically wrong with him," he
said. "He had a bad turn this morning, so I thought
it best to send for our doctor, who imderstands him
very well. He told me merely what I already know —
that the life Denis is leading is killing him, mentally
and physically. The only chance is to induce him to
live quietly, to change his mode of life altogether, and
to give him new interests. It would be well for him if
he were engaged to be married and — would settle
down. And that is what I ask of you. If Denis con-
sents — and I have n't a doubt he will — will you be
his wife? You will honour him and myself if you can
find it possible to say 'yes.'"
Rose covered her face with her hands. Her shoulders
heaved. But when she lifted her face again, it was
curiously expressionless, and her eyes were tearless.
"Do you wish it?" she asked.
"I do, with all my heart."
She repeated his words, seemed to think.
"And love . . . ought not one to love one's husband?
Do I — could I love Denis? "
He answered without looking at her:
"Have you ever loved any one? That is to say, have
138 ROSE O' THE SEA
you ever felt you would like to live all your life with
just one person? "
"Only with my father — or you," she said in a low
Caister shaded his eyes with his hand as though
the sxm affected them.
"We should all be together — you and I and he,"
he reminded her.
"Yes," she answered meekly, like one who learns
"And by and by — before long, perhaps, you would
"Perhaps," she repeated. "When — how soon —
would you want us to be married? " Her voice shook.
"Say in three months or so. Meanwhile you would
leave Gardner's at once, and come and live with us
down here. You would help Denis to care about the
open-air things you lovfe. You and he would get to
know each other."
"I should be here. And a good part of the year
the Chalfonts would be our neighbours. You would be
among friends always. You would belong to all this."
He made a sweeping gesture with his hand. "You
would teach Denis to belong to it, too. Believe me, I
have not spoken to you of this without a great deal
of thought. I realise I am asking you to take a step
of grave importance. I don't expect you to give me
an answer here and now. You must have time."
Rose tried to speak and could not. But she put her
hand into his.
From the distance somebody was calling.
"Here come Lord Chalfont and Maggy," he said.
ROSE O' THE SEA 139
"I expect they have been looking for us. Shall we go
and meet them? ".
He kept hold of her hand, slipping it through his
arm. Side by side and without further words they went
along the grassy path towards the oncomers.
Maggy called and waved again. She leant towards
her husband. A moment ago she had been laughing
merrily. Now her face had clouded over, become seri-
"Those two," she said in a low tone, "are simply
made for one another. Can't you see it?"
"That pretty little girl and Denis?" responded
Chalfont.. "Yes, I thought that was what it might
mean. Bob seems to want it. It'll be the best thing
that could happen to Denis."
"To Denis, yes. BtU not for theml Ob, my dear, can't
you see how it is? It's coming! They don't know it
themselves, but they are going to love each other as
we do — you and I. And Denis — Denis will stand
Every day it was one of Rose's unwritten duties to
place a vase of freshly arranged flowers on the desk in
Mr. Louie's office. It generally resulted in a few min-
utes of pleasant talk, kindly enquiries as to her work
in general. Of late Mr. Louie introduced a more inti-
mate note into these short conversations. He would
sometimes speak of his home and his mother, or en-
courage Rose to talk about herself.
But on the morning following her day in the coimtry
he Had no smile for her. She noticed it' and missed
it. He was not cross. He merely looked worried.
When she had put the vase down he brought her a
"I want to have a word with you/' he said. "I in-
tended leaving it over till Simday, when we go to Kew,
but I 'd rather clear the air now. You went out yester-
day. Yes, I know you came to ask permission, and,
not finding me, obtained it from Miss Hobbs. That
is quite in order. But this " — he took Caister's card
from his pocket-book — "is not. I am speaking in a
private as well as my official capacity. Privately, I
take a very great personal interest in you; officially it
is my duty — within limits — to supervise the con-
duct of gJl our young ladies, or rather, to enquire into
anything that does not seem quite right, if it happens
to be brought to my notice. You gave me to under-
stand that you were quite alone and quite friendless
in London? Is that quite true?"
"It was quite true," she replied. "But I've ever
ROSE O' THE SEA 141
so many friends now. Yourself, Miss Hobbs, lots
of the people here; and besides that there's Lord
Caister — "
"Ah! Lord Caister!" he interposed succinctly and
then cleared his throat nervously. " Please do not think
that I am vulgarly curious. Give me credit for the best,
"But I do," she hastened to assure him. "If you had
to be ever so angry with me, even though I might feel
I didn't deserve it, I shoxild stiQ understand you meant
it for the best."
"I should never be angry with you," he said. "But
I might be grieved. I should be grieved if — if this
acquaintance with Lord Caister came between us and
"But how should it? He is my friend; you are my
friend. I think of you both quite differently, but — but
I care very much for you both."
The artlessness of her statement brought the colour
into Mr. Louie's face.
"Does Lord Caister know that you are so much his
friend? " he enquired.
"Why, yes. People can't hide what they feel from
one another, can they? He knows I would do anything
in the world for him, or nearly anything."
Mr. Louie took off his glasses, always a sign of per-
turbation with him.
"Would you mind telling me under what circum-
stances you met him? I am questioning you for your
own good. Please don't doubt it."
"I can't tell you that," Rose answered, "because it
has to do with another personJ
"Was it by chance?"
142 ROSE O' THE SEA
"Yes, I suppose you would call it chance."
"And he has been to see you?"
"Have you told him anything about yoiu^elf? For
instance, have you ever mentioned your pearl neck-
"He knows all about howl came to London. I've
not said anjiiing about my necklace. It would n't
interest him. Besides, I forgot. I don't think of its
value, you know. I wear it, and that 's all." She laughed
merrily. "Lord Caister does n't want to steal it! You
did n't think that!"
"Hardly. . . . There are other things of more value
than a necklace that might — be a temptation to him.
• . . Has he — has he ever spoken — mentioned mar-
riage to you? " Mr. Louie got the words out with diffi-
Rose's merriment subsided abruptly. Lord Caister
had mentioned marriage — marriage with Denis!
" Y-yes," she hesitated.
Mr. Louie picked up a paper-weight and handled
it nervously. He would have given anything to avoid
this very personal matter and the advice which he
sincerely felt it was his boimden duty to profifer. It
was really a woman's task, but he knew of no woman
who could have discharged it. His own mother was
too simple, not worldly-wise^ hardly aware of the pit-
falls and trials which lie in the path of a yoimg, at-
tractive, and unprotected girl. She had not in the past
been qualified to advise a daughter of her own. She
had no real experience of life. He might have enlisted
the help of Miss Hobbs, but Mr. Louie had a notion
that Miss Hobbs, being fairly young herself and a
ROSE O' THE SEA 143
woman at that, would be inclined to think romanti-
cally of a situation in which he could only see danger
for Rose. He would have to do his best with it himself.
He was a delicate-minded man. His very sensitiveness
helped him to a certain extent.
"When you first came to Gardner's," he said, "I
gave you some advice in this very office. You re-
member? I asked you to be careful about striking
up chance acquaintances — especially with gentlemen
— what the world calls *men-about-town.* Such
people are all very well in their own sphere. A good
many of them are gentlemen in the best sense of the
word. Some of them, again, are not. But, good and
bad, they have their own standard of honour and cer-
tain ideas of which you, in your inexperience, are
quite ignorant. A good many gentlemen, noblemen
included, are not above getting friendly with girls in
shops, and so on. Perhaps they want to be amused
for a little while, to avoid incurring obligations, which
they would do if they paid marked attention to a
young lady in their own circle. They naturally assume,
generally quite rightly, that girls in a lower walk of
life are quite able to take care of themselves. Most
of theni are. They know the value of their attractions
and are ready to make the most of them. All they want
is a good time, to live in the present, and to let the
future take care of itself."
"But what has all this to do with me?" Rose asked
"A very great deal. You seem to have made such
an acquaintance, and I want you — I ask you to put
an end to it at once for your own sake, before it is too
144 ROSE O' THE SEA
"End it? Why should it be too late? Too late for
Mr. Louie went on fidgeting with the paper-weight.
"YouVe heard me speak of my sister once. I will
answer your question by telling you about her. It —
it's a sad story. Even my mother does not know it.
We kept it from her because we knew it would break
her heart if she were to hear the truth.
"My sister was very young and quite pretty. We
thought the world of her. She was always so happy,
singiag about the place, just as you do. In some ways
you remind me of her. When she was seventeen she
went into business. She was at Gray's, the big milliners
and dressmakers. She used to try on dresses for people
— what they call a manikin. Gentlemen — husbands
and brothers — often came in with their ladies.
" Sylvia made a friend in this way. We knew nothing
about it at the time. But one day she never came back
home. She wrote a letter, saying she was going to be
married to a gentleman. I need n't teU you all the
details. They're sad, and it all happened long ago.
We believed she was married and happy, living abroad.
We heard from her sometimes, but not often. We took
it that having «iarried well she did not want to mix
with us, and we were proud too. But about two years
after, a letter came here from her. It gave an address
in a poor part of London. My sister was veiy iU and
wanted to see me. She had, she said, been living alone
and friendless for over a year — ever since he left her
^ — that gentleman t I could n't do much for her, poor
girl, because she hadn't sent for me in time. She
died . . ."
"Oh, I'm so sorry," Rose murmured sympatheti-
ROSE O' THE SEA 145
cally. "Was n't she married after all, then? Did n't he
Mr. Louie paused before answering.
"He may have told her so. You see, Miss Eton,
gentlemen — and still less noblemen — do not marry
shopgirls. It is just as well to remember that. . . .
Don't take what I've said amiss."
"I won't. I think I — tmderstand."
Mr. Louie put down the paper-weight, rubbed his
glasses and put them on again.
"Then you will give me your promise, for my poor
little sister's sake as well as your own, to sever this
Rose shook her head.
"I can't. I couldn't keep a promise like that. It
would mean fhat I should be breaking one I had made
before — that I would be Lord Caister's friend. . • •
I know I ' ve not been about much or seen many peo-
ple, but I do know this : that just as I could trust you
— always, anywhere — so I could trust my dear Lord
Caister. He 's very noble. He 's like King Arthur. He
is everything you could look up to as — quite great.
Will you go and see him? Tell him I asked you to. Say
what you like to him. And — and if after you come
back and tell me that he is like — those others — that
he would treat any girl as your sister was treated, or
even let any girl be treated so, then I will promise you
never to see him again any more at all."
Mr. Louie stood up.
"You give me permission to do that — really?"
"I would like you to go."
"And if I cannot truthfully tell you what you think
about him — what you most wish to believe? "
146 ROSE O' THE SEA
Up went Rose's head.
"You win I When you have seeii him you will know
what I know already: that he's like yourself — an
Mr. Louie bowed. There was nothing more to be
said. Rose had put him on the same plane as her noble-
man — put him on his honour.
Although a little man, Mr. Louie had a valiant heart.
His sense of duty was strong, but his disposition was
conservative. It made him esteem the aristocracy. In
his eyes they were a class apart, bred to nobility, some-
thing akin to royalty, and therefore worthy of respect
from commoners such as himself.
He was accordingly slightly awed by the impending
interview with Lord Caister, if it were granted him.
Lord Caister's public character had his esteem. His
military record in the war had won the admiration of
every man in the street, and Mr. Louie shared in it.
But that did not lessen the resentment he felt at his
intimacy with Rose Eton.
For Mr. Louie thought of Rose in much the same
way as men think of their coimtry; as a precious pos-
session to be guarded, defended, and succoured at all
costs. He loved her romantically, sacredly. She was
the sweetest thing that had ever come into his life. It
had been colourless before, apart from his passion for
He sent in his card to Lord Caister with trepidation.
He was not of the opinion that one man is as good as
another. He had the soul of a gentleman, but the
deferential instincts of one that venerates eminence
and respects rank.
Presently he foimd himself walking delicately in the
wake of a footman over wonderful Persian carpets,
through long, parqueted, pictured passages, into a
n;oming-room of imposing dimensions where Lord
Caister sat with his secretary.
148 ROSE O' THE SEA
On Mr. Louie's entry the secretary was dismissed.
"Good-morning," said his lordship. "You wish to
see me? Won't you sit down?"
Mr. Louie ignored the invitation. To sit would have
made him feel more ill at ease than he already was.
In spite of what hfe had to say he was not going to
forget his place. He was plain Mr. Louie of Gardner's,
son of a tradesman, in the presence of a peer of the
"I will not occupy much of your lordship's time,"
he said; "and I hope that your lordship will not con-
sider what I have to say as an impertinence. I do not
mean it to be one. I have come to see you at the request
of Miss Eton, one of our employees. At least — that is
to say, I had a talk with her and she expressed the wish
that I should call on you."
"I am glad to meet any friend of Miss Eton's,"
Caister assured him. "She has already told me that
you are one. And, as a friend, you are, quite rightly, a
little exercised in mind as to what my intentions may
be concerning her. Is that not so? "
It was so. In wording Mr. Louie's difficulty for him
Caister had considerately saved the little man a lot of
"I admit that I have been worrying a great deal,"
he confessed, "though it surprises me you should un-
derstand my feelings so well, my lord."
"Not at all. In your place, as her friend and em-
ployer, and so. In a way, responsible for her well-
being, I should experience the same anxiety/'
"Hiank you, my lord," gulped Mr. Louie. He red-
dened uncomfortably, then took his courage in both
hands. "But it is for another reason, a much more inti-
ROSE O' THE SEA 149
mate reason, that I wished to see you. It — it was my
dearest hope to make Miss Eton my wife. You — you
could not possibly have such an intention, if only
because of your position. So I have come to beg you
to discontinue a friendship which it appears to me may
— might be — dangerous — to her."
To his great relief Caister did not show any resent-
ment at this frank avowal.
"Did you tell her so?"
"I felt it was my duty, my lord."
"Perhaps it was. At all events, I am glad Miss
Eton asked you to see me, for now we can understand
one another. Please sit down."
Taking it as a command, Mr. Louie sat. There was
an air about Lord Caister that inspired submission as
well as confidence. To begin with, he did not in the
least look the type of man who would pay promiscuous
attentions to young women. Obviously, it would have
been beneath his dignity. Mr. Louie was quick to dis-
cern that. Charm, dignity, and manliness, combined
with that quality which is best described as straight-
ness, were, it was plain to see. Lord Caister's outstand-
"Now I am going to be absolutely frank with you,"
he said. "For your own sake as well as Rose's. We will
leave out the surname, shall we? We both think of her
as Rose. Has she told you how she came to know my
son and myself?"
"No, my lord, I know nothing."
"Very probably she thought such an explanation
might reflect on my son. Still, you should have it. My
son saw her iq the shop, got into conversation with her,
and finally prevailed on her to go out with him one
150 ROSE O' THE SEA
evening. He did not treat her respectfully, or he
alarmed her. She came to me in a great state of mind.
The next day I took her a note of apology from my son.
I stayed and had a long conversation with her. I be-
came very interested in her. She is so patently mispoilt,
so engagingly natural. She would grace any position in
life. She is patrician to look at, and in many ways
patrician by nature. I have seen her several times since.
A great friend of mine, Lady Chalfont, has also been
to see her, and is already fond of her. To put it briefly,
because I respect Rose so highly, because I — I like
her so much, I hoped that she might marry my son.
I knew nothing whatever of your own feelings or hopes
concerning her. From what you say, I don't suppose
she does either. But now that I do know them, I do
not intend to stand in your way. I have already told
her that I would dearly like her to be my son's wife,
but it has gone no further than that. I have not spoken
to my son on the subject, and Rose, in any case, has
not given me her answer. Therefore, there is nothing
at present to prevent your asking her to marry you if
that is your desire. You were first in the field, and be-
lieve me, paradoxical as it may soimd, I wish you suc-
cess. Moreover, you have my assurance that I will not
influence her in any way. I should like to write her a
letter, though, which I will ask you to deliver."
. He crossed to the writing-table in the window, sat
down and wrote a few lines which he put into an
envelope and handed unsealed to his visitor.
"I'm sure I thank you, my lord," said Mr. Louie.
"You have behaved to me as man to man. You have
honoured me by your confidence. I — I would like to
say how greatly I respect your lordship."
ROSE O' THE SEA 151
"Thank you." Caister held out his hand. Mr. Louie
took it humbly.
As he was about to leave the room he paused.
"There is one thing which troubles me/' he hesi-
tated. "You have advised me to speak to Miss Eton.
I shall have an opportimity on Sxmday. But woxild it
be right for me to do so under the circtmistances, and
so perhaps to stand in the way of her becoming a — a
" I think so. We all have freedom of choice. Position
and rank are not the only things in the world. I think
Rose will give her hand only where her heart has
Mr. Louie looked hard at Caister. For a moment he
did not speak. Then :
"She doesn't know her heart, my lord," he said
Miss Hobbs had wisely decided to take Rose's advice
in the matter of dress. She was quietly gowned, and,
in spite of her overflowing proportions, looked neat.
She had looked forward to this Sunday with tremen-
dous eagerness, and now at last it was here, and a fine
day into the bargain.
Her excitement made her subdued, a mood which
Mr. Loide appreciated, although he did not know the
reason. He had been half afraid that Miss Hol^bs
might be a bit noisy. He found her the reverse, quiet
and womanly, simply dressed and by no means un-
comely to look at. Her hair, he decided, was a beauti-
ful colour, and she had nice hands.
Of course in comparison to Rose she was the com-
monest clay, but then Rose's looks were exceptional.
Rose was not merely a very pretty girl; she had ex-
traordinary distinction. Mr. Louie was quite right in
his premiss that she would never have attracted Lord
Caister's attention had that not been so. He wondered
at his own temerity in ever having dreamt of making
Rose his own. That was it — a dream. He scarcely
dared hope that it might come true. He had visioned
her often enough, flitting in and out of the house and
about the garden especially, singing and arranging
flowers; but his imagination failed him when it came
to picturing her pursuing the ordinary avocations of
the average housewife in a small villa. Somehow the
ROSE O' THE SEA 153
grandeur of such a house as Lord Caister's seemed
more congruous to her.
Miss Hobbs, on the other hand, seemed to revel in
the domestic arts. Within five minutes of her introduc-
tion to his mother the two were deep in the discussion
of household management and cooking.
Plainly Miss Hobbs foimd favour with his mother.
She knew what she was talking about.
Rose listened to the conversation without being able
to participate in it. She had the haziest notion of
housework, had never heard of tea-leaves in conjimc-
tion with carpets, the efficacy of whitening for windows,
or the cleansing properties of one household soap as
compared with another. Nor could she talk of the
vagaries of maidservants, the extortions of tradesmen,
or the delinquencies of steam laimdries.
Their absorption afforded J^r. Lcuie the opportu-
nity he had been looking for. He took Rose into the
She had been rather preoccupied all the afternoon,
and had left Miss Hobbs to do most of the talking.
Kew Gardens had inspired her with wonder and de-
light; but on the way back she had scarcely said a
word. Her thoughts seemed to absorb her.
And now, after he had placed a chair for her, she sat
with her hands in her lap, still silent, still thoughtful.
"You're very quiet," he said at length. "Is any-
thing troubling you?"
" Not exactly. Only I — I have to make up my mind
about something, and I 'm half afraid."
"Can I help you?"
"Yes, I think so. I would like to ask you about it,
because I know you will tell me what you think would
1^4 ROSE or THE SEA
be best.^ Sbe u^ntA, '^ Yoa fazve been quiet, too^ tbxs
af U^nooiL Are yoa tioabled as vdl? Won't jdh tdB
jne, too? Perbaps we can bdp each otber."
Tbus enormiaged^ Mr. Looie took a mental i^oDge.
^I win tell yen,'' be said, ^because it is about your-
self. A sbort wbik ago yon tdd me yoa weie bappy in
your fife and your work, and tbat yoa would not wisb
it akered in any way. Does work sdll satisfy you?
I don't tbink it does quite. Yoa are leaving cbildhood
behind yoo. Flowers aie not everything in the wodd
to yoa noWy are they? They were your only friends.
Now yoa care for people."
Rose nodded. ''Yes, I do. What does that mean?"
''It means you are getting older. You win soon be a
woman. Women love flowers, but they care for other
things more — a home, a husband. They will come to
you because you, more than most, are made to be
The words were out. The passion he felt showed in
his voice, so that at last Rose became aware of it. Mr.
Louie stood in front of her. No longer was he the kind-
hearted little business man who had befriended her;
he was something more. Love, that most ennobling of
the emotions, had transfigured him. Physically insig-
nificant he might be and was, but at this supreme mo-
ment he cut no ridiculous figure. He was a lover and a
"I must tell you now," he went on in a tumult. "I
can't keep it back, although I can't say it in the way
I want to. I — I love you. From the very first minute
I saw you with your basket of flowers, I must have
loved you. I dreamt of you that very night. I — I
dreamt that you were a flower in some other man's
ROSE O' THE SEA 155
garden, and I wanted you for my own. I put off speak-
ing to you because you seemed so happy as you were.
It wasn't quite time. I could wait and watch you
under my eyes. But youVe grown up all of a sud-
den. You'll grow out of my sight if I wait. I feel I
want you with all my heart. I — I could n't bear to
lose you. I'm — I'm asking you to marry me —
soon. The world is n't all a garden, Rose, my little
darling. We can't live like the flowers, growing side
by side and never knowing each other any more than
flowers do. We 're man and woman in a world of men
and women, and there 's life before us in a workaday
world, but a life we can make more beautiful by
His agitation and his fervour made Rose tremble.
Miss Hobbs would have given her soul to be wooed in
like manner, whereas Rose, the tender-hearted, could
only recoil from it and so give pain. . . . She tried hard
to say something, and failed.
Mr. Louie went on :
"I went to see Lord Caister. I meant to tell you
that first. You 're quite right. He 's as straight as — as
a sword. He told me how he came to know you, and
how he hopes you will marry his son. And I told him
how I 'd been treasuring up my love for you all these
months. He gave me this letter for you. The flap's
open. I suppose that is a real gentleman's way of let-
ting another person know that he trusts him. I have n't
read it, of course. Will you look at it now before you
answer me? "
Rose took it from him, wondering what Lord Caister
could have to say. The letter was terse and to the
point — a soldier's letter.
156 ROSE O THE SEA
My deas Child,
It was quite right of you to ask Mr. Louie to come and
see me. He is a good fellow, and I believe he has something
to say to you. When you listen to him I want you to put
my hopes concerning Denis and yourself out of your mind,
to look deep into your heart, and if it inclines you to make
another man happy, to be guided by your feelings. Of one
thing I am certain, you would have a kind and devoted
husband in Mr. Louie, and with him your life would be
made as smooth as possible. Whichever way your choice
lies, count on me always as yoiu: sincere friend.
Rose folded up the letter. Its wording gave her a
feeling of hopelessness, but it was infinitely precious.
Then she looked at Mr. Louie — waiting for his an-
swer. She would have given worlds not to hurt him. In
her childish way she did her best to soften the disap-
pointment whidi she knew she was about to inflict.
"It's very kind of you. I never guessed you liked
me so much. But it would n't do. You 'd be sorry after
you 'd married me. I — I have n't got the ways of a
wife. I'd never be able to turn out a room or make
puddings. I don't understand anything mside a house;
only out-of-door coimtry things."
"I shouldn't expect you to bother about house-
keeping," he made haste to say. "My mother could
do that. It would be simply perfect if you were just
here — part of my home, part of my life. There's
nothing that matters in the world except love, dear."
His voice trembled. "We'd go into the country or to
the sea — whichever you liked — for our honeymoon.
Oh, I'll teach you to love me!" He reached out to
her. "Give me your little hands and your heart with
ROSE O' THE SEA 157
He had taken a step or two towards her. In another
moment he would have held her in his arms. But she
shrank back. On the instant she became aware, in the
instinctive way which a girl has at such a moment,
that deeply though she liked and respected him, she
could not have let him caress her as a lover. No, she
was not for him. All her nature told her that, and Rose,
above all people, was a child of nature. It was not in
her to dissemble.
"I — can't,'' she said faintly. "I — I could n't love
you as a — wife."
Mr. Louie's arms fell. That slight but none the
less spontaneous avoidance of him did its work. It
told him more finally than any words could that he
had asked too much. The magic of her would never
be for him. All the life and hope died out of his face,
once and for all. Rose saw it. She was ready to cry,
in expiation of the suffering she had unwittingly
inflicted on the kindest, most gentle of men. And
she knew that nothing she could say could comfort
him • • •
Mr. Louie turned away for a minute or two. When
he next spoke there was no trace of the lover in his
manner. He had stifled his feelings. He was just her
friend again, her patient friend, ready to help her in
all her difficulties.
"Don't trouble about me," he said in answer to the
concern in her face. "I'm a prosaic fellow, you know.
I shall work a little harder to keep myself from think-
ing too much about what I can't have. Work 's the best
remedy in the world for any — miscalculation. I'm
not going to pine away." He smiled at her. "Mine
would be a poor sort of love if I let it overwhelm me
158 ROSE O' THE SEA
like that. It would n't be worthy of you. I can put my
personal feelings out of sight, but I can also be the
better and the stronger for loving you. I mean to be.
Now, please don't trouble about me any more. Tell
me what was worrying you — making you so quiet?
Was it about this decision you have promised Lord
"It would mean leaving Gardner's soon," she said.
"And being married — }ji a few months." She turned
to him impetuously. "And I'm afraid. I'm awfully
afraid! I want to help Lord Caister and Denis, but I
don't love Denis any more than — than I love you.
Am I boimd to love somebody some day; or, if I mar-
ried Denis, would love just pass me by? "
"Love will never pass you by," he said solemnly.
She looked at him, large-eyed.
"How shall I know it when it comes? "
"You will know it instantly. You will look into its
face, and not be afraid. * Perfect love casteth out fear.'
Those words from the Bible describe it best. It applies
to human love as well as to the divine."
Rose pondered his words.
" Is love — worship?"
"That is one form of it. It is different things to
"Is love happy?"
"Not always. It depends on what you call happi-
ness. To some people love only means suffering."
"Yes. That is the highest form of love."
"Then — is it right to sacrifice one's self for love's
ROSE O' THE SEA 159
He answered a little uncertainly: "It depends —
upon circumstances." ^
Rose looked straight in front of^her. In her face was
the uplifted expression of one who listens to a heavenly
voice. She was hearing her heart speak . . .
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Jifwe w'/jM hatve bcstCTrai Rose and Rose s love iqxn
Wm, if <^*ly to see tiia kappr. ^liss Hcbbs kanfly ever
th^ytl^it c^ herself . She had been made <hi a laige scale,
an/i her heart was prc^ardonate to her size.
*^Mm Eton gone home?" repeated Mis. Look,
when the iact was conveyed to her. "Whatever for?
Why di^l n^t she come in here to say good-bye, my
^' We did n^t want to distm-b your talk. She asked
me to say good-bye for her. She was feeling rather
'' I thought she looked a little pale at tea/' nodded
Mff*. Louie. ''Country girls lose their colour quickly
r 1m ]Am<Um, Well, my dear/' she turned to Miss Hobbs
l^U^UXf "an I wan saying, after you Ve beaten the eggs
Wrll mid Htlrrrd the mixture with your hand — not a
Mpoon - -• you let it stand for half an hour and pop it
ROSE O' THE SEA 161
into the oven — a moderate one, mind — bake for an
hour and serve with jam. It's Leonard's favourite."
But even the engrossing subject of Mr. Louie's
favourite sweet could not hold Miss Hobbs's attention
now. She was thinking so much more of the quiet sor-
row in his- face. It made her want to take his head on
her shoulder and to smooth his brow with her fingers,
as she did to her little crippled sister when the pain
Thinking that he would prefer to be alone, she pres-
ently got up and also said good-bye. Mr. Louie made
ready to accompany her.
"Please don't trouble," she deprecated. "It's quite
light, and I alwajrs go about alone."
"I'd like the walk if I may come," he said.
"Yes, I'm sure he'd like the walk," his mother
echoed. She was quite convinced now that Miss Hobbs
was a most excellent young woman; not, of course,
striking in any way, like Rose Eton, but amiable and
homely: the sort of girl she herself would like exceed-
ingly to have as a companion in her son's absence all
day. She meant to broach the subject to him when an
The couple set out on their walk. Miss Hobbs
scouted the idea of a taxi. She felt equal to walking
interminably without tiring so long as she had Mr.
Louie beside her. She was very quiet, divining that
he felt disinclined for talk. He was grateful for her
silence and her unobtrusive company.
By and by he spoke.
"Miss Eton will be leaving Gardner's very shortly.
She told me I might tell you."
All Miss Hobbs's sensibilities were stirred. Rose
i62 ROSE O' THE SEA
leaving Gardner's! That could mean only one thing!
Then she must have been mistaken in the reason for
Mr. Louie's grave face. Rose had accepted him, after
"To be married?" she cried. "I thought — I was
afraid — she was going to say 'no/ I'm so glad if
you're happy — "
She broke off, looking into his face. Even in the twi-
light she could see that it was still grave.
"You must not congratulate me," he said. "Rose
Is going to have a more exalted name than I can offer
her. Her mind was made up when she left us to-night.
She is going to marry a nobleman's son."
The news excited, but did not altogether startle
Miss Hobbs. Her romantic temperament made her
receptive of anything to do with love or marriage,
especially when it concerned Rose.
"I'm not smprised," she said after a pause. "Really
I'm not. And so long as Rose is happy I'm awfully
glad — except for you. I can't bear to see you sad.
I know you love her. You could n't help it; no one
could. She's one of those people you read about in
books, beautiful and sweet and charming and all that.
Sometimes, not often, you come across them in real
life, as we have. But only for a minute, like a simbeam
across a room. We could n't expect more. They have
so much to do — people like Rose. Even if they're
bom in humble drciunstances they get mixed up with
great people somehow. I 'm fond of reading, you know;
all sorts of romances and novels. There was Lady
Hamilton, just a commofi girl, but lovely like Rose,
and great people loved her, even a queen. And Nell
GwynUi she was another. I don't wonder that some-
ROSE O' THE SEA 163
thing out-of-the-way is going to happen to Rose. I
think it 's wonderful just to be able to watch her life
unfolding and to know that she 's our friend. It may
be a great thing to remember one day. Don't let it
make you unhappy.'*
"You have helped me," said Mr. Louie; "you have
helped me very much. When one"" feels sad it is very
comforting to know that some one else understands and
is sorry. I shall always love her." He sighed heavily.
"Of course you will. But after a while it won't hurt
like it does now. I know, because I 've loved too in very
much the same way as you have. But there it is! I'm
not a bit unhappy now. I shall love one man until I
die, but I'm not going to mope because he's not for
me. And if I get the chance I shall marry some one else
and be a good wife. But I shall love the first one all the
same and my love won't be wicked, either. It 's good
to care like that — just once in a lifetime. If the person
we loved so tremendously cared for us as much and
in the same way it would be heaven — heaven on
earth, which I don't think we're meant to have."
"Perhaps you're right. But I shouldn't want a
" You say that because you 're a man, A woman feels
differently. She wants a husband, but she wants chil-
dren too. As she gets older the longing for little things
of her own — little and helpless — is greater than her
longing to be loved. She 's glad to take the second-best
just to be a mother. And I think very often a man sfid
a woman who take that second-best find it was best
after all. A home and mutual interests and children
mean a lot. Love comes. Not the sort of love that's all
dreamy and upsetting, but one that grows steadily
i64 ROSE O' THE SEA
from a humble little seed into a great, strong, flourish-
ing tree. I hope you '11 find that out one day for your-
self. We can always look back on the dream. . . . How
I've been talking!" She pulled herself up. "Here I am
at my very own door. Thank you for bringing me home.
You won't come in, I suppose?"
Mr. Louie hesitated. Miss Hobbs had laid very
healing hands upon his aching heart.
"Not to-night," he said. "Another time, if I may.
I like to hear you talk. It is so kind of you."
"Kind!" Miss Hobbs choked. She stood still, think-
ing of the immense capacity for something infinitely
more inspiring than kindness that she would have dis-
played towards Mr. Louie had the opportunity been
offered her. "I must go now," she said hurriedly. "My
little sister is all alone and waiting for me."
Rather precipitately she said good-night, let her-
self in with her latch-key, and ran upstairs to the
small invalid to whom she devoted her life.
"What, all in the dark, darling?" she cried breath-
lessly. "Have you been lonely? I didn't mean to be
away so long. I hope they've looked after you. We'll
have a light and then I'll^et your supper, pet."
She lit the gas, forgetting to draw down the blind.
The sudden blaze of light from the open window
made Mr. Louie, now on the opposite side of the road,
turn and look up. He could see right into the illumined
room. The picture presented there brought him to a stop.
He looked and looked, and gradually he became
inspired by a new sensation — a sensation as comfort-
ing as it was unexpected.
For, strangely enough, his heart was moved at the
sight of Miss Hobbs with a child in her arms.
"Now what is going to happen?" asked Lady Chal-
font. She had dropped in for a chat with Caister and
was having tea with him. "Is Rose really going to
marry Denis? And what does Denis say? "
"I'm glad to say that he seems ready enough to
fall in with the plan," replied Caister. "He has agreed
to leave town. He 's waiting to see Rose first, though.
She has n't given me her answer yet."
"So that everything depends on her. . . • And if
she says * yes'?"
"We shall shut up this house and go down to
"I suppose you'll get some sort of a dragon?'* pro-
"A chaperon? Yes. I dare say I shall be able to hear
of one at a social agency."
Maggy nodded. " You ought to have a woman-body
— a lady about the place, I think. For a while, at
least. When do you want them to get married? Don't
hurry them. Bob. Take my advice. I'm a little sorry
for Rose, you know. You 're asking her to do a pretty
big thing. Of course, in the world's eyes, it's a chance
in a thousand for her, but Rose is n't worldly. If she
decides to go through with this, it '11 be because you 'w
asked her. You're aware of it, are n't you?"
Caister's face clouded.
"What makes you say that?" he asked tmeasily.
"Because I know it. I understand Rose. In some
wa3rs she's like me, or rather like I used to be, ex-
i66 ROSE O' THE SEA
cept that she 's innately good and I was n^t. But she
and I have a lot of feelings and affections in common.
Like me, she <:an't understand half-measures. Where
she loves she'll let a person make a doormat of her.
She won't choose without a lot of heartburning,
though." She looked at him pointedly, and added, "If
the choice were left to her it would n't be a young man,
"Do you mean to imply that she loves me?" he
asked with a wry smile. "My dear Maggy, you're
too romantic. I'm old enough to be her father.'*
An impatient expression came into Maggy's face
and then one not far from disappointment.
"All men who have married yoimg talk like that.
It's a stock phrase," she complained. "You're as
young as you feel and look, which is about thirty-five.
I 'm not saying Rose loves you. But she 's on the road
to loving you with all her heart and soul and strength.
You know I always say what I think. Don't try to dis-
illusion yourself. Do you ever think about what you
feel for Rose? Something very intense and precious,
is n't it?"
Caister had to take time to reply to this embar-
rassing question. After a pause he said:
"Well, yes, naturally, or I shouldn't want her to
Maggy wanted to shake him.
"Now, suppose Denis did n't exist. Suppose he was
out of the way. What would you wish for Rose then?
Would you cease to be interested in her?"
He smiled with an affectation of amusement.
"What hypothetical questions you put, Maggy!
How could Dienis be *out of the way'? So how can
ROSE O^ THE SEA 167
I tell you what I should feel or think under such un-
likely circumstances? "
" Could n't you? Then you must be singularly un-
imaginative The truth is, you don't want to think."
She nodded sagaciously as she got up to go. "Well, I
hope with all my heart that Rose will be happy, and
you, too; and that Denis will win through. All the
same, if you're on the road to loving Rose yourself,
take her and thank Grod for her. Don't think only of
Denis. And lastly, my dear good friend, dismiss the
idea from your mind that you 're old and imlikely to
appeal to a woman much younger than yourself. If
I was n't head over ears in love with my own husband,
I should probably adore you myself." She held out her
"You think I've done wrong in asking Rose what
I have? You think I 'm asking her to sacrifice herself? "
Maggy's serene face clouded over,
"I did n't at first. In fact, I advised it, so now, in a
way, I feel partly responsible. I don't doubt that she '11
help Denis, and that if any one can make a better
man of him she will. But what sort of a husband will
he be to her? Is it in him to make her moderately
happy? Rose's happiness ought to be considered, you
know. She may promise to marry Denis, but, remem-
ber, she has n't much notion of what marriage means.
That's why I say, don't hurry it on. Let them have
plenty of time to know each other first. You '11 think
I'm a real old woman, Bob; but arranging marriages
for other people is — well, the deuce and all. It's not
only their lives one is juggling with, but the precious
lives of the little people who may come afterwards . . ."
i68 ROSE O' THE SEA
She left him to his thoughts. He had not been alone
long when the door opened again and the footman
announced the name that was uppermost in his mind.
It was Rose. She was dressed in the demure grey
frock and black hat Maggy had given her. Her manner
was shy. Her greeting came with hesitation. There was
a pause. Then she summoned up courage to explain
"I thought I would come to see you Instead of
writing/' she said nervously. "I've been a long time
making up my mind, but now I 've — decided. If you
still wish it and think it would help Denis, I — I will
marry him — if he wants me. And — and I will do
my best to be a good wife" (words seemed to choke
her), "and to be a great lady. At least I can try to be
good, and in that way I may become what they — I
mean your ancestors — would wish."
She summoned up a smile, brave yet wistful. It
touched Caister's heart. He foimd himself unable to
" make any response.
Rose went on: "And I will try ever so hard to help
Denis. But if — if he won't let me — you — you won't
be disappointed in me?" ^
"I should never be disappointed in you," he said.
"Still, since I first spoke to you I have had doubts. Is
what I am asking of you too big, too serious a thing? "
"Not if you wi3h it."
"And you think you could love Denis? "
Rose met the question halfway.
" I was talking to Miss Hobbs about love this morn-
ing. She 's a friend of mine at Gardner's. She 's older
than I am and often talks about love — in a wise way,
I think. She says there are two kinds: one a sort of
ROSE O' THE SEA 169
breathless worship, and the other like a steady flame
that comes later — after marriage. That, I suppose —
and hope — is the love that will come to me if I marry
Denis. I — I like him very much.'*
It happened that Denis came into the room as she
finished speaking. He was not surprised to see her. He
knew that her promised decision about herself was
due, and he guessed that she had come to give it.
"I think you and Rose will be glad of the oppor-
tunity of a talk alone," Caister said. "She has some-
thing to say to you, Denis."
He left the room, feeling that they would find it
easier to come to an imderstanding if he were not
Looking a little awkward, Denis took the chair his
father had vacated.
"Are you going to turn me down. Rose?" he asked
a shade doubtfully. "I dare say I don't deserve any-
"I have said 'yes,' " she murmured. "That is, if you
want me, Denis."
Her simple candour made his pulses throb. Of course
he wanted her: at least all that was best in him did;
but he was not conceited, and, above all, he had a
spasmodic sense of honour. He was fairly sure that
Rose did not love him. He was equally sure that if she
married him it would be out of the goodness of her
heart, because she wanted to retrieve his past and en-
sure his future. But he had his own scruples as to
whether, after all, this would be fair to her. He made
a laboured attempt to explain these scruples.
"I want you as much as I want anjrthing," he said
earnestly; "and I'm as fond of you as a fellow can be.
170 ROSE O' THE SEA
But you ought to know what you're taking on, Rose.
. . . I'm the worse for wear. It's not in me to give any
girl, not even you whom I admire and respect, the
perfect sort of love poets write about. That 's what you
deserve and ought to have. Only a man who's yoimg in
heart is capable of it. I'm young in years, but my
heart's as ancient as a pre-war motor-engine, and I've
lived so idiotically that I'm a 'bad life,' as the insur-
ance people say. Do you know what I mean? Is it good
enough for you?"
Rose's lips quivered. Inexperienced though she was,
she knew that this was not true courtship; knew and
felt all its shortcomings and incompleteness. There was
no magic in it, no glamour. Something in it was lack-
ing. But she had made up her mind that she was not
going to think of herself. She had promised to shoulder
the task of rescuing Denis from himself in the hope of
making him what his father wished — a man in the
best sense of the word. She pitied him with all her
heart. His looks pitied him too. He had grown much
"Oh, Denis, don't ask me questions about what I
feel," she implored. "We're both young. Let 's try as
hard as ever we can to — to make things better for
each other — together."
Denis's lack-lustre eyes brightened.
"If we only could!" he exclaimed. "Lord, I'm ready
to make the effort! I'll begin by taking a course of the
stuff they advertise for gingering up the constitution.
Phosfer-hyphen-something, don't you know. Perhaps
if I felt physically stronger I shouldn't be such a
moral rotter." He stopped, hesitated, and then went
on. "There's something I ought to tell you, though,
ROSE O' THE SEA 171
if we're going to be a bit more to each other than
just friends. You remember the other night, when I
was telling you how I put in my time, I mentioned a
girl called Vivienne?"
"Well," he floimdered, "I'd better make a clean
breast of it. Fact is, I nearly got as far as marrying her.
I should have if she had n't suddenly let me off. That 's
all. Only I was — pretty thick with her. You under-
Rose did not imderstand.
"Thank you for telling me," she said. "We need n't
say anything more about hter, then, need we?"
"No, of course not — except this, I — I shall have
to break it off definitely — see her once — and say
good-bye. Writing might be awkward. That's really
all. Now I want to ask you a question. Do you think,
say after a time, you might get just a little fond of
me?" He leant towards her anxiously. "If I thought
there was a chance of that it woidd be a — a sort of
motive. Help me no end, you know."
"Of coiurse I — want to be fond of you," she replied,
almost desperately. "It — it would be so — so desolate
and empty if we did n't care for each other, would n't
Denis nodded vigorously.
"How long are we going to be engaged?" he asked.
"Don't make it an age. When we get away by our own
two selves — "
"Oh, not by ourselves 1" she interrupted in alarm.
"Your father won't leave us. He promised me he'd be
with us always."
Denis laughed nervously.
172 ROSE O' THE SEA
"I hope he will. But — I say — not on our honey-
moon!" Then seeing Rose's increasing alarm, he ex-
plained: '^I mean, we shan't want him then, shall we?
He 's a rattling good chap and a splendid father, but I
can't share my wife with him all the time."
Their future relationship, so badly expressed, dis-
Denis's wife ! Of course she would be a wife ! Would
that make things different? Would it alter her feelings?
Would she want to be alone with him then? At present
she dreaded it. Not alone! Anything but alone!
Denis took her silence for concurrence. It gave him
"Then — I may kiss you? " he asked, and, as though
it were a good joke, added, " You won't knodt me down
The teasing words masked a good deal of feeling.
He knew he would never want to kiss Rose lightly
again. . • •
Rose could not raise her eyes to meet his. They were
heavy with tears. She supposed every engaged girl felt
a little inclined to cry. It could n't be sadness. . , .
Why should she be sad? She was a very lucky girl.
Miss Hobbs said so, She was going to be ever so happy.
She was going to live in the coimtry again, in beautiful
surroimdings, amongst friends. And Lord Caister
would be there — she hoped — always. What more
could she wish for? She was going to be Denis's wife
and help him. Of course she was happy, and — and
Denis could kiss her, It — it was his right.
She swayed towards him, and he took her in his
Caister had gone to the library* It was the room he
ROSE O' THE SEA 173
used more than any other in his town house. It was
associated with many memories in his life. Here, in this
room, he had proposed to Denis's mother. . . . Her
memory had grown a little vague with the years. The
match had been more or less arranged for them. She
had been a beautiful girl, of charming maimers, a Uttle
characterless, extremely delicate. He had admired and
respected her. She had died in the first year of their
marriage. ... In this room they had come to tell him
of Denis's birth. In this room there had been enacted
coimtless scenes with Denis as boy and man, mostly
scenes Caister would rather not have remembered.
Some were locked in his heart. ... No human being
would ever hear or know of them. ... In this room
Rose had come to him, seeking him in her desperate
fear lest she had killed Denis — Rose, his little
Rose! . . .
And then breaking across his thoughts, almost as
clearly as she had said them, he seemed to hear the
words Lady Chalf ont had spoken only a few minutes
"Z?(? you eoer think about what you feel for Rose?
Something very intense and precious, isn't it? . . .If
you're on the road to loving Rose yourself, take her and
thank God for her."
With that he knew what he had not definitely per-
ceived before — he had made his plans for Denis with
Rose as the comer-stone, and all the while he loved
her himself, not as a daughter but as a woman, —
loved her as never in his life had he conceived it possible
to love. It was a flame, a fire. He — loved — her!
The realisation of his feelings came on him like a
blinding lightning flash; everything became plain
174 ROSE O' THE SEA
that before had been obscure. His paternal instincts
were swamped, by the natural passions of a man who
loves desperately and devotedly.
There was still time. Perhaps Denis and Rose had
not yet come to an understanding. He had hardly been
out of the room ten nainutes. He would go back there —
now — at once. Hope gave him the assurance that it
was not too late; that he would be in time to tell Rose
what he had seen in his heart and felt in his soul. He
would offer himself to her, ask her to choose. They
could still help Denis. The only difference would be
that Rose would be his wife — his little wife . • .
With his heart beating in a way that no old man's
heart can beat, as eagerly as a boy, Caister returned to
the room where he had left his destiny, hoping to over-
But destiny had been beforehand with him. He
opened the door to see Denis take Rose in his arms to
claim his betrothal kiss . . •
ViviENNE was waiting for Denis. He had made an
appointment with her for four o'clock that afternoon.
She supposed he intended taking her out to tea to some
smart showy place where actresses and ladies of the
chorus do what they can to brighten up the non-pro-
fessional assemblage of demurely dressed tea-drinkers.
Vivienne wore a "dazzle" frock, especially designed
for her by a theatrical fashion artist who had long
since given up art for audacity, good taste for gaudi-
ness, and who bid for notoriety rather than fame by
means of eccentricity and dash of color. Vivienne's
frock had a canary background, with scarlet and green
zigzag effects. Her hat consisted of two scarlet beaked
parrots skilfully amalgamated. She felt exceedingly sat-
isfied with her appearance. It was quite uniquely outri.
Denis was a little staggered when he saw her.
"B' Jove, VivT* he exclaimed. "You look like the
business end of a kaleidoscope 1 What are you sup-
posed to be? A new comet, or an ad. for a dye factory?'*
"It's the latest thing in dazzles," she informed him.
"I don't suppose there's another in London like it.
Where are we going, Denny? Carlton? "
"If you don't mind I'd prefer to have a cup of tea
with you here. I 've got something awfully particular
He spoke irresolutely; Vivienne looked vexed.
"You are disappointing!" she cried. "I meant to
make a sensation in this dress. Still, any old time will
do for that. We '11 tea here then." She rang the bell and
176 ROSE O' THE SEA
ordered it. " Whatever 's the matter with you, boy? You
remind me of a stage curate. Thank goodness I 've never
met a real one. Are you feeling nervy? Does this frock
give you the creeps, like my peignoir with the dragons? "
"Not a bit. My nerves are O.K. this afternoon.
I'm simply bothered. I've got something to tell you
that you may not like; sort of an operation — best
got over quickly. I don't flatter myself that you'll
mind it very much. I'm not such a blessedly lovable
character that a girl could n't get on without me."
Vivienne's attitude became alert.
" Get on with it, Denis. You 're a pal of mine, any-
way; and if you've anything nasty to say let's have it
without tissue-paper wrappings. I think I can guess
what you 're driving at. You 're thinking of quitting
the husks-and-swine trade to settle down and fatten
up respectable calves iq the country. Is that it? "
Her metaphor might be mixed, but her meaning was
plain. Denis was glad of the opening she provided.
"Well, yes, in a way. As you know, I've promised
my father times without number that I'd turn over a
new leaf. Fact is, I've done that so often that I've
pretty nearly got to the end of a book as big as the
Encyclopaedia Britannica. I'm more in earnest this
time, though, than I ever was before. We're leaving
town, and I — I've come to say good-bye."
Vivienne sat very still. A tinge of whiteness began to
show imder her rouge.
"Is that all?" she asked in a queer voice.
"N-not quite. I want to say that I — you've been
awfully decent to me in no end of ways. You 've been
a regular little pal. Although you stand for the sort
of life that the doctor Johnnies say will do for me,
ROSE O' THE SEA 177
and IVe got to give it up, I'm deuced sorry. It was
jolly while it lasted, was n't it?"
"Yes ... it was jolly while it lasted," she repeated
dully. Then her voice got out of control. "Oh, Denny,
I can't help it! let me howl!"
To his astonishment and discomfiture she collapsed
utterly, sobbing like a child. As suddenly, her sobs
ceased. She mopped at her eyes and smiled.
"That's that! Now I've got rid of the overflow, we
can proceed. Are you absolutely serious, Denny? "
" I 've been a pip-squeak all round," he said dismally.
"I've given my father no end of trouble. I've mon-
keyed about and spent money that he couldn't
afford; and I can't even make you a decent present
now that the time has come for us to part."
"Oh, cut that out!" she cried. "If I'm not tiled
in it 's my own fault. I have n't been out for the dibs
with you, Denny. At first I was quite ready to marry
you for your rotten position; but after a bit, especially
lately, I've not thought so much about that, though
I dare say no one would believe it. I could n't play the
'my lady' stunt well enough to get an encore. I should
hate reforming and turning classy. I've realised I'm
not cut out for society with a capital S. I'm pretty
sure to have had the sense to see that before it was
too late, and so saved myself the vexation of being
laughed at by the nobility of Grosvenor Square and
the aristocracy of Garrick Street. No, you'll be all the
better without me and my friendship. It's bad for
little boys. Did you think I was going to cut up rough
and make a scene? Not this girl, old dear. There are
other pebbles on the beach."
178 ROSE O' THE SEA
Her liveliness was quite well enough assiuned to
deceive him. It almost deceived herself.
"Well, I think you're behaving like a trump," he
Vivienne employed a little gesture of the hand to
make light of his gratitude.
"Don't canonise me, old man,'^ she rejoined. "I'm
a little cat at heart, not to be trusted for longer than
the duration of a mood. When are you going to chuck
"End of the week, I believe."
"Going to be married?"
"To a sweet young thing?"
"Yes. Don't chip me, Viv. She's all right."
Vivienne's good mood was petering out already.
"I dare say she is," she said viciously. "I hate her,
anyhow. She's too good to discuss with mel That's
what you feel about her, is n't it? I suppose you 're in
love — solemnly and sacredly. I suppose she'll wear
orange blossoms and a long train and look as if butter
would n't melt in her mouth; and you'll turn pi and
look after your tenantry. . . . Oh, I don't carel You'll
be bored stiff. I shan't!"
Before he left she got busy with the telephone. Tele-
phoning was more of an industry than a habit with
her, like painting her face or getting photographed. At
first it did not dawn on him that she was fixing up a
farewell supper to celebrate his approaching renun-
ciation of a life of dissipation, and calling up a nxmiber
of their joint friends for the purpose. When he did
tiunble to it he protested.
Vivienne only snuled. She was an adept in that art
ROSE O' THE SEA 179
commonly described as twisting a person round one's
"Buck up, Denny!" she said gaily. "Positively
your last appearance on this or any other lively stage.
Plenty of fizz and a great big splash, and then good-
bye to all your little weaknesses! I suppose you've
no objection to kissing me for positively the last time? '*
Dazzled by her frock or her smile, or both, Denis
recommenced his giddy gyration around that prac-
tised little finger of hers. After all, it was only chummy
of Viv to want to give a last "beano" In his honour.
No real harm either in "Chimmie" or roulette after-
wards. He must be a jolly good fellow for the last time,
and not spoil sport . . .
Vivienne's smile was very subtle. She was a little
cat at heart again, not to be trusted for longer than
the duration of a mood . . .
i82 ROSE O' THE SEA
tion. He was an orphan, a self-made man, and pos-
sessed of no relatives that we can hear of. For some
private reason, which does not concern us, he appears
to have taken an incomprehensible dislike to money,
which perhaps accoimts for his migration to a remote
English village, where he chose to live in poor sur-
roimdings and apparentiy straitened drcimastances.
I should surmise that before leaving his own coimtry
he provided himself with a large amount of ready
cash, on which he subsequentiy lived. The rest has
remained untouched, accumulating for years, and
Miss Eton, his adopted daughter, is his sole heiress."
"Heiress to what?'* enquired Mrs. Bree excitedly.
"The acciunulated sum amoujits apparentiy to
something like forty-five thousand pounds. The reg-
ular income is derived from an oil-field in which Mr.
Eton invested a further thirty-five thousand pounds.
It brings in about ten thousand poimds a year. The
whole estate is unconditionally left to Miss Eton. All
that we have to do is to inform her of it. Can you give
us her address? "
Neither Mr. nor Mrs. Bree could speak for some
moments. Mr. Tredgold's news, imparted though it
had been with monumental imperturbability, had
literally deprived them of breath. He repeated his
question with some impatience.
"But we don't know where she is,'' deplored Mrs.
Bree. "We believe she went to London, and that is
"Did you not obtain any situation for her?"
"We oflEered her one in our own house. We were
not in a position to do more. She behaved most im-
pulsively and, I regret to say, rudely. She practically
ROSE O' THE SEA 183
ran away from us. We have been terribly worried.
Of course she must be found,"
Mr. Tredgold looked perplexed.
"We must advertise, I suppose," he said, "to the
eflFect that if she will communicate with us she will
hear of something to her advantage."
"If you do that she will be more difficult to find
than ever. She '11 take fright. She might think we our-
selves wanted to know where she was, and perhaps
change her address. I doubt also whether 'something
to her advantage' would tempt her. She's quite as in-
different to moniey as Mr. Eton was, and knows noth-
ing of its value. Mr. Eton brought her up to dislike
it. Could n't you employ one of the private detective
agencies to try and trace her? "
Mr. Tredgold thought over the suggestion.
"That might be the better course," he agreed. "It
would, of course, necessitate a heavy outlay, but the
amplitude of the amount involved would stand it.
However, I must first consult my partner. We will
advertise only as a last resort. Directly we hear any-
thing we will let you know, and if by any chance you
should obtain any clue to Miss Eton's whereabouts
you will communicate with us at once, I take it. Good-
And he was gone.
The Vicar and his wife looked at one another.
"Just think of itl Rose an heiress I" breathed Mrs.
Bree. "It sounds almost miraculous 1 Whatever will
she do with such an amount of money? It will be a
tremendous trust. Let us hope she will see jit in that
light. How much good she could do with itl"
"Indeed, yes. The parish room is sadly in need of
1 84 ROSE O' THE SEA
repair, and the pew cushions are quite threadbare.
There 's the church tower, too, dangerously out of the
perpendicular. I trust it will remain standing until
— ahem ! — Mr. Tredgold succeeds in bestowing this
great inheritance on the fortunate girl. There is no
limit to the good she might do with it!"
"She might even . . . But there! The first thing is
to find her. It's not much use anticipating what she
will do with her money and who will be benefited by
it imtil she 's found and told about it. K only we could
give her the good news ourselves ! You know, Ambrose,
I 'm still of the opinion that old Becky Gryls could tell
us something, if only she would."
"Old Becky is not likely to last the day. And that
reminds me, Mary: Dr. Lewis left a message this
morning asking me to go up there as soon as possible,
in case she might like spiritual consolation at the last.
I very much doubt whether she would, though." He
sighed. " She has always been such a wayward soul."
He prepared for the long walk down hill and up dale
to Becky's habitation. Mrs. Bree put on her outdoor
things to accompany him.
"I won't bother her, Ambrose," she promised. "I'll
just come along with you."
They found Becky Gryls very weak, but in an un-
wontedly serene mood. She seemed fully conscious of
her condition, and because she was so full of years
luif eignedly glad that her end was near. After all, her
God had not forgotten to come for her, nor, for all her
waywardness, was she afraid to meet Him. "
Perhaps, because she believed herself gifted with the
spirit of prophecy, she also had a larger vision. It
ROSE O' THE SEA 185
The Vicar came in and knelt by her bedside.
"Aye, pray, then," said Becky easily. "There's a
deal in prayer, after all, so long as it 's out of the heart,
not a book."
So the Vicar, who was a good man, prayed from his
heart to ease the passing of Becky's strange old soul.
"Bring your lady in," she said. "You needn't tell^
me.' She's outside."
He fetched his wife. Old Becky did not open her eyes,
but she knew when Mrs. Bree entered.
"Oh, Becky," said the good lady, "I'm so sorry
you're so ill."
A sphinx-like smile curved Becky's lips.
" I 'm goin' to be the wind blowin' round my own cot-
tage to-night. I 'm goin' to be the waves beatin' on the
shore; and you 'U hear me lashin' the tops o' the trees,"
she murmured. . . . "Say good-bye to Rose for me.
She '11 have her fortune soon, bless her beautiful heart."
This imexpected reference to the money startled the
couple. They wondered how the old woman could
have known of it.
Mrs. Bree took her wrinkled hand.
"Becky," she said persuasively, "if it isn't troub-
ling you we want you to tell us how to find Rose. Try
Old Becky's sunken eyes opened for a moment.
She seemed to be searching her mind.
"Not in London," she answered faintly. "She's
gone. I — I can't see her — anywhere. It's dark."
She tried to sit up. "My stockin' imder the bed —
for Rose," she quavered. "It's full. . . . Pretty Rose
can't have too much. . . .
They were her last words.
i86 ROSE O' THE SEA
That evening, at dusk, even as she had impKed, a
wind sprang up, lashing the sea and the tree-tops.
And as old Becky was no longer in the flesh, perhaps
her freed spirit had merged itself in the elements with
whose wilder moods she had always seemed so strangely
Beneath her mattress, sewn to it, lay the stocking
for Rose, £Qled with the gold and silver for which those
who ride the wind and the waves have no longer any
use. . • .
With much approval Caister noted that Mrs. George
Clarges looked exactly what he had advertised for as a
chaperon for Rose — a gentlewoman. She bore that hall-
mark immistakably . Of the four other applicants whom
he had already interviewed he had had his doubts. Mrs.
Clarges, on the other hand, had a presence, a chamung
voice, and evinced a quietly excellent taste in dress.
These were her surface indications. What he could
not ascertain from her manner and appearance was a
venality of which the chief feature was utter un-
scrupulousness (she called it being ''easy-going") and
a prodigious selfishness.
She had been bom in affluence, but had married a
man of limited means. Too late she had di$covered that
she could not command the expensive comforts to
which she had been accustomed and which she re-
garded as essential to her well-being. Now she lived
considerably above a modest income, and was always
on the lookout for ways of augmenting it. Hence her
reply to Caister's advertisement.
"The post I can offer you," he had explained, "is
only a temporary one. My son wiU probably be mar-
ried in a few months to the young lady I have men-
tioned. In the meantime I want a married lady of good
birth in the house to act as a companion and chaperon
to her. You would practically have no duties. My
housekeeper is quite competent to attend to the domes-
tic arrangements. The salary mentioned by the agency
will suit me quite well."
i88 ROSE O' THE SEA
The arrangement also suited Mrs. Clarges. It meant
that she could let her small flat at an inflated rental,
pay some of her most pressing accounts, and enjoy a
pleasant holiday in the country without domestic
worries of any kind. The post of chaperon was one to
which she was really exceedingly well adapted. She was
tactful, well-mannered, and of far too lazy a disposi-
tion to obtrude herself except when she was absolutely
wanted; and, the circumstances warranting her in
imagining that that would not be too often, she foresaw
plenty of leisure.
"I think you will find I can fill the post satisfacto-
rily," she said. "As for a social reference, if you require
one in addition to that of my banker, I can give you
the name of an old school-friend of mine who has known
me all my life — Mrs. Ambrose Bree, of the Vicarage,
She mentioned the name with confidence. Mrs. Bree
and she had kept up a desultory correspondence
through the years, but they had seldom met since their
school-days. Mrs. Bree, then a pupil teacher, had
known her as the daughter of wealthy parents. She had
no idea of the subsequent monetary vicissitudes and
shifts to which Mrs. Clarges had been subjected, and
would therefore have no compunction in recommending
Caister made a note of the address, engaged the lady
with masculine promptitude, arranged for her to travel
down to Purton a few days hence, when she would
meet her charge, and concluded the interview as
speedily as he could.
Only a week had elapsed since Rose's acceptance
of Denis. It had been a week of trial to Caister. By and
ROSE O' THE SEA 189
by, as time went on, he supposed he would not suffer
as he was suffering now. He had built up this scheme
and set it going before he knew his own heart, his own
deep personal need of Rose. And now it was all too late.
She was promised to Denis. Denis wanted her. The
thing was done with. Caister simply had to step aside
and eliminate himself. Well, in one way or another,
he had done that all his life for Denis; but this was the
very apogee of sacrifice. He was quite capable of going
through with it without faltering. He meant to. He was
sufficiently master of himself to be quite sure that
neither Rosenor Denis would ever guess whathe had re-
linquished. For him only there would be the pain. . . .
But if Rose or Denis did not guess the truth. Lady
Chalfont did. A creature of impulse and affection her-
self, her intuitions were seldom at fault. She had seen
the thing coming. At her next meeting with Caister
she knew that he had listened to her friendly coimsel
She said nothing. There was nothing to say. She
could n't help him now. Only it hurt her to see this
good man suffering. Denis, in her opinion, was n't
worth the sacrifice his father was making, would never
be worth it.
She did her best to seem bright and cheery over the
preparations that were being made on behalf of the
engaged couple. At any rate, her assumed blitheness
heartened Caister — while he was with her.
"So you've got a chaperon," she said, when he came
to see her after his interview with Mrs. Clarges. "Do I
He mentioned the lady's name.
"I wonder if she's any relation of Eveleigh Clarges.
190 ROSE O' THE SEA
Lives at Chlswick? Then she Is, Probably his mother.
Funny how we never seem to be able to get away from
the stage. No, she^s not an actress. Bob. Don't look
scared. Very decent family, I believe. Only her son
happens to be a cinema celebrity. You don't go to those
shows or notice them, so you've never heard of him.
He 's one of Vemer's Stars — * Famous Players.' A very
good actor with a Neilson-Terry face. No harm in him,
so far as I know. He's quite well known as the most
perfectly romantic lover on the English picture stage.
Anyway, he won't bother you. He 's at Vemer's studios
all the time, I expect."
. They dismissed the subject. There were other more
important ones to talk about connected with Rose and
Mrs. Clarges about the same time was imparting to
her son the news of the post she had secured.
" So you will have to go into rooms again, my dear
boy," she finished up. "And really, I don't suppose
you'll be sorry. Ever since that wretched cook took
herself off because we would n't raise her wages, we
have really not had a decent meal; not to speak of
making our own beds, on account of the housemaid
leaving in a huff as wdl. And by the way, Eveleigh, I
shall have to have a nice, quiet, matronly, black evening
frock, dear boy. If you could let me have fifteen pounds,
Adele might be induced to make sonQiething simple for
me quickly. You don't want your poor mother going
about looking dimodi, do you? I cannot imderstand
which side of the family you derive your parsimonious
trait from. Your dear father was wonderfully generous,
considering his limited means. Nothing was good
enough for me in his eyes."
ROSE O' THE SEA 191
She spoke with ready emotion, and a certain amount
of truth. The defunct Mr. Clarges had adored his self-
ish wife, had weak-mindedly run into every conceiva-
ble kind of debt to satisfy her demands, and then, con-
veniently for himself, died when he could no longer
satisfy his creditors.
Eveleigh's chances in life had been sacrificed to his
mother's passion for expensive clothes and a comforta-
ble life. Fortunately for himself, his classical features
and fine presence, combined with a certain amount of
dramatic talent, had led him to adopt the only profes-
sion to which a person of small mental capacity may
aspire with some hopes of success. At twenty-seven he
was, as Maggy had said, a cinema star of some magni-
tude, leading romantic man of "Vemer's Super-Pro-
ductions," on an iron-bound contract at a salary of
fifteen poimds a week. Fifteen pounds a week in Mrs.
Clarges's opinion was a totally inadequate income on
which to support a delicately nurtured mother. Eve-
leigh she considered was, like his father, malleable, but
rather a fool.
"I can't understand why you are so lacking in busi-
ness aptitude 1/' she deplored. "You are one of the
most advertised men on the pictures, and yet your
salary would scarcely keep a fly. If I were in your place
I would threaten to break my contract with that
scoundrel Vemer and go to an opposition firm. You
have n't any spirit, Eveleigh. No one would dream you
could do such dashing things, and make love so beauti-
fully. In real life you are a perfect stick."
The "perfect stick" said nothing. He very seldom
argued with his indomitable mother. He had none of
her volubility nor any of her persistence. On his father's
192 ROSE O' THE SEA
death he had heroically shouldered his burdens and to
the best of his ability kept pace with his mother's
exactions. If he did not recognise them as such it was
because he was extraordinarily devoted to her.
"We'll manage the frock somehow, mother," he
said. "The house bills will have to take a back seat
again, I suppose; I'll square them while you're away.
Do you think you '11 like the job and get on with the
"I expect so. I haven't even heard her name.
She's engaged to Lord Caister's son. Now, if she had
money, I might try and contrive an invitation for you.
You never know your luck."
"Heiresses aren't in my line, I'm afraid. I'm so
busy making love on the stage all day that I've no
inclination left for that sort of thing in private."
"You'll do what I tell you if I ever do discover an
heiress. With a Greek profile like yours you could turn
any girl's head. Look how your picture postcards sell.
Everybody's making a fortime out of you, my dear,
Eveleigh shrugged his shoulders, glanced at the
dock, and took himself off to Vemer's studios. He was
happiest when he was acting.
Mrs. Clarges sat down at her bureau to write to Mrs.
Bree a long and carefully worded letter. On receipt of
it the Vicar's wife, as requested, immediately com-
municated with Lord Caister, cordially recommending
her girlhood's friend for the post of chaperon or any
position of trust in his establishment.
For almost the first time since she had entered Gard-
ner's employment, Rose was not singing at her work.
She was not unhappy; indeed, she had thrown off any
tendency to be sad, and was looking forward to the
new life before her. To-day would be her last in the big
store. It would have seemed unfeeling to sing as though
she were glad she was going. Truth to tell, she was not
exactly glad. She had been very happy amongst the
flowers, but somehow she felt that her flower-time had
At nine-thirty punctually Mr. Louie passed through
on his way to his office. He needed no reminding that
to-morrow Rose would be gone. The knowledge of it
hung over him like a cloud. He felt too distressed this
morning to indulge in the desultory conversation
which had become habitual between them. He did not
linger. His throat felt dry and choky, a sensation akin
to physical pain, which in men of endurance takes the
place of tears.
Miss Hobbs bustled about, brisk and bright as
usual — suspiciously bright. She purposely suppressed
any display of emotion, though she felt it strongly, in
order not to excite Rose's feelings. Both she and Mr.
Louie were at one in their courageous desire to keep a
stiff upper lip. But the youngest lift-boy, who had wor-
shipped the pictured face and form of Mary Pickford
only to transfer that adoration to Rose, was shame-
lessly weeping at intervals.
Business in the floral department, always brisk dur-
194 ROSE O' THE SEA
ing the earlier part of the day, flagged towards the
end of the afternoon. Throughout the morning all allu-
sions to Rose's impending departure were avoided,
but when only an hour remained before closing time,
Miss Hobbs's pent-up feelings became too strong for
her. She began dabbing at her eyes.
"There now," she sniffed, "I've borne up all day
only to finish up like this. Don't take any notice of me,
Rose. I'm just a silly thing. There's no sense in harp-
ing on how much we shall iliiss you. The place won't
seem the same. I know it's no good taking on like I 'm
doing now. You 're going to be a lady and it's all most
romantic. Only, of course we shan't see you any more,
and so the feeling is rather as if you were dying and
going to heaven. We're glad for you, but sorry for
She smiled through her tears.
"But why think of it like that?" Rose contended.
"Nothing is altered. I shall be back in London by and
by. You'll come and see me, and — "
"Not much," Miss Hobbs asserted very definitely;
"although it's Just like you not to want to make any
difference. But there will be one all the same. You '11
feel it yourself after a month or two. You '11 come into
the shop, perhaps, to see me, or to buy some flowers,
and it'll strike you suddenly how fat and common I
am, and then you '11 be glad I kept out of the way and
had the sense not to butt in. . . . No, I should n't be
such a fool as to step out of my — my sphere. You're
so different. You don't know the meaning of the word
'awkward.' You might be anybody. You're so easy
and dignified. I 'm like a wild elephant in a drawing-
room. Why, once I had to take a box of flowers to a
ROSE O' THE SEA 195
lady in Park Lane. The hall was all parquet. I simply
shot away on a rug, bowled the footman over, and slid
plump into the drawing-room. I did n't stop till I fell
on to a sofa stuck in the way. And the people in the
room laughed till they nearly cried. I did n't laugh,
I can tell you. I never felt so small in my life; and when
an out-size like me feels small it 's not a nice sensation.
No more parquet floors for me, or marble halls either.
Give me well-washed lino any day. . . . How I do run
on, to be sure! All I mean to say is, we'll part as
friends, and we'll love you always. Rose, but our
paths will never lie together again. You ' ve got a long
way to go. I shall stay here — fat Fanny Hobbs to the
end of the chapter."
But Rose would not suffer her friend to belittle her-
self any more. She hugged her affectionately and as-
sured her that she was talking nonsense.
"I'm not," asserted Miss Hobbs. "Still, if you're
lonely any time, Mr. Louie would come and see you.
I 'm siure he would know how to behave like a gentle-
man, even in Buckingham Palace. With an aristo-
cratic nose like his, he could pass as one anywhere."
She sighed copiously. "To tell you the truth, Rose,
I 'm feeling for him as well as for you. I can just guess
how miserable he must be about you. If only you could
have got to love him I . . . There's his bell. That's for
Rose answered the summons with a little misgiving.
She wished her f areweUs were over, this one especially.
Mr. Louie at this final juncture, however, had com-
mand over himself. He was not one to indulge in the
luxury of grief in business hours. He had been going
over the matter of his good-bye all night, rehearsing
196 ROSE O* THE SEA
what he would say again and again, but when Rose ac-
tually stood before him the carefully thought-out words
of farewell faded from his mind. He simply took her
hand and held it silently. It was Rose who spoke first.
"I don't think IVe ever properly thanked you for
your kindness to me/' she said. ''Before I go I want
you to know that I'm ever so grateful. I've been so
happy here, and you have been more than good to me.
I'm looking forward to my life with — with Lord
Caister and his son, but I shall always think of my time
here and be glad that I came."
"Thank you," said Mr. Louie. "And now it's —
good-bye, is n't it? I'm afraid I can't say very much.
You're going and we are all sorry. You must have
heard that from every one. I'm going to ask you a
personal favour. Will you write to me sometimes? Just
a line to say how you are getting on, and whether you
are happy? "
"Of course I will. And we can meet when I come
back to London. I can't get Miss Hobbs to see that I
shan't alter. I shall always be your friend and hers if
you will both let me."
. Her bracketing of the two names was unintentional,
but Mr. Louie flushed a little.
"Miss Hobbs showed judgment," he answered.
"No doubt she feels very much as I do and is happy
to know that you will remember us. Nevertheless, she
doubtless appreciates what I myself do, that once you
have left us it would not be right for you to — to for-
gather with hmnble friends. That will not alter our
feelings of regard for you in the very least. On my
part, they are deep and unswerving. I shall treasure the
memory of you unta I am an old man, and from a dis-
ROSE O' THE SEA 197
tance I hope I shall be able to watch your prosperity.
I shall always pray for your welfare. It is my deepest
wish that you may be happy. And if you are not, if
circumstances ever occur in which you feel I may be
of assistance to you, will you promise to let me help
you if I can? It — it would be a privilege. I shall al-
ways be — your devoted servant."
Rose was deeply touched.
"You're the kindest man in the world!" she cried.
And before Mr. Louie had any idea what she was
about, she had flung her arms round his neck, kissed
him vehemently, and run out of the room with the
tears streaming down her face.
This imexpected demonstration of emotion, so vol-
canic, so t)rpical of loving-hearted Rose, lifted the little
man's grief on to another and a more resigned plane.
Of her own accord she had kissed him — himt An efful-
gence — an aura of glory — seemed to fill his oflSice.
Its splendour was the direct outcome of that unforget-
table kiss. . . .
An hour later. Miss Hobbs, entering in some trepi-
dation with the day's takings, which it was her business
to check with him, found him, not looking cast down
as she had expected, but with an almost exalted expres-
sion on his face.
Rose had gone. Her own eyes were red with tears.
To her dismay it turned out that she had so far for-
gotten herself as to make a mistake in her accoimts.
General infallibility in this respect was one of the ac-
compUshments on which she prided herself.
"I am sorry," she apologised, when Mr. Louie indi-
cated the error. "I — I took that five for a three and
the seven for a nine."
198 ROSE O' THE SEA
The figures were plain enough.
"Dear me," he said, turning to look at her. "Do
you think you ought to wear glasses? That would be
a great pity, because" — he paused — "you have
such nice eyes."
So he had noticed her eyes! It was the first compli-
ment he had ever paid her. She crimsoned with embar-
"I'm sure I'm glad if you think so," she stammered;
"but I don't need glasses. I — I could n't see for tears,
and the figures looked all alike. It upset me so to say
good-bye to Rose."
"I imderstand. But you mustn't fret about it. I
think I shall have to remind you of the very good ad-
vice you gave me the other night. I took it to heart
and it comforted me. We must be glad that we had
Rose here amongst us even for a little while. I look on
it like that now, thanks to you."
"Thanks to me?"
"Yes. Your kind words that night meant a great
deal more to me than I can express. You helped me to
understand that an unreciprocated love was not a
thing to be despondent about, but rather to be the
better for. Life does n't stop still because certain things
are denied to us. There are others that in some measure
can take their place. You taught me that too."
The depression was fading from Miss Hobbs's face.
She smiled through her tears.
" I 'd do more if I could than say a few words to help
you," she declared. "I've always wanted to — to
please you, ever since I came seven years ago. You
were always so — so considerate. Girls notice things
like that in the gentlemen they work under. Some of
ROSE O' THE SEA 199
thezn^ you know, can make it so very hard. You get
the best out of everybody — your way. It's a fine
thing to have — that quality."
Mr. Louie was grateful for her praise. It put him in
"It is very pleasant to me to know you have liked
your work. Mutual effort is everything. And you, on
your side, have always been a big help. In fact, talk-
ing of that, I am thinking of making some changes.
Miss Prentice, my secretary, is leaving. I have been
wondering if you would care for the post. You would
have more time in which to look after your little sister.
And the salary is more — a hundred and sixty a year."
Miss Hobbs could not conceal her pleasure. The offer
was so imexpected. To her it meant affluence. Harder
headwork, perhaps, but easier hours as well as more
pay, but above all — most wonderful consideration —
she would be working solely for and with the one indi-
vidual she so abjectly loved.
"Does n't it appeal to you?" he asked, a little dis-
appointed at her silence.
"Appeal to me?" She clasped her fat, dimpled
hands. "It's more than I ever dreamt of! Your secre-
tary! I'll do my best, but — are you sure you want
"Why should n't I be?" Mr. Louie's eyes twinkled.
"Well, you could get a bright, competent girl,
shorthand and typing — I can only type — and some
one good-looking into the bargain. Some one slim and
young and nice to look at. It's only natural for a
gentleman to prefer some one pretty to look at when
he's working. There's nothing showy about me. I
know it I'm not beautiful. I'm only usefuL"
200 ROSE O' THE SEA'
"I should n't ask you to be my secretary if — if I
disliked looking at you or did n't want you. Shall we
consider it settled, then? I thought Miss Hopson might
take your place in the floral department, and you
might begin work with me next week. Now, shall we
finish these accounts?"
He pulled the books towards him. Half an hour went
by in adding, checking, and correcting. Business inter-
ested them both.
"I'm afraid I've kept you beyond your time," he
said when they had finished. "It's past six."
Miss Hobbs put the books away.
"I never mind how late I work," she said. "Only
I always get my little sister her supper at half-past.
Never mind, I can take a bus instead of walking." At
the door she paused. "There's one thing I want to say,
if you don't mind. It's about that vase of flowers Rose
used to arrange and put on your desk every day. You 'U
miss them, I expect. It's not that I don't care to do
them for you, but I would n't like you to think I was
trying to take her place — in every way."
Mr. Louie thought this hesitating statement over.
"You're very thoughtful," he said at length. "I
should miss those flowers. I 'd like you to do them just
the same, please, if you don't mind. It would never
enter my head to suppose that you wished to usurp
any one's place. You have a special one of your own
in my — esteem."
With a little bow he opened the glass door, and Miss
Hobbs, with a breathless good-evening, passed out.
She felt as though she were walking on clouds and that
all of them were rosy ones. . . .
It's a curious thing about them as comes to live in
this room," declared Mrs. Bell axiomatically. "They
comes 'ere poor and pretty, and they leaves 'appy and
proud. You might almost say there was luck about it.
Before her ladyship, Miss Delamere that was, lodged
here, there was Florry Smith, who came into a public-
house sudden through death; and before her, a young
man what went in for competitions with postal orders.
He won a hundred pounds. I Ve a good mind to sleep
in the room meself and see what 'appens."
She set down the tea-tray the better to observe the
large assortment of wearing apparel which Rose was
engaged in packing. A capacious new trunk occupied
nearly all the floor space. The bed was heaped up with
dainty garments chosen for her by Maggy. Mrs. Bell
surveyed them with the keenest appreciation.
"Them creep de sheeny nightdresses would look
just right for seaside sirauner dresses,'' she observed.
"As for that there petticoat, I'd wear it outside if I
was you. . . . And all come by honest!" She gazed at
Rose with unreserved admiration. "I've always 'ad a
good opinion of you, my dear, ahd I'm sure you de-
serve everything that's 'appened. I'll always be wish-
ftd to remember you. You've never been no trouble,
and apart from the rent paid reg'lar, I shall miss the
sight of your smilin' face. Folks seem to forget to smile
in Sidey Street." She sighed lugubriously. "And some
folks seem to forget they ever lived in it. That there
Florry Smith left me, 'aughty as you like, dressed in
202 ROSE O' THE SEA
ermine covered with tails, and never a word or a ' thank
you ' from her from that day to this. Not so much as
a bottle or two of invalid port, which would n't have
cost her anything to speak of, seein' as 'ow she gets it
'olesale. And the yoxmg man what won the competi-
tion left owing me two-and-six for postal orders! That's
human nature, that is. But Lady Chalfont was never
too proud to say ' thank you,' not to speak of an 'amper
every Christmas, and a Stilton cheese and a five-
poimd note to keep her memory green. She'll never
forget the little kindnesses I did for her, because she
'as a good and grateful 'eart, which is more — "
The unannoimced entrance of the bestower of many
favours cut short Mrs. Bell's dissertation. Lady Chal-
font might be well disposed towards her one-time land-
lady, but she knew her garrulousness of old, and was
experienced in dealing with it. Within a minute or two
she succeeded in getting rid of Mrs. BeU.
"Packing?" she said. "That's right. I've come to
help you. I hope you like all these things. That little
rose frock will do very well for the evenings when you
three are alone. That tulle affair I chose for more
swagger occasions. And for everyday wear you 'U stick
to tweeds and blouses. If you're in any doubt about
anything ask Mrs. Clarges. That's the chaperon who
will be living with you. I believe she has much better
taste than I have, so you '11 be safe with her. ... Is n't
it exciting to have such a lot of new clothes all at once?
I should have been nearly off my head with joy."
"They're lovely." Rose's voice was enthusiastic
and grateful. "But I — I don't quite like taking them.
She hesitated. "I could get some money by selling
this." She touched the necklace at her throat.
ROSE O' THE SEA 203
Maggy glanced at it casually, unaware of its value.
"Oh, don't sell anything. Bob wouldn't like that.
It pleases him to give you things. Besides, these have n't
cost such a terrible lot. I'm an expert shopper. Once
upon a time I had to think of every penny I spent. So I
know where to go now to get the best value. Just thank
Bob when you see him and give him a kiss."
She spoke without thought.
The colour came into Rose's cheeks.
" Oh, I could n't do that ! " she cried. " I — I dare n't.
He won't expect it, will he? "
Maggy, on her knees by the trunk, looked up.
"I did n't mean you to take that literally. It'll be
enough if you thank him. But why could n't you kiss
him? Don't tell me if you'd rather not."
"I'd rather," said Rose in a small voice. "I — want
to tell you."
Maggy got up. She put her arm roimd Rose and led
her to the bed. They sat down side by side. Maggy
waited for her to speak, but Rose apparently had diffi-
culty in beginning. At last she said tensely:
"If I kissed him — if he kissed me — I think I
should die with the beautiful joy of it. I — I love him
"I know," said Maggy in a quiet voice. "And be-
cause you love him you're going to marry — Denis."
"Yes," whispered Rose.
"So you knew you loved him when you promised
"Yes . . . just before."
Maggy gave her a long, long look.
"And you still think it is the right thing to do?"
"Yes. I thought it all out. If I can make Denis
204 ROSE O' THE SEA
happy and strong and different altogether through
being married to me, Lord Caister will be happy too.
I feel quite sure he would not have asked or wished
me to marry Denis if he had n't thought it would be
"I see." Maggy's clasp on Rose's waist tightened.
"But, all the same, the world, if it knew, wouldn't
call it right. Rose," she said gently. " If you are married
to one man and love another, the world coimts it as
"It would n't be a sin. How can it be a sin to love
any one so much that you would give your life to
please him? How can it be a sin to love any one, when
that love makes you feel good — and happy? "
" Does it? " asked Maggy. Love had not always been
like that to her. Rose's love seemed severely simple,
a question of Faith.
"Yes, indeed it does. And, after all, what diflFerence
is there? I shall be Denis's wife, but Lord Caister will
be with us all the time. It — it will be practically the
same as though I were married to both of them."
"Oh, you child!" thought Maggy. Aloud she said:
"I understand what you mean, Rose, darling, but you
mustn't let other people know your feelings. The
world does n't imderstand simple, innocent thoughts
and single-hearted motives. The men and women in it
are hard — and prejudiced. If you 've made up your
mind that you're doing the right thing, go through
with it, but don't look back. And above all, don't give
people a chance to think evil of what is simply good.
In littie things you must hide your private feelings.
Denis's photo, for instance, should be in that frame,
not his father's. You'll change them, won't you? And
KOSE O' THE SEA 205
once you are married, even if you are in trouble, never
let Denis guess the truth, or it might lead to something
tragic. You must realise that. Rose. You're taking a
terrible risk, and if — when you 're married — you lose
your head, you may bring disaster on everybody. I
don't want to be a Jeremiah now that you Ve gone so
far, but the least I can do is to warn you."
Rose looked a little frightened. She had seen sacri-
fice ahead, was ready for it, but the idea of tragedy
unnerved her. And Maggy was not given to theatrical-
"You make me feel afraid," she faltered.
" I did n't mean to do that. You must be very brave.
Although you have a great love in your heart, moving
you to do a great thing, you don't imderstand the
strength or even the nature of it. When you are a
married woman you will. And when you first realise
it, the power of that love may sweep you off your feet.
That 's what I want to warn you against. If you really
care for Bob, you won't always feel as you do now —
content to have sacrificed yourself for him. There '11 be
times when your heart fails you, when you will be
racked with love, aching for the little tendernesses
that are part of it. Now just imagine what would hap-
pen to Denis, who will care for you far more deeply
later on than he does now, if he were to find out that
you love his father. The shock might have a disastrous
effect on him. It might wreck him completely. When
you are married you must forget your love for his
father. It may seem right; / happen to know it is. But
— oh, you don't know! You don't know what it means/
You must put it behind you — stamp it out, or else —
go back on your promise — now — before it '5 too latel "
2o6 ROSE O' THE SEA
Rose had grown white. She was trembling, fearfxil
of something she did not understand. But she was not
convinced. Her very innocence made her impenetrable
to the danger that Maggy saw looming ahead.-
"I'll remember what you've told me," she said
quietly. "But I'll not bade out. I'd rather stamp out
my love — if I could — than fail him."
There was only one "him." It did not designate
Denis, as Maggy very well knew. A grievous sigh
broke from her.
"I want to see you so happy," she said in a troubled
voice. "I would like to see you brightening the world
for one man — the one you love. I can't think of Denis.
I can't care enough about him. It seems such a waste.
. . . Love like yours was meant to be crowned, not
But perhaps, in the zeal of her affection, she had
forgotten that love crucified was also crowned, albeit
with a crown of thorns!
Denis's qualities were not all negative. He had an
attractive side to his nature, though it was not often
in evidence. He could be extremely likeable when he
chose. He chose now, on this his first evening in the
country with Rose and his father. He believed that he
had effectually cut adrift from the old life, and he
meant to make the best of the new one that lay before
him. He felt more contented in mind than he had ever
done before. In a moderate way he was even happy.
It was his honest intention to make other people so:
Rose and his father, for instance. He felt quite xmde-
serving of Rose. To-night his admiration and growing
affection for her were at their zenith. She looked so
utterly sweet — and she was going to bel ig to him I
Already the ring that he and his father had together
chosen for her was on her finger, ratifying their bond.
The evening had gone by on wings. Rose seemed very
bright and happy. Caister was certainly a little more
self-contained than usual, but he looked serene enough.
And Mrs. Clarges appeared to be a very good sort.
She had at once made friends with Rose, and as chap-
eron evinced a gradousness that was beyond criticism.
Denis, who had a talent for music of the lighter
kind, and a moderately good voice, had played and
simg. He had no idea he could have enjoyed himself
so innocently for several hours at a stretch. He felt
pleased with himself and registered a stem resolve to
go to bed without his usual three-finger '' night-cap
of whiskey and soda.
208 ROSE O' THE SEA
^ After the musk, Caister and Mrs. Clarges played
picquet. Rose and Denis took themselves off to the
Denis turned the lights on. The portraits leapt from
"We'll have some jolly old dances in here when
we're married," he said gaily. "We'll show the ances-
tors how to jazz, and generally liven 'em up, what?
Fearfully boresome time they must have, stuck up on
"Ah, so you feel as I do, that they're more than just
pictures," said Rose.
"Not exactly. I'm not conscious of the spirit of the
past broodin' all over the place, if that's what you
mean. These old Johnnies and their wives don't inspire
me as they do the guv'nor — or you, apparently. I 've
a more modem way of thinking of them, I suppose.
After all, this paint work was only their way of getting
photographed, and a blessed extravagant way too.
They, themselves, are dead as doornails and probably
jolly glad to be tucked up all serene in the family vault.
If I had my way I 'd sell some of the beggars. We want
money badly enough. That Rembrandt, for instance,
would about put the family finances on their feet.
Ugly customer, I consider him."
"That is Geoffrey, the third baron," said Rose,
who had a retentive memory for subjects that inter-
ested her. "Your father told me his history. He was
a splendid person; a great friend of Sir Walter Raleigh's
and like him got into trouble with Queen Elizabeth for
sajdng what he thought was right, and not what she
wanted — "
"Yes, I know he was a bit of a firebrand, and a
ROSE O' THE SEA 209
mule-headed old stick as well. In fact, the Queen was
so annoyed with him that in the end she had his head
chopped ojBf. Determined old party, Eliza."
"Well, I shoidd be very proud to have some of his
noble blood in my veins," said Rose solemnly. "I shall
never be tired of hearing about them all. It 's Uke seeing
history in pictures. Nearly all of them were so noble
" If I were you, I should n't believe quite everything
in the family archives. You know, I don't exactly hold
with Shakespeare's idea about the evil that men do
living after them, and the good being dug in with their
bones. In my opinion it's the other way round. It's
hmnan nature to remember the best of a chap when
he's gone. For instance, if I were to snuflf out, the
guv'nor would n't think of my little peccadilloes. He 'd
only remember what a lot of good points I had that
he 'd never noticed at the time, and that probably never
existed at all. All our unpleasant pecidiarities are for-
gotten or overlooked when we're not here to exhibit
'em. There's a lot in being dead, don't you know!"
He looked at her comically. But Rose was far too
seriously inclined, especially with the eyes of a score
or more of dead and gone Caisters on her, to see the
flippant side of things.
"I expect you feel differently deep down in your
heart," she said. "Only you don't like people to know
"Something like that," he admitted. "It's a habit
of mine to see the fimny side of things. When my back
is hurting like the very deuce — it does sometimes,
you know, on account of a nurse dropping me when I
was a kid — I'm quite riotously merry. When I'm
210 ROSE O' THE SEA
alone I do a bit of swearing, though. Find it a relief,
don't you know. I say, Rose," — his tone became con-
fidential, — "do you think we shall get bored stifE
down here for months on end? I'm wondering."
"Of coiu:se we won't. At least, I shan't. There'll be
something to do and see every minute of the day."
Denis's eyebrows went up.
"You don't mean it? How bally interesting! Do tell
me. I 've been wondering how on earth we 're going to
put in our time."
"That reminds me," said Rose. "I've got some-
thing for you. I'll be back in a minute."
She ran off, and returned a little out of breath, with
a brown paper parcel in her hand. The thing within it
"What the deuce is it?" he asked. "Soimds like an
infernal machine. Hope it won't go off I"
"It's only a clock," said Rose, imdoing the wrap-
pings. "A double alarum. You set it to the time you
decide to get up, and then it wakes you."
Denis looked at it dubiously.
" It won't bring in my shaving-water too, I suppose?
Do you want me to use it? "
" Of course. I thought we 'd set it for six."
"For six! Whatever for?"
" It 's the time the cows are milked. I 'm going to get
up and see them. And the air's so lovely then. We
could bathe in the lake, and then take the dogs for a
run before breakfast. You'll have such an appetite!"
"Oh, well," he said comically, "if all that's part of
my cure, I suppose I must go through with it. But I
think you mi^t cut out the run and the bathing in the
lake. It's so fearfully athletic I I assure you, Rpse^
ROSE O'THE SEA 211
it's bad for my complexion, especially first thing in the
morning. I'll have a cold tub, if you merely want to
chill my blood."
Rose laughed. "All right. But it won't chill you.
It'll make you glow all over."
Denis dropped his bantering tone.
"Something else makes me glow all over," he said.
"I haven't kissed you since we first got engaged. I
don't want to bother, but won't you? "
Some of the brightness left Rose's face. Denis
noticed it. He felt just a little disappointed, but he
took her in his arms, held her closely, and kissed her
passionately, as a young man kisses. She was so very
sweet and fragrant, this baby Rose. Her face felt so
soft and smelt so delicate — so different to Vivienne's
powdered, saucy little face, and the strongly perfumed
creams she used for it. Vivienne went to his head. Rose
to his heart.
Insensibly (she did not mean to) she drew back from
him. He felt the slight recoil and let her go a little
"I say," he said, uncomfortably, "don't you like
me to kiss you? I don't want to take advantage, but
wh^n a fellow 's with a girl he likes, especially the girl
he 's going to marry, he simply can't help himself. You
see, marriage is — or ought to be — all kisses and love.
You won't draw back from me always? Say you won't,
"I did n't mean to draw back then," she said tim-
idly. "I wouldn't hurt your feelings for anything,
Denis. Of course you can kiss me. I — I'm yours."
But Denis did not attempt to kiss her again. He
had a certain amount of discretion and no desire to
212 ROSE C THE SEA
frighten Rose, as he had done once before. She was a
shy little bird. . . .
He said good-night as dispassionately as he was able
and assured her gaily that he would be iq> with the
laik in the morning.
Rose brightened up again. Denis was a dear. Oh, she
would try to care for him! She would indeed.
"Good-night, Denis, dear," she said. "To-morrow
will be our first day together."
"Rather. And what price the ones that come after?
Ripping times we'U have, eh? Mind you keep me up
to the mark, Rose. I 'm inclined to be a moody beast."
Rose laid a hand on his arm.
"Denis," she said, "don't mind my asking you; I
should n't if you had had a mother, but — do you ever
say your prayers? I was never taught to properly, my-
self. I wish I had been. But I know people do — and
"One of my nurses used to make me say 'em. But
my rotten memory for names stood in the way. I
could n't help thinking that God would get fearfully
annoyed at being bothered to remember every one of
my relations and bless 'em in detaQ. And I was n't
allowed to bring in the boot-boy, whom I liked best.
But I 'm quite willing to say my prayers if you want
me to. Plenty of real good chaps do, I know, and are
not ashamed of it either. Worst of it is, I have n't the
very faintest idea what to say. If I knelt down at the
end of my bed I might feel inclined to laugh. Sort of
incongruous idea — me, on my knees — a fool — in
motley — pra)dng!" he added sheepishly. "Rather re-
minds me of a pantomime down making a deathbed
repentance. ... Do you pray? "
ROSE O' THE SEA 213
"I think I do. In my own way, though. I like to
get out into the open, quite by myself; and then some-
thing inside me talks to the Something all round me.
I'm little and It's big. It's a bigness that is n't fright-
ening. Only comforting. You feel as if Gk)a 's letting
you creep up into his sleeve and nestle there. In Sidey
Street I could n't get out of doors like that, but at
night I used to lean out of the window and look up
into the sky and speak to It. I kept the feeling of big-
ness and God that way."
"You poetic little soul! You know, I keep on feeling
how good you are. Far too good for me. I never guessed
before we nxet that there could be girls like you: really
innocent — and good. Good-night, little sweetheart.
It's sweet of you to talk to me as you do."
His tender words moved her.
"Oh, Denis," she said suddenly, "I will try and be
a good wife to you — later on. I really will!"
Into Denis's face there came a strange expression:
the look of one whose eyes search the dimness ahead.
A wistful sadness mingled with it.
"I wonder if it will ever come to that," l^e said
thoughtfully. "I can never see open country. I always
come a cropper at my hopes . . ." He switched out the
lights. "Let's leave the ancestors to darkness and their
dreams, shall we? "
Shortly afterwards, when he was in his room, he
remembered Rose's counsel. He opened his window
wide and leant out, drinking in the freshness of the
night air. Everything was very still. Something in
Denis stirred, awoke, groped out for Beauty, and
foimd it in the solemn hush. Rose was right. He felt
it. Outside there, everywhere, permeating everything,
214 ROSE O' THE SEA
there was Something — big, grand, and inefiFable —
Godl In that strangely moving moment the Illimitable
laid hold of his soul and stirred in him a desire to
worship. • . •
*'A pool* fool — in motley. God! Hear him!" he
As Rose took her seat at the breakfast-table one morn-
ing about a week later something in the appearance of
a letter lying on Mrs. Clarges's plate struck her as
vaguely familiar. Curiosity was not one of Rose's fail-
ings. She had not purposely looked at the letter. A
minute or two elapsed before she knew what it was
that had roused her inadvertent interest in it. The
postmark, for once very dear, was Polseth.
When she realised that Mrs. Clarges must have a
correspondent in the Cornish village she felt dis-
quieted. There was no reason why she should be. She
had no desire to hide anything — except herself.
Simply she had left Polseth — run away from it was
the more correct term — and she did not want Mr. and
Mrs. Bree to hear of her whereabouts. They were the
sort of people who would not leave her alone. She had
a childish and quite imf oimded conviction that if they
knew where she was they would want her to return to
them, want her to wear the hated black frock and
nainister to the wants of all the little Brees. There was
something so stultifying in the idea! After a little
thought, she made up her mind to speak to Mrs.
Clarges and make a dean breast of the subject that
Directly after breakfast Denis took her oflE for a
ride. Mrs. Clarges, therefore, had her time and her
letter to herself. She was not in a hurry to read it.
Mrs. Bree's letters did not interest her in the very
least. In fact, she only maintained the correspondence
2i6 ROSE O' THE SEA
out of policy. It was her rule to keep in with old friends.
On the same prindple she believed in making new ones.
Rose^ for instance. She had quite won Rose's liking.
They were already on the best of terms. It would never
have occurred to altruistic Rose that her good-will
might have a market value.
Mrs. Clarges did not rush at friendships. She was
far too diplomatic. She managed to convey the im-
pression that her own regard wap not lightly given.
She could impose herself in a hundred ways where
others less subtle than herself would have made their
aims less obscure.
For the present she was mainly content to enjoy
the sheer comfort of her position. There was nothing
to do all day. It suited her to be a lady of ease. There
were no servants to supervise and no house worries.
She spent most of her days in the largest and softest
chair she could find, embroidering monster cushion
covers for the refurbishing of her flat.
Very leisurely she opened her friend's letter, pre-
pared for five minutes of boredom. Instead, the news
in it appreciably accelerated the beating of her lethar-
gic heart. i
lilrs. Bree's letter was a characteristically rambling
and much underlined budget of news.
It was 50 pleasant to hear from you once more. It re-
minded me of the happy, happy days so long gone by when
we were girls together. Do you remember . . . [There fol-
lowed two close pages of reminiscences of which Mrs.
Clarges had no recollection whatsoever.]
Isjnso glad to hear you have obtained a congenial post.
I should write to you more often, dear Adelaide, but we
have been very busy in the village, what with our annual
ROSE O' THE SEA 217
Jumble Sale, and a Bazaar in support of our Church Tower
Fund. Then one or two of our parishioners have died, and
altogether, what with the Harvest Festival and my Dorcas ,
Society, I am a much occupied woman.
I am also making enquiries in every possible direction to
find a young girl who left Polseth somewhat suddenly
several months ago. She was adopted by a strange old Amer-
ican man who lived here for years, and who apparently left
her penniless. In fact, my deg,r husband and I offered to
shelter her in our aum home. However, she refused our help
and ran away to London. And now a wUl has actually been
found, and the lawyers have definitely established that she
is an heiress to an immense fortune. There is an income of
about ten thousand a year from oil alonel We are sparing no
effort to find her and acquaint her of her greai good fortune.
Acting on my advice the solicitors have not yet advertised
for her, for fear of startling her, but are making private en-
quiries, as yet, alas! with no result.
London, of course, is a vast dty and seems to have com-
pletely swallowed her up. Her name is Rose Eton. I men-
tion it in case, by any chance, through the long arm of
coincidence, you may ever run across her. And now, dear
Adelaide, I must close, with our kindest thoughts.
Yoiu: most affec. old friend
P.S. — You do not mention the name of your charge.
I trust she is a nice girl.
The letter dropped into Mrs. Clarges's lap. She
positively trembled with excitement.
Rose Etonl There could not be two people with a
name like that! An heiress! Ten thousand a year
in oil alone! Spontaneously, Mrs. Clarges's thoughts
flew to Eveleigh, throwing away his fine profile and
presence for a niggardly seven hundred and fifty a
year or so ! And here was ten thousand a year — going
begging! His, perhaps, for the asking! She went hot
2i8 ROSE O' THE SEA
She was fairly certain that Rose was not in love with
Denis. There were no outward signs of it, at any rate.
Probably Denis's rank was the attraction. There, of
course, Mrs. Clarges made an initial blunder and so
based her campaign (she fdt belligerent) on bad
strategy. It accordingly appeared to her that, as Rose
did not love Denis, she must be fancy-free; in which
case she would almost certainly yield to a romantic
courtship, vigorously conducted by Eveleigh. Human
nature would be on his side: its impulses would out-
weigh all the advantages of rank.
It was evident that the first thing to be done was
to bring Eveleigh on to the scene as quickly as pos-
sible. Secondly, to predispose Rose in his favour. That,
Mrs. Clarges thought, ought not to be difl&cult. His
photograph — she had brought several excellent ex-
amples with her — had never failed to rouse the ad-
miration of the "yoimg thing." And there was the
puff theatrical to help — the added advantage of fame.
Oh, yes, Mrs. Clarges was practically sure of success.
Meanwhile she would carefully keep back the secret
of the fortime until Rose was safely pledged to Eve-
leigh. Then she would be able to pose as the fairy
mother-in-law and a double benefactor. The plan was
Machiavellian. The lack of principle which it involved
simply did not occur to Mrs. Clarges. It looked so
fea^ble and so safe.
But in any case she would have gone' through with
it. She would have argued, and convinced herself, too,
that she would be rendering a service to Rose in put-
ting her in the way of a real romance, with Eveleigh
She would answer Mrs. Bree's letter in due course.
ROSE O' THE SEA 219
make no reference to the postscript^ and by the time
those concerned decided to advertise for Rose, if they
ever did, no doubt she would be safely off with the old
love and on with the new.
And Rose, as it happened, made matters easier for
her. As soon as she came in from her ride she sought
"Please don't think me rude, Mrs. Clarges," she
said with her usual candour, so different from the
other's circumlocutory methods, "but at breakfast
I noticed a postmark on one of your letters, and it has
bothered me a little. I was n't looking for postmarks,"
she explained with a smile. "I simply saw it without
knowing what I was doing."
"No apology is necessary, my dear," Mrs. Clarges
assured her amiably. "You needn't have troubled
to teU me about it. One often notices little things like
that without meaning to. Sometimes — quite unin-
tentionally — I 've seen a whole hand at bridge. The
best thing to do is to put it out of your mind, though,
of course, confession is good for some people's souls."
"Yes, but the postmark was Polseth. I lived there
for years. I — I wanted to ask you if you have any
friends there? "
"The Vicar's wife — Mrs. Bree. Do you know her,
"Oh, yes, quite well. But I left Polseth in a way
that offended her, I'm afraid. I don't wish her to know
anything about me now. She wanted to befriend me,
but in a way I objected to, and I 'm afraid she might
want to do so again."
Mrs. Clarges's feelings completely coincided with
Rose's. She patted her hand soothingly.
220 ROSE O' THE SEA
"Don^t worry any more about it, then, child I
won't even mention your name when I write to her. I
don't suppose I should have done so, in any case. We
don't correspond very often. I dare say she has for-
gotten all about you. She seems to be a very busy per-
son nowadays. Did you enjoy your ride?"
The light way in which she dismissed the subject
quite relieved Rose's fears.
"Oh, yes, ever so much," she answered. "Denis is
teaching me, you know. He says I shall have very
good hands in time, and that I sit well. So perhaps I
shall be able to hunt next year."
"Ah, next year! You'll be a married woman then,
my dear. I wonder . . . !" A well-^simulated look of
dreamy tenderness came into Mrs. Clarges's face.
"But then I have no business to wonder. Still, as I'm
a mother, I can't help having motherly feelings to-
wards you, although I never had a daughter." She
sighed. "You love your fianc6, don't you, Rose? It —
should be so."
She said it in just the right way, delicately, in-
But Rose, though very much a child, and singularly
transparent, remembered Maggy's words of counsel.
Besides, she was nothing if not loyal.
"Of course I am very fond of him indeed," she
answered, not without a certain dignity.
Mrs. Clarges did not pursue the subject. Indeed,
she changed it, and presently, through devious chan-
nels, steered the conversation round to Eveleigh. She
took Rose into her confidence about him. He was such
a splendid fellow. He worked so hard and never took
a rest. A week-end in the country occasionally would
ROSE O' THE SEA 221
be so good for him. She hesitated to ask Lord Caister;
but she was so longing to see him, although she had
only been out of town ten days.
"I'll ask him for you," said Rose at once. "I'm
sure Lord Caister would be quite pleased to invite
him down for a few days. It would be another man
for Denis to talk to, too. I '11 go and ask him now, and
you can write to catch this post."
"You dear child!" exclaimed the lady gratefully.
Rose departed on her errand of kindness. Mrs.
Clarges looked after her with a faintly quizzical ex-
She felt that her puppets would shortly begin to
A smouiAXLY strong perfume came from the TCBiaa
ci Denis's breast pocket. He smelt as though the col-
lected essences from an Eastern garden had been up-
set over liin\. The scent had its origin in a hig^y per-
fumed and perfervidly worded letter from Vivienne.
She implored hhn to come and see her. She had no
idea his absence would have made such a blank in
her life. Surely there couldn't be any harm in his
being in the same room with her for a few minutes and
bestowing a few crumbs of conversation upon her? She
hadn't anything catching that she was aware of.
And she was his always — although he had left her
*'on the mat" — just the same Viv.
Denis read her letter through twice. It would seem
unkind not to answer it. Vivienne, in her way, had
been very good to him, or so he thought. He would
write her a few lines in a day or two to cheer the poor
little thing up. So she missed him. It was rather nice
to be missed. And from her he had n't expected con-
stancy of any kind.
The letter and its aroma aroused in him a sudden
nostalgia for town and a glimpse of the life he had
left. He was not conscious of any overwhelming desire
to see Vivienne herself. In dwelling on the thought of
a day in London he almost left her out of considera-
tion. It did not strike him that her letter had inspired
the longing for it. He thought of Bond Street. Per-
haps because he wanted some new ties. He conjured
up a mental vision of Regent Street and Piccadilly. He
ROSE O' THE SEA 223
almost smelt London — the London of expensive
shops, Tashionable rendezvous, and perfumed women.
That scented letter-paper of Vivienne's was at the
bottom of all these mind-pictures. They disturbed
him, made him restless. And the weather, as it hap-
pened, put " the lid on it." It had been raining steadily
for three days. Denis disliked walking in mud or rain.
He had done both and contracted a cold which de-
vitalized him and lowered his spirits.
For the first time since he had come down to Purton,
boredom closed in on him, a black mood which re-
fused to be shaken off. He did not regret any of his
good resolves, but to-day and the day before had
seemed singularly purposeless. Hang it all, he wanted
a change. No harm in that. He 'd run up to town just
for the day. The little excursion would buck him up.
After all, a fellow could n't do without neckties and
a hair-cut when he needed them. This confinement
to the country in wet weather was sheer burial.
He was musing thus morosely when Rose, mackin-
toshed and goloshed, came to ask him to join her and
the dogs in their morning walk.
''I think my cold's too bad for messing about in
the mud," he answered, a shade querulously. "You
go. I 've got a rotten mood on. I feel like Saul when he
threw things at David."
Rose's face clouded. She lingered. The patchouli-like
odour that Vivienne's letter diffused was very noticeable.
"How funny you smell, Denis," she said. "Is it
some scent you're using for a headache?"
" Scent? Oh, it must come from a letter in my pocket,
I expect. It is a bit Rimmelesque. I was going to an-
swer it and throw it away.^
224 ROSE O' THE SEA
"Well, do one or the other," smiled Rose. "Is it
from that girl — Viviemie?"
"M'm. I didn't write to her, though. Honestly,
I did n't. You believe me, don't you? She was feeling
blue, I suppose, and wanted to see me. Anyway, I'm
writing to tell her there's nothing doing. That's all
oflf, as I told you. Tell you what, you go and take the
dogs out and I '11 get this letter off my chest, and when
you come back, if it's still raining, I'll give you a bil-
Rose departed. In less than an hour she was back
again. It was still raining. Denis had written his letter.
It lay on the table, stamped and addressed. He had also
changed his clothes in the interval. He wore garments
of town-like cut and glorious boots — town boots.
"I say, I'm awfully sorry," he began as soon as she
came in sight; "but I've simply got a feeling that I
must see town or die. I want some ties and a hair-cut.
I want to smell Piccadilly. I want to eat amongst a lot
of people in any old place where there 's a band. I 'm
going to catch the ten-twenty and I '11 be back in time
for dinner. I can't find the guv'nor, so when you see
him will you tell him that I've just run up to do some
Rose said nothing for a minute. He had surprised
her so. She had no idea of the feelings that had been
stirring him so troublously, but she felt a vague sense
"Oh, Denis!" she exclaimed. "Must you? Shall I
"There would n't be time. Besides, you don't want
to come, I know. I 'm only goin' to buy a few things
and look up a pal or two at my club."
ROSE O* THE SEA 225
"That girl — Vivienne . . •" said Rose. "Are you
going to meet her? "
"No. There's my letter on the table telling her so."
"That I shan't see her? Oh, yes," he answered
"Don't be cross because I asked you that, Denis,"
she said gently. "Only you know she 's — not good for
you. That's why I don't want you to see her. I'm
not jealous." \
"I know you're not. I wish you were. It would be
a sign — "
He stopped. He was going to say, "It would be a
sign that you loved me," but thought better of it.
"Well, be a sensible little pal," he continued. "To
tell you the truth, I feel rather rotten. It's this cold, I
suppose. If I don't do something by way of a change
I shall get a fit of the blues. So I 'm taking myself in
time. You might let the guv'nor know that I'm not
goin' to do anything startling in town. And I'll be
back to dinner. I shall. Fact."
He meant it. As soon as he found himself in the
train his spirits went up with a bound. In town it
did n't matter if it was raining. You hopped from one
taxi to another. There was always something to do,
something to see. In town when you got tired of your-
self, you could always see other people. The country
was all very well, but . . . Next time he>was depressed
he 'd run up for socks ... or to see his tailor. Sort of
an antidote to the rural life. . . .
He spent a glad hour amongst glad ties of every
hue and design, purchasing a varied selection. Now
226 ROSE (y THE SEA
that he was drinking so little '^ coloured water/' he
hankered for more colour in his ties* He could even
tolerate spots and wriggly lines — dazzle ties.
At half-past one, as he was coming out of a jeweller's
with a present for Rose swinging on his forefinger, he
ran into Vivienne.
^' Denny t*' she cried ecstatically; and then, "Have
you come up in answer to my letter, you darj&ig
thing? How well you're looking! I've been simply
\ She was dressed in a more subdued way — in a
magpie frock of black and white which, she explained,
was mourning for her sins — and for Denis. It was
chk and it suited her. She was the light side of London,
the essence of it. She was Viv — jolly little Viv.
" I wrote you a few lines before I left," he floundered.
"I — I only ran up for an hour or two to get some
things I wanted."
"But of course you were coming to see me. Have
you had lunch? Neither have I," She gave him an
alluring look. "Oh, Denny! Isn't this just like a bit
out of the dear old past? "
Denis found himself being piloted, or piloting her —
he was not quite sure which — through the vestibule
of a well-known restaurant where they had merrily
limched and dined and supped together cm many
Time sped. Vivienne was at her best, which meant
her gladdest and her maddest. She was wild and
witty -^ a witch. She wanted Denis again. She wanted
him badly. She had several hours in which to work her
ROSE O' THE SEA 227
She leant across the table and smiled at him in the
old inimitable way. There were lights in her tawny
eyes that flickered and danced and called, and queer
lights too that matched them in the ^'coloured water"
which sparkled in the wineglass she held up.
"My love to you, Denny," she cooed.
And Denis, faltering, clinked ^is glass against hers.
Rose did not see Caister that day until just before
dinner. He had gone into Purton and remained there
on business connected with the estate. When he came
in, he foimd her alone in the drawing-room a few min-
utes before dinner was announced.
"Where is Mrs. Clarges?" he asked.
Mrs. Clarges had succumbed to a bad headache,
the result probably of too much good living and too
little exercise. Rose had been sitting with her most
of the afternoon, and now made excuses for her ab-
"I'm sorry to hear she's not well," he said. "Please
tell her so when you see her. And Denis? What have
you done with him?" he asked playfully.
"Denis went up to London by the ten-twenty this
morning. He was n't feeling very bright. He said the
rain depressed him and he wanted to buy some neck-
ties. He told me to tell you he would be back to dinner
Caister glanced at the clock. It was eight.
"Well, we won't wait for him," he said. "The train
may be late; or he 's changed his mind and is coming
by the last one."
He gave her his arm and they went in to dinner.
Rose was at first a little distrait, but under his easy,
interesting flow of talk she soon brightened up. He
thought she was anxious on Denis's account, and did
his best to make light of his defection. He found it
no great effort. There was a sympathy between him-
ROSE O' THE SEA 229
self and Rose that made their society all-sufficing.
Both soon forgot all about Mrs. Clarges and Denis.
To be together and alone gave them a great though
After dinner they went up and sat in the picture-
gallery. Denis and itose usually repaired there of an
evening, too. Caister wondered what they found to
talk about; whether Rose was happy in Denis's so-
ciety; whether she was beginning to care for him.
There and .elsewhere, he supposed Denis sometimes
made love to her. He dared not let his mind dwell on
that contingency. . . .
"I'm afraid I make a poor substitute for Denis,"
he said with humility, when they were among the
pictures. "You're great friends now, are n't you?"
"Yes," she replied, and then qualified the asser-
tion with a candour that startled him. "But I like
being with you best. Denis is jolly and amusing as a
rule; but in here I never want to joke. I feel rather
solemn. I dare say it's because I have n't any people
of my own — any links with the past — that all
these portraits and belongings impress me so. Denis
does n't feel like that. He says he'd like to sell some
Caister frowned. He had heard Denis voice the
same desire when he was in want of money.
"He must never do that," he said decisively. "You
must never permit it. Rose. It may rest with you one
"When I am dead, and Denis is without a restrain-
ing hand. He might not respect the entail."
Rose turned a dismayed face on him.
230 ROSE O' THE SEA
"I could n't live here if you were dead/' she said
intensely. ''It would be terrible I Don't talk about it,
"If that inevitable prospect distresses you," he
said with a smile, "we 'U talk of something else. Would
you like to hear a little more family history? "
She assented eagerly. She was never tired of hearing
of the exploits of his predecessors. Denis could seldom
be persuaded to impart what he knew of them, ex-
cept in a spirit of levity.
So Caister took her round the gaflery, pausing be-
fore those pictures in which she evinced most interest.
One of the first of these was a full-length portrait of
a man in a damascened breastplate of the sixteenth
century. Except for the armour it might have been a
portrait of Caister hnnself , so closely did he resemble
the figure whose eyes with a remote and steady gaze
seemed fixed on them.
"Tell me all about that one, please," she said.
"I wonder if he was like you in his ways as well as in
"That is Sir Everard Mallory, who became the
first baron. He fought in nearly all the wars of his
time. But he was a peaceable man for all that. It was
he who rebuilt this house, which had been destroyed
in the Wars of the Roses. He was also a poet of con-
siderable ability. That is his wife, Philippa, also
painted by Holbein at the time of their marriage."
He drew her attention to the picture of a very beau-
tiful girl, and as he did so, a look of stupefaction came
into his face. There was nothing very remarkable in the
fact that there should be a family likeness between
himself and Sir Everard, but it was astoimding that
ROSE O' THE SEA 231
Rose should so resemble his wife, PhiKppa. There was
the same vivid colouring, the same low white forehead
and pencilled brows, the. pure oval face, and, strangest
of all, a similarly elusive charm of expression. Rose was
quite unaware of all this.
"She looks sweet, but very young," she murmured.
"She was your age."
" I think he was a little older than myself."
Rose continued to look at the portraits.
"I expect she was very happy," she mused. "She
looks happy in the picture. It must have been won-
derful to be married to a man who was — an ideal
knight. How long did they Uve?"
"Longenoughto see all their children grow up, and to
die when they were full of years, within a day or two of
each other. Their married life seems to have been un-
eventful, but happy. Theirs was a love-match. There is
an eflBigy of them, lying side by side, in the chapel. I
must show it you. And now, as we 're delving into his-
tory, would you like to see some antique garments?
They're rather quaint."
He led the way into a small tiring-room at the end
of the gallery. In it were two large carved chests. He
unlocked one of them and lifted the heavy lid. The
contents gave oflf a pleasant old-world aroma mingled
with the fragrance of some modem preservative. One
by one they examined dresses of faded splendour,
begemmed stomachers, skirts of stiflF and wonderful
brocade, embroidered waistcoats, ruffs, knee-breeches,
old lace. Woman-like, Rose was entranced with them.
"Ob, isn't this just perfect!" she exclaimed. She/
held out a regal gown of stiff gold brocade, low-cut,
232 ROSE O' THE SEA
patterned with seed pearls. Then she measured it
" I could put it on over my frock. May I? " she asked.
''Just to see.''
He smiled and nodded.
She slipped the gown over her head. Magnificent
though it was, it fastened easily.
Rose gave a rippling laugh and swept him a deep
"What do I look like?" she asked. "There is n't a
glass to see m3rself in. . . . Why ... are you cross with
me? • • * How strange you look!"
He was not cross, only dumbfounded. He took her
arm and led her back to the portrait of the first baron's
" You are the very double of her ! " he exclaimed, and
his voice throbbed with the admiration and passion
he could not keep out of it. His eyes, full on hers, spoke
an infinite love. "Philippa!"
At the name Rose gave a cry — a low, glad cry.
The spell of the past was upon her. The dress, the pic-
tures, the quietude of the house and this sanctified
spot — but, more than all, juxtaposition with the
being whom she most revered and adored, took her out
So they gazed at each other, entranced, yearning,
impelled, spiritually one, as in the dusky pathway of a
dream. . . .
The muffled clatter of a train in the distance brought
them back to the present, to the age in which they
lived and were not to love. The past receded. The
flood-tide of indihation ebbed back within its en-
forced boimdaries. The spell was broken.
ROSE O' THE SEA 233
"Denis's train!" said Rose. "He will soon be here
now. The car went to meet him, did n't it? "
With trembling fingers she unlaced the bewitched
frock and stood there once more, not Philippa of the
sixteenth century, but a slim young modem in a
dainty dinner-dress, engaged to the son of the house.
Tears shone in her eyes. She dashed them away and
held out her hand. Caister took it, pressed it, but did
not speak. They descended to the hall and sat there
listening for the throb of the returning car. A ten
minutes' silence was broken by the entrance of a foot-
"The car has come back from the station, my lord,"
he said. "Mr. Mallory has not arrived. Guest wishes
to know if he is to meet the first train in the morning,"
"I think not. Mr. Mallory will probably wire when
we are to expect him."
Then he followed Rose into the drawing-room.
They had only one thought in their minds — Denis . . .
Denis who had failed them.
Caister had at once acceded to Rose's request for an
invitation to Eveleigh Clarges. And now his mother
awaited his train in a state of mind bordering on excite-
ment. As soon as he stepped onto the platform she
kissed him effusively and led him to the landaulette
that had brought her to the station. With thankfulness
she noted that association with the stage had not
spoilt him either in manner or mode of dress. He was a
gentleman by birth and he looked it.
"Now listen to me carefully, Eveleigh," she began
directly they were in motion. "As it happens, you Ve
arrived in the nick of time. Nothing could have worked
out better. Mr. Mallory is away in town. You '11 have
Miss Eton to yourself. You must make love to her
without delay. And you must win her."
Eveleigh's eyebrows went up in surprise. He showed
"My dear mother!" he exclaimed. "What do you
mean? I thought you 'd asked me down here for a rest ! "
"That's what I said, of course. But in a previous
letter I told you all about this girl's fortune. Don't be
obtuse. Naturally I planned for you to be here on her
"Yes, but you gave me to understand that she's
engaged to the son — "
"What has that to do with it?" she interrupted
tartly. "It's each for himself in this world and devil
take the hindermost. If Mr. Mallory likes to neglect
his fianc6e you 'd be a fool not to take advantage of it.
ROSE O' THE SEA 235
I've told you what I think and believe: she is n't a
bit in love with him. Nor is he with her, or he would n't
go off, as he has, on the pretence of wanting to buy
neckties and socks, and fail to come back as he
promised. I have n't lived in the house a fortnight for
nothing. I 've discovered that he 's a dissipated young
rascal, always in trouble about money and women.
Servants will talk, you know. Anyhow, it 's perfectly
plain sailing for you. You've simply got to go in and
win. Make the most of every opportimity that comes
your way. You'll have Rose practically to yourself.
And that reminds me. Be sure you don't refer to her
inheritance, even indirectly. She has n't an idea of it
Eveleigh's expression remained doubtful.
"Do you like these people?" he asked. "They seem
to be treating you pretty decently."
" They do, my dear. Lord Caister is a charming man.
The son is colourless, but Rose is lovely — and lovable.
They are all exceedingly nice to me. I am glad to say
they like me, and I like them."
"Haven't you a rather queer way of showing it,
mother? I think you 're asking me to play it rather
low-down. You say they're decent people. Apparently
they trust you. They 've even asked me down here to
please you, and all the return you make is to — to
want to get the better of them. I don't like it. It 's not
playing the game."
"Oh, bother the game. This is n't a game, Eveleigh.
It's life. And if you're going to choose the long uphill
road instead of the short cuts and crooked paths that
other people all take when they get the chance, you '11
find yourself left at the post. I 'm a woman of the world
236 ROSE O' THE SEA
and I know what I 'm talking about. You ought to be
thankful to me. I 'm introducing you to an absolutely
sweet girl with pots of money. What more can a ''
mother do? '* She put her hand on his. " Now, Eveleigh,
do be sensible. It's time you married."
Eveleigh sighed. It was no good arguing with her.
He had no matrimonial inclinations whatever. Such
as it was, he took his art very seriously. He had n't
a wide outlook on Ufe. People outside his world — the
cinema world — did not interest him. Love outside his
world — the world of make-believe — allured him not
at all. What affections he had were divided between
his mother and his profession. The latter absorbed his
thoughts. If he read a book or a story, it was in the hope
that it would dramatise effectively for the screen ; when
he studied events or people, it was entirely from the
same standpoint. A personality that had no moving-
picture characteristics wearied him. It was useless to
explain all this to his mother. She could not or would
not imderstand it.
To get him in the right mood again Mrs. Clarges
simulated an interest in his doings, the particular plays
in which he was acting, and other purely theatrical
subjects which bored her exceedingly. In scmie ways
she was old-fashioned. She had never been to a cinema
show in her life, not even to see Eveleigh. She judged
from posters and playbills that the "movies" were
vulgar and melodramatic. She could appreciate a
drawing-room drama, but the imrestraint of theatrical
emotion, direct or pictured, made her feel uncomforta-
ble. That melodrama is frequently more virile, if less
artistic, than other and higher forms of scenic enter-
tainment did not affect this fastidiousness. She hated
ROSE O* THE SEA 237
being thrilled. Thrills were vulgar. In her heart she
loathed the profession Eveleigh had adopted. She did
not talk about it, never alluded to his histrionic at-
tainments. She saw little difference between acting and
playing the fool. She was very material. She had a
hundred reasons for wanting him to marry Rose. The
money would at least ensure his abandoning this so-
called profession of his.
Both Rose and Caister welcomed Eveleigh's visit.
They were mentally unstrung. Denis had now been
away three days. He had neither wired nor written.
Pending his return there was nothing to be said or
done. In fact, they avoided talking about him. Caister
feared to pain Rose; and Rose was dreadfully afraid
she had failed to hold Denis's affection. They pre-
tended that nothing very much was the matter. Denis
would in due course explain the reason of his absence.
Much to Mrs. Clarges's satisfaction Caister, in avoid-
ing temptation, left Rose to Eveleigh and herself. He
did not purposely avoid the young fellow. He liked
him well enough and felt he could trust him with Rose
better than he could trust himself.
Rose on her side turned to Eveleigh with a certain
relief. He was an easy companion. He gave her a lot of
interesting information about the conditions of his
professional Ufe and the people with whom he con-
sorted in it. He sketched the adventurous and roman-
tic side of it. It appealed to her. She asked questions,
and he, ever ready to discuss his pet subject, talked
to her untiringly.
"Do you know, I believe I should love to act," she
exclaimed at last. "Not on a stage to a large audience,
but as you do, to a camera. Somehow I think I could."
238 ROSE O' THE SEA
"I think so too," he said.
He had been watching her expressive face while he
talked. He was nearly sure that it could with a little
practice be made to depict the varied emotions which
an actress should be able to call upon at will. Her eyes
spoke her thoughts. She possessed all the advantages of
beauty and the qualities of mind that go to the making
of a dramatic success.
This impression increased. By the following day he
was quite sure of it. He was consumed with desire to
see her give her talents expression. They were in a
secluded comer of the grounds. He suggested a trial,
and to his delight foimd her shy but willing.
On the spur of the moment his mind could only seize
on the line of " business '* most affected by himself — a
love scene. His seriousness and the real zest he showed
were communicated to Rose. She only saw the artificial
side of the proposal.
"Try and imagine this situation," he began. "The
man you love is going to fight a duel. You are watching
it from a distance. You want to prevent the encounter,
but are unable. In your face one sees anxiety, suspense,
excitement, terror; last of all, when the danger is past,
relief and joy. Try that."
Rose tried. She foimd it amazingly easy. Latent
within her there were gifts of a highly dramatic order.
Eveleigh was delighted.
" You 're splendid ! " he cried. " You 're that one being
in a million — a natural actress. Miss Eton. We '11 have
another try. The duel is over, but I 'm wounded. Come
and meet me. We embrace. You lead me to a seat, and
then you kneel down and bind up my wounds. ..."
They became absorbed in their make-believe^ like
ROSE O' THE SEA 239
children at play. Eveleigh went through his repertoire
with her, here and there picking out a favourite scene
and playing it with her.
Mrs. Clarges, who had marked their departure to-
gether from the house, and had given them the best
part of the morning to themselves, was*beginning to be
convinced that her scheme was in a fair way of accom-
plishment. Hope and anxiety sent her out to discover
whether this were so or not. Eventually locating them
she witnessed, herself imseen, the last and most moving
of the situations that they were rehearsing. She took it
for reality and smiled to herself, well pleased. For the
first time in his life Eveleigh was not letting the grass
grow under his feet.
She noted the progress of their friendship during the
evening, and late that night, when Rose had gone to
bed, she followed Eveleigh to his bedroom.
"Have you everything you want, dear?" she en-
quired soiilfuUy. "I hope you'll sleep well. I'm so
pleased you are getting on so well with Rose. By to-
morrow you might almost clinch matters. Arrange a
correspondence. A love-letter or two from her to your-
self would make things safe. Girls expect that sort of
thing. ... Of course I 'm hoping you 'U be asked to stay
"I can't possibly do that. We're filming 'Roma — a
Gipsy,' our new production. I must be at the studios
Deep displeasure showed in Mrs. Clarges's face.
"Good Heavens, Eveleigh, have a little sense of
proportion! In a few weeks your acting won't signify
anything. You'll have dropped all that."
"I don't follow you."
240 ROSE O' THE SEA
"Oh, yes, you do. You won't ax:t when you're mar-
ried, because there won't be any need to work."
"But I told you what I thought of that scheme yes-
"I know, but you've altered your nwnd since then.
You 'vc fallen in love with Rose already. I don't won-
der at it."
"But I'm not in love with her," he protested. "I've
explained to you so often that I never feel like making
love off the stage. In fact, I don't believe I could if I
tried. I certainly have no inclinations that way."
"You're talking rubbish. Why, I saw you in the
garden with my own eyes making love to her like —
like anything ! "
"Oh, thenr' he scoffed. "We were only acting. I've
made a discovery about her. She's naturally and
wonderfully talented. She'd absolutely make her for-
timc on the stage."
Mrs. Clarges, enraged, stamped her foot.
"But she 's got a fortune! She does n't need to tnake
one. That's what yau^ve got to do. Don't be an idiot,
Eveleigh. You must be attracted by her. Why, I saw
for myself: you could hardly take your eyes off her.
You must admit she 's perfectly beautiful."
"She's more than that," he admitted dispassion-
ately. " She has the most wonderful face for the movies
I 'vc ever come across in my life. It absolutely speaks ! "
"It's you — you, I tell you, who've got to do the
speaking!" Mrs. Clarges insisted irately.
She could hardly resist shaking him.
On Monday afternoon Denis turned up. He walked
from the station and at once went to look for Rose.
He found her brushing one of the dogs in the stable-
yard. Seeing him, she smiled a welcome. The smile
was as a knife in the boy's heart. He felt such a traitor.
Anybody but Rose would have met him with an of-
fended air, treated him with suspicion and contempt.
"I've come back," he said lamely. "I'm — I really
did n't mean to stay away so long. I would have wired,
but every day something cropped up to stop me. I 'm
"It does n't matter," she said. "Of course we were
worried. But you're here now, so everything's all
" Mean to say you don't want a lot of escplanations? "
he demanded in wonder. " Are n 't you angry with me? "
She went on with her brushing.
"No, not angry. Only a little disappointed. Every-
thing was going so well imtil the bad weather came and
upset you. Of course I think it 's a pity you did n't
battle against the restless feeling. But you'll try and
settle down now, won't you, Denis? "
He wondered at her calmness.
"Will you be the same to me?" he asked with some
A queer muscular contraction took place in his
"I want you to be the same," he supplicated. "I
242 ROSE O' THE SEA
want to spend the whole of the rest of to-day with you
— every hour of it. I 'm sick, Rose — sick to death of
Rose stood up and put her arm through his.
"Come along; we'll take the dogs for their nm and
go and see Lady Chalfont. She'll cheer you up."
"I don't want to see any one. Let me just stay here
For the remainder of the day he hardly let her out of
his sight. At such times as she had to leave him he
showed all the disquiet of a lost dog, but none of a dog's
exuberance at reunion with his mistress.
While he was dressing for dinner his father came
into his room.
"Glad you've come back, Denis," he said. "We
missed you," j
He looked hard at the boy. Denis, a little whiter of
face than usual, was fastening his tie.
"Thanks, father," he answered. "I'm sorry I went.
I shan't repeat the offence."
Caister lingered. "Is there anything you want to get
off your mind?" he asked. "I won't be hard on you,
Denis. . . . Don't hesitate to make a confidant of me if
it will do any good."
Denis turned from the glass. He had succeeded in
tjdng the bow.
"I'm all right, sir," he replied reticently.
"You've seen Rose, of course."
" Yes. I 've been with her all the time."
Caister's hand went to Denis's shoulder.
"You're glad to be back?" he enquired affection-
Denis gave a short laugh. "My God! yes. I did n't
ROSE O' THE SEA 243
know how glad until Rose smiled up into my face and
gave me her hand."
At dinner he was abstemious, and only drank water.
Afterwards a merry fit took possession of him. He
played and sang with surprising verve. Mrs. Clarges
could not make him out. Her opinion of him underwent
a change. This evening he was almost brilliant; a more
serious rival to Eveleigh than she had thought possible.
Generally it was Denis who suggested the after-
dinner adjournment to the picture-gaUery with Rose.
To-night he made no attempt to do so.
Bedtime came. Rose went to her room with a strange
feeling in her heart. Denis's liveliness had not deceived
her. At the back of his eyes there was the look of one
who sees ghosts. She sensed that, all the time, he had
been acting. Intuition told her that something weighed
on his mind. He had said he was sick. She had not for-
gotten his expression — sick to death of himself! It
stuck in her memory.
She sat before the fire in a dressing-gown trying to
read, but she could not concentrate her thoughts on
her book. She heard the stable clock and the house
docks strike midnight. All her senses were on the
stretch. She was constrained to listen ... to listen —
for sounds. .
And by and by she heard them — the stealthy open-
ing and shutting of a door. Some one in slippered feet
passed down the passage. A stair creaked. She rose,
standing irresolute. The next minute her door was open
and she was flying down the stairs. Denis was going to do
something desperate! A message — a thought-wave —
had come to her. She understood the meaning of her
uneasiness. Denis's terrible resolution had been loom-
244 ROSE O' THE SEA
ing over her. Now it was dear, as clear as though he had
actually told her what he intended doing.
"5icJfe to death of myself/*' . . . The ominous words
With her heart beating wildly, she ran barefoot down
to the hall, into the library. He was not there, but one
of the library windows was open. He must have gone
into the garden.
She could not see ahead of her. The night was pitch-
black. She stepped over the low sUl and ran, letting
instinct guide her.
"Denis!" she called. "Denis! Where are you?"
She had the impression that he was hiding from her.
She was so sure of it that, a moment or two later, when
she collided with him in the darkness, she did so with a
feeling of relief. She caught at him to save herself from
falling. The force of the sudden impact made him lose
his balance. Something dropped from his hand.
"Look out!" he said, breathing hard, and began
groping in the grass. But Rose was groping too. She
was quicker than he, or perhaps prescience guided her.
Her fingers closed on something hard and cold and
steely. A chill colder than steel struck at her heart.
She knew what it was that she held in her hand, and
with a rapid movement put it behind her back.
"Denis! What are you doing?" she demanded fear-
Denis went on searching in the grass.
"Nothing," he muttered. "I — I could n't sleep so
I came out here for a breath of fresh air.'*
"I could n't sleep either. I heard you pass my door.
Come in with me now, Denis," she entreated, and took
ROSE O' THE SEA 245
"Hold hard a minute. I've dropped my cigarette
"IVe got it . . . but it isnH a cigarette case. Take
care. It's in my hand."
"Give it back to me."
"Not to-night. It's — it's safer with me."
Denis was wrought up, but he had enough presence
of mind to refrain from using force.
"Look here, the thing's loaded," he said. "You don't
understand firearms. It might go off and hurt you."
"I'd rather it hurt me than you. You were going
to kill yourself. If it went off now and hurt me, it
would only be — an accident."
" I '11 give you my word not to use it if you '11 hand it
She was firm and outwardly cool.
"I can't take your word just now. You don't know
what you're doing."
"I know what I meant to do. What good do you
think you've done, following me like this? It's en-
tirely my own affair. My life's no use to any one. I
want to get out of it."
"Your life means much to others. You don't belong
to yourself. What about your father and me? Do you
think we should n't care? You 're mad, Denis. . . . OA,
my poor Denis t^^
At the words all his courage — a forced courage —
failed him. Quite suddenly he knelt down in the grass
and sobbed at her feet. And little by little, in broken
sentences, she got his story from Mm. It was bitter
hearing. There was the inevitable reference to Vivienne
running through it like an insidious poison, together
with the gambling fever that had held him as a thing
246 ROSE O' THE SEA
possessed for three nights. He had lost, of course. He
always lost. He had gone on losing his money and then
his head. He had n't an earthly chance of paying his
debts, and he could not, would not, face his father.
This was the last straw !
"I know he'd see me through it, somehow," he
groaned. "But it would be the end of everything be-
tween us. He'd never overlook it. He couldn't. I'm
down and out."
"You're not! You shan't be!" she cried. "What
does money count against a precious life? Besides, he
need n't know, Denis. Listen to me. I can help you!
How much is it? "
" Five thousand poimds ! " His tone was not delibera-
ately derisive. "How much is your fortune, darling?
Five himdred shillings?"
"A lot more than that."
Her disengaged hand went to her throat. Something
warm was thrust into Denis's hand. It felt like beads.
"Take these," Rose was saying. "They're worth a
lot of money. I know some one in London who will give
you ten thousand poimds for them. You've only to go
to him with a letter from me. You must!"
" Ten thousand poimds ! " babbled Denis. " M-moon-
She responded with a laugh that verged on the hys-
terical. She wanted to cry, not laugh.
"It's not. There isn't a moon to-night," she said
with a poor assumption of mirth. "I've given you my
necklace, Denis — the one I always wear. They're
pearls — real ones ! "
He fingered them, disbelieving, amazed, dubious,
then staggered to his feet.
ROSE O' THE SEA 247
" But if they axe," he stammered, " I can't take them.
I couldn't pay you back. Besides, what would my
"He need not know. It would be our secret. If I were
your wife you would come to me if you were in trouble,
would n't you? I should want you to, or else I should
be a poor sort of partner. Oh, Denis, I 'm so shiveringly
cold. I — I forgot to put any shoes on."
Instantly Denis was abject.
"What an egotistical brute I am!" he cried con-
tritely. "Letting you catch your own death of cold
trying to save a Ufe that's not of as much importance
as a dog's! Come in at once."
"I'll keep this, please," she said, holding out the
revolver. "Take out the cartridges and throw them
away. I'll hold it while you do it."
Denis obeyed. His will power had all vanished. They
crept indoors, upstairs, feeling their way. At her bed-
room door Rose paused.
"Good-night, Denis, dear," she whispered. "I can
trust you now. ... It 's a pitch-black night, but —
there is a God!"
It was Miss Hobbs who first came across the advertise-
ment and brought it to Mr. Louie's attention.
"Look!" she said.
His eyes followed her finger, pointing out a few
lines of print in the "agony" colimm of the "Times."
A replica of it might have been foimd in every other
daily paper in England that morning.
Missing from Polseth, near Truro, Cornwall, since
June last, a young woman of prepossessing appearance
known as Miss Rose Eton. Age eighteen, looks younger;
height mediiun, slim build, curly dark chestnut hair, dark
blue eyes, very regillar features, clear complexion. Is be-
lieved to have gone to London. Any one giving reliable in-
formation concerning the present whereabouts of the above
mentioned will be liberally rewarded by Messrs. Andrews
and Andrews, Solicitors, London Wall, E.C., or by Messrs.
Tredgold and Evans, High Street, Truro.
"Whatever can it mean?" she asked. "Ought we
to do anything? I don't mean for the reward, but for
Rose's sake. It looks as if it might be something to her
"It does n't say so," pondered Mr. Louie.
That nothing of the kind was specified was due to
Mrs. Bree's advice to Mr. Tredgold.
"I think," he said, "it ought to be sent to her. She'll
probably see it, in any case. As the advertisement con-
cerns her she would no doubt prefer to communicate
with these people direct. You might cut it out and post
it to her."
Miss Hobbs hesitated.
ROSE O' THE SEA 249
"Wouldn't you rather write a line yourself?'' she
" I don't think it 's necessary. It will be just the same
if you do it. But first, .if you 're ready, we '11 get through
those letters I dictated last night. I 'd like you to type
"I have them here."
From her desk Miss Hobbs took some loose typ^d
sheets that awaited his signature and placed them
"I knew you wanted them got oflf early," she ex-
plained, "so I did them right away."
. In so many ways like this she had proved herself
an invaluable secretary. She never forgot anything;
she anticipated most of his wants; wherever she could
she thought for him, saved him trouble. And because
her duties were a labour of love she hardly ever made
mistakes. Mr. Louie had found her much more than a
proficient amanuensis; she was a coadjutor, a collabo-
rator. While he signed the letters he said something to
In gratification that was too deep for words, Miss
Hobbs placed the letters in their envelopes, fastened
them, and rang for the messenger boy to take them to
the post. Then she cut ^ut^the advertisement to send
Mr. Louie watched her approvingly. The sunlight
that streamed in through the window made her hair
shine like burnished gold. It really was beautiful. He
had by now even got to admire her copious figure. It
was an emblem of abimdance, matronly, comucopian.
It suggested the married woman, the mother. He re-
called the picture of her seen in the gasUght at her
250 ROSE O' THE SEA
open window. . . . Yes, he could imagine Miss Hobbs
a mother with a child in her arms.
Their friendship had grown apace in the last month.
The daily intimacy had fostered it. In addition, Miss
Hobbs and her little sister had twice been to Richmond
to visit his mother.
"Just wait a minute," he said as she dipped her pen
in the ink. "I want to speak to you about something.
My mind has been very much occupied lately concern-
ing you. I think I ought to tell you and — and to know
how we stand."
Miss Hobbs wondered what was coming. For a
moment the devastating thought occurred to her that
he meant to dispense with her services as his secretary.
And yet a minute ago he had expressed himself so
well pleased with her.
"If — if there's an3rthing I haven't done — any
fault — you know I'll try to improve," she faltered.
"Of course," pursued Mr. Louie, following his own
line of thought, " I should miss you — all day. I should
never get any one to replace you here. But, on the
other hand, I want to oiffer you — another position,
The look of foreboding in Miss Hobbs's face became
"If I satisfy you," she murmured, "I'd rather stay
— even if it meant a bigger salary in another depart-
ment. I — I like working here with you."
"It's not a question of salary . . . nor exactly one
of work either. ... I want you — at home."
Miss Hobbs was not at all sure what he meant.
"As — as companion to Mrs. Louie?" she got out.
"Last Simday she was saying how nice it wotdd be if
ROSE O' THE SEA 251
she had some one like me to talk to. Of course I never
gave it a serious thought — "
"Not exactly as a companion, either, though if you
approved, my mother would like to stay with us. . . .
I — I'm afraid I'm not making myself quite clear."
"No," replied Miss I^bbs mechanically and fearfully.
Mr. Louie gulped.
"I'm asking you to marry me,"
The office seemed to get up and dance roimd Miss
Hobbs. In her amazement and joy she nearly screamed.
"Me — marry you? Oh ... I could n't!" she cried,
and covered her face with her hands.
Mr. Louie got up and removed them. He held them
instead, very firmly.
"Why not?" he asked tremulously .\ "Don't you
understand? I do believe you 're so modest that you 've
never imagined it possible that I might care for you."
Miss Hobbs gave a gasp. "And that's just what has
happened. It 's true — I 'm not going to deny it — I
did care for Miss Eton. But that's past. In a way I
care for her still. But she is a child and you are a woman.
I feel differently about you. It is n't necessary to explain
what the difference is. Still, I want you to believe that
I 'm not offering you any second-best love. If it were
that I should n't speak to you at all, because a second-
best would n't be worthy of you. I care for you as a
man should care for the woman he is going to marry.
But if it's not in your heart to give me love in re-
"Don't!" Miss Hobbs's voice trembled more than
Mr. Louie's. "Can't you see? Oh, it's in my heart to
give you worship. It 's been that — all along. Just to be
in here working with you, breathing the same air as
252 ROSE O' THE SEA
you do, has been like fairyland! Right from the first
day you engaged me I've loved you. I've loved you
so much that I wanted Rose to marry you because you
wanted her. And now to think that I'm going to be
your wife ! To think I shall be able to do things for you,
to make a pudding with my own hands that you '11 eat,
to warm your slippers at night — all the Uttle things
of love." She raised her shining eyes to his — in them
the light that never was on sea or land.
Mr. Louie kissed her homely, happy face.
"Bless you, Fanny," he said indistinctly. "Love me
as much as you can find it in your heart to do. I '11 try
and be worthy of it. But remember this — the very
best of us — I 'm speaking of men, dear — is n't worthy
to tie the shoestring of a good woman like yourself.
Give me everything but worship. Keep that for the —
the Uttle ones."
The blush that came into Miss Hobbs's face stirred
Mr. Louie to his depths. He knew Rose would not
have blushed like that. But Miss Hobbs was not young.
She was over thirty: nevertheless her mature maidenly
reserve broke down now.
"I can't help feeKng himable," she said. "I'd made
up my mind to what I thought my life was going to be
— to lovelessness and childlessness. When I was starv-
ing I could take a dip into a book — a love-story — or
watch lovers in the street. But now it's come to me
myself! I'U know what it is to be a woman and not a
sad old maid. I'm not going to be left in the cold any
more. I can warm my hands at my own fireside. . . .
There, now! I'll write to Rose. . . ."
She picked up her pen again. And there was glory
in her heart.
An elderly gentleman of prosperous and businesslike
aspect was enquiring for Miss Rose or Mr. Mallory.
Rose and Denis were out for the day motoring with the
Chalfonts. The caller's card was sent in to Caister.
MR. HORACE BRITTON
Messrs. Stark & Bowden,
Jewellers & Valuers of Precious Stones,
Bond Street, W.
It conveyed nothing. A little puzzled, Caister
ordered the caller to be admitted. He glanced from
the card to Mr. Britton. He wondered whether Denis
might have bought some article of jewellery for Rose
and omitted to pay for it.
Mr. Britton was deferential, but concise. He stated
his business at once.
"In the matter of this pearl necklace, my lord,"
he observed, "I have run down personally to see Miss
Eton or Mr. Mallory, in order to put a few necessary
questions before handing over the 'money. The sale
involves a large sum, and a few formalities are neces-
sary. If you will excuse me — "
"I know nothing whatever of any necklace," was
Caister 's disclaimer. '* Perhaps you will be good enough
to enlighten me further about it."
"Quite so, your lordship. A few months ago I met
Miss Eton at a tea-party — a family gathering. She
was wearing a pearl necklace which instantly attracted
my attention on account of its value. She said it had
been given to her that day as a birthday present,
254 ROSE O' THE SEA
and until I convinced her to the contrary she thought
it was an imitation one."
He took a small box from his pocket. It contained the
pearls, which he unwrapped and placed on the table.
"I advised her in a friendly way to sell the jewels.
I stated they were worth ten thousand pounds and I
gave her my business card in Case she was ever in the
mind to dispose of them. So far as I was concerned
the matter ended there. Subsequently I heard from
my nephew, who is one of Messrs. Gardner's depart-
mental managers, that Miss Eton had left their estab-
lishment, and I was imaware of her present where-
abouts. This morning, however, I had a letter from
her. She wrote that she wished to sell the pearls, and
asked that a cheque for them might be made out to
the Honourable Denis Mallory. Of course her reasons
for the sale have nothing to do with us. At the same
time we have to be very careful in our dealings. A guar-
antee that the pearls are hers to dispose of is necessary.
I have no doubt whatever that Miss Eton can give it,
and then we shall be ready to hand Mr. Mallory our
cheque. There is also another matter that I wished to
see Miss Eton about — the advertisement in this
morning's papers, which no doubt you have seen."
He held out the "Times" cutting. Caister had not
seen it. He read it attentively and with uneasy specu-
lation. He had no more idea of its significance than
had Mr. Louie and Miss Hobbs. A very few moments
of consideration decided him, for Rose's protection,
to go up to town and call on the solicitors about it.
As for her possession of a valuable necklace and her
desire to sell it^ that now took a secondary place in his
ROSE O' THE SEA 255
"In Miss Eton's absence," he said, "I'm afraid I
cannot give you the information you want. All I can
promise is that I will write to you to-night when I
have seen her. I will also show her this advertisement.
Meanwhile, do you wish me to return her the pearls? "
Mr. Britton did. He took a receipt for them and
returned to his waiting cab on his way back to town.
Before noon Caister had motored up and presented
himself at the offices of Messrs. Andrews & Andrews,
wherein matter-of-fact legal language he was made
acqu^ted with the story of Rose's romantic inherit-
ance. He heard it with an unmoved face, arranged that
Rose should herself call on the firm on the following
morning, and then returned to Purton. He arrived
just before dinner, and directly after asked Rose to
come to him in the library. He had been very quiet
all through dinner. Rose, stealing a look at his grave
face, had wondered at his preoccupation.
"I'm so glad you asked me to come and speak to
you alone," she said. " You look troubled. I 'm so sorry.
What is it?"
"I confess I am upset," he said. "That is putting it
lightly. But although I thank you for your sympathy
I want something more from you to-night — the ut-
"Why, of course," she answered wonderingly. "You
don't think I'm not frank, do you?"
He replied by a question.
"Is this your neddace?" He held it out.
Rose started and then flushed. " Ye-es," she admit-
ted. "I — I sent it away. How did it get here?"
"A Mr. Britton of Bond Street brought it. He
wanted to see you and Denis regarding its sale. Do
256 ROSE O' THE SEA
you mind telling me why you never mentioned you
had such a valuable thing in your possession? ''
"It was a present from my adopted father. I had
no idea what it was worth until Mr. Britton told me,
and even when I did know I did n't care for it any more
because of its value. I don't think very much about
"You will have to before long," he said pointedly.
"But — do you mind telling me — why do you wish
to sell your pearls? Was it for Denis?"
"I'd rather not say."
"You prefer I should ask Denis?"
Rose gave a gulp. "No. Denis got into a money
scrape in London. He was n't going to tell either of us
about it. He was going to do something quite desper-
ate instead. I found him just in time. You would n't
have had a son by now if I had n't stopped him. I
made him tell me his trouble. He 'd been gambling.
Then I thought of my necklace, and I made him take
it, that 's all. I helped him as I should have helped him
if we had been married. I sent the pearls to Mr. Britton.
I never thought he 'd make a — a business about it.
They are mine and I have a right to sell them."
"You will have no need to sell pearls or anything
else in future. Will you please put these on again?"
A little bewildered, Rose did so.
"If you will not let me help Denis," she said, with
girlish dignity, "I will not be engaged to him any
"I'm coming to that. I was about to ask you to
Rose stared at him uncomprehendingly. Then:
**Have I done anything wrong?" she asked.
ROSE O' THE SEA 257
Caister shook his head. "Not at all. But your cir-
cumstances have altered. We are already under great
obligations to you — Denis and I — without becom-
ing your debtors financially." He sighed heavily. "You
have been splendid. You have given royally, but we
cannot live on your bounty.''
His uncompromising tone brought a flush of resent-
ment into Rose's face. She was standing up very slim
" Is this all because of my necklace? " she demanded.
"Not entirely.. You own a very great deal more than
a mere necklace."
Then he told her of her fortime, concisely, quietly,
in terms that she could understand. He added that
the solicitors would explain it all to her on the morrow.
She.Ustened without interrupting. Then she said
"It's a very great deal of money, and because I've
got it you don't want me to marry Denis. ... Is that
"The Caisters do not marry for money," was the
inexorable assertion. "We prefer to be honourably
."And honourable snobs!" she flashed out. "You
put family pride before my feelings. I could marry
your son when I was poor and had nothing to bring
with me. That did n't hurt your pride — only mine!
You could give everything to me — even to this frock
I'm wearing, the food I've eaten. But now that I can
give you something back and so even things up, I'm
not wanted!" Her wounded love and pride made her
reckless. " I 've made a hero of you up till now. I loved
your rank and standing and your family traditions;
258 ROSE O' THE SEA
this place, everything that belonged to it. But now I
almost despair of you. Pride that will stab and wound
another person is a thing to be ashamed of, not to
glory in. Please take your ring back." She slipped it oflf.
"It's more yours than Denis's. You paid for it. You
chose it. And as for these " — she held the pearls up —
" he — the dear old man who gave them to me — never
meant them to bring me unhappiness. Rather than
that, he'd tell me to throw them away. There!"
Before he could stop her, she had crossed to the
open window and flung the pearls out into the night.
Her bosom rose and fell with emotion.
"And all the money too!" she continued with a sob
in her voice. "He hated money. He wouldn't have
left it to me either if he 'd guessed it meant — this !
Oh, why can't he take it back! Horrible money —
money that always makes trouble all over the
world . . . !"
In spite of Caister's sedulously steeled feelings, it
dismayed him to see her so poignantly stirred. And
his imcompromising attitude was the cause. He ap-
proached her with an extenuating gesture.
"Rose, I did not mean to pain you," he declared.
"Pray believe that. But I cannot see you martyred
for Denis's sake. He is hopeless. How hopeless I did
not realise imtil to-day. He has sunk so low that he
can accept your trinkets to pay his debts. I cannot
allow that, nor the sacrifice of your life and your for-
tmie, for that is what it would mean. I should be a
blackguard if I did."
Rose put her hands over her heart. Her face was
"You've hurt me here," she said, "deep down.
ROSE O' THE SEA 259
I don't want to speak to you any more. It's fin-
ished. Let me go. I must tell Denis what you have
She went to the door. He held it open for her, and
she passed him with her little head held high. For
the pride of the Caisters, nobly bom, was as nothing
to the pride of Rose on her mettle.
But, first of all, before she went to look for Denis,
Rose flew to her own room. She was very angry. She
felt as though her heart wks bursting. The news of her
huge fortune could not uplift her. What was a fortune
if she was n't to be allowed to spend it on those she
loved? It was less than nothing to her. Had not her
"Dad" taught her to disregard money, to despise it?
And he had left her — wealth beyond dreams! She
recalled the strange prophecy of old Becky Gryls.
Gold — tnore gold than she could spend/ Yes, she had it
now, would have it, at least, but of love she was beg-
gared. Becky had been wrong there.
She felt humiUated, unjustly hmniliated. To begin
with, she could not or would not understand Lord
Caister's point of view, his pride of an empty purse.
Oh, that hurt more than aU! She was an heiress now,
one of the Plutocracy, as he scathingly called it, and
so he would have none of her, either for himself or his
She flimg herself on her bed and cried as the young
cry when they are greatly hurt, mentally or physically.
The outburst relieved the tension of her feelings.
She did not hear a light tap on her bedroom door
or Mrs. Clarges's softly modulated voice outside:
"May I come in?"
Not until her chaperon was by her side, and had
laid a white-ringed hand on her rumpled hair, smooth-
ing it, was she aware of her presence.
"Why, Rose, whatever is upsetting you?" Mrs.
ROSE O' THE SEA 261
Clarges asked with much emphasised tenderness. "I
thought I heard you crying on my way upstairs to get
my workbag. Won't you tell me what the trouble is? "
Rose sat up. At any other time she would have been
disinclined to confide in Mrs. Clarges, although she
liked her. But now she was literally yearning for sym-
pathy, especially from a woman. In a disjointed way
she sobbed out her trouble. Part of it — Lord Caister's
scruples — was incomprehensible to the widow, al-
though it played into her' hands extraordinarily well.
She drew Rose's head on to her bosom and held her
with what was meant to be gentle compassion. The
motherly softness of that embrace soothed Rose, who
could not feel the hardness of the heart beneath, or
guess at the calculating brain that inspired the conso-
lation which seemed so genuine. Mrs. Clarges's con-
summate tact did not allow her to do more than sym-
pathise ambiguously. She made no attack on Lord
Caister, as an injudicious woman would certainly have
done. That was her cleverness. She was clever enough
also not to show elation about Rose's fortune. She had
had time to get accustomed to her secret knowledge
"You must try and look at things practically, dear
child," she said in her velvet voice. "Of course you
feel your world is upside down now. In a very little
while you'll see things in their right perspective. Per-
haps you will even be glad that all this has come
about. I have said very Uttle. It has not been my place
to express opinions. But because I care for you a great
deal more than you can guess,* I have dreaded your
marriage with Mr. Mallory. I have suffered and seen
a good deal of life and the troubles that arise from un-
262 ROSE O' THE SEA
suitable marriages. I saw infinite unhappiness ahead
of you. At any rate, you have your life before you now.
You can make new ties, form other affections.
'^And then this fortune of yours. Think of it with
gratitude. You will be able to do so much good, to help
people in distress, to bestow happiness, comfort, wher-
ever you choose — and to aid your friends. If you look
at money imselfishly like that you will derive tJie deep-
est happiness in dispensing it. But all that is in the
future. What are you going to do now? "
"I have to go to London to-morrow to see these
solicitors. I 'm not coming back."
"But, my dear, where are you going? What about
poor little me? "
Rose had not thought of Mrs. Clarges. It seemed
rank ingratitude to admit as much now.
"Won't you come with me?" she asked after a mo-
mentary hesitation. ^^ I — I suppose I shall need some
one older than myself to live with. It would be so nice
if you would come. We could stay at an hotel until
we'd made other plans. Do say you'll come." ^
Mrs. Clarges's triumph was not in the least apparent.
She even affected reluctance.
"But, my dear, a permanent situation! I'm not at
all sure that I could arrange . . . Look here, suppose
you come and live with me as my guest for the present.
We won't discuss money at all. Just let me look after
you. You'll be my girl."
She drew Rose to her again and kissed her.
"I'll come and talk to you later to-night," she con-
tinued. " You need n't see Lord Caister again unless
you wish. I shall tell him I 'm going to take care of you
for the future."
ROSE O' THE SEA 163
"I would like to say good-bye to Lady Chalfont,"
demurred Rose. "She's been so sweet to me."
"I should n't do that," Mrs. Clarges put in quickly .
"Wait xmtil you're back in London. She'll be there
too before long. Then you can thank her. If you feel
you want to leave Purton at once, I should n't stop for
"Well, I'll speak to Denis," Rose decided. "Is he
in the drawing-room still?"
"Yes. I won't come down with you. I'll go to my
own room and come to you later."
When Rose entered the drawing-room, Denis
noticed with some surprise that she had been crying.
He took her hand. It happened to be the left and ring-
less. He noticed that also.
"What's up?" he asked. "And whereas your ring.
"I gave it back tb your father. Everything's over,
Denis. That 's what I 've come to tell you. I — I 'm
going away to-morrow."
"Going away to-morrow! You don't mean to say
that you know — "
Because her tangled mind held no other idea at the
moment she thought he was referring to the advertise-
ment in the "Times," and nodded miserably.
"It's in the papers. I suppose you've seen it too."
Denis averted his eyes.
"She promised she'd keep it a dead secret," he
muttered. "Of course I should have had to tell you
I've been trying to summon up courage ever since I
came back. I swear. Rose, I had no thought of being
untrue to you when I went up to town. I never so
much as meant to see Vivienne. We met by accident.
264 ROSE O' THE SEA
I could n't cut her in the street. She 'd done nothing to
deserve that. She twisted me round her little finger, as
she has hundreds of times before. I tell you, a sort of
madness came over me. You don't know Vivieime, . . .
I don't know which of us suggested we should get mar-
ried. I — I can't remember. An)rway, we got a special
licence and — and it was done."
Rose could only stare at him.
"Do — do you mean you^re married?^' she asked
Denis raised a shamed face and nodded.
"Yes. Is n't that what you meant had got into the
"No. I meant an advertisement about myself. I've
had a lot of money left me. That was what your father
wanted to see me about — that and the pearls. He
foimd out I was going to sell them to help you. He was
angiy, and said unkind things. And because it turns
out that I 've been left an immense amoimt of money
he refused to let me marry you."
Denis laughed mirthlessly.
"He needn't have considered that if he'd only
known," he remarked bitterly. "Well, I sincerely con-
gratulate you on being well quit of us."
Rose said not a word.
"Won't you say something to me?" he went on.
"One thing: you can't loathe me more than I do
myself. It was a pity you — you intervened the other
night. Viv would have been a merry widow by now,
and I should have been — at peace."
"Don't talk like that. I don't loathe you at all. I'm
only sorry — about everything — from the bottom of
my heart. You have n't hurt me one half as much as
ROSE O' THE SEA 265
your father has. I forgive you freely, if that 's any help
to you. And I hope you'll be happy!"
Denis choked. "Happy? My God!"
Rose laid her hand on his arm. She was n't the only
person then who was miserable and upset. Here was
poor Denis, in need of kindness much more than blame.
For him she only felt unselfish sorrow. He had made
such a hash of everything. Everything was tangled,
contradictory. For the last time, and m spite of her own
distress, she tried to help the boy who was so greatly
his own enemy.
"What are you going to do?" she asked. "Your
father will have to know."
"I dare say. I hadn't thought about it," he an-
swered dully. "I shan't stay here, anyway. I suppose
I must go back to Vivienne." /
Rose was thinking.
" You ought to. You must make the best of it — and
of each other — and Hfe. We 've all got to do that. I
shall have to try, too, in my way."
"If you face things out with your father he'll think
better of you," she advised.
"I doubt it. He'll simply finish with me. I don't
expect anything else. You see, he thinks Vivienne the
limit. He will always detest her. She happens to be just
everything he could never like. All the same, she's not
as bad as he thinks. She's a good little pal in her way.''
"I expect she cares for you," said Rose sapiently.
" I hope so. I 'd like to be friends with you both, Denis,
if you '11 let me. Won't you give me her address? "
Denis looked astounded. Rose's generosity staggered
him. It was imparalleled, but magnificent.
266 ROSE O' THE SEA
He took out his pocket-book and wrote the address.
She took it and said :
" Good-night, Denis. . . . Please don't think I 'm
cross. I really and truly want to be friends. I shall be
so extra lonely now because of this money. And about
those pearls : I — I threw them out of the window. . . .
I hope they '11 never be f oimd again. But as soon as I
get my own money I want you to have some of it to
get straight with — for a wedding present. There 's so
much more than I can ever spend."
And before he could answer she was gone. He stood
still, looking stupidly at the closed door.
Rose went back to her room. There, in the firelit
solitude, she mutely prayed that the biurden of her
wealth might somehow be taken from her, for already
it had made her heart heavy. . . .
And then — it almost seemed that she had been lis-
tening for Rose's return, so quickly did she make her
reappearance — Mrs. Clarges was back in the room,
full of maternal kindness and brisk plans.
To Lady Chalfont, who was one of the most intuitive
creatures on God's earth, there was an air of f orlomness
about Caister House. A valedictory gloom seemed to
hang over it.
She walked in without ringing or knocking, as was
her habit, came to a standstill m the hall, and called
"Any one in?"
The echoes of her silvery-toned voice rang back
from the groined roof. One could picture her as Nell
Gwyn mellifluously chanting, "Oranges! Who'll buy
my sweet oranges?"
Usually Rose or Denis, sometimes Caister, or all
three together would come to meet her. To-day none
of them made an appearance. Maggy went on to the
drawing-room. There was no fire in it, only two house-
maids engaged in putting dust-covers over the furni-
ture. Maggy looked a trifle surprised.
"Is everybody out?" she asked.
"His lordship is in the morning-room, my lady,"
one, of the maids said, preparing to escort her there.
"Don't trouble. I'll find him," said Maggy, and
went on alone.
Caister was sitting at a table, writing. Apparently
he was clearing up arrears of correspondence; but he
pushed his papers aside and took a long breath of what
soimded like, relief when he perceived who his visitor
"I'm glad you've come," he said, "I was going
268 ROSE O' THE SEA
over to you* place in a f e'v^ nrinutes. We 're shutting
"Rose and Mrs. Clarges have gone away together.
Denis is married — to Vivienne Raymond. He gave
me that interesting piece of information late last
night," he added cjmically.
His tone and his news dried Maggy up.
"Would you mind filling in the gaps?" she asked
after a pause. "Don't if it hurts you, though. You look
absolutely knocked up. I don't wonder!"
" It all seems more or less like a nightmare. I have n't
got used to the situation yet. You know Denis was
away for nearly a week? Well, it transpires he was
gambling; got deeper than ever into debt and finished
up by marrying this — person. Don't ask me for his
reasons. Probably he is not responsible for his actions.
At any rate, when he returned he confessed about his
money troubles to Rose, though he had not the cour-
age to own up to his marriage. Rose, it appears, had a
valuable pearl necklace, which she tried to sell in order
to help Denis out of his difficulties. The jeweller to
whom she sent it came down here in her absence and
informed me of the proposed transaction. It is a curious
thing that Rose had never previously mentioned the
necklace — "
"But she did," Maggy interrupted. "I remember
now. When I was helping her to pack the things you
bought for her in London she said something about
wishing to pay for them, and told me she had a neck-
lace she could sell. I did n't take much notice. I dare
say I thought it might be worth a pound or so, and I
told her not to dream of selling anything. I 'm perfectly
ROSE O' THE SEA 269
certain she never meant to make a secret of it. That 's
not like her. I suppose you were angry with her for
trying to help Denis?"
"I dare say I was. She got rather upset and threw
the pearls out of the window. They were found this
morning, and I ' ve returned them to her through her
"Solicitors? What should a child like Rose have to
do with solicitors?"
"It's the other way about. In last week's papers
there was a solicitor's advertisement asking for in-
formation about her. Did you not see it? "
"I never read the papers. Chalfont tells me anything
I ought to know. Go on."
"I went straight up to town to the solicitors. It
appears that the person who adopted Rose was an
eccentric but wealthy American. She is an heiress in
quite a considerable way. On my return I gave her
this news at once. The fact that Denis had already
availed himself of her generosity convinced me that
he would make a similar use of her fortune. There are
limits to the sacrifices even Rose should be allowed to
make. I told her so."
"You mean you told her you didn't want her
money? . . . Well . . . !" The exclamation itself spoke
volumes, but Maggy added: "I did n't think it of you,
Bob! The poor child! What did she do?"
Caister made a hopeless gesture.
"She was angry with me. She resented what I said.
God knows I didn't mean to offend her. Unfortu-
nately, I did. I might have avoided doing so had I
known about Denis. That is all there is to explain.
I understand Mrs. Clarges will continue to look after
^^o ROSE O' THE SEA
her. And, as far as I am concerned, I have finished
Maggy looked deeply distressed.
"I'm sorry about Denis — for his sake and yours,"
she said. "But how could you let Rose go, Bob? Oh,
why did you? Why did n't you keep her — for your-
self? You, who love her!"
Caister's hand went up to his face, hiding it from
"Yes, I love her; but I don't love her money," he
" Then why did n't you tell her so? She 'd have given
it all to a home for babies or to a hospital, and come
to you empty-handed, if you'd only asked herl"
"I should n't choose to beggar my wife."
Maggy shook her head sadly.
"Why won't you understand? " she fretted. "A girl,
a woman, will beggar herself twice over for love. It 's
no particular virtue. In fact, it's natural for her to be-
have like that. You asked the sacrifice of herself — for
Denis! She was ready to make it for you. She would
have made it. Was n't your love big enough to ask her
to sacrifice her money and give you only herself? That
is, if you were not big-minded enough to take both."
He dissented with a shake of the head.
"You only see the woman's point of view. Besides,
being a man, I'm old-fashioned — sti£f-necked, if you
like. I draw the line at letting the world say that a
Caister had married to restore his fallen fortimes."
"The world! What does the world's opinion matter
against love? I almost hate your beastly pride. Bob.
It's a terrible thing to let pride play havoc with two
lives. I shall go and find Rose. I shall send her to you."
ROSE O' THE SEA 271
She jumped up, full of resolution..
"She won't come," he said.
"You don't deserve that she should," she retorted.
" I could cry for the mess and the muddle you Ve made
but that I'm convinced of one thing. Your pride won't
hold out; or if it does something else will happen. I'm
svie of it. There 's a purpose in everything. Rose was n't
meant to many Denis. And sooner or later — in God's
good time — somehow or other you two will come to-
gether again. It's just got to come. . . ."
It was always her way to see the silver lining of the
darkest cloud, the bright streak through the warp and
woof of life. Her optimism had never failed her yet, nor
her splendid humanity.
"I must go and see my baby bathed now,*' she said.
"I'm angry with you. Bob, but I'm sorry as well.
You're all alone. I've known what that is, too." She
twisted the heavy gold wedding-ring — the only ring
she wore — rotmd her finger. It symbolised everything
she held most precious in life, something she had once
"Once Chalfont loved his pride more than he loved
me," she said, very softly. "I — transgressed against
it. I was n't altogether to blame. I simply lost my head
and kept silence about a thing I should have been wisei
to blurt out. It's an old story. ^ And when I did con-
fess to Chalfont it was too late. He was too proud even
to listen. But when he 'd lost me he realised — as I did
— that love is the one thing in the world that kills
pride. ... He came to find me then. Yes, he sought
me out." Her voice had grown very tender.
^ See Love Maggy, by the Countess Baicynska.
272 ROSE O' THE SEA
'*0h, I came running to meet him halfway — you
may be sure. There isn't a true woman who isn't
ready to do that. You might remember what I 'm say-
She held his hand for a moment or two, pressed it and
Silence, the air of emptiness and gloom, settled
down upon the house once more when the big, nail-
studded oak door of the hall had closed upon her. It
seemed quieter than ever in the old house — a quiet-
ness now permeated by a desolation that penetrated
like intense cold. . . . Caister drew his papers towards
him again. Yes, it was very lonely. . . .
Over him there came the baulked feeling that at any
moment he might hear Rose's bright laugh, a snatch of
song, her footsteps. . . that the door, might open,
showing her standing there, smiling, smiling his heart
away. . . .
Gloom and silence in the house. And he — himself
— had shut the door on her . . . shut her out.
Miss Vivienne Raymond, in private life now the
Honourable Mrs. Mallory, was ostensibly engaged in
the domestic occupation of dusting her drawing-room
when Rose called on her about a week later.
Vivienne, that is to say, delicately manoeuvred a
fanciful atom of a duster that would equally well have
answered the purpose of a doily for dessert use, and
imagined herself to be doing useful and strenuous work.
Her small person was enveloped in a silk overall, her
curly mop becomingly swathed in the latest thing in
Had Rose arrived ten minutes earlier she would
also have encountered the photographer of the "Sim-
day Flashlight" and witnessed a variety of poses by
Vivienne to be reproduced pictorially in that illustrated
journal imder the heading of "Actresses at Home."
Vivienne had enjoyed the make-believe tremendously.
One of the photographs had been taken in her bed-
room to fit descriptive letterpress that would run
"Actress as her own Bedmaker." Another would show
her busy at a gas cooking-range, her knowledge of
which was confined to a capacity for turning on the
wrong taps; in a third she would be seen cuddling her
himdred-guinea Pekinese (a "property" stuffed dog
brought for the purpose); and in a fourth and final
one her tame kingfisher picked from a hat) would be
shown perched confidingly on her little finger.
Denis, who had been rather afraid ^e might decide
to pose with her arm around his neck for a "And-I-
274 ROSE a THE SEA
simply-adore-my-hiisband!" portrait, had made him-
self scarce under the plea of an engagement with his
So when Rose arrived, Vivienne, still with the
''fancy" duster in her hand, was meditating whether
she mi^t not essay a little of the real thing. There
really was a fine layer of dust on top of the piano which
her maid had overlooked. She began flicking at it with
the circumspection of a fly-fisher, rather glad that a
visitor should discover her engaged in so laudable a
pursuit. The surname annoimced by the maid told her
nothing. She had never even asked Denis his fiancee's
name. So now she looked Rose up and down with ex-
She came to the conclusion that her visitor was quite
pretty enough to be an actress, although from her
generally quiet appearance she judged that, at any
rate, she was not in musical comedy. Then it occurred
to her that she might be some young society lady,
perhaps a friend of Denis's. This being the most likely
assumption, she prepared to be friendly in a guarded
"I don't think weVe met before," she said, "but
I expect you know Denis — my husband. He'll be
"I was engaged to Denis," said Rose quietly.
The look that Vivienne gave her can be better
imagined than described. A slangy expression escaped
her; enmity sprang into her eyes. She assmned, not
unnaturally perhaps, that the girl had come to have
"Well, we really are married," she repKed defen-
sively. " There 's my ring." She flashed a bejewelled left
ROSE O' THE SEA 275
hand before Rose on which somewhere amidst the glit-
ter a wedding-ring no doubt lurked. " I 'm afraid I can't
give him back to you, if that 's what you Ve come for."
"But I haven't," responded Rose equably. "I've
come to say that I hope you 'U both be happy, and to
ask you to accept a little present."
She held out an envelope.
In hesitation Vivienne took it. She opened it sus-
piciously and extracted two cheques. One was made
payable to Denis, the other to herself. The figures
danced before her incredulous eyes. She gazed stupidly
from the cheques tb Rose.
"Lord love us!" she exclaimed. "What are you
plajdng at? Are they stumers? "
It was Rose's turn to look blank.
"They're cheques," she murmured. "I have a lot
of money to spare."
Vivienne's slanting eyes grew almost round.
"Denis never told me you were rich," she said.
"I was n't imtil the other day." Rose's voice was
weary. Her wealth seemed to weigh her down.
Vivienne placed the cheques on the crowded mantel-
"Well, upon my word, you must be some brick!"
she declared. "You don't hate me, then?"
"Why should I? I like Denis, so I wish to be friends
"I'm not much of a person to be friends with," ad-
mitted Vivienne frankly. "You've everything to lose
and nothing to gain by it, my dear. I've started by
walking oflE with your fianc6. That ought to tell you
the sort of girl I am."
"If you love Denis I'm glad you've got him,"
276 ROSE O' THE SEA
Vivienne looked more surprised than ever. In all
her varied experience she had never come across any
one at all like Rose.
"Well, I do love him," she insisted almost fiercely.
"He's my boy. I wanted him awfully badly."
"Then you'll want to do everything you can for
This struck Vivienne as a new way of looking at
"How so?" she queried.
"His happiness, I mean. And his health."
"His health is rotten, I know. I don't want to see it
go to pieces, although I expect Lord Caister thinks I
don't care tuppence. He's wrong there. But what can
It seemed strange that she should talk thus con-
fidentially and ask Rose's opinion; nevertheless, she
was moved to do so.
"Since we've been married I've altered a bit," she
went on. "A year ago, when I first met him, I would n't
have crossed the road to help him out of trouble if the
street had happened to be muddy. Now I'd do any-y
thing and everything to keep him fit and well. But if I
threw up my work we should be in the cart. If I went
to live in the country with him he 'd get as sick of me as
he probably did of Purton, and a jolly sight sooner.
I 've not the slightest desire to be reconciled — sounds
highfalutin, does n't it? — to old Caister or to take his
blessed money if he 'd give it. Now we 'remarried, Denis
simply wants to drown dull care. He's a thousand
times giddier than I am. He has no idea of home-life ! "
The word fell incongruously from her pretty, painted
lips. Rose felt unaccoixntably sorry for her.
ROSE O' THE SEA 277
"I think you should keep on with your work," she
advised. "The best thing you can do is to make him
ride every day in the Park. It's good for him. He loves
" Yes, he said something the other day about getting
a hack." Vivieni^e looked at Rose a little wistfully.
" Perhaps if you 'U come and see us sometimes it will do
him good. Will you? "
Rose promised that she would.
"Are you living in town?" was Viviennes next
Rose told her that she and her chaperon had taken
"I expect you'll marry before very long," proph-
esied Vivienne. " Some nice boy, I hope. I don't believe
you'd have been happy with Denis. If you had a lot of
money he'd soon run through it. D ' you mind me giv-
ing you a bit of advice? Well, look after it. I have to
work for mine, so I know. Money doesn't last forever ! "
"Mine will," said Rose a little mournfully. "I shall
never be able to spend it all."
" There '11 be plenty of people falling over themselves
to help you to. And if you 're as generous to all of them
as you've been to me and Denny, my dear, you'll find
yourself cleaned out some day, sure as eggs is eggs!
Let's have some tea. Denis won't be long."
Rose stayed to tea, but Denis did not put in an
appearance until some time after she had gone.
"Hulloa," he remarked, glancing at the teacups;
"had a visitor?"
Vivienne shook her curls at him excitedly.
"And stich a, visitor 1 Who do you think? . . . Miss
278 ROSE O* THE SEA
"No! ... I hope you were nice to her."
"I most certainly was. She brought us a wedding
present. Two, in fact. Five thousand pounds for you
and two thousand for me. Look here! Did you everf^'
"But we can't take it," deprecated Denis, red in the
"It does seem too much. But she'll be annoyed if we
don't. Denny, I like that kid. Not on account of her
money. I mean for herself."
"Yes, she's all white," he murmured.
Vivienne looked into the gas-fire — an imitation log
fire whose colourless flames were conducive to reflec-
"You ought to have married her," she mused. "Will
you forgive me, Denny, for upsetting your apple-cart? "
Denis fidgeted uncomfortably in his chair.
" That 's all right," he mumbled. " Of course I meant
to run straight and stick to her, only in a weak moment
I simply had to come and see if London was still in its
old place, and — well, you were there too."
Vivienne picked up her duster and flicked about
aimlessly with it to cover her feelings. Suddenly she
" I 've never minded a row of pins about being every
sort of sinner," she remarked vehemently. "I've been
kind of proud of my make-haste nature and my 'cute-
ness. But that girl — that girl made me ashamedy
Denny!" She blinked an atom of moisture out of her
eyes. "Don't laugh at me. Oh, let me — dustl'*
The magnificence of Rose's flat in Green Street, May-
fair, rather astonished Maggy when she saw it. The
taste that had been employed in furnishing it was irre-
proachable, but the expense, as she at once realised,
must have been colossal. It was a large and new flat
in the most highly rented quarter of fashionable Lon-
don, Its appointments were superb. Maggy correctly
computed the value of the pictures and tapestry alone
at thousands of poimds. She knew very well that Rose
would not have surrounded herself with such splen-
dour; her tastes were not ostentatious. The deduction
that it was not she but a second person who had thus
spent money like water was easily formed. That second
person could only be Mrs. Clarges. As Maggy's eyes
roved round the superb drawing-room into which she
had been shown, she asked herself what the widow's
motive could be for such extravagance.
Then Rose came in and kissed her rapturously, over-
joyed to see her.
"Oh, I am glad youVe come, Maggy!" she cried.
"I get so lonely in London. How's Baby?"
"Baby 's splendid. We're down at Purton still, you
know. I 've just run up to see you. Lord Caister 's in
town. Have you seen him? '*
All the pleasure faded out of Rose 's face.
"No," she said dejectedly. "Is — is he quite well?"
"I think so. But horribly lonely, I expect. ... He
has not even got Denis now."
"He ought to forgive Denis," said Rose quickly.
28o ROSE O' THE SEA
"I don^t think he will. . . . Why did you leave Pur-
ton without coming to say good-bye?"
"I wanted to go at once. Mrs. Clarges thought it
would be best."
"Mrs. Clarges! Do you alwajrs do what she wants?"
"Generally. She's very pleasant."
"H'm, I dare say. She has a lot to feel pleasant
about just now, I don't doubt. Are you fond of her?"
"Not exactly fond," was the reply, made with a
little hesitation. "We seem to have settled down to-
gether, that's all. She orders everything. I'm too in-
"She chose all this?" Maggy's glance included the
"Oh, yes, everjrthing. It was very expensive."
Maggy could well believe that.
"Still, she took all the trouble," Rose said in a tone
of extenuation. "I only had to sign the cheques."
"Made payable to the different firms, of course."
"No; to Mrs. Clarges."
"Ohl" said Maggy. After a brief pause she asked,
"Is she out?"
"Yes, she's gone to Reville's."
Maggy drew more conclusions.
Rose invited her to make a tour of the flat. It bore
those concl)isions out in quite a remarkable degree.
Everything in its nine large rooms was on the same
magnificent scale. Only one of the bedrooms was in-
expensively furnished, aad that belonged to Rose her-
self. In the last one to be inspected, Maggy's kejen eyes
detected^a silver-framed shaving-glass on a stand in
"Who sleeps here?" she enquired.
ROSE O' THE SEA 281
" Nobody. But Mrs. Clarges hoped her son would live
with us. I don't think he's coming after all, though."
" WeU . . • he 's rather simple in his tastes. He thinks
this too grand. . . • That's where he and Mrs. Clarges
don't always agree."
"He's a cinema actor, is n't he?"
"Do you like him?"
Rose thought the question over.
"He's very nice. Yes, I do like him," she said.
They went back to the drawing-room. Maggy settled
herself in a regal-looking gUt armchair that might have
belonged to the Rot Soleil.
"I'm going to be awfully familiar with you, my
dear," she said. "I want to hear all about this fortune
of yours. Do you mind telling me how much it is, and
what you're spending?"
"Not a bit. But it's so iminteresting. Spending
money doesn't give me an atom of pleasure. And I
don't imderstand figures."
Again Maggy's eyes surveyed the grandeur around
"But you must have got through an immense smn,"
"Only the capital that's been accxunulating. That's
the right word, isn't it? There's my income, you
know. I have n't spent any of it yet. It comes from the
Okenega oil-field, somewhere in Pennsylvania. Or
rather it will come next January. It 's only paid twice
a year. There was so much lying at the baiik. But I'm
getting through it."
She spoke hopefully, as though her wealth were a
282 ROSE O' THE SEA
burden to her (as indeed it was) to be got through as a
duty. It had not brought her a moment's happiness.
"I'll show you my cheque-book," she said readily,
and went to a valuable Boule cabinet and opened one
of its drawers.
Maggy's eyes dilated when she scanned the counter-
foils. The very first one was for over four thousand
poimds. It was drawn in favour of Mrs. Clarges and
docketed "for furniture." The second was also to
Mrs. Clarges "for pictures, etc." — another three
thousand. Then came large cheques to the Reverend
Ambrose Bree "for church"; Mrs. Clarges, five thou-
sand pounds "for investment." There were the
cheques to Denis and Vivienne ; a five-hundred-pound
present to Mrs. Clarges; a still bigger one marked
"odds and ends," also to Mrs. Clarges. There was a
stupendous payment to Tredgold & Evans (who must
have been three parts Welsh to one part Cornish);
another for the flat, "rent for three years"; wedding-
presents running into hundreds to Mr. Louie and Miss
Hobbs; one thousand two himdred poimds (to Mrs.
Clarges) for a Daimler; five hundred (to Mrs. Clarges)
for "petty cash." Here there was an ebb in the precious
stream. A solitary little cheque for ten poimds had
been drawn in favour of "Self" for a "necklet"! But
an overflow followed it. Four payments in succession
were to Mrs. Clarges: the first for over eight thousand
pounds "for mining shares," the others expressed that
generous-hearted lady's charitable instincts when paid
for by another person.
At a rough computation Maggy put the total at
over forty thousand pounds. Her eyes were humid by
the time she had turned the last counterfoil.
ROSE O' THE SEA 283
Self — ten pounds ! Ten pounds out of a large fortune
on herself. How like Rose!
"Mrs. Clarges seems to be a lady of expensive
tastes," was her only spoken comment. "You seem to
have given her carte blanche. Is that wise? She 's not a
very old friend, is she? "
"She was so kind and motherly to me at Purton,"
Rose protested. "And, as she says, there is n't any
use in hoarding money. It's there to be spent."
"Who advised you about the mining shares?"
"Oh, she did. She understands all that."
These pitifully naive admissions were being made
when Mrs. Clarges returned. The look of annoyance
that flickered over her face at seeing Maggy there was
barely perceptible. No one could wear a mask better
than Mrs. Clarges.
"How nice of you to come and see us in our little
home!" she smiled. "Are you staying the night? Do!
We can put you up, can't we, Rose? "
"I can't stay, thanks," said Maggy. "I only ran up
to town for a chat with Rose. I 've been cautioning her
to look after her money a little."
She looked at Mrs. Clarges a trifle longer than that
lady found quite comfortable.
"Rose is learning how to write cheques," she said
with a rather forced smile.
"She seems to be having a good deal of practice.
I think we shall have to find a business man to advise
her, Mrs. Clarges."
There was admonition behind the words. Mrs.
Clarges was conscious of it, as Maggy meant her
She remained in a state of wrathful but silent
284 ROSE O' THE SEA
impotence until Maggy took her departure. Then with
forced calmness she said :
''Lady Chalfont seems to be rather an inquisitive
person. I think I saw her giving you back your cheque-
book as I came in. Were you showing it to her? It 's
rather an imwise thing to do, my child. Cheque-books
are private and should be kept under lock and key.
You don't want everybody to know your affairs."
"Maggy isn't everybody," Rose answered with a
slight lift of the eyebrows. "She's my best friend."
Mrs. Clarges contrived her most charming smile.
"Of course. Don't think I meant to be uncharitable.
Only I thought she seemed to imply that I was spend-
ing your money. Naturally, one is sensitive. If you will
remember, Rose, it was you yourself who suggested
this arrangement of our living together."
She seemed genuinely distressed, and Rose, who
would not willingly have hurt the feelings of a fly, set
about reassuring her.
"I know I did," she said. "And it's a very nice
arrangement. I should have been lost without you to
help me all these weeks."
Mrs. Clarges allowed^herself to be placated. She had
spent a most pleasant afternoon at Reville's, choosing
a present from Rose in the shape of the very best and
most expensive fur coat they could supply her with.
Eveleigh also was coming to dine with them that ni^t,
and although he was imconsdonably slow in adapting
himself to his mother's plans, she felt fairly convinced
that he would eventually propose to Rose. If he did n't,
she would for him. So far, it was true, he had flatly re-
fused to help her exploit the heiress, but in spite of this
she was satisfied that the young couple were becoming
ROSE O' THE SEA 285
very friendly. Rose showed herself so interested in
Eveleigh's work, and he, actor-like, was never tired of
discoursing upon it. Indeed, there was not very much
about the technicalities of film work with which Rose
was now unconversant. Very often Eveleigh practised
his parts with her, she for the moment representing his
leading lady. He found himself constantiy wishing she
was in his dramatic company, instead of only a play-
fellow in her own flat. Had he been a manager, he
would have made her an offer at once.
To-night after dinner Mrs. Clarges w?4,tched the pair
with serene satisfaction. They were trying one of
Eveleigh's perpetual romantic love-scenes. Rose was
prettily girlish, all that the part required. Eveleigh's
acting was so intense that Mrs. Clarges almost be-
lieved he was making love in reality. She had always
encouraged these rehearsals, hoping and thinking that
Eveleigh, being human after all, would sooner or later
awaken to the passion that Rose ought to inspire in
By her side on the sofa lay the evening paper which
he had brought in before dinner. She picked it up,
scanning it lazily while she sipped her coffee.
Then, quite suddenly, her eyes became glued to a
paragraph. A panicky exclamation scaped her. Her
hand clutched the paper spasmodically.
FAILURE OF THE OKENEGA OIL-FIELD i
Famous Sprinq Runs Dry
Panic in Wall Street
There was half a colmim about the disaster, its
causes and its fateful effects. The cessation of the
wealth-bearing stream was complete* The source of
286 ROSE O' THE SEA
supply had entirely given out with the startling sud-
denness to which mineral oil springs are prone. The
shares had collapsed and were imsaleable; the finances
of other wells in the district, threatened with a similar
fate, had also dropped heavily. The authenticity of the
cablegram was undoubted. It was signed " Renter."
She called to Rose in a voice harsh with fear and
suspense, pointing to the paragraph with a shaking
Rose read it without emotion.
"You must go and see Mr. Andrews first thing in
the morning," Mrs. Clarges insisted. "Do you realise
what this means? . . . Don't you care? . . . Why don't
you say something?"
Rose's eyes seemed to be looking over and beyond
and through Mrs. Clarges. She was thinking of the
last night she had spent at Purton and how earnestly
she had prayed that the wealth she did not want might
somehow be taken from her. . . .
"I do care," she said in a rapt voice. "I care very
much. But not in the way you think. I never wanted
the money. I'm glad it has gone. I would give any-
thing to be poor again."
Mrs. Clarges trembled with rage.
"/ think your words are downright wicked!" she
cried. "You tempt Providence with them. You may
not want the money" — in her emotion and fear,
breeding and restraint went by the board; she showed
the woman without the mask, selfish and despicable
to the core — "but what about me?" she finished
almost in a scream.
EvELEiGH Clarges did not realise the woeful state of
Rose's affairs. His mother's explosion of temper told
him next to nothmg of the truth. Being used to her
outbreaks he discoimted this one and the reason for it.
And Rose's own coohiess in response had misled him.
So he allowed the best part of a week to go by before
he paid another visit to the flat.
He found his mother alone in the drawing-room,
sitting at the open Boule escritoire with two cheque-
books (her own and Rose's) and a mass of papers
before her. She was deep in calculations. Her habitual
placidity had vanished. She looked feverishly rapa-
cious. Eveleigh wondered whether she and Rose had
had a difference of opinion.
"Where's Miss Eton?" he enquired.
"Gone," she snapped.
Eveleigh received the impression that something
was really wrong.
" (jone? How do you mean? " he asked.
"Gone for good."
"But, good Lord, where? When? Why?"
"Why? Because she hasn't got a penny to bless
herself with. When? The day before yesterday. Where?
To some place in King's Cross. Lodgings, I suppose.
What are you so surprised about? You were here the
night the news came."
"Not a penny to bless herself with?" he repeated
incredulously. "You're not serious."
288 ROSE O' THE SEA
Mrs. Claxges emitted what is generally called a hol-
"Perfectly serious. I'm bereaved of my golden
goose. It 's been killed. And all I Ve got out of it are a
few paltry thou — himdreds. I feel I Ve been the vic-
tim of a conspiracy. I never knew oil dried up. I
thought it went on for ever and ever. I thought it was
as safe as consols. The news in the paper you brought
in that night has turned out to be the literal truth."
"But what is the truth?" he queried, nonplussed.
"You know perfectly well what I'm talking about!
Rose's fortime. It has completely vanished. The
Okenega oil-field is absolutely finished, run dry, or
whatever they call it. There's not a penny to come,
and all the shareholders — all the ones who put their
eggs in one basket, that is — are ruined."
This was plain enough at last.
"What an awful thing!" he murmured. "She must
be terribly distressed." "
" She is n't. It has n't distressed anybody but me.
I'm the only sufferer. Rose is positively relieved. She
seems to have no sense of her obligations. I reminded
her when she came back after seeing her solicitors that
we should have to meet the expenses of this flat and
that she owes me a certain amoimt of salary. We never
fijced a definite remuneration. She has n't anything left
worth talking about. She calmly told me I could do
what I liked with the flat and the furniture. Of course
I shall sell the furniture. I had to put it to her that
even with the money for the furniture I couldn't
afiord to support her indefinitely. She merely said she
was n't going to stay a day longer. It was rather like
getting rid of a servant in a hurry. I was positively re-
ROSE O' THE SEA 289
Keved when her boxes were out of the house. After all,
it's a mercy you never proposed to her. You might
have had trouble in getting out of it."
"Assuming I had proposed, I shouldn't have tried
to get out of it," he said tartly. " I should have married
Her all the sooner if she would have had me. And I 'd
ask her now if it would be any help to her and I stood
an atom of chance. Upon my soul, mother, I don't
imderstand you ! You mean to tell me you 've turned
her out, and yet all the while she had money you were
glad enough to live on her bounty."
"Bounty! I suppose you got that pedantic word
out of a cinema headline! I was her chaperon and
worth a good deal more to her than I got. Living here
ran me into no end of expense — or would have," she
corrected herself plausibly. "And I shall look such a
fool, too, having to sell this furniture so soon after it
"But it's not yours to sell!" he protested in amaze-
ment. "Please don't think I'm accusing you of doing
anything wrong intentionally, But I've never under-
stood on just what terms you have been living here
with Miss Eton, or just how much of her money you
were justified in spending. Mother, I 'm afraid things
are pretty mixed up, and if I were you, I'd get out of
here quietly, and the last thing I'd do would be to
seize her furniture as though you were a broker's man.
I 'U be glad to see you through with this affair ! I thought
you had more sense of honesty, not to say dignity!"
Never before hadJEveleigh sto6d up to his mother
like this. Until now, although fully aware of her
weaknesses, he had loved and respected her. She was
290 ROSE O' THE SEA
putting his respect, if not his love, to a test that it
would hardly stand.
That Mrs. Clarges was worried by her son's blunt
speech could be guessed by her quickened breathing
and the nervous twitching of her hands, but she an-
swered sharply, "The best thing you can do is to mind
your own business, Eveleigh."
The discussion was temporarily suspended by the
maid annoimdng two visitors — Vivienne and Denis.
Vivienne was rehearsing, so her evenings were free.
To enliven Denis by bringing him into the wholesome
society of Rose was her object. For his spirits just now
were as indifferent as his health.
"Oh, Mrs. Clarges," she began, " where 's Rose?
We want to borrow her for the evening."
So Mrs. Clarges had to tell the story over again, but
with more restraint than she had thought necessary
with her son.
Vivienne was genuinely disturbed. Mrs. Clarges's
attitude puzzled her.
"But is n't this her flat?" she asked. "I can't imder-
stand why she 's cleared out. Can you, Denny? "
All she got from him was a blank look. Eveleigh
said nothing at all. He left his mother to vindicate
"I was just explaining the situation to my son when
you arrived," she put in. "Rose could not have stayed
on more than a few days in any case. But with her
money all gone the furniture must be disposed of and
the flat put into the agent's hands."
" She had a valuable necklace," Eveleigh recollected.
"She could sell that."
"I suggested her doing so. But she would n't. She
ROSE O' THE SEA 291
had some foolish fancy for keeping it. I can assure you,
Mrs. Mallory, she is absolutely a pauper. Of course
through this my own plans are in a hopeless muddle."
She sighed lugubriously, but without eliciting any
sign of sjmapathy from Vivienne. She gave Mrs. Clarges
a swift look.
"I should think your plans could jolly well afford to
wait," she remarked. " I bet you Ve helped to fleece her.
Come on, Denny. There's nothing to stay here for."
Mrs. Clarges rose, greatly affronted. Vivienne, how-
ever, thinking only of Rose, was quite indifferent to
her feelings, real or assumed.
"What's her address?" she demanded.
"Really! I don't feel inclined to give it to you," was
the huffy response.
" I think you 'd better. I 'm a funny person to rub up
the wrong way. Vulgar, you know."
Mrs. Clarges believed her. It made her reconsider
her refusal. Grudgingly she imparted the address.
Denis wrote it down and the two departed.
" 109, Sidey Street, King's Cross Road," said Vivi-
enne to the driver of their taxi.
She only made one remark while they were in it.
"Pity we've not got a penny left of what she gave
us. We could have given her a leg-up."
"She wouldn't have let us," said Denis. "It's
beastly luck, but I don't suppose it's upsetting Rose
very much. In all my life I never knew anybody so
indifferent about money. What are you going to say
"Well, I think she might come and put up at our
The suggestion surprised him. He would never have
292 ROSE O' THE SEA
attributed anything so altruistic to his ultra-worldly
"It would be the decent thing to do," he admitted.
Vivienne laughed a little sharply.
" Sort of conduct you would n't expect from yours
truly, eh? Well, you see, I like that girl — no end.
Here we are. My eye, what a hole!"
They foimd Rose writing letters by the light of a
candle. She was answering advertisements for employ-
ment. It had occurred to her to go back to Gardner's
— she knew she could always do that — but somehow
she felt it would not be the same. Miss Hobbs, now Mrs.
Louie, was no longer there. Mr. Louie, though still her
friend, had somehow imdergone a change. No, she
would rather essay fresh if less congenial wprk. She
had gained experience at Gardner's and could coimt
on a good reference. The future intimidated her not
at all. She was glad to be at grips with it and to
have something to occupy her mind, the prospect of
something to do to keep her from thinking There
was only one thing she missed: her happy associa-
tion with Denis's father, and that had gone with her
She had fired up at him, it is true. She had left him
with spirit, but she loved him. He was still and ever
would be her ideal knight. Not a day passed but that
she prayed for him : prayed that he might not be too
lonely, that somehow, one day, he might yet be very
happy. It never occurred to her to pray that he might
find that happiness througbJierself . Her love was far
She was glad to see Vivienne and Denis. She thought
it very kind of them to trouble about her. Vivienne,
ROSE O' THE SEA 293
most undemonstrative of women towards her own sex,
actually kissed her.
"We've come roimd to fetch you," she said. "You
can't stay here, my dear. It's a blessed garret. The
Cinderella stimt isn't picturesque in real life. Be-
sides, we want you; don't we, Denny?"
Denis assented heartily, though he had certain
secret doubts as to how long Vivienne's hospitable
mood would last. Even the best-disposed leopard
cannot change its spots, however zealous its efforts, and
Vivienne, despite some unexpectedly good qualities,
was of the feline type.
"We can put the maid into the boot-cupboard and
refurnish her room with things out of Denny's dressing-
room," she went on. " It really is the lightest and airiest
place in the flat. It will knock spots out of this, any-
way. How soon can you come? "
It took Rose some time to convince her that, grate-
ful as she was for the proffered kindness, she could not
accept it. Vivienne was greatly disappointed. When
she left, it was with a strange sensation of regret at
being unable to accomplish a good action, for once
charitably designed and conscientiously desired.
When they were again in their flat her feelings
brimmed over. Denis was partly the cause. The first
thing he did was to help himself lavishly from the
decanter on the sideboard.
Vivienne went up to him, took the glass from his
hand and emptied its contents into a fern-pot.
"I'mnot going to stand by and see you kill yourself,"
she declared. "That would have made the fifth since
dinner. If that 's the effect I have on you it 's a pity we
ever met. But I dare say you're always thinking so!"
294 ROSE O' THE SEA
Denis laughed feebly. His temper was too easy for
complaint about the loss of hers. Moreover, he could
always help himself later on. He flung himself into a
chair and invited her to play something.
She looked about her in an undecided way. The
whole flat somehow had got on her nerves — its
bizarre colours, its fidgety furnishings and embel-
lishments. She became suddenly alive to its defects,
the bad taste of it; to the defects and bad taste in
"I wish my hair was dark and silky like Rose's," she
jerked out, "instead of this beastly imitation red. I
wish my eyes had the light of a soul behind them, in-
stead of the *glad' look IVe practised for years. I
wish I did n't paint my face. I wish I was different I Oh,
come oflE it, Viv!" she adjured herself. "You're going
She flimg oflf her evening cloak, sat herself down at
the piano and crashed out the latest jazz tune with the
loud pedal down.
Mrs. Bell threw open the door of Rose's room obse-
quiously to Eveleigh Clarges.
"Miss Eton won't be long now, I'm sure, sir," she
purred. She looked at the tall young man with admira-
tion mingled with curiosity.
"If you'll excuse me being so bold, I don't know
whether it's 'his lordship' or plain * Mister' when I
tell Miss Eton there's a gentleman waiting."
"Just say Mr. Clarges."
She favoured him with a longer look.
"There now, I knew I'd seen your face! Every
Saturday night these last five weeks it's been before
my eyes at the Westover Electric. Are n't you the Mr.
Eveleigh Clarges, starrin' in *The Perfect Lover' serial
film? I'll be bound you are!"
Eveleigh admitted the soft impeachment. Mrs. Bell
was as excited as though she had penetrated a royal
" I 'm sure I 'm that pleased to meet you in the flesh,
sir," she said in an awed tone which seemed to imply
that she had long been famiUar with him in the spirit.
"If you'll pardon me sayin' so, common and 'lunble as
I am, sir, you are a hartist. Why, when you take a
young lady in your arms or rescue 'er from the villain,
there is n't a woman in the audience, married or single,
as would n't change places with 'er. The way you does
it all is something wonderful! When we get 'ome 'us-
bands seem to 'ave no colour nor life, so to speak. As
for yoimg Muriel Goby, what used to walk out with
296 ROSE O' THE SEA
William Jifkins in the fish-and-chips line, she Ve given
'im the go-by since ' The Perfect Lover ' 's been showin'.
The 'earts you Ve broken, not to speak of thrilled, is
"I hope Miss Eton is well," said Eveleigh, when this
fulsome panegyric came to an end.
"Yes, sir, she's well enough, and not cast down
neither, which passes my comprehension. All her
money gone like a passin' dream, and she not carin' a
snap of the fingers ! Independent, too. Proud, you might
say. I don't mind tellin' you in confidence, sir, she was
boimtiful to me when she had it. But now she won't so
much as let me charge a ha'penny less on a hegg ! What
I can do for her I do by stealth, if you take my meanin*.
There 's a lot been 'appenin' what I don't understand.
Lady Chalfont would 'ave kep^ me up to date on the
subjeck of Miss Eton, but she's gone abroad and I
don't suppose she 's even heard of her losin' 'er fortune.
Ah, well, she'll have a 'ome from 'ome in my 'ouse.
I 've buried five and I 've a mother's 'eart."
Rose's entrance put a timely stop to the flow of con-
fidences. Mrs. Bell stopped only to impress on her
lodger that she had laid two cups and that there were
"three in the teapot."
Rose's friends seemed to be flocking round her,
proving their worth. Mrs. Bell had begged her not to
dream of paying her bill. Denis and Vivienne had
wanted her. Mr. and Mrs. Louie had invited her to
stay with them indefinitely. Now here was Eveleigh
Clarges. She did not doubt his friendship, but she had
hardly expected to see him.
Eveleigh was palpably embarrassed.
"I've come to apologise," he said directly they were
ROSE O' THE SEA 297
alone. "I mean on my mother's accoimt. I'm afraid
you've reason to think she has behaved very-unkindly,
to say the least of it. I can't tell you how sorry I am
that she should have been so — so inconsiderate."
Rose had already put all thoughts of her last scenes
with Mrs. Clarges out of her mind.
"Oh, please don't say anything about it," she re-
plied. " She was awfully worried, I expect. The whole
thing happened so suddenly. If she is able to sell the
furniture I expect she will feel more settled. I could n't
guess the oil was going to dry up, could I?" She
laughed. "It's rather joyous being quite poor again -
really! One finds out how many friends one has and
what a lot of really nice people there are in the world.
When I was quite poor, working for my Uving, I used
to wonder whether very rich people were happy. It
has n't taken me long to find out. You get so tired of
being able to have everything you want. It makes you
not want anything. Of course it's nice to be able to help
people, but even without money one can still do that,
I think. Anyhow, I'm quite glad to think I shall have
to work again. I'm looking for something to do now.
I can arrange flowers and make up buttonholes, and
I can milk cows and make butter. I have n't seen any
cows in London, though."
She came to an uncomfortable stop.
"I know of something you could do much better
— something more interestmg than milking cows."
An expectant look came into Rose's face.
"For a long time past," continued Eveleigh, "L've
thought that you ought to be on the stage — the
dnema stage. I wonder if you have."
"No — but I should like tol" she replied in a tone
298 ROSE O' THE SEA
between hope and doubt. "Do you mean it? Seri-
"So seriously that I've spoken to Mr. Vemer, my
manager, about you."
"What did he say?"
"He's interested. He wants to see you."
"You really think I could act?"
" I 'm sure of it — positive. Will you give it a trial? "
Rose was excited. She clapped her hands.
"Of course! But — oh, he'll never engage me!"
"I think he will. In fact, I have n't a doubt about
it." Unconsciously Eveleigh began to wax enthusias-
tic. "He has only to see you. You're everything he or
any other producer can want. You're naturally gifted,
and photographically you 're perfect, of course. Vemer
is always on the lookout for new talent. He knows
how scarce it is. Oh, he'll engage you right enough!"
"I don't suppose Mr. Verner will be as enthusiastic
as you are — or as kind," said Rose modestly. "When
do you want me to see him? "
"As soon as you like. Now, if you can. The studios
are at Chiswick. It won't take us long to get there.
Vemer's house is near by, so he's always to be foimd.
I told him I should hope to bring you to-day." He
hesitated. "Do you mind me suggesting something?
In my own affairs I 'm not much of a business man, but
if it comes to a question of salary you will do better to
let me settle it for you. I 've profited by my experience,"
he added, a shade bitterly. "You see, these big men —
men Uke Verner — never let sentiment interfere with
business. They're hard, and they're inclined to take
advantage of a beginner, especially when she's a girl.
I'll do my best for you if you'll let me."
ROSE O' THE SEA 299
Rose liked Eveleigh quite well enough to trust to
his advice, and as soon as they had had tea she put on
her hat and was ready to start. Eveleigh could not
help noticing that she did not even look in the glass.
Such complete absence of vanity was surprising. It
seemed to imply something lacking in a potential
cinema actress. He hoped she would not be nervous
when she was introduced to Verner and so show at a
But his fears were groimdless. Rose was never self-
conscious and therefore never shy.
When she came into the manager's office he was
smoking a large cigar. He hardly appeared to look
at her. For all that, his l3nix eyes photographed all
her points as faithfully as a camera and with equally
instantaneous precision. He was a showman. She
was "the goods.'' He recognised it on sight. He rapped
out a few formal questions, put her through a short
scene with Eveleigh — one of those she had often
rehearsed with him at home. Then he appeared to
consider. But not for long.
"Five pounds a week," he said shortly. "And that's
generous terms for a novice. We'll get out the contract
right away, if you like. Of course the engagement will
have to be for a term of years. Say three.'*
All this while he had been looking at Rose, addressing
her, not Eveleigh. He swung round when the latter
took it on himself to reply.
"Miss Eton will sign no contract for longer than six
months. Three months' notice on either side, and com-
mencing salary fifteen pounds a week."
"I'm acting as Miss Eton's business agent," Eve-
300 ROSE O' THE SEA
Idgh went on quietly. "You Tl prefer me to an out-
sider, Mr. Vemer. Is n't that so? "
Vemer raised his eyebrows and shifted the stump
of his cigar from one side of his mouth to the other.
This was a new aspect of his leading man — a surpris-
ing aspect. What was he barging in for? Personal
interest in the girl? Well — Vemer looked ahead —
one day, he supposed it would mean a joint engage-
ment. That would be all right, all right. He could n't
afford to quarrel with his cheap and popular star. But
there seemed to be fewer flies on Mr. Eveleigh Clarges
than he had imagined !
"Call it a deal, then," he conceded reluctantly.
"You'll play well together, you two. Now we want a
good play-bill name for you, Miss Eton. Something
to catch the eye on a poster. What's your Christian
"Rose — Rose Eton."
" Good enough," he said.
"Now, Mr. Clarges, take your friend round to the
studios and bring her back in a quarter of an hour and
I '11 have the contract ready for her signature."
He bustled into his partner's office, florid with
"I've just engaged the most wonderful-looking girl
you 've ever seen in your natural ! " he exultpd. " Yoimg
Clarges brought her along. I 'm going to fix her right
now. Pass along those contract forms. O'Shee, she's
beautiful ! She can act ! She 's unique I She 's ' Rose Eton,
Queen of the Movies,' or I'm a Dutchman 1"
Mrs. Louie, junior, folded up the needlework she had
been doing and put it away. Her eyes were full of a
gentle serenity. They told of dreams — the dreams of
one who se^ tiny garments for the child she hopes
soon to hold in her arms.
She looked across at Rose, who, with Eveleigh
Clarges, had come to spend the evening, and smiled.
"We'll just have a little talk alone," she said. "We
don't see half enough of each other nowadays. To
think, of you being a cinema star, and all! Not that
I 'm surprised. You 'd be bound to get on at anything
you did. And you're quite a wonderful actress, too.
And all in a month or two ! No one would think you'd
not been at it all your life. So finished! I suppose it's
hard work? "
"Yes, but I enjoy it," Rose replied.
Mrs. Louie continued to regard her thoughtfully.
"And yet you're not happy, I know. Perhaps be-
cause I 've got a lot of time to sit and ponder just now
I've not been able to get you out of my mind. There's
something troubling you. You're different from what
you were at Gardner's. I don't like to see that far-
away look in your eyes. Even sometimes when you're
chattering and laughing, it comes into them suddenly,
as if you'd remembered something sad. There's an
empty place in your life somewhere."
"Perhaps it's in my heart." Rose sighed ever so
302 ROSE O' THE SEA
Mrs. Louie patted her hand.
"I want you to be happy. I'm so happy myself
that it makes me feel selfish to think of any one else
who is n't. I fed I've stolen what belonged to you."
She capped Rose's sigh with one of her own, but there
was a blissful inflection in it. "If you had married my
Leonard you would have had all this."
"Oh, but he wouldn't have been happy with me
or I with him. He adores you."
This time Mrs. Louie's sigh was unreservedly rap-
"I believe he does!" she concurred. "I can't under-
stand it, but there it is. He's simply sweet to my
little invalid sister, too. He's an angel, my dear. My
life seems like a delicious dream now. There's never
been a dark moment or a cloud in it. It gets more
precious every day. And soon there'll be — four
of us! You know, married life is a very wonderful
thing. If you're careful not to spoil it, it's — fairy-
land! It need n't ever get commonplace. It may seem
so to other people, but that's because they haven't
got the magic key of love. It's love that makes all the
dull things bright and the duties all pleasures. It'^
love and the little interests of home that draw you
together closer and closer. And then, when it seems
there is n't another little bit of happiness to ask for,
you know that the most wonderful bit of all is on the
way. I mean — there's going to be a baby!"
Rose thought her friend's homely face looked posi-
"I'm so glad everything has turned out so happily
for you," she said with immense sincerity. "You used
to be lonely."
ROSE O' THE SEA 303
Mrs. Louie went on with her dream.
"I often picture her. She's to be a girl, you know.
We 're going to call her * Rose, ' after you. But of course
she won't be beautiful like you, luiless die's lucky
enough to take after her father." She smiled quaintly.
"It seems such a long time to wait. The nearer it gets,
I mean. Like waiting for a train that's behind-hand.
But I'm always thinking and talking about myself.
I want to see you happy, too. It's nice to be young and
pretty and famous as well, but it 's not enough. You 've
got to be in love, or your life's not perfect." She
jumped abruptly from the general to the particular.
"I think Mr. Clarges is such a splendid-looking young
man. We've been half hoping to hear — Leonard and
I — that you were engaged to him."
"We're both much too interested in our work," Rose
said with a shake of the head.
"But there's some one," persisted Mrs. Louie.
Rose met her kind, concerned eyes.
"There's no one . . . now."
Mrs. Louie felt there was no more to be said. But
the far-away look that had come into Rose's eyes told
her of much that might be imagined.
Eveleigh as well as Mrs. Louie had sometimes no-
ticed that look. Much recent propinquity with Rose
had wrought a change in his attitude towards her. He
would have been less than human had he not fallen
under her spell, and he often wondered why she seemed
so sad. It was not in his nature to be greatly stirred by
any woman, but she had certainly aroused the deepest
feelings he was capable of.
On their way home he spoke of those feelings —
modestly and it must be admitted rather prosaically,
304 ROSE O' THE SEA
considering he was) the " Worid's Lover," according to
every poster that billed his name.
" I felt I ought to tell you," he ended. " I Ve done my
best to put it out of my head, but I Ve not succeeded
at all well. When we 're acting together I find I really
wani to kiss you. Not make-believe. And that's a thing
that 's never happened to me before. I forget I 'm act-
ing. I — I might even do it by mistake. I 'm fairly cer-
tain it must mean that I love you. I don't quite know
what to do about it."
Rose tucked her hand into his arm, and they walked
along like that.
" Why, go on being the best of friends, as we are now,
Eveleigh," she said.
And that was her answer.
Eveleigh accepted it manfully. He was too good a
fellow and too unimpressionable as well to urge a suit
that, after all, was founded more on respect than love.
"Well, that's a lot — from you," he said. "I won't
bother any mor^. Perhaps I might have stood a better
chance with you if I knew how to make genuine love.
Unfortunately, it is n't in me. Please forget it. There's
always my work. Acting was my first love and I expect
it'll be my last."
He saw her to her door in Sidey Street.
Rose went upstairs a little sadlv. She felt horribly
lonely to-night. Back to the mean little room with its
noisy cistern and its comforUessness! It is true she
could have afforded a better home, but she was too
loyal to desert faithful if voluble Mrs. Bell.
The gas was turned off at ten o'clock every night, so
she had to grope her way up in the darkness. She found *
a candle on her washstand and lit it. Beside it there lay
ROSE O' THE SEA 305
a letter. It had been redirected by Mrs. Clarges, but
the superscription was in Lord Caister's handwriting.
Rose trembled all over as she recognised it. She
picked it up. She held it against her face, her heart.
She kissed it, once, twice. That was love. Then, un-
opened, she held it in the flame of the candle, and let it
bum. . . . And that was pride.
! CHAPTER XLV
Denis pushed aside an untasted breakfast, contenting
himself with a mouthful of tea. So poorly did he look
that Vivienne could not refrain from voicing her un-
"Do go and see your own doctor-man, Denny," she
entreated. "If you don't I'll send for him. I'm worried
about you. Really I am. My acting at night is simply
atrocious. I forget what I'm doing on the stage for
thinking about you all the time. You look as if a pujQF of
wind would blow you away. And you never have any
appetite now. Do you know, about three o'clock this
morning you gave me an awful fright. I woke up ^11 of a
sudden and touched your hand. It was frightfully cold.
I leant over you and you were n't breathing. At least,
you did n't seem to be. I thought you were dead!"
"That's rum," said Denis. "Reminds me I had a
dream last night. No wonder you thought I was dead.
I did, myself. Don't laugh."
The injunction was superfluous. She was far from
"I dreamt I'd pegged out and was waiting to face
God. I was in no end of a stew, thinking of all the
rotten things I'd done. I did n't want to be judged on
my record, and I did n't feel well enough to stand con-
demnation. Altogether, I felt as weak as if my back-
bone had been taken out. I was just a — a flabby
With her elbows on the edge of the table, Vivienne
stared across it in fearful fascination.
ROSE O' THE SEA 307
"Well, I heard my name called and I crept from
pitch-b^ck darkness into a great white light. It was
a wonderful light, not blinding or dazzling, and it sur-
rounded an — an effulgence."
His voice tailed off. Vivienne kept very still. There
was a brief silence.
"It's difficult to describe what I saw — and felt.
And then, while I was quaking, I heard a Voice, such a
blessed kind Voice. It said : * Poor old chap, better luck
"Oh, Denny, do stop!" she begged.
"One moment. I have n't told you the queerest part
of it all. 1 can't shake it off. Rose and my guv'nor came
into the dream in the oddest way. I — I can't explain
it. . . . Well, after the Voice had said that, I felt ever
so comforted, but I was still so weak that I wanted to
cry. I did- cry. I heard myself at it, just like a small
baby wailing. Then I opened my eyes and I found my-
self looking up into Rose's face. She had me in her arms,
and I really was" — he laughed ineptly — "a baby,
crpng like one, and as feeble. . . . My father was stand-
ing by Rose's side, and I knew — instinctively — that
I belonged to them both and that this was the begin-
ning of my — next innings. . . . That's all."
His voice, if not his words, had given an uncanny
meaning to the recital. It awed Vivienne. She had to
shake herself before she could speak.
"Well, forget it, do. It's the morbidest dream I've
"I'm not sure I want to forget it. It was rather
beautiful. A second innings . . . with the same people
. . . the people I've disappointed ! I should n't mind
that. And to be a kid again with a real live mother !
3o8 ROSE O' THE SEA
You know," he said pathetically, "I have no expe-
rience of that. ... I can conceive it, though."
"You seem to forget about me," she said unstead-
ily. "I'm a real live wife, and I've got feeUngs. You
need n't harrow them ! "
He moved slowly round the table and put his arm
about her shoulders.
"Poor little bean! It's rum that you should care for
me. There's nothing about me to love."
Meagre as was this touch of demonstrativeness, she
welcomed it. It revived her. She became herself again.
"Oh, ratsl You don't know what you're talking
about! Denny, do me a favour. Let's go round to your
doctor's this morning, together, and let him overhaul
"Oh, anything to oblige," he rejoined with a tired
sigh. "Only I hate being tapped all over like a ba-
rometer. All right, Viv, I'll come. Things in here" —
he touched his chest — "valves and such like have n't
been sparking as they ought, of late. Expect my
carburetor wants tickling up with a tonic."
Pretending to see the joke and to join in it, she did
her best to seem cheerful. It was an effort. Her high
spirits had deserted her lately. Marriage, in an unex-
pectedly curious degree, had brought out what was
best in her. It fretted her to see him always ailing and
yet so often displaying a forced gaiety. She had de-
veloped a passion for him the depth of which was a
constant surprise to her. It made her less egotistical.
Sometimes she was inclined to regret — for his sake —
that he had not married Rose after all. She had said
this before. She said it again now.
"Don't worry about that," he made answer. "I'm
ROSE O' THE SEA 309
a lot better off with you. I Ve known it for ever «o long.
Why, we 're settling down famously. Are n't we having
a good time together? Of course, in a way, I 'm fond of
Rose. So are you. I suppose it's a sort of esteem. But
even though she and I were engaged, I could never
picture myself married to her, don't you know. Fimnily
enough, I can much more easily imagine her my mother
than my wife. Perhaps that accoxmts for my dream.
Not that there 's anything matronly about Rose. She 's
^ kid, of course. What I mean is, if I had to choose a
mother I should want her to have Rose's character and
The singular admission brought a watery smile to
Vivienne's lips. She put her arms up to Denis and
kissed his thin face almost passionately.
"Oh, I love you, Denny!" she cried. "I've been —
I am — such a sinner that I've got a superstitious
feeling I don't deserve to keep — what I love. Silly
fimk! I'll go and get dressed. I suppose I'd better try
and look as much like a lady as I can if we 're going to
see the family physician."
Denis had not seen Sir Wilmer Brent since his mar-
riage. The last the consultant had heard of his patient
was that he had been induced to listen to reason and
was living in the coimtry. If anything could extend his
slender hold on life that would. Nearly six months had
passed since then. He was shocked to see Denis and to
note the condition he was now in.
"How's this?" he said gravely. "When I last heard
from your father you were much better. You're not
better now. What have you been doing? Where are you
"Town," was the laconic answer.
31 o ROSE O* THE SEA
"For how long?"
"Over three months. I'm married to Miss Vivienne
Raymond, the actress. She 's downstairs. Can she come
"I think not. Just get your things oflP and lie down
on that couch."
To Denis, who was accustomed to much longer ex-
aminations at Sir Wilmer's hands, this one seemed
almost cursory. He got off the couch, relieved at its
" So that 's all, is it? " he asked. " I 'm not a dead man
His tone was meant to be cheerful. But the serious
look on the specialist's face quelled levity.
"I'm quite prepared to hear the truth," he pro-
ceeded in a changed tone. "I have n't many virtues,
but I don't happen to be a funk. Have I nm the length
of my rope? "
Sir Wilmer straightened himself.
"You're in a very bad way, Denis. And I can't do
much for you." The words seemed dragged out of him.
There was a pause.
"That's all right, sir," said Denis. "Rotten job
yours, when you have to tell a fellow he 's played out.
How long have I got? "
"Six months, perhaps. At the most, I'm afraid."
It seemed a very little while. In spite of his vaunted
courage, well founded though it was, Denis felt as if
an icy hand had gripped him.
"Don't tell my father, please," he said next. "We've
differed about my marriage. It 's what he would call a
regrettable incident. Anyway, if I'm going to peg out
inside of six months, it 's my own merry secret. I look
ROSE O' THE SEA 311
on it that way. You '11 respect it, won't you, Sir Wilmer?
Sir Wilmer, as the family physician, was well aware
of Denis's many follies and some of his vices. Never-
theless he saw something in the lad to admire now. He
meant to finish gallantly enough. He took his hand.
"It was my duty to be quite frank," he said huskily.
Denis's smile — it flashed out now — was very
"That's all right, sir. I've nothing to complain of.
I'd rather have stopped a bullet in France; but one
can't have everything. I don't think I'm afraid of
death. When I think of the thousands of fine chaps out
there, all in the pink and younger than I am, who faced
it without flinching, it's no great virtue to end up
quietly in bed. Good-morning, Sir Wilmer. I must n't
keep you. There 's a crowd in the waiting-room looking
at back numbers of *Pxmch.' "
And he went to join Vivienne.
Out in the street he cocked his hat at a jaunty angle,
took her arm and, heedless of passers-by, tucked it
"What did he say, Denny? You weren't long."
Vivienne looked up mto his face anxiously.
"Oh, precious little. We were talking about the
awful price of things a good deal of the time. He says
I can just go on the same as usual. No need to bother
"Did n't he prescribe for you?"
"Not a thing. Don't need it."
"Then you must be much better. Did he say so?'*
" Something of the sort. In six months I shan't have
an ache or pain. Cheery, ain't it? "
312 ROSE O' THE SEA
She hung onto his arm.
"Oh, darling, how lovely! I'm so glad! I don't mind
telling you now. While I was waiting for you down there
I felt so shivery. I kept on asking myself what I should
do if my boy was really ill and was going to diel I felt
like screaming out!"
Denis looked down at her.
"Why, could n't you face it?" he asked in a curious
"I don't think so. I — I think I should lose my
Denis patted the hand on his arm.
"Well, keep it screwed on tight, little bean," he
said. "We're all serene-oh. Now, what do you say to
lunch. And where?*"
He raised his stick and hailed a taxi.
"In you get!" he cried merrily.
Rose was just starting for the studios one morning
when Vivienne burst into her room. Her face was Kvid.
She caught Rose's arm in a grip that hurt,
"Denny's had an accident," she jerked out. "This
morning — in the Park. His horse threw him. God!"
She burst into tearless, tearing sobs.
Rose got her into a chair.
"Is he bad?" she asked. "Try and tell me, Viv."
"Bad?" Vivienne wrung her hands like one de-
mented. "He's going to die! Think of it! In an hour or
so 1 The doctor 's there. He says there 's no hope. Denny
knows it. . . . What have I come here for? Let me
think. • . . He's asking for his father. That's it! He
wants him. I can't do anything. He won't come if /
wire. Even then it may be too late. Where is he? You
can make him come. Tell him" — the words strangled
her — "tell him Denny is dying. He would n't believe
me. Oh, make him come ! It 's the last thing Denny will
ever a^ for, and he must n't be refused!"
She swayed to and fro wildly in an access of emotion.
Rose, though startled and alarmed, kept her head.
"Listen, Vivienne," she said. "If you'll try and be
calm, I '11 do anything I can. You know that. I hope it
is n't as serious as you think — "
"It is! It is! I may be hysterical, but I'm not exag-
gerating. Sir Wilmer Brent is with him now. He told
me. Doctors don't lie. He took me by the shoulders
and told me to be brave and sensible, and other mad-
dening things, because Denny could n't last out more
V 314 ROSE O' THE SEA
than an hour or so. And time's going so fast! What
shaU I do? What shaU I do?"
Her desperation ahnost unnerved Rose. She, too,
was infected by the furious flight of time and the dire
struggle that Denis must be making with it. She was
not sure she was coherent when she replied:
" I '11 help you. I '11 do what I can. But the doctor was
right. Denis must n't see you like this. Don't let him
think you 're afraid. Help him. Promise me. It 's like
saying good-bye at a station. Think of it like that.
You must hide your feelings. There's nothing men
hate so much as a scene at a station — or when they 're
— going away. You can cry — afterwards."
That she, so young, should be advising another so
much more experienced, so much more worldly than
herself, was passing strange. Yet her effect on the dis-
traught girl was both soothing and controlling.
" Go straight back," she went on. " Go and sit with
Denis if they'll let you. I'm going to Lady Chalfont
to ask her to fetch Lord Caister. She came back from
France last night, I think."
"But that's wasting time! Why not go to him your-
"She will have much more influence than I. He and
she are old friends. I am nothing. I have n't seen him
since I left Purton. Go back and tell Denis his father
is coming. He shall come. I promise it."
Rose had grasped the urgency of the situation. She
did not mean to fail. In less than ten minutes she was
knocking at Maggy's door, but only to be told that
Lady Chalfont would not be back until the evening.
Rose was in despair. There was no one else left but
herself to tell Lord Caister the grievous news. At the
ROSE O' THE SEA 315
outset sKe would have sunk her own prejudices and
gone to him direct had she not honestly believed that
Maggy would be the better emissary.
As she was being driven to Bulkeley Place as fast as
a taxi could safely travel, she prayed involimtarily that
she might be in time to bring the father to his son's
bedside; that he would not prove obdurate. The as-
piration forcibly reminded her of that other occasion —
it seemed years ago — when she had burst in upon him
with the news that Denis was dead, as indeed she had
believed him to be. But this time would he listen to
her? The impleasant doubt that he might not would
not be silenced.
Caister happened to be crossing the hall as the door
was opened to her. At sight of her on the threshold his
heart gave a great leap. She had not answered his
letter — a letter in which he had hmnbled himself,
begged her forgiveness, and confessed his love. Could
this visit be her reply to it? There was joy in his face.
In the hall he curbed the warmth of his greeting,
but as soon as the drawing-room door had closed on
them he went up to her and took her hand.
"You got my letter?" he asked eagerly. "I was
afraid you were not going to answer it. I was afraid — "
"I have n't come about your letter," she broke in.
"I burnt it. I did n't read it. I have not come about
myself. It's — Denis."
The hopeful light died out of his face. It became hard.
"Always Denis!" he said wearily. "What is it now?
More money? Does he send you to ask for it? "
"No. He has had an accident — a bad accident,
out riding. His wife came to my lodgings just now to
tell me. He's asking for you. He's — dying I"
3i6 ROSE O' THE SEA
They were almost the identical words she had used
months ago. A false alarm. The coincidence was too
strong for him. He turned away.
Rose knew why. She caught hold of him.
"This is different!" she cried. "I'm not deceiving
you. This time it 's the terrible truth ! Sir Wilmer Brent
is there. He says Denis can only live an hour or so.
Surely that will soften your heart! Poor Denis can't
live. Won't you believe me? "
And, looking into her face, he did believe her. His
own became ashen. Denis, the prodigal, the defiant,
was one thing: Denis, his son, dying, in need of him,
For one second only he wavered.
"You are quite sure that woman is n't lying?" he
"Vivienne? Poor thing, I wish she were! For her
sake as well as his — and yours. So when we get there,
please will you remember she's his wife? She loves
Caister said no more. They left the house together.
Autumn sunshine lit the room where Denis lay, but
the light within him was waning. He peered about,
seeing only the nurse in the backgroimd.
"Where are you, little bean?" he asked feebly,
groping for Vivienne's hand.
"Here, at your side, Denny, darling."
"Where are we? By the sea?"
"No, darling. The flat. What made you ask?"
"I'm hearing it all the time . . . thimderous waves.
.-. . Am I — sinking, Viv?"
Vivienne's throat went dry. Not a word could she
get out. But he did not seem to expect an answer. He
smiled a little whimsically. '
"I was rather looking forward to my six months'
respite. That's whiat Sir Wilmer said I had left. It's up
on Monday. I did n't tell you then, but I think, you
had better know it now. I never was a stayer at any-
thing, you know."
She strangled back a sob. "Time enough for crying
afterwards," Rose had said.
"You'll get a small jointure," he murmured medita-
tively. "I don't think my father will refuse that. ... I
meant to have done more for you, Viv."
"Don't worry about me, Denny, darling," she im-
plored. "You know I can look after myself. I always
"Yes, I know. . • . But I don't want you to be de-
pendent on Johnnies-in-the-stalls. . . . How long have
' I got before it's all over? D' you know?"
3i8 ROSE O' THE SEA
"Don't think about it." Her voice was all broken.
"Lie still and keep hold of my hand."
He gave it a feeble pressure.
"Is my father coming? " he asked after a while.
"Rose has promised he shall come."
He seemed satisfied. Presently Vivienne heard
soimds outside. She went to the door and beckoned
to Rose and Lord Caister. When they had come in she
ceded without a word her place by the bedside to the
Denis half opened his eyes.
"Don't go, Viv."
" I 'm here, Denny. We 're all here — your father and
Caister bent over the pallid figure on the bed. Dis-
tress and grief and self-reproach wjere all expressed in
his face. '
"My poor boyl" he murmured.
Denis made an effort to speak, but emotion and
,aiUng breath hampered his words.
"Awfully — sorry — father!" he got out at last.
Dire aflBiction settled on Caister. They were all suf-
fering more than Denis. He was flickering out like a
lamp, and as painlessly.
"Everything is forgiven — and forgotten. Freely,
Denny. For my own shortcomings as a father will you
forgive me? "
The tender tone, the pleading voice, took Denis
back to the days of his childhood. He turned his face
to his father. Like a child he wanted to be kissed. In
these last moments, these painless, torpid moments, it
was suflBicient to him to sense — dully and sleepily —
the flow of love that came from his father^ from Rose,
ROSE O' THE SEA 319
even from Kttie Viv. His glazing eyes sought first one,
then the other.
Vivienne urged Rose gently towards the bed,
"Lift me up,'* he whispered.
They raised him so that he lay with his head resting
on her breast.
'* I think — I 'd like to pray.*' A little frown puckered
his brows, as though he were cudgelling his brains.
"A nursery prayer."
Vivienne had never prayed in her life. Rose's prayers
were more instinctive than set. But once, long ago, she
had seen a child's prayer in a book, and it came back to
her now. She said it slowly, softly, as a mother does
who teaches her baby its first supplication to God; and
Denis haltingly repeated it after her.
"Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep.
And if I die before I wake,
I pray the Lord my soul to take. Amen."
The waves of eternity were loudly clamouring for a
soul on the brink. The roar of many waters was in
Denis's ears. It drowned the hum and hoot of passing
taxis and the noise of traflBic in the street below. His
eyes searched the gathering darkness for Vivienne.
"Viv! So long — little bean. Don't fret."
Vivienne bent her head and covered bis hand with
kisses. Her tears blinded her.
Denis gave a gentle sigh.
"I had a dream the other night," he said in a final
rally. "Viv knows it. She'll tell it to you, Rose. I
was your — kid. If you ever have a son, will you call
him Denis? . . . My second innings! . . . Perhaps my
320 ROSE O' THE SEA
Five minutes later he had drifted out peacefully and
happily. He looked like a child asleep.
The nurse pulled down the blinds.
Caister had gone. Rose stayed with Vivienne. The
source of her tears had gone dry. She could not cry any
more. Grief petrified her. Nor would she leave the
room where all that remained of Denis lay forever
silent, forever still. Rose had literally to drag her away.
"You told me I could cry afterwards," Vivienne
said piteously. "I — can't. Oh, my Denny! Where are
you? Why can't I die too?"
"Poor Viv!" Rose held her closely. "I know how
dreadful you feel!"
Vivienne half drew herself away.
"You don't!" she cried. " You Ve never loved, or if
you have you 've not loved as a woman does. You 're
just an inexperienced girl who has n't touched life with
the gloves oflf. Oh, I don't mean that! Whatever you
are, you're a whole world better than I shall ever be.
I 'm glad Denny died in your arms. He '11 have more
chance of getting to heaven because of it. Do you think
he has gone there? Do you think he'll be lonely? Why
could n't I keep him with me? I 'm the only person who
ever really loved him. And now that I 've lost him I 've
nothing left — nothing! "
"Neither has his father," Rose said softly. "He
loved him too."
She went over to a vase of cut flowers, and selecting
a number of white ones, thrust them into Vivienne's
"Take them to Denis," she said. "And cry, Viviexme
ROSE O' THE SEA 321
Vivienne went. When she came back she was crying
gently. Perhaps the look of utter peace on the dead
boy's face had taught her resignation.
The two girls sat on together. Rose meant to stay
the night. It would be kinder.
Early in the afternoon there was a knock at the flat
door. Vivienne opened it to a journalist who, knowing
nothing of her bereavement, had come to interview her
for another illustrated paper. When she heard his er-
rand she gave a cracked laugh and shut the door in
" The first time in my life I Ve ever refused an inter-
view!" she babbled hysterically.
He had hardly gone when there was another knock.
This time it was a fellow-actress, one of the gay spirits
with whom she and Denis had often spent nights at the
card-table or in mad frolic. The visitor's face expressed
"I've just heard Denny's had an accident," she
began. "I hope it's nothing much. I saw the blinds
down, so I thought I 'd look in. You 're not afraid of the
sim fading your carpets, are you? See you to-night, I
suppose, same as usual? Bring yoiu: boy along, too, if
he's well enough."
Vivienne looked her up and down, down and up. A
new dignity — the dignity of grief — was in her face,
ennobling it, so that its common prettiness almost
"My husband died an hour ago," she said in a
She closed the door and bolted it.
Caister and Vivienne were chief mourners at Denis's
funeral. Vivienne bore herself with praiseworthy forti-
tude. Her face was in its natural state, not as an osten-
tatious sign of grief, but because she was indiflfexent
about her appearance. She had made herself ill with
crying; altogether she looked a pitiable little object,
drenched with sorrow.
During the slow, solemn drive to the cemetery
neither of them spoke, but on the way back Caister
asked if he might come up to the flat with her.
"Yes, if you want to," she answered dully. "But
I'm all alone."
"I want to see you alone, imless you would rather
I came another time?"
- "I don't care," was the listless reply.
Up in her drawing-room he observed that it was
denuded of ornament. The multitude of framed photo-
graphs had vanished. None of her personal effects were
to be seen.
She dropped into a seat. She had eaten nothing that
day and felt desperately faint. She clutched at the
arms of her chair. She did not want to give way to
weakness in Caister's presence if she could help it.
But she could n't help it. She simply fainted away, and
when she recovered she found him bending over her
with a look of anxiety. Her maid, whom he had sima-
moned, was trying to force brandy between her lips.
"I'm all right now," she said, struggling up. "You
need n't stay, Melanie."
ROSE O' THE SEA 323
Caister was regarding her thoughtfully.
"How long is it since you had anything to eat? " he
She made a weary gestiu"e. "Oh, I don't know. I'm
not hungry, anyway. Food would choke me. What's
the good? Perhaps I '11 be able to eat when I 've left the
flat. It's let. I go to-morrow."
"Oh, anywhere. I have n't thought. Only I could n't
stay here. I can't look at anything without thinking
of Denis — seeing him. It's awful! And I long and I
long for him and I can't believe he's dead. God! I
loved him so."
Caister's lips quivered.
"I know you did," he said unsteadily. "I didn't
know it before. Now — for his sake — shall we be
She looked at him out of lifeless eyes.
"We can't be friends," she said with quiet convic-
tion. "We've nothing in coromon. . . . We needn't
hate each other, though."
"We have our love for Denis in common."
"And I took him from you. You'll never forget
"I am satisfied now that you did your best to make
him happy. I should like to thank you for that."
"You needn't. I was never any good to him. I
amused him sometimes, that's all. And, anyhow, if I
acte4 white to him I did n't to you. I took your money
— that eight hundred poimds — and gave you a
promise and broke it. You need n't feel you're under
any obligation to me. I was Denis's wife, but he 's dead,
and everything's finished. I shall be acting to-morrow
324 ROSE a THE SEA
night. I shan't be the only girl on the stage twiddling
her feet with an ache in her heart. Not by a long chalk.
The world 's got to go on."
She wanted the interview to end.
"So you intend to remain on the stage?" he said.
"What else can I do? It's my living. You need n't
be afraid I shall disgrace your family name, though."
"I was not thinking of that. I only wished to know
whether you really wanted to go on acting."
Vivienne's smile was bitter.
"Acting?'" she repeated in a scornful voice. "You
need n't call it that. I can't act. I can't even sing. The
salary I get is just on account of my cheek and my
cheapness. I'm trashy and the public like trash, es-
pecially the feminine brand. And of course I filled the
public eye because I used to go about with titled
Johnnies-in-the-stalls. I shan't do that any more. I 've
too much respect for Denny's memory — and myself.
So I dare say before long I diall find myself in the back
row of the chorus at thirty shillings a week. De Freyne,
my manager, has n't much use for a girl who — who
respects herself. I Uked the life once. I shall hate it
The unexpected admission made easier what Caister
had it in his mind to say.
"Would you leave the stage if you could?"
"If I could — yes."
"You can. You need not work for your living. I
would like to settle a small income upon you — a
jointure. I 'm not a rich man. If I could make it more I
would. Still, on five hundred a year you should be able
Vivienne looked at him in speechless amazement.
ROSE O* THE SEA 325
"You — offer me — five hundred a yeax!" she re-
peated. "I who have humiliated you by marrying into
your family! I never heard of such generosity! Thank
you, but I could n't take it. I 'm not out to make money
out of my poor Denis's death."
This was a second surprise for him. An hour ago he
had held her in disesteem, almost scorn. Quite abruptly
she had earned his respect.
"You must not look on it like that," he said almost
apologetically. "Do you think Denis would have left
you unprovided for if he could have helped it?"
" No, I don't suppose he would. But he knew I should
manage somehow. He would not like me to look to you
"And yet for his sake I ask you to allow me to give
it. When Denis was alive I cast him oflf. I fear I shall
never be able to forgive myself for that. Won't you
help me to atone by letting me help you? "
She looked at him long and earnestly, her feelings
towards him — as his to her — undergoing ^a sudden
change. She made a helpless gesture.
"But I don't deserve it," she deprecated.
Caister rose. He could not help admiring her hu-
mility. As he stood there another thought came into
his mind — a thought and a deep regret.
"As you know," he said sadly, "Denis was my only
child. I have no heir now. At my death the title
lapses — unless — "He looked at her fixedly.
Vivienne shook her head.
"I was not good enough to be a mother," she said
under her breath.
She held out her hand.
,"Once you would n't fedce it. Will you now? I than^.
326 ROSE O' THE SEA
you for treating me — as Denny's wife. I shall never
forget it — never!"
Caister took her hand. He did more: he bent and
kissed her on the forehead.
After leaving Vivienne, Caister felt great disinclina-
tion to return home. He did not care to face its empti-
ness. True it had been empty and silent enough.of late.
Denis had not crossed its threshold for many a long
day; but the knowledge that now he never would,
filled him with a misery that bordered on despair.
He mourned the boy's loss because, in spite of all his
faults, he had loved him. The father mourned the son.
He mourned also the approaching extinction of the old
name, the knowledge that he would be the last of his
line. He felt that — lately — he had been at fault in
many ways. He had made a mistake in asking Rose to
marry Denis; another in breaking off the match on
account of her sudden accession to wealth; a third in
his treatment of Denis. He even reproached himself for
his original attitude towards Vivienne. She at least had
loved his son and was proud of that love.
His mood of self-reproach was so intense that he
longed for some one to whom he might open his heart;
some one who would understand and perhaps shrive
him. As a matter of course his thoughts went to Lady
He found her on the point of going out, but that,
she said, could wait. She had intended going to see
Rose. She had had no earlier qpporttmity of doing so
since her return from the Continent.
She held* Caister's hand in silent sympathy.
"Put up with me, Maggy," he said. "I always seem
to gravitate towards you when I'm in trouble."
328 ROSE O' THE SEA
Maggy led him to a settee and sat down beside
"Don't let it break your heart, Bob," she said in her
sweet tones. " Yoxf did everything a father possibly
could, but fate was too strong for poor Denis. It may
seem a callous thing to say, my dear, but I can't help
thinking that what has happened is for the best. Denis
did not get any real pleasure out of life, you know. How
often was he really well? Generally life was a burden to
him. I doubt whether, under the most favourable dr-
ciunstances, the poor boy would have survived you.
It's hopelessly sad" — die blinked away a tear —
"but there's a happier side to it. He's at rest. . . .
Have you seen Rose? "
" For a few moments only. It was she who fetched me
on the day of the accident."
Maggy's eyes asked a question.
"Yes, that was all. What else should there be?"
" You have n't heard of her success? "
"Of her money? I've read of her charities some-
where, I think."
"I did n't mean that. She 's been on the cinema stage
for a bare three months or so, and already she's a
' star.' I only heard of it when I came back. The news-
papers are full of her. As for her money, it 's all gone.
Vanished in the most unaccoimtable way. She has
nothing left, I believe, and lives on her salary as an
actress. Bob, are n't you going to her? Put this sorrow
behind you and stretch out your hand to take the
greatest gift life has to offer — love!"
"Love! That was an illusion of yours, my dear
friend. Rose never loved me. Many weeks ago I wrote
and told her of my love. I ask^d her to marry me. I told
ROSE O' THE SEA 329
her how I reproached myself fpr letting her go. I hxim-
bled myself. I begged her to come to me, if she could
forgive me. She burnt that letter — she has since told
me so — without reading it. That was her answer. We
won't talk of Rose any more. I want you to help me to
a new philosophy."
He smiled drearily. His hopelessness smote Maggy
to the heart.
She sat on, talking to him soothingly, but she could
do little to lighten his burden of sorrow, and by and by
he left her, still heavy with grief. He felt that no hu-
man being could lessen it. Unless, perhaps. Rose . . •
But Rose, alas ! was now moving in another orbit . . .
more remote than ever. He had lost her. He had lost
everything, and he was still a young man, as men
reckon age, with a long span of life and loneliness
before him. . . .
Soon after he left her, Maggy went out. She had only
got back to London twenty-four hours ago and had
telephoned to Rose at her flat. She had been surprised
to hear a man's voice answer her call.
"Miss Eton," he had said coldly, "does not live
"Where is she?"
"I have no idea."
"But are you subrenting the flat from her or — or —
who are you?"
"I am an eviction officer," he had said stiffly.
"And Mrs. Clarges — ?" The man had cleared his
throat in slight embarrassment, being busy at the
moment in putting that lady out.
"Oh, I suppose you may speak to ^ if you want."
There had been a new note in Mrs. Clarges's voice.
330 ROSE O' THE SEA
Her laborious breathing had been audible over the
telephone. (Maggy could picture her with her carefully
cultivated gentility going down before the strain of
the moment, and her perfect poise and bland assurance
gone at last. And Maggy was glad of it.) She had told
her what had befallen Rose and where she was. So
round to Sidey Street went Maggy now.
Rose had come straight back from the funeral and
was having her first long cry. The sad ceremony, the
realisation that Denis's short, misspent life was over,
the utter grief in his father's face, the forlomness in
Vivienne's, had had a lamentable effect on her. She
was weeping for the boy who had gone, for the bereaved
father whom she loved and who now was left desolate.
Maggy came in imannoimced and put her arms
"Why are you here, dearest?" she asked. "Why
are n't you with Bob? What is there to keep you from
him? He wants you. He needs you more than ever
Rose dried her eyes.
"You're quite wrong," she dissented. "He does n't
care for me. ... If he did, do you think that now,
when he must be so unhappy, I would keep away for
the sake of silly pride? "
"Did n't pride make you burn a letter?"
"Yes — but . . . How did you know?" ,
"Without reading it? Oh, you silly, silly child!
He told you he loved you in that letter I He asked you to
Rose drew back, the better to look at her. In spite
of tears her eyes suddenly grew starlike.
"Is that true — really true?" she cried.
ROSE O' THE SEA 331
"He told me so. Not half an hour ago."
In an instant Rose was on her feet. She found her
hat, crammed it on her head; she forgot her coat, al-
though it was a cold day.
Maggy got up too. This, then, was the end. After
suffering — solace! After sorrow — joy!
"My car's outside," she said eagerly. "I'll drop you
All the blinds in the house were down. The servants
were waiting for orders to draw them up. It was a
house of gloom, of mourning. Caister had shut himself
in the library.
When Rose asked for him the footman hesitated.
"I don't know whether I ought to disturb his lord-
ship, miss/' he said doubtfully. ''He gave orders that
he was not at home to anybody.'*
"But — but he'll see me, Charles!"
"Yes, miss." Civility prompted concurrence, but
discipline suggested compromise. "Perhaps I'd better
say you are here, miss."
But Rose was impatient.
"No," she said, coming in. "I'll go to him myself."
She went on quickly, leaving Charles, sympathetic
but xmcertain, to close the door. Instinct took her to the
library. She turned the handle softly and walked in.
The room was almost in darkness. In an armchair
sat Caister. His bowed head, his whole attitude per-
sonified grief. Diffidence and modest doubt brought
her to a stop. She stood still, imable to say a word.
A sob, a man's sob, painful to hear, broke the still-
ness. It was too much for her. She ran to him.
"It's I — Rose!" she faltered. "I — I had to come. .
I heard — Maggy told me. Oh, I 'm so sorry. . . . Won't
you speak to me? "
He was taken by surprise; was not sure of her mean-
ing; wondered what had brought her. Her dear presence
made him weak. He had to struggle against a great
ROSE O' THE SEA 333
yearning for her. She could only have come out of com-
passion. She was sorry for him, nothing more. But he
did not want her compassion, only her love — the love
she had refused him.
"It's kind of you to be sorry," he said. "I think,
though, I can fight my trouble best alone."
" Could — could n't we bear it better — together? "
she asked appealingly.
He thought she spoke objectively, merely in a spirit
of sympathy, and answered with a sad shake of the
head. She went on:
"It is best to share a grief. Let me share yoiu-s.
Then it won't be so hard to bear. You forgave poor
Denis. He was happy at the end. But if you must
mourn, let me mourn with you."
Looking into her pleading face it was hard to resist
her. But he wanted something more than commisera-
tion, and that was all he saw there.
"Yes, I must mourn," he sighed disconsolately.
"And alone. You are too yoxmg to be burdened with
sorrows. You can have no real share in this one. Denis
was all I had. He was my son, my heir, the last of my
line. You cannot understand what that means."
"Oh, I know! I know I'm not much use to you, but
— need you be quite so lonely? "
She was all entreaty, all tenderness. She waited for
him to speak, but he said nothing. With her heart beat-
ing, she cast maidenly difl&dence aside. She dropped
on to her knees and held her arms out to him.
"Can't I stay and — love you?''
Outside, leaden clouds lifted from the setting sun.
A glow of rosy light penetrated the drawn blinds. It lit
up her face, and the yearning in it. >
334 ROSE O' THE SEA
He had tasted many sorrows; some of them to the
bitter dregs. What was this cup she held out to him?
Joy? Was there to be an end to suffering and dis-
appointment? He starved for her. But no, what she
offered was so much less than he craved for. He mois-
tened his parched lips.
"I fear that is not possible," he said, and his voice
was charged with anguish. "I cannot ask you to stay
with me — I could not bear to see you resume your old
place in my house — just because pity prompts you to
give me the — affection of a daughter. I love you as a
man loves a woman. That is what I told you in the
letter you burnt."
It was said in a broken, hopeless voice and with
averted face. He did not see her swaying towards him,
like a flower asking to be plucked.
^*Make me — a woman f' she whispered.
Rose pulled up the blinds. The room was flooded with
the glory of the evening sun. Its radiance shone in their
eyes. A song was in their hearts — the same song:
After suffering — solace! After sorrow — joy I
Rose looked up at the iridescent sky.
"How beautiful it is," she murmured. "Denis is
there, somewhere ; part of the Light and Life streaming
down on us. Don't you feel it? Are you not certain he
is happy? I am!"
Together, in love and silence, in rapture made sol-
emn by grief that would pass away, drawn together by
the same mighty force that spins the world in space
and regulates the destiny of those upon it, they
watched the splendour of the setting sun.
To-morrow it would rise on a new day.
CAMBRIDGB . MASSACHUSETTS
U . 8 . A