Skip to main content

Full text of "Two apaches of Paris"

See other formats




I Of- 






Authors of 

"The Shulamite," "The Rod of Justice," 




Copyrighted 1911, by 

Pre of Wffliam G. Hewitt. Brooklyn. New York. 



As NEW YORK has its gangsters, and London its 
Hooligans, so Paris has more or less organized bands 
of street ruffians of the lowest type, who, within the 
last decade, have come to be known as "Apaches." Be- 
stowed at first by some Parisian newspaper men, who 
had in mind the crudest and most dangerous tribe of 
American Indians, the appellation has been accepted 
by the Paris Apaches themselves, not as a stigma, but 
as a name worn with no little pride. 

And they do not belie it. The tough class of no 
other city goes to such lengths of wanton cruelty, of 
absolutely reckless indifference to law or morality, or 
of murder done seemingly oftentimes for the sheer 
sake of doing it. 

Affiliated in bands or gangs, like those of New York 
City, each with its colors and "signs," and each under 
the domination of some man more daring or "quick 
on the draw" than his fellows, they terrorize a large 
portion of the French metropolis. Certain quarters, 
even in broad daylight, seem to be entirely at their 
mercy : the police of the city being apparently power- 
less to break them up. 

Unlike their New York confreres, their weapon is 
not the revolver, but the knife, a far more silent 
weapon, which they can also throw, javelin-like, with 
deadly accuracy. Unlike the New York gangsters, 
they make no attempt to mix in politics. They are a 



class by themselves, with their own laws, tribunals 
and customs even their own language, for their argot 
is almost unintelligible to the native Frenchman. 

Their work and sustenance? Chiefly highway rob- 
bery of the crudest type. Many a victim is played into 
their hands by their women. Others are simply street 
hold-ups, a handkerchief garrote peculiar to the ilk 
taking the place of the American sandbag. If neces- 
sary, the victim is tortured until senseless, without the 
slightest qualm; or, if advisable, knifed, and left, or 
tossed into the Seine with little ceremony. 

A further word should be said of the Apache women. 
Mostly of the courtesan class, the men act toward them 
the part of the American cadet. And while the men 
Apaches are brutal degenerates, the women are often 
prepossessing, equally cold-blooded, it is true, but of 
far higher intelligence. Their very intelligence makes 
them, if anything, more dangerous. They are the 
spiders who lure the intended victims into the Apache 
web. On the street one easily recognizes them hat- 
less, bold, self-possessed. 

The haunts of the whole tribe are the cheaper cab- 
arets, the cafes near the markets, and in the older 
faubourgs. In the questionable dance and concert halls 
they may be seen at all hours of the night, taking their 
pleasure as crudely as their drinks and their "business." 

To root them out is no small problem. However 
much they quarrel among themselves, they are banded 
together implacably and avowedly against society in 
general. The gendarme who arrests one of them, 
the judge who convicts one, are marked men; and the 
arm of the Apache is as long and patient as that of the 
Italian Camorra. 


Two Apaches of Paris 


ROBIN CLITHERO leaned back in his chair and laughed 
heartily. His laugh was loud and resonant and it rang 

"What a chap you are, Owen," he gasped, when he 
had somewhat recovered his breath ; "the deuce only 
knows what you'll think of next !" 

It was an occasion for merriment, and Robin's laugh 
was by no means singular. The famous dancing-hall 
of the Moulin de la Bonne Fortune, at Montmartre, was 
thronged by a fantastically garbed crowd given over 
to the wild license of a carnival ball. It was the night 
of Shrove Tuesday, when extravagance and folly held 
undisputed sway. 

The Saturnalian revel was at its height. Dancing 
was only indulged in in a desultory fashion a "go-as- 
you-please" entertainment save when space was 
cleared for professional performers ; the floor was car- 
peted with many-hued confetti, and the air was dust- 
laden and heavy; the countless electric lights glowed 
red and yellow through a mist of tobacco smoke and 
the steam of perspiring humanity. The band brayed 
intermittently, heedless of the accompaniment of toy 
trumpets, whistles, and cat-calls the thousand and one 



noises in which such a crowd delights; everyone did 
just as he or she liked, and it was all breathless, spon- 
taneous, and irresponsible. 

From the box where Owen Mayne was entertaining 
his Bohemian friends fellow artists, models, anyone, 
in short, who cared to claim his acquaintance one 
looked down upon a kaleidoscope of color a seething, 
swirling, palpitating mass of life, painted in lurid hues 
that fascinated by their very discordance. 

The crowd had been particularly dense below the box 
a few minutes ago. It was due to a happy inspiration 
on the part of Owen Mayne. By means of a rod and 
string he had suspended object after object dear to the 
feminine heart flowers, perfume in bottles, light arti- 
cles of attire over the heads of the masqueraders, 
swinging them irritatingly before women's faces and 
then jerking them out of reach as soon as eager hands 
were stretched out to grasp them. 

It was great fun, attended by much springing in the 
air, queer contortions, the elbowing and pushing of 
one another, giggling, and general hubbub. The male 
lookers-on cheered and encouraged the competitors 
to fresh exertions; one big fellow had lifted a slim 
Pierrette upon his shoulders, making occasional dashes 
forward with his charge, while another held his girl 
a pink-cheeked and flaxen-haired doll by the arms and 
jumped her up and down in the quaintest fashion when- 
ever the swinging object came within her reach. Now 
and then a general rush would be made, a rush that 
invariably ended in a scuflfle upon the floor. 

The contest had reached its height over a pair of 
gaudily buckled garters. It was the final disposition 
of these which had aroused Robin's mirth. At the 
same time Owen, wearied of the game, rose and bowed 
gracefully to the clamouring crowd, and then retired 


to the back of the box, taking Robin with him ; their 
places in the front were immediately occupied by a 
couple of showily dressed girls, one, tall and handsome, 
known as "La Grande Rose," the other, fragile and 
pretty, as "P'tit Bleu" ; they were both models, and of 
course had their attendant swains. 

"Now we can have a chat, Rob," said Owen, after 
he had given an order for refreshment. "I'm glad you 
caught sight of me and came up. We never seem to 
meet now that you've elected to bury yourself at Fon- 
tainebleau. Such a mad thing to do at this time of 

"It's cheap living," responded the other readily, 
"and away from temptations. And, then, I love the 
forest, know every inch of it, and like to paint it in all 
its moods. Besides, there's another reason why I 
should love Fontainebleau." He gave a queer little jerk 
of his head, then added quickly, "But that's ancient 
history. Anyway, the country is good enough for a 
plodder; Paris is for geniuses like yourself, Owen, 
soaring rockets." 

Robin Clithero, big, honest, and stolid, nondescript 
of colouring and homely of face, gazed with a certain 
envy at his better favoured friend. Owen Mayne was 
certainly very good-looking, even if it was after a 
rather flashy manner. He was tall and slim and dark, 
and had a "hail-fellow-well-met" way about him that 
was quite delightful and earned him considerable pop- 
ularity especially with women. The red "Mephis- 
topheles" costume he wore suited him admirably. 

Yet they were great friends these two, though un- 
doubtedly the devotion was more on the side of Robin. 
It was in his nature to bestow a certain dog-like fidelity 
upon anyone who had captured his affection. Besides, 
he considered that he owed a debt to Owen Mayne, who 


upon the occasion of their first meeting had saved his 
life under somewhat exciting circumstances, and Robin 
never forgot a debt it was another of his peculiarly 
unbohemian characteristics. 

"If I soar like a rocket," laughed Owen, "I'm just 
as likely to come down like a stick. You know the sort 
of chap I am, Rob. I can't put my shoulder to the 
wheel never could. Look at my picture, 'The Cham- 
ois Hunter,' well, I haven't touched it since I saw 
you last." 

"But why not?" protested the other. "I tell you, 
Owen, that that picture would make your name and 
fortune. I always said so. A fine piece of work, full 
of symbolism." 

"You know why I chucked it up," responded Owen, 
a touch of impatience in his tone. "La Place Pigalle 
couldn't provide me with the style of face I wanted for 
my siren nor the whole of Paris, for the matter of 
that. I suppose it doesn't exist except somewhere at 
the back of my brain, whence it peeps out mockingly 
in my dreams but it's so infernally elusive, and I'm 
hanged if I can ever put anything on canvas that re- 
sembles it to the smallest extent. So what's the use 
of trying ?" 

"But why not do with a substitute why just that 
particular face?" urged Robin. "There are lots of 
pretty girls " 

"Pretty girls!" exclaimed Owen scornfully. "It's 
not a pretty girl that I want. There's P'tit Bleu who 
sobs her blue eyes out because I won't let her sit. But 
do you think my siren is to be the style of a mere 
brasserie wench? No, old man, my siren must be a 
tigress, a panther, with a woman's face and form. She 
must have the beauty of consummate vice. She must 
horrify but allure. Her hair must be a net in which 


all the sins of the world are caught and held. Her eyes 
must burn you with their passion. They must be like 
mirrors in which you see reflected the most secret 
desires of your heart. Her mouth must be an opium- 
soaked poppy, the kisses of which are delirious phan- 
tasms, oblivion, and death. And her body ah, her 
body a snake-woman, subtle, lithe and enveloping, 
with a grip that only relaxes when your very spirit has 
been absorbed. That's my siren, Rob. Is it any won- 
der I haven't found her ? But I tell you if I ever did 
I'd give myself to her yes, body and soul." 

"Thank God you haven't !" retorted the more simple- 
minded Robin. "And for your own sake, old fellow, 
I hope you never will. Give me P'tit Bleu any day in 
preference to your monster. Hullo !" he added quickly, 
stepping to the front of the box from which the girls 
and their companions had by now retired. "What are 
they up to ? A special dance, eh ?" 

A space had been cleared in the centre of the great 
saloon. Fantastically attired couples were taking up 
their positions in sets of eight. There was to be a 
"quadrille" danced by professionals. Robin recog- 
nised familiar faces, and cried out their names to the 
girls at the back of the box. 

"There's Zouzou 1'Epatante over there," he ex- 
claimed. "She's with Manon la Cigale. And here's 
Toupet Gris in the set close to us, so we shall see 
something in the way of high kicking." 

They all leaned over the ledge of the box. The band 
played the introductory bars of a favourite dance. 
Robin waved his hand to Toupet Gris, who executed 
a fantastic pas-seul in response, ending up with an 
exaggerated curtsey. 

"Who's the girl facing us the one dancing with that 


ugly chap who looks like an Apache?" queried some- 
one as the quadrille began. 

Owen Mayne and Robin turned their eyes in the 
direction indicated. They saw a thin, lithe, and black- 
clad figure bent almost double over the arm of a for- 
bidding-looking youth, who seemed to have aped no 
disguise, but come to the ball in the costume that was 
natural to him, the blouse and red scarf, the tight 
trousers, the peaked cap of the loafer of the outer 
boulevards the so-called Apache. 

The next moment the girl was standing erect, smi- 
ling, and displaying teeth that were dazzingly white, 
small, and sharp, and which served to enhance the vivid 
crimson of her lips. Her glorious black hair hung 
loose over her shoulders. It was a small face and, save 
at the lips, almost devoid of colour. 

Robin glanced apprehensively at Owen. "She looks 
a devil," he muttered; "a devil. Do you know her, 

Rose, a heavily built, dark girl, leant her arm famil- 
iarly upon the man's shoulder and followed the direc- 
tion of his eyes. Then, with a sharp exclamation, and 
disregarding Robin, she turned to the other girl, P'tit 
Bleu, whose attention just then was wholly taken up by 
a flirtation in the incipient stage. 

"Regards-moi qal Zelie, of all people in the world, 
Zelie la Couleuvre! Who'd have thought she'd have 
the cheek to show herself here? Qu'en dis-tu, Pou- 
lette?" Rose had slipped her arm round the waist of 
P'tit Bleu, dragging her ruthlessly to the front. The 
two girls were devoted friends and inseparable com- 

P'tit Bleu uttered bird-like chirps of wonder. She 
had a round, precocious face and an impertinent, tip- 
tilted nose. Her speech was twittering and she af- 


fected little jerky movements of the head, like a spar- 
row. Her costume represented a blue bird, which was 
quite appropriate. 

"Nothing like advertisement, my dear. I, too, I 
will one day be mixed up in a murder trial, and then 
who knows ? all Paris may want to paint my picture." 

Robin flicked with his finger the bare, comely arm 
that still rested on his shoulder, recalling himself thus 
to attention. 

"I asked you a question, Rose. Who is this Zelie?" 

"Do you mean to say you don't know?" The two 
girls chorused their surprise. Then Rose volunteered 
the required information. She spoke in jerky, discon- 
nected sentences. 

"Six months ago, wasn't it? Half a dozen vauriens 
rascals from the fortifs Apaches they fought to- 
gether it was a fierce and bloody struggle they were 
all wounded and carried to hospital two died and 
what did they fight for, you ask?" The girl jerked her 
elbow in the direction of the dark-clad, swaying figure 
below. "It was for that creature the Queen of the 
Apaches, as they called her. And they were none the 
better for shedding their blood those who lived. Of 
course, she took up with another while they went to 
prison. There he is her type. An Apache of the 
Apaches. They dance together at the Florian. For 
naturally Zelie became notorious one only has to get 
one's name in the papers for all the world to want to 
see you. And there she is, the coquine, parading her- 
self here instead of hiding in the gutter where she be- 
longs." Rose spoke with righteous indignation. 

"But, sapristi, she can dance!" The speaker was 
Jean Brieul, the young man to whom P'tit Bleu was 
devoting herself. 

Owen had not been listening. He was sitting on the 


other side of Robin, his elbows resting on the velvet- 
covered ledge of the box, his chin sunk in his hands. 
His eyes fixed upon Zelie. 

Robin noticed this and tried to distract his friend's 
attention. "Look at Toupet! She's just kicked that 
chap's hat off." He laughed a strained laugh. 

Owen gripped him by the arm. "Robin," he whis- 
pered excitedly. "I've found her! Fate has sent her 
my way. That is my siren in the flesh. Look at her 
mouth it's like a bleeding wound. Look at her eyes 
mon Dieu, man, look at her eyes !" 

He was trembling with suppressed excitement. The 
wild dance continued fantastic, untrammelled, licen- 
tious a riot of the baser instincts. And to Owen, 
watching, it seemed that Zelie was born of that dance, 
that in her own person all its evil was concentrated. 
It was thus that she had come to him the woman, the 
siren, for whom he was ready to barter his soul. 

The music ended on a wild, screeching note, and 
there followed a clapping of hands, a chorus of cat- 
calls, discordant shouts and cries. Serpentins were 
flung this way and that. Owen seized the rod, which 
had already done service, and quickly attaching a red 
rose torn, regardless of protest, from the corsage of 
one of the models to the string, he flung it so that it 
hung suspended before the dancer. 

For a moment she suspected a trick, and laughingly 
put her hands behind her back. Then, as Owen, 
standing up in the box, cried out to her, she returned 
his gaze, and her eyes still held him as she took the 
flower from its string, lifted it for a moment to her 
face, and then ostentatiously pressed it to her bosom. 

Her companion of the forbidding countenance 
looked on and scowled. 


"So YOU are an artist, and you wish me to sit for you. 
It would not be the first time that I sit but now I 
don't know." 

Zelie shook her head dubiously. She was seated at 
a little table with Owen Mayne, and a perspiring waiter 
had just set before them two tall glasses with contained 
a green fluid. 

They had spent the best part of an hour in each 
other's company, these two. Owen had simply carried 
her off from her surly cavalier, who had frowned, but 
said nothing, though Owen was quite aware all the 
time that he and his companion had been shadowed by 
an ill-omened figure, watched out of the corners of a 
pair of dull, grey eyes. 

He was in nowise disconcerted. He was not the 
man to be afraid of an Apache or anything else. 

Robin had croaked but then it was Robin's way to 
croak. "I think she is hateful," he had urged, "the 
personification of all that is bad. For Heaven's sake, 
Owen, leave her to her type as Rose says. They're 
well matched." 

"I want a personification of all that is bad for my 
picture," Owen had retorted, and, after that, there was 
no more to be said. 

"Why can't you sit for me now ?" urged Owen. 

The woman shrugged her narrow shoulders. "He 
won't let me. He would be furious. He is jealous 
mon Bibi" 



"Bother Bibi," retorted the man. "Are you so fond 
of him, then, Zelie?" He addressed her with the 
second person of familiarity was it not Carnival 

The girl's brows narrowed and her eyes became 
slits that yet shot fire. "He has struck me once 
twice many times. I bear the mark of his knife on 
my shoulder." She laughed fiercely. "And he has 
the print of my teeth on his wrist !" Her little, sharp 
teeth glowed white as she spoke. 

"Why should you consider the fellow if that's the 
way he treats you?" Owen put the question half 
lazily, for he knew what the answer would be. He was 
studying the girl's face, gratifying his artistic soul. 

"He would kill me you, too, perhaps. Are you 
afraid?" She peered up into his face with a queer 
look in her green eyes. Perhaps she was summing 
him up. 

Apparently Zelie's scrutiny was satisfactory to her. 
She dropped her eyes and sipped her absinthe. "Are 
you afraid ?" she repeated. 

"Not I," he replied easily. "And as for danger to 
yourself, Zelie, I'll see to that. Sapristi," he added, 
leaning toward her so that his face was very close to 
the waving, glistening mass of hair where it fell upon 
her shoulders, "to think I have been looking for you all 
these months, and that you really exist ! It's as if the 
devil had created you from the thoughts of my brain. 
Don't you know that you've got the devil's beauty?" 

She smiled, well pleased. "Well, we are a pair," 
she said, alluding to his costume. Presently she leaned 
forward, resting her elbows on the table, her slim 
fingers clasped together under her chin. "What is 
your name?" she asked. 

"Owen Mayne." 


Her lips tried to form the words. "O-en. No, but 
I cannot say it. I will just call you Phisto for short. 
Are you not Mephisto?" 

"Call me what you like," he replied, winding a finger 
in a strand of her hair. It had a subtle perfume, her 
hair, that mounted to his brain and intoxicated him. 
"As long as you promise to come to my studio and sit 
for me," he added. 

She put another question. "Are you rich?" 

He laughed. "I've got a few billets de mille left," 
he said. "We'll spend them together, Zelie." 

Once more she scrutinized him, and her eyes soft- 
ened. "I like you," she declared. "You know what it 
is you want. You do not fight for it with a knife and 
in the dark like Bibi but you fight. Listen, this I will 
promise. If I can I will come to you you will tell me 
the address of your studio " 

"You must come, Zelie," he interrupted, gripping 
her wrist tightly. "You must. I want you." 

"I will come if I can escape from him I swear 

"To-morrow ?" 

"Perhaps. Yes, perhaps to-morrow. And now" 
she drank off the absinthe at a gulp "you must let 
me go. You must not speak to me again to-night. It 
would not be safe. Especially outside you understand 
that ? By no means outside." 

She rose and stretched out her hand, flashing her 
white teeth at him. "Au revoir, mon ami le diable." 

"A demain, Mme. la Couleuvre," he retorted. How 
the name suited her ! A snake-woman ! No doubt she 
had received the title because she was so lithe and slim 
of body but, then, she could wound, too he was sure 
of that. 

She tossed her hair back from her shoulders, gath- 


ered the folds of her black skirt together, and was soon 
lost in the crowd. 

A little while later Owen met his fellow-artist Robin 
Clithero alone and a trifle bored. The two men left 
the ball together, driving through the mist and rain to 
Owen's studio for a final smoke. 

Later still the Moulin de la Bonne Fortune dis- 
gorged its burden of humanity. The broad boulevard 
and the neighbouring narrow streets echoed with 
shouts and laughter as the motley crew slowly dis- 
persed. It was the morning of Ash Wednesday. 

Bibi Coupe-vide was in a bad temper, though Zelie 
hung on his arm and called him her Bibi cheri and 
other queer, endearing names peculiar to her class. 
His language in return was of an order only to be un- 
derstood by those conversant with the lowest argot 
which is a tongue of its own. He was a narrow-chested 
youth, with thin yellow hair fringed on his forehead ; 
he had a receding chin and little deep-set eyes a born 
hooligan an Apache. 

"Let there be no mistake about it," he said in low, 
guttural tones, clenching her arm to his side as in a 
vice, "you are mine, ma gosse, and if you give your- 
self to another for love woe betide you and him." 

Suddenly, with a quick movement, he threw back her 
sleeve, displaying her bare white skin to the elbow. 
With a lean finger he pointed to a mark upon it. 
"Don't you dare forget that," he muttered. 

"I know," she replied sullenly, with an effort to 
readjust the sleeve and hide the blue tattoo mark. "Is 
it likely that I shall forget?" 

"A Bibi pour la vie," he quoted. "You belong to 
Bibi for life, my girl. And Bibi Coupe-vide will hold 
his own, or " A string of vile oaths followed. 

Zelie's thin lips formed a word, but she did not give 


voice to it. Instead, and forcing herself to coaxing 
utterance like the purring of a cat she vowed that 
Bibi was her adore, and that he was foolish to doubt it. 

They turned into a badly-lit side street. The sleet 
drove into their faces and added to Bibi's evil temper. 
Suddenly at the door of a wine-shop on the other side, 
and a little further on, Zelie's keen eyes espied a dark 
and familiar figure. At the same moment it flashed 
across her mind that they had passed a cloaked gen- 
darme under a lamp-post hardly a minute ago, and 
that Bibi, loud in his grievances, had been less ob- 
servant than she. She glanced over her shoulder yes, 
the policeman was still there. 

She gave her companion's arm a sharp squeeze, 
bringing him to a halt. Then she pointed across the 
street to the wine-shop. 

"Bibi," she whispered hoarsely, "it's Jules 'le daim' 
the vile scum. Fais-lui son affaire. Pay your debt, 
for now's your chance. He hasn't seen you." 

Bibi required no second bidding. He had vowed 
vengeance upon Jules, as Jules had vowed it upon him. 
The one to get in the first blow was the one to whom 
victory belonged. 

The Apache thrust the woman back and stole across 
the street, keeping in the shadow of the houses when 
he reached the other side. He was stalking his prey, 
the man Jules, who was drunk, and who had staggered 
on, alone, a few paces beyond the dimly lit shop. Zelie 
held her breath and watched. 

"Au secours!" It was Zelie who gave the alarm 
before the blow had time to fall. Her cry rang out 
shrilly. Bibi heard it and uttered a savage oath. Jules 
heard it too, and turned the next moment he was de- 
fending himself as best he could against an upraised 


"Help!" The cry was repeated, bringing up the 
policeman at a run. Jules sprawled bleeding in the 
gutter. Windows were thrown up, doors flung open. 
The whole street was in a turmoil. Bibi tried to run. 
but escape was quickly cut off. He was seized by a 
gendarme, while another, who had by now appeared 
upon the scene, knelt by the wounded man, whose 
groans and oaths rent the air. 

Zelie had kept discreetly in the background. But 
Bibi knew that she had betrayed him, that his capture 
was due to her. Struggling with the policeman who 
held him, he poured out imprecations upon her head. 

"Attends, ma gosse wait till I can get at you 
only wait! Je t' arranger ai bien. You shall pay for 

this yes, with your life. I swear it I, Bibi " A 

string of foul oaths was silenced by a hand pressed over 
his lips, and Bibi, struggling still, was practically lifted 
from the ground and carried off by two sturdy police- 

Zelie was at liberty to keep her appointment with 
Owen Mayne. 


"IT'S a mad project, Owen impossible." The 
speaker, Robin Clithero, frowned and stared out of 
the open window across the white road to the trees 
that marked the edge of the forest. They were now 
in leaf, for April was already well advanced. 

Robin was at the little house near Fontainebleau, 
where he had been settled for some months, and he 
had been entertaining two guests that day Owen 
Mayne and Zelie, who had come from Paris, ostensibly 
for a mere idle visit of a few hours, but in reality be- 
cause Owen wished to make a proposition to his 
friend a very remarkable proposition indeed, and one 
.which had startled Robin more than a little. 

It was not till early in the afternoon, however, that 
he had broached the subject. They had lunched at 
an inn in the forest and had then made their way back 
to the house. It was a warm spring day, and Zelie 
was in the little garden sunning herself indolently, 
leaving the two men to smoke and chat together. 

"Don't be in such a hurry, old man," urged Owen. 
"Think it well over before you decide. You see, there's 
a fortune at stake and we are jolly hard up, both of 
us. Zelie has made the shekels fly, and I must have 
more for her sake I must have more." He spoke in 
a tone of infatuation which grated upon Robin's ears. 
Closer acquaintance had only served to enhance the 
dislike which the latter bore for the snake-woman, as 
he was pleased to call Zelie. 



"A hundred thousand pounds, at least, to divide be- 
tween us, Robin, and a fine estate as well," Owen added. 
"And it's ours for the asking. We've only got to pick 
it up." 

Robin Clithero whistled, then he began to laugh. 
"I like your way of putting things, Owen," he said. 
"You don't seem to realise that even a harum-scarum 
fool like myself hardly likes to make love to an un- 
known young lady pretending to be someone else 
personating his best friend." 

"But at that friend's most earnest request," Owen 
interrupted. He was sitting easily in a cane chair 
and he held in his hand the lengthy and carefully 
worded epistle which, all unexpectedly, a day or two 
ago, he had received from an aunt of whose very 
existence he was scarcely aware. 

It was really a very startling letter. Mrs. Alderson, 
the aunt in question, had written to say that after a 
vain search extending over at least two years she had 
at last succeeded in tracing her nephew Owen, who 
was the son of her only sister, from whom she had been 
estranged ever since her own marriage. She had some 
reason to believe herself at fault in the quarrel. So 
now that she had found her sister's child she wished to 
make his acquaintance, more especially as her differ- 
ence with her sister weighed heavily upon her mind, 
and she was anxious to make what reparation she could 
before she died an event which, according to the pro- 
nouncement of the doctor, could not be delayed more 
than two or three months. 

Mrs. Alderson added that she had no other relation 
in the world. She had, however, adopted a sweet and 
beautiful girl, named Lavender Percivale of whom 
a photograph was enclosed and she would die happy 
if her nephew and Miss Percivale should meet and fall 


in love with one another. Selwood Manor, where she 
lived with her ward, was a fine estate, and needed a 
man at the head of it. So, if Owen would come to 
England, if things should fall out according to her 
cherished desires, then Mrs. Alderson would no longer 
feel any difficulty as to the disposition of her property. 

The letter was very explicit ; it was evidently written 
by a woman who knew that her days in the land were 
numbered and who was keenly anxious to set her house 
in order. 

"I always knew I had an aunt somewhere in Eng- 
land," Owen explained, "for I can remember that my 
father used to speak of her and how rich she was, but 
that I should never profit by her riches, since Aunt 
Anne and my mother had been at daggers drawn. My 
mother died when I was born, you know, and I 
knocked about the world with my father for years, 
and as I only came to Paris after he went the way of 
-all flesh, it's not remarkable that Aunt Anne was not 
able to find me out. It seems that it was that quaint 
person Martyn who brought my aunt and me into 
touch. You remember he was at the ball that night I 
first met Zelie. He has, it appears, a country seat near 
Selwood. Well, he's certainly done me a good turn. 
There's a fortune in it, Robin, if I can only work the 

To Robin's more simple mind it seemed that every- 
thing was straightforward and that there was no diffi- 
culty in the way. Owen had only to accept his aunt's 
invitation, to proceed with the least possible delay to 
Selwood Manor, and thankfully take what the gods 
had sent. To marry a nice girl and to win a fortune 
and an estate at the same time why, what could be 
more desirable than that ? 

But there was Zelie, and, as usual, Zelie stood ag- 


gressively in the way. In Robin's opinion Zelie had 
already become the curse of his friend's life. He would 
have been the more sure of it had he known the truth 
that Owen had been foolish enough to make the dan- 
cing-girl his wife. 

But Robin did not know this. He only realised that 
Zelie had squandered Owen's money for him and had 
done much towards alienating him from his friends; 
then there was always the danger of trouble that might 
arise when that wretched Apache who bore the nick- 
name of Bibi Coupe-vide came out of prison. He had 
been sentenced to six weeks only, for his enemy Jules 
had not been badly hurt after all, and in hospital had 
soon recovered. Zelie had given evidence against her 
former friend, and there had been a terrible scene in 
court, the prisoner flinging denunciation at her head 
and vowing vengeance upon her. Bibi was a dangerous 
character, there was no doubt of that. It would be 
well for Owen to be safely out of the country. 

But Owen's infatuation had increased as time passed 
on. The girl's very fierceness, her utter lack of the 
moral sense, her passionate nature, seemed to enthral 
him. Robin, not knowing the truth, was yet afraid. 
He was keenly anxious to save his friend from a 
dangerous liaison. 

One good thing Zelie had done, however; Owen, 
having found the model that he desired, had been 
induced to work. He had finished his picture the 
picture of a chamois hunter treading in pursuit of his 
quarry a dangerous, precipitous path, whose steps had 
been arrested by the apparition at a turn of the way 
of that wonderful siren of the mountain, that evil, 
alluring creature, to the conception of which Zelie alone 
had been able to give expression. It was an astonish- 
ing piece of work, full of weird symbolism, and it had 


been accepted for the Salon ; but at present it was still 
in Owen's studio for the finishing touches, where it 
was to remain for another week or so. All who had 
seen it declared that it would make the young artist's 
name and set him on the high road to success. 

Owen Mayne, however, did not look upon his pros- 
pects as far as accepting his aunt's invitation was 
concerned in the same light as Robin. He wanted 
the money, wanted it keenly, but scoffed at the implied 
obligation to an alliance with a girl whom he had never 
seen in his life and who, to judge from her photograph, 
was the very opposite to Zelie. 

Under these circumstances he had approached 
Robin with the remarkable suggestion that the latter 
should take his place and present himself at Selwood 
Manor in the character of Mrs. Alderson's nephew. 

"Don't you see, Robin," he urged, "there's no diffi- 
culty or danger whatever? It isn't as if you need 
really marry the girl at all. My aunt can't live another 
three months, and so all that you have to do is to make 
yourself very amiable, to get engaged to Miss Perci- 
vale, and then, after the old lady has made her will in 
her nephew's favour and peacefully departed this life, 
find some excuse for breaking off the marriage." 

Such was the proposed plot, and Owen had done 
his best to induce his friend to accept it; but Robin 
shook his head with decision. His "no" was final. He 
would not be party to so mean a trick. Besides, Owen 
must be induced to accept his aunt's proposal. It 
would be his salvation. 

Robin stared out of the window, inwardly pronoun- 
cing a curse upon Zelie. She was there, basking in the 
garden, lying her full length on the small grass-plot, 
letting the sun pour down on her, and she looked like 
a sleek tiger-cat; she appeared to be bathing herself 


in the hot rays just as cats do, stretching out her lazy 
limbs and blinking her eyes, those hazel eyes that had 
such strange green lights in them. 

To Robin she was as evil and sinister-looking as one 
of Aubrey Beardsley's creations. She made his flesh 
creep, and he could see no beauty in her tiny, sharply- 
cut face, with the crimped brown hair falling in heavy 
waves on each side. 

Owen rose leisurely from his chair and joined his 
friend by the window. Here Zelie immediately caught 
his eyes. 

"Doesn't she look beautiful," he muttered, "stretched 
out on the turf like that ? Those slim, wonderful limbs 
of hers, half hidden, half revealed, moulded to her 
gown, her whole body drinking in the sun?" 

Owen spoke with all a lover's passion, then he gave 
a short laugh and pulled out from his pocket the little 
carte-de-visite photograph which had been enclosed in 
his aunt's letter. He handed it to Robin. 

"That's the girl's likeness," he said "Lavender 
Percivale Aunt Anne's adopted daughter. Can you 
imagine a greater contrast to Zelie than this poor little 
prim Puritan?" 

He smiled contemptuously. It was obvious that he 
saw no beauty in the pure oval face, the soft parted 
bands of hair, and the sensitive lips ; he missed the look 
of fierce, restless passion that distinguished Zelie. 

Robin studied the photograph carefully, an expres- 
sion of infinite tenderness coming into his eyes as he 
gazed upon it. "How like she is how like," he sighed 
to himself, "it is as if Claire lived again !" The memory 
of a dead and gone romance had been aroused in him ; 
for a few moments he stood speechless, living in the 

Owen noticed nothing he was staring at Zelie. "A 


poor little cold thing, isn't she?" he said, alluding to 
the photograph. "Not my sort at all. All the same, 
Robin, since you won't take on the job, I must, though 
there'll be the devil to pay if Zelie gets wind of it. 
She's jealous, you know, and rather given to making 
passionate scenes. I like her for it." 

Robin started and frowned. "You wouldn't be such 
a blackguard, Owen ? It would be a cruel thing to let 
the girl fall in love with you unless you intend to 
marry her in the end." He rested his hand upon his 
friend's shoulder. "But you will, old chap ; it would be 
absurd to ruin your life for such a woman as Zelie. 
I've got to see that you don't do it." Robin could not 
forget his debt of gratitude. 

Owen gave his friend a sidelong glance and laughed 
queerly. "Oh, faithful mentor," he exclaimed, "guard- 
ian of my morals ! So you would steer me into the safe 
haven of matrimony with the little Puritan! Well, 
'well so be it. Beggars can't afford to be choosers, 
and money I must have." He did not say so, but it 
was of Zelie he was thinking, it was for her he needed 
his aunt's fortune. "And I tell you what, Rob," he 
added, "you shall come to England with me see me 
through a difficult job. I can easily write and say I am 
bringing my best friend, a fellow artist." It had oc- 
curred to him that Robin's company might be of service 
if there was trouble with Zelie later on it would not 
be hard to make his friend the scapegoat. 

Robin's eyes were fixed upon the photograph, which 
he held in his hand. He was about to reply, but 
checked himself abruptly, for Zelie had risen and was 
walking towards the window, her small, cruel-looking 
face thrust forward, her white, slim hands making 
swift darts at the butterflies that flew about butterflies 
all blue and white. 


"What are you talking about, you two?" she de- 
manded curiously, half closing- her eyes. Her tight cot- 
ton gown hung closely about her limbs, and her dress 
was open at the throat ; there was a bizarre fascination 
about her thin, peaked face. 

"We were discussing a possible run over to England 
for a week or so," Owen replied lightly. "Robin has 
just suggested it. He thinks he would like to see his 
native land again, and I've got some relatives in Eng- 
land, you know " 

Zelie glanced at him keenly somewhat suspiciously. 

"Well, you can go if you want to," she answered. 
Then she made a swift movement of her hand and 
caught at the photograph that Robin was still holding. 

"Mon Dieu, who is this?" she demanded. "I do 
not know her she is like a little wax saint." 

Her eyes flashed dangerously, and she turned on 
Owen. "Do you know this girl ?" she inquired, "or does 

Owen laughed uneasily, the blood mounting to his 
forehead. But before he could speak Robin had re- 
gained possession of the photograph, claiming it as 
his own and making some laughing remark which suc- 
cessfully averted the girl's suspicions. It would not do 
to arouse Zelie's jealousy yet not till Owen was safe 
in England and out of the way of temptation not till 
everything was settled. 

When they parted late that afternoon all the details 
of the visit to England had been arranged. Zelie was 
to stay with a married friend at Versailles. She offered 
but little opposition, and it struck Robin that the pros- 
pect of a week or so of freedom was not distasteful to 

"You'll play fair, Owen ?" Robin gripped his friend's 
hand tightly as he bade him good-bye. "This girl 


Miss Percivale is sweet and pure you can tell it 
from her likeness. It would be a sin to hurt her." 

And Owen, married man though he was, gave the 
required assurance, gave it with that easy charm of 
manner that distinguished him. "You'll be with me 
to see all's fair," he added with a laugh. 

When his visitors had departed Robin Clithero took 
the photograph of Lavender Percivale and laid it on 
a table by the side of another photograph, one that 
was faded and yellow. He sat, gazing from one to the 
other, till the room was in darkness. There were tears 
in his eyes. 


A FORTNIGHT later Zelie was in Paris once more. She 
had soon tired of the humdrum provincial life with her 
friend, Berthe Lecomte, late of the "Parnasse Cafe 
Chantant," but now respectably married and with no 
higher ambition than the welfare of her common-place 
husband and her two fine, healthy babies. It was 
deadly dull at Versailles, and Zelie was one of those 
who crave for constant excitement. 

It was as the breath of her life to her. Ever since 
she could remember, she had lived in an atmosphere of 
stress and storm, buffeted by breakers over which she 
had nevertheless ridden, laughing and mocking at their 
efforts to engulf her. Owen had imagined another 
picture for her; she should be sitting astride a piece 
of wreckage tossed on an angry sea a white, defiant 
nymph of the depth with arms outstretched and a trail 
of black hair floating behind her. There should be dead 
men's faces in the water, too, drift and jetsam, a dark 
sky and the streak of lightning. But the nymph should 
be laughing laughing as Zelie laughed. 

Just now, however, Zelie was more than ever in a 
condition of unrest. Until her meeting with Owen she 
had imagined no existence for herself outside her own 
narrow, if tempestuous sphere. Her intelligence was 
limited by the cafe, the brasserie, the slum, and the 
gutter. She did not understand the art that inspired 
her to dance. She had herded with the lowest of the 
low was of them, queen of the Apaches. All her 



instincts were animal and primitive. But now, since 
her marriage, she was beginning to open eyes of 

To begin with, Owen had compelled her to give up 
dancing in public, and, to a certain extent, had weaned 
her from the low haunts that she would still willingly 
have frequented. There was an easy excuse for this 
Bibi's friends might be on the look-out for Zelie and 
constitute themselves a danger. 

Instead, Owen had taken her to smart restaurants, 
he had driven with her in the Bois, he had shown him- 
self with her in the stalls of theatres on first nights 
when tout Paris was gathered together. She had 
aroused some attention by her bizarre appearance at 
once attractive and repellent her thin pixyish face and 
her lithe figure which she had the instinctive talent of 
draping to the best advantage. Zelie had felt herself 
marked out for observation and had taken pleasure in 
the fact. So she was absorbing knowledge, learning 
her strength, realising the dominion that women may 
hold over men she who had been content to yield her- 
self to the whims of a Bibi Coupe-vide and had 
imagined that this was all in the ordained order of 
things ! 

It was Owen who had insisted upon their marriage. 
The proposal had seemed absurd to her, and she had 
scoffed at it. But Owen was determined. He believed 
that by marriage alone could he make this fierce, un- 
tamed creature, who had fascinated him so strangely, 
really his own. Until the ceremony had been per- 
formed he was in constant dread lest she should weary 
and take herself out of his life as suddenly as she had 
come into it and this, perhaps, even before he had 
transferred her likeness to the canvas upon which now 
he set such store. For his picture, "The Chamois 


Hunter," had come to mean much to him. He saw for 
himself that it was a masterpiece. 

It was upon the picture that he relied for funds 
when the remains of his meagre patrimony had been 
expended. But the money had flown quicker than 
even he had anticipated. The situation threatened to 
grow acute when that strange letter, with its stranger 
proposal, from his aunt in England reached him. 
When, in company with Robin, he left Paris for Sel- 
wood Manor, he had handed over to Zelie practically 
all that remained to him. It seemed quite a large sum 
to the girl, and she accepted it joyfully enough. 

She had been given an address in London to which 
to write, but Zeiie was too illiterate to care to put 
pen to paper without special need. Owen, however, 
had written three or four times, wild passionate letters 
in each of which he proclaimed his anxiety to return 
to Paris, though he gave no hint of when that return 
might be ; also he vouchsafed no information as to his 
doings in England. 

Zelie was of a fiercely jealous disposition. It was in 
her blood blood that had in it some remote touch of 
the gipsy, Paris gutter-born as she was. Utterly with- 
out morals, she yet had the instinct to strike if she felt 
that her lover's affections were being alienated from 
herself. In her heart she did not blame Bibi Coupe- 
vide because he had vowed to kill her it was nature, 
as she understood it. 

It was partly jealousy which had brought her from 
Versailles to Paris. She was more than a little sus- 
picious of what this journey to England might mean. 
Owen and Robin had spoken so mysteriously together 
in English, of which Zelie hardly understood a word. 
There was that photograph, too she was not at all 
sure that it really belonged to Robin. He may have 


lied about it Zelie always lied herself when she deemed 
it to her interest. Could it be that Owen meant to 
desert her now that the picture was finished to desert 
her after forcing her to give up her means of regular 
livelihood? Dared he do so? She set her little white 
sharp teeth. Dared he? 

And so it was that jealousy as well as the desire 
for a few days' freedom brought her one afternoon 
to Owen's studio in the Rue Voltaire, the studio which 
adjoined his tastefully furnished, if small, appartement. 
The concierge, a garrulous old fellow, particularly 
proud of his knowledge of English, was glad to see 
her and conducted her upstairs. 

"And monsieur," he remarked, when, at Zelie's in- 
vitation, he had followed her into the little salon which 
opened directly upon the studio, "when does madame 
expect that monsieur will return?" 

Zelie shook her head impatiently. She didn't know. 
She had come, she explained, to look for a letter which 
her husband had left in his escritoire. 

This was, in fact, the object of her visit. She had 
noticed on the evening before Owen's departure that 
he had hastily thrust some papers away in a drawer 
and had refused to give her any explanation of them. 
She had made up her mind to look into the matter, 
and she had invited M. Blaize, the concierge, to accom- 
pany her in case his knowledge of English might be 
requisitioned. She had no sense of pride whatever. 

Blaize continued to chatter while Zelie opened the 
escritoire with one of her own keys she had already 
discovered that it would fit. The men would be coming 
in the next day, he announced, to remove the famous 
picture to the Salon. Did madame know that mon- 
sieur had already found a purchaser? So, at least, 


Blaize had heard. A large sum, too Blaize swelled 
with the pride of reflected glory. 

"Read this to me, M. Blaize." Zelie cut short the 
worthy man's harangue by handing him a letter writ- 
ten on thin paper. "It is in English ; translate it." 

Blaize adjusted his spectacle:, and moved to the light 
of the window. Then, not without difficulty, he spelt 
out the letter, while Zelie stood, palpitating with ex- 
citement, by his side. 

Her fears were realised. It was not long before that 
fact was abundantly clear. The letter was one written 
by Owen's aunt in response to that in which he had 
announced his acceptance of her proposal and his al- 
most immediate arrival at Selwood Manor with his 
friend Robin Clithero. 

"You shall receive a warm welcome, Nephew 
Owen," the old lady had written, "both from me and 
from Lavender, and I only live now in the hope that 
you and she may love each other love and marry." 

Zelie waited to hear no more. She snatched the 
letter from the hand of the astonished concierge and 
gave free vent to an outburst of uncontrollable pas- 
sion. As Bibi Coupe-vide had threatened her, so now 
she hurled menaces at Owen's head. Her language 
was as vile, as lurid, as that of which the Apache had 
made use. She was transformed all at once into a 
fury, the humanity in her absorbed by the sheerly 

"// me lache, le gredin" she gasped, as the horrified 
Blaize, after a vain effort to appease her, backed out 
of the room. "He means to desert me to marry an 
English girl. Ah ah, it was she of the photograph 
I guessed it from the first. A pink-and-white faced 
doll! But wait, my friend, wait. You are reckoning 
without Zelie." 


The spirit of destruction was upon her. She seized 
a fine Chinese vase that stood upon a pedestal close 
at hand and hurled it to the floor. "But wait," she 
repeated, fiercely, "only wait, my good Owen. Eng- 
land is not far away. I can follow you yes, I, Zelie. 
To-morrow I go to find you. And to-morrow prends 
garde see to yourself." 

She stood a moment erect, her hand clenched as 
though, indeed, her fingers held a dagger. "To-mor- 
row," she repeated slowly. "I am not of those whom 
one deserts. You shall learn it, M. mon man. See to 
yourself, for you will have need." 


THERE was no suggestion of tears in Zelie's eyes as 
she paraded the length of the little salon with the 
threatening stride of a caged beast. 

She thrust aside anything that intruded itself in her 
way. A little table, set out with fragile ornaments, 
soon followed the way of the vase; she trod broken 
fragments of glass and china under her feet; she had 
the desire, in her mood of wild destruction to break, 
tear, or crush everything that came within the reach 
of her cruel white hands. Did they not belong to him, 
these things? 

Suddenly she paused. The door of the studio, 
draped by a crimson Eastern curtain, stood partially 
open, and, through it, she had just caught sight of the 
picture upon its easel the picture which was to make 
Owen Mayne's name and fortune. To-morrow it 
would be packed up and transferred to the Salon had 
not Blaize said so? The woman's scarlet lips parted 
in a vicious, menacing smile as a thought flashed 
through her brain. Ah, it was well that she had come 
to-day ? 

Revenge! Why, she need not even wait till to-mor- 
row to begin her revenge. It was in her power to 
strike a blow at once here and now! 

She tore the curtain aside, digging her fingers, with 
their pointed nails, ruthlessly into its delicate fabric, 
and flung into the studio. 

It was in semi-obscurity, for the red blind was 


drawn over the broad sloping skylight. Zelie went 
straight to this and attempted to manipulate the cord, 
but failed to do so, and very soon abandoned the ef- 
fort. It did not matter: there was light enough for 
her purpose. Besides, the gloom was red-tinted, and 
it accorded with her mood. 

She stepped up to the picture the picture which, 
covered with a cloth, stood upon its easel close to the 
little platform where she had been wont to pose. There 
was a chair upon the platform, over the back of which 
hung a skirt and bodice; they belonged to her, and 
she remembered that she had not troubled to put them 
away. In the half-darkness they appeared huge and 
grotesque, like a doubled-up and headless figure. 

Zelie tore the cloth from the picture, stood a moment 
gazing at it, her teeth clenched, then drew up a high 
Moorish stool, and was about to seat herself when she 
noticed that Owen had left one of his pipes lying upon 
it. He was as careless of his belongings as she. Zelie 
muttered an ugly word, and swept the pipe to the 

Then, perched upon the stool, she resumed her ex- 
amination of the picture. Her eyes glowed opalescent 
as she realised that here before her, at her mercy, was 
the work that Owen prized so highly, the work into 
which he had painted so much of himself the child of 
his brain. 

She could see it quite distinctly now, her eyes accus- 
timed to the gloom. There sat the siren herself 
upon a narrow ledge of rock, white against the lower- 
ing blackness of the crags, her legs hanging over the 
precipice, her shapely arms entwined in the rich masses 
of black hair, from out of which peered the little, cruel 
face, so evil, and yet so alluring. 

The siren's eyes were turned up to the Chamois 


Hunter, whose path she barred. He was a strong, 
broad-shouldered fellow, clad in typical costume. The 
expression upon his good-natured face was one of sur- 
prise and wonder. Here, amid mountain fastnesses, 
at a bend of the way, he had encountered this mar- 
vellously white and tempting vision; his quarry had 
escaped him; the chamois could be dimly seen about 
to leap from a craggy height in the far background 
but he no longer thought of the chamois. 

Zelie had never read into the picture any more than 
she could actually see. It had no inner meaning for 
her. But now, as she gazed, some dim perception of 
the metaphor filtered into her brain. That siren was 
herself woman exemplified by her and it was in her 
power as with the spirit in the picture to lure man 
from his aims and ambitions, and to bring him to his 
knees before her. For her sake at her bidding he 
would throw himself into the gulf that yawned at his 
feet shatter himself upon the stones over which she 
could float unharmed. 

These things Zelie realised faintly, but she gave her- 
self no time to consider them. All she cared about 
now was that this was Owen's work, and that upon it 
he fastened his future hopes. Had he himself not told 
her so? 

Well, there should, at least, be an end to these hopes. 
Of so much she could be assured. Zelie rose from her 
stool and crossed the studio to a little cabinet where 
she knew that Owen kept all manner of articles which 
might come in useful for his painting; among them 
she had often noticed a fine, sharp knife of Spanish 
make, with a silver scabbard this would serve her 
purpose excellently well. 

Armed with the knife, she returned to the picture. 
Without another moment of hesitation she struck 


straight at the heart of the Chamois Hunter. There 
was a vague idea at the back of her brain that Owen 
had represented himself in this figure. The knife 
pierced the canvas, and Zelie gave utterance to a low 
snarl almost like that of a wild beast as she felt the 
blade sink in. 

Then, yielding once more to the frenzy of her pas- 
sion, she struck out right and left, rending the picture 
into strips, destroying in a minute of time the work 
which, fruit of inspiration as it was, could never be 

"This for you, Owen Mayne ami Phisto Monsieur 
my husband!" she cried, as she seized the rent edges 
of the canvas and tore them still further asunder with 
her fingers. "You have not done with Zelie yet. You 
won her love, and now you shall know that she can 
hate as well. Does it hurt that I have torn your 
.picture? Ah, but it is nothing nothing to the pain 
you shall bear!" 

Zelie was about to throw the knife carelessly aside, 
then she paused and thrust it into the bosom of her 
dress. There was a little red paint, she noticed, upon 
the scabbard, and it looked like blood. 

She had grown calmer now. She remained a short 
while longer, hovering about the studio and the other 
rooms of the appartement, picking up anything of 
value that she could find and that could easily be 
packed into a little hand-bag; then she carefully shut 
the door behind her and made her way downstairs. 

M. Blaize was in his office by the hall door, and he 
poked his head out when she appeared. 

"You are going, Madame Zelie?" 

She turned her head as she slipped through the small 
aperture in the great wooden door, the door that 
opened upon a paved court. "When the men come for 


M. Mayne's picture to-morrow, bid them take great 
care, M. Blaize," she said suavely. "I should grieve 
if any harm befell it." 

The concierge nodded. He watched the slim figure 
as it receded leisurely down the street. 

Zelie had not disappeared many minutes when 
Blaize, still standing by the door, was accosted by a 
young man of distinctly unprepossessing appearance. 
He wore a red muffler loosely knotted about his throat, 
and his peaked cap was drawn low over his eyes. 

"M. Mayne the artist does he live here ?" 

Blaize hesitated before he replied. He did not like 
the stranger's manner of speech. However, it was the 
concierge's duty to give information discreetly. 

"M. Mayne is not now in Paris. He is in England." 

"Ah !" The fellow nonchalantly kicked at the kerb. 
"And Mile. Zelie a friend of M. Mayne. You know 

Blaize had not been without experience of the type 
of man with whom he was speaking. He had been 
brought into unpleasing relations with other Apaches. 
Furthermore, nature had not endowed him with the 
quality of courage. He had an overwhelming desire, 
therefore, to bring the conversation to an end as 
speedily as possible. 

"Mile. Zelie is not in Paris, either." 

"She, too, is in England?" 

"Yes." It was the quickest way out of the diffi- 

"Give me the address." The words were practically 
a command. 

Blaize spread out his fleshy hands helplessly. "I 
don't know it I give you my word." 

The Apache drew a step nearer. There was menace 
in his tone. "That's a lie. You must have an address 


for forwarding letters. Give it to me. Write it 

Blaize was too timorous to resist. He remembered 
that former occasion. There had been murder done 
then. It was another concierge a friend of his own. 
With a shaking hand he took a scrap of paper and a 
pencil and wrote: "The Delphic Club, London." It 
was the only address that Owen had given him. 

Bibi Coupe-vide free once more snatched the 
paper from the concierge's hand, and, after glancing at 
it, thrust it into his pocket. Then with a muttered 
"Merci!" and a surly nod he lounged away. 

Over a glass of absinthe at a neighbouring cafe he 
scrutinised the writing again. "London," he muttered 
to himself. "Well, there's Alphonse Lereux settled 
comfortably in London. Alphonse will be delighted 
to see his old friend Bibi, and he's been making his 
fortune, they say." There was an evil smile on the 
man's lips as the thought flashed through his brain. 

"Yes," he continued, emptying his glass at a gulp. 
"Paris isn't healthy for Bibi just now. There are too 
many of Jules's friends about to say nothing of Jules 
himself. A change of scene is what's wanted. To 
London be it and look to yourself, Zelie, my dear 
when I find you !" 


ZELIE left Paris upon the following day, taking the 
train for Calais and London, and, for the first time in 
her life, turning her back upon her native country. 

Her first intention had been to travel the same night 
at once but it had been necessary for her to return 
to Versailles in order to get Owen's letters. She was 
not certain if he was in London or at the house of his 
aunt in the country he had certainly spoken of the 
country, but, on the other hand, she believed that he 
had written from London; at least it was certainly a 
London address with which he headed his letters. She 
verified this later as the Delphic Club which meant 
very little to her, and did not strike her as insufficient. 

There was no address at all upon the letter which 
she had carried off from the studio; it had been torn 
off, evidently by the young man himself. 

She wanted money, too, and to pack up her clothes 
and other necessities of travel. She had no intention 
of undertaking a journey without providing for her 
personal comfort. All of which rendered the delay 
necessary, a delay which, though she was blissfully un- 
conscious of the fact, saved her from a very unpleasant 
meeting for Bibi Coupe-vide only preceded her across 
the Channel by a few hours. Bibi, however, was very 
far from Zelie's thoughts just then. She had not even 
realised that he had come out of prison. 

Zelie found, on reaching Versailles, that Berthe Le- 
comte and her husband were away from home. This 



did not matter much. Zelie packed her things, taking 
all the money she had, and returned to Paris, putting 
up at a small and, truth to tell, rather disreputable 
hotel near the Gare du Nord, the proprietress of which 
was an acquaintance of hers. 

The journey was comparatively uneventful. Cer- 
tainly there was something of a scene at Cannon Street 
when Zelie, imagining that she had arrived at her des- 
tination, had got out on the platform with her belong- 
ings and had only realised her mistake just as the train 
was about to start once more. She had been bundled 
back breathless into the carriage, and had sunk down 
upon the seat muttering imprecations, in the coarsest 
Montmartre slang, upon everything that was foreign 
and English. 

There was a respectable British matron, with an 
insipid-looking daughter, travelling in the same com- 
partment, and they had cast horrified eyes upon her, 
guessing instinctively that her remarks were not good 
to hear ; it was, indeed, lucky for them that they could 
not understand. 

They had left the train at Waterloo, and Zelie was 
alone when she reached Charing Cross. She stared 
up and down the long platform, and realised nothing 
but bustle and confusion, all seen dimly through a haze 
of fog which had penetrated the station. 

"Is this London?" She ventured to ask at last of 
a red-bearded porter, who stared at her for a moment, 
and then, grasping the significance of the question, re- 
sponded gruffly: "Yes, miss, this is London, Charing 
Cross. You get out here. Tout-le-monde-descend." 
He spoke the words slowly and with emphasis, proud 
of his knowledge of the French language. "Shall I 
take your luggage, miss? Where are you going to?" 

Zelie had not the remotest idea. She had not given 


the matter a thought. She was utterly unaccustomed 
to travelling, had never been more than fifty miles 
away from Paris in her life. And now she was far too 
dazed to give any serious consideration to the question. 

In the meanwhile the porter had seized her hand- 
bag, and was apparently making off with it. Zelie fol- 
lowed him along the platform, protesting loudly. 
Luckily, at that moment help appeared in the shape of 
a liveried interpreter, who quietly took the case in hand. 
With his assistance Zelie was initiated into the mys- 
teries of the Custom House, her luggage was passed 
and finally taken charge of by a porter from a neigh- 
bouring hotel, Zelie having explained that she had no 
choice in the matter, and did not mind where she put 
up for the night. 

She was allotted a room upon the first floor, but in 
a far corner. It seemed to her as if she walked down 
interminable passages and corridors to reach it. She 
had never before been in a large and important hotel. 
The bustle and movement confused her made her 
head swim. 

She was most utterly out of her element and vaguely 
realised the fact. As was usual with her, she had 
acted wholly upon impulse, and had no definite plan 
whatever in her mind. She had vowed to find Owen. 
In many ways in her ignorance and lack of knowl- 
edge of the world outside her own sphere she was 
like a child. She was only old in vice. 

After an hour's rest, however, she felt refreshed and 
her spirits revived. She changed her dress, selecting 
a walking frock of grey, which suited her and which 
Owen had always admired. She paid a good deal of 
attention to her hair, fluffing it up over her ears in 
the way that he liked to see it, and her hat was one 
which he himself had selected for her. 


Owen, who had an artistic eye for what was correct 
and appropriate in a woman's dress, had been instru- 
mental in training her against the exaggeration which 
she might otherwise have affected. His love of the 
outre had prevented him from attempting to refine her 
in other ways, but, as far as appearance went, Zelie 
could hold her own. 

Never in her life, she told herself, had she felt so 
utterly alone as now. It was this that kept the fire of 
her rage against Owen aflame. She stared out of 
window at a narrow, dismal street with a strip of 
leaden sky showing dimly through the mist, and her 
heart yearned for the lights and the laughter of her 
beloved cafes. She craved for absinthe, too. 

But she had her work to do whatever it might 
prove to be and so, with a grim smile playing upon 
her red lips, she once more secreted about her person 
,the silver-mounted dagger, and made her way, not 
without difficulty, downstairs to the hall. Here there 
was the bustle of a recently arrived train, and Zelie was 
thrust that way and this before she ventured to make 
an inquiry at the office, where there was a young lady 
who spoke French. 

She asked how she could best reach the Delphic 
Club, and was advised, since she spoke no English, to 
take a taxi-cab. 

It was only a short drive, but Zelie, gazing out of 
window, found little to admire in what she saw. Where 
were the cafes, with their brilliantly lighted windows, 
their rows of little tables, their crowds of absinthe and 
beer drinking customers? Everyone seemed busy and 
in a hurry, even at this hour of the evening. She 
imagined that the Strand must be a quite unimportant 
thoroughfare. And she felt lonely, terribly lonely. 

She had but little time for reflection, however, for 


very shortly the taxi-cab turned into a quieter street 
and drew up at a lighted doorway. 

Zelie descended from the cab and walked boldly in. 
There were several men in the hall, who stared dis- 
creetly at this feminine apparition, but Zelie, holding 
her head high, addressed herself without hesitation to 
the hall porter. 

"I wish to see Mr. Owen Mayne." 

She spoke in French, and the porter stared, failing 
to grasp her meaning. This was a kind of visitor to 
whom he was unaccustomed. Zelie repeated her re- 
quest in a slightly louder tone. 

Luckily she found an interpreter in the person of a 
good-looking young man with closely-cut fair hair and 
clean-shaven face. He wore evening dress. 

"Can I be of any service?" he inquired, addressing 
her in her own language. "I'm afraid the porter does 
not understand you." 

Zelie was grateful. "I wish to see Mr. Owen Mayne," 
she repeated for the third time. This is the address 
which he gave me the Delphic Club." 

She spoke the words with a queer little lisp, and the 
Englishman raised his eyebrows with a semi-humorous 
expression. His keen eyes were scrutinising the girl's 
face, too he could not quite make up his mind whether 
she were repulsively ugly or astonishingly attractive. 

He spoke a few words to the porter. "I'm afraid 
Mr. Mayne is not in the club," he said then. "The 
porter tells me, in fact, that Mr. Mayne is not at present 
in London." 

"Ah ! Then he is in the country with his aunt," re- 
turned Zelie. "I shall have to go to him there. Will 
you kindly ask could they give me his address?" 

The Englishman raised his brows. This was really 
a very persistent young woman. There was a danger- 


ous glitter in her eyes, too. He was rather inclined to 
think that Mr. Owen Mayne, whom he did not know 
even by repute, was in for troublous times. 

He spoke to the porter again, then turned to the girl 
with a smile. "I'm afraid they can't oblige you with 
what you require," he explained. "It's against the rules 
of the club." 

"They won't give me the address!" Zelie's jaw fell 
and her eyes flashed with indignation. This was an un- 
expected set-back, and she was inclined to look upon 
it as a plot specially devised against herself. 

The young Englishman explained further. "It is 
not customary to give members' addresses. Of course, 
any letters are immediately forwarded if a request has 
been made for them. I understand that Mr. Mayne 
makes but small use of the club, that he is, indeed, only 
very rarely in England." 

, Zelie was asking herself what she was to do. She 
was tapping the floor impatiently with the toe of her 
narrow boot. The action aroused the attention of the 
young man. What remarkably small feet she had, and 
what a strangely lithe figure. He was beginning to 
think that she was quite attractive; the type was new 
to him, and novelty had a wonderful charm for Stephen 
Aldis. But what fierce eyes and cruel lips! 

It was at this moment, just as Zelie appeared dis- 
posed to give way to an outbreak of wrath, that an 
interruption occurred in the person of a big, broad- 
shouldered man, who wore a black beard, and who for 
some moments had been scrutinising Zelie from under 
peculiarly heavy brows. He had emerged from a room 
on the ground floor, and was putting a cloak on over 
his evening dress, evidently with the intention of going 
out, when the little scene that was going on by the 
porter's box had attracted his attention. 


"Unless I'm very much mistaken," he said now, his 
eyes still fixed upon Zelie, "I'm acquainted with this 
young lady." He smiled, his white teeth gleaming be- 
hind the heavy beard. Then he addressed himself di- 
rectly to the girl, speaking in fluent French. ''Isn't 
it Mile. Zelie of the Florian?" he inquired. "Yes, I'm 
sure it is." 

He extended a large, strong hand, which Zelie took 
readily enough. She had a vague recollection of hav- 
ing seen this big Englishman with his black beard and 
his bronzed cheeks before, though she could not recall 
the circumstances of their acquaintance. 

"Don't you remember?" he said, "I met you several 
times at the Florian, when I went there to see my friend 
Dubois, who runs the show? And the last time I ran 
across you was at Le Moulin de la Bonne Fortune last 
Shrove Tuesday. You were with my friend Mayne, I 
recollect, and he looked daggers at me because I dared 
to claim your acquaintance. So I made myself scarce 
pretty sharply, you bet." The man laughed broadly; 
he was possessed of peculiarly easy manners, and gave 
Zelie the impression of belonging to the Bohemian 
class to which she was accustomed. His presence, the 
tone of his voice, seemed to charm away the sense of 
loneliness which had been oppressing her it was like 
coming across an oasis in the desert. 

"I remember," she exclaimed. "Yes, I remember 
quite well. But I have forgotten your name." 

"I'm Lord Martyn," he said ; then he laughed again. 
"Queer thing, eh? You wouldn't believe it of me. 
But it's a fact. However, all my friends call me Harry, 
too, if you like." 

Zelie remembered now with something of a thrill. 
This Milor Anglais had been introduced to her at the 
disreputable little cafe where she had been wont to per- 


form, and she had been told that he was immensely 
wealthy a millionaire. She had noticed him in the 
theatre, before he had actually spoken to her, on more 
than one occasion. She had fancied he stared at her. 
He was eccentric, she had been told ; but then, are not 
all the English eccentric? 

"You disappeared altogether after that night," Lord 
Martyn continued. "What the deuce became of you? 
I went to the Florian, because I had an idea in my 
mind in which you were concerned. But they couldn't, 
or wouldn't, tell me anything. And now what are you 
doing in England, eh here at the Delphic, of all 
places? Is it that rascal Aldis who has brought you? 
I'm surprised at you, Steve." 

He slapped the other man heartily on the back. 
But Steve Aldis hastened to repudiate the suggestion. 

"I'm afraid I can't claim acquaintance with this 
lady," he said. "She came to the club to ask for a 
man named Mayne, who doesn't happen to be here. 
I don't know him, so couldn't help her." 

"Owen Mayne? That's the chap I spoke of just 
now," returned the big man. "I didn't know he be- 
longed to the Delphic, for he was always a fixture in 
Paris. But he's a friend of mine and ought to be 
pretty grateful to me, for I did him a good turn quite 
lately." He chuckled at the recollection. "I was the 
means," he continued, "of bringing him and his aunt, 
dear old Mrs. Alderson, of Selwood Manor, together. 
And that means a lot for Owen Mayne, I can tell you." 

Selwood Manor! That was the name of the place 
which Owen had mentioned as his destination and 
which had escaped Zelie's memory. She had learnt 
what she wanted to know in most unexpected fashion. 
And now some intuition within her told her that she 


must be discreet and not betray the purpose of her visit 
to England. 

"My own place is near Selwood, within five miles of 
it," Lord Martyn resumed, "so I often see Mrs. Alder- 
son, who is the dearest old lady on the face of the 
earth." Here he broke off suddenly and cast a sharp 
glance at the girl from under his bushy brows. "But 
what's the idea in asking for Owen Mayne?" he in- 
quired. "What do you want of him, eh ?" 

Zelie could lie readily. She lied now. It was evident 
to her that, if she betrayed her real purpose, her true 
relationship to Owen Mayne, she might well be re- 
garded with disfavour. 

"I came to England to look for an engagement," 
she said readily. "I thought a change would be agree- 
able. And Monsieur Mayne, he promised that he 
would help me." 

"Ah, that's it, is it?" replied the man, with some 
relief in his tone. "Well, if it comes to that, I expect 
I can do more for you than Mayne could." He glanced 
at the clock. "But, look here," he resumed, "you'd 
better come along with me and have some dinner. As 
it happens, I'm free to-night. Then we can talk it 
over. What do you say?" 

Zelie eagerly accepted the invitation. Lord Martyn 
turned to the younger man. "Will you come, too, 
Steve?" he asked. 

Stephen Aldis hesitated. "I had an engagement," 
he faltered. Then his eyes met those of Zelie. "Yes, 
I shall be very happy to join you," he said. 


IT was not yet eight o'clock, and so, a sudden inspira- 
tion that it would be the right thing seizing her, Zelie 
paused before stepping into the motor brougham, which 
was awaiting Lord Martyn, and asked whether it might 
not be possible to return to the hotel first in order 
that she might change into an evening gown. 

She had an intuitive feeling that this meeting would 
be fraught with great consequences. Her brain worked 
quickly within its groove and she was naturally 
shrewd. The English Milor was a man of great 
wealth; at the Florian, as she remembered now, they 
had spoken of his generosity, as well as of his eccen- 
tricity, with bated breath. And he was palpably in- 
terested in her; she was sure of that, too, both from 
what he had said and by the way he had looked at her 
out of those keen grey eyes of his. 

And so she wanted to look her best. She was 
heartily thankful that she had not left Paris in a hurry, 
but had had the good sense to pack up her most be- 
coming gowns. 

Lord Martyn assented with a smile. "It will be 
ever so much better," he said. "Not that I mind for 
myself I once took a flowergirl with a red shawl over 
her shoulders to lunch at the 'Regent' but since it 
will be your first appearance in public in London, Zelie, 
you're bound to be stared at." He knew from experi- 
ence that any woman would be stared at who happened 
to be in his company. "If you've got a really smart 



frock," he added, "we'll go to the Pallanza. That 
will be a good opening." 

And so the little party of three drove to the hotel, 
where Zelie left the two men to discuss aperitifs in the 
lounge while she found her way, not without con- 
siderable difficulty, to her bedroom. She had noticed, 
with delight, as she passed with her companions 
through the hall, that they were recognised, and that 
she herself appeared to be regarded with new respect. 

She laughed to herself as she allowed her grey walk- 
ing dress to slip to the floor, and laughed again 
triumphantly, as she stood up, bare-shouldered, to gaze 
at her reflection in the mirror upon the dressing-table. 

"Queen of the Apaches," she muttered, " a siren of 
the mountains what next? Who can say?" Owen 
Mayne and her revenge had no part in her thoughts 
at that moment. 

But presently she turned petulantly away from the 
mirror. There was a flaw in the glass, and it seemed 
to distort the face that looked back at her. It was as 
if the red lips sneered. 

After a few minutes she moved to the window, and, 
drawing the blind aside, gazed down into the street. 
It was as if she obeyed some irresistible impulse, for 
she had already gauged the unattractiveness of the 
scene without. 

Narrow though the street was upon which she looked 
there was yet considerable traffic in it. Zelie gazed 
idly up and down. The fog had cleared away some- 
what, but thin rain was falling and the pavement was 
damp and greasy. There was a brilliantly lighted 
tobacconist's shop just opposite, and beyond that several 
dark houses. 

It was in the shadow of one of these that Zelie of a 


sudden caught sight of a figure that had a strangely 
familiar aspect. She drew a deep, panting breath. 

"Mon Dieu," she muttered, gripping at her throat 
with nervous fingers. "Bibi! But it isn't possible 
it isn't possible !" 

The man stood there motionless, unaffected by the 
movement about him. Zelie could almost imagine that 
he was gazing up at her window. It was almost as if 
he held her eyes with his. 

Of course, it was an accidental resemblance or so 
Zelie told herself but straightway and without volun- 
tary effort her thoughts flew back to a sordid garret, 
and it seemed to her of a sudden as if there were a 
sharp pain in her shoulder where once she had been 
struck by the knife of her Apache lover. 

"A Bibi pour la vie." The tattoo marks upon her 
arm, the bare white arm that held the blind back, 
sprang into aggressive prominence. For life! And 
Bibi had threatened her she could see his face now 
as, in court, he had poured out imprecations upon her 

Supposing only supposing Bibi Coupe-vide should 
be following her as she was following Owen Mayne 
Bibi, with vengeance in his heart and a sharp knife 
hidden somewhere about his person! 

Zelie allowed the blind to flap back to its place. 
"It's a delusion," she told herself. 

But Zelie was wrong. It was no delusion. It was 
Bibi himself whom she had seen, though he, of course, 
was unconscious of her eyes fixed upon him. 

Bibi had loitered all day about the Delphic Club 
on the chance of meeting Owen Mayne. He had been 
afforded no information at the club itself, had, indeed, 
been treated with considerable abruptness, and, un- 


fortunately for him, he could not apply the methods 
which had been so successful with M. Blaize. 

And so it had come about that, unseen, he was 
witness of Zelie's visit to the club. He had watched 
her departure too, and had tracked the brougham, 
the progress of which was slow, through the traffic to 
the hotel. 

Bibi Coupe-vide had struck the trail. But Zelie, as 
she selected her smartest gown, laughed to herself 
at the delusion which, for a moment, had frightened 
her. No in spite of that mark upon her arm she was 
rid of Bibi for ever. So she assured herself in her 


"I DON'T know what to make of her. I've never seen 
anyone quite like her before and I've had experience 
of women too." 

So spoke Stephen Aldis. He was an actor by pro- 
fession, and had achieved something of a name as 
"juvenile lead." His good looks had made him a 
great favourite with women, and he was always inun- 
dated with letters from feminine admirers. So he only 
spoke the bare truth when he claimed a knowledge of 
the sex. 

Lord Martyn and Stephen Aldis were sitting in the 
lounge of the hotel, waiting for Zelie. She had already 
been the best part of half an hour changing her dress, 
but that was only what the two men had expected, 
and, after all, there was no hurry. 

"She is uncommon," mused Lord Martyn, pensively 
sipping his aperitif, a remarkable and potent concoc- 
tion of his own invention. "Uncommon is perhaps 
not altogether a strong enough word. One might say 
that there is something hardly human about her." 

"Yes, I feel that," returned the other, bending for- 
ward to light a fresh cigarette. "My first impression 
was very distinct I told myself I had never seen so 
repellent a creature. But, then, when she looks at 
you out of those black, shining eyes of hers you feel 
magnetised, as it were. And then her lips have you 
noticed her lips, Harry?" 

Lord Martyn stroked his black beard with a hand 


that was white and strong. "Look here, young man," 
he said gravely, "you'd best not think too much of 
Mile. Zelie's eyes and lips. They are dangerous. 
Those lips of hers by themselves are like a red danger 
signal. You're a man of experience, and a word to 
the wise it's an old saw, but true." He blew a cloud 
of smoke from his mouth and stared for a moment at 
the long black cigar he held between his fingers. Lord 
Martyn's cigars were always the terror of his friends. 

"Do you know why that woman is different to 
others?" he resumed, after a brief pause. "Do you 
know what it is that she lacks?" 

For a moment Aldis had been inclined to resent being 
preached to but he knew his friend's outspoken way. 
He shook his head. 

"She lacks the one thing that makes human creatures 
human," was Martyn's reply. "She hasn't got a soul. 
She's like a wild animal in the shape of a woman 
or perhaps a snake. In Paris they called her Zelie la 
Couleuvre, though I expect that was because of her 
lithe and subtle body. You should see her dance, 
Steve I tell you she writhes from feet to head, and 
as for her arms, when she folds them about her, they 
are like two clinging serpents. I went to see her night 
after night at the Florian. She fascinated me. I 
meant to take her in hand then, but, as I told you, I 
lost sight of her." 

"It's jolly interesting," said Aldis, "and a woman 
without a soul is by way of being a novelty, what? 
You're always discovering queer types, Harry ; it seems 
to be a speciality of yours. What do you propose to do 
with Mademoiselle Zelie now you've found her?" 

"Launch her on the English stage, of course," re- 
sponded Martyn promptly. "I tell you the British 
public, the staid and Puritan British public, will rise 


and proclaim her a heaven-born genius. She'll make a 
fortune for herself and for the theatre that brings her 
out. Society is craving for a new sensation, and there's 
a tendency to look for it in the gutter. We are ready 
to exalt the Apache and the Hooligan. We've seen a 
lot of imitations but Zelie is the real thing cruel to 
her finger-tips, without a moral sense about her, reek- 
ing of the slum, offspring of what and what only 
Heaven or the devil knows, vicious because vice is 
her nature. What can Society ask for more than that?" 
The man spoke with biting sarcasm. "Even Dubois 
of the Florian gave her a bad character," he went on ; 
"said she associated with thieves and worse. There 
was a charming gentleman I saw in her company 
Bibi something or other a regular Apache. But 
Zelie has evidently gone up in the world since then. 
She's been looking about her and learning things. It 
makes her all the more dangerous for those who can't 
see behind the veneer." 

"For, in spite of veneer, she hasn't developed a soul," 
mused Aldis. "I can see that you're right there, 

"No, and it's just because she hasn't a soul that she 
will go so far. You mark my words, old fellow, for 
I know what I'm talking about. I've come across the 
type before in my wanderings. I've met it in Mexico 
in the East I've seen it in London. I've recognised 
it among the highly-born and among the scum of the 
people. It very rarely comes to the surface, so the 
world doesn't know of it. As a rule, it dies as it has 
lived dies, as Zelie might, in some filthy court, in the 
workhouse, in an asylum for the insane, or perhaps by 
the knife of one of its fellows. It is women of this 
type who take to drugs, who commit all manner of 
secret sin. Put power into the hands of such a one and 


she will ride rough-shod over humanity she will 
crush it down beneath her cruel heels. That's because 
she is soulless. But woe betide the woman woe be- 
tide Zelie if ever a soul is born within her. For I've 
seen that, too yes, my God, I've seen the tragedy of 
a new-born soul !" 

Lord Martyn had been speaking with more feeling 
than he was wont to show. As a rule, he adopted a 
tone of careless insouciance. 

He was a man who knew the world better than most. 
He had probed it to its very depths. Wealth had come 
to him by his own efforts ; he owed nothing to his birth 
and parentage. 

The inheritance of a title had not seemed even re- 
motely possible. It had come about through an alto- 
gether remarkable series of accidents and sudden deaths 
which, all unexpectedly, placed him in the position of 
next-of-kin. He was living somewhere in the wilds of 
Mexico at the time, and there had been considerable 
difficulty in finding him and bringing him over to 
England in order that he might claim his rights. That 
was barely three years ago, and to the cosmopolitan 
Henry Flint, the builder of his own fortune, it seemed 
an excellent joke that he, of all people in the world, 
should be expected to take his place in the midst of a 
county society that was eminently staid and respectable. 
Chamney Castle, the ancestral seat of the Martyns, 
was on the border of Buckinghamshire, and the new 
baron was, at first, regarded with anything but eyes 
of favour by the neighbourhood. His reputation had 
preceded him. 

Born in a miners' camp, he had been left an orphan 
when little more than a child. He had learnt to face 
and fight the world at a time when other children were 
scarcely out of the nursery. Fate had treated him 


kindly perhaps because he had always scoffed at 
Fate. He had built up a fortune for himself by devious 
ways no one knew exactly how, though he had no 
lack of candour in speaking of himself and his affairs. 

He had ranched in Texas, he had mined in the 
Yukon, farmed in Canada; he was the hero of a cele- 
brated "corner" that had shaken Wall Street to its 
very foundations; there was scarcely a part of the 
world, civilised and uncivilised, of which he could not 
discourse from personal acquaintance; he had pene- 
trated further into the heart of Asia than most ex- 
plorers; he could adapt himself to his environment in 
the most remarkable manner, equally at home in the 
jungle, in the Quartier Latin, and in Pall Mall. 

But he had a fine disregard for the conventions, and 
was not afraid of proclaiming his unorthodoxy. He 
shocked his respectable neighbours by his outspoken 
criticisms of them, as well as by the company he was 
wont to entertain at Chamney. He had no mind to 
cover himself with the veneer of artificiality. The 
most unpardonable sins in Lord Martyn's eyes were 
cant and humbug. 

As might well be expected, his life had been full of 
romance. It was hinted that he had a grudge against 
Society, a grudge which accounted for his attitude of 
contempt for humanity at large. 

Stephen Aldis emptied his glass. "I see," he said ; 
"and I think you are right in your deductions, Harry. 
You usually are. All the same" his eyes narrowed 
"isn't it a dangerous game that you propose to play ? 
Someone is bound to be hurt. Isn't it rather like letting 
loose a caged panther, nourishing a snake in order that 
it may sting? Hadn't Zelie better go back to her 
gutter ?" 

"What do I care?" Martyn shrugged his broad 


shoulders. "Society must look to itself. It's a fine 
sport, my friend, to play with fire. We all love it, 
grown-up children that we are; you and I are no ex- 
ception. You're quite ready to improve your ac- 
quaintance with my snake-woman I can see that." 
He smiled knowingly and continued: "What we crave 
for to-day is the new sensation, the something that is 
unlike anything that has gone before, the bizarre, the 
unnatural that's what Society demands not only upon 
the stage, but in everyday life in its very drawing- 
rooms. So you see, Steve, that if I give Mile. Zelie to 
the world, the world should be obliged to me." 

He spoke satirically, his white teeth gleaming be- 
hind his beard. "It's every man for himself, Steve, my 
boy," he added, "and every woman for herself. The 
eternal contest. The looker-on has the best of it 
especially if he can move the pawns." 

At that moment the subject of their conversation 
appeared in the doorway, and the two men rose quickly 
and joined her. Zelie had unconsciously dressed her- 
self to suit the part which they had allotted to her. She 
wore a demi-toilette, such as she had been accustomed 
to don when dining out with Owen at some smart 
restaurant. She had chosen black because Owen had 
always said that black suited her best. And Owen 
was an artist. The gown was moulded closely to her 
form and the bodice scintillated with jet. She wore 
heavy jet pendants in her ears. Her face, very white 
and pale in contrast to the black of her dress, peeped 
out from under a large picture hat, extravagantly 
adorned with ostrich feathers. 

Lord Martyn gazed at her critically and with appre- 
ciation. "You'll do," he said, abruptly. Then, as 
they were about to pass out of the hotel, he laid his 
hand upon her arm. 


"One moment," he exclaimed. "I think a touch of 
colour will heighten the effect." 

There was a flower stall by the door and here Lord 
Martyn purchased a rose in full bloom. It was the 
colour of blood. He pinned it himself into Zelie's 
bodice. She smiled as he did so, well pleased. 


A TAXI-CAB conveyed them to the famous Cafe Pal- 
lanza, the smart semi-Bohemian resort where Lord 
Martyn had elected to dine. It was already so crowded 
that they would certainly not have been accommodated 
with a table had not his lordship been well known to 
the cheery little proprietor a popular character and 
quite a celebrity in his own way. 

Zelie was excited, pleased with herself, conscious that 
she was looking at her best this, despite the fatigue 
of an unwonted journey and the desperate project 
which had inspired her to leave her beloved Paris. 
London was no longer a hateful place in her eyes, a 
city of fog, bustle and confusion. It was in her nature 
to live in the present, and the present was showing 
itself to be altogether delightful. 

Never before had she realised so fully the curious 
magnetism of her personality; never before had she 
received such open homage. She was keen-witted 
enough to understand that she was not in the company 
of ordinary, every-day kind of people; that fact was 
self-evident, if only from the manner in which they 
were received at the restaurant. 

Everyone had turned to look at them, and Zelie was 
happily aware that she was the centre of attraction. 
Such smart women, too, and such distinguished-looking 
men! How different it all was to the low cafes and 
brasseries which had been her haunt not so many 



months ago; she had never set foot inside a smart 
restaurant until she had gone there with Owen. But 
even then she had felt herself out of her element, de- 
pendent now she was free, her own mistress. She 
was possessed of a new sense it was that of power. 

She adapted herself with natural shrewdness to these 
fresh circumstances; she appeared calmly indifferent 
to the attention which she aroused. Zelie, in her black 
clinging gown and with the red rose at her breast, was 
a figure that people would have turned to look at any- 
where, but just now, since she was in the company of 
two such prominent figures as Martyn and Aldis, she 
was naturally subjected to the keenest scrutiny. 

People were making whispered remarks; she knew 
that they referred to herself and was delighted. She 
fancied she could read disapproval in the women's 
eyes, but the men ah, they turned their heads not once, 
but again and again. 

Lord Martyn was an adept at ordering a dinner. 
The food that was set before them was of the choicest, 
while the wine flowed as freely as Zelie could desire. 
Her heart warmed under the influence of it, and she 
gave free vent to her natural wild spirits. She threw 
restraint aside. She was herself, fierce, primitive, un- 
trammelled by convention. 

Martyn watched her through half-closed eyes, filling 
her glass whenever she held it out to him. There was 
a smile of amusement upon his lips. And Aldis it 
was as if the champagne or something else had got 
into his blood too. He was lifted, as it were, into a 
new element. The familiar restaurant was no longer 
the same. He might have been in the very heart of 
Paris. And Zelie was responsible for this. 

It was when dinner was concluded, and coffee and 
liqueurs set before them, that Lord Martyn, lighting 


up one of the strong, dark cigars that he affected, 
unfolded his plans. 

"You want to go on the English stage, Zelie?" he 
said. "You want to show London how you can dance ? 
Well, if I'm any judge, you'll make a success, and if 
I had not lost sight of you in Paris, I should have pro- 
posed your visiting England. It's just luck that we've 
met again. I shall introduce you to my friend Rad- 
cliffe, of the Star Theatre, who'll put you through 
your paces. But, in the meanwhile, I've got something 
else in view. I want you to come down to Chamney 
Castle, my place in Buckinghamshire, to take part in 
an entertainment which I am giving there on Thurs- 
day next. To-day's Saturday, so it's five days from 

He turned, with a half smile, to Aldis. "The 
Duchess is coming for the first time," he remarked, 
"and a lot of other county nobs. I guess Zelie will 
make 'em sit up. They'll either hate me more than 
ever or hail her as a genius it remains to be seen 

Aldis laughed heartily. "I'm glad you've extended 
an invitation to me, Harry," he remarked. He handed 
Zelie a pear as he spoke. "But if you ask my opinion, 
I don't mind betting that the Duchess of Shiplake takes 
to Zelie at once. She's a good sportswoman, the 
Duchess, and there's no humbug about her." 

The two men had been talking in English, and Zelie 
had been giving herself up to the contemplation of all 
that Lord Martyn's invitation which she had accepted 
at once meant for her. Now she sank her sharp 
teeth into the luscious fruit which Aldis had set before 
her, disdaining a knife, and her black eyes glittered 
and shone. 

For she had not forgotten that Chamney Castle was 


within a mile or so of Selwood Manor. She would 
meet Owen, and under what astonishing circumstances ! 
Ah! he would see that she had not suffered by his 
desertion of her ; that he had not hurt her as perhaps 
he imagined he had done. She could laugh at him and 
mock him him and his pink-cheeked saint! 

But she would have to wait a day or so longer, and 
it had been her instinct not to lose a moment more 
than could be avoided. Ah, but that was when the hot 
blood was surging through her veins, when every fibre 
of her being was quivering in the consciousness of the 
insult that had been offered her. She was no less vin- 
dictive now, as keenly anxious for that revenge which 
she had promised herself ; but Zelie looked about her 
and saw the smiling faces of her companions, the rich 
dresses of the women who thronged the restaurant, 
caught the glimmer of gems, the gleam of white, bare 
'shoulders. An invisible band made soft music in her 
ears, and in her nostrils was the perfume of flowers and 
femininity that peculiar, intoxicating scent which 
hangs over a fashionable assembly. She caught the 
light ring of laughter, and she was laughing too for- 
getful of everything save that she was Woman Tri- 
umphant, and that she had been brought to the thresh- 
old of her kingdom. 

Stephen Aldis watched as Zelie, regardless of appear- 
ance, continued to bite her pear. Those little sharp 
teeth had a fascination for him, none the less potent 
because he knew it to be morbid. Her eyes, too, with 
their indefinable emerald glint why did all the pulses 
of his body tingle whenever he felt that her eyes were 
turned to him ? 

It was ridiculous he ! Why, he was behaving like 
a mere schoolboy, and Martyn, observant always, would 
have good reason to laugh at him. "It's just because 


she's a new type to me," Aldis muttered to himself. "I 
expect the twentieth century is beginning to pall. With 
Zelie one thinks of primitive creatures in caves and 
forests, hardly human, and wholly cruel and unre- 
strained. Martyn is right. It's dangerous but it 

And so, regardless of the good-natured sneer with 
which his friend observed him, Aldis made no further 
efforts to keep himself in curb. The wine had mounted 
to his head, but it was not with wine that he was 
intoxicated so much as with the subtle, irresistible 
magnetism that emanated from Zelie. 

Aldis and Zelie were seated together on one side of 
the table, while Lord Martyn faced them. Close at 
hand was a staircase that led to a gallery where dinners 
were also served. This staircase was visible to Mar- 
tyn, but his companions had their backs turned to it; 
thus the latter did not perceive how two ladies, both 
very fashionably attired and wearing rich opera cloaks, 
paused and looked down over the banister at the little 
party below. 

Aldis had been making some laughing remark to 
Zelie, who sat, a cigarette between her lips, in her 
favourite attitude, her elbows resting on the table, her 
fingers crossed beneath her chin. The younger of the 
two women upon the stairs gave a little start, and 
her pink cheeks flushed as she recognised Stephen 
Aldis. She was very fair and almost doll-like in her 
artificiality, but she was a clever actress, and had al- 
ready made a name for herself or rather it was Aldis, 
with whom she had recently acted in a play that was 
a palpable success, who had brought her into promi- 

Lord Martyn realised the situation and smiled ; then 
he half rose in his seat and waved his hand. 


"There's a friend of yours been in the gallery all 
the time without seeing us, Steve," he said. "It's Miss 
Cuthbert. She's with Mme. de Freyne. What a piece 
of luck ! Mme. Eve is the woman of all others whom 
I most wanted to meet just now." He beckoned 
laughingly, as he spoke, to the two ladies, who slowly 
descended the stairs. 

Aldis had turned his head, too experienced to evince 
any agitation or annoyance. But he cast a glance over 
his shoulder at Martyn, with a suggestive drawing 
down of his lips. "I'd promised to fetch Cecily and 
take her out to dinner to-night," he said in a half 
whisper. "Who'd have dreamed that she must elect 
to come to the Pallanza?" 

The newcomers threaded their way to the table, 
where the two men rose to receive them. Zelie re- 
mained seated, her chin still resting on her fingers, the 
cigarette hanging between her lips. A certain defiance 
had sprung into her eyes. It was in her nature to 
regard her own sex with suspicion. 

Aldis was making his apologies as best he could. 
He told conventional lies in a graceful tone that forced 
conviction. He had been detained upon business, he 
explained, till he feared it was too late to carry 
out his promise; he felt certain that Miss Cuthbert 
Cecily would not expect him after eight and would 
understand. He had proposed to call later on and 
obtain forgiveness. 

Cecily Cuthbert was quickly mollified or perhaps 
she realised that it was politic to appear so. Stephen 
Aldis, in his quality of a manager, proposed shortly 
to produce a new play and there was a part in it which 
appealed very particularly to Cecily. Furthermore, a 
report had gone abroad which hinted that the hand- 
some actor-manager was really at last contemplating 


matrimony, and her name and his had been coupled 
together. Aldis had never troubled to contradict the 
rumour, though he knew of it; indeed, he had been 
particularly attentive to her of late. As for Cecily 
herself, she did not make any secret of her passion for 
the popular actor ; it was quite usual for Aldis's many 
admirers to express their devotion in exaggerated 

Cecily was a beauty of repute, and her artificiality 
was of her age. How can a woman be natural when 
she has to devote so much time to posing for her photo- 
graph? Cecily had already acquired that chief symp- 
tom of the disease the set smile. It was a pity, be- 
cause there was a good deal of humanity behind all the 
pretence and more than a little talent. 

Never, Aldis thought, had he seen greater contrast 
between any two women than between Zelie and Cecily, 
as Martyn introduced one to the other. A picture pre- 
sented itself spontaneously to his mind. It was that of 
a lap-dog, the pampered product of art and science, 
suddenly brought face to face with crude nature in the 
shape of a wolf. And yet, mysteriously, the same blood 
ran in the veins of both. 

It was true enough that Cecily had pleased and cap- 
tivated him even that he had seriously contemplated 
making her his wife. A good fellow at heart, he had 
been spoilt by too openly-exposed admiration. He had 
come to believe himself infallible with women. In her 
way Cecily was almost as much be-puffed and be- 
lauded as he yet she had held herself aloof for his 
sake. He knew it and was flattered. Besides, had he 
not given her her start on the stage, helped her to cut 
herself adrift from an uncongenial home-life emi- 
nently high-class and respectable in order that her 


talents might have full swing? He felt himself, in a 
manner, responsible for her future. 

And now well, his sentiments were wholly un- 
changed, but why should he feel annoyance at this 
meeting of Zelie and Cecily? He was unpleasantly 
conscious of Lord Martyn's satirical smile as the latter 
watched the two women. Did Martyn, too, see the 
analogy of the lap-dog and the wolf? 

The difficulties of introduction over, the whole party 
settled down again harmoniously at the table, and Lord 
Martyn proceeded to explain how Zelie had come to 
England with the idea of obtaining an engagement to 
dance on the music-hall stage. 

"Which brings me to my point," he continued, ad- 
dressing himself to Cecily's companion, a woman of 
middle-age, with a strong masculine face, keen steel- 
blue eyes, and a skin that looked as if it had been turned 
brown by exposure. "You, my dear Eve" he spoke 
with the familiarity of intimate acquaintance "are 
just the woman I wanted to see. I'm going to ask you 
to do me a favour and refuse at your peril." He 
shook his forefinger laughingly at her. "I know the 
tricks of the trade, you know." 

"Speak, oh, king," said Mme. de Freyne in mock 
heroic tone. She had a deep voice that harmonised with 
her appearance. 

"I want you to take charge of Mile. Zelie for the 
next three or four days at any rate. She's a stranger 
in London, knows nobody, and doesn't speak a word 
of English. She's putting up at present at the North- 
umberland Hotel. I'd like you to take her to your flat 
to-morrow. You're coming to Chamney next Wednes- 
day, so you could bring Mile. Zelie with you. I've 
got to run down on Monday myself, as that's the day 


the house-party begins to assemble. What do you 

"You want me to be Mile. Zelie's chaperon?" The 
journalist for such was Mme. de Freyne's profession 
puffed at her cigarette unconcernedly. She was 
always remarkable for her passivity of expression. 
Yet she had already, with characteristic rapidity, taken 
mental measure of Lord Martyn's new protegee. 

"That's the strength of it." Martyn spoke quickly 
and in English. "You'll be interested, Eve. The girl's 
a savage. She is coarse and ignorant, and hasn't a 
vestige of moral sense. But it won't be long before 
London echoes with her name. She is going to be the 
pioneer of Retrogression. We're all a bit over-civilised 
and are getting tired of it. We want a touch of primi- 
tive brutality. Society has been looking for something 
fresh to shock and delight it. Well, here we have the 
very thing Zelie!" 

Eve de Freyne's shoulders quivered a little, though 
her lips hardly relaxed. This was an indication, how- 
ever, that she was amused. Lord Martyn's utter 
cynicism always pleased her, for like him, she knew the 
world and had learnt to make mock of it. 

"All right," she said curtly. "I'm willing. And 
there's no reason why your protegee should stay at the 
hotel to-night. She can come straight home with me. 
We'll send for her things in the morning." 

"That will be much the best plan," agreed Martyn 
with an appreciative nod. "I can send you back in 
my brougham unless you've got your own out. It 
can pick me up at the club later on." He glanced 
across the table at Aldis. "Steven is fixed up for the 
rest of the evening," he added. 

"Thank you," responded Mme. de Freyne, "let it be 
your brougham. Cecily and I came in a taxi. She 


called round for me after she had waited the best part 
of an hour for that faithless swain of her. She was 
almost in tears. I suggested dining here to buck her 
up a bit." The shoulders quivered again. "I didn't 
anticipate this pleasant meeting. Say" Eve de Freyne 
professed to have American blood in her, and occa- 
sionally spoke with a marked twang "he was playing 
it up pretty thick your Steve as we came down the 
stairs ? I've always warned Cecily not to take him too 
seriously. But she's lost her head over him worse 
luck for her." 

Martyn shrugged his broad shoulders. "If any man 
should be able to take care of hiself it's Steve Aldis. 
It's his own look-out if he gets bitten he knows what 
he's doing. But it all goes to prove Zelie's powers 
and that I'm right in my estimate of her. So I look 
on and am amused." 

He turned to Zelie, addressing her in her own lan- 
guage. "Listen, my dear," he said. "Mme. de Freyne 
has very kindly offered you the hospitality of her flat 
while you are in London. You needn't even go back 
to the hotel to-night. It will be nicer for you, stranger 
to London as you are, to have a companion. And 
Mme. Eve can put you up to the ropes. She speaks 
French like a native her husband was a fellow- 
countryman of yours, you see. Now, I suggest that 
you two ladies have a little chat together, and I expect 
it won't take you many minutes to fix everything up." 

The necessary shifting of seats followed this sug- 
gestion, and Mme. de Freyne and Zelie were soon in 
intimate converse. The journalist possessed the qual- 
ity, when she cared to exert it, of gaining people's con- 
fidence, and Zelie, naturally suspicious of her own sex, 
succumbed sooner than might have been expected. 


She expressed herself happy to fall in with the arrange- 
ments that had been made for her. 

Supper parties were beginning to assemble before 
the little company thought of breaking up. The res- 
taurant, almost deserted for the last hour, was filling 
up again. Once more Zelie realised the scrutiny of 
curious eyes though it was Cecily Cuthbert, the well- 
known beauty, who attracted attention in the first in- 
stance. Still, it was upon Zelie that regard lingered 
most persistently. 

"Who the devil is that girl at the table with Stephen 
Aldis?" Martyn, leaning back in his chair and still 
smoking a black cigar, caught the words distinctly. 

"I haven't an idea," was the answer, "but you may 
well invoke the devil, old chap. I never saw such a 
wicked-looking little baggage in my life. There's 
something about her I believe it's sheer ugliness 
that well, I've not been able to take my eyes off her 
for the last ten minutes." 

Martyn smiled to himself, well pleased. 

They rose at last and trooped out to the vestibule 
where the men busied themselves helping the ladies 
with their cloaks. Cecily Cuthbert kept very near to 
Aldis; she had succeeded in monopolising him ever 
since her advent upon the scene, and Aldis was too 
good-natured and easy-going to allow her to realise 
how much he wanted to resume his interrupted 
badinage with Zelie. 

There were times, he told himself now, when even 
Cecily Cuthbert was capable of boring him. 

But he had promised to see her home she lived in 
a little house at South Kensington with a fellow 
actress and, of course, he must keep his word. He 
seized the opportunity, however, when Mme. de Freyne 


was bidding- Cecily good-night, to speak a few hurried 
words to Zelie. 

He held the small sinewy white hand which she ex- 
tended to him a little longer than was necessary. "So 
you are going to stay with our journalist friend?" he 
said in low tones. "Well, she's a good sort, and you 
couldn't be in better hands. But you must let me come 
and see you. I'm interested in you, you know. I agree 
with Martyn that you are going to take London by 

He lowered his voice almost to a whisper. "May I 
come to-morrow ?" 

Zelie gave a quick assent, her eyes dancing and 
flashing their strange green light upon him. "Come 
when you like as often as you like," she said, without 
any attempt to modify her tone. "Pourquoi non?" 
She broke into a laugh of sheer delight and excite- 
ment, a laugh that was inspired by the glamour and 
intoxication of the moment. "I like you, mon ami, 
I like you all. And your London ah, I am glad that 
I came to your London. For now I am going to live 
to live!" She clapped her hands together; for the 
moment she was like a child. 

Stephen Aldis laughed back and was about to whis- 
per a further remark; then, hearing his name pro- 
nounced, he turned quickly away. 

Cecily Cuthbert was regarding him with sombre 


"I HOPE we shall be friends the best of friends," said 
Eve de Freyne, as she drew her cloak closer about her 
shoulders, which were heavy and fleshy, and settled 
herself comfortably against the soft cushions of the 

The last adieux had been said, the final arrange- 
ments for meeting at Chamney made, and Zelie was 
now on her way to her new, if temporary, home. Her 
heart was still beating quickly with excitement and 
elation of spirits. For she felt that she had crossed the 
threshold of a new and wonderful world. 

"I never had a woman friend in all my life," she 
said naively, then she corrected herself sharply : "Tiens, 
yes, there was Nanon 1'Escargot that's what we called 
her because she had a hump on her back. Nanon "was 
good to me when I was a brat of a girl. She saw me 
dancing in the street to the music of an old fiddle 
it was Pere Requin who played it. I hadn't had a 
scrap of food that day, but I could dance, I could 
always dance. Nanon fed me and I stayed with 
her " Zelie broke off her story with some abrupt- 
ness " oh, for some months." 

"Why did you leave her ?" Mme. de Freyne put the 
question merely because she wante Zelie to continue 

"I got tired and ran away." The answer was given 
jvith a certain sullenness. "Nanon wanted to make 



money off me because I could dance. She wanted to 
tie me up. And then there was Chicot." 

"Who was Chicot?" 

Zelie gave a little toss to her head. "Oh, Chicot 
belonged to a brasserie out Belmont way. He said I 
was wasting myself with Nanon." Zelie neglected 
to mention that she had been incited by her Apache 
friend the one who had first "launched" her to rob 
her benefactress, who had been nearly murdered in an 
attempt to save the few gold pieces that she had stored 

"I used to dance at the brasserie and then go round 
and collect sous in a shell," the girl went on, in no way 
ashamed of her checkered career. Owen, indeed, had 
always encouraged her to speak of it, amused and in- 
terested by the lurid pictures of life in low places which 
Zelie would draw for his benefit. "It was rather 
amusing and my shell was always full silver, too 
but the old men, they gave the most. They did not 
know how I mocked them behind their backs the old 
gredins! But Chicot he took all the money and he 
beat me until one day I turned upon him and hit 
him it was with an iron bar his face was all over 
blood when he fell. And how he squealed! It made 
me laugh." 

"A return to the primitive, indeed !" muttered Mme. 
de Freyne to herself. "Harry was right." Aloud she 
said: "What about your parents, Zelie?" 

Zelie had never known her parents and said so 
frankly. Her very earliest recollection was of an 
orphanage, an asylum for unwanted children, which 
she had hated and run away from almost as soon as she 
could toddle. After that her home had been the gut- 
ter. She had been taught to beg by an old chiffonnier. 
To thieve had been natural to her. A little savage, 


she had grown up without respect of man or fear of 

Mme. de Freyne would doubtless have elicited more 
of Zelie's story had not the recital been unexpectedly 
interrupted. The motor brougham happened to be 
passing the Northumberland Hotel, when the elder 
woman, gazing out of the window, observed a crowd 
of people, together with several policemen, at the door. 
Without a moment's hesitation she tapped on the glass 
and told the chauffeur to stop. 

"What's the matter at the Northumberland?" she 
inquired of a policeman who was standing near at 

The man appeared to recognize her and civilly lifted 
his hand to his helmet. "I'm afraid there's been mur- 
der done, madam," he said. "Leastwise, there's some- 
one very badly hurt." 

Mme. de Freyne's professional interest was imme- 
diately aroused. "I must get out," she exclaimed, "and 
inquire into this at once. The Comet will be glad of 
an early report. Do you know any particulars ?" She 
addressed the policeman with characteristic brusque- 

"Not much, madam," she responded. "I believe 
it's one of the staff who's hurt. They found a man 
a thief, I guess lurking in one of the corridors. He 
was just about to go into a room when he was collared. 
But the fellow had a knife and used it. The alarm 
was given at once, only unfortunately the murderer got 
away. He threw down his knife and climbed out of 
a window, they tell me. He's probably still lurking 
somewhere about, for the whole thing only happened 
a quarter of an hour ago. We're bound to get him." 

"Thank you." Mme. de Freyne slipped a coin into 
the man's hand. "And now I think I'll go to the hotel 


and make some further inquiries. May the car wait 
for me here ?" 

The policeman shook his head. "Tell the chauffeur 
to turn round the corner," he said. "He won't be in 
the way in Bowen Street, and it will only be a few 
steps more for you to go." 

"Right." In a few hurried words Mme. de Freyne 
explained the situation to Z&ie. "I shan't keep you 
waiting long," she said. "It's professional zeal, you 

With which and a wave of her hand the journalist 
hurried up to the hotel. A word to the policeman on 
duty was sufficient to obtain her admission. 

Meanwhile the car was driven slowly round into a 
narrow thoroughfare at a little distance from the scene 
of the crime. The street was ill-lit, and to Zelie, 
gazing anxiously out of the window, it appeared to be 
a blind alley. The car halted by the curb and presently 
the chauffeur, taking a paper from his pocket set him- 
self to read it. 

Zelie had only dimly understood what Mme. de 
Freyne had said to her. A murder at the Northumber- 
land Hotel where she would have been staying had 
not other arrangements been made for her ? Had she 
heard aright? 

A vague fear came upon her. She remembered her 
fancy of some hours ago when she had looked out of 
the window and imagined she recognised Bibi. Bibi ! 
but that was absurd. For Bibi was far away in Paris 
even if he was not still in prison. Was it time for 
him to be out of prison yet? 

Presently a boy, who wore the livery of a page, 
appeared and spoke a few words to the chauffeur. The 
latter dismounted, and, opening the door of the 
brougham, addressed himself to Zelie, Of course, he 


spoke in English, and she did not understand what 
he said. But since he was evidently asking a question 
she nodded, and said, "Yes, please," which seemed to 
satisfy him, for he closed the door, and then, some- 
what to her alarm, disappeared with the page, 
moving off in the direction of the hotel. 

Zelie was left alone. She supposed it was all right, 
and that the chauffeur had been called away to speak 
to Mme. de Freyne; nevertheless, her nervousness in- 

She could not help thinking of Bibi. Had he come 
out of prison? The minutes passed slowly. She be- 
gan a mental calculation. It was in March that he had 
been convicted the end of March. Six weeks ! Why, 
of course suddenly she interrupted herself with a 
smothered scream, for the door of the brougham had 
been quietly very quietly opened upon the road side, 
and a white face a face that had a smear of blood 
upon one cheek was peering at her from the gloom 

She was staring into the eyes of Bibi Coupe-vide. 


THE door of the motor brougham had swung open 
now to its full extent, and Zelie, craning her body 
forward, her fingers digging into the soft cushioned 
seat on either side of her, was staring, wild-eyed, at 
the white, ill-omened face that presented itself in the 

The face with its ugly red smear upon the one cheek, 
with its dark hair that hung lank over the forehead, 
almost covering one of the eyes, with its snarling lips, 
with its look of a hunted beast the face of Bibi, the 

Then, in a flash, she realised that it was true that 
which she had vaguely dreaded when Madame de 
Freyne had told her of the crime at the Northumber- 
land Hotel. Bibi was the culprit, the man who had 
made his escape, and whom the police were now seek- 
ing. By some means he had traced her to the hotel, 
and it was for her that he was searching when he was 
interrupted with such tragic results. 

And now they had actually met. They were face 
to face she and the man whom she had ruthlessly 
betrayed and sent to prison, the man who had vowed 
to be revenged on her. 

She neither screamed nor lost her head. Zelie, at 
least, possessed the virtue of fierce, primitive courage. 
The necessity of facing dangers, of meeting attacks, 
had been instilled into her from her earliest years. 
Besides, Bibi was unarmed; had not Madame de 



Freyne spoken of a knife thrown away ? He was not 
a man possessed of any great muscular strength; all 
things being equal, Zelie was quite capable of holding 
her own against him. And, as it happened, she had 
the advantage. With a deft movement of her right 
hand she seized the dagger which was concealed in the 
bosom of her dress, and which she had carried ever 
since leaving Paris. 

Bibi was as surprised as Zelie herself. He had been 
lurking there in some dark corner, unable to find his 
way out of the impasse, and not daring, dishevelled 
as he was, to venture back into the main street. The 
police would be upon him in a few minutes, they would 
drag him out to the light, and his bloodstained hands 
and face would betray him. 

He had watched the arrival of the motor-brougham, 
had observed the departure of the chauffeur. Here 
was a woman alone and shelter. The police would 
never think of seeking him in so fine a carriage. It 
was a case for intimidation. The woman must be 
compelled to lend him her aid. He would frighten her 
into doing so. If all turned out as he hoped he would 
drive quietly away from the scene of his crime for 
the chauffeur was bound to return in a minute or two 
and so make good his escape. 

It was a desperate resolution, but he proceeded to 
put it into practice. And so he found Zelie. 


She uttered the name in an excited whisper. It 
was curious, but, of a sudden, all her desire was to 
save the fugitive from his pursuers. Her instinctive 
hatred and fear of "La Rousse" as she would have 
called the police came to the surface. It was one 
of the principles of her gutter education. And of Bibi 
himself she was no longer afraid. 


Furthermore, at that moment a couple of policemen 
had appeared at the corner of the street. Presently 
they were joined by a sergeant. There was no time 
to be lost. She stretched out a hand and, clutching 
Bibi by the sleeve of his coat, dragged him into the 

He fell on the seat by her side, staring vacantly and 
muttering under his breath. It was she who closed 
the door of the brougham, drawing it to with a smart 
click. Then she turned and looked at him, still hold- 
ing her knife under her hand, but sufficiently exposed 
for him to see it. He was hatless, his clothes were 
mud-bespattered, and she noticed that he had cut his 
hands doubtless when escaping from the window 
which accounted at once for the blood upon his cheek. 
He presented a pitiable appearance. 

"You're in a pretty state, my poor Bibi," she said, 
with more than a suggestion of contempt. "So you've 
been sticking your knife into someone and got the 
police on your track ? What did you do it for ?" 

"You know well enough," he retorted. "I came to 
London to find you. You were at that hotel. I saw 
you go in. I made some inquiry. Madame Mayne 
you called yourself, Madame Mayne! I saw red. I 
hid myself in an empty room no one interfered with 
me when I went upstairs. And when everything was 
dark and quiet I crept out. My hand was on the knob 
of your door when that pig laid his hand on my arm." 
The Apache ground his teeth together. "I settled him 
with one blow, but he screamed out, and then they all 
came running. I had to run, too." 

She laid her hand upon his arm. "Did you want to 
put the knife into me, Bibi?" 

He turned sombre eyes upon her. "Into him 
perhaps you too, if you resisted. I meant to take you 


back back to Paris with me. I'd have beaten you till 
you cried for mercy. You are mine, and I've the 
right." With a quick movement he seized her hand 
and threw back her sleeve as he had done once be- 
fore in Paris. "What's that upon your arm ?" he cried 
hoarsely, pointing to the tattoo mark. "You are mine, 
you belong to Bibi for life. Deny it if you can. And 
I want you. Don't you understand that? I have you 
in my blood." 

His fingers, with their sharp nails, dug into the soft 
flesh of her arm. To her the sensation was not un- 
pleasant. Brutality was second nature to her. She 
knew that what he said was true. If he could carry 
her off now if she should consent to go back to him 
he would take the first opportunity to beat her till 
she fainted, to kick her as she lay at his mercy. It 
would be a duty. Nevertheless, he loved her ; he "had 
her in the blood." 

Suddenly she put her finger to her lips. "Hush!" 

The police were parading the street, scrutinising 
every area, exploring every dark entry. Had Bibi re- 
mained where he had been for another five minutes 
he would inevitably have been discovered. As it was, 
the smart brougham, wherein was seated a lady in 
evening dress, did not present itself as an object of 
suspicion, and though the searchers passed close to it, 
even glanced through the shut window, they went on 
without deeming a nearer inspection necessary. Prob- 
ably they argued that something had gone wrong with 
the motor and that a wait in this quiet street was in- 
evitable. The absence of the chauffeur only lent colour 
to this idea. 

Zelie had spread out her skirt, and Bibi crouching 
in his corner of the carriage, was almost hidden from 
view. The danger was over for the present, but an- 


other would arise very shortly. The chauffeur was 
bound to return, alone or with Madame de Freyne. 
There was no time to be lost. 

"You don't want to give me up to the police ?" mut- 
tered the man. "You could have got rid of me that 
way for the second time. They'd have sent me to the 
gallows and there'd have been an end of it. But I'd 
have strangled the life out of you first if I could." 
He added the last words savagely, staring down at his 
bleeding fingers and glancing askance at the knife, 
which Zelie had placed on the seat by her side, within 
easy reach of her hand. 

"You may put the knife away," he went on, in the 
same tone. "I'm not going to hurt you. I want to get 
out of this with a whole skin. In a few minutes I may 
go." He turned sharply. "Where is he?" He laid 
strong accent upon the pronoun, supplementing it with 
a lurid expletive. 

Zelie laughed musically. "Owen Mayne?" she 
queried. Then she shrugged her shoulders. "Owen" 
she still pronounced the name "O-en" "Owen 
Mayne is a brute. I hate him." 

She understood the man with whom she had to deal, 
understood him thoroughly. Bibi Coupe-vide, follow- 
ing the instincts of his class, was only jealous of her 
love as he realised the meaning of the term. He did 
not mind what escapades she might be up to as long 
as her heart remained his and his pocket was well 
lined in consequence. To do her justice, she had evinced 
small inclination for fresh adventures since placing 
herself in the hands of Bibi, her earnings as a dancer 
being quite sufficient to keep him in the idleness that 
was dear to his heart. 

And now, quite suddenly, Zelie saw her way to turn 
this meeting, which at first had seemed so terrifying, 


to her advantage. She could have her revenge with- 
out herself incurring any danger. The weapon should 
be wielded by another hand, but it would strike as 
surely and perhaps more swiftly. 

Bibi would no longer be angry with her if he thought 
she did not love the Englishman, while it was in her 
power to inflame his wrath against the latter, by judi- 
cious lying, to a pitch of fury. Furthermore, she could 
play upon Bibi's cupidity. He was one of those who 
would commit any crime for money. 

As far as Owen was concerned she had no remorse. 
She had set out for England, knife in hand, to revenge 
herself upon him. 

She felt she hated him with a bitter hatred. Had 
she ever loved him ? Had she ever loved anyone ? She 
only knew that she loved herself best of all, and that 
she would willingly sweep all the world aside for her 
own advancement. 

And so Bibi Coupe-vide, whose hands were already 
red, might be turned to excellent account. If the 
police should secure him before he had time to do as 
she desired, well, then it could not be helped at any 
rate, he would be out of her way. 

"Bibi," she said ; "listen to me, mon gars. We must 
say what has to be said quickly, because my friends 
may return at any moment, and you must not be seen 
with me. You wonder that I say I hate this Owen 
Mayne. I do. I never cared for him. It was merely 
a little bit of fun, a lark a madness of Carnival night. 
I have wanted you, my Bibi, all the while." 

He laid his hands upon her bare shoulders and 
turned her so that she directly faced him. She met 
his eyes without flinching. 

"Is this true?" 

"True, I swear it. You are my adored Bibi." 


"You gave me up that night. It was you who set 
the police after me." 

"No, no," she lied, breathing hard, her bosom 
palpitating under the black corsage. "It was not on 
purpose. You thought so, but you were in error. I 
was frightened, for you. I thought another followed 
behind you, and I screamed. I could have bitten off 
my tongue, but it was too late. And then the next day 
and the next day and the day after that came this 
Englishman. He pestered me to sit to him. At last 
I consented. I thought you would never forgive me 
and that I had lost you. But I never loved Owen 
Mayne never. And at last I left him, left him of my 
own accord. For I had made other friends, you see, 
here in London. Big people, Bibi, rich and powerful. 
They say I can dance, that I will make money, heaps 
and heaps of money. You shall have your share, mon 
ami. But this Owen Mayne he will not leave me 
alone. He says that I shall not dance he wishes to 
keep me to himself. Ah, my dear, you can help me. 
You would have killed the Englishman and beaten me. 
You have no longer need to beat me who love you, 
but you can still kill." 

Zelie poured out her lies with astonishing rapidity. 
Her voice was soft and endearing, and she had the 
subtle movements of a cat. 

Bibi looked at his blood-stained hands. "And if I 
should escape from this mess," he asked slowly, "and 
should do as you wish, what do I get for it ?" 

Zelie had taken a lace handkerchief from her pocket 
and, after pouring a few drops of scent upon it from 
a tiny flagon, was rubbing the stain from the man's 

"Will you come back to me to your Bibi?" he 
asked grimly. 


She was brushing back the hair from his forehead 
now, smoothing and tidying it, while at the same time 
she kept anxious glance upon the window lest danger 
should come in sight at the end of the street. 

"Not yet, my Bibi," she murmured, in pouring, ca- 
joling tone. "You must not ask that of me for both 
our sakes. For look you, I am going to make much 
money London is going to ring with my name. They 
have told me so, my new friends. There is a Milor, 
Bibi a man of consequence. But I shall not forget 
you no. Your pockets shall be full of gold. Think 
of that, and what you will do with it at Montmartre. 

And one day I will come to you " she laughed 

"together we will go back to the old life. It will be 
like the old times. N'est-ce pas? For we shall be 
rich, and how we shall be envied !" 

The narrow eyes of the man glittered covetously. 
"You swear to me that this is true, Zelie?" he mut- 

She swore that it was true. She used all the arts 
she possessed to convince him of her sincerity. She 
painted a picture that made the mouth of the Apache 
water. All this should be his, but first 

"And you will give your heart to none? Bibi shall 
always be first? For if you fail me in this" he 
punctuated his speech with a vile oath "I will kill you 
yes without mercy, though I lose my head for it." 

She gave him the promise he required, gave it 
lightly, mindful only of gaining her immediate point. 
If Bibi executed her will he would have to flee the 
country, or perhaps he would be caught what did it 
matter? When the day came then would be the time 
to reflect not now. 

"Don't I prove my love, Bibi, when I ask you to 
rid me of this Owen Mayne?" 


"Where shall I find him?" 

The question was not an easy one to answer and 
time pressed. Bibi would need explanations which she 
at the moment was unable to give. 

"Tell me an address that will find you," she said 
hurriedly. "I will write. There is no time to go into 

"I'm with Alphonse Lereux," Bibi responded. "He's 
got a restaurant, Number 77, Conway Street, Soho." 
He brought out the unaccustomed syllables with diffi- 
culty. "That will find me unless the detectives get 
on my track." 

"They won't," Zelie said. Then she asked quickly: 
"Is that Alphonse the blackmailer?" She knew Al- 
phonse Lereux by name. He had left his country for 
his country's good. 

Bibi nodded. "Yes. He doesn't love me much, does 
dear Alphonse. But I have a hold on him." 

"Good. Then I will write to-morrow. And now, 
my Bibi, you must go. But there is money for you," 
she emptied her purse into his open hand "and 
there will be more plenty more. See that you don't 
let yourself be caught. Ah, tiens," she cried suddenly, 
bursting into a ripple of laughter and picking up a 
man's cloak which had been left in the brougham, "here 
is disguise for you. It must be the coat of the Milor 
Anglais. This is his carriage. Take it, Bibi. Wrap 
it well round you. They will think you have come 
from a theatre. You will not be suspected." 

She helped him eagerly to don the coat, tingling 
with impatience now to be rid of him. The garment, 
of course, was much too large for the thin figure of 
the Apache, but he did as she advised, and wrapped it 
closely about him. It would effectively conceal the 
disorder of his own clothes. 


Then, as Zelie opened the door of the brougham, 
Bibi seized and held her in a violent embrace, throwing 
her lithe body back over his arm and pressing his hot 
mouth to her red lips. For a moment her senses 
reeled. She was Zelie the Snake once more Zelie of 

But she quickly recovered and disengaged herself. 
"Go," she cried hoarsely, "go quickly. Trust me, and 
you shall be rich rich beyond your wildest thoughts. 
But there must be no mistake. You know what you 
have to do. Owen Mayne still demands my love. He 
is in our way." The words came in an intense whis- 
per. "Kill him! kill him!" 

With which she thrust Bibi from the carriage. He 
hesitated a moment, one foot resting upon the step. 
His face appeared livid in the lamplight. But she 
closed the door upon him, and watched through the 
window as presently he drifted away to the crowded 
and illuminated street beyond. 

Then Zelie, still breathing heavily, leant back against 
the soft cushions of the carriage, and composed herself 
for the return of Madame de Freyne. She glanced at 
her watch, an enamelled trinket which had been given 
her by Owen. It had seemed as if Bibi had been with 
her for hours; in reality the whole scene had been 
enacted in little more than fifteen minutes. 

Yet in those minutes, if all went well, she had signed 
the death warrant of Owen Mayne. She had revenged 
herself for his desertion, while her own position re- 
mained secure. 

She picked up the dagger which still lay by her side 
on the seat, and regarded it for a moment with in- 
scrutable eyes. Then she thrust it back into the bosom 
of her dress. 

In doing so she dislodged the rose which Lord Mar- 


tyn had given her. It fell to the floor of the carriage, 
shedding petals in its fall. Nevertheless she gathered 
these together, lifting them in the palms of both hands 
to her lips, which, for a moment, she buried in the 
scented mass. Then she raised her head, smiling, and 
allowed the rose leaves to fall slowly, one by one, 
through her fingers to the floor. They lay there like 
a stain of blood. 


MADAME DE FREYNE occupied a charming flat in 
Knightsbridge. Zelie quickly learned to make herself 
at home, though her manners, even after her training 
with Owen, still left much to be desired. Her weird 
beauty, however, atoned for a good deal ; besides, she 
was quick and willing to learn, realising the im- 
portance of this for her future triumphant progress. 
At heart she remained a savage, as, if Lord Martyn 
prophesied truly, she would remain to the end. 

To the journalist she presented a study of the deepest 
interest. Mme. de Freyne was never tired of listening 
to those stories, which Zelie was always ready to tell, 
of life in the great city. And the language! That, 
too, even to a woman of her experience, was a 

Of Owen Mayne, save as a friend who had taken an 
interest in her and who had suggested that she should 
come to England, Zelie spoke never a word. Now. 
more than ever, it was to her interest to keep silence in 
respect to him. 

She had written to Bibi according to her promise, 
giving him the information which she had been unable 
to provide with sufficient detail on the occasion of their 
unexpected meeting. Owen Mayne was at Selwood 
Manor, which was in Buckinghamshire, the seat of a 
Mrs. Alderspn, his aunt. The nearest town was Sel- 
wood, where there was a station. Then followed such 
instructions as Zelie could give as to the best way for 



Bibi to reach his destination. She had found it out by 
judicious questioning of Mme. de Freyne and by her- 
self struggling with a time-table. She said nothing 
whatever about her own approaching visit to the 
neighbourhood. She hoped, even, that everything 
might be over by then. 

She begged Bibi not to come to see her. Her letter 
was charged with illiterate protestations of affection. 
She renewed her promises of wealth in the future. She 
signed herself, "Zelie who adores you." And as she 
sealed the letter she screwed up her lips into an ex- 
pression of half-humorous disdain. 

"He will do as I tell him, my Bibi. Then the Rousse 
will get him, and I shall be free." 

So far, as she was glad to know, the police had not 
succeeded in laying hands upon the perpetrator of the 
Northumberland Hotel assault an assault which had, 
luckily, not proved fatal, though the victim was lying 
in hospital in sorry condition. The criminal was re- 
ported to have escaped in marvellous fashion, and the 
police were severely blamed for having allowed him 
to slip through their fingers. 

It was assumed as certain that robbery had been the 
culprit's motive, and so, luckily for Zelie, no impor- 
tance was attached to the fact that it was at the door 
of her room that the assault was committed. Mme. de 
Freyne, in her journalistic capacity, had not thought 
of associating the name of Mrs. Mayne which Zelie 
had given at the hotel with her young friend, and 
Zelie, upon the following morning, had driven alone 
to the hotel her hostess being busy with newspaper 
work to fetch her luggage. She had been congratu- 
lated upon having escaped a fright, and she had been 
asked certain questions by the inspector in charge of 
the case, to which questions she had given ready an- 


swers, and she had driven off again without attracting 
the smallest suspicion to herself. 

Eve de Freyne was very apologetic for having kept 
Zelie waiting so long in the brougham. She had been 
detained on another matter altogether, and had 
imagined that she might not be able to drive back with 
her guest to Knightsbridge after all. Her conscience 
was pricking her, too, about keeping Lord Martyn's 
carriage so long. 

Under these circumstances she had sent one of the 
hotel messengers to the chauffeur, requesting the latter 
to come and receive instructions from her. She pro- 
posed telling him to drive Zelie straight to Knights- 
bridge, where he would have to explain to the servants 
the young lady not talking English that madem- 
oiselle was a friend of her own and was to be shown 
every hospitality. She could not write all this in a 
note, and had therefore sent for the man himself. 

As it happened, however, she was so busy when the 
chauffeur arrived that there had been a delay before 
she was able to speak to him. And when she was, at 
last, disengaged there seemed no longer any need for 
sending Zelie off by herself. And so, after a few 
minutes more, Mme. de Freyne made her way back 
to the motor, arriving there only a minute or two after 
the chauffeur. She had found Zelie waiting for her, 
apparently more than half asleep. 

The only real trouble that resulted from that night's 
experiences was the loss of Lord Martyn's coat. He 
called upon the following day to inquire about it. He 
was certain that he had left it in the brougham, and 
shook his head at Mme. de Freyne's suggestion that 
it must have been mislaid at the restaurant. Zelie, of 
course, knew nothing about it, but expressed an opin- 
ion that Milor was wearing his coat when they arrived 


at the Pallanza yes, she could remember his removing 
it in the hall. 

There was nothing for it but to accept this explana- 
tion, but Lord Martyn frowned and was evidently 
more troubled over his loss than he cared to admit. 
There were important papers in one of the pockets, he 
declared, and it was very undesirable that they should 
pass into other hands. 

At this Zelie felt a qualm hardly of conscience, for 
she was not troubled with such a possession, but of 
self-reproach, for if there was any man upon earth 
just then whom she did not desire to injure it was 
Lord Martyn. Besides, it was just possible that the 
guilt might be brought back to her, which would be 
very unpleasant. She reflected uneasily upon the char- 
acter of Alphonse Lereux, and wondered if Bibi would 
have sufficient sense to keep those papers to himself. 

But living in the day as she did, she soon put her 
fears aside. Lord Martyn was charming to her and 
appeared in no way to have modified his opinion as 
to her future success. He had called that Sunday 
quite unexpectedly, owing to the worry over his cloak, 
and he could only spare a few minutes for his visit. 
But he had, it appeared, already made arrangements 
for Mr. Radcliffe, of the Star Theatre, to call on the 
Monday, so that no time should be lost in getting 
Zelie started upon her stage career. 

"We meet again on Thursday at Chamney Castle," 
he said, as he took his leave. "And don't be afraid 
of shocking the good Society folk whom you will find 
there, my dear Zelie. Be natural, and then they are 
bound to think you are adopting a clever pose and will 
be suitably impressed." 

Zelie didn't understand, but she nodded her head 
quickly several times and flashed her dark eyes at him. 


Stephen Aldis came to see her that Sunday, too, 
and had tea at Mme. de Freyne's flat. He brought 
her flowers, fantastically shaped orchids, which he must 
have put himself to great trouble to find especially 
on a Sunday. He was looking very handsome, Zelie 
thought, with his rather boyish face and his crisp, 
curly hair, but his type was too Saxon to suit her 
taste really, though she was amused at his thinly veiled 
devotion more and more openly expressed with each 
visit he paid, for he did not confine himself to Sunday, 
but came upon Monday and Tuesday as well. 

It was all a symbol of the triumphant progress that 
was in store for her. This man, this Stephen Aldis, 
was run after by all the women in London Eve de 
Freyne had told her so. And now he was at her feet, 
she who had not sought to encourage him. 

It was on the Tuesday afternoon that Zelie, who had 
gone to lie down before dinner as was now her 
wont was aroused by Clementine, the French maid, 
who begged her to descend to the drawing-room, as 
there was a caller whom Mme. de Freyne would like 
her to meet. 

Zelie got up grumbling. She hated being disturbed 
when she was resting. Still, it would not have been 
diplomatic to refuse, and besides, she was naturally 
curious. So she sent Clementine back with a message 
that she would be down in a few minutes. 

It took her rather more than that before she was 
satisfied with her general appearance. Her hair was 
uintidy, and she could not contrive, in a hurry, to re- 
dress it exactly as she wished. As she thrust hair- 
pins into the recalcitrant black locks she muttered im- 
precations in choice Montmartre under her breath 
upon such late callers. 

She descended at last to the drawing-room. She 


entered the room with that noiseless tread that dis- 
tinguished her and was so curiously feline. Mme. de 
Freyne was there, talking to a man whose back was 
turned to the door. He wore blue serge, Zelie noticed, 
not the conventional frock-coat of London. 

Eve Freyne looked up as Zelie entered. 

"Ah, here you are, my dear," she cried. "I think 
you know this gentleman and will be pleased to see 

The man turned quickly but a little awkardly. He 
had broad, but rather rounded, shoulders, and his 
figure appeared familiar. When he faced her, smiling 
and holding out his hand, Zelie gave a little cry which 
might have expressed anger or alarm, but which 
Mme. de Freyne took for pleasure. 

The visitor, unobserved, had lifted his finger to his 
lips, indicating caution. The warning was not lost 
upon Zelie, but recognition was evidently expected of 

"Mon Dieu!" she exclaimed. "Robin! And how 
are you, mon ami?" 

She touched his fingers with hers, then drew back, 
scanning his face with eyes that were charged with 
suspicion and defiance. 


ROBIN behaved with what was, for him, remarkable 
tact. He gave no hint of the fact for it was a fact 
that he had traced Zelie to her present address, and 
that his visit at the Knightsbridge flat was solely upon 
her account. 

Luckily he could claim acquaintance with Mme. de 
Freyne, whom he had met in Paris a year or so before, 
and whom he usually called upon when he happened 
to be in London. Once chatting with the journalist, 
it had been quite easy to lead the conversation into 
the required direction, and then, when Zelie was men- 
tioned, to admit that he knew the dancing girl and 
would be pleased to see her again. Robin was very 
careful not to commit himself in any way. He was 
acting for his friend Owen, whose name must not be 
mentioned for fear of bringing about that scandal 
which would be so disastrous just now. 

Robin had been on tenterhooks ever since he had 
learnt of Zelie's flight from Paris as to whether or no 
she had made boast of her liaison as he still regarded 
it with Owen. And why had she come to London at 
all ? He could not guess her motive though he feared 
it. And how on earth had it come about that she was 
living in the house of so well-known a woman as Eve 
de Freyne? 

His conversation with the latter had set his mind 
somewhat at rest. Mme. Eve had told him unhesi- 
tatingly how Zelie had been introduced to her. She 



had come to London to seek an opening on the stage, 
and this looked promising almost as if Zelie had ac- 
cepted her dismissal from Owen before it was actually 
spoken. Furthermore, Mme. de Freyne had not men- 
tioned Owen's name once in the whole course of their 

Still, much remained that had to be spoken between 
himself and Zelie, and the glances which he now and 
then threw in her direction clearly betokened the fact. 
Zelie met his eyes on these occasions with a look of 
defiance which made him uneasy. He had always 
feared and disliked the girl her fascination had never 
been able to touch him. He regarded her with the 
same aversion that he might have for a snake. 

He hated what he had to do, but it was his duty 
towards his friend. And presently fortune favoured 
him, for Mme. de Freyne rose from her seat and an- 
nounced that she had some writing which must abso- 
lutely be completed before dinner. 

"But don't hurry away," she said to Robin. "I'm 
sure that you and Zelie would like to have a chat 
about Paris. For myself, I'll say good-bye." 

And so they were left alone, facing each other, 
these two, animated, both of them, by the instinct of 
a struggle to come. 

Zelie had risen, too, when Mme. de Freyne left the 
room. She remained standing, one foot resting on 
the fierce head of a great tawny tiger-skin rug that 
was stretched out in front of the hearth. The attitude 
suited her. 

Robin closed the door behind his hostess and then 
approached Zelie. "I wanted to talk to you alone," 
he said simply. 

"Yes." Her red lips curved defiantly. "You have 
followed me. Did he send you?" 


"Owen?" Robin was standing close to Zelie now, 
one elbow resting on the mantelpiece. "In a way 
he did. I had to go to Paris on business of my own. 
I left England last Sunday. It was Saturday night, 
Zelie, that news reached Owen of what you had done." 

"What had I done?" So much had happened since 
Zelie left Paris that she had almost forgotten her 
escapade with the picture. 

" The Chamois Hunter,' " said the man sternly. 
"You know." 

Zelie broke into a ripple of derisive laughter. "Ah 
ah ! It was well done. Is it not so ?" 

"It was a mean act and a cruel act," retorted the 
man warmly. "Moreover, it was infinitely foolish 
as you shall learn. You knew that my friend, the 
man who never treated you anything but well, had 
sold his picture for a large sum; you knew, too, that 
his work was a masterpiece, the exhibition of which 
at the Salon was bound to bring him fame. Yet in 
your rage you wantonly hacked this picture to pieces." 

"I did," cried Zelie, her eyes flaming. "And I'm 
glad of it glad. Had he not deceived and deserted 
me this man who called himself my husband? Had 
he not thrown me over, the cur, for a pink-cheeked 
schoolgirl; she of the photograph about whom you 
lied to me, you and your precious friend? Yes you 
lied you lied and deny it if you dare!" 

She poured out the words tempestuously, and with 
such rapidity, that Robin had hardly caught their full 

And now he could not deny that in a measure Zelie 
had been deceived. It had been his own fault, too. 
He had been so anxious to get Owen safely away from 
Paris. Zelie could be told by letter afterwards it was 
thus that he himself had urged. But Zelie had found 


out for herself, and with lamentable results. He cursed 
himself inwardly for a fool who was always doing the 
wrong thing with the best intentions. 

He cleared his throat awkwardly. "Look here, 
Zelie," he said, "it had to be, you know. Your friend- 
ship with Owen was all very well while it lasted, but 
that sort of thing has to have an end. Owen's circum- 
stances were all changed, and that is why he was com- 
pelled to leave Paris. He had to go to an aunt who 
is dying. She will make him her heir, but she 
would have had nothing to do with him if she had 

"And he will marry the pink-cheeked schoolgirl 
the little wax saint?" Zelie put the question 

Robin inclined his head. "That is what Owen's 
aunt desires. It is really a condition to his inheriting 
the property. You don't know, perhaps, that Owen 
had no money left when he reached England? It's 
true, however. He spent his last louis with you. So 
you see how essential it is. You see, too, the harm 
you did to yourself in destroying the picture. Owen 
would have been able to give you money at once " 

"Hold your tongue with your offer of money." 
Zelie's voice rose scornfully, and a hectic spot of rage 
mounted to each cheek. "I will take no money not 
a brass farthing bit from this cad whom I could force 
away from his little saint with a word you under- 
stand me ? with a word. I have but to say " She 

was about to refer to the form of civil marriage that 
she and Owen had gone through, but broke off sud- 
denly. "But, no," she corrected herself, "I don't want 
him I would not again be defiled by his touch. But 
I hate him grand Dieu! how I hate him!" 

She was the personification of hate as she stood 


there, her white fists clenched, those two red spots 
burning upon her cheeks, her little sharp teeth show- 
ing between her scarlet lips. "Bibi, Bibi," she mut- 
tered under her breath, "give me my revenge quick !" 

She choked the words down and then turned fiercely 
upon the man. "He sent you," she asked, "to offer 
me money for my silence, and that I should leave him 

"I had to go to Paris," Robin replied, feeling the 
hatefulness of his task. "Owen could not leave his 
aunt is too ill. He was angry very angry about 
the picture. But he wished to see you. I went to 
Versailles and found that you had left. But Mme. 
Lecomte gave me your address here. I was sur- 

Zelie bit her lip. It was true that she had written to 
her friend, giving her London address. The action 
had been inspired by her pride in her new grand 

"So you bring me the message from Owen?" re- 
peated Zelie. "It is as I have said? It is his wish 
that I take myself out of his life?" 

Once more Robin inclined his head. What was the 
good of beating about the bush ? "He wished to make 
reparation to you," he said, "later on when he can 
afford to do so. And he has asked me to give you 
this letter." 

He handed a sealed envelope to Zelie. She took it, 
crushing it in her palm. 

"You will see Owen?" 

"Yes to-night." 

Zelie was laughing now. Her laugh sounded hor- 
ribly ominous in the man's ears. He could not help 
thinking that she had something in her mind to which 1 


she would not give utterance that her laugh veiled 
a threat. 

"Then, M. Robin, you may tell Owen Mayne that 
I give him his liberty. And may he live long to en- 
joy the kisses of his little wax saint. You will be sure 
to say that?" She pronounced the words with biting 
emphasis. "May he live to enjoy his money and his 

Robin had done what he had to do, but he left the 
flat in Knightsbridge with a sense of impending ca- 
lamity. He was sure that Zelie had not been sincere, 
that she was meditating some secret blow. As he 
walked slowly away his heart was sore within him. 

As for Zelie, no sooner had the door shut behind 
Robin than she took Owen's letter and tore it, un- 
read, into tiny threads. It was with her teeth that she 
first rent the envelope in half. And all the while she 
muttered savage curses under her breath, while she 
called upon Bibi to be quick with the completion of 
his task. 

She destroyed Owen's letter unread. Had she at- 
tempted to master its contents she would have learnt 
that Owen repudiated every word that Robin had said. 
In that letter he revealed to her the whole plot that 
he was carrying out at Selwood how, his aunt dead 
and the inheritance his, he meant to break his engage- 
ment should that engagement ever become an actu- 
ality with the "little wax saint," and return to his 
Zelie, whom he adored now more than ever, and whom 
he freely forgave for the destruction of his picture. 

He was unable to take Robin into his secret, for 
Robin was so stubbornly honest. So the good fellow 
would speak to Zelie of a separation, and all manner 
of other foolish things, thinking he was doing his duty 
by his friend, but Zelie must take no notice of this 


whatever. Only she must pretend, in order that Robin 
should be deceived. And then it would not be long 
before Owen was a rich man and at liberty once more. 
What a good time they would have when that happy 
day came! 

The letter was full of passionate affection. Yet it 
was torn up unread, and Zelie, with murder in her 
heart, tossed the fragments contemptuously to the 
back of the grate. 

"Hasten, my Bibi," she muttered again and again. 
"Be quick and sure to strike." There was a red glow 
before her eyes the lust of revenge. 


ROBIN CLITHERO journeyed down to Buckinghamshire 
by a late train that evening. He had snatched a 
hurried dinner at the station and he was tired, dis- 
satisfied with himself, and uneasy in his mind. 

He was inclined to wish that he had not interfered 
in the matter of Zelie at all. It had been all his own 
doing, for Owen, if anything, had sought to dis- 
courage him so he might have spared himself the 
unpleasant interview of that afternoon, as well as the 
running about in Paris, the playing at amateur de- 
tective, which had wearied him and prevented him 
from giving the requisite attention to his own business. 
He had reached Paris early on the Sunday morning, 
having travelled over-night, and the amount of work 
which he had crammed into two days was really 

It was about noon on the preceding Saturday that 
the news of the destruction of Owen's picture had 
reached Selwood Manor. It had come in the form of 
a telegram from Blaize, the concierge, which had been 
redirected to Owen from the Delphic Club. 

Robin remembered the scene quite well. They were 
at lunch, himself, Owen, Lavender, and a girl friend 
of the latter's, Diana Ferrars, who had ridden over 
to spend the afternoon at the Manor. Mrs. Alderson 
always took her meals in her own boudoir, where she 
spent the best part of the day reclining on her invalid 



Owen had torn open the envelope, making some 
half-jocular apology, but an ominous change had come 
over his face as he read the missive. He was a man 
who was sometimes given to unrestrained outbursts of 
passion, and he looked just then as if he might be 
unable to hold himself in check. Rarely had Robin 
seen so dark a frown settle on his brow. 

Of course Lavender noticed it too. Telegrams were 
rare events at Selwood Manor, and she had the natural 
instinct to associate them with evil tidings. There 
was deep concern, a tender sympathy, expressed upon 
her face anxiety, too but it was some moments be- 
fore she ventured to ask Owen the cause of his trouble. 

He was able to choke down his wrath, though it was 
only after an effort palpable enough to Robin. He 
crushed up the telegram and thrust it away in his 
pocket. Then he tried to smile, but it was a poor 

"There has been an accident to my picture the 
'Chamois Hunter,' you know," he said. "I'm afraid 
it has been utterly spoilt. It's a pity, and it means a 
considerable loss to me but it was quite an accident." 
He seemed eager to emphasise the point. 

Robin could not refrain from an exclamation of dis- 
may. He set as much store by Owen's success as did 
Owen himself. He was proud of his friend's work. 
He had watched it as it developed under the masterful 
hand and had foreseen it as the picture of the year. 
Furthermore, he knew that its sale, already accom- 
plished, was of the greatest importance to Owen just 

For Owen was badly in debt, and he had handed 
over to Zelie practically all the money that remained 
to him. He was being pushed by his creditors, and 
he had promised to pay from the proceeds of this sale. 


Now he would probably have to ask assistance from 
his aunt, who, so far, believed that her nephew was 
earning a comfortable income. Well, so Robin argued 
with himself, that wouldn't matter so much if Owen 
would only hurry up and get definitely engaged to 
Lavender which was what Mrs. Alderson wanted. 
But they had been at Selwood Manor now for the 
best part of three weeks, and nothing decisive had 
happened. So perhaps this accident was for the best, 
after all it might precipitate the desired end. 

Staunch and loyal Robin! Sincerely and from the 
depth of his honest heart he desired to see his friend 
and Lavender engaged, so that there might be an end, 
once and for all, to that liaison with a dangerous woman 
which threatened nothing but ill as long as it lasted; 
also, so that Owen should take the place in life that 
was his due as natural heir to the Alderson estates. 
Robin was convinced that he would do credit to it. 

And all the while Robin suffered suffered acutely. 
For Lavender, now that he had met her in the flesh, 
appeared to him a very reincarnation of the one woman 
who had meant anything in his life the girl whom he 
had loved and lost. She was just as gentle and as 
pure, and her voice thrilled him, so soft it was, so like 
in its intonation to that which haunted his dream. He, 
who had vowed never to love again, felt that all his 
heart was drawn to Lavender Percivale, and yet his 
lips were closed by the sacred seal of honour and 

Lavender had given no indication of her feelings. 
She was naturally retiring of disposition even a trifle 
shy. Robin had been afraid at first that Owen might 
offend her by too impetuous love-making. But, as a 
matter of fact, he had behaved with commendable 


discretion. Perhaps Mrs. Alderson had warned him 
to go gently. 

The truth was though this was a secret of the man's 
own heart that Owen had a vague hope that his aunt 
might be induced to make a will in his favour without 
the necessity of his becoming engaged at all. Her 
tenure upon life was growing daily more feeble, and 
she might easily recognise the danger of further 

That day, as soon as lunch was over, Owen showed 
Robin the telegram which he had received from Paris. 
It had been written in English in M. Blaize's best 

"Your Salon picture has been cut to pieces ruined. 
It was Mme. Zelie who did it." 

Then Owen's rage blazed forth. He put no re- 
straint upon his tongue. But, though Robin hardly 
noticed it at the time, his anger was directed against 
himself and his friend rather than against the author 
of the catastrophe. Why had they not admitted the 
whole truth to Zelie before leaving Paris? That was 
the cause of all the mischief. Of course, she had found 
it out and had used the first weapon that came to her 
hand to avenge herself. It was like her what he 
might have expected. 

"The whole truth ?" faltered Robin, not understand- 

Then, even in his passion, Owen realised that he had 
nearly betrayed himself. "As there had to be a scene," 
he explained hurriedly, "we should have got it over 
at once. Zelie ought not to have found things out 
for herself. For now Heaven knows what I'm going 
to do. There's Carlier pressing for money and a 
host of others." 


"What you have to do, Owen," said Robin, simply, 
"is to hurry up matters here. Your aunt will sympa- 
thise over the picture and she'll put everything straight 
for you as soon as her own wishes are realised. As for 
Zelie the vicious little devil you are well rid of her, 
even at such a terrible price." 

"That's all very well," grumbled Owen; "and, of 
course, you're right, Robin. You always are. It's an 
infernally aggravating characteristic of yours. But 
don't you see, man, that I shall have to go to Paris?" 

Robin saw no necessity for such a course and said 
so forcibly. He had already arranged to cross the 
Channel that night, having some business of his own 
to attend to. Ever ready to devote himself to the 
cause of friendship, he suggested that he should hunt 
up Zelie and take the whole unpleasant duty upon 

It needed a good deal of argument, however, before 
Owen yielded, and then it was because he saw a certain 
humour in the situation which appealed to his love of 
the bizarre and eccentric. He would write a letter to 
Zelie, in which he would reveal the exact truth to 
her, telling her that he forgave her for the wanton 
damage she had done, and that she was the only 
woman upon earth whom he loved or could ever really 
love. He would explain his reasons for secrecy with 
regard to Robin, and make it quite clear to her that 
she must not take seriously a word of what the latter 

And this letter it was which had been duly handed 
to Zelie and which she had torn up unread. 

It was late that evening when Robin reached Sel- 
wood. Yet, since the night was fine and the spring 
air soft and balmy, he decided that it would be pleasant 
to walk the mile or two from the station to the Manor. 


He was oppressed with a feeling of despondency and 
foreboding of evil to come, and he wanted to shake 
off these ominous thoughts. 

But they were weighing upon him more heavily 
than ever when he turned into the long elm avenue that 
led to the Manor, and which was one of its greatest 
prides. The boughs intertwined above his head, almost 
completely shutting out the light of the moon, and as 
he walked, a little more hurriedly now, he could fancy 
that he heard footsteps following him. 

More than once he came to a halt, turning, and try- 
ing to penetrate the darkness behind him with his eyes, 
and then there would come the creaking of a twig, and 
he could imagine that someone was crouching down 
among the trees close at hand, watching him from some 
leafy recess. 

"Is anyone there?" He called the words aloud at 
last, stepping aside from the road on to the soft sward 
at a spot where the tall elms were flanked by dense 

There was no answer, but he could have sworn that, 
following his words, there came the sound of hur- 
ried, retreating steps among the bushes. 

"I expect it's nothing more than a rabbit or a bird," 
he muttered to himself as he resumed his way. "I'm 
getting timid as well as morbid. This will never do." 

A few minutes later he reached the Manor. Owen 
was waiting up for him, the rest of the household 
having retired to bed. Owen hurried his friend into 
the dining-room, where supper had been thoughfully 
laid for the traveller. 

"Well?" inquired Owen, anxiously. 

"It's all right," responded Robin, trying to adopt a 
cheerful manner. "I saw Zelie and told her. I can't 
say I had a good time. She's in London looking out 


for an engagement. She told me to say that she gives 
you your liberty but she didn't say it nicely." 

"Did you give her my letter?" interrupted Owen 


Owen breathed a sigh of relief. "That's all right," 
he said. The next moment he was acting his part 
once more. "Poor Zelie," he muttered, "so this is 
the end." 

"And you?" asked Robin, scrutinising his friend's 
handsome face with some eagerness, although his limbs 
quivered. He was bracing himself to hear the answer 
he expected. "Are you and Lavender engaged?" 

"Not yet," was the answer, given almost sullenly. 
"I've not found an opportunity to speak. My aunt has 
been very ill. She talked to me to-day about her will 
and other matters. I've promised to speak to Lav- 
ender to-morrow. Aunt Anne doesn't know if 
Lavender cares for me, and I've been afraid to risk 
things by being too precipitate. But we shall see 

Later, as he partook of some supper, Robin men- 
tioned how he had fancied himself shadowed as he 
came through the park. "I'm getting awfully imagi- 
native," he said. 

But Owen looked serious. "It's curious," he re- 
marked, meditatively, "but I had exactly the same ex- 
perience this afternoon. I felt convinced that there 
was someone hanging about in the bushes. There 
have been several burglaries in the neighbourhood 
lately so I'm told. Still, I expect you're right, and 
it was only a rabbit. Let us hope so." 


"I'M afraid we can no longer say that it's a matter of 
months. More likely weeks, or perhaps even days." 
The speaker was Dr. Murray, Mrs. Alderson's medical 
adviser. He had been in daily attendance since the 
beginning of the week. 

Owen Mayne, who, although himself a guest, was 
acting as host, had accompanied the doctor to the door, 
and was standing chatting for a few moments before 
the latter stepped into the neat brougham that awaited 

"It will be a sad loss to the county," Dr. Murray 
continued, with a shake of his head, "for there never 
was a better beloved woman. Her one desire is al- 
ways to make people happy and to have smiling faces 
about her. Poor Miss Percivale she'll feel it in- 

"You haven't warned her, of course?" asked Owen. 
"It would do no good to sadden her just now." 

"No," replied the doctor, "but, of course, she knows 
that the end cannot be long delayed. Well, good-bye ; 
remember I can always come at the shortest notice if 
I am wanted." Dr. Murray stepped into the brougham, 
which was soon lost to sight in the long elm avenue. 

Owen stood for a few moments at the door, gazing 
with unseeing eyes over the smooth, broad lawn that 
sloped down to a tiny lake and to a background of tall 

But his thoughts were not with the dying lady; he 


was allowing his mind to wander to far-away Paris, 
to the warmth of his studio and to the white figure of 
a siren perched upon a rock, her hands entwined in the 
flowing meshes of her black hair. 

"The witch," he muttered to himself, a frown upon 
his brow. "But I mustn't think of her as she appears 
in my unfortunate picture. That chamois hunter has 
hunted his last. Fool that I was, not to have told her 
everything at once. But I think I've made matters 
all right by my letter. She'll understand and will wait 
till I can go to her with my pockets full of money. 
But fancy Zelie being in London with Eve de 
Freyne of all people. However, I'm sure she'll act 
discreetly, and not attempt to write me or see me as 
I asked her. She's clever as they make them and 
knows what's to her own interest." 

"So you've just got to wait, my dear," he went on, 
after a pause, "while I play out my blackguardly game 
here, deceiving a charming old lady, who is on the 
brink of eternity, and an innocent girl, who has an 
uncomfortable way of making one feel ashamed of 
oneself. Yes, Robin was right when he said it was a 
low trick, and Robin will loathe me when he knows 
the truth. But it's all for your sake, Zelie." He 
clenched his fists. "I regret nothing. I'd stake my 
soul for you my very soul !" 

He turned on his heel and made his way slowly to 
the bright and sunny boudoir facing the other side of 
the house, where he knew he would find Mrs. Alder- 
son, Lavender, and Robin. The girl looked up 
anxiously as he entered the room. She knew that he 
had been talking with Dr. Murray. 

"Murray reports well of our patient," he lied, anxious 
to dissipate Lavender's fears, and knowing quite well 
that Mrs. Alderson had no illusions as to her condi- 


tion. "He has to go to some meeting or other, or he'd 
not have hurried away directly after lunch." 

Mrs. Alderson lay upon her sofa, the sofa upon 
which the greater part of her days were spent. She 
was very feeble and not allowed to walk much ; for the 
last four years she had been a chronic invalid, suffer- 
ing from a complicated form of heart disease, which 
had followed an attack of rheumatic fever. 

She was small and frail, but delightful to look upon. 
She had silver-grey hair, always carefully dressed 
high on her head, hair that reminded one of nothing 
so much as that of some stately lady of old times. 
Mrs. Alderson was, in every way, like a picture, from 
her slender, delicate figure to her smooth, white brow 
and clear-cut features. 

She smiled now as Owen crossed to Lavender's side 
and stood talking in an undertone to the girl. What 
a handsome couple they made ! It had not taken long 
for Owen, by his natural charm of manner, to win 
her heart. 

"I mustn't be so cruel as to keep you two young men 
indoors all the afternoon," she said. "This is my 
quiet hour, you know, when Lavender reads to me or 
we chat together on all manner of things. Perhaps, 
Owen, you and Mr. Clithero would like to take a ride 
and get back in time for tea. After that I can spare 
Lavender to you for a little." 

She cast a meaning glance at her nephew. It was 
evidently meant to remind him of his promise. Then, 
as the two men were about to take their departure, 
Mrs. Alderson called them back to ask a question which 
had just occurred to her. 

"By the way, Owen," she said, "did you tell Mr. 
Clithero about the entertainment at Chamney to-mor- 
row? The invitation came while you were away," 


she went on, addressing Robin. "Lavender wanted 
to refuse because I've not been so well, but Miss 
Ferrars is very anxious for her to go. There are bound 
to be all sorts of curious people there, and I've no 
doubt that you, as an artist and a Bohemian" she 
smiled and shook her forefinger at him "will be in- 
terested. Besides, both Owen and I owe a good deal 
to Lord Martyn, who is giving the party." 

Owen laughed. "Oh, I'd forgotten all about it. 
But you're quite right, my dear Aunt Anne, for the 
entertainment is bound to be a peculiar one. Martyn 
is such a queer fish. But, as you say, we have every 
reason to be grateful to him. If it hadn't happened 
that he was your neighbour and that he knew of me 
in Paris you would probably never have found me 
out at all or have thought of writing to me. Yes, 
Martyn is a good fellow, but I'm afraid he makes rather 
a point of shocking people, doesn't he? I've heard 
some queer stories about him and his doings since I've 
been here." Owen's pose, in the presence of his aunt, 
was that of a scrupulous observer of the proprieties. 

Owen and Robin took their departure after this, 
accepting Mrs. Alderson's suggestion of an hour's ride 
across the fine open country which lay in the neigh- 
bourhood of Selwood Manor. 

Lavender seated herself at once by the side of the 
invalid and opened the book which she was in course 
of reading aloud. But she had not read many pages 
before she noticed that the old lady had closed her 
eyes and was sleeping peacefully, a smile upon her thin 

Lavender allowed the book to drop upon her knees 
and sat very still, her hands folded in her lap, gazing 
straight in front of her. A mirror upon the opposite 
wall reflected her beautiful face and graceful figure. 


Lavender was very fair and her features were 
Madonna-like in their innocence and purity. Her face 
was oval, her eyes blue and dreamy, her lips tenderly 
sensitive. She might have been Mrs. Alderson's own 
daughter, because of the similarity of disposition be- 
tween the two, as well as the great love they bore 
each other. 

Yet it was little more than three years that Lavender 
had lived under the roof of Selwood Manor. She had 
come there before she was nineteen, and she was now 
nearing her twenty-second birthday. 

She had not gone through life without knowing its 
sadder side. She was the daughter of a former vicar 
of Selwood. Her mother had been a great friend of 
Mrs. Alderson's, who had stood as Lavender's god- 

Unfortunately, when Lavender was eleven or twelve 
years old, things had gone amiss with the Percivales. 
The vicar had become involved in certain shady finan- 
cial transactions in which he had not only lost the little 
fortune of which he was possessed, but suffered in 
honour as well. He was innocent of actual offence, 
as all who knew him were aware, but he was tech- 
nically guilty of complicity with the rogues who had 
defrauded him. The ruin of many besides himself was 
laid at his door. He had to appear in court, and, 
though he was absolved of personal blame, the shame 
of it broke him both physically and mentally. 

Mrs. Alderson and her husband, who was alive at 
that time a hard-riding, genial old country squire 
did their best for the vicar not only out of personal 
sympathy but because of their affection for Mrs. Per- 
civale and for Lavender, a delicate, pretty little crea- 
ture who had won her way to their hearts. But the 
vicar was too proud to accept assistance from his 


friends, and, with his wife and child, he had drifted 
away from Selwood, losing himself and them in the 
world against which he had not the strength to fight. 

The years that followed were black and bitter, and 
Lavender could never think of them without a shud- 
der. In her childish memories she always seemed to 
be moving from place to place, never making long so- 
journ anywhere. She had been to school, but had soon 
been removed from it because the expense was too 
great. Her mother had then taken her education in 
hand, but Mrs. Percivale was weak and sickly, and 
her husband was warned that unless she could be sent 
out of the country to a warmer climate she was not 
likely to survive another winter. 

It was this verdict of the doctor's which brought 
about the final catastrophe. Whatever the late vicar's 
faults may have been there was no doubt about the 
love he bore for Lavender's mother. It was for her 
sake that he stepped, open-eyed this time, off the path 
of honesty. 

One day he yielded to temptation. He stole stole 
foolishly, almost without taking means to avoid de- 
tection, almost as if he were proud of what he did. 

He was arrested before he had time to leave the 
country with his wife and child. Charged at the police 
court he made no attempt to deny his guilt, but pleaded 
that what he had done was to save a human life. 

Here fate, as it will do, made cruel sport of him. 
For, instead of saving his wife's life, his action brought 
her to her death-bed. Mrs. Percivale died, and was 
mercifully spared the knowledge of her husband's 
conviction and sentence to twelve months' imprison- 

He did not live to complete his sentence, but he held 
his head high till the end, refusing to acknowledge that 


he had committed any sin. As for Lavender, the 
sensation caused by the case brought her to the notice 
of Mrs. Alderson, now a widow, who came forward and 
offered to adopt the unfortunate felon's daughter. 

And now the end was drawing very near; Mrs. 
Alderson had made no secret of it with the girl. But 
she was not afraid of going as long as she was assured 
that she was leaving Lavender happy. 

Was Lavender disposed to return the love which 
Owen had declared himself ready to bestow ? That was 
the question which harassed the mind of the dying 
woman. She had been waiting, watching allowing 
matters to follow their normal development. Did 
Lavender care? 

Mrs. Alderson opened her eyes dreamily. Lavender 
was still sitting upright in her chair, the open book 
lying idly upon her knees. Her thoughts were evi- 
dently far away. She had not noticed that Mrs. Al- 
derson was awake. 

There was a smile hovering about her lips, and 
presently she murmured a question to herself, mur- 
mured it aloud. 

"Does he love me ? Oh, I wonder if he really loves 

Mrs. Alderson heard, and then she drew a deep 
breath, a sigh of thanksgiving. "I have asked no 
more of God than this," she whispered, "that you 
should love one another. And God has granted my 

"Oh, mother, I didn't know you were awake." 
Lavender fluttered to her feet, tumbling the book to 
the floor, and then, a rich flush mantling her cheeks, 
stooped to pick it up. 

"Yes, dear, I was awake, and I overheard what you 


said. Wasn't it indiscreet? But come, my darling, 
come and sit down by my side again." 

"Yes, mother. Shall I go on reading to you?" 
Lavender fumbled with the pages of the book, bending 
over it to hide her blush. 

Mrs. Alderson stretched out her hand and rested it 
upon that of the girl. "No, Lavender, I don't want 
to be read to," she said softly. "I'd like you to talk 
to me of him. I'm sure you'll be happy to share your 
secret with me." 

Lavender gave a little fluttering sigh, and then 
yielded herself to the delight of talking of her love. 
She could not say when the knowledge of it had first 
come to her, but she was quite sure that she had known 
Owen long before he ever came to Selwood Manor 
she had seen him in her dreams, he had been the fairy 
prince of the fairy castle that all girls build for them- 

"But do you think he cares for me as I care for 
him, mother?" she murmured. "That's what I'm not 
sure about. You see, he hasn't said a word to me yet, 
and sometimes I can't help feeling that I'm not good 
enough for him, I, who, if it had not been for your 
kindness, might have been in the workhouse by now 
I" she lowered her eyes "whose father died in 
prison. Does he know all these things about me, 
mother ? Oh, you've told him the truth, haven't you ?" 

"Yes, Owen knows your story," Mrs. Alderson com- 
forted. "I have told him every word of it. He said 
that he was sure your father was more sinned against 
than sinning." 

"Ah, that was good of him, good and kind," sighed 
the girl, reassured. "And he's so handsome. I'm 
sure he has just the face of a really great artist. Don't 
you think he's very handsome, dear ?" 

"His mother, my sister Margaret, was a beautiful 
woman," Mrs. Alderson said, "and Owen is like his 
mother. I recognised the likeness immediately, and it 
made the boy very dear to me. For I loved my sister, 
Lavender, and the fact that she and I were estranged 
from each other troubled me more than I can tell you. 
I don't think I've ever spoken to you of our quarrel 
it is a subject that I have not cared to allude to." 

Mrs. Alderson pressed her hand to her brow for an 
instant, then continued: "You see, Margaret and I 
had always been on the best of terms together, but 
when I married her manner changed, and though I 
begged her to tell me why she would never say a word. 
She thought I knew, that I understood, but I didn't. 
It was all a mystery to me. And then she went abroad, 
and from France, where she was living, wrote me a 
hard and cruel letter in which she said that she hoped 
never to see me again. She married in France and 
had one child that is Owen whose birth cost her her 
life. They were in Paris then, for Mr. Mayne had 
French relations. But I learned that the father and 
the boy drifted away soon afterwards, and Owen might 
have passed out of my life altogether had I not acci- 
dentally heard of him through Lord Martyn." 

The old lady paused and sighed. "It was only after 
my husband's death," she went on, "that I discovered 
the reason for my sister's anger. She, too, had been 
in love with Francis before he married me and 
imagined that I had weaned his affections from her. 
I'm afraid he must have given her some excuse for 
believing that he cared that is, if I can judge from 
the letters which I found." Two bright spots of 
colour came to the old lady's cheeks as she spoke. 

"So you see," she resumed, "from the time of my 
marriage till her death Margaret imagined that I had 


wilfully robbed her of the man she loved. She died 
believing me a cruel, heartless woman, and that is the 
tragedy of it, for I loved my sister dearly. That's the 
story, Lavender, and now you know why I was so 
eager to see Owen before I died, why I wanted to make 
up to him for the pain that his mother suffered on my 
account. And it is my one remaining wish that he and 
you, my two dear children, shall fall in love with each 
other, so that Selwood, with all its responsibilities, may 
be left in capable hands." 

"And now kiss me, dear child," the old lady con- 
cluded, "for since you love Owen everything will be 
well. God has granted my wish." 

Lavender bent and kissed the smooth brow of the 
old lady. "Oh, I should be so happy," she murmured, 
"if I was sure that Owen cared for me as I care for 
him. But sometimes I don't know how to explain it 
I'm almost afraid." 

Mrs. Alderson stroked Lavender's hair lovingly as 
the girl bent over her. "When we are in love we are 
frightened of shadows," she comforted. "I dare say 
you are right, and that Owen was thinking of those 
unhappy days that you lived through, my child. He 
was so sorry for you when I told him of them. So 
there, I don't think you need worry yourself any more 
about it." 

Mrs. Alderson's couch was drawn up close to the 
window, a window that looked out upon a carefully 
tended flower garden, with a blackground of wood and 
undulating hills. The afternoon sun was streaming in, 
shimmering on Lavender's fair face. The old lady 
lifted herself a little and gazed into the garden. 

"If I'm not very much mistaken," she said, "our 
two young friends have come back from their ride, and 
are strolling about in the garden at this very moment. 


I suppose they're afraid of intruding before the tea 
hour. If I were you, Lavender dear, I'd join them. 
Send Mr. Clithero in to have a chat with me. I like 
Mr. Clithero there's a solid honesty about him which 
appeals, and, besides, he's so devoted to Owen." 

Lavender needed no second invitation. She flut- 
tered to the window, watching for herself the two tall 
figures sauntering up the garden path, then, smiling 
and whispering tender words, she again kissed the old 
lady and ran lightly from the room. 


"WHAT'S wrong with you, old chap? You've been 
awfully glum all day not a bit yourself. Haven't I 
been behaving to your satisfaction ?" 

Owen Mayne put the question with that half-satirical 
touch in his voice which was rarely absent in his deal- 
ings with Robin. The two young men were strolling 
in the garden and smoking, waiting for the gong that 
would summon them in to tea. 

"I? Oh, I'm all rght," responded Robin, but some- 
what evasively. "Don't worry about me, Owen. I 
was really thinking that it wasn't much good my 
having come back to Selwood. I'm only in the way 
here, after all. There's nothing more that I can do. 
You're quit of Zelie at least, I hope so and you've 
only got to go ahead and make Lavender your wife, 
and the sooner the better. I believe you are really 
growing to care for the little Puritan as you called 
her. And as for her she adores the very ground you 
walk on. I'm sure of it, in spite of your doubts. It's 
all falling out just as it should and I I'm delighted. 
You are clear of a ghastly encumbrance, you'll settle 
down as master of a big estate, you'll be rich and have 

a charming wife Jove, Owen, but you are a man to 

be envied ! I shall go back to France happy on your ac- 
count and hers oh, quite happy." 

He spoke heartily, and yet there was something 


strained and unnatural in his voice. Owen glanced at 
him curiously. 

"So you're really glad, Robin?" he asked. "You're 
not sorry you refused the offer I made you? Do you 
remember that you should take my place?" 

Robin shook his head with decision. "No, no," he 
said, "never that. I should have hated, loathed my- 
self. I don't think you meant it seriously you couldn't 

Owen shrugged his shoulders. "Well, well," he said, 
"what had to be had to be. You've been a very good 
friend to me, Rob, and I'm grateful. You'll remember 
that, won't you, old chap, whatever happens in the 
future ? Do you know, there are times" his eyes were 
reflective "times when I wish that we could cut the 
last four months out of our lives altogether." 

He slashed at the grass by the side of the path with 
a twig which he had picked up. "They were jolly 
days, weren't they," he muttered; "the irresponsible 
studio days when nothing mattered?" 

"There are better things in store for you, old fel- 
low," responded Robin sturdily. "You've drawn a 
lucky number in the lottery. Stick to it. As for me, 
I shall get along all right at Fontainebleau with my 

He broke off, because at that moment Lavender ap- 
peared, a graceful figure in white, running across the 
lawn from the house. A moment or two later she 
was by their side. 

She delivered her message breathlessly. Mrs. Alder- 
son wanted a chat with Mr. Clithero. There was 
nothing strange in the request. The old lady could 
never see much company together, and it was her way 
to arrange pleasant little interviews one at a time. 

Robin walked slowly to the house. Once he turned 


and noticed that Owen and Lavender were strolling 
away together in the opposite direction. 

"It is all as it should be," he muttered, bowing his 
head, "but I oh, why must I stay here and suffer? 
For I love her so oh, I love her so!" 


IN the meanwhile Owen and Lavender wandered off 
together, their feet turning, as it were instinctively, 
towards a spot in the garden which for many years 
past had gone by the name of "The Lovers' Walk." 

This was really a long cutting in the wood which 
bordered one side of the garden, and Lavender de- 
lighted in the spot, especially in the spring, because 
of the wild flowers with which it abounded. The soft, 
mossy turf was always carpeted then with primroses, 
hyacinths, bluebells, and violets. There was a little 
silvery brook, too, that flowed murmuring through the 

At the far end of the walk, almost hidden by tree 
and bush, there was a life-sized marble statue of a girl 
in loose, flowing robes. The strange thing about it 
was that no one could say when or by whom the effigy 
had been set up. There was no mention of it in the 
family records. But though nothing was actually 
known, it was, naturally enough, believed that the figure 
had been set up to commemorate a bygone tragedy. 

The expression of the face, the attitude, all lent 
colour to this belief. The figure was represented 
standing, with arms raised, and leaning a little for- 
ward as if suddenly arrested by the sight of something 
that terrified. The lips were slightly parted, the eyes 
turned down with a look of fear in them that haunted. 
It was a sweet face, very delicate and classical, and, 
altogether, the statue was a fine piece of work. 



Nevertheless, Lavender was glad that it was so over- 
grown with shrub as to be hardly visible till one came 
quite near, only peeping out then like a wan ghost 
from among a festoon of leafy branches, for it seemed 
to her that the statue brought a discordant element, a 
suggestion of pain, into a spot that was idyllic in its 

And so they approached the "Lovers' Walk," Owen 
and Lavender, walking slowly side by side, not talking 
much as they went, for the mind of each was busy with 
its own reflections. 

The girl was very happy, timidly, deliciously ex- 
pectant. Owen cared for her she was sure of that 
now ; it was silly of her, she told herself, to have had 
any doubt of it. Mrs. Alderson had quite set her mind 
at rest. It was all clear, even from what Owen had 
whispered to her when Mr. Clithero had turned away, 
leaving them to their own company. 

"Lavender, I'm glad of the opportunity of a chat 
with you. There's something I want to say." 

Her cheeks had flushed pink she never could help 
that tell-tale blush ! but she had tried to look uncon- 
scious as she murmured, "Yes, Owen," then, casting 
down her eyes, "Which way shall we go ?" 

"To the Lovers' Walk," he had replied promptly, 
looking down into her face, a smile upon his lips. 

"Oh, yes we will gather primroses," she had cried, 
clapping her hands together. "I want some for the 
vases in the boudoir. Mother loves the spring flowers." 

"Sweet simplicity," muttered Owen to himself, 
pursing his lips together, but he drew her hand gently 
under his arm, and so they made their way in silence 
to the spot which he had chosen, the spot where he 
had decided that the fateful words must be spoken. 

For what was the use of further delay? Lavender 


loved him and was ready to give him her young and 
fragrant life. But, all unexpectedly, conscience had 
pricked him, some belated appreciation of the sin he 
had so easily, so lightly designed. This was not re- 
markable, for Owen was thoughtless and irresponsible 
rather than flagrantly unscrupulous. 

It had seemed so easy and simple at a distance. 

It was an afternoon for love vows. The long cutting 
in the wood was fragrant with the scent of spring. 
The path by the brook was in shade, but the leafy 
branches of the trees glittered as if they were spangled 
with thousands of gems as the sunrays filtered through. 
The stream made soft, murmuring music, an accom- 
paniment to the twittering of birds among the boughs. 

Lavender had soon gathered a handful of pale, dewy 
primroses. Owen watched her as she ran from tuft 
to tuft, her feet sinking in the soft moss. Her white 
dress and her fair hair, only partly hidden by her sun- 
bonnet, were in delightful harmony with the dark green 
background. Owen's artistic eyes appreciated the 
scene. Like Zelie, Lavender was slim of figure, though 
she had nothing of the feline the almost serpentine 
litheness that characterised the French girl. 

But Zelie would have been out of place in the spring 
freshness of the wood she would have presented an 
element of discord. Not that that would have been 
an offence in the eyes of Owen, to whom strong dis- 
cords and startling unconventionalities appealed; in- 
deed, even now, he was figuring Zelie in Lavender's 
place Zelie, black clad, a panther among buttercups 
and daisies ! What a fine contrast ! 

"Are they not beautiful?" Lavender came to him, 
holding up the flowers for his inspection. But he 
caught her hands and drew her to him, so that, with 


a little cry, her fingers relaxed and the primroses fell, 
a shower of gold, to her feet. 

"You are beautiful," he said; "you are the sweetest 
flower of all my flower. I love you, Lavender." 

They were spoken, the fateful words, born of deceit 
and selfishness the burning, lying words that could 
never be unsaid or forgotten. 

Lavender drew a deep sighing breath, and allowed 
her head to drop against the man's shoulder. He could 
feel the fluttering of her breast, the beating of her 
heart the heart with which he was playing so cruelly. 

For the day was not very far distant when that heart 
would bleed for the insidious blow which he was deal- 
ing now, a blow that was veiled with a kiss. And he 
did not attempt to disguise the truth from himself. 
He knew that he was a blackguard. 

"You will be my wife, Lavender?" he whispered 

hoarsely. "Oh, my dear " he lifted her head and 

gazed down into her pure blue eyes "you need not 
speak a word not a syllable if I have frightened 
you let a kiss be your answer." 

Slowly he bent his head still lower, his arm holding 
her tightly to him. And so their lips met. 

And all the while in the ears of the man the water 
of the brook flowing at his feet was singing a monot- 
onous chant. "He betrayed with a kiss he betrayed 
with a kiss with a kiss with a kiss with a kiss." 
And the birds chirped mockingly to the refrain, while 
the wind whispered it to the trees. 

But the brook was singing to Lavender too a glad 
song, the song of love exultant, while the very beating 
of her heart seemed pulsed back to her by nature that 
rejoiced for her rejoicing. 

The moments sped by moments that were precious 
to the girl in her new-found earthly paradise, moments 


that for the man were charged with a weight of self- 
reproach of which he had not deemed himself capable. 

For Lavender had touched some chord in his nature, 
of the very existence of which he was not aware. He 
did not love her, for love such as was her right, such 
as alone might be offered to her, was a stranger to his 
breast. But vaguely the very purity of her love had 
affected and moved him, reaching to some unprobed 
depth of his being, and for the moment he hated and 
despised himself. 

They strolled on by the brook, forgetting that the 
hour grew late, and that tea at the Manor must long 
ago have been served. And, after a while, Owen 
crushed down the voice of conscience within him, let- 
ting himself go with the sheer delight of having this 
beautiful young creature by his side palpitating with 
love for him, bashfully happy to lift her sweet lips, 
untasted till now, to meet the ardour of his kisses. 

At last, the world forgetting, they reached the point 
where the Lovers' Walk came to an abrupt termination 
in the thickness of the wood. And here the glint of 
white among the bushes and undergrowth suddenly 
caught Owen's eyes. He knew of the existence of 
the statue, but had never had the curiosity to examine 
it closely. 

Now, before the girl had time to realise what he 
was about to do, Owen seized a branch and drew it 
aside, laughingly remarking that they must have a 
look at the guardian spirit of the grove. 

Lavender gave a little scream as she found herself 
gazing at the white, sad figure that seemed to be look- 
ing down upon them, a wan ghost of disappointed 

"Oh, Owen," she cried, with a shudder, "I didn't 
know what you were going to do. Haven't you heard 


that there's a superstition about this statue?" She 
gently released his fingers from the bough, allowing it 
to sway back. "Let us go away, dear; oh, please, 
please, let us go away." 

He laughed at her fears, himself not addicted to 
superstitious prejudices. He wound his arm about her, 
drawing her to him, but, at the same time, turning so 
that they no longer faced the offending statue. 

"What silly fancies!" he scolded. "As if a statue 
could do any harm! But tell me, darling, what is it 
they say?" 

"They say," she answered, nestling to him, "that if 
lovers who have just plighted their troth as we have 
done, Owen should look together upon the statue 
some evil will befall them. That's why the bushes 
have been allowed to grow up all around it it has been 
buried in foliage for years and years, longer than any- 
one can remember. Oh, Owen, it's only a silly story, 
isn't it? You don't believe in omens of that sort?" 

"Of course I don't," he replied, with a laugh that, 
nevertheless, sounded a little strained. For the coinci- 
dence was, at least, peculiar. Did not evil already 
threaten ? 

"You see," Lavender went on, "the story goes that 
the lovers who gave their name to this place loved 
only for a while. It was he that failed. But she never 
knew she was true and faithful to the end." 

"What was the end?" Owen put the question with 
assumed carelessness. 

"He was found lying in the wood dead. He had 
been slain in a duel. She found his body. That is 
what you see in the statue. The poor girl is looking 
down at her dead lover lying at her feet. It's such a 
sad, pathetic little story, but, oh, Owen, don't let's 


think of it now. It seems to me suddenly as if the 
sun had gone and the wood is dark and cold." 

He led her away, chiding gently. But for him, too, 
the glamour of the day was done. Once more, as they 
followed the path by the stream, there was the echo of 
a torturing refrain in his ears nor could he close them 
against it. 

"He betrayed with a kiss with a kiss with a kiss." 
And as he walked he turned his head to the spot 
where a white glimmer among the trees betokened the 
presence of the ill-omened statue. He could see the 
figure in his mind's eye, bending forward, her eyes 
horror-filled, gazing down at the body of her dead 
lover the lover whose love had failed. 


"HAVE you any news of the lost papers, Harry?" 
Stephen Aldis put the question in a tone that was 
marked by more than a little anxiety. It was the 
first time since his arrival at Chamney Castle that 
Thursday morning the day of the great entertain- 
ment that he had been able to have a word alone with 
his host. 

He had originally intended to journey down to 
Buckinghamshire the day before, accompanying Mme. 
de Freyne, Zelie, Cecily Cuthbert, and one or two 
more of Lord Martyn's guests, for whom special car- 
riages had been reserved, but at the last minute he had 
been obliged by important business to delay his de- 
parture. This had annoyed him not a little, for he had 
been looking forward to an afternoon and evening in 
the company of the French dancing-girl, who had 
captivated him so suddenly and so strangely. 

Poor Cecily had been almost ruthlessly thrust aside, 
and she was quite conscious of the fact. Aldis, accus- 
tomed as he was to being made much of by the other 
sex, had grown careless of the finer feelings of those 
women with whom he had episodes of affection or pas- 
sion ; with him the old love was very easily put by, the 
new as easily assumed. 

His flirtations had all been so ephemeral and were 
of such small account to him; he could not see why 
they should mean more to the other party concerned. 

It was true that with Cecily he had allowed matters 


to go rather further than usual. There had been that 
suggestion of marriage. It was not he who had made 
it, but he had never taken the trouble to deny the 
rumour. He had, indeed, considered the feasibility of 
such an event. But that was before he met Zelie. 

He was very fond of Cecily no less fond of her now 
than before he knew the French girl. He certainly 
had no intention of marrying the latter, for she repelled 
him even while she attracted him so powerfully. Well, 
why should Cecily object to an interlude of the sort? 
It really meant nothing, and if Cecily were wise she 
would not worry her head about it. She could win him 
back quite easily later on, if she were not foolish 
enough to give way to jealousy. That was the one 
thing he could not bear jealousy. 

He had done his best to hint as much to Cecily, and 
because she was very quiet over it with him and did 
not make a scene he was happily under the impression 
that she understood. All was shaping itself as he 

But he did not see Cecily at those times when she 
allowed her real feelings to come to the surface. He 
did not know of the long sleepless nights and the pillow 
bedewed with tears, nor did he notice the pallor of her 
cheeks, because she understood so well the use of 

It was her nature to hide her true self from the man 
she loved. Upon the surface she was the shallow, 
light-hearted, laughing star of musical comedy that the 
world took her for, but below this there were unprobed 
depths of sentiment, smouldering fires that might at 
any moment burst forth to active life. Cecily was 
hardly conscious of them herself, save for the dull 
ache in her breast when she realised that love had 
proved unkind. 


Lord Martyn had just contrived to snatch a few 
moments to have a chat with his friend. They were 
strolling together on the great sunny terrace of the 
castle when Aldis put his question. 

"Have you any news of the lost papers, Harry?" 

Lord Martyn shook his head gravely. "I'm sorry, 
Steve, old man, no." 

Aldis knitted his brow. "Dash it!" he muttered. 
"I'd give a hundred pounds, Harry five hundred 
for this not to have happened. And it was all my own 
idiotic fault." 

"It was," agreed Martyn, who always spoke his mind 
frankly when occasion demanded. "What on earth 
possessed you to put those letters into the pocket of 
my coat is beyond my comprehension." 

"How could I guess the coat would be stolen ?" pro- 
tested Aldis. Nevertheless, he hung his head a trifle. 
"It was a mean thing ever to have wanted you to see 
the letters of that poor little girl at all," he went on, 
"and I'm ashamed of myself I really am." 

"That's because you're in a fix," said Martyn 
cynically, "and don't know what you will say to Lady 
Beatrice when you meet her. Your conscience wouldn't 
have pricked you if things hadn't gone wrong. The 
devil was sick you know the old saw." 

"I dare say you're right," said Aldis ruefully. "Any- 
way, I know I'm jolly sick with myself at the present 
moment. But I give you my word, Harry, I've not 
shown those letters to another living soul. You do be- 
lieve that, don't you?" 

Martyn nodded, gravely blowing a smoke ring from 
between his lips. He was smoking one of his invari- 
able black cigars. "It was just your infernal vanity," 
he remarked. 

"Not only that," Aldis flushed guiltily. "You were 


so jolly confident that Lady Beatrice was the last girl 
in the world to commit an indiscretion. You were 
arguing against your own theories, and I couldn't re- 
sist the temptation to put you right with them. That's 
why I said I'd show you the silly letters she wrote to 
me years ago when she was little more than a child. 
That's why I brought them round to the club that 
evening when we first met Zelie. You remember we 
sat talking in the smoking-room, and I was just about 
to produce them when someone else joined in the con- 
versation. Your coat was lying by my side, so in case 
I didn't get another opportunity I slipped the letters 
into one of the pockets. I knew I could trust you. 
But you never knew they were there, and were not 
worrying about the loss of your coat till I called round 
in the morning to ask for the wretched things back, 
and then oh, it's all a ghastly nuisance." 

"It may be a good deal worse than that," com- 
mented Martyn, pursing his lips. He liked Stephen 
Aldis as much as he liked most men, and he never 
lost his temper though it had been sorely tried in con- 
nection with this particular matter. 

"Worse how?" 

"Why, we don't know that the letters have not 
fallen into the hands of some wretched blackmailer, 
who will use them against Lady Beatrice. Just now, 
when her name is before the public, her engagement 
to Sir Donald one of the events of the season, her por- 
trait in all the papers isn't it a marvellous opportunity 
for an unscrupulous man ? My name and address were 
in one of the pockets. There's no question as to a 
thief in the case. I've made every inquiry, and the 
coat wasn't merely lost or taken by accident. Of 
course, I've had a detective on the scent, too, but with 
the usual futile result." 


The two men paused, leaning over the marble balus- 
trade. Martyn tossed away the stump of his cigar. 

"You'll meet Lady Beatrice to-day, you know," he 

"Oh, that's all right," explained Aldis hastily. 
"We've met many times since since the little inno- 
cent interlude of the past. We've laughed over it, and 
agreed that it should all be forgotten." 

"And I suppose Lady Beatrice imagines that her 
letters have long ago been destroyed?" 

Again Aldis flushed. Lord Martyn, in his blnnt 
way, had touched the mark, hit his friend on the raw. 
For Stephen Aldis had allowed Lady Beatrice Clewer, 
with whom he had flirted innocently enough in the 
past, to imagine that those foolish and incriminating 
letters which she had written were all destroyed; 
whereas in his self-conceit, the vanity of a man made 
much of by women, he had kept them as souvenirs 
trophies of his conquest. And now this meanness, 
this contemptible littleness of his character, stood re- 
vealed to a man who, of all men, was the one in whose 
estimation Aldis wished to stand high. 

For Lord Martyn professed to believe in no man's 
honour, and now in the person of one of his nearest 
friends his pessimist theory was proved correct. 

"That's all right, Steve," said Martyn, breaking the 
ominous silence. "I quite understand. And, of course, 
I'll do everything I can to put matters right if any 
trouble should befall." 

It was upon this that the two men parted, Aldis all 
the more readily because at that moment he caught 
sight of the lithe figure of Zelie slowly making her 
way across the lawn to the little group under the 
trees. She was in the company of a man whom Aldis 
did not recognise, a tall, fair boy, who was bending 


over her and laughing in a manner that indicated 
pleasant intimacy. The actor was conscious of a 
twinge of jealousy and hastened his steps across the 
soft turf of the lawn. 

Meanwhile, Lord Martyn made his way back to the 
house and settled himself down in his study. 

He was given but little leisure. He had not been 
in his study for more than ten minutes before his 
privacy was disturbed by a sedate old butler, who en- 
tered the room nervously, giving evidence by his man- 
ner of a disturbed mind. 

"What's the matter, Ronaldson?" Martyn glanced 
up from the papers on the desk before him. 

"If you please, my lord, there's a man, a foreigner, 
who wishes to see you. He won't give his name or 
state his business, but he says it's important. He 
don't speak English, and I had to get Mrs. Richards 
to interpret. I'd have packed him off, seeing that it's 
to-day, but did not like to without mentioning it to 
you. He looks a scamp, my lord." 

It was Lord Martyn's habit to see anyone who asked 
for him. He had given strict instructions that no one 
was to be turned away from his door. He found the 
cadgers and riff-raff who appealed to him on one pre- 
text or another an interesting study. 

"You may show the fellow in, Ronaldson." Just 
now, with those incriminating letters still to be re- 
covered, it was important not to miss any casual caller. 

The butler began to mutter a protest, but was dis- 
missed with a wave of the hand. Martyn resumed his 
inspection of the papers on his desk. Presently Ronald- 
son returned and ushered an ungainly figure into the 

It was Bibi Coupe-vide. He was attired in a tweed 
sut of aggressive pattern and his cravat was of lurid 


hue. He carried a black bowler hat, and his hands 
were gloved. The effect was ridiculous Bibi, the 
Apache, looked out of his element. He had taken the 
trouble to shave clean, and his receding chin was pecu- 
liarly noticeable, as were his little furtive, twinkling 
eyes. His narrow shoulders were hunched, and he 
slouched more than ever as he followed the butler into 
the study. 

Lord Martyn inspected his visitor with curiosity, 
leaning back in his chair. The fellow's face seemed 
familiar to him. 

"You may go, Ronaldson," he said to the butler, 
then he addressed Bibi in his own language. 

"You wish to see me?" 

The Apache shuffled his feet and stared at his hat. 

"Yes, milord," he mumbled. "I am glad that milord 
speaks French." 

"Sit down." 

Bibi obeyed, carefully placing his hat on the floor by 
his side. This big Englishman, with his strong face, 
penetrating eyes, and black beard, disconcerted him 
more than a little. He felt himself a weakling, and 
guessed instinctively that it would be no use to assume 
a hectoring tone. He had found it necessary to modify 
that tone a good deal since he had been in England. 

"Well, what is it? I'm very busy this morning, and 
can only give you a minute or two." Martyn wheeled 
round in his chair. There was a tone of command in 
his voice, besides a great contempt. He knew the 
type of man he was dealing with. 

Bibi began to wish he had not come, that he had 
listened to the advice of his friend Alphonse Lereux, 
who had had greater experience than he in these mat- 
ters. Alphonse had recommended dealing exclusively 
with the woman with Lady Beatrice, who was the 


writer of the incriminating letters found in Lord Mar- 
tyn's overcoat. It is so much easier to frighten a 

But Bibi had imagined himself more clever than his 
friend, and had decided on a double deal. Besides, he 
had found out that Lord Martyn lived in the neigh- 
bourhood of Selwood, where he himself had come in 
obedience to Zelie's commands, and was therefore 
easily accessible. Some ready money was urgently 
needed before Bibi carried out his coup against Owen 
Mayne, especially having regard to the necessity of 
immediate flight from the country, and here was the 
best means of obtaining it. Later on, if all went well 
so the Apache argued with himself Lady Beatrice 
might still be approached and made to pay for her in- 
discretion he had arranged for that. 

But now well, Bibi did not feel so confident of 
himself. And yet the man in whose possession these 
letters had been would surely pay for their restoration 
to save a woman's honour ! 

"Milord lost an overcoat in London last week." 
Bibi made the plunge. What was the use of holding 

"Ah!" Lord Martyn sat erect. "Well you found 

"Not I a friend of mine. He took it by error from 
a restaurant." 

The lie was so palpably absurd that Martyn laughed. 
Bibi, too, allowed his lips to relax in a grin. 

"Your friend took my coat by mistake. Well, let 
it go at that. You wish to restore it?" 

This was impossible, for it had already been pawned. 

"I have not got the coat, milord," said Bibi, 
"but " he hesitated, scraping his feet on the carpet. 

"There were papers letters," prompted Martyn. 


"Yes, milord. I thought they might be of im- 
portance. I have brought them. I have them here." 
He tapped his pocket. 

"All of them?" 

"Yes, milord," lied Bibi. He had taken the pre- 
caution to leave two of the most incriminating letters 
in London. 

"Well, hand them over and we'll say no more about 
the coat taken by mistake." 

This was a high-handed way of dealing with him 
which did not at all meet with Bibi's approval. "Par- 
don, milord," he muttered surlily, "but these letters 
they are worth money to you or to the lady or to the 
other gentleman I care not which. I have come to 
you first. Will you buy them from me? If not, I go 

"I see," said Martyn easily. "It is a case of black- 
mail. How much do you want?" 

"I think five hundred pounds," said Bibi modestly. 
"It is serious for the lady if monsieur her fiance 
should see those letters." Bibi had acquired all the 
necessary information about Lady Beatrice Clewer 
from his friend Lereux. 

"And you've got them all with you?" 

"Every one," lied the Apache again more cheer- 
fully now, for things seemed going well after all. He 
felt as if those five hundred pounds were already in 
his pocket. 

"I'm glad to hear it." There was a smile on Mar- 
tyn's lips, and he eyed the Frenchman with infinite 
disdain. "I should say you were new to the business 
of blackmailing or you'd never have brought the letters 
with you. A poor sort of rogue. Kindly empty out 
your pockets. Every one and at once." 

Bibi started to his feet, an imprecation upon his 


lips. This was turning the tables with a vengeance. 
What a fool he had been ! It was true that he should 
have made his negotiations first and produced the 
letters afterwards. This natural expedient had not 
occurred to his dull brain. 

"Do as I bid you." Lord Martyn had risen, too, and 
taken a quick step in the direction of the Apache. The 
latter looked little more than a boy by the side of the 
burly Englishman. 

Bibi retreated. "Milord will not purchase?" he 
faltered. "Then, please permit that I go." 

He made a sudden dash for the door, but Martyn 
was too quick for him. Bibi's shoulders were gripped 
by two powerful hands. With a snarl of rage, like a 
trapped beast, the Apache, whose hands were still free, 
felt for, and found, his knife. He had no strength, 
but he had quickness and cunning. And that knife 
had already seen service. 


THIS was not the first time in his life that Lord Martyn 
had been involved in trouble with gentlemen of the 
same kidney as Bibi Coupe-vide. He knew the dangers 
that had to be avoided. Your Apache may be physi- 
cally weak a poor specimen of humanity but he has 
methods of self-defence which are apt to take the un- 
initiated by surprise. 

Martyn remembered how he had once seen a friend 
of his a big man, too knocked out by an unexpected 
kick from a heavy boot under the jaw. So, to avoid 
any possible exercise of la savate that un-English 
method of fighting it was necessary to keep at close 
quarters. It was against Bibi's feet rather than his 
hands that the Englishman was on his guard. 

And so Bibi got a blow in with his knife, but it 
was an ineffectual one. The blade pierced his op- 
ponent's coat over the right breast, and then met with 
an obstruction in the shape of a heavy gun-metal cigar 
case, which Lord Martyn happened to be carrying in 
his pocket. The shock of the impact wrenched the 
weapon from Bibi's hand, and the next moment he was 
swept from his feet, lifted up like a child, and then 
thrown down again, panting and half throttled, upon 
a low easy-chair. 

He lay there gasping out the vilest invectives, but 
he made no attempt to renew the fray. Lord Martyn 
watched him for a moment or two, then he turned his 
attention to the rent in his coat, as though that were 



of primary importance. Next he picked up the knife 
from the floor and threw it carelessly upon his desk. 

"I think I'll keep that as a souvenir of our pleasant 
meeting," he remarked. "You'll have to get yourself 
another, my friend. A lot of good it would have done 
if you had stuck it into me," he added, smiling behind 
his beard, "for you couldn't have got away, you know." 

He did not think for a moment of giving his assailant 
in charge. It would not have been like Martyn to do 

Bibi growled an inaudible reply. He was getting his 
breath back, and beginning to contemplate the possi- 
bility of an escape. The letters still reposed in his 

But they were not to remain there long. "If you 
won't turn out your pockets of your own accord, I 
shall have to do it for you," said Lord Martyn, "and 
I may possibly have to use you roughly in the job. 
You can see for yourself that you are quite helpless." 

The fact, indeed, was self-evident. Bibi, huddled 
up in his chair, deprived of his knife, gasping still, 
was not in a position to offer resistance to anything 
that the powerful, muscular Englishman should com- 

"Now, then hurry up; I'll give you just one minute 
to hand over the letters," Martyn took out his watch 
and fixed his eyes upon it. 

Bibi changed his tone to a whine. "Very well, 
milord. You shall have them. But you won't be hard 
upon me. I'm a poor man, and badly in need of 
money. If I were a blackmailer I'd not have brought 
the letters with me." It struck him that this was a 
point in his defence. 

"The minute is nearly up." Lord Martyn slowly 
replaced his watch and advanced a step nearer. "Your 


object was blackmail," he added. "It's your own look- 
out that you are a fool as well as a rogue." 

Bibi muttered something under his breath, and then 
produced the papers. They were done up in a little 
packet and tied with delicate pink ribbon. Lord Mar- 
tyn took them from the hand of the Apache, glanced 
at the top one, recognising at once the handwriting of 
Lady Beatrice Clewer, though it was still unformed and 
girlish, then, as some affectionate phrase met his eye, 
he swore an oath behind his beard, and thrust the 
letters into his pocket. 

''That is all you swear it ?" there was a frown upon 
his forehead for which Bibi was not responsible. Even 
a cynic may cherish some illusions, and Lady Beatrice 
Clewer was the fondest of any that remained to Lord 
Martyn. He had enshrined her in a secret place in his 
heart, set her, in some curious way, apart from the 
common frailties of humanity. He had never admitted 
to living soul his weakness in his armour he never 
would admit it. Nevertheless, the knowledge that Lady 
Beatrice was, after all, upon the same level as every 
other woman as he regarded woman had come to 
him as a staggering blow. 

"Mais oui that is all." 

"Turn out all your pockets so that I may see." 

Bibi obeyed with the best grace that he could muster 
under the circumstances. After all, it did not really 
matter that these letters should be given up. Even 
one by itself was quite as useful as the whole packet. 
Bibi reflected that he still had his weapon to hand, 
and, one day, he would take a fine revenge for the sum- 
mary treatment that had been meted out to him. He 
wouldn't be content with five hundred pounds then 
not he. 

Lord Martyn was not content until he had seen all 


Bibi's pockets thoroughly turned out. When this had 
been effectually done he drew back a pace or two and 
scrutinised the scowling face of the man in the 
chair with some amusement and rather more interest 
than he had hitherto manifested. 

"So you've come off second best, my French friend," 
he remarked ; "not that you didn't have a good try to 
put me out of the way. It's lucky for you that you 
failed." He glanced at the rent in his coat. "You'd 
have got yourself into a mess if you'd really hurt me. 
As it is, we'll say no more about that." 

Bibi drew a deep breath of relief. He had had a 
lurking fear that the police might yet be called in, and 
that would have been disastrous for him just now. He 
rose gingerly, for his limbs still ached, to his feet. 

"Then I may go ?" 

"In a minute in a minute." Lord Martyn was still 
scrutinising Bibi's face intently. "It has just occurred 
to me," he went on, "that I've seen you before. You're 
an Apache of Montmartre, or some other part of Paris 
a perfect type of your kind. Your sort don't often 
come to England. What are you doing over here and 
where the devil have I seen you ?" 

"How should I know I?" Bibi shrugged his 
shoulders with a gesture that indicated impatience. He 
was anxious to be off. 

"What is your name?" 

"They call me Bibi Coupe-vide." 

Lord Martyn's eyes shot a keen glance of recog- 
nition. He remembered quite well now. A picture 
quickly fashioned itself in his brain of a long hall, 
murky with tobacco smoke, and reeking of beer, spirits, 
and humanity. There was a stage at one end and a 
poor pretence of scenery. Those who could afford it 
found more elbow-room in little boxes raised a trifle 


above the level of the parterre, but which were only 
divided from each other by waist-high partitions and 
which had no privacy about them. It was from one of 
these boxes that Lord Martyn had discovered Zelie. 

"Ah ! You danced at the Florian ?" 

"Yes." Bibi drew himself up, trying to square his 
narrow shoulders. After all, he was a person of some 
importance. His reputation had preceded him even 
with this Milor Anglais. 

"With Zelie who was called Zelie la Couleuvre?" 


Lord Martyn pulled at his beard. A train of suspi- 
cion had been aroused in his mind. For, surely, the 
appearance of this fellow, this Apache, upon the scene 
was not wholly due to coincidence ? 

"I want you to tell me the whole truth. It may be 
very much to your advantage to do so. You know 
that Mademoiselle Zelie is in England?" 

"Yes." It was slowly dawning upon Bibi that he 
might be committing himself. He shuffled nervously 
with his feet. 

"Do you know where she is at present?" 

"I suppose in London." Bibi's replies were sullen. 
What was the meaning of these questions? Why 
should he trouble to answer them ? 

"Did you come to England with her?" This was 
the point concerning which Lord Martyn was most 
troubled. Zelie by herself was all very well, and would 
fulfil the destiny which he had foreseen for her, but if 
she were already hampered by a masculine appendage 
and such a one ! then the prospects for the future 
took on a different aspect altogether. 

"No. Why do you ask me these questions? Why 
should I answer them?" Bibi edged sideways towards 


the door. "I've had enough. One would think that 
you belonged to the police yourself. Let me go." 

"Not until we've had our talk out." Martyn spoke 
with decision. When he wished he could assume a tone 
that brooked no contradiction. He pointed to a chair, 
and Bibi, all against his will, and because he couldn't 
help himself, dropped into it. 

For here was a mystery that had to be solved. If 
Zelie really cared for this fellow, then good-bye to her 
prospects of success. She had much better return to 
her native slums. But if, as was more likely, she was 
being followed, tracked, then some steps must be taken 
to rid her of the persecution. 

Lord Martyn, unwilling to pay a farthing under 
compulsion, had no care for the money he spent to 
attain anything he desired. He stepped to his desk, un- 
locked a drawer, and produced a handful of banknotes. 

"You may yet go away with your pockets lined," 
he said. "I'm a queer person, you see, M. Bibi 
1'Apache, and I bear you no grudge for trying to black- 
mail and then knife me. You just acted according to 
the ways of your kind, and you're no more responsible 
than if you were a puppet dangled at the end of a lot 
of strings. We're all of us dangled on strings, if it 
comes to that." 

Lord Martyn laughed and broke off, recognising that 
he was not understood. "To come to the point," he 
went on in more ordinary tone. "I want you to tell 
me what you are doing in England, and what is your 
present connection with Mademoiselle Zelie." 

Bibi greedily eyed the bank-notes that lay upon the 
desk. He had only to talk, to tell a plausible story, and 
they would be in his pocket. Certainly, it must be true, 
what he had so often heard, that all the English are 


But he did not allow his cupidity to blind him to the 
necessity for discretion. Bibi had his full share of 
natural cunning. He had divined that this Milor 
whose coat had fallen into his possession, was most 
probably the same one of whom Zelie had spoken when 
she referred to her new and powerful friends in Eng- 
land, through whose influence she was going to rise 
to such astonishing heights, and he would certainly 
have refrained from his attempt at blackmail had he 
anticipated any danger of his connection with Zelie 
being revealed. For, of course, that revelation might 
lead to others all unpleasant. How he obtained the 
coat, for instance, and under what circumstances. 

So he must be careful what he said, for his own sake 
as well as for Zelie's. It would be a catastrophe, in- 
deed, if those wonderful prospects of hers should be 
interfered with because of his blunder why, it would 
be the ruin of all the hopes he had been building for 
himself on the strength of her word! And that was 
most serious of all. 

So Bibi was on his guard lest he should say a word 
to betray any immediate connection between Zelie and 
himself, and being a cunning rogue, with the blood of 
centuries of villainy in his veins, he. contrived to put 
together a plausible story enough. 

"I don't see that it's any affair of yours," he said, 
with a dogged sullenness that was more or less as- 
sumed to hide the avidity with which he had watched 
the production of the notes, "but since you want the 
information, and don't mind paying for it, I'm willing 
to talk. Go ahead. Ask any question you like." 

Lord Marty n seated himself at his desk. He kept his 
eyes fixed upon the face of the Apache as he proceeded 
with his interrogatory. 


"You tell me you did not accompany Zelie to Eng- 
land. Is that the truth?" 

"It is. I swear it." 

"Why did you come?" 

"Mon Dieu!" Bibi spread out his palms. He was 
speaking the truth because there was, at present, no 
object in lying. "She had left me and she was my 
gosse. I had been in gaol on her account. I was 
wild with her jealous. And there were other reasons 
why I wished to be out of Paris. I had enemies, you 
understand, fellows who would have knifed me in the 
dark. So I came to London to find Zelie." 

"And you found her ?" 

It was now that caution was needed. Bibi was equal 
to the occasion. "Not to speak to. I traced her to a 
club in London. I knew she would go there to see 
a friend." 

"The Delphic Club?" 

"That's it. She came out with two gentlemen 
I could not see their faces. She drove off with them 
in an automobile. I did not venture to interfere. But 
I followed running. The street was crowded, and 
the carriage couldn't travel fast. Luckily it didn't go 
far. It stopped at the door of a big restaurant " 

"An hotel," corrected Martyn. So far the story 
sounded reasonable enough. 

"Zelie got out and the two gentlemen. I think that 
one of them was yourself, milord. All three went into 
the hotel. Again I did not dare to follow. The auto- 
mobile drew up in a rank with the other carriages to 
wait. I hung about it you see, I wanted to find out 
about Zelie. An opportunity came the chauffeur was 
talking to other men I looked in and saw the coat ly- 
ing there " Bibi paused dramatically. 

"You took it stole it?" 


"It was not that I meant to steal. I thought that 
I might find in the pockets something that would help 
me to get into definite touch with Zelie. You under- 
stand me, milord it was my love for her that prompted 
me." Bibi flattered himself that he was telling his story 
quite artistically. "She would not have spoken to me 
had I ventured to address her that afternoon. So it 
was all that I could do to take the coat." 

"This was last Saturday nearly five days ago. Why 
did you not come to see me earlier ? My card was in a 
pocket of the cloak. I presume that M. Bibi Coupe- 
vide was occupied in obtaining his facts in order to 
turn the letters he had found to improper account. 
The desire to trace Zelie gave way to this glorious 
chance of blackmail. Am I right ?" 

Lord Martyn put the question quietly, though with 
a disdainful curve of his lip. He was inclined to be- 
lieve the story, which certainly sounded plausible, and 
was relieved to know that there was no manner of 
connection at present between his protegee and this 
very undesirable alien. That was the main point, and 
it was his business to see that Bibi Coupe-vide was 
packed out of the country as soon as possible. 

"I thought you would be pleased to have the letters, 
and that at the same time I might find my Zelie," ad- 
mitted Bibi unabashed. He felt proud of himself for 
having tackled a difficult task so successfully. He 
had not said a single word to betray Zelie, and he had 
fully earned those notes that lay there so invitingly on 
the desk. 

"I see." Lord Martyn carefully selected five of the 
notes and folded them slowly. "So that is your story. 
And you swear that you have not spoken to Madem- 
oiselle Zelie since she has been in England ?" 

"I swear it." 


"Good. Well, M. Bibi Coupe-vide, it strikes me 
that you are such a fine specimen of a rogue that your 
talents are wasted in England. I suggest that you 
return to your native country and stay there. The 
price you asked for the letters was five hundred pounds. 
Well, I will give you fifty pounds now and a card of 
introduction to my agent in Paris, who will pay you 
fifty pounds a month for the next year as long as 
you can prove to his satisfaction and mine that you 
have not attempted to return to this country. What 
do you say?" 

The offer was a tempting one. Fifteen hundred 
francs a month ! to say nothing of Zelie's promises 
of untold wealth to come if he should succeed in doing 
what she wished him to do. And he had laid his plans 
for that plans which were bound to be successful. 
Yes, he could safely promise to leave the country! 

There could no longer be any vestige of doubt in his 
mind that what Zelie had told him was true. She 
had found powerful friends and was going to make 
her mark. She must have a free hand for year per- 
haps. After that well, she was still la gosse & Bibi, 
his name was indelibly impressed upon her arm, and 
he would see to it that he kept his own. 

"I consent," he said, so eagerly that Lord Martyn 
was constrained to smile. 

The remaining details were quickly settled. Bibi 
promised to return to London that day. He was to 
be driven to the station and seen off by one of Lord 
Martyn's servants. Here Bibi made a mental reserva- 
tion that no one need be any the wiser if he should 
return by a late train that evening as, indeed, would 
be necessary if he was to carry out his plans. He 
would get out at another station a few m:les from Sel- 
wood, and walk across country. The fact that he 


would be apparently leaving for London that afternoon 
in so open a manner fitted in most excellently with his 

He undertook to be in Paris by Saturday morning. 
He was to call on the agent at once, so that his arrival 
might be reported. This again suited him admirably. 
For, if all fell out as Bibi hoped, he would have struck 
his blow at Owen Mayne before another twelve hours 
were over, and then, naturally, a speedy flight from 
England was indicated. Oh, yes, he trusted to be 
safely in Paris by Saturday morning. And he would 
not be hampered by the want of money, either he had 
certainly been in luck when he decided to call upon 
this mad Englishman ! Affairs that begin badly often 
turn out well. 

These matters having been duly settled, Lord Mar- 
tyn handed over the stipulated number of notes, which 
Bibi grabbed with lean and none too clean fingers. 
Then the bell was rung, the butler summoned, and 
instructions given as to the train by which the French- 
man must leave and the manner of his conveyance to 
the station. 

They passed out of the study into the great hall to- 
gether, Lord Martyn a little in advance. And it was 
at that very moment that Zelie, escorted by Stephen 
Aldis, appeared, coming from the side corridor that 
led to the terrace entrance. Martyn muttered an oath 
in his beard, but the meeting was inevitable. 

Aldis and the French girl were laughing together, 
evidently on the best of terms. It was the luncheon 
hour, and Zelie was making a pretence of taking off 
her hat. The actor was attempting to help her. There 
was a familiarity about the whole proceeding which 
must have struck the most casual observer. 

Bibi was hidden by the stalwart form of Lord Mar- 


tyn. It was the latter only that Zelie saw. She ran 
forward, her eyes flashing with merriment. 

"I have sought for you, milord," she exclaimed, 
"but they always tell me you are busy. And since 
noon, M. Aldis, he has not left me alone, though I 
tell him there are those who will be jealous." 

Suddenly she broke off she had caught sight of 
Bibi slouching behind her host. 

The smile deserted her lips, and her thin, small face 
took on that unhuman and feline expression which was 
peculiar to it in moments of annoyance. Her lips 
quivered as though there were venom upon them. 
Lord Martyn, watching her, was not ill-pleased. For 
it was evident that Zelie did not welcome this appari- 
tion from the past. 

"It's all right, Zelie," he explained, quickly. "M. 
Bibi Coupe-vide I believe that is the gentleman's 
name and I have been having a talk, and we have 
arranged matters quite harmoniously. As a matter 
of fact, I rather fancy that this meeting is as unex- 
pected to him as it is to you." 

The fact was self-evident. Bibi had had no idea 
that Zelie was at Chamney Castle when he had de- 
cided upon his visit to Lord Martyn. He had imagined 
her in London, making the arrangements for her Eng- 
lish stage career, and, doubtless, waiting impatiently 
for intelligence from him that he had succeeded in 
avenging her with Owen Mayne. 

He was taken utterly aback, and his face expressed 
a foolish surprise that had, also, something of trepi- 
dation in it. For, despite his brutality, he was not 
without a certain fear and respect for Zelie. 

To think that this splendid creature was his gosse, 
Zelie la Couleuvre, the Dancing Girl of Montmatre! 
It seemed almost outside the realms of possibility. 


"Zelie," he gasped. "Nom de Dieu, but who'd have 
thought it?" 

Zelie quickly recovered herself; indeed, it was only 
Lord Martyn who had noticed the flash of malevolent 
anger which had crossed her face. Her quick brain 
had realised the purport of Bibi's visit. She had an- 
ticipated from the first moment when she had heard 
of the lost papers that such an event might occur. It 
was not to intrude himself upon her that Bibi had 
come to Chamney Castle, and it was evident enough 
that, whatever had happened between him and Lord 
Martyn, no harm to herself had been done. 

And, all at once, a sudden inspiration came to her. 
Her whole face lit up, her eyes sparkled, and her 
white teeth flashed. 

'"Cre nom!" she exclaimed in her turn, bursting 
into a ringing laugh. "Who'd have thought it? My 
Bibi !" She took Bibi's hand, shaking it with unneces- 
sary violence, laughing melodiously all the time. The 
Apache seemed to shrink from her, regarding her 
furtively from the corners of his narrow eyes. 

"M. Bibi is leaving for London by an early train 
this afternoon, Zelie," explained Lord Martyn, after 
he had watched the scene for a moment, appreciating 
the comedy of it. "He came to see me on a matter 
of business, and this is really only a chance meeting. 
I have arranged to send him to the station." 

But this arrangement did not appeal to Zelie. She 
had formed other plans. "Ah, mais non!" she cried. 
"I cannot allow my Bibi to depart thus. Bibi shall 
dance with me to-night. We will perform our famous 
Danse du Neant" she clapped her hands together 
delightedly "and you shall see ah, you shall see what 
a success Bibi and I will make of it !" 


OF course, Zelie had her way, though her proposal was 
hardly received with acclamation. On the contrary, 
Lord Martyn did his utmost to dissuade her from such 
a course, while Stephen Aldis both looked and spoke 
his disapprobation. 

Yet, in a way, Martyn was amused, and, after all, 
he cared not a snap of his fingers for what people said 
about him. 

And so arrangements were made for a rehearsal 
that afternoon, and then the scene came to a conclusion. 

Bibi was left in the temporary charge of the unhappy 
Ronaldson, who showed himself peculiarly averse to 
the job. He was to be given a good meal and looked 
after generally. Luckily for the butler, Cooper, Lord 
Martyn's valet, was thoroughly conversant with 
French, and could be pressed into service also. 

Ronaldson's mental denunciation of "furriners" in- 
cluded Zelie as well as the masculine intruder. 

Before joining the rest of the house-party at lunch 
Lord Martyn seized the opportunity to have a private 
word with Stephen Aldis. He drew the latter into 
his study and closed the door. 

"Steve, old man," he said, "you'll be glad to hear 
that I've done a stroke of business on your account. 
You can set your mind at rest about those letters. 
Here they are." 

Martyn produced the packet of papers, still tied up 
with pink ribbon, from his pocket, and handed it to 



his friend. "You may thank your lucky stars," he 
went on, "that you've got out of the mess so easily." 

Aldis was loud in his exclamations of surprise and 
thanks. He scrutinised the letters, but without un- 
doing the ribbon. There was a warm flush upon his 
cheek. "But how on earth did you get them, Harry ?" 
he inquired. 

Lord Martyn told the story briefly. "The fellow 
came to England in pursuit of Zelie, you see," he ex- 
claimed, "but I think it's true that they have not 
actually met before to-day. Indeed, I'm quite sure 
that they were both genuinely surprised and taken 
aback. And now, if I were you," he added, "I'd de- 
stroy those letters before they are capable of doing any 
real damage, and then you can meet Lady Beatrice 
with a more or less easy conscience." 

Aldis protested eagerly that he would do as he was 
advised. "I can't say how grateful to you I am, 
Harry," he muttered, "nor how ashamed of myself. 
But you'll think none the worse of Lady Beatrice, will 
you? Believe me, it was nothing on her part but just 
a silly, girlish prank." 

"I'm quite sure of that," responded Martyn readily, 
but he turned his head away so that Aldis could not 
see his face. 

"And now" Martyn glanced at the rent in his coat 
"both you and I I especially will want to get ready 
for lunch." He tapped his breast and smiled. "And 
my dear Steve, let this be a warning to you. Zelie is 
dangerous. Don't play with edged tools you have no 
need to. Of course, it's a fascinating game " 

"She's a siren, Harry." Aldis blurted out the 
avowal. "She makes me lose my head. I don't know 
why, because she doesn't really encourage me, rather 
the reverse. I know I shall never win her, and that's 


the devil of it. For I feel that I must go on, that she's 
the one thing I want upon earth. It's a torture and a 
delight. When I'm alone I tell myself that I'm a fool 
and I try to think of Cecily, but it's no use. Zelie 
absorbs me. I could curse you for taking her up and 
I could thank you on my bended knees. That's how 
I feel." 

"Keep out of her way, Steve," said Martyn, his 
usual bluff tone softening. "Go back to London to- 
morrow. I thought that you, at least, were safe. I 
didn't sharpen my panther's claws for you." Suddenly 
his voice changed again, and he turned sharply upon 
Aldis. "Good heavens, man, haven't you got your 
Cecily, haven't you got all the most beautiful women 
in London at your feet? Can't you be content?" 

"A man always wants the unattainable," muttered 
Aldis almost sullenly. 

"He turns naturally to the evil," retorted Martyn 
mockingly. "Well, well, Steve," he added, "it's not 
for me to control you. You're a man of mature under- 
standing. Which means that if someone points out a 
way to you you're bound to take the other. So please 
consider my advice unsaid." 

"A queer fellow, Harry," was Aldis's private com- 
ment as, a little later, he made his way to the dining- 
room. "I sometimes wonder if those people aren't 
right who say he's a bit mad." 

As for Martyn, he remained alone in his study for a 
few minutes after the departure of his friend. He 
sat by his desk, resting his chin in the palm of one of 
his hands, while with the other he played with the knife 
which he had secured from Bibi. He ran his finger 
along the edge. 

"The panther's claw" so he communed with him- 
self "yes, it's sharp and keen. There was once a 


man," he went on, as if he were telling himself a story, 
"who made it his profession to scoff and despise his 
fellows. And he owned a panther, which lived safely 
ensconced behind its bars. And one and all admired 
it, saying, 'How sleek is its coat, how wonderful its 
eyes, how graceful its gait!' Then, one day, in de- 
rision, he unloosed the bars and the panther was free. 
And, first of all, it turned upon those who were nearest 
and dearest to the man's heart, and rent them limb 
from limb, and, as he tried to cage it once more, it fell 
upon him and rent him too." 

Lord Martyn quietly dropped the knife into a drawer 
of his desk, then he pushed back his chair and rose. 

"Which things are an allegory," he added, as he 
made his slow way to his room. Here he changed 
his clothes and made elaborate preparations for meet- 
ing his guests at the luncheon table. 

He was smiling again when he seated himself at 
their head, quite restored to his normal self. And 
Zelie was placed beside him upon his left. 


THEY were rehearsing that afternoon in the great ball- 
room of Chamney Castle, where the entertainment was 
to take place some hours later. It was great fun, more 
particularly perhaps because the workpeople were still 
busy with the decorations and general preparations, 
and, consequently, confusion and general pandemonium 
reigned from end to end of the hall. 

Beyond the four great marble pillars which divided 
the room into two parts a stage had been erected with 
all the requisite accessories. A space had been railed 
off for the orchestra, which, however, when the time 
for the performance came, would be practically hidden 
by banks of flowers. There was to be dancing after 
supper, when the orchestra would be removed to a 
more prominent position upon the stage. A smaller 
hall adjoining the main apartment afforded all the ac- 
commodation that was needed for the chaperons. 
Three great windows upon the south side gave direct 
access to the terrace, lawns, and garden of the Castle. 

Outside the hall there was almost as much movement 
as within, for the lawns were being edged with thou- 
sands of multi-coloured fairy lamps, while Chinese 
lanterns were being suspended from all the available 
trees within a wide radius of the Castle. 

Zelie was enjoying herself mightily and was already 
quite conscious of the fact that she was regarded as a 
kind of queen qf Jjie forthcoming revelry. She had, in 



fact, not been a dozen hours at Chamney Castle before 
it was evident that all the men at least were at her 
feet. The women, perhaps, held more aloof. But, 
then, Zelie never troubled herself about the opinion of 
her own sex. 

Of course, the guests whom Lord Marty n had col- 
lected together under his roof were all more or less 
of the Bohemian order. Had it been otherwise Zelie 
would certainly have found it more difficult to hold 
her own. She was, however, happily unconscious of 
any such social distinctions, and imagined herself 
already moving among the proudest of England's 

And certainly the names of her fellow-guests were 
such as might well have excused the misunderstanding. 
Some twenty in all, there was hardly one, man or 
woman, who was not well known through the length 
and breadth of the land and beyond it. 

Such, for instance, were Stephen Aldis and Cecily 
Cuthbert, both stage constellations of magnitude ; such 
was Mme. de Freyne, known to the cosmopolitan world 
of letters; such, again, was Sir Donald Ransom, who 
had latterly achieved great fame by his explorations 
over unknown territory in Central Asia. 

It was towards the close of one of these expeditions 
that Sir Donald had fallen in with Lord Martyn, and 
the two men had been fast friends ever since. Lord 
Martyn, therefore, had regarded the young explorer's 
engagement to Lady Beatrice Clewer, for whom he 
had so deep and tender a regard, with especial eyes of 

Lady Beatrice herself, now some twenty-two years 
of age, was one of the most popular figures, as well 
as the most beautiful, in London society. Her father, 
the Earl of Albyn, had been a highly placed diplomat. 


He had devoted all his love to Lady Beatrice, and it 
was upon his death, little more than two years ago, 
that he had invoked the good will of his friend Lord 
Martyn on behalf of his fondly loved daughter. For, 
as it happened, the present Countess of Albyn, the 
Earl's second wife, was a woman addicted to fast com- 
pany. She loved to squander large sums at Monte 
Carlo, while her figure was a familiar one upon the 
race-course. Scandal had more than once attached 
itself to her name. But for this she did not care a 
scrap. She was a good-natured woman, very much of 
the horsy type, and she liked to talk to men as if she 
herself belonged to their sex. 

So much of the Albyn history was generally known. 
But there were many who affirmed that the secret side 
of it had not yet been written, but that if Lord Mar- 
tyn cared to speak he could tell a story which would 
astonish Society. Lord Martyn, however, was not the 
kind of man to unseal his lips for the gratification of 
vulgar curiosity. 

Of course, the Countess of Albyn was of the house 
party, and besides her, to name but two or three who 
had already attracted Zelie's attention, there were Gil- 
bert Farrington, the eccentric artist, George Hamand, 
the famous gentleman rider, and Guy Menzies, who 
would undoubtedly be a Cabinet Minister when his 
party were once more returned to power. 

Zelie was anxious to have a talk with Bibi, but it 
needed some careful manoeuvring to bring about the 
desired interview. She found it necessary at last to 
appeal to Lord Martyn that he should have the stage 
cleared in order that she and Bibi might rehearse their 
Danse du Neant. The rest of her performance had 
already been arranged, but she would have to instruct 
the leader of the orchestra in certain points which it 


was essential for him to observe if the dance were to 
be a success. 

And so Bibi was sent for, and he arrived, accom- 
panied by the French-speaking valet, just as a laughing 
company of young people scrambled down from the 
stage in obedience to Lord Martyn's imperative but 
genially spoken order. Bibi felt himself stared at, 
despised, made an object of derision. He was quite 
sure that they were laughing at him, and as he stepped 
back to allow th.e little group to pass he scowled and 
assumed an even more hang-dog expression than he 
wore habitually. 

"What an ugly-looking brute!" It was Sir Donald 
who whispered the remark to his fiancee. "He looks 
as if he'd like to stick a knife into any one of us. I 
don't know what Martyn's about to allow such a fellow 
to take part in the show." 

"He's going to dance with your Mile. Zelie," replied 
the girl, slightly accenting the pronoun. Sir Donald, 
in her opinion, had already been over-attentive to the 
French girl. 

"Well, she's a marvel by herself," responded the 
man, "and if she dances as they say she does, she's 
going to take London by storm.''' 

"She frightens me," replied the girl simply. Then 
she turned to Cecily Cuthbert, who was just behind her, 
and linked her arm in that of the young actress, for 
whom she was feeling no little sympathy. 

"What shall we do next, now that we're turned out 
of the hall, Cecily?" she asked lightly. "I move we 
get Donald to take us for a row on the lake. It's 
so oppressively hot, and we could just paddle about 
for a bit. We needn't be energetic, since we shall be 
dancing till dawn." 


She glanced up appealingly at her tall, handsome 
lover. "You'll take us, Don, won't you?" 

Sir Donald promised he would. He smiled down 
into the eyes of the girl, taking no heed of the very 
gentle rebuke which she had offered him. He was 
guiltily conscious of having paid Zelie rather more 
attention than he need. 

"No, you must excuse me," said Cecily, quietly 
disengaging her arm. "I'm sure you two will be quite 
happy by yourselves." Her eyes were directed to- 
wards the stage, Stephen Aldis was still lingering there. 
His figure was just visible in the wings, and he was 
talking with Zelie, who had thrown herself down upon 
a property chair. 

"Come along, Bee," said Donald. "We'll saunter 
down towards the lake. Cecily may be able to join 
us later on. Poor little woman," he added, as he gently 
conducted his fiancee through one of the windows that 
opened on to the garden. "She's consumed with 
jealousy, and I must say that Aldis is playing it up 
rather thick." 

And so, laughing and whispering to each other the 
sweet nothings in which young lovers delight, they 
strolled happily to the lake, where they embarked 
upon a little boat and lost themselves for the rest of 
the afternoon in the shadow of the great trees whose 
leafy branches overhung the water. 

In the meanwhile Zelie was all impatience to get 
rid of the persistent Stephen Aldis. "There's Miss 
Cuthbert waiting for you," she said, "and she's been 
looking daggers at both of us all day." Zelie gave a 
short, rather malicious laugh. "At least, I can't call 
it looking daggers," she added, "for that isn't the way 
with your Englishwomen. They just appear sad and 


as if they wanted to shed tears. I call that silly, for 
no man's worth weeping for." 

"Have you ever cried, Zelie?" he asked musingly. 

"I ?" She laughed again, a hard laugh. "Yes, with 
passion, and, once or twice, long ago, because I was 
cold and hungry. But for love" she shrugged her 
narrow shoulders "ah, mais non never, never!" 

It was at this moment that Bibi stepped on to the 
stage. He was approaching from the opposite wing, 
and he stared about him with surly defiance. The 
valet, having brought him safely to his destination, had 
remained in the body of the hall. He had his instruc- 
tions not to let his charge out of sight. 

"And you're going to dance to-night with this fel- 
low?" said Aldis in an undertone. "What do you do 
it for, Zelie? You are so charming, so wonderful, by 
yourself. And to think that you will be held in the 
arms of a creature like that it is revolting." 

And yet, even as he said the words, he knew that it 
was all right and proper, artistically just as it should 
be. For Bibi Coupe-vide was the mate that nature 
had ordained for Zelie, the Snake-woman, Zelie, Queen 
of the Apaches, who was in truth out of her element at 
Chamney Castle. 

Zelie stared at him as if she did not fully understand. 
"Revolting? To dance with my Bibi? Ah, mais non, 
par exemple, for Bibi can dance you shall see for 
yourself to-night." 

Aldis abandoned the task as hopeless. At any rate, 
he reflected, this objectionable intruder was to be 
packed off the next day. And though Lord Martyn 
had yielded on this occasion to Zelie's solicitude, hardly 
being able to prevent himself under the circumstances, 
he would certainly not be so weak again. 


"And now I want to talk to Bibi about the dance. 
You must go away." 

Zelie had risen and was standing face to face with 
the actor, her hands clasped behind her back, her face 
impertinently tilted up, her chin prominent, her red, 
alluring lips parted over the white, cruel teeth. 

Stephen Aldis forgot the Apache standing there upon 
the stage within a few yards of him, forgot everything 
save that this woman maddened and intoxicated him. 
He opened his arms, and it was all he could do to re- 
frain from kissing her where she stood. 

"You black witch !" he muttered hoarsely. "I don't 
know what you have done to me. You have the 
fascination of all the evil things that were ever put 
into the world. You make my brain reel." 

She stepped back a pace or two, still smiling up at 
him, revelling in her power over the brute in man. She 
lifted a slim forefinger, and shook it at him warningly, 

Well might she do so. For the little scene between 
them was doubly observed. Bibi, slouching about the 
stage, saw it, and scowled darkly under his dark brows, 
while Cecily, standing among the palms by one of the 
windows, saw it too, and, for all the warmth of the day, 
her heart felt numb and cold within her breast. 


"WHO is that fellow ?" demanded Bibi, as soon as Aldis 
had reluctantly taken his departure. "He has the mug 
of a cabotin an actor. I don't, like him." 

"You're quite right, Bibi," responded Zelie, suavely 
kissing her fingers to Aldis, who had turned, as he 
reached the great central window of the hall which 
opened upon the terrace, for a last glance at the stage. 
"M. Aldis is an actor. He is a good friend of mine." 

"I don't like him," repeated Bibi. He seized the 
girl's hands and held them tight. "This M. Aldis I 
know something of him. He had best look to himself. 
And as for you, understand once more, ma fille," he 
went on, "that though I give you a free hand, there's 
to be no falling in love. You belong to Bibi." 

Zelie frowned a little, but nevertheless thought it 
well to humour the man. It would be time enough to 
free herself from him when he had carried out the 
part which she had allotted to him. "You have noth- 
ing to fear, mon Bibi" she murmured. "All that I do 
is for my interests and yours. There is no other 
thought but that in my brain. I am yours, and it is 
for us that I work. One day when your pockets are 
full of money you will know." Bibi's cupidity was 
his weakest point, and Zelie knew how to make the best 
of it. 

"Very well," grumbled the Apache. "As long as 
you love no one but me that's the main point." 



The conversation had been carried on in quick under- 
tones. There remained a great deal to be said, how 
ever, for neither Zelie nor Bibi had as yet been able 
to touch upon the essential topic that had to be dis- 
cussed between them. And the conductor of the or- 
chestra appeared anxious to get to work with the re- 

With her usual promptitude Zelie took the matter in 
hand. There had been no difficulty as to the score of 
the "Danse du Neant" for that dance, success as it had 
been in Paris, was already well known to the foreign 
musicians whom Lord Martyn had engaged. Zelie 
walked up to the conductor. He was a slim, sleek- 
haired Italian, who, however, spoke French, and who 
availed himself of every opportunity to leer sug- 
gestively at the dancing-girl. 

Zelie smiled on him, quite ready to exert her fas- 
cination he would be all the more keen upon her 
success when the time for the performance came; he 
would make his men play up, and would see to it that 
all the necessary pauses and points were duly observed. 
It was to these that she now called his attention. 

She expounded them to him briefly, requesting him 
to run over the music once or twice while she talked 
to her friend. 

The conductor smiled and bowed, and Zelie, gratify- 
ing him with another fascinating glance, turned away 
and, humming the melody of the dance, pirouetted 
lightly up the stage till she was once more by Bibi's 

"Now we can talk," she said. "We can have a few 
minutes without interruption. But we must be brief. 
Why did you come here?" She regarded him with a 
certain contempt. "Ah, but I know, I can guess," she 
went on. "You have those papers which were in the 


pocket of Lord Martyn's coat. You came to blackmail. 
Is it not so ?" 

Bibi responded with a surly nod. What was the use 
of denying the obvious? "I didn't know you were 
here," he muttered. "How was I to know ? I needed 
money since I had to escape from the country in a 
hurry. You didn't give me enough. I was at Selwood, 
you know why, and I found out that this Lord Martyn 
lived in the neighbourhood. It's simple, isn't it?" 

"You haven't betrayed me?" she asked anxiously, 
tapping the boards of the stage impatiently with her 
heel. "You haven't said a word to Lord Martyn to 
indicate that it was I who gave you the coat? If you 
have it may ruin my chances." 

"Not a word," he replied. "I was too clever for 
that Zelie." He drew up his rounded shoulders and 
leered. "I saw how things stood, and I invented a 
story, a clever story. This milor and I, we understand 
each other. We have made a harmonious agreement. 
All was well, Zelie, till you came upon the scene and 
spoilt it." 

"What do you mean?" she asked. Then, suddenly, 
she pressed her hands to her ears, as discordant sounds 
reached her from the orchestra. 

"Ah mats non, mais non" she exclaimed, darting 
forward to the footlights. "It's not like that. Would 
you that we dance that measure to jig time?" She 
spread out her hands, appealing pathetically to the 

She beat time with her finger while the orchestra 
repeated the passage, then she turned to Bibi. "What 
do you mean," she repeated, "that I spoilt it all?" 

"By insisting that I should stay at milords castle the 
night," he grumbled. "Couldn't you see that I didn't 


want to that I had other plans ? They were on your 
account, those plans, and you have upset them." 

Zelie's eyes became mere slits. "What were your 
plans?" she inquired. 

He laid his hand upon her arm, drawing her still 
further back into the wnigs. She had to bend her 
head to him to catch the whispered words. The 
orchestra was playing its loudest just then. 

"What was it you asked me to do? To kill Owen 
Mayne, riest-ce pas? Very well. It was to-night that 
he would have died. To-night and I am here help- 

Zelie wrinkled her brows. "You would have killed 
him to-night how, then?" 

"There will be a burglary at Selwood Manor," he 
explained hurriedly. "It has all been settled. I have 
been working with a man to whom Alphonse intro- 
duced me. His name is Jim Lamprey, and Alphonse 
says he's the cleverest thief in the country. A burglary 
it is easy for a man to be killed in a house when 
thieves break in, is it not so? I have been hanging 
about the house for days, yes I, myself. More than 
once in the garden and the park I saw Owen Mayne 
and I might have killed him then, taken him by sur- 
prise, fallen upon him from the bushes but it was not 
safe. I might not have got away. But breaking into 
the house, that is another matter. The police will look 
out for the thieves for a gang they will not suspect 

He had been speaking hurriedly, gesticulating with 
bony fingers, but never raising his voice above an 
undertone. "And now you have spoilt all that," he 
growled, "and Heaven alone knows why you wanted to 
keep me at Chamney Castle." 

Zelie had listened without interrupting. The frown 


upon her forehead deepened, however, as the man ex- 
pounded his plans. When he had finished she gave 
utterance to a short, disdainful laugh. "My poor 
Bibi," she said, "it is you who have been deceived. 
This man this Jim Lamprey, as you call him he 
must have known. He has just made use of you for 
his own purposes. It was he, I expect, who settled 
to-night for the burglary. Is it not so?" 

"Yes." Bibi screwed up his face in puzzled won- 
der. "I don't understand you, Zelie." 

"No, but you will," she retorted. "Your burglar 
friend fixed on to-night for the simple reason that there 
would be no men in the house except the servants. If 
you had not been a fool, you'd have found it out. Both 
Owen Mayne and his friend, Robin Clithero, will be 
here" she stamped her tiny foot. "Do I speak 
plainly? They will be here, at Chamney Castle." 

Bibi collapsed. He had sufficient intelligence to see 
at once how he had been taken in. He was to assist 
in this burglary, to have taken the greater part of the 
risk upon his own head, and for no object whatever. 
The man whom he meant to slay would not be in the 
house at all. 

Bibi broke out into a volume of coarse invective, 
no longer caring about the modulation of his voice. It 
was lucky that the orchestra was still playing loudly. 

Zelie laughed at him she mocked him. He felt 
himself lowered in her eyes; there was something in 
her scorn, scorn which she took no trouble to conceal 
from him, which scorched and burnt him. 

She lifted her hand and put an end to the current of 
abuse. At any other time she would not have spared 
Bibi the verbal expression of her disdain, but now 
well, she had her own plans, and it was for Bibi to 
retrieve his folly by carrying them gut. 


"I am more clever than you, my Bibi," she said, 
laying her hand upon his shoulder, "and I have ar- 
ranged things so that all may yet go well. Your M. 
Lamprey may have his burglary to-night, and it is well 
for you that you will not be there." She fixed her 
eyes upon him it was she who was the dominating 
spirit now. 

"Do you guess why I have kept you at Chamney," 
she asked, "why I made the excuse that we should 
dance together to-night?" 

He nodded his head. He was subdued in spirit. 
"Because Owen Mayne will be here," he hazarded. 

"Exactly. And so, what you would have failed to 
do at Selwood you shall do at Chamney. I have 
thought it all out, and my plans are made. There is 
less danger for you, Bibi, than there would have been 
at Selwood. I saw it in a flash, and so I asked Lord 
Martyn that you should stay." 

Her eyes glittered and she spoke in tones of sup- 
pressed excitement. For a moment the voice of the 
conductor could be heard cursing his men in voluble 
Italian, then the violins began to wail a fierce, cruel 
melody the essential motive of the "Danse du Neant." 

The music harmonised with the spirit of Zelie's 

"Listen to me carefully, Bibi, mon gars. If you do 
exactly as I tell you all will be well. This afternoon, 
later on, I will take you to a summer-house which I 
have seen in the garden. It is not very far away, but 
it is in a spot where they are hanging no lamps. There 
is a hedge just behind it and a public footpath. To 
that summer-house I will lead Owen Mayne to-night. 
It will be after supper is over, when we shall be free 
to do as we please. Yes, I, myself, I will lead him 
there and it shall be to his death." 


She stood erect, drawing deep breaths, yet, save for 
the quick rise and fall of her bosom, she might have 
been talking of some ordinary topic not discussing 
treachery and murder. 

Bibi glanced at her with suppressed admiration. He 
thought her fine. And she was his, his gosse! His 
whole being swelled with pride. Ah, yes, he would 
do this thing for her for her sake, and because of the 
money which she had promised him. 

"You must break down the hedge and trample the 
grass beyond it," Zelie went on, "so that it will appear 
as if someone, some thief, had entered from without. 
You must rifle Owen Mayne's pockets and take his 
watch ; then they will say, 'It is a thief who has done 
this thing.' When all is over, you must make your 
way back to the house and let people see you, so that 
there shall be no suspicion. To run away would be 
to betray us. To-morrow you will go at the time which 
has been appointed for you. You understand me?" 

Bibi nodded he understood clearly. 

Zelie bent her lips still closer to his ear. "I will 
contrive it so," she whispered, "that he stands with 
his back turned to the door of the summer-house. You 
are concealed among the bushes close at hand. You 
approach quietly very quietly so." She lifted her- 
self upon tiptoe and made pantomimic gestures to in- 
dicate what he should do. She took a few steps, pass- 
ing in front of him, and she had a movement of her 
shoulders that was animal, feline, curiously suggestive 
of the panther to which she had been compared. 

"You have the knife in your hand. He is standing 
there with his back turned what could be easier ? You 
lift your hand you strike so it is all over." 

She was acting the part as she spoke, living in it. 
There was a red glow before her eyes, and in imagina- 


tion she already saw Owen Mayne lying dead at her 

"Good," said Bibi, hoarsely, "I will do it. But I 
have no knife I I have lost mine." 

Zelie was still in possession of hers. It had never 
left her since the day she picked it up at Owen's 
studio. She produced it now and pressed it into Bibi's 
hand. "He shall die with his own knife," she muttered. 

A few more hurried sentences and all was arranged 
Zelie gripped Bibi by the arm and drew him forward 
to the front of the stage. Here she dropped a smiling 
curtsy to the oily conductor a curtsy that was alto- 
gether theatrical. 

"We are ready now, monsieur," she said. 

The conductor he was a big man in his way and 
had been engaged at great expense bowed graciously, 
swung his baton, and once more the curious wailing 
rhythm of the opening bars of the melody made itself 
heard. It was upon such notes as these that the dance 
opened almost as if the composer had sought to ex- 
press in a few notes the sob of suffering humanity 
and it was to the same refrain that the music ended. 

A dance but a Dance of Death ! 


STEPHEN ALDIS had hardly stepped through the win- 
dow of the great hall, leaving its cool, semi-obscurity 
behind him an obscurity due to the heavily banked 
up palms and flowers and passed into the sunlight, 
before he felt a light touch upon his arm and turned 
to recognise Cecily. 

He muttered an oath inwardly. His mind had been 
so full of Zelie that the sight of the fair girl, who 
might have belonged to another world altogether, came 
almost as an offence to him. Besides, why was not 
Cecily amusing herself with the other guests? Why 
was she looking here in the scorching sun upon the 
terrace? She had been waiting for him, of course. 
It was ridiculous, and really she was making him quite 

"My dear Cecily, what on earth are you doing here?" 
he said, coming to an abrupt halt. "Why, I thought 
your complexion was your first care." 

"I was waiting for you, Steve," she admitted, her 
tone almost humble. "I knew you must come out di- 

"Why should you wait?" he asked sharply. 

"I've seen so little of you, Steve," she pleaded. "You 
are not going to avoid me, are you? I thought per- 
haps you'd take me for a row on the lake." She tried 
to force a smile. "Lady Beatrice wanted me to go 
with her and Sir Donald. But I thought I might be 



in the way. It's a case of two's company there, isn't 

"You might just as well have gone," he replied, 
taking little trouble to conceal his displeasure. "Peo- 
ple must have noticed you hanging about here. It 
makes me look ridiculous." 

Her hand dropped from his arm and they walked 
on together, side by side, in silence. They descended 
the broad stone staircase and were soon treading upon 
the soft, velvety grass of the lawn. 

Aldis felt as if he had come straight from the heart 
of some wild, primeval forest that was while he had 
been in that darkened room with Zelie and now he 
had been brought back, forcibly awakened as it were 
to ultra-civilisation as represented by this delicate hot- 
house plant, forced and artificial, this fair girl who 
was compelling his attention. 

He was fond of Cecily yes, certainly, he was fond 
of her, but not now ; the sight of her pale cheeks and 
pathetic blue eyes, as well as the little droop of her 
dainty lips, hurt him his soul was not attuned to hers 
at that moment. It was the fierce, the savage, the 
primitive, for which he craved, and this desire which 
had taken possession of him made him fierce and 
savage and primitive too. 

Cecily had met him in an evil hour. 

She slipped her hand under his arm once more. "I 
want to have a chat with you, Steve," she said. "Don't 
let's go where there's anyone else. I'm not in the mood 
to chatter commonplaces. Lady Albyn almost drove 
me crazy this morning with her gossiping about the 
latest stage scandals. She seems to have fixed upon 
me as a special victim. And she's over there with her 
usual boys in attendance, and her wretched little pug 


dog." The girl gave a nervous shiver. "I hate the 
little beast." 

He shrugged his shoulders and came to a halt. 
"Where shall we go ?" he said shortly. Then he added 
quickly: "I haven't got long to give you, Cecily." 

A flush stole over the girl's cheeks. She knew 
what he meant. He was to meet Zelie when she had 
finished rehearsing. 

"Let us go to the lake," she proposed eagerly. 
There were paths encircling the water from which the 
house could not be seen paths which were made for 
lovers; surely there, if there was any power in her, 
she could make Stephen Aldis forget his hateful ob- 
session? Surely there she could win him back to 
herself ? 

"No," he said curtly, "we won't go as far as that, 
Cecily. It's cool and shady by the fountain, and I see 
they've put some chairs there. That will do very 

He led the way, walking with long strides, the girl 
having some difficulty in keeping pace with him. 

The fountain, with its circular marble basin and its 
golden Triton and dolphins, lay in full view of the 
terrace. Aldis seated himself, dropping languidly into 
a low deck chair, in such a position that he could see 
at once when Zelie should leave the hall if, as he ex- 
pected, she should follow by the same way which he 
had taken. 

Cecily seated herself upon the marble rim of the 
fountain and for a few moments gazed down into the 
water without speaking. She was watching the gold 
and silver fish darting quickly by, sporting in the clear 
water of the pool. 

Aldis lit a cigarette. "Well, now you've got me 


here," he said, "you don't seem eager to talk. What's 
the trouble, Cecily ? Let's have it out." 

"I don't know that there is any trouble," she mur- 
mured nervously. "I I hope there isn't. It's only 
this, Steve, that you've been very kind to me lately. 
You've neglected me a little, haven't you? And and 
I feel it." 

She pressed her hands to her bosom ; her heart was 
beating quickly, painfully. 

Aldis knocked the ash .from his cigarette. "I don'd 
know about neglecting you," he said. "We've always 
been the best of friends, Cecily, and I hope we shall 
remain so. It's to our mutual interest, isn't it? The 
public like to see us acting together, and I'm quite 
ready to promise you the part of Maisie when we put 
up The Golden East. That's one of the fondest wishes 
of your heart, isn't it? Only, for Heaven's sake, my 
dear girl, don't always be hanging about me and mak- 
ing me conspicuous. People have said all sorts of 
things already which are not a bit justified by fact. 
I haven't worried my head about it, and don't mean 
to unless you compel me." 

He was trying, even against the instincts that ani- 
mated him at that moment, to let her down gently. 
He knew how eager she was to play that part in his 
next production. Surely she should be contented with 
the promise he had just given her? 

Cecily had deceived herself with false hopes that 
was the tragedy of it. She had believed that she had 
succeeded where so many other women had failed. But 
those happy dreams were over now, and she was 
learning the bitter lesson of her own weakness. She 
was treading a path which others had trodden before 
her, but for Cecily Cuthbert the weeds were more rank 
and the thorns more sharp than her predecessors had 


found them. It was a matter of temperament, no 
more than that. 

"I thought," Cecily faltered out the words, "that 
you cared a little, Steve. It isn't only a matter of 
being given a part in your next piece. I'm very glad 
of that, but but " 

Her voice trembled and broke, tears stood in her 
eyes and Aldis hated tears. 

"But, what?" he exclaimed almost roughly. Why 
on earth couldn't the girl behave sensibly? 

"One can't be always an actress, you know," she 
faltered. "One is a woman in spite of oneself. I 
thought you cared for me, Steve. I suppose I was 
wrong." Suddenly she threw restraint aside. "Oh, 
Steve," she cried, clasping her hands together, "why 
did you make me love you?" 

Tears rolled down her cheeks. Cecily's courage had 
broken down, the strain of the last few days had 
proved too great; she had reached the breaking-point. 

The man threw his cigarette away, crossed his legs, 
and knitted his brows. It was really very aggravating, 
and this sort of thing must not be allowed to go on. 
Why couldn't Cecily behave like those other women 
whom he had kissed and was ready to kiss again? 

"I wish you wouldn't be so tragic, Cis," he said, 
forcing himself to speak lightly. "Of course, I'm very 
fond of you, and when I'm fond of a woman I can't 
help letting her know of it. It's my nature. I've not 
changed towards you a bit, and if you don't fidget me 
with your absurd jealousy you'll find me just the same 
as ever. What more can you ask ?" 

She plunged her hand into the water, and then lifted 
it, dripping wet as it was, to her brow. "You are 
hard and cruel," she cried, "and you break women's 
hearts for your pleasure. You have won my love, 


Steve you can't deny it, that you sought to make me 
love you and now you would throw me over because 
another woman's face has caught your fancy. And 
it's the face of a wicked woman, of one who will hurt 
you, who will kiss you to your undoing." 

A shudder convulsed her frame. She stood erect, 
and spoke with a concentration of passion such as he 
had never suspected of her. Light, smiling, artificial 
Cecily ! She had never even played at real drama upon 
the stage but she was playing it now upon the broader 
stage of life. 

"She has stolen you from me" the words came 
from between her closed teeth "and it's to her that 
I must give you up. Oh, that viper in human form, 
that snake-woman, how I hate her ! How I hate her ! 
But she shall never have you, Steve never, never !" 

Brutal words rose to the man's lips. This sort of 
thing was absurd, and must not be allowed to continue. 
Cecily must be made to understand that she had no 
claim upon him, no claim at all. 

"I don't know why you should presume to inter- 
fere," he said, regarding her harshly. "It's nothing to 
do with you. We are not engaged." 

The girl stared at him for a moment without re- 
sponse, then a moan, a deep, sobbing breath, broke 
from between her lips, and she sank down upon her 
knees beside the marble basin, her hands trailing over 
the rim of it, the fingers immersed in the water. 

Aldis glanced anxiously in the direction of the group 
of people collected upon the further lawn, then, because 
it was not his way to be harsh with women, he stepped 
up to the sobbing girl and laid his hand upon her 

"Let's have no more of this nonsense, Cecily," he 
said. "You are foolishly, ridiculously jealous, and you 


are making a tremendous fuss about nothing. Pull 
yourself together, my dear. Go indoors and bathe 
your eyes you're a bit hysterical. Next time we meet 
we'll laugh together over this silly scene." 

Cecily lifted her head and allowed a wan little smile 
to flutter about her lips. Unfortunately at that mo- 
ment Zelie appeared upon the terrace, standing in the 
shadow of the ballroom window. She glanced up and 
down and tfien turned away. In another minute she 
would disappear round the wing of the house. 

Stephen Aldis muttered a few hasty words to his 
companion, and was about to follow. But Cecily seized 
his hand, holding it tightly. 

"Don't go!" she begged of him. "Oh, Steve, for 
God's sake, for the love of Heaven, don't go !" 

But he wrenched himself free, and when the girl 
sought to grasp his arm, to hold him back, he thrust 
her from him, nor did he spare her the oath which 
rose to his lips. 

"You're behaving like a damned hysterical fool, 
Cecily !" he exclaimed roughly. Then he turned on his 
heel and stalked away. 

Cecily stood there by the fountain, the warm after- 
noon sun glistening on her flaxen hair and on her pale 
cheeks, unwontedly furrowed by tears. 

She lifted her hand to her throat and choked down 
the sob that shook her. She watched Aldis as he 
crossed the lawn, mounted the terrace steps, and came 
up at last with Zelie. She could not distinguish their 
faces, but she was sure the dancer laughed the ca- 
joling, tempting laugh of a siren. 

They stood a moment, and then, presently, side by 
side, they disappeared. 

"I won't give him up to her!" Cecily cried aloud, 
and she raised her clasped hands as though she were 


indeed pronouncing an oath. "She shall not triumph 
over me, that nightmare woman of evil! His kisses 
are on my lips I can feel the burn of them still 
and shall he kiss another woman's lips after that?" 


THE great drawing-room was well filled when the 
Selwood Manor party arrived at Chamney Castle that 
night. Fresh guests were pouring in, but Lord Mar- 
tyn found time to speak a few words of congratulation 
to Owen and Lavender. He had already heard of the 
engagement, though it was barely a day old. There 
had been several callers at the Manor, to whom the 
news had been imparted, and, in the country, this kind 
of intelligence travels quickly. 

"The best of good luck to you both," he said, 
heartily shaking them by the hand. "I feel almost 
like the fairy godmother. Yes, Mayne, I had your 
letter I got it at the club. I was only too pleased to 
bring you and your aunt together. Just a happy 
coincidence, wasn't it? You're to be congratulated, 
my dear fellow" he drew Owen a little aside "she's 
as sweet a girl as the heart of man could desire." 

"She is," agreed Owen. 

"You'll have to back-water a bit now, though," smiled 
Martyn ; "give up the frivolity of studio life and so on, 
what?" He was thinking of Zelie, who had been so 
anxious to know Owen's address. "By the way," he 
added, "you'll meet a Paris friend of yours here to- 
night a lady." 

"Shall I ?" said Owen, but without interest. "You've 
got such a representative crowd, Martyn, that I dare 
say I shall meet a lot. But who's the particular lady ?" 



"You'll see all in good time," was the response. 
"I won't spoil sport by telling you. But remember" 
Martyn shook a warning forefinger "you're an en- 
gaged man." 

He bustled off to welcome some fresh guests, leaving 
Owen to return to Lavender, who was already sur- 
rounded by a bevy of feminine friends all anxious to 
know how soon the wedding would be. He felt him- 
self the cynosure of many eyes and guessed that he 
was being weighed in the balance. He judged that the 
general result was satisfactory for the ladies smiled 
upon him but this was no salve to his conscience, 
which was smiting him ridiculously, and he had a hate- 
ful feeling that people must read his duplicity in his 

He had had this idea once or twice with Lavender. 
Her eyes were so pure and he could not always meet 
them as he would have liked. 

The performance in the great hall was to begin at 
ten and was calculated to last a couple of hours. It 
was not a formal entertainment people might come 
and go as they pleased. There were no long rows of 
seats stretching across from side to side, but com- 
fortable chairs were scattered about the room anyhow. 
For those who preferred it there was a military band 
in the garden, to say nothing of the illuminated lake, 
walks and terraces ; but the majority of the guests pre- 
ferred to watch the performance, for rumours of sen- 
sational "turns" had been whispered abroad. The or- 
chestra itself, under the control of the celebrated con- 
ductor Signor Cavini, was worth going miles to hear. 

Owen and Lavender found comfortable seats in the 
hall, where they commanded an excellent view of the 
stage. Seated next to them was a prim dowager and 
her meek husband. The latter had apparently insti- 


gated his spouse to accept the invitation, and she was 
making him responsible for the various shocks she had 
already received. All this while it was palpable from 
her keen, roving eyes and generally interested mien 
that she was enjoying herself immensely. 

"To think of it," Owen heard her say, "that singing 
girl from the Star what's her name? Cecily Cuth- 
bert, yes, that's it here, and as a guest ! And lots of 
others of the same kind. People we should feed in 
the servants' hall ! Guests !" 

"But, my dear Maria," whispered the man timidly, 
"Miss Cuthbert is quite a lady by birth. Besides, it 
isn't birth, you know, that is a passport with our host. 
It's cleverness!" 

"People have no right to be clever unless they are 
well born," snorted the lady. "I call it impudent." 
She sighed. "I don't know what we are coming to in 
these degenerate days." 

Robin, who, with Captain Ferrars and a girl friend 
of the latter 's, was sitting just behind Owen, over- 
heard, too, and broke into a sniggle. The dowager 
turned a supercilious lorgnette upon him until he suc- 
cumbed. Then she placidly continued her conversation. 

"And I hear there's to be a dancing girl on the 
stage some French hussy I suppose she's a guest, 
too. They tell me" here she lowered her voice 
"that she comes from some vile Paris haunt, and that 
her dancing is positively indecent. Well, I shall be 
able to judge of that after I've seen the performance 
right through." 

The good lady settled herself in her chair with the 
evident intention of missing nothing and finding fault 
with all. 

"Remember that you brought me, James," she said, 
"to see the improper dancing of a French drab," 


Owen wondered vaguely who the French drab might 
be, but he had no suspicions. Programmes had not 
been provided, the entertainment being of so informal 
a nature. Besides, most of the performers were too 
well known in their particular line to need any intro- 

Silence fell upon the great hall when Signer Cavini, 
sleeker and more self-assertive than ever, rose, bowed 
to the audience, and then gave a preliminary flourish 
of his baton as a signal for the overture to commence. 
This had been specially composed by Lord Martyn, 
who was himself a musician of no mean order, and it 
was in many ways a remarkable piece of work. 

For, in some subtle manner, it was suggestive of 
his own outlook upon life. To Owen's ears the music 
was a delight because of its weird contrasts, its quaint 
gradations of symphony, its union of the sublime and 
the ridiculous. One felt that the composer had per- 
formed his task with his tongue in his cheek. There 
were moments when the soul of the listener was lifted 
up by an exalted passage, only to be brought to earth 
again directly by a fantastic suggestion of some popu- 
lar lilt of the day. Lord Martyn had done his share 
towards the unconventionality of the entertainment. 

Following this introduction, turn succeeded turn, and 
every one presented its own surprise to the audience. 
Celebrities appeared upon the stage whose talents in 
that direction had never been suspected. There was 
Leonard Bryce, for instance, who had made such a 
brave fight for his party at the Daleshire by-election 
he delivered a stump-speech that was remarkable for 
its wit as well as for its trenchant sarcasm of the 
Government, sarcasm that was cleverly veiled by his 
assumed character. 

Gilbert Farrington, the artist, achieved success with 


his lightning sketches of well-known personalities, most 
of whom were present to recognise and applaud the 
caricatures of themselves; Maurice Gothard, the 
pianist, astonished the assembly by showing himself 
almost as great a master of the violin ; Marcelle Grelat, 
of the Paris Opera, sang chansonettes such as had been 
associated with the name of Berthe Montjoy; while 
the latter proved herself quite capable of shining in 
the higher realms of her art. 

And so on and so on. It was an entertainment at 
which the unexpected reigned supreme. It was a tri- 
umph for Lord Martyn. 

Stephen Aldis and Cecily appeared upon the stage 
together, and were greeted as popular favourites. 
They sang a duet from the much-bepuffed Golden East. 
Aldis had decided upon this coup almost at the last 
moment, in order to convince Cecily of his sincerity 
when he had promised her the part of Maisie. 

They appeared in ordinary evening dress, but the 
song had a haunting refrain which was bound to ensure 
its popularity. Unfortunately Aldis had not con- 
sidered the sense of the words which Cecily would have 
to sing. To him a song was merely a song that it 
should be made to have any personal significance to the 
singer was absurd. He could play an impassioned 
scene and remain cold. 

It was not so with Cecily in the present excited state 
of her nerves. This ardent love-song was more than 
she could bear. Aldis, in his presumed character, had 
to clasp her in his arms and kiss her. And she knew 
he did it utterly without feeling. 

"Love, will you crown me with roses, 

Love, will you deck me with rue? 
Come with your joy or your sorrow, 
Love so you be but true." 


She had to sing these words. A silly jingle of sound, 
but it hurt her. In the second verse she broke down. 
If they had been in stage costume it might have been 
different she could perhaps have dispelled the illu- 
sion that Stephen and she were acting. As it was she 
turned and saw him gazing at her tenderly and wist- 
fully a studied look which he had always found most 
successful, especially with the ladies of the audience 
and she could not endure it. She sang a false note, 
then her voice shook painfully, she lifted her hand to 
her throat, and quivered to silence. 

"I I'm sorry. Forgive me," She cast an agonising 
glance at Aldis, then advanced, trembling, to the foot- 
lights, where she repeated her pitiful little apology. 
The audience broke into an encouraging roar of ap- 
plause. She bowed, smiling wanly, then Aldis took her 
by the hand and led her off. The curtain fell, and the 
orchestra struck up a selection but it could not hush 
the wagging of many tongues that had opinions to 
pass. Why, this was the sensation of the evening. 

But Cecily and her collapse were forgotten when the 
final turn was announced, and the curtain rose upon 
a stage draped completely in black fold upon 
fold, or so it appeared, of filmy gauze. The word went 
round that the new French dancing-girl was about to 
appear. Rumour had been busy as to her marvellous 
talent, but none knew her name. Owen, leaning back, 
asked Robin if he had heard it, but the latter shook 
his head. 

"What extraordinary music!" Everyone was mak- 
ing the same remark. Some put their fingers to their 
ears. The violins squealed agonisingly, the bassoons 
wailed like the wind in storm, the drums thundered 
wrath or muttered a sullen defiance. It was the war 


of the elements before they fell into their, allotted 
places in a world where chaos reigned. 

The stage was empty and dark as the world it por- 
trayed. Then, subtly, the music suggested creation, 
and one could imagine one could almost see primi- 
tive man emerge from his cave, climb down from his 
tree and join in chase of the wild creatures that stam- 
peded through trackless forests and across limitless 
plains. Yet, so far, all that had happened upon the 
stage was an increase of light a pale white light that 
only made the darkness visible. 

And then she came, lifting film after film of the 
gauzy background so that she seemed to be fashioning 
herself a shape from the mist of untold ages Woman 
the temptress the Zelie of an epoch when time knew 
no reckoning Zelie, the same long seons ago as she 
appeared to the world of to-day. 

She was clad in a leopard-skin, and the girdle about 
her waist resembled a snake. Her arms and neck 
were bare; so, too, were her feet and her legs to the 
knee. Her black hair hung loose, reaching below her 
waist. She advanced to the footlights, glancing fear- 
fully over her shoulder to right and left as though on 
her guard against attack, then drew herself up and 
laughed. She was the Woman to whom, inscrutably, 
power had been given to lure men to destruction, who 
trod a path that was red with blood and sodden with- 
tears. A crimson light played about her feet as she 
stood there it was all-significant. 

"My God Zelie !" Owen half rose in his chair. He 
had turned deathly pale, but the great hall was in 
obscurity, so Lavender could not see his face at that 
moment. It was well for her that she could not. 

Robin touched his shoulder from behind, and he sank 
back into his seat. He was breathing hard, like a 


man whose throat is compressed. His finger nails bit 
into his palms, but he was silent. 

Zelie danced as her savage prototype might have 
moved and danced. She was alternately stealthy and 
fierce, yielding and defiant. She was the woman who 
gives and at the same time the conqueror who takes. 
Those who watched her knew for every movement 
had its suggestion that men, naked and fierce, fought 
for her, and that she was the victor's meed. And yet 
her very embrace was a mockery for she had no heart, 
no soul. 

The curtain fell and the audience sat spell-bound. 
The orchestra continued to make weird music that told 
of the passage of time and of the development of 
knowledge. Melody, exotic and mystical, had taken 
the place of fantastic discord. It was the turn of man 
to create, and man had created unto himself his gods. 

It was this which the second phase of the dance 
portrayed. Zelie appeared in the filmy drapery of 
classic times. She represented no character in par- 
ticular for time had not changed her she was still 
the temptress, whom man had defied, she to whom 
sacrifice was made in secret groves, who received as 
her right the libation of her creators' lives. She was 
goddess and woman, Aphrodite and Sappho, shadowy 
exemplification of human passion and creature of warm 
flesh and blood. And still she was without remorse 
for still she had no soul ! 

And the wonder of her dancing grew. She paraded 
the stage slowly, and it seemed as if the ghosts of all 
those whom love had tempted to folly trod in her train. 
The stage was peopled by a great company. The 
dancer threw herself down in voluptuous abandon or 
stood up mocking. Her arms were writhing snakes, 
her eyes shot living flame, her lips were stained with 


blood. She led her phantom host to the gates of 
heaven or hell and vanished. 

And so dance succeeded dance, and it was as if the 
audience watched the evolution of the world in its 
eternal slavery to the temptress. She was there always, 
though it might only be some subtle gesture that in- 
dicated her presence, and when the last phase com- 
menced the "Danse du Neant" one felt that the 
Zelie of to-day had lived through all the ages, ever the 
temptress, ever without a soul. 

In the obscurity of the hall Lavender slipped her 
hand into that of Owen, but found his cold and un- 

"Oh, we are not all like that," she whispered with 
a shudder. "There are good women, too." 

"It is an allegory," he muttered, feeling that he 
must say something. But, in truth, he had paid but 
small heed to the actual significance of the dance. 
For his brain was in a turmoil. Zelie was there and 
he sat by the side of Lavender ! 

"An allegory of evil," murmured the girl. Then she 
was silent. 

And in the meanwhile Bibi had appeared. It was 
not difficult for the spectators to build up the back- 
ground of that dance the "Danse du Neant." It was 
a defiance thrown at law and convention, an exaltation 
of degeneracy, a mockery of man's attempt to raise 
himself from the mire of his animal state. There was 
fierce cruelty in it and passion untrammelled. There 
was the temptress and her mate. And the background 
of the dance was a huge, looming scaffold. 

Yet thousands had applauded that dance laughed 
and wept over it according to their dispositions 
thousands would applaud it again. Staid British 
matrons would see it because it was "the thing." They 


would take their daughters, who would stare with inno- 
cent eyes and laugh in secret. The vice of it would be 
slurred over in the cleverness of the dancers. 

It was this that Lord Martyn had anticipated this 
that he was putting to the test. "What fools these 
mortals be" that was the assumption upon which he 

And he had not misjudged his world. The curtain 
fell. There was a moment of intense silence. Then the 
duchess, who was sitting in the front by the side of 
Lord Martyn, clapped her hands. 

"Wonderful wonderful !" she exclaimed. 

Her cue was taken up. The great hall rang with 
frantic applause. 

HAD Lavender been less innocent and unsuspicious 
she might have found food for considerable reflection 
in her lover's behaviour before and during supper that 
night. To begin with, he had deserted her during 
the interval between the performance and supper, an 
interval which Lord Martyn's guests filled up by col- 
lecting in groups and discussing the performance, by 
wandering out on the terrace, or by strolling in the 
picture gallery. 

Everybody was anxious to know what everybody 
else thought of the entertainment, and Zelie was the 
prime subject of conversation. The duchess had ap- 
proved of her, so the rest of the company approved 
too. Cecily came in for some notice as well; why on 
earth had she broken down? There were many who 
scented a scandal. 

It had been settled, of course, that Lavender was to 
be taken in to supper by Owen. A little party had 
been arranged which was to include Robin and the 
Ferrars. But Owen had to be reminded of this, and he 
appeared strangely agitated when he stooped over 
to Robin and whispered something in the ear of the 
latter. Robin seemed disturbed too. Lavender noticed 
that as well. 

He had answered in the same undertone; then he 
had turned to her and to Miss Ferrars, offering to take 
them for a stroll outside. 



"I'm simply pining for a cigarette," he said, "and 
I'm sure you young ladies will like a breath of fresh 
air. Owen wants to speak to an old friend, someone 
whom he has not seen for ages. He'll join us again 
before supper is announced." 

So they went out on the terrace, leaving Owen to 
lose himself amid the chattering groups of people that 
still lingered in the great hall. Lavender would have 
liked to ask him if there was any trouble connected 
with the friend he was looking for, but she did not like 
to, and Robin hurried her away. 

Owen was telling himself that he must see Zelie 
that was the one all-absorbing thought in his brain. 
Nothing else mattered. He must see and talk with 

Lord Martyn was there, standing close to the stage, 
receiving the congratulations of his many friends. 
Owen was conscious of a hum of conversation on all 
sides of him, and to his excited ears everyone seemed 
to be talking of Zelie. 

"She's wonderful marvellous never seen such 
dancing in my life. It isn't so much what she actually 
does as what she makes one feel. I seem to have lived 
through countless ages in the space of a few minutes." 
So a grey-bearded, sallow-cheeked man, standing at 
Owen's elbow, was saying to his companion, a woman 
of uncertain age and keenly intelligent face. 

Owen recognised them both. The man was Nigel 
Snow, the poet, while the woman was Mary Fordham, 
one of the most talented writers of the day. 

"She's so clever," responded the latter, who always 
lived up to her reputation for saying smart things, 
"that I'm quite sure she must be wholly ignorant and 
uneducated. She couldn't dance like that if she studied 
much. The whole thing is spontaneous with her a 


sort of second nature. I hope she'll never study she 
might become artistic, and that would ruin her." 

Snow laughed. "There's a poem," he said, "in 
every movement of her. I could write a sonnet on the 
poise of her head. The writhing of her arms I think 
I could express that best in a ballade. But as for all 
I've felt to-night it would take an epic to do it 

It was the same thing on all sides, wherever Owen 
moved he heard Zelie's praises sung. It irritated and 
maddened him, for it seemed as if she, who was his 
wife, had given herself to the world ; as if this success 
of hers, startling and unsuspected as it was to him, 
had separated her from him, made her independent. 

"I can't live without her," he muttered between his 
clenched teeth, all the intensity of his desire for the 
lithe, feline creature, the siren who had enslaved him, 
returning in full force and sending the blood gushing 
through his veins. "Why, I don't know how I've 
existed all these weeks. Upon memory, I suppose, and 
the prospect of being reunited before long. Zelie, I've 
cheated and lied for you. I've sacrificed my soul at 
your altar. You won't desert me now." 

A tall, languid young man, with a giggling girl 
hanging upon his arm, was standing by Owen now. Of 
course, they were talking of Zelie. 

"Isn't she rippin'?" the man was saying. "I say, 
Hilda, I shall get introduced to-night, and when she 
comes on in London, as, of course, she's bound to, 
I'll be able to make the runnin' a bit." 

"You're a naughty boy," responded his companion, 
"and you'll get yourself into trouble one of these days. 
Besides, I thought you were in love with me." 

"Oh, you're different, Hilda," he retorted. "She's 
only a dancing-girl, after all." 


Hilda smiled, showing her two rows of pearly teeth. 
"It's the dancing-girl who gets the best time, nowa- 
days," she remarked. "I'd willingly give up being 
Lady Hilda and the privilege of making a bow to 
royalty, to have all London running after me as that 
girl, whatever her name is, is bound to. It must be 
just glorious to pick and chose one's men whereas 
I have to put up with you, Edwin, and condone your 
infidelities, because it's supposed to be the right thing 
that we should be engaged." 

She spoke half- jestingly, half in earnest. Owen 
turned and regarded the boy, for he was little more, 
with a scowl. The young puppy ! How dare he speak 
of "making the running" with Zelie? It was to this 
sort of thing that she was laying herself open. 

Owen was hot with suppressed anger. It had always 
been his pose to scoff at the world now the world 
was mocking him. 

He had thrust his way through the crowd by now, 
till he was standing close to Lord Martyn. The latter 
turned and saw him. 

"Well, my dear Mayne," he remarked, giving a 
nod and a smile to the man with whom he had just 
been talking. "What do you think of my surprise ?" 

He linked his arm in that of his friend and led 
Owen a little aside. "It's perfectly ridiculous," he 
went on, "how all the men in the place are swarming 
round me, and asking to be introduced. And even 
the ladies you see, the duchess has kindly expressed 
approval, and wishes to congratulate Zelie in person. 
And Zelie will put her tongue out at her when her 
back is turned I'm sure of that. I'm glad you came 
up, as I couldn't get rid of Rathbone. The same thing, 
of course. Sixty, if he's a day, and with a grown-up 
family he ought to know better." 


Owen bit his lip, for the position was a hateful one. 
How could he who, not three hours ago, had pre- 
sented his bride-elect to this man, proclaim himself for 
what he was the husband of Zelie? 

He felt that Martyn, though the latter had spoken 
lightly, was regarding him with something like a twin- 
kle in his expressive black eyes. Probably, Martyn felt 
that Owen had the fever, too. 

Yet he must play his part the part of the mere 
interested acquaintance. 

"Yes," he said, "I think she's wonderful. I con- 
gratulate you upon your find, Martyn. And it's quite 
true that Zelie and I are old friends, so I'm on the 
look-out for her in order to offer her my congratula- 

"I expect she'll be down in a minute," said Martyn : 
"In fact, I told her that I'd meet her here by the 
stage. So, if you wait, you'll be bound to see her. 
Don't make Miss Percivale jealous, though." 

Owen's rather sallow cheeks flushed a trifle, then 
he quickly changed the subject and warmly thanked 
his friend for having brought about the meeting be- 
tween himself and his aunt. "I've only just been told," 
he remarked, "that you've been at Chamney all the 
week. If I'd heard of it earlier I should have been 
over to see you." 

Owen heartily wished now that he had done so. 
As a matter of fact, he had known well enough that 
Martyn was at home, but his natural indolence had 
prevented him from paying a visit at Chamney. 

The two men talked together for a little while 
longer, and presently they were joined by Stephen 
Aldis. The actor appeared worried Owen thought 
it must be on account of Cecily's breakdown but he 
began at once to talk of Zelie. 


"Wasn't she wonderful?" he said, enthusiastically. 
I'm happy to have been the first to congratulate her, 
for I was behind, of course. She said she wouldn't 
be long changing her dress." 

He had hardly spoken the words when Zelie herself 
appeared. She entered the hall by a little door close 
to the stage, a door that was almost hidden by palms 
and foliage. She stood there for a moment, her white 
face and neck thrown into almost startling prominence 
by the heavy green of the background and by her 
elaborate black satin gown, a gown that was relieved 
only by touches of crimson almost fantastically in- 
serted among the jet trimmings. The dress fitted 
like a glove, showing every line of the sinuous figure, 
while it was daring in its low decolletage. Zelie wore 
no jewellery save for the long pendent earrings of jet. 

A murmur went up from the whole assembly as 
she stood there, and people craned their necks to see 
her better. She glanced about her with an almost 
defiant air, a look in which scorn and pride were 
mingled, then she advanced with the curiously feline 
movement that was natural to her to the spot where 
Lord Martyn stood with his friends. 

She caught sight of Owen, and her eyes flashed 
dangerously as they settled upon him. She hardly re- 
moved them from his face as she stood there, receiving 
the congratulations of one after another. It seemed 
to Owen, as he gazed, that this woman was less than 
ever human ; she was a soulless thing, a creature of 
a world of phantasms, a world that he had created 
from his own brain. For was it not his brain that 
had given birth to Zelie in the person of his siren of the 
mountain ? She was as he had made her evil, but he 
loved her how he loved her ! 

Those red lips of her lips which he had once com- 


pared to a wound they were smiling upon others now, 
and not upon him maddening smiles ; her small white 
teeth, why did they make him think of a vampire? 
Yet he didn't mind, so long as it was his blood they 
craved; and her eyes they shone like gems upon 
her admirers, but him they pierced like living steel. 

His turn came at last, Zelie stretched out her white 
hand to him, and he took it, bending his head and mut- 
tering some words of congratulation anything that 
first came into his head. 

She addressed him as she might a casual acquaint- 
ance, frankly and without strain. "Comment ga, va, 
mon ami? You are surprised to see me in England 
here at Chamney, under the roof of my good friend, 
Milor Martyn?" 

For the moment Owen was tongue-tied. What could 
he say to her, here, before all these people ? And why 
did he instinctively feel that she bore him malice ? Of 
course, he could not expect that she should greet him 
in any other way she was showing quite exquisite 
tact but, still there was a threatening depression of 
the corners of her lip. It was a storm signal which 
he recognised. He had once stood with Zelie by the 
cage of a tigress in the Jardin des Plantes, and the 
beast had looked up at them from its meal snarling. 
"Why, Zelie, that's how you draw your lip down when 
you're angry," he had said laughing. He remembered 
that now. There had been blood upon the tiger's 
jaw, too just as there might be blood upon Zelie's 
so scarlet they were. 

"I must see you alone we must have a talk," he 
found himself saying at last. "Can you spare me a 
little of your time after supper ?" Such trivial words 
but how vital ! 

It was exactly what she desired. "Yes," she replied, 


"after supper, with the greatest pleasure. M. Aldis 
will spare me then, I know. It is with him that I go 
in to supper. And you, monsieur" her dark eyes 
were fixed upon him, seeming to probe him to his very 
soul "you, no doubt, will be with your charming 
fiancee f May I, too, offer you my congratulations? 
I have heard of your engagement." 

"Zelie !" Why should she torture him thus ? What 
he had done was for her sake. He had told her so in 
his letter. "Why do you say this to me when you 
know" he faltered "you know that it is you and you 
only " 

She interrupted him, tapping him lightly upon the 
arm with her fan. "I know enough," she responded, 
"ah, but quite enough. We will talk of this again, 
mon ami after supper." 

She turned away to receive the congratulations of a 
small group of impatient admirers. Stephen Aldis 
was talking in an undertone to Lord Martyn, whom he 
had drawn a little aside. Owen hesitated a moment, 
then, since there was palpably nothing more to be done 
or said for the time being, he made his way, as best 
he could, from the still crowded hall, and, finding a 
refreshment buffet near the main entrance, he asked for 
a glass of brandy, which he swallowed at a gulp. Then 
he went in search of Lavender. 

Meanwhile Zelie was still enjoying the homage of 
the assembly, so that Aldis and Martyn found them- 
selves able to talk without interruption. The former 
had whispered in his host's ear that he had made an 
alarming discovery he had opened the packet of let- 
ters which had been restored by Bibi Coupe-vide, and 
had found that two of the most important, the most 
damaging, were missing. 

"That scoundrel has kept them back," he exclaimed ; 


"but he shall give them up he must be made to give 
them up." 

Lord Martyn frowned, for this was an unpleasant 
development, and anything which affected Lady 
Beatrice touched him very closely. 

"Well, we've got the fellow safely in hand," he re- 
plied. "It's a good thing, after all, that Zelie insisted 
upon having him to dance with her. There are no 
suspicions in his mind, so we can afford to wait till 
to-morrow, Steve. Take my advice, and leave Bibi 
Coupe-vide alone to-night." 

But Aldis clenched his fists and muttered something 
under his breath. The very sight of Bibi Coupe-vide 
was an offence to him. He had watched the Apache 
in his dance with Zelie. 

"It will be a bad job for the hound if I run across 
him." That is what Aldis was saying. "I might 
be tempted to wring his neck." 


IT was not till Owen had danced twice with Lavender 
the two first dances that he was able to tear him- 
self away. The minutes had been like hours to him, 
and even unsuspicious Lavender had wondered at her 
lover's strange mood. He was alternately silent and 
talkative, becoming suddenly conscious, as it were, that 
his abstraction might be noticed, and striving to make 
up for it by laughter that was over-loud, jokes that 
were obvious, and hilarity of manner that was con- 
tradicted by the pallor of his sallow cheeks. 

Of course, Robin knew the reason of this strange 
behaviour, and did his utmost, on his friend's behalf, 
to distract attention from it. But Robin was a poor 
actor at the best of times. 

The two men met at the door of the ballroom when 
Owen was hurrying out in search of Zelie. He had 
exchanged a brief word with her after the first dance, 
and she had promised to wait for him in the vestibule. 
Of course, Lavender had questioned him innocently 
enough as to his acquaintance with the French dancing 
girl, and he had responded with some explanation 
hastily improvised. He had met Zelie at the studio of 
a friend of his, to whom she had sat as model. 

Owen would have passed Robin without a word, but 
the latter caught him by the arm and detained him. 

"You're going to her, Owen?" 

Owen nodded, shaking his friend's hand from his 
arm. "Yes; I must see her. It's necessary." 



"I don't see why. For Heaven's sake, man, can't 
you remember what you owe to the girl you've 
promised to marry ? Zelie is nothing to you now. It's 
the most infernal mischance that she should be here." 
He spoke with growing agitation. "Come back to the 
ballroom, Owen," he pleaded. "Remember Lavender." 

But Owen was in no mood to listen to his friend. 
"Oh, for God's sake, don't prate to me!" he ex- 
claimed, roughly. "I've no time to listen to you. I'm 
getting sick of your eternal sermonising, Robin. I'm 
not a child to be dictated to." 

He shot an angry glance at Robin, and was gone. 
Robin stood there in the doorway and clenched his 
fists tightly as he watched the receding figure of his 

Meanwhile Owen had found Zelie. She was in the 
company of a young man whom he recognised as Sir 
Donald Ransom, but she rose at once when Owen ap- 
peared, evidently very much to the disgust of her 

"I say, you'll give me another waltz later on, won't 
you ?" Owen heard him whisper. "It's perfectly divine 
to dance with you. It seems to make a man forget 
himself utterly, to take him into another sphere." 

"It is Heaven?" she asked, with a malicious glance 
at him out of the corners of her eyes. 

"I vow I think it's the other place," he responded; 
"but there are times when one is very near the other." 
The young man's face flushed as he spoke; then he 
scribbled his name upon Zelie's programme, bowed, 
and left her with Owen. She slipped her hand under 
the arm of the latter and drew him to the door. 

"We'll go out, I think, mon ami," she said. She 
spoke the familiar phrase with an intonation which 
grated. There was such an utter carelessness about 


it. "There is much that we have to say to each other, 
and I know of a quiet spot. We will talk when we 
get there." 

She smoothed her dress and pulled up her long 
gloves, which had become a little wrinkled at the 
elbows. There was a great gilded mirror close to the 
spot where she had been sitting, and she regarded 
herself in it with complacency ; to Owen's presence she 
appeared indifferent. 

Yet this was Zelie, his wife. It was barely a month 
since they had been all in all to each other. Four short 
weeks and yet he felt almost as if the whole width of 
the world divided them. And it was only to-night that 
this impression had taken hold of him; in his dreams 
she had always been near him, the Zelie to whom he 
had given himself body and soul, she for whom he 
had been ready to sin for whom he had sinned. 

What was the meaning of her coldness, her indiffer- 
ence? He would rather have seen her in a passion of 
anger he understood her in that mood. 

They passed out of the house into the garden. The 
sky was spangled with stars, and there was a faint 
glow on the horizon indicating the rising moon. The 
paths, between beds of fragrant flowers, were bright 
with the glitter of tiny lamps. The sound of music 
fell softly upon the ear. Owen followed where Zelie 
led. The touch of her hand upon his arm thrilled him, 
and as he walked he pressed it closely against his side. 
She offered no resistance to this, but her voice re- 
mained cold and impassive. 

As a matter of fact Zelie was telling herself that 
the less said between them the better. She wanted no 
impassioned scene there wasn't the smallest need for 
it she knew all she wished to know. Had she not, 
that very evening, heard Owen congratulated upon his 


engagement to Miss Percivale, the little waxen-faced 
saint ? 

She was leading this man to his death, and it was 
upon that that her thoughts centred. The knowledge 
of what she was doing thrilled every nerve in her body 
and sent the blood coursing quickly through her veins. 
This was her revenge, and she was revelling in it. She 
was leading the man who had scorned and mocked 
her to his death. 

She knew that all would take place exactly as she 
had planned it. She had seen and spoken with Bibi 
since supper, and he was prepared. He would carry 
out her instructions to the letter. He would be there 
when they reached the summer-house, crouching hid- 
den among the bushes. She would enter first and then 
detain Owen in the doorway. Bibi would creep out, 
unheard, unseen. A quick blow like this involun- 
tarily she clenched her fingers into the palms of her 
hands, and a shudder passed through her frame yes, 
a blow with his own knife and it would all be over. 

Owen felt the convulsive movement of the girl's 
body, and he drew her closer to his side. "You're not 
cold, my Zelie?" he asked, little suspecting the true 
cause of her emotion. "You should have put some- 
thing round your neck. We're still in spring, you 
know, though the nights are so delightfully warm. 
And you are really very decolletee, Zelie; a little too 
much so, don't you think?" 

There was something of the old tone of command 
in his voice. He had always been accustomed to dic- 
tate to her upon the subject of her dres. But she 
resented his interference now. 

"What does that matter to you?" she said, shortly. 
"It seems to me that a man who deserts his wife and 


engages himself to another girl cannot have much to 
say in these matters. Is it not so, M. mon marif" 

Owen came to a sudden halt. They had reached 
the end of the illuminated walk by now and were 
standing on the verge of a thicket, a miniature wood 
intersected by several paths; in the centre of it the 
summer-house was situated. The sound of music could 
still be heard, but very faintly now. They were prac- 
tically alone. 

"But, Zelie" a puzzled look had come to the man's 
face. "Why do you say this to me? Why do you 
speak so cruelly ? Surely you know you understand ?" 

"I understand yes." She drew her hand from 
under his arm and stood confronting him. Since he 
demanded it, there was no reason why he should not 
know what she thought of him. Of course, there could 
be no doubt about his motives. He wished to marry 
his flaxen-haired doll for the sake of her money, and to 
remain on good terms with herself, Zelie, all the same. 
His passion for her was unabated. That was what 
he was about to tell her he was going to throw him- 
self upon her mercy. Well, she would allow herself 
the gratification of refusing him what he asked. She 
would speak the final "no" when they reached the 
arbour just before the blow was struck. 

"I understand that you have left me for another?" 
she said, in a low, purring voice, in which menance was 

"Zelie, you are wrong," he cried. "Surely, surely, 
you read my letter?" 

"Your letter ?" She shot a quick glance at him. 

"The letter I sent you by Robin. He delivered it 
faithfully?" A momentary suspicion shot through the 
man's brain. Had Robin deceived him intentionally? 

"Oh, that letter/' She shrugged her slanting 


shoulders. "I tore it up unread. I guessed that you 
were trying to excuse yourself, and I did not care to 
read your excuses. I knew enough." 

"Zelie, my God, Zelie!" He seized her arm and 
drew her in the shadow of the wood, choosing the first 
path that presented itself. Zelie made no resistance 
they were walking in the right direction. 

Owen was speaking hurriedly, evidently labouring 
under great excitement. He talked half to himself and 
half to the girl. "Then you didn't know God in 
Heaven, if I'd only realised that ! You've been think- 
ing me false to you you've been hating me in your 
heart. I see that now how you must have hated. 
You destroyed my picture, and I deserved that blow 
from you, just because I was a fool and hadn't told you 
the truth at once. Then I sent the letter to explain 
things, and I thought you would not hate me any more. 
I was contented in my mind about you and only look- 
ing forward to the day when we should meet again 
and be happy. And all the while you never knew!" 

"What is there to know?" she asked. They had 
reached a spot where three paths met. She directed 
his steps into the one that led to the arbour. 

The man pressed his hand to his brow. "No wonder 
you greeted me so coldly," he said; "no wonder your 
eyes were fierce ! My poor Zelie and yet, if you knew 
it, I have been working all these weeks for you. Yes, 
my dear, I have been degrading myself, playing a 
blackguard game, and my only comfort has been that 
it is for you. And, all the while you hated me." 

"How do you mean for me?" Zelie slackened her 
pace a little, compelling him to do the same. They 
were very near the summer-house by now, and his 
speech had mystified her. She wanted to understand. 

He explained the plot upon which he had been en- 


gaged, explained it breathlessly and with many pauses 
and interjections. 

"You see it was for your sake, Zelie. I was a triple 
fool not to have told you before I left Paris, but I 
feared that you might be jealous and prevent me going. 
I vowed myself to perdition when I learned that you 
had found out and revenged yourself upon me by cut- 
ting up my picture. But I forgave you for I know 
your nature, my dear. And now, Zelie, you see every- 
thing has happened just as I planned. I am engaged 
to Lavender Percivale, and to-morrow my aunt will 
make a new will leaving me heir to the best part of her 
estate. She can't live more than another week or two 
it may only be a matter of days the doctor has said 
so. She is so ill that she is not likely to suggest an 
immediate marriage between Lavender and myself, 
which I was afraid she might do. She is quite content, 
knowing us engaged. She will die, and then, of course, 
I shall break off the engagement. But the money will 
be mine and no one can take it from me. Then, Zelie, 
we can begin a new life together, you and I, and I shall 
not care what the world says of me, for I shall have 
you, and you are my world. We'll go away together 
to some other country and forget that we were ever 
parted, for, oh!" he was standing still now, immedi- 
ately facing the girl. He laid his hands upon her 
shoulders, his fingers biting into the white flesh of her 
neck "for, oh, I want you so, Zelie ! I have suffered 
without you. If you should refuse yourself to me I'd 
rather die at your feet than go on living. Zelie, my 
wife, say that you understand and forgive." 

This was an unexpected development, and even 
Zelie's quick brain was unable, for the moment, to cope 
with it. She realised that there had been a mistake 
upon her part, and that, however much Owen Mayne 


might have transgressed against others, he had sinned 
in order to provide himself and her with the money 
of which they stood so badly in need. 

Zelie bit her lip in annoyance and indecision. She had 
nursed her wrath against this man till it had become 
almost dear to her. Besides } he had no longer any 
place in her schemes for the future. She wished to be 
independent and yet, was Owen to die for that? 

She had devoted him to death for an offence of 
which he was innocent. It is reasonable to kill one who 
has hurt you but not when there is no injury to be 
avenged. Such was the primitive idea of justice rooted 
somewhere in the girl's brain. She recognised no law, 
human or Divine. This was no more than instinct, 
an instinct shared with the lower orders of creation. 

And then this man had possessed her entirely he 
was her husband. She had cared for him, too, in a 
wild, passionate fashion; it was not love, for that was 
an emotion to which she was an utter stranger. She 
had never loved any but herself. 

Yet she had been about to lead him to his death! 
The murderer was lurking there even now, somewhere 
close at hand among the bushes. 

Well, Owen must not die since he had not merited 
death. Zelie's reflections could not extend beyond that. 
This was no time for looking into the future. For the 
moment she knew only this Owen Mayne must not 

He was drawing her nearer to him, nearer. In 
another moment her head would be against his breast. 
She resisted a little. 

"Owen, you swear to me that this is true?" 

"I swear it every word." 

She was still resisting him, but he was the stronger. 
His arms had dropped from her shoulders now; they 


were grasping her waist, enfolding her in a passionate 
embrace. Owen was regaining the mastery. It was 
his strength which she had always admired in him, his 
determination. She yielded now because he was 

Their lips met, and to Owen it was as if he were 
absorbing new life into his veins. He felt as a thirsty 
man may feel, one who is parched and dying of thirst, 
when a cup of water is lifted to his mouth. What were 
the kisses of such a one as Lavender Percivale to this ? 
For herein was life, the wild, fierce life of the flesh, and 
what did it matter if sin, degradation death lay be- 
hind that kiss, so long as it was given and received ? 

The glint of something white among the bushes 
he could not say what it was, and it did not matter 
caught his eyes at that moment. A recollection of the 
statue in the grounds at Selwood shot into his brain, 
but he dismissed the thought almost as soon as formed. 
Only a fool allows conscience to hurt him. 

"Come, Zelie," he said recklessly, holding her tightly 
to him. "The devil first brought us together, my dear, 
and the devil will look after his own. I don't mean to 
let you go now we understand each other. There's 
some sort of an arbour close by here, I believe " 

The arbour and Bibi ! Zelie broke into a nervous 
laugh at the unconscious irony of the suggestion. Then 
quickly she disengaged herself from his grasp. How 
was she to rid herself for the present of this man, 
her husband, and let him go safely the man whom, 
not ten minutes ago, she had pictured dead at her feet ? 

Her brain worked rapidly. She affected compliance. 
"Bien" she said, "let it be so. We have still much to 
discuss together about the future. But, first, Owen, 
I shall be pleased if you will go to the house and fetch 
me a wrap for my shoulders." She shivered artistic- 


ally. "I feel the night air. I left a fichu with Mrs. 
Richards. You will find her easily. Go quick, and 
come back. I will wait for you here." 

There was a rustic seat close at hand. Zelie dropped 
down upon it. "I dare not go myself," she added. "I 
have partners who would claim me. I shall be com- 
fortable here and you will not be long." 

Owen hesitated, not liking to leave her alone im- 
patient, too, of every minute. But she pleaded again 
that she was cold, and so there was nothing for it but 
to do as she wished. 

"You won't move from where you are ?" he insisted. 

She promised, and he turned reluctant footsteps 
away. Zelie watched him, half unconsciously admiring 
his tall, well-knit figure, till he had disappeared round 
a bend of the path, then she rose hurriedly and took her 
way to the arbour. 

There was Bibi to be settled with, and what was she 
to tell Bibi? 

She had not far to go, but there was a moment 
when she paused and looked about her nervously. 
The moon was above the horizon now, and its light, 
filtering through the trees, was pale and mysterious. 
She fancied she heard the sound of low sobbing, and of 
quick footsteps somewhere close at hand. 

There were many paths through the thicket, and 
the trees were dense. Zelie strained her eyes to see 
between them, but could distinguish nothing. And 
presently there was the snapping of a twig, then all 
was silent once more. She told herself that she was 
nervous, and had imagined both the sobs and the 

She hurried on to the arbour. It was a small cir- 
cular erection, with a wide door and a bench running 


round the interior. There was no sign of Bibi. No 
doubt he was hidden among the bushes. 

She was just about to call gently when, with startling 
suddenness, she was confronted by the figure of a man. 
He had emerged from the arbour, and in the pale moon- 
light he appeared white, dishevelled, and terrifying. 

"Zelie, by all that's holy." He stretched out his 
hands and seized her wrists. She recognised him then 
with a little scream. It was Stephen Aldis. 


STEPHEN ALDIS and Cecily had patched up a sort of 
reconciliation before the performance that evening. It 
was as a consequence of this, and in order to prove 
his good intentions towards her, that Aldis had ar- 
ranged that they should appear together in the duet 
from The Golden East. He had, however, been in- 
tensely annoyed at her semi-breakdown, while his 
temper was not improved by the other matter that 
of the lost letters which was weighing upon his mind. 

He had taken Zelie in to supper, and in order to keep 
up his spirits he had drunk freely of champagne 
drunk more than was his wont and the consequence 
was that he had risen from the table not intoxicated, 
but in a condition that made him hardly responsible for 
what he did or said. 

He was an abstemious man as a rule, and without 
realising the cause of his peculiar frame of mind he 
wondered stupidly at it. He imagined that it was Zelie 
who had got into his blood, that it was by her he was 
intoxicated, and he laughed, seeing everything for the 
moment in rosy hue. 

Zelie laughed also, but she laughed at rather than 
with the man. It was she who had encouraged him 
to drink. The supper was a merry one, and it re- 
minded her pleasantly of the old Paris days. She had 
let herself go, and it seemed only natural that others 
should do the same. 



Aldis danced the first dance with Zelie, and his 
exaltation of spirits increased. She found it difficult 
to keep him within bounds. She had to tell him in 
the end, jokingly, that she would not dance with him 
again unless he behaved himself more becomingly. 

This brought about a change in his mood. He drank 
again at one of the refreshment buffets, remembered 
his troubles, and then, instead of rosy, everything ap- 
peared black before his eyes. 

It was then, as he made his hesitating way back to 
the drawing-room, that his attention was claimed by 
Cecily. She had been on the look-out for him, and the 
dance which he had promised her was already half 
finished. He had quite forgotten all about it. 

"Don't let's dance, Steve," she murmured, as she 
took his arm. "I'm tired. Let's go out into the 

He thought that fresh air would do him good, and 
readily consented. But he would rather have had any 
companion than Cecily just then. If she were going 
to whine to him once more well, he didn't mean to 
stand it. So he told himself under his breath. He 
had had enough of her ridiculous behaviour. And 
why had she made such a fool of herself upon the 
stage? she had made a fool of him, too. 

Unfortunately the quality of which Cecily stood most 
in need was tact, and it was in tact that she was pecu- 
liarly deficient. Her thoughts were too self-centred 
to allow her to recognise the irresponsible condition of 
the man. She had been torturing herself both because 
she had failed to do justice to the duet and because, 
in her jealousy, she had been watching Aldis almost 
ever since the curtain fell. He seemed to have studi- 
ously neglected her, while his attentions to Zelie had 
been so marked that others had noticed them besides 


herself. She had heard laughing whispers, sniggering 
comments, and these had cut her to the heart. 

She had not meant to reproach him, she had told 
herself that she would be gentle and ingratiating, and 
that the very force of her beauty should win him back 
to her. For was she not more beautiful by far as 
she understood beauty than the strange feline creature 
who had set a spell upon her lover ? She utterly failed 
to see wherein Zelie's fascination lay. 

And so at first there was nothing in her manner to 
which even Aldis could take exception. She was 
humbly repentant for her mishap upon the stage ; she 
was not feeling herself, she had a splitting headache, 
she felt almost as if she were going to faint. Was he 
not a little sorry for her ? 

He said that he was sorry. He was ready to accept 
her excuses. It really didn't matter at all to him at 
that moment that Cecily had failed in her part. It 
was the picture of Zelie that absorbed him, Zelie as she 
had appeared in those wonderful dances of hers, the 
woman, primitive, passionate, and all-conquering. 

He answered more or less at random, and sometimes 
foolishly, but, since he did not appear angry with her, 
hope began to revive in Cecily's breast, and, her whole 
attention centred upon herself, she failed to recognise 
that her lover had been drinking too freely even 
though he stumbled once or twice without any apparent 

Fate willed it that she should lead him to the arbour 
in the wood, eager to have him to herself quite to 
herself for a little while. And he accompanied her 
with drunken docility, only knowing that the night air 
was cooling to his brow and that it would be fully 
half an hour before he might venture to thrust himself 
upon Zelie once more. 


It was in the arbour that the trouble broke forth 
anew. Not all at once, because Cecily had begun by 
being very sweet and tender, knowing, perhaps, that 
Stephen Aldis was more amenable to a kiss than to 
any amount of reasoning. She wreathed her arms 
about his neck, rested her fair head upon his shoulder, 
and lifted her lips to his. 

He responded readily enough, though he closed his 
eyes as his lips met hers. It was of Zelie he was think- 
ing all the time, though she could not guess it. 

She imagined that she had triumphed, that she had 
won him back. The soft, sweet perfume of the wood, 
of the garden, and of the spring night enthralled her. 

"Ah," she cried, with a deep, throbbing sigh, "you 
love me, Steve, you do love me. It's all been a horrible 
dream, and I want to forget it. Kiss me again, my dear 
one, and tell me that it is I whom you love and not 
that evil creature, that vampire woman, Zelie " 

He opened his eyes. The spell had passed away. He 
gazed down at her stupidly with the dull comprehension 
of his semi-intoxication. 

"What's that you were saying about Zelie?" 

"Oh, Steve, I want you to tell me that you've done 
with her for ever." 

He broke into a rough laugh, thrusting her from 
him. "Done with Zelie ? What an absurd idea ! Done 
with her ? My God, no ! Why, she absorbs me. Zelie 
is a creature of fire and flame. I tell you that it takes 
a kiss from her lips to make a man realise that he is 
alive. You are all very well, Cecily, and I'm very 
fond of you" his voice was almost maudlin "but 

Zelie " he lifted his hands to his lips and kissed 

them "ah, for an hour with Zelie, I'd sacrifice the 
love of any other woman under the sun !" 

His words fell upon the girl like a heavy blow. She 


drew away from him, long shudders convulsing her 
whole frame, She buried her face in her hands and the 
tears welled from between her fingers. 

"Oh, God, have pity upon me," she moaned, "for 
the man I love has none." 

Aldis gazed at her stupidly and then attempted to 
convince her of the folly of her behaviour. But he 
found he could not articulate his words distinctly ; they 
seemed to slip into each other somehow, and he could 
not say what he meant. 

"Why don't you answer me?" he exclaimed at last, 
irritation getting the better of him. He had said 
nothing to which she could reply, but he was not aware 
of the fact. 

Her face was still buried in her hands, she could not 
speak. She sat there craning her head forward, and 
the trembling of her shoulders maddened him. 

He raised his voice almost to a shout. 

"Once and for all, Cecily, will you cease worrying 
me about Zelie?" 

Still she made him no reply. He was standing be- 
fore her now, and he seized her arms roughly, tearing 
her hands from before her face. The sight of the tears 
streaking her cheeks only served to heighten his wrath. 

"Why don't you speak?" He lurched a step for- 
ward and shook her savagely, hardly knowing what he 
did, only incensed against this white-faced thing who 
could shed tears but could not talk. 

He released her at last, dimly conscious of having 
performed an act which in his sober senses he would 
have scorned. Cecily lay back upon the low wooden 
seat for a moment or two, gasping ; then suddenly she 
rose to her feet. 

"Let me go," she panted. "I hate you !" 

He stood aside. "All right, go," he grumbled, "and 


I'm glad to be rid of you. You're one of those women 
who can make a man's life a hell to him. It's all over 
between us, understand that it's all over." 

"I hate you I hate you !" she repeated, pressing her 
hands to her swelling bosom. Her eyes were wild. 
The iron had bitten deeply into her soul. She swept 
out of the summer-house and was gone. 

Aldis followed her to the door. He had only a dim 
perception of what had actually happened, of what 
he had said. Cecily had been playing the fool again 
and had irritated him. A curse upon these tearful 
women and their incomprehensible ways ! 

The pale moon, only recently risen, shone down upon 
the footpath, throwing long shadows across it. Cecily 
had disappeared, and this struck him as curious, for 
he could see down the path for a considerable distance 
in either direction. But, no doubt, there was some 
other way, hidden among the trees, which he could not 
see, or perhaps she had contrived a short cut for her- 
self through the bushes. It was silly of her if she had 
done that, for she would spoil her gown, and it was a 
pretty gown, too. 

Should he go after her? He was considering the 
question, balancing the weight of his body upon each 
foot alternately, when he perceived a figure approach- 
ing from the other direction to that which Cecily had 

Could ,she be coming back ? She might have made 
some sort of a circuit and was now returning to say 
that she was sorry for having been foolish. Well, he 
supposed he would have to make friends again. 

He drew back a little into the arbour. He was not 
going to allow Cecily to see that he had felt anxious on 
her behalf, so he told himself with foolish, half-drunken 


cunning. The footsteps were drawing nearer ah! 
they were now at the very door. 

He stepped forward, and then he realised his error. 

"Zelie, by all that's holy !" He broke into a laugh, 
and, stretching out his hands, seized the French girl 
by the wrists. 

Zelie for it was at this moment that she had 
reached the arbour after leaving Owen gave a low 
cry, for she realised at once that the man was not 
master of himself. And what was he doing here in the 
summer-house alone? 

"What a glorious piece of luck!" chuckled Aldis. 
"Why, the gods themselves must have sent you, Zelie. 
To think of it, that we should meet here and without 
a soul to interfere with us!" 

His eyes were devouring her greedily. He was step- 
ping backwards into the arbour, drawing her after him. 
His grip upon her wrists was so tight that it pained 
her. She was afraid of him. 

"No," she cried. "It was all a mistake. I came 
here to meet someone not you, M. Aldis. Let me 
go, let me go, I say." 

She stamped her foot, but he would not let her go. 
He kept laughing in a foolish sort of manner, and he 
did not appear to understand what she said. He had 
passed one arm about her body now and was drawing 
her to him. 

"I love you, Zelie. You black witch, you en- 
chantress! You've possessed me body and soul, and 
you're going to tell me that you love me, too. You're 
not going to keep me in suspense any longer. For this 
is our hour, Zelie, yours and mine. You've come to me 
out of the night it was fate directed your steps." 

He continued to pour out hot, burning words, words 


that were Hardly intelligible. He was holding her close 
to his breast now, and his lips were close to hers. Zelie 
was terrified. She feared this man who had sprung, 
as it were, out of the darkness and seized her, this man 
who was too intoxicated to know what he did she 
was afraid as she had never been afraid before. 

Luckily he released his hold of her for a moment. 
He had stumbled and been compelled to throw out one 
of his hands against the woodwork of the arbour to 
support himself. Zelie seized that moment, and before 
Aldis knew what she was about she had fled from the 
arbour, leaving him once more alone. 

She ran down the path, imagining in her terror that 
Aldis was pursuing her. It was not till she was clear 
of the wood that she remembered Bibi, who must be 
lurking there among the bushes, wondering what had 
happened. But she could not worry about Bibi now. 
He must find out for himself that there was no need 
to use his knife against anyone. There was Owen, 
too; but she would invent some excuse for him he 
was bound to return to the house in search of her. 

And so Zelie made her way back to the ballroom, 
and was soon claimed by one of her partners, who had 
been vainly seeking for her. By that time she had 
quite recovered her self-possession. 

A little later Donald Ransom and Lady Beatrice, 
who had been wandering in the grounds, turned by 
chance into the narrow footpath that led to the summer- 
house. Donald had recollected its existence, and had 
told himself that it would be delightful to spend a few 
minutes there with his sweetheart. 

They had been walking decorously in the illuminated 
gardens, but now, under the shadow of the trees, the 
young man slipped his arm about the girl's waist and 
whispered tender words in her ear. 


They trod upon the soft sward by the side of the 
path, and so their footsteps made but little sound. The 
glory and the wonder of their love was upon them, 
and the things of earth seemed very far away. 

"Here we are," said Sir Donald when at last the 
summer-house appeared in sight. "Come along, Bee; 
I'm not going to take you back to the house for an- 
other quarter of an hour at least." 

"But I'm engaged to dance with Charlie Lake," she 
protested, smiling. 

"Oh, bother Charlie Lake," he responded. "He must 
get another partner." 

"Well, I consent," she replied, "on condition that 
you don't dance again with that horrible Zelie. I saw 
you flirting with her, sir, and I don't like it." 

He pressed a kiss upon her cheek and led her towards 
the door of the summer-house, and then, as they were 
about to enter, Lady Beatrice suddenly gave utterance 
to a sharp scream, while Donald started and clasped 
his arm tighter about the girl as if to protect her. 

For a white, ghastly face confronted them in the 
doorway, a face that seemed hardly human in its utter 
malignity a frightened face, too that of a hunted 

Donald recognised it, recognised, too, the stunted, 
ill-shaped figure. "Don't be frightened, Bee," he ex- 
claimed, "it's only that beast of an Apache. What 
are you doing here?" He addressed Bibi sternly. 

Bibi made a sudden dart forward, bending his head 
low an effort to escape. But Donald caught him by 
the collar and held him firmly. 

Then Beatrice, who, trembling and startled, had been 
leaning against the door of the arbour, screamed again. 

"Donald, Donald, look!" She pointed a terrified 


finger at a dark figure that lay there prone upon the 
floor, a figure strangely and horribly contorted. "It's 
murder, Donald," she screamed. 

And Donald, still gripping Bibi, the Apache, tightly 
by the collar, looked and saw. 


OWEN, failing to find Zelie at the spot where he had 
left her, remained for a few minutes, muttering to 
himself and walking with short, quick steps up and 
down the gravel path, then he realised that it was no 
use waiting any longer, and returned to the house. 

He went circumspectly, for he was terribly afraid 
lest he should meet Lavender or Robin, who might 
claim his company and prevent him from having his 
talk out with Zelie. And he could not leave Chamney 
Castle that night without a complete understanding 
it was impossible. 

He found the dancer, at last, sitting among palms 
and flowers in the conservatory, and surrounded by 
a small bevy of admirers of both sexes. There was a 
great red-shaded lamp just behind Zelie's chair, and it 
cast its glow upon her white cheeks, and lent a bizarre 
shade of colour to the blackness of her gown. 

She saw him, and she made a little gesture with her 
hand that was half apologetic and which indicated 
that, for one moment, she was not free to go to him. 
Owen noticed then that the tall, handsome woman 
sitting next to Zelie was none other than the Duchess 
of Shiplake herself. 

He moved away and found a seat in another nook 
of the conservatory. It was only separated from Zelie 
and her party by a screen of foliage. Soon a man 
whom he knew casually strolled by with a pretty girl 
upon his arm, evidently on the look-out for a secluded 



corner. He cast envious eyes at the empty chair be- 
side the one occupied by Owen here was an ideal 
spot for two under the leafy palms. 

"Aren't you dancing, Mayne?" he cried. "I didn't 
think you were the sort of man to be sitting out alone. 
Rippin' waltz this they're playing !" 

The faint sound of dance music fell upon Owen's 
ears from the distant ballroom. It was a popular 
melody, with a banal, haunting refrain. He had danced 
to it a score of times. 

Owen refused to take the hint, and after a few 
more trivial observations, the man and his partner 
drifted away. Almost immediately afterwards the 
duchess rose with a sweep of her skirt, and, of course, 
the rest of the company followed suit. The little party 
was about to break up. 

Owen was at Zelie's side immediately. She was 
gazing at the retreating figure of the duchess, a sneer 
upon her lips. And, as the latter disappeared, she did 
exactly what Lord Martyn had foretold she would do- 
she put her tongue out with a gesture of derision. 

"Ah, but they are funny, these good English people," 
she exclaimed. "They talk about art and elevating 
the public taste, but why do they applaud me, why 
will they come and see me, why?" She clapped her 
hands together and laughed. I have no art, I am as 
I am, Zelie of Montmarte. But I show them what 
is in their own hearts. If they spoke the truth they 
would say that my dancing shocks them and that they 
like to be shocked. But you English, you will not 
admit that you like to be shocked. You speak of art, 
and then it is all right you have your excuse is it 
not so?" 

"Art or no art, Zelie, you are wonderful," said the 
man. "I wish to Heaven you were not, for then I 


shouldn't feel that I was sharing you with the world. 
Oh, I hate this appearing on a public stage must you 
go on with it, Zelie? Must you?" 

He took her hands and drew her to the two chairs 
under the palms. "Now I've got you," he went on, 
breathing hard, "I'm not going to let you go until we've 
settled about the future, Zelie, my wife." 

"Yes, we will talk," she said. "It is best that we 
should understand each other. And I am sorry, O-en" 
he delighted in that pronunciation of his name 
"that I could not wait for you in the garden." 

"Why did you go away?" he asked. 

She spread out her hands it was quke easy to in- 
vent an excuse, anything would do. "Ah, I could not 
help myself," she said. "I did not wish to go away, 
but there came a gentleman I have forgotten his 
name" she shrugged her narrow shoulders "and he 
told me that the duchess, she whom you see me with 
just now, wished to speak with me, and that it was 
most important, ah, but most important for my future. 
So what could I do but go? I knew that you would 
find me again before you leave, mon O-en." 

His hand held hers. The air was soft with the per- 
fume of flowers, and the music fell faintly upon their 
ears, a waltz to a fierce gipsy refrain. 

She tapped her feet upon the floor. It was as if she 
longed to dance. 

"You are dancing your way over the hearts of men, 
Zelie," he said, noticing the action. "Can you not be 
content with one heart mine? Do you still love me, 

"Why, of course, mon ami," she answered, but there 
was no warmth, no passion in her tone. Nevertheless, 
she stroked his cheek with her soft fingers, and he 


thrilled at the touch of them. "Do we not understand 
each other now?" she murmured. 

"You will wait for me, Zelie," he said hoarsely, 
"until I have this fortune in my possession, this fortune 
that must be mine at no distant date, and for which I 
have sacrificed my honour? But that doesn't matter, 
for I'd have sacrificed my very soul, consigned it to 
hell, if it were to give you something you crave for. 
And you craved for money, Zelie. Well, I shall be 
rich, though for a little while longer I must still pre- 
tend to be the affianced husband of another woman. 
But, later on ah, the whole world shall know that you 
are my wife." 

"Let us wait till that hour before we decide on the 
future?" said Zelie, always ready to postpone in her 
mind that she would not abandon her stage career, that 
she would not give up one iota of her success, for the 
sake of this man whom, only a few hours ago, she had 
figured as lying dead, murdered, at her feet. She had 
spared his life, but he should not stand in her way. 
That was a matter, however, which could be settled 
later ; for the present all was well, and, from the very 
circumstances of his position, he could not interfere 
with her. 

So she leant back lazily in her chair, reaching out 
one hand and drawing down a great palm leaf so that 
it half-concealed her face. "We will talk of that later 
on, Owen," she said, "when the fortune is yours. Do 
not be afraid that I shall run away from you. But, 
for the present, you will not grudge me my success. 
You will be pleased that I am so clever I, Zelie, who 
not so very long ago was ready to beg my bread in the 
gutter that I am so clever as to win the applause of 
all these great people Milor Martyn, who invites me 
to stay at his castle, and Madame la Duchesse, who 


condescends to shake me by the hand, and who does 
not guess that I laugh at her in my heart. Are you 
not pleased, O-en, that I am so clever as this?" 

Her red lips were parted; they smiled tantalisingly 
at him from behind the green fan of the palm leaf. He 
clenched his fists, cursing the evil fate that for a while 
longer must keep them apart. He was jealous of her 
success, jealous that other eyes than his should feast 
upon her weird beauty. Ah, it was different when he 
was painting the "Chamois Hunter." She was his 
then, only his. But he was ready to promise anything 
if the future was assured to him. 

And, at last, a compact was made between them. 
Zelie gave her promise easily. Words meant so little 
to her, and weeks must pass before Owen was ready to 
claim her. To-morrow what heed did she take of 
to-morrow? "To-morrow never comes" the old saw 
rang in her brain. Owen had made use of those very 
words to her once, and had explained their truth. To- 
morrow never comes. 

A born actress, she played her part skilfully. She 
pretended to be jealous of the little waxen saint, 
Lavender Percivale, to whom Owen had engaged 
himself. She knew now that she had no cause for 
jealousy; Owen's fidelity to her, the passion which 
dominated his life, was clearly to be read in every 
feature of his face. 

"Very well, mon ami, let it be understood so. We 
part to-night, you as an engaged man, and I as the 
star of the London season. We play our roles, each 
independent of the other, until such time as fate may 
bring us together again. Is that as you would have it ?" 

He bent over her. She could feel his warm breath 
upon her cheek. "Yes, Zelie," he muttered. "That 
is understood because it must be so, and there is no 


other way. But don't make me jealous of you, don't 
let me feel that anyone is taking my place in your 
heart. For I am your husband, and I would kill you 
and myself, too, rather than lose you, rather than give 
you up to another." 

Zelie's eyes glittered. She thought of Bibi, who had 
said much the same though Bibi's ideas of love were 
broader. But she estimated a man the higher when 
he treated her to threats it was a method of love- 
making that appealed to her and which she appreciated. 
She had liked Owen at their first meeting because he 
despised danger. He resembled those primitive men 
one had seen them in imagination as she danced 
the wild men of cave and tree, who carry off their 
women after fighting for them to the death. 

"And now we will go back," she said, "back to the 
ballroom, for they will be wondering where I am, and 
you, too" she cast him a quick and mischievous 
glance "the little pale saint with the flaxen hair, she 
will be shedding tears for her lover, the lover who 
has neglected her this evening. You will dance with 
her, Owen, and you will whisper sweet things in her 
ear, and she will believe you when you say that you 
love and adore her and, of course, she will forgive. 
Oh, la, la" Zelie lifted her arms, clasping her fingers 
behind her head. "But what a farce is this life ! Men 
and women alike, we are not worth much, we all have 
the devil in us. I expect that your prim little demoiselle 
has been consoling herself for your absence and why 
not? It is better to laugh than to weep." 

A warm flush mounted to Owen's cheeks. He felt 
that he should have defended Lavender from such an 
accusation which he knew to be false. But, after all, 
Zelie was only giving expression to what he had always 
professed as his own views of human nature. 

"Very well, we will go, Zelie," he said, "now that 
we understand each other. But my lips will be parched 
for want of your kisses wife whom I may not call 

He bent over her and would have taken her in his 
arms and kissed her there and then, but she repulsed 
him, tapping him lightly on his cheek with her fan. 
She was minded to show her strength, to prove to her 
own satisfaction that, now and henceforward, she could 
bend this man as all others to her caprices. 

And she did not wish for kisses, neither from Owen, 
who had the best right to bestow them, nor from anyone 
else in the world. She craved for wealth, admiration, 
and applause. She loved no other but herself. She 
had no soul. 

"Go, kiss your little Madonna," she said. "Give her 
the cold, saintly kisses that she expects. If you went 
to her with my kisses upon your mouth your lips might 
burn her and she would not understand." 

"You are cruel, Zelie," he muttered ; but he followed 
her, and together they made their way to the ballroom. 

A waltz was in progress. Owen recognised the 
melody as that of the popular musical comedy in which 
Stephen Aldis had made his last success. There was 
a passage in it where the musicians hummed to the 
refrain. The dancers were showing a tendency to join 
in as well, and there was much laughter and some good- 
natured boisterousness. The more sedate of the guests 
had already departed, and the younger people were 
allowing their spirits to find a vent. 

"Ah-ah-ah," hummed the orchestra, and "Ah-ah-ah," 
echoed the dancers, as they whirled madly round. 
Zelie's restless feet tapped the floor. She gripped 
Owen's arm. "Come, let us dance," she said, eagerly. 


"Take me in your arms, Owen, and let us mock the 
world together." 

He clasped her to him, holding her almost as Bibi 
Coupe-vide himself would have helc^-Jier, breast to 
breast, and so they swung into the dance, and for a few 
moments, to Owen, there was no boundary between 
earth and heaven and hell. 

Nor was he conscious of Lavender's pale face 
Lavender, who stood there among the lookers-on, with 
Robin close beside her Lavender, to whom only the 
day before he had promised love and fidelity 
Lavender, who was pure and wholesome Lavender, 
who did not understand. 

"Ah-ah-ah" the orchestra was shouting now rather 
than humming, and "Ah-ah-ah" repeated Owen, laugh- 
ing down into the eyes that were raised to his, con- 
scious of the red, alluring lips, of the supple body 
which he clasped so tightly, of the heart that beat so 
close to his own. This was a delirious madness it was 
worth living for. 

Suddenly, in the midst of the refrain, the music broke 
down. Someone had mounted the stage and was 
speaking in a rapid undertone to the conductor. The 
dancers came to a halt, staring at each other and asking 
what had happened. Some shouted a protest. "Go on, 
go on!" One or two couples, with less restraint than 
the rest, went on dancing, despite the cessation of the 

The man who had mounted the stage stepped for- 
ward, holding out his arm as though to indicate that 
he wished to speak. It was Gilbert Farrington, the 
artist, and he was recognised at once by his friends 
among the dancers, who shouted out his name, pro- 
testing loudly against his interruption. It was a mo- 
ment or two before he could make his voice heard. 


"I am sorry," he said. He seemed to feel the 
awkwardness of his task. "But our host has asked 
me to explain. There has been an accident, a terrible 
accident, I am afraid. I don't know the particulars of 
it yet, but I fear that someone that someone has lost 
his life." 

He brought out the words jerkily, though he was 
speaking in a loud tone of voice, so as to be audible 
from end to end of the great hall. A hush fell as the 
import of his words became clear. To Owen, after 
the noise and laughter, it was almost as if he had been 
stricken with sudden deafness. 

"I'm afraid that there is nothing that we can do but 
withdraw quietly," Gilbert Farrington continued. 
"Our host has asked me to make this communication 
and to beg you to forgive him if he himself is unable 
to bid you good-night. I am sure that we must all 
sympathise with him in this disastrous conclusion to so 
pleasant an entertainment." 

Gilbert Farrington descended from the platform to 
a room full of people that his words had thrown into 
confusion. But it was in whispers now that everyone 
spoke. "Who is it? Who has been hurt? How did 
it happen? Is he really dead?" 

Fresh intelligence had arrived by now from other 
quarters, and it was not long before the name of 
Stephen Aldis was upon everyone's lips. Stephen 
Aldis was dead some said he had been murdered; 
Stephen Aldis, whom only an hour or so ago they had 
applauded upon the stage; Stephen Aldis, the univer- 
sal favourite, the darling of London audiences. There 
were many among the women who made no attempt to 
hide their tears, while one or two were led away crying 

It happened in the garden. He was found by Sir 


Donald Ransom and Lady Beatrice Clewer lying dead 
either shot or stabbed some said one, some the 
other. The murderer was caught, too, after a terrible 
tussle with Sir Donald he wasn't one of the guests, 
oh, no a tramp who must have broken in from out- 
side there was a public footway close by. But no one 
knew exactly, and everyone had a different story to 

And then, as the hall was gradually clearing, a pain- 
ful episode occurred. For nobody knew exactly from 
whence she came a wild-eyed woman, with her ball- 
dress in disarray and her hair loosened about her 
shoulders, came rushing across the room, her arms 
stretched out. There were few who recognised her at 
that moment as Cecily Cuthbert. 

"Is he dead?" she screamed. "Oh, God in heaven, 
tell me, is he dead?" 

Some kindly matrons closed round her and she was 
led away. But even when she was no longer seen her 
screams resounded in the ears of the shuddering guests, 
by now collecting in the hall waiting for the motor- 
cars and carriages that drove up to the door and then 
drove off again as quietly and expeditiously as possible. 

Out in the gardens the fairy lamps were being extin- 
guished, the Chinese lanterns torn down from the trees. 
But it was not till later on, when the last of the guests 
had departed and when the ladies of the house party 
had been sent up to their rooms, that a solemn little 
procession made its way across the lawn from the fatal 
summer-house in the wood to the main entrance of the 
castle. They carried between them an improvised 
stretcher upon which, reverently covered, lay the body 
of London's favourite Stephen Aldis. 


THERE came a knock at Zelie's door some half an hour 
after that mournful procession had reached its des- 
tination, and when all was still in Chamney Castle. 

Zelie had removed her ball-dress, and was sitting 
at her toilette-table, dressing her hair for the night. 
For the last few minutes, however, she had been 
resting idly, her elbow upon the table, gazing at her 
reflection in the mirror. 

Her lips were set in a straight line, and it would have 
been difficult for anyone to tell what her thoughts 
might be. She was not grieving for the death of 
Stephen Aldis; he had meant nothing to her in her 
life, and she had only mocked at the passion which she 
had aroused in his breast. Only, as yet, she did not 
know exactly how he had come by his death, and there 
were uneasy suspicions in her mind. 

Together with the other ladies of the house-party, 
she had been sent off to her room at the earliest oppor- 
tunity. She had not seen Lord Martyn she had seen 
nobody who could give her any information. From 
her window, however, she had been witness of the 
bringing in of Stephen Aldis's body; she had seen 
policemen, too, and, later, some time after the last of 
the guests had departed, another carriage had driven 
off, starting from the stables, and not from the front 
door. But as it passed down the main drive she had 
noticed that there was a policeman sitting upon the 

Could it be possible that Bibi had been fool enough 
to make a blunder? She had not warned him 



frightened away from the arbour as she had been by 
Stephen Aldis's amorous overtures so, supposing that 
Bibi, lurking there, had struck the wrong man, or, 
again, supposing he had been witness of Aldis's attempt 
to embrace her, and had been seized by a wild fit of 
jealousy ? 

Either one or the other was possible, and granted 
that it was Bibi who had done this thing, how was his 
mad act going to affect her future? That was the 
principal question, the only question that mattered. 

"Bah," she exclaimed, grimacing at her reflection 
in the glass. "Let it be so if Fate wills. Why should 
I suffer? What was it that made my name in Paris, 
that brought me out of the slums? Was it not that 
men fought for me, shed their blood, and died? It 
was that that made people want to see Zelie the Snake. 
It was blood that made me famous in Paris, and it 
shall be blood that makes me famous in London." She 
shrugged her shoulders. "Let it be so, I care not," 
she muttered. "But Bibi ah, the fool, the fool." 

It was at this moment that a knock came at her door, 
and Madame de Freyne appeared upon the threshold. 

"May I come in, Zelie?" said the journalist. "I'm 
far too troubled to think of going to bed, and I should 
like to have a little talk." 

She had a dark dressing-gown of some rich material 
wrapped about her, and her steel-blue eyes were 
clouded, while her strong, rather masculine, face had 
little lines of trouble about the mouth. 

"This is a terrible business, Zelie," she said, sinking 
into a chair. "I was fond of Steve Aldis. There's 
hardly a man in London whose future should have been 
as bright as his. And to die like this, to be murdered, 
when he was little more than on the threshold of his 
real life oh, it's cruel, cruel!" 


She passed the Sack of her hand across her eyes, 
which were wet. "We've had a terrible time with 
Cecily, too," she went on, "but she's quieter now, and 
perhaps will sleep. But I don't know I don't know. 
She was like a mad woman for a while, and she said 
things" the journalist shuddered "which which I 
should not like to repeat. I think there must have been 
some quarrel between her and Steve in the course of 
the evening, for no one seems to have seen her much 
after supper, though one of the maids tells me that she 
ran upstairs to her own room oh, quite a long time 
before we heard about Steve's murder, and that her 
face was so white that my informant thought she was 
ill, and asked if she could do anything for her. But 
she only shook her head and flung herself into the 
room, locking the door behind her. She didn't come 
out again till she rushed down to the ball-room you 
remember how she screamed." Madame de Freyne 
pressed her fingers to her ears. 

"I am sorry for Mademoiselle Cuthbert," said Zelie, 
but without conviction. "But I think she was foolish, 
Madame Eve, and she did not know how to keep a 
man's love." 

"Ah, Zelie, Zelie," said the other woman sadly, "I 
don't blame you it isn't your fault that men are ready 
to sacrifice their souls for you, but it may be hard 
upon other women. Have a care, Zelie, lest one day 
even worse may befall." 

Zelie only shrugged her shoulders, making no reply. 
There was no remorse in her heart, nor did she feel 
herself to blame for Cecily Cuthbert's agony. 

"I've seen Harry," Madame de Freyne said, after 
a pause, during which she waited for that word of 
sympathy which never came. "Do you know, Zelie, 
who it was that struck the blow?" 


Zelie was more interested. She turned in her chair, 
playing with a ruby ring that she wore it was one 
which Owen had given her twisting it round and 
round upon her finger. "No, I haven't heard. Who?" 

"It was your Apache friend the man who danced 
with you to-night Bibi." 

Zelie was prepared for the answer, but the corners 
of her lips went down, and for the moment Eve de 
Freyne, scrutinising her face, wondered what beauty 
men could see in it. 

"The fool!" Zelie muttered. "The blind fool!" 
Then she put a sharp question. "He was taken, was 
he not? Has he given any explanation?" 

Eve de Freyne shook her head. "He says he is 
innocent," she replied. "Yet he was taken almost 
red-handed. And he had poor Steve's pocket-book, 
his watch and chain, and other valuables, about his 
person. The man is a thief and a murderer. Yet 
he says that he is innocent." 

Zelie's brows contracted in a heavy frown. Yes, 
of course, it was evident that the whole thing has been 
an abominable blunder. Bibi, believing that he had 
killed Owen Mayne, had been carrying out Zelie's in- 
structions, taking the dead man's watch and chain 
and other belongings, in order that it might be thought 
that some tramp had broken in from the public foot- 
path. And he had been surprised and captured before 
he had time to escape from the scene of his crime. 

She drummed with her fingers upon the table impa- 
tiently. "Well, I am not responsible for Bibi Coupe- 
vide being at Chamney Castle," she said defiantly. 
"He did not come at my invitation. I did not even 
know that he was in England." She spoke the lie 
glibly. "It's true that when I saw him I suggested 
he should dance with me, but that is because I knew 


that our dance would be the greater success. It was 
for the sake of art." She flung out the words with 
biting sarcasm. 

"No one blames you, Zelie," said Madame de Freyne 
sadly. "Harry himself was the first to absolve you. 
But it is a terrible thing, and, from happiness and 
enjoyment we have been plunged into the direst sor- 
row and tragedy. And I feel nervous to-night," she 
went on, drawing the folds of her dressing-gown more 
closely about her, as if she were cold, "as though it 
were not all over yet, as though there were more hor- 
rors to come oh! perhaps not immediately, but that 
they are brooding over us." 

Suddenly she drew herself up in her chair. "Hush !" 
she murmured. "What is that ?" 

Zelie turned and listened. Both women could hear 

the sound of a footfall in the corridor without. There 

was an intense silence in the house, save for that one 

, sound light footsteps, as of bare feet, and they were 

drawing nearer to the door. 

Madame de Freyne started up and laid her strong, 
muscular hand upon Zelie's bare arm. "Cecily," she 
muttered. "I am sure it must be Cecily. Who else 
should be wandering about the house at this hour ?" 

Zelie hunched her shoulders, but did not move. The 
doings of Cecily Cuthbert were of small importance 
to her at that moment. She was thinking of Bibi 
Coupe-vide, and if he would betray her. 

The steps passed the door, and could be heard re- 
treating down the corridor. "I can't stand this I 
must see what is the matter !" Eve de Freyne, strong, 
level-headed woman though she was, was trembling 
a little as she spoke the words. She stepped quickly 
to the door and threw it open. 

She saw the figure of a girl, clad in black, who was 


on the point of turning out of the corridor into the 
gallery upon which it opened. There was something 
almost ghostlike in the way she seemed to glide along, 
and her arms were lifted above her head. 

"It is Cecily!" Madame de Freyne turned an awe- 
struck face to Zelie. "I'm sure she's going to to 
the chamber of death ! She isn't in her right mind 
she can't be ! Zelie, I must follow her for Heaven's 
sake, come, too!" 

Unpleasing to her as was the suggestion, Zelie was 
constrained to comply. The two women followed 
quickly down the long corridor in pursuit of the ghost- 
ly figure. 

They saw it again when they reached the gallery. 
This was a wide space which formed a communica- 
tion with the more central block of the building. Here 
were the best bedrooms, and it was in one of these, 
as Eve de Freyne already knew, that the body of 
Stephen Aldis had been laid out; and it was at the 
door of this room that Cecily Cuthbert was now hesi- 

At that moment another figure appeared upon the 
scene. It was that of Lord Martyn, and he was still 
fully dressed. He, too, had evidently been disturbed 
by the sound of footsteps passing his door. 

Cecily turned and cast a half-frightened, half-defiant 
glance at her pursuers. A grey light was filtering in 
from a high, uncurtained window the light of dawn. 
She had entered the room before they could come 
up to her, the great oak-panelled room, with its som- 
bre hangings, its closely-drawn curtains, and the old- 
fashioned four-post bedstead upon which lay the dead 
man. Four tall candles were burning upon the mantel- 

When Lord Martyn, followed by the two women, in 


his turn entered the room, it was to see Cecily upon 
her knees by the bed, her arms stretched out, her face 
buried in them, her blonde hair streaming over the 
white sheet. Her whole body was convulsed with 

Martyn touched her very gently upon the shoulder. 
"Cecily/ he said, "you must go back to your room. 
This is no place for you, and it can do no good either 
to him who is dead or to yourself." 

She lifted her head and regarded him fiercely. She 
did not seem to perceive the two women who stood 
huddled together upon the threshold. 

"Leave me alone!" she cried wildly. "Leave me 
with my dead! I must watch by his side!" They 
could hear her teeth chattering. "I must watch and 
pray!" she moaned, "watch and pray!" 

Eve de Freyne stepped forward pityingly, and with 
gentle speech. But her movement betrayed the pres- 
ence of Zelie to Cecily Cuthbert. She sprang to her 
feet, and at that moment she was no longer a soft- 
haired, soft-voiced English girl she was a fury un- 
loosed, and every quiver of her body was a denun- 

The filmy black dress she wore had slipped down 
from her white shoulders, exposing the exquisite con- 
tour of neck and breast; her arms, bare too, were 
stretched out straight before her, the fingers extended 
and pointed at Zelie. 

"You you!" she screamed. "Have you come to 
look upon your handiwork to gloat over your victim ? 
See, then! See!" 

Before she could be restrained she had torn the 
sheet from the dead man's face, the ashen face that 
yet, in death, preserved its beauty. 

Cecily gripped Zelie by the arm, and despite her 


resistance dragged her forward. At that moment she 
had the strength of a madwoman. 

"Murderess! murderess!" she cried. "You killed 
this man as surely as if your own hand had struck 
the blow ! Here, in the presence of the dead, I accuse 
you! His blood is upon your head! Lift up your 
hands and let us see the hue of them ! Ah ! you dare 
not! you dare not!" 

With an hysterical cry she seized one of Zelie's 
hands, and held it up, and, strangely almost as though 
it were an omen a ray of light, a first ray of the 
rising sun, shot across the room, stealing in from be- 
tween the closed curtains, and it fell upon Zelie's out- 
stretched hand, tingeing it red. It was but the effect 
of a moment, but Cecily broke into a fierce laugh. 

"You see! you see!" she cried. "The answer has 
come direct from Heaven!" She flung Zelie's hand 
away from her, and then fell back, moaning, into the 
arms of Eve de Freyne. 

"She is mad!" said Zelie, between her teeth, as 
Eve picked up the girl in her strong arms, even as she 
might a child, and carried her from the room. 

"Yes, she is mad mad with grief and does not 
know what she says," responded Martyn. But later, 
after he had conducted Zelie to her room, he returned to 
the death chamber and stood gazing down at the white, 
upturned face of the man who had been his friend. 

"Yes, there is blood upon the panther's claws," he 
muttered, "the panther that I let loose to prey upon 
the world. It has begun even sooner than I expected." 

He clasped his hands together and fell upon his 
knees. "Forgive me, Steve," he prayed, "and pity 
me for I am punished!" He lowered his voice al- 
most to a whisper. "But one day you will be avenged 
for the panther rent its master, too !" 


THE omnibus rattled and rumbled over the hard road 
on its way back to Selwood Manor, and its occupants, 
for the most part, were very silent. 

Lavender's head rested against her lover's shoul- 
der, and her hand clasped his. But she found him 
cold and unresponsive, and it seemed as if her own 
heart were chilled too. Of course, they were, one and 
all, upset by the terrible tragedy which had brought 
the entertainment to so untimely a close. But Lav- 
ender wanted comforting so badly, yet Owen sat there 
silent, his lips compressed together, and she felt that 
his thoughts were far away. 

The rest of the party had been less restrained dur- 
ing the early part of the drive. They had discussed 
.the murder, and had now and then appealed either 
to Lavender or to Owen. None of them knew Aldis 
at all intimately, and so they had no personal cause 
for sorrow. 

The dawn was breaking, a grey and misty dawn, 
and the trees on either side of the road looked white 
and ghostly. 

There was a brief pause at the Ferrars' cottage, then 
the omnibus rattled on again till it reached the gates 
of the long avenue leading to Selwood Manor. 

The groom opened the gate, and the omnibus turned 
in; a few more minutes, now, and the interminable 
drive would be over. 

Suddenly, when they were almost at the end of 
the avenue, close to the spot where the trees on either 
side gave place to lawns, there came a jolt, a shock, 



and the three occupants of the omnibus were almost 
thrown from their seats. 

The coachman backed the omnibus, and shouted to 
his horses. Both of them appeared frightened, and 
were restive. One had nearly fallen, being only just 
pulled up in time. 

Owen threw open the door and sprang out. Then 
he helped Lavender to alight. Robin followed. 

"What is the matter ?" It was still dark in the ave- 
nue, though only a few yards further on the lawns 
appeared white and shimmering in the dawn. Owen 
addressed the coachman, who, by now, with the assist- 
ance of the groom, who had run to their heads, had 
nearly mastered the horses. 

"Can't make it out, sir," was the reply. "One would 
have thought that the horses had stepped upon some- 
thing, but there's nothing in the way that I can see." 

Owen's eyes swept the ground, then he advanced 
a few paces. Suddenly he stumbled and fell. 

He was on his feet again in a moment. "Take 
care !" he said to Robin, who was following him. 

Then he stooped down and examined a wire that was 
stretched taut across the road, and at the level of a 
few inches above it. 

He knew what that wire indicated. So did Robin, 
who by now was at his side. 

"My, God, Robin! There have been burglars at 
the Manor!" muttered Owen. 

With a jerk of his powerful wrist Robin tore down 
the wire, and then, after a swift glance at Lavender, 
a glance that expressed the deepest concern, he set 
off at a run for the house. It was distant only a couple 
of hundred yards or so. He reached the front door 
before the omnibus, with Owen and Lavender, could 
drive up. 


He had had a premonition of evil, to all appearance 
absolutely unreasonable, ever since leaving the castle, 
and now the feeling had utterly possessed him. Thieves 
had broken into the Manor of that there could be 
no doubt but there was more mischief in the wind 
than mere theft. Robin was sure of it, though he 
could not have explained why. 

Owen had the same fear, for it was as if there was 
some strange telepathic influence at work that night; 
but for Lavender's sake he refrained from giving any 
expression to it. He consoled the girl as best he could. 
He would have concealed from her the interpretation 
which Robin and he had placed upon the obstruction 
in the way, but she had overheard their mutual ex- 

"Yes there have been burglars. I don't think there 
can be any doubt of it, but they've got away, undis- 
turbed, long ago. See! Dawn is breaking. It just 
means a loss of the silver. Probably the household 
has slept quietly through it Your aunt will know 
nothing till we tell her." 

He repeated the last phrase once or twice, as if to 
reassure himself. Yet he felt the heart within his 
breast clasped as in a vice, and it seemed as if an 
icy hand was compressing his brow. Supposing some 
terrible mishap had befallen his aunt what then ? His 
conscience tortured him. Morning was breaking with 
a lurid light, the tree tops swayed and rustled omi- 
nously, and from somewhere in the distance a dog 
howled. He seemed to smell death in the air. 

He opened the door hurriedly with his key, and 
they entered the hall. Robin had found another wire 
stretched just across the porch, and this, too, he had 
torn down. Within all appeared in order. The great 
central lamp gave a feeble glow of light it had been 


left burning in case the party returned before dawn. 
The windows were closely shuttered, and the whole 
aspect of the place was cold and ghostly, but nothing 
had been disturbed the thieves had not passed that 

Lavender would have run straight to Mrs. Alder- 
son's room, but was prevented by Robin, who had 
taken command of the proceedings. He agreed with 
Owen that the old lady should not be disturbed unless 
it were necessary; in the state of her heart, a sudden 
alarm might have serious consequences. 

So Owen remained with Lavender in the hall while 
Robin went to arouse Hicks, the butler, and to find out 
where the thieves had obtained an entry, and the 
extent of their depredations. 

"I dare say they've confined their attentions to the 
pantry," he said, for Lavender's benefit. 

"Oh ! but that isn't likely !" faltered Lavender, who 
was pale with alarm and apprehension. "There's the 
jewellery. The burglars must have heard of mother's 
pearls and diamonds the heirlooms. She keeps them 
in the little boudoir that adjoins her bedroom there's 
a safe there, you know." She wrung her hands de- 
spairingly. "Oh! my dear mother! If she has been 
disturbed in such a way in the middle of the night 
the shock must have killed her !" 

Owen listened at the foot of the stairs, but there 
came no sound from above. 

"No alarm has been given," he said, with an affecta- 
tion of cheerfulness. "Everyone seems to be asleep. 
And the less noise we make ourselves the better. Why, 
we might be taken for the thieves!" He forced a 

Lavender was bitterly repentant for having gone 
out that night. "There is no one else who sleeps any- 


where near mother's room," she said despairingly. "I 
wanted her to have Mamey with her, as I should be 
away, but she wouldn't. You see, my bedroom is just 
on the other side of the boudoir, so that I could always 
be called if I was wanted." 

After a few moments, Robin, who had hurried off 
on his errand, returned. His face was very grave. 

"They got in by a window near the kitchen," he 
whispered hurriedly. "The glass has been broken and 
the shutter forced. The pantry has been ransacked. 
They have been upstairs, too; I can see the marks 
of their boots on the back staircase. And Hicks is 
not in his room." 

The two men glanced at each other, then Robin, 
without further word, led the way to the first floor 
of the house, where he turned off into the wide cor- 
ridor where Mrs. Alderson's room was situated. Owen 
and Lavender followed on tiptoe. The groom, who 
had hurried back to the house after helping the coach- 
man with the horses, remained below, ready to answer 
if he was called. 

It was quite silent in the corridor. The morning 
light streamed in through a red-stained glass window 
at the far end. But one or two doors that should 
have been shut stood open, and once Robin pointed 
to marks of muddy footprints on the soft, rich carpet. 

The door of Mrs. Alderson's room was shut, as 
was that of the adjoining bedroom. It was outside 
the latter that the little party came to a halt. They 
listened breathlessly before turning the handle. 

"There's someone here !" whispered Owen in Robin's 
ear. "I'll swear I can hear deep breathing!" He laid 
a detaining hand upon Lavender's arm. "Stay where 
you are, dear," he entreated. "Don't go in!" 

But she disregarded this injunction altogether. She 


pushed her way past the two men and flung herself 
into the boudoir. Then she uttered a sharp cry. 

The room was in disorder. Chairs and tables were 
overthrown, and there were all the signs of a violent 
struggle. The door of the safe stood open, and boxes 
and papers were littered upon the floor. A lantern, 
such as the burglars might have used, was still burn- 
ing upon the top of the safe, and a candle lay by the 
side of a heavy brass poker upon the carpet, in the 
middle of the room. 

Propped up against the wall, bound and gagged, was 
Hicks, the butler. He appeared to be only half con- 
scious. His hair was matted on his forehead, and 
there was a red stain on one of his cheeks. His lips 
were swollen, and his face congested; he was breath- 
ing with difficulty because of the gag that had been 
thrust into his mouth. 

Robin was at his side in a moment, cutting the 
thongs that bound him. But Lavender, after her sharp 
cry, had run straight into the adjoining room, that 
of Mrs. Alderson, the door of which stood wide open. 
A few seconds later another scream escaped her lips. 

Owen joined her, and together they stood in speech- 
less agony though there was a very different founda- 
tion for the suffering of each by the bedside of a dead 

Mrs. Alderson lay there on the outside of the bed. 
She wore a dressing-gown one of the dainty, laven- 
der-perfumed confections that she affected and the 
silken quilt had been drawn up over her body. She 
lay on her back, and her hands were folded across her 
breast. Her eyes were closed, and the whole aspect 
of her face was peaceful. Lavender had imagined 
at first that she was asleep, and her heart had leapt 


joyfully; then she had touched the pale cheek, and 

Owen laid his hand for a moment upon his aunt's 
breast, then he readjusted the quilt, and, taking Lav- 
ender by the arm, led her gently away. For this was 
a chamber of death. 

In the boudoir, Hicks was coughing and gasping 
back to consciousness. Lavender herself, despite her 
own trouble, and her streaming eyes, ministered to 
him as well as she could. The groom had already 
been despatched to Selwood to notify the doctor and 
the police. 

And before long the butler was able to tell what 
had happened. A stiff dose of brandy brought him 
round, and he managed, with Robin's help, to walk 
down to the hall, where they all remained, with the 
exception of Lavender, till the assistance summoned 
from the little town should arrive. Lavender, at 
, Owen's urgent request, had retired to her own room, 
where she could mourn for her dead undisturbed. 

"I woke up, gentlemen," said Hicks huskily, "to 
hear the fellows creeping upstairs. They must have 
made their way straight to the boudoir after breaking 
in; knew just exactly where to go, they did. I didn't 
know what to do, and I hadn't got any sort of arms. 
I took up the first thing that came handy the poker 
and I went after them, poker in one hand, candle 
in the other. I felt dazed-like, and hadn't a plan in 
my head. You see, sirs, we've never had nothing 
of the sort before." 

The butler spoke apologetically, as if he had an 
idea that he might be held responsible. "They were 
in the boudoir when I got upstairs," he went on, "and, 
without waiting to think whether I was doing right 
or wrong, I threw open the door. I was mortal fright- 


ened, gentlemen, but I had to do it. You see, there 
was Mrs. Alderson, who might be in danger and 
she's always been a good mistress to me. And now, 
only to think of it, she's dead she's dead!" He 
broke off to rub his eyes with the back of his hand. 

"Well, I was seized in a moment," he continued. 
"There were two of them big, tall fellows I could 
swear to them again and they had already got to 
work on the safe. I suppose it was about two o'clock 
in the morning. I made the best fight I could, but 
of course it was all against me. One of them had 
a revolver, and threatened to fire, but evidently didn't 
want to do so. They got me down, and began to 
bind me. It was just then that the door of Mrs. 
Alderson's room opened, and she herself appeared. 
She was in her dressing-gown, and so quiet and calm 
you'd never have believed it. 

" 'Don't hurt him !' that's what she said, and her 
voice was as gentle as if she had been speaking to 
you or me. 'Since you have broken into my house 
to steal,' she went on, 'take what you want, and go 
quietly.' Then suddenly she pressed her hands to her 
heart and sank down without a cry or a groan it 
must have killed her to be aroused so roughly by the 
noise that was going on in the next room to hers. 
Well, one of the men went to her, while the other fin- 
ished binding me up. I heard him say that she was 
dead. They made no further noise, and, as you know, 
gentlemen, not another soul in the house was aroused. 
When I was quite helpless they propped me up against 
the wall, and then they went and carried Mrs. Alder- 
son gently I'll say that for them to her bed. After- 
wards they came back, forced the safe, and cleared it 
out, and then they stole quietly away. One of them 
forgot his lantern. Any other room they went to 


must have been visited afterwards. And so I was 
left alone, with my dead mistress in the next room, 
the rope cutting into my flesh, hardly able to breathe 
for the gag, and the blood trickling from a blow on 
the head which one of the fellows had given me. It 
was awful, Mr. Mayne, sir" Hicks passed a trem- 
bling hand over his brow "and the time seemed to 
crawl I could hear the stable clock, you know 
but at last I must have partly lost consciousness, for 
I remember nothing more until you gentlemen came." 

Dr. Murray arrived soon after the story was con- 
cluded, but all that remained for him to do was to 
verify the death of Mrs. Alderson and express his 
sympathy which he did in no measured terms. Mrs. 
Alderson was a woman whom all the county would 
mourn. Few had been so universally beloved as she. 

Owen played his part, both with the doctor, and, 
later on, with the police. There was no rest for him 
that night. But when at last he found time to go to 
his own room to change his clothes he gazed at his 
reflection in the glass, and wondered at what he saw 

For all the gay insouciance of the Owen Mayne of 
Paris days seemed to have passed away. To him- 
self he looked and felt an old man. His face was 
blanched and haggard, his eyes had lost their lustre. 
At the moment it seemed as if the mirror was reflect- 
ing his soul to him and his soul was ugly and foul 
and mean. 

"She is dead and the old will is still in force," he 
muttered. "Every penny is Lavender's nothing mine. 
And Lavender would give it to me, but, for that, I 
must " 

He smote his cheek heavily with his open palm. 
"Blackguard! blackguard!" he cried. "The devil is 
paying you the wages of your hire !" 


IT was the day after the funeral, as impressive a 
funeral as the county had ever witnessed. All the 
neighbourhood, rich and poor alike, had trooped to 
Selwood to pay the last tribute of respect to the good 
woman who had always placed the wants and the 
sufferings of others so far above her own. 

Among those present was Lord Martyn, who him- 
self had come from a house of mourning. For Stephen 
Aldis still lay dead at Chamney Castle, though his 
body was to be moved that night and conveyed in a 
special train to London, where the funeral would 
be held on the morrow. There had, of course, been 
an inquest, and the unanimous verdict of the jury was 
one of murder against the prisoner Bibi Coupe-vide. 
There were some in court who maintained that the 
Frenchman's appearance, his demeanour even his ab- 
surd name were enough to convict him, even if the 
evidence were not so strong. And yet he still had the 
face to deny his guilt ! 

The events at Chamney and Selwood had provided 
the county with inexhaustible themes of conversation 
and gossip. Lord Martyn's wonderful entertainment 
and its tragic ending, of course, took precedence. It 
was said even as Zelie had expected that the mur- 
der was really due to jealousy; that the Apache had 
seen the dancing girl in too intimate converse with 
the popular and handsome actor, and that he had 



avenged himself after the manner of his kind. This 
story was in contradiction to that officially put for- 
ward the tale that Lord Marty n himself had told 
at the inquest which maintained that Stephen Aldis 
had been incensed against the Frenchman because of 
certain letters details as to which were not consid- 
ered necessary to the case letters that the French- 
man had in his possession, and refused to surrender. 
It was suggested that hot words had passed, leading 
up to the final tragedy. Aldis had threatened so 
Lord Martyn testified to break the fellow's neck. 
Therein, no doubt, lay the provocation to the fatal 
blow. The fact that the murderer had removed the 
dead man's watch and other effects did not prove that 
robbery was the first temptation; it was assumed that 
Bibi's natural cupidity had come into force as soon as 
his victim was lying dead at his feet. 

The story told by Bibi himself, through an inter- 
preter, was a ridiculous one, so all who heard it agreed. 
He maintained that he had come upon the scene after 
the murder had been committed. He had found the 
body lying in the summer-house, and had bent over 
it to ascertain if the man were really dead. Finding 
that he was, Bibi had succumbed to the temptation 
of removing whatever valuables he might find in the 
pockets. It was while he was doing so that he had 
been interrupted by the appearance of Sir Donald 
Ransom and Lady Beatrice Clewer. 

Of course, this version of the affair was absurd. 
For what had taken Bibi Coupe-vide to the arbour, 
in the first instance, and who else was there who 
would have dreamed of doing so popular a man as 
Stephen Aldis to death? 

Someone who had broken in from without, so it 
was suggested on Bibi's behalf. The fence was dam- 


aged, and there were footmarks on the soft earth by 
the side of the path outside also, the grass had ob- 
viously been trodden down. But all this evidence was 
turned against the prisoner. It was shown that his 
coat bore green stains acquired from the fence, and 
his boot fitted exactly in the footprints. This all went 
to show that he had made deliberate efforts to avert 
suspicion from himself, and only served to blacken 
the case against him. 

Of course, Lord Martyn's house party had broken 
up on the day following the murder. Some sympa- 
thy was expressed for him, but there were many who 
shook their heads, and regarded him as the chief cause 
of the calamity. "The idea of having such a creature 
in the house!" declaimed outraged propriety, lifting 
horrified hands. "But, then, the man makes a point 
of offending the feelings of his neighbours." 

Owen was in a sullen frame of mind those days, and 
could not help his mental disturbance showing itself 
upon his face. He carped bitterly at fate for hav- 
ing played him so falsely. While other men regarded 
him as an object of envy the accepted lover of so 
beautiful and wealthy a girl as Lavender he him- 
self and for good reason regarded his position as 
utterly hateful and unendurable. He could not even 
temper it with that cynicism which had borne him 
through other troubles in the old Paris days. And, 
of all things, he hated most having to be with Lav- 
ender in her grief, having to comfort her, having to 
play the role of her lover. Every kiss, every embrace, 
was to him a torture devised by some devil for the 
racking of his nerves. He could always hear the 
mocking laugh of the imp perched upon his shoulder 
whenever Lavender leaned her head against his breast 
in her desire to find solace for her tears. 


Once she spoke of her inheritance. The substance 
of the will was already known, for Mr. Jerrold, the 
solicitor, had come, as was arranged, to Selwood 
Manor on the day following the burglary, only to 
find that no fresh disposition of the property was now 

"But it doesn't matter, dear, does it?" Lavender 
whispered. "You know that what is mine is yours, 
and when we are married you shall have the control 
of everything." 

"When we are married!" The biting irony of it! 
It must be another six months at least before mar- 
riage could be thought of, and in the meanwhile how 
was it possible even if he could bring himself to 
suggest it to get Lavender to transfer her fortune 
to him? She had placed her affairs in the hands of 
Mr. Jerrold, a kindly, white-haired old gentleman, who 
had acted for the Aldersons for the last twenty years, 
and he would naturally raise objections to a gift pure 
and simple, even of part of the estate, and would 
insist that any fresh arrangement should be by way 
of marriage settlement. 

He avoided Lavender as much as he could in those 
days that preceded the funeral, but this only threw 
him into the company of Robin, who irritated him 
beyond measure by his way of talking cheerily of the 
fortune, and his palpable avoidance of any subject that 
might suggest the name of Zelie. There were times 
when Owen, goaded to a pitch of exasperation, could 
have turned upon his friend and cursed him it was 
with difficulty that he held himself in check, and his 
bad temper was only too obvious. 

By the advice of the solicitor, Lavender had in- 
vited a relation of her own, a certain Mrs. Foxhall, 
a cousin of her mother's, to come to the Manor and 


fill the necessary role of chaperon. Mrs. Foxhall had 
duly arrived, happy, since she was a poor woman, at 
the good fortune which had thrown such a position 
in her way. She was a lady of comfortable propor- 
tions, who made a point of agreeing amiably with 
everything that everybody said. Owen hated her from 
the first, and she was obviously afraid of him. 

Upon the day following the funeral, in the course 
of the afternoon, Robin found Lavender alone in the 
garden, and there were tears in her eyes, which she 
did her best to wipe away when she saw him com- 
ing. A few minutes earlier he had espied Owen hur- 
rying across the lawn, walking with long strides, his 
head bent, and now, finding Lavender so tearful, Robin 
began to suspect that something must be wrong. 

But she would not take him into her confidence at 
first. She tried to talk of ordinary topics, but the 
effort was a pitiful one. Robin thought how sad she 
looked, and yet how inexpressibly pure and lovely, in 
her black gown. What a contrast to Zelie, who af- 
fected black for choice! Robin figured them both 
as "night," and in his mind's eye he saw the French 
girl as the representation of some horrible and terri- 
fying dream; while Lavender, she was night at its 
holiest, soft and dewy and kind the night that gives 
rest and content to tired eyes. 

"There is something troubling you, Miss Percivale," 
he blurted out at last, "something fresh. I know I 
have no right to question you, but but I can't bear 
to see you looking so sad." 

"How can I help it?" she said. "Mr. Clithero, I 
miss her more and more every day." 

Robin regarded her, reading, as he had the power 
to do, into the depths of her soul. "I know how you 
sorrow for your loss," he said. "I know what Mrs. 


Alderson was to you, and you to her. But it was 
not of her that you were thinking just now, Miss 

"Why do you say that?" She looked up with faint 
astonishment. She had never considered Robin Cli- 
thero in any other light than the friend of Owen 
an excellent fellow, kind-hearted and loyal. "How 
do you know?" she added, with a faint blush that 
clearly indicated his surmise correct. 

"Because" he paused and hesitated "because your 
eyes betray you, Miss Percivale." He would have 
liked to tell her how he had studied those eyes of 
hers, that he knew every shade of feeling they could 
express, but he dared not speak so freely. What right 
had he to do so ? 

"You were thinking of Owen," he said simply. 

"Yes." Here resistance broke down. "Oh! Mr. 
Clithero, you know him so well you are a friend of 
his perhaps you can tell me explain to me." She 
clasped her hands together. "Owen hasn't been the 
same to me ever since dear mother died I'm not sure 
that it wasn't earlier ever since we went to Cham- 
ney. I don't know what it is, for he is always very 
gentle, very kind but I feel it here." She pressed 
her hands to her bosom. "I can't help thinking that 
there is something on his mind that he doesn't" she 
hesitated, and then brought the words out with a rush 
"that he doesn't love me!" 

"Oh! but, Miss Percivale!" began Robin protest- 

"I mean utterly, and without reservation," the girl 
interrupted. "I don't think he loves me as I love 
him. I've always had that fear. Once, before we 
were actually engaged, he looked at me pitifully, and 
said under his breath, 'You poor little girl!' I never 


knew why he said that. I told mother, and she thought 
it was because he was sorry for the for my family 
troubles. But I don't know I don't know." The girl 
shook her head ominously. 

"I'm sure he loves you," declared Robin stoutly. 
"He couldn't help himself." Yet Robin spoke with 
greater assurance than he felt. He, too, had noticed 
the change in Owen's manner, and ascribed it to its 
true cause. He cursed his friend under his breath. 
What was he about, to bring tears to such eyes as 
those of Lavender ? That vampire, that snake-woman, 
Zelie it was she who was to blame. 

"If he loves me," said Lavender slowly, "why does 
he want to leave me at such a time when I need 
him most?" 

"To leave?" faltered Robin. He thought he had 
not heard aright 

"Yes to leave me," repeated Lavender. "He has 
just told me that he must go to London, and he will 
not say for how long. He was so strange in his man- 
ner, too I'm sure he was keeping something from 
me. Oh ! Mr. Qithero ! you don't think he is ill, and 
doesn't like to let me know?" 

"Ill go and see Owen have a talk with him," said 
Robin, frowning, and altogether ignoring the last ques- 
tion. "I'll go at once." 

He paused only to arrange the cushions behind Lav- 
ender's head. She was seated in a low chair under a 
great cedar tree, and had a book by her side. 

"You can go on reading," he commanded, "and don't 

She pretended to do as he bade her as long as he 
was in sight, but as soon as he had disappeared the 
book fell to the ground again, and Lavender sat gaz- 
ing into a mist of sad memories and future fears. 


Robin did not find Owen all at once. He searched 
the house before he thought of looking in Owen's bed- 
room, and it was there he found him, surrounded by 
his portmanteaux and other luggage, which he was 
feverishly engaged in packing. 

Rarely had Robin felt so angry with his friend. 
He could not keep his annoyance from his voice, and 
spoke abruptly and with a sternness quite unusual 
to him. 

"Owen, what does this mean?" 

Owen appeared absorbed in his task. At last, when 
Robin repeated his question, he glanced up. 

"Oh! it's you, is it? What do you want?" 

"I want to know what you are doing." 

"Owen resumed his work. "You can Me for your- 
self packing." 

"You are going away?* 



"To-day this evening the sooner the better,** 

"Owen, you are mad!" Robin advanced into the 
room. For the moment he almost believed that what 
he said was true, so wild a light shone in his friend's 
eyes. "Surely you must know that your duty is here?" 
he added sharply. 

"Duty !" The other rose to his feet He had been 
bending over a half-packed portmanteau. "You are 
always prating of duty, damn you! I'm sick to death 
of it Can't you leave me to manage my own affairs?" 

"No!" replied Robin, with heat. "Not when I see 
that you're making someone miserable someone whom 
you have sworn to love and cherish." With some 
difficulty he modulated his voice. "Good Heavens, 
man! what do you want to go away for just now, 
when Lavender is sad, and wants the comfort of your 


presence? I found her not half an hour ago in 
tears !" 

"I can't help it." Owen kicked the hasp of a dress- 
ing-case savagely. "Lavender has got to cry. The 
sooner she gets the tears over, the better. You'd bet- 
ter stay and dry her eyes." 

"What do you mean?" Suddenly Robin's voice 
had become steady and even. His calm was ominous. 

"I mean just this." Owen brushed back a lock of 
his dark hair that was hanging over his brow. He 
was in a reckless, desperate mood, and did not care 
what he said. "Things have gone wrong. It's no use 
my staying here. I can't keep up the farce any longer. 
My nerves are all on edge." 

"Since you met Zelie ?" 

Owen nodded. "Yes since I met Zelie. You'd 
better know the truth. I'm going to London to find 

"You propose to abandon Lavender to whom you 
have pledged your word for that hell-cat? You will 
throw over an assured future wealth and position? 
There's no doubt of it you are mad!" 

Owen broke into a fierce laugh. At that moment 
it was as if the devil himself had taken possession of 
him. He wanted to hurt others as he himself was 
hurt. Let the worst be known. 

"Is a man mad because he wants to claim his wife ?" 

"His wife!" Robin staggered as if he had been 
struck. He lifted his hand to his brow. "His wife !" 
he repeated vaguely. 

"That's what I said. Zelie is my wife. I married 
her in Paris, soon after we first met. You can verify 
the fact for yourself." 

"My God! then Lavender?" 

"I have cheated Lavender cheated you cheated 


everyone. I wanted my aunt's fortune, and played 
for it. You know the plot. I've lost the game because 
she died before a new will was made. Lavender has 
it all, and I can't marry Lavender because I have a 
wife Zelie. Besides, I wouldn't if I could, for there's 
no other woman in the world for me but the one who 
is mine by every right." 

"You blackguard! You vile, cruel devil! But it 
isn't true! It can't be true!" Robin was trembling 
in every limb. 

"It's true I swear it!" Owen laughed again, 
laughed provokingly. He felt as if hot irons were 
searing his heart, and he could find no other relief for 
his pain but in a laugh. 

Robin lost all control of himself. He saw in con- 
fused vision the sweet, pathetic face of Lavender 
her humid eyes, her lips that trembled as they made 
their plaintive appeal. How she would suffer! It 
.was as if a dagger had actually been thrust into her 
bosom. And the murderer stood there and laughed 
as he confessed his crime ! 

He must silence that laugh, choke it to extinction 
with his strong fingers. At that moment it was Owen's 
laugh that dominated everything. With a hoarse cry 
of rage Robin sprang over the portmanteau that in- 
tervened between Owen and himself, and before Owen 
realised his danger he was seized by the throat, shaken, 
and at last, as his cheeks assumed the hue of suffoca- 
tion, thrown violently to the ground. 

He lay there, panting and gasping. Robin stood 
over him, his long arms outstretched, his breast heav- 
ing. He was only just beginning to realise what he 
had done. 

Presently he fell on his knees beside the prostrate 


man. "My God, Owen!" he cried. "I might have 
killed you!" 

"I wish you had," said Owen feebly. "It would 
have been the best thing for me. The end of it all 
the end." He dragged himself up to a sitting posi- 
tion by the aid of the leather side of the portmanteau, 
against which he had fallen. 

"And you saved my life once !" groaned Robin, "and 
I've looked up to you, admired you, set you on a 
pedestal ! And now Heaven preserve us ! why did 
you do this thing?" 

"It's as well you should know me in my true col- 
ours, "_said Owen, fingering his throat. "I don't bear 
you any grudge for knocking me about, Rob. I de- 
serve it. If you'd killed me it would have been what 
I merit. I am a blackguard. But that admission 
doesn't help things. You see I've got to go. I can't 
atone to Lavender, but the sooner she forgets me 
the better. I'll write from London and break my 
engagement. It's all I can do. I'm going away a 
penniless man that is some punishment upon me ; and 
I despise myself which is a greater penalty still." 

"And I what shall I do?" Robin spread out his 
hands helplessly. 

"You?" Owen scrambled to his feet. "Stay here 
and comfort Lavender. She will need you. You love 
her I'm quite aware of that fact." The eyes of the 
two men met. "Perhaps some day she will forget 
me and turn to you. Anyway, I wish it may be so. 
For myself, I am going out of her life. I am return- 
ing to my destiny to Zelie if she will have me." 

He muttered the last words to himself. 


IT was the month of July, and the London season was 
on the wane a particularly brilliant season, altogether 
unmarred by the threatening aspect of the political 
horizon. It was a long while since there had been 
such a succession of brilliant entertainments, parties 
and balls, such an array of handsome debutantes, so 
lavish a display of social extravagance. 

And, of course, the inevitable touch of the bizarre, 
the unorthodox, had not been wanting. On this oc- 
casion it was supplied by Zelie, Queen of the Apaches, 
the dancing girl of Montmartre, who had appeared 
in London like a meteor and had straightway become 
. a centre of attraction to all classes alike. She made 
her first formal bow to the British public from the 
vast stage of the Star Theatre, soon after the tragedy 
at Chamney Castle, with which her name had indi- 
rectly been associated, owing to her admitted connec- 
tion with the man who was charged with the murder, 
and never before in the history of the stage had so 
enthusiastic and remarkable a reception been recorded. 
For it was as if Zelie had the power of hypnotising 
her audiences by some remarkable force inherent to 
her personality. Calm judgment was suspended when 
she danced; criticism went by the wind. Press and 
public declared that she was wonderful, that her per- 
formance was a triumph of art, and there were few 
who ventured to hint at a contrary opinion. This, 
though Zelie herself, with typical frankness, made 



mock of her admirers, and habitually addressed them 
with her tongue in her cheek. A great measure of 
her success was due to this attitude a fact which 
Zelie was quick enough to recognise and to make the 
most of. 

Her photographs filled the shop windows, she was 
interviewed and bepuffed, the illustrated papers in- 
dulged in supposed biographies of her life, biogra- 
phies which made Zelie hold her sides with laughter 
when she had them translated to her. There was one 
that even went so far as to find her a pedigree, and 
to talk about the quiet home of her childhood with 
deeply devoted parents, in some Paris suburb. 

She became the "rage." Her dancing was described 
as "a fine moral lesson." There were clerical digni- 
taries who preached sermons to this effect. Some few 
took the opposite side, and discussion arose heated 
argument all wholly beneficial to the notoriety of 
the dancer and to the exchequer of the Star Theatre. 

And this was just what Lord Martyn had antici- 
pated, prophesied, played for. It was precisely in 
this way that he had designed to mock the world. He 
had called the tune of malice aforethought, knowing 
that the foolish rabble would rush and jostle to play 
the part which he had assigned to it. He had done 
this because he despised mankind, because he had a 
grudge against his fellow creatures, because he wanted 
to laugh at them in his heart, to bring them to scorn 
and derision. It was a rare joke that he had prom- 
ised himself, a joke at the world's expense. 

And here was the irony of it, for his joke had been 
turned against himself. All had happened as he had 
foreseen, but he could derive no mirth from the suc- 
cess of his scheming. Like Frankenstein, he had cre- 
ated his monster, and his strength was not equal to 


its suppression. For his own amusement he had given 
Zelie to the world, promising himself a fine feast of 
ridicule, and now the jest had lost its savour. He 
could find no food for laughter. 

He had foreseen the danger when it was too late. 
The allegory of the panther, freed from its cage, by 
which he had represented his action to himself, had 
proved itself all too quickly no vain imagining. One 
of his dearest friends had already succumbed to the 
claws of the beast, and there were worse things in 
store. It was of these that Lord Martyn was think- 
ing that July afternoon as he restlessly paraded the 
floor of his study, pausing occasionally to gaze, with- 
out seeing, from his window upon the dusty trees 
and parched grass of a London square for he had 
been residing in town ever since the tragedy at 

He did not blame Zelie; he had no reason to sus- 
pect that she was in any way at fault for what had 
happened that fatal night. It was not even her fas- 
cination which had been the cause of Stephen Aldis's 
death or so Martyn believed though the opinion 
generally held in London was that the fatal blow had 
been struck for reasons of jealousy this in spite of 
the evidence at the police-court proceedings, which 
made the incriminating letters, the attempted black- 
mail, responsible for everything. London had taken 
far more interest in Zelie because of her supposed 
connection with a "crime of passion." It was a repe- 
tition, on a more exalted scale, of what had happened 
in Paris when a music-hall engagement had followed 
that drama of the gutter when some half-dozen rough 
fellows had fought and bled for her the Queen of 
the Apaches. 

But while not blaming, Lord Martyn would willingly 


have undone what he had done. Zelie was a danger, 
whatever her actual intentions might be. Could not 
the panther be lured back into its cage or, at any 
rate, be removed from a spot where its presence was 
to be feared? Even in those days, now the best part 
of three months ago, Marty n vaguely foresaw where 
the next blow would fall, and he was ready to pay 
any sum, to run any personal risk, to avert so ghastly 
a happening. 

And so, a day or two after the funeral of Stephen 
Aldis, he approached Zelie, who was then staying with 
Mme. de Freyne, pending the completion of other ar- 
rangements, and suggested that a return to her native 
land might be desirable, considering the scandal that 
would be stirred up at the forthcoming trial of Bibi 
Coupe-vide. He knew all the time that his arguments 
were not likely to have weight. 

"You see, your name can't be kept out of it, Zelie," 
he said, "because it was at your invitation the fellow 
stayed at the castle that night. It will do you no good 
to be connected in the public mind with such a cut- 
throat scoundrel." 

Zelie lifted her long, velvety lashes and regarded 
him lazily. "Do you mean that, mon ami?" 

"I do," he lied, for his argument was contrary to 
all his theories. 

"Ah ! but I think you are wrong. The good public 
is curious. There has been much written about me 
in your newspapers already. I have been given most 
excellent advertisement." She nodded her small head 
sapiently. "They will want to see Zelie of Montmartre 
with their own eyes. Wait but a little, Milor Harry. 
It will all fall out as you have said. I shall have un 
succcs fou, a wild success do not fear for that." 

It transpired after this that all Zelie's arrangements 


for appearing at the Star Theatre had practically been 
made. Mr. Radcliffe, the manager, was not the man 
to allow the grass to grow under his feet, and he 
had recognised that the dancer had already gained 
a certain notoriety. Much had been said and writ- 
ten about the remarkable entertainment at Chamney 
Castle, and the part which Zelie had played in it. Her 
skill at her particular art the word was already freely 
used had been commented upon. She was a novelty 
for the theatre by no means to be lost sight of. 

Lord Martyn attempted other arguments, including 
a liberal offer of money, but they all proved equally 
inefficacious. Zelie's mind was made up. She meant 
to pursue her stage career and to fulfil the predictions 
of her success. Martyn was silenced there was noth- 
ing more to be said. The stone that he had set rolling 
could not be stayed, even though an avalanche should 
follow in its track. 

He had a faint hope that society might not take 
up the dancer, after all, in spite of the plans he had 
made to facilitate such a result. But here, again, he 
had laid his ground too carefully; every seed that 
he had planted came to fruition. The Duchess of 
Shiplake, for instance, regarded him with eyes of as- 
tonishment when he ventured to suggest that Zelie 
was better suited for the music-hall stage than for a 
society leader's drawing-room. 

So Zelie danced at the Duchess of Shiplake's "At 
Home," and after that she practically went every- 
where. Even royalty smiled upon her graciously. 

She accommodated herself marvellously to this new 
and difficult environment. She was never awkward 
or self-conscious. She had natural grace of bearing, 
and she quickly learned to avoid anything in speech 
or gesture that might offend. She learnt a little Eng- 


lish, which she would talk with a delightful lisp. SHe 
knew exactly how to dress to the best advantage, and 
the fashion which she set in this regard a gown 
which, however rich it might be, still gave some subtle 
suggestion of Montmartre was freely copied by those 
who fancied that their figures permitted it to say 
nothing of those who, without figures to boast of, 
slavishly imitated what they believed to be "the thing." 
Had Lord Martyn been in the mood to appreciate 
it, he would have recognised in this a laughable phase 
of his practical joke upon society. 

Eve de Freyne had proved an excellent mistress. 
Zelie owed much of her success to the journalist. They 
continued to live together, this partly because Eva 
had, like so many others of both sexes, yielded to the 
strange fascination of the dancer, and partly because 
Lord Martyn had requested that it might be so. He 
imagined that the older woman would have a restrain- 
ing and beneficial influence, and in a measure this 
was the case, but, unfortunately, her profession often 
called Mme. Eve away from home. 

Besides, Zelie was the very last person upon earth 
to be restrained by anyone. She went her own way, 
and this was a way that was solely of self-interest. 
She had no love, no emotions, no feelings, save for 
herself and her own advancement. Mme. Eve often 
wondered at the cold, calculating cruelty of her ideas, 
but knew human nature well enough to understand 
that these were merely primitive instincts, and that, 
however thickly the veneer might be painted on, be- 
neath it all Zelie remained the savage that she was 
born naked and unashamed soulless. 

Of course, admirers swarmed to do her homage. 
She smiled on all in general. She took all she could 
get from them, and gave nothing in return. In 


that respect no stone could be cast at her. She was 
like a siren who draws men to her snare, and then, 
before their arms can enfold her, allows them to be 
swallowed up in the morass over which she has hov- 
ered. Zelie had learnt the lesson of Owen Mayne's 
picture, "The Chamois Hunter," learnt it thoroughly 
and well. 

She had not been before the public six weeks be- 
fore the panther claimed its second victim. Young 
Lord Nettleton shot himself, leaving a note in which 
he declared that he had committed the mad act for 
love of Zelie that he had been ready to marry her, 
if that was the only way by which he could win her 
but she had steadily refused to grant him any favour 
whatever. He could not live without her, and so 
the end. 

Of course, he had been drinking hard, and going 
the pace absurdly a young fool. Zelie was not to 
blame, so everyone agreed. On the contrary, it was 
admitted that by refusing to marry the heir to an old 
title she had acted well and honourably, and was 
worthy of praise. The poor boy's suicide had no effect 
but to add to her reputation and popularity. 

And latterly, as Lord Martyn knew well, there had 
been a constant visitor at the house in Knightsbridge 
whose attentions should have been bestowed elsewhere. 
What had Sir Donald Ransom to do with Zelie of 
Montmartre ? Sir Donald, whose engagement to Lady 
Beatrice had long ago been announced, and who would 
have been married to her by now had it not been for 
an unfortunate family bereavement. The wedding, in 
consequence, had been postponed till the autumn. 

It was this the intimacy which had sprung up 
between Sir Donald and Zelie which was troubling 
Lord Martyn so much that afternoon. Also, the trial 


of Bibi Coupe-vide was in progress he had been com- 
mitted from the police court upon the capital charge 
and there was always the fear that the name of the 
writer of the letters, which Bibi was proved to have 
used for blackmailing purposes, might be revealed. 
Lord Martyn had moved heaven and earth to prevent 
this, and, so far, with success. But one could never 
say what might not be brought out under cross-exam- 
ination. And there remained two letters still unac- 
counted for those the absence of which had thrown 
Aldis into such a passion that he had paved the way 
for his tragic death. 

The whole situation was destructive to peace of 
mind, and it was not to be wondered at that Lord 
Martyn should pace up and down the room restlessly, 
inwardly cursing his own impotence; he who had al- 
ways considered himself a strong man, careless of 
the world, regarding it much as a theatre with pup- 
pets that he could force to move for his edification 
and amusement, now found himself caught in the toils, 
himself a puppet, dangled at the end of the string of 

"That she should be threatened she !" he muttered 
over and over again. "And it has all been my own 
doing. I have cut a stick for my own back, indeed, 
sharpened the knife that will shed my heart's blood. 
And it is through others that the blow will be struck 
that is the horror of it they must suffer she must 
suffer because I imagined that I could play with 
the lives of men." 

He clenched his fists, and threw himself down into 
an easy chair, then he picked up a paper that lay 
beside it, and read over again the account of that 
morning's proceedings in court. He had given his 
evidence the day before, and his presence was no 


longer necessary. It was a Friday, and the trial would 
certainly be adjourned till the following week. Bibi 
still strongly maintained his innocence, but no one 
doubted what the result of the case would be. 

Lord Martyn was deep in his paper when the door 
of the study was pushed open and his name was gently 
called from the threshold. He looked up sharply, then 
he sprang to his feet with an exclamation of surprise. 


It was Lady Beatrice Clewer who stood there. She 
wore a smart afternoon frock, a tightly fitting gown 
that seemed to be moulded to her exquisite figure, 
and her large hat, with its overhanging brim, threw 
her face into shadow. But Martyn could see at once 
how pale she was, how troubled. There were little 
lines about her lips, and her lashes drooped over 
the eyes that were usually so clear and frank and 

"Beatrice, what is the matter ?" He took her hands 
in his, felt that they were cold despite the heat of the 
July day. Then he led her into the room, first closing 
the door, and made her sit down in the chair which he 
had just vacated. 

"I had to come to you, Uncle Harry," she mur- 
mured. She was sitting erect, and dragging nervously 
at her left-hand glove. "They told me you were in 
the study, and I wouldn't let them announce me. I 
came straight up." 

"Yes?" he questioned. "Is anything wrong, Bea- 
trice? But I can see there is. Oh, you poor white 
child !" There was infinite tenderness in his voice. 

She had drawn off her glove by now, and she held 
out her slim hand straight before her. The gesture 
was pathetic, and Lord Martyn realised at once its 
significance, for Lady Beatrice's engagement ring, the 


hoop of brilliants that Sir Donald had presented to 
her, no longer had place upon her finger. 

"I have taken it off," she sighed. "He wouldn't 
have it back but I've taken it off." Her fingers 
drooped. "Even they look wretched, don't they?" she 
said, with a queer little laugh. "Thin and hungry and 
sad, as if they felt that there was something missing." 

"Tell me why, Beatrice." Lord Martyn drew up a 
high-backed chair and seated himself heavily. He 
seemed to have aged all of a sudden. Looking at 
him now, Beatrice wondered, despite her grief for 
herself, that she had never before noticed the wrinkles 
that criss-crossed on his brow. 

She was very fond of Uncle Harry, as she always 
called him. He had been good to her ever since she 
was a mite of a child he had spoilt her almost by 
the number of presents he showered upon her in those 
days. And later, when she was a little bigger, he 
had always been ready to devote his time to her, unless 
he happened to be far away at the other end of the 
world on one of his wandering expeditions; and, if 
he were, she was quite sure that he would come back 
if she should summon him. 

There was little sympathy between her stepmother 
and herself. They had no interests in common. Be- 
sides, the Countess of Albyn was of too frivolous a 
disposition to like the role of chaperon; she had been 
only too glad to welcome Sir Donald as a deliverer 
from an irksome charge. It was not to her step- 
mother that Beatrice hurried for comfort it was to 
her "Uncle" Harry. 

"Tell me, dear," he said gently, taking her cold 
hand in his, "is it what we feared?" 

It had been impossible to keep her in ignorance of 
the misuse of her letters to Stephen Aldis. The revela- 


tion might have been made in court, and she had to be 
prepared. The poor girl trembled under the blow, 
for she had imagined the whole silly business long 
ago dead and forgotten. The letters had been written 
when she was little more than a child almost as a 
joke she and a school friend had plotted it together. 

She would have made full confession to her fiance, 
but Lady Albyn begged her not to. "There's every 
chance that your name is never mentioned," her lady- 
ship urged, "so why give yourself away? Do you 
want to appear a silly little goose in Donald's eyes? 
Besides, there's no knowing he might take it badly." 

So Beatrice had been silent, and now she regretted 
her silence. 

"Yes," she answered, with a weary little nod of her 
head, "it's that mainly. Oh ! it's not been mentioned 
in court, and Sir Laurence says it won't be. But the 
two other letters, Uncle Harry the missing ones, you 
know they were brought to Donald. He had to buy 
them, or else or else " 

She broke off with a sob, and hid her head against 
the man's shoulder. She could not see how his face 
was working, how deeply moved he was. 

"Or else they would have been published," she fal- 
tered. "That was the threat. I believe Donald paid 
the man what he asked, and then thrashed him well." 
There was a touch of pride in her tone. "He was 
angry oh ! very, very angry this happened last night 
it wasn't so much because I had written the letters, 
but because I had never told him about it. And then 
I got angry, too, Uncle Harry I I've got reason 
to and I said foolish things you know about whom. 
He went very white, and asked if I didn't trust him. 
I don't know how I answered, but but it appears that 
he didn't mean to come and stay with us at Henley 

as he had arranged, you know he has decided to go to 
America after the Cowes week she is going to Amer- 
ica, so that's why. I begged him not to go if he loved 
me, but he would not give way you see he was angry, 
so I took off my ring and asked him to take it back. 
He took it, Uncle Harry, and flung out of the house, 
but to-day he came back and wanted to put it on my 
finger again." She paused and made little dabs at 
her eyes with a tiny lace pocket handkerchief rolled up 
into a ball. 

"And you did not allow him to ? Why, Beatrice ?" 
"Because he would not give up going to America," 
she answered, with some defiance. "Oh! I know 
I know how he has been running after that creature 
that Zelie who is more like a venomous snake than 
a woman. He makes a pretence of business, but it 
is only to follow her. She has caught him in her 
snare, just as she caught that poor, unhappy Nettleton 
boy. And she will only throw him over when she 
has broken him. She is a worker of evil. She has 
no soul !" 

"That is true, and perhaps it is Donald's safeguard," 
replied Lord Martyn, tugging at his beard with his 
disengaged hand. "She has no love to bestow upon 
any but herself. He is a strong man, and he will 
wrestle with her if it is true that she has really at- 
tracted him from you. But I tell you, Beatrice, child, 
that Zelie, in her way, is stronger than he, and he 
will not get the better of her. Then he will tire. He 
will recognise his folly. He loves you really. I'd 
take my oath to that and this affair with Zelie is 
only a mad infatuation. She is a witch, and seems 
to mesmerise men they are not exactly responsible. 
That's how it is with Donald." 


"What would you have me do, uncle?" Beatrice 
asked, lifting a plaintive face. 

"Be patient," he replied. "Don't be too hard upon 
him. He will come back to you. There is only one 
fear, and that" he waved his large, strong hand, as 
if to brush the thought away "that is no more than 
a shadow." 

"What is it?" asked Beatrice anxiously. 

"You said just now that Zelie has no soul," he said 
slowly. "It is true. But woebetide the man Don- 
ald, or another who should wake the soul within her. 
And woebetide Zelie herself for there is no room 
in her breast for a new-born soul !" 

A silence fell. Lady Beatrice was twisting one of 
the buttons of her chair round and round, uncon- 
sciously loosening it. Suddenly it broke off with a snap. 

"He wasn't really so very angry with me about 
the letters," she confessed. "I think I'm sure he 
understood. It was I who was jealous. I who made 
the scene. But I love him so I love him so and I 
can't share his love with another! Oh! if he would 
only not go to America if he were freed from this 
horrible infatuation ! For if he didn't see her so often 
he would forget; he would understand that a pure 
love is the best. I should soon win him back if I had 
him all to myself." 

She was rocking herself to and fro, her hands 
clasped about her knees. "Uncle Harry," she mur- 
mured, "if I lose Donald, lose him really, I shan't want 
to live any more ! It would kill me !" 

She spoke with a strange intensity. She was hold- 
ing herself rigidly, but after a moment her muscles 
seemed to relax, and she fell back upon the arm which 
he had stretched out to support her, like a frail blos- 
som chilled by an untimely frost. 


"It would kill me !" she repeated. 

"Donald shall come back to you," Lord Martyn 
asserted boldly. "Be of good cheer, Beattie, child. 
He loves you with all that is good in him and there 
is far more good in him than bad. Yes, I'll answer 
for it. He shall be at your knees, asking forgiveness, 
before the month is out." 

He stood up, and lifted his clenched fists high above 
his head. It was as though he were taking an oath. 

"As there is a God in Heaven," he exclaimed pas- 
sionately, "Zelie shall not stand between you and the 
man you love ! I will sweep her from your path yes 
I I ! For I know what I have to do, and it is not 
yet too late !" 


EVE DE FREYNE was absent from London on the busi- 
ness of the paper for which she worked, and for 
the last week Zelie had had the little house in Knights- 
bridge to herself. On the whole, she rather preferred 
this, though the presence of her friend did not in the 
smallest degree interfere with her independence. 

She had been summoned as a witness at the trial of 
Bibi Coupe-vide, and her appearance in the box had 
caused all the sensation she could have wished. The 
court, of course, was crowded, and she had skilfully 
played to the gallery on her own behalf. She under- 
stood that all the sordid details that might be dragged 
into the light of day her relations with Bibi, for in- 
stance must either damage her materially or add to 
the notoriety which she had already gained a great 
deal depended upon her own behaviour. She passed 
triumphantly through the ordeal. 

Bibi had not given her away. He had revealed no 
word of the plot against Owen Mayne into which she 
had dragged him. Probably he realised that even 
should this be proved it would not help him at all, he 
who had apparently been caught red-handed. On the 
contrary, it might have told against him, as proof of 
the lightness in which he held human life. For Zelie 
knew the character of the .man well enough to be quite 
sure that he would not hesitate to betray her if thereby 
he should be the gainer. 

There was another reason, too, why he held his 


tongue. Zelie had once contrived to see him while 
in prison, and had exercised her blandishments over 
him to her own advantage. He was always her Bibi 
adore, and she was working to make money for his 
sake, and one day when he was free once more they 
would return to Paris, and the good time would begin 
for them both. 

Bibi protested his innocence of the crime even to 
her. She professed to believe him, though she had 
no doubt whatever that it was he who had struck the 
blow by mistake. But since he was innocent he 
would be acquitted, she maintained, and then all would 
be well. So she left Bibi buoyed up with hope, and 
in blissful ignorance of the desperation of hi? plight. 

For herself, she did not care one way or the other 
whether he was acquitted or condemned, so long as 
he did not compromise her. Perhaps of the two she 
would have preferred him hanged it would save her 
trouble in future. 

The defence sought to disprove that there had been 
any quarrel between the two men with regard to the 
incriminating letters, also that Bibi had manifested 
any jealousy of Stephen Aldis. It was concerning 
these matters that Zelie was questioned. Her answers 
were non-committal, and of very little service to the 
prisoner, who sat in the dock, gazing at her with hun- 
gry eyes, firmly believing, in his stupidity and igno- 
rance, that when Zelie had spoken there would be an 
end to the whole matter. 

Zelie was as much as home in the witness-box as 
in the theatre. The court was thronged with fash- 
ionably dressed men and women, and she was the 
centre of attraction. The wretched prisoner was over- 
looked altogether. 

Yes, it was at her invitation that Bibi Coupe-vide 


had spent that night at Chamney Castle. She desired 
his presence in order that her dancing should be the 
greater success. They had danced together in Paris, 
and the public had approved. She had no knowledge 
as to the reason of his appearance at Chamney in the 
first instance he had certainly not followed her. She 
did not even know that he was in England. She spoke 
of Bibi as if he had never been anything to her but 
a companion of the footlights one in whom her only 
interest was that of a somewhat disdainful compas- 
sion. No direct question about her relations with the 
prisoner was put to her had it been she would doubt- 
less have lied. 

She returned home that afternoon unruffled by her 
experiences in court, pleased, if anything, by the sensa- 
tion she had caused, and by the prospect of seeing 
her portrait in the illustrated papers on the following 
morning. The servant told her that a gentleman wished 
to see her, and was waiting in the drawing-room. 

"What name did he give?" she asked carelessly. 
The maid was a new one, and not yet accustomed 
to her ways. Zelie was not at home to every chance 

"He would not give his name," answered the girl. 
"He said that madam would see him, and that he 
would wait." 

ZelFe frowned, and passed on. She would scold the 
maid another time. Visitors must not be admitted in 
this haphazard fashion. Doubtless, however, it was 
a friend who wished to" give her a pleasant surprise. 
She rather expected a call from a certain new admirer 
with whom she had supped the other night. 

She entered the drawing-room, and found herself 
confronted by Owen Mayne. Immediately she lost her 


"You!" she exclaimed angrily, "you! Have I not 
forbidden you to come to my house? That girl is a 
fool to have admitted you ! I shall send her packing !" 

"Zelie!" He stood quite still in the middle of the 
room. He appeared a broken man. His face was thin 
and sallow, his eye sunken and hungry. His clothes 
well cut, as always were dusty and uncared for. 
He had quite lost the smart appearance that had been 
wont to characterise him. "Zelie I couldn't keep 
away. My God! I've tried since you were so cruel 
to me that day. I vowed that you were not a woman, 
but a devil in woman's flesh. But you are my wife, 
you know my wife !" 

"Cruel to you?" she retorted. "What did you ex- 
pect? After telling me a host of pretty stories about 
the fortune that was bound to be yours, you come 
to me without a penny in your pocket, almost without 
a coat to your back. Yes, things had gone wrong, 
you said, and the little plaster saint was going to 
have every penny of the money, after all. But we 
could be happy all the same you and I because we 
loved!" Her tone was charged with infinite scorn. 
"So would I come away with you at once, and we 
would share a garret somewhere, and you would paint, 
while I mon Dieu! I might twiddle my thumbs! 
For I must leave the stage that was part of the pro- 
gramme. Monsieur was jealous ! Monsieur must have 
me all to himself in the garret, with nothing a year 
to live upon !" 

She sank into a chair, tapping the floor viciously 
with the heel of her little boot, and laughing a laugh 
that was like the threatening snarl of a wild beast. 

The man drew himself up wearily. He had the ap- 
pearance of one who had suffered much. 


"I was a fool," he said in low, intense tones. "I 
admit it. But but I thought you cared, Zelie. That 
was my folly to think that you had one spark of 
humanity in you and that it was for me. I loved you 
because of your very dissimilarity to the rest of the 
world because you are like a creature fashioned out 
of the mists of time without heart, or warm blood, 
or soul a siren, a witch I loved you for all this, and 
flattered myself that I, too with you could be out- 
side the world. Those weeks I spent at Selwood 
Manor were a torture to me, and I only lived in the 
thought that one day you and I would be reunited. I 
degraded myself played the blackguard's part but it 
was for your sake, so I didn't care. And then, when 
things went wrong, I could stand it no more. I might 
have kept up the farce have found some other way 
of carrying the cheat to completion have lowered my- 
self still more. But I couldn't do it. I hungered and 
thirsted for your kisses. I saw your red, alluring lips 
by day and night. They called me. I threw up every- 
thing and answered the call." 

"You'd better have stayed and married your pink 
and white doll," retorted Zelie, removing one by one 
the pins from her hat with nonchalant fingers. "I 
told you I'd never have interfered with you, husband 
and wife though we may be. I advised you to go back 
to her. I thought you had. Why didn't you?" 

Owen shuddered. "Zelie I love you! You are 
mine, before God and the world! As for Lavender 
Percivale may her lips never again be defiled by 
kisses of mine. I left you that day when I realised 
that you wanted none of me in a passion of rage and 
despair. I tried to forget. I couldn't. I have been 
trying to forget through all these weeks. I cannot. 
I have been in hell. I can't tell you how I have lived. 


I hardly know myself. I have starved because I had 
no appetite for food. I have drunk myself besotted 
night after night, but it has not brought forgetfulness. 
I have taken drugs, but my dreams oh! God! My 
dreams !" 

He shivered, and pressed his elbows against his 
chest. "Look at me!" he said. "It is to this I have 
come because I love you !" 

Zelie had taken off her hat by now, and she laid it 
down on a sofa close beside her. She still held the 
long, sharp pins in one hand, allowing them to roll to 
and fro between her palm and her fingers. 

She threw a disdainful glance at Owen and shrugged 
her shoulders. "I cannot help it," she said, "if you 
are a fool. Either you should have kept your promise 
to me, and come with money in your pocket, or you 
should have kept away. For myself, I would sooner 
the^ latter. I do not need you." 

"But I need you," he interrupted, and there were 
strange fires that burned in his hollow eyes. "Zelie, 
that is what I have come to tell you. I cannot live 
without you. I won't go back to my hell alone ! You 
are my wife " 

Zelie had sprung to her feet. She was quivering 
with rage. "You dare to threaten me?" she cried. 
She pointed imperiously to the door. "Begone!" she 
commanded. "Out of my sight at once ! I hate you 
I hate you!" 

The pins fell clattering from her hand to the floor, 
all save one, the longest and sharpest. She threatened 
him with it. 

"Go !" she panted. Then she broke forth into a flood 
of low Montmartre expletives, words such as had not 
passed her lips for months. She stood there, a fury, 


defiant, uncontrolled. Her breast was heaving, her 
eyes were like white-hot steel. 

"You may kill me, if you like," he said. "I don't 
mind if it's at your hand. But I claim you, Zelie, 
claim you as my wife !" 

He opened his arms and advanced upon her. 


"I CAN'T live without you, Zelie I can't!" Owen 
Mayne advanced blindly, his arms extended. His feet 
dragged, and he swayed a little from side to side. He 
had lost all dignity, all strength. He was like a 
drunken man, without reasoning power, obsessed by 
one all-absorbing desire. 

"And I hate you!" Zelie stood erect, not even 
deigning to retreat before him. Her bosom was heav- 
ing, and her eyes flashed in infinite scorn. And, in- 
deed, the man presented a pitiable spectacle of moral 
and physical degeneration. 

It seemed as if he did not hear her. For the mo- 
ment all recollection of those weeks of agony, during 
which with drink and drugs he had been blighting his 
body and soul, was swept away. He saw only Zelie 
Zelie in the flesh, not a shadow, a form without sub- 
stance, such as his dreams had conjured up. 

He had forgotten utterly forgotten how he had 
come to her immediately after his flight from Selwood 
Manor, believing that she would welcome him with 
open arms, and how she had discarded him with mock- 
ing disdain he who had sinned for her, degraded him- 
self to the lowest depth of infamy how she had bidden 
him return whence he came, as she had no further 
use for him. 

At that a violent rage had surged in his breast, and 
he had seen Zelie for what she was. He had swung 
away from the house, her derisive laughter ringing in 



his ears, vowing that she had murdered love and 
crushed the passion that he had borne for her to ex- 
tinction. Might he never set eyes upon her more! 
Wife of his though she was, he consigned her body to 
defilement, her soul to the nethermost hell. 

He had made an effort after that to return to the 
old life. Paris saw him once more he strove to paint. 
He succeeded in earning just enough to keep himself 
alive and to pay for the poison with which, almost at 
once, he sought to banish memory and to lay the 
ghosts that haunted him. It was all in vain. The 
coils of the snake were about his limbs, the claws of 
the panther rent his breast, the beak of the vulture 
was in his heart. The siren who was now snake, now 
panther, now bird of prey, demanded his soul, while 
the woman who was the earthly representative of that 
siren mocked and rejected him. 

It came to his ears that Robin had arrived in Paris 
in search of him. Owen sold at ruinous sacrifice the 
few sketches and pictures that remained to him he 
had already disposed of the furniture and effects of 
his studio -and flat and returned to London, where 
he lost himself in the vortex. Robin sought him in 

His funds, such as they were, were soon exhausted. 
He tried to paint if only to earn a pound or two 
but found that his hand had lost its cunning. He 
sank lower and lower. His strength and health gave 
way. Time after time he set out to find Zelie, but 
caught sight of himself a sorry figure in some mir- 
ror behind a shop window, and then slunk back to his 
miserable apartment. He was ashamed. 

But by degrees even shame lost its restraining influ- 
ence. Nothing remained but a great hunger for the 
touch of Zelie's hands, a maddening thirst for the 


kisses of her lips those kisses that were his by right. 
And his drug-begotten dreams came nightly to add 
to his frenzy. He haunted the stage door of the Star 
Theatre. Once, in coming out and passing to her 
brougham, Zelie had actually brushed against him; 
her cavalier, a tall, soldierly man, had pushed Owen 
roughly aside. There might have been a scene, but 
Owen had become suddenly conscious of his own 
degradation. He slunk away, and as the brougham 
passed him by broke down and wept weak tears. He 
knew then that his day was done. 

The intensity of his passion drove him at last to 
Zelie's house. He had deprived himself of his drug 
the night before by a superhuman effort imagining 
that thereby his head would be clearer. The only re- 
sult was that he felt miserably weak and ill. Never- 
theless, he dressed himself with some care for his ap- 
pearance, and set out. He had eaten nothing, had no 
desire for food. On the way he had been compelled 
to fortify himself with brandy, stopping at a public- 
house for the purpose. It was in this state that he 
had been admitted to Zelie's presence. 

But all this was forgotten now as he staggered for- 
ward, imagining that he was about to take his wife 
in his arms, to slake his thirst at her lips. His senses 
reeled, and quite suddenly the recollection of her harsh 
words forsook his brain. He was deaf to her vitupera- 
tion, to her declaration of hatred. There was a mist 
before his eyes, and he could not see the loathing that 
her face expressed; he was blind to the menace of 
her uplifted hand the hand that was armed with the 
long, sharp pin. 

His face was close to hers, she could feel his breath, 
breath that sickened her with its reek of brandy, upon 
her cheek. Zelie uttered a scream, not of fear, but of 


hatred and disgust, and then she struck at that face, 
shortening the weapon in her hand, stabbing with it, 
viciously, cruelly, careless of consequences, only in 
her rage eager to see the red blood flow. 

It was her very fury that saved Owen from serious 
harm. Had she been less frenzied with passion she 
might have aimed deliberately at one of his eyes. As 
it was, the hatpin wounded his cheek, his lip, his fore- 
head and then broke. 

"There there there!" Zelie screeched out the 
word each time she struck. The foulest insults fell 
from her tongue. Her face was contorted with rage 
hideous for the moment every trace of her weird 
charm had deserted her. 

Owen fell back dazed foolishly astounded con- 
scious of sharp pain. Blood was trickling from his 
forehead into one of his eyes, blinding it. He lifted 
his hands to his face, and then gazed at them vacantly, 
blinking, wondering why they were smeared with red. 

"Zelie," he muttered, "what is it? What have you 
done to me ?" 

"I wish I'd killed you," she panted. She was still 
holding the head of the broken hatpin, and now she 
threw it away with an impatient jerk. 

And then quite suddenly it all came back to him, 
the sin that he had sinned for this woman's sake, the 
trouble that he had wrought the ignominy and shame 
what he had been, and what he was. 

But the manhood had gone out of him, the strength 
of will, the power to mock at himself and at the world. 
The vampire of his passion had sucked his very life- 
blood ; he had offered up his vitality as a sacrifice upon 
the altar of the siren. Owen Mayne stood face to face 
with the tragedy of his own existence. 

He had poisoned himself with deadly drugs ; he had 


neglected to nourish his body; he had scorched and 
burnt his brain till it was no better than white ash; 
he had trampled pride under his feet; he was mean, 
despicable, unspeakably vile. 

So he saw himself at that moment. There was a 
mirror upon the wall in front of him, a mirror in a 
quaint and ornate frame of ebony one of Eve de 
Freyne's curiosities. Fantastic faces, grotesques, were 
carved on either side, and at the top and bottom, but 
none of them could equal in repulsive ugliness the 
face, blood-stained, contorted, hideous, that Owen saw 
reflected in the mirror itself. Could it, indeed, be 
his own? Why, it might have depicted all the sin of 
all the world. It was scarcely human. Yet he had 
been a man once. 

He sank into a chair and buried his face in his 
hands. Great tears, that were reddened with his blood, 
welled between his fingers. His whole body shook 
and quivered. Choking sobs broke in his throat. He 
wept for the loss of all that had enabled him to hold 
up his head among his fellows his pride, his self- 
respect, his manhood. And all the while the name of 
his destroyer, she for whom he had sacrificed these 
things, was on his lips. 

"Zelie! Zelie!" He rocked himself to and fro, re- 
peating the word in a monotonous wail. 

Zelie regarded him from under her curling lashes, 
and she moistened her dry lips with her tongue; she 
had the aspect of a beast of prey who has tasted blood 
and who thirsts for more. 

How she loathed the sight of that abject figure, 
rocking to and fro in its chair ! Of all things she de- 
tested weakness. She quite forgot that it was in ad- 
miration of his strength, his defiance of danger, that 
she had given herself to Owen Mayne. Even now, 


had he thrown himself upon her, crushed her slim 
body with his powerful hands or, rather, hands that 
had been powerful once had he beaten her, kicked 
her as she lay at his feet, she would have understood, 
for the primitive instinct was still strong in her, and 
to her mind this was the way of a man with the woman 
he loved. Bibi Coupe-vide would have dealt thus with 
her Bibi, who had not a tithe of Owen's physical 

"Zelie, I am your husband. I could proclaim it to 
the world !" His hands had fallen to his sides, and he 
was staring up at her with his bloodshot eyes. Then 
he muttered, half to himself: "Why not why not?" 

This was the danger, and Zelie realised it. That 
accursed marriage! How often she had laughed to 
think that she had desired the death of her husband 
plotted for it not because he was her husband, but 
because she imagined that he had deceived her, be- 
cause her fierce jealousy had been aroused. It was 
another feeling that animated her now. This wreck 
of humanity this pauper could go forth and pro- 
claim that he had a right over her that she was his 
wife ! 

How could she sweep him from her path? She 
ground her little, sharp teeth together and clenched 
her fists. Then she told herself that she would find a 
way if only he could be silenced for the time being. 
That was the essential point. 

Then she remembered how she had dealt with Bibi. 
Promises are easy to speak, and men are fools where 
women are concerned. Owen must be conciliated since 
he had this weapon in his hand and might use it. It 
was a pity that she had lost her temper and struck 

Her task proved easier than she had anticipated, and 


it was Owen himself who gave her the opening she 

Suddenly he dropped from his chair upon his knees, 
and trailed across the floor till he reached her side, 
when he clutched at her skirt, bowing his head almost 
to the ground, hiding his face in the folds of her dress. 
He was ashamed of his scars, of his degradation, of 
his self-abasement, of what he had seen in the mirror. 

"Zelie," he moaned, "it isn't true that you hate me 
tell me that it isn't true. You were angry, and it is 
in your nature to be quick-tempered. Why, I remem- 
ber, even in Paris, months and months ago, when we 
were happy, you once threatened me with a knife, 
and you might have used it, too, only I soothed you 
with a kiss, a fierce kiss that bit the flesh as keenly 
as any knife. Say that you were angry, Zelie, and 
that you don't hate me. I'll do anything you like. I'll 
go away until you call me. I know that I'm a despic- 
able object now that I've been playing the fool with 
my life. But it isn't too late, if you'll give me hope. 
I'll give up the drugs, the drink, everything that has 
been playing the devil with me. I'll be a man again. 
I'll work I will, I swear it ! Only say that you want 
me to, Zelie that you care !" 

She stretched out her hand and touched his head. 
He had drawn himself up as he poured out his suppli- 
cation, so that she could easily do so. 

"Get up, mon ami," she said, forcing herself to speak 
gently. "It's true, I was angry. I am sorry I struck 
you. Forgive me." 

She allowed him to grasp her hand as he rose to his 
feet. She knew that it was in her power to dictate 
any terms she pleased. Soft words why had she not 
realised at once how much more potent they may be 
than blows ? The panther had not yet learnt to sheathe 


its claws till the right moment to strike presented itself. 
Zelie was gaining wisdom, but the primitive instinct 
was still strong within her. 

Owen stood before her with bowed head, but his 
heart beat wildly within his breast. What did the 
wounds upon his face matter now ? Zelie was his, and 
he loved her none the less because she had inflicted 
them. It was this very savagery in her which had 
charmed him from the first ; his brain had created her, 
and she had sprung to life vicious, cruel, alluring, 
the realisation of a fantastic dream. 

Zelie dictated her terms. They had as their object 
the immediate ridding herself of his presence and the 
assurance that the relationship between Owen and her- 
self should not be revealed. She did not mind how 
many promises she made for the future the future 
would take care of itself. It was more than likely 
that Owen would drink and drug himself to death. 

She must bring her London season to a close she 
must pay her promised visit to America the provinces 
were clamouring for her. Till the end of the year 
at least she must have complete independence. Then 
she would return to Paris, and Owen should join her. 
She would be tired of fame by that time, and would 
crave for a return to the old Bohemian life. Together 
they would begin all over again. It would be delight- 
ful. Owen should paint his "Chamois Hunter" pic- 
ture afresh. It would make him famous, for the world 
would know that she, Zelie, had been his model. 

Just such promises she had made glibly to Bibi 
Coupe- vide and with just as much intention of carry- 
ing them into effect. 

"And in the meanwhile you may see me at the thea- 
tre," she said; "not here and not too often. I've 


no wish that anyone should suspect. You must have 

He promised that he would. He vowed that he 
would work, that he would raise himself from the 
slough into which he had sunk that he would give 
up the poison which had brought him so low any- 
thing, if it was to win Zelie in the end. 

Zelie shrugged her shoulders. She did not care 
what he did. She only wanted him to go. There 
was another visitor who might arrive at any minute 
Sir Donald, in point of fact and how could she 
receive him without tidying her hair and generally 
attending to her appearance, ruffled as she was after 
this troublesome interview with Owen? 

And Owen wanted to kiss her as a ratification of 
their treaty. She laughed, and pointed satirically to 
his reflection in the mirror. "Would you have me 
kiss you now?" she asked. 

This recalled him to his senses, arousing him once 
more to a knowledge of his shame. The scratches 
upon his face had ceased to bleed. He crossed to the 
mirror and rubbed the stains away as best he could 
with his handkerchief. 

Then he came back and took Zelie's hand and lifted 
it to his lips. "Good-bye," he faltered. "I'll go now. 
I know that I'm a poor, mean creature a despicable 
hound but you can do what you will with me, Zelie. 
You have only to threaten not to see me again and I 
cringe to you. God but it's not so long ago since I 
was a man!" 

And so he left her. He had but a few shillings in 
his pocket, and did not know where he was to obtain 
more. Yet he had promised to work, to reform ! 

He walked slowly, dragging his feet. A sense of 
definite lassitude came upon him. Near the door of 


the house he had met Sir Donald Ransom, looking 
spruce, pleased with himself, expectant. Sir Donald 
had glanced at him without recognition. How low he 
must have fallen ! 

Sir Donald was going to see Zelie. Owen stood 
at the corner of the street until the young man had 
knocked at the door and been admitted. A welcome 
guest, no doubt while he, Owen, Zelie's husband, who 
had every right to go there, was refused the house! 
And he had submitted without a murmur! He de- 
spised himself, loathed himself but in a half-hearted, 
spiritless fashion. 

The craving for drink seized upon him. Of course, 
it was that which had made such a coward of him. 
He had taken no stimulant for nearly twenty-four 
hours ; no food, either. He must have a little brandy, 
and then, perhaps, he would see his way clearer 
just a little, to put life into his sluggish veins. 

He turned into a public-house. Zelie, who desired 
nothing better than that he should drink himself to 
death, would have laughed could she have seen him 

And she would have rejoiced still more had she seen 
him later on, a pitiable object, tossing on his bed in 
the delirium of a drug-begotten sleep. For she would 
have recognised the futility of taking any steps to 
rid herself of a man who was bent upon his own 


ZELIE leant back upon her sofa and laughed noisily. 
She was in her dressing-room at the theatre, and it 
was little more than a quarter of an hour since the 
whole vast house had resounded with the applause 
which her dancing always called forth. She was quite 
accustomed to it now, and accepted it as merely her 

Her performance was very similar to that which she 
had given at Chamney Castle, save that in the Danse 
du Neant the presence of a masculine companion was 
only implied, just as in her other dances the audience 
were always able to people the stage with characters 
which did not exist in actual fact. It had been deemed 
most effective that Zelie's remarkable personality 
should not be interfered with by the introduction of 
another performer. 

It had not taken her long to recover from the effects 
of her interview with Owen. As soon as the drawing- 
room door closed behind him she had thrust out her 
tongue derisively, danced a few steps of a wild can- 
can, abused him in her coarsest Montmartre slang, 
and then, finding herself before the mirror, commenced 
to smooth down her hair, congratulating herself all 
the time upon her astuteness in having got rid of an 

"Claim me as his wife he! Oh! mon Dieu! but 
it would have been awkward if he had. I did well 
to temporise. For this Owen this husband of mine, 



whom I hate he shall not stand in my way" 
she clenched her fists "I say he shall not! I will rid 
myself of him we shall see we shall see !" 

Her features softened curiously. "For what would 
Donald say if he knew that I was not free? He has 
queer ideas, this good Donald of mine, and he would 
not take a woman who belonged to another man, 
though he does not hesitate to break his vows to the 
girl who was to have been his wife. Ah! they are 
funny, these men, and we can twist them round our 
fingers, we who are clever." She lifted her fingers to 
her lips and kissed them lightly. "For, see this. They 
tell me that Donald is in love with an English miss 
oh! but very much in love that he will marry her, 
and they will be happy ever after but I say, 'No! 
I like your Donald. He is handsome he pleases me/ 
And so I smile upon him and it is enough. Voila! 
he is at my feet. Why not? There is another who 
loves him ? Bah ! I mock myself of women I mock 
myself of the world !" 

A drop or two of blood which had fallen from 
Owen's wounded face, and stained the carpet, caught 
her eyes at that moment; she ground her heel over 
the spot, muttering another curse upon her husband, 
then she hurried off to her bedroom to continue there 
the adjustment of her toilette. She was not content 
till she had changed her afternoon gown for a be- 
coming negligee, and by the time she had done this 
her equanimity was quite restored. 

Of course, she had kept Sir Donald waiting, but 
she looked so extraordinarily fascinating when at last 
she reappeared in the drawing-room that he could find 
nothing to say but just, "Zelie! Zelie! How wonder- 
ful you are ! How can any man resist you ?" 

She smiled upon him in answer, and, indeed, a curi- 


ous change had come over her face. Its lines were 
less hard, the humanity of it more marked. Had Lord 
Martyn seen her at that moment he would have feared 
for her. Had he not always said that Zelie's day 
would be over if ever she became like other women 
if ever she should find her soul ? 

They dined together that evening, Sir Donald and 
Zelie. The name of Lady Beatrice was not mentioned 
between them. After dinner they drove to the theatre 
in Zelie's brougham. 

Just before her turn was signalled the dancer was 
handed a note. It came from Lord Martyn, and it 
requested a private interview after the performance. 
Zelie sent a reply inviting him to her dressing-room 
when she should have left the stage. 

She found him there awaiting her. She was flushed, 
a little out of breath, and her nerves on edge, as they 
always were after the abandonment of her dancing. 
She threw herself down upon a sofa, her breast heav- 
ing under the thin black corsage which she wore as 
the Apache in the last item of her performance. The 
floor was littered with other articles of attire, gauzy 
fabrics of white and black, all of them in curious con- 
trast to the rich evening gown which had been laid out 
over a chair, ready to be donned again. 

"I always rest for a few minutes after I leave the 
stage," she explained, "but you know that, Milor 
Harry. You may talk to me while I lie here." 

He drew a chair up to her side and talked. His 
face was grave, and Zelie thought that he had aged 
remarkably since she had first met him. He kept 
pulling at his black beard in a manner that was char- 
acteristic of him. 

And it was with characteristic promptitude, too, 
that he came to the point, once the ordinary words 


of greeting and compliment were spoken. Lord Mar- 
tyn was not given to beating about the bush when 
his mind was made up. And it was quite made up 

There remained but one way by which the panther 
might be cajoled back to its cage the panther that 
had done so much harm already. It was he himself, 
Lord Martyn, who had given the beast its freedom, 
so upon him lay the responsibility of guarding against 
other victims falling into the clutch of those death- 
dealing claws. He must atone by devoting himself. 

"Zelie," he said smoothly, "I feel that in a way I'm 
answerable for you. I'll be quite frank about it. I 
launched you in London, knowing full well that you 
would be a danger to society, that your beauty your 
astonishing power of attraction, which, whatever it 
may be due to, is hardly human would set people by 
the ears. I had a grudge against society, you see. My 
experiment has been successful too successful. I 
think I underestimated the folly of my kind. Well, 
my dear, I don't blame you, of course. It's all due to 
the inscrutable ways of what we are pleased to call 
Providence. But I fancy it's time to draw in, and 
with this object in view I'm going to make you an 

"An offer?" She folded her bare arms above her 
head, and the white of them glinted from beneath the 
meshes of rick black hair which lay upon them like 
a veil. Her lashes drooped lazily over her eyes. "An 
offer?" she repeated. 

He nodded gravely. "Yes. I think I understand 
your nature, Zelie, as well, at least, as a man can un- 
derstand the heart of a woman. You love applause, 
admiration, position, gold you love yourself. Beyond 
these things you are cold. You despise mankind 


yes, men and women alike. It pleases you that men 
shall pay you court, but you have no love to give in 
return. You have never loved. You never will." 

She lifted her lids and turned her head a little. Her 
eyes glittered behind their dark circles of paint. "And 
if this is so," she said, "why do you speak of it? To 
what are you coming?" 

"To this," he responded. "I am ready to give you 
all that you most desire, Zelie a high position, a name 
that is centuries old, a fortune that you may play with 
as you please. And I do not ask for love in return. 
There shall be no question of love as love between 
us. I merely want you to be my wife." Even at that 
moment Martyn could not restrain the vein of satire 
that was so strong within him. 

This was the only way or so he had decided by 
which Sir Donald and Lady Beatrice could be restored 
to each other's arms. The spell of the siren must be 
removed. There was real love between the two young 
people in whose fortunes he was so deeply interested 
and Donald was an honourable man, though he had 
been snared, tempted, and was drifting to dishonour 
in spite of all that was good in him. 

"So you wish to marry me, Milor Harry?" Zelie 
sat up as she put the question. 

"Yes," he replied quietly, "to marry you." 

"But you don't" she hesitated "love me?" 

"No no more than I expect you to love me, Zelie. 
Love, in the true sense of the word, died in my breast 
many years ago. It left me cold." He folded his 
arms and fixed his eyes upon the girl. For one brief 
moment, as he spoke of dead love, they had softened 
then the light died out of them again. 

"And you do not even feel that that attraction 
which you say I exert over men without knowing it? 


You have no passion?" She threw out the word 
boldly, defiantly. There had been times when she won- 
dered why this strong man, who had seemingly taken 
such interest in her, had never, by word or deed, ex- 
pressed any warmer feeling. 


It was then that Zelie had thrown herself back upon 
the sofa and broken out into a harsh laugh. For she 
guessed the reason of Lord Martyn's proposal. 

"Yet you would marry me why ?" The words were 
broken by her laughter. 

He frowned a little for why should she laugh? 
"Let us say that it is because I am still ambitious for 
you," he replied, carefully weighing his speech, "be- 
cause I want my wife to be a woman who is different 
to any other woman on the face of the earth. The 
world regards me as an eccentric man, Zelie ; perhaps 
I wish to crown my eccentricities by this marriage. At 
any rate, what I propose is all for your benefit; so, 
since you do not desire love, but only worldly gain 
you have told me so many times why should we 
trouble about the reason of my proposal? A union 
between you and me will hurt no one and it may save 

Zelie stretched out her hand and touched his wrist. 
"Ah! there we have it, mon ami!" she said. "That 
is the true reason. I am a danger, and you would 
save someone from me. It is of Sir Donald that you 
are thinking. Am I not right, heinf" 

He inclined his head. "You do not love Sir Don- 
ald," he replied, "only it pleases you to encourage his 
infatuation. But I can give you more, far more, than 
ever Sir Donald could offer. You will not hesitate 
between us, Zelie?" 

Lord Martyn spoke bluntly, for this was his trump 


card. He knew that if he was to gain his point it was 
only the girl's avarice, her self-love, that he could ap- 
peal to. She had no finer emotion to play upon. The 
conviction of this had actuated him throughout. It 
was merely a compact that he was proposing, a com- 
pact in which all the advantage was on one side. He 
had imagined that Zelie would see it in this light. 

But for once he was mistaken as he was soon to 
learn. For Zelie laughed again, and her laughter 
jarred upon his ears. Then she rose from her sofa 
and crossed to her dressing-table; it was as though 
she wished to signify that the interview was at an 

"I am flattered, Milor Harry," she said, "by your 
proposal." She dropped him a mock curtsy. "But, 
no I cannot accept it." She was not going to ac- 
knowledge herself a married woman there was no- 
need for that. "Nor would I if I could without love," 
she added. 

Martyn could hardly believe that he had heard 
aright. He had not had the smallest doubt of the 
success of his manoeuvre till Zelie laughed. He rose 
to his feet and stepped quickly to the girl's side. He 
towered over her as he stood there, a strong man 
whose self-confidence had received a sudden check. 

"Without love?" he faltered. "Zelie, for Heaven's 
sake, what do you mean? You do not love anyone? 
You are not the sort of woman who loves. You can 
play with men's souls and toss them away that is 
why I felt it would cost you nothing to give up those 
who are hovering round you now the one especially 
and marry me. But love what have you to do with 

"Only this," she replied, and of a sudden her voice 
had softened, and all its mocking ring had gone from 


it "that he has taught me to love yes, Donald. For 
the others, I have cared nothing no, never, never. 
No man has ever really stirred my heart. I have never 
known what love is till now. I never thought I 
should. I never wished to. You were right when 
you said that I wanted nothing but gold gold and 
applause gold and admiration but always gold first. 
Had you come to me yesterday, mon ami, I might 
have made you any promise you desire, but you are 
just a few hours too late." She pressed her hands to 
her palpitating bosom. "For now there is something 
born within me something that has sprung to life 
within my breast and it is sweet and fresh and tender, 
and I feel that I must guard it as a mother guards her 
young. That is why I was hard just now, why I 
laughed, for it was as if you were attacking that which 
I cherish." 

Zelie's eyes shone fiercely, and yet Lord Martyn 
had never before seen so much humanity in her face. 
He knew that his mission had failed, that it was hope- 
less, and for a few moments anger mastered him. His 
heavy hands fell upon the girl's shoulders, and she 
bent under their weight. He could have killed her 
with one blow, and yet it was she who had mastered 

"Woman witch!" he cried, "thing of evil! have 
you not a single spark of human feeling in your breast? 
Hasn't a little charity been born in you at the same 
time as this love? Don't you know that you are rob- 
bing another of all that makes life happy for her? 
Was it no lesson to you that Cecily Cuthbert should 
call you murderess? For Donald Ransom does not 
love you, I say. It is not love that he offers you. You 
have ensnared him, you vile sorceress of lust and pas- 
sion! His heart belongs to Lady Beatrice Clewer 


it will never be yours! You cannot inspire love 

"What do I care?" Zelie drew up her lithe body, 
and met the burning hate of the man's gaze with de- 
fiance. "It is I who win. Donald has taught me to 
love him, and by that love I shall hold him fast. What 
is Lady Beatrice Clewer to me? What is any man or 
woman in the whole world to me, except the one 
being I love ? Why, I should not care if the earth were 
drenched through and through with their tears aye, 
or with their blood!" 

She spoke with a wild fervour that was not without 
its finer side. For Zelie was not to be judged by 
ordinary standards, as none knew better than Lord 
Martyn himself. Her very cruelty and heartlessness, 
her utter lack of human sympathy all these were 
but as Nature had bestowed them upon the primeval 
creatures of which Zelie was the prototype. Could 
she be blamed because she was a living expression of 
primitive instinct? 

"Blame the inherent cruelty of things," Martyn 
muttered to himself as his hands fell to his sides. 

"Ah! Zelie! Zelie!" he added aloud. "It is useless 
for me to argue with you. You have beaten me, and 
left me without a weapon I who could strangle the 
life out of you with one of my hands !" He addressed 
her in a tone of intense sadness. "There will be more 
tears and mourning about your path, Zelie, more pain 
and bloodshed, and it is I who am to blame, not you 
yourself, who know no better." 

He extended his large hands. "See!" he cried. 
"They are stained already and the tears that have 
fallen upon them and are to fall cannot wash away 
the marks! But listen to me, Zelie, for what I tell 
you is true, even though I am looking into the future. 


Your eyes are dry now, but they will be wet. You 
say that love is born in your breast, you who have 
never known love. Do you understand what that 
means ? It means that the soul within you is awaken- 
ing that you will be a woman like other women. And 
the birth pangs will not be easy, Zelie, nor will the 
soul that is born to you bring anything but sorrow 
and despair!" 

He left her upon that and made his way slowly to 
the street. As he emerged from the stage door a 
newsboy thrust a late edition of an evening paper 
before him. 

"Result of the great murder trial! Here you are, 
guv'nor!" cried the urchin. "Scene in court!" The 
boy was carrying a bill on which the words appeared 
in huge letters. 

So the end had been reached sooner than Martyn 
had expected. He purchased a paper, and paused 
under a street lamp to inspect the stop-press news. He 
had no doubt in his mind as to the verdict. 

But as he read the brief paragraph to its conclusion 
he started, and his hands trembled so that he could 
scarcely hold the paper. 

A cry escaped his lips. "My God! No! no! It 
isn't possible! it isn't possible!" 

"HAVE met with accident. Come to me. OWEN/' 

The telegram had been despatched from a central 
London hospital. The thin pink paper fluttered from 
Robin's hand to the floor, and he sat quite still for a 
minute, staring at the picture upon which he was 
engaged. It was a landscape, painted in the neigh- 
bourhood of Selwood, and he was putting the finishing 
touches to it in his studio. He had leased a cottage 
upon the Manor estate, and had resided there ever 
since Owen's flight except for the time which he had 
spent in vain pursuit of his friend. 

The picture had been commissioned by Lord Mar- 
tyn, who had manifested an interest in the young artist, 
a disposition to lend him a helping hand. He had 
given Robin certain introductions, of which the latter 
had made good use, so that future prospects appeared 
bright, and there was no need for him to bury himself 
once more in the forest of Fontainebleau. He had, 
indeed, removed his belongings from his former home 
and settled definitely in England. 

"Poor fellow! poor Owen!" Robin rose, and began 
rummaging among the papers upon his writing-table 
for a time-table. "Of course I'll go to him go by 
the very next train. God grant it may not be anything 
really serious." 

There was no train to London, however, for another 


two hours. Selwood was on a branch line where 
there was little traffic. Robin decided that he would 
walk over to the Manor and tell Lavender that he 
might be absent for a day or two it was just as well 
that he had the opportunity. And in the meanwhile 
he would send a telegram to Owen announcing his 
approaching arrival. 

He would not tell Lavender the true object of his 
journey. There were reasons why he could not do 
so. As he plodded along across the fields, taking a 
short cut to the Manor a pleasant walk through wood 
and over meadow he meditated, with a half-smile, a 
smile that was tinged with sadness and self-sympathy, 
upon the curious state of affairs that had come into 
being since the departure of Owen from Selwood. 

It was all due to Robin's kindness of heart and 
weakness of character. He could not bear to give 
pain, and he had shrunk from the task of breaking 
to Lavender the news of her lover's perfidy. She 
did not know even to-day that Owen was already 
a married man ! 

It had all come about so naturally, so quietly, and 
Robin had found himself involved in a maze of sub- 
terfuge a maze from which he could only extricate 
himself by disavowing all the stories which he had 
concocted before he knew what he was about. One 
excuse had led to another, one small lie had demanded 
a bigger to back it up, and so it had gone on till the 
tangle was past remedy. 

For Lavender was so terribly distressed that day 
when Owen had departed for London without a word 
of explanation, leaving the girl who loved him so 
devotedly at a time when she needed him most. How 
could Robin have spoken the truth then? It was 
beyond his power to do so. She pressed him with 


questions. Had he not had a long talk with Owen, 
been taken into the confidence of the latter? 

So Robin began his tissue of inventions. Owen 
felt his position as a poor man engaged to a rich girl. 
His funds were running short that was the secret 
which had been harassing him for weeks and making 
him so unlike himself. He was too proud to confess 
the truth to Lavender. He had gone away to work 
to re-establish his position and he had begged 
Robin to explain matters to his fiancee. 

"But the money is nothing to me!" Lavender cried. 
"It is Owen's by right, and would have been his but 
for dear mother's sudden and tragic death. Oh ! won't 
he look at it like that and come back to me?" 

Robin was obliged to entrench himself behind the 
standpoint of Owen's invincible pride. He succeeded 
in comforting the girl for the time being, which was 
his main object that day. "She will learn the truth 
when Owen writes," he told himself. "She will be 
better able to bear it then." 

But Owen never wrote. The days passed, and no 
letter came. Lavender began to fret once more. 

And then always to avert the evil day to keep 
those dear eyes from shedding tears, Robin adopted 
desperate, foolish means. He himself wrote letters, 
and signed them with Owen's name. There was no 
difficulty about the handwriting. The lovers had never 
corresponded, Owen having been at Selwood from 
the beginning of the engagement to the day of his 

It was quite easy to send the letters to a friend in 
Paris and have them posted from there. In these 
communications Owen professed to be very busy set- 
tling his affairs and making arrangements for the fu- 
ture; he was building himself up a position; as soon 


as this was established he would return and claim 
Lavender as his wife; he would no longer feel then 
that he was taking undue advantage of his fiancee's 

And all the while Robin knew how hopeless it was, 
how futile. There were days when an avowal trem- 
bled upon his lips ; then he would purse them tightly 
together. "Another time, another time," he would 
mutter to himself. "I shall find a way out. Lavender 
mustn't be made to cry." 

And so it went on. Robin spoke to no one of Owen's 
marriage, not even to Lord Martyn, whom he saw 
frequently in those days. But he made an effort to 
trace his friend, fearing for his future, and guessing 
that Zelie would have none of him; but though he 
did his utmost, both in London and Paris, his search 
was fruitless. He returned to Selwood, drawn there 
by the magnetism of Lavender, and the tragic farce 
was continued as before. 

For Robin suffered acutely. He and Lavender were 
thrown much together, and she was far too natural 
and healthy-minded to conceal from him that she was 
glad of his company, that she had a strong liking for 
him, as Owen's friend, and that the sympathy which 
had sprung up between them was agreeable to her. 

Once she ventured to question him as to why he 
had never married, and in a burst of confidence Robin 
told her all about his never- forgotten love affair ; how 
the girl to whom he had given his heart had been 
stricken down by consumption, how he had married 
her when she had but a few weeks of life to look for- 
ward to, how their honeymoon a brief honeymoon, 
spent in the forest of Fontainebleau had terminated, 
as they both knew it must, in the bride being laid 
to rest in a quiet little cemetery, hedged in by giant 


trees, where the grass was always green, and where 
wild flowers, which she loved so dearly, grew in pro- 

That Lavender was the living image of his dead 
love, this fact Robin kept to himself, as closely as he 
kept the secret of the adoration he bore her. For 
Lavender was not for him, so he told himself over 
and over again, with his blundering lack of self-confi- 
dence ; how could she care for him when she had given 
her heart to Owen? Owen, so handsome and clever; 
Owen, who had proved so false ? 

And so Robin's days were bitter-sweet; yet he 
prayed night and morning that they might endure 
a little longer, and he could see no other way to secure 
this but by keeping up the deception which he had 
already practised successfully for so many weeks. For 
when Lavender knew the truth, as she must at last, 
she would be angry; she would never forgive him; 
she would not understand ; and then he must go, there 
would be nothing for it but that ; but, oh ! might God 
grant that that day should not come soon ! 

The letters which he wrote to Lavender in Owen's 
name came to have a weird fascination for him. Very 
soon after he had begun writing them the girl com- 
plained to him that Owen expressed himself coldly, 
that his letters were not lover-like. She did not com- 
plain a second time. Robin put into his effusions all 
the passion of his own heart, all the longing desire 
he bore. Owen was almost forgotten as the burning 
words flowed from a ready pen. Once he had actu- 
ally signed his own name, but discovered the mistake 
in time. 

Of course, he received Lavender's replies. He treas- 
ured them as holy things. At first he did not intend 
to read them, but there were questions to be answered ; 


it was necessary to show a knowledge of what she had 
written. The pain of it, at first, was almost more 
than he could bear, but by degrees, in some extraordi- 
nary fashion, he began to forget Owen and associate 
himself with the letters, so that he looked for their 
coming with the keenest desire. 

Robin pondered upon these matters as he made his 
way to the Manor. For how long could he keep up 
the deception ? How would it all end ? He knew that 
he had been a fool, and yet it was love the deepest, 
tenderest love, which had inspired folly. 

Lavender and Mrs. Foxhall, her chaperon, were in 
the garden sunning themselves upon the lawn. The 
elder lady had the day's paper spread out before her, 
and she had evidently been reading from it aloud. 
Robin noticed at once that there was a look of concern 
upon the girl's face. 

"Isn't this a terrible thing, Mr. Clithero?" she said, 
after the formal words of greeting had been spoken. 
"Mrs. Foxhall has been reading me all the particulars. 
I could hardly believe it true." 

"I'm afraid I haven't looked at the morning paper," 
Robin admitted, "so I don't know what has happened. 
I had some work I wished to finish in a hurry. Will 
you tell me all about it ?" 

"It's about the murder of that poor Mr. Aldis at 
Chamney," explained Lavender. "You know that 
the trial of the Frenchman, whom everybody believed 
guilty, was nearing its end." 

"The verdict was not expected till Monday," put 
in Robin. 

"No. But the case came to an unexpected con- 
clusion. The prisoner has been put back pending 
fresh inquiries. It appears that last night, just before 
the closing of the court, a woman stood up and accused 


herself of the murder. She cried out that she could 
bear it no longer, that she must not let the innocent 
suffer for her crime. She was overwrought and hys- 
terical, I'm sure, for it isn't possible I can't believe 
it's possible." 

"A woman?" Robin looked his surprise, and 

"Yes. Cecily Cuthbert, the actress, you know. She 
cried out that it was jealousy which made her do the 
deed; that she loved the man she killed, and that she 
had not known a moment's rest since she struck the 
blow. Remorse had tortured her. There was a ter- 
rible scene in court, it appears, for she screamed, and 
denounced another woman, the dancer Zelie is the 
name she goes by, I think the French girl who was 
at Chamney the night of the murder, and whose dan- 
cing made me shudder as the real cause of the trag- 
edy, the murderess though her hands were not stained 
with blood. Oh! isn't it terrible? I remember Miss 
Cuthbert quite well. I thought her so pretty and 
graceful not at all the sort of woman that one can 
associate with a crime." 

"No." Robin set his teeth. "If it had been the other 
woman, Zelie, there would have been no cause for 
wonder. Guilty or no, Miss Cuthbert was right in 
denouncing that tiger cat as a murderess she is one 
of those who lure men, body and soul, to destruction. 
There is venom on her lips, and she has no heart, no 
warm, human blood in her veins, no soul. She is 
what she showed herself as that night at Chamney 
the eternal temptress, a creature fashioned from the 
mist of ages." 

He spoke with unwonted vehemence, and Laven- 
der gazed at him in some surprise ; then her eyes grew 


"Oh! is she as bad as that, Mr. Clithero?" Lavender 
clasped her hands nervously. "But but Owen knows 
her, doesn't he? They talked together at Chamney 
that night. I didn't say anything about it, but I wasn't 
quite happy." 

Robin laughed shortly, and a trifle awkwardly, re- 
alising that he was on dangerous ground. He found 
some excuse for Owen, and then brought the conver- 
sation back, as quickly as he could, to the subject of 
the trial and Cecily Cuthbert's confession. 

Mrs. Foxhall was quite in her element in discussing 
this. She loved sensational cases. She adjusted her 
spectacles upon her nose, and read out paragraphs 
from the newspaper report. "I confess I am as sur- 
prised as everybody else must be," she declared. "I 
had quite made up my mind that this French creature 
Bibi Coupe-vide what a name to go by! was 
guilty. And I think so still, and am sure that he'll be 
found guilty in the end." She spoke with finality, and 
as if her word was law. Then she rose and bustled off 
to the house, having duties to attend to. 

Lavender accompanied Robin to the gates of the 
park. He had told her that he was going to London 
on business, and might be absent for a day or two. 

"I had a letter from Owen this morning," she said 
with a smile one of those smiles which repaid Robin 
for all that he had suffered by his deception, "and he 
says that he is getting on wonderfully, so it may not 
be so very long now before he returns to me. That 
foolish pride of his when he need never have gone 
away at all ! But, oh ! I do admire him for it ! I do, 
and I have no doubt about his love for me now 
he writes so sweetly, so tenderly. And it was all for 
the best, after all, for we couldn't have been married 
this year, while he and I are still in mourning." 


Robin reached London early in the afternoon, and 
made his way direct to the hospital where Owen was 
lying. Here he was expected, and the ward sister 
supplied him with particulars of the accident before 
conducting him to the bedside of the patient. 

"I'm afraid there is no hope, Mr. Clithero. It is 
very doubtful if your friend lives through the night. 
Have you seen much of him lately?" The sister had 
keen grey eyes, and Robin felt that she was scrutinising 
him closely. 

No hope ! Robin shuddered, for the recollection of 
Lavender's happy words when he left her at Selwood 
Park gates flashed through his brain. "He says he 
is getting on wonderfully it may not be long before 
he returns to me." And all the while Owen lay here, 
mangled and shattered, at death's door. How tragic 
it was, how infinitely tragic! 

"No," Robin replied, "I have not seen Mr. Mayne 
for some months." 

"It appears that he has been addicted to drugs. 
We have had information from the landlady of the 
house where he was living. Not only that he has 
been drinking heavily. He went home last night in 
a maddened and irresponsible condition. Towards 
morning he was seized with violent delirium. The 
people of the house sought to restrain him, but he 
escaped from them and flung himself out of the win- 
dow. He has received an injury to his spine besides 
other hurts from which he cannot recover. He re- 
gained consciousness in the hospital, and was able to 
give us your address he said that he had no other 
friends. Only he kept repeating the name of Zelie, 
and I found out that he was thinking of the French 
girl who dances at the Star Theatre. So I sent a mes- 
sage to her but she has not come." 


"Does he know that you sent that message ?" Robin 
put the question anxiously. 

"Yes. And since then he has never taken his eyes 
from the door. But she will not come. I'm sure of 
that from the way she received the messenger one 
of our porters. He says, Mr. Clithero, that her eyes 
lit up when she read the note, and that she laughed 
she laughed!" 

"Curse her!" muttered Robin under his breath. 
Then he asked if he might be taken to his dying friend. 

He bit his lip to keep the tears back when he stood 
by the partially-screened bed in the long ward and 
gazed down upon the poor shattered thing that, not 
so many months ago, had been a man, a man of splen- 
did physique and robust health, one whom men envied 
and women admired his friend, Owen Mayne. 

This was he whom Robin had set up on a pedestal 
and made a hero of. This was he whose good looks, 
whose easy manners and quick wit, had won so many 
hearts, who might have risen to proud heights be- 
cause of the talent that was in him; above all, this 
was he upon whom Lavender had bestowed her love, 
he for whose return she was waiting, picturing him 
to herself the proud lover, the man that he ought to 
have been. And he lay here, his face contorted, dis- 
coloured, hideous, the hand of death upon him ! Oh ! 
the pity of it! 

"Curse her !" repeated Robin, gulping down the lump 
that had risen in his throat. "It is she, Zelie, who has 
brought him to this." 

It was true that Owen's eyes had been fixed upon 
the door. His bed was placed close to it. There was 
a faint glimmer in them as the sister appeared with 
a visitor, then the light had died out and the lids fell. 
Apparently he had not recognised his friend. 


"He is going fast," whispered the sister. 

Robin stooped over the bed. There were red marks, 
like scratches, upon Owen's forehead and cheek and 

"We don't know how he received those wounds," 
said the sister; "they did not happen in his fall. He 
had them when he went home last night. But they 
are superficial, and of no importance." 

"They look as if they had been done with a claw," 
Robin said, with an involuntary shudder. "The wild 
beast has left her mark upon him," he added to him- 
self, but without any idea in his mind of how nearly 
he spoke the truth. 

An hour later Owen roused himself and stared wildly 
at Robin, who was still seated quietly by the bed. 

"Has she come?" The words were breathed in a 

Robin bent forward and rested his hand on that of 
the dying man. "It is I, Robin," he said. "Don't 
you know me, Owen?" 

There was faint recognition in the dull eyes, but 
the question was repeated mechanically: 

"Has she come?" 

Robin hesitated, then he lied splendidly lied as it 
was his nature to lie, if by so doing he might spare 

"Yes she came an hour ago Zelie, your wife. You 
were unconscious, and did not waken. She kissed 
you on the brow and lips, Owen. She sat here by the 
bedside longing for you to recognise her. Then she 
had to go her profession, you understand. But she 
promised to return to-morrow." 

Robin spoke the last word with a catch of his breath. 
For the words of the sister were in his mind as he 


uttered them. She had said that her patient would 
not live through the night. 

"Thank God for that! but, oh! why didn't I feel 
that she was here? Still, thank God and to-morrow 
I shall see her to-morrow !" 

Robin was repaid for his lie by the change that 
came over the sick man's face a change that was al- 
most startling. The haunting look of agony, the ap- 
palling restlessness of spirit, gave place to a calmer 
and more placid mien; the horrible contortion of fea- 
ture vanished; the lips ceased to twitch convulsively; 
the eyes regained a feeble lustre. 

Owen's thin fingers responded a little to the pressure 
of Robin's hand. "It was good of you to come, old 
friend," he murmured brokenly. "There was no one 
I wanted to see but Zelie and you." 

"There is someone else who loves you." Robin 
bent low over the bed so that his whispered words 
should be heard. 

"Lavender? Ah! poor Lavender! I was a brute 
to her. I have had the measure of my offending meted 
out to me. I deserve what I have got. She ought to 
hate me." 

"Owen, she doesn't know. I tell you this, as it may 
make you happier. I never told her I was afraid 
of breaking her heart. She still thinks you are true 
to her that you will return. I deceived her for her 
own sake." 

There was a pause. Owen turned his head upon 
the pillow his brain was slow to absorb Robin's 

"Is this true?" he murmured faintly. 

"It is God's truth! Lavender loves you believes 
in you." 

"Then she need never know. She will mourn for me 


without knowing me for the scoundrel I am. Robin, 
how can I thank you?" 

He lay quite still for a few minutes, but his lips 
moved, and Robin, bending over him, could distin- 
guish a few words of what he muttered. It seemed 
as if his mind was wandering. His eyes were closed. 

"The statue in the wood the old legend we looked 
upon it together when we plighted troth when we 
first kissed. It was an evil omen she said so. And 
it has come about like the story. The lover was 
false but she never knew she never knew! Killed 
in a duel God! haven't I been fighting a duel with 
myself? She gazed upon his dead body let Lavender 
gaze upon mine ! But she never knew !" 

Presently Owen re-opened his eyes and spoke more 
normally. "You've been good to me, Robin, and I 
hope you may be repaid as you deserve. Teach Lav- 
ender to love you win her for yourself. She will 
turn to you in time, when she has ceased to mourn 
for one who was not worthy of her tears. But keep 
the truth from her to the end if you can." 

"Shall I send for her, Owen?" 

The dying man shook his head weakly. "Not till 
I am dead. Would you have her hear the name of 
Zelie upon my lips, meet Zelie herself, perhaps ? No" 
a smile parted his lips "let me die happy in the 
knowledge that my wife cares for me that she came 
when I called her that she will be here to-morrow 
for I'll live through the night, that my eyes may feast 
upon her face once more that she will be here to kiss 
me again before I go to the unknown. Ah! the kiss 
of Zelie the kiss of Zelie!" 

"God! may he die before dawn!" Robin breathed 
the prayer from the depth of his heart, breathed it for 
his dying friend's sake. 


And it was in the silent watches of the night that 
the end came. Owen was unconscious for hours be- 
fore he breathed his last. Robin hardly stirred from 
the bedside. 

There was no suffering. Owen seemed lost in a 
happy dream. There was a smile upon his lips as 
he babbled of bygone days, days when the world had 
smiled upon him, when the future was bright with 

And then it seemed as if Zelie came to him, as if 
she were stooping over him. Owen lifted his feeble 
arms and in imagination he seemed to be clasping her 
to his breast no doubt her lips were pressed to his 
and death bestowed upon him that which life had 
denied the kiss of Zelie. 

He died with that name upon his lips. 

"It is the end," said the sister. "The end is peace." 

Robin bowed his head, and tears brimmed in his 
eyes. "She has done her worst," he muttered. "The 
vampire woman has claimed her prey." 


THERE was an inquest, of course, but it revealed noth- 
ing of the inner tragedy of Owen Mayne's life. A 
comparatively unknown young artist had given way 
to the temptation of drink and drugs, and had thrown 
himself out of a window in an access of frenzy that 
was all that the world need know. 

That he was scarred by the panther's claw, that it 
was his wild, insatiable passion for Zelie which had led 
to his death that she was actually his wife besides 
Zelie herself, who naturally maintained silence, Robin 
was the only living being acquainted with the actual 
facts. And dearly as he would have loved to hold this 
"snake woman" up to public ignominy, he held his 
tongue for Lavender's sake. 

Had he been able, he would have spared her the 
knowledge of Owen's fall into evil habits as well 
the degrading circumstances of his death. He would 
have played his drama of kindly deception to the end. 
But the publicity of the inquest prevented this. Lav- 
ender was bound to learn that the man she loved, and 
whom she believed to have been working to gain an 
honourable position for her sake, had given himself 
up to the craving for insidious poisons. 

But beyond this her knowledge did not extend. 
Robin saw to it that Lavender should not suspect her 
dead lover of further deception. For this purpose he 
actually travelled to Paris, telling Lavender that the 
journey was necessary for the settling of Owen's af- 
fairs. He returned with a glowing account of the 
work wholly imaginary which Owen was supposed 



to have accomplished, and he expended all his ready 
money in hunting up and purchasing some of the 
signed sketches and pictures which his late friend had 
disposed of, and these he brought back to Lavender 
in proof of his assertion. 

The girl never doubted the genuineness of the let- 
ters she had received. By a fortuitous circumstance, 
Owen had only just moved into the rooms where he 
met with his death, and no reference was made at the 
inquest as to where he had lived prior to this. Also 
Robin in his letters had always represented Owen as 
journeying frequently to and fro between Paris and 

Lavender was prostrated with grief, and for some 
days after the funeral, a quiet funeral, at which there 
were no other mourners than herself and Robin, she 
was in danger of falling seriously ill. For as long as 
he lived Robin would never forget the scene when 
the girl, summoned to London by telegram, stood at 
the bedside of the dead man and gazed dry-eyed upon 
the face that had regained its beauty in death. He 
had heard the legend of the statue in the wood, and 
had understood Owen's allusion to it. 

"She never knew that her lover was false." The 
words impressed themselves upon his brain as he 
marked the horror and despair, the sense of irremedi- 
able loss, which the girl's eyes expressed. 

"How she loved him!" Robin felt then, more than 
ever before, the hopelessness of his own love. And 
there would be no more letters to write never again 
could he pour out his soul in those passionate effusions 
which had become so strangely dear to him. 

A week after the funeral Mrs. Foxhall took Lav- 
ender back to Selwood. It was then that Robin went 
to Paris, where he stayed some eight days. Upon 


the day of his return to London he had travelled by 
night he met Lord Martyn in Piccadilly. 

They lunched together at a club. Robin marvelled 
at the change which had come over his companion. 
Martyn had the appearance of a man who had suf- 
fered some deep and abiding sorrow. He had lost 
his easy cynicism, his nonchalant laissez-aller of man- 
ner. He sat with his broad shoulders hunched, and 
his cheeks were sallow as if his splendid health had 
given way. He ate but sparingly. 

He questioned Robin about Owen's death. "I have 
my suspicions that he, too, may have been a victim 
of that worker of evil, Zelie. She first came to Eng- 
land looking for him. I saw them together at Selwood. 
Am I right, Clithero?" 

Robin admitted the fact without revealing the secret 
of the actual relationship. "She killed him," he said 
between his clenched teeth. "But Miss Percivale 
doesn't know this I trust she never may." 

"Another victim of the panther!" Martyn rested 
his head wearily upon his hand. "Another death to 
my score for I feel myself responsible for all this, 
Clithero. It was I who set the wild beast free, to tear 
and rend and devour. Where will it end God ! where 
will it end?" 

His burden was heavy upon him. Robin, who did 
not know the full intensity of that burden, could find 
no words of comfort. 

"Do you know what she has done?" Martyn leant 
forward over the table, speaking with the utmost in- 
tensity. He had endured his sorrow in silence so long 
it was a relief to pour out his soul to sympathetic 
ears. "There is one being in the world I love my 
god-daughter, Lady Beatrice Clewer. You know her. 
She was engaged to a man whom she loves, and who 


loves her Donald Ransom. I'll swear that he loves 
her still, in spite of all. But Zelie has infatuated him 
has made him false to his vows. He has broken 
the engagement definitely, alleging some feeble excuse 
a silly letter or so which Beatrice penned to another 
man when she was little more than a child just a 
schoolgirl freak. The letters were brought to him 
by a blackmailer instigated, I'll swear, by Zelie her- 
self. And now I've only heard it to-day Donald 
has declared his intention of making Zelie his wife! 
Think of it ! My God ! It will break Beatrice's heart !" 

Lord Martyn broke off, and there was a hoarse 
sound in his throat that was like a groan. He was 
suffering suffering acutely his brain on the rack. 

"And I can do nothing nothing," he resumed. 
"That's the hell into which I have been thrust my 
punishment. I, who set the panther free, must stand 
by and watch while the living, bleeding hearts are 
torn from the breasts of those I care for. Stephen 
Aldis he was my friend Mayne, too and there is 
poor Cecily Cuthbert languishing in prison, a self- 
avowed murderess. They say that her mind is giving 
way. Beatrice this trouble will kill her, I tell you 
and Donald he is not to blame because he has fallen 
prey to an enchantress but she will throw him over 
when she has tired of him, or if she holds him to her 
if she really loves, as she pretends, it will be worse 
for him, far worse. His fate is sealed. But Zelie 
goes on triumphing, battening on the blood of her vic- 
tims, and I I am powerless!" 

Lord Martyn gulped down a glass of brandy which 
he had ordered, and which had just been set before 
him. It was the mellowest "fine champagne" a 
brandy that was the boast of the club and at ordinary 
times Martyn would have sipped it delicately, enjoy- 


ing its bouquet and rare savour with the palate of a 
connoisseur, but now it was not the taste of it that he 
required it was because his nerves were unstrung, 
and all on edge, that he committed what he himself 
a short while ago would have been the first to con- 
demn as little less than a crime. 

He found a sympathetic listener in Robin Robin 
who hated Zelie as much as it was in his power to 
hate any living being. And Martyn grew calmer after 
a few moments, something of his old mastery, his dis- 
dain of difficulties, returning to him. Had he not 
fought his way through life when there were over- 
whelming odds against him, so should he acknowledge 
himself beaten now beaten by a woman ? 

"Thank heaven, the season is at an end, and Zelie 
is going away to America. Let them keep her there. 
The British public is fickle, and there will be a new 
favourite by the winter. I'll see to that myself. I'll 
crush this monster I let loose I'll crush her yet !" 

He struck the table with his clenched fists large, 
powerful fists so that the glass rattled. "I'll drive 
her back to the gutter!" he declared. 

Robin, having been away in Paris, was not ac- 
quainted with all that had happened during his ab- 
sence. He had been too busy to study the English 
newspapers. So it was now, from Lord Martyn's lips, 
that he learned the final result of the trial of Bibi 
Coupe-vide. Bibi had been found not guilty, and dis- 
charged. It was shown without a doubt that the knife 
with which Aldis had been killed was the property of 
Cecily Cuthbert. The story she told against herself 
was further corroborated by the discovery of blood- 
stains upon the gown she had worn that fatal night, 
and by her wild demeanour when she was seen rush- 
ing back to the house and locking herself in her room 


at a time which tallied exactly with that which the 
police and the doctors had set down allowing for 
her flight from the summer-house after the committal 
of the crime. 

And she persisted in the truth of her self-condemna- 
tion. "I was mad with jealousy," she declared. "I 
loved Stephen Aldis, and believed that he loved me, 
too. He was always good to me. Then came that 
witch Zelie and won him from me. There were 
passionate scenes, and Stephen cast me off. I goaded 
him to fury I know it. Then some evil spirit awoke 
within me, and I vowed that no other woman should 
know the kisses of his lips. The sight of Zelie drove 
me mad, for I hated her oh ! how I hated her ! That 
night in the arbour I thought I had won Stephen 
back but I hadn't he had been drinking, and he in- 
sulted me he didn't know what he said. I ran away, 
sobbing, but I lurked close by. And then came Zelie 
I saw them together. I saw him take her in his 
arms I saw him stoop to kiss her my blood was on 
fire. She tore herself away I think she laughed 
and he stood there at the door of the arbour alone. 
I pressed my hands to my breast, and I felt the handle 
of the knife I don't know why it was there, but I 
think I had some idea of killing myself if Stephen 
was cruel to me that night. And then a mist came 
before my eyes, and something within me said, 'Strike ! 
strike!' I couldn't resist it I struck the blow fell 
before he even realised that I was there and it was 
just as if the dagger sunk into my own heart. Then 
I heard footsteps, and I fled back madly to the house." 

Zelie herself was called, and corroborated this state- 
ment, so far as her own presence in the summer-house 
was concerned. She had wandered into the garden 
with a friend the now deceased Owen Mayne and 


had sent him back to the castle for a wrap. While 
waiting for him she had accidentally found her way 
to the arbour and had been surprised there by Stephen 
Aldis, who had attempted to kiss her. He had been 
drinking, and she was afraid of him. She had con- 
trived to free herself from him and had run away. 
She knew nothing of what happened after that. It 
was not true that she had ever wilfully sought to win 
the actor's affection; she had merely regarded him 
as a friend; in fact, their acquaintance had been of 
very short duration. 

Upon this evidence there was nothing 'for it but to 
acquit Bibi, and acquitted he accordingly was. Cecily 
Cuthbert was put back to stand her trial for the mur- 
der of Stephen Aldis, but it was now reported that 
she had broken down and showed signs of an unhinged 

And to Zelie it had meant nothing but advertise- 
ment. She had committed no act for which the public 
could condemn her. On the contrary, they flocked 
to see her, and the Star Theatre was reaping a harvest 
such as it had never known. 

"Radcliffe chuckles whenever we meet," said Mar- 
tyn between his clenched teeth, "and blesses me by all 
his gods. And do you know what he has done now? 
He has engaged Bibi to dance with Zelie for the last 
week of the season. They start to-night. I under- 
stand the demand for seats has been enormous, past 
all precedent. It is hateful, hideous beyond words; 
but Radcliffe knows his business, which means that 
he knows the world." 

A little later, as the two men sat in the smoking- 
room, with coffee and cigars, a telegram was brought 
to Lord Martyn. His cheeks, sallow already, paled 
as he read the missive. 


"It is from Lady Beatrice," he said. "She begs me 
to come to her at once. I I'm afraid there's some- 
thing wrong, Clithero." 

He pushed back his chair, and rose. His fingers 
kept closing and unclosing upon the pink paper. He 
forced a smile. "Of course it must be all right," he 
muttered ; "why, she's sent the telegram herself. For- 
give me, Clithero, I'm nervous to-day out of sorts. 
But you'll excuse me if I leave you? I'm glad we met 
and have had a talk." 

They passed out into the street together. Here 
Martyn hailed a taxi-cab, gave a hurried direction 
to the driver, shook Robin's hand, and was gone. 

Robin had business of his own to attend to, busi- 
ness which occupied him the best part of the afternoon. 
It was eight o'clock before he returned to the rooms 
in the neighbourhood of Russell Square, where he 
always stayed when in town. 

He had been making his preparations for leaving 
England once and for ever. He was quite sure that 
it was wisest for him to do so. To live on at Selwood 
was an impossibility he would have no rest, no ease 
of mind, while seeing Lavender day after day. Life 
would be one long torture for him. He had performed 
his duty and now he must do his utmost to forget. 
Let him go back to the memory of his dead love 
the love of that sweet ghost who had been his con- 
stant companion till he met Lavender when she had 
left him, as it seemed to Robin, with a faint kiss upon 
his brow, as though she were content. And yet that 
was a mistake for there could be no warm, living 
love for Robin. Yes, he must go away. 

He ordered some dinner anything that was going 
it didn't matter. The dinner was brought to him, 
together with a letter. The letter was from Lavender, 


and as Robin read it he breathed hard, and deep colour 
mantled his cheeks. He pushed his food away almost 

Lavender wanted him. That was the purport of 
her letter. She had heard from his landlady at the 
cottage that he meditated leaving Selwood altogether. 
Why should he do so? Why should he want to take 
himself out of her life she was so alone and friend- 
less? She begged him in pretty phrases, which evi- 
dently came straight from her sad heart, to reconsider 
his decision. 

And after this there could be no hesitation on 
Robin's part. Lavender wanted him that was enough. 
"Go to her!" he cried fervently. "Of course I'll go 
to her I won't wait. I'll go back to Selwood to- 

His cheeks burned, the blood seemed on fire in his 
veins. He clasped his hands in the attitude of prayer. 
"Oh! my love!" he cried, "if you could but love me, 
too not of the fullness of your heart I don't ask 
for that which you could never bestow again but 
of your sympathy and kindness because I, like your- 
self, have loved and lost!" 

Then, as he spoke the words aloud, it seemed to 
him as if that gentle spirit, whose face was like the 
face of Lavender, came back once more, bent over 
him, and whispered in his ear whispered of hope and 
courage and love. "Be of good heart go to her 
she wants you." 

And so Robin set himself to write a letter to Lav- 
ender in which he told her that he would return to 
Selwood no later than the next day, and his pen 
seemed to glide over the paper, words formed them- 
selves, and he found an eloquence of phrasing of which 
he could hardly have believed himself capable. 


This was the first letter that he had ever written 
in his own name to Lavender. How glad he was that 
he had taken the precaution to disguise his handwrit- 
ing when he penned those missives which professed 
to come from Owen! 

He took the letter to the post himself, and when 
he returned it was to find a visitor awaiting him. 
Lord Martyn, his face pallid and white as the dead, 
rose from a chair as Robin entered his sitting-room, 
and tottered rather than walked towards him. 

"She's dead, Clithero !" Martyn gasped. "My sweet, 
innocent child, my Beatrice! She has fallen victim, 
too! Dead dead dead!" The words came in a de- 
spairing wail. 

"My God, man! Is it true?" Robin's own happi- 
ness was thrust aside. He was all sympathy for the 
sorrow of his friend. 

"True? Yes, it's true. She took poison after send- 
ing that telegram to me. She had been in a morbid, 
melancholic condition for days. I was afraid for 
her, but her stepmother didn't seem to realise the 
danger. Plenty of marriages get broken off, she said, 
and girls don't die of broken hearts nowadays. But 
they do, they may kill themselves. Clithero, she died 
at once she was dead before I reached the house." 

The strong man sank down into a chair and hid 
his face in his hands. His agony was appalling to 
witness. Sobs shook his heavy frame. The claws of 
the panther were at his heart. 

At last he lifted his head. "You wonder to see 
me suffering like this?" he muttered. "Clithero, I'll 
tell you the truth a secret that has never been 
breathed to living soul. Beatrice was my daughter 
my own child!" 


BIBI COUPE-VIDE, attired in the conventional Apache 
costume, ready to go on the stage, confronted Zelie 
with sombre, menacing eyes. He had forced his pres- 
ence upon her as she herself completed her theatre 

"Is this true what I have been told of you, Zelie, 
ma gosse?" he inquired. "I want to know." 

"What?" She turned with an impatient gesture. 
She was busy painting her lips. 

"That you are going to marry an Englishman 
this Sir Donald Ransom, whom I have seen you with? 
He brought you to the theatre to-night. He kissed 
you at the stage door. I saw it yes, with my own 
eyes I saw it." 

Zelie shrugged her shoulders. She did not wish to 
be bothered. It was not by her desire that Bibi was 
dancing at the Star Theatre that night. Indeed, after 
his acquittal, she had done her utmost to induce him 
to leave the country. She had, as usual, been gen- 
erous with promises which she had no intention of 
keeping. She had given him money almost lavishly 
as an inducement, and as a sort of indication of 
what she would do in that indefinite future when she 
and her petit homme the endearing term which still 
came easily to her lips should be reunited. 

Bibi had taken the gold, and seemed disposed to 
fall in with her proposals. He was sick of England 
a dirty country, where innocent men, like himself, 



could be thrown into prison, and even be threatened 
with their lives. Then he had had trouble with Al- 
phonse Lereux, who, it appeared, had made free with 
the remaining two incriminating letters which Bibi 
had looked to for putting himself in funds. Lereux 
had taken the high hand, threatening certain revela- 
tions concerning a violent assault upon a night porter 
at the Northumberland Hotel, revelations which might 
send Bibi back to the prison from which he had come 
and Bibi had had quite enough of that prison. 

So Bibi would have returned quietly to Paris had 
not Mr. Radcliffe appeared upon the scene with the 
offer of a brief engagement at the Star Theatre at a 
salary which was quite sufficient to ensure an imme- 
diate acceptance. Zelie had objected, but her greedy 
soul yielded to the inducement of a proportionate in- 
crease to her own salary. It really didn't matter 
very much that Bibi should remain in London for an- 
other week. 

Nevertheless, in her heart of hearts Zelie wished 
that Bibi had been convicted and hanged. Then he 
would have been out of her way once and for all, 
cleared from her path as Owen Mayne already was. 

It was quite true that she had promised to marry 
Sir Donald Ransom. She was free to do so now. He 
was infatuated with her, and for her sake had thrown 
honour to the winds. But this had not been without 
a struggle on Zelie's part. For the first time in her 
life she really loved the handsome young explorer 
had touched her heart as no other man had ever been 
able to touch it. She had made up her mind to win 
him for herself alone, and had deliberately set about 
doing so. She was utterly callous as to the pain she 
might inflict upon Lady Beatrice; what did Lady 
Beatrice or any woman matter to her? The only 


impelling factor in Zelie's breast was the primitive in- 
stinct of fighting for what she herself desired. And 
Sir Donald, a strong man among men, had been wax 
in the hands of the enchantress, woman. 

And now Bibi was manifesting an inclination to 
make himself a nuisance. It was that jealousy of his 
that peculiar description of jealousy which is typi- 
cal of his kind. Your Apache does not mind "affairs" 
intrigues in which his womankind are concerned, 
for they are likely to be remunerative to himself, but 
there must be no talk of love, the "affair" must not 
be one of the heart. Therein lies the distinction, the 
one point that counts. 

Zelie had vowed to Bibi that love had played no 
part, should play no part in her schemes, and he had 
believed her. To whatever height she may have raised 
herself she was still la gosse a Bibi! Or so he had 
believed until that day, when some French employe 
at the theatre had told him of the rumour that the 
dancing girl was going to marry the handsome Eng- 
lishman who occupied a stage-box every night that 
she performed, and with whom one could tell it from 
the way she looked at him she was madly in love. 
Bibi had watched for himself after that, and he had 
seen enough to make his heart beat wrathfully within 

Hence he had confronted her with a direct accusa- 
tion. And now Zelie only shrugged her shoulders and 
regarded him scornfully. There was a smile of disdain 
upon her painted lips. 

She was not going to take the trouble to lie to him 
any more. She was filled that night with a sense of 
delirious elation, of realised power. For Donald had 
yielded to all that she desired ; he had inserted a notice 
in the papers that his engagement to Lady Beatrice 


Clewer was definitely at an end. And she, on her 
side, was ready to repay him at last for the sacri- 
fices he had made on her behalf. She had whispered 
her promise in his ear that evening when he left her 
at the stage-door a promise ratified by a kiss, that 
kiss of which Bibi Coupe-vide had been witness. 

Why should she worry her head about such scum 
as Bibi at such a time? Let him have the truth, since 
he forced her to speak. She was proud of the avowal. 

"Answer me," he said roughly, taking a step for- 

Zelie drew herself up, and Bibi was constrained to 
realise that this was not the same Zelie whom, at one 
time, he had been able to bully after the manner of his 
class who expected nothing better. He was thick- 
skinned, had all the brutality of his ignorance, but her 
scorn lashed him till he writhed. 

"Flf answer you fast enough," she retorted. "Don't 
think that I'm afraid. You dare not strike me now 
as you did in the past. I'd have you taken by your 
shoulders and thrown out into the street. I have but 
to ring the bell" she stretched out her hand and 
touched it "and they would come at once." 

Bibi's eyes contracted to mere slits, but he made no 
further threatening gesture. "Go on !" he growled. 

"You ask me if I am going to marry this English- 
man," Zelie resumed, "and I answer 'Yes.' Why am 
I going to marry him? Because I love him." She 
rested her hands on her hips, and her black eyes 
sparkled and glowed. "Do I speak clearly? Do you 
understand me? It's because I love him. I shall give 
myself to him for love. And the blood is dancing in 
my veins my senses are on fire because I am long- 
ing for his kisses on my lips. You saw him kiss them 
but he shall kiss again when you do not see soon 


very soon not the kiss that a man gives a woman in 
the street at the stage door, as you saw it ah! no. 
There, have I said enough?" 

She was speaking to wound, to sting. She had for- 
gotten her discretion the need for it with such a man 
as Bibi Coupe-vide. Love was new to her real love 
and to her savage, untamed nature it seemed right 
to proclaim her love, to make no secret of it. Besides, 
Bibi had goaded her to the avowal by the very ab- 
surdity of his claims upon her Bibi Coupe-vide and 
Sir Donald Ransom, could they be mentioned together 
in the same breath? 

Bibi recoiled, and his head seemed to sink between 
his shoulders. "You mean that? It's true?" 

"Why should I say it if it were not true?" 

"Then you lied to me when you spoke of our being 
united again in Paris one day?" 

"Yes, I lied to you." Zelie spoke with insolent care- 
lessness. "After this week, when your engagement 
ends, I hope I may never look upon your ugly face 
again. I loathe the sight of it ! I hate you !" 

Bibzi crouched, and for a moment he appeared like 
a wild beast about to spring. Zelie's hand went to the 
bell. There was a look in Bibi's eyes which, despite 
her arrogant elation of spirit, sent a cold shudder down 
her spine. She wished that she had been more dis- 
creet ; this man, like all his sex, might have been quite 
easily managed if she had gone the right way about it. 

Her dresser appeared almost immediately. Bibi 
pulled himself together, standing in his usual slouch- 
ing attitude. The scowl upon his face appeared natural 
to him. 

"You must go now, mon ami," said Zelie in a suave 
tone of voice. "I must finish my toilette. We meet 
again upon the stage." 


"Yes, we meet again," mumbled the man. He re- 
garded her for a moment from under his dark brows, 
then without another word he shuffled from the room. 

In the meanwhile, Robin Clithero and Lord Mar- 
tyn were making their way to the Star Theatre. Zelie 
did not appear till about half-past ten o'clock, and 
it yet wanted a quarter of an hour to that time. Mar- 
tyn had declared his intention of standing up and pub- 
licly denouncing the dancer, and nothing that Robin 
could say would make him swerve from this decision. 
So Robin had quickly decided to stand by his friend 
and support him through the inevitable scene that must 

It was madness sheer madness, of course but 
Robin understood the state of mind into which Martyn 
had been thrown. The secret, so long kept, had been 
revealed to him. Lady Beatrice Clewer, lying dead by 
her own hand, was Martyn's child, his daughter. 

The story was a romance, and it was told in broken 
tones, so that Robin had to exercise his intellect to 
put two and two together. He gathered, however, 
that Beatrice's mother was not in reality the wife of 
the Earl of Albyn as Beatrice and the earl himself 
had always supposed nor had the earl ever had a 
living child of his own. 

Beatrice was the daughter of Lord Martyn and of 
a beautiful French girl, whose station in life was so 
high that any alliance between her and the young Eng- 
lishman, who had not then succeeded to the title, nor 
had any expectation of doing so, was utterly out of 
the question. Fondly as they loved each other, they 
might not marry. Here was the beginning of Martyn's 
grudge against society against mankind at large. 

They loved in secret. Finally they agreed to elope 
together, disastrous as the consequences might be. 


There was a reason which made this course necessary. 
Unfortunately, Martyn was taken ill, and lay for many 
weeks at the point of death. His recovery was de- 
spaired of. 

While he lay helpless thus Beatrice made her ap- 
pearance in the world a child of sorrow, all the more 
so since her birth cost her mother's life. The tragedy 
had to be hushed up, and the question arose what was 
to be done with the waif of humanity that might 
threaten the good name of a distinguished .family. The 
mother was dead, the father not expected to recover. 

It happened that Lady Albyn had just given birth 
to a still-born daughter. The earl was away from 
home at the time. His passionate desire for a child 
was well known to the family to which Beatrice's 
mother belonged. They approached the countess with 
a scheme of substitution, a scheme that was eagerly 
accepted. There were but few who knew the facts, 
and they were bound to secrecy. 

Martyn himself would never have known of what 
had been done had not a hot-headed brother of the 
dead girl revealed the truth to the Englishman upon 
his recovery from his illness. A duel was the con- 
sequence a duel in which Martyn shot in the air, and 
himself received a wound which sent him back to his 
sick-bed for a further long period. Only his strength 
of constitution pulled him through for himself, he 
had no wish to live. He had grown to hate the world 
and his fellow-men. 

It was worse for him later on, when his health was 
restored to him. He could not claim his child as his 
own. For her own sake it was impossible. Why should 
she be branded all her life as a love-child? Further- 
more, the Earl of Albyn was Martyn's dearest friend 
at that time, and his joy and happiness over his sup- 


posed daughter were such that Martyn whose grudge 
was always against the race of mankind, not the indi- 
vidual could not find it in his heart to undeceive 

And so Lord Martyn accepted the ruling of fate, and 
became god-father no more to his own child. How 
often he had been tempted to open his arms to her 
and avow the truth, none but himself knew. His iron 
will and his interest in the girl's future had alone kept 
him silent. For, as it was, she had a splendid position 
and an honoured name ; what could he offer her in re- 
turn but disgrace? 

Such was Lord Martyn's story as it was revealed 
to Robin revealed under the stress of circumstances 
a secret that would remain a secret to the end, as 
far, at least, as Robin's fidelity was concerned. 

"I saw it once in a vision," groaned the unhappy 
man, "that the blow I must take against society would 
redound upon myself. Yet I went on I set the pan- 
ther free. And now the claws of the wild beast, wet 
as they are with my child's blood, are rending at my 
heart. But Zelie shall not exult" he raised his clasped 
hands above his head "I have spared her too long 
spared her because she is not a creature of to-day, and 
because I have said 'She does not know' ; but now 
my child's blood calls for vengeance God let me 
strike and die!" 

And so it was that, in spite of Robin's efforts to 
dissuade him, Martyn avowed his resolution of going 
to the theatre. And Robin, whose heart bled for his 
friend's desperation and despair, felt bound to accom- 
pany him. 

"I'm sorry, my lord," said the man at the box office, 
"but there isn't a seat to be had in the house." 

This was a matter of small importance to Martyn, 


who had free entry to any part of the theatre. "Never 
mind," he replied. Then he asked quickly, "Is Sir 
Donald Ransom here?" 

The clerk had no need to consult his lists. "You 
will find him in the stage-box, my lord," he replied. 
"But I'm afraid Mile. Zelie is half through her dan- 
cing," he added. "She came on a little earlier than 
usual to-night. However, the Danse du Neant is still 
to come." 

"We will find Sir Donald," said Martyn quickly. 
"The stage-box." There was a curiously strained in- 
flection in his voice as he spoke the words. "Nothing 
could be better." 

"Donald does not know yet," he whispered in 
Robin's ear as they moved away together. 

An attendant escorted them to the door of the 
box and tapped softly. A profound silence reigned 
throughout the theatre Zelie was dancing. 

After a moment the door was opened by Donald 
himself Robin could hear his muttered ejaculation of 
impatience at the disturbance. The vast auditorium 
was practically in complete darkness, and it was only 
by the light from the corridor without that the occu- 
pant of the box recognised his visitor. 

"Martyn Harry you !" 

There had, of course, been strained relationship be- 
tween the two. Lord Martyn had expostulated with 
Sir Donald upon his behaviour, at first gently, but later 
with heat. And the latter, conscious of being alto- 
gether in the wrong, despising himself at heart for 
his folly and cruelty, had borne reproaches ill he had 
found his only refuge in roughness and brutality. He 
had spoken harshly of Lady Beatrice what sort of 
wife would a girl make who was capable of penning 
love letters to a popular actor? And all the while he 


had known himself mean and cowardly his soul as 
well as his body was in the siren's grip. 

The attendant closed the door after Martyn, followed 
by Robin, had entered. There at the back of the box 
the darkness seemed almost profound. The orchestra 
was making soft, lilting music. Robin recognised the 
melody. He knew that Zelie had almost reached the 
end of that part of her performance which preceded 
the Danse du Neant. She was portraying the Eternal 
Temptress in the character of some Court beauty of 
the eighteenth century. He had only to advance to 
the front and glance to his left, where a ruddy glow 
indicated the stage, to see the dancer herself, to be 
so near to her that a spring and a few steps might 
place him by her side. It was the stage-box. 

Martyn and Sir Donald were standing confronting 
each other. The younger man was breathing heavily, 
wrathfully. The elder had gained a remarkable com- 
posure. His brain-storm seemed to have passed away 
now that he was about to carry out an indomitable 

"Donald, she is dead/' he said quietly. "You have 
killed her. Are you satisfied ?" 

"She? Who? In Heaven's name, what do you 
mean ?" Sir Donald fell back, the hands which he had 
raised in angry protest dropping to his sides. 

"You know what I mean to whom I refer. Beatrice 
is dead. You have slain a pure, sweet girl, crushed 
the life out of a loving heart for the sake of that! 
Look, man ! Look !" 

Martyn's heavy hand dropped on the young man's 
shoulder, thrusting him forward to the front of the 
box. The stage was in full view now. They stood in 
the light. 

"My God dead ! It's a lie it can't be true !" 


"Slain for that!" repeated Martyn, the weight of 
his hand growing heavier. 

The lilt of the music had changed to a wail now. 
Zelie stood in the centre of the stage, slim and lithe, 
her form but lightly covered with gauzy, filmy drapery 
for, save in the final dance, she still disdained elab- 
orate accessories of costume and scenery to indicate 
the particular epoch or character that she represented 
and in her hands, uplifted above her head, she held 
a cluster of red roses. Gradually the bare white arms 
were lowered until the flowers were on a level with 
her smiling, cruel mouth; then, as her lips touched 
them, the blossoms fell to pieces, scattering in a shower 
of scarlet petals to her feet. And it was as if every 
petal was a drop of blood. 

The curtain fell amid a storm of applause, but the 
theatre remained in darkness. Donald Ransom had 
sunk into a chair, his face buried in his hands. The 
quivering of his shoulders betokened the agony he 
endured. Once Robin caught the sound of a low moan. 
Lord Martyn stood silently by his side. He had the 
appearance of one who is waiting for the fulfilment 
of destiny. 

"Body and soul" Robin was muttering the words 
to himself as he gazed at his two companions "she 
destroys them body and soul." He was thinking of 
Harry Martyn as he had known him strong of body 
and spirit, steadfast of purpose a man whose nature 
it was to be unyielding to the end. "What I have 
done, I have done," was his motto. But Zelie had 
broken him he had repented him of the blow which he 
had struck against society repented because he him- 
self had been sorely smitten. The fineness of the man's 
character had been undermined Zelie had abased his 
spirit if she had had no dominion over his body. And 


how would he behave now now that personal grief 
had driven him to despair? Would his strength be 
restored to him for one brief moment even as to 
Samson after the shearing of his locks? 

And Donald Ransom, quivering there in a torment 
of self-reproach, freed for the time being from the 
spell of the enchantress what of him? The world 
had honoured him, he had held his head high and 
with cause he had never forfeited his self-respect 
till Zelie had obsessed him. But now he was like a 
whipped child, his very manhood seemed to have fallen 
from him, he was an object of scorn. 

"The vampire has absorbed his spirit as she has 
sucked his blood," Robin whispered to himself; "he 
will never lift his head again." 

And with the rest, the other victims of the Snake- 
woman, had it not been the same? Body and soul 
the worker of evil she had destroyed them all. 

"She is not fit to live !" Robin muttered. "Is there 
not one to slay the monster?" 

The curtain rose again. A burst of applause, which 
sounded strange and weird in the darkened house, her- 
alded the first appearance of Bibi Coupe-vide since his 
trial. The Danse du Neant had commenced. 

Robin had seen the dance many a time, and loathed 
it. He abhorred the slow, voluptuous waltz tune, the 
suggestive pauses, the sensual abandonment of music 
and gesture. Zelie, in her close-fitting black dress, a 
rose between her lips and at the side of her head, her 
hair parted and drawn back tightly over her ears, 
seemed to him a more wicked and ill-omened figure 
than when she appeared with the glamour of the past 
to leaven the vice which every step of her dancing 

And the evil of it all was more obvious to him now 


than ever before. Zelie and Bibi put a fierceness into 
their dancing which was terrifying in its intensity. 
There was not a member of the audience who did not 
hold his breath, spell-bound. When the man raised 
his fist it was as if every nerve in his body was a-tingle 
with the desire to strike indeed; one felt that he was 
dominated by but one idea to crush, subdue, or kill 
this piece of frail femininity that fell in voluptuous 
attitudes in his arms, only to withdraw, laughing, 
mocking, defiant. 

And Zelie her eyes shone as they had never shone 
before, her sharp white teeth flashed from behind 
straight red lips, and there were many who saw her 
dance that night who shuddered and turned away their 
heads as from the vision of something too intense for 
the understanding of merely human eyes. 

For how were they to know that here was hate 
most primitive of emotions lust, wrath unbridled all 
the evil passions that heart of man can conceive 
not merely portrayed by capable actors, but actually 
-existent? Zelie and Bibi were not acting every ges- 
ture, every movement of that wild dance was true 
,to one as to the other. To those who watched, it was 
art ; but to the man and woman upon the stage it was 
Astern reality. 

Now and again the lips of the dancers moved, and 
it was evident that they spoke together, though none 
might know the words that passed between them. Only 
Zelie laughed and mocked, and her eyes were like 
sparkling emeralds as now and again she turned them 
in the direction of the box which she knew and which 
Bibi knew to be occupied by her lover. In the gloom 
of the auditorium she could not see what was passing 
there, nor who stood by his side, nor how he sat hud- 
dled together in his chair, an abject figure of distress. 


And the more she mocked, the fiercer and more 
determined grew the face of her partner in the dance. 
Ugly and vile at the best of times, it was hideous now. 
Bibi Coupe-vide was animal as Zelie was animal, and 
the instincts of the beasts were running riot in their 
breasts. Once the man held the woman tightly to him, 
and his lips sought hers, while she stiffened her body 
in his embrace and thrust him from her with all her 
force ; then, when her resistance was overpowered, she 
struck him upon the cheek, struck him with her 
clenched fist. And the vast audience held its breath at 
this astounding demonstration of art. 

And so they swayed and swung, now in each other's 
arms, now apart, crouching as if preparing for a 
spring, for a fresh attack, and it was at one of these 
moments, when Zelie had been thrown to her knees 
close under her lover's box, that Robin noticed Lord 
Martyn raise his hand, and the light from the stage 
glinted for a moment upon the muzzle of a pistol. 

"My God ! Martyn ! What are you about to do?" 

Robin clasped his friend's arm, and the movement 
saved Zelie for the time being, for the next moment 
she had sprung back into Bibi's arms, and the pair 
were whirling round the stage in a frenzied waltz. 

Martyn turned furiously upon Robin. "Damn you, 
Clithero ! he muttered. "Why did you interfere with 
me? I would have shot her down then shot her as 
I'd shoot a mad dog! That's the way I propose to 
make public protest. But there's time yet they'll be 
apart again presently. I've only to wait." 

A few minutes earlier Robin had asked himself if 
there was no one to slay the beast. But now he had 
not thought of this! Yet, though he shuddered, he 
felt, in some vague, indescribable manner, that what 
Martyn was about to do, what he had come to the 


theatre with the fixed intention of doing", was really 
no more than might have been expected of the man 
so Samson, of the shorn head, had seized the pillar of 
the temple and overwhelmed his enemies. The world 
had no punishment to inflict upon Zelie, worker of 
evil, so he who gave her to the world must be the one 
to mete out the penalty she deserved. 

But it was murder murder! Robin stood in pain- 
ful suspense and hesitation. What was he to do? He 
could not allow Martyn to carry out his fell inten- 
tion. Should he give the alarm? Should he throw 
himself upon his friend and wrench the revolver from 
his hand? At any moment now the opportunity to 
shoot might present itself. 

Martyn did not seem to anticipate any further oppo- 
sition from Robin. He had taken up his position at 
the front of the box, and the hand that held the re- 
volver rested lightly upon the velvet-covered ledge. 
He was prepared. Donald Ransom saw nothing, real- 
ised nothing of what was about to happen he had 
lifted his head, and his bloodshot eyes were fixed upon 
the stage upon Zelie. 

"I must seize his arm again prevent him shoot- 
ing." So Robin muttered to himself. Then he, too, 
waited, watching. 

Suddenly it seemed to him as if the couple upon 
the stage were no longer dancing, but actually strug- 
gling with each other. If it were indeed art, then it 
was the very acme of realism. But presently his sus- 
picions were confirmed. Zelie gave vent to a loud cry : 

"Let me loose gredin rogue vagabond !" 

Bibi did not let her loose. With one arm he grasped 
her the tighter. Something flashed in his right .hand. 
Not a soul in that vast audience but held his breath, 
worked up to fever heat of excitement by the extraor- 


dinary performance upon the stage. From high up 
in the gallery someone ventured to applaud, to whistle 
an immediate cry of "hush!" followed this mani- 
festation of feeling. 

"He means it my God he means it !" The words 
escaped from Robin's lips, but they were drowned in 
a shriek from Zelie such a shriek as surely had never 
before been heard upon the stage of the Star Theatre. 

"He is killing me help murder !" 

The knife was lifted, and fell so swiftly that few in 
the audience witnessed the blow. Only Zelie staggered 
forward, then once more the arms of the man encir- 
cled her, and his lips were pressed against her lips 
as she reeled against him. For a few moments he 
upheld her, then she slipped from his grasp and fell 
to her knees. 

Applause broke forth from the greater part of the 
house, but there were some who hissed, and cried "It 
is too much !" while others stared at their friends and 
at the stage with blanched faces wondering, doubting, 

And very soon the ghastly truth became self-evident. 
Those in the front could see the life blood welling 
from Zelie's breast, staining her dress and the boards 
of the stage at her feet. At that moment Robin re- 
membered the shower of rose petals, and shuddered. 

Then, as Zelie collapsed, lying prone upon the 
ground, Bibi, still holding the fatal knife, bent over 
her and broke into a fit of sobbing, moaning as a wild 
animal may moan for its mate. He saw nothing of 
the great mass of people whom his act had thrown 
into wild confusion almost panic heard nothing of 
the frightened screams which went up from every side 
as women rushed for the doors, or fainted where they 


sat; knew nothing save that Zelie was dead, and by 
his hand. 

Donald Ransom sprang from the box to the stage. 
He rushed upon Bibi with clenched fists. He was 
followed by others. Then, swiftly, the curtain fell. 

Lord Martyn had dropped his revolver to the floor. 
He threw up his arms despairingly, then sank into a 

Robin laid his hand upon his shoulder. "Thank 
God!" he cried fervently. "You have been spared a 
crime !" 

Martyn broke into a wild laugh. "Spared a crime !" 
he exclaimed, and his tone was one of utter despair. 
"Is there no mercy in Heaven? I had asked but this 
that my hand might slay. But now even that has 
been taken from me. My daughter's blood has cried 
to me for vengeance in vain !" 

Sobs convulsed his frame; but as for Zelie, the 
Snake- woman, the worker of evil the curtain had 
fallen upon her for the last time. 



A 000778914 2